While the people of the castle were fighting or playing someone had to do the work. Someone had to grow the food, make the clothes, chop wood, cook and clean, and carry water. There wasn’t room for everybody inside the castle, and most of those who worked for the lord lived outside the castle walls.
The lord let them have enough food to stay alive and he tried to protect them from enemy lords. In return, men, women and children worked for the lord from early morning until sundown. At night they went to sleep in crowded little houses made of sticks and mud. To keep warm on cold night, the people and their farm animals sheep, goats, pigs, ducks and chickens all slept together on beds of leaves or straw.
Boys worked with their fathers in the field and forests. Girls helped their mother with the never-ending work in and around the castle. They scrubbed and scoured. They wove cloth and sewed. They patiently scraped the hair from animal skins to make clothing. Boys and girls didn’t go to school and very few could read or write.
We buy most of the things we need. But in those days people made most of what they needed. They made their own furniture, candles, toys. If they weren’t too tired after their day’s work they had fun singing and telling stories to each other. No radio, no TV and no movies!
Sometimes enemies came riding to attack the castle. The guard in the castle tower would blow his trumpet to let the castle lord and his knights know that danger was near. The drawbridge would be pulled up so that the enemy knights could not get inside the castle. Then the knights inside the castle would fight from the top of the high walls, shooting down arrows and spears and sometimes throwing down heavy rocks and hot water.
If they could not get inside the castle, then sooner or later the enemy lord and his knights would get tired of fighting and ride away. But before they went home, they often set fire to the homes and haystacks of the people who lived outside the castle walls and stole their animals.
Life was hard and dangerous for just about everybody in the old, once-upon-a-time days. It was bad enough for those who lived inside the castle. It was even worse for those who had to live outside.
The homemade sign was not very big. They went by it so fast that they would have misses it if it hadn’t been for bright-eyed Nina in the back seat of the family car. The sign read 2 miles to Harry’s Cave. “Harry’s Cave!” Nina shouted. “Hey, let’s stop!”
Her brother Sol squirmed in excitement. “How about it, Dad?You said we could visit a cave sometime on this trip.”
“Yes,” their father said,” but I’ve never heard of this one. Wouldn’t you rather see Mammoth Cave or Great Crystal Cave or one of the other famous ones?” “We don’t want to wait,” Nina said. “Let’s go while we’ve got the chance,” Sol said.
The children mother spotted the next sign. It pointed down a farmyard lane. The pleasant faced woman who came to the farmhouse door said,” I suppose you folks want to visit the cave.It’s two dollar for adults and one dollar for the children. Harry will guide you.A freckle faced boy about ten years old came out on the porch, letting the screen door slam behind them.
“I’m Harry,” he said. He was barefoot and wore old jeans, a blue shirt and miner’s cap with carbide lamp fitted to it.
“I’II hold the boat while everybody gets in,” Harry said. Sol looked puzzled. ” A boat ride? I thought we were going into a cave.Harry just smiled and poled the boat across the pond, And then they could see a dark hole in the rocky ledge under the hill. It was a hole big enough for boat to go through.
“Low bridge,” Harry said. Everybody duck.”
They bent their heads as the boat floated slowly into the dark mouth of the cave. Nina and Sol were a little but afraid until Harry clicked on the lamp in his cap. The boat moved silently the black water and they could see the walls of the underground passage pressing closely around them.
“Hey Sol cried,” this is better than a fun house! Where does it come out?” “It doesn’t,” Harry said
Pretty soon they saw what he meant. The water ended against the cave wall and the boat came to a sudden stop on a sandbar. Everybody go out. The light flickered on the rocky walls and ceiling of the underground room.
Harry nodded. “It’s easy to get lost in here. Passages go very which way. Some of them haven’t even been explored. But it’s safe as long as you stay close to me. I know the way. With his light making a bright path ahead, Harry turned into an underground passage that led from the room. Everybody followed him closely. The passage got narrower and narrower until finally there was so little room that everyone had to turn sideways to squeeze through.
“We call this place the Fatman’s Disappointment,” Harry said. “Get ready for a surprise.”
He took the dimly burning lamp from his cap and shook it until the flame burned brightly hot and white. Then he moved the lamp so that it swept the walls and ceiling with its broad beam of light.
They could hardly believe what they saw. They were standing in a big underground room as big as the inside of a church. Rock formations that looked like giant icicles hung from the high ceiling. More of the giant icicles stuck up into the air from the floor. In the lamplight they shimmered like wet silver and gold. Tiny rocks crystals in the walls and ceilings sparkled with the changing light.
“Like a billion diamonds! “Sol exclaimed. “That what we call this room,” Harry told him.” House of Diamonds.” “It’s like decorations on a cake,” Nina said. ” A giant cake all frosted and we’re inside it!” “Only we can’t eat it,” Sol said. “It’s rock.” ” I guess it can be anything you want it to be,” Harry said. “Some people think it looks like stars shining. Most of the caves have some of these crystal formations,” he added, but this is better than most.”
A waterfall splashed from the ceiling at the other end of the huge room, and the water trickled away into darkness. The group followed Harry as he moved along the edge of the stream. Their shadows loomed big and black on the glittering walls around them. Then they entered another long, twisting passage. Sometimes it was wide. Sometimes it was so narrow that they could touch both sides at once. At times the path went uphill..then down. In some places there was wet clay under their feet..in others, dry rock.
Sol stopped at the mouth of a narrow, black tunnel that Harry had passed. “Where does this go?” “I don’t know,” Harry answered. “It’s your cave,” Sol said. “Why don’t you?” “I’ll show you,” Harry came back and turned his light into the black passage. “Oh, boy!” Sol cried.
Most caves that are not near the ocean were made by water that wore away soft rock, such as limestone. The water above the ground sank down into the soft rock. The water sank until it reached harder rock and then flowed and trickled along without going any deeper.
Slowly, very slowly for millions of years the water wore away the soft rock and carried it along, making a small tunnel-like opening. As more and more soft rock was worn away, the opening grew wider and deeper. Now more and more water could flow into it. In time many of these openings became huge cave or caverns. Some of these underground streams flowing through the caves kept going until they emptied into the sea.
You might think that all caves that started out this way would be very much alike, but they aren’t. In some places the underground stream came to other soft spots. Then the water sank still deeper. These places became underground falls- with the water plunging and roaring into black holes or into another cave below. If the stream changed its direction or sank to new depths the cave it had run through became quite dry.
When the roof of a cave became very thin, it sometimes broke through making a canyon. Sometimes a small part of the roof did not break through with the rest. This left a natural bridge. Some caves have beautiful pillars that go from their roofs to their floors. These are made by water leaking into the cave. Each drop leaves a very tiny bit of calcium carbonate, a kind of rock on the ceiling of the cave. After thousands and thousands of years, an icicle shaped stalactite forms.
The water dripping to the floor of the cave contains small particles of solid stuff. It slowly builds up into a stalagmites which looks like and upside-down icicle. After thousands of years the stalactite and the stalagmite meet, forming a pillar. At first the pillar is very skinny, but the water keeps running down its sides making it larger and larger. As caves are carved out of the rock, brightly colored or clear crystals are often formed in the walls and ceiling. These add much to the beauty and excitement of cave trip.