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The story involves a mine that uncovers a very deep chasm, too deep for any sounding lines to hit bottom. The night after the discovery of the abyss the narrator and one of the mine's workers, a Mexican called Juan Romero, venture inside the mine, drawn against their will by a mysterious rhythmical throbbing in the ground.
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Of the events which took place at the Norton Mine on October eighteenth and nineteenth, 1894, I have no desire to speak. A sense of duty to science is all that impels me to recall, in the last years of my life, scenes and happenings fraught with a terror doubly acute because I cannot wholly define it. But I believe that before I die I should tell what I know of the — shall I say transition — of Juan Romero.
My name and origin need not be related to posterity; in fact, I fancy it is better that they should not be, for when a man suddenly migrates to the States or the Colonies, he leaves his past behind him. Besides, what I once was is not in the least relevant to my narrative; save perhaps the fact that during my service in India I was more at home amongst white-bearded native teachers than amongst my brother-officers. I had delved not a little into odd Eastern lore when overtaken by the calamities which brought about my new life in America’s vast West — a life wherein I found it well to accept a name — my present one — which is very common and carries no meaning.
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