The cave was hidden deep in the hillside. It looked like a small room, with four upright walls, a low ceiling and a very uneven floor. The floor was uneven because there were many strange shapes lying all over the place. These shapes had been built up from tiny little pieces of rock piled one on top of each other and stuck together. They were big or small; tall or short; thin or fat; smooth or rough; wet or dry. They looked like candles or rockets or tall buildings seen from afar or upside-down carrots.

There were similar shapes hanging from above, where other tiny pieces of rock had been left behind on the ceiling.The tiny pieces of rock which had made all of these shapes had been carried into the cave by droplets of water. The water had found a way down into the hillside from the surface. It had slowly flowed through the narrow cracks in the rock. As it ran over the rock it rubbed away the softer parts and made the cracks wider. If this went on for a very long time the cracks were turned into passages. Where two passages met large caves were formed.

Into these caves and passages more drops of water continued to flow and gradually the ceiling, walls and the floor were decorated with the strange shapes; stalactites and stalagmites.
The stalactites on the ceiling, and the stalagmites on the floor, appeared in many colours. Different pieces of rock made different colours; red, green, orange, brown, blue, white, purple, grey and black. Those that had been dripped on recently were shiny and bright. Others were dry, and the colours were dull and pale.

line drawing showing stalactites and stalagmites

Outside the wind was howling and the rain fell heavily on the hillside. In the cave the air was very still and the silence was only broken by the sound of tiny drops of water falling to the floor. Suddenly there was a very loud crash, followed by a splintering sound, then silence once more. A long thin stalactite had fallen from the ceiling. It had become too big and heavy and could not hold on to the ceiling any longer. It now lay in many little pieces on the floor beneath where it had hung for so long.

The water continued to drip into the cave. The tiny broken pieces of the stalactite were slowly buried. The other shapes carried on building and the cave remained undisturbed until people and animals began using it as a shelter from the cold, wet weather outside in the years to come.



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