“And to think,” he said, finally, “that little messenger you saw going up just now was constructed of the very last fragment of the old balloon silk. I made a fire with flint and steel, filled it with hot air and sent it up with prayers, believing that it was my forlorn chance. And then I heard the exhaust of your motor. I feared my mind was giving way under the terrible strain. When I looked up and saw an aeroplane sail into view I fell down on my face, believing I had gone mad. But it was a blessed reality, thank God!”
Plans were soon under discussion looking to leaving the valley as soon as possible. About this time Andy happened to think of something and began to fumble at his pocket.
“Oh, how I hoped and prayed when I bought that, father, that I might have the happiness of seeing you smoke some of it,” he said, as he drew out a little packet of tobacco, on which the late prisoner pounced with all the delight of an inveterate user of the weed, who had long been deprived of a pleasure.
“I have been using dried leaves of a wild grape and some other things,” he admitted; “but after all they were only vile substitutes. It was thoughtful of you, my boy, to remember my weakness.”
And Andy snuggled up close to him as he commenced to puff at his pipe, using a match for the first time in many moons and smiling whimsically when he struck the same, as memory played queer pranks within.
Meanwhile Frank wandered around to survey the scene of the professor’s imprisonment and figure how they were ever going to get out with the aeroplane.
“What’s the hurry?” asked Andy, when once they began to talk over their plans for leaving the valley.
For once Frank agreed with his chum. They had plenty to eat along with them and it might be just as well to wait for another day. By that time all of them would have recovered to a great extent from the excitement that had told upon them, particularly the professor, none too strong.
So it was finally concluded to stay right where they were until another morning, when one at a time Frank would endeavor to convey them out of the valley, not daring to risk two passengers at once with such a poor field for the start.
The time passed quickly enough, for there were a thousand things to tell on both sides. The aeronaut described his accident and related how he had lived through all the dreary months that had gone. Fortunately there did not happen to be any fierce wild beasts in the cliff bordered valley, and while he had had adventures with venomous serpents, fortune had stood by him.
He showed numerous little contrivances by means of which he had secured game enough to supply his needs. There were nuts in abundance and some wild fruits which, as a scholar, he knew the value of.
Water could be had in plenty, as a lovely stream flowed through the valley, diving down at one end and vanishing in the rocks, to find an outlet such as the human prisoner prayed for daily in vain.