He came down slowly and stood for an instant on the cellar floor before looking around. When at last he saw the men asleep on the floor he muttered some jargon which Sandy could not understand and turned back to the ladder again.
Sandy believed that the man he saw was the only one the “pipe” had left on guard. If he could prevent him reaching the street, he might be able to get the other boys out of the trap in which they had been caught.
The Chinaman seemed large and strong, but Sandy would have taken even greater chances in order to convince the boys that he was not their enemy, so he sprang upon him. The struggle was a desperate one for a time, for Sandy was not very strong as compared with his opponent, and the man he was fighting with fought viciously.
Sandy did not dare cry out to the boys in the chamber for help, for that might bring other enemies into the fight. The only way seemed to be to conquer the Chinaman and then get the boys into the street as silently as possible. Once there, they would have little difficulty in making their way out of the city.
It is quite probable that Sandy would have come off second best in the encounter if Jack had not heard the racket the two made and came into the cellar with a bound. The two boys soon had the Chinaman down and well tied up.
“You’re a brick, Sandy,” Jack said, as the boys faced each other in the dim light. “While we sat in there waiting for some one to get us out, you got a move on and did something! Say,” he added, with a grin, “ain’t this tie-up game getting stale? Suppose we knock this fellow on the head? He may get away if we don’t. And these others? Think they are sufficiently soused with opium?”
“They won’t make any trouble for a long time,” Sandy answered. “It is a wonder they got into such a trance! There must have been something stronger than opium in their pipes.”
“Didn’t know there was anything meaner than opium,” Jack said.
“There is a drug that is used by old soaks after the poppy stuff gets too mild for them,” replied Sandy. “Perhaps these men got some of that. Keep quiet, boys!”
This last as Frank and Hans came through the tunnel and stood staring at the men on the floor and their chums.
“Who did it?” asked Frank.
“Sandy did it!” answered Jack. “Ain’t he the broth of a lad? Sure he’s the goods.”
“Perhaps we’d better be getting out,” Sandy observed. “I hear some one upstairs. They’re comin’ down here, too.”
WHY ESCAPE WAS SO EASY
As Sandy finished speaking two figures dropped down the ladder, not stopping to descend rung by rung. As they landed on the floor the boys sprang toward them, ready to make a battle for their liberty. Then came another surprise.
Instead of making hostile demonstrations, the two newcomers, Chinamen so far as appearances went, threw up their hands and dropped back against the wall. Then shouts of laughter echoed through the place.