“Yes,” said the captain, “it is about time. How do you happen to be awake, Miss Markham? Ralph! I believe the boy is snoring.”
“Of course he is,” said Edna, speaking in a low voice. “We cannot expect such a boy to keep awake, and so I have been on watch. It was easy enough for me to keep my eyes open.”
“It is too bad,” said the captain, and then, listening for a moment, he said: “I truly believe that Maka is snoring, too, and as for that black fellow over there, I suspect that he sleeps all the time. Miss Markham, you have been the only person awake.”
“Why shouldn’t I be?” said she. “I am sure that a woman is just as good as a man for keeping watch.”
“If they should come,” thought the captain, as he again sat in the dark, “I must not try to fight them in the passage. That would have been my best chance, but now some of them might pick me off from behind. No, I must fight them in this chamber. I can put everybody else in the middle apartment. Perhaps before to-morrow night it might be well to bring some of those loose rocks here and build a barricade. I wish I had thought of that before.”
The captain sat and listened and thought. His listening brought him no return, and his thinking brought him too much. The most mournful ideas of what might happen if more than two or three of the desperadoes attacked the place crowded into his mind. If they came, they came to rob, and they were men who left behind them no living witnesses of their whereabouts or their crimes. And if two or three should come, and be repulsed, it would not be long before the rest would arrive. In fact, the only real hope they had was founded on the early return of Rynders—that is, if Rynders and his men were living.
The captain waited and listened, but nothing came but daylight. As soon as he was able to discern objects outside the opening on the plateau, he awoke Maka, and, leaving him on guard, he made his way to the lake cavern.
Here the light was beginning to come freely through the chasm which faced nearly east. Mok was sitting with his eyes open, and showed that he was alive by a little grunt when the captain approached. If there were such a thing here as a subterranean tide, it had not risen. There was no water where the lake had been.
Gazing across the empty basin, the captain felt a strong desire to go over, climb up to the opening, and discover whether or not the cavern was accessible on that side. It would be very important for him to know this, and it would not take long for him to make an investigation. One side of the rocky shelf which has been before mentioned sloped down to the lake, and the captain was just about to descend this when he heard a cry from the passage, and, at the same moment, a shout from Mok which seemed to be in answer to it. Instantly the captain turned and dashed into the passage, and, leaping over the barrier, found Maka standing near the entrance.