It was a truly horrible thought, and every one of the lads shivered. They looked at the torch, now burnt so low it was hard to hold, and then gazed at each other.
“Oh, Snap, we must find some way out!” faltered Giant. His voice shook so he could hardly speak.
“Yes, let us get out as soon as we can,” added Whopper.
They soon saw that what Snap had said was true—–there had been a heavy landslide and the hole beyond the cave was filled up completely. Through the loose rocks and dirt the water was trickling and soon formed a fair-sized stream that flowed over the cave floor and disappeared into a crevice at one side.
“Well, we can’t get out this way, that’s sure,” said Snap, after an examination. “We must find some other opening.”
They hurried around, bound to do what they could while the torch lasted. But soon the light flickered up and went out, leaving them in total darkness.
“Let us keep together,” said Shep. “It won’t do to get separated.”
All were willing to follow his advice, and they, slung their firearms over their backs and took hold of hands. Then they moved around the cave with caution.
“I see a light!” cried Whopper, when they had reached a far corner of the cave. “Look there!”
He pointed overhead. Sure enough there was a small hole. Through it ran a tiny stream of water.
“That hole won’t do us any good,” sighed Snap. “In the first place it is too small and in the second place it is out of our reach. We’ll have to find something better.”
They moved on, and after a long time had passed Giant found a slit between two rocks. They made an examination and found one of the rocks loose. They rolled it away and felt a rush of pure, wet air.
“Here’s an opening!” cried the small youth, enthusiastically. “Oh, if only we can make it large enough!”
“We must make it large enough!” cried Shep, and then all went to work with vigor, pulling back such rocks as they could move and digging at the dirt with their bare hands. They had to make a regular tunnel ten or more feet long and it took them over an hour to do it. Their arms and backs ached from the labor, and their hands were scratched and their finger nails torn, but to all this they paid no attention. Their sole thought was to get out of the cave that looked as if it might become their tomb.
At last the opening was large enough to admit of the passage of Whopper’s body and he passed to the outside. Then he dug from that end, and presently Shep came forth, followed by Giant and lastly by Snap.
“Thank heaven we are out of that!” murmured the doctor’s son, and his chums echoed his sentiment. Never had the outer world appeared so glorious to them. At that instant they were all ready to vow they would never enter a cave again.
It was still raining, and the day was fast drawing to a close. The lightning and thunder had passed away to the westward, but they knew the downfall would last at least an hour or so longer.