“Now, mind you, young lady,” Bill warned significantly; “not a word or a wiggle out o’ the ordinary or you’ll get your final choke, and you know what that means.”
Yes, Helen knew, and she had no intention of futilely provoking a repetition of such punishment. She accompanied her captors submissively and was assisted into the machine. Then something happened which might almost be said to have delighted her if it were not for the strain of benumbing fear that was gripping her.
Jake went around in front of the machine to crank it. For one moment the strong acetylene light from one of the lamps fell full upon his face. Helen recognized it. Her surmise as to his identity was not a mistake.
A minute later the automobile was traveling at a high rate of speed over the streets. Ten minutes later it passed the city limits and was kicking the three inches of snow up along a country highway. On, on it sped, one mile, two miles, on, on, until the probable distance Helen was unable to conjecture, on, on, over smooth roads and rough roads, up hill and down hill, into the mountains. Then suddenly “Bill,” who sat in the seat beside her, pulled a light-weight muffler from his pocket and tied it over Helen’s eyes, saying coarsely:
“Not that I’m afraid you’ll do any mischief with those pretty eyes of yours, but we may as well guard against accidents. You couldn’t trace this route again, anyway, could you?”
Helen did not attempt to answer with either a shake or a nod of her head. She was disappointed at the act of her captor in blindfolding her, for she had been watching their course as closely as possible in order to photograph it upon her mind for future reference.
Jake was a good driver—that much must be said for him; and yet, after they struck the mountain road the progress was much slower. From the time when her eyes were bandaged, Helen’s only means of determining the character of the road over which they were traveling was the speed or slowness of the automobile. Nor could she compute satisfactorily the time that passed during the rest of the trip.
But it ended at last. The machine stopped, Helen knew not where, and she was assisted out by the two men, who led her, still blindfolded, along a fairly smooth trail, up the side of a mountain or steep hill, then along a fairly level stretch, until at last the prisoner knew that she was passing under a canopy or roof of some sort, for there was no snow under foot. Moreover their footfalls produced a sound, somewhat of the nature of a soft resonant reverberation of a million tiny echoes.
But presently they were out in the open again, as evidenced by the snow and the brisker atmosphere, and Helen shrewdly observed to herself:
“That was a tunnel, I bet anything.”
Two hundred feet farther up another gentle incline they reached a place of habitation and entered. Helen had no idea as to the appearance of the exterior, but when the bandage was removed from her eyes, and she was able to look about her, she made a clever surmise, not very far from the truth, that she was in a log cabin.