All of the “gentlemen kidnappers” were supplied with electric flash lights, with which they illuminated the cellar and revealed to their captives a hole three feet in diameter in the ground floor and seemingly a flight of steps leading downward.
“Don’t get scared, young ladies,” advised the “gentlemanly leader” of the “gentleman kidnappers” softly. “That hole is merely the mouth of an old coal mine. We will conduct you through the mine to the other end, which is concealed from public view at a distance, and there we will find four automobiles waiting for you. Lead the way, comrad kidnappers.”
The two head men descended into the hole, and the girls followed Indian file. The spokesman and one other man descended last as a rear guard. One of the men remained in the cellar with “Mrs. Eddy” and together they hurriedly replaced the old door over the mouth of the mine, shoveled some loose earth over this and then covered the earth with eight or ten thicknesses of scrap lumber loosely tossed in a heap.
Meanwhile the girls, guided by the lights ahead and aided by the two lights behind, which were directed helpfully along their path, made their way laboriously down the slope and along the many-angled gallery to the opening at the other side of Holly Hill, as the high, rounded elevation on and around which the city was built was called. Under different circumstances undoubtedly they would have been much interested in this experience as a subterranean exploration. And they had all the time they might need for such exploration, for the dusk of evening had not yet developed into darkness and they had to wait in the mine over an hour before it was deemed safe to venture out with the captives.
Near the opening at the foot of the bluff behind the abandoned flour mill, gags were tied tightly over the girls’ mouths and their hands were bound in front of them, and they were assisted one by one down a gradual, but rough, incline and into the waiting machines. Snow falling in millions of huge flakes, a fact that evidently caused the kidnappers more worry than the possibility of detection by persons in the vicinity, for remarks escaped some of them relative to the importance of haste before the roads became impassable to automobiles. But the storm served them one good purpose if it menaced them in another respect. It rendered the darkness of the night more impenetrable and kept the streets almost free of pedestrians. Moreover, the plotters were well supplied with means and methods of guarding against escape or rescue. The gags and cloth manacles were so well made that one might have suspected them of being products of a manual training school of burglars’ wives. During the passage from the mine to the automobiles each of the girls wore a shawl thrown over her head and pinned close in front, thus concealing both the gags and the manacled condition of their hands.
At last they were all in the machines, each of which was in charge of a driver. Three of the girls were put into each automobile and one of the men got in with them to see that their conduct was as per scheduled program. Then the start was made.