HER DEBT CANCELED.
He begins to reason, to strain his mind in search of all the things he ever heard with relation to a meeting between unarmed men and wild beasts.
The power of the human eye has been held up as an example, and surely here is a chance to try it—the stake, his life.
By this time he becomes cognizant of a certain fact that renders him uneasy; the yellow orbs do not seem as far away as before, and it is evident that they approach gradually nearer.
He can even imagine the great body of the animal, perhaps a tiger from African shores, creeping on its belly, inch by inch shortening the distance between itself and its prey.
John cannot retreat—already he is in a corner, with the wall behind, so that all he can do is to await developments.
Nearer still, until scarcely five feet separate him from the glowing orbs, he can even hear the animal’s stentorian breathing.
John prepares for a terrible struggle; he holds his hands out so as to clutch the great beast by the throat as he advances, and his muscles are strained in order to sustain the shock.
Just when he expects to hear the roar of a hunger-stricken beast, he is astonished beyond measure at what occurs.
“Scat! you rascal!” exclaims a voice, and there is heard a great threshing sound, as though some one endeavors to intimidate by the swinging of arms as well as by sound.
“What! is that you, Professor Sharpe?” demands the doctor, amazed, delighted, not because he has a companion in misfortune, but on account of the dissipation of his fears respecting an assault.
In another minute the two are embracing; there is nothing like danger to bring men together and make them brothers.
There is strength in union, and both of them feel better since the meeting.
Of course their thoughts are wholly bent on escape, and the talk is of this. Sharpe has not been so thoroughly searched as his companion, and soon produces a few matches, with which they proceed to examine their dungeon.
It is a gloomy prospect.
The walls are heavy and of stone; there is no opening beyond a mere slit in the corner through which comes wafts of the sweet air without.
As to the door, it would withstand the assault of giants.
Hopeless indeed does it all appear, and yet little do we poor mortals know what the next minute may bring forth.
While they are seated there, seeking to cheer up each other, it is John’s keen ears that detect the presence of some one at the door.
This is not a new event that may be pregnant with hope—on the contrary, it is possibly the next downward step in the line of Pauline Potter’s revenge.
When the key turns in the lock, both men are on their feet ready to meet whatever may be in store for them.