“And I can see but one desperate hope.”
“What is that?”
“To follow Bippo.”
“I agree with you again; let us make such a demonstration from the front that we shall be able to draw most of them there; then one of us will make a rush.”
“Why not both.”
“We shall fail; one must keep up the firing while they think both are at it, and then the other can make the attempt.”
“Very well; let me open here.”
“No; we will both do it; you know that this station is mine and as soon as there appears to be a chance, you can make the start.”
Now, both of the men believed in their hearts that if the desperate scheme could work, that the utmost it could do would be to save one: there could be no earthly chance for the other.
It was characteristic of the chivalrous friendship of each that he had fully determined that that forlorn opportunity should be given to the other.
But they understood their mutual natures too well to waste any words in argument, for neither would yield.
“Very well, Professor; we’ll draw lots.”
“I will agree to that.”
It was so dark in the room that they could not see each other, nor did either window afford light enough for their purpose.
Grimcke glanced out the door. No immediate movement seemed impending, and they moved to the fire-place. The Professor kicked some of the ashes aside and a tiny blaze arose, throwing a dull illumination over a few feet of the room.
The Professor drew an American coin from his pocket,—one that he had kept ever since entering South America.
“Now,” said he, placing both hands behind his back, “tell me which contains it.”
“The right,” said the New Englander.
“You have lost,” coolly replied the Professor, bringing the two hands quickly to the front and opening the palms.
Sure enough the coin was in the left, but the sly fellow did not confess that he had deftly changed it after his companion made his guess.
A DESPERATE SCHEME.
Not another word was said. The question had been submitted to the arbitrament of chance and the New Englander had lost, and that, too without any suspicion on his part of the little trick played upon him.
Before resorting to the last opportunity, Long slipped through the back room and ascertained the outlook there. He was surprised at the result. Hardly a native was visible. It looked indeed as if they were working their way round to the front, and that some scheme of attack had been agreed upon by the leaders from that point.
The Professor’s survey confirmed the theory of his friend. The Murhapas were more plentiful than ever. They appeared to be marshalling along the bank of the Xingu, where there were so many that it was impossible to count the heads and shoulders rising above the slope.