“I was knocked down and stunned,” he said to himself, at last. “I wonder what became of Stanislas. I hope he got away.
“This does not look like a prison. I should say that it was a cellar, in the house of one of the gang that set upon me. It is evident that someone has betrayed me, probably that Jew, Ben Soloman. What have they brought me here for? I wonder what are they going to do with me.”
His head, however, hurt him too much for him to continue the strain of thought, and, after a while, he dozed off to sleep. When he awoke, a faint light was streaming in through a slit, two or three inches wide, high up on the wall. He still felt faint and dizzy, from the effects of the blow. Parched with thirst, he tried to call out for water, but scarce a sound came from his lips.
Gradually, the room seemed to darken and become indistinct, and he again lapsed into insensibility. When he again became conscious, someone was pouring water between his lips, and he heard a voice speaking loudly and angrily. He had picked up a few words of Polish from Stanislas—the names of common things, the words to use in case he lost his way, how to ask for food and for stabling for a horse, but he was unable to understand what was said. He judged, however, that someone was furiously upbraiding the man who was giving him water, for the latter now and then muttered excuses.
“He is blowing the fellow up, for having so nearly let me slip through their fingers,” he said to himself. “Probably they want to question me, and find out who I have been in communication with. They shall get nothing, at present, anyhow.”
He kept his eyes resolutely closed. Presently, he heard a door open, and another man come in. A few words were exchanged, and, this time, wine instead of water was poured down his throat. Then he was partly lifted up, and felt a cooling sensation at the back of his head. Some bandages were passed round it, and he was laid down again. There was some more conversation, then a door opened and two of the men went out; the third walked back to him, muttering angrily to himself.
Charlie felt sure that he had been moved from the place in which he had been the evening before. His bonds had been loosed, and he was lying on straw, and not on the bare ground. Opening his eyelids the slightest possible degree, he was confirmed in his belief, by seeing that there was much more light than could have entered the cellar. He dared not look farther, and, in a short time, fell into a far more refreshing sleep than that he before had.
The next time he woke his brain was clearer, though there was still a dull sense of pain where he had been struck. Without opening his eyes, he listened attentively. There was some sound of movement in the room, and, presently, he heard a faint regular breathing. This continued for some time, and he then heard a sort of grunt.
“He is asleep,” he said to himself, and, opening his eyes slightly looked round. He was in another chamber. It was grimy with dirt, and almost as unfurnished as the cellar, but there was a window through which the sun was streaming brightly. He, himself, lay upon a heap of straw. At the opposite side of the room was a similar heap, and upon this a man was sitting, leaning against the wall, with his chin dropped on his chest.