Finally my teeth met; the cords were severed. I felt carefully about with my tongue to make sure there were no others; then, without moving my hands in the slightest degree, carefully raised my head.
It was then that I first noticed—not light, but a thinning out of the darkness. It was, of course, merely the adjustment of my eyes to the new conditions. I could make out no forms surrounding me, but, looking down, I could clearly distinguish the outline of my hands as they lay on the ground before me.
And, again looking up, I fancied that I could see, some twenty or thirty feet to the right, that the darkness again became suddenly dense and impenetrable.
“That must be a wall,” I muttered, straining my eyes toward it.
“What’s that?” asked Harry sharply.
Obedient to my instructions, the lad had lain perfectly motionless and silent for over an hour, for it must have taken me at least that long to gnaw through the cords.
“I said that must be a wall. Look, Harry, about thirty feet to the right. Doesn’t it appear to you that way?”
“By Jove,” he exclaimed after a moment of silence, “it’s getting light! Look!”
I explained that, instead of “it’s getting light,” his eyes were merely becoming accustomed to the darkness.
“But what do you think of that? Is it a wall?”
After a moment’s silence he answered: “Ye-es,” and then more positively: “Yes. But what good does that do us?”
“That’s what I am about to tell you. Listen! I’ve cut the cords on my wrists, and I’m going to get my knife—”
“How the deuce did you manage that?” Harry interrupted.
“With my teeth. I’ve been rather busy. I’m going to get my knife—cautiously, so they won’t suspect if they are watching us. We must lie close together on our sides, facing each other, so I can cut the thongs on your wrists without being seen. Then you are to get your knife—carefully. Do you understand?”
For the first time there was fight in Harry’s voice; the curious, barely perceptible tremor of the man of courage.
“All right. Go easy.”
We went about the thing slowly, turning but an inch at a time; a second mistake might prove fatal. We heard no sound of any kind, and ten minutes later we were lying flat on our backs side by side, keeping our hands hidden between our bodies, that the absence of the thongs might not be discovered. Each of us held in his right hand the hilt of a six inch knife. Cold steel is by no means the favorite weapon of an American, but there are times—
“Have you got your knife, Harry?”
“Good! Now listen close and act quick. When I give the word reach down and grasp the cords round your ankles in your left hand, then cut them through with one stroke. Then to your feet; grasp my jacket, and together to the wall—that’s for our backs. And then—let ’em come!”