Military adventure taking place in South Africa:
He stepped back and began to tap the rough stone again to prove his words, every one now noticing that the rock gave out a dull, hollow tone; while, unable to contain himself, the prisoner, as he lay tightly bound upon his back, uttered a low, hissing sound as he drew in a deep breath.
“Here we are,” cried Lennox, more excited than ever. “Sergeant, give some one else that lantern; take a man with you up there by the gun, and bring back a crowbar or two, and one of the engineers’ picks.”
The men went off at once, and while the party awaited their return Lennox went on examining the rough block of granite by which he stood, but looked in vain for any sign of hinge or fastening.
“I hope you are right, Lennox,” said Captain Edwards, who had stepped to his side; and he spoke in a low voice.
“So do I,” was the reply; “but I feel sure that there is, for there must be a hiding-place somewhere. Wait a bit, and we shall capture the prisoner’s mate.”
Lennox involuntarily glanced down at where the carefully bound Boer lay with the light shining full upon his eyes, and he could not repress a start as he saw the malignant flash that seemed to dart from them into his own. It affected him so that he ceased his examination for the moment, waiting impatiently till the distant sound of steps announced the return of the sergeant and the man bearing the implements he had sought.
“Got the crowbar?” cried Lennox eagerly.
“Then bring it here. Thrust it in under the stone at this natural crevice.”
“Why?” said Captain Roby sharply.—“Here, sergeant, try higher up.”
But before the words were fully uttered the sergeant had driven the chisel-edge of the iron bar into the horizontal crevice about on a level with his knees, with the result that the men cheered so loudly that they drowned the angry curse which escaped the Boer’s lips. For, to the surprise of all, no sooner had the sergeant pressed down the wedged-in bar than it acted as a lever would, lifting one corner of the stone so that it slipped away, the great block turning easily upon a central pivot, and leaving an opening some four feet high and just wide enough for a man to pass through.
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