The Wizard of the Sea/Chapter 14

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CHAPTER XIV.

THE ATTACK.


How long he slept Mont did not know.

He woke first, and saw his companions snoring like those who are over-tired.

Nothing was changed in the apartment, except that the remains of the dinner had been removed.

It was with difficulty that he managed to breathe, and he guessed that he had consumed all the oxygen in his prison. His lungs were oppressed, and the heavy air was not sufficient for proper respiration.

While Mont was arranging his toilet a valve opened in the side of the room, and a fresh current of sea air swept into the cabin.

Evidently the vessel had ascended to the surface of the ocean and taken in a fresh supply of air.

The others, influenced by this invigorating atmosphere, woke up, and rubbing their eyes started to their feet.

Stump looked at Mont and asked if he had slept well.

"Pretty well. How are you, Mr. Professor?"

"I breathe the sea air, and I am content," answered Dr. Woddle. "How long have we slept? It must be four-and-twenty hours, at least, for I am hungry again; I cannot tell to a certainty, for my watch has stopped."

"There is one comfort," replied Mont, "we are not in the hands of cannibals, and we shall be well treated."

"I don't know about that," said Stump. "They've got no fresh meat on board; all they gave us yesterday was fishy stuff; and four fine, fat, healthy fellows——"

"Shut up, Stump," cried Mont; "how often am I to tell you to hold your tongue?"

"I know I'm only an odd boy, but——"

"Will you be quiet?" exclaimed our hero, taking up a stool threateningly.

"All right; I won't say anything more."

The doctor was very silent and thoughtful. Mont remarked this, and said:

"How long do you think they will keep us here?"

"I can't tell any more than you, Folsom," replied the professor.

"But what is your opinion?"

"Not a very encouraging one. We have by chance become possessed of an important secret. If the secret is worth more than our lives, we shall either be killed or kept prisoners."

"Forever?"

"Yes, forever," answered the professor gravely. "If the secret is not very serious, we may be landed on some island. I advise that we remain perfectly quiet and take things as they come."

"May I say a word?" exclaimed Stump.

"Well?" asked Mont.

"I'll get out of this."

"How? It is difficult to break out of a prison on earth, but to get out of one under the sea is impossible."

"Suppose we kill our jailers and take the key? If four Americans aren't a match for a lot of niggers, and one Unknown who can't speak any language, and doesn't belong to any country at all, it's time we shut up shop!" went on Stump.

At that moment the door opened, and the negro who had before appeared entered.

Stump instantly threw himself upon him, and, seizing his throat with his two hands, held him so tightly as almost to strangle him.

But being a powerful man, he soon disengaged himself, and a fearful struggle ensued between them.

"Help, help!" cried the negro, in excellent English.

Stump let go his hold at this, and fell back laughing.

"So you can talk English!" he cried; "that's all right. I only flew at you to see what countryman you were. Now, then, tell us all about this ship, or I'll give you another dose."

Putting his finger to his lips, the negro gave a peculiar whistle—prolonged and shrill.

This was evidently a signal, for he had scarcely finished when the Unknown appeared on the threshold.

He was followed by six powerful negroes, all armed to the teeth.

It looked as if Mont and his friends were to be executed on the spot.