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Tozan. He was watching him In
tently. "Where is Sophie?" groaned Ste
pan, writhing in his bonds.
Tozan laughed and pointed behind
"him. As Stepan turned his head a
muffled, choking Cry reached his
ars. He managed to twist far
enough to see Sophie, a gag over her
mouth, strapped to a chair against
the shaft of the elevator.
"Now, Stepan, listen," said Tozan,
smacking" his lips. "You stole Sophie
from me, and you are going to die,
you know. At first I thought that I
would spare you and kill the girl, be
cause you got me my job. But that
would be inconvenient, and so you
are both going to die together.
"At the top of the mine shaft, right
in the middle of the shaft, are a doz
en sticks of dynamite, suspended from
a cord, connecting with a time-fuse.
In fifteen minutes more the 'fire eats
through the time-fuse to the cord and
eats through the cord. The dyna
mite falls half a mile, vertically. It
falls on you, Stepan just between
you and Sophie Katlok " e
"You murderous snake!" yelled
Stepan, trying to make for him.
And suddenly he stopped dead, for
this time he had actually loosened a
loop of rope in his struggle, and it
was necessary not to let Tozan. know
this. He stopped still and waited.
"I shall watch from that rock, two
hundred feet above the bottom of the
shaft," continued Tozan. "The little
cave will protect me from any results
of the explosion. But I shall be high
enough to be out of danger, Stepan.
You will hear the dynamite shoot
down, and you will look up and see
it falling, and then it will drop
bang! between you two, and "
"Devil!" muttered Stepan, as To
zan took himself off. He watched him
scrambling like a goat up the craggy
sides, and as soon as he was out of
immediate hearing struggled furious
ly with his bonds. Sophie eyed him
dumbly. Stepan knew that she had
heard everything, but she was unable
to move or cry out. What would it
have sufficed in any event?
Stepan could not get free. The
loop of rope was slacker, but his legs
and arms were still bound. As he
struggled he saw Tozan mount the
rock and stand there; he fancied his
watch was in his hand but it was im
possible to discern anything clearly.
Cut off above, the glare of the elec
tric lights beneath, the man looked
like a monstrous phantom. It was
easy to hear, however.
"Five minutes more, Stepan," cried
Tozan's mocking voice. "In five min
utes the rope burns through and the
dynamite will fall plump down the
shaft between you and Sophie there
in four minutes. That will be a les
son to both of you, my friends. In
three minutes more you will be blown
to fine powder. There is no escape,
unless a miracle saves you. In two
minutes, Stepan '
His voice rang out through the col
umn of air imprisoned in the shaft
and the sonorous echoes beat in a
hundred little waves among the
"In two minutes in one minute,
And the last word was drowned in
the explosion of the dynamite.
Stepan, hearing the discharge
cowered, his hands over his head. The
motion was an instinctive one, for he
did not doubt that he would be blown
into the tiniest fragments. And the
volume of the expoding dynamite
seemed to fill the shaft Above Jt
rang out Sophie's- shrill screams.
Stepan was- coming back to con
sciousness. Somebody a woman
was screaming. Sophie had got her
gag free from her mouth and with
her cries there stole into Stepan's
mind the realization that neither of
them was dead.
"Sophie!" he gasped.
Slowly the dust settled down. Ste
pan saw the girl peering through the
thick cloud. She looked toward the
rock where Tozan had stood and
stood no longer!
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