Once more he came softly down, and collected all the tow and wool he could find. He went up the ladder and put these things through the grating; they formed a bed.
Then he went back for the fatal box, took it up the ladder with beating heart, laid it softly in its bed, uncoiled the fuse and let it hang down.
So now these two fiendish things were placed, and their devilish tails hanging out behind them. The fuses had been cut with the utmost nicety to burn the same length of time--twelve minutes.
But Cole was too thoughtful and wary to light the fuses until everything was prepared for his escape. He put the ladder on board the boat, disposed the oars so that he could use them at once; then crept to the engine-chimney, kneeled down beside the fuse, looked up at the faint light glimmering above, and took off his hat.
With singular cunning and forethought he had pasted a piece of sandpaper into his hat. By this means he lighted a lucifer at once, and kept it out of sight from the windows, and also safe from the weather; he drew the end of the fuse into the hat, applied the match to it out of sight, then blew the match out and darted to his other infernal machine. In less than ten seconds he lighted that fuse too; then stepped into the boat, and left those two devilish sparks creeping each on its fatal errand. He pulled away with exulting bosom, beating heart, and creeping flesh. He pulled swiftly up stream, landed at the bridge, staggered up the steps, and found Coventry at his post, but almost frozen, and sick of waiting.
He staggered up to him and gasped out, "I've done the trick, give me the brass, and let me go. I see a halter in the air." His teeth chattered.
But Coventry, after hoping and fearing for two hours and a half, had lost all confidence in his associate, and he said, "How am I to know you've done anything?"
"You'll see and you'll hear," said Cole. "Give me the brass."