Guide In the Hands of the Cave-Dwellers

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In the Hands of the Cave Dwellers has 26 ratings and 1 review: Published October 28th by Robinson Books, pages, Paperback.
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He was a prolific English novelist and a special correspondent. He is best known for his historical adventure stories that were popular in the late 19th century. How can I use this format? Log in to rate this item. You must be logged in to post a review. A number of eggs were roasted in the ashes, and washed down by long draughts of milk. The chiefs then left them, but a number of the villagers came down and watched the proceedings of the strangers with great interest. Will at once proceeded to carry out his plan of bending the ramrods; a hot spot in the fire was selected, and two of the vaqueros increased the intensity of the heat by fanning it with their sombreros.

Three others went down to the river and brought up a large flat boulder and two or three smaller ones, and, using the large one as an anvil, the ends of the rods were hammered into sharp, broad, chisel-shaped blades. Sancho had explained to the chiefs that two poles, some fifteen feet long, were required, and when there were brought down the ramrods were securely bound to them with strips of wetted hide. Other strips were, by Will's directions, bound round the pole so as to form projections a foot apart. You must all remove your boots as soon as you dismount, and we will now tear up two or three blankets, and twist strips round the barrels of the guns, so that, should they strike against the rocks, no sound shall be made.

You had better do the same with the barrels of your pistols. Another light-weight was to be third.


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Antonio was to follow him, and then Sancho, and the order in which all the others were to go was arranged. Lariats were securely knotted together, and the knots tied with strips of hide, to prevent the possibility of their slipping. The men carried out his orders, but it was evident from their manner that they had not the slightest hope that his attempt would be successful. An hour after sunset they started. It was two days after the full moon, and they had, therefore, as many hours to reach the foot of the cliffs before it rose.

An hour was sufficient to traverse the distance, and they therefore rested for that time, after darkness set in, before starting, swam the river, and after removing their boots made their way noiselessly along, keeping some distance from the river bank until the reached the spot where the cliff rose perpendicularly; then, keeping close to its foot, they held on until they arrived at the spot Will had fixed upon. They all lay down among the boulders close to the rock wall, and remained there until the moon rose.

There had been several discussions as to the best way to get the lariat up, as it was agreed that, whether carried in a coil over the shoulder or wound round the body, it would hamper the climber's movements. The question was finally solved by his taking a coil of thin hide, which, while little thicker than string, was amply strong enough to support the weight of the lariat. Four of five bullets had been sewn up in a piece of skin and attached to one end.

A strap was fastened to each pole so that these could be slung behind him, so permitting him the free use of both hands where it was not needful to use them. For a short distance the ascent was comparatively easy. Then he arrived at the first of the ledges he had noticed.

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It was some ten inches wide, and, keeping his face to the wall and using his hands to grip the most trifling irregularity, or to get a hold in small crevices, he made his way along until he arrived at a projection which barred farther progress. Slipping one of the slings from his shoulder, he reached up until the hook caught the next ledge, and obtained a good hold there. He then climbed the pole until his fingers got a grip of the ledge, when he hauled himself up to it.

It was some fifteen inches wide here, and without difficulty he obtained a footing, again slung the pole on his shoulder and went on. The ledge narrowed rapidly, and he was now at one of the points which appeared to him the most difficult, for from where he had been lying the ledge seemed almost to cease, while the next ledge above it was also so narrow that he knew he could not obtain standing room upon it.

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As he approached the narrow path he took the poles, one in each hand, and obtained a grip of the upper ledge. He now made his way along on tiptoe, having his weight almost entirely on the poles, shifting them alternately.


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To a landsman this would have been an extraordinary feat, but, accustomed to hang to the ropes by one hand, it was not so difficult for him, especially as he obtained some slight support from his feet. Without the poles it would have been impossible for him to have passed, as the ledge in some places was only three inches wide.

At the end of some thirty feet it again widened; the next forty or fifty feet upward were comparatively easy, for the rock sloped to some extent inward, and there were many fissures in which he was enabled to get a firm grip with his fingers. Then came several difficult places, but he was confident now in the hold the hooks had on the rocks, and, always working with great caution and using sometimes his hands, sometimes the poles, he reached the top in half an hour after starting.

Go to Chapter Nine. Six Years in Bolivia. In New Granada, Heroes and Patriots. This Land Is My Land.

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