This section is from the book "The Adventurous Life Of A Versatile Artist: Houdini", by Harry Houdini. Also available from Amazon: The Adventurous Life of a Versatile Artist; Houdini.
There could be no doubt about that. At the first turn of the key the lock went forward twice; at the second, once. Houdini was behind a triple lock in the dark, dreary cell.
The Express representative and the gaoler left him there, and retired beyond an iron gate which bars the passage.
"The gate is a greater test than the cell," said the gaoler.
"It's locked before it's locked, if you understand. Shut it, and it's locked, and then you can lock it again."
The gaoler hand only secured it when Houdini presented himself.
"That's as quick as I've ever done it," said he. And then he tackled the gate.
A moment's hesitation. The gaoler shook his head, and a smile was just overspreading his features, when lo! Houdini flung open wide the gate.
He agreed that the gate was "tougher," as he expressed it, than the cell.
Houdini is an American. Only his strong arms and his supple, yet powerful hands give the slightest clue of his prison-breaking capacity.
He does not look a gaolbird, but the escape he made for the benefit of Express readers was his 6ist.
Bright-eyed, smart, active, and a good talker, he has traveled far and wide, and has broken out of the prisons of many countries.
"I have never failed," said Houdini, "but I don't say there is no cell I cannot break out of. As to handcuffs, the hardest job I ever had was with a pair made at Krupp's. It took me 40 minutes to get out of them, but I did it."
From Funk & Wagnall's New (1920) Dictionary.