Logansport Pharos-Tribune from Logansport, Indiana on October 14, 1897 · Page 22
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Logansport Pharos-Tribune from Logansport, Indiana · Page 22

Logansport, Indiana
Issue Date:
Thursday, October 14, 1897
Page 22
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CHAPTER L A «EMAIUCABLE INTERVIEW. IS was November in Paris. The proverbial gloominess, however, was entirely lacking in the estimation of Colonel Hercules Hoffman as he looked down on the gay and crowded bonlevard from his apartment in the Betel Bristol. Colonel Hoffman was a New Yorker, * roan of wealth, position and> prominence, and in epite of the seductive at-tractions of the French capital he was congratulating himself on the comple- ition of the business that had taken him «broad and the prospects of a speedy •«torn home."" In Paris Colonel Hoffman was an at- fCm, a mite; in New York he was— (Moaebody. He tamed from the window and •trolled softly across the room. A faint mile hovered on his features «• a huge mirror brought him face to rfao« with his own reflection. What he lawwaa a tall, finely formed man, with a pleaiing face, becomingly Adorned with a" light mngtaato and [Knglilh aids whiskers. As the colonel turned again to the •window a. sharp rat-tat-tat echoed on ftb* penal* of the door, and a servant en- jfaMd, with a card on a diver *alv«r. "A gentleman for mocnenr; iw waits Ibftlow." Colonel Hoffman raised the card with Ihis thumb and forefinger and carelessly lead the inscription, "Vladimir Sara- doff, Nevskoi Prospekt, S(;. Petorsbnrg." A dusky pallor passed swiftly over his ruddy features, and the card trembled in his fingers. "Show the gentleman np,"he said briefly and then mnttered under his breath: "VladimirSaradoflf of all men. What ill wind brings hira here today?" Warned by approaching footsteps, he hastily composed his features. A moment later the door was thrown open, and Vladimir Saradoff appeared in person. The Russian was a typical representative of hist race. Huge of stature, yet graceful in every movement, his patrician bearing «nd aristocratic features awoke Colonel Hoffman's deepest admiration. Bis hair was coal black, and his mustache and beard were trimmed and pointed in F rench fashion. A huge cloak, richly trimmod with fur, was throvpu loosely over his shoulders, and he held a cap of the same material in his hand. He glanced sharply at the colonel under his gold eyeglass, "Colonel Hoffman of New York, I believe," he said in perfect English, and then the two gentlemen shook hands. The Russian tossed aside his coat and oap and took .bo chair that his host handed him. Colonel Hoffman seated himself opposite, and then eusued a brief, embarrassing silence. An attentive observer would have promptly concluded that the interview about to take place wonld be no friendly one. The Russian's features were stern, «tud his eyes were fixed on the American with an intensity of gaze that made Colonel Hoffman ill at ease. He shuffled to and fro in his chair, .glanced from one part of the room to the other, and at last in desperation drew out a cigar and, lighting it, began to smoke furiously. A faint smile flitted across Vladimir fiaradoff's features. "Pardon my intrusion," he said abruptly, "By mere chance I became aware of your presence in Paris and have thus spared myself the fatigue of a voyage across the Atlantic. I presume I am not mistaken. Yon are the guardian of my—my nephew, Maurice Ham- tnoud, the son of my dead sister?" Colouel Hoffman inclined his head. "Yes, I am." "Where is tbe boy now?" asked the Russian. "Traveling in the western states of America with a college mate. " "When does he come of ag<!?" ' 'In a little more than two years. He Will be 16 in December." Vladimir Saradoff leaned forward in big chair. "By iny sister's will," he said sloTS- iy, "all her property was left to her fcnstvujd, in tmst for their only chiJd Maurice. In case the boy died unmarried the whole of the property reverted to me. Am I right?" "Yes, precisely right." "Now." continued the Russian in •oft tones, "on the death of Frederick Hammond ten years ago you 'were appointed guardian of tbe boy. May I ask •what is the extent of the property in- trusted to your care?" Behind the curling cigar smoke Colonel Hoffman paled vimbly. The Russian watched him closely. "In rough figures," ho said, with as- turned carelessness, "the estate would possibly amoant to 1300,000." "Very good," replied Vladimir Sara- doff. '' Your memory is not bad. I have toew," he contdnned, pulling a small notebook from his inner pocket, "a copy of the inventory which yon filei M guardian. The estate consists of negotiable bonds and stocks to the amoant it 1210,000, in Russian money 400,00) rubles. "Now, M. Hoffman," he added with • OTdden change of voice, "what did you do with the malachite box of jaw- Had a bombshell exploded in the apartment that instant it could not have produced a more startling effect opon Colonel Hoffman. Trembling in every limb, he eank back in bis chair. The Russian looked on calmly. "Sit still," he added sharply aa the colonel made a feeble effort to rise, "and don't attempt to deny yonr gnilt. Jt is useless. I am in possession of all tho facts. I knew of the existence of those jewels and of my sister's intention to leave them to her son. I procured a copy of yonr inventory on the death of Frederick Hammond. The jewels were not included. The rest was simple. Ten years ago you were a man of moderate circumstances. Today, eu- riched by those stolen jewels, yon are a man of wealth and renown. Belying on th«i fact that the boy knew nothing of thorn, you hoped to escape detection." Colonel Hoffman rose and staggered to the table. "Spare me!" he whispered. "Spare trwl I will make restitution, I will"— "Sit down," commanded the Russian. "I know all, even where the gtones were disposed of, and what became of the malachite box. They were old family jewels, and they netted you the Bum of nearly 200,000 rubles. I possess all the proofs of yonr guilt." Colonel Hoffman threw himself into his chair and buried his face in hia hands. " Yes," continued tbe Russian, in the same cutting tones, "I iiold in my hands your reputation, which I am told stands high in your American city. I can consign you to a felon's cell." He paused impressively and then added: "But I have concluded to take no action. Your secret is safe with me." Colonel Hoffman rose to his feet in surprise. "Do you mean it?" he cried. "Can it 1 be possible?" "Be seated," added the Russian, and the colonel obeyed. For a moment or two Vladimir Sara- doff surveyed his victim with an inscrutable expression. When he spoke again, his voice was unnaturally harsh. "I will spare you," he said—"on one condition. In what light does young Hammond regard me—hia uncle?" "Unfavorably, I am sorry to say," stammered the colonel, with an effort. "You must be awaro"— "Yes," interrupted the Russian; "of course he believes that I treated his mother cruelly. His father taught him that. There was a time when I would gladly have given 100,000' rubles to lay my hands on Frederick Hammond. From the day that Anna Saradoff left Russia with that vile, scheming American she ceased to be a sister of mine." With eyes flashing he waved his hand, studded with diamonds, before tho colonel's countenance. Then his an ger suddenly passed off, and his face assumed a crafty expression. "M. Hoffman," he said abruptly, "do you know I have taken a fancy to that young nephew of mine? I did not forgive ray sister, it is true, but I still think of her tenderly, and perhaps this boy resembles her. At all events, I "Sit down!" commanded the Russian. would like to see him. I would have him visit me. Now this is what you must do: Give him to understand that I am not the savrt]e he has been taught to believe me. Tell him that you have seen me, that I spoke tenderly of his mother, of his father, that I am lonely amid tbe grandeur of my Russian home, and that I want him, for his mother's sake, to come to St. Petersbnrg. Do yon understand?" Vladimir Saradoff leaned forward on his chair and stared coolly in the face of the American. Colonel Hoffman breathed hard and fast " Yes," said he, "I understand." And th« double meaning of his reply was obvious to the Russian. Their eyes met, •ach conscious that the innermost secret of his soul stood revealed to the gaze of the other. "Suppose I refuse?" remarked the colonel finally. "Do so at your peril," said the other. "I will pursue yon to the very limits of tbe law. I will hunt von. to a felon's oall." A period of silence followed. Colonel Hoffman rose and walked to tbe-window. The Russian drew a oiga- ntto case from his pocket and began to •noke, confident of hia victory. Fearful indeed mutt bare been. tbe emotion* M h« atood tooting vacantly down on tbe crowded boulevard. Hfr crime had found him out. Two alternatives confronted him, each equally terrible at first contemplation. On tbe one side was long imprisonment, with loss of fortune, position, reputation, everything. On the other was absolute immunity from punishment, a continued enjoyment of his ill gotten wealth without fear of detection, but to secure these benefits ho must consent to be the passive actor in a crime so dreadful that he dared not frame it in words, for Vladimir Saradoff's demand admitted no misconstruction. Ten minutes passed in silence, and then Colonel Hoffman moved back to his chair. Every spark of color had fled from his face, and in its stead was only an ashen pallor. "I am at your mercy," he groaned. "I must consent to your infamous preposition. Yon still refuse to allow me to make restitution?" "Absolutely," replied Vladimir Sara doff. "You know my terms. Yon know also what you are expected to do. You will have no difficulty. Suggest to the lad that he take a continental tour before settling down. Let him start early in the spring and see that be comes to St. Petersburg. Yon have my address. Keep me posted by cablegram. I will attend to the rest. "I intended sailing for America next week, but I saw your name in Gnligna- ni, and thus spared myself the trouble. And now, M. Hoffman, I shall bid you 'an revoir.' It pleases me to have made your acquaintance. We shall meet again, and should yoa ever oome to St. Petew- burg you may be sure of a hearty welcome." Smiling pleasantly, the Russian flung his coat over hr» arm and picked np hia oap. Slightly touching the colonel's cold, irresponsive hand, he bowed low in the doorway and wa« gone. Ten days later tbe New York papers announced that Ootouel Hercules Hoffman, the well'known broker and. financier, had returned from a short trip abroad. CHAPTER H. ACROSS THE FRONTIER. On a certain March morning of the year following the events related in the preceding chapter two young Americans left the office of tbe Russian consul general at Berlin, and an hour later were speeding as fast as steam could carry them toward the distant frontier of the Russian empire. Maurice Hammond and Philip Danvers were the names reigistejjed on their passports, and while they are hastening toward St Petersburg, enthusiastic and delighted at the prospect of soon seeing this frozen capital of the north, we will take the opportunity of briefly acquainting the reader with the circumstances necessary to an understanding of the strange and startling drama upon which tbe curtain is even now rising. Twenty years before Frederick Hammond, a young American, an attache of the United States legation at St. Petersburg, met and fell in love with Anna Saradoff, a young Russian girl of wealth and position. Such marriages are uncommon, but when Frederick Hammond returned to New York he took with him a Russian bride. Anna Saradoff's only relative was her brother Vladimir, who, having other views for his sister, conceived a most intense hatred of this scheming American, as he chose to call him. He never forgave his sister and professed from that time to regard her as one dead. Mrs. Hammond in turn, well content with her husband's love, cut off all connection with her native land. Her Russian property was converted into American securities, and without a shadov? of regret for the brilliance and magnificence she had voluntarily abandoned she entered upon the quieter occupations of her new life. Five years later she died, leaving the one child, Maurice, at that time 4 years of age. Six years later Frederick Hammond followed his wife, but in the meantime, imbittered by her loss, he taught his son to detest his Russian uncle, whose cruel treatment had probably hastened his sister's death. Frederick Hammond had few intimate friends. To one of these, Colonel Hercules Hoffman, he intrusted the care of his son and bis son's fortune. Colonel Hoffman was at that time a man of honesty and integrity, honest because as yet h« had not been tempted. That temptation came later in the form of the malachite box of jewels, and how Colonel Hoffman resisted a base temptation we have already «ien. Maurice Hammond c£in IDC described in a few words. He had inherited the ardent temperament of his raotber, his father's intellect and gocid looks. At 19 he was tall, athletic, blond haired and ruddy cheeked. His life had been passed at preparatory schoolsi and colleges, while in the vacations he usually traveled, for Colonel Hoffman was unmarried, and, moreover, a coolness, fostered probably by instinct, existed between guardian and ward. When Colonel Hoffman returned from that trip abroad, Maurice was traveling in the west with his intimate friend and college chum, Philip Danvers. For several months Colonel Hoffman was the most wrecched man in New York. That diplomatic interview at the Hotel Bristol, which has been described word for word, possessed a sinister meaning that h« could not fail to interpret He never dared admit to himself that his suspicions' were •correct, bnt constantly before his mental Tifiicm hung that clause in tbe far-giving Anna Ham- The first «iu ofttimes paves a smooth pathway for the second. What was the welfare of his ward compared to his own interests, his for tuue, his position, his reputation? In January Maurice Hammond cam< ease with his friend and himself proposed a six months' continental tour. The two boys having finished col lege, what was more natural than tba' they should wish to see the world? Colonel Hoffman gladly acquiesced. With infinite finesse he pictured Uncl Vladimir as sorrowful, repentant, anx ions to see his nephew for his sister's sake. He cabled to St Petersburg. Three weeks later a letter came to Maurice Hammond, a warm invitation to visit the Russian capital before the approach of summer made it unpleas ant. The tempting prospects that the letter held out proved irresistible. The two boys sailed from New York late in February and, contenting them selves with a brief stay in London and Paris, trave led by easy stages across the continent Vladimir Saradoff, at the time this story opens, had reached the age of 45 years. The last member of an old and renowned Russian family, his brilliant birth, his political influence, and above all the favor of the czar, gave, him a prestige at court and in St. Petersburg society that was surpassed by few. His education, acquired partly at home, partly in German universities, was lacking in nothing, and he possessed a fluent knowledge of English language anc customs, the result of a diplomatic term of service at the Russian legation at London. In disposition he wa« crafty and revangefuL His sister's marriage had been a severe shock to his pride. He wns absent in the Cancasne at the time it occurred. When he returned, she had already left Russia, and the vengeance which he meditated on tbe daring American was beyond his reach. The events of the past 20 years—the death of his sister and her husband and the fortune left to their child—had only added fuel to the flame of his wrath. Today he hated Maurice Hammond as implacably as he had hated Frederick Hammond 20 years before. Let us add one more fact Vladimir Saradoff had been all bis life addicted to that especially Russian vice, gaming. He was supposed to be wealthy. He owned a palace on the Nevskoi Prospekt, a country seat in the north. His expenses were enormous, but his income was reported to be fabulous. Tbe truth was not even suspected. Slowly, but surely, Vladimir Saradoff's wealth had been slipping away over the gaming tables. A crisis was at hand. He realized that he must acquire a large sum of money or lose all that he held most dear—his prestige at court, his position in society and his ancestral heritage. He concentrated his thoughts on two objects, the attainment of a long deferred vengeance and the acquisition of the badly needed wealth. At the vast frontier station of Wir- ballen, which they reached at midnight, cold and hungry, the boys obtained their first view of Russian life. Passports and baggage were overhauled, and then they were turned into the dreary waiting room with many other passengers. There wag little time for scrutiny or observation. The Russian train rattled into the station, and almost before they knew it their passports, properly stamped, had been pressed into their hands, and the train was rattling noisily on into the night. They were speeding over Russian soil now. Before them stretched the dominions of the czar, an empire that reached thousands and thousands of miles across Siberian wastes and deserts to the faraway Pacific coast. Hour sifter hour the train rushed through the gloomy snow clad country, stopping at intervals at huge barnlike stations, aud at last, late on the following evening, they knew that the end of the journey was near. "I wonder what sort of a reception this aristocratic uncle of yours will give me, Maurice?" said Phil Danvers as he pulled a cap over his curly black hiiir and unfolded his big fur trimmed coat preparatory to putting it on. "Don't you think it was a rather cheeky performance to invite a guest on your own responsibility?" "Don't talk nonsense, Phil," replied his companion. "He will be only too glad to receive a friend of mine. He had plenty of notice. I wrote to him from London, and then you know we telegraphed him from Berlin yesterday morning." "Petersburg!" shouts the smartly uniformed conductor, and in an instant all is bustle and commotion as the train rolls into the vast stMiori. Maurice draws a long breath as he hurries from the car. This is his mother's native city—the lovely, delicate woman whom he remembered so faintly. A tall man in heavy cloak and astrakhan cap suddenly confronts him. "M. Hammond?" be Hays inquiringly in plain English. Maurice nods his headl, not knowing whether to hold out his Irand or not The nest word reassures him. "The carriage waits," says the man, with a servile bow, and taking the boys' luggage he motions them to follow him through the crowd. A huge sleigh is waiting. The boys and their strange guide ocecpy the spacious seat and pull the rags closely around them. The driver perched in front seizes the lines, and presently they are gliding through tbe streets of St Petersburg. A light-fall of snow ia coming down, and in the lamplight the hooaes, the people and tbe vehicle* aro aeen a* He seized paper and pen and- began to u-rLte. nothing is neglected. And now I observe that you are weary find in need of rest. Pardon ray thoughtlessness." He rang for a servant, and the boys were speedily ushered to another floor, where luxnrious bedrooms, not unlike apartments they had seen at home, awaited them. Vladimir Saradoff, alone in his library, paced tbe floor with an ill concealed expression of triumph on his features. At last, seating himself at a large ebony desk, he seized paper and pen and began to write rapidly. The first letter completed, he sealed and stamped it with colored wax and addressed it to "Count Paul Brosky, Minister of the Inferior.'' He at once resumed his writing, and on finishing a second letter, half an hour later, he sealed that in the same manner and addressed it to "Captain Sasha, Commandant of the Forwarding Prison, Mosc»w." He pulled a bellcord, and Ivan Tam- aor speedily entered tbe room. Vladimir Saradoff handed him the letters. "Deliver this one immediately," he said, designating the letter first written. "Let the other go by the early mail. You understand everything, Ivan?" "Yes, your excellency," replied the Russian. "Nothing shall be forgotten." And saluting hia master he left the apartment. Overhead, in the soft, laxurkras beds, the two boys slept calmly, little dream- ug of their host's perfidy, unconscious of tbe fatal import of those two letters that w€re even now speeding to their respective destinations. In Russia deeds are possible that no other country on the globe would tolerate. With his wealth, his standing at court, his influence with high officials, what could not Vladimir Saradoff accomplish if he willed? In the dark days of Ivan the Terrible no viler deed was ever conceived than his aristocratic Russian so coolly per- >etrated that night. [TO BE COJTTOTCED.] mond'swill. "In case my son Maurice through a yellow fog. die unmarried, tbe estate shall revert to jny brother. Vladimir Saradoff of St. .Petersburg." It geems a cheerless reception to the two young traveler*. NOT a word i« ipoken dtninf tfae bait Value of Straw Mulch. Practical men have observed that ground gains in available fertility, ft* neasnred by productiveness, when it is xjvered by some means. Land is more productive after being covered by a hay- itack for months, even if all the hay is carefully removed. Boards lying upon he ground have a similar effect A mulch ,ot only benefits a growing crop, but >enefits unplowed land. In substantiation of the foregoing The National Stockman cites the benefits derived from he nse of surplus straw as a mulch and says: "West of the Alleghaniea, and especially west of the state of Ohio, much straw is -wasted tha.t could be made to add greatly to the productive power of r-rnnnish land. It ii not wholly nor h»lf a question of the amount of plant food in the straw. It i* the effect of a mulch npon the m»L " hour's ride. The grim visaged man with tlae astrakhan cap sits between them. At length tne sleigh halts before a huge palatial building. Their guide leads them up a bxosd flight of steps, massive doors ara flung open, revealing a soft light within, and they are ushered into a spacious apartment. Maurice has barely time to observe the rich furniture, the tapestries, the paintings and the rugs, when a tall, fine looking gentleman in evening dress comes quickly forward. "My dear nephew," he exclaims aa he takes him by the hand. " Yes, your mother's face, her very features. But how did yon endure the long journey? Yon must be terribly fatigued." He extends a warm welcome to Phil, and presently Maurice concludes that he was utterly mistaken in his previous estimation of Vladimir Saradoff. They dined informally in a large apartment that was a marvel of luxury with its gilded decorations, and then Vladimir Saradoff led the way back to the library. "My dear Manrice," he began ab-| ruptly, ' 'an unfortunate thing has happened. Urgant business demands my presence in Moscow. I am compelled to forego the pleasure of showing you our city in person. I shall start by an early train and will be absent two or three days. 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