Logansport Pharos-Tribune from Logansport, Indiana on October 16, 1897 · Page 22
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October 16, 1897

Logansport Pharos-Tribune from Logansport, Indiana · Page 22

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Saturday, October 16, 1897
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CHAPTER 1. -Vladimir Paradoff, a Husslan, Ijeinr heir to the fortune of his nephew, JMau rice Hammond, an American, in case of bin BCphew'« ceath, conspires to have him sent to t- uesla In order to KOI him In his power. IT.— Hammond and hie friend, Philip Dsnvers arrive at Bt. Petersburg, and Saradoff lays pltns to have them »rref ted as conspirators against tteg-overnment. Ill and IV—Hammond at a review iaveg the life of Colonel Jaros/av. Proceeding to Moscow, they are arrested and sent to Sibera. On the -way the boat on which they travel catches flre, and they, with two other -convicts escapt In a skiff. CHAPTER V. THE BURNING BARGE. On the bank of the river Tura, in front of the gloomy palisades of the great forwarding prison of Tinmen, there were grouped one morning late In tho month of May a band of Russian exiles 400 or 500 in number. | A cordon of soldiers hemmed them in j on all sides, and close by a railed plat- i form zigzagged down tho steep bank to the water's edge, where lay a long, low vessel with black hull and yellow deck •Work, a convict barge waiting to receive its cargo. The wretched convicts represented all •orts of types and contrasts—fierce mountaineers from Circassia and Da- ghestan, sunburned Tartars from the wavs the barren, SDOW clad assert tna many believe it to be perpetually. Among their fellow prisoners the boys bad made one acquaintance, a middle aged Russian, who appeared tc be of a higher class than his associates though he possessed a cast of features by no means prepossessing, fie hac scraped acquaintance with JIanrice by addressing him in French, a language which tie lad happened to have acquired at college, and in his delight at finding some one from whom he could obtain information Maurice gladly overlooked all other considerations. The Russian's name was Grodno, and he very freely confessed to Maurice that his offense was smuggling contraband goods over the Russian border. If he expected a like return of confidence, he was disappointed, for Maurice was clever enough to see that it would be unwise to make a confidant of such a man. Instead he allowed himself to pose as a political prisoner. However, in regard to that matter of which he was -most anxious, he could learn nothing. Grodno, disappointed per- lower Volga, Tnrks from the Crimea" I hapS % find that his friend was neither heir scarlet fezzes. and J P wa I ? Cntt . nr ° at Sling" is burning. The odor is getting •(longer every instant." Before Phil could reply a sudden commotion was heard behind them, and turning quickly the boys saw a conf nsed mass of convicts struggling up the hatchway, their dark forms outlined against a dull red glow. Then the silence was broken by a sharp cry of "Fire! Fire! Fire!" and instantly an uproar arose that made the boys' hair fairly stand on end. Shrieking, swearing and shouting, the panic stricken wretches surged up the hatchway and flung themselves against the grating until it trembled and creaked. The guards ran cp and down the deck, the officers shouted fiercely, and I through the open hatchway the angry flames were already visible. "We'll be burned alive,'' cried Maurice, and he tore desperately at the grating. The hatchway was now one mass of flamei, volumes of smoke were pouring out, and the deck planks were getting hot. Suddenly a shrill whistle was heard from the steamer, and then the barge seemed to lie motionless on the water. The guards, apparently stupefied at this appalling calamity, ran helplessly about the deck, while the officers seemed to have disappeared. Maurice and Phil joined with the rest in their desperate rush against the grating, but as the stout iron refused to yield and the smoke and heat became almost unendurable they lost all hope of escaping the flames. At this moment of despair a hand clutched Maurice's arm, and a voice whispered in his ear: "Follow me. Come this way." Grodno—for it was he—had already vanished, but the boys turned in th» lirection he had taken and foujit their way through tho frenzied crowd. Taw ol speefl, ploiing nls way with wonderful skill among the trees. Hour The opposite fide of the pen, strange- their gcarlet fezzes, and Jews from Podolia. A little apart from the rest stood two youthful figures with haggard faces in •whom we find it difficult to recognize Maurice Hammond and Philip Danvers. Partly by rail,-partly by water, they tad journeyed, with many delays, along the vast exile route. ^Passing through the great fair city of Kijni Novgorod, tho populous towns of Kazan atid Perm, they crossed the dreary range of the Ural mountains, passed the boundary line between Russia and Siberia, arid now, broken by nor a robber, disclaimed all knowledge of what was usually done with "politicals," as he rather scornfully termed them. The Russian possessed another friend on board the barge, a most villainous looking Turk, with sunburned face and a stubby black beard. He wore a greasy red fez and was continually smoking a short clay pipe. Grodno and Hamid, for that was the Turk's name, held long and whispered conversations in Russian day after day, always keeping apart in a corner by themselves and separating whenever any of the guards approached. These | secret palavers Maurice hardship and suffering, still ignorant of. „„„_„.. _., „, their destination, they had reached p 50 *? ? aiavers Maurice observed with Tiumen, 1,700 miles from St Peters- susplclon and distrust, for their actions jjn_™ ' I on manvoccasinns shriwprl that tha h^*.,. The past seems almost a dream. Hopei has fled long ago, and they have learned to suffer in silence, thankful at least that they have not been separated from each other. In their cbaracte* nf political prisoners they have been treated with some slight-consideration, to distinguish them from the coarser class of criminals, but all attempts to obtain audience with any officials, in hope of convincing them of tho fearful niistnke that has been made, have been fruitless. Vladimir Saradoff's triumph is complete. The net is woven tightly about his victims, and there is no escape from the living death to which he has consigned them. "Corno ou; they are going now," said Maurice, nud as he spoke a commotion was visible among the exiles, and the commanding officer shouted: "Forward, now! Get ou board!" In groups of twos and threes the •wretched prisoners filed down the platform past tho armed guards, who stood 30 feet apart, and crossed the floating wharf to the barge. This vessel was about 100 feet long. At each extremity was built a deck -house painted yellow, and the space be tween these was roofed over with tiin ber and faced with heavy wire screens In these pens the prisoners were placed Beneath the deck were dark, gloomy holes, with tiers of narrow bunks •where they were to sleep. Tho boys sat down on the bare floor in one corner of tho pen and watchec for an hour or t\vo the strange scene tha': was taking place before them. The prisoners, crowding up against the screen, were carrying on a brisk business with the peddlers and peasant •worieu who had come on board the barj;e with bread, cakes, salted cucumbers, strings of dried mushrooms and fish pies. Tae chaffing and buying kept briskly until a little past noon. T,3en a steamer backed up to the vessel, M-ith a great blowing of whistles, and in n few moments the convict barge was speeding through the black current •of the river on its lousr voyage to Tomsk. It was evident that Captain Snshn, the •i.'ommaudant of the Moscow prison, had received special instructions concerning the two boys. They were guarded more closely, it is true, than the common prisoners, but as yet they had not suffered tho indignity of "being chained, and they were supplied with reascouibly good food. Moreover, although they did not inov it themselves, they wcro being transported across Siberia with a rapid ity that is seldom granted to Rnssiai: exiles. Instead of marching hundred!, of miles on foot, they had journeyed entirely by rail and by water. With their fellow passengers they hac little or nothing to do. They were all low grade convicts—thieves, murderers, bandits—a fact which Maurice was not slow to recognize. In the past two months the boys had picked up a slight, smattering of the Russian language and were now able to understand the commands of the soldiers and officers. Day after day tho barge moved slowly on its course, first up fhe sluggish current of the river Tobol and then down tie more impetuous waters of the Ob. For hours at a time the boys gazed wearily on the ever changing landscape, ihe forest clad hills and mountains, the pretty villages with their golden spires, and ths waving fields of grain, for such vas Siberian scenery at this season of *b» year. This Tast continent isi not al- on many occasions showed that the boys I had something to do with the subject of their discussion. Meanwhile the barge was drawing nearer its destination, and the dreary 2,000 mile ride would soon be ever. All day they had been drifting through a wild arid picturesque bit of country, and now at sunset tho air was sultry and oppressive, Maurice and Phil, their heads resting on their coats, were lying close up against the grating. The hot atmoS- pbere below deck was intolerable, and the indulgent guards had allowed great rauny of the convicts to remain out iustead of driving them all below, as was the usual rule. It was remarkably quiet, so still Jy enough, was almoirt deserted, and here they found Grodno and Hamid fumbling at the grating. "All right," the Russian whispered triumphantly, and to their amazement the boys saw that he had opened ona of the little sliding doors. He darted quickly through, followed by Hamid. Maurice, horror stricken at the thought of abandoning all these poor wretches to a shocking death, was about to attract general attention to the open doorway whan, with a terrific crash, the entire grating on the opposite Bide of the pen gave way before the desperate efforts of the mob and toppled over on the astounded guards. "Come quick," shouted the Russian, and without further delay the boys darted out on the open deck. Not a soldier was in sight. They were all on the other side. Grodno had laid his plans well. On the edge of the barge lay a ruda boat, belonging to a peddler who had come on board with provisions a few days before. Grodno and Hamid seized this by the bow and stern and dropped it with a light splash into the water. It landed fairly on its keel, and, turning to the boys, Grodno shouted: "Jump in now quick.. Don't delay." Grodno sprang furiously upon him. after hour they pressed on untiringly, pausing once for a brief rest, and when at last the gray light of dawn shone through the forest the river was miles to the rear. Hungry and exhausted, the fugitives threw themselves on a mossy glade. A dense forest of poplars and silver birches was all around them, and close by was a babbling brook flowing over a bed of pebbles. Here they quenched their thirst, and then, reckless of the consequences, they slept for an hour or more until the sun was well up and shining brightly through the trees. Maurice knew that St. Petersburg they m»y iutend to commit om«t crimes. We may find ourselves in a •worse plight than we were in before." "I agree with you there," replied Phil, "and, what is more, I have a dreadful suspicion that it was Grodno and Hamid who set the barge on fire." "By Jove!" exclaimed Maurice suddenly. "Why didn't I think of that before? You are right, Phil; yon are certainly right. These two scoundrels started that fire in order to escape and ran the risk of burning all those poor wretches alive. What bloodthirsty fiends they must be! I declare I'm sorry we left the barge at all. Why, Phil, if we are caught now they'll probably shoot us. We are equally guilty with these two villains. Grodno says he can procure us other clothing, and as thac is absolutely necessary \ve will be compelled to stay with them for a few days yet, but at the very first opportunity we will leave them and strike out for ourselves. It is a mighty slim chance, but anything is preferable to keeping company with such men." "Hush!" said Phil. "I believe they are awake." The boys had barely time to lie down and feign sleep when Grodno sat up and looked around him. He fell back in a moment, and after lying awake for nearly a« hour longer, not daring to resume the conversation, the boys finally fell into a restless slumber that lasted until daybreak. Enough food still remained to make the fugitives a breakfasit, and after hunting up a small stream, where th boys washed their faces and qnenche RHEUM Most torturing and diifipuinr of itcliiojr burning, scaly skiu and scalp humor* is instantly relieved by a viann bath u-iUi CCTI- CCKA SOAP, a. single application of Cimcrs-i (ointment), the proat skin cure, and a full dosa of CCTICL-KA RESOLVED, K reni«tt o f U.HXI purifiers and humor cures, when »u «IM fail*. (uticura . . " How to Curt Suit Rheum," FALLING HAIR Pimplj . Cured hj- Ccri<:i,-m was many miles away, bni; he was hard- With CHAPTER VI. A MCRDEROUS AMBUSH. a hasty glance at the sluggish , ,—.^,*j v^v.ii^i. t .j|_i OV11A *JJ~ I , » i ^ ™ OO "" deed that the splash of the paddles was back water> Manrioe^and Phil jumped up heard distinctly from the steamer some distance ahead. The guards paced slowly up and down the deck, glancing watchfully at the prisoners from time to time. Off against the railing the commanding officer, Captain Stanisla, was smoking his evening cigar, and its fumes, drifting in through the gratins, mingled with the villainous odor of Hamid's pipe. Suddenly, when the guard's back was turned, Grodno slunk up to the boys and threw himself carelessly at their side. "Want to escape," he whispered, "want to leave vessel, hide in woods, go back to Russia?" "What do yon mean?" asked Maurice sharply. "Hush!" said the Russian. "Don't talk, don't say a word. Do you want to go?" "Yes," replied Maurice incautiously, "of course we want to go. But tell me, Grodno, what do you mean?" "Hush; not now," replied Grodno, and slipping off in the gloom he disappeared, leaving the boys in a state of great excitement. I'd like to know what he means," said Maurice. "I don't see how escape can be possible from a place like this." "It's a plot of some kind," replied Phil. "That's what Grodno and Hamid iave been discussing for the last week [ don't like the looks of either of those 'ellows, Maurice, and in a matter of escape I am afraid they would only use ns to serve their own ends. " _ "I believe all that," rejoined Mau- 'ice, "but a chance of escape is not to be neglected under any circumstances, Phil. If only we could find some influential person to listen to our story, he might be induced to investigate it and prove our innocence. If we escape and are recaptured, it will hardly make our position worse than it is now. But together, landing fairly in the boat. Hamid followed instantly, but Grodno in the very act of leaping was confronted by a soldier, who presented his rifle at the convict's head and pulled the trigger. The weapon missed fire, and what became of Grodno? Did you see?" "Xo: he aud Hamid have disappeared, " replied Phil. "I saw them going toward the hatchway a moment ago." The twilight had now merged into darkness, and the dim outline of the shores had vanished. A slight breeze sprang up, and the prisoners pressed close against the grating to enjoy its invigorating effect. "Hamid can't be very far away," said Phil suddenly. "I can smell that villainous pipe of his plainly, you notice it?" "I can smell something," said Maurice, "bntldon't believe it's Hamid's pipe. It seems a very different kind of odor." An anned soldier strolled slowly past tho grating at that moment, and the conversation closed. As soon as he was gone Maurice began to sniff the air uneasily. "That's not tobacco smoke, Phil," lie gaid finally... "I half believe now* before the guard could recover from his surprise Grodno sprang furiously upon him and bore him to the deck. » From the boat the boys witnessed the whole affair. It was a very brief strug gle, for the desperate convict, endowed with more than ordinary strength, choked his antagonist into a state oJ helplessness, and hastily plundering him of his sword and revolver sprang to bis feet. He tossed these weapons down to Hamid, following them with the soldier's gun, and then made a desperate leap for the boat, just as half a dozen guards rounded the corner of the nearest deckhousie. Had the fire made sufficient progress to throw any light on the scene, escape would have been impossible, but the water was shrouded in darkness, and by a skillful use of a paddle which was lying in the boat Grodno drove it some distance out in the river before the soldiers reached the spot. "Stoop down," he whispered, and as all obeyed half a dozen rifles cracked from the deck of the barge, and a storm of bullets pattered around the boat. A straggling fire wag kept up for two or three minutes, but the guards were shooting wildly, and none of the bullets struck the boat Grodno continued paddling with all his might, and just as the shore loomed up darkly ahea'd a burst of flame shot aloft from the barge, illuminating the water for many yards around. The tumult was now terrific. The steamer's shrill whistle mingled with the cries of the frightened convicts and the hoarse command of the soldiers. The flames ly prepared for the .Russian's statement that the actual distance was about 2, EOO miles. "St. Petersburg lies to the west," explained Grodno, "but to the Russian frontier it is not more than 1,000 miles. That is the point we must strike for, and we stand a good chance of reaching it, for the country to our west is much of it wild, and we are hundreds of miles north of the great Siberian roads where capture would be certain." "And what will we do for food?" asked Maurice in dismay. "How are we going to live through such a journey as that?" ' 'There are villages scattered through ;he country," replied Grodno, "and the people are always willing to aid escaped prisoners. Our first necessity is a change of clothes. We must rid ourselves of these convict garments." "But won't we bo pursued?" asked Maurice. ' 'How can we hope to escape the soldiers?'' "We must take the chances," replied Grodno coolly. "Our escape was discovered long ago, of course. It is possible that when the empty boat is found they will believe that we are at the bottom of the river, but it is more than likely that the Cossacks will scour the country. We must stay in hiding for a few days.'' Grodno turned aside to converse with Hamid, and Maurice explained to Phil what the .Russian bad told him. lu spite of the discouraging outlook the boys were now hopeful. "Everything depends on reaching St. Petersburg without being retaken,'' said Maurice, "and once there, Phil, I shall try to see this Colonel Jarosiav. If we succeed in that, we shall be saved, and Vladimir Saradoflf shall pay dearly for this outrage." were long since beyond all control, and the barge was doomed. The steamer had dropped alongside and appeared to be taking the prisoners from the burning vessel. Deeply interested in the thrilling sight, the fugitives in the boat almost forgot their own peril. They waited until the barge was a mass of flames from bow to stem, and then Grodno drove the boat on shore. As soon as Hamid and the boys were out he turned it bottom up and sent it Don't adrift with the current "Captain Staniila thinks we're drowned," he explained to Maurice, "ilaybe he won't look for us. Hurry now; we must get away. They'll soon miss ns." With a last Look at the steamer lying motionless on the water and the blazing hall of the barge, they tamed np the steep bank and plunged into a thick forest Grodno assumed the leadership, and he hurried th.e party along •» • To Maurice, comparatively ignorant of the tremendous obstacles in the way, thg cfjances of reaching St. Petersburg seemed very good, and his cheering words brightened Phil considerably. The conversation was cut short by Grodno, who announced that it was time to start. The Russian was armed with the gun and the sword, while Hamid was in possession of the revolver. They traveled on through the forest until long past noon, and then, worn out by long marching and by hunger, they halted by a small stream. It was impossible to proceed farther without food. A close search revealed a few stunted raspberries, which were eageriy devoured. Birds were chattering overhead in the trees, but Grodno refused to use his weapon, for fear the Cossacks would hear the report and be attracted to the spot. They succeeded in finding enough raspberries partly to satisfy their hunger, and with fresh hope they strngglsd on for three or four miles. Toward sunset a glad sight met their eyes. In a small clearing amid the forest stood a roughly built log hut. Grod- no advanced boldly to the door and, after two or three unanswered knocks, flung it open and entered. He reappeared in a moment, beckoning to his companions, and they hurried eagerly forward. "Some woodcutter's hut," said. Grod- no. "The owner has gone away, but he was considerate enough to leave this behind him," and he poimsed to a con- pie of hard loaves of bread and a quantity of dried mushrooms. A careful search revealed nothing else that could be of use save a few matches, and leaving the hut tbey pressed on through the forest. With sunset came a chilly breeze, but this caused the fugitives little inconvenience with 'their heavy woolen clothing, and when it became too dark to travel they camped by the side of a big rock and pulled branches from the birch trees to make si bed. "It was a very encouraging sign," Grodno said, ' 'that no trace (if pursnit had yet come near them." He conversed awhile with Hamid, and then both went calmly to sleep. Maurice and Phil remained awake for some time, listening to the rnstling of the breeze in the tree tops and thinking over their dreary situation. In spite of their weariness they were unable to sleep. "I vrish it were possible to make our way buck to .Russia without onr companions, " said Manrice. "They are both hard, characters. I am certain of .that their thirst, the march was resumed b the westward. So great was the aversion whic. Maurice and Phil felt towsird their com panions since the mutual discovery n:ade the previous night that it was ira possible to avoid showing it. Grodni perhaps realized something of this, foi his repulsive face wore a sullen aspect and he turned his whole attention to Hamid, carrying on an animated conversation, not a word of which the boy* nnderstood. A few hours' march through the same monotonous forest brought them to the edge of a vast open plain carpeted with waving grass and numerous wild flowers. Along the edge of the woods ran a well defined road, en which recent wheel tracks were plainly visible, and less than two miles distant towered from the plain a couple of gilded crosses shining in the morning suu aud a cluster of low, gray houses. As they stood gazing in consternation on the distant village and the open country Grodno fiercely motioned them under cover. Along the very side of the road lay dense timber, with high grass and scattered rocks. Crouching down in this, the boys could see a vehicle of some sort approaching rapidly from the direction of the village. As it drew nearer they saw that it was a small wagon covered with a leather hood and drawn by a pair of black horses. A peasant in a red shirt was driving, and behind, with folded arms, sat a military looking man in a blue coat. Grodno, who was under shelter of a big rock, slightly in advance of the boys, turned round and fiercely commanded them to lie low aud niake no noise. He deliberately drew back the trigger of his rifle and thrust the muzzle out through the branches, whispering as he did so to Hamid, who at once cocked his revolver and crept a foot closer to the path. The wagon was now within 20 yards of the spot, rattling smoothly over the grassy road, and still the boys failed to realize the dreadful significance of Grodno's preparation. When the awful truth did flash into Maurice's mind, the next instant, it was already too late. 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