Logansport Pharos-Tribune from Logansport, Indiana on October 25, 1897 · Page 6
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October 25, 1897

Logansport Pharos-Tribune from Logansport, Indiana · Page 6

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Monday, October 25, 1897
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CHAPTER]. -Vladimir SaradolJ, a Russian, lieinir heir t" the i'ortUDO of Ills nephew, Man rice Hammond, an American, in rase of his nephew'g c eain. conspires to have him eent to Wu§sla in order to get him In his power. IT.- Hammond and his friend, Philip Danvers arrive at St. Petersburg, and Saradoff inye pli,ns to have them arrettea as conspiratore against the government. Ill and IV-Hacnnond at a review «a«;8 tbe life of Colonel .iHroslav. Fro oecdlns to Moscow, they are arrested and eent to gibera. On the way the boat on which they travel catchoe fire, and they, with two other convicts encapt In a skiff.V VI and VII—Ham-1 jnona and i anvers puisue their way with the i two other pri-oners, who attack an approaching wagon. Hammond and Danvers defend I an officer in the wagon. A troop of Cossacks | appears and recapture* all the prisoners. The officer tells the Americans th«t they will; probably be shot, but in view of their services . to him he will do all he can for them. VI11.1 .V i X-Tbey areBeiiteAccd tobe iibot. The Bfln i tence Is coromuttd to imprisonment at Kara, \ but a rlnt In which they i.re Involved results in their belnff put to work in the mines of Kara XI. Xll and Xlll—At. the irjines Captain Darouun attempt* to kiss Lora MelikotT, ai d Hammond knocks him down Daiomrn orders him to be shot. Lora saves htm, and uaromaa discovers that ehe Is the daughter of Colo*.el Melikoff. XIV, XV, XVI. XVll and XV111- Lora furnishes Hammond with tools and a plan of escape. Hammond. Danvers and Patoff escape and work up the river Kar«, reaching a cave to which Lora Las directed them. CHAPTER XtX. A DISPUTE WITH WOLVES. Platoff's outcry gave the boy§ a se- Tece fright. When they turned arotrad, the Russian was striding toward a dark wbjeot a few yards away. ' 'It was a foolish thing to shout BO loudly," he said. "I forgot the echo. It wan done before I had time to think. Itat see, I have made a fortunate dis- eovery." Hurrying to the spot, the boys were anrprised to find half a dozen wheelbarrows deeply imbedded in the snow. "A year ago or more mining operations were begun boyond this ridge," •aid Platoff, "so one of the convicts informed mo. These wheelbarrows were either forgotten or purposely abandoned, and now they will do us a good turn.'' "In what way?" asked Maurice. For answer Platoff pointed to the long slope of frozen snow. "Time is precious," he said, "and to make onr way down that slippery incline would be a difficult task. By taking these wheelbarrows apart we can go to the bottom of the valley in two or three minutes. The risk will be slight, for no trees or rocks can be seen." With some difficulty the clumsy barrows were torn loose from the frozen enow, and the shallow wooden beds detached from the wheels. Platoff chose a good position on the brow of the hill and fixed himself as comfortably as possible in the strange •led. "Don't start until I am 100 yards down," ho said to the boys. "If there is danger ahead, I will shout, and you can alter your course." He pushed himself gently off and went skimming down the hill at prodigious speed. "JSow, there, off we go!" said Maurice. "Hold tight, Phil, and don't be soared." He slipped over the crest and plunged downward. For a moment the clumsy box grated over the icy crust; then it went off with a rush that took Maurice's breath away, and his remembrance of what followed was always of the dimmest nature. Frightened by the terrific speed and the stinging force of the wind, he clung to the sides with all his might. Hissing like a buzzsaw, the sled whizzed down the first couple of slopes; then with a succession of heavy bumps it shot over a ridge and entered upon a longer and steeper incline. With a rush like a skyrocket it covered this half milu stretch and then leaped into the air. Maurice cried aloud as ho felt himself falling aud clutched the sled all the tighter. A crash—a crack—a blinding shower of snow—and then ho knew that the ride had ended. Overhead he saw the stars shining, wad struggling through the masses of light, powdery snow that enveloped him he gained the edge of the crust and climbed into the open uir none the worse for his adventure save a slight •ensation of dizziness. A dark figure was visible some distance away, and an instant later he was clasping hands with Platoff. "Phil—wbero is Phil?" he demanded anxiously. Platoff made no reply, arid together they ran over the crust. A black hole yawned before them, and leaning over tho brink Piatoff inserted his arm and helped out tho niissiug boy. Phil opened his eyefiand then his mouth. "Well, that bouts all the toboggan slides ever I saw!" ho said, looking up at the hills behind him with such a comical expression that his companions laughed. ''Thank heaven we ;\re safe!" said Platoff. "That was a perilous trip." And he pointed to the sharp cliff 20 feet abJve them over which the sleds had pli mged. "'All's well that ends well,'" replied Maurice. "I wonder if we last •nothing on the way." Nothing was massing, however, and, after a brief test, all were ready for the start, A suc- oeiision of slight hills aud ravines now •ejjarated the party from the river. "Somewhere below us lies the post raid," said Platoff. "It will not be liafe to approach any nearer. We mus; keep back aloug the edge of the valley. Our ride down hill has given us a tig •turt We can guiu a safe hiding place Wore daylight" The journey was resumed in single fll*, Platoff assuming the lead, nnd for boure they traveled over slippery ridges «nd through dark, thickly wooded hoi- Iowa. The cold was intense, hot they moved, at too rapid a paoe to suffer from ft ".£$ tte HrSt appearance oT <Ta"wti Platoff cast his eyes about for a hiding place, and finally chose a deep, secluded valley with a forest of spruce and fir on all sides. They slept at intervals during the day, and in spite of the risk a fire was kept up and fed with branches from the trees. One of the party remained constantly on guard. At night the journey was resumed over the hard crust. For nearly two weeks the weather remained pretty much the same, and the fugitives made satisfactory progress. They kept far back from the river, and although they frequently saw wolves at a distance and heard tham howling among the hills the brutes made no attempt to molest them. No signs of pursuit were encountered, and with each night's journey they felt more hopeful of ultimate escape. It was now early in the month of March—a whole year since the boys had first crossed the Russian frontier. Their main sufferings had been from oold ( but they were cheered by the hope of warmer weather. In a month or more, Platoff said, spring would come, and their discomforts would then be over. By great economy the supply of provisions had been made to last, but now, in tho beginning of the third week of their flight, barely enough food was left to last them two days, and the future outlook was dark. The day had been spent in hiding at the foot of a rocky hill. Water was close by—a mountain spring that was too cold and rapid to freeze. At sunset Platoff shared with the boys a scant supper of bread and dried meat. "Tomorrow," he said, "we must obtain food in some way. If we do not succeed in shooting any deer, extreme measures will be necessary. I shall endeavor to find a village and buy provisions." "Are inhere people living near here?" asked Maurice. "Oh, yes," replied Platoff; "Siberian towns are scattered all along the posting route, at distant intervals, cif course. Wo have seen nothing of them because we have kept far back in the forest. It may not be necessary, though, to take any such risks. Who knows what a day may bring with it?" Platoff spoke thus hopefully to encourage the boys. In his own heart the prospect was gloomy enough, and therefore what happened in the course of the next few hours was all the greater a surprise. They traveled rapidly that night, covering mile after mile of forest land and hearing constantly the howling of wolves in different directions. The accounts of the ferocity of Siberian wolves, however, are greatly exaggerated. It is seldom that they attack men, and the government sleighs that traverse the post road have never been molested. "Hereafter," said Platoff, "I think •we will sleep at night and travel in the daytime. The risk will be little greater, and we can make much better speed." "That will be splendid," said Maurice. "It always makes me weary to hear tho wolves howling." "They are more than usually noisy tonight," replied Platoff, "and they will become more dangerous as we near the Pacific. In daylight they lose their courage and are cowards." They traveled on in silence for a time. Suddenly Platoff halted and raised his Platoff flung Mm a yard or two away. hand. Far off in the forest a great tumult was heard. It swelled in volume each moment, until the boys could distinguish the howling of wolves and the scurrying of feet over the snow. At intervals a branch cracked sharply above the din. "They are coming this way," said Phil. ""What shall we do? Where shall we go?" "Hush. Don't be alarmed," exclaimed Platoff. "Stay just where you are." Motioning tbe boys bacfc, he crept forward to the brink of tbe ravine, which they had been about to cross- Down this hollow the wolves were evidently coming, and their furious outcries had a significance for Platoff which the inexperienced boys failed to understand. He drew out his revolver and examined it carefully. Then turning to Maurice he called out guardedly, "Get your weapon ready—be on the safe side, you know." The wolves were close at hand, and as Platoff crept a yard or two farther down the ravine a deer broke into view through the spruce thicket and dashed swiftly past him. The poor animal was nearly, exhausted .and ran. with difficulty. Taking a quick aim at the shadowy Platoff palled trigger. Ai th» re- eofcoed through tha wine *h« deer •w«s seen to fall, but it rose again quickly and aped on in flight That brief delay was fataL With wild howls half a doeen WO!T«S burst from the forest, and overhauling the fugitive in half a doz- «n leaps bore it still struggling to the ground not 20 yards from where Platoff stood. The boys, hearing the outcry and not knowing what was taking place, were inclined to run, but Platoff turned around, his face aglow with triumph, and shouted: "Follow me now. We can easily drive off this handful of wolves." Then he vanished down the ravine, pistol in hand. Maurice cocked his revolver and followed, shouting to Phil, who wan armed only with a knife, to keep in the rear. He reached the bottom of the gully almost at Platoff's side, and his baity glimpse of the straggle made plain the Russian's eagerness for the conflict. , The first glimmer of dawn shed a i dim light on the scene, and the gray forms of the wolves outlined against the I snowy whiteness of the ground afforded a fine opportunity for aim. The struggles of the wounded deer were over, and his assailants were swarming over its body, tearing the flesh with Huch ferocious haste that the approach of Platoff and Mannce was unheeded. "We must have that meat," whispered Platoff. "It will keep ns for weeks." And raising bis revolver he aimed at tho nearest wolf, * huge, gaunt brute, who toppled over simultaneously with the report. At the sam« instant Maurice fired, but unfortunately made a miss, and the remaining wolves, angered at this interruption to their feast, sprang in a body at tha daring intruders. Crack, crack, went Platoff's revolver, and down went the foremost animal, staining the snow a dark crimson. His second shot crippled another, who retreated with a mournful howl. Maurice, who remained admirably cool under this trying ordeal, killed a third by careful shooting, and the remaining uninjured brutes, two in number, very wisely retreated up the slope. The wounded wolf had crawled away under cover. "Hurrah! We've done it," cried Maurice with pardonable glee, and as he spoke a loud outcry was heard from Phil, who hud remained on top of the slope. Platofl" was off like a streak, with Maurice at his heels, and, gaining the ridge, they were horrified to see the lad struggling with one of the fugitive wolves. The crust had broken, and both were floundering abciut in the soft enow beneath. Platoff reached the spot in a couple of leaps, and, actually seizing the brute by the throat, lifted him up and flung him a yard or two away. He reached for his revolver, but it was missing, and, snatching the knife from Phil, who was now rising unsteadily to his feet, he turned just in time to meet the rabid animal's attack. The wolf was not a large one, but what he lacked in size he made up in ferocity, and for a moment Platoff's position was one of extremest peril. The brute landed on his breast, and for a second^5r$ two he tottered. Then, recovering Bmiself, he clutched the woolly throat in one hand and with the other struck repeatedly with the knife. The muscular blows went home, tbe brute's efforts relaxed, and down he went on the blood stained snow, a limp and lifeless heap. Platoff coolly wiped the blood from his hands aEd examined the scratches on his arms and breast. "I'm not hurt," he said in answer to the boys' eager inquiries. "The marks are only skin deep. I dropped my revolver somewhere or I would have settled him without all this fuss." "Yon saved my life," exclaimed Phil. "In a moment more his teeth would have been in my throat. The brute sprang on me from that thicket there, and when we fell the crust broke. That is wh'at kept me from being bitten. I don't believe I'm hurt at all, except for my clothes," And he pointed to the front of his coat, all ripped and banging in tatters. Platoff disdained all praise and strode off to look for his lost revolver. It was found half way down the slope, where he had dropped it while running to Phil's assistance. It was now nearly daylight, and Platoff started at once to cut up tbe deer. It was a long and difficult task with but one knife, and a dull one at that, but an hour after sunrise the choice parts of the meat had been removed and packed for carriage. "Now," said'Platoff, "wemust leave here. It is just possible that our shots reached somebody's ears, and it will be a wise proceeding to put some miles between us and this spot." CHAPTER XX. A GOOD SAMARITAN. As a more effective safeguard Platoff led the boys deeper into the forest, and i they plodded on for sozue miles before • stopping even to eat v Refreshed by a i heartv meal, they then trsiveled until i nearly evening and camped in a sheltered hollow. Of-course a fire was necessary not only for warmth, but to keep off prowl! ing wolves. The night was divided in! to watches, each taking bis turn at guard duty and feeding the fire. For half a week more they journeyed , on without incident, and then a sspell of wet weather set in, which continued i several days and made traveling impos- ! sible. But ic soon grew cold again, and I a crust formed on what little snow remained. This good weather lasted for two weeks, and tbe fugitives took advantage of it to travel rapidly and steadily. ! They subsisted mainly on the venison, i but the bill of fare was varied occaaion- jally by a rabbit or a pheasant which ; Platoff succeeded in knocking over. At times during their march the Amur was in sUnt, and the telegraph poles that f allow the poet road could be dimly made out But for the most part they kept well back in the hills and had the ! rare good fortune to avoid meeting any j one, though signs of human beings were frequently encountered. Tbe boys endured their sufferings and j hardships with a stoicism that eicited j Platoff's admiration, and their health j remained good. As the first of April drew near they began to hope for milder weather, but as yet no change was visible. It remained cold, -with occasional snowstorms of brief duration. One evening, after a weary march of 20 miles or more, i'hey discovered a deserted cabin on the banks of a mountain stream. The -wall was fitted with bunks, and in the closet was found a hard loaf of bread—a welcome discovery, for food had been very scarce daring the past week. Soaked in water, this made a palatable meal, and the last crumb was devoured with a relish. "We can keep warm •without a fire tonight," said Platoff. "I am afraid we are near habitations." "How far have we come," asked Maurice, "and how far do you suppose it is to Vladivostok?" "That is a difficult question to an- »wer," replied Platoff. "We have been traveling in such a zigzag course that tbe journey has been necessarily lengthened. I have tried to keep a mental record, though, and I can give you a fair idea of what we have done. We have been on the road nearly seven weeks, and I think we have averaged nearly 100 miles a week. Taking off 100, which is a good allowance for our deviations, we have marched 600 miles down the Amur and are only 400 miles from the ocean. Bear in mind, though, that onr most dangerous journey is ahead, and that we may have to rnake •till greater circuits." Then we are at least half way?" said Maurice. Yes, half our journey is over," replied Platoff. "Heaven grant us equal prosperity during th« remainder." The boys were agreeably surprised to hear this. The whole distance covered seemed to them very large. They did not think of the long marches patiently endured through nearly every day of these seven weeks. 'In the morning," resumed Platoff, "•we will go down this stream toward the river. Onr rubles must now be turned to some account. Pood we must have. If we continue eating this half raw flesh, we will be ill." That was a long to be remembered night. The cabin was snugly sheltered by the hills, and all enjoyed a restful, unbroken sleep until morning, dispensing entirely with guard duty. They were off at daybreak, after a hasty breakfast, and traveled rapidly down the stream through a thickly wooded and rock strewn ravine. It was at least four miles to the river, but a little more than an hour's march brought them in sight of its frozen surface. The hollow wan thickly wooded with pine and spruco, and under its welcome cover the fugitives felt little fear. "Ah, there is the post road," said Platoff, and he pointed through a break in the trees to a couple of sail telegraph poles. They crept to its very edge, and the boys looked with curiosity at the smooth highway scarred with recent sled tracks. A solid bridge of logs was built across the stream, and not 20 yards off, down a slight incline, was the Amur. Not a habitation was in sight, only a barren stretch of ice and snow and wooded hills. Below the road faded into the dim distance, but up stream a sharp curve cut off the view. Platoff stood as though in deep thought, scanning the wintry landscape, and the boys hesitated to disturb bis reverie. Suddenly from round the cnrve above was heard a sharp jingling of bells, faint at first, but rapidly growing louder. Platoff excitedly pushed the boys bacfc into a dense sprnca thicket that bordered the road. "Keep low and don't make a sound," he whispered. From their retreat it was possible to gee the curve in the road, and on this all fixed their eyes expectantly. The jingle of the bells came nearer and nearer, ringing out as though tbe horses were running at fall speed, and now above their clatter was heard a voice raised to its highest pitch. "Something is wrong," whispered Platoff, and as the words left his lips a huge sled burst round the curve at full gpeed. It was a clumsy vehicle, with a A. few strol&s brought Platoff to the half unconscious man. leather hood over the rear end, drawn by a troika, a team of three horse.? harnessed abreast The one inmate, a bearded m;m, muffled to his nose in furs, was tagging fiercely at the lines with an expression of teiTor on his face. The«e details tbe boys noticed atone rweeping glance. "The horses »re running away," exclaimed Platoff, and that instant the frighten*! brutes, tumble to round the bend a* their terrific speed, plunged down the slope, dragging the heavy sledge behind them. Tbe mouth of the Etream, witia its fringe of treacherous ice, was juitt at hand, but they dashed madly forward, and with a mighty crash horses, sledge and driver went through into the dark waters. Platoff •turned to bin companions. "Stay here," he said- "I must save that m'an." And bounding across the road he ran down the slope to the river. The true nobility of this deed did not occur at once to the boys. At any moment other sledges or troops of soldiers j might pass along the road, and, as for ] the man struggling in the water, he j was very likely a Russian official who would put pursuers on their track and j drag them back to a living death at the J mines. They realized the danger, of coarse, and felt momentarily angry at Platoff for imperiling at one move their dearly purchased freedom. Then more zeneirous impulses came to the front, and breaking out of tben> hiding place they ran down the bank, catching up with Platoff at the very water's edge. He looked at them with an approving glance instead of the rebuke they had expected. "Be ready when I need you,"he said, and plunging instantly into the water he swam toward the driver of the siedge, who was clinging to the fore j end, uttering feeble appeals for help. The ice had broken for some yards around, and the swift current was drag- jing horses and sledge toward the low- yc rim, which was firm and solid. A few strokes brought Platoff to the half unconscious man's side, and, tearing him loose, be took him by the collar and swam back toward the shore. The distance was slight, bat both men were burdened with heavy clothes. Platoff's tremendous strength prevailed, however, and he gained the bank in safety with his burden. "Rub his hands aud. face," he shouted to the boys. "Keep nim moving." And darting off again he reached the lower edge of the ice just as the current swept the horses to the spot. Grasping the nearest one by the bridle, he turned bis head toward shore, and by dint oJf shouting and hard pulling urged the •whole team forward until they could touch bottom. Tbe rest of the task was easy, and soon the sledge was standing on firm ground none the worse apparently for the accident. The boys meanwhile were trotting the rescued man up and down. He was shivering so intensely from bis cold bath that all attempts to speak were vain. When he saw the sledge safely on lihore, he tottered up to it and drew from one coraer a big flask of vodka. He took a hearty gulp and considerately passed it to Platoff, who was now shivering in his turn. Tbe fiery fluid put warmth into their bodies at once, and tbe stranger burst into a profuse declaration of thanks. "Never mind," said Platoff, "it was nothing. I could not have done less. Build a fire quick, "he added, to the boys, "a big, large one. some distance up the ravine." It required but a few moments to execute this order, and the welcome blaze was soon sending out a grateful warmth. The stranger brought from his sledge a dozen fur robes, and, discarding their wet garments, he and Platoff wrapped themselves snugly in these. The horses were standing quietly by the roadside, looking very forlorn in their dripping condition. "The brutes were scared a mile back at a cowardly wolf that crossed the road," said the stranger. "Had you not come to the rescue I should now be at the bottom of the Amur. I fully appreciate vour kindness, much more than you think possible." And he glanced keenly at the fugitives. "I teld you it was nothing," answered Platoff coldly. ' 'By chance we heard your cries and came to tbe rescue. We are far hunters, and we live a few miles up this stream." The stranger made no reply, but kept his keen gaze fixed on tbe party. He was a fine looking man, heavily built and light bearded, while his manner of speech proved him to be intelligent, Platoff endured this scrutiny with secret uneasiness, glancing from time to time toward the road and anxiously feeling his we* clothes, which were drying- over the fire. "I beg your pardon," he said deliberately, "but the horses must be driven hard if you would avoid any ill effects of their cold plunge. The ice is forming on them already. I would advise you to lose no time in starting for the next posting station." "What will yon do?" asked the stranger quietly. Platoff's face flushed, and in visible embarrassment he attempted to frame a reply- Maurice, who was watching him closely, saw his eyes flash and anticipated trouble. "Hold on," said tbe stranger. "Keep cool. I have something to say. My name is Kicolas Poussin, and I am a merchant of Vladivostok. I have been to Irkutsk on business and am on my way home. Two friends accompanied me as far as Toluar, a town 50 miles behind. In their haste they left their passports in my possession, and I have them now. Beyond Tolnar I met many Cossacks, and, I was informed that three 'politicals' who escaped some time ago from Kara had been seen in the vicinity, and the soldiers were on their track." He paused and looked his hearers full in the face. Platoff, with a livid countenance, leaned over and drew Maurice's revolver from his belt. He cocked it and laid it on his knee. "2s~ow, what nest?" he said. "Go on with your story." "Well," resumed .Nicolas Poussin, without the least show of fear, "one good tum deserves another. My sledge is roomy, and rny horses are strong. If yon hav« any desire to journey toward the Pacific. I will take yon with me for gome distance. Tbe extra passports that I have will serve for two of you. The third can be hidden in the bed of the sledge. I prefer that yon should give me no information. I don't want to know who you are, you Mderetand?" "God bless you," exclaimed Platoff, embracing the worthy man's hand, my suspicions. But yon aw » risk—a tembl* risk.'' "Never mind about that," npltot Ponssin. "All I ask is caution. OC course I dare not take yon «lear to Vladivostok. That is understood. Bvt let us waste no more time. Our clotbtt are dry, and we can start" The" boys could barely realia* at Ant the full measure of their good fortune A moment before tbe tidings that tb* Cossacks were on their track had HIM their hearts with despair. Now a merciful hand was stretched out to ia*» them. Platoff'* heroism had brought ita own reward. It was impossible to doubt Kicolat Ponssin ? s sincerity. His frank, ope* face, his honest, gray eyes, were tnitk itself. Quickly the dry clotl^s were donnod, the fire was smothered with wet snow, and they climbed into the big sledga. Under its front seat was an empty space just big enough for Phil, and h* was snugly tucked in place with rug*. " Wear these," said Nicolas Ponggin. handing Platoff a pair of green goggles and Maurice a huge fnr cap and tippet "Sit there." And he motioned to th« rear seat under tho leather hood. "Remember,"headded, "yourname« are now Louis Miroff and Serg« Don't forget." He climbed up in froint and the lines. The horses dashed away om* gallop, jingling their bells, and fe« sledge scraped merrily over the frown crust-—toward tbe Pacific. 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