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«] tnlliar vofoe of the utarosta callea on them to open. With a sudden change of demeanor Platoff seized the handle and flung the door far back. The torch gleam from the yard revealed the starosfca and a turly captain of Cossackg standing on the threshold. CHAPTER! -Vladimir Saradoff, a Russian, exchanged significant glances, but be- rk^Hammo'n? arAmeflcan.'^^^afr'o^^s f °re they conld Hpeak the starosta flung nephew'aceatn. conspires to have him sent to open the door and entered. Hamtond'and^^^eno'l-bnip ^InversVr- i ' 'A courier ha. arrived with procla- rive at 8t. Petersburg, and Saradotr lays plf-ns mations," be said breathlessly. it to have them arrened as cpnspjratoro against 8eetas t ^ at tce escaped convicts who the government. Ill and IV- Hammond at a review saves tbo life of Colonel Jaroslar. Pro- , oeedlnir to Moscow, they are arrested and sent to Blbera. On the way the boat on which they travel catches flre, and i hoy. wlta two other convicts escapt in a skiff. V VI and VII— Hammond and i anvers puisue their way with the two other prl-onere, who attack an approaching wagon, Hammond and Danvers defend an officer in the wag-on. A. troop of Cossacks , appears and recaptures all the prisoners. The I officer tells the Americans taut they will • probably be shot butln view of their services to him lie will do all he can for them. Vlll, IX X— They are sentenced to be shot. Thtf sen ; tence is commuted to imprisonment at Kara, but a rint in which they » re involved results in their being put to work in vhe mines of Kara ' XI. Xll and Xlll— Ar, the mines Captain i Darom in attempts to kiss Lora MelikotT, ai d Hammond knocks him down. Daiomrn orders him to be shot. Lora saves him, and uaroman discovers that ehe is ibe daughter of Colonel Melikoft. XIV. XV, XVI, XV11 and XV111- Lora furnishes Hammond with tools and a plan of escape. Hammond, Danvers and P.atoff escape and work up the river Kara, reaching a cave to which Lora has directed them. XX— They start on their Journsy to the Pacific soast. CHAPTEB XXI. A MIDNIGHT ALARM. They traveled 40 miles that day, reaching at sunset a wayside post station, a one story log building. Close by were a couple of houses and a telegraph office. The atarosta, or station master, provided a warm supper and a bed in one corner of the room. The sledge was hauled into the yard, and under half a dozen bif? furs Phil passed a fairly comfortable night. In the morning a Bussian officer demanded the passports. They were returned without comment, and ten minutes later the Bledge, drawn by a fresh troika, was speeding to the eastward. Thus for a whole week they rode on across Siberia, each honr drawing nearer to safety. Nicolas Poussin spoke but little. He preserved a grave and silent demearor and drove his horses with an unspurii:g hand. Spring was not far I off, and he was anxious to reach Vladivostok before the mild weather made sleighing impossible. Smuggled up in furs, Platoff and Maurice sat far back under the leather hood, while Phil, cramped and uncomfortable, remained in his narrow place of concealment. They passed mauy travelers on the road — Tartars,mercbants, peasants and occasionally Cossack soldiers or Russian officers — but no unpleasant incidents occurred. Nicolas Poussin 's passports carried them through all dangerous places. Sometimes they slept in the same room at night with soldiers or dined with them at the same tuble. On such occasions Nicolas Poussin conversed for himself and his companions. Phil had the hardest timo of all, sleeping at night in the station yards and eating such food as his companions could smuggle out to him, but he bore all without complaint. Day by day traveling became more difficult, and it was well that Nicolas Poussin was able to procure fresh troikas each morning, for when night came the horses were often completely worn out from dragging the heavy sledge over bare places in the road and through the slushy snow. On the seventh evening, just as the gun was going down redly over the pine crowned hills to the westward, they reached a small Siberian village, Vastak by name, and drove into the spacious yard of the station. Sleepy looking peasants in gay costumes were standing about in the street, and a few soldiers were visible. The station honse was larger than many of its kind, aud at Nicolas Poussiu's request the staros- ta gave the travelers a small private room, and presently brought in dishes of bread, meat and cheese and a steaming samovar. In the middle of the repast a Russian officer entered, and with many apologies requested their passports. He glanced them over briefly and bowed his way out. As the door closed Nicolas Poussin drew a small map from his pocket and spread it out on the tahls. "I will show you where we are," he said abruptly. "Yon remember that we left the Amur some days ago and turned up the bed of the Ussnri. Here, you see, is the Amur running to the northeast, while the Ussuri flows directly north. Consequently \ve are traveling south. We have reached this point," designating a spot on the map, "aud now Vladivostok is but 200 miles away. I have brought you farther than I hoped to do. Yon see it will be dangerous to continue the use of these passports, for the men whose names yon bear are known to many of the officials between here aud the Pacific. For your safety and mine we must part. I will provide you with sufficient food, mid if yon are cautions you will reach the coast in safety. ' ' "Yes, you are right," said Platoff •with emotion. "Tomorrow we will leave you. Better that we should take the risks of recapture than" — "Stop," said Poussiu. "You forget. I wish to hear nothing. I don't know who you are, understand, or where you are going. You saved my life. That is all I choose to remember. " A commotion was suddenly heard outside, and he turned to the window. The interest depicted on his face drew his companions to the spot Out in the station yard a Cossack surrounded by an were seen near Tolnmr have eluded pursuit and cannot be ionnd. Of course they have not reached this neighborhood yet, but the government wishes to be on the safe side, and so they are posting notices from station to station." "Ah," said Ponssin coolly, "we have heard something of that on our •way. And so they have slipped off from the Boldiers, have they? Well, they will be caught sooner or later. Have yon one of the placards with yon? It would be wise for us to read the descriptions in case we ran across the fellows," The starosta rushed out of the room and into the yard. "Keep cool," said Poussin. "There is not the slightest cause for fear. I saw these placards a month ago." The fellow was back in an instant, paper in hand. "Here, yon read it; my eyea are bad," said Poussin, and he handed it to Platoff. Maurice, to conceal his emotion, turned to the samovar and drew a cup ol tea, but Platoff coolly took the paper and read aloud in a firm, clear voice: TWO THOUSAND RUBLES REWARD. The above sum will be paid for the arrest of three convicts who escaped in February from the mines nt Kara; one tall and light haired, his companions of medium height, and dark. At the time of their escape two of them wore the ,,jrison garb; the ether was attired In a Cossack uniform. They are journeying down the Amur valley, and all persons are hereby warned to extend no aid whatever under the severest penalties. GENERAL MELIKOFJT, Governor of the Mines of Kara. "Rather a meager description," said Platoff, laying the paper aside. "Ah, but their clothes," exclaimed thestarosta. "That is a sure identification. It is impossible that they could have procured others." "Were the convicts still wearing the prison clothes when seen near Toluar?" asked Poussin suddenly. "It was not the men who were seen," said" the starosta, "only traces of them, a trail in the snow—and hot ashes of fire." Platoff-darted a reassuring glance at Maurice. "Well, my good man," broke in Ponssin, "depend upon it the rascals will be captured, and serve them right, and now be sure to have a fresh relay of horses ready at early dawn. I must reach Vladivostok before a warm spell sets in. " The starosta promised obedience and left the room. "A good sleep will be necessary," said Poussin. "We shall have a hard day's journey tomorrow." He spread his rugs on the floor and stretched himself flat. Piatoft filled his pockets with bread and meat and hurried away to give Phil his supper. He was back in ten minutes. "The boy is all right," he whispered to Maurice, "and the sledge is in a safe place. It won't be disturbed." They carried on a whispered conversation for a few moments, with Poussiu snoring heavily at their side, and finally both fell asleep. Maurice woke some hours later with a confused din ringing in his ears. He sat np, listening intently, and presently the vague sounds resolved themselves into a clatter of hoofs, the tread of hurrying feet and a babel of voices. A yellow glare was shining into the room, and, rushing to the window, he saw a dozen mounted Cossacks standing in the station yard. Two or three peasants were holding blazing torches, and a fast increasing crowd was pouring in at the gates. At that instant Maurice felt a hand on his shoulder, and, turning, he saw Platoff. "Lost!" hissed the Russian. "We are betrayed. The soldiers are seeking ns. Look at that scoundrel I" And he pointed to the starosta, who was standing at one side conversing with the captain of the Cossacks. "They shall not take me alive! I swear it!" he added fiercely, and, springing across the room, he tore his pistol from his coat. Maurice, pale and trembling, turned from the window. "Quick!" exclaimed Platoff. "Follow me. We may escape through the rear.'' He moved toward the door as he spoke, but before he could reach it Nicolas Ponssin came sleepily forward. "Ha! How's this?"What does all this noise mean?" he asked. Platoff dragged him to the window and pointed to the soldiers ia the yard, "They are seeking ns," he said. "Some wretch has put them on our track. It is not too late yet to escape, provided a way is open in the rear. My only fears are for your safety. How can you explain? How can you extricate yourself from your perilous position?" "I do not believe the soldiers are here for that purpose," said Ponssin in a calm voice, but the pallor of his face belied his words. "I advise you to wait before you attempt anything rash." "They are coming," cried Platoff, as footsteps were heard in the next apartment, and, rusiing to the door, he propped his huge frame against it, calling on Maurice to assist. "Be careful, be careful!" said Pons"Don't go too far." CHAPTER XXIL A DARING DEED. The starosta evidently failed to notice the consternation that his visit had produced. "Pardon, a thousand pardons, your honor!" he exclaimed volubly, addressing Poussin, who had pushed his way to the front. "I am sorry that I most disturb you, but I really have no choice, as your honor can readily see for yourself. This is a government position, yon know, and of course I must be very careful"— '' What are you talking about?'' inter rnpted Poussin angrily, glancing aslant at his com pan ions, who had edged across the room. "Speak and explain yourself." "Why, don't you know?" said the starosta in a surprised tone. "Didn't you hear the noise and see the Cossacks in the yard? His excellency the govern ment inspector will be here in an hour or two, and this room must be made ready for him. He was not expected so soon, but it seems that he fears the warm weather will set in before he reaches the Pacific. He has come clear from St. Petersburg. This is the commander of the Cossack advance guard, who always precedei his excellency some miles." And the starosta indicated the officer at his side, who at cncu muttered out an apology for disturbing the travelers at their rest. Back in the shadow of the wall Platoff and Maurice drew a sigh of relief that was audible in the doorway. Pons- sin, too, was overcome by the sudden transition from deipair to hope, but he retained his self possession admirably and replied with a well assumed touch of indignation: ' 'It is shameful that travelers should suffer these inconveniences, but since it is his excellency the inspector who inquisitive crowd was nailing a big I •"> nervously. white placard to one of the gateposts. , A **>**? wt-tat-tat "WM beard, on the Tb« distance was too great to distin- | B*n«l8, w>d. as no one answered* the fa- gnisb it» contents. Maurice and Plai-rff Platoff seized, the handle and fluna the door far back, wishes onr apartment we will gladly give it up. Convey to him our best regards on his arrival. And now where can we sleep for the remainder of the night?" "I can put you on the floor of the postroom," said the starosta doubtfully, "if your honor doesn't object to the other occupants." "AndwLoplse is there?" askedPous- sin. ^* " Well,\pwplied the starosta, counting on l)is lingers, "there are four peasants, and two soldiers, and a Cossack lieutenant, and three drnnken buriats, and a merchant from Tomsk, and a dog"— "That will do," interrupted Pons- sin. "I don't want to hear any more. I see that the moon is shining. Traveling will be good. Fetch me a relay of the best horses you can get, and at once, mind you. We will start immediately and make up for loss of rest at the next station we reach." "But, your honor," stammered the starosta, "I am afraid—horses—they are scarce, and his excellency will want"— Here he paused and glanced over his shoulder, but the Cossack, having lent his presence to the edict of expulsion, had made his way unnoticed into the courtyard. Poussin readily interpreted these little maneuvers. "Get me the horses, and I will give you 10 rubles extra," he said. "I want provisions also. Put me in sufficient for five days' travel. One cannot procure food fit for a dog to eat at the stations between here and Vladivostok. '' "But food is even scarcer than horses," said the starosta with a greedy twinkle ia his eye. "All that can be procured will be consumed by his excellency and party." '"Provide what I want, and I will pay your price," replied Poussin. "Make ste, uow, and get our sledge ready. We will start at once, and his excellency can have this room." "Yes, your honor," said the starcsta, 'I will do my best." And, bowing low, be departed. Poussin carefully closed the door after him and crossed the room. 'You heard all our conversation?" he asked abruptly. "Yes," said Platoff. "Thank heaven we are safe! It was a Krrible fright, and I was sure that all was lost. Your coolness preserved us from a fatal blunder. Yon are a wonderful man!" "Yes, it is true that w« are safe for the present," answered Pousain, "but what I have just heard has a hidden meaning that I only could undentand. You remember my telling yon that I journeyed from Irkutsk to Toluar in company with two men under whose names and with whose passports yon •re now traveling?" "Yea," said Platoff, "I recollect" "Well," resumed Poossin, "ihotf men, airort and ijyaplli, are born KUS- sian officers, although they traveled incognito, and the passports made no mention of their rank. From Irkutsk they were sent ahead by his excellency the inspector, and when we arrived at Tol- uar a telegram reached them containing instructions to await the arrival of the inspector at that station. They traveled with me, yon see, in order that their rank might not be suspected. His excellency was not due at Toluar for some weeks, but it appears now that he has journeyed with unusnal rapidity. He will be here in an honr or two. Miroff and Lyapin are with him. An examination of passports will lead to the discovery of onr ruse, and disaster will follow." Ponssin threw himself on a chair and wiped the perspiration from his brow. "A bad state of affairs indeed!" said Platoff. "What can be done?" "Little, I fear," replied Poussin. have ordered the sledge at once, and we may gain some hours on his excellency. It all dep«nds, however, on a single tfoing—the examination of the passports. It is possible that no such inspection will be made, since the inspector anc his party are of such high rank. In thai event all will go well, and by hare traveling we can reach Vladivostok before the inspector, but if the passports are requested by the officer who examined ours last night, and'he hears the names of those men, the coincidence will at once strike him, and discovery will follow." "Either Co«gackswill then be sent in pursuit or orders will be telegraphed to the «ext station to arrest us on our arrival." "But the chances are in our favor," exclaimed Maurice eagerly. "At least so it seems to me. If these men had procured other passports, and these passports had been examined at various points along the route—points at which onr passports had also been examined— would not this discovery have been made long ago?" "Yes," assented Poussin. "And in that event," resumed Maurice, "would it not have been a simple matter to telegraph orders for our arrest?" Again Poussin nodded assent. "Very well," said Maurice triumphantly; ' 'it is plain that their passports have not heretofore been examined, Why, then, would they be at this particular point?" "That is clever reasoning," said Pouasin. "You are right. The chances are greatly in our favor. Moreover, it is barely possible that these men are not with his excellency at all. One cannot tell what may have happened. Perhaps they were sent back to Irkutsk or ordered to remain at Toluar, but we will take no chances on that. To stay here an hour longer is dangerous." At that instant a rap at the door was heard, and a second later the starosta entered. "All is ready," he said, "the fresh horses and the provisions. Ah, your honor, you little know with what difficulty I procured them. If it came to his excellency's ears, I should lose my place.'' "You are an extortionate rascal," said Poussin coolly. "You can tell lies like a burial. I won't quarrel over the price, though. I am in haste to leave. Here is the money for the horses, including the ten extra rubles. How much for the provisions?'' "Eight — eight rubles," stammered the starosta. "I assure yon, your honor, they cost me 7%"— "They didn't cost you two," said Poussiu scornfully; "but, here, take your money." And, dropping the coins into the outstretched hand, he led the way out, followed by Platoff and Maurice, bearing the rugs. It was 3 < 'clock in the morning. The postyard, lit by the glaring torches of the soldiery, was weird and unnatural. A splendid troika — three powerful black horses—was attached to the sledge, and the restless animals were stamping impatiently. PlatofE and Maurice took the back seat and drew the furs around them. A slight movement of the rugs in front showed that Phil was still safe in his retreat. He doubtless was curious to know what was going on. Poussin deliberately made an inspection of the food he had bought to see that everything was there, and, finally climbing to his seat, he roughly ordered the station attendants out of the road and chirruped to the horses. They trotted through the yard, and, turning the angle at the gate, under the very eyes of a dozen Cossacks, dashed off down the frozen, deserted street. The low houses, dim and gloomy, shot past like streaks, and, skimming over a slight ridge, the darkness was relieved by a bar of light shining from the military outpost—a small wooden structure by the roadside. "I forgot all about that," muttered Poussin as he pulled up bis horses in obedience to the stern command to halt. Two or three soldiers were lounging inside, and the officer who came forward with a lantern was the same man that examined their passports that morning. He held up the light and scrutinized their faces. "Ah, yes," he said, "I remember you. You just came last evening." "Yes," replied Ponssin. "We have been turned out of our beds." And he related in good humored tones how the expected arrival of the government inspector had deprived them of their room and started them off a few hours ahead of their usnal time. "Then yon are not connected with his excellency's party?" asked the officer. "Why, no," said Poussin, thrown off his gttaid by the question. "But your companions are," said: the officer, and, pulling a document from his pocket, he hastily unfolded it I find both your names here," he said, looking at Platoff, "Louis Miroff i and Serge Lyapin, This is 8 list of the inspector's party brought to me an hour ago by the captain of hi> excellency's .' guard . in order thai I might J topy It tor my monthly wpdrfc Seeing your names upon it, I supposed yon had preceded the inspector. May I ask why yon are leaving again before his arrival?" Platoff's courage rose to meet this trying emergency. "We belong to his excellency's party," he answered in a firm voice, "my companion and I. We are traveling incognito for reasons that must remain secret." Then, seeing that the officer hesitated, he added: '' Yon saw the passports properly made out in our names. Surely that is sufficient" Perhaps there was an ill suppressed touch of eagerness in Platoff 1 s voice. The officer's suspicions were plainly aroused. Without replying he held his lantern to Platoff's face and then turned it on Poussin, who sat white and miserable on the front seat. That woebegone countenance confirmed the officer's doubts. "I must put you to the inconvenience of a brief delay," he said. "No doubt all will be explained, but I dare not assume any risks. I will dispatch a man at once to bring the captain of the Cossack guard. He will know you, of eonrse." The officer moved quietly forward and caught the horses' lines, while three soldiers with rifles in their hands came out of the station and stood near the «ledge. " Yes," said Platoff. "He will know ns. Oh, yes, the captain will know us." His lips trembled, and he canght Maurice's wrist in a convulsive grasp. Poussin never turned his bead. He was trembling like a leaf. Ten seconds —twenty—half a minute. No one moved or spoke. Suddenly Platoff straightened np. With one quick, marvelous leap he sprang behind Poussin and snatched the linei and the whip from the nerveless fingers. He shouted fiercely and brought down the lash with stinging severity on the spirited horses. They reared in the air, tore madly from the officer's detaining grasp, and before the amazed soldiers could realize what had taken place the sledge was dashing like a meteor into the glooin. "Down!" Platoff shouted to Maurice. And, sweeping Poussin into the bottom of the sledge with one arm, he tightened his grip on the lines and dropped low himself. Craok! crack! crack! crack!—for two or three minutes the rifles popped continuously on the frosty air, and the bullets tore through the leather hood and splintered the woodwork on all sides. Then the last shot echoed and died away, and the flashes of red fire vanished, leaving the night darker than before by contrast. [TO BE CONTINUED.] : of the Tea T»ble. The old fashioned tea table is becoming a thing of the past, and an invitation to tea means nowadays, unless especially defined, the informal 5 o'clock tea, which is hardly considered in the light of an entertainment, being merely an excuse for receiving one's friends at a tated hour. Some of the old families who make a point of keeping np their traditions have retained for Sunday evening the American "tea"—a meal that is to most people rather a welcome change from the conventional and formal dinner, says the New York Tribuna It is very seldom that one sees in these up to date days the old regulation tea table, with its dishes of cold tongue and cold chicken thinly sliced; snowy biscuits, light as a feather; golden butter, homemade preserves that are the pride of the house mistress and delicious cake made by her own fair hands. All these dainties and more of the same kind, tastefully arranged amid flowers and fruit and silver candelabra on the polished mahogany which reflected in its mysterious depths the candles and ;heir myriad radiations, with the milder sheen of the highly polished silver— nothing could be prettier or more restful than the tea tables of yore. This dainty, old fashioned meal was as different as possible from what is called in England "high tea," which is really a rather "bigglety pigglety" dinner, with, not, smoking dishes of meat and vegetables, all served at once, and which, although under certain conditions may be convenient, can. never be elegant, the atter quality being a distinctive mark of a typical American tea. "I should love to keep up Sunday evening teas," says many a housekeeper, "but my husband insists upon having his dinner. 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