Logansport Pharos-Tribune from Logansport, Indiana on October 27, 1897 · Page 24
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October 27, 1897

Logansport Pharos-Tribune from Logansport, Indiana · Page 24

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Wednesday, October 27, 1897
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CHAPTER 1. -Vladimir Saradoff, a Russian, bcinir heir to the fortuno of his nephew, Mau -1 rice Hammond, an Aroeiican, In rage of bis • nephew'i ceain, conspires to have him sent to Hussla in order to get him In bis power. II.— Hammond and his friend, Philip Danvers arrive at 8t Petersburg, and Saradoff lays plfcns | to have them arrested as conspirators against; tbe government. IU and IV-Haomond at a • review aavea tbe life of Colonel Jaroaiav. Proceeding to Moscow, they are arrested and sent to Bibera. On the way t'ae boat on which they travel catches fire, and i bey, with two other couvictTescapt In * aldtt.V VI and VH-Hara- roond and i/anvers pursue their way with the two other prisoners, who atuck an approaching wagon. Hammond and Danvers defend »n officer in the wagon. A troop or Cossacks appears and recaptures »H the prisoners. 3 ne officer tells the Americans tbfct they will probably be shot, but in view of their services to him he will do ail ho can lor them. Vlll, IX X-Tbey are senteiced to be shot. The s«n- tence is commuted to imprisonment at Kara, but a ri"t In which they sre involved results in their being put to work In the mines of Kara XI Xii and Xlll—AT, the mines Captain Darom'-in attempt* to kiss Lora MeJikoff, ar d Hammond knocks him down. Daiomrn orders him to be shot. Lora saves him, and jaromaa dUcovers that elio i« ihe daughter of Colonel Melilcoff. XIV. XV. XVI, XVII and XV111- Ixira furnishes Hammond with tools and a plan of escape. Hammond, Danvers and, p.fctoff escape and work up the river Kara, ' reaching a cave to which Lora has directed them. XX—They start on their journey to the) Pacific toast. CHAPTER XXin. PURSUIT AND ESCAPE. Platoff'g brave deed would probably have resulted disastrously had it not been for the presence of mind which prompted him to drag his companions to the bottom of the sledge. This, no doubt, saved their lives, for although the bullets whistled by on all aides no one was struck, "When the firing ceased, Platoff rose to his feet and looked back. The lights of the military post had vanished behind a slight crest. In the village beyond, which was on somewhat higher ground, a few scattered lights could be seen. "Are they coming?" asked Poussin , as he rose and climbed on the seat. 1 "No," said Platoff; "I can't hear j any sounds of pursuit. They have no | horses, you know." "All seems quiet behind us,"said; Maurice, who was leaning over the back scat. "What's the matter? Who was shooting?" demanded a smothered voice, and Phil poked his head aud shoulders from under the rugs. Platoff briefly explained what had \ just taken place and then turned his attention to the horses, which had stuck to the road in spite of the lack of guidance, and were dashing forward at a tremendous pace. "Hand me the lines," said Poussin. "I will drive now." And with a touch of the whip he sparred tbe horses to still greater efforts. "Stop!" said Platoff. "For your own eafety you must put us off by the road. Your peril is too great already. It will be increased if you are caught in our company. Put us off right here, and we can easily escape to the hillsi" "No," replied Pousain; "I will do nothing of the kind. At present there is no danger. The military outpost is nearly half a mile from the post station in the village. To give the alarm it is necessary for one of the soldiers to go there on" foot. Of course the Cossacks will at once start in pursuit, but their horses are pretty well worn out, while ours are fresh. "The next station is 50 miles distant. I can keep in advance of our pursuers at least that far. When daylight comes, I will let yon out, and you can seek safety in the hills. Your absence will not be discovered until I reach tbe station, where, of oourse, I shall be arrested at ouce.'' "Ah, my friend, escape with us," implored Platoff. "Together we will reach the coast and sail on some friend- Jy vessel to a better country than this. Don't trust yourself to the mercies of these tyrants. They will inflict some terrible punishment"— "I do not fear," interrupted Poua- iin. "I can make an explanation which I think will save me. I have not time "WJio KXI-S shooting?" demanded Phil. to explain now. \Yhat J have done for you was only a debt. You saved my life. I hope I have saved yonrs. Remember your identity is unknown to me. It is even possible that the authorities will not discover for some time who my strange passengers were. Your disguise is effective, and the fact that a third man was concealed in the sledge will never be knovrn.'' In spite of Platoff's continued entreaties, Poussin remained firru. Holding the horses witJa a skilled band, he urged them on unsparingly, •nd the sledge skimmed over the frozen ground at a speed which made the land- ioape on each side one dizzy blend. Hour after hour passed on. The dark «ky paled gradually, and a gray light •tola over the frozen plain until the distant hilli were dimly seen. Morning wtl olwe at hand, and yet no trace ot »he pursuit was visible. Eastward the rugged hill tops were flecked with pale j crimson—a rosy mist beneath which j the morning gun was creeping upward. The atmosphere waa clear and radiant, revealing every tree and rock for miles around. Still the horses aped on cntir- ingl/, their nostrils white with foam, the?*' glossy flanks damp and gleaming. Platoff and Ponsain were on the front seat, Maurice and Phil behind. All were grave and silent, scanning the landscape intently, straining their ears to catch the slightest sound. It was Maurice who sounded tbe alarm. His sharp cry echoed on the frosty air. His arm pointed straight to tbe northward, and, turning quickly, all saw on the rolling crest of a distant hill i a single black streak moving in a ser- ' pentine course down the slope. "Cossacks!" ejaculated Platoff. "A whole company at least. They are oom- ing at full speed." "Be calm," said Poussin. "They are fully two miles distent. The time has come to part." He touched up the horses, and they dashed at a furious gallop over the ley- el ground. His companions, turning in their seats, watched the approaching soldiers until they gained the plain and vanished behind the gentle undulations of the road. A moment later the sledge swept over a ridge, and Poussin drew up the panting horses in the hollow of a wooded ravine. A bubbling mountain stream poured down from the hills and emptied into the Ussum, some yards distant. ' 'There is no time to lose," said Pons- ( sin as the fugitives sprang to the ground. | "Take these provisions, take a rug apiece, strike back into the heart of the hills and wade up the bed of the stream until the road is out of sight. Make a wide detour to reach Vladivostok. God be with you and help you to escape! There will be plenty of vessels in the j harbor at this time of year. Vladivostok is now but 170 miles away by the road. Do you need anything else!" "No." exclaimed Platoff. "We have everything. Heaven grant that no harm comes to you! I have known many brave men in my time, but none thai; would have dared to do what you have done"— "Go!" said Poussin huskily. "Don't delay. Remember I must lead your pursuers far off the track that you may have time to escape." One at a time they clasped the brave merchant's hand fervently and with tears in their eyes. "Goodby, goodby!" they called out chokingly. "Farewell!" said Poussin. "God be with you!" And, bringing down the whip on his restless horses, he sv,-ept up ! the ravine and vanished from sight over ' the pine crowned ridge. The halt had been of less than two minutes' duration. The Cossacks were still two miles in the rear, and the chances of escape were good. The fugitives had climbed out of the sledge on some loose stones that bordered the stream. Platoff led the way carefully down to the water's edge, and, stepping fearlessly in, they vrnded briskly up tbe shallow channel, thus leaving no trace behind to show that the sledge had been relieved of its load at that point. For fully a mile they remained in the water, penetrating deeper and deeper into the forest. The weather was slightly milder, but the snow was still covered with a firm crust, and their feet made no impression on it as they turned aside from the stream and ascended the hill. The country was wild and rugged, more so than it had been at any time. The forest was g'oomy and dim, and the hills were gaunt and rocky, full of precipices and dark chasms. "We are very near the Chinese border," said Platoff. "That is why tbe scenery is so vrild and lonely. The country is uninhabited." Fortified by their long rest, the fugitives traveled all that day at a rapid pace, covering at least 25 miles, and when twilight came on they halted among a heap of loose stones and made themselves comfortable with the rags that Poussiu had given them, and which they bad carried on their backs all that day. Not daring to light a fire, they ate their supper cold, and then, not being able to sleep, talked for an honr or more over the situation. Platoff was much distressed about Ponssin, •'I fear that he will be punished severely."!^ said. "Tbe government will never overlook such a thing as this, and yet he spoke as though he would be able to make a satisfactory explanation." "Yes, he did," said Maurice. "Perhaps he has some influence at Vladivostok." "Either that," replied Plato5, "or he is a man of wealth and can bribe the officials to oveilook his indiscretion. Money is a powerful agent in this part of Siberia, 6, COO miles from St. Petersburg." "How about the pursuit?" asked Maurice. "Well," said Platoff, "of course they will raaie an effort to scour the coon- try, but we can readily »void the soldiers. The coast will be olosely watch- I even oe suspected yet, although the discovery must be made sooner or later Don't worry over the situation, but keep up your courage." And with this admonition Platoff wrapped himself tighter in his rug and went calmly to sleep. Maurice and Phil did not remain long awake. The spot they had chosen was a sheltered nook between a dozen big rocks, into which no cool wind conld penetrate, and all slept as only weary men can, waking strengthened and refreshed at early dawn. Platoff slipped away on a reconnois- sance and returned in half an hour with the welcome news that no intruders were in the neighborhood. "I think we can risk a little fire this morning," he said, and gathered a few pine cones and dried tips of branches. He lit them «od held a tin flask of cold tea in the flimes. He smothered the fire with snow, and the warm beverage was a grateful addition to the breakfast. On that day they first journeyed two or three miles to the westward, drawing still closer to the borders of Mongolia, and then headed slightly to the southeast, where Vladivostok lay. Tha same wild and barren country prevailed, and Platoff marched with great caution, keeping hi* revolver ready for immediate use and bidding Maurice do the same. This was not from any fear of meeting the Coisacks, for danger from this source was slight, but because they were now in a neighborhood frequented by large and ferocious tigers, and a casual encounter with one of these monarohs was not at all improbable. Once huge footprints were seen in the snow, and ths boys felt their hair beginning to risa on end. On a closer examination it wag seen that the marks had been made during the last thaw, perhaps • month before, and were frozen solidly in the crust, In three whole days they met neither tigers nor oth«r peril, but marched on steadily to the south, sleeping at night in crannies among the rocks. The fourth morning the air was warm, and a thin rain was falling. Tbe long delayed spring had com* at last. "It's useless to travel," said Platoff, "in this slush. We could not make half a dozen miles. We will stay right here until the weather changes. Vladivostok is less than 100 miles distant. Let that be a consolation BO yon." Fortunately the camping place they bad chosen tbe previous night was eminently suitable for a protracted stay. It was a shallow cavern hollowed from the base of a high cliff and running back half a doaen feet, its face open, of course, and protected from wind and rain by a thick screen of young fir trees. Thanks to Ponssin's generosity it was needless to worry about food. They had plenty and to spare. Still it> was a dreary four days that they spent in that rocky nook, with nothing to do but eat, sleep and talk. It rained hard day and night; the snow faded away, the ice melted and the grass underneath began to spring up with amazing rapidity. In four short days winter yielded to spring, and frozen Siberia was blossoming a paradise. "Tbe ice is breaking on the rivers," said Platoff, "and in the harbor of Vladivostok. The ships will anchor now in tbe Golden Horn, and the flags of all nations will float in the breeze." On the morning of the fifth day Ehe march was resumed. The sun was shining from a cloudless sky, and birds were singing sweetly in the forest. The fugitives pressed forward with elastic step, snnffing the crisp, cool atmosphere and bathing their faces in the warm sunlight that penetrated the foliage. At noon they halted beside a spring of ice water. They ate a hearty meal, and then, slightly fatigued by the brisk morning walk, dropped lazily on the short grass for a brief siesta. CHAPTER XSIV. BESIEGED BY A TIGER. When Maurice awoke, some time later, both of his companions were sleeping soundly. The sun was far to the west, and the air was chilly and piercing. He threw off the rug and sat up. A rustling sound not far away attracted his attention, and, looking across the forest, he saw a deer~-a big buck with 1 branching horns—strolling past an open glado, 80 yard* distant With sudden excitement he extended a trembling hand for his revolver and rose to his feet He wa§ hungry for fresh venison, and here -was too good a chance to be neglected. The canned food and musty cheese put up by tbe : starosHi was beginning to grow wearisome. He delayed for a moment, uncertain whether to awake his companions or not. " Better let them sleep," he thought. "I won't be gone long." The deer by this time had crossed the glade and vanished in the forest be| yond, so. Maurice started off briskly, ' intending to make a wide detour and get ahead of his victim. He ran up the valley for nearly a quarter of a mils, keeping close to the base of the hill, and then crept cautiously down into the hollow, peering ahead" through the leafless branches of the trees. In this sheltered retreat patches of • snow still lay hero and there on the : ground, and through one such spot—an open glade — Maurice tramped heedlessly. i Still he saw no trace of the deer. He ' paused and listened intently, but the forest was very still. He drew back into a clump of boshes and sat down on a fallen log. | The minutes passed on without interruption, and he had about made up his mind to return to his companions when a sudden crash echoed through the forest, and he sprang to his feet in wild excitement just in time to »» the frightened deer go past him The possiBility that a tiger was lurk- 1 ing in the vicinity made Maurice's ' blood run cold, but on second thought •. be was inclined to believe that his com- j panions were awake and searching for him. Under this impression he was about to leave his hiding place and start up the valley when a sight met his eyes that caused him to crouch deeper in the bushes with a shudder. Through the forest, less than 40 yards distant, came a burly Cossa.ck, resplendent in his green uniform. In one hand he held a rifle, and with the other he led his horse. Close behind him was a second soldier, also on foot and lending his steed >y the bridle. They advanced into the open glade, lending over the ground and apparent- y conversing. Like a flash the truth entered Maurice's mind. They bad discovered his footprints in the patches of snow and were following up his trail. For a moment he gave himself up for lost. The Cossacks were between him and his companions, so that retreat up the valley was cut off. The footmarks showed the direction he had taken, and ae was in danger of discovery at any moment. He had presence of mind enough to remember the steep and rocky hillside jehind him. If he conld gain that and climb up the face, he might escape after all. The Cossacks certainly could not iollow him on horseback, and on foot ;he chances were even. Thrusting the revolver into his belt, be dropped on hands and knees and crawled off into the forest until the enemy were out of sight. Then, rising to bis feet, he dashed off across the valley at full speed. A short run brought him to rising ground, and he pressed on np the slope Eaater than ever and soon reached a [•rel stretch at the base of a hill. The the animal The sight caused him to crouch deeper in the bushes. first glance brought despair to his heart. Overhead were steep and barren rooks, rising many feet ia air, and here and there a stunted pine tree. To ascend this place was impossible, for the rocky ledges jutted out from the face of the cliff. He turned and ran at full speed, searching vainly for some nook to bide in or a break in tbe rugged precipice that would allow him tp ascend. He tore through thorn bushes and bruised hia feet on sharp stones, but these mishaps were unheeded, for he imagined constantly that the Coesacks were on his track. The path now became blocked with loose bowlders, and in his haste among these hs tripped and came heavily to the ground. He rc«e painfully to his feet—rose to find himself face to face with a monstrous tiger—a huge tawny beast that lay supine on the ground. The disturbed brute lifted his head sleepily and surveyed tbe intruder with glittering eyts. His long, spotted tail twitched, and from his throat issued a deep growl. The tiger made no attempt to rise. He looked at Maurice, and Maurice looked at him, and in this position they remained for a full minute. .Maurice slid his hand cautiously toward his belt, and the revolver was already in his grasp when be suddenly remembered that even should he succeed in shooting the tiger, which, was improbable, the shot would at once draw the Cossacks to the spot, and he -would be in a worse plight than ever. The tiger solved tie difficulty by slowly rising, and that broke the spell, Wheeling arotmd, Maurice darted at the top of his speed back *long tbe cliff. A hoarse growl warned him that the tiger was coming in pursuit, and in desperation he cast his eyea abont for » refuge. Such a place met his sight instantly, a deep crack in the very edge of the hill, running parallel with th« ground. It was possibly wide enough for hi» to crawl in, and without stopping to weigh tbe chances he threw himself flat and ran his head and shoulders into 'the crevice. It was a tight squeeze, bot with a prodigious effort he managed to drag his whole body inside and crawl back a few feet from the opening. This he bad barely accomplished when the pursuing tiger pounced angrily upon the spot and thrust his great jawa into the hole, growling horribly ail the while. Maurice, seizing a loow fragment of stone, dealt tbe brwte a violent blow on the nose. He drew back instantly, screaming with rage, and Maurice took advantage of this interval to squeeze still deeper into tbe crack. The floor was of soft, ! sticky clay. The roof, which pressed I down on his head and body, was cover- j ed with stalactite*, and from these fell wiiter wiiih a constant drip. His situation was dncidedly uncomfortable. He could KJarcely move his legs, and he had the restricted use of one arm only, while the icy water chilled him to the bone. Meanwhile the tiger, njraattod outride on the ground, was working him*«lf in- j to a terrible rage. Presently h« iprmng : to the month of tbe crevice, and, rotting I feglf <mir on hii cido. made a dig at Maurice with HIS fore p'a-fr, catching the lad's arm and ripping opes the heavy sleeve from the elbow down. The sharp claws tore the flesh, and the smell of blood rendered the beast furious. With eyes that shone like fir« and snarling ferociously he tried again and again to reach his victim, jamming his head against the stalactites and stretching his great claws like india rubber. Maurice drew himself as far back as possible, expecting each moment that the great paws would seize him and drag him out. He made no further attempt to strike the brute with tbe stone he still held in his hand, fearing it would only incite him to greater efforts. All thii time the loaded pistol was still in his belt, but he dired not fiw. He could easily reach it and no dooWi hs could kill tbe tiger without difficulty, but the report would surely bring the Cossacks to the spot. If his lif« ^» 8 in actual danger, he determined be, would use the weapon, not before. He little thought how soon the alternative would be presented. For five minutes or more the tiger thrust his claws repeatedly into the crevice. Then he drew off a yard or so and sat on his haunches, licking his bloody nose and whining angrily. Hope sprang up anon in Maurice's breast, and he began to think that the brute would leave him in peace. But suddenly, with a hoarse growl, the tiger bounded forward again, and with its powerful fore paws began to dig furiously at the soft, miry clay about the month of the hole. The loose chunks of dirt flew in every direction, and the cavity grew larger every second. In a very short time the tiger would be able to enter. Maarioe realized that if anything was to be done it must be done at once. Either hs must slay tb« animal at the risk of being recaptured by the Cossacks o;r ha must be torn to pieces and devoured. He chose the first alternative. At that moment, face to face with the brnte'n bloodshot eyes and lolling tongu«i, even the mines of Kara seemed preferable to such a death. With some difficulty he drew the revolver from his belt and succeeded in cocking it. The tiger was still pawing away with undimiuished energy, and even DOW the cavity chus made seemed to Maurice's eyes fully large enough to admit the brute's head and shoulders. Still, although in the very jaws of death, as it were, be hesitated to fire. Then he remembered that, with one single spring, the tiger conld reach aim, and in sudden terror he pointed the revolver full at the savage eyes. His finger was already pressing the trigger when an inspiration flashed into his mind that changed the whole course of events. "The pepper!" he exclaimed aloud. 'I'll try it." And, lowering the weapon, be thrust bis hand into his coat pocket. It so happened that among the provisions provided by the starosta had been a small bottle of red pepper. Platoff, with tbe Russian fondness for fiery dishes, made frequent use of this on nearly everything he ate, and that very morning, having forgotten it when they left their camping place, Maurice had picked it up and put it in bis own pocket. Now he suddenly remembered it. He gave a sigh of relief when his fingers closed on the bottle, and, drawing it out, he pulled the cork with hi« teeth. The tiger snddeuly suspended operations and blew the dirt off bis whiskers. Now was the critical moment. Beaching out his arm, Maurice dashed half the contents of the bottle into the brute's very eyes. Tbe effect exceeded his highest anticipations. Sneezing and snarling in one breath, the tiger sprang away from the crevice and rolled in agony on the ground, completely overcome by tbe pungent dust. Maurice held the bottle in readiness for a aeaoad onslaught. Overjoyed at his success, he was watching the brute's strange antios when suddenly over the edge of tbe hill appeared the astrakhan cap of a Cossack, speedily followed by the head and shoulders. Before he could see whether more were behind a rifle cracked sharply— from some spot up among the rocks apparently—and tbe Cossack toppled over backward with a cry of agony. 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