CHAPTER 3. -Vladimir Harsdoff, beini; heir v the fortune of his nephew, Mau • rice Hammond, an American, In < aao of his nephow'i t earn, conspires to have him sent to Russia in order to get. him in bis power. II.- Hammond and his friend, Philip Danrej-s arrive at Ht Petersburg, and Saradoff lays 'plkna to have them arrested as coneplraioni analost tte government. Ill and IV— Han-rrond at a review saves the life of Colonel Jaroeiav. Proceeding to Moscow, they are arrested and sent to Sibera. On the way the boat on which they travel mtchoa flro, and I hey. with two other convicts escapt in a skiff. V VI and VII—Hammond and i anvers pursue their way with the two other prisoners, who attack an approaching wagon. Hammond and Daaverfl defend anofllcer In the wagon. A troop of Cossacks appears and recaptures all the prisoners. The officer tolls the Americans tb»t they will probably be shot, butln vie* of their services to him he will do ml he can for them. Vlll. IX X—They arestntenced lobe shot Thu gen tenco Is commuted to imprisonment at Kara, • 'TfaeyregardeirCaptairi Daroman witi evident aversion, arid Platoff listened •with a passive, unchanging countenance as Maurice explained his absence and .related bis adventure with the tiger and the meeting with the Russian. Then Daroman briefly explained his object and wishes, speaking with apparent frankness and sincerity. His thin, careworn face and shrunken limbs eicited the boys' pity, but Platoff allowed no sentimental considerations to influence him. "You can accompany us," he said after a short deliberation, "but bear this in mind, at the first sign of treachery I will shoot you as I would a dog. buta rlnt in which They ere Involved results, - , , intheirbelngputtoworkin theminesof Kara i I have little love for those v?ho wear XI, Xll and Xlll—At the mines Captain; Daronun attempts to kiss Lora Melikoff, ai d I Hammond knocks him down. Daiomrn orders him to be shot, Lora saves him, and uaroman discovers that «ho is the daughter of Colonel Melikoff. XIV, XV, XVI, XVU and XVlll- Lora furnishes Hammond with tools and a plan of escape. Hammond, Danvers and P.atoft escape and work up the river Kara, reaching- a cave to which Lora has directed them. XX—They Btsrt on their Journey to the Pacific coast. CHAPTEE XXV. A STRANGE MEETING. The rifle shot scared the tiger. Boar- J ing with pain, he dashed up the edge of the valley and disappeared. For a moment all was silent, and Maurice in his hiding place forgot his fear in astonishment at what had happened. Several minutes passed, and he vas thinking of creeping out and making a dash for the forest when two or three fragments of stone rattled down to the ground not a dozen yards away. A moment later a man dropped nimbly from an overhanging rock—a tall, slim fellow in a torn and faded Cossack nniform, with a rifle in his hand. Knowing that this stranger must be aware of his presence, Maurice hastily crawled ont of his hole and stood up- the czar's uniform." Daroman's face flushed. "Ton forget," he replied, "that escape from Siberia means as much to me as it does to yon.'' That was the only reference he ever made to the past. By tacit consent the subject was avoided. "You are sure, then, that only these two Cossacks were in the neighborhood?" resTimed Platoff, "Yes," said Daroman, "that is all. They were searching for me and did not know of your presence.'' "They passed here not half an hour ago," said Platoff. "That is why we hid in the bushes. The one you shot was lying across the saddle, dead, I have no doubt, and his companion, also monnted, was leading the other horse. This offense only makes things worse. We most be many miles from here before morning.'' Daroman assented to this and urged an immediate start. Platoff's suggestion to strike still deeper into the country toward Mongolia was discussed and approved. They ate a hearty meal, which Daroman devoured with ravenous greed, and just AH were visf&Iy excited. One more march—less.perhaps—would bring them to Vladivostok. They forgot for the moment what yet lay before them—perils to appall the stoutest heart. Bidding his companions remain hidden in the bnshes, Platoff climbed up the steep hill to the eastward, hoping to gain a sight of the distant sea, but the horizon was dimmed by misty gray clouds, and he returned disappointed. "Vladivostok is not far away," said Captain Daroman. "I am sure of that, for I have been in this locality before. right. As he did so the stranger turned, | u g twilight dimmed the forest the jour revealing the haggard features of Cap- n ey was begun. It was uncertain traveling in the tain Daroman. Maurice leveled the revolver straight at the man's head. "Don't attempt to use your rifle or , I'll pnt a bullet through you," he said quickly. The Russian's face expressed the utmost surprise as ho saw who it was that confronted him. Then, advancing a step, he said: "Put up your weapon. I mean you no harm. We are now companions in misfortune. And so it WHB you the tiger was after? I would have driven the brute off long ago, but knowing that the Cossacks were in the neighborhood I dared not fire." Something in the Russian's face convinced Maurice that he meant no harm. He lowered his weapon and restored it to his belt. "Quick! Let us get away from this," eiclairued the captain. "There may be other soldiers in the neighborhood. There is DO time to lose if we would escape. " He started off rapidly along the base of the cliff, nnd Maurice followed close behind, wondering at the strange fate that had brought about this meeting with his old enemy. Suddenly he remembered that he was traveling directly away from his friends, and his heart sickened at the thought that they were probably even now in custody of the soldiers. "Stop!" he cried to Daroman. "I must go back. My companions are up the valley ft mile from here." "Your companions!" exclaimed the Bassian. "You arc not alone, then?" "No," replied Maurice, and he briefly explained who was with him. "But •what became of those two Cossacks?" he added anxiously. " You hit one, did yon not?" 1 ' Yes," said Darornan coolly. ' 'I shot the foremost fellow in the head. He fell back, and his comrade carried him «ff down the hill. They did not look for such a warm reception. They have been lurking in the neighborhood for several days. They discovered my tracks in the snow and hoped to capture me. They are only stragglers, but larger hor'jis of troops are not far away. That is why we must leave the locality at once. Of course you are trying to reach the seaport?" reluctantly; uncertain traveling dark, for hills and ravines bad to be crossed, bnt Platoff led the way with unerring sagacity, and when morning dawned they were many miles from the valley where Manrice had ruee with such a startling adventure. All that day they pressed forward, and not until" darkness came again would Platoff permit a halt. Then they stopped in a thick forest, and after a substantial meal prepared without fire they slept alternately, Platoff or one of the boys staying constantly on guard. In the morning they were off again, and thus for three days they traveled steadily forward, meeting neither man nor beast and stopping for rest at night. It is true that tigers and wolves were often heard in the forest, but they remained at a distance. The tedium of the march was beguiled by Captain Daroman, who entertained his companions with the narration of his own wonderful escape and journey. If what he said was true, his sufferings had been frightful indeed, and the boys realized all the more how great was the cause for gratitude on their part. The captain, no doubt, expected a like return of confidence, but if so be was disappointed, for Platoff was very reticent and guarded about what he said, and, moreover, cautioned the boys against giving any information that might react in the future against the kind friends who had aided them in their escape. The weather remained good—very ohilly at night, but pleasaut during the 3ay. A scarcity of food now threatened again. The provisions supplied by Pons- sin were about gone, and on tho evening of the fourth day the last remaining scraps were devoured. "In two days, or three at the most, we will reach\ Vladivostok," said Captain Daromaii. "We must get along aa best we can until then. We have weapons, it is true, bnt it would be unwise to make use of them." "We have money also," said Platoff, jingling the belt of rubles, "bnt it might as well be so much dirt for all the good it can do us," "It will come of use, though, later on," be added. "A hundred rubles will Maurice leveled his revolver straight at the man's head. One thing in our favor is the wild na tnre of the country. Desolate and uninhabited hills slope clear down to the town and almost to the edge of the bay." The fugitives devoured the only food they had—a conple of cold fish cooked at a fire the night before—and then stretched themselves on the ground in the thickest part of the forest. What little sleep they got was broken, and at midnight a cold, steady rain began to fall that put a samraary end to all further rest. It dropped through the foliage and crept in little rivulets along the ground. The remainder of the night waa passed sitting up. At last morning dawned, oold, wet and cheerless, and Platoff, with a few words of encouragement, led his companions off in single file. Realizing the increased dangers that now surrounded^them, he observed every possible precaution, seeking out the deepest part of the forest and keeping in the shelter of trees and stones. It rained steadily all the morning, and with wet clothes and empty stomachs the fugitives felt miserable indeed. At noon, as they were ascending a steep, wooded ridge, the sky brightened visibly, and Platoff, who had reached the summit at that moment in advance of the rest, shouted with joy and waved his hands in the air. His companions, with fast beating hearts, hurried to the spot. Maurice was ahead, and as he gained the crest and stood beside Platoff he saw spread before his eyes the scene that he had so often dreamed of—a scene that he conld never, never forget. Six or seven miles to the eastward lay the Pacific, a gleaming blue sheet, lit up by a momentary bar of sunlight that had broken through a rift in the clouds. Still farther beyond sea and sky faded into the dusky, gray horizon. Bnt closer at hand, along the base of sloping green hills, lay the graceful curving of the bay of Amur, with here and there a ship riding at anchor, while slightly to the south, a sight never to be forgotten, lay Vladivostok, its roofs and spires and the shipping in the harbor bathed in a golden mist. "A sign from heaven!" cried Platoff. "God is with us. He will aid us to escape." And reverently taking off his cap he fell on his knees, All followed his example, overcome with gratitude and emotion. In silence they looked their fill at the glorious view, neither willing nor able to speak. Captain Daroraan was apparently as deeply impressed as his comrades. A strance light was in his eyes, a fierce and sudden joy upon his face. Thus they knelt for some moments, and even as they looked the golden haze faded away, dark clouds hid the broken rift, the sea paled and vanished, and a great hazy stormcloud, massed in billowy folds, came sweeping landward, hiding in its advance the harbor and the town and the green foothills. "Come." said Platoff, rising to his feet, "come; it is time to go." "Yes," said Maurice *'that is our object." "Well," said Daroman, "I shall be glad to accompany you. I have had quite enough of .Russia and will endeavor to reach some other conn try. I know something of the Pacific coast and of Vladivostok, ;iad that experience is at, your benefit if yon will accept it." j "Wait until we see Plaroff," Maurice' answered evasively. \ The Russian might be sincere enough, j tfit his past conduct was against him. ! They rorried down into the valley, | Manrice leading the way. Daromau's assurance that only those two soldiers were in the neighborhood had quieted bis fears. One of theiu was probably dead, and his companion could do iioth- i ing single handed. j It was nearly sundown when tie; spring was reached, and to Maurice's, consternation the spot was deserted. "They have gone away," he exclaimed. "I must find them before comes." "What's that?" said Daroman. tenl" ! be a strong temptation to some ship captain iu the harbor of Vladivostok." Then before it grew dark he set some snares in the forest, though with little hope of trapping anything. But the morning brought with it a pleasing surprise. The despised snares contained one a rabbit, the other a bird. A fire was kindled, and the game was cooked and eagerly devoured. This afforded strength for another day's journey, and late in the afternoon they stopped on the banks of a narrow stream. With some loose stones Platoff constructed a rude triangular dam across a shallow parr of the channel, leaving a narrow aperture in the center. At this place he held a rnde net made from the lining of his coat, while Manrice and Phil, entering the stream some yards above, waded slowly down toward the dam, beating the warer on each side with sticks. In this way a dozen nice fish •were procured, sufficient for supper that night and breakfast the following morning. Ponssin had given them some salt, and Maurice had fortunately held on to the bottle of red pepper; so, with the i aid of A low, clear whistle was distinctly ( q n j te palatable, heard, and as Maurice whistled hire-. They traveled that day with increased ,ply Phil and Platoff broke from the' caution and halted •when the ron was and came gladly.forward. fc^ CHAPTER XXVI. TREACHERY. " Would it not be safer to hide in gome place until night," asked Maurice, "and approach the shore in the dark?" "Now is the best time." said Captain Daroman. "On such wet days the soldiers do not move about much, and the Cossacks along the coast, who are probably on the lookout for us, will relax their vigilance. We would have no better opportunity if we waited a week. We can easily reach tbe shore and conceal ourselves in the hills until night comes." "I agree with you, "saiid Platoff with more warmth than be had yet shown. "This is our chance. On such a day escaped convicts are supposed to hide in some dry place instead of traveling in the rain. Captain Dr^man, yon keep about ten yards bebiud me, the boys half that distance in your rear. Thus the danger of discovery will be lessened." Platoff's advice was promptly heeded, and in that order they moved cautiously down the hill. Before they reached The bottom tha stormcloud they had seen bcrst upon them in all its fury. The rain came down in torrents and the wind blew -with great force. This storm was undoubtedly a blessing in disguise. Whatever Cossacks •were posted in the hill passes were these condiments, the fish were i driven to shelter, and at one point Platoff and his companions actually crawled on hands and knees between two biasing campfires not 60 feet apart. A oordon of troopg ww evident IT stretch* Jfl along the coast seveial mile* nortH and sonth of Vladivostok. Tbe fugitives were moving cautions ly over the lower slope of the foothills through a pretty heavy forest when, Platoff halted and signaled his compan ions to join him. He pointed through a break in the trees to a small house buili very tastily of stone, with fancy trim mings. A veranda surrounded the firs floor, and all the shutters were tightly closed. The whole building was inclosed by a hedge of prickly thorn bnshes. Captain __ Daromaa scrutinized th< place closely. "This is a - sumrner cottage belong' ing to some Vladivostok merchant," he said, "some wealthy fellow who goes to St. Petersburg for the winter and spends the summer here. The house is empty now, and the owner will probably not return until May or June. It is a f ortu nate thing for us. We can take refuge here until an opportunity offers to board some vessel." "But will it be safe?" asked Platofl. "Yes, " replied the captain. "No one will think of looking for us here. Sup pose you make a detour of the house, and if yon find no cause for alarm wo will effect an entrance at once." Platoff acted on this suggestion anc returned with the report that all was quiet in front. It was an easy matter to slip through the hedge, and with almost equal facility Captain Daroman entered the cellar by forcing one of the skylights, anc presently he opened the back door triumphantly for his companions. A hasty examination showed that the building had been stripped of its furniture, the owner, no doubt, being afraid to leave anything of value in it during the winter. Even the cellar was com pletely empty. But the house was dry, and, what was of more importance, probably safe. It had two stories, with a small square tower on top. Platoff found a small ladder, plainly made for the purpose, and with it he ascended to this tower. Two circular glass windows faced east and sonth, and from this point of view he conld see the harbor and part of the town, the latter more than a mile away. There are three or four ships in the harbor," he announced to nis companions, "butlcannot make ont their flags. They are half a mile off the shore. The waves are rolling high, and a heavy surf is breaking on the beach." It was evident that nothing could be done for the present, so they all returned to the cellar, which Plaitoff regarded as the safest place, and from where a watch could be kept on the outside of the house through the grated skylights. All were suffering now for want of food. Nothing had passed their lips since the previous evening, and the chances of procuring anything to eat were elirn indeed. Captain Daroman made no attempt to conceal his feelings. He complained bitterly, speaking in despondent tones of the situation, and finally lapsed into a low spirited, apathetic condition. This made Platoff suspicious and uneasy. As soon as it grew dark he cautioned Maurice to keep an eye on the captain, and then, pulling a heavy coat around him, be made his way out into the storm. He was absent for nearly three hours, causing the boys great uneasiness, and when he returned the tone in which he greeted his companions showed that he had no favorable report to make. "I was up the coast a mile or more," he said. "Campfires are visible every few rods, and sentries are posted at intervals. There are no boats in any place, and even if there were they could do us no good, for the wind is terrific and the surf is thundering on the beach, I can see the lights of half a dozen vessals in the harbor." "Were you near the town?" demanded Captain Daroman impatiently. "Yes," replied Platoff, "I was within a quarter of a mile of Vladivostok. It is cordoned so completely by Cossacks that to pass throngh the lines is.utterly hopeless. They are evidently expecting our arrival. It is impossible to obtain food, and the pangs of hunger must be borne. Bnt we have good cause for hope rather than despair. In this place I feel confident that we are safe. By the close of another day I think that the storm will be over. We must endure our hunger until tomorrow night. Then if the sea be calmer we will tear boards from the floor, make our way to the beach in the darkness and try to reach one of the vessels in the harbor. lam confident we can do it. Until then be brave and courageous." "Alas," exclaimed Captain Daroman despairingly, ' 'I am unable to swim! I shall be left behind at the mercy of the soldiers, and yon—you will procure your freedom.'' 'Not so," answered Platoff. "Don't • despair. We shall find a way to take yon with us. It will be unnecessary to swim if you are on a plank." Platoff's cheering words, however, had but little effect on the captain. He remained sullen and despondent, pacing the earthen floor in moody silence. All slept some that night in spite of the torments of hunger, and, what was of chief importance, they retained their strength. In the morning it was still raining, and the wind in violent gnst-s seemed to shake the house to its foundations. At noon the storm was still raging. PlatofF went up stairs to visit the watch tower and returned with a grave face. "Soldiers are visible on the beach," he said. "The sea is very turbulent; and the vessels have sou^it the safer shelter of the town harbor. I fear nothing can be done tonight. We must trjr to get fcod in some way. Our strength must bo kept np or wa will be unable to escapi" Most of that afternoon Platoff spent in the tower, and when twilight came he annonnced his intention of going out to seek food. "The night will be Btormy," be eaidi, "and I can easily break through the lines. I will try. to find tome habit* 'In the name of the. czar, surrender! 7 ' shouted ilui officer. from Phil's belt, which the traitor had failed to remove, and hurled himself with fury on the foremost of the Cossacks as they swept impetuously down ihe narrow flight of stairs. The steel flashed in its descent and iank deep into an outstretched arm, ;at before the brave Russian, could withdraw the blade for another stroke a blow from a rifle butt stretched him senseless on tho floor, and the troops swarmed unresisted into the cellar. The boys were too dazed to think of defense. Overcome by the crushing weight of this terrible misfortune, they witnessed Platoff's heroic charge, saw lim fall, stunned and bleeding, and hen submitted without a word to the rough usage of their captors. Bound hand and foot, they were aken up stairs and placed on tbe floor. The doors and windows were opened, ,nd a huge fire kindled in an' open grate. The blaze shone on the trium- ihant faces of the Cossacks within and :ast gray gleams on the guards pacing outside in the rain. No need now for hat long cordon of troops whose campfires were blazing along six miles of :oast At one stroka the campaign had nded. The traitor Daroman was missing, and Manrice searched in vain for his amiliar countenance. The cause of his reachery was only too plain. The ad- -er§e circumstances which confronted he fugitives, the want of food, the encompassing soldiers, the wind lashed waters of the harbor that made escape impossible at present, his own ignorance of swimming—all these things made him hopeless and despondent He feared capture, and capture iz. such company would only make bis mnishment the worse. Then the loop:ole of escape appeared. He would slip away, surrender himself to the first Jnssian officer he conld find and disclose the whereabouts of the three escaped convicts, on whose bead a heavy )rice was set. Surely this service would jffset the misdemeanor that, had mad« lim a fugitive from his awn government He -would be pardoned, probably re- rtored to his rank and position. So he doubtless reasoned and so he acted. The mines of Kara yawned once mote for Platofl and his comrades. [TO n oo lion and purchase provisions a few days. By that time the storm will surely be over." Captain Daroman's views were not consulted. He was lying in a corner, apparently fast asieep, with one of Pous- sin's big rugs drawn over his faded uniform. As soon as it was fully dark Platoff went up to the tower again to mark the location of the carnpfires. He took Maurice with him. Phil remained behind, sitting at the bottom of tbe cellar stairway. From the sonth window of the tower a faint halo of light was visible ' hanging over Vladivostok, and from the east window could be seen the straggling campfires on tbe beach. They remained for some time, listening to tbe patter of the rain overhead and the crash of the distant surf. " We must return," said Platoff. "I don't like to be away from Daroman long. That man may tnra traitor at tbe last moment. He has been in bad spirits for two days past" They reached the cellar, to find Phil sound asleep on the bottom step. "Poor boy, he is worn out," said Platoff, and, turning aside, he bent over the motionless figure in the corner. With a cry that brought Maurice instantly to his side he lifted the rug. Captain Daroman was gone I "The vile traitor!" exclaimed Platoff. "We are lost! He has betrayed us! What shall we rfo? The Cossacks may be here in an instant." Maurice staggered back against tbe wall pale and trembling. Phil, roused by th» commotion, rubbed his eyes anc sat up. "We must leave at once," cried Platoff. "There is but one chance—we must break through the lines into the town and try to reach the landing wharf. Perhaps we may find a vesse] there. Come; don't lose a second. Where are our things? My revolver is gone! I placed it here on the steps. Ah, I see. That traitorous wretch has carried it off." "Mine, too, is gone," cried Manrice. "We are defenseless." Platoff ground bis teeth with rage. "As sure as there is a heaven above, he hissed, "that blackhearted scoundrel shall atone for this with his life"— Crash I Crash I The heavy doors overhead burst inward and thundered to the floor. A clash of arms was heard and a confused tramp of feet. Then the door at the head of the cellar stairs was torn open, and a blazing torch shone on fierce, bearded faces, green uniforms slashed with gold braid, and gleaming bayonets and sabers. "In the name of tbe czar, surrender!" sbcuted the officer in command. 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