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Twice Buried

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Half way from Leadrille to the plaïns- half way, and by a new trail running into the southwest and down along the canyon of the Platte; half way only.and my norse worn, my food gone, and night close at hand. Night in February - death, cold ! I wrapped my blanke yet doser about my shouldere, and urged my steed forward through the gloaming. "Curse my luck !" I muttered. "Except for Black Dan's threat I would liavo gone by the stage in comfort. And yet, to have to brave his gang would have been certain destruction. I'll warrant they've ambushed the night coach, intending to catch me But I've slipped them this time, and Unde Sam has the proof that he wants at last. Three days more, my rascáis, and you'll jump these mountains or wear handcuffs, ii" I reach Pueblo alive." I shook Charley's reins to hasten his speed, and whistled cheerily to Don, my St. Bernard. "We must reach Johnstorrs ranch on the Platte, old friends, or sleep out, and it's too cold for that," I muttered. I was returning from a search for certain desperadoes wanted in the courtspt Pueblo. The cut-throats had hidden in the mining camps about Leadvüle, and my search had been a long one. F;nding them at last, however, and the prooi' of their crime with them, I was about to return and make arrangements for their arrest, when by some unknown meansthey learned whc I was, and I fled. Fled, pnrsued by thi wrath of the worst man between the Gunnison and Denver - Black Dan. Had he found me my life would not have been worth a toss of a card. I must reach the Bettlements quickly and return with a forcé in order to capture my game, and that without delay. In the gloaming of the morning I had begun my perilous horseback journey; in the gloaming of the evening I was continuing it. No soul had met me along the wagon trail, and I believed that I had tricked my enemies. The blackaess of the canyon crept up, tho narrow trail ran down, and amonj. great masses of boulders, across patches ol snow, and again along the bare earth, I followed with watchful eye the iudistinc path until, just at the verge of the las steep descent that shouldcarry me into Uuriver gulch I halted a moment to rest my weary horse. "Only a little further, Charley," said I, dismounting and patting his dioopinjr head ; "a couple of miles more and we'll strikesupper and a bed. You've donewell. old boy, saved me - A sudden fierce growl from my dog, ashe sprang toward the shadow of the pinet behind me, a single lance of light, a ring ing report, and without a moan I threv my hands quivering into the air, whirled heavily away from iy horse and feil. Black Dan had found me. Slowly, and with great pain, consciousness returned - consciousness, for my brair was still alive, but not personally, for 01 my body I knew nothing. What had happened ? Laboriously my mind traveleil througt the midst of death that still surrounded il Slowly one idea followed another until a; last came the knowledge that I sought. 1 had heen waylaid and shot. Yes, I remember now. Eemembered thf , cry of my dog, the ring of a rifle, tfie shee1 of fíame, the blow of the ball, and then - nothingness. I had been shot and was dead. And yet not dead, for pain revived, ant? dead men feel no pain. I was shot but no dead. And so came at last tho conscious ness of matter. I still lived. I sought to rise, but could not, for I waf bound, bound hands and feet, arms, legs body, neck and head, fingers, lips and eye lids even, bound, yet not with cords. Where was I ? What was the troublo ': Nearer and still nearer came the truth a: I groaued in spirit and struggled to gaiu knowledge of myself; nearer and stil' nearer, until with a mighty effort, throwinj off all lethargy, I made one desperate at tempt to rise ; but the damp weight ol newly-turned earth pressed upon my heart the clinging bands of newly dug ear' ¦. bound me, and with a wiM cry of horror and despair I recognized my situation-I was buried alive. I did not faint at first- life was too dera -but lay simply deadened, crushed by tho blow, the loose niould admitting air foi my respiration, my poor stunned brain rolling these words up and down : "Buried alive! Buried alive!" until from sheei madness and loss ot desire knowledge fled a second time. uid then it was the tongue of my dog that awakened me. Don dug me out and lapped e back to life again. As the dull gray of the winter'8 rorning dáwncd, with groans I dragged my jtiffen cd 1' ibs from my nairow bed, and crepl trcublingly down the trail toward thi river, the blood oozing from a hole in mv hcad, my eyes wild and fierce, my heart panti nxy life half one. As I thoughr, Black Dan must have iöllowed and ambushed me, theu, supposinjr me slain, hc had the grace to bury me. It as owing to his liaste or carelessuess that my dog had been ablo topaw the loose dirt from mv mave. and save me. If I could reach Johnston's ranch I might live ; if noí, I had been saved but to die a secoml time, for a fierce store was brewing along the. mountain tops above my head. My horse was gone, my rifle, pistol, knife, gone ; only the dog remained, and faithful to the last, followed as I slowly and painfully trod the descending trai1 u the dire?tion of the river. Suddenly amid a wild roar of -wind and oreaking of trees and whirl of freezing snow, the storm burst, and in its fuiy swept me from my fet, and rolled m, crying and shouting, far down the canyon Bidé, until a great boulder caught and held me. Then it raged on. Fierce and relentless the wüid tore through the forest, pitiless and eold the snow feil, and except I had dragged my broken and bruised l)ody into a cravesse of the ledge, I had dicd whero I laid. Then even blacker thanever feil the storm, and raged unceaseingly through all the slow hours of the day, until night carne a secoud time to cast ita psJl on the scenc. And as tho darkness crept up from the east my dog, who all the day had laid at my feat, deserted mo, speeding away through the shadow and snow. I was aloneAnd so, faint, wounded, cold, despartng, as tho inoraents grew lilb llickcred, and when at last midnight broke mylamp went out. Aagain I lay unconscious. All niglit the gale eontinned, and not until tho dawn of the secand day did it craso, when the newly-fallen snow lay deep and white over all. iVithin tho deep crevease of the rock, -heltered rom the cold white dcath, and vi t beneuth it, I lay mottonleas Above me the storm liad spread a shroud so thick that no roy of light penetrated to my tomb. Half frozen, in a dreamless, painlcss sleep, among the pines or the tread of the wikt bijsta of the forest overhead mattercd aanght to me. Wheu my eyes opened thoy beheld nothing, when my hands were outBtretcbad tliy touehed only the stone and the snow, whüfr my tongue cried out no sars listencd. Again I was entombed, and tuis timo by an eriemy more relentless than Black Dan even, by hands more stern and pitiless than bis. Fate and the storms of 'tiie mountain combined against me. 1 was buried a second time, but now witb deatli tbr a companion. I knew that I could not escape, and the very thought quietod me. There was no struggle, no nioaning, no agony ; only a dull reeklcssness and v.aut of cars for life that betokened the depth of my despair. I was dying. Slowly the mojrnents passed. My thoughts were few and simple - thoughts of lire and flood, thoughts of home and friends and comfort, flioughts of things warm and bright, but eveu these wero lading and my mind was wearily wrapping itself in the cloak oí aunihilatin, and my body was sinking toward inanition whjn a bit of snow feil upon my upturned face. Had it beea fire it conld not have aroused me more quickly. Tho next instant more feil, and still more, and then light beganto gleam,and I heard the hurrying scrape of feet mingled with low whining. Don had returned and was digging me out. The revnlsiou of feeling was terrlfic. A moment before I had laid passive in a tomb, looking for death, now I fought and tort at the loosening snew like a madinan, mad with the thought of life. Nearer and nearer came tho rescuing feet, deeper grew the pile of snow beneath me, brighter the light above. The winning was mingled with growls now. Don had frienfls to aid him. The barrier was but three feet thick- two- oue, it was gone, and even as I breathed the air of heaven and my heart leaped within me and my lips uttered a glad cry, a dozen pairs of great hollow eyes bnrned into miue, a dozen gaunt forms crouehed before me gnashing their gleaming fangs. I had been rescued by a pack of mountain wolves. For a single instant I sifrveyed my enemies - I, weak, wounded and unarmed; they strong, hungry and ferocious, a dozen to one- and then with a jjell I sprang into their midst. It was the act of a madan, but I was mad. Deatti should tear me limb from limb now, and with brave banda I clutched at the first grey monstar before me, and rasped his shaggy throat as with hands of steel seeklng to throttle him. Theu the entire pack with demoníaca! howls hurled themselres pon me. The struggle was ghort. I feit the hot breath of the brutes in my face, their red mouths yawned upon me ; their strong Iawstore my bnck-skin shirt; their teeth inapped, when suddenly a great big white omething was hurled from the bank of ;now above into the midste of the melee. K half dozen dark forms followed. Wild houts, mingled with pistol shots and 'ïeavy Wows, broke upon my ears, the red )lood of my assailants dyed the spotless snow ; their hideous eyes faded before me, md fiüling backward, I feit niyself eaught )y strong arms, and the well-known voice of old Johnston. cried, "Saved, thank God!" Ayesaved! and this time for lile. My rusty dog had fsund the ranch and arousag the men by his strange actions ; they ïad followed him in early morning to vhere I was hidden, arriving at the pot just in the supremo moment of need. I vae saved, and five days later confronted ilack Dan before the bar of the criminal conit in Pueblo, and had the satisfactiou üf heariag sentence passed upon him, vhile he trembled as he stared at the man ,vhom he had buried among the peaks oi' he Rockies. Neither duty nor pleasure will igain cali me along the canyon of the Plattti


Ann Arbor Courier
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