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Saved By A Dream

Saved By A Dream image
Parent Issue
Day
3
Month
January
Year
1873
Copyright
Public Domain
OCR Text

Perrait rao to introduce the speaker, Mr. Haskell, western atage driver - a man, muscular and with un eyo as keen and unflinching as an eagleV I droye ibe stage í'rom New ÍSharon to Wexford, a distance of thirty miles. ín the spring and i'all when the travel was bad I always tan-ied ovtr night. I liked that plan botter forit gave mosome leisure to be with my family. The niglit ot' which I am going to teil you was late in autuinn. It had been a mighty tough storm, all the way up - a north-easter, just as l'ull of needie points as they could stuff in. Fine hail, you understand, and rain freezing up and frosting your beard, and giving 0110 a remarkable if not a pleasing cast of countenance. I had but two passenger up, án old man with very white hair and beard, and a younger man with a slight stoop, and no other peculiarity that 1 110ticed. I took the mail bags outsido with me under the seat. I wasn't a partiólo sorry when the village of Wexford blitiked at me with its numeróos eyes trom erevices in the showers of driviiig sleet. Wexford was digttifled by the name of village, "South Wexford, more properly, for there was only a me.igre colleotion of live or six houses, and I drove through this place, usually putting up at the half way house, is it was tertned. Beyonil tbis half way house wns Wexford proper, with quite a bustling business air in its 0:1e huge smoke staok, and the row of stores well punctuated with the marks of Western civüization - drinking dens. The other stage route ended here on account of the roughness of the road - the post man jolting the distante between the hatf way house and there to connect the mail line. This half way house had i sorry reputatioa on account of the villaiii'"eq'ientd it to h:ivt! a game of poker or a bit of a ring fight. I had watched the gaines scores of times without allo win g myself to be drawn into thein, or disturbed by them. As I said, I only tarried at Wexford during t!,e bad woather of early spring and late autumn. But to come back to the night of the storm. It was miich as might be eipected. A small number of rutriaiily fVlloivs weru in the bar room, but the night was rather threa'tening for the üiiis.s to come out. In tact, I brought in the s'age about all the noticeable persc-nB destined to study the cloudy heaons tlut night through thebottom of mine host's glasses. Thore was Black Dave - an appendix glneraüy to the tavern, as cluiney a pie; o of a clown as ono would care to see ; and Powder Bill, a second class ruffian, who hud gaiiiod his cogncmen by ha ving had lus face somehow bluwn fnll of powder. Besides these here were severa! loafers in no wise remarkable. Of this I was glad, .for I was aware that the mail bag wag unusually heavy. I kr.ew tiiat there. were quite large snins of mooey expected by different persons' about that time, and I shcaild be glad enough when the responsibility was off my shoulders. We passed a social evrning. The chatting turned pon practical joking, and the danger oftentimes res.:;ltiug therefrom. The person who participated the least in the conversation was my passenger up - the man with stoop shoulders. 1 had learned that his name was Jenks. Whüe this one and that ote told their tales, his eharp, downcast eyes would iu epite of himeelf turn continually tovrarda that corner of the room where 1 had tossed my mail bags. Ou Öte other hand the old fellow with the long:., white hair was tho most boisterous talker of the grqpp. His laugh was the loudest, his puffs of snioke the most frequent, and his voice, strengihened i!ji,th his rising spirits lost tuuoh of the quaver noticeable in oldish persons. I was both astonished at him and delighted aso. To find a man sliiipini; down the shady side of life's hill, gay and disposed to nmke merry with his i'riends, is as rare an occurrence as it is oxhilarating to witness. He had a peculiarity about the face which you Bometimes see, and which givea an efiect singular if not pleasant to the beholder. He had very bright, rapidly revolving eyes, under bushy black eyebrows, brows shaggy enough to suggest miniature crow's nests roughly piled together. He called himsolf Btowoll, and I judged him to be a stranger in thos parts. In truth he incautiously made mention öf tho fact that he wason government business. At mention of this I found Jonks furtively and steadily regarding him iVom the comer of his eyes. My feelings had settled into flxed distrust of Jenks before the evening was half spent; on the othor hand the entire company, if I except Jenks, mentally pronounccd the old fellow -just the one to whüe away the dull evening. After some quite loud boasting of courage and brave deeds by several of the party, and this one telling wliat he could do, and that one affirming what he would do undcr such and such circumstafices, a motion was made for bed. Tho old fel low with a separata good night to all, was shown to his roomfir.t, at his own request, Jeuks and myse!i going last. The glances which this fellow cast at the as I took them up to my room, were not particulariy reassuring. I thought at first to speak of my suspicions to the landlord, and thenlfelt ashamed todo so, and went into my room. on the thivshold I was nfjileasantly sorpriaed to see Jenks stnnding outeide of his rooin and regarding me "with a fixed gaze. _ "Blundering fooi !" said I to myself, "if his int ent ion s aro to rob me he has taken the mode of proceeding to put me on my guard " I closed my door and lockedit sccurely, dumped the mail bags in the corner, and being weary, immediately undressed and retired. I lay for a long time, turning this way and that, made rostless, I suspected, by continually thinking of Jenks and his strange conuuct. I grew angry at lust with mytelf for allowing him to keep so ' bofore niy visión, but thia state of mind did not tend to uleepiness, I assuro you. While I lay tossiug about I heard one after another of tho membera of the family go to bed. Still thftt infernal Jenka kept before ino. I muttcrod auathoinas and turned over again. Xow comes the singular part of tho affair. I must have lallen asloop for a moinnnt. 1 dreamed that I was in that very house, in that vory room and bed - that I had fallen aüleep and woko up with the impression that the: e was soine one under my bed ; that I did not know how to nscertain the truth of it without causing the robber and murderer to spring on me unawarea; that having a boyishtriok of stulHng my pockets with everythinp, I fclt in there íor a marble, and found it - and leuning cautiously from the forward edge of the bed, dropped or rolled it towurd tho back-side or wall of tho room thinking, as I did so, that if 'there was uo one there it would roll across and strike the mepboard with a sharp click. I dreamed that tho marble rolled but a little ways. struek something and stopped - that'l looked under the bed and found Stowell instead of Jenks, with murder writteu upon hia face. Then thero was a eonfused plan of what I said and did. I came to f uil consciousnes3 from this dream, or incubus state, ahem-ed and turned over to see if I were really awake now. My whole boay was damp, tho sweat standing in drops on my face, so mreiit had been uiy suffcring in that few iuomt'iit's sleep. It wns so frightfully real, that I shit'ted to the other side, and as siiently as possiblo drew up mv panta and feit in the pocket. My finger touobed i bullet that was lying loosc amidst other rubbisli. I drow it out, and vvith sueh a sensation as I ncvcr experienced before and hope never to ugain, I prepared tor tli; dream test. Reaching my hand well down towards tho Hoor, I gave it a roll oward tho back of the bed. It moved n bot or two and - Gre&t God ! It etruek something soft and stopped. My heart stopped beating for a minuto, and glóbulos of firo swam before my 'ace, peopling the darkness with horrors. Choro was no choieo but to fill up the trograrnme of tho dream. I sprang f rom he bed bt-i'ore my inuscles woro patayzed with terror, and called out; "Here, you Btowoll" - I actually in:ended to say Jenks, but oottld not - 'come out from thare, havo done with this soit of practical joking." No sound ubout the hoose. The stormy elouds tearing away overhead, allowed a watery moonlight to ñood tho room. "Stowell 1" I ealled again, "I am in no mood l'or this Bort of practical joking. I have not boasted cf uiy eourage, but I shall discharge my pistol undor the bed hit or miss, in one moment more." There was a thumping and rustling, the spread was swept aside, and, God of Ileaven ! it was Stowell I could soe hia white hair and board. Before he had eOme to an upright position, for I could dimly discorn tho outlines of objects, I sprang to the door to shout for help. I had not turned the key wben I hoard a leap outside, and the instant that the bolt feil back from the secket a man sprang into the room, a pistol báll grazed mj' e;:' shot, and two forma were strugrgmig on il ment inactivc; tho next, and Ihad plañtod a blow with the butt of m y pistol soraewhere upon the g'ray head, which stretched the villain senselesB, almost the instant reeoiving the flash of b jiistol in the side of tho head, which, had it not providentally refused flro, must have materially interfered with uiy future power of narration. Much confusión followed. Tho landlord rushed in; the landlady also ; the latier, however, rushod out as quickly whcushe beheld my nndressed uniform. Everything was erptained directly. Jenks was my rescuer. Jenka whom I had so dóubted, suid to me, "Look hnre '." anl he removed the hair of the robber, and exposed to ourstartled gaze the clean faoe and closely cropped hair of a "sentenced for lifo" penitentiary man. "Be escaped two weeks ago i'rum and eluded purguit. I got in tho track of him at Detroit, and have foilowed him, oif and on ever since. He carne up from New Sharon putposely torob, and f need be m'irder you. ïiis joviality, hisapparent good humor, allaycd all süapicion. I could read his plans when ho iirst went to bed. He stowed himself into sorne closet or fxjrner of your room to wait for' you to fall asleep. I remaiued closo by your door, and should have warned you, but feared to arouse tho suspicions of the fellow, least hc should again make oft" " Sinco I was really saved by a dream, I consMer it remarkable. I distrust rèmarkably jolly people uow. and take into favor sour, silent appearing persons. Jenks was a detective.

Article

Subjects
Old News
Michigan Argus