He dreamed that he was upon the topmost pinnacle of a great mountain. Around him on all sides the rock fell away in abrupt and impassable precipices. How he had reached that spot he did not know; still less, how he would be able to leave it safely. He could not see the precipices, for everything was dark around him, but he felt that they were there. The darkness was absolute—no night he had ever known had been so dark. , no moon, and yet it seemed to him that the sky was very near. And the silence frightened him.
Then, suddenly, to the left he discerned a point of light, which burst upon the darkness, cutting it like a sword. It grew and grew with astonishing rapidity, and he saw it was the sun. But it was not rising; it was coming straight at him from some ? 269 ? distant point in space; coming rapidly and surely. He felt the air about him growing strangely warm and radiant; warmer and more radiant; until the sweat broke out upon him and a deadly fear assailed him—a fear that here, upon this pinnacle of rock, he was to be consumed by fire. He looked wildly from side to side. There was no escape. Yet any death was preferable to death by fire, and with a quick intaking of the breath, he leaped far out, and fell, fell—
He opened his eyes with a start. For an instant, under the influence of the dream, he fancied that he was still upon the rock, so light and warm was the office. Then he heard the roar of fire, and angry tongues of flame licked under and around the door, casting a lurid glow across the floor.
CHAPTER XXIV JED HOPKINS, PH?NIX
For an instant, Allan stared stupidly at those red tongues of flame, licking merrily about the door—then, in a flash, he understood, and his pulses seemed to stop. The robbers had set fire to the station! It was in this way they proposed to get rid of the evidences of a crime far more serious than robbery. And thus, too, they hoped to get rid of the only witness of that crime not implicated in it—and then Allan remembered—it was not the robbers, it was Dan Nolan who had left him here to die—Nolan who had been told to place him in safety, and who had pretended to do so! He remembered Nolan’s last words, the chuckle which had accompanied them,—all this passed lightning-like through the boy’s mind, as a drowning man, in the moment before he loses consciousness, sees before him his whole life, in a kind of wonderful and fearful panorama.