As the morning sun arose over the snowy summits of the Great Divide, th_leeper on the rocks stirred restlessly; then gradually awoke t_onsciousness—a delightful consciousness of renewed life and vigor, a subtl_ense of revivification of body and mind. The racking pain, the burning fever,
the legions of torturing phantoms, all were gone; his pulse was calm, hi_lood cool, his brain clear.
With a sigh of deep content he opened his eyes; then suddenly rose to _itting posture and gazed about him in utter bewilderment; above him only th_oundless dome of heaven, around him only endless mountain ranges! Dazed b_he strangeness, the isolation of the scene, he began for an instant to doub_is sanity; was this a reality or a chimera of his own imagination? But onl_or an instant, for with his first movement a large collie had bounded to hi_ide and now began licking his hands and face with the most joyfu_emonstrations. There was something soothing and reassuring in th_ompanionship even of the dumb brute, and he caressed the noble creature,
confident that he would soon find some sign of human life in that strang_egion; but the dog, reading no look of recognition in the face beside him,
drew back and began whining piteously.
Perplexed, but with his faculties thoroughly aroused and active, the young ma_prang to his feet, and, looking eagerly about him, discovered at a littl_istance the cabin against the mountain ledge. Hastening thither he found th_oor open, and, after vainly waiting for any response to his knocking,
The furnishings were mostly hand-made, but fashioned with considerabl_rtistic skill, and contributed to give the interior a most attractiv_ppearance, while etchings, books and papers, pages of written manuscript, an_ violin indicated its occupants to be a man of refined tastes and studiou_abits. The dog had accompanied him, sometimes following closely, sometime_oing on in advance as though to lead the way. Once within the cabin he le_im to the store-room in the rock where was an abundance of food, which th_atter proceeded to divide between himself and his dumb guide.
Having satisfied his hunger, the young man took a newspaper from the table,
and, going outside the cabin, seated himself to await the return of hi_nknown host. Sitting there, he discovered for the first time the railwa_inding around the sides of the lofty mountain opposite. The sight filled hi_ith delight, for those slender rails, gleaming in the morning sunlight,
seemed to connect him with the world which he remembered, but from which h_ppeared so strangely isolated.
Unfolding the newspaper his attention was attracted by the date, at which h_azed in consternation, his eyes riveted to the page. For a moment his hea_wam, he was unable to believe his own senses. Dropping the sheet and bowin_is head upon his hands he went carefully over the past as he now remembere_t,—the business on which he had been commissioned to come west; his journe_estward; the tragedy in the sleeping-car—he shuddered as the memory of th_urderer's face flashed before him with terrible distinctness; his receptio_t The Pines,—all was as clear as though it had happened but yesterday; it wa_n August, and this was August, but two years later! Great God! had two year_ropped out of his life? Again he recalled his illness, the long agony, th_inal sinking into oblivion, the strange awakening in perfect health; yes,
surely there must be a missing link; but how? where?
He rose to re-enter the cabin, and, passing the window, caught a glimpse o_is face reflected there; a face like, and yet unlike, his own, and crowne_ith snow-white hair! In doubt and bewilderment he paced up and down withi_he cabin, vainly striving to connect these fragmentary parts, to reconcil_he present with the past. As he passed and repassed the table covered wit_anuscript his attention was attracted by an odd-looking volume bound i_lexible morocco and containing several hundred pages of written matter. I_ay partly open in a conspicuous place, and upon the fly-leaf was written, i_arge, bold characters,—
> "To my Other Self, should he awaken."
He could not banish the words from his mind; they drew him with irresistibl_agnetism. Again and again he read them, until, impelled by some power h_ould not explain, he seized the volume and, seating himself in the doorway o_he cabin, proceeded to examine it. Lifting the fly-leaf, he read th_ollowing inscription:
> "To one from the outer world, whose identity is hidden among the secrets o_he past: "With the hope that when the veil is lifted, these pages may assis_im in uniting into one perfect whole the strangely disjointed portions of hi_ife, they are inscribed by
> "John Darrell."
He smiled as he read the name and recalled the circumstances under which h_ad taken it, but he no longer felt any hesitation regarding the volume in hi_ands, and he began to read. It was written as a communication from on_tranger to another, from the mountain recluse to one of whose life he had no_he slightest knowledge; but he knew without doubt that it was addressed t_imself, yet written by himself,—that writer and reader were one and the same.
For more than two hours he read on and on, deeply absorbed in the tale of tha_olitary life, his own heart responding to each note of joy or sorrow, of hop_r despair, and vibrating to the undertone of loneliness and longing runnin_hrough it all.
He strove vainly to recall the characters in the strange drama in which he ha_layed his part but of which he had now no distinct recollection; dimly the_assed before his vision like the shadowy phantoms of a dream from which on_as just awakened. He started at the first mention of John Britton's name,
eagerly following each outline of that noble character, his heart kindlin_ith affection as he read his words of loving, helpful counsel. His face gre_ender and his eyes filled at the love-story, so pathetically brief,
faithfully transcribed on those pages, but of Kate Underwood he could onl_ecall a slender girl with golden-brown hair and wistful, appealing brow_yes; he wondered at the strength of character shown by her speech an_onduct, and his heart went out to this unknown love, notwithstanding tha_emory now showed him the picture of another and earlier love in the far East.
But it was the story of John Britton's life which moved him most. Wit_trained, eager eyes and bated breath he read that sad recital, and at it_ermination, buried his face in his hands and sobbed like a child.
When he had grown calm he sat for some time reviewing the past and formin_lans for future action. While thus absorbed in thought he heard a step, and,
looking up, saw standing before him a man of apparently sixty years, wit_ronzed face and grizzled hair, whose small, piercing eyes regarded himsel_ith keen scrutiny. In response to the younger man's greeting he only bowe_ilently.
"You must be Peter, the hermit," the young man exclaimed; "but whoever yo_re, you are welcome; I am glad to see a human face."
"And you," replied the other, slowly, "you are not the same man that you wer_esterday; you have awakened, as he said you would some day."
"As who said?" the young man questioned.
"John Britton," the other replied.
"Yes, I have awakened, and my life here is like a dream. Sit down, Peter; _ant to ask you some questions."
For half an hour they sat together, the younger man asking questions, th_ther answering in as few words as possible, his keen eyes never leaving th_ace of his interlocutor.
"Where is this John Britton?" the young man finally inquired.
"In Ophir—at a place called The Pines."
"I know the place; I remember it. How far is it from here?"
"Fifteen miles by rail from the station at the foot of the mountain."
"I must go to him at once; you will show me the way. How soon can we get awa_rom here?"
Peter glanced at the sun. "We cannot get down the trail in season for to-day'_rain. We will start to-morrow morning."
Without further speech he then went into the cabin and busied himself with hi_ccustomed duties. When he reappeared he again stood silently regarding th_ounger man with his fixed, penetrating gaze.
"What awakened you?" he asked, at length.
The abruptness of the question, as well as its tenor, startled the other; tha_as a phase of the mystery surrounding himself of which he had not eve_hought.
"I do not know," he replied, slowly; "that question had not occurred to m_efore. What do you think? Might it not have come about in the ordinar_equence of events?"
Peter shook his head. "Not likely," he muttered; "there must have been a shoc_f some kind."
The young man smiled brightly. "Well, I cannot answer for yesterday's events,"
he said, "having neither record nor recollection of the day; but I certainl_ustained a shock this morning on awaking on the bare rocks at such a_ltitude as this and with no trace of a human being visible!"
"On the rocks!" Peter repeated; "where?"
"Yonder," said the young man, indicating the direction; "come, I will show yo_he exact spot."
He led the way to his rocky bed, near one end of the plateau, then watched hi_ompanion's movements as he knelt down and carefully inspected the rock, then,
rising to his feet, looked searchingly in every direction with his ferret-lik_lance.
"Ah!" the latter suddenly exclaimed, with emphasis, at the same time pointin_o a rock almost overhanging their heads.
Following the direction indicated, the young man saw a pine-tree on the edg_f the overhanging rock, the entire length of its trunk split open, it_ranches shrivelled and blackened as though by fire.
Peter, notwithstanding his age, sprang up the rocks with the agility of _anther, the younger man following more slowly. As he came up Peter turne_rom an examination of the dead tree and looked at him significantly.
"An electric shock!" he said; "that was a living tree yesterday. There was a_lectric storm last night, the worst in years; it brought death to the tree,
but life to you."
To the younger man the words of the old hermit seemed incredible, but tha_ight brought him a strange confirmation of their truth. Upon disrobing fo_he night, what was his astonishment to discover upon his right shoulder an_xtending downward diagonally across the right breast a long, blue mark o_rregular, zigzag form, while running parallel with it its entire length,
perfect as though done in India ink with an artist's pen, was the outline o_he very scene surrounding him where he lay that morning—cliff and crag an_ountain peak—traced indelibly upon the living flesh, an indubitable evidenc_f the power which had finally aroused his dormant faculties and a souvenir o_he lost years which he would carry with him to his dying day.