The Great Samara
E. Phillips Oppenheim
GABRIEL SAMARA, dictator of Russia, had sent for her, and the Princess Catherine, some time known as Catherine Borans, typist of the stenographic Bureau of the Hotel Weltmore in New York, but, ever since Samara’s visit to New York, more than a year before, his secretary, was obeying his summons.
The concluding instalment of one of the most vivid mystery stories Oppenheim has ever written.
She was thinking hard.
Great things had háppened since she had met Samara.
Owing to what she had told him,' he had revoked the decree of exile against her monarchist relatives, including even her fiancee and cousin, Nicholas Imanoff, pretender to the old Czarist throne. They had all come back to Russia; all were plotting Samara’s downfall.
Catherine, greatly admiring Samara, still believed in monarchism. Yet she had rejected the proposal of marriage of Frederick of Wehrenzollern, soon to become German Kaiser, if all reports were true. Was it because, as he triumphantly said, she loved her cousin? She was by no means sure!
Samara! Oh, a great man —but a strange one! Against all advice he was demobilizing the Russian armies. Against all advice he had left Nicholas and the rest of them free to plot against him—as he had trusted her with all his secrets.
The night before had brought things to a head; General Trotsk, minister of police, had invaded her aunt’s house and ordered Nicholas practically under arrest. And now Samara had sent for her.
Samara greeted her with a grin of delight when, in response to his telephone summons, she appeared at Government House on the following morning. General Trotsk’s report had appealed immensely to his sense of humor.
“So your aunt is giving royalist tea-parties,” he re-, marked, “and your relatives are sporting the uniforms of the Imperial Guard. Were you there when the fun began?”
“I was there,” she admitted. “I didn’t think it very funny.”
‘You are quite right,” he confessed. “It is not funny. It is pathetic. These people have lived in the past so long that they have taught themselves to believe in its reincarnation. All the same, your aunt seems to have been behaving very badly.”
Catherine shrugged her shoulders.
“Is there any reason why she should not entertain her old friends?” she enquired.
“Not the slightest,” Samara agreed. “I should not have interfered in a thousand years. Trotsk takes himself too seriously. He speaks already of the Royalist movement as though there could be such a thing.”
“General Trotsk may err too much in one direction,” Catherine observed. “As an impartial looker-on, I should say that you erred too much in another.”
^ “Are you an impartial looker-on?” he asked quickly.
Trotsk will have it that you are one of the gang.” tt "I am a royalist, at heart, of course,” she acknowledged, “but I am not a conspirator.”
my lover,” she said coolly.
“A very natural question,” he remarked, taking up a pile of letters and beginning to look them through. “Was that your only provocation?” She turned away, opened her desk, and drew out her work.
“I have always understood,” she reflected, “that the standard of morals amongst the educated portion of the Russian bourgeoisie was exceedingly low.” “Meaning me?” he asked cheerfully.
“The cap, alas, does not fit,” he assured her. “I have no pretensions to rank amongst the bourgeoisie. I am of peasant stock.”
“You do not surprise me,” she replied.
“What have you been doing to Andrew Kroupki?” he asked abruptly.
“Quarrelled with him, more or less,” she replied. “As a matter of fact the quarrel was not of my seeking. He insulted me the other morning.”
“Is it true that you knocked him down?”
“Perfectly,” Catherine admitted. “I was delighted to find how strong I was.”
Samara looked at her gravely.
“It is a terrible thing,” he declared, “for a man to strike a woman, although she often deserves it. For a woman to strike a man is a tragedy. What was his offense?”
Catherine had seated herself at her table a few yards away. She swung round and faced her questioner.
E ROSE to his feet and set into operation the machinery which unlocked the great private safe. In a minute or two he appeared with a roll of manuscript.
“Please get on with this manifesto,” he begged. “You are at your best this morning. It would be a pity to waste such intelligence.”
She took the papers.
“I should like to know what has become of Andrew,” she said.
“He has gone to London as my advance agent. I do not think that he will ever come back—not unless you leave me. Of course,” he went on, “if this little teaparty scheme of your aunt’s comes off, you are booked for the part of Czarina, I suppose.”
“There is always that hope,” she admitted.
“Heaven preserve me from another woman secretary,” he exclaimed. “One never gets the last word.”
Catherine was studiously silent. Samara waited for a moment or two. Then he left the room, slamming the door violently. It was an hour before he returned, and when he did he closed the door behind him and locked it. Catherine looked up questioningly.
“What is that for?” she asked.
“So that you don’t leave me before I am ready for you to go,” he answered. “Also to make sure that we are not interrupted.”
“It seems a little absurd,” she complained. “I have no idea of going until I bave finished my work.”
“How long will that take you?”
“Finish, it, then,’Yhe directed. “Afterwards I have something to say to you.”
She continued her task. Samara studied a handful of documents which he had brought back with him, signing some and throwing' others on one side. Once or twice he spoke on the telephone. Finally Catherine turned towards him.
“I have finished,” she announced. “Will you check my transcription?”
“Presently,” he acquiesced.
“You had something to say to me?” she reminded him. “I had. I find that after all old Trotsk wasn’t such an idiot. There is a genuine monarchist plot afoot.”
She sat watching him, without faltering, with no sign of self-consciousness.
“Started in your aunt’s drawing-room without a doubt,” he went on, “subscribed to and joined by all that shabby down-at-heel crew I brought home from the second-rate American boarding-house; making its way in the army, they tell me—especially the Second Army. Do you know that I have to postpone my journey to England, and go down to Odensk to harangue these recalcitrant subjects? That’s the result of trying to make good Russians of men like Kirdorff and Orenburg. What do they care about Russia? It’s their blasted selves they think of.
“They have a right to their convictions,” he continued. “They’ve been guilty of treason against the State. Trotsk has just given me a copy of one of Kirdorff’s speeches to the Fourth Army Corps! He’d have been tried by court martial and shot a few years ago. I hate to kill fools, but something must be done. Trotsk would have the whole lot of them out of the country, or facing the firing line in ten minutes and I am not sure that he isn’t right. Advise me, Miss Secretary. What am I to do with this nest of vipers? Not much poison about them, but enough to hurt, Trotsk says. Tell me how to deal with them.”
“Too great a responsibility for me,” she replied.
“What if I were to shoot Nicholas Imanoff, or banish him?” he suggested.
“There isn’t another Imanoff among them. They can’t make, a Czar out of an ordinary person, can they—even an aristocrat?”
“There is me”—she remarked meditatively. “I am an Imanoff. They might make me Czarina and permit me to choose my consort.”
“You had a predecessor,” he reminded her scornfully. “A pretty mess you’d make of things.”
“That would depend upon my consort,” she replied. “I might choose you. How would you like that?”
He stood like a statue looking at her across the bare, lofty room. She was not near enough to see the knuckles whiten about his clenched fists or to catch the fugitive gleam of something unusual in his hard, brilliant eyes. She noticed with surprise, however, the slight break in his voice.
“Curse it. Can’t you ever be serious?” he.exclaimed. “I’ve a good mind to throw the lot of them into prison.”
“I should only intercede on behalf of my aunt,” Catherine assured him.
“She is really quite a dear old thing, but Czardom to her is very much like his Bible to an English Methodist.”
The private telephone on Samara’s table rang. He picked up the receiver and listened for a moment or two, frowning. Then he nodded, and laid it down.
“Your friends,” he said, turning to Catherine, “are beginning to annoy me. Trotsk is outside with an amazing story. You had better stop and listen to what he has to say.”
GENERAL TROTSK was ushered in shortly afterwards. He entered the room and saluted, looking grimmer than ever.
“Sir,” he announced, “I have a report to make.”
“I am at your service, General,” Samara replied. The visitor indicated Catherine with a little wave of the hand. Samara only smiled.
“I should prefer you to speak before Miss Borans,” he said. “I have a certain amount of confidence in her, but apart from that, she is in a way responsible for my ever having invited this nest of conspirators over here.”
“Miss Borans may yet find, then, that her responsibility is a heavy one,” General Trotsk declared, with portentous coldness. “I have already reported, sir,” he continued, “that I found Colonel Kirdorff and Lieutenant Nicholas Imanoff attending a private function yesterday, wearing the uniform of the late Imperial Army. I ordered them to report at once at the War Office. It has now come to my knowledge that they failed to do so. They left the city instead, traveling iby motor car in the direction of Odensk.”
“Well,” he remarked, “I suppose you did not allow them to get very far?”
“They were arrested by my orders at Milton,” the General went on, “and were brought back to the city under escort. I am here to ask your instructions, sir. The Minister of War is at Odensk, as is also General Denkers, commanding the Second Army.”
Samara glanced at his watch.
“Bring them here at three o’clock,” he directed. “I jvill deal with this matter summarily.”
The Minister of Police saluted.
“I have your permission, sir, to speak frankly?” he asked.
‘•“By all means,” Samara replied. “You may discard officialdom altogether if you will. Light a cigarette and speak to me as my trusted minister.”
The Minister qf Police made no movement towards the box of cigarettes which Samara proferred. Catherine was watching him from across the room with fascinated eyes. There was something inhuman about this man’s slow, deliberate speech, his waxen complexion, his lack of all earnestness; something sinister about the cold detachment of his words.
“My reports as to the condition of the morale of the Second Army are unsatisfactory,” he declared. “These two men, in their persons, and by their precepts, have broken the laws of Russia and are largely responsible for the disaffection. I recommend that under Section Seven of the Military Discipline Act they be shot this afternoon. It is possible that such action will avert grave results.”
“I shall bear what you say seriously in mind, General,” Samara promised.
The Minister of¿¡Police saluted stiffly and withdrew. Samara waited until the door was closed behind him.
“You heard Trotsk’s suggestion,” he observed, turning to Catherine. “It seems to me that your chances of wearing that crown are slipping away!”
SAMARA broke through precedent that afternoon.
He consented to receive a visitor who came without an appointment. Alexandrina, her good-humored face wrinkled with anxiety, her clothes ill-arranged, and out of breath already with the exertion of climbing, the long flight of steps and crossing the great stone hall of Government House, was ushered into his presence. Nothing of the grande dame remained but her manner.
“I owe you my thanks for receiving me, Mr. Samara,” she said, as he rose to greet her. “Will you allow me to sit down? I am out of breath. I remember your house and that flight of steps when it was the palace of my cousin, the Grand Duke Cyril. In those days, however, steps meant nothing to me.”
Samara placed a chair for her with grave courtesy and returned to his own seat. He preserved his somewhat ominous demeanor.
“I have been trying to find my niece,” Alexandrina continued. “At Government Buildings they would not admit me. I thought, perhaps, that she might be here.” ' “She will arrive in half-an-hour,” Samara confided. “She is now at Government Buildings, finishing some work for me. If you would care to wait for her here,
my housekeeper shall show you a salon where you may be comfortable.”
“Thank you very much,” was the grateful reply, “but since I am fortunate enough to have your ear for a moment, I will tell you my mission. I came to ask Catherine to intercede with you on behalf of my hot-headed nephew and Colonel Kirdorff.”
“On what grounds, madame?” Samara asked.
“Nicholas is young and he is an Imanoff,” she said. “This is his Russia by the grace of God. How can he be expected to yield to the discipline of an artificial constitution?”
A slight smile played about Samara’s lips. This was greater candor than he had expected.
“Madame,” he reminded her. “I did myself the honor of paying you a visit a few weeks ago. Rumors of the activities of your friends had reached me. I offered you then a warning. You had accepted the hospitality of the Republican Government of Russia. In plotting against it you, or any other, were guilty of a dishonorable action.”
“Mr. Samara,” Alexandrina said simply, “I cannot argue with you. I live by my convictions. You are without doubt a great statesman and you have been a great benefactor to this country. I appeal to you only as a man. I beg that you will not treat Nicholas’s misdemeanor too seriously.”
“I have heard you, madame,” Samara replied. “I can make you no promise. I am the servant of the State.”
The Grand Duchess rose to her feet. Samara’s face was like stone. She knew very well that further speech was useless.
“At least,” she concluded, “I thank you for receiving me. I read in New York, and I have been told here, that your regime in this country is one of mercy. I shall pray for your forbearance, sir, and-for you, if you extend it to my nephew.”
She left the room, escorted by Ivan, and without further word from Samara. He sat in his chair for a time, thoughtfully studying the mass of papers by which he was surrounded. Presently Catherine entered, carrying her despatch box. She came straight over to his desk.
“The work is finished,” she announced. “You will remember that Andrew is not here. Do you wish me to communicate with the Chief of the Ministerial Printing Press?”
“Presently,” he answered. “Lock the despatch box in the safe.”
“I do not understand the mechanism,” she reminded him.
He rose to his feet and began to demonstrate it. She suddenly seized his arm.
“Why do you trust me like this?” she expostulated. “You seem surer of me than I am of myself.”
“I must trust some one,” he observed. “Andrew was the only other person who knew the secret and he is not available.”
“But why me?” she protested. “You know that there are reasons why you should not.”
“I trust or distrust, by instinct, only,” he replied. “I govern in the same way.”
“Then you make a gamble of life and government,” she declared. “Sooner or later, the crash will come.” “Meanwhile, watch me,” he directed. “The combinations, you will have to learn—”
Presently the telephone bell rang. He took down the receiver and his face hardened as he listened.
“In ten minutes,” he decided.
Catherine turned towards the door. He called her back.
“Have you nothing further to say to me?” he asked. “Nothing,” she observed.
“You know that your aunt has been here?”
“I have been told so,” she admitted! “I can add nothing to what she has probably already said.” “Your personality might have more weight,” he suggested.
She shrugged her shoulders.
“Put it in the scale then by all means,” she enjoined. “In plain words,” he persisted, “you are too proud to ask a favor of me.”
“I know you too well,” she assured him. “You will do what you choose, what you think fit and right. Nothing that I or anybody else in the world could say would make any difference.”
Her hand was upon the door. Again he called her back.
“I desire you to remain during my interview with Continued on page SO
Continued from page 26
your friends,” he said. “They will be here almost immediately.”
“Why should I be present?” she asked coldly.
“So that you may know the truth without perversion. Go to your desk in the alcove. You can hear there, but you will be invisible.”
She still hesitated.
“I have every instinct towards insubordination,” she told him.
“Conquer it,” he insisted. “I may need you to bear witness for me in the future.”
She had scarcely reached her alcove before General Trotsk was ushered in. Kirdorff and Nicholas Imanoff followed, wearing military greatcoats buttoned to their throats. Behind came a guard of two soldiers with fixed bayonets. The Minister of Police saluted.
“According to your instructions, sir,” he announced. Samara seated himself at his desk. Kirdorff and Imanoff stood opposite to him, on either side of them a soldier, the Minister of Police, immovable and grave, a few feet away.
“Boris Kirdorff and Nicholas Imanoff,” Samara began, “less than twelve months ago you accepted my offer to return to this country and become Russian citizens. I gave you both posts in the Republican Army. I told you that I was prepared to view your monarchical principles with tolerance. Every one in this country has a right to his own opinions and has a right also to ventilate them. So far as you could wish to influence people openly, and honorably, by lectures and literature, you were at liberty to do so. You have ignored the honorable means of propaganda.
You have stooped not only to underground conspiracy but to conspiracy with a foreign power. You have made use of your position in the Army to initiate a seditious plot amongst the soldiers of the State, directed against the republicans of this country. Do you require evidence? I can give it to you.”
“I desire no evidence,” Kirdorff replied. “It is quite true that I have endeavored to waken the people of Russia to a sense of what is due to themselves and their natural ruler.”
“And I,” Nicholas added, “being by descent and the grace of God,
Czar of all the Russias, can be guilty of treason to no one.”
“A very comfortable self-assurance,”
Samara remarked with a faint sneer.
“To proceed to a minor point. You were discovered yesterday wearing a uniform which is contrary to the regulations of the Army in which you serve.”
“So long as there is a Russian army,”
Nicholas argued, “so long must there be a regiment of Imperial Guards.”
“An entire fallacy,” Samara assured him. “To continue. You were directed by the Chief of Police to report at the War Office. You failed to do so.”
“We are only subject to military discipline,” Kirdorff observed.
“You display a shameless ignorance of existent conditions,” Samara said sternly. “The Chief of Police ranks as a Major-General in the Army. To disobey his orders amounts to gross insubordination, the penalty for which you know.”
“On a technical point,” Kirdorff admitted, “we appear to be guilty. I have never in my ^experience connected any part of the civil administration with the army.”
“It should be your duty to learn the regulations of the army whose uniform you wear, and whose pay you draw,” Samara, reminded them coldly. “You are both, on your own showing, guilty of military insubordination and treason against the army of the Republic. The penalty for both offences is death.”
“I demand to be tried by court-martial,” Kirdorff exclaimed.
“And I,” Nicholas echoed.
“Again your ignorance of the regulations amazes me,” Samara declared. “I am the Commander-in-Chief of the Republican Army. I and General Trotsk form an ever existing court-martial, empowered to deal summarily with any cases which we direct to be brought before us.” For the first time both men lost confidence. Nicholas’
air of somewhat fatuous bravado had disappeared and he was tugging nervously at his moustache. Kirdorff was obviously taken aback.
“Your republic, then,” he ventured, “is a more autocratic institution than any monarchy which I remember.”
“Your criticism may be just, but it is irrelevant,” Samara observed. “We are a competent tribunal; your offences are acknowledged. The penalty is beyond dispute. Have you anything further to say as to why this sentence should not be carried out upon you?”
“The army will rise to a man,” Nicholas threatened, shaking with emotion.
“Young sir,” Samara enjoined, “you would be wiser to omit all mention of an army in which you have served merely to gain your own purposes. Furthermore, halfpast five is the time at which our firing parties generally parade. Odensk is some distance away.”
Nicholas was almost beside himself with mingled fear and passion.
“It is unheard of, this!” he cried. “I have still my American citizenship. I appeal.”
“Spare me a few illusions,” Samara begged. “For a Russian, seeking to obtain a lofty position in his own country by virtue of his birth, to attempt to shelter himself in a moment of danger under a foreign flag, is scarcely in accord with the traditions of your race. Now, listen to me, both of you. I have addressed you
as a judge to the offenders brought before him. Your crime is admitted. The penalty is acknowledged. Now, I am going to speak to you as one human being to another.”
A sudden gleam of hope flashed in Kirdorff’s eyes.
Samara paused for a few minutes as though to collect his thoughts.
“From the point of view of an ordinary human being,” he continued, “you two cannot be judged as normal malefactors. Behind everything that you have done there stands, if not an excuse, a reason. How you can justify yourselves as men of honor I do not know. You accepted my invitation to come here. You accepted the positions I offered you in the army, and you started at once to plot against the government of a country which has never been so stable and prosperous as she is to-day. I will still bear with you. I will look upon you as men afflicted with an intriguing turn of mind.
“You believe that the code of honor may be abnegated if the cause itself be great enough. Very well. You believe that monarchy is a great cause. You believe that Russia would be better governed by à monarchy than it is as a Republic. I believe the contrary. Very well. Go and preach your doctrines, and I will preach mine. If you can convert this country to Czardom, do so. Only, do it in future, openly, not by conspiracies and sedition. Don’t pretend to be faithful soldiers when you only wear the uniform to preach treason.”
' I 'HE two men stood with their eyes fastened upon Samara. Nicholas was moistening his lips nervously. Kirdorff had already realized that respite was at hand. The most gloomy figure was that of the Minister of Police.
“My decision is this,” Samara concluded, turning to the latter. “You will escort these two ex-soldiers of the Republic to your Headquarters, where you will strip them of their uniform and provide them with civilian clothes. You will expunge their names from the Army list, but you will give them passes to cross the lines at Odensk and to travel wherever they will in the country. That is all.”
“We are to be set free?” Nicholas gasped.
“I hoped that I had made myself clear,” Samara observed drily.
“You will permit me to say, sir,” Kirdorff ventured, “that you are treating us in chivalrous fashion.” Samara rose to his feet.
“I do not care for nor desire your thanks,” he said. “As criminals I have absolved you.' As men who have stained their honor I shall be glad to be relieved of your presence.”
The Minister of Police knew better than to argue. He made his protest, however.
“You have allowed yourself the luxury of quixotic altruism, sir,” he said, “at the expense of your duty to the Republic.”
“That may be the verdict of posterity, General,” Samara replied. “If so, I must accept it.”
The little procession filed out, Kirdorff and Nicholas alike momentarily drained of dignity, men to whom unexpected generosity had brought a sense of shame. Samara sat still at his desk and waited. There came no sign from Catherine. He rose to his feet, and crossed the room at last to her alcove. On the threshold he stood still, amazed. She was leaning forward, her head buried in her hands, her shoulders convulsed. He came a little nearer.
“Catherine,” he said quietly.
She held out her hand towards him without looking up. He gripped it tightly. Then he leaned over her. He asked no questions—there was that much of understanding between them. He kissed her fingers tenderly and turned away. Ivan’s stentorian voice was announcing the arrival of his Cabinet in the outer room.
Catherine, a little tired, a little anxious, more than a little unhappy, lay stretched upon the sofa in her aunt’s drawing room, smoking an after-dinner cigarette. Opposite her, Alexandrina, with half-a-dozen newspapers by her side, her spectacles slipped on to the edge of her nose, her voice unsteady with excitement, was reading aloud occasional paragraphs.
“Listen to this, Catherine,” she exclaimed. “This is from the leading socialist paper in Berlin:
Continued on page S3
Continued from page 30
‘“THE POLITICAL CRISIS STILL CONTINUES ‘Herr Brandt has confessed himself wholly unable to form a ministry and Dr. Beither has also refused responsibility. Meanwhile the Imperialist Party have openly avowed that they are in a position at any time to form a government which will command the entire support of the whole country. Prince Frederick is unable to leave his house in the Wilhelmstrasse owing to the crowds which surround it night and day. The announcement of a change of constitution is expected hourly.’ ” Catherine listened unmoved.
“I seem to have missed a great chance,” she murmured. “The young man was very much in love with me.”
“You are one of the fortunate ones of the earth, Catherine,” she said. “No other woman in history has quite occupied your position. You could have been Kaiserin of Germany, and instead you will become Czarina of Russia.”
Catherine poured herself out some coffee from the copper pot which stood by her side. She clapped her hands and a somewhat uncouth-looking Russian servant entered.
“Sugar, Paul,” she ordered, “and the samovar for Her Highness. See if that is a later edition of the paper they are calling in the street, too.”
The man withdrew stolidly.
“Even if the royalists succeed in Germany,” Catherine continued, “I cannot see that our chances are much improved. They have no Samara to deal with there.” “Gabriel Samara is a great man,” her aunt admitted, “but his dominion is on the wane. His ministers have allowed all the power to drift into his hands simply because they have had no will to resist. Many have resented it, however. His final proposals with regard to the completion of this demobilisation scheme are unpopular throughout the whole country. They only passed the Duma by less than a dozen votes.”
Catherine leaned back thoughtfully, with her hands clasped around her knees.
“He is rash, like all great men,” she said. “He should have gone more quietly with these altruistic ventures of his. The people do not understand, and he is always a little impatient of opposition. But he has genius, and a man with genius is not easily crushed.”
The servant returned with the sugar and the evening paper. Alexandrina glanced the latter through.
“Nothing fresh,” she declared. “Samara is to address the last of his series of meetings at Odensk to-night.” The door was thrown open. General Odenburg was announced. They both turned towards him eagerly. “Any news?” Catherine asked.
“Nothing within the last few hours,” the general answered, seating himself by his hostess’s side on the ■divan. “I came, wondering whether you had heard anything from Kirdorff.”
“Nothing,” Alexandrina replied. “The news from Berlin is amazing.”
“Amazing indeed,” Orenburg assented. “Six months ago the German Liberal Party appeared to have an ample majority and to be thoroughly established. The Imperialists scarcely dared to let their voices be heard. They were the weakest party in the State. Now a ■cataclysm seems to have taken place, a fever seems to have spread throughout the country. Every moment -one expects to hear that Frederick has been proclaimed Kaiser.”
“What do you think about the position here?” Catherine enquired curiously.
“In the light of what has happened in Germany, it is hard to say,” the general said. “Six months ago Samara was his country’s god, and the Duma were prepared to follow him blindly. If there had been another election he could have nominated every candidate. To-day there seems to be a strange undercurrent of political reaction. The people do not understand this demobilisation. The peasants and work people are afraid of undue competition, the soldiers of privations, the bourgeoisie of invasion. They have suddenly begun to wonder whether their idol is only a great theorist. How far the pendulum will swing back I cannot tell. We know that the Russian people are faithful and dogged. It seems hard to believe that in a few months’ time they could forget and discard the man who slew their dragon.”
“Samara has ruled Russia for fifteen years,” Alexandrina said solemnly. “Ruled her for her own good, we must admit, but ruled her like an autocrat. All the same, just as I believe in God as our spiritual Master, so I believe that every human being is born with the reverent instinct and desire for temporal government by an anointed head. Germany’s period of madness lasted for a short time only. When France, too, comes to her senses and a king reigns once more at Versailles, then the wounds of the world will be healed and not before. So far as we are concerned there has never been a time like the present. If we can secure the Army -our moment may have arrived.”
ONCE more the door was hurriedly opened, this time to admit a more unexpected arrival. Nicholas Imanoff entered, wearing a long brown leather coat and carrying dark spectacles in his hand. He was still a little breathless and had the air of one who has just concluded a rapid journey.
“Have you heard the news from Berlin?” he cried. “Nothing for some hours,” Orenburg replied. “Frederick was proclaimed Kaiser early this afternoon!” he announced. “The whole city is en fete, and to-morrow has been declared a national holiday!” “Wonderful,” Alexandrina murmured, the tears standing in her eyes.
“What news of Odensk?” the General asked. “Samara is like King Canute,” Nicholas pronounced. “He has a great following there. He is enthusiastically received but the men are on our side, and he cannot keep back the tide.”
“You have a mission here?” Orenburg enquired. The young man nodded, threw his coat over the back of a chair, and called to the domestic for brandy.
“I have flown from Odensk,” he explained. “All goes well, but one of our recruits insists that there are now in print secret orders to every army corps commander, to be issued some time within the next week, which might affect our plans. It is absolutely necessary that we get hold of these orders.”
He looked across at Catherine. She tossed her cigarette into the fire and smiled at him pleasantly.
“You seem to have established a secret service already, Nicholas,” she remarked.
“Kirdorff is organizer,” he acknowledged. “I speak in his name. It is he who has found out about these proclamations and secret orders. They are in code at present, but I think we could find some one who could deal with them. Do you know anything about them, Catherine?”
“Very likely,” she replied.
“Splendid,” he exclaimed, enthusiastically. “Kirdorff hates mystery. He had always felt that Samara had something up his sleeve or he would never have dared to make this an open struggle.”
“ ‘Dare’ is scarcely the word to use in connection with Samara,” Catherine observed. “He may have made glorious mistakes but he has the courage of a lion.”
“No one wishes to deny that Samara is a great man,” Nicholas declared, a little impatiently. “His time is over, though. If he behaves sensibly and leaves the country without provoking a conflict, no harm will happen to him. Catherine, I want a copy of that secret order. I shall fly back with it to Odensk to-night.” “How do you know that I can give it to you?” she demanded.
“That is of no consequence,” he answered. “The knowledge has come to us. It was you alone who worked for Samara on the day when he thought out his scheme. Why do you hesitate? What other reason had you for working for this man than to aid the cause?” Catherine rose from the sofa, shook out her skirt and stood by her aunt’s side.
“Aunt,” she said, “what is your opinion? I became Mr. Samara’s secretary intending to betray him at the first possible opportunity. I am still a royalist, I am still as anxious as any of you to see Nicholas Czar of Russia. On the other hand, Samara is a great, honorable man. Shall I do well—I, a Princess Royal of Russia— to betray his confidence?”
Alexandrina looked a little disturbed. She was almost brutally frank.
“My dear,” she confided, “I never dreamed that you would hesitate for a single moment.”
Catherine turned to Orenburg.
“What is your opinion, General?” she asked.
“I sympathise with your position, Princess,” he said, “but the cause must come before everything.”
CATHERINE was standing in the glow of a tall rose-shaded electric standard. Her expression was unusually serious. Nicholas, fresh from the drab barbarities of a huge garrison cantonment, thought that she had never appeared so desirable.
“The best friends in the world,” she said, “must sometimes agree to differ. I am a royalist, and by any honorable means I would try to help Nicholas. The thing you ask of me I will not do.”
“You desert me?” Nicholas exclaimed passionately. “I do nothing of the sort,” she replied. “I am against Samara, I am for you, but let us fight fairly. Samara himself has set you a great example.”
Nicholas poured himself out more brandy. His fingers were shaking. He dared not trust himself to speech. Alexandrina stretched out her hand and took her knitting.
“If Catherine has made up her mind,” she remarked, “it is of no use trying to change her.”
“The young are like that,” General Orenburg agreed with quiet resignation. “As they grow older the light they carry burns less brightly, and the journey becomes easier. The Princess must have her way.”
Nicholas indulged in one final outburst. He set down his tumbler empty and caught up his coat.
“I am to go back, then, and report failure,” he protested. “I am to report that while we may sell our souls and bodies for the cause, my affianced wife has scruples about betraying the confidences of a usurper. We shall find another way into the secret though. Be sure of that.”
“I doubt it,” Catherine rejoined coldly.
Nicholas forgot for a moment to be cautious.
“You think that it is your secret and his alone,” he sneered. “You are mistaken. There is another.” “There is only Andrew Kroupki,” she declared, “and he is in London.”
Nicholas buttoned up his coat without a word.
“I had hoped to stay a little longer,” he said, kissing his aunt’s fingers. “Catherine’s decision drives me back to the camp at once, however. I must let them know of my non-success.”
He hurried off. Between Catherine and him there passed only the slightest of farewells. They heard the front door slam, and the sound of his automobile driving away. Alexandrina rose with a little sigh, fetched the cribbage board and sat down opposite to the general. Catherine moved to the window and stood listening to the cry of the newspaper boys in the street.
THE mind of Europe was suddenly swayed and distorted by an avalanche of strange happenings. Once more the Imperial flag flew from the royal residences in Berlin and Potsdam. A proclamation, studiously moderate in tone, almost democratic in its general outline, and without a single bombastic reference to the military powers by whose machinations his success had been achieved, had marvelously consolidated the young Emperor’s position. Austria was reported to be on the point of begging for inclusion in the German Empire. Italy, with the grasp of socialists upon her throat, could only look on and wonder.
France with a deep groan, went at once into military conclave, counted her armies and found them insufficient, inspected her forts and found them vulnerable, but with the amazing and patient heroism of her race, set herself to face the inevitable. England, the most faithful subscriber to the Limitation of Armaments which Germany had so flagrantly disregarded, postponed the Peace Conference and sent out half a dozen commissions of ingenuous and credulous men to study conditions in the various countries which had subscribed to the League.
America looked on from afar and tried not to feel the thrill of gratitude and superiority with which her great ocean barrier usually inspired the less far-seeing of her citizens. Russia, after twenty years of peace and content, felt the throb of political emotion—a new sensation in her giant body. She was bewildered at the strength of her own feelings. The more intelligent portion of the ■ community looked with something like reverence upon that amazing rekindling of monarchical, almost religious, sentiment on the part of the peasant class. Only a minority of them could remember rule under Czardom; could remember the whispers of “a Little Father,” a being nearer than God in their thoughts, as making a more tangible and real appeal to their imaginations.
Samara’s action, regarded with wondering admiration in other countries, stunned many of his own supporters. He dissolved the Duma as soon as he recognized the strength of the monarchist movement, and issued a proclamation in every electoral district requiring the people to nominate their representative on the question of the constitution of the country. Immersed in the one scheme so near his heart, yet the scheme, which had temporarily shaken his power, he remained at Odensk and in the neighborhood, patiently addressing audience after audience of his dissatisfied soldiery, trying to convince the most difficult race upon the earth, realizing his slow progress, yet fascinated with his task and deaf to the pleadings of his advisers to seek a wider field. The acme of his quixotism, however, was yet to come.
CATHERINE found herself living in an atmosphere of excitement from which she was to some extent excluded. Alexandrina, after Nicholas’s visit, had never once alluded to its purpose. Nevertheless, Catherine had felt the veil fall. She discussed the situation with no one, but she pondered over it. She compared the Russia of her dreams with the Russia which Samara had created; compared the man in his daily life and ideals as she knew them, with the narrow monarchical judgment which branded him simply as a usurper and a demagogue.
Czardom she had accepted very much as she had accepted the Bible. Both, it seemed to her, were fundamentals. The atheist was by the very fact of his existence a debased creature, the anarchist, vermin of a different race, the republican or anti-monarchist of any type a person outside argument or consideration. Monarchy was God’s system of government. Any other form was a species of blasphemy. It was really, after all, a
somewhat clarified vision of the point of view once held by fifty million peasants.
Samara, in the days of her earliest acquaintance with him, she had looked upon as one of the milestones on the way from the ruin of her country to its regeneration, to be brushed aside ruthlessly enough when the whole light of sanity once more returned to the people. The ethics of his system of government she had never even considered. She had marvelled at its results, but all the time with the feeling that the same and better results would have been attained under monarchical rule. She had never even doubted that if the longed-for day of re-establishment should come, she would marry Nicholas and reign over Russia. She scarcely doubted that, even now, although for once their wills had crossed.
Yet, in these days, she found herself comparing the two men. She found herself asking in the spirit of a new born heresy, whether Nicholas indeed possessed a single one of Samara’s gifts, whether indeed it were possible for him, ruling by divine grace to attain results similar to those which Samara’s genius had achieved. In those days of disquiet after her few hours of daily work at Government buildings, necessarily restricted, owing to Samara’s absence, she took to walking the streets in the late afternoon, when twilight offered a sort of shelter-—streets now as safe as the thoroughfares of any European capital, of the world, thanks to the wonderful system of police. Nearly always her way led her past Government House.
One evening, to her surprise, she found a crowd collected in the street—a patient crowd, watching a thin thread of light through the curtained windows of a room on the lower floor. She paused for a moment and listened, gathering from the whispers that Samara had returned. In front of the door stood a high-powered motor car.
She retreated a little from the throng and passed into a side street, unlocked a postern door in the wall with a key which she carried always with her, and made her way up the narrow strip of artificial garden to the back of the house. A man servant admitted her without question, and she hastened towards Samara’s room on the ground floor. Ivan stood on duty outside the door.
“One may enter?” she enquired.
Ivan shook his head.
“General Trotsk is within,” he replied, “and Minister Argoff. There is to be no interruption.”
CATHERINE fetched herself a chair and sat down. The conference was obviously of a disturbed nature. Often she heard Argoff’s voice raised almost to passion, and more than once the cold anger which burned at the back of Trotsk’s measured words filled them with unusual and ominous volume. Samara’s voice, alone, seemed unchanged but sometimes in his intonation she detected a sign of the strain from which he must be suffering. At last came silence—then the throwing open of the door.
The Minister of Police and Argoff came out together. The former glanced steadily at Catherine, saluted, hesitated and passed on. Ivan stood on one side and she crossed the threshold. As the door was closed behind her, she stopped short. Samara’s head was buried in his hands. Instinctively she felt like an intruder, and hesitated, wondering whether she could withdraw unheard. Samara, however, with his amazing sensibility, seemed to be suddenly conscious of her presence. The flutter of her skirt, a waft of perfume from the bunch of dying violets she wore, or perhaps the sound of her quick indrawn breath, warned him of her coming. He looked up, rose an inch or two from his chair and nodded in friendly fashion.
“The light tires my eyes,” he said, as though in explanation of his posture. “How did you know that I was here?”
“By the people outside, not from you,” she replied, a little Reproachfully.
“I nearly sent for you,” he admitted, “just to indulge in the very weakness of sharing my woes.”
“The Peace Conference, I am told, is postponed,” she said. “Why is Andrew not back from London?”
The question seemed to perplex him.
“I wish I knew,” he admitted. “I cabled him to return. For ten days I have had no word from him. He is perhaps ill.” “It is I who have robbed you of the one person who should have been by your side,” she exclaimed remorsefully.
He shook his head.
“I am not sure whether Andrew would be any comfort to me if he were here,” he confided. “He behaved most strangely before he left and he never sympathized with my demobilisation schemes. I rather fancy that he would go over to the great majority and side against me.”
He sat quite still for a moment as though deliberating. Catherine venturing to watch him a little more closely, was shocked at the change in his appearance. There were hollows underneath those always somewhat high cheek-bones. His mouth, in its straight firm lines, seemed to have lost the possibility of any tendernes or humor. His eyes had surely receded a little and hardened. The wistful gleam of the visionary was still lurking in their depths but the light of hope seemed to have grown weak.
“The room is insufferable,” he declared wearily. “I dare not open the windows because of the people. Come up to the top, I have a fancy to talk with you there.”
SHE followed him from the room by a door opening out of the alcove, along a narrow passage and into the self-adjusting lift, then up to the final flights of stairs, on to the leaded parapets. From the recess to which he presently led her the whole of the city westwards was visible, enclosed in an arc of lights, with a glimpse beyond of the great plain rolling and falling to an indefinable horizon. The new city was tangled with the old; high buildings and straight hewn streets cleaving their way through the jumble of ancient tenements, decayed mansions, half palaces, half hovels, the churches with their strangely shaped roofs and towers, the gim-crack lodging houses of Soviet erection. In the half light one seemed to be able to visualize the eternal struggle between modernity and antiquity, the utilitarian triumphing, magnificent in victory; here and there an old street or square left only partially destroyed, lending a touch of beauty to the stern and intruding materialism of brick and iron. Samara laid his hand upon Catherine’s sleeve, his other arm out-flung to where the canopy of lights ended.
“This has been my hardest task,” he said, “and this has become the city I love. When they asked me to do what I could for Russia, there was scarcely a light to be seen from here, scarcely a sound building. The streets were full of holes and ruts, sewers were open, no man or woman could walk safely for a hundred yards in any direction. There was scarcely a shop doing business, prices were ridiculous, people died of starvation in the street. And to-day, see! Even this below is only the birth of a great city, but it grows hour by hour. The stores are full, prices are normal. Look at that blaze of light westward. Those are factories working overtime, on American contracts.”
“Russia will never forget what you have done for her,” she answered him softly.
“History may remind her in the future,” he answered. “Your passerby in the streets below to-night has forgotten. Strange things are happening hour by hour. Marshall Phildivia, Commanderin-Chief of the Russian armies, received instructions to report here to-day. He failed to do so. They tell me that after receiving the mandate he flew instead to Odensk. Trotsk, my one really strong man, has asked to-night for permission to resign his position.”
“I do not understand,” she confessed. “Are you preparing to abdicate without even a fight?”
“A fight!” he repeated. “I have been
fighting every minute of every day for the last three weeks. I shall fight to the end, but concerning one thing I have sworn an oath in Heaven, and no one shall make me perjure myself. Enough blood has been shed in Russia. What there is left is best preserved. I shall resist monarchy with the last breath of my body, but not a single Russian soldier shall lose his life for or against me.”
“There is something tragic about it all,” she sighed. “You do not mind if I continue to speak frankly?”
“Mind? Go on, please.”
“If it were left to the class you despise most—the bourgeoisie—there would be no doubt of the result. These are the people who read a little and think a little, who study foreign politics and realize the amazing change in their own country. You are sure of them. Their vote is yours to a man. It is the peasants whom you love—the peasants to whom you have spoken as a father to his children—who are the doubtful quantity. They are superstitious, at heart deeply religious, but very, very narrow, very prone to rely upon a passing feeling.”
“I know them,” he admitted. “I must confess that they are the doubtful quantity. I am still content to leave the issue to their judgment.”
“So you have announced,” Catherine said. “But has it ever struck you—it may not suit the other side to wait? The electorate is, after all, unreliable. If they believed that it was in their power to seize Moscow without the possibility of any resistance, don’t you think that they would do so?”
“There is a chance of that,” he answered. “You and I best know why.” “Supposing the Corps Commanders should refuse to destroy the ammunition dumps?” she persisted.
“yhey will not refuse,” he assured her. “They are all my men. You must not imagine either that it will be a matter of hours. It will be a matter of seconds— the turning of a single prepared switch.” “Supposing the royalists should get to know your plans and save the ammunition?”
“It would have to be a very wonderful betrayal,” he observed. “The secret is known to exactly three people in the world, yourself, myself and Andrew. Problem—find the traitor!”
“I am on the side of the royalists,” she reminded him: “it is absurdly rash of you to trust me with such a secret.”
“You might fight,” he answered, “if you were a man. You would never betray.”
FOR some reasons unintelligible to either of them, they both relapsed into a curiously prolonged silence. Samara, a few feet back from the edge of the parapet, was leaning against a great block of masonry, his arms folded, his eyes fixed first upon the dark pall of clouds which had suddenly risen up on the horizon, but later, on Catherine, whose face was a little turned from him. She stood on the extreme edge of the parapet, the upper part of her figure outlined against the black chasm of sky and space, a curiously effective background. She was like a pastel in real life, something fine in line and exquisite in conception, but amazingly human. She looked into the empty places, but without the air of a visionary. There were human thoughts which throbbed in her brain; human passions which stirred in her veins.
Life, which since her departure from New York had moved so swiftly for her, seemed all the time to be piling up prob-
lems which even at that moment filled her mind—problems which she faced with a simplicity and breadth of vision essentially racial. Even her smooth and beautiful forehead was unruffled as she studied the issues which had risen up before her. Samara, watching more and more intently, was puzzled. He remembered ever afterwards that in these, his hours of fate, the most strenuous effort of his mind was directed toward a wistful, intense desire to read the thoughts of one who certainly might have been counted outside the circle of his fate.
The breaking of the storm disturbed them. The whole of the black curtain of clouds seemed suddenly to open and disclose a background of fire. For a moment the light on her face appeared to him almost unearthly. Then she turned towards him with a very human little exclamation.
“Come along down,” she cried. “The rain will be here in a moment.”
The end of her words was lost in the crash of thunder which seemed to shake the building around them. She grasped his arm. He held her tightly and for a moment he did not move.
“An allegory,” he whispered. “I came to look out upon the city because its splendor is mine. I made it, brought it into being. All this is nothing to the meeting of the clouds. To-morrow the sun will shine down again on my work.” Suddenly he felt the cling of her arms, the touch of her body against his. A spell of forgetfulness swept him off his feet as his lips were pressed to hers. There was a moment of deep, intense silence, then the blaze of light again all around them. She broke away, with a perfectly human unembarrassed laugh, though underneath was a curious new undertone.
“Another second,” she warned him, “and all Moscow would have seen us. Perhaps they did, as it is. Come!”
SHE ran with flying footsteps across the leads, down the iron ladder and along the passage. He was breathless when he rejoined her in the great wainscotted library. The telephone bell on his desk was ringing without intermission. She pointed to it silently. He took off the receiver, listened for a time, spoke again and hung it up. Then he turned to Catherine.
“The Cabinet is holding a private session at Government Buildings,” he explained. “They have heard that I am back from Odensk and they have done me the courtesy to desire my presence. I must go there at once. Except for Trotsk, Argoff assures me that they are perfectly sound.”
“Have they to seek election?” she enquired.
“Only by the Duma,” he answered. “They are in office until Parliament reassembles.”
“Are you coming back here afterwards?' she asked.
He shook his head.
“This must be good-night,” he told her. “I am addressing the officers at Odensk to-morrow morning, and I shall fly back as soon as the storm is over. Before I go I want to ask you one question.”
“What were you thinking of to-night when the thunder crashed down upon us?” She smiled reminiscently.
“Of you,” she admitted. ' “I will tell you what I was thinking. I was remembering first of all a saying of Voltaire’s that ‘Every great man in the world at some time or another makes one huge mistake.' Do you know what yours is?”
“You have despised women. You have been too proud to share yourself, to live anywhere else except in the unalterable ego. You have classed women with flowers and wine and sunshine—a great mistake, Gabriel Samara.”
“There are not many women like you,” he said, after a moment’s pause.
“That is part of your folly,” she insisted. “A woman is what her own love makes her, or the love of the man she loves. Do you know what yours w'ould have made any woman whom you had taken into your life? It would have made her practical, far-seeing. She would have supplied just that leaven of common sense, of human outlook, which would have kept your feet on the ground. You have kept your head turned to the skies just one hour too long. The woman would have pointed across the plain. You could Continued on page 50
Our Cover—Victoria Glacier
OF ALL the glaciers in Canada, probably the best known, as it is the most accessible, is the Victoria Glacier, across the lake from the Chateau Lake Louise. This glacier is the river of ice which rises on the rocky summit of Mount Victoria (11,355 ft.) and has a depth in places of 250 feet. It avalanches over a precipice 1,500 feet high—the sound of an avalanche taking twenty seconds to reach the Chateau, which is about five miles distant by air line. The summit of Mount Fairview is more than a mile in vertical height above the lake. To see this glacier properly, one must go over it with a Swiss guide, as this may involve climbing and walking over treacherous surfaces with an ice axe and a rope, with a good strong arm at the other end, in case one drops over a crevasse. Flere are glacial tables with great boulders supported on pillars of ice, surface lakelets, moulins, and deep chasms showing the wonderful greens and blues of an ice cliff.
The Great Samara
Continued from page 31+
have had this, Gabriel Samara, and the wine, and the sunshine, and the flowers.” He shook his head a little sadly.
“You may be right,” he confessed, “but if you are, salvation would still have been impossible for me.”
“I am too much of a woman to refuse the compliment,” she murmured.
At the door he turned back. He pointed to the safe with its marvelous array of bars and cross bars.
“I have never asked you for an assurance before,” he said, “but I ask you now—will you hold that secret for me for forty-eight hours?”
“I promise,” she answered readily. Catherine, on her homeward way that night, paused at the corner of the Square, astounded. Streets and pavement alike were closely packed with a surging crowd, many of them, as she saw at once, students from the universities, but the great majority of the working class. They waited very patiently, almost in silence, always gazing at the upper windows of her aunt’s house. Even while she lingered there for a moment, the windows leading out to the balcony were opened and Nicholas, not for the first time, she gathered, made his appearance. With a little catch of the breath she noticed that he was wearing the old uniform of the Imperial Army. The people gathered realized it, too, and there was a low, hoarse murmur of restrained applause. Nicholas stood at the salute. The applause swelled and grew, but only one or two amongst the crowd were venturesome enough to dare the spoken word.
“Long live Nicholas Imanoff, Czar of Russia!” some one cried shrilly, from the centre of the throng.
Continued on page 52
Continued from page 50 The applause increased still further to a roar. Catherine turned to one of the great policemen who was standing, placid by her side.
“Is this allowed?” she enquired.
“All this is permitted, lady,” was the respectful reply. “Save the Anarchists, every one in the city has the right of free speech. An edict confirming this has just been issued from the Home Office, signed by Samara himself.”
“Do you think I could get to my home?’ she asked.
“Where is it that you wish to go?”
“To the house where Nicholas Imanoff is standing upon the balcony.”
“You are a member of the household?” “I am his cousin, Catherine Zygoff of Urulsk.”
“In that case,gracious lady,’’the policeman assured her, “a way shall be made.” He held his baton above his head and shouted in strident Russian at the top of his voice:
“Way for the Princess Catherine Zygoff of Urulsk, who seeks to return to the house of the Grand Duchess. Give way for the gracious Princess! Give way, you loiterers.”
THERE were still people in the square when, at a few minutes after midnight, Catherine left the house by the back entrance and turned towards Government House. She had changed her gown for a plain walking costume of dark material, and she wore a small hat with a thick veil. There was something hard and comforting in her pocket and the thrill of adventure in her pulses. The back streets through which she passed were almost deserted, but in the broader thoroughfares the lights were still _ flaming and people were promenading in such numbers that the tread of their feet sounded like the march of a distant army.
Samara’s boast, however, that the streets of Moscow were now as safe as the streets of New York and London was justified in her person that night. Except for a few good-humored greetings, she passed her way unnoticed until she reached the side entrance to Government House. She entered by the postern door, closed it behind her noiselessly, and stood for a moment peering into the shadows of the courtyard. There was no one stirring, no sound of following footsteps from the street outside. Yet, for the first time, Catherine was unaccountably nervous. She moved forward reluctantly. She paused at every other step to listen.
There were two tall elm trees on her left through which the wind seemed to pass with a sort of shuddering sigh, sending pattering down upon her drops of rain from the recent storm. The house itself presented a great white blank, the blinds drawn and the shutters tightly fastened. She approached nearer and nearer to it, climbed the steps and stopped once more to listen. The silence was still unbroken, save for the dull reverberation of those ceaseless footsteps in the distance, the sharp honk of a motor horn on the boulevard, an occasional murmur of voices. She entered the house, shut the door behind her, groped her way for a few steps into the gulf of darkness, and found the switch. The great hall was flooded at once with light—an instantaneous, though unaccountable, relief to her.
She passed on and opened the door of the ante-room, itself furnished as a library at the further end of which lay the entrance to the room she sought. One light only was burning here from the ceiling, so inadequate an illumination of the lofty chamber that she could scarcely see across it. By degrees, as her eyes became accustomed to the gloom, she could dimly discern the great table round which the counsellors had been used to sit, the plain wood panels reaching to the ceiling, with here and there fragments of the ancient tapestry, and, most reassuring sight of all, at the end of the room, seated on guard before the closed door of his master’s private apartment, Ivan. She recognized him with a throb of relief and moved at once towards him.
“Ivan!” she called.
He took no notice. He was bending a little forward, motionless, and apparently asleep.
“Ivan!” she called again. 1 Still he did not reply. She stretched out her hand and gripped him by the shoulders. Her fingers fell upon something hard, and as she leaned over him she saw the horror in his distorted face. Her lips parted. It was the effort of her life to
keep back the shriek which rose to her lips. In Ivan’s back was a dagger. There were some faint drops of blood upon his coat. His face was the face of a dead man and from underneath the chink of the door in front of her, she could distinguish a pale shaft of light.
THE first shivering moments of panic were past and Catherine was comparatively calm, almost collected. In her right hand she held the small revolver which Samara had given her on the steamer; with her left she turned the handle of the door and entered the room. She entered so softly that the man busied with the safe, his back turned towards her, proceeded with his task undisturbed. She drew a little nearer. Then surprise forced from her the exclamation which terror had failed to wring from her lips.
“Andrew!” she cried. “Andrew Kroupki.”
He turned round quite slowly; stiffly, a though it were against his will. The change in him was so startling ïhat she almost wondered that she had recognized him. His face had grown lanker and thinner than ever, his mouth seemed to have taken to itself the character of a wolf’s, his sunken eyes seemed at once to have lost expression and yet had gained in brilliancy. With a little thrill of horror she saw the scar upon his cheek. He drew himself gradually upright.
“Catherine Borans,” he muttered. “What do you want?”
“When did you come back from England?” she asked.
“I did not go to England,” he answered. “Samara thought that I was there. He was wrong. I went to Odensk.”
“Odensk!” she repeated incredulously. “Yes. You haven’t heard, then? But how should you? I swore them to secrecy.
I have betrayed Samara. I am selling his secrets to your friends, the royalists— selling them day by day. They tell me you have some foolish scruples. So they sent me here for the great one. Scruples! I have none, but I thank the Father of Russia that you came to-night.”
He struck himself on the side of the head. He had the appearance of a madman.
“Because my mind is going,” he groaned. “My memory is failing. I remembered the hiding place of the key. I remembered the adjustment of the bars— four panels to the left, three to the right, two back—I remembered it all as well as ever—the combination for Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. I know them by heart. To-day is Friday, and I have forgotten. Here I stand, with those proclamations only a few inches off, the secret orders I have promised there within my grasp—and I have forgotten. It is well you came. Tell it me quickly. The pass word for Friday? My head is hot with the emptiness of it. Quick!”
“To whom are those secret orders going when you have them?” she asked.
“To your friends, the enemies of Samara . . .Quick!”
She made no movement.
“What has Gabriel Samara done to you?” she demanded, “that you should betray him like this?”
“Robbed me!” he shouted fiercely. “Robbed me cf you!”
“You poor fool,” she scoffed. “Do you know who I am?”
“Catherine Borans,”’ he answered. “The Chief brought you from New York. But they tell me that you are a Russia!)— a monarchist. Well, I am a monarchist, too. Damn Samara.”
“They might have told you the truth, she said. “It really doesn’t matter. I am the Princess Catherine Zygoff of Urulsk, betrothed, if I carry out my contract, to Nicholas of Russia, whom you say you serve.”
HE GLARED at her, sp'eechless for several moments.
“Now I know that I am mad,” he muttered at last. “A Princess of the Royal House. You were in the Weltmore Typewriting Agency.”
“Quite true,” she admitted. “So was Nicholas selling bonds on commission. Kirdorff was secretary to a foreigner’s club. My aunt, the Grand Duchess, designed artificial flowers. It is none the less true that we are what we are.”
He sank into Samara’s chair. For a few moments he sèemed to have forgotten his mission.
“Did Samara know?” he gasped. Continued on page 55
Continued from page 52 “He knew at Monte Carlo,” she answered. “General von Hartsen told him.” He sat at the table perfectly limp. Something in his attitude reminded her with a little thrill of renewed horror of the man outside.
“Now that you know who I am,” she continued quietly, “you know that I have a right to speak on the matter of those papers. You and I are the only two whom Samara has trusted. Royalist though I am, I have no mind to betray him. Neither shall you. Close up the safe, Andrew Kroupki. Go home and ask your God to pardon you for the horrible thing that you have done to-night, and the terrible purpose that was in your mind.” He stiffened slightly in his place. Something from which she shrank came into his expression.
“I have finished with Samara,” he announced. “He is only a woman. He has not the courage to fight for the people. He is a coward.”
“Samara is a great man and you are a liar,” she answered.
The fury was back in his face.
“It is always true what I feared,” he went on. “You love him. You cannot deny it. In your heart—even though Nicholas takes you to his throne—you are Samara’s wçman!”
“You are becoming a little absurd,” she said quietly, struggling against what seemed to be a shortness of breath. “Do as I tell you. Leave this room and go home.”
He rose from his chair, and began moving slowly round the table which separated them.
“No,” he decided, “I shall not do that. I shall fulfill the purpose for which I came. Tell me the pass-word for Friday, Catherine Bor ans.”
“I shall never tell it to,' you,” she retorted.
He was clear of the table now, within a dozen yards of her.
“You shall tell me the pass-word,” he insisted, his voice rising, ‘‘and you shall do other things that I bid you. I have lost my soul since I bore the shame of a woman’s blow. There is a little left in life and I will take it. First tell me the password.”
Her hand came from the folds of her dress. The feeble light shone on the bright metal of the revolver she held out.
_ “I shall tell you nothing,” she warned him. “And I will not have you a step nearer.”
“Those who are sold to the devil,” he cried, “have no fear of Hell!”
She would have aimed at his mouth but a chance word of advice of Samara’s, never to aim too high, came into her mind. She dropped her arm a few inches and fired. Within the four walls of the room the report seemed to her tremendous —almost deafening. He came on another couple of paces, undeterred. Her finger was on the trigger again, when he suddenly faltered and spun round. He clutched at the air, grasping as though for something to seize hold and fell, a crumpled heap upon the floor.
CATHERINE stood for a moment, looking at him. She watched the slight color drain from his cheeks, saw the little hole just underneath his shoulder from which a dark spot of blood was oozing. She felt no pity for him, only a great and wonderful relief. If by any chance, she had missed! The thought was paralyzing in its horror. She retraced her steps for a minute to the door, and stood listening. The domestic part of the establishment was some distance away and no one apparently had been disturbed by the report of her revolver. Ivan was still there, terrible in his limp inertness. Again she retraced her steps, made her way to the front of the safe, laid her revolver down upon the table and commenced the task of securing the intricate fastenings.
Once she paused and listened. She fancied that there had been some movement in the room. There was nothing to be heard, however, except the muffled and distant sounds from the street. The safe itself was a miracle of ingenuity, the work of one of Russia’s foremost engineers, and familiar though she was with its mechanism, it still absorbed her whole attention. Her task was approaching completion. There was only one more bar to coax into its place. Then the horror came again. She felt her heart almost cease to beat. There was a hot breath upon her cheek. She turned round fearfully, and
this time she shrieked as one who looks into hell. It was Andrew’s face, white and drawn with pain and passion—Andrew who had dragged himself to his feet and found strength of his madness.
“Nothing but a flesh wound,” he muttered. “I’ll have the pass-word from you, and then—the pass-word first. Tell it to me.”
She struck at him with all her force, and for a moment it seemed as though her blow had gone home, for he reeled upon his feet and his new-found strength appeared to have left him. With a fierce effort, however, he recovered himself. His fingers were upon her throat. His knees pinned her to the safe-door.
“The pass-word! The pass-word—first!” She put forth all the strength of her youth and supple limbs, and suddenly realized that it was hopeless. His fingers were like burning pincers, his arm like a band of iron. Already the room seemed to be going round, the light must have been extinguished. Then there _ was another sound—a roar at first, a whisper, a roar again. Where had she heard it before, she wondered, with the last efforts of her ebbing consciousness? The steamer! Samara with the would-be assassin in his grasp. The body hurtling through the air. Then she opened her eyes and tried to smile. ,
She was filled with an ineffable sense of relief. The arms which were holding her so firmly and yet so tenderly were Samara’s.
THERE followed days during which Moscow scarcely knew itself; days of excitement and processions, rumors and counter-rumors, meetings in every public hall, at every street corner, telegrams and wireless messages in the plate-glass windows and in nearly every one of the great shops. Curiously enough, all the time business went on almost as usual. The restaurants and cafes were packed with surging crowds, who thronged to the boulevards at night singing patriotic songs. Sometimes the crowds were thickest outside Government House, sometimes outside Alexandrina’s modest abode. Everywhere people were asking themselves what it all meant. Was it a military rising of the royalists?
If so, why was Nicholas Imanoff in civilian clothes, to be seen day by day on the balcony of his aunt’s house, alighting at the aerodrome on hurried visits from Odensk, driving in an automobile through the streets? Then Samara addressed two great meetings, one at the Skating Rink and another at the Opera House, and on the following morning the city awoke to find a proclamation signed by him on every wall. At last they began to understand. It was theirs to make the choice; the restoration of the monarchy under Nicholas Imanoff, or the continuation of the Republic under Samara and his Council.
The people should decide, Samara promised with persistent passion. No portion of the army should be used even to defend the city against any possible military coup. No blow should be struck, no blood be shed. Samara’s invocation to the Russian people was:
“CHOOSE WHO SHALL GOVERN YOU!”
As the days passed on, Catherine became conscious of a sense of growing excitement in her aunt’s disturbed household. Kirdorff, Orenburg and most of the younger men of the party were now absent. Finally Nicholas himself departed, as it seemed, permanently. The air was filled with rumors. It was the quiet before the storm. In two days the initial electioneering results would be proclaimed. Catherine, who for the first time in anybody’s recollection, had been confined to her room with a bad throat, came down late one afternoon, with a red rose in her waist-band, and a great bundle of papers under her arm.
She passed smiling about amongst the little groups of her aunt’s visitors. She wore an unusual band of velvet around her neck, but seemed otherwise very much as usual. Only the immediate members of the household who had not retired on the night when she had been brought home by Samara’s physician in his own car had any idea that she had been suffering from anything but an ordinary indisposition.
“So after all,” she remarked, “this great Samara will keep his word. It seems too amazing to think of a change like this
without a gun being fired, or a blow struck.”
An octogenarian baron, once the owner of vast estates in Southern Russia, and now a pensioner at Monaco, took snuff and grunted.
“You forget, Princess,” he reminded her, “there may be no change at all. Samara may prove to have been too clever for us. If I had been Kirdorff and the others, I would have let Samara talk of peace and then asked him to look down the barrels of a hundred thousand rifles from Odensk.”
“The Baron is right,” a woman from the other end of the room declared eagerly. “The whole of the army at Odensk is almost in a state of mutiny at the idea of demobilisation. Nicholas has made no compact with Samara. He could march into_ Moscow at the head of a quarter of a million of soldiers in two days, and the victory would be won.”
The Grand Duchess smiled. She looked across at Catherine and smiled again. “One never knows,” she murmured.
BUT Nicholas had not the chance of marching into Moscow at the head of even a hundred thousand soldiers. He arrived instead, very sulky and wet, about half-past eleven that night, soon after the last of'the guests had departed. His anger blazed up at the sight of Catherine.
“It is you whom we have to thank for this failure,” he exclaimed, furiously. “You and that lunatic, Andrew Kroupki, who seems to have tumbled off the edge of the earth.”
“What has happened?” his aunt asked. “All day long we have been listening for the rumbling of the train's and the sound of your guns.”
“Guns!” he scoffed-; “Samara’s secret was simple enough. It has paralyzed the entire army. Yesterday the whole of the ammunition within five hundred miles of us was destroyed, and the men’s bayonets seized. There is an army still, it is true, armed with walking sticks.”
“Samara has at least been consistent,” Catherine pointed out. “He fights harder to avoid bloodshed than for his own cause. Do you realize that if he chose to, he could bring the First Army into the city, fully equipped and armed?”
Nicholas sprawled in an easy-chair and drank brandy.
“How could he?” he asked cynically. “After his declaration of pacifism? We could show fight—not he.”
“My opinion of you and your counsellors is that you are a brainless dot,” she retorted. “You have lost a magnificent opportunity of impressing Moscow and the whole world.”
“What do you mean?” he demanded. “Simply, this. You say that practically the whole of the Second Army are on your side.”
“Except for a percentage of the officers, they are.”
“You have your hundred trains waiting, and your commissariat,” she continued. “Why don’t you bring your soldiers up unarmed? You can issue a proclamation and say that, agreeing with Samara in his great desire that not a single life should be lost, you are content to show by peaceful illustration the will of the Army.” Nicholas looked across at her for a moment blankly, and afterwards in almost fervent admiration. Then he rose to his feet.
“I’m going to the telephone,” he declared. “You are a genius, Catherine.” Catherine herself waited until the small hours of the morning. Then she stole downstairs to the room on the ground floor where the telephone was, and asked for that secret number which only she and a few others knew. Almost immediately Samara answered her.
“You should be in bed,” she told him severely.
“One does not sleep, these days,” he answered. “You are better?”
“Absolutely well,” she assured him. “What about Andrew?” she added, after a moment’s hesitation.
“He died in hospital this morning,” was the cool reply. “I only wish that he had died in New York twelve months ago.”
“I have news for you,” Catherine confided.
“The Second Army are going to march on Moscow just the same, but as pacifists. They are coming to protest against being demobilised and to shout themselves hoarse for Nicholas. My idea entirely.” Continued on page 57
Continued from page 55 “A very excellent one,” Samara admitted after a moment’s pause, “but I’ll countermand it.”
ON THE day of the election, however, soldiers to the number of ten thousand from the Second Army alone were encamped in the streets and squares. To add to the bewilderment of the people, from northwards came a steady stream of soldiers from the First Army also unarmed. The streets were hung with a proclamation:
“A PORTION OF THE SECOND ARMY WILL ARRIVE IN MOSCOW TO-DAY TO PROTEST AGAINST DEMOBILISATION. ANXIOUS IN EVERY WAY TO SHOW MY ACCORD WITH THE DESIRE OF YOUR PRESIDENT TO AVOID BLOODSHED THE TROOPS AT MY ADViCE WILL COME UNARMED.
Samara showed his first anger when a copy of this proclamation was brought to him. He tore it promptly in two and flung the pieces across the table.
“It is untrue,” he told the little conclave of ministers who were with him in almost hourly consultation. “If a woman had not been faithful Nicholas would have made a shambles of the city. As it is, under whose orders do these troops march? Where is General Denkers?”
It was the Cabinet Meeting but there were many vacancies down the long table. Argoff leaned forward in his place.
“The General telephoned half-an-hour ago to say that he would call at Government House on his way into the city,” he announced.
“If he is here, admit him,” Samara directed shortly.
Argoff left the Council Chamber and returned a few minutes later ushering in the Commander-in-Chief of the Second Army, General Denkers. The latter saluted gravely and stood with his hands resting lightly on the back of the chair to which Samara pointed.
“By whose orders, General, have you brought these troops to Moscow?” Samara demanded.
“I have to report, sir,” was the momentous reply, “that in common with a large majority of the officers under my command, I, two nights, ago, took the oath of allegiance to Nicholas Imanoff, future Czar of Russia.”
“Are you not anticipating a little, General?” Samara enquired imperturbably. “It is true that I have issued a proclamation that the constitution of this country shall be according to the desire of the people. The people as yet have not spoken.”
“Sir,” the general answered, “the Army has spoken.”
Samara smiled with faint sarcasm. “And, but for an unexpected shortage of ammunition,” he remarked, “I imagine that the Army would have spoken in a different tongue. It is perhaps fortunate that my agents advised me of your probable attitude.”
The General remained silent. He had been a soldier of Samara’s own choosing, a fine disciplinarian, a strong, conscientious man. It was very certain that if he had declared for the Czar, it was because he had believed in Czardom.
“Supposing I order the First Army to march upon the city?” Samara suggested. “They are perfectly armed, accoutred, and loyal to the Republic.”
“Such a step would be contrary to your own proclamation, sir,” General Denkers rejoined quickly. “You have announced your earnest desire to have the future of this country decided upon without the shedding of blood.”
“I wonder,” Samara asked, looking at him steadily, “whether you would have respected my appeal if the bombs had been there for your aeroplanes, the cartridges for your rifles and machine guns, and the ammunition for your heavy artillery?”
The general made no reply. His silence was in itself a confession.
“You are dismissed, General,” Samara concluded. “In the name of the State I charge you to issue orders to your officers that all property be respected and that any acts of insubordination are immediately punished.”
“We shall use our most strenuous efforts in that direction, sir,” were the general’s final words.
SAMARA looked down the table.
There were eight ministers present; five others, including Trotsk, were already deserters.
“Gentlemen,” he announced, “the Government of this country is in suspense. Until the new Duma is elected and meets, constitutionally we are important. Such measures as must be taken for the good of the country can be left to my associates, Wiertz and Argoff, together with myself. You are dismissed.”
The Minister of Finance, rose to his feet.
“Sir,” he said, “we are passing through one of the strangest upheavals of history. If may be that we shall none of us meet again in this chamber as officials of the Russian Government. Before we part, let me say on my own account at least, that if we and the rest of the country should yield to the popular desire for a change of constitution there will still be not one of us who will not think of you, Mr. President, with the deepest gratitude and respect.
“You have been a great ruler of this country in troublous times, and a patriot in this hour of adversity, as these days of bloodnessness prove. I claim the privilege of shaking hands with you, sir, even though I venture to tell you that if the people’s call for a monarchy is, as seems at present, unanimous, I shall tender my services to Nicholas Imanoff.”
There was a chorus of assent. Samara shook hands with every one. They filed out a little reluctantly. At the very last moment one of the official secretaries rushed in with a telephonic dispatch. Samara read it through.
“Gentlemen,” he announced, raising his voice a little so that every one might hear, “the results of the election in twenty three districts is herewith proclaimed. Twenty-one have voted for the representative pledged to the restoration of the Monarchy.”
A murmur of amazement, almost of consternation, was clearly audible. Nothing so sweeping as this had been expected. Argoff and Weiitz would have lingered with their chief, but Samara waved them away.
“It is useless,” he said, “to discuss affairs of state. You will find me here if I am wanted.”
He retired into his inner chamber—the faithful Ivan no longer there to guard the door—telephoned to the servants outside denying himself to all callers, and spent several hours looking through his private papers. Once a privileged servant came silently in with the samovar upon a silver tray. He waved him away.
“A bottle of brandy,” he ordered.
HE HELPED himself liberally, refilled his glass and sent over to Government Buildings for one or two minor officials with whom he completed some unfinished business. Later on, an official from the Home Office presented himself with another list of election results. The young man handed him the sheet almost apologetically and Samara read it with genuine astonishment. The returns were now in for over half the seats of the Duma, and out of a hundred and thirty districts, a hundred and seven had voted for the monarchist representative.
“What does it mean, Paul Metzger?’.’ Samara asked curiously. “Where did it come from, all this fever for a monarch? Why was there no evidence of it before?” “There isn’t a man in Russia who isn’t asking himself the same question, sir,” the young official declared. “In the cafes, on the streets, and in the clubs, there is nothing but sheer amazement. All that the most clear-sighted can say is that it is the swing of the pendulum. The army started it, of course, but why the country districts should all be on fire to see the monarchy back again is inexplicable.”
“I wonder whether Bromley Pride is still in Moscow?” Samara ruminated.
“He is one of about a hundred waiting in the ante-room, sir,” Metzger replied.
“I will see him,” Samara announced. “Send the others away.”
Pride came lumbering in as breezy and cheerful as ever. He was too much a man of the world to pull a long face and offer sympathy.
“You’ve earned immortality, Mr. President,” he said, as he shook hands. “I’m just from Berlin. I was at the start of things there. I’ve seen a half-a-dozen South American republics come and go, although perhaps they don’t count any.
I’m supposed to be an authority upon revolutions and changes of constitution in a country, but I want to tell you this is the most astonishing business I ever knew. No one could conceive of such a thing.
“There are a hundred thousand unarmed soldiers in the city hobnobbing with a hundred thousand civilians, there are gala dinners at all the swagger restaurants, you can’t get within a dozen yards of a table at any of the ordinary cafes, and I haven’t heard an angry word or seen a blow struck. I was out early this morning. There the crowds were, as patient as you please, waiting for the election returns.
“I met lots of people I knew slightly, and I asked them all the same question: Which is it going to be? I got the same answer right away from every one of them: 'The elections are to decide.’ they said. And I tell you this, Samara,” the journalist, concluded impressively, “if the country had voted the other way they’d have taken it all right. Talk about a bloodless revolution! I never believed in such a thing befere. I didn’t think human nature could stand the strain.”
SAMARA pushed over the bottle of brandy and lit a cigarette.
“Pride,” he said, “you are one of the few men in the world whose judgment I would believe in as soon as my own. You are there amongst the people, and you see t he truth. What does it all mean? I have governed these people for fifteen years. No country in the history of the world had prospered as Russia has done under my rule. Yet along comes this young scion of the Imanoffs, whom I found selling papers and bonds in New York, shows himself to the people, makes use of a little propaganda in the army and behold he seems suddenly to have become a god. You have seen the voting?” .
“When you have learned not to care, Famara,” he said, “you’ll understand it better. This is at. the root of the whole thing. The commonest evil quality in all human nature is ingratitude. It isn’t a conscious evil quality. It’s the philosophical evolution of the profound egotism of human nature. The whole country’s prosperous and happy and cheerful. The people don’t stop to realize that it’s your administration which has brought that about. They honestly believe that they have done it all themselves. You’ve had the privilege of being at the head of the Government. They don’t grudge it to you. They have no ill-will towards you. They’re simply dazzled by the prospect of a more picturesque form of Government.
“It never enters into their heads for a moment that the present prosperity might not continue. They have accepted it as a matter of course. They think it will continue as a matter of course. That’s as near as I or any one else can get at an explanation of what is going on to-day. It has nothing to do with you. You made just one mistake and only one.”
“Demobilisation,” Samara murmured. Pride signified his assent.
“You will remember I warned you in New York,” he continued. “A soldier doesn’t look far enough ahead. Your men were well-fed, well looked after, well pensioned. They weren’t philosophers. They didn’t appreciate the fact that theirs, from your point of view, was an unnatural existence. You tried to pitchfork them out into civil life without preparing them sufficiently for the change. Then arrived that little nest of conspirators you brought back from New York, and the whole thing was easy. Y ou went too fast, Samara. You brought it off with the first million, but you ought to have waited for a year or so afterwards.”
Samara nodded, and changed the subject almost abruptly.
“What’s the last move in the city?” he asked.
Pride shrugged his shoulders.
“This is such a kid glove sort of affair,” he observed, “that I should have thought Nicholas Imanoff would have been round here to consult you. There’s some talk about a ceremony to-morrow of some description. I heard there were a hundred men working upon the Cathedral bells.” Metzger re-entered with the air of one who brings tidings.
“Sir,” he announced, “the archbishop is here and begs to be received.”
“You can show his lordship in at once,” Samara directed. “Don’t go away, Fride. It’s as well there should be some historian of the period present. Sit at the other end there, and listen if you wish to.”
THE archbishop, followed by a chaplain, was shown in with some formality. He was a large bulky man, with a black beard, commanding physique, splendid forehead and piercing eyes. Even in his strangely-fashioned vestments he was a person of dignity.
“Mr. President,” he said, as Samara rose to receive him, “you will permit me to explain the reason of my visit.”
“If your lordship will be seated,” Samara begged.
The prelate leaned his elbow upon the table and played for a moment with one of his rings.
“You are doubtless in touch, sir,” he proceeded, “with the trend of events. I have been asked to-morrow morning to open the Cathedral and to administer the sacrament to Nicholas Imanoff and the Princess Catherine of Urulsk, his intended bride.”
Samara made no movement. He sat quite still, looking beyond the walls of his room.
“You and I, sir,” the archbishop went on, after a moment’s pause, “have had little to do with one another during the years of your office—much sometimes to my regret. From the material point of view Russia will never be able to forget what it owes to you. You have brought the country out of a state of pitiful misery and filled her veins with new and vigorous health. If it has not seemed good to you, or according to your convictions, to think also of her spiritual welfare, that, alas, in these days, is no uncommon thing. You cannot blame me, however, if as the head of the Church, I welcome frankly a new regime which incorporates at least the outward observances of the Christian faith with its ceremonies of state.”
“I do not blame you, indeed, archbishop,” Samara acknowledged. “From your point of view this must be a wonderful change. The pageantry of monarchy needs the background of ecclesiastical ceremony.”
“Not the outward form only, I trust, ’ the archbishoo ventured earnestly. “The ceremonies of our Church, even that one which will take place to-morrow, are as nothing if they are not symbolic of spiritual things.”
“Your Lordship has done kindly in coming to visit me,” he said. “My work for Russia is over. The new GdVernment will bring you a larger sphere of action and greater responsibility. You have my very best wishes.”
The archbishop rose to his feet.
“You, sir,” he pronounced, “stood shoulder to shoulder with the Church when you struck at the great dragon of atheism, and for that reason I beg you to accept my blessing.”
Samara bent his head. For a moment the sonorous voice of the priest seemed to be attuned to some deep note of music. Then his hand flashed back and followed by his chaplain he was gone. Samara looked after him like a man in a dream.
PRESENTLY Pride came up to offer his adieux.
“What are your plans?” he asked.
“I am going abroad at once,” Samara confided. “I am going to live in the most beautiful country I know, grow olives, and grapes, farm a little, read a little, and write a little. After all, I have earned a rest.”
“What part of the world do you choose?” Pride enquired.
Samara shook his head.
“When my wine press makes its first revolution,” he replied, “and I gather my first crop of olives, you shall know.”
X TO PERSON had a finer view than IN Samara himself of the great pageant which transformed Moscow on the following day into a city of amazing beauty and splendor. He stood upon the roof of Government House, leaning against the solid parapet, looking down upon the great thoroughfare below, at the streets beyond, at the great dome of the Cathedral above which the bells, silent for many years, were making clamorous music. Every house was decked with flags, every person in the crowded streets seemed to be carrying flowers or waving banners. With a grim smile he watched Trotsk, with an escort of mounted police, pass up towards the cathedral, pushing the people back on either side.
Continued on page 61
Continued from page 58
They stood eight or nine deep upon the pavement, a solid phalanx, soldiers and civilians mixed together, good-humored, cheered at everything, festive with the joy of a great holiday. Samara gazed down at them, a little wistfully. After all, it was his city, it was his brain which had made her what she was. Those two universities, the finest in the world, had been his conception. The hospitals, whitefronted, flower be-garlanded and hung with hundreds of flags, were of his building.
It was he who had cleared out the dreaded foreign quarter, which the Soviet Government had allowed to become a very sewer of humanity, and erected the great warehouses there, every one of which was filled now to the topmost story. It was he, who, with a mayor of his own choosing, had studied deeply the question of civic administration, who was responsible for the wonderful transport, the perfect sanitary system, the broadening of the streets, the splendid schools. All these things had come under his rule, almost at his instigation. Pride was right. It was unconscious ingratitude. The people had these things—they belonged to them—all thought as to their source had passed. Not once for him had those Cathedral bells rung out their almost barbaric note of welcome. Not once had any crowd, such as he saw now, filled the streets, and waited for his coming.
Blazoned upon a hundred huge banners reared in prominent places, he could read from where he stood the amazing electoral results. Nobody wanted anything more to do with the Government which had brought prosperity to their doors, which had re-established them in twelve short years amongst the nations of the world. Nobody even thought of these things. There must lie somewhere engrained in the minds of men, he reflected, a sort of craving for the pageantry of life, to see life itself decked out with the trappings of ceremonial usage, an unconscious survival of the delight of savage ancestors in processions and drum-beatings.
When the time came for the natural revulsion of sentiment people would think of him, without a doubt, historians would praise him, and they might even raise a statue to his memory. And, in the meantime, those hideous figures telling their humiliating story of his defeat, and a crowd beside itself with delight!
Trotsk and his men, who had ridden back, reappeared. In the distance, coming nearer, was a slowly breaking wave of sound, of rapturous welcome. Samara felt a sudden quietness steal over him.
He had come to this place that he might fully realize, and ever afterwards forget, this great blow of fate; that he might never look upon it as in any way accidental or dubious in its import. He was discarded by the will of the people. The hurt and grievousness of his humiliation seemed to him just then as nothing compared to the sharp pain at his heart when, from the sudden baring of heads, he knew that the moment had arrived. He gazed down, tense and motionless. The open automobile came into sight. Inside was a solitary figure—Nicholas Imanoff, in his prohibited uniform of white and silver, his hand to the salute, looking to the right and to the left—Nicholas alone!
“T AM afraid,” a familiar voice said behind him, “that I have rather spoilt the procession.”
Samara turned slowly round. He gripped the iron bar above his head until he almost fancied that it bent in his grasp. He stared incredulously at this impossible vision.
“Such a beautiful gown it was they had for me to wear!” Catherine went on— “white, all covered with pearls, and a real Russian head-dress. It would have suited me wonderfully.”
“What are you doing here, like this?” he asked, and for once in his life his voice was broken and choked.
She laughed up at him. She was wearing the plain dark clothes and small hat with the rather faded flower, in which he had first seen her. On the ground by her feet was a square black box.
“I am Miss Catherine Borans, from the Weltmore Typewriting Agency,” she announced. “You observe that I have not forgotten even the typewriter. Like a perfect secretary,” she went on, “I have made all the arrangements. I have an automobile waiting at the side entrance. The streets at the back .are absolutely empty. Your bag is packed and in the car with mine. We have just twenty minutes to catch the train.”
“Where to?” he asked, a little dazed.
“The perfect secretary,” she whispered, with a wonderful smile, “knows exactly where to go. A little way beyond Monaco, a little way into the hills, a few yards down a rose-entwined avenue of olives . . . We have plenty of time, but I think we ought to go.”
Nicholas Imanoff was mounting the steps of the cathedral. The bells, which had ceased for a moment or two, suddenly pealed out in their wildest clamor.
“For us,” she murmured, her arms stealing out toward him. “Wasn’t it wonderful for that to happen, just as you are going to kiss rqe?”