Fiction

RENDEZVOUS IN RIGA

LESLIE ROBERTS May 1 1950
Fiction

RENDEZVOUS IN RIGA

LESLIE ROBERTS May 1 1950

RENDEZVOUS IN RIGA

Fiction

Love laughs at Soviet locksmiths in this exciting story of a man’s dangerous mission to bring his Russian wife from behind the Iron Curtain. Now, after a glimpse of Anna, Bill, fearful of secret police, seeks a

LESLIE ROBERTS

Part Two

APPREHENSIVE for a moment at Anna’s sudden departure, I reassured myself that she had left only for her duties as the coach’s porteress, that we had been lucky Makrinski had not come in while she had been with me in the compartment.

Daylight brought the creeping train across the last stretch of the dismal Baltic plain. From the upper berth Makrinski boomed “Breakfast!” and came rolling overside. He pressed the buzzer and slid the door open. When Anna appeared, he gave no sign of recognition and she none to either of us. \v *.en I said “Good morning,” she just dipped her head and smiled, the way a well-brought-up

sleeping-car porter should. Makrinski said “Tea,” and when she returned with samovar and glasses, he was busy smearing hunks of bread with his everlasting caviar. When she had gone, I checked the door and said: “What happens next. What goes on when we get to Libau?”

The Lett said: “Find the ship.” As we passed

the next village he was looking out the window and said: “Libau in one hour.” We ate bread

and caviar and drank the tea. We cleaned up and stowed our gear. Nothing was said to indicate that Makrinski even knew about the encounter with Anna. She hadn’t been much help that way in our brief meeting either, because when I started to ask where I could find her and when we would meet again, that had been when she touched my lips for silence.

I lit a cigarette, started pacing up and down the three-pace alley in the compartment, opened the door, went out into the corridor, came back, shut the door, tamped out the cigarette, sat down and promptly lighted another. Makrinski looked me over from his corner and burst out laughing. He leaned forward and clapped my knees. Then he jerked a thumb toward the corridor and said “Later. At the ship. Don’t worry . . . yet.” “You mean the porteress?” I asked in a whisper. He grinned and nodded. Nothing more was said until we were inching through the ruins of Libau. Then he said: “First a car. One comes for us,

I believe. Then to the harbor.”

The water front was almost the way the Russian and Nazi armies had left it. Masts and hulls protruded through

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Rendezvous in Riga

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the harbor. Warehouse roofs and walls were still holed and pocked. Only makeshift repairs had been made. A string of freight cars had been shunted onto the dock. The goods were still snugged in the Sestroresk’s hold and the hatch covers still on. A soldier at the gangway looked over Makrinski’s papers and mine and another took us to the captain’s quarters where my companion was greeted with shouts of welcome and replied in kind.

The skipper had a message, he said, that another inspector, very important, would join us. Makrinski gave no sign of surprise. “We wait,” he said, and reached for the captain’s carafe. But the Sestroresk’s Old Man was visibly bothered by the delay and after he had gone on deck, Makrinski said: “Is

worried about sailing. Will sail.” He crossed to the door, glanced to starboard and port, and along the dock, then came back to where I was sitting at a small table and took the chair across from me.

“Listen quickly, while we are alone,” he said. “There may be only a minute. The other inspector is purposely being late,” he said. “He is manufacturing some delay. We shall also insist as each case comes on the dock that it must be opened, inspected, approved, closed and put on the train before the next is brought up. This will be very slow and we may also make many arguments. You see why?”

I said no, but go on. I was trying to look casual. It was an effort.

“Because we must be able to work in the night,” Makrinski continued. “We shall be very willing to do so to assist the captain to sail in the morning. You understand? You will help?”

I was beginning to get it, but not all of it, and I said sure I would help, but please would he tell me the plan. What was going on?

“In the night,” he said, “while we are approving the last cases, we shall be able to make a change of people. Perhaps one will be removed. Of this I am not sure. But one will arrive.”

He said this leaning back in his chair, at ease, with the casual air of a man talking to while away time.

“You mean . . .” I began.

He flagged me with a hand.

“I mean,” he said softly.

There was a bustle around the gangway and a moment later the captain came in, accompanied by a slender man in a dark suit. As they came closer I stood up and took a second look. It was Nikki Boronin! Anna’s brother.

My heart flopped. My first thought was that this ripped everything into shreds again. A million to one he had heard about Anna and had come to tear his sister away from her decadent western entanglements. But Makrinski seemed unconcerned. Nikki bowed and we shook hands, a length to which he had not been willing to go in Moscow. Without another word he said: “Shall we begin?”

No talk was exchanged as we leaned over the forward rail while the captain barked guttural orders to the hands down in the well-deck. After the hatch covers were off, we went ashore as the ship’s crane was winched into the hold and came up with the first case in a sling. It was prised open in the presence of the three of us and Nikki and Makrinski went over the contents with microscopic care before okaying them. Then the case was closed with wire and hot wax, to which Nikki affixed the seal of the Ministry. We all walked along beside the case while

it was wheeled into a freight car and a guard mounted over it.

That was the procedure all day, varied with lengthy technical discussions. As each freight car was loaded. Nikki personally sealed the doors with the Ministry tag and left an armed guard outside it. For all my jitters, I couldn’t suppress the chuckling thought that it always takes five Russians to watch what the sixth Ftussian does. By nightfall we had eight soldiers standing guard over as many carloads. When we knocked off to eat, only 20 cases remained to be passed and loaded.

OUTWARDLY, dinner with the skipper was a light and sociable business, thanks chiefly to the irrepressible Makrinski. We drank toasts to Stalin and Canada and Peace, and one to the voyage. The captain was feeling fine, now that he knew he wouldn’t be held back from sailing at first light. It was almost nine o’clock when we went back on the dock. The ship’s searchlight was being played on the area where we had been inspecting machinery all day. The effect was to black out everything else ashore. Aboard the ship a smaller searchlight was focused on the hold. Elsewhere the darkness was punctured only by an occasional dim bulb.

By midnight only four cases remained aboard. As we waited for the first to come ashore, Nikki whispered: “We must go more slowly. Take more time.” It was his first indication that we were in cahoots. When the next case was opened, both inspectors exclaimed angrily as they examined the big precision tool. Nikki brought out the manifests and a copy of the original order, insisting that the machine was not up to specifications. Put it aside, he ordered the stevedores; the Ministry would not accept faulty Canadian junk. I said “Swedish junk, not Canadian,” and we insulted each other for the better part of an hour, before Nikki finally refused the thing.

Around four o’clock the last case was opened, checked and passed. The unaccepted one still stood off to one side. I was still beating my brains for the answer, going along for the ride. While we waited around, Nikki went into the big shed, whistling a tune, and Makrinski drew me back into the shadows. He pressed a metal object into my hand. I slipped the gun into a pocket and said nothing.

“When Nikki Boronin returns,” he whispered, “a sailor will be with him. You know who that will be. If challenged by the guard there may be trouble. Do not begin to shoot unless I do. If this happens we are all dead. You will shoot the sailor, then yourself. Better so.”

I stood in the shadows, away from the searchlight, and saw Nikki come to the gangplank with a young sailor in dungarees. As they approached the guard I pressed the gun in my pocket hard. They passed the soldier without challenge, crossed over the gangplank and disappeared inside the ship. A moment later they appeared together, on the well deck.

The sailor swung over the rim of the hatch and disappeared from the lighted area, down a ladder into the hold. Nikki signaled and the crane picked the rejected case off the dock and swung it over. Anna was aboard!

Markinski and I joined Nikki at the ship’s end of the gangway and we went together to the captain’s quarters.

“I am sending the Gospodin Makrinski with you to Stqckholm about the faulty machine,” he told the captain. “He has the necessary papers, passport and exit permit.”

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From that moment everything was movement. Nikki signed the swatch of papers on the captain’s desk. He gave crisp orders to Makrinski without batting an eye and the Lett took them at attention and kept saying "Da!” every time Nikki paused. Then Nikki shook hands with the Old Man and with Makrinski and, finally, with me. The grip just about crushed my fingers. I knew what he meant and wished to God we could talk, if only for a moment.

Makrinski and I walked to the gangplank with Nikki and went forward to lean over the rail and watch him disappear into the blackout behind the spotlight on the dock. Up on the bridge we could hear the skipper barking through a megaphone. The gangway was hauled ashore by soldiers. Hawsers were peeled from bollards and the ship began to inch away from the pier. As the Sestroresk picked its way by searchlight through the wreckage in the stream, the first streaks of grey were showing over east, where Leningrad would be. “What about Nikki Boronin?” I asked Makrinski softly.

I “Will he be all right?”

“Who can say?” he answered. “In I my country it is often difficult to say ; who will be all right. But I think ! be will. He is most important, brilliant and necessary, with much influence,

¡ second only to Karaviev himself, and we are not always fools. It depends on what is discovered and who discovers it.”

He watched the wave creaming back from the bow. Then he chuckled and said quietly: “But let us worry about us. We are not in Stockholm yet, tovarisch. You have the gun?”

I said yes, and Makrinski asked if I was sleepy, and I said I doubted if I would sleep before we were in harbor and ashore. “Good,” he said. “Let us go to the high deck where we can be unheard. I must tell you things and it may be our only chance.”

E FOUND a place on the rail, away from davits and housing, where we could not be spied on and could see anybody approaching. Makrinski wasted no time coming to the

“Stand close and listen carefully,” he said. “It will be rough outside and that will be good for us. I have been placed by request in your cabin, telling the captain that you wish it. When we go down, I must find my way to the hold and bring the girl. She will remain through the voyage and at all times one of us must be with her. You can hear me? You understand?”

I said I heard. Keep talking. I understood.

“There is one man aboard of whom to be afraid,” he continued. “Chernov, the political officer, also ship’s doctor. He is shorter than you, heavy, with ugly pale face and hair like black string. A tooth is absent in front. In Libau he was drinking and did not return until late, which made it much easier for Nikki. Watch for him. Chernov will be trying to find out about you and myself, what we are doing and why together. That is his job, to report bad things about everybody. We must be ready to act if he gets in our way.” “I’m ready,” I said. I’d been ready since Moscow.

Makrinski said Anna was hiding among boxes in the hold. Nikki Boronin had told him exactly where. He was to go there and would bring her to the cabin. There was a door through the bulkhead in the hold, leading to a ladder which would bring them to the level of the cabin and another bulkhead door. Once in the passageway only a matter of 20 paces

remained to reach the stateroom. In the cabin he and I must speak only of trivialities, Anna not at all. We must presume that somebody would be trying to listen, perhaps through the wall. “You will be able to talk to her for the rest of your life if we are lucky for the next 30 hours,” he grinned. “When I am bringing the girl to the cabin, I want you to stand in the open door, and to lounge there until I return. If there should be trouble, be prepared to help. If you hear a shot beyond the bulkhead, come there. If nothing happens, wait, ready to cover us as we come down the passage.”

“ Khorosho!” I said. We went below.

I sat in the cabin, for maybe 10 minutes. Then I lolled in the open doorway, like a rubbernecking passenger looking around. The ship was steaming into open water and begirt ning to roll viciously. I saw the door in the forward bulkhead move, as though somebody were inching it ajar to case the passage. Then it opened quickly and the young sailor stepped through and walked quickly down the hallway, swung briskly into the cabin and stepped behind the open door. A moment later Makrinski came through the bulkhead, drew the door shut behind him and sauntered casually along the passage. As he came up he greeted me noisily. “Beginning to be rough water,” he said. “Are you a good sailor?”

“Very poor,” I answered, almost shouting. “As usual I shall be seasick.”

Makrinski came in and turned the key quietly in the lock. Anna and I embraced but exchanged no words. We sat on the bunks, she and { on one, Makrinski on the other, and after a while Anna put her head down and

WHEN the luncheon gong sounded, Makrinski made signs that he would go and eat while I remained below. I locked the door and stretched out on the second bunk, trying to keep awake. Soon the Lett returned, carrying a tray. As he came in he was talking a lot of nonsense about seasickness in a loud voice. I nudged Anna awake and we shared the food.

We chatted in tones loud enough to be heard through the wall or the door, about the weather and my supposed indisposition and as he talked, Makrinski took pencil and paper from a pocket and began to write. His staccato notes read about like this: Chernov drinking in lounge but asking questions . . . Where are you? . . . Can he do anything? . . . Would like to see you and prescribe . . . Says has good seasick pills ... I said you more tired than sick and sleeping after much hard work ... Do not think he believes.

Makrinski went up to dinner late and Anna and I sat together, holding hands and making love with our eyes. Suddenly a thunk on the door snapped us out of reverie and into action.

“Who’s there?” I called. I gave Anna the gun and pointed to the corner that would be in back of the opened door. She slipped her shoes off and stepped across the cabin.

“The Doctor Chernov,” the rough answer came back. “Open, please!” “Will you come back later?” I shouted. “I am resting.”

The voice behind the panel was insistent.

“Open,” it said again. Then a key rattled in the lock on the passageway side. The inside key fell on the floor. The door moved. I’d forgotten to throw the damned bolt! Too late 1 ,ßaw one of Anna’s shoes protruding from under her bunk.

The gorillalike political doctor

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lurched across the step. “The captain is . . .” he began. As he spoke his eyes saw what I had just seen, too late. “A woman’s shoe !” he exclaimed. “So that is your seasickness!” I jumped him, grabbing for his throat. The ship lurched and we went down. The door slammed shut.

Chernov’s strength was like that of a wild bull. Somehow he shook my hands loose from his neck and with his arms held me in a viselike grip around the middle. I thanked God for the thundering of the sea against the ship s side, the creaking and groaning as she rolled down and came back up. This could be life or death for one of us. but I wanted no auditors.

All the pentup loathing of the malevolent cabal responsible for what brought me here, reaching for a grip on the throat of this half-drunken gorilla on the rolling floor of a ship’s cabin, poured through me as I struggled. The ship took a pitching lurch and I braced a foot against a bunk and heaved, as Chernov went over and I came round on top of him. I got a grip on his neck and held it just long enough to snap his head upward and crack it against the floor. He pulled a hand free and I wedged it momentarily against his middle. When he worked it loose, I saw the flash of a knife, just in time to pin the arm to the floor.

I knew I couldn’t hold it there for long. He was too powerful for me.

I went under, over and back under again, always fighting to keep away from the blade. The ship fell away sideways into a deep trough and we slithered down the floor and brought up against a bunk. There was no sound from Anna.

As the ship righted itself I had him held again for a brief moment. We tangled in a curtain hanging over one of the berths and it crashed down with its rod, just as I pinned Chernov’s arm and forced the fingers clutching the knife to release it. As I swept it away beyond his reach, the Russian swung me over again and covered my face with the fallen drape, half choking and wholly blinding me. I tore it away and caught a brief glimpse of Anna. She was pushing hair back off her face and seemed dazed, but she was on her feet, moving toward us. In the same instant I rolled, coming on top of the Russian and reaching for his throat. My back was to Anna again. With a mighty heave Chernov threw me over and as my own head thudded against the floor I heard the crack of a blow and the commissar collapsed against me. Ina brief, flashing glimpse I saw Anna half bending over him, gripping the revolver by the barrel, and knew that she had pounded the butt home against his head. In that same instant I must have gone out like a light.

WHEN I came to, the Russian’s inert body was half off mine and Anna was on the floor beside us, kissing my eyes, my lips, my forehead and saying things I’d been waiting long years to hear again. As the fog cleared out of my mind, Anna began pulling on the doctor’s arms and I shoved against his huge backside until we rolled the unconscious Chernov over on the floor, and I wobbled to my feet and over to the edge of a bunk. We sat there, clutching each other and pieced together the details of the death-lock struggle.

“But my shoe,” she said. “That is what told him I am here.”

“Listen, darling,” I said. “How long do you think it would have taken him to find you, in behind the door?”

We tried to stow the Russian where he couldn’t be seen when the door opened, but there just wasn’t room.

So we straightened him out on the noor alongside a bunk and tossed a blanket loosely over the part of him that might show to anybody in the corridor when we let Makrinski in. After that we sat down, lighted cigarettes and waited for Makrinski to come back.

I have to hand it to the guy. When I inched the door open to let him in and he saw Chernov’s legs and feet sticking out from under the blanket," he didn’t bat an eye. You’d think dropping into staterooms and finding bodies on the floor was routine shipboard procedure. When I had locked the door and faced back into the room, the big Lett was sitting on a bunk, looking at Chernov and grinning. Then he glanced up at me and shrugged his shoulders, arms half extended and hands palmed up, the old nichevo shrug. Just another problem to work out. No use worrying about it! Me, I felt better than at any time since the wheels of a plane from Helsinki touched down at Moscow, so long ago I couldn’t even count back up the days. All the inertia had been driven out by the only purgative that could have done it, violent physical action.

In muted voices we discussed disposal of the commissar. His cabin, topside, was 18 steps up a public companionway and another half dozen paces along an alley running into the lounge. How and when we should drag our burden across this no-man’s-land was the 64-ruble question.

“He was drinking again before dinner,” Makrinski ruminated, “and it is well known in the ship, including to the captain, that he was in this fortunate condition. Even the steward ■ ess was speaking of it. He drinks like this often and always badly. Does this mean something to you, tovarisch?”

I added it up while I lit a cigarette.

“It could mean plenty,” I said. “It could mean we prop him between us and make as if we are lugging him upstairs, plastered.”

“And if we should meet somebody on the way?”

“Then could be we’ve had it, chum,”

I answered, drawing a finger across my own gullet in a gesture that needs no explanation in anybody’s language.

Makrinski grinned. After a moment he said: “That will have to be when

it is nearly morning. For some hours he must remain our guest. I think I will go to his cabin and find something to make him sleep well. The Lett fumbled through the doctor’s pockets until he found a key. Then he opened the door, looked up and down the passage, closed the door behind him and bellowed greetings to a passenger in the hall.

In a few moments he returned, slipping the bolt home on the inside of the door. From his pockets he produced a vial of capsules. He knelt beside the unconscious commissar and when he stood up he dusted his hands against each other, grinned and said: “Let us lift our guest onto a bed. He will not disturb us again.”

The night wore along endlessly. Half a dozen times Makrinski went out to look for signs of suspicious activity, but if anybody was thinking about the absent Chernov, it was that he was abed, drunk, in his cabin. The Lett had locked the doctor’s door and pouched the key.

IT WAS almost five in the morning when Makrinski pulled our door ajar and looked out. He climbed the companionway, went along the corridor past the doctor’s cabin and looked into the lounge. When he came back he said quietly: “Let us take the com-

missar home to bed.”

The first eight stairs took us to a

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landing, where the staircase divided, ship fashion, and curved up to starboard and port. We went up the port side, dragging the limp Russian between us. I prayed nobody would come down either bank, or that, if anybody did, the light was dim enough not to reveal that the doctor was more than merely portably plastered.

Step by step we made it to the landing. We dragged the commissar around the corner and along the alley toward the lounge. Makrinski had timed the watchman earlier and figured we had a clear 10 minutes. He had unlocked the doctor’s door just before we set out. So all we had to do was make those last few stumbling steps, hoist the body over the sill and ease it onto a bunk. We left him there, face to the wall, covers pulled high against the back of his head. Makrinski said: “Go first. It is better alone. I

will make sure he has enough medicine to make him sleep well, then follow.”

The ship’s roll was subsiding as daylight brought us into the lee of the Swedish coast. Noon found the Sestroresk deep into the island-studded channel that is the fabulous highway into the harbor of Stockholm. During the morning Makrinski made two visits to the doctor’s cabin, while Anna and I sat silently below, dreading every sound we heard in the passage beyond the bolted door. When he came down the second time, Makrinski said softly: “Let us go on deck, where we can talk.” We left Anna alone with the revolver and stood outside the cabin until we heard the bolt slide softly home. Then I turned the key in the lock, in case the stewardess should try the door.

On deck, Makrinski said: “I have

visited the captain and told him I have found the doctor lying drunk in the lounge very late and that I have put the man to bed. The master himself has visited the cabin with me and seen his doctor covered with blankets, no face visible, but smelling violently of vodka. The captain says this is the finish and that he will make a charge against Chernov. Matters are improving, tovarisch. Let us make plans for our disembarkation, quickly.”

Makrinski urged that I go ashore alone and wait in a small water-front hotel, to which he would bring Anna. “I’m not leaving without her,” I said, and the Lett gave me the grin he kept for the special moments when he was being strictly from natural.

The ship was delayed in warping to its berth and it was late afternoon before a gangway was drawn over to the shore. Makrinski went up to the lounge first and was gone almost an hour. Then while he sat with Anna I went up and cleared Swedish customs and immigration. By that time it was practically dark.

When I returned to the cabin Anna was sitting on a bunk, wearing the sailor cap at a jaunty angle. Makrinski winked, thumbed toward the door and stood up. Without a word he stepped out and a moment later I heard the bulkhead door at the end of the passage open. We were into the gamut, playing it straight.

Anna stepped out briskly down the alley and disappeared into the opening through which she had come up to the cabin level as we left Libau. The bulkhead closed and I went on up to the deck. In a couple of minutes Makrinski appeared and went across the high level gangway to the dock. “Watch the well deck,” he whispered as he went by. When he reached the shore he engaged the Swedish guard in nonchalant talk, offered him a Russian cigarette, then walked slowly aft toward a lower catw'alk leading ashore from the well.

A moment or two later, Anna climbed up through the open hatch into the wall deck. She picked up a coil of light rope and moved toward the lower gangway as if she had been sailoring all her life. She strolled across to the dock, and moved off across the apron of the wharf toward a big freight shed, like a girl without a worry in all of Sweden.

I picked up my bags and went ashore, showed my papers to the guard and told him I had to go into the shed with the Soviet official to see about a rejected packing case. He said okay. I moved on to join Makrinski and we walked into the shed. By that time Anna had disappeared into its dark interior and I guessed she had made it to the far side, where the sidings and loading roadways were. Makrinski and I spoke to a couple of stevedores about the big packing case. Then we went through the shed and hunted around in the darkness until we found Anna in an alleyway between two rows of freight cars.

We crossed half a dozen tracks and came to the main yard roadway. We moved along it in the shadow of the last string of freight cars and when we came to the end and into the floodlighted open, we must have been 300 yards beyond the Sestroresk’s bow. We walked smartly across the lighted area to the foot of a long stairway leading up into a wide plaza. Taxis were ranked along the curb, right by the stairway exit. We moved quickly into the first cab in the line and as Makrinski slammed the door behind him, I gave the driver the Embassy address.

TWO HOURS later, bathed and fed, Anna trigged out in a young Embassy wife’s frock, the three of us sat cutting up touches with Chip Donaldson, our charge in Stockholm. Not until then did the jigsaw pieces come together. All that had mattered was to make every new piece fit the one you’d just handled.

In Moscow the play had been Sellers to Makrinski to Nikki Boronin. That was the start. The big Lett caught the ball, because Tony Sellers had saved his life, one dirty night on the Volga. Makrinski had gone on from there to talk to Anna’s brother, Nikki, who had made his help conditional on what Anna decided. Anna’s eyes, across the table, told me plainly what she had asked her brother to do. It had been Nikki who rigged the deal, switching Makrinski to the Riga assignment, shifting the examination to Libau, sending Makrinski on with us to run the gauntlet into Sweden. It looked like the Messrs. Nikki Boronin and Makrinski had been putting their necks into a noose together.

On the train to Libau, Nikki had been in another car and it was he who

had worked Anna into the porter’s job, bribing the regular girl to step aside, “in the sweet name of love,” Makrinski chuckled, looking at Anna. “If we hadn’t let you see each other,” he grinned at me, “you might have jumped off the train, a suicide at the wrong moment.”

Anna’s brother had hidden her in a freight car during the long stretch on the docks, switching her into the shed shortly before taking her aboard. In the freight car she had changed into sailor’s dungarees to board the Sestroresk. She had emerged from behind bales in the shed when Nikki whistled his tune.

I cut in, turning to Donaldson.

“Chip,” I said, “I want papers to take Makrinski home.”

The Lett picked up a paper cutter and began tapping the edge of the table with it, softly.

“Niet,” he said slowly. “Not for Makrinski. When the ship sails, I sail,

Anna and I began protesting together, but the big guy shook his head thoughtfully. “In many ways,” he said, “I would like this. Perhaps some day when the world has become a sensible place again, yes. I will ask to come. But now, no. I am a Soviet citizen, maybe not for long, if what has happened should become known, in which case it will not go well for those who have assisted the Citizeness Anna Katerina Boronin to leave. I do not believe this will happen, because not all Russians are policemen in their hearts and I can assure you the Commissar Karaviev is more interested in the rekonstrukzija of our country than in putting one of his best engin— eers, the brother of the citizeness, and his assistant, Makrinski, in Liubyanka Prison. Don’t get excited. I think we shall be all right.”

“But what about Chernov?” I asked. “Won’t he holler for the MVD?”

“For the Gospodin Chernov, pfui!” This was the old Makrinski of Moscow and Riga. “First the captain is my friend and against him. Second, other black marks are known, not merely to myself. Finally, there is always the possibility of an accident during the return voyage, if Chernov is disinclined to be a quiet man.”

Anna began to speak, but Makrinski shook his head. “I must go to report to your brother, Citizeness,” he said. “He will want to know of the success of our mission.”

I walked to the door with him. At the top of the Embassy steps he squeezed my shoulders between his hamlike hands. “Our cabin will seem strangely empty, tovarisch,” he said, and stepped down into the night.

When I returned to the room, tears were on Anna’s cheeks. Anna had just said good-by to her homeland. ★