The Great Samara
E. PHILLIPS OPPENHEIM
UPON a house in Fifth Avenue there had converged, on an April evening, as strange a group of men and women as the world could well have shown: a bond salesman, a dealer in automobiles, a maker of artificial flowers, a young woman employed as a stenographer by the typewriting bureau of a great New York hotel!
Mrs. Saxon J. Bossington knew much—and little—of her guests. She knew the names by which some of them went; she guessed what names they had the right, in fact, to vaunt.
She" knew that Gabriel Samara, the real ruler of present-day Russia, was coming with Miss Catherine Borans, the stenographer from the Weltmore.
But the inner meaning of these things she did not know at all, nor how Catherine had come into touch with Samara, arch-foe of her monarchist friends.
Yet it was absurdly simple. He was staying at the Weltmore. He had needed aid in preparing certain memoranda concerning his negotiations in Washington with the President.
His secretary had been ill; Catherine Borans had been assigned to help him. By chance she had known that a pretended newspaper man was an impostor; she had frustrated his attempt to kill Samara.
MRS. SAXON J. BOSSINGTON dispensed hospitality in a Fifth Avenue palace built by a multimillionaire of world-wide fame and purchased by her obedient spouse at the time of the last oil combine.
She entertained lavishly and wantonly. Society, diplomacy and even artists, were all alike welcome. Her peculiar fancy, however, was acting as hostess to what she was endeavoring to make known in New York as the “Russian Circle.”
“My dear Saxon,” she explained to her husband, “no one knows who these people are. All we do know is that they are aristocrats. There’s the grand duchess, of course, and the general, and Colonel Kirdorff—they are the bluest blood in Russia, but those others aren’t pulling the wool over my eyes, though they call themselves plain ‘Mr.’ and ‘Mrs.’ and ‘Miss.’ It’s my belief there’s more of the royal family than one in that little crowd. And Saxon—there’s Prince Nicholas now, an Imanoff—”
“Say, what is an ‘Imanoff,’ anyway?” Mr. Bossington interrupted, giving his coat tails a pull.
“The family name of the Russian royal family,” his wife declared in a tone of awe.
Mr. Bossington appeared unimpressed. “Thought they were all wiped out in a cellar or somewheres,” he objected.
“All the direct branch were assassinated—murdered,” his wife agreed, “in a cellar. The details were too horrible. Some of the others, however, got away, and one or two escaped out of the country. Prince Nicholas is the next heir to the throne of those left alive.”
“Well, there isn’t going to be any throne,” Mr. Bossington observed. “Russia’s doing thundering well under her new republic. That fellow Samara has set her going again. I had an offer for some oil concessions from his government to-day, made me through Washington. I shall have to send a man over next week.”
Mrs. Bossington deemed that the time had come for her great announcement.
“Saxon,” she said, “to-night I want you to be at your best. Gabriel Samara, the greatest man in Russia, is coming here. You know—he smashed Bolshevism—he is dictator, really—”
“You don’t say!” Mr. Bossington exclaimed, properly impressed at last. “Does he know anything about oil, I wonder?’
“Can’t you forget oil for one evening?” his wife enjoined angrily. “What I mean, Saxon, is that I want you to be, for to-night at least, the gracious American host and not the typical American business man. WTe may be invited to Russia. Come right along into the library now. They’ll be here before we know where we are.”
“What I want to know,” Mr. Bossington demanded, as they crossed the hall, “is how our friends and this man, Samara, ate likely to pull together, and;where on earth did you come across him?”
ATALE of international intrigue told as only Oppenheim can. Gabriel Samara, the uncrowned czar of a new Russia, purged by him of communism and red oppression, visits the United States on a diplomatic mission. In New York his secretary is taken ill and Catherine Borans, one of the hotel stenographic staff, is sent up to substitute. During the day she saves the life of Samara, when he is in danger from a member of a rival Russian political body. Later, during a luncheon conversation, Catherine acknowledges that she, too, is a Russian, and one of a group of exiled Russian aristocrats, living in poverty in a shabby little apartment on Amsterdam Avenue. This group also is violently opposed to Samara’s policies and he is considered an enemy. Catherine drops consternation among them, therefore, when she announces that she has invited Samara to meet them that evening at the home of a wealthy friend. Pick up the thread of this fascinating, swift moving novel from here.
A MAJOR-DOMO in command motioned to a footman, who threw open the door of a magnificent library. It resembled the interior of a chapel, with vaulted roof, stained-glass windows, and an organ in the far end. There were divans and chairs, a round table at which a score of places were set, and a sideboard groaning with edibles of every sort, flanked by a long row of gold-foiled bottles. Mrs. Bossington looked around her critically.
“I guess this is cozy enough for them, Saxon,” she observed.
“There’s plenty of the stuff anyway,” he remarked, with a glance toward the side-board. “But what I want to know is, how did you get hold of this fellow Samara? Those others all seem as if they had stepped out of a dime show, but Samara’s the real goods!—as big a man, in his way, as our President!”
“I met him with that little Catherine Borans—the one who is a stenographer at the Weltmore—lunching at the Ritz Carlton,” Mrs. Bossington explained. “Of course it’s all stuff and nonsense about her being ready a working girl. There isn’t one of them has a better air than she has.
They are close-mouthed and all,” she went on, listening for the bell. “I tried to get the old general, the other day, to tell me who she was. He just smiled and shook his head. The duchess seemed on the point of telling me and then she pulled herself up. ‘She is of our order, Mrs. Bossington,’ was all I could get her to say.”
THE door was suddenly thrown open. The little stream of expected guests began to arrive; a curious company in their way, but each with his own peculiar claim to distinction. General Orenburg, who first bent over his hostess’s hand, was ponderous and bulky, his shabby dinner clothes carefully brushed, the ends of his black tie a little shiny. Nevertheless, he bore himself as a man with a great past should.
He was accompanied by Prince Nicholas, whose irritation had departed for the evening, but whose manner was still stiff and abstracted. The grand duchess entered the room directly afterward. She had changed her gown since dinner-time and her hair was parted and brushed so smoothly back that it seemed almost like a plastered wig. Cyril Volynia Sabaroff of Perm followed, with his sister Rosa. Behind them came Colonel Kirdorff. They all stood in little groups while a footman served coffee and liqueurs. Mrs. Saxon J. Bossington flitted from one to another, with much to say concerning their expected guest. Her husband listened to the description of a new automobile which some friends of Cyril Sabaroff were soon to put on the market.
“It is ever so good to have you all together!” their hostess exclaimed. “I hope that you’ll be comfortable and have your little chat just as though no one were here. There’s a table you can sit round, and a bite of supper for you later on. I hope you gentlemen will pay a visit to the sideboard whenever you like.”
Prince Nicholas detached himself from the others.
“You hospitality is wonderful, madam,” he declared. “We beg that you will not leave us. Colonel Kirdorff has promised to talk to us tonight about the probable result of the Samara type of government and the general has a few remarks to make about these rumors of demilitarization in Russia.”
“How very interesting!” Mrs. Bossington murmured, sailing away to greet some fresh arrivals—an elderly professor and his wife . .
“Will Samara back out, do you think?” General Orenburg asked his neighbor anxiously.
Kirdorff shook his head. “If he promised, he will come,” he declared confidently. “I have that much faith in him, at any rate. He is not likely to break his word.”
THE greater part of the little company was now assembled. They were about a dozen outside the circle of Catherine’s immediate entourage; all Russians and ardent monarchists, but of various types and positions in the world. They were barely settled in their places round the table when the eagerly expected event happened. The door was opened and the butler made his announcement. “Miss Catherine Borans—Mr. Gabriel Samara!”
The newcomers advanced toward their hostess. They exchanged a few words of salutation while Samara bowed low and raised her fingers to his lips. Then Catherine led him toward the table.
“Please, all of you,” she said, “I have ventured to bring a visitor to see you. We have been very curious about him, very critical, sometimes censorious. After all, though, we must remember that he is a fellow countryman.”
There followed a few moments of tense silence. They were all engrossed in their study of this man, the foremost figure of their country; the man who, from their narrow point of view, stood between them and their desire. Certainly, so far as appearance went, he was at a disadvantage with none of them. He was well groomed, his evening clothes were impeccable, and he possessed to the fullest extent the natural dignity of a man holding a great place in the world.
“Samara! Gabriel Samara,” Alexandrina murmured, looked at him through her lorgnettes.
“Samara!” the fair-haired Rosa Sabaroff exclaimed, looking at him with undisguised awe.
“Gabriel Samara!” the General said, under his breath, stiffening insensibly.
The attitude of the little gathering toward their visitor could scarcely be called hospitable. The general and Prince Nicholas both inclined their heads, but did not offer their hands. Samara, however, showed no sign of taking offense. His bow to Alexandrin had been the bow of a courtier. He was himself too interested in his own contemplation of the rest of the party to appreciate their lack of cordiality. Mr. Bossington, as though he judged the moment propitious, introduced himself into the circle.
“Mr. Samara,” he said, “glad to meet you, sir. I am Saxon Bossington—glad to be your host. There’s a proposition about oil they were asking me to look into, somewhere north of the Caspian Sea.”
Samara smiled. “You are without doubt, sir, one of the capitalists whom your President mentioned to me,” he rejoined politely. “Russia has need of your brains and your money. We think that we can repay all that you have to offer. Our greatest necessity just now is to find employment for a large number of men.”
“A/'OU are really going to demilitarize, then!” Colonel
A Kirdorff intervened. Samara, who had been standing a few feet apart, turned once more toward the table.
“You seem to be all my country-people,” he observed. “Why should I have secrets from you? It is my intention immediately on my return to Russia to demobilize the whole of our Third Army, consisting of about a million men. I should have done so before if I could have been sure of finding employment for them. My mission over here was to arrange something of the sort.”
“What about the Germans?” Prince Nicholas demanded bluntly.
Some part of the geniality seemed to depart from
Samara’s manner. There was a note almost of hauteur in his reply.
“The armies of Russia,” he said, “have been trained and perhaps learned their vocation partly from German officers. Those German officers have been well paid for their labors. For anything else, the army consists of Russian soldiers, bound together for one purpose, and one purpose only—the defense of their country. In my opinion and in the opinion of my counsellors the necessity for their existence on so large a scale no longer exists.”
Samara was still standing. The general rose to his feet and indicated a chair.
“Will you join us, sir?” he invited.
There was a breathless pause—the remainder of the handful of monarchists sat srpellbound. With a grave bow to the general, Samara accepted the invitation. Prince Nicholas was on his left, the grand duchess a little lower down.
“This is a strange day,” the general continued. “We never thought to welcome among us the head of the Russian Republic. I and my friends, Mr. Samara, represent a broken party; yet a party which has yielded everything except hope. We do not desire to commence our acquaintance under the shadow of any false pretense. Prince Nicholas Imanoff here, we acknowledge as the hereditary ruler of Russia. We cannot recognize any other government.”
Samara bowed his head. “You have every right to your convictions,” he admitted. “If I believed that it were for the good of Russia to once more enter upon a period of Czardom, I should myself immediately accept the monarchical doctrine. But I tell you frankly that I do not believe it. I am a Russian by birth and descent and I think that I have earned the right to call myself a patriot. I have worked—I still work for my country’s good as I see it. That is why, with a clear conscience, I have accepted this invitation to come and visit you.”
“Our friend speaks well,” the general declared, looking around him. “After all, we must not forget that he has
accomplished a great deed. He has freed Russia from the Bolshevists, he has destroyed Soviet rule. If the form of government which he has set up does not wholly appeal to us, it is still a million times better than the one which he has crushed.”
“That is common sense,” Kirdorff agreed. “Yet it leaves us with this reflection: Bolshevism and Soviet rule were impossibilities. From that hateful extreme we expected the swing of the pendulum back to the conditions of our desire. Samara here has intervened. He has intervened—happily, perhaps, for Russia, but disastrously for us. While he lives our cause will languish.”
There was a tense silence. The significance of those words “while he lives” seemed everywhere to make itself felt. Samara looked around with a faint smile upon his lips—a smile about which there was already a shadow of defiance. It was a strange scene; the eager faces of the little crowd gathered round the table, the wonderful room with its great spaces and unexpected flashes of almost barbaric magnificence, the lavish hospitality displayed upon the huge sideboard, Mr. and Mrs. Saxon J. Bossington, almost grotesque in their position of host and hostess, seated in the background waiting.
“ A TRUE accusation,” Samara admitted. “But after
T*all I can honestly assure you that I, who know the temper of our country personally, better than you can by the offices of correspondents, have seen few indications of a desire on the part of the people to submit themselves once more to the domination of a monarchy. I had no idea until a few hours ago that I was to have the honor of meeting you this evening—you, Prince Nicholas, or you, general, whose name is still remembered in Russia, or you, colonel, or your Royal Highness. Let me say this to you, if I may: the Bolshevist days and the days of insane hatreds are over. Russia is a free country—as free to you as to me. Why not come back and live in it?”
“Come back!” the general groaned. “My estates—”
“My mines!” Kirdorff muttered.
“They took from me five hundred thousand English pounds,” Alexandrina sighed wearily.
“I will be frank with you all,” Samara continued. “There is a new code of laws in Russia to-day. We are prospering to an amazing extent, but we have taken upon our shoulders an immense burden. The Russia of to-day desires to pay the debts of the past. If I alone had power I would add to those debts the sums and estates of which the Bolshevists deprived you. But in that desire I am almost alone. I spoke of it and my own people listened in silence. But I believe—I believe from the bottom of my heart—that the day will come when Russia will repay you every farthing which you have lost.”
“If one could dream of such a thing!” the general faltered.
“My mines are being worked by a Japanese company,” Kirdorff sighed.
“There will be difficulties,” Samara admitted, “but we shall overcome them. In the meantime, why live in exile? Russia is your country. Russia is open to you. I am not afraid to invite you all freely and wholeheartedly to return—the sentence of banishment against absentee monarchists, I promise you, shall be revoked. I am not afraid of your influence. If Russia, at any time, should want a monarchy, let her have it. I will buy a villa in the south of France, be myself an exile, and grow roses. I am but the servant of the will of the people.”
“Rienzi said that before he climbed over their shoulders into power,” Kirdorff reminded him, with a curious flash in his eyes.
“D IENZI was a man of more ambitious temperament -t'-than I,” Samara retorted. “Besides, his scheme of government in those days was less wide-flung. He was a dreamer as well as an idealist; I am a practical man. I desire what is good for Russia, and it is certainly not for her good that any of those who might be foremost among her citizens are living in exile. General, return to Russia and an army corps or a post at the War Office is yours. You, Colonel Kirdorff, shall have a division wherever you choose to apply for it. There is not one of you who shall be deprived of the opportunity of doing useful work for your country. Why sit here and weave impossible dreams? Why not attune your patriotism to the music of real labor?”
“WThat about me?”
Nicholas asked eagerly.
Samara reflected for a moment.
“Prince,” he confided,
“I will be frank with you. We are living too near the shadow of regrettable days. Come if you will and be sure of my protection so far as it goes. You shall have a commission in the army, but an Imanoff in Russia, even to - day, must take his chance.”
Catherine, who had moved round to his side, looked across at Samara.
“Remember this,” she insisted. “If the tide of feeling should flow, at any time, toward the re-establishment of Russia’s real ruler, it is upon Nicholas here that the people’s choice must fall.”
Samara listened indifferently. Perhaps in that hour of his magnificent and super-abundant vitality, when his brain was at its zenith, his vision unerring, the idea of any serious rivalry between him and this pale-faced young man of peevish expression, seemed an incredible thing.
“All I can say is,” he replied, “that if Prince Nicholas cares to come he is welcome. Such protection as I can afford him, he shall have. If he plots against my government and his plots are discovered, he will be shot. If, by open election of the people or by vote of the Duma, a monarchy is desired, then I shall never lift a hand against him.”
The general stroked his gray imperial. Something of the weariness had gone from his face. Something of the languor, indeed, seemed to have passed from all of them. They had listened to a wonderful message. Samara read their thoughts. He rose to his feet.
“I thank you, general, and all of you, for your reception. I fear that in the past you have counted me an enemy. Wipe that out, please. The greatest of possible ties
binds us together—our country!”
MISS SADIE LOYES set down the telephone receiver with a little bang. She was obviously annoyed.
“Miss Borans,” she announced sharply,
“eleven - hundred - and -eighty wants you again.
Keep a record of your time.”
Catherine rose and placed the cover on her machine. Miss Loyes watched her with critical eyes.
“Crazy about you, seemingly,” she continued. “They’re making such a fuss about him in the papers this morning, I thought I’d go up myself for an hour or so. Knows his own mind, anyhow—you or nobody. What kind of work is it? Can you tell me?” “Not work you’d enjoy very much, I think, Miss Loyes,” Catherine replied, smiling faintly as she thought of the previous morning; “correspondenceand documents and that sort of thing. Yesterday afternoon Mr. Bromley Pride interviewed him for the New York Coviet. He didn’t get much of a story, though.”
“These foreigners leave me cold,” said Miss Loyes. “What we Americans make such a fuss about them for I don’t know. They just come over here for what they can get. One of the papers this morning said that this
Mr. Samara has fixed up a loan with the President of something like two hundred millions. Keep your time card carefully, Miss Borans. There’s one thing about these Russians, they aren’t mean!” Catherine descended the stairs in to the hall and made leisurely progress toward the elevator. On the way the fancy seized her to call in at the florist’s shop and buy a single dark red rose which she pulled through the waist-band of her dress. The elevator attendant, who had scarcely noticed her before, watched her disappearing figure with undisguised admiration.
It was a very different sitting-room which Catherine presently entered. There were half a dozen men present and conversation was a little vehement. At her entrance it subsided. Samara motioned her to a chair at the smaller table and proceeded to dismiss his callers.
“I agree,” he said. “It seems cowardly but perhaps you are right. At one o’clock Carloss, and at three o’clock the bank president. Loudon can make all the arrangements. He had better bring an automobile here and cable Cherbourg.”
They drifted away, one by one, Samara himself escorting them through the little hall to the door. Presently he returned and threw himself into an easychair.
“Trouble at home, here and everywhere,” he remarked grimly. “I’ve got to hurry home.”
“About your demilitarization scheme?” she inquired.
He nodded. “Half the unrest is owing to German influence,” he declared. “We’ve had so many commitments to her in the past that she’s grown to look upon
these armies as her own. Our people over here are quite right, though. I must get back at once and make a tour through the military district. In the meantime I am going to cable over a proclamation. Ready?” “Quite, ’’she answered. He dictated rapidly for half an hour or more. As soon as he had finished he went to a cupboard in which was an array of bottles, mixed himself a drink and tossed it off. Then he sat in his easy-chair with his hands in his pockets and a frown upon his forehead, while she gathered up the loose pages of her work.
“Tell me,” he asked abruptly. “What did your friends think of me last night?”
“They were surprised,” she admitted.
“Favorably or unfavorably?”
“On the whole favorably. Your offer to them all has made a great stir in their quiet lives.”
“It was a serious one,” he declared, rising to his feet and pacing the room. “There is no reason why they shouldn’t come back. I have nothing against the monarchists so long as they accept the situation and desist from plots. The people against whom I wage war to the death are the anarchists. They are a waning force but I have not done with them yet. I am a humane man but I would kill an anarchist as I would a fly, because of the poison they carry with them.”
She looked at him thoughtfully, but she made no remark. Presently he stopped in front of her chair.
“Don’t you agree with me—I mean about your people?” he demanded. “Don’t you think I was right to ask them to come back? They are, after all, Russian citizens.”
“I think you were right,” she replied, “with one
“One exception?” he repeated.
“Nicholas Imanoff. If you allow him to return I don’t think I should have him in the army. You know what the Russian peasant soldier is. Communism is a meaningless cry to him, although he may shout for it if he is bidden. God and the Czar are still in his blood.”
“VT'OU are giving me advice against your own people!”
* he exclaimed suddenly.
The faintest tinge of color stole for a moment under the creamy pallor of her cheeks. The same idea had flashed in upon her.
“I am tired of plots and rebellions,” she explained. “Changes of government should be worked out by the will of the people. If the people call for a Czar—well, there is Nicholas. But if he is once in the army there will be plots. It isn’t for our own good. I should like to see the monarchy re-established, but I should like to see it re-established by orthodox means.”
“You tell me that Alexandrina of Kossas is your patroness,” he said. “Does that mean that you too are an aristocrat?”
“By inclination,” she confessed. “You must remember that it is not only the aristocracy who would support monarchy. I am one of those who consider it the sanest form of government. Would you like me to do anything with this proclamation?”
He took the sheets from her and glanced through them, made a few alterations in pencil, and laid them down again. Afterward he resumed his restless perambulation of the room. She leaned back in her chair and waited. Samara was evidently disturbed. Occasionally he muttered to himself. Once he stood for quite five minutes gazing out of the window, down into the windy, sunlit streets.
“I am sailing this afternoon, Miss Borans,” he announced, suddenly turning round. “My people are all emphatic and they are right. There is danger here and trouble to face at home.”
She did not attempt to conceal her interest.
“I read your interview in the New York Cornel, this morning,” she said, “but after all it told us very little.
As the general was saying last night, you are still outside the Pact of Nations. You can demobilize the whole of these first million men and still remain, on paper at any rate, the greatest military power in Europe.”
“I could,” he assented. “But that is not my intention. I want my Russian people back on the land instead of behind the gun, and I’m going to have them there. That’s all I can say. Later on I have a scheme of my own for a citizen army—the only sort of army any country ought to have. . . . Miss Borans, will you go back to Russia with me?”
“Will I do what?” she asked, looking at him intently. “Precisely what I have asked,” he persisted. “What relatives have you here?”
“A sort of aunt,” she replied, “and a second cousin.”
“/^OOD! You work now for the management of this hotel. Work for me instead. I need a secretary like you. If your friends accept my offer you’ll have company over there. You won’t clash with Andrew. He has his own line of work.”
She shook her head.
“I could not work for you, Mr. Samara,” she said. “Why not?” he demanded roughly. “You are a Russian patriot. So am I.”
“Our ideas of patriotism might not be the same,” she pointed out. “If there were a movement in favor of the re-establishment of the monarchy in Russia, for instance, I should join it.”
“Join it and welcome,” he answered. “I’m not at all sure that you would, though, if you were on the spot. Russia to-day is leaping onward toward prosperity. I can prove that to you. What do you want a monarchy back for? Not for the sake of the Russian people. They’d be no better off. Who are you for, Miss Borans —the people or one particular class?”
“That one particular class is a section of the people,” she reminded him.
“An infinitesimal one,” he urged. “Majorities count. You must work for the good of the greatest number.” “All the same,” she said, “I am not disposed to be your secretary.”
His face darkened almost into a scowl.
“Don’t be absurd!” he protested angrily. “It’s a good offer. You can name your own salary in reason. You would be able to live in your native country instead of being an exile.”
She shook her head.
“It is an impossibility,” she assured him.
HE GLARED at her for a moment furiously. Then, without further reference to it, he abandoned the subject.
“Take down these letters,” he directed. “Take copies but be sure you give them to me.”
“I am quite ready,” she murmured.
He dictated for an hour. When he had finished, he read the letters she handed him, with almost meticulous care, signed them and watched her as she placed them in their envelopes. Then he took the copies, looked them through and locked them up in a dispatch box.
“How is Mr. Andrew Kroupki this morning?” she inquired.
“Better,” he answered shortly. “He will not be able to travel with me, though. It is most annoying.”
She glanced at the clock.
“What time does your boat sail?” she asked.
“Eight o’clock,” he told her, “but I am going on board at six. It seems that, although the magistrate discharged our friend of yesterday morning, a hint or two of what he was after got about. I’m practically being smuggled out of the country.”
“You have appointments at one o’clock and three,” she reminded him. “Is there anything more that I can do for you before I go?”
“There is only one thing you could do for me, and you won’t do it,” he growled. “I’m not a woman’s man and I never learned how to talk to them, but you’re the sort of human being it does one good to work with. I believe in you. You could help me.”
“There are many others who could do that,” she assured him.
“I don’t meet them,” he answered. “My biographers
have written a lot of nonsense about me. Because I have swept clean the roads of life and driven the masses along the appointed way, they talk about my magnetism, my intense sympathy with human beings. It’s all rubbish! I have no sympathy. Men and women are mostly puppets to me and life is a chessboard. If I could find some on who would teach me tolerance, some one whom I could trust, for whom I could feel human things, I could accomplish greater deeds than I have ever accomplished yet. There are times when I am frightened of my own materialism. I have thought all my life universally, in composite blocks. The world is becoming like a doll’s house to me. I have a fancy that you might be able to change this. Will you come and try?”
Again she shook her head.
“It is an impossibility,” she repeated.
“That ends it, then!” he pronounced abruptly. . . . “Tell your people to send an account for the typing in to the hotel. The Embassy is arranging to pay my bill after my departure. All the evening papers are announcing that I leave on Saturday. You will consider what I have told you concerning my movements as confidential?”
“I will remember,” she promised.
She rose to her feet. He glowered across the room at her.
“Some day,” he concluded, “you may see that you’ve wasted a great opportunity. No woman ever had a greater. You read of me and my work but you don’t know. When I crushed Bolshevism, the heart and soul of Russia began to beat again. The work is only begun. You and your little monarchist plots! Why don’t you lift your head and see the greater things? You could help.”
“I am very sorry,” she sighed, as she turned away.
He heard the door close. Then he crossed the room toward the cupboard. Help in his task from any human being seemed to be the one thing in life always denied him.
They had all gone at last. Samara was alone in his capacious stateroom with a single companion—Bromley Continued on page 56
The Great Samara
Continued from page 29
Pride, the bona fide representative of the New York Comet. Samara listened to the receding footsteps with a frown. Outside was turmoil. The bugle had just sounded the last call for departing visitors.
“This sort of thing,” he declared, “would soon drive me mad.”
Bromley Pride smiled tolerantly. He was a large, athletic-looking man, cleanshaven and forcible. In New York he was considered to be an authority on Russian affairs.
“I am afraid these last two hours have seemed rather like an anti-climax,” he observed. “All the same, I am convinced that precautions were necessary. The police commissioner sent for me hirhself this morning and begged me, if I had any influence with you, to persuade you to leave the country without delay. There are all sorts of rumors about.”
“They warned me in Washington,” Samara acknowledged gloomily, “and of course there was yesterday’s little affair.”
“Yesterday’s little affair,” Bromley Pride repeated with emphasis, “was only the beginning. I honestly believe,” he went on,' “that the Germans, over here at any rate, look upon the proposed demobilization of your armies as an act of absolute treachery to them. You don’t read the New York papers, I suppose, but the German-owned ones have passionate articles this morning, denouncing your visit here and attacking your whole policy. Whatever one can find to say against the Germans, they are not cowards. Five years ago you were a little god in Germany. To-day you have about forty million enemies.”
Samara nodded with darkening expression.
“You’re right, of course, Pride,” he admitted, “but my progress from the Hotel Weltmore to the boat was more like the passage of one of those hated plutocrats of old through the dangerous part of his capital, than the departure of one who has brought freedom to a great country from the city which has canonized that particular qiiality. Twenty
plain-clothes policemen walking along the Customs-shed and me in the middle. A sickening sight!”
“If it had been Saturday instead of today,” Pride observed, “the chances are ten to one you’d have had a bomb in the midst of the lot of you.”
There was the sound of cheering, a sense of gliding motion, the screaming and panting of tugs. Samara drew a breath of relief.
“Well, thank God we’re off!” he exclaimed. “Can I go on deck now and get a breath of fresh air?”
“Not yet,” the other begged. “Two detectives from Headquarters are going through the passenger list with the purser now. As soon as they send me word down ‘O.K.’ you can do what you like. You must remember that you haven’t told me much yet, sir. I’m not only a New York journalist, you know— I’m a friend of Russia.”
MY MISSION was a success,” Samara declared. “That’s all there is to be said about it. My task lies ahead. Forty years ago, Russia—the best part of Russia—was trying to drill the military spirit into Russian peasants. To-day I have got to knock it out. The Bolshevists were wise people in their generation. They kept a great army going without the slightest difficulty. The soldiers were fed while the peasants starved. Who wanted to work on the land, without enough to keep body and soul together, when there was good food and wine and beer in the army? They’re an obstinate race, our peasants, you know, Pride. I’ve got the capital now to make them productive units of the nation, at work in the factories and fields, and to pay them good money. It’s quite another matter to make them see that it’s for their benefit, though. That is where the difficulty may come in.” “You’ll do it in the end,” Pride prophesied hopefully. “You’ve achieved greater impossibilities.”
Continued on page 58
Continued, from page 56 “Yes, I shall do it,” Samara assented. “I shall do it, if only they’ll let me alone. I shall do it if I can keep intrigue out of the Duma and the press and the army. I shall do it if I’m given a fair show.” Pride was gazing out of the porthole at the passing panorama of docks and walls.
“One would pray for you, Samara, if one knew how or to whom. There’s a soul in your work—something that reaches out of life—out of the mud of politics and man’s ambition. The Jews are the only ones left who really pray. I rather wish you were a Jew, Samara.” “You think that I need faith.”
“It isn’t that, but you need an inexhaustible stock,” was the quiet reply. “You have no one to depend upon but yourself. Russia has not produced a single great statesman yet to stand by your side. You carry on your shoulders a burden so enormous that it makes the hearts of us who watch grow faint. How must it be for yourself?”
Samara was looking into space. They were moving more rapidly now—moving all the time away from New York.
“T AM forty-four years old, Pride,” he 1 confided. “I came into this fight when I was nineteen. I have never looked back. I have never relaxed or felt fear, but there has been one moment, and that not so long ago, when I almost weakened —if it is weakening to crave help. I thought I saw something wonderful. It was just the mirage.”
There was a knock at the door. A detective entered. He smiled the smile of a man who has accomplished good work.
“Everything ‘O.K.’ now, sir,” he declared. “Mike’s got ’em—one from Chicago, one from Washington. They’ve got the bracelets on and the guns are in Mike’s pocket. They had a stateroom nearly opposite to you, too, sir,” he added, turning to Samara.
“You think they were really after me?” the latter asked.
At last came the clanging of a bell which, this time, brought them to a dead stop. Samara watched his visitors depart; Pride, with his cheerful carriage and buoyant air; the two detectives with their quarry; finally the pilot into his little rowboat on the other side. The great semicircle of lights had flashed out through the windy twilight. The freshness of the sea was a marvelous tonic after the spring lassitude of the town and the overheated rooms. Samara strode the deck with a sense of reawakening life in his veins. These croakers had gone. He was his own man again, free to muse upon his great achievement, to revel in the exhilaration of the voyage. Behind him lay New York—and what else? It was an absurdity, but he was heavyhearted. ...
The clamorous dinner bugle left him undisturbed. His anticipations of the coming night, the long roll of the ship, the scent of the sea, and the wind upon his face elated him. And then, in the midst of his long, swinging walk, he came to a sudden standstill. A woman was leaning over the rail. He had passed her several times without heeding her. Now, something in her figure, the poise of her head, startled him with a flood of ridiculous memories. She turned and faced him. For once in his life, he, the man of many words, was speechless.
“You see, I changed my mind,” she said, with a quiet smile. “I wish you’d go and see the purser about my stateroom.”
THEY dined together half an hour later at the little table in a secluded corner of the saloon which Samara had taken for himself. Catherine was very frank.
“It has been the dream of my life to visit my own country,” she confided, “but all the same I had not the faintest idea of accepting your offer. When I got downstairs after leaving you I found Kirdorff waiting for me. You may not realize it, but Colonel Kirdorff is a great schemer.”
“You are to spy upon me!” he suggested.
“I rather think that is the idea,” she assented. “You little know what you have brought upon yourself by your candor last night. They are all planning to return—even Nicholas. When I told Kirdorff of your offer he thought that I
should be mad to decline it. You mustn’t be angry with them, Mr. Samara. They have lived away from their country a long time. They are getting old and the idea of intrigue stirs them as nothing else in life could. They are not quite to be ignored, but they are scarcely to be feared.”
“And you?” he asked. “Are you going to spy upon me?”
“I may,” she admitted. “I shall make you no promises. I want to see what you have made of Russia. I want to travel about there and to talk to those people who understand. Maybe you will convert me. If you do not I shall give you fair warning. In the meantime I hope you will find me plenty of work and pay me enough money to buy some clothes directly we land. These dear friends of mine hurried me off with little more than a handbag.”
“How is it that you are so intimate with all these people?” he inquired. “You are one of them, I suppose?”
“Don’t ask me,” she begged. “Let me remain a mystery. I am a working woman and I am going to be a very good secretary. Isn’t that enough? Tell me, do you live in a palace at Moscow, and what will become of me there?”
“I live in a portion of the old palace,” he replied. “We call it now ‘Government House.’ You can have your quarters there, or look after yourself outside— whichever you like. Then you can also have an office in Government Buildings where Andrew does most of his work.” “It sounds delightful!” she declared. “We are impulsive people, you and I! You haven’t had any references with me and as for you—well, I know that you are Samara and that is all. I don’t even know whether you are married.”
He smiled. “I think you do,” he said. “In case I am wrong, I will tell you. I am unmarried and I have no women friends. As to references, I asked none from you; you must place a similar trust in me.” She returned his smile understandingly. “I think,” she confided, “that I have made up my mind to do that. . . .”
CATHERINE went to her stateroom early and Samara, after a brief visit to the smoking-room, struggled out onto the rain-splashed deck. They were facing the Atlantic now, with a gale blowing,driving the spray in blinding sheets across the ship.
There was never a time when he needed clearer vision, a more detached and concentrated grasp upon the great realities. Courage he had in plenty, even to rashness; his will no one had ever questioned, yet in the midst of his content he was troubled with a queer sense of some indeterminate quality in his thoughts, some disposition to find less than vitally important the great issues of life. His mental balance had been disturbed. Another element had entered into the background of his sensations beside the joy of achievement.
Gusts of rain swept into his face. The seamen who passed him silently were wrapped in oilskins. The singing in his pulses continued, the exhilaration of spirit which he tried in vain to believe came from the knowledge that this journey of his toward which the eyes of the world had been directed, had met with a success which he alone had prophesied. And all the time he knew that there was something else; another problem to be faced; a personal self creeping into life, seeking—nay, insisting upon recognition. It was all fancy, he told himself, born of the winds and the stars and the romance of travel. He suddenly realized upon what a trifle the whole great machinery of his mind had been engaged.
IT WAS not until the middle of the next morning that Gabriel Samara appeared on deck. A long line of semi-somnolent passengers watched him with interest; Catherine, who was sipping some beef tea, expectantly. He did not, however, pause in his promenade, only touched his hat slightly and passed on, his hands thrust into the pockets of his great coat, his underlip a little protruding, a general air of unapproachability about him. If there were not actually newspaper men on board, there were men connected with newspapers; and they looked at him wistfully—even followed him at a respectful distance along the deck, seeking an opportunity to venture upon a friendly word. They were doomed, however, to
disappointment. Samara, after a restless night, had no desire for the amenities of life.
HE CLIMBED to the higher deck where few people were disposed to face the wind, and, assured of a certain measure of solitude there, he leaned against the rail, looking down into the steerage. Again, as on the previous night, he felt the scrutiny of a little company of white-faced, black-eyed shadows of men, with skulking movements and a general air of furtiveness. One of them he watched in particular, with something more than, ordinary curiosity. The man looked over his shoulder twice and, although his expression was entirely passive, there was recognition in those stealthy glances. Soon he disappeared behind a ventilator, and Samara, after a few minutes’ hesitation, recommenced his promenade. This time, however, it was speedily interrupted. The First Officer, who was descending from the bridge, caught sight of him and waited for his approach at the bottom of the steps.
“Mr. Samara,” he said, saluting, “may I have a word with you?”
Samara nodded. “Certainly.”
“We are very pleased and proud, of course, to have you as a passenger, sir,” the officer went on, “but I wish very much you had followed the example of some other overpopular statesman who travel with us, and done so incognito.” “My friends arranged my passage,” Samara explained. “I came on board, as you know, quite unexpectedly.”
“Just so,” the other assented. “That would have been all right if they had used a little more discretion. The trouble of it is that we have at least a score of your country-people in the steerage—redhot Bolshevists, every one of them—who came out here and haven’t been allowed to land. They’ve been at Ellis Island for some time and now we’ve orders to take them back to Naples.”
“I think I’ve recognized one or two of them,” Samara remarked dryly.
The morning wore on. Some of the ship’s passengers indulged in sports. Down in the steerage a man who called himself a Hungarian, but who had been christened “Simon the Jew,” was doing tricks with knives to the amazement of a little group of spectators. He pinned a piece of paper on the wall and from twenty paces he threw short-bladed, ugly-looking knives into a perfect circle. He threw them into the air and caught them by the handles, three or four at the same time, the sun shining upon the blue steel of their blades. Some of the women turned away. Even the men— and they were used to knives—shivered a little. The man was a magician.
IT WAS afternoon when Catherine saw Samara again on deck. Immediately she called to him.
“I thought,” she said, “that I was supposed to be your secretary.”
“I had no work for you this morning,” he said.
“I did not come simply for a sea voyage,” she declared. “May I ask whether there will be work to do this .afternoon?"
The gruffness passed from his manner. He looked at her, abstractedly. She was wearing a long jumper of a distinctive shade of green, a cap of the same color, and the wind had brought a becoming touch of pink to her cheeks. Her tone was almost severe, but her lips were already framed for a smile.
“There is a dispatch,” he announced, “which I wish to prepare for forwarding to London. We will commence it at three o’clock, if that suits you.”
“It suits me very well indeed,” she assured him.
THEY separated without further speech. A few minutes later, as he sat at his corner table from which the other chair had already been removed, he saw her coming toward him. This time there was a distinct frown upon her face.
“I understand.” she said, “that you have told the second steward to give me a place somewhere else.”
“I thought it would be more agreeable to you,” he replied.
“You were entirely wrong,” she confided. “I shall sit with you or take my meals on deck.”
Continued on page 60
Continued, from page 58
He rose at once to his feet and summoned a steward. “Kindly relay this table,” he directed. “Mademoiselle will share it with me.”
She seated herself and looked at him severely. “Why do you desire to dispense with my society after having made use of so much eloquence to obtain it?” she inquired. “I can assure you that I am a very desirable companion. I can be silent. I can be an eager listener— especially if you talk of Russia—or I can talk nonsense. You have only to name your humor and I can respond to it. But I will not sit with that noisy crowd of fat, curious women and their male belongings.”
“You are very welcome here,” he conceded, trying to conceal his own satisfaction. “The arrangement I proposed was largely for your sake. I thought that you would like to make acquaintances on board.”
She drew herself up and looked at him with a smile, half amused, half haughty. “Why? Acquaintances?”
His retort was prompt. “As a young lady typist from the Bureau of the Weltmore Hotel, taking her first ocean trip—•”
“The trick is to you,” she interrupted. “I don’t like the sarcasm, though. Are you sure that you still believe in me, Mr. Samara?”
“Ought I to?” he retorted unexpectedly.
“We will waive the question,” she decided, after a moment’s deliberation.
The second steward came up to pay his respects and to suggest special dishes for dinner that night or luncheon on the morrow. The wine steward followed with news of some old brandy for which Samara had inquired, and his place in turn was taken by the First Officer, who paused for a moment or two on his way out.
“I trust, Mr. Samara,” he said, “that you are keeping the matter in mind about which I spoke to you this morning.”
“It is scarcely a matter which slips easily from one’s -memory,” was the somewhat grim reply.
“What was he talking about?” Catherine asked, glancing curiously after the retreating figure.
“A gang of Bolshevists on board, being returned to their native country with thanks. They hate me like poison, of course, every one of them.”
AT THREE o’clock, preceded by a steward carrying her typewriter, Catherine presented herself in the little sitting-room attached to Samara’s suite. He was already there, talking to Ivan, or rather the latter was talking and Samara listening. Ivan had apparently worked himself into a state almost of passion. The words came from his lips in a little stream; his fists were clenched. His master pushed him out of the room with a few soothing words.
“Ivan’s been down in the steerage,” he explained, turning to Catherine with a smile. “Been running amuck with some of the scum there, I expect. He thinks that they’d do me a mischief if they could. So would a hundred thousand more of them, but they don’t get the chance.”
“I have not quite made up my mind about you yet,” she said, as she seated herself at the table. “One thing I am quite sure about, though, I do not wish you to be assassinated while I am around, or indeed, until I am convinced that your work for Russia is over. So far as you have gone I look upon you as the greatest benefactor Russia has ever had. If only you would complete the work!” “Restore the monarchy?”
“Some day we will argue the matter,” he promised. “Now take down the text of my communication to the English Cabinet.”
They worked for several hours, Catherine fascinated by the substance of what she wrote, the directness and lucidity with which Samara expressed himself. Sometimes he was at a loss for a word and at her suggestion he supplied her with a Russian one. They drifted now and then into the habit of exchanging remarks in that tongue.
“It seems odd to think that you have never actually been in your own country since you were old enough to remember!” he said abruptly.
“I spent three very strenuous years there, according to my mother,” she
«onfided. “My impressions are naturally :a little mixed.”
He returned to work and dismissed her only when the bugle sounded an 'hour before dinner time. Afterward he -walked outside for a few minutes alone. It was already dusk, quieter than on the ¡previous night but still with a long swell •and half a gale blowing on the .windward •side of the ship. He paced the almost •deserted deck once oi twice thoughtfully. A whistle sounded from the bridge. Presently the boatswain came up to him •and saluted.
“The captain’s compliments, sir, and would you speak to him for a moment 'in his room?”
Samara followed the man to the covered deck and into the captain’s ■quarters. The latter, who had been •changing for dinner, came out of his 'room.
“You will take a cocktail with me, Mr. Samara?” he invited.
In a moment there was the sound of •the ice clinking in the shaker and the •captain’s steward appeared with two ‘frosted glasses full of amber liquid.
“YT'OU mustn’t think us a lot of old A women, Mr. Samara,” the captain 'begged, as he pushed the cigarettes •across, “but I tell you frankly that we’re •rather nervous about you. We’ve got a Totten steerage on board, and I’m •going to ask you not to walk these decks •after dusk. If you care to come up on the bridge while the weather is in any ■way decent and clear, I shall be delighted. Plenty of exercise there, and all the wind you could want in the world.”
Samara smiled faintly. “I have to (Stick it out in Moscow, you know, and a ¡good many other places which I visit in my own country,” he reminded his •companion.
“Precisely,” the captain agreed. “But •permit me to point out a very vital difference. In your own country, for one man who would raise his hand against you there are a million to whom you are ¡something like a god, and any would-be assassin would have to face the fact that he would probably be torn to pieces in a matter of seconds. On board this ship •it is a very different matter. My first officer tells me that we’ve got a score or more of the worst of your countrypeople on board, who honestly believe in •an ignorant way that they’ve got a grudge against you. It excites them to think that you are so near. They feel ’that they have a chance of getting at you they wouldn’t have on land. I’m •one of your great admirers, Mr. Samara, but there’s a selfish side to this, too. I ¡should hate anything to happen on my ship.”
“I’ll take every care,” Samara promised. “Give me a cocktail like that now •and then, and I’d almost promise to hide in my stateroom.”
The captain smiled as he divided the remainder.
“It will take a load off our minds if you’ll promise to be careful,” he said. “We watch those fellows day and night, but they’re as slippery as eels. Even now my boatswain tells me there’s one of them he can’t account for.”
“Have they any firearms?”
“Not now. We’ve taken seven revolvers away from them—not a bad haul for less than a score. In one respect they •are not as bad as the dagoes—they haven’t all a knife up their sleeves.”
Samara was escorted back to his •quarters by the boatswain. Ivan, who was busy brushing his clothes, was still 'disturbed and anxious.
“I do not like this ship,” he declared, •as he shook out his master’s coat. “There are evil men upon it.”
“Turn on my bath, Ivan. Even evil men without arms in their hands can do no more than think evil thoughts,” his master reminded him . . . “What in hell’s name is that?”
There was a strange fugitive glimpse •of a white face, pressed against the large, square window which took the place of a porthole; a face which slowly appeared from underneath the frosted lower part and came into sight gradually—a mass •of black matted hair, sunken eyes, sunken cheeks, an expression scarcely human. Samara sprang forward, but Ivan held him back with all his giant strength. He pushed his master on one side and hastened to the door.
“It is for me, this, master,” he cried.
Continued on page 63
Continued from page 61 He was out on the deck in an instant. Samara snatched up a pistol from the drawer of his writing desk and followed him. There was not a creature in sight. He looked up and down. Ivan crept underneath the boats. The place appeared to be deserted! Samara, with a shrug of his shoulders, returned to his stateroom. Ivan stood still on the deck; a giant figure, his long hair blowing about in the wind, the muscles of his arm taut, rage in his heart.
CATHERINE had just finished a morning’s work, which even she had found severe. She leaned back in her chair with a little sigh of exhaustion. Her fingers were stiff, her arms numb, there was a slight dizziness at the back of her head. Outside, too, as though to tantalize her the more, the wind had gone down and the great liner was plowing its level way through a blue sea as smooth as a carpet and bespangled with sunlight. Samara, with the inspiration of his last few sentences still in his brain, was like a man removed altogether from the world. He, too, was looking through that wideflung porthole, but with the air of one who seeks something beyond the swelling sea and the narrow boundaries of the blue horizon. Catherine, watching him with curious eyes, forget for a moment her fatigue. He had indeed the air of a prophet. There was no follower of the cause which lay next to her own heart like this, she reflected sorrowfully. With a momentary pang she thought of Nicholas, and that little circle back in New York, even now making their plans. The recollection failed altogether to exhilarate her.
The sound of the luncheon bugle brought their feet back to the ground. Samara turned swiftly around. For the first time that morning, as it seemed to Catherine, he looked at her as though he were a human being.
“You are tired,” he exclaimed. “Of course you are tired! I have worked you for three hours without a pause. Ivan!” The man appeared, silently for all his bulk, and without a moment’s delay. His master gave him a rapid order in Russian.
“If I am tired, it is a pleasure to feel so,” she assured him. “I feel mentally as you men feel physically when you return from a long day’s hunting. Only, if you will give me an hour’s rest after luncheon, I shall sleep in the sunshine.”
“I shall not work again to-day,” he declared. “I’ve got rid of much that was in my mind. These thoughts collect in their little cells. One must bring them into shape or sometimes they slip away.”
IVAN returned with two glasses full of frosted liquid on a tray. Catherine took one gratefully. Samara tossed his off at a draught.
“Come out into the sunshine for ten minutes before lunch,” he invited.
She finished her aperitif and followed him gratefully enough to the deck. They walked up and down once or twice. Then Catherine sank into her steamer chair and, after a moment’s hesitation, he seated himself by her side.
“One scarcely needs exercise,” she murmured. “The sun and this air are so wonderful and the decks are crowded. Besides, I hate walking. Tell me something, Mr. Samara, if you will. You write openly enough of the second stage in your great struggle for the regeneration of Russia. What is it?
“Can’t you imagine?” he answered a little gloomily. “The escape from our obligations, written and unwritten, to Germany.”
She repeated the word. The full understanding of his announcement eluded her.
“Don’t you see,” he pointed out, “in the early days of Bolshevist government, Germany obtained almost a strangle-hold upon Russia. The best of her industries were seized upon and worked by Germans. These profiteers made piles of money, but instead of investing it to develop Russia’s resources they kept it for themselves, to spend in their own country when they had sucked the thing dry. German capital was used freely enough but not for Russia’s ultimate good. The fortunes made went abroad. Russian resources, Russian cheap labor were merely the cat’s-paw of German capitalists. The same thing, in a different manner, applied to our armies. It is quite true that German officers and German efficiency have made us a military power far in advance, of, our require-
ments, but for what purpose were those armies to be used, do you suppose? Not for Russia’s benefit. That is why—”
PRECISELY at that moment an incredible and amazing thing happened —seen first, to Samara’s preservation, by Catherine. Scarcely fifteen feet from them was hung a boat, covered by a tight canvas covering. There was hardly a breath of wind and yet Catherine’s attention had been attracted by the inexplicable movement of one of the knotted ends of rope which tied it down; an end which disappeared underneath the canvas as though drawn there by invisible fingers.
There was a sudden gap in the folds of the canvas itself, and swiftly following, black tragedy, pregnant with fate; the instantaneous reappearance of that horrible face first seen by Samara through the window of his cabin, and now more than ever like some diabolical jack-in-abox, the top part of a body, collarless, clad in a gray flannel shirt only, a long skinny arm, gripping in its yellow fingers something that gleamed like silver in the sunlight. It was an affair of seconds.
Catherine never knew the instinct which prompted her. She caught hold of Samara by the neck, and dragged his face against hers. Even as she did so something flashed across those fifteen feet of space like a silver thunderbolt; something that hissed in the air and buried itself in the woodwork where Samara’s head had been—buried itself almost to the hilt, and stayed there quivering. There were people walking both ways. They paused in amazement. Samara felt the fiery grip of Catherine’s fingers released. He sprang to his feet, just as the misshapen little figure leaped out from the gap in the boat, jumped on to the deck and turned toward the steerage. Samara, large and looselimbed though he was, was no less nimble. One long leap—and the man was in his grasp. He was like a rat in the grip of a well-conditioned sporting dog.
Afterward, it seemed to Catherine, sitting there numbed and motionless, that these things could scarcely have happened. A matter of seconds saw the beginning and end of an episode which might have changed the world’s history. Samara, shaking with a great anger, held his miserable captive high over his head, shouted one word to him—a Russian word, harsh and uncouth it sounded— strode to the rail, held him for a moment poised, in full sight of half a hundred shivering and paralyzed passengers, and flung him out into the sunlight, far away from the ship’s side, into the soft blue bosom of the sea. Even people who had not seen heard the splash and ran to the side of the boat. Samara leaned with the others over the rail. He became suddenly a spectator. Behind him, embedded three inches deep in the woodwork, the knife was still quivering, the sunshine reflected from it like gleams of lightning.
PANDEMONIUM followed, but pandemonium through which ran a thread of order. There was the clanging of the gong from the captain’s bridge, the sudden shock of reversed engines, a boat in the sea, almost before people realized its lowering—a boat which seemed to be left far behind as the liner drifted on with her own momentum. A hundred glasses watched it. A hoarse murmur ran all down the line of anxious passengers. Samara felt a hand as cold as ice clutch his. Catherine was standing by his side. “Have they picked him up?” she asked. He nodded. “These fellows have the lives of cats,” he observed resignedly. “I quite thought that I had broken his neck when I threw him over.”
A little crowd had gathered round the sinister-looking knife; others watched the return of the boat with the half-drowned man. In the background people gazed with awe and wonder at Samara—a man who had escaped death by a miracle, and the taking of life by a second one. He was momentarily engaged in tying a handkerchief round his right hand from which a few drops of blood were falling.
“The fellow tried to bite me when I got hold of his neck,” he explained. “I shall go and see the doctor. Any one who touches such carrion needs disinfectants.” People made way for him right and left. The sight of that amazing retaliation of his had imbued him with a grotesque, yet heroic air. It was like a deed from a book of the Sagas. Then into that blazing atmosphere of tragedy there intervened a readjusting note. With puffed-out cheeks and earnest manner a pallid young
man produced from a shining bugle the call for luncheon. Untoward and unexpected events are coldly looked upon on board ship. Routine and discipline are paramount. When Samara returned from the doctor’s room with his hand neatly bandaged he found most of the passengers, including Catherine, already seated at luncheon.
THE knife-thrower brooded, so far as his narrow mind allowed him, in irons, for the remainder of the voyage, without even the solace of a word from his cowed companions. Samara, with Catherine always at hand to help, worked for several hours each morning, preparing a detailed report of his proceedings in New York. The other passengers loafed and idled and flitted their time away, very much in the usual fashion. Three uneventful days brought peace of mind to the captain and to the first officer.
“Am I a good secretary?” Catherine asked one evening at the completion of a long day’s work.
“The best I ever had,” he admitted promptly. “All the same, I am not so sure after all that we shall be able to work together for very long.”
Her eyebrows were slightly raised. “It should not be for you to say that,” she protested. “If I am useful here, why should not I be equally so in Moscow? Andrew Kroupki, you tell me, will not be able to leave New York for more than a month.”
“That is true.”
“There is some one else in Moscow, perhaps?” she persisted.
“There is no one else,” he assured her. “I havé never had a woman secretary.” “Some one in your household would object to my presence?”
He frowned irritably. “There is no woman whatever in my household,” he said, “except an old housekeeper who was my nurse when I was a boy. It is not that. The bald truth is that you are not the sort of secretary for a man like myself.” “Because of our political lack of sympathy?” she asked. “I can’t help being.a monarchist, but as against that you have done Russia a magnificent service by freeing her from Bolshevism. I could never forget that.”
“It is not a matter of politics at all,” he confessed. “Can’t you realize that I dislike having women around me as women? I prefer to keep an unbiased mind. Women belong to the arts and graces of life. They have no place in our serious moments and enterprises.”
She looked at him with gentle pity. “Dear Mr. Samara,” she said, “it is terrible to hear a man of intelligence like you talk such absolute nonsense. You are looking out on life with one eye shut.” “No great man was ever cumbered with women-kind,” he declared. “Those who were, fell.”
“If you quote Mark Antony and Napoleon to me I shall shriek,” she threatened. “I wish we were entirely of the same way of thinking in other matters. I would soon convert you as to this.” “You should accept my obduracy as a compliment,” he said. “If association with you had not its effect upon me I should automatically forget your sex.”
“I should never let you,” she assured him.
THEY were promenading the deck together. It was during the hour before dinner and they climbed to the boat deck and walked on the windward side to avoid the crowd. Here they were almost alone.
“My mind this afternoon,” Catherine confided, “has, in intervals of work, been engrossed by thoughts of my own future. When do we reach Monte Carlo?”
“Next Thursday,” he replied.
“How long do we stay there?” she inquired.
“At least a week,” he answered. “One of my ministers is coming from Moscow to meet me, and there will be an emissary from a foreign country waiting for me.” “And after that?”
“We shall go to Moscow via Naples and Budapest. So far as you are concerned when we arrive there, you will naturally be your own mistress. I hope, however, that you will continue to help me, at any rate until Andrew returns. I do not like to speak of money in connection with such services as you have rendered me, but I shall of course see that financially you are une mbarrassed. ’ ’
“Thank you,” she said. “In any case I quite intend to come to Moscow with you”’
He was silent, for a cause which, had she know it, would have flattered her.
“When you asked me to come with you and I, by the by, refused,” she continued, “I knew nothing about Monte Carlo. I took it for granted that I should be taken direct to Moscow.”
“You are disappointed?”
“Not I,” she laughed. “What girl in the world would be disappointed at the chance of seeing Monte Carlo for the first time in her life! All the same, I am looking forward very much indeed to returning to my own country. Thanks to you, my friends are coming. The grand duchess has offered me a home, and I have no doubt that Nicholas would give me a post as his secretary if I asked him. Czars have to have secretaries, I suppose.”
NICHOLAS IMANOFF will never be Czar,” he told her grimly. “I haven’t saved Russia from the Bolshevists to hand it back to one of his breed.”
“Really!” she murmured. “Well, Nicholas quite thinks he is going to be. He’d look rather wonderful, wouldn’t he, in white uniform and a crown?”
“For an exceedingly sensible young woman, you talk a lot of nonsense,” he said.
“When I’m in the mood,” she confided, “no one can stop me. Still, if you don’t press me to remain with you after we get to Moscow, I shall always believe that it is because you are afraid of me.”
“You will be quite right,” he confessed. “I am already.”
She laughed softly and turned to the captain, whom they had just encountered, and who had paused with his hand to his cap.
“Such a confession, captain!” she exclaimed. “Mr. Samara here, who fears no cutthroat, laughs at bullets, and despises bombs, is afraid of me.”
“I do not wonder,” was the prompt reply. “It is his peace of mind which is in danger.”
“It may be that,” she reflected. “It is at any rate a flattering thought.”
“What are we to do with your Russian lunatic?” the captain inquired, turning to Samara.
The latter shrugged his shoulders. “What do I care? Keep him in irons until I have left the ship, and then, whatever you will. You’d much better have left him where I sent him.”
The captain smiled. “Sometimes,” he admitted, “I think I agree that the ways of a few hundred years ago were better.” He passed on and Samara and his companion continued their walk.
“I have quite made up my mind as to my future,” Catherine declared. “I wish to come to Moscow with you, to find apartments in the city pending the arrival of my friends, and to continue my work as your secretary—your junior secretary, of course—until that unfortunate young man in New York recovers. I am deeply interested in your work. I think there are certain aspects of the life and evolution of my country which you understand better than any other person. Don’t send me away from you, please, Mr. Samara. Remember that you are entirely responsible for my coming.”
“Why the devil shouldn’t I?” he demanded with sudden harshness. “You’ll leave me as soon ag you’ve learnt all you want to learn. You haven’t come at all in the spirit in which I appealed to you to come. You patronize my work. In your heart you despise it.”
SHE contrived to keep by his side without loss of dignity, although he had turned abruptly round and was making for the steps.
“You are very severe all of a sudden,” she complained. “Where are you off to in this tremendous haste?”
“To the smoke-room to drink cocktails,” he growled. “Beware of me at dinner-time. I may have a few home truths to tell you.”
“I shall come with you,” she declared. “I need sustenance myself. I wish I did not look so strong. Then you would perhaps be more sympathetic. And as regards those cocktails you are a very fraudulent person. Nothing that you ever drink makes the slightest difference to you.”
He laughed hardly. “You are quite right,” he admitted. “It doesn’t. Still there are times when I like the fire in my veins even when it leads nowhere. Come if you wish to, by all means.”
They sat at a corner table in the smoke-
room, the object as usual of a great deal of attention, although few people at any time ventured upon more than a respectful salute. When she had finished her aperitif, Catherine rose.
“Go and change now, please,” she begged. “I feel that our conversation at dinner-time may be interesting, and I don’t want you to sit here and drink more cocktails and be half an hour late.”
He rose to his feet but only to let her pass. For a few minutes after she had gone he remained silent. To the bartender, who paused before him in expectation of a further order, he only shook his head. He told himself that a certain minor crisis in his life was arising, and that he must meet it with a cool brain. He had been conscious of its near approach ever since he had found it more easy to remember the cling of Catherine’s arm around his neck than the hiss of the knife with its sickening little stab, from which she had saved him. Even now there was a strange and unfamiliar sensation of pleasure as he recalled the clasp of her fingers, the touch of her cheek against his. Folly for any man. Lunacy for him!
YET, at its very outset, the spontaneity of their dinner conversation was ruined by an untoward and ugly episode. The second steward bore down upon them almost as soon as they had taken their places, while Samara was still stroking the green-eyed black cat that came to his chair every evening. He was carrying a silver tureen which he set down upon the table.
“Our under-chef,” he confided, “has sent you some Russian borsch soup, with some cream sauce. He was in service once with a Russian family at Nice and learnt something of their cooking.”
“Very good if it is really bórsch,” Catherine remarked. “Am I to have a little?” The steward smiled reassuringly. “The chef has prepared plenty, madam,” he said, as he served it. “I was especially to recommend the sauce.”
Samara poured some of the latter a little absently into his plate and held it toward the cat.
“You’ll never get rid of him if you give him cream, sir,” the man observed, as he turned away.
Samara held out his hand toward Catherine, wrho was about to commence her dinner.
“Wait,” he insisted, “just one moment.”
She saw the horror creep into his face and leaned over. The cat lay on its side. Already its eyes were half closed and its limbs were stiffening. The second steward who had been talking at a table close at hand, came hurrying back.
“Why, what’s wrong with the cat, sir?” he exclaimed. “Seems as though he were going to have a fit.”
“It is your chef’s specially prepared dish that is the matter with the cat,” Samara said dryly. “You had better take the rest of it to the doctor.”
The man’s face was white with horror. “Just a moment, sir,” he begged. “I’ve got to get down to the kitchens first. I wonder whether you’d mind coming with me?”
Samara rose and followed him. Two of the stewards carried out the cat. The chief steward himself came and removed the dishes from the table. There was a babel of conversation. No one knew exactly what had happened.
THERE was a certain drama in the little scene, although Samara himself was chiefly conscious of a sense of bitter anger. The under-chef in his soiled white clothes and white cap stood, with folded arms, leaning against the wall in the doctor’s little consulting room. The doctor was present, also the chief steward and the captain. The latter wasted little time upon the matter.
“Look here,” he said, to the young man. “You declare that there was nothing harmful in the soup or the sauce you sent up for Mr. Samara.”
“It was made as I have always made it,” was the sullen reply. “As for the cat, he has fits. It was that and nothing else.” “Very well,” the captain continued. “There is the sauce upon the table. Doctor, I dare say you can find a wineglass. You shall drink a wineglassful and wre will believe you.”
Something of the chef’s bravado left him. He watched the sauce poured into a medicine glass which the doctor held out toward him. He took it into his hands and Continued on page 66
Continued, from page 64 hesitated for a moment. Then he dashed it on to the floor.
“I will not drink it,” he declared. “You can not force me to.”
The captain nodded to a sailor who had been waiting outside.
“Put him in irons at once,” he ordered. The man made a sudden spring for the door, but the chief steward caught him by the collar and swung him round. He stood shivering, helpless, but with a look of hate in his eyes. He glared at Samara and the desire to kill was mingled with the hate.
“I may fail and others may fail,” he cried, “but some day one will succeed!” Samara’s anger seemed to have passed. He looked at his would-be assassin curiously.
“You are a Russian?” he asked.
“Yes,” was the sullen reply.
“Why should you try to kill me—you and these others you speak of? I have worked hard for Russia.”
The man spat upon the floor. “You have worked hard for yourself,” he snarled. “You are an autocrat, worse than any czar who ever ruled at Peterhof. You’re a tyrant, an enemy of Soviet government. That is why we hate you. You stand for the personal; I, and all real Russian patriots, for the republic!”
They led him away. There was a look almost of sadness in Samara’s eyes as he turned to leave the cabin. The man was obviously one of an ignorant band of anarchists, ill educated, filled with poisonous doctrines. Yet a gleam of truth sometimes flashed out from unexpected places.
CATHERINE, a morning or so later, leaned over the white rail of the boat deck and watched the blue fires playing about the wires overhead.
“These Marconi people must bless you, Mr. Samara,” she observed.
“I think they are more disposed to curse me,” he answered. “They’ve had very little rest for the last twenty-four hours.”
She looked at him meditatively. He was, without a doubt, notwithstanding a certain uncouthness and an ungraceful stoop of his broad shoulders, a fine figure of a man. The touch of sunburn acquired during the last few days became him. She approved of the few gray hairs by his ears, the inflexible mouth, his eyes so full of color.
“I never thought I should like a man with blue eyes,” she said, irrelevantly. “Do you like me?” he asked.
She laughed ironically. “What a question! Why else should I be here, putting myself, as one of these dear old ladies said the other morning, ‘in a most difficult position—private secretary to, and traveling alone with, an unmarried man’? They don’t know what a tower of strength you are, do they?”
“I hope,” he answered gruffly, “that they have sense enough to realize that I have something else to think about these days besides playing the gallant.”
She glanced upward again at those blue fires which seemed ceaseless.
“One loses one’s sense of proportion out here at sea,” she ruminated. “I am inclined sometimes to forget that you are a very important person. This sort of thing reminds me,” she added, pointing to the wires overhead. “How many messages have you received to-day?”
“I have not counted,” he answered. “The last one from England is the most important. For the first time I am inclined to regret that this is not a Southampton boat. I think that I must go to London.”
“Delightful!” she murmured. “I can’t believe that it compares with New York, but I should like to see it.”
“You probably will, then,” he assured her. “The Prime Minister has invited me to visit him before I return to Moscow.” “If I were Andrew Kroupki,” she remarked, suggestively, “you would perhaps go a little further and tell me just what he wants to discuss with you.”
“There is no reason why you should not know,” he observed, after a moment’s hesitation. “Your own common sense can very likely visualize the situation. Naturally what I am doing is of immense interest to England. For the last fifteen years the Russian armies have been the greatest menace to peace in Europe. I have realized that myself, although I have been powerless to act. The rumored demobilization of even a portion of them is an event of the utmost importance to England and France.” .
“I quite understand that, Catherine
declared. “But tell me, are any of those messages from Berlin?”
A SMILE parted his lips, a smile which she was beginning to look for and appreciate. It was like the grin of a boy who sees mischief ahead. He pointed to the blue fires which were still snapping away above them.
“Hell!” he confided. “Hell and every kind of fury!”
“What fun!” she murmured. “When do we face the storm?”
“The first breath of it in Monte Carlo,” he replied. “Von Hartsen is meeting me there, and I don’t think he’s exactly carrying the olive branch.”
A messenger from the Marconi office brought Samara still another dispatch. He tore open the envelope and read it carefully.
“From the War Office at Moscow,” he remarked. “They’re deluged with inquiries from Berlin. I must send them a short reply.”
He strolled away and climbed the steps into the Marconi room. Catherine descended to the lower deck and made her way to her chair. She had scarcely seated herself before she became aware of a new neighbor on her left-hand side—a middleaged man with dark beard and mustache, wearing tortoise-shell-rimmed spectacles and a traveling cap with long flaps. At her approach, he laid down the book he had been reading and glanced cautiously around.
“I have been looking for an opportunity of a word with you, Miss Borans,” he said, speaking with a thick guttural accent. “It is very difficult to find you alone.”
“Who are you, and what do you want?” she asked coldly.
“My name is Lorenzheim,” he told her, “Karl Lorenzheim. I am a friend. Look at this, please.”
He handed her a crumpled-up visitingcard of Kirdorff’s. On the back was a line scrawled in pencil:
“Lorenzheim is a friend. You can treat him with confidence.”
“So you know Colonel Kirdorff,” she remarked.
“I am a member of the club of which he is secretary,” her new acquaintance confided. “He is a Russian and I am a German, but we are friends. We see things the same way. We are all friends. He desired me to make myself known to you when a safe opportunity occurred.”
“VT'OU are very mysterious,” she ob1 served. “What do you mean by a ‘safe opportunity’? ”
“When Mr. Samara is not around,” was the significant reply.
She twisted the card which he had given her in her fingers and returned it to him.
“Mr. Samara is on the upper deck attending to some Marconigrams,” she said. “He will be back directly.”
“Marconigrams, eh!” Mr. Lorenzheim repeated. “You see them—what?“
“I know what some of them are about,” she assented.
He smiled. “You are very cautious,” he declared. “I do not blame you, but you can trust me. Mr. Samara,” he went on, “is a very great man, but he is a great man for his own people—not for yours or mine.”
“I know nothing about his relations with your country,” she said. “So far as regards my own friends he has treated them with great generosity.”
“Generosity!” Mr. Lorenzheim scoffed. “What is this you say? Generosity, indeed! There is Nicholas Imanoff, who should to-day be ruler of Russia, selling bonds in New York. Who rules the country in his stead? Samara! Oh, you all say he’s a great man because he drove out the Bolshevists. I tell you that the Bolshevists committed suicide with their follies and excesses. If Samara had not dealt them their death blow, Russia would have reverted to a monarchy fifteen years ago.”
“That may be,” she replied. “I still say that Samara has acted generously in summoning my friends back to Russia.” Mr. Lorenzheim took off his spectacles and polished them. “We must not quarrel, you and I,” he said tolerantly. “You call it generosity. I call it folly. Never mind! I have been looking for you to ask you a question. What, you tell me is as though you told it to Kirdorft himself. We want to know whether Samara Continued on page 68
Continued from page 66 has any idea of tampering with the second army, and whether his messages from Moscow have spoken of any disaffection among the soldiers themselves.”
CATHERINE moved a little uneasily in her chair. She was suddenly conscious of a sense of immense repugnance to this intruder, to his message and all its suggestions. It was with almost a feeling of horror that she realized how entirely it was taken for granted that she was occupying her present position under false pretenses, that she was in reality a spy upon the man for whom she was supposed to be working. Her tone when she spoke lacked all enthusiasm.
“There is nothing definite at present which I can impart to you,” she declared.
He turned and looked at her through his bespectacled eyes.
“You do not doubt my credentials?” he asked. “Kirdorff has known me for many years.”
“It has not occurred to me to doubt anything that you have said,” she replied. “I am not used, however, to having my new occupation taken so much for granted.”
“Occupation?” he repeated, mystified “As a spy.”
He shrugged his shoulders. “Those who toil for great causes,” he said, “must stoop sometimes to displeasing methods. Pardon if I return to my book. We speak again together. Mr. Samara approaches
Samara carried more dispatches in his hand. He paused in front of Catherine’s chair.
“Come and walk with me,” he invited a little abruptly. “I have something to say to you.”
She rose at once and he led the way to a sheltered corner aft where there were usually some empty chairs. He ensconced her in one and remained himself standing beside her.
“We shall land in three days,” he announced. “It is essential that after my meeting with von Hartsen I should go at once to Moscow, or remain in Monte Carlo for a few days. There is, however, this invitation from the Prime Minister of England to be dealt with. Will you undertake a commission there for me?” They were nearing the Straits and she looked thoughtfully out across the sea to the bare rocky coast of North Africa. Samara watched her with impatience.
“I wonder whether you realize,” she said at last, “that it is less than a fortnight since I came to your rooms from the Hotel Weltmore Typewriting Bureau to work for you?”
“Twenty-seven hours less than a fortnight,” he assented. “What of it?”
“You have already entrusted me with a great many of your secrets,” she reminded him, “and the little you know of me is not altogether, from your point of view, a recommendation. I belong, in fact, to a political party opposed to your views and your system of government. Don’t you think that you are placing a little too much trust in me?”
“I do not,” he answered, “or I should not ask you to undertake this mission to London. You are a patriot and even though your sympathies are still engrossed in a romantic but hopelessly outdated cause, you admit that I have done a great work for Russia. Why should I not trust you? When I find you embroiled in a monarchist plot it will be time enough for me to send you to a fortress.”
“Would you ever have the heart to do that?” she whispered, looking at him with a provocative gleam in her eyes.
“Heart!” he repeated gruffly. “I have no heart. If you betrayed my confidence, I should see that you have what you deserved.” .
“Nevertheless,” she persisted, with a return to her more serious manner, “I think you are disposed to put too much trust in me.” .
He looked down at her with the momentary irritation of an elder toward a child.
“Neither a guarantee of secrecy, he declared, “nor absolute immunity from theft, can ever be purchased or built up with bolts and bars. Trust, considered and calculated trust, is safety. To know where to bestow it is, I admit, a form of genius. If I seem to you flamboyantly trustful, it is your judgment that is wrong. I believe in your sense of honor and my own instinct. Kindly let that end the discussion.”
THAT night they were anchored in the Bay of Gibraltar, in the shadow of the great Rock, ablaze with its thousand pinpricks of fire. Samara was summoned from the dinner table to receive a call from the governor who had come aboard in his launch, and Catherine leaned for some time over the side of the ship watching the little boats below with their wares of fruit and flowers and tinsel merchandise. Presently room was made at the foot of the gangway for the Governor’s launch, and he and Samara stood for a moment or two at the top of the steps talking. Then the former took his leave and soon after Samara found his way to her side.
“Come on the upper deck,” he invited. “These people below are so noisy.”
She obeyed at once. They sat on one of the fixed seats with their back to the fortress and as far removed as possible from the hubbub of the extemporized market. She asked him a question about the Governor.
“A pleasant man and very friendly,” he told her. “Naturally as an old soldier he was interested in the demobilization of our armies. He was very anxious for me to go and spend the night at Government House.”
“Why didn’t you?” she asked idly.
He made some casual answer, but his sudden realization of the truth was a shock to him. A celebrated French traveler was staying there whom he was anxious to meet, and an English writer whose works had interested him, yet the desire not to leave the ship was paramount. He frowned as he looked meditatively across the bay to the lights of Algeciras.
“I shall go to London if you wish me to,” she announced abruptly.
“I imagined you would,” he replied. “Your mission of course will be more personal than official, but at the same time I shall entrust you with a message to the Prime Minister which I do not care to send through our own representatives there. We have three days more to talk of that, though.”
“I wish it were longer,” she confessed. “You do not regret having come, then?” he asked.
“I have never regretted it for an instant,” she assured him. “All the same, to me this voyage seems to grow in unreality every day. I can’t really believe that I have left New York behind, that we are here in European waters and that I am working day by day with you. It doesn’t seem part of my life—like something detached, something which, might have happened but didn’t.”
She turned to catch a glimpse of än expression in his face which startled her. There had been moments when she had almost felt terror of him.
“It has been an unusual experience for me,” he admitted. “I have never worked with a woman before.”
SHE laughed, suddenly. His way of alluding to their association appealed to her sense of humor as she thought of the long nights they had sat on deck, with the rushing of the wind around, the leaning stars and the long golden pathway to the moon; of their long talks and their long silences. More than once tragedy, passing by, had lifted them out of the world of commonplace things and forced them into a position of more than ordinary intimacy. Was it his sense of honor, of guardianship, she wondered, which had kept him always so aloof, or was it that she herself made no appeal to him? She had remained all the time perfectly natural, had made no effort at any artificial reserve. Vaguely she found herself somewhat resenting his attitude. Most of the men on board had, in their own way, directly or indirectly, done their best to intimate the fact that they found her attractive. Samara had never once even looked at her as though he recognized the desirability which made other men hang round her chair and seek her company. An irresistible longing to evoke a more personal note in him assailed her.
“You find it as easy to work with me as with a man?” she asked.
“I have never noticed the difference,” he answered calmly. “You are very efficient.”
Her lips relaxed and she smiled at him. “I am a great deal nicer to look at than your other secretary,” she said reflectively. "I do you more credit, too.” Continued on page 70
Continued, from page 68 “In what way?”
“Poor Andrew Kroupki!” she murmured. “He looks half-starved and very miserable. I, on the other hand, look well fed and content. No one would suspect you of ill-treating me.”
“One does not choose a secretary for his personal appearance,” he remarked.
“Some men do, I am afraid,” she replied.
SAMARA looked at her and she was not quite so sure of herself. In the darkness his face seemed more dominant than ever, his mouth almost cruel in its strength. Only his eyes were a little disturbing.
“You don’t imagine that that sort of thing would appeal to me?” he asked scornfully.
“I wondered what does appeal to you,” she sighed. “Evidently I don’t.”
“How do you know that?” he demanded.
She shrugged her shoulders. “How does a woman generally know?” she retorted.
She had an indefinable sense of disaster —or triumph. She suddenly felt the clasp of his arm around her waist, the touch of his fingers upon her hair and cheek. She had not before doubted her ability to meet any situation which might arise, but in this moment of trial she failed utterly and helplessly. She was suddenly weak in all her limbs. She made not the slightest resistance to a thing which had never yet happened to her, which she had never, for a moment, contemplated. His eyes seemed like fires, but softer—softer every moment. The cruel lines of his mouth, too, seemed to have relaxed. His lips touched hers firmly yet softly, lingered there while passion grew. She was almost swooning in his arms . . .
(Another exciting installment in this dramatic story will appear in the April 15