The Great Samara
E. PHILLIPS OPPENHEIM
AN ENGLISHMAN seated upon a divan in one of the lofty rooms of the Salons Prives nudged the arm of his companion, newly arrived from England. He was by way of being showman and had been pointing put the notabilities of the place.
“Do you see the fair young man moving round the table on the left?” he asked.
“Good-looking fellow with a scar on his face? Yes, who is he?”
“In his way a very interesting person,” was the earnest reply. “That is Prince Frederick of Wehrenzollern. They say that he is the most popular young man in .Germany.”
“I was reading about him only last week,” the other .observed. “One of the papers was saying that he had jnodelled himself entirely upon our present King when he was the same age; goes in for all sorts of sports and is always doing something thoroughly democratic.”
“If Germany is ever foolish enough to discard her republic, there goes the future Kaiser,” his companion announced.
The young man in question made a very slow progress through the Rooms. He apparently met friends at every moment, with most of whom he stopped to talk, and although he seemed scarcely in the place for the purpose of gambling, he occasionally risked a twenty-franc piece at the tables. Presently he passed out of the ken of his two observers, and, having completed a tour of the Rooms as though in unsuccessful search of someone, collected his hat and cane in the cloak-room and strolled out. He was greeted everywhere with a great deal of attention, and he was obviously exceedingly careful to return all salutations. As soon as he was alone, howeve?, a somewhat supercilious smile took the place of his apparent bonhomie, and he yawned once or twice on his way to the Sporting Club. Here he was again received with great consideration, and made his way up the stairs into the smaller roulette rooms. An elderly man of exceedingly aristrocratic appearance mcved eagerly toward him from one of the little groups. Prince Frederick welcomed him with a sigh of re'ief.
“I have been looking everywhere for you, General,” he declared. “Come and tell me all the news.”
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 New York. This group also is violently opposed to Samara’s policies. Samara meets the royalists, at Catherine’s suggestion, and extends them a guarded invitation to return to the new Russia. He asks Catherine to go to Europe with him as his secretary. She declines but just as his boat pulls out joins him on board, saying that she had changed her mind. On board ship their relationship tends to become more personal than professional, as they approach Monte Carlo.
They moved off towards the bar.
“There is no news,” the older man replied. “He has not yet arrived.”
Prince Frederick seemed disappointed.
“I thought the boat was due in yesterday,” he observed.
“It was due,” the general assented, “but it has been delayed by bad'weather. I am expecting to hear at any moment that it is in the bay.”
THE two sat in the corner of the bar. In his own country the Prince always drank beer. Here, he called for a mixed vermouth. They spoke for a little time upon incidents connected with his journey. It seemed that he had only reached Monte Carlo that afternoon.
“It is a relief,” the general declared with a little sigh, “to be in a place like this, my dear Frederick, where you
and I can meet and talk openly. Even though I was your tutor, people whisper in Berlin if we are seen much together, especially since I became a member of the Government. You have been as busy as usual, I suppose?”
Prince Frederick yawned.
“Lucky no one at the bank knows how little work I really do there,” he confided.
“It is not necessary for you to do any at all,” the general reminded him. “The directors are all our friends and members of our party.”
“All the same,” the young man declared, sipping his vermouth, “it is a grind. That dear English relative of mine in whose footsteps I am supposed to be treading, only had to pose as a democrat in sentiment—not to transform himself into a bank clerk. I hate the atmosphere of these places. The camp and the barracks are my home.”
His mentor smiled tolerantly.
“You must remember, my dear Frederick,” he said, “that until our day comes it is as well lor you to keep your military instincts as far as possible in the background. The bourgeoisie would be shaking their heads and likening you to your respected great-grandfather if you gave them the opportunity. That side of it will come later. All that I pray is that I may live to see it.”
“All good Germans must pray for that,” the prince agreed, lighting a cigarette. “We have become giants of commerce during the last twenty years simply because we are a great people and are bound to succeed in anything we undertake—but at heart we are a military nation.”
The general looked at his pupil and smiled fondly.
“It is the blood,” he murmured.
“Tell me, the latest news of this man Samara." Prince Frederick demanded a little sharply.
The general frowned.
“It is very hard to speak of the matter coolly," he declared. “We Germans made Russia a military nation. We trained their men, we made their guns and llying machines, we taught and equipped them, from conscript to General. We constructed a mighty engine of destruc-
tion ready for our use when the time came. It suited the old regime. The soldier was the only man who could be sure of regular food and comfortable living, and every one wanted to be in the army.
“Now, under the new order, everything is changed. Industrially and agriculturally Russia is forging ahead, and now, without warning to anybody, Samara calmly announced to the world that he desires to reduce his army to the proportions suggested by the League of Nations and insists that he needs the soldiers for industrial developments. His representative in Moscow told Baron Gusman plainly a few days ago that the Russian Government no longer recognized any military understanding with Germany.”
“What about our own Cabinet?” .the prince asked eagerly. “How do they take the matter?”
“Their attitude,” the general replied, “is, so far as it goes, satisfactory. I am here as a special envoy, instructed to protest formally against any further demobilization of the Russian armies, to remind Samara of our previous agreements, and to demand an explanation of his present policy. Except for a handful of Socialists, the motion in favor of my mission was unanimous.”
“They say Samara is a great autocrat,” Prince Frederick reflected. “Supposing he takes high ground.”
His companion glanced around the room and, although they were in a retired spot, he dropped his voice.
“Then he may bring the day of fulfilment nearer,” he said. “Samara’s hold upon the people is as yet unproved, and propaganda in the army has already commenced.”
A young man who had been standing upon the threshold as though in search of someone, suddenly recognized the general and advanced. He bowed respectfully to Prince Frederick and handed a despatch to the former.
“A wireless from the American boat, sir,” he announced. “She is in sight and expects to land her passengers within the hour.”
The general tore open the envelope and read its contents.
“Samara will see me at six o’clock to-night at the Hotel de Paris,” he announced.
“Then by dinner time tonight,” the general ended for him, “I shall know well, what is at the back of Samara’s mind. If he means to play us false—well, it will mean a complete reversal of our present foreign policy.
It may lead to changes even greater than that.”
A very beautiful and world-famous young woman looked in at the door and, recognizing Prince Frederick, smiled at him. He rose at once to his feet.
“I go to play baccarat with Mademoiselle,” he announced. “We have an arrangement.”
His mentor-in-chief laid a hand upon his shoulder.
“Amuse yourself,” he said, tolerantly, “but remember these little escapades are well kept secret. There are gossips amongst our newspapermen and the Princess Freda is exacting in some matters.”
The young man smiled.
“Even my sainted prototype,” he remarked, as he turned away, “had a weakness for beautiful ladies.”
AFTER playing roulette ■ for a time, General Von Hartsen took a stroll along the front, watching the great American steamer which had just arrived and finally presented himself at the Hotel de Paris at the appointed hour. Samara was engaged in the task of sorting his letters with Catherine’s help. He received his visitor at once, however, shook hands with him and motioned him to a seat.
“Is this a visit of court e s y, General,” he demanded, “or am I to consider it, in any sense of the word, official?”
“Friendly, if you please,
sir,” was the slightly formal reply, “but also official. I am the bearer of representations from the Government in whose labors I have the honor to share, to the Chairman of the Council of the Russian Republic.”
Samara shrugged his shoulders and turned away from the letters. He had the air of one preparing to receive battle.
“In that case, General,” he begged, “pray proceed. I am entirely at your service.”
The latter glanced courteously but questioningly towards Catherine.
“The young lady,” he suggested.
“Let me present you,” Samara interrupted. “General von Hartsen—Miss Borans, my secretary.”
The general bowed low, but his expression was still a puzzled one. His eyes remained fixed upon Catherine.
“Miss Borans,” he repeated. “You will pardon me, I am sure, but I am uhder the impression that we must have met before.”
“I think not,” Catherine replied, shaking her head slightly.
“Unless you have ever been a visitor to the United States, it is improbable,” Samara intervened. “Miss Borans has lived there all her life.”
“In that case I am doubtless deceived by a likeness,” the general confessed. “You will forgive my adding, Mr. Samara, that our present conference must be a private one.”
“I have no secrets from my secretary,” Samara insisted. “Miss Borans is discretion itself. She would in any case handle any report of our interview which I might have to submit to my Council.”
Von Hartsen bowed.
“Very well, sir,” he said, “I will proceed. I am directed by the ministers of the German Republic to ask you for full particulars concerning this proposed demobilization of a portion of your armies and to enquire further what change of policy such a step is meant to indicate. I think I need not be more explicit.”
“Pray sit down,” Samara said. “Smoke a cigar if you
will, and I will tell you all about it. I will tell you my exact views as to the establishment of what I term mercenary armies.”
The general’s face grew a shade sterner. He put back his cigar which he had been in the act of clipping, and folded his arms.
“I am at your service, sir,” he announced.
The general listened with more or less patience to all that was in Samara’s mind, and found the situation a great deal worse than he had expected. Towards the conclusion of their interview he became very angry indeed.
“I consider that the course of action which you propose, Mr. Samara, is entirely at variance with your obligations towards my country,” he announced.
“I recognize no obligations towards your country,” was the brusque reply.
General Von Hartsen found self-control an exceedingly difficult matter.
“You recognize, I trust, Mr. Samara,” he said, “that such a proceeding will be considered by my Government as an unfriendly act?”
“I’m not afraid that you’ll go to war about it, if that is what you mean,” was the prompt retort. “You won’t waste your resources on us while England and France are on earth. And to be perfectly frank with you, General, if it was ever in your mind to use any part of the Russian army for any German military enterprise, I can assure you that the idea was hopeless from the first. I do not intend that during my tenure of office the blood of a single Russian peasant shall be shed upon the battle field.”
“You’re more of a pacifist than I ever believed possible for a man of vigorous action, Mr. Samara,” the general sneered.
“That may easily be so,” Samara assented. “I’m a pacifist, at any rate, so far as this, that I do not intend to support a standing army. Every Russian citizen, as he grows up, will be taught how to fight in his country’s defence if ever it should become necessary.”
Von Hartsen rose to his feet.
“You realize, Mr. Samara, I suppose,” he said, “that even at home you will have to face something like a cataclysm. Your men do not wish for demobilization.” “They will wish for it fast enough when they see what I have to offer them,” was the confident reply. “America has lent me enough money to provide for a million of them* and Great Britain has asked me to explain my needs so far as regards the others. I am sending an envoy there tomorrow.”
SAMARA, with his hands in his pockets, walked to the window, and stood looking out at the great front of the Casino and at the gardens below, whistling softly to himself.
“Well,” he remarked presently, “it’s a stupid game. German diplomacy is always so obvious. As though any one couldn’t see that our armies were meant to be the cat’s-paw to snatch out of the fire the chestnuts of revenge. Russia will never fight in my day except in self-defence.”
“You might have civil war,” Catherine reminded him calmly.
Samara swung round on his heel.
“Civil war?” he growled. “About as much chance of
The general bowed coldly to Catherine and to Samara without extending his hand and took his leave.
it as the end of the world. The whole fault of the Russian as a politician is that he’s too indifferent. That’s why the Bolshevists were able to keep going as long as they did. The Russian wants peace and to go on as he is going. It is the aim of my life to see that he gets his wish. Miss Borans, listen to me for a moment, please.”
“I am listening,” she assured him.
“I hear from the Chief of Police that inquiries are being made in Moscow for suitable accommodation for pretty nearly all your Royalist friends. Well, I told them that they should be welcomed back to Russia and they are welcome, but I want it to be clearly understood that they must live and behave as ordinary citizens. They must recognize and observe the law and the government of the country.”
Catherine inclined her head.
“That seems reasonable,” she admitted.
"I do not imagine for a moment that they are foolish enough to entertain the idea of anything in the nature of a definite conspiracy,” Samara continued, “but if they did attempt anything of the sort, I should be quite powerless to help them. You will drop them a hint, perhaps?”
“I will certainly do so if I think it necessary,” she promised.
They parted a little stiffly, Samara to interview an emissary from Moscow, Catherine to spend a delightful hour wandering about the Gardens and Terrace of the little principality. She returned about eight and after dining alone in the spacious salon attached to Samara’s suite, was standing at the window gazing rather longingly at the curving arc of lights along the Terrace when Samara suddenly entered the room.
“You!” she exclaimed. “I thought you were dining with your man from Moscow?”
“I have dined with him,” Samara answered. “I have sent him back home to-night. General von Hartsen’s attitude does not disturb me in the least, but it is necessary to prepare them at the War Office.”
“And you?” she enquired.
“I have other affairs to attend to here and shall await your return from London. You will leave to-morrow morning, or rather at midday.”
“Do you wish to work now?” she asked.
“Don’t be absurd,” he scoffed. “Whoever works on his first night in Monte Carlo? I wish to take you to the Casino and to the Club.”
She moved towards the door but on the threshold she looked back at him reflectively.
“I am not at all sure,” she declared, “that I wish to go out with you.”
He returned her gaze without moving a muscle.
“Because I kissed you and haven’t apologized?” he asked.
She laughed softly.
“Not quite that,” she admitted.
“What then?” he demanded.
Her eyes mocked him inscrutably.
“What a baby you are when you leave your own world for a minute,” she said, disappearing through the door.
AN HOUR later they were seated side by side on a - divan in the Sporting Club. People were standing three and four deep around tables and play was for the moment impossible. Catherine, serenely beautiful, and with her intense curiosity concealed by force of habit, was entirely content. Samara was moodily interested.
“But who are these people?” she asked him. “I’ve never seen such jewels even at the opera at New York. And the men—here at last is a new type.”
Her companion smiled.
“I am a poor showman,” he admitted. “I have been here twice before in my life, but even I recognize some faces. There is Prince Artelberg, the Austrian Premier, the man who has very nearly made a country of Austria again.”
“But the lady with him, in blue silk?”
“One seldom recognizes the ladies,” Samara answered drily. “The two men passing by are English. The nearer one is in the British Embassy at Moscow. The tall man with the grey beard and the small order is the King of Gothland. Alas, I am recognized! He is coming to speak to me.”
The king detached himself from a small group of friends and crossed the room towards Samara, who had risen to his feet.
“A most amazing meeting!” the former exclaimed, holding out his hand. “You are on your way home from America, I presume?”
“I landed this evening, your Majesty,” Samara replied. “You will accept my heartiest congratulations on the success of your mission,” the king begged. “But what about my cousins? What will they have to say to your altruistic efforts?”
Samara shook his head.
“One can but hope,” he said, ‘ that they will appreciate the advance of the inevitable.”
The king smiled.
“I fancy that you will find General von Hartsen rather a handful,” he remarked. “He has been here waiting for you for days, fuming like a madman most of the time. Present the young lady, if you please.”
“With your Majesty’s permission,” Samara replied. “Miss Borans, my temporary secretary—the King of Gothland. Miss Borans has been good enough to replace Andrew Kroupki, who was taken ill in New York.”
The king bowed and held out his hand.
“To be secretary to Mr. Samara,” he said, “is to stand behind the curtains of the diplomatic world. I congratulate you, Miss Borans.”
“I find the work exceedingly interesting, your Majesty,” she observed.
The king looked at her curiously.
“You are American?” he enquired.
“I have lived there most of my life,” she answered.
“It is curious,” he continued. “You have a family likeness to some friends of mine. You stay here for long, Mr. Samara?”
“Perhaps four days, sir,” was the reluctant reply.
“I am at the Hotel de Londres,” the king announced. “If you have the leisure, please sign your name in my book.”
He bowed to Catherine, nodded to Samara, and passed on. The two resumed their seats.
“I am quite sure,” the former said demurely, “that Miss Loyes would have come up to your room herself, if she had realized that it might mean a trip to Europe and an introduction to a king.”
“There is worse to come,” Samara muttered, glancing apprehensively at two approaching figures. “I thought this fellow, at any rate, was never going to speak to me again.” •
General Von Hartsen clicked his heels, bowed and held out his hand.
“Mr. Samara,” he said, “my young friend here desires the advantage of a personal acquaintance with you. Will you pardon my taking this opportunity? Prince Frederick of Wehrenzollern—Mr. Samara.”
Samara studied the young man with interest as he shook hands. The latter smiled frankly.
“My name may convey to such a world-famed democrat as you, sir,” he observed, “unpleasant reminiscences. I have resumed my title it is true, but I am a German citizen and a faithful subject of the Republic. I work in a bank. The General tells me that you have just arrived from New York.”
“This afternoon,” Samara assented.
“You will do me the honor of, perhaps,” Prince Frederick continued, “presenting me to this young lady.”
Samara acquiesced without comment.
“Is it possible that you are an American, mademoiselle?” the young prince murmured as he bowed low over her hand.
“I have lived there all my life,” Catherine assured him.
“And this is your first visit to Monte Carlo?”
“My first visit to Europe.”
“It is amazing,” he murmured. “You stay for some time here, I hope?”
Catherine was imbibing the atmosphere of diplomacy.
“It is uncertain,” she replied.
“You will permit, me, perhaps,” he ventured, with another bow, “to show you the Rooms? Mr. Samara will not object?” he added, turning to the latter.
“By all means.”
The two young people strolled off together, without waiting for Samara’s somewhat surprised acceptance of the situation. General Von Hartsen watched them critically.
“Magnificent,” he exclaimed. "The blue-blooded aristocracy of the east and the red-blooded aristocracy of the west. Mademoiselle is doubtless the daughter of one of these great American millionaires.”
“Mademoiselle’s income, so far as I know,” Samara replied drily, “is thirty dollars a week, the salary I pay her. She happens to be my secretary. I thought I had mentioned the fact.”
WHAT the hell’s this?” Samara demanded, as he entered the salon on the following morning and found a cardboard box the size of a washing basket on the table.
“Roses,” Catherine replied, raising her head from the interior which she had been examining. “The most wonderful I have ever seen in my life. For me, too! And from a prince! I’m glad I came to Europe.”
“A prince who is also a bank clerk,” Samara scoffed. “Believe me, the world has finished with princes.”
“This one was very pleasant,” Catherine confided. “He invited me to spend the greater part of to-day with him.” “You told him you were going to London, of course?” Samara asked quickly.
“I certainly did not. Ought I to have done so? I rather thought that was between us.”
Samara nodded his approval.
“They wouldn’t suspect you of being a real envoy,” he observed. “That is one reason why I am sending you. Still there is no need to run unnecessary risks. You have had your coffee?”
“An hour ago,” she answered, “and packed my things, and walked on the Terrace.”
“With your princeling?”
She shook her head.
“He was invisible,” she sighed. “Of course it may have . been that he didn’t know that I was going to be there. He spoke of a party at the Carlton last night, wherever that may be. Perhaps he was late.”
“Perhaps he was,” Samara agreed.
“It seems a little unfortunate,” she murmured, as she poured out the coffee, “that I am .leaving Monte Carlo so soon. I was never so great a success at the Hotel Weltmore in New York. On my first day here, a king has told me that I remind him of some friends of his, and a prince has invited me to luncheon and sent me roses.”
“Just as well you’re leaving,” Samara growled “Your head would soon be turned.”
“I am very well balanced,” she assured him.
“How about your memory?” he asked. “I hope your flirtations haven’t driven the serious matters out of your head altogether.”
“Absolutely,” she confessed. “What am I going to London for? I am sure I don’t know.”
“In that case you had better stay behind,” he sug gested gruffly.
She laughed in derision.
“My dear master,” she said, “there isn’t a word or » point of the whole thing that isn’t in my brain. As an envoy I’m going to be the greatest success of modern times. I shall be irresistibly logical, delicately persuasive. What sort of a man is the British Prime Minister, please?”
“A married man with a large family and serious views,” Samara warned her, “and as for politics he is as sincere a democrat as I am.”
“I won’t expound my little hobbies about government then,” she promised. “What a pity you aren’t coming with me.”
“If I could make the journey,” he replied, coldly, “there would be no need for you to go.”
“I hope you won’t get into trouble here while I’m away,” she sighed. “It really is a most attractive place.”
“There is seldom any trouble here except of one’s own making,” was the somewhat curt rejoinder. “Monte Carlo is a sort of sanctuary for all thecriminals of the world. They meet here and exchange notes, but they look upon it as a sort of neutral ground. To attempt evil against a man in Monte Carlo is almost a breach of etiquette.”
HE ACCOMPANIED her presently to the railway station. Her bag had been sent on and they walked through the gardens, bathed in sunshine, along the Terrace and waited a few moments for the lift. Catherine, humming softly to herself from sheer despair at her companion’s silence, was looking amazingly beautiful. It was as though all the youth of her nature had responded to the entrancing change in the conditions of her life.
In her neat traveling dress, with the great bunch of roses in her hand and her almost lizard-like absorption of the glinting sunshine she seemed to have imbibed with it the joyous spirit of her surroundings and the passing hour. The drabness of cities and of cramped labor were things utterly discarded. She was a young princess of the coming day, eager yet gracious. Samara, on the contrary, was not altogether at his best. His clothes, as was often the case, were ill-brushed; his hair and chin needed the services of a coiffeur. There was a streak of red in his eyes, too, and a shadow underneath them, as though the night had gone ill with him Catherine, as the lift rattled up, paused in humming, and looked at him critically.
“Were you late last night?” she inquired. “Moderately. I had a great many despatches to read.” “You have had no bad news from Moscow?”
He shook his head.
“None at all. Politically, everything seems to be reasonably quiet. It is from outside that the disturbance will come for some time. Our own people have scarcely realized yet the change which has come into their lives.” They were alone in the lift. She drew a little nearer to him.
“You are afraid of Germany, perhaps?”
He brushed aside the suggestion scornfully.
“I am afraid of no one,” he answered. “A certain clique of statesmen in Germany will be furious and will start an agitation against us. I doubt whether they will do any good. As I have already warned you. they will watch London closely. That is why I prefer to send you there in this manner, without letters or documents, rather than to make you the bearer of any written proposition.”
“You are placing a great deal of trust in me." she reflected, as they watched the approach of the train.
“There is no success in life possible for any one who has not learned to trust,” he declared.
The train came thundering in. Catherine's seat was found without difficulty. Samara stood in the corridor for a moment looking in at her.
“You are a strange person." she said, holding out her
hand. “Rather a bully and terribly unreasonable sometimes, but I shall be glad to see you again. Promise me that I may come back here, that you will not send word for me to go direct to Moscow or anything of that sort.”
“A statesman is always at the mercy of circumstances,” he reminded her, “but the Duma is not summoned to meet until the week after next and my arrival in Moscow before then would be premature. I think you may take it that I shall be here—awaiting your return on Saturday night.”
He backed away at the last urgent call, and stood on the platform while the train rolled out. There was nothing to be seen of Catherine, and he gazed carelessly into the passing windows. Suddenly he gave a start. A young man who had boarded the train at the last moment was leaning breathlessly down from the platform of his car, waving his hand to a friend. As he recognized them. Samara’s frown grew. An entirely new and unwelcome sensation sent him back to the hotel with a curse upon his lips.
/''CATHERINE was by no means a secretive person, '~-'4 but she had received a letter that morning of which she had said nothing to Samara. As soon as the train had started she took it from her handbag, spread it out and re-read it, a smile of amusement upon her lips. It was dated from the Hotel de Paris on the preceding night:
“Mademoiselle. The roses which I shall send you tomorrow as soon as the shops are opened bring too tardy a message. I cannot rest to-night without sending you a line to beg for your gracious permission to see you at the earliest possible opportunity, to assure you that since the moment we met, only a few hours ago, every other thought has been driven from my mind, every other woman’s face into which I have ever looked has become a blank.
Please believe in my sincerity as I believe in you.
There is no one so adorable in the world.
“Forgive me my presumption! It comes from a heart overfull. I count the minutes until I shall see you again.
The smile deepened.
Catherine laughed softly to herself. She tore the letter into small pieces, held her hand out of the window and let them go fluttering by. Then, while her handbag was open, she looked at herself in the little mirror, handled her powder-puff lightly for a moment, closed the bag and leaned back in her place. For a time she yawned, closed her eyes and dosed. She was awakened by the soft opening of the door of her compartment. She sat up and recognized the intruder with amazement.
“Prince Frederick!” she exclaimed.
He held out his hand.
“Please not,” he begged earnestly. “Even if you are angry with me, let it be ‘Frederick.’ I am not —not exactly supposed to be here.”
“I should think not,” she agreed, with decision. “Why are you?”
He closed the door and with some diffidence took the seat opposite hers.
“For the reason, mademoiselle,” he confessed,
“that I tried to express in my letter.”
“But this is absurd,” she protested. “I am going to England.”
“I know it,” he answered.
“So am I.”
She looked at him for a moment steadfastly. Then she glanced out of the window.
“You did not mention your intention yesterday,” she said.
“I had no idea of it myself,” he assured her.
“Do you wish me to understand that I am in any way connected with your journey?” she asked.
“I beg of you not to be angry, mademoiselle,” he rejoined, almost humbly. “You are the sole cause of it.”
“Then, if you will allow me to tell you so,” she said deliberately, “I think you are mad.”
“I think so myself,” he acknowledged. “I thought so all night. I have thought so every moment since we first met. But it is, after all, a glorious madness.”
She looked at him again, steadily. He was a personable man, dressed in grey tweeds cut after the English fashion, with shiny brown shoes of the shade she liked, fine linen and a well-chosen tie. His features were good, if a little over-reminiscent of an unpopular ancestry. There was weakness in his face but nothing much that was bad. So far as it was possible for any one to judge, he seemed to be in earnest.
“Would it cure you,” she enquired, “if I told you that this madness of which you speak is not in the least reciprocated?”
“That would be too much to hope for,” he admitted. “I am content to wait. I have not had a chance to speak to you seriously.”
“Seriously. How on earth could you be more serious?” she demanded.
He hesitated. He had sufficient tact to be aware that
he was going on dangerous ground. Young American ladies, he knew, were used to a great deal of freedom, and this one had doubtless been a little spoiled. It was scarcely a case for rushing tactics.
“Mademoiselle,” he said, “the Idea of my devotion is a new one to you. You have not accust omed yourself to it. Will you remember at least that we do not meet as strangers? I may claim the privileges of a traveling companion.”
“I suppose there is nothing to prevent your doing that,” she acquiesced, “but I might point that the remaining three seats in this compartment have been engaged in my name.”
“I shall leave, according to your wish, mademoiselle,” he promised. “The whole of the corresponding compartment next door is mine.”
Catherine began to laugh to herself. He watched her questioningly.
“You see it is my first visit to Europe,” she explained. “I had no idea that such things as this really happened.” “Far more wonderful things than this happen,” he assured her earnestly. “Your American men, mademoiselle, pardon me, but they have no sentiment. They would not throw convention to the winds as I have done—abandoned all my engagements to follow the person whom. I adore on the merest chance of a kindly word, to the one city in the world which I detest.”
“I’m not so sure,” she reflected. “Some of these American young men are fairly rapid.”
He shook his head.
“They are not capable of sentiment so intense.”
“The one I am engaged to is quite headstrong when he is roused,” Catherine remarked.
Prince Frederick glanced at her with a flash in his blue eyes which made him seem almost like a man.
“Engaged! You engaged!” he cried. “That is nothing.”
“My young man thinks that it’s a great deal,” she observed. “He very much disliked my coming to Europe. He’s on his way over here now.”
“Who is he? What is he?” Prince Frederick demanded. “I must know all about him.”
“He is called Nicholas,” she confided. “And he is —well, he’s very much what you are.”
“A banker,” her companion exclaimed. “But that is only a blind. I have taken a position in commerce so as to establish myself as a German citizen.”
“You have other ideas?” she asked him curiously.
He pulled himself up. “That is of no account,” he replied. “When does this young man arrive? You’re not going to England to meet him?”
“I don’t even know what boat he is on,” she declared.
The blue-liveried steward paused for a moment at the door with his customary announcement:
“Le dejeuner est servi madame, et monsieur.”
Prince Frederick rose to his feet.
“You will at least do me the great honor of lunching with me, mademoiselle?” he begged.
“I think I may go so far without indiscretion,” she assented.
Continued on page 53
Continued from page 25
Catherine sat in an arm-chair of a wellhung Pullman and looked out upon a patchwork country of tender greens, of woods bottomed with bluebells, spinneys and railway banks yellow with primroses, and orchards in which pink, waxy blossoms were already beginning to form. She was far too interested to notice the almost savage gloom of the young man who sat in the opposite chair.
“Mademoiselle Catherine,” he exclaimed at last.
She turned reluctantly away from the sun-bathed panorama of fertile country.
“My name is Miss Borans,” she told him. “I do not appreciate the use of my Christian name.”
“You are brutal,” he declared.
She looked at him without kindness, scarcely even with friendliness.
“You are a very absurd and spoilt young man,” she said. “You seem to fancy yourself aggrieved because I am not able to reciprocate in any way your very ridiculous feeling for me.
“You have no common sense. It is rather I who should be aggrieved. I did not encourage you to follow me. For the small services you have rendered me upon the train and the boat, I am obliged, but I should have preferred being without them. If you wish to remain on terms of friendship or acquaintance with me, please abandon that expression and talk like a reasonable human being.”
His face showed no signs of lightening. He seemed indeed thoroughly dejected and miserable.
“Why are you so cruel?” he begged.
Continued on page 55
Continued from page 53 “Why can you not be just a little kinder? What is there about me repugnant?”
“You are not in the least repugnant to me,” she assured him. “You simply do not interest me very much, and so far as my affections are concerned, they are engaged elsewhere.”
He watched the flying landscape for a moment, as though he hated the speed it indicated. For the hundreth time he tried to find courage.
“I’ve always heard that you American girls are so practical,” he said. “Why should you remain the secretary of a man like Samara? I am very rich, mademoiselle. I am very fond of travel.
It is not my intention to marry for years. Reasons which I cannot confide to you forbid it. There are secondary titles belonging to some of my estates.” He felt himself checked. “I always thought such things appealed to Americans,” he mumbled as a gleam in her eyes almost froze the words upon his lips.
“They tell me that you have reestablished duelling in Germany. Is it true?” she asked.
“It is true,” he admitted.
“I have a friend, in America,” she went on, “who is on his way over here now, who is supposed to be a very_ expert swordsman. I fancy that I failed to grasp your meaning just now. We are perhaps a little out of sympathy. I propose to read.”
She buried herself in an illustrated paper. Her companion rose to his feet, kicked a footstool out of his way, and with scowling face retreated into the smoking car. He ordered a drink and threw himself into a vacant chair.
“A little American typist,” he muttered. “A typist from the Hotel Weltmore.”
He struck the table with his fist. The few people in the car looked up in surprise.
He only scowled.
“I want that drink!” he shouted to the steward.
AT VICTORIA, Catherine smiled at - him quite pleasantly, but she had already engaged a porter. As she was stepping into the taxi-cab, however, to which he insisted upon escorting her, she vouchsafed a few disconcerting words of farewell.
“You can tell your little friend,” she said, “or General von Hartsen’s friend, that I am very much obliged for the careful way he handled my belongings when he searched my bag; and you can also congratulate him upon his amazing stealthiness when he entered my compartment last night and went through my baggage. I should like to know where he got his master key from!”
“I do not know what you are talking about,” the young man exclaimed.
“That is possibly true,” she admitted. “At the same time, the fact remains that I hate spies. You can also tell him this, that for the whole of the sixty seconds he was in my compartment, he was on the brink of eternity. I had a small revolver pointed at him through the bars of my bedstead and I am not sufficiently used to firearms for my finger to be absolutely steady upon the trigger, especially when one is traveling at fifty miles an hour.” “If what you have suggested has really happened,” Prince Frederick declared eagerly “I promise you—”
“You need promise me nothing,” she interrupted. “I suppose if I undertake a political mission I must risk the consequences. I am only surprised that people think this sort of thing worth while nowadays. But let me tell you this,” she concluded, leaning out of the taxi-cab window, “when the door first opened last night, and I saw the covered light of the torch, I thought that it was you, and if I hadn’t realized that it wasn’t, the second I did—well, I was too close to have missed. Good-bye.”
“A damned little American typist!” Prince Frederick muttered once more under his breath as the taxi-cab rolled off.
Catherine drove to a small hotel in a quiet but fashionable neighborhood where she found a room reserved and a letter awaiting her, the latter a formidablelooking document, in a large square envelope, with a coat-of-arms at the back. She tore it open and read:
“Downing Street, April 21: Dear
Madam: The Prime Minister desires me to say that he has heard from Mr. Samara of your presence in London, and, should you wish for an interview with
him he will be at liberty at five o’clock this afternoon, or at eleven o’clock tomorrow morning. He asks me in the meantime to suggest that if by any chance the nature of your mission should have been mentioned and you should be approached by representatives of the Press, it would be as well for you to preserve the strictest secrecy as to any communications you may have to make.
“Faithfully yours, dear Madam, Frank S. Peacock, Private Secretary.”
Catherine glanced at the clock, summoned a maid and ordered a bath. In an hour’s time she descended into the small lounge of the hotel. She was accosted immediately by a page boy carrying an enormous bunch of flowers.
“I am taking these up to your room, madam,” he announced. “The gentleman who left them is over there.”
Prince Frederick stepped eagerly forward. He was immaculately dressed in town clothes and carried a silk hat and cane in his hand. His expression was anxious and woebegone. He had decided to change his tactics.
“I have ventured to call,” he said, “to beg for your forgiveness in case you should have misconstrued anything I said this afternoon.”
“Very well,” she conceded. “I am willing to believe that it was, as you suggest, a misunderstanding.”
“You are alone here,” he went on eagerly. “You do not know London.
I, on the other hand, am well acquainted with it. Permit me the great honor of offering you dinner and escorting you to a theatre. I assure you that I will say nothing which could possibly offend, or even embarrass you.”
Catherine hesitated. She was, after all, as fond of a good dinner and a theatre as any girl of her age, and her hotel, though highly respectable, had a museumlike appearance. The young roan saw her hesitation and hastened to pursue his advantage.
“Madame Ronet is singing at the Opera,” he announced, “or there are two good musical comedies. If you would not mind dining early we could have supper afterwards, and perhaps dance if you care for it. I shall promise to be nothing but your attentive and most respectful cavalier.”
“Very well, then,” she assented graciously. “If you will find out from the hotel people at what time I have returned from the visit I am about to pay, I will be ready in an hour after that.”
She passed on with a gracious little nod, and entered the taxi which the hallporter had called for her.
“Where to, Madam?” the man asked. “To the House of Parliament,” she directed at random.
The man started off. At the corner of the street she put her head out of the window.
“Number ten Downing Street, please,” she told him.
AVERY quiet and polite young secretary who met Catherine in the hall, took her at once into the presence of his Chief, Mr. Phillip Rossiter, erstwhile Foreign Minister, and now Premier of England. Mr. Rossiter was a middle-aged man of quiet, introspective manner. He welcomed his visitor with easy cordiality, and if he felt any surprise at her appearance he effectually concealed it.
“My friend Samara has already explained to me the circumstances to which I owe the pleasure of this visit,” he said, as he settled himself comfortably in an easy chair opposite to hers. “Andrew Kroupki would have come, of course, but for his unfortunate illness. A very brilliant young man, that. I met him when I visited Moscow three years ago.” “Mr. Kroupki would have come, no doubt, with wider discretion,” Catherine remarked. “I am sure you understand that I am here only as a messenger.” “Quite so,” the other murmured. “All great men have their hobbies and aversions, and Samara’s particular aversion has always been documents and diplomatic correspondence. We have come to an excellent understanding many times through an interchange of visits. I hope Mr. Samara has told you to talk to me quite frankly. I know all about his visit to America—in fact I am not at all sure that I did not put the idea into his head.” “Mr. Samara has told me certain things,” Catherine acknowledged. “He has given me a certain insight into the arrangements he has made and why he has made them. Then he has gone on to
tell me that whatever I know I may tell you. So you see I shall reply quite openly to any questions you ask me, concerning his success in America. But I must warn you to start with, that I am a newcomer, a stranger to all matters of diplomacy. I know nothing, even, of Mr. Samara’s Government. Considering that I have been working for him assiduously during the last three weeks it is amazing how little I know of him.”
The premier smiled. The subject of Samara was one which always interested him.
“Your Chief is one of the remarkable men of this generation,” he declared. “Fifteen years ago Bolshevism seemed to have its fangs deep into the heart of Russia. It didn’t seem possible for any one to prevail against it. Samara has worked miracles. To-day Russia is, if not entirely herself again, well on the way towards reconstruction. Financially, industrially and economically she is making gigantic strides. Samara is daring, but he has the right ideas. Russia will be one of the great powers again long before his work is at an end. Personally, I have told Samara this myself—I see but one danger, and that is his tendency towards idealism. It is a great thing to mount that ladder, but one should set one’s feet upon the rungs with care.”
Catherine looked at her host intently.
“You don’t believe in this demobilisation scheme?” she asked quickly.
“Theoretically I think it wonderful,” he answered. “Tell me, I think I know, but still tell me—the Washington visit was a success?”
“Absolutely,” she assured him. “Mr. Samara granted certain concessions and he has arranged for a loan of two hundred million dollars. The whole of the Third Army will be demobilised within six months and employment will be found for every soldier.”
“Have you any idea as to the feeling among the militarists?” he enquired.
“So far as the Third Army is concerned, the men are perfectly willing to submit to disbandment,” she replied. “The officers are largely German and they resent it. Still, Mr. Samara is very much in earnest. They will have to go, as the works are established, the mines opened and the machinery being shipped.”
The premier looked at his visitor with interest.
“You seem to have a very sound grasp of this subject, considering your recent connection with it,” he said. “Are you an American, may I ask?”
“I was born in Russia,” she admitted. “I have lived in America, however, all my life. It is my knowledge of Russian, of course, which has given me the opportunity to be of so much use to Mr. Samara.”
He continued to study her with curiosity.
“Your people were amongst the refugees?”
THE premier turned, to some papers by his side. Something in Catherine’s manner told him that, so far as she was concerned, the subject was closed.
“What have you to say to me, Miss Borans?” he asked succinctly.
“Mr. Samara desires me to present this subject for your consideration,” she said. “England was a heavy loser at the time of the Russian debacle. There are many works and industries still languishing which were started with English capital and upon which he considers England still has in a way a hand. It is his wish to demobilise the whole of the Second Army, as well as the Third. He therefore needs—it is Russia’s greatest need to-day —a further development of her resources. He asks if you will appoint a committee of business men, preferably those connected with the various enterprises in which English shareholders have lost money, and send them over to treat with him. in Moscow.”
“To what end?” Mr. Rossiter enquired. “To arrange with them,” she continued, “for further considerable advances which will enable many of the industries and works which have been closed down to be reopened. Mr. Samara does not pretend that he will be able to pay in full those debts incurred in the days of the monarchy and ignored—In fact, repudiated altogether, by the Bolshevists. He considers, however, that some sort of a fund—
“A sinking fund?” Mr. Rossiter suggested.
“That is the term he used,” Catherine acquiesced. “It could be established, so that in time a portion of the old debt could be repaid to English creditors by means of the renewal of the particular industries in which their money had been lost. They would, of course, in the meantime, be making the profits to which they were entitled on the new business.”
“I see,” the Premier murmured. “I gather from the nature of these suggestions, that there is very little unemployment in Russia.”
“Scarcely any,” she assured him. “Nearly every industry is flourishing. All that the farmers need is more machinery and more workers. Mr. Samara has pointed out to me that the trouble in the demobilisation of these armies is that quite half of the men are not attracted by the idea of working upon the land. That is why it is so necessary to provide them with other means of earning a livelihood.”
“I quite understand,” Mr. Rossiter said. “Did your Chief suggest any particular enterprises connected with previous British undertakings?”
She drew a paper from her handbag.
“Here is the list,” she said, “of industries brought to a standstill during the Bolshevist epoch, all of them launched in the first instance, with British capital, which Mr. Samara thinks might be reconstituted. It is the only document I have brought with me.”
MR. ROSSITER adjusted his eyeglasses and read down the list. Then he rose to his feet and consulted for some time with his secretary who was writing at the further end of the room. Presently he returned to his place.
“I cannot, of course, give you a definite reply, Miss Borans,” he said. “But my impression is that there would not be the slightest difficulty in launching this scheme and finding the capital required. When do you return to Russia?”
“I am leaving here on Friday morning,” she told him, “to rejoin Mr. Samara at Monte Carlo.”
“Between now and then,” Mr. Rossiter promised her, “you shall have the names of the committee I suggest, and approximately the amount which the Government will be likely to vote by way of a subsidy. I have now a question to ask you, the reply to which may not be in your knowledge. What military force does your Chief intend to retain under arms?”
“I know nothing definite,” Catherine replied, “but I believe that it is Mr. Samara’s idea to do away with the whole of the military establishment of Russia.” Mr. Rossiter fingered his penholder. “Your chief,” he remarked, “does not believe in war.”
“Not against Russia, at any rate,” she assented. “He considers that Russia is geographically impregnable. Apart from that he considers that the folly of warfare has been proved. I have heard him say that the war of nineteen-fourteen was more disastrous to the allies who won it than to the German Empire which lost it.” “Perfectly sound,” Mr. Rossiter agreed. “The trouble of it is we have all learned something since then. I don’t mind telling you this,” he went on. “If the Germans had been victorious they would have found means of making England and France pay. They would never have been gulled by this higher economic doctrine and gone without their booty. To-day, if there were war and Germany won, I have not the faintest doubt that she would know how to extract every penny of what she considered due to her, and get full advantage of her victory.”
“I do not understand economics,” Catherine confessed. “I only know that Mr. Samara does not fear anything of the sort.”
The premier was silent for several moments. When he spoke again he seemed almost to be talking to himself.
“Samara is right to a certain point,” he declared. “The German Republic is not out for war. They know very well that the first breath of it would bring them internal division. To us, who watch such things closely, however, there are very dangerous symptoms in German politics. We should not be surprised any day to hear of a monarchical plot.”
“But Germany is so prosperous under present conditions,” she murmured.
“Precisely,” the other rejoined, “but nothing breeds discontent quicker than undue prosperity. You must remember, too, that the racial and fundamental temperament of a nation can never be changed. Russia, France, and Germany all three of them, have the instinct among their peasants and bourgeoise for monarchical government. So far as France and Russia are concerned, at any rate, I think that they are right. The Frenchman is too easily swayed. So long as he believes he is a part of the Government, he is all the time tearing his hair and changing his mind. That sort of person always makes a loyal and submissive subject. The Russian peasant is in the same position for a different reason. He doesn’t want his liberty. He doesn’t want to be made to think for himself. He wants to be taken care of. He, too, wants to be ruled. Germany, I must admit, I am not sure about. The German martial instinct seems to me to be the one great thing which might call back a Kaiser.”
“Who would he be?” Catherine asked curiously.
WITHOUT a doubt, Prince Frederick of Wehrenzollern,” was the prompt reply. “He is the youngest son of the late Crown Prince and by far the most popular—reminds one rather of our own king, when he was young—a most popular sportsman, a ladies’ man, a democrat and a ruler. I don’t know much about Prince Frederick of course, although he manages to keep himself pretty well in the limelight, but I do believe that he is nursing the monarchy —playing to the people all the time.” “Am I to tell Mr. Samara from you that you think he had better leave that First Army alone?” she asked bluntly.
Mr. Rossiter took a cigarette from a box by his side and tapped it thoughtfully.
“My advice to your very distinguished Chief would be to watch Germany,” he said. “I quite agree with him that the German Republic is not bellicose. On the other hand, a German monarchy would at once seek to justify its existence by a war. Samara knows as much about this, though, as I do. Let him deal with the Third and Second Armies as he will.
I think I can safely promise him that the Commission I send over to Moscow will be able to start industries which will absorb the whole of the surplus labor.
“I am happy to have had the pleasure of receiving you, Miss Borans,” he declared. “Tell Mr. Samara from me that I greatly approve of his new diplomatic methods. You propose to remain in London, I understand, until Friday. Is there any way in which we can be of service to you?”
“None whatever, thank you,” she replied frankly. “I have never been in London before. I shall very much enjoy doing a little exploring on my own account.”
“I sympathise with you entirely,” Mr. Rossiter concluded. “We will show you our greatest kindness—kindness in this instance, because it is a real deprivation, by leaving you alone. Present my compliments to your Chief and don’t forget that one word of warning—watch for a monarchist plot in Berlin. I do not need to tell him to protect himself in Moscow. Peacock, show Miss Borans to her car.”
MISS CATHERINE BORANS, sometime employed as stenographer and typist in the stenographic Bureau of the Hotel Weltmore, in New York, laughed a little to herself as she drove back to her hotel in London in her cab. She had just left the British Prime Minister in Downing Street. She had held a conference with him, as the fully accredited envoy of Gabriel Samara, dictator, in fact, if not in name, of Russia: she would, in a few days, rejoining Samara, whose secretary she now was, in Monte Carlo, make a full report of what had passed to him.
And there awaited her, at her hotel, to take her out to dine, to see a play, and later to sup and dance, Prince Frederick of Wehrenzollern, soon to become, if rumor told the truth, Kaiser of Germany, as his ancestors had been before him. Surely a dazzling change from her service as a typist!
She had worked for Samara in New York, quite by chance—he knowing nothing of her, that she was a Russian, a monarchist, one of those sworn to Continued on page 56
Continued from page 56 dispose him. Between them there had been a curious, suppressed attraction. Her friends, hoping that she would spy upon him, had persuaded her to accept his proposal that she accompany him to Moscow. In Monte Carlo she had met Prince Frederick; he had followed her to London. He had hinted at his love, had even ventured, tentatively, such proposal as princes make to commoners. She had put him in his place; now she would dine with him!
Catherine with the major part of her mission successfully accomplished, devoted herself with an abandon which at times amazed her companion, to the spending of a thoroughly frivolous evening. They dined very well at Maridge’s, saw the last two acts of a popular musical comedy, and went on to a select and fashionable club restaurant, where dancing was already in full swing. During the whole of the evening Prince Frederick’s behavior was entirely correct. He had adopted the attitude of the wistful but silent lover. He devoted himself entirely to telling his companion the names of the various notabilities by whom they were surrounded and relating anecdotes about some of them. With regard to himself he spoke scarcely at all and he did not ask her a single question concerning her mission to London. On the three or four occasions when he was greeted or addressed by acquaintances his manner was genial and full of bonhomie. Catherine watched him with amusement.
“You seem to have a good many acquaintances over here,” she remarked.
“I was at Eton for two terms and Oxford for a year,” he told her. “I have made it my business to understand something of English life and English people.”
“With what object?” she asked him point blank.
His smile for a moment seemed almost sinister.
“We disinherited ones of the world,” he answered, “have to keep friends with every body. Unless I am strictly incognito I keep away from the Court of course. I was known over here as Frederick von Burhl, the name under which I started my commercial career in Berlin after leaving school. That is eight years ago, however, and to-day the prejudices against the aristocracy have declined.”
“Do you believe,” she enquired, “that imperialism is dead in Germany?”
He raised his eyebrows slightly.
“Is that a question which I could possibly answer?” he protested. “Especially to the confidential secretary of one of the world’s great democrats?”
“Please don’t think that I have designs upon your secrets, if you have any,” she begged. “I asked merely for curiosity. There was an article in one of the reviews I read on the steamer in which it spoke of a reawakening of the monarchical impulse in Russia, Germany and even France.”
“The writer was, I should think, well informed,” Prince Frederick answered cautiously. “I believe the impulse is there. That is why Samara shows so much more than appears on the surface in setting himself to destroy the militarism of his country. A standing army is always on the monarchical side.”
CATHERINE’S attention was suddenly diverted by an amazing occurrence. She, like most others in the room, was watching the entrance of two people who were being received with every mark of distinction. One was a very beautiful woman, wearing a Russian head-dress and amazing jewellery. The young man with her, to Catherine’s bewilderment was Nicholas.
Catherine laid her hand on her companion’s coat sleeve.
“Please tell me who these are?” she whispered.
Prince Frederick leaned forward. The woman seemed to be watching for a sign from him. His expression remained stony.
“That is Adele Fedorleys, the ballet dancer,” he confided. “She is half a Pole and half a Russian. Her companion I do not know.
“I do,” Catherine exclaimed with delight, as she watched the blank amazement in Nicholas’ face change to pale fury. “He is quite a friend of mine.”
“A Russian himself, by the look of him,” Prince Frederick observed. “Tell
me,” he went on curiously, turning towards his companion, “how is it that you who describe yourself as an American typist are acquainted with a young man in this country who is in a position to know and entertain Madame Fedorleys?” “A quaint coincidence,” she admitted. “Almost as quaint as the fact that you two should be in the same room. That is the young man I spoke of—”
She broke off suddenly. Nicholas, having escorted his companion to their table, was crossing the room towards them.
“He is much bigger than I,” Prince Frederick whispered. “I am terrified.” “You are safe, here,” she laughed. “I may have to smuggle you out the back way when you leave.”
The young man who had come to a stand-still before the table presented a somewhat formidable appearance. He seemed to have grown in stature and importance since he had left New York. The pastiness of his complexion was gone—replaced by a touch of becoming sunburn. His burly shoulders, closely cropped hair and a certain ¡heaviness of feature suggested, in an indeterminate sort of way, the professional pugilist, an impression, however, which was modified by the keenness of his blue eyes, the levelness of his eyebrows, and a certain breadth of forehead. He bowed very low and raised Catherine’s fingers to his lips. Then he spoke to her hurriedly in Russian, his voice thick with anger.
“What is this? How is it that I find you here in London, alone with this young man? Samara is in Monte Carlo. I have news of him.”
“Contain yourself, my dear Nicholas,” she answered in the same language. “I am here on an errand for Mr. Samara, and my companion is an acquaintance whom you will be glad to know.”
There was nothing in Nicholas’ face to indicate any prospective pleasure. His expression was indeed forbidding in the extreme. Catherine turned to her escort and spoke in English.
“This,” she said, “is a most extraordinary meeting. The strangest part of it, perhaps, is that you two should never have met and that it should be left to an insignificant person like me to make you acquainted. Which takes precedence, I wonder? Such things are a mystery to me in my station in life, so I must take my chance. This is Prince Frederick of Wehrenzollern, better known in this country as Frederick von Burhl—Prince Nicholas Imanoff, whom I knew in New York, as Mr. Ronoff.”
Prince Frederick had risen to his feet. The two young men, after a moment or two of blank surprise, looked at one another with a very natural curiosity.. Then Nicholas extended his hand.
“I should have recognized you by your pictures,” he said.
“And I you by your likeness to your House,” was the courteous reply. “I understand that you have settled down in New York.”
“There is only one country in which I shall ever settle down.” Nicholas answered with some dignity. “I am on my way to visit it now.”
“You are allowed to enter Russia?”Frederick exclaimed.
“At Samara’s invitation. It is humiliating, but it is still a generous action. A great friend of my House, Kirdorff of Riga, is with me in London. My aunt, the Grand Duchess, and various othersof my friends and relatives are following me by the French route.”
“This is wonderful news,” Frederick remarked. “Samara is a brave man, though. It seems to me that he has chosen a curious time to give you permission to return. I should like very much to talk to you, Nicholas. You will pass through Germany on your way to Russia. I should like you to meet some friends of mine.”
“You have already, I see, met one of mine,” Nicholas observed.
“I have met in Monte Carlo this young lady, calling herself then, Miss Borans,. the private secretary of the Russian President,” Frederick replied eagerly. “Her story is that she came from a typist’s office in New York.”
CATHERINE shrugged her shoulders. A faint smile flittered across her
“After all, it does not perhaps matter very much,” she observed. “You had better present me, Nicholas.”
The latter turned to Frederick.
“You have the honor,” he said, “to bave made the acquaintance of the Princess Catherine of Russia, hereditary Grand Duchess of Urulsk. The Princess, I may add, is my fiancee.”
“I was,” Catherine murmured sweetly, “but that young lady over there will take a great deal of explanation. I have lived so long in America that I have imbibed the bourgeois view as to this sort of proceeding.”
An angry light flashed for a moment in Nicholas’s eyes.
The young lady is a fellow countryman and a great patriot,” he said. “You remind me of the duty as host. I will return.”
He bowed and turned away. Catherine watched him with a smile. The whole episode had appealed to her immensely. It was the young American woman who leaned back in her seat and laughed.
“Some shock for poor Nicholas,” she exclaimed.
“And for me,” Frederick groaned.
“I have been made an idiot,” Frederick declared bitterly, towards the close of the evening.
Catherine smiled with amused tolerance.
“I do not think that you are to be blamed,” she conceded. “Why should you not believe what you are told. Besides, it is quite true that I am a typist. Not one of us out there had any money. Nicholas himself was selling bonds for a Wall Street stockbroker, and Alexandrina earned a few dollars making artificial roses. My engagement by Mr. Samara and my coming to Europe were entirely matters of chance.”
“It is true,” he demanded, “that you are betrothed to Nicholas?”
“It is perfectly true,” she acknowledged, “only I am not at all sure that I shall marry him.”
“You must not,” was the low reply. “You must marry me.”
She turned to answer him with a jest and was amazed at his expression. He was very pale and his eyes seemed to have sunken. The hand which clutched his wineglass was shaking.
“I have thought of nobody else since the first moment I saw you,” he went on. “You have driven everything else from my mind. I followed you here to London blindly. I never dared hope that this might be possible. Now I realize that it is. It does not matter about money.
I have plenty and who knows, there may be a great future for us.”
CHE listened for a moment to the ^ music, gazing a little absently across the room. She had the air of looking through the walls into space. For a moment, indeed, her thoughts had strayed to the city of her dreams as it had been pictured to her, with its gilded roofs, its palaces and its hovels side by side.
“There is a chance of that, too, for Nicholas,” she murmured.
“His chance is nothing to mine,” Frederick insisted harshly. “For me the ground has been prepared year by year and month by month. We have machinery at work. The time is close at hand. For Nicholas there are nothing but dreams. We have no Samara in Germany.”
She rose to her feet.
‘‘You are too much in earnest,” she whispered. “People are watching you.
I believe they guess that you have proposed to me. It is most embarrassing.
I insist upon dancing.”
His hand, as he touched her fingers, was cold. No trace of color returned to his cheeks, even after the exercise.
“Are you not feeling well?” Catherine enquired, as they sat down.
“You can cure me with a word,” he answered passionately. “Listen. Give me hope and I will return to Berlin to-morrow. I will send you a welcome from those who count. I will give you proof of what is to come.”
“Is it possible that you are really in earnest?” she asked.
“In deadly earnest,” he groaned.
Her real nationality suddenly asserted itself. There was a vein of cruelty in her race and it sprang into being. She leaned back in her place and laughed.
CATHERINE, after she had descended from the train at Monte Carlo, lingered for a moment upon the platform, dazzled by the sunshine. She had left London in a mantle of grey, Paris in a rain and wind storm, and now, after a long night in a salon-lit she seemed to
have stepped out into a new world of enchantment. The sea and sky seemed bluer than ever, the houses whiter and cleaner, the great stucco-like Casino more of a joke, resembling rather a child’s toy dragged from its play-box; than a serious abode of drama, an arena for the most sordid of men’s passions. And to add to it all, as she leaned back in her little victoria, the music from the distant orchestra at the Cafe de Paris came with real sweetness through the scented air. She sat forward and watched the people eagerly as she crossed the Square. There was the same atmosphere about them all, a geniality and sense of relaxation which after many years of New York was strangely attractive to her. No one was in a hurry; every one appeared, to enjoy not having to be in a hurry. There was plenty of time for the amenities of life.
It was a busy hour at the hotel, but each member of the staff seemed to find leisure to welcome her back after her brief absence. A reception clerk persisted in conducting her upstairs, the lift-boy’s smile and bow made her feel that she had come home.
“Mr. Samara is walking on the Terrace with some friends, madam,” the clerk announced. “I think that he scarcely expected you until to-morrow.”
“I meant to stay in Paris for a day,” she explained. “I changed my mind. The weather was intolerable.”
“Mademoiselle was wise,” the man declared, with a farewell bow. Yesterday we had rain but to-day, as Mademoiselle sees, it is perfect.”
Catherine unfastened her coat and glanced around the room before going to her own apartment. She noticed with tolerant disapproval that it was untidy— a little pile of discarded envelopes was upon the table, cigar ash upon the mantlepiece. Suddenly, however, the tolerance faded from her face. On the table was a woman’s glove. An odor which she hated became more insistent —an odor of scented cigarettes. There were some crushed flowers, too, upon the table. She rang the bell and pointed out the state of the room to the chambermaid. The woman smiled as she apologized.
“Monsieur was late last night,” she explained. “And he only rose an hour ago. I did not wish to disturb him. I will now do all that is necessary.”
Catherine went thoughtfully to her room, changed her clothes, bathed and rested for a while. She was conscious of a curious sense of disappointment and depression for which she could in no way account. She knew perfectly well that the private life of Gabriel Samara was outside her ken. Save for that wild moment on the steamer when he had kissed her—a moment only once alluded to since—not one of his actions towards her or any one else had indicated the slightest interest in her sex. When she had left she was quite sure that he had not a woman acquaintance in the place. And now, everything betokened at least the beginning of an intrigue on his part.
After all, he was a Russian, a genius, a person of passion and temperament. There was nothing so strange about it, even from the point of view of her strict bringing up. Samara, as she told herself, lying on her bed with her hands clasped behind her head, was not of her world. Already she was beginning to realize the great forces which must eventually push them apart, the grim possibility that her association with him, or her knowledge of his affairs, might before long become the measure of her usefulness to her own people, its betrayal the sacrifice she might have to offer to her own future. Was he perhaps in some respects different to her preconceived ideas? He was an idealist, without a doubt. His two books on Russia, written before his political prominence, every line of which she had read, were supreme evidence of it. But of his private life she knew so little. There was only her own observation and instinct to guide her. In the foreground of the picture of him which had somehow grown up in her mind, that long glove, the crushed flowers, and the scented cigarette tips were like an ugly blur.
WHEN Samara returned from his walk he found Catherine seated at her typewriter, finishing the copying of some reports on which she had been engaged before she had gone. The room had been put in order and swept, the windows were wide open. On the table,
however, the glove still remained and the little ash-tray of cigarette ends. He banged the door behind him, came over to her side and shook her hand.
“Congratulations, my wonderful emissary,” he declared, with one of his rare smiles. “I defied all diplomatic usage and you have justified me. An hour ago I received a cable with the names of the Commission. They start on Thursday week.”
“I am glad,” she said.
He stood away from her for a moment, looking over her head out of the window.
“Everything is now in trim,” he continued. “We leave here on Wednesday. The Duma is summoned for the following Tuesday. I shall announce to the representatives my intentions with regard to the Army, issue an authorized edict the following day and commence demobilisation the next week. Your adopted country people are prompt in their payments. We have already ten millions of American dollars in the Treasury and Argoff, my Minister for Home Affairs, is collecting a staff to open three of the Southern Silver Mines.” “You have no fear, then,” she enquired, “but that the Duma will agree with your policy?”
He laughed softly.
“Wait until you have lived a year in Russia,” he said, “and you will not ask that question. The Russian of to-day is well-meaning enough but he has little mind. The Bolshevists have crushed that. All that he asks is to be led.”
“So that you are, in point of fact, almost a dictator,” she remarked.
“So much the better for Russia, if I am,” he answered shortly. “No one knows better what is good for her. No,” he went on, “all the opposition will come from outside and who cares? They think I don’t realize it. Idiots!”
She glanced at him questioningly. He walked to the mantelpiece, struck a match and lit a cigarette.
“They think I don’t know what was at the back of their minds, those others who rattle their war sabres so foolishly,” he exclaimed. “Russian armies, poor patient Russian peasants, trained so zealously and carefully, not for their country’s defence but to play the mercenary on foreign soil, to be pushed to the front in dangerous places, that German soldiers might be spared. They are firous there. Von Hartsen scarcely leaves me. He has tried everything — argument, menace, bribes.”
He ceased his restless perambulations and came back to her side. His eyes fell upon the glove and the little ash-tray of cigarette tips. He scowled at them for a moment.
“The evidence of my profligacy,” he remarked.
“I had noticed them,” Catherine acknowledged. “I am rather sorry that she smokes scented cigarettes.”
“Foul things,” he assented. “Still, I suppose women must have their whims.” She recommenced her typing. He stopped her with an impatient protest.
“Don’t do that,” he exclaimed. “It’s time for lunch. We’ll go out somewhere. Get your hat.”
“The persuasiveness of your invitations,” she murmured, “almost carries me off my feet.”
“Don’t be sarcastic,” he replied. “I want to talk to you.”
He pointed to the glove.
CATHERINE knew that she was losing an opportunity but nevertheless she yielded. She should have laughed at the idea that the presence of the glove might in any way interest her. She did nothing of the sort. She went meekly to her room, put on her most becoming hat and walked by Samara’s side across the Square.
“So you want to know about the glove, eh?” he demanded.
She looked around at the people sipping their aperitifs under the umbrella tented tables and listened for a moment to the music.
“Does it need an explanation?” she asked. “I suppose you’re very much like other men and the atmosphere of this place is a little relaxing.”
“Why don’t you find it so?” he demanded. “Nothing seems to change you. From whom did you inherit your magnificent imperturbability?”
She smiled. Her own moment had arrived.
“How you misjudge me!” she sighed. “As a matter of fact I have been behaving rather badly myself.”
“That young princeling,” he muttered furiously. “I saw him on the train.”
“He came all the way to England entirely on my account,” she confided. “Not only that but I supped alone with him at Maringe’s in London.”
“A nice sort of diplomatic envoy you are,” he scoffed. “Did you take him with you to Downing Street?”
“Don’t be absurd,” she replied. “I devoted to him only my moments of frivolity.”
Samara remained for a few moments in a moody silence. They had reached the end of the Arcade and were promptly ushered to a table on the glass-enclosed balcony of the famous restaurant. Catherine took off her gloves, looked out at the sea, listened to a violinist in the street below. Notwithstanding a slight feeling of depression she felt very kindly towards the world.
“The glove belonged to Olga Kansky, premiere danseuse in the Russian Ballet here,” her companion confessed abruptly. Catherine smiled.
“A Russian,” she exclaimed. “Naturally she had to pay her respects.”
“She came for nothing of the sort,” he declared brusquely. “She had supper with me here. I invited her to my sitting room afterwards.”
There was a slight change in Catherine’s manner. Her tone was almost haughty. She looked at her vis-a-vis with slightly upraised eyebrows.
“There are some situations,” she reminded him coldly, “which do not require explanation.”
“This one does,” he retorted. “Especially to you, as you are in a measure responsible for what happened.” “Surely my own sins,” she began.
“In plain words,” he interrupted, “I found that I was thinking a great deal too much about you. I don’t want to think too much about any woman, especially one of your type. I have my own theories about the place for women in the world. I meant to carry them out. That is why I invited Olga Kansky to supper!”
“And did you— carry them out?” she asked breathlessly.
“A ridiculous attack of sentimentality,” he confessed. “Just memory—a windy night, the boom of the sea, a moment of accursed opportunity. I wanted to kiss Olga—I couldn’t.”
CATHERINE laughed, without changing, a muscle of her face—laughed inwardly, conscious of an unreasonable joy.
“You kissed me quite nicely, she reflected demurely.
“That was the madness of the moment,” he declared. “It will not happen again.”
“I wonder,” she speculated.
“You need not. I am no woman worshipper, but I know how to tabulate them. You suit me as a secretary. You don’t fit elsewhere. That’s the end of that! Olga Kansky leaves for Nice tomorrow. Tell me, about the Prime Minister.”
Their conversation drifted away from the personal note. As they lingered over their coffee, however, she brought it back.
“You are rather a fraud, you know,” she said.
“How?” he asked suspiciously.
“You allot women their place in life— a very inferior place—and when you meet any one who deserves something better you pretend not to recognize the fact. You know very well that I was not made to be any one’s plaything. Why am I not worthy to be a companion?” He watched the glass filled with old brandy—held it out for a double portion —then he selected the strongest cigar he could find. Before lighting it he leaned across the table.
“I find you companionable,” he admitted. “I treat you as a companion. If I needed a plaything I should look elsewhere.”
“In plain words,” she observed, “when you seek recreation you walk in the garden where only exotics grow, like Olga Kansky.”
“I hate allegories,” he growled. “In plain words, I intend neither to marry
nor to give any woman that place in my life which might be the equivalent of marriage.”
Catherine was looking out of the window. The train from Paris had just arrived. The busses were beginning to rumble up the hill. A young man passed, seated in a little carriage. Catherine smiled. She had recognized Prince Frederick.
“My fate,” she murmured, motioning downwards. “I really believe he has followed me back again. I adore perseverance, and, after all, I suppose even a Kaiserin can get fun out of life!”
The luncheon brought a pleasant surprise to Catherine. At the end of the drive a motor car was standing, into which Samara ushered her.
“You have seen nothing of this country,” he said. “I have a fancy to take you to a spot of my own discovery.” “This makes me very happy,” Catherine acknowledged, with grateful smile.
“Like every one else in my adopted country, I am a born tourist.”
THEY turned a little towards Mentone, mounted to the clouds and paused for a moment at the summit of a parapeted road. Catherine looked downward at the panorama below with amazed delight, Samara, with unassumed indifference.
“It is wonderful,” he admitted, with a note almost of tolerance in his tone. “Here and there in wilder countries nature has distorted landscape into even more majestic outlines, but here comes the touch of humanity to interpose a strange element. It is man, with his craving for luxury, not his desire for the beautiful, who has dotted these hills with villas, planted exotic gardens and brought his yachts through the storm into the harbor there. Marvelous, of course, beautiful in its way, but with the slur of paganism everywhere, the note of theatricality, from the ginger-bread structure of the temple of men’s greed, to the lights and shadows which play beneath the clouds on the mountains [ behind. Perhaps you don’t see it as I do. Why should you? Now I shall take you to the place I love.”
“Sometimes I wonder,” she said thoughtfully, as they went on their way, “whether I am not more of a pagan than you. You keep your real self so well hidden. I worship their masses of color and forget the twenty gardeners who toiled to produce the effect. And against that blue sea even the Casino itself appeals to me—perhaps to my sense of humor more than anything else, but it pleases me.”
He looked at her with an unusually kind smile.
“There is the difference of a whole cycle of humanity between us,” he reminded her, his voice growing a little sad as he proceeded. “You are younger even than your years—you have lived behind the high fences. I am older than mine, because life came to me in strong doses before I had time to make up my mind how to deal with it.”
They descended to the sea level, passed through Nice with its amazing, flamboyant loveliness, through the old, mysterious disreputable, picturesque town of Cagnes, and turned to the right along a narrower road which wound its way into the bosom of softer hills than those which towered down upon Monte Carlo. Here were vineyards and many small homesteads, planted around with olive trees, each with their strip of meadow and arable land, and a sheltered corner in which grew a little clump of orange and sometimes lemon trees. The soil became redder, the grass greener. To Catherine it seemed that there was a gentler quality in the air, something more languorous than the keen atmosphere of the rockbound Principality. Then the car drew up at a bend in the road a few kilometers above a quaint tumble-down stone village. Samara alighted.
“Just a yard or two this way,” he invited.
She followed him along a short cypress grove, scrambled up a knoll fragrant with the perfume of late mimosas, and uttered a little cry of delight. A short distance away was an old white stone house, half villa, half chateau, with close-drawn green shutters and a familiar tower at either end. It faced due south and one j side was covered with wisteria and ! drooping magneta Bougainvilleas. Such garden as there had been had run riot, but there was still a wealth of roses
growing promiscuously with the olive trees and the mimosas right up to the edge of the vineyard which stretched towards the valley. Inland, a range of fertile hills with many small villages clustered in their clefts, rose to the skies, and beyond towered the pale outline of the snow-capped Italian alps. A vista of meadowland and vineyard, of small homesteads and picturesque groups of farm buildings, stretched down to the old town of Gagnes itself, standing upon its pedestal of rock, unreal almost in the grey perfection of its rugged outline. And beyond, the great foreground of the Mediterranean, blue and placid. Something different from the ordinary light of admiration crept into Catherine’s eyes as they wandered over the old house and lingered lovingly upon the tangled masses of flowers.
“I did not understand you a few minutes ago,” she confessed. “I do now. I think that this is more beautiful than anything I have seen.”
“I am not sure,” he confided, “that there is not poison in this atmosphere. I came here by accident, with a fever of fighting in my blood, scheme after scheme forming in my brain—for Russia, for the world, and before I had been here halfan-hour, I felt something of the spell of the lotus-eaters numbing my brain. I found myself speculating, wondering whether it was all worth while, how far one must travel through the toil of life before rest came. It was because this place spelt rest for me—spelt it differently —spelt it without ignominy, spelt it with beauty instead of sloth. Peace after all, is the end of all of us.”
She was more moved than she had believed possible.
“It seems so strange to hear you talk like that,” she murmured. “You, Samara, the man of action, the ruler of a nation, with a great fight looming up before you.” “Have I ever told you?” he asked. “I forget—I believe in God. This might be His compensation for failure.”
SHE was too bewildered to speak, but curiously conscious of an utterly untranslatable emotion. He turned away after a farewell glance around.
“And so,” he went on, as he led her back to the car, “I did perhaps the strangest thing I have ever done in life. I found this place for sale and I bought it. I signed the papers this morning. We walk down my own avenue, and I will give you,” he concluded, stooping and picking a rose from a bush which had clambered half-way up an olive tree, “the first rose from my garden.”
On the afternoon of the day fixed for their departure Samara was wandering aimlessly around and Catherine was screwing up her typewriter in the sittingroom, when the floor-waiter knocked at the door and announced a visitor. General von Hartsen, who had followed close behind the waiter, entered and bowed stiffly.
“Come to bid me a last farewell, General?” Samara asked.
“You will excuse me, sir, but my visit is not to you,” was the unexpected reply. “Pending an official response to the queries which I have placed before your Government I have nothing more to say.”
“Not to me?” Samara repeated. “To what, then, do I owe the honor of this visit?”
“My visit is to Mademoiselle,” the General announced.
Catherine looked up from her work a little unwillingly.
Von Hartsen bowed once more.
“If Mr. Samara permits,” he continued, “I shall be glad of five minutes’ conversation.”
“What sublime effrontery,” Samara exclaimed. “Do you want to suborn my secretary before my face?”
“My visit is not political,” the general confided. “But I confess that it would give me greater satisfaction to pursue it in your absence.”
Samara was in an evil mood. The trivial business of preparing for departure had irritated him and he had other causes for self dissatisfaction. He turned on his heel, and, without a word, marched through the connecting door into his bedroom.
“Mr. Samara is not in a very good temper,” Von Hartsen observed. “He would perhaps be in a worse one if he knew the object of my visit.”
“Won’t you sit down?” Catherine invited.
The general shook his head. He moved, however, to the further end of the room, and stood upon the hearthrug. One could almost hear the clank of his sabre as he walked. Without uniform he seemed somehow an unreal figure.
“Mademoiselle,” he said. “I am an ambassador.”
“The Prince?” Catherine asked calmly. “Precisely.”
CATHERINE continued her task of opening the drawers and collecting her oddments of stationery.
“You won’t mind my doing this while you talk, will you?” she begged. “Our train leaves at three o’clock.”
“It is part of the object of my visit,” the General pointed out, “to persuade you not to take that train.”
“But I must,” she replied. “All our arrangements are made. We are going straight through to Moscow.”
“I am in hopes that if you give a favorable hearing to my mission,” the general persisted, “you will not go to Russia at all.”
“A plot?” she enquired.
“Scarcely that,” he protested. “On behalf of my ward, Prince Frederick of Wehrenzollern, I have the honor to ask for your hand in marriage.”
Catherine shut her despatch box with a click.
“You know all about me, then,” she said coolly.
“Prince Frederick has confided in me,” the General confessed. “I should like to point out to you that my young ward is making you this proposal entirely from reasons of sentiment. He is, if I may say so, very greatly attracted. Since your first coming here, he, whom I have always found so docile, has been entirely unmanageable. It was the wish of his friends that he should marry Princess Freda of Bavaria. Up till now he has been acquiescent. Last night, extravagant though his language was, he convinced me that the scheme had better be abandoned.”
“Is she anything like her pictures?” Catherine asked.
“The Princess is personable,” was the somewhat brusque reply.
“She doesn’t look it,” Catherine declared. “I should have said that she was fat.”
“It is to be admitted,” the general acknowledged, “that she has not your Highness’ claims to good looks.”
Catherine frowned angrily and glanced towards the door through which Samara had disappeared.
“Please do not address me in such a way again,” she requested. “My name is Catherine Borans, and I am a typist whom Mr. Samara has brought home from New York. I prefer for the present to remain as such. As for Prince Frederick’s offer, I beg leave to decline it.” “To decline it?” the general exclaimed, in amazement.
“Precisely. Life in Berlin as the wife of a banker would not amuse me.”
The General looked quickly round the room as though to be sure that there was no possibility of their being overheard.
“Mademoiselle,” he said, dropping his voice a little, “there is, there are great things afoot in Europe. It is not Prince Frederick’s destiny to remain for ever a banker of Berlin. There is no man in this world with such a future.”
Catherine shook her head doubtfully. “I do not think that you will ever be able to restore the monarchy in Germany,” she declared.
Von Hartsen smiled a smile of supreme confidence.
“Mademoiselle,” he confided, “it is as good as done.”
“You dazzle me,” Catherine observed, with irony so faint that her visitor was unable to detect it. “Kaiserin of Germany. It is hard to refuse.”
“Is is impossible,” the General persisted.
He stopped her.
“Let me complete my mission,” he begged. “For the first time Russia and Europe generally have been made aware of the existence of Prince Nicholas of Imanoff. That young man has never apparently visited his native country. He is unknown to the people, unregarded. Prince Frederick, on the other hand, has been brought up in his own country. He is a democrat, seemingly, and one of the most popular young men in Germany.”
“You are trying to point out to me, I suppose,” Catherine said, “that whereas Prince Frederick has every chance of becoming Kaiser of Germany, Prince Nicholas has no chance whatever of becoming Czar of Russia.”
“That is the truth,” Von Hartsen insisted. “Prince Nicholas has no hold upon the affections of his people and except in the army there is no royalist following in Russia. The only chance Prince Nicholas would have would be if he remained friends with Frederick. Then, in the future, who could tell what might happen?”
“Subtly put, General,” she acknowledged, “but I am afraid that I can do no more than repeat my first answer.” “Mademoiselle,” he exclaimed.
“You see,” Catherine continued, “notwithstanding, the Russian blood in my veins, I was brought up and educated in America. I have earned my own living, there. I have caught something of the spirit of the country. I should not dream for a moment of marrying any man for whom I had not affection. Prince Frederick has inspired me with no such sentiment.”
The General looked at her steadfastly. “It is strange,” he muttered, “to hear one of your race speak in such a fashion.” “Times change, General,” she reminded him. “To-day, the pomp of life appeals less, the desire for true living appeals more. I am a Royalist, by instinct and conviction, but I should never share even a throne with a man whom I did not love.”
“This Nicholas,” the General began— The typewriter and despatch box were there, but Miss Catherine Borans had vanished from the face of the earth. It was the Princess who corrected her visitor.
“General,” she pronounced, “the interview is at an end. I hope that the next time I meet Prince Frederick this matter will have been forgotten.”
SAMARA came out from his room, wearing his travelling coat and carrying his hat.
“Still here, General?” he said. “You’ll have to excuse us. The omnibus is waiting below.”
A gleam of malice shone in the General’s face. He realized Samara’s ignorance.
“I thank you for your consideration, Mr. Samara,” he said. “I need not detain either of you any longer. I am sorry to tell you that my errand was in vain.”
“What errand?” Samara demanded.
“I am here on behalf of Prince Frederick of Wehrenzollern,” the General explained. “I was bearer of a proposal of marriage which I regret to say that Her Highness has declined.
“Her Highness?” Samara repeated. “What the devil do you mean?”
Von Hartsen expression of surprise was excellently simulated.
“It is incredible,” he exclaimed, “that you have not discovered the identity of this young lady. I have the honour, then, to present you to the Princess Catherine Helena Zygoff, Grand Duchess of Urulsk, Countess of Borans, and hereditary ruler of the lands of Utoff.”
Samara stood perfectly still. His eyes were fixed upon Catherine’s face. She smiled at him very pleasantly.
“Rather too bad of the General to give me away like this?” she complained. “I hope you don’t mind.”
“One accepts the inevitable,” he answered coldly.
“Her Highness has just refused the hand of Prince Frederick of Wehrenzollern,” the General continued. “It is, it would be interesting, to learn her future plans.”
Catherine picked up her despatch box, and laid her fingers lightly upon Samara’s arm.
“My dear General,” she said, “I must congratulate you on your acquaintance with my titles, which you have remembered more or less correctly, but I am also Miss Catherine Borans from the Weltmore Typewriting Bureau, temporary secretary to Mr. Samara. I think,” she went on, looking up at her companion, “we ought to hurry, or we shall miss the train.”
“You mean that you are coming with me?” Samara demanded.
“Coming?” she repeated. “Of course I am. We mustn’t forget to send them up for the typewriter. Good-bye, General.”
Von Hartsen gazed across at her fiercely.
“So you are a renegade,” he muttered. Once again he sank into insignificance at her parting glance.
“I have been brought up in a country,” she replied, “where a girl learns to think and act for herself, and men do not insult women!”
Nicholas with his guide and counsellor, Boris Kirdorff, stood upon the balcony of an apartment on the third floor of Berlin’s premier hotel, and gazed downdards at the swaying crowds. In the distance a flag was flying from the roof of the Reichstag building. There was a general air of holiday-making. Nicholas, who was a little bored, yawned.
“Do you know,” he asked, “why von Hartsen was so anxious for us to stay over for the day?”
“I have an idea,” his companion admitted. “I am not sure. That is his knock, however. He will probably explain.”
HE STEPPED back into the room and met the General, who had just been ushered in. The three men stood together upon the balcony, the newcomer in the middle. The pavements below were crowded. Policemen of decidedly military appearance were riding backward and forward. Occasionally a car passed down the middle of the guarded way, greeted now and then, with a faint murmur of applause.
“You will like, perhaps, to understand,” von Hartsen said, “why I have persuaded you to remain here till tomorrow morning’s train to Moscow. Well, I will tell you. I will tell you because there is something which I wish to point out to you which is in a sense an allegory to all of us. To-day, as you may know, is the opening of Reichstag.”
“So much as that we know,” he admitted. “To follow your politics,however, seems almost impossible. You appear to have seven parties struggling all against the other, of whom the socialists, who were once the strongest, have become the weakest. How can you form a coherent Government with such a muddle?” Von Hartsen smiled.
“You ask a sane question,” he said. “Many of the shrewdest men in Germany are asking the same. The parties will not coalesce. Only one unification is possible.”
“And that?” Nicholas asked.
“Wait,” was the prompt rejoinder. “Now listen. Here is the automobile of Herr Mayor, the leader of the socialist party, once the most popular man in Germany. See to-day how the people greet him.”
The car rolled by, the man who was its solitary occupant—elderly, grey and worn, looking neither to the right nor to the left, seated with folded arms as one who faces an ordeal. Here and there was a faint murmur of applause, here and there distinct hisses. Of enthusiasm there was none at all.
“There passes a grave danger,” von Hartsen declared. “Twenty-five years ago, during the aftermath of the Great War, the socialists came rapidly to the front in the country. They reached the zenith of their power in nineteen-thirty. Since then their influence has steadily declined. To-day they are a forgotten force. Watch again. Here comes the automobile of the President. He is fairly popular. Is there a single real shout of welcome? Watch the people’s faces. Who among them cares whether that man comes or goes?”
The car proceeded on its way. Many hats were lifted to its occupant but, although there was all the time an undertone of applause, again there was no enthusiasm. These were the involuntary marks of respect paid by a law-abiding nation to its ruler. A dozen other cars passed by containing deputies from various political parties. Some were greeted in silence; some with a few courteous salutations, one or two with a little hum of interest. Then von Hartsen leaned forward.
“The Prime Minister of Germany,” he announced, “the leader of our Government. He rides to his doom—his political doom, that is to say.”
Again hats were raised here and there, but a stony silence, prevailed. Then came a new type of deputy, a General wearing his uniform, seated upright in his
car with his fingers resting as though by accident upon his sword.
“The Baron von Elderman!” von Hartsen exclaimed. “Listen! Watch the people.”
A little forest of heads were uncovered and hats waved. This time there was a real, hoarse murmur of applause. More than once the General saluted in response to the greetings.
“The Baron,” von Hartsen explained.
“is Commander-in-Chief of the German armies. He is also Deputy and Leader of the monarchist party—so far as we permit it to be known that there is a monarchist party. Does it seem strange to you that republican Germany should find applause for him that it denies to all the others?”
“Republican Germany is a misnomer,” Kirdorff declared. “The soul of Germany has never been with the Republic.”
“You speak well,” was the other’s solemn admission.
A FEW more cars passed, attracting varying degrees of notice. Then, from the distance came a volume of welcoming voices, swelling into a roar of enthusiasm. At last the people were moved. Down the middle of the avenue 1 came a single open motor car, in which I was seated a young man in uniform, alone.
“Frederick,” Nicholas exclaimed. “What does he do here?”
Von Hartsen smiled.
“He was elected a Deputy only a few weeks ago,” he exclaimed. “He is coming to take his seat.”
“But in uniform,” Nicholas muttered.
“I thought that was prohibited?”
“He is wearing only the uniform of a Cadet Corps,” the General pointed out. “Strictly speaking, it is against the law. We risk it. Listen to the people! What do you think that means?”
The applause was almost deafening, coming nearer and nearer like an inbreaking wave. Kirdorff’s pallid face had become set and rigid. There was a streak of color in Nicholas’s cheeks. The car passed like a flash below, and went on its way. Every moment the young man inside raised his right hand to the ¡ salute.
“For you,” Kirdorff declared, “it can mean but one thing. It means the return of the great days. If Berlin can speak ! like that, what of the rest of Prussia?” Von Hartsen smiled as he turned away from the window.
“It is finished,” he announced. “We shall find wine in the further room. It was to see what you have seen that I begged you to stay over. What is coming i in Germany.” he went on earnestly, “can ¡ come also in Russia. We are willing to : help, but, like everyone else in the world, we have our price. A glass of wine with you, gentlemen. Afterwards I myself must go to the Reichstag.”
They passed into an inner room where refreshments were handed round. When the glasses were filled, von Hartsen briefly dismissed the waiters.
“Listen,” he began as soon as they were alone, “I do not promise that I myself can do for you, for Nicholas Imanoff, what I have done for Frederick, but I can put you in the way of doing it for yourself. The seeds are already sown. To-day in your First and Second Armies there is an active monarchist propaganda going on hour by hour. Samara knows it well enough—hence his hurried return from America. It is not altruism alone which has influenced him in this great scheme of demilitarisation.
It is because he knows that if ever the monarchy is restored to Russia it will be through the Army. You have permission to return, Prince Nicholas?”
“Absolutely,” the young man assented. “We all have—even Orenburg.”
“It is a brave step of Samara’s; I think a foolish one. Since you have the chance however, show yourself openly everywhere. Ask Samara’s permission to join the Army. The whole machinery or propaganda is there. There is no reason why Russia should not revert to the only logical form of Government within a year from to-day.”
“You spoke of a price for your aid,” I Kirdorff reminded him.
I “Naturally. Germany is suffering from j peace. She needs war. We need your j First and Second Armies before Samara can disband them.”
“How can one of my race,” he asked, “draw his sword against France?”
“It might happen,” von Hartsen replied, “that if you were not prepared to do so, you might have no sword to draw. But consider—the France of to-day has nothing in common with the France who was once your great ally. She is avaricious to a degree. Ascend the throne, reestablish imperial rule in Russia, and, before a month has passed, France will claim from you countless milliards, the whole debt of your country to her. The alliance now that Austria has passed away, has ceased to exist. Discard it. Germany and Russia are natural and inevitable allies. Make up your mind to it.”
A cannon sounded from somewhere in the neighborhood. Von Hartsen finished his wine hastily.
“This is a great day for Germany,”
he concluded. “I must be there to see Prince Frederick take his seat. Deputy to-day; what he pleases by this time next year! Listen to me now and remember my words. The people will be ruled. No democrat has ever learned the art of kingship. Republics have made laws. They have never governed. It is the will of the people which is calling Frederick back to the throne of his ancestors.”
He hurried off, leaving behind him a queer sense of excitement. Kirdorff’s eyes were glittering. Nicholas seemed transformed.
“The will of the people,” he repeated ecstatically. “We, too, shall hear that call, Kirdorff. From Berlin to Odensk is not so far.”
To be Continued