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Title: Gabriel Samara
Author: E Phillips Oppenheim
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Language: English
Date first posted: June 2010
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------------------------------------------------------------------------

Title: Gabriel Samara
Author: E Phillips Oppenheim



BOOK ONE


Chapter I


Miss Sadie Loyes, the manageress of the Hotel Weltmore Typewriting
and Secretarial Bureau, set down the receiver of the telephone
which had its place upon her desk and studied thoughtfully the
eleven young ladies who comprised her present staff.  She stood
there, an angular, untidy-looking person, tapping a pencil against
her teeth, unconscious arbitress, not only of the fate of two very
interesting people, but also of the fate of a great nation.
Portentous events depended upon her decision.  A man's life in this
teeming city of New York was a small enough matter of itself.  The
life of this prospective client of hers, however, waiting now in
his suite on the eleventh floor for the help which he had summoned,
was hung about with destiny.  Meanwhile, Miss Sadie Loyes continued
to tap her teeth with the pencil, and reflect.  Which should it be?
The nearest and apparently the most industrious?  Her eyes rested
disparagingly upon Miss Bella Fox's golden-brown coiffure.  These
were dressy days in New York and style was all very well in its
way, but there was no mistaking the abbreviations of the young
lady's costume--very low from the throat downwards and displaying a
length of limb in a manner which, although perhaps sanctioned by
fashion, paid no excessive tribute to modesty.  Miss Fox's
jewellery, too, was a little in evidence, and there were rumours
about dinners at the Ritz!  On the whole perhaps it would be better
to keep this particular young lady back for one of these western
millionaires.  Dorothy Dickson might do: a young woman of far more
modest appearance, but a little careless with her shorthand.
Possibly it was as well not to risk her on an important assignment.
Then there was Florence White--expert enough, but a little
mysterious in her private life, and the recipient of too many boxes
of candy and offerings of roses from her clients to inspire her
employer with thorough confidence as to her commercial ability.
Then the pencil stopped.  Miss Borans!  Nothing whatever against
her; efficient, self-contained, reserved alike in dress and
demeanour, but with an air of breeding which none of these others
possessed.  Absolutely an obvious choice!

"Miss Borans," the manageress called out, in a shrill tone, "just
step this way, please."

The young lady addressed rose with composure, pushed her chair back
into its place, and approached her employer.  Space was limited in
the Hotel Weltmore and the Typewriting and Secretarial Bureau was
really a railed-off portion of the lounge on the first floor
reserved for "Ladies Only."

"I guess you'd better slip up to number eleven hundred and eighty,"
Miss Loyes directed.  "I'll send a machine and the rest of the
stuff right along--gentleman there in a hurry--his secretary caught
the fever while he was in Washington.  Samara, his name is--the
Good Lord knows where he got it!"

The girl seemed to stiffen.

"Samara, the Russian envoy?" she asked.

"You've got it, honey.  Speaks with an English accent, though, you
could cut with a knife."

"I would rather not work for Gabriel Samara," the girl declared.

It took a great deal to surprise Miss Sadie Loyes, but this newest
recruit to her secretarial staff had certainly succeeded.

"How?" she exclaimed.  "What's that?"

Miss Borans had not in the least the appearance of a young woman of
mercurial or changeable temperament.  Nevertheless, she seemed
already to be repenting her rather rash pronouncement.

"I beg your pardon, Miss Loyes," she said.  "That was perhaps a
foolish speech of mine.  Number eleven hundred and eighty, you
said.  I will go there at once."

"Say, do you know anything of this Mr. Samara?"

"Nothing personally," was the prompt reply.

"You haven't worked for him before?  He hasn't tried to be familiar
with you or anything of that sort?"

"Certainly not."

"Then what's the idea, eh?"

Miss Borans hesitated.

"I am of Russian descent," she confided.  "One has prejudices.  It
was foolish."

Miss Sadie Loyes had had a great deal of experience of the younger
members of her sex, and she studied her employee for a minute
thoughtfully.  Miss Catherine Borans conformed to no type with
which she was familiar.  She was a young woman of medium height,
slim and with the promise of a perfect body beneath the almost
Quaker-like simplicity of her gown.  She was rather full-faced,
with a broad forehead, dark silky eyelashes and clear brown eyes.
Her features were distinguished by reason of their clean-cut
clarity, her mouth was perfectly shaped although her lips were a
little full.  Her expression was not to be reckoned with, for
during the few weeks she had been employed at the Bureau she had
wrapped herself in a mantle of impenetrable reserve.

"I guessed you were a foreigner," Miss Sadie Loyes remarked
finally.  "Well, anyways, this Mr. Samara is a great guy over
there, isn't he?  The New York Press, at any rate, seems to be
giving him an almighty boom."

Miss Sadie Loyes had spent a busy life in narrow ways, and leaving
out England, France and Germany, "over there" represented for her
the rest of Europe.

"In his way I have no doubt that he is a great man," Miss Borans
acknowledged coldly.  "I was foolish to have any feeling in the
matter."

She passed on with her notebook in her hand, a noticeable figure in
the bustling promenades of the hotel, both from the quiet
distinction of her appearance and her utter indifference to the
cosmopolitan throngs through which she passed.  She took her place
in the crowded elevator, ascended to the eleventh floor, received a
pleasant nod from the young lady seated on guard at the corner of
the corridor, and touched the bell of number eleven hundred and
eighty.

"Mr. Samara's right there now," the latter observed from behind her
desk.  "I guess he's needing help badly, too.  They're talking of
having to take his secretary away to the hospital.  Stomach
trouble, I guess.  These foreigners eat different to us."

The door in front of them was suddenly opened.  Miss Borans was
confronted by a somewhat alarming looking personage; a man of over
six feet in height and broad in proportion, florid, blue-eyed and
of truculent appearance.  Not even the studious sombreness of his
attire could bring him into line with any recognised types of
domestic servitor.  He stared at this visitor without speaking.

"I have come from the Typewriting Bureau downstairs to do some work
for Mr. Samara," she announced.

Typists, especially of this order, were unknown quantities in the
world where Ivan Rortz had spent most of his days, but he stood
aside and ushered her through the little hall to the sitting-room
beyond.  It was of the ordinary hotel type, but flooded with light,
overheated, and, as it seemed to her in those first few seconds,
almost overcrowded with flowers.  Everywhere they flaunted their
elegance against the uncouth decorations of the room; a queer
contrast of exotic beauty and pretentious ugliness.  A man swung
round from a writing-desk to look at her--a man who she knew at
once must be Samara.

His study of her was superficial and incurious.  She, on the other
hand, brought all her powers of observation to bear upon the man
whom it was her daily lesson to learn to hate.  The illustrated
Press of many countries had made his features in a sense familiar--
yet, in a further sense, they had never done him justice.  She saw
a man of well over middle height, broad-shouldered yet with a
tendency to stoop.  His face was as hard as granite, cruel,
perhaps, and as expressionless as her own, yet redeemed by a mouth
which had wonderful possibilities of tenderness and humour.  His
hair was black and short, his eyebrows too heavy, his clear grey
eyes almost unduly penetrating.

"Well?" he exclaimed curtly.

"I am from the Typewriting Bureau," she announced once more.

He nodded.

"Where is your machine?"

"On the way up."

He pointed towards the book she was carrying.

"You write shorthand?"

"Certainly."

"Take down some letters.  Sit where you please.  I usually walk
about.  Some I will give you direct on to the typewriter, when it
arrives."

She seated herself deliberately at the end of the table, opened her
book, and glanced at her pencil to be sure that it was sharpened.
Then she waited.  He rose to his feet and stood with his back to
her, looking out of the window.  Presently he swung round, took up
a sheaf of letters from the desk, and grunted as he inspected them.

"Rubbishy work," he declared, "but it must be done.  Invitations to
every sort of a function under the sun.  One reply will do for the
lot--'Mr. Gabriel Samara regrets that he is unable to accept the
invitation,' etc., etc.," his thick eyebrows almost meeting in a
heavy frown.  "Got that?"

"Yes," she answered.

He threw a selection of the letters on the table before her,
destroying the remainder.  Then he made his way back to the desk
and loitered there with his hands in his pockets.

"I can't do these until the typewriter arrives," she reminded him.

"Naturally," he replied drily.  "I was wondering about the rest of
the work.  Here is your machine."

There was a knock at the door and a boy arrived with the
typewriter, which he set upon the table.  Catherine Borans began
her task.  Presently the telephone bell rang.  Samara motioned her
to answer it.

"A gentleman from the New York Hemisphere would like to see you,"
she announced.

He shook his head.

"You can answer all applications from journalists in the same
manner," he said.  "Just tell them that Mr. Samara has nothing to
communicate to the Press--with one exception, mind.  A Mr. Bromley
Pride will ring up from the New York Comet.  I will accord him an
interview.  And, whilst we are on this subject, be so good as to
inform the young lady outside that I will not have people waiting
about in the corridor to waylay me when I come out.  My lips are
sealed.  I have nothing to say to anyone."

Miss Borans carried out her instructions faithfully.  Then she
recommenced her task.  Suddenly Samara paused in his restless
perambulation of the room and looked at her intently.

"Are you to be trusted, young lady?" he inquired brusquely.

She abandoned her typing for a moment and looked up at him.

"I should say not," she replied.



Chapter II


Samara was distinctly taken aback.  His expression was one of
incredulous surprise, mingled with some irritation.

"What do you mean?" he demanded.

"My reply to your question," she explained, "was truthful, though
of course relative.  I should not, as a matter of fact, care to be
trusted with any of your important political correspondence."

"And why not?"

"I prefer not to discuss the matter further."

He smiled with gentle sarcasm.

"May I ask if this self-advertised untrustworthiness is universal
amongst the young ladies of the Bureau from which you come?"

She considered for a moment.

"Of course you can send for some one else if you like," she said.
"I would not trust any one of them with confidential documents,
though.  Your private secretary is the person to deal with them."

"But my private secretary," he confided, "is ill.  They are talking
of taking him to hospital."

She shrugged her shoulders.

"That is unfortunate," she admitted.  "Still, you have an Embassy
in Washington and a Russian Consul here.  Surely they should be
able to help you."

"You are without doubt a young lady of resource," he declared with
an indulgent smile.  "Nevertheless, there are reasons why I do not
wish to avail myself of the services of anyone having an official
connection with my country."

"Then," she advised, "I should write my letters myself."

He stood looking down at her, his hands in his pockets, his thick
eyebrows almost meeting in a heavy frown.  She felt her heart
beating a little more quickly.  Notwithstanding her even manner and
her very equable poise towards life, she was conscious of something
in this man's presence which was akin to fear.

"Your candour," he said, "inspires me with a certain amount of
confidence.  I hate writing letters.  My brain moves so much more
quickly than my clumsy fingers, that anything which I put on paper
is generally illegible.  There is a boat leaving to-night for
Cherbourg where I have a special agent waiting.  It is necessary
that I send an account of my negotiations here.  What is to be
done?"

"I can only repeat that, if your report has to do with your
negotiations with the President, I should write it by hand and hope
for the best," she rejoined coolly.

His eyes flashed.  For a moment he seemed almost to lose control of
himself.

"What in the name of all the Holy Saints of Russia do you know
about my negotiations with the President?" he demanded.

"Nothing more than a few other million people of the city," she
replied.  "I am an intelligent student of the daily Press, like
most American girls."

He looked at her suspiciously.

"I am not at all sure that you are an American girl," he growled.

"I have lived in New York for twenty-three years," she said meekly.
"You may not think it, but I can assure you that has not left me
much time to imbibe the instincts of other nationalities."

He sat at the opposite end of the table, staring at her, his hands
still in his pockets, his expression curiously dominated by the
uncertain curve of his lips.  For a brief moment she wondered
whether he were not laughing at her.

"Are all the young ladies of the Weltmore Typewriting Bureau gifted
with such glib tongues?" he inquired.

"By no means," she assured him.  "Believe me, I am quite an
exception.  I think I was sent because I was considered the most
serious minded."

"Heaven help the others!" he muttered.  "Now listen.  I am going to
trust you to a certain extent against your own advice.  I shall
dictate to you all except the vital part of my communication.  A
great deal of what you are going to take down I should prefer you
to forget.  The most private part of all I shall write in my own
hand, and God grant that some one at the other end will be able to
read it."

Catherine Borans thrust a new sheet of paper into the typewriter
and bent over her task.  For half-an-hour or more the man opposite
to her dictated.  Then he took the sheets which she had typed over
to his desk and drew pen and ink towards him.

"You can go on with the other work," he enjoined, commencing to
write.

The scratching of his pen ceased almost as she addressed the last
of her envelopes.  He turned in his chair just as she had risen to
her feet.

"Don't go yet," he begged, throwing another pile of letters upon
the table.  "There are all these to be attended to and it is
necessary for some one to be here to answer the telephone.
Besides, I have a question to ask you."

"A question?" she repeated doubtfully.

"Yes.  I am a stranger in your country and I hope that you will
gratify my curiosity.  If I had dictated the vital part of this
letter to you, wherein lay the fear of your probity?  Do you mean
that you would have sold its contents to the Press?"

"That would have been a temptation," she confessed, carelessly
tapping the keys of her typewriter.  "I am a working girl, you
know, and am supposed to be well paid at thirty dollars a week.
I think that any newspaper in New York would probably give ten
thousand dollars for a true account of your conversation with the
President and the arrangement at which you arrived.  Fancy the
clothes I could have bought and the countries I could have visited
with ten thousand dollars!"

"Yes," he admitted thoughtfully, "I suppose I was running a certain
amount of risk.  By the by, I presume it would have been the Press
with whom you would have dealt?"

"With whom else?" she asked.

"There are others," he observed, watching her keenly; "politicians,
shall we call them?--who would be curious to know the precise
conclusions at which we arrived in Washington yesterday."

"Naturally," she assented.

"Even in Europe," he went on, "this business of secret societies
and international espionage is a little on the wane.  One nation
only continues to use it as her great weapon.  In America I never
dreamed of coming across anything of the sort.  Have I by some
chance stumbled upon the unexpected, Miss--I beg your pardon, I
have forgotten what you told me your name was."

"I have not told you my name."

"Please repair the omission."

"I do not see the necessity," she objected.  "I am the young lady
typist from the Hotel Bureau.  You have been unfortunate inasmuch
as I am the only one in the office likely to be interested in your
mission and its results.  To-morrow you had better ask for some one
else.  There are two or three there, perhaps not more trustworthy
than I, but who will take down anything you dictate without a
glimmer of comprehension.  I should recommend Miss Bella Fox."

He shook his head.

"The name is sufficient," he declared.  "I should dislike Miss
Bella Fox and I could not dictate to her.  I shall ask for you.
Tell me how to do so."

"My name is Catherine Borans."

"And if I had dictated to you what I have written with my own hand,
what would have been the nature of the risk I should have run?"

"I decline," she said, "to answer your question."

The telephone at her elbow rang whilst Samara stood scowling down
at her.  She turned and took the call.  As she listened she frowned
slightly.

"Tell me your name again, please?" she asked.

The name was apparently repeated.  The girl spoke into the
receiver.

"Please wait," she begged.  "I will tell Mr. Samara that you are
here."

She laid down the receiver and pushed the instrument a little away.
Then she turned towards her companion.

"There is a gentleman downstairs who says that his name is 'Bromley
Pride,' and that he has called from the New York Comet to see you."

Samara nodded.

"That is quite in order," he assented.  "He can come up.  Please
tell him so."

She did not at once obey.  She was evidently perplexed.

"Since you are so much interested in my affairs," her companion
continued, "I will tell you that the President himself, looking
upon the paper which I understand Mr. Bromley Pride represents, as
his official mouthpiece, has suggested that I confide to him a
certain portion of the result of our negotiations."

"Indeed," she murmured.

"Recognising to the full," he went on, with a faint note of sarcasm
in his tone, "and thoroughly appreciating your kindly interest, I
would yet point out that this is a matter which is already decided.
Will you please therefore ask Mr. Pride to step up."

"I would do so," she replied, dropping her voice a little and
holding the telephone receiver still further away, "but, as a
matter of fact, he is not there."

"What do you mean?" he demanded.

"I happen to know Mr. Bromley Pride quite well," she explained.  "I
am also very well acquainted with his voice.  The man who is
impersonating him downstairs is a stranger!"



Chapter III


Gabriel Samara seemed for a moment puzzled and unable to appreciate
the significance of his companion's words.

"In any case," he rejoined, "beg whoever is down there to come up.
Mr. Pride has probably sent a substitute."

Catherine leaned over the instrument with an expressionless face.

"Is it Mr. Bromley Pride himself speaking?" she asked.

"Yes."

"You are to come up, then."

She laid down the receiver without remark.

"Well?" Samara demanded impatiently.

"The man who is below insists on it that he is Mr. Bromley Pride,"
she announced.

"And you still don't believe him?"

"I know that he is not," she replied.  "I have worked for Mr.
Bromley Pride.  We are old acquaintances."

"Some journalistic dodge, perhaps," he muttered.  She began
gathering together the paraphernalia connected with her machine.

"It is not my business," she continued quietly, "to offer you
advice.  I am not sure that I am disposed to do so, but as a matter
of common sense I must say that I wonder at you admitting to your
apartments a man who is visiting you under a fake name when you
have a document, presumably of some interest to the world, lying
there on your desk."

Samara looked at her with wide-open eyes.

"But my dear young lady," he protested, "we are in the very centre
of civilisation.  This is New York."

"A city of which you are evidently extremely ignorant."

Her attitude suddenly inspired him with disquietude.  He began to
reflect.

"There are some people, of course," he muttered, "who would give
the price of a kingdom to know this before I got home.  But surely--
here--"

She interrupted him.

"Mr. Samara," she said quietly, "I have read several biographies of
you.  In every one of them, the chronicler has observed that, for a
diplomatist of world-wide fame, you are possessed of a remarkably
unsuspicious nature.  I agree with your chroniclers.  Good
morning."

"Stop!" he begged her.

There was the sound of the bell.  It was rung in quite an ordinary
manner, but to both of them there seemed something sinister in its
drawn-out summons.  She looked at him.

"Your servant?"

"He is sitting with my secretary, Andrew Kroupki."

"I will answer the door," she announced.

"And remain, if you please," he insisted.

She turned away, threw open the outside door, and returned a moment
later, ushering in a visitor.  She made no comment as she stood on
one side to let him pass, but both she and Samara himself studied
the new-comer curiously.  He was a pleasant-looking man, neatly
dressed, with an amiable expression, and the shoulders of an
athlete.  He carried a black portfolio under his arm, which he set
down carefully upon the table, close to the typewriter, before
proceeding to introduce himself.  His voice, when he spoke, was
distinctly a home product and free from any foreign accent.

"I am very pleased to meet you, Mr. Samara," he said, as he gripped
the latter's hand.  "This is an honour I appreciate very highly."

Samara motioned his visitor towards a chair.  He was wondering why
his dislike had been of such quick conception.

"I must tell you, Mr. Pride," he explained, "that my own desire was
to have kept absolutely secret the nature of my negotiations with
your Government until I had had an opportunity of setting them
before my advisers in Moscow.  Your President, however, thought
that complete reticence as to my mission would be too much to ask
of your Press, and that therefore an idea of the arrangement
concluded had better be given to a representative journal such as
your own."

"Quite so," the visitor murmured.  "My paper holds almost an
official position here."

"May I ask what post you occupy upon it?" Samara inquired.

"I am a member of the Board of Directors," was the prompt reply.
"I am also leader-writer on international affairs."

"And your name is Pride?"

"Yes--James D. Bromley Pride.  You can speak right out to me.  No
need to keep a thing back!"

A quiet voice from the other end of the room suddenly intervened.
The words themselves seemed harmless enough, but their effect was
cataclysmic.

"There is surely some mistake.  Mr. Bromley Pride of the New York
Comet is in Philadelphia."

Samara himself was a little taken aback by the unexpected
intervention of his temporary secretary.  The expression on his
visitor's face was momentarily illuminative.

"My name is Catherine Borans," was the composed announcement.  "I
belong to the Typewriting Bureau downstairs.  I have often worked
for Mr. Pride.  You are not he."

The pseudo Mr. Pride had regained his presence of mind.  He pointed
to the card which he had laid upon the table.

"This young woman's interference is impertinent and absurd," he
declared.  "If I am not Bromley Pride of the New York Comet, how is
it that I am here at all?  I received my instructions from the
editor himself this morning."

Samara looked across towards Catherine.

"Telephone the editor of the New York Comet," he directed.  "Ask
him to send some one round to identify this gentleman.  I do not
wish to be offensive," he went on, turning to his visitor, "but
your identity is a matter upon which I must be entirely assured."

The sang-froid of this caller of disputed personality was amazing.
Before Catherine could take off the receiver he stepped quickly
towards the telephone and faced them both.

"The young lady has spoken the truth," he confessed.  "I am not
Bromley Pride.  I am, as a matter of fact, the representative of a
rival newspaper.  You do not need to be told, Mr. Samara, that here
in New York a live journalist will go further than assume another
man's name to get hold of a big scoop--and then some!  He will risk
more even than being thrown down eleven flights of stairs!  Is
there any price you are inclined to name, sir, for the particulars
which you were about to hand on to the New York Comet?"

Samara's eyes flashed and his frown was menacing.

"An impostor!" he exclaimed.  "I request you to withdraw at once
from my apartment."

"And I decline," was the prompt reply.  "I may tell you right away
that I am prepared to go to any lengths to secure this information
from you."

"Indeed," Samara scoffed.  "May I ask in what direction you propose
to make your effort?"

The visitor stretched out his hand backwards and, from one of the
folds of that harmless-looking black portfolio which he had left
propped up against the typewriter, he drew out an automatic pistol
of particularly sinister appearance.  His mask of amiability had
gone.  There was a malicious gleam in his eyes, a cruel twist to
his mouth.

"Gabriel Samara," he announced, "I am no journalist at all.  I am,
as a matter of fact, in another line of business altogether.  It is
up to me to discover what arrangements you have come to with the
President, and how far such arrangements are going to help you with
your plans in Russia.  I do not desire to alarm either you or the
young lady, but I am going to have the truth."

Samara smiled contemptuously.  There was not a flicker of
expression in Catherine's face.

"Pray set your mind at ease so far as we are concerned," he begged.
"Neither the young lady nor I are in the least alarmed at your
braggadocio.  As a matter of curiosity," he went on, "supposing I
were disposed to submit to this highway robbery, how do you know
that I should tell you the truth?"

The intruder pointed to the typewriter and to the written sheets on
the desk.

"There is only one task upon which you could be engaged this
morning," he said.  "I guess those sheets will do for me, anyway."

"And supposing by any remote chance I should refuse to give them to
you," Samara persisted, "is it your purpose, may I ask, to
assassinate me?"

"To be candid, yes," was the blunt reply.  "But for the fear of
canonising you in your own country, you would have been
assassinated long ago.  To-day things are different.  Even Russia
can spare you.  Let the young lady fetch the papers and hand them
to me."

"The young lady will do nothing of the sort," Samara declared
firmly.  "So much of the result of my mission as I propose to make
public at present you can read in the New York Comet to-morrow.
Now, if it is your intention to assassinate me, you had better get
on with it."

The gun was slowly raised to a horizontal position.  The face of
the man behind it was hideously purposeful.

"What you don't realise," he said deliberately, "is that I am in
earnest.  You are a marked man, Gabriel Samara, less popular in
your own country than you were, and hated in mine.  Sooner or later
this would have been your end anyway, but listen--I'm telling you--
your time has come now, unless you place those papers on the table
in front of you--before I count five.  Before I count five, mind,
or I shall shoot!"

Samara looked around the room quickly.  There was no fear in his
face, only the reasonable search of a man who loves life for some
means of escape.  There was none which he could apprehend.  His
assailant was between him and the bell, and the breaking of a
window on the eleventh floor--even if it attracted any attention in
the street--would be unlikely to bring help in time.  All the while
the young woman behind the typewriter was watching him, with steady
eyes and unmoved expression.

"One--two--three--four--"

"I shouldn't worry," her quiet voice interrupted soothingly.  "That
gun will not hurt you."

There was a second's stupefaction, then the sound of a harmless
click.  The silence which followed seemed intolerable, broken
though it was in a matter of moments by the piercing shrillness of
the whistle which Catherine held to her lips.  For the first time
Samara himself was dumbfounded; so was his would-be murderer, who
was staring open-mouthed at his useless weapon.

"You see," the young woman who had dominated the situation
explained to Samara, "this bungling conspirator--really he ought to
take a lesson from one of the novelists--put down his satchel
behind the cover of my typewriter, having opened it himself first--
to get at his gun easily, I suppose.  I saw the glitter, so whilst
he was indulging in one of his little bursts of eloquence, I
slipped out the cartridge roll."

She held it up.  Outside there was the sound of a key in the door.

"I have a smaller gun of the same pattern at home myself, so I
understand all about them," she went on equably.  "And I hope you
don't think I was blowing that whistle for its musical properties.
It belongs to the hotel detective.  What are you going to say to
him, I wonder?"

The door was thrown open and a stalwart, broad-shouldered man
entered hastily.  He was in plain clothes but the stamp of
officialdom was unmistakable.



Chapter IV


"I'm Brown, the hotel detective," the newcomer announced sharply.
"What's wrong here?"

The pseudo Mr. Pride shrugged his shoulders resignedly.

"I'm a free-lance journalist," he declared; "got connections with
half-a-dozen New York papers.  I wanted Mr. Samara's news and I
tried to bluff him into giving it to me."

"A little more than that, I fancy," Samara observed.  "There wasn't
much bluff about your automatic."

"Are you carrying firearms?" the detective asked.

The man who called himself Pride handed over his gun.

"I'm through," he confessed.  "If I could have bluffed Mr. Samara
into giving me a report of his interview in Washington yesterday it
would have been worth fifty thousand dollars to me.  I failed and I
guess it's up to me to take the consequences."

The detective was impressed, but non-committal.  He appealed to
Samara.

"Is this all there is to it?" he inquired.

Samara shook his head.

"The man threatened to assassinate me and appeared to be in
earnest," he replied.  "If the young lady there had not withdrawn
the cartridges from his automatic pistol, he would probably have
done so.  I do not believe that he is a journalist at all.  It is,
I imagine, a political affair."

The detective turned to Catherine.  Her deep brown eyes were filled
with what appeared to be amazement.  She shook her head.

"Mr. Samara was naturally alarmed," she said, "but I do not believe
that he was in any actual danger."

The detective looked quickly from one to the other of the three
people in the little tableau.  Their faces were an interesting
study.  Both Samara and his would-be assassin were obviously
surprised; the latter, however, quickly concealed his emotion.

"You don't think that he meant business, then?" the detective
asked.

"My impression is that he was only bluffing," was the confident
reply.

"Then why did you blow that whistle?" her questioner persisted.

"I am rather a nervous person," she confided.  "I hated the thought
that there might be trouble while I was in the room."

Samara's amazement was genuine and sincere.  He came a little
farther into the centre of the apartment and stood looking down at
Catherine.

"You didn't hear the click, then, when he pulled the trigger of his
gun?"

"Did he pull it?" she asked.  "Well, after all, it wasn't loaded."

He pointed to the roll of cartridges.

"But you admitted yourself that you took those out of his gun."

She smiled enigmatically.

"This has been rather a shock to you, hasn't it?" she said.  "I was
quite worked up myself.  I think we probably took the whole matter
too seriously."

The self-styled journalist who, during the last few moments, had
been suffering from an amazement equal to Samara's, recovered
himself and played up to his cue.

"Of course," he declared, "it is ridiculous to imagine that the
whole thing was more than a bluff.  I wanted the news and I failed.
Well, there you are!  Fine or prison, it's all the same to me.
I'll pay the price!"

"Have you any charge to offer, sir?" the detective inquired of
Samara.

The latter considered the matter under its new aspect.

"If you will undertake," he stipulated, "to keep that man under
surveillance until I am out of the country, that will satisfy me.
I am convinced, however, that he is a dangerous person and,
notwithstanding all that has been said, I am also convinced that he
is capable of making a deliberate attempt upon my life.  Under the
circumstances, however, I can make no charge.  If you take my
advice, you will inquire into his antecedents and his connection
with journalism.  You may experience some surprises."

The detective was inclined to be disappointed at this tame
conclusion to the affair.

"I guess we'll take you to police headquarters," he decided,
turning to Bromley Pride's impersonator.  "The clerk can ask you a
few questions and we'll have you held.  I'll take care of your gun,
if you don't mind, and you can hand me over those cartridges, young
lady.  Will you step across with us to police headquarters, Mr.
Samara, and state your case?"

Samara shook his head.

"In face of the young lady's story," he observed drily, "I don't
think that my evidence is necessary.  Do what you will about the
man.  I have told you the truth about him."

The detective and his charge left the room.  As the latter neared
the threshold he looked curiously back at Catherine.  Her face,
however, was inscrutable.  The door closed upon them.  Samara and
his temporary secretary were alone.  The former took a cigarette
and lit it.

"In the first place, young lady," he began, "will you permit me to
thank you for having saved my life.  In the second place, unless
you wish me to die of curiosity, will you tell me at once why you
gave false evidence to the detective and placed me in a rather
absurd position?"

Catherine continued her task of collecting her belongings.

"If you have no more work for me," she said, "the office will be
expecting me to report.  They will charge you for this extra half
an hour as it is."

"I engage you for the day," he declared, frowning.

"You must arrange that with Miss Loyes," she replied coldly.  "I
have an appointment at three o'clock."

He took up the telephone receiver.

"Typewriting Bureau--urgent," he demanded. . . .  "Good.  Mr.
Samara speaking.  Can I secure the services of the young lady who
is with me now for the rest of the day? . . .  Good!  Certainly."

He replaced the receiver and turned round with a faint smile of
triumph.

"You belong to me for the day," he announced.

Her fingers strayed over the keys of her machine.

"My secretarial accomplishments," she reminded him.  "Not my
confidence."

Samara had never been more than a casual observer of women, had
never studied them intimately, had certainly never appreciated
them.  Other passions had lain more closely entwined with his life.
He scrutinised Catherine for the first time with half-reluctant
interest, realising the finer qualities of her, the delicate
femininity, coupled with an amazing self-reliance.  He realised,
too, that in the subtlest of all ways she was beautiful.

"Did you know that assassin whose cause you suddenly espoused with
such vigour?" he begged.  "Tell me why you chose to sit there and
tell deliberate falsehoods for his sake?"

"It happened to amuse me," she observed, smiling.  "After all, you
have nothing to complain of.  I saved your life and subsequently I
prevented your taking vengeance upon your would-be murderer.  We
might call it quits, I think."

Samara was immensely puzzled.  He frowned down at her moodily.

"Sheer sentimentality," he muttered.  "I hate cut-throats.  It's a
dirty business shooting at unarmed men."

"He wasn't a pleasant person," she agreed.  "I disliked his
moustache and the colour of his tie.  Shall we decide to forget
him?  I am at your disposal for the rest of the day.  Have you
letters to give me?"

He shrugged his shoulders.  It was a novelty this, to find a woman
with a will as strong as his own.  Then he glanced at his watch.

"I have to go out for half-an-hour," he announced.  "I shall be
glad if you will arrange the typewritten sheets I gave you and pin
in the pages I wrote by hand in the proper order."

She looked at him in surprise.

"But this is the document all the trouble has been about!" she
exclaimed.  "I might read it!"

He crossed the room to the desk where he had been writing,
collected the sheets and brought them over to her.

"My dear young lady," he said, "you are welcome to read my little
contribution--if you can."

She studied the closely-written pages with an apparently puzzled
air.

"So that is Russian," she remarked.

He nodded.  "Looks terrible, doesn't it?  Here is my servant back
again.  Ivan, bring me my coat and hat, and watch over this young
lady whilst I am away.  With Ivan Rortz about the place," he
continued, "no one will be likely to disturb you.  I shall give
orders outside, too, that no visitors are permitted to enter."

She was still gazing at those sheets filled with strange-looking
words.

"Very well," she assented, "I will have this all in order by the
time you get back."

To all appearance nothing had happened when Samara returned from
his visit to a great banking house in Wall Street.  He gave his
coat and hat to Ivan who was sitting--a grim, silent figure--in the
little hall.  Then he passed into the inner room where Catherine,
having apparently completed her task, was leaning back in her
chair, turning over the pages of the document which she had pinned
together.

"Well?" he asked with sardonic pleasantry.  "Did you make anything
of it?"

She laid it down and glanced up at him.

"Naturally," she replied.  "I read it."

"But the Russian part?"

"The Russian part, of course.  It was the most interesting."

He stared at her.  "What do you mean?" he demanded.  "You can't
read Russian?"

She laughed.  "What an accusation!"

For a moment he looked at her.  All the time he had been troubled
by a sense of a vague likeness; not, perhaps, to any particular
person, but to a type.

"Surely you told me that you were an American?" he asked.

She shook her head.

"Oh, no," she replied.  "I told you that I had lived in America for
twenty-three years."

"Then what are you?"

"As much Russian as you are," she assured him, smiling.



Chapter V


Samara, though a great statesman and undoubtedly a great ruler, was
a man of unsuspicious temperament and had more than once committed
what might have turned out to be diplomatic blunders.  He was also,
however, at all times a man of action.  He locked the door behind
him, drew a chair in front of the telephone and sat facing the
young lady whom he had engaged to be his secretary for the day.

"I think," he said, "we will have an explanation."

She smiled graciously.

"As I now know exactly the arrangements you have made with the
Government of this country," she remarked, "I am perfectly willing
to tell you anything you want to know."

"In the first place then," he asked, "are you a spy, and, if you
are, in whose interests are you working?"

"I am nothing of the sort," she assured him.  "I am in effect
exactly what I seem to be.  I am a young lady of New York City, of
scanty means, earning a living by typewriting and secretarial
work."

"But you are Russian?"

"My father and mother were both Russians," she acknowledged.  "I
recognise it as my country.  I have lived here all my life,
however."

"We are getting on," he said.  "Is Borans your real name?"

"A sufficient portion of it," she answered.  "The rest of it is not
important."

"Will you explain to me," he went on, "why you first saved my life
and then behaved so strangely with regard to my would-be murderer?"

"Now that I have read this document," she said, touching it with
her fingers, "I am disposed to explain to you.  I am not a spy in
any sense of the word, but I am a patriotic Russian.  I belong to a
little circle of Russians living here, who are filled with one idea
as regards our country.  We have not even the dignity of being a
secret society.  Everyone knows everything about us and everyone
laughs at us.  We look upon you with respect but as a very
obstructive person."

"Upon me?" he exclaimed.  "And you call yourself a patriot!  Don't
dare to tell me that you are a Bolshevist!"

"I am not," she replied indignantly.  "I am free to confess that
you have wiped Russia clean of a great curse.  You have done a
splendid work, but you have not done it our way."

"What, in God's name, are you then?" he asked impatiently.  "What
party do you represent?  I have dragged Russia out of the slough.
I have re-established her institutions, her economic position.
Already she is lifting her head amongst the nations of the world."

"I admit that freely," she acknowledged.  "It is because I realise
what Russia owes you that you are alive.  I do not wish, however,
to tell you any more at present about myself and my political
views.  I saved your life because I believe that you are still
necessary to Russia, but in a certain sense, I and your would-be
assassin are alike.  We share one great grievance against you.  We
resent--or perhaps some might say fear--your great scheme of
demilitarisation."

Samara laughed a little harshly.

"Really," he said, "I never imagined that life in New York could be
so interesting.  The atmosphere of this room, however, is getting
on my nerves.  I have been through all I can stand for one morning.
I can hear the click of that wicked-looking pistol even now.  Young
lady, where are your friends?  Why do I not know them?  I thought
most of the Russians in New York who had aims or views had been to
see me."

She shook her head.  "Not all," she told him.  "There are still a
few of us who hold aloof."

"Miss Borans," he invited, "will you please do me the honour of
taking lunch with me?"

She rose to her feet with alacrity.

"Not in the hotel," she begged.  "It isn't allowed.  Anywhere else
with great pleasure.  I warn you, though, that my morning's work
has given me an absurd appetite."

"I shall be proud to minister to it," he assured her.

They lunched at a secluded table in the balcony of the Ritz Carlton.
Gabriel Samara, like many another man whose life is immersed in his
work, and who finds himself committed to an unusual action in his
everyday routine, was conscious of a curious light-heartedness. He felt
as if he were a schoolboy at play. He, Gabriel Samara, taking his
companion of a morning to luncheon in a restaurant!

"It intrigues me," she remarked, "to think that notwithstanding all
your diplomats here and Mr. Bromley Pride of the New York Comet--
who, by the way, telephoned to say that he is on his way back from
Philadelphia and will see you this afternoon--I am the only person
in the world with whom you can discuss the result of your mission
to Washington."

"What I shall do with you, I can't imagine," he groaned.
"Everything will come out in due course, naturally, but premature
disclosure before I get back might do an enormous amount of harm.
I have a very strenuous opposition to face, as you may realise."

"You need not be afraid," she assured him.  "If you are really
going to give me lobster newburg I shall keep your secret!  I warn
you that if I thought that disclosure would aid our own cause, not
all the precious stones in your mines could keep me silent, nor all
the gold which will soon be flowing into your banks.  As it is you
are safe."

"That is something to be thankful for, at any rate," he declared.
"Miss Borans, treat me with confidence.  You interest me.  Let us
talk frankly.  If indeed you are a patriotic Russian, and have
studied in any way the history of our times, you will know that I,
too, am one.  Wherein does my policy of reconstruction differ from
yours?  Why don't you approve of demilitarisation?  Why should I
consent to my country keeping under arms the greatest war machine
in Europe to pull the chestnuts out of the fire for another
nation?"

"There I agree," she admitted.  "There must be no more wars."

"But for my errand here," he continued, "there would have been war
within a few years.  You cannot keep four million men under arms
indefinitely without trouble.  If you knew the tension at the
present moment, the stream of proposals, the envoys who have been
continually sent to me!"

She nodded.

"Don't tell me too much about them," she warned him.  "You might
find that I am not so much on your side as you think."

"But this demilitarisation," he persisted.  "You must approve of
that.  We have three perfectly trained armies, of a million men
each, ready to fight at a moment's notice?  Why?  You know why, and
so do I.  Isn't it a sane thing to disband a million according to
my arrangements, now that I have been able to obtain a credit in
Washington for the reconstruction of the industries for which we
can use their labour?  Think!  In six month's time, not a man of
that million will be bearing arms.  They will be miners, or on the
land, working in factories, on the railways, or road making, just
according to their natural bent.  Why, it's blood and bone in the
country; a million productive toilers instead of a million
wastrels!"

"Theoretically I agree," she acknowledged.  "It is because I agree
that I saved your life."

"Then why did you take his side?" he demanded bluntly.

"Because, although our point of view and ultimate aim are entirely
different," she replied, "your would-be assassin stands, in a
sense, for the same things that we do."

Samara gave the waiter an order and leaned back in his place.

"Explain," he insisted.  "In as few words as possible, please.  I
am weary of not understanding."

"Why should I explain?" she murmured.  "It is all very simple.  We
grant you that you have lifted Russia out of the slough, but we do
not believe that your methods, that your system of government will
place her back where she has a right to be."

The light broke in upon him then.

"I see!" he exclaimed.  "Who are your friends here?  Can I meet
them?"

A sudden deepening of the little lines at the corners of her eyes
and the twitching of her lips betrayed a genuine amusement.

"What a sensation I should cause if I took you to see them!" she
laughed.  "I see their faces when I present you!  It would be
amazing!"

"Risk it," he begged.  "Why not?  I am proud to look any Russian
patriot in the face and tell him who I am."

She was interested.

"Yes, I suppose you do feel like that," she observed, after a
moment's pause.  "Why shouldn't you?  Sometimes I, myself, make
almost a hero of you.  I'm quite sure that I shall always be proud
to think that I have lunched with the great Samara.  I shall be
grateful, too, for other reasons.  Do you find me very greedy?"

"Delightfully so," he admitted.  "All healthy people are greedy.
The vice of it only creeps in with the lack of self-restraint."

"I suppose," she remarked, "my manners are good, but if you only
knew how I longed to see whether he has remembered the olives with
the chicken.  Hold tight to your chair now, please, and prepare for
a shock.  I am going to ask you a sickeningly obvious question.
Tell me how you like America?"

Gabriel Samara looked around him thoughtfully.  He answered the
spirit which prompted the question rather than the question itself.

"I venerate America," he declared.  "Why shouldn't I?  In a sense I
am the champion of modern democracy.  America is a shining light to
all other nations, yet I maintain that Russia, with its unified
population, has a better chance of reaching the supreme heights."

"I sometimes wonder," she sighed, "whether the true spirit of a
republic can flourish in a land which knows such terrible extremes
of wealth and poverty?"

"It is a drawback," he agreed.  "That is where we in Russia have an
advantage.  We are framing a new constitution.  Our laws are
adapted to meet existing circumstances.  Communism is dead, but we
shall never tolerate the multi-millionaire."

"Do you think," she asked, "that Germany will ever let you become
really powerful?"

"Not willingly," he replied, "but the monarchical sentiment in
Germany is not strong enough yet to upset the government of the
country.  Germany, of course, will bitterly resent the success of
my mission over here, but she will have to get rid of her republic
before we need take the war scare seriously."

She looked at him across the table.

"Do you think that the monarchist party in Germany is gaining
ground?" she asked.

"I know nothing about German internal affairs," he answered
evasively.  "I have more than enough to do to keep in touch with
the trend of opinion in my own country."

The thread of conversation appeared to be suddenly broken.  Samara
began to ask questions about the people by whom they were
surrounded.  The restaurant on this fine spring morning seemed like
a great nosegay of brilliant flowers.  Three-quarters of the guests
were women and it was a season of abandonment in colour, with
yellow and pink predominating.  New York, too, no less than Paris,
was a city of subtle perfumes, cunningly distilled and exotic.
Samara, smoking his cigarette with the air of an epicure, found
much to interest him in his environment.

"These people are like Russians in one way," he remarked.  "They
spend their money."

"I have a German friend here," she confided, "who argues that there
is always more extravagance under a republic.  His point is that
the bourgeoisie make money easily and spend it readily.  The
aristocrat who has to keep up a great appearance is compelled to be
more miserly, apart even from the question of good taste."

"Is this the prelude to a discussion upon the ethics of
government?" he suggested, smiling.

"Indeed, no," she replied.  "I am not so presumptuous.  My
principles are matters of instinct with me.  I do not argue about
them.  I accept them."

She helped herself to one of his proffered cigarettes, and he paid
the bill.

"Quite the monarchical touch," he observed.  "If you are postponing
your return to your native land, however, until there is a Tzar
upon the throne, I am afraid you are doomed to a very long spell of
homesickness."

"Who knows?" she exclaimed carelessly.  "Revolutions are rather the
fashion just now.  I may return to find you in chains and the knout
cracking once more."

She had spoken lightly enough, but he chose to take her seriously.

"As a matter of fact," he confided, "there is a certain amount of
very disquieting truth in what you say.  I have stamped out
Bolshevism in Russia for ever.  The spirit of anarchistic
communism, at any rate, is dead, but I honestly believe that,
especially amongst the peasantry, there is an unwholesome sort of
craving for the burdens of Tzardom."

"That is almost the most interesting thing that you have said," she
remarked, as they rose to go.  "Thanks very much for my wonderful
luncheon.  Do you really require my services this afternoon?"

"Without a doubt," he insisted.  "I am going on from here to pay a
call.  At four o'clock I shall be back in my rooms.  Let me find
you there, if you please."

They were about to part in the hallway of the restaurant, when Mrs.
Saxon J. Bossington intervened.  She sailed down upon them with the
air of taking both into custody; ample, fashionably dressed, a
triumph of artificiality, forty--or perhaps fifty--lisping with the
ingenuousness of childhood.

"Why, if this isn't our little working girl!" she exclaimed,
gripping the none too willing hand of Samara's companion.  "Well,
well, is this where you young women who earn your livings lunch as
a rule?  The number of times I've asked you to make one of our
little luncheon parties here, Catherine, and you have always told
me 'nothing doing in working hours.'"

Catherine presented the appearance of a young person of good
breeding, striving to be polite whilst in bodily pain.

"To-day is an exception," she said.  "I am lunching with a
fellow-countryman."

Mrs. Saxon J. Bossington smiled graciously.  She had just
sufficient discernment, born of her social craving, to appreciate
distinction even when it did not conform to type.

"Present your friend," she suggested.

Catherine, with a deprecating glance at her companion, murmured his
name.  Samara bowed--a little lower perhaps than was usual in a
city where handshaking is almost sacramental.  He did not seem to
notice, however, the pearl-gloved hand so frankly extended.

"You're not Mr. Gabriel Samara, who has come over from Russia to
see our President?" she exclaimed breathlessly.

"My name," he replied, "is Gabriel Samara.  I know of no other.  I
have just come from Washington where your President was good enough
to receive me."

Mrs. Saxon J. Bossington simply quivered with excitement.  It was
without a doubt a most thrilling meeting.

"I want to tell you, Mr. Samara, right now," she declared, "that
you've met the one woman in New York who has read every line that's
been written about you since you landed and who has been just crazy
to meet you.  This is going to be wonderful.  Catherine's bringing
you to-night, of course?"

"I beg your pardon," he observed, genuinely perplexed.  "I have not
the honour--"

"Catherine?  Miss Borans, of course--you will come to-night with
her?  It's the meeting, you know.  Why, it will be great!  Prince
Nicholas is coming, General Orenburg, Colonel Kirdorff, the dear
Grand Duchess--all of them!  It's most opportune!"

Samara turned to his companion.  He was guilty of a gross breach of
manners.  He addressed her in Russian.

"What is this woman talking about?" he demanded.

Mrs. Bossington was delighted.  She rippled on before Catherine had
a chance to reply.

"Such a wonderful language!" she exclaimed.  "Sometimes they talk
it in conclave, and I can assure you, Mr. Samara, it just thrills
me.  Some people call it harsh.  I love it.  Don't you think,
Catherine dear," she went on, her tone becoming almost wheedling,
"that you could persuade Mr. Samara to come a little earlier and
dine with us first to-night--just a very small affair--twenty
covers or so?  Joseph would be tickled to death."

Catherine laid her hand upon the arm of her loquacious acquaintance.

"Mrs. Bossington," she said, "I am afraid you don't quite
understand.  Mr. Samara is a Russian, of course, and a very
distinguished one, but his aims are scarcely the aims of our
friends.  I do not think we should agree.  It never even occurred
to me to bring Mr. Samara to the meeting."

Mrs. Bossington was horrified.

"My dear," she cried, "you're crazy!  There you are, a dozen of
you, all Russians, out of a home and out of a country and longing
to get back again.  Why, here's a man who can help you.  Get
together and talk it over.  I'm only thankful it's my turn to
entertain you.  I should be the proudest woman in New York to think
that Mr. Samara had paid me a visit.  If we could only fix up that
dinner!"

Gabriel Samara was a little weary.  His glance was straying through
the windows to the sunlit streets.  The close atmosphere of the
lounge, the heavy perfumes, the din of conversation were beginning
to nauseate him.

"I have a call to make in the hotel, Miss Borans," he reminded her.
"If you and Mrs.--Mrs. Bossington, I believe--will excuse me, I
will take my leave.  The Ambassador from my country is expecting me
at half-past two."

His would-be hostess gripped him by the arm.

"Not one step do you move from here," she insisted, "until you have
promised to come and see these good people to-night."

"So far as that is concerned," he replied, "I am in Miss Borans'
hands.  If it is her wish--if they are country-people of mine who
desire to meet me--I shall be charmed."

Mrs. Saxon J. Bossington had attained her object.  She saw some
friends to whom it was necessary that she should immediately
communicate the fact that she had been discussing Russian politics
with Mr. Gabriel Samara.  With a little shower of farewells she
departed.  Catherine glanced up at her companion.  There was
something of mutual comprehension in their smile.

"It appears to be our fate to spend the evening together," he
remarked.

"We shall see," she murmured.  "Shall I expect you about four?"

"I shall not be later," he promised.

Samara watched his departing companion as she passed through the
little throng of gossiping women on her way to the street.  Amongst
all this flamboyant elegance, these vivid splashes of colour, and
elaborate toilettes, there was something almost aloof in her still
drabness--her disdain of all those freely displayed arts.  Yet, so
far as sheer femininity was concerned, Samara felt the spell of her
so strongly that not one of the many attractive women by whom he
was surrounded, several of whom looked at him with friendly
curiosity, seemed in any way comparable to her.  He watched her
disappear and turned back into the hotel to keep an appointment
with the Ambassador of his country, who had followed him from
Washington the night before.  His eagerness for the approaching
discussion, however, had suddenly evaporated.

"I am, after all, a pagan," he muttered, as he stepped into the
lift to make his call.  "For the moment I had forgotten Russia."



Chapter VI


Catherine, on her return to Samara's suite at the Hotel Weltmore,
found the sofa in the sitting-room occupied by a young man who
stared at her with curious eyes as she entered.  He was tall,
phenomenally thin and phenomenally sallow.  The hollows in his
cheeks were so pronounced that the higher bones themselves seemed
almost on the point of pushing their way through the flesh.  His
coal-black hair was long and dishevelled, and his unshaven
condition added to the wildness of his appearance.  Catherine, with
the instinct of her sex, took note only of his obvious ill-health,
and her tone as she addressed him was kindly.

"You must be Andrew Kroupki, Mr. Samara's secretary," she said,
removing the cover from her typewriter.  "Mr. Samara scarcely
expected that you would be well enough to get up to-day."

"I cannot lie in bed here," he declared feebly.  "I become nervous.
It is terrible to be ill so far from home.  There is only Ivan, and
Ivan hates me."

"Why should he do that?" she asked soothingly.

"Because he and I live closest to the Chief," was the impatient
reply.  "Ivan is jealous.  He is very foolish.  It is his strength
which protects, and my brains.  We are allies, but he will not have
it so.  Have you been working for the Chief?"

"All the morning," she answered.  "I still have a long list of
invitations to decline.  He is returning at four o'clock."

"Do you know anything about a despatch for Cherbourg?" he
continued.  "My brain was on fire this morning.  I could not even
ask."

"The despatch is finished and Mr. Samara took it away with him,"
she confided.  "Part of it I typed and the more important part he
wrote in by hand."

The young man closed his eyes for a moment.

"It is terrible to be like this," he groaned, "when one is needed."

She rose from her seat and came over to the couch, laid her hand
for a moment upon his head and felt his pulse.

"Have you seen a doctor?" she inquired.

"Yes," he answered; "I am taking some medicine.  He told me to lie
in bed and let my brain rest."

"Would you like a drink?  Some iced water?"

He made a little grimace.

"I hate it," he muttered.  "In Russia we do not drink water."

She drew a phial of eau de Cologne from her bag, soaked her
handkerchief with it and laid it upon his head.

"That is very pleasant," he sighed gratefully.

"I wonder," she suggested, "would you care for some tea--tea with
lemon, freshly made and clear coloured?"

"Wonderful," he assented eagerly.

She sent for the floor waiter, procured some materials, and busied
herself for a few moments with the equipage which he brought.  The
young man sipped the beverage when she handed it to him with
something approaching ecstasy.

"I have had nothing like this since the fever came," he told her.
"What is your name?"

"Catherine Borans."

He looked at her with wide-open eyes.  Already there was a gleam of
something more than admiration in them.

"Where do you come from?" he asked.

"The Weltmore Typewriting Bureau downstairs," she replied.  "Now
try to go to sleep for a little time.  Do you think that the sound
of the typewriter will disturb you?  If so, I will write some of
these letters by hand.  I do not think that Mr. Samara would mind."

He shook his head.

"It will not disturb me," he assured her.  "I should like to lie
here and watch you work.  You are a very wonderful person.  Are you
an American?"

She smiled.

"You are not to talk any more," she enjoined.  "Close your eyes and
try to sleep."

"I like to watch you," he murmured.

Catherine was a person unaffected with self-consciousness, so she
continued her work methodically, although every time she looked up
she found his eyes upon her.

"More tea," he begged once.

She gave him another cup, and renewed the eau de Cologne on her
handkerchief.  Presently he closed his eyes.  When Samara returned
he was sleeping peacefully.

"You didn't tell me that I was to be hospital nurse as well as
typist," she remarked, speaking in an undertone.

Samara crossed the room and looked down at the young man.

"You've done very well with him," he said.  "His respiration is
better, the fever is down.  What have you been giving him?  Tea?
It smells very good.  I should like to try it myself."

She made some more and he drank it gratefully.  He appeared a
little tired; his interview had not been altogether satisfactory.

"You have the Russian touch for tea," he told her.  "There is
nothing like it in the world.  I drink wines and spirits--
everything--but tea like this is better than all."

"And better for you," she observed.

"Sometimes its exhilaration is not rapid enough," he said.

The young man stirred in his place.  His master's tone was suddenly
kind as he turned towards him.

"You are feeling better, Andrew?" he asked in Russian.

"Much better," was the eager reply.  "This lady has been very good
to me.  Did you find her by accident, sir?"

"By accident," Samara assured him.

"She is intelligent?"

"She is adequate," was the expressionless reply.  "I need your
help, though, Andrew.  Get well quickly."

"I am almost well now," the young man declared, sitting up.  "In a
few days I shall be able to do anything.  It in fortunate for you,
master," he went on, still speaking in his own language, "that you
hate women."

"I do not hate them," Samara protested.  "I simply do not
appreciate them."

"You hate them," Andrew repeated emphatically.  "Even when you play
with them you show it in your manner.  It is fortunate for you.
This young lady might cause you trouble."

Samara glanced behind uneasily.  Catherine was continuing her task
with immovable face.

"I am going to take you to your room now, Andrew," he announced.
"Your leaving it was against the doctor's orders."

"I am content," the young man assented.  "I am very weary, but I
feel sleep coming."

They crossed the room together, the young man leaning on Samara's
arm.  At the door he turned back.

"Thank you very much, miss," he said in English.

"Get well quickly," she enjoined, with a smile.

Samara returned a few minutes later.  Catherine leaned back in her
chair.

"Thank you for being kind to Andrew," he said.

"He seems delicate," she remarked.

"A little neurotic, and, I am afraid, consumptive," Samara agreed.
"He is the son of one of my great friends, the man who first helped
me fight against the anarchists.  When he died I took the lad to
work for me.  He is able and devoted, but he has exaggerated ideas
of everything.  Your kindness has been good for him.  He is already
asleep."

"He is very devoted to you," she said.

"Almost foolishly so," he admitted.  "There are times when I have
trouble with him.  Tell me now about these friends of yours.  I see
that I was right in my assumption.  You and your companions are
amongst those who hope for the impossible things."

"If I may, I will explain," Catherine suggested.  "My mother died
in this country when I was three years old and left as my patroness
the exiled Grand Duchess Alexandrina Sophia of Kossas.  I have been
brought up, therefore, indirectly attached to a strange little
circle.  Would you really like to know about them?"

"Most certainly," he assured her emphatically.  "They are
Russians."

"Very well, then," she continued.  "There are six of them.  We live
in an apartment house a long way the other side of Central Park.
We all share a sitting-room for purposes of economy.  Every one is
poor, every one is shabby, every one is miserable.  Now, if you
wish, I shall tell you about them, one by one."

"If you please," he murmured.

"First of all, then, there is Nicholas Imanoff," she began.  "He is
the nearest living descendant of the last Tzar.  He is twenty-five
years old, was educated with great difficulty at Harvard, and ekes
out an embittered existence selling bonds on commission for a New
York stockbroking firm.  He calls himself Mr. Ronoff, but every one
knows who he is, and I think it very probable that the little
business he gets is because he appeals to people's curiosity.  He
is rather bad-tempered, does not take enough exercise, drinks a
little more than is good for him, but is quite capable at times of
justifying his descent."

"An admirable sketch," Samara declared.  "Proceed, please."

"I will speak of my patroness, the Grand Duchess," Catherine
continued.  "She is a fair, fat old lady of sixty-eight.  She
dresses abominably, her walk is almost a waddle, she takes no care
of her person, and she earns a few dollars a month by making
artificial roses.  She calls herself Mrs. Kossas."

"Less interesting," Samara commented.  "Proceed."

"There is Boris Kirdorff," she went on.  "Sometimes I believe he
uses an obsolete title of 'Colonel.'  I think that he has more
brains than any of the others, and certainly less conscience.  He
comes from a great family, as I dare say you know.  His is a cold,
unattractive personality, but he is a born schemer and if ever the
others have hopes it is through him they are expressed.  He is
secretary to a very bourgeois card club, but I think the greater
part of his small earnings is spent in gambling."

"General Orenburg is a more pleasing personality, but he is older.
He is the only one who has any money and that is a very small
amount.  He puts it into the common stock.  He spends his whole day
at the libraries, and he has fifteen different schemes for bringing
about a monarchist rising in Russia."

"Any other young people?" Samara inquired.

"There is Cyril Volynia Sabaroff of Perm and his sister, Rosa.
Cyril is interested in the sale of automobiles.  His income varies
a great deal, though.  Rosa is engaged as reception clerk at a
photographer's shop.  They are less serious than the rest of us,
and, if only they had money, I think they would be content to stay
in this country for the remainder of their days.  The others of us,
as you may have gathered, have only one desire in life, and that is
to return to Russia."

"Why not?" Samara observed.  "You are all Russians.  You have a
perfect right to live in your native land."

There was a moment's silence.  Catherine was gazing across the top
of her typewriter at her companion.  Samara was lounging on the
other side of the table, his hands in his pockets, a cigar which he
had lighted, without remark, between his lips.

"You seem to forget," she said quietly, "that there is such a thing
as a decree of banishment against the absentee aristocracy of
Russia."

"Rubbish!" he exclaimed.  "Out of date!  Antediluvian!  I'll revoke
it the day I get back.  You can consider it revoked now.  Mind
you," he went on, striking the table a mighty blow with his fist,
"there is another decree in Russia which will never be suspended.
It is my aim to make Russia the most free country in the world, but
if I find an anarchist in café, street or public meeting, he is
shot within the hour.  Against anarchists the law of Russia is as
the law against vermin--death; summary, unquestionable!  There is
no one else calling himself a Russian who is not welcome to take
his place amongst the community."

"Will you repeat this to my friends?" she asked, and there was very
nearly a tremor in her tone.

"Take me to them," he invited.

"I shall call for you at nine o'clock," she promised.  "Please let
us work now.  I feel that I am wasting your time."


It was a dejected, almost a pathetic little crowd gathered round
the sparsely laid dinner-table in a back apartment of the Amsterdam
Avenue Private Hotel.  The furniture, the table appointments, the
faded carpet upon the floor were all according to type.  The
prospect from the solitary window was of brick and masonry and a
jumble of telegraph wires.  Occasionally the room shook with the
thunder of an elevated train passing near by.  A coloured servant,
whose dress seemed to have been put on in scraps, was serving the
meal from the sideboard.  There were two jugs of water and a carafe
of light beer upon the table; in its centre a little vase with a
handful of cheap flowers.  General Orenburg sat at one end and
Alexandrina of Kossas at the other.  Conversation was intermittent.
They all appeared to be engrossed in their own thoughts.

"Catherine is late to-day," Alexandrina observed.

"Catherine is late, but here," the young lady in question remarked,
opening the door in time to hear the sound of her own name.

They all looked at her with interest.  She seemed somehow or other
to represent the vitality of the little circle, which brightened
visibly at her coming.  Kirdorff, whom nothing in this world
escaped, watched her curiously, as she took her place.  His was a
queer, hawklike face with black eyes and indrawn lips.  His hair,
thin about the temples and carefully brushed, was unexpectedly
light-coloured.

"Catherine has something to tell us," he observed.

"I have something very wonderful to tell you," Catherine confessed,
as she pushed aside a bowl of very unappetising soup.  "You need
not bother about my dinner.  I lunched at the Ritz Carlton, and I
shall eat a great many of Mrs. Saxon J. Bossington's sandwiches
later on.  Listen to me, everybody.  Of all men in this world, with
whom do you think I lunched?  It is absurd to ask you to guess.  I
lunched with Gabriel Samara!"

A thunderbolt through the roof could have scarcely created a
greater sensation.  There were exclamations in every key.  Then,
with the passing of that first wave of astonishment, came a fierce
interest.  Kirdorff leaned across the table, his fists clenched,
his eyes protuberant.  The Grand Duchess talked to herself in
broken sentences.  Nicholas Imanoff spoke.

"How came you to meet Samara?" he demanded.

"In the most natural way possible," Catherine explained.  "He
telephoned to the Bureau for a typist--his secretary has been taken
ill.  The assignment was given to me.  My work pleased him.  He
invited me to lunch."

"You lunched with that man!" Nicholas muttered.

"There are very few men I wouldn't lunch with at the Ritz Carlton,"
Catherine rejoined coolly, "but I will tell you this now of Gabriel
Samara.  He stands for other principles than ours, but he is a man.
He is what Cyril Volynia here, when he came back from England,
called a 'sportsman.'  We met Mrs. Saxon J. Bossington, and she
spoke of to-night.  Samara asked who my Russian friends were, and I
told him.  Then listen to what he said.  'They are Russians.  Why
do they live in New York?  Why do they not go back to Russia?'"

"Samara said that!" Kirdorff intervened.

"Absolutely!" Catherine continued.  "I reminded him of the decree
of banishment.  He scoffed at it.  He undertook that it should be
revoked.  He has told me in plain words that you are all of you
free to return to Russia."

There was an almost awed silence.  Alexandrina was sobbing quietly
into her handkerchief.  Kirdorff was drumming upon the table.

"Free to return!" he muttered.  "Why not?  If one could only
breathe there--could live--"

"Or die."  General Orenburg interrupted fervently, "so long as it
was in Russia!"

"There is surely a living to be made there as well as here," Cyril
Volynia declared.  "Perhaps my firm would let me open a branch
depôt at Moscow."

"Listen," Catherine warned them, "you must make up your minds to
this.  It is necessary and it may lead to great things.  You must
meet Samara."

The Grand Duchess left off sobbing.  The suggestion was so
astounding that the words themselves seemed to convey no definite
meaning to her.

"Meet Samara!" Kirdorff reflected.  "He will want to know our
attitude towards his Government, of course.  He will require
pledges."

"I have not the faintest idea what he will say to you," Catherine
observed.  "I can only tell you this.  He is a brave man.  He is
rash.  He is broad-minded.  He is ingenuous.  He does not in the
least resemble one's idea of a democratic leader."

Nicholas Imanoff looked across the table.  There was a note of
covert jealousy in his tone.

"Does he know who you are?" he asked.

"He does not, and I desire that he should not know," she rejoined.
"I have spoken of Alexandrina of Kossas as my patroness."

"Tell us this," Kirdorff asked quietly, the instincts of the
conspirator already stirring within him.  "In the course of your
work to-day did you come to any conclusion as to the success or
failure of his mission over here?  Have you formed any idea as to
how far he means to go with this mad scheme of his?"

"We will talk of that later," Catherine replied.  "It is better for
you to know nothing to-night.  What I want you all to remember now
is that in half-an-hour's time we leave here to hold one of our
formal meetings under the roof and patronage of Mrs. Saxon J.
Bossington."

"You are coming with us, Catherine?" the Grand Duchess demanded.

"I am going back to the hotel to fetch Mr. Samara," was the
unexpected rejoinder.

Nicholas half rose to his feet.

"I will escort you," he declared.

Catherine smiled at him coldly.

"You will do nothing of the sort, Nicholas," she said.  "If you
take my advice, you will remember what I say.  So far as Gabriel
Samara knows, I am a typist from the Weltmore Secretarial Bureau.
It is my wish that he knows no more than this.  Kindly remember
that."

Kirdorff nodded approvingly.

"Our little sister knows best," he pronounced.



Chapter VII


Mrs. Saxon J. Bossington dispensed hospitality in a Fifth Avenue
palace, built by a multi-millionaire of world-wide fame and
purchased by her obedient spouse at the time of the last oil
combine.  She entertained lavishly and indiscriminately.  Society,
diplomacy, and even artists were all alike welcome.  Her peculiar
fancy, however, was acting as hostess to what she was endeavouring
to make known as the "Russian Circle."

"My dear Saxon," she explained to her husband, "no one knows who
these people are.  All we do know is that they are aristocrats.
There's the Grand Duchess, of course, and the General, and Colonel
Kirdorff--they are the bluest blood in Russia, but those others
aren't pulling the wool over my eyes, though they call themselves
plain 'Mr.' and 'Mrs.' and 'Miss.'  It's my belief there's more of
the Royal Family than one in that little crowd.  And Saxon--there's
Prince Nicholas now, an Imanoff--"

"What is an 'Imanoff,' anyway?" Mr. Bossington interrupted, giving
his coat tails a pull.

"The family name of the Russian Royal Family," his wife declared in
a tone of awe.

Mr. Bossington appeared unimpressed.

"Thought they were all wiped out in a cellar or somewhere," he
objected.

"All the direct branch were assassinated--murdered," his wife
agreed, "in a cellar.  The details were too horrible.  Some of the
others, however, got away, and one or two escaped out of the
country.  Prince Nicholas is the next heir to the throne of those
left alive."

"Well, there isn't going to be any throne," Mr. Bossington
observed.  "Russia's doing thundering well under her new Republic.
That fellow Samara has set her going again.  I had an offer for
some oil concessions from his Government to-day, made me through
Washington.  I shall have to send a man over next week."

Mrs. Bossington deemed that the time had come for her great
announcement.

"Saxon," she said, "to-night I want you to be at your best.
Gabriel Samara, the greatest man in Russia, is coming here."

"You don't say!" Mr. Bossington exclaimed, properly impressed at
last.  "Does he know anything about oil, I wonder?"

"You can cut out that stuff," his wife enjoined angrily, with a
brief relapse into the verbiage of past years.  "What I mean,
Saxon, is that I want you to be the perfect gentleman to-night--the
broad-minded American host.  We may get asked to Russia.  Come
right along into the library now.  They'll be here before we know
where we are."

"What I want to know," Mr. Bossington demanded, as they crossed the
hall, "is how our friends and this man, Samara, are likely to pull
together, and where on earth did you come across him?"

A butler in command motioned to a footman, who threw open the door
of a magnificent library.  It was an apartment which much resembled
the interior of a chapel, with vaulted roof, stained-glass windows,
and an organ in the far end.  There were divans and chairs, a round
table at which a score of places were set, and a sideboard,
groaning with edibles of every sort, flanked by a long row of
gold-foiled bottles.  Mrs. Bossington looked around her critically.

"I guess this is cosy enough for them, Saxon," she observed.

"There's plenty of the stuff, anyway," he remarked, with a glance
towards the sideboard.  "But how did you get hold of this fellow
Samara?  Those others all seem as if they had stepped out of a dime
show, but Samara's the real goods!--as big a man, in his way, as
our President!"

"I met him with that little Catherine Borans, the typewriting girl,
lunching at the Ritz Carlton," Mrs. Bossington explained.  "Of
course it's all nonsense about her being really a working girl.
There isn't one of them has a better air than she has.  They are
close-mouthed and all," she went on, listening for the bell.  "I
tried to get the old General, the other day, to tell me who she
was.  He just smiled and shook his head.  The Duchess seemed on the
point of telling me and then she pulled herself up.  'She is of our
order, Mrs. Bossington,' was all I could get her to say."

The door was suddenly thrown open.  The little stream of expected
guests began to arrive; a curious company in their way, but each
with his own peculiar claim to distinction.  General Orenburg, who
first bent over his hostess' hand, was ponderous and bulky, his
shabby dinner clothes carefully brushed, the ends of his black tie
a little shiny.  Nevertheless he bore himself as a man with a great
past should.  He was accompanied by Prince Nicholas, whose
irritation had departed for the evening, but whose manner was still
stiff and abstracted.  The Grand Duchess entered the room directly
afterwards.  She had changed her gown since dinner-time and her
hair was parted and brushed so smoothly back that it seemed almost
like a plastered wig.  Cyril Volynia Sabaroff of Perm followed,
with his sister Rosa.  Behind them came General Kirdorff.  They all
stood in little groups whilst a footman served coffee and liqueurs.
Mrs. Saxon J. Bossington flitted from one to the other, with much
to say concerning their expected guest.  Her husband listened to
the description of a new automobile which some friends of Cyril
Sabaroff were soon to put on the market.

"If this isn't too sweet to see you all together!" their hostess
exclaimed.  "Now I do hope you'll make yourselves comfortable and
have your little chat just as though no one were here.  There's a
table you can sit round and a bite of supper for you later on.  I
hope you gentlemen will pay a visit to the sideboard whenever you
like."

Prince Nicholas detached himself from the others.

"Your hospitality is wonderful, madam," he declared.  "We beg that
you will not leave us.  Colonel Kirdorff has promised to talk to us
to-night about the probable result of the Samara type of
government, and the General has a few remarks to make concerning
these rumours of demilitarisation in Russia."

"Very interesting, I'm sure," Mrs. Bossington murmured, sailing
away to greet some fresh arrivals--an elderly professor and his
wife.

"Will Samara back out, do you think?" General Orenburg asked his
neighbour anxiously.

Kirdorff shook his head.

"If he promised, he will come," he declared confidently.  "I have
that much faith in him, at any rate.  He is not likely to break his
word."

The greater part of the little company was now assembled.  They
were about a dozen outside the circle of Catherine's immediate
entourage; all Russians and ardent Monarchists, but of various
types and positions in the world.  They were barely settled in
their places round the table, when the eagerly expected event
happened.  The door was opened and the butler made his announcement.

"Miss Catherine Borans--Mr. Gabriel Santara!"

The newcomers advanced towards their hostess.  They exchanged a few
words of salutation whilst Samara bowed low and raised her somewhat
pudgy fingers to his lips.  Then Catherine led him towards the
table.

"Please, all of you," she said, "I have ventured to bring a visitor
to see you.  We have been very curious about him, very critical,
sometimes censorious.  After all, though, we must remember that he
is a fellow-countryman."

There followed a few moments of intense silence.  They were all
engrossed in their study of this man, the foremost figure in their
country; the man who, from their somewhat narrow point of view,
stood between them and their desire.  Certainly so far as
appearance went he was at a disadvantage with none of them.  He was
well groomed, his evening clothes were impeccable, and he possessed
to the fullest extent the natural dignity of a man holding a great
place in the world.

"Samara!  Gabriel Samara," Alexandrina murmured, studying him
through her lorgnettes.

"Samara!" the fair-haired Rosa Sabaroff exclaimed, looking at him
with undisguised awe.

"Gabriel Samara!" the General said, under his breath, stiffening
insensibly.

The attitude of the little gathering towards their visitor could
scarcely be called hospitable.  The General and Prince Nicholas
both inclined their heads, but did not offer their hands.  Samara,
however, showed no signs of taking offence.  His bow to Alexandrina
had been the bow of a courtier.  He was himself too interested in
his own contemplation of the rest of the party to appreciate their
lack of cordiality.  Mr. Bossington, as though he judged the moment
propitious, introduced himself into the circle.

"Mr. Samara," he said, "glad to meet you, sir.  Saxon Bossington,
my name--glad to be your host.  There's a proposition about oil
they were asking me to look into, somewhere north of the Caspian
Sea."

Samara smiled.

"You are without doubt, sir, one of the capitalists whom your
President mentioned to me," he rejoined politely.  "Russia has need
of your brains and your money.  We think that we can repay all that
you have to offer.  Our greatest necessity just now is to find
employment for a large number of men."

"You are really going to demilitarise then!" Colonel Kirdorff
intervened.

Samara, who had been standing a few feet apart, turned once more
towards the table.

"You seem to be all my country people," he observed.  "Why should I
have secrets from you?  It is my intention immediately on my return
to Russia to demobilise the whole of our Third Army, consisting of
about a million men.  I should have done so before if I could have
been sure of finding employment for them.  My mission over here was
to arrange something of the sort."

"What about the Germans?" Prince Nicholas demanded bluntly.

Some part of the geniality seemed to depart from Samara's manner.
There was a note almost of hauteur in his reply.

"The armies of Russia," he said, "have been trained by and perhaps
learned their vocation partly from German officers.  Those German
officers have been well paid for their labours.  For anything else,
the army consists of Russian soldiers, bound together for one
purpose, and one purpose only--the defence of their country.  In my
opinion and in the opinion of my counsellors, the necessity for
their existence on so large a scale no longer exists."

Samara was still standing.  The General rose to his feet and
indicated a chair.

"Will you join us, sir?" he invited.

There was a breathless pause--the remainder of the handful of
Monarchists sat spell-bound.  With a grave bow to the General,
Samara accepted the invitation.  Prince Nicholas was on his left,
the Grand Duchess a little lower down.

"This is a strange day," the General continued.  "We never thought
to welcome amongst us the head of the Russian Republic.  I and my
friends, Mr. Samara, represent a broken party; yet a party which
has yielded everything except hope.  We do not desire to begin our
acquaintance under the shadow of any false pretence.  Prince
Nicholas of Imanoff here, we acknowledge as the hereditary ruler of
Russia.  We cannot recognise any other government."

Samara bowed his head.

"You have every right to your convictions," he admitted.  "If I
believed that it was for the good of Russia to enter once more a
period of Tzardom, I should myself immediately accept the
monarchical doctrine.  But I tell you frankly that I do not believe
it.  I am a Russian by birth and descent and I think that I have
earned the right to call myself a patriot.  I have worked--I still
work--for my country's good as I see it.  That is why, with a clear
conscience, I have accepted this invitation to come and visit you."

"Our friend speaks well," the General declared, looking around him.
"After all, we must not forgot that he has accomplished a great
deed.  He has freed Russia from the Bolshevists, he has destroyed
Soviet rule.  If the form of government which he has set up does
not wholly appeal to us, it is still a million times better than
the one which he has crushed."

"That is common sense," Kirdorff agreed.  "Yet it leaves us with
this reflection.  Bolshevism and Soviet rule were impossibilities.
From that hateful extreme we expected the pendulum to swing back to
the conditions of our desire.  Samara here has intervened.  He has
intervened--happily, perhaps, for Russia--but disastrously for us.
While he lives our cause will languish."

There was a tense silence.  The significance of those words "while
he lives" seemed to make itself felt everywhere.  Samara looked
around with a faint smile upon his lips--a smile about which there
was already a shadow of defiance.  It was a strange scene: the
eager faces of the little crowd gathered round the table, the
wonderful room with its great spaces and unexpected flashes of
almost barbaric magnificence, the lavish hospitality displayed upon
the huge sideboard, Mr. and Mrs. Saxon J. Bossington, almost
grotesque in their position of host and hostess, seated in the
background, waiting.

"A true accusation," Samara admitted.  "But after all I can
honestly assure you that I, who know the temper of the country
personally better than you can by the offices of correspondents,
have seen few indications of a desire on the part of the people to
submit themselves once more to the domination of a monarchy.  I had
no idea until a few hours ago that I was to have the honour of
meeting you this evening--you, Prince Nicholas, or you, General,
whose name is still remembered in Russia, or you, Colonel, or your
Royal Highness.  Let me say this to you, if I may.  The Bolshevist
days and the days of insane hatreds are over.  Russia is a free
country--as free to you as to me.  Why not come back and live in
it?"

"Come back!" the General groaned.  "My estates--"

"My mines!" Kirdorff muttered.

"They took from me five hundred thousand English pounds,"
Alexandrina sighed wearily.

"I will be frank with you all," Samara continued.  "There is a new
code of laws in Russia to-day.  We are prospering to an amazing
extent, but we have taken upon our shoulders an immense burden.
The Russia of to-day desires to pay the debts of the past.  If I
alone had power, I would add to those debts the sums and estates of
which the Bolshevists deprived you.  But in that desire I am almost
alone.  I spoke of it and my own people listened in silence.  But I
believe--I believe from the bottom of my heart--that the day will
come when Russia will repay you every farthing which you have
lost."

"If one could dream of such a thing!" the General faltered.

"My mines are being worked by a Japanese Company," Kirdorff sighed.

"There will be difficulties," Samara admitted, "but we shall
overcome them.  In the meantime, why live in exile?  Russia is your
country.  Russia is open to you.  I am not afraid to invite you all
freely and whole-heartedly to return; the sentence of banishment
against absentee Monarchists, I promise you, shall be revoked.  I
am not afraid of your influence.  If Russia, at any time, should
want a monarchy, let her have it.  I will buy a villa in the south
of France, be myself an exile, and grow roses.  I am but the
servant of the will of the people."

"Rienzi said that before he climbed over their shoulders into
power," Kirdorff reminded him, with a curious flash in his eyes.

"Rienzi was a man of more ambitious temperament than I," Samara
retorted.  "Besides, his scheme of government in those days was
less wide-flung.  He was a dreamer as well as an idealist; I am a
practical man.  I desire what is good for Russia, and it is
certainly not for her good that any of those who might be foremost
amongst her citizens are living in exile.  General, return to
Russia, and an Army Corps or a post at the War Office is yours.
You, Colonel Kirdorff, shall have a division whenever you choose to
apply for it.  There is not one of you who shall be deprived of the
opportunity of doing useful work for your country.  Why sit here
and weave impossible dreams?  Why not attune your patriotism to the
music of real labour?"

"What about me?" Nicholas asked eagerly.

Samara reflected for a moment.

"Prince," he confided, "I will be frank with you.  We are living
too near the shadow of regrettable days.  Come if you will and be
sure of my protection, so far as it goes.  You shall have a
commission in the army, but an Imanoff, in Russia, even to-day,
must take his chance."

Nicholas nodded.  Catherine, who had moved round to his side,
looked across at Samara.

"Remember this," she insisted.  "If the tide of feeling should
flow, at any time, towards the re-establishment of Russia's real
ruler, it is upon Nicholas here that the people's choice must
fall."

Samara listened indifferently.  Perhaps in that hour of his
magnificent and superabundant vitality, when his brain was at its
zenith, his vision unerring, the idea of any serious rivalry
between himself and this pale-faced young man of peevish expression
seemed an incredible thing.

"All I can say is," he replied, "that if Prince Nicholas cares to
come, he is welcome.  Such protection as I can afford him he shall
have.  If he plots against my Government and his plots are
discovered, he will be shot.  If, by open election of the people or
by vote of the Duma, a monarchy is desired, then I shall never lift
a hand against him."

The General stroked his grey imperial.  Something of the weariness
had gone from his face.  Something of the languor, indeed, seemed
to have passed from each one of them.  They had listened to a
wonderful message.  Samara read their thoughts.  He rose to his
feet.

"I thank you, General, and all of you for your reception.  I fear
that in the past you have counted me an enemy.  Wipe that out,
please.  The greatest of possible ties binds us together--our
country!"

He bowed low and moved away.  Mrs. Bossington arose from her chair
and came bustling towards him.

"Now, my dear Mr. Samara," she exclaimed, "I am sure all this
talking must have tired you.  What it's been about neither Saxon
nor I have the slightest idea, for on an occasion like this we make
it a rule to keep ourselves to ourselves.  One thing, however, I
insist upon, you must take a little refreshment before you go."

Samara suffered himself to be piloted by his hostess to the
sideboard, ate pâté sandwiches and drank champagne.  Presently they
were joined by her husband, who was curious about the oil-producing
centres of Southern Russia.  From the table behind came a drone of
subdued but eager voices.



Chapter VIII


Miss Sadie Loyes set down the telephone receiver upon the
instrument with a little bang.  She was obviously annoyed.

"Miss Borans," she announced sharply, "eleven hundred and eighty
wants you again.  Keep a record of your time."

Catherine rose to her feet and placed the cover on her machine.
Miss Loyes watched her with critical eyes.

"Crazy about you seemingly," she continued.  "They're making such a
fuss about him in the papers this morning, I thought I'd go up
myself for an hour or so.  Knows his own mind, anyhow--you or
nobody.  What kind of work is it?"

"Not work you'd enjoy very much, I think, Miss Loyes," Catherine
replied, smiling faintly as she thought of the previous morning,
"correspondence and documents and that sort of thing.  Yesterday
afternoon Mr. Bromley Pride interviewed him for the New York Comet.
He didn't get much of a story, though."

"These foreigners leave me cold," the manageress declared.  "What
we Americans make such a fuss about them for I don't know.  They
just come over here for what they can get.  One of the papers this
morning said that this Mr. Samara has fixed up a loan with the
President of something like two hundred millions.  Keep your time
carefully, Miss Borans.  There's one thing about these Russians,
they aren't mean!"

Catherine descended the stairs into the hall and made leisurely
progress towards the lift.  On the way the fancy seized her to call
in at the florist's shop and buy a single dark red rose which she
pulled through the waistband of her dress.  The elevator man, who
had scarcely noticed her before, watched her disappearing figure
with undisguised admiration.

"She sure is some girl, that!" he remarked to one of the messenger
boys, as he stepped back into the elevator.

The young lady seated behind the desk at the entrance to the
corridor wished her good morning with a faint air of surprise.  She
called to her associate at the other end of the place and motioned
after Catherine.

"Did you see that pale-faced ninny from the typing room, all dolled
out, this morning?" she demanded.  "She's got a beau all right.  I
never noticed that she was so stylish."

It was a very different sitting-room which Catherine presently
entered.  There were half-a-dozen men present and conversation was
a little vehement.  At her entrance it subsided.  Samara motioned
her to a chair at the smaller table and proceeded to dismiss his
callers.

"I agree," he said.  "It seems cowardly, but perhaps you are right.
At one o'clock Carloss, and at three o'clock the bank president.
Louden can make all the arrangements.  He had better bring an
automobile here and cable Cherbourg."

They drifted away, one by one, Samara himself escorting them
through the little hall to the door.  Presently he returned and
threw himself into an easy-chair.

"Trouble at home, here, and everywhere," he remarked grimly.  "I've
got to hurry home."

"About your demilitarisation scheme?" she inquired.

"Half the unrest is owing to German influence," he answered with a
nod.  "We've had so many commitments to her in the past that she's
grown to look upon these armies as her own.  Our people over here
are quite right, though.  I must get back at once and make a tour
through the military district.  In the meantime, I am going to
cable over a proclamation.  Ready?"

"Quite," she answered.

He dictated rapidly for half an hour or more. As soon as he had finished
he went to a cupboard in which was an array of bottles, mixed himself a
drink and tossed it off. Then he sat in his easy-chair with his hands in
his pockets and a frown upon his forehead, while she gathered up the
loose pages of her work.

"Tell me," he asked abruptly, "what did your friends think of me
last night?"

"They were surprised," she admitted.

"Favourably or unfavourably?"

"On the whole, favourably.  Your offer to them all has made a great
stir in their quiet lives."

"It was a serious one," he declared, rising to his feet and pacing
the room.  "There is no reason why they shouldn't come back.  I
have nothing against the Monarchists so long as they accept the
situation and desist from plots.  The people against whom I wage
war to the death are the anarchists.  They are a waning force, but
I have not done with them yet.  I am a humane man, but I would kill
an anarchist as I would a fly, because of the poison they carry
with them."

She looked at him thoughtfully, but she made no remark.  Presently
he stopped in front of her chair.

"Don't you agree with me--I mean about your people?" he demanded.
"Don't you think I was right to ask them to come back?  They are,
after all, Russian citizens."

"I think you are right," she replied, "with one exception."

"One exception!" he repeated.

"Nicholas Imanoff.  If you allow him to return, I don't think I
should have him in the army.  You know what the Russian peasant
soldier is.  Communism is a meaningless cry to him, although he may
shout for it if he is bidden.  God and the Tzar are still in his
blood."

"You are giving me advice against your own people!" he exclaimed
suddenly.

The faintest tinge of colour stole for a moment under the creamy
pallor of her cheeks.  The same idea had flashed in upon her.

"I am tired of plots and rebellions," she exclaimed.  "Changes of
government should be worked out by the will of the people.  If the
people call for a Tzar--well, there is Nicholas.  But if he is once
in the army, there will be plots.  It isn't for our own good.  I
should like to see the monarchy re-established, but I should like
to see it re-established by orthodox means."

"You tell me that Alexandrina of Kossas is your patroness," he
said.  "Does that mean that you, too, are an aristocrat?"

"By inclination," she confessed.  "You must remember that it is not
only the aristocracy who would support monarchy.  I am one of those
who consider it the sanest form of government.  Would you like me
to do anything with this proclamation?"

He took the sheets from her and glanced them through, made a few
alterations in pencil, and laid them down again.  Afterwards he
resumed his restless perambulation of the room.  She leaned back in
her chair and waited.  Samara was evidently disturbed.  Occasionally
he muttered to himself.  Once he stood for quite five minutes gazing
out of the window, down into the windy, sunlit streets.

"I am sailing this afternoon, Miss Borans," he announced, suddenly
turning around.  "My people are all emphatic and they are right.
There is danger here and trouble to face at home."

She did not attempt to conceal her interest.

"I read your interview in the New York Comet this morning," she
said, "but after all it told us very little.  As the General was
saying last night, you are still outside the Pact of Nations.  You
can demobilise the whole of these first million men and still
remain, on paper at any rate, the greatest military power in
Europe."

"I could," he assented.  "But that is not my intention.  I want my
Russian people back on the land instead of behind the guns, and I'm
going to have them there.  That's all I can say.  Later on I have a
scheme of my own for a citizen army--the only sort of army any
country ought to have.  Miss Borans, will you go back to Russia
with me?"

"Will I do WHAT?" she asked, looking at him intently.

"Precisely what I have asked," he persisted.  "What relatives have
you here?"

"A sort of aunt," she replied, "and a second cousin."

"Good!  You work now for the management of this hotel.  Work for me
instead.  I need a secretary like you.  If your friends accept my
offer, you'll have company over there.  You won't clash with
Andrew.  He has his own line of work."

She shook her head.

"I could not work for you, Mr. Samara," she said.

"Why not?" he demanded roughly.  "You are a Russian patriot.  So am
I."

"Our ideas of patriotism might not be the same," she pointed out.
"If there were a movement in favour of the re-establishment of the
monarchy in Russia, for instance, I should join it."

"Join it and welcome," he answered.  "I'm not at all sure that you
would, though, if you were on the spot.  Russia to-day is leaping
onward towards prosperity.  I can prove that to you.  What do you
want a monarchy back for?  Not for the sake of the Russian people.
They'd be no better off.  Who are you for, Miss Borans--the people
or one particular class?"

"That one particular class is a section of the people," she
reminded him.

"An infinitesimal one," he scoffed.  "Majorities count.  You must
work for the good of the greatest number."

"All the same," she said, "I am not disposed to be your secretary."

His face darkened almost into a scowl.

"Don't be absurd!" he protested angrily.  "It's a good offer.  You
can name your own salary in reason.  You would be able to live in
your native country instead of being an exile."

She shook her head.

"It is an impossibility," she assured him.

He glared at her for a moment furiously.  Then, without further
reference to it, he abandoned the subject.

"Take down these letters," he directed.  "Take copies, but be sure
you give them to me."

"I am quite ready," she murmured.

He dictated for an hour.  When he had finished, he read the letters
she handed him with almost meticulous care, signed them and watched
her as she placed them in their envelopes.  Then he took the
copies, looked them through and locked them up in a despatch-box.

"How is Mr. Andrew Kroupki this morning?" she inquired.

"Better," he answered shortly.  "He will not be able to travel with
me, though.  It is most annoying."

She glanced at the clock.

"What time does your boat sail?" she asked.

"Eight o'clock," he told her, "but I am going on board at six.  It
seems that although the police released our friend of yesterday
morning, a hint or two of what he was after got about.  I'm
practically being smuggled out of the country."

"You have appointments at one o'clock and three," she reminded him.
"Is there anything more that I can do for you, before I leave?"

"There is only one thing you could do for me, and you won't do it,"
he growled.  "I'm not a woman's man and I never learned how to talk
to them, but you're the sort of human being it does one good to
work with.  I believe in you.  You could help me."

"There are many others who could do that," she assured him.

"I don't meet them," he answered.  "My biographers have written a
lot of nonsense about me.  Because I have swept clean the roads of
life and driven the masses along the appointed way, they talk about
my magnetism, my intense sympathy with human beings.  It's all
rubbish!  I have no sympathy.  Men and women are mostly puppets to
me and life is a chess-board.  If I could find someone who would
teach me tolerance, someone whom I could trust, for whom I could
feel human things, I could accomplish greater deeds than I have
ever accomplished yet.  There are times when I am frightened of my
own materialism.  I have thought all my life universally, in
composite blocks.  The world is becoming like a doll's house to me.
I have a fancy that you might be able to change this.  Will you
come and try?"

Again she shook her head.  "It is an impossibility," she repeated.

"That ends it, then!" he pronounced abruptly.  "Tell your people to
send an account for the typing into the hotel.  The Embassy are
arranging to pay my bill after my departure.  All the evening
papers are announcing that I leave on Saturday.  You will perhaps
consider what I have told you concerning my movements as
confidential."

"I will remember," she promised.

She rose to her feet.  He glowered across the room at her.

"Some day," he concluded, "you may see that you've wasted a great
opportunity.  No woman ever had a greater.  You've read of me and
my work, but you don't know.  When I crushed Bolshevism, the heart
and soul of Russia began to beat again.  The work's only begun.
You and your little monarchist plots!  Why don't you lift your head
and see the greater things?  You could help."

"I am very sorry," she sighed, as she turned away.

He heard the door close.  Then he crossed the room towards the
cupboard. . . .  Help in his task from any human being seemed to be
the one thing in life always denied him.



Chapter IX


They were all gone at last.  Samara was alone in his capacious
stateroom with a single companion--Bromley Pride, the bona fide
representative of the New York Comet.  Samara listened to the
receding footsteps with a frown.  Outside was turmoil.  The bugle
had just sounded the last call for departing visitors.

"This sort of thing," he declared, "would soon drive me mad."

Bromley Pride smiled tolerantly. He was a largely made, athletic-looking
man, clean-shaven and forcible. In New York he was considered to be an
authority on Russian affairs.

"I am afraid these last two hours have seemed rather like an
anti-climax," he observed.  "All the same, I am convinced that
precautions were necessary.  The Chief of the Police sent for me
himself this morning and begged me, if I had any influence with
you, to persuade you to leave the country without delay.  There are
all sorts of rumours about."

"They warned me in Washington," Samara acknowledged gloomily, "and
of course there was yesterday's little affair."

"Yesterday's little affair," Bromley Pride repeated with emphasis,
"was only the beginning.  I honestly believe," he went on, "that
the Germans, over here at any rate, look upon the proposed
demobilisation of your armies as an act of absolute treachery to
them.  You don't read the New York papers, I suppose, but the
German-owned ones have passionate articles this morning, denouncing
your visit here and attacking your whole policy.  Whatever one can
find to say against the Germans they are not cowards.  Five years
ago you were a little god in Germany.  To-day you have about forty
million enemies."

Samara nodded with darkening expression.

"You're right, of course, Pride," he admitted, "but my progress
from the Hotel Weltmore to the boat was more like the passage of
one of those hated plutocrats of old through the dangerous part of
his capital than the departure of one who has brought freedom to a
great country, from the city which has canonised that particular
quality.  Twenty plainclothes policemen walking along the customs
shed and me in the middle!  A sickening sight!"

"If it had been Saturday instead of to-day," Pride observed, "the
chances are ten to one you'd have had a bomb in the midst of the
lot of you."

There was the sound of cheering, a sense of gliding motion, the
screaming and panting of tugs.  Samara drew a breath of relief.

"Well, thank God we're off," he exclaimed.  "Can I go on deck now
and get a breath of fresh air?"

"Not yet," the other begged.  "Two detectives from police
headquarters are going through the passenger list with the purser
now.  As soon as they send me word down 'O.K.' you can do what you
like.  You must remember that you haven't told me much yet, sir.
I'm not only a New York journalist, you know--I'm a friend of
Russia."

"My mission was a success," Samara declared.  "That's all there is
to be said about it.  My task lies ahead.  Forty years ago, Russia--
the best part of Russia--was trying to drill the military spirit
into Russian peasants.  To-day I have got to knock it out.  The
Bolshevists were wise people in their generation.  They kept a
great army going without the slightest difficulty.  The soldiers
were fed whilst the peasants starved.  Who wanted to work on the
land, without enough to keep body and soul together, when there was
good food and wine and beer in the army?  They're an obstinate
race, our peasants, you know, Pride.  I've got the capital now to
make them productive units of the nation, at work in the factories
and fields, and to pay them good money.  It's quite another matter
to make them see that it's for their benefit, though.  That is
where the difficulty may come in."

"You'll do it in the end," Pride prophesied hopefully.  "You've
achieved greater impossibilities."

"Yes, I shall do it," Samara assented.  "I shall do it if I can
keep intrigue out of the Duma and the Press and the Army.  I shall
do it if I'm given a fair show."

Pride was gazing out of the porthole at the passing panorama of
docks and walls.

"One would pray for you, Samara, if one knew how or to whom.
There's a soul in your work--something that reaches out of life--
out of the mud of politics and man's ambition.  The Jews are the
only ones left who really pray.  I rather wish you were a Jew,
Samara."

"You think that I need faith."

"It isn't that, but you need an inexhaustible stock," was the quiet
reply.  "You have no one to depend upon but yourself.  Russia has
not produced a single great statesman yet to stand by your side.
You carry on your shoulders a burden so enormous that it makes the
hearts of us who watch grow faint.  How must it be for yourself?"

Samara was looking into space.  They were moving more rapidly now--
moving all the time away from New York.

"I am forty-four years old, Pride," he confided.  "I came into this
fight when I was nineteen.  I have never looked back.  I have never
relaxed or felt fear, but there has been one moment, and that not
so long ago, when I almost weakened--if it is weakening to crave
for help.  I thought I saw something wonderful.  It was just the
mirage."

There was a knock at the door.  A detective entered.  He smiled the
smile of a man who has accomplished good work.

"Everything 'O.K.' now, sir," he declared.  "Mike's got 'em--one
from Chicago, one from Washington.  They've got the bracelets on
and the guns are in Mike's pocket.  They had a stateroom nearly
opposite to you, too, sir," he added, turning to Samara.

"You think they were really after me?" the latter asked.

The detective laughed confidently.

"They were after someone on board, sir, and they had a plan of your
stateroom.  Not a paper between them, and scarcely any luggage.
One's a Russian--a red-hot Bolshevist still, they say, whom we've
had under observation for years.  The other's a German.  They won't
trouble you any more, sir.  As for the rest of the passengers, I
think they're all right.  The stewards and the crew, of course, we
can't vouch for."

"Should I be running any grave risk," Samara inquired, "if I
invited you to visit the smoke-room with me?"

The detective accepted the idea with enthusiasm, but ventured upon
an amendment.

"I'd try that bell, sir, instead," he suggested, "and a word to the
steward."


At last came the clanging of a bell which, this time, brought them
to a dead stop.  Samara watched his visitors depart; Pride, with
his cheerful carriage and buoyant air; the two detectives with
their quarry; finally the pilot into his little rowboat on the
other side.

The great semicircle of lights had flashed out through the windy
twilight.  The freshness of the sea was a marvellous tonic after
the spring lassitude of the town and the overheated rooms.  Samara
strode the deck with a sense of reawakening life in his veins.
These croakers had gone.  He was his own man again, free to muse
upon his great achievement, to revel in the exhilaration of the
voyage.  Behind him lay New York--and what else?  It was an
absurdity, but he was heavy-hearted.

The clamorous dinner bugle left him undisturbed.  His anticipations
of the coming night, the long roll of the ship, the scent of the
sea, and the wind upon his face elated him.  And then, in the midst
of his long, swinging walk, he came to a sudden standstill.  A
woman was leaning over the rail.  He had passed her several times
without notice.  Now, something in her figure, the poise of her
head, startled him with a flood of ridiculous memories.  She turned
and faced him.  For once in his life, he, the man of many words,
was speechless.

"You see, I changed my mind," she said, with a quiet smile.  "I
wish you'd go and see the purser about my stateroom." . . .

They dined together half an hour later at the little table in a
secluded corner of the saloon which Samara had bespoken for
himself.  Catherine was very frank.

"It has been the dream of my life to visit my own country," she
confided, "but all the same I had not the faintest idea of
accepting your offer.  When I got downstairs after leaving you, I
found Kirdorff waiting for me.  You may not realise it, but Colonel
Kirdorff is a great schemer."

"You are to spy upon me!" he exclaimed.

"I rather think that is the idea," she assented.  "You little know
what you have brought upon yourself by your candour last night.
They are all planning to return--even Nicholas.  When I told
Kirdorff of your offer, he thought that I should be mad to decline
it.  You mustn't be angry with them, Mr. Samara.  They are getting
old and the idea of intrigue stirs them as nothing else in life
could.  They are not to be ignored, but they are scarcely to be
feared."

"And you?" he asked.  "Are you going to spy upon me?"

"I may," she admitted.  "I shall make you no promise.  I want to
see what you have made Russia.  I want to travel about there and to
talk to those people who understand.  Maybe you will convert me.
If you do not, I shall give you fair warning.  In the meantime I
hope you will find me plenty of work and pay me enough money to buy
some clothes directly we land.  These dear friends of mine hurried
me off with little more than a handbag."

"How is it that you are so intimate with all these people?" he
inquired.  "You are one of them, I suppose?"

"Don't ask me," she begged.  "Let me remain a mystery.  I am a
working girl and I am going to be a very good secretary.  Isn't
that enough?  Tell me, do you live in a palace at Moscow and what
will become of me there?"

"I live in a portion of the old palace," he replied.  "We call it
now Government House.  You can have your quarters there, or look
after yourself outside, whichever you like.  Then you can also have
an office in Government Buildings where Andrew does most of his
work."

"It sounds delightful!" she declared.  "We are impulsive people,
you and I!  You haven't had any references about me, and as for
you--well, I know that you are Gabriel Samara and that is all.  I
don't even know whether you are married."

He smiled.

"I think you do," he said.  "In case I am wrong, I will tell you.
I am unmarried and I have no women friends.  As to references, I
asked none from you; you must place a similar trust in me."

She returned his smile understandingly.

"I think," she confided, "that I have made up my mind to do that."

Catherine went to her stateroom early, and Samara, after a brief
visit to the smoking-room, struggled out on to the rain-splashed
deck.  They were facing the Atlantic now, with a gale blowing,
driving the spray in blinding sheets across the ship.  He found a
comparatively sheltered place where the thunder of the wind was
heard rather than felt, and where he could watch the flecks of foam
leap into the dazzling light and pass away into the black gulf
beyond.  He was on his way back, his mission accomplished; the
second part of the great struggle of his life begun.  There was
never a time when he needed clearer vision, a more detached and
concentrated grasp upon the great realities.  Courage he had in
plenty, even to rashness; his will no one had ever questioned; yet
in the midst of his content he was troubled with a queer sense of
some indeterminate quality in his thoughts, some disposition to
find less vitally important the great issues of life.  His mental
balance had been disturbed.  Another element had entered into the
background of his sensations beside the joy of achievement.  He
filled his pipe and smoked savagely, staggered down the deck and
took a stiff drink at the bar, came out again and crawled even
farther towards the bows, until the music of the wind was in his
ears like the crack of thunder, and the hiss of the sea, as the
waves were parted by the mighty bow of the ship, seemed like an
unearthly scream.  There were stars shining here and there through
a filmy lacing of clouds; a promise of the moon from behind the
jagged pieces of black cloud, these latter so low down that it
seemed as though the tall mast rising from the top of the sea was
almost stabbing into their bosom.  Gusts of rain swept into his
face.  The seamen who passed him were wrapped in oilskins and
silent.  The singing in his pulses continued, the exhilaration of
spirit, which he tried in vain to believe came from the knowledge
that this journey of his, towards which the eyes of the world had
been directed, had met with a success which he alone had
prophesied.

And all the time he knew that there was something else--another
problem to be faced; a personal self creeping into life, demanding,
nay, insisting upon recognition.  It was all fancy, he told
himself, born of the winds and the stars and the romance of travel.
He suddenly realised upon what a trifle the whole great machinery
of his mind had been engaged.



Chapter X


It was not until the middle of the next morning that Gabriel Samara
appeared on deck.  A long line of semi-somnolent passengers watched
him with interest; Catherine, who was sipping some beef-tea, looked
up expectantly.  He did not, however, pause in his promenade, but
touched his hat slightly and passed on, his hands thrust into the
pockets of his greatcoat, his underlip a little protruding, a
general air of unapproachability about him.  If there were not
actually newspaper men on board, there were men connected with
newspapers, and they looked at him wistfully--even followed him at
a respectful distance along the deck, seeking an opportunity to
venture upon a friendly word.  They were, however, doomed to
disappointment.  Samara, after a restless night, had no desire for
the amenities of life.  He climbed to the higher deck where few
people were disposed to face the wind, and, assured of a certain
measure of solitude there, he leaned against the rail, looking down
into the steerage.  Again, as on the previous night, he felt the
scrutiny of a little company of white-faced, black-eyed shadows of
men, with skulking movements and general air of furtiveness.  One
of them he watched in particular, with something more than ordinary
curiosity.  The man looked over his shoulder twice and, although
his expression was entirely passive, there was recognition in those
stealthy glances.  Soon he disappeared behind a ventilator, and
Samara, after a few minutes' hesitation, recommenced his promenade.
This time, however, it was speedily interrupted.  The First
Officer, who was descending from the bridge, caught sight of him
and waited for his approach at the bottom of the steps.

"Mr. Samara," he said, saluting, "may I have a word with you?"

Samara nodded.

"Certainly."

"We are very pleased and proud, of course, to have you as a
passenger, sir," the officer went on, "but I wish very much you had
followed the example of some other over-popular statesmen who
travel with us, and done so incognito."

"My friends arranged my passage," Samara explained.  "I came on
board, as you know, quite unexpectedly."

"Just so," the other assented.  "That would have been all right if
they had used a little more discretion.  The trouble of it is that
we have at least a score of your country people in the steerage--
red-hot Bolshevists, every one of them--who came out here and
haven't been allowed to land.  They've been at Ellis Island for
some time and now we've orders to take them back to Naples."

"I think I've recognised one or two of them," Samara remarked
drily.

"We are taking every precaution," the officer continued.  "Not one
of them will be allowed to land until after you have left the ship
and we have stationed a guard at each of the communicating passages
leading from the steerage aft.  I'd have a care if I were you, Mr.
Samara, and particularly, I'd lock both my doors at night.  Yours
is rather an exposed suite."

"I am very much obliged for the warning," Samara said.  "I don't
think that my attitude towards life is exactly that of a fatalist,
but so far as regards these repeated attempts upon my person, I
have grown just a little callous, I'm afraid.  Or perhaps it is
that I have faith."

"It's a fine thing to have," the other observed gravely, "but some
of the greatest men in the world have been struck down by the most
utter miscreants.  We will do our best to take care of you, sir."

"I am sure you will," was the slightly more cordial reply.

The morning wore on.  Some of the ship's passengers indulged in
sports.  Down in the steerage a man who called himself a Hungarian,
but who had been christened "Simon the Jew," was doing tricks with
knives, to the amazement of a little group of spectators.  He
pinned a piece of paper on the wall and from twenty paces he threw
short-bladed, ugly-looking knives into a perfect circle.  He threw
them into the air and caught them by the handles, three or four at
the same time, the sun shining upon the blue steel of their blades.
Some of the women turned away.  Even the men--and they were used to
knives--shivered a little.  The man was a magician.

Back on the promenade deck, Catherine was conscious of a vague
sense of annoyance.  Samara had not been near her all the morning.
Once or twice, as she passed along the deck, she had seen him
sitting in a corner of the smoking-room--smoking a pipe and
reading.  It was not until after the bugle had sounded for luncheon
that she met him in the companion-way.

"I thought," she said, a little coldly, "that I was supposed to be
here as your secretary."

He nodded.

"No work this morning," he declared.

"I had no intention of coming," she continued, "simply for a sea
voyage.  May I ask whether there will be work to do this
afternoon?"

The gruffness passed from his manner.  He looked at her
abstractedly.  She was wearing a long jumper of a distinctive shade
of green, a cap of the same colour, and the wind had brought a
wholesome touch of pink to her cheeks.  Her tone was almost severe,
but her lips were already framing for a smile.

"There is a despatch," he announced, "which I wish to prepare for
forwarding to London.  We will commence it at three o'clock, if
that suits you."

"It suits me very well indeed," she assured him.

They separated without further speech.  A few minutes later, as he
sat at his corner table from which the other chair had already been
removed, he saw her coming towards him.  This time there was a
distinct frown upon her face.

"I understand," she said, "that you have told the second steward to
give me a place somewhere else."

"I thought it would be more agreeable to you," he replied.

"You were entirely wrong," she confided.  "I shall sit with you or
take my meals on deck."

He rose at once to his feet and summoned a steward.

"Kindly relay this table," he directed.  "Mademoiselle will share
it with me."

She seated herself and looked at him severely.

"Why do you desire to dispense with my society after having made
use of so much eloquence to obtain it?" she inquired.  "I can
assure you that I am a very desirable companion.  I can be silent.
I can be an eager listener--especially if you talk of Russia--or I
can talk nonsense.  You have only to name your humour, and I can
respond to it.  But I will not sit with that noisy crowd of fat,
curious women, and their male belongings."

"You are very welcome here," he conceded, trying to conceal his own
satisfaction.  "The arrangement I proposed was largely for your
sake.  I thought that you would like to make acquaintances on
board."

She drew herself up and looked at him with a smile, half amused,
half haughty.

"Why?  Acquaintances?"

His retort was prompt.

"As a young lady typist from the Bureau of the Weltmore Hotel,
taking her first ocean trip," he began--

"The trick is to you," she interrupted.  "I don't like the sarcasm,
though.  Are you sure that you still believe in me, Mr. Samara?"

"Ought I to?" he retorted unexpectedly.

"We will waive the question," she decided, after a moment's
deliberation.

The second steward came up to pay his respects and to suggest
special dishes for dinner that night or luncheon on the morrow.
The wine followed with news of some old brandy for which Samara had
inquired, and his place in turn was taken by the First Officer, who
paused for a moment or two on his way out.

"I trust, Mr. Samara," he said, "that you are keeping the matter in
mind about which I spoke to you this morning."

"It is scarcely a matter which slips easily from one's memory," was
the somewhat grim reply.

"What was he talking about?" Catherine asked, glancing curiously
after the retreating figure.

"A gang of Bolshevists on board, being returned to their native
country with thanks.  They hate me like poison, of course, every
one of them."

She looked troubled.

"I am sure I saw some of them," she confided, "when I was looking
over into the steerage this morning.  Even though they are my own
country people, I thought they were horrible."

"There's nothing to fear from such cattle," he said shortly.
"You'll have to get used to believing that I am immune from that
sort of thing, if you work for me.  You have had a dose of it
already.  As for these fellows, they are no good without
organisation.  They may hate me like poison, but there isn't one of
them would have the courage to risk his own life by trying to get
rid of me for the sake of his fellows.  The Bolshevist hasn't
altruism enough for that."

After luncheon they parted for a time, and at three o'clock,
preceded by a steward carrying her typewriter, Catherine presented
herself in the little sitting-room attached to Samara's suite.  He
was already there, talking to Ivan, or rather the latter was
talking and Samara was listening.  Ivan had apparently worked
himself into a state almost of passion.  The words came from his
lips in a little stream; his fists were clenched.  His master
pushed him out of the room with a few soothing words.

"Ivan's been down in the steerage," he explained, turning to
Catherine with a smile.  "Been running amuck with some of the scum
there, I expect.  He thinks that they'd do me a mischief if they
could.  So would a hundred thousand more of them, but they don't
get the chance."

"I have not quite made up my mind about you yet," she said, as she
seated herself at the table.  "One thing I am quite sure about,
though; I do not wish you to be assassinated whilst I am around, or
indeed until I am convinced that your work for Russia is over.  So
far as you have gone, I look upon you as the greatest Russian
benefactor we have ever had.  If only you would complete the work!"

"Restore the monarchy?"

"Yes."

"Some day we will argue the matter," he promised.  "Now take down
the text of my communication to the English Cabinet."

They worked for several hours, Catherine fascinated by the
substance of what she wrote, the directness and lucidity with which
Samara expressed himself.  Sometimes he was at a loss for a word
and at her suggestion he supplied her with a Russian one.  They
drifted now and then into the habit of exchanging remarks in that
tongue.

"It seems odd to think that you have never actually been in your
own country since you were old enough to remember!" he said
abruptly.

"I spent three very strenuous years there, according to my mother,"
she confided.  "My impressions are naturally a little mixed."

He returned to work and dismissed her only when the bugle sounded
an hour before dinner.  Afterwards he walked outside for a few
minutes alone.  It was already dusk, quieter than on the previous
night, but still with a long swell and half a gale blowing on the
windward side of the ship.  He paced the almost deserted deck once
or twice thoughtfully.  A whistle sounded from the bridge.
Presently the boatswain came up to him and saluted.

"The Captain's compliments, sir, and would you speak to him for a
moment in his room?"

Samara followed the man on to the covered deck and into the
Captain's quarters.  The latter, who had been changing for dinner,
came out of his room.

"You will take a cocktail with me, Mr. Samara?" he invited.

"With pleasure."

In a moment there was the sound of the ice clinking in the shaker,
and the Captain's steward appeared with two frosted glasses full of
amber liquid.

"You mustn't think us a lot of old women, Mr. Samara," the Captain
begged, as he pushed the cigarettes across, "but I tell you frankly
that we're rather nervous about you.  We've got a rotten steerage
on board, and I'm going to ask you not to walk these decks after
dusk.  If you care to come up on the bridge while the weather is in
any way decent and clear, I shall be delighted.  Plenty of exercise
there, and all the wind you could want in the world."

Samara smiled faintly.

"I have to stick it out in Moscow, you know, and a good many other
places which I visit in my own country," he reminded his companion.

"Precisely," the Captain agreed, "but permit me to point out a very
vital difference.  In your own country, for one man who would raise
his hand against you there are a million to whom you are something
like a god, and any would-be assassin would have to face the fact
that he would probably be torn to pieces in a matter of seconds.
On board this ship it is a very different affair.  My First Officer
tells me that we've got a score or more of the worst of your
country people on board, who honestly believe in an ignorant way
that they've got a grudge against you.  It excites them to think
that you are so near.  They feel that they have a chance of getting
at you they wouldn't have on land.  I'm one of your great admirers,
Mr. Samara, but there's a selfish side to this, too.  I should hate
anything to happen on my ship."

"I'll take every care," Samara promised.  "Give me a cocktail like
that now and then, and I'd almost promise to hide in my stateroom!"

The Captain smiled as he divided the remainder.

"It will take a load off our minds if you'll promise to be
careful," he said.  "We watch those fellows day and night, but
they're as slippery as eels.  Even now my boatswain tells me
there's one of them he can't account for."

"Have they any firearms?"

"Not now.  We've taken seven revolvers away from them--not a bad
haul for less than a score.  In one respect they are not as bad as
the Dagos--they haven't all a knife up their sleeves."

Samara was escorted back to his quarters by the boatswain.  Ivan,
who was busy brushing his clothes, was still disturbed and anxious.

"I do not like this ship," he declared, as he shook out his
master's coat.  "There are evil men upon it."

"Turn on my bath, Ivan.  Even evil men without arms in their hands
can do no more than think evil thoughts," his master reminded him.
"What in hell's name is that?"

There was a strange fugitive glimpse of a white face pressed
against the large, square window which took the place of a
porthole; a face which slowly appeared from underneath the frosted
lower part and came into sight gradually--a mass of black matted
hair, sunken eyes, sunken cheeks, an expression scarcely human.
Samara sprang forward, but Ivan held him back with all his giant
strength.  He pushed his master on one side and hastened to the
door.

"It is for me, this, Master," he cried.

He was out on the deck in an instant.  Samara snatched up a pistol
from the drawer of his writing desk and followed him.  There was
not a creature in sight.  He looked up and down.  Ivan crept
underneath the boats.  The place appeared to be deserted.  Samara,
with a shrug of his shoulders, returned to his stateroom.  Ivan
stood still on the deck; a giant figure, his long hair blowing
about in the wind, the muscles of his right arm taut, rage in his
heart.



Chapter XI


Catherine had just finished a morning's work which even she found
severe.  She leaned back in her chair with a little sigh of
exhaustion.  Her fingers were stiff, her arms numb, there was a
slight dizziness at the back of her head.  Outside, too, as though
to tantalise her the more, the wind had gone down and the great
liner was ploughing its level way through a blue sea as smooth as a
carpet and bespangled with sunlight.  Samara, with the inspiration
of his last few sentences still in his brain, was like a man
removed altogether from the world.  He, too, was looking through
that wide-flung porthole, but with the air of one who seeks
something beyond the swelling sea and the narrow boundaries of the
blue horizon.  Catherine, watching him with curious eyes, forgot
for a moment her fatigue.  He had indeed the air of a prophet.
There was no follower of the cause which lay next to her own heart
like this, she reflected sorrowfully.  With a momentary pang she
thought of Nicholas and that little circle back in New York, even
now making their plans.  The recollection failed altogether to
exhilarate her.

The sound of the luncheon bugle brought their feet back to the
ground.  Samara turned swiftly around.  For the first time that
morning, as it seemed to Catherine, he looked at her as though she
were a human being.

"You are tired," he exclaimed, "of course you are tired!  I have
worked you for three hours without a pause.  Ivan!"

The man appeared, silently for all his bulk, and without a moment's
delay.  His master gave him a rapid order in Russian.

"If I am tired, it is a pleasure to feel so," she assured him.  "I
feel mentally as you feel physically when you return from a long
day's hunting.  Only, if you will give me an hour's rest after
luncheon, I shall sleep in the sunshine."

"I shall not work again to-day," he declared.  "I've got rid of
much that was in my mind.  These thoughts collect in their little
cells.  One must bring them into shape or sometimes they slip
away."

Ivan returned with two glasses full of frosted liquid on a tray.
Catherine took one gratefully.  Samara tossed his off at a draught.

"Come out into the sunshine for ten minutes before lunch," he
invited.

She finished her apéritif and followed him willingly enough on to
the deck.  They walked up and down once or twice.  Then Catherine
sank into her steamer chair and, after a moment's hesitation, he
seated himself by her side.

"One scarcely needs exercise," she murmured.  "The sun and this air
are so wonderful and the decks are crowded.  Besides, I hate
walking.  Tell me, Mr. Samara, if you will--you write openly enough
of the second stage in your great struggle for the regeneration of
Russia.  What is it?"

"Can't you imagine?" he answered, a little gloomily.  "The escape
from our obligations, written and unwritten, to Germany."

"Germany!"

She repeated the word.  The full understanding of his announcement
evaded her.

"Don't you see," he pointed out, "in the early days of Bolshevist
Government, Germany obtained almost a stranglehold upon Russia.
The best of her industries were seized upon and worked by Germans.
These profiteers made piles of money, but instead of investing it
to develop Russia's resources, they kept it for themselves, to
spend in their own country when they had sucked the thing dry.
German capital was used freely enough but not for Russia's ultimate
good.  The fortunes made went abroad.  Russian resources, Russian
cheap labour, were merely the cat's-paw of German capitalists.  The
same thing in a different manner applied to our armies.  It is
quite true that German officers and German efficiency have made us
a military power far in advance of our requirements, but for what
purpose were those armies to be used, do you suppose?  Not for
Russia's benefit.  That is why--"

It was precisely at that moment that an incredible and amazing
thing happened--seen first, to Samara's preservation, by Catherine.
Scarcely fifteen feet from them was hung a boat, covered by a tight
canvas covering.  There was hardly a breath of wind, and yet
Catherine's attention had been attracted by the inexplicable
movement of one of the knotted ends of rope which tied it down; an
end which disappeared underneath the canvas as though drawn there
by invisible fingers.  There was a sudden gap in the folds of the
canvas itself, and swiftly following, black tragedy, pregnant with
fate; the instantaneous reappearance of that horrible face, first
seen by Samara through the window of his cabin, and now more than
ever like some diabolical jack-in-the-box, the top part of a body,
collarless, clad in a grey flannel shirt only, a long skinny arm,
gripping in its yellow fingers something that gleamed like silver
in the sunlight.

It was an affair of seconds.  Catherine never knew the instinct
which prompted her.  She caught hold of Samara by the neck and
dragged his face against hers.  Even as she did so something
flashed across those fifteen feet of space like a silver
thunderbolt; something that hissed in the air and buried itself in
the woodwork where Samara's head had been--buried itself almost to
the hilt, and stayed there quivering.  There were people walking
both ways.  They paused in amazement.  Samara felt the fiery grip
of Catherine's fingers released.  He sprang to his feet, just as
the misshapen little figure leaped out from the gap in the boat,
jumped on to the deck and turned towards the steerage.  Samara,
large and loose-limbed though he was, was no less nimble.  One long
leap--and the man was in his grasp.  It was like a rat in the grip
of a well-conditioned sporting dog.  Afterwards, it seemed to
Catherine, sitting there numbed and motionless, that these things
could scarcely have happened.  A matter of seconds saw the
beginning and end of an episode which might have changed the
world's history.  Samara, shaking with a great anger, held his
miserable captive high over his head, shouted one word to him--a
Russian word, harsh and uncouth it sounded--strode to the rail,
held him for a moment poised, in full sight of half-a-hundred
shivering and paralysed passengers, and flung him out into the
sunlight, far away from the ship's side, into the soft blue bosom
of the sea.  Even people who had not seen, heard the splash and ran
to the side of the boat.  Samara leaned with the others over the
rails.  He became suddenly a spectator.  Behind him, embedded three
inches deep in the woodwork, the knife was still quivering, the
sunshine reflected from it like gleams of lightning.

Pandemonium followed, but pandemonium through which ran a thread of
order.  There was the clanging of the gong from the Captain's
bridge, the sudden shock of reversed engines, a boat in the sea
almost before people realised its lowering--a boat which seemed to
be left far behind as the liner drifted on with her own momentum.
A hundred glasses watched it.  A hoarse murmur ran all down the
line of anxious passengers.  Samara felt a hand, as cold as ice,
clutch his.  Catherine was standing by his side.

"Have they picked him up?" she asked.

He nodded.

"These fellows have the lives of cats," he observed resignedly.  "I
quite thought that I had broken his neck when I threw him over."

A little crowd had gathered round the sinister-looking knife;
others watched the return of the boat with the half-drowned man.
In the background people gazed with awe and wonder at Samara--a man
who had escaped death by a miracle, and the taking of life by a
second one.  He was momentarily engaged in tying a handkerchief
round his right hand from which a few drops of blood were falling.

"The fellow tried to bite me when I got hold of his neck," he
explained.  "I shall go and see the doctor.  Any one who touches
this carrion needs disinfectants."

People made way for him right and left.  The sight of that amazing
retaliation of his had imbued him with a grotesque, yet heroic,
air.  It was like a deed from a book of the Sagas.  Then into that
blazing atmosphere of tragedy there intervened a readjusting note.
With puffed-out cheeks and earnest manner, a pallid young man
produced from a shining bugle the call for luncheon.  Untoward and
unexpected events are coldly looked upon on board ship.  Routine
and discipline are paramount.  When Samara returned from the
doctor's room with his hand neatly bandaged, he found most of the
passengers, including Catherine, already seated at luncheon.



Chapter XII


The knife thrower brooded, so far as his narrow mind allowed him,
in irons, for the remainder of the voyage, without even the solace
of a word from his cowed companions.  Samara, with Catherine always
at hand to help, worked for several hours each morning, preparing a
detailed report of his proceedings in New York.  The other
passengers loafed and flirted their time away, very much in the
usual fashion.  Three uneventful days brought peace of mind to the
Captain and to the First Officer.

"Am I a good secretary?" Catherine asked one evening at the
completion of a long day's work.

"The best I ever had," he admitted promptly.  "I am not so sure,
after all, that we shall be able to work together for very long."

Her eyebrows were slightly raised.

"It should not be for you to say that," she protested.  "If I am
useful here, why should not I be equally so in Moscow?  Andrew
Kroupki, you tell me, will not be able to leave New York for more
than a month."

"That is true."

"There is some one else in Moscow, perhaps?" she persisted.

"There is no one else," he assured her.  "I have never had a woman
secretary."

"Some one in your household would object to my presence?"

He frowned irritably.

"There is no woman whatever in my household," he said, "except an
old housekeeper who was my nurse when I was a boy.  It is not that.
The bald truth is that you are not the sort of secretary for a man
like myself."

"Because of our political lack of sympathy?" she asked.  "I can't
help being a Monarchist, but as against that you have done Russia a
magnificent service by freeing her from Bolshevism.  I could never
forget that."

"It is not a matter of politics at all," he confessed.  "Can't you
realise that I dislike having women around me as women?  I prefer
to keep an unbiassed mind.  Women belong to the arts and graces of
life.  They have no place in our serious moments and enterprises."

She looked at him with gentle pity.

"Dear Mr. Samara," she said, "it is terrible to hear a man of
intelligence like yourself talk such absolute nonsense.  You are
looking out on life with one eye shut."

"No great man was ever cumbered with womenkind," he declared.
"Those who were, fell."

"If you quote Mark Antony and Napoleon to me I shall shriek," she
threatened.  "I wish we were entirely of the same way of thinking
in other matters.  I would soon convert you as to this."

"You should accept my obduracy as a compliment," he said.  "If
association with you had not its effect upon me I should
automatically forget your sex."

"I should never let you," she assured him.

They were promenading the deck together.  It was during the hour
before dinner, and they climbed to the boat deck and walked on the
windward side to avoid the crowd.  Here they were almost alone.

"My mind this afternoon," Catherine confided, "has, in intervals of
work, been engrossed by thoughts of my own future.  When do we
reach Monte Carlo?"

"Next Thursday," he replied.

"How long do we stay there?" she inquired.

"At least a week," he answered.  "One of my ministers is coming
from Moscow to meet me, and there will be an emissary from a
foreign country waiting for me."

"And after that?"

"We shall go to Moscow via Naples and Budapest.  As far as you are
concerned, when we arrive there, you will naturally be your own
mistress.  I hope, however, that you will continue to help me, at
any rate until Andrew returns.  I do not like to speak of money in
connection with such services as you have rendered me, but I shall
of course see that financially you are unembarrassed."

"Thank you," she said.  "In any case I quite intend to come to
Moscow with you."

He was silent, for a cause which, had she known it, would have
flattered her.

"When you asked me to come with you, and I, by the way, refused,"
she continued, "I knew nothing about Monte Carlo.  I took it for
granted that I should be taken direct to Moscow."

"You are disappointed?"

"Not I," she laughed.  "What girl in the world would be disappointed
at the chance of seeing Monte Carlo for the first time in her life!
All the same, I am looking forward very much indeed to returning to
my own country.  Thanks to you, my friends are coming.  The Grand
Duchess has offered me a home, and I have no doubt that Nicholas
would give me a post as his secretary if I asked him.  Tzars have
to have secretaries, I suppose."

"Nicholas Imanoff will never be Tzar," he told her grimly.  "I
haven't saved Russia from the Bolshevists to hand it back to one of
his breed."

"Really," she murmured.  "Well, Nicholas quite thinks he is going
to be.  He'd look rather wonderful, wouldn't he, in white uniform
and a crown?"

"For an exceedingly sensible young woman you talk a lot of
nonsense," he said.

"When I'm in the mood," she confided, "no one can stop me.  Still,
if you don't press me to remain with you after we get to Moscow, I
shall always believe that it is because you are afraid of me."

"You will be quite right," he confessed.  "I am already."

She laughed softly and turned to the Captain whom they had just
encountered.

"Such a confession, Captain!" she exclaimed.  "Mr. Samara here, who
fears no cut-throat, laughs at bullets, and despises bombs, is
afraid of poor me."

"I do not wonder," was the prompt reply.  "It is his peace of mind
which is in danger."

"It may be that," she reflected.  "It is at any rate a flattering
thought."

"What are we to do with your Russian lunatic?" the Captain
inquired, turning to Samara.

The latter shrugged his shoulders.

"What do I care?  Keep him in irons until I have left the ship, and
then, whatever you will.  You'd much better have left him where I
sent him."

The Captain smiled.

"Sometimes," he admitted, "I think that the ways of a few hundred
years ago were the better."

He passed on, and Samara and his companion continued their walk.

"I have quite made up my mind as to my future," Catherine declared.
"I wish to come to Moscow with you, to find apartments in the city
pending the arrival of my friends, and to continue my work as your
secretary--your junior secretary, of course--until that unfortunate
young man in New York recovers.  I am deeply interested in your
outlook.  I think there are certain aspects of the life and
evolution of my country which you understand better than any living
person.  Don't send me away from you, please, Mr. Samara.  Remember
that you are entirely responsible for my coming."

"Why the devil shouldn't I?" he demanded with sudden harshness.
"You'll leave me as soon as you've learnt all you want to learn.
You haven't come at all in the spirit in which I appealed to you to
come.  You patronise my outlook.  In your heart you despise it."

She contrived to keep by his side without loss of dignity, although
he had turned abruptly around and was making for the steps.

"You are very severe all of a sudden," she complained.  "Where are
you off to in this tremendous haste?"

"To the smoking-room to drink cocktails," he growled.  "Beware of
me at dinner-time.  I may have a few home truths to tell you."

"I shall come with you," she declared.  "I need sustenance myself.
I wish I did not look so strong.  Then you would perhaps be more
sympathetic.  And as regards those cocktails you are a very
fraudulent person.  Nothing that you ever drink makes the slightest
difference to you."

He laughed hardly.

"You are quite right," he admitted.  "It doesn't.  Still there are
times when I like the fire in my veins, even when it leads nowhere.
Come if you wish to, by all means."

They sat at a corner table in the smoking-room, the object, as
usual, of a great deal of attention, although few people at any
time ventured upon more than a respectful salute.  When she had
finished her apéritif, Catherine rose.

"Go and change now, please," she begged.  "I feel that our
conversation at dinner-time may be interesting, and I don't want
you to sit here and drink more cocktails and be half an hour late."

He rose to his feet, but only to let her pass.  For a few minutes
after she had gone, he remained silent.  To the bartender, who
paused before him in expectation of a further order, he only shook
his head.  He told himself that a certain minor crisis in his life
was arising, and that he must meet it with a cool brain.  He had
been conscious of its near approach ever since he had found it more
easy to remember the cling of Catherine's arm around his neck than
the hiss of the knife with its sickening little stab, from which
she had saved him.  Even now there was a strange and unfamiliar
sensation of pleasure as he recalled the clasp of her fingers, the
touch of her cheek against his.  Folly for any man.  Lunacy for
him!

Yet, at its very outset the spontaneity of their dinner conversation
was ruined by an untoward and ugly episode.  The second steward bore
down upon them almost as soon as they had taken their places, whilst
Samara was still stroking the green-eyed cat, who came to his chair
every evening.  He was carrying a silver tureen which he set down
upon the table.

"Our under-chef," he confided, "has sent you some Russian Bortsch
soup, with some cream sauce.  He was in service once with a Russian
family at Nice, and learnt something of their cooking."

"Very good, if it is really Bortsch," Catherine remarked.  "Am I to
have a little?"

The steward smiled reassuringly.

"The chef has prepared plenty, madam," he said, as he served it.
"I was specially to recommend the sauce."

Samara poured some of the latter a little absently into his plate
and held it towards the cat.

"You'll never get rid of him if you give him cream, sir," the man
observed, as he turned away.

Samara held out his hand towards Catherine, who was about to
commence her dinner.

"Wait," he insisted, "just one moment."

She saw the horror creep into his face, and leaned over.  The cat
lay on its side.  Already its eyes were half closed and its limbs
were stiffening.  The second steward, who had been talking at a
table close at hand, came hurrying back.

"Why, what's wrong with the cat, sir?" he exclaimed.  "Seems as
though he was going to have a fit."

"It is your chef's specially prepared dish that is the matter with
the cat," Samara said drily.  "You had better take the rest of it
to the doctor."

The man's face was white with horror.

"Just a moment, sir," he begged.  "I've got to get down to the
kitchens first.  I wonder whether you'd mind coming with me?"

Samara rose and followed him.  Two of the stewards carried out the
cat.  The chief steward himself came and removed the dishes from
the table.  There was a babel of conversation.  No one knew exactly
what had happened.

There was a certain drama in the little scene below, although
Samara himself was chiefly conscious of a sense of bitter anger.
The under-chef, in his soiled white clothes and white cap, stood
with folded arms, leaning against the wall in the doctor's little
consulting-room.  The doctor was present, also the second steward
and the Captain.  The latter wasted little time upon the matter.

"Look here," he said to the young man, "you declare that there was
nothing harmful in the soup or the sauce you sent up for Mr.
Samara."

"It was made as I have always made it," was the sullen reply.  "As
for the cat, he has fits.  It was that and nothing else."

"Very well," the Captain continued.  "There is the sauce upon the
table.  Doctor, I dare say you can find a wine-glass.  You shall
drink a wine-glassful and we will believe you."

Something of the chefs bravado left him.  He watched the sauce
poured into a medicine-glass which the doctor held out towards him.
He took it into his hands and hesitated for a moment.  Then he
dashed it on to the floor.

"I will not drink it," he declared.  "You cannot force me to."

The Captain nodded to a sailor who had been waiting close at hand.

"Put him in irons at once," he ordered.

The man made a sudden spring for the door, but the steward caught
him by the collar and swung him round.  He stood shivering,
helpless, but with a look of hate in his eyes.  He glared at Samara
and the desire to kill was mingled with the hate.

"I may fail and others may fail," he cried, "but some day, someone
will succeed!"

Samara's anger seemed to have passed.  He looked at his would-be
assassin curiously.

"You are a Russian?" he asked.

"Yes," was the sullen reply.

"Why should you try to kill me--you and these others you speak of?
I have worked hard for Russia."

The man spat upon the floor.

"You have worked hard for yourself," he snarled.  "You are an
autocrat, worse than any Tzar who ever ruled at Peterhof!  You're a
tyrant, an enemy of Soviet Government.  That is why we hate you.
You stand for the personal; I, and all real Russian patriots, for
the Republic!"

They led him away.  There was a look almost of sadness in Samara's
eyes as he turned to leave the cabin.  The man was obviously one of
an ignorant band of anarchists, ill-educated, filled with poisonous
doctrines.  Yet a gleam of truth sometimes flashed out from
unexpected places.



Chapter XIII


Catherine, a morning or so later, leaned over the white rail of the
boat deck and watched the blue fire playing about the wires
overhead.

"These Marconi people must bless you, Mr. Samara," she observed.

"I think they are more disposed to curse me," he answered.
"They've had very little rest for the last twenty-four hours."

She looked at him meditatively.  He was, without a doubt,
notwithstanding a certain uncouthness and an ungraceful stoop of
his broad shoulders, a fine figure of a man.  The touch of sunburn
acquired during the last few days became him.  She approved of the
few grey hairs by his ears, the inflexible mouth, his eyes so full
of colour.

"I never thought I should like a man with blue eyes," she said
irrelevantly.

"Do you like me?" he asked.

She laughed.

"What a question!  Why else should I be here, putting myself, as
one of these dear old ladies said the other morning, 'in a most
difficult position--private secretary to, and travelling alone,
with an unmarried man?' They don't know what a tower of strength
you are, do they?"

"I hope," he answered gruffly, "that they have sense enough to
realise that I have something else to think about these days
besides playing the gallant."

"One loses one's sense of proportion out here at sea," she
ruminated.  "I am inclined sometimes to forget that you are a very
important person.  This sort of thing reminds me," she added,
pointing to the wires overhead.  "How many messages have you
received to-day?"

"I have not counted," he answered.  "The last one from England is
the most important.  For the first time I am inclined to regret
that this is not a Southampton boat.  I think that I must go to
London."

"Delightful!" she murmured.  "I can't believe that it compares with
New York, but I should like to see it."

"You probably will, then," he assured her.  "The Prime Minister has
invited me to visit him before I return to Moscow."

"If I were Andrew Kroupki," she remarked suggestively, "you would
go a little further and tell me just what he wants to discuss with
you."

"There is no reason why you should not know," he observed, after a
moment's hesitation.  "Your own common-sense can very likely
visualise the situation.  Naturally what I am doing is of immense
interest to England.  For the last fifteen years the Russian armies
have been the greatest menace to peace in Europe.  I have realised
that myself, although I have been powerless to act.  The rumoured
demobilisation of even a portion of them is an event of the utmost
importance to England and France."

"I quite understand that," Catherine declared, "but tell me, are
any of those messages from Berlin?"

A smile parted his lips, a smile which she was beginning to look
for and appreciate.  It was like the grin of a boy who sees
mischief ahead.  He pointed to the blue fires which were still
snapping away above them.

"Hell!" he confided.  "Hell and every kind of fury!"

"What fun!" she murmured.  "When do we face the storm?"

"The first breath of it in Monte Carlo," he replied.  "Von Hartsen
is meeting me there, and I don't think he's exactly carrying the
olive branch."

A messenger from the Marconi office brought Samara still another
despatch.  He tore open the envelope and read it carefully.

"From the War Office at Moscow," he remarked.  "They're deluged
with inquiries from Berlin.  I must send them a short reply."

He strolled away and climbed the steps into the Marconi room.
Catherine descended to the lower deck and made her way to her
chair.  She had scarcely seated herself before she became aware of
a new neighbour on her left-hand side--a middle-aged man with dark
beard and moustaches, wearing tortoise-shell rimmed spectacles and
a travelling cap with long flaps.  At her approach, he laid down
the book he had been reading and glanced cautiously around.

"I have been looking for an opportunity of a word with you, Miss
Borans," he said, speaking with a thick guttural accent.  "It is
very difficult to find you alone."

"Who are you and what do you want?" she asked coldly.

"My name is Lorenzheim," he told her.  "Karl Lorenzheim.  I am a
friend.  Look at this, please."

He handed her a crumpled-up visiting-card of Kirdorff's.  On the
back was a line scrawled in pencil:

"Lorenzheim is a friend.  You can treat him with confidence."

"So you know Colonel Kirdorff," she remarked.

"I am a member of the Club of which he is secretary," her new
acquaintance confided.  "He is a Russian and I am a German, but we
are friends.  He desired me to make myself known to you when a safe
opportunity occurred."

"You are very mysterious," she observed.  "What do you mean by a
'safe opportunity?'"

"When Mr. Samara is not around," was the significant reply.

She twisted the card which he had given her in her fingers and
returned it to him.

"Mr. Samara is on the upper deck attending to some Marconigrams,"
she said.  "He will be back directly."

"Marconigrams, eh!" Mr. Lorenzheim repeated.  "You see them--what?"

"I know what some of them are about," she assented.

He smiled.

"You are very cautious," he declared.  "I do not blame you, but you
can trust me.  Mr. Samara," he went on, "is a very great man, but
he is a great man for his own people--not for yours or mine."

"I know nothing about his relations with your country," she said.
"So far as regards my own friends he has treated them with great
generosity."

"Generosity!" Mr. Lorenzheim scoffed.  "What is this you say?
Generosity, indeed!  There is Nicholas Imanoff, who should to-day
be ruler of Russia, selling bonds in New York.  Who rules the
country in his stead?  Samara!  Oh, you all say he's a great man
because he drove out the Bolshevists.  I tell you that the
Bolshevists committed suicide with their follies and excesses.  If
Samara had not dealt them their death-blow, Russia would have
reverted to a monarchy fifteen years ago."

"That may be," she replied.  "I still say that Samara has acted
generously in summoning my friends back to Russia."

Mr. Lorenzheim took off his spectacles and polished them.

"We must not quarrel, you and I," he said tolerantly.  "You call it
'generosity.'  I call it 'folly.'  Never mind!  I have been looking
for you to ask you a question.  What you tell me is as though you
told it to Kirdorff himself.  We want to know whether Samara has
any idea of tampering with the Second Army, and whether his
messages from Moscow have spoken of any disaffection amongst the
soldiers themselves."

Catherine moved a little uneasily in her chair.  She was suddenly
conscious of a sense of immense repugnance to this intruder, to his
message and all its suggestions.  It was with almost a feeling of
horror that she realised how entirely it was taken for granted that
she was occupying her present position under false pretences, that
she was in reality a spy upon the man for whom she was supposed to
be working.  Her tone when she spoke lacked all enthusiasm.

"There is nothing definite at present which I can impart to you,"
she declared.

He turned and looked at her through his bespectacled eyes.

"You do not doubt my credentials?" he asked.  "Kirdorff has known
me for many years."

"It has not occurred to me to doubt anything that you have said,"
she replied.  "I am not used, however, to have my new occupation
taken so much for granted."

"Occupation?" he repeated, mystified.

"As a spy."

He shrugged his shoulders.

"Those who toil for great causes," he said, "must stoop sometimes
to displeasing methods.  Pardon if I return to my book.  We speak
again together.  Mr. Samara approaches."

Samara carried more despatches in his hand.  He paused in front of
Catherine's chair.

"Come and walk with me," he invited a little abruptly.  "I have
something to say to you."

She rose at once and he led the way to a sheltered corner aft where
there were usually some empty chairs.  He ensconced her in one and
remained himself standing beside her.

"We shall land in three days," he announced.  "It is essential that
after my meeting with Von Hartsen I should go at once to Moscow, or
remain in Monte Carlo for a few days.  There is, however, this
invitation from the Prime Minister of England to be dealt with.
Will you undertake a commission there for me?"

They were nearing the Straits and she looked thoughtfully out
across the sea to the bare, rocky coast of North Africa.  Samara
watched her with impatience.

"I wonder whether you realise," she said at last, "that it is less
than a fortnight since I came to your rooms from the Hotel Weltmore
Typewriting Bureau to work for you?"

"Twenty-seven hours less than a fortnight," he assented.  "What of
it?"

"You have already entrusted me with a great many of your secrets,"
she reminded him, "and the little you know of me is not altogether,
from your point of view, a recommendation.  I belong, in fact, to a
political party opposed to your views and your system of
government.  Don't you think that you are placing a little too much
trust in me?"

"I do not," he answered, "or I should not ask you to undertake this
mission to London.  You are a patriot and even though your
sympathies are still engrossed in a romantic but hopelessly
out-of-date cause, you admit that I have done a great work for Russia.
Why should I not trust you?  When I find you embroiled in a
monarchist plot, it will be time enough for me to send you to a
fortress."

"Will you ever have the heart to do that?" she whispered, looking
at him with a provocative gleam in her eyes.

"Heart!" he repeated gruffly.  "I have no heart.  If you betrayed
my confidence, I should see that you had what you deserved."

"Nevertheless," she persisted, with a return to her more serious
manner, "I think you are disposed to put too much trust in me."

He looked down at her with the momentary irritation of an elder
towards a child.

"Neither a guarantee of secrecy," he declared, "nor absolute
immunity from theft can ever be purchased or built up with bolts
and bars.  Trust, considered and calculated trust, is safety.  To
know where to bestow it is, I admit, a form of genius.  If I seem
to you flamboyantly trustful, it is your judgment that is wrong.  I
believe in your sense of honour and my own instinct.  Kindly let
that end the discussion."

That night they were anchored in the Bay of Gibraltar, in the
shadow of the great Rock ablaze with its thousand pin-pricks of
fire.  Samara was summoned from the dinner-table to receive a call
from the Governor who had come aboard in his launch, and Catherine
leaned for some time over the side of the ship, watching the little
boats below with their wares of fruit and flowers and tinselly
merchandise.  Presently room was made at the foot of the gangway
for the Governor's launch, and he and Samara stood for a moment or
two at the top of the stairs, talking.

Then the former took his leave and soon after Samara found his way
to her side.

"Come on the upper deck," he invited.  "These people below are so
noisy."

She obeyed at once.  They sat on one of the fixed seats with their
back to the Fortress and as far removed as possible from the hubbub
of the extemporised market.  She asked him a question about the
Governor.

"A pleasant man and very friendly," he told her.  "Naturally, as an
old soldier, he was interested in the demobilisation of our armies.
He was very anxious for me to go and spend the night at Government
House."

"Why didn't you?" she asked idly.

He made some casual answer, but his sudden realisation of the truth
was a shock to him.  A celebrated French traveller was staying
there whom he was anxious to meet, and an English writer whose
works had interested him, yet the desire not to leave the ship was
paramount.  He frowned as he looked meditatively across the Bay to
the lights of Algeciras.

"I shall go to London if you wish me to," she announced abruptly.

"I imagined you would," he replied.  "Your mission, of course, will
be more personal than official, but at the same time I shall
entrust you with a message to the Prime Minister which I do not
care to send through our own representatives there.  We have three
days more to talk of that, though."

"I wish it were longer," she confessed.

"You do not regret having come, then?" he asked.

"I have never regretted it for an instant," she assured him.  "All
the same, to me this voyage seems to grow in unreality every day.
I can't really believe that I have left New York behind, that we
are here in European waters, and that I am working day by day with
you.  It doesn't seem part of my life--like something detached,
something which might have happened, but didn't."

She turned to catch a glimpse of an expression in his face which
startled her.  There had been moments lately when she had been
almost terrified of him.

"It has been an unusual experience for me," he admitted.  "I have
never worked with a woman before."

She suddenly laughed.  His way of alluding to their association
appealed to her sense of humour as she thought of the long nights
they had sat on deck, with the rushing of the wind around, the
leaning stars and the long golden pathway to the moon; of their
long talks and their long silences.  More than once, tragedy,
passing by, had lifted them out of the world of commonplace things
and forced them into a position of more than ordinary intimacy.
Was it his sense of honour, of guardianship, she wondered, which
had kept him always so aloof, or was it that she herself made no
appeal to him?  She had remained all the time perfectly natural,
had made no effort at any artificial reserve.  Vaguely she found
herself somewhat resenting his attitude.  Many of the men on board
had, in their own way, directly or indirectly, done their best to
intimate the fact that they found her attractive.  Samara had never
once even looked at her as though he recognised the desirability
which made other men hang round her chair and seek her company.  An
irresistible longing to evoke a more personal note in him assailed
her.

"You find it as easy to work with me as with a man?" she asked.

"I have never noticed the difference," he answered calmly.  "You
are very efficient."

Her lips relaxed and she smiled at him.

"I am a great deal nicer to look at than your other secretary," she
said reflectively.  "I do you more credit, too."

"In what way?"

"Poor Andrew Kroupki," she murmured.  "He looks half-starved and
very miserable.  I, on the other hand, look well fed and content.
No one would suspect you of ill-treating me."

"One does not choose a secretary for his personal appearance," he
remarked.

"Some men do, I am afraid," she replied.

He looked at her and she was not so sure of herself.  In the
darkness his face seemed more dominant than ever, his mouth almost
cruel in its strength.  Only his eyes were a little disturbing.

"You don't imagine that that sort of thing would appeal to me?" he
asked scornfully.

"I wonder what does appeal to you," she sighed.  "Evidently I
don't."

"How do you know that?" he demanded.

She shrugged her shoulders.

"How does a woman generally know?" she retorted.

She had an indefinable sense of disaster--or triumph.  She suddenly
felt the clasp of his arm around her waist, the touch of his
fingers upon her hair and cheek.  She had not before doubted her
ability to meet any situation which might arise, but in this moment
of trial she failed utterly and helplessly.  She was suddenly weak
in all her limbs.  She made not the slightest resistance to a thing
which had never yet happened to her, which she had never, for a
moment, contemplated.  His eyes seemed like fires, but softer--
softer every moment.  The cruel lines of his mouth, too, seemed to
have relaxed.  His lips touched hers firmly, yet softly, lingered
there whilst passion grew.  She was almost swooning in his arms.

He released her quite gently yet with a certain abruptness.  He
rose to his feet and stood looking down at her, massive,
unemotional, yet with some subtle air of the conqueror.  She
returned his gaze, helpless, her hands gripping the back of her
chair.  Her lips were still quivering.  It was not for her to know
that a new light in her eyes had suddenly made her more beautiful
than ever before.

"Mr. Samara!" she gasped.

"I am sorry," he answered, "but I am also glad!"

She heard his receding footsteps along the deck, saw him knock at
the door of the Captain's quarters, enter and disappear.  Below
there was still the subdued hubbub of the hucksters.  In a more
distant boat a swarthy Spanish woman was singing a love-song to the
music of a guitar.



Chapter XIV


An Englishman seated upon a divan in one of the lofty rooms of the
Salons Privés nudged on the arm his companion, newly arrived from
England.  He was by way of being showman and had been pointing out
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 modelled 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 some
one, collected his hat and cane in the cloakroom 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, however, 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 roulette rooms. An elderly man of
exceedingly aristocratic appearance moved eagerly towards him from one
of the little groups. Prince Frederick welcomed him with a sigh of
satisfaction.

"I have been looking everywhere for you, General," he declared.
"Come and tell me the news."

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 a 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.

"Last week," he confided, "I opened two flower shows, unveiled a
statue, opened a tennis tournament and played in it myself, took
the chair at the Flying Club dinner, and joined in the parade,
visited a new fencing academy and fenced the first bout, and
attended two commercial banquets.  Not so bad, considering that I
had to show up at the bank each day.  Lucky no one knows how little
work I really do there."

"It is not necessary for you to do any at all.  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
Lam 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 for 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 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 in the blood," he murmured.

"Tell me the latest news of this man Samara," the latter demanded a
little abruptly.

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 flying machines, we taught and equipped them
from conscript to general.  We constructed a mighty engine of
destruction ready for our use when the time came.  It suited the
old régime.  The soldier was the only man who could be sure of
regular food and comfortable living, and everyone 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 announces 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
recognised 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 formally
protest against any further demobilisation 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 favour of my mission was carried
unanimous."

"They say Samara is a great autocrat," Prince Frederick reflected.
"Supposing he takes high ground?"

His companion was silent.  He 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
amongst the army has already commenced."

A young man who had been standing upon the threshold, as though in
search of someone, suddenly recognised 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 Hôtel de Paris,"
he announced.  "Excellent!"

"Then, by dinner-time to-night," the Prince began slowly--

"By dinner-time to-night," the General interrupted, "I shall know
what is at the back of Samara's mind.  If he intends to play us
false--well, it will mean a complete reversal of our present
foreign policy.  It may lead to even greater changes than that."

A very beautiful and world-famous young woman looked in at the door
and, recognising 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 as well kept secret.  There are gossips amongst our
newspaper men, 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."

General von Hartsen played roulette for a time, took a stroll along
the terrace, watching the great American steamer which had just
arrived, and finally presented himself at the Hôtel 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 courtesy, 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 labours I have the honour to share, to the
Chairman of the Council of the Russian Republic."

Samara shrugged his shoulder 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 began--

"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 under 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 demobilisation of a portion of your
armies, and further to inquire what change of policy such a step is
meant to indicate.  I think I need not be more explicit."

"Not the slightest need of it," Samara acquiesced.  "Pray sit down.
Smoke a cigar if you will, and I'll tell you all about it.  I'll
tell you just what are my plans and hopes for the future of Russia,
and, incidentally, at the risk of shocking you, you shall learn my
exact views as to the establishment of what I term mercenary
armies."

The General's face grew a shade sterner.  He put back the cigar
which he had been in the act of clipping, and folded his arms.

"I am at your service, sir," he announced.



Chapter XV


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 recognise no obligations towards your country," was the brusque
reply.  "I have from the beginning warned you that it was my
intention at the earliest opportunity to rid myself of the great
armies which my misguided predecessors, aided by you, have brought
into being.  To have done so would have been my first action on
coming into power if it had been possible to have found the men
employment.  I have now made arrangements which will enable me to
put half-a-million men on the land and half-a-million into
industrial pursuits.  Demobilisation of the Third Army will
commence the day I return to Moscow."

"And what about the First and Second?" the General demanded.

"I shall follow suit with the Second almost at once," Samara
answered.  "I look upon a trained army as an incentive to
militarism, and I don't intend to maintain one.  Since you are here
I may as well inform you that my Government will issue a
proclamation before the end of next month, requiring all officers
of German nationality to resign their commissions and leave the
country.  A certain bonus will be allotted to them, but that will
be a matter of adjustment."

General von Hartsen found self-control an exceedingly difficult
matter.

"You recognise, 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 whilst England and France are upon the face of the 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 battlefield.
There was too much of that in nineteen-fifteen and sixteen."

"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.
Beyond that--nothing."

Von Hartsen rose to his feet.

"You realise, 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 demobilisation."

"They will wish for it fast enough when they see what I can 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 to-morrow."

The General bowed coldly to Catherine and to Samara without
extending his hand.

"I shall report the issue of our conversation to my Government, Mr.
Samara," he announced.  "They will probably make further
representations to you."

He took his leave.  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 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 the Police that inquiries are being made
in Moscow for suitable accommodation for pretty well the whole of
your Royalist friends.  Well, I told them that they should be
welcome back at Russia and they are welcome, but I want it to be
clearly understood that they must live and behave as ordinary
citizens.  They must recognise 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 o'clock, dined alone in the spacious salon attached to
Samara's suite, and was standing at the window gazing rather
longingly at the curving arc of lights along the Terrace, when
Samara himself 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 inquired.

"I have other affairs to attend to here and shall await your return
from London.  You will leave tomorrow morning, or rather midday."

"Do you wish to work now?" she asked.

"Don't be absurd," he scoffed.  "Who ever works on his first night
in Monte Carlo?  I wish to take you to the Casino and to the Club,
but you must be differently dressed."

"Indeed," she murmured with a smile.  "Well, you didn't give me
much chance to bring clothes along, did you?"

"You must be able to do something," he insisted impatiently.

"As a matter of fact," she confided, "I have bought a little black
frock this evening whilst I was wandering about.  It is very simple
and I don't know that it has come yet."

"Go and put it on," he directed, "and meet me here in half an
hour's time."

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 apologised?" he asked.

She laughed softly.

"Not quite that," she admitted.

"What then?" he demanded.

Her eyes mocked him inscrutably.

"What an ingénu 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 the
tables and play was for the moment impossible.  Catherine, serenely
beautiful, and with her intense curiosity concealed by the 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 recognise 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 recognises 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 recognised!  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 Catherine
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 an American?" he inquired.

"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 Hôtel 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 realised 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 Now York."

"This afternoon," Samara assented.

"You will do me the honour, perhaps," Prince Frederick continued,
"of presenting me to the young lady."

Samara acquiesced without comment.

"Prince Frederick of Wehrenzollern--Miss Borans of New York."

"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 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 should perhaps have mentioned the fact."



Chapter XVI


"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 you and me."

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 reminded 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 flirtatious
successes 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 suggested gruffly.

She laughed in derision.

"My dear master," she said, "there isn't a word or a 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 the criminals 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 travelling
dress, with a great bunch of the 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 labour 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, needed
brushing, his hair and chin needed the services of a barber.  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 her humming and looked at him critically.

"Were you late last night?" she inquired.

"Moderately.  I had a great many despatches to read."

"You had no bad news from Moscow?"

He shook his head.

"None at all.  Politically everything seems to be reasonably quiet.
It is from outside all the disturbance will come for some time.
Our own people have scarcely realised 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 trust in me," she reflected, as they
watched the approach of the train.

"There is no success in life possible for anyone 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."

He smiled.

"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
whilst 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 recognised them,
Samara's frown grew blacker.  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, 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 Hôtel de Paris on the preceding night:


Mademoiselle!

The roses which I shall send you to-morrow 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 my presumption!  It comes from a heart overfull!  I count
the minutes until I shall see you again!

Frederick.


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, whilst 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 watched with interest the unfamiliar landscape.
Presently, however, she yawned, closed her eyes and dozed.  She was
awakened by the soft opening of the door of her compartment.  She
sat up and recognised 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
to 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 that 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 steadily.  He was a personable young 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 inquired, "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 on
delicate 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 accustomed yourself to it.  Will you remember at
least that we do not meet as strangers?  I may claim the privileges
of a travelling companion?"

"I suppose there is nothing to prevent your doing that," she
acquiesced, "but I might point out that the remaining three seats
in this compartment have been engaged in my name."

"I shall leave according to your instructions, 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," he declared.

"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 déjeuner est servi, madame et monsieur."

Prince Frederick rose to his feet.

"You will at least do me the honour of lunching with me,
mademoiselle?" he begged.

"I think I may go so far without indiscretion," she assented.



Chapter XVII


Catherine's first impressions of England were delightful ones.  She
sat in the very comfortable armchair of a well-hung Pullman and
looked out upon a patchwork of tender greens, of woods bottomed
with bluebells, of 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 much 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.  "Why can you not be just a
little kinder?  What is there about me repugnant?"

"You're 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 hundredth 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.  I always thought those sort of 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 re-established 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 a 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 luggage.  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 travelling 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 realised 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
neighbourhood where she found a room reserved and a letter awaiting
her, the latter a formidable-looking document, in a large square
envelope, with a coat of arms at the back.  She tore it open and
read:


Downing Street,
April 21st.

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 to-morrow morning.

He asks me in the meantime to suggest that if by any chance the
nature of your mission, if any, 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 he 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 misunderstood 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 honour 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 museum-like appearance.  The young man 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 about
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 hall porter had called for her.

"Where to, madam?" the man asked.

"To the Houses 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 10, Downing Street, please," she told him.



Chapter XVIII


A very alert and polite young secretary, who had met Catherine in
the hall, took her at once into the presence of his Chief, Mr.
Philip 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 written 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 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 very heart of Russia.  It didn't seem possible for
anyone 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 the 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 amongst the militarists?" he
inquired.

"So far as the Third Army is concerned, the men are perfectly
willing to submit to disbandment," she replied.  "The officers are
mostly 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,
might I ask?"

She smiled.

"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?"

"Yes."

The Premier turned to some papers by his side.  Something in
Catherine's tone told him that, so far as she was concerned, that
subject was at an end.

"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 débacle.  There are many works and industries still
languishing which were started with English capital and upon which
he considers England still has a claim.  It is his wish to
demobilise as well as the Third also the whole of the Second Army.
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 inquired.

"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--"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, sir," she pointed out, "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 eyeglass 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, sir," 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 scale of information.  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 campaign of nineteen-fourteen--nineteen-twenty was
more disastrous to the allies who won it than to the German Empire
who lost it."

"Perfectly sound," Mr. Rossiter agreed.  "The trouble of it is we
have all learnt 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 up to a certain point," he declared.  "The German
Republic are 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 there is 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 amongst their peasants and bourgeoisie for monarchical
government.  So far as France and Russia are concerned, at any
rate, I think they are right.  The Frenchman is too easily swayed.
So long as he believes he is 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 so 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 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
internal Germany," he said.  "I quite agree with him that the
German Republic are 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
labour."

Catherine rose to her feet.  The Prime Minister followed suit.

"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."



Chapter XIX


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 exceedingly 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
behaviour 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 reminded
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 everybody.  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 inquired, "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."

She laughed.

"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 in 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
engaged by Mr. Samara from the Weltmore Hotel Secretarial Bureau,
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 standstill before the table
certainly 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 had 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 myself to make
you acquainted.  Which takes precedence, I wonder?  Such things are
a mystery to me in my station of 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 each other with very
natural curiosity.  Then Nicholas extended his hand.

"I should have recognised you by your pictures," he said.

"And I you by your likeness to your House," was the courteous
reply.  "I understood that you had 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 others
of 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 Miss
Borans, the private secretary of the Russian President," Frederick
replied eagerly.  "Her story is that she came from a typists'
office in New York."

Catherine shrugged her shoulders.  A faint smile flitted across her
lips.

"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 honour," he said, "to have made the acquaintance of
the Princess Catherine of Russia, hereditary Grand Duchess of
Urulsk.  The Princess, I may add, is my fiancée."

"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 proceedings
of this sort."

An angry light flashed for a moment in Nicholas' eyes.

"The young lady is a fellow-countrywoman and a great patriot," he
said.  "You remind me of my 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 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 this 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 wine-glass 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 to hope that
this might be possible.  Now I realise that it is.  It does not
matter about money.  I have plenty, and who knows, there may be a
great future for us."

She 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 colour
returned to his cheeks, even after the exercise.

"Are you not feeling well?" Catherine inquired, 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.



Chapter XX


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 Café 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."

Catherine nodded.

"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 upon the
table, cigar-ash upon the mantelpiece.  Suddenly, however, the
tolerance faded from her face.  On the table was a woman's glove.
An odour which she hated became more insistent--an odour 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
chamber-maid.  The woman smiled as she apologised.

"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 time.  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 alluded to only once 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 realise the
great forces which must eventually draw them apart, the grim
possibility that her association with him, 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 very 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 left.  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 authorised 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 inquired, "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 means well
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 realise 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
furious here.  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 evidences 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 invitation," she murmured, "almost
carries me off my feet."

"Don't be sarcastic," he replied.  "I want to talk to you."

"What about?"

He pointed to the glove.

"About that."

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 apéritifs 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 then?" 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."

She nodded.

"He came all the way to England entirely on my account," she
confided.  "Not only that, but I dined alone with him at Maridge'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, and 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, première 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 became
almost haughty.  She looked at her vis-à-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.

"No."

"Why not?"

"A ridiculous attack of sentimentality," he confessed.  "Just a
memory--a windy night, the boom of the sea, a moment of accursed
opportunity.  I wanted to kiss Olga Kansky--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 a 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
to-morrow.  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 recognise 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 his 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 buses were beginning to rumble up the hill.  A
young man passed, seated in a little carriage.  Catherine smiled.
She had recognised 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 gets some fun out of life!"

The conclusion of luncheon brought a pleasant surprise to
Catherine.  At the end of the Arcade a powerful 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 a 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 downwards 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 harbour there.  Marvellous,
of course, beautiful in its way, but with the slur of paganism
everywhere, the note of theatricality, from the gingerbread
structure of the temple of men's need 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.  Those gardens, for instance, to which
you pointed a little scornfully.  I worship their masses of colour
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 humour 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 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
kilometres 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 château, with close-drawn green shutters and a
familiar tower at either end.  It faced due south and one side was
covered with wistaria and drooping magenta bougainvilia.  Such
gardens as there had been had run riot, but there was still a
wealth of roses growing promiscuously with the olive trees and the
mimosa 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 Cagnes
itself, standing upon its pedestal of rock, unreal 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 ever
seen."

He smiled.

"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 half an 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."



Chapter XXI


On the afternoon of the day fixed for their departure Samara was
wandering aimlessly around and Catherine was screwing up her
typewriter in the sitting-room, 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 honour
of this visit?"

"My visit is to mademoiselle," the General announced.

Catherine looked up from her work a little unwillingly.

"To me?"

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 know 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 hearth-rug.  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 whilst 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 favourable hearing to my
mission," the General persisted, "you will not go to Russia at
all."

"A plot?" she inquired.

"Scarcely that," he protested.  "On behalf of my ward, Prince
Frederick of Wehrenzollern, I have the honour 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.  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 are
great things afoot in Europe.  It is not Prince Frederick's destiny
to remain for ever a banker in 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 assured her, "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."

"It is impossible to refuse," the General persisted.

"Nevertheless--"

He stopped her.

"Let me complete my mission," he begged.  "For the first time
Russia and Europe generally has 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 Tzar
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 can tell what might happen?"

Catherine smiled.

"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 no 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 decorous 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 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 realised
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 the 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's 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 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!"



Chapter XXII


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 downwards 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 back and
forth.  Occasionally a car passed down the middle of the guarded
way, greeted now and then with a faint murmur of applause.

"You would like to understand, perhaps," Von Hartsen said, "why I
have persuaded you to remain here till to-morrow morning's boat 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
the Reichstag."

Kirdorff nodded.

"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 sage 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 Mayer, 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 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 amongst 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 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 came a single open motor-car, in
which was seated a young man in uniform, alone.

"Frederick!" Nicholas exclaimed.  "What does he do here?"

"He was elected a deputy only a few weeks ago," Von Hartsen
explained.  "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 colour in Nicholas' cheeks.  The car passed
like a flash below and went on its way.  Every moment or so 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 once more 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 in Germany," he went on earnestly, "can come
also in Russia.  We are willing to help, but, like every one 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, 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 altrusim 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 of 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," Kirdorff reminded him.

"Naturally.  Germany is suffering from peace.  She needs war.  We
need your First and Second Armies before Samara can disband them."

Nicholas frowned.

"How can anyone 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, re-establish 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 neighbourhood.  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!"



BOOK TWO



Chapter I


Catherine paused for a moment in her task, listened, rose to her feet
and moved towards the window. She was in a plain official-looking
apartment, separated by a glass partition from many others upon the same
floor. She might really have been working in the American office of some
great mercantile undertaking. She was, as a matter of fact, on the top
storey of a building in a Square of Moscow, given over to the Foreign
Department of the Russian Government and entitled Government Buildings.
It was exactly fourteen months since she had arrived in Moscow from
Monte Carlo.

Down in the Square a great crowd of people had gathered, and
through them marched, still in fours, but without any attempt at
military discipline, a long line of men in ordinary civilian
clothes.  Here and there the spectators raised their hats; now and
then came a wave of applause.  As they passed the house at the
corner of the Square, which was Samara's official residence, many
of the marchers paused and looked upwards with something which was
equivalent to a salute.

Andrew Kroupki, on his way to his office, saw Catherine standing by
the window, hesitated for a moment, then entered and crossed the
room towards her.  He had recovered from his illness, but he had
still the air of an invalid; tall and thin, with sunken cheeks, a
mass of black hair--a typical visionary.  She greeted him with a
little nod.

"What does it mean, Andrew?" she asked.

Before he could reply, Bromley Pride had joined them, his keen,
clean-shaven face alight with interest, restless as ever, swinging
his tortoise-shell spectacles in his hand, apologising for his
cigar and pointing out of the window in the same moment.

"Pride knows more about it all than I do," Andrew declared.  "At
any rate he is more up-to-date.  I have been in Warsaw for three
weeks--three dreary weeks," he added, dropping his voice a little
and glancing appealingly at Catherine.

"Is it really so long?" she observed indifferently.  "Well, that
accounts for my having got a little behind the times.  I have had
your work to do as well as my own."

"I know all about these fellows," Pride declared, moving closer to
Catherine's side and pointing downwards.  "They are the last of
Russia's Third Army.  Yesterday they came up from barracks, marched
over to the other side of the city, left their uniforms, were
provided with civilian clothes, and now they are on their way to
their jobs, wherever they may be.  The last of a million men, Miss
Borans!  A wonderful piece of administration!"

Catherine, standing between the two men, watched the crowds with
interest.  There was a brief silence whilst they listened to the
tumult shouting and cheering.

"It's a fine view, this," Pride continued.  "It works in with the
stuff I am writing.  Do you know, Miss Borans, they sent me over
here to see whether Samara could pull this thing through--and he's
done it!  There isn't a statesman in our country or in Europe
either could have tackled the proposition.  It isn't much more than
a year since he issued the first notice and came over to New York
to borrow the money, and since then he's just taken a million men
from shiftless and unproductive idleness and got 'em all working
like bees in a hive.  If that isn't a triumph I'd like to meet one.
I'm going to shake hands with President Samara to-night and tell
him what I think of it."

"Are you going to the banquet?" Catherine inquired.

"I should say so!" was the emphatic reply.  "I wouldn't miss it for
anything.  I've heard most of our own great speakers and a good
many of the Englishmen, but Samara has them beaten to a frazzle.  I
guess he'll tell us to-night a few things that all Europe's waiting
to hear."

"And perhaps he will not," Andrew Kroupki observed drily.  "My
master tells the world too much.  He lays the cards too easily upon
the table.  It is magnificent, but sometimes it is not diplomacy."

"Please go, both of you," Catherine enjoined, turning reluctantly
away from the window and moving towards her desk.  "I have the
French President's speech in the Chamber last night to translate
for Mr. Samara and he wants it before this evening."

"Make me a copy," Pride begged.  "I've only seen extracts and my
French is ghastly."

"You journalists are much too lazy," she declared.  "You'll get it
all in English to-morrow."

"To-morrow's no good to me," Pride persisted.  "Slip another carbon
in your machine, Miss Borans.  It won't take you any longer.  I'll
wait till you've finished and we'll have a little dinner."

Catherine shook her head.

"Impossible," she regretted.  "You forget that I am now officially
recognised as Andrew's assistant in the position of private
secretary to Mr. Samara.  I couldn't possibly be seen dining with
an American journalist who is reputed to give pearl necklaces,
motorcars or millions for news."

"Bunkum!" he scoffed.  "You've got another date."

"That may be," Catherine sighed gently.  "I am much sought after.
I'll make you a copy of the speech, Mr. Pride, but you mustn't take
it as a precedent.  Andrew, please come in and see me before you
go.  I shall want you to take these notes to Mr. Samara."

Andrew made no direct reply beyond a little bow.  The two men left
the room together and paused for a moment in the main corridor of
the floor.  The journalist gazed around with an exclamation of
admiration.

"This is certainly a live place!" he pronounced.  "Might be a stock
operator's paradise in Chicago.  What's the kiosk at the far end
with the open roof and the funnel?"

"Office to receive and decode private wireless," Andrew explained.
"They are in direct communication with the Intelligence Department
on the floor below."

Pride gripped his companion by the arm tightly.

"Look here, young man," he said, "I expect you're wise to what I
want to know.  I've got to get my cable off in half-an-hour.  Those
Englishmen aren't over here again for nothing.  I want to give them
an idea on the other side as to whether the President is going to
speak about the Second Army to-night."

"You should have asked Miss Borans," Andrew replied, "she is
preparing his notes."

"I might as well have asked the sphinx," the other retorted
impatiently.  "That's the worst of a woman.  She doesn't think--she
obeys.  It can't matter a cent to any one whether I am in a
position to say that the President is going to talk about it or
that he isn't--but you can't get that young lady to understand."

"You've tried her then?"

Pride shrugged his shoulders.

"I did just mention it this afternoon," he admitted.  "Nothing
doing!"

"Nor with me," Andrew observed shortly.  "The Chief!" he exclaimed,
in an altered tone.  "If he speaks to you, you can ask him for
yourself."

The main door of the hall had been suddenly thrown open by Ivan
Rortz, admitting Samara.  Pride stood to attention respectfully,
hoping for a salutation, but Samara passed every one with
absolutely unseeing eyes.  At the far end of the broad passage was
a heavy oaken door.  This, too, Ivan, hurrying by his master,
opened, and Samara disappeared into his private room.  The American
looked a little disconcerted.

"No luck!" he grumbled.  "I'll have to wait until to-night.  For
the greatest democrat in the world," he went on ruefully, "Samara
is a perfect wonder at keeping us all just where he wants us."

"The Chief does everything his own way and it is a good way,"
Andrew declared.  "He would never be able to stir a yard if he
allowed every one to speak to him whenever they chose.  Any one
from any country in the world may obtain an audience with him in
due course, but no one may speak to him or even recognise him
without permission.  That is the only way he is able to move about
amongst us without trouble or hindrance.  You'll excuse me, Mr.
Pride.  I've some work which I must hurry on.  I did not know that
the Chief was expected here to-day."

There came a sudden flash in his eyes and he remained a moment
where he was, looking through the glass partition into Catherine's
office.  He saw her answer the telephone, replace the instrument,
pick up a note-book, and move towards the door.  He watched her
pass along the passage until she reached the door of the room which
Samara had entered.  Ivan, who was standing outside on guard,
admitted her without question.  All the time the American was
studying his companion.

"Say, Mr. Kroupki," he observed, "I sometimes wonder whether you
ever regret that month's illness of yours in New York."

It was a purposeful stroke, designed to bring about trouble of a
certain sort.  The young man's dark eyes were black pools of anger
now, his lips quivered.  Nevertheless he spoke in a subdued tone.

"It had to happen," he muttered.  "It will not last."

Without farewell Andrew Kroupki swung abruptly round and
disappeared into his office.  Pride stood for a moment looking
after him.  Then he, too, turned away and opened a door, over which
was printed in white letters:


                        SALON No. II.

    For Accredited Representatives of the Foreign Press.


"A tough job to get a pull here!" he soliloquised, throwing himself
into a comfortable chair and lighting a cigar.  "I've offered to
immortalise Samara or marry the girl.  There seems to be only
Andrew left.  What about Andrew, I wonder?"

Pride smoked steadily on, his eyes fixed upon the ceiling.  He was
face to face with the eternal problem of his profession.  His own
instinct had scented trouble and brought him to Moscow.  He was
perfectly convinced that there would be news enough and to spare
before many months had passed, but news which was shared with
rivals was to Bromley Pride no news at all.  Catherine was
hopeless, and Samara divulged only what he wished to be known.
Complete failure was a condition, the possibility of which he never
admitted.  There was still Andrew--Andrew, impervious to bribes,
impeccable at heart, but plunged suddenly into a maelstrom of
passion!

"Crazy about the girl and madly jealous of her at the same time,"
he reflected.  "Something should come of the combination!"



Chapter II


Samara, that afternoon, was for some reason excited.  He showed it
in the manner peculiar to him; his cheeks were a little paler, his
eyes seemed clearer and filled with sombre fire.  He sat upright in
his high-backed chair, his fingers drumming upon the table in front
of him.  He did not even light a cigarette, generally his first
action when he called at Government Buildings after leaving the
Duma.  The box stood by his side unnoticed.  All the time his
fingers tapped the table and his eyes asked Catherine questions.

She had paused upon the threshold after Ivan had closed the door
behind her.  Then she advanced a little farther into the room.
Finally, she stood almost by his side, her hand resting upon the
back of a chair.

"You sent for me," she reminded him.

"Yes," he answered.  "Sit down."

She resented his tone, as she frequently did, but in his present
mood, obedience from others seemed to become automatic and
inevitable.  She sat down and, after a moment or two spent in
turning over the pages of her notebook, looked up inquiringly.

"Tell me about your people over here?" he demanded.

"My people!" she murmured.

"Yes," he went on impatiently.  "The Grand Duchess Alexandrina
Sophia of Kossas, your much-to-be-esteemed aunt, and Kirdorff the
Muscovite, the self-elected champion of the young man who has left
off selling bonds in New York, and General Orenburg, the patriarch,
and those two others--the young man who was trying to make an
honest living selling automobiles, and his sister.  They are all
here, aren't they?"

"They are all here now," she admitted.  "You yourself gave them
permission to return.  Nicholas came first and the others have
followed him in relays."

"Where did they get the money from?"

"Count Sabaroff--I might, perhaps, call him Cyril, as he is my
cousin--is doing exceedingly well selling Ford cars," she
announced.  "His sister has started a milliner's shop."

Samara laughed shortly--not altogether pleasantly.

"A touch of Western democracy come to my capital," he observed.
"And the others?"

"Well," she hesitated, "I am not quite sure that I feel free to
discuss their financial position, even with you."

"Don't be foolish," he protested.  "They have become citizens of my
republic.  I have the right to know all I choose about them--I and
my ministers.  There is curiosity in certain quarters as to their
means of livelihood."

Catherine smiled at him.  She was silent for a moment, thinking
that she rather liked his appearance when he was inclined to be
angry; his mouth, hard and dominant, his eyes, with all their
kindness veiled, keen and insistent, his tone the tone of a ruler.

"I think I shall tell you," she decided.  "It may put you in a
better humour.  They are being financed by Mrs. Saxon J.
Bossington."

"What the devil do you mean?" he demanded.

"Well, it does sound rather extraordinary, doesn't it?" she
continued.  "Almost like the plot of a musical comedy.  There was a
wonderful Englishman who lived some years ago--Gilbert, his name
was--who would certainly have jumped at the idea.  Nevertheless it
is true.  Mrs. Bossington is one of those Western Americans,
rapidly becoming extinct, to whom a title is as the hallmark of
divinity.  She advanced the money for every one to come back to
Moscow and settle down here."

"On the chance, I suppose," he suggested swiftly, "that some day or
other they might, under more beneficent legislation, regain their
estates and be in a position to reward in courtly fashion their
generous benefactor."

"Rather high-flown," Catherine remarked, with a smile, "but still I
have no doubt that it is a very fair analysis of what is in the
back of Mrs. Bossington's mind.  So far as I am concerned, I am
glad that Andrew Kroupki's illness gave me an opportunity of
getting here without such aid.  I strongly disapprove of the manner
in which some of them--Nicholas Imanoff in particular--draw upon
the Bossington exchequer."

Samara stretched out his hand, took a cigarette from the box and
lit it.  It was, for him, a good sign.

"Listen," he said.  "I am one of those men who like to move down
the highway of life alone, but I am always open to the advice of my
counsellors, who speak to me freely whensoever they choose.  Only
this afternoon one of my ministers, just as I was leaving the Duma,
called me into his room.  He wished to consult me upon no less a
matter than you."

"That meddlesome policeman, I am sure," Catherine sighed.  "He
dislikes me immensely.  I had to take him over some reports for you
only last week, and he seemed shocked to think that I should have
been trusted to type them."

"General Trotsk is no fool," Samara pronounced.  "He pointed out to
me that having succeeded in crushing Communism, there was yet one
other danger--less a danger to-day, I believe, than a danger in
years to come--of which we must take account.  There is no
recognised imperialistic party at present, but I've a shrewd idea
that there's one in embryo.  Trotsk goes farther than that.  He
believes that the party is already in existence, working chiefly in
the great cities and amongst the army, and assisted by German
agents.  Incidentally he asked me frankly whether I thought I was
wise in having for my trusted secretary a young woman who was in
close association with the Imperial family of Russia."

"I think I do the work very well," she said.  "Did you explain that
you took me from the Weltmore Typewriting Agency?"

"I did.  Trotsk suspects that there was a design in your being sent
to me."

"Then Ivor Trotsk is wrong," Catherine declared firmly.  "I was
chosen entirely by accident and, to be quite candid, I at first
refused to come.  If you think," she went on, "that my family
associations, of which you know more than any one, render me unfit
to be your secretary, send me away.  Andrew Kroupki would be very
glad so far as the work is concerned."

"What do you mean by 'so far as the work is concerned'?" Samara
demanded.

She deliberated for a moment.

"I begin to think," she confessed, "that notwithstanding your stony
attitude towards me, I must be quite attractive to a number of male
human beings.  Andrew is very deeply in love with me.  I foresee
that I shall have great difficulty with him."

"Better tell him the truth about your identity," Samara advised
drily.  "That will cure him."

She shook her head.

"I am not at all sure that I wish him to be cured," she observed.
"Every well-brought-up girl expects to have at least one man in
love with her.  Did you send for me, Mr. Samara, merely to tell me
of Ivor Trotsk's suspicions, or is there any work I can do for
you?"

"I wish to call upon your aunt," Samara announced.  "My car is at
the door.  Show me the way, if you please, to where she is living."

Catherine was a little startled.

"My aunt will be honoured," she said.  "Do I understand that you
expect me to accompany you?"

"Yes," was the curt reply.

"Whilst I put my hat on," she suggested, "I wonder whether you
would care to see Bromley Pride for a moment.  He is aching for a
word with you."

"He can come in for three minutes," Samara assented.  "Do not keep
me longer.  Tell Ivan as you go out that he can be admitted."

Catherine left the room a little thoughtfully.  She knocked at the
glass panelling of the office where Pride was sitting.  He came out
at once, his cigar in his hand.

"I've earned that pearl necklace or whatever it was you hinted at,"
she told him.  "The Chief will see you for exactly three minutes.
Don't keep him any longer.  We're going out motoring together."

Pride laid down his cigar and moved eagerly away.

"Say, I'm awfully obliged, Miss Borans," he declared.  "See you
later."

He hurried off to the audience chamber.  Catherine moved towards
the telephone.

"What do you want, Pride?" Samara asked, as the journalist entered.
"Sit down, unless you can talk quicker standing.  You can stay for
exactly three minutes."

"Standing, please," was the prompt reply.  "I've been looking into
the streets.  I saw the last of a million soldiers go their way.
What about the others?"

"Read the report of the Peace Conference, Wednesday week," Samara
suggested.  "I am going to London to attend it."

"I want to know beforehand," the journalist rejoined eagerly.  "My
paper likes definite forecasts.  I see those two Englishmen are
over here again--Lord Edward Fields and Edgar Hammond.  It's their
third visit.  I guess there's something doing this time.  Can't you
put me wise, Samara, just a few hours before the others?  We want
to be in the know--not to make absolute statements, but to prophesy--
and then to be right."

"Excellent from the point of view of your paper," Samara observed
drily.  "It doesn't happen to suit me.  I can tell you nothing."

"Not a hint?" Pride persisted.

"Not a hint.  Understand from me now, please, that I have come to
the conclusion that it would not be in the interests of the Russian
Republic for word of our projected plans to become public property
until I give the signal.  That's final!"

Pride sighed.

"Nothing else for me?" he asked a little wistfully.

"My God, man, what do you want!" Samara demanded.  "Here you are,
most favoured of all correspondents in the world.  You have seen
to-day the passing of that first million.  Can't you write about that?
Isn't that dramatic enough for you?  A million fire-eating monsters
dissolved into thin air; a million sturdy, self-respecting Russian
peasants bending over their toil, earning food and dwelling and
clothes and savings for their womenkind and children!  Feet on the
earth, head to the skies--men, not puppets any longer!  Go and
write about it.  Finished!  Please tell Miss Borans to wait in her
office until I fetch her."

Samara waved his visitor away.  He never shook hands; seldom
indulged in the ordinary amenities which pass between men.  He
spoke for a moment on the telephone, frowned and laid down the
instrument.  Then he took up his hat and gloves, left his office
and, followed by Ivan, walked rapidly along the broad central
passage.  Catherine was waiting for him on the threshold of her own
apartment.  He motioned her impatiently to step back, entered and
closed the door behind him.

"To whom have you been telephoning?" he demanded.

She looked at him for a moment with immovable face.  Then she
smiled faintly.

"To my aunt," she replied.

"Why?"

"To tell her to be sure and see that there were hot cakes for tea,"
she confided.

"You think that I believe that?" he exclaimed.

"Why not?  It happens to be the truth."


Samara's manner to older women possessed a charm of which he
seldom, in his general intercourse with the other sex, gave any
indication.  His bow to the Grand Duchess was the bow of a
courtier; his few words of welcome were admirably spoken.  For the
first ten minutes no serious subject was mooted.  It was
Alexandrina herself who introduced another note.  She was suddenly
deeply and intensely in earnest.

"Mr. Samara," she said, "I should like you to know that in making
possible this return to my own country, you have given an elderly
woman the greatest happiness life could offer.  I recognise the
generosity of it.  I wish to pay my tribute to it.  It is not an
easy thing for me to say to you, but I do say it--I thank you."

Samara bowed gravely.

"Duchess," he pronounced, "it is one of the theories of my life
that every man and every woman, too, lives more naturally and to
the best account in his native land."

He paused for a moment, but was obviously about to continue, when
Colonel Kirdorff was announced, and immediately afterwards General
Orenburg.  They both welcomed Samara respectfully, but perhaps with
some measure of constraint.  A few minutes later the latter rose to
take his leave.

"My visit," he explained, turning a little towards the newcomers,
"was intended to be one of courtesy to Her Highness.  Since I have
been fortunate enough to find you, Colonel Kirdorff, and you,
General Orenburg, here together, let me make further use of it.  I
want to say that I am happy to welcome you back to Russia, and I am
glad if I have been able to make your coming possible.  So long as
you all pursue the lives of Russian citizens--you, General, and you
Colonel, in the army, and Your Highness as a Russian lady of
society--you will, I am sure, find no one to venture to interfere
with you.  But I rule, not for myself, but for my people, and I
tell you frankly that my espionage system is good.  If I wished, I
could not exclude you from its activities.  I desire, therefore, to
give you this warning.  If by any chance any one of you should be
discovered plotting against the State, the fact that I brought you
here would count for nothing.  If you enter into any conspiracy of
any sort you will be discovered and no representations to me would
be of the slightest avail.  I did not put you on your parole when I
asked you back.  I did not do so purposely.  I ask you even now for
no promises.  Live as you think well and shape your futures as you
choose, but even though mine has the name of being a humane
Government, it has no mercy upon those who plot against it."

There was a moment's silence.  No one seemed anxious to reply.
Samara, looking round at their expressionless faces, found his mind
wandering off to trifles.  He realised that the room was small and
overheated and the atmosphere heavy with the perfume of musk.
Alexandrina was wearing an unbecoming gown, but some wonderful old
jewellery.  The two men had changed since the New York days.
Kirdorff stood differently upon his feet, looked differently out of
his eyes.  The General seemed years younger.  As Samara watched
them, he was conscious that there was a mutual and silent
understanding between them all from which he was excluded.  He
glanced swiftly at Catherine.  She, too, was in it.  She was of
them--belonged to them.  He was a fool to hope even for her
fidelity!  In the end it was Alexandrina who spoke.  There was a
slight stiffness in her manner.  "One might conspire in New York,"
she remarked.

"In the salon of Mrs. Bossington, perhaps," he scoffed.  "Your
conspiracies there would very surely end in dreams, but to-day--
listen--there is a line which reaches even from this room, Madame
la Duchesse, to the Headquarters of the Second Army at Odensk.  I
think if I were you I would snap the line."

Again there was a tense silence in the little room.  The two men
stood like graven images.  Alexandrina had picked up a paper fan
and was wielding it mechanically.  Even Catherine seemed for a
moment to have lost her savoir faire.  With a curt little gesture
of farewell, Samara took his leave.



Chapter III


Bromley Pride and Andrew Kroupki dined together that evening in
the Savoy Grill Room--not the Savoy of the Strand, but the Savoy
of a certain street leading off one of the newly-developed
boulevards in Moscow.  It was a meal which distinctly lacked all
the characteristics of a festival.  No two personalities in all the
city could have been so ill-attuned.  Andrew was neurotic, almost
neurasthenic; distracted at the same time by his passion for
Catherine and his insane jealousy of her.  Bromley Pride, full of
vigorous common-sense, sane, healthy and indefatigable in his
profession, saw life as a confirmed materialist, desired only the
possible things, and had scant sympathy with the emotional wear and
tear to which his companion continually subjected himself.
Nevertheless they ate and drank together and made conversation up
to a certain point like any other two men brought together in the
daily affairs of life.

"One of the by-laws for which I suppose your President is
responsible," Pride remarked, tapping the menu which was printed in
Russian.

Andrew glanced at it and nodded.

"A reasonable edict," he declared.  "Any one who chooses may print
his wine list or menu in French, but it must also be printed in
Russian.  Why not?  We are in Moscow.  We like French food, we like
French wines, but we want to take them as Russians, not as French
people.  A nation may be adaptive and appreciative, but must not be
coalescent."

"I guess you're right," Pride admitted.  "Russia's a well-governed
country to-day--a country with a definite identity.  During the
last ten years you have broken loose from the greatest danger any
nation ever experienced.  You have shaken off German thraldom and
German influence."

"Without warfare, too," Andrew added eagerly.  "By just,
discriminating legislation.  The man who makes money in Russia, out
of Russian industries or Russian mineral wealth, must spend his
money here or face a different scale of taxation.  We have had
enough of foreigners tapping our supplies of wealth, drawing off
the profits and flitting to some other country."

"Does it ever occur to you," Pride remarked, "that you are
gradually making an enemy of Germany?"

"Better that," his companion retorted hotly, "than to be her tame
monkey, ready to pull the chestnuts out of the fire when she gave
the word.  That is what we were under the Communists.  Five years
more of their government and the Germans would have marched our
armies from Russia to the French frontier and not a soul could have
stopped them."

"And now," Pride observed, "it seems that you will very soon have
no armies to march anywhere."

"Why should we need armies?" Andrew demanded.  "Invasion of our
country is no longer to be feared.  The Peace Conference has tied
most of the nations of the world hand and foot.  Germany, through
her own cunning, remains outside, but what would it profit her to
cross our frontiers?  Where would she strike, at what, and with
what object?  The frontiers of France have been a brazen defiance
to Germany for fifty years.  All her coal-fields, her manufacturing
towns, her winegrowing districts are there, like Naboth's vineyard--
a stone's throw across the frontier for jealous eyes to gaze upon.
We have nothing like that to offer the invader.  A military
establishment for us is a farce."

"I heard Samara speak at Geneva," Pride remarked drily.

His companion was unmoved.

"I plagiarise, I know," he admitted.  "Why not?  Who can repeat the
words of a greater man?"

The restaurant was crowded; noisy with a babel of talk, blue-hung
with cigarette smoke.  In the distance a small orchestra was
drowned by the volume of conversation.  Most of the people were
Russian; here and there some Germans, an occasional Englishman, a
few Americans.  Newcomers were still arriving.  Pride was immensely
interested in the passing of a very distinguished-looking couple--a
short, dark young man and a young woman, a little taller, dressed
in black, with a black picture hat and ermine wrap, a very graceful
carriage, blue eyes with a roving tendency, and beautifully marked
eyebrows.

"Amazing!" the journalist murmured.  "I knew that young man in New
York--he was trying to sell Ford motor cars.  And the girl--why,
she was in a Fifth Avenue milliner's!  What on earth has brought
them to Moscow?"

Andrew smiled.

"They are part of the great comedy," he declared.  "They own names
as long as this menu.  They are aristocrats of the Russia which has
passed away.  Yet you are quite right.  The young man learnt the
automobile trade in New York and the girl, as you say, was a
milliner's assistant.  One must live!--even the children of those
who escaped from Russia with nothing but their lives."

"What I can't catch on to," Pride confessed, "is what has brought
them back to Russia?  How do they live?"

"They are back here at Samara's express invitation," Andrew
explained.  "A whole nest of Monarchists!  The President has
revoked all edicts of banishment except against anarchists.  He
maintains that every Russian is entitled to live in his own country
and air his own opinions."

"I guess he's right," the other acknowledged.  "They'll do no harm
and there are not madmen enough left in the world to preach Tzardom
here."

Andrew Kroupki shrugged his shoulders.  He drained half the
contents of his glass before he answered.

"How can one reckon on anything?" he demanded.  "Two generations of
education have scarcely altered the Russian peasant.  He is still
the same simple, faithful human being; seeking for something in the
world or heaven to lean against--a Tzar or a God or anything he can
believe in.  He isn't dangerous like the German mob because you
can't appeal to his intellect.  You can appeal only to his
instinct, and I am not so sure as I should like to be that his
instinct for Tzardom is dead.  There are many people, even members
of the Cabinet, who think that Samara is doing a rash thing in
interfering with the armies."

"Precisely why?" Pride asked.

"For fear he should disturb some smouldering bonfires of royalist
sentiment," Andrew answered.

Pride was inclined to be disputatious.

"A cause," he declared, "needs sinews; money, brains, enthusiasm.
Who is there in the world who possesses these things likely to
devote them to the overthrow of such a man as Samara or to placing
the country once more under its old yoke?  There's no real danger."

Andrew threw some money on the table and rose abruptly.

"Let us go to the Club, or a music-hall, or somewhere," he
proposed.  "The atmosphere of this place is stifling."

They left the restaurant and passed along the broad thoroughfare
thronged with human beings, hung with sky-signs, a marvel of
pulsating life.  It was a warm evening and the open-air cafés were
crowded.  From the wide-flung doors, as the two men sauntered
along, they heard the sound of music, occasionally the sharp,
pattering feet of the professional dancers.  Music-halls and
cinemas invited their patronage.  In the more dignified streets
through which they presently made their way, most of the larger
theatres were situated, every one of which seemed able to display
the warning notice: "House Full."  Pride paused at the corner and
looked back.  A new sky-sign, which was one of the wonders of the
world, was flashing hieroglyphics upon the clouds.

"I have just finished reading a book on Moscow during the third
year of the Communist rule," he confided.  "What a transformation!
Your Samara is a great man, Andrew Kroupki!"

"He is one of the world's greatest rulers," was the reverent reply.
"No one else could have drained the poison out of the country as he
has done and then filled her with new and vigorous life."

They stopped in front of the façade of a theatre.  Automobiles wore
still setting down late arrivals.  Pride glanced at the playbill.

"A French Comedy," he remarked, "of the type of Edmond About.  They
sent me a box this morning.  Shall we see it?"

Andrew Kroupki had been seeking for an excuse to break away from
his companion, but before he could find one, Pride had led the way
in.  A young man, dressed with such precision as to amount almost
to foppishness, was finishing a cigarette in the vestibule.  He
touched Andrew on the arm as he passed.

"I am forgotten, then?" he asked.  "We were at college together,
Andrew Kroupki.  We attended the same lectures afterwards."

"Ivor Molsky!" the latter exclaimed.  "I remember you quite well.
But I heard--"

He stopped short. The young man smiled. He was rather a
saturnine-looking person with an uncertain gleam in his eyes, and a
restlessness of manner at variance with his immaculate appearance.

"Well, well," he interrupted, "never mind what you heard.  I am not
so bad, Andrew.  I have often thought about you and our talks.  You
serve a great master."

"None greater on earth," was the fervent response.

His friend smiled with an air of tolerance.

"Gabriel Samara is a genius," he acknowledged, "but he is like the
others.  He is bound hand and foot, and the handkerchief is across
his eyes.  He has the will to go forward, but the way into the
light has not been shown him."

An attendant broke in upon their conversation and ushered Andrew
and his companion to a small box in the second tier, next to the
one presently occupied by Molsky.  The theatre was unusually full
and the performance was just beginning.  Andrew drew his chair
behind the curtains and sat a little gloomily in the background.
Pride, on the other hand, leaned over the ledge and surveyed the
house with interest.  Nearly every one was in evening dress.  It
was an audience distinguished not only for its apparent opulence,
but for other and more pleasing qualities.  Men and women were the
study of Pride's life.  He realised without effort to what class of
the community these people belonged.

"My God!" he exclaimed, in an undertone, to Andrew.  "Your Russia
is incredible!  Marvellous!  All over the world, even in Spain,
to-day, the money seems to have got into the wrong hands.  You find
the wrong people spending it.  This is the only country which seems
to be holding the balance and to be holding it without a court or
aristocracy.  These women with their pearls, and these men in their
very correct evening clothes, they are not of the bourgeoisie as we
used to understand the word.  They are intellectuals."

Andrew showed a momentary flicker of interest.

"It is the Chief," he said. "Our tabulated taxes are a model for the
world. Inherited wealth is taxed first, commercial next, brains last of
all. That accounts for what you see. Even in England forty years ago
they made ghastly blunders--taxed the brain-worker and the artist
equally with the war profiteer. Nothing of that here. Hence this
audience of which you approve."

The play proceeded; clever and well received.  During the interval
Andrew touched his companion on the arm.

"My prince of journalists," he murmured, a little satirically, "you
have studied this audience so carefully and yet you have failed to
notice the most interesting people here--the most interesting to
you at any rate with your journalistic instinct."

"I confess it," Pride acknowledged.  "I don't recognise a soul."

"In the box exactly opposite," his companion pointed out--"the man
with the grey moustache and the clean-shaven man.  It is--don't you
recognise them?  You must--one is Lord Edward Fields and the other
is Edgar Hammond, the man who they say will be the next British
Chancellor of the Exchequer.  They are members of the English
Commission over to settle finally the terms of this second British
loan--if it comes off."

Pride scrutinised the two men closely through the opera-glasses,
which he procured from an attendant.  He sighed as he laid them
down.

"If they had belonged to any other nationality in the world," he
said, "I'd have gone across and trusted to my luck to got a word
with them.  A Britisher on official business I simply daren't face.
Have they seen Samara yet?"

"Only unofficially," Andrew replied.  "They meet the Cabinet
to-morrow, and the Council in the afternoon."

"The Council is 'Samara,'" Pride remarked drily.

"And why not?" was the prompt retort.  "There is no brain in the
world like Samara's; no ruler like him.  What does he want with a
dozen inferiors, putting in their spoke?  The best thing you can
say of the Russian Cabinet is that it recognises a pedagogue."

The curtain went up once more and the play was resumed to the
interest and amusement of its audience, all unconscious of the
drama to come.  It was towards the end of the second act, in the
middle of a tense scene between the principal actor and actress,
that the amazing thing happened.  From the very next box to that
occupied by Pride and his companion, a man suddenly leaned out.
His knee seemed to be upon the ledge of the box, his arm thrown
back almost, as Pride said afterwards, with the action of an
American baseball pitcher.  His shrill cry rang through the house.

"To hell with the foreign capitalists!"

Something black, about the size of an orange, travelled in an arc
across the auditorium.  The two men watched it with fascinated
eyes.  It seemed to them that the Englishmen had plenty of time to
spring from their places.  They remained seated, however, utterly
unconscious of their peril.  A shout rang through the building.

"A bomb!  Beware!"

The missile appeared to pass a little above the box at which it was
aimed.  As it struck the wainscoting there was a flash which seemed
to shoot from the floor to the ceiling of the theatre, a roar and
trembling of the earth, the hiss of splintering wood, the dull
crash of chairs and woodwork scattered in every direction.  Pride
sprang to his feet.  Both men realised at the same moment that the
bomb had been thrown from the next box.  They dashed out.  The box
itself was empty, but, coming towards them, evidently headed in his
flight, was Molsky, the man who had been its occupant and their
neighbour.

The change in his appearance was astonishing.  The sallowness of
his face had turned to a distinct shade of yellow, his abundant
black hair was no longer smooth, but seemed to have been caught by
a tornado, his cynical lips had parted; nothing remained of the
almost meticulous precision of his toilet.  As he came towards
them, running with long, uneven footsteps, they could catch the
glint of his yellow teeth, almost like fangs, the wild, destroying
lust of his expression, filled, too, with a certain joy of the
turmoil and roar of his work of destruction.  On their right was an
open window from which there was only a short drop on to the leads.
It was obvious that he was making for it.  Pride stood directly in
his way.  The man screamed something, lowered his head a little,
but too late.  The American in his younger days had played
half-back at Harvard.  He was not a man to be passed.  The fugitive
seemed to realise the fact.  He steadied himself.

"Let me go!" he shrieked.  "This is not for you."  Then he met the
impact of Pride's fist and went down like a log.  In a moment they
were all upon him--attendants, police, and even members of the
audience.  It was simply a heap of passionate, furious humanity,
with little to be seen of the man underneath but a thin stream of
blood across the corridor.  In the box opposite one Englishman lay
dead and another apparently dying.


"It is a pity," Andrew Kroupki confessed, as the two men left the
theatre half an hour later.  "An event like this is nothing more or
less than a hideous anachronism.  It will put us back amongst the
nations a score of years."

"I shouldn't say that," Pride remonstrated.  "The man was a
fanatic.  They exist in every community."

The younger man shook his head faintly.

"We were students together," he declared, "and afterwards Molsky
became a professor at our premier university.  No one could ever
fathom what his political principles were.  He hated all forms of
what he called 'unauthorised rule' and he wrote some very clever
criticisms of Samara and his attitude towards Communism.  Yet the
Chief would never have him touched.  He called him his most
intelligent critic--read everything he wrote, would have argued
with him if he could."

"A man of education," Pride murmured.  "It seems incredible!"

"There is no man in the world," Andrew Kroupki pronounced
deliberately, "so brilliant in his way, so well-read and so
amazingly subtle as the modern anarchist.  He derived his first
nourishment from the brutalism of Lenin and Trotsky, was suckled on
Marx, and completed his education--God knows where!"

"What will be his end?"

"Simple enough," was the somewhat terrible reply.  "The Chief has
an enactment that any man found even handling a bomb is hung after
a drum-head trial.  If there is anything left of Molsky, he will be
hung before eight o'clock to-morrow morning."



Chapter IV


Andrew Kroupki's words were in a sense prophetic.  Molsky was hung
at dawn on the following morning, and a few days later a hundred
thousand Russians watched with bared heads the passing of the
English statesman's funeral.  Edgar Hammond was in hospital and
some hopes of his recovery had been held out.  The echoes of
Samara's passionate denunciation, both of the crime and of the
hideous code of thought from which it sprang, had reverberated not
only through the country, but through Europe.  The simple end of
his peroration was always remembered:

"If you wish to kill senselessly," he cried, "kill me.  I walk the
streets of Moscow day by day unprotected and unarmed.  I stand for
the things of which the man you have slain was only one link in the
chain--I stand for the things themselves.  Kill me and do not shame
the oldest of the Russian virtues--hospitality!"

That night Samara walked unattended, save by Ivan, from the Duma to
Government Buildings, and from Government Buildings to the
Presidential abode at the corner of the Square.  If any would-be
avenger of Molsky's shameful death had sought for his opportunity
it was certainly offered to him.  Samara, however, was unmolested.
Nevertheless, Ivan groaned as the postern gate leading into the
courtyard of his master's home swung to after them.  They had
walked in leisurely fashion, but the sweat stood out in dark beads
upon his forehead.

"It was folly, that, Master!" he exclaimed.  "On an ordinary day,
yes, but to-day, with Molsky's body still dangling from the gibbet,
there might be madmen abroad."

Samara paused to light one of his cigarettes.

"I expected it, Ivan," he acknowledged simply.  "Yet what can one
do?  When strangers are slain by our people one must face what may
come.  Bring me a brandy and mineral water into the library.  I am
beginning to be a coward."

His old housekeeper, imported from the south of Russia, a quaint
survival of mediævalism, with her black woollen gown, strange
head-dress and dialectic speech, met him in the hall.

"There is a woman, Master, who waits for you."

Samara's language, for a moment, though incomprehensible, was
violent.  The woman listened without change of countenance.

"This woman would not be denied," she continued.  "The Master will
understand when he sees her.  I tried to send her away, but it was
not possible."

Samara handed his coat and hat to Ivan and walked with slow
footsteps across the marble hallway into the great library which
was his official audience-chamber.  As he recognised the woman who
rose to meet him he gave a little exclamation of surprise.  There
were others who might have been there; he had never dreamed of this
visit from Catherine.

"I was at the Duma," she announced brusquely.  "I heard your
speech.  There was something which I felt I must say to you."

"Pray be seated," he begged.  "This is the first time you have
honoured my humble abode.  You must drink from my samovar and smoke
one of my cigarettes."

She was still in her working clothes; a little tired, apparently a
little dispirited.  She accepted the easy-chair he wheeled up for
her, drank her tea and lit a cigarette.

"I should not be here without orders, of course," she admitted, a
little abruptly.  "It's a terrible breach of etiquette, I know, but
sometimes I have no chance of speaking to you for days together,
and they tell me that you are going to London."

"London!" he repeated bitterly.  "London will probably have nothing
to do with me after last night.  They will say what is the good of
trying to help a country who cannot deal with her own madmen?"

"England is not like that," she answered gently.  "She certainly is
not to be intimidated.  They will grant the loan."

"What brought you here?" he demanded.  "You must have had a reason
for coming.  You must have something definite to say."

"Naturally," she assented.  "I had a definite object in coming to
you.  I wish to give up my work."

"To leave me?"

"Yes."

There was a brief silence--a silence not of indifference, but tense
in its way, and pregnant with much hidden emotion.  These two might
almost have been duellists pausing to measure each other's strength--
Samara, grim, almost forbidding-looking, with the drawing together
of his heavy eyebrows, an effective figure in his great oak chair,
with a background of dimly-seen tapestried walls; Catherine, more
beautiful than ever in her absolute listlessness.  Her skin was
clear, bordering upon fragility.  Her eyes were large and soft,
even if a little weary.  The simplicity of her gown detracted
nothing from the charm of her lithe figure.  There was a certain
abandon in her attitude of fatigue, full of attraction from its
almost animal-like naturalness.  She sat in a gentle pool of shaded
light, a subdued glimmer which brought out the flecks of gold in
her hair, slightly disarranged after her long day's work.  Into her
expression, as she met his steadfast gaze, there crept something of
the light of battle.

"It was to be expected," he admitted slowly.  "Your interests lie
elsewhere.  You wish to leave at once?"

"I draw my pay weekly," she said.  "You are entitled to a week's
notice.  Accept it, if you please."

"That is done," he assented.

"I will tell you," she went on, "why I choose to go.  You have
apparently lost your faith in me.  You have conceived suspicions of
my friends.  It is possible that these are justified.  I am only
partially in their confidence."

She paused.  He watched her steadily.

"Finish," he insisted.  "There is more, I suppose."

"To-morrow," she continued, "you have ordered Andrew to come here
for the day and send his machine.  He is a bad typist, a worse
stenographer, and he hates all form of dictation.  His work has
lain along different lines."

"Proceed, please," Samara invited.

"Andrew's duties," she pointed out, "have always been to act as
your representative at committee meetings of the Duma.  He is a
sort of go-between with you and your ministers.  He is the one
person who enjoys your complete confidence.  I do not complain, but
when I came with you from New York it was as your confidential
secretary.  I have become your typist.  Now that there is important
work to be done even that is taken from me.  I resign."

"You will throw in your lot with your family?" he asked with a
sneer.  "You will exist on the bounty of Mrs. Saxon J. Bossington?"

Her eyes flashed angrily.

"That is ungenerous," she exclaimed.  "I consider the position of
my aunt and some of her entourage as undignified in the extreme.
It is ungenerous of you, however, to remind me of it."

"Perhaps so," he admitted.  "As a matter of fact, I am angry.  I do
not wish to lose you."

"You are very gracious," she murmured.

Ivan entered, after ponderous knocking, and asked his master a
question.  Samara nodded.

"I dine here," he declared.  "Have dinner served for two, in an
hour's time."

"For two?" she repeated questioningly.

"You will dine with me," he said curtly.  "It shall be either our
farewell or--a celebration."

"A celebration of what?"

"Of a better understanding," he answered, with a faint softening of
those lines at the corners of his mouth.

She lazily removed her hat and smoothed out her hair.

"I shall dine with you as I am," she announced.  "I am untidy and
my head aches.  This mechanical work depresses and fatigues me.  I
should like to go home and put on a pretty frock, but I have not
the energy."

He seemed suddenly changed; infinitely more human, responsive to
her altered attitude.

"As you sit there--or should I say, recline?--it seems to me that
no change in your appearance could be for the better," he assured
her.

She glanced at him in half-pleased surprise.

"A compliment!" she exclaimed.

He shook his head.

"A compliment implies a certain deviation from the truth," he
observed.  "I meant what I said.  Now I will deal with your
complaint and offer you an explanation.  I have an important
document to draw up to-morrow.  I was proposing to take only Andrew
into my confidence for one reason, and one reason only.  Trotsk and
some others suspect you of imperialistic sympathies.  I, alone,
know the truth about you.  You are day by day subject to the
influence and persuasions of your family.  I do not consider it
fair upon you yourself that you should be in possession of
information which they would give their souls to acquire,
especially--"

She took advantage of his pause.

"It is for what comes after that 'especially' that I wait," she
told him.

"Especially," he concluded, "as you have not yet declared yourself
as between me and Nicholas Imanoff."

"I realise your problem," she admitted.  "I am glad that you have
been frank about it."

"Perhaps you have a pronouncement to make," he suggested.

"I wish I had," she replied.  "I can at least be truthful.  All my
life I have prayed for the return of Tzardom to this country.  That
I suppose is in my blood.  I have looked upon you with respect
because you delivered Russia from the yoke of the Bolshevists,
because you have evolved at least a sane form of republicanism, but
I have looked upon you at the same time as a stumbling-block in our
way."

"Your candour," he declared, "is most attractive.  Pray continue."

"I am trying to let you into the back of my mind," she went on
thoughtfully.  "I am a daughter of Tzardom and a belief in
monarchical government is in my blood, but I am also a daughter of
Russia.  Every spare minute since I returned here, I have devoted
to studying your system of government, seeking justification for
it.  I am not clever; I often wish I were.  I have not even a
knowledge of history to guide me.  Of one thing, however, I am
still convinced--that there is exceedingly little difference
between a beneficent Tzardom and the Government of to-day."

"Absurd!" he scoffed.  "The present Government of Russia is the
most democratic in the world."

"And the most autocratic," she retorted coolly.  "It is you who
rule Russia."

"By the mandate of the people," he reminded her.

"Nothing of the sort," she objected.  "The people elected a
republican government.  You travelled the country for a year.  You
hypnotised them.  They voted according to your decree.  What has
your Cabinet or even your Inner Council to do with the Government
of Russia?  Nothing!  You are an autocrat more supreme than any
Tzar who ever lived."

"I make no comment on what you say.  Whither does it lead?"

"To this," she replied.  "If Russia is to be ruled by one man why
not a Tzar?  The Royalists have learnt their lesson.  An Imanoff
has more right upon the throne than you."

"Nicholas Imanoff," he jeered.  "You would put him in my place!"

She was a little disconcerted, but she did her best to conceal the
fact.

"Nicholas would never assume such powers as you have done," she
replied.  "He would govern through his ministers.  If you remained
a patriotic Russian, you would probably be one of them."

"I am cheaper than a Tzar," he pointed out.  "I do not cost the
State even a modest million a year, nor do I--"

He broke off in his speech.  His housekeeper was standing upon the
threshold, gazing expectantly towards Catherine.

"My housekeeper will show you where to rearrange your hair, if you
really think that it needs it," he said courteously.  "With your
permission, I will not change my clothes.  Shall we meet here in
twenty minutes?  You shall tell me then whether I can qualify as a
bartender when the Royalists have driven me out of Russia!"

She made a little grimace over her shoulder as she left the room; a
quaintly human touch which seemed to lessen at once the strain of
their relations.  He stood with his fingers upon the bell,
listening to her departing footsteps.

The simplicity of Samara's life was typified in the dinner which was
presently served. The house itself was an old palace of the Grand Duke
Nicholas, sacked by the Bolshevists in nineteen-seventeen, occupied by
Lenin for some time during his stay in Moscow, and finally transformed
into the official dwelling-house of the Chairman of the Council,
sometimes called President of the Russian Republic. Little remained of
its former splendour, except its architectural proportions and the
tapestry-covered walls of the room in which they sat. Dinner was served
at one end of a long mahogany table, the greater part of which remained
uncovered. The only illumination in the room was that afforded by wax
candles. Ivan waited behind his master's chair, and a single manservant
was the other attendant. The dinner itself was plain, but excellent, the
champagne exceptional in quality.

"I am free to confess that I am no longer tired," Catherine
observed, as she sipped her wine.  "It is wonderful that you should
have been alone.  One fancies you always doing something official
at night."

"There was a banquet to the Englishmen," he told her.  "That had to
be cancelled, of course."

He turned and gave Ivan a few rapid orders.  The cloth disappeared
as though by magic.  Coffee, fruit and liqueurs alone were left
upon the table.  Even Ivan presently withdrew.  Catherine was
conscious of a little thrill--she scarcely knew whether of
excitement or apprehension--when she realised, not only that they
were alone, but that they were alone with certain things yet to be
said.

"So you want to leave me, Catherine Borans," he remarked.

He had pushed his chair around and crossed his legs, so that they were
almost side by side. The chairs themselves were relics of ancient
magnificence, with huge black oak backs and upholstered in worn
rose-coloured damask. Looking at him as he bent forward to light his
cigarette, Catherine felt herself compelled to half-reluctant
admiration. The wine which he had drunk freely had brought little more
than a faint flush of colour to his cheeks; his eyes were bright and
full of clean fire; his mouth, as usual, incomprehensible. She found
herself wondering what it would look like if ever he should by chance
speak tenderly.

"It is better that I leave you," she said, "since I no longer
possess your full confidence."

"Are you worthy of my full confidence?" he asked.

"So far I have never abused it," she answered.

"For that very reason," he admitted, "I owe you frankness.  You
shall continue to have it.  If you had studied history and
philosophy of government, you would understand the truth of what I
am going to tell you.  All the beneficent legislation of the world
is effected by moderate government, but a government, even though
it brings a country from the slough of despond to the fields of
paradise, cannot exist for ever.  The desire for change in an
electorate is an inevitable and ineradicable instinct.  Before many
years are gone by, I and my Government will disappear.  To which
extreme will Russia swing?  Back to communism-cum-anarchy, or in
the other direction towards a monarchy?  There is a fear of both.
That is why I, who theoretically hate all such things, keep up a
wonderful secret service.  I watch the anarchists and I watch your
friends.  Your friends, here at my invitation, are already
conspiring.  Both of the men to whom I gave posts in the army are
already at work with royalist propaganda.  Both of these are your
relatives.  For whom are you, Catherine Borans--for them or for
me?"

"I am a Monarchist," she said proudly, "but it does not follow that
I should betray your trust."

"The work which I have summoned Andrew Kroupki to do with me
to-morrow," he went on, "concerns the future of Russia's two remaining
armies, deals with the matter of the new conscriptions, and would
be full of the most amazing interest to your relatives.  They would
read my proclamations before they were issued and be prepared with
contra-propaganda.  They would also learn the means I am taking to
prevent serious trouble.  You still wish to do the work?"

"If I am to remain your secretary," she answered with a certain
unaccustomed doggedness.

"You will be here at nine o'clock to-morrow morning, then," he
directed.  "You will take a taxicab first to Government Buildings
and collect your machine, both code books, and instruct Peter
Tranchard, the head of the private printing department, to be
prepared for important work during the afternoon.  You will be
engaged here for the whole of the day.  May I take it now that your
notice is withdrawn?"

"If you wish," she answered a little wistfully.  "But are you sure
you still desire to keep me?  Other people, if they know who I was,
would feel the same as General Trotsk.  You would be considered
very indiscreet to have a secretary with such connections."

He poured himself out some liqueur brandy and held the glass
between his hands for a moment.

"Indiscreet," he repeated.  "Yes, there is indiscretion in keeping
you near me, Catherine Borans, but indiscretion of another sort."

She gave a little sigh of content.  Her eyes challenged him.

"This sounds more interesting," she murmured.  "Please go on."

"There is nothing further to tell you except this," he replied
coldly.  "The indiscretion consists in the fact that you are the
only woman whom I have ever met in my life who could keep my
thoughts turned away for a moment from the things that count.  A
coward would send you away.  You see I have faith in myself."

"More interesting than I had even dared to hope," she exclaimed.
"Have you never really cared seriously for any woman, then?"

"Never," he assured her fervently.  "You are the only one against
whom I have ever had to steel myself, the only one who has ever
made me feel that there are lonely hours in a man's life."

"You were feeling like that, I suppose," she observed quite calmly,
but with the ghost of a tremulous little smile at the corners of
her lips, "the night you kissed me on the steamer."

For a moment she was afraid.  She called back the challenge from
her eyes, but it was too late.  His arm was around her neck, his
lips pressed to hers.  She almost lost her senses in a wave of
turmoil, of impotent resistance to the torrent of passion which
surged about her.  The perfume of the roses which decorated the
table remained in her thoughts for years afterwards.  Just as she
had found his arm around her absolutely without warning, so, in the
same fashion, she saw him a moment or two later, leaning back in
his high-backed chair, gazing at her with steady but burning eyes.

"As your host, I have transgressed," he admitted, "but I have the
great excuse.  If you had been any other woman and I had been any
other man, I should have been your lover."

He lit a cigarette and smoked furiously.  Twice she opened her lips
and said nothing.  The third time she spoke.

"But you are Samara," she murmured, her eyes swimming in the
softness of incredible things, "and I am Princess Catherine of
Imanoff.  Well?"

He rose to his feet, almost with a bound, passed behind her chair,
and before she could imagine what he meant to do was standing on
the hearthrug, his finger pressed to the bell.  It was answered
almost immediately by Ivan.

"An automobile for Miss Borans," Samara ordered.

The man bowed low and departed, closing the door behind him.
Catherine looked across at her host, still standing upon the
hearthrug, and laughed softly.

"Dismissed," she sighed.

"Would you be willing to pay the price of staying!" he asked
bluntly.

The laughter passed from her face.  Some part of the wave of
emotion which had driven him from her side, suddenly surged up in
her.  Whether it was love or hate she scarcely knew, but for the
first time in her life she felt herself dominated.

"The President of the Russian Republic," he began hoarsely, "even
though it were his desire, could never--"

"Is it his desire?" she interrupted, with a sudden wild hatred of
those heavy footsteps in the hall.

The door was thrown open.  Ivan, tall and massive, stood to
attention.

"The automobile awaits," he announced.

"Not later than nine o'clock in the morning, if you please, Miss
Borans," Samara said, bowing his farewell.

She left the room slowly--the room which seemed strewn with
fragments of a dream.  She followed Ivan down the hall and nodded
good-night to him carelessly as she stepped into the automobile.
As she drove across the Square and came within hearing of the
night-hum of Moscow--a medley, it sounded to her, of strange music and
hurrying footsteps--she found herself suddenly thinking of Sadie
Loyes and the Hotel Weltmore Typewriting Bureau.  It was like an
ante-climax to her emotions.  She began to laugh softly.



Chapter V


Alexandrina breathed a sigh of relief.  She was entertaining an
unexpected visitor whom she had found a little difficult.

"At last!" she exclaimed, as Catherine entered.  "My dear child,
what extraordinary accident has detained you?  We have telephoned
to Government Buildings and every place we could think of.  You
have met General von Hartsen, I believe."

The General bowed low and raised Catherine's fingers to his lips.

"In Monte Carlo," he murmured.  "It gives me the greatest pleasure,
Princess, to renew our acquaintance."

Catherine glanced around the room, conscious of an acute sense of
mental fatigue, a desire for an impossible seclusion.  Kirdorff was
there and Cyril Sabaroff, the former in uniform, but if there had
been other guests, they had all departed.  She sank a little
wearily into an easy-chair.  She was the only one in morning dress
and she was sensible somehow of a complete lack of sympathy with
the little coterie gathered around her aunt's chair.

"I was working late," she explained with perverse candour, "and I
stayed to dine at Government House."

General von Hartsen was interested.

"Does your work, Princess," he inquired, "still lead you into
direct association with Gabriel Samara?"

"At times," Catherine admitted.  "I dined with him to-night.  I am
working with him at Government House to-morrow."

There was a moment's silence.

"At Government House," Kirdorff repeated thoughtfully.

Catherine nodded.  Her questioner moved a little nearer towards
her.

"Have you any idea as to the nature of the work?" he ventured.  "I
ask, because we have information--"

Alexandrina intervened with a wave of the hand.

"My dear Kirdorff," she complained, "you think of one thing, and
one thing only.  We admit your zeal, and we quite understand that
Catherine's intimate association with Government work just now may
prove of great benefit to our cause.  At the same time, we would
ask you to remember that General von Hartsen's mission is of the
first importance with us at the present moment."

"Has General von Hartsen a mission?" Catherine inquired, a little
flippantly.  "Tell me, General," she went on, "how is that very
hot-headed young charge of yours who followed me to London?  You will
have trouble with that young man when he grows up."

The General stiffened.

"Princess," he begged, "may I ask for your very serious attention
to what I have to say?"

"Frankly I could not promise it," was the somewhat unexpected
reply.  "I am very sleepy and my nerves are all tangled.  What
about to-morrow, General?  I feel, somehow or other, that to-morrow
I shall be a different person.  You are not hurrying away from
Moscow, I hope."

"That depends upon you, Princess," he answered gravely.  "My
mission is to lay a certain proposal before you."

"Not the same proposal as before, I trust!" Catherine exclaimed.

The General frowned.

"Princess," he said, "the circumstances and conditions under which
I now approach you are entirely different.  I asked you then to
accept in marriage the suit of a German nobleman of royal descent,
whose future was of no great account in the world.  To-day I am
here to beg for your hand in marriage to Prince Frederick of
Wehrenzollern who, I pledge you my word, before twelve months have
passed will be crowned Emperor of Germany."

"Matrimonially," Catherine murmured, "my destiny seems to lead me
to high places.  Have you not been informed, General, that I am
already as good as betrothed to Prince Nicholas of Imanoff, the
future Tzar of Russia?"

"It is upon that point that I desire to speak with you, Princess,"
was the earnest reply.  "We Germans, if I may say so, are in the
last lap of our struggle towards monarchy.  The people are only
waiting for a word and they will lift the roof off the Reichstag
with their cheering.  The present parliament is due to be dissolved
in two months' time.  The Government will then resign and not a
single other statesman will attempt to form a fresh one.  The
President, who is also resigning, will send for Prince Frederick.
He will make an announcement.  You may hear the roar of German
voices even to your frontier."

"Very interesting," Catherine admitted, "but do I understand that
the object of your mission here is seriously to revert to the
subject of a marriage between myself and Prince Frederick?"

"Dear and gracious young lady," Von Hartsen continued, "the matter
now rests upon an entirely different basis.  The road to monarchy
in Russia will be a long and arduous one in any case.  The aid of
Germany is the only thing which may shorten it by a span of years.
As Kaiserin of Germany you will be able to do more for the cause of
monarchy in this country than if you remain the betrothed of Prince
Nicholas of Imanoff."

"Plausible," Catherine agreed, "but scarcely convincing.  What has
Nicholas to say to this?"

"Prince Nicholas," Kirdorff intervened, stepping forward, "was
consulted before General von Hartsen left Berlin.  He is deeply
sensible of the potency of the General's arguments.  The Royalist
cause will gain nothing outside Russia by the intermarriage of
yourself and Prince Nicholas.  You will indeed be looked upon
doubtfully.  Marriage between first cousins here is not too popular--
especially after a decade of Soviet rule.  Your marriage with
Prince Frederick, on the other hand, would enable you to ensure the
return of the monarchy to this country.  Prince Frederick has
pledged his word to make this a charge upon his conscience, if you
should accept his offer."

Alexandrina, who had been watching her niece a little anxiously,
motioned her to her side.

"My dear," she said, "I am aware that this suggestion must have
taken you completely by surprise.  I quite appreciate the fact that
you have not had time to think seriously about Frederick as a
possible husband.  You would furthermore consider yourself bound in
honour to conclude your alliance with Nicholas.  Nicholas, however,
has had a very plain hint dropped to him.  He has signified his
intention to listen to reason."

"In other words, Nicholas is quite agreeable to the transfer,"
Catherine remarked.

"It is for the good of his country," Kirdorff reminded her.
"Nicholas is above all things a patriot."

"At the same time," Catherine pointed out, "this trafficking in my
affections seems a little sordid.  Nicholas, it appears, is content
to do without me.  I have, in other words, regained my liberty.  I
insist upon spending the night in that state.  To-morrow I will
interview General von Hartsen at the earliest possible moment."

Alexandrina turned towards the frowning ambassador with an
ingratiating smile.

"My niece's attitude appears to me to be correct, General," she
said.  "You must not be over-zealous on account of your young
master.  Lunch with us here to-morrow."

"Dine," Catherine put in softly.  "I shall be away all day."

"Dine with us here to-morrow night, then," the Grand Duchess
invited, "and my niece shall be prepared."

Von Hartsen rose a little unwillingly to his feet.

"I should have preferred to have telephoned favourable news at once
to my august young friend," he confessed.  "You will forgive my
pointing out once more that the position he is able to offer his
wife is absolutely and entirely unique.  However, I am at Her
Highness's disposition."

"I shall have made up my mind by dinner-time," Catherine promised
him.  "It really is quite an important matter to me, you know."

"It is of vast importance to all Europe," the General agreed.  "On
the other hand, I cannot imagine where hesitation could arise."

Catherine smiled cryptically.

"Perhaps not," she admitted, "but then you see you have to do with
a woman.  I am not sure that I should not find the Court life at
Berlin a little irksome."

"You, Princess," the General declared, "would be the Court.  It
would be for you to set its tone.  It is not for me to remind you
that the lives of people even in the highest places have their
relaxations at which even the historian can only guess."

He made his ceremonious farewells.  They all waited until the door
had closed behind him.  Then a buzz of conversation started.

"My dear," her aunt told Catherine confidentially, "Nicholas has
gone further in self-denial than we permitted General von Hartsen
to know.  He abnegates his personal wishes with joy.  A friendly
monarchy established at Berlin would assure our own triumph."

"There is not the slightest doubt that the German people are aching
for their Kaiser," Cyril Sabaroff observed.  "Frederick can
scarcely walk the streets in comfort nowadays."

"Every illustrated paper has his picture," the Grand Duchess added.
"You can read of his doings every day."

"And every newspaper has anecdotes about him," Kirdorff concluded.
"He is easily the most popular young man in Europe."

"I am very much flattered," Catherine pronounced, "and very sleepy.
To-morrow I will make up my mind whether I shall be Kaiserin of
Germany or Tzarina of Russia, or--"

There was a long pause.  Rosa Sabaroff at last interposed.

"Or what, Catherine?"

Catherine looked back from the door towards which she had made her
way.

"Or return to the Weltmore Typewriting Agency and my American
independence!"



Chapter VI


Catherine came face to face with Andrew Kroupki as she was leaving
her office in Government Buildings at an early hour on the
following morning.  He stood in the doorway, blocking her exit, and
his expression was menacing.  She realised at once that there was
to be trouble.

"One word with you, if you please, Miss Borans," he insisted.

She gave way and he closed the door behind him, confronting her
with a spot of angry colour burning in his cheeks, wild-eyed and
almost inarticulate.

"It is unbelievable!" he exclaimed.  "You must not go to the Chief
to-day!  Stay here and I will make your excuses."

"What do you mean, Andrew?" she asked coldly.  "I am directed to
report myself at Government House before nine o'clock.  Of course I
must go."

"You must have begged for the work," he continued, his tone
trembling with agitation.  "It is not right that you should have
it.  It is not safe.  It is a wicked thing!"

"Andrew, you are not yourself," she said gently, almost kindly.
"Surely you know that I must obey orders."

"Orders!  The Chief must be mad," he cried.  "A moment's
indiscretion with regard to to-day's work and a terrible situation
might arise.  You are not of us.  You are not for the people of
Russia.  You are for those who are already beginning to plot
against us."

"That is absurd," she told him.  "You must not talk to me so,
Andrew.  I have never yet failed in my trust wherever my sympathies
may have lain.  Besides, it is not for you to interfere.  It is
your master who speaks the word."

He shook for a moment, as though seized with an ague.

"You dined with him alone last night," he cried hysterically.
"What was the argument you used to bring him to folly?"

"I have been very patient with you, Andrew," she said, with a
warning flash in her eyes, "but I am reaching my limits.  Perhaps,
if you desire to preserve my esteem, you had better stand on one
side."

"I think," he sobbed, "that I would rather dig my fingers into your
white throat and wring the life out of you than let you go to
Samara to-day."

Sympathy once more chased the anger from her mind.  It was obvious
that he was unstrung, on the verge of a nervous breakdown.

"You are very foolish, Andrew," she declared.  "The work of to-day
is better done by me.  You are a very bad typist and you are very
slow with the new code.  It is natural that the Chief should send
for me.  There are many matters of graver importance, I am sure,
that he would leave in your hands."

Her kindness seemed only to throw fresh fuel on the fire of his
anger.  She suddenly realised that she was in actual physical
danger.  They were alone on the floor of the great building.  No
one arrived at the offices until nine o'clock, and the cleaners had
departed.  She moved a little towards the telephone, but he seemed
to apprehend her purpose and blocked her passage.

"It is false," he almost shouted.  "He has lost his head.  There is
nothing more vital to the State than the scheme which he is to
confide to you to-day.  He has lost his head!  You have bewitched
him as you have done me--Samara, to whom women have been but
playthings!--the idlest of all his diversions!"

"You are becoming absurd," she said quietly.  "Be so kind as to let
me pass."

He shook his clenched fists in the air.  His appearance was
veritably tragic.  Every moment he was more completely losing
control of himself.

"You must answer my question or I think that I shall kill you," he
gasped.  "You know very well what it is.  You could have saved me
this torture.  Is Samara your lover?"

Catherine looked at him steadfastly for a moment--looked at his
long, narrow face with its high cheekbones, his lips trembling like
a woman's, at his eyes from which all the kindly dreaminess had
gone.  It seemed to take her a few seconds to realise the actual
meaning of his words, but when she did, the strain of inherited
savagery, which had made for purity amongst the women of her race
and bravery amongst the men, leaped into fire in her veins.  Her
physical strength itself seemed to swell.  With her outstretched
hand, she struck Andrew Kroupki a blow on the side of the face with
such unexpected force that he staggered back half-dazed, blood
already commencing to trickle from the place where her ring had
bitten into his flesh.  Before he could recover himself she had
gone.  To his reeling senses the slam of the door, the click of her
heels upon the polished floor, were full of evil portent.

She made no excuses when she arrived at her destination, though
Samara was manifestly impatient.  Their meeting of the night before
seemed to belong to another world.  Never for a single moment, did
he depart from the role of exacting and conscientious employer.  He
did not even trouble to present to her Adolph Weirtz, the Semitic,
brilliant Minister of Finance, who was present, but plunged at once
into their work.  At eleven o'clock Weirtz left.  At one o'clock
her fingers began to stumble.  He looked at her sharply.

"What is the matter?" he asked curtly.  "Do you need luncheon?"

"I do not think that I need it any more than any one else would,"
she replied.  "Something of the sort is usual.  Probably you would
have noticed yourself that it is past one o'clock if you had
breakfasted at seven and if you had not had the resources of your
sideboard."

He suddenly and unexpectedly smiled.

"Touché," he confessed.  "I am a selfish brute."

He rang the bell and gave Ivan a brief order.  Then he crossed to
the sideboard, concocted a strange amber-coloured drink which he
forced upon her, and pushed cigarettes to her side.  He himself had
been smoking a huge pipe most of the morning.

"At four o'clock," he confided, "the other two members of the
Council will be here to approve.  So much for my autocracy which
you were talking about."

"And if they disapprove?" she asked.

"The proclamation will be issued just the same," he declared, with
a sudden note of belligerency in his tone.

She laughed quietly; a relaxation which a moment or two later he
found himself sharing.  Afterwards he became almost apologetic.

"The principle is already decided upon by the Cabinet," he
explained.  "There can be no objection to anything except detail,
and, so far as that is concerned, I am more likely to be right than
any of them.  You gathered that Weirtz was against the whole
thing?"

"I tried not to listen," she replied.  "I gathered that he was
disapproving."

"He looks upon the army as our sole refuge against two smouldering
factions of the community--the Royalists and the anarchists,"
Samara expounded.  "He agrees that the anarchist influence to-day
is negligible, but he has an absurdly exaggerated idea of the
significance of the royalist movement."

"So you admit that there is a royalist movement?" she asked him
curiously.

He shrugged his shoulders.

"Oh, I suppose so," he assented.  "They're making noise enough, at
any rate.  To return to Weirtz.  He thinks that the period of
interregnum between the disbanding of the armies and the
establishing of a citizen force will be a period of danger.  I
disagree with him.  The idleness of a standing army makes it a
constant menace; usually a hotbed of intrigue and conspiracy.
They're hard at it now down there.  They think I don't know, but I
do.  Your friend Kirdorff, a cold-blooded, brainy schemer;
Orenburg--less brains but more courage.  They took their commands
willingly enough and drew their pay, and began to plot the next day.
I've no great fancy for your friends, Catherine Borans."

She sighed.

"Why should you have?  They look at life differently.  They follow
other gods."

"Eat your luncheon," he invited, as soon as Ivan had finished
setting the table.  "We ought to start work again directly.  You
must have some of this goulash.  I never imagined I was hungry.
Ivan, some Rhine wine and tumblers.  Have you seen Andrew to-day?"

"I saw him at Government Buildings," she replied.  "He was very
angry and very rude."

"He doubts my wisdom in giving you this work," Samara confided.
"He is quite right from his point of view.  No one would do it
unless it were some one like myself, whose life is governed by
instinct and not reason."

She smiled.  "Andrew would never understand that."

"I am sorry for him," Samara declared abruptly.  "He is jealous of
you and at the same time he is in love with you--a painful
condition of mind for a highly-strung and extraordinarily
susceptible young man.

"Were you insensible to all human weaknesses when you were young?"
she asked.

"I?  Mother of God, no!" he answered carelessly.  "I had my fits of
weakness and I yielded to them, when I chose, but they never formed
part of my life.  They were the rest houses in the night.  They
helped one to draw breath for the morrow.  It is these romantic
youngsters who seek to weave their follies into the web of durable
things who are to be pitied.  Ivan, some coffee," he ordered.  "A
cigarette, Catherine Borans.  Now let us start.  I have a new
vision!"

At four o'clock Samara read the result of his day's work to Weirtz,
his Minister of Finance, to Argoff, the Minister for Home Affairs,
and to General Trotsk, the Chief of the Police.  In an inner room
Catherine sipped tea and listened.  From the beginning she was
conscious of the attitude of deferential opposition existing
amongst Samara's colleagues.  Argoff was the first spokesman.

"Sir," he said to Samara, "you have faithfully embodied in these
proclamations and directions the decision of the Cabinet as arrived
at last Thursday.  We three were in a hopeless minority then; we
are in a hopeless minority now.  I personally look upon the action
you propose to take as fraught with the greatest danger to the
future of the Republic."

"And you, Weirtz?" Samara asked.

"I agree with Argoff," was the unhesitating reply.  "The disbanding
of the Third Army was sound and brilliant legislation.  To go
further in the same direction would, I think, expose the country to
unnecessary dangers."

"What have you to say, General?" Samara concluded.

General Trotsk--a thin, grey man, with the face of a sphinx--was in
reality the most discomposed of the three, although he did not
betray it.

"Gabriel Samara," he said, "before you came into power there were
those who called you a visionary.  You have silenced your critics
in the establishment of what might well become the greatest
republic in the world's history.  I beg you to beware lest one
single mistake should bring to naught all that you have done."

"Aye, and more than that," Weirtz put in, "plunge this country once
more into the throes of rebellion and disorder.  To all
appearance," he went on, "Russia is to-day a contented and happy
nation, yet under the surface, as I very well know, there is
discontent and grumbling, because it is human nature that this
should be so amongst the worthless, the quixotes, the criminals.
There is always fuel for a burning brand.  Frankly, my agent's
report from Odenak is that the great mass of the Second Army do not
desire demobilisation.  A civilian life does not appeal to them.
They like their uniform, the routine of their daily life, the
freedom from all personal anxieties and responsibilities.  They do
not doubt your beneficent schemes for their welfare, but they
prefer to remain soldiers.  It is this feeling which is making them
ready listeners to the propaganda which is going on amongst them."

"The love of military life," Samara pronounced, "is an unnatural
affection.  The sooner it is stamped out the better."

"Theoretically very right," Weirtz agreed, "but practically there
are difficulties.  Can even you, Gabriel Samara, force a million
men out of a life which is dear to them, into a new and untried
career?"

"Nonsense," was the impatient reply.  "Half of them were peasant
agriculturists in their youth, with land to till and a homestead
to look after.  They will soon find themselves.  Besides, you
and I, General, should know that the Russian soldier is never
insubordinate.  He will obey orders.  There will be nothing else
left for him to do.  On the day these proclamations are posted,
every ammunition dump in the camp will be blown up, and their
bayonets withdrawn.  It will be simply a million unarmed men,
pouring through the great clearing-house which will be ready for
them next month at the rate of thirty thousand a day."

"It is to my mind," General Trotsk declared, "a most rash and
hazardous experiment."

"Where is the hazard?" Samara demanded.  "The First Army is within
a day's march of the city, fully equipped and fully armed.  But far
be it from me to suggest such a thing as a conflict.  Their mere
existence would prevent it."

"There is yet another danger," General Trotsk pointed out.
"Supposing word of this projected destruction of their ammunition
were to reach the army; it would be easy enough for them to guard
against it."

"Such a supposition infers the presence of a traitor amongst us,"
Samara argued.  "Not another breathing soul knows my plans.  Peter
Transhard, who controls the private printing-press of the Home
Office, you yourself would vouch for, Argoff.  Not one of his
compositors can read, but, as in the case of the proclamation
addressed to the Poles two years ago, these men are locked up in
quarters for a week after their work is done."

"There is your secretary," Weirtz suggested bluntly.

"I will answer for her," Samara promised, with a flash in his eyes.
"I admit the need for secrecy.  It is because of it that I dealt
with this measure before the Cabinet instead of the General
Assembly.  You have no reason to doubt the loyalty of the First
Army, General?"

"There is some disquiet," Trotsk admitted.  "I have only this
morning caused seventy of my men to be enrolled in the ranks."

"The plot to re-establish Soviet conditions," Weirtz remarked, "was
never, I think, a serious one.  I suspect that the plotting, such
as it is to-day, emanates from a different source."

"Royalist?" Samara inquired.

"Royalist, beyond a doubt," Trotsk affirmed.  "The Russian of
to-day hates the very sound of the word 'Bolshevist' or 'Anarchist.'
It is the reactionary swing of the pendulum which is to be feared.
It is my firm belief that there are a million more Royalists in the
country to-day than anyone imagines."

Samara laughed confidently.

"There may be amazing surprises in store for us in this world," he
said, "but I do not think that Nicholas Imanoff, bond seller of New
York, will ever be crowned Tzar of Russia.  You have read the
proclamations, my friends.  Apart from the fact that you are not in
entire sympathy with me and with the majority of the Cabinet as to
the policy of which they are the outcome, you have no criticism to
make?"

"I have none except those I made before the Cabinet," Adolph Weirtz
declared.  "I maintain that as it seems to be the wish of the
Cabinet that the Second Army should be disbanded, it should be done
gradually--a hundred thousand a year, the men to be selected by
lot."

"Too slow," Samara observed brusquely.  "Anything else?"

"I propose," Trotsk said, "that you, sir, visit the district
personally, address the soldiers, and study their disposition.  I
have reports from my subordinates every day which I find
disquieting."

"That I have decided to do," Samara assented.  "And you, Argoff?"

"I have but one suggestion to make," was the prompt reply.  "Burn
your morning's work, Mr. President, and expunge the decree from the
archives of the Cabinet.  You are trifling with destiny."

"Every reformer the world has ever known," Samara answered
deliberately, "has sat at the table of chance." . . .

Samara drew back the curtains of the inner room as soon as he was
alone.  Catherine came quietly forward to meet him.

"Well?" he asked.  "You heard everything?"

"Everything!"

"What is your opinion?"

She shrugged her shoulders.

"I am twenty-five years old," she said.  "Twenty-three years of my
life have been spent in New York.  I am a Russian only by instinct.
I have yet to learn the temper of my people."

"Never mind your lack of experience.  Answer me from that
instinct."

She acquiesced unwillingly.

"You have made Russia a great and prosperous country," she said.
"You have succeeded in reducing her army by a million men.  I do
not see why you take this further risk."

"Sophist," he growled.  "Instinct only.  I insist."

She shrugged her shoulders.

"Yesterday," she confided, "I looked upon the Royalist cause in
Russia as a forlorn thing.  Tomorrow, if you persist, I shall begin
to wonder what it would feel like to marry Nicholas and be Tzarina
of all the Russians."


Samara seemed afflicted by a curious fit of lethargy after
Catherine's departure.  He sat in his great, bare room till the
twilight filled it with shadows; until, in fact, he was disturbed
by stealthy footsteps behind his chair.  He turned abruptly round.
A tall, gaunt figure was standing before the safe.  Samara, after a
second's scrutiny, withdrew his hand from the butt of the pistol
towards which it had sprung.

"Andrew!" he exclaimed.  "What the devil are you doing here?"

The young man faced him.  Even in the gloom of the apartment the
wound on his cheek was clearly visible.

"I was restless, Master," he said.  "I entered by the side gate.  I
have come to ask a favour."

"What is it, and what has happened to you?" Samara demanded.

"I have met with an accident," was the dreary confession.
"Something very terrible has happened.  I cannot breathe here in
Moscow.  I must get away."

"Go on."

"We were to start for London on Monday.  Let me go by the early
morning boat and wait for you there.  There are things to be done
before you arrive.  I can see to them."

"What have you been doing to yourself?" Samara asked, looking at
the scar upon his face.

"An accident has happened," Andrew replied.  "A very terrible
accident!  I must get away at once.  Give me permission to go to
England, please."

"Is this because Catherine Borans has been working for me to-day?"
Samara inquired bluntly.

Andrew shivered.  He had winced at the sound of her name as though
some one had struck him with a whip.

"I have no more feeling of that sort," he groaned.  "It is
finished.  I simply want to get away."

Samara wrote a few lines upon a sheet of foolscap and passed them
over.

"Very well," he assented.  "There is your order, and the name of
the hotel where you will stay when you reach London.  If all goes
well I shall follow you on Thursday."

"Aye, on Thursday," Andrew muttered.

Samara glanced at him curiously.

"Have you seen your doctor lately, Andrew?" he inquired.

The young man laughed bitterly.

"I am ill," he acknowledged, "but no doctor can cure me."

Samara indulged in a moment's deliberation.  Distinctly something
had happened.

"Are you sure that you are fit to travel?" he asked.

"If I stay here for another day, I shall shoot myself or some one
else.  Better let me go.  I am of no use to anyone just now.  I
could not work.  I could not be trusted.  Let me go, please."

"You are talking foolishly, Andrew," his master declared.  "I have
trusted you with the secrets of my life.  You could not betray me
if you would.  There is something beneath all this.  Why not give
me your confidence?"

"It is too late," Andrew groaned, shuffling towards the door.

Samara stopped him with an imperative monosyllable.

"Andrew," he asked, "is it a woman who has done this?  Well, I see
it is.  I am going to use the surgeon's knife.  Never in this world
could Catherine Borans be anything to you."

The young man's face for a moment was like the face of a devil.

"Blast you, don't I know it?" he cried.  "Don't I know whose woman
she is?  That's why I'm getting away--why I choose hell rather than
stay here!"

For once his master's call was disobeyed.  The slam of the door
echoed through the huge, half-empty house.  Samara's few seconds of
spellbound agitation were all the start Andrew needed.  He was
gone!



Chapter VII


Catherine, standing that evening in a corner of her aunt's little
salon, with Nicholas in close attendance, watched, with a
disquietude which she found it hard to conceal, the continual
stream of visitors pouring all the time through the open doors.
Alexandria's first "At Home" six months ago had resulted in the
visit of less than a dozen rather shabby, melancholy men and
women, who seemed like the ghosts of their own unhappy pasts.
Conversation had been almost pathetic and had consisted principally
of reminiscences.  They spoke of the great families which formed
the connecting links between them, of the branches which had died
out, of others whose members were scattered all over the world.
 To-day the memory of that first gathering seemed like a dream.  There
were at least a hundred and fifty visitors in the small suite of
rooms, and more arriving all the time.  The people, themselves,
were different.  There was an air of subdued interest, almost
excitement, in their demeanour, a new spring in their walk, and a note
of suppressed jubilance in many fragments of smothered conversation.
Kirdorff was there in brilliant regimentals, surrounded by a little
group of eager but cautious questioners. The names of the men and women
who came and went so freely recalled all the splendours of a St.
Petersburg Court of fifty years ago. Nicholas played with the hilt of
his sword and stroked his incipient moustache with an almost fatuous air
of self-satisfaction. Nearly every newcomer, after paying his or her
respects to their hostess, came to address a few words to him. The
presence of Mrs. Saxon J. Bossington, in a dress of magenta velvet with
a hat to match, her neck and arms ablaze with jewels, and a priceless
ermine stole about her shoulders, seemed the only discordant feature,
and even she, through sheer magnificence, presented a striking
appearance.

"I wonder if all this is wise," Catherine murmured to her cousin.

He smiled condescendingly.

"You are afraid that it might offend your friend, Samara?" he
observed with a superior smile.

"Thanks to whom you are no longer selling bonds in New York," she
retorted sharply.  "As it happens, I was not thinking of Mr.
Samara.  Is not full-dress uniform now against the laws of the
country?"

"It may be," he admitted.  "We shall soon make our own laws.  Since
that man's name has been mentioned, Catherine," he went on, "I have
a word to say to you.  The time has arrived when you should cease
to be his secretary."

"Why?" she inquired.

He stared at her, as though astonished at her lack of comprehension.

"In the beginning," he explained, "your position was naturally of
great benefit to us.  Those times are passing.  When one thinks of
the future, it will not do for people to be able to look back and
remember the time when you were his paid assistant."

"You seem quite sure that I am going to marry you," she remarked.
"Is this because I have sent General von Hartsen back to Berlin?"

"Not at all," he answered confidently.  "It is your destiny to be
Tzarina of all the Russias.  The other scheme was absurd."

"It seems almost a pity," she sighed, "that I was brought up in New
York."

"Why?" he asked.

"One gets so foolishly democratic," she replied.  "As a royal wooer
I think I rather preferred Frederick.  He quite lost his head about
me."

Nicholas laughed scornfully.

"Frederick was a little premature," he observed.  "Things may not
move so quickly in Germany as he imagines.  Tell me about General
von Hartsen and his ridiculous mission.  How did he take your
refusal of his proposal?"

"Badly," she answered.  "He left before dinner was half over to
catch the night boat to Berlin."

"The worst of these Germans," he sneered, in a self-satisfied
manner.  "As soon as they are thwarted they lose their tempers."

Mrs. Bossington sailed up to them and Nicholas promptly made his
escape.

"My dear," she exclaimed, "it's good to see some one who knew me in
New York, where we were somebody!  I am getting quite confused with
all these Princesses and Duchesses and Grand Duchesses, and they
tell me that, after all, even if Saxon does buy the whole of the
Ardenburg estate--dozens and dozens of square miles, my dear--he
will only be a Count!"

"Well, that should do for a start," Catherine declared, smiling.
"As a matter of fact," she went on, "if I were you, I wouldn't talk
about it too much.  I think my aunt and Nicholas and all of them
here have rather lost their heads.  To discuss such things openly,
to speak of the future as we continually do, is treason to-day."

"You don't think there's any doubt about this thing coming off?"
Mrs. Bossington asked anxiously.

"I prefer not to discuss it," Catherine replied.  "I even go
further.  I think that it is in bad taste to speak of it as
blatantly as my people are doing.  After all, we are here on
sufferance."

"You came on sufferance, perhaps," Mrs. Bossington amended, "but
you should hear what Colonel Kirdorff has to say about the army.
Your friend Mr. Samara has been making himself pretty unpopular."

"The army is still not Russia," Catherine reminded her.

Mrs. Bossington smiled cryptically.

"I don't know whether you are aware," she remarked, dropping her
voice a little, "that I was admitted to the last meeting of Colonel
Kirdorff's secret council.  There were delegates from the southern
provinces, from Petrograd, and I don't know how many places.  They
all seemed to agree that the peasants, at any rate, and the lower
bourgeoisie all want their Tzar back again.  As for the army, there
is scarcely an officer who isn't a Royalist, since the Germans got
the sack, and the soldiers themselves are all furious against
Samara because of this talk of disbandment.  Saxon's no slouch, my
dear, as you know, and he declares the whole thing's a cinch, as
long as it's managed on a business footing.  I want him to take an
interest in politics.  A man with a business head like his would be
worth having anywhere.  If he were Finance Minister, for instance,
he might easily be made a Prince."

"I must go and talk to my aunt," Catherine said abruptly.  "I quite
realise all that you have done for my family and my friends, Mrs.
Bossington, and I hope that some day you may be rewarded for it,
but I earnestly advise you not to talk so openly of your hopes."

She crossed the room towards where her aunt was seated, the centre
of an animated little group.  She was on the point of being
surrounded herself when two new guests were announced.  As though
of a purpose, the major-domo who stood at the doors raised his
voice as he spoke the names:

"General Trotsk--Captain Irdron."

The babel of conversation ceased as though by magic.  It was amidst
almost a complete silence that the two men, both clad in the plain
dark uniform of the State Police, approached Alexandrina.  The
General saluted, as he came to a standstill before the hostess of
the little assembly.  Everybody seemed to recognise the sombre,
almost menacing note which their arrival had introduced.

"Madame," he said, "I have taken the liberty of paying you a visit.
I beg leave to present my aide-de-camp, Captain Irdron."

Alexandrina acknowledged the salute of her two visitors a little
stiffly.

"You are very welcome, General," she replied.  "I do not remember,
however, that your name is upon my visiting-list."

"Madame," was the somewhat curt retort, "by virtue of my office
under the Republic, my name is upon any visiting-list where I
choose to place it.  We will, since you prefer it, consider my
visit official."

He saluted again and, turning deliberately away, murmured a word or
two to his companion, who appeared to be taking notes of the names
of some of those present.  He exchanged a few cold words with
Catherine.

"You find time occasionally, then, mademoiselle, to attend social
functions," he remarked.

"One has one's family duties," Catherine rejoined with faint irony.

The General turned on his heel.  The silence in the room remained
unbroken.  Every one was curious, a little agitated.  The Minister
of Police approached Kirdorff, who was talking to Nicholas.  His
expression was grim and official.  The atmosphere of the salon
became tense.

"Sir," he said, addressing Kirdorff, "I have to inform you that you
are wearing a uniform which is contrary to the regulations of the
Republican Government of Russia."

"In what respects is it at fault?" Kirdorff inquired.

"In every respect, sir," Trotsk answered harshly.  "The uniforms
worn by the officers in the Republican Army are supplied by
Commissariat Department C.  You are wearing a full-dress uniform of
the monarchical army, abolished by law in nineteen-nineteen.  Your
name, sir!" he asked, turning to Nicholas.

"Nicholas Imanoff," was the contemptuous reply.  "I was not aware
that a policeman had anything to do with the uniform of the army."

The smile of the Minister of Police was gentle, almost urbane.

"Naturally you are ignorant of Russia and its military
regulations," he murmured.  "You have, I think, lived all your life
in New York and been engaged in other pursuits.  You will report at
the War Office, to the Chief of the Staff, within a quarter of an
hour.  He will give you further instructions."

Kirdorff laid his hand on Nicholas' shoulder in time to check an
angry retort.

"By what authority, sir, do you of the police," he demanded, "issue
orders to officers in the Russian Army?"

The Minister smiled.

"Your long absence from the country, sir, is your only excuse for
such a question," he declared.  "I represent the supreme power in
the country--the Armies of the Service of the State.  You can obey
my orders voluntarily or, in five minutes, under escort."

There was a brief pause.  Kirdorff turned away, bowed low and
raised his hostess's fingers to his lips.

"Madame," he whispered, "we do well to bend.  Nothing must prevent
my being able to rejoin the army."

"I have confidence in you, Colonel," she assured him.  The two men
left the room.  As soon as he was sure of their absence, the Chief
of the Police himself saluted Alexandrina.

"Madame," he said, "I regret to have interrupted your social
gathering and to have deprived you of doubtless honoured guests.  I
shall now take my departure.  For the present," he added, "it is
sufficient for me to remind you that in this city you are the
guests of the Russian Republic."

"I am a Russian citizeness," Alexandrina answered, with a touch of
hauteur in her tone; "my opinions and my actions are a matter for
my own conscience."

The Grand Duchess had at least the triumph of the last word, for
her visitor made no reply.  He left the room followed by his
attendant.  There was a little gasp as the door was closed behind
them, a silence broken by old Prince Dromidor, eighty-seven years
of age, back from his little villa at Kensington, after thirty
years' absence from his country, to pay his respects to the
returned refugees.

"It is the beginning," he cried.  "They have shown their fear."

Mrs. Saxon J. Bossington laid her hand upon Catherine's arm.

"My dear," she said impressively, "let me put you wise to one
thing.  I've lived in New York and I know.  Don't let your aunt get
in wrong with the police.  What was he, an inspector or an
assistant commissioner?"

Catherine smiled.

"As a matter of fact," she confided, "he is a Cabinet Minister.  He
is one of the three who, with Mr. Samara, rule Russia."

"Really!" Mrs. Bossington murmured, with some chagrin.  "And I
never met him!"



Chapter VIII


Samara greeted Catherine with a grin of delight when, in response
to his telephone summons, she appeared at Government House on the
following morning.  General Trotsk's report had appealed immensely
to his sense of humour.

"So your aunt is giving Royalist tea-parties," he remarked, "and
your relatives are sporting the uniforms of the Imperial Guard.
Were you there when the fun began?"

"I was there," she admitted.  "I didn't think it very funny."

"You are quite right," he confessed.  "It is not funny.  It is
pathetic.  These people have lived in the past so long that they
have taught themselves to believe in its reincarnation.  All the
same, your aunt seems to have been behaving very badly."

Catherine shrugged her shoulders.

"Is there any reason why she should not entertain her old friends?"
she inquired.

"Not the slightest," Samara agreed.  "I should not have interfered
in a thousand years.  Trotsk takes himself too seriously.  He
speaks already of the Royalist movement--as though there could be
such a thing."

"General Trotsk may err too much in one direction," Catherine
observed.  "As an impartial looker-on, I should say that you erred
too much in another."

"Are you an impartial looker-on?" he asked quickly.  "Trotsk will
have it that you are one of the gang."

"I am a Royalist at heart, of course," she acknowledged, "but I am
not a conspirator."

"What have you been doing to Andrew Kroupki?" he asked abruptly.

"Quarrelled with him, more or less," she replied.  "As a matter of
fact, the quarrel was not of my seeking.  He insulted me the other
morning."

"Is it true that you knocked him down?"

"Perfectly," Catherine admitted.  "I was delighted to find how
strong I was."

Samara looked at her gravely.

"It is a terrible thing," he declared, "for a man to strike a
woman, although she often deserves it.  For a woman to strike a man
is a tragedy.  What was his offence?"

Catherine had seated herself at her table a few yards away.  She
swung round and faced her questioner.

"He asked me if you were my lover," she said coolly.

"A very natural question," he remarked, taking up a pile of letters
and beginning to look them through.  "Was that your only
provocation?"

She turned away, opened her desk, and drew out her work.

"I have always understood," she reflected, "that the standard of
morals amongst the educated portion of the Russian bourgeoisie was
exceedingly low."

"Meaning me?" he asked cheerfully.

"Yes."

"The cap, alas, does not fit," he assured her.  "I have no
pretensions to rank amongst the bourgeoisie.  I am of peasant
stock."

"You do not surprise me," she replied.

He rose to his feet and set into operation the machinery which
unlocked the great private safe.  In a minute or two he appeared
with a roll of manuscript.

"Please get on with this manifesto," he begged.  "You are at your
best this morning.  It would be a pity to waste such intelligence."

She took the papers.

"I should like to know what has become of Andrew," she said.

"He has gone to London as my advance-agent.  I do not think that he
will ever come back--unless you leave me.  Of course," he went on,
"if this little tea-party scheme of your aunt's comes off, you are
booked for the part of Tzarina, I suppose."

"There is always that hope," she admitted.

"Heaven preserve me from another woman secretary!" he exclaimed.
"One never gets the last word."

Catherine was studiously silent.  Samara waited for a moment or
two.  Then he left the room, slamming the door violently.  It was
an hour before he returned, and when he did he closed the door
behind him and locked it.  Catherine looked up questioningly.

"What is that for?" she asked.

"So that you don't leave me before I am ready for you to go," he
answered.  "Also to make sure that we are not interrupted."

"It seems a little absurd," she complained.  "I have no idea of
going until I have finished my work."

"How long will that take you?"

"Another half an hour."

"Finish it, then," he directed.  "Afterwards I have something to
say to you."

She continued her task.  Samara studied a handful of the documents
which he had brought back with him, signing some and throwing
others on one side.  Once or twice he spoke on the telephone.
Finally Catherine turned towards him.

"I have finished," she announced.  "Will you check my transcription?"

"Presently," he acquiesced.

"You had something to say to me," she reminded him.

"I had.  I find that, after all, old Trotsk wasn't such an idiot.
There is a genuine monarchist plot afoot."

She sat watching him, without faltering, with no sign of
self-consciousness.

"Started in your aunt's drawing-room, without a doubt," he went on,
"subscribed to and joined in by all that shabby down-at-heel crew I
brought home from a second-rate American boarding-house, making its
way in the army, they tell me--especially the Second Army.  Do you
know that I have to postpone my journey to England and go down to
Odensk to harangue these recalcitrant subjects.  That's the result
of trying to make good Russians of men like Kirdorff and Orenburg.
What do they care about Russia?  It's their blasted selves they
think of."

"They have a right to their convictions," she rejoined.

"And I have a right to have them shot," he answered.  "They've been
guilty of treason against the State.  Trotsk has just given me a
copy of Kirdorff's speeches to the Fourth Army Corps.  He should
have been tried by court-martial and shot a few months ago.  I hate
to kill fools, but something must be done.  Trotsk would have the
whole lot out of the country or facing the firing line in ten
minutes, and I am not sure that he isn't right.  Advise me, Miss
Secretary.  What am I to do with this nest of vipers?  Not much
poison about them, but enough to hurt, Trotsk says.  Tell me how to
deal with them."

"Too great a responsibility for me," she replied.

"What if I were to shoot Nicholas Imanoff, or banish him?" he
suggested.  "There isn't another Imanoff amongst them.  They can't
make a Tzar out of an ordinary person, can they--even an
aristocrat?"

"There is me," she remarked meditatively.  "I am an Imanoff.  They
might make me Tzarina and permit me to choose my consort."

"You had a predecessor," he reminded her scornfully.  "A pretty
mess you'd make of things!"

"That would depend upon my consort," she replied.  "I might choose
you.  How would you like that?"

He stood like a statue, looking at her across the bare, lofty room.
She was not near enough to see the knuckles whiten about his
clenched fists, or to catch the fugitive gleam of something unusual
in his hard, brilliant eyes.  She noticed with surprise, however,
the slight break in his voice.

"Curse you, can't you ever be serious?" he exclaimed.  "I've a good
mind to throw the lot of them into prison."

"I should only intercede on behalf of my aunt," Catherine assured
him.  "She is really quite a dear old thing, but Tzardom to her is
very much like his Bible to an English Methodist."

The private telephone on Samara's table rang.  He picked up the
receiver and listened for a moment or two, frowning.  Then he
nodded and laid it down.

"Your friends," he said, turning to Catherine, "are beginning to
annoy me.  Trotsk is outside with an amazing story.  You had better
stop and listen to what he has to say."

General Trotsk was ushered in shortly afterwards.  He entered the
room and saluted, looking grimmer than ever.

"Sir," he announced, "I have a report to make."

The visitor indicated Catherine with a little wave of the hand.
Samara only smiled.

"I should prefer you to speak before Miss Borans," he said.  "I
have a certain amount of confidence in her, but apart from that,
she is in a way responsible for my ever having invited this nest of
conspirators over here."

"Miss Borans may yet find, then, that her responsibility is a heavy
one," General Trotsk declared, with portentous coldness.  "I have
already reported, sir," he continued, "that I found Colonel
Kirdorff and Lieutenant Nicholas Imanoff attending a private
function yesterday, wearing the uniform of the late Imperial Army.
I ordered them to report at once at the War Office.  It has come to
my knowledge that they failed to do so.  They left the city
instead, travelling by motor-car in the direction of Odensk."

Samara nodded.

"Well," he remarked, "I suppose you did not allow them to get very
far?"

"They were arrested by my orders at Miltou," the General went on,
"and were brought back to the city under escort.  I am here to ask
your instructions, sir.  The Minister of War is at Odensk, as is
also General Denkers, commanding the Second Army."

Samara glanced at his watch.

"Bring them here at three o'clock," he directed.  "I will deal with
this matter summarily."

The Minister of Police saluted.

"I have your permission, sir, to speak frankly?" he asked.

"By all means," Samara replied.  "You can discard officialdom
altogether if you will.  Light a cigarette and speak to me as my
trusted Minister."

The Minister of Police made no movement toward the box of
cigarettes which Samara proffered.  Catherine was watching him from
across the room with fascinated eyes.  There was something inhuman
about this man's slow, deliberate speech, his waxen complexion, his
lack of all earnestness; something sinister about the cold
detachment of his voice.

"My reports as to the condition of the morale of the Second Army
are unsatisfactory," he declared.  "These two men in their persons
and by their precepts have broken the laws of Russia and are
largely responsible for the disaffection.  I recommend that under
Section Seven of the Military Discipline Act they be shot this
afternoon.  It is possible that such action will avert grave
results."

"I shall bear what you say seriously in mind, General," Samara
promised.

The Minister of Police saluted stiffly and withdrew.  Samara waited
until the door was closed behind him.

"You heard Trotsk's suggestions," he observed, turning to
Catherine.  "It seems to me that your chances of wearing that crown
are slipping away."



Chapter IX


Samara broke through precedent that afternoon.  He consented to
receive a visitor who came without an appointment.  Alexandrina,
her good-humoured face wrinkled with anxiety, her clothes badly
arranged, and out of breath already with the exertion of climbing
the long flight of steps and crossing the great stone hall of
Government House, was ushered into his presence.  Nothing of the
grande dame remained but her manner.

"I owe you my thanks for receiving me, Mr. Samara," she said, as he
rose to greet her.  "Will you allow me to sit down?  I am out of
breath.  I remember your house and that flight of steps when it was
the palace of my cousin, the Grand Duke Cyril.  In those days,
however, steps meant nothing to me."

Samara placed a chair for her with grave courtesy and returned to
his own seat.  He preserved his somewhat ominous demeanour.

"I have been trying to find my niece," Alexandrina continued.  "At
Government Buildings they would not admit me.  I thought, perhaps,
that she might be here."

"She will arrive in half an hour," Samara confided.  "She is now at
Government Buildings, finishing some work for me.  If you would
care to wait for her here, my housekeeper shall show you a salon
where you may be comfortable."

"Thank you very much," was the grateful reply, "but since I am
fortunate enough to have your ear for a moment, I will tell you my
mission.  I came to ask Catherine to intercede with you on behalf
of my hot-headed nephew and Colonel Kirdorff."

"On what grounds, madame?" Samara asked.

"Nicholas is young and he is an Imanoff," she said.  "This is his
Russia by the grace of God.  How can he be expected to yield to the
discipline of an artificial constitution?"

A slight smile played about Samara's lips.  This was greater
candour than he had expected.

"Madame," he reminded her, "I did myself the honour of paying you a
visit a few weeks ago.  Rumours of the activities of your friends
had reached me.  I offered you then a warning.  You had accepted
the hospitality of the Republican Government of Russia.  In
plotting against it, you or any other were guilty of a dishonourable
action."

"Mr. Samara," Alexandrina said simply, "I cannot argue with you.  I
live by my convictions.  You are without doubt a great statesman
and you have been a great benefactor to this country.  I appeal to
you only as a man.  I beg that you will not treat Nicholas'
misdemeanour too seriously."

"I have heard you, madame," Samara replied.  "I can make you no
promise.  I am the servant of the State."

The Grand Duchess rose to her feet.  Samara's face was like stone.
She knew very well that further speech was useless.

"At least," she concluded, "I thank you for receiving me.  I read
in New York, and I have been told here, that your régime in this
country is one of mercy.  I shall pray for your forbearance, sir,
and for you, if you extend it to my nephew."

She left the room, escorted by Ivan, and without further word from
Samara.  He sat in his chair for a time, thoughtfully studying the
mass of papers by which he was surrounded.  Presently Catherine
entered, carrying her despatch-box.  She came straight over to his
desk.

"The work is finished," she announced.  "You will remember that
Andrew is not here.  Do you wish me to communicate with the Chief
of the Ministerial Printing-Press?"

"Presently," he answered.  "Lock the despatch-box in the safe."

"I do not understand the mechanism," she reminded him.

He rose to his feet and began to demonstrate it.  She suddenly
seized his arm.

"Why do you trust me like this?" she expostulated.  "You seem surer
of me than I am of myself."

"I must trust some one," he observed.  "Andrew was the only other
person who knew the secret, and he is not available."

"But why me?" she protested.  "You know that there are reasons why
you should not."

"I trust or distrust by instinct only," he replied.  "I govern in
the same way."

"Then you make a gamble of life and government," she declared.
"Sooner or later the crash will come."

"Meanwhile, watch me," he directed.  "The combinations you will
have to learn . . . ."

Presently the telephone-bell rang.  He took down the receiver and
his face hardened as he listened.

"In ten minutes," he decided.

Catherine turned towards the door.  He called her back.

"Have you nothing further to say to me?" he asked.

"Nothing," she answered.

"You know that your aunt has been here?"

"I have been told so," she admitted.  "I can add nothing to what
she has probably already said."

"Your personality might have more weight," he suggested.

She shrugged her shoulders.

"Put it in the scale, then, by all means," she enjoined.

"In plain words," he persisted, "you are too proud to ask a favour
of me."

"I know you too well," she assured him.  "You will do what you
choose, what you think fit and right.  Nothing that I or anybody
else in the world could say would make any difference."

Her hand was upon the door.  Again he called her back.

"I desire you to remain during my interview with your friends," he
said.  "They will be here almost immediately."

"Why should I be present?" she asked coldly.

"So that you may know the truth without perversion.  Go to your
desk in the alcove.  You can hear there but you will be invisible."

She still hesitated.

"I have every instinct towards insubordination," she told him.

"Conquer them," he insisted.  "I may need you to bear witness for
me in the future."

She had scarcely reached her alcove before General Trotsk was
ushered in.  Kirdorff and Nicholas Imanoff followed, wearing
military greatcoats buttoned to their throats.  Behind came a guard
of two soldiers with fixed bayonets.  The Minister of Police
saluted.

"According to your instructions, sir," he announced.

Samara seated himself at his desk.  Kirdorff and Imanoff stood
opposite to him; on either side of them a soldier, the Minister of
Police, immovable and grave, a few feet away.

"Boris Kirdorff and Nicholas Imanoff," Samara began, "less than
twelve months ago you accepted my offer to return to this country
and become Russian citizens.  I gave you both posts in the
Republican Army.  I told you that I was prepared to view your
monarchical principles with toleration.  Every one in this country
has a right to his own opinions and has a right also to ventilate
them.  So far as you could influence people openly and honourably,
by lectures and literature, you were at liberty to do so.  You have
ignored the honourable means of propaganda.  You have stooped not
only to underground conspiracy, but to conspiracy with a foreign
power.  You have made use of your position in the army to initiate
a seditious plot amongst the soldiers of the State, directed
against this Republic.  Do you require evidence?  I can give it to
you."

"I desire no evidence," Kirdoff replied.  "It is quite true that I
have endeavoured to awaken the people of Russia to a sense of what
is due to themselves and their natural ruler."

"And I," Nicholas added, "being by descent and the Grace of God,
Tzar of all the Russias, can be guilty of treason to no one."

"A very comfortable self-assurance," Samara remarked with a faint
sneer.  "To proceed to a minor point.  You were discovered
yesterday wearing a uniform which is contrary to the regulations of
the army in which you serve."

"So long as there is a Russian army," Nicholas argued, "so long
must there be a regiment of Imperial Guards."

"An entire fallacy," Samara assured him.  "To continue.  You were
directed by the Chief of Police to report at the War Office.  You
failed to do so."

"We are only subject to military discipline," Kirdorff observed.

"You display a shameless ignorance of existing conditions," Samara
said sternly.  "The Chief of Police ranks as a Major-General in the
army.  To disobey his orders amounts to gross insubordination, the
penalty for which you know."

"On a technical point," Kirdorff admitted, "we appear to be guilty.
I have never in my experience connected any part of the civil
administration with the army."

"It should be your duty to learn the regulations of the army whose
uniform you wear and whose pay you draw," Samara reminded them
coldly.  "You are both, on your own showing, guilty of military
insubordination and treason against the Army of the Republic.  The
penalty for both offences is death."

"I demand to be tried by court-martial," Kirdorff exclaimed.

"And I," Nicholas echoed.

"Again your ignorance of the regulations amazes me," Samara
declared.  "I am the Commander-in-Chief of the Russian Republican
Army.  I and General Trotsk form an ever-existing court-martial,
empowered to deal summarily with any cases which we direct to be
brought before us."

For the first time both men lost confidence.  Nicholas' air of
somewhat fatuous bravado had disappeared and he was tugging
nervously at his moustache.  Kirdorff was obviously taken aback.

"Your republic, then," he ventured, "is a more autocratic
institution than any monarchy which I remember."

"Your criticism may be just, but it is irrelevant," Samara
observed.  "We are a competent tribunal; your offences are
acknowledged.  The penalty is beyond dispute.  Have you anything
further to say as to why this sentence should not be carried out
upon you?"

"The army will rise to a man," Nicholas threatened, shaking with
emotion.

"Young sir," Samara enjoined, "you would be wiser to omit all
mention of an army in which you have served merely to gain your own
purposes.  Furthermore, half-past five is the time at which our
firing-parties generally parade.  Odensk is some distance away."

Nicholas was almost beside himself with mingled fear and passion.

"It is unheard of, this," he cried.  "I have still my American
citizenship.  I appeal!"

"Spare me a few illusions," Samara begged.  "For a Russian seeking
to obtain a lofty position in his own country by virtue of his
birth, to attempt to shelter himself in a moment of danger under a
foreign flag is scarcely in accord with the traditions of your
race.  Now, listen to me, both of you.  I have addressed you as a
judge to the offenders brought before him.  Your crime is admitted.
The penalty is acknowledged.  Now, I am going to speak to you as
one human being to another."

A sudden gleam of hope flashed in Kirdorff's eyes.  Samara paused
for a few minutes as though to collect his thoughts.

"From the point of view of an ordinary human being," he continued,
"you two cannot be judged as normal malefactors.  Behind everything
that you have done there stands, if not an excuse, a reason.  How
you can justify yourselves as men of honour, I do not know.  You
have accepted my invitation to come here.  You accepted the
positions I offered you in the army, and you started at once to
plot against the Government of a country which has never been so
stable and prosperous as she is to-day.  I will still bear with
you.  I will look upon you as men afflicted with a Jesuitical turn
of mind.  You believe that the code of honour may be abnegated if
the cause itself is a great cause.  You believe that Russia would
be better governed by a monarchy than it is as a Republic.  I
believe the contrary.  Very well.  Go and preach your doctrines,
and I will preach mine.  If you can convert this country to Tzardom
do so.  Only, do it, in future, openly, not by conspiracies and
sedition.  Don't pretend to be faithful soldiers of the Republic,
when you only wear their uniform to preach treason against it."

The two men stood with their eyes fastened upon Samara.  Nicholas
was moistening his lips nervously.  Kirdorff had already realised
that respite was at hand.  The most gloomy figure was that of the
Minister of Police.

"My decision is this," Samara concluded, turning to the latter.
"You will escort these two ex-soldiers of the Republic to your
headquarters, where you will strip them of their uniforms and
provide them with civilian clothes.  You will expunge their names
from the Army List, but you will give them passes to cross the
lines at Odensk and to travel wherever they will in the country.
That is all.  Remove your prisoners, General."

"We are to be set free?" Nicholas gasped.

"I hoped that I had made myself clear," Samara observed drily.

"You will permit me to say, sir," Kirdorff ventured, "that you are
treating us in an extremely chivalrous fashion."

Samara rose to his feet.

"I do not desire your thanks," he said.  "As criminals, I have
absolved you.  As men of honour, I shall be glad to be relieved of
your presence."

The Minister of Police knew better than to argue.  He made his
protest, however.

"You have allowed yourself the luxury of quixotic altruism, sir,"
he said, "at the expense of your duty to the Republic."

"That may be the verdict of posterity, General," Samara replied.
"If so, I must accept it."

The little procession filed out, Kirdorff and Nicholas alike
momentarily drained of dignity, men to whom unexpected generosity
had brought a sense of shame.  Samara sat still at his desk and
waited.  There came no sign from Catherine.  He rose to his feet
and crossed the room at last to her alcove.  On the threshold he
stood still amazed.  She was leaning forward, her head buried in
her hands, her shoulders convulsed.  He came a little nearer.

"Catherine," he said quietly.

She held out her hand towards him without looking up.  He gripped
it tightly.  Then he leaned over her.  He asked no questions--there
was that much of understanding between them.  He kissed her fingers
tenderly and turned away.  Ivan's stentorian voice was announcing
the arrival of his Cabinet in the outer room.



Chapter X


Catherine, a little tired, a little anxious, more than a little
unhappy, lay stretched upon the sofa in her aunt's drawing-room,
smoking an after luncheon cigarette.  Opposite her, Alexandrina,
with half-a-dozen newspapers by her side, her spectacles slipped on
to the edge of her nose, her voice unsteady with excitement, was
reading aloud occasional paragraphs.

"Listen to this, Catherine!" she exclaimed.  "This is from the
leading socialist paper in Berlin:


           "THE POLITICAL CRISES STILL CONTINUES."

"Herr Brandt has confessed himself wholly unable to form a ministry
and Dr. Beither has also refused responsibility.  Meanwhile the
Imperialist Party have openly avowed that they are in a position at
any time to form a government which will command the entire support
of the whole country.  Prince Frederick is unable to leave his
house in the Whilhelmstrasse owing to the crowds which surround it
night and day.  The announcement of a change of constitution is
expected hourly."


Catherine listened unmoved.

"I seem to have missed a great chance," she murmured.  "The young
man was very much in love with me."

Alexandrina smiled.

"You are of the fortunate ones of the earth, Catherine," she said.
"No other woman in history has quite occupied your position.  You
could have been Kaiserin of Germany, and instead you will become
Tzarina of Russia."

Catherine poured herself out some coffee from the copper-pot which stood
by her side. She clapped her hands, and a somewhat uncouth-looking
Russian servant entered.

"Sugar, Paul," she ordered, "and the samovar for Her Highness.  See
if that is a later edition of the paper they are calling in the
street, too."

The man withdrew stolidly.

"Even if the Royalists succeed in Germany," Catherine continued, "I
cannot see that our chances are much improved.  They have no Samara
to deal with there."

"Gabriel Samara is a great man," her aunt admitted, "but his
dominion is on the wane.  His ministers have allowed all the power
to drift into his hands simply because they have had no will to
resist.  Many have resented it, however.  His final proposals with
regard to the completion of this demobilisation scheme are
unpopular throughout the whole country.  They only passed the Duma
by less than a dozen votes."

Catherine leaned back thoughtfully, with her hands clasped around
her knees.

"He is rash, like all great men," she said.  "He should have gone
more quietly with these altruistic ventures of his.  The people do
not understand, and he is always a little impatient of opposition.
But he has genius, and a man with genius is not easily crushed."

The servant returned with the sugar and the evening paper.
Alexandrina glanced the latter through.

"Nothing fresh," she declared.  "Samara is to address the last of
his series of meetings at Odensk to-night."

The door was thrown open.  General Orenburg was announced.  They
both turned towards him eagerly.

"Any news?" Catherine asked.

"Nothing within the last few hours," the General answered, seating
himself by his hostess' side on the divan.  "I came, wondering
whether you had heard anything from Kirdorff."

"Nothing," Alexandrina replied.  "The news from Berlin is amazing."

"Amazing indeed," Orenburg assented.  "Six months ago the German
Liberal Party appeared to have an ample majority and to be
thoroughly established.  The Imperialists scarcely dared to let
their voices be heard.  They were the weakest party in the State.
Now a cataclysm seems to have taken place, a fever seems to have
spread throughout the country.  Every moment one expects to hear
that Frederick has been proclaimed Kaiser."

"What do you think about the position here?" Catherine inquired
curiously.

"In the light of what has happened in Germany, it is hard to say,"
the General admitted.  "Six months ago, Samara was his country's
god, and the Duma were prepared to follow him blindly.  If there
had been another election he could have nominated every candidate.
To-day there seems to be a strange undercurrent of political
reaction.  The people do not understand this demobilisation.  The
peasants and work-people are afraid of undue competition, the
soldiers of privations, the bourgeoisie of invasion.  They have
suddenly begun to wonder whether their idol is only a great
theorist.  How far the pendulum will swing back, I cannot tell.  We
know that Russian people are faithful and dogged.  It seems hard to
believe that in a few months' time they could forget and discard
the man who slew their dragon."

"Samara has ruled Russia for fifteen years," Alexandrina said
solemnly--"ruled her for her own good, we must admit, but ruled her
like an autocrat.  All the same, just as I believe in God as our
spiritual Master, so I believe that every human being is born with
the reverent instinct and desire for temporal government by an
anointed head.  Germany's period of madness lasted for a short time
only.  When France, too, comes to her senses and an Emperor reigns
once more at Versailles, then the wounds of the world will be
healed, and not before.  So far as we are concerned, there has
never been a time like the present.  If we can secure the army, our
moment may have arrived."

Once more the door was hurriedly opened, this time to admit a more
unexpected arrival.  Nicholas Imanoff entered, wearing a long,
brown leather coat and carrying dark spectacles in his hand.  He
was still a little breathless and had the air of one who has just
concluded a rapid journey.

"Have you heard the news from Berlin?" he cried.

"Nothing for some hours," Orenburg replied.

"Frederick was proclaimed Kaiser early this afternoon!" he
announced.  "The whole city is en fête, and to-morrow has been
declared a national holiday!"

"Wonderful!" Alexandrina murmured, the tears standing in her eyes.

"What news of Odensk?" the General asked.

"Samara is like King Canute," Nicholas pronounced.  "He has a great
following there.  He is enthusiastically received, but the men are
on our side, and he cannot keep back the tide."

"You have a mission here?" Orenburg inquired.

The young man nodded, threw his coat over the back of a chair, and
called to the domestic for brandy.

"I have flown from Odensk," he explained.  "All goes well, but one
of our recruits insists that there are now in print secret orders
to every army corps commander, to be issued some time within the
next week, which might affect our plans.  It is absolutely
necessary that we get hold of those orders."

He looked across at Catherine.  She tossed her cigarette into the
fire and smiled at him pleasantly.

"You seem to have established a secret service already, Nicholas,"
she remarked.

"Kirdorff is organiser," he acknowledged.  "I speak in his name.
It is he who found out about these proclamations and secret orders.
They are in code at present, but I think we could find some one who
could deal with them.  Do you know anything about them, Catherine?"

"Very likely," she replied.

"Splendid!" he exclaimed enthusiastically.  "Kirdorff hates
mystery.  He had always felt that Samara had something up his
sleeve, or he would never have dared to make this an open
struggle."

"'Dare' is scarcely the word to use in connection with Samara,"
Catherine observed.  "He may have made glorious mistakes, but he
has the courage of a lion."

"No one wishes to deny that Samara is a great man," Nicholas
declared a little impatiently.  "His time is over, though.  If he
behaves sensibly and leaves the country without provoking a
conflict, no harm will happen to him.  Catherine, I want a copy of
that secret order.  I shall fly back with it to Odensk to-night."

"How do you know that I can give it to you?" she demanded.

"That is of no consequence," he answered.  "The knowledge has come
to us.  It was you alone who worked for Samara on the day when he
thought out his scheme.  Why do you hesitate?  What other reason
had you for working for this man than to aid the cause?"

Catherine rose from the sofa, shook out her skirt and stood by her
aunt's side.

"Aunt," she said, "what is your opinion?  I became Mr. Samara's
secretary, intending to betray him at the first possible
opportunity.  I am still a Royalist, I am still as anxious as any
of you to see Nicholas Tzar of Russia.  On the other hand, Samara
is a great and honourable man.  Shall I do well--I, a Princess
Royal of Russia--to betray his confidence?"

Alexandrina looked a little disturbed.  She was almost brutally
frank.

"My dear," she confided, "I never dreamed that you would hesitate
for a single moment."

Catherine turned to Orenburg.

"What is your opinion, General?" she asked him.

"I sympathise with your position, Princess," he said, "but the
Cause must come before everything."

Catherine was standing in the glow of a tall rose-shaded electric
standard.  Her expression was unusually serious.  Nicholas, fresh
from the drab barbarities of a huge garrison cantonment, thought
that she had never appeared so desirable.

"The best friends in the world," she said, "must sometimes agree to
differ.  I am a Royalist, and by any honourable means I would try
to help Nicholas.  The thing you ask of me I will not do."

"You desert us?" Nicholas exclaimed passionately.

"I do nothing of the sort," she replied.  "I am against Samara; I
am for you, but let us fight fairly.  Samara himself has set you a
great example."

Nicholas poured himself out some more brandy.  His fingers were
shaking.  He dared not trust himself to speech.  Alexandrina
stretched out her hand and took up her knitting.

"If Catherine has made up her mind," she remarked, "it is of no use
trying to change her."

"The young are like that," General Orenburg agreed with quiet
resignation.  "As they grow older the light they carry burns less
brightly, and the journey becomes easier.  The Princess must have
her way."

Nicholas indulged in one final outburst.  He set down his tumbler
empty and caught up his coat.

"I am to go back, then, and report failure," he protested.  "I am
to report that whilst we may sell our souls and bodies for the
Cause, my affianced wife has scruples about betraying the
confidences of a usurper.  We shall find another way into the
secret, though.  Be sure of that."

"I doubt it," Catherine rejoined coldly.

Nicholas forgot for a moment to be cautious.

"You think that it is your secret and his alone," he sneered.  "You
are mistaken.  There is another."

"There is only Andrew Kroupki," she declared, "and he is in
London."

Nicholas buttoned up his coat without a word.

"I had hoped to stay a little longer," he said, kissing his aunt's
fingers.  "Catherine's decision drives me back to the camp at once,
however.  I must let them know of my failure."

He hurried off.  Between Catherine and him there passed only the
slightest of farewells.  They heard the front door slam and the
sound of his automobile driving away.  Alexandrina rose with a
little sigh, fetched the cribbage board and sat down opposite to
the General.  Catherine moved to the window and stood listening to
the cry of the newspaper boys in the street.



Chapter XI


The mind of Europe was suddenly swayed and distorted by an
avalanche of strange happenings.  Once more the Imperial flag flew
from the Royal residence in Berlin and Potsdam.  A proclamation,
studiously moderate in tone, almost democratic in its general
outline, and without a single bombastic reference to the military
powers by whose machinations his success had been achieved, had
marvellously consolidated the young Emperor's position.  Austria
was reported to be on the point of begging for inclusion in the
German Empire.  Italy, with the grasp of the Socialists upon her
throat, could only look on and wonder.  France, with a deep groan,
went at once into military conclave, counted her armies and found
them insufficient, inspected her forts and found them vulnerable,
but with the amazing and patient heroism of her race, set herself
to face the inevitable.  England, the most faithful subscriber to
the Limitation of Armaments which Germany had so flagrantly
disregarded, postponed the Peace Conference and sent out half a
dozen commissions of ingenuous and credulous men to study
conditions in the various countries which had subscribed to the
League.  America looked on from afar and tried not to feel the
thrill of gratitude and superiority with which her great ocean
barrier usually inspired the less far-seeing of her citizens.
Russia itself, after twenty years of peace and content, felt the
throb of political emotion--a new sensation of her giant body.  She
was bewildered at the strength of her own feelings.  The more
intelligent portion of the community looked with something like
reverence upon that amazing rekindling of monarchical, almost
religious sentiment on the part of the peasant class.  Only a
minority of them could remember rule under Tzardom; could remember
the whispers of "a little father," a being nearer than God in their
thoughts, as making a more tangible and real appeal to their
imaginations.  Samara's action, regarded with wondering admiration
in other countries, almost stunned his own supporters.  He
dissolved the Duma as soon as he recognised the strength of the
monarchist movement, and issued a proclamation in every electoral
district requiring the people to nominate their representative on
the question of the constitution of the country.  He himself,
immersed in the one scheme so near his heart, yet the scheme which
had temporarily shaken his power, remained at Odensk and in the
neighbourhood, patiently addressing audience after audience of his
dissatisfied soldiery, trying to convince the most difficult race
upon the earth, realising his slow progress, yet fascinated with
his task and deaf to the pleadings of his advisers to seek a wider
field.  The acme of his quixotism, however, was yet to come.

Catherine found herself living in an atmosphere of excitement from
which she was to some extent excluded.  Alexandrina, after
Nicholas' visit, had never once alluded to its purpose.
Nevertheless, Catherine felt the veil fall.  She discussed the
situation with no one, but she pondered over it.  She compared the
Russia of her dreams with the Russia which Samara had created;
compared the man in his daily life and ideals as she now knew them
with the narrow monarchical judgment which branded him simply as a
usurper and a demagogue.  Tzardom she had accepted very much as she
had accepted the Bible.  Both, it seemed to her, were fundamentals.
The atheist was by the very fact of his existence a debased
creature; the anarchist, vermin of a different race to human
beings; the republican or anti-monarchist of any type, a person
outside argument or consideration.  Monarchy was God's system of
government.  Any other form was a species of blasphemy.  It was
really, after all, a somewhat clarified vision of the point of view
once held by fifty million peasants.  Samara, in the days of her
earlier acquaintance with him, she had looked upon with a certain
toleration, simply from the fact that she regarded him as one of
the milestones on the way from the ruin of her country to its
regeneration, to be passed ruthlessly enough when the whole light
of sanity once more returned to the people.  The ethics of his
system of government she had never even considered.  She had
marvelled at its results, but all the time with the feeling that
the same and better results would have been attained under
monarchical rule.  She had never even doubted that if the longed
for day of re-establishment should come, she would marry Nicholas
and reign over Russia.  She scarcely doubted that even now,
although for once their wills had crossed.

Yet, in these days, she found herself comparing the two men.  She
found herself asking, in the spirit of a new-born heresy, whether
Nicholas indeed possessed a single one of Samara's gifts, whether
indeed it were possible for him, ruling by divine grace, to attain
similar results to those which Samara's genius had achieved.  In
those days of disquiet after her few hours of daily work at
Government Buildings, necessarily restricted, owing to Samara's
absence, she took to walking the streets in the late afternoon,
when twilight offered a sort of shelter--streets now as safe as the
thoroughfares of any European capital of the world, thanks to the
wonderful system of police.  Nearly always her way led her past
Government House.  One evening, to her surprise, she found a crowd
collected in the street--a patient crowd, watching the thin thread
of light through the curtained windows of a room on the lower
floor.  She paused for a moment and listened, gathering from the
whispers that Samara had returned.  In front of the door stood a
high-powered motor-car.  She retreated a little from the throng and
passed into a side street, unlocked a postern door in the wall with
a key which she carried always with her, and made her way up the
narrow strip of artificial garden to the back of the house.  A
manservant admitted her without question, and she hastened towards
Samara's room on the ground-floor.  Ivan stood on duty outside the
door.

"One may enter?" she inquired.

Ivan shook his head.

"General Trotsk is within," he replied, "and Minister Argoff.
There is to be no interruption."

Catherine fetched herself a chair and sat down.  The conference was
obviously of a disturbed nature.  Often she heard Argoff's voice
raised almost to passion, and more than once the cold anger which
burned at the back of Trotsk's measured words filled them with
unusual and ominous volume.  Samara's voice, alone, seemed
unchanged, but sometimes in his intonation she detected a sign of
the strain from which he must be suffering.  At last came silence--
then the throwing open of the door.  The Minister of Police and
Argoff came out together.  The former glanced steadily at
Catherine, saluted, hesitated, and passed on.  Ivan stood on one
side and she crossed the threshold.  As the door was closed behind
her, she stopped short.  Samara's head was buried in his hands.
Instinctively she felt like an intruder, and hesitated, wondering
whether she could withdraw unheard.  Samara, however, with his
amazing sensibility, seemed to be suddenly conscious of her
presence.  The flutter of her skirt, a waft of perfume from the
bunch of dying violets she wore, or perhaps the sound of her quick
indrawn breath, warned him of her coming.  He looked up, rose an
inch or two from his chair and nodded in friendly fashion.

"The light tires my eyes," he said, as though in explanation of his
posture.  "How did you know that I was here?"

"By the people outside, not from you," she replied a little
reproachfully.

"I nearly sent for you," he admitted, "just to indulge in the very
weakness of sharing my woes."

"The Peace Conference, I am told, is postponed," she said.  "Why is
Andrew not back from London?"

The question seemed to perplex him.

"I wish I knew," he admitted.  "I cabled him to return.  For ten
days I have had no word from him.  He is perhaps ill."

"It is I who have robbed you of the one person who should have been
by your side," she exclaimed remorsefully.

He shook his head.

"I am not sure whether Andrew would be any comfort to me if he were
here," he confided.  "He behaved most strangely before he left, and
he never sympathised with my demobilisation schemes.  I rather
fancy that he would go over to the great majority and side against
me."

He sat quite still for a moment, as though deliberating.
Catherine, venturing to watch him more closely, was shocked at the
change in his appearance.  There were hollows underneath those
always somewhat high cheek-bones.  His mouth, in its straight, firm
lines, seemed to have lost the possibility of any tenderness or
humour.  His eyes had surely receded a little and hardened.  The
wistful gleam of the visionary was still lurking in their depths,
but the light of hope seemed to have grown weak.

"This room is insufferable," he declared wearily.  "I dare not open
the windows because of the people.  Come up to the top.  I have a
fancy to talk with you there."

She followed him from the room by a door opening out of the alcove,
along a narrow passage and into the self-adjusting lift, then up
the final flights of stairs, on to the leaded parapets.  From the
recess to which he presently led her, the whole of the city
westwards was visible, enclosed in an arc of lights, with a glimpse
beyond of the great plain rolling and falling to an indefinable
horizon.  The new city was tangled with the old, high buildings and
straight-hewn streets cleaving their way through the jumble of
ancient tenements, decayed mansions, half palaces, half hovels, the
churches with their strangely shaped roofs and towers, the gimcrack
lodging-houses of Soviet erection.  In the half-light one seemed to
be able to visualise the eternal struggle between modernity and
antiquity; the utilitarian triumphing, magnificent in victory, here
and there an old street or square left only partially destroyed,
lending a touch of beauty to the stern and intruding materialism of
brick and iron.  Samara laid his hand upon Catherine's sleeve, his
other arm outflung to where the canopy of lights ended.

"This has been my hardest task," he said, "and this has become the
city I love.  When they asked me to do what I could for Russia,
there was scarcely a light to be seen from here, scarcely a sound
building.  The streets were full of holes and ruts, the sewers were
open, no man or woman could walk safely for a hundred yards in any
direction.  There was scarcely a shop doing business, prices were
ridiculous, people died of starvation in the street.  And to-day,
see!  Even this below is only the birth of a great city, but it
grows hour by hour.  The stores are full, prices are normal.  Look
at that blaze of light westward.  Those are factories working
overtime on American contracts."

"Russia will never forget what you have done for her," she assured
him softly.

"History may remind her in the future," he answered.  "Your passer-by
in the streets below to-night has forgotten.  Strange things are
happening hour by hour.  Marshall Phildivia, Commander-in-Chief of
the Russian armies, received instructions to report here to-day.
He failed to do so.  They tell me that after receiving the mandate
he flew instead to Odensk.  Trotsk, my one really strong man, has
asked to-night for permission to resign his position."

"I do not understand," she confessed.  "Are you preparing to
abdicate without even a fight."

"A fight!" he repeated.  "I have been fighting every minute of
every day for the last three weeks.  I shall fight to the end, but
concerning one thing I have sworn an oath in heaven, and no one
shall make me perjure myself.  Enough blood has been shed in
Russia.  What there is left is best preserved.  I shall resist
monarchy with the last breath in my body, but not a single Russian
soldier shall lose his life for or against me."

"It is a wonderful decision," she murmured.  "What about the First
Army, then?"

"It is because of the First Army that Trotsk deserts me," he
replied.  "I will not have them mobilised.  I will not have them
fight against their fellows.  While I live, Russia shall not fight
Russia."

"But surely you need a certain measure of defence," she protested.
"May I be quite frank?"

"Naturally," he answered.

"From what I can learn," she went on, "I think that your mission to
Odensk has been more or less a failure.  What you can demonstrate
to a logician you cannot hammer into the head of a Russian peasant.
I have read some of your speeches.  They are wonderful.  They have
almost convinced me--a Royalist from the cradle.  They are utterly
wasted upon the men of the Second Army to whom you have addressed
them."

"I believe you are right," he admitted gloomily.  "Yet, what does
it matter?  It is not the Second Army which will decide this
problem.  It is the whole electorate.  Trotsk wants to mobilise the
First Army and bring them across the river to the city.  Why should
I?  The danger from Odensk is less than they have any idea of.
Only you and I know that secret.  But if it were greater, I would
never see army against army.  The people of Russia shall judge
between what I have done and what Nicholas Imanoff may promise
them."

"You are a Quixote amongst rulers," she exclaimed.  "The First Army
is still yours, uncorrupted and patriotic.  With their help you
could hold your own against anything the others could do.  Why do
you hesitate?  It is without doubt your best chance."

"If it were my only one," he answered, "I should not change.  The
people shall decide."

"There is something tragical about it all," she sighed.  "You do
not mind if I continue to speak frankly?"

"Mind?  Go on, please."

"If it were left to the class you despise most--the bourgeoisie--
there would be no doubt of the result.  These are the people who
read a little and think a little, who study foreign politics and
realise the amazing change in their own country.  You are sure of
them.  Their vote is yours to a man.  It is the peasants whom you
love--the peasants to whom you have spoken as a father to his
children--who are the doubtful quantity.  They are superstitious,
at heart deeply religious, but very, very narrow; very prone to
rely upon a passing feeling."

"I know them," he admitted.  "I must confess that they are the
doubtful quantity.  I am still content to leave the issue to their
judgment."

"So you have announced," Catherine said.  "But has it ever struck
you that it may not suit the other side to wait?  The electorate
is, after all, unreliable.  If they believed it was in their power
to seize Moscow without the possibility of any resistance, don't
you think that they would do so?"

"There is no chance of that," he answered.  "You and I best know
why."

"Supposing the corps commanders should refuse to destroy the
ammunition dumps?" she persisted.

"They will not refuse," he assured her.  "They are all my men.  You
must not imagine either that it will be a matter of hours.  It will
be a matter of seconds--the turning of a single prepared switch."

"Supposing the Royalists should get to know of your plans and save
the ammunition?"

"It would have to be a very wonderful betrayal," he observed.  "The
secret is known to exactly three people in the world--yourself,
myself, and Andrew.  Problem--find the traitor!"

"I am on the side of the Royalists," she reminded him.  "It is
absurdly rash of you to trust me with such a secret!"

"You might fight," he answered, "if you were a man.  You would
never betray."

For some reason unintelligible to either of them, they both
relapsed into a curiously prolonged silence.  Samara, a few feet
back from the edge of the parapet, was leaning against a great
block of masonry, his arms folded, his eyes fixed first upon the
dark pall of clouds which had suddenly risen up on the horizon, but
later on Catherine, whose face was a little turned from him.  She
stood on the extreme edge of the parapet, the upper part of her
figure outlined against the black chasm of sky and space; a
curiously effective background.  She was like a pastel in real
life, something fine in line and exquisite in conception, but
amazingly human.  She looked into the empty places, but without the
air of a visionary.  There were human thoughts which throbbed in
her brain; human passions which stirred in her veins.  Life, which
since her departure from New York had moved so swiftly for her,
seemed all the time to be piling up problems which even at that
moment filled her mind--problems which she faced without a touch of
neurotic disability, but with a simplicity and breadth of vision
essentially racial.  Even her smooth and beautiful forehead was
unruffled as she studied the issues which had risen up before her.
Samara, watching more and more intently, was puzzled.  He
remembered ever afterwards that in these, his hours of fate, the
most strenuous effort of his mind was directed towards a wistful,
intense desire to read the thoughts of one who certainly might have
been counted outside the cycle of his fate.

The breaking of the storm disturbed them.  The whole of the black
curtain of clouds seemed suddenly to open and disclose a background
of fire.  For a moment the light on her face appeared to him almost
unearthly.  Then she turned towards him with a very human little
exclamation.

"Come along down," she cried.  "The rain will be here in a moment."

The end of her words was lost in the crash of thunder which seemed
to shake the building around them.  She grasped his arm.  He held
her tightly and for a moment he did not move.

"An allegory," he whispered.  "I came to look out upon this city
because its splendour is mine.  I made it, brought it into being.
All this is nothing to the meeting of the clouds.  To-morrow the
sun will shine down again on my work."

Suddenly he felt the cling of her arms, the touch of her body
against his.  A spell of forgetfulness swept him off his feet as
his lips were pressed to hers.  There was a moment of deep, intense
silence, then the blaze of light again all around them.  She broke
away, with a perfectly human, unembarrassed laugh, though
underneath was a curious new undertone.

"Another second," she warned him, "and all Moscow would have seen
us.  Perhaps they did, as it is.  Come!"

She ran with flying footsteps across the leads, down the iron
ladder and along the passage.  He was breathless when he rejoined
her in the great wainscoted library.  The telephone bell on his
desk was ringing without intermission.  She pointed to it silently.
He took off the receiver, listened for a time, spoke again and hung
it up.  Then he turned to Catherine.

"The Cabinet are holding a private session at Government
Buildings," he explained.  "They have heard that I am back from
Odensk and they have done me the courtesy to desire my presence.  I
must go there at once.  Except for Trotsk, Argoff assures me that
they are perfectly sound."

"Have they to seek election?" she inquired.

"Only by the Duma," he answered.  "They are in office until
Parliament reassembles."

"Are you coming back here afterwards?" she asked.

He shook his head.

"This must be good night," he told her.  "I am addressing the
officers at Odensk to-morrow morning, and I shall fly back as soon
as the storm is over.  Before I go, I want to ask you one
question."

"Well?"

"What were you thinking of to-night when the thunder crashed down
upon us?"

She smiled reminiscently.

"Of you," she admitted.  "I will tell you what I was thinking.  I
was remembering first of all a saying of Voltaire's that 'Every
great man in the world at some time or another makes one huge
mistake.'  Do you know what yours is?"

"No."

"You have despised women.  You have been too proud to share
yourself, to live anywhere else except in the unalterable ego.  You
have classed women with flowers and wine and sunshine--a great
mistake, Gabriel Samara!"

"There are not many women like you," he said, after a moment's
pause.

"That is part of your folly," she insisted.  "A woman is what her
own love makes her, or the love of the man she loves.  You know
what yours would have made of any woman whom you had taken into
your life?  It would have made her practical, far-seeing.  She
would have supplied just that leaven of common-sense, of human
outlook, which would have kept your feet on the ground.  You have
kept your head turned to the skies just one hour too long.  The
woman would have pointed across the plain.  You could have had
this, Gabriel Samara, and the wine, and the sunshine, and the
flowers."

He shook his head a little sadly.

"You may be right," he confessed, "but if you are, salvation would
still have been impossible for me."

She smiled across at him delightfully.

"I am too much of a woman to refuse the compliment," she murmured.

At the door, he turned back.  He pointed to the safe with its
marvellous array of bars and cross-bars.

"I have never asked you for an assurance before," he said, "but I
ask you now--will you hold that secret for me for forty-eight
hours?"

"I promise," she answered readily.



Chapter XII


Catherine, on her homeward way that night, paused at the corner of
the Square, astounded.  Streets and pavement alike were closely
packed with a surging crowd, many of them, as she saw at once,
students from the universities, but the great majority of the
working class.  They waited very patiently, almost in silence,
always gazing at the upper windows of her aunt's house.  Even
whilst she lingered there for a moment the windows leading out on
to the balcony were opened and Nicholas, not for the first time,
she gathered, made his appearance.  With a little catch of the
breath, she noticed that he was wearing the old uniform of the
Imperial Army.  The people realised it, too, and there was a low,
hoarse murmur of restrained applause.  Nicholas stood at the
salute.  The applause swelled and grew, but only one or two amongst
the crowd were venturesome enough to dare the spoken word.

"Long live Nicholas Imanoff, Tzar of Russia!" some one cried
shrilly from the centre of the throng.

The applause increased still further to a roar.  Catherine turned
to one of the great policemen who was standing, placid, by her
side.

"Is this allowed?" she inquired.

"All this is allowed, lady," was the respectful reply.  "Save the
anarchists, every one in the city has the right of free speech.  An
edict confirming this has just been issued from the Home Office,
signed by Samara himself."

"Do you think I could get to my home?" she asked.

"Where is it that you wish to go?"

"To the house where Nicholas Imanoff is standing upon the balcony."

"You are a member of the household?"

"I am his cousin, Catherine Zygoff of Urulsk."

"In that case, gracious lady," the policeman assured her, "a way
shall be made."

He held his baton above his head and shouted in strident Russian at
the top of his voice:

"Way for the Princess Catherine Zygoff of Urulsk, who seeks to
return to the house of the Grand Duchess.  Give way for the
gracious Princess!  Give way, you loiterers!"

The spirit of orderliness was in the crowd, perhaps because it was
so seldom questioned.  A lane was made for Catherine at once.
People in the background stood on tiptoe to see her.  From the
heart of the assembly came the same shrill voice:

"Way for the Princess Catherine Zygoff of Urulsk, cousin of
Nicholas Imanoff, future Tzarina of Russia."

There was a moment's breathless pause.  Liberty of speech was a new
gift to Russia, and something of the old dread lingered.  In a few
seconds, however, hesitation vanished.  Catherine regained her roof
through an avenue of wildly applauding, hat-waving youths.  She
passed into the house without a sign.  At the top of the stairs
Nicholas met her, his face flushed.

"Come and stand by my side, Catherine," he invited.  "The people
demand it.  It is our betrothal."

"Do not be absurd," she answered scornfully.  "What are these but a
few handfuls of sightseers, out for any sensation they can get hold
of.  There are just as many yelling themselves hoarse at Samara's
gates.  One loses dignity in accepting such tribute."

The young man's eyes flashed anger.

"It is from the small beginnings that the great things come," he
cried.  "These people have sought me out of their own will.  You
have not heard.  We bring news from Odensk.  There have been
demonstrations at Petrograd.  The country is with us!"

"It will be quite time enough for us to accept the homage of the
people," Catherine insisted, "when the elections have convinced us
that it is the people's will that we should be restored to our
proper places."

"You talk like Samara himself," he sneered.  "Have you no Russian
blood in your veins?"

"Catherine!"

The suddenness of the interruption startled her into momentary
silence.  Alexandrina had pushed her way past Nicholas and stood
below him upon the stairs.  She was like a woman transformed.  The
disabilities of her figure seemed to have vanished.  It was the
voice of a great lady who spoke.

"You have forgotten what is due to your cousin and to your destiny,
Catherine," she said.  "These are the first of the millions who
will claim you.  Do not hesitate for another moment.  Let these
people see you standing by Nicholas' side.  All Russia will hear of
it and know."

Catherine was torn with a terrible indetermination.  Nicholas made
room for her to pass and followed her as she slowly ascended the
stairs.  She was in a state of furious revolt, but she had somehow
the feeling that she was obeying an immutable law.  They entered
the salon and moved towards the wide-flung window.

"This is no small matter, Catherine," Nicholas exclaimed eagerly.
"We bring wonderful news.  People are flocking here from all parts
of the city.  There are students there, too--the class we want.
Smile at them and at me, Catherine.  This is the beginning of the
greater days."

She took her place beside him on the balcony and looked downwards
into the upturned faces.  Once more hats were waved; a roar of
voices seemed to come to her from an indefinite space.  She felt
her hand grasped by Nicholas, and the volume of applause increased.
Her fingers were limp and passive and cold.  She seemed to remember
that earlier in the evening she had stood in a windier paradise and
on a greater height.


Dinner that night at Alexandria's flat was a disturbed and
tumultuous meal.  Nicholas was full of his personal triumphs at
Odensk.  Even though he had been compelled to appear there as a
civilian, the common soldiers had broken all rules of discipline
and saluted him.  The meetings which Kirdorff had arranged had been
packed, the enthusiasm enormous.  The excitement seemed somehow to
have benefited Nicholas, to have raised for a few moments his feet
from the ground.  He was vainglorious, but confident.

"I have promised the people," he announced, "a government which
shall give them as much liberty as the present one--liberty of
speech and liberty of religion.  I have promised them to alter
nothing which is for their good.  In return, they will know that
they are being governed, not by a usurper, but by divine and moral
right."

"You are becoming amazingly eloquent, dear cousin," Catherine
murmured.  "To tell you the truth," she went on, "your eagerness
for my presence to-night astonished me.  I had fancied, from our
last parting, that I was written out of your scheme of things."

"That could not be," Nicholas replied solemnly.  "It could not be
in the first place because our alliance is the one thing necessary
to make our position sure in the face of the Russian people.  You
and I represent all that is left of our great House."

"The union," Alexandrina declared, "has been blessed in heaven and
sanctioned by the Head of our Church.  It is one of the great and
happy features of the new day."

"As for our last parting," Nicholas concluded, "I remember very
well my anger.  That, however, is finished.  We ask no further
service of you, Catherine.  To-night we start afresh."

Catherine looked at him reflectively.  A vague sense of trouble was
gathering in her mind.  To cross-question him further at present,
however, was impossible.  They had finished dinner now and moved
into the small salon, where all the time a little stream of callers
presented themselves and, having paid their respects, passed on to
make room for others.  Nicholas accepted the homage paid him
readily and with dignity.  Catherine was gracious but noncommittal.

"We move too fast," she insisted more than once.  "Later, perhaps."

She sought her opportunity for speech with her cousin.  Towards the
end of the evening it came.

"Nicholas," she said, "I must ask you what you meant when you
assured me that you would cease your attempts to persuade me to
betray Samara's confidence?  You know that I have in my keeping a
secret.  When you left the house that evening you were very angry
because I refused to divulge it."

He smiled at her in condescending fashion.

"Put the matter behind you, my dear Catherine," he begged.  "It is
finished.  The world itself is opening before us.  All that we seek
to learn we shall learn and that without delay."

He moved away to greet some fresh arrivals.  The cloud of
uneasiness in Catherine's mind increased.  She was seized with a
very definite and persistent apprehension.  As soon as it was
possible she slipped unnoticed from the room and made her way to
her own apartment.

There were still people in the Square when, at a few minutes after
midnight, Catherine left the house by the back entrance and turned
towards Government House.  She had changed her gown for a plain
walking costume of dark material, and she wore a small hat with a
thick veil.  There was something hard and comforting in her pocket
and the thrill of adventure in her pulses.  The back streets
through which she passed were almost deserted, but in the broader
thoroughfares the lights were still flaming and people were
promenading in such numbers that the tread of their feet sounded
like the march of a distant army.  Samara's boast, however, that
the streets of Moscow were now as safe as the streets of New York
and London, was justified in her person that night.  Except for a
few good-humoured greetings she passed on her way unnoticed until
she reached the side entrance to Government House.  She entered by
the postern door, closed it behind her noiselessly, and stood for a
moment peering into the shadows of the courtyard.  There was no one
stirring, no sound of following footsteps from the street outside.
Yet, for the first time, Catherine was unaccountably nervous.  She
moved forward reluctantly.  She paused at every other step to
listen.  There were two tall elm trees on her left through which
the wind seemed to rush with a sort of shuddering sigh, sending
pattering down upon her drops of rain from the recent storm.  The
house itself presented a great white blank, the blinds drawn and
the shutters tightly fastened.  She approached nearer and nearer to
it, climbed the steps and stopped once more to listen.  The silence
was still unbroken, save for the dull reverberation of those
ceaseless footsteps in the distance, the sharp honk of a motor-horn
on the boulevard, an occasional murmur of voices.  She entered the
house, shut the door behind her, groped her way for a few steps
into the gulf of darkness, and found the switch.  The great hall
was flooded at once with light--an instantaneous though
unaccountable relief to her.  She passed on and opened the door of
the anteroom, itself furnished as a library, at the further end of
which lay the entrance to the room she sought.  One light only was
burning here from the ceiling; so inadequate an illumination of the
lofty chamber that she could scarcely see across it.  By degrees,
as her eyes became accustomed to the gloom, she could dimly discern
the great table round which the counsellors had been used to sit,
the plain wood panels reaching to the ceiling, with here and there
fragments of the ancient tapestry, and, most reassuring sight of
all, at the end of the room, seated on guard before the closed door
of his master's private apartment, Ivan.  She recognised him with a
throb of relief and moved at once towards him.

"Ivan!" she cried.

He took no notice.  He was bending a little forward, motionless and
apparently asleep.

"Ivan!" she called again.

Still he did not reply.  She stretched out her hand and gripped him
by the shoulder.  Her fingers fell upon something hard, and as she
leaned over him she saw the horror in his distorted face.  Her lips
parted.  It was the effort of her life to keep back the shriek
which rose to her lips.  In Ivan's back was a dagger.  There were
some faint drops of blood upon his coat.  His face was the face of
a dead man, and from underneath the chink of the door in front of
her she could distinguish a pale shaft of light.



Chapter XIII


The first shivering moments of panic were past and Catherine was
comparatively calm, almost collected.  In her right hand she held
the small revolver which Samara had given her on the steamer; with
her left she turned the handle of the door and entered the room.
She entered so softly that the man busied with the safe, his back
turned towards her, proceeded with his task undisturbed.  She drew
a little nearer.  Then surprise forced from her the exclamation
which terror had failed to wring from her lips.

"Andrew!" she cried.  "Andrew Kroupki!"

He turned round quite slowly; stiffly, as though it were against
his will.  The change in him was so startling that she almost
wondered that she had recognised him.  His face had grown lanker
and thinner than ever, his mouth seemed to have taken to itself the
character of a wolf's, his sunken eyes seemed at once to have lost
expression and yet gained in brilliancy.  With a little thrill of
horror she saw the scar upon his cheek.  He drew himself gradually
upright.

"Catherine Borans!" he muttered.  "What do you want?"

"When did you come back from England?" she asked.

"I did not go to England," he answered.  "Samara thought that I was
there.  He was wrong.  I went to Odensk."

"Odensk!" she repeated incredulously.

"Yes.  You haven't heard, then?  But how would you?  I swore them
to secrecy.  I have betrayed Samara.  I am selling his secrets to
your friends, the Royalists--selling them day by day.  They tell me
you have some foolish scruples.  So they sent me here for the great
one.  Scruples!  I have none, but I thank the Father of Russia that
you came to-night."

"Why?"

He struck himself on the side of the head.  He had the appearance
of a madman.

"Because my mind is going," he groaned.  "My memory is failing.  I
remembered the hiding-place of the key.  I remembered the
adjustment of the bars--four panels to the left, three to the
right, two back--I remembered it all as well as ever--the
combinations for Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday--I know
them by heart.  To-day is Friday, and I have forgotten.  Here I
stand, with those proclamations only a few inches off, the secret
orders I have promised there within my grasp--and I have forgotten.
It is well you came.  Tell it me quickly.  The password for Friday?
My head is hot with the emptiness of it.  Quick!"

"To whom are those secret orders going when you have them?" she
asked.

"To your friends, the enemies of Samara.  Quick!"

She made no movement.

"What has Gabriel Samara done to you," she demanded, "that you
should betray him like this?"

"Robbed me," he shouted fiercely.  "Robbed me of you!"

"You poor fool!" she scoffed.  "Do you know who I am?"

"Catherine Borans," he answered.  "The Chief brought you from New
York.  But they tell me that you are a Russian--a Monarchist.
Well, I am a Monarchist, too.  Damn Samara!"

"They might have told you the truth," she said.  "It really doesn't
matter.  I am the Princess Catherine Zygoff of Urulsk, betrothed--
if I carry out my contract--to Nicholas of Russia, whom you say you
serve."

He glared at her, speechless, for several moments.

"Now I know that I am mad," he muttered at last.  "A Princess of
the Royal House!  You were in the Weltmore Typewriting Agency!"

"Quite true," she admitted.  "So was Nicholas, selling bonds on
commission.  Kirdorff was secretary to a foreigners' club.  My
aunt, the Grand Duchess, designed artificial flowers.  It is none
the less true that we are what we are."

He sank into Samara's chair.  For a few moments he seemed to have
forgotten his mission.

"Did Samara know?" he gasped.

"He knew at Monte Carlo," she answered.  "General von Hartsen told
him."

He sat at the table perfectly limp.  Something in his attitude
reminded her with a little thrill of renewed horror of the man
outside.

"Now that you know who I am," she continued quietly, "you know that
I have a right to speak on the matter of those papers.  You and I
are the only two whom Samara has trusted.  Royalist though I am, I
have no mind to betray him.  Neither shall you.  Close up the safe,
Andrew Kroupki.  Go home and ask your God to pardon you for the
terrible thing you have done to-night, and the terrible purpose
that was in your mind."

He stiffened slightly in his place.  Something from which she
shrank came into his expression.

"I have finished with Samara," he announced.  "He is only a woman.
He has not the courage to fight for the people.  He is a coward."

"Samara is a great man and you are a liar," she answered.

The fury was back in his face.

"It was always true what I feared," he went on.  "You love him.
You cannot deny it.  In your heart--even though Nicholas takes you
to his throne--you are Samara's woman."

"You are becoming a little absurd," she said quietly, struggling
against what seemed to be a shortness of breath.  "Do as I
directed.  Leave this room and go home."

He rose from his chair and began moving slowly round the table
which separated them.

"No," he decided.  "I shall not do that.  I shall fulfil the
purpose for which I came.  Tell me the password, Catherine Borans."

"I shall never tell it to you," she retorted.

He was clear of the table now, within a dozen yards of her.

"You shall tell me the password," he insisted, his voice rising,
"and you shall do other things that I bid you.  I have lost my soul
since I bore the shame of a woman's blow.  There is a little left
in life and I will take it.  First tell me the password."

Her hand came from the folds of her dress.  The feeble light shone
on the bright metal of the revolver she held out.

"I shall tell you nothing," she warned him, "and I will not have
you a step nearer."

He laughed.

"Those who are sold to the devil," he cried, "have no fear of
hell!"

She would have aimed at his mouth, but a chance word of advice of
Samara's, never to aim too high, came into her mind.  She dropped
her arm a few inches and fired.  Within the four walls of the room
the report seemed to her tremendous--almost deafening.  He came on
another couple of inches, undeterred.  Her finger was upon the
trigger again, when he suddenly faltered and spun round.  He
clutched at the air, grasping as though for something to seize hold
of, and fell a crumpled heap upon the floor.  Catherine stood for a
moment looking at him.  She watched the slight colour drain from
his cheeks, saw the little hole just underneath his shoulder from
which a dark spot of blood was oozing.  She felt no pity for him;
only a great and wonderful relief.  If by chance she had missed!
The thought was paralysing in its horror!  She retraced her steps
for a minute to the door and stood listening.  The domestic part of
the establishment was some distance away and no one apparently had
been disturbed by the report of her revolver.  Ivan was still
there, terrible in his limp inertness.  Again she retraced her
steps, laid her revolver down upon the table and began the task of
securing the intricate fastenings.  Once she paused and listened.
She fancied that there had been some movement in the room.  There
was nothing to be heard, however, except the muffled and distant
sounds from the street.  The safe itself was a miracle of
ingenuity, the work of one of Russia's foremost engineers, and
familiar though she was with its mechanism, it still absorbed her
whole attention.  Her task was approaching completion.  There was
only one more bar to coax into its place.  Then the horror came
again.  She felt her heart almost cease to beat.  There was a hot
breath upon her cheek.  She turned around fearfully, and this time
she shrieked as one who looks into hell.  It was Andrew's face,
white and drawn with pain and passion--Andrew, who had dragged
himself to his feet and found strength in his madness.

"Nothing but a flesh wound," he muttered.  "I'll have the password
from you, and then--the password first.  Tell it to me!"

She struck at him with all her force, and for a moment it seemed as
though her blow had gone home, for he reeled upon his feet and his
new-found strength appeared to have left him.  With a fierce
effort, however, he recovered himself.  His fingers were upon her
throat.  His knee pinned her to the safe door.

"The password!  The password first!"

She put forth all the strength of her youth and supple limbs, and
suddenly realised that it was hopeless.  His fingers were like
burning pincers; his arm like a band of iron.  Already the room
seemed to be going round, the light must have been extinguished.
Then there was another sound--a roar at first, a whisper, a roar
again.  Where had she heard it before, she wondered with the last
efforts of her ebbing consciousness?  The steamer!  Samara with the
would-be assassin in his grasp!  The body hurtling through the air!
Then she opened her eyes and tried to smile.  She was filled with
an ineffable sense of relief.  The arms which were holding her so
firmly and yet so tenderly were Samara's.



Chapter XIV


There followed days during which Moscow scarcely knew itself; days
of excitement and processions, rumours and counter-rumours,
meetings in every public hall, at every street corner; telegrams
and wireless messages in the plate-glass windows and in nearly
every one of the great shops.  Curiously enough, all the time
business went on almost as usual.  The restaurants and cafés were
packed with surging crowds, who thronged the boulevards at night
singing patriotic songs.  Sometimes the crowds were thickest
outside Government House, sometimes outside Alexandrina's modest
abode.  Everywhere people were asking themselves what it all meant.
Was it a military rising of the Royalists?  If so, why was Nicholas
Imanoff, in civilian clothes, to be seen day by day on the balcony
of his aunt's house, alighting at the aerodrome on hurried visits
from Odensk, driving in an automobile through the streets?

Then Samara addressed two great meetings, one at the Skating Rink,
and another at the Opera House, and on the following morning the
city awoke to find a proclamation signed by him on every wall.  At
last they began to understand.  It was theirs to make the choice;
the restoration of the monarchy under Nicholas Imanoff, or the
continuation of the republic under Samara and his council.  The
people should decide, Samara promised with persistent passion.  No
portion of the army should be used even to defend the city against
any possible military coup.  No blow should be struck, no blood be
shed.  Samara's invocation to the Russian people was:


                CHOOSE WHO SHALL GOVERN YOU.


As the days passed on, Catherine became conscious of a sense of
growing excitement in her aunt's disturbed household.  Kirdorff,
Orenburg and most of the younger men of the party were now absent.
Finally Nicholas himself departed.  The air was filled with
rumours.  It was the quiet before the storm.  In two days the
initial electioneering results would be proclaimed.  Catherine, who
for the first time in anybody's recollection had been confined to
her room with a bad throat, came down late one afternoon, with a
red rose in her waistband, and a great bundle of papers under her
arm.  She passed smiling amongst the little groups of her aunt's
visitors.  She wore an unusual band of velvet around her neck, but
seemed otherwise very much as usual.  Only the immediate members of
the household who had not retired on the night when she had been
brought home by Samara's physician in his own car had any idea that
she had been suffering from anything but an ordinary indisposition.

"So, after all," she remarked, "this great Samara will keep his
word.  It seems too amazing to think of a change like this without
a gun being fired or a blow struck."

An octogenarian baron, once the owner of vast estates in Southern
Russia, and now a pensioner at Monaco, took snuff and grunted.

"You forget, Princess," he reminded her, "there may be no change at
all.  Samara may prove to have been too clever for us.  If I had
been Kirdorff and the others, I would have let Samara talk of peace
and then asked him to look down the barrels of a hundred thousand
rifles from Odensk."

"The Baron is right," a woman from the other end of the room
declared eagerly.  "The whole of the army at Odensk is almost in a
state of mutiny at the idea of demobilisation.  Nicholas has made
no compact with Samara.  He could march into Moscow at the head of
a quarter of a million of soldiers in two days, and the victory
would be won."

The Grand Duchess smiled.  She looked across at Catherine and
smiled again.

"One never knows," she murmured.

But Nicholas had not the chance of marching into Moscow at the head
of even a hundred thousand soldiers.  He arrived, instead, very
sulky and wet, about half-past eleven that night, soon after the
last of the guests had departed.  His anger blazed up at the sight
of Catherine.

"It is you whom we have to thank for this failure," he exclaimed
furiously.  "You and that lunatic, Andrew Kroupki, who seems to
have tumbled off the edge of the earth."

"What has happened?" his aunt cried.  "All day long we have been
listening for the rumbling of the trains and the sound of your
guns."

"Guns!" he scoffed.  "Samara's secret was simple enough.  It has
paralysed the entire army.  Yesterday the whole of the ammunition
within five hundred miles of us was destroyed, and the men's
bayonets seized.  There is an army still, it is true--armed with
walking-sticks!"

"Samara has at least been consistent," Catherine pointed out.  "He
fights harder to avoid bloodshed than for his own cause.  Do you
realise that, if he chose to, he could bring the First Army into
the city, fully armed and equipped?"

Nicholas sprawled in an easy-chair and drank brandy.

"How could he?" he asked cynically.  "After his declaration of
pacifism?  We could show fight--not he."

"My opinion of you and your counsellors is that you are a brainless
lot," she retorted.  "You have lost a magnificent opportunity of
impressing Moscow and the whole world."

"What do you mean?" he demanded.

"Simply this.  You say that practically the whole of the Second
Army are on your side."

"Except for a percentage of the officers, they are."

"You have your hundred trains waiting and your commissariat," she
continued.  "Why don't you bring your soldiers up unarmed?  You can
issue a proclamation and say that, agreeing with Samara in his
great desire that not a single life should be lost, you are content
to show by peaceful illustration the will of the army."

Nicholas looked across at her for a moment blankly and afterwards
in almost fervent admiration.  Then he rose to his feet.

"I'm going to the telephone," he declared.  "You are a genius,
Catherine!"

Catherine herself waited until the small hours of the morning.
Then she stole downstairs to the room on the ground floor where the
telephone was, and asked for that secret number which only she and
a few others knew.  Almost immediately Samara answered her.

"You should be in bed," she told him severely.

"One does not sleep these days," he answered.  "You are better?"

"Absolutely," she assured him.  "What about Andrew?" she added
after a moment's hesitation.

"He died in hospital this morning," was the cool reply.  "I only
wish that he had died in New York twelve months ago."

"I have news for you," Catherine confided.

"Well?"

"The Second Army are going to march on Moscow just the same, but as
pacifists.  They are coming to protest against being demobilised
and to shout themselves hoarse for Nicholas.  My idea entirely."

"A very excellent one," Samara admitted after a moment's pause,
"but I'll counteract it.  Some busybody has mobilised the First
Army against my orders.  I'll disarm them and bring them also."

"I gather that Moscow will be becoming lively during the next few
days," she remarked.  "How do you think things are going?"

"In the direction of change," he answered a little sadly.  "It is
always like that.  The pendulum of political impulses will never
cease to swing.  Are you to be crowned in Moscow?"

"It has been suggested," she assented.  "Shall I send you a card?"

"I shall escape from your magnificence," he declared.  "There is
that little villa down in the South of France which I showed you on
our way back from America.  I fixed upon it then as my ultimate
retreat.  I scarcely thought, though, that it would be so soon."

"Nothing is settled yet," she reminded him.  "You may win at the
polls.  If you do, there is only one way to avoid trouble in the
future.  Send Nicholas back to New York to sell bonds and my aunt
with him to make her artificial roses."

"And you?"

"Back to the Weltmore Typewriting Agency.  I am sure they'd take
me.  It was such a good advertisement for them when I left New York
with you."

"Are you by any chance being flippant?" he asked drily.

"No, I'm just sleepy," she confided.  "Good night!"



Chapter XV


Two days later a new sensation presented itself to the already
distracted inhabitants of Moscow.  Soon after dawn, from every
railway terminus and even along some of the main thoroughfares
outside, columns of soldiers in the blue-grey uniform came creeping
into the city.  By noon it was estimated that there were nearly a
hundred thousand from the Second Army alone encamped in the streets
and squares.  To add to the bewilderment of the people, from
northwards came a steady stream of soldiers from the First Army,
also unarmed.  The streets were hung with a proclamation:


A portion of the Second Army will arrive in Moscow to-day to
protest against demobilisation.  Anxious in every way to show my
accord with the desire of your President to avoid bloodshed, the
troops, at my advice, will come unarmed.

(Signed)  NICHOLAS.


Samara showed his first signs of anger when a copy of this
proclamation was brought to him.  He tore it promptly in two and
flung the pieces across the table.

"It is untrue," he told the little conclave of ministers who were
with him in almost hourly consultation.  "If a woman had not been
faithful, Nicholas would have made a shambles of the city.  As it
is, under whose orders do these troops march?  Where is General
Denkers?"

It was a Cabinet Meeting but there were many vacancies down the
long table.  Argoff leaned forward in his place.

"The General telephoned half an hour ago to say that he would call
at Government House on his way into the city," he announced.

"If he is here, admit him," Samara directed shortly.

Argoff left the Council Chamber and returned a few moments later
ushering in the Commander-in-Chief of the Second Army--General
Denkers.  The latter saluted gravely and stood with his hands
resting lightly on the back of the chair to which Samara pointed.

"By whose orders, General, have you brought these troops to
Moscow?" Samara demanded.

"I have to report, sir," was the momentous reply, "that, in common
with a large majority of the officers under my command, I, two
nights ago, took the oath of allegiance to Nicholas Imanoff, future
Tzar of Russia."

"Are you not anticipating a little, General?" Samara inquired
imperturbably.  "It is true that I have issued a proclamation that
the constitution of this country shall be according to the desire
of the people.  The people as yet have not spoken."

"Sir," the General answered, "the army has spoken."

Samara smiled with faint sarcasm.

"And, but for an unexpected shortage of ammunition," he remarked,
"I imagine that the army would have spoken in a different tongue.
It is perhaps fortunate that my agents advised me of your probable
attitude."

The General remained silent.  He had been a soldier of Samara's own
choosing, a fine disciplinarian, a strong, conscientious man.  It
was very certain that if he had declared for the Tzar, it was
because he had believed in Tzardom.

"Supposing I order the First Army to march upon the city?" Samara
suggested.  "They are perfectly armed, accoutred, and loyal to the
Republic."

"Such a step would be contrary to your own proclamation, sir,"
General Denkers rejoined quickly.  "You have announced your earnest
desire to have the future of this country decided upon without the
shedding of blood."

"I wonder," Samara asked, looking at him steadily, "whether you
would have respected my appeal if the bombs had been there for your
aeroplanes, the cartridges for your rifles and machine-guns, and
the ammunition for your heavy artillery?"

The General made no reply.  His silence was in itself a confession.

"You are dismissed, General," Samara concluded.  "In the name of
the State, I charge you to issue orders to your officers that all
property be respected and that any acts of insubordination are
immediately punished."

"We shall use our most strenuous efforts in that direction, sir,"
were the General's final words.

Samara looked down the table.  There were eight ministers present;
five others, including Trotsk, already deserters.

"Gentlemen," he announced, "the Government of this country is in
suspense.  Until the new Duma is elected and meets, constitutionally
we are impotent.  Such measures as must be taken for the good of the
country can be left to my associates, Weirtz and Argoff, together
with myself.  You are dismissed."

The Minister of Finance rose to his feet.

"Sir," he said, "we are passing through one of the strangest
upheavals of history.  It may be that we shall none of us meet
again in this chamber as officials of the Russian Government.
Before we part, let me say on my own account, at least, that if we
and the rest of the country should yield to the popular desire for
a change of constitution, there will still be not one of us who
will not think of you, Mr. President, with the deepest gratitude
and respect.  You have been a great ruler of this country in
troublous times and a patriot in this hour of adversity, as these
days of bloodlessness prove.  I claim the privilege of shaking
hands with you, sir, even though I venture to tell you that if the
people's call for a monarchy is, as seems at present, unanimous, I
shall tender my services to Nicholas Imanoff."

There was a chorus of assent.  Samara shook hands with every one.
They filed out a little reluctantly.  At the very last moment one
of the official secretaries rushed in with a telephonic despatch.

Samara read it through.

"Gentlemen," he announced, raising his voice a little so that every
one might hear, "the result of the elections in twenty-three
districts is herewith proclaimed.  Twenty-one have voted for the
representative pledged to the restoration of the monarchy."

A murmur of amazement, almost of consternation, was clearly
audible.  Nothing so sweeping as this had been expected.  Argoff
and Weirtz would have lingered with their Chief, but Samara waved
them away.

"It is useless," he said, "to discuss affairs of State.  You will
find me here if I am wanted."

He retired into his inner chamber--the faithful Ivan no longer
there to guard the door--telephoned to the servants outside,
denying himself to all callers, and spent several hours looking
through his private papers.  Once a privileged servant came
silently in with the samovar upon a silver tray.  He waved him
away.

"A bottle of brandy," he ordered.

He helped himself liberally, refilled his glass and sent over to
Government Buildings for one or two minor officials with whom he
completed some unfinished business.  Later on, a messenger from the
Home Office presented himself with another list of election
results.  The young man handed him the sheet almost apologetically,
and Samara read it with genuine astonishment.  The returns were now
in for over half the seats in the Duma, and out of a hundred and
thirty districts, a hundred and seven had voted for the monarchist
representative.

"What does it mean, Paul Metzger?" Samara asked curiously.  "Where
did it all come from, all this fever for a monarch?  Why was there
no evidence of it before?"

"There isn't a man in Russia who isn't asking himself the same
question, sir," the young official declared.

"In the cafés, on the streets, and in the clubs, there is nothing
but sheer amazement.  All that the most clear-sighted can say is
that it is the swing of the pendulum.  The army started it, of
course, but why the country districts should all be on fire to see
the monarchy back again is inexplicable."

"I wonder whether Bromley Pride is still in Moscow?" Samara
ruminated.

"He is one of about a hundred waiting in the anteroom, sir,"
Metzger replied.

"I will see him," Samara announced.  "Send the others away."

Pride came lumbering in, as breezy and cheerful as ever.  He was
too much a man of the world to pull a long face and offer sympathy.

"You've earned immortality, Mr. President," he said, as he shook
hands.  "I'm just from Berlin.  I was at the start of things there.
I've seen half-a-dozen South American republics come and go,
although perhaps they don't count any.  I'm supposed to be an
authority upon revolutions and changes of constitution in a
country, but I want to tell you this is the most astounding
business I ever knew.  No one could conceive of such a thing.
There are a hundred thousand unarmed soldiers in the city,
hobnobbing with a hundred thousand civilians; there are gala
dinners at all the swagger restaurants, you can't get within a
dozen yards of a table at any of the ordinary cafés, and I haven't
heard an angry word or seen a blow struck.  I was out early this
morning.  There the crowds were, as patient as you please, waiting
for the election returns.  I met dozens of people I knew slightly
and I asked them all the same question.  'Which is it going to be?'
I got the same answer right away from every one of them.  'The
elections are to decide,' they said.  And I tell you this, Samara,"
the journalist concluded impressively, "if the country had voted
the other way, they'd have taken it all right.  Talk about a
bloodless revolution!  I never believed in such a thing before.  I
didn't think human nature could stand the strain."

Samara pushed over the bottle of brandy and lit a cigarette.

"Pride," he said, "you are one of the few men in the world whose
judgment I would believe in as soon as my own.  You are there
amongst the people, and you see the truth.  What does it all mean?
I have governed these people for fifteen years.  No country in the
history of the world has prospered as Russia has under my rule.
Yet along comes this young scion of the Imanoffs, whom I found
selling bonds in New York, shows himself to the people, makes use
of a little propaganda in the army, and behold he seems suddenly to
have become a god.  You have seen the voting?"

Pride nodded.

"When you've learned not to care, Samara," he said, "you'll
understand it better.  This is at the root of the whole thing.  The
commonest evil quality in all human nature is ingratitude.  It
isn't a conscious evil quality.  It's the philosophical evolution
of the profound egotism of human nature.  The whole country's
prosperous and happy and cheerful.  The people don't stop to
realise that it's your administration which has brought that about.
They honestly believe that they have done it all themselves.
You've had the privilege of being at the head of the government.
They don't grudge it to you.  They have no ill-will towards you.
They're simply dazzled by the prospect of a more picturesque form
of government.  It never enters into their heads for a moment that
the present prosperity might not continue.  They have accepted it
as a matter of course.  They think it will continue as a matter of
course.  That's as near as I or any one else can get at an
explanation of what is going on to-day.  It has nothing to do with
you.  You made just one mistake, and only one."

"Demobilisation," Samara murmured.

Pride signified his assent.

"You will remember I warned you in New York," he continued.  "A
soldier doesn't look far enough ahead.  Your men were well fed,
well looked after, well pensioned.  They weren't philosophers.
They didn't appreciate the fact that theirs, from your point of
view, was an unnatural existence.  You tried to pitchfork them out
into civil life without preparing them sufficiently for the change.
Then arrived that little nest of conspirators you brought back from
New York, and the whole thing was easy.  You went too fast, Samara.
You brought it off with the first million, but you ought to have
waited for a year or so afterwards."

Samara nodded and changed the subject almost abruptly.

"What's the last move in the city?" he asked.

Pride shrugged his shoulders.

"This is such a kid glove sort of affair," he observed, "that I
should have thought Nicholas Imanoff would have been round here to
consult you.  There's some talk about a ceremony to-morrow of some
description.  I heard there were a hundred men working upon the
cathedral bells."

Metzger re-entered with the air of one who brings tidings.

"Sir," he announced, "the Archbishop is here and begs to be
received."

"You can show his lordship in at once," Samara directed.  "Don't go
away, Pride.  It's as well there should be some historian of the
period present.  Sit at the other end there and listen if you wish
to."

The Archbishop, followed by a chaplain, was shown in with some
formality.  He was a large, bulky man, with a black beard,
commanding physique, a splendid forehead, and piercing eyes.  Even
in his strangely fashioned vestments he was a person of dignity.

"Mr. President," he said, as Samara rose to receive him, "you will
permit me to explain the reason of my visit."

"If your lordship will be seated," Samara begged.

The Bishop leaned his elbow upon the table and played for a moment
with one of his rings.

"You are doubtless in touch, sir," he proceeded, "with the trend of
events.  I have been asked tomorrow morning to open the cathedral
and to administer the sacrament to Nicholas Imanoff and the
Princess Catherine of Urulsk, his intended bride."

Samara made no movement.  He sat quite still, looking beyond the
walls of his room.

"You and I, sir," the Archbishop went on, after a moment's pause,
"have had little to do with one another during the years of your
office--much sometimes to my regret.  From the material point of
view, Russia will never be able to forget what it owes you.  You
have brought the country out of a state of pitiful misery and
filled her veins with new and vigorous health.  If it has not
seemed good to you, or according to your convictions, to think also
of her spiritual welfare, that, alas! in these days, is no uncommon
thing.  You cannot blame me, however, if, as the head of the
Church, I welcome frankly a new régime which incorporates at least
the outward observances of the Christian faith with its ceremonies
of state."

"I do not blame you, indeed, Archbishop," Samara acknowledged.
"From your point of view, this must be a wonderful change.  The
pageantry of monarchy needs the background of ecclesiastical
ceremony."

"Not only the outward form, I trust," the Archbishop ventured
earnestly.  "The ceremonies of our Church, even that one which will
take place to-morrow, are as nothing if they are not symbolic of
spiritual things."

Samara bowed.

"Your lordship has done kindly in coming to visit me," he said.
"My work for Russia is over.  The new government will bring you a
larger sphere of action and greater responsibility.  You have my
best wishes."

The Archbishop rose to his feet.

"You, sir," he pronounced, "stood shoulder to shoulder with the
Church when you struck at the great dragon of atheism, and for that
reason I beg you to accept my blessing."

Samara bent his head.  For a moment the sonorous voice of the
priest seemed to be attuned to some deep note of music.  Then his
hand flashed back, and, followed by his chaplain, he was gone.
Samara looked after him like a man in a dream.

Presently Pride came up to offer his adieux.

"What are your plans?" he asked.

"I am going abroad at once," Samara confided.  "I am going to live
in the most beautiful country I know; grow olives and grapes, farm
a little, read a little, write a little.  After all, I have earned
a rest."

"What part of the world do you choose?" Pride enquired.

Samara shook his head.

"When my wine-press makes its first revolution," he replied, "and I
gather my first crop of olives, you shall know."



Chapter XVI


No person had a finer view than Samara himself of the great pageant
which transformed Moscow on the following day into a city of
amazing beauty and splendour.  He stood upon the roof of Government
House, leaning against the solid parapet, looking down upon the
great thoroughfare below, at the streets beyond, at the great dome
of the cathedral above which the bells, silent for many years, were
making clamorous music.  Every house was decked with flags, every
person in the crowded streets seemed to be carrying flowers or
waving banners.  With a grim smile he watched Trotsk, with an
escort of mounted police, pass up towards the cathedral, pushing
the people back on either side.  They stood eight or nine deep upon
the pavement--a solid phalanx, soldiers and civilians mixed
together, good-humoured, cheering at everything, festive with the
joy of a great holiday.  Samara gazed down at them a little
wistfully.  After all it was his city; it was his brain which had
made her what she was.  Those two universities, the finest in the
world, had been his conception.  The hospitals, white-fronted,
flower-begarlanded and hung with hundreds of flags, were of his
building.  It was he who had cleared out the dreaded foreign
quarter, which the Soviet Government had allowed to become a very
sewer of humanity, and erected the great warehouses there, every
one of which was filled now to the topmost storey.  It was he who,
with a mayor of his own choosing, had studied deeply the question
of civic administration, who was responsible for the wonderful
transport, the perfect sanitary system, the broadening of the
streets, the wonderful schools.  All these things had come under
his rule, almost at his instigation.  Pride was right.  It was
unconscious ingratitude.  The people had these things--they
belonged to them--all thought as to their source had passed.  Not
once for him had those cathedral bells rung out their almost
barbaric note of welcome.  Not once had any crowd, such as he saw
now, filled the streets and waited for his coming.  Blazoned upon a
hundred huge banners reared in prominent places he could read from
where he stood the amazing electoral results.  Nobody wanted
anything more to do with the government which had brought
prosperity to their doors, which had re-established them in twelve
short years amongst the nations of the world.  Nobody even thought
of these things.  There must lie somewhere engrained in the minds
of men, he reflected, a sort of craving for the pageantry of life;
to see life itself decked out with the trappings of ceremonial
usage, an unconscious survival of the delight of savage ancestors
in processions and drum-beatings.  When the time came for the
natural revulsion of sentiment, people would think of him without a
doubt, historians would praise him, they might even raise a statue
to his memory.  And in the meantime those hideous figures telling
their humiliating story of his defeat, and a crowd beside itself
with delight!

Trotsk and his men, who had ridden back, reappeared.  In the
distance, coming nearer, was a slowly-breaking wave of sound, of
rapturous welcome.  Samara felt a sudden quietness steal over him.
He had come to this place that he might fully realise and ever
afterwards forget this great blow of fate, that he might never look
upon it as in any way accidental or dubious of its import.  He was
discarded by the will of the people.  The hurt and grievousness of
his humiliation seemed to him just then as nothing compared to the
sharp pain at his heart when, from the sudden baring of heads, he
knew that the moment had arrived.  He gazed down, tense and
motionless.  The open automobile came into sight.  Inside was a
solitary figure--Nicholas Imanoff, in his prohibited uniform of
white and silver, his hand to the salute, looking to the right and
to the left--Nicholas, alone!

"I am afraid," a familiar voice said behind him, "that I have
rather spoilt the procession."

Samara turned slowly round.  He gripped the iron bar above his head
until he almost fancied that it bent in his grasp.  He stared
incredulously at this impossible vision.

"Such a beautiful gown it was they had for me to wear!" Catherine
went on.  "White, all covered with pearls, and a real Russian
head-dress.  It would have suited me wonderfully!"

"What are you doing here, like this?" he asked, and for once in his
life his voice was broken and choked.

She laughed up at him.  She was wearing the plain dark clothes and
small hat with the rather faded flower, in which he had first seen
her.  On the ground by her feet was a square black box she had just
set down.

"I am Miss Catherine Borans, from the Weltmore Typewriting Agency,"
she announced.  "You observe that I have not forgotten even the
typewriter.  Like a perfect secretary," she went on, "I have made
all the arrangements.  I have an automobile waiting at the side
entrance.  The streets at the back are absolutely empty.  Your bag
is packed and in the car with mine.  We have just twenty minutes to
catch the train."

"Where to?" he asked, a little dazed.

"The perfect secretary," she whispered, with a wonderful smile,
"knows exactly where to go.  A little way beyond Monaco, a little
way into the hills, a few yards down a rose-entwined avenue of
olives!  We have plenty of time, but I think we ought to go!"

Nicholas Imanoff was mounting the steps of the cathedral.  The
bells, which had ceased for a moment or two, suddenly pealed out in
their wildest clamour.

"For us," she murmured, her arms stealing out towards him.  "Wasn't
it wonderful for that to happen just as you are going to kiss me!"



THE END



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