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The Angel Of The Revolution George Chetwynd Griffith

The Story Of The Master

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That evening, when the lamps were lit and the curtains drawn in the library at Alanmere, in the same room in which Tremayne had seen the Vision of Armageddon, Natas told the story of Israel di Murska, the Jewish Hungarian merchant, and of Sylvia Penarth, the beautiful English wife whom he had loved better than his own faith and people, and how she had been taken from him to suffer a fate which had now been avenged as no human wrongs had ever been before.

"Twenty-five years ago," he began, gazing dreamily into the great fire of pine-logs, round the hearth of which he and his listeners were sitting, "I, who am now an almost helpless, half-mutilated cripple, was a strong, active man, in the early vigour of manhood, rich, respected, happy, and prosperous even beyond the average of earthly good fortune.

"I was a merchant in London, and I had inherited a large fortune from my father, which I had more than doubled by successful trading. I was married to an English wife, a woman whose grace and beauty are faithfully reflected in her daughter"--

As Natas said this, the fierce light that had begun to shine in his eyes softened, and the hard ring left his voice, and for a little space he spoke in gentler tones, until sterner memories came and hardened them again.

"I will not deny that I bought her with my gold and fair promises of a life of ease and luxury. But that is done every day in the world in which I then lived, and I only did as my Christian neighbours about me did. Yet I loved my beautiful Christian wife very dearly,--more dearly even than my people and my ancient faith,--or I should not have married her.

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"When Natasha was two years old the black pall of desolation fell suddenly on our lives, and blasted our great happiness with a misery so utter and complete that we, who were wont to count ourselves among the fortunate ones of the earth, were cast down so low that the beggar at our doors might have looked down upon us.

"It was through no fault of mine or hers, nor through any circumstance over which either of us had any control, that we fell from our serene estate. On the contrary, it was through a work of pure mercy, intended for the relief of those of our people who were groaning under the pitiless despotism of Russian officialism and superstition, that I fell, as so many thousands of my race have fallen, into that abyss of nameless misery and degradation that Russian hands have dug for the innocent in the ghastly solitudes of Siberia, and, without knowing it, dragged my sweet and loving wife into it after me.

"It came about in this wise.

"I had a large business connection in Russia, and at a time when all Europe was ringing with the story of the persecution of the Russian Jews, I, at the earnest request of a committee of the leading Jews in London, undertook a mission to St. Petersburg, to bring their sufferings, if possible, under the direct notice of the Tsar, and to obtain his consent to a scheme for the payment of a general indemnity, subscribed to by all the wealthy Jews of the world, which should secure them against persecution and official tyranny until they could be gradually and completely removed from Russia.

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The Angel Of The Revolution
George Chetwynd Griffith

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