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The Angel Of The Revolution George Chetwynd Griffith

At The Eleventh Hour

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"God help me! What am I to do?"

The words broke from him like a cry of physical pain, and ended in a sob, and for all answer there was the silence of the room and the inarticulate murmur of the streets below coming up through the open windows. He was weak with hunger and sick with excitement, for he had lived for days on bread and cheese, and that day he had eaten nothing since the crust that had served him for breakfast. His nerves, too, were shattered by the intense strain of his final trial and triumph, and his head was getting light.

With a desperate effort he recovered himself, and the heroic resolution that had sustained him through his long struggle came to his aid again. He got up and poured some water from the ewer into a cracked cup and drank it. It refreshed him for the moment, and he poured the rest of the water over his head. That steadied his nerves and cleared his brain. He took up the model from the floor, laid it tenderly and lovingly in its usual resting-place in the chest. Then he locked the chest and sat down upon it to think the situation over.

Ten minutes later he rose to his feet and said aloud--

"It's no use. I can't think on an empty stomach. I'll go out and have one more good meal if it's the last I ever have in the world, and then perhaps some ideas will come."

So saying, he took down his hat, buttoned his shabby velveteen coat to conceal his lack of a waistcoat, and went out, locking the door behind him as he went.

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Five minutes' walk brought him to the Blackfriars Road, and then he turned towards the river and crossed the bridge just as the motley stream of city workers was crossing it in the opposite direction on their homeward journey.

At Ludgate Circus he went into an eating-house and fared sumptuously on a plate of beef, some bread and butter, and a pint mug of coffee. As he was eating a paper-boy came in and laid an Echo on the table at which he was sitting. He took it up mechanically, and ran his eye carelessly over the columns. He was in no humour to be interested by the tattle of an evening paper, but in a paragraph under the heading of Foreign News a once familiar name caught his eye, and he read the paragraph through. It ran as follows:--

    Railway Outrage In Russia.

    When the Berlin-Petersburg express stopped last night at Kovno, the     first stop after passing the Russian frontier, a shocking discovery was     made in the smoking compartment of the palace car which has been on the     train for the last few months. Colonel Dornovitch, of the Imperial     Police, who is understood to have been on his return journey from a     secret mission to Paris, was found stabbed to the heart and quite dead.     In the centre of the forehead were two short straight cuts in the form     of a T reaching to the bone. Not long ago Colonel Dornovitch was     instrumental in unearthing a formidable Nihilist conspiracy, in     connection with which over fifty men and women of various social ranks     were exiled for life to Siberia. The whole affair is wrapped in the     deepest mystery the only clue in the hands of the police being the fact     that the cross cut on the forehead of the victim indicates that the     crime is the work not of the Nihilists proper, but of that unknown and     mysterious society usually alluded to as the Terrorists, not one of whom     has ever been seen save in his crimes. How the assassin managed to enter     and leave the car unperceived while the train was going at full speed is     an apparently insoluble riddle. Saving the victim and the attendants the     only passengers in the car who had not retired to rest were another     officer in the Russian service and Lord Alanmere, who was travelling to     St. Petersburg to resume, after leave of absence, the duties of the     Secretaryship to the British Embassy, to which he was appointed some two     years ago.

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The Angel Of The Revolution
George Chetwynd Griffith

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