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The Angel Of The Revolution George Chetwynd Griffith

For Life Or Death

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No time had ever seemed so long to Colston as did the hour and a half which passed after the departure of Soudeikin until his return. He would have given anything to have accompanied him to the station, but it would have been so very unwise to have incurred the risk of being questioned, and perhaps obliged to show the passport that Soudeikin was to use, that he controlled his impatience as best he could, and let events take their course.

At length, when he had looked at his watch for the fiftieth time, and found that it indicated nearly half-past eleven, there was a heavy knock at the door. As it opened, Colston heard a rattle of arms and a clinking of chains. Then there was a sound of gruff guttural voices in the entrance-hall, and the next moment the door of the room was thrown open, and Soudeikin walked in, followed by a young man in the uniform of a lieutenant of the line, and after them came two soldiers, to one of whom was handcuffed the Princess Ornovski, and to the other Natasha.

Shocked as he was at the pitiable change that had taken place in the appearance of the two prisoners since he had last seen them in freedom, Colston was far too well trained in the school of conspiracy to let the slightest sign of surprise or recognition escape him.

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He and Ivan rose as the party entered, greeted Soudeikin and saluted the officer, hardly glancing at the two pale, haggard women in their rough grey shapeless gowns and hoods as they stood beside the men to whom they were chained.

As the officer returned Colston's salute he turned to Soudeikin and said civilly enough--

"I did not know you had another guest. I hope we shall not overcrowd you."

"By no means," replied the commissioner, waving his hand toward Colston as he spoke. "This is only my nephew, Ernst Vronski, who is staying with me for a day or two on his way through to Nizhni Novgorod with his furs, and that is his servant, Ivan Arkavitch. You need not be uneasy. I have plenty of rooms, as I live almost alone, and I have set apart one for the prisoners which I think will satisfy you in every way. Would it please you to come and see it?"

"Yes, we will go now and get them put in safety for the night, if you will lead the way."

As the party left the room Colston caught one swift glance from Natasha which told him that she understood his presence in the house fully, and he felt that, despite her miserable position, he had an ally in her who could be depended upon.

The officer carefully examined the room which had been provided for the two prisoners, tried the heavy shutters with which the windows were closed, and took from Soudeikin the keys of the padlocks to the bars which ran across them. He then directed the prisoners to be released from their handcuffs and locked them in the room, stationing one of the soldiers at the door and sending the other to patrol the back of the house from which the two windows of the room looked out.

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The Angel Of The Revolution
George Chetwynd Griffith

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