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The Angel Of The Revolution George Chetwynd Griffith

Learning The Part

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"So far as the work is concerned, of course, I undertake it willingly," said Arnold, as the Princess stopped speaking. "But it hardly seems to me to be right that I should take even the Tsar's money under such circumstances. To tell you the truth, it looks to me rather uncomfortably like false pretences."

Again Natasha's eyes flashed approval across the table, but nevertheless she said--

"You seem to forget, my friend, that we are at war with the Tsar, and all's fair in--in love and war. Besides, if you have any scruples about keeping the fee for your professional services--which, after all, you will render as honestly as though it were the merest matter of business--you can put it into the treasury, and so ease your conscience. Remember, too," she went on more seriously, "how the enormous wealth of this same Tsar has swollen by the confiscation of fortunes whose possessors had committed no other crime than becoming obnoxious to the corrupt bureaucracy."

"I will take the fee if I fairly earn it, Miss Darrel," replied Arnold, returning the glance as he spoke, "and it shall be my first contribution to the treasury of the Brotherhood."

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"Spoken like a sensible man," chimed in the Princess. " After all, it is no worse than spoiling the Egyptians, and you have scriptural authority for that. However, you can do as you like with his Majesty's money when you get it. The main fact is that you have the opportunity of going to earn it, and that Colonel Martinov is coming here to tea this afternoon to bring our passports, specially authorising us to travel without customs examination or any kind of questioning to any part of the Tsar's dominions, and that, I can assure you, is a very exceptional honour indeed."

"Who did you say? Martinov? Is that the Colonel Martinov who is the director of the secret police here?" asked Colston hurriedly.

"Yes," replied the Princess, "the same. Why do you ask?"

"Because," said Colston quietly, "he received the sentence of death nearly a month ago, and to-morrow night he will be executed, unless there is some accident. It was he who stood with the governor of Brovno in the prison-yard and watched Radna Michaelis flogged by the soldiers. I received news this morning that the arrangements are complete, and that the sentence will be carried out to-morrow night."

"Yes, that is so," added Natasha, as Colston ceased speaking. "Everything is settled. It is therefore well that he should do something useful before he meets his fate."

"How curious that it should just happen so!" said the Princess calmly, as she rose from the table and moved towards the door followed by Natasha.

As soon as the ladies had left the room, Colston and Arnold lit their cigarettes and chatted while they smoked over their last glass of claret. Arnold would have liked to have asked more about the coming tragedy, but something in Colston's manner restrained him; and so the conversation remained on the subject of the Russian journey until they returned to the sitting-room.

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The Angel Of The Revolution
George Chetwynd Griffith

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