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The Angel Of The Revolution George Chetwynd Griffith

The Judgment Of Natas

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There was a quick rustling sound, mingled with the clink of steel, as the two grey lines stiffened up to attention. Twelve commanders of divisions marched with drawn swords down to the end of the nave, a few rapid orders were given, and then they returned heading two double files of Federation guards, between which, handcuffed like common felons, walked the once mighty Tsar and the ministers of his now departed tyranny.

The footsteps of the soldiers and their captives rang clearly upon the stones in the ominous breathless silence which greeted their appearance. The fallen Autocrat and his servants walked with downcast heads, like men in a dream, for to them it was a dream, this sudden and incomprehensible catastrophe which had overwhelmed them in the very hour of victory and on the threshold of the conquest of the world. Three days ago they had believed themselves conquerors, with the world at their feet; now they were being marched, guarded and in shackles, to a tribunal which acknowledged no law but its own, and from whose decision there was no appeal. Truly it was a dream, such a dream of disaster and calamity as no earthly despot had ever dreamt before.

Four paces from the table they were halted, the Tsar in the centre, facing his unknown judge, and his servants on either side of him. He recognised Natasha, Anna Ornovski, Arnold, and Tremayne, but the recognition only added to his bewilderment.

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There was a slight flush on the face of Natas, and an angry gleam in his dark magnetic eyes, as he watched his captives approach; but when he spoke his tones were calm and passionless, the tones of the conqueror and the judge, rather than of the deeply injured man and a personal enemy. As the prisoners were halted in front of the table, and the rifle-butts of the guards rang sharply on the stone pavement, so deep a hush fell upon the vast throng in the Cathedral, that men seemed to hold their breath rather than break it until the Master of the Terror began to speak.

"Alexander Romanoff, late Tsar of the Russias, and now prisoner of the Executive of the Brotherhood of Freedom, otherwise known to you as the Terrorists--you have been brought here with your advisers and the ministers of your tyranny that your crimes may be recounted in the presence of this congregation, and to receive sentence of such punishment as it is possible for human justice to mete out to you"--

"I deny both your justice and your right to judge. It is you who are the criminals, conspirators, and enemies of Society. I am a crowned king, and above all earthly laws"--

Before he could say any more two bayonets crossed in front of him with a sharp clash, and he was instantly thrust back into his place.

"Silence!" said Natas, in a tone of such stern command that even he instinctively obeyed. "As for our justice, let that be decided between you and me when we stand before a more awful tribunal than this. My right to judge even a crowned king who has no longer a crown, rests, as your own authority and that of all earthly rulers has ever done, upon the power to enforce my sentence, and I can and will enforce it upon you, you heir of a usurping murderess, whose throne was founded in blood and supported by the bayonets of her hired assassins. You have appealed to the arbitration of battle, and it has decided against you; you must therefore abide by its decision.

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The Angel Of The Revolution
George Chetwynd Griffith

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