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The Angel Of The Revolution George Chetwynd Griffith

The Story Of The Master

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"I could not believe the official story, for the search along the Siberian road had been too complete not to have revealed evidences of the catastrophe of which it told when the snows melted, and none such were ever found.

"At length one night, just as I was going to bed, I was told that a man who would not give his name insisted on seeing me on business that he would tell no one but myself. All that he would say was that he came from Russia. That was enough. I ordered him to be admitted.

"He was a stranger, ragged and careworn, and his face was stamped with the look of sullen, unspeakable misery that men's faces only wear in one part of the world.

"'You are from Siberia,' I said, stretching out my hand to him. 'Welcome, fellow-sufferer! Have you news for me?'

"'Yes, I am from Siberia,' he replied, taking my hand; 'an escaped Nihilist convict from the mines. I have been four years getting from Kara to London, else you should have had my news sooner. I fear it is sad enough, but what else could you expect from the Russian prison-land? Here it is.'

"As he spoke, he gave me an envelope, soiled and stained with long travel, and my heart stood still as I recognised in the blurred address the handwriting of my long-lost wife.

"With trembling fingers I opened it, and through my tears I read a letter that my dear one had written to me on her deathbed four years before.

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"It has lain next my heart ever since, and every word is burnt into my brain, to stand there against the day of vengeance. But I have never told their full tale of shame and woe to mortal ears, nor ever can.

"Let it suffice to say that my wife was beautiful with a beauty that is rare among the daughters of men; that a woman's honour is held as cheaply in the wildernesses of Siberia as is the life of a man who is a convict.

"The official story of her death was false--false as are all the ten thousand other lies that have come out of that abode of oppression and misery, and she whom I mourned would have been well-favoured of heaven if she had died in the snowdrifts, as they said she did, rather than in the shame and misery to which her brutal destroyer brought her.

"He was an official of high rank, and he had had the power to cover his crime from the knowledge of his superiors in St. Petersburg.

"If it was ever known, it was hushed up for fear of the trouble that it would have brought to his masters; but two years later he visited Paris, and was found one morning in bed with a dagger in his black heart, and across his face the mark that told that he had died by order of the Nihilist Executive.

"When I read those awful tidings from the grave, sorrow became quenchless rage, and despair was swallowed up in revenge. I joined the Brotherhood, and thenceforth placed a great portion of my wealth at their disposal. I rose in their councils till I commanded their whole organisation. No brain was so subtle as mine in planning schemes of revenge upon the oppressor, or of relief for the victims of his tyranny.

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The Angel Of The Revolution
George Chetwynd Griffith

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