Rescuing the Czar by James P. Smythe

Produced by Leah Moser and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team. RESCUING THE CZAR Two authentic Diaries arranged and translated by JAMES P. SMYTHE, A.M., Ph.D. THIRD EDITION 1920 PART ONE RESCUING THE CZAR FOREWORD by W.E. Aughinbaugh, M.D., LL.B., LL.M. Is the former Czar and his Imperial family still alive? There are millions of people
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  • 1920
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Produced by Leah Moser and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team.


Two authentic Diaries arranged and translated









W.E. Aughinbaugh, M.D., LL.B., LL.M.

Is the former Czar and his Imperial family still alive? There are millions of people in Europe and America who are asking this question.

European governments have considered the question of sufficient interest to justify the investigation by official bodies of the alleged extinction of this ancient Royal Line. Millions have been expended for that purpose. Commissions have pretended to investigate the subject _after_ the event. Volumes have been returned of a speculative nature to authenticate a mysterious _disappearance_ that has never been explained.

April 5; the Universal Service carried a cable from Paris reading: “Czar Nicholas and all members of the Imperial family of Russia are still alive, according to M. Lassies, former member of the Chamber of Deputies, who has just returned from a mission to Russia.” This was several weeks after the manuscript of the following account of the _Czar’s Escape_ was in my possession.[A] Yet this confirmation of the manuscript has not sufficiently overcome the universally persistent doubt that has grown out of many previous imposing reports.

In certain Royal quarters the anxiety to disseminate the “reports” of their Commissions is too apparent to authorize a judicial mind to accept their speculative guesswork as convincing evidence of a legal _corpus delicti_ when no identified bodies have ever been produced. This eagerness to convince the world by substituting a mere _disappearance_, or the lack of evidence, for positive proof of the Royal assassination raises very naturally the presumption that certain circles are more interested in misleading than in satisfying the public mind.

To those schooled in the methods and objects of international propaganda during the Great War it is evident that, in a period of revolution, when thrones and dynasties become unpopular within the area of hostility and discontent, the adherents of Royalty may not be unwilling to appease the demand for vengeance by some theatrical display of meeting it with a pretense or an artifice until the passions of the populace have subsided and sober toleration resumes its sway over the sated revolutionary mind.

That such may be the fact will seem convincing from a careful study of the incidents narrated in the following rudimentary story of “Rescuing the Czar.” In a technical sense it is not a story. Nevertheless, while partaking of the nature of a simple diary, it reads like a romance of thrilling adventure upon which a skilful novelist may easily erect a story of permanent interest and universal appeal. But it is this very lack of art–this indifference to accomplished technique–that makes “Rescuing the Czar” so interesting and so convincing a rebuttal of the Royal Executioners’ Case.

There have been many periods in the progress of society when such an original piece of work as “Rescuing the Czar” would have been welcomed by the historian of serious events. The preservation, discovery and the piecing together of the various scraps of first-hand information by the actual participants in the tragic scenes narrated in these diaries, by the compiler of this book represent a work of so discriminating a judgment that its contribution to the historical wealth of the period involved will assume an increasing, if not a prophetic, value as time goes on, either to explain the mystery or authenticate the evidence revealed. While apparently no connection is evident between the two authors of the First and Second Parts of “Rescuing the _Czar_,” the discriminating reader will be impressed by the independent way each of them, operating unconsciously of the other, sustains the manifest conclusion that both are recording international secrets that never were intended for the public eye.

Imbedded in the national consciousness of many European States the historian finds everywhere the shadowy outlines of “nobility” and “aristocracy” delineated on the surface of traditionary pretense and political desire. It forms the inheritance of distributive power in nations ascending from monarchial institutions to theoretical republics or pseudo-democracies, and it imparts a touch of pathos to the lingering hope of Royalty that humanity may some day welcome its return to reverence and power. It forms the superstructure on which the crumbling column of aristocracy sustains its capital pretensions amid the ruins of privileged exemption from the universal law of change. Consequently the reader will not be surprised nor much alarmed when encountering its subterranean methods depicted in these pages. They will merely fortify the accepted impression among students of events that when Time binds up the wounds of Revolutionary Russia the world will discover an Agrarian Democracy, instead of a Soviet Communism or Romanoff Empire, emerging from the cosmos of organized disorder in that land. This seems to be the trend of thought behind “Rescuing the Czar.” Yet it does not conceal a fundamental inclination to sympathize with every rank that suffers in this onward sweep of power. Royalty and Rags, throughout these pages, find many mourners over the sacrifices each has made to reconcile the eternal conflict between poverty and pomp. In the abysmal void between the disappearing star and the aspiring glowworm men tramp upon, there seems to be sufficient latitude for the play of gratitude or grief. A Napoleon exiled by the French or a Ney shot down by Frenchmen is unthinkable today. In like manner, when the revolutionary passions of Russia have subsided, there may be men and women of the humblest estate who will wonder how it happened that their Emperor, whose darkest sin, apparently, was loyalty to Russia, could have been murdered by their countrymen in cold blood.

It will never be believed.

In reflecting on the experiments of their Revolution, finding much to be admired and more to be condemned, they will not accept without resentment an accusation from posterity that they lacked both gratitude and pity when the test of national manhood came. In exculpation of such an imputation they will doubtless reverence the tradition of a House that fell only with the ruins of their native land. Viewing as they may the fragments of their once majestic Empire annexed to alien States in compensation of successful perfidy and neglect, they will lament the lot of Nicholas II while reflecting on their fate. If their democracy shall survive their own self-amputation, the lightness of their governmental burdens will stimulate the flow of mercy through their social institutions and direct their thoughts toward pity for the useless sacrifice.

In simple justice, therefore, “Rescuing the Czar” is offered in extenuation of this doubtful charge against the entire Russian race. For nothing is better calculated to sanctify a martyrdom and make a race abhorred than a belief in its injustice. Nothing is more potent to dissolve a race and scatter its suspected members from the altar of their fathers than the fable of their unrepentant hostility to the cry of Mercy from the sacrificial Ikon. Nothing so quickly exposes their abandoned fields to the tramp of hostile feet and the subjugation of their soil. Ambitious rivalry has no better ally than unexplained suspicion.

If “Rescuing the Czar” does no more than set at rest the _fable_ of the “Romanoff Execution,” it will have done its work by characterizing the source and methods and objects of its inspiration. If it raises the presumption of generosity in quarters generally subject to suspicion, it will be equally praiseworthy for expelling the darkness that has always hovered around Imperial thrones. If it does nothing but portray the dignified composure of Russian womanhood in the presence of unspeakable affronts, it will have justified its publication by adding to the diadem of virtue a few more jewels to glorify the crest of motherhood. If it performs no other service than to place upon the pale face of tragic possibility the red-pink blush of romantic probabilities, it will have justified its presence in the society of the learned by the sincerity of its purpose and the candor of its appeal to the conscience of the world.

New York, 1920.

[Footnote A: February 20, 1920]




The ice was breaking up along the river Neva, in 1917. At the Winter Palace, the ladies were rejoicing over the good news. The Czar in the field was reorganizing his dismembered armies. America was severing diplomatic relations with the Central Powers. The Asquith Ministry had dissolved and Lloyd-George was hurling his dynamic personality into organizing Victory for the Allied forces in the field. Kut-el-Amara had fallen to the British–Bagdad had been taken–the Crescent was fleeing before the Cross of Russia–the Grand Duke was driving the Turk from Trebizond. Even Hindenburg was retiring along the Western Front–France with unexampled gallantry was holding back the Juggernaut–America was getting mad and rolling up its sleeves.

The women at the palace did not disguise their happiness over the cheerful events that heralded the approach of Victory. The evening star that poured down its steel-blue rays upon the crosses of St. Isaac’s presaged to their encouraged fancies the early dawn of peace. Yet the chilly wind that whistled round their dull-red household was laden with a frosty air that blew from official regions and “froze the genial current of their souls.” The icy glances of ambitious princelings, reflecting back the sinister sullenness of designing ministers, fell like a spectral gloom upon their happy hearts. A hollow roar rolled down the Nevskii Prospekt–a guard burst into the palace and put the women under arrest. The pent-up Revolution at last had burst–anarchy howled around the capital–the isolated Czar was captive, and plotting princelings joined hands with puny lawyers to browbeat courageous women and drive the chariot of State!

The miserable fiasco of a delirious Revolution went careering through the giddy maze of treachery and madness until a frenzied wave of rapine and disorder swept all the noblewomen of the Imperial household into a barricaded fortress around which lust and inebriety held unsated and remorseless vigil for the prize. (See Part II: Tumen.)

Among these prisoners of State were five women who realized that the Power which had organized disorder as a feature of its military strategy had also honeycombed the Army, the Navy and the State with its agencies of pillage and so undermined the public conscience that their purity and virtue, more than their jewels and fortune, became an open challenge to the vanity of mob lust.

The younger of these women in their unsullied maidenhood looked longingly and unsuspectingly in the direction of Siberia. They were learning by degrees that the semblance of freedom which offered a pathway to escape was nothing but a strategem employed by pretended friends to entrap them into more cruel and ruthless hands. On every side loomed the evidence of their danger. The villainous stares of foreign interlopers, the ribald jests of guards, the furtive glances of the envious, the scowls of the emancipated underling, the profanity of the domineering agitator who denounced respectability and clamored for possession of the girls,–no moment of their lives was free from ugly threats; no retreat, save the wild jungle or the mountains, offered any liberation from the immodest glare of cruel, licentious eyes. (See Part II: Tobolsk.)

The eldest of the girls was scarcely twenty-two. Like her mother, she was erect and stately and somewhat saddened by the hostile experiences through which the family had just passed. The youngest was a chummy little creature of sixteen years who did not conceal her admiration for her next elder sister, whose courage seemed unfailing through all the trying hours. The next eldest sister, with her little younger brother, was openly planning to outwit the guard and escape to the Siberian wilds. It was doubtless her undisguised activity that ultimately betrayed the Royal prisoners into the unhappy tangle that beset their future lives.

From one camp to another they were carted off like cattle and never for a moment permitted to forget that, if they ever reached a place of safety, they would have to pay the price. Along the frozen pathway of their weary eastern journey there did come, here and there, some slender little byways that offered an escape. Whenever they approached these places and estimated the perils, they found no one to confide in–there were none that they could trust. Treason, like a contagion, lurked in smiles as well as scowls about them, and even their steadfast trust in the Invisible Diplomacy of European Royalty was gradually yielding in their hearts to the dissolving acid of despair. (See Part II: Tobolsk.)

From the conflicting rumors that reached them they fully realized that it was the politician in all countries who ignorantly obstructed their relief. The ferocious and misleading propaganda employed to fanaticize the populace as an element of military strategy seemed to sweep its own authors from their feet and drag the prisoners through many months of torture toward a time and place set for their execution by other politicians in the drunken stupor of their power. (See Part II: Tobolsk.)

Under the agitated surface of this tidal wave of fanaticism that threatened to engulf the Royal prisoners there were a few men in Europe and America, as well as in India and Thibet, who were slowly converging in the direction of the victims with a _phrase upon their lips_ that none but Royalty and themselves were privileged to use. It was that ancient secret code transmitted by tradition to the followers of a sturdy Tyrian king. It was made use of by Lycurgus, as well as by Solomon and Justinian; and it was again employed by the partisans of Louis XVIII to save the House of Bourbon. It is that mystic code which binds Royalty together and is given only to those whom Royalty may trust. That ancient code meant freedom if it reached the prisoners in time! It rested with these silent men to pass the scrutiny of a million eyes to liberate the victims from the fury of the mob.

Such a rescue, as time swept by, became nothing but a slender hope with any of the women. They began to realize that their blood would not very greatly shock the nerves of statesmen who had become accustomed to the daily cataract that poured down upon the soil of Europe. They felt abandoned by the diplomats. Their only friends were busy in the red work of war. One chance alone remained. Soldiers might be deceived by men disguised as comrades. The Secret Service might overlook the hysterical entertainers who fluttered under the mask of charitable workers and skipped across forbidden lines protected by a Cross. This was the only possibility, this the phantom hope that stood trembling on the brink of the prisoners’ abysmal fear. Thus the sight of a Red Cross driver or an English uniform in the midst of their disaster became a welcome incident in the lives of these affronted women. The appearance of either seemed to carry to the prisoners a spirit of encouragement and reflect a ray of mercy into the dark corners of their hearts. They indulged the hope that some of those foreign uniforms might conceal trustworthy friends. And they recognized a basis for such a hope in the mystifying movements of one of those uniforms that met their notice day by day. It was near them at the palace when they were thrown upon a maddened world. They saw it following onward as they passed through pathless wilds. They could see it hovering near them on that last historic night. They learned about its maneuvers in the morning as it moved among the silent rooms of the pretty mansard cottage that had witnessed their withdrawal from the vision of historical events,–how it had paused to scan without emotion the small blood stain on the floor–how an agitated censor informed the credulous that the prisoners had been murdered in cold blood! Thus they learned that the world had heard with skepticism that, so far as history and international politicians were affected, their _seven lives had been, technically, blotted out_! (See Part II: Petrograd–Tumen–Tobolsk.)

Possibly the Prisoners of Tobolsk may have been willing to suffer what is termed a “technical death” in diplomatic circles in order to elude the hungry bloodhounds of the Revolution. They may have welcomed the many opportunities such an event would furnish to read their own obituary in the letters and official documents which treated of their tragic fate. Who knows? They certainly possessed a saving sense of humor or they would never have left behind them at Ekaterinburg so many little reminders of the tragic romance to which calm investigation hereafter will give birth. For instance, there are a couple of diaries that some men must have kept. Of their existence it seems certain that some of the prisoners knew. Why and just how the hitherto profound State secrets narrated in these diaries come now to light is suggested by a simple little letter that raises the inquiry, “Did the Imperial Russian family escape?”

The letter that started this investigation is little different from others one receives from friends traveling in the Orient. By itself it does not clearly identify the family it describes; but, when the scene it pictures is coupled with the events narrated in the purloined diaries which the hands of some invisible diplomats _have_ left behind, the student of the Russian Revolution will marvel at the skill with which some other Royal hands untied the knot of Fate.



There may be those in official circles who will suggest that a case of mistaken identity is exhibited in the following quotation from the letter. “It is in a sort of arboreal enclosure, with all sorts of flowers and vigorous vegetation that characterizes this region,” the letter reads. “Behind the ivy-covered wall that extends around the gardens and shuts out all intruders, I got a glimpse of that man through the heavy iron gate. He was smooth-shaven, slightly drooped, sprinkled with gray and with a scar upon his forehead near the roots of his hair–a little to one side. He was twirling a pruning knife in his left hand and speaking in _English_ to a boy who scampered up to him ahead of four beautiful girls and a very dignified woman moving leisurely over the lawn in the direction of the gate.

“When the women reached the man’s side they paused for a moment and asked a few questions in _Russian_. He seemed to be listening very attentively and answering only in monosyllables.

“Then I noticed the elder of the women unfold a well-known London newspaper and move closer to his side. They began glancing over its pages together and seemed to be deeply moved by an article they, apparently, were reading as they walked slowly toward the gate. Finally, when they were about ten feet from where I stood concealed behind one of the massive palms, the man raised his head from the page and, looking earnestly into the woman’s eyes, exclaimed in a skeptical tone: ‘_Il n’aurait jamais cru le fait si ces messieurs n’avaient pu lui jurer L’avoir vu!… Tout ce que j’ai predit!… Les faux nobles,–les plagiaires_!’ which means in English, “He couldn’t have believed the thing unless these gentlemen had sworn they witnessed it!… All that I predicted!… The sham nobles!… the stealing authors!” The comment set me thinking.

“Who _is_ he? I asked myself. Inside of five minutes I had heard him speak in English, in Russian and in French! I am certain that he is not a Frenchman,–although his accent would have proclaimed him a native of the Avenue des Champs Elysees. He had a Danish countenance, the eyes of English Royalty and the forehead of an early Christian martyr.

“No one I have talked to on the island seems certain of his identity. Some take the view that he is a retired millionaire, judging from the refined simplicity of his family and the strict guard the Government has furnished to protect his undisturbed retirement. Others hint that he may be, possibly, some very high dignitary, judging from the almost Royal homage that some people in the city pay to his person and family.

“The only reliable information I got about him was that he arrived upon the island aboard a man-o’-war accompanied by one of the richest tea merchants in the Empire. He declines all membership in any of the clubs, apparently satisfied to spend the time among his orchids and the lovely white-robed debutantes I saw blooming in that fascinating garden.

“Naturally I was very curious about the identity of this secluded family. But the only information given out about them by the chivalrous tea merchant or the Government officials is simply, ‘Oh, the family have friends in India and are living in retirement.'”

One would be very bold to say, after reading the foregoing, that the personages described were the same people who had been driven out of the Winter Palace upon the ebb-tide of their Imperial splendor a few months before. Yet a long and somewhat intimate interest in the underground diplomacy of the world will lead one thus engaged to piece together stray bits of gossip that come from different sources to check up the information that some others may possess. In this way will the letter of an American who was held incommunicado at Geneva by the Swiss Government in the latter part of 1919, be found exceedingly persuasive in the process of reconstructing the tragic comedy which struts around the vacant Russian throne. The American was en route to Turkestan under proper credentials from the United States; yet there were certain powerful combinations sufficiently interested in his mission to cause his imprisonment for a time sufficiently lengthy to enable their emissaries to precede him beyond the Caspian, where other secret combinations were incubating that American foreign traders would have given much to understand.

It was during this period of restraint that the American, whose name we will call Fox, wrote to a friend in the United States: “You have often heard me speak of my brother who was in Turkestan when the Russian Revolution burst upon the world. He is now resting in Tasmania after going through one of the most remarkable experiences ever given to an ordinary _tea merchant_ intrusted with some secrets of _the greatest land monopoly in the world_. You may call it a fairy tale; and if you did not know me as a business man of ordinary sense, I should hesitate to intimate that Nicholas R—- and all the family are quite well, I thank you, not a million miles distant from my brother.”

Fox had learned from his experience at Geneva that governments are sometimes cajoled by diplomatic pressure to do undreamed-of things. The dispatch of an expeditionary force to Siberia by the United States without a declaration of war against the Revolutionists struck him as an instance of this kind, and he knew his correspondent to be sufficiently versed in the underground politics of Europe to look for a connection between some member of that expedition and the subject mentioned in the two foregoing letters. This connection was innocently revealed by a newspaper report from a Western city concerning a wounded soldier who had recently returned to an American Army hospital. The particular name being given, it was easy enough for Fox’s correspondent to meet the soldier on some errand of mercy and to obtain the revelations that are hereinafter made.

The soldier was a young commissioned officer who was having an artificial jaw supplied to replace the one shot off in a Bolshevik encounter. He had greatly recovered when the call was made and an opening naturally presented for the soldier to recount the part he played in the adventure of his country in the Revolutionary drama of that hour.

“I’m as certain as I’m living,” the wounded soldier said, “that a Bolshevik is as ‘nutty’ as a rabbit. The fellow I had by the neck before my lights went out was putting up a holler, in German, and claiming to be a personal friend of some personal friend of the missing Czar. Before he finally passed in his chips he gave me a bundle of paper _diaries_ he had stolen down in China, and he asked me to return them to their rightful owner so that he might die without a sin upon his conscience. Honestly, that chap was dead in earnest in this matter of his conscience. I took the stuff, of course; but I never thought about them until the other day. Since then they seem to haunt me. I wonder if you’d mind looking them over if the nurse’d get them out?”

“With pleasure,” was the reply.

The nurse brought in an old leather bag, from which the Captain extracted two begrimed and blood-smeared rolls written in a very small but strong and vigorous hand.

While looking over the documents in a casual way a loose leaf fell to the floor. Upon picking it up, there was found to be written on one side in bold underscored letters:

“Make no belief in the evidence that was manufactured to satisfy some bloodthirsty men in Russia. What I have seen with my own eyes I know is true. For the sake of Russia I stoled these papers from the man come from the West who was with them all the way from ‘Yekaterinburg to Chunking. What he write is true.


“That’s his name,” the Captain said, “and if you don’t find that he was as crazy as a bedbug I’ll say I’m General Graves.”

“This diary seems to be written in very good English.”

“Yes,” said the Captain, “all those fellows keep one. They’re like the Germans–give ’em a pencil and a piece of paper and they’ll scribble all day.”

“Did he say who wrote this?”

“No; he cashed in, as I told you; but you’ll see the name of Fox here and there through the diary that’s written in the small hand.”

“_Fox_–who was ‘Fox’?”

“Search me! Some Johnny, I suppose.”

“May I take these with me?”

“Sure thing! I’ll make you a present of ’em. All I ask is, if you find out whether that fellow ‘Fox’ grabs the peacherino from the Metropole or the one called ‘Maria’ you’ll send me an invitation.”

The bargain was struck. Then the question was asked: “Any idea who wrote this diary–the one written in a quick running hand?’

“Sounds like some fellow with a grouch against Kerensky and Lvov. I know enough Russian to make out that much–“

“Evidently one of the Revolutionary officials?”

“Seems so,” the Captain said. “You’ll notice what he has to say about the mixup with the Russian Royal family at Tobolsk and Tumen. There’s a lot of our fellows who don’t take any stock in that assassination business at ‘Katerinburg.”

“I began to read: ‘I had walked from Euston Station to Madame Tussaud’s, when the messenger jumped from his motorcycle and rushed up to me–‘ Your diarist starts out in London, I see.”

“Yes, he is some globe trotter–“

“‘”Go to Birdcage and walk slowly back to Queen Victoria Memorial. As you pass Buckingham, observe the heavily veiled lady wearing white lace wristlets who will follow on behind. Let her overtake you. If she utters _the correct phrase_, go with her at once to Admiralty Arch and follow the Life Guard to the War Office. Meet number … there; receive a small orange-colored packet, _wear the shirt he gives you_, and cross the Channel at once”‘–I see! From Buckingham Palace to the War Office; sounds interesting.”

“It is; that fellow is all there!” complimented the Captain.

“‘The meeting at the _Huis ten-Bosch_ points to Wilhelmstrasse. Nothing can be done here. They suspect Downing Street.’–Ah, at The Hague, and at the _ten-Bosch_ too, where the Czar and Andrew Carnegie held their first Peace Conference in 1899; this looks significant!”

“Keep going,” said the Captain; “that fellow’s got ‘The Man in the Iron Mask’ brushed off the map.”

“Here is something singular about Berlin. Your man walks through the lines like a wraith–“

“Not always. As you get into his stuff you’ll hear things sizzle.”

And thus the Imperial dead return to life through the pages of these stolen diaries.

While the temptation is great to revise the manuscript, so as to make it read more smoothly, it has been decided not to alter a line or letter. Truth will be better served by publishing what is prudent, under the complicated political circumstances of our times, _word_ for _word_ as it was written by its daring author.



For certain persuasive reasons it is deemed prudent to omit that part of the diary which details the writer’s experiences in England, Belgium and Holland. Those who recognize the incidents hereafter given will appreciate this act of censorship. The discerning reader will gain all the information necessary by following the “Invisible Diplomat” and author from Berlin to the end of the diary.

The first entry reads:

“Today I called on Count R—- at Thiergartenstrasse 23 and handed him the yellow packet. Then I went with him to the race track at Hoppegarten…. On the way out R. inquired about the incident at Buckingham and asked me if I were willing to continue the adventure…. I assured him that nothing would please me better, providing the _lady_ was good-looking…. He said that there were more than ONE lady as well as a couple of men involved in the affair…. I replied that if there were enough to go around and the men didn’t become too meddlesome, their presence wouldn’t spoil the ‘adventure.’… He assured me that the men were ‘fine fellows,’ the ladies the loveliest on earth, but the ‘adventure’ was one that might mean decapitation for me if I failed in the undertaking…. I told him that just suited me…. ‘I expect to meet Colonel Z—- S—- von T—- at the track. If he takes a liking to you he’ll invite you to Koenigergratzerstrasse for a quiet little talk,’ Count R—- replied after I had climbed up on the box with him…. We had just reached the old saddle paddock when a man saluted us in a very _knowing_ manner…. It was Colonel Z—- S—-, who put some pointed questions to me about my recent travels and my knowledge of Oriental languages…. Before returning to the hotel tonight the Colonel asked me to call on him tomorrow…. I feel that his request amounts to a positive command…. I shall call early in the morning….”

4. On the same page the following entry was made:

“There were guards everywhere when I called at K-70. Even the doorkeeper was a non-com, who took my name, entered it in a book with the precise time I called, took down his telephone, merely mentioned my name, hung up the receiver, called an orderly who conducted me through a corridor and three anterooms full of civilian clerks and finally landed me in the private office of Colonel Z—- S—-. He wore the undress uniform of the Imperial Army, greeted me pleasantly, offered me a cigar and tactfully asked: ‘Have you _positively_ made up your mind to continue in this service?’

“I wanted to know a little more fully what was required of me before answering; but he did not say. He insisted, rather, on my answering his question FIRST…. To be perfectly frank I was not anxious to commit myself unreservedly without knowing ALL he expected of me, but it sounded cowardly … so with a mental _reservation_ I finally said: ‘You don’t look like a man who would ask another to commit suicide. Go ahead! I’ve decided to take a chance.’… Colonel Z—- S—- looked me straight in the eye and said: ‘We expect you to use the same tactics that are used against you. We can’t be squeamish…. The interests at stake are too _sacred_ to allow personal considerations to affect your conduct…. You will be required to undertake a journey in the capacity of a guide…. How you make it will be left entirely to yourself … _but we expect results_…. Every resource will be placed at your disposal, but if YOU get into _trouble_ you’ll have to get yourself out without calling on us for help…. We _must not_ be known in the matter. And understand this–the assignment is dangerous from start to finish; no official help can be given you under ANY circumstances.’… To get a line on things I asked, casually, what my compensation would be…. He replied: ‘You will be allowed a regular retainer fee, an allowance for daily expenses and a _bonus_ sufficiently attractive to make the undertaking worth while, as _you_ should know.’ I thought a little while before asking, ‘When do I start?’… ‘There’s another thing,’ he said. ‘I suppose you know we _retain_ one-third of your fee for the benefit of your family in the event of any trouble.’… I merely nodded and said, ‘All right.'”

In a moment a clerk brought in a check for 400, which Colonel Z—- S—- gave me, saying: ‘This is your first month’s allowance for expenses; your retainer will be paid quarterly.’… ‘How do you KNOW I won’t swindle you?’ I asked, being a perfect _stranger_ to him. ‘I am taking my ORDERS from above,’ he answered…. ‘_Who?_’ I asked. ‘Young man!’ he thundered, ‘learn this QUICK–don’t ask questions; keep your ears and eyes open and your mouth SHUT…. _Be here_ at 10 tomorrow.’

5. The next entry of interest read as follows:

“I met Colonel Z—- S—- at 10 today. My head was not clear. Guess I had too much at Kempinsky’s last night…. A saturnalia of spending on the theory that the Allies will pay…. Even the ride in the Grunewald this morning didn’t clear the cobwebs away. I was constantly thinking of that girl at the Metropole with her long eyelashes and dimpling smile; resembles the veiled lady at Buckingham,–and I was trying to make out why she managed to occupy a seat at the next table to mine at the Admiral’s Palace an hour or two later. She seems to know some of the performers who mingled in the audience, especially the energetic dark-eyed Circe with the Greek nose, and said to be some sort of a Baroness, who so often approached my table. I wonder what the connection is between these two…. There is _certainly_ some sympathetic tie between those girls! This I know, for when I had breakfast at the Cafe Bauer, U.d.L., they were BOTH there, slightly disguised, and occupying _the same_ table!… Who is Syvorotka? Her lover?… I wonder what the game is…. Come to think about it, the titled performer of the Metropole looks like a twin sister of Marie Amelia, Countess of [Cszecheny] Chechany, a perfect composite of Juno and Venus and Hebe all rolled into one…. These enigmatical personages crowded everything else out of my mind as I walked into Colonel Z—- S—-‘s office….

“… Without any preliminaries he said, ‘Come with me!’… We entered a cab and a few minutes later I entered the Wilhelmstrasse and was in the presence of that tall, iron-gray, wiry gentleman with eyes like a searchlight and the manners of a Chesterfield. ‘Thank you, Colonel,’ he said. The Colonel sprang to attention, bowed, saluted and backed away. We were ALONE!… ‘In ten minutes,’ he said, ‘you will be conducted to another room. When you arrive advance to the middle, make a right wheel and stand at attention facing the portiere. Maintain perfect silence, answer all question,–make NO inquiries–understand?’… I was taken downstairs, along a wide corridor to a solid-oak door guarded by two sentries and an attendant in the Royal livery. The door was opened by an officer of the Erste Garde; I entered a large room, advanced to the center and faced the divided portieres of an adjoining chamber! There sat the man whose nod shook the earth!… Behind a heavy, old-fashioned desk, in a dim light, apparently absorbed in writing, sat a deeply tanned, lean-faced, blue-gray-eyed counterpart of Frederick the Great,–the very embodiment of Majesty!… Eyes that blazed in their defiant depths with a steady and consuming fire–the kind of eyes that seem to defy the world…. I stood there fully five minutes before I heard the sharp, high-pitched voice pierce through the portiere saying: ‘Adell, I will see the C—-‘… I was conducted to within six feet of the man at the desk and in the same shrill voice asked how familiar I was with Russia, with Turkestan, India, and the Far East…. My answers seemed to convince my questioner…. Handing me a note he said: ‘No one besides ourselves is to know that you are to undertake the mission outlined in that note.’ Then he sat forward abruptly, his elbows resting on the desk, his head between his hands, his eyes fixed on space…. I began to study the note…. I was dumfounded!… I had thought all along that this man was the mortal enemy of the persons this note commanded me to rescue from danger…. I could not understand HOW there could be the slightest co-operation between this man and the other great ones of the earth that note commanded me to call upon for assistance in case I should need it. It was utterly incomprehensible! Yet THERE were the directions in plain black and white…. And I could not ask a solitary question!… In the same shrill voice the man asked: ‘Have you memorized it?’ I had! It was burned into my very soul. I could not forget a syllable of it!… Without another word he took the note, struck a match and watched it curl into shapeless ashes…. Then making a quick gesture he plunged into the documents before him…. I backed away until the door closed and shut out the sight of the lonely figure enveloped in a green light, his face illuminated against the shadowy background of an underground chamber of the Foreign Office…. On the way to Friedrichstrasse depot I met that girl of the Metropole again!”



6. The next entry was:

“On the Orient Express, or what was the O.E. before the ‘_Grosse General Stab_’ took over the whole job of mixing up these schedules…. Well, well, well, the veiled lady of the Metropole and Buckingham is in trouble in the next compartment … at least so she says!… She just came into my compartment and said she had been insulted by the man who is sharing it with her…. Confound him!… BUT … Now I’ve heard of such ‘plants’ before…. While I’d like to go in there and kick the brute through the partitions I believe discretion is the better part of valor…. Let her call the guard if the case needs attention…. The guard is a reservist and I believe she _knows_ it…. Furthermore, I must be at Donaustrasse 24, Budapest, tomorrow, and meet Colonel Shuvalov at the Hotel de Paris, Belgrade, the day after…. I wonder if that petit Paris looks the same as when I met my old friend Count Arthur Zu Weringrode and Kazimir Galitzyn coquetting with Cecilia Coursan, Mlle. Balniaux and the Petite Valon at the card tables after our sparkling dinners a few years ago…. And where is that fire-eating Prince now?… He was a great friend of Grey and Churchill at Monte Carlo…. and notwithstanding that meeting in the Taunus they MUST BE friends YET…. The Monte Carlo combination HOLDS good today…. The Taunus meeting so far as Haldane and Winston Spencer were concerned was a _frame-up_ to catch Waechter and ‘His Whiskers’ (both the Admiral and the General)…. That’s where the Wilhelmstrasse FELL DOWN!… and yet I am on a mission of mercy, in behalf of one of the principal double-crossers, today!… _Must see Kovalsky at Donau 24 sure_…. Mademoiselle must take care of herself today….”

The next entry read:

“This is a great combination–Roumania is sidestepping Wilhelmstrasse…. _Greece_ is tying up with Servia, Bulgaria is likely to form a wedge between a complete coalition of these mutually hating and suspicious grafters…. Montenegro is the only honest combination in the whole bunch…. In another hour I will see Kovalsky and _astonish_ him with the news I bring.”

7. Then the following entry: “_K—- is absolutely opposed_ to taking any part in this business…. Will not raise a hand without the sanction of CHARLES…. Looks as though I’ll have to bring pressure on these despairing creatures…. They wanted the Balkans,–that was the deal in the Black Forest,–and because some one doesn’t hand it to them on a silver platter they complain of der Grosse General Stab’s neglect!… At two I get my answer…. If O.K. I’ll be in Odessa in 48 hours unless that veiled minx of the Metropole sticks a knife under my fifth rib…. Her conduct is becoming _mighty suspicious_!… Watch me give her a run for her money!”

8. Then there was this entry: “Charles refuses to see me but tells K—-_not_ to put any obstacles in my way…. this is a pretty mess!… How in the devil am I to slip through the lines with those devilish English and French officers scattered around everywhere?… If Roumania had only listened to reason!… I think that Mackinzen will be able to help me out,–I might as well ask Envir Pasha as these dervishes of Sofia to lend a hand in this affair!… Yet I _must_, simply _MUST_ be in Odessa in time to meet Vladimir K before the order of execution!… Either that–or jump into the Danube!”

9. The following entry is significant: “I have been deaf, dumb and blind for the last 24 hours! The veiled lady was responsible…. She had me kidnapped and carried out into these infernal hills, wherever they are…. Never saw them before…. Looks as if a cyclone hit them…. One can pick up enough shells and scrap iron to stock a foundry…. The trees are all shot off–nothing but stumps and slivered trees and broken wheels and boxes littered around…. Looks like SOME FIGHT had taken place in this _strong-smelling_ hopyard among these hummocks…. Apparently the hogs have been rooting up the ground all around here…. There isn’t a sign of a living thing in sight … and not a drop of water to be had!… WHO was that woman?… The Baroness, who?… Must find out more about Syvorotka.”

10. “… Been tramping all day in the direction of the rising sun…. Mud, mud, mud everywhere…. It may have been a good thing that I wrote my brother Fox at Mendocino about this trip before I set out…. If I am lost and this comes into a white man’s hands who understands America he will know what to do with it…. Hunger and thirst are delirious bed-fellows…. Seems like a hundred years since I heard that Metropole woman’s voice when they were choking me in the carriage…. She was saying, ‘Search him, search him; I know he ran away with it; it belonged to the Princess!’ Then that deep heavy voice: ‘What did it look like?’ Every word he uttered seemed to add pneumatic pressure to his grip on my neck…. ‘It was almost a light purple, the size of a hickory nut, shaped like a pyramid and gives out the reflection of a cluster of stars,’ she cried like a wench…. ‘Worth a great deal of money,’ the deep voice grunted as his hand pressed harder against my windpipe…. ‘Priceless!’ she shrieked. ‘It couldn’t be duplicated for 100,000 rubles; the most gorgeous sapphire in the world!’… ‘Are you sure this man has it?’… ‘Certainly!’ she insisted; ‘didn’t I see that little wasp Kerensky give it to his cousin, and didn’t I see that cousin give it to this man in America?’… ‘Who is this man?’ he asked, tightening his grip until my tongue hung out…. ‘They call him Fox on the west coast of America; but THAT is NOT his name,’ was the last I remember until I found myself lying on the roadside among the hills back yonder…. I certainly DO resemble my brother slightly and am hoping that if he has a sapphire the size mentioned by that hissing vixen he will keep it for the honor and glory of the family of Foxes…. And to think that a few days ago I was falling in love with her at the Metropole!… If man is a meditating atom, WOMAN must be a _premeditating subterfuge!_… I see smoke rising over the hills away to the east…. Yes, it’s the smoke of guns…. I can hear the hoarse roar of heavy artillery to the right and the spitting hollow barking and coughing of lighter pieces on the left and I feel the ground quiver as I write these lines.”

11. The next entry read:

“What a somersault has taken place in the general slippery coalitions of these capricious provinces! Every Potsdammer, a little while ago, was counting on Roumania!… The breaking up of the confederation of the Balkan States under Russian influence was what the Central Powers required; while the Allies desired a broken Turkey and a strong Balkan federation under Russian sway able to throw a million men into the field against Turkey’s northwestern frontier so as to keep Austria in check and allow an easy glide of forces toward the Dardanelles…. Then Roumania was with the Wilhelmstrasse, and Bulgaria was an ally of the Quay d’Orsay and the Neva, but now the Osmanlian and the Bulgar and his cousin Fritz are in the same bed snoring at the Romans who look greedily toward Transylvania!… From what I can see I’m sure these Bulgars will be first to give up the ghost, although when I talk to Kovalsky and hear the whine of these Wienfloss Kwabins I feel sure that they will be first to snap for peace!… I am writing this in a elaborately furnished dugout that has been abandoned by some German officers–I KNOW this because I found several tubes of _Erbswurst_ tucked in one of the berths. With a little water I managed to make a good meal which saved my life,–blessed be the Goths or whoever it was who invented those compressed sausages!”

12. The next entry: “I’m becoming worried about the size of this diary … getting so bulky as to almost prevent concealment in case of capture…. Yet I know a way to prevent detection … so simple!… Usually the most elaborate effort at concealment leads to detection while the most obvious and simple will be entirely overlooked…. I’ll try it and if it goes through I’ll patent it!… SOMEONE IS COMING–sounds like a dozen auto-trucks!… No, it’s an _aeroplane_ skirmishing mighty close to my headquarters…. They’ve _landed_ and are coming this way!… I’ll be READY for them….”



13. The next entry:

“My ammunition was no good!… But I am at a loss to understand what they are trying to do with ME…. Certainly I don’t look like a very important personage in my present state…. Yet my captors are not treating me very badly … aside from being locked up in this deserted villa with its broken chairs and vacant picture frames and general air of hasty abandonment there’s nothing to disturb the tranquillity of my reflections except the recurring tramp of the muffled sentry below my broken window … this building has a sort of Byzantine cut in its architectural design…. On the other side of the valley there’s a minaret or two visible through the smoky haze…. Off to the left I can make out quite distinctly the outlines of a Greek Cross…. The road leading toward that Cross looks like the work of a Muscovite engineer,–which speaks well for it…. It’s built of the same material as the one over the mountains from Tiflis to Vladicaucaz and Kislovodsk…. I MUST BE ON RUSSIAN SOIL!… But what is _mystifying_ to me is, _how did that veiled girl_ of the Metropole manage to know the SENTRY who is guarding my person so methodically down below?… She has been here twice, now, and talks to him very confidentially…. QUATSCH! if she thinks to find _any_ jewelry clinging to my person she’ll have to fry me to get it out.”

14. Then this entry:

“The veiled Metropole Nemesis was to see the sentry today…. She seemed to be quite happy about something and looked up in the direction of my window a number of times…. She was eating some of those champagne-colored rose leaves that are crystallized by the firm of Demitrof at Moscow and sold as confections to the ladies of the Court!… What does it mean?… Furthermore, if that _sentry_ is not the same man who acted as valet to Prince Galitzyn at Monte Carlo when Delcasse, Grey and Galitzyn (otherwise “Count Techlow”) were gliding about the Grand Hotel de Londres!

“The mystery is solved….

“That Metropole woman was the companion to Countess C—- at the Nouvel Hotel Louvre the day I met her at Monte Carlo!… and this man was the _same_ fellow she was supping her cafe Turc and smoking her Medijeh cigarettes with out on the Terrace Gardens of the Hotel de Londres the night I was waiting for an American millionaire to break away from the Hungarian noblewoman at the table decorated with La France roses and the same kind of roses pinned to her corsage…. The American, if he ever sees this in print, will remember the lady with the wonderful jewels flashing from her wrists and neck and whom the man with the Boulanger moustache at the adjoining table was trying hard to flirt with … the same dark-eyed Juno that same American met in the Salle des Etrangers at the Casino, the following day about noon…. Well, that is the connection!… But I did not observe that that wonderful lady wore any large SAPPHIRE that night … nor when she changed her quarters from the _Nouvel_ to the _London_ did she need any such jewelry to have all the spendthrifts of Europe at her feet…. If she was a ‘Princess’ then I was completely fooled…. I never saw a real Princess, except _Eulalia_, who knew how to be democratic enough to select an American for a quiet exchange of ideas … the rest, no matter how desperately they may want to be free from Court _restraint_ and bodyguards, remind me of the poor little caged girls at the Convent of the Sacred Heart at Seville!… Well, so my captors have some connection with the Countess C—-([Cszecheny] Chechany)–with the Tolna Festetics of Hungary…. And this is _strange_, for I had surmised that SHE, at least, would be _friendly_ to MY mission, if she knows anything at all about its origin…. _She_ should _aid_ me to reach Odessa instead of having me sandbagged and cooped up here in this Soviet cage…. I’m certain this Metropole lady is a TRAITOR to the Countess now, and will have me murdered if I don’t produce that sapphire of the princess.”

15. This entry may serve to identify the author of the diary:

“I am certain that the former occupant of this villa was some Russian of taste and means. Today, while leaning against a wall that was paneled after the fashion of the walls in the Hermitage, one of the panels gave way and I found myself toppling backward into a very large room resembling a gallery. There were a number of wall hangings of silk from which the pictures had been removed. The candelabra was of malachite. There were clumps of violet jasper, porphyry, lapis-lazuli, aventurine and syenite scattered around as though the place had been divested of its furnishings in a hurry. I have seen the same things in the HERMITAGE when for architectural elegance, richness of ornamentation and lavishness of decoration it was unequaled by any art museum in the world…. While poking around among the piles of tables and vases that were moved over to one corner I came across a box of paintings that must have been STOLEN from St. Petersburg.[A] … Here is the _Madonna del Latte_ of Corregio, or a mighty good imitation, that everyone remembers, from the Hermitage. Here is Rembrandt’s ‘_Girl with the Broom_,’ the _Portrait of Sobieski_, and the ‘_Farmyard_’ of Paul Potter. Here is the ‘_Expulsion of Hagar_’ by Rubens in which Sarah wears a white handkerchief and yellow veil around her head, with one of her hands resting on her hip and the other encased in a blue sleeve raised in a threatening gesture toward Hagar, and here is ‘_Celestine and her Daughter_ _in Prison_,’ that one NEVER forgets because of the controversy between the partisans of Murillo and Velasquez over which of these two painters did the work. And here is Lossenke’s ‘_Sunrise on the Black Sea_,’ Ugrimov’s ‘_Capture of Kazan_’ and ‘_Election of Michael Romanov_,’ in which the artist reaches the heights of Oriental splendor in color, composition and design…. There is a FORTUNE going to the devil in this room!… This house is L-shaped. The garden in the rear faces a pretentious two-story dwelling surrounded by a wall, like a Governor General’s mansion in its yellow-pinkish coat. Tall poplar trees wave in front and the classic columns running up to the entablature give the place an official sort of front. There is a drug store on the corner across the way doing business under the name of _Torkiani_. To the right, at the end of the street, is a girls’ college; to the left, about 800 feet away, in the center of the street, is the _Alexander Nevsky Church_, if I’m not very much mistaken. This city must have been a wonder before the war….” Then this entry: “Something is about to happen!… My sentry seems very excited over the desertion ‘on Ekaterine Street’ and swears quite often at the failure of some one to appear ‘_along the Levashov_.'”

16. This entry may explain the difficulty:

“There is an Army Corps approaching from the southwest…. The air is surcharged with electricity and puts one’s nerves on edge…. There is an ominous roar overhead that grows more nerve-racking every second…. Zip, zip, zip, bl-r-r-r-r-oo-ow!… A flock of Foelkers heading east like wild ducks toward a few faint specks zigzagging in the firmament away to the northeast…. Now there are a number of specks from the south speedily joining these and ALL seem to be flitting higher and higher out of sight…. Now the Foelkers are circling rapidly upward…. The tramp and rattle of an Army can be heard coming up the road behind my villa…. Ah! here comes a daring plane like a streak of lightning over the Alex Nevsky Church _directly toward this prison_!… I’m between the Devil and the Deep Sea!… Whoever gets me, that flyer or those noisy and unseen dogs of war back yonder, means nothing but plain HELL to ME!…”

17. The next entry is interesting:

“Well, I’m not DEAD yet!… A trip through the clouds is NOT the most delightful of experiences for one in summer togs…. Especially when one is gagged and blindfolded and roped down like a rebellious steer…. So here I am cooped up again in a log cabin in the center of an undulating plain where there might have been unending wheat fields once upon a time…. Not a solitary animal is in sight…. The road out yonder looks much the worse for wear. It seems ground into a pumice stone by the hoofs of horses and the swift movement of heavy wheels. Every gust of wind sends a cloud of fine dust pyramiding its way across the fields and through the crevices of this suffocating den furnished with a few wooden chairs, a hand-carved bedstead, a small picture of the ‘_Virgin of the Partridges_’ and a brass crucifix above the bed…. I greatly SUSPECT my present whereabouts…. I am as much mystified as ever why that veiled Metropole Circe continues to dog my FLIGHTS…. It was she who was the daring flyer and she beat the whole army getting to my retreat in that neglected villa and spiriting me away….”

[Footnote A: Still the German nomenclature.]



18. This looks exciting:

“I must jot down this experience: When I was taken from the log cabin I was blindfolded and again strapped into a flying machine. There were half a dozen soldiers present; and ONE was certainly an ENGLISHMAN,–I had heard his voice before. I NEVER forget a voice. If his eyes ever meet these lines he will remember me, I know. I can describe him from memory. He was medium height, wore a drooping moustache slightly sprinkled with gray and used two pairs of tortoise-shell glasses. When I met him at The Pines in the Isle of Wight we had both been through the Battle of the Somme and were recuperating from our siege amid the shell holes and the mud. I CLAIMED to be an American, and he, as a _descendant of the victor of Trafalgar_, scolded me roundly and _vicariously_ for not forcing the United States into the war on the side of Britain,–he’ll remember _that_…. Perhaps it was because he DID recognize me that he insisted on my being blindfolded and handled roughly when I was led away…. The rest of the squad spoke FRENCH very poorly…. They asked me a number of questions, to which I shook my head; and, candidly, I could do so without doing violence to my knowledge of idiomatic French!… I heard them say to one another, ‘When we get him to the stockade we’ll see what he is made of.’ ‘Yes; a firing squad’ll be the best thing for ALL of them.’ ‘Certainly! we’ll follow Machiavelli’s recommendation in _The Prince_,–EXTERMINATE the whole race!’ That’s the idea! There should be no Louis XVIII bobbing up a generation from now to overthrow the democracy.’… To be honest with my conscience I felt creepy…. I really wanted to tell them that they had got the WRONG FELLOW, but when I tried to speak my tongue felt so dry and thick that I could not utter an audible word…. so I remained involuntarily silent…. Well, on this flight I was more comfortable than on the last; but I thought it would never end and I felt horribly SEASICK…. Finally I was landed and hustled into a court made from the ends of small logs pegged into the ground like an improvised palisade,–it was in a little village….

“… There were hundreds of tatterdemalians of all nations in various uniforms and smoking vile cigarettes, lounging carelessly around…. In a little while a dozen prisoners issued from a small guardhouse in one corner of the enclosure and were conducted at the point of the bayonet to the spot where I stood…. The officer of this firing squad looked viciously at me and ordered me to ‘_fall in_.’… We were then marched to the log wall about fifty paces to the left of the guardhouse and commanded to ‘about face.’… When we did so we saw a firing squad of eighteen men in command of a Sergeant who gave the order ‘_Prepare to fire!_’… At this point the officer stepped forward and, addressing me personally, said: ‘Do you know of any reason why you should not be shot for participating in the abduction of the Imperial family?’… This was a puzzler…. I was innocent enough of such an accusation, BUT the officer before me looked about as much like a Royalist as I in my present disheveled condition looked like a member of the French Cabinet…. If I denied my guilt I felt certain of a bullet in my heart from such an ugly, unkempt mob…. Glancing at my apparel I looked fit to be one of their number, so I said courageously: ‘I am PROUD to say that I am the _ringleader_ who engineered the whole business!…”

If it gives you any satisfaction to see me die, don’t waste your breath asking me any further questions,–go ahead and fire!’… ‘Very well,’ he snapped and made me about-face to the firing squad … For a few seconds he held a silent conversation with the Sergeant…. That functionary approached with a handkerchief. ‘Will you be blindfolded?’ he asked. ‘Thank you, I prefer to see what’s going on,’ I answered…. The other prisoners followed my example…. We were ordered to step back against the wall…. The squad raised their rifles at the command of ‘aim.’… I _now_ know that I felt positively nauseated at the moment, but I actually SMILED…. ‘Fire!’… There was a rattle of musketry and every prisoner beside me fell forward dead…. I STOOD THERE ALONE, uninjured and alive … coming toward me down the path was the daring female acrobatic aviator with her friend, the performer of the Metropole, robed in a shimmering sport outing costume, and smiling very sweetly to the Officer of the Guard….

“… I am certain now that this veiled lady from Buckingham is in league with this gang of Bolsheviki,–and I am also certain that I owe my life to the boast I made of being a murderer myself!…”

19. The following entry reads:

“A man who has escaped death is not to be trusted on a point of discretion,–he doesn’t know how to select his friends. He is like a spirit emerging from nowhere in the eternal void and grabs at the first apparition that promises companionship in his embarrassing and momentary isolation…. Well, I was so glad to see that Buckingham Clorinda that I was willing to take her into my confidence at once…. She _seemed_ so sympathetic!… ‘I commend your bravery,’ she said prettily, offering me her hand…. It was small and beautifully moulded, yet firm and steady, and sent an electric thrill through me like a flash…. Her eyes would disarm the most suspicious diplomatic free-lance in the world…. Struck with admiration, hypnotized by her voice, I could only blurt, ‘I thank you.’

“…’We are looking for a man of approved courage,’ she continued earnestly; ‘we are more than satisfied that YOU are the man.’… Again I muttered my thanks…. ‘How long have you been a member?’ she then asked carelessly…. THIS was not so easily answered…. I thought quickly…. ‘Long enough to KNOW my lesson!’ I answered oracularly…. ‘You still remember your instructions?’… ‘What instructions?’ She answered my question by asking, ‘Were they not BURNED?’… ‘Who is this encyclopaedic lady?’ I asked myself. ‘What manner of TRAP is she setting for me now?’… ‘Why did you SANDBAG me?’ was MY answer…. ‘You are NOT to ask questions,’ she returned. ‘Are you not satisfied with results?’…

“… ‘I am still alive.’… ‘Well,’ she smiled, ‘a _live_ Bolshevik, of OUR kind, is much better than a dead diplomat!’… I was taken into an improvised kitchen and indulged in a splendid meal…. I took no wine….

“… My meal being finished _she_ offered me an excellent cigarette…. Glancing up through a ring of smoke my eyes fell upon a rough black-and-white sketch of a tall, smooth-faced, keen-eyed man with rather large ears, firm and thin-cut lips, high forehead and steadfast gaze, dressed in the uniform of a General Officer, with a single decoration on his left breast…. _she_ observed me closely as I gazed…. I KNEW this man and was about to exclaim: ‘_The savior of this country!_’… but something restrained my enthusiasm…. ‘You recognize him, I see,’ she insinuated…. ‘WHO is he?’ I dodged…. She merely smiled…. She evidently realizes the wonderful power of that disarming smile and the fascination of good teeth in a shapely head…. ‘You’ll do!’ she said with apparent reservation as she tapped a tiny bell….

“… A short, thickset man appeared–he is not positively _ugly_, but he has a way of staring at one that is rather ill-bred…. There is a gold band around his left wrist and a scar upon his right cheek…. I am sure he is the SAME man I met at one of Sadakichi-Hartmann’s readings from Ibsen’s _Ghosts_…. He may recall the time…. It was in an abandoned palace on Russian Hill, somewhere in America; the lady at his left was discussing the difficulties of getting her motor car into Ragiz; the younger one on his right was known as Alma and gave her address as East 61st Street, New York…. and ALL THREE were quite convinced that the Central Powers will defeat the Allies…. He is an international character and will remember this incident as well as the following: ‘… This gentleman will join your party for Ekaterinburg tonight, YOU understand. If there are any mistakes I shall not answer for results!’ There were NO introductions…. The man bowed and began to back away…. ‘YOU may accompany him,’ she said, rising and flitting from the room…. I believe I understand what this _party_ means!… There is to be a SHOOTING party at Ekaterinburg under the auspices of the Bolshevists in a day or two and I may be ONE of the ‘_mistakes_’ for which that mystifying lady disclaims responsibility…. My companion certainly looks like a bandit, and manifests the strength of a wild bull…. He seems much interested in that _patch_ on my shirt sleeve….”



20. “My Charybdis conducted me to the barracks where a lot of undisciplined philosophers were discussing the parceling out of land…. The ringleader was a round-headed, long-nosed and bulky individual with a shaggy beard and dirty uniform…. I knew him in an instant, but he did not recognize me … he was one of Von der Goltz’ men who aided in the defense at Gallipoli…. The night before the Allied fleet withdrew he was lying beside a short, thickset and dark-haired Associated Press reporter with a German name and tortoise-shell eyeglass and was telling that same reporter that unless REINFORCEMENTS arrived AT ONCE the defenses would collapse!… The next day he was at Headquarters informing the General in command that BUT FOR HIM the Turkish forces would have surrendered!… He is NOW wearing a number of decorations for his military skill and bravery…. Such are the fortunes of war!… This is the man who one minute preaches communism and another minute gravely asserts that it will be a good thing for the Kaiser to get killed in the war so as to guarantee the SUCCESSION of the Empire…. Perhaps he is doing this for my benefit…. Anyway he occupies the center of the stage at present and GOVERNS this greedy and unruly mob by kicking discipline into a cocked hat and allowing every unshaved Bolshevik his own unrestricted way!… Under other circumstances I should dearly like to meet this boasting _Furioso_ in a ten-foot ring when a little exercise is needed to keep myself in trim…. But NOW I am accepted as a BOLSHEVIK,–one of the elect, privileged to select my lady and rob and pillage when I please!… _This suits me very well_ … but on mature _reflection_ it seems to me that a FEW in this literally UNGODLY gang are playing a very cunning part…. If that BE so I am _not_ so sure how far my own assumed conversion to the doctrine of rapine will protect my skin…. So far, however, I have adopted the policy of vindictiveness, and, when asked a question, I merely growl and swear like a trooper…. _I am making an impression_….”

21. “On the way here the HERO of Gallipoli took quite a fancy to me, because I could beat him swearing perhaps…. Growing confidential over his liquor and Turkish cigarettes he asked point-blank: ‘Didn’t I see you at the TWELFTH DAY CEREMONY at the Winter Palace the time the Archbishop lost the golden cross in the river, a few years ago?’… I thought it better to deny the acquaintance and the incident…. I could have easily recalled the ceremony on the Neva, the decorated pavilion on the ice in front of the palace, the procession of church dignitaries in their stiff Byzantine robes and scintillating mitres moving slowly across the road followed by the Grand Dukes and the Emperor, the clear voices of the choir cutting through the frosty air, the ladies of the Court standing near the window and crossing themselves as the Czar stood motionless beneath the gilded and fretted canopy,–_I could have recalled it all_ … but I swore profanely and declared emphatically that ALL RELIGION WAS A COBWEB AND A SNARE to emancipated minds…. I pretended to get violently MAD about it and told him I would strangle any man who insulted me by accusing me of the most distant relationship with any religion excepting the religion of FREE LOVE…. He laughed like a lion with a sliver in its paw. ‘You are _absolutely_ the best COUNTERFEIT in circulation that I know of!’ he guffawed. ‘Well, I’m going to fire Syvorotka and put you in charge of a little FIRING SQUAD when we get to our camping ground at Ekaterinburg!’ were his exact words, half whispered, half insinuated and wholly growled across the table in the diner…. With assumed hostility I actually barked: ‘The dirtier the deviltry the more diverting!’… He opened his eyes widely like one emerging from a solemn drunk and WINKED knowingly as he shook my hand…. ‘You know where Kerensky got his orders to release our fellows, of course,’ he whispered. ‘I guess you KNOW why he sent _some people_ to Ekaterinburg a couple of days before the Czecho-Slovaks are scheduled to _take_ it, and I guess you know too how it happened that so many MOTOR TRUCKS came all the way from Archangel to Ekaterinburg so as to be on hand when a certain Indian officer shows up, the ridiculous ranter raved…. But….”

“… If these lines should ever come to light I want to record right now, in justice to that apparently besotted creature, that I am under unutterable obligations to him for assigning to me the most diabolical piece of brutality that has been conceived during this period of moral leprosy and unrepenting malevolence…. _I shall do my work well_.”

22. Then the following odds and ends appear:

“… The Metropole performer is a Baroness sure enough…. She knows a Syvorotka but declines to give his rank or whereabouts…. She tells me that this place was founded by Count Tatischshev in 1721 … when Catherine was a baby…. The Monastery of ‘Our Lady of Tikhvin’ looming up before me is a very graceful compliment to the Mosque of St. Sophia it resembles in so many ways…. fine place to radio from to friends at Odessa … especially if the NUN has been obeying orders…. Lvov is out of the way, over in the city prison, _cooking_, where he can’t betray the prisoners at Ipatiev’s…. When I was alone with my Imperial prisoner I tore the patch off from my shirt sleeve and handed it to him…. ‘_Sa lettre!_’ he exclaimed in an undertone…. His manner was exceedingly polite…. ‘_Ouvrez, lisez_,’ I advised…. ‘_Oui, oui, je sais! je sais!_’ he said softly, ‘_mais malheureusement cela est impossible!_’… ‘Soak it in water’, I replied…. ‘_Et vous, monsieur_, _etes-vous americain ou francais_?’ he came back…. ‘_Je suis ne a Paris, mais je suis americain_, and if the prisoner has no objection I’d rather speak in English.’… ‘That will be delightful,’ he said; ‘I shall do as you say.’… He ran back to the bathroom. In a moment he returned holding the patch up before him…. ‘Ah!’ he continued aloud, ‘this merely says that the Heir Apparent will make a cruise of the world in a man-of-war; what does that signify?’… ‘If you recognize the writing,’ I replied, ‘you will, doubtless, remember the methods of its author when extending an invitation.’… ‘Yes, yes, I see; how clever of you! Had you been a subject of mine I should have made you an ambassador!’… ‘That would imply infinite wisdom on my part, _Sire!_ I bowed very humbly…. It made a hit with my prisoner.”

This entry follows:

“Alice will give up her wheel chair when the NUN gives the word … she is worrying about my prisoner’s sister, Olga, and her two companions, who insist on offering their services to the poor in the Crimea … and well she may!… ‘_Facing the East,’_ they are likely to travel _south_!… I must get rid of this old valet, _Parafine Domino_, who makes a nuisance of himself hovering around my prisoner like a hawk…. Gallipoli says he’ll get rid of Alice’s physician before the TENTS arrive,–substituting a fake doctor from the Red Guard, who’ll tell me when the prisoners are fit to travel…. As ‘Captain’ of this Soviet Guard I am as cold-blooded as Gallipoli before the spies and hangers-on…. ‘_Captain?’_… that title seems to stump the old Russian soldiers,–they claim that there is no such animal…. The Sergeant has suggested that I put the prisoners under a SMALL GUARD when we take them to the Ural District Soviet Court of Workmen…. Nice trap to catch me…. If I agreed to this I’d be in the same category as Denikin or Dutov or Ekhart and be shot by the gang outside by _mistake_, so as to fulfill the prophecy of my lady of Buckingham…. My answer was to order the guard on the balcony to keep their guns pointed at the prisoners whenever they appear in the garden … this will satisfy the eavesdropper in the red brick across the way and scare the wits out of old Parafine, besides giving him something to talk about when we get away…. To satisfy that suspicious Sergeant that there is no Japanese money secreted by the prisoners I have ordered my men to use their bayonets against the walls and ceilings … even the frame of the bathroom is not to escape!… Gallipoli is growling around that I’m doing my work too damned well to _seem reasonable_!… The poor boob! His idea of being _reasonable_ seems to consist in spreading rumors that the prisoners have been disposed of in a dozen different ways…. When Maria and Tatiana mounted the truck in the yard this confiding swaggerer started the gossip that they were being loaded up to be taken out of town and shot…. Now I am told by some of the excited guard that that report is TRUE because they heard some one in the attic of the red brick yelling: ‘_The baggage is at the station_!’…

“When I asked them what we wanted with ‘BAGGAGE’ they went away growling that I wasn’t playing fair!… To my somber-robed lady of Buckingham, who seems to have deserted me, as well as the slender guard at the Huis ten Bosch, as well as those at the Wilhelmstrasse and Odessa, who are part of this ‘BAGGAGE,’ my guard’s agitation will assume the humorous character of unconscious prophecy…. Suspicion is in the air!… This undisciplined gang of cutthroats under that half-baked Sergeant are demanding HOSTAGES from _me_ for _my_ conduct of this business … they want ‘the Grand Dutchess Olga,’ her two companions, and FIFTY other women!… AT LAST!… the _planes are buzzing in the sky_…. The Ikon of Holy Nicholas is being wrapped up…. The NUN has copies of the letters to Oldenburg and Gendrikov…. It’s time to say to my prisoner: _Come with ME to the U.D.S. of W.A.R.A.D._’…. If he has the code from Odessa he will ask: ‘_Are you taking me to be shot_?’… ‘_RUNMOBS_’…. I’ll have the guard go through his pockets to find the letters that’ll turn him over to my ‘_vengeance_’ … then for Ekhart’s tunnel and OBLIVION!”

23. Then this entry follows. It seems to be sufficiently circumstantial to justify its reproduction here:

“Murder, like jealousy, in this country is a disease,” begins the narrative. “My part in this international murder will paralyze the politician and mystify the sober mind of intelligent belief…. History will not be satisfied, however, without a VICTIM, and I must furnish a victim that will satisfy the mob outside!… The Order has been given…. There are celebrations among the banditti…. there are moistened eyes among many peasants; there are strong men and gallant men among the gang out yonder whose very looks betray the HATRED they entertain for the suspected _executioner_ of their former ruler and his excited family…. They fear, they try to avoid me; and I can see in their looks that, given a favorable opportunity, they _will hang me to the highest electric wire pole_ in the city!…

“I am not so certain, though, that EVERYONE outside will accept my theatric ‘slaughter’ as the Gospel truth.

“Diagonally across the way there has been a Red Cross nurse eternally peeking through her window in this direction…. If we go out into the courtyard she can see us plainly behind the other buildings, for there is nothing to obstruct her vision…. and she seems mighty anxious to keep tab on all proceedings in the yard…. I have tried to figure out a resemblance between this nurse and the capricious Metropole Baroness, but the nurse _seems_ much older…. Perhaps she is disguised…. If she ever reveals her identity she will remember me as the man who tipped _my_ cap to her after posting the two sentries in front of the palisade between the telephone poles and the British Consulate…. If she remembers me she will also recall the drillings I gave my awkward squad for the few days I kept them parading after my prisoners in the yard…. and if anything happens to me she will KNOW that I did my job well up to the minute I write this…. In a few hours more the future political history of the world may be changed forever…. To blot out _seven_ lives is all…. _Dokonchet the Romanoffs!_”

23. This entry follows:

“To satisfy the mob I had to perform a very unpleasant _duty_…. I use the word duty advisedly, remembering the instructions I committed to memory in the underground office of the Wilhelmstrasse …. Knowing that I am continually WATCHED and spied upon, not only by that nurse in the window over there, but by a number of crazed lunatics in uniform, I was compelled to treat a very pretty Princess _shamefully_…. News was spread yesterday that Japan had loaned Siberia $250,000,000, and the mob was clamoring for the jewels of the prisoners. This unoffending Princess–this girl, hardly more than seventeen–was holding a conversation in French with her brother Alexis, a little lad of fourteen, in the courtyard. The boy was pale and emaciated from abuse, solitude and confinement. The Princess, a radiant beauty under this hot July sun, was trying to cheer Alexis up. Her gown was badly soiled and of a simple soft material that seemed to accentuate her modest resignation and glorify her courageous cheerfulness in gloom. Her three older sisters, in gowns that spoke of yesterdays, were walking moodily down the path, when a crowd of ruffians burst by the sentries, tore through the doors, and dashed into the yard in the direction of the startled girls…. Taking in the situation quickly, I raised my voice and began swearing like a demon, and prancing around like a _skberny_ madman…. Then rushing up to Tatiana I TORE FROM HER EARS the jewels that had descended from her early ancestors and howled: ‘Aha! you’ll wear those cursed things, will you, when your betters are starving in the gutters! Get back, all of you, into your Ipatiev SEPULCHRE and get me ALL the jewelry in the place or _I’ll turn these men loose upon you_ in three quarters of an hour!… Soldiers,–_attention!!’_ … The mob crawled into line…. ‘The next time any of you men come into this yard without any orders,’ I said, I’ll have you SHOT WITH THESE PEOPLE IN THE MANSION!… Column right!… March!’… I heard them mumbling as they passed the first sentry that the cursed interloping _tovarestch_ intended to _keep all the loot!’_…. Following Alexis and his sisters into the ex-Emperor’s study I laid down the earrings upon the flat-topped desk and apologized for my apparent act of cowardice and cruelty….

“There was pathos in that father’s soft and courteous voice as he looked at me and said: ‘I _understand_,–yes, yes, I know. You are right–quite right. My darlings, you must not blame this man.'”



24. This entry follows:

“I must jot this down now–who knows what may happen?… Reminding the family that I had promised results in three quarters of an hour, I instructed them in the part each one must take…. Alexis appeared to be listlessly unconcerned and sat upon one corner of the large flat-topped desk, swinging his feet indifferently; but when I started for the door he sprang to attention like a well-trained soldier and awaited the results…. Going to the door fronting in the main street, I called the sentry and ordered him to CALL OUT THE GUARD…. Shortly _my selected_ guard appeared….

“I conducted them through the dining room and told them to help themselves…. Then we roamed through the living rooms, the boudoirs, straight through to the washing room and bath; then back through the oblong archway into the little square room beyond the study, where I halted them and said: ‘Men, these women will die before they’ll tell us where the treasure is at present. The OLD MAN and WOMAN seem utterly indifferent to their fate; we can get _nothing_ out of them. Now, what do you say to giving them a night to think the matter over before we _line them up_? We may get more by waiting than by closing their mouths FOREVER….’

“‘_Not another day_!’ said one of the men whom I had all along suspected of being _suspicious_ of MY conduct…. ‘What say the rest of you?’ I asked…. ‘Well,’ droned the most courageous of them, with a hangdog expression, ‘we might give them until midnight.’… ‘Very well,’ I snapped viciously, I’LL PUT OFF THE EXECUTION till that hour; then if they don’t disgorge I’ll kill every one of them _myself_!’… ‘Not so fast, comrade!’ returned the rebellious one; as a member of the guard I believe _I’ll keep you company_.’

“… I knew better than to object…. That man is a cutthroat beyond redemption and will hesitate at nothing to satisfy his lust…. That’ll be _fine_,’ I rejoined; ‘YOU STAY WITH ME; the rest of the men are dismissed!’… when the men disappeared I made a run and jump at my diabolical ‘comrade’ and struck him squarely on the nose. Then I smashed him on the mouth, and, with a down drive of my left, I bored into the pit of his stomach and sent him sprawling on the carpet, where he BLED as profusely as a corn-fed bull…. This blood was exactly what I wanted, and in my anxiety to make a good job of it I kicked him several times in the face until he lay there, motionless and senseless, bleeding from every gash…. In the joy of giving this remorseless bully what he needed to overcome his pride I OVERLOOKED ENTIRELY THE PROPRIETY OF MAKING HIM BLEED IN ALL THE OTHER ROOMS…. This little oversight may cost me a well-earned reputation for efficient management I have hitherto enjoyed among many great men of our times, if the omission be detected by some enterprising commission, some journalist or SERVICE man who will certainly check up my report if I leave this place alive….”

25. This entry follows:

“It was a long wait till midnight when the mob outside expected to be invited to a division of the spoils…. but my plans were taking shape gradually as the moments slipped away…. In this isolated, though nicely furnished and elegant two-story dwelling, I got closer to the heart of my celebrated prisoner and his family than any other man alive…. In the few hours left to us before the time set for their ‘execution’–in these evening shadows of July, 1918,–we have been discussing the effect of THEIR SACRIFICE upon the history of the world…. I put this down from memory:

“‘It is understood already in certain chancellories,’ my prisoner significantly replied, ‘how my execution will be publicly accounted for…. Each Ministry will appoint a Commission, suggested by the Crown, to investigate and publish its own report…. The report published will be given out under the name of a Naval or Military Commission to impart an official sanction to the supposed inquiry and support the authenticity of the document agreed upon…. Naturally these prearranged reports will vary so as to satisfy the state of mind in each particular country.’… ‘If regicides are so easily arranged,’ I observed cautiously, ‘perhaps the duration of this “Revolution” is also definitely determined?’… There’ll be a period of revolution and distress,’ my prisoner remarked, ‘before our country settles down to industry and contentment. But the desire of “self-determination” will mislead the unfortunate and cause them to embrace a tyranny of the most cruel and selfish type. This will last for a time until gluttony destroys itself, as all excesses do. When the country is dismembered by the activities of rival greeds, my poor and honest peasants will turn upon their masters and restore this nation’s power. They need but education to accomplish glorious results. They will obtain this education while they suffer and evolve a science of self-government while learning to govern themselves. It may seem strange to others when I say so; but not one of my whole family is covetous of the Imperial Crown. We prefer peace and liberty to all the pomp and penalties of Royal isolation from the rest of men and women in the world. Royalty means SLAVERY of the most humiliating form. The boy or girl that is doomed to Royal birth steps into a prison with the first breath he breathes…. Take my own case; I longed to get out and play rough-and-tumble with the boys I saw staring at me in the streets. But I was taught by my English tutor, Heath, that it would be lowering my dignity to associate with those fine young boys. My “dignity” was placed in a strait-jacket and, in a namby-pamby way, I was taught to play ALONE. I had cousins scattered over Europe who took their lot more happily than I; but even they regretted the mocking barriers that laid down a barrage between us and the more fortunate chaps outside,–outside, they enjoyed FREEDOM,–within, we were ALL prisoners in our little cells of etiquette and traditionary bondage. At fifteen I was dragged away to the Military Academy at Petrograd[A] and made to listen to old Danilovich until I actually hated the very name of war. I resolved at that time to inaugurate some means to get rid of such senseless waste of life if intrusted with the power. The Hague was my interpretation of what should constitute a proper exercise of international obligation. You realize, of course, the precarious state of Russia in a military sense,–while force was indispensable to hold us all together from within, it always exposed our weakness when directed toward external issues. I could not map out my own general education, even; forced by the traditions of my family I was placed in charge of the Holy Synod and taught by Pobedonostzev to regard myself as the source of SPIRITUAL POWER and instructed to regard an unorthodox opinion as a transportation offense. Now, while I reverence profoundly the sacred tenets of my holy religion, I regard religious freedom as indispensable to the dignity of spiritual belief. For that reason I made that reformation in 1905. As I grew up I rebelled against my intolerable confinement,–I went out among the PEOPLE and TALKED WITH THEM. They were friendly in most instances and gave me very good advice. I did not need a bodyguard to go about. I was as safe among the people as I would be in the Winter Palace. Often have I walked to the hotels alone to call on some particular friend without any thought of fear. Nor was it necessary,–I liked the people as genuinely as I believe they respected me. I learned their hunger for land by going around; and it was on that account that I projected and completed our Siberian Railways so as to give our people the coveted opportunity and an outlet to the markets of the world. Given an opportunity to accumulate and prosper, men will hesitate about going to war unless THEY ARE MISLED. I saw such an opportunity in international trade. I visited the Orient, extensively investigating the commercial field in that direction. It was a mighty task, necessitating a reference to others who should have been as much interested in the accomplishment as I was myself. Their mistakes have made me quite unhappy and there has always been CONTENTION between my Ministers and myself. If Witte had kept his hands off when Count Solsky got after the plotting school teachers and rebellious students, the propaganda against my reign which has honeycombed the Empire with sedition might have been checked in time to prevent this dissolution,–for it is more than a “revolution.” It is idealism run amuck. France, England, the people of America, have been duped by the intelligentia–the Kadets–who never seemed to realize that in order to hold this Empire together not only FORCE but SUPERSTITION was required,–‘_si mundus vult decipi decipiatur_,’ it is the only principle that will hold unorganized ignorance in disciplinary subjection to orderly and regulated progress; and without this discipline the ARMY, or the power that holds this incongruous Nation together, will dissolve, as you may now see, while the whole Empire will fly to pieces. My strong Ministers were too physical and myopic to look beyond their noses. They were afraid to seem afraid of _truth_,–and they even accused me of plotting with Kazantsev and Feodorov against the life of my Minister of Finance,–always excuses for fomenting discontent! They never seemed to realize that the HAPPINESS of the PEOPLE meant the SECURITY of the CROWN. As a matter of fact the only loyal supporters I ever had around me were my wife and family besides a few others in the service of the State. When I announced my war aims on the Pacific for the benefit of my people my leading Minister had the audacity to obtrude upon my privacy at Tsarskoye Selo and demand that I withdraw the manifesto. This piece of impudence cost me the decision in that war. That magniloquent Minister, with his versatile Irish amanuensis, not only turned my mother against me, but he had the temerity to demand that I dismiss my best agent, Azeff, who alone kept me advised of the machinations of the Social Revolutionists, who, in turn, accused me of murdering my uncle Sergius–the greatest theologian of the age. As I recall the time, now, I am, of course, convinced that the only _real friend_ I had among those Social Revolutionists was BURTZEV,–but I understood him too late!’… My prisoner spoke regretfully. His voice was soft and courteous, breaking at times into the altisonance of the tragic muse. He does not think that any act of his can be wrong; the mere fact that HE ran counter to accepted standards divests, in his mind, the act itself of turpitude. That seems to be the way he looked upon his former Eastern encrouchments. That’s the way he justified his subterranean deals with the KAISER; and he even goes so far as to assert that ‘_if the Vyborg-Bjoerkesund treaty had not been denounced the present war would not have happened_.’ He speaks of this a little passionately, scorning the very memory of Count Witte for ‘questioning the morality of that arrangement.’ That great Minister my prisoner refers to as ‘_an uncouth bully who bellowed like a mad bull_.’ In this respect it is my impression that the ex-Empress indorses his state of mind. What he likes she will place in the superlative; what he merely hates, _she_ elevates to positive abhorrence. In this way she seems to flatter his decisions, which makes him smile quite indulgently at her, and hold her ascendency over his apparently veering mind. I can notice this in so many little things: She oozes delicate flattery and he likes it; she plays upon his _prejudices_, and he seems to have a lot of them submerged beneath his inalienable urbanity and instinctive grace of manner that even this misery and abysmal gloom have not relieved of polish. Beneath it all I get the impression that he is very much in love with every member of his family…. that he would like to be _alone_ with ‘Alice,’ whom he addresses as ‘my darling’ and experiences a shell-shock if she stubs her toe. His final words are: ‘Now it is ALL OVER and I WILL WELCOME THE OBLIVION that will release us all from the memory of our devoted bondage!’… While my prisoner conversed Alexis assisted his stately mother and his four beautiful sisters while putting on their superannuated wraps…. One by one they filed out the door leading into the open yard…. My prisoner stood up and stretched himself…. He was about to resume his seat when the report of a revolver resounded in our ears…. The brute on the floor, wallowing in his blood, was raised upon his elbows and firing recklessly…. After he had fired six rounds without apparent injury I drew my own revolver and fired deliberately INTO THE WALL…. The fellow slunk back to silence…. My prisoner and I followed the ladies out into the night, _forgetting_ a jewel or two in our leisurely departure…. Out in the open WE DESCENDED into the old abandoned tunnel that formerly led from Ipatievs to the medical office of a foreign consulate a thousand feet away….”

[Footnote A: Nicholas used “Petrograd,” not the German nomenclature.]



26. The next entry is mystifying:

“We are between the devil and the deep sea!… which gives me time to write…. The beastly tunnel has caved in midway in our passage…. It seems, from the roar overhead, that we are somewhere beneath the railroad tracks. Yet there must be a vent somewhere, as there seems to be a draft of air through this passage…. The family are congregated off to the right, in a kind of stoping where the dirt has been removed, leaving a small room like one meets with in the Gogebic iron mines in Wisconsin and Michigan, back in the United States…. Our little electric bull’s-eyes come in handy just now…. With my bull’s-eye propped up on a sand-encrusted box I am noting down some things that must not be forgotten…. While trying to find a passageway out of this hole in the ground we gyrated back and forth for the last two or three hours until the women became exhausted…. Then my ‘prisoner’ and I returned to the mouth of the entrance. There we heard a horrible row between the unruly brute we left on the floor and his wild-eyed fellow conspirators…. They accused him of DOUBLE-CROSSING THEM and making away with the treasure that they insisted should be _theirs_!

“… He insisted that there was NO treasure EXCEPT the JEWEL he apparently was exhibiting…. We could hear, quite distinctly, a sullen voice saying: ‘I do not believe you; you are trying to steal the whole of it!… We’ll give you ten minutes to produce ALL you have hid away, and if you don’t do it, we’ll fill your body so full of lead that your rotten carcass won’t float in the Kolunda.’… The culprit replied: ‘Let me explain. You remember that I was suspecting that _interloper_ when I insisted on watching him; well, my suspicions were correct,–he was a TRAITOR to our cause. He was planning to steal away with his precious gang when I covered them with my pistol. Then when I had the drop on them I made them open all of their trunks and boxes. Nothing was found. I felt sure they were holding out on me, so I took a shot at the kid. The interloper made a dive at me. I knocked him down with that chair there…. then in my rage I emptied my pistol into the hearts of the whole gang…. that’s all there’s to it.’… ‘He’s lying!’ ‘Traitor!’ ‘Betrayer!’ ‘Down with the thief!’ flew back and forth from one to another above our heads…. Then in a more subdued voice we heard ‘Hist! _Silence_! Some one is coming!’ A moment later I heard distinctly the unmistakable growl of my hero of Gallipoli overhead demanding, ‘WHAT HAVE YOU CUTTHROATS DONE WITH OUR PRISONERS?’ … There was a _silence_ that could be felt…. None offered an explanation that I could hear…. ‘Why don’t you answer?’ thundered Gallipoli…. There was an unmistakable murmur…. ‘Don’t YOU try to slide out of this, you COWARD! I’ll hold _every one_ of you responsible for this! _Where’s my lieutenant_?’… He _means_ ME….

“‘Out in the yard,’ I heard one of them reply…. ‘Go and tell him to report here AT ONCE!’… Poor devil! the humor of this whole situation is displayed in the tragic possibilities of criminal greed when crooks fall out!… ‘_Where are the others_?’ my Gallipoli hero demanded…. I heard no answer…. ‘DO YOU HEAR ME?’… still no audible answer…. ‘_Crack!’_…. the report of a revolver, then a scuffling and ‘_stand back!_ Another move and I’ll blow you ALL to HELL,–_line up there!_…. Now I order you to explain the whereabouts of the PRISONERS.’

“… We could hear a voice boasting: ‘Did you see that BLOOD in yonder? Well, that is our answer. We were suspicious of that Lieutenant of yours so we took the matter into our own hands.’… ‘WHO DID THE KILLING?’… ‘The Sergeant.’… ‘And what did he DO with the bodies?’… ‘Threw them into the well!’… ‘The devil! you’ll have to fish them out again!’… Then there was a long silence…. Finally we heard: ‘Here, Sergeant!’ from HE of Gallipoli; ‘when will my lieutenant report?’… ‘The Captain said to present his compliments and say that he is temporarily detained.’… My ‘prisoner’ poked me in the ribs impulsively and smiled…. ‘Where are the BODIES?’… ‘Burned!’ said the Sergeant. ‘WHAT?’… ‘BURNED UP?… ‘Who burned them?’… ‘I did, Sir.’… ‘Didn’t throw them in the well?’… ‘No, Sir.’… ‘Well, I’ll be damned!… FALL IN! _Unless those prisoners are produced I’ll court-martial every one of you_!’

“… We could hear the measured tread of a squad overhead tramping away until the thump, thump, thumping sank into a faint indistinct vibration which was caught up by the beating of our hearts and the throbbing of our fascinated and incredulous ears…. ‘Well!’ ejaculated my amused ‘_prisoner_’; ‘It’ll be exceedingly interesting to read the future accounts of my double execution. I am sure my family will read it with greater interest than they’ve ever manifested in any of London’s or Gorky’s fanciful novels!’… ‘I assume that you will not be surprised to learn that you have some mighty good friends in that crowd outside,’ I ventured…. ‘Oh, not at all,’ my prisoner returned, ‘and I venture to say that your friend from Gallipoli will find it convenient to contribute to the general misunderstanding and confusion by allowing the suspected executioners to air their conflicting explanations of my disappearance.’

“‘_We haven’t disappeared yet, my friend!_’ I grumbled, as we turned back in the direction of our underground camp…. ‘If we had some shovels it would solve the problem; but the way we’re fixed it looks like a case of starvation or surrender for the whole of us,–we can’t stay down here indefinitely!’… ‘Patience, _courage_, my friend,’ my ‘prisoner’ replied whole-heartedly; ‘this is the first time in my life I have been absolutely alone, the first moment in our lives we have been positively FREE!’… He took a few swift steps and swung around gracefully, like a figure in a dance…. ‘I love the mazurka!’ he exclaimed!… ‘I’d like to have a real pillow fight again with the children!… We used to have such fun!… It was about the only time my wife would ever smile!… I used to tell her that she reminded me of the sad goddesses that stood on the dull red cornices of my Winter Palace looking coldly into space during any of the Court ceremonies…. Really that was true,–a woman like my wife, in a _manteau de cour,_ a head flaming with the rays of her kokoshnik and supported by that long white veil, DOES resemble an icicle in the Winter Palace!… But when we are _alone_!… the Zaritsa is a motherly MOTHER!… You’ll see…. We have always loved simplicity…. This is our chance…. I never did like the late suppers and high life indulged in by some of my relations…. My greatest dissipation was at the Marinsky when we’d sup between acts and go straight home to bed…. Grand Duke Alexis never wanted to go to bed…. After the theatre he was always primed for another party out at the Islands…. Our motto has always been, “Early to bed and early to rise.”… Had to…. At work early after breakfast till eleven … luncheon … to work again at half past twelve until dinner … back to work until very late at night…. NOW we are hearing of our misguided _workmen and soldiers_ attempting to run the country on SIX HOURS WORK A DAY!… That would be delightful if they would only devote the remaining hours to recreation and STUDY.’… My ‘prisoner’ seemed positively _boyish_….

“His voice was in pleasant contrast to the shrill staccato accents I had heard in that gloomy underground room of the Foreign Office at Berlin…. I could see at a glance that his present attitude was not a pose,–his simplicity, like his courage and democracy, was GENUINE…. It explains the reason for his composure at THIS VERY MINUTE when a less courageous man would be excitedly running around in circles and making my life miserable by bemoaning our ill luck…. To show the _morale_ of this family of cave dwellers I’ll record this incident: ‘Be careful about those electric lamps,’ I requested of the ladies. ‘If they give out we’ll be in darkness.’ … ‘Then we’ll use our hands and dig ourselves out to daylight!’ exclaimed Maria…. ‘WHY can’t we start doing THAT NOW?’ exclaimed Tatiana…. ‘Come on!’ chorused Alexis and his four sisters as they fell to and are now pawing the dirt away from the embankment that impedes our escape…. I’ll have to supervise that work a little, for if these girls continue to pile back the dirt the way they are doing it they may stop up the passage both ways and _bury us all alive_….”



28. The next page of the diary is badly blurred and torn, but the following can be made out:

“We are all about played out…. The boy is exhausted and lying over in a little excavation upon his sisters’ wraps, his fingers bleeding and one eye blinded with the sand…. The passageway behind us is almost closed up…. In front of us we have hit a solid wall…. The exhausted mother is binding her boy’s hands with a portion of her petticoat…. As she kneels there, with the faint flicker of a light falling on her finely chiseled profile, she resembles Botticelli’s _magnificent_ Madonna in the Uffizi Gallery at Florence…. The picture is completed by the dark background and the solicitous attitude of the girls as they cluster around the sufferer…. With a little imagination one can delineate the jeweled crown which the two girlish angels are holding above her head…. Pathos, resignation and a sort of recreating FAITH are painted against that threatening wall and overhanging dirt…. If that should fall WE ARE ALL BOUND TO SUFFOCATE before any help can come…. My ‘prisoner’ is not a bit discouraged, however…. He is using his jackknife against the concrete wall with great patience and whistling softly and slowly an air from ‘The Blessing of the Waters.’… WATER!… I know those girls are CHOKING for a drink as I have been for the last ten hours myself…. Still, not one of them has murmured at our grief and Anastasie has become quite chummy in pretending to cheer ME up…. Aristocracy or Royalty, even, with Democracy in a tunnel, makes us ALL of one size! Under certain conditions a man of my education and family connections MIGHT be privileged to forget the veiled lady of Buckingham and accept these endearing little attentions with some guarantee of hope…. But WHAT IF WE ALL ARE BURIED HERE like the happy families of Herculaneum and Pompeii?… Future inquisitive scientists may find this diary with our _bones_ and classify us as a species of an extinct Tartar tribe!… The wall my prisoner is gouging out _seems to be getting wet_….”

29. Then there follows the entry:

“_Water has burst through the hole my prisoner has been making in that wall_!…”

30. The next entry has been evidently water-soaked and is entirely blotted out.

31. This entry seems sufficiently distinct to make out what the writer has been through:

“I tried in the foregoing to jot down enough of what was happening to enable anyone who would find our bodies to make out how we had died…. What I forgot to record in the excitement I’ll put down now…. When the wall caved in and the water burst down upon us it seemed that we would soon be drowned alive…. The small hole in the wall had allowed enough water to filter through at first to slake our thirst and make us all quite happy…. But gradually the ground beneath us became damp and sticky and the blue mud clung to our shoes like glue until we could hardly move…. The little air that crept in with the water, though, was a positive blessing to us all…. We should have stifled…. Finally the water ceased and our hearts began to sink….

“… It was Maria who brought on the FLOOD I have learned today…. With a stone she found uncovered by the filtering from the little opening she began pounding against the wall…. Suddenly the wall bulged inward…. There was a swish, and a roar, and a deadening GUSH,–and then a RUSHING FLOOD tore open the side of the wall and burst like a torrent into our muddy, narrow cell. Higher and higher it mounted, enveloping us to our arm pits…. My ‘prisoner’ moved calmly over to the stately woman, who was holding up the boy, and patted her gently on the head. ‘It will be all right, darling,’ he said…. Then he kissed all his children and impulsively _dashed in the direction of the cataract_.

“… Struggling hard against the flood he worked his way nearer and nearer toward the broken curbing and finally DOVE through the waterspout and clung grimly to the wall…. For a moment his body seemed to tremble…. Then with a supreme effort he pulled his body into the opening and for a moment checked the flood…. It seemed like a gallant sacrifice…. at the same time…. the girl, Maria, waded back toward the opening that was NOW completely SEALED BY THE STICKY CLAY and began to tear frantically at the bank….

“Little by little she seemed to make headway…. But it appeared like an eternity,–and I felt certain that the man in the wall using his body as a plug must presently give up the ghost and be hurled back into our cell…. I then noticed the water around us DROP quickly, and, turning in the direction of Maria I saw her body being caught up by the current and sucked painfully forward into the opening her delicate hands had made…. It was too horrible to endure!… Now, while there is no blood of martyrs in my veins, and while I had PROMISED the sombre figure in Berlin TO DO A CERTAIN THING which a martyr impulse might prevent if I tried to be a hero in this instance, I simply could not look at that girl’s struggles without going to her rescue _no matter what it cost_….”

32. The following then appears:

“I have no recollection of what happened after I grasped Maria by the feet…. All I remember is that I felt myself being dragged along after her through a blinding sheet of muddy, gritty substance, head foremost like a drowning man…. I imagined myself in mid-ocean clinging to some broken shaft after my vessel had been torpedoed, and I clung to those slender ankles as the only hope of life!… When I did recover there was Maria bending over me and vigorously see-sawing my arms back and forth in an effort to resuscitate me…. If ever there were an excuse for the chivalry of the Middle Ages it must have crept out of those dark moments when some puissant knight opened his tired eyelids upon a vision such as I then beheld!… But there was no time for Don Quixoting in that damp and muddy tunnel…. We noticed that the waters neither rose nor fell…. So we plowed our way back to the other members of our party as speedily as we could…. On arriving at the wall again we found my ‘prisoner’ lying propped up against a large slab of concrete and breathing heavily while he held the Empress’ hand and essayed a feeble smile….”

33. The following entry seems to dovetail in:

“The walls of this old _cistern_ promise very little assurance for our escape…. Still the cistern has its uses in circumstances like these…. We KNOW, at least, that some kind of human beings are not beyond our voices if we decide to call for help…. But WHAT KIND of help?… That is the question…. Last night, as I stood on the floor of the cistern I heard an amusing conversation…. A voice overhead was growling; ‘I’m as certain as I’m alive that the loan of $250,000,000 has been made by Japan to those fiends who have escaped,–and I KNOW they have the GOLD, for why have those trucks disappeared?… so it is worth while to keep up this revolution until we get our hands on some of it if we have to follow them all the way to Vladivostok.’… ‘That rumor has been floating around for the past week,’ another bass voice grumbled, ‘and I’m inclined to think it is all a game of bunko to divert attention from the pile of 600,000,000 the gang have smuggled into Omsk.’… ‘Nonsense,’ grunted the other; ‘haven’t we a thousand eyes at Harbin who know about the Chinese Eastern deal?’… ‘Well, the only thing to do is to keep this hell in a constant bubble until we get the stuff at Omsk or the coin Japan has sent to this CREMATED FAMILY here!’…

“… ‘Cremated, Ha! Ha!… why, did you notice those stoves in the house?… They’re not big enough to burn up a good-sized dog!… My judgment tells me that that whole squad of double-crossers are in league with that skunk of a “Captain” who pretended to be a friend of Comrade Trotsky.’… ‘Well, we made a mistake when we endorsed that BURNING lie,–we are ALL in for it NOW, and the only way to get out of it is to STAY IN IT and lie it out to the end–‘…. ‘UNLESS–‘ ‘Unless what?’… ‘Unless the Lett who pretended to do the killing is taken out and SHOT!’… ‘Oh, give him a little more rope and he’ll hang himself!’… When I related this conversation to my ‘prisoner’ he was very much amused…. ‘This is a real adventure!’ he smiled. ‘We’re like Tennyson’s Light Brigade, with cannons in front, and cannons behind us and brigands on every side of us, thirsting for our blood,–these fellows are certainly not Russians!’…”

34. Then we have this entry:

“I have noticed all day that the family is gradually succumbing to the ravages of hunger and thirst…. If we call for help it will mean a FIRING SQUAD for sure…. The criminal crew who have already reported our death will HAVE to KILL us to make good their boast…. So we must stay here and silently watch one another collapse from day to day….

“… My prisoner says he is willing to give himself up if his death will enable the rest of us to escape…. The girls will not listen to such a proposition,–they are all agreed that they would rather organize themselves into a little platoon and FIGHT IT OUT if we can ever get out of this cistern…. It indicates a mighty good spirit,–but that gang outside would have us strung up in the twinkling of an eye….

“… I KNOW that Marie expects ME to do something from the inquiring way she gazes in my eyes…. She says nothing, but any man of spirit who looks into such clear, unflinching eyes under conditions such as these, will understand instinctively what is written in their suggestive depths!… They literally SHAME me for the little I can do…. Some lounge lizards may speculate on the nature of the sentiments this grateful princess will reveal if I display sufficient ingenuity to save us all from this slowly approaching DEATH!… How dramatic!… How absurd!

“… I have lately laughed at those Italian poets who bewail the isolation of their Lauras, yet, recalling my Lady Buckingham’s repeated rescues, I begin to recognize a reason for the existence of that poetic fervor which agitates the artistic heart when either its safety or its vanity is at stake.”…

35. This entry offers a little encouragement:

“There is no such thing as physical exhaustion…. Hunger and thirst may weight us down, but with the right kind of inspiration a man can do miraculous things…. I began rolling up balls of mud from the tunnel and carrying them into the cistern until my tongue hung out of my mouth…. With those balls I started making a winding stairway around the wall of this cistern until I had a dozen steps completed … then the girls began making the balls and bringing them in to me like muddy little hod-carriers…. My masonry took on proportions as the minutes dragged by…. Finally we have a stairway four feet wide