Chapter 153387796

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Chapter NumberLXXXVII
Chapter TitleTHE MURDER OF THE CZAR.
Chapter Urlhttp://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article153387796
Full Date1891-04-11
Page Number2
Corrections0
Word Count3571
IllustratedN
Last Corrected0000-00-00
Newspaper TitleDaily Telegraph (Launceston,Tas. : 1883 - 1928)
Trove TitleNina the Nihilist. A Romance of the Russia of To-Day
article text

NINA THE NIHILIST. I

ROMANCE OP THE RUSSIA OF TO-DAY.

By JAMES B. BORLASE. Author of ' Both Princess Police' Spy 1 ' ' Through a Thousand Perils,' 'Queen oE tbe Harem,' wTbe Rose of Rochdale,' &c.

CHAPTER LXX3CV1L THB MUBDBB OF THE nr.Ati

It was ft bright and glittering winter day* and the snow pall was over everything. It had been preceded by a three days' rapid tbaw, however, which had broken up the ice in the river, where flje was rushing against floe, now with a mighty crash, and anon with a wailing, grinding noise that once heard is never forgotten. ? We thall have the Baptism in Jordan earlier than usual this year,' one bearded peasant would mutter to another, all unconscious that a baptism of blood was to arrive first, and that it was At that very moment at hand.

'The Crar reviews the Valhinian Light Horse and Circassians of the Guard at the Michaeloffeky Menage to-day,' Jenny Douglas announced, lor tbe mere sake of saying something, as she Came in from attending High Mass at St. Isaac's stately cithedral, for there being no church of her own persuasion it . St. Petersburg she | thought in better to worship in the temples of the people amonget whom she dwelt than to shun divine service alto gether, ! 'Her hearers made no answer for the fz&r's name was hateful to them, a fact | which Jenny had forgotten. i Haidly had the three finished dinner i when the Bound of a distant military tend i reached their ears, and with it the same I idea seemed to strike mother and daughter at once, for they looked at one another | across the table, and each turned pale as she met the other's fixed regard. 'Jeuny/ eaid the elder woman, 'a portion of the imperial procession may return this way, and it won't come with out the accompanying crowd and as some of tbe crowd will doubtless want cigars, f;o into the shop, my dear, and do nob eave it for an instant or we may get some thing stolen. Nina and 1 will sit upstairs until ell is quiet again.' The innocent English girl suspected nothing, for she knew nothing of the dread ful bombs — Tifchekin's legacy to his mother and eister — and she went into the shop, which like all others of the same kind in Huetia, was open od Sunday directly Mass was over. Hardly had Nina and her mother gained (.he drawing-room floor and looked forth from the window of the front room than it became evident to both of them that the Imperial c ortltye was coming down Ekater ioofsky road. ' Our hour of vengeance baa come. Get -vir. the bombs/ eaid the old Princess to her daughter. inure was a burning flush on the young girl's cheeks as she hastened to do so. 1 At length I will avenge my murdered father and husband,' she eaid bitterly. ?And also your murdered brother* my darling son,' added the mother ; * ay, and my scars, my brandings, and the horrible tortures, to which I was subjected by the myrmidons of the despot whom we are about to destroy. History will write ue down patriots if wa thus affect tbe de liver- ance of Russia.' Nina brought three of the loaded bomb shells and placed them on her mother's lap, who threw her apron lightly over them, and then smiled grimly on he child. 'Yes. he is coming this way,' ex claimed Nina as she again looked from tbe window. 'How the crowd is gathering along tbe canal bank, and all well dressed people, too. I hope there is no chance of our slaying the innocent along with the guilty mother?' ' My dear, God can protect the Innocent and doubtles will, Let not that thought disturb you,' 'I will not? mother. Ah, here eome the advanced guard of Cossacks, Don Cos* sacks.' ? Cursed Asiatics, who would as coon as not steep their steel in the blood of the people. Ha, Nina, look yonder. There is my eon's friend, Roussakoff, the young mining engineer, well to the front of the crowd, with something under his cloak. He stands not there for naught. Sae how stern and pale his face is, he will have the first chance,' A couple of dashing warriors in chain mail, with long steel bows and quivers full of arrows at their hacks, with crimson plumes streaming from their burnished helmets, and tufts of feathers fluttering from below the gleaming points of their long reedy spears, caracolled their black Arabian horses down either side of the way, thus clearing the road for the Imperial corttge. Taen came the troop of Cossacks, flares fellows, who scowled on the civilian on lookers, and who wore ehort blue jackets oovered with gold lace, and baggy trousers of scarlet cloth tucked into light brown boots of untanned leather, whilst their busbies of black shining fur were decorated with bright scarlet bags, tall white feathers, a cockade, and a gold taeselled cord. They were armed with lance, carbine, anl pistol. 'There is tbe Imperial carriage I can see tbe tyrant. Ah, be is not rfone — his brother the Grand Duke Michael, is with him. Well, he is of the same brood, and I only wish the Csarewitch was there with all his brata as wel1, and then we'd be able to make a sweep of the lot. I will throw open the window at the right moment, aud you shall hurl the bombs, for your hand is steadier and your eye is truer than mine. The sashes will make no noise in going up, for I have kept everything constantly oiled. Now, brace yourself and be firm/ This came from tbe elder lady, who had her hand on the lower sash. Nina's heart beat fast, for she felt the moment had come from which half her countrymen would call her a murderess and the other half a patriot. Yes, another half-minute and the Imperial carriage would be right under the window. But ah, what was that ? A sharp metallic sound, a loud explosion, 8 fiaeh of flame and cloud of smoke, and then the Imperial carriage emerging with romping, plunging, maddened horses, a white-faced, terrified driver, and a of splintered wood and scorched panelling, and prostrate bodies all around. ' Twas Roussakoff, and he has robbed us of our revenge,' hissed Nina's mother be tween her teeth, 'But no,' she added, 'the tyrant and his brother are alighting, and there comes Dvorjetsky, the police colonel, in his well horsed sleigh, like a dash of light upon the scene. What tumult 1 and the Cossacks have along their lances and drawn their aworda. They are going to sabre the people. ?No,' answered Nina, 'The Czar has ordered them to theath their weapons and injure no one. Bee, regardless of his own danger he is helping ts attend to the wounded. Mother, can he be such a tyrant after all ?' ' He murdered your father, your husband, and your brother, and look at your mother's face to see what she has to thank him and his Government for. Ha, they have got Roussakoff. Bee how he struggles In the grasp of the two marines. Is that a revolver which he has in his hand ? Yes, and he will kill himself yet. Alas, no, it is wrenched from his grasp by Colonel Dvorjetsky. But he handles a dagger now. Dvorjetsky is wounded, but closes with him, Now the dagger's gone and he is ironed. Good-bye, Roussakoff, the gibbet is waitiag , for you, true patriot and Bussian that you , are. Now, Nina, child, now it is our turn ; the oppressor is just beneath our window and the Grand Duke is trying to persuade him to re-enter bis carriage* ' And he won't do so until that poor, shattered Cossack has been helped in first. Oh, mother, I can't throw the bomb. 1 can't attempt his life now/ moaned Nina ' Little fool, your father and husband will curse you from their graves if you do n '»t, J(your branded BDd disfigured mother, , will curse you. Now dare to shrink from | your appointed task,' and up flew tbe window sash. With an ejaculation that might have been tbe wail of a lost soul, so despairing and beart-resdieg was it, Nina took up one of the loaded bombshells from her mother's lap, and cast it out of the window at the v«iy feet of the Czir as he stood superintending the lifting up of the maimed Cossack. Her ejee dilated with horror, her Hps pale ' ana parting, and her hands olasped

together, Nina, the Nihilist, watched it fall and explode. Through the red flame and the dark etr.oke she saw the Emperor drop, eaw hie life-blood redden the white snow, beheld hie shattered limbs, his pale quivering face, beard bis piteous cries of ' Help me 1' and the murmur of the crowd swelling into a roar which proclaimed her to be a regicide. No wonder she paled with horror. ?It is all over and we are safe. 8ee, child, the esBh is down, and no one eaw It lifted. Not an eye was«aised to the win dow, dear, eo don't look eo terrified. No one noticed the bomb until it struck the ground and exploded, and it will be thought that it wae thrown from the crowd like the fret. Oh, my -Child, you have bravely avenged your kindred. Come to your mother's arms apd let her bless you. Bbe placed the two remaining bombs cirefntty op the floor, and, rieicg from her chair, approached her daughter with out* stretched arms ; but Nina shrank from her with horror. ? Don't come near me/ ehe shrieked, , * Djn't touch me unless you would see me eink dead at joar f^et. Oh, keep away, keep away, mother.' I The PriQcees Orloff, thus ad jared, stood 6teck siilf, as though 6he had suddenly changed into marble, and stared at her daughter aghast. But Nina did not for more than a second remain in her presence to be thus regarded. She tushed to her bedroom, nastily donued outdoor apparel, thrust a small loaded revolver into her bosom, and ran downstairs, determined on nothing but to leave at once and for ever the house where in she felt that ehe must go raving mad if she could not manage to get away. Two or three wounded people had been brought into the shop, and were lying there on the floor as Nina passed hastily through it to gain the street. 4 Oh, where are you going?' asked the terrified Jenny as she caught sight of her pale, horror-stricken face. 'To meet my doom/ was the awful re ponBe; and Nina patsed out into tbe street and mingled with the crowd.

CHiPrEH LXXXVllh GBNBBAL POPEMOFF MB BIS HIS FATE. Niaa reached the street in time to see the dying Emperor lifted into the sleigh of Lhe Colonel of Police and borne away in the direction of the Winter Palace. lhe sight cave her a still stronger revul sion of feeling. She was no longer a Nihilist She would willingly have suffered death in the most agonising form could she but have restored tbe precious life which she had so ruthlessly taken, for a tingle glance had convinced her that the Czar must die. She made her way unnoticed through the excited crowd, the msjor part of which was calliflg down curses upon the assassin of their Emperor, whilst the secret police were gliding etealthily hither and thither looking for suspects. It woe a wonder that the Princess was not arrested ; indeed ehe vaguely marvelled at it herself, bat ehe got out of the crowd in safety and soon reached a portion of the city where even news of the catastrophe had not yet arrived. By this time Nina had fully made up her mind to destroy herself, for she felt that to live on would be impossible with each « load of sin upon her mind and conscience. Suddenly, however, ehe came to a full stop as the idea occurred to her that perhaps her mother might be arrested and punished for her crime. True ehe had been a partner as well as the prime mover, and but for her threatened curse the deed would never have been committed, but then she was after all her mother, and ehe had suffered much, and her child'e first thought was naturally bow to eave her. So ehe went into a tmell^tationer'e shop and asked for a sheet for paper, an envelope, and an indelible ink pencil, and, provided with these, ehe came forth again, her mind made up now that ehe would eeek some restaurant, order a cup of chocolate in a private room, and there pen her confession and afterwards shoot herself dead with the revolver that lay on her bosom. Scarcely had ehe resolved upon her plan of action, when ehe felt a hand upon her arm, and looking around, beheld old General Popemoff. 'Ah, little runaway/ said he, 'and so I have found you at last ?' ' Unhand me, sirl'retorted Nina, within expressible scorn. 1 Unhand me.' ' Come, come, it's no good your attempt* ins to ride the high horse, you know. Whafe becoming enough in a Princess is quite out of place in a pauper. That's my elelgh standing by the curbstone. If you decline to enter it quietly with me I shall denounce you as a Nihilist. I have more evidence than you may think to support the charge, and I see two of the secret police coming this way.' Nina was in no degree appalled by the old dotard's threats, yet after a moment e reflection ehe consented to enter the sleigh ?with him. ? A sensible girl, after all/ chuckled the old man, ' as sensible as pretty. I hate using threats and force with one so young 8sd lovely, ay, by Heaven I do ; but it's all for your own good, my dear. He who lifts a pretty little kitten by the skin of its neck out of a filthy coal-cellar in order to carry it to a nice quilted basket before a cheery fire in tbe drawing room, where he will give it nice bread and sop out of a clean eaucer, in lieu of old fish bones off a foul dung-heap, can hardly be called cruel.' By this time Nina had ensconced herself | in furs, end the General had tucked himself I up likewise. Then he shouted ' Home {' to the istvost chlck, and away they sped. 'Oh, my darling you shall never have reBRon to regret this step/ simpered Fope ^ ' No, I know that I shall not/ responded Nina, whose fingers were buty unbuttoning the front of her dress, and the next instant the revolver that she had hidden there was in her lap, a bitter smile playing upon j upon her lips as her hand closed around toe etock. j ' General Popfmoff/ ehe said presently, j ' do you know why 1 am sitting in your I sleigh ?' | ' To be conveyed to a new home of a j thousand comforts and delights.' I ? Indeed you are entirely mistaken. I am ' in your company for the sole purpose of I forcing from you a written confession that ! it was you, who, with perjured testimony and by other vile means, sought the dis grace and death of my husband! Ton hear me?' ' And laugh at you into the bargain. How can you force me to confess anything, far less to commit it to writing, whilst driving in an opan sleigh through a fashionable street at midday ? Why, my pretty one, you are eurely going maa/ *1 am going to my grave, and I little thought five minutes ago that I should take a carriage driver thither. General Pope moff, there ie a paper and a pencil, and, concealed by the carriage-rug, I hold the muzzle of a six-chambered revolver within a couple of inches of your body, whilst the forefinger of my right hand Is curled around the trigger. Write the words I am about to dictate to you, or, by heaven. I will first ehoot you dead and then myself.' 'Come/ said Nina, impatiently, 'here are the paper and pencil. Excuse my handing them to you with my left hand, but I can't take my right hand off my revolver stock lest you might succeed in playing me eome trick. That is indelible ink, and water won't wash it out. Now, then either write or die.' The General took the paper and pencil. ' What am I to write ?' 4 As 1 dictate. ' I General Popemoff.' Hare you got that down ? ' ? Lord bless me, no. ' I -General Pompe rnoff/ Well, go on., ? Hereby confess to having wrought !the destruction of Count Alexis Tolkstoi, on the false charge of high ^reason, by perjured testimony, suborn witnesses and 1 the surreptitious planting of criminating evidence about his person.' Now sign your name.' ' But this document may ruin me/ pleaded the General. 1 What do I care for that, if it only vindicates tbe memory of the innocent. Bipn 1' The istvostchick sitting on tbe little front seat of tbe well shaped sleigh, with a bitter east wind blowing right in his teeth could hear nothing of this threat, but the discrepit old General could hear every word, eo clear though low were Nina's accents, and a glance showed hJm how terribly ehe was in earnest. He saw that he was caught in a trap of his ows setting, and that the young gill who towpred half a head Above him m

te sat by her tide was both'desperate And t ?es^lved. \ He knew that as regarded muscular itrength old age and a complication til selaaiee had left him far her inferior, rad -as he gnawed the ends of Mils ;o use grey moustache, in spite at beSbg . ihue outwitted, he thought, indeed he was very sure, that he felt that revolver poking about amongst hisViibp through all his wrapj and furs, and .das- J pite the bitter wind and the freezing xCold great drops of perspiration began to gather on bis face. Under the fear of death the General signed as directed. ' Now/ said Nina ' tear that sheet of bote- . piper carefully down tbe middle, aud hand me the half on which your confession is written. That is it. Thank yeu, And now on the remaining half sheet write mine. It will be as short as your own, and of every bit as black a crime. Now, ace you ready to begin?' 1 Yes, and willing,' replied Popemoff, with something like an oath. ' ' 1, the Princess Nina Orloff, confess to having this day ? ' Now don't drop the : pencil at tbe next few words, or it may not be easy to find it again amongst all these rugs and wraps, and time preses. Have you got that down. ?Yes, yee; go on, girl, for my hand is fretzing to the paper.' ' 'Confess to having this day murdered the Czir, by throwing an Orsini bombshell from the tirtt floor window of No. 244, Kkaterioofski-road as Bi9 Mejesty was standing directly beneath, bending over a Cossack who had been wounded by a former bomb that was thrown by a stranger amongst the crowd. And 1 declire five minutes before destroying myself through remorse at having committed so great a crime, that I had no accomplices. Now bold it towards me and place the pencil in this left hand of mine.' *£?qmpem&ff did so, and Niaa signed her mme at the foot of the confession. There ' eaid ehe, 4 take that and guard it. It may save innocent people, perhaps, from being punished for the crime of which 1 alone am guilty. Now you miy put me down as soon ee you like. You will be chary of calling upon the crowd to arrest me, for your confession is in my pocket as mine is in yours. I would avenge my murdered husband by shooting you, bis destroyer, bat that I am sick of blood. ? I will, therefore, leave his cause with God.' * Why ehould either of these silly con fessions be used? What has been djne cannot be undone. Com?, zsy country 6eat and all the comforts ana luxuries are still at your disposal. You shall be treated there with as much reverence and honor as though you were my own daughter/ * Four youngest grand-daughter you mean. Yes until you had got from me your confession, and so were able, by hold ing mine over my head, to frighten me into compliance with your infamous desire No, 'General Popemoff, you cannot im pose on me. Here we are on the bank of the river. How tbe ice fl )es dash against each other. You drove my husband to a watery grave, and I will eeeek the same cold tomb. Ha, but the confes sion— (To be continued.)