I am questioned by the police - At the Grand Duke Dmitri's palace - Disillusionment.
I slept until ten o'clock. I had barely opened my eyes when I was told that General Grigoriev, the police superintendent of our district, wanted to see me on very important business. I dressed quickly and went into the next room where the general was waiting for me.
ABOVE: Felix and Irina in 1916.
"Your visit is probably connected with the shots fired in the courtyard of our house last night," I said.
"Exactly. My object is to ask you for a detailed account of what happened. Wasn't Rasputin among your guests?" "Rasputin never comes to my house," I replied.
"The reason I ask is that the revolver shots that were heard coincided with his disappearance; the Chief Commissioner of Police has ordered me to send him a report as quickly as possible."
The fact that the shots fired at the Moika were at once connected with Rasputin's disappearance was extremely alarming. I hesitated before answering and chose my words with care: "Who told you that Rasputin had disappeared?"
From what General Grigoriev said, it appeared that the policeman last night had taken fright and had repeated Purichkevich's imprudent words to his chiefs.
I tried to look unconcerned. I was bound by the oath we had taken not to divulge our secret. We still hoped to be able to conceal the true facts. facts.
LEFT: Felix, Irina and their baby, 1916.
"General, I'm very glad that you came to see me yourself. It would be most unfortunate if a report made by a policeman under a misapprehension were to have any disagreeable consequences."
I then recited my story about the dog shot at by a drunken guest. I added that when the policeman, on hearing the shots, had rushed in, Purichkevich, the last of my guests to leave, had gone up to the man and said a few hurried words in his ear. "I have no idea what they were," I continued, "but from what you say yourself, I presume that Purichkevich, who was drunk, must have spoken of the dog, comparing him perhaps to Rasputin and expressing his regret that it was the dog, and not the starets, who had been shot at. Apparently the policeman didn't understand a word of what was told him."
My explanation seemed to satisfy the General, but be wished to know who my other guests had been besides Purichkevich.
"I'd rather not give their names," I replied, "as I don't want them to be worried by a lot of unnecessary inquiries about something of so little importance."
"Thank you very much for the information you've given me," said the General, "I'll tell the Chief Commissioner exactly what you said."
I asked him to inform the Commissioner that I would like to see him and would be obliged if he would give me an appointment.
When the police superintendent had left, I was told that Mlle G. was on the telephone, "What have you done with Gregory Efimovich?" she cried. "Gregory Efimovich? What a strange question!"
"Why strange? Didn't he spend the evening with you yesterday?" Her voice betrayed her agitation. "Where is he? For Heaven's sake, come and see me immediately, I'm in a frightful state." The prospect of a conversation with her was extremely painful but, alas, unavoidable, and half an hour later I was in her drawing room. She rushed up to me and said in a stifled voice: "What have you done with him? They say he was murdered at your house and that it was you who killed him." I tried to reassure her and repeated the story I had invented.
"It's all too horrible," she said. "The Empress and Anna are convinced that you murdered him last night at your house."
"Will you telephone to Tsarskoe Selo and ask if the Empress will receive me? I'll explain the whole thing to her, but be quick."
Mlle G. telephoned to Tsarskoe Selo and was told that Her Majesty was expecting me.
As I was leaving, she took me by the arm: "Don't go to Tsarskoe Selo, I beseech you," she said. "Something dreadful will happen to you if you do; they'll never believe you are innocent of the crime. They've completely lost their heads. They are furious with me, and accuse me of having betrayed them. Ah! why did I listen to you? I should never have telephoned to Tsarskoe Selo. You mustn't go there!"
Her distress touched me, for it was evident that it was not entirely due to Rasputin's disappearance; she was also genuinely worried about me. "May God protect you," she said in a low voice. "I'll pray for you."
I was just leaving the drawing room when the telephone rang. It was Anna Vyrubova who was calling from Tsarskoe Selo to say that the Empress had had a fainting fit; she could not receive me and requested me to send her a written report on all I knew about Rasputin's disappearance.
A short way down the street, I met a friend from the Corps des Pages; he ran up to me, all excited: "Felix, have you heard the news? Rasputin has been killed." "No, really? Who killed him?"
"It's said he was killed at the gypsies', but no one seems to know who murdered him."
"Thank God!" I cried. "I hope it's true."
On returning to the Grand Duke Alexander's palace, I found a note from the Chief Commissioner of Police, General Balk, requesting me to call on him.
The police headquarters were in a state of ferment; I found the General seated at his desk, looking extremely preoccupied. I told him that I wished to explain the misunderstanding caused by Purichkevich's words. I would like to have the matter cleared up as quickly as possible, as I had a few days' leave and was going that same evening to the Crimea, where my family were expecting me.
The Commissioner replied that the explanation I had given General Grigorieff was considered satisfactory and that consequently he saw nothing to prevent my departure, but he warned me that the Empress had given orders to search our house on the Moika. The fact that the shots fired there coincided with Rasputin's disappearance seemed, to say the least of it, suspicious.
I answered: "Our house is occupied by my wife. She is the Emperor's niece, and residences of members of the Imperial family may not be searched without an order from the Emperor himself."
The Commissioner was obliged to agree, and canceled the search warrant on the spot.
I was immensely relieved, as I feared that although we had cleaned the rooms last night something might have escaped us, and a visit from the police was to be avoided at all costs until we were sure that no trace of the murder was left. My mind at rest on that score, I took my leave of General Balk and went back to the Moika.
On inspecting the scene of the tragedy, I found that my fears were all too well founded. By daylight, dark stains could be clearly seen on the steps. Ivan and I cleaned the whole place thoroughly once again, and when we had finished I went to lunch with Dmitri. Sukhotin came in after lunch. We asked him to go and fetch Purichkevich. In view of the fact that we were all leaving town-the Grand Duke for General Headquarters, Purichkevich for the front, and myself for the Crimea-it was imperative that we should meet and decide on the line we would take if any one of us were detained in St. Petersburg, or arrested. As soon as Purichkevich arrived we agreed, no matter what new evidence was brought up against us, that we would stick to the story I had told General Grigorieff.
And so the first step had been taken; the way lay open to those who had the means of continuing the struggle against Rasputinism. As far as we were concerned, our role was over, for the time being. I said good-by to my friends and returned to the Moika. When I got there I was told that all our servants had been questioned during the course of the day. I did not know the result of the examination, and although I considered the procedure somewhat arbitrary, yet what I heard from my servants left me feeling hopeful,
I decided to go and see Makaroff, the Minister of Justice, to try and discover how the land lay. I found the same confusion at the Ministry of justice as at police headquarters. I had never seen Makarov, and took an immediate liking to him. He was an elderly man with gray hair and a beard, a thin face, pleasant features and a very gentle voice.
I explained to him the reason for my visit and at his request repeated my story about the dog which, by this time, I knew by heart.
When I got to Purichkevich's conversation with the policeman, the minister interrupted me: "I know Purichkevich very well and I know that he never drinks; what's more, if I am not mistaken, he belongs to a temperance society." "I assure you that, on this occasion, he belied his reputation for temperance and broke his pledge. It was difficult for him to refuse to drink last night, as I was having a housewarming. If Purichkevich is usually as abstemious as you say, a few glasses of wine were probably enough to intoxicate him."
Then I asked the Minister if my servants would be questioned again and whether they were likely to have any further trouble. They were all very worried, as I was leaving for the Crimea that night.
The Minister set my mind at rest: he said that the police would most probably be satisfied with the evidence they had already got. He promised not to allow our house to be searched, and that he would pay no attention to the rumors that were rife. I asked whether I might leave St. Petersburg; he answered in the affirmative and once more expressed his regret for the annoyance I had been caused. I had a strong feeling that neither General Grigoriev, nor the Chief Commissioner, nor the Minister of justice was taken in by what I had told them.
On leaving the Ministry of Justice, I went to see the President of the Duma, Rodzianko - a distant connection of mine whom I liked very much. Both he and his wife had known of my intention to kill Rasputin, and anxiously awaited news of me. I found them in a highly nervous state. Aunt Rodzianko kissed me tearfully and blessed me. Uncle Rodzianko applauded my conduct in a voice of thunder. Their kindly attitude encouraged and soothed me; I very much appreciated their sincere and warm sympathy; and at this juncture, when I was going through such an ordeal entirely by myself, it was doubly precious. But I could not stay long with them as my train was due to leave at nine, and I still had to pack.
Before I went, I gave them a brief account of the whole affair. "From now on," I told them, "we will do nothing more and will leave to others the task of carrying on our work. Pray God that concerted action will be taken, and that the Emperor's eyes will be opened before it is too late. Such an opportunity will never occur again."
"I am sure that everyone will consider Rasputin's assassination an act of patriotism," replied Rodzianko, "and that all true Russians will unite to save their country."
On reaching the Grand Duke Alexander's palace, the porter told me that the lady with whom I had an appointment at seven o'clock was waiting for me in the small sitting room next to my bedroom.
As I had made no appointment with any lady, I asked the porter to describe the visitor: she was dressed in black, but be could not make out her features as she was wearing a thick veil. This all seemed very mysterious, so I went straight to my room and half-opened the door which communicated with the sitting room. I recognized my visitor as one of Rasputin's most fervent admirers. I called the porter, and told him to tell the lady that I would not be in until very late; after which, I started hurriedly to pack.
As I went down to dinner, I met my friend Oswald Rayner, a British officer whom I had known at Oxford. He knew of our conspiracy and had come in search of news. I hastened to set his mind at case.
In the dining room I found my wife's three brothers who were also going to the Crimea, their English tutor Mr. Stuart, the Grand Duchess Ksenia Alexandrovna's lady-in-waiting MIle Evreinofv, and several others.
Everyone discussed Rasputin's mysterious disappearance. Some did not believe him to be dead, and said that all the rumors afloat were pure inventions; some, claiming to have it on the best authority, from eye-witnesses even, declared that the starets had been assassinated during an orgy at the gypsies'; others stated that Rasputin's murder had taken place at the Moika. Although no one thought I had taken an active part in the assassination, they were all convinced that I knew the particulars and hoped that, if enough questions were fired at me, I would give myself away. But I managed to look unconcerned, and took part sincerely in the general rejoicing.
The telephone never stopped ringing. The whole town believed that I was responsible for Rasputin's disappearance. Directors of factories and representatives of various businesses rang up to tell me that their workmen had decided to form a bodyguard to protect me if the need arose.
I told them all that the stories going about were untrue and that I had nothing to do with the matter.
Half an hour before the train left, I said good-by to everybody and drove away with my wife's three brothers, Princes Andrew, Theodore and Nikita, the latter's tutor, and my friend Captain Rayner. When we got to the station, I noticed a considerable force of police.
Had there been an order for my arrest? I wondered. As I was about to pass the colonel of the military police, he came up to me and mumbled something incomprehensible in a voice shaking with emotion. "Speak up, Colonel, I can't hear you," I said.
Regaining a little self-assurance, he raised his voice: "By order of Her Majesty the Empress, you are forbidden to leave St. Petersburg. You are to return to the Grand Duke Alexander's palace and stay there until further notice."
"I am sorry," I replied, "that doesn't suit me at all." Then turning to my friends, I repeated the order I had just received. They were extremely surprised at the news of my arrest. "What's the matter? What's happened?" asked poor Mr. Stuart, the English tutor, who had no idea of what was going on...
Andrew and Theodore decided to postpone their journey in order to stay with me. We thought it better, however, for little Nikita to leave for the Crimea with his tutor.
We took them to the train, followed by the police who were probably afraid that I might give them the slip. A large crowd gathered, staring inquisitively at our little group as it moved down the platform, surrounded by the police.
I went into the compartment to say good-by to Nikita; the police looked more and more nervous. I set their minds at rest by declaring that I had no intention of taking French leave.
When the train started, we drove back to the palace. I felt very tired after such an eventful day. I went to my room, asking Theodore and my friend Rayner to stay with me.
A little later, the Grand Duke Nicholas Mikhailovich was announced. His visit at such a late hour boded no good. He had obviously come to find out what had happened; I was tired and did not feel like going over the whole thing again.
Theodore and Rayner left me when the Grand Duke came in "Well," he said, "what have you been up to?"
"Is it possible that you too believe all that nonsense? The whole business is nothing but a series of misunderstandings. I had nothing to do with it."
"Tell it to the marines! I know all about it. I know every detail, even to the names of the ladies who were at your party."
His last words proved that he knew absolutely nothing, and was only trying to bluff me into talking. I don't know whether or not he believed the story I reeled off once more for his benefit, but he did not want to seem convinced by it, and left looking slightly incredulous and a trifle vexed at not having discovered anything new.
When he had gone, I told my brothers-in-law and Rayner that I had decided to stay with the Grand Duke Dmitri and would move over to his palace the next day. I gave them instructions as to what they were to say if they were questioned. All three promised to carry out my wishes implicitly. The events of the night before came back to me with horrible intensity; then my mind grew hazy, my head heavy, and I fell asleep.
Early next morning, I went to Dmitri's palace; the Grand Duke was astonished to see me, as he thought I had left for the Crimea. I told him all that had happened since we parted, and asked him if he could put me up, so that we could be together during the anxious days that lay before us.
He then told me that be had been obliged, the evening before, to leave the Michael Theater before the end of the performance so as to escape an ovation from the audience. On returning home, he was told that the Empress believed him to be one of the prime movers in the murder of Rasputin. He had immediately telephoned to Tsarskoe Selo to ask for an audience. This had been flatly refused.
A few minutes later I went to the room he had had prepared for me, and skimmed through the newspapers. They contained a brief announcement to the effect that the starets Gregory Rasputin had been murdered during the night of December 29.
The morning passed quietly. About one o'clock, while we were still at lunch, General Maximovitch, the Emperor's aide-de-camp, asked to speak to the Grand Duke on the telephone.
Dmitri left the room to answer the call, and returned looking upset: "I'm under arrest by order of the Empress," he said. "She has no right to issue such an order. Only the Emperor can have me arrested."
While we were discussing this unpleasant news, General Maximovitch himself was announced. As soon as he was shown in, he said to the Grand Duke: "Her Majesty the Empress requests his Imperial Highness not to leave his palace." "Does this mean that I am under arrest?"
"No, you are not under arrest, but Her Majesty insists that you do not leave your palace."
The Grand Duke replied, raising his voice: "I consider that this is equivalent to an arrest. Tell Her Majesty the Empress that I will obey her wish." Coldly saluting General Maximovitcb, the Grand Duke left the room.
All the members of the Imperial family who were in St. Petersburg came to call on Dmitri. The Grand Duke Nicholas Mikhailovich came several times a day, or telephoned the wildest, most improbable news, couched in such mysterious terms that we never really knew what it was all about. He always tried to bluff us that he knew all about the conspiracy, hoping by this means to worm our secret out of us.
He took an active part in the search for Rasputin's body. He warned us that the Tsarina, convinced of our complicity in Rasputin's assassination, demanded that we be shot at once. He added that this had raised a storm of protest; even Protopopoff had advised her to wait until the Tsar returned. The latter was kept in touch with events by telegram, and was expected back shortly.
I heard at the same time from Mlle G., that about twenty of Rasputin's most fervent followers had met in her flat and sworn to avenge him. She had been present, and strongly urged us to take every precaution to protect ourselves against a possible attempt upon our lives.
An endless stream of callers, mostly inquisitive newsmongers, kept us on tenterhooks. We had constantly to be on the alert lest we should give ourselves away by a word or a look which would have been enough to confirm the suspicions of those who harried us with questions. They were often filled with the best intentions, which made things no easier, and we hailed the end of each day with relief.
The rumor of our impending execution caused great agitation among the factory workers, and they decided to form a bodyguard for our protection.
The Tsar returned to Tsarskoe Selo on the morning of January first. Members of his suite said that he received the news of Rasputin's death without comment, and his cheerfulness had struck those around him. Never since the beginning of the war had he seemed so lighthearted. No doubt he thought that the death of the starets had put an end to the bondage from which he had been too weak to free himself. But no sooner had he reached Tsarskoe Selo than he fell once again under the influence of certain of his intimates, and once again his outlook changed.
Although only members of the Imperial family were allowed to enter the Grand Duke's palace, we contrived to receive our friends in secret. Several officers called to assure us that their regiments were ready to protect us. They even went so far as to propose that Dmitri should take the lead in a coup d'etat. Many of the Grand Dukes thought that an attempt should still be made to save the regime by a change of rulers. Their plan was to march on Tsarskoe Selo by night, along with some of the Guards regiments. The Emperor was to be persuaded to abdicate, the Empress shut up in a convent, and the Tsarevitch proclaimed Emperor with the Grand Duke Nicholas Nicholaievich as Regent. It was considered that Dmitri's participation in Rasputin's assassination made him the ideal person to head this movement, and they implored him to complete the good work he had begun for the salvation of the nation. The Grand Duke's loyalty did not permit him to accept these proposals.
The very evening of the Emperor's return, the Grand Duke Nicholas Mikhailovich told us that Rasputin's body had been found near the Petrovski Bridge, in a hole in the ice. We heard later that it had been taken to the Veterans' Home at Tchesma, a short distance from St. Petersburg, on the road to Tsarskoe Selo. When the post mortem was over, Sister Akoulina, the young nun who had been exorcized by Rasputin, arrived bearing an order from the Tsarina and laid out the corpse with the help of a male nurse. She placed a crucifix on the starets' breast and the following message from the Empress in his hands:
My dear martyr, give me your blessing, that it may always be with me for the rest of my sorrowful journey on earth. And from Heaven, remember us in your holy prayers! ALEXANDRA
On the evening of January first, a few hours after the discovery of Rasputin's body, General Maximovitch came to notify the Grand Duke Dmitri-this time in the Emperor's name-that he was to consider himself under arrest in his palace.
We spent an agitated night. At about three in the morning, several suspicious-looking men, who pretended they had been sent to protect us, tried to make their way into the palace through the back entrance. As they could not produce a written authority, they were turned out, and trustworthy retainers were placed on guard at all the palace entrances.
The next day, as usual, nearly all the members of the Imperial family forgathered in Dmitri's palace; his arrest was on everyone's mind and was the sole topic of conversation. To take such a step against a member of the Imperial family was apparently an event of such importance that everything else faded into the background. It never occurred to anyone that interests far greater than our own were at stake, and that the future of the country and of the dynasty depended on the decisions taken by the Emperor in the days to come; not to speak of the war, which could only be brought to a victorious end if the people and the Sovereign were united. Rasputin's death made a new policy possible, which would have rid Russia once and for all of the network of criminal intrigues in which she was involved.
On the evening Of the 3rd, several men of the secret police turned up at the palace. They had been sent by Protopopoff to guard the Grand Duke Dmitri. The latter sent word that be needed no help from the Minister of the Interior, and that he refused to allow the police to enter his palace. Soon after, an other guard arrived-a military one, this time-sent by General Kabaloff, Governor of St. Petersburg, at the request of Trepoff, the Prime Minister, who had discovered that Rasputin's followers were plotting to murder us. And so, what with Kabaloff's soldiers watching Protopopoff's spies, we could not complain that we lacked protection.
At the outbreak of war, the Grand Duke had given the first floor of his palace to be used as an Anglo-Russian hospital. This communicated with Dmitri's apartments by a private staircase. Some of Rasputin's partisans entered the hospital on the pretext of visiting the wounded, but really with the intention of trying to gain access to the Grand Duke's apartments. The attempt failed, for they were stopped at the bottom of the stairs by a sentry, placed there by the head nurse, Lady Sybil Grey.
We lived in a state of siege. We could follow events only in the newspapers or from what our visitors told us. They gave us their views and expressed their personal opinions, but they all seemed chary of taking any initiative, and no one had any concrete plans for the future. Those who could have acted stayed in the background and left Russia to her fate. They were so fainthearted that they could not combine to take joint action.
Toward the end of his reign, Nicholas II was crushed by anxiety and disheartened by his political misadventures. He was a confirmed fatalist, and convinced that it was useless to struggle against destiny. If, however, he had seen the Grand Dukes joining with some of the leading and more loyal politicians in an effort to save Russia, this would have given him the courage and the energy to try to retrieve the situation.
But where were the right men to be found? For many years, Rasputin had by his intrigues demoralized the better elements in the Government, and had sown skepticism and distrust in the hearts of the people. Nobody wanted to take a decision, for nobody believed that any decision would be of any use.
After all our visitors had gone, we summed up what we had heard during the day, and the result was disheartening. All our fine hopes, all the ideals for which we bad fought during the dreadful night of December 29, had come to naught. And we realized then how difficult it is to change the course of events even when one is actuated by the loftiest motives, and prepared to make great sacrifices.
Yet we did not give up all hope. The country was with us, full of confidence in the future. A wave of patriotism swept over Russia, particularly in St. Petersburg and in Moscow. The papers published enthusiastic articles, in which they claimed that Rasputin s death meant the defeat of the powers of evil and held out golden hopes for the future. This corresponded with public opinion. Unfortunately the press was not able to express itself so freely for long. On the third day after the starets' disappearance, an order was issued forbidding the papers even to mention the name of Rasputin. This did not prevent the crowds in the streets from giving vent to their feelings. Complete strangers stopped to congratulate each other on the death of the evil genius. People knelt to pray before the Grand Duke's palace, and before our house on the Moika. The Te Deum was sung in the churches, and at the theaters, audiences insisted on the national anthem being played again and again, We were toasted in regimental messes; factory workers gave cheers in our honor. Letters from all parts of Russia brought us thanks and blessings. True, Rasputin's partisans did not forget us either; they covered us with abuse and uttered dire threats.
Dmitri's sister, the Grand Duchess Marie Pavlovna, arrived from Pskov where the headquarters of the armies of the North were established; she described the wave of enthusiasm which swept over the troops when they heard that Rasputin was dead. They were convinced that, delivered at last from the starets' evil influence, the Emperor would now be able to choose wise and experienced advisers among his loyal subjects to help him govern the country.
A few days later, my hopes were raised by a summons I received from Trepoff the Prime Minister, but I was once again to be disappointed. He had been ordered by the Emperor to find out at all costs the name of the man who had murdered Rasputin.
I was taken under escort to the Ministry of the Interior. The Minister greeted me in the most friendly way and asked me not to consider him as an official, but as an old friend of the family.
"I presume that you sent for me by order of the Emperor?" I asked. "That is so."
"Then everything I tell you will be reported to His Majesty?"
"Naturally. I can conceal nothing from my Sovereign."
"In that case, do you really expect me to admit anything, even supposing it was I who killed Rasputin? And do you imagine for one moment that I would give away my accomplices? Be good enough to let His Majesty know that those who killed Rasputin had only one object: to save the Tsar and Russia. Excellency," I continued, "allow me to ask you a question, to ask you personally: is it possible that precious time is going to be wasted in tracking Rasputin's assassins at this critical moment when the future of our country is at stake? This is her last chance of salvation. Look at the enthusiasm Rasputin's death has roused all over Russia; look at the panic of his partisans. As to the Tsar, I am convinced that at the bottom of his heart he is overjoyed, and expects all of you to help him in his task. Unite and act before it is too late. Is it possible that no one realizes that we are on the eve of a terrible disaster and that, unless there is a radical change in our home policy, the Imperial regime, the Emperor himself' and all his family, will be swept away on the wave of a revolution which threatens to break over Russia and in which we shall all be lost?" Trepoff listened to me in silence: "Prince," be asked, "where did you gain such self-possession and surprising clearness of vision?"
I left this question unanswered. This was the last attempt we made to win over any of the high government officials.
Meanwhile, Dmitri's fate and mine remained undecided. It was the subject of endless discussions at Tsarskoe Selo. On January 3, the Grand Duke Alexander Mikhailovich arrived from Kiev, which was his headquarters as Chief of Military Aviation. On hearing of the danger we were in, he telegraphed the Emperor, asking for an audience. He came to see us for a few minutes before going to Tsarskoe Selo.
As a result of his intervention, the Grand Duke Dmitri received the order transmitted by General Maximovitch to leave immediately for Persia, where he was to remain under the supervision of General Baratoff, who commanded a detachment of our troops in that country. General Leiming and Count Koutaisoff, aide-de-camp to the Emperor, were appointed to go with him; his train left at two in the morning.
I also was exiled from St. Petersburg. I was to go that night to our estate of Rakitnoe and remain there until further orders. Captain Zentchikov, instructor at the Corps des Pages, and Ignatieff, an agent of the secret police, were to go with me and see that I spoke to no one until I reached my destination.
Both Dmitri and I hated being separated. We had grown to know each other better in the few days we had spent together as prisoners in his palace than in all the long years of our friendship. What high hopes we had had!... And all our golden dreams had come to naught! When should we meet again, and under what circumstances? The future was black, and we were filled with dark forebodings.
At half past twelve, the Grand Duke Alexander Mikhailovich came to take me to the station. The platform was closed to the public, and detachments of police were stationed everywhere. I entered my coach with a heavy heart. The bell rang, the engine whistled shrilly, the platform seemed to glide away and disappear. St. Petersburg vanished into the night as the train started on its lonely journey across the shadowy plains which lay asleep under the snow. My thoughts were dark indeed as the wheels thudded monotonously over the tracks.
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