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BELLA DEMONIA.

A STORY OF THE FRANCO-PRUSSIAN WAK. [By Slii.lNA Dolauo.] CHAPTER VI. IN THE FORTRESS OF TUK SCULUSSKLBUKf:. On one of the islands that cluster in the mouth of the Neva rises a gaunt pile of buildings, within hailing distance of which no boat save one ever approaches. It is the dreaded fortress of the Sohlusselburg, one of tho great prisons whero political suspects are incarcerated. Tho other is the Fortress of St. Peter and St. Paul. The Sehlusselburg has been dramatically described by an American writer as follows :—" The guards arc eo thick on the banks of the island that they can speak to one another; and their orders are, as they pace their heats, to shoot any person who attempts to land. No warning is given ; no password is asked. As soon as the foot of a stranger touches the turf on the banks of the island a bullet is fired at his heart. His body falls into the stream and floats down to the sea. No questions are asked. Only one boat is allowed to land on the island; that is painted black, and belongs to the police. No one has ever returned from tho prison. People may have been released from it, but if so they have never confessed tho fact; and the popular belief is that whoever lands there once never leaves alive except to go to Siboria."

It was hither that the young Prince Ladislas had been brought, and at nightfall on the day of which we speak the Princess Galitzin took her seat in the boat to gain tho fortress on a visit—ui urihoard-of concession—in company with two officers. She was met at the entrance to the fortress by tho chaplain of tho prison, an old parish priest, a balhighhi who had found his way thither twenty years before for having sympathised with aod ministered to some dying Nihilist. The old man's face was inexpressibly sid as he greeted the Princess with the benediction of the church.

" Wo must be brave, my daughter," he said. "The Prince, your brother, is grievously ill. On tho night of his arrival ho was confined in one of the lower cells, and the cold and damp attacked him. You must be prepared for a great change." " My God ! is he dead ?" " No, my child." " He is dyiug?" " We are in the hands of God."

Sho laid her hand on his eleeve. "Tell me, baliuMu ; they hn.ve poisoned him ?" The priest mado the sign of the cross as he replied once more: "We are in the hands of God, my daughter. Come with me. They have moved him into one of the upper rooms." rI * ):• * . * *

In a room looking over the city, whose lights twinkled across the water, the Prince Ladislas lay dying. That was obvious to the Princess the moment that Bhe laid her eyes on tho wasted form and drawn features. The film of death was growing over his eyes. For a moment he hardly seemed to-notice her ; then raising himself with an effort for an instant, only to fall back on his pallet exhausted, he whispered : " Carita—you ! >f adia, where is Bhe ? " " Ladislas—brother—my God ! how can I tell you." And she sank on her kneea by the dying man's side He raised himself again on one elbow. " Where is she ? Why do you not answer ? Holy Mother ! has ho killed her too ? Yes ! yes ! She is dead, my wife, my Nadia ; is it not so ?"

He was answered only by the broken sobs of tho prostrate woman. " Carita," he whispered, with fast-failing breath, "you will avenge us—you aud Alexis. Listen, It was the Englishman, Vyvian Fane, who betrayed mo. He stole the letter from you. How he did it I cannot tell, but it matters not. Keratieff has it. You swear this?"

" I swear it, brother ! " "Thank God! Come closer. I cannot see you ; but you are there, are you not, matiomhka, beloved ?" A deep sigh ended his sentence, which his sister caught in a last wild kiss. Tho Frince Ladislas was dead. She had arrived but just in time. The clocks were striking midnight hb the Princess landed once more at the ferry pier. Her troika awaited her, and she was swallowed up by the night.

CHAPTER Vll. a woman's vkncjka.nce

Early in the day that succeeded the death of Prince Ladislas Galitzin in the fortress of the Sehlusselburg, tho Chief of the Secret Police, Dmitri Keratieff, Bat in hia office, pondering over the events of the last few days. The chief was not satisfied with the turn that affairs had taken. In the exercise of his duties as commander of the dreaded Third Section, many a cruel task had fallen to his lot to perform ; often ho had known himself to be the instrument of private vengeances which he had to work out, or be himself suspected of sympathy with the omnipresent agents of the Nihilists. But this time he felt that he had been tho compulsory party to a crime that surpassed any in hia official capacity in cold ferocity. It was, therefore, with a new feeling of distaste and apprehension that he read on the card that had been brought to him by one of hia subordinates the name of the Prince cess Galitzin. Still there was no reason that he could allege for not receiving her, whilst there existed, as he knew, many why he Bhould do so, and finally he gave ordera that she should be admitted. Sho entered the room a moment later, and seated herself opposite to him. Thus placed, they regarded each other in Bilence for the space of a full minute. At last the Chief of Police spoke. " What can Ido for you, madame ?" he said. . ,

" You can do for me the first and the last favor that any member of our family will ever ask of you in return for all or any that we have dono for you, Dmitri Semenovitch." The chief of police fidgeted uneasily in his chair. He did not like the proem, but all he said was: " Pray proceed. Anything that I can reasonably do for the Princess Galitein shall be done." " Good," replied she. " That is what I require. My brother, as you know, is dead. His arrest waa the deathblow of _ his wife, of wnose existence you alone besides myself were aware. She died in my arms and her child with her the night after Ladislas was taken from her. I demand from you the documents on which he was arrested," "Princess," roplied Keratieff, "in the first placo I do rot admit tho existence of any document that led to the late Prineo Galitzin'a arrest, but oven if such wore the oaso, what you ask would be impossible. Supposing that such documents existed, I should be responsible for their safe custody, and were they to leave my hands I should get in exchange for them a • wolf's passport,' as they say. And the Siberian mines, at my time of life, are not a thing to be played with."

"One moment," replied the Princess, " and I will prove to you that I am already well informed. The Prince Ladislas Galitzin was arrested in consequence of a letter written by him to the Nihilist leader Dorski. This letter was stolen from me and delivered to you by one of your foreign agents, the Hon. John Vy vian Fane. By all the rights of common gratitude I demand the letter of you, as a man." "Princess," returned Keratieff, imperturbably, *' I am not in a position to admit the correctness of your surmises. Ido not know as a man the capacity in*which you make this request of me—that Mr Vyvian Fane has any connection with this department. If you have nothing more to urge, I must beg of you to conolude this interview, which, believe me, is as painful to me as it is to you." For a few moments the Princess remained in silent thought. Then, as if with an effort, Bhe made up her mind, and, turning once more to Keratieff, who had risen as if to terminate the conversation, she said: " Dmitri Semonivitch, I will say no more of the relations which have existed between our respective families. I appeal to you aB a man no longer. But as head of the Russian polioe you have Been made perforce the repository of many family secrets—many details of domestic dramas reach your ears. I am going to recount to you the incidents of a tragedy more bitter than any you have yet heard within th«fe wall*. Listen!"

An hour later, at the close of her story, the Chief of Police rose from hia seat, and going to an iron chest that stood in the corner of the room, he took thence a paper, which he handed to the Princess. " What you have told me," said he gravely, " convinces me of your right to this document. Here is the letter stolen from you by John Vy vian Fane ; he confessed the theft to me when he delivered it to me as tho piece d'accusalion on which the arrest took place. Make your mind easy, madame. The Englishman will leave the country at once, never to return. In three days from now he will cros3 the frontier." "At last! at la3t!" thought the Princess, as she was rapidly borne through the streets of St. Petersburg, ten minutes afterwards. " I have my proofs, and you shall be avenged, Ladislas, and you, iNadia, sweet sister mine. My God ! I thank theft! I thank thee!"

Five days later St. Petersburg rang with the news that the travelling carriage of the Honorable John Vyvian Fane, whose figure had been a prominent one in the festivities of the past season, had been attacked by brigands jnst over the Polish border, and that the Englishman had been massacred. That night the Princess Galitzin fell on her knees in the oratory of the Galitzin Palace and cried aloud to God: " Vengeance is mine ! vengeance is mine." And the chaplain, entering the oratory a moment after, found her in a flood of tears, the first that she had shed since the murder of her brother.

( To be continued.)

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Permanent link to this item

https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/ESD18890615.2.41.4

Bibliographic details

BELLA DEMONIA., Issue 7934, 15 June 1889, Supplement

Word Count
1,709

BELLA DEMONIA. Issue 7934, 15 June 1889, Supplement

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