to rouse her a little, though not effectually. She still grasped tightly the goblet, which contained a quantity of sweet wine, and muttered something in an incoherent and unconnected manner about its being a sleeping-cup prepared by the hands of, and sent me by, Countess Nariscka.

I tried to take it from her, but she resisted my attempt, and before I could prevent her, had lifted it to her lips, and taken a long draught. Scarcely had she done so, than she fell back in the heavy sleep, or rather stupor of intoxication.

Seldom had I shed more bitter tears than I did over the miserable and shameful figure of my dear old friend. She was hanging partly over the chair. I could not bear to see her thus, so pushing and dragging it along the smooth floor, I managed to get to the side of my bed, which was the nearest, and placing my poor Sarah upon it as well as I could, I hoped in a few hours she might sleep off the results of her terrible condition.

I could not rest myself-I was far too disturbed, too pained, too unhappy. I got out my little book of prayers, and endeavored to soothe and tranquillize my mind by reading, and praying over the beautiful words and meditations it contained. Then I dozed from time to time. At last I suppose I must have fallen really asleep; but I was awakened suddenly by hearing deep, half-stifled but terrible groans from the bed. I hastened to the side of my poor, unhappy Sarah, and found that though still insensible, she was evidently suffering severely.

That she was in a most dangerous condition I could not doubt; both her appearance and her convulsive breathing convinced me of that. I never travelled without medicines, but in such a case I knew not what were the necessary remedies.

Severe as were the pains, the pressure on the brain seemed the most alarming symptom. I dragged aside all the curtains, threw open, though with some difficulty, the windows, and then rubbed the poor sufferer until she became a little easier; but help and medical advice she must have.

I searched vainly for a bell; none could I find, neither was there one in the antechamber.

Heedless of the danger of losing my way, and becoming confused in a large, strange house, I hurried on, leaving the doors open as I passed.

Some of them, however, were locked; occasionally, therefore, I had to retrace my steps, so I became very much puzzled; but on I must go, as help was absolutely necessary, and of course with a servant there would be no difficulty in returning to my apartment.


Entering one small room very quickly, a sudden gust of wind extinguished the candle I carried with me. The moon, however, was shining through the uncurtained windows, and I could a door nearly opposite, toward which I hastened, all the more comforted as I fancied I could hear subdued voices. Some persons, therefore, were awake in this huge wilderness of a house, and I should now soon have help. I hurried toward it, and pushing it open, found myself in a small gallery overlooking a vast and lofty hall. But I with difficulty restrained the shriek that nearly burst from my lips, and I almost fell to the ground with horror at the appalling scene before me.

Was I in Pandemonium? Was I witnessing a Sabbat of evil spirits? Could the beings before me be really men and women?


A dense mist partially filled the vast space below, and the air was heavy with sulphureous and other evil vapors. few smoky lamps were suspended at rare intervals against the walls; but the principal light came from the Jurid flames that burst forth at intervals from a species of furnace standing upon a table or altar placed at the far end.

From time to time a hand appeared from the gloom, and threw powder or other fuel into this furnace, and then the flames flared upward with a blue and ghastly light, showing distinctly the awful figures that moved around.

It was difficult to believe they were human beings, so weird and terrific was their aspect. Most were nude to the waist, the few clothes that covered them being little else than filthy rags. Blackened with dirt, bleeding from recently

inflicted wounds, many staggering under the weight of heavy chains, they moved slowly about their ghostly fire.

Occasionally a few words were said, then the frightful crash of a whip falling upon human flesh was heard, and succeeded by deep, heart-rending groans from the unseen sufferer.

At first, between terror and astonishment, I could hardly distinguish objects; then, to my horror, I perceived that many of these wretched beings were women !

Of what horrible ceremony was I an unwilling witness? I dared not cry aloud, I was far too overwhelmed with terror; I moved gently back, hoping to refind the door by which I had entered. Carefully I passed my hand along the wall, but neither opening nor lock could I discover. Again and again I tried. The gallery was small, and not an inch had I left unfelt. My poor Sarah! at all risks, however, I must get help for her, and I was about to cry aloud for aid, when my own name, spoken distinctly, and by a voice I knew, caught my ear.

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Your prayer could not be received, Nadine Fedorovna; the Englishwoman, Selina Brownlow, is already dead. Her money was necessary to the cause. Had her life been spared, secrecy could not have been secured. There would have been scandal, and inquiry. It was impossible, therefore, to accede to your petition. In deference, however, to your wishes her death was insured by kind and gentle means. Be content, and be silent. The moment of our devotion approaches. The heroism of our nature is about again to be put to the test. We must show by courageous endurance of bodily suffering, that our hearts are steadfast to the Great Cause, and that no tortures that can be inflicted upon us by our enemies, the Tyrants, to destroy whom we readily dedicate our lives, can suffice to weaken our courage, or force us to betray those who have engaged with us to conquer or to die.

"Approach those who are prepared." More fuel was cast on the furnace, from which was now shot forth lurid and fitful flames, making visible many long thin rods of iron that were projecting from it.

The speaker seized one with his naked

hand, and brandishing it aloft, endured without cry or groan the exquisite suffering it must have caused him. A frenzy now seized the wretched crowd; they threw themselves upon the red-hot bars, burning themselves, burning others, as if they were incapable of feeling, or of understanding what torture meant.

Then there was a sullen lull, and low, suppressed groans and cries came from the miserable wretches.

Through the mist and smoke I could at intervals distinguish the writhing figures beneath.

Then the horror of the hideous sight, the awful sounds, the madness of the scene came upon me also in deepest intensity, and in my lofty gallery I fell crouching in the remotest corner, groaning heavily with those beneath in the agony of their sufferings, and from my own terror-stricken sympathy. But far away, hidden in the dimness of the great height, and by the wreathing smoke, none saw, none heeded me.

Again was the voice of the unseen speaker heard.

"These are the torments we testify can be endured for the Cause," he said in deep, hollow tones, that showed how strongly mental resolve was struggling to subdue bodily anguish. "None have faltered. none have shrunk affrighted from the stern ordeal.

But woe to that man or woman who does retract, who hesitates when the supreme moment arrives! We swear, and let each man and each woman approach and swear, that whatever be imposed upon them, that duty they will fulfil, be it the sacrifice of husband, wife, child, parent, or of all that life holds dear.

"Woe to the degraded wretch who fails to obey !

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As he spoke, there was a sound of steps as of persons moving, then a door closed, and once more silence fell upon the assembly.

I know not how long it lasted; it seemed an age, it was probably minutes, when those who had departed reappeared, bearing between them a lifeless figure.

"Oh, my Sarah, my dear, dear, faithful servant! can it indeed be you so cruelly done to death? Oh, my friend, my old once loving friend! is it possible that you have thus violated every law of hospitality, that you have thus requited years of loving friendship?"

But now many persons, I could not distinguish how many, rushed into the hall in headlong haste.

The other, the lady, was said by deep and angry voices, she has gone, she has escaped. The windows were open, she must have fled by the moat. There must be traitors among us. And a muttered roar of suppressed fury rolled through the vast hall.

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A second's pause, a second's indecision, then the stern and cruel voice of the President again was heard. We need have no fear. The wolves are about. They are all around. They must already have found their prey. But," and here the cruel voice gave forth its harsh and guttural tones more slowly and more savagely than before, "he who quails at the sacrifice of wife, or child, or of all he holds most dear, is unworthy to be the leader of noble and devoted hearts.

Bring hither Nadine Fedorovna Perètekoff. I, her husband, devote my wife to the torture that her weakness and her cowardice have merited."

A miserable, trembling woman was pushed, or dragged, before the hideous altar. By the light that came from its quivering flames I could see the convulsed, agonized features, the deathly pallor of my most unhappy friend.

She fell on her knees.

"Oh! Xavier, Xavier ! pardon-pardon! I could not kill her—I loved her



She has been so good to me. loved me. Ah! none have ever loved me as she has done. She asked of me food and shelter. No, I could not kill her. Oh! Xavier, Xavier ! have mercy! I have given you all-all. For the love of the Blessed Virgin, spare me this once! By the memory of our dead children, spare me! Kill me if you will, but torture me no more! See how I have suffered, see how I have suffered ! No, no," she cried, as she writhed in abject terror on the ground, I can bear no more. Kill me, kill me, for the love of our Merciful Lady!"

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The wretched creature burst into bitter tears, and tossed her arms wildly in the air.

Then I saw the scarred and tortured flesh, the twisted and distorted limbs, the hideous tokens of man's sinful lust for power, of his wicked crushing of wretched instruments for the sake. of carrying out his own ends.

Without replying, he who stood before the altar, the man who in the world was the fascinating, accomplished Count Xavier Perètekoff, the husband of the beautiful and wealthy Countess Nariscka, now the avowed leader of a band of traitorous assassins and self-torturers, seized a large and heavy whip.

I heard the rush the thongs made as they were whirled through the air. I heard the horrid thud as they fell upon the bared shoulders of the victim.

A shrill scream broke the silence, and again the awful weapon descended. I could endure no more-I could forbear no longer.

"Nadine! Nadine !'' I shrieked. "I am here, I am here! You shall not suffer for me. Let them kill me if they will. God will avenge me. will punish their wicked cruelty; but you shall not be tortured for me!''


Again I shrieked loudly in the exquisite agony of my mind. Then a mist came over me, and I fell to the ground; but hardly had the words left my lips when there was a sudden rush from below. I was surrounded by a horde of blackened and half-naked savages. They seized me, they dragged me down. They pulled me to the spot where my unhappy, friend, dabbled with blood, lay before the glowing furnace. A cruel smile curled round the lips of

one who in days gone by had never opened them to me, save to utter flattering speeches or honeyed words.

"You dare be present at a meeting of the Secret Society! You dare pretend to save one justly condemned! Know that you are yourself doomed,' and quick as lightning a long, sharp knife glittered in his upraised hand.

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The steel just grazed my forehead, as I was dashed to the ground, dragging another victim upon me in my fall. A deep hollow groan; a hideous stream of blood, and then, as if the demons of this awful Pandemonium had been let loose upon us, yeils and curses rent the air. The doors were dashed inward, a sudden rush of men poured into the hall. Blows and shrieks resounded on every side; strong men were hurled backward, and cast to the ground by the powerful force brought against them. Women fought like demons, but were remorselessly shot, or cut down by the sword. But few minutes elapsed ere the whole band was overpowered. Not a man escaped, and then Serge—yes, Serge came to me, no longer my servant, but now arrayed in gorgeous uniform, the officer in command of the attacking party. The keen, searching eyes seemed yet more keen as they looked resolutely and fiercely around. The firmly closed mouth, the square strong jaw, now seen, made the features I had once thought vacant, appear stern, severe, and implacable.


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'A carriage awaits you, Madame," he said, as he raised me from the ground, and an escort through the forest will insure your safety. You will pardon the deception I was forced to practice in order to unearth this nest of assassins and traitors. Without your unconscious aid we could not have made the necessary arrests. This great duty compelled me, though most reluctantly, to deceive you. By taking the place of your servant, and so selling you into the power of my friend Count Perètekoff,

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and here he laughed a low, cruel laugh-"I was enabled to take these wretches red-handed, and so insure the fate they have so long richly deserved."

While he spoke, the prisoners were being removed, and at this moment Count Xavier Perètekoff, heavily manacled, blackened with smoke, and still

bleeding from the many wounds he had received during the desperate struggle, was being forced from the room.

He turned, ere his captors could drag him through the doorway, and raising his shackled hands, shook them at his wife and myself with an expression of savage hate, that will remain with me to my dying day.

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Fool and coward," he said, may you die the death you so well meritand I-I curse myself for having been such a miserable fool as to trust a woman."

Even as he spoke, another prisoner, a yet more hideous object than himself, from bleeding wounds, and from impotent fury, in whom naught told of woman save the long hair streaming down her back, pressed a little forward, and whispered in his ear. It was the dame de compagnie, Tatjana Andreovna Durscka. Yes, yes, he muttered, you perhaps are faithful. Faithful," he added with a grim laugh, for we shall share the gallows and the hangman, or, still worse, the mine."

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I turned to Serge.

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"I cannot go,' I said resolutely, "without my dear companion and servant; nor can I at present leave my poor friend, who is, I fear, severely wounded."

I was kneeling upon the ground, and supporting the head of my unhappy and unconscious Nadine.

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"Poor wretch !" Serge replied, looking carelessly at the miserable object before him. She has been only a tool and a victim. These traitors have long suspected her, and but for her wealth, which they could not get at without her aid, would ere this have accomplished her death. But they have tortured her into silence and submission. Her heart was good, and she was faithful to our Father the Czar. Still it is better as it is. Justice could not now have spared her.

Oh, merciful Heaven! how that graceful, beautiful creature had been tortured! How maimed and lacerated was that once exquisite form!

It needed not much skill to see that life was now ebbing fast. Her sorrows and her pains were now fast drawing to a close.

Each breath sent the life-blood rush

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'For God's dear sake, a priest !" she cried, a priest to hear my confession. To absolve me from my great sins.'

The crimson stream poured fast from her lips she sank back gasping and suffocated by the strangling blood.

Again I raised her, signing to Serge to hold before her, so that her dying eyes might rest upon them, the little image and crucifix that every Russian soldier carries over his heart.

The lips quivered yet more weakly, slowly and faintly came the word,


A quick convulsion passed over the livid features. A sharp spasm shook the hitherto motionless limbs. Again the blood rushed in a purple torrent from her mouth. A momentary but desperate struggle for breath, and then one of the most beautiful and gifted women I have ever known lay dead upon the floor of her own hall, a victim to the cruel and selfish ambition of the man to whom she had given everything.

Serge would not permit longer delay. He hurried me from the ghastly scene, where the body of my unhappy friend was only one among the many dreadful objects that lay around.

A carriage was in waiting, in which had already been placed my poor Sarah, still insensible from the effects of the poisonous narcotics that had been administered to her.

Scarcely had I taken my seat, than the horses started at a hand-gallop. A detachment of dragoons closed around, and by the faint light of the dawn that was now gleaming palely between the stunted trees of the forest, we were rapidly borne away from the spot where I had passed hours of such infinite agony a night so infinitely terrible.Murray's Magazine.

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