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"No, but" the idea was too novel for Nadia to grasp it at once. “And think what it is that you have been accepting as right," the Princess went on quickly. "You tell the man who has assured you that he loves you alone in the world that if he desires to please you he must marry another woman. This may be self-sacrifice, my child, but it is certainly sin."
"But the kingdom the people" gasped Nadia, confounded. "Was the King to sin for the sake of his kingdom? Could you not have parted, if this was necessary, assured of each other's love, and content to wait-all your lives, perhaps if possibly a way might be opened for you? It may be that in taking your own path you have missed the training God meant for you."
"But it was the uncertainty which was so dreadful. It seemed better to end it at once," urged Nadia.
"Better? to you, perhaps. But what of this poor Carlino? Had you no misgivings, my child?"
"None at all, at first. When Carlino told me at Witska that he had accepted the crown, I had just been wondering whether I had been right in urging him to do it, and while he was speaking I saw quite suddenly what I must do. As I had goaded him into becoming king- I really did, Marraine; I said dreadful things to him-this was my punishment, that the kingdom should come between him and me. There was no question about my duty."
"But why punish poor Carlino?" asked the Princess.
"I don't know, Marraine-because I could not do my duty otherwise, I suppose. I am afraid I didn't think of that-I was so unhappy, and yet I never doubted that I was right. And then, when
Lord Cyril spoke to me, it was just the same.
He seemed not to have a doubt as to my refusing Carlino, but took it for granted both that I ought to do it and that I should."
"And you felt unwilling to disappoint him?" said the Princess, with a sarcasm that came oddly from her gentle lips. "Your parents, also, would have been disappointed, no doubt, if you had become Queen of Thracia?"
"Oh no," returned Nadia in surprise. "They wished it above all things."
"And you felt that anything that they desired was on that account to be regarded with suspicion? I know that you are inclined to be always in opposition, my child. To us of the older generation, dissent is a sorrowful necessity; to you young reformers it is the breath of life. You feel happier when you find something with which to disagree."
Nadia digested this unpalatable remark with what patience she might. "Carlino has hinted something of the same kind to me,' she said, "but I did not know that I was quite so bad."
"You have never doubted the wisdom of your action, then?"
"Oh yes, often, when we were at Witska the second time. doubts used to torment me. then came the offer which brought me by Vladimir Alexandrovitch. You would not have had me accept that, Marraine?"
"And enslave your husband's kingdom? God forbid, my child. But you have received a message from Carlino himself, since that time, have you not?" "Yes, but- It was Lord Cyril again, Marraine. I forgot all my doubts when he put things before me."
"Then he took it for granted
"You do not love Carlino sufficiently to disregard what Lord Cyril says?"
"Marraine ! I love him well enough to give him up."
"Yes, but not enough to marry him if his brother would sneer at you. If you loved him better, my child, you would have no cause to dislike Lord Cyril, for his words would have no effect upon you."
"Then it is my fault, after all?" said Nadia in astonishment. "Marraine, it seems to me that I am continually discovering things too late. Now that my mother is dead, I see that we might have been much more to one another; and now that Carlino will never approach me again, I find that it is I myself, and not Lord Cyril, that kept us apart. I am always wrong. But you will help me, you will show me what I ought to do."
"But I am not sure that I am right in keeping you with me," said the Princess. "You have come home at a sad time, dear child. We Evangelicals are suspected everywhere just now, and the spies of the Holy Synod are watching us."
"But, Marraine-suspected? of what? when we pray always for the Emperor and for Scythia, and counsel patient submission even to unjust laws?"
Alas, my child! why did the
wolf accuse the lamb? Marie Karlovna will have told you of our great conference, and of the blessing and support it proved to many among the brethren. But such a gathering from all parts of the empire attracted the notice of the police, and they made a raid on the hotel where some of the brethren, who could not all be accommodated in the houses of the faithful here, were staying. Strange to say, there was a band of Oudenist conspirators lodging in the same house, and on being apprised of the approach of the police they fled, leaving a secret printing-press and a quantity of seditious literature in one of our friends' rooms. Happily, our brothers were able, after some weeks' imprisonment, to convince the tribunal of their innocence, but M. Tourquemadischeff considered that the object for which they had come together was scarcely to be preferred to Oudenism. All the churches which had united in the conference were censured, and ordered to keep their members at home for the future, and all our free Evangelical services have been forbidden. We are daily expecting to hear that Anton Gregorievitch is exiled."
"Oh, Marraine, Count Wratisloff! But what has he done, and what shall we do without him?"
"God removes His labourers, and continues His work,'" quoted the Princess. "The pillar of our faith and our work is the living. God, God, not Anton Gregorievitch. You ask what he has done. He has denounced wars of aggression and religious persecutions, he has prayed that the Emperor might be granted better advisers, and he has devoted his fortune to helping the poor and needy."
"But what is he doing now?" asked Nadia. "How does he stand the suspense?"
"He goes on with his work, one day at a time. The great evangelistic services held at his house have come to an end, but his Biblereadings, his visiting of the sick, both at their homes and in the hospitals, his efforts to raise the condition of the peasantry, he will not cease."
"And you do the same, Marraine?" “Ah, we women are not in so much danger, my child. But still, I do not like to involve you in risk. Would you care to go and stay in the South with my sister? or I have friends in England who would be delighted to receive you?"
"And leave you? Never, Marraine! Let me stay and help you as much as I can. I am not good enough for the Bible-readings and the visiting of the hospitals, but I can help you with your accounts, and the soup-kitchen, and the sewing-class."
"You shall, my child; and God grant that you may be blessed and be a blessing in your life here."
Nadia began her chosen work the very next day, much to the relief of the Princess, who had, as she herself said, no head for accounts, and found it delightful to be released from the consideration of the business details connected with all her charitable institutions. To the girl herself, also, it was a relief to plunge into work once more, and she found herself kept busy almost all day long, getting in supplies for the girls' boardinghouse, checking the sales at the Bible-depot, and arranging for the despatch of necessary articles to the hospital on her godmother's country estate. But wherever she went, she was always conscious of the presence of various watchful, ostentatiously quiet-looking men, who were invariably to be seen lounging in the neighbourhood of the institutions. The Princess's warning had
given her the clue to their presence. They were the spies of M. Tourquemadischeff, the Procurator of the Holy Synod.
Thus things went on until the evening of the second Sunday after her arrival in Pavelsburg, when she went with her godmother and several other members of the household to Count Wratisloff's house for a Bible-reading. There were only about twenty persons present, for although many more would have wished to attend, the invitations had been restricted, so as not to give the police a pretext for interference. The Count had been one of Nadia's heroes for years, and she embraced eagerly the opportunity of hearing him once again, for what might, as she now learnt, be the last time.
The address was of the character of a farewell, and the speaker prefaced it by remarking that it had been intimated to him that he might remain in Scythia unmolested if he would discontinue his evangelistic work, but that if he persisted in carrying it on, however quietly, his exile would follow. The holding of this meeting was his answer to the offer, and he seized the occasion to make a last appeal to those who heard him. Their leaders might be exiled, he said, their assemblies prohibited, but their faith did not depend on either the one or the other. Lands and wealth might be taken from them, but they could live, as some of them already did from choice, like the poor, and share with them what they gained by the labour of their hands. They might be deported to distant parts of the empire, might be sent even to Hyperborea, but, if so, it was because there was work for them to do there, even though it were only the exhibition of a contented spirit under hardships. Let them feel assured that for every earthly good that was
taken away, there was a greater blessing waiting to reach them, which could not do so unless the way were prepared for it by the removal of the worldly advantage. Was there, then, any reason for blaming the rulers of the empire, or even the authorities of the Church which they had quitted with so much sorrow and reluctance, but which branded them as heretics? None; they were only instruments in the hand of God, and could do nothing without Him. And, therefore, there must be no resentment towards them, for all that happened would be for the best. And even when the cloud was darkest, and no silver lining was visible, were the sufferers never themselves to blame? Had they never injured any one without offering redress, never refused haughtily a proffered reconciliation, never alienated by their unsympathetic demeanour those who would fain have been friendly If they had, and there were few who could say they had not, let them bear their punishment meekly, accepting it as less than they deserved, and asking that even from the consequences of their own faults and failings good might arise to the people of God.
The coincidence between the burden of Count Wratisloff's words and those which had fallen from the Princess on the night of her arrival struck Nadia forcibly, in spite of the difference of their subjects, but the similarity did not altogether please her. It was hard to acknowledge to herself that her heroic conduct in refusing Caerleon had been wrong and based upon a mistake, harder to confess that Cyril would have been powerless to do harm if she had not given him a hold upon her by accepting his arguments as true ones. She was silent enough during the fare
wells and the drive home, but when they had arrived she hesitated to face the solitude of her own room, and lingered with Marie Karlovna, listening to her voluble lamentations over the approaching loss of Count Wratisloff. Leaving her at last, and passing along the passage, she heard sobs proceeding from a room on her left, and looking in, found the sempstress Katinka crying as though her heart would break.
"What is the matter, Katinka? Can I do anything for you?" she asked, gently.
"No, thank you, Nadia Mikhailovna," sobbed the girl. "No one can help me, for the trouble is in myself. I have an enemy that I cannot forgive."
Nadia started, surprised to find a story so like her own. "Tell me about it," she said, sitting down beside Katinka.
"It is Anna, my husband's sister," responded the maid, brokenly. "I was so happy with my Yegor, he was so kind to me; and Pauline Vassilievna had promised to build us a cottage close to her own country-house, so that I might be near her still. But Anna always hated me, because I came from the town, and she was jealous because Yegor was so fond of me, and because of the new house. She never showed her enmity to meif she had I could have guarded against it—but she made up lies about me, and told them to Yegor. He was passionate, and I was proud. I told him that if he could listen to such things it was enough to show that he did not love me. He told me to deny them, and I would not. He went to her for advice, and she told him even worse tales, and he left me without another word, and I have never seen him since. And now Anton Gregorievitch says that I must forgive Anna, though she has ruined my home and taken
away my husband and spoilt my whole life. And I cannot do it."
"I am like you, Katinka," said Nadia. "I also have an enemy whom I cannot forgive. He spoils even my prayers."
"But you are a great lady, Nadia Mikhailovna," said Katinka, in surprise. "Who can have injured you?"
"He could not have injured me if I had not let him-helped him to do it," said Nadia. "That is why I can't forgive him, Katinka." "But that is like me," said Katinka. "If I had not been too proud to explain, Yegor would have believed me at once, I am sure. Have we both helped our enemies by doing wrong ourselves?"
"I believe we have," said Nadia, and both girls sat silent for a while, Nadia in her velvet and furs beside the sempstress in her peasant dress. At last Katinka looked up.
"I have been thinking," she said. "After all, Anna was fond of Yegor; she had brought him up, and kept house for him until we were married. Perhaps I was not as kind to her as I might have been, and a great deal of the trouble was my own fault-and I want to be forgiven myself, Nadia Mikhailovna
"And so do I," said Nadia, softly.
"Somehow," said Katinka, "looking at it in this way, I seem to have been worse than I thought, and Anna not so bad. It is not so hard to forgive-I will, I can for give her."
"I will forgive him; I do," said Nadia.
"Marraine," said Nadia the next morning, "I know why you took me to Count Wratisloff's last night."
thing to help you, my child," the Princess answered. "Is your difficulty gone?"
"If I saw Lord Cyril now," said Nadia, slowly, little thinking that she would one day have the opportunity of proving the truth of her words, "ill or in any trouble, I should feel so sorry for him that I would nurse him, or do anything I could to help him. And yesterday I am afraid I should have been glad."
"And you are happier now, my child?"
"So happy, Marraine, that I want you to find me some work to do, a class of little girls, perhaps. I don't want to keep my happiness to myself. I can never feel really hopeless or miserable again.”
"Take care, dear child," said the Princess; then, her thoughts reverting to the Scythian translation of the 'Pilgrim's Progress' she was reading "Christian's path to the Celestial City was not all smooth, even after he had lost his burden. There was the Hill Difficulty, and the fight with Apollyon, and Vanity Fair, and Doubting Castle. And there is always oneself."
Although Nadia, in her eagerness, was scarcely willing to listen to a forecast that seemed to her so gloomy, there came very soon to the Cercle Evangélique a loss such as that which parted Christian from Faithful. The first intimation of it reached Princess Soudaroff's household on the Thursday morning, when, as the ladies were at breakfast, they heard a voice inquiring for Pauline Vassilievna, and shortly afterwards the servant announced Vladimir Alexandrovitch, and ushered in Prince Soudaroff.
"Pray don't let me disturb you, ladies," he said to Nadia and Marie Karlovna, who had risen at his "My business is not
"I hoped you might hear some- private. I come merely to bring