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JULY, 1921

THE SECRET DOOR

BY SIR PAUL DUKES

LATE at night I stood outside the on these things. My story relates to Tauride Palace in Petrograd, which had the time when they were already cruel become the centre of the revolution. realities. No one was admitted through the great

I gates without a pass. I sought a place about midway between the gates, and, My reminiscences of the first year when no one was looking, scrambled of Bolshevist administration are jumup, dropped over the railings, and ran bled into a kaleidoscopic panorama of through the bushes straight to the main impressions gained while journeying porch. Here I soon met folk I knew from city to city, sometimes crouched comrades of student days, revolution- in the corner of crowded box-cars, ists. What a spectacle within the pal- sometimes traveling in comfort, someace, lately so still and dignified! Tired times riding on the steps, and somesoldiers lay sleeping in heaps in every times on the roofs or buffers. I was hall and corridor. The vaulted lobby, nominally in the service of the British whence the Duma members had fitted Foreign Office; but the Anglo-Russian silently, was packed almost to the roof Commission (of which I was a member) with all manner of truck, baggage, having quit Russia, I attached myself arms, and ammunition. All night long to the American Y.M.C.A., doing relief and the next, I labored with the revolu- work. A year after the revolution I tionists to turn the Tauride Palace into found myself in the Eastern city of a revolutionary arsenal.

Samara, training a detachment of Boy Thus began the revolution. And Scouts. As the snows of winter melted, after? Everyone knows now how the and the spring sunshine shed joy and hopes of freedom were blighted. Truly cheerfulness around, I held my parades, had Russia's foe, Germany, who dis- and together with my American colpatched the 'proletarian' dictator Len- leagues organized outings and sports. in and his satellites to Russia, discov- Then one day, when in Moscow, I ered the Achilles' heel of the Russian was handed an unexpected telegram revolution. Everyone now knows how 'urgent' — from the British Foreign the flowers of the revolution withered Office. You are wanted at once in under the blast of the class war, and London,' it ran. I set out for Archangel how Russia was replunged into starv- without delay. Thence by steamer and ation and serfdom. I will not dwell destroyer and tug to the Norwegian VOL. 128-NO. 1

A

frontier; and so, round the North Cape I gasped. 'But,'I stammered, 'I have to Bergen, with, finally, a zig-zag course never — May I ask what it implies?' across the North Sea, dodging sub- ‘Certainly,' he replied. 'We have marines, to Scotland.

reason to believe that Russia will not At Aberdeen the Control Officer had long continue to be open to foreigners. received orders to pass me through by We wish someone to remain there, to the first train to London. At King's keep us informed of the march of events.' Cross a car was waiting; and knowing 'But,' I put in, ‘my present work? neither my destination nor the cause It is important, and if I drop it ! of my recall, I was driven to a building "We foresaw that objection,' replied in a side street in the vicinity of Trafal- the colonel,‘and I must tell you that ungar Square. “This way,' said the chauf- der war regulations we have the right feur, leaving the car. The chauffeur had to requisition your services if need be. a face like a mask. We entered the build- You have been attached to the Foreign ing, and the elevator whisked us to the Office. This office also works in contop floor, above which additional super junction with the Foreign Office, which structures had been built for war emer- has been consulted on this question. gency offices.

Of course,' he added, bitingly, ‘if the I had always associated rabbit-war- risk or danger alarms you rens with subterranean abodes; but I forget what I said, but he did not here in this building I discovered a maze continue. of rabbit-burrow-like passages, corri- *Very well,' he proceeded, 'consider dors, nooks, and alcoves, piled higgledy- the matter and return at four-thirty topiggledy on the roof. Leaving the ele- morrow. If you have no valid reasons vator, my guide led me up one flight of for not accepting this post, we will consteps so narrow that a corpulent man sider you as in our service and I will would have stuck tight, then down a tell you further details.' similar flight on the other side, under He rang a bell. A young lady apwooden archways so low that we had to peared and escorted me out, threading stoop, round unexpected corners, and her way with what seemed to me maragain up a flight of steps which brought velous dexterity through the maze of us out on the roof. Crossing a short passages. iron bridge, we entered another maze, Burning with curiosity, and fascinauntil, just as I was beginning to feel ted already by the mystery of this eledizzy, I was shown into a tiny room vated labyrinth, I ventured a query to about ten feet square, where sat an of- my young female guide. “What sort of ficer in the uniform of a British colonel establishment is this?' I said. , The impassive chauffeur announced me I detected a twinkle in her eye. She and withdrew.

shrugged her shoulders and, without 'Good-afternoon, Mr. Dukes,' said replying, pressed the button for the elethe colonel, rising and greeting me with vator. "Good-afternoon,' was all she a warm hand-shake. 'I am glad to see said as I passed in. you. You doubtless wonder that no ex- Next day I found the colonel in a planation has been given you as to why fair-sized apartment, with easy chairs, you should return to England. Well, I and walls hidden by bookcases. He have to inform you, confidentially, that seemed to take it for granted that I had it has been proposed to offer you a some nothing to say. what responsible post in the Secret In- 'I will tell you briefly what we detelligence Service.'

sire,' he said. “Then you may make any

with

comments you wish, and I will take you in German. I had barely slipped it back up to interview-a- the Chief. Brief- into the box and replaced the volume on ly, we want you to return to Soviet Rus- the shelf, when the colonel returned. sia and to send reports on the situation 'A— the — a Chief is not in,' he there. We wish to be accurately in- said, “but you may see him to-morrow. formed as to the attitude of every sec

You are interested in books?' he added, tion of the community, the degree of seeing me looking at the shelves. 'I colsupport enjoyed by the Bolshevist gov- lect them. That is an interesting old ernment, the development and mod- volume on Cardinal Richelieu, if you ification of its policy, what possibility care to look at it. I picked it up in there may be for an alteration of ré- Charing Cross Road for a shilling gime or for a counter-revolution, and The volume mentioned was immediwhat part Germany is playing. As to ately above Henry Esmond. I took it the means whereby you gain access to down warily, expecting something unthe country, under what cover you will common to occur; but it was only a live there, and how you will send out musty old volume in French, with torn reports, we shall leave it to you, be leaves and soiled pages. I pretended to ing best informed as to conditions, to be interested. make suggestions.'

“There is not much else there worth He expounded his views on Russia, looking at, I think,' said the colonel asking for my corroboration or correc- casually. 'Well, good-bye. Come in tion, and also mentioned the names of a to-morrow.' few English people I might come into I returned again next day, after contact with there. 'I will see if — a thinking overnight how I should get - the Chief is ready,' he said, finally, back to

back to Russia — and deciding on rising. 'I will be back in a moment.' nothing. My mind seemed to be a com

The apartment appeared to be an plete blank on the subject in hand, and office, but there were no papers on the I was entirely absorbed in the mysdesk. I rose and stared at the books on teries of the roof-labyrinth. the bookshelves. My attention was Again I was shown into the colonel's arrested by an edition of Thackeray's sitting-room. My eyes fell instinctively works in a decorative binding of what on the bookshelf. The colonel was in looked like green morocco. I used at genial mood. 'I see you like my collecone time to dabble in bookbinding, and tion,' he said. “That, by the way, is a am always interested in an artisti- fine edition of Thackeray.' I felt my cally bound book. I took down Henry heart leap. 'It is the most luxurious Esmond from the shelf. To my bewil. binding I have ever yet found. Would derment the cover did not open, until you not like to look at it?' passing my finger accidentally along I looked at the colonel very hard, but what I thought was the edge of the his face was a mask. My immediate pages, the front cover suddenly flew conclusion was that he wished to iniopen of itself, disclosing a box. In my tiate me into the secrets of the Departastonishment I almost dropped the ment. I rose quickly and took down volume, and a sheet of paper slipped Henry Esmond, which was in exactly out and fell to the floor. I picked it up the same place as it had been the day hastily and glanced at it. It was headed before. To my utter confusion it openKriegsministerium, Berlin, had the Ger- ed quite naturally, and I found in my man Imperial arms imprinted on it, and hands nothing more than an edition de was covered with minute handwriting luxe, printed on India.paper and profrontier; and so, round the North Cape Igasped. ‘But,'I stammered, 'I have to Bergen, with, finally, a zig-zag course never – May I ask what it implies?' across the North Sea, dodging sub- 'Certainly,' he replied. 'We have marines, to Scotland.

reason to believe that Russia will not At Aberdeen the Control Officer had long continue to be open to foreigners. received orders to pass me through by We wish someone to remain there, to the first train to London. At King's keep us informed of the march of events.' Cross a car was waiting; and knowing ‘But,' I put in, 'my present work? neither my destination nor the cause It is important, and if I drop it-' of my recall, I was driven to a building "We foresaw that objection,' replied in a side street in the vicinity of Trafal- the colonel, 'and I must tell you that ungar Square. “This way,' said the chauf- der war regulations we have the right feur, leaving the car. The chauffeur had to requisition your services if need be. a face like a mask. We entered the build- You have been attached to the Foreign ing, and the elevator whisked us to the Office. This office also works in contop floor, above which additional super- junction with the Foreign Office, which structures had been built for war emer- has been consulted on this question. gency offices.

Of course,' he added, bitingly, 'if the I had always associated rabbit-war- risk or danger alarms you rens with subterranean abodes; but I forget what I said, but he did not here in this building I discovered a maze continue. of rabbit-burrow-like passages, corri- *Very well,' he proceeded, “consider dors, nooks, and alcoves, piled higgledy- the matter and return at four-thirty topiggledy on the roof. Leaving the ele- morrow. If you have no valid reasons vator, my guide led me up one flight of for not accepting this post, we will consteps so narrow that a corpulent man sider you as in our service and I will would have stuck tight, then down a tell you further details.' similar flight on the other side, under He rang a bell. A young lady apwooden archways so low that we had to peared and escorted me out, threading stoop, round unexpected corners, and her

way

with what seemed to me maragain up a flight of steps which brought velous dexterity through the maze of us out on the roof. Crossing a short passages. iron bridge, we entered another maze, Burning with curiosity, and fascinauntil, just as I was beginning to feel ted already by the mystery of this eledizzy, I was shown into a tiny room vated labyrinth, I ventured a query to about ten feet square, where sat an of- my young female guide. "What sort of ficer in the uniform of a British colonel. establishment is this?' I said. The impassive chauffeur announced me I detected a twinkle in her eye. She and withdrew.

shrugged her shoulders and, without 'Good-afternoon, Mr. Dukes,' said replying, pressed the button for the elethe colonel, rising and greeting me with vator. 'Good-afternoon,' was all she a warm hand-shake. 'I am glad to see said as I passed in. you. You doubtless wonder that no ex- Next day I found the colonel in a planation has been given you as to why fair-sized apartment, with easy chairs, you should return to England. Well, I and walls hidden by bookcases. He have to inform you, confidentially, that seemed to take it for granted that I had it has been proposed to offer you a some- nothing to say. what responsible post in the Secret In- 'I will tell you briefly what we detelligence Service.'

sire,' he said. "Then you may make any

a

or correc

а

comments you wish, and I will take you in German. I had barely slipped it back up to interview -a- the Chief. Brief- into the box and replaced the volume on ly, we want you to return to Soviet Rus- the shelf, when the colonel returned. sia and to send reports on the situation

‘A

the Chief is not in,' he there. We wish to be accurately in- said, 'but you may see him to-morrow. formed as to the attitude of every sec- You are interested in books?' he added, tion of the community, the degree of seeing me looking at the shelves. 'I colsupport enjoyed by the Bolshevist gov- lect them. That is an interesting old ernment, the development and mod- volume on Cardinal Richelieu, if you ification of its policy, what possibility care to look at it. I picked it up in there may be for an alteration of ré- Charing Cross Road for a shilling. gime or for a counter-revolution, and The volume mentioned was immediwhat part Germany is playing. As to ately above Henry Esmond. I took it the means whereby you gain access to down warily, expecting something unthe country, under what cover you will common to occur; but it was only a live there, and how you will send out musty old volume in French, with torn reports, we shall leave it to you, be leaves and soiled pages. I pretended to ing best informed as to conditions, to be interested. make suggestions.'

“There is not much else there worth He expounded his views on Russia, looking at, I think,' said the colonel asking for my corroboration

casually. 'Well, good-bye. Come in tion, and also mentioned the names of a to-morrow.' few English people I might come into I returned again next day, after contact with there. 'I will see if thinking overnight how I should get

the Chief is ready,' he said, finally, back to Russia and deciding on rising. 'I will be back in a moment.' nothing. My mind seemed to be a com

The apartment appeared to be an plete blank on the subject in hand, and office, but there were no papers on the I was entirely absorbed in the mysdesk. I rose and stared at the books on teries of the roof-labyrinth. the bookshelves. My attention was Again I was shown into the colonel's arrested by an edition of Thackeray's sitting-room. My eyes fell instinctively works in a decorative binding of what on the bookshelf. The colonel was in a looked like green morocco. I used at genial mood. 'I

like
my

collecone time to dabble in bookbinding, and tion,' he said. “That, by the way, is a am always interested in an artisti- fine edition of Thackeray.' I felt my cally bound book. I took down Henry heart leap. 'It is the most luxurious Esmond from the shelf. To my bewild binding I have ever yet found. Would derment the cover did not open, until, you not like to look at it?' passing my finger accidentally along I looked at the colonel very hard, but what I thought was the edge of the his face was a mask. My immediate pages, the front cover suddenly flew conclusion was that he wished to iniopen of itself, disclosing a box. In my tiate me into the secrets of the Departastonishment I almost dropped the ment. I rose quickly and took down volume, and a sheet of paper slipped Henry Esmond, which was in exactly out and fell to the floor. I picked it up the same place as it had been the day hastily and glanced at it. It was headed before. To my utter confusion it openKriegsministerium, Berlin, had the Ger- ed quite naturally, and I found in my man Imperial arms imprinted on it, and hands nothing more than an edition de was covered with minute handwriting luxe, printed on India.paper and pro

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