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prayed to be rescued. At last the hour
came. On one of the days of his coming, his
angry threats and reproaches, raising the
echoes of the place, were heard without by a
child at play near a ruined well. It had
always been a wonder to the poor serfs in
the forest, why their master should
persistently remain in a house he had never
before visited. There had been a rumour
that his wife had accompanied him on his
arrival, had been taken ill, and had died a
day or two later. There had been a funeral,
but the whole transaction had been
mysterious, and no one had seen me. The
Count had brought with him but one
servant wholly devoted to him, and he had
been sent away after the funeral. The
mother of the child at play, could not
believe his story when he ran home, frightened,
to tell it; but she determined to listen for
herself next day, and returned to listen
day by day until she heard the voice. She
recognised it (as the child had done), and
could almost distinguish the words spoken.
With a reticence marvellous in one of her
class, she told no one, but made her way
to the village fifteen miles off, and
confided her secret to a priest there! She
convinced him, and he went to St. Petersburg.

Passing from mouth to mouth, his story
at length reached the emperor, who put
my wrong at once into the hands of one
able and willing to right it. It was his
portrait you saw in my room. Within a
month, I was borne up into the light of
day and the world of the living, after an
entombment of more than five years.

I had preserved my life through the
darkness and the silence, but my limbs
were dead. No relative remained to me.
Very slowly I came to bear the light and
to recover health. It was then that I set
myself to fulfil another vow I had made in
that horrible tomb. I had sworn there to
devote myself, body and soul, to my
deliverer, if deliverance should ever come. I
had sworn to be his slave, and to subject
myself, body and brain, to his will. I told
this to my deliverer. He looked at me
steadfastly. "Are these only words?" he
said. "Try me," I replied.

I did not at first comprehend the full
scope of the service required of me.
Vassiloff had been sent to Siberia, his
great wealth had been transferred to me
for my life, and every external circumstance
was in favour of my doing that
service well. Travelling was needful for
my health, and I had that ostensible
reason for visiting the various places to
which I was sent. I was furnished with
letters to the most important persons in
the countries I visited, and the political
events and personages of those countries
were to be watched and influenced with
my utmost skill, according to directions I

He understood me thoroughly, and knew
that I should die if I had not
something to love. When I first left St.
Petersburg he brought me my poor dog.
It was my most stringent order to make no
European friend. The name of the dog
was to be a perpetual reminder of my
deliverance, and my bondage and fealty to
my deliverer. I obeyed my benefactor in
all things, until I disobeyed him by making
a friend of you, and I pay the penalty.
Until some six weeks since, I had no
scruple, no doubt or hesitation. At about
that time my eyes seemed suddenly opened
to my disgrace. I owe that enlightenment
to the change wrought in me by my
association with you. But the knowledge has
killed me. Better that I had perished in
my dungeon than been released to do the
evil I have doneGod knows how blindly
and unwittingly! You know all now. I
have tried to atone to the woman who is
my bitter enemy by writing her an avowal
of my purpose in fascinating her husband.

I have told her it is for his eyes too.
She had no small need to be jealous of
me, and she will be avenged in his
detestation of my memory. You can forgive me,
can you not?

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