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قراءة كتاب Annajanska, the Bolshevik Empress

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‏اللغة: English
Annajanska, the Bolshevik Empress

Annajanska, the Bolshevik Empress

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دار النشر: Project Gutenberg
الصفحة رقم: 3

Yes: G.H.Q. Yes... Don't bawl: I'm not a general. Who is it speaking?... Why didn't you say so? don't you know your duty? Next time you will lose your stripe... Oh, they've made you a colonel, have they? Well, they've made me a field-marshal: now what have you to say?... Look here: what did you ring up for? I can't spend the day here listening to your cheek... What! the Grand Duchess [Strammfest starts.] Where did you catch her?

STRAMMFEST [snatching the telephone and listening for the answer]. Speak louder, will you: I am a General I know that, you dolt. Have you captured the officer that was with her?... Damnation! You shall answer for this: you let him go: he bribed you. You must have seen him: the fellow is in the full dress court uniform of the Panderobajensky Hussars. I give you twelve hours to catch him or... what's that you say about the devil? Are you swearing at me, you... Thousand thunders! [To Schneidekind.] The swine says that the Grand Duchess is a devil incarnate. [Into the telephone.] Filthy traitor: is that the way you dare speak of the daughter of our anointed Panjandrum? I'll—

SCHNEIDEKIND [pulling the telephone from his lips]. Take care, sir.

STRAMMFEST. I won't take care: I'll have him shot. Let go that telephone.

SCHNEIDEKIND. But for her own sake, sir—

STRAMMFEST. Eh?—

SCHNEIDEKIND. For her own sake they had better send her here. She will be safe in your hands.

STRAMMFEST [yielding the receiver]. You are right. Be civil to him. I should choke [he sits down].

SCHNEIDEKIND [into the telephone]. Hullo. Never mind all that: it's only a fellow here who has been fooling with the telephone. I had to leave the room for a moment. Wash out: and send the girl along. We'll jolly soon teach her to behave herself here... Oh, you've sent her already. Then why the devil didn't you say so, you—[he hangs up the telephone angrily]. Just fancy: they started her off this morning: and all this is because the fellow likes to get on the telephone and hear himself talk now that he is a colonel. [The telephone rings again. He snatches the receiver furiously.] What's the matter now?... [To the General.] It's our own people downstairs. [Into the receiver.] Here! do you suppose I've nothing else to do than to hang on to the telephone all day?... What's that? Not men enough to hold her! What do you mean? [To the General.] She is there, sir.

STRAMMFEST. Tell them to send her up. I shall have to receive her without even rising, without kissing her hand, to keep up appearances before the escort. It will break my heart.

SCHNEIDEKIND [into the receiver]. Send her up... Tcha! [He hangs up the receiver.] He says she is halfway up already: they couldn't hold her.

The Grand Duchess bursts into the room, dragging with her two exhausted soldiers hanging on desperately to her arms. She is enveloped from head to foot by a fur-lined cloak, and wears a fur cap.

SCHNEIDEKIND [pointing to the bench]. At the word Go, place your prisoner on the bench in a sitting posture; and take your seats right and left of her. Go.

The two soldiers make a supreme effort to force her to sit down. She flings them back so that they are forced to sit on the bench to save themselves from falling backwards over it, and is herself dragged into sitting between them. The second soldier, holding on tight to the Grand Duchess with one hand, produces papers with the other, and waves them towards Schneidekind, who takes them from him and passes them on to the General. He opens them and reads them with a grave expression.

SCHNEIDEKIND. Be good enough to wait, prisoner, until the General has read the papers on your case.

THE GRAND DUCHESS [to the soldiers]. Let go. [To Strammfest]. Tell them to let go, or I'll upset the bench backwards and bash our three heads on the floor.

FIRST SOLDIER. No, little mother. Have mercy on the poor.

STRAMMFEST [growling over the edge of the paper he is reading]. Hold your tongue.

THE GRAND DUCHESS [blazing]. Me,

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