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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: 4

or the soldier?

STRAMMFEST [horrified]. The soldier, madam.

THE GRAND DUCHESS. Tell him to let go.

STRAMMFEST. Release the lady.

The soldiers take their hands off her. One of them wipes his fevered brow. The other sucks his wrist.

SCHNEIDKIND [fiercely]. 'ttention!

The two soldiers sit up stiffly.

THE GRAND DUCHESS. Oh, let the poor man suck his wrist. It may be poisoned. I bit it.

STRAMMFEST [shocked]. You bit a common soldier!

GRAND DUCHESS. Well, I offered to cauterize it with the poker in the office stove. But he was afraid. What more could I do?

SCHNEIDEKIND. Why did you bite him, prisoner?

THE GRAND DUCHESS. He would not let go.

STRAMMFEST. Did he let go when you bit him?

THE GRAND DUCHESS. No. [Patting the soldier on the back]. You should give the man a cross for his devotion. I could not go on eating him; so I brought him along with me.

STRAMMFEST. Prisoner—

THE GRAND DUCHESS. Don't call me prisoner, General Strammfest. My grandmother dandled you on her knee.

STRAMMFEST [bursting into tears]. O God, yes. Believe me, my heart is what it was then.

THE GRAND DUCHESS. Your brain also is what it was then. I will not be addressed by you as prisoner.

STRAMMFEST. I may not, for your own sake, call you by your rightful and most sacred titles. What am I to call you?

THE GRAND DUCHESS. The Revolution has made us comrades. Call me comrade.

STRAMMFEST. I had rather die.

THE GRAND DUCHESS. Then call me Annajanska; and I will call you Peter Piper, as grandmamma did.

STRAMMFEST [painfully agitated]. Schneidekind, you must speak to her: I cannot—[he breaks down.]

SCHNEIDEKIND [officially]. The Republic of Beotia has been compelled to confine the Panjandrum and his family, for their own safety, within certain bounds. You have broken those bounds.

STRAMMFEST [taking the word from him]. You are I must say it—a prisoner. What am I to do with you?

THE GRAND DUCHESS. You should have thought of that before you arrested me.

STRAMMFEST. Come, come, prisoner! do you know what will happen to you if you compel me to take a sterner tone with you?

THE GRAND DUCHESS. No. But I know what will happen to you.

STRAMAIFEST. Pray what, prisoner?

THE GLAND DUCHESS. Clergyman's sore throat.

Schneidekind splutters; drops a paper: and conceals his laughter under the table.

STRAMMFEST [thunderously]. Lieutenant Schneidekind.

SCHNEIDEKIND [in a stifled voice]. Yes, Sir. [The table vibrates visibly.]

STRAMMFEST. Come out of it, you fool: you're upsetting the ink.

Schneidekind emerges, red in the face with suppressed mirth.

STRAMMFEST. Why don't you laugh? Don't you appreciate Her Imperial Highness's joke?

SCHNEIDEKIND [suddenly becoming solemn]. I don't want to, sir.

STRAMMFEST. Laugh at once, sir. I order you to laugh.

SCHNEIDEKIND [with a touch of temper]. I really can't, sir. [He sits down decisively.]

STRAMMFEST [growling at him]. Yah! [He turns impressively to the Grand Duchess.] Your Imperial Highness desires me to address you as comrade?

THE GRAND DUCHESS [rising and waving a red handkerchief]. Long live the Revolution, comrade!

STRAMMFEST [rising and saluting]. Proletarians of all lands, unite. Lieutenant Schneidekind, you will rise and sing the Marseillaise.

SCHNEIDEKIND [rising]. But I cannot, sir. I have no voice, no ear.

STRAMMFEST. Then sit down; and bury your shame in your typewriter. [Schneidekind sits down.] Comrade Annajanska, you have eloped with a young officer.

THE GRAND DUCHESS [astounded]. General Strammfest, you lie.

STRAMMFEST. Denial, comrade, is useless. It is through that officer that your movements have been traced. [The Grand Duchess is suddenly enlightened, and seems amused. Strammfest continues an a forensic manner.] He joined you at the Golden Anchor in Hakonsburg. You gave us the slip there; but the officer

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