Exit a Dictator - E. Phillips Oppenheim - ebook

Exit a Dictator ebook

E. Phillips Oppenheim

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Opis

In this novel tells about Alexander, the head of a huge movement aimed at returning to Russia a more conservative government. And also about his beautiful spy love, Anna, who works against the gang of butchers for the Soviet chief.

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Liczba stron: 352

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Contents

I

II

III

IV

V

VI

VII

VIII

IX

X

XI

XII

XIII

XIV

XV

XVI

XVII

XVIII

XIX

XX

XXI

XXII

XXIII

XXIV

XXV

XXVI

XXVII

XXVIII

XXIX

I

On her first night out, the giant Cunarder Queen Anne steamed full into the tail-end of a storm, and there was no doubt about it that she developed a very marked and uncomfortable roll. Neither was there any doubt about the result of this unusual motion upon Nicolas Grodin, occupying Suite de Luxe Number Seven. He became very violently seasick, to his own great discomfort and to the mild annoyance of his fellow-traveller, Joseph Likinski, who acted frequently as his secretary and at all times as his political confidant. Nicolas Grodin, although he may have been a brave man under ordinary circumstances, bore this affliction badly. He lay upon his bed uttering moans of agony interspersed with outpourings of blasphemy in a language which no one but his companion understood.

“He do seem bad, don’t he?” the steward, whom the latter had summoned, remarked. “I can’t say that I know what he says but it sounds horrible.”

Joseph Likinski coughed.

“Amongst other things,” he confided, “he is demanding a doctor. I think,” he added, opening the cabin door, “I had better go and fetch him.” . . .

The doctor had been called away for a moment and Likinski seated himself in the consultant’s chair and waited for him. He was a thin, sallow-complexioned man of diminutive stature, who would have been insignificant but for his somewhat prominent forehead, his keen, ferretlike eyes, his thin lips and calculating mouth. As was his habit, he spent the period of his waiting in taking keen note of his surroundings. The doctor had evidently disappeared in a hurry, for his cupboard door stood open and three rows of drugs of various sorts were displayed. Glancing at them idly at first, Likinski’s long, scraggy neck was suddenly extended. His underlip fell. He leaned forward in his chair. He stared at one particular bottle in the corner of the bottom shelf and his little eyes danced with something which was almost excitement.

“God!” he muttered. “It cannot be–”

He raised himself slowly to his feet and then sat down again. The doctor had suddenly made his appearance from the inner room and was looking enquiringly at him. He was a sandy-haired, middle-aged man with a pleasant voice but tired lines around his mouth and eyes.

“What can I do for you, sir?” he asked briefly.

“It is on behalf of my fellow-passenger–Nicolas Grodin–that I have come,” Likinski explained. “He is suffering violently from seasickness. I wonder whether you could make me up a draught of some sort?”

“Certainly,” the doctor answered. “I will give you something harmless that will probably stop the vomiting at once.”

He moved towards the cupboard. Likinski leaned a little forward in his chair.

“You do not happen, I suppose, doctor,” he enquired nervously, “to have any of this marvellous new drug–Texacon–on board?”

The doctor turned suddenly around. He was obviously surprised.

“Texacon?” he repeated. “If I had any I shouldn’t part with it. What do you know about Texacon?”

“I have taken a medical degree,” Likinski confided. “I spent some years lately in the laboratory of an analytical chemist.”

“Then you must know that you can’t fool about with an undiluted drug like that,” was the doctor’s curt comment.

“I should not dream of using it undiluted,” Likinski replied. “I have a medicine chest of my own on board and I should mix a drop or two of it with some other drugs I possess.”

“I have half a dozen remedies for seasickness here,” the doctor said, “and I will come and see your friend, if you like, but the small quantity of Texacon which I do possess does not belong to me and none of it leaves this surgery. I will make you up something that will stop the sickness and I will give you some drops to make him sleep which can be taken at the same time.”

“Very good, doctor, if you will not part with just a phial of the Texacon,” Likinski sighed.

“Not on your life, I won’t,” was the emphatic reply. “What country are you from, might I ask, sir, that you know about that particular drug? I should have said that there were only two laboratories in the world where the real stuff could be found.”

“It does not matter,” Likinski answered. “Give me the draught, please, and the drops. I will not worry you any more.”

The doctor disappeared for a moment and returned with two small bottles. He handed them over to his caller.

“Five drops is the limit, mind,” he enjoined. “Repeat in a couple of hours’ time, if necessary. The draught you can give him at once. If he goes to sleep after that, I shouldn’t give him the drops.”

“Number Seven de Luxe is the cabin,” Likinski confided as he took his leave. “My name is Joseph Likinski and my friend’s is Nicolas Grodin.”

The doctor nodded.

“I will come and see him if it is necessary,” he promised.

Likinski made his way back to the cabin. He poured the draught down his exhausted fellow-passenger’s throat and was gratified to note a marked improvement in the patient’s condition within a few minutes.

“You feel better, Nicolas?” he asked.

“Yes, I am better,” was the surly answer. “It is the worst turn I have ever had, all the same. It is that rich food you make me eat.”

Likinski smiled faintly.

“You are a greedy old man,” he said, “and if you were not feeling so badly I would tell you a few things. As it is, I am not sure that your attack was not rather a stroke of luck.”

Nicolas Grodin’s rejoinder, although in an obscure tongue, was obviously blasphemous.

“Steady now,” his companion checked him. “I will tell you why it was not a bad thing that I had to go and see the doctor for you. Do you know what he has got on his shelf there?”

“No–and I do not care.”

“Yes, you do. He possesses a bottle half full of Texacon.”

Then, for a moment, Nicolas Grodin forgot all about his seasickness.

“The drug Professor Kopoff discovered in Moscow and which we tried to get in New York?” he asked eagerly.

“The same. It must have come from either that German laboratory or from our own hospital. He has it all right and, from what I could see, it seems to be the real stuff.”

Nicolas Grodin, who had now left off groaning, sat upright.

“Does he work alone–the doctor?”

“He does. The steerage and tourist class have two 8 doctors of their own at the other end of the ship.”

Grodin rose to his feet, poured some brandy into a glass and drank it.

“I am better,” he declared. “I feel fine, Joseph. A shock like this is good for one sometimes. You know what we were planning to do with that stuff if we could get hold of any in New York?”

“Do I not!”

“Did you ask for some of it?”

“I did, but the doctor was not having any nonsense. He seems to know what he has got hold of and he would not part with a drop.”

“Silly fellow,” Grodin murmured.

“Yes, he is that,” Likinski replied with an evil chuckle, “but of course he did not understand and I was not likely to tell him. He is not parting with any in the ordinary way. If he really knows about it he would be a fool if he did. All the same, it is there in an unprotected cupboard, without even a bolt on the door. And to think that our Moscow friends keep their little stock in a certain place we know of in the innermost of three safes!”

Nicolas Grodin heaved a ponderous sigh.

“Moscow! That seems a long way away,” he added wistfully.

“A city of unforgiving men,” Likinski reflected. “Even now–I wonder, Nicolas. They have secretly confirmed your appointment as Minister to the Court of St. James’s, but tell me–if you were recalled, if you were summoned back for a conference 9 with the great man–could you cross the frontier and feel light-hearted, have no fear?”

Nicolas Grodin leaned over for the brandy flask, helped himself liberally and drank. He brushed aside Likinski’s question.

“I sleep now,” he announced. “To-morrow we make plans. My stomach is tired. Somehow or other we must get hold of that bottle of Texacon. Alexander is on board alone, except for that Cossack manservant of his. We shall never have a chance like this again, Joseph.”

His companion left him, turning into his own inside cabin. Long before he closed the communicating doors, Nicolas Grodin was snoring ponderously. Likinski himself lay with his eyes wide open. He was one of those strange mortals who had learnt to do without sleep.

It was a quarter to five in the morning, still pitch dark outside and with a heavy sea running, when a thin, insignificant-looking figure stole into the passage-way leading to the doctor’s quarters. He was on the lee side of the ship and through an open hatchway he caught a momentary glimpse of the white-topped mass of turbulent waters. A few drops of spray stung his cheeks. He bent his head and staggered on. Suddenly a light flashed into his face. A tall figure emerged from a passage-way. Likinski recognised the uniform at once. It was one of the night-watchmen of the ship.

“Have you lost your way, sir?” the man asked quietly.

“I do not think so,” was the prompt reply. “I am on my way to the doctor. The red light at the bottom is the surgery, is it not?”

“Anybody ill, sir?”

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