Retreat from Glory

Retreat from Glory

Retreat from Glory

Retreat from Glory

Excerpt

It was under grey clouds that our train steamed out of Russian territory on that October afternoon of 1918. It was a sky more attuned to mourning than to rejoicing. And after the first emotional relief as we passed from the shadow of death into safety my own thoughts were sober and overshadowed with regret. Retrospection rather thin anticipation was my mood.

For fifty-six hours our little train-load of British and French officials and refugees from Moscow was held up at Bieloostroff, the Russian frontier-station of the Finnish boundary. My mind went back to our last phase in Russia. Most of us had been arrested immediately after the attempt on Lenin's life on August 31st, when the Social-revolutionary woman called "Dora" Kaplan had fired two shots at him point-blank as he was leaving the Michelson factory. Most of us had spent a month or more in prison. I, as Head of the Special British Mission to the Bolsheviks, had been singled out as the ring-leader in an alleged plot to murder the chief Bolsheviks and had been honoured with solitary confinement in the Kremlin. For some days my fate had hung in the balance, while the Allied and neutral governments worked feverishly for my release. Finally, under an agreement negotiated by the Scandinavian Governments, we had been released in exchange for Litvinoff and other Russian Bolsheviks in England. We had left Moscow on October 1st under a guard of Lettish soldiers.

Now had come this trying delay at Bieloostroff, where the Bolsheviks had refused to let us go until they were certain that Litvinoff had left England. We had tried to appear unconcerned, but the plain truth is that this last-minute hold-up with freedom actually in sight had been a greater strain than even the long . . .

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