An Unexpected Meeting with Stalin
IN THE RADIANCE OF A GLORIous sunset I stood on the upper deck of the former imperial yacht of the Romanovs, converted into a Soviet government boat for use by top commissars. It was the last day of my journey down the Volga with Lenin's successor, the Soviet Premier Alexei Rykov, and not Yagoda, the head of the GPU.
The Volga stretched to the horizon like a stream of molten gold. Gazing at the majestic scene, I listened while the Premier reminisced about his childhood and youth in the near-by city of Saratov. He recalled his sixteen years in prison and exile, his seven daring escapes from remotest Siberia, his dreams of a Russia redeemed from three centuries of Tsarist tyranny.
In parting, the commissar cordially invited me to come and visit him at the Kremlin. I thought it one of those friendly gestures common among travelers in Russia but soon forgotten, and did not take advantage of it.
One night on my way out of the Bolshoi Theater I saw Rykov and Stalin in the lobby. The Premier noticed me in the milling crowd and raised his hand in greeting. I was but a few steps from the exit when he beckoned me to come over. With some diffi-