Nearly two years have now gone by.
There have been changes in holy Russia-many great and amazing changes consequent upon war and its disasters. Russia is no longer the great power that she once was supposed to be. Many events that have startled the world have occurred since that day when I first enfolded my silent love within my arms. One of them is known to you all.
You read in the newspapers, without a doubt, how the Baron Xavier Oberg, the persecutor of Finland, the enemy of education, the relentless foe of the defenseless, the man who ordered women to be knouted to death in Kajana, the heartless official whom the Finns called “The Strangler,” was blown to pieces by a bomb thrown beneath his carriage as he drove to the railway station at Helsingfors on his way to have audience with the Emperor.
The secret truth was that the “Red Priest” decreed that Oberg should die, and the plot was swiftly put into execution, and although five hundred arrests were made the police are unaware to this day of the identity of the person who directed it, or of who threw the fatal missile. From pillar to post the revolutionists have been hunted by the bloodhounds of police, yet the “Red Priest” still lives on quietly in Petersburg, and the Princess Zurloff, still unsuspected, devotes the greater part of her enormous income to the cause of freedom.
Of Jack and Muriel I need only say they were married about three months after Elma’s return from Russia, and at the present time they are living on the outskirts of Glasgow, where Jack has secured the shore appointment which he so long coveted.
By some means-exactly how is not quite certain-the police discovered that Dick Archer, alias Woodroffe, alias Hornby, was concerned in the clever robbery of a dressing-bag, containing the Dowager Lady Lancashire’s jewels, from her footman on Euston platform, and after a long search they found him hiding at an hotel in Liverpool. When, however, they went to arrest him, he laughed in the faces of the detectives, placed something swiftly in his mouth and swallowed it before they could prevent him-then ten minutes later he fell dead. He knew what terrible revelations must be made if we gave evidence against him, and he therefore preferred death by his own hand to that following a judicial sentence.
Chater, although one of the most expert jewel thieves in Europe, had never been actually guilty of any graver offense, and when we heard that he was in San Francisco, where he had opened a small bar and was trying to live honestly, we resolved to allow him to remain there. Indeed, Jack wrote to him about nine months ago warning him never to set foot on English soil again on pain of arrest.
Olinto Santini has recently opened a small restaurant in Western Road, Brighton, and is, I believe, doing very well.
And ourselves! Well, what can I really tell you? Mere words fail to tell you of the completeness of our happiness. It is idyllic-that is all I can say.
My proposal of marriage was made to Elma a very few days after she wrote down her startling and romantic story, and a year ago at a little village church in Hertfordshire we became man and wife, there being present at our wedding Madame Heath, my bride’s mother, to whom, by my exertions in official quarters in Petersburg, the Czar’s clemency was extended, and she was released from that far-off Arctic prison to which she had been sent with such cruel injustice.
Two of the greatest London specialists have continually treated my dear wife, and under them she has already recovered her speech-so far, indeed, that she can now whisper in a low, soft voice. But they tell me they are hopeful that ere long her voice will become stronger, and speech practically restored. Already, too, she can begin to hear.
After all the storms and perils of the past, our lives are now indeed full of a calm, sweet peace. In our own comfortable little house, with its trellised porch covered with roses and honeysuckle, that faces the blue Channel at St. Margaret’s Bay, beyond Dover, we lead a life of mutual trust and boundless love. We are supremely content-the happiest pair in all the world, we think.
Often as we sit together at evening, gazing out upon the great ships passing darkly away into the mysterious afterglow, our hands clasp mutually in a silence more eloquent than words, and as we gaze into each other’s eyes there occurs to us the Divine injunction: “WHOM GOD HATH JOINED, LET NO MAN PUT ASUNDER.”