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The Dark Forest   By: (1884-1941)

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First Page:

The

DARK FOREST

by

HUGH WALPOLE

GROSSET & DUNLAP Publishers , New York by arrangement with GEORGE H. DORAN COMPANY

COPYRIGHT, 1916 BY GEORGE H. DORAN COMPANY

TO

KONSTANTINE SAMOFF

THIS BOOK IS DEDICATED

BY HIS FRIEND THE AUTHOR

CONTENTS

PART ONE

CHAPTER

I. SPRING IN THE TRAIN

II. THE SCHOOL HOUSE

III. THE INVISIBLE BATTLE

IV. NIKITIN

V. FIRST MOVE TO THE ENEMY

VI. THE RETREAT

VII. ONE NIGHT

PART TWO

I. THE LOVERS

II. MARIE IVANOVNA

III. THE FOREST

IV. FOUR?

V. THE DOOR CLOSES BEHIND THEM

PART ONE

CHAPTER I

SPRING IN THE TRAIN

His was the first figure to catch my eye that evening in Petrograd; he stood under the dusky lamp in the vast gloomy Warsaw station, with exactly the expression that I was afterwards to know so well, impressed not only upon his face but also upon the awkwardness of his arms that hung stiffly at his side, upon the baggy looseness of his trousers at the knees, the unfastened straps of his long black military boots. His face, with its mild blue eyes, straggly fair moustache, expressed anxiety and pride, timidity and happiness, apprehension and confidence. He was in that first moment of my sight of him as helpless, as unpractical, and as anxious to please as any lost dog in the world and he was also as proud as Lucifer. I knew him at once for an Englishman; his Russian uniform only accented the cathedral town, small public school atmosphere of his appearance. He was exactly what I had expected. He was not, however, alone, and that surprised me. By his side stood a girl, obviously Russian, wearing her Sister's uniform with excitement and eager anticipation, her eyes turning restlessly from one part of the platform to another, listening with an impatient smile to the remarks of her companion.

From where I stood I could hear his clumsy, hesitating Russian and her swift, preoccupied replies. I came up to them.

"Mr. Trenchard?" I asked.

He blushed, stammered, held out his hand, missed mine, blushed the more, laughed nervously.

"I'm glad ... I knew ... I hope...."

I could feel that the girl's eyes were upon me with all the excited interest of one who is expecting that every moment of her new wonderful experience will be of a stupendous, even immortal quality.

"I am Sister Marie Ivanovna, and you are, of course, Mr. Durward," she said. "They are all waiting for you expecting you you're late, you know!" She laughed and moved forward as though she would accompany me to the group by the train. We went to the train together.

"I should tell you," she said quickly and suddenly with nervousness, "that we are engaged, Mr. Trenchard and I only last night. We have been working at the same hospital.... I don't know any one," she continued in the same intimate, confiding whisper. "I would be frightened terribly if I were not so excited. Ah! there's Anna Mihailovna.... I know her , of course. It was through, her aunt the one who's on Princess Soboleff's train that I had the chance of going with you. Oh! I'm so happy that I had the chance if I hadn't had it...."

We were soon engulfed now. I drew a deep breath and surrendered myself. The tall, energetic figure of Anna Mihailovna, the lady to whose practical business gifts and unlimited capacity for compelling her friends to surrender their last bow and button in her service we owed the existence of our Red Cross unit, was to be seen like a splendid flag waving its followers on to glory and devotion. We were devoted, all of us. Even I, whose second departure to the war this was, had after the feeblest resistance surrendered myself to the drama of the occasion... Continue reading book >>




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