Page:Weird Tales volume 31 number 02.djvu/19

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blood they presented him with half a city's loot. Shortly afterward he emigrated to America. The coffin? When the Chahars first saw it they assumed that it was filled with treasure and were about to smash it open, but its unnatural coldness frightened them, and they buried it beneath the ice near Bouir Nor and scuttled off pellmell in mortal fear of the ten thousand devils which Pavlovitch assured them were confined in it.

"It cost me two years and a fortune to locate Nikakova's burial-place, but finally we found it, and so deeply had they buried her beneath the zaberega's never-melting ice that we had to blast to get my darling out. We wrapped the coffin in ten folds of tent-felt wet with ice-and-salt solution, and took it overland to Tientsin, where I put it in a ship's refrigeration chamber and brought it to America. Yesterday I reached this city with it, having brought it here in a refrigeration car, and all arrangements had been made for Pavlovitch to revive Nikakova when—this afternoon I saw Proudhon and the Rimsky woman driving down the road toward Pavlovitch's house and knew that we must hasten."

"Pardonnez-moi, Monsieur, but why should seeing your confreres of Russian days impress you with this need for desperate haste?" de Grandin asked.

Aksakoff smiled bleakly. "Do you remember what befell the people who investigated the assassination of the Tsar?" he answered. "The assassins covered up their bloody work completely, so they thought; burned the bodies in a bonfire and threw the ashes down the shaft of an abandoned mine, but patient research under Sokoloff made? all precautions useless. It was Pavlovitch whose work unearthed die evidence of crime. From the ashes in the old Isetsky mine he sifted litle bits of evidence, the Emperor's Maltese cross, six sets of steels from women's corsets, a mixed assortment of charred buttons, buckles, parts of slippers, hooks and eyes, and a number of small dirty pebbles which, when cleaned and treated chemically, turned out to be pure diamonds. It was this evidence which proved the Bolsheviki's guilt—after they bare-facedly denied all implication in the regicide, and all who helped to prove their guilt were marked for 'execution'—even those who occupied the posts of clerks have been run down and murdered by their secret agents. There is no doubt Proudhon and the woman who was Pavlovitch's mistress—and whose betrayal caused his exile in the Tsarist days—were sent here to assassinate him. It was unquestionably that female Judas who killed Pavlovitch, and after he was dead she and Proudhon rummaged through his papers. Their task is not only to stop oral testimony of their Government's guilt, but to destroy incriminating documents, as well."

"One sees. And it is highly probable they found messages from you to him, advising him of your arrival. Tiens, I think that you were well advised to take this coffin from the house of death without delay."

"But in killing Pavlovitch they killed my darling, too!" sobbed Aksakoff. "The technique of his work was secret. No one else can bring beloved Nikakova from her trance——"

"I would not say as much," denied the little Frenchman. "I am Jules de Grandin, and a devilish clever fellow. Let us see what we shall see, my friend."

"It's the most fantastic thing I ever heard.'" I told him as we went to bed. "There's no doubt the freezing process has preserved her wonderfully, but to hope to bring her back to life—that's ut-