The Secret City eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 480 pages of information about The Secret City.

After that Bohun asked Jerry questions.  But Jerry refused to give himself away.  “I don’t know,” he said, “I’ve forgotten it all.  I don’t suppose I ever did know much about it.”

At Haparanda, most unfortunately, Bohun was insulted.  The Swedish Customs Officer there, tired at the constant appearance of self-satisfied gentlemen with Red Passports, decided that Bohun was carrying medicine in his private bags.  Bohun refused to open his portmanteau, simply because he “was a Courier and wasn’t going to be insulted by a dirty foreigner.”  Nevertheless “the dirty foreigner” had his way and Bohun looked rather a fool.  Jerry had not sympathised sufficiently with Bohun in this affair....  “He only grinned,” Bohun told me indignantly afterwards.  “No sense of patriotism at all.  After all, Englishmen ought to stick together.”

Finally, Bohun tested Jerry’s literary knowledge.  Jerry seemed to have none.  He liked Fielding, and a man called Farnol and Jack London.

He never read poetry.  But, a strange thing, he was interested in Greek.  He had bought the works of Euripides and Aeschylus in the Loeb Library, and he thought them “thundering good.”  He had never read a word of any Russian author.  “Never Anna?  Never War and Peace?  Never Karamazov?  Never Tchehov?”

No, never.

Bohun gave him up.


It should be obvious enough then that they hailed their approaching separation with relief.  Bohun had been promised by one of the secretaries at the Embassy that rooms would be found for him.  Jerry intended to “hang out” at one of the hotels.  The “Astoria” was, he believed, the right place.

“I shall go to the ‘France’ for to-night,” Bohun declared, having lived, it would seem, in Petrograd all his days.  “Look me up, old man, won’t you?”

Jerry smiled his slow smile.  “I will,” he said.  “So long.”

We will now follow the adventures of Henry.  He had in him, I know, a tiny, tiny creature with sharp ironical eyes and pointed springing feet who watched his poses, his sentimentalities and heroics with affectionate scorn.  This same creature watched him now as he waited to collect his bags, and then stood on the gleaming steps of the station whilst the porters fetched an Isvostchick, and the rain fell in long thundering lines of steel upon the bare and desolate streets.

“You’re very miserable and lonely,” the Creature said; “you didn’t expect this.”

No, Henry had not expected this, and he also had not expected that the Isvostchick would demand eight roubles for his fare to the “France.”  Henry knew that this was the barest extortion, and he had sworn to himself long ago that he would allow nobody to “do” him.  He looked at the rain and submitted.  “After all, it’s war time,” he whispered to the Creature.

He huddled himself into the cab, his baggage piled all about him, and tried by pulling at the hood to protect himself from the elements.  He has told me that he felt that the rain was laughing at him; the cab was so slow that he seemed to be sitting in the middle of pools and melting snow; he was dirty, tired, hungry, and really not far from tears.  Poor Henry was very, very young....

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The Secret City from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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