ARRESTED AS A SPY
“Start August First. Book tickets immediately.”
Such were the instructions I received at Brighton early in July, 1914, from Prince ——. A few days previously I had spent considerable time with this scion of the Russian nobility discussing the final arrangements concerning my departure to his palace in Russia, where I was to devote two months to a special matter in which he was deeply interested, and which involved the use of special and elaborate photographic apparatus, microscopes, optical lantern and other accessories. I may mention that the mission in question was purely of scientific import.
During the discussion of these final arrangements a telegram was handed to the Prince. He scanned it hurriedly, jumped up from his seat, and apologising for his abruptness, explained that he had been suddenly called home. He expressed the hope that he would shortly see me in Russia, where I was promised a fine time, but that he would instruct me the precise date when to start. Meanwhile I was urged to complete my purchases of the paraphernalia which we had decided to be imperative for our purpose, and he handed me sufficient funds to settle all the accounts in connection therewith. That night the Prince bade me farewell and hurried off to catch the boat train. My next communication from him was the brief instruction urging me to start on August 1.
[Footnote 1: I have never heard since from the Prince. A day or two after the outbreak of war, upon joining the Russian forces, he, with an observer, ascended in an aeroplane—he was an enthusiastic and skilled aviator—to conduct a reconnaissance over the German lines. He was never seen nor heard of again. Searching enquiries have been made without result, and now it is presumed that he was lost or killed.—H.C.M.]
Shortly after his departure there were ominous political rumblings, but I, in common with the great majority, concluded that the storm would blow over as it had done many times before. Moreover, I was so pre-occupied with my coming task as to pay scanty attention to the political barometer. I completed the purchase of the apparatuses, packed them securely, and arranged for their dispatch to meet me at the train. Then I remained at home to await developments. I was ready to start at a moment’s notice, having secured my passport, on which I was described, for want of a better term, as a “Tutor of Photography,” and it was duly vised by the Russian Embassy.
Although the political sky grew more and more ominous I paid but little attention to the black clouds. The receipt of instructions to start at once galvanised me into activity to the exclusion of all other thoughts. I booked my passage right through to destination—Warsaw—and upon making enquiries on July 31st was assured that I should get through all right.