Fall of Giants / Chapter 24

Chapter 24


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CHAPTER TWENTY-FOUR  -  April 1917

On a mild day in early spring Walter walked with Monika von der Helbard in the garden of her parents' town house in Berlin. It was a grand house and the garden was large, with a tennis pavilion, a bowling green, a riding school for exercising horses, and a children's playground with swings and a slide. Walter remembered coming here as a child and thinking it was paradise. However, it was no longer an idyllic playground. All but the oldest horses had gone to the army. Chickens scratched on the flagstones of the broad terrace. Monika's mother was fattening a pig in the tennis pavilion. Goats grazed the bowling green, and it was rumored that the grafin milked them herself.

However, the old trees were coming into leaf, the sun was shining, and Walter was in his waistcoat and shirtsleeves with his coat slung over his shoulder-a state of undress that would have displeased his mother, but she was in the house, gossiping with the grafin. His sister, Greta, had been walking with Walter and Monika, but she had made an excuse and left them alone-another thing Mother would have deplored, at least in theory.

Monika had a dog called Pierre. It was a standard poodle, long-legged and graceful, with a lot of curly rust-colored hair and light brown eyes, and Walter could not help thinking that it looked a little like Monika, beautiful though she was.

He liked the way she acted with her dog. She did not pet it or feed it scraps or talk to it in a baby voice, as some girls did. She just let it walk at her heel, and occasionally threw an old tennis ball for it to fetch.

"It's so disappointing about the Russians," she said.

Walter nodded. Prince Lvov's government had announced they would continue to fight. Germany's eastern front was not to be relieved, and there would be no reinforcements for France. The war would drag on. "Our only hope now is that Lvov's government will fall and the peace faction will take over," Walter said.

"Is that likely?"

"It's hard to say. The left revolutionaries are still demanding bread, peace, and land. The government has promised a democratic election for a constituent assembly-but who will win?" He picked up a twig and threw it for Pierre. The dog bounded after it, and proudly brought it back. Walter bent down to pat its head, and when he straightened up Monika was very close to him.

"I like you, Walter," she said, looking very directly at him with her amber eyes. "I feel as if we would never run out of things to talk about."

He had the same feeling, and he knew that if he tried to kiss her now she would let him.

He stepped away. "I like you, too," he said. "And I like your dog." He laughed, to show that he was speaking lightheartedly.

All the same he could see that she was hurt. She bit her lip and turned away. She had been about as bold as was possible for a well-brought-up girl, and he had rejected her.

They walked on. After a long silence Monika said: "What is your secret, I wonder?"

My God, he thought, she's sharp. "I have no secrets," he lied. "Do you?"

"None worth telling." She reached up and brushed something off his shoulder. "A bee," she said.

"It's too soon in the year for bees."

"Perhaps we shall have an early summer."

"It's not that warm."

She pretended to shiver. "You're right, it's chilly. Would you fetch me a wrap? If you go to the kitchen and ask a maid she will find one."

"Of course." It was not chilly, but a gentleman never refused such a request, no matter how whimsical. She obviously wanted a minute alone. He strolled back to the house. He had to spurn her advances, but he was sorry to hurt her. They were well suited-their mothers were quite right-and clearly Monika could not understand why he kept pushing her away.

He entered the house and went down the back stairs to the basement, where he found an elderly housemaid in a black dress and a lace cap. She went off to find a shawl.

Walter waited in the hall. The house was decorated in the up-to-date Jugendstil, which did away with the rococo flourishes loved by Walter's parents and favored well-lit rooms with gentle colors. The pillared hall was all cool gray marble and mushroom-colored carpet.

It seemed to him as if Maud was a million miles away on another planet. And in a way she was, for the prewar world would never come back. He had not seen his wife nor heard from her for almost three years, and he might never meet her again. Although she had not faded from his mind-he would never forget the passion they had shared-he did find, to his distress, that he could no longer recall the fine details of their times together: what she was wearing, where they were when they kissed or held hands, or what they ate and drank and talked about when they met at those endlessly similar London parties. Sometimes it crossed his mind that the war had in a way divorced them. But he pushed the thought aside: it was shamefully disloyal.

The maid brought him a yellow cashmere shawl. He returned to Monika, who was sitting on a tree stump with Pierre at her feet. Walter gave her the shawl and she put it around her shoulders. The color suited her, making her eyes gleam and her skin glow.

She had a strange look on her face, and she handed him his wallet. "This must have fallen out of your coat," she said.

"Oh, thank you." He returned it to the inside pocket of the coat that he still had slung over his shoulder.

She said: "Let's go back to the house."

"As you wish."

Her mood had changed. Perhaps she had simply decided to give up on him. Or had something else happened?

He was struck by a frightening thought. Had his wallet really fallen out of his coat? Or had she taken it, like a pickpocket, when she brushed that unlikely bee off his shoulder? "Monika," he said, and he stopped and turned to face her. "Did you look inside my wallet?"

"You said you had no secrets," she said, and she blushed bright red.

She must have seen the newspaper clipping he carried: Lady Maud Fitzherbert is always dressed in the latest fashion. "That was most ill-mannered of you," he said angrily. He was mainly angry with himself. He should not have kept the incriminating photo. If Monika could figure out its significance, so could others. Then he would be disgraced and drummed out of the army. He might be accused of treason and jailed or even shot.

He had been foolish. But he knew he would never throw the picture away. It was all he had of Maud.

Monika put a hand on his arm. "I have never done anything like that in my whole life, and I'm ashamed. But you must see that I was desperate. Oh, Walter, I could fall in love with you so easily, and I can tell that you could love me too-I can see it, in your eyes and the way you smile when you see me. But you said nothing!" There were tears in her eyes. "It was driving me out of my mind."

"I'm sorry for that." He could no longer feel indignant. She had now gone beyond the bounds of propriety, and opened her heart to him. He felt terribly sad for her, sad for both of them.

"I just had to understand why you kept turning away from me. Now I do, of course. She's beautiful. She even looks a bit like me." She wiped her tears. "She found you before I did, that's all." She stared at him with those penetrating amber eyes. "I suppose you're engaged."

He could not lie to someone who was being so honest with him. He did not know what to say.

She guessed the reason for his hesitation. "Oh, my goodness!" she said. "You're married, aren't you?"

This was disastrous. "If people found out, I would be in serious trouble."

"I know."

"I hope I may trust you to keep my secret?"

"How can you ask?" she said. "You're the best man I've ever met. I wouldn't do anything to harm you. I will never breathe a word."

"Thank you. I know you'll keep your promise."

She looked away, fighting back the tears. "Let's go inside."

In the hall she said: "You go ahead. I must wash my face."

"All right."

"I hope-" Her voice broke into a sob. "I hope she knows how lucky she is," she whispered. Then she turned away and slipped into a side room.

Walter put on his coat and composed himself, then went up the marble staircase. The drawing room was done in the same understated style, with blond wood and pale blue-green curtains. Monika's parents had better taste than his, he decided.

His mother looked at him and knew instantly something was wrong. "Where is Monika?" she said sharply.

He raised an eyebrow at her. It was not like her to ask a question to which the answer might be Gone to the toilet. She was obviously tense. He said quietly: "She will join us in a few minutes."

"Look at this," said his father, waving a sheet of paper. "Zimmermann's office just sent it to me for my comments. Those Russian revolutionaries want to cross Germany. The nerve!" He had had a couple of glasses of schnapps, and was in an exuberant mood.

Walter said politely: "Which revolutionaries would those be, Father?" He did not really care, but was grateful for a topic of conversation.

"The ones in Zurich! Martov and Lenin and that crowd. There's supposed to be freedom of speech in Russia, now that the tsar has been deposed, so they want to go home. But they can't get there!"

Monika's father, Konrad von der Helbard, said thoughtfully: "I suppose they can't. There's no way to get from Switzerland to Russia without passing through Germany-any other overland route would involve crossing battle lines. But there are still steamers going from England across the North Sea to Sweden, aren't there?"

Walter said: "Yes, but they won't risk going via Britain. The British detained Trotsky and Bukharin. And France or Italy would be worse."

"So they're stuck!" said Otto triumphantly.

Walter said: "What will you advise Foreign Minister Zimmermann to do, Father?"

"Refuse, of course. We don't want that filth contaminating our folk. Who knows what kind of trouble those devils would stir up in Germany?"

"Lenin and Martov," Walter said musingly. "Martov is a Menshevik, but Lenin is a Bolshevik." German intelligence took a lively interest in Russian revolutionaries.

Otto said: "Bolsheviks, Mensheviks, socialists, revolutionaries, they're all the same."

"No, they're not," said Walter. "The Bolsheviks are the toughest."

Monika's mother said with spirit: "All the more reason to keep them out of our country!"

Walter ignored that. "More importantly, the Bolsheviks abroad tend to be more radical than those at home. The Petrograd Bolsheviks support the provisional government of Prince Lvov, but their comrades in Zurich do not."

His sister, Greta, said: "How do you know a thing like that?"

Walter knew because he had read intelligence reports from German spies in Switzerland who were intercepting the revolutionaries' mail. But he said: "Lenin made a speech in Zurich a few days ago in which he repudiated the provisional government."

Otto made a dismissive noise, but Konrad von der Helbard leaned forward in his chair. "What are you thinking, young man?"

Walter said: "By refusing the revolutionaries permission to pass through Germany, we are protecting Russia from their subversive ideas."

Mother looked bewildered. "Explain, please."

"I'm suggesting we should help these dangerous men get home. Once there, either they will try to undermine the Russian government and cripple its ability to make war, or alternatively they will take power and make peace. Either way, Germany gains."

There was a moment of silence while they all thought about that. Then Otto laughed loudly and clapped his hands. "My own son!" he said. "There is a bit of the old man in him after all!"

{II}

My dearest darling,

Zurich is a cold city by a lake,

Walter wrote,

but the sun shines on the water, on the leafy hillsides all around, and on the Alps in the distance. The streets are laid out in a grid with no bends: the Swiss are even more orderly than the Germans! I wish you were here, my beloved friend, as I wish you were with me wherever I am!!!

The exclamation marks were intended to give the postal censor the impression that the writer was an excitable girl. Although Walter was in neutral Switzerland, he was still being careful that the text of the letter did not identify either the sender or the recipient.

I wonder whether you suffer the embarrassment of unwanted attention from eligible bachelors. You are so beautiful and charming that you must. I have the same problem. I don't have beauty or charm, of course, but despite that I receive advances. My mother has chosen someone for me to marry, a chum of my sister's, a person I have always known and liked. It was very difficult for a while, and I'm afraid that in the end the person discovered that I have a friendship that excludes marriage. However, I believe our secret is safe.

If a censor bothered to read this far he would now conclude that the letter was from a lesbian to her lover. The same conclusion would be reached by anyone in England who read the letter. This hardly mattered: undoubtedly Maud, being a feminist and apparently single at twenty-six, was already suspected of Sapphic tendencies.

In a few days' time I will be in Stockholm, another cold city beside the water, and you could send me a letter at the Grand Hotel there.

Sweden, like Switzerland, was a neutral country with a postal service to England.

I would love to hear from you!!!

Until then, my wonderful darling,

remember your beloved-

Waltraud.

{III}

The United States declared war on Germany on Friday, April 6, 1917.

Walter had been expecting it, but all the same he felt the blow. America was rich, vigorous, and democratic: he could not imagine a worse enemy. The only hope now was that Russia would collapse, giving Germany a chance to win on the western front before the Americans had time to build up their forces.

Three days later, thirty-two exiled Russian revolutionaries met at the Zahringerhof Hotel in Zurich: men, women, and one child, a four-year-old boy called Robert. They walked from there to the baroque arch of the railway station to board a train for home.

Walter had been afraid they would not go. Martov, the Menshevik leader, had refused to leave without permission from the provisional government in Petrograd-an oddly deferential attitude for a revolutionary. Permission had not been given, but Lenin and the Bolsheviks decided to go anyway. Walter was keen that there should be no snags on the trip, and he accompanied the group to the riverside station and boarded the train with them.

This is Germany's secret weapon, Walter thought: thirty-two malcontents and misfits who want to bring down the Russian government. God help us.

Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov, known as Lenin, was forty-six years old. He was a short, stocky figure, dressed neatly but without elegance, too busy to waste time on style. He had once been a redhead, but he had lost his hair early, and now he had a shiny dome with a vestigial fringe, and a carefully trimmed Vandyke beard, ginger streaked with gray. On first acquaintance Walter had found him unimpressive, without charm or good looks.

Walter was posing as a lowly official in the Foreign Office who had been given the job of making all the practical arrangements for the Bolsheviks' journey through Germany. Lenin had given him a hard, appraising look, clearly guessing that he was in reality some kind of intelligence operative.

They traveled to Schaffhausen, on the border, where they transferred to a German train. They all spoke some German, having been living in the German-speaking region of Switzerland. Lenin himself spoke it well. He was a remarkable linguist, Walter learned. He was fluent in French, spoke passable English, and read Aristotle in ancient Greek. Lenin's idea of relaxation was to sit down with a foreign-language dictionary for an hour or two.

At Gottmadingen they changed again, to a train with a sealed carriage specially prepared for them as if they were carriers of an infectious disease. Three of its four doors were locked shut. The fourth door was next to Walter's sleeping compartment. This was to reassure overanxious German authorities, but it was not necessary: the Russians had no desire to escape, they wanted to go home.

Lenin and his wife, Nadya, had a room to themselves, but the others were crowded four to a compartment. So much for egalitarianism, Walter thought cynically.

As the train crossed Germany from south to north, Walter began to sense the force of character beneath Lenin's dull exterior. Lenin had no interest in food, drink, comfort, or possessions. Politics consumed his entire day. He was always arguing about politics, writing about politics, or thinking about politics and making notes. In arguments, Walter noted, Lenin always appeared to know more than his comrades and to have thought longer and harder than they-unless the subject under discussion was nothing to do with Russia or politics, in which case he was rather ill-informed.

He was a real killjoy. The first evening, the bespectacled young Karl Radek was telling jokes in the next compartment. "A man was arrested for saying, 'Nicholas is a moron.' He told the policeman: 'I meant another Nicholas, not our beloved tsar.' The policeman said: 'Liar! If you say moron you obviously mean the tsar!'" Radek's companions hooted with laughter. Lenin came out of his compartment with a face like thunder and ordered them to keep quiet.

Lenin did not like smoking. He himself had given it up, on his mother's insistence, thirty years ago. In deference to him, people smoked in the toilet at the end of the carriage. As there was only one toilet for thirty-two people this led to queues and squabbles. Lenin turned his considerable intellect to solving this problem. He cut up some paper and issued everyone with tickets of two kinds, some for normal use of the toilet and a smaller number for smoking. This reduced the queue and ended the arguments. Walter was amused. It worked, and everyone was happy, but there was no discussion, no attempt at collective decision-making. In this group, Lenin was a benign dictator. If he ever gained real power, would he manage the Russian empire the same way?

But would he win power? If not, Walter was wasting his time.

There was only one way he could think of to improve Lenin's prospects, and he made up his mind to do something about it.

He left the train at Berlin, saying he would be back to rejoin the Russians for the last leg. "Don't be long," one of them said. "We leave again in an hour."

"I'll be quick," said Walter. The train would depart when Walter said, but the Russians did not know that.

The carriage was in a siding at the Potsdamer station, and it took him only a few minutes to walk from there to the Foreign Office at 76 Wilhelmstrasse in the heart of old Berlin. His father's spacious room had a heavy mahogany desk, a painting of the kaiser, and a glass-fronted cabinet containing his collection of ceramics, including the eighteenth-century creamware fruit bowl he had bought on his last trip to London. As Walter had hoped, Otto was at his desk.

"There's no doubt of Lenin's beliefs," he told his father over coffee. "He says they have got rid of the symbol of oppression-the tsar-without changing Russian society. The workers have failed to take control: the middle class still runs everything. On top of that, Lenin personally hates Kerensky for some reason."

"But can he overthrow the provisional government?"

Walter spread his hands in a helpless gesture. "He is highly intelligent, determined, and a natural leader, and he never does anything except work. But the Bolsheviks are just another little political party among a dozen or more vying for power, and there's no way to tell who will come out on top."

"So all this effort may have been for nothing."

"Unless we do something to help the Bolsheviks win."

"Such as?"

Walter took a deep breath. "Give them money."

"What?" Otto was outraged. "The government of Germany, to give money to socialist revolutionaries?"

"I suggest a hundred thousand rubles, initially," Walter said coolly. "Preferably in gold ten-ruble pieces, if you can get them."

"The kaiser would never agree."

"Does he have to be told? Zimmermann could approve this on his own authority."

"He would never do such a thing."

"Are you sure?"

Otto stared at Walter in silence for a long time, thinking.

Then he said: "I'll ask him."

{IV}

After three days on the train, the Russians left Germany. At Sassnitz, on the coast, they bought tickets for the ferry Queen Victoria to take them across the Baltic Sea to the southern tip of Sweden. Walter went with them. The crossing was rough and everyone was seasick except Lenin, Radek, and Zinoviev, who were on deck having an angry political argument and did not seem to notice the heavy seas.

They took an overnight train to Stockholm, where the socialist Borgmastare gave them a welcome breakfast. Walter checked into the Grand Hotel, hoping to find a letter from Maud waiting for him. There was nothing.

He was so disappointed that he wanted to throw himself into the cold water of the bay. This had been his only chance to communicate with his wife in almost three years, and something had gone wrong. Had she even received his letter?

Unhappy fantasies tormented him. Did she still care for him? Had she forgotten him? Was there perhaps a new man in her life? He was completely in the dark.

Radek and the well-dressed Swedish socialists took Lenin, somewhat against his will, to the menswear section of the PUB department store. The hobnailed mountain boots the Russian had been wearing vanished. He got a coat with a velvet collar and a new hat. Now, Radek said, he was at least dressed like someone who could lead his people.

That evening, as night fell, the Russians went to the station to board yet another train for Finland. Walter was leaving the group here, but he went with them to the station. Before the train left, he had a meeting alone with Lenin.

They sat in a compartment under a dim electric light that gleamed off Lenin's bald head. Walter was tense. He had to do this just right. It would be no good to beg or plead with Lenin, he felt sure. And the man certainly could not be bullied. Only cold logic would persuade him.

Walter had a prepared speech. "The German government is helping you to return home," he said. "You know we are not doing this out of goodwill."

Lenin interrupted in fluent German. "You think it will be to the detriment of Russia!" he barked.

Walter did not contradict him. "And yet you have accepted our help."

"For the sake of the revolution! This is the only standard of right and wrong."

"I thought you would say that." Walter was carrying a heavy suitcase, and now he put it down on the floor of the railway carriage with a thump. "In the false bottom of this case you will find one hundred thousand rubles in notes and coins."

"What?" Lenin was normally imperturbable, but now he looked startled. "What is it for?"

"For you."

Lenin was offended. "A bribe?" he said indignantly.

"Certainly not," said Walter. "We have no need to bribe you. Your aims are the same as ours. You have called for the overthrow of the provisional government and an end to the war."

"What, then?"

"For propaganda. To help you spread your message. It is the message that we, too, would like to broadcast. Peace between Germany and Russia."

"So that you can win your capitalist-imperialist war against France!"

"As I said before, we are not helping you out of goodwill-nor would you expect us to. It's practical politics, that's all. For the moment, your interests coincide with ours."

Lenin looked as he had when Radek insisted on buying him new clothes: he hated the idea, but could not deny that it made sense.

Walter said: "We'll give you a similar amount of money once a month-as long, of course, as you continue to campaign effectively for peace."

There was a long silence.

Walter said: "You say that the success of the revolution is the only standard of right and wrong. If that is so, you should take the money."

Outside on the platform, a whistle blew.

Walter stood up. "I must leave you now. Good-bye, and good luck."

Lenin stared at the suitcase on the floor and did not reply.

Walter left the compartment and got off the train.

He turned and looked back at the window of Lenin's compartment. He half-expected the window to open and the suitcase to come flying out.

There was another whistle and a hoot. The carriages jerked and moved, and slowly the train steamed out of the station, with Lenin, the other Russian exiles, and the money on board.

Walter took the handkerchief from the breast pocket of his coat and wiped his forehead. Despite the cold, he was sweating.

{V}

Walter walked from the railway station along the waterfront to the Grand Hotel. It was dark, and a cold east wind blew off the Baltic. He should have been rejoicing: he had bribed Lenin! But he felt a sense of anticlimax. And he was more depressed than he should have been over the silence from Maud. There were a dozen possible reasons why she had not sent him a letter. He should not assume the worst. But he had come dangerously close to falling for Monika, so why should Maud not do something similar? He could not help feeling she must have forgotten him.

He decided he would get drunk tonight.

At the front desk he was given a typewritten note: "Please call at suite 201 where someone has a message for you." He guessed it was an official from the Foreign Office. Perhaps they had changed their minds about supporting Lenin. If so, they were too late.

He walked up the stairs and tapped on the door of 201. From inside a muffled voice said in German: "Yes?"

"Walter von Ulrich."

"Come in, it's open."

He stepped inside and closed the door. The suite was lit by candles. "Someone has a message for me?" he said, peering into the gloom. A figure rose from a chair. It was a woman, and she had her back to him, but something about her made his heart skip. She turned to face him.

It was Maud.

His mouth fell open and he stood paralyzed.

She said: "Hello, Walter."

Then her self-control broke and she threw herself into his arms.

The familiar smell of her filled his nostrils. He kissed her hair and stroked her back. He could not speak for fear he might cry. He crushed her body to his own, hardly able to believe that this was really her, he was really holding her and touching her, something he had longed for so painfully for almost three years. She looked up at him, her eyes full of tears, and he stared at her face, drinking it in. She was the same but different: thinner, with the faintest of lines under her eyes where there had been none before, yet with that familiar piercingly intelligent gaze.

She said in English: "'He falls to such perusal of my face, as he would draw it.'"

He smiled. "We're not Hamlet and Ophelia, so please don't go to a nunnery."

"Dear God, I've missed you."

"And I you. I was hoping for a letter-but this! How did you manage it?"

"I told the passport office I planned to interview Scandinavian politicians about votes for women. Then I met the home secretary at a party and had a word in his ear."

"How did you get here?"

"There are still passenger steamers."

"But it's so dangerous-our submarines are sinking everything."

"I know. I took the risk. I was desperate." She began to cry again.

"Come and sit down." With his arm still around her waist, he walked her across the room to the couch.

"No," she said when they were about to sit. "We waited too long, before the war." She took his hand and led him through an inner door to a bedroom. Logs crackled in the fireplace. "Let's not waste any more time. Come to bed."

{VI}

Grigori and Konstantin were part of the delegation from the Petrograd soviet that went to the Finland Station late in the evening of Monday, April 16, to welcome Lenin home.

Most of them had never seen Lenin, who had been in exile for all but a few months of the last seventeen years. Grigori had been eleven years old when Lenin left. Nevertheless he knew him by reputation, and so, it seemed, did thousands more people, who gathered at the station to greet him. Why so many? Grigori wondered. Perhaps they, like him, were dissatisfied with the provisional government, suspicious of its middle-class ministers, and angry that the war had not ended.

The Finland Station was in the Vyborg district, close to the textile mills and the barracks of the First Machine Gun Regiment. There was a crowd in the square. Grigori did not expect treachery, but he had told Isaak to bring a couple of platoons and several armored cars to stand guard just in case. There was a searchlight on the station roof, and someone was playing it over the mass of people waiting in the dark.

Inside, the station was full of workers and soldiers, all carrying red flags and banners. A military band played. Twenty minutes before midnight, two sailors' units formed up on the platform as a guard of honor. The delegation from the soviet loitered in the grand waiting room formerly reserved for the tsar and the royal family, but Grigori went out onto the platform with the crowd.

It was about midnight when Konstantin pointed up the line and Grigori, following his finger, saw the distant lights of a train. A rumble of anticipation rose from those waiting. The train steamed into the station, puffing smoke, and hissed to a halt. It had the number 293 painted on its front.

After a pause a short, stocky man got off the train wearing a double-breasted wool coat and a Homburg hat. Grigori thought this could not be Lenin-surely he would not be wearing the clothes of the boss class? A young woman stepped forward and handed him a bouquet, which he accepted with an ungracious frown. This was Lenin.

Behind him was Lev Kamenev, who had been sent by the Bolshevik Central Committee to meet Lenin at the border in case of problems-though in fact Lenin had been admitted without trouble. Now Kamenev indicated with a gesture that they should go to the royal waiting room.

Lenin rather rudely turned his back on Kamenev and addressed the sailors. "Comrades!" he shouted. "You have been deceived! You have made a revolution-and its fruits have been stolen from you by the traitors of the provisional government!"

Kamenev went white. It was the policy of almost everyone on the left to support the provisional government, at least temporarily.

Grigori was delighted, however. He did not believe in bourgeois democracy. The parliament allowed by the tsar in 1905 had been a trick, disempowered when the unrest came to an end and everyone went back to work. This provisional government was headed the same way.

And now at last someone had the guts to say so.

Grigori and Konstantin followed Lenin and Kamenev into the reception room. The crowd squeezed in after them until the room was crammed. The chairman of the Petrograd soviet, the balding, rat-faced Nikolai Chkeidze, stepped forward. He shook Lenin's hand and said: "In the name of the Petrograd soviet and the revolution, we hail your arrival in Russia. But... "

Grigori raised his eyebrows at Konstantin. This "but" seemed inappropriately early in a speech of welcome. Konstantin shrugged his bony shoulders.

"But we believe that the main task of revolutionary democracy consists now of defending our revolution against all attacks... " Chkeidze paused, then said with emphasis: "... whether internal or external."

Konstantin murmured: "This is not a welcome, it's a warning."

"We believe that to accomplish this, not disunity but unity is necessary on the part of all revolutionists. We hope that, in agreement with us, you will pursue these aims."

There was polite applause from some of the delegation.

Lenin paused before replying. He looked at the faces around him and at the lavishly decorated ceiling. Then, in a gesture that seemed a deliberate insult, he turned his back on Chkeidze and spoke to the crowd.

"Comrades, soldiers, sailors, and workers!" he said, pointedly excluding middle-class parliamentarians. "I salute you as the vanguard of the world proletarian army. Today, or perhaps tomorrow, all of European imperialism may collapse. The revolution you have made has opened up a new epoch. Long live the world socialist revolution!"

They cheered. Grigori was startled. They had only just achieved a revolution in Petrograd-and the results of that were still in doubt. How could they think about a world revolution? But the idea thrilled him all the same. Lenin was right: all people should turn on the masters who had sent so many men to die in this pointless world war.

Lenin marched away from the delegation and out into the square.

A roar went up from the waiting crowd. Isaak's troops lifted Lenin onto the reinforced roof of an armored car. The searchlight was trained on him. He took off his hat.

His voice was a monotonous bark, but his words were electric. "The provisional government has betrayed the revolution!" he shouted.

They cheered. Grigori was surprised: he had not known how many people thought the way he did.

"The war is a predatory imperialist war. We want no part in this shameful imperialist slaughter of men. With the overthrow of the capital we can conclude a democratic peace!"

That got a bigger roar.

"We do not want the lies or frauds of a bourgeois parliament! The only possible form of government is a soviet of workers' deputies. All banks must be taken over and brought under the control of the soviet. All private land must be confiscated. And all army officers must be elected!"

That was exactly what Grigori thought, and he cheered and waved along with almost everyone else in the crowd.

"Long live the revolution!"

The crowd went wild.

Lenin clambered off the roof and got into the armored car. It drove off at a walking pace. The crowd surrounded and followed it, waving red flags. The military band joined in the procession, playing a march.

Grigori said: "This is the man for me!"

Konstantin said: "Me, too."

They followed the procession.


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