The Secret of the Night
11. The Poison Continues
At ten o'clock that morning Rouletabille went to the Trebassof villa, which had its guard
of secret agents again, a double guard, because Koupriane was sure the Nihilists would
not delay in avenging Michael's death. Rouletabille was met by Ermolai, who would not
allow him to enter. The faithful servant uttered some explanation in Russian, which the
young man did not understand, or, rather, Rouletabille understood perfectly from his
manner that henceforth the door of the villa was closed to him. In vain he insisted on
seeing the general, Matrena Petrovna and Mademoiselle Natacha. Ermolai made no reply
but "Niet, niet, niet." The reporter turned away without having seen anyone, and walked
away deeply depressed. He went afoot clear into the city, a long promenade, during
which his brain surged with the darkest forebodings. As he passed by the Department of
Police he resolved to see Koupriane again. He went in, gave his name, and was ushered at
once to the Chief of Police, whom he found bent over a long report that he was reading
through with noticeable agitation.
"Gounsovski has sent me this," he said in a rough voice, pointing to the report.
"Gounsovski, 'to do me a service,' desires me to know that he is fully aware of all that
happened at the Trebassof datcha last night. He warns me that the revolutionaries have
decided to get through with the general at once, and that two of them have been given the
mission to enter the datcha in any way possible. They will have bombs upon their bodies
and will blow the bombs and themselves up together as soon as they are beside the
general. Who are the two victims designated for this horrible vengeance, and who have
light-heartedly accepted such a death for themselves as well as for the general? That is
what we don't know. That is what we would have known, perhaps, if you had not
prevented me from seizing the papers that Prince Galitch has now," Koupriane finished,
turning hostilely toward Rouletabille.
Rouletabille had turned pale.
"Don't regret what happened to the papers," he said. "It is I who tell you not to. But what
you say doesn't surprise me. They must believe that Natacha has betrayed them."
"Ah, then you admit at last that she really is their accomplice?"
"I haven't said that and I don't admit it. But I know what I mean, and you, you can't. Only,
know this one thing, that at the present moment I am the only person able to save you in
this horrible situation. To do that I must see Natacha at once. Make her understand this,
while I wait at my hotel for word. I'll not leave it."
Rouletabille saluted Koupriane and went out.
Two days passed, during which Rouletabille did not receive any word from either
Natacha or Koupriane, and tried in vain to see them. He made a trip for a few hours to
Finland, going as far as Pergalovo, an isolated town said to be frequented by the