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The Secret of the Night

15. I Have Been Waiting For You
At the hotel a note from Gounsovski: "Don't forget this time to come to-morrow to have
luncheon with me. Warmest regards from Madame Gounsovski." Then a horrible,
sleepless night, shaken with echoes of explosions and the clamor of the wounded; and the
solemn shade of Pere Alexis, stretching out toward Rouletabille a phial of poison and
saying, "Either Natacha or you!" Then, rising among the shades the bloody form of
Michael Nikolaievitch the Innocent!
In the morning a note from the Marshal of the Court.
Monsieur le Marechal had no particular good news, evidently, for in terms quite without
enthusiasm he invited the young man to luncheon for that same day, rather early, at
midday, as he wished to see him once more before he left for France. "I see," said
Rouletabille to himself; "Monsieur le Marechal pronounces my expulsion from the
country "- and he forgot once more the Gounsovski luncheon. The meeting-place named
was the great restaurant called the Bear. Rouletabille entered it promptly at noon. He
asked the schwitzar if the Grand Marshal of the Court had arrived, and was told no one
had seen him yet. They conducted him to the huge main hall, where, however, there was
only one person. This man, standing before the table spread with zakouskis, was stuffing
himself. At the sound of Rouletabille's step on the floor this sole famished patron turned
and lifted his hands to heaven as he recognized the reporter. The latter would have given
all the roubles in his pocket to have avoided the recognition. But he was already face to
face with the advocate so celebrated for his table-feats, the amiable Athanase
Georgevitch, his head swathed in bandages and dressings from the midst of which one
could perceive distinctly only the eyes and, above all, the mouth.
"How goes it, little friend?"
"How are you?"
"Oh, I! There is nothing the matter. In a week we shall have forgotten it."
"What a terrible affair," said the reporter, "I certainly believed we were all dead men."
"No, no. It was nothing. Nitchevo!"
"And poor Thaddeus Tchitchnikoff with his two poor legs broken!"
"Eh! Nitchevo! He has plenty of good solid splints that will make him two good legs
again. Nitchevo! Don't you think anything more about that! It is nothing. You have come
here to dine? A very celebrated house this. Caracho!" He busied himself to do the honors.
One would have said the restaurant belonged to him. He boasted of its architecture and
the cuisine "a la Francaise."
 
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