Chapter eight: Escape from Russia

The Baron was on a coach leaving St.

 

The Baron was on a coach leaving St. Petersburg to meet with his brother at the dock. It was a long journey. He was alone except for his driver Rudolph up in the driver’s space. Two fine horses, black and powerful were pulling the coach to safety.

At this point the Baron although calm realized his worse scenarios were materializing. Izzy had disappeared and that was strange and disconcerting. And then there was the spying.

The Baron felt his moves were being watched. It was more than just a feeling, he had proof. His position in the Russian Duma required him to have a secretary. A person who would aid him in research, keep his papers in order and brief him on events. The person the Duma had assigned to him was Sergi Petrokov. A young man of about twenty- five. Thin and slightly on the awkward side Sergi was quite capable. But the Baron had secretly felt he was watching him and reporting back to someone. To get a handle on the situation the Baron had placed a few papers in his unlocked desk. It was the time he went away for a few days. When he came back he found the papers were out of sequence. He knew then that Sergi was assigned to watch and report. He therefore acted accordingly. Now with his plans to escape out of the trap that he felt was about to be sprung, he used this knowledge hopefully for his benefit. He told Sergi that he and his companion were invited to the Bat Mitsvah but his home secretary had mislaid the invitations. He wanted Sergi to report back to whomever that all was normal.

It was four o’clock and the Baron wanted to return for a weekend at his castle. He took his coach and directed the coachmen to return him home. He trusted the coachmen Ivan, for he had selected him. He was loyal to the family. An hour out and with the city of St. Petersburg behind him and fading in the distance the roads became rough and bumpy. Traffic on the road was getting sparce. Baron looked back and saw that his suspicions were correct. He was being followed by four men on horseback. He knew that ahead was a small inn. He needed to think and directed his Ivan to stop so he might get a bite to eat. As he suspected the followers also stopped at the inn. He sat at a table alone while his coachmen stayed with the coach. He sent out some food for Ivan to consume. The four horsemen entered and ate at a table on the other side of the room. They were boisterous and jovial but the Baron knew that was a deception. What they wanted he did not know but they were after him and yet they waited. Perhaps waiting when they were in a more isolate area?

Baron Simon Yakovlevich ordered a lite meal consisting of borsht and black bread and a stein of ale. He tore off pieces of the bread and sopped up the borsht. He slurped this down with swigs of ale. Meanwhile his gaze would on occasion go around the room. He looked at his adversaries. They could not fool him. They took glanced over but avoided direct contact with his eyes. He heard one of them refer to the leader of this troop as Captain. A captain? Why would they be on this road and for what other purpose then to follow the Baron?

The Baron had to make a determination. Did he follow this route to his castle, Konstantin Palace or deter as he had thought he was going to do and go to the sea coast where he would catch his cousin’s boat to freedom? Would he by doing so jeapordize the others that he had ordered to go there for their freedom.The Baron was seventy five years old and although active was not as strong as he used to be. If this would be the end then let it be so. Rather die in the arms of a fight than die in a bed lingering through the night. He remembered his father had said that to him before he went to battle. His father was rewarded and did die a death for heroes and not in bed. The Baron remembered this as he boarded his coach to go to his destiny. He would take the turnoff. This road leading northeast to the coast was rarely traveled. If these men were indeed after him they would surely follow and the chase would be either his last or their last. A mile before the turnoff the Baron prepared. Under his seat were weapons and he now opened the top of the seat to reveal them, take them out and prepare himself for battle if it needed to be.

 

 

The Baron took out the Blunderbuss. His cousin, Joseph Trumpeldor, had given it to him as a present. A present with close quarter efficiency. It had limitations as it could be only used up close and personal. He placed it gently on the seat opposite him. He also took out two blades. One short and sweet the other a saber.

Image result for picture of a blunderbuss

 

Founder Jacob Schiff was determined to ensure that the Technion would maintain its independence. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

and the other heavier and longer.

The short blade was a ten inch bayonet that Jacob Schiff gave him two years prior. The other was his blade from the battle at Balaclava, it was a memento that he had taken from one of those unfortunate British cavalry men who had charged a position that was a death trap. It was thirty- five and a half inches long and to the best of his knowledge was made in the mid 1800’s. He had admired the men who made the Charge as brave but foolish. The Baron had gained the sword after his convalescence at the hospital, his men had given it to him hoping to make him happy. At the time he was deeply depressed for his loss of his manhood placed suicide into his mind. It took all of his mentality to overcome the mental anguish.

He was as ready as he could be. He hoped that his suspicions were just that. But deep in his heart he knew better.

He directed the coachman, Ivan to take the North road which was two miles west of the inn. This road lead to the docks but through a back way which was rugged and usually empty. It had been used many years before but most people preferred to use the main route which was longer but easier on the backside. When Ivan turned up on the road, the suspicions of the Baron were cemented in reality for the four cavalry men a quarter of a mile behind them also took that route. It was to be a battle.

The Baron had the suspicion that the four men were going to take him alive. But in his soul he reasoned that torture was a distinct possibility and he would have none of it. Better to die fighting than to be stripped of his dignity. The coach was a mile down from the turnoff and the Baron decided to make his move. His defensive instruments were lain out on the seat opposite him. He decided to tell Ivan to put the two horses into a gallop. This would mean the four men behind him would go into pursuit and elongate their strides as they went for them. He figured at least one of them would get up towards the coach and he would use the blunderbuss on him. He knew that the coach could not outrun them and the sanctuary of the docks was to far away.

Once informed by the Baron to go full out, Ivan knew his life was in danger. He did not want to die but saw no alternative. He had a gun in his belt but handling the horses would make it impossible to take it out and fire it. He hoped the four men in his rear would not pursue but as soon as he set his two black horses to a gallop they took pursuit. There was no way they would outrun their steeds and the inevitable would occur within minutes.

The Baron prepared himself for the ensuing battle. It had been a long time since he had the adrenaline flowing. But now it made him feel super human.

He whispered under his breath, “Come on, you bastards,” yet he really did not know who these men represented. Who wanted him? There were a few possibilities but he had time to figure it out. The pursuers caught up to the coach in a few minutes.

The Baron was correct. Two of the horsemen had a slight lead and came up quickly to his left window. He aimed the blunderbuss and stuck it out the window. He was hoping the discharge would knock out two of his assailants at the same time. That would be great.

The road was filled with debris and one of the coach wheels hit a nice size rock. The coach lurched just as he fired. The blast was deflected but did hit one of the riders and his horse. They went down with the horse buckling because of pellets hitting it in the face. The rider went thumbing and at that speed was severely hurt by the fall and not the blast. The second rider seeing his companion fall keep riding, he had taken out a pistol and passing the window of the coach came up near the driver. He fired once at him striking Ivan in the side. Ivan dropped the reigns as he felt the bullet entering. A moment of how stupid was that crossed his face. Then the coach hit a bigger rock and the yoke split. This freed the horses and caused the coach to careen freely down the path to a steep embankment where it toppled to its side and slide down the hill. With a terrible noise it landed overturned at the bottom of the hill to the left of the trail. The Baron was still inside all broken up. The driver had jumped from the coach before the slide but the jump resulted in massive injuries to his body which was already hurt by the bullet lodged in his side. Ivan lay by rocks unconscious with his life ebbing out of him.

The three Calvary men stopped at the rim of the embankment. They should have sent one of them to check but they figured the fall would have killed the occupant of the coach. Their job was to bring the Baron in for questioning but a dead man cannot be questioned. Their thoughts were for their captain who lay stuck under his dead horse. They decided to transport him back to the inn and seek a medical man. They would not convey that the coach was destroyed. They would make up a story that they decided to race their steeds and this accident hurting their captain occurred. In their minds no one would travel this desolate road and therefore the coach would not be found for years. The body of Ivan would be eaten by the elements or wolves. No big deal. After gathering up their captain they proceeded to the inn.

The Baron lay there. He assumed death was around the corner. One of his last thoughts was of his son. Would Barouch have been proud of his last stand? Then he drifted into a state of unconsciousness.

The captain of the boat Joseph Trumpeldor had everyone aboard. It was time to leave but one passenger was not present. His cousin The Baron was nowhere in sight. Seymour had informed  him of the delicate position they were in and he was anxious to leave port. He wanted to stay out of the fray for he feared the Holy Synod and their henchmen.  After waiting an extra four hours he gave the okay to go to sea. Even Seymour agreed something was amiss and the longer they delayed the more dangerous the situation.

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