THE STEEL FLEA
it behind the stove in the hall. Having thus concealed the casket, Platoff presented himself before the Emperor in his study, and began, with all possible speed, to report the internecine conversation of the Cossacks on the quiet Don. He reasoned thus: that he would engage the Emperor's attention in this manner, and then, if the Emperor himself remembered and mentioned the flea, it would be necessary to hand it over and answer for it; but if the Emperor should not refer to it, then he would hold his own tongue: he would order the valet attached to the study to put the casket away out of sight, and would confine the left-handed Tula man in a casemate of the fortress for an indefinite period, and allow him to sit there until he was needed.
But the Emperor Nikolai Pavlovitch had forgotten nothing, and Platoff had barely terminated his internecine con-
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