Laura takes the train to Paris with her mother Tania, to visit her wealthy grandparents, exiled from St. Petersburg two years previously as a result of high political manoeuvres. Her sick grandmother needs urgent medical attention and Tania is very worried. Laura and the aging count, whose physical and spiritual size dwarfs that of any ordinary mortal, are packed off by train to stay with an American great-aunt somewhere on the coast. Kamensky, the count's devoted right-hand man, is at the last moment prevented from joining them by a trivial incident.
Soon after the train gets under way the carriage is invaded by an aristocratic but scruffy Russian who subjects the count and Laura to a long and involved narrative. He claims that the Tsar is scheming to lure Count Diakonov back to Russia for a mock trial, after which he will be left to languish and die in prison. He has been betrayed by trusted members within his household.Read more ›