The Romanov Succession
The Romanov Succession
Colonel Glenn Buckner had an office in an overflow annex not far from the War Department. Alex tried to get his bearings; the lettering in the corridors was baffling. Officers carrying documents hurried through in creased poplin-there was a kind of muted urgency about them. Alex asked directions and reached Buckner's office ten minutes ahead of his scheduled appointment.
A half-bald sergeant sat at a small desk rattling a typewriter. He stopped long enough to look up.
"Colonel Danilov to see Colonel Buckner."
"I'm sorry sir, he's over to the White House. He'll be here sometime, that's all I can tell you. You can get coffee in the canteen down the hall."
Finally at ten minutes before twelve a bulky brisk man in a blue flannel suit came along the hall. "Danilov? I'm Glenn Buckner."
Buckner was not more than thirty. His hair was cordovan brown and all his bones were big. He had a wide square face and quick blue eyes. "I'm sorry I kept you waiting."
The sergeant said, "You had a call from Admiral King's C of S, sir."
"Later." Buckner's handshake was firm but he wasn't a knuckle-grinder. "Come on in. Don't mind me being in mufti-people on the Hill get nervous if they see too many uniforms goose-stepping into the White House so a lot of us wear civvies. The President's idea. Shut the door, will you? Take a seat. Be right with you."
It was a small room with a metal desk and two telephones; no window. The walls were pale yellow on plain sheetrock-temporary partitions. It had been carved out of a bigger room at some point. Buckner pulled open a wooden file drawer and rummaged; made a throat noise of satisfaction, lifted out a thin folder and carried it to the desk. "Go on-sit down, sit down." Buckner cocked a hip on the corner of the desk and sat with one ankle dangling.
"I'd better start by establishing credentials. You know who I am?"
"Aide to General Marshall, I gather."
"In a way. Actually I'm attached to the White House-military advisor on Soviet affairs. I was Military Attache in Moscow until a few months ago."
Alex shifted mental gears; he hadn't anticipated this.
Buckner said, "I'm told you hate the Bolsheviks."
Buckner smiled slowly. "Okay, You'd better explain that one."
"I'm a White Russian, Colonel. We were brought up to hate Bolsheviks but you outgrow that after a while. I'm not crazy about Communists but I don't hate them."
"For a man who can't be bothered to hate them you've spent a lot of time shooting at them."
"That's something else," Alex said. "That's Stalin."
"Ah. I see now."
"Stalin's no more a Communist than Hitler is."
"Well you've got a point there." Buckner watched him speculatively. "You're acquainted with General A. I. Deniken, I think."
"He commands a good deal of clout in Washington. Secretary Stimson's known him for years. Your General Deniken was in a position to get the ear of the Secretary. He brought us an idea. Deniken approached Secretary Stimson. The Secretary and I conferred and then we took it to the President. He listened. The idea didn't originate with Deniken, it came to him from a group of your people in Europe. Principally the group around your Grand Duke Feodor and his cousin, what's his name, Leo Kirov?"
"Leon. Prince Leon."
"Ordinarily it wouldn't have cut any ice. I mean it's a bunch of exiled leaders who've never even bothered to set up a government-in-exile on paper. There are three Grand Dukes all claiming to be the real Pretender to the Czar's throne-and none of them speak to each other and one of them's a Nazi. I mean it's not the kind of situation anybody takes seriously from the outside. That'd be sort of like trying to restore the King of England to the North American throne.
"But Deniken wasn't talking about restoring the monarchy in Russia. He was talking