CHAPTER THREE Sam sat alone in the room waiting for his friend's return. Suddenly a tightening pain crushed his chest. "Argh!" Sam keeled over onto the floor. He writhed with the torturous pain and fell into unconsciousness. As the observer entered the room he saw Sam in agony and rushed over to him. "Sam! Sam what wrong?" Sam's eyes flickered open, he was finding it difficult to breathe. "I think I'm having a seizure Al." Sam's face was a ghostly gray. Sam was breathing heavily, he could hardly speak. The observer tried to pour Sam a cup of water from the jug on the table, but he couldn't grasp the handle. He hurriedly left the room but soon re-entered a second later. Flapping his arms about in dismay. "They can't see me Sam! Take some really deep breaths and try to relax." "Relax! I-I cant relax!" Sam was gasping "God, the pain..... it-it's unbearable." His face contorted with pain. "Don't say anything Sam, just breathe, slowly, deeply." The observer looked around desperately trying to find something to help Sam, but all he could see was the water sitting on the table, too far out of Sam's reach for it to help. Sam could hardly speak, "What am I going to do Al?" "Right. Remember one-time when you leapt, you thought you were having a heart attack then." "No. Can't remember." "Your heart is in perfect condition, it's just psychosomatic, you were fine 'till I told you that Dr. Botkin had a heart condition." "I know, but this pain is real." The observer glared at Sam, teeth gritted, "Physician heal thyself." Sam placed his fingers to his neck feeling his carotid pulse. "Feels okay, strong and regular." "There you are, just take it steady." The observer took a deep breath and his eyes closed in relief. Sam lay there taking slow, deep breaths, the pain started to subside, "Okay, it's easing off a little." The colour started to return to Sam's face. He raised himself to his elbows. "I'll be okay in a minute Al." Sam looked at his friend, he could see the concern in his face and he could feel his helplessness, "I wish I could do something for you Sam." "Just being here is all I need.... thanks Al." Sam's breathing was starting to return to normal and he managed to get back onto the chair. "Get some water, and sip it slowly." Sam just managed to pour out the water spilling most of it on the table. A shaky hand lifted the cup to his lips. "That's right, slowly." The hand-link beeped as if to remind them of the task in hand. "Right Sam, as far as I can see there are six guards on the ground floor. None at all on this floor." Sam took a deep breath and stood, wincing at the pain in his chest. Sam let the breath out as he spoke, "Right, let's take a look." "You sure you're okay? I mean you can rest a while." Sam held his chest. "It's okay, it's nearly gone. I can't sit around here and do nothing, I have to find some way of..." Sam, hunched over managed to walked over to the door to the Salon, and opened it. "...helping these people." Sam closed the door silently behind him, while the observer emerged through the wall. They entered further into the Salon. The czar, Nicholas was speaking to the two girls as they entered the Salon, "Children, please, do put the jardiniere back in the chest, we do not want the guards finding our jewels." Nicholas noticed Sam, "Oh Dr. Botkin you are up." Sam shuffled over to a vacant chair next to Tatiana and Olga, between them sat a bowl filled with diamonds, gems, jewelry and pearls, the two girls were playing with them. Alexandra looked up from her sewing, concern was evident in her voice "How are you feeling Dr. Botkin? Better I trust?" Alexandra's blue eyes held a sadness she could not hide. Sam smiled at her as he sat down in the chair. "A little better thank you erm..." Sam looked toward his friend, the observer noticed his friend's predicament. "Ma'am, address her as Ma'am." the observer prompted. "Ma'am, better, thank you." Sam nodded to his friend, but he was looking at Alexandra. Alexandra looked up again from her sewing and smiled at Sam. Olga's eyes were swollen and red from her weeping, but when she smiled at Sam they sparkled a little. Nicholas looked over to Sam and slapped both hands onto the arms of the chair, "Glad to hear that Dr. Botkin, indeed, you gave us quite a scare yesterday." "Indeed so, I trust you rested well?" Alexandra smiled at her husband but the words were directed to Sam. "Yes, indeed I did, I rested well." Sam smiled at the couple, who after all of their years together, still showed their affection for each other. He could tell, they were still deeply in love. "I see the guards have let you out." Nicholas stood and casually strolled over to the fireplace. "Let me out? H-how do you mean?" Sam knew he had been locked in the Dinning Room but didn't wish to appear nonsensical. "Yes Dr. Botkin. They thought you were feigning your attack yesterday and locked the doors to the Dining Room. I think they feared you would elude them." Nicholas explained. "They locked me in? I didn't know that." continued Sam. Alexandra almost repeated her husband's words. "Yes Doctor, we tried to persuade them that it was not a necessity, but they locked you in nevertheless." "I was not aware of that, the door was unlocked when I came in here." Sam's gaze turned to Alexandra. Alexandra shook her head, "They must have taken heed, it is a pleasure to have your companionship again." "The pleasure is all mine, Ma'am." Sam looked at the women sewing and then at the bowl of jewels. He knew of their plight and suddenly an idea came to him. "Ma'am, I have a notion, I hope you will not mind my proposition." Sam glanced over to the observer and shrugged his shoulders. The observer laughed at Sam, "I like that Sam, keeping in character. You shoulda gotten one of your Doctorates in acting. Dr. Samuel Beckett actor extraordinaire." Sam looked at his companion, annoyed. The observer lit up a cigar and started to blow smoke rings into the air. Alexandra's glanced from her sewing to Sam, "No, of course Doctor, your propositions have been so advantageous in the past. Speak doctor, what do you propose?" "You could sew the jewels into your erm, your undergarments. Pardon this suggestion, but that way they could be hidden more easily." "Why Dr. Botkin, you are a genius, children lets do as Dr. Botkin proposes. This will be a great adventure." Everyone busied themselves with this preparation. The children were excited. Sam watched as they flittered around the room. The observer slapped his hands together, the ash fell from his cigar unseen. "Good thinking Sam. You could add a couple of Oscars to the Nobel Prize you got already." Sam was annoyed at the observer. "Al!" Anastasia noticed Sam's remark. "What's wrong doctor?" Anastasia's hair shone reddish blonde in the lamplight and her blue eyes although sad, held a sparkle for life. Sam was a little embarrassed at his sudden outburst towards his friend and was happy to see no-one else had noticed, "Erm, I-I'll stretch my legs. I've done nothing but lie down since yesterday. No concern, nothing, is wrong my dear." "Good idea, we'll go over to the hallway." The observer nodded in the direction of the hallway and walked towards it, Sam stood up and followed.