An old friend returns

The evening after the British delegation returned to Moscow from the trip down the Volga, the chief censor met Marguerite Harrison at the Foreign Office in the Metropole Hotel and told her that a friend of hers would be coming to visit.

The friend was Stan Harding.

Marguerite was shocked. She had not heard from Harding since she left Berlin in August 1919, and for all she knew the woman was decorating flats in London. Marguerite was determined to stop Harding from entering Russia, although the reason is not clear. Harding later said Marguerite feared that Harding would report her as an American spy. But the Russians already knew that. More plausible is Marguerite’s explanation that she believed the Russians would arrest Harding because they knew she had helped Marguerite gather intelligence in Berlin. It is possible   Marguerite had already identified Harding as a spy in her effort to give Cheka a report on foreign agents.

Stan Harding

Marguerite tried to get word to Harding not to come to Russia. She relayed the message to several correspondents and may have told Bertrand Russell, who said he warned Harding against going to Moscow when he saw her in Reval, Estonia, as he returning to England.

But Harding refused to change her mind. Like Marguerite, she was adventurous bordering on reckless.

The Russians granted Harding a visa and Solomon Mogilevsky traveled to Revel to meet her in person, even presenting Harding with fresh flowers and strawberries.

During the trip, Harding occupied herself reading a book on Soviet proclamations, which included one she vividly recalled: “All living beings are freed from their shackles.”   Unbeknownst to her, however, she already was a prisoner of the Cheka.

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