Part One - Old Russia Alexander Palace Time Machine
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Part Two - Revolution Chapter V

The Tsarevitch was now almost well, and running about the Palace much as usual. I do not think he noticed many changes, the Revolution conveyed nothing to him except when he missed certain of his soldiers and his friends. He was still a happy, light-hearted child.

The Imperial Family had no presentiment of disaster for themselves, but they suffered untold agonies of mind over the fate of Russia. " Can you imagine what it means to the Emperor to know that he is cut off from active life? " said the Empress.

Soon after the episode of telephoning from the basement, Kotzebue went to Petrograd. I was anxious for his return, as he had promised to go and see Titi, and bring me the latest news from home. Days passed... I became apprehensive, and made enquiries, only to be told that we should not see him again at Tsarkoe! I saw in this an omen of coming trouble, so I went at once to the Emperor and acquainted him with what I had heard. The Emperor and the Empress were watching some of the ladies-in-waiting who were walking in the Park, followed by sentinels; the Empress noticed my agitation.

"Why, Lili, whatever is the matter?" she enquired.

"Madame, I hear that Kotzebue is to be replaced." 

The Emperor looked at me. Then, shrugging his shoulders, he remarked: "Well - it can't be helped" and straightway changed the conversation... possibly to calm our fears, or more probably to show how unaffected he was by the mandates of the Revolutionaries.

The long, monotonous days passed-we endured them alternately with the calmness of despair and with gratitude for their dullness. Once we witnessed a sight of horror. Hearing a sound of military music, and the tramp, tramp of many people, we went to the windows, and saw a funeral procession wending its way across the snowcovered Park. But this was no ordinary funeral; the dead were some of the soldiers who had been killed at Tsarkoe Selo on the first day of the Revolution. It was. a red burial-the coffins were covered in scarlet, the mourners were dressed in scarlet, and scarlet flags waved everywhere. Seen in the distance the procession looked like a river of blood flowing slowly through the Park. Everything was red and white, and the superstitious might have inferred from this a presage - of the innocent blood so soon to be outpoured... since the snow was not whiter than the souls of the young and beautiful who are now safe in the keeping. of a God of justice, who most surely will repay!

None of us could forget the impression produced by this funeral; blood seemed everywhere, and terror lurked in the shadows. The soldiers were buried in the Park, within sight of the Palaceanother refinement of torture for those whose imaginations were already overexcited. Our nerves were frayed, although I do not think that we were guilty of giving way to our emotions. But it was difficult to maintain our composure when insolent officers treated us in a shameful manner, or a soldier called the Empress by some filthy epithet. One soldier, however, was a Bayard. He possessed an English name, and his father taught in a school at Riga. This man was really extraordinary. He was not only polite, but he invariably tried to show us that he did not share the Revolutionary outlook. The two regiments which were at the Palace distinguished themselves by a series of petty thefts; not even the spoons were safe. I suppose they would have described these articles as "Souvenir spoons"!

We were no longer to complain of monotony. Even then, events unknown to us were moving quickly, and in my case definitely.

The Grand Duchess Marie was still very ill, and Anna, who knew this, decided to go and see her. The Empress was against the idea; Anna was ill, she said, and it was better for her health and her safety to keep as quiet as possible, and not to draw any undue attention to her presence in the Palace. So strongly did the Empress disapprove, that she was taken in her wheeled chair to see Anna, but she returned more nervous and apprehensive than before.

I spent the morning with the Empress, and I lunched with Anna, in the apparently forlorn hope of dissuading her from attempting to see Marie. After luncheon we discussed the burning question of Kotzebue's disappearance. Suddenly we were startled by hearing a noise in the corridor.

Anna instantly rang the bell. A servant answered it.

"Who is outside?" demanded Anna.

"I don't know," replied the man, who was evidently much disturbed; "the soldiers are here." At this moment a skorohod (The skorohod were the confidential messengers of the Imperial Family. They wore a distinctive livery and wonderful hats adorned with black and yellow ostrich feathers) entered, and handed me a tiny folded note. I opened it... Written in pencil, in the Empress's handwriting, were these ominous words:

"Kerensky passe par toutes - nos chambres, Pas avoir peur - Dieu est la. Vous embrasse toutes les duex." Translation: Kerensky is passing through all our rooms - Do not be afraid - God is present. I kiss you both."

Heavy footsteps sounded in the corridor. I had barely time to slip the precious note inside my bodice when the door was flung open, and a man, followed by two others, came in. I stood up at once and looked at our visitor - it was Kerensky himself!

I saw a slight man with a pale face, thin lips, shifty eyes, seen under lowered lids, and a nondescript nose. Kerensky gave one the impression of being mal soigne... He was not tall, but slight in figure, and his head drooped in, a curious manner: he wore the blue jacket of an ordinary workman.

Kerensky slowly considered us.

"Are you Madame Anna Virouboff?" he said, addressing Anna.

"Yes," replied Anna, faintly.

"Well, put on your clothes immediately and be ready to follow me,"

Anna made no answer.

"Why the devil are you in bed?" he demanded, staring at Anna's invalid deshabillee.

"Because I'm ill," whimpered Anna, looking more childish than ever.

"Well"... said Kerensky, turning to an officer, " perhaps we had better not move her. I'll have a chat with the doctors. In the meantime, isolate Madame Virouboff. Place sentinels before the door - she's to hold no communication with anyone. Nobody is to come into this bedroom or to leave it until I give the order."

He went out of the room, followed by the officers. Anna and I looked at each other, speechless with dismay. My first collected thought was for the Empress. I would not be separated from her.

"I must try and see Their Majesties," I said wildly.

"Yes, Lili, do. For God's sake see them," sobbed Anna.

I opened the bedroom door very softly: the sentinels had not yet arrived. I caught a glimpse of Kerensky entering the room occupied by the doctors; then, impelled by some desperate courage, I ran down the corridors, and arrived breathless in the Grand Duchesses' apartments. I found the Empress with Olga. I told her, in a few words, what had happened. Then distant footsteps warned us of Kerensky's approach.

"Run... Lili - hide in Marie's room - it's dark there," whispered the Empress.

I had barely time to crouch down behind a screen in Marie's room when Kerensky came in. He took no notice of the sick girl, but went in search of the Empress, who, with the Emperor, had now gone into the schoolroom. From where I was hiding I could hear Kerensky shouting. In a few moments the Empress entered; she was trembling visibly.... The Grand Duchesses Olga and Tatiana (now convalescent) rushed forward. "Mamma, Mamma, what is the matter?"

"Kerensky has insisted upon my leaving him alone with the Emperor," answered the Empress. . "They'll most probably arrest me."

The two girls clung to their mother, and slowly made their way back to Marie. I had now emerged from behind the screen, and I went into the schoolroom, where I determined to remain until I saw the Emperor.

After what seemed a very long time the Emperor came out - alone.

"Your Majesty," I cried, "tell me, I implore you, if there is anything dreadful in store for Her Majesty? " The Emperor was painfully nervous. "No, no, Lili, and if Kerensky had uttered one word against Her Majesty, you would have heard me strike the table - thus -" and he struck the writing table with his fist. "But I hear they've arrested Anna. Poor unfortunate woman, what will become of her?"

At the sound of her husband's voice the Empress came out of Marie's bedroom. The Emperor told her that Kerensky had arrested Anna because he suspected that she was implicated in political plots. "If it's true, it's an awful thing," said Kerensky; " but I suppose everything will now be disclosed."

Their Majesties then related the particulars of their interview with Kerensky.

"His first words," said the Empress, "were, 'I am Kerensky. You probably know my name.' We made no answer.

' But you must have heard of me? ' he persisted. Still no reply.

"Well," said Kerensky, "I'm sure I don't know why we are standing. Let's sit down - it's far more comfortable!" "He seated himself," continued the Empress.

The Emperor and I slowly followed his example, and, finding that I still declined to speak, Kerensky insisted upon being left alone with the Emperor."

Shortly afterwards, to our great relief, we were informed that Kerensky had left the Palace and gone to the Town Hall. The new commandant, Colonel Korovichenko, was then presented to the Empress, who begged him to allow her to say good-bye to Anna. Korovichenko consented, and the Empress went, unaccompanied, to Anna's room. She sat very silent when she returned: she felt the parting keenly, as both the friends knew that, in all probability, it might be for ever!

The Emperor, the Grand Duchesses and myself now took up our position in "Orchie's room," (Orchie was a pet name for Miss Orchard, the Empress's old governess, who had died at the Palace. Her room had been left undisturbed since her death.) from which the windows commanded a view of the entrance to Anna's apartments. I was sitting by the Empress near the window... All at once she took my band, and said in a voice choked with emotion:

"At least, God will allow you to remain, and"

Her sentence remained unfinished... At this moment someone knocked at the door; it was Count Benckendorff, who had hurried along to tell the Empress that he still hoped better things for Anna.

This was only a temporary respite. A little later we heard the sound of an automobile in the courtyard. I looked down, and saw two automobiles drawn up in front of the Imperial entrance to the Palace. Another knock! This time it was a servant who announced:

"The new Commandant wishes to speak to Madame Dehn."

I went out; Korovitchenko, a fair-haired, common-looking man with a hard mouth, was standing at the end of the corridor.

"Madame Dehn? " he enquired brusquely.

"Yes... I am Madame Dehn."

"Well... get ready. Take as little as possible with you; you are going with Kerensky to Petrograd."

I nearly fainted, but I managed to run back to "Orchie's room." In a few hurried words I acquainted the Empress with Korovitchenko's orders... I could not look at any of them. I tried to be calm, but at the sound of Tatiana's uncontrollable sobbing I broke down and wept in the arms of the Empress.

"Eh bien..." she said, releasing me gently from her embrace, "il n'y rien a faire."

"Is Madame Dehn ready?" shouted someone outside.

The Empress called Zanoty (one of her dressers) and told her to put some things together in a suit-case. She did not speak to me - or I to her - our hearts were too full. It was like some terrible nightmare. At length I managed to go into Anastasie's room... She was in bed. I kissed her many times, and told her that I would never forsake them. Poor Marie lay asleep in her darkened room.... I kissed her flushed cheek, blessed her, - and went out quietly. There was no time to say good-bye to the Tsarevitch.

Zanoty had packed my suit-case, and the Empress now sent her to fetch a sacred medal, which she hung round my neck, blessing me as she did so, At the last moment Tatiana ran out of the room, and returned with a little leather case containing portraits of the Emperor and the Empress, which had stood on her especial table ever since she was a tiny child.

"Lili" she cried, "if Kerensky is going, to take you away from us, you shall at least have Papa and Mamma to console you."

Another imperative summons told us that the moment of parting was at hand. I put on my hat, and we left "Orchie's room"; the Emperor and the Empress walked on either side of me, and the Grand Duchesses Olga and Tatiana followed us. I had never imagined in the "happy" days that it would ever be my lot to traverse this corridor with a breaking heart, or under such conditions, For ten years I had received nothing but affection from the Imperial Family. I had watched the children grow up, I had been their playmate and their friend - now I had to leave them in hostile and menacing surroundings.

Russia had already deprived them of their Imperial state, their possessions and their liberty: surely she might not have deprived them of their friends!

We walked slowly towards the head of the great staircase... the moment for saying farewell had arrived... I tried to be brave... the silence was unbroken save by Tatiana's stifled sobbing. Olga and the Empress were quite calm, but Tatiana, who has been described by most contemporary historians as proud and reserved, made no secret of her grief.

Two soldiers were waiting on the staircase - the little group of the Imperial Family stopped, and surrounded me... then all pretence of self-control vanished. We clung together, but our unavailing tears made no impression on hearts harder than the marble staircase on which we stood.

"Come... Madame" said one of the soldiers, seizing me by the arm.

I turned to the Empress. With a tremendous effort of will, she forced herself to smile reassuringly; then, in a voice whose every accent bespoke intense love and deep religious conviction, she said: "Lili, by suffering we are purified for Heaven. This goodbye matters little-we shall meet in another world."

The soldiers hurried me down the staircase, but I stopped half-way, and looked back. The Imperial Family was still where I had left them; with a rough gesture, my guards motioned me to descend. I could see my beloved Empress no longer.

I walked to the door of the second entrance where some officers and soldiers stood, laughing and talking. Two automobiles were waiting outside. It was bitterly cold, and a bleak wind howled round the Palace, and drove the snow in stinging dust against my face as I sat in the open automobile waiting for Anna. At last she appeared; she looked ghastly, and her eyes were swollen with crying. Two officers sat facing us, and a third took his place beside the chauffeur. In this manner we saw the last of Tsarkoe Selo but I had left my heart behind.

We proceeded rapidly towards the private station, where the automobile stopped. I walked quickly inside. I held myself erect... I would not let our enemies think that I knew the meaning of the word FEAR. As I passed, some of the soldiers sneered... "See how haughty she is," they remarked; but I took no notice.

The Imperial train was waiting, and the thought flashed across my mind that the Revolutionaries were surely most inconsistent people, since Kerensky & Co. did not scruple to avail themselves of the luxuries appertaining to Imperial state. Anna and I made our way to the drawing-room compartment, where we seated ourselves - I say "ourselves," but, in reality, Anna was lying half fainting on a chair. I could just see the Palace through the window of the saloon, and I looked at nothing else until the train moved out of the station, and, even then, my straining eyes sought the familiar building which held so much that was dear to me.

Suddenly I became aware that someone was shouting, and thumping on the floor with a stick. I withdrew from the window to see what was the matter, and I encountered the angry gaze of Kerensky.

"Look here... you'd better listen when I'm talking to you," he raged.

I simply looked at him. Nobody had ever addressed me in such a manner! I am a tall woman; perhaps my height (I towered above him) and my unspoken contempt made him think better of continuing in this strain.

"I merely wanted to tell you that I am taking you to the prison of the Palais de justice," said Kerensky. "From there you will be transferred (with deep meaning) somewhere else, and that will be the actual place of your imprisonment."

I still looked through him, and he beat a retreat into his own compartment. Ten minutes later we were at Petrograd!

The A.D.C.'s made Anna go first; I followed and as we walked down the train we passed through the saloon where Kerensky and another man were stretched out comfortably in the Emperor's easy chairs! When Kerensky saw me he sat up, and looked me up and down with a kind of half-fierce curiosity. I returned his appraising glance with one of disdain... the next moment Anna and I were told to get into a closed carriage (another relic of Imperialism), and we drove away in the company of the A.D.C.'s - mere boys - who were evidently keenly interested in us both.

I was horrified at the change which the Revolution had wrought in Petrograd. Its quiet, wellbred look had completely disappeared, it wore the aspect of a person just recovering from a drunken bout. Red flags were everywhere, and crowds of unrestful people were waiting in long queues outside the bakers' shops. This sight roused Anna from her lethargy of grief, and, childish as ever, she remarked, quite happily, "Well, Lili, it's no better after the Revolution than it was before." I silenced her further criticisms with a glance at the A.D.C.'s, and I felt quite relieved when our carriage sank first in one, and then in another of the dirty heaps of snow which cumbered the streets, and which had not been removed by the road sweepers. No policemen were visible; law and order had ceased to exist, but groups of odd-looking people hung about at the corners of the streets. These loungers were unmistakably Jews. The Ghetto-like appearance of Petrograd was amply accounted for.

The carriage stopped outside the Palais de justice, and we were conducted down seemingly endless corridors to a room on the fourth floor. This room was empty, save for two easy chairs, a small chair and a table on which stood a carafe of cold water. The aides-de-camp told us to ask the sentinels for anything we wanted, and they were about to leave us alone when I said to one of them: "Will you try and let my servants know that I'm here?"

"Impossible," he answered, "but in your next prison you'll be allowed to see your friends once a week." The young men then went away, and Anna at once began to cry. I tried to console her, but I was completely worn out - my powers of endurance had snapped, since there was no one to be brave for!

The room was bitterly cold, and we huddled together, wondering what next would happen. Suddenly shots rang out in the corridor... were they harbingers of death? The firing was followed by coarse laughter, and a soldier ran into our room. "Ah... ha!... ha!!... he mocked) "were you afraid... did you think you were going to be killed? (General Knox was discussing certain matters with Kerensky at the moment when this shooting occurred, and he asked Kerensky what the shots signified. "Oh! it's only two friends of the Imperial Family who have just been brought here," answered Kerensky. I met General Knox after my escape to England, and when be related the incident I informed him that I was one of the "two frieads." - L. D.)

As I sat in the cheerless room, thinking over many things, I suddenly remembered that Anna had a great predilection for carrying letters and photographs about with hermy heart sanksupposing that she had done so now?

"Anna," I said, trying to speak lightly, "what papers have you brought away with you?" "Oh, lots, Lili," answered Anna. "I've some letters of the Empress, some letters from Gregory, and two photographs of him."

I suppose my expression must have betrayed me. Anna began to whimper... "Oh, Lili, why do you look so grave? Surely they won't treat us badly? What shall we do?"

"You must give me every paper in your possession."

She demurred. "But why, Lili?"

"Because it's dangerous to retain anything connected either with Her Majesty or with Rasputin. The worst construction is likely to be placed on the most innocent expressions... you cannot surely wish to injure the Empress! "

Anna instantly handed over the letters, but the difficulty arose as to how best to destroy them. To burn them was impossible, as we had no stove; I therefore decided to tear the letters up in minute pieces, and throw them down the lavatory which we were permitted to use. In this way, I destroyed what might have been considered "compromising" documents!

After what seemed an interminable time, steps sounded in the corridor, the door was flung open, and Kerensky entered. He deliberately turned his back on Anna, but he surveyed me with the same appraising yet hostile scrutiny. We looked at each other without speaking... At last, he shrugged his shoulders, and remarked to an officer:

"This place is damnably cold. Have the stove seen to immediately."

He left us without another word, and we heard him speaking at some length outside. The sentinels were then changed, and the soldier who was on duty in our room began to talk to me.

"Well, Mademoiselle," he said, "it's ten thousand pities to see you here... you do look sad. Whatever have you done?


"It's horrible... they've no right to arrest young ladies like you."

"Perhaps the new regulations are responsible for our arrest."

"The new regulations!" The man laughed loudly. "That's a good idea... I don't think they'll bring much luck. How can we get on without an Emperor? Don't imagine that we wanted this. Do you think we joined willingly? Why, they had to use force to get us... we were unarmed, it was no good attempting to resist them. "

This kindly soul came from South Russia, and, when I told him who I was and where my estates were situated, he was ready to do anything for me.

"I'm on duty again to-morrow," he said, so try and write a letter, and I'll see that it's delivered."

Night fell, and we were faint with hunger and fatigue. A little soup was brought us, but we could not swallow it. Every few minutes the door opened, and soldiers came in and made fun of us.

"We've two pretty girls now to look at," they mocked, but their laughter was better than their coarse jokes... some of these made me grow scarlet with shame, and I trembled lest their coarseness might become something unspeakable. We wanted to wash... but washing was impossible-we had neither jug nor basin the only water available was that in the carafe.

I opened my suit-case, and as Zanoty had put some cotton-wool and lint with my things I quickly made a pad of some of the wool, and, pouring a little water into the glass, I damped the pad and mopped my face, drying it afterwards with some more cotton wool. At 1 a.m. we were surprised to see the two A.D.C.'s come in with some soldiers. One of the A.D.C.'s addressed Anna.

"Madame... we have orders to remove you."

Anna caught hold of my hand. " Oh, Lili, Lili," she moaned, "don't let them take me away. Can't you come with me?... I daren't go to another prison without you."

"Cannot you let me accompany Madame Virouboff?" I said.

"The order is for Madame Virouboff," replied the A.D.C. and at this moment an officer entered.

"What's all the fuss about?" he demanded. The A.D.C. explained. "What... is Madame Virouboff really here?" cried the officer. "Well, I've always wanted to have a look at her... which one is it?" The A.D.C. indicated Anna, who was gazing from one to the other with frightened eyes.

"Get up," ordered the officer.

Anna meekly obeyed; as she did so, her crutch was visible.

"But... what's wrong?" asked the officer, now evidently greatly astonished. "I'm a cripple," faltered Anna.

"Good God," exclaimed the officer. He was silent, but he examined Anna much in the same way that a naturalist surveys a prehistoric beast. He could not reconcile the Anna of reality with the Anna of fiction. In common with many people, not only in Russia, but all the world over, he bad imagined a totally different Anna Virouboff. Perhaps he had visualised her as an adventuress of melodrama, a passionate intrigante, a subtle schemer, the masterful confidante of a weak Empress!

What did he actually see?

Rasputin's reputed sorciere-en-chef stood before him, a little trembling creature, with the prettiness and the plaintive voice of a child. The officer could not believe his eyes.

"Do you mean to tell me that you are a cripple?" he stammered.

"I've always used a crutch since my railway accident," she said, helplessly, " I couldn't avoid being in an accident, could I?"

"Extraordinary, extraordinary," muttered the officer - he was still looking at her - "now, come along." But Anna threw herself on my neck, and refused to leave me. Her sobs were heartbreaking. To do them justice, the soldiers handled this butterfly broken on the wheel very gently. A group of journalists, male and female, all equally unkempt, were busy taking notes, and they glanced half-scornfully and half-pityingly at the shrinking figure of Anna Virouboff as she disappeared in the darkness.

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