Part One - Old Russia Alexander Palace Time Machine
Royalty Discussion Forum
Part Two - Revolution Chapter VI

The long days passed in their monotonous progress. I no longer seemed to belong to the outside world. I heard nothing, nobody came near me-I was as one dead. But, if my days were monotonous, my nights were full of horror. When darkness fell, and the authorities relaxed their incessant watchfulness, the soldiers became brutish - when I say that I dared not fall asleep, some idea may be gathered of my dread! I had never met the eyes of lust until now... but it was impossible not to understand the glances of many of the soldiers. And I was not under any false illusions about the morality of freedom, it might surely be called the Freedom of Immorality! I thought of my husband far away in England, of my child lying ill within a short distance of my prison, and of that dear family for whose sakes I would gladly suffer untold misery. Memory opened her book, and I saw within its pages people and scenes which stirred many bitter-sweet recollections in my heart. Once again I walked under the linden trees at Revovka, and listened to the nightingales. I saw the forgotten grave with the wild rose weeping her petal-tears over la morte amoureuse; once again I stood in the Winter Garden waiting to see the Empress, sometimes I played with Titi and the Grand Duchesses and heard the Empress's kind voice. The pale face and hypnotic eyes of Rasputin recalled my pilgrimage... The church towers and houses of Tobolsk rose against the evening sky, the dark and sinister river flowed past me...

Memory turned back more pages of her wonderful book, and I saw the Tsarkoe Selo of yesterday, the sick children, their fragile mother, and the Emperor, to whom Destiny had proved so cruel.

I endeavoured to preserve a calm mental outlook, it was useless... I wondered whether escape might be possible, but my room was situated on the fourth floor, I dared not risk the descent from the window. One idea. obsessed me. I must see Kerensky, and this idea grew more intense when I heard that I was shortly to be removed to another prison. " They are making enquiries about you," said the A.D.C.

Well, I want you to do something, and inform the Minister Kerensky that I would like to see him."

The A.D.C. was evidently startled by my request.

"Hm... I'll do my best, but -" his gesture was significant of the hopelessness of such a request.

Upon his return, the A.D.C. said tersely:

"I've seen about your affair, but Kerensky sleeps; he has just dined."

 

"Will you ask him to see me when he awakes?

"Yes." Again the significant gesture.

I waited impatiently. I felt that this interview with Kerensky would prove the critical point in my present desperate situation. I paced up and down the room, and my nervous agitation aroused the pity of one of the soldiers, who remarked kindly:

"Poor young lady! You do seem worried!"

Three hours passed... They seemed like centuries, and then the A.D.C. entered.

"The Minister will receive you," he said.

I hastily arranged my sadly crumpled Red Cross uniform, and two soldiers with fixed bayonets stationed themselves on either side of me. The A.D.C. led the way down endless stairs and lengthy corridors. At last we halted before a half-open door, and, as I stood there, I smelt the delicate fragrance of roses. Surely no roses grew in this terrible prison soil? But the perfume was unmistakable, and I was not left long to wonder from whence it proceeded.

I was ushered into a large, well-furnished reception room, formerly occupied by some Minister under the Empire, and on a table stood an enormous basket of blood-red roses. On another table was a basket of scarlet carnations, the warm air was heavy with the mingled odours of roses and clove pinks. So the Ministers of the Revolution were able to indulge their taste for roses in March, whilst the Sons of Freedom clamoured in the snow for bread!

The door at the extreme end of the room was ajar; presently it opened, and Kerensky came in. He glanced at me, walked to the writing-table, where he seated himself, and indicated a place for me.

KERENSKY: "Well, what do you want. You asked to see me?"

MYSELF: "I want to ask you why I am under arrest, I have never meddled in politics, they are the last things that interest me. I can't regard myself as a political prisoner."

KERENSKY (taking a roll of paper off the desk, and perusing it): "Listen... Firstly, you are accused of staying voluntarily with Their Majesties when you had no official position at Court. Can you deny this?"

MYSELF: "Certainly not, I have no wish to do so. I stayed with Their Majesties, as I could not possibly desert them at such a moment. I love the Imperial Family as individuals. Surely this cannot constitute a crime in your eyes."

KERENSKY: "Well... let it pass... What is this close friendship between you and the Empress? "

MYSELF: "I am honoured with the friendship of the Empress. She knows my husband, she has been so good to us that we cannot be devoted enough to her." KERENSKY (impatiently): "Enough of the Empress. What do you want?"

MYSELF: "What I ask is not freedom, but imprisonment in my own house. My child is ill, I want to be with him."

KERENSKY (laughing satirically) You didn't consider your child when you left him alone in Petrograd in order to remain with your beloved Empress."

MYSELF (angrily) I know best why I left him. You call yourself a patriot... I suppose you put the love of your country before family ties? I love the Imperial Family, they come before my family ties. You've taken me away from them - I haven't gone willingly. Why deprive me of my child?

KERENSKY (with sinister emphasis): "Listen, Madame Dehn, you know too much. You have been constantly with the Empress since the beginning of the Revolution. You can, if you choose, throw quite another light on certain happenings which we have represented in a different aspect. You're DANGEROUS."

A long silence.

KERENSKY: "Can you explain why all orders from the Empress passed through you? You had no official position... it's a most suspicious occurence."

MYSELF: "We were practically isolated in the private apartments through fear of contagion. Besides, what orders could the Empress give without their being known to you? "

KERENSKY: "The servants are witnesses that all orders came through you. Enquiries will reveal the truth... if you are honest... well and good. If not... that's another matter."

I looked at him. Kerensky seemed absolutely implacable, but I decided to make one last appeal. He apparently loved flowers; this proved that, as his senses could be appealed to, why not his heart?

"If you had a child of your own, you'd understand my feelings," I said.

Kerensky surveyed me with that now familiar appraising scrutiny. "I don't think much of you as a mother," he replied, smiling coldly," but how old is your child? "He is seven."

"Well, Madame, it so happens that I have a child, and he, too, is seven. I can decide nothing, but I am now going to a Council at which Prince Lvoff will be present. He must decide."

I looked him straight in the eyes. This time he met my gaze fully and squarely.

"I'm perfectly certain that you can do anything you like, without consulting anyone," I said. This tribute to his vanity appealed at once to Kerensky. With most men vanity is the most powerful factor. Wound a man's vanity and he will never forgive you; pander to it, and he is your friend for life. Kerensky was no exception: I had discovered the heel of this Russian Achilles.

"You are quite right. Of course I can do what I like. Go back to your room - I'll send you my answer later in the evening."' He pressed an electric bell on his table, The A.D.C. entered.

"Has Madame Dehn a bed in her room?" asked Kerensky. "If not, see that one is placed there. "

"Oh, I don't want a bed," I interrupted. Please let me go to my child."

"I've already told you," said Kerensky, "that I'll let you know later. But... if I allow you to go home, you must give me your written promise not to act in any way against us."

The A.D.C. made a sign to the soldiers, Kerensky took no further notice of me, and I was hurried out of the warm flower-scented apartment into the icy corridor.

Black despair overcame me when I regained my room. Kerensky had been noncommittal; but I had hopes that my allusion to him as omnipotent might have some favourable effect; so I sat in the corner nearest the door, straining my ears to catch the sound of approaching footsteps.

Shortly after midnight my friend the A.D.C. made his appearance, and, with a theatrical gesture, indicative of boundless space, he advanced, saying:

"The Minister grants you permission to go home."

My feelings are better imagined than described. I sprang up, and made the Sign of the Cross, and my hand sought the beloved medal hidden in my dress. So I was really free! I could hardly believe it, surely I could not have heard aright!

The A.D.C. told me to put on my hat and cloak and follow him... Before I did so he asked me to sign a paper agreeing not to leave Petrograd, and to hold myself in readiness to be interrogated. I did so; then, picking up my suit-case, I went downstairs.

He left me in the hall. I had now apparently lost all interest for him, as he did not trouble to bid me farewell... He merely pointed out the door, and disappeared. I looked round, hardly daring to move. I was not able to realize that I was free to go when, and where, I chose. I pushed open the heavy door, and found myself in the cold and darkness outside. Not a single fiacre was in sight; I felt too exhausted to move, but I made a supreme effort to walk... Impossible! My feet slipped in all directions in the melted snow and slush of the road. Suddenly I noticed a man who was regarding me with evident curiosity... My heart sank. What if this scrutiny meant that I was about to be rearrested? The man made his way to where I was standing.

"Are you Madame Dehn?" he enquired civilly.

"I am."

"I thought I recognised you, Madame. I've been at your house several times. I was formerly Madame Kazarinoff's footman. Poor, poor Madame, who would have believed this could happen to you. Let me help you. I know where I can find a flacre."

He presently returned with a fiacre, and assisted me to get in with all the courtesy and deference of a well-trained servant. I thanked him many times... He gave the direction to the driver, and we drove away.

It was one in the morning before I arrived home. I rang the bell, and after some delay the door was opened by my maid... who nearly fainted when she saw me... I couldn't speak. My thoughts were concentrated on Titi... I ran past her upstairs to his room... It was empty 1 What had happened-could he be dead? I hurried across the landing to my bedroom... A light was burning... Someone was in bed... Thank God, I recognised the beloved dark head of my boy-he was safe. I fell on my knees beside him. With a little start, and a smile, which was like balm to my yearning heart, Titi awoke...

"Mother, mother..." He flung his arms round me. I covered his face with kisses. Where have you come from? " he enquired. "From prison."

The child began to cry. I realized the tactlessness of my reply. "If they ever take you away again I'll go too," he sobbed. " But where's 'Aunt Baby'? What has happened to her? And where is Papa? They say he's been killed." (I heard later that it was reported that my husband had been killed and his body thrown overboard.)

"Darling, darling, I can tell you nothing about Papa. I

Hearing the sound of voices, my father now came into the room. He was greatly relieved to know that I was safe, as all sorts of stories were current respecting my fate and that of Anna Virouboff . But my one thought was for my child: he was much better, but the room struck cold, and I asked my father how it was that there was no fire. He shrugged his shoulders. "Ma chere," he replied, "the answer is quite simple we have no wood!! The servants manage to steal a little to burn during the day, but at night c'est bien autre chose."

I undressed as quickly as possible, and got into bed. I held Titi close. I kissed him passionately. I trembled with mingled joy and fear!... No one should separate us. I knew nothing as to our ultimate fate, but I had made up my mind, during these first hours of freedom, to escape as soon as possible to my estates in South Russia, and, if the Imperial Family were removed from Tsarkoe, to join them.

It was a strange home-coming. The whole house was disorganised. The servants were still devoted to my interests, but food and fuel were difficult to obtain. I spent the morning of the next day lying on a couch in my dressing-room. I was really ill; the long strain had told, and Nature was now exacting her toll in the shape of occasional heart attacks. The hours passed peacefully and slowly, but at ten o'clock in the evening the telephone rang, and my maid told me that the Commandant of the Equipage de la Garde wanted to speak to me.

I was surprised and vexed. After the way in which certain officers had treated the Imperial .Family, it was not agreeable for me to continue their acquaintance. However, I went to the 'phone.

"Madame Dehn," said a well-known voice, "have you actually come back from the Palace?" "Yes, I returned to Petrograd a few days ago."

"I heard that you had been placed under arrest. How is it then that you are at home?"

"Kerensky has given me permission to be with Titi. Cannot you, for my husband's sake, and as one of his brother-officers, come over and see me?"

"Impossible," answered the voice, "Look here, you can't stay where you are."

"Very well, since you order, I suppose I must obey. I'll try and find somewhere else, as soon as I am rested." "YOU Must go NOW." "I haven't anywhere to go, and the child is ill."

"Take him to an hotel. I won't be responsible for your safety, Lots of things may happen during the night... The sailors may come and murder you." The Commandant then rang off, and left me to face this new terror. But my mind was made up. I would not leave home at a moment's notice. If we had to die, we would die together. I was too exhausted, and the child was too ill, to contemplate a midnight flight.

I rang up my husband's nephew, who was in barracks, and he promised to keep me well advised; but fortunately the night passed peacefully. Nobody came near the house.

Weeks elapsed, and Kerensky seemed to have completely forgotten my existence. I led a quiet life, but my heart was torn with anxiety concerning my beloved friends. I received some letters from the Empress, and I wrote constantly to her, and to the Grand Duchesses. It was in connection with this correspondence that I was summoned to Tsarkoe Selo, by order of Commandant Kobilinsky.

I was instructed to leave Petrograd secretly, and to wear my Red Cross uniform. It was early in July, and the trees were bravely apparelled in their young verdure, It was very different to that bleak March afternoon when the snow lay thickly on the ground, and the wind had stung my face with its icy breath. Outwardly, at all events, everything was peaceful, but tears filled my eyes at the recollection of past Julys... Surely God would not permit the innocent to suffer; surely justice would awaken in the soul of misguided Russia, and all might yet be well.

As I approached the Palace I became sensible of an eerie change, both in it and in its immediate surroundings. I stopped to consider in what the change consisted. Then knowledge dawned upon me. Tsarkoe was a dead place. Its windows were almost hidden by the straggling branches of the unclipped trees, grass grew between the stones of its silent courtyard, and I instantly likened it to a famous Russian picture, " Le Chateau Oublie"... It was indeed a forgotten castle 1 1 walked to and fro gazing up at the windows, but those within the Palace gave no sign of life. I wanted to call aloud that I was there, but I dared not imperil their safety or my own. I considered even now that I held my life in trust for the service of the Empress... Who knew when she might require me?

Kobilinsky had taken up his quarters in the large building opposite the Palace, so I repaired thither. There were hardly any people visible, and I was directed to Kobilinsky's private room. He was a dark, shortish, nervous man, wearing military uniform, and, as the Empress had written that he was kind to them, I was naturally anxious to make a good impression. This interview is of some importance as I am enabled to contradict a part of Kobilinsky's deposition which appeared in a recent publication. In this deposition he queries the name of the writer of certain letters which came to Tsarkoe Selo, and attributes them to quite another person. The actual writer was myself, and the confusion respecting the signature arose from the fact that I had used a fanciful name composed of that of Titi and myself. There was not, and never has been, any "Mysterious Personage" as Kobilinsky's deposition leads one to suppose.

"Are you Madame Dehn?" asked Kobilinsky, eyeing me with some degree of curiosity. "Yes, Commandant!" "Are these from you?" he continued, handing me a packet of letters.

"Most certainly. They are all in my handwriting," I said.

"Then why on earth don't you sign your full name when you write?" he queried testily.

"Because I've never been in the habit of doing so. 'Tili' is a fanciful name, a combination of 'Lili' and 'Titi.'"

"I don't believe you," he said bluntly. "It is the name of another lady."

"Why don't you make enquiries if you doubt my word?" I returned. "You'll easily find out that I'm telling the truth."

"Well, well," he grumbled. "I suppose I must believe you. But, see here, Madame, you've got to promise me something. You must agree to destroy all the letters which the Empress has sent you. If you don't, I won't allow you to write or to receive any more letters. I suppose," he added, "that such a devoted friend as yourself has not come today without bringing some letters for the Family?" I acknowledged that such was the case. Kobilinsky smiled, and took the letters. He then signified that the interview was over.

Kobilinsky "passed" many letters to and from the Empress after this, but I was always haunted by the fear lest my precious correspondence might be stolen, or else forcibly destroyed. Fortune favoured me, and an opportunity occurred to send mv letters and certain private papers to England under the safe conduct of General Poole. These papers were ultimately deposited in a safe in London belonging to Prince George Shrinsky-Shihmatoff.

The Empress and the Grand Duchesses corresponded with me regularly after they left Tsarkoe, in fact up to a few weeks of their departure for Ekaterinburg. These letters were entrusted to confidential persons and smuggled by them out of the prison. Those who expect startling revelations of political importance will be sadly disappointed in these pathetic little leaves which have drifted from Friendship's tree across a passionracked country, and, like the song, have found their home" in the heart of a friend. But, for the student of psychology, the just man or woman, the curious seeker " behind the scenes " of Royalty, they will, I think, possess some interest. They will plead for a hearing far more effectively than any poor words of mine. Not one of them contains a sigh for the splendours of a throne. The woman who longed to be in the Crimea at a time of year when the acacias were like "perfumed clouds" made no allusion to the past glories of the Winter Palace, or the comfortable "English" life at Tsarkoe Selo. Perhaps the words of the writer who "being dead yet speaketh" may serve to efface some of the lies and scandals which have bespattered the name of an Empress who has been condemned so unmercifully.

The Empress and I have never met since that March afternoon when she bade me farewell. I cannot accept the almost overwhelming proofs of the tragedy of Ekaterinburg. From time to time reports of the safety of the Imperial Family have reached us, but the next moment we are faced with evidence that the whole of them have perished. God alone knows the truth, but I still permit myself to hope.

After my interview with Kobilinsky I returned to Petrograd, where I spent some uneventful weeks. Poor Anna was right when she said that things were no better after the Revolution than they were before! Existence was a difficult problem: a period of starvation set in, and we, like others, became familiar with the pangs of hunger. It was impossible to procure nourishing food for Titi; so, almost at my wits' end, I applied for permission to remove him to South Russia.

This permission was most unexpectedly granted. Two weeks later Kerensky's Government fell, and for the moment I was forgotten!

We lived very quietly at Beletskovka, and I was always planning the best way of escape to rejoin my beloved friends. "L'homme Propose, et Dieu dispose." A wave of Bolshevism swept over South Russia ' and our safety was menaced to such an extent that I was forced to escape with Titi to Odessa, and, as our adventures in no way touch on the subject of this book, I shall refrain from relating them. Suffice it to say that we managed to reach Odessa, and from thence, under the protection of the French, we went to Constantinople.

From Constantinople we made our way to Gibraltar, and from Gibraltar to England, where my husband was awaiting me after a three years' separation.

EXTRACT from THE LETTER OF 5 JUNE,1917
TSARKOE SELO.

Oh! how pleased I am that they have appointed a new Commander-in-Chief of the Baltic Fleet (Admiral Raswosoff). I hope to God it will be better now. He is a real sailor and I hope he will succeed in restoring order now. The heart of a soldier's daughter and wife is suffering terribly, in seeing what is going on. Cannot get accustomed and do not wish to. They were such hero soldiers, and how they were spoilt just at a time when it was necessary to start to get rid of the enemy (Germans). It will take many years to fight yet. You will understand how he (Tsar) must suffer. He reads, and tears stand in his eyes (newspapers), but I believe they will yet win (the War). We have so many friends in the fighting line. I can imagine how terribly they must suffer. Of course nobody can write. Yesterday we saw quite new people (new guard)-such a difference. It was at last quite a pleasure to see them. Am writing again what I ought not to, but this does not go by post, or you would not have received it. Of course, I have nothing of interest to write. To-day is a prayer at 12 o'clock. Anastasia is to-day 16 years old. How the time flies...

I am remembering the past. It is necessary to look more calmly on everything, What is to be done? Once He sent us such trials, evidently He thinks we are sufficiently prepared for it. It is a sort of examination-it is necessary to prove that we did not go through it in vain. One can find in everything something good and useful-whatever sufferings we go through-let it be, He will give us force and patience and will not leave us. He is merciful. It is only necessary to bow to His wish without murmur and await-there on the other side He is preparing to all who love Him undescribable joy. You are young and so are our children-how many I have besides my own-you will see better times yet here. I believe strongly the bad will pass and there will be dear and cloudless sky. But the thunder-storm has not passed yet and therefore it is stifling-but I know it will be better afterwards. One must have only a little patience-and is it really so difficult? For every day that passes quietly I thank God...

Three months have passed now (since Revolution)! I The people were promised that they would have more food and fuel, but all has become worse and more expensive. They have deceived everybody - I am so sorry for them. How many we have helped, but now it is all finished...

It is terrible to think about it! How many people depended on us. But now? But one does not speak about such things, but I am writing about it because I feel so sadly about those who will have it more difficult now to live. But it is God's will! My dear own, I must finish now. Am kissing you and Titi most tenderly. Christ be with you.

"Most hearty greetings" - (from the Czar).

Yours loving,
AUNT BABY.

30th July, 1917

TSARKOE SELO.
My DEAREST,

Heartiest thanks for letter of the 21St. Cannot write.he has no time to read ("he " -Colonel Kobilinsky, Revolutionary Commandant of the Palace), the poor man is so busy all the time that he is often without lunch and dinner. Am pleased have made his acquaintance. E. S. has seen you (" E. S. " - Doctor Botkin). I am so pleased that you know all about us.

Will remember your last year's trip. Do you remember? Have not been quite well lately-often had head and heartache. My heart was enlarged. Am sleeping very badly. But never mind-God gives me His strength. Have brought the ikon of Snameni (of God Mother). How thankful I am that this was possible, at this day dear to me (birthday of Tsarevitch). I prayed hard for you and remembered how we used to pray together before it. How Tina (Anna Virouboff) will now suffer - without anybody in the town and her sister in Finland and her friends going so far away (meaning herself) - how much people have to suffer - the path of life is so hard. Please write to A. W. (Colonel Siroboyarski-one of the wounded officers) and send him heartfelt greetings and blessings - kiss you most tenderly and the darling Titi (my son). God preserve you and the Holy Mother. Always yours,

AUNT BABY. Kindest regards (meaning the Czar). I remember - Faith, Hope, Love - that is all, all in life. You understand my feelings. Be brave. Thank you mostheartily. All touched by your little ikons - will just put it on. Ask Rita (Miss Hitrovo) to write to the mother of your countryman (Colonel Siroboyarski).

Added by Tsarevitch:

Kiss you most tenderly. Thanks for congratulations.
ALEXEI

Added by Grand Duchess Olga:

I also kiss you most tenderly and thank you Lili my heart, for post card, and little ikon. God preserve you,

OLGA.

Added by the Empress:

Thank you for your dear letters - we understand each other. It is hard to be separated, Greetings to R. Gor. I have learnt only now how you spent the first days (in prison). It is terrible, but God will reward. Am pleased that your husband has written.

29th November, 1917.

TOBOLSK.

My DEAREST,

I am for such a very, very long time without news Of YOU, and I feel sad, Have you received my post card of the 28th October?

Everybody is well - my heart is not up to much, fit at times, but on the whole it is better.

I live very quietly and seldom go out as it is too difficult to breathe in frozen air.

Lessons as usual. (News from Petrograd) "T" is as always. Zina has been to see her and 0. V., Who is very sad, she is always praying. Father Makari passed on on the 19th July.

Rumours have it that Gariainoff has married, but we do not know whether it is true. (Speaking of herself the Empress writes) Aunt Baby drew this herself. How is Titi? Granny - I want to know such, such a lot. How is Count Keller? Have you seen him in Kharkoff? The present events are so awful for words, shameful and almost funny, but God is merciful, darling. Soon we shall be thinking of those days you passed with us. My God, what remembrances!

Matresha has married, they are now all in P., but the brother is at the front.

I read a lot, embroider and draw (I have to do it all with my spectacles, am so old). I think of you often and always pray fervently for you and love you tenderly.

I kiss you very, very much.

May Christ protect you.

Your countryman is at Vladivostok and Nicholas Jakovlevitch (one of the wounded) is, I think, also in Siberia. I am so lonely without you all. Where is your husband and his friends? We are still expecting Ysa and the others.

I kiss Titi tenderly. Write, I am waiting so, Verveine (toilet water) always reminds me of you.

2/15 March, 1918

TOBOLSK

MY OWN DEAR DARLING,

Best and tender thanks for your dear letter. At last we have received good news from you; it was an anxious time not to hear for so long, knowing that things are bad where you are living. I can imagine though what terrible mental agony you must be going through, and you are alone. My little godchild (Titi) is with you always-what he must see and hear I It is a hard school. My God, how sorry I am for you my little giant one; you have always been so brave. I think of those days of a year ago. I shall never forget that you were everything to me and believe that God will not leave you or forsake you. You left your son for " Mother " (meaning herself) and her family, and great will your reward be for this.

Thank God that your husband is not with you, for it would have been terrible, but not to know anything about him is more than awful. "When I did not know for four days where mine was "then" (during the days of the Revolution), but what was that in comparison with you. But for us, in general, it is better and easier than for others it hurts not to be with all our dear ones and not to be able to share their troubles. Yes, separation is a dreadful thing, but God gives strength to bear even this, and I feel the Father's presence near me and a wonderful sense of peaceful joy thrills and fills my soul (Tina feels the same), and one cannot understand the reason for it, as everything is so unutterably sad, but this comes from Above and is beside ourselves, and one knows that He will not forsake His own, will strengthen and protect.

Have news at last, two received new from K.; poor thing, she has a new sorrow, has buried her beloved father her mother is with her. It is not easy for her to stay in town, though she has good friends and is not so cut off as you are, dearest. Be careful of certain of your friends - they are dangerous.

If you see dear Count Keller again, tell him that his ex-Chief (meaning herself) sends him her heartiest greeting (to her as well), and tell him that she prays constantly for him. I am anxious to know whether he has any news of his eldest son. Radionoff and his brother are in Kieff. I hear that Gariainoff and his wife have been in Gagra and are now-so they say-at Rostoff. Am anxious about them, all last week have been worrying over it, and do not know why.

To-day we have 20 degrees of frost, but the sun is warm and we have already had real spring days. Godmother (meaning herself) does all the housekeeping now, looks through books and accounts-a lot to do, quite a real housewife. Everybody is well-only a few colds, and feet ached, not very badly, but enough to keep from walking. They have all grown, Marie is now much thinner, the fourth is stout and small. Tatiana, helps everyone and everywhere, as usual; Olga is lazy, but they are all one in spirit. They kiss you tenderly(stands for the Emperor) sends his hearty greetings. They are already sunburnt, they work hard, sew and cut wood, or we should have none. The court is full of timber, so we shall have enough to last.

We still are not allowed to go to church. A. V.'s mother one of the Empress's wounded) is very sorry that you have not been to see her. She is living with some relatives of your mother's. Their estate has been taken away from them. The son has returned, he now looks, as they all do, pale and miserable.

They, poor things, can no longer keep M. S., and will probably be obliged soon to leave the house. She hardly ever gets a letter from her son; he too is complaining, so I copy what they write to me and send it on to them.

He is very upset not to hear from you, though he himself has written to you. He is going to Japan to learn English, he learnt more than goo words in ten days and of course overtired himself and has been feeling ill. He was operated upon in December, in Vladivostok. Rita writes that Nicholas Jakovlevitch (one of the wounded) is at Simferopol with his friend, the brother of little M. Their splendid (good) friend (Alexandre Dumbadze) has been killed there, we loved him very much, he was one of our wounded.

I only write what I dare, for in the present days one never knows in whose hands the letter might fall. We hope to do our devotions next week if we are allowed to do so. I am already looking forward to those beautiful services-such a longing to pray in church. I dream of our church (at Tsarkoe Selo) and of my little cell-like corner near the altar. Nature is beautiful, everything is shining and brilliantly lighted up. The children are singing next door. There are no lessons to-day as it is Friday of Carnival week.

I relive in mind, day by day, through the year that has passed and think of those I saw for the last time. Have been well all along, but for the past week my heart has been bad and I do not feel well, but this is nothing. We cannot complain, we have got everything, we live well, thanks to the touching kindness of the people, who in secret send us bread, fish, pies, etc.

Do not worry about us, darling, dearly beloved one. For you all it is hard and especially for our Country 1 1 1 This hurts more than anything else - and the heart is racked with pain - what has been done in one year I God has allowed it to happen - therefore it must be necessary so that they might understand, that eyes might be opened to lies and deceits.

I cannot read the newspapers quietly, those senseless telegrams - and with the German at the door!!!

K. and everyone else looks at "brother" as a saviour Great God, to what have they come to, to wait for the enemy to come and rid them from the infernal foe. And who is sent as the leader? Aunt Baby's brother (meaning herself). Do you understand. They wished to act nicely, probably thinking that it would be less painful and humiliating to herbut for her (meaning herself) it is far worse - such an unbearable pain - but everything generally hurts now - all one's feelings have been trampled underfoot - but so it has to be, the soul must grow and rise above all else; that which is most dear and tender in us has been wounded - is it not true? So we too have to understand through it all that God is greater than everything and that He wants to draw us, through our sufferings, closer to Him. Love Him more and better than one and all. But my country -my God- how I love it, with all the power of my being, and her sufferings give me actual physical pain.

And who makes her (Russia) suffer, who causes blood to flow?... her own sons. My God, what a ghastly horror it all is. And who is the enemy? This cruel German, and the worst thing for Aunt Baby is that he (the enemy) is taking away everything as in the time of Tsar Alexsei Michailovich (meaning that frontiers of Russia would become again as during the reign of A. M.). But I am convinced that it will not remain so, help will come from Above, people can no longer do anything, but with God all things are possible, and He will show His strength, wisdom and all forgiveness and love-only believe, wait and pray.

This letter will, in all probability, reach you on the day of our parting (one year ago), it seems so near and yet again as if centuries had passed since then.

It is seven months that we have been here. We see Ysa only through the windows, and Madeleine (the Empress's lady's-maid, Madeleine Zanotti) too. They have been here for three or four months today, I am told. I must give that letter at once.

I kiss you and Titi tenderly, Christ be with you, my dearest ones. Greeting to Mother and Grandmother. The children kiss and love you, and he (the Emperor) sends his very best wishes.

previous chapter next chapter

Bob Atchison's Guide to Bronze Patinas

Find out about what patinas are, how they are applied,  popular colors and finishes.

What is Responsive Web Design?

Learn tips and techniques for implementing responsive websites

Introduction by Bob Atchison

Home Page