Chapter Fourteen - The Emperor Under Arrest
On March 10/23 the Emperor arrived at Tsarskoe Selo, a week after Kornilov's first visit.
At ten o'clock in the morning some officers we did not know assembled in the Palace and just stood around without order in the vestibule. The officer of the guard had gone out was waiting at the entrance to the Palace. The Emperor's automobile came from the train station just several minutes later. The porte-cochere was closed and an officer of the guard in a loud voice ordered "Open the doors for the former Tsar!" The doors opened and the automobile entered and stopped in front of the Palace. The Emperor and Prince Dologoruki (aide-de-camp in the Emperor's suite) got out.
Several of the officers gathered in the vestibule did not salute the Tsar. It was he who saluted them first. Only after that did they return his salute.
The Emperor went to the Empress's rooms. Their meeting was not sad. They just so much wanted a smile of joy at being reunited. They kissed and went up to the children's rooms.
The Emperor came down soon and asked me to let him know when the Duke of Leuchtenberg, Narichkine and Mordvinov, who had accompanied him back from Stavka had arrived. I heard from Count Benckendorf that "they have not yet come, and are not coming at all." All three, straight from leaving the train had gone straight home. I reported Count Benckendorf's exact response to the Emperor.
"That God will pardon them" the Emperor said.
Until the Emperor arrived, the Palace was guarded by the Mobile Regiment of the Guard. After the Emperor came, the Mobile Guard was replaced by sharpshooters. These soldiers of the new guard killed two deer in the park on their first day. It may be, though, that they did so without bad intentions.
For quite some time no members of the government came to the Palace. Kerenski came first, carelessly dressed in some sort of pea coat. He was announced to the Emperor, who gave the order that he be invited to come to his rooms. Kerenski did not stay with the Emperor for very long. The Emperor presented him to the Empress.
The Palace servants waited for Kerenski until he was ready to leave. One of them went up to Kerenski and asked "Alexander Feodorovich, we address you by asking you to settle the question of lodgings. Some of us are in tiny rooms while others have far more spacious quarters."
"Good," Kerenski replied, "I will arrange things. Goodbye."
He left immediately afterward, and did not seem to be reassured, but rather seemed embarassed.
The Emperor appeared and said to me: "Do you know who that was?"
"Kerenski" I answered him.
"Do you know how he addressed me? Sometimes he said "Your Majesty" and sometimes he called me "Nicholas Alexandrovich" and the entire time he was nervous."
Letters and newspapers reached the Palace through Commander Kozebue with regularity.
Kerenski came fairly often.
During these visits he began to display more assurance than the first time, and the Emperor began to speak about him to me in a different manner.
When he arrived, the Emperor's automobile would be sent for him, adorned with flowers. The Imperial Chauffeur would drive him.
During the Emperor's entire stay at Tsarskoe Selo, Kerenski never got involved with life inside the Palace and conducted himself with reserve and correctness.
One day a plan came for the Imperial Family to go to Livadia, but it was not carried out. Another day, Kerenski told the Emperor that there was a possibility for the Imperial Family to go to England and asked the Emperor to be ready to go. This plan, though, also was never carried out.
Then the Bolsheviks arrived on the scene. They protested in a rather menacing way that the Imperial Family should be transferred to Peter and Paul Fortress. We all heard of this threat. Kerenski arrived unexpectedly. The Emperor received him. He did not stay with him for very long and asked to be recieved by the Empress. We heard that we were all going to be transferred to Peter and Paul Fortress. Some heard the raised voices of an angry conversation coming from the Empress's room. Our alarm, though, was not justified. The Empress told me in the suite that on that day Kerenski was pleasant, making jokes and laughing, and that all the noise about transfer to Peter and Paul was unfounded. Nevertheless, Kerenski asked the Tsar and Tsarina to remain, as much as possible, apart from each other, saying that the soviet of workers delegates and soldiers had insisted on this.
One day, somebody wearing a colonel's uniform came just to make sure that the Emperor was really still in the Palace and had not left. The visitor was allowed only into the corridor of the Palace where he could see the Emperor pass by at a distance. He was satisfied with this and left.
June 29 (old style) was the day Grand Duke Paul Alexandrovich's name Saint's day was celebrated. I was on leave, which I spent with my family, who were in Tsarskoe also. I asked Colonel Kobilinski for permission to go to Petrograd. He gave me permission. When I left the Imperial Family, Their Majesties asked me to give the Grand Duke their best wishes in their name.
I went to the Grand Duke and gave him the good wishes. Grand Duke Paul questioned me at length about the life of the Emperor and Empress. I myself asked the Grand Duke if there was any danger threatening the Imperial Family. Grand Duke Paul repeated to me the opinion of the Commandant of the Palace, Korovichenko (Kozebue's replacement), who he knew: "So long as the provisional governemnt stays in power their security is assured. But, if the government falls into the Bolsheviks' hands nothing can be certain."
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