Chapter Eighteen - The Sovereigns Leave Tobolsk
On April 22 (old style) the new commisar Yakovlev arrived along with his personal guard: foot soldiers, seventeen horsemen and a personal telegrapher. The moment he arrived he inspected the soldiers and then visited the Imperial Family's rooms. He was very polite to the Emperor and Empress.
After he left I went to the Empress asking Her Majesty who he was. The Empress told me his name. I asked Her Majesty if he was a cultured man. The Empress told me that he seemed more a man of reading than learning, but in any event, very polite.
Yakovlev did not interfere in the Imperial Family's private life. He stayed only with the soldiers, announced a pay raise for them and said that he was going to give them advances on their newly raised pay.
The servants who had stayed in service, on the other hand, received letters informing them that they were being evicted from their rooms. I went to the officer on duty in the guardroom and asked for an appointment to see Yakovlev, as I was asked by all my colleagues to speak to him. The officer on duty could not find him in his room, but half an hour later found him outside in the street, and I was asked to return to the guardroom to join them. After the usual greetings, I expressed the desires of those people in service to Yakovlev; to prevent their families from being evicted from the rooms they lived in. Yakovlev did not at first agree to the requests, but then promised to make all the arrangements. Not immediately, rather he would come back in three days. Then he questioned me aobut our life in Tobolsk.
Then, three days later, he and Koblinski came back, and told me to tell the Emperor that he wanted to see him. He added "Tell him that I want to speak with him alone, in a separate room."
I went to the Emperor, who was then with the Empress in the room. She asked me why Yakovlev wanted to see the Emperor alone. I said that I knew nothing about it, and that I was just conveying the specific message from him to the Emperor. The Emperor asked me to have Yakovlev come in. Yakovlev went in and the Empress spoke to him, asking:
"Why do you wish to speak to the Emperor alone? I will not leave the Emperor alone."
Yakovlev would not speak in the presence of the Empress at first, but after a while, finally gave up. So, the Empress stayed for the meeting.
Yakovlev told the Emperor that he had to be ready to leave that same night, at four o'clock.
The Emperor asked "But, where are you taking me?"
Yakovlev answered that it was a secret.
"In that case, I am not going." the Emperor replied.
"If you do not go voluntarily," Yakovlev said, "then I will be forced to either take steps to coerce you, or to resign my position. I suggest you think about it, as you will lose in either case."
"Am I to go alone?" the Emperor then asked.
"Yes, you alone. No one else."
The Emperor consulted the Empress.
The Empress said to Yakovlev "I am not leaving him. At no time will the Emperor leave alone without me."
Grand Duchess Maria Nicholaievna expressed the same desire that she not be separated from her father.
So, Yakovlev was forced to give in to the wishes of the Empress and Grand Duchess to accompany the Emperor. He also agreed that Dr. Botkin, Prince Dologourki, Tchemodorov the Emperor's footman, Demidova the chambermaid and young Sednev the footman could also all go with the Emperor.
After that meeting with the Emperor, Yakovlev went to see the Tsarevich twice, as he was then confined to his bed, suffering badly from his hemophilia. He went to the patient both times accompanied by Dr. Derevenko. Yakovlev sent and received telegrams after both of these visits. After these telegrams, Yakovlev went to the Empress to tell her that she was required to leave.
The news of this abrupt departure plunged the Empress into a deep and painful sadness. She was leaving her adored son, who was dangerously ill, behind to accompany her husband.
At four o'clock in the morning of April 13/26 a simple cart drawn by two horses came up along with several other carts, even cruder and drawn by only one horse. The Empress and Maria Nicholaievna went into the first cart, where we had already put pillows and a carpet to cover the straw. The Empress wanted the Emperor to go with her in her cart, but he was already in another one. I expressed her wish to the Emperor, but Yakovlev, already seated next to the Emperor, would not allow it, saying "We are already comfortable here."
The Emperor was only lightly dressed despite the cold.
"What, are you going dressed like that?" Yakovlev asked him.
"Yes, I am warm," the Emperor replied.
"It is impossible" Yakovlev said. With that he jumped down from the cart, ran into the house and grabbed an overcoat from the hall and put it in the cart.
"If you don't need it now, you will need it during the journey" he said.
The Emperor said goodbye to me, we hugged and he said "Soon, I hope."
The Empress gave me her hand, which I kissed, and said to me "Keep a good watch on Alexei."
Then they left.
The sadness like a death hung over the house. Before, there had been a certain liveliness. After the Imperial couple left, silence and desolation descended on us.
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