Chapter Five - The Second Marriage of Grand Duke Paul
A short time after we returned from Moscow, Grand Duke Paul became acquainted with Madame O.V. Pistolkors, née Karnovich. This was to be of considerable consequences for him. Mme. Pistolkors' husband had been a comrade in the Grand Duke's Regiment. The first meeting between them was in the Regiment, if I am not mistaken, at a dinner which Pistolkors gave in the Grand Duke's honor. A novel took shape almost immediately between the Grand Duke and his future wife. I was not really on top of things for some time, up until the time for our usual departure abroad. The Grand Duke travelled in his train car, while Mme. Pistolkors had a first class compartment of her own. That trip brought them very close together. Once they returned to Petersburg, they saw each other far more often.
The following year the Grand Duke went to the Midi in France, with his children and their governess, Miss Djunkovski, and Dr. Ostrogorski, to take a long cure at the baths there. Mme. Pistolkors went there too, and settled in the neighborhood. The situation was delicate, and the Grand Duke began to feel ill. He finally became sick. A nervous malady required that he go to Berlin to be examined. Mme. Pistolkors went with him and looked after him there with much devotion. We went to Berlin, to the sanitorium of the leading medical expert, who treated the Grand Duke with special baths. The Grand Duke also went to Berlin for dressings. His health improved noticeably, and we went back to Petersburg, where I had a new job as the Grand Duke's Officer of health. The Berlin doctor had taught me, in five lessons, how to apply the dressings which he had given the Grand Duke.
The next two trips abroad were with the goal of bringing about the reality of the Grand Duke's decision to enter a morganatic marriage with Mme. Pistolkors. We stayed for a while in Paris and Berlin, and finally made a tour if Italy, accompanied by the Grand Duke's two aide-de-camps, Likhatchev and Efimovich. Likhatchev had the mission to find an Orthodox Priest abroad who would agree to marry the Grand Duke and Mme. Pistolkors. His search, though, was unsuccessful, and we returned in the lurch to Petersburg.
The Grand Duke was suffering alot, and fell sick again. Mme. Pistolkors once again cared for him with much devotion until all improved.
We left again for Berlin, and then on to Italy while the aide-de-camp Likhatchev energetically continued his search for an Orthodox Priest who would consent to the morganatic marriage of the Grand Duke and Mme. Pistolkors. He finally found one, a Greek priest who, for a tidy sum, consented to marry them.
That same day, Likhatchev asked me on behalf of the Grand Duke to sign a certificate which established the following facts: the status of widower of Grand Duke Paul and the divorce of Mme. Pistolkors. I tried in vain to decline the request, as it created the possibility of incurring the displeasure of the Emperor, Nicholas II. Likhatchev, though, kept repeating that he would bear all responsibility. I had to give in. Aside from the three of us, Efimovich, Likhatchev and me, the act was even signed by a fourth person. Two days later, the Grand Duke came to find me in my room and said: "I am alone here, abroad, and I have neither parents or close relations. So, Volkov, give me your blessings for my marriage." I gave my blessing to the Grand Duke. We cried, both of us, and hugged warmly.
The wedding of Grand Duke Paul took place in Verona. I did not attend. After the wedding, the princely couple returned to Florence.
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