Chapter Six- In Service to The Emperor
After his marriage, the Grand Duke stayed in Italy until the very end of autumn. We arrived in Paris in November. Several days before December 6, which was the name-Saint's day of Emperor Nicholas II, the Grand Duke told me to prepare his General Aide-de-Camp's uniform, adding that he was going to attend the services in the Russian Church. I got everything prepared. The day before, December 5, the Grand Duke received a folder from the Russian Embassy, which was to be returned to them "by his own hand". The Grand Duke told no one what was in the folder.
The next day, Efimovich ran up to me, asking if the Grand Duke was going to the Church. I responded in the affirmative. Several moments later, Efimovich asked me the same thing a second time. As the time for the divine service neared, I decided to go ask the Grand Duke myself. At my question of whether he was going to put on the uniform which I had prepared, the Grand Duke answered bitterly that he no longer had the uniform.
So it was that we learned that the Minister of the Imperial Court had informed the Russian Ambassador in Paris to communicate to the Grand Duke that he had been "deprived of all of his qualifications, including all of his military qualifications." Several days later, a second letter arrived, bringing another painful blow to the Grand Duke. He was informed that he was no longer the Chief of the Regiment, and that his house was to be broken up. The Grand Duke then tried an extraordinary appeal and addressed a letter to Grand Duke Vladimir Alexandrovich asking him to intervene, in his position as older brother, specifically asking that above all he be left with his position of Chief of the Regiment, by reason that that qualification had been accorded him by his deceased father and not by Emperor Nicholas II. The response did not keep us waiting long. Grand Duke Vladimir's telegram said, in effect: "You contracted your marriage without consulting your older brother. God himself shall be your Judge." After reading the telegram, Grand Duke Paul understood that, for the time being at least, his cause was lost, so he decided to return to Italy. We went back to Florence and began looking for a convenient residence. It was luckily found; the villa of Count Buturline, in Florence itself.
However, it was not going to be for very long, four weeks at most. The Grand Duke kept on telling me that I deserved a rest, but I was not paying any attention to him. One day in Florence, he told me that he was giving me a leave of absence, and that as a result, I could leave without delay for Russia in just two or three day's time. To my question of "when should I return?", the Grand Duke answered evasively that he would inform me later as to my return. The only ones left with the Grand Duke were Efimovich and Likatchev.
I returned to Petersburg. I waited for a letter from Grand Duke Paul which never came. One day I was called by the Steward of his Palace, General Filosofov. He announced tht the Grand Duke's house was being liquidated and that I was no longer a part of it. I was being given a discharge pension of 25 rubles a month, and rooms in Alexievskaia Street. About Filosofov, I remember this anecdote which describes him well and, is something that Grand Duke Paul has never forgiven him for.
It took place while Grand Duchess Alexandra Georgievna was still alive. She brought her husband to the window of the Palace one day, and they watched the public passing by on the Neva Quay. Filosofov stood next the Grand Ducal couple. All of a sudden, the Grand Duchess saw a woman passing by who carried a delightful little dog in her arms. "Oh, what a little jewel!" cried the Grand Duchess, "I would like to have one just like it." Without a word, Filosofov disappeared at once, and came back several minutes later triumphantly carrying the little dog in his arms. Filosofov had simply sent one of the Swiss guardsmen out, ordering him to find the woman and take the dog from her arms! Once the guard had carried out his orders, Filosofov took the little dog up to the Grand Duchess. You can only imagine the unpleasant surprise of the Grand Ducal couple and Filosofov's utter astonishment when he himself was ordered to go back out into the street and return the little dog to its owner.
In the meanwhile, my personal affairs were getting worse and worse. Painfully, I had just been installed in Alexeivskaia Street when the manager of the Grand Duke's possessions, Col. Dolinski, asked me to move out of the lodgings I now occupied as they were also being handed over to the new owner who had bought the Grand Duke's house. As compensation, he offered to find me another apartment also in a grace and favor building, where I could "relocate", so to speak, yet again. In the meantime, I was obliged to rent lodgings and wait for a favorable opportunity for me to discreetly remind him about this right of mine. This occassion was presented most unexpectedly to me. Grand Duke Serge Alexandrovich came to Petersburg to see his brother Paul's children. He had me called to the palace, and asked me what I had been doing. I could not, obviously, say anything comforting. Grand Duke Serge promised to bring me back to the Court at the first possible opportunity. He took advantage, in effect, of the ceremonies that were to take place in honor of the sanctification of the relics of Saint Seraphim of Serov. He mentioned me to Emperor Nicholas II, who was very surprised to learn that I was unemployed, and who equally expressed his displeasure at that news to the person who had told him. Immediately, the resolution was made to bring me back into service in the Court. After the required statutory negotiations with the Marshall in Chief of the Court, Count Benkendorff, and his adjutant, Anitchkov, I was named to the Court.
From that moment on, my place stayed comfortably tied to the Imperial Court.
I mention here, in passing, that much later, Grand Duke Paul made a tentative request that I go back to his service; this was after the amnesty granted to him when the Grand Duke received permission to re-enter Russia to attend the funeral of his brother Grand Duke Serge, after his assassination in Moscow by revolutionaries on February 4, 1905. The offer to return to service with Grand Duke Paul was made to me by the same steward of the Grand Duke, Dolinski. I believed that it was my duty to refer the matter to Count Benkendorff, before giving my answer. The Count expressed his astonishment at my hesitation, and referred the matter to the Emperor. The Emperor asked me what displeased me about my employment. I answered that I was most happy with my employment and that if I thought of any possible return to Grand Duke Paul's house that it would not be made under any influence of any "memories of the past."
The Emperor suggested that I should think well before deciding, adding that he would be pained at my leaving. I sensed an undercurrent of dissatisfaction in his words. I thought about it, and stayed in the Court, but this did not change at all my continued good relationship with Grand Duke Paul.
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