Part 2 out of 4
and extending from the bottom to within four feet of the top as I
write these lines with the girls sitting a few steps below me in the
slowly hardening clay.... We can all hear plainly the tramping of feet
on the planking overhead.... It is a kind of shuffling one hears when
seated somewhere beneath the dancers in a ballroom, and it may mean
that we are headed directly toward the LION'S DEN."...
36. In this entry the Emperor speaks of Rasputin, spooks and Jews:
"It became dark and spooky when our lights gave out.... and while we
sat huddled together the subject of 'ghosts' came up.... 'Ghosts!' the
'prisoner' almost snarled; 'that reminds me of the Jewish propaganda
against my Government.... There was hardly a Yiddish banker in the
world who did not accuse ME personally of inspiring Sheglovitov to
have the Jews executed for _ritualistic murder_; and I am sure their
influence will be very strong with certain statesmen and opportunists
to have my Empire dismembered when the time comes to settle the terms
of peace, as poor Nilus predicted.... I wish I could show you a letter
I received from a Jewish banker in New York threatening to kill my
loan in America and have our existing treaties denounced unless I
complied with certain Jewish demands.... I did not think it possible
and ignored the letter, of course.... You may judge of my astonishment
when the Jew's threat was made good by the American Government
doing precisely what the threat implied.... These people have been
persistent in accusing ME of having communication with the _spirits_
and of engaging in all sorts of _magic_, like the infamous Papus;
well, if that be so let me exercise my gifts to prophesy that the
denationalized Jews will attempt to hereafter enthrone themselves as
MASTERS of the civilized world by their mastery of its amusements,
its money, its POLITICS and its industry,--and you will find them
demanding and RECEIVING special privileges in many countries where, at
present, they are suspected and abhorred.... I have not the slightest
doubt but that Kerensky will be succeeded by some Jewish politician
within a little while--and they will blacken his reputation as they
have tried to blacken mine.... the methods may be different but the
result will be none the less effectual.... Only the other day, I might
say, WHEN WE WERE LEAVING TUMEN, a rabble of Yiddish _suttlers_ began
_yelling at ME: "Rasputin! Rasputin! where is your Rasputin!"_ ...
Now Grisha Rasputin was a friend of the Metropolitan Archbishop
of Protopopov. He was seeking to redeem the reputation of a
horse-stealing father if I remember right--'He was a friend of
Stuermer, Niki, not a friend to you,' interrupted the ex-Empress...
'You are right, darling,' returned the 'prisoner,' 'quite right, I
know.'... 'What kind of a mountebank was RASPUTIN?' I asked to feel my
'prisoner' out.... 'He was a worthless _rasputnik_ at best,' the fallen
Emperor answered.... And you think the Jews are responsible for
your reported attachment to him?' I asked.... 'Undoubtedly,' he said
bitterly with a sigh of resignation.... 'When we were being taken to
the boat at Tobolsk did they not make faces at me and Alice and flout
me with their cries: "Take him to the Criminal Court and let him read
the record of his libertine, Rasputin! Let his Barnabas teach him how
to sin for the joy of gaining absolution!"... How little do those
enfranchised Jews understand the meaning of forgiveness!' lamented
the ex-Czar.... 'May I ask your actual estimate of creatures like
Rasputin?' I ventured.... 'Our Rasputin was a hardened criminal beyond
a doubt until his conversion by Father Zaborovsky, the good Rector at
the Theological Academy at Tomsk,' the ex-Czar replied.... 'He would
have made an excellent subject for investigation by Lombroso, by
Havelock Ellis or other eminent criminologists ... but I believed the
man was sincere in his repentance and accepted him as a sort of text
for other sinners to point a way toward regeneration.... The higher
Rasputin rose, the greater his fame became, the more impressive would
be his textual example to other aspiring souls,--even a criminal
should not be denied the consolation of hope where crime is the result
of ignorance or misdirected patriotism.... If I sinned in pardoning a
sinner then sin must be an unpardonable crime!... Nathan treated
David as I treated Rasputin, although both were guilty of the same
offense.... He was grossly illiterate,--the only schooling he ever got
was in the Monastery Abalaksky and what he acquired from the lips
of monks while making his rounds as a barefoot pilgrim from place
to place.... His claims of having _visions_ I ascribed to his empty
stomach, although others gave credence to the nonsense.... Alice at
first abhorred him; finally she began to regard him as a rare
specimen in self-hypnosis who was worth studying to learn how far the
fascinations of self-delusion were capable of deluding and swaying
stronger wills and more cultivated minds.... We both learned, by
observing him, that an ignorant mujik, like an egotistical Minister,
if granted the semblance of authority for any length of time, will
demoralize the finest organization in the world.... That was the
lesson both Alice and I acquired from Rasputin.... And I am accepting
Rasputin as a standard to estimate what will happen when men of
his type and origin attempt the government of the world.... Without
education, with no experience in governing even the smallest unit of
society, unfamiliar with the trend of history, ignorant of military
and commercial strategy, building their philosophy of life and their
science of administration upon some isolated text, they will overturn
the whole structure of civilization by arrogating to themselves the
supernatural privileges and persuasiveness of the Voice of God!...
The prospects are not inviting.... There are Rasputins in all
the chancellories of Europe.... You have them in North and South
America,--some educated, others like Marat and Danton, while some are
simple Cagliostros who deceive the people and themselves.... If
they were only Gideons instead of Joshuas their strategy might be
reassuring,--but they are merely Rasputins and Papuses, after all!...
Against all laws of nature they will try to triumph by commanding the
heavenly and mundane bodies to stand still until they readjust the
motions of civilized society to some dissolving and ruinous invention
of emotional insanity where everything runs wild!'"
THE INVISIBLE DIPLOMAT APPEARS
37. This entry is mystifying:
"Last night I waited until there was not a sound overhead.... I knew
it would be taking chances--but I HAD TO GET WATER.... We could
no longer survive on MUD!... I began pushing against the planking
overhead to see if there was anywhere an opening, but every plank
I pressed against seemed as solid as a stone sidewalk.... Finally
I began thumping with my clenched fist ... and this brought on the
fracas.... I heard a heavy pair of feet bounding on the floor directly
above my head.... Then there was a scraping and a sound like the
tearing up of carpets.... Presently I heard an iron bolt crack back
and the floor above my head began rising slowly until I found myself
looking into the muzzle of a Mauser held in the clenched hands of a
tall square-faced man with a jaw like a prize fighter....
"... Another pair of hands reached down and caught me by the collar
and I was yanked like a squirming spaniel out of my hole into a large
oblong room that was only slightly lighted by a blue student lamp upon
a small roll-top desk.... Against the wall was a large steel engraving
of King George of England, and I could see the Union Jack displayed
upon another wall.... There were papers and documents and army tents
in piles here and there round the room.... BUT THE IMPRESSION THAT
FLASHED UPON ME was not at all reassuring for a man who had made
his way into SUCH surroundings directly from the other underground
corridor in Berlin!..."
38. Then this entry follows:
"From that very hour I AM STRONGLY FOR THE BRITISH.... I will not
attempt to describe that MEAL.... It was all a King in Exile or any
of his suite could ask for; and the silent men who prepared it will
always be remembered for their discretion and manly hospitality....
Neither of them appeared to KNOW me NOR ANY OF OUR PARTY.... But those
gallant fellows are adepts at dissimulation.... I'm certain that the
tall, slender and soldierly bearing officer will remember the day
we had our STRAWBERRIES at Carlton Terrace, and the slender, willowy
Duchess who forgot her fan until he picked it up and brought it to her
AT MY TABLE, where she paused for a moment to say to me, 'MY FATHER IS
IN LONDON AND WISHES TO SEE YOU BADLY.'... I am certain he remembers
what I told her about the Gordons and the Devons in that slaughter at
the Somme,--when so few of those brave lads returned!... If we ever
meet again I shall thank him for the robes and provisions and motor
trucks he furnished to transport us safely rolled up in army tents
for many rough miles across the country in the direction of CHANYI
39. We find this entry of the diarist next:
"I have never beheld a more beautiful landscape than the scene before
me.... I am writing this on the banks of Altai Lake.... The balsam
from the cone-like firs along the gorges surcharges the air with an
intoxicating flavor and reflect their inverted gracefulness in the
calm waters of the lake.... The mountains sloping up from either side
are delineated in the mirroring surface and form an archway for the
snow-capped and broken pinnacle that towers above the others like a
sentinel brooding in his frosty and eternal isolation.... Far off in
the distance I can see the black and white walls of the KATUN GLACIER
and know that, throughout this region, gold and silver, as well as
lead and copper, most certainly abound.... In our unending tramp today
I have discovered many evidences of the presence of zinc and nickel
and other minerals lying around.... My 'prisoner' tells me that there
are mines already working in the upper part of the Talovsky River and
that the copper runs very high in the vicinity of Chudak.... Alice
wrote to Princess G---- today at T----.... I am NOT much impressed nor
FAVORABLY by the attitude of these natives in the hills.... They seem
to be a mongrel mixture of Tartar and Mongolian who are always ready,
like the huge ungainly bears we have encountered in our pilgrimage, to
grapple and devour one for the mere pleasure of seeing blood!... Maria
seems quite interested in these notes,--today she insisted on giving
me her impressions of how a NOVEL should be written.... She says that
to make a story interesting it should be all movement from the opening
line to the final wedding bells.... When I told her that I was writing
HISTORY she pouted prettily and remarked: 'I never think of history
without wondering WHO subsidized the writer of the misleading fairy
"... This girl has lived close enough to the source of history to know
what PROPAGANDA is.... Still, I like her uncomplaining buoyancy of
spirits in the trial we are going through.... We are headed SOUTH
toward Kuria and Khotan, where arrangements have been made to receive
us by some people who know our secret and will respect the rights of
ASYLUM in a land where oblivion may mean liberty and love!..."
40. There seems to have been quite a skip in the notations of the
diary. Evidently the diarist has become MORE INTERESTED in something
"The fact that we have been on FOREIGN SOIL during the last fifteen
days has considerably relaxed our nerves.... Aside from the rumor
constantly reaching us that the Mongolian mercenaries are in the
employ of the Bolsheviki and offered BIG REWARDS for our capture, we
have not been disturbed in mind or bodies.... Maria asked me today if
I were any relation to CHARLES JAMES FOX, whose oratory she claims
to greatly admire.... When I informed her that I had never met this
gentleman her eyes grew very big....
"'What ARE you?' she inquired. 'Are you an Englishman, or a
Russian,--you CAN NOT BE A GERMAN,--or ARE YOU AN AMERICAN? Oh, I just
hope you ARE an AMERICAN!... When I informed her that my ancestors
fought beside _Kosciusko_ and Pulaski and that their names might
be found on the muster rolls of the First Line Regiment of New York
Colony and State, along with the names of Goose Van Schaick and
Jeremiah Van Rensselaer, she burst her sides with laughter.... 'What a
happy family you must have been!' she rippled. 'When a Fox and a Goose
may dwell in peace and amity together there is nothing that is not
possible for their race!'
"... This quick-witted girl, certainly, BELONGS in the UNITED
STATES--the plains of Eastern Turkestan are NO place for her...."
41. There seems to be another skip in the neglected diary. Evidently
the scenery has lost all its charms.... He merely notes:
"My 'prisoner' seems VERY MUCH interested in my family connections....
He seems jolly enough about it.... BUT I can see that something is
DISTURBING him.... He is very obstinate in little things, lately....
When we get into Cashmere perhaps his mind will be diverted....
He loves the languid charm of scenic beauty nearly as much as
the flattery of his wife.... Anyway, WHAT can I do?... There is a
naturalness about this whole affair that one simply CAN'T get away
from.... Danger has a generous way of bestowing blessings on the
42. Then we find the following critical entry: "I shall NEVER read
'Lalla Rookh' again!... The Vale of Cashmere may sound fine in poetry
but it FEELS TOUGH beneath one's feet whenever one dismounts.... I
might overlook the rough spots easily enough had not OLGA suddenly
interested herself in my ANCESTRY while she found employment for Maria
with her brother, who seems sadly out of breath.... My 'prisoner' has
forgotten all about me in the absorbing interest he displays in
what he declares to be EARLY MISSIONARY WORK OF JESUS in these very
interesting stretches. It has been no easy matter for me to pilot this
party outside the range of camel caravans and soldiers on their way
from the Punjab Valley toward RAWAL PINDI.... The rattle of our tongas
might be heard at any moment and then our little caravan, disguised
as Buddhists, might spend some time in the GUARDHOUSE at Murree.... We
will not regret the shade and comparative coolness of that pleasant
Summer Resort,--but none of us are longing for any more confinement....
The road from Murree down the valley was gullied by the terrific rain
we have been wading through.... I have never seen a blacker night nor
a heavier rain than we have just come through... We were constantly in
fear of the falling of those gigantic boulders that overhung our path
behind the swishing trees that clung along the precipice.... The zigzag
road that runs down this slope is like a spiral stair in crookedness
and bumps.... We could catch a glimpse now and again of a light from
the little bungalows that clung to the mountain sides.... But we dare
not arouse the dwellers for many obvious reasons.... Finally we did
encounter an abandoned inn or hut where we camped for the night....
Next morning in a fierce and searching sun we rambled into a village
set upon a wonderful defile in the heart of the mountains, where
we ate our frugal meal.... At night we reached the Jhelum coursing
gracefully over rocky beds and through picturesque gorges that rise
into the azure and serene skies of the Himalayan heavens.... It was a
delightful place to camp for the night.... At nine the next morning we
had reached the little hamlet strung along the river bank and known
as Tongua.... Here the girls made a number of purchases and we
replenished our commissary for the march before us into mystic
dominions of the LAMA...."
THE FLIGHT TO TIBET
43. Then we get this entry:
"I did not count the number of Hindu castes we encountered at the
trading post of Tongua.... there were a hundred, at least, each
bearing on his forehead the mani-colored mark of his particular
caste,--while the stately Kashmirian in his snowy turban and long
white tunic seemed carved out of the frozen snows of the towering
mountain sides.... we were offered many cabriolets to assist us on
our journey, but one look at one of those backless and circular TABLES
between the wheels upon which one must sit like a Turkish mouker with
his legs crossed to keep from rolling down the precipice was enough to
convince us that the camel route was good enough for us.
"On the tramp to Horis, along the banks of the Jhelum with its wooded
mountains on the right and its rocky precipices on the left, we met a
number of pilgrims who had religious scruples against taking part
in letting blood of any kind of bird or beast or whale.... They had
evidently been to their Mecca.... Another thing we discovered that is
not generally understood among the unelect.... On the way we came upon
a Hindu squatting by the roadside with a pail of rich fresh milk....
Being thirsty I pointed at the pail and asked him for enough to give
our party a drink.... The fellow became enraged and informed me that
I had defiled his milk by pointing my finger at it.... I said I'd take
it all, which was evidently what he wished.
"After we had all drunk our fill I took the half-filled pail,
approached the grinning rascal and deliberately dashed the contents
in his face!... My 'prisoner' was horrified, but Maria enjoyed it
very much.... 'I had one experience in Japan,' my 'prisoner' confided,
'that has taught me never to oppose the local customs of a country no
matter how absurd they may seem to others.... At that time one of
my party poked fun at the peculiar art displayed in the statue of a
Buddha.... The priest became enraged and attempted to split my head
open when I was not looking.... Had it not been for my cousin I'm
sure I would not be with you today!... You will please me much if you
respect the ancient practices of these people.'...
"Then going to the dripping figure he laid a gold louis on the
fellow's upturned palm,--HE SEEMED TO KNOW WHAT WAS COMING--which was
proof to my mind that there is more in Yogi philosophy than has ever
been let out....
"... Frankly, however, I suspect that my 'prisoner's' kindness has only
whetted the appetite of that knave.... The way he looks at us would
convict him in any court of justice that he meditates our murder...."
44. Then we have this entry:
"I am not at all mistaken in my estimate of that Hindu with the pail
of defiled milk.... He is one of the renegade SPIES that hang on the
brow of civilization and infest these retreats and mountain gorges in
search of easy prey.... There are other POWERS above them that lounge
in gilded palaces and seem always interested in the charms of lovely
women who may suddenly DISAPPEAR.... I know the brood of vultures from
Stamboul to the red lights of New York and the dens of Singapore!...
The quicker we get down out of these mountains and into the populated
valley on our way to Seranagur the SAFER I will feel.... It is all
very pleasant to take a look at this silver ring that encircles the
plateau with its eternal snows, to watch the sparkling waterfalls, the
gardens and the dimpling lake with its little islands with cottages
resting on them and to imagine one's self in the fairyland we used to
read about as children,--BUT for a full-grown man, in my position
and _charged with an important mission_, I prefer to be on my way....
There are too many places where one may be accounted for as
having fallen down the mountain side in the event of some sudden
45. By the initiated the following entry will not be misunderstood:
"It was an unlucky piece of folly that sent us in this direction
halfway round the earth to a destination we could have reached in
fifteen days.... On our way to Bombay where arrangements had been
made to slip us quietly across the Peninsula and on to our permanent
retreat, we were confronted with the information that people of my
prisoner's nationality were _leaving_ Bombay _by request_,--and hence
_our_ unheralded appearance might attract too much attention to be
entirely satisfactory to the interests I was serving ... How this
information was conveyed to us I may jot down some later day.... But
to make a note of it is sufficient for my purpose now ... There are
other wild beasts in these mountains besides panthers to account for
the death of a man WHO KNOWS TOO MUCH.
"... Were it not for a positive FEELING of dread that has followed me
since I threw milk into that Hindu's eyes, I should like to describe
the many fascinating spots encountered in the embrace of a squalid
and picturesque degeneracy.... I should linger with my brush over
the opalescent lake and the sweet, calm repose of Seranagur with its
purling river scouring the festooned landings and retiring abodes
of tranquillity and ease,--I should like to jot down the scenes of
bathers at their twilight dips when both sexes mingle as innocent as
our First Parents were of a bathing costume and as devoutly fervent in
their ablutions as the fabled Peris of this Paradise themselves. But
there is a feeling in the air that some one is pursuing us and which
cuts these memorandums short...."
46. "For purposes of self-protection I shall no longer jot down
exactly our location," the next entry reads. I note merely that we are
somewhere in Little Thibet and that I have met the MAN IN YELLOW ROBES
AND YELLOW TURBAN AT THE LOW WHITE MONASTERY as I was told to do in
the _Memorandum_ at Berlin.... And I approached him with the RIGHT
FOOT first, my hands held in the appropriate position, until he asked
me in excellent French: 'Whence come you?' Then I made the proper
sign and whispered the name of the room adjacent to another room which
satisfied the Lama that I was the bearer of a MESSAGE to the Exalted
Dalai-Lama as well as the principal Khutuktus of the EAST.... My
little audience was much mystified, BUT the MAN IN YELLOW ROBES
understood.... He began whirling a brass prayer wheel as he advanced
toward my 'prisoner' and salaamed.... Then laying his right hand on
the 'prisoner's' shoulder the Lama said: 'Your credentials, sahib, are
correct,--and it is well; as your misfortunes have been great, great
will be the blessings that will fall upon thy family and thy name.
Thy piety hath been known to all my brethren, likewise thy
toleration,--although the INFIDEL hath been a thorn pressed evilly
against thy side ... _beware of that same infidel today_! He is
plotting evil HERE against thy very life,--he envieth the lives of
thine!... A _religious war_ now breweth in this land!... SPIES haunt
thy footsteps from the rising to the setting sun.... BEWARE lest thy
fair daughters and thy wife shall disappear!... Our prayers, sahib,
shall attend thee; and our numerous eyes shall remain open to the
PERILS as thou goest EAST where arms are open to receive thee,--but
see thou, sahib, THAT THOU DOST WALK DILIGENTLY IN THE DIRECTION OF
"... The Lama backed away.... Never did he cease whirling the prayer
wheel as he spoke ... this constitutes the perpetual prayer of Lamas,
the theory being that the wheel communicates the petition to the air
and, thus, mingled with the elements, it ascends naturally to the
heaven of the blessed.... We were then conducted through a long row of
very low rooms ornamented with a variety of Buddhist statues that have
never been dusted nor apparently disturbed, to an open terrace which
overlooked a dreary waste of gray rocks and broken ledges and offered
to our view the slender roadway that lay like a ribbon across the
plain until it faded into the golden glow of the Eastern horizon....
When I looked at that _single_ road, and recalled the WARNING of the
Lama so solemnly given to my 'prisoner' about the care to be given to
his daughters, I REALIZED FULLY THE MEANING OF THE PRYING EYES that
followed us everywhere after my encounter with the milk-fed MUSSULMAN
disguised as a Hindu mendicant!..."
AN ENEMY IN PURSUIT
47. Local color is given in this note:
"We have had an exciting day.... The strategy one must sometimes
employ in traveling through a hostile country is based upon the
principle of deception.... It was the work of Maria too, who had
evidently been reading up on certain occult works of the Eastern
magicians and brought them into play at a moment when we were
surrounded by a band of marauders in the company of my 'Hindu'
friend.... To explain: There is a certain kind of little animal held
sacred among these strolling outlaws.... The possession of one of
these animals is supposed to be a guarantee of future happiness as
well as a protection against all danger.... They are very hard to
entrap and the Ladakian Islamites will spend a month endeavoring to
ensnare one.... We were quite a distance from the convent at Saspoula,
where the road runs around among the rocks and turns back upon itself
like a horseshoe in the wooded hills.... At one of these bends the
pursuers had encamped ready to dash down upon us as we turned the bend
and make away with the girls in the direction of their camp in the
secluded mountain passes.... Maria had secured a number of those
little animals, and, twisting a fine hairpin around one of their hind
legs, she let one by one escape.... The animals clambered toward
the higher elevations where the banditti lay in waiting.... Their
movements being impeded by the hair pins on their legs they offered
an apparently easy PRIZE to the superstitious Islamites.... Abandoning
their present enterprise against our party they dashed after the
deceptive animals and disappeared over the hills in a mad scamper for
GOOD LUCK.... This little ruse cleared our pathway and permitted us to
reach Saspoula before the sun had set.... Here we passed a number
of shrines besides the French and Thibetan convents.... Avoiding the
convent with the tri-color floating from its mast we approached the
other.... Here again were the dusty idols, banners and flags thrown
into one corner, the floors littered with ugly masks and prayer wheels
and books and rolls upon rolls of sacred papers mutely breathing their
"... As we had been informed, the lamas here were ready to receive us,
with meal and beds prepared and our own apartments all in order.... The
Lama who greeted us was about five feet tall, low flat forehead, flat
nose, full thick lips, rather round small head and with a sweep of
black whiskers falling from his chin.... In fact, NONE of these lamas
are GRAY,--the only thing that suggests AGE is their stooped and
slender bodies and bent and bony fingers.... AND THEY ALLOW THE
PRACTICE OF POLYANDRY in their diocese!... One woman has a dozen
husbands ... and every THIRD man we meet with is a lama.
"... Still the women we see here are more attractive than those we
encountered in Cashmere.
"... Before leaving the convent we were again cautioned against
holding conversation with STRANGERS we might encounter in the numerous
caravans along the road to LEH.... We punctiliously obeyed these
instructions during the rest of our journey until we reached the
PETAK convent, which stands upon an isolated rock beside an abandoned
garrison or fort, with its two towers looking like ant hills beside
the majestic mountain that rises ten thousand feet above our resting
place.... This mountain is the sentinel that protects our entrance
into Thibet.... Six miles away is LEH, elevated eleven thousand
feet above the lowlands and around whose shadowy convents rise those
immense granite pinnacles to an elevation of eighteen thousand feet,
where their frosty crests are enshrouded in the fezzes of eternal
"... Leh, with its circlet of stubby aspen trees, its succession of
terraces, its old fort and the palace of its forgotten Moguls, has its
arms outstretched for us.... The mystic word has been passed along our
route and BEHOLD we are encamped in a well-furnished three-story white
bungalow with odors oozing from the kitchen that promise a night of
security and content!..."
48. The next entry gives a glimpse of the country through which our
"Traveling toward the east we have passed through a number of villages
of neat two-story houses in these narrow walled-in valleys.... The
inhabitants are, clearly, of a Mongolian race,--the homeliest I have
ever seen!... They cultivate but little patches of the land, sit
around all day and gain their hollow cheeks and shrunken chests and
wrinkled foreheads by squinting at the sun.... Even the women are tiny
things with a perpetual smile that pushes up their high cheek bones
into a horn-like prominence and apparently belies their apparent
gaiety.... The belts of these men are perfect arsenals of
curious-looking things.... With their cloth caps with ear flaps
hanging down, their knee breeches and their linen shirts hung with a
dozen prayer wheels, they characterize this country well....
"... If it were not apparently made compulsory by law these fellows
would not wash their faces once a year.... They seem never to have
changed their clothing until it is beginning to fall off their
indolent frames.... They are so lazy that their hair falls off their
heads.... And I have not yet seen a coat that does not carry the smear
of their dirty hair.... That characterizes the MEN.... The WOMEN are
altogether different.... They are perfect water rats and like to bathe
many times a day.... Their gowns are red, worn like a shirt-waist
over well-rounded shoulders, and tucked into green pantaloons at their
waist line, over which is thrown an elaborately plaited skirt that
reaches to their red embroidered shoes.... A lambskin is thrown
over the back ... the hair dressed in Italian fashion ... the veil
festooned with beads and coins and trinkets of all description ... an
oriental pelisse touched with its fringe of gold.... That's the
type of woman of these silent places we are traversing.... MARIA
HAS DISCOVERED THE ORIGIN OF THE BOLSHEVIKI TENET OF FREE LOVE AND
MARRIAGE.... Today she explained to her father that the idea was
imported into Russia from this country together with the mercenary
hordes from a region east of here.... 'These women,' she said, 'do
not understand what one means by love.... They think it is too great
a luxury to be tolerated among self-respecting people.... They believe
NO MAN is good enough to monopolize a whole woman to himself.... That
sort of MONOPOLY is contrary to the ethics of a first-class Communism
everywhere and it must not be tolerated in this blessed Bolsheviki
world!'... 'Tut-tut!' said her father. 'Please discontinue comments on
subjects that no longer interest us.'... Manifestly my 'prisoner' is
becoming bored by this unending and dreary pilgrimage along the camel
route in the direction of the rising sun.... However, his gallantry to
Alice is inexaustible, unflagging and unfailing. If she stubs her
toe he wants to kiss the bruise.... _Maria's comment has apparently
aroused the hostility of certain personages in this camp_.... If I
were not positive that the thing could not be possible I'd swear the
TALL square-shouldered lama is well known in Constantinople...."
WHERE THE PRISONERS DISAPPEARED
49. Then this entry reveals the sequence:
"We had been a number of days on the road,--our lives imperceptibly
growing into a closer and more intimate companionship as the days
ambled slowly away with the bleak snow-clad mountains that we left
behind.... Descending down the slopes into a fertile valley, the
hillsides terraced with a series of rice yards, and our paths softly
shaded with the mulberry tree.... Behind us was the white-fringed
mountain of the Lama, before us loomed the SACRED PINNACLE OF OMAY and
off to the south spread an ancient walled city with steeples pointing
heavenward surmounted by the CROSS.... Where the pagoda stood a
thousand years ago now rise the hospital and the Christian missionary
school.... Here the people walk on well-paved and broad sweeping
streets and the tourists spend their afternoons promenading along the
smooth and high and broad city wall.... As we approached this city
a stream of 'rickshas came dashing in our direction commanded by
the TALL slim 'lama' I had supposed we left behind!... The coolies
appeared to understand their parts.... Quickly making a circle around
us they pulled the women from their camels and tried to rope and bind
my 'prisoner' and myself.
"Of course we were in full view of the consular flags of a dozen
different nations; but that did not seem to bother the ringleader of
this tatterdemalion mob.... My 'prisoner' fought like a demon.... He
well remembered the lessons he received from Heath in the manly art of
self-defense.... Right and left he boxed like a well-trained
athlete delivering his dynamic punches well.... But finally the gang
overpowered him and turned their undivided attention to me.... I was
vainly attempting to reach the side of Maria and her sisters, whom
the tall bully was forcing into a waiting 'ricksha manned by two
barelegged men,--a dozen coolies pounced upon me, tore my clothing
into fragments, furrowed my face with their infernal nails and
actually attempted to bite me on the ears!..."
"I have no notion how well or hard I fought, but as I knocked one down
another took his place as I fought my way to the side of the now bound
and helpless girls.... Their hair was streaming down their backs,
their faces flushed, their eyes filled with tears ... that sight
maddened me!... I have been in many fights before, I have lain beside
the dead in Flanders and among the Balkan highlands, I have seen blood
flowing by me like a river,--and the thought of all these seemed to
electrify my soul and fill my veins with steel.... I tore madly right
and left.... I never struck such herculean blows before or since.
"I literally grabbed the tall man by the heels and whirled him round
like a flail and tore into that gang of snarling hellhounds with
cyclonic fury.... I literally mowed them down.... But finally a dull
thud sounded in my ears.... A wave of light blinded both my eyes.... I
knew nothing more until this morning when I awoke in a tent. Beside me
was a loaf of bread and a canteen of cool water.... NOT ANOTHER SIGN
OF A LIVING CREATURE IS IN SIGHT.... I am in a deep mountain gorge,
leading to the south along a narrow roadway that has apparently
witnessed the procession of unnumbered ages."
50. Then this entry:
"After tramping all day I finally emerged in the sight of a
swift-flowing river on either bank of which, in the distance, appeared
two walled-off cities of considerable size.... Foreign GUNBOATS were
lying in the harbor in holiday attire.... As I approached the city
a courier came running to meet me.... When he approached I drew back
prepared to fight....
"But his friendliness disarmed me and I allowed him to draw near....
'Li'l' ladee wantee see you quick; you cum foller me,' he said,
and turned back from where he came.... I followed him with beating
heart.... On the dock at the landing where the gunboat was steaming up
MARIA met me with moistened eyes....
"She informed me in a low voice that the officer was ready to receive
me and accept my orders.... And then she said,
"'Before you go I wish to thank you for all you have done for us....
If our paths should ever meet again I want you to know my heart will
beat more quickly when I shall see you coming up the path.'... That
said, she flung her slender arms around my neck, impulsively, and
looked calmly in my eyes.... When, involuntarily, my arms showed signs
of being prehensile, she sprang away quickly and flashed along the
gangway to disappear, like a holy vision, behind that gray storm
51. The last entry reads:
"It has been a habit with me for many years to never be surprised....
When I appeared on deck to give the code to the commander of that
vessel this habit was unmoored.... A tall, square-jawed man approached
me with a twinkle in his clear blue eyes.... I looked at him
inquiringly and a little reminiscently until I heard him speak.... 'I
see the loaf of bread came in handy,' he said, extending me his
bony hand.... 'I thought I left you at Ekaterinburg,' I exclaimed,
recalling the moments we spent after our escape from the abandoned
tunnel.... 'Oh,' he laughed, 'YOURS was not a one-man job; there are
others in the world besides yourself intrusted with state secrets....
'But what do you know about the bread, you just spoke of it?'
"'My company was following on behind,' he answered. 'When we came
round the bend we saw you scrapping with that outlaw from Trebizond.
You did quite well; you had all but three of them laid out in manly
fashion when you got that clip on the back of the head. Then we
stepped in and conducted your party to their present quarters ...
thought it better for you to remain in the tent while the authorities
here locked up those cutthroats for your disappearance.'
"'Have you the CODE WORD?' I asked.... He whispered it in my ear....
Then I lettered the order.... Finally he asked, 'Would you not like to
meet my SISTER who has been so much _interested_ in you?'
"His sister! I had never heard of her!... 'Of course!' I answered
amiably enough for one completely stumped....
"He called a petty officer and said a few words in an undertone.... In
a minute a radiant young woman with springing steps glided gracefully
down the deck.... She was not, in her present attire, much different
from Maria ... but as she drew near I noted the difference at
a glance.... She came forward quickly and held out her hand.
'Congratulations, Mr. Fox!' she said smiling.... The Metropole!'
I gasped,--'what brings YOU here?' 'Still asking questions!' she
coquetted prettily. 'I merely called, of course, to inform you
that the sapphire is in America!'... I thought hard for more than
a minute.... Then it occurred to me that I had seen her in a dozen
disguises shadowing me from Buckingham to the room upstairs on
Downing Street,--to charm me later at The Hague--to disappear like a
will-o'-the-wisp,--then to fascinate me at the Metropole.'...
"Well, the commander of the vessel tells me that it is _fourteen
hundred miles down stream to Woosung_ and that the voyage will take
seven days from there.... With his _code_ word still ringing in
my ears to be repeated to one man at _Berlin_, to another man in
_England_, another in _Japan_, and to a dignitary in _Italy_, the
mission I have undertaken shall have been successfully discharged,
so far as _history_ and _public policy_ is concerned.... But there
is _another_ mission that I shall, some day, undertake that will be
enshrined in lovely memories and lively fancies until _that day_ shall
RESCUING THE CZAR
The daring reference by Fox, in the foregoing, to personages and
events, to locations and the life incident thereto, that may easily
be confuted are they false in any of their details, leads to but one
Yet there are other incidents that reinforce that conclusion, that are
only casually touched upon by Fox. The references to "the Performer at
the Metropole" who "is a Baroness sure enough" and to the person
named as "Syvorotka," in whom the Baroness is interested, display an
unconscious connection between the mysterious underground diplomats
and the Secret Agents who were acting independently in the _rescue_,
and supplementing the activities of Fox, will be found to be fully
authenticated in the vivid incidents recorded by the diarist of _Part
This diarist was doubtless a Russian gentleman of the official class,
of elevated standing with the former Government, and of pronounced
aristocratic sentiments. His previous official connections seem to
have been with the High Administration, the Ministry of Finance, or
with the Council of Ministers. Like many others of his class in
the old regime, when the Revolution broke, he was forced to degrade
himself and mingle with the evil elements that were bent on loot
and rapine. By May, 1918, he appears to have been transformed into
a perfect type of "Red" that deceived and terrorized the Russian
population and gave credence to the Bolshevik assertion that "former
officialdom is now acting with the proletariat." How well the diarist
deceives the Bolsheviki and sustains this claim of Trotzky is fully
revealed in the dramatic incidents recorded: _nowhere in literature
is found a better illustration of social metempsychosis,--of the
abasement of moral and intellectual refinement to the elemental and
unconscious vulgarity and irresponsibility of predatory Communism
and mob indifference to shame_! It is the devolution of Moral
Responsibility into organized iniquity and characterizes primordial
Passion released from sentiment and law,--and _it was the necessary
camouflage of the diarist in his struggle for life and in his efforts
to promote the Czar's escape_.
In translating Part Two, or the memoranda of this Imperial rescuer,
from Russian into English, or the frequent French, to characterize the
event recorded, there were found to be many situations, phrases and
expressions that may shock the sensitive reader; in the conceptions of
the diarist, however, in his cynicism and degradation he photographs
_Red_ _Russia_ and reveals the characteristics necessary to visualize
the horror that accompanied the event. A truthful picture of
this unique segment of human history can be preserved only in a
_word-for-word_ translation of this document. Therefore, with the
exception of a few letters involving the name of A.F. Kerensky,
nothing has been withheld from the inspection of the reader to view
the conduct of nobility subjected to privations, temptation and the
fascinating power of sin.
... and, post factum, everybody claims that "he (or more often she)
predicted it long ago, but they would not listen." It is a lie; we
all knew that the war has been conducted abominably, that Rasputin and
Stuermer were plotting, that the administration was greatly inclined to
graft,--all gossip of the town. But no one whom I had seen since the
execution of the monk was aware of the real fact: the revolution was
in the air. Rodzianko, to whom I spoke at the Club only a fortnight
before the abdication, said that everything would turn out all right.
In fact, the Court, and people around it,--were much better posted;
perhaps they felt something growing instinctively, as they were
too silly to crystallize their fears in some concrete conception.
Maroossia was in Tsarskoye Selo not long before the old Admiral's
death; they said that the danger was expected from the "Town and
Country Union." But all these whispers and chatterings were always
of the category of a "so-and-so, whose brother's friend knew a man
With all my running around about the town I must confess I did
not notice any movement; I always thought that the reason of the
unrest--was the shortage of food, and a little provocation, to put
Stuermer in a disagreeable position. The realization of the serious
danger approaching all of us came to me only when the police fired on
the mob on the Nevsky and the first real clash took place. I happened
to cross the Liteinyi near Basseinaya Street, when I heard for the
first time in my life the whistling of bullets and the peculiar
drumming of the machine guns. I felt weak in the knees and around the
waist and had to stand in a porte-cochere for a while. It was only for
a few moments, and I felt ashamed of this disgusting feeling of fear.
A crowd of cooks, or maids, passed near me shouting and screaming for
help; they had disgustingly lost their self-control. I reached home in
a hurry and found Maroossia pale and frightened. I had to tell her
not to show her nose in the streets. Then Mikhalovsky called me up and
asked how did I like the revolution. He did not like it: his cook had
been shot in the knee; a very moderate cook, in fact.
Committees, everywhere committees! Everywhere suspicions! No
more cheerful faces! Permanent meetings of the new elements! Much
conversation! Greetings! Wishes of prosperous free life! Hopes of the
Allies that we will continue the war!
All this still characterizes our poor country.
Today--for the first time in my life (it is only the beginning!) I
saw a real communist alive. He was a man of rather short size and dark
complexion, if such could be detected under his greasy cheeks. He wore
a small beard twisted at the end in a tin hook. His ears--transparent
and pale--were unproportionately big. I stopped near the Elisseiev
store to buy score cards for this evening's bridge, when a little
group of men--civilians and soldiers--gathered near the communist.
The usual crowd of nowadays loafers,--shabby looking, discussing
something, casting around looks full of hostility, hatred and
superiority. A boy brought a chair from a cigar counter, and the
communist stepped on it, and started his talk. "Tovarishshi," he said,
"the time has come."... They all applauded, though nobody knew
what was going to be next, and the speaker could even have been a
"This is he," shouted a sailor to me; a big chap with hair falling off
of his cap.
"Who is _he_?" I questioned.
"You, burjooi," a soldier said to me, "no wonder you do not know him.
This is Comrade Trotzky. He comes from America. You had better move
on or I'll tell who you are,"--he continued staring at me very
resolutely, and spat on the sidewalk right near my foot.
I moved on. What people!
I crossed Nevsky and stood on the other side. From there I could not
hear Comrade Trotzky, but studied his movements and gesticulation, his
manner of scratching his nose, of quickly turning his head in a derby,
and the nervous shrugging of his shoulders. The mob applauded him
after every phrase, making his speech a series of separate sentences
and thus giving him the advantage of thinking of most radical ideas,
while awaiting for the listeners to finish the applause.
I have finally decided to give in my resignation. What is the use? No
work is being done. We only talk. The whole administration, the whole
administrative machinery, stands still, evidently retrograding every
Many understand it. Rodzianko is going away south; a man whom they
think too old and too much of a reactionary. He is quite depressed,
I presume, but likes to look perfectly satisfied. When I asked him
whether the war looked to him as though it were to be continued, he
gazed at me, and not after hesitation sighed, and said:
"Yes, if the army will stand the effects of order number one."
And then, fearing the next question coming, he assumed the air of a
busy man and shook hands--"as he had to go and see his relatives."
Nearing the house I saw Kerensky in the Emperor's car, proud, and
smiling to left and right. His Excellency, the Minister of Justice!
Everybody is sure and proud that he is building up the new Russia.
Lawyers and doctors, engineers and priests, all run with busy
faces,--they think a statesman of today must run,--everybody gives
orders, counter-orders, nobody carries them out, nobody listens. There
are about 200,000 Napoleons in Petrograd today; as they multiply by
section, this number will be enormous before long. The situation,
however, does not improve....
In the office there was quite a discussion of the probabilities, and
I was listening to the younger people. Criticism and "my own opinion"
are the main sicknesses. Perhaps the private initiative used to be so
hardly oppressed, that it comes out at present in excess.
Why should lawyers be convinced, that their profession gives them
the right, _primo genio_ to be statesmen? I should suggest an
archeologist, or a man in charge of a lighthouse.
We all went to the "Farce," Maroossia and F., myself and Misha.
Afterwards we had supper. At the next table to us were the M's.,
Alexander Ivanitsky and the Baroness B. Since her return she certainly
looks much better. At first I did not see her, then before all she
reprimanded me in her usual kind manner. She had grown a little
thinner and has more jewelry I should say, and is as fascinating as
before. When she speaks one can see that she thinks of far distant
"We all are busy these days," she said, when I asked her whether she
came here from England just for curiosity to see all of us under the
Provisional Government. "You did not change at all." Misha, who did
not know B. before, did not like her very much,--in fact, they all
think she is suspicious. Aren't these youngsters peculiar? Especially
Misha who is so grouchy lately--all seems dangerous to him. I never
think that a woman can be anything but pretty or hideous. There is no
middle, and no suspicion about them. If a woman is, what they perhaps
would call "suspicious"--then there is a man's influence behind
her--so find the man (and it is easy) and she is as plain as a card
on the table. Baroness B. is pretty. And if she likes to talk like a
Pythia,--that's her way of making people interested in her.
Maroossia complained of a headache, so we left early. Baroness is in
the Hotel d'Europe--she is so sorry that "her Astoria" became such a
hole. Well--not only her Astoria.
It certainly would be a wonder to expect anything but confusion from
the men who recently became the leaders of 180 millions. The leaders
are sure they can make wonders.
Prince Lvov! This old squeaking carriage, as Polenov says, is a man
from whom I would not expect anything. It is enough to look at his
beard, with remnants of yesterday's dinner on it, at his small blue
foxy eyes always reddish and always dropping tears. Miliukov! Minister
of Foreign Affairs! All his experience consists of a continuous chain
of political breaks and a series of moderately paid, superficial
articles on Balkan questions in a provincial newspaper. And, Monsieur
Kerensky,--_la fine fleur_--the Minister of Justice, a little man with
a single kidney and a double ambition. Insects!
These people would not be able to administer a small country
community, and here they are confronted with three immense
propositions: the Great War, the building up of a new state, and the
fighting of an organized propaganda directed against the war, and
It was enough for the ladies (and for Maroossia too) to see all of
these people in power, in order to find interesting points, not only
in their political activities, that would not be so bad--but in their
private lives too. They all already know who these people are,
what they eat, when and where they were born, what their wives and
mistresses look like, etc., etc., up to the most intimate deeds and
traits of their characters. The foreign ladies also take a very keen
interest in those little tea-chats. All prefer to listen to them much
rather than to the events at the front.
Vadbolsky wrote me a letter sent through the "Help the Soldiers"
society. Of course he could not say much. They all realize that
discipline is going down with tremendous speed, at least at the
Northern front. The soldiers listen more to what the Council of
Deputies say than to anything else. This treble power--the Council,
the Government and the Army Authorities--must be united, but there is
no one to realize it; and if there were, there would be no possibility
of co-ordinating the different currents.
Evening with the Ivanitskys.
After dinner we all went into the library and started as usual to
speak of our very bad affairs, the high cost of living, even here, in
a private home, reserved, not to be accused of reactionary tastes. The
ladies looked at every one who would start to talk, as if he would be
_the man_ to solve all of our complicated problems and mishaps.
Baroness B., whom I had seen very much lately, talked to me for a
while in a corner, to the ridiculous anger of Maroossia who went to
bed tonight without kissing me. She (the Baroness) said that Sophie
had already reached London after the stay in Copenhagen and Paris.
"Her mission," she said,--as usual coquettishly and childishly looking
around with a fear of being overheard,--"was a failure." In Copenhagen
"they would not even listen", to Sophie, and she was told that the
solution and the "demarches" must be made, if made, from London, as
there people have every means to arrange with Berlin. I asked the
Baroness to keep all of this news to herself, and not to drag me, or
what would be worse, Maroossia, into any conspiracy. "Be just as you
are and don't try to become more serious, it may spoil you"--. Heavens
knows what the Baroness has become since her peculiar conduct with the
Vassilchikov and her permanent whisperings to Madame Vyrubov and
the rest of the gang. But still, there was already a movement about
Tsarskoe Selo. If I were not so particular about avoiding silly
conversations, I would have asked her what she meant by communicating
Sophie's failure to me.
Finally, I am glad, I did not ask her questions. What is the use of
the Emperor's release to me? A man who did not know how to pick his
advisors, who did not know how to arrange his home affairs, his Alice
von Hessen Darmstadt, his monks and his generals, does not deserve to
be too much regretted, and certainly does not deserve too particular
interest. Baroness B's. actions are strange. Is she paid? By whom?
(_a page missing_)
... was stopped by me and slightly pursed her red lips, we joined
the rest, where a British Major (I never can think of his name) was
telling of his experiences in the research work for German propaganda
in Petrograd. So sorry he had to speak French with his typical
Anglo-Saxon struggles with "D" and "T," that makes French so perfectly
ununderstandable in an English mouth. It is horrid that people like
the Ivanitskys don't know English well enough, and now, when we all
have to be among our British allies, we make ourselves, and the allies
as well, simply ridiculous!
So the Major explained that their man was at several meetings of a
body, which he called "Le conseil secret du parti bolchevique" (that
must have been something very bad indeed), where a man by name Lenine
was present, also communists Bronstein, Nakhamkes, Kohan, Schwarz
and others, I forget. They all are conspiring. "Be no war with
our brethren," "Be peace on earth," "Closer together peasants and
soldiers, workingmen and poor," "To hell with the intelligentzia,"
"Long live the International," etc., etc., was all we saw on the
banners lately. The queerest thing is that the British agent at the
meeting saw amongst the anarchists several men from the police, and
a fellow by name of Petrov, the same one that had the accident on the
Moscow railway and was asked to leave the Foreign Office a couple of
years ago. Now Petrov is with the communists. Again the agent reported
the presence of the 1905 blackhundreds. They all are there, and
instead the "Boje Tsaria Khrani," they shout the International. They
all understand their people (the agent said) and they all are with
the Lenine and others, to return to the sweet past by destroying the
bitter present. Sir George, the Major continued, knew all about these
significant political blocks, and reported them to London, but the
Foreign Office and the Conseil de Guerre seem to be either ignorant (I
would not be very much surprised), or know more than the Ambassador,
so, as yet, our Cabinet has not been warned. Our Cabinet! It sounds
majestic.... Since Miliukov left, and the mercantile Monsieur
Tereshchenko took his hot seat--everything goes to the devil with our
policy abroad. It is strange, for Mr. Tereshchenko must be well posted
in foreign relations: both of his French twin mistresses gave him
every possibility of becoming "bien verse."
But--oh, shades of Count Nesselrode and Prince Gorchakov! Inspire
the newcomer, looking from the walls of the Foreign Office, at his
struggles! Your illegitimate son needs your sense and help ...
Since the scandalous discovery of the plot (Mr. Kerensky took personal
care to make it scandalous)--perhaps it was not a plot, but just a
few letters of the Gr. Duchess M.P., Tsarskoye Selo has become very
difficult to reach and to visit. A few days ago Maroossia came
home from A. very late and so tired that I thought she was ill. The
communication seems completely stopped, and soldiers were looking in
the automobile every five minutes. Once she thought they would arrest
her. Sentinels not only around the Palace, but in the garden too, with
a double chain of Reds on the streets! The General told Maroossia that
some one explained to him that these difficulties and impediments were
provoked by the successes of the Germans on the Riga front, and that
they expect a serious drive on Petrograd, and twice insinuated about
her going to Yalta, or Gurzoof, or Gagry,--as things there rapidly
were becoming complicated. So said the Admiral too, in his peculiar
way: "The rats before a shipwreck usually feel the coming wreck by
instinct, and run on the decks." He said that was his impression in
Tsarskoye. Every rat is exceedingly nervous and tries to disappear
from the Palace under some pretext or other, and the Palace is
Kerensky is coming there very often, usually with his milk-fed
A.D.C.... This man wants to be generous, he wants to be square, in
fact,--he wants to be magnificent. He calls the Emperor "Colonel
Romanov," or "Nikolai Alexandrovich." Never says, "Your Majesty." He
feels sure that he is beloved in Tsarskoye, and that they speak of
him with tears of gratitude, admiring his justice and his manners. I
hardly think Kerensky realizes that they are simply frightened, and
feel with their inborn appreciation of the man, that by playing on his
exceedingly well developed self-veneration--they might be saved.
I have been told in the Club that the Government is planning to get
rid somehow of the whole family. The foxy old Polenov explained to us
after bridge that he would not be surprised if Kerensky would say to
the Lenine crowd that the Emperor should be taken somewhere in the
country on account of the German advance, and to Buchanan ... on
account of the growing strength of Lenine. "Many more people are
interested in this affair," he said, "than even Kerensky knows. If he
knew, he would have a larger field for bargaining."
Devil knows who is who now! If police officers enlist in the
communists,--what is next? Trotzky's going to a high mass?
Dined with Buchanans and the Lazarevs. Ros. was wounded. We all
enjoyed this little story:--
A German girl was asked:
"Koennen sie Ibsen?" To which she replied:
"Nein! Wie macht man das?"
I suspected, and feared, that it could or might have happened,--and so
Yesterday Mikhalovsky asked me to come to his office. He looked queer
and worried, and when I stepped in, he closed the door and started to
reproach me with every sign of excitement, so proper to him; spitting
all over my face.
"I never expected that from you! I never expected! How is it? What is
it!?..." and so on.
I stopped him and asked him to be more explicit, as I could not grasp
all of the meaning of his eloquence. After he lit a cigarette (how
many times this little thing has been a salvation!) Mikhalovsky became
more comprehensible and told me that Misha phoned at one o'clock in
the night and asked him to come immediately to the Intelligence in his
private office. Mikhalovsky, who is now taking great care of himself,
drinks some waters, takes green pills and goes to bed at nine, became
enraged and refused, but Misha said he was an ass, and simply had to
dress and go to the headquarters. So the old thing had to dress and
appear. Misha showed him a short note from the French Agent which
read something like this:--"Baroness B. evidently communicating with
Copenhagen through Sharp and Starleit M. General Z. to be approached,
also Quart.--General R. In one instance a package carried to
Sestroretsk by a lady in a blue tailor suit with white fox fur. Trail
lady, arrest Baroness B. Watch Finland Depot, radio to Generals Z. and
R." No signature.
My astonishment was very great, and I said that "though I have known
Baroness B. quite well since I met her in Paris and Monte Carlo
(_five lines scratched out from manuscript_).... "Quit your damn jokes
for a while," he exclaimed. "Do you realize, what you are talking
about? The lady with the fox--is Maroossia!"
"Maroossia? Spying?" I said, becoming angry in my turn. "You will have
to account for it, Boris Platonovich, as even an old friend and
relative must think over those accusations."
Then Mikhalovsky explained that Misha's man followed the lady--up to
the house, and that it _was_ Maroossia. Another one "listened in," and
understood from Maroossia's and Baroness B's. conversation, that
my wife took the package to a certain Madame van der Huechts in
Sestroretsk, on being told to do so by the Baroness, and that she did
not know what there was in it, and even did not know who Madame van
der Huechts was.
"You see, you boneheaded fool," Mikhalovsky continued, "what was the
danger? If Misha had not succeeded in having his own man listen in,
and do it quietly, all of this detective work, your Maroossia would be
gone by this time." "But,"--he continued, "now the case is closed,
as far as your wife is concerned, and the only thing I wish to insist
upon,--is to get Maroossia out of here right now. Furthermore, you
should give her a scolding."
I said it would not be omitted.
Maroossia left for her father's. We certainly had some explanation!
She cried and felt indignant, and finally understood why I was so
angry when the evening papers came out with the news of Baroness B's
arrest. Then--she understood that she never should do anything
that was asked her "without her husband's knowledge." The case, as
Mikhalovsky says, is closed.
The last two or three evenings I spent with both Mikhalovskys. They
told me strange stories. I simply cannot believe them. First--that the
German staff sent Lenine here with a special message to some people
now in power. "We know all about it," said Misha, "but the time is not
yet ripe to act." Second--that a certain person received a request not
to touch Grimm, nor any of the communists. Third--the strangest--to
get the Tsar's family out. "All of this news would have been much
fuller if only we could decipher some of this,"--and Misha took out of
his pocket and presented me with this strange slip of paper....
...--all of these crossings of the lines are words, or ciphers, or
phrases, God knows what, and they _must_ mean something very important
for they were taken from members of this web, and stand in direct
connection with our present, or rather our future, attitude. But that
is about as much as we know of it.
I went to Cubat's for luncheon, as the cook had to go to a
meeting,--how do you like that?--and I do not regret it, for I learned
When I think of Cubat's, Contant's or the Hotel de France's public
before the war, and compare them with the present, I find the
difference on the style of people simply enormous. They never were
here before,--these types of men with eyes looking for quick money,
for instantaneous riches, for some "_affaires du ravitaillement
militaire_." Yesterday's poor chaps, that would not know the
difference between a cotelette and a jigot are ordering and
easily eating things that it would take me some time to think of.
Democratisation of French cooking, or vulgarisation of exclusive
tastes (?) which?
I met Frank at Cubat's.... Heaven knows how he got released from
custody. I could not help it when he approached my table and greeted
me; I asked him whether he had heard anything from Colonel Makevich.
He asked me about Maroossia, so one thing led to another, and finally
the waiter brought a chair. "Can I join you?" he asked. I growled
something like "delighted" and so he sat down. The conversation at
first was rather general, and then suddenly:
"Did you hear anything of the Baroness B's. case, and how is she now?"
This unexpected question put Frank in a new light. I had to take
several puffs of my cigarette to think over my answer. Frank gave me
time to prepare the response in giving orders to the maitre d'hotel.
Quite a bit of time elapsed after he questioned me. I hoped for an
instant that he was going to forget about it, but, alas, when he was
through with his orders (from which I understood that he either had
become rich, or expected me to pay his check) he looked at me and
"Yes, sir, did you hear anything new of the poor Baroness?"
"Well," I replied, "the only thing that we all know: she is in jail."
"Your information," he smiled, "is quite old. They released her about
a day or two after this misunderstanding was cleared up."
"What do you mean 'misunderstanding.' You would not call such a case
so gently, I suppose?"
"Here we are!" Frank said, lowering his voice. "So you must know more
than the average person. I, personally, knew only that there was an
arrest, and a release (as I saw the Baroness) after they understood
that there was no reason for holding a perfectly loyal lady. I
think we should talk it over again, but not here. I read in the Town
Activities column that your wife went to Tula. Couldn't you join me
for dinner tonight at Contant, say at seven-thirty?"
My first impulse was to refuse him flat. Then I happened to think that
my avoiding him would perhaps somehow reflect on Maroossia for her
silly behavior with the package. Besides I was interested to know what
Frank would talk about, and to know what happened to the B. And again
it interested me to know what he was doing at present. So I hesitated.
"Please do, decide affirmatively," he begged. "I feel sure you will
not regret a good dinner."
"Very well," I said, "at seven-thirty."
After luncheon I crossed the street to see Mikhalovsky, whom I was
sure to find in the Club. He was going out with Polenov.
"Aha, dear boy!" Polenov said to me. "The wife is away, and here he
runs around like--... (his comparisons are striking, but very rough!)
Come on with me. There are no political parties or platforms at
Nadejda Stepanovna. A little lawyer, and an old soldier are equally
welcome. Nadejda Stepanovna just telephoned there are new ones."
The old fool! As if there was a single living being in the town that
would not know that all his pleasures were reduced to kissing a
new girl on the forehead and petting her behind the ears! Nadejda
Stepanovna told me how they all laughed watching Polenov through
the keyhole.... "Thanks," I said, "I am through with the Oficerskaya
Street." So he went alone, trying to look younger and straighter.
When he left I asked Makhalovsky to explain to me what happened to the
Baroness. He almost fainted.
"For heavens sake! Don't shout that damned name! There are ears
everywhere," he whispered.
He took me by the arm and dragged me all along the Morskaya, giving me
short and hard kicks as soon as I would open my mouth. And only when
we reached his room and he verified as to whether or not the door was
well shut, he said:
"Now what seems to be your question, and what in hell do you know
about her? Who told you that something happened to her?"
As this is the time when "homo homini--lupus," I said that nobody ever
told me of her, but having met Mikhalovsky at the Club I thought of
the Baroness and asked.
"Well," he said, "she was released." And Mikhalovsky became sad and
worried, looking humble and frightened.
"I am all tangled up, friend!" he said. "I think I am in mortal
danger. Last Friday Kerensky asked me to come to his office and said
she must be freed, and everything was a misunderstanding. He said he
had received proof; her arrest was a mistake. He also said that we all
must be careful about our arrests, "from the left, as well as from the
"Did the British Embassy intervene?"--"Not at all (it seems though
they never had heared of it)."
--"and here," he continued, "we received a letter signed by Executive
Committee, Department of Political Research, saying that unless the
whole dossier of the Baroness B. was burned, the undersigned of the
message reserved the privilege of knowing how to deal with it. Misha
was so disgusted with the letter that he went to see Kerensky,
and explained that a body of doubtful prerogatives and no official
standing had no right to insult an official institution by threats.
Kerensky read the letter, studied the attached signatures and said
"that he would not pay any particular attention to the letter, that
there was decidedly no reason to think that the authority of the
Department was offended, or held in contempt." He took the letter from
Misha saying that "as I see it affects you too much, I will make a
private and personal investigation and let you know when I get some
"Now," Mikhalovsky continued, lowering his voice, "Misha has
disappeared. He is not in the office. He has never come home since the
morning he told me all of that. When I asked his chief whether he knew
anything about Misha--I got an answer that he was looking for him
all over the city and could find neither Misha nor a dossier which
he needs more than Misha himself! I feel,--I know, Misha is dead. And
surely, all that in connection....
"Look here, Boris Platonovich," I said, "You must not feel so terribly
depressed about that story. Nothing happened to Misha ..." and I
continued in that tone of consolation, though I knew how weak the
Mikhalovsky shook his head. "Anyhow I won't let it pass so easily.
I'll try to know, and I'll try to clear it out...."
I left him with his head down on his hands, in an agony of sorrow for
Misha, and in an agony of fears for his own sake.
At about twenty to eight I entered the restaurant, having decided to
keep silent, to give no chance to the man to understand me not only by
questions, but even by the association of ideas: I decided to be like
stone. He was talking to a chap in the hall, a tall, pimply young man
of twenty-five, in the French style of blue khaki and with aviation
insignia on his sleeve. Frank left his friend and we both went to the
When we were through with our soup, Frank said:
"I have touched today upon the case of the Baroness. In fact you know
the story from many sources, especially from Mikholavsky.... Please,
please!" he exclaimed, when I made a movement of protest,--"don't. So,
if you are apt in making logical decisions and conclusions, you are in
a position to understand all. Don't try to destroy anything by going
around with your personal impressions, for it really would be bad.
The telegram he showed me read: "Michael Mikhalovsky's body found on
the track near Vyborg station four in the morning suicide presumed."
"There is no need for explanations," he said, in putting the message
back in his pocket, "nor sorrow--all is over. But it would be an
excellent idea to appreciate this mere fact properly, don't you think
"So," continued Frank, "to come closer to our own affairs, I must say
that a young and charming lady is leaving for Stockholm on a special
mission--I know not exactly what it is--and I must give her some
information, some of which could be furnished by you. Before I ask
you for this little information, however, I must clearly apprehend
one thing: do you feel sufficiently interested in anything closely
connected with the old regime? And if so,--how deep is your interest?
"I understand," I said, after a second of thinking. "I also get your
threat. Now--my answer will be clearer than your insinuations, as I
fear nothing that I cannot see." (what a liar I am!)
Then I assumed my best poker face and calmly continued:
"I don't know, and do not care to know, what you are after, Frank.
Personally--I cannot find anything in the old regime that I would
regret to any important extent. On the other hand--I honestly do
not see anything attractive, or particularly elegant, about the new
regime. Practically there is no regime whatsoever in this present
concoction of kuvaka and elevated ideas. So, finally, damn it all! I
would be grateful to a friend who would advise me how to get out of
any activity, and of course, would not consider any suggestion leading
me into it. My decision is plain. I resign. Then I realize all I can
and disappear from this rich field of political life. That's all,
He looked at me. He was very grave. And then suddenly his face changed
and he again became the chap that amused Maroossia and myself in
Marienbad a few years ago.
"So I feel, old man, exactly so," he laughed,--"aren't all of them the
rottenest types one ever saw? Trash, my dear sir, trash. And I greet
The tension which I felt at the beginning of the dinner disappeared
completely, and we began to talk about different things, remembering
the time when we met, and recollecting our mutual impressions of
1912-1913, when things and people seemed to be so very different. I
could not help, however, asking Frank at the end of our dinner:
"Are there any especial reasons to try and be foxy with me, or any
reasons to frighten me with mysteries?"
(_several lines scratched out_)
..."no such things as mysteries. This is the commonest of all planets
and everything is plain and entirely within the old three dimensions.
Some very cautious persons do not see the matter clearly--or
perhaps they are too stubborn to see it right,--and it makes them
suspicious.... You'll kindly forgive me," he added, "if I'll have to
After his departure--it was only about 9:30, as I had nothing to do,
I went to the New Club. No Misha there. I saw Boris Vlad. drunk as a
sailor in company with three or four other rascals; I think the short
one was the man from the Red Cross. In the card room--a gloomy game of
bridge, no word said unless for a real mistake....
So I came home and looked out of the window onto the deserted and
neglected streets of my Northern Palmira....
Millions of those who fell for their countries in Europe and Asia
paved the way for a general depreciation of life; human existence
has no more value. For years they were killing people on the battle
fields. It is justified.... They were killing lately, in Russia,
officers (for the reason that they were such.) It can be understood:
the crazy mob is not responsible. But what can one think of murders?
For reasons unknown to the murdered, and perhaps to the murderers.
Here are the results of three years of war, the results of three
hundred years of slavery.
Maroossia read the news of Mikhalovsky's accident in the papers in
Tula, and came yesterday.
"Nothing could stop me," she said, crying bitterly, and leaning on me
so that I would not be too angry. "Dearest, everything is so strange!
Misha's death, and Boris Platonovich's death!... Please, let us go
away somewhere, I cannot think of you, here alone...."
I told her that I had made arrangements to resign, and why it could
not be done yet. "Then," I said, "we will go to Gurzoof, where our
house is rotting without care". I succeeded in calming the poor girl,
explaining with all of the eloquence that I had, that Misha's suicide
and Mikhalovsky's accident in the lift had nothing in common, and that
both deaths were not to be put in the same angle of view.
Later she showed me a postal card from Misha, from Vyborg. He did not
sign it, but his characteristic handwriting spoke only too clearly.
"Wanted to send you some fruit," he wrote, "but here there is no
fruit, so you'll have to get some yourself from the South."
"Poor Misha, there was something strange about him before he killed
himself," she said. "I never asked him for any fruit. He was very
nervous, the poor boy, I see it! And to think that almost in his last
hour he thought of us!..."
Fruit from the south.... I see Misha's dead hand pointing to us the
way out of Petrograd. It is a warning, a cipher warning from the other
side of the grave; one more inducement to leave this filthy place.
I again hear that something is growing amongst the bolsheviki. There
are indications that if everything passes well for them--Kerensky will
join the movement, passing from the left social revolutionary party to
the commune. Both parties deal with internationalism, and finally the
only difference is that the bolsheviki act more energetically.
The country will then become an ideal state: people would not know any
laws, would not pay taxes, would not marry, or sell or buy.... Fine!
About the last, however, I have my doubts. There will be always
somebody to be bought in Petrograd. It is in the climate, I guess.
The Allies! Our Allies who were ready to fight Germany to the last
Russian soldier.... Do they understand that the fraternization at the
present time is so intense, that pretty soon the boches will get the
foodstuffs from the very hands of their Russian comrades? They must
know that at present there are only few men to be hanged. The war
will be won in a month. Tomorrow their number will be so big, that not
enough hangmen could be found in the world to clean up Russia,--unless
some Powers wish to see Russia amputated. This looks probable.
Today saw the British Major. He expressed his condolence for our
grief. I received the impression (or perhaps I am getting too nervous
and suspicious?) that he knows more than I.
Quite unexpectedly the Baroness B. came today to the office. At first
I did not want to see her, but then thought that it would be better
not to make these dangerous people angry, as heaven knows what they
are liable to do if irritated, and besides--she is so fascinating.
So she was shown in. She was veiled as much as only she could be,
for mystery and to conceal the slight and ingenious coat of rouge, I
guess. The usual feathers, rings and perfumes; and I had thought that
I would see an ascetic face tired out by seclusion! She said that she
had nothing serious to tell me, but had just run in to say good-bye
and calm me; she was not going to call on Maroossia: "too busy and
"I appreciate your other reasons," I said. "You have already shown
what a friend you are. Why did you drag Maroossia into your business?
You probably are well protected against any disagreeable event, but we
are not. So next time please, use your other reasons...."
"There was no dragging your wife into my business. The package of
laces she took to Madame van der Huechts is not a crime. Besides
everything is over; so, as if nothing had happened."
"Yes, it probably is nothing. Misha would be of a different opinion, I
"No, he would not."
There was a silence for a while, and then she said, sighing: (_line
illegible_...) "For instance, we wanted to give you the whole outline
inviting you to do something for your country--and you refused to
"Baroness," I said, "honestly and truly I don't understand these
speculations. Just as honestly and just as truly I don't care for
them, no matter what they are for. I hate this manner of operation.
The manner! I hate plots. I hate underground work, and the only thing
I care for--is my own comfort and my own affairs."
"You don't know what you are talking about," she said, "or the
atmosphere has made you so clever, that I don't know whether you
are trying to get something out of me or not. Very well, I _am
conspiring_. I am now with these people, with whom I would not have
thought of being--only three months ago. As soon as I succeed--I shall
leave all and become free and independent...."
Then she corrected herself; "I don't mean to say, of course, I am not
independent now, but.... What time is it?"
I told her.
"Thank you. So you see.... What were we talking about?... Ah, yes,
indeed,--how silly of me! Well so I am in a big game. It may seem that
I am in the wrong. But think of the time when there will be a moment,
when just a few persons, maybe only one person, will be able to appear
again on the stage and become the nucleus of regeneration? And if I
am wrong--and such moment will never come--it is so easy to get rid of
those whom many persons are trying to preserve...."
"Yes," I said, smiling at her enthusiasm and innocent cynicism.
"Please omit your insinuations and sarcasm, you bad thing. I only see
you are not patriotic, or you have something personal against me."
"You can judge better than others on this last point. It looks to me
as though you were wrong about the rest, however....
(_a page torn out_)
"... I saw Tatiana (don't ask me questions, if you please!) and the
girl said that there are only two acceptable ways: to be released
by the will of the people, or taken against their will, a kidnapping
staged. Other methods will meet with a refusal. That is why the
Emperor refused a formal foreign intervention, for it would place them
in a position of parasites with the "ex" title. After everything is
through--all of your Kerenskys--a parasite could not be popular and
desirable.... Well, she got up,--"goodby! Kiss Maroossia for me.
And here is a friendly warning: don't talk. _It is dangerous._ Don't
trust. _It is silly_. Write to Sophie's house in Paris--it will reach
me. So sorry we cannot be together!"
She left me.
Saw a real picture of the time: General S-sky in the Renault
with Joffe! Smiles and hand-shakes. Red arm-bands. The tall
Dolivo-Dobrovolsky from the Foreign Office was with this couple. In
January, when S-sky got his car he said: "I'd rather sell the car than
let a Jew ride in it," when Gunzburg asked to use the automobile.
Madame D's apartment was robbed. Nobody knows "how it happened."
The house guard keeps silent on the subject. Paul sent her a wire to
Kursk, very laconic: "home emptied everything stolen." Now he received
a reply: "Sublet unfurnished." She is a darling. Never saw such
energy. I wonder whether she is trying to get the Emperor out too?...
My interview with his Excellency is worthy of description. Since my
graduation from the Lyceum up to the present time--I have seen many
men of power; when young--they usually knocked me down by their
aureole of magnificence; with age I learned how to distinguish almost
unmistakably in the splendor of that scenery an idiot from a crook.
This one--was quite peculiar.
Kerensky made me wait for about one hour during which I had enough
time to ascertain that since the new regime the rooms had not been
dusted. So what Kerensky said to some foreigner: "Regenerated Russia
will not have recourse to the shameful methods utilized by the old
regime"--were untruthful words. The dust evidently was old regime's.
At the end of the hour (it was enough for Kerensky!) I decided to go
home and mail the resignation. When I got up, however, one of his men
(the young rascal was watching me, I am sure) entered and asked me to
step in. The staging of the reception was prearranged and intended
to impress the visitor; on the desk of the Minister I saw maps and
charts, specimens of tobacco for the soldiers, designs of the new
scenery for the Mariinsky Theatre, models of American shells, foreign
newspapers, barbed wire scissors, etc., etc., just to show the
newcomer the immense range of His Excellency's occupations and duties.
When I stepped in, Kerensky looked at me, posing as being exceedingly
fatigued in caring for the benefit of others. He almost suffered! He
never looked to me so exotic as at this moment: the Palace--and, at
the same time the perspiring forehead, the dirty military outfit. The
magnificence of power,--and the yellowish collar, badly shined
boots. He was glad of the impression produced on me, as I registered
disgust,--he, with his usual knowledge of men, thought it worship.
"Look how we, new Russians, are working"--shouted his whole
appearance, "look, you pig, and compare with what you have been
"Alexander Fedorovich," I said approaching him, "I thought I had to
bring my resignation personally. You'll find the reasons as "family
circumstances,"--and I gave him the paper.
He rose. With one hand on the buttons of his uniform and the other on
the desk, he believed himself to look like Napoleon. Like Napoleon
he looked straight into my eyes. But his weak and thin fingers were
always moving like a small octopus--Napoleon's were stronger.
"May I ask you the real cause of your resignation?" he said, vainly
forcing his high-pitched voice lower.
"If you care to know it," I said calmly,--"It is disgust."
Napoleon faded away from his face, and before me was again Monsieur
Kerensky, a little lawyer with whom I had once made a trip from Moscow
to Petrograd. A little lawyer who tried to please me and looked for my
"That's the appreciation of our work!... Poor Russia! She is deserted!
Here I am all alone to carry this burden"--and Kerensky showed with a
circular movement of disorder on his desk,--"But you," he continued,
after a pause,--"you! Why should _you_ be disgusted, and why should
_you_ leave us at this strenuous moment? Don't you see that the
building up of the state needs the full co-operation of every element
of Russia,--the new ones, as well as the old?"
I said that I did not think I was more of an old element than he, but
repeated my categoric decision.
As if wounded right in the heart, with a theatrical sigh, Kerensky
looked out of the window, then smiled bitterly, and took the paper
from me. "I grant you your request. I know what disgusted you,--and,
and--I understand. I hope you will not regret this step."
He sat down thus politely indicating the end of the audience. Here,
on his desk, I noticed one of the last numbers of the "L'Illustration"
with a large picture of himself on it, which he was studying while I
was waiting for his interview.
How easy I feel! Left to my own affairs, to my own business, all to my
very own self! Thank God! I never felt this way before.
And our national Tartarin of Tarrascon--at his desk in the palace,
with his people, always meeting polite and covetous eyes,--will
continue his hard work. Under every smile and every bow, he will
see--up to the grave, the veiled appreciation: "By God, what a small
thing you are." On the pages of history his name will forever remain
and look like the trace of a malicious and sick fly.
How glad I am that Maroossia went away! I feel more at ease though the
housekeeping is up to me.
There was more shooting and more of revolution, than heretofore,
during all of these days,--one more evidence that the building of the
new state is in full progress. Of course,--these days brought
Kerensky as high up as he only can go. Next will be his precipitated
downfall,--much speedier than his elevation. Why do the Allies make
this mistake of letting a worm like Kerensky endanger the cause--it
is a mystery ... though "there are no mysteries in this plainest of
Nahkamkes and Trotzky--found! and in jail, for the moment
being,--perhaps like the Baroness, or even easier! But the man, the
real German hound of Petrograd, Monsieur Ulianov-Lenin,--could not be
found. _Could not be found_ is true. He has not been looked for,
as any ass knows where he is. They send him meals from Felicien, or
Away from here! I must be going as soon as I get the things
Have wired to Maroossia that I am still alive, otherwise she is liable
to appear again. Elisabeth wrote a letter from Moscow and said that
"here--everybody is well and things look satisfactory. Food supplies
in abundance. All active in building up the state." Is she sick? Who
is building the state? We destroy.
They speak of putting the Emperor in jail,--the St. Peter and Paul
Fortress. On the other hand Polenov was told that Kerensky won't
tolerate any abuse to "private citizens." How about other private
So finally they all lost.
The Emperor was taken away,--and both Mikhalovskys died for nothing,
just looking for the plotters, I think, or, perhaps, they were
Mr. Kerensky did not dare to do it himself personally, as he used
to say it repeatedly in Tsarskoye. No! Lies usually led him to other
things: to give to the Family a "detachment of special destination"
under Col. Kobylinsky (a fine man,--Emperor's A.D.C. during the
Empire, and his jailer during the Republic!) and Monsieur Makarov,
under whose command they all left for Tobolsk. I had to buy a map.
Sorry to ascertain it, but I have always mixed up Tomsk, Tobolsk and
Yakutsk. Which was which was a puzzle to me. We Russians must be proud
of our perfect ignorance of Siberia.
Monsieur Makarov? Nobody knew him, but, of course, Polenov. "Oh,"
he said, when I told him the news, "Makarov. A man who looks like
Turguenev, smells of French perfumes, speaks of the arts and is a
contractor!?... Of course I know of him. He is from the "Brussov and
Makarov Contracting Company"--the rascal! Kerensky knew him long ago,
I am sure. The first thing when he got powerful he appointed Makarov
as something in the Ministry of Beaux-Arts!"
From what I learned afterwards from Admiral and B-tov, all of "the
rats of Tsarskoye" ran away. Only a few remained with the family:
Botkin,--Capt. Melnik, Countess G. and her governess, M-e Sch., and
Gillard. That's about all I guess that I know of--maybe some will join
them afterwards. I am so sorry I had to go to Tula when they took the
Family. I'd have gone to watch the departure with the Admiral.
Petrograd simply died. The city does not reflect a thing. All seem
to be satisfied with mere existence, and to have lost interest in the
rest of the world. They look animated when it comes time to converse
of food and clothes.... Funny, strange, weird city! They don't clean
the streets any more.... and everybody finds it natural. There is
nothing in the stores--and we feel perfectly at ease. The country is
being maliciously run down--and all repeat that fiction of building
Perhaps the only place that has not changed since its foundation is
the Club. The same old grouches are there, on the same sized seats,
with the same expressions of old indigestion and fresh gossip. Boys
keep up! The revolution will probably bring the sacred card games onto
the streets. Your progressive institution must preserve the classic
rules for the next generations.
People now are divided into two distinct camps: those of today, and
those of yesterday. The former--cover their disgust under a smile of
opportunism; kin and kind--don't. We hate each other, and envy each
other,--as we cannot see which way things will turn.... We will be
united only if the ones of to-morrow,--the commune, the third class of
people happen to take into their hands the war machinery. Then we both
will be crushed, annihilated, forgotten. It is coming....
Only five months ago--I had a wife, income, good food.... Only five
months ago--I had a country.
The mean and envious beast that lived in our midst,--as it lives in
every other country,--unseen, but felt, and always ready to crush the
acquirements of existing civilization,--_the mob_ came out from the
underground world; criminal hands let _the mob_ on the streets. Weak
and shaky fingers unlocked the trap; a magnificent gesture of an
ignorant Don Quixote invited the spies, the thieves, the murderers "to
make the New Russia."
I see foreign faces around me; I hear foreign accents in every line of
each new edict; I listen to the strange names of our new governors.
The Mob is in power; and the friendly faces of our Allies became dry
Looking backward--I try to find out whether there was a mistake of my
own, or my own crime, for which some unknown and heartless Judge is
now so severely punishing me?
* * * * *
Here I am, a graduate of the two best institutions in Russia and
Germany, a man with five generations behind me,--all thoroughbred,
all civilized, all gentlemen. Here I am in disguise--as apparently
thousands and thousands of other Russians are, just as bearded as
they, just as dirty, just as hungry, just as alone in the world.
My name is now Alexei Petrovich Syvorotka, formerly non-commissioned
officer, 7th of Hussars, born in the province of Kursk. I dress in
an old military overcoat, have a badly broken shoulder blade (second
degree injury at Stanislau), and as my documents say--have been
evacuated to Tumen, where I am supposed to receive my soldier's
ration. Syvorotka! Would you talk to a man with such a name?
This Syvorotka, a humble creature--a shadow of yesterday--has only one
thing of which he cannot be robbed, his only consolation: the sorrow
which he wears deep under his uniform jealously concealed from the
rest of the world.
My baggage--the handbag--was found.
Those peculiar things can happen only in the present Russia. She is
like a good make of automobile after a wreck. Everything seems to
be crushed and broken--machinery, wheels, glass, body.... Still some
parts are strong enough to keep moving. So miraculously there moved a
part, which brought my handbag here from Moscow,--the very first ray
of sun in my existence for a long time.
I came to the depot this morning--I had been coming every day since
Schmelin gave me the baggage check--and saw a few men unloading a
baggage coach. I approached them.
"Hello," I said to a tartar whose abominable face was covered with
pock marks, (nowadays one must always address the most hostile looking
person in a crowd, never the most sympathetic, for one should not show
any weakness to the mob), "any work"?
"Hello,--yourself," the tartar answered grouchily and without
looking at me, "there is. Don't let them skin you. Ask fifty rubles,
"Is that so?" I said, spitting through my front teeth onto a sidewalk
covered with gleaming white snow, "not me, damn them! Whose baggage?"
They did not answer--in their language it meant 'don't know, don't
care, and go to hell!'
On the coach I saw "_Moscow Special_" written with white stone and I
decided to take one more chance and ask for my handbag, presenting my
"It came at last," said the man in charge of the luggage depot, "thank
God I won't see your _muzzle_ any more. What's in it?"
"Since when has it been your business, your burjooi honor?" I said,
"You did not pay me for buying my belongings, so better keep your trap
I took the dear old bag--it was Maroosia's before, and came home.
What did Mlle. Goroshkin put in the bag in Moscow? I opened the rusty
lock--and found my silver toilet kit, razors, "La Question du
Maroc," on which the shaving soap had made a big yellow spot, Laferme
cigarettes, some linen (the thing I need the most), night slippers,
manicuring box, and poor Maroossia's fan,--she wired me to take it to
Gurzoof in the last telegram I ever got from her.
The fan was fragrant with her perfume on it; so I shed a few tears. On
the inside of the bag was written "All well, write often," and on the
bottom of the bag--was this book of my notes. I had decided to sell
the silver kit and the fan and get some money as I was very short of
it. Both the fan and the silver outfit looked so inharmonious in my
little room with a small window on a triste court with a yard full of
blindingly white snow.
Here is what brought me here:
I could not leave Petrograd on time on account of the house. Nobody
wanted it for 800,000. I waited and waited--day after day, week after
week. Many and many were giving me advice to leave and were warning
me, but I would not listen. When the wire came that poor Maroossia
was killed,--I lost interest in life completely. So I was living in
Petrograd, until the clash for the Assembly. Then,--perhaps my nerves
needed a good shaking up,--I became active again. I went to the Volga
Kama for my money,--the were already closed and gave me 150 rubles,
and allowed me to take another 150 in a week. I went to the Volkov's.
The clerk said that I had no right to withdraw more than 150. I knew
the man from Moscow well, and he recognized me from the time that I
was coming to Bros. Djamgarov Bank. He was really kind, and said that
he could at once arrange that I should receive 80% of my money and
the contents in the safe, out of which 10% should be paid to some
mysterious commissary. "I advise you to take it. The appetites are
growing, and perhaps to-morrow it will be more,--50% or 60%." I wrote
out some kind of understanding, by which I sold my rights on the
10th of October to a certain Kagajitsky. That was all fake, as my
arrangement was made about the 23rd of November, I guess.
My ticket, for which they asked me 12,000 rubles, was obtained through
the cook's sweetheart, and I left Petrograd on the 6th for Moscow on
the usual 12:30, and arrived uneventfully at the depot in Moscow next
morning at about 10:30.
On the stairs of the Nikolaevsky depot I stopped. Where was I going?
In fact I had never thought of it. I had no place, no destination, no
desires--nothing. Perhaps only one desire, to avenge myself and all of
So I hesitated, for in Moscow they had been shooting right and left
for the past week, persecuting the burjoois and officers. I had never
felt so helpless and so unnecessary to myself and to others as on this
snowy morning in Moscow. Besides, all of the way from Petrograd to
Moscow I had had a hideous headache and chills, and I was in a fog of
"Good morning, sir," said an astonishingly polite voice behind me, "I
congratulate you upon a safe arrival."
I turned around and saw a man of rather short stature, cleanly shaven,
and politely smiling with the whole width of his mouth.
"Good morning," I said, "I cannot place you, but you seem familiar to
me, I am sure."
"That's due to my former occupation, your Excellency. I am Goroshkin,
the usher from the Ekaterinensky Theatre. So sorry to apprehend of
your sorrow, Sir, in connection with her Excellency's death."
This man, Goroshkin, was a real friend to me, although I hardly
recollected him. We never used to pay much attention to the ushers!
There was no use in trying to go to a hotel with my appearance of
a gentleman and my pockets filled with money; my fever and my
indifference were growing; I had no desire to do anything for myself.
I think that Goroshkin understood me and the state of my mind when
he said, "May I venture to offer Your Excellency my humble house, and
perhaps call a doctor?"