Part 3 out of 4
This is as much as I remember of the next fortnight. I had a terrible
attack of typhus,--and when communists were killing the boys from the
military school, bombarding the Hotel National, destroying the Kremlin
and pillaging private homes, I was quietly lying in a little house
somewhere behind Sukharev Tower under the care of a doctor and
Goroshkin's fat sister, whose conspicuous parts of the corsage were
soiled from cooking, and whose face was always red and radiant. My
return to life, and with it my return to the desire for activity and
eating, was commemorated by the appearance at my bed of nobody else
One bright morning, when my room seemed to be full of sunshine and
hope,--a man in the uniform of a communist soldier with a red rag on
his coat sleeve, walked into the room bringing in a breath of fresh
and frosty air and a whole arsenal of munitions. I did not recognize
him at first, a little pointed beard and heavy boots had transformed
him into a regular "tovarishch."
"Hello," he said, "glad to know you're alive."
"Yes," I answered, "I am about the only one whom they have not
happened to exterminate, but it is coming"!
Marchenko smiled. "You should not stay here for very long," he said,
"It is getting dangerous and raids are being planned to finish with
the burjoois who are hiding in the outskirts of Moscow."
"Don't think," he went on, "that I am honestly with the communists. My
task is the same and if we failed to do something before,--now we know
we will be successful. Kerensky is out of the life, living evidently
under the friendly protection of Lenine; I think Lenine was the only
man that he did not attempt to double cross."
"Now," he continued, "let us speak of you. I think that you must
understand that the little services that were asked of you some months
ago would have prevented many, many disagreeable events. Behind you,
you can see only sad memories and mourning,--before you, the very dark
existence of a man in hiding. If you will join us, I could guarantee
you a more or less protected life,--of course you will have to care
for your own self, too."
"Please your Excellency," said the voice of Goroshkin behind me,
"don't refuse this time. If your esteemed father could have known the
circumstances, he would have consented, and he was a strict man. I
recollect that His Excellency would not deign to wait a second for his
"Very well, I accept," I said to Marchenko, "but I must say to you
that it is not for the protection you promise me. I do not care much
for my life, but I would like to preserve it. Not to die right now,
but hold it until the moment when I could avenge myself. And that's my
personal aim. As for your plan--it suits me--for it is a measure not
of Russia's good--but a weapon against our present enemy--the Red
Flag. And, I may add that in me you will find a disciplined man."
Goroshkin disappeared and came back with a bottle of Abrau-Durcot,
with which we celebrated my consent.
Indeed I had nothing further to think about. My task was to go to
Tumen in disguise, meet some people there, and through Goroshkin
communicate with Marchenko.
My instructions included....
(_a few pages torn out_)
Goroshkin brought me a passport of Mr. Syvorotka, with my description
and my particular marks (broken shoulder), documents and uniform, and
gave me a few names in Tumen which I had to remember and to whom on
behalf of Mr. Andrei Andreivich Vysotsky I should address myself.
"Your Excellency understands that nobody assumes any responsibility
for your safety. You just must be in touch with the people," he said,
"and be ready for what you were told to do, as we must have a man
in Tumen. If I may suggest, you should not speak or act like a
I decided to joke a bit with Goroshkin: "Go to hell, you old fool," I
said, "you damned plotter," and then I kicked a chair.
To my great astonishment not a muscle twitched in Goroshkin's face.
"Not bad, not bad," he said calmly, "but even your slang is a
gentleman's. Your Excellency should imagine having been born a swine.
That's the point. I should recommend more of silence, and if you
happen to speak,--a brief articulation, roughly conceived and
expressed. Don't bother at all with the person you are addressing."
The old man amused me very much that evening. I let him sit down
and he told me episodes of his life for about a couple of hours. For
thirty years he had been present at every performance in his theatre
and he knew the world better than I did, only by watching the artists.
January the tenth in the early morning at about six o'clock the fat
Mlle. Goroshkin entered my room clad only in a nightgown. That was the
only time I saw her pale and sordid, but she was just as uninteresting
as ever. "Quick! Get up," she said, "they are searching. Brother has
already left, and he said you must dress and get your documents and
run out. Go to Tumen, I'll send your effects there."
"They" was enough for me. I was all ready in two minutes, put all
of my money and jewelry in my hip pockets, assumed the aspect of a
wounded soldier and walked out. I barely reached Miasnitskaya Street
before an armored car full of working men and soldiers passed by at
about fifty miles an hour. Half a dozen bad faces looked at me. I
decided to continue calmly on my way, but I heard the car coming back
very soon sounding its siren. It stopped near me. "Come in, cavalry
man, there is a seat for one. They found somebody in Yousupov's
I stopped and scratched my neck. "It cannot be done, I am going to the
hospital. If I am late, I won't have the bandage changed today. Could
you take me to the hospital on the Devitche Pole?"
"Are you crazy?" said the man at the wheel, looking at me with fury.
"Comrades, do you think I am going to drive so far for his rotten
wound?" and without asking for his friends' consent, he turned the
machine and continued on his way towards Yousupov's.
This was my first interview with Russia's rulers.
I was stopped four or five times on my way to Deviche Pole. I took
this route just to show those that might have watched me that I really
was going to the hospital. Then I thought I could take a street car
to a station and go somewhere south, to Tula, for instance, then wait
there for a while and afterwards reach Moscow again (they cannot keep
on shooting and shooting always, I reasoned) and thence to Tumen. So
I continued along Miasnitskaya. Near the Post Office some people
approached me. "Where to?" they asked, and a woman caught me by the
arm. I made a suffering face. "For Christ's sake," I exclaimed, "don't
touch me. I am wounded!" They let me go and stopped a long, young
fellow in student's uniform. I saw them drag the chap away regardless
of his protests. "Comrades! It is a mistake! I am a member of a local
committee...." he attempted to protest,--but the woman said he looked
like a suspicious plotter and they all disappeared in a side street.
Near Milutinsky a man in the cap of a chauffer stopped me again and
asked me to follow him. "Where?" I asked, but he did not reply and
invited me to follow with a slight and nothing-good-promising-smile.
"Follow!" he said.
Near a small church, there was a hardware store which we entered.
About ten people were sitting on the counter. Among them were three
street girls, if I might judge by their appearance and manners.
Without saying a word, they all came near me, two men got me by the
shoulders, two others by the legs, and in one second, my pockets were
emptied, my diamonds went to the girls and a formidable blow on the
spine with the butt of a rifle threw me out onto the street. "If you
report," I heard a voice,--"You won't be able to count your bones."
That was really too much! All they forgot to take was a handkerchief,
in which I had put some money. With that I had to reach Tumen and live
Then I turned left and went by small streets toward the depot from
which I thought trains were running to Tumen. Where this Tumen was
I really did not _realize_. It should be somewhere east of the Ural
mountains, and all I recollected was that Cheliabinsk was the place to
buy a ticket. Near a large school, I think it was an Armenian school
or something, I stopped to rest and see how much money I had in the
handkerchief,--but as soon as I took the handkerchief out, a man of no
profession came to me and asked me to help him. While, like an idiot,
I tried to figure how much I could give him,--he helped himself,
grabbed my all and ran. All I could do was to send him a few greetings
in my best Russian, recollecting the sins of his Mother. That relieved
me, of course, but only as a palliative. I sat down near a door to
think over my situation. Again a motor passed and again someone asked
me who I was. I showed this time such a realistic indifference and
such a display of pure disgust with life, that the man at the wheel
inquired what was the matter. "Nothing, you beasts," I replied, "but
that some of your own scoundrels robbed me right now." "Get after
him," I continued, "perhaps you can rob him in your turn." I
thought they would shoot me; nothing of the kind--they became almost
sympathetic, and only asked how the man looked and which way he had
gone. "Hardware store," I said, "around the corner."
It was Saturday night when finally our train reached Tumen: a _voyage_
of eleven days by rail, by snow sledge, by foot, and again by rail,
was at an end. God! What a sojourn, what people, what disorder! People
full of onions, parasites, wounds, dirt, misery and fear! But still,
in all of their misery, amiable and sympathetic, at first always
desirous of helping the other fellow. Saturday night, and the church
bells were ringing sadly, desperately, as if they knew nobody would
come and pray. To whom? God had proved to be so far away from these
... The city,--and I shall continue to call it a city,--was dark and
dreary, and so cold that I resolved to spend the night at the depot
where it was warm at least. I bought some hot tea and a large loaf
of bread at the buffet, and, as a sick and poor soldier who knows his
place, I sat in a corner.
There were some people in the station--mostly peasants, one could
easily recognize such in them; quietly talking and drinking tea with
dignity and care and biting their sugar with the force of explosions.
They never put their sugar into the tea-tumblers. Later a man with a
disagreeable face entered the room and looked around. This was not
a peasant, I said to myself,--he would not take off his hat. The
newcomer was evidently looking for me, as when he noticed me, he first
bought some tea and a sandwich, and then, as if there were no other
place in the room, picked out a seat near me. "An enemy," I thought to
myself and buried my face in my supper.
The man wanted to talk, but evidently felt embarrassed.
"Cold outside, isn't it?" he asked.
A foreign intonation. No accent, however. A Pole or a Russian-German.
"Hm, hm, very!"
"Yes, severe climate, dog's cold. Going to stay in Tumen, or plan to
go further?" he asked after a pause.
"Going to stay, or going further,--what do you ask for? But if
it interests you--going to stay for a while. If I croak here, or
somewhere else--you aren't going to attend my funeral. So what's the
"Oh, nothing, nothing! You see I am a stranger here and lately
live practically at the depot. Am looking for a man by the name of
Vysotsky, so I ask almost everybody for the man."
"Vysotsky?" I asked, assuming an air of astonishment, "Vysotsky?"
(Marchenko and his crowd flashed through my mind, especially in
connection with my mission)--"no, I don't think that I know anyone by
"Here, here," the man laughed, shoving me with his shoulder, "lay it
out, old man, you _must_ know him"
"No, Comrade" I responded. "You probably take me for some one else,
indeed. I am Syvorotka of the 7th Hussars. We had a man by name
Vysotsky, a sub-lieutenant, but I don't think it's the one you are
looking for: the Vysotsky I knew has been taken prisoner, at Lvov,
or at the Sziget Pass ... yes, at Sziget Pass, of course. Vysotsky,
Vysotsky, what was the Christian name, perhaps that would help me
"You white-collared trash!" my man suddenly became angry, "you can't
fool me about his first name. Don't be too slick. I'll tell you" (he
started to whisper very low and knocked on the table with his finger)
"they will jail you right now, if you don't tell me why in the devil's
name you came here. Aren't you going to tell me? No? Very well, I'll
fix you for life, you damned Russian swine! Hope you'll choke on your
That's how he ended his friendly wishes, and left me in a fury.
But when someone threatens and is in a fury there is no immediate
danger, I know. It is true in every case of life. So I was quiet for
the night. I put my overcoat under my head and slept all night.
Next morning I began to work ... (_several pages missing_.)
(_First letter to M. Goroshkin_)
"Madame L. obtained from the Princess G-n some particulars. So
in addition to the reports forwarded to you through Hatzkelman, I
herewith send you more:
The Tsar's family arrived in Tobolsk from Tumen on the S/S "Russ"
September 3rd, together with SS/SS "Kitai" and "Petrograd." On the
last two were the accompanying persons and the "Detachment of Special
Destination," with Col. Kobylinsky in command, and Mr. Makarov
supervising the voyage.... For three days the "Russ" was lying near
the pier, for the Governor's Mansion was not yet ready for occupancy.
So nobody was allowed to go ashore. During these days crowds of
people were assembled near the piers, and though in the mob there
were certain evil agitators, the people in general were sympathetic,
understanding the exile as a "dreadful plot of Ministers against the
Emperor." The Heir was the center of the attention of the Tobolians,
and his personality was not at all blasphemed.
The Emperor and the Empress, with the children, were finally put in
the Mansion,--by the way its name is now "The Home of Liberty,"
which is on the main street of Tobolsk,--the Great Piatnitzkaya, also
renamed now into Liberty Street.
The Governor's Mansion is a three-story stone house, white, with a big
entrance hall from Tuliatskaya Street, there is not any entrance from
Liberty Street. There is a small square place before the entrance.
Here they built up a fence, not very high. They fixed the fence so
that no one can go over it, as the boards are trimmed sharp and have
nails. All the windows look onto Liberty Street. On the opposite side
of Liberty Street are private houses. Right across the street is the
house of Kornilov Brothers, also a stone building; three stories, and
in this house are those who went with the family in exile.
There are sentinels around. On Tuliatskaya Street near the fence--at
its ends and in the middle,--three soldiers, on Liberty Street--four
soldiers; two soldiers near the entrance hall.
Though the entrance is fenced, one can see the street from the house,
also from the street one can see what is going on on the stairway.
In the Kornilov House (both Kornilovs are away) are living: Dr. Botkin
with his son Gleb and Miss Botkin; Dr. Derevenko--a man with the same
name as the tutor of Alexis; Monsieur Gillard, a Swiss instructor of
the Hier; Captain Melnik (I heard that he is going to marry M-elle
Botkin); Lady-in-waiting Countess G.; M-me Schneider and several
others; I shall give you their names in my next letter.
The Emperor and the Empress used to have certain liberties, they could
even go to church. But then no one was admitted there, unless they
could get in under the pretext of being singers in the choir. Many
were going,--used to go to the Anunciation Church. They would put
soldiers all of the way from the Mansion to the Church. Reports are
coming that these church parades are stopped and a chapel is being
built in the Mansion.
Shortly after their arrival, Mr. Kerensky sent two boxes of wine
to the Tsar; the soldiers broke the boxes. They do not want any
"luxuries" for the exiles. The Empress has no coffee--it is a luxury.
But otherwise the attitude is not too bad. M. wrote that under the
charming manners of the Tsar and especially the Heir, before the
Soviet rule came, the soldiers very often changed their manners, their
revolutionary hearts were melting--and then Col. Kobylinsky used
to send those "soft rags" back to Petrograd, for they might be
Kobylinsky himself was trying to maintain good relations with the
soldiers, with Kerensky (who promised him promotion) and with the
family through Kornilov's House, for the Emperor, like everybody else
in Tobolsk, despises him. The Emperor has never said anything to or
about Kobylinsky directly, however. Once only, when Kobylinsky was
changing sentinels he bumped into the Emperor, and the latter said'
"Still a Colonel?" That was really a sarcastic remark! Of course, now
with the Bolshevik! everything has changed and the Family's position
is very bad.
I am well, send me some very thick socks if you happen to have an
opportunity. Greetings. Attached--a map of Tobolsk.
(_several pages missing_)
When I returned from the Princess, tired and worried about the absence
of news from Moscow and about the whole "organization" so badly and
unsystematically managed, I found a dark figure sitting on my bed. A
woman was attempting to light a candle. But even before I understood
who was on my bed, the odor of a woman, fine perfume, burned hair and
soap--struck me very strongly. I had quite forgotten during all
this time of hardships this side and these agreeable ingredients of
civilized life. I took my pistol, closed the door, and always sharply
following the movements of the dark figure, approached her, pointing
the Browning. She put her hands up.
When I finally saw the woman,--I almost fainted: it was the Baroness
B., friend or enemy, but she.
She did not recognize me at first. Then:
"For God's sake!" she muttered, as if to herself, and swallowing the
words, "you are Syvorotka? My God, what a horror!... How are you?"
"Madame," I said, kissing her hand,--"it certainly is a surprise,--I
hope for both of us! How can I explain your presence here? Who and
what brought you here?"
"It does not matter--they went away," she answered. She was looking at
me with wide-open eyes, in which I noticed the sincerest amazement, if
not stupefaction. "Syvorotka, you! How perfectly crazy you look with
this beard! If you only knew!" and silvery laughter unexpectedly
sounded in my poor quarters--in this place of mourning and sorrow--for
the first time since I have come here.
"Oh, you _must_ shave it!"
"Let my beard alone, pray," I said. "It really is not the time for any
personal remarks. Besides--look at yourself; there is more paint on
your cheeks than flesh. And this wig! To tell the truth I like your
own hair far better. Your wig is outrageous. You look like a bad
"Exactly. That's what I am now. Lucie de Clive, Monsieur, a vaudeville
actress. That's me."
"A nice party, isn't it?" she said. "Syvorotka and Lucie?" "But--tell
me before everything else, can I stay here?"
"Stay here? Pardon me, Baroness...."
"Call me Lucie, please...."
"Pardon me, Lucie, but really I don't quite comprehend. In these
times, of course, everything has changed; but still I wish I could
understand it correctly...."
"Oh, yes, you will not be bad to a poor girl, Alex, will you? I simply
have to stay here--I have no other place to go."
To show her resoluteness, she took off her shabby overcoat and started
to arrange her belongings, an impossible suitcase and something heavy
rolled in a yellow and red blanket, looking to me from time to time
with curiosity and doubt.
"Lucie de Clive! A woman certainly could not think of anything less
snobbish even in these circumstances. You look like a real Russian
Katka-Chort in this outfit."
"That's what is required. How did you happen to pick out _your name_?"
We both laughed. Indeed, if our meeting were compared to all the
luxury and brilliance of the Cote d'Azur, or Petrograd--it was
laughable. "Have _we_ anything to eat?" she asked.
"I came home for my supper," I said. "I have some trash in the
While I was preparing in the so-called kitchen something nice out of
a piece of frozen pilmeni--hashed meat and an old can of sardines (my
pride) she began to arrange the room. She acted as if she were trying
to justify her presence, it was clear. But with all the pleasure of
seeing someone around my house, I simply could not think what had
happened to her. Baroness B.--a lady who would not hesitate in olden
times to play a thousand pounds on a horse or order ten dresses at
Paquin's,--here, asking my hospitality! If she were a Russian--I could
understand it,--wives of Privy Counsellors and Ambassadors are selling
cheese in Petrograd now. But she--a Foreign Lady?... It was clear, she
was in some intrigue as usual, and it had led her too far.
Possibly she is after me.... And besides--her very presence would
affect my work, and endanger myself. "I must give her something to
eat, and then get out of here. The L. would keep me for a while,
and then I shall go away. Let her stay in this house with all of her
strange intrigues, for I cannot throw her out."
Thus trying to understand, I finished my cooking and asked her to the
_salle-a-manger_--the same little kitchen.
But no matter how proud I felt of my housekeeping, the Baroness found
fault with everything. "Don't _we_ have a table cloth? Or napkins?
What are these daggers for?"
"Good God, Syvorotka," she said, "_we_ cannot live in such a miserable
way. I'll have to change it. There are no reasons why _we_ should
revert to cannibalism!"
Talking in that manner, jumping from one subject to another and always
very nervously, she arranged the table more or less decently, and even
put the salt in the lid of a little powder box. "Now," she said, "I
want you to wash your hands, and comb your hair, and brush your khaki,
and ..." until I got almost civilized.
When we were through with the meal and a half of bottle of beer (they
call "beer" this indecent looking beverage in Tumen) I asked her what
brought her to Tumen?
She told me some story--of which I believed only the fact that she
was here, in my house, and that a great embarrassment had fallen on my
"I'm glad," I said, "you _did not_ change at all, Lucie. It is just
as true--all this story of yours, as the one you told me in Petrograd.
But I have no use for reforming you. Now--take me as an example of
sincerity: in me, my dear lady, you see now, nothing but a poor man
in hiding. All for me is in the past.... And you,--I see it--are still
plotting, nothing could persuade me that you and I are here by mere
coincidence. You come to me--have time to curl your hair--and you even
don't tell me whether your intrigue could reveal my existence to
those that persecute me. You wouldn't hesitate to pass over my dead
body--for the sake of your affairs.... Again,--please do not feel
offended,--there is another side. I am a working man. Tomorrow I
must be at my job early in the morning. The night is growing old. So,
regardless of other things,--what would you advise me to do now?"
"I have nothing to say," she answered sadly and in a low voice, "You
are the Lord here."
"What do you advise me to do?" I repeated growing angry.
"I'll do anything you say," she answered blushing and lowering her
head, "I am ready."
"Lucie," I said, "It is not a question _of that_. You see I cannot put
you out on the streets. A good master would not do it to his dog. But,
on the other hand they have not yet built the Ritz here."
"I am not asking you to go from your house, Alex. I had for a
moment,--when I saw who Syvorotka was--a little ray of sunshine. I see
I am mistaken. Could you take me to the depot, then?"
"I shall do nothing of the kind," I answered. "Nobody warned me you
might come here. I was not ready. So--please stay here for to-night.
I have a place where I can find an abode, and tomorrow we can decide
what to do. There is some frozen milk in the pantry and if I don't
return--right where you are sitting in the mattress there is some
money. Good night, Lucie."
"Alex, are you really going?" she asked taking me by the arm, "Are you
_really_ going out just not to be with me? Is it a pose? Or are you
serious? Please don't do it...."
"Good night," I said and went out.
A night in a small city of Siberia! One can see only because the snow
is white. No moon, no electricity.... Where is my new Peugeot now? Who
is driving it now? Where is Anton? Whose chauffer is he now, and is
he still a chauffer, or has the wheel of fortune turned and made him
Commissary of Arts, or Commissary of Public Health? Or, true to his
master, was he hanged defending my automobile? Kismet!...
There were only two blocks to the L.--but the snow was so deep and it
was so windy and cold, it seemed to me a good mile, till I reached the
It was dark as usual. As usual it seemed dead. But, when I was quite
close to it, I heard some movement inside and I detected something in
the yard. This something materialized very soon into a couple of evil
faces and rifles with fixed bayonets. Inside of the house there were
muffled voices. Near the rear gate (I could see it due to the sloping
of the lot) three horses and a snow sledge were standing. A few
voices were raised in dispute in the barn, swearing a blue streak.
"Arrest"--it was clear. When I was trying to think of something to
help,--and what could I think of?--the double pane of the bedroom
window was suddenly broken by something heavy thrown from the inside
and a desperate piercing voice of Pasha--I immediately knew it was the
poor girl--shouted with all of the strength of her lungs: "Help, help!
In Christ's name, help...." The cry was broken off in the middle,
muffled by the palm of a hand, and became a mutter of despair and
horror: "M-p-p, maa...." Somebody stuffed a white pillow in the hole.
Again all became quiet.
Then the front door suddenly opened and a man jumped out into
the street; another,--a short fellow clad in a wild Siberian
overcoat,--appeared on the stairs, aimed a Mauser and fired at the
man's back. I scarcely had time to sit down behind the fence.
Ff ... ap ... Ff ... ap ...--sounded two dry, sharp shots. The first
man took two more steps--and rolled in the snow, feebly groaning from
pain. A black trickle of blood swiftly ran along the snow near my
knees. The Siberian overcoat looked at his victim and with "you,
damned carrion," slammed the door. Again all was dark and silent.
The man was indeed dead when I reached him. He had a package of
something wrapped in paper--so I took it,--I thought it might be
something belonging to Ls.
All that was pretty bad, and I did not know how to get away,--my
position being really a poor one in a strategic sense of the word.
I had to escape without attracting too much attention. When I was
thinking over how to do it--a voice called:
"Bist du dort, Swartz?"
"Ja wohl!" I answered as nonchalantly as I could, having covered my
mouth with my glove, "soll' ich noch warten?"
"We'll be through in a minute. Wait a while!"
I did not wait. Through wind and snow, crawling like an Indian, I
passed the dangerous spot near the gate where I could be seen, then
hurried home, almost crying for the poor Ls., and Pasha--such a sweet
girl, probably at that moment being nationalized--condemning all and
everything and especially the impossibility of helping my unfortunate
friends. All was frozen inside of me, due to the cold and this fear of
a helpless creature.
When I was about a score of yards from the house--shooting started
behind me--just as idiotic as in Petrograd or Moscow: in every
direction, bullets cracking the windows, the street lamps, the
passers-by,--on this occasion myself,--I got a bad one in the sleeve,
right near the elbow.
I did not have to knock at the door as I feared running home: the door
flew open, and Lucie dragged me in, closing the door behind me on the
"Oh, I am so glad you came! Silly man! Are you wounded? No? I heard it
all--I was so afraid that they had shot you! I am so glad, Alex dear!
Do stay here, I won't be in your way, honest. Please do stay!..."
(_Second letter to M. Goroshkin_)
"I must bring to your attention the fact that a certain lady, whom I
knew in Petrograd in other days, came here quite unexpectedly, under
the name of Lucie de Clive. She was in the plot in June, and at that
time was very strongly protected by A.F. K-y, who released her from
jail. She is an Englishwoman, but knows Russia well, as in fact,
she knows all European countries. She came here the day the L's were
killed and Pasha taken away. She made me understand that she is in a
new plot to save the Emperor's family. Her task will be to stay here
for a while "and make some preparations" and then go farther on.
I must tell you that her arrival here is of great inconvenience to
me: in a city like Tumen it became known to the G-ns, and, though
the Princess thinks I am nothing much and _her_ morals are not for my
class of people, she is a little hypocrite and pulls a long face at
I tried my best to avoid having this lady in my house; but the
president of the local soviet, who has a great respect for me as
Marchenko's protege, allowed me a short stay for the lady; I explained
to him that she is my old affinity--"a civil wife." Therefore, he
found it a sufficient reason, but did not like it much, and I am
afraid his trust in me may diminish.
Now things have turned out in such a manner that I cannot possibly
throw the lady out of my home: but what I want you to do is to notify
me at once whether you know something about this arrival and whether
Lucie is working for the same purposes. I don't trust her much; she
feels it, and plays a strange game with me, the part of an enamored
woman. This does not interfere with her writing (and receiving) some
correspondence. She takes the letters out when I am busy, so I cannot
trail her. I'd rather go away from here, leaving her; I would not care
much to be obliged to watch her. There are certain ethics which would
prevent me from liking to trail this particular lady.
I was greatly surprised when I heard that Mr. Kerensky was living in
the Rossia Insurance Company Apartments, Pushkarskaya 59, Flat 10. If
so, why this game of the Smolny crowd? Why not take him? The man of
whom I wrote you in my last letter states that K-y is now planning to
go to Stockholm and that a passport will be given to him by the Smolny
Institute. Please communicate that to Marchenko. Schmelin says it is
not his business. The ring was taken from K-y. Nothing new in Tobolsk.
The Empress has been sick for the last ten days.
(_Third letter to M. Goroshkin_)
"As I told you in one of my letters, the actions of some people in
Tobolsk are more or less significant.
Father A. Vassiliev has become welcome to the Emperor and has all of
his confidence. We tried to warn him of this pope, but I don't think
it worked, for they know that Vassiliev received some very important
documents from the Emperor, and also his revolver and sword for
At present there is an organization in Tobolsk helping the family with
money and food; the Ordovsky-Tanaevskys, the Prince Khovansky's family
and the Budischevs. The latter house is on Rojestvensky Street about
four blocks from the Mansion. Bishop Hermogen comes often, as well as
Bishop Irinarch and some others. None are really good. The Empress
is sick--the same old nervousness. The Heir is all right, barring a
little accident--he fell down stairs and got a bad bump on his head.
They say that the Bishop received a letter from the Dowager Empress
which was brought by a German war prisoner. Others think that this
letter was an act "de provocation" and has been fabricated by the
Bolsheviki to circulate a bad story about the Bishop.
They speak a great deal about taking the Emperor from here to European
Russia and the whole family is scared.
The situation is very precarious: there is a decided tendency on
the side of the Bolsheviki to take the family away--some say,
to Ekaterinburg, others to Berezov; deputies from Petrograd and
Ekaterinburg, arrived in Tobolsk asking the local soviet to give up
the family. The members of the "Detachment of Special Destination"
do not allow that, saying that the Family will be given only to
the Constituent Assembly and the population is on the side of this
detachment. There may be an outbreak. In certain houses there are
firearms. The situation would be better if the soldiers from the
detachment had been paid; but since last September they have not been,
so discontent is growing. Colonel Kobylinsky's behavior seems to be
The Ufa movement is gaining in strength.
(_Fourth letter to M. Goroshkin_)
"In case you would like to eliminate the work of my companion,--let me
know, and it could be very easily done: she could be taken out of the
house and put on the train going in any direction. Schmelin would help
in this case. Then I would go away, for instance to Ekaterinburg
or Omsk. I shall wait for your letter in regard to this, and in the
meantime I'll remain just as I am now. Please do not let me stay in
my actual position. I simply refuse to be aiming at her back with a
concealed dagger. Even as it is, my life is untenable--the way I live,
and the people I have to meet, make it perfectly horrid...."
(_end of letter missing_)
I never knew that a wireless apparatus for a range of more than one
hundred miles could be such a small thing. Really this war has brought
about some wonders, and it is clear to me this particular station,
that was delivered yesterday, is a military outfit. I remember little
about wireless telegraphy; only few explanations given to me by
Capt. Volkhovsky, and after the very solemn inauguration of the
"Spark-Radio" we had a gala-performance. It is but a superficial study
I cannot understand this strange silence of Goroshkin. Is he dead? If
he is dead--what happened to Marchenko? Are they both dead? Now since
the Ls are gone and Pasha has become some Bolshevik's property (poor
little thing!) I have no idea what to do. Shall I consider myself in
the game, or did the whole organization end; shall I continue on my
own behalf? I have been thinking, and thinking about it, and have
decided that I must continue my informative functions, and must wait
as I have been told. They said I shall be on my post--and I must
remain. The absence of letters does not mean much: they can be in a
terrible situation in Moscow now--we know nothing. If my letters have
not reached Goroshkin--they have reached somebody else; in the latter
case I would have been hanged long ago, or shot, or something similar,
if the letters did not reach friends.
Lucie? Well if she is not the crookedest woman! I do not think I could
get rid of her now even if I would. Schmelin knows of my going out
of town, it is clear. Of course he closes his eyes,--but I never can
doubt that he will be the first to "put me on a clear water" as soon
as he apprehends that the other commissaries know of my wanderings and
trading with the Letts, and of what is now under our bed.
Something new: Lucie received a rubber bath, so I have to warm up the
water and then wait....
(_end of page missing_)
... She would come back, as soon as I shall be ready putting the wires
instead of the ropes in the yard for drying the linen. I was glad to
know it. Certainly. Personally I am very glad to see her around: she
is a nice little woman when she does not plot. It is agreeable to
have tea at five and then everything looks so clean and neat since
she came. Good God, should she be simply a nice little Lucie! How
agreeable everything could become--as if there were no Revolution, no
Bolsheviki, no Emperor.... But no; Fate has to put a drop of tar in
a barrel of honey. However, perhaps I would have hated to see a cook
around here: as soon as a woman gets too domestic--she infallibly
becomes unattractive. As for Lucie--enclosed in a cage as we are--I
never saw her unwashed, uncombed, frivolous or unladylike. So let her
be a plotter. I must be grateful as we never quarrel.... She sends me
(_end of page missing_)
(_Fifth letter to M. Goroshkin_)
"... a man by name Alexander Petrovich Mamaev from Novo-Nikolaevsk.
He has a plan of his own, which he wants to accomplish. He has some
people working for him, nothing serious, if I may judge. Mamaev's plan
is being worked out this way: his people will buy out the sentinels
and take the Emperor and the Heir (perhaps the Princesses, but, as he
says "the old woman will never be considered") and rush both eastward
by the old highway. On the stations Mamaev's people are now hiring
horses and coachmen. They have collected money amongst the merchants.
They plan to take the Emperor as far as Blagoveshchensk-on-Amur.
Thence to San-Haliang, on the Chinese side of the river. From
San-Haliang somewhere out of the country,--I never heard where to. The
organization works successfully in the region of Tomsk, where all is
ready for immediate action.
There is much imagination in Mamaev's plan, and though I know his
preparations are watched in Ekaterinburg, they do not meet with
approval at all. Captain Kaidalov of the Crimea Horse Regt. is now the
soul of Ekaterinburg and he does not approve. He is a fine fellow, I
know, and very courageous: he went to the local soviet, became their
confident and _persona grata_ and I think is virtually the only one
who really understands the problems and realizes their difficulty and
their danger. Please let me know whether I should inquire any longer
about all of this!
Sunday she came back from the trip. I felt quite lonesome all of this
week. Two men were with her: one--a Russian, the silent type, with a
big hat, who was taking care of the horse: the other, a tall, broad
faced Anglo-Saxon fellow, whose bronzed face would be appropriate
in the tropics but not on the white steppes of Siberia. A little
longhaired pony brought the trio in a fancy sledge early in the
morning. The Englishman (his name is Stanley) started to work with
the radio, silent, serious, smoking a short black pipe. He took me for
Lucie's servant. If I had had any doubt of his nationality, I never
could have mistaken his tobacco: Navy Cut,--_the one make_ I can't
tolerate. He filled our small house with blue clouds of stink. When
they all came I ran to the sledge, but from a distance Lucie signaled
to me with her eyes that no tender expressions were needed. She sent
me out for food, then to a drug store, then to the post-office, etc.,
etc. I obeyed.
So around noon I went to see the Princess. They all make me sick,
especially since the L. tragedy. "If God does not help--we cannot." A
certain Mme. K-v is now hanging around her. A suffragette--that's what
she is. She said "some women are now here--we know nothing about ..."
alluding of course to me. I hardly could wait until evening.
It was evening when S. finished connecting the kitchen station with
the city current. When I came home he and the Russian were trying to
harness the pony. The poor little horse was choking from the smoke of
his pipe and trying to bite the torturer.
"Say, Lucie," the Englishman said to her, as shivering in my overcoat,
she came out to say good-bye to him, "the benzine is in the barn,
over there under the hay. Tell your man to be careful and not to smoke
"If it did not explode after your pipe, sir," I replied in my best
Shakespearian, "my cigarette won't do any harm. So don't be alarmed."
It took him about half a minute to digest the fact that I could
understand his cockney. Lucie became almost hysterical with laughter
and ran into the house.
Then he made a serious face and sprang into the sledge and the Russian
flicked the horse with the whip. Near the corner, I saw him say
something to the Russian and they turned back.
"Say," the Englishman asked, "are you English? Or Canadian, I fancy?"
"Never mind me, Major or Captain, or whoever you are. I'm just I.
Don't fancy, and proceed. I'm busy."
I closed the gate and heard another formidable crack of the whip on
the pony's fat flanks.
Hundreds of bells started ringing again, and then died away in the
distance, drowned out by a locomotive whistle....
And here I was in my room again. In the corner stood Lucie, lovely
creature with all her funny actions and thoughts, Heaven knows by what
and whom inspired.
"Look what I brought, Alex! Here are canned goods, and chocolate and
coffee, and ham, and ..." and she threw package after package on the
bed. On one of them I read "Army and Navy Calcutta," but said nothing
and looked away. I'm getting sly. She noticed it too, the little
devil! She sent me out to see whether or not the gate was closed, and
when I came back the label was scratched out.
(_Sixth letter to M. Goroshkin_)
"There are, virtually, three--or perhaps more--organizations, members
of which have decided to save the Emperor from imprisonment. They
all realize the danger of letting things go on by themselves, or of
relying upon German promises.
The latter are well known here and in Tobolsk from Bolshevik sources.
When during the Brest-Litovsk _pourparlers_ the Russian Delegates were
waiting for the Germans, the latter entered the room of conference,
and found it filthy with smoke; the Bolsheviki were extremely
hilarious, and laughed and joked among themselves. To show his
independence Monsieur Trotsky was sitting on the table; others were
without collars and in the most unrespectable state of humor. When
the German delegation entered they did not move; the leader of the
Germans, an old general, stopped for a moment, looked at them in
disgust, and then suddenly shouted: "Stand! Attention! Get up, you,
Electrified--they all got up, Trotsky first, although with the remark
"For why"? The General continued:
"By order of His Majesty the King and Emperor, I declare that there
is at Tobolsk in your hands the relative of my August Master,--Her
Imperial Majesty the Empress of Russia with her consort and children.
Until this is arranged--we shall not proceed with this conference of
ours. We demand your guarantees that 1st--you vouch for their perfect
safety; 2d--you immediately will take steps to deliver the prisoners
abroad. Now, at rest! Sit down!"
I was told that the delegates from the soviets had the authority to
vouch for them in this regard, for they say unofficially that the
matter had been previously taken up by Russian and German diplomacy.
So a telegram was sent by Joffe to Lenine, who answered, "measures
taken." Then the Brest-Litovsk sale commenced.
This evidently was not fulfilled, although I have heard that there is
certain movement on the part of Germans, especially amongst the
war prisoners. I consider it impracticable. At present the military
situation is as follows: the Czechs are nearing the Samara-Zlatoust
line; in Siberia--there is a very big movement of Czech war prisoners
and Russians--to assist the Czechs in their task of reaching the
Pacific. Battles are raging on the Volga front. It is evident that the
salvation of the Family cannot come from Germany, for there would not
be any place and way to take the Emperor out of Tobolsk, but by way of
the Trans-Siberian,--a long journey with no possibilities of getting
out of this country. The local Bolsheviki are beyond the control
of the centers. They want to "govern" themselves--evidently with no
orders and particularly confidential (I think this one would be such)
would not be executed.
The Ekaterinburg organization is weak as I already wrote you. First
because the organization is in Ekaterinburg and the Emperor in
Who are these people? They want first of all, and altogether,
restitution for the sake of getting good positions for valuable
services rendered the Family. They all see that the restitution is
problematic,--so their desire is not strong. They act weakly, they
think lazily, they move with an agony of indifference. All that they
have done is certainly known to Kobylinsky and--to the Commissaries.
And if they are not yet all arrested--it is because the sovietists
want to know their actions. If the damned lack of organization, that
we all are suffering from, can be noticed in our present life--it is
ideally clearly seen in the Ekaterinburg circles. The Princess G. and
others are of the same sort; dully thinking, believing in and hoping
for marvels and miracles, trying to look busy and tired. They gossip
about each other, they are ready to sink each other in a spoonful of
water. Now what is their plan? They haven't any,--at least, nothing
definite. They all say vaguely "we are going to buy out Col.
Kobylinsky and the sentinels and the Bolsheviki." All right. Supposing
there were someone among them who would go and try this buying
proposition? Supposing they were to buy Kobylinsky, and the sentinels
and the Bolsheviki. What will they do with the Emperor? Against them
there would be the whole world. There is no way for the Ekaterinburg
people to get him out, just as there is no way for the Germans. All is
closed for them, except a crazy scheme of taking the Family into the
interior, which I do not consider feasible. It is impossible. I was
told to watch all that I could in connection with the move in Tumen;
I was instructed to watch the Ekaterinburg organization and the
Princess. I hope I am not considered a member of this organization as
it is a failure, and I hate to participate in deadborn adventures.
Again there is the work that Lucie is doing. I do not know for whom
she works, though I can see she is not working by herself. I can see
that there is 1st, a certain participation of people with means--she
has money and certain buying capacities, a sign of great importance
at present: 2d, there is evidently a planned and systematic scheme
of work in all the actions around me; 3d, there is an unseen hand
directing the whole enterprise, decisive and strong.
What is this plan? I can as now see only one thing: provisions are
made, both in food and munitions, and shipped through my home east.
There is an intense wireless communication--I cannot know what it is
about. A man in smoked glasses comes every evening and sits--near the
apparatus. Sometimes he only listens in; sometimes he gets his "tune"
and talks. In the latter case, Lucie goes down town and leaves me at
home. I think she mails the communications or maybe someone waits for
her in the post office, or, what is possible....
(_few lines scratched out_)
... Her Russian is not at all good, she hardly speaks it in fact, but
she gets along as Lucie de Clive, a French demoiselle. With her,
as far as I can see are the following elements: 1st, the British
officer,--Stanley, or whatever his name really is; 2d, the silent
Russian, with wiry Siberian hat and extremely profane language (I
think he swears when praying): 3d, two Letts as she calls them, though
there is just as much Lettish in them as in you, or me,--they both
speak Russian like Russians; 4th, myself. About the last point I can
tell, that lately I am in the traffic business. Lucie asks me very
often to take loads to the outskirts of Tumen, near the Freight Depot,
which we receive with the Siberian pony, and I take it in my sledge
behind the Depot, where I deliver the goods--only in the evenings--to
the Letts. Sometimes we speak, but never much.
Usually, "Very cold," or "How snowy," or "Have you a cigarette?" After
delivering the goods--altogether I have done it about five times, I
return home. The Letts wait to move until I go away; I did not succeed
in trailing them--and honestly would not want to very much. I have my
private reasons for not getting into Lucie's way. Besides, why should
I? I am sure that we all are working for the same purpose, but perhaps
from different standpoints. On the other hand, it astonishes me
exceedingly, that Lucie....
(_two lines scratched out_)
and he arranged for my protection and undisturbed life here,--so
seemingly everything is in perfect accordance. You never answer my
letters, but couldn't you manage to acknowledge them? Please do it.
"I have been here so long!... Isn't it funny, Alex, how the time has
The night was a windy one as though Winter knew it was its last chance
to freeze people to death before Spring would come; the long night
seemed slow in coming. All day we had worked very hard in the barn
preparing a big load which Lucie had asked me to take to the
Letts. After dinner, we had kippered herring and some meat stew a
l'Irlandaise, we were sitting near the open oven. "Lent bells! I
wonder who is praying?..."
"Yes, six weeks, dear. Six weeks of perfect sincerity and mutual
trust,--it is not a little thing."
She accepted my remark without turning her face from the fire near
which we were sitting. "Six weeks," she said again.
"Do you remember the man who was playing near me in Monte Carlo the
day we met?"
"There were too many of them. Which one do you mean?"
"The tall man, Mr. Osborne--never mind trying, it does not matter, I
just happened to think of him."
"Anything identical with our six weeks of life?" I asked, and
immediately regretted my bad temper--I am getting impossible.
"Very much," she said sadly. "Very much; only under other
circumstances, other climates, other people. Not so inconsiderate."
When I looked at her my heart filled with pity. Who _is_ this woman?
I don't know her. Perhaps she has something in her heart--the very
existence of which I had oftentimes doubted. Perhaps, in her life of
adventures, she has had more hardships, more of tragedy than I,--with
all of my selfish sufferings of a man who used to be rich and
prominent, and is now humble and poor? Perhaps she has more of
self-control not to show it,--nevertheless the amount of her
bitterness of life must be the same, if not deeper, than mine?
We have been here for six weeks.... I have no place to go. So I am
here. But she? I am sure she could be somewhere else, in better
surroundings, amongst people better than I am. And during these six
weeks--we were not friends. We were only plotters, joined under one
roof, and secretly hostile to each other--"I am ashamed," I said to
her, "honestly I am. You must think that I have never cared to know
what is in your mind. We have always been distant and mysterious,
always absorbed in our own affairs. Why should I trouble you with my
questions? Especially, if I knew beforehand that you wouldn't answer.
Yes, we have been together six weeks--more than that--we live under
the same roof, eat the same food, have our life as close as two human
beings can,--and yet--here we are,--apart from each other. You are a
woman, it's up to you to break this distance and build a bridge over
"Well," she said, putting her small hand on mine, "you approach
the question evidently from another angle. I am not speaking of our
business, which may, and which may not, be the same. Why am I so sad
and so blue? It is that I feel I am all alone here. I can tell you and
I think that you have already understood it, that I came to Tumen
with orders to see a certain Syvorotka. I had to be with him, use his
house, use his protection, use his connections. I did not know who
this Syvorotka was.
A cave man? An ex-soldier? A sick man? A fat butcher? A sentimental,
but dirty druggist? Of all the men in the world,--and while coming
here I imagined all possible types,--that I should have met you, Alex!
You have always meant so much to me. I have always liked you. When I
saw you last in Petrograd I tried to get you into my affairs. Why? I
don't know. You have no ambitions, you have no character,--nothing.
And still, I tried to get you, only to be with you. You refused--for
you never cared: perhaps once in Marseilles, when you wanted to
kiss me (you see I did not forget)--and even at that time you were
drunk.... And here in Tumen--you were the man, with whom as they told
me, I had to go as far as was necessary to get his good services...."
"Strange life, this one of mine," she ended her remark and again
turned to look into the flames.
"Lucie, you never told me you cared, I thought you were for your own
affairs much more than for anything else; now I see it in a different
"You do? It _is late_. I am going. I am leaving you--this time for
good. A week--or so, and I am far away from here, from you--with all
of your good and bad qualities. The time in which we live--does not
allow any speculations. One must get what he sees."
What do you mean by 'going away'?"
"Just what I say. I received orders to move to another place. No,
I cannot tell you. That's all. You, and this little house, and some
hopes I had here,--all, all, must be forgotten. Other people, and
other scenery. A radical change again. Heavens knows how soon I can
forget this little white cold town...."
"Yes," she continued, looking at me, "yes, this cold town, with you;
and you--with your double-crossings, with your reports on me, with
your bad behavior, with your treason. Alex--love is a strange thing.
I don't mind it at all! You never knew it. You never loved your poor
Maroossia: she was your comfort--that's all. You never thought of
Lucie de Clive as such: for you--she was a little girl that possibly
might have been in your way, but you let her stay because she
comforted you. Now--she is going, and very likely you won't see her
any more. In your life--she was a page of a book; now you've read
She was crying, really crying! Such an actress!
I came home at seven from the village--nobody in there! Nobody to
give me my tea. All looks empty, abandoned. On the bed pinned to the
pillow,--a note: "Good-by." My companion left me--today. And I had so
much to say to her....
She did not forget to look in my bag before leaving, as I see. I
My diary _has been censored:_ many pages are missing and some rough
hand-made corrections in the text have been made leaving greasy spots
on the paper. Some of my documents are stolen. I don't see the letter
from Marchenko to Schmelin, the chart with Mamaev's stations, and a
few others. Fortunately, Kerensky's letter to Grimm was not taken, as
I had put it under the floor of the barn with my money and watch.
She must have had the help of the man with the specs--she would not
be able to understand my scratching. They must have been busy all day!
But what really gets me wild--almost all of my letters to Goroshkin
are here! How did she get them? I understand why Goroshkin's letters
missed me--she got them!... Now I understand what she meant by saying
that I was trying to double cross her! In fact Lucie is right,--and
that's why it's maddening. I wonder what Goroshkin and Marchenko think
of me? To whom I must seem a swine! And what a bad way of her's, to
leave my letters--a present for me!
She did what she wanted, this creature of intrigues and no
personality: with "lips of fire and heart of stone." She got in me a
good guardian of her barn, a good transport agent for her Britishers
and Letts, she tangled me up in such a way that I could not report on
her, she enjoyed the privileges of local Soviet's protection through
me,--in short all she wanted.... And here I am alone from now
on,--Good-by"--that's all. She left me this little note--and a bitter
feeling that formerly I was not alone,--and now I am. For
these sensations of lonesomeness a man should never start
companionships,--whether with a woman, or a dog, or even a goldfish.
The one who is alone--is alone. The one that becomes alone--feels
"Quidquid ages--prudenter agas, et respice finem"--and I was
a fool,--here I am alone like Shelly's moon, and
"pardessus-le-marche"--robbed! Am I not an old ass?
She will laugh with her silvery laughter in somebody else's house, she
will mend somebody else's socks, and sit on somebody else's lap. The
"other chap from Monte Carlo," will be asked whether he remembers
_me_. And the other chap will probably answer her, as I did. How
My God! Long and uninteresting life looks to me! Does it only look, or
did it become?... I must sleep all of this off!
My sole connection with the rest of the world is my work in
the Princess' garden. A dull, tiresome, uninteresting work, in
fact--labor. As a diversion--the corpulent cook. My God! If she would
only wash oftener!...
When I come home--I look out of the small window; the landscape is
magnificent: about twenty yards of virgin soil with Spring grass on it
and the barn on the horizon. Behind--the fence, over which I see the
tops of the heads of passers-by.
"Suave mari magno turbantibus aequora ventis spectare laborem...." I
forget how it runs further! My latin gets weak. I wish I had Virgil,
or even "Commentarii de Bello Gallico." I'd be arrested and tried if I
asked for them in a book store....
If only I could obtain some money, and buy a decent suit and get
away,--to Vladivostok, and then through America to France. It seems as
though France is all. It is life. It is salvation from my miseries.
In the evenings I try to arrange in shape my documents and writings
after the looting. For the documents I could be well paid, here,--but
I do not want that. Let the Russia of to-morrow see what has been done
by our present leaders, and by those who gave us to the scaffold....
M. Kerensky's letter to Grimm--alone would make me happy if some day
its contents are known....
Where is Lucie now? How empty my house is!
The Princess came out to me in the garden and asked me whether I could
go to Tobolsk and deliver a letter to Mr. Botkin there.
"Of course, I can, your Ladyship, if I have enough money."
"I don't mean that," she answered coldly, looking with disgust at the
manure I was mixing, "don't worry, we will pay you. I mean whether you
could arrange with your Bolsheviki for a permit."
"Why not?" I answered, "they do not want _me_. I am not a _rich man_,
nor a _Nobleman_...." (I simply love to annoy her).
"That will do, Alexei," she said, casting at me a nasty look, "You may
come for the letter at dinner time. Tell the cook that you want to see
She does not think that I am a man. She hates me. Under my beard and
shabby flannel shirt she sees neither my face nor my person. She has
no shame before me: were I in my uniform of a gentleman-in-waiting,
cleanly shaven and speaking her language, and not in the one I
acquired lately, she would have buttoned her shoes, gartered her
stockings, and would not have shown the bad quality of her corset
cover under her wide-opened _robe-de-chambre_. If she only knew how
her hired help understood her.
At four I was in the kitchen. Here--another interesting phase of life!
The woman from Moscow who claims to be a cook, does not think I am
from her midst, but feels with her organic cleverness that I am an
"You,--gentry! You liar! Hate your face! Hope the devil will get you
soon!" she says,--but she isn't a bad woman, she means well, only she
is not as clean as her profession demands. Altogether the kitchen is a
"What is your business?" she asked, "You want to see the Princess?
Don't lie to me!"
"My business is none of your business," said I, "Forget it! Better
tell me if I can have some beer? Go on, cookie, lay it out. Don't be
The stubborn woman would not give it to me, until I took her gently
around the waist and pinched her arm with all of my force,--that's
the way to get cook's sympathies; it's astonishing how it works! I got
Then I was invited in: "Come in, you scabby devil."
"You will have to take this," said the Princess, giving me a letter
so that she wouldn't touch my hand, "and be sure they don't catch you
with the letter. Be careful, don't drink, Alexei. It's bad to drink;
when you come back we'll give you 500 rubles."
"_Je ne le tolere pas_," she said to the Prince, "_il a l'air si
commun! Il nous vendrait tous, s'il etait assez intelligent_!"
The Prince did not answer (I guess he knows more than her Highness)
and looked aside, grumbling something just to calm his better half.
I stared at her, just to scare this bad female, from under my
"_Vous voyez_," the Princess almost cried, "_Vous voyez! Mon Dieu!
Quel type horrible! J'ai peur de lui! C'est un degenere! il nous
trahira_!" She complimented me in this manner for a while, and then
started to give me some silly instructions,--how to get there, etc.
Finally, I left the house, went to Schmelin and got his permission in
a minute, and tonight--I am leaving.
My house and all in it will be taken good care of,--Schmelin promised
to look after it.
Good-by, my humble hut! Good-by Tumen!
The Irtysh opened its dark blue streams for navigation not so long
ago. From my place on the deck I see spots of old yellowish snow on
the hills; near the banks--the fresh, innocent grass is already daring
to appear on the surface. Peasants are doing something on the vast
plains. The very, very old story of the mythical Lei! White and chaste
birches, triste and flirtatious women amongst the trees, are trimming
their Spring fashion dresses.
However this coming back to life, of the hills, and plains, and trees,
this warmth in the air--does not affect the passengers. Who in the
devil will nowadays snivel about Spring and myths? All sentiment died
in Russia; everything, at least, looks dead,--but the co-operative
Societies: they plan a large business, meaning "trusts" when they
advertise for "co-operation."
With the exception of the representatives of the "Creamery Union" (who
were fat and noisy),--the rest of our fellow-travelers were gloomy and
sordid; I rarely could detect a smile, and if there was a hilarious
expression, it was at somebody's expense, always malicious and
malignant. A boy cut his little finger and squealed for "mama" like a
young pig--people smiled. An old woman passed on the deck and fell so
badly that tears came into her colorless eyes--smiles became bright
and gay; somebody even whistled. A stowaway was caught in the baggage
room--a pale faced young chap with a forlorn expression--the crew
committee started to "investigate" (just undressed him on the
deck)--and people became joyful and gigglish....
Is it my people? Are _those_ bad creatures--our men who fought in the
snows of Hungary armed with fists and patriotism,--for the munitions
were yet the subject of speculations; did these men cross the scorched
plains of Persia, sent there clad in uniforms prepared for Archangel?
_Did they_ make efforts to save small mutilated nations? Is the
history of Russia--these pages of blood and sacrifices--_made by
them_? Did Russia take _from them_ Pushkin, Chaikovsky, Mechnikov,
Tolstoi and the brilliant web of savants, musicians, soldiers,
explorers and poets?...
I am from this same bulk that centuries ago came from Asia and settled
here. They--and I are the same. But I can't understand them! In
France, in England, in Germany, I could understand the crowd better.
But these men and women are so far from my conception.... And they all
pay me back with the same coin: they not only misunderstand me and my
kin,--but they mistrust me. I can deceive a bolshevik commissary, or
the Princess G.; these--with their psychology never would let me come
closer. I am an intruder to their caste.
Before--in Petrograd--we all have had this very same fear of our
select caste for a newcomer, just as these have. In our midst the man
who tried to break in would be caught right away. Now I understand
this little, mean, reptile impulse of catering to the one whom you
seek, this feeling that the parvenu must have felt, this sensation of
the necessity of flattering, for which one blushes in the nights,
for which one can't sleep and turns endlessly in warm cushions. The
parvenu! Pushkin said:
... and an exchange of silent glance
Forever took away his chance....
It was enough for us to look at each other--and the parvenu would not
come near us any more. Here--instead of the poetical form of Pushkin I
must recollect the words of the Tumen cook:
"You liar! Hate your face of a gentry!"
Isn't it a correct translation from my Russian into theirs?
Well,--I'd rather stop my scratchings: Tobolsk.
"Do not write too much," said a walking corpse clad in rags, seating
himself near me on a soft pack of his baggage. "It is better to forget
all about it. Why do you do it? What _is_ the use?" His suffering face
was not at all familiar to me,--so, when he asked me, "Haven't we
met before?"--I said No. He looked to me like one of those Siberian
peasants. Then, under the coat of dirt, under his rags and an old
Orenburg shawl, I really saw something familiar.
"Perhaps we met," I said. "Petrograd?"
"Yes, indeed," he bowed his old head and sighed. "I used to go very
often to the French Theatre. You remember 'L'Aiglon?' Can I chat with
you a bit? This silence is simply killing me. Four months of silence!
Don't you think, mister writer, of what a sweet, what a wonderful
word 'revenge' is? If you write--do write about it! Revenge for having
cleaned the streets, for having been thrown out of every Embassy,
every Legation, every Consulate--whose three sons are sleeping there,
on the Prussian Frontier--forever?--when I begged them to help me
and let me go to Paris only to die near my wife? Revenge! Just to see
England--torn to pieces, France--robbed, Japan--licking our feet,--to
see them separately doing what we suffer combinedly. They all betrayed
us, they sold us, they mock at us! We are paying for our readiness to
save Serbia. We are dying for it--and I do not regret it. I know that
from our dead body, from our bier--poisonous flowers are growing;
their fragrancy will send pestilence and destruction to our lucky
Allies, and ruin them, and ruin them.... If I only could help it....
If only I could live long enough to witness it."
The man looked crazy to me. He evidently is one of those whose minds
gave way. His eyes were sparkling flames--while his greenish face with
a sluttish beard remained immovable and serious. From away--we both
were talking of our village affairs.
"Don't you think I am talking for myself. It is for Russia. I am
finished anyhow. Go ahead! Betray me too. Tell them I am Counsellor
of State, and a landlord, and marshal of nobility. I do not care! I
am finished.... Yet in my better days I had cancer. It was almost a
pleasure then. Don't smile, it's true. Now--I need oysters, and fruit,
and fine Port wine, and medicine,--and I have bread, which I cannot
digest, and they kick me out of every hospital.... I'm sure the cancer
is nearing my heart. If I die,--I won't see my remuneration: the
downfall of our traitors. Friend,--what can I do to hasten it? How can
I avenge Russia?..."
"It is a hard question to answer. I think you exaggerate a little.
I am myself after a settlement, but I do not go so far. My goal is
smaller. I would like to find a man in Petrograd, so that I could make
the rest of the world understand what he really is. He is a criminal
cretin. Yes, _it is_ this man, exactly. But not at this time. Look
around: The Spring is here. Don't you think the air is pacifying? The
air calls to a perfect selfishness. So, if I had seen the man right
here, I would have shot him of course, but I hate to think of getting
into trouble now."
"Air! Spring! Are you in love, young man?"
Then he grew sad and silent for a while. "No, I can't see any pleasure
in Spring." He became sunk in his thoughts, and looked away.
I love Winter just because it dies every year, and gives place to a
new life! And again the thin birches become green and chastely white.
And I know _my birch_ is somewhere--looking for me.
Tobolsk! Pretty town--I must admit. The high bank with green slopes
is covered with churches, white buildings and gleaming gold crosses.
Something tranquil about Tobolsk! Blue, red and green roofs look shy
from their cozy nests of trees. It must be very exciting to live here
when all is normal. Good God! I see from the deck the fine foggish
veil of dust and gossips hanging over the town. They must still play
"preference" here, or "vint." In these little "centers" bridge must be
I took a room in a hotel and went to the Kornilov house. It was
about four. I heard the noise of forks and knives, dinner time is so
impossibly early in these longitudes. A man answered my ring and said
I should wait outside and never ring the front door bell. He explained
where the kitchen entrance was. The man, even in explaining these
disagreeable things, was polite: by profession, for I immediately
saw he was a former Chamber-lackey, though he had a moustache and was
looking meager. "Wait on the street, service-man," he said, "I cannot
let you in." Very well,--I know these "waits" and "call later ons."
They don't hurt me.
I crossed the street and went down the slope. There is a post
office on the corner,--and a soldier near it,--a regular Lett: white
eyebrows, red face and the meanest steel blue microscopic eyes deeply
placed under a low forehead. He looked at me and impendingly changed
the rifle from one shoulder to the other. I turned upwards and
continued all along this "great Liberty Street." I did not want to
pass near the Mansion. I turned on the Tuliatskaya, passed two blocks
and explored where the Budishchevs were. Again a Lett, again no
eyebrows over the same piggish eyes. And again a Lett. Gracious! One
more in here--and the whole Letvia must be in Tobolsk!
When I knew the city well enough I turned back to Kornilov's.
The same chamber-lackey opened the rear door almost killing me with
the smell of cabbage.
"Dr. Botkin is not in," he said, when I explained what I wanted,
"Sit down, service-man. Take it"--he gave me a cigarette with a gold
crescent on it--the kind they served at the Palace. I looked at
the crescent and then at the man. In one glance he got I was not
"service-man," but he did not show his discovery,--only got up and
"The doctor is very busy right now. He was asked across the street
twice today. Have you come from Russia? Demobilized?"
"Yes, quite demobilized," I answered. "I must see Mr. Botkin right
now, so won't you please tell him about me as soon as he returns.
Don't worry about the kitchen--I cannot stay here: I'd rather sit
He showed me through the dining room into the front hall. From there
I could see the Mansion quite well. A little square in front of it was
fenced in, but not very high. On the front stairs I noticed two women
and a boy, in whom, notwithstanding his torn-out shoes and unhappy
looks, I recognized the unfortunate Heir to the Russian Throne.
Someone called him in--and he went slowly into the house. Two Reds
passed near the women smoking pipes and dragging the rifles by their
bayonettes. They both looked piercingly at the women and exchanged a
few words with each other. The women slowly moved toward the house.
Their life must be a real torture within this fence!
A man of medium height passed from the Mansion and crossed the street.
He entered the Kornilov House, and after short conversation with the
"Did you wish to speak to me?" he asked,--I am Dr. Botkin."
"Now,--what is it?"
"I come from Tumen, Dr. Botkin. I have brought you a letter from your
A grimace passed over his face, and he stared at me with suspicion.
"Tumen? Who are you?"
"I hardly think my name would tell you anything, doctor. Here is the
letter." He stopped my movement:
"Please, please, not here. Let's go in. Don't be so sure of this
We entered the dining room, and he took the letter and opened the
envelope. After reading--there were no more than two pages--he said:
"No answer. Do you know the contents?"
"I don't. But I can guess."
"Oh! Is that so?"
All of this commenced to irritate me. I shrugged my shoulders.
"Very well, very well," the doctor said, "we must not be offended. You
know what times we live in. Won't you sit down, please?"
The doctor was very nervous: rubbed his hands, looked around and
showed other signs of impatience. Finally he expressed what was in his
"Can't the Princess understand how risky these writings are for us?"
"Just as risky as for the authors and bearers," I replied feeling
sorry for the lady who meant well. "If there is no answer I don't
think I'll return to Tumen. I have nothing to do there. I see all
these affairs are managed in the same way, as we managed them in our
country. I am through. I thought we had changed. I'll attend to other
"Please," he said looking at me with amazement, "don't misunderstand
me. You see,"--he tried to invent something, or say something,--"all
is very dangerous...."
We were interrupted by a movement on the street. A crowd of soldiers
(for I cannot call it a company, or a detachment,--just a crowd of
man-haters clad in uniform) passed, and made a demonstration against
the Mansion. A few stones and pieces of wood flew onto the Mansion's
roof, where they landed and rolled down with a rattling noise, scaring
the inhabitants. A frightened face looked out of the window--and hid
"The Hooligans!" said Botkin. "Every God's day the same, every God's
With laughter and whistles the crowd went down the Great Liberty
Street. All started suddenly and just as quickly ended; the street
became calm again.
Botkin turned to me and continued:
"Perhaps I was too hasty about this 'no answer.' I should've said it
otherwise. I think it is of _no use_ to attempt to do anything, that's
the idea. If any plan will be successful,--it will not be this," he
showed the letter, "though it is appreciated, trust me when I say it!
We are confronted with other interests, we happen to be in somebody's
game." He wanted to add something,--but stopped. "Perhaps our misery
was seen abroad through this dead screen of general selfishness!
Believe me, sir, any attempt is hopeless. Our effort only spoils, or
might spoil, more cleverly prearranged plans. Now--if you wish me to
be frank, I personally don't believe in what I say to you. I think the
song is sung...."
"Very well, if I happen to communicate, I'll say so."
An old lady passed the room and searchingly gazed at me. Then a man,
tall and thin came in, got a drink of water and left. We both kept
silent. An atmosphere of distrust reigned for a while. I got up.
"Wait a while," Botkin said, "I still would like to know whom I have
the pleasure of speaking to?"
"Syvorotka is my name. I'll stay here in the hotel for a while."
He looked at me without any confidence.
"As you please," he said, "I cannot force you to take the mask off.
We shook hands,--and I left the Kornilov's House.
Here I am in the Hotel. Dirty hole--that's it. No linen. A mattress
covered with spots. Rotten humor.
Botkin fears that the efforts might compromise those who are
around the Mansion. He fears even those who are in exile. He fears
everything. But--not for himself. I think he is an honest man.
There is nothing to do here--with these scared people. Suspicious,
having lost faith in each other, and jealous! I must try to approach
them against their will,--perhaps I can do something better than in
It is evident that the tragedy develops here. I would not be surprised
to know that Lucie is somewhere around.
With my pass from the Tumen soviet and a very sure feeling of a
perfect disguise, I came yesterday to the local scoundrels,--the "high
commission of investigations" as they call this filthy, impossible
place where they meet. It used to be the Ecclesiastical School in
other days. I had quite a time penetrating these regions guarded by
the Reds. The man to whom I was recommended was an elderly kind-faced
fellow. All he was saying to me was virtually addressed to the crowd
of Reds in the room; as for the room, I think it used to be in former
times the professors' room.
"Yes, yes,--your credentials are perfect. Comrade Schmelin,--of
course I know him! You have no such troubles in Tumen as we have here.
But--all must be done. And for the sake of the Revolution and the
Proletariat--we are here, and will do our duty."
To show how much power he had, he gave some orders to the Reds. They
would come near him to take these orders, stand still as they were
standing only a few months ago before an officer, and then turn in the
brusque manner of soldiers.
The kind faced man--with his sly Jewish features and bulgy big eyes,
did not ask me who I was, how I was, and why I wanted the position
of an "advising commissary" with the detachment. He looked at me,
and smiled,--read the letter I presented,--and, seeing on my face
an admiration for his splendor, accepted me. My God, how alike these
people-in-power are! I remember, in my early days, the Count Witte,
a man with heavy, depressing looks. He liked this move of a
man-of-power. I recollect Mr. Kokovtzev who liked so much to see
admiration on his visitor's face.... I see this little insignificant
and blunt Kerensky, that fished for worship.... And here,--this
"tovarishch" Nachman--sitting in his chair and ruling--had the same
identical signs of self-respect, self-adoration, and independence.
And--with all of them--I would, without any effort, just by
instinct, get on their feeble side, change the whole expression of my
face,--even think like them, and love them,--and win. The instinct of
accommodation is a great thing,--and, it seems to me I possess it in
So--accepted in the ranks of those that go wherever they wish, that
do whatever their left foot feels like doing, those that continue to
remodel the country, those that are so free in every action--I sat
near the powerful man,--Comrade Nachman--as equal to equal.
But--what I really could not conceive,--was the range of his duties;
he was judge, and governor, and military commander, and lawyer, and
coroner, and administrator of the city, and the notary public--all
that used to be connected with business--was his concern.... They
could not do it in the olden days; they had to have a specially
trained man for every branch before,--and now!
"How perfectly you perform all of these different duties," I said.
I am a jailer; I guess the first in our family.
Together with Comrade Adolf Pashinsky,--a Pole from the dreadnaught
"Andrey Pervozvanny,"--I am walking on the Great Liberty Street,
and inside of the fence, watching the prisoners in the Mansion, and
watching to see that _supreme justice_--the will of the people--be
My companion--is a muscular man of thirty, without front teeth; his
thin lips are always curved in a bad smile; his brain is such that
he cannot think and speak of anything that would not be vulgar and
The very first night we came to change sentinels--I felt embarrassed,
as I do not know the ritual; but--there is nothing military about
these things nowadays, all is abolished. The soldiers come to
change sentinels, talk freely, laugh loudly. Instead of military
traditions--like parole, pass-words, exchange of salutes, etc.,
"Ah, howdy! What are "they" (meaning the prisoners) doing? Anything to
look at? All right--now you go, we'll stay."
They have, however, a tradition. When the changed jailors are
assembled near the entrance,--they start to knock on the rain pipes of
the Mansion with their rifles, to throw sand and small stones into
the windows of the Heir and the Princesses. When they think enough
frightening has been done, they start to sing something hideous and
"She went to the ma-a-rket,
Bought a bell as a locket...."
begins a thin trembling voice very calmly and even bashfully, as if
nothing bad will come out of this quiet song. And then, suddenly, a
chorus of twelve big fat swine would belch the notorious refrain:
"Ah, you brunette of mine,
O-oh, curly girl of mine...."
and so forth, with the licentious words of this song accompanying
it with whistles and jazzing with bayonettes, field-pans and general
I tried to analyze all of this. Why? Why is there such a hatred for
these,--this poor man, these five women and a boy? Such unnecessary
torture of people of the past,--nothing but a man who awaits the end
of his tragedy, nothing but a frail boy, nothing but five trembling
ladies. And the picture of the old woman that broke her hip on the
deck--and provoked laughter, comes to me.
The second day of my occupation,--it was about eleven when the
sentinels were changed and the night was warm and bluish, the
demonstration, perhaps in my honor, was exceptionally noisy and
"How do you like it?" asked Pashinsky gloriously, looking at me and
showing, instead of teeth, a burned-out cemetery in his mouth. "Don't
they get enough? They just went to bed--and here is the music."
"Fine!" I answered. "Why don't we shoot? It makes more noise and
frightens much more."
"We used to do so," he said with regret, "but all these burjoois, and
the popes, and the whole carrion of Tobolsk did not like it. So we
have decided for the moment not to. Nobody can forbid singing. We are
free. The air belongs to the Soviet Government."
Then he continued:
"You should have seen those little ones"--he winked his eyes--"they
got scared to death the first time we sang the "Parson's Daughter"
right near their windows! And I'll tell you...." he whispered
something in my ear.
I decided to start with him when it comes to rid the world of some of
"Good!" I said with extreme pleasure and tapping him on the shoulder,
"Where are their rooms?"
"Right where the white curtain hangs ... you see ... one ... two ...
three ... fourth window on the second floor. They all are there in one
room, they are never alone lately. They used to be on the first floor.
That--was a holiday for us boys. Everything seen,--and we would...."
The smile on his face stretched from ear to ear.
"But," he continued,--"again the popes intervened. I hope they'll
croak soon. And Kobylinsky consented. He is with us, of course,--but
we _must_ get rid of him."
"Well, you boys have good times here," (I said dreamily) "I am glad I
came. It's great! All these people had enough of our blood. Now--the
people rule themselves! Great life!"
"You bet! Stay with us longer and you'll see better things...."
Next day,--it was about four,--Pashinsky, who sticks near me thinking
I am his best friend and admirer, punched me with his elbow and said:
"Look, look. Who is coming."
The Emperor, stooping and walking with tottering steps, was passing
from the garden into the house. Dr. Botkin was with him. The Emperor's
hands were clasped behind him, his eyes were staring downwards. An
old, soiled soldier's blouse of khaki flannel was hanging on his
spare, bowed, bony body. He was walking slowly, evidently trying to
appear indifferent and calm.
I had not seen him for a year and a half or even more. There was more
gray in his whiskers,--and to me, at this moment he never seemed to so
strikingly resemble his more fortunate English cousin.
They passed very near us. Pashinsky loudly yawned and stretched
right in the Emperor's face, who looked at him blankly; but under a
dignified and elaborate calm--I detected a spark of wounded majesty.
Then he looked at me,--evidently seeing in me nothing but a new
jailer,--sighed, and turned his suffering face away. Dr. Botkin looked
at me, too; he recognized me with a start.
"Ever see the bloodsucker before? Did you see how I treat him?"
"Never saw him. Where in the hell could I?... As for you--you
certainly are some boy!"
I was so near to the Emperor that for a moment I feared he could
recognize me. But he did not, for he glanced twice at me and--passed
by. When they were on the stairs, Botkin said something to him, and
the Emperor turned around, his eyes resting for a moment on my figure.
I brought up my hand,--so, that for the Emperor--it was a salute; for
Pashinsky--a mosquito which I killed on my forehead. Both Emperor and
Botkin immediately turned away and entered the Mansion.
"You watch him closer, Syva," Pashinsky said, "I think we'll take him
away for good pretty soon."
Today,--during my watch hours I had time to make observations,
especially, when the evening came and the night began.
In the house silent figures were walking; these delicate shadows of
yesterday; later--Princess Tatiana sat near the window with a book.
... (_line illegible_).... has not changed much. From time to time
she would stop turning the pages,--and look--without expression,
without moving--down at Pashinsky and me, and at the quiet city, at
clear skies, at the distant golden crosses shining under the moon.
There was something natural,--and yet not ordinary, in this dark
figure behind the curtain.
Did she think of our black ingratitude, she who did so much for the
wounded soldiers and for the families of those killed? Did she think
of the capricious Fate, which played with her young life so nastily?
Did she pray--crushed, humble, and lost? Did she cry for the past, or
dream of the future?... Or, perhaps, in her mind was the present,--and
behind those noble eyebrows, were thoughts and plans to fight
still.... Perhaps there was hope?
This dark figure and the other frightened silhouettes of the
endangered ladies in the Mansion, surrounded by their jailers, keep me
turning from side to side each night.
I see crooked smiles full of rotting teeth; I see perspiring low
foreheads and piercing oily eyes; and I know that New Russia has no
Nachman invited me to a dinner. Later Dutzman came and brought a
smirking girl with him. Nothing very interesting. A girl. She sang
gypsy songs accompanied by a guitar. Good voice--and bad manners. We
had champagne, caviar and cigars,--_real Uppman_.
"Eh," he said, "After all--this life _is_ good! Much better even than
when I was secretary of the 'Courier of Moscow.' Of course, it is
transitory.... Won't you take some more, please?... and we all will be
out. Perhaps those of us who will not, by that time, hang, will have
already some money put aside. Not I--I am a spender. I can't keep this
He was happy and therefore talkative and sincere.
He continued.... "You ask how we get this money? Easily, comrad, very
easily, indeed. Besides what we receive from Petrograd, we have other
incomes. For instance, here, take this case of the Emperor. Why do you
think we intend to send him to Ekaterinburg? Why should we send him
towards the approaching Czechs?"
"Everything has been taken by them; they threaten to crush us if the
Allies will assist them, even in the slightest way. Still we send. It
is a question of two hundred thousand rubles,--but nobody knows that
I, Nachman, a scabby Jew, got about fifty thousand out of them. Now
another thing: who got the pay for the heavy trucks, and for the
benzine, and for the tents, and for the ... oh, many other things!...
who got it? This very Nachman, yes, comrad ... have some more, please,
"Quod forti placuit legis habet valorem."
Sailor Khokhriakov--the special envoy of the Sovnarkom--and his band.
Here is the real danger, but only in case Colonel Kobylinsky and his
Detachment of Special Destination would consent to join the Soviets.
They all hesitate, not the Colonel, however.
The meeting of the Peoples' Commissaries from Petrograd (Khokhriakov)
and Kaganitsky (from Ural, I guess) is certainly worthy of
description. I went there, leaving for that reason my Mansion
duties--(simply by saying to Pashinsky "tell them I am not coming
to the Mansion as I have to attend the meeting"); nowadays military
service is really a pleasure.
We all were sitting in the recreation room, about sixty or seventy
of us in all. Khokhriakov presided. His neck is like a bull's, but
rougher--and red. He started the meeting by a thunderous "Shut up,
you over there!" and "Somebody open the window; who in hell is smoking
such ... tobacco (I omit the adjective, though correct and strikingly
expressive, but profane)?"
The noise stopped under this voice, the windows were thrown open, and
our Peoples' Commissary began:
"Comrades,--before us are three questions; 1st--whether to release the
prisoners and give them to the Tobolsk people under the auspices of
Comrade Kobylinsky and his men, or 2d--whether to try the prisoners
right here by the people's tribunal, or 3d--to comply with some other
requests--which I have the authority to propose--to send the prisoners
to a Ural city. Let us proceed with the first question. I put this
proposition to the ballot in this way: the Tobolians, and amongst them
the popes, the monarchists, all of the counter-revolutionary trash do
not want the Peoples' rule. So they say that the Nikolai family must
be given to the Constituent Assembly. Now, what in the hell of hells,
do they mean by this? What _is_ a Constituant Assembly? Isn't it
a crowd of the same enemies of the people? Isn't this 'Parliament'
against our will? Shall we, proletarians, consider the question of a
Constituent Assembly? Would it not be an act of counter-revolution?
Come out here, right before me, the one that will dare to propose such
a thing," and the ten pound wooly fist of the sailor was lifted and
held for moments in the filthy air of the recreation room.
This rhetorical question, in fact, was not necessary, as we all,
hearing the word "Proletariat" in the middle of Khokhriakov's speech
had already started to make a noise and to applaud, the cheers densely
hung in the room,--and even before he said, "I knew you are
good proletarians and would drown this proposition, God damn
you,--carried,"--the fate of this weak and impossible thing at that
time, the hope for a Constituent Assembly,--was told. In no way would
"Now comrades,"--Khokhriakov continued after a short confidential chat
with the curly, blond, small-faced and long-eared Kaganitsky,--"comes
the next proposition. I warn you, however; no matter how tempting this
proposition is, do not make any harsh decision. We know your zeal in
Petrograd--that's why we all would want you to say your word, but ...
if I see that someone is too zealous, I'd rather keep silent if I were
he. Can we try these bloodsuckers here?"
An impossible noise began after his words.