Good morning, my darling! What a long time since I have written to you, and how glad I was to get your little letter. It is very sad we don't see each other, but God will arrange for us to meet, and what joy it will be then. We live in the house where you have been. Do you remember the rooms? They are quite comfortable when a little arranged. We walk out twice every day. Some of the people here are kind. Every day I remember you, and love you very much. Mr. Gibbs gave us photographs he made of you—it was so nice to have them. Your perfumes remind us so much of you. I wish you every blessing from God, and kiss you tenderly. Don't be sad. Love to all yours.
My darling beloved, how are you? We are all well, walk much in the yard, and have a little hill down which we can slide. There is much frost these days so Mama sits at home. You will probably get this in February, so I congratulate you on your name day. God help you in future and bless you. We always remember and speak of you. May God guard all your ways. Don't be sad, dear. All will be well, and we shall be together again. I kiss you tenderly.
At Christmas I had a great happiness, nothing less than letters and a parcel of food from the exiles in Tobolsk. There were two parcels in fact, one containing flour, sugar, macaroni, and sausage, wonderful luxuries, and the other a pair of stockings knit by the Empress's own hands, a warm scarf, and some pretty Christmas cards illuminated in her well-remembered style. See more
I made myself a tiny Christmas tree decorated with bits of tinsel and holly berries and hung with these precious tokens of affection and remembrance. Nor was this the only Christmas joy vouchsafed me after a year of sorrow and suffering.
You will probably get this in February, so I congratulate you on your name day. God help you in future and bless you. We always remember and speak of you. May God guard all your ways. Don't be sad, dear. All will be well, and we shall be together again. I kiss you tenderly. Maria.
It is bright sunshine and everything glitters with hoar frost. There are such moonlight nights, it must be ideal on the hills. But my poor unfortunates can only pace up and down the narrow yard. How I long to take Communion. See more
We took it last on October 22, but now it is so awkward, one has to ask permission before doing the least thing. Some thoughts one is obliged to drive away, they are too poignant, too fresh in one's memory. All things for us are in the past, and what the future holds I cannot guess, but God knows, and I have given everything into His keeping.
Where is your poor old Grandmamma? I often think of her in her loneliness, and of your stories, after you had been to see her. Who will wish you a happy Christmas on the telephone? Is it true that Protopopoff has creeping paralysis? Poor old man, I understand
that he has not been able to write anything yet, his experiences being too near. Strange are our lives, are they not? One could write volumes.
I am knitting stockings for the small one (Alexei). He asked for a pair as all his are in holes. Mine are warm and thick like the ones I gave the wounded, do you remember? I make everything now. Father's trousers are torn and darned, the girls' under-linen in rags. Dreadful, is it not? I have grown quite gray. Anastasie, to her despair, is now very fat, as Marie was, round and fat to the waist, with short legs. I do hope she will grow. Olga and Tatiana are both thin, but their hair grows beautifully so that they can go without scarfs.
My darling and dear: Thank you tenderly for your little gift. It was so nice to have it, reminding me especially of you. We remember and speak of you often, and in our prayers, we are always together. The little dog you gave is always with us and is very nice. We have arranged our rooms comfortably and all four live together. See more
We often sit in the windows looking at the people passing, and this gives us a distraction... We have acted little plays for amusement. We walk in the garden behind high planks.
God bless you. An.
My darling: I often think and pray for you, and we are always remembering and speaking of you. It is hard that we cannot see each other, but God will surely help us, and we will meet again in better times. We wear the frocks your kind friends sent us, and your little gifts are always with us, reminding us of you. We live quietly and peacefully. The days pass quickly. See more
In the morning we have lessons, walk from eleven to twelve before the house in a place surrounded for us by a high board fence. We lunch together downstairs, sometimes Mamma and Alexei with us, but generally they lunch upstairs alone in Papa's study. In the afternoon we go out again for half an hour if it is not too cold. Tea upstairs, and then we read or write. Sometimes Papa reads aloud, and so goes by every day.
On Saturdays, we have evening service in the big hall at nine o'clock. Until that hour the priest has to serve in the church. On Sundays, when we are allowed, we go to a nearby church at eight o'clock in the morning. We go on foot through a garden, the soldiers who came here with us standing all around. They serve mass for us separately and then have a mass for everybody. On holidays, alas, we have to have small service at home. We had to have home service on the 6th (St. Nicholas' day), and it was sad on such a big holiday not to be in church, but one can't have everything one wants, can one?
I hope you at least can go to church. How are your heart and your poor legs? Do you see the doctor of your hospital? You remember how we used to tease you. Greetings to your old servants. Where are your brother and his wife? Have they got a baby? God bless you, my darling beloved. All our letters (permitted letters) go through the Kommissar. I am glad that the parents of Eristoff are kind to you. Him I remember well, but I never saw the parents.
Isa has not come yet. Has she been to see you? I kiss you tenderly and love you.
This is the feast day of the Virgin of Unexpected Joy. I always read the day's service, and I know that you, dear, do the same. It is the anniversary of our last journey together, to Saratoff. Do you remember how lovely it was? The old holy woman is dead now, but I keep her ikon always near me. Yesterday it was nine months since we were taken into captivity and more than four months since we came here. Which of the English nurses was it who wrote to me? See more
I am surprised to hear that Nini Voyeikoff and her family did not receive the ikons I sent them before leaving. Give kind regards to your faithful old servant and Nastia. This year I cannot give them anything for their Christmas tree. How sad. My dear, you are splendid. Christ be with you. Give my thanks to Fathers John and Dosifei for their remembrance.
I am writing this morning in bed. Jimmy is sleeping nearly under my nose and interfering with my writing. Ortipo lies on my feet and keeps them warm. Fancy that the kind Kommissar Makaroff sent me my pictures two months ago, St. Simeon Nesteroffs, the little Annunciation from the bedroom, four small prints from my mauve room, five pastels of Kaulbach, four enlarged snapshots from Livadia; Tatania and me, Alexei as sentry, Alexander HI, Nicholas I, and also a small carpet from my bedroom. My wicker lounge chair, too, is standing in my bedroom now. Among the other cushions is the one filled with rose leaves given me by the Tartar women. It has been with me all the way. At the last moment of the night at Tsarskoe I took it with me, slept on it on the train and on the boat, and the lovely smell refreshed me. Have you had any news of Gaham (Chief of the Karaim)? Write to him and give him my regards. One of our former wounded, Sirobojarski, has visited him.
There are 22 degrees of frost today, but bright sunshine. Do you remember the sister of mercy K. M. Bitner? She is giving the children lessons. What luck! The days fly. It is Saturday again, and we shall have evening service at nine. A corner of the drawing room has been arranged with our ikons and lamps. It is homelike—but not church. I got so used to going almost daily for three years to the church of Znamenia before going on to the hospitals at Tsarskoe. I advise you to write to M. Gilliard. (Now I have refilled my fountain pen.) Would you like some macaroni and coffee? I hope soon to send you some. It is so difficult for me here to take the vegetables out of the soup without eating any of it. It is easy for me to fast and to do without fresh air but I sleep badly. Yet I hardly feel any of the ills of the flesh. My heart is better, as I live such a quiet life, almost without exercise. I have been very thin but it is less noticeable now, although my gowns are like sacks. I am quite gray too. The spirits of the whole family are good. God is very near us, we feel His support, and are often amazed that we can endure events and separations which once might have killed us. Although we suffer horribly still there is peace in our souls. I suffer most for Russia, and I suffer for you too, but I know that ultimately all will be for the best. Only I don't understand anything any longer. Everyone seems to have gone mad. I think of you daily and love you dearly. You are splendid and I know how wonderfully you have grown. Do you remember the picture by Nesteroffs, Christ's Bride? Does the convent still attract you in spite of your new friend? God will direct everything. I want to believe that I shall see your buildings (my hospital) in the style of a convent. Where are the sisters of mercy Mary and Tatiana? What has become of Princess Chakoffskaia, and has she married her friend? Old Madame Orloff has written me that her grandson John was killed in the War and that his fiancee killed herself from grief. Now they are buried beside his father. My regards to my dear Lancers, to Jakoleff, Father John, and others. Pray for them all. I am sure that God will have mercy on our Russia. Has she not atoned for her awful sins?My love, burn my letters. It is better. I have kept nothing of the dear past. We all kiss you tenderly and bless you. God is great and will not forsake those encircled by His love. Dear child, I shall be thinking of you especially during Christmas. I hope that we will meet again, but where and how is in His hands. We must leave it all to Him who knows all better than
Yesterday I received your letter and I thank you for it from my heart. It was such a joy to hear from you and to think how merciful is God to have given you this compensation. Your life in town must be more than unpleasant, confined in stuffy rooms, steep stairs to climb, no lovely walks possible, horrors all around you. Poor child! You know that in heart and soul I am near you, sharing all your pain and sorrow and praying for you fervently. See more
Every day I read the book you gave me seven years ago, "Day by Day," and like it very much. There are lovely passages in it. The weather is very changeable, frost, sunshine, then darkness and thawings. Desperately dull for those who enjoy long walks and are deprived of them. Lessons continue as usual. Mother and daughters work and knit a great deal, making Christmas presents. How time flies! In two weeks more it will be eight months since I saw you last. And you, my little one, so far away in loneliness and sorrow. But you know where to seek consolation and strength, and you know that God will never forsake you. His love is overall. On the whole, we are all well since I do not count chills and colds. Alexei's knee and arm swell from time to time, but happily without any pain. My heart has not been behaving very well. I read much, and live in the past, which is so full of rich memories. I have full trust in a brighter future. He will never forsake those who love and trust in His infinite mercy, and when we least expect it He will send help and will save our unhappy country. Patience, faith, and truth.
How did you like the two little colored cards? I have not heard from Lili Dehn for three months. It is hard to be cut off from all one's dear friends. I am so glad that your old servant and Nastia are with you, but where are the maids, Zina and Mainia? So Father Makari has left us. But he is really nearer than he was before. Our thoughts will be very close together next month. You remember our last journey and what followed. After this anniversary it seems to me that God will show mercy. Kiss Praskovia and the children for me. The maid Liza and the girls have not come yet. All of us send tenderest love, blessings, and kisses. God bless you, dearest friend. Keep a brave heart. P. S. I should like to send you a little food, some macaroni for instance.
We are all well. I have been suffering from neuralgia in the head but now Dr. Kostritzky has come to treat me. We have spoken often of you. They say that life in the Crimea is dreadful now. Still, Olga A. is happy with her little Tichon whom she is nursing herself. See more
They have no servants so she and N. A. look after everything. Dobiasgin, we hear, has died of cancer. The needlework you sent me was the only token we have received from any of our friends. Where is poor Catherine? We suffer so for all, and we pray for all of you. That is all we can do. The weather is bad these last few days, and I never venture out because my heart is not behaving very well. I get a great deal of consolation reading the Bible. I often read it to the children, and I am sure that you also read it. Write soon again. We all kiss and bless you. May God sustain and keep you. My heart is full, but words are feeble things.
My darling: We are thinking constantly of you and of all the suffering you have had to endure. God help you in the future. How are your weak heart and your poor legs? We hope to go to Communion as usual if we are to be allowed See more
. Lessons have begun again with Mr. Gibbs also. So glad, at last. We are all well. It is beautifully sunny. I sit behind this wall in the yard and work. Greetings to the doctors, the priest, and the nurses in your hospital. I kуiss you and pray God to keep you.
Hardly knowing what next was in store for me, I reported at once to the High Commission. Here I was told that their inquiries concerning me were finished, and that I had better see the Minister of the Interior. At this ministry I was informed that I was in no immediate danger but that I would remain under police surveillance.
There was little sleep for me that night, but tired as I was by morning, I greeted happily the unkempt cook and his messy breakfast plate. All day I waited with the dumb patience only prisoners know, and at early evening I was rewarded by the appearance of Sheiman and Ostrovsky. "Put on your coat and follow me," said Sheiman. See more
"I have resolved to take you, on my own responsibility, to the hospital." To my nursing sister, who had spent the afternoon with me, he gave orders to go to Helsingfors and wait for further directions. At the prison gate Sheiman signed the neces- sary papers, and hurrying me past two gaping Bolshevist soldiers, he led the way down a bypath to the water. Boarding a small motor launch manned by a single sailor, we started off at high speed for Helsingfors. There was one bad moment when we approached a low bridge occupied by a strong guard, but at Sheiman's directions, uttered in a short whisper, I lay down flat in the launch and we passed unchallenged. The first stars were shining in the clear autumn sky as we reached the military quay of the town. We ran in under the lee of a huge warship and stepped ashore. There was a motor car waiting and the chauffeur, who evidently knew his business, started his engine without a word or even a turn of his head. Sheiman spoke only one sentence. "Tovarish Nicholai, drive to—" naming a street and number. At once we were off, my head fairly swimming at the sight of electric lights, shaded streets, and people walking up and down. Turning into a quiet street we left the car, all three of us shaking hands with the discreet driver. Bidding Ostrovsky find my nurse and my small luggage, Sheiman conducted me to the door of the hospital where a nice clean Finnish nurse took me in charge and put me to bed in one of the freshest, airiest, most comfortable rooms I have ever occupied. "Take good care of this lady," were the last words of the President of the Helsingfors Soviet, "and let no one intrude on her." His words and assured smile of the nurse were good soporifics and I fell almost instantly into a deep sleep.
Although we did not know it at the time, our fate really hung on the outcome of a Congress of Soviets which was then being held in Petrograd, and to which both Sheiman and Ostrovsky were delegates. See more
Sheiman returned to Helsingfors and visiting my cell told me that both Trotzky and Lounacharsky were insistent on the release of Kerensky's prisoners. That evening, he said, would be held a secret session of the executives of the Helsingfors Soviet at which he would urge the recommendation of Trotzky and Lounacharsky. If the executives agreed the question would then be referred to the entire Soviet, made up principally of sailors of the old Baltic fleet. That evening I was invited to tea in the officers' quarters, and while sitting there the telephone rang. "It is for you," said the officer who answered the call. I picked up the receiver and heard Sheiman's voice saying briefly: "The executive has voted unanimously for the release of the prisoners."
Erika and I were pushed into a small cell with two wooden bunks covered with dust and alas, nothing else. The place smelled as only old prisons do smell, and the only air came in through a small window high in one of the walls. Wrapping ourselves in our coats, we lay down on the hard planks and tried to sleep. See more
In the early dawn we got up, our backs aching and our throats choked with dust, but the Irrepressible Erika laughed so heartily and sneezed so comically that I found it impossible to lament our surroundings. The place was a dreadful hole just the same, no proper toilet facilities at hand, and of course no opportunity of washing, to say nothing of bathing. We had to pay for our food at the rate of about ten rubles a day, at that time no small amount of money.
The prisoners were exercised every day in the open. Doctor Badmieff continued to be a center of interest in the prison. Erika, his faithful disciple, demanded the privilege of attending him, and this was granted. Every day he sat cross-legged like the Buddha he so much resembled, dictating endless medical treatises to Erika. In the evenings he used to put his lamp on the floor at the foot of his bunk, strew around it flowers and leaves brought from outside, burn some kind of ill-smelling herbs for incense, and generally create what I assumed to be the occult atmosphere of his beloved Thibet.