The Bolsheviks have attempted to seize power for the first time. Trucks full of armed men drove around the city. Lines of machine gun fire fanned out from the trucks.
Despite events and the general anxieties of the guests, we still often accept them. Life takes own, even more so in youth. We meet with friends almost every day. We have them over at our place on the Moika, then we go to someone else. We once went to Tsarskoe Selo.
While we were away, a court of inquiry visited regarding a complaint from Irina’s family: my mother- and father-in-law reported thefts that happened during the house-check in May. Everyone in the house was questioned separately. The Empress’ turn came. At the end of the interrogation they suggested she signs it “the former Empress”. She signed “Widow of Alexander III”.
The residents of Ai-Todor are daily exposed to insults. Twenty five soldiers and sailors, beasts and savages to a man, have taken up residence in the manor. The commissar has announced to my parents-in-law that they are under arrest.
Первая ласточка беды прилетела в Ай-Тодор. Утром тесть мой проснулся, ощутив револьверное дуло у себя на виске. В дом нагрянули с обыском матросы. Обыскивать приказал Петросовет: этим начальникам взбрело на ум, что Иринины родители — контрреволюционеры. Отобрали ключи от письменного стола и оружие. See more
Вдовствующую императрицу подняли с постели и переворошили простыни. Она стояла за ширмой и не смела слова сказать. Главарь забрал ее письма, бумаги моего тестя. Обыскивали все утро. Всего оружия нашли дюжину старых винчестеров, хранившихся прежде на яхте, о которых тесть мой и думать забыл. В полдень главный их, офицер, явился объявить великому князю, что арестует Марию ФедоровнуВдова императора Александра III, мать императора Николая II: дескать, оскорбила Временное правительство. Еле угомонил его тесть, объяснив, что, если матросы ломятся к пожилой даме в пять утра, она, понятное дело, недовольна. Обыск в Ай-Тодоре лишний раз показал, как слабо Временное правительство.
We travelled back to Crimes in misery. A crowd of soldiers-deserters besieged the train. The corridors became full, people climbed on the roof. The third-class car collapsed from the weight. Everyone was drunk, many fell off the roof en route. See more
The more south we went, towards Crimea, the more refugees packed the train. We were travelling in a destroyed sleeper car, eight in a compartment, including an old woman and two children. We were stuffed like herring in a barrel.
I managed to take out two Rembrandts among the masterpieces of our collection from St. Petersburg: "Man in a wide-brimmed hat" and "Woman with a fan". Having removed the frames and rolled them into tubes, I got them out easily
Rodzianko, the chairman of the Duma, has become a frequent visitor to our house. Once, catching sight of me, Rodzianko came straight out with a question: “Moscow wants to declare you Emperor, What do you say?” This wasn’t the first time I had heard this. Soon, Admiral Kolchak and Grand Duke Nikolai Mikhailovich came to me and repeated: “The Russian throne has not, in the past, been achieved through inheritance or election. It has been seized. See more
Take advantage of the opportunity. You know best. Russia cannot exist without a Tsar. But confidence in the Romanov dynasty has been shattered. The people no longer want the Romanovs.” And to think, this proposal springs from a murder. The man who, by killing Rasputin, hoped to save the monarch, is now being encouraged to seize the throne himself!
Life in Petersburg is becoming unbearable. Everybody is raving about the revolution, even wealthy people, and those who used to think of themselves as conservatives. A great many city-dwellers have run away to their estates in the Crimea. We have become fugitives. The revolution has still not reached the south of Russia, and the Crimea is relatively safe.
Saint Petersburg has changed dramatically. The streets are engulfed by strife. Almost everyone wears red cockades. Even our driver had to put one on while making his way to pick us up from the train station. “Take this abomination off!” - my mother exclaimed.
I have been allowed out of exile and we are returning to Petersburg. Just before my departure, there was a service in Rakitnoe. Peasants came flooding into the church. They were all weeping. “How will we live now?” they kept saying. “They’ve taken away our little Father Tsar!” In Kharkov we got off the train to take some refreshment at the station buffet. It was difficult to force our way through the crush. People were calling one another “comrade”. Somebody recognised me and called out to me by name. There was excitement in the crowd. We were surrounded; there was pushing from all sides and it was hard to breathe. People came to welcome us. Soldiers came to our rescue and escorted us to the buffet. The crowd followed. We had to close the doors to the cafe. People demanded that I give a speech, but I refused, explaining I was not good at public speaking.
The world has gone mad and is dying before our very eyes.