In honour of VladimirDuke, lieutenant, poet.'s twenty-first birthday, his coming of age, we lit up the tree again and put back the presents on it. The little girls and he had a charming surprise for us, a piece of verse of his composition, entitled " l'Assiette de Delft." Irene and Nathalie, coached by my son, played it to perfection.
Next day, early, I took the children, Miss White, Jacqueline and my maid, and we installed ourselves in the flat of my daughter Olga Kreutz. At three o'clock in the afternoon I went to Smolny with my permit in the hope of carrying back my husband with me. I remained with him until six.
Now that we were free it was the moment to take flight from Tsarskoe, after this first warning which showed that even the Grand Duke, who had been so popular formerly with the troops and who had not been disquieted until then, was no longer safe. . . . Alas! there was no lack of opportunities for flight. See more
A number of faithful officers, brought to us by my son Alexander, offered to get us away. One of them named Brigguer, whom I had met with the young Youssoupoffs, was sent by his chief to the Grand Duke, said to him: "Monseigneur, the danger is becoming greater every day for you and yours. I beg of you to listen to me, to have confidence in me, I am an aviator and my chief, Colonel Sikorsky, the inventor of the IIie-Mourometz, is informed of my plans. I shall come down one night on one of the lawns in the Tsarskoe Park, which we shall choose with you. You will come there with the Princess, your three children and some luggage. My machine is like a regular room with arm-chairs in it. In four hours we shall be in Stockholm. . ."
The Grand Duke looked at him sadly: "My dear friend," he replied, "you see me touched to the bottom of my heart but what you propose is out of Jules Verne! How could we disappear without being seen, even with the fewest possible preparations? We are under watch, spied upon, kept in sight by our servants. We should be caught in the act and our fate and yours would be still harder than at present..." Brigguer went off heart-broken. The mission, with which Sikorsky had charged him, had failed. I saw him again only once after his visit; two months later he was fleeing from the Bolshevist invasion.
Our captivity lasted eighteen days. As long as we kept to our rooms they left us in peace and our life did not seem much changed, but the moment we wished to move out and take the air our vexations began. See more
A soldier whom they had forgotten to warn that the walk which went along the garden railing continued into the enclosure which was open to us, pointed his rifle at me because I had ventured into it. I continued to advance, sure of my right. "Tu ne vois done ,pas que je vais tirer, la bourgeoise? " he cried out to me. "D'abord, je te defends de me d'idiot (dourak)," I said to him, and I passed on. He let his rifle sink down, dumbfounded.
One day I was walking up and down in front of the house, the officer on duty who was walking behind me and who had seemed until then not to notice me, murmured to me as he passed: See more
"I am for the Grand Duke and you for life. Don't reply! " he added quickly, seeing a soldier approach.
Thus these young men of culture and education trembled before the country louts whom they had under their command. . . . Was this a possible condition of things? Was it not bound to end in disaster?
At nine o’clock we were told that a commissar of Kerensky’s called Kuzmin had come with a convoy of ten men and wanted to speak to us. Kuzmin took three papers out of his pocket which he read to us, one after the other. They said that in view of the possible disturbances, and because of the approach of KornilovCommander in Chief of the Petrograd command - from 18 March 1917, with the aim of restoring the monarchy, the Provisional Government thought it necessary to put (there followed each of our names) under house arrest and that the garrison at Tsarksoe Selo was charged with guarding us. See more
The Grand Duke took the paper and looked at the signature “Governor General of Petrograd, Boris Savnikov.” So that wretched creature who ordered the killing of the Grand Duke’s brother has now turned on the Grand Duke himself and on his family.
Our excellent automobile was one of the first to disappear, and after it was used to ferry around the members of the Provisional Government, it was to this very automobile that the honor fell of picking up Lenin on his arrival to the Finlyandsky Station.
I came to ask you to let us leave Russia: me, Grand Duke Pavel and our children.
After saluting and apologising for such a late hour (it was half past four in the morning), the colonel read the manifest of abdication to us. The grand duke and I were astounded. After composing myself I began to shake, my teeth clattering. The downfall of the Empire - we understood perfectly well that it was a downfall indeed - revealed itself before us in all its horror.
The ground is truly giving way underneath our feet. The prisons are wide open, and their malcontents have positioned themselves at the heads of political movements. Slowly but surely our regiments are going over to the enemy camp, and rumors abound that the First Infrantry Regiment billeted at Tsarskoye Selo has thrown in its lot with the rebels.
The first red banner has appeared, a vile rag.
One eminent Russian lady ventured to pen a letter of unprecedented nerve to the Empress. I saw this letter, written in a careless and hasty hand on pages torn out of a notebook. Among other things, she wrote the following: “Leave us, in our eyes you're a foreigner.” Naturally, the Empress was mortally offended.