Thus we reached Christmas. The Czarina and Grand-Duchesses had for many weeks been preparing with their own hands a present for each of us and each of the servants. Her Majesty distributed some woollen waistcoats which she had knitted herself. With such touching thoughtfulness as this she tried to show her gratitude to those who had remained faithful. See more
On December 24th the priest came to the house for Vespers ; everyone then assembled in the large hall, and the children were full of delight at the " surprise " prepared for us. We now felt part of one large family ; we did our best to forget the preoccupations and distresses of the time in order to enjoy to the full and in complete unity these moments of peaceful intimacy.
The next day, Christmas Day, we went to church. By the orders of the priest the deacon intoned the Mnogoletie (the prayer for the long life of the Imperial family) . This was an imprudence which was bound to bring reprisals. The soldiers, with threats of death, demanded that the prayer should be revoked. This incident marred the pleasant memories which this day should have left in our minds. It also brought us fresh annoyances and the supervision became still stricter.
Meanwhile the Bolshevik doctrines had begun their destructive work in the detachment which was guarding us and which hitherto had been fairly proof against them. It was composed of very varied elements: the men of the ist and 4th Regiments were for the most part favourably disposed towards the Imperial family, and especially towards the children. See more
The Grand Duchesses, with that simplicity which was their charm, loved to talk to these men, who seemed to them to be linked with the past in the same way as themselves. They questioned them about their families, their villages, or the battles in which they had taken part in the great war. Alexis Nicolalevitch, who to them was still " the Heir," had also won their hearts, and they took trouble to please him afid find amusements for him. One section of the 4th Regiment, composed almost exclusively of the older classes, was particularly conspicuous in its attachment, and it was always a delight to the family to see these good fellows come back on duty. On these days the Czar and children used to go secretly to the guardhouse and converse or play draughts with the men, whose conduct was never in a single instance anything but strictly correct. Here they were once surprised by Commissary Pankratof, who stood astounded on the doorstep, looking through his spectacles at this unexpected sight. The Czar, seeing his disconcerted appearance, motioned to him to come and sit at the table. But the Commissary evidently thought he was out of place ; muttering a few unintelligible words, he turned on his heel and fled, discomfited.
One of the greatest privations during our captivity at Tobolsk was the almost complete absence of news. Letters only reached us very irregularly and after long delay. As for newspapers, we were reduced to a nasty local rag printed on packing paper, which only gave us telegrams several days old and generally distorted and cut down. See more
The Czar eagerly followed the development of events in Russia. He realised that the country was rushing towards ruin. He had a moment of fresh hope when General Kornilof offered Kerensky to march on Petrograd to put an end to the Bolshevik agitation, which was becoming more and more menacing. His disappointment was very great when the Provisional Government rejected this final chance of salvation. He saw in this the only means that remained perhaps of avoiding the imminent catastrophe.
I then for the first time heard the Czar regret his abdication. He had made this decision in the hope that those who had wished to get rid of him would be capable of making a success of the war and saving Russia. He had feared that resistance on his part might give rise to a civil war in the presence of the enemy, and had been unwilling that the blood of a single Russian should be shed for him. But had not his departure been almost immediately followed by the appearance of Lenin and his acolytes, the paid agents of Germany, whose criminal propaganda had destroyed the army and corrupted the country ? It now gave him pain to see that his renunciation had been in vain, and that by his departure in the interests of his country he had in reality done her an ill turn.
When it began to get very cold, and the large hall became impossible, we took refuge in the adjoining room, which was Their Maj esties' drawing-room, the only really comfortable apartment in the house. The Czar would often read aloud while the Grand-Duchesses did needlework or played with us. The Czarina regularly played one or two games of beziqueBezique is a French intellectual card game for two. with General Tatichtchef and then took up her work or reclined in her armchair.
Meanwhile our life gradually settled down along definite lines, and by mobilising all our resources we managed to resume the education of the Czarevitch and two youngest Grand-Duchesses. The lessons began at nine o'clock, and were broken off from eleven to twelve for a walk, which was always shared by the Czar. See more
As there was no schoolroom, the lessons were given sometimes in the large hall on the first floor, sometimes in Alexis Nicolaievitch's room or mine. I lived on the ground floor in what had been the Governor's study. At one o'clock we all assembled for lunch. The Czarina, when she was not well, often took her meals in her own apartments with Alexis Nicolaievitch. About two o'clock we used to go out again and walk about or play until four.
On the following day we passed the native village of Rasputin, and the family, gathered on the deck, were able to observe the house of the staretz, which stood out clearly from among the isbas. See more
There was nothing to surprise them in this event, for Rasputin had foretold that it would be so, and chance once more seemed to confirm his prophetic words.
What reasons had the Council of Mnisters for transporting the Imperial family to Tobolsk? It is dificult to say definitely. When Kerensky told the Czar of the proposed transfer he explained the necessity by saying that the Provisional Government had resolved to take energetic measures against the Bolsheviks; See more
this would result in a period of disturbance and armed conflict of which the Imperial family might be the first victims; it was therefore his duty to put them out of danger. It has been claimed in other quarters that it was an act of weakness in face of the Extremists, who, uneasy at seeing in the army the beginnings of a movement in favour of the Czar, demanded his exile to Siberia.
We were told that we should take warm clothes. Hence, we are not directed to the south. A big disappointment.
I found out that the Provisional Government decided to transport the Royal family. Destination is kept in a secret. We all hope it will be Crimea.
Nothing new in our captivity. The only distraction is going out. It is very hot, and for some days Alexis Nikolaevitch has been bathing in the pond round the children's island. It is a great joy to him.
News from the front are not good. The offensive that has started out so successfuly is turning into a failure for the Russians.
Молебен по случаю военных событий, предвещающих, как кажется, большую победу. Государь, сияющий, приносит Алексею НиколаевичуНаследник российского престола вечерние газеты и читает ему официальные сообщения.
Дни проходят за днями без всяких перемен, в уроках и прогулках. Государь рассказал мне сегодня забавный случай, нарушившей однообразие нашего заключения. Вчера вечером он читал вслух в красной зале, где находились Государыня и Великие Княжны. Вдруг около одиннадцати часов входит весьма смущенный лакей и докладывает, что начальник караула желает быть немедленно принятым Государем. See more
Думая, что дело идет об очень важных событиях в Петрограде, — ждали вооруженного выступления большевиков против Временного правительства, — Государь приказывает немедленно пригласить начальника караула войти. Входит офицер в сопровождении двух унтер-офицеров. Он объясняет, что вызван выстрелом часового, заметившего красные и зеленые сигналы, подаваемые из окон комнаты, занимаемой Царскою Семьей. Общее полнейшее недоумение! Какие сигналы? Что это все означает? Страшное волнение Государыни и Великих Княжон. Офицер приказывает наглухо закрыть шторы, — стоит удушливая жара, — и собирается уходить. В это время выступает вперед сопровождающий его унтер-офицер и разъясняет загадку. Великая Княжна Анастасия Николаевна вышивала, сидя на подоконнике. Нагибаясь к столу, чтобы брать со стола нужные ей для работы вещи, она то загораживала, то открывала свет двух ламп с красным и зеленым абажурами, при которых читал Государь. Сконфуженный офицер удаляется.
After the disease Grand Duchesses shaved their heads because their hair fell out heavily; When they went out into the garden, they put on hats made to hide the lack of hair. At the moment when I was going to take pictures of them, they quickly took off their hats on the sign of Olga Nikolaevna. See more
I protested, but they insisted, amused by the thought of seeing their images in this form and waiting for the indignant parents' surprise. Despite all, from time to time their humor again manifests itself; This is the proof of the nexhaustible youth!
We finished our kitchen garden some time ago and it is now in splendid condition. We have every imaginable kind of vegetable, and five hundred cabbages. The servants, too, have made a garden on their side of the palace, where they can cultivate what they like. We went to help them dig it — the Czar too. To occupy our leisure now that we have finished our work on the garden, we have asked and obtained permission to cut down the dead trees in the park, so we go from place to place, followed by a guard which moves when we move. We are beginning to be quite skilful woodcutters. This will give us a supply of wood for next winter.