We left for Tobolsk early in the morning. It was a bright sunny day, and it wasn't very cold: -20 degrees. My friends gave me everything they thought I needed to travel north. I put on a huge deer fur coat on a sealskin coat. The fur coat used to belong to my uncle.
The journey to Tumen, from where we would travel on to Tobolsk, ought, we thought, to have taken four days. From there we needed to travel two hundred kilometres to Tobolsk. However, we were bitterly disappointed. See more
The rail journey alone took nine days! This was the final month when it was possible to travel “deluxe” on the Trans-Siberian railway, but there was nothing in the train resembling comfort. The seat covers had been ripped off by those who had gone before. To stop the horsehair coming out, dirty canvas had been put over the seats instead of plush.
Petrogradsky station is in a state of indescribable chaos. As soon as the passenger trains were overwhelmed, anyone who had the chance sought to leave to the provinces, where the Bolshevik government was not yet fully recognised. See more
The train timetable was completely destroyed, and every passenger sat for long hours with their family and belongings in the waiting room, until their train arrived.
In order not to disclose my situation, an acquaintance in Petrograd volunteered to get us some railway tickets. One evening in December he brought me three sleeping-car tickets for a train departing the next day; getting his hands on them had proved enormously difficult. The tickets were all for different towns on the Trans-Siberian Railway – a ploy which, as he believed, would allay any suspicions.
The past five months at Tsarskoe Selo have been a time of disappointment and humiliation for its residents. What’s more, they constantly feel the contrast between their past and present lives here. Their planned move would have helped them draw a line between their bygone happy days and the undetermined future. See more
We must also not forget that their journey into the heart of Russia necessitated the postponement of their deportation, which brought fear to all members of the imperial family.
Once, one evening in the heat of summer, when the Grand Duchess Tatiana and I sat on the window-sill of my room on the second floor, reading aloud and trying to get a little air (it was after five, and we were never allowed out a second time), a sudden voice outside bellowed " Take away your mugs (roja), or I shall fire." See more
We looked out in surprise, and saw the sentry pointing his rifle at us, shouting furiously
" Don't you know that you must shut the window ? "
" But it is always allowed," I said, " it is so stifling."
" Obey orders ! " he shouted, " or I shall fire."
At night I was woken by the sound of someone's heavy breathing in my bedroom. Unfortunately, the lamp by my bed was not on (although the electricity had come back on). I asked who was there and heard some quiet steps and then the door of my dressing room closed. I jumped out of the bed, rushed into the dressing room and turned on the light. The room was empty, but when I opened the door to the corridor, I saw the figure of a soldier disappearing around the corner. The next morning I discovered that all of the gold and silver from my living room had been stolen.
One day the Grand Duchess Tatiana and I saw from the window that one of the guards on duty in front of the Palace, struck evidently with the injustice of having to stand at his post, had brought a gilt armchair from the halls and had com- fortably ensconced himself therein, leaning back, enjoying the view, with his rifle across his knee. I remarked that the man only wanted cushions to complete the picture. There was evidently telepathy in my eye, for when we looked out again, he had actually got some sofa cushions out of one of the rooms, and, with a footstool under his feet, was reading the papers, his discarded rifle lying on the ground!
The Empress had said to me that to go "would look like flight," and she was also afraid of the risk to the children had they been moved while they were so ill. On the morning, however, she told me that I should "quietly pack my bag to be able to start with them at any moment, should this prove necessary." The gentlemen had on that morning again raised the question of the Empress's departure, but it was too late now.
Not far from the Winter Palace, scrawled on the wall of the Staff Headquarters, I personally saw a slogan that read ‘Down with the Tsar!’ It was erased – only to reappear the next morning. When my carriage got caught in a traffic block, a passerby deliberately spat through the open window: no one was even attempting to camouflage their hostility now.
During this second stay a slight stir was caused at Court by the visit ofthe Crown Prince Carol of Roumania—his second visit to Russia. This was the last time a State dinner was given. It was marked by the first official appearance of the Grand Duchess Marie, the Emperor's third daughter. She looked extremely pretty in her pale blue dress, wearing the diamonds that her parents gave to each of their daughters on her sixteenth birthday. Poor child! she felt that the world was coming to an end and that she was disgraced in its eyes for ever, when she slipped in her new high-heeled shoes and fell down as she was entering the dining-hall, on the arm of a tall Grand Duke.