We met Fokine and his wife, who were also in Kislovodsk, and who shared our hopes and fears. There was only one subject of conversation: Should we stay or leave? What was going to happen? What should we do?
On a daily basis, a figure would appear on the balcony of Kschesinskaya’s house, wave its hands around, and scream in a husky voice. After having screamed for a couple of hours, it would go inside to warm up. A different figure would replace it. All of these figures carried the shared title “Lenin.”
The calmer it got, the more painfully I felt that there was nothing more of my own, neither my home nor my things, but other had it even worse.
As I was passing through Petrograd, I casually stopped at the palace of Kshesinskaya. It was interesting, after all, to visit the apartments of the Tsar’s former mistress, which are now occupied by the Bolsheviks, who send panic throughout all of Petrograd. And frankly, I wanted to meet Lenin himself. See more
The Palace’s exterior is magnificent, and beckons the weary traveler. I humbly went into the building. I must admit that building’s insides disappointed me a little: It was obvious, the revolution had only occurred a few days ago, and the furniture was all out of place, as if from the commotion. We had already established order in the Navy for a while now, and, we have been studying for a long time how to maintain cleanliness and discipline. No wonder our Navy is considered the first in comfort and orderliness. Of course, this is a different situation: people arrived from abroad, tired, and there was a revolution, and work flies above your head. It’s famous for where there’s order to the nth degree.
My faithful DjibiThe beloved dog of Mathilde Kschessinska died after a visit to Tsarskoie Selo. This made me very sad. He had shared in our joys and sorrows; and I still remember one night during the terrible time we had just been through when, exhausted and near to nervous prostration, I flung myself weeping on my bed. Djibi had sprung towards me, with an expression of human compassion, whimpering that he could not comfort me. See more
Vova and I took him to the garden at Strelna, where he had so recently trotted and played. This time the soldiers who occupied my datcha behaved touchingly and helped us to dig and fill in the little grave.
Kschessinsky’s house on the Kamenny Prospekt has been taken over by a gang, an insignificant gang of communists with Lenin at their head, who appear on the terrace every morning to inspire the people to steal from and murder the bourgeois. See more
In vain has the owner of the house appealed to the authorities to remove the trespassers. Their answer is always the same: “resorting to force against citizens is inappropriate in a free country”.
Many thought, probably the participants themselves, that with the disappearance of Rasputin everything would improve; the evil surrounding the throne would be removed, the malevolent forces on the Emperor would subside, Russia would finally breathe again, and the glory days would arrive. But oh, how everyone was mistaken. Maybe some of it counted. But from that very moment, everything began to roll towards the fateful conclusion.
One day I was visited by Semion Nicolaievitch Rogov, the balleto- mane and journalist, whom I knew well. He had been called up and drafted to the reserve battalion of the Kexholm Regiment, part of the Guard; he wore the uniform and mixed constantly with the soldiers. He was therefore perfectly informed on the state of mind prevailing in the barracks and on what went on there. See more
Rogov called on me to make me a strange and rather unexpected proposal: would I participate in a performance which the soldiers of his regiment were organising in the Conservatoire Theatre? I was naturally appalled at this idea, which seemed preposterous. I, Kschessinska, to dance before soldiers and at such a time? It was pure madness ! In spite of my objections, Rogov set out to convince me that it was a serious and long-thought-out plan. He tried to prove that I would do much better to give my own free consent: these performances were becoming frequent, and artists were more or less constrained to take part. Rogov finally succeeded in gaining my support with the assurance that I should be in no danger and that my appearance would be greeted with universal enthusiasm. Afterwards I should be able to move freely about town without fear, instead of hiding as hitherto. My wardrobe was still intact, and my Russian costume and everything needed was brought.
Michel Alexandrovitch Stakhovitch, an admirer and great friend, appointed Governor-General of Finland by the Provisional Government, came to assure me that he was ready to do anything to improve my position.
Fortunately for me, one of my old friends, Vladimir Pimenovitch Krymov, editor and publisher of the famous review, Stolitsa and
Oussadba, came soon afterwards to see me. A talented writer and journalist, Krymov was also a sincere man, with firm, unshakable opinions both before and after the Revolution. He was an intimate of our house, where he had met Andre, who thought highly of his clear intelligence and moderation. When I told him how I stood, he at once dictated a letter to Kerensky for me, which we immediately took to the Ministry ofJustice.
The moment I was back, Kerensky telephoned me. He proved extremely kind, promised to protect me against any trouble and gave me his private telephone number, with the assurance that I could telephone him at any hour of the day or night if I needed
his help. I was deeply moved by his attitude: though I had never met him and we did not know each other at all, he was giving me this extremely kind reply. I felt at last that I was no longer alone.
When I was more or less recovered, I began to wonder whom I could go to for defence. During the first days I had told nobody where I was living, and my friends had lost sight of me. So I decided to return to them, and I turned first to P. N. Karabtchevsky. See more
As a well-known lawyer, he had many strings to his bow: I had also been told that he was on good terms with Kerensky. I also remembered the performance at his house, and how he had promised: "Kill someone! I'll defend you, and you will be acquitted !" I had not killed anybody, but I was in a difficult position : the time had come for him to defend me. So I telephoned Karabtchevsky, in the certainty that he would help me and use his influence with Kerensky to spare me further trouble. The result was totally unexpected: Karabtchevsky replied that I was Kschessinska, that it was the wrong time to act on behalf of
Kschessinska, and so on. I did not even go on listening, but snapped down the receiver.
A few days after I had left home, Bers, an officer I knew who had just been appointed commander of the Peter-and-Paul Fortress, offered to let me live in the Fortress, where he could put rooms at our disposal. He did his best to convince me that I would be perfectly safe there, but I declined his offer. The idea of being shut up in a fortress hardly appealed to me ; and I was also afraid that in case of another revolution another commander might be appointed, which would have put me in an impossible position.
I was still in my brother's flat when my porter rang up to say that my house was being looted. I did not dare to go myself, but begged my sister and Vladimirov to go and find out what was happening. So they went and rang at my front door, which was opened by a soldier in open tunic, carrying a gun in his hand. He invited them to come into the room which they were using as a guard-room, and asked them what they wanted. My sister explained that she had been warned that the house had been ransacked. He answered that everything was as it should be, and showed them into the dining-room, where the gold cups were still on the shelves. But her conversation with this soldier revealed that some cases had been removed by the militia and taken to the headquarters of the Petrograd Prefect. Vladimirov at once telephoned the latter, who asked my sister to come and see him. The new Prefect received her courteously in his office, listened to her with attention; then, opening a drawer, he took out a gold crown (which the balletomanes had presented to me) and asked: "Do you know this object?" When she said that she did, he led her into a neighbouring room and showed her the cases from my house. My sister explained that our porter had warned us of attempts to loot the house. The Prefect promised to take the necessary steps to save what was left.