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.
До нас дошла ужасная весть, которую только можно было себе представить, — весть об отречении Государя от Престола. Это до того всем показалось невероятным, что в мыслях как-то не укладывалось, все казалось, что это неправда, что этого быть не может, почему отрекся, что его побудило? Потом пришла вторая печальная весть — отречение великого князя Михаила Александровича… Временное правительство… Все старые вековые устои рушились один за другим, а кругом пошли аресты, убийства офицеров на улицах, поджоги, грабежи… Начались кровавые ужасы революции…
On the second day we heard the worst news we could imagine: the Tsar had abdicated! It seemed so extraordinary that we could scarcely believe it. It was not, it could not be, true! Why should the Tsar have abdicated? What purpose had he in doing so? This was followed by a second overwhelming piece of news: the Grand Duke Michel Alexandrovitch was also resigning! A provisional Government had taken
over. One by one the institutions of state were crumbling. And Petrograd was a nightmare world of arrests, the assassination of
officers in the streets, arson, pillage . . .
On the second day we heard the worst news we could imagine: the Tsar had abdicated! It seemed so extraordinary that we could scarcely believe it. It was not, it could not be, true! Why should the Tsar have abdicated? What purpose had he in doing so? See more
This was followed by a second overwhelming piece of news: the Grand Duke Michel Alexandrovitch was also resigning! A provisional Government had taken over. One by one the institutions of state were crumbling. And Petrograd was a nightmare world of arrests, the assassination of officers in the streets, arson, pillage . . .
Я все время прислушиваюсь к шуму на улице. В особенности становится жутко, когда мимо проезжает грузовик, мне все кажется, что вот-вот он остановится около нашего дома, а это значило: обыски, аресты, а может быть, и хуже…
I listened to the slightest noise coming from the street. The worst moments were when a lorry passed before the house. I always thought that it was stopping in front of our door, bringing inevitable searches, arrests or worse still.
We spent three days without even undressing. Armed soldiers constantly burst into the flat, to climb on to the roof. They were looking for machine-guns, and threatened to shoot us if they found any. We had to remove all large-sized objects from the windows, because the mob outside took them for machine-guns and were always on the point of opening fire on us. As a precaution against stray bullets, we all remained in the corridor.
During all this time our meals were brought from my house by my servants, who remained loyal to me to the end. My two cars were, of course, requisitioned.
During a day which has been prolific in grave events and may perhaps have determined the future of Russia for a century to come, I have made a note of one episode which seems trivial at first sight, but in reality is highly significant. The town house of Kchechinskaïa, at the end of the Kammenny-Ostrov Prospekt and opposite Alexander Park, was occupied by the insurgents today and sacked from top to bottom. I remember a detail which makes it easy to see why the residence of the famous dancer has been singled out by mob fury. See more
It was last winter; the cold was intense and the thermometer had fallen to-35°. Sir George Buchanan, whose embassy is centrally heated, had been unable to procure coal, which is the essential fuel for that system. He had appealed to the Russian Admiralty, but in vain. That very morning Sazonov had definitely told him it was impossible to find coal in any public depot. In the afternoon we went for a walk together on the Islands, as the sky was clear and there was no wind. Just as we were entering Kammenny-Ostrov Prospekt, Buchanan burst out: "Well, if that isn't a bit too thick!" He pointed to four military lorries opposite the dancer's house; they were laden with sacks of coal which a squad of soldiers was engaged in removing. "Don't worry, Sir George," I said. "You haven't the same claim as Madame Kchechinskaïa to the attentions of the imperial authorities."
It is probable that for years past many thousands of Russians have made similar remarks about the favours heaped upon Kchechinskaïa. The ballerina, once the beloved of the Tsarevitch and subsequently courted by two Grand Dukes at once, has become as it were a symbol of the imperial order. It is that symbol which has been attacked by the plebs today. A revolution is always more or less a summary and a sanction.
The next day it was clear that the abscess was not going to burst, and that it would be foolish to count on any lull. The situation was growing worse from hour to hour. See more
One thing was certain: we must leave the house at all costs as soon as possible, before the mob invaded it. In order to be inconspicuous, I put on my plainest coat and threw a shawl over my head. Suddenly, in the fever of preparation, I thought of Djibi, my little fox-terrier. He was there, motionless, looking at me fixedly, with his enormous eyes full of fear. Poor Djibi understood instinctively that something terrible had happened, that everybody was preparing to leave and that we were
going to forget him! Someone took him in his arms, someone else seized the case with my jewels, and we dashed out.
Ко мне снова звонил по телефону генерал Галле, чтобы предупредить меня, что положение в городе очень серьезное и чтобы я спасала, что могла, из своего дома, пока есть еще время. В течение всего дня он постоянно телефонировал мне и держал в курсе того, что творится. Хотя он и продолжал говорить, что положение серьезное, но надеялся, что если, как он выразился, «нарыв лопнет», то настанет улучшение. Его совет спасать, что могу, из своего дома, пока не поздно, поставил меня в безвыходное положение. See more
Когда я взглянула вокруг себя на все, что было у меня драгоценного в доме, то не знала, что взять, куда везти и на чем, когда кругом уже бушует море. Мои крупные бриллиантовые вещи я дома не держала, они хранились у Фаберже, а дома я держала лишь мелкие вещи, которых было невероятное количество, не говоря уж о столовом серебре и обо всем другом, что было в доме.
On the 26th, a Sunday, General Halle telephoned me once more to warn me that the situation in the city was very serious, and that I should save what I could from my house before it was too late. He telephoned repeatedly all through the day. Although he still considered the situation very serious, he hoped it might improve "if the abscess burst". His advice to save what could still be saved placed me in a real dilemma. Although I never kept my large diamond jewellery at home, but left it with Faberge, I still had at home a great number of small jewels, not to mention the silver and other precious objects with which my rooms were decorated. What was I to choose? What was I to take away, and where?
Я даже рискнула поехать в Александринский театр на бенефис Юрьева, давали «Маскарад» Лермонтова в постановке Мейерхольда. Улицы были спокойны, и я проехала туда и назад благополучно.
I went quite normally to the Alexandre Theatre, where Youriev's twenty-fifth stage anniversary was being celebrated with Lermontov's The Masquerade, produced by Meierhold. The audience was tense and nervous. There was a sound of firing in some quarters. But I was able to return without trouble.
Next day, while my housekeeper was checking the silver, glass and linen, as she always did after large parties, Vova burst in and told me that a huge crowd was pouring out of Great Dvorianskaia Street. This was the beginning of what everybody had been afraid of: street demonstrations.
I gave a dinner party for twenty-four friends, for which I brought out my finest Limoges service, my Danish service for the fish, and gilt cutlery copied from two sets belonging to Catherine the Great which could be seen at the Hermitage. See more
This had been given me by Andre. The guests were dazzled by the dinner table decorated with forget-me-nots and real lace. It was my swan song in Petrograd, my last dinner party before the Revolution. I brought out countless precious trinkets and works of art which had been stored since the beginning of the war (among other things there was a superb collection of artificial flowers made of precious stones and a small gold fir tree, with branches shimmering with little diamonds). There were so many of these things that I complained to my sister I had not enough room to display them.
Дала обед на двадцать четыре персоны. Для этого дня я вытащила все свои чудные вещи, которые с начала войны оставались запертыми в шкапах, и расставила их по обычным местам. У меня была масса мелких вещиц от Фаберже: была огромная коллекция чудных искусственных цветов из драгоценных камней и среди них золотая елочка с мелкими бриллиантами на веточках, как будто льдинками, было много мелких эмалевых вещиц, чудный розовый слон и масса золотых чарок. Их так оказалось много, что я телефонировала сестре, что места не хватает, куда все это ставить. See more
Весь стол к обеду был украшен ландышами, был поставлен подарок москвичей «сюрту-де-табль», серебряная ваза, наполненная ландышами. Сервированы были мои чудные золоченые десертные тарелки и золоченый десертный сервиз, ножи, вилки и ложки — копия с модели Екатерининских времен, хранившейся в Эрмитаже, подарок Андрея. Я только боялась, чтобы не оказался в последнюю минуту двадцать пятый гость, что часто бывало, и тогда у меня не хватило бы золоченых тарелок и приборов. Весь обед подавался на фарфоре «лимож», который Андрей выписал из Франции, а к рыбе подали «датский» сервиз тарелок с изображением рыб. Под каждую тарелку была положена круглая салфетка из настоящих кружев.
Когда гости вошли в столовую, они пришли в полный восторг от убранства стола, что мне доставило большое удовольствие, так как я каждую мелочь обдумывала и рассчитывала. Обед прошел очень оживленно и удачно, блюда были вкусные и подавались с соответствующими винами. После обеда играли в баккара, и гости засиделись довольно поздно.