Christmas. Cold and clear. I spent the end of the month transcribing Seven, They Are Seven while in the grips of an engrossing new idea: Lina Collini mentioned offhandedly one day that she must leave Russia for America. Why, then, I thought, should I stick around in Russia myself?
This tiny spark was seemingly extinguished in the course of our idle chatter, but what I’d fancied at the time to be a mere passing remark proved a veritable combustion agent that set off an immediate conflagration. To go to America! But of course! Here, wretchedness reigns; there, life’s brimming over. Here, slaughter and barbarism; there, cultivated life. Here, shabby concerts in Kislovodsk; there, New York, Chicago. No dithering about it. I shall leave come the spring.
What Mohammedanism did for the Arabs, Bolshevism may do for the Russians. As Ali went down before the politicians who only rallied to the Prophet after his success, so the genuine Communists may go down before those who are now rallying to the ranks of the Bolsheviks. See more
If so, Asiatic empire with all its pomps and splendours may well be the next stage of development, and Communism may seem, in historical retrospect, as small a part of Bolshevism as abstinence from alcohol is of Mohammedanism. It is true that, as a world force, whether for revolution or for empire, Bolshevism must sooner or later be brought by success into a desperate conflict with America ; and America is more solid and strong, as yet, than anything that Mohammed's followers had to face.
At Christmas I had a great happiness, nothing less than letters and a parcel of food from the exiles in Tobolsk. There were two parcels in fact, one containing flour, sugar, macaroni, and sausage, wonderful luxuries, and the other a pair of stockings knit by the Empress's own hands, a warm scarf, and some pretty Christmas cards illuminated in her well-remembered style. See more
I made myself a tiny Christmas tree decorated with bits of tinsel and holly berries and hung with these precious tokens of affection and remembrance. Nor was this the only Christmas joy vouchsafed me after a year of sorrow and suffering.
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.
This forenoon, all the Russians arrived, under the leadership of Trotski. They at once sent a message asking to be excused for not appearing at meals with the rest for the future. At other times also we see nothing of them. The wind seems to be in a very different quarter now from what it was See more
. The German officer who accompanied the Russian delegation from Dunaburg, Captain Baron Lamezan, gave us some interesting details as to this. In the first place, he declared that the trenches in front of Dunaburg are entirely deserted, and save for an outpost or so there were no Russians there at all; also, that at many stations delegates were waiting for the deputation to pass, in order to demand that peace should be made. Trotski had throughout answered them with [Pg 233]polite and careful speeches, but grew ever more and more depressed. Baron Lamezan had the impression that the Russians were altogether desperate now, having no choice save between going back with a bad peace or with no peace at all; in either case with the same result: that they would be swept away. Kühlmann said: 'Ils n'ont que le choix à quelle sauce ils se feront manger.' I answered: 'Tout comme chez nous.'
"A wire has just come in reporting demonstrations in Budapest against Germany. The windows of the German Consulate were broken, a clear indication of the state of feeling which would arise if the peace were to be lost through our demands.
We left Petrograd on the morning of January 7th. The party consisted of the Ambassador, Lady Georgina and Miss Meriel Buchanan, Admiral Stanley, Commander Spenser-Cooper and Paymaster Collis, Majors Scale, Neilson and myself. See more
The “ People’s Commissariat of Foreign Affairs ” had refused to reserve us accommodation, but a bribe of two bottles of brandy had proved more successful with the officials on the spot, and we had a comfortable carriage. Most of the Allied representatives and of the British colony came to the station to bid farewell to the Ambassador, who, like the big English gentleman he is, had fought their battle to the end with rare courage, devotion and ability. Only one Russian came, Madame В, but no doubt many more would have come if they had dared, for no Ambassador that England had sent to Petrograd ever loved Russia more or worked harder in her interests.
We went to Mass at 7 o'clock in the dark. After the liturgy, church services were held before the image of the Sacred Mother brought on Christmas Eve from the monastery 242 miles away. During the day I worked in the snow until dinner time. We rehearsed our parts thoroughly.