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Letters from Princess Mary (Mariya Ksaveryevna) Orbeliani, sister of Alexander Bulatovich, to Richard Seltzer


Feb. 27, 1973

I received today your letter in which you ask me if I will agree to give you some information about my dear heroic brother Alexander Bulatovich and his wonderful life. I shall be happy to be useful to you in this dignified work. I, after reading the articles about him by Mr. Katsnelson, was always admiring the truth of his reports!

I advise you, if you want to come to see me or address me written questions about his life, his, to many people incomprehensible, retirement to Mount Athos, and the part he had in the theological dispute with the Holy Synod in Leningrad, I will readily do it but do not forget that I am 98 years old, in June 99, getting blind, deaf and weak. My health and capacities are waning every day!

With best wishes.

Sincerely Mary Orbeliani

PS -- There was a great part of his life not too familiar to me when I with family lived in Siberia, where my husband had a position, and he was on Mount Athos.March 12, 1973

I received your letter where you speak of a possible visit to me and to have information about my brother Alexander Bulatovich. I am afraid that you will have a lot of expenses, which you might avoid if I send you written in English some remembrance about my beloved brother. There you will find answers on some of your questions. (I do not know in what division he was during the world war as minister).

I am a very, very old woman. Still my reason is clear, but often I do not recognize persons who I did not meet much.

About myself, I think my life was interesting. After the revolution we lived in Yugoslavia, my husband and I. When he died in Belgrad in 1948, I went to Belgium where in Brussels my single son/noblest creation engineer Belgium diploma was employed. He and his wife (great friends) left Belgium for Canada in 1950. Now he is retied. I will send you about my brother all I remember. A newspaper lady from the paper Sun, Simma Holt, wrote about me an article. I lived in Yugoslavia by teaching. The first 12 years after our arrival, I was teacher of French and Art at the government high school in Karlovsi, Petruge (?) and Bek. I worked with love, was much appreciated, and never without work when I started to be a private teacher.

I wish you good luck would like to spare hotel expenses, but I have no place to invite you as guest because I live in a rest home. I will send to you my picture and a water color painting. Thank you for your kind intention to come.

Best wishes.

Mary Orbeliani

(postcard) March 21, 1973

About the possibility of your visit on May 17. I shall have an operation of the eye on a cataract May 9 and do not know what shall I be to do after. You ask me about this activity of my brother in Manchuria. I know that he gave proofs of great courage and heroism, but the command in chief, General Rennenkampf disliked him for his independence. He delivered a French missionary form Chinese captivity. The missionary was sick with typhus fever which my brother caught. After recovery, he was sent for rest to Japan. Crossing the Japanese sea was a typhoon. By curiosity he went out. The wind caused an inflammation of his sight, which made a terrible sensibility of eyes for the rest of his life. An important and tragic occurrence, his fight with a Manchurian soldier on horseback. My brother killed him in the fight with his saber. He fell bleeding upon horse, and this hot blood of dying man impressed deeply. This "crime" seemed to push him to go to the convent.

Kindest regards.

M. Orbeliani

March 28, 1973

I received your work "Now and Then", read it, and thank you for having sent it to me. I am sorry to admit that my old-fashioned mind has not realized the real meaning of your work. I could not trace a parallel between and the reality and the symbols of time you give.

Your way of responding to the real life is so strange t ours! I do not believe that you can give a real value to this Shakespearian personality, to see what brought him this courageous soul to resign to glory success happiness and -- as it seems to us -- bury himself in a convent!

Russian ideals of my time are so far from the recent approach to life.

I bean to write a short remembrance of his wonderful personality -- if I shall be able to finish it, I shall send it to you.

It would be a pity to give to the public not a desirable, true, portrait of an attractive personality tortured by his striving for perfection. It would be a pity to trace a caricature!

With kind regards.

Mary Orbeliani

April 15, 1973

You did not spare your time. I thank you for the kind and thoughtful letter I received from you and was so pleased that I could speak with you in full sincerity; and openly criticize your graceful work. Of you want me to read (which I am very interested in) parts of your writing, it must be printed not so pale, but black, very distinct. I strain my feeble sight and having no one to read for me slowly, the meaning partly escapes from me.

I have "the beginning." It is all wrong. Sasha could not laugh and see a fairy tale in the story of the existence of the world still alive because of the prayers of the believers. I found this very impressive. My father was not young. He was a widower and had a second young wife. He was a man with high education (Academy of Engineering in Petersburg with honors). He spoke French well (important for a man of good manners at that time. He was commander of a regiment in a neighboring town 60 miles from the estate where my mother lived. Love of money, to keep, to spare was not in the habits of childhood. the dollar ruling the world was not our humble ruble! I never had money for my needs until I left my mother's house. This had no bad consequences. I never left debts, unpaid bills, borrowed money to cover the expenses through my whole long long life. When after the revolution, having lost all our belonging I began a life of labor by my own earnings, I went having accepted the position of teacher in a government high school in Yugoslavia of French (I knew perfectly) and Art I studied with interest. I helped in the education of my most noble and talented son to have his diploma as engineer. And now I am so shy to help you in such task you are interested in. So many events, names, occurrences escape form my memory!

I shall with pleasure try to give you the idea of the milieu my brother in his childhood, his education, the beginning of his military life -- then his life in Abyssinia and the shock he lived through. The influence of Father John Sergiev of Kronstadt had a leading part in his life. In his young days, he was a time in anguish of unbeliever. I tell you good-bye, would like really to help you, as I feel you love this man and his deed!

Most sincerely.

M. Orbeliani

April 27, 1973

I am sending to you the remembrance of the childhood where you will find the conditions under which he grew up (my dear Sasha). Be not angry with my, may not be just, appreciation of the pages you have mailed me. Do it very readable and black.

Kind regards,

Mary Orbeliani

I will send you the picture of the manor

My brother Sasha and Lutsikovka

What a wonderful boy was my brother Sasha! Clever, reasonable kind-hearted but with a firm will boy! Teachers and governesses liked him for his school capacities and obedience and lack of being obstinate. We all three shared the same room with our German nurse. Of three children, Sasha, Lilia (two years older than me), and me -- Meta.

Sasha's bed was behind a screen. The wall over his bed was hung with pictures of the Holy Scriptures, the Holy Virgin figures of saints. And in the evening when all others were in bed for sleep, and the candle of the nurse not more burning, we heard form behind the screen Sasha kneeling, and getting up and whispering prayers!

The games he liked were patriotic or military. He liked to be the wounded hero rewarded by the Tsar by a decoration or sometimes he performed the part of the Tsar who graciously gives rewards to those who deserved them by their courage.

He was not tall, rather short, inherited form our ancestors from the side of my mother -- French emigres who headed by the Duke of Richelieu (not the famous French statesman) case to south Russia, sores of the Black Sea, settled in Odessa, and developed an activity in the fertile steppes of south Russia, where our great grandfather grew up herds of sheep, had a commercial fleet, and acquired an honorable position. One of his seven sons, Andrew, was the father of my mother.

Andrew was an engineer and was appointed to build the famous Transcaucasian Road. He lived there with my grandmother -- his wife -- and three children in a house along the road. The local tribes, half wild, hated the activity of the conqueror which was Russia and killed father and mother, but left the children alive -- a boy Vladimir and two girls, Jenny (mother), and Olga.

The three orphans were adopted by relatives. My mother was adopted by a rich landowner, widow of Platon Ivanovich Kouriss, a former brilliant officer of the guard, now retired in the country in his estate, a great admirer of the French encyclopedists. He had the habit to sleep by day, and made his formal appearance in the dusk, entering the sitting room with servants who preceded him with burning candlesticks. He spent the night in meditations. His portrait as a by picture had a scary capacity of following you by his eyes and at any angle you stood.

The aunt of my mother, Mrs. Kouriss, was very esteemed throughout the country. The celebration of her name day, April 14, was a meeting of all wealthy and influential people in the life of the province of Kharkov.

In this cultured surrounding with a French governess grew up my mother. My father was much older than she, and died when I was born, and she had her home at our great-aunt's house, where we lived until she died in 1885.

We had a very cross dog, Usman. He looked at us with cross eyes and dirtied our feet. When we approached him, Sasha decided to educate Usman. And he did it.

Mr. Kouriss was a great admirer of the leading names who provoked the French Revolution. In a little library close to his room, I found many volumes in French language about this historical event, with notes written on the side of print.

In spite of this liberal and romantic disposition, he seems to have been a despot with his wife and may be cruel and unjust. In the family exists a legend that Elizabeta Lvovna once ran out of the house and the coachman found her 40 miles form her home and brought her back.

He built the house in the style of Versailles, and the gardens around has this straight cut by another under 80 degrees -- like the park of Versailles.

My great-aunt, after his death, owned this beautiful estate. She belonged to the family of French emigres who, led by the Duke of Richelieu (not the cardinal) settle din the deserted by fertile plains of southern Russia on the Black Sea and made there their fortune. Richelieu is famous for having founded the great and prosperous Russian city -- Odessa. The magnificent French-style house built with unburned bricks fell to pieces, and after his death my great-aunt built the large, spacy, and beautiful manor where I spent my childhood. The house was built of huge oaks which grew in the estate Lutsikovka.

My mother, Jenny, adopted and brought up by Mrs. Kouriss, had a French ;governess, emigree from the French Revolution, Madame de la Vaux. She seems to have been educated as a leader of the whole education even piano playing. My mother spoke perfect French, recited to us poems of Victor Hugo, Lamartine, Alfred de Vigny. Later on, our wonderful Russian writers like Pushkin, Lermontov, Derzhavin, later on Balmont, Chekhov, Tolstoy, Turgenyev, Kuprin (Duel), Nikitin, Kolov, Majkov, etc. were also read and admired by my mother.

The rich Mrs. Kouriss had a lot of relatives from her family of Albrand. They spend months at the rich aunt where the privilege of my mother being adopted with her children, like in her parents' house, excited envy and malveillance.

My father married for the second time, being a widower. His grownup daughter lived with us, but never agreed with my mother. He lived in the neighboring little down Lebedine and was commander of the Sevsky Regiment. He was very very witty, elegant, had his diplomas from the Academy of Engineering in Petersburg, danced very well, and spoke perfect French.

Having been engaged to a rich land owner, Anatole Kondratiev, who died young, she liked the brilliant officer who gave her the title "generalsha." She had five children. Two boys died before they reached one year of age, but then Sasha, two years later a girl Lilia, and two years later me, Meta.

Sasha was a clever good boy, but he had his own will and was domineering. I submitted, but Lilia fought and quarreled with him. As a child, he was very pious. In the evening when light was out, we heard him praying, kneeling. The wall over his bed was hazy with pictures of the Holy Scripture. His games had a patriotic character. He liked to be the wounded warrior rewarded for his courage by the Tsar, and sometimes he played the part of the Tsar rewarding heroes.

His playmates were children of the servants who lived near the house. He and his friend made war with us and the girls of the servants. In winter it was snow balls.

He had very weak sight, and my mother took him to an eye specialist who admired his courage, when the cure was painful.

So we lived peacefully with my great aunt, every morning visiting her. As she was still lying, we approached her and said "Bonjour chere grand maman. Je vous baise la main. Je vous aime de tout mon coeur. Merci pour vos peines." Then we approached the corner of this room, kneeled before the icons, praying, "Our Father who art in Heaven," the creed and special prayer for the relatives. Sometimes we couldn't finish our visit, because some manager, cook, or gardener came to get orders. But we were taught patience, and patient we were.

In 1883, my great-aunt died form cancer.

I went to look at the body, so officially lying on the table in the middle of the sitting room. At her burial, there was a crowd of many, many personalities, who all left the house, and I felt so abandoned, alone on this manor.

In autumn, we all left for Petersburg to start the needed education. My brother in the preparatory Lyceum (where Pushkin had studied) and we two in the Smolny Institute for children of the nobility.

The principal of the Lyceum was of Austrian descent. This stiff man prosecuted the free educated and liberal boy, put him in the prison room; but Sasha only laughed at him!

My sister Lilia and I were placed in the Smolny Institute, boarding school. We did not like this tight up life.

My poor sister Lilia died having spent two months form typhus fever. It was a great shock in the family.

I was taken home, and my mother never parted with me until my marriage.

Every Saturday, Sasha came home and had some of his school friends as guest. They had quiet games, never quarreled, and had their meals with us.

Sasha was an excellent student, but he was not ambitious, did not make any efforts to have excellent marks -- which, as his comrades assured, was easily possible.

Every summer, we returned to Lutsikovka, which seemed more green, more thickly wooden every year!

I had a French and German governess. We read books in the afternoon in a lovely apart standing old oak wood, with clear clean grass and a brook on the bottom of the valley. My brother did not spend any time with a French teacher or English now. He was climbing trees, fighting with boys, and really restless.

May 8, 1973

I received your long and most interesting letter of May 3, 1973 and would not like to postpone with the answer to very many questions you gave me.

1. About love to women in his young days. I do not remember any feeling of that kind he had to women. In Sumy lived a most charming cousin of his, Sofia Mikhailovna Sboromiskaya. She had a paralyzed husband who sat without being able to move. A servant came several times a day and carried him in and out. This paralysis was a consequence of immoral life after his marriage. My brother loved her or maybe esteemed her Christian devotions to a man she despised and her care for two sons and their education.

2. He did not choose very brilliant friends. Alexander Voronov was a sentimental poet, not a landowner or aristocrat. Two east provinces half-Germans -- Likhenfeld and Barin Kosuel. Both were of good education, polite, spent Saturday and Sunday in his room, and had their meals with us, but when retired in my brother's room, no noise, no dispute -- reading, chess game, etc.

3. I think there was a time of doubt and indifference when he finished his college (lycee) but I know that he went to Kronstadt. There was a conversation or repentance with Father Ioann. But since then, the name of Father Ioann was guiding in his life.

4. His reactions to 1905 are not known to me.

5. During the Revolution of 1917, he lived with us (my husband, son, and me) in Petersburg. Then he went to the front and from time to time returned to Petrograd because of the defense of his dogma in which he deeply believed.

6. You pronounce Bulatovich with the accent on the "o".

7. My attitude to the religious controversy is respect for my brother's struggle with the Synod.

My father, Ksavery Vikentevich Bulatovich, was a Pole by origin and Catholic by faith. He received his diplomas in the Engineering Academy in Petersburg, where, as I heard, his name is on the gold board. The family of Bulatovich is entered in the ninth book of nobility. A Tatarian Prince Bek Bulatovich Simeon is found in history as advisor of Ivan the Terrible, Czar of Moscow.

My father disliked the Polish feud toward Russians. As commander of army he felt Russian. He was married two times with girls of Orthodox religion. In appearance, he was rather short, but very attractive in his conversation, jokes, and behavior. He was a graceful dancer.

He died of tuberculosis after a severe cold during military maneuvers (games). As a cure, by the medical system of that time, he was advised to live in a warm climate. He traveled with my mother from the Crimea to Italy, and from Italy to Austria, where I was born in June, and he died in November in Switzerland, on Lake Geneva, at Vevey, where he is buried, and where my mother, Sasha and I went to bend on his grave! My mother never wanted to marry an elderly person.

8. I married in 1900 at the age of 25. My husband came to Petersburg to see people and appreciated me. He had a lack of education and compared with the brilliant officers I had to meet in the dancing society, he was very "provincial." But fate wanted to join us. He had no special means except the small help from his father, and I who has married against the great approval of my mother had 200 rubles monthly. But we lived in a small but very poetical estate in Poltava Province, with a lovely rural house, straw-roofed. And there was born our child -- my dear Andrew, who had a hard life to pass, as young student in Louvain Belgium. But he has his Belgian diplomas and good ones, which helped him to earn his living in Congo and from 1952 in Canada and never forgot to help his old parents, my husband sick and me working as a teacher.

9. Yes, my father was commander of the Fifth Sevsky Regiment in Lebedine and later the Dragobuzhsky Regiment in Orel.

10. No, the coachmen taught him, but he liked riding, hunting, climbing trees, and as officer in the Hussar of the Guard he worked on himself and was unbelievable. Example: during the revolutions and First World War he wanted to return to the front. I with a lady (Princess Obolensky) accompanied him. Crowds of soldiers blocked the entrance [to the train]. What did we see?! He approached an open car window, made high jump, and was inside!

11. The Urkainian question was not loud. We had no interest.

12. My diminutive name "Meta" was the fancy of my mother who read when she was pregnant with me a German novel with a sympathetic personality named Meta Holdeness.

Sasha as a monk went to Abyssinia via the convent in Petrograd, Nikiforskoye Podvorye. We lived then in Moscow where my talented self-made husband had an extremely interesting work in rural organization -- "Zemskaya Organizatsia" -- where he met the prime leaders and members of the first and second Duma, such as Dmitri Nikolaevich Shipov, Mikhail Vassilievich Chelnokov, Golovin (president of the second Duma), Prince Georgii Lvov, Chmelev, Polner. They were wealthy people but we were not as rich, and he had to leave this most attractive people and accept a position in Tambov, which brought him to a flattering position later in Petrograd.

13. My brother on his way to Abyssinia came to us in Moscow for several hours. He said that Vaska, who was with him in the convent, is very miserable, teased by school children. His lack of sex (he lost during the war near Lake Rudolf) was discovered. After this, when my brother returned him to Abyssinia, (he found protection for him) I never heard about him. When in 1921, we were leaving our country and settled in Yugoslavia, I wrote to the French consul in Addis Ababa about the young man, but I never had an answer.

We never were in any religious society. We liked and went to our Orthodox church (except my husband).

I read with great interest about Mount Athos! I am afraid that I was too decisive in calling things wrong!

Good-bye dear Mr. Seltzer. Good luck, good inspiration. I shall be very pleased to meet you.

Sincerely,

Mary Orbeliani, 8 May 1973

Haven Hill Retirement Centre, Penticton, British Columbia

I think that I have not given you answers to all the questions. It is late, and I am a little tired.

Letter dated March 25, 1973, but postmarked May 29, 1973

I received your kind letter and I am very pleased that it helped you to have a right idea of my brother Alexander Bulatovich (Sasha). I will not postpone to write you the answers to your questions because (I have not yet had the operation of the cataract of the right eye) my sight is failing every day, as well as my hearing.

1. My son lives not too far from me, five hours diving. But tomorrow he and his wife are leaving for a six-week journey: Italy, Switzerland, France, and Belgium. He comes regularly once a month to see me. His whole life he helped us and was a dear son always.

2. Yes, there was a rumor that the princess Vassilchikov Sonya had a part in his decision to leave the military service and to become a monk. I did not visit my brother too often. We lived far form him. But we (mother and I) were invited once on a "folle journee" to Tsarskoye Selo, residence of the regiment, and rode in a peasant's sledge (a treat during the Carnival Week) and there was afternoon dancing. She [Sonya] was still very young, timid, not talkative, and not too pretty. We rode together, both in the same sledge, but the conversation did not take a good and easy mood. Sasha visited during the summer vacation the beloved commander of the regiment of Hussars, Prince Vassilchikov in Kobno (Leteva [Latvia?]) where they had their estate.

I believe that Sofia Mihailovna Sboromirsky was a puritan love. He frequented her when he was on vacation in Lutsikovka.

Voronov had alter a good position in the Senate (as employee), was married, had two boys who visited my son. He wrote less poetry, but signed sentimentally, was a good husband and father and very good employee, stopped writing verses.

Lihenfeld was melancholic, had bad health. Koskul -- unknown.

Princess Obolensky I knew since my childhood. They lived on Sergievskaya, which was opposite us. Her maiden name was Dietrichs. Her brother later on was at the head of the White Army during the revolution in Harbin. Her sister (my school friend Olga) was later the wife of one of numerous sons of Count Tolstoy -- I never met him (Andre).

The departure of my brother during the revolution (the year of the revolution) when crowds of disorderly mostly soldiers passengers packed the trains. He wanted to reach and did reach the front -- that was the last time I saw him (but we corresponded).

This time, beginning of the events in February, when news came every hour and when the intelligentsia lost power with Rodzianko first, Prince Lvov later, Kerensky later, and at last (the date quite forgotten) was Lenin returned to his country form exile in Switzerland. I heard him speaking but was too far to understand. He took as headquarters the beautiful luxurious house villa of Margarita Kshesinskaya, famous dancer and lover of Tsar Nicholas before his marriage. Emigrations of the members of the Duma -- Lvov, Rodsianko, Miliukov -- followed the arrival to Paris of ____ I believe that a great majority of the intelligentsia did not believe that Lenin is definitely head of the Russian state and that communism is the political party, will be in long power!

My brother looked at his work as his duty during the war, and was not afraid to lose his life for the good of his country. I do not know and am doubted that he found the upheaval of the nation unjust. He was far too honest to see as a nobleman -- just! He went to Lutsikovka and settled there as a monk. The house (the big manor) was destroyed. He lived in a small house and had, I think, two monks like himself to help him. It was the beginning of the new order (the kolkhoz did not exist) and the peasants divided among themselves the big estate. They gave to my brother a part of the garden to work in, to try to make his living in producing vegetables, and when fruit were ripe, to sell or exchange them for chickens, eggs, flour. All this he made and sent to my mother in Sumy (some 40 miles) where she lived -- not in Lutsikovka.

I heard that when he served the mass the church was always full. Religious persecution had not yet taken place.

One night in November gangsters came and as they say, thinking that he was rich, which he was not, killed him by a shot in the nape.

His life in the regiment was religiously, so to say, consecrated to make his rota (company) perfect soldiers, and he was very severe. His comrades gave him the name Mazepa (Ukrainian hero who wanted the independence of Russian possession the Ukraine from Peter the Great), because Lutsikovka is in the Urkraine. He was very loved in the regiment as a good honest comrade.

He had pity to those who were in need. A vzvoschik cried driving him because his horse died. Sasha took from the wall a beautiful painting, a Danal copy from Titian, and gave it to him to sell to buy a horse! It sold for 200 rubles.

Oh, about me I will tell you a long story of how we escaped from the terror. The past of my husband helped him to be loved by the peasants and not hated. But during the fight of the White Army and it advancement to the place where we lived and then retirement could be fatal for us!

I was not yet operated, as I am a great coward -- but soon will have to do it. Better come earlier, the beginning of June.

Most sincerely,

Mary Orbeliani

Katanya na verkah

Pleasure driving by Verkas (Finnish peasants)

In Petersburg it was the custom in carnival weeks (seven weeks before Easter) to have fun riding in a peasant Finnish sledge. Lots of Finnish peasants who lived not far way invaded the town their sledges driven by small, badly cleaned, but very decorated horses that ran quite fast. The horse's uncombed mane was tied throughout with bright colored material, little round bells tinkled loudly. The owner, a Finnish peasant wearing a dirty sheep fur coat, could be hired for some kopeks and would drive a whole family in the little sledge as a delight for the children. I never liked this kind of carnival distraction, but this was an exciting event for many.

It was the middle of March. Frost has passed. Water mixed with snow covered the ground, but it was the beginning of the promising spring, and rejoiced the hearts after long-lasting dark and cold frosty winter.

The Orthodox religion keeps to very severe fasting. Six weeks before Easter the Russians fasted, ate only bread and vegetables and fish with vegetable oil. They drank hot tea with sugar. Butter, milk, eggs, and any kind of meat were forbidden. Some ate once a day. Easter Day was the end of fasting. After midnight service, pious people returned to their homes and there reveled in many kinds of cold meats -- obligatory, ham, roast young mutton, cheese cake, and special Easter bread; painted eggs decorated the rich table, and a turkey.

The glorious song was -- Khristos Voskresen ... Christ has risen from the death!

June 14, 1973

I received your long letter and very, very pleased that the several hours of conversation I have spent with you gave enough material to continue your interesting work.

I am a bit confused that I cannot give you a clear answer when was the last event of the military career of my brother, who after that retied to the convent. I know well that it was spoken about the injustice of the commander in chief toward my brother because of his independence. He did not give him the deserved reward for his courage and intrepidity. I know also that my brother was accused of not consulting the general before he put his projects into action.

I know and remember well that the help to the French missionary, the typhus my brother received as contagion from the missionary, his recovery followed by a rest in Japan when crossing the Japanese sea a terrible typhoon shook their boat and my brother staying on the deck, his eyes caught cold, which was followed by a bad inflammation, the consequences of which he suffered the rest of his life. I heard too about the terrible vision that persecuted him from the dying -- killed by him -- solider, cut by his saber Chinese who blood poured on his face -- and this smell he could not get rid of and considered now all his former deeds as warrior as crime.

He entered the convent built by Father John Sergiev of Kronstadt. I heard that the popularity of Father Ioann Kronshtadsky was created by his power to heal the sick, to bring encouragement to the doubtful, but also that during the mass, before distributing the Holy Communion, he invited the believers to think about their sins and publicly pray God in repentance, not hiding the circumstances. I have no proof, but I believe that when my brother returned to Tsarskoye Selo, with the heavy thought oppressing him, he carried his grief to Kronstadt (which Grotten said too).

You are interested in some parts of my life -- namely, after leaving the country where we have spent the five first years of our marriage, the war broke out. My husband to activity. He was inspired to work in Obshchezemskaya Organizatsyiya, the Community Rural Council of the Red Cross. It was an independent work form the official Red Cross Institution doing the same work. He worked under the sympathetic guidance of the president, Dmitry Nikolaievich Shipov, and having returned to Moscow where me, Andrew, his mother and sister met him happy and inspired at the railway station. He continued his work in Obshchezemskaya Organizatsia. We lived three happy years in Moscow. There my brother on his way to Abyssinia (1908) wanting to return Vaska to his people, visited us for a very short time. I have entirely forgotten if he returned to Russia or stayed at Mount Athos. I think that just then he took this decision.

He told me after that he wanted to kill his flesh and slept in winder on a stone floor which gave him terrible arthritic pains. He told that he and others spent the nights in prayer in the Andreevsky Sobor where they were bitten by bugs.

My mother, following the wish of Sasha, ordered a golden cover on the prestol covering up and sides and it cost huge money. It did not seem to astonish me, to create envy that she gives so much. I hear it absently -- if he finds it just, why not do it. But after that (it was during the first war) we lived in Petersburg, my mother increased to me my monthly pension. (I never had one acre of land to possess, and still lived decently).

The summer months during my absence, the two men -- one liberal, dreaming about civic liberty (my husband), and the other conservative, looking with, I should say, superstition to the absolute power of the Tsar -- agreed very well together, talked and disputed hours without quarreling. Is it not fair!!

Oh the old Russian nobility with its gentlemanly behavior and fair actions. Where are you?

Good-bye, dear Mr. Seltzer. I believe you understand me in the best sense.

Will be very pleased to meet your future wife and you next year.

Good-bye and good success.

Sincerely,

Mary Orbeliani

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