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Innocence and Anarchy

Innocence and Anarchy

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Innocence and Anarchy

Lunghezza:
1,023 pagine
12 ore
Editore:
Pubblicato:
Nov 15, 2010
ISBN:
9781450266178
Formato:
Libro

Descrizione

Innocence and Anarchy offers a brilliant fictionalized portrayal of the tension between the established order and attempts at social reform in nineteenth-century Russia, where innocence, idealism, and faith are transformed into political intrigue, vengeance, and despair. Actual historical events, people, and movements are woven together with fictional characters in a gripping narrative of the monumental changes that occurred in Russia and Europe during the years leading to the Russian Revolution.

The story follows the career of the aristocrat, Nikolai Ivanovitch Bobrikov, from the Caucasus to Finland, as he rises to preeminence in the despotic Czarist regime and becomes Governor General of Finland. In the course of his rise in the government, he uses his power and position to continue the oppressive policies of the Czarwith tragic results. The narrative also follows the poignant story of his half-sister, Tatyana, a serf. Separated from Bobrikov as a young woman, Tatyana finds herself first in France, where she becomes involved in the Paris Commune of 1871, and then in Finland under the iron rule of her half-brother.

Once united in innocence, the siblings are shaped in very different ways by tumultuous forces that helped define the twentieth century, including the emancipation of the serfs, the assassination of Alexander II, the development of socialism, and the rise of terrorism. When Bobrikov and Tatyana cross paths again, fifty years later, their fateful meeting leads to a devastating event that alters the course of history for two nations.

Editore:
Pubblicato:
Nov 15, 2010
ISBN:
9781450266178
Formato:
Libro

Informazioni sull'autore

John Canzanella graduated from Hofstra University with a liberal arts degree. After a career in banking and finance, he earned two graduate degrees from Teacher’s College, Columbia University. John then taught history, English, and philosophy at schools in New York and North Carolina before writing Innocence and Anarchy, his first book. He lives in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, with his wife, Catherine.

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Innocence and Anarchy - John Canzella

Innocence

and

Anarchy

John Canzanella

iUniverse, Inc.

New York Bloomington

Innocence and Anarchy

Copyright © 2010 by John Canzanella

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced by any means, graphic, electronic, or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, taping or by any information storage retrieval system without the written permission of the publisher except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews.

Certain characters in this work are historical figures, and certain events portrayed did take place. However, this is a work of fiction. All of the other characters, names, and events as well as all places, incidents, organizations, and dialogue in this novel are either the products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously.

iUniverse books may be ordered through booksellers or by contacting:

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Because of the dynamic nature of the Internet, any Web addresses or links contained in this book may have changed since publication and may no longer be valid. The views expressed in this work are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the publisher, and the publisher hereby disclaims any responsibility for them.

ISBN: 978-1-4502-6615-4 (sc)

ISBN: 978-1-4502-6616-1 (dj)

ISBN: 978-1-4502-6617-8 (ebk)

Library of Congress Control Number: 2010916208

Printed in the United States of America

iUniverse rev. date: 11/08/2010

… anarchy is loosed upon the world,

The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere

The ceremony of innocence is drowned …

W. B. Yeats

Thanks for all your help Chris, stay safe in Kuwait

Katie, you made all this possible

Contents

Part One

Innocence

Part Two

Anarchy

Part Three

Revolution

Part Four

Assassination

Part One

Innocence

We were as twinned lambs that did frisk i’ the sun

… what we changed

Was innocence for innocence; we knew not

The doctrine of ill-doing, nor dreamed

That any did …

William Shakespeare

April 14, 1855

Rostov Na Donau

Russia

Master Nikolai! Master Nikolai Ivanovitch Bobrikov! Herr Lehrer, a gaunt man with bushy, graying eyebrows, entered the bedroom and placed a pitcher of water on the table. He glanced at his reflection in the Turkish mirror, patted his hair flat, straightened the frayed white collar beneath his black, threadbare cloak, and went to the window to open the drapes and shutters.

Master Nikolai! Time to rise.

Nikolai twisted in the bed and pulled a pillow over his head. Herr Lehrer turned the handle of the window and pushed it open, letting in the morning light. Brisk cold air rushed into the room. He breathed deeply. Ah, a fine morning, master.

He approached the bed and yanked off the pillow covering Nikolai’s head, and then tried to pull off the blankets as well. Nikolai held them tightly. Come now, young man. Breathe in the fresh air, just as you did for the first time seventeen years ago. It is your name day, and your mother is waiting for you. We’ll not have you moldering in bed all morning. Breakfast is almost ready.

Nikolai pulled the blanket over his head. Oh, Herr Lehrer, I’m too tired. The coach was delayed by storms. We didn’t get in ’til after midnight. Tell Maman that you couldn’t find me. Tell her I haven’t arrived yet.

No, I’ll do no such thing. You were here before midnight, young man. Madame Bobrikova is in a foul mood. Your father hasn’t arrived yet and she is expecting guests by three this afternoon. You have to leave for church before noon, so get up right away and go downstairs. She wants us to have an exercise in algebra and a session in rhetoric before the guests arrive. We’ll do a short lesson after breakfast, then a full lesson this afternoon. You’ll be sitting for your orals in a little more than a week, so there will be no pottering around. Madame Bobrikova wasn’t too happy with your grades. We don’t want her to be in any more of a snit than she is now.

Nikolai swung his feet over the side of the bed as he sat up. All right. I’m up. You can leave. He pushed his hair away from his eyes and stretched. Please get me the chamber pot before you go.

Herr Lehrer picked up the porcelain pot and gave it to Nikolai; and then he stepped back and stood perfectly still.

Well, that’s all. You’re not going to watch, are you?

No, I just have to make sure you are up and not tempted to lie down again.

You can go, Herr Lehrer. Tell Maman I’ll be right down.

Herr Lehrer pulled a sweetmeat out of his pocket and gave it to the young man, and then left after making sure the lad was out of bed. Nikolai completed his morning rituals and was tempted to put on the same clothes he had traveled in, but decided they were too wrinkled. He dressed in his day’s best: blue linen blouse, black woolen pants, and a gray duck jacket with brass armorial buttons. As Nikolai dressed, he noticed that the clothes were a little tight and the top pearl button of his blue blouse pinched his neck. He thought of wearing the maroon fez his father had given him, but put it aside and went downstairs. His mother was sitting at the head of the dining table reading letters. He went to her and kissed her on the cheek.

Good morning, Maman.

Is it? I was wondering if it weren’t afternoon.

She did not lift her gaze from the letter. Nikolai noticed that the wheat cakes and tea were no longer hot. He ate quickly and silently, all the while hoping Tatyana would appear, as she normally helped serve breakfast. Did you see Tatyana this morning, Maman?

She’s having a lesson with Herr Lehrer. Why your father insists on giving a serf girl lessons is beyond me. It’s a waste of time and effort. She doesn’t need to read; it won’t help her with chores around the house. In fact, she would be better off just working the fields. I’d even prefer it if I could send her to your uncle. But your father won’t hear of it.

Nikolai knew better than to argue with his mother. When he finished he asked to be excused.

Yes. And I want you to study this morning, Nikolenka. The university examination will have three parts, not just history. Your mathematics and Latin need improvement, especially mathematics. And please, go put on some clothes that are more appropriate. We leave for church at quarter ’til twelve. Some of my friends will be there. If you won’t dress for me, at least try to be presentable for them.

Nikolai knew that no matter how he dressed that morning, his mother would be displeased. It seemed that she was happiest only when she criticized. He went upstairs and changed into his school uniform: a white cotton shirt with a high military collar, beige vest, dark brown trousers, and a light brown field jacket. After admiring himself in the mirror, he went downstairs for his lesson. Herr Lehrer now wore a wig and smelled of scent. He immediately inspected his student, adjusting Nikolai’s collar and patting down his hair, and trying to sound stern.

Here now, he said. "Come, come! Sitzen Sie! Your pen and paper. He picked up an old book, the binding of which was barely holding together, even though it was made of leather. We still have to go over quadratic equations."

Herr Lehrer, I can only learn algebra when I’m well rested. I’m so tired from last night. Can we study Latin this morning? Nikolai knew that if he could get Herr Lehrer to agree to teach Latin, he could easily convince him to talk about mythology, one of his favorite subjects. The plan was successful, and soon Herr Lehrer was recounting the stories of gods, goddesses, and heroes.

Nikolai’s mind wandered, back to his birthday the year before, when his father surprised him by giving him a gold cross on a gold chain and a sword from the Crimea. The four points of the cross were studded with diamonds, and Nikolai dutifully wore it beneath his shirt as a good luck talisman. He considered the sword to be among his most valuable possessions, even though the cross was much more expensive. The sword had been taken from a captured French officer and was etched with the words Mort Avant Dafaite—Death Before Defeat. The boy lost his concentration with the lesson; his imagination took flight and had him leading an impossible charge against British troops. Nikolai wondered what his father would bring him this year. He hoped for a French rifle. His older brother told him of their father’s bravery, leading soldiers and attacking the British and French at Sevastopol, and taking a battle trophy in victory.

When the lesson was over, Nikolai went outside and sat in a carriage, waiting for his mother to ride to the village church. The sun was strong, and as he turned his face to the sky and closed his eyes, he could smell apple blossoms from the orchard in the meadow. His mother soon appeared, called for the driver, and they were on their way. It was a beautiful spring morning, and they passed many peasants and serfs, trudging toward church. Nikolai kept turning around to see if Tatyana was walking to the church. They arrived as the priest opened the doors and greeted the worshipers.

Now see to it that you don’t keep us waiting, Madame Bobrikova warned the driver. You are not to have any drinks while we are in church. I want you back here in forty-five minutes, no more.

The entrance of the church was crowded with peasants waiting until the merchants and landowners had made their way to the front pews. The serfs and peasants were not there out of devotion, but out of fear of displeasing Madame Bobrikova on the name day of her youngest son. They lined the stairs leading into the chapel and, as Madame Bobrikova passed through the church doors, the serfs bowed deeply from the waist. Keeping their heads down, they raised their arms awkwardly to the sky in a sign of respect and submission for the lady of the manor. Some even attempted to kiss her hand, which she withheld as though lepers were accosting her.

Before entering the church, Nikolai saw Tatyana. Her cheeks were pinched red. She wore a scarf that he had given her when he left last Christmas. She smiled and looked down when their eyes met. When Nikolai reached the pew reserved for the Bobrikovs, he told his mother he’d forgotten to bless himself with holy water. Returning to the small fountain at the entrance, he stopped where Tatyana was standing and whispered, After church, at the pond. She blushed and nodded.

When they returned home, Madame Bobrikova insisted that Nikolai stay and wait for his father, who was expected within the hour. She immediately ignored her son, busying herself with directing last-minute chores as she prepared for her guests. Nikolai nodded, but went out at the first opportunity, took off his jacket, and ran to the pond. Disappointed at not finding Tatyana near the large boulder on the bank, their meeting place, Nikolai sat down, feeling again the warming spring sun on his face. He waited, finally lying down on the moist grass and daydreaming, as the perfume of lilacs filled the air. Awakened from his reverie by the sound of small splashes, he first thought that fish were jumping, but soon realized it was Tatyana tossing pebbles into the water. With closed eyes, he said aloud, It’s a large fish on land that disturbs the water.

He opened his eyes and sat up, watching as she came from behind a tree and sat next to him. Her hair was pulled back and tied with a red ribbon, accentuating her high cheekbones, and a sprig of purple lilac stuck out above her ear.

No, she said, it’s only a mermaid. You must be the fish out of water.

Tatyana was five months younger than Nikolai and his only friend at the estate. His brother, nine years older, seemed more like an uncle. Their older sister had died when Nikolai was two, and Tatyana was now both brother and sister. They had always played together, even though his mother discouraged it. Nikolai’s father approved of them having fun together, and always tried to involve Tatyana in parlor games and lessons with Nikolai. He often said that Tatyana reminded him of his little daughter, and he would point out that Tatyana had no parents. Her mother had died in childbirth, and the father never took responsibility.

They two sat and talked, each relating what had happened since Nikolai had left four months before. Nikolai wanted to know what Tatyana was studying, and if she still remembered all the czars from Peter the Great to the present.

Of course, she replied. Herr Lehrer taught me. He makes learning easy and it’s so much fun. Nikolai smiled in amusement at Tatyana’s enthusiasm. And here, Herr Lehrer showed me the game you and your brother played when you wrote to your father. She showed him a letter. See, all the first letters in the left margin spell out a secret message. Read down, not across, only using the first letter.

I am writing you this letter

Maybe you can write to me.

In case you don’t know who this is

Send it to the house at Rostov

Since it will find me there.

Years from now

On the date of your birthday, I’ll be

Unable to forget it.

Nikolai read the letter and smiled. I have missed you also, Tatyana. I missed you this morning.

Your mother insisted on having a lot of bread and cakes for the guests, so I had to stay in the kitchen. I don’t think Madame Bobrikova wants me to join you and Herr Lehrer. I don’t think she likes me.

"Oh, she’s like that with everyone. Don’t worry. When Father arrives, he’ll make everything nice and cheerful. He’s so proud of you. He’ll ask, ‘Now tell me, what have you two been doing with Herr Lehrer? And don’t tell me about the lessons you don’t like. Tell me about the really interesting things you are doing.’ And we can tell him all about Shakespeare’s Macbeth. You were quite a Lady Macbeth."

And you made a terrible Macbeth. Oh, no, I mean, you were so good that Macbeth seemed real. He was terrible, not you. Honest, you read your parts so well, I hated Macbeth.

Nikolai chuckled. Should we tell Papa that Herr Lehrer was funny? When he tried to give Banquo a Scottish accent, I almost laughed. I couldn’t look at you because I knew we would both break out into giggles.

That’s why I kept my head down. But I did enjoy his question at the end of the play. Do you remember?

"You mean, how did Fleance become king, just as the three hags prophesied? Shakespeare ended the play with one of Duncan’s sons as king. We had to write an outline telling how Banquo’s son became king.

"Tatyana, would you like to see Hamlet on stage? If it’s ever performed at the Hermitage Theater, I’ll ask Father to send for you, and I’ll take you to the play. Better still, what if I asked Father to have you brought to our place in the city?"

Tatyana turned away, and her silence told Nikolai that he had touched a sore spot. Still, he continued, Don’t you want to go to St. Petersburg?

Yes, but not as a serf. I don’t want you to become my master, which will eventually happen. I don’t want you, or anyone, to look on me as a servant. I am grateful to your father and how he treats me, but I am still his serf. He can choose my husband, decide where I work, control my life. I want to be free. I want all serfs to be free.

If I ever became your master, Tatyana, I would set you free.

Would you free all the serfs your family owns?

Nikolai was silent. Not wanting to answer that question, he began talking about his plans to attend St. Petersburg University.

They continued to sit and talk for an hour. A breeze rippled the water, and then a gust of wind blew across the pond. Small waves ruffled against the shore. They didn’t notice the dark clouds gathering until the storm broke on top of them. They ran back toward the house in pouring rain. Soaked, they stopped at the stables and took shelter inside. As they rushed into the barn, Tatyana slipped in a puddle oozing from beneath the door and fell into the sludge on the floor. She got up quickly, embarrassed. Her shirt speckled with muck, hands dripping with wet black dirt, she seemed ready to cry. Tatyana always took pains to be neat and clean in front of Nikolai, so he knew she was upset. He took her hands and wiped them on the front of his shirt.

It’s nothing, he said. This dirt helps flowers and trees to grow, so it can’t be bad and it won’t hurt you. Besides, now we both have stains.

He smiled and continued to hold her hands, but she looked down, refusing to look at him.

But I’ll never get it clean!

It’s all right, we’ll get it clean.

When she looked at him, he saw that tears had filled her eyes. She was beautiful, vulnerable, and shy, and he saw something else that he had never noticed before. There was a softness, a yielding. Tatyana was becoming a woman; she was no longer a girl of sixteen. Her glance penetrated his being. It was as if he wanted to become part of her.

The storm outside passed as quickly as it had appeared. They were in the shadows of the barn, and slanted shafts of light from the late afternoon sun filtered through the cracks in the siding. The sun was low in the sky, and golden light alternating with shade surrounded them. Motes of dust danced in the rays. Nikolai realized he had never held her hands before. Not like this. He let them go but looked into her eyes intensely; tried to speak but couldn’t. He wanted to do something to comfort her. He began to unbutton his shirt. She protested, but he said this was the best way to clean the muck off. With his shirt off, he lifted his necklace over his head and offered it to her.

What are you doing? she asked.

I want you to have this. My father gave it to me.

It was the gold chain with the cross on it, his good luck charm. The diamonds shone incandescent in the dim light of the barn.

Father said this always will help whoever wears it. It guards you from danger, from misfortune. It has the power to protect the owner.

He began to unclasp the hooks on her blouse. She tried to stop him, but as their fingers touched, she trembled. He gently guided the necklace over her head, laying the diamond cross against her neck, and then rested his hands on her shoulders.

She said, No, don’t. but the words carried no conviction. She reached for his hands, and as she held them, he felt her yield. She urged his hands down to her breasts. Nothing was spoken. Her eyes acquiesced. He finished unfastening the clasps, and when all of them were undone Tatyana stood there with her blouse open, breasts pale white in the shadows. Her neck was tanned, accenting the purity of the snowy skin below the gold and diamond necklace. He stepped back and for the first time saw Tatyana as a woman. They were both breathing faster. He gently pulled her toward his body, and he could feel her breasts against his chest. Nikolai shivered. She led him to a dark corner of the barn and they fumbled with their clothes while she pulled him down to the ground.

Hurry, hurry, he whispered.

Yes, yes. she replied.

He could feel her arms and hands squeezing his back as her nails dug into his skin. And then, quickly, it was over.

Suddenly a side door opened. The stable master’s son burst into the barn.

Here he is! he shouted.

Nikolai jumped up in surprise and then clumsily dressed as the boy ran out of the barn. Tatyana rose, smoothed her skirt, pulled her blouse together, and dashed out of the barn. She stopped by an ancient oak tree and looked back at Nikolai. Her hair was flat, dark, and wet, her blouse stained by the stable muck. She stood dappled in the shade of the late afternoon sun. Her hands were holding onto the amulet around her neck. The image of her standing there burned in his mind. He wanted to see her once more. Naked. It was the last time Nikolai saw her as a young woman.

Herr Lehrer ran into the stable. His eyes were red and he could barely speak.

Master Nikolai, he panted. Your mother must see you immediately.

Nikolai buttoned his shirt and raced into the house, but he hesitated when he reached the library. His mother stood by the fireplace holding a letter. Turning to Nikolai, she walked a few unsteady steps toward him, stiff and expressionless, examining her son’s disheveled, dirty shirt. At first, Nikolai thought he would be scolded, but then Madame Bobrikova’s cold, dense voice cut through Nikolai’s being.

Look at you, Nikolenka. Why, someone could mistake you for one of the field hands.

She opened her black lace fan. Your father won’t be coming home today. She paused, and then continued without emotion, He died two days ago. From cholera, not from wounds suffered in battle. He couldn’t even give me an honorable death. Cholera! Her hand shook as she fanned herself.

She raised the embroidered handkerchief in her other hand to her nose, pretending to be affected by her husband’s death. His remains will be here tomorrow.

She almost whispered, Cholera!

Madame Bobrikova looked at Nikolai, who could not fully comprehend what she said. At first, he thought she was engaged in some cruel game and he tried not to smile. Soon, the meaning of her words sank in, and the lad sat down on a chair, shaking his head in denial. No! It’s not true!

It is. Please get off the chair with those dirty clothes. And try to be more presentable. There will be an honor guard from Sevastopol to dignify the funeral.

April 14, 1855

45 Rue de Lille

Paris, France

The day broke cold and raw. Although it was still early, Lucien Grasse decided to sweep the sidewalk later, so he could stay warm by attending to his ovens. He and his wife had suffered through another chilly night. They could not afford the luxury of burning wood at night, because they needed to save it for baking. He went back inside and tried to estimate how many loaves would be needed this day. Business was not good. Many of his regular customers now preferred to go to the new avenues and boulevards, where they could sit at outdoor cafés before they set out for work. They could have their bread, pastries, and coffee, and watch people on the broad streets while reading the daily journals in the morning sun.

At least they didn’t tear down this building, he thought. But they will.

The Grasse family had been bakers for three generations and had owned the property for almost forty years. His grandfather had left his farm after the fields were trampled by Napoleon’s army as it marched from Paris, and then trampled again when the army retreated. They ruined his planting one year and his harvest the next. He sold the farm to speculators and came to Paris after the Restoration, to earn a new living by baking bread. The Grasses survived all the ensuing Paris revolutions. But now, they faced the prospect of losing the shop under Napoleon III’s plan to make Paris a world capital. It was just a matter of time before the redevelopment of Paris, planned by Baron Haussmann, would disturb their neighborhood, as it had other narrow alleys and dark streets

Madeline! Lucien called from the back room as he measured the amount of flour left in his grain barrel. Madeline! I think we can last until Friday, but we should order now so we won’t be short this weekend.

His wife’s voice came from the room upstairs. I don’t know if anyone will give us credit. We still owe for the last three batches.

Don’t worry, God will provide. Say a prayer at church this morning.

And Lucien began his day as usual, by preparing his ovens, measuring flour, water, salt, and yeast for bread, while adding sugar and almond to another batch of flour for pastries.

***

While Madeline was at church, Lucien received the notice he had been dreading. The carrier from the Postale arrived early with the only letter Lucien received that week. He was to report to the Hotel de Ville in two days for an appointment with the city planning office. He knew at once that the purpose was to condemn his property and tear it down to make way for more of the new buildings and avenues that were transforming Paris. Lucien went outside and started to sweep, but it was still too cold for him. He rested the broom against his door and buttoned his jacket. He waved to his friend, Marcus, who owned the grocery across the street.

Did you get to the train station last night?

Marcus nodded. Late last night or early this morning. It’s all the same since it’s so dark. Produce from Algiers, figs, dates, oranges, grains, vegetables, and fresh fruit, fresher than from the farms outside Lyon.

Lucien went inside. Standing by the window, he saw Marcus bring out cabbages, potatoes, turnips, and fruits and place them in bins in front of his store. He also saw two young boys nearing the grocer’s shop. They separated, and one lad fell to the ground and began screaming. Marcus went to the boy, who writhed on the ground holding his stomach. Distracted, the grocer didn’t notice the other boy filling his pockets with food and hiding fruits under his worn coat. The young thief crossed the street to the front of the bakery, and Lucien quickly stepped outside and grabbed the youngster. The boy started to kick and scream, but Lucien held fast, even when the boy tried to bite his hand. The small amount of groceries fell out from under the coat, and Lucien yelled, Marcus, Marcus, hold the other boy! But the other boy scrambled up and ran away as Marcus, realizing the lads’ scheme, ran across to Lucien to scoop up the produce. He emptied the boy’s pockets as well.

Lucien asked, Shall I get the police?

It won’t do any good. The boy will be back on the streets this afternoon. They should arrest his mother.

You young scamp! Lucien shouted, turning to the boy. I’ll teach you to steal! He reached for the broom and, holding the twisting, fidgeting boy at arm’s length, tried to smack him across his rump. Madeline, returning from church, dashed across the street to intervene.

Come now, she said to Lucien, put the broom down. We’ll take care of this inside.

They brought the boy into the store. A yellowish bruise a few days old covered his right cheek. Lucien was fuming and still yelling. You damned little gypsy! Try to take our goods will you? We’re good honest shopkeepers!

He lifted the boy up with one hand and smacked him across the side of his head. The little boy, no older than six, only stared at Lucien with defiant, feral eyes. Lucien hit him again; the boy stubbornly ignored the blow. He was about to hit him once more, when Madeline stepped between them. Enough, Lucien, enough.

She took the boy from her husband and held him away from Lucien. The boy continued to stare at Lucien like a wild animal.

Lucien, enough! You’ll hurt the boy. She went to a bench and sat down with the boy in her lap.

I’ll hurt the little devil, all right. I’ll knock the dirt off him. Look at him. He’s filthy.

There must be a reason why he’s filthy. Madeline started to rock the boy. Holding him to her bosom, she reached behind the counter and offered the lad a pastry.

Here, sweetheart, you must be hungry. The boy hesitated, unsure of Madeline’s generosity. It’s going to be all right, little man. The boy softened and looked puzzled, obviously not used to the kindness of strangers. After a moment, he took the pastry, stuffed a piece of it into his mouth, swallowed without chewing, and began to cry.

See Lucien, all your ranting and beating makes no impression. But can’t you see what a little charity does? She spoke soothingly to the boy. It’s all right, dear. It’s all right. Just eat this cake and everything will be fine. Lucien, get some milk from the kitchen.

Lucien left muttering and came back a few minutes later with a ladle of milk. The cake was already eaten.

Now just attend to your business, Lucien, and leave me with this child.

When Lucien had finished preparing the bread in the back room, he went out front and saw Madeline rocking back and forth with the boy fast asleep in her arms. Lucien thought how she would have been a good mother, but the Lord had not blessed them. He could not help feeling a tenderness at the sight of his wife cradling the child, and he regretted being so angry with the boy.

What are you going to do? he asked.

Madeline had a contented smile on her face. I guess I’ll take him to his home and see if I can help.

Madeline, we can’t even help ourselves. The notice arrived. I’m to go to the Planning Commission. That’s how they do it. They summon you, then they tell you to move out of Paris. They’ll tear down this building, give us a pittance for it, and expect us to start all over. They send you beyond the walls of Paris to mingle with the riffraff. It’ll be our ruin.

Madeline continued to rock with the boy’s cheek resting on her breast. We’ll survive. God will help, but I’m sure the Lord would like to see you at Mass once a week. She pressed the boy’s head to her. I’ll take the boy to his flat when he wakes up.

But where does he live?

He doesn’t know the street’s name, just where it’s located, and knows how to get home. He knows the number and this key around his neck must open the door. I told him his mother would like some bread. I’ll bring a loaf. He said his mother sleeps during the day, but didn’t make him breakfast the last two mornings. These are hard days for all of us. You saw how he ate the bread. He really isn’t a bad child. Hunger can make us all thieves.

***

That afternoon the boy led Madeline to a narrow street filled with garbage, and with rancid sewer water running along its sides. Madeline held her scarf across her nose to block out the stench.

Here it is, the boy said. He opened a wooden door leading to a dark stairwell and ran up the stairs. With only a dim hall light at each landing, Madeline could barely see the steps and hardly keep up with the boy. They reached the sixth floor. There were two doors, and the boy quietly approached the one with B written above a pitted brass knocker. As Madeline was about to knock, the door to A opened. Light from a kerosene gas lamp illuminated the dark hall. An old crone came out.

Oh, I thought it was the gen’leman. He hasn’t been here in weeks. The harlot needs her money for rent. The landlord is getting impatient. You aren’t related, are you?

Oh. No, no, just a friend, Madeline stammered.

The old lady nodded. Well, they gonna evict her soon. She closed the door, and the hall was darkened again.

Shhh, the boy whispered. He slowly opened the unlocked door, and the smell of camphor came from the darkness within.

Madeline tiptoed in, asking, Anyone here? Hello?

The only light came from a small window covered with sheets. She looked around, and as her eyes grew accustomed to the darkness, she saw a bed crumpled with blankets.

Hello? Anyone here?

The boy stayed back and lingered in the doorway. She sleeping, he said with a fearful expression on his face.

Madeline approached the bed, nearly knocking over a basin stained with dried mucus that stood on a nearby table. She could see a pale face, the eyes wide open. The brows were penciled in, and her cheeks and lips were still red with rouge. The beauty that age had taken away still echoed in her features. The woman was stiff and cold, rigid.

Madeline glanced at the boy and saw that he knew. A primal instinct inside him recognized his mother’s death, but he was too young to comprehend its finality. You’re right, she said, your mother is sleeping. Wait downstairs. Be quiet, we don’t want to wake her. She quickly decided she should take the boy to the authorities, but as it was late, it would have to be done tomorrow. She searched for some clothes for the lad. Go, go. Be quiet. I’ll be right down.

The boy went out as Madeline looked for a dresser or closet to see if anything could be saved for the boy. She saw a small commode and opened the top drawer, and then the middle drawer, finding some embroidered nightshirts for an infant. A tintype with the picture of the small boy sitting happily on his mother’s lap rested underneath a sweater. In the bottom drawer she found a small cedar box. She opened it and saw it was filled with jewels and crisp new francs. Madeline put it back, stared at the dead woman, blessed herself, and started to leave. Hesitating, she went back, picked up the cedar box from the bottom drawer, and left the apartment.

***

The woman was dead. I couldn’t just leave the money there. It’s the boy’s now. Besides, who knows if the jewels have any value? We can use the money to take care of the boy.

Lucien nodded. I guess so. I don’t like it, but what can we do now? You’ve stolen the box and we have an orphan on our hands.

How can you say I stole anything? It’s the boy’s inheritance. And he doesn’t have to be an orphan, although if you insist, I’ll take him to the Sisters of Poverty tomorrow. But everyone knows the conditions in the orphanage are almost as bad as the streets. He’ll run away and be living in an alley before he’s a week older.

She opened the box and showed Lucien the jewelry. You know, I think she was a courtesan. No, she started as a courtesan, then began to walk the streets when she was abandoned. She gave birth to the child and the father tried to keep everything quiet. He was probably married. And rich too! He paid the rent. Who knows what happened? Maybe there was someone else, another young woman. No, I’ll wager that his wife found out. He must have given the poor wench conscience money. And she, poor thing, dying of consumption, probably loved him and wouldn’t make a fuss.

Oh, Madeline, your imagination is running wild. Lucien reached out and fingered a string of pearls. Well, perhaps. But what are we going to do? Even if we go to the authorities, they’ll put him in the orphanage, and you’re right, it would be the worse for the boy. And they’ll take the jewels and money for themselves. He’ll be released one way or another to the streets and probably become a real thief. He already has a good start. But how can we take him in? We don’t even know if we’ll have this roof over us in a month.

Madeline went over to Lucien and rested her head against his shoulder. Now do you know what I prayed for at church today, more reverently than usual? A family. God works in strange ways. He must have been listening. Maybe this is the answer to my prayers. Besides, if the jewels have any worth, it’ll help us if they take our bakery. If we keep the boy we’ll have to have a good home. Let’s look at the gems once more; I think there’s a diamond. And count the money this time.

Lucien thought on this. Madeline, if you are right and they do take this building, we’ll do it, but only if the jewels have value. Maybe we can have a son, this boy, and we’ll rent in a proper neighborhood and teach him to be a proper lad. Do you know his name?

No, but I have a name. Christian. Christian is his name.

The Crimean War

1853-1855

On June 24, 1812, Napoleon Bonaparte crossed the Niemen River in Lithuania with almost 600,000 soldiers and declared war on Russia. After his victory at the Battle of Borodino, he found the road to Moscow open, and marched into the city on September 14, expecting to be greeted by an official delegation to surrender the city. No one came to meet him, however; and he discovered that the Russians did not surrender at Moscow, but had only retreated and adopted a scorched earth policy. When the victorious Napoleon realized he had conquered an abandoned city, a city stripped of all supplies, a city that was being burned by partisans, he decided to retreat to Paris.

During the march back to Paris, the French trudged over land that had been stripped of food and fodder. Since no grasses grew in the fields, the French were unable to feed the horses needed to pull the cannons, ammunitions, and supplies. The horses were dying of hunger, as were the famished French soldiers, who began to eat the only means of transport for the army. They abandoned artillery and wagons, and their cavalry ceased to exist. As they did, Russian guerillas and Cossacks harassed the French. When Napoleon’s Grand Armee recrossed the Niemen River, they numbered only 10,000. The French were defeated by a supply line that was stretched too thin, the scorched earth policy of the Russians, and the Russians’ most able commander, General Winter.

Forty years later, France and Russia were again at war. Nicholas, the brother of Alexander I, and Napoleon Bonaparte’s nephew, Napoleon III, faced each other over an issue that began as a religious dispute between Catholicism and Orthodoxy in Palestine.

Russians considered Moscow the Third Rome. They believed the true faith of Christ had passed from Rome to Constantinople, and then to the city on the Moskva River. Christianity officially came to Russia in the tenth century, when Prince Vladimir of Kiev rejected the pagan beliefs of the Rus. He wanted to establish one of the world’s major religions in his city, and explored the beliefs of the world’s different faiths. He considered Judaism, but rejected that religion since the Jews had no country.

Where is your country? he asked. When the Jews responded that they possessed no land since the wrath of God had punished them for their sins, he was dismayed and did not want to embrace the beliefs of a people whom God had abandoned.

He considered Islam, but its restrictions on food and alcohol were too great a price to pay. Little water, the name for vodka, was too enjoyable to sacrifice. Catholicism, on the other hand, was a religion of the west and Russia was an Asiatic country. Vladimir’s grandmother had been an Orthodox Christian, and the Grand Prince adopted the religion of the Eastern Roman Empire as the state religion of Russia in 988 AD. After the Mongol invasion, the Metropolitanate of the Patriarch of Byzantine was moved from Kiev to Moscow.

When Constantinople fell to the Turks in 1453, the Russian Orthodox Church became the legitimate successor to the Eastern Orthodox Church. Christians under Muslim domination looked to Moscow for protection.

Nicholas Romanov I, the brother of Alexander I, assumed the mantle of both state and church when he became czar of Russia in 1825. Treaties with Turkey acknowledged his status as the protector of Christians in Palestine. Nicholas dreamed of raising the Christian Cross over Saint Sophia’s dome. He stated that the welfare of the millions of Christians under Turkish rule were his main concern and something he would never compromise. He believed that the other Christian countries of Europe would unite with him and join Russia in a Crusade against Turkey.

Two prominent, outspoken Russian émigrés, Alexander Herzen and Mikhail Bakunin, criticized his actions. Herzen said that Russia under Nicholas was a repressive government without flag or name, with the cord of slavery around its neck. It was knocking at history’s doors with the pretensions of a Byzantine Empire, one foot in Germany, the other in the Pacific Ocean. Bakunin dismissed Nicholas as merely a pompous tyrant of German origin who didn’t understand the true needs or character of the Russian people.

France and England were suspicious of the czar’s motives and considered his meddling a way to expand his empire at their expense. Under Napoleon III, France also had a score to settle with Nicholas. Like the royal houses of Europe that viewed this nephew of the first Napoleon as an interloper and only reluctantly accepted him as one of their own, Russia was scornful of Napoleon III’s elevation to Emperor of France. When he ascended the purple as emperor, Napoleon received a letter from Nicholas that addressed him as Mon cher ami—My good friend. Emperors were supposed to address each other as Mon cher frère—My dear brother. Napoleon shrugged off the insult by saying that one can choose his friends but not his brothers, and added that one good friend is worth more than a bad brother. Nicholas was quoted as saying that one chooses his friends, but brothers are given by heaven. When Russia needed a brother to confront Turkey, France chose not to be a friend. Napoleon had a long memory and didn’t forget insults. In addition, France had its own imperialistic interests in Syria.

The English also refused to enter into an alliance with Russia. They were suspicious of Russia’s expansion into the Black Sea and Asia, which threatened Britain’s Empire in the Middle East and India. They did not want Russia to dominate the Black Sea and the eastern entrance to the Mediterranean. France, England, and Turkey were determined to stand up to Russia. Meanwhile, Nicholas was combining gunpowder with incense and planning for a holy war.

***

In his book On War, published in 1831, one year after his death, Karl von Clausewitz wrote that war is a test of moral, not physical, strength. He argued that there are three elements of war: the governments that have objectives in declaring war, the armies that fight the war, and the citizens who support the war. For a war to be successful, it must have the support of its people. Mobilizing that support is just as important as mobilizing armies. If one nation can destroy another nation’s spirit, it can be triumphant. A victorious nation not only tries to destroy an enemy’s army, but also tries to kill its enemy’s courage, its desire to fight, and its morale. When successful battles are not supported by public opinion, when the military loses the enthusiasm of its citizens, when the horror of war makes people question the objectives of military force, a war cannot be won. A nation can only attain military supremacy by maintaining popular support for war.

A nation therefore has to offer compelling reasons to declare war, reasons enthusiastically accepted by its citizens. A nation’s people must believe in a cause that asks its youth to offer the ultimate sacrifice, a cause that sometimes requires parents to bury their sons and that brings untold hardships to the population. The weakest reason for declaring war concerns material gain. The strongest reason involves principles, especially if they are wrapped in sanctimonious robes. Many countries have cloaked their materialistic motives for economic and political exploitation in the garments of idealism, spirituality, and religion. At the beginning of the nineteenth century, Napoleon Bonaparte cried "Liberté, égalité, fraternité" while he sought economic and political domination of Europe.

***

In 1853, Napoleon III and Czar Nicholas would never have been able to justify the Crimean War if their true motives had been disclosed. The stench behind their declarations and seemingly noble purposes for the Crimean War demands that their true motives be uncovered, in order to examine the cesspool beneath them.

Napoleon III claimed that France had historical and special rights to protect Catholics in the Holy Land. These rights, which had lapsed during the atheistic days of the French Revolution and the emasculation of French military power after Napoleon’s exile in 1815, were very important to the honor of Napoleon III. Greek monks had infringed on Roman Catholic priests’ access to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. The dispute involved possession of keys to doors of the Church and, incredibly, the sweeping of walks that led to the holy Christian sites. Napoleon III demanded that the sultan of Turkey restore Catholic primacy in Jerusalem and Bethlehem, and recognize France as the defender of Christianity in the Holy Lands. The sultan capitulated to the French demands.

Czar Nicholas considered himself the heir to Rome and Constantinople—indeed, czar is the Slavic pronunciation of Caesar—and Nicholas came to the defense of the Greek Orthodox monks. He insisted that the sultan rescind his concession to Napoleon III. Nicholas’s honor and the Orthodox Church had been sullied. The sultan, ruling a country that Czar Nicholas referred to as the sick man of Europe agreed, and then hesitated and tried to please both emperors. The Russians demanded justice and the right to intervene in Turkish affairs. This would enable the czar to expand his Black Sea fleet into the Mediterranean. Both Russia and France sought allies in their defense of civilization. When Turkey did not comply with Nicholas’s demands, Russia declared war on Turkey. The Russian Navy destroyed the Turkish fleet, opening the way to Constantinople, the warm-water port sought by Russia.

France and Britain did not want Russia to control the Dardanelles, and declared war on Russia. Here was a combustible mixture: France and Russia, a Napoleon and a czar. Not wishing to invade Russia as his uncle had, Louis Napoleon III and his ally, Queen Victoria, confined the war to the Black Sea, with the Russian port of Sevastopol their objective. The siege of Sevastopol lasted one year before the city finally yielded to the continuous bombardment. The capitulation, aside from being an embarrassment to Russia, gave no military advantage to France and England. Soon after the fall of this inconsequential port, Czar Nicholas died suddenly. The new czar, Alexander II, asked for terms of peace.

The populations of each country involved initially greeted the war with enthusiasm. What was withheld from French citizens was Napoleon III’s need and desire for prestige and legitimacy as the nephew of Napoleon Bonaparte. Indeed, he wrote to his fiancée, Eugenie, before the war began that he intended to promote loyalty in his army and prevent the possibility of any coup d’état by involving France in a popular war. He also wanted to extend French influence into the Middle East in order to build a canal through Suez, giving France access to the markets and riches of India and the Far East. His defense of the Roman Church would ensure the political support of French Catholics. It would also solidify his standing in the Italian States in opposition to Austria, France’s rival, as the most powerful state in mainland Europe.

What was withheld from the Russian populace was Nicholas’s desire for a warm-water port to the Mediterranean and expansion into the Black Sea countries along Russia’s southern borders. What was withheld from the people of both Russia and France was the desire to pick apart the bones of the Ottoman Empire. National aggrandizement, political control, and economic hegemony were never offered as reasons for the nations’ sacrifice of their youth. Such worldly and materialistic explanations would hardly inspire young men to take up arms and die. But both countries found that their citizens would gladly perish for the Motherland and the Church, and for idealistic notions of honor and religion.

More than 115,000 French and English soldiers died, while more than twice that number of Russian soldiers lost their lives.

April 16, 1855

Rostov Na Donau

Russia

The large library had been converted for the viewing. The coffin rested on a large, low table, surrounded by memorial funeral candles. A chanter monotonously read the Psalter from a lectern in the corner of the room, while smoke arose from a censer that swayed in the breeze of an open window. An honor guard from Sevastopol stood at attention behind the casket, while other guards stood near the door, immobile, eyes straight ahead and faces expressionless. The body rested on red velvet with the head on a satin pillow. Young Nikolai, unaware of anyone else in the room, looked at the translucent, hollow face, and then gazed at the ribbon with pictures of the Lord, the Virgin, and St. John that lay across his father’s chest. It seemed he had no more tears to shed. He refused to believe it was his father who lay motionless before him. It was more like some waxen copy of his father, a plaster facemask painted to resemble a man. The Bobrikov household sat on the left side of the room, mourning the loss of the man who had treated them all so kindly. The servants wondered what changes awaited them now, with Madame Bobrikova free to run the estate as she saw fit. They feared their lives would become much more difficult.

Peasants, field serfs, and house serfs, friends and neighbors, many red-eyed and sniffling, approached the coffin, knelt, murmured a prayer, and rose. They whispered their condolences to Madame Bobrikova, sitting in a chair at the foot of the coffin. The serfs and peasants then went quietly into the kitchen for cakes and vodka, while the friends and neighbors retired to the salon where a buffet had been arranged. All the while, Madame Bobrikova sat stonily, staring into space. Two lawyers entered the room and awkwardly paid their respects to the body. They went to Madame Bobrikova, spoke softly, and escorted her out of the room, withdrawing to the study to go over papers and documents.

Nikolai had no idea how long he sat in the room. He watched as a servant came in and quietly summoned Herr Lehrer to the study. After a short time, Herr Lehrer came back, genuflected before the coffin, dabbed his eyes, and left again. Nikolai felt dryness in his mouth and, as he had been in the room since early morning, arose and started for the kitchen for a glass of water. In the long hallway leading to the kitchen, he heard his name called. It was Herr Lehrer, who opened the door leading to the piano room.

Nikolai, Nikolai, he whispered as he opened the door a little wider. I must see you, in here. Master Nikolai, please.

Nikolai slipped into the room, and Herr Lehrer continued. I want to say good-bye. I know this isn’t the right time with all your grief, but your mother has released me and asked me not to see you. So it would be best if we did not tell her. I couldn’t leave without saying God be with you. I don’t have much time. She asked me to leave this afternoon. I must pack. Master … Master Nikolai, I am so sorry about your loss.

Words then failed him. He wiped away a tear and sat next to Nikolai on the sofa. They both stared at the floor. Finally, Herr Lehrer exhaled and said, Master Nikolai, I must be taking leave of you. Your mother has canceled my contract. She’s embarrassed me for the last time. She insisted that I wear these clothes, servant’s clothes.

Nikolai looked at the black swallowtail coat, noticing it for the first time.

I leave for Moscow in an hour. I just wanted to say auf wiedersehen. I wasn’t sure if you would come out of the library this afternoon. I am glad you did. I couldn’t leave without saying farewell to my best student.

Nikolai’s eyes began to fill with tears. But why? Herr Lehrer, my lessons aren’t finished.

Oh, they are, they are. I can’t teach you much more. All you’ll need is to review our lessons. You’ll be fine for the examinations.

But I won’t. I can’t pass the orals. You can’t leave. He shook his head. Anyway, the examinations don’t matter. I’m not going to the university.

Oh, come now, master. Don’t you think your father would want you to enroll?

No. I mean, maybe, it doesn’t matter.

Nikolai, I know this is a difficult time for you. But you can’t make rash decisions in this state. You should carry on as before. Your mother will get you an appointment to the Palace Guards, just as she did for your brother. There is a very bright future for you. You’ll have to carry on. You should—

Nikolai interrupted. How can I carry on as before? Nothing will be the same. My life has changed completely. Herr Lehrer, I know that I am at a crossroad in my life. I don’t want to live for myself alone. I want to help those less fortunate than me.

Yes, everything has changed. But your life must go on. That’s what death can teach us. It must teach us to live. That’s what you must learn from this. And you will come to many crossroads in your life. You must be prepared to make the right decisions.

They both sat in silence for quite a while

Master Nikolai, I do have to say good-bye. And there’s more news, maybe even a disappointment. I must help Tatyana with her belongings. She’ll be joining me. I’m to take her to Moscow.

Frowning, Nikolai stood up and grabbed Herr Lehrer’s arm. Why is Tatyana leaving? he asked, his voice rising.

Herr Lehrer hesitated. Oh, my! You haven’t been informed, master. I hate to be the one to tell you, but I am sure your mother will tell you shortly. Your father left a testament. He admitted that Tatyana was his daughter. I’m sorry I have to tell you this. Your father is Tatyana’s father.

Nikolai stared at Herr Lehrer. He shook his head, released Herr Lehrer’s arm, and sank back into his chair.

My sister? It can’t be! No. Not after what I have done!

If Herr Lehrer knew what Nikolai meant, he ignored the lad’s confession and continued. He left Tatyana a small inheritance and granted her freedom. I think you can understand that your mother wants her to leave as soon as possible. And I’m sure that my contract being canceled ties in with taking her to Moscow. Madame Bobrikova wants me to take her to Bavaria after we obtain passports. She doesn’t even want her in Russia. I’m sure we can secure suitable employment in a fine home. We’ve received excellent references. Tatyana didn’t want to go, but she learned about your … I mean, her father. Madame Bobrikova wasn’t going to say a thing. She only told Tatyana to leave. But the lawyers told Tatyana everything. They were required to. After all, there is a small amount of money involved. And she had to sign some type of release against your father’s estate. I asked Tatyana if she wanted to see you before we left. She said no, but asked me to give you this.

He held out the gold and diamond cross that Nikolai had given her in the barn.

No. It’s hers. Maybe it will be of use to her someday. Maybe it will serve her better than it served me. It might protect her.

Very well, I’ll give it back. Under the circumstances, it is best we leave quickly. Perhaps you might want to come down to the serfs’ quarters and wish her well.

Nikolai shook his head. He said nothing more, and finally Herr Lehrer quietly said good-bye and left the room.

1855

The Second Empire

France

Josephine, first wife of Napoleon Bonaparte, was forty years old in 1802 and still had not conceived a child with the emperor. An heir to the French throne was necessary to carry on the regime and Bonaparte’s legacy. Josephine’s only children—a son and a daughter—had been born when she was married to Alexandre Beauharnais, who was executed on the guillotine in 1794, during the Reign of Terror.

Fearing that she might be abandoned, Josephine came up with a plan to give Napoleon Bonaparte a male heir by marrying her daughter, Hortense, to the emperor’s brother, Louis, the future King of Holland. The issue of that marriage would carry on the line of the Bonaparte dynasty. Napoleon, who adored his stepdaughter, approved, and the wedding took place. Although Hortense detested her husband, she bore him a son in 1804, Prince Louis Napoleon, the future Napoleon III. Many believed that Napoleon’s affection for his stepdaughter was not just paternal, and whispered that he himself was Prince Louis’s father. Josephine’s plan for a male heir through her daughter and Napoleon’s brother was frustrated when Napoleon divorced her and married Marie Louise, Archduchess of Austria. Their son, Francois Charles, was born in 1811. As the natural son of the emperor, Francois Charles (Napoleon II) would have been next in line as Emperor of France, if the empire were ever restored after Napoleon’s death. However, when Francois Charles died in 1832, Louis Napoleon became the next in line, the Pretender to the Throne, Napoleon III.

Exiled from France in 1816 by the restored Bourbon dynasty, and dreaming of bringing the name of Napoleon back to power, Napoleon III attempted to reestablish the empire by enlisting the army in a coup in 1836. In a farce worthy of an Offenbach operetta, Napoleon III failed to inspire a rebellion at a small garrison and was arrested. This misadventure resulted in deportation to the United States. Later offered asylum in Great Britain, Napoleon sailed for London from New York in 1838, and conspiracies against the Bourbons and the government of France began anew. In 1840, after another failed attempt to resurrect the national glory of the Bonapartes, he was sentenced to perpetual imprisonment at the Chateau de Ham, a 500-year-old prison at Saint Quentin. Ironically, shortly after Napoleon III was imprisoned, his uncle’s remains were returned to France with much pomp and glory, and interred at Les Invalides.

Napoleon III escaped from Ham disguised as a workman and fled to London in 1846. Having been either banished from France or imprisoned for thirty-three years of his

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