Silver in It Might Have Been Food
When I was a child, I spoke and thought as a child....
Once I practically lived in the company of the late Tsarevich, that sensitive, somewhat isolated young boy who just stood to inherit one sixth of the world as the Emperor of All the Russias. He was always my namesake and my model; I became his double and his confidant. We were dear friends. Within that charmed circle where titles were not necessary, I was just 'Lyolya' and he was 'Nikolay'ich'. But as the world knows, the Revolution of 1917 brought on the stifling and repression of all that was good for the sake of sudden, drastic change. Drastic it was: The Emperor and his august family were all murdered, and thousands that stood in the way of the new regime began to hide from the Bolsheviks or flee for their lives. Many - including my father, Colonel N. A. Balashenko - were unable to escape the wrath of the Red Army during those first years, or simply vanished without a trace as Mama and I supposed my brother Pavel had done.
It was horrible for Mama and I to lose my father, my brother, our home, and our country, and for me to lose my Prince. We clung to our faith in God, to the Church, and to each other. We fled Russia in 1919, unable to wait any longer for Pavel, on a steamer filled with terrified refugees, White Army wounded, Cossack widows and their children. We made it to the London slums a few months later. At the age of fifteen I found myself taking odd jobs to support my mother and myself. It was easier for me than for many of the young men, since I had in fact learned some English...
... When I became a man, I gave up childish ways....
I became a naturalised British citizen in 1925, having participated with my mother in the parish life of St. Philip's Church and developed my skills as a language tutor through the mediums of amateur music and drama. At St. Philip's I continued my friendship with Nicholas Smirnovsky, who would later become a priest. We all loved Fr. Adrian, of blessed memory, who helped and strengthened us in spirit, mind and heart. A tragic accident took Batiushka away from us much too soon. That void was filled at least partially by our new regent, Fr. Ambrose Vosnesensky. A humble man, a fine church musician, and a sympathetic friend, I have loved and looked up to him for many years.
... Love endures all things ...
For all the kindness and love Mama showed within our little community, she had never really had an easy time in England, and became ill early in the 1930's. I threw myself wholeheartedly into caring for her and insisted that she receive the best medical treatments possible... but in the end we submitted to the will of God, and I let Mama go in 1936, after having promised her that I would never forget what it means to be a Cossack. In a practical sense, that meant making sure our debts were paid, our adopted country was served in gratitude, and our love for God and others would be unselfish.
.... Love does not rejoice at wrong, but ... in the right ...
There came a thorny problem by the time I had paid 'the last farthing'... the Occupation of England by the Germans was nearly under way. The Russian emigr� community in London was affected as much as any other part of the city; a handful of short-sighted people rejoiced at the prospect of the Nazis fighting the Communists, but we particular Cossacks revered the memory of the Tsar, remembered the Kaiser, appraised Stalin too well, and felt that one dictator was as bad as another. Besides, why fight on the side that was bound to lose? As for me, I was bound to join the Resistance, using my skills as a translator. Having cheered on my elders with St. Tsarevich Alexei during the Great War, I still had fervour in me. I was a natural 'go-between', and circumstances led me to Paddington, and to the Three Crowns... where I met and joined forces with an English speaking cell, and, happily, the young lady with whom I fell (and will forever remain) deeply in love.
... Faith, hope and love remain... and the greatest of these is love. (1 Corinthians 13)
I have long been haunted by her glowing chestnut hair and her deep emerald eyes. The thought of Bella's sheer loveliness has always called to mind sunset and twilight in September. She has always been ptitchka moya - my little bird, with all the tenderness and innocence of a nestling robin, yet truly as clever as a popinjay.
And it has been the thought of my wife that has given me the will to survive. A few years after the Occupation, I needed to go back to Russia to help my relatives. I was arrested and put into a labor camp, yet my niece Elizaveta and I have managed to escape. We have made it to the north of England, and now I yearn to be home, home with Bella.
Right now, my niece and I MUST go see - perhaps to find - Sir Terrence, wherever he might be now.
May God bless! Yours ever - Alexei
And congratulations to Bella Donna - the History Genre's Featured Character for July 2008!
Thank you, Pan Historia, for making A Scent of Mystery the featured novel as well! A.N.
TRIPLES with EMMA
A Scent of Mystery
Pan Historia Junction
Zone : History
Zone : Contemporary
The Tenth Muse
Welcome to My Tea Table
Mikhail Alexandrovich Romanov
Tatiana D Ilyinskaya
Eithne ni Domhnaill
Alexei Nikolaevich Tsarevich
Grace Isobel Armstrong
Lord Robert Sinclair
All Tomorrow's Parties
So good to read your posts again *s*
Dec 16, 2020 01:44 pmSuch a good post deserves a Panda!
Apr 11, 2017 07:14 amA lovely post my dear friend
Oct 29, 2009 03:44 amBest Interview in Character
March 2008Best Plotter on the Planning Boards