The Red Tulips of October

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Non-Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic

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Submitted: May 20, 2018

The Overture       History does nothing, it ‘possesses no immense wealth’, it ‘wages no battles’. ... Read Chapter


Submitted: May 20, 2018

The Red Tulips of October   Out of order cometh chaos, out of light cometh darkness, and out of love cometh&nbs... Read Chapter

Wailers of the White Nights

Submitted: May 22, 2018

Wailers of the White Nights Many best moons had gone by, and so had many worst moons, and yet the age of wisdom had dawned, and so ha... Read Chapter

Marching Men of the Damned

Submitted: June 12, 2018

It was the soundless street of Nevsky Prospekt that lay, on a Sunday night early in January, before the first of the souls with whom this... Read Chapter

Romance under the Rainbow

Submitted: June 30, 2018

The quiet lodgings of Doctor Obnissky were in a quiet street-corner not far from where he had laboriously carried his young patient along... Read Chapter

Duma’s Day of Reckoning

Submitted: July 10, 2018

It was February 29, the year one thousand and nine hundred and sixteen, when the Dark Days of the Palace of the Prince of Taurida dawned with gradually filling with a hum of conversations, clamours
and whispers like the hum of bees swarming in springtime across the building, and so dawned the Dark Days of the Masters, the Noblemen, and the Charlatans. The highest Petersburg society was
assembled there: people of high ranks differing widely in age and character but alike in the social circle to which they belonged. This proud Palace with its large gardens that laid behind it,
placed at the heart of the city, a heart trembling with grave matters of the Land, and by the bend of the River that once beheld the Battle of the Neva over six hundred years before it and
embroiled in its bright yellow façade, green dome and portico afforded by white, Doric pillars, had now turned into the Battle of the Whistle-stoppers. From the outside laid the serenity and
beauty, and yet from the inside laid the insanity and beastly for the very much troubled opening session, so we were told, had greatly concerned many unfortunate Whistle-stoppers, even the Old
Imbecile himself, as a consequence of many consequences for which there stood atop his ‘scandalous’ choice of a man of his own kind and favourite as the Administrator under his governance, had made
these young and old Whistle-stoppers become increasingly agitated by the Masters of the Land, for the war and the Royal apathy had already bestowed upon the hunger-stricken public much hardship.
Indeed, all that they heard was the war and hunger, all that they conversed was the war and hunger, and all that they failed was the war and hunger; even those Whistle-stoppers of the Palace, who
had befriended the Royals and now become plotters very much like those of the Ides of March, reproached the Masters of the Land: some had cherished an end to tyranny, others had feared the Masters
might somehow trample upon this Palace and its rule if ever they resisted the Masters. Yet, since most of these brave and bold Whistle-stoppers had their fears that the Land might plunge into
violent revolution, they cried out for change in the governance. As a consequence, such a tumult had made the days of this splendor Palace a few handbreadths, and of these men a few handbreadths,
and now their rhetoric befell the Old Imbecile alone, ‘a man of both incompetence and unfortunate enough to have a German-sounding name’; and wild rumours that this Old Imbecile and some companions
of his in the Royal circle were guilty of treason had already spread for some time. But, the only comfort amidst all that antagonism and anger was, that all the company with the cloak-and-dagger
plots in the Palace were perfectly dressed. If the Day of Judgment had only been ascertained to be a dress day, everybody there would have been eternally correct. Such frizzling and powdering and
sticking up of hair, such delicate complexions artificially preserved and mended, such splendor outfits to look at, and such delicate honour to the sense of smell, would surely keep anything going,
forever and ever. The rather agitated, gloomy gentlemen of the finest and worst breeding wore little pendent trinkets that chinked as they languidly moved in their seats; these golden fetters rang
like precious little bells; and what with that ringing, and with the rustle of silk and brocade and fine linen, there was a flutter in the air that fanned the miserable common man and his devouring
hunger far away. As the morning declined into noon, angry and wild voices of men, young and old ? resounded in the Palace of the Doom while these wild clamourings lasted. There was much roughness,
much soberness, and much anxiousness. There was hardly a companionship in it, an observable inclination on the part of every one to join some other one, which led, especially among a few luckier or
lighter-hearted, to frolicsome shaking of hands and heads, a dozen together. One by one, Whistle-stoppers from the Kadets, Octoberists, Autocrats, Progressists, Leftists, Rightists, and
Nationalists, rose up in the Speaker’s Chair, as the larger-than-life portrait of the Emperor still hung over the Speaker’s rostrum, turn by turn, and, one by one, uttered their fiery words upon
that Old Imbecile who had become so unpopular, so repellent that even respectable elite men of his, ‘a desk-man, a theorist, devoid of any state or national sentiment whatsoever’, or so in the
words of the wealthy Landowner of the Dolgorukov family, as Pavel Nikolayevich Milyukov, the Founder of the Kadets, who rather resembled the figure of an Imperial General and displayed a fine long
bushy moustache that concealed his upper lip and a pair of wire-rimmed glasses that shone his fiery eyes, after listing the Masters’ failings, now posed the same question after each failing with
the final words of his long speech to his agitated friends and fellows: ‘Is this folly or treason?’ … He then continued, in a voice of dire exasperation, and with his finger pointed at the
audience: ‘We will fight you ... by all legal means, until you leave.’ This was the very gentleman, who had been a respectable representative since the year one thousand nine hundred and twelve,
whose words served further to elevate the agitation already spreading like Plague so wildly throughout the impoverished Land; yet being a glib man, and an unscrupulous, and a ready, and a bold, he
had not that faculty of extracting the essence from a heap of statements, which is among the most striking and necessary of the statesmanship’s accomplishments. And he cast his fiery eyes over the
submissive faces that drooped before him, as the like of himself had drooped before the Masters of the Court ? only the difference was, that these faces drooped merely to suffer and not to
propitiate ? when a short silence ruled the Palace after speech by speech. The picture produced an immense sensation in the confused crowd; but all young and ageing eyes, without comparing notes
with other young and ageing eyes, looked at Monsieur Milyukov, perhaps, to observe whether he had any spectre on his conscience. And to this distressful emblem of a great distress that had long
been growing worse, and was at its worst, next came another man of Orators, much less fiery than his predecessor, yet much dishonourable of all, one of the Founders of the Black Hundreds, who stood
steadfast true to the Masters’ Court (these Black Hundreds hailed from every nook and corner and craft: some were landowners, some were clergymen, some were the high and petty bourgeoisie, some
were merchants, some were artisans, and some were workers, and these devoted men and women had been under the Royal wing for umpteen years). Despite his longstanding belief in the Maters, the
Imposter himself had somehow prophesied that the autocracy would certainly be doomed if nothing were done to salvage it from the scoundrels and schemers of the Palace ? so it was said. This
Imposter, in its truest sense, known to his companions as the ‘Loose Cannon’ for his restless mannerism as he had and known by the folksy common title of ‘Boris’, was as a matter of fact a mere
bald, portly man: no other than the thin, waif-like Vladimir Mitrofanovich Purishkevich, the most outspoken of all, and with demonic eyes that hid behind those wired-rim glasses. At first glance,
this imposter’s bald head would have been described as his most noteworthy feature. And those who looked beyond this imposter’s lack of hair upon his scalp would have prompted his thorough nature
even if had he been unconscious of his character, and the fact that the bald man was clad as he was ? in an evening suit even though working hours had long since passed ? made a direct impression
upon anyone present in the Palace. Even rumours had it that this Imposter’s wardrobe served only to make believe anyone that this bald Imposter was a man, who like the Whistle-stopper he was,
valued an impeccable appearance in public, and the fact that this Imposter used a full black beard to purposefully conceal the acne scars that were the origin of his youth strengthened that
prejudiced stock. Despite all that repugnant rumours and remarks, it was even said the man had gone to considerable lengths to ripen his image as a simple but spirited patriot. Exceedingly red-eyed
and grim, as if he had been up all night at a party which had taken anything but a convivial turn, all the human breath in the place, rolled at him, like a sea, or a wind, or a fire. Suspicious and
surly faces strained round every nook and corner, to get a sight of him; heads in back rows stood up, not to miss a hair of him, to see every inch of him. The Imposter now turned his head slowly as
his turn was called in, slowly rose up from his desk, among his like-minded compatriots, and presented himself at the Chair. ‘Gentlemen, my countrymen and colleagues?,’ the Imposter began slowly.
But before he could continue, a loud and clear voice across the space in the front row of desks interrupted him quizzically, as stoned eyes started to stare at the tall, broad-shouldered figure
sitting along with his compatriots behind his large desk. ‘Forgive my intrusion, Monsieur Purishkevich. We know who you are, but we don’t know who you’re representing here: the Monarchs or us?’
said the man, with abrupt gestures, and swift, resonant voice. The object of all this staring and blaring, was a young man of about thirty-five, well-grown and well-looking, with a sun-burnt cheek
and flashing eyes. His condition was that of a young gentleman. He was plainly dressed in his utterly plain brown uniform; more to be out of his way than for ornament. As an emotion of the mind
will express itself through any covering of the body, so the paleness which his situation engendered came through the brown upon his cheek, showing the soul to be stronger than the sun. He was
otherwise quite self-possessed, bowed his head to the Speaker, and stood quiet. An outright Socialist Orator and a rabble-rouser as he had been, Alexander Fyodorovich Kerensky, with no beard and no
moustache, immaculately attired gentleman and well cared hair that cropped into a crew cut, the man, whom almost everyone had known as the Lawyer. Perhaps disliked by many, yet fear never ever
found its sojourn in him, albeit not for long, as he had always looked down upon these Whistle-stoppers as ‘hired assassins’ and ‘cowards’, and always claimed they were ‘guided by the contemptible’
Mad Monk. As Monsieur Kerensky sat down, the older Socialist, silently, nodded quietly his head in acknowledgement, of him with a sly smile, he found himself next to. After some delay and demur,
Monsieur Milyukov, who had always and strongly disapproved of the Lawyer, rose up from his seat (Monsieur Kerensky’s words had already attracted the notice of the former), with one hand in his long
waistcoat pocket, his face had become frozen, as it were, in a very curious look at the Lawyer: an intent look, deepening into a frown of dislike and distrust, not even unmixed with fear. With this
strange expression on him his thoughts had wandered away. ‘Objection ? it’s shameful to pose such a question from a gentleman of such a stature … Not here! cried the blatant Monsieur Milyukov,
contemptuously. ‘Monsieur Milyukov, we never inquired of your opinion on such a matter,’ Monsieur Kerensky answered, in a tone that went to every heart, ‘Perhaps you yourself ought to pose such a
question from a gentleman of such a stature, ought you not?’ As the Whistle-stoppers grew increasingly raucous, faint murmurs arose about the Chambers from the few Whistle-stoppers, whilst shaking
heads and hands, Monsieur Milyukov’s eyes seemed to get a little closer to Monsieur Kerensky’s, and to interchange the inquiry, ‘Monsieur Kerensky, you and your Socialist kinds, to my knowledge,
have never spoken the words of peace but war. Perhaps, we ought to ask of you such a question instead, ought we not?’ Monsieur Kerensky felt it hopeless to entreat him further, and his pride was
touched besides. The Speaker, whose eyes had gone in the general direction, recalled them, leaned back in his seat, and looked steadily at them whose words had added more fire to the furnace, and
as Monsieur Kerensky’s attention was here diverted to the his long-time rival, the Speaker said in a determined voice: ‘Gentlemen, please!’ At this, Monsieur Kerensky was not long in discovering
that it was worse than useless to pursue in speaking to him, since, on being pressed, he became obliged. He abandoned that attempt, and resolved merely to keep himself always before him, as a
silent protest against the delusion into which he had fallen, or was failing. And when the rival duo obeyed, in the old mechanically submissive manner, without pausing in their listening and
nothing would induce them to speak more, amidst the silence, the Speaker turned to Monsieur Purishkevich ad said to him: ‘Monsieur Purishkevich, fire away please.’ Monsieur Purishkevich bowed his
head to the Speaker in acknowledgement, looked down at the Whistle-stoppers on either side of him in the old manner, looked up in the old manner, and repeated in the old crafty voice: ‘I’m not
representing no one here or there; I’m representing myself alone. Does that answer your question, Monsieur Kerensky?’ ‘Certainly, it does,’ returned Monsieur Kerensky. The sagacity of the man of
law perceived an advantage here, and determined to hold it. After a short pause, he continued in a low voice that could be only heard by his compatriots sitting close to him: ‘For the time being.’
As the same older Socialist, silently, nodded again quietly his head in acknowledgement, of Monsieur Kerensky with a sly smile again, Monsieur Purishkevich finally resumed: ‘Gentlemen, my
countrymen and colleagues, I’m here to share my thoughts with you all … Evil comes from those Dark Forces and influences that have forced the accession to high posts of people incapable to occupy
them ... from the influences that are headed by this Mad Monk. I have not been able to sleep the last few nights, I give you my world. I have been lying with my eyes wide open imagining the series
of telegrams, notes, and reports that the illiterate peasant has written first to one minister and then to another ... Over the years of the war I have assumed that our domestic quarrels should be
forgotten. Now I have violated that prohibition in order to place at the feet of the throne the thoughts of the masses and the bitter taste of resentment from the war front that have been produced
by the Master's ministers who have been turned into marionettes, marionettes whose threads have been taken firmly in hand by this Mad Monk and the Empress ? the evil genius of this Land and the
Empress who has remained German on the throne and alien to the country and its people.’ And so, with a hope ever darkening, and with hearts always growing heavier and heavier, these
Whistle-stoppers passed through this anxious time. And so wicked do destruction and secrecy appear to honest and dishonest minds, that these Whistle-stoppers, while engaged in the commission of
their deed and in the removal of its traces, almost felt, and almost looked, like accomplices in a dark destiny that stood before them not so long. Peter’s City slept, the Whistle-stoppers slept:
even the Masters slept with his Empress, perhaps for the final moments of their lives, and the church bells were at rest. The bells were the only voice in the city that blood and hurry had not
changed. And so the speeches went on and on, and so the contentions went on and on and time went on and on, faster than the clouds of the air; and as long as a hart longs for flowing streams, so
longed the poor common man for the Day of Deliverance.
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