Monday, July 16, 2012

Excerpt from The Last Romanov

“Come here, darling. I’ll tell you something,” Aleksandra said as she beckoned the boy to come to her.

Aleksandra embraced the boy tightly and warmly, showing Alexei how much she loved him. Then, she told him to sit on her lap.

Olga left them. She went into her sister’s room.

Hugging the boy, she reminded him, “Darling, do you still remember what I told you before?”

Alexei was silent.

“Well, I told you to be careful of people. That doesn’t mean that you won’t talk to them, or be their friend. But you just have to be careful. Be careful on what you tell them about yourself, about the Tsar, about the family.”

Alexei remained quiet. He was just listening to his mother’s counsel.
“You see, darling… people want to know about us. Especially, the enemies of your father.”

“Father has enemies?” Alexei asked.

“Well, yes…” Aleksandra was cautious. “Everyone has enemies. People who are jealous of your father sow intrigues to harm him, to harm us,” Aleksandra said.

“Why do they do that?” the boy asked.

“Well, as I said, they are jealous of your father. Your father is a popular man. He is a peaceful man. So, some people, evil people, got jealous of him. They sow intrigues, lies! They want to destroy him. They gather the information about him, about us, and twist the information to make us appear bad. They wish to destroy us that way,” the Empress said.

“Why do they do that, mother? Why are they jealous?” the boy asked.

“They want power, Alexei,” the Empress ruefully replied.

The boy looked at his mother who was trying to control her tears.

“What is power, mother?” Alexei innocently asked.
The Empress looked at her son. She bit her lip. Then she replied, “Power is what you need to rule over men.”

To a lad, the expression was vague, at best, an abstraction. Alexei just looked at his mother’s eyes, now wet with tears.
“You’re still young. There are so many things that you cannot understand now. But someday… someday, you will,” the Empress stated.

“Mother, if I want to become like father someday, how do I get power?” Alexei asked.

The Empress grasped for an answer. It was a question totally unexpected, thrown to her by a lad, so innocent about the ways of men.

How could she tell this boy, her only son, that for someone to get power, he must have men, many men, millions of men armed to the teeth, ready to enforce authority at all costs, to kill and be killed in order to preserve legitimate government, whether an autocracy or a republic.

“You must have men, men who are loyal to you, men who will not abandon you in times of need, when darkness falls. And if someday, you will have power, you must distinguish well who your friends are, your real friends. That is very important,” the Empress said emphatically.

“Why, mother?” the boy unpretentiously asked.

“Because power is like sugar. It is sweet. And ants come to eat it, to take it away. And there are so many kinds of ants… black, red… And all of them want sugar,” the Empress allegorically explained.

The boy smiled. “If they all want sugar, why don’t we give it away? So they won’t be hungry,” he asked.

“It is nice to give bits to them, but not all of the sugar. If you give all the sugar you have to the ants, then you won’t have anything left for yourself. When you need it, you don’t have it. And many ants bite, especially the red ones, and their bite is painful,” the Empress said.

“Mother, why do people hate? Hatred is such an ugly word.”

“People hate because they are incapable of loving” the Empress replied.

“Why, don’t they want to love? Isn’t love good? Why don’t they want to be good?” Alexei barraged the Empress with questions.

“Because man is sinful, Alexei,” the Empress replied.

“All men mother?”

“Yes, Alexei, all men.”

The boy became sad. If all men were sinful, that included his father. He looked up to his father, and it saddened him to know that the person he looked up to, belonged to the race of sinful men.

“Are women sinful too?” he asked the Empress.

She smiled at her son as she nodded.

Alexei looked down with reproach, rueful that all humanity is sinful.

The Empress held his chin, slowly lifting his head, and looked at her son straight in the eyes.

Then, she said, “That’s why a baby was born in a manger, Alexei. That baby is Jesus. He came to be our guide in this dark, sinful world. He came to be our Light, so that we will not stumble in the darkness. And even if we do, and most often, we do stumble, the Light of the World shows us the way. Do you understand, my son?”

The boy nodded.

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