25 Chapters of My Life by Olga Alexandrovna

By Olga Alexandrovna

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They were clad in special, magnificent and colourful outfits with turbans and did service like footmen would do. Not much was asked of them, and they were not especially eager to do much, but they somehow acted as guides in the big palace, and they were especially excellent playmates for us children. Two of the Negroes, who served at Gatchina in my childhood, were ‘spoils of war’ from the Turkish War. One of them was a dear, old American Negro. The best of all my friends and playmates was, however, ‘Nana’, Mrs.

When spring was in the air he would see to it that we were given different tasks which would force us out into the fresh air. We cleared the snow away and collected firewood. Together with him we would then make a lovely little bonfire where we roasted an apple or two which we later shared between us. And then there were the walks through the grounds and the deer park. From time to time he would make us look for antlers. Then he would send us off in different directions so that we would get used to moving around on our own.

I never went to school, never sat for any sort of exam and never had any classmates because, from the very first day, I was instructed by a number of very clever and renowned professors from St. Petersburg. As we normally lived in Gatchina and lessons started at 8 o’clock, the honourable scholars would have to get up early and they were quite exhausted when they arrived. It couldn’t possibly have been all that amusing to travel about 100 km back and forth to teach a little girl of seven! It is with special pleasure that I remember a couple of my tutors.

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