A Scene from Nicholas Romanov
(The CHILDREN come screaming in, ALEXEI holding on to the coat)
The muffler, you dropped the muffler. Get it.
(ALEXEI dashes back off to get it)
(Enveloped by Children)
All right! All right! The last one to reach the kitchen garden will be attacked by the Tsar’s own squadron — and at this rate, it will probably be me —
(ALEXEI runs on with a long scarf, trips on it and falls into the back of the sofa)
(NICHOLAS and ALIX immediately run to the boy)
I’m all right, Mama. — I just hurt my leg —
Benckendorff! Olga — take the girls outside.
My darling, my darling.
(The GIRLS go off quickly. BENCKENDORFF enters)
Get Dr. Feodoroff, quickly.
(BENCKENDORFF goes off)
Are you all right Alexei?
I think so, Papa. It doesn’t really hurt. Can’t I go outside?
(Tries to get up)
No, don’t move! — My darling, let the doctor see you first.
But I’m fine, Mama —
(DR. FEODOROFF comes in, carrying his surgical bag)
He fell, Doctor. He tripped on his father’s muffler.
Let me examine him here.
Hurry, Doctor, hurry. He fell very heavily. Are you comfortable, my darling? Are you all right?
It’s beginning to ache, but just a little.
Where, Your Majesty?
The inside of my legs.
I’ll cut these cloths off.
(COURTIERS begin to arrive, as the news spreads in the Palace. BENCKENDORFF is among them)
I’m sorry, Papa.
Nonsense, Alexei. There’s nothing to be sorry about. — You’ll be fine in no time. We have that snow mountain to build together —
But it won’t be as bad this time.
We know that, my darling. You’ll be all right. — Won’t he, Doctor?
The bruises are quite large, Your Majesty. We can only wait to see. If they bleed internally —
Can we do nothing?
For the present, no.
Count Benckendorff, call Father Grigori. Ask him to come immediately. If you can’t reach him, send a messenger.
(BENCKENDORFF looks helplessly at NICHOLAS)
Your Majesty, I beg of you, leave this to medicine.
We have left it to medicine before, Doctor. Do what you will. But don’t stop me from asking God’s help. Count Benckendorff!
I would advise, Your Majesty, that we send for Dr. Fedochef and Dr. Botkin immediately.
Nicky, we must tell Grigori.
(Addressing the room)
This matter, as usual, must be kept from public view. No word of it shall leave the Palace. The Tsarevich’s condition appears not to be serious, therefore, we don’t feel it necessary to send for anyone. It would appear serious if a number of Imperial couriers were sent all over St. Petersburg. If his condition changes, then of course, we shall send for whoever is needed.
We had better take him to his room.
It would hurt to carry him up.
We’ll carry up the chaise, Your Majesty. He must be put to bed. — Help me, but carefully, slowly.
(The COURTIERS slowly pick up the chaise. As THEY move, ALEXEI winces)
Put him down!
It’s all right, Mama. I just felt it, that’s all.
Go on, take him.
(The chaise is picked up and carried off. EVERYONE follows. NICHOLAS restrains ALIX)
Alix, let the Doctor do his work.
He can do nothing. I know that. I’ve seen too many of my family die with doctors running about wringing their hands — my uncle, my nephews, my brother. Nicky, we must send for Grigori. All of us are helpless now. Alexei will die, I know it.
Alix. — He’s not going to die. He has a simple fall, —
Nicky, please, please send for Grigori. I must have him here! You needn’t tell Dr. Feodoroff. Grigori could just appear, as if he felt Alexei was sick.
We couldn’t do that.
Please, Nicky, for me, for my sake. —
I can’t, I gave my word.
What do you mean?
I gave my word that Father Grigori would not come to the Palace again.
Rodzianko? I knew it. I knew he was scheming at something when he came in. I felt it when you were alone with him. And he convinced you to betray your God. And for him, you’d crucify me and let your son die. You gave in to the hand, Grigori could stop Alexei’s pain. But you have given your word.
Alix, if Alexei becomes worse —
Do you think God will help us now after your sneaking treachery? Can God hear our cries, or Alexei’s screams? Will He be able to see the blue swelling or the death-white face? No! He is blind and deaf to us now because you have kicked our blessed friend away like an animal.
Listen to me, Alix.
Leave me alone. You’re keeping me from my son.
(She runs out.
NICHOLAS is left alone. HE comes down stage as the lights dim and the stage curtain closes. From out of his blouse HE pulls a cross and a small ikon which HE ears around his neck. HE kisses them both, crosses himself, and holds them before him)
Father, bless me. Father, help me. Father, relieve me of my curse. — “Let the day perish wherein I was born, let that day be darkness, let not God regard it from above —-” I cannot succeed in Your task without Your blessing. Dear son’s sickness shows me only my fear and doubt. What is Thy Divine Purpose in a little boy’s pain? — Where art thou, oh, Lord, where art Thou?
(The LIGHTS FADE TO BLACK on the last sentence)
The scream continues until the stage curtain opens, and the lights come up. The TSAREVICH is in bed, around which are DOCTORS, ALIX, NICHOLAS, and a NURSE. There are COURTIERS in the room, including a Russian Orthodox PRIEST. In the ante-room are OTHER COURTIERS.
Mama, Mama! Mama! I hurt so much, Mama. I hurt.
I know, I know.
Mama, it won’t stop, no matter what I do. I prayed — I asked God why I had to hurt so much. Oh, Mama, lift my legs up, please! Quickly! — Oh, no God, please stop it. Please let me die first. Please!
You won’t die, you won’t die.
I feel that if I just let go, all the pain would stop. But I don’t let go, I don’t know why — Mama, the pain’s coming back. Oh, Papa, could I die please! I don’t want to give up Russia, but I hurt so much. Could someone else be Tsarevich?
No, Alexei. You cannot die. You were born to be Tsarevich.
Then why do I have to hurt so much?
I don’t know.
(ALEXEI screams; then is unconscious)
He’s slipped back into the coma.
What can we do?
(Falls to the ground)
(NICHOLAS moves to help her up. VYROUBOVA runs in, escorted by the COURIER, sees the Tsarevich and falls to her knees)
Anna, where is he? Where is he?!
Is he still alive?
Yes! Where is Grigori
He’ll be here any moment.
What is he doing?
When I left, he was praying for Alexei.
Why doesn’t he come? Grigori! Oh Grigori, help us!
Would you all leave us, please?
No, Anna, stay with me.
Please call us if we are needed, Your Majesty. We will be just outside the door.
(THEY all go out, except VYROUBOVA)
Anna, I’m killing him. I’m killing him. Why did I have to bring this poor child into the world?
How did it happen?
He tripped on his father’s muffler.
(NICHOLAS moves to comfort his wife)
Just after Rodzianko left, and Nicky was taking them out —
Just after Rodzianko left.
(THEY both look at NICHOLAS. HE goes away from them and sits beside the bed)
I knew he was a boy, Anna, from the sound of his crying — clever, wasn’t I? It wasn’t a difficult birth — but I was tired because I was so thrilled, so happy — At last, after four mistakes, my God bless them, I’d given Nicky what he needed. I remember counting the guns from the Fortress of St. Peter and Paul, and I fell asleep at number 44 — well, at forty something. Isn’t it strange I remember that so well? — I dreamt about my son’s coronation. He had grown a little beard like his father’s, and he was dressed in a bright red uniform with funny looking purple stripes. He was riding along the Nevsky Prospekt, and the people were cheering him. They loved him so! At the Cathedral, all the family knelt down to him, and smiled as he went by them. I heard Dmitri say, “He will be a great Tsar.” — And then he came to me. I was wearing white for some reason. He kissed me and gave me his arm and we went out into the brightest day — I remember I couldn’t open my eyes. A week later, we all knew, remember? I can’t seem to recollect dreams since then.
Please, please, don’t say any more.
Oh, why is he taking so long?
So that we may see more clearly the reason why this —
(NICHOLAS stands and turns on VYROUBOVA)
Oh God forgive us. We see what we have done. We shall never part with him again. Anna, come and pray with me.
(THEY kneel at the altar, which is covered with ikons and candles)
Please, please, Holy Father, do not punish this little child for what was done to Grigori.
Here is Grigori’s ikon.
Grigori, Grigori, we love you.
(SHE takes the ikon, kisses it, and hold it to her. RASPUTIN is seen in the ante-chamber)
We adore you and will keep you close to us.
(SHE holds the ikon over the CHILD)
Your little child needs you, Blessed Grigori.
(RASPUTIN enters the room and stands facing NICHOLAS)
Ask God’s blessing for him. He will hear you. Show us your love, and we will show you ours.
(ANNA sees him first)
(ALIX tries to get up but SHE can’t. RASPUTIN goes to her. SHE cries. NICHOLAS backs away)
You shouldn’t let these doctors upset you. It’s not as bad as it seems.
(He puts ALIX aside. SHE and VYROUBOVA go and kneel on the opposite side of the room from NICHOLAS. RASPUTIN kneels above the CHILD’S bed)
I remember, Alexei, a horse I had once. He could fly. Oh, I know, horses can’t fly. But this one did. He didn’t have wings, but someone had told him in horse language the secret of how to run on the wind. In my home in Siberia, there is lots of wind — You can hear me, can’t you, Alexei? — When I was walking over the steppes toward my village one day, I was hot and thirsty. I could feel the sweat rolling down my back. My feet were bleeding and my legs ached because I had walked so far. I looked up, and cursed the sun for being so hot.
(HE puts his hand on the BOY’S head)
My eyes burned. My head was on fire. Then I saw a little black dot in the sky. It grew bigger and bigger, and blocked out the sun for a moment. I thought I was going blind. But then it galloped over me, and I saw it was a beautiful black stallion with red eyes and silver hoofs. I made my horse sound — you’ve heard me — and he sailed back toward me and came down in a field close by. I could run very fast then. I walked as close as I could get, talking to him, chk, chk, chk, chk, chk. But then the wind blew again, and he started after it. I began to run. He went faster and faster, but I could keep up with him. I got up beside him just as his feet left the ground. I gave a big jump —
(HE takes ALEXEI’s hand and puts it on his beard)
— and grabbed his mane and held on, held on — you can feel it, Alexei — hold on. Then I could feel the wind through my hair and down by back. He flew through a rain cloud and I felt cool water all over me. By now I was sitting on his back and we sailed all over Russia. I looked down and saw St. Petersburg, and your palace, and I could see Mama and Papa, and Olga, Tatiana, Maria, Anastasia — and you, there you are! Can you see me, Alexei? I’m waving to you. You can see the black stallion, and the silver hoofs. You can see me, Alexei. You can see me!
(ALEXEI opens his eyes, and smiles at RASPUTIN)
Come down and take me for a ride.
(ALIX runs to the bed and kneels. VYROUBOVA goes to the COURTIERS. NICHOLAS remains standing)
I will, Alexei, very soon.
He is healed! He is healed. Father Grigori has healed him.
(The COURTIERS come in, see the TSAREVICH is conscious and not in pain, and kneel in thanksgiving. ALIX kisses GRIGORI’s hands as HE rises. The PRIEST begins a Doxology. RASPUTIN backs away to the opposite side of the room from NICHOLAS. The curtain closes upstage of NICHOLAS and RASPUTIN. The lights on the sick BOY and COURTIERS begin to dim. NICHOLAS crosses to RASPUTIN. The Doxology continues)
Father Grigori, will you hear my confession?
I am not ordained by The Church.
Will you hear my confession?
(RASPUTIN turns to him)
Holy Father, I have sinned. My doubt has blackened my already dark world so that I could not see my God. He was absent from me, and I, Russia, stood alone. But now God is alive to me. You, a peasant, will lead the Tsar. I do not understand, but I will not doubt! Russia follows you wherever you lead us as long as God wills it.
I, by the power that is given me, forgive thee and loosen thee from all thy sins in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.