WeWriWa—Different from the others

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Welcome back to Weekend Writing Warriors, a weekly Sunday hop where writers share 8–10 sentences from a book or WIP. This scene picks up right where we left off, as morganatic princess Arkadiya Gagarina has finally been prevailed upon to dine with Aleksey and his guests instead of going right back to her hotel. Her left-handedness doesn’t go unnoticed, and she explains that’s her natural inclination, not the result of an injury like her limp. She’s a little worried she might have offended His Majesty, given the societal attitudes towards left-handedness.

This has been slightly tweaked to fit into 10 lines.

hospital

With his mother and sisters during the Great War, demonstrating compassion for those who suffer, in one of their hospitals

“That’s certainly unusual, but I’m not offended, since my sister Maríya and my cousin Tíkhon paint and sketch with their left hands, and so did my Dyadya Mísha.  God makes everyone a little differently, even if we can’t always understand the reasons why.  It’s not always easy being different, but it helps to build compassion for others who are different or mistreated.  ‘To have compassion for those who suffer is a human quality which everyone should possess, especially those who have required comfort themselves in the past and have managed to find it in others,’ as Giovanni Boccaccio says in the opening of The Decameron.”

“You’re very literate and well-educated.  I’m so proud we have such a national asset on the throne.”

During dinner, Arkadiya mostly listened to Dr. Freud, the Emperor, and the four government leaders discussing both national politics and international events.  She also took great interest in Dr. Freud’s reports on the paranoid, delusional Dzhugashvili, whom she was very, very thankful was still in prison.  Perhaps even more excitingly, the servants took equal part in the conversation, instead of merely standing about serving people or fading into the woodwork.  Tsar Alekséy II was the people’s emperor of everyone’s dreams, like night and day compared to his father and grandfather.

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Dzhugashvili, for those who don’t know, is Stalin, who’s been judged far too dangerous and unstable to be let out of jail and rehabilitated like Zinovyev, Kamenev, and several other reformed Bolsheviks. Instead of handing him the death penalty Grand Duke Mikhail wanted, Aleksey wanted to try to cure his mind (from the safety of prison). Carl Jung is also counseling him, though he’s not at this dinner.

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17 thoughts on “WeWriWa—Different from the others

  1. That’s a far cry from the attitude of the servants in the earlier parts of the book–things have certainly changed for the better! 😀

    I’m glad Stalin won’t be a problem in this version of history. His form of insanity was insidious.

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    • One of the reasons no one wants to let him out of prison (beyond what he already did) is because he continued raising trouble in the early days behind bars. There are several newspaper articles detailing his violent, unruly behavior and attempts to kill Ulyanov (Lenin), along with the horrific discovery of a mass grave full of priests, both dead and alive, orchestrated on his orders. He has 20 years pasted onto his sentence each time a new crime is discovered or attempted.

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  2. If it were only true… the past about Stalin… heck the part about accepting the differences in others. Here’s a question though: do you think that Aleksey could (or even would) have pulled off these changes as easily as you write? I mean, it’s not as if his father and grandfather were completely immune to the needs of the people. I mean, they did move slower than they might have, but there is more to a monarchy than the crown.

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    • A number of contemporaries felt he would’ve been a better Tsar than his father, since he personally knew what suffering was like, was more intelligent, had gotten more appropriate experience from a young age (as compared to how his grandfather didn’t do much to prepare his father), and had a greater sense of compassion. A constitutional monarchy seems the only way the dynasty could’ve survived, even if those changes wouldn’t have pleased the by-the-rules members of the court and most of the Imperial Family. With Russia in particular, there needs to be the right combination of a strong arm and soft heart, neither U.S.-style democracy nor the style of autocracy used in past centuries.

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      • I do know what you are saying, Carrie-Anne. I also know that there was a revolution and a lot of family tragedy and suffering as well as health concerns that Aleksey needed to deal with. And nothing makes a ruler weak (or even seem weak) than having a long period of being unable to rule or having to rely on others to do his ruling for him… How much of his success can be attributed to himself or his uncle/regent?

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        • Mikhail definitely doesn’t want to send him to the throne unprepared, since no one wants to repeat the history of a young, unprepared ruler. Taking extra time also ensures his health is more stable and that he’s been weaned away from the active lifestyle which caused so many injuries. In addition to close mentoring and making sure he gets a university education and experiences life outside palace walls, Mikhail also amends the House Laws as they relate to underage rulers. Aleksey isn’t forced to take the throne as soon as he’s sixteen, and can either decide when he’s ready to take over or co-rule with his uncle. The will to live is very strong, and the attacks are fewer and further between, just as they became in real life.

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  3. More fascinating twists on real history – I love the way you’re moving the chess pieces around here, especially Stalin. As a left handed person, I salute your heroine! And I enjoy that Aleksey allows the servants to join in the conversation, very different indeed. Terrific excerpt!

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  4. I like to see how Aleksey is growing into a thoughtful and intelligent man. It’s nice to think his suffering would have inspired him to become more compassionate than his predecessors.

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  5. That would have been the most interesting dinner party to attend! And I’m glad to see the romance progressing well also. I like this version of Russian history so much better. 🙂

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  6. Wow, your snippet is wonderful–and the comments it has inspired are equally intriguing. I really like your version of history, Carrie-Anne. I keep finding myself sort of sad that this isn’t how it all happened. Good 8!

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  7. Intriguing dinner party. I’m enjoying the little twists of history. I’m left handed also–so I also love that he is not bothered by it. 🙂

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