WIPpet Wednesday—Hopeless situation

Here are some of my recent pictures from around the pond:






WIPpet Wednesday is a weekly bloghop hosted by K.L. Schwengel. The caveat is that excerpts must be related to the date in some way. I’m sharing 23 lines, for 5 x (201)5=25, minus 2015.

The palace pediatrician has used the deathbed of 35-month-old Prince Savva to start voicing some legitimate but ill-timed concerns, followed by outright disrespect and insinuations that Grand Duke Mikhail intends to steal his nephew’s birthright, make his commoner wife Empress, and install his morganatic son as the heir. Mikhail reacts with outrage, but is a lot less harsh than he should’ve been. He soon grows to regret this, as he suspects this doctor may be in cahoots with the hated Vladimirovichi. They’re the ones who really have their eyes on the throne, and don’t even attempt to disguise their ambitions.


Mikhail stormed towards the doctor and pointed to the door. “You’re going back to your quarters right now, and will vacate my home as soon as you’ve collected all your belongings.  You’re damned lucky I’m not ordering you to vacate under armed guard and that I won’t be subjecting you to an interrogation, since you’ve been very loyal and conscientious until this outrageous behavior just now.  I’ll get one of the other doctors to come here in your stead, and when it’s payday, you’ll receive your final salary congruent to the number of days you worked this month.  I can’t believe such impudence from a loyal servant, and at now of all times.”

The doctor put his instruments back into his black bag, stood up, and marched to the door in silence.  As soon as he was gone, Mikhail picked up the phone and asked to be connected to Dr. Merkulov.  He explained the situation, his voice running over with rage and his hands shaking, and promised to pay Dr. Merkulov extra for sitting with Savva in his final hours.  When the phonecall was over, Mikhail went into the hall to smoke a cigarette.

“I could about go for a cigarette myself now,” Konstantin said. “Nothing can take my mind off of this, but a cigarette would at least make me feel better superficially.”

“Go ahead,” Mikhail called. “You all deserve it.”

Copyright Gentil Hibou

Konstantin smoothed Savva’s hair before taking the unresponsive child off his lap so he could get a package of Gauloises and matches from a drawer in the nightstand.  After he’d distributed cigarettes and lit them for everyone, he went back to sitting on the bed with Savva on his lap.  Aleksey could only inhale the smoke and wish he were allowed to smoke.  Just about everyone in his extended family, both men and women, smoked, even people who weren’t yet adults.  No one in his immediate family ever offered him a cigarette, even a few puffs on theirs, and he didn’t want to find out what might happen if he smoked in secret and word got back to his uncle, sisters, or brothers-in-law.


General consensus is that he’s only pretending to smoke in this photo, for reasons including the uncharacteristically pushed-back cap

Dr. Merkulov arrived ten minutes later, and found the same lack of vital signs as the palace pediatrician had.  The only signs of life were a weak pulse and shallow, involuntary breathing, both of which would slowly shut down as the cerebral hemorrhage increased and put more strain on the small, fragile little body.  Dr. Merkulov made the sign of the cross over Savva, then crossed himself.  This was just what had killed Aleksey’s cousin Heinrich and uncle Frittie, now visited upon a fourth generation.  Now more than ever, he was determined to avoid marriage and potentially creating yet another sick child.


By 1922, people obviously knew enough to know hemophilia is passed along by women, but since not enough men had survived long enough to father children, it wasn’t entirely understood if men could pass it on as well. Today, we know a hemophiliac can’t have sick sons himself, unless his partner is either a carrier or rare female hemophiliac. All their daughters, however, will be automatic carriers, and thus it’s the maternal-line grandsons at risk.


6 thoughts on “WIPpet Wednesday—Hopeless situation

  1. Your excerpts hit a new chord with me because I recently found out my niece’s one year old son has been diagnosed with hemophilia. It’s a disease I really knew nothing about.

    Wonderful piece as always. Love the pic of Aleksey with his hat back! He looks like a normal little boy. You’re right, I don’t think Mikhail treats the doctor nearly as harshly as he deserves. Though that doesn’t seem out of place in the current situation.


  2. I think Mikhail was very restrained, all things considered! The doctor should be feeling lucky tonight! It must have been awful having awful having a disease like that rife amongst such a family.


  3. This is a super hard excerpt for me to read. My husband’s brother also died of a cerebral hemorrhage. It’s rare nowadays because the treatment is really good, but he had comorbid conditions. The meds he had to take put him at risk for hemorrhagic stroke, but not taking the meds was basically a death sentence in itself. Anyway, I very much feel for the family here. For us, it’s been nearly 8 years, but sometimes it doesn’t feel like it’s any easier.

    Lovely pictures of the pond, and adorable bunny!


  4. I actually has a First Aid professor (college course, not the typical crash course most people get) whose mother was a hemophiliac. She’d get a tiny cut and have to go to the emergency room for it.

    Lovely pictures. 🙂


  5. Gorgeous pictures as ever! It’s so beautiful around that pond. 🙂

    I’m another one that thinks the doctor escaped very lightly! I wouldn’t have blamed Mikhail for taking it further.


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