Cecilia Bobrovskaya
Twenty Years in Underground Russia: Memoirs of a Rank-and-File Bolshevik

IX. My Unsuccessful Rest

IN the early days of April, I decided to stop work for a while and take a rest at my mother's home (my father had died) where I hoped to become legalized. After the October amnesty which pardoned all my former sins I had not had time to go through all the formalities and re-establish my rights.

At home I expected to obtain a passport in my own name, but nothing came of it.

By the spring of 1906 our provincial authorities had forgotten the tsarist manifesto issued on October 17, 1905. I spent the first two days after my arrival in perfect safety. But on the third day when I had just registered at the house, a squad of policemen led by one called Sider came to my home. I knew Sidor from early childhood--mothers used to frighten naughty children with his name. At the head of the police squad was a bewhiskered, dandified and extremely gallant police officer. They came for me at eleven o'clock. Making no search, they politely invited me to "please" go with them to the police headquarters which were situated, as one could expect, in the market-place.

My poor mother in despair, cried out that I had brought disgrace upon her, that everyone would point at her as the mother of a convict, etc. But this did not prevent her from running to the market to buy a chicken which she especially prepared for me, evidently assuming that I was so shaken by my arrest that I needed immediate nourishment.

At any rate, about two hours after my arrest, while pacing the locked room in the police headquarters and awaiting the police officer who was to explain to me what it was all about, I heard some heated words behind the door between the bewhiskered officer, who had just recently been so gallant to me, and a woman's voice which, to my horror, I recognized as my mother's. They were shouting at her and pushing her away. I began to beat my fists upon the door, and when it was finally opened, I saw my tear-stained mother holding a pot with the precious chicken, and the infuriated face of the policeman, who pleasantly smirking at my appearance, muttered, "Oh, excuse me, so this woman came to see you! I would never have believed that such a young lady could have such a plaguing mother".

I answered that my mother was just wonderful, that before they had time to lock me up properly she was already on the spot with a cooked dinner. Seeing that I was perfectly well, my mother calmed down, particularly after I ate and praised the chicken she had prepared and assured her that nothing serious threatened me.

An hour later the police official came and he quietly explained to me that my arrest was simply a misunderstanding, that he had "forgotten" about the amnesty, that the instructions to detain me if I returned to my native town related to bygone days. These instructions were completely annulled by the amnesty of 1905 and I was free to return home.

After this incident I had reasons to fear that the provincial officer might suddenly not only forget the amnesty but recall something else, or get news from another city about my activities. I therefore decided to leave home, especially as my arrest had affected my mother so much that it was impossible to rest in the house; I also dropped all thought of becoming legalized, realizing that it would be most unsuitable for me to continue work under my real name which had been so compromised by past arrests. I decided to live and work once more on a borrowed passport and not to creep out of my habitual illegal skin.

I stayed with my mother a few days, long enough to prepare her for the news of my departure, and then set out for the Kostroma province to my old acquaintance, Elizaveta Kolodeznikova, to my "estate," as all of us who ever had to hide at the Kolodeznikovs called the estate in Zhiroslavka. This estate for a number of years served as a sanatorium for underground Party workers. I do not believe a more hospitable corner in the world has ever existed than the one that was always ready for us in Zhiroslavka. Nevertheless I did not stay there long. The Kostroma comrades were in very great need of workers and, learning that I was nearby, they demanded that I come immediately to work in Kostroma.