By Olga Alexandrovna
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I remember that we had a fencing instructor, who was so frightened of being up there in the dark corridors that he always waited down below until he was called for. It was evident that he did not believe that a skill in the use of arms was of any use against ghosts. Every late summer we would either go on a trip to the Crimea or Denmark, Mother’s homeland. The journey to Copenhagen was undertaken on the Imperial yacht. It was a beautiful old paddle steamer, which rolled terribly as soon as it was stormy weather – and it almost always was!
And I ran as fast as my legs could carry me away from all this horror. Soon after, when the noise had quietened down, I heard fast foot steps behind me and a voice calling. It was one of the servants who wanted to take me back. He caught me, but at the very moment he lifted me up I scratched him in the face with my small sharp nails so that blood started flowing. I thought that all my loved ones had been killed and didn’t want to go back to that terrible scene. It was a dreadful disaster. Thirty-six of the royal household staff had been killed and many seriously injured.
I remember that Misha and I were the last to catch the illness. We had been given permission to run around and visit the patients so that we ‘could quickly catch the illness ourselves’. I have the best and most amusing memories of measles. There is, however, one exception: poor Uncle Hans caught it too … and he became seriously ill! At his age it was no joke to catch measles for the first time. A family reunion in Fredensborg in 1903 presumably on the occasion of the 40th anniversary of Christian IX’s accession to the throne.
25 Chapters of My Life by Olga Alexandrovna