(excerpt from ...)|
WINDS OVER MANCHURIA (Chapter 1)
On the cold Sunday of January 9, 1905, the pallid sun hung over the rooftops of
St. Petersburg trying to burn its way through a thin layer of clouds.
By two o'clock in the afternoon the dull light had done little to warm the
thousands of people milling in the streets.
The gray snow that covered the ground muffled the noise,
rendering a deceptive serenity to the city.|
Out of the deep courtyards, across the canal bridges and through connecting streets, throngs of pedestrians were pouring into the broad Nevsky Prospekt and moving toward the Winter Palace. Rumors that a carnage had taken place earlier in the day on the other side of the Neva River circulated among the crowds, but no one took them seriously.
At the lower end of the boulevard, near the Admiralty Building by the Neva River, detachments of mounted Cossacks and Preobrazhensky Guards blocked the street, separating the crowd from the strollers in the Alexander Garden. The Cossacks, dressed in the dark blue trousers with red side stripes, wide capes, and sheepskin hats decorated with tassels, held their restless horses in check and watched the crowds below them with guarded equanimity. Only the long leather whips each of them held indicated that something extraordinary was taking place.
A few blocks away, on a quiet, empty street, a tall, thin woman was running toward the Nevsky Prospekt. Although her skin was smooth, the firm line of her set mouth and a look of anxiety made Anna Efimova look older than her forty-two years. Anna was cold. She had not taken time to dress properly before she dashed out of the house to search for her daughter, and now the fluffy angora shawl wrapped around her head did not keep the icy wind from chilling her. Anna counted the blocks: She was already on Morskaya Street and nearing Gorokhovaya. She would soon pass Kirpichny Pereulok, and from there it was only a short block to the Nevsky Prospekt.
Where could Nadya be?