Late that afternoon, a police inspector called at our flat, accompanied by Episkop Isidor, who had been a friend of Papa’s. The inspector showed us a bloodstained overshoe which we immediately recognized as our father’s. He told us that it had been found on the ice near the Petrovski Bridge. He also told us that divers had been lowered through the ice, but that no trace of the body had been found.
Varya and I were already convinced that our father was dead, but now that we had seen the overshoe, we were certain that he had been murdered; no other explanation seemed possible. We sent a wire to Mama, saying only that Papa was ill, and that we thought she should come to Petrograd.
And then recalling the letter that he had shown me on the previous evening, I took it out of the drawer in which he had placed it, and sat down to read it aloud to Varya and Katya.
A disaster threatens us. Great misfortune is approaching. The face of Our Lady has become dark and the spirit is troubled in the calm of the night. This calm will not last. Terrible will be the anger. And where shall we flee?
It is written: Beware as you know neither the day nor the hour. The day has come for our country. There will be tears and blood. In the shadows of the suffering I can distinguish nothing. My hour will toll soon. I am not afraid but I know the break will be bitter. God knows the path your suffering will take. Innumerable men will perish. Numerous will be the martyrs. The earth will tremble. Famine and disease will strike men down. Some signs will appear to them. Pray for your salvation. By the grace of Our Lord and the grace of those who intercede for us, you will be consoled.
As I finished reading the prophetic letter, so correct in its prediction of the cataclysm that was about to befall our native land, I found it impossible to believe that he would not soon come walking into the room and bend over to kiss me.