AS I ENTERED THE STUDY, the Grand Duke Dmitri Pavlovich, Purishkevich, and Sukhotin rushed towards me with revolvers in their hands.
Questions showered on me.
"Well? It is done? It is all over?"
"The poison has had no effect," I said.
They gazed at me in mute astonishment.
"Impossible," exclaimed the Grand Duke. "The dose was amply sufficient."
"Did he take it all?" asked the others.
|The man had swallowed an enormous dose of the most deadly poison, and now he was suggesting that we should go see the gypsies!||"Every bit of it," I answered. We began to discuss what to do next, and decided that we would go downstairs together, throw ourselves on Rasputin, and strangle him. We were already carefully making our way down the staircase, when I suddenly realised that by doing this we should ruin everything.
The unexpected appearance of strangers would at once warn Rasputin of our intentions, and there was no telling how matters would end. It had to be remembered that we were not dealing with an ordinary type of man.
But finally I took the Grand Duke's revolver and went down to the dining room.
Rasputin was sitting at the table, just as I had left him. His head was sunken and he was breathing heavily.
... "Are you feeling unwell?" I asked.
"Yes, my head is heavy, and my stomach is burning. Give me another glass that will ease me."
I poured him out some Madeira; he drank it at a gulp, and at once revived and regained his good spirits.
I exchanged a few sentences with him and saw that he was perfectly conscious, and that his mind was working normally. All of a sudden he suggested that we should go to the gypsies. I refused, on the ground that it was too late.
|... Here I had been sitting all that time with a man who had swallowed an enormous dose of the most deadly poison; I had been watching every one of his movements in the expectation of a fatal issue; and now he was suggesting that we should go to the gypsies! But what amazed me most was that in spite of his instinctive knowledge and insight, he should now be so utterly unconscious of his approaching end.||"Where shall
"Through the temple or through the heart?"
As this thought flashed through my mind, I looked round for some reason or other, and my glance fell on the crystal crucifix. I rose and went up to it.
"What are you doing over there so long?" asked Rasputin.
"I love this cross; it's a very beautiful thing," I answered.
"Yes, it's a nice thing. Cost a lot of money, I'm sure ... How much did you pay for it?"
He came towards me, and without waiting for an answer, he continued:
"But this is what takes my fancy most." And again he opened the labyrinth cupboard and began to examine it.
"Grigori Efimovich, you had better look at the crucifix, and say a prayer before it."
Rasputin looked at me in amazement, and with a trace of fear.
|The bullet had passed through the region of the heart. There could be no doubt about it; he was dead.||..."God give me strength to end it all," I thought, and I slowly brought the revolver from behind my back. Rasputin was still standing motionless before me, his head turned to the right, and his eyes on the crucifix.
"Where shall I shoot?" I thought. "Through the temple or through the heart?"
There was a roar, as from a wild beast, and Rasputin fell heavily backwards on the bear-skin rug.
I heard a noise on the staircase; my friends were hurrying to my aid. In their haste they caught against the main switch just outside the room, and I suddenly found myself in darkness.
Someone stumbled against me and called out in fright.
I did not move; I was afraid of stepping onto the body in the dark.
The light was switched on at last.
They all rushed towards Rasputin ...
He was lying on his back. His face twitched now and then; his hands were convulsively clenched; his eyes were closed.
There was a small red spot on his light silk blouse.
... In a few minutes Rasputin became quite still.
We examined the wound. The bullet had passed through the region of the heart. There could be no doubt about it; he was dead.
... We all felt elated, so convinced were we that the events of that night would deliver Russia from ruin and dishonor.
|Their exasperating task apparently accomplished, the conspirators planned then to return 'Rasputin' to his home, in order to throw off the secret police, who might have followed the monk to Youssoupoff's house. So Sukhotin dons Rasputin's fur coat and cap, and drives off in Purishkevich's car with the Grand Duke and Dr. Lazovert, leaving the Prince and Purishkevich to talk excitedly of "the future of our country, now forever delivered from her evil genius."||Rasputin jumped to his feet. His fingers, convulsively knotted, flashed through the air ... Like red-hot iron they grasped my shoulder and tried to grip me by the throat.|
Rasputin lay motionless, but on touching him I discovered that he was still warm.
I felt his pulse. There was no beat.
... I cannot explain why, but I suddenly seized him by both arms, and violently shook him ...
... I ... was on the point of going away when my attention was arrested by a slight trembling of his left eyelid ... I bent down over him, and attentively examined his face ... It began to twitch convulsively. The movements became more and more pronounced. Suddenly the left eye half-opened ... An instant later the right lid trembled and lifted ... And both eyes ... the eyes of Rasputin, greenish and snake-like fixed themselves upon me with an expression of devilish hatred.
... Then the incredible happened ... With a violent movement Rasputin jumped to his feet. I was horror-stricken. The room resounded with a wild roar. His fingers, convulsively knotted, flashed through the air ... Like red-hot iron they grasped my shoulder and tried to grip me by the throat. His eyes were crossed, and obtruded terribly, he was foaming at the mouth.
And in a hoarse whisper he constantly repeated my name.
I cannot convey in words the fear which possessed me.
|Rasputin, on all-fours, was rapidly making his way up the staircase, bellowing and snorting like a wounded animal.|| ... This dying, poisoned, and shot-ridden creature, raised by the powers of darkness to avenge his destruction, inspired me with a feeling so terrifying, so ghastly, that the memory of it haunts me to this day.
At that moment I understood and felt in the fullest degree the real power of Rasputin. It seemed that the devil himself, incarnate in this muzhik [monk], was holding me in vice-like fingers, never to let me go.
... I rushed upstairs, calling on Purishkevich, who was in my study, to come to my aid.
... He was amazed to learn that Rasputin was still alive, and hurriedly took out his revolver from its holster ... I found myself in my study. Here on the writing-table, I had left the loaded stick [two-pound rubber fist-knuckles, like oversized brass knuckles]... I seized it, and rushed out.
Rasputin, on all-fours, was rapidly making his way up the staircase, bellowing and snorting like a wounded animal.
Suddenly, he gathered himself up and made a final leap towards the wicket-door leading to the courtyard.
In the full certainty that the door was locked ... I stood on the staircase landing, firmly grasping the loaded stick.
But to my horror and surprise, the wicket-door opened, and Rasputin vanished through it into the darkness.
Purishkevich immediately rushed after him. Two shots rang out, resounding all over the yard.
I was beside myself with the idea that he might escape us. I rushed to the main entrance ... towards the courtyard, hoping, in case Purishkevich had missed him, to stop Rasputin at the gates.
There were three entrances to the courtyard, and only the centre gates were unlocked. Through the railing I saw that it was just to those gates that Rasputin, led by instinct was heading.
|A third shot rang out, and a fourth ...
Rasputin stumbled and fell near a snow heap. Purishkevich ran up to him, stood still for a few seconds, and evidently having decided that everything was now over ... with rapid steps turned back to the house. I called out to him, but he did not hear me.
|Some sort of paroxysm seized me. I began battering the body ... In my frenzy I hit anywhere. All laws of God and man were set at naught.|
He showed no signs of life. On his left temple gaped a large wound, which, as I afterwards learned, was caused by Purishkevich's heel.
The Prince is approached by two of his servants, who come from the house, and a policeman, who comes through the main gates. He manages to convince the policeman, while leading him back out the gates, that the noise had been only drunken revelry. Returning to Rasputin's body, Youssoupoff notices that it has since moved, and, terrified that the zombie monk might yet rise again, he hurries inside.
Inside, Youssoupoff is informed by a servant that the policeman has returned. The officer's superiors, dissatisfied with the original story, insist on being given all the details. At this point, Purishkevich, seeming not in full control of himself, tells the policeman of Rasputin's murder, and extracts a promise from him not to tell anyone what he now knows.
The policeman leaves. By this time the servants have carried Rasputin's body inside from the courtyard to the bottom of the spiral staircase. The Prince, ill and numb, with brass-knuckles in hand, goes downstairs to view the body.
... Blood was flowing freely from his many wounds. The chandelier at the top of the staircase lit up his head, and threw into full relief his mutilated and blood-spattered face.
I wanted to close my eyes, I wanted to get away as far as possible from this revolting scene. And yet I felt irresistibly drawn towards it. The impulse was so strong that I could not struggle against it.
My head was bursting asunder. My thoughts were confused. I was beside myself with rage and spite.
Some sort of paroxysm seized me.
I rushed at the body and began battering it with the loaded stick ... In my frenzy I hit anywhere.
At that moment all laws of God and man were set at naught.
Purishkevich subsequently told me that it was such a harrowing sight that he would never be able to forget it.
I lost consciousness.
In the meantime the Grand Duke ... Sukhotin and Dr. Lazovert returned in the closed car.
On hearing from Purishkevich all that had happened, they decided not to disturb me.
They wrapped the body in a cloth, placed it in the car, and drove off to Petrovski Island.
From a bridge there, the remains of Rasputin were thrown into the water.
Three days later, led by a single boot that failed to fall through the hole in the ice into which Rasputin's body was tossed, police divers discovered the frozen corpse. It was floating near the surface because Purishkevich et. al., including a second officer that he had taken into their confidence, had in haste forgotten to bind the body with the chains and weights that they had brought with them, which should have carried the body to the bottom of the Neva River and presumably out to sea.
Rasputin's face was an unrecognizable mess, due mainly to the grappling hooks used to draw his body from the water, but the deep marks on his wrists and his one free arm suggested that he was yet still alive and struggling when he entered the water. An autopsy later confirmed this suggestion; his lungs were full of water.
Semiliterate Siberian soothsayer, faith healer, and to some, "holy devil," Rasputin was probably the unlikeliest man in history to have apparently become the most powerful figure in the largest empire of the modern world.
|The amount of poison used was enormous; the doctor assured the others that Rasputin would die immediately, and many times over.||The control this wild-eyed, wild-bearded, wandering monk exerted over Tsarina Alexandra ("the German hussy," as many of her detractors liked to remind people during World War I) and through her over Tsar Nicholas II, the last of the Tsars, inspired both anger and jealousy among the palace circle.|
In the basement the conspirators laced cake and bottles of wine with potassium cyanide, and coated the inside of the wineglasses with the poison. The amount of poison used was enormous; the doctor assured the others that Rasputin would not only die immediately, but many times over.
It was therefore understandable that, after first waiting a half-hour for the monk to eat or drink, and then another hour-and-a-half for him to drop dead, the would-be assassins were nearly beside themselves with panic. It is undoubtedly one of the most bizarre assassinations ever told, and despite its mixed elements of Gothic horror and operatic black comedy, Youssoupoff's story is no fiction, but indeed much stranger. George Romero, eat your heart out.