Tea with Rasputin

RasputinIn 1924, the Russian writer Teffi recalled her meetings with Tsar Nicholas II’s faith healer Grigori Yefimovich “Rasputin” including the first time she saw him. It was a very Rasputiney glimpse. 

“I had glimpsed Rasputin once before. In a train. He must have been on his way east, to visit his home village in Siberia. He was in a first class compartment. With his entourage:  a little man who was something like a secretary to him, a woman of a certain age with her daughter, and Madame Vyrubova, a lady-in-waiting to the Tsarita.

It was very hot and the compartment doors were wide open. Rasputin was presiding over tea–with a tin teapot, dried bread rings, and lumps of sugar on the side. He was wearing a pink calico smock over his trousers, wiping his forehead and neck with an embroidered towel and talking rather peevishly, with a broad Siberian accent.

‘Dearie! Go and fetch us some more hot water! Hot water, I said, go and get us some. The tea’s right stewed but they didn’t even give us any hot water. And where is the strainer? Annushka, where’ve you gone and hidden the strainer? Annushka! The strainer– where is it? Oh, what a muddler you are!'”

Rasputin and Other Ironies, Teffi, translated by Anne  Marie Jackson, Pushkin Press, 2016.