Mstislav Dobuzhinsky: October idyll, 1905


St Petersburg

There were several of us

"There were several of us, all officers of the Russian Army who had ended up by chance being stuck in London. One day we were sitting together in a cafe, and we somehow all at once and all together decided that there was nothing more for us to do here and we should leave. We started deciding where to go. Some of us were for going to Africa ‒ to shoot lions. Others were for continuing the war by joining a foreign army. "What about you, Gumilyev? Where will you go?" The poet replied, "I've fought enough, and I've been to Africa three times, but I've never set eyes on a Bolshevik. I'm off to Russia. I can't imagine it will be any more dangerous than hunting lions." Alas, it did indeed turn to be more dangerous!...

From: Georgy Ivanov, Chinese Shadows (1925-1930)
(Nikolay Gumilev tells how he returned to Russia in 1918)