Along with a taste for the previous century’s fashions and a controlling interest in her late husband’s drapery concern, the widow Tsigal maintained an important collection of memories whose major highlights dated to the reign of Alexander II. Four prolonged sightings of the tragic Liberator and his Empress on holiday had stocked the widow’s shelves with anecdotes for life. Maria Alexandrovna she recalled as a great beauty:
“And around her a light, it shone, this I saw myself, a light not from nature. She was a saint.”
The widow bought many dresses, far more than she needed, really, more than an old woman could wear; Musya’s mother suspected her of running a re-sale line among her drapery customers and had tasked Musya with seeking signs or proof but Musya hadn’t found any. The widow Tsigal liked Musya and had given her some silk handkerchiefs and several boxes of imported chocolate as gifts. Milord, the Tsar’s setter, she’d seen too, for he and Alexander were never parted:
“The dog also was a saint,” the widow said.

Milord (c.1870) and Tsar Alexander II of Russia
Milord (c.1870) and Tsar Alexander II of Russia

I caught a spelling error in Milord’s name today–apologies are in order and a correction will be made in subsequent editions.