Sasha – Summer Palace Excerpt

Putting their heads together, Mitia and William were able to locate Sasha per Katia’s request. Their knowledge of Real Estate, especially in the Foreign Quarter, enabled them to track the whereabouts of the former Summer Palace servant.

On the occasion of their next outing, Mitia was able to tell Katia of their discovery.

“How wonderful, Mitia, thank you. Any chance we could find her today?” she asked moving closer to him and gripping his arm.

She watched him carefully and when he was about to nod in the affirmative, she turned and waved at a figure standing in the entrance way of the Manor House.

“Sophia?” Mitia asked eyebrows raised.

“Oh, yes, Mitia, did I forget to mention? And is William available today?” she asked as she settled in making room for Sophia.

Mitia pulled out his pocket watch.

“Well, I suppose we can drive by the office to see,” Mitia said bemused.

Sophia climbed in and was wearing a peach-colored frock with white lace trim and a sepia brown cloak with rose trim. Her blonde hair contained underneath a bonnet of the same peach hue.

“Hello, Mitia, I’m sure you are surprised by my joining you this afternoon, but two children can wear on a mother’s nerves and Katia so kindly offered a venture to visit an old friend,” Sophia said resting a bundle on the carriage seat.

“So, what’s this about William?” he asked curiously.

“Katia, you didn’t involve Mitia’s colleague in this did you?”

“I’m just evening it up,” she said nudging Mitia.

“Mitia, please, there is no need…” Sophia said in protest but was interrupted.

“Nonsense,” Katia said. “If nothing else we’ll have a joyous day to compliment our mission of mercy.”

“To what do you refer?” Mitia asked. “And I’m not sure if William is capable of living up to your expectations.”

Katia frowned and said, “William exudes life, he bring life to our rather regretful visit.”

“Sophia, to what does she refer? I have not heard her mention Sasha–ever.”

“You wouldn’t have, Mitia, but I’m sorry to say Sasha’s sorrows are directly linked to both of us.”

“We’re on a fact finding mission. We need to know if Sasha did in fact have a child, and does he look like Sophia’s adulterating husband. And does she forgive me for the wrong I caused.” Katia said looking at her own nervous hands fingering a filigree satchel meant for Sasha.


Later, Mitia came out of the office at the end of the Main thoroughfare in Moscow’s business district. He was walking slowly with his head down when a bounding William Vanhandle clutched his shoulders and side by side matched his every step.

Sophia’s eyes grew wide and Katia watched her every expression.

“Well?” Katia asked.

“I like Mitia very much,”

Katia growled, “You know that is not what I meant,” she said.

In a moments time, William was seated next to Sophia and they were off to visit Sasha on South Street in Foreigner’s Town.

“It took some expertise in investigative matters, but that is what we are all about, correct Mitia?” William said flashing a brilliant smile. “Now who is this woman and what have you done to her?”

Mitia shook his head.

“William, you stepped in it again,” he said regretting the sorrowful expressions on the sisters.

William pulled out a flask from the vibrant surcoat with rather large pockets. He took a sip and offered it around. Sophia put up her hand and turned up her nose.

“You’re kind of cute when you do that,” William said. “Mitia won’t refuse.”

Katia looked out the window while the flask passed back and forth and the volume in the carriage went up.

“Now ladies, would you like to share your stories?” William asked turning to a flushed faced, Sophia.

“William, my husband got the girl with child, but I’m reserving absolute judgement until I see the child. However, I am fully prepared to accept the truth of it, for you see–Yuri is a rake.”

“As for me, William, and Mitia, I never told you about my shame, Sasha was doing her job and reported my absence from the terem,” she said planning on saying more but that bit seemed to suffice.

“And…?” Sophia said hand signaling her to continue.

“I sneaked back in and pretended I was there all along and Sasha took the brunt of father’s anger for causing a scene and worrying mother. Shortly thereafter, Yuri got hold of her, and I have no doubt it was him, and we’re about to find out the rest of the story,” she said giving a final nod at William.

“Great,” William exclaimed. “Now, we can sing.”

He started in a low baritone while looking directly into Sophia’s blue eyes. She realized exactly what Katia was talking about.

Katia coughed and asked for a swig of the flask when Sophia joined William in song, taking the higher octaves.

As she wiped her mouth and looked up at Sophia’s beautiful smile and peachy-ness she realized she hadn’t seen her truly smile like this in a long, long time.

“I knew William would brighten our day,” she blurted out.

The foursome waved to the Emerald Inn as they passed heading south.

“That was when you met Wiley.” Mitia said to Katia.

Unfocused, she was startled by the comment. She looked Mitia in the eyes and said. “Yes, Mitia, that was the first time I met him. I went out with one goal in mind. I had to ride a horse, for more than anything in life, or any previous experience that was what I wanted most,” she said quietly.

“Oh, but what about the boy?” William asked his attention focused on Katia and his hand on Sophia’s arm.

“Let’s see,” Katia said with a sideways glance. “If I took your dark hair and eyes, William, and your unabashed nature and mixed it with Mitia’s pureness and understanding, you’d have someone that resembles Wiley.”

William looked at her turned sideways to glance at Sophia and back to Mitia and laughed, a real laugh from deep within until tears formed it his eyes.

“William, it wasn’t that funny? Was it?” Mitia asked.

“No, it wasn’t funny it was clever and so thoughtful, and I hope to meet him someday,” William said swiping his eyes with a linen he also pulled out of his sage surcoat pocket.


The carriage finally stopped outside a pale house with a slanted porch and chickens running wild. An older woman sat in a wicker rocker smoking a pipe. Sasha appeared in the doorway with a small child.

“He’s too cute to be Yuri’s, Katia thought. Although he did do well for Sophia’s children.

Sasha’s eyes lit up and she stepped forward from the shadow of the doorway.

“What are you doing here, Katia, Sophia? How did you find me?” she asked.

“Meet the team of Vanhandle and Rostovich, at your service ma’am.” William said delivering a gracious bow.

“Truly, it’s Rostovich and Vanhandle,” Mitia said getting a reaction from William who was taken aback by Mitia’s stoic humor.

“Don’t mind them Sasha, they’re only along for the ride,” Sophia said. “Katia and I are here to see you and see if there is anything we can do to help you.”

“Lady Sophia, I am getting along, I work doing laundry and Mrs. Greenbaugh watches Yuri when I’m gone.”

I knew it, she even named him after the bastard, Katia thought.

Sophia took a moment to collect herself.

Katia chimed in and said, “Sasha, we both know I lied the day I went missing. However, you didn’t accuse me and I swore I would make it up to you.”

William and Mitia stood silently, for they were taking it all in.

“And me, Sasha,” Sophia said. ” I’m so sorry you lost your position, I have nothing to say. However, I have something for you and your babe. Please except this, it will help to support your child.”

Katia handed her the satchel.

“This is for clothes and…” Katia broke off her conversation looking around her realizing no amount of their charity will put her back to the status she was living before the Ulenka’s ruined her life.

Mitia stepped forward to comfort her.

William spoke, “Will you come to work for me?”

Katia whirled around and hugged him raining down on the padded shoulders of his surcoat.

Pushing Katia gently to the side so he could continue to speak he laid out the full plan for Sasha to start over.

“A place for you both to live, a nursemaid for your child, and a job earning a good wage–all under one roof,” he said.

Mitia nodded and took the child from her arms so Katia and Sophia could wrap their arms around their old friend.

“Yes,” Sasha said. “I will accept your offer. When do I start?”


Mitia had the driver bring the ladies home and the tears were only an expression of the gratitude they felt for the kind offer of rescue for the girl who had fallen onto bad times. They said their goodbyes. Katia lingered a little longer than usual.

Once inside the foyer Katia asked, “Well, Sophia, what did you think?”

“About William?” she asked

“Of course, tell me quick before someone realizes we are home.”

“He’s charming and I love his energy and his generosity. But, he is not for me I’m afraid,” she said taking the stairs.

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