By Johannes Adriaan Snyman
“Are you alright Sister?” Sister Elizabeth asked the young nun whom she pulled out of the water in total darkness.
“I’m alright, sister thank you,” Sister Varvara said gasping for air after having been thrown down the twenty-meter deep, abandoned mine-shaft. She looked up, but the dark of night revealed only the blackest of pits, filled with voices of hatred from above.
Elizabeth knew, the moment the Bolsheviks pushed her over the ledge on the summer’s night, their intention was murder.
“Be careful,” she said when she heard harsh voices and another person falling into the water. And another…and another. They were all men from the company of prisoners.
“Who are you?” one of the men asked.
“Sssh!” another male voice hushed him.
“I’m just curious,” he replied.
Elizabeth couldn’t see them but knew their echoing voices was not a good thing when she asked them very discreetly to be quiet. It did not have the desired effect as many other inquisitive voices rose in a soft hum. So much so, they did not even hear the small object drop into the water.
The blast of the grenade was enough to make everyone’s ears ring, and complete silence followed. After about two or three minutes, (or was it perhaps five?) some men asked if there were any hurt.
“Quiet please,” Elizabeth begged the men. “I don’t think they have gone yet…”
Just then, the second grenade fell in the midst of them, but one of the men hopped it into the water. Again, the ears rang high-pitched, but this time there was a sufficient light of flash, which lit up the shaft, in a quick sharp, bright light.
Growling sounded from close by and Elizabeth knew that at least one man was severely injured.
“God saved us this far,” she whispered softly into Sister Varvara’s ear while holding her hand. “But the painful noises from these men will surly encourage the soldiers in their deed.”
“What do you propose, Sister?” her companion asked.
“These soldiers can’t kill us directly, as they still have a conscience. So they do it in a cowardly manner,” Elizabeth continued. “We will use that, and make it more difficult for them.”
“But how?” the female voice sounded with fear.
Elizabeth’s unexpected singing sounded as delightful as a crisp, snow filled winter’s morning. As more and more voices joined in the singing of the Orthodox hymn, the fear and anxiety seemed to have vanished from every heart, being at peace with going to a Heavenly home.
The singing was with such intensity, that they failed to notice the large brushwood filling the entrance from the top. The soldiers set it alight, but the flames and smoke went up in the air, along with the fragrance of their pleasant song, not harming a single person trapped beneath.
The light of the flames was ample enough for one of the men to recognize the face of Elizabeth. He immediately knew her as the Grand Duchess Elizabeth Feodorovna Romanova.