I stood for a long time watching the young guard playing the balalaika. He didn't see me. I don't often have that opportunity for anyone outside my family, because wherever we go people are looking out for us, lining up to see us, or making sure we're all right and have everything we need. When we enter a room—even me—everyone looks up, stands, and curtsies or bows. It's a novel feeling to see someone else so close by and not have him turn all his attention to me.
I thought I might just steal away without letting him know I was there, but something about him made me want to get to know him. Why was he there? How did he dare enter the tsar's garden alone, and to play the balalaika at that! He was either very brave or very foolish. And his face—it is handsome, but young. On the edge of being a man, but there is sorrow in it too.