A small tin box gilded inside and “under the whiteness” outside, with a brilliant golden letter G on the lid was presented by Father Vladimir Alekseevich with the words: “Take care of happiness” in 1878 after the latter returned from the Russian-Turkish war.
And V. A. Gilyarovsky shore, never parted with an expensive gift that became known to many famous people over time. L.N. Tolstoy, who did not smoke tobacco, occasionally sniffed it only from Gilyaevskaya snuffbox and believed that “if all smokers quit smoking and switched to sniffing, we had half the number of fires and twice as many healthy people”. Mortally ill A. P. Chekhov, Gilyarovsky's snuff resembled the native smell of a steppe. “With a clover? The steppe smells of a tributary ... "- he used to say.
In 1896, V. A. Gilyarovsky received an editorial assignment from Russian Gazette, in which he then worked as a reporter, to cover coronation ceremonies in Moscow. Today everyone at least knows in general terms that the mediocre organization of celebrations has resulted in an unprecedented disaster at Khodynka, which took the lives of hundreds of people.
Gilyarovsky was the only one among nearly two hundred correspondents who spent “a night in the heat of the catastrophe, among a crowd of thousands of people, choking and dying on the Khodynka field.”
In the evening, on the eve of the “national holiday,” Vladimir Alekseevich settled on the balcony of the race pavilion, from which the whole field was in full view. Waiting for the start of the celebrations and the promised distribution of gifts, a lot of ordinary people gathered there: Muscovites and peasants from the surrounding villages. The fires were burning, and people whiled away the time until the morning with their families sitting on the ground, eating and drinking.
Restless nature of reporter did not long allowed Gilyarovsky to be in the role of a bystander. Leaving the pavilion, he went to the Khodynka. In the moat of an abandoned railway, a familiar cab driver met, inviting him to his company. They drank, ate, started a conversation.
Vladimir Alekseevich has got into his pocket for a snuffbox - there is none The festive mood vanished instantly, the father's gift was painfully expensive. I had to return to the race pavilion in the hope of finding a forgotten snuffbox.
This saved the life of the writer. It was not possible to reach the pavilion, but the place where the left cab drivers company was feasting was in the epicenter of the tragedy. Under the onslaught of the arriving crowd, people tried to get out of the ditch on the embankment, broke down, fell and crushed each other. In addition, there was a deep abandoned well in the moat, which was planted and covered with earth. Under the weight of the people, the boards collapsed, and the well was quickly filled with human bodies, along which the crowd trampled ...
And the snuffbox? She was in the back pocket. Gilyarovsky did not check it and discovered the loss only in the morning, getting out of a bloody crush.
The second case, when the father's gift was saved by the writer, occurred at the end of July 1899. V. A. Gilyarovsky then headed the Moscow department of the large Petersburg newspaper Russia. It happened in Belgrade, where the writer's work brought reporter work.
Serbia at that time was a kingdom, the talentless ruler of which, Milan, expelled to the wound, but who returned, was desperately trying to stay in power, not disdaining provocations, political repression and secret murders.
The arrival of Gilyarovsky, who was well acquainted with some representatives of the radical party, which united the opponents of Milan, coincided with a provocation - a staged assassination attempt on a tyrant.
The appearance of a foreign correspondent connected with the radicals and capable of informing the world about the internal political situation did not suit the Milan supporters. A passport was confiscated from V. A. Gilyarovsky, his telegrams were not sent to the newspaper, and the writer himself was threatened with reprisals. Milanovtsy secretly destroyed undesirable foreigners, and things with documents issued for leaving Serbia were thrown at some European railway station.
Serbian friends came to the hotel to Gilyarovsky a few minutes before his arrest. The writer, having quickly assembled, came out of the room with the Serbs, but, passing through the corridors, he remembered that he had forgotten the snuff-box and, despite the objections, returned behind it.
Just as three years ago, the incredible happened. In the absence of Gilyarovsky, a military patrol passed by Serbian friends on their way to arrest a Russian correspondent. Patrol and writer missed! By morning, V. A. Gilyarovsky was already on board the Hungarian steamer and safely left the borders of Serbia.
I forgot, missed - think about it, chance, say someone. Or maybe not? Maybe the father's gift-charm really turned out to be a happy talisman of the writer? Who knows…