Prince Yuri Lubovedsky
‘Her history is rather unusual. She is Polish, born in the Volyne province, and as a child lived not far from Rovno, on the estate of a certain count for whom her father was superintendent. There were two brothers and two sisters in the family. The mother died when they were all quite young and they were brought up by an old aunt. When this girl, Vitvitskaia, was fourteen and her sister sixteen, their father died.
‘At that time one brother was studying somewhere in Italy, preparing for the Catholic priesthood. The other had turned out to be a great scoundrel. He had run away from college the year before, and was in hiding, so it was rumoured, somewhere in Odessa.
‘At the death of the father, the two sisters and their aunt were compelled to leave the estate since a new superintendent had been taken on. They moved to Rovno. Shortly afterwards, the old aunt also died. The situation of the sisters became difficult. On the advice of a distant relative, they sold their belongings and moved to Odessa, where they entered a vocational school to learn to be dressmakers.
‘Vitvitskaia was very beautiful and, in contrast to her elder sister, frivolous. She had a great many admirers, among them a commercial traveller who seduced her and took her off to St. Petersburg. As she had quarrelled with her sister, she took with her her share of their heritage. In St. Petersburg the commercial traveller robbed and deserted her, and she found herself penniless in a strange city.
‘After many struggles and misfortunes, she finally became the mistress of an old senator; but he soon became jealous of some young student and turned her out. She then got into the “respectable” family of a certain doctor, who trained her to extend his practice by a very original method.
‘The doctor’s wife had met her in the garden in front of the Alexandra theatre, had sat down beside her, and had persuaded her to come and live with them. She then taught her the following maneuver: