Tatiana Metternich, Princess Metternich, formerly the Russian born Princess Vassiltchikov, was one of the grandest ladies I have ever known. Beautiful, courteous, an aristocrat to the bone, with her sleek blue eyes she was the epitome of a class that no longer exists.
When I think of her, I am reminded of one particular anecdote she once told me. Near the end of the Spanish Civil War, an aristocratic lady lost her son; he was assassinated by a republican. She went into mourning and never fully recovered. One day, the doorbell rang. Upon opening the door, she found herself face to face with the assassin. She recognized his identity and physique for, as is often the case, they had been neighbors and had known each other for ages.
“How dare you show up here.”
“I came only to ask for your pardon.”
“You shall never have it.”
“Allow me to return each day, to wait for your pardon.”
The lady shrugged her shoulders and turned her back. The man sat himself in a chair in the vestibule. He waited for hours in silence, without moving a muscle. Then he left.
The same scene repeated the following day, and the day after, for a week, a month, two months, three months. Each and every day the assassin would sit motionless for hours in the same chair. Finally one day, the lady, the mother, approached and put a hand on his shoulder, and said simply, “Vaya con Dios”, “Go with God.” She had pardoned him.