On a Trip to the Store

The two pretty girls in nurses uniforms casually strolled the aisles of the busy high street department store. A clerk was folding sweaters on one counter, and he didn’t notice them at first. After all, so many people came and went there, especially in the middle of the day. But soon, the pair began to attract the salesperson’s notice.

The two were acting like girls who were much younger than their faces showed. Clearly, the clerk would say later, it was obvious that they were related. That much was obvious. It was also obvious that the two were also beautiful. But he saw that the girls were picking up items–clothing, household items, tchotchkes–and laughing at them hysterically, putting them back in the wrong places, and they were whispering things to each other as they made their way around the store.

He approached the pair. “May I assist you?” the clerk offered. The girls blushed and giggled and whispered to each other. They ignored the clerk’s offer. He had the opportunity to examine them closer as they whispered back and forth. Their nurses uniforms were neat and tidy and clean–too much so, it seemed to the clerk, for them to have come from work to the store. Perhaps they were on their way to work and were only killing some time before their shifts. It was wartime, after all, and he had some empathy with young people who had to grow up in such an unsettled period of Russian history.

Finally, one of the girls, the taller one, shook her head and, in a perfect upper class accent, asked the clerk, “Sir, how does one acquire these items?”

“What do you mean?” the clerk asked incredulously. “Why, you pay for them, of course!” he said. This caused the girls to giggle again. “Thank you, sir,” the taller girl said. After another whispered exchange, the girls turned from the man and ran out of the store hand in hand.

The clerk shook his head and sighed as he returned to his sweaters. He didn’t understand this younger generation.

After they returned to the palace, the Grand Duchesses Tatiana and Olga, the eldest daughters of Czar Nicholas II, asked their lady-in-waiting, “How do you use money for things?”


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