In Kiev, at Podol (the northern section of the city), there dwelt an elderly widow with her son and daughter. The old woman dearly loved St. Nicholas and, in all cases of difficulty, would go to his church to pray before the image of the saintly bishop, always receiving consolation and the easing of her misfortune. Her son, seemingly a student, became an officer.
The governments of the city changed frequently: Whites, Reds, a Hetman, a Directory, Poles, Germans, etc. All former officers were arrested on the spot, the old woman's son among them. His sister rushed about from one "department" of the time to another. She ran her legs off, but achieved nothing. But the old woman ran off to St. Nicholas. Long did she pray before his icon; then she returned home, consoled that the saintly bishop will help. She sat down to have a spot of tea, while her daughter's hands simply fell to her sides. O, woe! her brother had vanished!
The son returned home at dawn of the following day. Famished, beaten, dirty, weary. According to him, a large group of officers under a strong convoy of guards was being led off to Pechersk. This is the hilly section of town, opposite from Podol, by the Kiev-Caves Lavra. There was a large hippodrome there, where horse races were held. Beyond it, there was a grove, and rampart-trenches which had been dug in Peter I's day, as a defense against the Swedes. It was in that grove, by the rampart-trenches, that the shootings took place.
They had come up to the hippodrome when, suddenly, some little old man or other stepped out from around a corner. He approached the convoy-commandant and asked: "Where are you taking them?"
The commandant replied, rudely: "To Dukhonin's H.Q.!" (which meant, in the jargon of the time, "to be shot"). "Go away, old man!" The old man left, but, in doing so, he took the old woman's son by the hand and said: "Let him go. I know him."
Neither the commandant nor the escort-guards replied with even so much as a single word, nor did they hinder him. The little old man led the young fellow out around the corner and, saying, "Go on home to your mother," vanished away somewhere.
The old woman was overjoyed and immediately set off to thank St. Nicholas. The son wanted to do nothing more than to lie down and have a good, long sleep, but his mother took him along with her to the church. He had probably been there on previous occasions, but had been but little interested in anything.
The little old woman led him up to a huge image of the saintly bishop. The son turned ashen-pale and began to tremble. He could only whisper: "Mother, dear, but that's the very same elder who led me to freedom...."