It was December, 1917. Christmas was approaching, but at Smolny no-one was thinking of holidays. We were working non-stop. Winter had still not set in properly, sleet was falling and a cold northerly wind was blowing along the Neva.
Nadezhda Konstantinovna was trying to persuade Vladimir Ilyich to leave town for a few days over Christmas. She argued that he needed a respite from work, he was sleeping badly and was clearly suffering from fatigue.
The doctor who ran the Halila sanatorium in Finland, on the Karelian Isthmus, came to see me at the People’s Commissariat for Welfare and told me that his sanatorium had a new private residence, warm and well-lit, which he would be more than willing to put at Lenin’s disposal. Vladimir Ilyich, however, brushed aside all our arguments. Although we told him that there was a magnificent forest nearby where one could go hunting as much as one wished, Vladimir Ilyich would only answer: ‘Hunting is a fine thing, but we have no end of work to do. True, we have already made a start, but even the Bolsheviks cannot organise a new state in two months. That will take ten years at least.’
Nadezhda Konstantinovna interrupted him: ‘What? Does that mean you are going to spend all those years sitting at your desk without a break?’ ‘Well, we’ll see how things are later on,’ was Lenin’s reply."