Harrison accompanies Bertrand Russell into the heartland

In early June, a delegation from Great Britain, including philosopher and writer Bertrand Russell, arrived in Moscow to gather information that might lead to resumption of trade between England and Russia. Mogilevsky told Marguerite she would be with them to keep watch over the delegates. She readily agreed to go, hoping to slip information to the British representatives.

Of the two dozen British delegates on the trip, Russell most attracted Marguerite’s attention. Perhaps she was drawn to him because of their shared aristocratic background, or maybe she had been given instructions to follow him. But while other members of the delegation toured children’s homes and hospitals, those two took walks alone in the country. Russell had come to Russia excited to see Communism in practice, but, as the days passed, he grew increasingly disillusioned. “The time I spent in Russia was one of continually increasing nightmare,” he wrote. “Cruelty, poverty, suspicion, persecution formed the very air we breathed.” 

Bertrand Russell

The Russians had given the delegates the best accommodations, but Russell noted with disgust that villagers were drawing drinking water from a river flowing with refuse. He was bothered by swarms of malaria-carrying mosquitoes and flies that blackened the tables. Russell told his companions that he had heard shots during the night, but the more ardent Communists in the delegation assured him the sounds were merely cars backfiring.

Later Russell recalled that one member of the delegation, a Quaker named Clifford Allen, became seriously ill with pneumonia on a boat trip down the Volga River. Although there was a Russian nurse on board, “she was afraid to sit with him at night for fear he might die and his ghost seize her,” Russell recalled. Marguerite stepped in and cared for Allen “with more skill and devotion than was shown by his old friends,”  Russell said.

Allen survived the trip and lived many more years, serving as a member of the House of Lords. 

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