The last lover of the Empress – Іван Корсак

“They say, Turks are pleased with Koliivshchina in Ukraine” – Orlov was skimming cards by a fan, looking for the necessary one as if Turk was hidden somewhere in a pile of cards – “malorus rebel is together with Mussulman one though he is an Orthodox…”

“And this is Turkish fun but for French money. And their prompter has Paris pronunciation too” – Panin droned and raised his eyebrows in surprise when Catherine discarded – “Your Majesty, gambles are forbidden in Russia…”

“Gambles mean to play for money. And we are playing for stones,” joyous, a bit sly smile passed on empress’s face – her answer was witty, and besides, she confused Panin with an unexpected, rather risky, and really venturous move.

Some more movements – and Panin made face as if from brash, and he looked at handful of “stones” – diamonds discontentedly; empress pulled the gain towards herself.

“Nikita Ivanovich, concerning story with Turks” – her comfort from the gain dissappeared suddenly – “a letter from a Cossack came, they wrote that Kalnyshevskiy was preparing a deputation to a Crimean khan in addition. If we don’t climb down in a dispute about boundary, he will ask khan’s drag, that is Turkish drag.”

“It’s difficult to choose worse time” – Orlov was giving away cards knowingly, having flown over the table, they were clamping flatly as if somebody sticked them – “here is not Siberia for Kosh Otaman, it is a hanging matter.”

“Prince, we still remember Matsievich” – the empress shook her head alertly as if she were looking back whether the metropolitan was within call – “a lier is in a safe cage but he manages to trouble people there.”

“Maybe it’s one more Ukrainian trick” – an idea suggested itself to Panin and couldn’t be kept there and sounded aloud.

“In my opinion it’s time for carpenters to cut a block for gallows. It would be terrible if poor Cossacks joined Turkish army consisting of half a million people” – Orlov waved his hand lubberly and cards rained on the floor – “don’t oversee!”

“Grigoriy Grigorievich, one must brandish here not with hands, sword or rope” – Panin didn’t get used to an imprudence or hastiness – “one have to think it over very well. I see a trick in this letter: maybe they want to frighten Petersburg, maybe get out our actions, it’s necessary to weigh everything thoroughly…”

“While weighing” – Orlov uttered a word as if he were imitating – “Kosh Otaman will get in touch with khan. And call to memory, Nikita Ivanovich, how Vygovskiy joined khan and blossom of our troops was downtrodden in mud near Konotop, only their foolishness and quarrels saved us from dangerous campaign to Moscow.”

“Maybe simply to wait, not to let the letter go, and then something will be clear,” the empress considered aloud.

“Your words are wise, Your Majesty” – Panin fastened upon words – “I would like to add only one thing. What if to send Kosh Otaman a letter as if from Crimean khan, to think it over thoroughly, so Kosh Otaman’s intention will be clear like an awl from a sack, and we’ll know everything from Kalnyshevskiy’s nearest encirclement.”

“Childish device” – Orlov held his own – “old wriggler will understand the plan.”

“If he understands, we’ll lose nothing. We checked faithfulness, or we would find other excuse.”

“And what if to do worse – to help Cossacks to unite with Crimeans? It will be a performance, even a French can’t invent this…”

Then the empress played only for show, Turkish vision touched her to the quick. She had been hatching for years and would be thinking over her nourished idea more thoroughly, idea which would become the most colossal myth for ages. She must confirm Voltair’s words thrown to the whole Europe: “Great man by name Catherine!” The time will come and she’ll tell everything she thinks. Because she was sure that she would come to an understanding with this strange Joseph II, the emperor of the Empire. She snaps his fingers at his tricks – he is dressed in vulgar clothes, goes by an old shabby coach, prohibits the lieges to kneel down and kiss a hand. She’ll find means how to assure Joseph, they will break to pieces Mussulman Empire together, where pashas are terribly hard-mouthed, bandits rob towns and villages – even revolted Christian lieges will help. The whole Europe will be rebuilt. They’ll create new state Dakia headed by Christian emperor in the place of Moldova, Valahiya and Bessarabia. Russia will take Ochakov and the Dnieper firth and a land between the Bug and the Dniester in addition.

Ancient Greek monarchy will be renewed on the ruins of barbarous Mussulman state by the will of great man by name Catherine. Her grandson may be throned, for example.

Any trick is possible for the sake of this great game, and any actions, because this game is not for these stones shining before her on the loo-table; this game is much more serious and risky.

Meanwhile the game for stones was going to be over, the empress’s thoughts were far, Panin wasn’t lucky today, that’s why Orlov was banking diamonds from the table with badly hidden pleasure.

The empress said to Panin, “Write, Nikita Ivanovich, write to this Zaporizhian barbate old man, letter from khan, and let’s play bo-peep a little. And then we’ll see who among us is nailed in a crown.”


A little time passed after Kalnyshevskiy with Globa and Golovatyy wrote the report for himself to Petersburg, and Kosh Otaman visited the house of Ivan Globa. While hostesses were laying the table, men were discussing how to settle Ukrainians-escapees on lands which were still under Polish rule. A cat entered the room gravely, as a real mistress, walking under hostesses’ feet, looked around and began to chafe at feet, at Kalnyshevskiy’s feet too.

“Your cat is calm” – Kosh Otaman surprised – “domestic, it’s not afraid of people at all.”

“There isn’t such cat anywhere” – a host smiled darkly – “it even knows German.”

“You are a fabler” – Kosh Otaman quackled, shaking his sides.

“And try” – Globa was winding up – “tell some Ukrainian names of women and one German name.”

The cat was really domestic, sat on Kalnyshevskiy’s knees without ceremonies and began to purr contentedly.

“Pelageya, Mokrina, and Gorpina, Nadezhda” – Kosh Otaman rose to clerk’s bait and he was stroking the cat slowly, which arched with visible relish – “Marusya, Stepanida, Tecklya, Angelt-Tserbskaya…”

At the last word the cat screamed wildly suddenly, jumped up as it were scalded, looked around, even sparks hissed in its eyes, then darted around the room, incredibly funky by something, it was darting from corner to corner like lightning, with ruffled hair and incessant screaming, at last it jumped on the table, throwing food over, then jumped into the window – a glass from the window rattled and spilled to sides.

“I told you that it knew German” – a host scratched his head, looking at unanticipated losses of a cat.”

Kosh Otaman only looked around in bewilderment.

“No, it doesn’t speak German” – Globa pitied a guest – “but it smells sausage a mile away. I caught it on the wickedness of a servant; hit it as sheaf, saying “Fredericka”, “Augusta”, “Angelt”, “Tserbskaya”. So the cat thought that it would be beaten now…”

Hostesses were laying the table again, smiling and grumbling, servant screened window with a guilty face, and a runner arrived at this time with a post.

Завантажити матеріал у повному обсязі:

( Поки що оцінок немає )

Знайшли помилку або неточність? Будь ласка, виділіть її мишкою та натисніть Ctrl+Enter.

Додати коментар

Повідомити про помилку

Текст, який буде надіслано нашим редакторам: