The last lover of the Empress – Іван Корсак

And he understood everything. The empress sent Mirovich to make Ivan Antonovich free, but she sent them to kill him. By one stroke of the razor across the throat of the legitimate claimant to the throne, she got rid of a competitor, and of possible Cossack chieftain, whose generation still bothered the throne.

And Vlasev and Checkin only winked merrily, they had reason to rejoice. Each of them, tacit scammers of Secret Expedition, got seven thousand roubles, today in the morning, army captain had only fifty roubles a year, but they earned for one hundred and forty years ahead by one stroke of the razor. They worked hard a little while writing secret denunciations, Record Office will keep forty secret denunciations up to the day of Ivan Antonovich’s death.

And Vasiliy wanted to look if a fast runner was riding with a pardon, as in a fairy-tale, pardon which he saw with his eyes, a straw of saving, naive and ridiculous desire. But there isn’t any fairy-tale, there is only a scaffold, awkwardly made, painted in a hurry.

Mirovich crossed himself and waved with his hand at the executioner – so it be… Blade glinted in the sun, the crowd cried and Vasiliy’s head was rolling on the platform, splashing blood. Executioner leaned and raised it up solemnly, stepping aside a bloody stream – he learned not in vain, he made a smart job…


Potyomkin was the first who entered an empty temple, and just an echo of his footsteps caused unexpected excitement. His dream came true, his persistence outweighed, he would get married today. Empress with her matron-of-honour came after him, the czar’s gate opened, and a priest was bringing cross and Gospel.

Invisible chorus sounded, because nobody could see this wedding according to the agreement, except for a priest. Potyomkin was standing near the empress and he couldn’t hide his excitement, he only felt sweat under band on the forehead, covering his sightless eye.

The priest is coming up to them with two candles, blesses thrice, and when there was time to step on a wrap, Grigoriy stepped first, he even twitched. The empress who knew a sign (that who steps first, will be the head of the family), and burst out laughing softly, as if she choked, but pulled together at once.

The priest is asking God and witnesses, in a tremulous voice, clearing his throat, to confirm the decision to join the church marriage, and he asks bride to vow daet.

“I, Grigoriy, wive you, Catherine, and promise you husband’s grace, faith and civility, and we’ll be together till death, so we, God, in Holy Trinity, help and all saints.”

“I, Catherine, promise you grace faith, civility and wife’s obedience.”

The priest was reading The Epistle of Paul to the Ephesians in a firmer voice, but he stumbled at the word “obedience”, the ordinary text sounded in a head in an unexpected secular manner, “How the empress can obey her vassal even if he is her husband?” The priest looked at the bride, he didn’t dare read prayer, but the empress agreed to continue by a silent nod of the head.

The wedding continued without adventures and surprises.

“Lord, give slaves of God, Grigoriy and Catherine, many good years, in the health and salvation…”

“Congratulate you, husband, I give you a general-in-chief and appoint a vice-president of the Military Collegium.”

He was appointed a Governor-General of Mala Russia two months ago. Now he received one hundred thousand roubles on birthdays and holidays, and he lived in all imperial residences and was served free of charge by palace staff.

Then the empress followed Potyomkin’s honours with German punctuality. She especially liked to get foreign orders for him. It was not always easy – wishers whispered how to give honours to the lover of murderer of czar, who occupied the throne? – But stubbornness of foreign rulers had capitulated under the skilful actions of diplomats.

First of all Potyomkin was prized with Order of Alexander Nevsky and Order of the Polish White Eagle sent by Stanislav August. Things went better. The empress awarded Potyomkin with Order of St. Andrew, Frederick II sent the Prussian Order of White Eagle, Denmark sent Order of the White Elephant, Sweden presented the Order of St. Seraphim. It was humiliating, of course, that Louis XVI refused to give the Order of the Holy Spirit and the Golden Fleece, saying that only Catholics can be awarded with this Order. George II will make round eyes, when the ambassador in London gives the request of the Order of the Garter.

Prince de Ligne once told Potyomkin that he could become Prince of Moldova and Wallachia.

“These are the little nothings of life,” Potyomkin denied. “If I wanted, I would become a king of Poland, I would refuse from Duchy of Courland. I’m higher.”

Catherine II is the empress. And she had the right to write Potyomkin orders for treasure-house on an occasional piece of paper, “Take how much you want.”

The empress’s generosity didn’t get round Grigoriy’s relatives. Second cousin Pavel Potyomkin became the governor of the Caucasus, and Pavel’s brother Michael became a Chief Inspector of Military Office, sister’s nephew Alexander Samoilov received an appointment of Secretary of the State Council and the rank of general, other nephews became the empress’s adjutants.


Bergman, Rontsov and Korsakov had been sitting in the empress’s reception-room for a long time, they felt constrained, from time to time they twitched with anticipation and unusual atmosphere for them all – first they had privilege to be in this hall. Three men were sitting side by side, each holding a bouquet of flowers and they were looking at each other askance, jealously, by a peripheral vision.

At last the empress came, she moved her aging body not so easily as once, but she was smiling and cherubic – she never forgot to graze her face with a piece of ice before coming; officers stood at attention, holding bouquets on the right side, as muskets needed for fight right now.

The empress came up to the officers, found some gentle words for everybody as mother empress should do, she only stood near Korsakov longer, looked at him up and down, as if capricious customer were evaluating unbroken stallion, trembling with impatience and fear, on the market.

“I hope for soon meeting,” she only said to him.

And then life twisted the officer as in spring rough and muddy stream, with sudden whirls of wells. Korsakov was brought to a court physician Rogerson, who had been examining him nearly two hours. Rogerson put his ear to the back, then to the chest, bobbed on his knees and demanded to show tongue, he was going round the officer, purring an unknown song as if his main task was to pick at something, he tried to do his best, but in vain. In the end, he slapped with his palm on the back of the officer, maybe it meant approval, and pointed at the door, where long-term valet Zahariy Konstantinovich appeared like ghost at that moment.

“You must demonstrate your abilities of a man first of all,” valet explained in the dining-room. “I advise to have a solid meal, because you have to pass exam for three nights to maid of honor Anna Stepanovna Protasova – she is very wise in love joys, she will twist you as an experienced soldier twists his leggings.”

The valet didn’t lie, Protasova didn’t let him laze all three nights: he had enough of her, because she had halitosis, bandy hairy legs, and turning aside, was forced every time, he was trembling, as in the old cart on the road which was dirty and broken by autumn bad weather.

“He is a good man for troop duty” – maid of honor sent recruit back to valet at last.

And when he felt quite himself in some days, Anna Stepanovna and Zahariy Konstantinovich invited him to a dinner. Then the valet was smartening him up till evening, smoothed him over with something fragrant, and at ten o’clock lady’s-maid Maria Savvichna Perekusihina, with stern triumph on her face, led him, dressed in Chinese luxury dressing gown, to the empress’s bedroom to read books at nights.

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: