“He is walking in a cell, speaking something in his beard, maybe he’s writing his verses…”
Sheshkovskiy was reported about Mirovich twice a day.
“It would be better tackle him with zeal, he may tell much interesting. But terms of investigation should be extended…”
“By no means” – the empress didn’t agree – “unbelievable rumors, fabrications and fantasies roam in Europe. And trial must say its fair word sooner.”
The empress didn’t want to delay this case; she made senate push things on, and senate made Supreme Court do it. She prepared a list of judges personally, considering every surname. Both local dignitaries and representatives of other states, who had to report in monarch’s houses, had to spread rumors about her innocence in death of former emperor Ivan Antonovich, and it must be established forever. She was turning her head as a schoolgirl of primary school, because it was still difficult to her to write in Russian, she had to express regret for her terrible orthography, but she wrote out names of future famous in the empire judges personally: “metropolitan Dimitriy, archbishop Gavriil, bishop Athanasius, archimandrite Laurentiy, archimandrite Simeon, count Razumovsky, count Alexander Buturlin, prince J. Shakhovskoy, count P. Chernyshev, count Z. Chernyshev, count I. Chernyshev, count M. Skavronsky, count G. Vorontsov, count N. Panin, count P. Panin, F. Ushakov, N. Muravyov, F. Miloslavskiy, A. Olsufyev, prince P. Trubetskoy, count V. Fermor, S. Naryshkin, L. Naryshkin, count Ernst Minih, S. Mordvinov, count Minnih, I. Talysin, count A. Golitsin, vice-chancellor count A. Golitsin, count I. Gendrikov, D. de Bosket, I. Betskiy, count G. Orlov, count S. Yaguzhinskiy, F. Emme, baron A. Cherkasov, I. Shlatter, A. Glebov, F. Vadkovskiy, G. Veinmarn, baron von Dits, N. Chicherin, J. Yevreinov, D. Volkov…”
The empress thought that at worst they would be guilty in unfair and unjust proceedings; they would be answerable to the world and next generations. But the matter shouldn’t come to it.
He could barely cross the threshold of his cell, even climbed, because his legs bent badly as if somebody tied rough sticks to them; quietly limped to a chair and sat so carefully as if there were needles. Mirovich touched his head with hands and he was sitting moveless for a long time – time stopped suddenly as an hour-glass which was broken for unknown reason and a thin trickle of fine sand fell away and ended up. Properly, he didn’t need time now – man doesn’t need a thing he can’t use. Not because he is in prison, in a fast stone cage, in a clap-net (he caught himself!), but because he can’t change circumstances even a little.
He was judged yesterday. Therefore, is it all?
In a cell, which was spacious and dry and didn’t look as a blind and musty cell of the late emperor Ivan Antonovich, Vasiliy Mirovich had time to think over all last events. All the more so, first he wasn’t called anywhere, nobody came to him, Mirovich felt as if he were on a desert island.
What happened? Why? What did these unexpected, unpredictable, not contracted events foreshow?
He began to skim page by page in the memory, as quickly read book, and to consider not only separate line but separate letter and sign – each could conceal an answer.
First of all, why did count Orlov and the empress choose him? If they plotted not noble matter from the very beginning and wanted to commit an abomination, an ordinary bloodhound of a Secret Expedition could come in handy more. Why him?
Having arrived in Petersburg from obscurity, Mirovich became famous in two years. Vasiliy was pleased that his verses were wandering in manuscripts in a capital, he was cited. Incorruptible Mikhail Lomonosov, who was walking in corridors of university, both in winter and in summer, dressed in his eastern felt boots decorated with glass which he made himself, he cited Vasiliy Mirovich’s verses as an example of the newest poetic school. And when there was competition for the picture of rail bridges in St. Petersburg declared, Vasiliy Mirovich won it. He, a man of family, eight emperors and eight convocations of a Senate had been engaged in his capital more than half a century, he dared judge with a Senate, that very Mirovich dared, whose grandfather was still alive, bothered about independence of Ukraine from Warsaw, solicits European diplomats. Petersburg had troubles too: French King Louis XV had not recognized the title of Empress II Catherine the Great, and when he wanted to joke at a lady he said that she was dressed like Catherine…
So why did Orlov and the empress choose him? It seemed that at the beginning everything was according to agreements. Instead of expected punishment for complain of Senate, the empress promoted Mirovich to the rank of lieutenant rank ahead of schedule on the 1st of October, 1763.
Something ended up in his soul when he saw Ivan Antonovich’s body on a moist floor, in the shadow, in twinkling of purblind candle, dead body in a pool of blood, with intersected obliquely throat – blood was running from a wound.
He was praying every time he went to regular meeting of the High Court, Petersburg didn’t know higher Court: forty-eight dignitaries in gold coats and spiritual hierarchy in fluffy robes – he was praying to control himself and not to tell a secret of agreement; he was mistaken and he had to be responsible before God.
And only today, when a sentence was passed, he allowed himself to tell sly judges, “Peter III had been on the throne not long, his wife became his murderer. She stole unhappy Ivan Antonovich’s throne, she was robbing this land. Don’t you know that at her direction, ships with gold and silver for twenty five million were sent to her brother, Prince Friedrich August? They were taken from those who were eating today bark from trees and straw. Catherine won’t be able to excuse herself before God.”
That’s all. Tomorrow sentence will be executed. And maybe runner on a horse will come at the last moment, and he will read a pardon gaspingly? The same pardon with sprawling signature of the empress, which he saw in count Orlov’s hands with his own eyes?
A banker Suderland wrote a letter hard, he was writing forcedly, and a pen was scratching and squirting ink with displeasure as if it felt the host’s mood.
It was his third letter to the Netherlands about credit for the empress, because the previous two letters came with refusal because of delay in payment.
“A police-officer came,” a valet appeared at the doorstep, interrupting his stray thoughts.
A police-officer doubted long under an inquiring look of the banker, he couldn’t come to the scratch to explain his presence there.
“Mr Suderland, I must execute the empress’s order,” he said at last, stumbling. “I don’t know the reason for the empress’s displeasure, but punishment is smart.”
“Maybe she is angry because I didn’t bring her money in time” – it was the first banker’s thought – “but why I’m quilty if banking houses fear.”