The last lover of the Empress – Іван Корсак

Potyomkin had to report about the situation in Mala Rus today.

“Victorious war is over, Zaporozhian Cossacks had done their work” – the prince’s memory was good and he exactly named number of troops, towns and villages where the heaviest fightings took place.

“It’s time to eliminate Zaporozhian Sich. It is distemper for us – nobleman punishes his peasant and this peasant begins to look towards Zaporozhian steppes. The orders from Petersburg often are not performed, or they are performed with tricks characteristic for Ukrainians – it’s impossible to find out who is guilty. The settlement of foreigners in the south of Mala Rus especially troubles, because we are waiting for the arrival of one hundred thousand German families. And Kalnyshevskiy, obsequiously nodding in our direction, really he heavily colonizes the south with Zaporozhians – forty five villages and more than five thousand farms appeared only recently thanks to his efforts. That’s why it is necessary to cut Zaporozhian knot.”

He spoke persuasively, because nobody traveled on the dusty southern roads as he did, and nobody knew better the situation in that country. Suddenly Potyomkin saw an old bishop among people, he was surprised, because State Council was not for bishops, not parish meeting; there was even buzzing in his head when the bishop dared to interrupt him:

“Prince, don’t cause injustice to people, don’t step on the road of evil… You entered for kosh as a Kosh Otaman Gritsko Nechesa, but you called Kalnyshevskiy “dear father”, – bishop said reproachfully – “and if you worship injustice, land will not accept your bones, and descendants will call you the prince of darkness…”

“I’m prince of Tauride!” – Potyomkin slipped out and pull together, rubbed his eye which was already healthy – there wasn’t any bishop, it seemed.

Dignitaries in the Council looked at each other in surprise: why did he make boast of his title, reading a report, and the empress began to rally, surprised at a long break:

“Prince, we know all your honourable titles. But what do you offer?”

Having made excuses and complained of overwork, Potyomkin expanded how to use the troops of Tekeli and Prosorovskiy, what to do with Kalnyshevskiy. There weren’t big debates, because it was impossible to find better time, everybody was considering how to share vast lands and everything on them.

…Agreements adopted at the State Council were performed under particular control, as never before. Five columns of troops of one hundred thousand soldiers of Peter Tekeli were going to Sich quickly, surrounding it from different sides. But Serbian Tekeli was afraid of any actions until Prosorovskiy occupy Cossacks’ tents with his troops – every invader knows that flame of rebellion can burst out very quickly, and it’s very difficult to blow out that flame even with soldiers’ overcoats.

Meanwhile the council of fathers took place in the Sich.

“Let them burn out our eyes, but we will not give the Sich-mother,” somebody was stubborn.

“Brothers, there are some thousands of us, but there are much more Muscovites, they are like midges, which it is difficult to count” – more cautious people warned.

“We will not give Zaporozhye till the sun shines…”

Kalnyshevskiy didn’t interrupt anybody, even the hottest; he saw much for his eighty years. He parted with his life many times, and sometimes he didn’t have time even to part. But it was the most difficult time; it would be better not live to see that time… And if he was fated to live, he would have to adopt a decision, worthy of his old years, anyhow.

He had a strange dream last night. He saw a bishop, very similar to the metropolitan Arceniy, it was as if the last conversation with him continued.

“There will be time to gather stones, Peter” – Arceniy hadn’t changed since that time, only his face was grey as in the darkness – “you only need to believe and live.”

A dispute broke out at the father’s council when they were discussing priest Vladimir who shared troubles and joy with the Cossacks.

“Resignation will save us” – the priest said and the council began to boom indignantly and discomposedly, but the bishop didn’t pay attention – “we’ll not compare ourselves with enemies, spill Christian blood.”

The word of priest had always been a law for veteran Cossacks, but now they were ready to shred him.

“He is a spy from Moscow! He is a ban-dog!”

“Brothers” – Kalnyshevskiy said at last – “we are not strong enough to start a fight. Hear my grey head… If you die here, even as heroes, who will have children, who will run the show here…Foregners?”

Kosh Otaman was silent, then he added cap in hand, “Moses with his people was going away from captivity for forty years, but you may do this even longer. I prefer not to talk what these gadders will do with Sich. Let your heart say you where to go…”

The oldest went to Tekeli the next day, Solovki waited for Kosh Otaman, Turuhansk expected clerk Ivan Globa, and military judge Pavel Globa had to get in Tobolsk.

Different people went to Sich as midges – they were bringing out ammunition, flags, archives of Zaporozhian military chancery, they earthed cannons. Many people came in the church; they were not praying but packing silver and gold from ornaments in their sacks in a hurry.

Cossacks managed to save only the icon of Saint Sich Pokrova.

“Go where you heart says,” Kosh Otaman advised his sworn brothers.

First of all they went to Tekeli.

“General, let us preserve fish, because your people took away everything. General didn’t grudge fish.”

Cossacks went in tens by day and in thousands at night from Sich to Turkish lands.

There weren’t enough carts, of course, so they went on foot, crossing themselves and greeting their land. “In 1775 nearly 5000 Cossacks left Zaporozhye and went to Turkish lands,” contemporaries wrote.

Rather big hordes went to the Dniester firth, to the town Akerman. Local pasha understood the trouble, helped with food and others, allowed to become Kosh Otaman. Cossacks who got used to campaigns, divided into units, and forty dignified Cossacks were chosen to go to a sultan with deputation.

Sultan didn’t deny a request, guaranteed belief, military order, helped with clothes and gave island of Saint George in the mouth of Danube for Sich, and steppe near the southern tributary in addition. Cohort got usual ammunition – mace, horse-tail and gonfalon, patriarch from Konstantinopol laid hands on them.

People were going to new Sich from Ukraine, Cossacks and their families were plodding along far prairie roads under hot southern sun – they brought the icon of Saint Sich Pokrova there on foot.

Arrivals had their troubles on their land, quarrels and disagreements till they divided the booty. Public prosecutor prince Vyasemskiy took two hundred thousand tithes, prince Potyomkin took one hundred and fifty thousand, and each Russian nobleman got a thousand and a half tithes at least if he carried three Russian peasant families there. Four and a half tithes of Ukrainian land were shared in all.

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