Іван Корсак - The last lover of the Empress (сторінка 19)

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       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.

       Other troubles were smaller: prince Potyomkin got much temporality, and when Cossacks went to Turkey as refugees from prince Grigoriy, “arrivals from Slavonic provincial chancery major Grigoriy Borsenko and Commissar Ivan Deryaev stroke out all icons in silver ornaments in the church and took with them. They took also silver gates, bowls and other things in empty Zaporozhian sacristy.” P. Korolenko described this so, paying attention to details. Cossacks’ cemeteries were destroyed; prince Vyasemskiy used gravestones and crosses for a basement, building the estate. P. Korolenko told about steward of prince A. Vyasemskiy’s estate, too who was an owner of village Pokrovskoye, Ivan Roselnlantser who “broke the biggest bells in that church, and sold copper to Jews in Poland, 11 roubles for a pood”…

      

38

 

       She couldn’t keep her anxiety and triumph in a voice from showing this time, she even set her teeth not to show joyful smile, it was in vain; the empress was dictating a secret order,

       “The main Polish rebel Kostyushko and his secretary Nemtsevich, adjutant Phisher must be sent to Saint-Petersburg. As this secret is very important and is brought under the foreign name, you have to tell from the very beginning that this is major-general chevalier Miloshevich, injured in Warsaw, his documents are inclosed. I order strictly to have control over him…to bring Kostyushko by himself and to… guarding officer must fix his eyes on him from morning till night, and nobody among grassroots can see him and talk to him.”

       There was one more victory, one more step in the creation of a great myth of her empire and of truly Catherine the Great. Rebellious Poland is suppressed, its national leader Tadeush Kostyushko is captured. How, such notability… Famed brigadier of America who had built inaccessible West-Point, which was then famous all over the world, he was declared a freeman of France by the French convention, now he was its usual prisoner, he would become prisoner of Petropavlovsk fortress.

       Tadeush Kostyushko had difficulties in unlucky fight near Matseevich. Battle with Russians which had begun at dawn, was with varied success in the afternoon, and multiple advantage of artillery of Russian general Phersen made rows of Polish cavalry thinner.

       Kostyushko was going as hard as one could lick on the field of honour, nestling to the mane of horse; he was rushing to the other flank, subconsciously avoiding explosions of cannon-balls, which were hacking autumn land and raised it into the sky as black columns with a painful groan. He avoided fire of cannons, but the bullet of muskets stroke down his horse – and it was rolling with its rider on the field. Russian cavalry hurried to Tadeush, seeing this.

       Overpowering pain, Kostyushko put a barrel of pistol into the mouth and pulled the trigger.

       Misfire…

       Russian cavalry came up at this moment, one of them shot at him, the second piked him, and the third bited with a sword.

       “This Polish farter has good boots” – the first was taking off the boots from Kostyushko who lost consciousness. The second turned inside out his pockets and exulted at gold watch. The third was taking off seal-rings and whistled in surprise, seeing an inscription on them.

       It was written on seal-rings: “Motherland – to her defenders”.

       Kostyushko awarded his    swore brothers with such seal-rings instead of medals.

       The empress knew how difficult it was to suppress the flame of rebellion, sometimes they overdid there.

       They shot civilian population in Kobryn and Malorita, were bringing babies impaled on bayonets, and Suvorov forbid to bury the dead Poles in Warsaw suburb to intimidate – what to do: war is war.

       Russian general von Klugen would write about those events, “Our soldiers fired into the crowd. They were trigger-happy – and screaming of women, cries of babies horrified. It’s right that shed human blood raises to intoxication… “No quarter to be given,” – our soldiers cried and killed everybody without distinguishing neither age nor gender…”

       The empress had to appreciate Suvorov’s contribution; decree was already prepared about presenting him with parish Kobrino, with 13279 men bonds.

       She thought that the third division of Poland had to be the last forever, and the throne of proud Polish kings would take place in john instead of chair.

       She even concluded that her predecessors had not been able to complete. Destroying Sich, erasing Poland from the map of Europe, the empress began to suppress the most recalcitrant Litvins of White Russia. Tsar Alexei Mikhailovich, examining that land, didn’t kill only one million three hundred and fifty Litvins of two million nine thousand, he brought many of them too, because Moscow arrows had long sold Litvins on Astrakhan markets in the Persian bondage for three rubles for a person. Peter I blew Polotsk Sophia, drawing in, because there couldn’t be temples more ancient than in capitals of the empire. She completed their case; she distributed two hundred thousand souls of Litvins among favorites, and half a million serfs to different Russian landlords.

       … Face of Secretary of State became longer when he gave Catherine II sheet of paper, entirely clean, only three words were written in a rush.

       “A letter for you, Your Majesty. Will you order an answer?”

       The empress recognized Suvorov’s handwriting: “Hurra! Warsaw is ours!”

       “Write” – she smiled contented – “Hurra! Field Marshal Suvorov!”

       The empress could reward loyal subjects adequately, assigning a high rank in this way.

       Now she could do everything, she won.

       Her husband rose from the grave fourteen times, he raised another rebellion under the name of Peter III. The most difficult matter was connected with the fifth, Pugachev, but it was easier with successors after the sentence: “Emilian Pugachev must be quartered, stick his head on a stake, spread the body parts in four parts of the city and put on the wheels, then burn on these places.”

       Now her husband behaves politely, lies quietly under the heavy gravestone.

       She couldn’t put the head of Arceniy Matsievich under the ax of executioner, of course, as the rest. Ultimately, there is no difference between husband and metropolitan: they both are in stone sacks, and Arceniy couldn’t talk to anyboby in Revel prison up to death – it was forbidden to appoint guard who knew at least one Russian word.

       All victories belong to her, to the greatest man whose name is Catherine…

      

39

 

       Years were passing, many events had happened since Arceniy Matsievich was judged. And there was a strange wonder: all metropolitan’s predictions in court came true. First Gedeon died on the way suddenly, church of Three Saints, which was situated near Cross Chamber where Matsievich was judged, fell at that moment. Reverend Demetrius unexpectedly fell ill in his prime and glory: sudden temperature, swollen tongue. Doctors were caring for him from morning till night, because he was the most respectable person in the State and he really had strong influence in the empress’s court. Pills didn’t help Demetrius, tongue became thicker, there wasn’t place for it in the mouth, he gasped, his face was blue, and he couldn’t say a word as if he put a stone under the tongue.

       “The metropolitan warned…” – Demetrius croaked hardly and thickly, breathed frantically and died.

       Bad rumours were spread among people about Gavriil’s death. They told he had taken a fancy woman from lay brother who strangled him with a pillow in a fit of rage.

       “Your rival will strangle you for your Irodiada” – metropolitan’s prediction was retailed even in ten years.

       Misfortune waylaid Ambrose during the height of the plague, and it wouldn’t be so offensive if he died from illness. He sent many people to Barbaric gate because there were rumours that icon of the God’s Mother gave salvation. Lord Ambrose was an educated man and he understood danger of such crowds, he ordered to bring the icon to the church of Saint Cyrus and Ioann.

       “The lord takes money of God’s Mother!” – Somebody’s cry heated disturbed crowd.

       Revolted people rushed to Miracles monastery, looking for Ambrose everywhere, they didn’t find them and were disappointed. Smashing wine cellars, the rebels went to the Donskoy Monastery, because they heard that the lord was hidden there.

        Ambrose tried to break out of Moscow but it was already late. The lord communicated and hid in the loft. Stamping of feet and an unusual buzz in the temple, a vain attempt of a prior to persuade teased people; steps are heard on a stage of the loft. The curled up lord was praying below his breath, begging God to to forgive all sins, and betrayal of metropolitan Arceniy too.

       “He is here! Robber of Bogoliubsk Dame is here!” – chasing cried triumphantly almost over the head.

       Archbishop was caught and pulled down like a sack with potatoes, he was dragged by the feet, and the lord painfully hit his head on stage. At last he was pulled to the monastery courtyard, he got many kicks there. Some of them were beating with feet, others – with sticks, but Ambrose didn’t feel pain, as if it wasn’t his body and he didn’t pity it; incomprehensible suffocating bitterness burned through the soul instead of pain. And before insensibility he saw shine of knife in the hands of a man with wild bloodshot eyes, and there was a well-known voice from a distance, “Don’t step on that way, I beg you, Ambrose.”

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