The favor of the people must be won.
Catherine approached the pale, plump body of the deceased Empress Elizabeth put on display for a parade of mourners. She ignored the onlookers as she glided down the church’s main aisle to the body, crying hysterical tears with every step. She flung herself at the foot of the coffin, drowning herself in feigned sorrow.
As she listened to whispers of pity from the onlookers, Catherine knew her acting skills were not failing her. The church was her stage and she was the lead actress. The crocadile tears continued to fall to the grown. Catherine released a strangled cry, as if her sorrow was causing her physical pain.
How strange life is. My relationship with Elizabeth was tumultuous when she was alive. During her final years, we rarely shared common grown. I despised this woman, yet in death I need her to live.
One man approached Catherine and laid a comforting arm around her shoulder. “Hush, now. God will take care of her soul, for she has returned to Heaven. All shall be well.”
Catherine nodded, a tear slipping down a soft cheek. Inside, she was smiling. She was winning their sympathy, their empathy. If she continued to act this distraught for the duration of Elizabeth’s mourning, she might become a figure of endearment in the eyes of the Russians.
All this was needed to survive her husband, Peter, who was planning to wed his loathsome mistress, Elizabeth Vorontsova. According to those few on her side, Peter was planning to banish her into a nunnery and a life of obscurity. She would not take such treatment, not even from her estranged husband.
While Peter mocked the dead empress, Catherine shed a few tears. While Peter made faces at the coffin, Catherine wailed at Russia’s loss. While Peter laughed at the priests, Catherine whispered prayers for Elizabeth. While Peter was alienated and given disapproving stares, Catherine was comforted by all those nearby. Her plan was working.
He will not be rid of me so easily.