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The Rise of an Empress-Part 7

Alexis Orlov and a group of horsemen arrived at Oranienbaum to escort Peter. A carriage, broken down and covered with dirt from years of neglect, was uncovered. It was decided by Alexis that it was only fitting that the former emperor return to Peterhof in such a shabby ride.

At their departure, Elizabeth flung herself into the carriage, refusing to leave her Peter. The deposed emperor welcomed his mistress with open arms.

A little after noon, the group arrived at the palace grounds of Peterhof. A sea of uniformed soldiers and curious onlookers crowded around the carriage, waiting to see the menace they once called their sovereign.

Alexis leaped from his horse to open the door of the carriage. Before he would let either Peter or Elizabeth leave the confinements of the vehicle, Alexis warned, “Do not say a word.” He did not provide a reason as to why.

Nonetheless, the moment that Peter was settled onto the ground he opened his mouth to speak. “Where is my wife? I want to see her,” he demanded.

A few people in the crowd snickered. A few shouted out japes and profanity. The others stayed silent, watching the scene play out.

Coming to Peter’s side, Alexis said, “I told you to say nothing. Keep your mouth shut or suffer the consequences.”

Looking into his captor’s murderous face, Peter nearly pissed himself. With slumped shoulders, he turned back to Elizabeth. “Goodbye, my love. I shall see you again when Catherine demands it.”

It would be the last time the two saw each other.

Alexis and his men led Peter into the palace steps. They took their charge up a narrow stairwell, reserved for servants, and into a tiny room. The door was slammed shut and locked.

“Remove your boots,” ordered Alexis.

“No. These are mine. It was a gift from-”

“Remove your boots or my men will strip them from your feet,” said Alexis, his calm voice chilling Peter to the bone.

Peter kept his mouth shut, realizing none of his demands or complaints would be adhered.

“Remove your ribbon of the Order of St. Andrew. Such an honor does not fit a coward.”

Peter tore the ribbon from his uniform, handing it to a nearby guard.

“Remove your sword. Lord knows you would poke an eye out with it.”

Peter forfeited his sword. Without the weapon, he felt naked. Unarmed and surrounded by threatening men, Peter began to tremble.

“Remove your uniform.”

Once the uniform of the Preobrazhensky Guards was stripped from his body, all semblance of an emperor or an honorable man was gone. In the place of a pompous ass was a craven, clad in nothing shirt and stockings.

A guard supplied Peter with a dressing gown and slippers. He immediately put it on. He understood his freedom was gone. He was a prisoner in the palace he once called home. Worst of all, he did not know how long he had to live.

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