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The Rise of an Empress-Part 8

After being stripped of all honors and comforts, it was clear that Peter would not go to Holstein with his mistress as Catherine had promised. If he were to return to Holstein, he would forever be a threat to her reign. A manipulator with an agenda against her could turn Peter into a puppet, rally people behind him, and cause a war. It was decided that he would be kept at Ropsha, a place in the countryside. Even there, he was a threat. A shadow to all her good fortune and all she could achieve.

At Ropsha, Alexis was made Peter’s chief jailer. Three other officers and one hundred soldiers were to safeguard the political prisoner.

Peter’s prison was a stone house that once belonged to Peter the Great. A lake was nearby and forestry surrounded the house. The scenery was picturesque, but Peter’s cell was hell.

He stayed in a room that only contained a bed. Curtains were drawn closed at all times, even during the day so that none of the soldiers could see the face of the man they guarded. Two soldiers stood outside the room at all times. Peter was not permitted to leave his tiny, spartan cell. Not even for a breath of fresh air.

Peter had much time on his hands. To make the hours passed, he wallowed in self-pity and recounted fond memories of moments spent with his mistress. He even wrote letters to Catherine, begging for mercy and his release. None were heeded.

After seven uneventful days, Peter was invited to dine with Alexis Orlov. In need of a distraction and time from his cell, he agreed.

He was led out into a dining room where other men sat at a large table. Peter took the seat offered to him. Although the meal was delicious, all the guests in the room were content with filling their bellies with alcohol. Even Peter drank heavily.

“When will we return to St. Petersburg?” asked one of the men.

“I have not an inkling!” shouted another.

Pointing to Peter, Alexis said, “It is this buffoon that keeps us here. While our comrades feast and celebrate Catherine’s victory, we are trapped in the middle of no where to keep him from escaping.”

Tipsy, Peter shouted, “If you had stayed loyal to me, you would be there! If you had not gone against your rightful emperor, you would be home! If your brother had not been rutting between my wife’s legs and whispering lies in her head, none of this would have happened!”

Alexis slammed his cup onto the table. He violently pushed his chair back. “How dare you slander the empress?”

Peter hiccuped. Tired of being bullied, he countered, “I can because it is true.”

Alexis pounded a fist against the table. “Lies! You speak lies! Catherine is a strong woman who deserved to the ruler of this country. Not some lunatic like you.”

“She is a foreign whore!” called Peter.

Alexis snapped. He abandoned his spot at the table and charged at Peter. Peter scampered out of his chair, shrieking all the way. Alexis knocked him to the ground and turned him onto his back. A blow came to Peter’s temple. A few more blows landed on his face.

The other dinner guests crowded around the scuffle, cheering for the Orlov brother. A few of the rowdier men left the room to retrieve a mattress.

One of Alexis’ fists must have hit his nose, for blood spewed from his nostrils. As Peter smeared the blood over his face in his attempts protect his face, Alexis abandoned hitting Peter. He favored kicking the coward in the stomach, like a cruel master beating a mutt.

The men who went to retrieve a mattress had returned. They told Alexis to step aside, leaving a beaten and battered Peter wriggling on the floor like a fish. The prisoner spat out blood and groaned in protest.

The men placed the mattress onto Peter and jumped onto it, Alexis included. They laughed and cheered as they heard Peter gasping for air.

Peter struggled out from the confinements of the mattress, despite the odds against him. He tried to flee the room, but Alexis was quickly on his heels.

Alexis grabbed Peter’s arm and slammed him to the ground. Someone handed him a scarf. Alexis took it and wrapped it around Peter’s neck. He tugged at the ends of the scarf with all his might until he heard his prisoner choking.

Peter clawed at Alexis’ hands, muttering unintelligible curses. The whites of his eyes could be seen, as if they were about to pop from his skull. After a few minutes, his face turned a deep blue, the color of a blueberry.

When Peter’s body grew limp, a smile crossed Alexis’ lips. They could all go home now.

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6 thoughts on “The Rise of an Empress-Part 8”

    1. Thanks! There is one last part to this short story. It will end with the star, Catherine the Great. As to the mistress, I think she saw Peter as more than a “meal ticket.” There must have been affection between the two.

    2. Just kidding about the meal ticket, Katherine. I think you’re right about Peter’s mistress being genuinely in love with him. I have been looking into those biographies of Catherine the Great that you mentioned. There are still a few remaindered copies of Rounding’s book available here in Canada so I will probably go that route

    3. Rounding’s biography on Catherine the Great is very useful. However, I preferred Massie’s “Catherine the Great: Portrait of a Woman.” His biography of her reads like a novel, even if it is nonfiction.

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