Upon hearing that he had been sent for by the Prince, his joy was unbounded, since he believed that he had been promoted to a higher rank. His disappointment may therefore be imagined when, on his arrival in camp, he was informed that he was to be measured with Potemkin's adjutant, and that he must then return without any other reward than the fatigue of the long journey.
It is called, 'The Disgraced Favorite, or the Whims of Fortune." Potemkin's eyes flashed fire, but he controlled himself, and said, "Where is the scene of the drama laid?" "I do not precisely remember. In Tartary, or Mongolia, or " "Or in the moon," interrupted Potemkin, laughing. "But come be seated, and let us be serious."
He accompanied her down the stream, looking with her on the show of prosperity and populousness which delighted her inexperienced eyes, and smiling covertly at the delusion which Potemkin's magic had raised, well assured that as soon as she had passed silence and desertion would succeed these busy scenes.
Yet, after all, this was only a small affair compared with other undertakings with which Potemkin sought to please her. Thus, after Taurida and the Crimea had been added to the empire by Potemkin's agency, Catharine set out with him to view her new possessions. A great fleet of magnificently decorated galleys bore her down the river Dnieper.
How much gold is there in it?" "Sixty thousand rubles, your highness." Potemkin's eyes sparkled. "A considerable sum," said he, stroking his mane. "I order two services of the same value. Do you hear? They must be ready on this day week." "And the payment?" Artankopf ventured to inquire. "I shall pay you in advance," replied Potemkin, with a laugh.
Then, as if the cup had been too troublesome to hold, he replaced it on the waiter, and ordered the page to pour the chocolate down. The page, apparently, was accustomed to the order, for he rose briskly from his knees, and approaching the cup to Potemkin's lips, allowed the chocolate to trickle slowly down his princely throat.
As usual, in their spare time, they lit bonfires, steamed themselves before them naked; smoked, picked out and baked sprouting rotten potatoes, told and listened to stories of Potemkin's and Suvorov's campaigns, or to legends of Alesha the Sly, or the priest's laborer Mikolka. The officers, as usual, lived in twos and threes in the roofless, half-ruined houses.
Nothing here was to be seen save a blank, white wall, which separated Potemkin's dwelling from the palace of the czarina. But in the corner of this wall was a scarcely perceptible recess. He pressed it with his finger, when the wall parted, revealing a door the door which led to Catharine's own private apartments.
Potemkin's key unlocked it, and he darted through the opening on, on, until he reached another door, which also yielded to his key; and then, breathing freely, he looked around the cabinet of the czarina, and exclaimed, "I am saved!" The magnificent state-apartments of the empress were silent and empty, for she had given out that she needed solitude to work, she would hold no levee to-day.
And the city grew, on the banks of the Dnieper, eighteen million rubles being granted by the empress for its cost, though much of this clung to the bird-lime of avarice on Potemkin's fingers. It was named Kherson. Another province, farther north, he named after his imperial mistress Ekatarinoslaf. And thus, by fraud and violence, a city to order was brought into existence. The stage was ready.