A Dangerous Climate (Saint-Germain #22)

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05.03.2019

For five days the winds had howled over the marshes along the River Neva, bringing more snow and a cold so intense that even the wolves kept to their dens, and the deer remained huddled in their thickets, now nothing more than rounded drifts in the snow. Throughout Sankt Piterburkh, the residents took the example of the animals and stayed in their houses and barracks; work-gangs were crowded into half-finished buildings in order to provide them some protection from the savage storm while they continued their labors. By the evening of the fifth day, the winds were dying down at last, and the leaden clouds were beginning to break up.

"They say the English ship, the Dauntless, moored in the mouth of the river has broken apart-crushed by shifting ice," said Hroger in Imperial Latin as he strove to pack the old red-lacquer chest with things they would need on the road.

"The Koenigen Frika may meet the same fate, according to the sailor with the broken leg; all the crew is afraid for their ship," said Saint-Germain, taking stock of the various pots, jars, and vials set out on his trestle-table. "Leave as much of this as you judge we can spare. They will have more need of it here than we will traveling." He was in his burgundy leather riding coat and leather britches, with a warm woolen chemise beneath; his high boots had a turned cuff just below his knee, and he wore a knit-cap on his recently trimmed head.

"The salves and tinctures could be useful," said Hroger, pointing out the ones he thought would be most in demand. "And your sovereign remedy."

"Not that we will benefit from the medicaments," Saint-Germain said calmly.

"The horses might," Hroger observed, selecting rolled lengths of linen. "This old chest, then two for clothes and bedding, and one containing your native earth. That will fill two pack-saddles. We also have the tent we brought from Poland, and the coverings for grain for the horses; the grain can be divided up into sacks and carried on all the saddles, riding and pack. That is the smallest amount that we can take with us from here and be safe."

"Two pack-saddles, then, and shearling blankets for all." Saint-Germain considered. "We have sufficient in the tack and supplies we brought with us."

"For how many horses?" Hroger asked. "Have you worked that out yet?"

"We will need twelve of them, I think," said Saint-Germain. "Three for riding, three for remount, three for packs, and three for reserve."

"That would take most of what is in the Polish stable," said Hroger.

Saint-Germain hesitated, then told him in Frankish, "I have spoken with Zozia, and she has agreed to let us have her pair of Danish Ardennes as pack animals; I have given her my chestnuts in exchange, and the carriage she is so fond of. She is pleased with the arrangement, and that will make our leaving easier, since it will not make it seem that my departure indicates a formal separation from Arco-Tolvay." He indicated his shelf of books. "These will have to stay. There is no way we can take them with us, not traveling as lightly as we must."

"Madame Svarinskaya will be glad of them, and Heer van Hoek," said Hroger with extreme neutrality, his Frankish almost too precise.

"So I hope," said Saint-Germain. "She has been very good to me. So has van Hoek, for that matter."

"How much have you explained to her-to Madame Svarinskaya?" Hroger asked, deliberately bluntly.

"As much as has been needed," he said, a tinge of ruefulness in his admission. "We have lain together only four times. If she wishes to lie with me one more time, she will still be free from the taint of my blood."

"Do you think you should tell her, so she'll understand your nature?" Hroger paused in his sorting to give Saint-Germain his full attention.

"I know it would distress her to learn what I am, and it would cause her much anxiety for no useful reason, fearing that she had been contaminated by my-" He stared at the shuttered window. "It troubles her that I am an alchemist; she would be appalled to learn what else I am."

"Do you think she will lie with you again, at least?" Hroger went on without waiting for Saint-Germain's answer. "We will be on the road a long time, and the blood of game and horses may not be enough to sustain you."

"We have had harder journeys," said Saint-Germain.

"Yes, we have," said Hroger. "But none of them are things to aspire to, are they?"

Saint-Germain gave a single, sad laugh. "No, old friend, they are not." He mused for the greater part of a minute. "Is Niklos expected back shortly?"

"I suppose so," said Hroger. "Captain Fet said he wants only to resolve a few questions about Lajos Rakoczi, though what they might be, I cannot guess." He made a sharp gesture of exasperation. "Why should they have more questions to ask? What more is there to say? The man is gone, and we have no idea where. He has my note and my report, and yours, so what more can he learn from Niklos? And you have assured the Captain that you will call on him shortly."

"It is a bit disturbing that the Guards continue to question him," Saint-Germain said. "How many times can he say that he knows nothing?"

"I hope they will not torture him for answers," said Hroger.

"Fet is more likely to want to torture me than Niklos," said Saint-Germain. "Since I informed … myself of the problem, I am more suspect in Fet's eyes. If Rakoczi were here, we would probably both be beaten."

"To what purpose? Why should Lajos Rakoczi tell us anything more than what he told everyone else?" Hroger asked.

"Why indeed," Saint-Germain agreed.

"The man was prepared to fight a duel with Niklos," said Hroger. "That makes his posture unfavorable toward Niklos, and you."

"I hope his disappearance does not remain tied to us. The Guards still seem to think we might be connected to his disappearance, although they have only gossip on which to base their suspicions." Saint-Germain gave the clock a quick look, then lifted his head. "If Niklos has not returned within the hour, I will set out for the Guards' station to discover why they continue to hold him for questioning."

"That sounds reasonable." Hroger began to stack those unguents, lotions, tinctures, and salves that would not be necessary on their travels. "Pansy-and-willow-bark: what do you think? Do we leave it or take it?"

"It is helpful against fever and pain. None of the three of us can contract a fever, and our pain cannot be relieved with nostrums, so unless you want some for the horses, we can leave all behind." Saint-Germain looked around the room. "Blankets for us as well as the animals, and it would be wise to seal our boots with goose-grease."

"I'll take care of it," said Hroger. "And I'll arrange for a haunch or two of venison for Niklos and me. The meat has been preserved by being buried in the snow, but he and I will have to eat it quickly, for such meat goes off quite rapidly."

"You two can live on fresh raw meat; sometimes I believe you are more fortunate than I." He pulled his black chamber-robe more tightly around him.

"You need living blood to nourish you; I know." Hroger put down a dozen maps rolled into a long leather tube. "We'll want these, and a compass to keep us aligned."

"So we will." Saint-Germain looked up, and saw Ludmilla standing in the door; immediately he switched from Frankish to Russian. "Ludmilla Borisevna; I am honored to receive you tonight."

"Is it true that you're leaving in the morning?" she asked without prelude.

"I am; Poteshnye Menshikov has ordered it, and while the Czar is away in the Ukraine, strengthening his ties to Mazepa, anticipating another confrontation with Karl and the Swedes, Menshikov has almost unlimited authority here, and we are bound to obey him." Saint-Germain went to her and escorted her into the room. "I regret that I will not be able to continue your lessons."

"Heer van Hoek has said he will try to tutor me as often as he is able," said Ludmilla, a bit distantly; she sat down in Saint-Germain's chair, and patted its upholstered arms. "Will you take this with you?"

"No," said Saint-Germain. "It is yours, if you would like to have it."

She smiled at him. "You are very kind, Hercegek." She turned toward Hroger. "I hope your journey is safe; you will be much-missed here."

"Most gracious of you to say so, Madame Svarinskaya." Hroger continued with his work for a few minutes while Saint-Germain and Ludmilla occupied the time reading through a few pages of one of the books from Eclipse Press that would be left at the care-house; he said, "I have to go fetch the traveling trunk from the Polish house stable. I'll return in half an hour or so." With that he bowed to the two of them and left the room.

"Most accommodating of him," Ludmilla said, her smile quick and broad.

"You shouldn't be surprised that he would do this, since he knows privacy is in short supply here." Saint-Germain bent to kiss her, relishing the mollescence of her lips.

"This care-house or Sankt Piterburkh?" she asked as lightly as she could.

His answer was utterly sincere. "It is hard to take my leave of you, Ludmilla Borisevna." He touched her face with a kind of reverence.

There was a sadness in her eyes as she moved away from him. "Hroger will return in a short while. There isn't enough time for us to take our pleasure of one another, and almost everyone in the house is awake. This is too risky."

He nodded. "It is. But it may be the last chance we have, if you are willing to share your passion with me one last time."

"Then tonight, when I've done my first rounds, I'll come to you." Her face shone with anticipation and she reached out to touch his hand. "You have such beautiful hands. I never thought much about the beauty of hands until I met you, but now I think you have-" She picked up his hand and brought it to her lips. "You've given me much joy. I'll never forget it." Silently she began to weep.

He reached for his handkerchief and gave it to her. "You need not cry on my account," he said gently.

"I'm not," she said, and sniffed. "I'm crying on mine."

Saint-Germain half-sat on the arm of the chair, and drew her close to him. "Tonight I will do all I can to ease your grief."

"And make it that much sharper when you are gone," she said with a mournful attempt at a laugh. "But I'll be glad of your attentions and all that you may give me; everything you have offered me thus far has gratified me in many ways. You have done more to bring me pleasure than any man I have ever known, and I will treasure having known you until I'm an old woman, sitting by the fire, toothless and dreaming." She shook herself, and continued more brightly, "My family is quite long-lived. I may reach sixty-five, or seventy; my father is sixty-one and still hale. I'll have many years to remember you and all you have done for me."

"Do you think you will ever return to your father's house?" Saint-Germain asked.

"Why do you ask?" She studied him with sharpened interest.

"It is my curiosity: I return to my father's lands, from time to time, though my father is long dead." His father had died more than thirty-seven centuries ago, but he kept this last to himself. "There is a closeness to my native earth; I thought you might feel something similar."

"It's my father's land, not mine, and his house," she said with a touch of acerbity.

"And you do not think it will ever be yours," he said, understanding her response.

"I have brothers, and I'm still married, little as Daniela seems to remember it." She shrugged. "This will become my native earth, this care-house, and its legacy will be my legacy." Her eyes grew keener. "That is my reason for caring for the men who come here, to have a legacy of some value. Van Hoek has been engaged by the Czar and promised a school where he may teach anatomy; it will be built within the decade, according to Piotyr Alexeievich's plan, so it suits him to care for these men, in that it keeps the Czar mindful of his promise while building a reputation in this city. But why do you bother with these patients? What does it benefit you?"

He contemplated her questions, and finally said, "When I was much younger than I am now, I cared little for the suffering of others, and rarely extended myself on any account but my own." He had a miserable memory of an ancient battlefield through which he moved, seeking for those few living men on whom he might slake his thirst; his captors had considered him a demon, and feared him more than they dreaded their enemies. "In time I realized that every time I ignored the misery of others-particularly if it was misery I could alleviate but did not-that I … died a little. So when I care for patients here, or anywhere; when I extend my hand to those in need, I do it as much for myself as for them. It restores my humanity."

"And what we have done together, what does that do?"

This time he took longer to answer. "When we have lain together, something more than our skins have touched. It is that other touching that makes the loneliness bearable." He touched her shoulder. "So you see, the joy you say I have given you, I have experienced through you-it is the greatest gift I can know."

"Then I am doubly glad you have come to this house." With a sudden movement, she moved away from him and rose to her feet. "And speaking of this house, I have duties that need my attention."

"You need not leave if you would rather not," he said.

She gave him back his handkerchief. "I'll come around midnight, for our farewell, when the chances of interruption are fewer than they are now. You have much to do, and so do I."

He rose and offered her a bow. "You are an excellent woman, Ludmilla Svarinskaya. You deserve the high opinion of all Sankt Piterburkh."

"In your eyes, perhaps." She turned to leave, but hesitated. "You will be remaining here or going out this afternoon?"

"I am planning to go to the Guard Station of the Foreign Quarter in a while. Grofok Saint-Germain is there, and I have to inform Captain Fet of the hour of our departure tomorrow, if the weather remains clear, of course. I have to present my disposition of goods, for the Archive."

"It will remain clear," she said with complete certainty. "And it should stay clear for three days. That is the pattern here, according to the Karelians, and they should know this place best." She opened the door. "Until midnight, Hercegek."

"Until tonight, Madame," he responded as she left the room; he heard her descend the stairs, and felt relieved that he had told her as much as he did. He spent the next ten minutes finishing packing the red-lacquer chest, then he went to his trestle-table and opened the drawer that held his paper and writing implements; he selected a quill, trimmed it, sanded a sheet of paper, and started to write. When he was through, he went to his strong-box and counted out eighty gold Emperors and thirty silver Angels, all of which he put into a leather pouch, then tied it closed and slipped it into his large pocket. He went out of his quarters and down the stairs, pausing to take his wolf-skin cloak off its peg before he left the care-house.

"Is there anything I can do to help you, Hercegek?" Kyril asked as he came up to Saint-Germain.

"I am going to the Guard Station for the Foreign Quarter to fetch Grofok Saint-Germain," he said. "I also have a letter to deliver concerning the disposition of the goods we will leave behind, and a year's endowment for the care-house."

"That will please Heer van Hoek and Ludmilla Borisevna greatly," said Kyril, taking a step back from him. "When will you return?"

"An hour at most, I would expect," said Saint-Germain.

"And you will leave tomorrow?" His voice was unusually emotional. "The patients here will be sorry to see you go."

"We must be gone before sunrise. Menshikov wants us on our way by eight o'clock." He watched him, his dark eyes enigmatic. "I am sorry to have to leave, but-"

"If Menshikov says it, it is the same as the Czar saying it; you have to depart." As if this was all he could bring himself to express, Kyril stepped back from the door, making way for Saint-Germain to step out into the cold, cold night. The street was so swaddled in snow its location was apparent only by the houses that lined it; as Saint-Germain made his way toward the Guard Station, he looked up at the tattered clouds sailing under a starry sky, and thought of the orders for the morning. Low-lying fog was gathering on the ice-bound Neva, and the first of its tendrils was slipping into the city, snaking among the buildings, and concealing more than the snow did, although it rose only to waist-height, no more than two hands above the snow; Saint-Germain was more careful walking, unable to make out hidden dangers beneath the mist and drifts. He was half-way to the Guard Station when he became aware of someone behind him. Knowing it was folly to try to run in thigh-deep snow, he stopped and turned. "Who's there?"

"It's Hroger, my master," came the answer in Visigothic Spanish. "I'm going back to the care-house. I saw you and decided to have a word with you-privately, where no one will overhear us."

"For what reason?" Saint-Germain asked; he knew Hroger well enough to intuit that it was something that could prove difficult for them both.

Hroger pointed to a dark object lying in the snow. "The traveling trunk. When I went to get it from the stable, the Ksiezna's brother saw me and pulled me aside at the rear of the house."

"Why would he do that?" Saint-Germain asked, as much to himself as to Hroger.

Hroger gave a derisive snort. "He was not cordial in his manner, but instead took a tone that I would suppose he is inclined to use with inferiors and enemies. He accused you of having ordered Lajos Rakoczi killed, and of arranging to have the murder concealed, for which crime Stanislas of Poland would consent with the Czar in your execution, should your crime ever be revealed. He told me that if you contradicted any of this, he would accuse you publicly of all your malefactions." He waded back toward the trunk. "He has this warning for you: if you wish to avoid scandal and disgrace, you are to leave as you have been ordered to do, and not return. If you decide to come back to Sankt Piterburkh while the Ksiezna is still in the city, he will denounce you as an impostor and an abuser of his sister." He hefted the trunk and stared back toward the Polish house. "He said that your life would be forfeit if you returned."

"Another of his threats," said Saint-Germain, startled that Benedykt was being so persistent. "What will he do, I wonder, if the real Arpad Arco-Tolvay should return? Then it is the brother who would be in a most awkward position."

"So would his sister be," said Hroger. "I'll see this is packed and readied for the morning; don't worry: I'll say nothing about any of this to anyone, not even Niklos." He stepped into Saint-Germain's tracks in the snow. "You'll bring Niklos back with you from the Guard Station?"

"That is my intention. Thank you for your discretion."

"I've been wondering why Benedykt chose me to bear the message instead of addressing you himself," said Hroger, continuing on in the rutted snow.

"He probably wanted to frighten you as much as he wants to frighten me." Saint-Germain offered a half-bow to Hroger. "Is it possible that Benedykt bribed Lajos Rakoczi to leave as a way to force me to go, or is that too extreme?" He did not expect an answer. "Fet is waiting," he remarked; he watched Hroger lug the chest back toward the care-house, lingering until Hroger knocked on the door before he resumed his walk to the Guard Station, all the while puzzling on what Hroger had told him. As he reached the Guard Station, he saw the station door flung open and heard one of the Guards shout to him to hurry out of the cold.

"Captain Fet will see you, along with Grofok Saint-Germain, to conclude the questioning that must be done." The Guard was a young man, not more than twenty, and he had a high opinion of his own importance, which he showed in the very slight bow he offered to Saint-Germain as he stepped over the threshold into the main room of the station. "Hercegek Gyor. Captain Fet is expecting you. The second door on the left."

"Thank you," said Saint-Germain as he removed his cloak and straightened his simple neck-bands. He found Captain Fet behind a square writing-table with two oil-lamps burning on it, casting their yellow light on the stack of papers laid out before him. His uniform was a bit untidy, but his posture was imposing; he looked up as Saint-Germain came into the room. "Captain," he said, making an elegant bow. "May God send you good evening."

"Amen to that," said Fet, and nodded to Niklos, who sat in a chair against the wall, very refined in black velvet and white silk. "Grofok Saint-Germain and I were just reviewing the terms of his recognition of claims along with his permit of residency, which expires in the morning." He gave Saint-Germain a piercing look.

"As does my own," said Saint-Germain. "I've come to deliver an official letter to you concerning my belongings." He reached into the pocket of his elk-leather coat and brought out the letter he had written less than an hour ago. "This details my wishes and records the various arrangements that Ksiezna Nisko and I have arrived upon regarding horses and furniture." He handed the letter to Fet. "You will need to present this to Jeremye Kristostomovich Belayov for the Archive of the Foreign Quarter. I have made a copy of it, which is at the care-house. I will entrust it to Heer van Hoek, to ensure that it is honored."

"Do you mean that you believe your letter would be altered?" Fet demanded, greatly offended. "Hercegek, you have no cause to make such an accusation."

"No; but I know how easily how such items may be lost. This way, if the letter is mislaid, its contents may still be known." Saint-Germain inclined his head and waited for half a minute while Fet made up his mind whether to continue to be outraged or to accept Saint-Germain's assurance. "I rely upon you to attend to this for me." And saying that, he dropped two gold Emperors on Fet's writing-table.

Fet stared at the coins, then quickly snatched them up. "Of course; I will attend to it as soon as I have been informed that you have left Sankt Piterburkh."

"Most gracious," Saint-Germain murmured. "Now, if there is nothing more, the Grofok and I have much to do before tomorrow morning. If you would be kind enough to permit us to take our leave of you?"

"There is one more thing," said Fet with a self-effacing half-bow. "If you wouldn't mind clearing up another few matters."

Saint-Germain concealed his niggle of alarm. "What do you want to know?"

"It's the death of the former Watchman-Yrjo Saari? He worked for you, didn't he?" Fet shifted his papers on the writing-table. "The report here says that you have been supporting him since he was injured."

"That is correct. I was very much shocked at his murder." He paused, thinking back to the sight of his body. "It was a vicious killing."

"A vicious killing," Fet repeated. "One committed in a ruthless fashion. The Ksiaze Radom has declared that it was the work of a mad-man."

"I would not disagree with my wife's brother, but if the killer were a mad-man, he would have to be a very subtle one, who planned Saari's death down to the minute." Saint-Germain thought for a few seconds, then said, "Consider how little time the killer had to act: the Grofok and I had entered the care-house and dispatched Saari with the sleigh. Whoever attacked him had to do it in those ten minutes between the time the Grofok and I alighted, and the time the sleigh went into the stable. All without being seen by anyone but Saari. The killer must have been known to Saari, because there was no sign of a struggle, nor did Saari attempt to escape his murderer."

"You have given this much thought," said Fet, a look of concentration coming over his countenance.

"Certainly; Saari was in my employ and he was killed while looking after my property. I am obliged to try to bring his killer to justice." This was an explanation the Russian would want to comprehend. "At the least I need to acquaint myself with the details of the crime."

"Why would you do such a thing, Hercegek? You won't be here if we apprehend the man who killed him." Fet waved his hand over the papers on his table as if to cause them to vanish. "You won't have to deal with his murderer, and you've already paid for Saari to be buried after the thaw. All the rest is to be left to us."

Once again Saint-Germain took a little time to respond. "What else do you need to know from me, then, Captain Fet?"

"Your coachman, Gronigen? The man who found him? Might he not also have killed him, and then reported that he discovered the dead man?" He proposed this theory with the assertion of one convinced of its correctness.

"Gronigen had one patch of blood on his cloak; had he been the killer, he would have been awash in it. All you have to do is look at the interior of the sleigh to see that the killer must have been soaked in it." He contemplated Fet. "There was no blood on Gronigen's face, either."

"But is this proof that he is innocent?" Fet asked. "Ksiaze Radom was most convincing when he proposed Gronigen as the killer."

"No doubt," said Saint-Germain drily. "If he can explain how one man may cut another man's throat in an enclosed vehicle and have only one patch of blood on him, I would like to hear it."

Fet nodded slowly. "Well, it bears investigation." He pressed his lips together, clearly pondering what Saint-Germain had said. "Were Ksiaze Radom and the coachman Gronigen Russians, they would be tortured to discover the truth, but as they are not-"

"Tortured? Accused and accuser?" Niklos asked, knowing the answer.

"Yes, of course. How else can you determine if the accusation is a valid one?" He rose. "I will not keep you, Hercegek, or the Grofok. May you have a safe, swift journey."

Niklos joined Saint-Germain in front of Fet's writing-table. "Thank you, Captain Fet."

"Go away. Leave by eight o'clock tomorrow." He nodded a little bow. "Good-bye."

Saint-Germain returned the bow and left the room, Niklos on his heels. No one stopped them when they donned their cloaks, and no one kept them from leaving the Guard Station. They walked as quickly as the deep snow would allow, saying nothing, bound for the care-house.

Not far from their goal, Saint-Germain stopped, turned, and looked back at Sankt Piterburkh; with the mist masking the snow, the buildings and walls appeared to float on a layer of clouds, a vision or a dream. "It looks unreal, does it not?" he said to Niklos.

"A fantasy, at the least," said Niklos. "Like that Russian story Kyril was telling two nights ago-the one about the invisible city that can only be seen on certain nights when it rises out of a lake."

"Kitezh," said Saint-Germain. "Yes, you are right-it is like Kitezh." Then he turned around and resumed his walk back to the care-house, and his last night with Ludmilla.

Text of a letter from Piotyr Alexeievich Romanov, written in Dutch and sent by Royal Courier through Klaus Demetrius Krems to the man calling himself Arpad Arco-Tolvay, Hercegek Gyor, and delivered three months after it was written.

To the man known as Arpad Arco-Tolvay, Hercegek Gyor, the greetings of Piotyr Alexeievich Romanov, Czar of all the Russias.

Min Heer Hercegek, whoever you may be,

I am sorry I did not have the pleasure of seeing you before you departed Sankt Piterburkh, but circumstances have kept me away from my wonderful new city, and they continue to engage my time and efforts. I would have liked the opportunity to thank you for what you have done to benefit all those living in Sankt Piterburkh, for I have received most praiseworthy accounts of you from my man at the care-house, Kyril Yureivich Bolkov, who has described all you have done to assist Heer van Hoek in his work, and to ease the burdens taken on by Ludmilla Borisevna Svarinskaya. As much as it would give me pleasure to honor you more publicly, this must be the sum of the expression of my gratitude.

I wish I had learned who you are, but that, too, will be denied me. I know you are not Arpad Arco-Tolvay, for in my tour of Europe, I happened to meet him once, in a brothel in Saxony. The man was then suffering from a degenerative condition of the genitals, and the owner of the brothel would not allow him to take his pleasure with any of the women in the house, which displeased him greatly. He was a tall man, though not nearly as tall as I am, of a mercurial temperament and a sickly disposition. When I was first informed that he would accompany his wife to my city, I was shocked that Augustus would do such an ill-considered thing. As soon as I met you, I realized that Augustus had arranged for a substitute for Hercegek Gyor, and aside from the general impropriety of his act, I applauded his decision to find a way to engage the Ksiezna's many skills without having to create a potential disgrace through her reprobate husband. Still, it would please me to know your identity.

There is something I must ask you in regard to your mission here: do not ever speak of it. If you can, forget it happened, and that you were ever here. Do not reveal your knowledge of this place, or any of its inhabitants, particularly those of the Foreign Quarter. If your impersonation is to be truly successful, it must continue unchallenged and undoubted, which means there must never be the slightest whisper that you are not who you claimed to be. You have done much to ease the Ksiezna's duties; in fact, your support of her was greater and more successful than the efforts of her brother, who is determined to show that his capacity for diplomacy is greater than hers, and at every step reveals that he is the one who is incapable of true diplomacy. By remaining in her shadow, and by not interfering in her negotiations, you were far more useful to her than the Ksiaze has proven to be.

I will assume that I will not see you again, and so this will serve as a farewell between us. May you have many rewards for all you have done for Poland, since it is obvious that you are not Polish yourself. I am willing to believe you are Hungarian, one of the older blood-lines, but Hungary will not thank you for aiding Poland in Russia, and Stanislas may not wish to honor the works of Augustus. May my thanks content you.

In deepest appreciation,

Piotyr Alexeievich Romanov

shipwright and Czar

March 24th, 1705