Count Gregorius looked down at the girl. Although there was a slight chill breeze in the wine cellar of Grunburg castle, she showed nothing but pride and strength. If she felt cold then there was no sign of it and the flickering torchlight gave a warm glow to her skin.. On her head she wore a black fur colpack with gold cords, across her shoulder was draped a yellow woollen pelisse lined with grey fur and fastened by a gilt strap matching the lace button loops. Her yellow leather Hungarian style boots also had gold tassels. She slowly discarded the red military style short waistcoat which she wore when she had entered the room, and placed it on a stool. She wore nothing else except a remarkable gilt bracelet. The Count couldn’t help wondering what had become of her undershirt, or her dolman, and not least, her breeches. He glanced, for some kind of explanation, at two stern Grunburg Dragoons, the guards who had brought her into the wine cellar, but there was none forthcoming.
He walked slowly round her, admiring her Eastern beauty and pondering on the story of her capture. It was during the Prussian army’s pursuit of the Russians following Frederick’s rather doubtful victory at Zorndorf. She was cornered in an inn wearing what appeared to be the uniform of an officer of the Gruzinsky Hussars, but she had fought three of his Dragoons to a standstill until forced to surrender by overwhelming numbers. He realised such a combination of spirit and feminine charm could be put to good use in his long term ambition to become Elektor of Reikland. But first she had to be put through her paces.
“Who are you?” he demanded
“I am Countess Natasha Gruzinskaya”. The surly expression never left her face as she spoke in a rich Russian accent. “I know how fight - give me sabre!”.
“Why are you naked?” He could contain his curiosity no longer.
“Better to fight, of course!”
With a little trepidation he handed her the elegant oriental sabre which he had taken from a captured Croat officer in the Prague campaign. She handled the curved hilt and weighty blade with confidence, all the time staring at him with the contempt of a superior being for an underling. He summoned forward his fencing master, a Captain of Dragoons, who took up the en garde posture which gave the Countess little doubt that she was to be tested.
Gregorius could hardly bear the thought that her perfect skin might be pierced in this contest, yet her spirit had to be broken somehow........
|"I know how fight - give me sabre!"|
Natasha of the Gruzinsky Hussars, 1758
Acrylic on canvas 14" x 10"
NOTE Copyright - not to be copied elsewhere without my permission, CG
She entered the part so seriously that I had a bit of difficulty at first as she took on the discipline and austerity of the military persona as a kind of professional test. I was showing her the Napoleonic carbine and was putting it at half cock, ready to fire, when she grabbed it with the words “I know how shoot - my boyfriend was in Military”. This photo followed immediately afterwards