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    Mark Arbour
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Northern Exposure - 47. Chapter 47

March 23, 1801

St. Michael’s Castle

St. Petersburg, Russia


The only nice thing about residing in the Tsar’s palace was Granger’s room, which was large and ornate. It even had an anteroom which proved to be the perfect place for Jacobs and Winkler to lodge. Granger got up and strolled over to windows, where he could see Stroganov Palace in the distance. He stared longingly at that place where he’d found happiness. He refocused his attention back on the interior of his room. It looked like the kind of space that was reserved for visiting dignitaries with one glaring exception: his bed was fashioned in the shape of a coffin, as if it were an omen of what could happen to him. The bed was quite comfortable, with multiple layers of bedding, but its depth and the lid that shielded the lower half of his body made it seem quite menacing. Granger shrugged at the bed, deciding that the comfort was worth it.

While he may have been accommodated in the fashion of an important person, he was certainly not treated that way. If Granger made a request, the staff would smile and nod, and then do nothing. He had risked the Tsar’s ire by going to the banyas and decided to continue that activity as often as possible. His interactions with other courtiers were stunted, as they tried to tell Granger in the politest way possible that they simply did not want to be seen with him. Granger understood their reasoning and did not take it personally, as they were forced to rely on the mercurial Tsar for their place in society. With a wave of his hand the Tsar could banish someone, seize their estates, or send them off somewhere that would inevitably lead to their deaths. Granger was a virtual exile in this palace, and so he remained mostly in his room, writing letters and gazing out the windows, feeling as if he were a prisoner in a luxurious jail. Pavel had come to see him once, and while that had been both physically and emotionally satisfying, Granger had advised him not to return. The Stroganovs had opened their house and their family to him, and he was concerned that their generosity would be rewarded by the Tsar’s wrath.

The Tsar himself had not spoken to Granger since his hearing, and when he saw Granger around the palace his eyes narrowed in annoyance. Granger did his best to stay out of the man’s way. He had heard that Daventry had seemingly disappeared, and that had sparked the Tsar’s ire toward Daventry and, by extension, to Granger. Granger was beginning to wonder if that escape through Finland was still a viable option, and if it was something he should consider. He immediately dashed that idea and chided himself for mentally whining about living in conditions that were certainly not terrible. He decided that he was pampered and spoiled, and that when a little hardship happened, he looked for the easy way out. He spent the next hour mentally flagellating himself for being weak and buckling when things got a bit tough.

His introspection was interrupted when Winkler and Jacobs entered his room. Jacobs looked furious, while Winkler looked disheveled, and on closer inspection, Granger noticed that he had a black eye. “What happened to you?” Granger demanded.

“Had a bit of a fight with the palace staff, my lord,” Winkler said.

“Who did this?” Granger demanded. “I will go see the Palace Governor immediately!” He was willing to suffer himself, but he would not put Winkler in position to be abused.

“Shall I send a message to him, my lord?” Jacobs asked through clenched teeth.

“No,” Winkler stated firmly. “Begging your pardon, my lord, but it’s not that big of a deal. I’ve endured worse. If it’s all the same to you, I’d rather just stay in my alcove and attend to your needs as best I can.”

“I will not tolerate you being abused,” Granger said firmly.

“Based on the way we’ve been treated, my lord, I don’t think your remonstrances will change their ways, and in fact, they’d only take it out on us even worse,” Winkler said.

“Tomorrow you two will return to Stroganov Palace, where at least you will be safe,” Granger pronounced. He was surprised when Jacobs spoke up.

“My lord, we would rather stay here with you and ride things out than skulk off to someplace and hide,” Jacobs said. Granger smiled, then laughed, surprising both of them.

“I have just been beating myself up for contemplating an escape through Finland, chiding myself for even thinking of taking the easy way out,” Granger said. “It appears we are of like minds.”

“We are, my lord,” Winkler said.

“Then you two will stay here, provided this abuse does not continue or get worse,” Granger pronounced.

“How long will you have to be here, my lord?” Jacobs asked.

“Until the Tsar decides he doesn’t want me around,” Granger said.

“So you just have to be unpleasant enough for him to ship you out, my lord?” Winkler asked. “I would hazard a guess that should not be too difficult.”

Granger chuckled at his joke. “One would think.”

“What could you do that would make the Tsar want to get rid of you, my lord?” Jacobs asked. Granger thought about that, and as he did, an idea formed in his brain. He glanced at Winkler and he could read in his expression that he’d come to the same conclusion.

“The fever,” Granger said. “If I have a relapse and get the fever again, they will worry that it is contagious and will infect the Tsar.”

“But how will you get the fever, my lord?” Jacobs asked.

“I was forced to do this before, in Paris, to convince the Directory to release me on parole,” Granger said. “I did not catch the fever, but was able to conjure up symptoms, like a fever, and was able to fake the delirium.”

“What will we need to do, my lord?” Winkler asked. Granger thought of last time he’d done this, how he’d been fucked energetically by Eastwick to get his temperature up before the doctors had called on him. He actually giggled at that thought, then constrained himself when he got odd looks from Winkler and Jacobs.

“I will need to raise my body temperature before the doctor sees me,” he said. “I would imagine that wrapping myself up in winter clothes and then exercising frenetically in this room might do the trick.”

“Would help if it was warmer, my lord,” Jacobs grumbled. The staff was quite penurious with fuel for his fireplaces.

A scratch at the door interrupted their conversation. Jacobs walked over and opened it, ushering in a footman carrying a package. “This arrived for you, my lord,” he said in French.

“Thank you,” Granger said, taking the box from him. The man waited a bit, as if Granger was going to open it in front of him, then realizing that wasn’t going to happen, he bowed and took his leave. “Let us see who has sent me a gift.”

“It smells like food, my lord,” Jacobs said. He was right, as the box was emitting an odor that suggested it was bread or some sort of pastry. “Could be poisoned.”

“Then you will have to have some, too, so we all exit this palace at the same time,” Granger joked. He opened the box and found that it was indeed full of foodstuffs. Winkler got a tray and they removed the items. There were cakes, muffins, and various types of bread, along with jars that must have contained preserves to put on the bread. Granger was reluctant to eat any of the items until they could identify who they came from, and there was no note to show who the sender was.

Jacobs picked up a loaf of bread and inhaled its aroma, then paused. “My lord, it looks as if someone already tried to cut this open,” he said, alarmed. There was a slit from a knife in the side of the bread.

“Let me see it,” Granger said, and Jacobs handed him the loaf. Granger grabbed the tough crusty shell with both hands and twisted it until the loaf split open, and there, inside it, was a small note. Granger snatched it up and read it: “A distraction today would be useful.” It was written in English.

“What does it say, my lord?” Winkler asked. Granger handed him the note, and he passed it on to Jacobs. Granger was mulling the note even as he began to devour the bread.

“My lord, what if that bread is poisoned?” Jacobs asked with alarm.

“That is Lord Daventry’s handwriting,” Granger said. “He asked me for a distraction, and that works out perfectly with our plan. Nothing is more likely to upset things around here than a case of fever in their midst.”

“What must we do, my lord?” Winkler asked.

“We must first indulge ourselves and eat these pastries,” Granger said, making them chuckle. But food had not been plentiful here in the palace, at least for them, so they sated their appetites. By eating all the pastries and burning both the box and the note, they effectively eliminated any evidence than there had been a delivery.

“Well, my lord, if those pastries were poisoned, I fancy we’ll all die together,” Jacobs said.

“I do not know of anyone I would be more honored to face that fate with, although I am hoping we all have a bit longer to wait,” Granger joked.

“What will we do, my lord?” Winkler asked. It was humorous that he was being so task-oriented.

“Jacobs, I will need you to track down the Palace Governor. You should tell him that in addition to acting as my chief servant, Winkler is also my personal physician. Explain that I have had a relapse of the fever, and that I need quinine.” Granger could not help grimacing as he remembered the awful taste of that drug.

“I don’t speak French, my lord,” Jacobs objected.

“That is good. It will serve to confuse and alarm them,” Granger said with a smile. “While you are doing that, I will wrap myself in garments and race around this room until I am overheated.”

“That will be fun to watch, my lord,” Winkler said, chuckling.

“You will join me, which will make them worry that it is indeed contagious,” Granger said. “You should tell them, when they ask, that you don’t think so, but it is wise to quarantine anyone I have been in contact with for the past three days.”

“That would probably mean most of the court and the staff, my lord,” Jacobs mused.

“Indeed it should,” Granger said. “Daventry asked for a distraction, so we will give him one.”

“I’ll be off then,” Jacobs said, and strode from the room. Granger put on a coat, then his heavy winter coat, wrapped himself in scarves, and began to run back and forth in the room, until he ultimately decided it was easier to run in place. He got to the point where he was starting to feel lightheaded, so he and Winkler peeled off his garments. He continued to run, making sure he had broken a sweat, then slid into his coffin bed. The entire process took almost an hour. Granger lay in the bed, panting, with his heart racing, hoping Jacobs would return lest he had to do this entire thing all over again.

There was a scratch at the door and Jacobs entered, followed by a man who was wearing a ridiculous looking hood. It was obviously a plague mask, something that was probably more commonly used in medieval days. “My lord, this is the doctor,” Jacobs said.

The man came over and looked at Granger. “He has a fever?”

“He has the fever,” Winkler asserted firmly, acting as if he were indeed a doctor who knew of such things. “I’ve seen this happen to him before.”

“It is from the tropics?” the man asked with a gasp.

“It is,” Winkler said. Granger just moaned and writhed around.

“Are you not afraid that you will get it?” the doctor asked, completely panicked.

“I am confident I have immunity to it, although I am feeling a bit warm myself,” Winkler said. Granger had no idea he was such a good actor. “I would advise you to quarantine all of those who have been in contact with His Lordship over the past three days. I would suspect that the people here are quite unfamiliar with tropical diseases and would be likely to suffer more from them.”

“This is a disaster!” he proclaimed. “I will send you the quinine you requested, and the three of you will remain in this room. Food will be brought to you.”

“The staff here has been most disagreeable about that,” Winkler said, letting his annoyance show. “I am worried that if we are to rely on them, we will starve.”

“I will make sure they are more attentive,” he said. “You will bolt this door and open it to no one. They will leave food outside.”

“I’ll handle that,” Jacobs said. The doctor then left the room as quickly as possible.

“You were quite impressive,” Granger said to Winkler, then turned to Jacobs. “And you did a good job as well.”

“Now what will happen, my lord?” Jacobs asked.

“There will start to be rumors about this,” Granger said. “It will spread from the doctor to the Tsar’s advisors, and also to the staff. I would submit that within a few hours, those who are here, or reside here, will be desperately trying to figure out what to do. They will have a memory of the plague, and that is how they will ultimately visualize this. They will panic, and there will be confusion.”

“And what will we do, my lord?” Jacobs asked.

“We will stay safely hidden away in our room,” Granger said. He got out of bed and put on a robe.

“You mean we’ll just sit around, my lord?” Jacobs asked. He was ever active and being confined was tortuous for him.

“Not at all,” Granger said. “I will teach you two how to play whist.”

“Cards, my lord?” Winkler asked.

“Cards,” Granger said. They spent a goodly amount of time working through the basics. It was not easy to teach them to play whist, but they ultimately got the hang of it, although Granger hoped they would not try to play for money. There was a scratch at the door, then no other sound. Granger nodded to Jacobs, who got up and opened the door.

“Dinner, my lord,” he said, carrying a tray back. They studied the food.

“A bit better than last night,” Granger noted. “Evidently they have mercy on my feverish soul.”

“Evidently, my lord,” Winkler said. They ate well, and when they were done, Jacobs put their tray outside the room. It was dark now, and they didn’t have enough candlelight to play cards, so Granger took a candle and grabbed a book he’d borrowed from Alexei and sat in a chair next to the fire, which Jacobs stoked. It was a remarkably domestic and tranquil scene, which, if the noises they heard through the doors and the walls were any indication, was significantly different than what was going on outside.

They were interrupted by another scratch at the door. Jacobs went to the door, and assuming it was some sort of food or wood delivery, waited a few seconds to open it. When he did, Pavel came barging in, while Jacobs dutifully locked the door after him. “I was so worried for you,” he said to Granger, then paused. “You seem to be fine?”

“We will leave you alone, my lord,” Winker said, grinning slyly at Granger.

“I am fine,” Granger answered. “Join me.”

“You are here in your robe by the fire reading a book as if you did not have a care in the world, yet they said you had the fever,” Pavel said.

“And you were so worried about me that you came over to see me, and risked getting infected yourself,” Granger said lovingly. He stood up and held Pavel’s hands, then hugged him, and then they made love on the bearskin rug in front of the fireplace. When they were done, they lay there, covered by a blanket, smiling at each other.

“Why did you fake your illness?” Pavel asked.

“I am surrounded by hostile people, my staff is being assaulted, and I decided that perhaps an illness was a good excuse for the Tsar to send me somewhere else, perhaps even home,” Granger said honestly.

“He is so annoyed with you he is beside himself,” Pavel said, chuckling. “Even before this, I think he was probably trying to figure out how to get rid of you without creating an international incident.”

“I don’t understand,” Granger said.

“He had talked about exiling you to Moscow, but he was concerned you would cause trouble there. Then he was considering Siberia, or possibly even some other unpleasant place, but most of the Court suspects that is just an excuse to have you ultimately perish through some mysterious illness or accident,” Pavel said.

“Fleeing through Finland is starting to sound more attractive,” Granger grumbled.

“Panin explained to the Tsar that if he did that, if something nefarious happened to you, His Imperial Majesty would create considerable discontent with both Russian nobles and most foreign governments.”

“Why are these people and governments so concerned about me?” Granger asked, amazed. He had definitely made many Russian friends while here, and he had done so while avoiding making enemies, but those connections were hardly substantive enough to risk defying the Tsar.

“Unfortunately, their concern for you was not quite that genuine,” he said with a grin. “It is actually more concern about themselves.”

“I don’t understand,” Granger admitted.

“If the Tsar can have a famous foreign aristocrat killed, it sets a very bad precedent for what he could do to a rather common Russian noble,” Pavel explained. “And for foreign governments, it also sets a horrible precedent.”

“It is nice to know I have conveniently managed to land on the side of their self-interests,” Granger joked, even as he shook his head. He should have known there were no real altruistic motives in an Imperial Court.

“The German and Italian ambassadors find the situation particularly concerning, because if the Tsar has you executed and gets away with it, it all but gives Bonaparte carte blanche to do the same,” he said.

“I can see why that would concern them,” Granger agreed.

“Only now, you have created this new firestorm, and actually infected his palace, his servants, and maybe even him,” Pavel said. “When the dust settles, he will find a way to get rid of you. We will just have to hope it is a less horrible solution.”

“We can hope,” Granger said with dread, then changed the direction of their conversation. “I want you to know how much it means to me that you came to see me.”

“I think you would have done the same for me,” he said.

“I think you are right,” Granger said. He kissed him and they made love again, then Pavel left, being careful to slink out so no one would see him.

Winkler and Jacobs appeared shortly after he left. “That was right nice of him to call on you, my lord,” Winkler said, even as he picked up the blanket and looked at it in a disapproving way, seeing as it was covered with bodily fluids.

“It was,” Granger said. He picked up his book and continued reading. He may end up facing a firing squad, but for right now, he was content. Granger lost track of time, but sensed the chaos in the palace was getting worse, not better.

He was dozing off to sleep in his chair when a loud knock on the door brought him fully awake, and brought Jacobs hurrying toward the door. Knocking on doors in a palace was incredibly vulgar, so shocking that Granger wasn’t quite sure what to do. The knock was repeated more loudly, and then Granger heard Pavel’s voice. “Let me in!”

“Open the door,” Granger said. Jacobs did so and Pavel hurried in, followed by the Tsarevich. Jacobs bolted the door and did a relatively good job of bowing to the man, as did Winkler. Granger completed his genuflection in a more courtly way. “Your Imperial Highness, I am honored by your presence. I apologize for my appearance.”

“It is of no matter,” Alexander said. “I need your assistance.”

“What can I do?” Granger asked.

“I must leave so they do not find me here,” Pavel said. It was possible to hear the panic in his voice. Alexander nodded to him and he slunk out much as he had before, with Jacobs once again dutifully bolting the door behind him.

“The Guards are restless tonight,” he said, then swallowed. “They fear there is a coup in progress, and they are hunting for me. I would like it if you could help me hide in here.”

Granger recognized how hard this must be for such a proud man, to have to beg for protection, to have to sneak off in order to avoid capture and death. “I would be more than happy to do that. I am wondering how we could accomplish that?”

“Your highness,” Winkler said, forgetting the word ‘Imperial’ he was so nervous. “Will they search here for you?”

“Call me sir,” he said to Winkler with a smile. “I had thought rumors of fever would keep them out of here, but I am not sure that it will.”

“Then I have an idea, sir, begging your pardon, my lord,” Winkler said nervously.

“Go on, Winkler,” Granger said encouragingly. It was unfortunate that Jacobs could only see how nervous Winkler was, but could not understand what he was saying because he did not speak French.

“This bed they’ve given his lordship is quite deep,” Winkler said. “We could remove some of the bedding, and you could get in, then we could put enough in so it wasn’t uncomfortable.”

“And then where am I supposed to be?” Granger asked.

“On top of His Imperial Highness,” Winkler said, getting it right this time. “If we hurry, Jacobs can drill a couple of holes in the side to make sure you get enough air.”

“I think that may work,” Alexander said. He stripped off his clothes down to his pants and a shirt, then climbed into the coffin bed. While he’d been doing that, Jacobs had taken an awl and spiked a few holes in it, but that wouldn’t be enough. Instead, they used one of the trays to create an alcove for Alexander’s head, and then tried to leave space around the edges while putting Granger’s pillow on top of it.

“Now Your Lordship should get it,” Winkler said. “Let me have your robe.” Granger blanched at that briefly, since that would leave him naked, but Winkler was right in that he would have blankets, not a robe, if he truly had the fever. Granger heaved himself into the coffin bed and delicately balanced himself so as not to smash into Alexander.

“I must say this bed is a bit lumpier than I remembered,” Granger joked. “Are you comfortable sir?”

“It is not as bad as I thought, and I can breathe fine. I am fortunate that you are relatively light.” Granger chuckled at that. “Why did you pretend to have the fever?”

“My stay here has been most miserable,” Granger admitted. “I was hoping this would prompt His Imperial Majesty to move me elsewhere.”

“I think he may just move you to Siberia,” Alexander said.

“Where I will spend my days counting trees,” Granger mused, making Alexander chuckle.

“You have been in Russia long enough that you are beginning to use our sayings,” he said. There was a loud knock on the door, and that caused them to quit talking. Granger leaned forward to straighten out his blanket, and when he did, he inadvertently jammed his ass into the Tsarevich’s groin. Granger was horrified that he’d committed a major faux pas, since the man underneath him had stiffened and become motionless. Then Granger felt something entirely different. He felt something hard beginning to poke at him. Ever so gently, Alexander thrust up against Granger, and Granger responded by ever so gently pushing back. Gradually the pace and intensity of their thrusts increased to the point that it was both obvious and wildly erotic. Granger felt movement beneath him as Alexander used his hands to undo his pants and take out his cock, then he felt the Imperial member pushing against his hole. He was fortunate that Pavel had fucked him, because the remnants of his seed and the lanolin, along with a guiding hand from Granger, helped the Tsarevich slip smoothly into his hole.

“Ah,” Granger moaned involuntarily, even as he heard Alexander grunting beneath him as he pumped into Granger.

The knocking got louder, loud enough to distract Granger from the ecstasy he was feeling. Granger deduced the Tsarevich must be relatively well-endowed, and having such a big member thrust into him was sending tingles through his body. “My lord, should I open the door?” Jacobs said.

“We have no choice,” Granger said, managing to keep his voice even. As soon as the door opened, he let himself go, and began writhing and moaning in what an outsider would think was pain, but which Granger knew to be sheer bliss.

“The Tsarevich is in here,” a burly man said. “He was seen entering this room.”

“You should cover your face,” Winkler admonished. “You’ll catch the fever. He is in agony.” He gestured at Granger as he said that, and Granger moaned loudly.

“I must look for His Imperial Highness,” the man insisted, even as he put a scarf around his face. He looked both petrified and determined. He walked up to the bed and stared down at Granger, who reached out and grabbed his arm in a maniacal way.

“Help me!” Granger said, as he moaned, and just then he had his orgasm, ejaculating completely hidden under the lower lid of the coffin.

“Release me!” the man said, pulling his arm away and moving away from Granger. He hurriedly searched the room, looking behind drapes and the like, until he was satisfied. “If he does appear here, you will all end up in as much pain as that man,” the Guard told Winkler as he gestured toward Granger.

As Jacobs ushered him out and bolted the door behind him, Granger felt the Tsarevich stiffen and growl as he thrust into Granger so forcefully, he pushed Granger up and caused the lid to bounce noisily. Winkler giggled but quietly, so only Granger could hear, then he and Jacobs went to the alcove. “Sir, do you think they will return?” Granger asked.

“I think it is unlikely, but I am tempted to stay here anyway,” he said, and thrust into Granger once more, making Granger giggle.

“I would love to have you stay here as long as you want,” Granger said, and pushed back into him.

“I do not think they will return,” Alexander said much more seriously, which Granger took as his cue to push the lid off the coffin bed and to get out. He hastily grabbed his robe and put it on, while the Tsarevich climbed out after him, buttoning his pants up as he did. “They will have done a methodical search, moving through the palace like a rake through leaves, and so there is no need to backtrack.”

“That is good news, sir,” Granger said. Winkler reappeared and helped the Tsarevich get dressed.

“Sir, a minute with the brush and a razor would do you a world of good,” Winkler said.

“You are quite good at taking care of gentlemen,” the Tsarevich said, and he surrendered to Winkler’s ministrations. “But not quite as good as your master.”

Granger blushed, and Winkler chuckled.

Copyright © 2017 Mark Arbour; All Rights Reserved.
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The bed sounds truly strange but obviously big enough for two. omg!🤔

thanks Mark.

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Posted (edited)

Cool, 3 future heads (of State) and counting. Who is next? 😁

Edited by Sweetlion
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Also, Paul dies tomorrow so I am guessing these were loyal guards. The next Tsar will probably feel quite different about George 😊😁😍😜

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Oh my goodness! We are entering the world of pure farce. How delicious but also how apt for the absurd position in which Granger finds himself. I just hope there is a happy ending that is more literary than the sensuous events we enjoyed in this chapter. 

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On 4/12/2021 at 1:25 PM, spyke said:

Could we not love Winkler any more for coming up with this brilliant plan that not only kept the Tsarevich safe, but got Grainger a happy ending?  He's such a rascal!  Great chapter Mark. 

The answer is no, we can't love Winkler more. I think we forget that Winkler is smart, loyal, and brave. In this chapter, the strong bond between these three men, George Winkler, and Jacobs. Together they will be able to overcome almost any thing thrown at them. This is why we love this story so much. Any of them would risk their lives for the others. That Mr Arbour is truly awesome Sir

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I can feel Granger will be at see within two chapters.

Will Granger end up with Nelson at the Battle of Copenhagen? His winning the support of the new Tsar should be important, too.


Admiral Parker was in charge of the battle of Copenhagen. Admiral Nelson ignored his superior's order to disengage and lead the winning fight.

The phrase "turn a blind eye" came from this incident.



Nelson is said to have put his telescope up to his blind eye, turned in the direction of Parker’s flagship, and allegedly said:

“I have a right to be blind sometimes. I really do not see the signal.”
The military origin of ‘turning a blind eye’ to something

Nelson knew the battle would go his way, and even though some of his ships did obey the disengage order, most of the frigates did not. The battle began to turn heavily in favor of the British, with most of the Danish ships’ guns too heavily damaged to return fire. Denmark would be forced into an alliance with the British against Napoleonic France and received protection from Russia. For his actions, Nelson was made a viscount, and Parker was recalled to England, where he was stripped of his Baltic Sea command

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