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The Story Of Catherine
by [?]

Her first difficulty was with Peter himself. She could not offer terms of peace to the Turks until Peter gave her leave, and promised to fulfil whatever bargain she might make with them. She managed this part of the matter, and then set to work at the greater task of dealing with the Turks.

She knew that the Turkish army was under the command of the Grand Vizier, and she knew something of the ways of Grand Viziers. It was not worth while to send any kind of messenger to a Turkish commander without sending him also a bribe in the shape of a present, and Catherine was sure that the bribe must be a very large one to buy the peace she wanted. But where was she to get the present? There was no money in Peter’s army-chest, and no way of getting any from Russia. Catherine was not discouraged by that fact. She first got together all her own jewels, and then went to all the officers’ wives and asked each of them for whatever she had that was valuable–money, jewels, and plate. She gave each of them a receipt for what she took, and promised to pay them the value of their goods when she should get back to Moscow. She went in this way throughout the camp, and got together all the money, all the jewelry, and all the silver plate that were to be found in the army. No one person had much, of course; but when the things were collected together, they made a very rich present, or bribe, for the Grand Vizier.

With this for a beginning, Catherine soon convinced the Turkish commander that it was better to make peace with Russia than to run the risk of having to fight the great armies that were already marching towards Turkey. After some bargaining she secured a treaty which allowed Peter to go back to Russia in safety, and thus she saved the czar and the empire. A few years later Peter crowned her as Empress of Russia, and when he died he named her as the fittest person to be his successor on the throne.

Thus the peasant girl of Livonia, who was made a captive in war and a servant, rose by her genius and courage to be the sole ruler of a great empire–the first woman who ever reigned over Russia. It is a strange but true story.