The proud lily is broken, shattered; she bows her head, the storm has crushed her. Incapable of resistance, she is seized by one of the executioners, who, by a sudden movement, throws her upon her back. Another then approaches and places her in the most convenient position for receiving the punishment. Soon, with rough brutality, he lays his broad hand upon her head, and places it so that it may not be hit by the knout, and then, like a butcher who is about to throttle a lamb, he caresses that snow-white back, as if taking pleasure in the contemplation of the wonderful fairness of his victim.
Now is she in the right position; he steps back, and raising the knout, brings it down upon Eleonore’s back with such accuracy that it takes off a strip of skin from her neck to her girdle. Then he swings the knout anew, with the same accuracy and the same result. In a few moments her skin hangs in shreds over her girdle, her whole form is dripping with blood, and the shuddering spectators venture not a single bravo for this dexterous executioner.
The work is finished! With a flayed back Eleonore is raised upon the shoulders of the executioner. She has not screamed, she has not moaned, she has remained dumb and without complaint, but she has prayed to God for vengeance and expiation for the shame inflicted upon her.
And again advances the executioner, with a pair of pincers in his hand. Eleonore looks at him through eyes flaming with anger.
“What would you?” she coldly asks.
“Tear out your tongue!” answers he, with a rude laugh. Two of the executioner’s assistants then seizing her, grasp her head.
This time Eleonore defends herself—despair lends her strength. Freeing herself from the grasp of these barbarous executioners, she falls upon her knees, and, raising her bloody arms toward heaven, implores the mercy of God: glancing at the spectators, she implores their pity and their aid; turning her eyes toward the proud imperial palace, where Elizabeth sits enthroned, she begs there for grace and mercy.
But as all remained silent, and as neither God nor man, nor yet the empress, had mercy upon her, a wild rage took possession of Eleonore’s soul.
Raising her eyes toward heaven with flaming glances, she exclaimed:
“Woe to this merciless Elizabeth! Woe to this woman who has no compassion for another woman! What she now does to me, do Thou also to her, my God and Lord! Grant that she be flayed as she has now flayed me! Grant her a daughter, and let that daughter before her mother’s eyes suffer what I now suffer, O my God! Woe to Elizabeth, and woe to you, ye cowardly slaves, who can look on and see a woman flayed and tortured! Shame and perdition to Russia and its Empress Elizabeth!”
These were Eleonore’s last words. With a wild rage her executioners seized her for the purpose of tearing out her tongue. And when that was accomplished, and her husband and son had suffered a similar martyrdom, all three were placed upon a kibitka, to be conveyed to Siberia.