Alone in her chamber, Catherine caressed the milky ermine lining of her coronation robe. Peter was dead; she was finally free of the loathing which had poisoned her peace since her marriage.

She drifted in the afterglow of her latest lover’s attentions, lingering in a reverie of past and future – childhood memories merging with dreams of enlightenment, empire, power and progress.


Copyright – Sandra Crook

In the autumn evening chill, old Ivan, toiling homeward, pulled his threadbare cloak closer and paused in a forest clearing. He’d seen ermines there, in that old stump.

Time to prepare his winter traps. Those pelts would buy his freedom.


I’m venturing into historical fiction this week for my contribution to Friday Fictioneers, a weekly writing challenge, hosted by Rochelle Wisoff-Fields, where authors compose 100 word stories in response to a photo prompt.

I’ve wandered through many fascinating pages in my research for this story, and I’ve added a couple of little gems here. Please look at this tiny Huffington Post video. You’ll want to watch it again and again. If you’re interested in Catherine the Great, you might like to read about her here, and if you’d like to know about the role of the humble ermine in heraldry, here is where you’ll find more.


33 thoughts on “Ermine

    • Thank you for such supportive feedback, Patrick. I think the danger with doing historical stories is how easy it is to get sidetracked reading all the fascinating material you find.


    • I’m so happy about that. I did struggle with it – there was so much material available, and such interesting things. She was a fascinating woman, I think; but I suspect she had a rather large ego. Thanks for your encouragement.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Exactly. I’m happy you saw the connection. Catherine and her ilk seem to have been so out of touch with the lives of the ordinary population, not to mention the serfs.


  1. What a fascinating and compelling read, Margaret. You were able to incorporate so much history here in this short space. I definitely want to learn more about Catherine the Great. The picture of all those people working on the robe was really something. The little video of the ermine was too cute. It saddens me that they were killed for their coats for something so lavish. The “threadbare cloak’ of Ivan’s was a nice detail.


    • Such lovely feedback! Thank you, Amy. I wanted to use a less cliched adjective, but in the end gave up thinking about it and went with threadbare. The history behind the story is fascinating, and distracted me for hours while I was writing, and that video really got to me, too.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. From ‘Alone in her chamber’ I knew I was going to love it – and it didn’t disappoint.
    Almost fantasy (and Angela Crater territory) rather than reality – but then the truth about Catherine is pretty extreme.
    I love the jump between the two scenes and the way you reveal the connection.
    Interesting discussion about cliché – I think sometimes the obvious word sets up a resonance in the reader’s mind and is therefore the apt choice. Threadbare is also a story-telling, slightly archaic word – it helps place the action.
    Now I feel I’ve written almost 100 words myself! Good stuff basically.


    • Thank you for your ‘100 words’. I really appreciate such thoughtful commentary. The jump between the two characters and scenes was quite tricky – I had so much more in my mind to link them, but of course it’s impossible to include everything in the 100 words. I’m delighted that it worked. I’m interested in your views on words like ‘threadbare’ – setting up resonances and placing the action is what it’s all about, so I’m encouraged by your comments. I’m so glad you liked my story.

      Liked by 1 person

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