Sophie Maria Josephine Albina, Grafin (Countess) Chotek von Chotkowa und Wognin, duchess of Hohenberg, heard General Potoriek shout to the driver of their automobile in annoyance, "Stop! Turn around, you're going the wrong way!" She glanced quickly at her husband, Archduke Franz Ferdinand, to make sure he wouldn't explode again as he had earlier that morning when he lit into the unfortunate Mayor of Sarajevo about the bombing attacks that the imperial couple had been pelted with in the course of their motorcade.
Franz Ferdinand blew a half-irritated sigh out, glanced back at his wife, and smiled slightly. Sophie smiled back, relaxed and sat back in the luxurious leather seat, absently smoothing the long white kid gloves delicately encasing her hands.
She knew that her husband was upset and worried that the long-planned treat he had arranged for their fourteenth wedding anniversary - that she should accompany him as an equal partner on the summer maneuvers of the Austro-Hungarian Army in Bosnia, evading for once the infuriating, ever-present straitjacket of protocol which dictated that the "lower-born" Sophie should always take a distinctly inferior place to her husband, going so far as to force her to enter buildings at separate points from Franz Ferdinand at formal events, and banning their children from the line of succession to the throne - would be spoiled by the political unrest.
As far as she was concerned, her Franzi was worrying about nothing; bombs or not, she was having a lovely time, and everyone from Potoriek on down had been wonderfully gracious to her, and she glowed inside, thinking of how much her husband adored her. The driver stopped the car, then made a half-circle turn so that they were facing the opposite direction. Sophie was now on the side of the car closest to the sidewalk. Suddenly, there was a stir in the crowd lining the Appel Quay to watch the heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne pass by.
Sophie, noticing the disturbance out of the corner of her eye, looked over to her right. A young man with fiery eyes pushed his way through the throng, pulling something out of his jacket.
_*Another* bomb_? Sophie thought, dismayed.
She turned once again to her husband, intending to warn him. A noise somewhere between a pop and a crack rang out. Franz Ferdinand jerked a bit but otherwise remained seemingly unaffected, sitting straight in his seat and affecting not to notice that anything was wrong. Sophie, deciding to follow his example, turned around as another popping noise echoed. Something jabbed her briefly in her lower right side, but Sophie thought it was the point of her parasol.
As she looked over toward the disturbance again, she saw the young man being set upon by policemen, soldiers and ordinary citizens.
The open-topped car got on its way again. Sophie turned again to her husband, intending to make a quip about excitable Bosnians, but the joke never passed her lips. As she gaped in unbelieving horror, Franz Ferdinand opened his mouth and a thin stream of brilliant red blood jetted out, striking Count von Harrach, riding on the auto's sideboard, in the cheek.
The Archduke was too schooled a nobleman and soldier to show agony, but the pain was now abundantly clear in the set of his face and the sudden shudder running through his body.
"For Heaven's sake, what's happened to you?!" Sophie cried. She began to reach out toward her husband, but then she felt light-headed and disoriented, as a sharp pain stabbed through her abdomen.
She tried to say something else, but no word passed her lips. The world turned gray, then black, as Sophie, duchess of Hohenberg, crumpled to her left side and toppled into her husband's lap, her face between his knees. In the folds of her elegant white summer dress, a red-tinged black hole stood out on the right side of her abdomen. The second bullet - for two bullets had been fired by Serbian nationalist Gavrilo Princip, the first striking Franz Ferdinand at the joining of neck and chest - had punched through the thin sheet metal of the car door, through Sophie's white dress, her tightly laced corset and chemise, and into her soft, vulnerable torso four centimeters above her right colon.
As the slug tunneled its way through the body of the wife of Austria-Hungary's heir, it slashed through her liver, cutting many blood vessels and starting massive internal bleeding. The bullet then severed Sophie's stomach artery, skyrocketing the bleeding to catastrophic levels, angled downward, and finally lodged in her groin. Sophie never knew any of this, though. Already unconscious, she sank swiftly as the car raced desperately back toward the Konak, the palace of Austria-Hungary's governor in Bosnia.
Nobody knows exactly when Sophie Maria Josephine Albina, Countess of Chotek and Duchess of Hohenberg, died, but she may have sighed her last faint breath before the auto braked to a screeching halt in front of the Konak's grand entrance. In any case, by the time the car stopped at the Konak's entrance, Sophie was inert, limp as she lay face-down in her husband's lap.
No external bleeding was apparent, but her skin was a shocking yellowish color. Staff officers and palace servants converged on the car in a cacophony of frantic shouts.
Sophie was rolled over tenderly, showing under the filmy veil of her hat her dark eyes closed, long lashes flat on her cheeks, dark-brown hair in its Gibson-girl hairdo glistening in the late-morning sun under the wide-brimmed white veiled hat she still wore. Several men gently lifted her from the car; her feet, swathed in sheer white silk stockings befitting a noblewoman and delicately encased in Louis XIV-heeled, gleaming white kidskin lace-up oxfords, dangled limply, floating in the air.
Her hands and arms in their long, creamy-white kid gloves also hung limply, the long fingers in their butter-soft white leather encasings relaxed and unmoving. The modish white summer dress rustled as the dying or dead Duchess was carried into the Konak, her bearers shifting their hands to better handle the weight of her soft, unresistant body; Sophie had tended toward a voluptuous plumpness as she entered her middle forties. Sophie was carried into the master bedroom of the Konak and laid on Governor Potoriek's own brass bed with infinite tenderness.
Her face was still alarmingly lemon-yellowish in color, and she displayed no sign of life. An officer was sent to fetch ether, and desperate hands fumbled at the fastenings on her white dress.
As the dress came undone and the corset was cut away, cries of horror and dismay ran through the room, for the death-wound in the Duchess' soft, white side was now plain to sight.
No bloodflow had previously been apparent because the bullet had, in its course through the upholstery of the car seat, carried a swatch of material with it that had stopped up the wound. Her pulse was checked; nothing. Breathing; none.
An eyelid was opened; the pupil in the dark brown eye was dilated, unresponsive to light. "She's already dead!" one officer shouted. Her white-gloved hands were crossed under her chest and her limbs were composed. The Duchess' face - in life, while she had never been considered a classic beauty, she was possessed of an exceptional handsomeness, her clear skin, dark hair and marvelous eyes being touted as her best features - was, surprisingly, free of pain or agony.
It was totally serene in death. Countess Lanjus, Sophie's lady-in-waiting, her face still showing the marks of an earlier bombing attempt, took the bouquet that had been given to the Duchess earlier and laid it by her head. Sophie's limp dead body was soon gently lifted again and carried to the bedroom where Franz Ferdinand had just died, then laid tenderly on a bed next to the mortal remains of her husband.
The Duchess' still-elegantly-dressed corpse was again composed, flowers being laid on her chest. An amulet gleamed from where it rested around her stately neck. Sophie lay dead on her back on the bed, serene face turned upward toward the ceiling, eyes closed, white-shod toes also pointing upward. A tiny trickle of blood finally ran from the fatal wound, seeping down the pale-cream skin of her abdomen and pooling on the elaborate bedspread.
The Catholic archbishop arrived first, to pray over the slain bodies and bless them with the last rites. Following him, several of Sarajevo's leading doctors came to conduct post-mortem examinations. The slain bodies of the imperial couple were gently undressed, lying nude on the beds while the doctors poked, prodded and incised.
Contrary to traditional Habsburg practice, the heart and other visceral organs were not removed for interment in separate urns. The damage to Sophie's internal organs was swiftly ascertained, and it was immediately apparent that no earthly agency could have helped her once the deadly bullet struck; the projectile was found and removed from her groin. One of the doctors scribbled out a detailed death certificate for both aristocrats.
Once the doctors had finished their work, it was the turn of the morticians, a team arriving from Sarajevo's best funeral home. Sophie's unclothed, murdered body, now beginning to stiffen as rigor mortis arrived, was laid on a table and lovingly, thoroughly cleaned.
A death mask was taken first, quick-drying plaster being deftly applied to her face and then removed (the process being simultaneously repeated with Franz Ferdinand). Then, her left arm was raised so that it rested at a 90-degreengle to her side, and an incision was made under the left armpit according to the newfangled Eckels-Genung method.
The appropriate arteries were found, raised and carefully incised, and needles were inserted to drain the blood and inject embalming fluid. The assassinated Duchess of Hohenberg lay quiet, utterly inert, pliant and unresistant, throughout this process, as did her husband. As the embalming fluid pumped into Sophie's killed body, filling her blood vessels and permeating her tissues, disinfecting and preserving her, one mortician hooked a trochar up to a hose connected to another jar of embalming fluid.
He lined up the long steel needle under the Duchess' navel, then thrust smoothly, the trochar piercing the tender flesh and stabbing deeply into her soft dead organs. The undertaker methodically embalmed every part of Sophie's viscera, thrusting the trochar this way and that so that it pierced in every direction of the compass and shot its preservative into her yielding, silky dead flesh.
He paid particular attention to making sure that the pierced liver and other abdominal organs were properly infused with preservative solution, and ran the trochar down the track of the bullet wound to inject Sophie's corpse from that direction.
Lifting the Duchess' head, he took a large hypodermic needle filled with embalming fluid and injected her brain and the rest of her head through the back of her neck. When the embalming was complete, the fatal wound in Sophie's side was sealed with putty and the embalming incisions were sewn up carefully. The unmoving body of the Duchess was washed again with perfumed soap, and the morticians gently massaged the cadaver until the limbs and torso were once again supple and free-moving.
One of the undertakers, skilled in cosmetics, took over at this point. Sophie's abundant dark-brown hair was washed and set in the classic Gibson Girl fashion she had favored for so long. Her eyes were sealed shut, and soft white cotton treated with insecticide was packed deep into her elegant nostrils to repel bugs; her mouth was closed but not, somewhat unusually, sewn up. A vent tube was carefully inserted into the Duchess' anus to allow any undesirable gases to escape instead of remaining to bloat the body and hasten decomposition.
Her soft, silken vagina was lovingly cleaned (some semen was found there, mute evidence that she and Franz Ferdinand had not departed this life without enjoying each other's bodies one last time) and more soft, fluffy white cotton was carefully packed in the depths of her love passage.
Sophie's elegant, patrician face was carefully made up, her cheeks lightly rouged, lips delicately reddened and composed into a little smile, the feathery eyebrows and eyelashes brushed to smoothness. Her fingernails and toenails were polished to glistening brightness. Sophie's soft dead body was then carefully dressed. The Duchess' unresisting form was swathed in billowing white silk first as chemise and pantaloons (with open crotch) were tugged on and laced in place.
A new corset, all white satin, gay ribbons, and whalebone stays, to replace the one holed by Princip's bullet, was then produced and tight-laced onto the yielding torso, producing an exciting hourglass figure, the dressers grunting with effort as they turned the body over and pulled hard on the laces, then adjusting her ample breasts so that they swelled enticingly from the top of the corset.
Long white silk stockings were next drawn up Sophie's well-shaped legs, encasing the long limbs with the light touch of sheer silk, and clipped onto the garter/suspender straps depending from the corset. The seams were straightened to perfection, and a pair of dazzling white ankle-height kidskin boots, newly cleaned and polished, were produced and laced delicately onto her feet. A white silk petticoat, trimmed extravagantly in lace, was next slipped over Sophie's waist, and then the main event, the gown.
Sophie was laid out in a spectacular white gown with short sleeves and frothy lace top, her body rocking softly from side to side as the clothes were slipped onto her figure. Over-the-elbow white kidskin mousquetaire gloves came next, tenderly encasing her dead hands and arms in their buttery-soft leather hug and kiss. Finally, the dressers adorned Sophie with her favorite earrings and other jewelry. The body of the Duchess of Hohenberg, fully prepared, was now ready to be laid in its casket.
Several staff officers were summoned, and they took their positions, reached under Sophie, and tenderly lifted her, carrying her solemnly to the bier where a gleaming metal casket, fitted in brilliantly polished brass, waited, open.
Sophie was laid reverently in the casket, the extravagant white satin lining yielding gently as the weight of her slain, embalmed body came down fully upon it. The dark head was composed on the lace-encased pillow, and her kid-gloved hands were folded carefully under her bosom, a rosary being entwined among the leather-sheathed fingers and a crucifix being placed in her joined hands. Her legs were straightened, white-shod feet lined up precisely, and a delicate muslin sheet, trimmed in lace, was drawn up to cover her lower body.
Next to the Duchess' casket, similar operations were being carried out with the body of Franz Ferdinand. Candles were lit, more prayers were offered and a honor guard took its place, lining either side of the twin caskets and staring stone-facedly ahead. In the elegant casket, the white-clad body of Sophie Maria Josephine Albina, Grafin (Countess) Chotek von Chotkowa und Wognin, duchess of Hohenberg, wife of the Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria-Hungary, lay peacefully composed upon gleaming white satin, gloved hands folded on her torso, chestnut-tressed head pillowed on frothy lace, eyes decently closed and a slight smile seeming to play on her gently handsome features.
She was not to know that her death and that of her husband would bring about the death of tens of millions more, and possibly the most tumultous century ever in the annals of the human race. (Later.) A couple of nights later, aboard the Austro-Hungarian battleship Viribus Unitus, one of Franz Ferdinand's younger staff officers came to the door of the compartment in which the caskets of the Archduke and his wife were being stored during the ship's transit across the Adriatic.
He dismissed the guards and told them to take an hour's break, stating that he wished to pay his respects to the couple in privacy. Locking the hatchway and drawing a curtain over the porthole, he turned and regarded the flag-draped coffins. After a moment, he strode decisively over to the casket on the left and removed the flag, folding it and draping it carefully over the flag on the other casket.
He ran his fingers along the underside of the lid, searching for the latch; finding it, he pressed in and was rewarded with the sound of a solid click. He lifted the lid carefully and eased it off the casket, laying it gently on the deck, then stared inside the casket, viewing the body of the Duchess of Hohenberg.
The officer's breath started to come in quicker pants. He removed his own glove, reached out and caressed the smooth, exquisitely soft leather encasing Sophie's dead hands and arms, running his fingers along the buttons closing the mousquetaire opening and up the Duchess' arms to the heartstopping place where the glove tops flared out over the soft, yielding biceps.
He fondled the gloved hands and arms for a few moments, then bent down and kissed Sophie on the lips. The kiss swiftly grew passionate, and his tongue snaked out, pushing eagerly between Sophie's unresisting lips to run along her white teeth. He reached up, gently pried open Sophie's jaw, and then fell to fondling Sophie's soft, slightly pulpy tongue with his own.
While he was engaged in his kiss, his right hand strayed down over Sophie's lace-encased chest, finding the large left breast and squeezing and fondling the firm-soft flesh melon. His left hand followed suit, lovingly grasping Sophie's right breast.
He felt the outlines of her nipples through the elegant lace, further stoking his passion. Breaking the kiss, he grasped the rim of the casket, levered himself upwards and lowered himself, with some difficulty, into the casket's interior and atop the slain Duchess of Hohenberg. There followed several minutes of increasingly heated caresses, fondles, squeezes, strokes and pets as he played with the wonderful, unresistant, yielding, pillow-soft form beneath his aroused body.
Sophie's shot, embalmed body undulated quietly almost in time to his caresses, the tender dead flesh softly yielding to each touch. The eager lover now pushed up Sophie's long white skirt, suppressing an ecstatic groan at the sight of her dead, plump, neat, shapely legs so nicely encased in sheer white silk and the dainty white laced boots on her delicate dead feet.
What he sought was further upwards, and without further ado, he gently pushed apart large round plush thighs covered in several layers of silk and let his breath out in an ecstatic sigh at the dazzling sight of dark hair visible through the lace-edged opening in the pantalets. All was haste and purpose, now, as the young officer unbuttoned his fly and pulled out his erect, quivering penis. He pushed Sophie's unresistant thighs apart still further, now revealing the tender inner and outer lips under the curls of pubic hair.
Spitting quickly on his fingers, he lubricated the slain Duchess' womanliness and then his own manhood, then swung himself between Sophie's legs, lifting the limbs until the pretty white boots were resting on his shoulders.
He positioned his penis at the outer labia, touching the silken flesh, and with a soft groan of pleasure, slid into Sophie's elegant dead body. He thrust inside as deeply as he could, feeling the smoothness of his Duchess' vaginal walls, and then encountered the yielding fuzziness of the cotton that the morticians had inserted.
Rearing back a little, he pulled partway out, then thrust back in again, then out, then in again, quickly establishing a steady rhythm. As he made love to the assassinated noblewoman, he bent down and kissed her fine-featured, pale face over and over again, whispering endearments to her.
In, out. In, out. The mingled sensations of silk and lace, kidskin and satin, and above all, Sophie's incredibly soft, pillowy, yielding, unresisting flesh, blended into utter ecstasy for him.
All too soon, he reached his peak, and as he grasped Sophie's silk-clad legs, he reared back, went into a last frenzy of thrusting, and spasmed, avoiding crying out by a near-miracle, as he shot and shot and shot his darling dead Duchess with his flesh gun,sending his creamy seed jetting into her silky, silent depths.
Regretfully, he pulled out, then climbed out of the coffin, catching it as it rocked dangerously before it could tip over. He dressed quickly, then equally quickly (but with all due care) redressed and recomposed Sophie's body, even tucking stray brown hair back into place and gently pushing her mouth shut again.
Kissing the Duchess one last time with a whispered endearment, he lifted the casket lid back into place and locked it again, then took up the folded flag and draped it over the coffin once again. As he stepped back and rendered a crisp, perfect parade-ground salute to the casketed bodies, he heard the guards coming back from their break. He unlocked the hatch, thanked the guards and let them in to resume their posts, then strolled off down the passageway, feeling thoroughly satisfied that he had been able to give his Duchess a loving sendoff.