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Tickling in a Russian CourtAn Account of ladies foot tickling as punishment in the Russian Court. As reported by Sir Robert Ownsley, Special Emissary to the Russian Court, 1786.
The Czarina Catherine had apparently grown irritable at the conduct of one of her ladies-in-waiting. The young girl had presumably engaged in carnal conduct with the wrong courtier. The Czarina ordered the exceptionally pretty young maid bound, in full court attire, to a curved couch. For fear of her life the woman did not protest, nor did she offer any resistance, yet the look of stark fear in her face was quite noticeable to all present. Upon orders, her shoes and stockings were removed, revealing to the crowd her very white and quite comely feet. The feet are considered to be sexually arousing to the Russians, and several ladies blushed while the men became noticeably aroused by their mere exposure. The young lady herself seemed to be as embarrassed as if she were suddenly naked.
Two other young ladies, who were employed as professional foot-ticklers, took their place at the foot of the couch, as the victimized young woman began to squirm. At this point the Czarina gave a command that was interpreted to me as meaning: "Let the teasing begin, and do not let it cease until I give the command."
Now one of the ticklers produced a small brush, and the other used the tips of her fingers as they began to torment the hapless young maiden. The girl's reaction to her tickling was so immediate and violent that it was apparent she would not long endure this cruel treatment. She struggled with such vigor as to shake the couch that held her securely. After several minutes her laughter and screaming seemed to be that of one demon possessed. Her wailing pleas of mercy seemed to incite pleasure in the audience, but in none so much as Catherine, herself, who seemed to grow quite excited at the poor girl's suffering. The absolute despair in her tormented and almost unintelligible uttering's caused great pity in me.
It is delicate torment, one that most Englishmen apply with great delight to the feet and sides of their daughters and youthful wives. I thought of my own little daughter and the wonderful laughter I had forced from her by gentle teasing of her tiny feet and toes. How unlike that loving parental teasing this was!
I must admit to being impressed by the skill of the professional ticklers. The woman with the brush seemed to know each and every possible nuance of the sole of her victims foot. Her stroking was very deliberate and planned, taking care to the brushing of the sides and tips of each toe, following the lines of the arch with artistic accuracy, even though the foot was squirming and jerking about in desperation. She seemed able to anticipate the movement of each jerk. The girl who was using her fingers seemed equally adept in stroking, nay, caressing the sole in wave after wave of maddening ten-finger coordination.
After about an hour or longer, the girl was so hoarse from shrieking, screaming, and laughing that only guttural sounds emerged from a face that seemed more a mask of over-indulged panic and certain death. Several courtiers began pleading with the Czarina that the girl would soon indeed be dead, and she reluctantly ordered cessation. Still the girl took some time to recover, as did the spectators. I never heard the frightened girl utter another word.