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Title: Napoleon and the Queen of Prussia
Author: L. Mühlbach
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Napoleon and the Queen of Prussia" ***

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                        NAPOLEON IN GERMANY

                  NAPOLEON AND THE QUEEN OF PRUSSIA

                        An Historical Novel

                          BY L. MÜHLBACH

        AUTHOR OF MARIE ANTOINETTE, JOSEPH II. AND HIS COURT,
    BERLIN AND SANS-SOUCI, FREDERICK THE GREAT AND HIS FAMILY, ETC.

               TRANSLATED FROM THE GERMAN BY F. JORDAN

                              NEW YORK
                                1908
                        COPYRIGHT 1867, 1893,
                      BY D. APPLETON AND COMPANY


                  *       *       *       *       *



                              CONTENTS


 BOOK I.

 CHAPTER

        I. Ferdinand von Schill
       II. The German Song
      III. The Oath of Vengeance
       IV. In Berlin
        V. Quiet is the Citizen's First Duty
       VI. The Faithful People of Stettin
      VII. The Queen's Flight
     VIII. Napoleon in Potsdam
       IX. Sans-Souci
        X. Napoleon's Entry into Berlin
       XI. Napoleon and Talleyrand
      XII. The Princess von Hatzfeld
     XIII. The Suppliant Princes
      XIV. Triumph and Defeat
       XV. The Victoria of Brandenburg Gate

 BOOK II.

      XVI. The Treaty of Charlottenburg
     XVII. The Secret Council of State
    XVIII. Baron von Stein
      XIX. The Queen at the Peasant's Cottage
       XX. Count Pückler
      XXI. The Patriot's Death
     XXII. Peace Negotiations
    XXIII. The Slanderous Articles
     XXIV. The Justification
      XXV. Countess Mary Walewska
     XXVI. The Dantzic Chocolate

 BOOK III.

    XXVII. Tilsit.--Napoleon and Alexander
   XXVIII. Queen Louisa
     XXIX. Bad Tidings
      XXX. Queen Louisa and Napoleon

 BOOK IV.

     XXXI. Baron von Stein
    XXXII. The Patriot
   XXXIII. Johannes von Müller
   XXXIV. The Call
    XXXV. Financial Calamities
   XXXVI. Prince William
  XXXVII. The Genius of Prussia
 XXXVIII. A Family Dinner

 BOOK V.

   XXXIX. French Erfurt
      XL. The Conspirators
     XLI. The Festivities of Erfurt and Weimar
    XLII. Napoleon and Goethe
   XLIII. The Chase and the Assassins

 BOOK VI.

    XLIV. The War with Austria
     XLV. Josephine's Farewell
    XLVI. Ferdinand von Schill
   XLVII. Schill takes the Field
  XLVIII. Schill's Death
    XLIX. The Parade at Schönbrunn
       L. Napoleon at Schönbrunn
      LI. Frederick Staps
     LII. An Execution

 BOOK VII.

    LIII. Homeward Bound
     LIV. The Emperor Francis and Metternich
      LV. The Archduchess Maria Louisa
     LVI. The Queen's Birthday
    LVII. Louisa's Death



ILLUSTRATIONS


Portrait of Napoleon
The Oath of Revenge
The Queen in the Peasant's Cottage
Napoleon and the Queen of Prussia
The Emperor Francis and Metternich



NAPOLEON AND QUEEN LOUISA



BOOK I.



CHAPTER I.

FERDINAND VON SCHILL.


Profound silence reigned in the valleys and gorges of Jena and
Auerstadt. The battles were over. The victorious French had marched to
Jena to repose for a few days, while the defeated Prussians had fled to
Weimar, or were wandering across the fields and in the mountains,
anxiously seeking for inaccessible places where they might conceal their
presence from the pursuing enemy.

A panic had seized the whole army. All presence of mind and sense of
honor seemed to be lost. Every one thought only of saving his life, and
of escaping from the conquering arms of the invincible French. Here and
there, it is true, officers succeeded by supplications and remonstrances
in stopping the fugitives, and in forming them into small detachments,
with which the commanders attempted to join the defeated and retreating
main force.

But where was this main army? Whither had the Prince of Hohenlohe
directed his vanquished troops? Neither the officers nor the soldiers
knew. They marched along the high-roads, not knowing whither to direct
their steps. But as soon as their restless eyes seemed to discern French
soldiers at a distance, the Prussians took to their heels, throwing
their muskets away to relieve their flight, and surrendering at
discretion when there was no prospect of escape. In one instance a troop
of one hundred Prussians surrendered to four French dragoons, who
conducted their prisoners to headquarters; and once a large detachment
hailed in a loud voice a few mounted grenadiers, who intended perhaps to
escape from their superior force, and gave the latter to understand, by
signals and laying down their arms, that they only wished to surrender
and deliver themselves to the French.

The Prussians had reached Jena and Auerstadt confident of victory, and
now had left the battle-field to carry the terrible tidings of their
defeat, like a host of ominously croaking ravens, throughout Germany.

The battle-field, on which a few hours previously Death had walked in a
triumphant procession, and felled thousands and thousands of bleeding
victims to the ground, was now entirely deserted. Night had thrown its
pall over the horrors of this Calvary of Prussian glory: the howling
storm alone sang a requiem to the unfortunate soldiers, who, with open
wounds and features distorted with pain, lay in endless rows on the
blood-stained ground.

At length the night of horror is over--the storm dies away--the thick
veil of darkness is rent asunder, and the sun of a new day arises pale
and sad; pale and sad he illuminates the battle-field, reeking with the
blood of so many thousands.

What a spectacle! How many mutilated corpses lie prostrate on the ground
with their dilated eyes staring at the sky--and among them, the happy,
the enviable! how many living, groaning, bleeding men, writhing with
pain, unable to raise their mutilated bodies from the gory bed of
torture and death!

The sun discloses the terrible picture hidden by the pall of night; it
illuminates the faces of the stark dead, but awakens the living and
suffering, the wounded and bleeding, from their benumbed slumber, and
recalls them to consciousness and the dreadful knowledge of their
wretched existence.

With consciousness return groans and wails; and the dreadful conviction
of their wretched existence opens their lips, and wrings from them
shrieks of pain and despair.

How enviable and blissful sleep the dead whose wounds bleed and ache no
longer! How wretched and pitiable are the living as they lie on the
ground, tortured by the wounds which the howling night wind has dried so
that they bleed no more! Those poor deserted ones in the valley and on
the hills the sun has awakened, and the air resounds with their moans
and cries and despairing groans, and heart-rending entreaties for
relief. But no relief comes to them; no cheerful voice replies to their
wails. Hundreds, perhaps thousands, had been placed in the ambulances,
and, during the sudden panic, the surgeons had left the battle-field
with them. But hundreds, nay thousands, remained behind, and with no one
to succor them!

From among the crowds of wounded and dead lying on the battle-field of
Auerstadt, rose up now an officer, severely injured in the head and arm.
The sun, which had aroused him from the apathetic exhaustion into which
he had sunk from loss of blood and hunger, now warmed his stiffened
limbs, and allayed somewhat the racking pain in his wounded right arm,
and the bleeding gash in his forehead. He tried to extricate himself
from under the carcass of his horse, that pressed heavily on him, and
felt delighted as he succeeded in loosing his foot from the stirrup, and
drawing it from under the steed. Holding with his uninjured left arm to
the saddle, he raised himself slowly. The effort caused the blood to
trickle in large drops from the wound in his forehead, which he
disregarded under the joyful feeling that he had risen again from his
death-bed, and that he was still living and breathing. For a moment he
leaned faint and exhausted against the horse as a couch; and feeling a
burning thirst, a devouring hunger, his dark, flaming eyes wandered
around as if seeking for a refreshing drink for his parched palate, or a
piece of bread to appease his hunger.

But his eye everywhere met only stiffened corpses, and the misery and
horror of a deserted battle-field. He knew that no food could be found,
as the soldiers had not, for two days, either bread or liquor in their
knapsacks. Hunger had been the ally that had paved the way for the
French emperor--it had debilitated the Prussians and broken their
courage.

"I must leave the battle-field," murmured the wounded soldier; "I must
save myself while I have sufficient strength; otherwise I shall die of
hunger. Oh, my God, give me strength to escape from so horrible a death!
Strengthen my feet for this terrible walk!"

He cast a single fiery glance toward heaven, one in which his whole soul
was expressed, and then set out on his walk. He moved along slowly and
with tottering steps amid the rows of corpses, some of which were still
quivering and moaning, as death drew near, while others writhed and
wailed with their wounds. Unable to relieve their racking pains, and to
assist them in their boundless misery, it only remained for him to sink
down among them, or to avert his eyes, to close his ears to their
supplications, and escape with hurried steps from this atmosphere of
blood and putrefaction, in order to rescue his own life from the
clutches of death.

He hastened, therefore, but his tearful eyes greeted the poor sufferers
whom he passed on his way, and his quivering lips muttered a prayer for
them.

At length the first and most horrible part of this dreadful field was
passed, and he escaped from the chaos of the dead and wounded. That
part, across which he was walking now, was less saturated with gore, and
the number of corpses scattered over it was much smaller. Here and there
was the wreck of a cannon besmeared with blood and mire, and empty
knapsacks, fragments of broken wagons and muskets, in the utmost
disorder and confusion.

"Spoils for the marauders," whispered the wounded officer, pressing on.
"It seems they have not been here yet. God have mercy on me, if they
should come now and look on me, too, as their spoil!"

He glanced around anxiously, and in doing so his eye beheld an
unsheathed, blood-stained sabre lying near his feet. He made an effort
to take it up regardless of the blood which, in consequence of the
effort, trickled again in larger drops from his wounds.

"Well," he said, in a loud and menacing voice, "I shall defend my life
at least to the best of my ability; the hateful enemies shall not
capture me as long as I am alive. Forward, then; forward with God! He
will not desert a faithful soldier!"

And supporting himself on his sabre, as if it were a staff, the officer
walked on. Everywhere he met with the same signs of war and destruction;
everywhere he beheld corpses, blood-stained cannon-balls, or muskets,
which the fugitives had thrown away.

"Oh, for a drop of water!" groaned the officer, while slowly crossing
the field; "my lips are parched!"

Tottering and reeling, with the aid of his sabre, and by his firm,
energetic will, and the resolution of his spirit, he succeeded once more
in overcoming the weakness of his body.

He hastened on with quicker steps, and hope now lent wings to his feet,
for yonder, in the rear of the shrubbery, he beheld a house; men were
there, assistance also.

At length, after untold efforts, and a terrible struggle with his pain
and exhaustion, he reached the peasant's house. Looking up with longing
eyes to the windows, he shouted: "Oh, give me a drink of water! Have
mercy on a wounded soldier!"

But no voice responded; no human face appeared behind the small green
windows. Every thing remained silent and deserted.

With a deep sigh, and an air of bitter disappointment depicted on his
features, he murmured:

"My feet cannot carry me any farther. Perhaps my voice was too weak, and
they did not hear me. I will advance closer to the house."

Gathering his strength, with staggering steps he approached and found
the door only ajar; whereupon he opened it and entered.

Within the house every thing was as silent as without; not a human being
was to be seen; not a voice replied to his shouts. The inside of the
dwelling presented a sorry spectacle. All the doors were open; the clay
floor was saturated here and there with blood; the small, low rooms were
almost empty; only some half-destroyed furniture, a few broken jars and
other utensils, were lying about. The inmates either had fled from the
enemy, or he had expelled them from their house.

"There is no help for me," sighed the officer, casting a despairing
glance on this scene of desolation. "Oh, why was it not vouchsafed to me
to die on the battle-field? Why did not a compassionate cannon-ball have
mercy on me, and give me death on the field of honor? Then, at least, I
should have died as a brave soldier, and my name would have been
honorably mentioned; now I am doomed to be named only among the missing!
Oh, it is sad and bitter to die alone, unlamented by my friends, and
with no tear of compassion from the eyes of my queen! Oh, Louisa,
Louisa, you will weep much for your crown, for your country, and for
your people, but you will not have a tear for the poor lieutenant of
your dragoons who is dying here alone uttering a prayer for a blessing
on you! Farewell queen, may God grant you strength, and--"

His words died away; a deadly pallor overspread his features, his head
turned dizzy, and a ringing noise filled his ears.

"Death! death!" he murmured faintly, and, with a sigh, he fell senseless
to the ground.

Every thing had become silent again in the humble house; not a human
sound interrupted the stillness reigning in the desolate room. Only the
hum of a few flies, rushing with their heads against the window-panes,
was heard. Once a rustling noise was heard in a corner, and a mouse
glided across the floor, its piercing, glittering eyes looked
searchingly around, and the sight of the bloody, motionless form, lying
prostrate on the floor, seemed to affright it, for it turned and slipped
away even faster than it had approached, and disappeared in the corner.

The sun rose higher, and shone down on the dimmed windows of the house,
reflecting their yellow outlines on the floor, and illuminated the gold
lace adorning the uniform of the prostrate and motionless officer.

All at once the silence was broken by the approach of hurried steps, and
a loud voice was heard near at hand, shouting:

"Is there anybody in the house?"

Then every thing was still again. The new-comer was evidently waiting
for a reply. After a pause, the steps drew nearer--now they were already
in the hall; and now the tall, slender form of a Prussian officer, with
a bandaged head and arm, appeared on the threshold of the room. When he
beheld the immovable body on the floor, his pale face expressed surprise
and compassion.

"An officer of the queen's dragoons!" he ejaculated, and in the next
moment he was by his side. He knelt down, and placed his hand
inquiringly on the heart and forehead of the prostrate officer.

"He is warm still," he murmured, "and it seems to me his heart is yet
beating. Perhaps, perhaps he only fainted from loss of blood, just as I
did before my wounds had been dressed. Let us see."

He hastily drew a flask from his bosom, and pouring some of its contents
into his hand, he washed with it the forehead and temples of his poor
comrade.

A slight shudder now pervaded his whole frame, and he looked with a
half-unconscious, dreamy glance into the face of the stranger, who had
bent over him with an air of heart-felt sympathy.

"Where am I?" he asked, in a low, tremulous voice.

"With a comrade," said the other, kindly. "With a companion in
misfortune who is wounded, and a fugitive like you. I am an officer of
the Hohenlohe regiment, and fought at Jena. Since last night I have been
wandering about, constantly exposed to the danger of falling into the
hands of the enemy. My name is Pückler--it is a good Prussian name. You
see, therefore, it is a friend who is assisting his poor comrade, and
you need not fear any thing. Now, tell me what I can do for you?"

"Water, water!" groaned the wounded officer, "water!"

"You had better take some of my wine here," said the other; "it will
quench your thirst, and invigorate you at the same time."

He held the flask to the lips of his comrade, and made him sip a little
of his wine.

"Now it is enough," he said, withdrawing the flask from his lips. "Since
you have quenched your thirst, comrade, would you not like to eat a
piece of bread and some meat? Ah, you smile; you are surprised because I
guess your wishes and know your sufferings. You need not wonder at it,
however, comrade, for I have undergone just the same torture as you.
Above all, you must eat something."

While speaking, he had produced from his knapsack a loaf of bread and a
piece of roast chicken, and cutting a few slices from both, placed them
tenderly in the mouth of the sufferer, looking on with smiling joy while
the other moved his jaws, slowly at first, but soon more rapidly and
eagerly.

"Now another draught of wine, comrade," he said, "and then, I may dare
to give you some more food. Hush! do not say a word--it is a sacred work
you are doing now, a work by which you are just about to save a human
life. You must not, therefore, interrupt it by any superfluous
protestations of gratitude. Moreover, your words are written in your
eyes, and you cannot tell me any thing better and more beautiful than
what I am reading therein. Drink! So! And here is a piece of bread and a
wing of the chicken. While you are eating, I will look around in the
yard and garden to find there some water to wash your wounds."

Without waiting for a reply, he hastily left the officer alone with the
piece of bread, the wing of the chicken, and the flask. When he
returned, about fifteen minutes later, with a jar filled with water, the
bread and meat had disappeared; but instead of the pale, immovable, and
cadaverous being, he found seated on the floor a young man with flashing
eyes, a faint blush on his cheeks, and a gentle smile on his lips.

"You have saved me," he said, extending his hand toward his returning
comrade. "I should have died of hunger and exhaustion, if you had not
relieved me so mercifully."

"Comrade," said the officer, smiling, "you have just repeated the same
words which I addressed two hours ago to another comrade whom I met on
the retreat; or, to speak more correctly, who found me lying in the
ditch. The lucky fellow had got a horse; he offered me a seat behind
him. But I saw that the animal was too weak to carry both of us; hence I
did not accept his offer, but I took the refreshments which he gave to
me, and with which he not only saved my life, but yours too. You are,
therefore, under no obligations to me, but to him alone."

"You are as kind as you are generous," said the other, gently,
involuntarily raising his hand toward his forehead.

"And I see that you are in pain," exclaimed the officer, "and that the
wound in your head is burning. Mine has been dressed already, and my
shattered arm bandaged--for I received both wounds yesterday in the
early part of the battle, and the surgeon attended to them while the
bullets were hissing around us."

"I was wounded only when every thing was lost," sighed the other. "A
member of the accursed imperial guard struck me down."

"I hope you gave him a receipt in full for your wounds?" asked the
officer, while tenderly washing the wound with the water he had brought
along in the broken jar.

The other officer looked up to him with flashing eyes.

"I gave him a receipt which he has already shown to God Himself," he
said, "provided there is a God for these accursed French. My sword cleft
his skull, but I fell together with him."

"Your wound here in the forehead is of no consequence," said the
officer; "the stroke only cut the skin. Let us put this moistened
handkerchief on it."

"Oh, now I am better," said the other; "now that the wound burns less
painfully, I feel that life is circulating again through all my veins."

"And what about your arm?"

"A lancer pierced it. I hope he was kind enough not to touch the bone,
so that the arm need not be amputated. It is true, it pains severely;
but, you see, I can move it a little, which proves that it is not
shattered. Now, comrade, do me still another favor--assist me in
rising."

"Here, lean firmly on me. There! I will lift you up--now you are on your
legs again. Lean on me still, for you might become dizzy."

"No, I shall not. I feel again well and strong enough to take the burden
of life on my shoulders. Thank God! I am able to stand again. For,
however crushed and trampled under foot we may be, we will submit to our
fate manfully, and stand erect. The conqueror and tyrant shall not
succeed in bending our heads, although he has broken our hearts. Ah,
comrade, that was a terrible day when all Prussia sank in ruins!"

"You were in the thickest of the fray? The regiment of the queen's
dragoons fought at Auerstadt, I believe?"

"Yes, it fought at Auerstadt, or rather it did the same as all the other
regiments--it deserted. Only a few squadrons complied with the urgent
exhortations of the king, who led us against the squares of the enemy
near Hassenhausen. His own horse was shot; we officers stood our ground,
but the dragoons ran away.[Historical] Ah, I wept with rage, and if my
tears could have been transformed into bullets, they would not have been
directed against the enemy, but against our own cowardly dragoons. The
battle would have been won if our soldiers had not disgracefully taken
to their heels. All shouts, orders, supplications, were in vain; the
soldiers were running, although no enemy pursued them; the panic had
rendered them perfectly crazy."

"And do you really believe, comrade, that we owe the loss of the battle
exclusively to the cowardice of the soldiers?" asked the officer. "Did
our generals do their duty? Ah, you look gloomy, and do not reply. Then
you agree with me? Let us, however, speak of all these things afterward,
but first of ourselves."

"Yes, first of ourselves!" exclaimed the other, starting from his gloomy
reflections. "Count Pückler, you were kind enough to tell me your name,
when you relieved an unknown sufferer in so humane a manner, and thereby
saved his life. Now permit me to tell you my name, too, so that you may
know at least who will always revere your memory with affection and
gratitude. I am Second-Lieutenant Ferdinand von Schill. You see, it is a
very humble name; still I had solemnly vowed that it should not be
unknown in the battles that were to be fought."

"And I see it written on your brow, comrade, that you will at some
future time make up for what fate has now prevented you from
accomplishing," said Count Pückler, kindly offering his hand to
Lieutenant von Schill. "Yet now let us not think of the future, but of
the present. We are disabled, and will be helpless as soon as the
wound-fever sets in; and we may be sure that that will be to-night. We
must, therefore, find a place of refuge; for, if we remain here, without
assistance, and without food, we shall surely be lost."

"You are right; we must leave this house," said Schill; "we must try to
reach a city or village. Come, let us go. You are armed, and I have got
a sabre, too. Let us go, but previously let us swear that we will not
surrender to the French, but rather die, even should it be necessary to
commit suicide! You have a knife, and when you cut some bread for me, I
saw that it was very sharp. Will you give it to me?"

"What for?"

"I want to stab myself, as soon as I see that I cannot escape from the
enemy!"

"And I? What is to become of me?"

"Before killing myself, I will stab you with my sabre. Will that content
you?"

"It will. Be careful, however, to hit my heart; do not merely wound, but
kill me."

"Ah, I see that we understand each other, and that the same heart is
pulsating in our breast!" exclaimed Schill, joyfully. "Let us die,
rather than be captured by the enemy and depend on the mercy of the
Corsican tyrant! Now, comrade, let us go! For you are right; the
wound-fever will set in toward evening, and without assistance we shall
be lost."

"Come," said Pückler, "place your uninjured arm in mine. It seems fate
has destined us for each other, for it has ruined your right arm and my
left arm; thus we can walk at least side by side, mutually supporting
ourselves. I shall be your right hand, and you will lend me your left
arm when I have to embrace anybody. But, it is true, no one will now
care for our embrace; every one will mock and deride us, and try to read
in the bloody handwriting on our foreheads: 'He is also one of the
vanquished Prussians!'"

"Comrade, did you not tell me a little while ago, that it would be
better for us to attend to our own affairs, before talking about other
matters?"

"It is true; let us go!"

And, leaning on each other, the two officers left the house.



CHAPTER II.

THE GERMAN SONG.


It was a sunny morning in autumn; the two wounded officers were inhaling
the bracing air in long draughts, and their eyes were wandering over the
transparent sky and the picturesque landscape.

"And to think that my eyes would never more have seen all this, if you
had not had mercy on me!" said Schill, with a grateful glance at his
companion.

"Ah, my friend," sighed Pückler, mournfully, "we shall not always behold
the sky and this beautiful, silent scene, but it may easily happen that
we shall see much misery to-day, and that you will curse your eyes for
being compelled to perceive it! Still you are right--it is better to
live, even in anguish and distress, than to die in anguish and distress;
for he who lives has still a future before him, and is able to strive in
it for revenge and compensation for the past. Let us descry our
immediate future from the hill yonder, and there decide on the direction
we shall take."

They walked toward the neighboring hill. Frequently they had to stop on
the way; frequently they sank down exhausted; but their will and
youthful energy overcame their weakness, and finally they reached their
destination: they stood on the summit, and were able to survey the whole
country for miles around.

"Yonder, where that dreadful smoke is rising, is the battle-field of
Auerstadt!" said Schill, after a long pause, during which they had taken
breath.

"Yes, and beyond those hills is Jena," said Pückler, sadly. "Those are
two melancholy names for a Prussian ear, and, like Ulysses, I should
like to close mine so as not to hear that siren voice of death any more;
for, I tell you, whenever I hear those two names, I am driven to
despair, and would like to throw myself into that abyss!"

"My friend, it seems to me we are already in the abyss, and our first
and most earnest endeavors should be directed toward saving us from it,"
said Schill, shrugging his shoulders. "Our first step should be to get
safely through the enemy's lines, in order to escape from the dangers to
which a collision with the French would expose us. Whither shall we turn
now? Have you formed already a definite plan, count?"

"Being disabled from active service by my wounds, I shall repair to my
estates in Silesia, and remain there till I have recovered. And you,
comrade--will you permit me to make you an offer? If you have not yet
come to a different decision, you ought to accompany me, and stay at my
house till your wounds are healed. I have splendid woods, and facilities
for angling on my estates; and if you like hunting and fishing, I am
sure a sojourn at my house will afford you plenty of amusement."

"But you forget that my right arm is wounded, count," said Schill, with
a melancholy smile; "hence, I shall be but a poor companion for you, and
ought not to accept your kind offer. I confess, moreover, that my mind
is too restless, and my heart too deeply grieved, to enjoy the peace and
quiet of country life. I must remain in the noise and turmoil of the
world, and see what will become of poor Prussia. I intend going to
Kolberg; the fortress is strong and impregnable; it will be an
insurmountable bulwark against the enemy, and I have several intimate
friends at the fortress. I will stay with them till I am well again."

"Our paths, then, will soon be different. You will go to the north; I,
to the east. But, for a few days, we shall still remain together, for
the wound-fever will compel us to advance very slowly. Let us look out
now for a dinner, and for a place where we may safely sleep to-night."

"And, it seems to me, I see a prospect of obtaining both. Yonder," said
Schill, pointing with his left hand to a small point on the horizon. "Do
you perceive that steeple? There is a village, and consequently there
are men; and, as it is situated northeast, it is in the right direction
for both of us."

"You are right; we will direct our steps thither," exclaimed Count
Pückler. "May Fate be propitious to us, and keep the French out of our
path!"

They walked down the hill on the opposite side, and then commenced
crossing, arm in arm, the stubble-field that lay stretched out before
them. All around them nothing whatever was stirring--not a sound, not
even the chirping of a bird, or the humming of a beetle, interrupted the
profound silence; neither a house, nor any trace of human life, was to
be seen anywhere.

"It is as still here as the grave," whispered Count Pückler.

"Death probably has already stalked across this field on its way to Jena
and Auerstadt," said Schill, "and for this reason all Nature seems to
hold its breath lest it should return."

"But it will not return very soon, for I should think Death itself must
be exhausted by the terrible work it had to perform on the battle-field.
Comrade, now that we know our destination, and have arranged our
affairs, we may converse a little about the dreadful events which
occurred yesterday. You were at Auerstadt. Do you know that at Jena we
had no knowledge whatever of the battle that was going on at Auerstadt,
and were informed of it only in the evening, after we had been
completely routed? We did not hear the reports of your guns!"

"So it was with us, too. At Auerstadt we did not know that a battle was
being fought at Jena; the roar of our own artillery prevented us from
hearing yours. Only when the king had sent off several orderlies to
order the Prince of Hohenlohe and General Rüchel to cover our retreat,
we learned, from the chasseur who returned first, that a battle had been
fought also at Jena, and that Hohenlohe and Rüchel were unable to afford
us any assistance. I cannot describe to you the dismay produced by this
intelligence. Every one thought only of saving himself; there was no
longer any obedience, sense of honor, or bravery. The generals were too
confused to issue orders, and the soldiers too frightened to listen to
their officers."

"And the king?"

"The king was evidently determined to die. His face was livid, his lips
were quivering; wherever the bullets rained down most murderously,
thither he spurred his horse. He had two horses killed, but remained
uninjured. It seems Fate was too unmerciful toward him: it had decreed
that the King of Prussia should not die, but learn in the stern school
of suffering and experience what Prussia needs."

"And the Duke of Brunswick--the commander-in-chief?"

"Ah, you do not yet know the terrible fate that befell him? A bullet
passed through his head; it entered on the right side, and came out on
the left. This happened in the early part of the battle; the duke was
brought back to Auerstadt in a fainting condition; his wound was dressed
there, and then he was carried by some soldiers to Blankenburg."

"The duke is not yet dead, then, notwithstanding this terrible wound?"

"No," said Schill, solemnly, "God would not let him die without reaping
the fruit of what he had sown. For his mental blindness God punished him
with physical blindness. The ball destroyed both his eyes."

"Dreadful!" muttered Count Pückler.

"You pity him?" asked Schill, harshly. "You had better pity the
thousands who are lying on the bloody battle-fields of Jena and
Auerstadt, and accusing the duke of having murdered them! You had better
pity Prussia's misfortunes and disgrace, which have been brought about
by the duke! For, I tell you, the indecision, vacillation, and timidity
of the duke were the sole causes of our terrible disaster. All of us
felt and knew it. None of the younger officers and generals had any
doubt about it; every one knew that those old gentlemen, who had
outlived their own glory, and still believed that they lived in the days
of Frederick the Great, were unequal to the occasion, to the present
time, and to the present war. Because we were aware of this, we made the
utmost efforts to bring about a change of commanders. We elected a
deputation of officers, and sent them to General Kalkreuth, for the
purpose of laying our complaints and prayers before him, and of
imploring him to induce the king to deprive the duke of his command,
and to intrust it to younger and more resolute hands. The deputation
consisted of none but skilful, prominent, and highly-esteemed officers,
who boldly declared it to be their firm conviction that the king was in
danger of losing his crown and his states, if the Duke of Brunswick
should remain at the head of the army."[1]

[Footnote 1: Vide Frederick von Gentz's writings, edited by G.
Schlesier, vol. ii., p. 314.]

"And what did General Kalkreuth reply to them?"

"The general asked, in a harsh tone, for a further explanation of their
words, and the officers gave it to him. They censured the duke's idea of
establishing a camp at Weimar, and dwelt contemptuously on the reasons
that might have induced him to do so. They proved, by referring to the
whole proceedings of the duke, that he knew neither what he was doing
nor what he wanted to do; neither where he was, nor whither he was
going; and they added that, in consequence of this deplorable state of
affairs, the whole army was filled with the most startling and
discouraging rumors.[2]"

[Footnote 2: Ibid., vol. ii., p. 315.]

"But their prayers, their remonstrances, their angry denunciations, and
predictions, were unavailing. General Kalkreuth could not make up his
mind to represent the dangers of the situation to the king, although he
himself was just as well satisfied of its critical character as all the
younger officers of the army. And thus we were defeated, disastrously
defeated and routed, in spite of all warnings of our consciousness of
the danger, and of all predictions. This time it was not the
inexperience and impetuosity of youth, but the antiquated method and
slowness of age, that brought about our ruin."

"Yes, you are right," sighed Count Pückler; "our old generals are the
cause of our misfortunes."

"Do you know, for instance," asked Schill, indignantly, "why we lost the
important defile of Kösen? In consequence of the night-sweat of General
von Schmettau!"

"Ah, you can jest even now!" said Pückler, sadly.

"I do not jest, by any means; on the contrary, I am in dead earnest!
The Duke of Brunswick had ordered the general, on the day before the
battle, to start early next morning with his division, and occupy the
defile of Kösen. His adjutant, Lieutenant von Pfuel, went repeatedly to
his headquarters to remind him of the urgent necessity of setting out,
and to implore him to rise from his bed. 'But, sir,' replied the old
general, 'let me wait at least until my night-sweat is gone; I
understand it is a very chilly morning!'[3] The old general did not rise
until nine o'clock, and started at ten with his division toward Kösen.
When he reached the defile he found that Marshal Davoust had caused it
to be occupied by a regiment of infantry scarcely an hour before. That
night-sweat of the old general has become the death-sweat of many brave
Prussians, and the gray hairs of the old chieftain will now cause the
hair of our youth to turn gray with shame and grief."

[Footnote 3: Vide Förster's "Modern History of Prussia," vol. i., p.
757.]

"Oh, it is a terrible disgrace for us, and I hardly know how we are to
bear it in a manly and dignified manner," said Count Pückler, gloomily.
"In these hours of melancholy only we feel the full extent of our ardent
love for our country; now only we perceive the indissoluble ties that
attach our hearts to it! I should like to pour out my blood in tears for
this crushed, disgraced, and yet so dearly-beloved country, and I feel
that if we do not rise speedily from our degradation, I shall die of
despair!"

"You will not die," said Schill, gravely, "for all of us who love
Prussia, and are devoted to her honor, must not think of dying at the
present time; all of us must assist Prussia in rising again from the
dust, so that she may once more boldly meet the tyrant, and take revenge
for herself and for Germany! For Prussia is Germany now, because she is
the only power in Germany that has resisted and braved the Corsican
conqueror. But God wanted first to arouse her from her arrogance and
vanity, and make the weakness of her leading men known to her, that she
might rise after a noble regeneration and with redoubled strength. Life
springs from death, and Prussia had to fall so low as to break her old
decrepit limbs that were still kept together by her glory from the Seven
Years' War; and then the young, vigorous soldier of the new century will
arise and draw the sword to deliver his subjugated country, and avenge
its desecrated honor!"

"Then you hope still for a change for the better?" asked Count Pückler,
mournfully.

"I base my hopes on the propitious star of Prussia," exclaimed Schill,
enthusiastically, "on the future, on the wrath and grief which will
awake now in all Prussian hearts, arousing the sluggards, strengthening
the vacillating, and urging the timid. I base my hopes on the tears of
Queen Louisa, which will move Heaven to help us and awaken avengers on
earth. And, for ourselves, comrade, with our wounds, with our disgrace,
we must be like the spirits of vengeance that sweep across the heath in
the howling storm of diversity, and awaken the sleeper who would give
way to dreams of peace and inaction. Prussia must not make peace in her
present calamitous condition; she must fill the hearts and minds of all
with longings for war, till the whole nation arises in its rage and
expels the enemy from the country! My friend, we have now witnessed the
downfall of Prussia, but henceforth we must exert ourselves in order to
witness also her regeneration. We ourselves must be the--"

"Hush!" said Pückler, hastily. "Just look there, and then take your
sabre."

They were now near a field-path leading to a small wood which a slender
youth had just left, and was hastily approaching them. As yet, however,
he was so far from them that they were unable to distinguish his
features or his dress, and to discern whether he was an armed soldier or
a peaceable wanderer.

"It is, doubtless, a French soldier, and his comrades are lying in
ambush," murmured Pückler, placing his hand on his sword.

"If he wants to attack us, he had better say his death-prayers," said
Schill, calmly. "There are two of us, and each has one uninjured arm."

The youth had meanwhile drawn nearer, and they saw that he did not wear
any uniform.

"He is very young," said Pückler, "and a civilian. He has apparently not
yet seen us. That bush yonder is concealing us from his eyes. Let us
stoop a little, and, as the path lies beyond, he may pass by without
noticing us."

They knelt down behind the bush, but, while doing so, took their swords,
and prepared for an attack. Then they held their breath and listened.

Profound silence reigned around, and nothing was to be heard but the
quick steps of the wanderer, who drew nearer and nearer. Suddenly this
silence was interrupted by a fresh and youthful voice, singing the air
of a popular song.

"Ah, he sings," murmured Schill. "He who can sing to-day, must be very
harmless, and it is not worth while to kill him."

"Hush! hush! let us listen to his song. He is now singing words to the
melody. Just listen!"

The voice resounded nearer and nearer to the two listeners, and they
could understand the words he was singing:

    O Hermann! for thy country's fall
        No tears! Where vanquished valor bled
    The victor rules, and Slavery's pall,
        Upon these hills and vales is spread.
    Shame burns within me, for the brave
    Lie mouldering in the freeman's grave.

    No voice! where sturdy Luther spoke
        Fearless for men who dared be free!
    O would that Heaven's thunder woke
        My people for their liberty!
    Must heroes fight and die in vain?--
    Ye cowards! grasp your swords again!

    Revenge! revenge! a gory shroud
        To tyrants, and the slaves that yield'
    Eternal honor calls aloud
        For courage in the battle-field.
    Who loves or fears a conquered land
    That bows beneath the despot's hand?

    And whither flee? Where Winkelried
        And Tell and Ruyter bravely broke
    Oppression's power--their country freed--
        All--all beneath the usurper's yoke!
    From Alpine fountains to the sea
    The patriot dead alone are free.

    My people! in this sorrowing night,
        The clanking of your chains may be
    The sign of vengeance, and the fight
        Of former times the world may see,
    When Hermann in that storied day
    As a wild torrent cleft his way.

    No idle song, O youth! thy boast.
        In self-born virtue be as one
    Who is himself a mighty host
        By whose sole arm is victory won.
    No blazoned monument so grand
    As death for the dear Fatherland.

    To die! how welcome to the brave!
        The tomb awakes no coward fear
    Save to the wretched, trembling slave
        Who for his country sheds no tear.
    To crown me with a fadeless wreath
    Be thine, O happy, sacred death!

    Come, shining sword! avenge my dead!
        Alone canst thou remove this shame.
    Proud ornament! with slaughter red
        Restore my native land its fame.
    By night, by day, in sun or shade,
    Be girt around me, trusty blade.

    The trumpet on the morning gale!
        Arm! forward to the bloody strife!
    From loftiest mountain to the vale
        Asks dying Freedom for her life.
    Our standard raise, to glory given,
    And higher still our hearts to Heaven.[4]

[Footnote 4: This is one of Arndt's soul-stirring, patriotic hymns,
published in 1806. It is difficult to render into readable English this
species of German heroic verse so as to preserve its rhythm. All the
thought of the original is however expressed in the translation. The
only change of any importance is the transposition of the seventh
stanza.]

    Keine Thräne, Hermann, für dein Volk?
    Keine Thräne, und die Schande brennet,
    Und der Feind gebietet, we die Freien
    Siegten und fielen?

    Keine Stimme laut, wo Luther sprach?
    Alle Donner, die der Himmel sendet,
    Sollten rufen: Volk erwache! feiges;
    Greife zum Schwerte.

    Rache! Rache! heissen, blut'gen Tod
    Sklavenfürsten und dem Knecht der fliehet!
    Männerwort gefürchtet und gepriesen,
    Männliche Tugend!

    Ach wohin? wo Winkelried erlag,
    Wilhelm schlug, und Ruyter tapfer siegte;
    Auf den höchsten Alpen, in den tiefsten
    Sümpfen ist Knechtschaft.

    Auch du, Hermann's, auch du, kühnes Volk?
    Auf! Erwache! Schüttle deine Ketten,
    Dass die Schmach die Welt vernehme, bald auch
    Blutige Rache!

    Lieder helfen hier and Mäler nicht.
    Mäler? Tief im Herzen sei das Denkmal,
    An dem Thurm der selbstgebornen Tugend
    Hebe dich, Jüngling!

    Und voran geworfen kühn die Brust,
    Und empor das Auge zu dem Himmel,
    Hoch die Fahne! Hoch zum Himmel! Höher
    Flammende Herzen.

    Tod, du süsser, für das Vaterland,
    Süsser als der Brautgruss, als das Lallen
    Auf dem Mutterschooss des ersten Kindes,
    Sei mir willkommen!

    Was das Lied nicht löset, löst das Schwert,
    Blinkend Heil, umgürte meine Hüften!
    Vor der Schande kannst du Tapfre retten,
    Zierde der Tapfern!

Just when the youth had sung the last verse in a ringing voice, he had
reached the bush. And now there arose above it two pale heads, wrapped
in white, blood-stained handkerchiefs, and sang in enthusiastic tone the
last verse of the song they had heard:

    Was das Lied nicht löset, löst das Schwert!
    Blinkend Heil, umgürte meine Hüften!
    Vor der Schande kannst du Tapfre retten,
    Zierde der Tapfern!



CHAPTER III.

THE OATH OF VENGEANCE.


Speechless with surprise, the youth had listened to the song, and fixed
his large eyes steadfastly on the two officers, whose uniforms and
wounds revealed to him the melancholy fate that had befallen them during
the last few days.

When the two were silent, he approached them with an air of profound
respect.

"Bravo, officers of Auerstadt or Jena," he said, with a voice trembling
with emotion, "permit a poor young wanderer to present his respects to
you, and to thank you, in the name of the German fatherland, for the
wounds on your foreheads. Such wounds are also an 'ornament of the
brave.'" [An allusion to the last line of the original song.]

"And such words are an ornament of a noble heart," exclaimed Schill,
offering his hand to the youth.

He took it with a joyful gesture, and, quickly kneeling down, imprinted
a glowing kiss on the feverish hand of the wounded officer.

"My God!" exclaimed Schill, surprised, "what are you doing? How can a
man kiss another's hand and kneel before him? Rise!"

"I am no man," said the youth, deeply moved. "I am but a poor boy, who
has not yet done any thing for his country, and, perhaps, never will be
able to do any thing for it, but who feels the most profound respect for
those who were more fortunate than he. I, therefore, kiss your hand as
Catholics kiss the hands of their saints and martyrs. For are you not at
the present hour a martyr of German liberty? Hence, sir, give me your
hand, too. Let me press my poor lips on it, also. It is the only way for
me to manifest my profound respect for you."

"No," said Count Pückler, feelingly, "you shall not kiss my hand, but my
cheeks and my lips. Let me embrace you, young man, let me embrace you
for the boon you have conferred on us by your words. Come, sir!"

The young man uttered a joyous cry, and, rising quickly, threw himself
with youthful impetuosity into the count's arms.

"I will and must have my share in the embrace," exclaimed Schill,
smiling; "did not you before expressly request me, comrade, to lend you
my left arm for every embrace? Well, then, here it is."

He quickly wound his left arm around the necks of the others, and
pressed them firmly to his heart. When they withdrew their arms again,
tears were glistening in the eyes of the officers as well as in those of
the youth.

"Grief and adversity cause men easily to fraternize," said Schill, "and
therefore we shall be brethren henceforward."

"You will be my brethren?" exclaimed the young man, joyfully. "You will
permit the poor boy to call two heroes brethren?"

"Heroes!" said Pückler, sighing. "Then you do not know, my friends, that
we were disgracefully defeated and trampled under foot in yesterday's
battle?"

"I know that, but know also that the _luck_ of battles is not the true
standard for the bravery of warriors. _You_ at least did not run, and,
like true heroes, you bear your wounds on your foreheads; your mothers,
therefore, will proudly bid you welcome; your betrothed or your wives
will embrace you with rapturous tears, and your friends will be proud of
your valor."

"Does it not seem almost as though he had heard our mournful and
despondent words, and wished to comfort us?" asked Schill, turning to
the count. "His blue eyes apparently do not behold only our physical
wounds, but also those which cause our hearts to bleed, and he wishes to
apply a balm to them by his sweet, flattering words."

"He wishes to console the poor defeated, and reconcile them to their
fate," said Pückler, nodding kindly to the youth.

"You have a better and more generous opinion of me than I deserve," he
said, sadly bowing his head so as to shake its exuberant mass of long,
fair hair. "I simply told you what I thought, and what every one who
looks at both of you will and must think."

"Would to God you spoke the truth, young man!" said Count Pückler,
mournfully. "Believe me, however, but few will think like yourself; a
great many will rejoice at seeing us defeated and humiliated."

"Instead of bewailing us, they will deride us," exclaimed Schill;
"instead of weeping with us, they will revile us!"

"Who will dare to do so?" exclaimed the youth, in an outburst of
generous anger. "Do you forget, then, that you are in Germany, and that
you have shed your blood for your country? Your German brethren will not
deride you; they will not rejoice at your sufferings; they will hope
with you for a better and more fortunate day when you will get even with
that insolent and hateful enemy, for the battles of Jena and Auerstadt."

"Pray to God, my young friend, that that day may speedily dawn!" said
Count Pückler, heaving a sigh.

"Pray!" ejaculated the young man, impetuously. "In times like ours it is
not sufficient to pray and to hope for divine assistance; we ought
rather to act and toil, and, instead of folding our hands, arm them
either with the sword or with the dagger."

"With the dagger?" asked Schill. "The dagger is the weapon of
assassins."

"Was Moeros an assassin because he wanted to stab Dionysius the tyrant?"
asked the youth. "Was he not rather a generous and high-minded man, whom
our great Schiller deemed worthy of becoming the hero of one of his
finest poems? When the fatherland is in danger, every weapon is sacred,
and every way lawful which a bold heart desires to pursue, to deliver
the country."

"Well, I see already that your heart will choose the right, and not
shrink back from dangers," said Pückler, kindly. "But, in the first
place, tell us which way you are now going to take, that we may know
whether we shall be allowed to accompany you or not."

"I come from Erfurt, where my parents are living," said the young man;
"last night I was at Weimar, and now I am going to do what I have sworn
a solemn oath to my father to do. I am on my way to Leipsic."

"And may I inquire what you are going to do in Leipsic?"

The young man was silent, and a flaming blush mantled for a moment his
delicate, innocent face. "According to my father's wishes, I shall
become there a merchant's apprentice," he said, in a low and embarrassed
voice.

"What! Feeling so generous an enthusiasm for the fatherland and its
soldiers, you want to become a merchant?" asked Schill, in surprise.

The youth raised his blue eyes to him; they were filled with tears.

"I am ordered to become a merchant," he said in a low voice. "My father
is a pious preacher, and hates and detests warfare; he says it is sinful
for men to raise their weapons against their brethren, as though they
were wild beasts, against which you cannot defend yourself but by
killing them. My mother, in former days, became familiar with the
horrors of war; she fears, therefore, lest her only son should fall prey
to them, and wishes to protect him from such a fate. With bitter tears,
with folded hands, nay, almost on her knees, she implored me to desist
from my purpose of becoming a soldier, and not to break her heart with
grief and anguish. My mother begged and wept, my father scolded and
threatened, and thus I was obliged to yield and be a dutiful son. Three
days ago my father administered the sacrament to me, and I swore an oath
to him at the altar to remain faithful to the avocation he had selected
for me, and never to become a soldier!"

He paused, and the tears which had filled his eyes rolled like pearls
over his cheeks.

"Poor friend!" murmured Pückler.

"Poor brother!" said Schill, indignantly. "To be doomed to wield the
yardstick in place of the sword! How can a father be so cruel as to make
his son take such a pledge at the present time?"

"My father is not cruel," said the youth, gently; "his only aim is my
happiness, but he wishes to bring it about in his own way, and not in
mine. It behooves a son to yield and obey. Accordingly, I shall not
become a soldier, but God knows whether it will be conducive to my
happiness. Many a one has already been driven to commit a crime by his
despair at having chosen an unsuitable avocation. But let us speak no
more of myself," he added, shaking his head indignantly, as if he wanted
to drive the tears from his eyes; "let us speak no more of my petty,
miserable grief, but of your great sorrow, which all Germany shares with
you. You know now every thing concerning my affairs, and it only remains
for me to mention my name. It is Staps; 'Frederick Staps' will be my
firm one day, if I should live to see it."

"Your name is Frederick, like that of Prussia's great king," said
Schill, comfortingly, "and who knows whether you will not one day become
a great soldier like him?"

"But I have told you already that I have sworn at the altar never to
become a soldier," said Frederick Staps, sighing. "I shall never break
the oath I have sworn to my father, nor the one either which I have
sworn to myself!"

"The oath that you will become a good and honest man, I suppose?" asked
Pückler.

"It is unnecessary to take such an oath, because that is a matter of
course," said Frederick Staps, quickly. "I swore another oath, but
nobody but God must know it. When the time has come, you shall be
informed of it. Do not forget my name, and when you hear from me one
day, remember this hour and the tears you saw me shed for being
compelled to choose an avocation that is repugnant to me."

"And in order to remember us, you must know who we are," exclaimed Count
Pückler, stating his name.

"And my name is Schill," said the lieutenant. "We fought at Auerstadt
and Jena, and are now wandering about, and seeking for a place where we
may spend the coming night."

"You will find it in the village in the rear of the wood," said
Frederick Staps. "Come, I will guide you back to the village and to the
country parson, to whom I have on my way just presented my father's
respects. He is a good and generous man. You will be kindly received and
nursed by him and his wife; and if French soldiers should come to his
house, he would not betray, but conceal you."

"Oh, what delightful words you have just uttered!" exclaimed Schill,
joyously. "Blessed be your lips which have announced to us that we shall
be saved, for, let me tell you, we should prefer death to French
captivity!"

"I understand that," said Frederick Staps, quietly. "Come, I will guide
you thither."

"And we accept your offer, as friends ought to accept that of a friend,"
said Count Pückler. "We do not say: 'We cause you trouble and loss of
time; let us therefore try to find our way alone;' but we say: 'In these
days of affliction we are all brethren, and we must rely on each other's
assistance.' Come, therefore, brother, and be our guide."

They walked slowly toward the small wood from which Staps had issued.

"You stated you had been in Weimar, and spent a night there," asked
Count Pückler. "How does the place look--what do people say, and who is
there?"

"It looks like a pandemonium," replied Staps. "Nothing is to be heard
but curses, shouts, threats, and screams: nothing to be seen but faces
pale with terror, and fleeing from the pursuing soldiers. The streets
are crowded with men, wagons, and horses. The inhabitants want to leave
the city; they know not whither to escape, and are forced back at the
gates by French soldiers making their entry, or by vehicles filled with
wounded."

"And how is it at the palace? The duchess has fled from the wrath of the
conqueror, I suppose?"

"No, the duchess has remained to beg Napoleon to have mercy on her state
and her husband."

"But is Napoleon already in Weimar?"

"Yes; he came over from Jena this morning. The duchess received him at
the foot of the palace staircase, and did not avert her eyes from his
angry and haughty glances, but looked at him with the proud calmness of
a noble German lady. 'You have not fled, then?' asked Napoleon, harshly.
'Then you do not fear my anger at the senseless and hostile conduct of
your husband?' The duchess looked quietly at him. 'You see, sire, I have
remained because I have confided in your generosity, and wished to
intercede for my husband and my people.' Napoleon looked at her during a
long pause, and her quiet dignity seemed to impress him very favorably.
'That was well done,' he said at last, 'and for your sake, and because
you have reposed confidence in me, I will forgive your husband.'[5] I do
not know what occurred afterward, for I left the palace when Napoleon
had retired to the rooms reserved for his personal use. My cousin, who
is lady's maid of the duchess, told me what I have just related to you."

[Footnote 5: Napoleon's own words.--Vide "Mémoires de Constant," vol.
iv., and "History of Napoleon," by * * * r, vol. ii., p. 109.]

"And you did not hear any thing about our king and his consort?"

"Both are said to be on the way to Magdeburg, where they will remain, if
the pursuing enemy will permit them. Napoleon's hatred and wrath are not
yet satiated, and his latest bulletin is written in the same vulgar
guard-room style as all the recent manifestoes in which he dares to
revile the noble and beautiful queen."

"Then another bulletin has appeared?"

"It was just distributed among the troops when I left Weimar. A soldier,
whom I asked for his copy, gave it to me. Do you wish to read it?"

"Read it to us," said Count Pückler. "Let us rest a little in the shade
of these trees, for I confess I feel greatly exhausted, and my feet
refuse to carry me any farther. And how do you feel, comrade?"

"Do you believe," asked Schill, in a faint voice, "do you believe that I
should not have given vent to my anger at the impudence of that Corsican
who dares to revile our noble queen, if I had had sufficient strength to
speak? Let us sit down and rest. See, there is a splendid old oak. Let
us take breath under its shade."

They walked toward a large oak, which stood at the entrance of the wood,
and the foot of which was overgrown with fragrant green moss. Assisted
by Staps, the two officers seated themselves, and the roots, covered
with soft turf, served as pillows to their wounded heads.

"Oh, how delightful to rest on German soil under a German oak!" sighed
Schill. "I should like to lie here all my lifetime, looking up to the
rustling leaves, and dreaming! Amid the stillness surrounding us, it is
almost impossible to believe that we witnessed yesterday such wild
strife and bloodshed. Is all this reality, or have we had merely an
evil, feverish dream?"

"Touch your forehead; try to raise your right arm, and you will see that
it is reality," said Pückler, laughing bitterly, "and if you should have
any doubt, let our young friend read the latest bulletin issued by our
_triumphator_. But will you promise not to interrupt him, nor to be
angry at what we are going to hear?"

"I promise you to be perfectly calm, for my weakness compels me to be
so. Read, friend Staps. But, pray, let us have the German translation,
for it would be a violation of the peaceful silence of the forest, and
of the sacredness of the German oak, if we should use here the language
of our enemies."

Frederick Staps sat down opposite the officers, on the trunk of a fallen
tree. Drawing a paper from his bosom, he unfolded it, and read as
follows:

"The battle of Jena has effaced the disgrace of Rossbach, and decided a
campaign in seven days. Since the ninth of October we have proceeded
from victory to victory, and the battles of Jena and Auerstadt have
crowned all. The Prussian army is dispersed--almost annihilated. The
king is wandering about without shelter, and the queen will now regret
with bitter tears that she instigated her husband to this senseless and
unjust war. Admirable was the conduct of our whole army, soul-stirring
the enthusiasm of the brave soldiers for their chieftain and emperor.
When there was any momentary difficulty to overcome, the shout of 'Long
live the emperor!' resounded, animating all souls, and carrying away all
hearts. The emperor saw at the most critical moment of the battle that
the enemy's cavalry threatened the flanks of the infantry. He galloped
up to order new manoeuvres, and the front to be transformed into a
square. At every step he was hailed by shouts of 'Long live the
emperor!' The soldiers of the imperial guard were jealous of all the
other corps who participated in the battle, while they alone were
inactive. Several voices were already heard to shout, 'Forward!' The
emperor turned and asked, 'What is that? He must assuredly be a
beardless youth who wishes to anticipate me as to what I ought to do.
Let him wait until he has commanded in twenty battles; then he may claim
to be my adviser.' The whole guard replied to this rebuke by the
unanimous shout of 'Long live the emperor!' and rushed toward the enemy,
when, at length, the order was given to charge. The results of this
battle are from thirty to forty thousand prisoners, three hundred
field-pieces, and thirty standards. Among the prisoners there are more
than twenty generals. The losses of the Prussian army are very heavy,
amounting to more than twenty thousand killed and wounded. Our losses
are estimated at about twelve hundred killed and three thousand
wounded."[6]

[Footnote 6: Fifth bulletin of the Grand Army.]

"Profound silence ensued when Staps had read the bulletin. The two
officers were still lying on the ground, and their dilated eyes gazing
at the roof of foliage above them."

"And we must quietly listen to that," said Schill, after a long pause;
"and our hearts do not break with grief and rage! heaven does not grow
dark, and earth does not open to swallow up the degraded, in order to
save them compassionately from the sense of their humiliation! These
words will be read by the whole of Europe, and all will know that this
insolent conqueror may dare with impunity to speak in insulting terms of
our queen, the purest and best of women!"

"He is the master of the world, and will issue many more bulletins of
this description, and speak in such terms of many more princes and
princesses," said Count Pückler. "He has the power to do so. He needs
only stretch out his hand, and kingdoms fall to ruins--nations are at
his feet, and cry imploringly: 'Let us be your slaves, and lay your hand
on us as our lord and master!' It is useless to resist him. Let us,
therefore, submit."

"No," exclaimed Schill, rising, "no, let us not submit. When a whole
nation arouses itself, and shakes its lion's mane, there is no hand,
even though it were an iron one, that could hold and subdue it."

"But our nation will not rise again--it has been crushed," said Pückler,
mournfully. "It is sleeping the sleep of death."

"No, it has not been crushed. No, it will not die!" exclaimed Schill, in
an outburst of generous rage. "It is only necessary to instill genuine
vitality into its veins, and to awaken it from its lethargy by
soul-stirring exhortations, as our young friend here encouraged and
strengthened us an hour ago by his noble song. Oh, sing again, friend
Staps! Purify the air--which is still infected by the words of the
imperial bulletin--purify it by another German song, and let the native
oak, which has listened to our disgrace, now hear also manly words.
Sing! and may your voice reach our poor soldiers who are closing their
eyes on the battle-field; and may it breathe the consolation into their
ears, 'You die for Germany, but Germany does not die--she lives, and
will rise again!'"

"Yes, I will sing," said Frederick Staps, enthusiastically, "but I wish
that every note issuing from my breast would transform itself into a
sword, and strike around with the storm's resistless fury!"

"In that case all of us, and yourself, too, would be the first victims,"
said Pückler, with a melancholy smile.

"Of what consequence are our lives, if they are given up for the
fatherland?" exclaimed Staps, fervently. "Oh, believe me, I could, like
Mucius Scaevola, lay my hand on the red-hot iron, and not wince, but
sing jubilant hymns, if I thought that my torture would be useful to my
country. Now, I can only sing, only pray, only weep. But who knows
whether I shall not become one day a modern Mucius Scaevola, a modern
Moeros, and deliver the world from its tyrant?"

And suddenly raising his voice, with a radiant face, he began to sing:

    Frisch auf! Es ruft das Vaterland
    Die Männer in die Schlacht.
    Frisch auf! Zu dämpfen Trug und Schand!
    Heran mit Macht, mit Macht!
         Heran und braucht den Männerleib,
         Wozu ihn Gott gebaut:
         Zum Schirm der Jungfrau und dem Weib,
         Dem Säugling und der Braut!

    Denn ein Tyrann mit Lügenwort
    Und Strick und Henkerschwert,
    Uebt in dem Vaterlande Mord,
    Und schändet Thron und Heerd,
        Und will, so weit die Sonne scheint
        Der einz'ge König sein;
        Ein Menschenfeind, ein Freiheitsfeind,
        Spricht er: die Welt ist mein!

    Verhüt' es Gott und Hermann's Blut!
    Nie werde solches wahr!
    Erwache, alter deutscher Muth,
    Der Recht und Licht gebar!
        Erwache! sonder Rast und Ruh,
        Schlag' Jeden der dir droht,
        Und ruf' ihm deutsche Losung zu:
        "Sieg gelt' es, oder Tod!"[7]

[Footnote 7: "Victory or death!" A very popular hymn of that period.]

"Victory or death!" shouted the two officers, raising their hands and
eyes toward heaven.

"When will the Germans sing and act in this manner?" asked Count
Pückler, sadly.

"When we have awakened them!" exclaimed Schill, joyfully. "For that is
now our only task: to arouse the Germans, and to remind them of their
duty and honor. Every one ought to raise his voice for this purpose, and
toil for it. The time is past when the nation was separated from the
army, and when the civilian hated the soldier. All these separate
interests we buried yesterday on the battle-fields of Jena and
Auerstadt. Heaven permitted our army to be defeated for the purpose of
teaching us that its heart was demoralized and its vitality entirely
gone. But Bonaparte, who believes his successes to be due solely to his
own energy and sagacity, is, after all, nothing but the scourge that God
uses to chastise us. And, after chastising us sufficiently, the scourge
will be cast aside, and lie on the ground, trampled under foot and
despised, while we shall rise and become again a glorious nation. But,
in order to bring about this change, it is necessary to arouse the
Prussians, and fan the flames of their patriotism. Every Prussian must
feel and know that he is a soldier of the grand army which we shall one
day place in the field against the so-called grand army of Napoleon,
and, when the call of 'Rally round the flag!' resounds, he must take up
the sword, and proudly feel that the holy vengeance of the fatherland is
placed in his hands."

"But suppose there is no one to utter the cry of 'Rally round the flag!'
how are the people to appear and take up arms?"

"_We_ are there, and _we_ shall exhort the people to arms!" said Schill,
energetically. "Henceforth, we must not wait until the generals call us;
we ourselves must be generals, and organize armies--every one after his
own fashion--according to his influence. We must travel over the
country, and enlist recruits. As we have no standing army, we must form
independent corps, and, by means of raids, harass and molest the enemy.
The strongest lion succumbs when stung by many bees. Every Prussian must
turn conspirator, and prevail on his neighbor to join the great
conspiracy; secret leagues and clubs must be instituted everywhere, and
work and agitate until we are united like _one_ man, and, with the
resistless power of our holy wrath, expel the tyrant who enslaves us!"

"Yes, you are right; we must not give way to timid despondency, but hope
and dare every thing. Every one must become a general, and enlist
troops, to attack the enemy whenever and wherever he can!"

"I shall also enlist my troops, and lead them against the enemy,"
exclaimed Staps, with sparkling eyes. "But my troops will not be made of
flesh and blood. They will be the songs I sing, and one day I shall
march out with them, and challenge the tyrant to mortal combat! Yes, you
are right in saying, 'Every one must fight after his own fashion, and
according to his power and influence;' let me fight, too, after my
fashion!"

"Go and fight, and may the blessings of all the brave follow you!" said
Schill, placing his hand on the head of the youth. "Let us take here,
under the German oak, a solemn oath that we will devote our fortunes,
our lives, and our sacred honor, to the fatherland!"

"Yes," exclaimed Pückler and Staps, "we will take that oath!"

"Let us," said Schill, "then swear to strive for nothing but to deliver
Germany from the grasp of the tyrant."

"We swear," continued Schill, "to regard ourselves from this hour as
soldiers of the grand army one day to battle for our liberties--to leave
nothing undone in enlisting fresh troops--that our life shall be nothing
but an inexorable and never-flagging struggle against the usurper--that
we will rather die than submit. We vow vengeance against him, and
deliverance to the fatherland!"

When all had repeated this oath, Schill said, solemnly, "The German oak
has heard our words, and they are registered on high; now, my friends,
let us go and enter into a new life--a new future. Let us take care of
the body, in order to impart strength to the mind to carry out its
schemes. Come, let us go!"

They passed on, and soon reached the village, guided by Staps to the
parsonage.

The clergyman joyfully received the officers; his wife prepared her best
rooms for them, and pledged herself, like her husband, to protect them
at the risk of her life, if French soldiers should arrive, and search
the house for wounded Prussians.

"Now you are safe, and I can go," said Frederick Staps, when he was
again alone with his friends, their host having withdrawn to prepare
every thing that was necessary for the comfort of his guests. "I cannot
stay here any longer, for I have promised my father to proceed without
delay to Leipsic, and I must keep my pledge to him, as I shall keep it
to you. Farewell, friends; may God protect you, and may your deeds fill
the world with your glory, so that the poor merchant's apprentice in
Leipsic may also hear of it!"

"The poor merchant's apprentice is also a soldier of our grand army of
the future," said Schill; "we have enlisted him, and he will go and
fulfil his duty to his fatherland."

"Yes, you may depend on it he will do his duty," exclaimed Staps, "and
you will hear of him one day. Farewell, and, please God! we shall meet
again!"

"Yes, we shall meet again," said the two officers, cordially shaking
hands with the youth, and taking leave of him.

Staps left the room hastily. When he turned round once more at the door,
and greeted the friends with a nod, they saw that his eyes were filled
with tears.

The clergyman's wife now entered to serve up the dinner she herself had
prepared, and there was added a bottle of old Hock from the wine-cellar.

"In the first place, however," said the clergyman to Schill, "I must see
and dress your arm, sir; I am quite experienced in dressing wounds,
having taken lessons in surgery in order to assist our poor peasants in
case of injuries, and render it unnecessary for them to pay large
doctors' bills. Let me, therefore, be your surgeon, too."

Schill gratefully accepted his kind offer, and after his wife had
brought every thing necessary for dressing a wound, the clergyman
examined Schill's arm, and removed the coagulated blood from it.

"It is a very deep flesh-wound," he said, "fortunately the bone is
uninjured."

"Then I shall soon be able to use my arm again?" asked Schill, joyfully.

"Not for a few weeks yet, unless you wish to run the risk of losing it
entirely. Mortification might set in after the wound has commenced
ulcerating. Hence, you must be very cautious, and live as quietly as
possible. Your hands are now already burning, and your fever will be
very severe. Unfortunately, I have brought up my wine in vain. Both of
you, gentlemen, will not be able to drink it to-day, nor to-morrow, nor
the day after to-morrow either. For the first three days your fever, as
I stated already, will be very serious."

This prediction was fulfilled. For three days the officers were unable
to rise from their couch. They were delirious, and unaware of the danger
menacing them. A French regiment had come to the village to spend the
night, and four of its officers established their headquarters at the
parsonage.

But as soon as the French troops had been descried in the neighborhood
of the village, the clergyman, assisted by his wife and servants, had
removed the wounded, and prepared a safe refuge for them in the hay-loft
of his barn, far from the dwelling-house. He himself remained with them,
and, while his wife received the French officers, and informed them that
her husband was not at home, the good old man was sitting in the
hay-loft beside his guests, nursing them with the kindness of a father
and the skill of an experienced physician. He had locked the door of his
asylum, and a loaded gun and unsheathed sword were within his reach, in
order forcibly to drive back the French, in case they should try to
penetrate into this hiding-place.

But the danger passed, and the fever abated. Four days afterward the two
Prussians were strong enough to continue their journey. The clergyman
himself drove them in his carriage to the neighboring town, where they
bought two horses and departed--not together, however, but by different
routes. Count Pückler took the road to Breslau; Ferdinand von Schill
turned toward Kolberg.

Before parting, they cordially shook hands once more.

"Let us remember the oath under the German oak," said Schill.

"Yes," replied Pückler. "We shall not desert the fatherland, but serve
it with our whole strength, and after that is exhausted, we know how to
die."



CHAPTER IV.

IN BERLIN.


The utmost uneasiness and suspense prevailed in Berlin. Several rumors
had already reached the capital. It was reported that, on the 14th of
October, a battle had taken place between the Prussians and French
forces. To-day was the 18th, and no news had been received; nothing
definite was known about the result of the battle. But the people said,
if it had been favorable to the Prussians, the couriers, to whom joy
would have lent wings, would have reached the capital long since; and
this continued silence and incertitude seemed to the inhabitants of
Berlin more discouraging than any positive intelligence, however
disastrous it might be.

No one had the heart to work longer--no one could be prevailed upon to
follow his usual avocation; all felt paralyzed by a secret terror; and
hastened into the street, as though they hoped some decisive news would
fly through the air and put an end to this dreadful suspense.

All Berlin seemed to have met in the streets on the morning of this 18th
October, and the people hastened in vast crowds toward the house of the
governor of the capital; they consisted to-day not only of the lower
classes of society but the noblest and best had united with them. Men of
mind and education, the representatives of art and science, were to be
seen among them. There was no distinction of rank or position--every one
felt that he was united with his fellow-citizens by the same care,
anxiety, and affection; every one knew that all the thousands
surrounding him entertained the same wishes and apprehensions, and thus
social distinctions were unnoticed. The high-born and the rich, the poor
and the lowly, all felt only that they were Prussians--that they were
Germans; all were animated by one desire; to learn what had been the
result of the battle, and whether the Prussians, faithful to their
ancient military glory, had defeated the enemy, or, like the other
nations, succumbed to Napoleon.

Thousands hastened, therefore, to the residence of the governor of
Berlin, Count von Schulenburg, and called vociferously for him. When the
count appeared on the balcony and asked what the crowd wanted, hundreds
of voices shouted in thundering chorus: "We want to know whether the
army has fought a battle, and whether it was defeated!"

Count Schulenburg shrugged his shoulders, and amid the silence that
ensued his ringing voice was heard to say: "I have not yet received any
definite intelligence; but so soon as I have it, I shall deem it
incumbent upon me to communicate it to the citizens of Berlin."

The governor returned with tottering steps into his house. For a moment
the people remained silent, and seemed still to listen to the words they
had just heard; but suddenly a loud, powerful voice shouted: "If the
governor does not know any thing, perhaps Professor Lange does. He has
established a newspaper for the special purpose of communicating to us
the latest news from the seat of war; let us go to his house and ask him
what the _Telegraph_ says."[8]

[Footnote 8: The _Telegraph_ was a journal founded by a certain
Professor Lange, on the day when the Prussian army left Berlin. In his
prospectus he spoke in the most fulsome terms of the "invincible army of
Frederick the Great," and promised to publish always the latest news
from the seat of war.]

"Yes, yes, let us go to his house and ask him what the _Telegraph_
says!" yelled the crowd. "Where does Professor Lange live? Who can guide
us to him?"

"I can do so," said the same voice that had spoken before. "Professor
Lange lives at 22 Leipsic Street."

"Come, come, let us go to Professor Lange! Let us hear what the
_Telegraph_ says!" shouted the crowd, and hastened across the Opera
Place and Gensdarmes Market down Charlotte Street to the residence of
the journalist.

"The _Telegraph_! the _Telegraph_!" yelled the people. "We want to know
what the _Telegraph_ says! Professor Lange, give us the news from the
seat of war!"

A window on the first floor was hastily opened, and the pale, frightened
face of a gentleman looked out. "What do you want to see me for?" asked
a tremulous and hollow voice. "Why do you mention the _Telegraph_?"

"We want news from the army! We want to know whether it is true that we
have lost a battle!"

"God forbid!" said the gentleman at the window. "I have not received any
news whatever for the last three days; I know only one thing, and that
is, that Cabinet Counsellor Lombard, who was at the headquarters of the
army in Weimar, returned last night to Berlin, and is now at his
residence. Counsellor Lombard, therefore, would be the man to whom you
ought to apply."

"Lombard! Lombard!" shouted the crowd, accompanying the name with bitter
imprecations. When this name was heard, all faces turned gloomy, and
every voice assumed an angry and threatening tone.

"Lombard is to blame for every thing!" grumbled a few here and there,
and "Lombard is to blame for every thing!" was repeated louder and
louder. The excitement was as when a storm, sweeping over the sea,
lashes its waves, until, rising higher and higher, they foam with fury.

"Lombard sides with the French!" reiterated the surging mass. "He has
secretly informed the enemy of all the operations of our army, and if
the Prussians are defeated, he will be glad of it. We will go to
Lombard, and he must tell us all he knows. But woe to him if the news
should be bad!"

And the multitude with savage yells hastened down the street, back to
the Linden, and toward the residence of Cabinet Counsellor Lombard.

All the window-blinds of his house were closed, as they had been for the
last two weeks, since this well-known favorite of Minister von Haugwitz
had repaired to the headquarters of the army at Weimar. But Professor
Lange had stated, perhaps for the sole purpose of diverting the general
attention from himself, and of directing it toward the unpopular cabinet
counsellor, that Lombard had returned, and the people believed him.

"Lombard! Lombard!" shouted hundreds of voices. Eyes which had hitherto
looked only sad and anxious became threatening; many a fist was lifted
up to the closed windows, and many an imprecation uttered.

"If a disaster has taken place, it is Lombard's fault," cried one of the
crowd.

"If it is his fault, he shall and must atone for it," exclaimed another.

"He has no heart for Prussia's honor," said a third. "He is a
German-Frenchman, and would not object if the whole of Prussia should
become a French province. If he knew how to do it, he certainly would
not shrink from it, even should he bring captivity and distress upon the
king and the queen!"

"He has already done much mischief," shouted another. "The Russian army
which was to support ours ought to have been here long ago, but he
detained the dispatches in which the king informed the czar that our
army had advanced against the French. It is his fault that the Russians
have not yet arrived."

"It is his fault that the Russians have not yet arrived!" roared the
wild chorus, and the furious men began to rush toward the house. Many
armed themselves with stones, hurled them at the walls and broke the
windows; others commenced striking with vigorous fists at the closed
door.

"Open the door! open the door! We want to see Lombard! He shall account
for what he has done!" exclaimed the enraged men. "Woe to him if it be
true that we have lost a battle! Woe to him if--"

"Silence! silence!" suddenly thundered a loud, imperious voice. "See,
there is a courier!"

"A courier! A courier!" and all rushed back from the house into the
street; every eye turned toward the horseman, who approached at full
gallop.

As if obeying a military command, the multitude made way for him, but at
every step they closed behind him, and, pressing him on all sides, his
progress was exceedingly slow.

But the courier, with his gloomy mien and pale cheeks, looked like a
bearer of bad news, and when the people had scanned his features, they
murmured, "He brings bad news! A disaster is written on his forehead!"

"Let me pass," he said in an imploring voice; "in the name of the king,
let me pass!" And as he spurred his horse, the bystanders fell back in
alarm.

"'In the name of the king!' the king, then, is still alive?"

"Yes, the king is alive!" replied the courier, sadly. "I have dispatches
from him for the Governor of Berlin and Cabinet Counsellor Lombard."

"And what do these dispatches contain?" asked a thousand voices.

"I do not know, and even though I did, I am not at liberty to tell you.
The governor will communicate the news to the inhabitants of Berlin."

"Tell us the news!" demanded the people.

"I cannot do so; and, moreover, I do not know any thing about it,"
replied the courier, who had now reached Lombard's house, and whose
horse was again so closely surrounded that it was scarcely able to move
its feet.

"Do not detain me, my friends, I beseech you--let me dismount here,"
said the courier. "I must deliver my dispatches to Cabinet Counsellor
Lombard."

"Oh, let him deliver his dispatches. We can afterward compel M. Lombard
to communicate their contents."

"Yes; let him deliver his dispatches," said all; "Lombard shall
presently tell us what they contain."

The crowd stood back on both sides of the door, and busy hands were
ready to assist the rider in dismounting. But before he had been able to
do so, a voice from the rear was heard: "Ask him where the queen is at
present!"

"Yes, yes, where is the queen? where is the queen?"

"The queen?" said he. "I passed her fifteen minutes ago near the city
and delivered dispatches to her, too. The queen? Look there!" And he
pointed to the Brandenburg gate.

A carriage, drawn by six horses, was seen rapidly approaching.

"The queen! It is the queen!" joyfully shouted every one, and the
thousands who had been a moment before so anxious to learn the news, and
to call Lombard to account, rushed toward the carriage. Meantime the
courier, whose presence seemed to be entirely forgotten, dismounted, and
rapped softly at the door. It was at once opened in a cautious manner,
and a voice whispered: "Take your horse into the house. You can
afterward ride through the garden, and out of the back gate to the
governor's residence."

The door was hastily thrown open, and closed as soon as the courier had
entered with his horse. No notice was taken of this movement, for every
one thought only of the queen, and looked anxiously through the closed
coach windows.

"The queen! It is the queen!" exclaimed the people, greeting the beloved
lady in the most rapturous manner. All arms were raised in sign of
respect, and every voice uttered a welcome of "Long live the queen!"

The carriage window was lowered, and Louisa's beautiful face appeared;
but she looked pale and afflicted; her eyes, generally so radiant,
seemed dimmed and tearful; yet she tried to smile, and bowed repeatedly
to her enthusiastic friends, who rushed impetuously toward her, and, in
their exultation, forgetful of the rules of etiquette, seized the reins
and stopped the horses.

"We want to see our queen! Long live our Queen Louisa!" cried thousands
of voices. Those who stood nearest the carriage, and beheld her
countenance, fell on their knees in the fervor of their love, and eyes
that never before had wept were filled with tears; for she seemed as an
angel of sorrow and suffering. She rose, and, leaning out of the coach
door, returned the affectionate greetings of her faithful subjects, and,
weeping, stretched out her arms as if to bless them.

"Long live the queen! Long live Louisa!" they cried, and those who held
the horses, in order to stop the carriage, dropped the reins, rushed
toward the coach door, threw up their hats, and joined in the welcome
cry. The coachman, profiting by this movement, drove onward. The people,
whose desire had been satisfied in having seen their queen, no longer
resisted, and permitted the carriage to roll away.

Louisa closed her coach window, and, sinking back upon the cushions,
exclaimed in a heart-rending tone, "Alas! it is perhaps the last time
that they thus salute me! Soon, perhaps, I shall be no longer Queen of
Prussia!" She buried her face in her hands, and sobbed aloud.

"Do not weep," whispered Madame von Berg, the queen's intimate friend,
who was sitting by her side, "do not weep. It may be a dispensation of
Providence that the crown shall fall from your head for a moment, but He
will replace it more firmly, and one day you will again be happy."

"Oh, it is not for the sake of my own majesty, and for my little worldly
splendor, that I am lamenting at this moment," said the queen, removing
her hands from her face. "I should gladly plunge into obscurity and
death if my husband and my children were exempted from humiliation, and
if these good people, who love me, and are attached to their king,
should not be compelled to recognize a foreigner as their master, and
bow to him!"

"Even though the people should be subjugated at present," said Madame
von Berg, solemnly, "they will rise one day and avenge their disgrace!"

"Would you were a true prophetess!" exclaimed Louisa. "I hope the people
will remain faithful to us in adversity, and never forget their love for
their king! Yes, I will hope for that day, and pray that it may come
speedily. I will weep no more; but remember that I am a mother, and
shall see my children again--not to leave them, but to hasten with them
to my husband, who is waiting for me at Küstrin. In half an hour we must
continue our journey."

Just then the carriage drove past the main guard-house. The soldiers
presented arms, and the drums beat.

A melancholy smile overspread the queen's features. "Do you remember
what Prince Louis Ferdinand said to his mother, on the eve of his
departure to the army?" she asked in a low voice.

"No, your majesty, I do not remember, and it is possible that I never
heard of it."

"The princess believed a defeat of our army to be utterly impossible,"
said the queen. "She thought Prussia was so strong a bulwark that the
proud assault of the French empire would be in vain. 'You are mistaken,'
exclaimed Prince Louis Ferdinand; 'you think nothing will change, and
the drums will always be beaten when you ride out at the gate? On the
contrary, I tell you, mamma, one day you will ride out of the gate, and
no drums will be beaten!' The same will happen to us, my dear--we will
often ride out of the gate, and no drums will be beaten. But here is our
house, and I must hide my tears. I will show a smiling face to my
children."

The queen's carriage stopped for the first time at the doorsteps of the
palace without meeting there the ladies and gentlemen of the court, the
high dignitaries and functionaries who had formerly never failed to wait
on her. She had come without being expected, but on this day of anxiety
and terror the announcement of her arrival would have made no
difference; for every one thought only of himself, and was occupied with
his own safety. Only a few faithful servants, therefore, received her,
and bade her welcome with tearful eyes.

"Where are my children?" exclaimed the queen, anxiously. "Why are they
not here to receive their mother?"

"Your majesty," said the palace-steward, in a low voice, "a courier,
sent hither by the king, arrived last night, unfortunately having failed
to meet with your majesty on the road. The royal princes and princesses
set out two hours ago to Stettin, and thence to Grandenz. Such were his
majesty's orders."

The queen suppressed the cry of pain which rose to her lips, but a
deadly pallor overspread her cheeks. "In half an hour I shall set out,"
she said faintly. "Pack up only the most indispensable articles for me;
in half an hour I must be ready to enter my carriage. I shall, perhaps,
overtake my children in Stettin." And she retired to her room,
struggling to conceal the emotions that so violently agitated her.



CHAPTER V.

QUIET IS THE CITIZEN'S FIRST DUTY.


The people in the meantime, gathering in still greater numbers in the
broad street under the Linden, returned to the house of Lombard, and
saw, to their great disappointment, that the courier was no longer
there.

"Now, we want to know the news contained in the dispatches, and
Counsellor Lombard must tell us," shouted one of the men standing in
front of the house; he then commenced hammering the door with his
powerful fists. Others joined him, and to the measure of this
threatening music the crowd yelled, "The dispatches! the dispatches!
Lombard must come out! He must tell us what the dispatches contain! We
want to know whether our army has been defeated, or has won the battle!"

When no voice replied, nor door nor window opened, the mob, whose anger
grew more menacing, seized once more their former weapons, the stones,
and hurled them at the house. "He shall not escape from us! We will stay
here until he makes his appearance, and replies to our questions!" they
cried. "If he do not come to us, we will go to him and compel him to
hear us!"

"Fortunately, you will not find him at home," whispered Lombard, who was
listening at the door. "Every thing is in good order," he added in a low
voice. "The dear enraged people will have to hammer a good while before
breaking these bolts. By that time I shall be far from here, on the road
to Stettin."

The cabinet counsellor glided away with a sarcastic smile to the back
gate. There stood his wife, weeping piteously and wringing her hands.

M. Lombard, who had hitherto only smiled, now laughed outright. "Truly,"
he said, "it is really worth while to make a scene in consequence of
this demonstration of the people! My dear, I should think our family
ought to know how to manage them! Your father has shaved those stupid
fiends enough, and my father pulled the wool over their eyes,[9] and, as
good children of our parents, we ought to do so too."

[Footnote 9: Lombard's father was a hair-dresser, and his wife's father
a barber. Lombard liked to jest about his descent, particularly at the
dinner-table of some prince or minister. He always alluded to his father
in the following terms: "_Feu mon père de poudreuse mémoire!_"]

"Oh, Lombard, just listen," wailed his wife, "they are knocking at the
door with heavy clubs; we must perish if they succeed in forcing it open
and entering the house. They will assassinate you, for you have heard
their imprecations against you."

"_Ma chère_," said Lombard, composedly, "this is not the first time that
I discover that the people despise and persecute me. I knew it long ago.
These blockheads will never forgive me for being a Frenchman, and for
having, consequently, a predilection for France and her heroic emperor.
And not only they, but the so-called educated and high-born classes
also, hate me intensely. Throughout all Europe I have been branded as a
traitor in the pay of Napoleon. Conspiracies were got up everywhere to
bring about my removal. All the princes of the royal house--nay, the
queen herself, united against me.[10] But you see, my dear, that they
did not succeed after all in undermining my position; and the howling
rabble outside will have no better success. Indeed, the fellows seem to
be in earnest. Their blows shake the whole house!"

[Footnote 10: Lombard's own words.--Vide Gentz's Diary in his
"Miscellanies," edited by G. Schlesier, vol. iv.]

"They will succeed in breaking in," said his wife, anxiously; "and then
they will assassinate all of us."

"They will do no such thing, for they do not come for spoils, but only
for news," said Lombard. "And then, my love, they know just as well as I
the German maxim: 'The people of Nuremberg do not hang anybody unless
they have got him!' but they will not get me, for there comes my
faithful Jean across the yard.--Well, Jean, is every thing ready?" he
said to the approaching footman.

"Yes," he replied. "The carriage with four excellent horses is waiting
for you, sir. I ordered it, however, not to stop at the garden gate, but
a little farther down, in front of another house."

"That was well done, my sagacious Jean. But I hope you did not forget
either to place several bottles of Tokay wine and some roast fowl in the
carriage for me? The ill-mannered rabble outside will not permit me
to-day to lunch at home. Hence I must make up my mind to do so on the
road."

"I have not forgotten the wine nor the roast pheasant, your excellency."

"You have packed up a pheasant!" exclaimed Lombard. "If the noisy
gentlemen outside there knew that, they would be sure to assert that the
Emperor Napoleon had sent it to me as a bribe. Now, Jean, come, we will
set out. The street is quiet, I suppose?"

"Perfectly so. All those who have legs have gathered in front of the
house."

"And all those who have fists are hammering at the door," wailed Mde.
Lombard. "Make haste, Lombard--make haste lest it be too late!"

"You are right. I must go," said Lombard, quietly. "Now listen to what I
am going to tell you. So soon as you hear my carriage roll away, be kind
enough to repair to the balcony, of the first floor and address the
people. Their surprise at seeing you will cause them to be silent for a
moment."

"But, good Heaven! what am I to say to them?" asked Mde. Lombard, in
dismay.

"You are to say to them, 'My husband, Cabinet-Counsellor Lombard, is not
at home. He has gone to the governor of Berlin, Count von
Schulenburg-Kehnert, and the bearer of dispatches has accompanied him.'
Your words will have the same effect as though a pistol were discharged
among a number of sparrows--all of them will fly away. You see, my dear,
there is a very impressive and dramatic scene in store for you, and my
father, _de poudreuse mémoire_, and your father, the barber, would
rejoice in their graves if they could see you haranguing the people from
the balcony. Farewell, my dear, and manage the affair as skilfully as
possible."

He embraced her hurriedly, and was about to leave the garden, leaning on
his servant's arm, and as fast as his gouty feet would permit it; but
his wife suddenly held him back.

"I cannot go to the parlor," she said in terror, convulsively clinging
to Lombard. "Remember, that they are continually hurling stones at our
house. Suppose a stone should be thrown into the window and strike my
head?"

"My dear," said Lombard, laughing, "I do not believe any stone passing
through the window would be immediately dangerous, for you have a hard
head, as I have found out often enough. Farewell, and do as I have told
you, unless you want the rabble to penetrate into your room. Farewell!"

He disengaged himself rather roughly, and hastened, as fast as his
aching and stiffened feet would permit, to the street contiguous to the
garden.

His wife waited until the departure of the carriage announced to her
that her husband had gone. At the same time the voices outside shouted
with redoubled fury, "Lombard! We want to see Lombard!" And their blows
thundered louder than ever at the door.

Mde. Lombard sighed; and, commending her body and soul to God, she
proceeded to comply with her husband's instructions, and went to the
balcony.

Lombard had prophesied correctly; profound silence ensued when the wife
of the cabinet counsellor appeared; hence, every one was able to
understand her words, and no sooner had she uttered them, than the crowd
dispersed, as her husband had told her.

"To the governor! Let us go to the governor!" they cried, as they moved
up the Linden; but they were attracted by a carriage, drawn by six fiery
horses at full gallop. It was the queen, who was about to leave the
capital. She looked even paler and sadder than before, and greeted her
friends on both sides with a heart-rending, melancholy smile. But they
had not time to greet even the queen, or to be surprised at her speedy
departure, as they rushed toward the house of the governor, Count
Schulenburg.

At his residence, also, the windows were covered up, and the gate of the
court-yard closed. But a large white handbill, containing a few lines in
gigantic letters, was posted on the side wall. Thousands of piercing
eyes were fixed on the paper, and an imperious demand was made to the
fortunate man who stood close to the handbill: "Read! Read aloud!"

"I will read it!" answered a loud, powerful voice. "Be quiet, so as to
be able to hear me!"

Profound silence reigned immediately, and every one heard distinctly
the words, which ran as follows:

"_The king has lost a battle. Quiet is the citizen's first duty. I
request all the inhabitants of Berlin to maintain good order. The king
and his brothers are alive_."

The vast multitude burst into a wail of despair; and when silence
ensued, every one seemed paralyzed and stared mournfully at his
neighbor. Suddenly the side-gate of the count's court-yard opened, and a
carriage, followed by a large baggage-wagon, made its appearance.

At first, the people timidly stepped back, and looked on wonderingly.
But no sooner had they recognized in it the governor of Berlin, Count
von Schulenburg-Kehnert--no sooner had they discovered that his carriage
contained a large number of trunks and boxes, and that the wagon was
also filled with baggage, and had satisfied themselves that the governor
intended to leave the capital at this hour of terror, than attempts were
made to prevent him from setting out. The people stopped the horses, and
cried, in tones of exasperation, that it did not behoove the governor to
leave the city while it was in danger, and the inhabitants without
advice and protection.

Count Schulenburg rose in his carriage. Stretching out his arms in an
imperious manner, he demanded silence. When the clamor had ceased, he
said, in a conciliatory tone: "My friends! duty calls me hence, for the
orders of the king must be obeyed. But you shall not say that I have
left the city of Berlin without adequate protection, and that I did not
devote my particular attention to its welfare. I have appointed my
son-in-law, the Prince von Hatzfeld, civil governor, and he will
zealously provide for the security and interests of the people of the
capital. Forward, coachman!"

The coachman was about to comply with his master's orders, but some of
the crowd still dared to resist, and refused to let the horses proceed.

"The governor must stay here!" they shouted; "it is incumbent on him not
to desert the inhabitants of Berlin, but to assist them in the hour of
danger!"

"In the hour of danger?" asked the count, with a wondering air. "Why, I
leave my whole family here--my children and grandchildren! Would I do so
if the enemy threatened the city?"

No one could combat this argument, and reply to the governor's
question. The men, therefore, dropped the reins and fell back, when the
coachman whipped the horses into a gallop.

They gazed after the escaping count, and looked sadly at each other,
asking anxiously: "What shall we do now? What shall we do when the
French come?"

"We will meet them sword in hand and drive them back!" exclaimed a young
man, with a noble face.

"Yes, we will do so," said another. "There are no soldiers here; hence
we ourselves must look out for our own defence. We will form volunteer
companies, occupy the gates, and patrol the streets."

"Our army being defeated, a new one has, of course, to be organized,"
said another. "We must do this; we must hand in our names, and enlist.
Let every one who thinks and feels like myself, follow me to the new
governor. We will apply to him for permission to organize ourselves for
the defence of the city. Come!" Many hastened with ardent impetuosity
from all parts of the crowd to join him. Others, seized with admiration
and respect, opened a passage, through which the quickly-gathered
company of more than three hundred young men marched to the residence of
the Prince von Hatzfeld.

But he did not admit the deputation of these brave men. He sent word to
them, by his adjutant, that they would receive his definite reply at a
later hour. At present he wished them to go home, and avoid, above all,
any riotous proceedings in the streets.

The reply which the Prince von Hatzfeld had promised to the deputation
soon appeared on handbills posted at all the street corners. It was as
follows: "It would be improper to conceal from the inhabitants of Berlin
that French troops may shortly occupy the capital. This unexpected event
cannot fail to produce a most painful impression among all classes. Only
the most implicit confidence in those who take upon themselves the
arduous task of alleviating the inevitable consequences of such an
event, as well as of maintaining order, which has become more desirable
than ever, will be able to avert the terrible fate which the slightest
resistance, or any disorderly conduct, would bring upon the city. The
course recently pursued by the inhabitants of Vienna, under similar
distressing circumstances, must have taught those of Berlin that the
conqueror only respects quiet and manly resignation after such a
defeat. Hence I forbid all gatherings and clamor in the streets, as well
as any public manifestation of sympathy in relation to the rumors from
the seat of war. For quiet submission is our first duty; we should only
think of what is going on within our own walls; it is the highest
interest to which we ought to devote our whole attention."



CHAPTER VI.

THE FAITHFUL PEOPLE OF STETTIN.


The hope of the queen had not been fulfilled. Her children had left
Stettin an hour before she reached the city.

"I shall immediately continue my journey," said she, resolutely.

"Your majesty, I beseech you to remain here," said Madame von Berg. "You
have scarcely had any sleep for the last three nights; last night you
did not leave the carriage at all, and hardly took any food. Oh, think
of the king, of your children, and economize your strength! Take some
rest."

"Rest!" repeated the queen, with a melancholy smile. "There will be,
perhaps, no more rest for me on earth! My heart is filled with
grief--how, then, can I sleep? But you have reminded me of my husband,
of my children, and you are right; I must live for them. Therefore, I
will stop here for an hour and take some refreshment, in order not to
give way under the heavy burden weighing down my mind. Come, we will
alight and go into the house."

Madame von Berg made a sign to the footman to open the coach door, and
followed Louisa into the royal villa, to the rooms usually occupied by
their majesties during their visits to Stettin. "When I was last in this
room," whispered the queen, "the king and the crown prince were with me.
There was nothing but joy in my heart. I was a happy wife, a happy
mother, and a happy queen! And, to-day, what am I?" She heaved a
profound sigh, and, sinking down on the sofa, pressed her face upon the
cushions. "Into what an abyss I have been hurled from my heaven!" she
murmured in a low voice. "Once a happy sovereign--now a poor, fleeing
woman, who can excite only pity. Oh, mother, mother, God be praised that
you do not behold my distress!" She clasped her hands, and her trembling
lips whispered prayers to heaven. Her large blue eyes were raised with
an expression of fervent supplication, and tears rolled like pearls over
her cheeks. She sat a long while pondering over her misfortunes, and
shuddering at the prospects of the future.

Finally, Madame von Berg ventured to approach and arouse her from her
meditation.

"Your majesty," she said, in an imploring voice, "you promised to take
rest, for the sake of the king and of your children. Remember the burden
of care weighing down the heart of his majesty. Remember that his grief
would be more intense if he should see your eyes reddened with weeping,
and find you prostrated in your distress."

"He shall not see it," said Louisa. "In his presence I will conceal my
tears, and seem hopeful and courageous. Let me, therefore, now at least,
pour out my overwhelming sorrow, for tears are the only consolation of
the afflicted. When I am with my husband once more, I shall try to
smile, and only weep in secret. Are you now satisfied, my faithful
friend?"

"Your majesty had graciously promised me to take some refreshment, but
the footman has long since announced that dinner is ready."

"Come, Caroline, we will eat," said the queen, rising hastily, and
laying her hand on her friend's shoulder.

She kept her word, and did eat a little, trying to become more cheerful
by conversing with Madame von Berg about her children and her
approaching reunion with her husband.

"Believe me, Caroline," she then said gravely, "it is not vanity and
longing for worldly splendor that causes me to bewail our present
trouble. For my part, I would gladly lead a private life, and be
contented in retirement and obscurity, if I could only see my husband
and my children happy at my side. But the king is not allowed to be as
other men are--merely a husband and father; he must think of his people,
of his state, and of his royal duties. He is not at liberty to lay down
his crown any more than we to destroy voluntarily the life we have
received from God. 'With it or on it,' said the heroic mothers of Sparta
to their sons, when delivering to them the shield with which they went
into battle. And thus the king's ancestors, who have bequeathed the
crown to him, call from their graves: 'With it, or buried under it!' It
is the inheritance of his fathers, which he must leave to his children;
he must fight for it, and either triumph or perish with it. That is the
reason why I weep, and see nothing but years of disaster and bloodshed
in store for me. Prussia must not make peace with Napoleon; she must
not, in hypocritical friendship, give her hand to him who is her mortal
enemy. She must remain faithful to the alliance which her king has sworn
on the coffin of Frederick the Great to maintain; and France will resent
this constancy as though it were a crime. But, in spite of her anger, we
must not recede; we must advance on our path if we do not wish to lose
also our honor, and if history is not to mention the name of Frederick
William III. in terms of reproach. Germany hopes that Prussia will save
her--the whole of Europe expects us to do our duty to the fatherland,
and this duty is to wage war against the tyrant who wants to subjugate
Germany, and transform her into a French province--to resist him as long
as we have an inch of territory or a drop of blood in our veins! See, my
friends, such are the thoughts that move my heart so profoundly, and
cause me to weep. I clearly foresee the great misfortunes that will
crush us in case we should proceed on the path which we have entered,
but I am not allowed to wish that Prussia should turn back, for we may
be permitted to be unfortunate, but never to act dishonorably. And I
know these to be the king's views, too--he--but hark, what is that?" she
interrupted herself. "Did it not sound as if a noisy crowd were
approaching? The tumult draws nearer and nearer! If they are French
soldiers, I am lost!" She rushed to the window, and looked anxiously
down on the street. A vast multitude approached, yelling with rage, and
threatening with their hands a pale, trembling man walking between two
others who had seized him, and whose eyes closely watched every motion
he made. That man was Cabinet-Counsellor Lombard, who, on his escape
from Berlin, had safely reached Stettin.

Just as he was about entering his carriage, in order to leave the latter
city, a few of the bystanders recognized and detained him. Those who
were in the streets soon gathered around and curiously looked on during
his altercation with the men who had stopped him.

Suddenly one of them turned to the crowd and exclaimed in a loud voice:
"Do not permit this fellow to depart. It is Lombard, the Frenchman, the
traitor; he has assuredly come to Stettin in order to prevent the queen
from continuing her journey, or to inform the enemy whither she is
going. Let us arrest him, that he may not betray her!"

"Yes, yes, arrest him; do not release him until long after the queen's
departure," cried the people. Threatening men surrounded the traitor on
all sides, and anxiously scanned his pale, cowardly face.

"Let me go, kind friends, let me go!" begged Lombard, and now all his
arrogance and haughtiness had disappeared. "You do me the greatest
injustice; I am a faithful servant of the king, and have come to Stettin
in order to wait on her majesty, and to offer my services to her."

"He lies! he lies!" said those who had recognized him. "Let us go with
him to the royal villa; the queen is there. If she wants to see him, she
will order him to be admitted; if not, he shall witness her departure."

"Yes, he shall witness her departure," exclaimed the rest approvingly;
"let us go to the royal villa!"

Dragged, pushed, and carried along, Lombard arrived, followed by
thousands, at the royal residence, which was situated at the lower end
of Broad Street, near the parade-grounds.

The carriage and horses stood in front of the house, and every thing was
ready for the queen's departure. But Louisa was still at the window, and
looked from behind the curtains down on the vast mass which filled the
whole street. Suddenly she uttered a low cry; and hastily placing her
hand on her friend's shoulder, she pointed to the street. "Look," she
whispered, trembling, "look! there is the evil demon who has done so
much to bring about the present calamities of our country; it is
Lombard, my most dangerous, nay, I must say, my only enemy! He hates me,
because he knows that I distrusted him, and asked the king for his
dismission. He has dealt treacherously with Prussia--I know and feel it,
and felt convinced of it long before this time. The presence of this man
proves that some new calamity is menacing me, for he is plotting my
ruin. I wonder what brought him here?"

"Let me go!" cried Lombard just then, in a loud and ringing voice. "Let
me go! I will and must see the queen!"

"See me?" said Louisa, in terror. "No, I will not see him; I have
nothing to do with him."

In her excitement, and anxious to see what would occur, she came forth
from behind the curtain, and appeared in full view at the window. The
people greeted her with loud cheers, and then turned their eyes again
toward Lombard. He had also seen her, and now raised his hands in a
suppliant manner, saying: "Oh, I beseech your majesty, call me up to
your room! I have come to offer my services and to communicate important
news. Grant me an audience!"

But she did not stir; she had apparently not heard his words, and her
eyes, usually so gentle, now looked gloomy and angry.

"The queen does not call him!" exclaimed hundreds of voices on the
street. "She does not want to have any thing to do with him! He is a
traitor."

"What have I done, then, kind friends, that you should call me a
traitor?" asked Lombard. "State the crimes you charge me with, so that I
may justify myself!"

"We will state them to you!" said the men who had detained him and who
were wealthy and highly-esteemed merchants of Stettin.

"Yes, yes, Mr. Grunert, and Mr. Pufahl, state his crimes to him, and
prove to him that he is a traitor!"

"We will; be quiet and listen!" replied Mr. Grunert.

"The people are going to sit in solemn judgment over him," whispered the
queen; "they will ferret out his crimes and punish him for them!"

Breathless silence reigned now. A chair was brought from one of the
adjoining houses, and Lombard compelled to mount on it, so that every
one might be able to see him. It was a strange sight, that of his
tottering, feeble form, with a pale and terror-stricken face, rising
above the crowd, whose eyes were all turned toward him, and who cast
glances like daggers at him.

"He is a traitor, and I will prove it to him," repeated Mr. Grunert,
closely approaching Lombard. "In 1803, when the king sent him to
Brussels to negotiate with Bonaparte, about an honorable peace between
Prussia and France, he allowed himself to be bribed. He exercised an
influence humiliating and disadvantageous to us; but Bonaparte bribed
him by paying him the sum of six thousand _Napoleons d'or_. Deny it if
you can!"

"I deny it," replied Lombard. "It is true, I suffered myself to be duped
by that monster for a moment. When I saw Bonaparte in 1803 in Brussels,
he managed to inspire me with confidence in his magnanimity and
greatness of character. But the deception did not last long, and soon I
perceived that this incarnate fiend would not stop in his career until
he had destroyed all existing thrones and states.[11] But I deny ever
having received money from him--I deny ever having accepted any
presents from him. And the best proof of it is that I have not any
property whatever, but I am as poor as a church mouse. My wife has
scarcely a decent parlor for the reception of her friends; and as for
myself, a plain arm-chair and a tobacco-pipe were always the goal of my
wishes."

[Footnote 11: Lombard's own words.--Vide Gentz's "Miscellanies," vol.
ii., p. 194.]

"You are poor, because you squander at the gaming-table and in secret
orgies what you obtain by your intrigues," said Grunert, sternly. "Your
poverty does not absolve you, for it is the direct consequence of your
dissipated life. You are a traitor. It was owing to your machinations in
the interest of Napoleon that our army, last year, when it ought to have
taken the field with the Austrian and Russian forces against France, was
placed so late on the war-footing, and finally returned to its garrisons
without having drawn the sword. You are to blame for the disgraceful
treaty of Vienna, for Count Haugwitz is merely a tool in your hands. You
rule over him. You laughed and rejoiced when the treaty of Vienna had
been concluded, for you are a descendant of the French colony of Berlin,
and you have no heart for the honor of Germany and Prussia."

"He is a traitor!" cried the people; "do not let him go! Detain him! He
shall not betray the queen!"

The crowd approached Lombard in the most menacing manner, and were about
to drag him from his chair, but Grunert and Pufahl warded them off, and
protected him with their broad and vigorous bodies.

"You do not yet know all he has done," exclaimed Mr. Pufahl, in a
powerful voice. "I will tell you about the last and most infamous
instance of his treachery. It is his fault that we lost the battle of
Jena--his fault alone."

"What am I to hear?" whispered Louisa.

Perfectly beside herself, she approached closer to the window, and
listened in breathless suspense to every word that was uttered.

"Well, let me tell you what Lombard has done," added Mr. Pufahl. "In the
middle of last month our king sent Lieutenant-Colonel von Krusemark with
an autograph letter to St. Petersburg, in which he informed the czar
that he intended to declare war against France, and requested the latter
to send him the assistance that had been agreed upon between them.
Lieutenant-Colonel von Krusemark was accompanied by a single footman
only, whom he had taken into his service for this special purpose, and
who had been warmly recommended to him. During the whole journey the
colonel kept the dispatches on his bare breast. It was only when he had
arrived at St. Petersburg that he laid them for a little while upon the
table, in order to change his dress, and deliver them immediately to the
czar. The servant was engaged in arranging his clothes. M. von Krusemark
went for a minute into an adjoining room, and when he returned, the
footman had disappeared with the dispatches. All the efforts made by
Krusemark and the police to recover the important papers were fruitless.
They found neither them nor the servant. Krusemark, therefore, had to
send a courier to Berlin, and ask for new instructions. This caused a
delay of several weeks, in consequence of which the Russian army was
unable to be here in time to join our troops and assist them in
attacking the French. We would not have lost the battle of Jena, if the
king's dispatches had been delivered to the Emperor of Russia at an
earlier moment, and if his army had set out in time for the seat of war.
We would not have lost the battle, if the dispatches had not been
stolen. Now listen to what I am going to tell you: _That footman had
been recommended by Lombard to Lieutenant-Colonel von Krusemark, and was
a near relative of the former_!"

"He is a traitor!" cried the people, "it is his fault that we lost the
battle of Jena! But he shall atone for it! Woe to the traitor!"

"Oh, your majesty!" exclaimed Madame von Berg, in terror, "just see! the
furious men are dragging him from his chair. They will assassinate him.
Have mercy on him and save his life!"

"Yes," said the queen, stepping back from the window, "yes, I will
protect him, but I will also protect myself."

And hurrying across the apartment, she opened the door of the anteroom,
where the major of the garrison of Stettin and a few staff-officers were
assembled.

"Major," said she, in a commanding voice, "hasten down-stairs, and
arrest Cabinet-Counsellor Lombard. Take him to the guard-house, where
you will detain him until the king sends you further orders. I will
report in person to his majesty what I commanded you to do."

It was high time to interfere, in order to save Lombard's life. The
enraged people had already thrown him down, and, regardless of the
supplications of the two merchants, commenced belaboring him
unmercifully, when the major appeared with a few soldiers and police
officers.

"Order! order!" he called in a loud voice. "Order, in the name of the
queen!"

The noise immediately died away; and those who had already seized
Lombard turned around and stepped respectfully aside to let the major
pass.

"In the name of the queen," he repeated, placing his hand on Lombard's
shoulder, and assisting him to rise, "I arrest you, Cabinet-Counsellor
Lombard! You will accompany me to the guard-house."

But Lombard, unable to stand, had sunk down on the chair, half dead with
terror.

"You see, sir, I am unable to accompany you," he groaned, faintly, "I
cannot walk."

"My soldiers will carry you, then," said the major; making a sign to
them, he added, "Take the prisoner in your arms, and carry him to the
guard-house."

Amid the loud applause of the crowd the order was immediately obeyed.
The soldiers seized Lombard, and started off with him. A large number
followed, laughing and deriding him, and congratulating each other that
their queen would now be able to continue her journey uninterruptedly,
as the traitor had been arrested.

After reaching the guard-house, M. Lombard was locked up in one of the
common cells, but the major dared not condemn the influential and
powerful friend of Minister von Haugwitz to lie on the hard bench of the
criminals, and to eat the ordinary prisoner's fare. He, therefore, sent
to the first hotel in Stettin, and requested the landlord to furnish
Lombard with bedding and food, and to send both immediately. But the
soldiers returned without having obtained either one or the other.

"Well, will the landlord send the articles?" asked the major.

"No, sir," was the reply; "the landlord declined doing so. He said, he
would not furnish a traitor with any thing, no matter what price he
offered him."

The major tried in vain to look angry. The reply pleased him just as
much as the chastisement inflicted on Lombard by the people had pleased
him previously.

"Then go to another landlord," he said, "and make the same request of
him. If he should also decline complying with it, go to a third. In
short, go and find a landlord who is willing to send bedding and food to
Cabinet-Counsellor Lombard."

The people, who had gathered in front of the guard-house, heard the
words of the soldiers as well as the renewed order of the major, and
accompanied them to find a landlord willing to furnish bedding and food
for the traitor.

An hour elapsed before they returned, still accompanied by the crowd,
whose numbers had vastly increased. The major was in Lombard's cell, and
had left orders for the soldiers to report to him there. He anticipated,
perhaps, the answer they would bring back to him, and wished the
prisoner to hear it.

He who had hitherto sat at tables laden with delicacies and slept only
on silken beds--the epicurean and sensual spendthrift--lay on the hard
wooden bench, groaning with pain and terror, when the soldiers entered
his cell. The major stood at the window, and drummed on the panes.

"Well," he said, "do you at length come, and bring bedding and food for
M. Lombard? But why did you tarry so long, you lazy fellows? Did you not
know that until your return he would have to lie on the bench here like
a common felon?"

"We could not return at an earlier time, sir," replied they. "We have
gone from hotel to hotel; we have informed all the landlords in Stettin
of your orders, and requested them to furnish Cabinet-Counsellor Lombard
with bedding and food. But all of them made the same reply--all of them
answered: 'Tell the major that I shall not comply with his orders. I
will not furnish a traitor with any thing!'"

"Oh!" groaned Lombard; "then they want me to die with my sick, bruised
body on the hard boards here!"

"No!" exclaimed the major, "I will obtain another couch for you. I will
immediately go to the governor and procure an order from him that will
compel the hotel-keepers to furnish you with the necessary articles."

Half an hour afterward he returned to Lombard, who had meanwhile vainly
tried to sleep.

"Now, sir," said the major, "your wishes will soon be fulfilled. The
governor has ordered the proprietor of the hotel _Zum Kronprinzen_,
under pain of severe punishment, to furnish you with all necessaries,
and I have sent some of my men to him with this written order. They will
doubtless speedily return."

A few minutes later, in fact, the door opened, and the soldiers carried
a bed into the cell; two others followed with smoking dishes.

"Well," said the major, "then the landlord of the hotel that I sent you
to has no longer refused to give you the required articles? The
governor's order had a good effect."

"Yes, sir, it had a good effect. But the proprietor of the hotel _Zum
Kronprinzen_ sends word to you, that inasmuch as the governor had issued
so stringent an order, nothing remained for him but to obey; but as soon
as he should be compelled no longer to furnish M. Lombard with any
thing, he would smash the dishes and plates from which the cabinet
counsellor had eaten, and burn the bedding on which he had slept."

M. Lombard had apparently not heard these mortifying words. Assisted by
his footman, who had been sent for, he hastily rose, and sat down at the
table to dinner.

In the evening the major repaired with a few officers to the hotel, and
inquired for the landord.

He came in, somewhat confused, and convinced that the major would
censure him for his conduct. The latter, however, went to meet him, and,
with a kindly smile, offered him his hand. "Sir," he said, "these
gentlemen and I have taken it upon ourselves to express to you, in the
name of all our comrades, our delight at the brave and manly reply you
made to-day, when compelled to furnish Lombard, the traitor, with food
and bedding. The officers of the garrison have resolved to board with
you, for we deem it an honor to be the guests of so patriotic a man."



CHAPTER VII.

THE QUEEN'S FLIGHT.


Louisa waited till Lombard had been carried away amid the jeers of the
people; then, accompanied by her friend, she hastened down-stairs in
order to continue her journey. Many persons were still assembled in the
street, who, instead of following Lombard, had preferred to see the
queen once more. They received her with enthusiastic cheers, and
heartily wished her a safe journey.

"Give our best wishes to our king, and tell him that we will be faithful
to him as long as we live!" exclaimed a voice from the crowd.

"We thank the queen for ordering the traitor to be arrested!" exclaimed
another. "Now we need not have any fears for her, and know that she is
able to continue her journey without incurring any danger whatever."

Louisa greeted her subjects smilingly, and lowered the windows of the
carriage for the purpose of returning their salutations, and of being
seen by them.

"Yes," she said, when the carriage rolled through the gate into the
high-road, "yes, I hope the prophecy of these good men will be
fulfilled, and that I shall safely reach my destination. Now that
Lombard has been arrested, I am satisfied of it, for he had followed me
in order to inform the enemy of my whereabouts; I feel convinced of it.
But the judgment of Heaven has overtaken him, and he has received his
punishment. Oh, how dreadful it must be to stand before the people with
so bad a conscience, so pale and cowardly a face, and to be accused by
them! We are able to bear up under the greatest afflictions when our
soul is free from guilt! And therefore I will meet the future
courageously and patiently, hoping that God will have mercy on us.
Henceforth there will be but one duty for me, and that is, to be a
faithful mother, and a comforter to my husband in his misfortunes. Oh,
Caroline, my heart, which was lately, as it were, frozen and dead, is
reawakening now--it is living and throbbing with joy, for I shall see my
husband and my children! If all should forsake us, love will remain with
us, and he whose heart is full of love will not be forsaken by the
Lord."

She leaned back and closed her eyes. Profound peace was depicted on her
handsome face; her brow was calm and cloudless, and a sweet smile played
on her lips. Grief had not yet marked this noble and youthful
countenance with its mournful yet eloquent traces, and its handwriting
was not yet to be read on her expansive forehead.

"Oh," whispered her friend to herself, contemplating the beautiful
slumbering queen, "oh, that grief might pass away from her like a dark
cloud--that no thunderbolt burst forth from it and strike that beloved
head! But I am afraid the lightning will at last blight all the blossoms
of her heart. O God, give her strength, nerve her in her sufferings, as
Thou hast blessed her in her happiness! She is sleeping; let her slumber
be peaceful and refreshing, so that it may invigorate her mind!" Madame
von Berg leaned cautiously, in order not to disturb the queen, into the
other corner of the carriage, which rapidly drove along the high-road.

The journey was continued uninterruptedly from station to station; in
every town and village the people, as soon they had recognized her,
hastened to procure fresh horses for her, and crowds gathered everywhere
to cheer her on her way. She had already passed through Frankfort, and
stopped in the village of Rettwein in front of the superintendent's
house. The footman entered and asked in her name for another set of
horses. The superintendent looked at him uneasily and gloomily. "I will
get them directly," he said; "I will go myself to the stable and harness
them, in order not to detain the queen unnecessarily." He left the house
hastily, and the footman returned to the carriage.

Louisa had risen and contemplated with a melancholy air the deserted
landscape. For the first time since the beginning of her journey she was
not welcomed on her arrival. Nobody seemed to know or care that it was
the queen who was seated in the carriage. Only a few tow-headed
peasants' children, in ragged, dirty dresses, rushed toward the
superintendent's house and stared at her, without saluting or thanking
her for her kindly nods.

"We shall frequently ride out of the gate, but no drums will be beaten,"
murmured she, with a faint smile, and sank back on the cushions.

Time passed, and no horses made their appearance. The queen glanced
uneasily at her watch. "We have been here nearly an hour," she said;
"this long delay renders me uneasy."

She rose once more and looked again out of the coach window. The same
silence prevailed. The children were still in front of the house, with
their fingers in their mouths staring at the carriage. At a distance the
dull lowing of the cows in their stables and the barking of dogs were to
be heard. No human being, except the few children, was to be seen; even
the superintendent did not make his appearance, although he knew that
the queen was waiting at his door. Just then, however, a laborer, in a
long blouse, with heavy wooden shoes, came out of the house and
remained at the door, staring with his small blue eyes at the royal
carriage.

"I do not know why," murmured Louisa, uneasily, "but this silence
frightens me; it fills my heart with a feeling of anxiety which I cannot
well explain. It seems to me as though every thing around me were
breathing treachery and mischief, and some great danger were menacing
me. Let us set out--we must leave this place. Why do not the horses
come?"

"Will your majesty permit me to call the footman, and ask him to hurry
up the postilion?" said Madame von Berg, leaning out of the window.

"Tell them to make haste," she said to the approaching footman. "Her
majesty wishes to continue her journey immediately."

"The horses are not yet here," exclaimed he anxiously; "the
superintendent promised he would fetch and harness them himself, and he
does not return."

Some one set up a loud, scornful laugh, which reached the queen's ears.
She bent forward and looked uneasily at the laborer who was standing at
the door with folded arms. The footman turned, and asked him,
indignantly, why he laughed. The man looked at him with twinkling eyes.
"Well," he said, "I laugh because you are looking for horses, and have
been waiting here for an hour already. But they will not come, for the
superintendent has driven two of them through the back gate into the
field, and then mounted the third, and rode off!"

The queen uttered a low cry, and placed her hand convulsively on her
heart; she felt there a piercing pain, depriving her of breath, and
turning her cheeks pale.

"Then the stable is empty?" said Madame von Berg.

"Yes, and there is not a hack even in the whole village; the peasants
have taken them all to Küstrin, lest the French should take them."

"Are the French, then, so near?"

"The superintendent said this morning he had seen them at Bärwalde, two
miles from our village."

"Let us start--let us set out without a minute's delay," said Louisa,
anxiously grasping her friend's arm. "The superintendent is a traitor,
and has left the village in order to inform our enemies that I am here.
Oh, Caroline, we must escape, and if I cannot do otherwise, I shall
pursue my journey on foot!"

"No, your majesty, there must and will be some expedient," replied
Caroline, resolutely. "Permit me to alight for a moment, and speak to
the postilion who drove us hither."

"I shall alight with you," exclaimed the queen, rising and trying to
open the coach door.

Madame von Berg wished to keep her back. "What," she exclaimed in
dismay. "I am sure your majesty will not--"

"Speak personally to the postilion? Yes, I will. He is a human being,
like all of us, and at this hour happier and more enviable than we are.
Perhaps he will have mercy on his sovereign!"

She hastily left the carriage, and ordered the footman to conduct her to
the postilion, who, during the last hour, had fed and watered his
horses, and was just about to ride back with them to his station. He
hastened to obey the order, and approached the queen, who stood
trembling near the carriage by the side of Madame von Berg.

"Speak to him first," said Louisa to her friend.

"You have heard that we cannot get any other horses," said Madame von
Berg. "Her majesty wants you, therefore, to drive us to the next
station."

"That is impossible, madame," said the postilion; "my horses are
exhausted, and I myself am so weary that I am almost unable to stand,
for I have been on horseback for three days. We had to take fugitives to
Küstrin all the time."

"If you drive us thither rapidly and without delay, you shall be
liberally rewarded; you may depend on it," replied Madame von Berg.

"All the rewards of the world would not do me any good, inasmuch as
neither I nor my horses are able to continue the journey to Küstrin," he
replied, shrugging his shoulders. "I would gladly comply with your
request, but I cannot."

"You cannot?" asked the queen, in her sonorous voice, "have you any
children?"

"Yes, madame, I have children. Two boys and a girl."

"Well, suppose you should hear that your children were in Küstrin, that
some great danger was menacing them, and that they were anxiously crying
for their father. What would you do then?"

"I would gallop with lightning speed, not caring if the trip killed my
horses, could I only reach my children!"

"Well," said the queen, with a gentle smile, "although you are a father,
and love your children so ardently, yet you are cruel enough to refuse
your assistance to a mother who wishes to hasten to hers? I beseech you
take me to them, for they are looking with anxiety for me." As she
uttered these words her eyes filled with tears, and her lips trembled.

The man was silent, and gazed with an air of surprise at Louisa's
beautiful face. "Madame," he said, after a pause, "pray enter the
carriage again. I will take you to Küstrin--you shall be with your
children in an hour. But I tell you, madame," he added, turning to
Madame von Berg, "I do not go for the sake of the reward you have
promised me, and I will not take any money. I go because it would be
infamous not to reunite a mother and her children. Now, make haste." He
turned round without waiting for a reply, and began to prepare for the
journey.

The queen gazed after him with beaming glances, and then raised her eyes
to heaven. "I thank Thee, my God," she murmured. "Give me strength that
I may still believe in the human heart, and that such a discovery as I
have made to-day as to the treachery of one man may not harden my heart!
Come, Caroline, let us enter; in an hour we shall be with my children;
oh, in an hour, I shall see the king!" An expression of delight
overspread her face like sunshine, and she hastened to the carriage with
light, elastic steps.

The postilion whipped the horses. The village was soon left behind, and
they proceeded rapidly toward their destination.

"How fast the kind-hearted man drives!" said Louisa. "He does not do so
for the sake of the queen, but because he thinks of his children, and
commiserates a mother's heart. Oh, I confess, my heart was painfully
moved by the discovery of the superintendent's treachery, but the
all-merciful God sends me this excellent man. I shall ever remember him,
and, please God, I will reward him for his kindness, by taking care of
his children."

"But I trust your majesty will also remember the traitor, and cause him
to be punished," said Madame von Berg, indignantly. "He has committed a
great crime against his queen and against his fatherland, and ought to
be called to account."

"If he has deserved it, let God punish him," said Louisa, gently. "I
shall try to forget him, and I beg you not to say any thing about it to
the king. I am afraid, my dear, we should have much, very much to do, if
we were to punish all those who betray us. The superintendent was the
first faithless subject we met, but he will not be the last. Let us
forget him. But what is that? Why does the postilion drive so fast? It
seems as if the carriage had wings. What does it mean?"

In fact, they dashed along the road like an arrow, and, as though this
were not sufficient, the anxious voice of the footman was heard
shouting, "Forward, postilion! Forward, as fast as possible!"

"There is something wrong, and I must know what it is!" exclaimed the
queen. She rose from her seat, and opened the front window. "Tell me
honestly and directly," she said to the footman, "why does the postilion
drive so rapidly?"

"If your majesty commands me to do so, I must tell the truth," replied
he. "We are pursued by French chasseurs. They are galloping behind us on
the high-road. I can already distinguish their uniforms."

"And shall we be able to escape them?" asked Louisa, with the semblance
of perfect calmness.

"We hope so, your majesty. If the horses can run fifteen minutes longer,
we are safe, for then we shall be in Küstrin."

"Tell the postilion that I shall provide for the education of his
children, if we reach Küstrin in fifteen minutes," replied the queen.

She then sank back for a minute like a bruised reed. A heart-rending
scream escaped her, and she raised her hand in despair. Presently she
again became composed and looked back from the window, so as to be able
to see the approaching danger.

Like lightning they proceeded along the high-road, but the chasseurs
gained upon them, and the distance rapidly decreased. The queen's
piercing eyes could already distinguish the faces of her enemies. She
heard the loud shouts and oaths with which they sought to increase their
speed. She leaned back, and a fearful pallor overspread her cheeks, but
she was still calm.

"Listen to what I tell you, Caroline," she said, in a grave, solemn
voice, "I cannot survive the disgrace of being taken prisoner by the
French. I will not adorn, as a modern Cleopatra, the triumphal entry of
the modern Augustus. To live and to die honorably is my motto. I prefer
death to ignominious captivity. Tell it to my husband and my children.
And now to the will of God I commit myself. The moment that a French
soldier extends his hand toward me, this friend will deliver me!"

She drew a small dagger from her bosom, and grasped it firmly and
resolutely.

"What are you going to do?" exclaimed Caroline, in terror.

"Hush!" replied the queen, "my resolution is irrevocable. Sooner death
than the disgrace of ridicule! Let us see what is going on."

She leaned once more out of the carriage, which was still dashing along
with the utmost rapidity. The chasseurs were fast approaching. The
panting and snorting of the foaming horses were already heard--the
flashing, triumphant eyes of the soldiers distinctly seen. Every second
brought them nearer and nearer. Louisa withdrew her head. Her right hand
firmly grasped the dagger. In breathless exhaustion, and as pale as
though dying, she awaited her fate.

Suddenly they rolled with great noise over a paved street--they
stopped--and Louisa thought it was an angel's voice, when she heard the
words, "There is Küstrin! We are saved!"

She started up, and looked once more out of the window. Yes, she was
saved. The chasseurs were galloping off again, and close at hand was the
first gate of the fortress of Küstrin. She had constantly looked back
toward the pursuing enemy, not toward her destination, and now that she
was saved, it seemed to her a miracle, for which she thanked God from
the bottom of her heart.

They passed through the gate, but could only drive at a slow pace. An
immense chaos of vehicles loaded with bedding, furniture, trunks, cases,
boxes, and bags, obstructed the passage. Shrieks, lamentations, and
oaths, resounded in the wildest confusion. All the inhabitants of the
suburbs and neighboring villages had fled hither with their movables, to
seek protection behind the walls of the fortress.

The queen had again concealed the dagger in her bosom, and looked up to
heaven with eyes full of fervent gratitude.

"I am saved!" she whispered; "I shall see again my husband and my
children. Life is mine again!"

The passage became wider. They were able to advance more rapidly, and
soon reached the market-place. A general in uniform was just crossing
it. When he was passing near her, the queen joyfully exclaimed:

"Köckeritz! Where is the king?"

"Oh, Heaven, be praised that your majesty has arrived! The king is here.
He is standing among the generals in front of the house yonder."

They stopped. The coach door opened, and the pale, melancholy face of
the king looked in. Louisa stretched out her arms toward him.
"Frederick! my dear, dear husband!" she exclaimed, and, encircling his
neck with her arms, imprinted a kiss on his lips. He did not utter a
word, but drew her with an impetuous motion into his arms and carried
her into the house, regardless of the rules of etiquette, through the
crowd of generals, who bowed and stepped aside. She clung tenderly to
him and supported her head with a blissful smile on his shoulder. He now
placed the beloved burden slowly and cautiously into an easy-chair; then
crossed the room and opened the door leading into an adjoining chamber.

"Come, come, your mother is here!" said he, abruptly, and two boys ran
immediately into the room, with a loud, joyous exclamation.

"My sons, my beloved sons!" cried Louisa, stretching out her hands
toward them. They rushed to her, clasping her in their arms and kissing
her. The queen pressed them to her heart, shedding tears, half of grief,
and half of happiness at being reunited with her family. Not a word was
spoken; only sighs and sobs, and expressions of tenderness, interrupted
the silence. The king stood at the window, looking at his wife and sons,
and something like a tear dimmed his eyes. "I would gladly die if they
could only be happy again," he murmured to himself; "but we are only in
the beginning of our misfortunes, and worse things are in store for us!"

He was right; worse things were in store for them. Day after day
brought tidings of fresh disasters. The first was, that Erfurt had
capitulated, on the day after the battle of Jena--that the French
occupied it, and that a garrison of four thousand men had surrendered at
discretion. Then came the news that the French, who had not met with the
slightest resistance, and were driving every thing before them, had
crossed the Elbe, and were moving on Potsdam and Berlin. The royal
couple learned at the same time that Count Schulenburg had left Berlin
with the troops without permission, and solely on his own
responsibility, and that he had forgotten in his hurry to remote the
immense quantity of arms from the arsenal. Another day dawned and
brought even more disastrous tidings. The French were reported as
approaching the fortress of Küstrin by forced marches!

A panic seized the garrison. Most of the officers and privates, and the
whole suite of the king, declared loudly, "Peace only can save us!
Further resistance is vain, and will increase our calamities. Submission
to the conqueror may save what remains." Minister von Haugwitz used this
language, and so did Generals von Köckeritz and von Zastrow, and so
thought the commander of Küstrin, though he did not utter his
sentiments.

The king listened to all these supplications and suggestions with grave
and gloomy composure. He did not say a word, but looked sometimes with
an inquiring glance at the pale face of the queen. She understood him,
and whispered with a smile: "Courage, my husband, courage!" And he
nodded to her, and said in a low voice: "I will have courage to the
bitter end! We cannot remain here, for the report that the French are
approaching has been confirmed. Let us go to Graudenz!"

Louisa laid her hand on the king's shoulder, and looked tenderly into
his eyes. "Whither you go, I go," she said, "even though we should be
compelled to escape beyond the sea or into the ice-fields of Siberia; we
will remain together, and so long as I am with you, adversity cannot
break my heart."

Frederick kissed her and then went to make the necessary arrangements
for their departure, to give his final orders to the commander of
Küstrin, M. von Ingelsheim: "Defend the fortress to the last extremity,
and capitulate under no circumstances whatever."

The queen seemed calm and composed so long as her husband was at her
side. But when he had withdrawn, she burst into tears; sinking down on a
chair, she buried her face in her hands and sobbed aloud.

"You are weeping!" whispered a soft, sweet voice. "Oh, dear mother, do
not weep," said another, and two heads leaned on her shoulders--the
heads of her oldest sons. She took her hands from her face, and shook
the tears from her eyes. She kissed her sons, and, placing both of them
before her, gazed at them a long time with an air of melancholy
tenderness.

"Yes," she said, and while she spoke her voice became firmer, and her
face radiant--"yes, I am weeping; nor am I ashamed of my tears. I am
weeping for the downfall of my house--the loss of that glory with which
your ancestors and their generals crowned the Hohenzollern dynasty, and
the splendor of which extended over the whole of Prussia--nay, over all
Germany. That glory has, I say, departed forever. Fate has destroyed in
a day a structure in the erection of which great men had been engaged
for two centuries. There is no longer a Prussian state, a Prussian army,
and Prussian honor! Ah! my sons, you are old enough to comprehend and
appreciate the events now befalling us; at a future time, when your
mother will be no more among the living, remember this unhappy hour.
Shed tears for me, as I do for the ruin of our country! But listen," she
added, and her eyes beamed with enthusiasm, "do not content yourselves
with shedding tears! Act, develop your strength. Prussia's genius,
perhaps, will favor you. Then deliver your nation from the disgrace and
humiliation in which it is at present grovelling! Try to recover the now
eclipsed fame of your ancestors, as your great-grandfather, the great
elector, once avenged, at Fehrbellin, the defeats of his father against
the Swedes. Let not the degeneracy of the age carry you away, my sons;
become men and heroes. Should you lack this ambition, you would be
unworthy of the name of princes and grandsons of Frederick the Great.
But if, in spite of all efforts, you should fail in restoring the former
grandeur of the state, then seek death as Prince Louis Ferdinand sought
it!"



CHAPTER VIII.

NAPOLEON IN POTSDAM.


The unheard-of and never-expected event had taken place; the son of the
Corsican lawyer, the general of the Revolution, had defeated the
Prussian army, compelled the royal family to flee to the eastern
provinces, and now made his triumphal entry into their capital! On the
afternoon of the 24th of October he arrived in Potsdam; the royal palace
had to open its doors to him; the royal servants had to receive him as
reverentially as though he had been their sovereign!

Napoleon was now master of Prussia as well as of all Germany. But his
classic face remained as cold and calm in these days of proud triumph as
it had been in the days of adversity. His successes seemed to surprise
him as little as his early misfortunes had discouraged him. When
ascending the broad carpeted staircase, he turned to Duroc, his grand
marshal and beckoned him to his side. "Just notice, grand marshal," he
said, in so loud a voice that it resounded through the palace, "just
notice the strange coincidence. If I remember rightly, it is just a year
to-day since the fine-looking Emperor Alexander of Russia arrived here
in Potsdam, and paid a visit to the queen. Please ask the steward who
received us at the foot of the stairs, whether it is not so."

Duroc went away, and soon returned with the answer that his majesty had
not been mistaken; it was just a year to-day since the Emperor of Russia
arrived in Potsdam.

A faint smile overspread Napoleon's face. "I will occupy the same rooms
which Alexander then occupied," he said, passing on.

Duroc hastened back, to give the necessary orders. Napoleon walked down
the corridor with ringing, soldier-like footsteps, followed by his
marshals, and entered the large portrait-gallery of the Prussian
monarchs, who looked down on him with grave eyes.

The emperor paused in the middle of the hall and glanced over the
portraits with a gloomy air. "All those men had a high opinion of
themselves," he said, in a sullen tone; "they were proud of their high
birth and of their royal crown, and yet death has trampled them all in
the dust. I will now take upon myself the task of death: I will
annihilate this Prussia which dared to take up arms against me, and who
knows whether this gallery of Prussian kings will not close with
Frederick William III.? Nothing on earth is lasting, and sovereigns
now-a-days fall from their thrones as over-ripe apples from trees. The
crown of Prussia fell to the ground on the battle-fields of Jena and
Auerstadt!"

The portraits of the Prussian rulers looked down silently on the
triumphant conqueror, and neither his scornful voice, nor the haughty
glances with which he contemplated them, disturbed their tranquillity.
Not a voice answered these arrogant and insulting words; the marshals
stood silent and respectful, and still seemed to listen to the voice of
the oracle which had just announced to the portraits of the royal
ancestors of the present king the downfall of their house. But
Napoleon's brow, which had momentarily beamed with proud thoughts, was
again clouded. Joining his hands on his back, he crossed the hall to the
large central window, from which there was a fine and extensive view of
the lawn, with its old trees and splendid statues, and beyond, of the
Havel and its hilly banks. He gazed gloomily at this landscape, then
turned and looked again at the pictures, but only for a moment, as
though he would threaten them once more, and make them feel again the
angry glance of him who had come to dethrone their descendant and
appropriate his crown. Then he fixed his eyes on the portrait of a
handsome woman whose large blue eyes seemed to gaze at him, and her
crimson lips to greet him with a winning smile. Quite involuntarily, and
as if attracted by the beauty of this likeness, he approached and
contemplated it long and admiringly.

"Truly," he said, "that is a charming creature. That lady must have been
wondrously lovely, and at the same time surpassingly graceful and
high-spirited."

"Sire," said Duroc, who had followed him and overheard his words, "sire,
she is still wondrously lovely, and, as your majesty says, surpassingly
graceful and high-spirited. It is the portrait of Queen Louisa of
Prussia."

A dark expression mantled Napoleon's face, and, bending an angry glance
on Duroc, he said, "It is well known that you were always foolishly in
love with the Queen of Prussia, and, according to your statement, one
might believe there was no woman in the whole world so beautiful as she
is." He turned his back on the painting and stepped to the next one:
"And this, then, doubtless, is Frederick William III.?"

"Yes, sire, it is the portrait of the reigning king."

"Of the reigning king?" repeated the emperor, with a scornful smile. "It
is a very good-natured face," he added, looking at the full-sized
portrait; "and as I behold his gentle, timid air, I comprehend that he
allows himself to be directed by advisers, and follows the will of
others rather than his own. But this little King of Prussia is taller
than I thought!"

"Sire, he is about as tall as the Grand-duke of Berg," said Duroc.

"As Murat?" asked Napoleon. "It never seemed to me that he was as tall
as that. Is not Murat of my own height?"

"No, sire, he is higher than you!"

"You mean he is taller than I," said Napoleon, shrugging his shoulders.
"Height of stature is of no consequence. Frederick II. was much smaller
than his grand-nephew, and yet he was the greatest of Prussia's kings.
We will afterward pay him a visit at Sans-souci. Until then, adieu,
gentlemen. Come, Duroc, conduct me to the rooms of the Emperor
Alexander!"

He greeted the marshals with a quick nod, and then followed Duroc into
the long suite of halls and brilliant rooms which, only a year ago, had
been newly decorated and furnished with royal magnificence for the
reception of the czar.

"These kings and princes 'by the grace of God' live here very
pleasantly," muttered Napoleon in an undertone; "they know better how to
build and furnish their residences than to preserve them to their
children. Well, I am a good architect, and have come to reconstruct the
royal palace of Prussia. Do you think, Duroc, those ingrates will thank
me for it?"

"They will see that the lion must have his share," said Duroc, "and they
will, doubtless, be thankful if any thing is left to them. Sire, here we
are in the czar's bedroom! The steward told me every thing was arranged
in it precisely the same as in the days when the Russian emperor was
here. Nobody has slept in this bed since."

"I must sleep in it," said Napoleon, quickly, "and I believe I shall
sleep in the royal Prussian palace, and in the bed of the Russian
emperor, as comfortably as I did in the Tuileries and in the bed of
Louis XVI."

He threw his small three-cornered hat with a contemptuous gesture on the
bed, which was surmounted by a velvet canopy, embroidered with gold, and
then, his arms crossed behind him, commenced slowly pacing the room.
Duroc dared not disturb him, and turned toward the paintings and
engravings hanging on the walls. The emperor walked a long while gravely
and musingly; his brow grew more clouded, and he pressed his lips more
firmly together. Suddenly he paused before Duroc, and, being alone,
spoke to him no longer in the tone of a master, but with the
unreservedness of a friend.

"Legitimacy is a terrible power, Duroc," said he, hastily; "it is what I
cannot vanquish with all my cannon. Sovereigns and princes know it full
well, and that is the reason of their obstinacy. They oppose their
ancestors to my victorious eagles, and when, by virtue of my right as
conqueror, I enter their palaces and take possession of them, I find
there the proud company of their forefathers, who seem to look
scornfully down on me, and tell me, 'You are after all but an intruder
and usurper, while we are and shall remain here the rightful owners.' I
am sick and tired of playing this part of usurper. I shall overthrow all
dynasties, expel all legitimate sovereigns--and there shall be no other
throne than mine. I shall be at least the first legitimate monarch of
the new era!"

"And expelled princes will sit in some nook of your immense empire,"
said Duroc, laughing, "and sing to the people the same song of
legitimacy; and it will be listened to as one of the fairy stories of
childhood, in which they believe no more."

"But they shall believe in _my_ legitimacy!" exclaimed Napoleon,
quickly. "I will be the first of the Napoleonic sovereigns." His brow
was clouded again. "But it is true," he murmured, "in order to found a
dynasty, I need a son. I must have legitimate children. It will be no
fault of mine if circumstances compel me to divorce Josephine; for I
will not, like Alexander of Macedon, conquer exclusively for the benefit
of my generals. I need an heir to my empire."

"Sire, you have one in the son of the empress, noble King Eugène."

"No," exclaimed the emperor, gloomily, "the son of the Viscount de
Beauharnais cannot be heir to my throne. My blood does not flow in his
veins. Oh, why did the young Napoleon die! I had destined him to succeed
me, because he was of my blood, and a scion of my family.[12] Poor
Josephine! if her tears and prayers could have saved the child's life, I
should never have thought of taking another wife."

[Footnote 12: The oldest son of the King of Holland, Napoleon's brother,
and of Hortense, Josephine's daughter, had been declared Napoleon's
successor and adopted son. He died of croup, in 1805, in his seventh
year.]

"What!" exclaimed Duroc, in dismay, "your majesty thinks of repudiating
the empress!"

"My heart never will repudiate her," replied Napoleon, drawing a sigh.
"I shall always love her, for she deserves it. She is generous and
high-minded, good and graceful. I never loved another woman as I love
her--and never shall. Judge, therefore, what a cruel blow it will be to
my heart, should I be compelled to separate from her."

"If you should, sire," said Duroc, in a voice quivering with
emotion,--"if you repudiate the empress, you would thereby sign your own
death-warrant, and Josephine would not survive it."

"She will have to survive it like myself," exclaimed the emperor,
impetuously. "I shall suffer no less--nay, I shall suffer more than she,
for she never loved me as I love her. Her tears will fall for the lost
splendor of the throne--not for her husband. But I shall bewail the
beloved wife."

"No, sire," said Duroc, almost indignantly, "you are unjust. The empress
loves you--you alone. She accepted the crown reluctantly and with
tearful eyes, and will not weep when she loses it. She will mourn for
her husband only, whom she adores, and not for the crown which adorns
but also oppresses her brow."

"Ah, what a warm advocate the empress has!" exclaimed Napoleon, smiling.
"Do you really believe that she loves me so disinterestedly?"

"Sire, I am convinced of it, and so is your majesty. The empress loves
in you her dear Bonaparte, and not the emperor. She loves you more
ardently than any other woman could do. Sire, permit an old, well-tried
friend and servant to warn you. Do not banish Josephine from your heart,
for she is your guardian angel."

Napoleon did not reply immediately, but looked melancholy and
abstracted.

"It is true," he said, after a long pause, "Josephine brought success;
until I married her every thing around me was forbidding and dark. She
appeared like a sun by my side, and we rose together."

"Sire, all will darken again, if you suffer your sun to set."

"Ah, bah! these are nothing but fantastic dreams!" exclaimed Napoleon,
after a brief silence. "I am the architect of my fortune--I alone.
Josephine did not assist me in erecting my edifice; she only adorned it
with her smiling grace. I shall do what fate and my people have a right
to expect of me, but I do not say that it must be done immediately. I
have time enough to wait; for as yet I do not stand on the pinnacle to
which I am aspiring. My plans are not yet accomplished. I hope that I
shall not die at so early an age as my father. I need ten years more to
carry out my purposes. A sovereign ought not to set too narrow limits to
his wishes; but mine--they are boundless. Like the conqueror of Darius,
I must rule the world, and I hope that my desire will one day be
fulfilled. Nay, I feel convinced that I and my family will occupy all
the thrones of Europe. Then it will be time for me to have a wife who
will give an heir to my empire, and a son to my heart. Until then, my
friend, keep the matter secret; do not mention what I have told you. The
portraits of the old kings, with their surly faces, have impressed me
very disagreeably, and it is in defiance of them that I say, I will one
day have a wife--a daughter of the Cæsars--who will think it an honor to
bear a son to the modern Cæsar! When the time comes, however, I shall
remind you of this hour, and then request you, in the name of the
confidence which I have reposed in you, to prepare my poor, beloved
Josephine for the blow that is menacing her and myself, and which I then
shall ward off no longer. But a truce to these matters! Let us go to
Sans-souci. Come!"

"Sire, before your majesty has dined?"

"Ah, you are hungry, then? You would like to dine?"

"Sire, I believe all the gentlemen entertain the same desire. None of us
have tasted food for eight hours."

"Eight hours, and you are already hungry again? Truly, this German air
exerts a bad effect upon my brave marshals. Like the Germans, you want
to eat all the time. Well, let it so be; as we are in Germany, I will
comply with your wishes. Let us dine, therefore, and afterward go to the
country-palace of Frederick II. Be kind enough to issue your orders,
grand-marshal. Let the horses be ready; we shall set out as soon as we
have dined. Tell Roustan to come to me!"

Napoleon was now again the sovereign, and it was in this capacity that
he dismissed Duroc, who left the room with a respectful bow. Roustan,
who had already heard the order in the anteroom, glided past him, to
assist Constant in the emperor's toilet.



CHAPTER IX.

SANS-SOUCI.


Duroc hastened once more through the rooms and halls to the corridor,
where the palace-steward came to meet him.

"Dinner is ready, grand marshal," he said.

"And have you set another table in the adjoining room?"

"Your orders have been punctually obeyed."

"Be good enough, then, to conduct me to the large dining-hall."

The steward bowed in silence, and led the way. All the marshals and
generals were already assembled when Duroc entered.

"Gentlemen," he said, smiling, "his majesty is now occupied with his
toilet, and Roustan has assured me that it would last half an hour. We
have half an hour, therefore, to take our dinner." Followed by the
others, he went into the next room. A table had been set there, and
appetizing odors invited them to sit down to it.

"Now, steward, have every thing served up as quick as possible. We have
but twenty minutes left." During that time there reigned profound
silence, only now and then interrupted by a word or a brief remark. The
marshals contented themselves in making the viands disappear, and
emptying the bottles. Duroc, who had frequently cast anxious glances at
the large clock, now rose hastily. "Gentlemen," he said, "our time is
up, and we must be ready for the emperor's dinner. I will go to his
majesty, and conduct him to the dining-hall. I hope all of you have
eaten well, so as not to need much of the official repast to which we
are going. The emperor has graciously ordered us all to dine with him.
Be so kind as to repair to the hall."

When Napoleon entered, a few minutes later, preceded by Duroc, he found
all the marshals assembled. The dinner commenced, and he, it seemed, was
no less hungry than his generals, for not only did he eat his soup with
the utmost rapidity, but when he saw one of his favorite dishes placed
near him, he smiled and nodded kindly to the grand marshal, who was
standing at his right, and presented him a glass of wine.

"See how attentive these dear Germans are!" he said. "If I am not
mistaken, this is my favorite dish, _fricassée à la Marengo."_

"Yes, sire, I sent the bill of fare hither last night by the courier
who announced your majesty's arrival, and I am glad to see that it has
been punctually attended to."

"So these German cooks know already how to prepare a _fricassée à la
Marengo?_ Who has taught them this?"

"Your majesty; your majesty is now the cook and butler for all
Germany--everybody has become familiar with your favorite dishes."

The emperor smiled. Placing a piece of bread on his fork, he dipped it
into the dish, and repeated this several times; and when the grand
marshal placed before him a silver plate, filled with a portion of the
same, he commenced to eat rapidly. Aware of his habit, his attendants
had taken care that the pieces of meat were sufficiently small, and the
whole dish not too hot. He began to eat the meat with a fork, and the
sauce with a spoon, but he seemed to regard both as too inconvenient;
for he laid them aside, and, after the fashion of the Turks, used his
delicate white hands, adorned with diamond-rings.[13] Scarcely twelve
minutes had elapsed when he rose. The grand marshal immediately
presented to him a golden basin and a napkin to wash his hands.

[Footnote 13: Constant, for many years Napoleon's devoted _valet de
chambre_, gives in his reminiscences a detailed account of the emperor's
habits, and writes as follows about his mode of dining: "The great
rapidity with which the emperor was accustomed to eat was frequently
very injurious to his health. One of the immediate effects of this habit
was, that he did not eat very cleanly. He liked to use his fingers
instead of a fork, and, indeed, instead of a spoon. Great care was taken
always to place a favorite dish before him. He partook of it in the
manner above described, dipping his bread into the sauce, which did not
prevent the other guests from eating of the same dish, or at least
such as wished to do so, and there were few who did not. I have even
seen some who pretended to regard this favorite dish as a way of
doing homage to the emperor. Napoleon's favorite dish was a sort of
chicken-fricassée, called, in honor of the conqueror of Italy,
'_fricassée à la Marengo_.'"--Constant, Mémoires, vol. ii., p. 56.]

Napoleon's guests had done well in dining beforehand; for, as the
servants did not attend to them so quickly as to their master, and as
they, moreover, were not able to eat so fast as he, they would assuredly
have risen hungry from the table.[14]

[Footnote 14: The guests invited to the imperial table always dined
beforehand. The emperor, in the haste with which he ate, did not notice
that the others had no time to do so. Once, when he departed from the
table, and Eugène, his stepson, rose immediately after him, Napoleon
turned to him, and said:

"But you have had no time to eat?"

"Pardon me," replied the prince, "I dined beforehand."--"Mémoires de
Constant," vol. ii., p. 55.]

"To horse, gentlemen!" exclaimed Napoleon. "Let us ride over to
Sans-souci, and do homage to the manes of the king who was a philosopher
and a great general at the same time."

The streets of Potsdam were deserted as the emperor and his brilliant
suite rode through them. All the windows were closed; the citizens were
nowhere to be seen; only a crowd of idle boys followed the imperial
cavalcade. The soldiers of the grand French army alone greeted the
emperor with joyous cheers outside of the city, where they were
encamped. Potsdam thought, perhaps, of its king, who had immortalized
it, and was sad and ashamed that those whom Frederick the Great had
routed in so glorious a manner at Rossbach now made their triumphal
entry into his capital.

Napoleon's brow was gloomy; this silence of the population was
disagreeable and oppressive. It seemed to him to be a sign of the
hostile spirit of the Prussians; and as he was riding slowly, his head
slightly bent forward, along the avenue toward Sans-souci, he muttered:
"This is a malicious and infamous trick! The haughty nobility will still
oppose me, but I will crush them. They must not succeed, however, in
making me angry, but I shall chastise those who have induced the
citizens to remain at home, and not to greet me." And, thoughtfully, he
rode on toward the country-seat of Frederick the Great.

No one was at the palace to welcome him but the castellan, a venerable
man, who, with a few aged servants in faded liveries, received the
all-powerful conqueror at the open folding-doors of the hall leading to
the terrace. Napoleon looked at him with a rapid, piercing glance. "You
lived in the period of Frederick II.?" he asked hastily.

"Yes, sire, we were fortunate enough to serve the great king," said the
castellan, in faultless, fluent French. "Hence, the honorable task has
been intrusted to us to watch over his sacred resting-place, and to
protect it from injury."

"The name of the great king is a sufficient protection for this house,"
said Napoleon. "My soldiers have a profound respect for true greatness;
they will not dare to desecrate this sanctuary. Be my guide, my friend.
Let me see the sitting-room of your king!"

"Of the present king, sire?" asked the castellan.

Napoleon smiled. "I think there is but one king in Sans-souci," he
said, "and that is Frederick II. Conduct me to his sitting-room!" and
rapidly crossing the semicircular marble hall, he walked toward the
side-door which the castellan opened.

"Sire," he said, solemnly, "this is the king's sitting-room; it is still
furnished precisely as when he lived in it. It has undergone no change
whatever."

Napoleon entered; his marshals followed him. None of them uttered a
word; every one seemed involuntarily to tread lightly, as if he feared
to disturb the silence reigning in this room, sacred by its great
reminiscences. The emperor walked rapidly into the middle of the room;
there he paused with folded arms, and his large dark eyes glided slowly
from object to object. The marshals moved softly around, and, on
contemplating the old-fashioned furniture, their ragged silken covers,
the plain desk with the inkstand placed near the window, the large
easy-chair, shrouded in a ragged purple blanket, smiled disdainfully and
whispered to each other that this was a room entirely unfit for a king,
and that one might purchase better and more tasteful furniture of any
second-hand dealer in Paris. Napoleon, perhaps, had overheard their
words, or at least noticed their whisperings, for he bent an angry
glance on them. "Gentlemen," he said, "this is a place which deserves
our profound respect. Here lived one who was a greater general than
Turenne, and from whose campaigns we all might derive instruction.
Alexander the Great himself would have admired Frederick's battle of
Leuthen."

The aged castellan, who was standing at the door, raised his head, and
with a kind glance seemed to thank Napoleon for the tribute he had paid
to the manes of the heroic dead.

The emperor's eyes were now fixed on the large clock placed on a gilded
pedestal. It was a master-piece of the period of Louis XV., and adorned
in the most brilliant roccoco style. The large dial, with the figures of
colored enamel, rested in a frame and case of splendidly-wrought gold,
and this was surmounted by a portrait of the Emperor Titus, with the
inscription, "_Diem perdidi_."

"Is that the clock which the king caused to be purchased from the heirs
of the Marquise de Pompadour?"

"Yes, sire, it is. It has always stood in this room, since he purchased
it. Frederick the Great prized it very highly, and consulted it
exclusively until his death. And it seemed to know that he liked it, for
when he closed his eyes, the clock stopped and never went again."

"Ah," exclaimed Napoleon, quickly, "since the death of Frederick the
government of Prussia, it seems, really did not know the time any more.
And what about that ragged old easy-chair? Did the king use it, too?"

"Sire," said the castellan, solemnly, laying stress on every word he
uttered--"sire, the great king died in that chair; his head rested on
the pillow now lying on the seat, and he was covered with that blanket."

The emperor rapidly approached; the marshals followed his example and
walked toward it on tiptoe. He stood before it; his arms folded, his
lips compressed, contemplating it. Behind him stood the marshals, whose
indifferent countenances and curious glances contrasted strangely with
the pale face of their master. Not far from them, near the door, stood
the white-haired castellan; his hands clasped, and his head bowed
mournfully on his breast.

Suddenly the room was filled with light; the sun, which had hitherto
been hidden by clouds, burst forth and shone brilliantly; golden beams
fell upon the easy-chair of Frederick the Great, and surrounded it, as
it were, with a halo.

"This, then, is the death-bed of the great king," said Napoleon,
musingly. "The gods did not permit him to fall on the battle-field.
Disease and age vanquished the hero of the Seven Years' War, and he died
not amid the triumphs of his soldiers, but solitary and alone! May
Providence, in His mercy, preserve us from such a fate!" And turning
quickly to the castellan, he asked, "Were you present when the king
died?"

"Yes, sire, I was; for I was his _valet de chambre_."

"Tell me the last words he uttered."

"Sire, he spoke repeatedly, but so inaudibly and rapidly that we did not
apprehend him. The last words which we were able to understand were:
'Give me back my soldiers of the Seven Years' War! I am tired of ruling
over slaves!'"

"Strange, strange," murmured Napoleon; "he was tired of ruling over
slaves! as though it were possible to rule over free men! Ah, I should
like to have known this king, who was such an autocrat, and yet despised
slaves! who wielded the sword as skilfully as the pen! to whom the
booming of the cannon sounded as melodious as the notes of his
flute--who made verses with Voltaire, and won battles with Schwerin and
Ziethen! He was able to do every thing, and we have not seen his
equal!"

"Oh, sire," murmured the marshals, "your majesty forgets--"

"Silence, gentlemen!" he exclaimed, in an angry voice, pointing with his
outstretched arm to the easy-chair, "do not flatter me in _this_ room. I
wish I had known Frederick the Great, for I believe we should have
understood each other."

"Sire," said the castellan, "it is true, his majesty did not know you;
nevertheless, he dreamed of you."

Napoleon hastily turned toward him and asked: "What? He dreamed of me?
Tell me all about it. Approach!"

The castellan, obeying the sign made to him, advanced a few steps slowly
and hesitatingly.

"Sire," he said, "it was a few years after the Seven Years' War. I had
just entered the king's service, and was on duty during that night; that
is to say, I slept in the anteroom, and had received strict orders to
awaken the king at a fixed hour in the morning, and to enter his bedroom
during the night as soon as he called me, or if I should hear any noise.
Suddenly I heard the cry, 'Fire, fire!' I rushed immediately into the
bedroom, but no fire was to be seen. My master lay on his couch,
groaning, breathing heavily, and evidently under the influence of bad
dreams. I, therefore, took the liberty to awaken him. 'Ah,' said he,
heaving a deep sigh, 'I am glad you awakened me; I had a weird, terrible
dream, and I will relate it to you. I dreamed I was standing on the
terrace of Sans-souci, and around me I beheld my state and all my
palaces close together, and behind them I thought I could descry the
whole world, with all its cities and countries; it was spread out before
my eyes like a painting of wondrous beauty, and I was rapturously gazing
at it. All at once the sky grew dark; black clouds passed over it;
profound darkness covered the beautiful world, and dreadful shrieks and
groans resounded through the air. But from the midst of the black clouds
a bright, dazzling star burst like a rocket, and set fire to every
thing, until all countries were in ruins, and all cities burned down.
And as I saw that, I cried in my anguish, "Fire! fire!" Fortunately, you
came and awakened me.' That, sire," said the castellan, drawing a deep
breath, "that was the dream. The king went on to say: 'The dream, I am
sure, is a portentous one, and some remarkable event will doubtless
happen in the course of this night. Write down every thing I told you,
and remember the date and year!' I did as his majesty ordered me; I
wrote down the date, the year, and even the hour in which the dream
occurred."

"Was the dream really a portentous one? Did any remarkable event occur
in that night?"

"Yes, sire, a very remarkable event occurred in that night, but his
majesty did not hear of it; he died too early."

"When did he have that dream?" asked Napoleon, fixing his eyes on the
old man, who composedly bore the searching gaze.

A pause ensued. The castellan replied: "Sire, Frederick the Great had
that dream on the 15th of August, 1769."

"On my birthday!" ejaculated Napoleon.

"On the 15th of August, 1769," repeated the old man, "at three o'clock
in the morning."

"The hour of my birth," muttered the emperor to himself. After a short
pause he turned again toward the castellan, and a strange, sarcastic
smile played on his lips.

"The star fell from the sky, and set fire to all the palaces and
countries?" he asked.

The castellan nodded.

"And you believed that the dream referred to me, and that I am the
fallen star?"

"Sire, I only related what the king had dreamed, and in what night and
in what hour he had the remarkable dream. His majesty spoke frequently
about it, and all his friends heard of it. But nobody was able to
interpret it. He died without obtaining the solution."

"But you have solved it," said Napoleon, sneeringly. "I am the fallen
star, and you think I have come to fulfil that dream?"

"Sire, I--"

"I shall burn down your palaces and scourge your country," added he,
harshly. "Why did you irritate me? I did not commence the war; since you
desired it, I gave it to you. But tell your friends and the good
citizens of Potsdam that the dream of their king will not be entirely
fulfilled. It may be that I shall be compelled to destroy royal palaces,
but the house of the citizen and the cabin of the peasant will not feel
my wrath, nor will I lay waste your fields. Tell the good denizens of
this city--tell them not to be afraid of me; for never shall I assail
their rights and privileges, nor interfere with their interests. And
now, gentlemen, let us proceed!" He quickly crossed the room, and
entered the adjoining apartment.

"Sire, this is the reception-room of Frederick the Great," said the
castellan, who had followed. "On that table lies the full suit in which
his majesty gave his last audience--his uniform, his order of the Black
Eagle, his hat and sword."

Napoleon hastened to the table, and seized the sword. "Ah, the sword of
Frederick II.," he exclaimed, with sparkling eyes. "He often wielded it
with a victorious hand, and that hat covered a head adorned with the
laurel-wreath of the poet and the great general! These are trophies that
I prefer to all the treasures of Prussia. What a capital present for the
Invalides, especially for those who formed part of the army of Hanover!
They will be delighted, no doubt, when they see in our possession the
sword of him who beat them at Rossbach! And as my dear brother,
Frederick William III., has conferred the order of the Black Eagle on
me, I suppose he will permit me to take this decoration as a souvenir of
the greatest king of the house of Hohenzollern. What about the bell that
is placed beside the hat?"

"Sire," said the castellan, mournfully and hesitatingly, "it is the bell
which the king used during his whole reign to call the gentlemen waiting
in the anteroom, and the footmen at night."

"That bell shall stand henceforward in my cabinet and on my desk," said
Napoleon. "Grand marshal, order all these things to be packed up and to
be sent immediately to Paris, and add to them also the clock in the
other room--the clock that was so faithful to the great king as to stop
at his death, and to refuse to mark the time for any one else. I will
wind it up, and the clock of Frederick the Great must strike again for
me. Conduct us to the other rooms, castellan."

The old man cast a long and melancholy look on the precious relics that
were about to be taken from him, and took leave of them with a profound
sigh. He then conducted the party to the other rooms. He showed them the
library, where Frederick, during the last years of his life, had spent
every hour when not occupied with government affairs, longing for no
other society than that of his books. He then took them to the rooms in
which Voltaire had lived, and showed the emperor a paper on which the
king had written verses that Voltaire had corrected and revised.
Napoleon contemplated every thing with the greatest attention, and then
caused himself to be conducted to the fine long hall, in which
Frederick, accompanied by his dog, used to take his daily walk when the
weather was too bad for him to do so in the open air. The walls of this
hall were adorned with many paintings and engravings--all, however, did
not apparently belong to the period of Frederick; for there were among
them paintings and engravings representing his last hours, and his
lonely nocturnal funeral.--Others again depicted the scene of young
Frederick William II. standing by the corpse of his great uncle, and
swearing with tearful eyes, his hand placed on the head of Frederick,
that he would be a just and good ruler to his people.

"And what does this picture represent?" asked Napoleon, pointing to an
engraving by the side of the above-mentioned painting.

"Sire," said the castellan, in confusion, "it is a copper-plate,
representing the king's tomb. It does not properly belong here, but has
been placed here temporarily. The artist sent it hither with the request
to place it somewhere in Sans-souci, and I hung it up in this place
until my master disposes of it in some other way."

"But what about this one?" asked the emperor, whose piercing eyes were
fixed on another engraving. "There is the tomb of Frederick; two men, in
full uniform, are standing by its side; a beautiful lady is with them,
and all three are raising their hands in an odd manner. Ah, ah, now I
comprehend: that is last year's scene, when the Emperor Alexander took
leave of the king and queen at the grave of Frederick the Great, and
swore eternal friendship to them as well as eternal enmity to France?
That is what this engraving represents, I suppose?"

"Yes, sire, it is," said the castellan, timidly.

Napoleon, with a flashing glance, called his marshals to his side.
"Behold there, gentlemen, one of those theatrical scenes with which
people here in Prussia were declaiming against me, while I was silent,
but arming against them," said he with a sneer. "If the King of Prussia
does not fulfil the other oaths he has taken more faithfully than this
one, I pity his people; but he has incurred the retribution of the gods,
who insist on it that men shall fulfil their promises or they will be
crushed. We have seen enough of the place where Frederick the Great
passed his life; let us pay a last visit to him in his tomb. Where is
it?"

"In Potsdam, sire, in the church close to the palace."

"Very well. Come, gentlemen. And you, castellan, do not forget that the
dream has not been altogether fulfilled. The 'fallen star' is only a
devouring fire to the kings who bid him defiance, but not to the people
who obediently submit." He nodded, stepped from the hall into the
anteroom, and then into the vestibule, where the horses were ready for
him and his suite.

The old man gazed mournfully after the brilliant cavalcade. "He looks
like a marble statue," he muttered, "and I believe that he has no heart
in his breast. Every thing in him is made of stone. If he had a heart,
he would not dare to come hither and appropriate with a rapacious hand
the sacred relics of our great king. I must really go and see whether
his commands to that effect will be carried out or not." And he left the
hall with youthful alacrity, hastening through the apartments back to
the reception-room.

Yes, the commands had been obeyed! The hat and sword, the order of the
Black Eagle, and the bell, had disappeared. The old castellan uttered a
groan, and proceeded to the sitting-room. His anxious eyes glanced at
the spot where the clock had stood. That was also gone. But he heard men
talking and laughing in the anteroom, and when he hastened hither, he
saw some of the emperor's servants, who, in compliance with the orders
of the grand marshal, were engaged in packing up the relics in a basket,
and jesting at what they called the strange and insignificant spoils
which the emperor had obtained here. The white-haired servants of
Frederick the Great were standing close by, and witnessing with tearful
eyes the removal of treasures so sacred on account of the reminiscences
connected with them. The men were just engaged in placing the clock on
the other articles in a basket. The castellan approached hurriedly and
placing his hand on the dial, said in a low voice, "Farewell! The eyes
of Frederick the Great have often gazed at you. His eyes were also
stars, but not fallen stars, and they did not scorch and burn, but
rendered the people happy. Farewell, faithful clock, that stopped with
grief in the last hour of my king! When _his_ last hour comes, announce
it loudly and joyously, and commence going again, for the worst time
will be over then, and the fallen star will cease burning. Farewell, and
strike that hour as soon as possible!"[15]

[Footnote 15: The clock remained in Napoleon's possession and
accompanied him to St. Helena. It stood on the mantel-piece in his small
parlor, and is mentioned in his will. He bequeathed it to his son, the
Duke de Reichstadt, in the following words: "The clock which always
awakened me in the morning; it belonged to Frederick II., and I
appropriated it in Potsdam." The bell he also bequeathed to his son.
Many conflicting statements have been made concerning the sword Napoleon
took. It was certainly not the sword which Frederick had worn to the
last. The latter had a leathern scabbard which, in several defective
places, had been repaired with sealing-wax because Frederick found this
to be less expensive than to have it repaired by a harness-maker. The
king had taken this sword along, when, in September, 1806, he repaired
with the queen to the headquarters of the army; it accompanied him
during his flight, and was safely brought back by him. It was afterward
at the "_Kunstkammer_" In Berlin. The sword which Napoleon sent to Paris
had been presented to Frederick by Peter III. of Russia, who, it is well
known, was an ardent admirer of the great king. Blücher, in 1814,
brought it back from Paris.]

Looking even more gloomy than on leaving the city, the emperor rode with
his suite again through the deserted, silent streets of Potsdam. The
brilliant cavalcade moved as slowly and solemnly as a funeral procession
toward the church, the lower vault of which contained the coffin with
the remains of Frederick. The sexton and his assistants, bearing the
large bunch of keys and a blazing torch, conducted the emperor through
the dark and silent corridors, and opened the heavy, clanking iron doors
leading into the vault. Napoleon entered. For a moment he stood still on
the threshold and gazed in surprise at its plain, gloomy vault, the
walls of which were not adorned with trophies, nor with any decorations
whatever, and at that humble wooden coffin, which stood so bare and
solitary in the middle of the sombre room. Behind him were his marshals,
who looked at the strange scene with an air of curiosity and
astonishment.

"Ah," said Napoleon, gently turning his head toward them, and pointing
with his right hand to the coffin, "a man must have distinguished
himself by many great deeds, and obtained immortal glory, to need thus
no earthly pomp and splendor!"

He approached closely to the coffin; folding his arms on his breast, his
lips firmly compressed, he gazed long and steadfastly at it. The blaze
of the torch shed a bright light on his face, and as his pale head alone
was distinctly visible in the darkness, the beholders might have
believed one of the marble statues of the Cæsars on the terrace of
Sans-souci, had descended from its pedestal in order to pay a visit to
the dead king.

After a long pause Napoleon's eye resumed its wonted brilliancy. He
pointed with a strange smile at the dust covering the lid of the coffin.
"Dust without and dust within! that within was a great king and a hero;
yet that without is more lasting than the oaths which the Emperor
Alexander swore here a year ago, with Frederick William and the
beautiful Louisa. Even the kiss which Alexander imprinted at that time
on the coffin of Frederick is no longer visible; dust has covered it,
and equalized every thing." Thus speaking, he drew lines with his hand;
without knowing it, perhaps, his finger traced a large _N_ in the dust
of the royal coffin. He then hastily left the dark vault to return to
the palace.[16]

[Footnote 16: One of Horace Vernet's most beautiful paintings represents
this visit of Napoleon paid to the grave of Frederick the Great.]

The emperor paced the room a long while, his hands clasped on his back;
he then rang the bell impetuously, and sent for the chief of his
cabinet, M. de Menneval.

"Be seated," said he, as soon as that functionary made his appearance;
"take my pen, I will dictate to you my eighteenth bulletin."[17]

[Footnote 17: Napoleon wrote or dictated all his bulletins without
consulting any one in regard to them. After being dictated, the
bulletins were, however, submitted to Talleyrand, who took good care to
make no alteration.]

M. de Menneval sat down at the desk. Napoleon walked slowly up and down,
and dictated in a loud, stern voice as follows: "The emperor arrived in
Potsdam on the 25th of October, and took up his residence at the royal
palace. He visited on the first day Sans-souci and the environs of
Potsdam, spending some time in the rooms of Frederick II., where every
thing is still in the same condition as at the time of his death. In the
arsenal at Berlin, five hundred cannon, several hundred thousand pounds
of powder, and several thousand muskets, were found in excellent
condition. It has been noticed as a singular coincidence that the
emperor arrived in Potsdam on the same day and at the same hour, and
occupied the same rooms, as the Emperor of Russia during the latter's
visit--a visit last year which has had such fatal consequences for
Prussia. Since that moment the queen has forgotten to take care of her
domestic affairs, and of the most important duties of the toilet, in
order to occupy herself with politics, gain power over the king, and
spread everywhere the evil influence which possesses her. The result of
that famous oath which was taken on the 4th of November, 1805, is the
battle of Austerlitz, and the speedy evacuation of Germany by the
Russian army in the manner prescribed by France. Forty-eight hours
afterward that oath at the coffin of Frederick the Great was made the
subject of a copper-plate, which is to be found in all the shops, and
even causes the peasants to laugh. On it is represented the handsome
Emperor of Russia; by his side the queen, and opposite him the king, who
lifts up his hand over the coffin; the queen, wrapped in a shawl, like
lady Hamilton, as seen on the London copper-plates, places her hand on
her heart, and seems to look at the Emperor of Russia. It is
incomprehensible how the Berlin police could permit the circulation of
so base a satire. At all events, the shade of Frederick cannot have
contemplated this scandalous scene but with indignation and disgust. His
mind, his genius, his wishes, belong to the French nation, which he
esteemed so highly, and of which he said that, if he were its king, no
cannon should be discharged in Europe without his permission. On his
return from Sans-souci the emperor visited also the tomb of Frederick
the Great. The remains of this great man are reposing in a wooden
coffin, covered with one of copper, and in a vault devoid of drapery,
trophies, or any thing that might remind the beholder of his heroic
deeds. The emperor has presented the _Hôtel des Invalides_ at Paris with
the sword of Frederick, with his insignia of the order of the Black
Eagle, as well as with the stands of colors used by the king's
lifeguards in the Seven Years' War. The veterans will receive with
reverent awe every thing that belonged to one of the greatest generals
known in history."[18]

[Footnote 18: Goujon, "Collection des Bulletins de Napoléon," vol.
xvii., Bulletin xviii.]



CHAPTER X.

NAPOLEON'S ENTRY INTO BERLIN.


The city of Berlin had not exhibited for many years so festive and
lively a spectacle as on the morning of the 27th of October. An immense
crowd was moving across the Palace Place, Broad Street, and the Linden,
toward the Brandenburg Gate, and forming in line on both sides of the
street. Thousands of boys and youths climbed the linden-trees, that
stand in two rows in the middle of this thoroughfare, causing the trees
to move to and fro under their heavy burden, and gazed with eyes full of
curiosity from their lofty position on the bustle reigning beneath.
Through the crowd hundreds of busy figures were gliding, standing still
here and there, and addressing the people in low and impressive tones;
now and then, however, they did not content themselves with mere words,
but to some handed pieces of money, and whispered, "Drink the emperor's
health, in order that your throats may be prepared, when he makes his
entry, to shout in stentorian tones, '_Vive l'Empereur_!'"

These liberal adherents of Napoleon were agents of the French police,
already fully organized in Berlin--the hirelings of General Clarke, who
was now governor of the capital, and treated the subjugated inhabitants
with all the haughtiness and scorn of a triumphant conqueror.

Many tears were shed in the city during these days--many imprecations
uttered, but only secretly and in a low voice, for the people could not
venture to provoke the anger of the victor, but had to bear whatever
burdens he imposed on them. The odds were too heavy; the army was
defeated; the king with his court had fled; the higher functionaries had
either concealed themselves or loudly declared their willingness to take
the oath of allegiance to the Emperor of the French, and to serve him as
their master.

What remained, therefore, for the poor inhabitants of Berlin but to
submit? All had deserted them; even the governor had escaped, and his
lieutenant, the Prince von Hatzfeld, seemed to have no other task than
to admonish them to be quiet and obedient, and to implore them to
undertake, utter, and even think nothing that might be distasteful to
the new French government; but to bow willingly and cheerfully to every
thing that the conqueror might demand.

The citizens, therefore, had bowed to their fate; they had submitted
silently, and now hastened to the Linden and the Brandenburg Gate to
witness the entry of the emperor. Not only the citizens and the people
generally desired to witness this entry--the higher classes, and even
the ladies, were anxious to do so. Every one felt that a great
historical event was to transpire, and eagerly desired to behold the
celebrated man who was hated and admired at the same time; who was
cursed as an enemy, and yet glorified on account of his heroic deeds.
The streets and trees were filled with spectators; and the windows of
the splendid buildings, from the ground-floor up to the attic, were
crowded, and even the roofs had been opened here and there for the
purpose of obtaining more room.

The Linden exhibited a most imposing and brilliant spectacle; still it
seemed as though the crowd were to celebrate a funeral pageant, and as
though they had come as mourners for such an occasion. Nowhere joyous
faces were to be seen--nowhere were heard outbursts of mirth, or those
gay, amusing remarks with which the populace of Berlin seldom fail to
season a festival. The faces of the people were grave and gloomy; and
the ladies, standing at the open windows, were not festively adorned,
but wore black dresses, and black veils fell from their heads.

Suddenly the bells on all the steeples commenced ringing, and the
booming of artillery announced to the spectators, who had patiently
awaited this moment from eleven o'clock in the morning till four in the
afternoon, that the emperor was approaching the Brandenburg Gate from
Charlottenburg. The thousands assembled maintained a breathless silence;
even the trees did not move, for the restless boys who had climbed them
seemed petrified with astonishment at the extraordinary spectacle. The
men, who were now entering the gate, were not such soldiers as the
people of Berlin had hitherto been accustomed to see. They were not
fine-looking, neat young men in handsome uniforms, with bright leather
belts, stiff cravats, and well-powdered pigtails, but soldiers of
strange and truly marvellous appearance. Their complexion was
dark-brown, and their eyes flashing as dagger-points. Instead of wigs
and pigtails, they wore gaudily-colored turbans; instead of
close-fitting uniforms, wide red trousers and dark jackets, richly
embroidered with gold; curved sabres were hanging at their sides, and
their small, vigorous, and agile forms harmonized perfectly with their
splendid Arabian steeds, on which these sons of the desert, the
emperor's Mamelukes, were mounted.

Behind them came another corps. It consisted of tall, broad-shouldered
men, looking as formidable as Cyclops, with bearded, bronzed faces;
their heads covered with high bear-skin caps; their breasts veiled by
large leather aprons, reaching down to their knees; on their shoulders
enormous hatchets, flashing in the sun like burnished silver. And behind
these sappers came the famous grenadiers of the guard, infantry as well
as cavalry; next, the riflemen of Vincennes, in their green uniforms;
and, finally, the bands playing merry airs. The drum-major hurled his
enormous cane with its large silver head into the air, and the
soul-stirring notes of the "Marseillaise" resounded through the spacious
street. Hitherto nobody in Berlin had been permitted to play or sing
this forbidden melody, with which France had formerly accompanied her
bloodiest orgies; only secretly and softly had the people hummed it into
each other's ears; the most stringent orders, issued by the police, had
banished it from the concert-halls as well as from the streets. The
emperor, perhaps, was aware of this, and it was probably for this reason
that he had ordered it to be played; or, perhaps, the son of the
revolution, on making his entry into the capital of a "king by the grace
of God," wished to remind the people, by this hymn of the terrorists,
that it was unnecessary to be born under a royal canopy in order to wear
a crown and to be the anointed of the Lord.

But no one listened to this proscribed and fearful melody. All the
thousands in the streets, on the trees, at the windows, and on the
roofs, were paralyzed with amazement, and looked wonderingly at the new
order of things. They who had hitherto seen and known only proud
officers, mounted on horseback, staring at every citizen with
supercilious glances, and chastising their men for every trifle--they
who had always received the impression that army officers were exalted
personages, to whom they had to bow, who never ought to walk on foot, or
carry any burden whatever--now saw before them the officers of the
imperial guard differing but slightly from the privates, and not only on
foot, like them, but carrying heavy knapsacks on their backs; and, what
caused still greater astonishment, here and there kindly chatting with
their men during the march.

But suddenly there arose a tremendous commotion between the pillars of
the Brandenburg Gate, and the host of marshals and generals, resembling
a star-spangled avalanche, entered the city. Nothing was to be seen but
golden epaulettes, orders glittering with diamonds, embroidered
uniforms, and long white ostrich-plumes. Not on them, however, were the
eyes of the crowd fixed; they gazed only at that grave, pale man, who
rode by himself at the head of the dazzling suite. He wore no orders, no
golden epaulettes, no ostrich-plumes. Plain and unpretending was his
green uniform with its white facings; unadorned was his small
three-cornered hat. He sat carelessly and proudly on his magnificent
charger, which, prancing and rearing, seemed to greet the crowd. The
rider's features were as immovable as if made of stone; his eyes
occasionally, however, bent a piercing glance on the multitude, and then
gazed again into vacancy--the living emperor was transformed once more
into one of the marble triumphators of ancient Roman history. He
acknowledged, in a cold and indifferent manner only, the
constantly-repeated shouts of "_Vive l'Empereur_!" with which the boys
in the trees, the hired men in the streets, and the agents of the
police, saluted him at every step. To him these cries seemed to be the
usual and indispensable musical accompaniment to the step of his horse;
he did not take notice of it when he heard it in his progress; he missed
it only when it did not rend the air.

The emperor rode on, moody, quiet, and cold; but scrutinizing and vivid
were the glances which the marshals and the rest of his suite cast in
all directions. They seemed to be anxious to observe the inhabitants,
and to greet the lovely women who were adorning the windows of the
houses like garlands of flowers. But those beautiful women did not
return their salutations, and the victorious generals saw what they had
rarely seen--that the ladies did not accept their homage--that they
looked down on them with grave, mournful mien--nay, that most of those
charming faces were bathed in tears, not such as well from joy, but from
grief and anger.

Napoleon had taken as little notice of the jubilant cheers of the crowd
as of the tears of the ladies. He rode on, absorbed in his reflections,
toward the royal palace. The bells of the cathedral--in the lower vaults
of which the remains of the royal family were reposing; in the upper
halls of which the solemn wedding ceremonies of the kings and princes
and princesses of Prussia had always been celebrated--greeted with
joyous notes the triumphant enemy, and the doors of the palace opened to
him. In the brilliant halls in which formerly the submissive vassals and
functionaries of the king had done homage to their sovereign, were now
assembled the same persons, as well as the officers and cavaliers of the
court, to receive the French emperor as their sovereign and master.
There were in those halls seven ministers of the king, the members of
the municipality of Berlin, with the two burgomasters; the high
dignitaries of the clergy of both confessions, and the officers of the
different tribunals; the members of the royal household, headed by the
king's master of ceremonies, Count von Neale. And all these gentlemen
had come to present their respects to the man who had routed their army,
driven their king and queen from the capital, and transformed their city
into a French prefecture.

The broad folding-doors opened, and the grand marshal walked through the
halls, crying in a ringing voice, "His majesty the emperor!" A profound
and solemn silence ensued. The eyes of all were turned toward the door
by which the emperor was to enter. He appeared on the threshold, as
impassive as ever. But the silence continued; the shouts of "_Vive
l'Empereur_!" which had greeted Napoleon in the streets, had not
penetrated within the white hall, where the statues of the Hohenzollerns
were standing. But this silent greeting, which might seem too much to
the ancestors of the king, did not satisfy the little soul of the proud
conqueror. The grand marshal approached to introduce the master of
ceremonies, Count von Neale, and to inquire whether the latter would be
allowed to present the several dignitaries to his majesty.

"Ah," exclaimed Napoleon, "you are the Count von Neale, whose daughter
is so enthusiastic and warlike an Amazon.[19] The women of Berlin,
headed by your queen, were bent upon having war; behold the result! You
ought to keep your family in bounds, sir; you ought not to permit your
children to indulge in such senseless military tirades. Assuredly, I do
not want war--not that I am distrustful of my own strength, but because
the blood of my subjects is too precious to me, and because it is my
first duty to shed it only for their honor and security. The population
of Berlin is only a victim of the war, while the instigators of the
hostilities between France and Prussia have escaped. But I will
humiliate and impoverish the court-aristocracy, who dared to oppose me,
and make them beg their bread in foreign lands."

[Footnote 19: The French police had captured, a few days previous to the
commencement of the war, a letter, written by the young Countess von
Neale, containing the following passage: "Napoleon does not want war; he
must be compelled to wage it." Napoleon had read this letter.]

The Count von Neale, pale and trembling, stammered a few unintelligible
words and intended to withdraw, withered and crushed by the emperor's
anger. But the searching eyes of Napoleon were firmly and steadfastly
fixed on him, and, as if guessing his innermost thoughts, he said, in a
cold, disdainful voice, "Remain and do your duty!" The Count von Neale,
therefore, was obliged to stay; he had to introduce to the emperor the
officials and dignitaries, after the chancellor had previously presented
to him the seven ministers of Prussia.

The persons ordered to appear at this audience had formed in line on
both sides of the white hall, and the emperor walked slowly across the
wide apartment, while the Count von Neale, who was immediately behind
him, announced in aloud voice the names and positions of those standing
in the first line.

"Sire," he said, pointing to two gentlemen, adorned with costly golden
chains, standing in front of the line, "sire, the two burgomasters and
the members of the municipality of Berlin."

"I know these gentlemen," said Napoleon, and his face assumed a milder
air. "Both of you belonged to the deputation that wished to present to
me at Potsdam the keys of Berlin. You assured me at that time that the
rumors which had been circulated with regard to this city were entirely
unfounded; that the citizens and the mass of the people had been opposed
to the war, and that there was not one sensible man who had not clearly
foreseen the dangers threatening the country. I have now seen at my
entry that you were right; the good people of this city are not to blame
for this war, and only a handful of old women and young officers brought
about this mischief. The visit of the Emperor Alexander is the cause of
the events which have proved so disastrous to Prussia; and next, the
change which that visit produced in the feelings of the queen, who, from
a timid and modest lady, was quickly transformed into a restless and
warlike Amazon. She suddenly insisted on having a regiment of her own,
and on being present at the meetings of the council of state; she
directed the affairs of the government so skilfully as to bring it in a
few days to the verge of ruin. I shall assuredly know how to distinguish
those who instigated the war from those who tried to avoid it. I shall
chastise the former and reward the latter. Had your king not been so
weak--had he not allowed himself to be led by a faction which, oblivious
of the true welfare of the state and of the sovereign, did their best to
exasperate him against me, he would not be where he is. But my enemies
endeavored to intimidate him, and managed to frighten him by all sorts
of demonstrations. You, gentlemen of the municipality, ought to have
taken steps to inform the king correctly of the opposition of the
citizens of Berlin to a war with France. You will take care now to
preserve good order in the capital."

"Sire," ventured the first burgomaster, in a timid and humble voice,
"your majesty has seen to-day, from the enthusiasm of the citizens, what
spirit is animating them."

The emperor bent a rapid, inquiring glance on him, and seemed not to
have heard his words. "As a matter of course," said Napoleon, in a loud
and angry voice, "no more windows must be broken by the mob! You have to
see to it that such brutalities do not occur again. My brother the King
of Prussia ceased to be king on the day when he did not cause Prince
Louis Ferdinand to be hung for instigating the mob to break the windows
of his ministers."

Napoleon walked on without giving time to the burgomaster for a reply or
justification; and when the Count von Neale presented to him the members
of the tribunals, his brow was serene, and his face assumed the gentle,
winning air which always exercised so irresistible an influence on those
on whom the sunshine of his imperial kindness shed its rays.

The emperor conversed with these gentlemen about the peculiarities of
the administration of justice in Prussia, and listened to their replies
and explanations with polite attention.

"Your administration of justice seems to contain many excellent
features," said he, musingly. "Your laws have a splendid foundation of
equality, and cannot be arbitrarily perverted and abused to shield wrong
and injustice. I am astonished that, with this code of Frederick II. in
your hand, you were not able to render harmless and silence forever all
those seditious and revolutionary spirits that recently infested Berlin,
and now have made Prussia so unhappy. But, instead of suppressing this
agitation in time, you looked on idly, while miserable scribblers and
journalists, influenced by women, constantly added fuel to the fire. I
have been told of a contemptible journal in this city which is said to
have preached war against France with a rabid fanaticism. You ought to
have silenced the madman who edited it. Why did not you do so?"

"Sire, the laws of our country do not permit us to suppress the free
expression of opinion, and the discussion of public affairs. So long as
the periodicals, newspapers, and other publications, do not attack the
existing laws, or incite the people to riots, high-treason, or sedition,
we are not allowed to interfere with them. Every citizen has the right
to utter his opinion publicly and frankly, provided he does so in a
decent and lawful manner."

"That is to say, you have a free press," exclaimed Napoleon, "and grant
to every outsider the right of speaking of things, about which he does
not know any thing. With a free press no monarchy can be maintained,
especially in times of danger and convulsions. You see whither your
so-called free discussion of public affairs has carried you! Your
journalists preached war, and nothing but war; they irritated the
people, and made the king believe that they were the organs of public
opinion, while, in fact, they were but the echoes of the officers of the
guard, and of the foolish women who were bent on having war. Your queen
has used the newspapers as a weapon to exasperate and excite her
husband. Like Marie Antoinette of France, and Marie Caroline of Naples,
Louisa of Prussia has become the evil genius of her country. The Turks
are perfectly right in keeping their women imprisoned. It is the best
that can be done." He nodded to the gentlemen, and, passing on, allowed
the Count von Neale to present to him the dignitaries of the Church.

"The members of the clergy, I believe, ought to be content with me,"
said Napoleon, with a smile, which embellished his features as with a
sunshine of grace and sweetness. "It was I who restored the Church in
France; hence, I need not tell you how important and indispensable I
believe religion and the Church to be for the welfare of nations. Great
tasks and great duties are intrusted to the hands of the clergy.
Endeavor to fulfil them faithfully, gentlemen. Above all, avoid meddling
with politics. Pay exclusive attention to your own affairs, and do as
the gospel commands you: 'Render unto Cæsar the things which are
Cæsar's.'"

He turned toward Mr. Erman, counsellor of the supreme consistorial
court, and dean of the French congregation, and cast a piercing glance
on the venerable, white-haired clergyman.

"You, above all, sir, should not forget those words," said Napoleon, in
a loud voice. "For you are a Frenchman, and it is your duty, therefore,
wherever you may be, to educate faithful and devoted subjects to your
country. You might have done a great deal of good in this city by your
commanding talents and eloquence. You ought to have opened the eyes of
the population as to their true interests and the misery that
necessarily would be entailed on them by a war against France. You
failed to do so; you were silent while the fanatical war-faction was
clamoring; and while the reckless pranks of the officers of the guard
were intimidating good and sagacious patriots. I know very well that you
are not to be blamed for those excesses, but you ought to have tried to
prevent them. I know the faction whose fanaticism against France has
done so much mischief. I know that the queen was at the head of it. As
Marie Antoinette once gained over to her side the lifeguards at that
celebrated banquet, Louisa did the same with the officers of the
Prussian guard. She is, therefore, responsible for the savage war-cries
and the crazy arrogance of the officers. This woman, who has become as
fatal to her people as was Helen to the Trojans--this woman is the only
cause of the disasters of Prussia!"

His voice rolled like thunder through the hall; his eyes flashed fire,
and all the beholders, seized with dismay, turned pale and cast down
their eyes. Only old Counsellor Erman's face betrayed no fear or
anxiety. He looked at the emperor with a grave and almost angry air, and
his voice interrupted the ominous stillness which had followed
Napoleon's words.

"Sire," he said, loud enough to be heard by every one, "your majesty
says that the queen is the only cause of the disasters of Prussia--that
she brought about the war, and excited and instigated the evil passions
of the reckless! Sire, that is not true! The queen is as generous as she
is virtuous!"

The assembly felt as if thrilled by an electric shock--all fixed their
eyes timidly and anxiously on Napoleon--every one held his breath to
hear his reply, and felt already in advance the most profound compassion
for the unhappy old man who would be crushed with the victor's wrath.
But the emperor was silent. Only for a moment his eyes flashed--and his
glances seemed to pierce through the old man. Napoleon said nothing. He
seemed not to have heard Erman's words, but turned with perfect
composure toward the Catholic clergy, to converse with them about the
interests of their Church. He appeared, however, wearied; passed in a
more hurried manner to the rest who were introduced to him, and
evidently hastened to finish the audience. He then greeted the assembly
with a nod and left the hall, followed by the grand marshal and his two
chamberlains.

For an instant all remained immovable: Every one felt as if a brilliant
meteor had flitted past him, and as if his vision were too much dazzled
to be able to see any thing else. Then, however, all turned their eyes
once more to Erman, who stood at his place, calm and smiling, and looked
almost compassionately at those who had hitherto called themselves his
friends, but were not courageous enough now to approach him, and avoided
meeting his glances. He then quietly turned, and, followed by the other
clergymen, walked toward the door. But those who had stood before him
had also commenced leaving the hall, and in consequence the passage was
crowded. Erman suddenly saw himself in the midst of the throng, that
slowly moved onward, but it was apparently no mere accident that the
crowd was densest around him. Some hastily seized his hand; others
whispered to him: "Flee! conceal yourself!" Others again gazed at him
with eyes full of tenderness and emotion, and murmured: "We thank you in
the name of all the faithful!" But constantly the low words of "Flee!
conceal yourself!" were repeated. But the venerable man looked with a
calm, proud smile at those who surrounded him, and said in a loud and
firm voice, "I will not flee! I will not conceal myself!"

Just at the moment when Erman, followed by his timid friends and secret
admirers, was about to cross the threshold, a loud voice was heard to
exclaim, "Counsellor Erman!"

"Here I am," he replied, turning around, as well as all the rest.

A low murmur of horror pervaded the assembly; their faces turned pale,
and their brows were clouded. The moment so much feared had apparently
come--Erman could not escape, or conceal himself; for he who had called
out his name was none other than Duroc, the emperor's grand marshal, who
had evidently been sent by his master. Those who hitherto had been so
anxious to leave the hall, and thronged so eagerly round the courageous
old man, now stood still, and the grand marshal walked through the
opened ranks directly toward him. Every one seemed to hold his breath to
listen, and even to stop the pulsations of his heart, to hear the order
for Erman's arrest.

The grand marshal now stood before Erman, who had seen him coming, and
advanced a step to meet him. Duroc bowed, and said in a loud voice, "His
majesty the emperor has ordered me to invite Counsellor Erman, of the
supreme consistorial court, to dine with him to-morrow at noon. His
majesty desires me to tell you that he is anxious to make the
acquaintance of a man who is so faithful and courageous a servant of the
royal family, and endowed with sufficient magnanimity and boldness to
defend the absent and accused. His majesty has instructed me to assure
you that, far from disapproving your conduct, he highly esteems and
admires it, for the emperor knows how to appreciate every thing that is
high-minded and noble."



CHAPTER XI.

NAPOLEON AND TALLEYRAND.


Napoleon was rapidly pacing his cabinet. His face was pale and gloomy;
his lips firmly compressed, as they always were when he was angry, and
his eyes flashed with rage. He held two papers in his hand: one of them
was in writing, the other contained printed matter; and, whenever his
eyes glanced at them, he clinched his small hand, adorned with diamonds,
and crumpled the papers.

The emperor's anger, which filled with trembling and dismay every one
who had to approach him in such moments, had no effect, however, on the
man who stood in the middle of the room supporting one of his hands on
the table covered with maps and papers, and with the other playing with
the lace frill protruding from his velvet waistcoat. His small,
twinkling eyes followed calmly and coldly every motion Napoleon made.
Whenever his anger seemed to increase, a scarcely perceptible,
contemptuous smile played on the lips of this man, and a flash of
hatred, and, withal, of scorn burst from his eyes. But this never
lasted longer than a moment; his pale and sickly face immediately
resumed its impenetrable aspect, and the smile of a polite courtier
reappeared on his lips. This was Talleyrand, first minister of the
emperor--Talleyrand, who had originally served the Church as a priest,
then the republic as a minister--who had deserted and betrayed both to
become minister of the empire, and to combat and deny all the principles
he had formerly advocated and declared to be necessary for the welfare
of France.

"Talleyrand," exclaimed Napoleon, in an angry voice, standing still in
front of the minister, "I will set a rigorous example. I will trample
upon this haughty Prussian aristocracy that still dares to brave me--I
will let it feel the consequences of continued opposition to me! What
audacity it was for this Prince von Hatzfeld, while I was approaching
with my army, and already master of Prussia, to continue sending
information to his fleeing king and to the ministers, and to play the
spy! Ah, I am going to prove to him that his rank will not protect him
from being punished according to his deserts, and that I have traitors
and spies tried and sentenced by a court-martial, whether they be of the
common people or the high-born. Both of us have seen times when the
heads of the nobility were knocked off like poppies from the stalks; and
we will remind this aristocracy, which relies so confidently on its
ancient privileges, of the fact that such times may come for Prussia
too, unless those high-born gentlemen desist from their arrogant
conduct, and submit to me humbly and obediently. Cause the Prince von
Hatzfeld to be arrested immediately: order a court-martial to meet
within twenty-four hours, to try the traitor and spy. This letter will
be proof sufficient; nothing further is necessary to pass sentence of
death upon him."

"And will your majesty really carry out the sentence?" asked Talleyrand,
in his soft, insinuating voice, and with his polite smile.

Napoleon flashed one of his fiery glances at him. "Why do you put that
question to me?" he said, harshly.

"Sire, because I believe excessive rigor might not accomplish the
desired purpose. Instead of humiliating and prostrating the aristocracy,
it might bring about the reverse, and incite them to sedition and
insurrection. Sometimes leniency does more good than severity, and, at
all events, in applying either, the character of the nations to be
subdued ought to be consulted. The Italians are easily restrained by
severe measures, for they are, on the whole, cowardly and enervated;
and, when the straw-fire of their first impetuosity has gone out, they
feel enthusiastic admiration for him who has placed his foot on their
neck, and is crushing them. But the Germans are a more tenacious and
phlegmatic nation. They resemble the white bulls I have seen in Italy,
who fulfil with proud composure their daily task. When the driver urges
them but a little with the iron point of the stick, they work more
actively and obediently; but when he wounds too deeply, their phlegm
disappears, and they rush in fury against him who has irritated them too
much."

"And you believe that the German white bull is already irritated?" asked
Napoleon, morosely.

"Yes, sire! It is time to appease him, if he is not to grow savage and
furious. The execution of Palm has stirred up a good deal of ill
feeling, and it would be prudent to counteract it as much as possible.
Your majesty may menace and frighten the supercilious and arrogant
aristocracy of Prussia; but when they are trembling and terrified, then
exercise clemency and forbearance, which is the best way of subduing
the refractory."

The emperor made no reply, but crossed the room repeatedly. He then
stood still once more closely in front of Talleyrand, and looked him
full in the face.

"I hold to my decision," he said coldly. "I must have the Prince von
Hatzfeld immediately arrested, and the court-martial must meet within
twenty-four hours for the purpose of trying him as a traitor and spy."
He stepped to his desk, and hastily wrote a few words on a piece of
paper. He himself, having folded, sealed, and directed it, rang the
bell. "Take this," he said to the officer who had entered the room.
"Send immediately an orderly with this letter to Governor Clarke. He
must have it in five minutes."

When the officer had withdrawn, Napoleon turned once more toward
Talleyrand. "Let no one dare talk to me about mercy," he said, "for I
shall grant it to no one--neither to you, nor to the prince's wife, of
whose beauty Duroc once informed me. If the Germans resemble the Italian
bulls, I will break off their horns, and extract their teeth--then they
will be powerless. Not a word, therefore, about mercy, either for the
aristocracy, or for the journalists. These miserable scribblers must be
made to tremble, and lay their pens aside. What language that miserable
writer has dared to use against me in this paper--what sarcasms and
sneers he has taken the liberty of uttering against me! And the King of
Prussia did not have him arrested! this weak-headed government permitted
the libeller quietly to pursue his infamous course!"

"Sire, the editor of this paper, called _The Telegraph_, I am told was
one of the intimate friends and followers of Prince Louis Ferdinand."

"And, consequently, also one of the friends of the queen!" added
Napoleon, quickly. "That woman has disdained no expedient to wage war
against me; she hates me intensely, and with more energy than her feeble
husband. I will pay her for this hatred, and she shall feel what it is
to provoke my anger. Yes, I will humiliate her. She may now, perhaps,
repent with tears what she has done. She is already a fugitive. I will
drive her into the remotest corner of her country, and compel this proud
queen to bow before me in the dust, and beg me on her knees for mercy!
But I will not have mercy upon her; I will be inexorable! My anger shall
crush her and her house, as it has crushed whosoever dared oppose me.
Woe unto those who have been her willing tools; they shall atone for
having served her hatred against me!--Is any thing known about the
fellow who edited this paper, and wrote these wretched articles?"

"Sire, the editor is a certain Professor Lange, one of the most zealous
royalists, and especially an ardent admirer of the queen."

"Then he has fled with her, I suppose, and she will instigate him on the
way to pen new slanders, which, by virtue of the licentiousness of the
press, he will utter against me?"

"No, sire, he has not fled, but kept himself concealed here; our police,
however, ferreted out his whereabouts and arrested him. It remains for
your majesty to decree what is to be done with him."

"He shall be a warning example to the German scribblers, and remind them
of the penalty incurred by those who stir up resistance against me by
their insults and sneers. I will silence these libellers once for all,
and destroy their contemptible free press by the executioner's axe. The
punishment inflicted upon Palm seemed not sufficient--let M. Lange,
then, be another warning to them. Let him die as Palm died!"

"Your majesty, then, will give to the sentimental Germans another
martyr, to whom they will pray, and whose death will increase their
enthusiasm? Sire, martyrs are like fools. 'One fool makes many others,'
and thus we might say also, 'One martyr makes many others.' Suppose you
have this M. Lange shot to-day, because he is a faithful adherent of the
queen, and has written in accordance with her views--to-morrow
pamphleteers will spring up like mushrooms--there will be more libels
against your majesty, written by those having a vain desire of dying for
their beautiful queen, and in the hope that she would shed tears for
them, as she did for M. Lange."

"Ah," exclaimed Napoleon, scornfully, "you are strangely inclined to
mercy and reconciliation to-day. It seems a sickly fever of leniency has
seized you. Then you think I ought to pardon this miserable pamphleteer
instead of punishing him?"

"Sire, I believe this fellow will be much more severely punished if we
do not make him a martyr, but only use him as a tool as long as it suits
us. As this Professor Lange is so well versed in writing pamphlets, and
sending libellous articles into the world, let him continue his trade;
only let him be ordered to point his weapons against the queen, instead
of your majesty, and to revile her as zealously as he reviled you."

"And do you believe he will stoop so low as to eat his own words, and to
convict himself of lying? I was told he had hitherto glorified Louisa of
Prussia, and abused me, with an almost frantic enthusiasm."

"Sire, let us threaten him with death--let us offer him money. He will
succumb to fear and avarice. I know these journalists. They are
cowardly, and always in pecuniary trouble. Lange will turn his poisoned
arrows against the queen, and the admirer will become her accuser."

Napoleon, frowning, looked musingly at the floor. "What a miserable race
these men are!" he muttered. "One must devour them in order not be
devoured by them. Well, then," he added, in a loud voice, "you may try
it. Let us turn the weapons which the fanatical queen has sharpened
against us, against herself. But the accusations must be grave and
well-founded. The eyes of this foolish nation must be opened. We must
show to it that this woman, whom it worships as a chaste Lucretia, as a
beautiful saint, is nothing but a very pretty lady with a well-developed
form, endowed with little mind, but much coquetry, and who, so far from
being a saint, has a very human heart, and has had many an adventure. If
M. Lange is willing to write in this strain, I will pardon him.[20]
Tragedy must be sometimes transformed into a farce, that the stupid
people may laugh at what they were originally inclined to weep for. Ah,
that Queen of Prussia was bent upon waging war against me! She shall
have it. We will wage war against each other; let it be a mortal combat.
Did the Prussian ambassador accept our terms?"

[Footnote 20: Talleyrand's prediction was fulfilled. Threats of capital
punishment, and promises of ample rewards, transformed the editor of the
_Telegraph_ into as enthusiastic an admirer of Napoleon as he had
formerly been of Queen Louisa; and, after having hitherto written
nothing but fulsome eulogies, he now did not shrink from publishing the
most shameless libels against her. The immediate consequence was, that
the _Telegraph_ lost in a single day most of its subscribers. But Lange
continued publishing slanderous articles against Louisa, for the French
government paid him.]

"Sire, he was undecided yesterday; but he will not be to-day."

"Why not?"

"Sire, a courier has just arrived, and I came to communicate to your
majesty the news. He is from Stettin, and informed me that that fortress
has capitulated. Our hussars took possession of it."

The emperor smiled. "Well," he said, "when hussars take fortresses, new
military tactics will have to be invented, and the walls of fortresses
might just as well be razed. But you are right. The fall of Stettin is a
most important event, and the government will have to make up its mind
to accept our terms. We ought not, however, to accelerate the peace
negotiations too much. The terms which we have offered to Prussia are
tolerably favorable; if more couriers of this description should arrive,
we ought to render the terms more onerous, and the peace more
humiliating. Try to delay the definite settlement with the Prussian
ambassador; it is not necessary for us to sign the treaty so soon. Let
us await further news."

Just then the door opened, and the _valet de chambre_ appeared,
announcing a courier just arrived, who desired to deliver to his majesty
dispatches from the Grand-duke of Berg. Napoleon made a sign to him. The
door opened, and the courier, in his dusty and bespattered
travelling-costume, entered the room.

"Where is the grand-duke?" asked the emperor, quickly.

"Sire, in Prenzlau."

"Ah, in Prenzlau!" exclaimed Napoleon. "The gates have opened to him,
then! Give me your dispatches, and then go and take rest. I see you
stand in need of it!"

"Sire, I have been ten hours on horseback, and have just dismounted."

"Breakfast shall be served you. Apply for it to the _valet de chambre_
in the anteroom. Go!"

The courier had not yet closed the door of the cabinet after him, when
Napoleon opened the dispatches, and rapidly glanced over their contents.
With a proud, triumphant smile he turned toward Talleyrand. "I was right
in saying that we ought to delay the definite conclusion of peace," he
said; "we shall now be able to impose more onerous conditions on
Prussia, and she will have to submit to them. The Grand-duke of Berg has
sent me excellent news. The corps of the Prince von Hohenlohe has
capitulated near Prenzlau. The Prussian army exists no more. Ten
thousand men, with three hundred and twenty-five officers, about two
thousand horses, and fifty-four field-pieces, have been captured by our
forces. Ten thousand men! Now, if ever I should live to see the disgrace
of such a surrender of any of my own corps, I would make peace with the
enemy for the sole purpose of recovering my captured troops, and of
having the miserable officers shot who entered into such a capitulation.
Ten thousand men, and three hundred officers! Truly, my brother the
King of Prussia is unlucky, and I am sure the beautiful queen will
bitterly repent of her hatred against me."

"Sire," said Talleyrand, with a malicious smile, "it is said there is
but one step from hatred to love. Who knows whether the gods, in order
to punish the queen for her audacity, will not cause her to take this
step? Who knows whether her intense hatred is not even now but the mask
which conceals her love and admiration for your majesty? Beware of
approaching this beautiful Helen, lest your own hatred should run the
risk of being transformed into love."

"Ah," said Napoleon, angrily, "were my heart capable of such a change, I
should tear it with my own hands from my breast in order to smother its
desires. Though she were the most beautiful woman in the world, and
offered her love to me, I should turn away from her, and hurl my
contempt and hatred into her face. She has offended me too grievously,
for it is she who has destroyed all my plans, and instigated her husband
to assume a hostile attitude. France and Prussia are destined to be
friends, and a war against Prussia is for France equivalent to chaining
her right hand. If Prussia had remained my faithful ally last year, if
she had not joined the third coalition, our united armies at that time
would have seen not only Germany at our feet, but all Europe. Yet the
queen would not have it thus; childish and passionate, like all women,
she did not consult her reason, but only her feelings; and, as her
haughty heart could not bear the idea of accepting the friendship and
alliance of an emperor who had not been born under a royal canopy, she
preferred exasperating her husband against me, and plunging Prussia into
misery, distress, and disgrace. For this capitulation of Prenzlau is a
disgrace, and if I am glad of it as an enemy, because it is advantageous
to me, it causes me to blush as a soldier, because it disgraces the
whole military profession. Ah, there is justice in Heaven, and a
Providence is directing our affairs on earth."

"Ah, your majesty believes in such things?" asked Talleyrand, with a
sneer. "You believe there is a God who makes it His business to direct
the world and mankind, and to dabble in the trade of princes and
diplomatists? As I have not been ordained a priest like you, and never
have served the Church, I may be allowed to believe in God," said
Napoleon, smiling. "Yes, I believe in Providence, and I believe it was a
dispensation of Providence that those arrogant officers of the guard,
who thought it was only necessary to show themselves in order to drive
away the French, and who went so far in their madness as to whet their
swords on the doorsteps of the house of our ambassadors, should now be
duly humiliated and chastised. For the guards of Potsdam and Berlin are
among the captured of the corps of the Prince von Hohenlohe, and they
will soon arrive in Berlin. A royal prince also, the brother of Prince
Louis Ferdinand, is among the prisoners."

"Your majesty is right," said Talleyrand, "we are able now to impose
more rigorous terms on Prussia. If your majesty permit, I will
immediately enter into negotiations concerning this point with M. de
Lucchesini. He is at present awaiting me."

"Inform him of the latest news; that will render him submissive. You
know my intentions, and know, too, what I expect Russia to do. The king
offered Baireuth to me instead of the contribution of one hundred
million francs which I had asked for. Such a substitution is out of the
question now. Besides, we shall add the following conditions: Prussia,
in case Russia declares war against Turkey, will ally herself with
France, and march her whole army against the emperor of Russia."

"Ah, sire, you are bent, then, on breaking the heart of the beautiful
Louisa?" asked Talleyrand, laughing cynically.

"It is my reply to the oath she and her husband took with Alexander at
the grave of Frederick II. Go, and inform Lucchesini of the latest news
and of my conditions."

"Your majesty promised to be so gracious as to receive this forenoon the
ambassadors of the petty German princes, who have been begging for an
audience since yesterday morning."

"It will not by any means hurt these petty dignitaries to practise a
little the virtue of patience," said Napoleon, harshly. "I shall admit
them to-morrow, in order to get rid at length of their complaints. Do
you still remember that I instructed you several months since to draw up
the necessary reports for the formation of a new state in Northern
Germany, between the Rhine and the Elbe?"

"Sire, I carried out your order at that time, and delivered to you the
report concerning this state."

"Yes, it is in my hands, and it is time for us to carry out my views in
regard to it. You drew it up with the pen, and I executed and
illustrated it with the sword. Both of us, therefore, have done our
duty. To-morrow I will inform the ambassadors of these petty princes of
our views as to this new state, in order that they may evacuate their
own. Go to Lucchesini. I will take a ride, and pay a visit to my gardens
in Charlottenburg."

Talleyrand bowed, and left the cabinet. In the large hall contiguous to
it, he saw Grand-marshal Duroc, who was standing at the farthest window.
Talleyrand hastened to him as fast as his limping leg would permit, and
drew the grand marshal, who had come to meet him, back into the window.
"M. Grand marshal," he said, in a low voice, "I am about to turn traitor
and to disclose to you a secret of the emperor. My life is in your
hands; if you should inform his majesty of what I am about to do, I must
perish. Will you do so?"

Duroc smiled. "Your excellency," he said, "I am a good patriot, and as I
know how indispensable your life is to the welfare and happiness of
France, I shall take care not to undertake any thing against you; I
should, on the contrary, always deem it incumbent upon me to protect the
life of your excellency, and to attend to your welfare whenever an
occasion offered. You may, therefore, safely communicate your secret to
me. I would die sooner than betray you."

"I thank you," said Talleyrand, bowing. "Listen, then; the emperor has
issued orders to arrest the Prince von Hatzfeld, and to have him tried
by a court-martial."

"Impossible!" ejaculated Duroc, turning pale. "The Prince von Hatzfeld
has always been a zealous and warm adherent of France, and it was
precisely on account of this that he was in high disfavor with the court
party. The inhabitants of Berlin also reproach him with having prevented
them from defending themselves, and with having intentionally failed to
remove the arms from the arsenal. What, then, may he have done that he
should be tried by a French court-martial?"

An imperceptible smile passed over Talleyrand's astute features. "He has
written a letter to the king," he said, "which, if need be, _may_ be
construed as the letter of a traitor and spy, especially since an
opportunity is desired to set an example, and to intimidate the haughty
aristocracy, because they avoid coming hither and doing homage to the
conqueror."

"If that be the intention," sighed Duroc, "the Prince von Hatzfeld is
lost. The emperor will be inexorable."

"Is it necessary, then, to have some one put to death in order to
frighten the others?" asked Talleyrand. "But you are right. The emperor
will have no mercy. The court-martial will assemble to-morrow."

"To-morrow!" said Duroc, sadly. "Oh, into what distress it will plunge
the family! The young princess loves her husband passionately; she
expects to become a mother in a few months, and is to lose the father of
her child before it sees the light!"

Again a smile overspread Talleyrand's face. He inclined closer to the
grand marshal and placed his small, emaciated hand on Duroc's vigorous
arm. "My friend," he said, in a low voice, "you must try to save the
prince!"

"I?" asked Duroc, wonderingly.

Talleyrand nodded. "Yes, you! You have long known the family; you have,
on your various missions to Berlin, been repeatedly at Hatzfeld's house,
and, as a matter of course, the young princess in her distress and
despair will apply to you for advice and assistance. You must procure
her an interview with the emperor, and she will thus obtain an
opportunity to implore his majesty on her knees to have mercy on her
husband. The whole aristocracy, then, in her person will humbly kneel
before the emperor, and they will all be pardoned in the person of the
prince. My dear sir, you must at all events procure the princess an
interview with Napoleon."

"But did you not tell me that the emperor was determined not to pardon
the prince, and that the court-marital will assemble to-morrow?"

"I did. I might have added that the emperor, when I begged him to have
mercy on Hatzfeld, angrily rejected my application, and told me he would
not permit any one to renew it. He was very emphatic about it. Even
Duroc, he said, should not dare to conduct the princess to him, and thus
enable her to implore his mercy."

"Well?" exclaimed Duroc.

"Well," said Talleyrand, composedly. "I believed I might conclude
precisely from this peremptory order, that he wished to indicate to me
that he was inclined to pardon the offender in this manner."

"What!" said Duroc, smiling, "the emperor orders us not to admit the
Princess von Hatzfeld; he says he will not pardon the prince, and you
conclude from all this that he will grant her an audience and the pardon
of her husband?"

"Certainly," said Talleyrand. "What is language given us for, unless to
veil our thoughts? Whenever I have to deal with sagacious and prominent
men, I presume that their thoughts are just the reverse of what their
words express. Only simpletons, and men of no position, say what they
mean. Try it, by all means. Procure the princess an interview with the
emperor, and leave the rest to her eloquence and beauty."

"But I cannot go to her and offer her my intercession. It would look as
though the emperor had sent me; and if he then should pardon the prince,
it would be generally believed to be a mere _coup de théâtre_."

"You are right. We must avoid by all means letting the affair assume
such a character," said Talleyrand, smiling. "If the princess really
loves her husband, and if she really intends to save him, she will
naturally first think of you; for you are acquainted with her and her
family, and are known to be the emperor's intimate and influential
friend. It will be but natural for her to invoke your intercession."

"If she does so, I will try, to the best of my power, to be useful to
her, for I have spent many pleasant hours at the prince's house, and it
would be agreeable to me to do her a favor. But I am afraid you are
mistaken. The emperor never takes back his word, and if he has said that
he will have no mercy, and not admit the princess, that will be the end
of it, and all endeavors of mine will be in vain."

"Try it at least," said Talleyrand. "Perhaps you may accomplish your
purpose. But you have no time to lose, for, as I have told you already,
the court-martial is to assemble to-morrow. What is to be done, must be
done, therefore, in the course of to-day."



CHAPTER XII.

THE PRINCESS VON HATZFELD.


Grand-Marshal Duroc was pacing his room in great agitation. Evening was
drawing nigh, and still he had not received any intelligence from the
Princess von Hatzfeld. Yet her husband had been arrested in the course
of the forenoon and taken to the palace, in one of the rooms of which he
was locked up and kept under strict surveillance. The news of his arrest
had spread rapidly through Berlin, and cast a gloom over the whole city.
Everywhere in the streets groups of pale and grave men were to be seen,
who whispered to each other this latest dreadful event, and vented their
anger in secret imprecations.

All were convinced that the Prince von Hatzfeld must die; every one felt
it to be a new humiliation inflicted upon himself personally, that one
of the most respected and distinguished men in Prussia was to be charged
with felony, and tried as a common spy. No one doubted that the
court-martial would pass sentence of death upon him; and that Napoleon
would show no mercy, nor feel any compassion, could be read in his stern
and melancholy air when, followed by his suite, he rode through the
streets to Charlottenburg.

All the reproaches heretofore uttered against the Prince von Hatzfeld
were forgotten; the people forgave his weakness, his cowardice, his
predilection for France. At this hour, when he was menaced by the
universal enemy and oppressor they only remembered that he was a German,
and that the anger of the conqueror ought to make him a martyr of the
German cause. They whispered to each other that Napoleon had selected
the prince merely for the purpose of intimidating the opposition by an
example of severity, and of frightening the royalists. "He is lost!"
they said, mournfully. "The emperor will not pardon him, for he intends
to punish in the prince's person ourselves, who love the king and would
like to send him information concerning the enemy and his armies."

"The Prince von Hatzfeld is lost!" said Duroc, also, as he was uneasily
and sadly pacing his room. "Yes! This time Talleyrand, in spite of all
his sagacity, has been mistaken. The emperor does not intend to pardon
the prince, for he has selected Davoust, Rapp, and Clarke as members of
the court-martial, and they have no mercy on those whom their master has
accused. The princess does not think of coming to me and of invoking my
intercession. And even if she did, I should not be able to assist her.
All my supplications would be in vain. The emperor has resolved on the
prince's death from policy, not in auger; hence nothing can save him."

Just then the door opened, and the footman hastily entered. "Grand
marshal," he said, "there is a veiled lady outside, who insists on
seeing you. I have vainly requested her to give me her name; she will
only mention it to your excellency, and--"

Duroc did not longer listen to him. He himself hastened into the
anteroom, and, offering his arm to the lady, conducted her into his
cabinet.

"Go down-stairs, Jean," he hurriedly said to his footman,"--down-stairs,
hasten into the Palace Place, and when you see the emperor approaching
in the distance, return and inform me of it."

Jean slipped out of the door, and Duroc locked it after him. "Well,
madame," he then said, "speak! We are alone."

The lady hastily removed the veil from her face, and showed her
beautiful, pale features bathed in tears.

"The Princess von Hatzfeld!" exclaimed Duroc, successfully feigning an
air of great surprise.

"Yes, it is I," she said, breathlessly and with quivering lips. "I come
to beseech you to assist me! You must do so--you must not desert me! My
husband has been arrested! He is charged with having secretly informed
the king of the operations of the French army. He is accused of being a
spy. Oh, merciful Heaven! he will die, for the emperor is bent on having
him executed; he desires to crush and ruin us all! Do you understand it
is my husband?--he whom others charged with being a traitor to his
country, because, in his generous exertions to avoid bloodshed, he
always admonished the inhabitants to be patient and submissive--he is
charged now with having betrayed the emperor, and is to be executed as a
spy! They have dragged him from my side and taken him away. I fainted
with grief and despair. Oh, I hoped--wished it were death that
prostrated me! But God would not let me die; He preserved my life, that
I might try to save my husband. The physician advised me to remain, and
endeavor to take rest. Duroc, how can I take rest while the life of my
beloved husband is in danger? I rose from my couch, for the thought
flashed through my mind, 'Duroc will assist me in saving him!' And now I
am here, and beseech you, have mercy on a wife's despair! Duroc, help
me, so that I may save the prince! You have a kind and generous heart,
and the emperor loves you! Implore him to have mercy on my husband! By
all that is dear to you, I beseech you, beg for him!" And quite beside
herself, pale and in tears, the young princess was about to kneel down
before Duroc, but he quickly raised her up, and, bowing deeply, kissed
her cold, trembling hands.

"I thank you, princess, for having thought of and believed in me," he
said. "But I am afraid that your faith will be in vain."

"Pray for my husband," she said sobbing. "You see, I shall die if I
lose him. Have pity on my youth, and on my unborn child! Implore the
emperor to have mercy on the prince!"

"You believe the emperor would listen to me?" asked Duroc, sadly. "Then
you do not know him; you do not know what he is when he is angry. I have
been in more than twenty battles; bullets have hissed all around me;
death was at my side, and I did not tremble, but I tremble when the
emperor is angry. When I behold his marble face--his flashing eyes--when
his voice resounds like the roll of thunder, I comprehend how women
faint and flee. I myself feel then what I never felt in the
battle-field--I feel fear!"

"Then you will not assist me!" exclaimed the princess, wringing her
hands. "You will not do any thing for him? And yet he is innocent. My
noble husband never committed the crime with which he is charged. He is
no spy--no traitor--and yet he is to die! I have no friend, and the only
man who I had hoped would aid me desert? me, because he is afraid of his
master's frown!"

"No," said Duroc, "I do not desert you, I only tell you what the emperor
is in his wrath; I only tell you that the tempestuous ocean is pleasant,
and the thunder mild, compared with him in such a mood. However, I would
gladly expose myself to it if I could be useful to you and to your
husband. But it is a vain hope. The emperor would not listen to me; he
would interrupt me, and order me to be silent. My intercession would
irritate him even more, and, instead of delaying the terrible
catastrophe, I should be likely to accelerate it."

"Well," exclaimed the princess, wringing her hands, "if you yourself
dare not speak and beg for him, let _me_. I am not afraid of the
emperor's anger, and when a woman clasps his knees and implores his
mercy, he will at least listen, and his heart may be softened. I beseech
you to grant me this favor--conduct me to the emperor! Let me implore
him to pardon my husband!"

"You are right, it is perhaps the only way to save his life. Napoleon
has a generous heart; your tears, perhaps, will touch him, for he cannot
bear the sight of a weeping woman, and genuine grief always moves his
heart. But just because he is conscious of his weakness, he will avoid
seeing you, and give stringent orders not to admit any one. You must, at
present forget your rank. You must not insist that the footmen announce
you, and open the folding-doors, but you must make up your mind to
appear, without any regard to etiquette, before the emperor, and oblige
him to grant you an audience."

"Do you not see that I am nothing but a poor, unhappy woman, begging for
mercy?" said the princess, with a melancholy smile. "Would I have come
to you if I thought still of the rules of etiquette? Give me an
opportunity to see the emperor, and, though it were in the open street,
and thousands standing by, I should kneel down before him, and, like a
beggar-woman, ask for the alms of his mercy--for my husband's life is in
his hands!"

"Well, if such be your feelings, princess, I hope to be able to procure
you access to him. We must act as generals do in the field, and try to
outwit the enemy--we must deprive the emperor of the possibility of
avoiding an audience. After his return from Charlottenburg and when once
in his rooms, all will be in vain; he will admit no one, and close his
ears against all supplications of mine. Hence you must meet him at the
moment when he enters the palace. You must--"

A rapid knock at the door interrupted him, and Duroc hastened to open
it. "Is it you, Jean?" he asked.

"Yes, M. Grand marshal, it is I," said the footman, "I come to inform
your excellency that the emperor is just riding up the Linden with his
suite. He will be here in a few minutes."

"All right. Go now, Jean."

"Let us go, too," said the princess, quickly approaching the door. "Give
me your arm, M. Grand marshal; I am trembling so, I might sink down
before appearing in the presence of the emperor!"

"Come, princess," said Duroc, compassionately, "lean firmly on me.
Heaven will give you strength, for you have a noble and fearless heart.
Come! I will conduct you to the foot of the staircase, which the emperor
will have to ascend in order to reach his rooms. You may accost him
there. God and love will impart strength to your words!"

With rapid steps they crossed the suite of rooms and stepped into the
so-called Swiss hall, where the orderlies and soldiers of the guard on
duty that day were assembled. The bearded warriors looked surprised at
the grand marshal--whose face was graver than they had ever seen it in
battle--and at this lady, hanging on his arm, as beautiful and pale as a
lily. Duroc, who generally had a smile and a pleasant word for the
soldiers of the guard, the faithful companions of so many battles, took
no notice of them. He hastened with the princess through the hall into
the corridor, and down the broad winding stairs opening immediately into
the second court-yard of the palace. He then conducted her across
through the inside portal to the splendidly-carpeted principal staircase
in the rear of the vestibule.

"Await the emperor here," said Duroc, drawing a deep breath. "He will go
up this staircase, and he cannot, therefore, avoid meeting you. But he
has a sharp eye, and if he should see you from afar, he might, divining
your intention, turn around and go the other way. Ascend as far as the
first landing. The emperor cannot see you there before he mounts the
first steps, and then he will not turn hack."

The princess hastily ascended the steps, which she had so often done
with a joyous heart, and in a brilliant toilet, when repairing to the
festivals of the royal court. Duroc followed her, and told the sentinel
posted at the staircase and presenting arms to the grand marshal, that
the lady had received orders to wait there for the emperor, who--

Just then the drums rolled, and the guard in the court-yard was called
out.

"The emperor!" whispered the princess, sinking down on her knees,
clasping her hands and praying silently.

"The emperor!" said Duroc, hastening down-stairs into the second
court-yard.

Napoleon rode in at that moment, and Duroc, glancing uneasily at him,
saw that his mien was even gloomier than previous to his ride; he saw
that flashes of anger darted from his eyes, ready to wither the first
being that should come near them. On riding up the Linden to-day, he had
again missed the wonted music of "_Vive l'Empereur_!" and noticed that
the people, standing here and there in groups in the street, when he
passed them, had frowned instead of greeting him with the usual cheers.
This want of respect, this visible defiance had darkened his countenance
and embittered his soul. Just as he alighted from his horse, and threw
the bridle to Koustan, the Mameluke, the grand marshal, pale, panting,
and in visible emotion, stepped up to him. Napoleon noticed it, and his
angry glance intimidated Duroc.

"You want to inform me that Berlin is seditious?" he asked, in a stern,
hard voice. "I am not astonished at it. This city seems to be inclined
to such movements. But I am about to set it a terrible example; I will
show Berlin in what manner I punish rebels, and will cure its seditious
tendency." Striking his boots with his riding-whip, as was his habit
when out of humor, he crossed the court-yard in the direction of the
staircase.

"No, sire," said Duroc. "Berlin is not seditious. I only intended to
implore your majesty's noble and generous heart to grant me a favor."

The emperor looked at him with some surprise, and, advancing rapidly, he
set foot on the first step of the staircase, his eyes directed to the
grand marshal. "Well, what is it?" he asked, ascending the second step,
and turning to Duroc, who was walking behind him.

"Sire, have mercy on the unhappy Princess von Hatzfeld! I beseech your
majesty to grant her an audience."

"No, no," exclaimed the emperor, "do not say a word about that! I do not
wish to see her, I--But what is this?" he interrupted himself, for he
had now reached the first landing, and beheld the princess. She had
knelt down, and, stretching out her clasped hands, fixed her large azure
eyes on him with a most heart-rending, suppliant air.

Napoleon's brow grew darker than before, and with an angry air he asked,
"What does this mean, M. Grand marshal? Who is this lady?"

"Sire, it is the Princess von Hatzfeld," replied Duroc, in a low voice.
"She implored me to procure her an interview with your majesty. Sire,
pardon me for having conducted her hither, that she herself might beg
your majesty for this audience. I counted on your generous heart, which
will forgive the wife who conies to implore your mercy for her husband."

"Have you not been told that I have expressly forbidden this affair to
be mentioned to me?" exclaimed the emperor, in a threatening voice. "The
court-martial alone has to judge the prince and I will and must not
influence its verdict."

"Oh, sire," exclaimed the princess who was still on her knees, "have
mercy on me!--have mercy on my unhappy husband!" Tears choked her voice,
and ran in torrents over her pale face.

Napoleon seemed to be moved by this piteous spectacle; his eye became
milder, and his frown disappeared. "Madame," he said, bending over her,
"rise. A lady in your circumstances ought to kneel before God only. In
consideration of your condition, I grant you an interview. Grand
marshal, follow me, with the princess." He quickly ascended the
staircase, and, without looking round, walked across the halls and rooms
to his cabinet. Breathless, scarcely touching the floor with her feet,
and strengthened by her profound emotion, the princess walked behind him
by the side of Duroc.

"The emperor now enters his cabinet," whispered Duroc. "You have reached
your destination."

"My God, have mercy on me!" sighed the princess, and raised her eyes
imploringly to heaven. She was now in the cabinet, and Duroc withdrew to
the door. Napoleon stood in the middle of the room; the brightly-burning
fire shed a light over his whole figure, and rendered prominent his
stern features.

"Sire," exclaimed the princess, falling on her knees, "I beseech you
have mercy on my husband! Mercy, sire, mercy!"

"Mercy!" ejaculated Napoleon, harshly. "Do you know the crime of which
your husband stands accused?"

"Sire, I know only that he worships your majesty; I therefore do not
believe in his guilt," exclaimed the princess.

"He has acted the part of a miserable spy," added Napoleon, raising his
voice. "After he had already sworn to me the oath of obedience and
fealty, he mailed a letter to the King of Prussia, in which he reported
to him the number, the spirit, and movements of the French troops. That
is the act of a traitor and a spy, and as such he will be found guilty
by the court-martial to-morrow."

"Sire, it is impossible! My husband cannot have done any thing
of the kind. Oh, believe me, your majesty, he is innocent! He
has been slandered in order to bring about his ruin; but he is
innocent--assuredly he is innocent! He never wrote such a letter; he
cannot have written it!" The emperor quickly walked to his desk, and
took from it a paper, which he handed to her. "Here is the letter," he
said. "Do you know your husband's handwriting?"

The princess fixed her eyes, dimmed by tears, on the paper she held in
her trembling hands. She then uttered a cry, so piercing and
heart-rending, that Duroc, who was standing at the door, felt the tears
starting into his eyes. Napoleon himself could not help shuddering.

"It is his handwriting!" muttered the princess, dropping the paper upon
the floor. Her quivering lips had now no longer the strength and courage
to repeat her prayer--her head fell on her breast, and she uttered only
low groans and sobbed.

The emperor seemed to be touched by her wordless yet eloquent grief. His
manner, which had hitherto been stern, became gentle and kind, and he
looked down with an expression of compassion on that kneeling,
despairing form. He stooped, picked up the letter, and placed it in the
hands of the princess. "Madame," he said, "here is the letter. Do with
it what you please. For this letter is the only thing proving his
guilt."

The princess looked up to him with a joyous, surprised glance. The
emperor smiled, and pointed silently to the fire-place. She rose hastily
from her knees, rushed toward the fire, and threw the paper into it.

"It is burning! It is burning!" she joyfully shouted. "My husband is
saved! My husband is free!" and uttering a scream, she tottered back,
and fell in a swoon at the emperor's feet.

Duroc rushed to her aid, and, raising her in his arms, was about to
carry her out of the room; but the emperor himself rolled an easy-chair
toward her, and assisted Duroc in placing her on it.

"Now, call Roustan," said Napoleon, "he will help you to remove the
fainting lady. But quick, lest she awake and thank me! Conduct her to
her husband, who is here at the palace. Let her personally announce to
him that he is free, and tell him that he is indebted for his release
solely to her intercession. Make haste!"

Roustan entered as soon as Duroc called him, and both of them carried
the princess on the easy-chair out of the room. The emperor gazed
musingly after them, and a sarcastic smile played on his lips. "Well,"
he said to himself, "I believe this scene will be an excellent match to
the oath at the grave of Frederick the Great. It will form a glorious
subject for an engraving--one that will be more honorable to me than was
the oath to the beautiful queen. Artists will be delighted to publish
such an engraving, and the good city of Berlin will say that I am a
great man, and know how to forgive injuries."

Just then Talleyrand, who had the right to enter the emperor's cabinet
at any time, without being announced, appeared on the threshold.

"Ah, Talleyrand," exclaimed Napoleon, "if you had come a little earlier,
you would have witnessed a very touching scene. The Princess von
Hatzfeld was here."

"I know it, sire. I have just met the poor fainting lady in the
anteroom, and Duroc described to me in a few words what had taken place.
How lucky it was that there was a fire in the room!"

The emperor bent a piercing glance upon Talleyrand, but the minister's
face was perfectly calm and impenetrable. Not the slightest approach to
a sneer was visible in it.

"This proof of generosity will win the hearts of all to your majesty,"
added Talleyrand. "People will forget Palm; they will only think of
Hatzfeld, and praise you as a modern Cæsar. When the letters his enemies
had written to Pompey were shown to Cæsar, he refused to read them, and
threw them into the fire (there is always a fire burning in the right
place and at the right moment), saying, 'Although I am sure to master my
anger, yet it is safer to destroy its cause.' Your majesty has followed
Cæsar's example, and, if you have no objection, sire, I shall induce
Professor Lange to give an enthusiastic and eloquent account of this
sublime scene to the inhabitants of Berlin."

"Then you have already gained him over to our side?" asked Napoleon.
"The ardent champion of the queen has been converted?"

"He has, sire, thanks to his fear of death, and to the five thousand
francs which I offered him, and which had the same effect upon him as a
basilisk's eye on the bird. These German journalists, it seems, are even
more needy than ours, for they can be had for less."

"Five thousand francs," said Napoleon, musingly, "and for that sum he
sells his honor, his fealty, and his conscience! Ah, what miserable
creatures men are, after all, and how right are those who despise them!"

"Sire, will you permit me to enter and make my report?" asked Duroc,
looking in at the door.

"Come in, grand marshal. And now tell me, how is the poor princess? Has
she recovered from her swoon?"

"Yes, sire, she was still unconscious when we carried her into her
husband's room. He uttered a loud cry, rushed to her, and clasped her in
his arms. She was awakened by his kisses and his anxious and tender
ejaculations. A torrent of tears burst forth, and, encircling his neck
with her arms, she exclaimed, 'You are saved! You are mine again! the
emperor has had mercy on me!'"

"Poor woman! She was really in despair, but behaved very nobly and with
a great deal of tact, and I am pleased with her."

Talleyrand scarcely smiled, as he muttered to himself:

"Yes, the emperor is right in being pleased with her, for the poor
little lady really took the sentimental farce for a tragedy, and neither
she nor Duroc looked behind the scenes."[21]

[Footnote 21: This occurrence is strictly historical, but it is
commented upon by the French and German historians in a widely different
sense. The French historians, without exception, treat it as a touching
proof of the emperor's generosity. So does Thiers in his "Histoire du
Consulat et de l'Empire," vol. vii., p. 148; and the Duchess d'Abrantes,
in her "Mémoires," vol. xi., p. 340; as well as Constant, in his
"Mémoires," vol. iii., p. 380. But the German historians treat it as a
well-calculated intrigue, in order to intimidate the nobility by an act
of severity, and to conciliate them by the subsequent generosity
displayed by the emperor.--Vide "Mémoires d'un Homme d'État," vol. ix.,
p. 316; Schlosser's "History of the Nineteenth Century," vol. vi., p.
232; Haeusser's "History of Germany," vol iii., p. 42. The view taken by
the German historians is supported by the letter of the Prince von
Hatzfeld, which formed the sole basis of the charges preferred against
him, and which the French take care not to lay before their readers. The
incriminated passage was as follows: "Officially I know nothing of the
French army, but that I saw yesterday a requisition upon the
municipality of Potsdam, signed by D'Aultanne. The French say their army
is eighty thousand strong. Others state the number at only fifty
thousand. The horses of the cavalry are said to be greatly exhausted."]



CHAPTER XIII.

THE SUPPLIANT PRINCES.


The hour when Napoleon was to give audience had come, and the ministers
of the petty German princes, who had hitherto vainly implored Talleyrand
to procure them admission to the emperor, were at length to accomplish
their purpose, and to receive from the mouth of the conqueror himself
the decision of their fate. He was in his cabinet pacing with rapid
steps, while Talleyrand was standing at the desk, and with a pencil
entering a few notes in his memorandum-book.

"No," said the emperor, sullenly, "I shall have no mercy on these petty
German princes, and their miserable whining shall not shake my
resolution. Frederick II., who uttered the most cutting sarcasms against
these petty sovereigns, would have done much better if he had destroyed
these grubs in the tree of royalty--if he had made a new crown from
their small coronets. As he failed to do so, I shall not imitate the
example set by him, and my brother Jerome shall wear the crown which
shall make him a German king."

"Your majesty, then, will adopt the plan of a new kingdom in Northern
Germany, which I had the honor to draw up?"

"Yes, but I shall somewhat extend the boundaries, which are too narrow
as proposed by you. How much of Hesse, for instance, did you incorporate
with the new kingdom?"

"Sire, the entire northern part of Hesse, so that the cities of Marburg
and Hersfeld would form the southern boundary of the new kingdom, and
that Cassel would be a good capital for the new king."

"And you would leave Hanau and Fulda to that perfidious elector?" asked
Napoleon. "No, no, you are too generous. The Elector of Hesse and his
whole family deserve to be annihilated, and I am not willing to have
mercy on him or on the other petty tyrants. Brunswick, Nassau, Cassel,
are all friends of England; they never will be faithful allies of ours;
it is best, therefore, to depose them."

"The elector has already sent hither two ambassadors, whom he has
authorized to give us the most fervent assurances of unwavering fealty,"
said Talleyrand, smiling.

"I know the promises of these legitimate princes!" exclaimed Napoleon,
shrugging his shoulders. "I know what they are worth. So long as they
are in prosperous circumstances, their heart is full of haughtiness and
malice. There are, in their eyes, no rights of man--only rights of
princes; no subjects--only slaves. But no sooner are calamities
approaching than they grow discouraged, and in their cowardice they
degrade themselves before their people so far as to flatter them in the
most fulsome and abject manner, making promises to them which they are
neither able nor willing to fulfil. I have been told that these
loquacious Germans, in their impotent wrath, have called me the 'Scourge
of God!' Well, then, they shall be right. To these petty princes who are
playing the part of great sovereigns, and perverting the _rôle_ of
royalty and of the throne into a miserable farce--to these caricatures
of sovereignty--I will be a 'scourge of God!' I will scourge them to
death! Who are now waiting in the anteroom?"

"Sire, there are the two ambassadors of the Elector of Hesse, M. de
Malsburg and M. de Lepel; Chancellor von Müller, ambassador of the
Duchess of Weimar; M. de Münchhausen, ambassador of the Duke of
Brunswick; and, finally, a deputation of Poles, who have come to do
homage to your majesty."

"I shall bid the Polish ambassadors welcome," exclaimed Napoleon,
emphatically, "and make to these gentlemen many promises representing
the most brilliant prospects. An insurrection in Poland just now would
be highly conducive to the success of my plans. I will try to bring it
about by all the means at my disposal, and accomplish my purpose. Hence,
I will even go in person to Warsaw to fan the enthusiasm of the Poles."

"Sire," said Talleyrand, "that will be throwing down the gauntlet to the
Austrian government, and if it intends to preserve its Polish provinces,
it will have to take it up."

"We must take care that Austria does not regard as a gauntlet the bone
that I mean to throw to the Poles," said Napoleon. "You will instruct my
ambassador at Vienna to dispel carefully all such suppositions and
apprehensions, by repairing to the Emperor of Austria and assuring him
that I do not intend to fulfil the promises which I am making to the
Poles; that, on the contrary, in case a rising should take place in
Poland, I will take care not to let it reach Galicia, but to confine it
to the Polish provinces of Russia and Prussia, provided the Emperor
Francis maintain his present neutrality. Send instructions to-day to
this effect to my minister in Vienna. And now I will receive the
ambassadors."

"Whom will your majesty admit first?"

"Introduce in the first place the gentlemen from Hesse," said Napoleon,
entering the small reception-room contiguous to his cabinet. Talleyrand
crossed this room and entered the adjoining audience-hall, in which the
plenipotentiaries had already waited for an hour. He beckoned the two
ambassadors of Hesse to approach, and introduced them, by virtue of his
position as minister of foreign affairs, into the reception-room, where
the emperor was waiting for them.

"Sire," he said, "the ambassadors of the Elector of Hesse." Napoleon
returned only a careless nod to their deep obeisances, and went to meet
them.

"I admire the Elector of Hesse, because he dares to remind me of
himself," said the emperor, sternly. "He has been intriguing against me
too long to suppose that I would deal leniently with him. I formerly
made friendly offers to him, and requested him to join the Confederation
of the Rhine. Then it was time for him to prove his friendship and
attachment to me, and to stand by me as a faithful ally. But at that
time he still hoped that I would succumb in the struggle with Prussia;
the tirades of the officers of the Prussian guard resounded in his ears
like the music of a triumph already obtained over me, and drowned the
voice of France. But he would not side openly with Prussia either; he
would remain neutral until he could distinctly see which side would be
victorious. Equivocal in his words and actions, he thought only of the
safety of his person and his riches, and not of his country, his people,
and his honor! Let him now receive the punishment due to his duplicity.
I shall take possession of his states and appropriate his crown. The
Elector of Hesse has ceased to reign."

"Sire," said M. de Lepel, in a timid, suppliant voice, "the elector
dares to appeal to the generosity of your majesty. Marshal Mortier, with
his forces, occupies Cassel and the Hessian states, and declares them to
be French possessions. The elector and his crown-prince only escaped
imprisonment by flight."

"They have been but too lucky to be allowed to escape," exclaimed
Napoleon, angrily. "It is really time to make a rigorous example for
once, and to prove to the sovereigns, who regard war as a game of
hazard, that it may become very serious, and that they may lose their
crown and life by it. That would induce them to weigh well the
consequences of war in their councils of state before taking up arms."

"Sire, the elector, our master, repents of what he has done, and
acknowledges that he was wrong," said M. de Malsburg, humbly. "His
highness is ready to bow to every thing, and to submit to any conditions
your majesty may be pleased to impose on him."

"What does that mean?" asked Napoleon. "What does your elector mean by
conditions? I do not remember having imposed any conditions on him, for
those which I offered six months ago were annulled by the events that
have since taken place."

"But the elector hopes that your majesty, nevertheless, will remember
them, and show favor instead of deserved punishment. Your majesty, by so
sublime an act of generosity, would forever attach our master and his
whole house to the French empire. You would have no more faithful and
devoted servant in Germany than the Elector of Hesse."

"Sire," said Talleyrand, approaching suddenly, "I am free to intercede
for the Elector of Hesse, who is so humbly imploring your majesty to
have mercy on him!"

"Sire, have mercy on our unfortunate master, who is wandering about in
foreign lands, solitary and deserted!" exclaimed M. de Malsburg, in a
tremulous voice.

"Have mercy on our state, and on our people, who are devoted to their
legitimate sovereign," said M. de Lepel. "Sire, our soldiers have been
disarmed and disbanded; our treasury seized, and a French
governor-general is carrying on the administration of our country in the
name of your majesty; and still the sovereign and the people hope that
Napoleon will have mercy on them--Napoleon, who is called the Great, not
only because he knows how to conquer states, but to be generous. Sire,
the sword of the conqueror builds only visible thrones that may perish;
but the magnanimity of the conqueror builds in the hearts of men thrones
that are imperishable."

"Ah, I should not like to count too much on the throne erected in the
heart of the Elector of Hesse," said Napoleon, shrugging his shoulders.

"Sire, will not your majesty listen at least to the promises which these
gentlemen are authorized to make in the name of the elector?" asked
Talleyrand.

"Well, what are they?" asked Napoleon. "What else have you to say to me
in the name of your sovereign?"

"Sire, the elector is ready to submit at discretion to your majesty,"
said M. de Lepel. "Above all, he will hasten to join the Confederation
of the Rhine. Besides, he is ready to pay a contribution--to surrender
the fortresses in his states to the French, and to incorporate twelve
thousand men with the French army. He only implores your majesty, in
consideration of all these sacrifices, to leave him his sovereignty, and
the possession of his titles, honors, and hereditary states."

"No," ejaculated the emperor. "No; he has forfeited his sovereignty; he
is unworthy of being a prince. There is no dynasty in Germany which has
been a more persistent enemy to France than that of Hesse-Cassel. Your
master disdained to grasp the hand which I offered to him; the sword
has decided now between him and me. Fate urges me to inflict upon him
the punishment he has deserved by his misdeeds. Do not tell me the
Hessian people sympathize with the fate of the elector, and that they
are fondly attached to their legitimate sovereign. It is not true! The
people of Hesse are nursing the elector, and they are right in doing so.
He sold the blood of his subjects to England for many years, so that she
might wage war against us in both hemispheres. To this trade in human
beings he is indebted for the riches which he has amassed, and with
which he has now fled from his country. Can you deny this, gentlemen?
Can you deny, further, that the elector bitterly reproached one of his
generals, who commanded the troops sold to England in America, with
having held back his men, and with not having led them mercilessly
enough into the fire? Do not the Hessians know that the elector
upbraided him in this manner only because he received twenty-five ducats
for every soldier who was killed in battle? Well, why do you not speak?
Tell me that this is untrue--tell me that thousands of mothers are not
weeping for their sons who have fallen in America, and whose graves they
will never behold--that able-bodied men were not compelled by thousands
to leave their country as sold slaves, and that the imprecations of
those leaving did not unite with the curses of those remaining, in order
one day to become at the throne of God a terrible accusation against him
who ruined his states and his people, and enriched himself with the
blood and tears of his subjects. Why do you not speak? Dare to say again
the Hessian people love their sovereign, and long for his return?
Speak!"

His voice rolled like thunder; his eyes darted fiery glances at the two
gentlemen, who were standing before him, pale and dismayed, and who
dared not look in the face of the emperor. Even Talleyrand, by an
involuntary instinct of fear, had withdrawn several steps to the door,
and his face, usually so calm and imperturbable, was betraying some
apprehensions lest this terrible storm might be discharged on him, too,
and some of its bolts hurled at his head.

The two envoys endeavored to utter a few words, but they spoke in so low
a voice that no one understood them. They felt that the eyes of Napoleon
were still fixed on them, rendering them confused and incapable of
making any reply.

A smile, as a sunbeam, flashed through the clouds on the emperor's face,
and his glance became milder. "I see at least that you are unable to
deny the truth," he said. "Go home, gentlemen! Tell your master his
career is finished, and that he has ceased to reign. Tell the people of
Hesse, however, that they shall be happy and prosperous henceforward.
Delivered from those cruel and infamous compulsory services which the
elector was in the habit of imposing upon his subjects, the people will
now be able to devote their exclusive attention to the culture of their
fields; their taxes shall be diminished, and they shall be ruled in
accordance with generous and liberal principles. Tell the people of
Hesse what I have said to you! Go!"

He waved his hand imperiously toward the door and turned his back to
them. With drooping heads, pale and trembling, MM. de Lepel and de
Malsburg left the room. Napoleon stepped to the window, and was
vigorously drumming a march on the rattling panes.

"Sire," said the feeble voice of Talleyrand behind him, "sire, the
ambassador of the Duke of Brunswick."

"The Duke of Brunswick?" asked Napoleon, quickly turning to the
gentleman who was standing by the side of Talleyrand, and who bowed
deeply as soon as the emperor fixed his eyes upon him. "The Duke of
Brunswick?" repeated Napoleon. "I do not know any Duke of Brunswick. It
may be that I shall remember him after, a while. Let the dear duke wait
until then. I have to attend to more important matters than to quarrel
about antiquated and lost titles. Who else desires an audience?"

"Sire, the ambassador of the Duchess of Weimar," said Talleyrand.

"Introduce him," commanded Napoleon, "and in the mean time, sir, explain
to me," he said to M. de Münchhausen, "--to me who is the Duke of
Brunswick."

"Sire, he is a mortally wounded, a blind old man, who implores your
majesty to permit him to die quietly in his capital, and sleep in the
tomb of his ancestors," said the ambassador, deeply affected. "But in
order to die calmly, he implores your majesty to give him the assurance
that you will not deprive his son of the inheritance of his ancestors,
and that you will not avenge upon the son the misfortunes of the father.
Sire, the dying Duke of Brunswick sends me to recommend his family and
his state to your majesty."

"The ambassador of the Duchess of Weimar," said Talleyrand, entering
with M. de Müller.

The emperor greeted with a rapid nod the envoy of Weimar, and then
turned once more to that of the unhappy Duke of Brunswick.

"I know of no Duke of Brunswick," said Napoleon, sternly. "His name and
titles have been buried on the battle-field of Auerstadt. What would he
who sent you have to say if I were to inflict on the city of Brunswick
that subversion with which, fifteen years ago, he threatened the capital
of the great nation which I command?[22] The Duke of Brunswick has
disavowed the insensate manifesto of 1792; one would have thought that
with age reason had begun to get the better of his passions, and yet he
has again lent the authority of his name to the follies of hot-headed
youth, which have brought ruin upon Prussia. To him it belonged to put
women, courtiers, and young officers, into their proper places, and to
make all feel the authority of his age, of his understanding, and
position. But he had not the strength to do so, and the Prussian
monarchy is demolished, and the states of Brunswick are in my power.
Tell him that I shall show him that consideration which is due to an
unfortunate general, justly celebrated, struck by that fate which may
reach us all; but that I cannot recognize a sovereign prince in a
general of the Prussian army. After his conduct toward France he cannot
expect me to exercise toward him a ridiculous and undeserved
generosity."

[Footnote 22: When the Duke of Brunswick, at the head of the army of the
King of Prussia, took the field against the French, he said, in a
manifesto to his troops, "We will conquer and burn the rapacious city of
Paris."]

The ambassador of Brunswick withdrew, sighing, and with tearful
eyes.[23] The emperor looked gloomily at him till he had disappeared.

[Footnote 23: As soon as M. de Münchhausen returned to Brunswick and
communicated to the unfortunate duke the utter failure of his mission
and Napoleon's threatening reply, the mortally wounded old man left his
capital and state, in order not to run the additional risk of being
taken prisoner by the French. On leaving his palace, carried on a litter
by his faithful servants, he was heard to wail in a low voice, "_Quelle
honte! quelle honte!_" and the tears burst from the sockets of his
ruined eyes. The Duke of Brunswick had gone by way of Celle, Hamburg,
and Altona, to Ottensen, a village on Danish soil. But since the day on
which he had been compelled to leave the palace of his ancestors and his
state as a fugitive, he would take no food; he would not support the
burden of life any more--death by starvation was to deliver him from his
sufferings. It was in vain that his servants and his faithful physician
implored him to desist from this fatal purpose; he remained immovable.
Only once the supplications of his physician succeeded in persuading him
to eat an oyster. Formerly oysters had been a favorite dish of the duke,
and they excited his appetite even now. But scarcely had he tasted it
when he repented of his weakness, and his fixed purpose to die of hunger
returned as intensely as ever. He spit out the oyster and cried, "Man,
what are you doing? You give me my eyes to eat!" Henceforward it was
impossible to shake his determination. He died after long, excruciating
sufferings, on the 10th of November, 1806, at Ottensen. His remains
were brought back to Brunswick on the 10th of November, 1810, by his son
and successor, Duke Frederick William, so famous as commander of the
Corps of Vengeance.]

"And now, Talleyrand, I will go to greet the envoys of Poland," he said,
taking his hat, and advancing a few steps. But at that moment his eyes,
as if accidentally, seemed to behold M. de Müller, who was standing by
the side of Talleyrand. "Ah, I forgot the ambassador of the Duchess of
Weimar. Well, perhaps it would have been fortunate for you if I had
forgotten you. For when remembering you, I must remember the arrogance
and obstinacy of that little duke who dared to oppose me and endeavored
to frustrate my will."

"Sire," said M. de Müller, "the duke believed that his honor, his duty,
and his rank required him not to act contrary to military fealty. He was
connected with Prussia by virtue of military treaties of long years'
standing; hence, he believed it incumbent on him to adhere to them even
when the King of Prussia, to the profound personal regret of the duke,
entered into open hostilities against France."

"Ah, bah! treaties!" ejaculated Napoleon. "I tell you, your duke had not
his senses about him when he dared to oppose me. This is a good time for
any prince to lose his states in a moment. You have just seen how I have
acted in the case of the Duke of Brunswick. I shall have no mercy on
those who oppose me and dare to bid me defiance! I will drive these
wolves back into the swamps of Italy, whence they came!" Throwing his
hat with an angry gesture on the floor, the emperor added in a loud
voice, "Like this hat, I will crush them, so that no one in Germany will
ever think of them. I feel really tempted to treat your prince in the
same manner!"

"Sire, your majesty, however, condescended to lend a favorable ear to
the prayers of the Duchess of Weimar," said the ambassador, in a timid
voice.

"It is true," said Napoleon, "the duchess is a noble lady; if I pardon
her husband, it is only for her sake, and because she is a sister of a
princess closely related to me. But you ought not to rely too much on my
forbearance and generosity. If the duke persists any longer in his
resistance--if it be true that he has not yet left the Prussian
service--I take back the promise I gave the duchess, and your duke shall
learn what it is to oppose me!"

"Sire," said M. de Müller, "the duchess sent me hither in order to
inform your majesty that her husband has left the Prussian service, and
will return to Weimar to occupy himself only with the welfare of his own
state. She ventures now to remind your majesty of your promise to
forgive the duke and leave him in possession of his inheritance."

"Well, if that be so, I shall fulfil my promise," said Napoleon, in a
milder voice. "I shall not deprive your master of his sovereignty; but,
as a matter of course, he will have to submit to some sacrifices. I
shall communicate my wishes concerning this point to my minister, M. de
Talleyrand, and he will inform you of them. Do not fail to give the duke
distinctly to understand that he is indebted for his state and political
existence solely to the respect I feel for his wife and her sister, the
Margravine of Baden." The conqueror nodded to the envoy and walked
toward the door leading into the audience-hall. Talleyrand quickly
picked up the emperor's hat from the floor, and carrying it to him,
said, "Sire, you have lost your hat."

Napoleon smiled. "Well," he said, "now-a-days, when so many lose their
heads and their crowns, a man may be pardoned for once losing his hat.
Come, accompany me to the good, enthusiastic Poles!"



CHAPTER XIV.

TRIUMPH AND DEFEAT.


Scarcely had the emperor crossed the threshold of the audience hall,
when it resounded with cheers and the constantly-repeated shout of
"_Vive l'Empereur_!" He thanked the envoys of Poland for these
greetings, and quickly approached them. They presented a magnificent
spectacle in their national costume, adorned as it was with gorgeous
embroidery and diamonds. "Introduce these gentlemen to me, Talleyrand,"
he said; "I will cherish in my memory the names of those whom henceforth
I shall regard as friends!"

When Talleyrand presented them in succession, Napoleon listened to each
of their high-sounding old aristocratic names with a kindly nod and a
gracious air, which delighted the hearts of the Poles.

"Sire," said the Count of Dombrowsky, a silvery-haired man of seventy
years--"sire, in bending our knees before your majesty, we represent
all Poland, which is exclaiming, 'God save Napoleon the Great!--the
liberator of nations!'"

"God save Napoleon the Great!--the liberator of nations!" echoed the
others, kneeling down and extending their arms toward the emperor.

"Liberator of nations!" repeated Napoleon, smiling. "No one can liberate
nations unless they do so themselves."

"But, in order to liberate themselves, the nations stand in need of a
noble and high-minded chieftain!" exclaimed the old count. "Sire, the
Polish nation trusts in you; it is on its knees, praying your majesty
that you may become the liberator whom it has so long looked for. The
great Napoleon has arisen upon France like a sun--he has come, seen, and
vanquished the universe! O invincible Cæsar! In seeing you, all my
wishes and those of my countrymen are fulfilled! Already we consider our
country as saved, for in your person we worship the wisest and most
equitable of legislators. You will redeem us! You will not permit Poland
to be dismembered. Oh, sire, Poland puts her trust in the redeemer of
nations! Poland puts her trust in Napoleon the Great, who will raise her
from her degradation!"

"Poland puts her trust in you," repeated the Poles; and, in the
enthusiasm of their patriotism, forgetful of etiquette, they crowded
around Napoleon, and, again kneeling, kissed his hands and the hem of
his garment.

Napoleon smilingly allowed them to do so, but his eyes assumed a graver
expression. "Rise now, gentlemen," he said, "I have received through you
the homage of poor, weeping Polonia, but now let me receive also in you
the brave sons of this unhappy land, and speak to the _men_ of Poland.
Rise.'"

The Poles rose, and looked with beaming eyes and in breathless suspense
at the emperor, whose face exhibited the austere regularity of a statue
of ancient Rome.

"It would afford me the liveliest pleasure to see the royal throne of
Poland restored," he said, "for it would also secure the independence of
the adjoining states, which are now threatened by the unmeasured
ambition of Russia. But words and idle wishes are not sufficient. When
the priests, the nobility, and the citizens, make common cause--when
they are determined to conquer or die--then they will triumph, and may
count on my protection."

"Sire, the nobility, priests, and citizens, are already united and
resolved," exclaimed Count Dombrowsky. "We are only waiting for our
liberator to proclaim our independence."

Napoleon assumed a very serious air. "I cannot proclaim your
independence before you are determined, sword in hand, to defend your
rights as a nation."

"Sire, we are so determined!" unanimously shouted the Poles.

The emperor received this interruption with a gracious smile and added:
"You have been upbraided with losing sight of your genuine interest, and
of the welfare of your country, during your long-continued domestic
dissensions. Taught by your misfortunes, be harmonious, and prove to the
world that the whole Polish nation is animated by one spirit."

"Sire, we will prove it to the world," exclaimed the Poles, lifting up
their hands, as if taking a solemn oath.

The emperor turned his stern eyes slowly and piercingly from one to
another. He apparently wished to greet them all, and to read the
innermost recesses of their hearts. Then he said, in a loud voice, "The
restoration of Poland requires blood--blood, and again, _blood_!"

"Sire, we are joyously ready to shed ours for the sacred cause of the
fatherland," exclaimed Count Raczinsky. "We wish to know only, or at
least hope, that it will not be in vain. Sire, Poland is extending her
arms toward you; she is beckoning you with a passionate love; she is
longingly calling to you, 'Great Cæsar, come to my aid, that the sun may
once more beam upon me--that you may disperse the long night of my
torture, and that a happy day may again dawn for me!' Oh, sire, will you
listen to the supplications of Poland?--will you come to her and break
her chains?"

"No," said Napoleon, "I will not go to weeping Poland, shaking her
chains, and only wailing and complaining instead of acting, but I will
go to the men and heroes of Poland, who have thrown off their fetters,
and shed their blood for their country! Go home and tell this to your
countrymen, and ask _them_ when I shall come!"

"Sire, they will say as we say now, 'God save Cæsar! We clash our
swords, and dance the sacred war-dance, that he may come and let us see
his face!'"

"As soon as it is time," said Napoleon, significantly. "Go, my friends,
and tell your countrymen so. The time for weeping is past--that for
action has come. Improve it, and be wise. Return home as fast as you
can, for I should like to be with you before the present year has
expired. Farewell!"

He greeted them in so winning a manner that, charmed with his
affability, they again enthusiastically shouted, "Long live Napoleon the
Great, the liberator of nations!" Amid the cheers of the sanguine Poles,
Napoleon returned to the small reception-room, accompanied by
Talleyrand, whom he had beckoned to follow.

"Well," asked he when they were alone, "what do you think of it? Will
the Poles rise?"

"I am convinced of it, sire! Your words were like the steel striking the
flint, and kindling the tinder of their national ardor. It will burn,
sire--burn so brightly that Russia, Austria, and Prussia, may be badly
injured in their Polish provinces."

"Certainly not Austria," said Napoleon, quickly; "for the rest, we shall
know how to extinguish the fire as soon as it burns too extensively.
Forward your dispatch to our ambassador in Vienna to-day. He is to
assure the Emperor of Austria in the most emphatic manner that I do not
intend permitting the Polish insurrection to spread too far, and that
his Galician provinces, at all events, shall not be endangered.--Well,
Duroc, what do you bring?" continued he, when the door opened, and the
grand marshal entered with a letter in his hand.

"Sire, I bring two messages at the same time. In the first place, a new
envoy of the King of Prussia has just arrived; he is the bearer of this
letter which the king, who is now at Graudenz, has addressed to your
majesty."

"Ah," exclaimed Napoleon, "he is at Graudenz, which is still closer to
the boundary of his states. But I will drive him to the last town on the
frontier. The queen must learn what it is to provoke a war!" He took the
letter, which Duroc handed to him, and opened it hastily.

"Sire," said Duroc, "the bearer of that letter, Major von Rauch, asks
the favor of an audience, in order to lay before your majesty the wishes
and requests of his king, who has orally communicated them to him."

Napoleon turned to Talleyrand. "Receive him first," he said; "then
report to me, and we shall see whether I can grant him an interview.
But, wait a moment! Let us first see what is in the king's letter." He
broke the seal and unfolded the paper. When about to read it, he raised
his eyes toward Duroc.

"Sire, Prince Augustus of Prussia has just arrived as a prisoner of war,
escorted by a detachment of our soldiers. The Grand-duke of Berg sends
him to your majesty as a trophy of your victory. Colonel de Gerard
accompanies him."

"Did the prince behave as a brave soldier?" asked Napoleon.

"Sir, Colonel de Gerard states that even our own men admire his heroism.
The prince had separated himself with a battalion of grenadiers from the
corps of the Prince von Hohenlohe, and was marching along the Uker. Our
dragoons were pursuing him, but he repulsed them repeatedly, and would
have succeeded in escaping, with his soldiers, if the impassable
character of the ground had not detained him. He got into a marshy
country, intersected by many small canals, which greatly impeded him.
The horses sank into the mud, and their riders had to alight and lead
them. The prince also was compelled to wade through on foot. He was
leading his charger by the bridle, and just as he felt firm ground under
him, and was about mounting, the horse broke from him and plunged into
the Uker to save its own life. Our dragoons succeeded then in overtaking
and capturing the prince; and the Prussians, seeing that their leader
was taken, also surrendered. The grand-duke reports this affair at
length to your majesty, because he knows that you honor bravery in an
enemy, and because this living trophy would no doubt assume a higher
value in your eyes."

"Where is the prince?" asked Napoleon, quickly.

"Sire, he is in the anteroom, and awaits whatever disposition your
majesty may make of him. Sire, he humbly requests your majesty to permit
him to repair to his parents, to recover from his wounds."

"I will see him. Admit him at once."

"Sire, would not your majesty graciously permit him to arrange his
toilet a little?" asked Duroc. "The prince is not dressed sufficiently
well to appear before your majesty."

"No matter," said Napoleon. "Bring him in immediately." He waved his
hand to Duroc, and then looked again at the letter which he still held
in his hand.

Talleyrand, who was standing near him, fixed his subtle eyes on the
emperor's face. He saw that it brightened up with proud satisfaction,
and that gradually a cold, disdainful smile played on his lips.

"I shall be able to impose very rigorous conditions upon the new
Prussian envoys," said Talleyrand to himself; "the king seems to submit
very humbly, for the pride of a _triumphator_ is beaming on the
emperor's forehead."

Just then Napoleon threw the letter impetuously on the table. "Read it,
Talleyrand," he said, carelessly. "It is always instructive to see how
small these men are in adversity, and how overbearing in prosperity. And
such men desire to be sovereign princes, and wear a crown!"

Talleyrand was extending his hand toward the letter when the door
opened, and the grand marshal entered.

"Sire," he exclaimed, "Prince Augustus of Prussia."

"Let him come in," said Napoleon, sitting down slowly and carelessly in
the easy-chair, covered with purple velvet, which, was standing in the
middle of the room. He beckoned Talleyrand to come to him.

At this moment there appeared on the threshold the tall, slender form of
Prince Augustus of Prussia. Duroc was right; the prince was not in very
courtly trim to appear before the emperor. His uniform was torn and
bespattered; he had but one boot, and that covered with mire; the other
had stuck in the marshy ground near Schonermark, and he had replaced it
by a heavy wooden shoe, such as those worn by German peasants; his right
arm was in a linen bandage, flecked with blood, and an oblique wound,
covered with a broad black plaster, was on his forehead. Such was the
miserable condition in which the nephew of Frederick the Great appeared
in the brilliant halls of the royal palace of Prussia before the
conqueror of his country and of his house, who received him, seated, and
scarcely nodded in return to the stiff military salutation of the
prince. Napoleon looked sternly at the prisoner, and his lips betrayed
the anger seething in his breast. The prince, however, apparently did
not notice this, nor feel uneasy and irritated at the singular situation
in which he found himself; his eyes met those of the emperor calmly and
fearlessly; he did not bow his head, but carried it erect; not a trace
of fear or sorrow was to be seen in his youthful countenance; a faint
smile indeed was playing on his red, full lips when he glanced over the
room, and again at Napoleon, behind whom Talleyrand and Duroc were
standing in a most respectful attitude.

"You are a brother of Prince Louis Ferdinand, who was killed at
Saalfeld?" asked the conqueror, in a harsh voice.

"Yes, sire, I am a son of Prince Ferdinand of Prussia," was the grave
reply.

"A nephew of Frederick II.," exclaimed Napoleon. "A nephew of the heroic
king who loved France so well, that his heart and opinions were those of
a Frenchman."

"Sire," said the prince, calmly, "history teaches, however, that the
great king was not always the friend of that country, and that his love
for it did not prevent him from waging war against it. His enmity
against France gained him no less glory than his friendships for its
poets and _savants_.

"Ah, you refer to Rossbach," said Napoleon, shrugging his shoulders. "We
have expunged that name with the names of Jena and Auerstadt, and the
monument that once stood on the battle-field of Rossbach is now on the
way to Paris--a trophy of our victorious army."[24]

[Footnote 24: On the day after the battle of Jena, the emperor said to
General Savary, while riding across the battle-field of Rossbach,
between Halle and Merseburg: "Gallop to the left in this direction;
about half a mile from here you will find the column erected by the
Prussians in memory of that battle." Savary advanced in the direction
indicated, and found the small column in the middle of a corn-field.
Waving his handkerchief, General Savary made a sign that he had
succeeded in discovering the monument, and Napoleon galloped with his
suite across the plain to contemplate it. The storms of half a century
had beaten upon it, and it was difficult to decipher the numerous
inscriptions with which it was covered. The division of General Suchet
just passing the spot, the emperor ordered them to have the monument
removed and sent to Paris. The pieces were put into a caisson, and the
orders executed.--"Mémoirs du Duc de Rovigo," vol. ii., p. 293.]

The prince bent his head a little. "It is true," he said, "the goddess
of victory is very fickle. The future therefore consoles those who have
succumbed in the present."

The emperor cast an angry glance on the prince, who met it with a bold,
unflinching air.

"I see you are, both by birth and sentiment, a brother of Prince Louis
Ferdinand," said Napoleon. "Like him, you belonged to the hot-headed
young men who would have war at any price. Hard blows were required to
moderate your war-fever. I hope you are cured of it now. Your brother
has expiated his mad arrogance on the battle-field of Saalfeld. It is
your fate to return as a prisoner of war in the most pitiful plight to
the capital of Prussia, which you left a few weeks since with such
foolish hopes of victory. You ought to have listened in time to reason,
and not to the siren voice of the queen, who, in a manner so disastrous
to Prussia, inveigled all the young men to plunge into the Charybdis of
war, and--"

"Sire," said the prince, interrupting him in an almost threatening
voice--"sire, no reflections on the queen, if you please! Having
conquered us, you are at liberty to humiliate and abuse the vanquished,
if your majesty derive pleasure from such a triumph, but the noble and
unhappy queen should not be dragged into a quarrel of men. We do not
claim the excuse of having been inveigled by her, and her exalted virtue
does not deserve that charge."

"Ah," exclaimed Napoleon, scornfully, "like all young men, you seem to
belong to the enthusiastic admirers of the queen."

"Sire, that proves that the young men of Prussia are still imbued with
respect for virtue. It is true we all adore the queen as our tutelary
saint; she is the radiant pattern of our mothers, our wives, and
daughters; she is the ideal of all--and those who have once been so
happy as to have seen and spoken with her, bow to her in love and
admiration."

"Had all of you bowed less to her, Prussia would not now lie humiliated
in the dust," said the emperor, harshly. "Prussia and France are
destined by Nature to be friends, and I, who never have sought war, but
always regarded it only as a deplorable necessity, was greatly inclined
to offer my hand to Prussia in peace and friendship. But your queen and
your officers of the guard were bent on having war, and believed they
would win laurels by waging it. Now you have it with all its terrors.
What has it brought upon you? You have lost a brother by it, and you
yourself had to lay down your arms at Prenzlau."

"Sire," said the prince, in generous pride, "I request your majesty not
to confound me with those who concluded the capitulation of Prenzlau. I
did not capitulate; I was taken prisoner, sword in hand, but I did not
surrender it voluntarily."

"Young man," said Napoleon, in grave, cold calmness, "beware of being
plunged into deeper distress by your haughty spirit. The Prussian
princes are not now in a position to utter high-sounding words. Your
king is fully aware of this. Listen attentively to what I tell you: he
has begged me for peace in the most submissive manner; he is imploring
me to grant him my friendship, and calls himself happy because I am
dwelling in his palaces."

"Sire, that is impossible," exclaimed the prince, carried away by his
impulsive temper. Napoleon shrugged his shoulders, and then turned his
head a little aside toward his minister. "M. Talleyrand, please read to
us the letter," he said; "I merely glanced over it.--Owing to the
portentous events of the last days, you are, prince, without direct news
from the king. You may, then, derive from this letter some information
concerning his situation and sentiments. Read, M. Minister! And you,
prince, take a seat."

He pointed to one of the chairs standing near the door. Prince Augustus,
however, did not accept this gracious invitation. He bowed, and said,
smiling, "Your majesty will permit me to stand, for my costume is hardly
in harmony with gilt chairs, and I believe it behooves a poor vagabond
like myself to stand humbly at the door. Moreover, Prussian etiquette
requires us to stand in listening to the words of our sovereign."

"Read, Talleyrand," said the emperor, and leaning back carelessly, he
tried to discover in the prince's face the impression which the king's
letter would make upon him. Talleyrand read as follows:

"_Monsieur mon Frère_: When I begged your imperial majesty to grant me
peace, I consulted my reason, but I have now consulted my heart. In
spite of the terrible sacrifices which you have imposed on me, sire, I
desire most anxiously that the treaty, which has already been secured by
the approval of the main points, will entitle me soon to resume my
amicable relations with your imperial majesty, which the war interrupted
for a moment. It is an agreeable duty for me, _monsieur mon frère_, to
manifest, by a proof of confidence, my sincere desire to cultivate your
friendship; and I believe I do this by stopping the further advance of
the Russian troops, without waiting for the definitive conclusion of
peace.

"I was anxious that your majesty should be received and treated at my
palaces in a manner agreeable to you. I have zealously taken such steps
as were necessary for that purpose, and, according to my power, in the
situation in which I am now, I hope my endeavors have been successful.
In return, your majesty will permit me to recommend my capital and the
province of Brandenburg to your generosity. This province, so little
favored by Nature, is, as it were, a creation of my immortal ancestor. I
hope, sire, you will regard it as a monument he erected to himself; and
the numerous points in which your majesty resembles that great man, I
trust, will be an additional inducement for you to order his work to be
treated in a magnanimous manner.

"Besides, I should like to request your majesty kindly to exempt the
district of Halberstadt and the duchy of Magdeburg from the cruel losses
you are imposing on me. Such an order I should regard as a precious
guaranty of your personal feelings toward me, and you may depend upon
it, sire, I should zealously strive to reciprocate these feelings in the
most cordial manner. I pray God to take you in his Holy keeping, and
remain, _monsieur mon frère_,

"Your majesty's obedient servant,

"FREDERICK WILLIAM."

While the letter was being read, Napoleon did not avert his eyes for a
single moment from the countenance of the prince. He saw that he blushed
with indignation at first, and that gradually a profound grief
overshadowed his noble features.

"Well, was I not right?" asked Napoleon, when Talleyrand had concluded.
"Does not your king submit to all my conditions? Does he not bid me
welcome to his palaces?"

"Sire," said the prince, mournfully, "it does not behoove me to censure
the words of my king. When he has spoken, I must be silent. I only dare
to observe that your majesty may see from this letter that the queen
does not meddle with government affairs. Had she done so, your majesty,
no doubt, would not have received this letter of Count Haugwitz."

"Of Count Haugwitz?" asked Napoleon. "Of the king, you mean?"

"Sire, the king lent to this letter only his name and handwriting; Count
Haugwitz furnished the words and the spirit it breathes."

"Then you believe that the queen does not share the views of her
husband?" asked the emperor, hastily. "You believe she would still
insist on the further continuation of the war if her opinion were
consulted?"

"Sire, I only take the liberty to state that she would not have written
such a letter."

"I know it very well!" exclaimed Napoleon. "Your queen hates me; she
would die rather than beg my friendship; she would bury herself under
the ruins of her throne rather than put an end to this war and call me
her brother. But I will bend that haughty soul--I will crush her heart,
and make her repent of what she is doing. I will--but," he suddenly
interrupted himself, "what is the matter with you! You turn pale! You
are tottering, prince!"

The emperor arose and advanced a few steps; but the prince motioned him
back. "It is nothing," he said faintly, "only a momentary weakness--that
is all. I have not taken rest for several days and nights, and loss of
blood has exhausted my strength. Besides--why should I shrink from
confessing it--I am hungry, sire; I have eaten nothing for the last
twenty-four hours."

"Poor young man," said Napoleon, compassionately, as he approached the
prince, "I deplore your misfortunes. Personally you have not deserved
them, for I know you have fought bravely, and are worthy of a better
fate than that of a prisoner of war; but will you give me your word of
honor that you will not attempt to escape or participate again in this
war against me?"

"Sire," said the prince, pointing at his wounded right arm, "sire, I
believe I must give you my word of honor. I am your prisoner, and shall
not attempt to escape."

"Then go to your parents. I permit you to remain at the house of Prince
Ferdinand until you have recovered from your wounds. I will not deprive
your mother any longer of the pleasure of embracing her brave son. Go,
then, to her!" The prince bowed and was about to withdraw.

"Well, prince, have you not a word of thanks for me?" asked Napoleon,
kindly.

The prince smiled mournfully. "Sire," he said, bowing deeply, "sire, I
thank you for treating me so leniently."



CHAPTER XV.

THE VICTORIA OF THE BRANDENBURG GATE.


Without waiting for further permission to withdraw, the prince hastily
opened the door and went out. For a moment he sat down in the anteroom,
for his feet were trembling so as to be scarcely able to support him,
and such a pallor overspread his cheeks that Colonel Gerard, who had
been waiting, hastened to him in dismay, and asked whether he would
permit him to call a physician. Prince Augustus smilingly shook his
head. "The physician of whom I stand in need is in my mother's kitchen,"
he said, "and your emperor has permitted me to seek him." Just then the
grand marshal entered the room, and, making a sign to Gerard, whispered
a few words into his ear.

"Your royal highness is delivered from the burden of my company," said
the colonel to the prince when Duroc had withdrawn. "Permit me, however,
to conduct you to the carriage that is to convey you to the palace of
Prince Ferdinand."

In the court-yard below, an imperial carriage was waiting, and Colonel
Gerard himself hastened to open the door to assist the prince in
entering. But the latter waved his hand deprecatingly, and stepped back.
"I am unworthy of entering the imperial carriage," he said. "See, even
the coachman, in his livery, looks elegant compared with me; and all
Berlin would laugh, if it should see me ride in the emperor's
magnificent coach. Let me, therefore, walk off quite humbly and modestly
and enter the first conveyance I meet. Farewell, colonel, and accept my
thanks for the great attention and kindness you have manifested toward
me."

The prince kindly shook hands with him and then hastily walked across
the court-yard of the palace toward the place in front of it--the
so-called _Lustgarten_. He crossed this place and the wide bridge, built
across an arm of the Spree, without meeting with any vehicle. But the
fresh air, and the sense that he was free, agreed with him so well that
he felt strong enough to proceed on foot to his father's palace.

"No one recognizes me in this miserable costume," he said, smiling--"no
notice will be taken of me, and I will be able to reach my home without
being detained." And he walked vigorously across the Opera Place toward
the Linden. This neighborhood, generally so lively and frequented, was
strangely deserted--no promenaders--none of the contented and happy
faces, formerly to be met with on the Opera Place and under the Linden,
were to be seen to-day. Only a few old women were mournfully creeping
along here and there; and, when the prince passed the guard-house, he
saw French soldiers standing in the front, who looked arrogantly and
scornfully at the Prussian officer, and did not think of saluting him.

"Ah, my brother," muttered Prince Augustus to himself, "your prophecy
has been quickly fulfilled! The drums are no longer beaten when we ride
out of the gate and pass the guard-house. Well, I do not care. I would
gladly do without such honors, if Prussia herself only were
honored--if--" A noise, proceeding from the lower end of the Linden,
interrupted his soliloquy. He advanced more rapidly to see what was
going on. The shouts drew nearer and nearer, and a dark, surging crowd
was hastening from the entrance of the Linden through the Brandenburg
Gate. Soon the prince was able to discern more distinctly the character
of the multitude approaching. They were French soldiers, marching up the
street, and on the sidewalk, as well as in the middle of the Linden; the
people and the citizens belonging to the national guard accompanying
them--the latter in the brilliant uniform which they had put on with the
consent of the French authorities, who, now that there were no Prussian
troops in Berlin, had permitted them to mount guard together with the
French. But the people and the national guard did not accompany the
French soldiers quietly; on the contrary, the bewildered prince
distinctly heard the sneers, the derisive laughter, and jeers of the
crowd; even the boys in the tree-tops were casting down their abusive
epithets. When the procession drew nearer, and the people surrounded the
prince, he discovered the meaning of these outbursts of scorn and
derision.

A strange and mournful procession was moving along in the midst of the
splendidly uniformed French soldiers. It consisted of the captured
officers of the Prussian guard, who had been obliged to walk from
Prenzlau to Berlin, and whom the French grenadiers had received outside
of the city limits and escorted by the walls to the Brandenburg Gate, so
that, in accordance with the emperor's orders, they might make their
entry through that way. Two months before, they had marched out of the
same gate in full uniform, proud and arrogant, looking down
superciliously on the civilians, whose humble greetings they scarcely
condescended to return. Two months before, General von Rüchel had been
able to exclaim: "A Prussian officer never goes on foot." The Prussian
guard had really believed that it would be scarcely worth while to draw
their swords against the French--that it would be sufficient merely to
march against them. But now the disastrous days of Jena had taught the
officers how to walk--now they did not look down scornfully from their
horses on poor civilians, and faith in their own irresistibility had
utterly disappeared. They marched with bowed heads, profoundly
humiliated, and compelled to suppress the grief overflowing their
hearts. Their uniforms were hanging in rags on emaciated forms, and the
colors of the cloth and the gold-lace facings were hidden beneath the
mud that covered them. Their boots were torn, and robbed of the silver
spurs; and, as in the case of Prince Augustus of Hohenzollern, many wore
wooden shoes. But in spite of this miserable and heart-rending
spectacle, the populace had no pity, but accompanied the melancholy
procession with derisive laughter and insulting shouts!

"Just look at those officers," exclaimed a member of the national guard,
approaching the soldiers--"look at those high-born counts! Do you
remember how proud they used to be? How they despised us at the balls,
in the saloons, and everywhere else? How we had always to stand aside in
the most submissive manner, in order not to be run down by them? They
will not do so again for some time to come."

"No," cried the crowd, "they won't hurt anybody now! Their pomp and
circumstance have vanished!"

"Just look at Baron von Klitzing!" exclaimed another. "See how the wet
rim of his hat is hanging down on his face, as though he were a modest
girl wishing to veil herself. Formerly, he used to look so bold and
saucy; seeming to believe the whole world belonged to him, and that he
needed only to stretch out his hand in order to capture ten French
soldiers with each finger."

"Yes, yes, they were tremendous heroes on marching out," shouted
another; "every one of the noble counts and barons had already his
laurel in his pocket, and was taking the field as though it were a
ball-room, in order to put his wreath on his head. Now they have come
back, and the laurels they have won are not even good enough to boil
carps with." A roar of laughter followed this hit, and all eyes turned
again in ridicule toward the poor officers, who were marching along,
mournfully and silently, with downcast yet noble bearing.

Filled with anger and shame, Prince Augustus pressed through the crowd.
He could not bear this disgraceful scene; he had to avert his head in
order not to see the unfortunate Prussian officers; he hurried away,
that he might hear no more the cruel taunts of the populace. The ranks
became less dense, and this terrible procession passed by--the street
was once more unobstructed. The prince rushed onward regardless of the
direction he was taking, crushed as he was by the disgrace and
wretchedness brought upon Prussia. He was again suddenly in front of a
large gathering. He looked about him wonderingly and in dismay. Without
knowing it, he had gone down to the large square in front of the
Brandenburg Gate, where was a dense crowd.

But the thousands here did not utter sneers or praises--they were sad
and silent; there was no malicious sparkle in their eyes as they rushed
in one direction to the Brandenburg Gate.

The prince beheld an inclined scaffold erected near the lofty Grecian
pillars of the gate, and reaching up to the cast-iron goddess of
victory, standing in her triumphal car, and holding the reins of her
horses. He saw the ropes, pulleys, and chains, attached to her form, and
it seemed to him as if they were around his own breast, and choking his
voice. He had to make an effort to utter a word, and, turning to a man
standing by, he asked in a low voice, "What is going on here? What are
they doing up there?"

The man looked at him long and mournfully. "The French are removing the
'Victoria' from the gate," he said, with suppressed anger. "They believe
the state no longer suitable to Berlin, and the emperor is sending it to
Paris, whither he has already forwarded the sword and clock of Frederick
the Great."

The prince uttered a groan of despair. At that moment a loud French
command was heard by the gate, and as if the "Victoria" were conscious,
and obedient to the orders of the emperor, a tremor seemed to seize the
goddess. She rose as the horses began to descend, and her figure bent
forward as if greeting Berlin for the last time. A loud noise resounded
above the heads of the crowd--the "Victoria" had glided safely to the
ground. The prince uttered a cry, and, as if paralyzed, closed his eyes.
When he opened them again the beautiful pillars of the Brandenburg Gate
had been deprived of their ornament, and the "Victoria," with her
triumphal horses, stood deposed from her lofty throne.

Prince Augustus raised his tearful eyes to heaven and whispered, "Oh, my
brother, I envy you your death, for it was not permitted you to behold
the humiliation and sorrow of Prussia!"



BOOK II.



CHAPTER XVI.

THE TREATY OF CHARLOTTENBURG.


Queen Louisa was pacing her room in great excitement. At times she stood
still at the window, and looked anxiously into the street as if
expecting the arrival of some one. But that street--the main one in
Osterode, in which city the royal couple had spent the last few
days--remained silent and deserted. Large snow-flakes were falling from
the cheerless, lead-colored sky, and the November storm was now sweeping
them into little mounds, and again dispersing them in clouds of white
dust. The queen beheld nothing but this winter scene; she sighed and
returned to her room to pace it as rapidly as before.

But she was constantly drawn to the window, gazing into the street and
listening breathlessly to any noise that reached her ears. "If he should
not come," she muttered anxiously, "or if too late, all would be lost,
and the cowards and babblers would be able once more to persuade my
husband to yield to their clamor for peace. Heaven have mercy on our
unhappy country and on ourselves!"

Suddenly she started up, and leaned closer to the window in order to see
better. Yes, she had not been mistaken. In the lower part of the street
a carriage was to be seen. The storm prevented her from hearing the
noise of the wheels, but she saw it--it drew nearer and nearer, and
finally stopped in front of the house. The queen stepped back, and,
drawing a deep breath, she raised her eyes to heaven. "I thank Thee, my
God! Thou hast had mercy on my anguish," she whispered with a gentle
smile. She then walked slowly and faintly across the room toward the
divan and sank down on it. "Ah," she muttered, "this eternal anxiety,
this unrelieved suspense and excitement are consuming my strength--nay,
my life. My feet are trembling; my heart stands entirely still at times,
and then beats again as violently as if it would burst from my breast.
But, no matter! I am quite willing to die if I only live to see the
deliverance of my country and the preservation of my house." She dropped
her head on the cushions and gazed with dilated eyes at the sky. But, on
hearing a low rap at the door, she slowly rose and called out in her
full, sonorous voice, "Come in!" The door opened, and Madame von Berg
entered.

"Well, Caroline, he has arrived, I suppose?" asked the queen.

"No, your majesty," said Madame von Berg, smiling, "_they_ have arrived.
The two ministers, Baron von Stein and Count von Hardenberg request your
majesty to grant them an audience."

"Hardenberg!" exclaimed Louisa joyfully, and her pale face brightened.
"Oh, let them come in--immediately!"

The queen quickly left the divan and walked toward the door. But Madame
von Berg hastened to reach it before her and opened it. "Come in,
gentlemen," she said; "her majesty is waiting for you!"

"Yes, I am waiting for you," exclaimed Louisa, meeting them, and with a
sweet smile extending both her hands.

The ministers bowed and kissed her hand. Madame von Berg had in the mean
time locked the door leading into the small anteroom, and withdrew
softly by the opposite door.

"Then you received the message the king sent you?" asked the queen,
turning toward Baron von Stein. "And you did not hesitate a moment to
come here? And you, count," added she, turning toward Hardenberg, "you
did the same as this faithful friend? Having heard that the decisive
moment had come, you did not hesitate to offer your services to your
king? Oh, I thank you, gentlemen; I thank you in the name of my husband,
of my children, and of our country! In these days of danger and
distress, when all are wavering and fearful, it does my heart good to
meet with unswerving fealty and devotion. Ah, so many have proved
faithless and deserted us!"

"But so many also have remained faithful, your majesty," said
Hardenberg, "so many have proved true and loyal!"

The queen gazed at him long and mournfully. "Few," she said, "alas, very
few! You say so only in your magnanimity, because you do not care to
make your loyalty appear as something extraordinary. But, look around in
Prussia--look at our fortresses! Everywhere treachery and
cowardice--everywhere perfidy! I will not speak to you of Stettin, of
Küstrin, of Spandau, of Anclam, and Erfurt! You know already that we
have lost them. But have you learned the dreadful tidings we received
yesterday? Do you know that Magdeburg has surrendered?"

"Magdeburg!" ejaculated Stein and Hardenberg, at the same time.

Louisa nodded sadly, and her eyes filled with tears. "It was our last
bulwark," she said, "and it is gone, too! I have wept much since
yesterday. Now I will be calm, and force my grief back into my heart.
But as Mary, Queen of England, said at the capture of Calais, 'If my
heart were opened, you would find on it the name of _Magdeburg_ in
bloody letters!'"[25]

[Footnote 25: Louisa's own words.--Vide "Queen Louisa," p. 316.]

"It is true," said Hardenberg, gloomily, "it is a great disaster. A
fortress so well supplied with every thing, and a garrison of more than
ten thousand men!"

"If your majesty will permit me, I ask, how did this intelligence
impress the king?" said Baron von Stein.

"He bore it with resignation, and that calm courage which never leaves
him in these days of affliction," said Louisa, quickly. "But his
so-called friends and advisers, Messrs. von Haugwitz, Köckeritz, Voss,
and Kalkreuth, received the heart-rending news with secret satisfaction.
I read it in their faces, notwithstanding the sadness they assumed. They
regard the fall of Magdeburg as an ally of their intentions and schemes.
They desire peace with France--peace at any price--and hope that the
king will now approve their views. Hence, Minister von Stein, Madame von
Berg had to give a letter to the courier yesterday, in which I urged you
to comply with the king's orders, and to come here immediately. Hence,
Count von Hardenberg, I am glad that you have come too. Oh, I know very
well what it must have cost your noble heart to come without being
expressly requested; but you did so for the sake of the crushed and
prostrate fatherland--I know it very well--and not for Prussia, not for
us, but for Germany, on whose neck the tyrant has placed his foot, and
which he will strangle unless the good and the brave unite their whole
strength and hurl him off."

"I came here," said Hardenberg, "because I remembered that hour when
your majesty permitted me to give an oath of unwavering fealty and
devotion--that hour when you condescended to accept my hand for our
league against France, and when you vowed to exert yourself to the best
of your ability to maintain the policy Prussia had entered into, and not
to suffer her king ever to accept the perfidious friendship of France!"

"I have never forgotten that hour," said the queen, gravely. "He who
joined us in taking that pledge at the solemn moment you refer to,
Prince Louis Ferdinand, has sealed his vow with his death: he is
sleeping on the field of honor. But I feel convinced that he is looking
down on us from heaven; and, if it be given to the spirits of the
blessed to influence the affairs of mortals, he will instill his ardor
into our breast, and assist us in reaching the true goal. But what is
that goal? and what the true way? My short-sighted eye is not able to
discern it. When I behold the tremendous successes of the conqueror, I
am perplexed, and ask myself whether it be not evident that God will
make him master of the world, and whether, consequently, it be not in
vain to struggle against him? Oh, my soul is at times engaged in
terrible conflict with itself, and gloomy doubts frighten it. But I feel
now that we are on the eve of the crisis, and that the present day will
decide our whole future. Grand-Marshal Duroc will reach this city
to-day; Colonel von Rauch, who preceded him, has already arrived. He
delivered to the king the treaty of peace, which M. de Zastrow and
Lucchesini concluded with Talleyrand at Charlottenburg. Napoleon has
already signed it. Only the king's signature is wanting, and, as soon as
he affixes it, we are the friends and vassals of the emperor of France,
and must either lay the sword aside, or, if he should command us to do
so, draw it against Russia, our present ally. A stroke of the pen will
determine the future of Prussia and the fate of my children. Now, help
me and all of us!--now, advise me as to what ought to be done! Tell me
your honest opinion as freely and sincerely as though you were standing
before God! Count von Hardenberg, pray, speak first! Do you believe it
to be necessary for the welfare of Prussia, of my children, and, above
all, of my husband, that the king should approve the treaty?"

"Your majesty is aware that I never advised the king to form an alliance
with France," said Hardenberg, "and that my most sacred conviction will
ever prevent me from doing so. But, in order to pass an opinion on the
treaty of Charlottenburg, I ought to know its provisions, and your
majesty is aware that the king has not permitted me of late to take part
in the negotiations. I do not know what the treaty contained."

"Nor I either," said Baron von Stein, when the queen turned toward him
with an inquiring glance. "But I know those who concluded it; I know
that M. de Lucchesini and M. de Zastrow believe no sacrifice, no
humiliation too great, if they can thereby succeed in making peace with
France. I know that Talleyrand is wily enough to profit by their
weakness, their cowardice, and lack of true honor; and I know, finally,
that if Napoleon signs a treaty of peace with Prussia now, it cannot but
be advantageous to him, and humiliating to Prussia."

"I will tell you what the treaty contains," said a grave voice behind
them.

"The king!" exclaimed Louisa, rising quickly and hastening to him.

He greeted her cordially, and gave her his hand. "I wished to see you in
your cabinet," he said, smiling, "and thus overheard the last words of
the secret council which is held here."

Louisa blushed slightly; the king noticed it, and shook his head a
little. "It is quite agreeable to me," he said, turning toward the two
ministers, "that the queen informs herself of the state of our affairs
and of politics generally, consulting men in whose loyalty and devotion
she reposes confidence. We must know our fate accurately and thoroughly,
in order to look it courageously in the face, and decide on such
measures as are most conducive to our welfare. Moreover, the queen has
hitherto bravely shared all our dangers and hardships; it is, therefore,
but just that she should take part in our consultations."

"Oh, my king and husband," exclaimed Louisa pressing his hand against
her bosom, "I thank you for your kindness and generosity. I thank you
for not sending me back into the narrow sphere of woman; for permitting
me to look beyond the threshold of my apartments, and to have a heart
for the calamities of our country."

The king nodded kindly to her, and then turned to the two ministers, who
had respectfully withdrawn toward the door. "I invited you to come here,
M. Minister von Stein," he said, "that you might participate in a
meeting of the cabinet, at which our course in regard to the treaty of
Charlottenburg is to be decided. I am glad that you have come. And,"
added he, addressing Hardenberg, "I am glad also that you are here. I
like men who, conscious of their worth, are not irritated at being
seemingly neglected. I know how to appreciate the fact that you are
standing by us in these times of adversity, and not looking out only for
your own quiet and comfort. I am fully aware that you are not pursuing
this course from selfish motives, and that you are rich enough to live
without any public position--richer, perhaps, than your king! Well, the
queen requested you to give her your opinion about the treaty of
Charlottenburg, and I came in and interrupted you."

"Your majesty heard that these gentlemen assured me they were ignorant
of the contents of the treaty," said the queen, fixing her beaming eyes
on the calm, grave face of her husband; "your majesty, on entering the
room, were kind enough to say you would communicate the contents to us."

"I will do so, to keep the gentlemen posted," said the king--"not,
however, as king, but as a friend, whom you, Louisa, will authorize to
take part in the deliberations of this secret council of state. Hence,
let us proceed without any regard to etiquette. I did not want to
preside over, but merely to attend your consultation, and to tell you
what you are ignorant of. Resume your seats, therefore."

"And you, dear husband!" asked the queen, sitting down again on the
divan, "will you be so kind as to take a seat by my side?"

The king nodded, and sat down by her side, while the ministers took
seats opposite. "Listen, then, to the terms of peace," said the king.
"The Emperor Napoleon demands the whole territory situated on the right
bank of the Vistula, from the point where the river enters the Prussian
states, to its mouth. Besides, he demands the surrender of the
fortresses of Kolberg, Hameln, Nienburg, Glogau, and Breslau; the
cession of the whole of Silesia, on the right bank of the Oder, with the
greater part of the section of this province lying on the left bank of
that river. He, moreover, demands the city and fortress of Graudenz; he
requires all the Prussian forces to withdraw to Königsberg and its
environs, and that the Russian troops shall evacuate our states
immediately. After all these conditions have been complied with in the
most scrupulous manner, either side is to be at liberty to resume
hostilities ten days after giving due notice thereof."[26]

[Footnote 26: Vide "Prussia in the Years 1806 and 1807"--a Diary, by
H.V. Schladen, p. 57.]

The queen, no longer able to suppress her agitation, uttered a cry, and
turned toward her husband with glowing cheeks and flashing eyes. "And
what does he offer us in return for all these humiliations?" she asked.
"How is he going to reward us for selling to him our provinces, our
fortresses, and our honor?"

"In return," said the king, slowly, laying stress on every word--"in
return, he holds out to us the prospect of marching soon as his ally
against Russia, and of supporting the Ottoman Porte. A second note,
which Talleyrand drew up in the name of his master, and communicated to
our envoy, was added. This note stated that, inasmuch as France, owing
to constantly renewed wars, as well as her allies, Spain and Holland,
had lost their most flourishing colonies in Asia and in the West Indies,
and were compelled, for the fourth time, to fight in their own defence,
justice and reason authorized the emperor to seek compensations on this
side of the seas for the losses he and his allies had suffered, and to
look for these compensations in those countries which, by virtue of his
victories, he had the power to dispose of in such a manner as he deemed
best. The greatest evil which Prussia had brought about by the last war,
for which she alone was responsible, was the fact that the Ottoman Porte
had been deprived thereby of its independence; for, owing to the
insulting and threatening demands of the Emperor of Russia, two princes,
who had been justly banished from the possessions of the Sultan, had
been placed at the head of the government of the Danubian
principalities, so that Moldavia and Wallachia were at present nothing
else than Russian provinces. 'Accordingly,' concludes Talleyrand's note,
'so long as the Sultan should not have recovered the legitimate
sovereignty over these provinces, the emperor would not consent to give
up any countries which the fortune of war had placed in his hands, or
which he might conquer hereafter.'"[27]

[Footnote 27: "Mémoires d'un Homme d'État," vol. ix., p. 341.]

"That is to say," exclaimed the queen, passionately, "that Napoleon
declares war against Russia, and, if we make peace with him, we must
take up arms against that empire."

"That will be inevitable," said the king, composedly. "Besides this
note, Talleyrand communicated some important information to our
ambassadors. He told them that Napoleon, before setting out from Berlin,
would issue a decree, absolutely prohibiting all commerce with England,
and ordering, further, that all letters coming from or going to that
country, addressed to an Englishman, or written in English, were to be
stopped at the post-office; that all goods, the produce of English
manufactures, or of English colonies, were to be confiscated, not only
on the coast, but in the interior, in the houses of the merchants by
whom they should be retained; that every vessel, having only touched at
the English colonies, or at any of the ports of the three kingdoms,
should be forbidden to enter French ports, or ports under subjection to
France, and that every Englishman whatsoever, seized in France, or in
the countries under subjection to her arms, should be declared a
prisoner of war.[28] Now," added he, in a subdued tone, "I have finished
my communication. You know the treaty of peace, and every thing
belonging to it. You will be able to form a definite opinion with regard
to it; you can, accordingly, fulfil the queen's wish, and tell her
whether you would advise me to sign it. Speak! and remember that here,
in this room, I am not the king, but only the queen's friend, happening
to be present at your consultation. It, therefore, behooves me to be
silent, and to listen."

[Footnote 28: Thiers, "Consulat et Empire," vol. vii., p. 880.]



CHAPTER XVII.

THE SECRET COUNCIL OF STATE.


The king leaned back, and, supporting his head on his arms, shaded his
face with his hands, as if it were a screen that was to conceal the
expression of his features. The queen turned with a sweet smile toward
the two gentlemen. "My husband having permitted it," she said, "pray,
speak. Let me hear your views. And as I deem the opinions of both of you
equally important, I do not know whom to request to commence. Let the
oldest speak first."

"Then, your majesty, I must speak," said Hardenberg, bowing low, "I know
that I am seven years older than Baron von Stein. He surpasses me in
wisdom as I do him in years."

"Well, speak," said Louisa. "What do you think of this treaty?"

"I think it is a new proof of the reckless pride of Bonaparte," said
Hardenberg. "In order to appreciate it correctly it is necessary for us
to look back into the past, and to remember how this war arose, which
the emperor asserts to have been provoked by Prussia. But the king, our
most gracious master, never desired war; on the contrary, he withstood,
for a long while, the wishes of his ministers, his court, his people,
and his army. He would have avoided the war, if Napoleon had allowed him
to form a Confederation of the North, conservative in its tendencies,
but not hostile to the Confederation of the Rhine. Deceived, menaced,
insulted, the king continued negotiating to the last moment, and did not
cease hoping that France would acknowledge that she was wrong, and yield
to the remonstrances and wishes of Prussia. The king was arming, it is
true, but only for the purpose of supporting his just and strictly
pacific demands by such a military demonstration. Compelled by Napoleon,
he had to obey the dictates of honor at last and draw his sword. The
fortunes of war decided against him; he was defeated. He commenced
negotiating again; for the sake of the welfare of his people he
submitted to the most rigorous terms which the conqueror imposed on him;
but Napoleon, instead of appreciating this, became only the more
arrogant and insatiable in his demands. The king's willingness to accept
those terms was of no avail; the conditions which had been imposed on
him were repudiated and nullified. Every new triumph, every new
capitulation of a fortress, caused the emperor to render his demands
more rigorous; and he dares now to offer a treaty, which would reduce
the kingdom of Prussia to a single province--which could not but render
the king's position even more precarious, and would be the depth of
humiliation, without offering the least prospect of a speedy and lasting
recovery from our past disasters. If Prussia should accept this utterly
illusory compact, she would thereby deliver herself completely into the
hands of an insatiable enemy, whose ambitious schemes are well known,
and deprive herself of the only support still remaining. She would
betray Russia and not save herself by this treachery, but only
accelerate her own utter ruin. No one can dare to advise the king to
sign such a paper, and, least of all, myself, after constantly opposing
an alliance with France, even at a time when it would seemingly have
been advantageous to Prussia. Your majesty ordered me to express my
opinion, and I have done so to the best of my conviction."

The queen thanked him by a slight bow, and then turned toward Baron von
Stein. "And you?" she asked, "will you communicate to me your views
about this treaty which our envoys have already signed at
Charlottenburg?"

"Your majesty," said Baron von Stein, quickly, "I lack the wise
composure and smiling calmness of Count von Hardenberg. It was not given
me to weigh the interests and the conduct of friends and foes with
prudent tranquillity and magnanimous impartiality. I am no polished
courtier, but only a blunt, upright German, and as such your majesty
must allow me to speak to you. Well, my honest German heart revolts at
what M. Napoleon is pleased to call a treaty of peace, and what, it
seems to me, would be but a pact with degradation, dishonor, and
disgrace. If I had been in the place of Messrs. de Zastrow and
Lucchesini, I would have allowed my right hand to be cut off rather than
to be prevailed upon to sign any thing so ignominious; I would have died
rather than surrender at discretion in so humiliating a manner. I know
full well that these gentlemen have done so only in order to save the
political existence of the king and his state. But how little do they
know the intentions and schemes of our powerful adversary, whom only the
most determined and obstinate resistance can induce to be moderate in
his exactions, and who, so soon as he has nothing to fear, shrinks from
nothing! As soon as the king, according to these stipulations, has
surrendered to him his fortresses and Silesian possessions, Napoleon
will give notice that he resumes hostilities within ten days, and the
king having not sufficient power to offer him any resistance, the loss
of his last and only possessions would be the natural consequence.
Napoleon would even manage matters in such a way as to leave it to
other hands to carry out this last spoliation. It is well known what
prospects he held out in Berlin to the deputation of the Poles, and by
what words and promises he instigated them to rise. He now demands the
removal of our troops from Graudenz and its environs, that is to say
from Prussian Poland. He wishes to promote the insurrection in Poland,
and to assist the Poles as efficiently as possible, so that we should
lose these provinces during the cessation of hostilities. His majesty,
moreover, is unable to enter into an engagement concerning the
withdrawal of the Russian troops, and the last fortresses, therefore,
would be sacrificed in vain. But it is just as little in the power of
the king to induce the Emperor of Russia to waive his just claims
against the Porte, or to deprive the Hospodars of Moldavia and Wallachia
of the protection pledged to them. The Russian emperor has already
marched his troops into Moldavia. The struggle with the Porte has begun,
and his honor will not permit him to recede from the stand he has taken.
Up to this hour he has remained unwaveringly faithful, in words as well
as in actions, to his Prussian ally. A large Russian army is already
approaching our frontier, and it is said the Czar himself is
accompanying it in order to join the Prussian forces and then attack
Napoleon. By signing the treaty of Charlottenburg, however, the King of
Prussia would not only have to reject the assistance offered him, but be
compelled to turn his sword against him who, in his generous friendship,
is coming to help him fight for the preservation of his states.

"This so-called treaty of peace would raise up two new enemies against
Prussia, and without changing her old foe, France, into a firm and
reliable friend. The first of these is Russia, which Prussia would have
deserted in the most perfidious manner; the second is Great Britain,
which would wage war against the ally of France as well as against
France herself. Napoleon, by that decree against English goods,
property, and subjects, throws down a new gauntlet to Great Britain, for
it is the beginning of a blockade of the entire continent; and William
Pitt, the great and heroic minister of King George, will assuredly
accept the challenge. It will kindle anew the whole fire of his hatred
and vengeance, and he will urge the full power of England against
France. Now, Talleyrand has declared loudly that Napoleon would allow
Prussia to maintain her existence as an independent state, only if
England and Russia should make peace with him on acceptable terms.
Neither, however, will do this, and Prussia, consequently, would be
irretrievably lost by accepting these conditions; for she would then
have three enemies and not a single ally. Not only honor, but also
prudence commands us to reject the treaty. Not to obey the dictates of
those two powers would be to hurl Prussia into an abyss of
wretchedness, where she would not hear the sympathetic lamentations of
a single ally, but the scornful laughter of the world. I hope that the
king may preserve Prussia from such consequences, and graciously permit
us to maintain, amid our disasters and sorrows, a clear conscience and
erect head, as it behooves men more willing to die than give up honor
and liberty!

"Your majesty must pardon me if I have spoken too freely and
unreservedly. But you commanded me to express my honest opinion. I have
done so, and pray you to forgive me if my words have not been
sufficiently delicate and well chosen."

"I have nothing to pardon, only to thank you," said the queen, "as well
as Count von Hardenberg. Both of you have permitted me to look into the
innermost recesses of your hearts. You have spoken according to your
honest conviction: I thank you!" And turning her radiant eyes toward the
king, Louisa added in a tone of profound emotion, "Your majesty, we have
lost Magdeburg! But are not such men as these worth more than a
fortress? Fortresses may fall, but so long as we shall have such men by
our side, Prussia will not be lost!"

The king, who had been sitting all the while in the same attitude, his
head supported on his arm, and his face hidden behind his hand, slowly
dropped it and looked long and inquiringly at the queen. "It is your
turn now to express your opinion," he said, calmly. "I believe you owe
it to your advisers to tell them what you think of it. You thank those
who speak to you honestly and truthfully, by answering them in the same
manner. I, therefore, request the queen now to speak in her turn, and to
tell us what she thinks of this treaty."

"I think, my king and husband, that I would rather be killed by the
first cannon-ball discharged against France than sanction this
ignominious treaty," exclaimed the queen, with glowing cheeks, and with
passionate impetuosity. "I think that, in case you sign it, I should
never dare to set foot again in the palace of Charlottenburg, because it
would seem to me as though I were not allowed to raise my eyes either to
man or to God, for the human heart turns away from the perfidious and
dishonored, and God Himself has no mercy on them. I should think the
walls of this house would fall upon us to hide our shame--I should
shrink shudderingly from every table, because that treaty might have
been signed on it which is to render us recreant to duty, and to steal
our unsullied honor. No! let us be humiliated, and succumb with a clear
conscience, rather than accept the friendship and alliance of the
Corsican, at the expense of principle!"

"Ah!" muttered the king, bowing his head, "if words could be transformed
into swords, you would win battles for me to-day. Unfortunately,
however, soldiers are necessary for that purpose, and I have no army.
Your words may be the dragons' teeth from which armed warriors may
spring, but they might turn against ourselves and annihilate us!" He
paused and looked down musingly. The queen dared not disturb his
reflections, and gazed at him in silence and with an air of tender
sympathy. The two ministers looked no less grave, and waited until he
would interrupt the silence and address them.

The king raised his head and looked at the clock. "Four o'clock," he
said, rising more hastily than usual. "I have ordered the ministers and
generals to assemble at the rooms of Minister von Haugwitz, and told
them that I should be present. I like to be punctual. Let us go then,
gentlemen; it is time for us to be at the conference."

The two ministers rose to take leave of the queen. Louisa gave each of
them her hand, which they kissed, and she dismissed them with a grateful
glance. The king kindly waved his hand, and, after they had left the
room, turned to the queen. "Farewell, dear Louisa," he said, offering
his hand to her; "official duties are calling me, and so long as I am
king I must not neglect them. I came to you in order to dispel my cares
a little by chatting with you, and instead of doing so I had to be
present at a meeting of a secret council of state. The unfortunate have
no time for recreation, and that may be useful and salutary, after all.
Farewell, then; I must go to Haugwitz's rooms."

He was about to leave, but the queen grasped his hand, and gazed with an
imploring glance searchingly at his calm and impenetrable countenance.
"Oh, my husband," she said, in a voice tremulous with emotion; "you are
going to leave me thus? You do not utter a word of consolation and
assurance?"

The king kissed her on the forehead, and pointed to the clock. "It is
high time for me to go to the conference," he said, and gently
disengaging his hand hastened away.

Louisa gazed after him until he had disappeared; she then raised her
hands and eyes to heaven. "O my God," she whispered, "direct his
resolutions, and cause him to choose what is right! Oh, give me strength
to bear my misfortunes patiently, and not to despair and murmur, even
though the king should decide on another course than the one my heart
longs for, and my reason believes to be right." On casting down her
eyes, she happened to see the open piano, and hastening to it her white
hands commenced playing a soul-moving melody. She then sang, with
tearful eyes and fervent voice: "_Wer nur den lieben Gott lässt walten,
und hoffet auf ihn alle Zeit_--"

Scarcely an hour had elapsed--the queen was still singing at the piano
when the door behind her softly opened, and the king again entered. The
carpet and the full notes of the piano prevented her hearing his
footsteps. The king walked rapidly to his wife, and laid his hand on her
shoulder. She started, and looked up to her husband with an inquiring,
anxious glance, and rose slowly from her chair.

"Louisa," said the king, solemnly, "I have just returned from the
conference of the ministers at Haugwitz's rooms. Besides Prince Henry
and myself, ten ministers, generals, and cabinet councillors were
present. Seven advocated the ratification of the treaty of
Charlottenburg; four were opposed to it. The majority; therefore, were
in favor of it."

The queen turned pale, and the painful quivering of her lips betrayed
her inward emotion. "There were eleven present besides you," said she,
breathlessly. "Seven voted for ratifying the treaty; four were opposed
to it! But what did the king say, who had to decide every thing? Did my
beloved husband side with the majority?"

"The king," said Frederick William, slowly, "decided in favor of the
minority."

Louisa uttered a cry, and, seizing his hand, bent over and imprinted a
warm kiss on it. "Oh, my dear husband, you did not accept the
ignominious Charlottenburg bargain?" she asked, joyfully. "You did not
yield to the majority? My God! I thank Thee, for Thou hast fulfilled the
most fervent wishes of my soul! Oh, my dear husband, if there were in my
heart still a spot which love for you had not consecrated, it would be
now! My whole heart is filled with pride, delight, and esteem for you.
We shall not make peace, then, with the tyrant, or accept the
hypocritical friendship of our mortal foe--we shall remain faithful to
ourselves, to our honor, and to our ally."

"Yes, we shall reject that treaty," said the king. "We shall try to
carry on the war. But let us not yield to illusions; let us not endeavor
to deceive ourselves by indulging in sanguine hopes! In again drawing
the sword, we have to struggle for our existence, and we may possibly
fail."

"Better to be buried under the ruins of the throne than to sit on it
with the stigma of perfidy and dishonor!" exclaimed the queen. "Even the
crown would not cover such a stain!"

"We may lose our state and our crown, and be compelled to flee as
nameless beggars across the Russian frontier. Are you prepared for it?"

Louisa passionately encircled her husband's neck with her arms, and
looked him in the face with-an air of unutterable tenderness. "I am
prepared for every thing, provided I may stay with you," she said,
affectionately. "Let the worst befall us, it will find me calm and
courageous, for I shall share it with you. Where you go I go. And though
we should have to flee from our invincible enemy into the remotest wilds
of Russia, my heart would be glad, for honor would accompany us, and
love would be our comfort!"

The king laid his hand on her head, as if blessing her, and clasped her
in his arms. "You are a noble and heroic woman," he said, "and I thank
God from the bottom of my heart for having given me such a wife. Pray
for me, Louisa; pray for all of us! I will now go to receive the envoy
of Napoleon, M. Duroc, and tell him that I must reject the treaty of
Charlottenburg." He pressed a kiss on the queen's brow, and then crossed
the room arm-in-arm with her. When about to go, he stood still and
tenderly looked at her. "Ah, Louisa," he said, "I forgot to tell you
something. After informing the conference that I should not ratify the
treaty, but continue the war, I commissioned Haugwitz to draw up a
manifesto by which I would announce to my people the step I had resolved
upon. Count von Haugwitz, however, said he was unable to draw up such a
manifesto, and offered his resignation, owing to his enfeebled health,
and the disease of the eyes from which he is suffering."

The queen smiled, and an emotion of joy illuminated her countenance.
"You have accepted his resignation?" she asked, breathlessly.

"I have accepted it. He will set out to-day for his estates. I must at
once appoint his successor; for, in times such as these, I cannot do
without a minister of foreign affairs. Can you recommend any one to me
whom you would deem especially qualified for the position, and in whom
you have confidence?"

The queen looked in surprise at her husband, and cast down her eyes, as
if she feared he would read in them thoughts conflicting with her words.
"It does not behoove me to advise my sagacious and prudent husband,"
she said. "His wisdom will always be able to find the right man for the
right place, and to appoint a minister competent to promote the
interests of Prussia and her noble king."

"Then you do not know of any one whom you would recommend to me?" asked
he.

Louisa looked down, and silently shook her head.

The king smiled. "Well," he said, "in that case I myself must make the
selection, and I have already done so. Baron von Stein is the man whom I
will appoint minister of foreign affairs." He did not give his wife time
to reply, but left the room quickly, and closed the door.

The queen gazed after him, her eyes radiant with joy. "Oh," she said,
"what a great and noble heart! He who conquers himself is a hero indeed.
The king has overcome his own reluctance, and, contrary to his
inclination, selected the man whom his head appreciates, but whom his
heart does not love."



CHAPTER XVIII.

BARON VON STEIN.


On the same day, after the king had given an audience to Grand-Marshal
Duroc, and informed him that he rejected the treaty of Charlottenburg,
he instructed Köckeritz and Beyme to offer the department of foreign
affairs to Baron von Stein. But the baron had declined, declaring he was
unable to fill so difficult a position--that he lacked the necessary
knowledge of affairs and forms and the requisite skill in applying them
so as to discharge the duties of so high an office in an efficient
manner. The king, however, did not accept this refusal. He caused new
offers to be made to him--requesting him to take charge of the
department at least temporarily, and promising him a large salary,
besides eight thousand dollars annually for household expenses. But
Baron von Stein did not allow himself to be tempted by the brilliancy of
the position, or the large compensation. He adhered to his
determination, and declined a second time, proposing to the king to
appoint in his place, as minister of foreign affairs, Count von
Hardenberg, that experienced and skillful statesman.

The king shook his head indignantly, and bit his lips, as he was
accustomed to do whenever he was angry. "Tell Baron von Stein to come to
me," he said to General von Köckeritz. "I will speak to him myself."

General von Köckeritz hastened away, and an hour afterward Baron von
Stein entered the king's cabinet. Frederick William was slowly pacing
his room, with his hands joined behind him. He apparently did not notice
the baron's arrival, and passed him repeatedly without greeting or even
looking at him. The minister, who at first had stood respectfully near
the door, waiting to be accosted by the king, tired of this long
silence, turned to the paintings hanging on the wall, and, while
contemplating them, passing from one to another, happened to push
against a chair, which made a loud noise.

The king was aroused from his meditation. He stood still before Baron
von Stein, and looked with a stern air into his manly face. "I offered
you twice the department of foreign affairs," he said, in his dry,
abrupt manner. "Why did you not accept it?"

"Your majesty, because I did not feel capable of filling it," replied
Stein, calmly, "and because there are worthier men who are better
qualified for it."

The king shook his head. "Subterfuges!" he said. "Firm and bold men,
such as you, do not undervalue their own importance, but appreciate it
correctly. In days so grave as these, it is necessary for every one to
be sincere. I want to be informed why you reject my offer. I have a
right to insist on knowing your reasons. I am king still, and I believe
my functionaries owe me an explanation when refusing to undertake a task
which I ask them to perform. Speak, and tell me your reasons. I command
you to do so."

"Your majesty," said Stein, with cold, proud equanimity, "suppose, in
order to comply with your command, I should allege some pretext or other
in lieu of my real reasons, and, like Count von Haugwitz, base my
refusal on my pretended ill-health? How would your majesty be able to
know whether I was sincere or not? Even kings are not capable of looking
into the hearts of men, and no orders can reveal secrets if we desire to
conceal them. But I do not wish to hide my thoughts from your majesty.
In compliance with your request, I will lay my reasons freely and
sincerely before you. But, before doing so, I must ask your majesty to
grant me two things."

"Well, what are they?" inquired the king, quickly.

"In the first place, I beg leave to be seated, for I have been ill, and
am still weak."

The king sat down on the divan and pointed to an easy-chair standing
near. "Take a seat, and tell me your second request."

"I must beg your majesty graciously to pardon my frankness, in case my
words should not meet with your approval or should appear too bold and
rash."

"I wish to know the truth, and must, therefore, have the courage to hear
it," said the king. "Why did you decline?"

"Your majesty, my first reason, though you refused to believe it, is and
remains, that I regard Count von Hardenberg as much better qualified
than myself to take charge of the department of foreign affairs, because
he enjoys the confidence of those courts with which your majesty intends
keeping up friendly relations. Count von Hardenberg, moreover, has the
confidence of your people, who, wherever they are permitted to do so,
are loudly expressing themselves in his favor, and would consider this
salutary appointment a consolation and hope for the future. It seems
unbecoming in me to accept an office that should be intrusted to a
minister distinguished for his faithful services in this department,
and, under the present circumstances perhaps, highly influential already
by his very name."

"Go on, go on," said the king, impatiently. "Say no more about
Hardenberg. Tell me your other reasons."

"Sire, my second reason is that, even though I accept the position, I
should be unable to accomplish in it what I should deem necessary for
the welfare of the state. Your majesty, so long as there is no free and
direct intercourse between you and your ministers--so long as there is a
cabinet government in existence, separating the king from his ministers,
and exercising an injurious influence on the relations of the latter
toward the subordinate officers in their departments, your ministers
cannot hope to promote the welfare of the state, and to introduce and
carry out such measures as they deem indispensable for the best
interests of the people. Your majesty's ministers have long since
recognized and felt the disastrous influence of this government which is
watching with the utmost jealousy at the door of your cabinet, and
keeping every minister from it and from direct intercourse with you.
They were silent so long as Prussia appeared to be in prosperous
circumstances, and the inward germs of her degeneracy and decay could
be concealed by a semblance of justice. But now every illusion of this
character has been rudely dissipated, and it is time to beseech your
majesty to abolish a system during the existence of which the calamitous
condition of our state has constantly and hopelessly increased. Fearful
events have followed in quick succession, and the Prussian states have
been plunged into disasters from which they can be restored only by the
united strength of the whole people. But although the ministers are
fully conscious of this state of affairs, and though they hold in their
hands the remedies that might save the kingdom, they never would be sure
that they can profit by them, for they see between them and the king a
power without any well-defined functions, and without responsibility,
meddling with every thing and directing nothing--this power can foil the
plans of the ministers at any time, reverse their measures, and
counteract their advice."

"I know very well," said the king, angrily, "that, like Hardenberg, you
are constantly on bad terms with Köckeritz, Beyme, and Lombard, the
members of my cabinet."

"Sire, I do not attack persons, but privileges," said Stein, gravely.
"If your majesty dismiss those gentlemen and select others, there would
be no change for the better. If you do not permit the ministers to
consult you directly concerning the affairs of their departments--if you
do not reëstablish the council of state, and abolish the irresponsible
cabinet, the position of your minister of foreign affairs would remain
as it is now--an empty shadow. But if your majesty should gather your
ministers around you as a regular council of state, and direct their
loyal plans and counsels with that fatherly love for your subjects which
you have manifested at all times, such a step would strengthen the
confidence of your allies, restore the courage of the oppressed nation,
inspire the conquered provinces with the determination of shrinking from
no danger in order to deliver themselves from the yoke of the oppressor,
and counteract, in the countries remaining as yet intact, that
discouragement which cannot but prevent the people from making any
heroic efforts in self-defence. Such, sire," added Stein, drawing a deep
breath, "are my honest opinions and convictions. I lay them before your
majesty with the sincerity and earnestness which the threatening state
of affairs renders it incumbent on me to manifest. My determination to
share the fate of the monarchy, and of your majesty's house, whatever
may be in store for them, is well known. But if you are unwilling to
give up a system that I am satisfied has already brought so many
calamities upon the country, and will continue to do so--if the cabinet
is to remain, and if the council of state, without which I believe
Prussia cannot be saved, is not organized--I most humbly beg your
majesty to accept my refusal."

"You want to threaten me!" exclaimed the king. "You think, perhaps, you
are alone able to save Prussia?"

"No, your majesty," said Stein, looking the king in the face; "no, I
only believe that the present cabinet government is destined to ruin
her."

The king looked down for a while musingly. "Well, what is your idea
about the new council of state which you propose?" he asked after a
pause. "Who is to belong to it? What is to be its object?"

"Its object is to be the intermediate voice between the people and the
king; to lay before him the laws and ordinances, in order to obtain his
approval and signature; to publish such of them as he has sanctioned,
and to be responsible to him for the administration of the country. But
for all these reasons it would be indispensable that the ministers
should be admitted to the king at any time, and be consulted as to any
resolutions which he would take and in reference to any changes he would
decide upon in the general policy of the government. The ministers of
foreign affairs, of war, and of finance, would form the nucleus of this
council, and be as much as possible near the king's person. If your
majesty should travel, one of them at least would have to accompany
you."

"That is to say, you would depose me," said the king, a deep blush
mantling his cheeks. "The ministers are to govern alone, and I am to
have only the right of being a sort of writing-machine to sign their
decrees."

"No, your majesty, the king is to have the deciding voice in regard to
every thing; but he must graciously refrain from deciding any thing
without having listened to the opinions of his ministers."

"And if I approve your proposition--if I assemble in my cabinet every
day a council of state, consisting of the ministers," said the king,
with seeming calmness, "would you then be inclined to accept the
position I have offered you, and become minister of foreign affairs?"

"Sire," said Stein, firmly, "it would not be enough for your majesty to
appoint new ministers, and hold daily consultations with them, but you
would have also to dismiss, formally and forever, the gentlemen who have
hitherto monopolized your confidence. Unless Count von Haugwitz and
Lombard be dismissed from the civil service--unless Beyme, who is
suspected by and disagreeable to the Russian court, and hated by a very
large majority of our people, be deprived of his present office, the
ministers cannot rely on any certain efficiency in their positions, and
even the council of state would offer them no guaranty whatever against
the continued secret cabinet consisting of Messrs, von Haugwitz,
Lombard, and Beyme."

"Enough," exclaimed the king, rising hastily, and pacing the room. "I
have listened to you to the end, because I wished to see how far your
audacity would go, and to gain a clear insight into your whole
character. I was already prejudiced against you. It is true, I knew you
were a thoughtful, talented, and bold man, but, at the same time, I
believed you to be somewhat eccentric; in short, I regarded you as a man
who, because he always thinks only his own opinion to be correct, is
unable to fill a position in which he would constantly come in conflict
with others, and soon be irritated and discouraged by the clash of
opinions prevailing there. I overcame these prejudices, because I have
always striven to select the servants of the state, not according to the
promptings of personal whims, but of sensible reasons. I was advised to
appoint you minister of foreign affairs; and (please take notice of what
I am about to tell you now) those who advised me to do so--those who
advocated your appointment most strenuously, were precisely the ones
whom you are now attacking, and are bent upon overthrowing. I yielded! I
offered you the department of foreign affairs. You declined the position
on the pretext of not being familiar enough with the details of the
department. Your refusal was greatly embarrassing to me, for I still
believed that your services ought to be preserved to the state and to
myself. I overlooked your ungracious refusal, and sent for you to speak
freely and openly with you. I have conversed with you, and now know you
better!"

The king, walking up and down, uttered these words with increasing
excitement, and in a voice growing louder and louder, without looking
once at Stein, who had risen from his seat, and, drawing himself up to
his full height, listened to this angry outburst. The king stood still
before him, and, fixing his piercing eyes on the calm, cold face of the
baron, added, "I have found out, to my regret, that my original opinion
of your character was not erroneous; that my prejudices against you were
just, and that you ought to be considered an obstinate, refractory, and
disobedient servant of the state, who, boastfully relying on his genius
and talents, so far from aiming at the welfare of his country, is
actuated solely by his whims, his passions, and personal hatred. Such
men are precisely those whose conduct is most injurious to the
interests of the monarchy."

"Your majesty," exclaimed Stein, impetuously, "your majesty, I--"

"Silence," ejaculated the king, in an imperious voice, "silence while I
am speaking! I really feel sorry that you have compelled me to speak to
you so plainly and unreservedly; but as you are always boasting of being
a truthful man, I hare told you my opinion in unvarnished language, and
will add that, if you should be unwilling to change your disrespectful
conduct, the state cannot count very confidently of profiting further by
your services."

"Your majesty, I cannot change my conduct," exclaimed Stein, pale with
hidden anger, which he could no longer repress. "As you believe me to be
an 'obstinate, refractory, and disobedient servant of the state, who,
boastfully relying on his genius and talents, so far from aiming at the
welfare of his country, is actuated solely by his whims, his passions,
and personal hatred--'"

"Ah," interrupted the king, laughing scornfully, "you have an excellent
memory, for I believe you are repeating my own words!"

"Sire, this will show you that my conduct is not always disrespectful,
but that I set so high a value on your royal words that they are
immediately engraved upon my memory," said Baron von Stein, smiling.
"But, inasmuch as I am also of your majesty's opinion that such
officials as you have described me to be are most injurious to the
interests of the monarchy, I must request your majesty to accept my
declination, and I hope it will be granted immediately."

"You have pronounced your own sentence, and I do not know how to add any
thing to it!" replied the king.

Baron von Stein bowed. "I thank your majesty most humbly," he said. "Now
I must beg that my dismissal from the service be communicated to me in
the usual form. I have the honor to take leave of your majesty."

Without waiting for the king's reply, the baron bowed a second time, and
left the room with measured steps. He crossed the anteroom rapidly, and
then entered the apartment contiguous to the hall. A royal _valet de
chambre_ hastened to meet him. "Your excellency," he said, "the queen
begs you to be so kind as to go immediately to her. She instructed me to
wait here till your return from the king, and ordered me to announce
you directly to her majesty."

"Announce me, then," said Baron von Stein, following the footman with a
mournful air.

The queen was in her cabinet, and rose from her divan when Baron von
Stein entered. She offered her hand to the minister with a smile. "I
begged you to come to me," she said, "because I intended to be the first
to wish you--nay, ourselves--joy of your new position. The king has
informed me that he would intrust the office of Count von Haugwitz to
you, and I tell you truly that this is as a beam of light for me in the
gloom of our present circumstances. I know that you are a true and
faithful patriot; that you have the welfare of Prussia, of Germany, and
of our dynasty at heart, and that you have the will and the ability to
help us all--this is the reason why I wish ourselves joy of--"

"Pardon me, your majesty, for daring to interrupt you," said. Baron von
Stein, in a low, melancholy voice; "but I cannot accept your
congratulations. I was not appointed minister of foreign affairs, but
the king has just granted my request to be dismissed from the service."

The queen started, and turned pale. "You did not accept the position
which the king offered to you?" she asked. "Oh, then I was mistaken in
you, too! There is, alas! no more fidelity or constancy on earth!" She
pressed her hand against her aching forehead, and tottered back a few
steps, to sink exhausted on the divan.

Baron von Stein approached, and his face seemed to be radiant with
energy and determination. "No, queen," he said, loudly and firmly--"no;
you were not mistaken in me, and if your majesty hitherto believed me to
be a faithful and reliable man, I am sure you only did me justice.
Fealty does not change, however, and he who has once been found reliable
will be so forever. No; let me repeat once more, your majesty was not
mistaken in me, although I rejected the position offered to me. I
fearlessly and truthfully stated to his majesty the conditions on which
alone I could accept it. The king was unwilling to submit to these
conditions; he was angry at them and reproached me in such a manner as
to leave me no choice but to present him my humble declination, which he
granted immediately. I did not refuse his offer because the situation of
the country frightened me, but because, above all, I had to remain
faithful to myself, and obey the promptings of my conviction. My love,
my fealty, my soul, belong to Prussia and the royal dynasty. I retire
into obscurity, and shall wait for the voice of Prussia and of my king.
When he calls me--when he can profit by services such as I am able
conscientiously to perform--when he permits me to be faithful to myself
and to my principles, that all my energy and faculties may be devoted to
the welfare of my country, I shall gladly be ready to obey his call and
enter upon those services. I would come to him, though from the most
remote regions, and even should death menace me at every step. A true
man does not shrink from danger or death, but from hypocrisy and
falsehood, whether it concerns himself or others; he will not stoop to
the tricks of diplomacy and dally with that which ought to be either
forcibly removed from his path or carefully avoided, but with which he
never ought to enter into compromise or alliance."

"Now I understand you," said the queen, gently and mournfully. "You did
not wish to enter into an alliance with the secret friends of the French
in our suite. The king was unwilling to sacrifice Haugwitz, Beyme, and
Lombard to you, and hence you withdraw from the service. You did right,
and it makes my heart ache to be compelled to admit it. So long as those
three men are here, there will be a policy of continued vacillation and
hesitancy, and what you would do one day those three men would annul the
next. Oh! the king is so generous, so faithful and modest! He believes
in the disinterestedness of Minister von Haugwitz, in his honesty and
sagacity; for this reason, he will not altogether give him up, and he
listens still to his advice, although Haugwitz is no longer at the head
of the foreign department. Because the king himself is taciturn, and
thinks and feels more in his head and heart than is uttered by his lips,
Beyme's eloquence and quick perception fill him with respect; and
because he is so very modest, and always believes others to be more
sagacious than himself, he esteems Lombard's abilities highly, and
wishes to preserve his services to the state. You know what I think of
Lombard, and that at Stettin I was carried away by my anger at his
conduct, more than was compatible with prudence. I caused the man to be
arrested, whom I knew to be ready at that moment to betray me and the
whole of Prussia, and whom I suspected of being in the pay of the French
emperor. But you know also that my act was repudiated, and that
immediate steps were taken to annul it. A special courier was sent to
Stettin to procure the release of Lombard, and to convey him under a
safe-escort to Küstrin; the messenger even took an autograph letter from
the king to him, in which his majesty regretted the occurrence as
arising from mere mistake. I do not tell you this in order to complain
of it, but to show you how deep-rooted is the influence of those men,
and how time is required to destroy it. But the time will come--believe
me, it will--when Prussia will extend her hand toward you, and need your
strong arm and firm will. Promise me that you will wait, and not give up
to despair--that you will not enter the service of another monarch, so
that, when Prussia calls you, you may be at liberty to respond."

"I promise it to your majesty," said Stein, solemnly. "I will wait;
blessed be the hour when Prussia needs me, and when I shall be able to
serve her again!"

"Yes, blessed be that hour!" exclaimed the queen, and, raising her eyes
piously to heaven, she whispered, "God grant that it may come soon, for
then a change in our circumstances will have taken place, and we shall
have passed from present incertitude to firm determination. Oh, how much
distress--how many disappointments and mortifications--until that change
shall come! May we have strength to bear, and courage to overcome them!"



CHAPTER XIX.

THE QUEEN AT THE PEASANT'S COTTAGE.


It was a stormy night. The wind was howling through the pines, and
driving the snow in dense clouds from the highway leading through, the
forest. There was no sound, save that of the winter's gale, and the
trees groaning beneath its power. A solitary light, twinkling as a star
through the dark woods, was shedding its beams on this desolate scene.
It proceeded from a small house near the main road, where the
forest-keeper had peacefully lived with his wife for more than twenty
years. On the hearth in the cottage a merry fire was burning, and
Katharine, the forest-keeper's wife, was industriously occupied with it,
while the young servant-girl, seated on a low cane chair near the
hearth, her hands clasped on her lap, had fallen asleep.

"Martha," exclaimed the old woman, in an angry voice, "--are you asleep
again?"

The girl opened her eyes lazily and yawned. "Why should I not sleep?"
she asked. "It is time to do so, and every Christian has long since gone
to bed. Let me also go to my bedchamber and sleep!"

"No, you must stay here," said Katharine, quickly; "I do not want to be
alone in such a night. The wind is roaring in the chimney so fearfully
that we might almost fancy Old Nick or the French were coming down to
carry us away, or, at any rate, our last piece of bread and meat!"

"Meat!" ejaculated the servant-girl, laughing scornfully. "Old Nick, or
even the French, would be unable to find any meat in your house. Would
that I could only get the wages you owe me for the last six months, I
should leave forthwith this miserable place, where one has so little to
eat, and where it is so dreadfully tiresome!"

"You have not suffered hunger as yet, Martha," said the old woman,
deprecatingly. "It is true, we have no meat left; the last ham we had
has been consumed, and our last chickens had to be taken to town to be
sold there--"

"And your husband has taken away your only cow," cried Martha, half
angrily, half sadly; "he is going to sell the good animal that always
gave us such excellent milk and butter. I tell you it is a shame that he
should do so, and I shall never go back to the stable where my dear
cow's lowing will no more greet me!"

"You will, nevertheless, have to go back, Martha, for the two goats are
still there; you must give them fodder, so that they may give us milk.
They are all we have left! Do you think it did not grieve me to part
with our fine cow which I had raised myself? I wept for her all last
night, and would have given away my hand rather than sell her. But no
one would have paid any thing for my old hand. We had to have money to
pay your wages, so as not to be obliged to listen longer to your
continued importunities. That was the reason why my good old man took
the cow to town. It cut him to the quick to hear you dunning us all the
time for a few dollars."

The servant-girl cast down her eyes and blushed. "I did not mean any
harm, Mde. Katharine," she said, in confusion. "It was mere talk; I
always hoped master would take a lesson from me and dun the count in the
same manner for his own wages. But the great lords are living
sumptuously, and do not care whether their servants are starving to
death or not!"

"Our count, Martha, does not live sumptuously," said Katharine, heaving
a sigh. "The French destroyed his palace, and--but hush! Did you not
hear something outside? I thought I heard some one call."

The two women were silent and listened; but nothing was to be heard. The
storm was howling, and rattling the windows. At times an iron hand
seemed to pass across the panes--it was the snow which the wind lashed
against the house as if intending to awaken the inmates from their
slumbers.

"A terrible night!" murmured Katharine, shuddering. "I hope that my dear
old man won't return in such a storm, but stop with one of his friends
at the neighboring village. Heaven preserve any human being out in such
a night as this on the highway, and from--"

A loud knock at the window-panes interrupted her, and a voice outside
shouted imperiously, "Open the door!"

The two women uttered a shrill scream, and Martha clung anxiously and
with both her hands to Katharine's arm.

"I beseech you, Mde. Katharine," she whispered with quivering lips,
"don't open. It is assuredly Old Nick or the French that want to come
in!"

"Fiddlesticks! The devil does not wait for the door to open, but comes
down the flue," said Katharine; "and as to the French, the
_Parlez-vous_, why, they cannot speak German. Just listen how they are
commanding and begging outside. 'Open the door!' Well, yes, yes! I am
coming. No one shall say that old Katharine suffered people to freeze to
death in the forest while she had fire on her hearth." Disengaging
herself from Martha's grasp, she hastened to the door, and opening it
quickly, said, "Whoever you may be, you are welcome!"

The storm rushed in with a terrible noise, driving the snow into the
house, and blowing up the fire on the hearth into a still brighter
blaze.

There appeared on the threshold a tall lady, wrapped in a dark velvet
cloak, trimmed with fur; her head covered with a silken cape, to which a
white lace veil was fastened. Behind her were another richly-dressed
lady, and two men in blue coats, splendidly embroidered with silver.

"You permit us, then, my dear woman, to enter your house and stop here
overnight?" asked the veiled lady, in a gentle, sonorous voice.

Old Katharine stood staring at her. She felt as frightened as if a
sorceress had entered her house. "First let me see your face," she said,
growing bold notwithstanding her inward terror; "I must see who you
are."

An indignant murmur arose among the attendants of the lady, but she
ordered them to be quiet with a wave of her hand. She then turned once
more to Katharine. "Well, my good woman, look at me," she said, drawing
back her veil.

A pale, wondrously beautiful face was visible, and eyes more lustrous
than the old woman had ever seen before, looked at her gently and
kindly.

"Do you know me now?" asked the lady, with a smile full of touching
melancholy.

"No," said Katharine, "I do not know you, but you are as beautiful as
the angels that sometimes appear to me in my dreams, or as the fairies
of whom my mother used to tell me when I was a little child. Come in,
you as well as the others. There is room at the hearth for all who are
cold."

The strange lady smiled and advanced into the cottage; before doing so,
however, she turned around. "M. von Schladen," she said, in French,
"pray, give orders to all not to betray my incognito. I am here the
Countess von Hohenzieritz; please inform the servants of it."

The gentleman, who had just appeared on the threshold, bowed and stepped
back. She and her companion approached the fire; the two servants, in
their gorgeous liveries, stood in silence at the open door. The lady
took off her fur gloves with a hasty motion, and held her small white
hands toward the fire. A ring with large diamonds was sparkling on her
forefinger. Old Katharine had never before seen any thing like it--she
stood staring at the lady, and dreaming again of the fairy-stories of
her childhood, while Martha sat on her cane chair as if petrified, and
afraid lest the slightest noise should dispel the enchanting apparition.

"Oh, how pleasant this is!" said the lady, drawing a deep breath; "my
hands were quite chilled. Countess Truchsess, come here and follow my
example!"

The young lady, who was standing near in a silent and respectful
attitude, approached the fire, and eagerly stretched her small hands
toward it.

"How comfortable, is it not?" asked the lady who had styled herself
Countess von Hohenzieritz. "Oh, after suffering from the cold a whole
day, we learn to appreciate the boon of the fire which otherwise we fear
as a dangerous element." And thoughtfully looking into the warm glow,
she muttered to herself, "We are now wandering about in the cold, and
are chilled; will no hospitable fire warm our hearts again?" She bent
forward without uttering a complaint, or heaving a sigh.

Katharine could not avert her eyes; she gazed at the lady's sparkling
jewels, and then looked at her face. Suddenly she noticed two diamond
drops roll slowly over her transparent cheeks; but they were no diamonds
like those flashing on her hands--they were tears. She shook them off
with an impetuous motion, and turned to old Katharine, who, clasping her
hands, asked herself wonderingly whether angels could weep.

"My good woman," said the countess, "will you permit us to stay here
until daybreak? We have lost our way in the snow-storm. We thought to
reach Königsberg before nightfall, but, I suppose, the city is yet quite
distant?"

"Ten hours, at least," said Katharine, timidly. "You have lost your way,
indeed--probably at the cross-roads, two miles from here. Instead of
following the main one, you took the side-road. Well, such things may
happen to the most skilful driver, in a snow-storm, when he cannot see
his hand before him."

"I believe that such things may happen, and do not blame any one for
what has occurred," said the countess, gently. "Tell me now, have you
room and beds for all of us?"

"The two ladies may sleep in my bed, provided they occupy it together.
But I have no others," said Katharine.

"I need no bed," exclaimed the younger lady, quickly; "I shall content
myself with sitting at the fireside."

"And I," said M. von Schiaden, who had just entered, "I beg leave to be
allowed to pass the night in the travelling-coach."

"You will catch cold in the carriage, sir," said Katharine, "and there
is danger, moreover, that, falling asleep, you might never wake again.
But in the hay-loft it is warm and soft; you and the other gentleman may
sleep there, if you please."

The Countess Hohenzieritz smiled. "Well," she said, "a high-chamberlain
in a hay-loft! That is a melancholy adventure, I should think?"

"No, gracious countess, it sounds quite ludicrous," said the
high-chamberlain, "and if only your--if only the gracious countess had a
good bed, I should have no reason whatever for being melancholy. There
are thousands nowadays sleeping on the hard ground, without a bunch of
hay for a pillow!"

"Our dead of Jena and Auerstadt, for instance," said the countess,
sighing. "But they are well: the dead sleep gently! At times I feel
like envying them, for their rest is more peaceful than that of the
living. Let us not murmur, but rejoice at having found shelter for the
night! We shall remain, then, in this room, and the high-chamberlain
will sleep in the hay-loft. But where shall we place our servants, and
what is to become of our horses?"

"How many horses have you?" asked Katharine.

"Six horses and an outrider," said M. von Schiaden.

"What!" exclaimed Katharine, in dismay. "Six horses! How extravagant in
times so wretched as these, when the king himself would be glad to have
two horses to his carriage, and--"

"Silence!" interrupted the high-chamberlain in great excitement.

"You are right, my dear woman," said the countess, smiling. "The king
will certainly be glad to have two horses left, especially if they
always draw him in the right way. But it was no wanton arrogance on our
part to take so many horses; we did so only on account of the bad roads,
and in order to travel as rapidly as possible."

"Well, the horses can stand in the cow-stable and the wood-shed," said
Katharine. "Go, Martha, light the lanterns, and show the coachman to the
stable, and the gentleman to the hay-loft. I will make the bed for the
ladies." And, drawing back the blue-striped linen curtains covering the
large old family-bed, she muttered to herself: "It is very lucky that my
old man has not come home; otherwise I should really be at a loss where
to place my high-born guests."

Half an hour afterward tranquillity again reigned in the cottage. The
horses, the servants, and the high-chamberlain, had been conducted to
their quarters in the cow-stable, wood-shed, and hay-loft. Katharine and
Martha had withdrawn to the servant-girl's small chamber, and on the
lower floor, which served, at the same time, as a kitchen, hall, and
sitting-room, a couch had been prepared for the two ladies. But the
young Countess von Truchsess could not be prevailed upon to occupy
one-half. She placed the cane chair against the high bedstead, and,
sitting on it as on a tabouret at the foot of a throne, she supported
her head on the cushions of the bed, over which the crimson satin
blanket, lined with fur, that the ladies had wrapped around their feet
in the carriage, had been spread. The Countess von Hohenzieritz was
reposing on this, her noble form still wrapped in the fur robe, falling
down to her feet in ample folds; her head was leaning back on the
cushions, and the crimson of the blanket contrasted strikingly with her
white cheeks and light-brown hair. She had clasped her small, slender
hands on her lap; her large eyes looked upward in devotion, and her lips
uttered fervent words, which no one heard and understood but He to whom
they were addressed.

The fire on the hearth, to which large logs of wood had been added,
continued blazing merrily; at times, when the wind came down the chimney
violently, the flames rose high, and the beautiful figure in the
miserable room was illuminated by the red light as by a halo. Her
countenance was as pale and peaceful as that of the blessed dead, and
yet an ardent vitality was beaming in her unclosed eyes. On the wretched
bed in the peasant's cottage she was dreaming of her former
happiness--of the magnificent days which she had seen, and which, she
believed, would never return. But she did not bewail her departed glory,
and her menaced welfare caused her no regret.

"Preserve to me, merciful God! the love of my husband," she whispered;
"let my children grow great in name and in soul. Oh, if I could purchase
happiness for them by sacrificing my life, I would gladly let my heart's
blood ebb away drop by drop--if by my death I could restore to my
husband his former power, how cheerfully I would die! O my God, save and
protect Prussia: but if such should not be Thy will, teach us how to
fall and die with her in an honorable manner! Preserve us from disgrace
and despondency; teach us how to bear great disasters with dignified
resignation, and grant that we may never be so faint-hearted as to sink
beneath petty calamities!"

She paused, and looked upward with radiant eyes; just then the storm
outside was howling with awful violence, and made the cottage tremble.
"Such a storm without, and peace within! Let it always be so, my God,"
she whispered, gently pressing her hand against her breast. "O peace,
sweet peace, when will it descend to us from heaven!" Gradually the
words died away on her lips; her eyelids drooped. Heaven sent to her the
brother of peace--sleep--that it might comfort her weary eyes and
invigorate her after the troubles and exertions of the previous day. The
storm continued all night long, but the beautiful sleeper heard it only
as a lullaby hushing her to sweet repose.

At daybreak there was a stir in the cottage. Katharine came to rekindle
the extinct fire, and the two ladies rose, chilled and shuddering, to
prepare for their journey. The travelling-coach, drawn by the six
horses, rolled up to the door, and High-chamberlain von Schladen rapped
timidly and begged leave to enter. The countess bade him come in, and
replied with a sweet smile to his inquiries as to her night's rest. "I
have slept," she said, "and feel sufficiently invigorated now to
continue the journey."

"In four hours we shall be in Königsberg," said M. von Schladen. "It is
a clear morning; the storm is over, and the sun will soon burst forth
from behind the clouds."

"'The sun will soon burst forth from behind the clouds,'" repeated the
countess, musingly. "Those are cheering words; could they but be
fulfilled for all of us! Let us hasten to reach Königsberg; for there at
least will be one sunbeam for me--I shall see my children again, and my
husband also will join us on returning from the Russian camp."

M. von Schladen advanced a few steps, and said in a low and hurried
voice: "The king is already in Königsberg. I have seen a peasant, the
owner of this cottage, who has come from Königsberg. He walked all
night, and left the city just at the moment when the king with his suite
returned."

"And did the man bring other news?" asked the lady, hastily.

"A rumor was in circulation in Königsberg that the French were advancing
from Posen, and, the Russian columns being also on the move, it was
generally believed that a battle would soon take place."

The lady walked rapidly to the door. "Let us set out as soon as
possible," she said; suddenly, however, she turned pale and leaned
against the wall to prevent herself from falling.

"Oh," she murmured faintly, "what weak, pitiful beings we are, after
all! The soul is strong enough to bear the heaviest burden, but the body
is so weak that a twelve hours' fast is sufficient to overpower it!"

Just then Katharine entered the room; on seeing the lady looking so
faint, she hastened to her, and asked sympathizingly for the cause of
her pallor and exhaustion.

"I will tell you, my dear woman," whispered the lady, with a sad smile,
"I am hungry!"

"Oh," sighed M. von Schladen, "and we have no refreshments with us!"

"But I have some for the beautiful lady," said Katharine, proudly. "I
was right in thinking that high-born people must eat sometimes, and are
not refreshed merely by their magnificent dresses and the splendor
surrounding them, but are obliged to put something into their mouths,
like us common people. Look, there is Martha with the breakfast!" And,
in truth, Martha was just entering the door, holding in her hand a
pitcher filled with fresh, smoking milk.

Katharine took an earthen cup from the shelf near the hearth, and filled
it to the brim. "Now drink," she said, handing the cup to the countess;
"it will strengthen you; it is splendid goat's milk, so fine and warm
that city folks never get any thing like it; no fire warmed this milk,
but God, who gave life and warmth to my dear goat. Drink, then, in His
name!"

"No refreshment has ever been presented to me in so cordial a manner,"
said the countess, nodding kindly to the old peasant-woman. "I shall
carefully remember your heart-felt words, and drink the milk in the name
of the good Lord, but only provided you, Countess Truchsess, and you,
too, M. von Schiaden, can likewise have a cup of this splendid milk."

"We shall have some," said the Countess von Truchsess; "please your--,
the gracious countess will please drink her milk." The countess placed
the cup on the window-sill without having touched it with her lips. "You
see I am waiting," she said--"make haste!" She herself then hastened to
the cupboard near the hearth, and took from it two small earthen jars,
which she handed to Katharine to fill with milk.

"And have you not something to eat with the milk, my dear woman?" asked
M. von Schladen, in a low voice.

"I have but a loaf of stale brown bread," said Katharine, "but I am
afraid it will be too hard for the fine teeth of the countess."

"Give it to me at all events," said the countess, "my teeth will be able
to manage it."

Old Katharine took a large loaf of bread from the cupboard, cut off a
thick slice, and presented it on the bright pewter plate, the principal
ornament of her house. The countess broke off a piece, and, leaning
against the window, commenced eating her frugal breakfast.

The Countess von Truchsess and the high-chamberlain had retired to the
hearth to partake of the strange and unwonted food. Katharine and Martha
stood at the door, staring admiringly at the lady who was leaning
against the window, and just lifting the stale brown bread to her
mouth. She did not notice that the two were looking at her; she was
gazing thoughtfully at the large bedstead in which she had passed the
night in tears and prayers. Her glance then turned to the piece of bread
which she held in her hand, and from which she had vainly tried to eat.
The bread and the bed reminded her of an hour long past, when she was a
happy queen--an hour when her mental eye descried the future, and the
words of a beautiful and melancholy song aroused in her anxious
forebodings, and seemed to her a prophecy of her own destiny. As she
thought of those golden days, her eyes filled with tears, which rolled
over her cheeks and trickled down on the bread in her hand. "Oh," she
murmured, "now I shall be able to eat it; I am softening it with my
tears!" And to conceal them she averted her head, and looked out at the
forest, whose lofty pines were adorned with snow-wreaths. Her tears
gradually ceased--she drew the large diamond ring from her finger, and,
using the pointed stone as a pen, wrote rapidly on the window-pane.

Old Katharine and Martha stared at her in dismay; the characters
appearing on the glass filled them with astonishment and superstitious
awe, and they thought the handsome lady who knew how to write with a
precious stone might after all be a fairy, who, persecuted by some evil
sorcerer, had fled thither into the dark forest, and was writing some
exorcising words on the window-pane, lest her enemy should pursue and
have power over her.

The lady replaced the ring on her finger, and turned to the young
countess and the high-chamberlain. "Now, I am ready," she said, "let us
set out." She walked to the door, and shaking hands with old Katharine,
thanked her for the hospitable reception she had met with in her
cottage, and then stepped out of the low door for the carriage, at which
the high-chamberlain was awaiting her.

"I beg leave, gracious countess, to take upon myself the functions of
our outrider. The road is broken and full of holes, and as I have a keen
eye, I shall see them in time, and call the attention of the coachman to
them."

The countess thanked him with a kind glance. "I accept your offer," she
said--"may a time come when I shall be able to thank my faithful friends
for the attachment and devotion they manifest toward me during
affliction, and which are engraven in diamond letters on my heart! But
let us thank the good woman who received us so hospitably last night. I
request you to give this to her in my name." She handed her purse filled
with gold-pieces to the high-chamberlain, and entered the carriage. M.
von Schladen stood still until the carriage rolled away. Before mounting
he hastened into the house.

Old Katharine and Martha stood in the room, and were looking in silent
astonishment at the neat characters on the pane, the meaning of which
they were unable to decipher. "Oh, sir," exclaimed Katharine, when the
high-chamberlain entered the room, "tell us the meaning of this--what
did the lady write here?"

M. von Schladen stepped to the window. When he had read the lines, his
eyes filled with tears, and profound emotion was depicted in his
features. "Enviable inmates of this humble cottage," he said, "from this
hour it has become a precious monument, and, when better times arrive,
the Germans will make a pilgrimage to this spot to gaze with devout eyes
at this historical relic of the days of adversity. Preserve the window
carefully, for I tell you it is worth more than gold and diamonds."

"Is it really, then, an exorcism which the beautiful fairy has written
there?" asked Katharine, anxiously.

"Yes, those are magic words," replied M. von Schladen, "and they read as
follows:

    'Who never ate his bread with tears--
      Who never in the sorrowing hours
     Of night lay sunk in gloomy fears--
      He knows ye not, O heavenly powers!'"[29]

[Footnote 29:

    "Wer nie sein Brot mit Thränen ass,
      Wer nie die kummervollen Nächte
     Auf seinem Bette weinend sass,
      Der kennt euch nicht. Ihr himmlischen Mächte."

                  Göthe.

]

"Ah, she ate her bread with tears to-day. I saw it," murmured Katharine.
"But who is she, and what is her name? Tell us, so that we may pray for
her, sir."

"Her name is Louisa," said M. von Schladen, in a tremulous voice. "At
present she is a poor, afflicted woman, who is fleeing from town to town
from her enemy, and eating her bread with tears, and weeping at night.
But she is still the Queen of Prussia, and will remain so if there be
justice in heaven!"

"The Queen of Prussia!" cried Katharine, holding up her hands in dismay.
"She was here and wrote that?"

"Yes, she wrote that, and sends this to you as a reward for your
trouble," said M. von Schladen, emptying the contents of the purse on
the table. The purse itself he placed in his bosom. Without waiting for
the thanks of the surprised woman, he departed, vaulted into the saddle,
and followed the queen at a full gallop.



CHAPTER XX.

COUNT BÜCKLER.


Perfidy and treachery everywhere! Magdeburg, Küstrin, the most important
fortresses of Prussia, had fallen. Not only the hand of the triumphant
conqueror had brought about their downfall, but the timidity and
cowardice prevailing among the Prussians themselves. Magdeburg, although
abundantly supplied with ammunition, and garrisoned by more than ten
thousand men, had surrendered. Küstrin, Hameln, and a large majority of
the other fortresses, had voluntarily capitulated, almost without a show
of resistance, on receiving the first summons to surrender; the first
cities of Prussia were now French; the French were lawgivers everywhere,
and the humiliated Prussians had to bow to the scornful arrogance of the
victors.

Still, there were at this time of sorrow and disgrace shining examples
of courage, of bold energy, and unwavering fidelity--there were
fortresses that had not voluntarily opened their gates to the enemy, and
that, regardless of hunger and privation, were struggling bravely for
honor and victory. As yet Colberg had not fallen; this fortress was
courageously defended by Scharnhorst, the skilful and experienced
colonel, by bold Ferdinand von Schill, and that noble citizen,
Nettelbeck, who by word and deed fired the hearts of the soldiers and
citizens to persist in their patient resistance and in the determined
defence of the place.

Graudenz had not surrendered to the besieging forces. The commander of
this fortress, M. de Courbières, had not yielded either to the threats
or the flatteries of the enemy. "If it be true, as you assure me, that
there is no longer a King of Prussia, I am King of Graudenz, and shall
not surrender," he replied to the bearer of the French flag of truce,
who summoned him in the name of the Duke de Rovigo to capitulate.

Silesia also had remained faithful, notwithstanding the action of
Minister Count Hoym, who, in a public manifesto, had called upon the
Silesians to meet the foe in the most amicable manner in case of an
invasion, and to satisfy as much as possible all the demands of the
hostile troops. The Silesians, more courageous and resolute than their
minister, were unwilling to bend their neck voluntarily under the French
yoke; they preferred to struggle for their honor and independence. It is
true, the fortress of Glogau had fallen, but Breslau and Schweidnitz
were still holding out. Twice had Breslau repulsed Jerome Bonaparte with
his besieging troops--twice had the determination of the courageous in
the place triumphed over the anxiety of the timid and of the secret
friends of the French. At the head of these bold defenders of Breslau
was a man whose glorious example in the hour of danger had inspired
all--infused courage into the timid, and brought comfort to the
suffering. This man was Count Frederick von Pückler. He did not take
time to recover from the wounds he had received in Jena. Faithful to his
oath, he devoted his services to his country, that stood so much in need
of its sons. After a short repose on his estate at Gimmel, he repaired
to the headquarters of King Frederick William at Ortelsburg.

It is true, he could not bring him a regiment, or any material help;
still he was able to assist him with his ideas, and to show him the
means of obtaining efficacious help.

Count Frederick von Pückler believed the king might derive assistance
from the military resources of Silesia. He described to him, in ardent
and eloquent words, the extensive means of defence retained by this rich
province; he assured him its inhabitants were faithful and devoted, and
ready to shed their blood for their king. He told his majesty, freely
and honestly, that the old civil and military bureaucracy alone was to
blame--that Silesia had not long an organized effective system of
resistance--that this government had paralyzed the patriotic zeal of the
citizens, instead of stimulating it--nay, that, by means of its
insensate and ridiculous decrees, it had impeded in every way the
development of the military resources of the province. He had not come,
however, merely to find fault and to accuse, but, in spite of his
sickness and his wounds, performed the long journey to the king's
headquarters in order to indicate to his sovereign the remedies by which
the mischief might be counteracted, and the country preserved from utter
subjugation. He communicated a plan by which new forces might be raised,
and be enabled to take the field in a few days. All the old soldiers
were to be recalled into the service; the forest-keepers and their
assistants were to be armed, and from these elements the _landwehr_ was
to be organized, and intrusted with the special task of defending the
fortresses.

The king listened to the ardent and enthusiastic words of the count with
growing interest, and finally Pückler's joyful confidence and hopeful
courage filled him also with hope and consolation.

"You believe then that we could really obtain, by these new levies,
brave troops for the defence of the fortress?" asked he.

"I am convinced of it," replied Count Pückler. "Ardent love for their
fatherland and their king is glowing in the hearts of the Silesians, and
they will be ready when called upon to defend the fortresses. Hitherto,
however, nobody has thought of appealing to the able-bodied men. Count
Hoym has retired to the most remote part of Silesia, and is now
wandering about from city to city. The military governor of Silesia,
General Lindener, visited all the fortresses and told their commanders
that every thing was lost--that it only remained for them to protect
themselves against a _coup de main_, so as to obtain good terms on their
surrender."

The king started up, and an angry blush mantled his face for a moment.
"If he said that, he is an infamous scoundrel, who ought to lose his
head!" he exclaimed, vehemently.

Count Pückler smiled mournfully. "Alas!" he said, "your majesty would
have to sign many death-warrants if you punish in these days of terror
all who are wavering because their faith and hopes are gone. Possibly,
only an admonishing, soul-stirring word may be required to invigorate
the timid, and to encourage the doubtful. Sire, utter such a word! Send
me back with it to Silesia! Order the governor to accept the
propositions which I had the honor to lay before your majesty, and which
I have taken the liberty to write down in this paper, and instruct him,
in accordance with them, to garrison the fortresses with fresh
defenders. Oh, your majesty, all Silesia is yearning for her king; she
is longingly stretching out her hands toward you; permit her to fight
for you!"

"You imagine, then, that Schweidnitz, and, above all, Breslau, in that
case, would be able to hold out?" asked the king.

"I do not imagine it, I am convinced of it!" exclaimed the count. "I
pledge my life that it is so; I say that Breslau, permitted to defend
itself, would be impregnable; I am so well satisfied of it that I swear
to your majesty that I will die as a traitor if I should be mistaken.
Sire, send me to Breslau--permit me to participate in the organization
of the new levies, and to arouse the zeal and energy of the authorities,
and I swear to your majesty the Silesian fortresses shall be saved!"

"Well, then, I take you at your word," said the king, nodding kindly to
the count. "I will send you to Breslau. Wait; I will immediately draw up
the necessary orders." The king went to his desk and hastily wrote a few
lines, Count Pückler stood near him, and smilingly said to himself, "I
will defend Breslau as Schill is defending Colberg! Both of us,
therefore, will fulfil the oath we have taken!"

"Read!" said the king, handing him the paper--"read it aloud!" Count
Pückler read:

"The enclosed proposition of Count Pückler to reënforce the garrisons of
the Silesian fortresses deserves the most serious and speedy
consideration. Hence, I order you to carry it out without delay, and to
save no expense in doing so. The fortresses must be defended at any
price, and to the last man, and I shall cause such commanders to be
beheaded as fail to do their duty.

"FREDERICK WILLIAM."

"Are you satisfied?" asked the king, when the count had finished.

"I thank your majesty in the name of Silesia," said the count, solemnly.
"Breslau will not fall into the hands of the enemy. I pledge you my head
that it will not. I now request your majesty to let me withdraw."

"When do you intend to set out?"

"This very hour."

"But you told me you had arrived only an hour ago. You ought to take
rest till to-morrow."

"Your majesty, every day of delay exposes your Silesia to greater
dangers. Permit me, therefore, to set out at once."

"Well, do so, and may God be with you!"

The king gazed after the count with a long, musing glance. "Oh," he
sighed, mournfully, "if _he_ had been commander of Magdeburg, it would
be mine still!"

Count Pückler hastened back to Silesia with the king's written order. He
visited all the fortresses and saw all the commanders. The king, to give
more weight to the count's mission, had instructed the provisional
authorities and the chief executive officers of the districts, in a
special rescript, to gather the old soldiers at the headquarters of the
recruiting stations; he had ordered all the commanders to confer
personally with Count Pückler as to the best steps to be taken for the
defence of the fortresses, by the addition of the new soldiers and
riflemen to the regular garrisons.

Count Pückler, therefore, had accomplished his purpose; he was able to
assist his country and to avenge himself for the disastrous day of Jena.
A proud courage animated his heart; his eye was radiant with joy and
confidence; his face was beaming with heroic energy. All who saw him
were filled with his own courage; all who heard him were carried away by
his enthusiasm, and gladly swore to die rather than prove recreant to
the sacred cause of the country. Every one in Breslau knew Count
Pückler, and confided in him. Always active, joyous, and indefatigable,
he was to be found wherever there was danger; he encouraged the soldiers
by standing at their side on the outworks, by toiling with them, and
exposing himself to the balls which the enemy was hurling into the city.
He maintained the enthusiasm of the citizens by patriotic speeches, so
that they did not despair, but bore their sufferings patiently, and
provided compassionately for the men standing on the ramparts in the
storm and cold, in the face of an uninterrupted artillery-fire. A
generous rivalry sprang up among the citizens and soldiers: the former
contributed all they had to provide the troops with food and comforts of
every description; and the latter vowed in their gratitude to fight as
long as there was a drop of blood in their veins, and not suffer the
inhabitants, in return for the privations they had undergone, and for
the sacrifices they had made, to be surrendered to the tender mercies of
the enemy. But this enthusiasm at last cooled. Every one would have
borne days of privation and suffering courageously and joyously enough,
but long weeks of anxiety and distress deadened the devotion of the
besieged.

"Every thing is going on satisfactorily," said Count Pückler, on coming
to the governor of the fortress, General Thile, on the morning of the
30th of December. "We shall hold out till the Prince von Pless, who has
lately been appointed by the king governor-general of Silesia, arrives
with his troops to succor us and to raise the siege of Breslau."

The governor shrugged his shoulders. "There will be no succor for us,
and every thing will turn out wrong," he said.

"But the soldiers are faithful, and the citizens do not waver as yet."

The governor looked almost compassionately at the count. "You see none
but the faithful, and hear none but the undaunted," he said. "I will
show you the reverse of your bright medal!" He took a paper from his
desk and beckoned the count to approach. "Just look at this; it is the
morning report. Do you want to know how many soldiers deserted last
night? Over a hundred, and in order to put a stop to further desertions,
the countersign had to be changed three times."

"The deserters are the perfidious, treacherous Poles!" exclaimed
Pückler, angrily.

"Yes, the Poles were the first to desert, and, unfortunately, more than
half the garrison consists of Poles. They are the old soldiers who were
organized in accordance with your proposition, my dear count. They are
yearning for home, and long to obtain, in place of the scanty rations
they receive here, the fleshpots which the Emperor Napoleon has promised
to happy Poland."

"But they need not starve here; they are provided with sufficient food,"
exclaimed Pückler. "Only yesterday I saw a subscription-paper
circulating among the citizens for the purpose of raising money to
furnish the men on duty on the ramparts with meat, whiskey, and hot
beer."

"How many had signed it?"

"More than a hundred, general."

"Well, I will show you another subscription-paper," said the governor,
taking it from his desk. "A deputation of the citizens were here last
night and presented this to me. It contains a request to give them,
amidst so many sufferings, the hope of speedy succor, lest they be
driven to despair. Over two hundred signed this paper. I could not hold
out any hopes, and had to dismiss them without any consolation
whatever."

"But succor will come," exclaimed Pückler.

"It will not come," said the governor, shrugging his shoulders.

At that moment the door opened, and an orderly entered. "Lieutenant
Schorlemmer, in command of the forces at the Schweidnitz Gate, sent me
here," he said. "He instructed me to inform the governor that the firing
of field and siege artillery was to be heard, and the village of Dürgoy
was burning!"

"The enemy is manoeuvring, and, no doubt, set the village
unintentionally on fire. Tell Lieutenant Schorlemmer that is my reply."

No sooner had the orderly withdrawn than the officer in command of the
engineers entered the room. "Your excellency," he exclaimed, hastily, "I
have just come from the Ohlau Gate. The enemy is hurrying with his
field-pieces and many troops from the trenches toward the Schweidnitz
road, and the firing that began an hour ago is gradually approaching the
fortress."

"The succoring troops are drawing near," exclaimed Count Pückler,
joyfully. "The Prince von Pless at the head of his regiments has
attacked the enemy!"

The governor cast an angry glance on the rash speaker. "It is true you
know all these things a great deal better than old, experienced
soldiers" he said; "you will permit me, however, to be guided by my own
opinion. Now, I think that the enemy is only manoeuvring for the purpose
of decoying the garrison from the city. We shall not be so foolish,
however, as to be caught in such a manner. But I will go and satisfy
myself about this matter. Come, Mr. Chief-Engineer, and accompany me to
the Ohlau Gate. And you, Count Pückler, go to General Lindener to
ascertain his opinion. He has good eyes and ears, and if he view the
matter in the same light as I do, I shall be convinced that we are
right."

Count Pückler hastened away, and while the governor, with the
chief-engineer, was walking very leisurely to the Ohlau Gate, Pückler
rushed into the house of General Lindener, determined to make the utmost
efforts to induce the governor to order a sally of the garrison. But
General Lindener had already left his palace and gone to the Taschen
bastion for the purpose of making his observations. Count Pückler
followed him; he could make but slow headway, for the streets were
densely crowded; every one was inquiring why the enemy had suddenly
ceased shelling the city.

Count Pückler rushed forward toward the Taschen bastion, and the
constantly increasing multitude followed him. General Lindener stood
amidst the superior officers on the rampart of the Taschenberg. He was
scanning the horizon with scrutinizing glances. The officers now looked
at him in great suspense, and now at the open field extending in front
of them. Count Pückler approached, while the people, who had almost
forcibly obtained admission, advanced to the brink and surveyed the
enemy's position. The crowd, however, did not consist of vagabond
idlers, but of respectable citizens--merchants and mechanics--who wished
for the consolation the governor had refused them--the hope of succor!
Gradually their care-worn faces lighted up. They saw distinctly that the
enemy had left the trenches. Here and there they descried straggling
French soldiers running in the direction of the fight in front of the
fortress. They heard the booming of artillery and the rattling of
musketry, and they beheld the shells exchanged between the opposing
troops, exploding in the air. Keen eyes discovered Prussian cavalry in
the neighborhood of the Jewish burial-ground, near the Schweidnitz
suburb, and at this sight tremendous cheers burst from the citizens.

"Succor has come!" they shouted. "The Prince von Pless is coming to
deliver us!"

All now looked to the general, expecting he would utter the decisive
word, and order the garrison to make a sortie. But this order was not
given.

General Lindener turned with the utmost composure to his officers. "I
have no doubt," he said, "that the enemy Is merely manoeuvring for the
purpose of drawing us out of the fortress. It is an ambush in which we
should not allow ourselves to be caught."

"Your excellency," exclaimed Pückler, in dismay, "it is impossible that
you can be in earnest. That is no manoeuvre; it is a combat. The
long-hoped-for succor has come at last, and we must profit by it!"

"Ah," said the general, shrugging his shoulders, "you think because his
majesty permitted you to participate in organizing the defence of the
city, and to confer with the commander in regard to it, you ought to
advise everywhere and to decide every thing!"

"No; I only think that the time for action has come," exclaimed Pückler.
"Opinions and suppositions are out of the question here, for we can
distinctly see what is going on in the front of Breslau. I beg the other
officers to state whether they do not share my opinion--whether it is
not a regular cannonade that we hear, and a real fight between hostile
troops that we behold?"

"Yes," said one of the officers, loudly and emphatically--"yes, I am of
the same opinion as Count Pückler; there is a combat going on; the
Prince von Pless is approaching in order to raise the siege."

"That is my opinion too!" exclaimed each of the officers, in succession;
"the succoring troops have come; the enemy has left the trenches in
order to attack them."

"And as such is the case," exclaimed Count Pückler, joyfully, "we must
make a sortie; prudence not only justifies, but commands it."

"Yes, we must do so!" exclaimed the officers. The citizens standing at
some distance from them heard their words, and shouted joyously: "A
sortie, a sortie! Succor has come! Breslau is saved!"

General Lindener glanced angrily at the officers. "Who dares advise the
commanding general without being asked?" he said, sharply. "None of you
must meddle with these matters; they concern myself alone, and I am
possessed of sufficient judgment not to need any one's advice, but to
make my own decisions!" With a last angry glance at Count Pückler, he
left the bastion to return to his palace. Governor Thile was awaiting
him there, and the two ascended to the roof of the building to survey
the environs. The fog, which had covered the whole landscape until now,
had risen a little, and even the dim eyes of the general and of the
governor could not deny the truth any more. A combat was really going
on. The smoke rising from the ground, and the flashes of powder from
field-pieces, were distinctly to be seen. It was a fact: succor was at
hand: a Prussian corps was approaching the city. The two generals left
the roof, arm-in-arm, in silence, absorbed in their reflections, and
descended to the ground-floor, where a luncheon had been served up for
them. An hour later, they assembled the garrison, in order to make an
attack, "in case the enemy should be defeated!"

But it seemed as if the enemy had not been defeated. The firing in front
gradually died away; the sally did not take place, and in the evening
the French recommenced throwing red-hot shot into the city.

"We have been betrayed," murmured the citizens, as they despondingly
returned to their homes.

"The general did not want to make a sortie--he had no intention to save
Breslau," groaned Count Pückler, when he was alone in his room. "All is
lost, all is in vain! The wish of the timid sacrifices our honor and our
lives! Oh, my unhappy country, my beloved Prussia, thou wilt
irretrievably perish, for thy own sons are betraying thee! Thy
independence and ancient glory are gone; conquered and chained, thou
wilt prostrate thyself at the feet of the victor, and with scorn he will
place his foot upon thy neck, and trample thy crown in the dust! I shall
not live to see that disgrace! I will fulfil my oath, and, not being
able to save my country, I must die with it! But not yet! I will wait
patiently, for there is a faint glimmer of hope left. The Prince von
Pless may make another attempt to raise the siege, and the citizens and
soldiers may compel General Lindener to order an attack, and not to
surrender. That is my last hope."



CHAPTER XXI.

THE PATRIOT'S DEATH.


Great excitement reigned in the streets of Breslau on the following day.
The people were standing in dense groups, and each of them was addressed
by speakers, who recapitulated the sufferings that had already been
undergone, and the agony in store for them if the city should persist in
its resistance.

"Who will dare to resist the Emperor Napoleon and his army?" exclaimed
one. "We were audacious enough to do so, and what has become of us! Our
houses have been demolished--our money is gone--our sons, brothers, and
fathers, have been crippled or killed! When Napoleon once stretches out
his hand toward a country, and says, 'I will have it!' it is useless to
resist him, for he always accomplishes what he intends. God or the devil
has given him the power to do so!"

"Why torment ourselves by further efforts?" cried another. "We shall
have to submit. Heaven itself is against us. See the ice-crust on the
Oder. This cold weather is a fresh ally of the French! So soon as the
Oder and the ditches are firmly frozen over, they will cross, and take
the city by assault. Of course, we shall be required again to risk our
lives in breaking the ice amid bullets and shells. The only question is,
whether you will do so."

"No! no!" shouted the crowd. "We have suffered enough! We will neither
break the ice in the Oder, nor extinguish the numerous fires. Too many
of our countrymen have fallen already; it is time for us to think of
saving the lives that remain!"

"No!" cried a powerful voice--"no! it is time for you to think of saving
your honor!"

"Count Pückler!" murmured the people, looking at the tall, imperious
man, who had mounted the curb-stone at the corner of the market-place,
and cast angry glances on the crowd.

"Will you listen to me?" asked the count, almost imploringly.

"Yes, yes," exclaimed a hundred voices, "we will listen to you!" And all
approached and encircled him.

"Now speak, count," said one of the men, standing closest to him. "We
know that you are a good patriot, and a noble friend of the people. Tell
us what we ought to do. Tell us whether you think that there is hope for
us!"

"There is," replied Count Pückler. "There is hope of succor."

"Ah, succor will not come," cried the people, scornfully, "and though it
should, the generals would act again as if they could not see any thing,
keep the gates shut, and fail to make a sortie. Speak of other hopes
that you think are still left to us, count!"

"Well, there is the hope that the weather will relax--that the Oder and
the ditches will not freeze, and that the enemy, consequently, will be
unable to cross them. By bombardment alone Breslau cannot be taken. Our
fortifications will resist the enemy's artillery a long while; and, if
you do not waver, but struggle on bravely, you may preserve to your king
his most beloved province and one of his best fortresses. Think of the
honor it would reflect on you if the whole world should say: 'The
citizens of Breslau preserved to their king the great capital of
Silesia! During the days of danger and distress they hastened fearlessly
to the ramparts, not only to carry food and refreshments to the
defenders, but to transform themselves into soldiers, to man the guns,
and hurl balls at the enemy!'"

"Yes, yes, we will do so! That will be glorious!" shouted the men, and
their eyes flashed, and they lifted up their arms as if they were
grasping their swords. "Yes, we will march out to the ramparts--we will
become brave soldiers, and fight for our city and for our king!"

"And you will lose your limbs," cried a sneering voice from the crowd;
"you will be crippled--die of hunger--ruin yourselves and your children;
and it will be in vain, after all! You will be unable to save Breslau,
for the odds are too great, and we ourselves have already been weakened
too much."

"Alas, he is right!" lamented the people, and those who were about to
rush to the walls stood still, and their courage seemed to disappear.

"No!" exclaimed Count Pückler, ardently--"no, he is not right! It is not
true; but even if it were true that we are too weak to hold out, would
it not be much more honorable to be buried under the ruins of the city,
than to live in disgrace and bow to a new master? Think of the shame of
Magdeburg; remember that a cry of indignation was uttered by the whole
of Prussia at the treachery and cowardice of that city! Citizens of
Breslau, do you want to be talked of in the same manner? Do you desire
to act so pusillanimously that your children one day will have to blush
for their fathers? Do you want to behave so ignominiously, that your
wives and sweet-hearts will deride you and call you cowards?"

"No, no!" shouted the people. "We will fight--fight for our honor and
our king."

"Clear the way!" cried loud and imperious voices at that moment, and a
procession of over a hundred citizens marched up Ohlau Street; it was
headed by an old man with flowing silvery hair, who held a large folded
paper in his hands.

The crowd, that hitherto only had had eyes and ears for Count Pückler,
now bent inquiring glances on the newcomers, and looked searchingly and
wonderingly at the old man, whom every one knew to be one of the most
venerable and respectable citizens of Breslau.

"Where are you going, Mr. Ehrhardt?" asked many at the same time. "What
is the object of your procession? What is the paper you hold in your
hands?"

Mr. Ehrhardt held it up. "This paper," he said, "is a petition drawn up
by the citizens who are following me. In it we depict the sufferings and
privations we have undergone, and pray that a speedy end may be put to
them. Matters cannot go on in this way any more; the distress is too
great; we have borne all we can--we must think of ourselves for the sake
of our wives and children. We have done enough to save our honor;
self-preservation is also a duty. We have stated all this in our
petition, and are about to take it to the city hall, in order to deposit
it there by permission of the authorities, so that every one may sign
it. This afternoon it will be presented to the governor. Hasten, then,
to add your signatures, for the more the better. When the governor sees
that the citizens are united, he will have to comply with our demands
and enter into a capitulation. The enemy sent a flag of truce this
morning; the bearer, I have been told, imposes very rigorous terms on
the commander of the fortress. He threatens also that the city, if it do
not surrender to-day, will be bombarded with red-hot shot long enough to
set fire to all the buildings. Come, my friends, let us go. All good and
sensible citizens will sign this petition."

The procession moved on. Profound silence ensued. Count Pückler was
still standing on the curb-stone and looking in breathless suspense at
the people that, a moment ago, had surrounded him. He saw now that many
left him and joined those marching to the city hall.

"Citizens of Breslau!" he cried, in great anguish, pale with grief and
horror--"citizens of Breslau, think of your honor; think of the many
tears which the eyes of your noble queen have already shed for
Magdeburg; remember that your king relies on you and on your love, and
that his gratitude toward you will be boundless if you remain faithful
now--faithful unto death! Think of the great king who fought seven long
years for you, and whose glory still reflects a golden lustre on the
whole of Silesia. Do not join the timid and cowardly. Stand by me. Let
us go together to the city hall--let us demand the petition that we may
tear it to atoms; then go to the governor and tell him that he must not
capitulate, but resist till--"

"Till we die of hunger?" cried a harsh voice, and a tall,
broad-shouldered man elbowed himself through the crowd and walked up to
the count. "Count Pückler," he said, menacingly, "if you continue
talking about resistance, and other nonsense of that kind, you are a
miserable demagogue, and the assassin of those who believe your
high-sounding words.--Listen to me, citizens of Breslau. I am secretary
of the commission of provisions, and do you know whither I have been
ordered to go? To the municipal authorities! I am taking to them a list
of what is still on hand. There are in Breslau at the present time only
twenty thousand pounds of meat, and the bakers and brewers have no fuel
left. If we do not open our gates to the French, death by starvation
will await us after to-morrow. Therefore, let all those who do not wish
to die of hunger hasten to the city hall and sign the petition that will
be deposited there."

At this moment a strange, hissing noise resounded through the air; a
glowing ball rushed along and penetrated the roof of a house, from which
flames immediately burst forth. A second and a third followed and set
fire to several houses on the market-place.

"The bombardment is recommencing!" howled the multitude. "They are
firing red-hot shot again. Come, come to the city hall! Let us sign the
petition." They hastened off like game pursued by a hunter; fear lent
wings to their feet, and anxiety rendered the weak strong, and enabled
the lame to walk.

Count Pückler was left alone. For a moment he leaned pale and exhausted
against the wall of the house; large drops of perspiration covered his
brow; his cheeks were livid, his lips were quivering, and he gazed at
the city hall, the steps of which the crowd were ascending at that
moment. "They are going to sign my death-warrant," he muttered, in a low
voice. He descended from the curb-stone, and, drawing himself to his
full height, walked slowly down the street. The bullets were whistling
around him and dropping at his side. He quietly walked on. He reached
the house in which he was sojourning, and ascended the stairs slowly and
with dilated eyes, like a somnambulist. He reached the first landing,
and had turned already to the second staircase. All at once invisible
influences seemed to stop his progress; his face commenced quivering,
his eyes sparkled, and turned with an expression of unutterable grief to
the door which he was about to pass. "I must see her once more," he
muttered; "possibly she may follow me." He pulled the bell vehemently,
and a footman opened the door. "Is my betrothed at home?"

"Yes, count; the young countess is in her room; her parents are in the
parlor. Shall I announce you?"

"No, I will go to her without being announced." Passing the footman and
hastening down the corridor, he rapped at the last door. Without
waiting, he opened it and entered.

A joyful cry was heard--a young lady as lovely as a rose ran toward him
with open arms. "Have you come at last, dearest? Have you really been
restored to me? Oh, how I have been longing for you all the morning--how
my heart trembled for you! With what an agony of fear every ball passing
over our house filled me, for any one of them might have struck you! But
now I have you back. I shall detain you here, and not let you go any
more. You shall be like a caged bird. Would that my heart were the cage
in which I could keep you!" She laid her head, smiling and blushing, on
his breast while uttering these words; in the ardor of her own joy she
had not noticed how pale, listless, and sad he was. When she raised her
bright eyes to him, her smile vanished. "What ails you, my beloved?" she
asked, anxiously. "What is the calamity that I see written on your
face?"

He took her head between his hands and looked long and mournfully at
her. "Camilla," he said, in a low, husky voice--"Camilla, will you die
with me?"

"Die!" she asked aghast, disengaging her head from his hands. "Why
should we die, Frederick?"

"Because I do not wish to live without honor," he exclaimed, with sudden
vehemence. "Because our misfortunes are so terrible that we must escape
from them into the grave. All is lost! Breslau will fall, and we shall
be obliged to prostrate ourselves at the conqueror's feet! But I will
not, cannot survive the disgrace of Prussia. 'Victory or death!' was the
motto which I once exchanged with Schill. I swore to him to live and die
with my country; I swore to the king, if Breslau fell, that I would die
the death of a traitor. Breslau falls; therefore I die!"

"No, no," exclaimed Camilla, clinging firmly to him, "you shall not
die--you must not die! You are mine; you belong to me, and I love you!
Hitherto you have lived for your honor as a man--now live for your heart
and its love! Listen to me, Frederick! How often have you implored me to
accelerate the day of our wedding, and I always refused! Well, I beseech
you to-day, give me your hand! Let us go together to my parents, and ask
them to send for a priest, and let our marriage take place to-day. And
then, dearest, when the gates of Breslau open to the enemy, we can find
a refuge at your splendid estate. The horrible turmoil of war and the
clashing of arms will not follow us thither. There, amidst the charms of
peaceful nature, let us commence a new life; with hearts fondly united,
we shall belong only to ourselves, and, forgetful of the outside world,
devote ourselves to our friends--to art and literature. Oh, my beloved,
is it not a blissful future that is inviting you and promising you
undisturbed happiness?" She laid her arms, from which the white lace
sleeves had fallen back, on his shoulders, and held her glowing face so
close to his own that her breath fanned his cheek; her ruby lips almost
touched his own, and her dark eyes were fixed on him with an expression
of unutterable tenderness.

The count pushed her back almost rudely. "The happiness you are
depicting to me is only given to the innocent, to the pure, and to those
who have no desires," he said, gloomily; "it is the happiness of gentle
doves, not of men. And I am a man! As a man of honor I have lived, and
as such I will die. My life harmonizes no more with yours. Will you go
with me, Camilla, into the land of eternal honor and liberty? Does not
this world of treachery and cowardice fill you with disgust as it does
myself? Does not your soul shrink with dismay at the infamy we behold
everywhere at the present time? Oh, I know your heart is noble and pure,
and despises the baseness which is now the master of the world. Let us,
therefore, escape from it. Come, dearest, come! I have two pistols at my
rooms. They are loaded, and will not fail us. A pressure of my
finger--and we are free! Say one word, and I will bring them--say, my
Camilla, that you will die with me!"

"I say that I will live with you!" she cried, in terror.

"Then you will not die with me?" he asked, harshly.

"No, Frederick, why should I die? I am so young, and love life; it has
given me nothing but joy--it has given you to me--you, whom I love, for
whom I will live, whom I will render happy! What do I care for the
misfortunes of Prussia--what do I care whether Breslau surrenders to the
enemy or not, while I am free to follow you--free to devote myself
entirely to my love!"

"A woman's heart!--a woman's love!" said Pückler, with a contemptuous
shrug of his shoulders. "I wish I resembled you; we then might be like
cooing doves in the myrtle-tree. But my heart is rather that of an
eagle--longing for the sun; and as he has set on earth, I shall fly
after him. Farewell, Camilla, farewell! Forget me not, and be happy!" He
imprinted a hasty, glowing kiss on her lips, and then turned toward the
door.

Camilla rushed after him, and, clinging to him with both her hands,
exclaimed: "Frederick, what are you going to do?"

"I go to the land of liberty, and will do what honor commands," he said,
disengaging himself from her grasp, and rushing from the room.

"Frederick! Frederick!" she cried, in the utmost terror, running to the
door; she could not open it, for he had locked it outside. "I must
follow and save him," she exclaimed, and gliding across the room, she
opened a small secret door in the opposite wall; scarcely touching the
floor, she passed through the parlor, without taking any notice of her
parents, who were sitting on the divan, and asked her in surprise for
the cause of her hurry and agitation. She did not see that they were
following her; nor did she hear them call her. Onward, onward she went
through the room to the corridor, into the hall, and up the staircase.
She rushed to the upper floor, and rang the bell violently, when the
footman of Count Pückler opened the door, and stared surprised at the
young countess. She passed him impetuously, and ran down the corridor
leading into the sitting-room of her betrothed. But it was locked.
Uttering a cry of despair, she sank breathless on her knees, and laid
her burning forehead against the door.

The old count, with his wife, followed by Count Pückler's footman, now
approached. "My child, my child!" murmured the old countess, bending
over her daughter, "what has happened? Why are you so pale? Why do you
weep?"

Camilla looked up to her with streaming eyes. "Mother," she exclaimed,
in a heart-rending voice, "mother, he will kill himself!"

"Who?" asked her father, aghast.

"My betrothed," she gasped faintly. "With a more generous and scrupulous
regard for his honor than we are manifesting for ours, he will not
survive the disgrace of his country. As Breslau is doomed, he will die!
As I did not care to die with him, he angrily repulsed me, and went up
to his room to die alone. Oh, mother, father, have mercy on my anguish!
Help me to save him!"

"Is the count really here?" said Camilla's father to the footman. "Is he
in this room?"

"Yes, gracious count, my master came home a few minutes ago. Without
saying a word, he went to his room, and locked himself up."

The old count stepped to the door, and, grasping the knob, shook it
violently. "Count Pückler, open the door," he cried aloud. "Your
father-in-law and the mother of your betrothed are standing at your
door, and ask to be admitted!"

"Frederick! Frederick!" begged Camilla, "I am on my knees in front of
your door-sill, and implore you to have mercy--to have compassion on me!
Oh, do not close your heart against me--oh, let me come in, my dear
friend!" She paused and listened, hoping to hear a word or a movement
inside. But every thing remained silent.

"If you refuse to listen to our supplications, we shall enter by
force," exclaimed the count.

"My son," wailed the old countess, "if you will not listen to us, at
least have mercy on my daughter, for she will die of grief if you desert
her."

"My Frederick, I love you so tenderly--do not repel me!" wailed Camilla.

All was silent. "I must use force," said the count, concealing his
anguish under the guise of anger. "Hasten to a locksmith," he added,
turning to the footman; "he is to come here at once, and bring his tools
with him. Notify also the officers at the neighboring police-station."
The footman withdrew.

"My beloved," cried Camilla, wringing her hands, and her face bathed in
a flood of tears, "my Frederick, I love you better than my life! Your
wish shall be complied with. Open your door, and admit me. If I cannot
live I will die with you! Oh, do not remain silent--give me a sign that
you are still living--tell me at least that you forgive me--that--"

She paused, for a song suddenly resounded in the room; it was not a song
of sorrow, but of wrath and manly courage. The words were as follows:

    "Tod du süsser, für das Vaterland!
    Süsser als der Brautgruss, als das Lallen
    Auf dem Mutterschooss des ersten Kindes,
    Sei mir willkommen!

    Was das Lied nicht löset, löst das Schwert,
    Blinkend Heil, umgürte meine Hüften,
    Von der Schande kannst du Tapfre retten,
    Zierde der Tapfern!"[30]

[Footnote 30: See p. 18.]

The voice died away. Camilla was on her knees, with clasped hands; her
parents stood behind her in devout silence. Suddenly noisy footsteps
drew near. At the entrance of the corridor appeared the footman with the
locksmith, who came with his tools to open the door. The old count made
a sign to him to stand aloof. He had heard a movement in the room, and
he hoped Camilla's lover would voluntarily admit them.

A pause ensued--then a terrible report was heard in the room. Camilla
uttered a loud shriek, and sank senseless to the floor.

An hour later, the locksmith succeeded in opening the door, which had
been strongly bolted inside. Count Pückler sat in the easy-chair in
front of his desk, immovable, with his face calm and uninjured, the
pistol still in his hand. He had aimed well. The bullet had pierced his
heart. On the desk in front of him lay a sheet of paper, containing the
following words:

"Last greeting to Ferdinand von Schill, who took an oath with me that we
would live and die as faithful sons of our country! Our country is
sinking ignominiously into the dust; I will not, cannot survive the
disgrace, and, therefore, I die. Farewell, you who took that oath with
me--farewell Schill and Staps! I hope you will be happier than myself! I
am the first of us three who dies because he despairs of his country.
Will you survive me long? May God give you strength to do so! Farewell
until we meet again!

"FREDERICK VON PÜCKLER."

On the following day the governor of Breslau commenced negotiations with
the enemy, and on the 7th of January, 1807, Breslau opened its gates to
the French troops, and the Prussian garrison laid down its arms.



CHAPTER XXII.

PEACE NEGOTIATIONS.


General von Zastrow, who had temporarily taken charge of the Prussian
department of foreign affairs, was pacing his room. His whole appearance
was indicative of care and anxiety. Whenever he passed the door leading
into the anteroom, he stood still and listened, and then, heaving a sigh
and muttering angry words, continued his walk. But at length it seemed
as if his expectations were to be fulfilled; he heard approaching steps.
The door opened, and the footman announced General von Köckeritz.

General von Zastrow quickly went to meet his visitor, and offered him
both his hands. "I thank your excellency from the bottom of my heart for
having yielded to my urgent supplications," he said, passionately, "and
at the same time I beg your pardon for having been so bold as to
request you to call upon me. But as you reside in the same house as
their majesties, and as the king comes to see you frequently and
unexpectedly, I believe we can converse here more freely and without
fear of being disturbed."

"You are right, my dear general," said Köckeritz; "it is better for us
to hold our little conferences at your house. My room, moreover, has
walls so thin that every word spoken there can be heard outside. Alas,
it is on the whole a miserable barrack in which the royal couple and
myself are obliged to stay here in Memel! Low, dark rooms--no elegance,
no accommodations, no comfort. Every thing is as narrow, gloomy, and
smoky as possible and then this fearfully cold weather! Yesterday,
during the heavy storm, an inch of snow lay on the window-sill in the
queen's room, and, I assure you, it did not melt! Nevertheless, her
majesty is perfectly calm and composed; she never complains, never
utters any dissatisfaction, but always tries to prove to the king that
she likes Memel very well, and that it is as beautiful a capital as
Berlin."

"Ah, my respected friend," said General von Zastrow, mournfully, "this
composure of the queen is very injurious to us. If she were more
melancholy--if she bewailed her misfortunes more bitterly--if she
manifested a more poignant sorrow, we should not be doomed to sit here
on the extreme frontier of Prussia, but might hope to make our triumphal
entry into Berlin, perhaps, in two weeks."

"Into Berlin?" asked General von Köckeritz, greatly surprised. "Why, you
are talking of a miracle which I am unable to comprehend."

"Oh, your excellency will understand it soon enough," replied General
von Zastrow, smiling, "if you will only be so kind as to listen to me a
little."

"I assure you, my friend, I am most anxious to hear your explanations; I
am burning with the desire to know how we are to bring it about to leave
this accursed, cold Memel and return to Berlin within so short a time."

"Well, what is the cause of our sojourn here?" asked General von
Zastrow. "What has driven us hither? What has deprived the king, our
august master, of his states, of his happiness--nay, almost of his
crown? What is the cause that our beautiful and amiable queen has to
undergo all sorts of privations and inconveniences, and is compelled to
reside, instead of in her palace at Berlin, in a miserable, leaky house
in Memel, where she is closer to the Bashkirs than to civilized people?
The war is the cause of all this!"

"Yes, if my advice had been followed, these calamities would never have
befallen us," replied General von Köckeritz, sighing; "we would have
remained on terms of friendship and peace with the great man whom Heaven
has sent to subjugate the world, and resistance against whom is almost
equivalent to blasphemy. He frequently and magnanimously offered us his
friendship, but at that time more attention was paid to the vain
boastings of the lieutenants of the guard; and the rhodomontades of
Prince Louis Ferdinand unfortunately found an echo in the heart of the
queen. The advice of older and more prudent officers was disregarded,
and the king, in spite of himself, was dragged into this war, which we
have had to expiate by the defeats of Jena and Auerstadt, and by the
loss of so many fortresses and provinces. And who knows what may be in
store for us yet? Who knows what mischief may yet threaten the crown and
life of Frederick William!"

"Well," said General von Zastrow, with a sarcastic smile, "it looks as
though the fortune of war were now turning in favor of the Russians.
Think of the great victories which the Russian General Benningsen has
already won. Did not twenty-four trumpeting postilions proclaim to us at
Königsberg, on new-year's-day, the Russian victory of Pultusk?"

"Yes, but those twenty-four postilions and that emphatic announcement
were the most brilliant parts of the victory," said General von
Köckeritz, shrugging his shoulders. "Benningsen was not defeated by
Napoleon at Pultusk, but honorably maintained his position on the
battle-field--that is what the whole amounted to."

"Yes, but we are celebrating again a great and brilliant triumph. On the
7th and 8th of February the Russian General Benningsen and our General
Lestocq claim to have obtained another advantage over Napoleon and his
marshals. I suppose you are aware that Benningsen himself has arrived
here in order to communicate the news of the victory of Eylau to the
royal couple?"

"Yes, I know," said Köckeritz. "But I know also what this new success
really amounts to. The Russians are very liberal in issuing victorious
bulletins, and if they have not been massacred in a battle to a man, the
last ten survivors shout invariably, 'Victory! We have won the battle!'
That of Eylau is even more problematic than that of Pultusk. Pray tell
me, who held the battle-field of Eylau?"

"Napoleon with his French, of course."

"And who retreated from Eylau toward Königsberg?"

"General Benningsen with his Russians."

"And these Russians, nevertheless, are audacious enough to claim a
victory!" exclaimed General von Köckeritz. "These fellows regard it such
when Napoleon, instead of pressing them on their retreat, remains where
he is, and gives them time to escape."

"They are in ecstasies, because they infer from this delay of Napoleon,
and from his unwonted inactivity, that he also stands in need of repose
and recreation," said General von Zastrow. "The severe winter, bad
quarters, hunger, and thirst, have greatly exhausted the strength of the
grand army, and the lion would like to rest a little. For this
reason--and now I come to the point concerning which I requested your
excellency to call on me--for this reason, the great Napoleon desires to
make peace. The conqueror of Jena himself offers it to the vanquished
King of Prussia."

"What? Do you really think that to be true?" asked General von
Köckeritz.

"I do not only think, but know it to be true," said Zastrow. "General
Bertrand arrived here an hour ago, and called on me with the request to
present him to the king, that he might deliver him an autograph letter
from the Emperor Napoleon. I told the general that I should return his
visit in half an hour, and then conduct him to his majesty. I wished to
profit by this half hour, my dear friend, to confer with you about this
matter."

"And did General Bertrand inform you that Napoleon would offer peace to
our king?"

"Yes, your excellency. He communicated to me the contents of the
imperial letter. The lion of Jena magnanimously offers once more to make
peace."

"We must strain every nerve to induce the king to accept these
overtures," exclaimed Köckeritz, quickly.

"Your excellency is the only man sufficiently powerful to induce the
king to come to such a decision," said Zastrow. "You must be so kind as
to prove to him that to continue the war with France is to bring about
the ruin of Prussia. If he does not accept the offer of Napoleon, he is
ruined, for the emperor would not forgive such obstinate hostility; and,
if Prussia will not live with him on terms of friendship, he will
annihilate her in order to be done with her."

"I shall not threaten the king by laying too much stress on the strength
of his enemy," said Köckeritz, "for that would wound the pride of his
majesty, and provoke his sense of honor to renewed resistance. But I
shall call his attention to the weakness and fickleness of Russia,
informing him that our friends, the Russians, are behaving in the most
shameful manner in those parts of Prussia which they are occupying, and
committing so many outrages that the inhabitants are praying on their
knees to God to grant victory to the French, so that they might deliver
them from the Russians. I shall tell him that the distress and the
extortions the Prussian farmers have to suffer at the hands of our
allies are perfectly incredible; that the peasants in the villages have
been stripped of every thing, to such an extent that they beg the
Cossacks, who have robbed them of their provisions, for their daily
bread; that many of them are dying of hunger, and that unburied corpses
have been found in the houses of several villages now occupied by our
troops. And, above all, I shall beseech his majesty to repose no
confidence in the Russian friendship! Whatever the czar may say about
his fidelity, he has not the power of carrying his point, and all his
resolutions will be frustrated by the resistance of his generals and of
his brother. The Grand-Duke Constantine and the larger and more powerful
part of the Russian nobility are anxious for peace; and Constantine,
whose views are shared by Benningsen, will leave no intrigues, no cabals
untried in order to gain the czar over to his opinion, and plunge him
into difficulties from which he will finally be able to extricate
himself only by making peace--a peace concluded at the expense of
Prussia. Russia and France will be reconciled over the corpse of
Prussia! Even now it is distinctly to be seen what we have to expect
from the czar's assistance. Our allies are doing nothing really to help
us, but whatever steps they are taking are exclusively for their own
safety. It is true, they advanced at first, but only in order to prevent
the French from approaching their frontier. Since that time, however, in
spite of the battle of Pultusk, the Russians have steadily retreated,
although the enemy did not compel them to do so. They accomplished thus
their own purpose, that is, to devastate a province of Prussia, and
protect themselves by this desert from a French invasion."

"It is true," said General von Zastrow, "our friends are ruining us by a
mere semblance of aid. If they really were honest and faithful allies,
would they not strain every nerve to preserve Dantzic to us? General
Benningsen did promise to succor the fortress and raise the siege, if
Dantzic held out only two months longer. But what is he doing to redeem
his promise? Absolutely nothing! We reproached him with his inactivity,
and he excused it by asserting that the army would first have to be
reënforced. He admits that the fall of that seaport would be a great
disaster, but refuses to do any thing decisive for its safety.
Therefore, if we do not give up the equivocal friendship of the
Russians--if we do not now make peace with France, Dantzic will be lost,
and Colberg and Graudenz will likewise fall, in spite of the efforts of
their heroic defenders, Schill and Colomb. Oh, I beg you induce the king
to accept the peace if the terms offered to him be not utterly
inadmissible. These Russians will never deliver us. Suppose even another
general than Benningsen, and better disposed than he, should advance
after his so-called victories in the same manner as Benningsen is
retreating now, he would restore to us no state, only a desert. The king
ought to believe us that they are utterly unwilling to render us
assistance, and that they only intend devastating our country in order
to protect themselves. Whatever the noble and generous Emperor Alexander
may order, it is certain that nothing will be done. Even though we
should protest and clamor against it in the most heart-rending manner,
we should be unable to bring about a change."

"But should we succeed in convincing the king," said General von
Köckeritz, "how are we to persuade the queen? Her heart, otherwise so
gentle and generous, is filled with hatred against Napoleon, and she
believes in the friendship of the Russian emperor."

"Will you take it upon yourself, your excellency, to persuade the king
to make peace with France?"

"I believe I shall be able to do it," said General von Köckeritz, after
a brief reflection.

"Well, for my part, I undertake to persuade the queen to acquiesce, at
least in silence, and not advocate so warmly the alliance with Russia."

"I should like to know by what charm you intend to accomplish such a
miracle."

"By a very simple one, your excellency. I shall cause my niece, the
Countess von Truchsess, who is not merely lady of honor, but also reader
to the queen, to read to her majesty the last numbers of the _Berlin
Telegraph_, which I have just received. This seems like a riddle, but it
is not. That journal contains charges against the queen, which, it
appears to me, render it impossible for her to declare so loudly and
publicly in favor of a continued alliance with the Russian emperor. Her
majesty, therefore, must be informed of the contents of those articles;
she must know in what sense public opinion--or, if you prefer, the
wicked world--is interpreting her enthusiasm for the Russian alliance.
She must learn it this very hour, that, at this momentous crisis, she
may not try to stem the tide of events. We must tie her hands in order
to prevent her from destroying the work we are taking so much pains to
accomplish. While your excellency goes to the king in order to take his
heart by storm with your convincing eloquence, and I am afterward
conducting General Bertrand to his majesty (to whom he will present the
pacific overtures and the autograph letter from Napoleon), my niece, the
Countess von Truchsess, will read to the queen the articles published in
the _Telegraph_, and if the king should really hesitate, and desire to
hear the opinion of his wife, she, in her just indignation, will
assuredly not advocate his cause for whose sake she has to bear the
slanders of the public press."

"Heaven grant that you may be a true prophet, general!" said Köckeritz,
heaving a sigh. "The queen, however, is so magnanimous that she might
even overlook her personal wrongs, and the slanders heaped on her, if
she thought the welfare of the country was at stake. I believe she
esteems the honor of Prussia even higher than her own, and in case she
should believe the former to be endangered, would be willing to
sacrifice herself."

"I believe your excellency is mistaken, so far as that is concerned,"
said General von Zastrow, smiling. "The wife of Frederick William, aside
from being a high-minded queen, is a woman who has the utmost regard for
her reputation and virtue, and who, for the sake of her husband and
children, would not suffer a breath of suspicion upon her honor. Well,
we shall see whether you are right or not. It is high time for us to go
to work. As you have promised me your assistance, I am quite hopeful,
and believe we shall succeed in restoring peace to poor tormented
Prussia. Go, then, your excellency, to perform your part; I will go to
the Countess von Truchsess, to bring her the newspapers, and then it
will be high time to conduct General Bertrand to the king. Well, Heaven
bless us all, and cause Prussia to make peace at last with the Corsican
lion!"



CHAPTER XXIII.

THE SLANDEROUS ARTICLES.


Queen Louisa was in her cabinet, engaged in reading the letters and
journals brought by the courier, who had just arrived from Berlin. She
glanced hastily over the papers, and then turned to the letters that lay
unopened before her. On the other side of the small table, standing in
front of the divan, sat the young Countess von Truchsess, who was
occupied in arranging the journals. The queen meantime was reading her
letters; during the perusal her features lighted up more and more, and a
delicate blush mantled her pale cheeks.

Louisa had but just recovered from a severe and dangerous illness, which
had attacked her soon after her arrival at Königsberg. The suffering
which her courageous soul was enduring with so much constancy and
heroism had undermined her body; weaker than her mind, it had succumbed
to the burden of her grief. A nervous fever had confined her to her bed
for weeks; it had afforded her at least some consolation by rendering
her unconscious of misfortune, and causing her, in her delirious
moments, to live again through the joyful days of the past. While she
was dreaming and believing herself happy in the splendors of a former
life, real and fearful disasters had befallen her cause. She had not
learned that the French were approaching nearer to Königsberg, and that
the unfortunate royal family were no longer safe there. She had not been
conscious in her fever that she had been lifted from her couch into the
travelling-coach, to be conveyed to Memel--that her carriage had been
transformed into a sick-bed, and that she had lain on the cushions with
burning cheeks, singing sweet lullabies, and rejoicing in her fancied
happiness.

But at length her fever subsided, and consciousness returned. All the
mournful news which during her illness had been concealed from her,
overwhelmed her as soon as she recovered, and for this reason her health
had improved but very slowly. At this hour, as we have said, the blush
had returned to her cheeks, and her eyes were beaming again with the
fire of former days. The letters gave a glimmer of hope to her soul.
They told her of the brave defenders of the fortresses that had not
surrendered, and of heroic Ferdinand von Schill, who, with his soldiers,
was doing so much injury to the enemy, and who had succeeded in
capturing one of the commanding generals of the besieging army, Marshal
Victor. They told her of Graudenz, the commander of which had sworn to
be buried under the ruins of that fortress rather than open its gates to
the enemy; they told her also of Dantzic, which was still courageously
holding out and hoping for the succor the Russians had promised. And
these letters contained still other hopeful news: that Berlin, which,
according to former statements, was said to have already submitted to
Napoleon, was bowing very reluctantly to the behests of the autocrat,
and still waiting for the hour of deliverance.

"Oh, I knew well enough," said the queen, laying aside the last of her
letters, "I knew well enough that the inhabitants of Berlin are
affectionately devoted to us. I never doubted their constancy, and how
should I? Those whom you meet with a heart full of love are compelled,
as it were, to return your love. The king and I always loved Berlin, and
always counted on its fealty. I am glad, therefore, to hear that our
hopes will be fulfilled one day! It is still a dark, stormy night, but
daylight will come--the rising sun will dispel the storm and scatter the
darkness. You shake your head, Countess Truchsess? You do not believe in
my prophecies?"

"I do not believe in the fidelity of the inhabitants of Berlin, your
majesty," sighed the countess, "they are a frivolous, fickle people, who
revile those to-day whom they admired but yesterday."

"Oh!" exclaimed the queen, sinking back upon the sofa, "the throbbing of
my heart tells me that you have to communicate bad news! What is it?"

"No, most gracious queen, command me rather to be silent," said the lady
of honor, imploringly. "Your majesty looks so pale that I am afraid any
excitement would injure your weak nerves. You need repose and ought not
to be irritated; besides, what does your majesty care for the slanders
of the populace? Such arrows recoil from the pure."

"Ah," said the queen, with a faint smile, "you are dealing with me as
did Robert the hunter with the count in Schiller's 'Walk to the Forge.'
You are stimulating my curiosity by mysterious words--you are talking
about slanders, and yet you do not tell me what they are."

"Only with the difference, your majesty, that Robert the hunter told
falsehoods, which he himself had invented, while I alluded only to those
of others, and despise them from the bottom of my heart."

"Then you mean to say that I have been slandered," exclaimed the queen,
in a low voice. "Tell me, countess, what did your friends write to you?
What stories have been disseminated? I desire to know!"

"Gracious queen, my friends did not write any thing on the subject. I
saw only what, unfortunately, thousands have already seen."

"What did you see?" said the queen, angrily. "What do you refer to? Do
not speak any longer in riddles, if you please."

"Your majesty, I have glanced at the pamphlets and journals lying there,
and request you not to insist to-day on my reading to you the articles
contained in them."

"Ah, that is it!" exclaimed Louisa, laying both her hands on the
periodicals which the countess seemingly wished to withhold from her.
"These contain the slanders. I must know what they are. Read them to me,
countess." And the queen folded her arms with a resolute air.

"Have mercy on me, your majesty! I am really afraid--my lips cannot
easily recite those vile lines, and your majesty, besides, will be angry
with me for complying."

"No, no," exclaimed the queen, impatiently, "I am not angry with you.
You only did your duty in calling my attention to these things, and
having taken upon yourself the task of being my reader, perform it now!
What pamphlets are those sent to us?"

"Your majesty," said the countess, in an embarrassed tone of voice,
"there is, first, a pamphlet entitled 'A True Account of the Interview
of the Emperor Alexander with the King of Prussia at the Grave of
Frederick the Great.'"

"Read it," replied the queen, dryly, "it is always good to listen to the
true account of events in which we have taken part." And without
uttering a word--without even a frown, she listened to the comments on
the scene at the grave of Frederick. They were malicious and scornful,
representing it as a farce.

"Well," said the queen, when the countess had finished, "if that is the
worst, I feel at ease again. We must submit to abuse, and I sincerely
pardon all those who expose me to the derision of the world by depicting
me as a martial Joan of Arc. It has not been permitted me to live
quietly in the shade of domestic happiness. A queen stands alone on a
summit; she is seen and watched by every one, and it is, therefore, but
natural that she should be hated and abused more relentlessly than other
women, particularly if she be unhappy. For sovereigns are never
pardoned, although they are subject to human failings, and their
misfortunes are always regarded as their own faults. Let the malicious,
therefore, deride us as much as they please; the good will only love and
respect us the more. Proceed, countess! What else did we receive?"

"Nothing, your majesty, but a few numbers of the _Telegraph_."

"Ah, read them," exclaimed the queen. "I know that journal will not
slander me. Its editor, Professor Lange, is a patriot, and, for this
reason, I had promised to lend him the portrait of the king which I am
wearing in a locket, that he might give his readers a good likeness of
their beloved monarch. The disastrous events of the war, and my
departure from Berlin, prevented me from fulfilling my promise. But
there will be better times for us, perhaps, and I shall then be able to
reward all those who remain faithful to us."

"And I hope your majesty will also be able to punish those who prove
treacherous," exclaimed the countess, vehemently.

The queen shook her head. "No," she said, "those who wrong me I will
pardon, and those who are faithless I will leave to their own
conscience. Now, countess, read to me the articles of the _Telegraph_."

"Does your majesty command me?"

"I do!"

The countess took one of the sheets and read in a tremulous voice: "'A
reliable account of the reasons why the queen compelled her husband, in
spite of his reluctance, to conclude an alliance with the Emperor of
Russia, and why she herself entered into a love-affair with Alexander of
Russia--'"

Louisa started, and a deathly pallor covered her face like a veil.

"Oh, my queen!" exclaimed the countess, imploringly, "do not insist on my
reading any further. I have not courage to do so."

"If I have courage enough to listen, you must have courage enough to
read," said the queen, almost harshly, "Read--I command you."

And the countess, in a low and tremulous voice, read the disgraceful
charge preferred by that journal, which accused the queen of loving the
Emperor Alexander in the most passionate manner. "Queen Louisa," said
the editor, "was in favor of the alliance with Russia, because her
heart had concluded an alliance with the handsome emperor, and she met
with her 'fine-looking' friend for the last time in the presence of her
husband at the grave of Frederick the Great. The alliance of their
hearts was sealed there by a glowing kiss, which Alexander imprinted on
the lips of Louisa."

The queen uttered a cry, and sprang up like an angry lioness. "That is
not true--that cannot be in the paper!" she cried, almost beside
herself.

The lady of honor silently handed her the paper. Louisa seized it, but
she trembled so violently that she was hardly able to decipher the
characters. She at last read the slanderous article herself.
Heart-rending groans escaped her, and a strange twitching and quivering
distorted her features. "It is indeed true, I have been wickedly
reviled!" she exclaimed, throwing the paper aside. "My enemies will rob
me of the only thing remaining--my honor--my good name. They desire to
expose me to the scorn of the world. Oh, this disgrace is more shocking
than all my other sufferings. It will kill me!" She covered her face
with her hands and wept piteously. The tears trickled between her
fingers, and fell on her black dress as if adorning it with diamonds.

The Countess von Truchsess was touched by the queen's grief. She softly
gathered up the other papers, and was about to leave the room, but the
noise of her footsteps aroused Louisa from the stupor of her despair.
She quickly dropped her hands from her face and dried her tears. "Stay
here," she said; "read the remainder. I want to hear it all." And as the
lady of honor remonstrated against this order--as she implored the queen
to spare herself, and to close her ears against such slanders, Louisa
said, gravely and imperiously: "I want to know it all! Unknown terrors
are even worse than those which we do know. Read!"

The countess, therefore, was obliged to read. The remaining numbers of
the journal repeated the same charge. They stated, though in different
words, that the queen alone was in favor of the alliance with Russia;
that the king would be quite willing to make peace with France, but that
his wife would never permit it, because she was passionately enamoured
of the emperor of Russia, and maintained a tender _liaison_ with him.
The queen listened as immovable and cold as a statue; her whole vitality
seemed suspended; she then pressed her right hand firmly against her
heart; with her left she clung convulsively to the back of the sofa, on
which she was sitting, as though she wished to prevent herself from
falling. Her eyes stared wildly, as if strange and fearful visions
passed before them. Thus she sat, long after the countess had paused,
an image of grief and horror. The lady of honor dared not interrupt her;
but clasping her hands, and weeping softly, she gazed at the queen, who,
in her grief-stricken beauty, seemed to her a martyr. Nothing was heard
but the monotonous ticking of the clock, and, at times, a low whistling
of the canary-bird, in its gilt cage at the window.

But suddenly Louisa seemed to awake from her stupor; a tremor pervaded
her whole frame; the flash of: life and consciousness returned to her
eyes. "That is his work," she muttered; "this attack comes from
him--from my mortal enemy. It is Napoleon who has aimed this poisoned
arrow at my heart, because he knew that nothing could hurt me and my
husband more fatally than this dreadful calumny." And uttering a loud
cry of despair, and wringing her hands, she exclaimed: "Oh, my God, what
did I do, to deserve so terrible a disgrace! What did my husband do that
he should be thus exposed to the relentless malice of his foe? Was not
the measure of our wretchedness full? Could not that cruel man, who
calls himself Emperor of the French, content himself with hurling us
into the dust, and with robbing my husband of his states? Is the honor
of his wife also to be sacrificed?"

A flood of tears burst from her eyes, and lifting up her arms to heaven,
she cried: "My God, why didst Thou desert me! Have mercy on me, and send
death to me, that I may conceal my reviled head in the grave! I am
accused of an ignominious, sinful love, although I love no one on earth
but my husband and my children! And a German pen was bought to write
that slander--German eyes did not shrink from reading it, and German men
and women permitted it to be repeated in this journal time and again!
They did not feel that they were disgraced and reviled in my
person--that all Germany was calumniated! For, in my grief as well as in
my love, I am the representative of Germany, and to insult me is to
insult all German wives and mothers. Woe to you, Napoleon, for stooping
to such an outrage! I pardon your attempts to rob me of my crown, but so
long as I breathe, I will not forgive your attacks upon my honor!"

She rose slowly and proudly, and lifted her arms and eyes as if to utter
a solemn imprecation. "Woe to you, Napoleon!" she cried, in a loud,
ringing voice, "woe to you that you did not respect the innocence of the
wife, and had no mercy on the honor of a mother! The tears which I am
shedding at this hour will one day fall like burning coals on your
heart, and for this torment I am now enduring I shall call you to
account above! You think you are master of the earth, and, like fate
itself, can dispose of empires; but you will be crushed at last--you
will one day feel that you are only a weak creature--only dust, like all
of us. You will yet sink down in your affliction, and cry for mercy. Let
me live to see that day, my God: then my tears will be avenged!"

She paused, her eyes still directed toward heaven, her whole appearance
breathing a sublime enthusiasm. She looked like a prophetess with her
beaming face and uplifted arms. But after a while her arms dropped, her
eyes turned to earth again, and the inspired prophetess was once more
transformed into the unhappy woman, who feared she would die beneath the
burden of her grief. She burst again into tears, and repeated again and
again that terrible accusation, although every word of it struck her
heart like a dagger. Gradually, however, the reviled woman, conscious of
her innocence, became the proud and pure queen! With quiet dignity she
stretched out her hand toward the countess, who rushed to her, pressed
her lips on the royal hand, and sobbing asked to be forgiven.

"I have nothing to forgive," said Louisa, with a faint smile. "I know
your intentions were good. Oh, believe me, during hours of great
affliction the soul sees and comprehends many things that were hitherto
concealed from it. Thus I understood in the outburst of my despair why
all this had occurred, and why I had to undergo all these sufferings.
Napoleon's poisoned arrow might have fallen powerless at my feet, if
your uncle had not instructed you to pick it up and make me feel it.
Hush! Do not utter a word of apology! Your uncle, General von Zastrow,
is a patriot in his way, and intended to teach me by your intervention
how to become a good patriot in his sense--that is to say, to hate
Russia, and to turn away from this alliance, for the sake of which I
have been insulted. It was policy that induced the Emperor Napoleon to
invent these calumnies, and it was policy again that induced your uncle
to have you communicate them to me. This is a consolation; for, as it
is, I am suffering only for the sake of my people, and you made me a
martyr of the German cause. But I will bear all without complaining,
however painful it may be; I do not wish it to cease if the welfare and
happiness of Prussia should be delayed thereby but a single hour. I
shall not ask the king to break off the alliance with Russia. Queen
Louisa yesterday believed an alliance with Russia to be necessary and
advantageous to the welfare and honor of Prussia; she will not change
her mind to-day because Louisa, the woman, is charged with a
dishonorable love for the Emperor of Russia. The woman may die of this
calumny, but dying she will still be a queen, and say, 'I die for my
country, and for my people! May my death be advantageous to Prussia!' Go
to your uncle, countess, and tell him so! And now give me the numbers
of the journal, and the pamphlet too; I will take them to the king. My
fate, as well as that of Prussia, is in his hands. He alone can absolve
me from the charge preferred against me. Give me the papers!"



CHAPTER XXIV.

THE JUSTIFICATION.


The king sat at his desk, assiduously engaged in writing, when the door
opened, and the queen entered. Her whole bearing breathed an unwonted,
solemn earnestness; her head was proudly erect, her cheeks pale, and a
melancholy smile was playing on her lips. In her left hand she held a
roll of papers. The king rose hastily to meet his wife with a kindly
greeting. Louisa gave him her right hand, and laid her head for a moment
on his shoulder. Looking into her husband's face with a sweet, touching
expression, "Do you love me, Frederick?" she asked in so low and gentle
a voice that he scarcely heard it. Frederick William smiled, and,
instead of replying to her, imprinted a kiss on her fair brow.

"Do you believe in me?" said Louisa. "Oh, my lord and king, I implore
you by every thing that is sacred--by the memory of our children--tell
me, sincerely and frankly, as if standing before God, do you believe in
me? Do you believe in my love--in my virtue?"

"Louisa," exclaimed the king, indignantly and almost aghast, "this
question is too grave to be a jest, and too ludicrous to be grave."

"And yet I am in earnest," exclaimed the queen, in an outburst of
excitement, which she was no longer able to restrain. "Look at these
papers, Frederick. They contain a terrible charge against your wife--the
mother of your children--the queen of our people. They accuse the wife
of a disgraceful _liaison_, and the queen of the most infamous
selfishness. Frederick, they charge me with loving the Emperor
Alexander, and with having induced you, for the purpose of gratifying
this passion, to enter into the alliance with Russia. Now, you know the
disgrace weighing me down, of which all Germany is aware by this time,
and in which the malicious and evil-disposed will surely believe, even
though the virtuous and compassionate may refuse to credit it. Read
these papers, my husband; read them in my presence, and if your
features express but a shadow of doubt--if you fix your eyes but for a
moment on me with an uncertain expression--let me die, and hide my head
in the grave!"

She offered the papers to the king, but Frederick William only glanced
at them, and then laying them on the table, took from one of its drawers
other papers. "See, Louisa," he said in his blunt, dry manner, "these
are the same numbers of the _Telegraph_; I have already had them for a
week, and read every word of them."

The queen unfolded them. "It is true," she said, shuddering; "they are
the same papers; I read there again the terrible words, 'Queen Louisa
insists on continuing the alliance with Russia, only because her heart
has formed an alliance with the fine-looking Emperor Alexander, and
because she is passionately enamoured of him.' Oh, my husband, these
words have engraved themselves as a stigma on my forehead, and should
your eyes behold it also, let me expunge it by sacrificing my life. Tell
me the truth, Frederick! Have I deserved it--have I ever sinned by a
word--nay, by a look? I have often thought and said, that there is a
vestige of truth at the bottom of every rumor--that it may be greatly
exaggerated, but cannot be entirely false. Is there any foundation
whatever for this slander? Consider well, my husband, and if you should
find that I have sinned by a gesture, by a smile, banish me from your
presence. Tell me that I am unworthy of being called your wife; tear the
bonds of friendship that unite you with the Emperor Alexander, and
oppose him as an enemy, menacing and demanding satisfaction. There must
be no stain on your honor, and if you believe the statements of these
papers, show to the world that you will punish the faithless wife and
spurn the treacherous friend!"

The king put his hands on the glowing cheeks of his wife, and, raising
her head, gazed at her with a long and tender look. "Your friends had no
mercy on you, then?" he asked. "They had to inform you pitilessly of
what I wished so anxiously to conceal from you? I would willingly have
cut off my right hand if I could have expunged with the blood trickling
from the wound those lies from the public mind. But the world has now as
little mercy on us as fate. Affliction has hitherto surrounded your
beauty with the glory of a martyr; but mean men have been instigated to
make you a penitent sinner--a Magdalen of the martyr."

"My beloved Frederick," cried the queen, "you evade my question; you do
not reply to me! Tell me the truth. Do you believe in me? Or do you deem
me guilty?"

At this moment a low rap at the door interrupted them. The king
listened, and then turned smilingly to his wife. "It is Minister von
Zastrow, who comes with General Bertrand," he said. "I have granted an
audience to the Frenchman at this hour, to receive the letter and the
peace offers of Napoleon. He is proposing to me an alliance with France,
and he, as well as his adherents here, I suppose, count on my having
read those papers, knowing in what sense malicious men are interpreting
our alliance with Russia. The reply that I shall make to Napoleon's
envoy will be also a reply to your question; hence you shall hear it,
Louisa. Enter my cabinet; the _portière_ will conceal you from the eyes
of my visitors while you will hear every thing that is said." He took
the queen's arm and conducted her quickly into the adjoining room;
hastily rolled an easy-chair toward the door, and requested her by a
wave of his hand to sit down on it. He then lowered the thick velvet
_portière_, and, taking leave of his wife with a smile, returned to his
room.

Louisa gazed after him. "Oh," she whispered, "how could I deceive and
betray him?--him whom I love as the cause of all my happiness, and who
has rendered my life sacred and glorious! Oh, my husband and my
children! my conscience is clear, and accuses me of no guilt! Will you
believe it, Frederick? Will those infamous slanders not leave a vestige
of mistrust in your mind? But hush, hush! the envoy is there already! I
will listen to what the king replies to him." She bent her head closer,
and her large blue eyes with their searching glances seemed to pierce
the heavy velvet, so that she might not only hear but see what was going
on in the room.

In obedience to a sign made by the king, the door of the anteroom had
opened, and General Bertrand, accompanied by General von Zastrow,
entered. The king, standing in the middle of the room, returned the
deep, respectful obeisances of the two gentlemen by a careless nod, and
fixed his quiet eyes searchingly on the French general.

"Sire," said General von Zastrow, in a loud and solemn voice, "General
Bertrand, adjutant of his majesty the Emperor Napoleon, in accordance
with the gracious leave of your majesty, has appeared here in order to
deliver to you an autograph letter from his imperial master."

"I am glad to see General Bertrand, and to make his acquaintance," said
Frederick William, composedly; "I like the brave; and not merely the
French army, but all men, know you to be a brave officer."

General Bertrand blushed. "Ah, sire," he said, "if I have not deserved
this praise hitherto, your royal and kindly words will stimulate me in
the future to strive with unflagging zeal to become worthy of it. I deem
myself happy because my august master the emperor selected me to be the
bearer of his letter and of his proposition, for he thereby enables me
to do homage to the noblest and best of kings--to the exalted sovereign
who bears prosperity and adversity with equal dignity. Your majesty will
permit me to deliver the letter of my emperor into your hands." He
approached the king, and, presenting to him the large letter to which
the imperial seal had been affixed, reverentially bent his knee.

"Oh, no," said Frederick William, quickly, "a brave soldier must not
humble himself in this manner; rise, general!"

General Bertrand rose, holding the imperial letter still in his hands,
for the king had not yet taken it. Looking at him inquiringly, "Sire,"
he said, "may I request your majesty to receive the letter of my
emperor?"

"Ah, I forgot," exclaimed the king. "You are the bearer of a letter the
Emperor Napoleon has addressed to me. Let me confess my want of skill: I
am unable to read your emperor's handwriting very rapidly, and it is
disagreeable slowly to decipher such a letter. Moreover, what the
emperor has to say to me will, doubtless, sound better when uttered by
your lips, than in the black words on the paper. I, therefore, request
you to read it to me."

"Sire," exclaimed General Bertrand, "I shall not dare to break the seal
of a letter addressed to your majesty, and not to me."

"Oh, you may do so," said the king, "I permit you to break the seal.
What the Emperor Napoleon and I have to write to each other need not be
sealed. Everybody may know it. And, I suppose his letters will be only a
sort of continuation of the bulletins he issued in Potsdam and Berlin.
Such bulletins and letters belong to the world and history, which will
judge them."

"Oh," whispered the queen, who had heard every word, "oh, why cannot I
see him in his proud calmness and dignity, and thank him for his noble
words!" She seized the _portière_ with her slender fingers and pushed it
aside a little, so as to be able to see what was going on in the other
room. The king, perhaps, had noticed the slight rustling, for he;
glanced quickly at the curtain; it opened immediately, the noble and
beautiful face of the queen appeared; she nodded with radiant eyes a
smiling greeting to her husband, and kissed her hand to him; her head
then disappeared from the aperture, and the folds of dark velvet closed
again. General Bertrand and General von Zastrow had seen nothing. Both
stood with their backs toward the door, and respect prevented them from
looking around toward the slight noise that reached their ears for a
moment.

A smile illuminated the king's face. "Well," he asked, almost jestingly,
turning to General Bertrand, "you have not broken the seal yet? Do so,
for you ought to understand that I am anxious to hear the contents of
this letter."

"Sire, inasmuch as you command me, I obey," said Bertrand. With a quick
pressure of his hand he broke the seal and opened the letter.

"Now let me hear it," said the king, gliding slowly and carelessly into
the easy-chair standing at the side of the desk. "There are two chairs;
take seats, gentlemen!"

"Your majesty will permit me to stand. My master the emperor is not
accustomed to have his letters read in another position."

"Yes, he may require his subjects to pay to him the deference of
standing when one of his letters is being read," said the king. "You may
stand, therefore, if you please. General von Zastrow, sit down." The
king said this in so stern and imperious a tone that General von Zastrow
felt resistance impossible, and that he would have to obey the king's
order. He took a chair in silence, inwardly aghast at this disrespectful
breach of etiquette.

"Read," said the king, dryly. General Bertrand unfolded the letter and
read as follows:

"Your majesty will receive this letter at the hands of my
Adjutant-General Bertrand, who enjoys my friendship. I, therefore,
request you to repose entire confidence in every thing that he says, and
I flatter myself that his mission will be agreeable to you.

"Bertrand will communicate to your majesty my views about the present
state of your affairs. I desire to set bounds to the misfortunes of your
family, and to organize, as soon as possible, the Prussian monarchy,
whose mediating power is necessary for the tranquillity of Europe.

"Bertrand will also communicate to you the easiest and quickest way in
which this can be brought about, and I hope your majesty will let me
know that you have taken the step which will accomplish this purpose in
the best manner, and which, at the same time, will agree with the
welfare of your subjects; that is to say, that you accept the peace
which I am offering to you. At all events, I beg your majesty to feel
convinced that I am sincerely disposed to resume our former relations,
and that I also wish to come to an understanding with Russia and
England, provided these powers should be animated with the same desire.
I should detest myself if I were to be the cause of so much bloodshed.
But how can I help it? The conclusion of peace is therefore in the hands
of your majesty, and it would be the happiest day of my life if you
accept my present propositions.

"NAPOLEON."

"You have to make oral explanations to this letter of your emperor?"
asked the king, when Bertrand paused.

"Yes, sire, my master the emperor intrusted me with further
communications to you," said Bertrand. "But, in the first place, I beg
leave of your majesty to deliver the imperial letter into your hands."
He approached the king and presented the paper to him with a respectful
bow.

The king did not take it, but pointed to his desk. "Lay it there," he
said, carelessly. "The purpose of this letter is accomplished; I know
its contents, and that is all I care about. And now, general,
communicate to me as briefly as possible the verbal commissions with
which the emperor has intrusted you."

"Sire, his majesty the emperor authorized me to repeat to you that it
was his liveliest wish to resume his former amicable relations with
Prussia, and that he would shrink from no sacrifice to effect it. The
emperor longs for nothing more ardently than to restore your states to
your majesty, and to conduct you back to your capital."

"As his vassal?" asked the king, smiling sarcastically.

"No, sire, as a free and independent king."

"Not as Napoleon's ally, then?"

"Yes, sire, as the emperor's ally, but as free and independent as he is
himself. It is true, the emperor hopes and wishes that Prussia will be
friendly toward France; he relies on your majesty's assistance in his
struggle with Russia, which, in that case, will soon bow to the united
will of France and Prussia, and be compelled to accept a treaty of
peace. In return, the emperor will surrender to the just wishes of your
majesty seditious Poland, which, as the emperor has become satisfied,
is unable to bear an independent existence. The rebellious provinces of
Prussian Poland shall speedily be compelled to yield unconditional
obedience to the Prussian sceptre, and your country shall occupy once
more the position due to her in the council of European nations. It will
be unnecessary for her to make for this purpose any sacrifices to the
friends and allies of France; all her fortresses and provinces shall be
fully restored, and so soon as the treaty of peace will have been
definitively concluded, the French troops will evacuate the Prussian
territory."

While General Bertrand was speaking, the face of Minister von Zastrow
had brightened, and was now really radiant with joy. Animated by the
cheering words of the Frenchman, he rose from his seat, and looked at
the king with clasped hands and imploring eyes. But the countenance of
Frederick William remained impenetrable and cold; not the slightest
expression of joy or gratification was to be read in it.

"Are you done, general?" asked the king, after a pause.

"Yes, sire. I am waiting for your majesty's reply."

"This reply will be brief and decisive," exclaimed Frederick William,
loudly, rising slowly and with truly royal dignity. "I will not accept
this alliance and this peace!"

"Your majesty," said General von Zastrow, in dismay, forgetful of the
requirements of etiquette, "your majesty, that is impossible! You cannot
be in earnest; I beseech you first to hear the opinion of your
ministers, and to consult a cabinet council."

"Silence!" said the king, indignantly; "the only voices that I ought to
consult with regard to this question are not those of my ministers, but
those of my conscience and honor. It behooves the king alone to decide
upon war or peace. I repeat, therefore, I will not accept this peace nor
enter into the alliance offered under such circumstances. I might
content myself with this declaration, but I shall tell you the reasons
of my refusal that you may repeat them to your emperor. I cannot accept,
for it would be a defeat and disgrace more humiliating than the loss of
a battle. What, sir! I am to receive by the grace and _bon plaisir_ of
your emperor the gift of a position to which I am entitled by my birth!
The Emperor Napoleon condescends to restore my states after forcibly
expelling me from them! If I were to accept this offer, I should thereby
condemn myself; and this war, into which I entered so reluctantly,
because I foresaw its disastrous consequences, would be nothing but a
reckless adventure, abandoned by myself because unsuccessful. If I
allowed Napoleon to reinstate me in my rights, what would I be but his
vassal? Not a king by the grace of God, but a king by the grace of
Napoleon--not the ruler of a free and independent German state, but the
governor of a French province--the despised oppressor of an enslaved
people, robbed of their honor, independence, and nationality. Now, I
commenced this war for the sake of my own honor and that of my people. I
commenced it to set bounds to French cupidity and thirst for conquest;
to preserve to Germany her German and to Prussia her Prussian character,
and to drive back the Confederation of the Rhine beyond the frontier of
the Rhine. The fortune of war has not sustained me in these efforts, and
victory perched upon the eagles of France. But the Prussian eagle is not
yet dead; he may still hope to rise again, and, endowed with renewed
vigor, reconquer what belongs to him. What was taken by the sword can be
reconquered only by the sword. My honor, as well as that of my army and
people, was wounded on the battle-fields of Jena and Auerstadt; it
cannot be healed by the balm of Napoleon's grace; it can only be
redeemed by blood!"

"Sire, I beseech you, do not allow yourself to be carried away by the
ardor of your heroism," exclaimed General Bertrand, feelingly. "Remember
that after the rejection of this peace the Emperor Napoleon will be a
relentless enemy of yours, and leave nothing undone in order to
annihilate Prussia. Your majesty ought also to take into consideration
that you lack an army--that your forces have been dispersed, and that
your fortresses have surrendered."

"Colberg and Graudenz are still holding out," exclaimed the king, "and
so is Dantzic."

"Sire, if you reject this peace, the first step of the emperor will be
to take Dantzic by assault," said General Bertrand.

"Your majesty, have mercy on Dantzic," exclaimed General von Zastrow,
imploringly; "have mercy on your blockaded fortresses--on your poor
distressed subjects! So soon as your majesty accepts this peace, the
Emperor Napoleon intends withdrawing all the French troops from Prussian
territory. Oh, pray take into consideration how dreadfully your people
have suffered by the heavy contributions, and the enormous supplies to
the troops! Remember that they are overwhelmed with wretchedness, and
are kneeling and crying to God and to their king to restore peace."

"O my God," murmured the queen, "inspire him with the true decision,
and grant that he may perceive and choose what is right!" She knelt down
behind the curtain as if to hear better the king's words, that to her
were the words of God. The king did not seem to notice his minister's
supplication; his eyes glanced at him coldly and disdainfully, and were
then fixed gravely on the face of the French general.

"I am not quite done with my reply to your propositions," he said. "I
have told you the reasons why I cannot accept peace. It only remains to
explain why, though the terms were honorable, I could and would not be
allowed to enter into this alliance. By virtue of it I should be obliged
to espouse the cause of France against her enemies, and to wage war
against Russia, my ally. I am to violate the only sure compact remaining
to me in order to become a mere cipher in the hands of Napoleon! I am to
betray him who has been faithful to me! The Emperor of Russia is my
personal friend. At the grave of Frederick the Great I swore with him to
maintain the alliance of both our hearts and our states, and no other
voice induced me to take this step but my inclination, my policy, and my
reason. The Emperor of Russia, true to our mutual oath, renewed his
protestations of friendship in the hour of danger, and his army is ready
to uphold our common cause. If, now that France is offering peace to me
at the expense of Russia, I were to accept it, I should commit a
perfidious act, and, as a Prussian soldier, as a friend of the Emperor
Alexander, I must decidedly reject any idea of such a desertion. A
German keeps his word, and does not trifle with treaties he has sworn
to. German fealty has not yet become an empty sound, and France will be
obliged to admit that she is struggling with an adversary who does not
sell his honor for provinces or for money. Now you know all I had to
communicate. Tell Napoleon that intrigues and slanders cannot separate
me from my alliance with the Emperor of Russia any more than adulation
and advantageous offers. My resolution will remain as firm as a rock.
And now, good-by, general!"

He waved his hand to Bertrand, and received with proud calmness the
respectful bows with which the French general withdrew.

No sooner had the door closed than the queen appeared. Her eyes filled
with tears, and stretching out her arms toward her husband, seemed a
picture of beauty, grace, and love. The king hastened to her and pressed
her firmly against his heart. "Are you satisfied with my answer,
Louisa?" he asked. "Do you know now what I think of those wretched
calumnies?"

The queen bent and kissed his hand. "I thank you, my beloved husband,"
she whispered tenderly. "Wise and kind as you always are, you knew how
to comfort my heart, and by your heroic words to fill my soul with
enthusiasm and delight. My husband and king, you have restored my honor.
I care no longer for the abuse of the world, but shall always think of
this sacred hour, for my king believes in me, and my husband still loves
his Louisa; he knows that the mother of his children is innocent, and
may freely raise her eyes to heaven."

"I know more than that," said the king, laying his hand on his wife's
head, as if blessing her; "I know that in these times of adversity you
are the only hope left me; I know that I derive courage and consolation
from you, and that in my misfortunes I still deem myself fortunate,
because you are by my side--the angel of my life!"

"Ah, Frederick," exclaimed the queen, bursting into tears, "Frederick,
how rich and happy you make me! Am I not an enviable wife, possessed as
I am of such a husband!" In passionate tenderness, she threw her arms
about him, and in loving embrace rested long on his breast.

Some one rapped repeatedly and discreetly at the door. Louisa, blushing,
raised her head and dropped her arms. The king ordered the person to
walk in. It was General von Zastrow who entered, pale and gloomy.
Frederick William smilingly beckoned him to approach.

"You are dissatisfied with me, Zastrow?" he said, in a pleasant tone;
"you believe it would be better to make peace?"

"Your majesty, I am afraid you have rejected an advantageous alliance,
and will, perhaps, be compelled soon to accept by far more rigorous
terms."

"You do not know, then, that large Russian forces are advancing, and
that the Emperor Alexander himself probably leads his troops against the
enemy?"

"Pardon me, sire, but I do not believe in the friendship of Russia. Your
majesty uttered words so generous to-day, that my eyes filled with tears
of admiration, and I felt proud as a man and subject, although my heart
as a general and minister was overwhelmed with sorrow. May Russia
deserve your fidelity! may she not disappoint your hopes, and commit as,
you said, a perfidious act, by entering into an alliance with France at
the expense of Prussia! But may your majesty, above all, get an army
courageous and strong enough to brave all your enemies, and restore the
greatness of Prussia!"

"You do not believe, then, in this army?" asked the king, gloomily.

"Your majesty, in order to organize an army, money--a great deal of
money--is indispensable."

"And you mean to say we have none?"

"Your majesty, not only your privy purse is entirely exhausted, but
there is also no money in the state and district treasuries. Gold and
silver seem to have wholly disappeared; stocks and commercial paper are
depreciating every day, and the bankruptcy of the state will be
inevitable!"

"Ah!" exclaimed the king, indignantly, "do not utter such a word! Never
shall I permit such distress to be inflicted upon my poor subjects!"

He commenced rapidly pacing the room; suddenly, however, he stood still
in front of the queen, who had softly withdrawn into a window-niche,
where she had watched every movement of the king. "Louisa, will your
repasts be as agreeable to you on porcelain plates as on gold and
silver?"

The queen smiled. "The little Princess of Mecklenburg was accustomed to
take her meals off porcelain," she said, "and I honestly confess that
the Queen of Prussia at times envied her her plain white plates."

The king, turning again to his minister, said: "We are not yet so poor
as you seem to believe; our large golden dinner-set, the heirloom of our
ancestors, was safely removed from Berlin, and is now here at Memel. It
embraces pieces of the highest value, for which millions have been paid.
May my ancestors pardon my giving away what they collected! I am not
doing so in a reckless and extravagant manner, but with profound sorrow
and with a mournful heart. But it cannot be helped! General von Zastrow,
I shall issue the necessary orders to have my large golden dinner-set
either sold or pawned. We shall receive at least a million dollars for
it."

"And the privy purse of your majesty stands greatly in need of this
million," said General von Zastrow, drawing a sigh.

The king shrugged his shoulders. "Not a dollar of it shall be paid into
my privy purse," he said. "The money shall be distributed among the
public treasuries, that the lack of funds may be temporarily relieved,
and that my poor suffering subjects need not fear that the state become
bankrupt."

"But if your majesty should carry out this generous resolution,"
exclaimed the general, "you may soon be in danger yourself of
privations."

The king cast a long, inquiring glance on his wife. Louisa smiled and
nodded kindly to him. "If questions of economy and family matters are to
be considered," she said, "a woman may be permitted to say a word in the
council of men, and to give her opinion as a housewife. I think we are
tolerating a great many superfluous and very expensive things in our
private household, and, if my husband does not object, I should like to
ask for a few changes."

"I shall never dare to contradict you," said Frederick, kindly. "Let me,
therefore, know the changes you wish to make."

"In the first place, I think that we have too many servants, considering
our present circumstances, and the small house in which we are living.
As we do not give dinners, the people attached to the kitchen may be
greatly diminished; most of the cooks, as well as the legion of footmen,
may be discharged. It is necessary, too, to reduce the number of
carriages, and to sell most of the horses standing uselessly in the
stable. A plain vehicle, drawn by two good horses, is sufficient for my
children, and whenever I want a ride, I believe my husband will lend me
his yellow travelling-coach."

"Provided you allow me a seat at your side," said the king, smiling.
"Are there any other suggestions you deem necessary?

"I wish the servants surrounding us to appear in a plain dress, and the
expensive liveries, covered with gold and silver lace, to disappear. A
plain black cloth coat, trimmed with white, is sufficient. It is not,
however, to signify that we are in mourning, but only to represent the
Prussian colors, and on looking at them I shall always feel proud and
happy, while now, on beholding the liveries covered with gold and
silver, I cannot suppress my shame, for I think of the distress of our
subjects, and of the misery of our country. Let us begin, therefore, a
plain, unpretending existence, my husband; let us set an example of
simplicity to our people, and show them that one may be contented,
though deprived of the splendors of wealth and position."

The king took her hand and pressed it against his lips. "I consent to
all your wishes, Louisa," he said; "I will issue to-day the necessary
orders to the steward.--You see, general, our privy purse will not lack
money, for we shall realize a handsome sum by the sale of our horses,
carriages, and the gold and silver lace of the liveries. Moreover, the
war will not last forever, and we may, perhaps, look soon for a final
decision."

"Your majesty, war, then, is absolutely unavoidable?"

"You still ask this question? Yes, the war will be continued. I will
hear nothing further about peace."

"In that case," said General von Zastrow, trembling, "I must humbly
request your majesty to accept my resignation; the continuation of the
war, and the rejection of the peace offered to Prussia, are so contrary
to my conviction, that my conscience does not permit me to assist in
carrying out your plans."

"The first duty of every faithful servant is to comply with his master's
orders," said the king, sternly. "I cannot accept your resignation, for
I know that you are an honest servant, and that only your momentary
anger has misled you. I give you, therefore, time to collect your
thoughts and regain your temper. Work and activity are the best remedies
for that purpose, and possibly there may soon be a favorable turn in our
affairs, proving to you that you were wrong, and causing you to change
your mind. Until further orders, therefore, you will remain my minister
of war, but I shall give you an assistant. I shall appoint Hardenberg
minister without portfolio, and give him a seat and vote in the new
ministerial council which I am about to organize."

General von Zastrow started, and his face became paler. "Your majesty,"
he faltered in a low voice, "I--"

"The matter is settled," said the king, calmly. "I do not wish to hear
further objection, general. We shall hold a meeting of the ministerial
council to-morrow, and Hardenberg must be present. Good-by!"

General von Zastrow dared not contradict; he bowed in silence to the
royal couple and tottered to the door.

When he had retired, the queen, turning to her husband, exclaimed, "You
touched his sorest spot. He hates Hardenberg, and it will greatly
torment him to have him at his side."

"He deserved some punishment," said the king, gravely. "For it was
certainly owing to him that you were informed of those infamous
slanders. Who laid the papers before you?"

"The Countess von Truchsess, my reader."

"Zastrow's niece! My supposition was right. It was a deep-laid intrigue,
designed to drive us into the meshes of the peace party, and induce us
to give up the Russian alliance."

"Do not be angry with them," said the queen, "their intentions were
good."

"I know the good intentions of those so-called friends," exclaimed the
king, vehemently, "They drive a dagger slowly into our breast, and when
they see the wound bleeding, they excuse themselves with the pretext
that their intentions were good! But he who has really honest intentions
tries to spare his friend every pain. My 'intentions' were also good
when I concluded to place Hardenberg in company with Zastrow. I do not
like change; but if Zastrow, in the course of a few weeks, should not
accustom himself to the presence of Hardenberg, he must withdraw, and
Hardenberg remain."[31]

[Footnote 31: The united efforts of the peace party, headed by General
Zastrow and Cabinet-counsellor Beyme, did not succeed this time in
keeping Hardenberg out of the cabinet. The king reposed confidence in
him, and when, a few weeks later, the Emperor Alexander paid a visit to
the royal couple at Memel, he distinguished Hardenberg, and ignored
General von Zastrow so completely, that the latter was deeply offended.
His mortification was still augmented by the fact that Hardenberg was
selected to accompany the king to the camp of the united Prussian and
Russian troops. General von Zastrow then sent in his resignation, for
the second time, and it was accepted. Hardenberg became minister of
foreign affairs in his place.]



CHAPTER XXV.

COUNTESS MARY WALEWSKA.


News of the highest importance reached Castle Finkenstein, where
Napoleon had been residing since the battle of Eylau. Dantzic had
fallen. It had been compelled to surrender, with its immense _matériel_
and supplies. In vain had been the heroic defence of the garrison, the
energy of General Kalkreuth, commander of the fortress, the ardor and
courage of the soldiers, the unflagging self-abnegation of the citizens;
in vain, the bloodshed, the mutilated limbs, the destruction of
property! Lefebvre, the French general, had drawn the circle of his
besieging forces closer around the devoted city, and fresh troops poured
into his ranks, while every day the garrison was becoming weaker. Only
the most vigorous succor could have saved Dantzic. General Kalkreuth had
long hoped for it. England, now the ally of Russia and Prussia, had
promised aid, and equipped a sloop-of-war of twenty-two guns, to force
the blockade, convey ammunition into the city, and destroy the
pontoon-bridge of the French; but the sloop stranded, and had to
surrender. The Russians, too, had promised assistance to the city. Seven
thousand embarked at Pillau, and landed at Weichselmünde; but there they
were attacked by Oudinot, who captured nearly one-half, and dispersed
the rest.

The last hopes of Dantzic were gone; there was no relief. Lefebvre
ordered a bombardment, and then sent a flag of truce to General
Kalkreuth, informing him that he would take the city by assault if the
fortress did not surrender. General Kalkreuth gazed mournfully at the
stranded British sloop-of-war, and, pointing it out to his officers, who
surrounded him in gloomy silence, said, "That is the tombstone of
Dantzic!" He then sent for the bearer of the flag of truce, and the
negotiations commenced. In the mean time, shells and red-hot shot were
poured into the city, killing alike the soldiers on the ramparts and the
citizens in their dwellings. Lamentations and shrieks, the roar of
artillery, the uninterrupted peals of the tocsin, calling out the
inhabitants, mingled with the crash of the falling houses, and the wails
of the wounded and dying.

General Kalkreuth pitied the city; he was unwilling to add the horrors
of an assault to the agony it had already undergone. He signed the
capitulation, but claimed for the garrison liberty to march out without
being made prisoners of war, and the surrender of their arms. Lefebvre
granted these conditions, but insisted that the Prussian troops should
not engage to serve against France before the expiration of a year.
General Kalkreuth accepted this clause, and the gates of Dantzic opened
to the French conqueror on the 24th of May, 1807.

The Emperor Napoleon received the news of this great victory at Castle
Finkenstein, not far from Tilsit. His face brightened, and he
immediately sent a courier to Marshal Lefebvre, to invite him to pay him
a visit at the castle. But the joy of the emperor soon disappeared. His
generals, intimate friends, and servants, endeavored to cheer him. They
tried all the arts of eloquence and flattery to dispel his sadness.
Talleyrand attempted to amuse him by reciting, with charming _médisance_
and pointed humor, passages from the rich stores of his memoirs, and by
relating, with Attic wit, the story of his first love, which had
bequeathed to him a lame foot as a remembrancer. Lannes, with the blunt
humor of a true soldier, told stories of his campaigns. Duroc smilingly
reminded the emperor of many an adventure they had had in Paris, when,
in plain gray coats, and hats drawn over their eyes, they had wandered
through the streets of the capital, to ascertain the disposition of the
people, and received many a rebuke on daring to abuse Napoleon. It is
true, the emperor was amused on hearing such anecdotes, but his
momentary laughter revealed more vividly his dark and stormy temper.

To-day the generals resorted to another method also of amusing him. They
proposed cards. He agreed, and they commenced a game of _vingt-et-un_.
Formerly, the emperor, on playing, had always been in excellent spirits,
and did not disdain even to cheat a little, frequently concealing a card
or two. But now he played gravely and honestly, and the consequence was
that he lost. Throwing the cards indignantly aside, and greeting the
marshals with a silent nod, he crossed the room with hasty steps, and
retired to his cabinet.

"He has not yet forgotten the affair of Eylau," grumbled Marshal Lannes.
"It is true, we boasted of our victory there, and ordered a _Te Deum_ to
be sung, but he knows very well how things stood, and feels badly
because the Emperor of Russia also had a _Te Deum_ sung."

"I do not believe, Marshal, that that is the cause of the emperor's
grief," said Talleyrand, shrugging his shoulders. "Napoleon is not in
the habit of mourning for past events, but a failure incites him to
renewed exertions, and inspires his genius to perform fresh and daring
exploits. Although the lion for once may have seen his prey slip from
his grasp, it does not render him dispirited. He only shakes his mane,
and crouches for a new bound."

"Then you believe, M. Minister, that the emperor is planning another
battle?" joyfully asked Lannes.

"I am convinced of it, but do not believe that to be the reason of his
ill-humor. The furrows on his brow express his sorrow for the death of
young Napoleon--his little nephew--the grandson of the empress!"

"Ah, bah!" exclaimed Lannes, "it would really be worth while for a great
chieftain to mourn for a child eight years of age!"

"He does not mourn for the child, but for the successor," said
Talleyrand. "You know, the son of his brother Louis and his stepdaughter
Hortense was to be his heir--the future Emperor of France. You see how
difficult it is to say in advance who is to be the heir of a throne.
Some accident--a brick falling from a roof, an attack of the measles, a
contemptible cough--may bring about the ruin of dynasties and the rise
of new ones. The hopes of Josephine have been buried with young Napoleon
Louis. Poor empress! her downfall is inevitable, for the emperor must
think henceforth of an heir--of a legitimate union. Alas! how many tears
will that cost poor Josephine's heart!"

"I am sure, Prince de Benevento, when you deplore the fate of the
empress, you suggest great sufferings for her. But we know the subtle
diplomacy of the minister who says that language was given for the sole
purpose of concealing our thoughts. Hence, prince, I am in the habit of
believing exactly the reverse of what you say. You are sure to overthrow
Josephine and have already selected her successor. Tell us who is she?
Upon whom do you intend to confer the honor of giving an heir to the
emperor?"

"Let us rather put this question to our taciturn friend Duroc," said
Talleyrand, softly laying his hand on the shoulder of the grand marshal,
who was standing in front of them with folded arms. "Please take notice
that the grand marshal has not added a single word to our
conversation--that he has listened calmly to our suppositions about the
emperor's melancholy, and has not assisted us in ferreting out the
truth. It is evident, therefore, that he is aware of it, and that it
does not affect him painfully. Pray tell us, grand marshal, who is
right--the Duke de Montebello or myself?"

"Perhaps, prince, both of you are mistaken," said Duroc, "and perhaps,
again, both of you are right. Who is able to fathom the thoughts and
secrets--but I believe the emperor is calling me!" And he approached the
door of the imperial cabinet and listened.

"Duroc!" cried the emperor, "Duroc!"

The grand marshal took leave of the two gentlemen with a careless bow
and hastened away. Napoleon sat on an easy-chair at the open window,
supporting his head on his hand, and gazing out on the landscape. He
seemed to have entirely forgotten that he had called the grand marshal,
and did not even notice the latter after he had entered. An air of
profound sadness was depicted in his features.

"Your majesty called me," said Duroc, approaching.

Napoleon started and turned his head slowly toward the grand marshal.
"It is true," he said, "I called you, Duroc. I was ungracious, and left
you without saying a kind word to you. I am sorry. You may repeat my
words to the other two princes." He gave his small white hand to Duroc,
who pressed it against his breast with an expression of tenderness. "I
thank your majesty for this fresh proof of your magnanimity," he said,
"and shall communicate it to the other two princes."

He was about to withdraw, but the emperor detained him. "Tell me, first,
Duroc, whether they were very angry with me? Did old Lannes grumble? Did
Talleyrand comment in his usual manner?"

"Oh, sire!" exclaimed Duroc, reproachfully, "all three of us were filled
only with grief; we were considering what might be the cause of your
majesty's melancholy."

"Well, and what did you guess? and what Lannes?"

"He believed your majesty was striving to crown the battle of Eylau with
a brilliant victory, and that you were planning a new battle."

"He is right," exclaimed Napoleon, energetically. "We are not yet at the
end of our struggle, and the brave men who were buried under the snow of
Eylau must be avenged. I shall soon bid the sun of Austerlitz and Jena
shine on the plains of Prussia, and dazzle the eyes of the Emperor of
Russia. I will bring him to his knees and make him cry '_Pater
peccavi_!' I will show him what it is to menace me; and when I unfurl my
banner on the Kremlin of Moscow, Alexander shall bear the train of my
purple cloak. The world belongs to me! Woe unto him who stands in my
way--I will crush him as the elephant crushes the worm! Lannes is right;
I am planning a new battle. But it is not this that makes me sad. What
did Talleyrand say--Talleyrand, Prince de Benevento, with the keen nose
and the impenetrable smile?"

"Talleyrand said it was not the planning of future battles, but that you
were mourning for the little son of the King of Holland."

"Ah, indeed, Talleyrand is not altogether mistaken," exclaimed Napoleon,
heaving a sigh; "my heart is mourning for young Napoleon. He was my
darling, and I had accustomed myself to regard him as my heir. He was
blood of my blood, and there was something shining in his eyes that
seemed to me to be a beam of my own mind. I loved the boy. And now--what
did Talleyrand say besides, Duroc?" asked Napoleon, interrupting
himself. "You are silent. Be frank; I want to know it all!"

"Sire," said Duroc, timidly, "the Prince de Benevento lamented the fate
of the empress, for he believes the death of little Prince Napoleon
Louis to be a mournful--nay, a fatal event for her, inasmuch as your
majesty would now be under the necessity of having a successor to the
noble and adored Empress Josephine, and an heir-apparent to your
empire."

"And he was impudent enough to lament her fate!" exclaimed Napoleon, "he
who has striven for years to overthrow her--he who always united with my
family to prove to me the right of disowning her. Ah, poor dear
Josephine! I ought never to have thought of listening to their
insinuations; I was hitherto her most faithful defender, for I love her,
and know that she is a sincere friend."

"An empress, sire," said Duroc, "who would be an ornament to any throne,
and whose grace, amiability, and kind-heartedness, have won as many
subjects for your majesty as your battles. Sire, all France loves and
worships the Empress Josephine; all France would weep with her if her
enemies succeed in removing her from her throne, and from the side of
her adored husband, and the tears and imprecations of a whole people
would be the festive welcome with which France would receive a new
empress!"

"You paint in very glaring colors," exclaimed Napoleon, gloomily, "but,
then, I know you to be one of Josephine's admirers. She is really a good
wife, and I never had room for complaint. But for one consideration, I
should never think of separating from her. Fate is against her, and I am
afraid it will compel me--ah, let us not dare to pry into the future.
Let us rather attend to the present. You have told me the suppositions
of Lannes and Talleyrand, but not your own. What did you say?" He looked
at Duroc with his eagle eyes, and repeated, "What did you say?"

"Sire," replied Duroc, "I said nothing."

"You said nothing, because you know what ails me," said Napoleon,
vehemently, "because you can fathom the pain, the anger, and grief of my
heart!"

He rose from his easy-chair, and paced the room, with his arms behind
him. "Duroc," he said, after a long pause, and in a husky, tremulous
voice, "is it not a disgrace that this should happen? The world is
bowing to me, and recognizing me as its master, and a woman dares resist
me--a fair, delicate little creature that I could crush, as it were, in
my hands--that an angry breath from my mouth could destroy as a lily in
the blast of the desert. Duroc, she dares resist me, and opposes a cold,
stubborn silence to my request--nay, to my fervent supplications!"

"Sire, she is married," said Duroc, timidly, "she is married, and--"

"She is married to a husband whom she does not--cannot love," exclaimed
Napoleon, impetuously. "He is a white-haired old man--a man of sixty
years, to whom her parents have sold her!"

"But her husband is said to love his beautiful wife passionately."

"Let him dare molest her with his love," exclaimed Napoleon, menacingly;
"let him touch only with the tip of his finger this flower that I myself
would have! She has not deserved the sorry fate of withering at the side
of a decrepit old man; she serves to bloom at the heart of an emperor!
Oh, how beautiful she is! When I saw her, for the first time, at the
ball in Warsaw, I fell in love with her, and felt that I must possess
her. Her light-colored hair was shining about her noble head like a
halo; heaven seemed to be reflected in her azure eyes, and the tinge of
melancholy shading her face rendered her still more charming and
seductive. She was an innocent victim of the selfishness of others; I
perceived it at a glance, and have loved her ever since. I took a secret
oath to rescue her from her misery, and, by my love, to restore
happiness to her! And yet she disdains me, Duroc!"

"No, sire, she does not disdain the exalted lover whom she worships; she
is not, however, a flirt, but a virtuous wife. She will not prove
faithless to her husband; she will not break the vows she took upon
herself at the altar. She is engaged in a terrible struggle between duty
and love, for your majesty knows very well that Madame de Walewska loves
you!"

"No, no, she does not love me," exclaimed Napoleon, vehemently. "If she
really loved me, she would listen to no other voice than mine! I
supplicated her with the whole strength of my affection--with all the
anger of a spurned admirer, with all the humility of a doting lover, but
neither my anger nor my supplications were able to move her. And yet she
asserts that she loves me; she dares to say that she shares my passion!
Oh, she is a cold-hearted, cruel coquette; it gladdens her to behold my
sufferings, and to play with my heart!"

"Sire, you are unjust," exclaimed Duroc. "Madame de Walewska is an angel
of virtue and purity; she would joyfully sacrifice her life to save
your majesty a sigh!"

"But she is unwilling to sacrifice to me this chimera of virtue,"
exclaimed Napoleon, "although she has already disregarded it by loving
me. She is not courageous enough to give up the semblance after having
already parted with the substance. Like all women she is timid, and
incapable of a great resolution! How many letters have I not written to
her since I last saw her! After the battle of Eylau--like a miserable
adventurer--a knight-errant--I went in disguise to the village where she
had at length promised to meet me at her brother's house. What a
wretched rendezvous it was! Nothing but a farewell scene! She desires to
go into a convent, and give her heart to God, because she is not allowed
to give it to me. I am no Abélard, however, and do not want her to
become a Héloïse! If she goes into a convent, I shall have its walls
torn down, and the order she has joined abolished."

"But she will not go into a convent, sire; love will at last triumph
over her virtue, and she will finally declare herself vanquished. She
promised your majesty to defer the execution of her purpose for a year,
but, I am sure, she will not be strong enough to close her heart so long
against the passionate entreaties of a lover whom she adores. The
letters which your majesty writes to her, and which she does not refuse
to accept, are like hot shells thrown into the fortress of her heart.
They do a great deal of mischief."

"Forsooth, it is a consolation that she does not refuse my notes. I have
sent them almost every day during two months; every week I send a
courier who meets her when, escaping from the Argus-eyes of her husband,
she goes to the cathedral. But I receive only laconic replies. This
woman is either incapable of genuine love, or she is a demon who
delights in torturing me."

"Sire, does it please your majesty to partake of this fruit?" said a
gentle voice behind him.

The emperor started. Absorbed in his passion--filled with the idea now
agitating his soul, he had not heard the door of the cabinet softly
open, and was unaware that one of the imperial pages, holding a golden
fruit-plate, had entered. Duroc also had not noticed that he was present
while the emperor was still speaking, and that he must have overheard
the last words of his majesty. The page leaned, pale and exhausted,
against the wall near the door, and the golden plate was trembling in
his hands.

Napoleon cast a glowing glance on him, and rushing toward him, snatched
the plate and threw it on the floor. As the peaches rolled across the
room, he seized the page's arms, and drew him toward the window. "Who
are you?" he asked, scarcely able to master his emotion. "Who are you?
Speak, that I may hear your voice!"

The page looked in his face, aglow with anger, and his large blue eyes
filled with tears. "I am a demon who delights in torturing you," he said
in a low voice.

Napoleon did not utter a word. He tore the velvet cap from the page's
head, and when his long silken hair fell on his shoulders in heavy
masses, a smile of unutterable bliss overspread the emperor's face. He
seized the fair ringlets with his hands and kissed them; he laid them on
his own head, and they covered his face like a golden veil. He then
shook them off with a merry laugh, and encircled the page so violently
in his arms, that he uttered a cry. "Mary, Mary," he exclaimed
passionately, "you are in my arms at last--you are here! Duroc, just
look at this wonderful page. Come here, and look at the angel I
slandered just now!"

But Duroc did not appear. He preferred to move quietly out of the room
and to lock the door after him. Napoleon, therefore, was alone with his
mistress, and thanked Duroc in his heart for this discretion. He clasped
the weeping and blushing lady in his arms, and tried with gentle force
to remove her hands, in which she had buried her face. "Mary," he asked,
in a tone of suppliant tenderness, "Mary, you weep, and yet you say you
love me?"

"Yes, I do love you," she exclaimed, sinking on her knees. "I love you
intensely! Ah, have mercy on me! Do not condemn me because I come hither
in spite of my conscience and my honor! Napoleon, I have no longer any
thing on earth but you! I have no longer a country, a family, a name! I
gave up every thing for you--my life, my honor, my happiness, are yours!
Remember it, and do not despise me!"

He raised her from her knees and pressed a kiss on her quivering lips.
"Mary," he said, "this kiss shall have the same effect upon you as of
old the gift of knighthood had on the warrior--it will impart to you a
higher and more sacred life, and confer the highest honor on you!
Henceforth you are mine, and shall be as immortal as myself; and when
posterity mentions the name of the Emperor Napoleon, it shall at the
same time remember his beautiful mistress, and repeat the name of Mary
Walewska together with that of Josephine!"

"Oh," murmured Mary, "you mention the noble and generous Empress
Josephine, whom I worship, and against whom I am committing a crime! May
fate enable me to atone for my guilt one day by sacrificing my life for
you, and proving to you and to the world that I loved you truly and
faithfully."

"No, you shall live--live for me," said Napoleon, ardently; "do not
complain any more, Mary; dry your beautiful eyes. Come, sit down with me
and tell me how it happened that you conquered your heart, and why I see
you in this disguise?" He drew her to the divan and wound his arm around
her waist. She laid her head on his shoulder, and gazed up to him with
dreamy eyes.

"How it happened?" she asked. "I cannot find words to tell you. I
reenacted the part of Penelope. Every night I tried to fasten a coat of
mail around my heart--to protect it as with a net-work of virtue and
duty. But your letters were the wooers that destroyed in the day the
resolutions of the night. Your complaints rent my heart; your reproaches
tortured my soul. I felt at last that I was irretrievably lost--that I
loved you boundlessly, and that I was anxious to prove it to you. But my
husband watched me with lynx-eyed vigilance; he was constantly at my
side, now threatening, in the fury of his jealousy, to assassinate me
should I leave him, and now imploring me with tearful eyes to spare his
honor and pity his love. I felt that I would have either to die, or
renounce my married life, and enter upon a new existence--an existence
of true happiness if you love me, but of suffering and self-reproach if
you despise, me!"

"I love you," said Napoleon, with a proud and confident air. "Proceed."

"I have finished," she said. "My trusty lady's maid prepared every thing
for my escape, and four days ago, when my husband believed me at church,
I and my maid entered a travelling-coach and continued our journey day
and night until we arrived at Castle Finkenstein."

"And this disguise?" asked Napoleon, pointing at the costume she was
wearing.

Mary blushed and smiled. "I had it made by a tailor at Warsaw, who
prepared the suits the imperial pages wore at that ball. I had not
sufficient courage to enter this castle as a lady, only men living in it
at the present time. I desired to enter your room without recognition or
insult. I left my carriage at the neighboring village, and walked hither
on foot. At the castle-gate, I inquired for Constant, your _valet de
chambre_, and requested the servants to call him. I confided my secret
to him, and he conducted me to this room. And thus, my beloved friend, I
am here; I am lying at your feet, and imploring you to kill me if you do
not love me, for I cannot live without your love!" She glided from the
divan to the floor, and looked up to the emperor with clasped hands and
imploring eyes.

Napoleon bent over her and drew her smilingly into his arms. "You shall
live," he said, "for I love you and pledge you my imperial word that I
will never desert you!"



CHAPTER XXVI.

THE DANTZIC CHOCOLATE.


On the following day the emperor's face did not retain a trace of the
gloom which had filled his marshals with so much uneasiness. His
features were radiant with happiness, and a strange fire was burning in
his dark-blue eyes. He ordered his guard to be drawn up in line in the
castle-yard, and to the delight of the soldiers it was announced that
Napoleon himself would command at the parade. Loud cheers and the
constantly-repeated shout of "_Vive l'empereur_!" received him when,
surrounded by his marshals, and with a smiling face, he walked down the
broad steps of the palace.

"These soldiers are foolish children," said he, turning to Marshal
Lannes. "Why are they cheering incessantly, as if they had not seen me
for a year? Have I not been among them every day?"

"No, sire," said the marshal, who had regained his former good-humor and
merry face, "no, sire; those brave boys really have not seen your
majesty for a long while, and they are perfectly right to manifest their
joy. The great Napoleon, whose face was our sun in so many battles and
in so many countries, and whose smile, when we were hungry and thirsty,
often satisfied our hunger and quenched our thirst, really was not here.
In his place we have had during the last few weeks a grave and taciturn
emperor, whom every one feared."

Napoleon laughed. "Were you also afraid, my old comrade?" he asked.

"I cannot say that I was," said Lannes, gayly, "but, nevertheless, I
feel to-day as though a heavy burden had been removed from my heart. I
can breathe more freely, inasmuch as I have back my excellent Napoleon
in place of that morose emperor. The sun has risen once more for all of
us!"

"Was I really as you pretend?" asked Napoleon, who was always delighted
at the unceremonious words of his old comrade, and who permitted to
Lannes that bluntness which he would not have tolerated in another.

The marshal bent closer to the emperor's ear. "Sire, your majesty will
permit me to tell you that you were shockingly morose and surly. We were
beginning to feel anxious and weary. But it is all over now, and when I
look at you to-day my heart is as glad as that of a lover who sees his
sweetheart after a long separation. I should like to know what miracle
has happened since yesterday, and what magician has arrived to dispel
your discontent. I should be exceedingly grateful to your majesty if you
would show him to me!"

"What an inquisitive fellow!" said the emperor, turning his eyes
involuntarily to the window of the castle. He nodded almost
imperceptibly, and laid his hand on his heart for a moment. The
marshal's eyes had followed the glances of his master, and he beheld a
strange object at one of the windows of the emperor's rooms. The curtain
was cautiously drawn aside, and the beautiful head of a young lady was
seen behind it.

"_Mort de ma vie_!" ejaculated Lannes, loudly and impetuously.

"Well, what is the matter?" asked Napoleon, turning hastily to him.

Lannes was still staring up at the window; but the charming person had
already disappeared, and the curtains were closed again.

"Sire," faltered Lannes, in confusion, "sire, I believe I myself am
bewitched; I beheld an apparition just now."

"Did your good wife appear to you?" asked Napoleon, laughing.

"Would she were such a fair-haired angel!" exclaimed Lannes, heaving a
sigh. "But in that case, sire, I should very earnestly oppose her
appearance at the windows of the imperial rooms--"

"Hush, you old babbler!" said Napoleon, laughing; "is it necessary,
then, to confess every thing one has dreamed?" And, as he liked to do
when in good-humor, he pulled the marshal's ear so violently that Lannes
made a very wry face.

The emperor turned with a grave bearing to his soldiers, and the parade
commenced. After it was over, he repaired to the castle, to work with
his adjutant-general in his cabinet. Before doing so, however, he said
to Marshal Lannes: "I wish you to dine with me to-day, and to-night I
will play a game of _vingt-et-un_ with you, Talleyrand, and Duroc; I
must get even with you for yesterday. Do not forget, marshal--we shall
dine together to-day!"

"Sire," said Lannes, joyfully, "were you to place a dish of the boiled
ears of the Russians before me, I would eat them with great relish if
you look at me as kindly as you are doing now!"

Napoleon laughed and ascended the palace staircase. An hour later a
dusty carriage rolled into the yard of Castle Finkenstein. It was
Marshal Lefebvre, who, agreeably to the emperor's invitation, had
arrived. The marshal felt somewhat embarrassed and anxious. This order
of Napoleon to set out immediately on receipt of the dispatch, and
repair to his headquarters at Finkenstein, had filled the conqueror of
Dantzic with some apprehension, lest the emperor had summoned him to
rebuke him for having granted such honorable terms to the Prussian
garrison, and for permitting them to march out with their arms, instead
of making them prisoners of war. The marshal therefore entered the
anteroom with a face somewhat pale, and requested the officer in waiting
to announce him.

"His majesty is at work in his cabinet," said the officer. "On such
occasions no one is permitted to disturb him, unless he be a bearer of
important dispatches."

"The emperor ordered me to report to him immediately on my arrival. Go,
therefore, and announce me." The officer obeyed hesitatingly.

Napoleon was seated at a desk covered with maps and papers. Pointing at
a map spread out on the table, he was just turning eagerly to his
adjutant-general, Marshal Berthier. "Here--this is the point whither we
have to drive the Russians; and there, on the banks of the Alle, they
shall fearfully atone for the battle of Eylau. Well," he said, turning
to the officer who had just entered, "what do you want?"

"Sire, Marshal Lefebvre asks your majesty to grant him an audience. He
says your majesty summoned him here from Dantzic."

"He is right," said Napoleon, "and I am glad that the duke does not keep
me in waiting. Tell the Duke of Dantzic that he is to dine with me."

"Sire," said the officer, "it is not a Duke of Dantzic, but Marshal
Lefebvre, who applies for an audience."

The emperor darted one of his withering glances at him. "It seems, sir,"
he said gravely, "that you deem me incapable of creating a duke. Go," he
added, "and inform the duke of my invitation. In fifteen minutes we
shall dine."

The officer returned to the anteroom. "Well?" asked Lefebvre, quickly.
"Does the emperor await me? May I enter?"

"Duke, his majesty invites you to dine with him, and requests you to
wait only fifteen minutes."

Lefebvre, in his confusion, had not heard the title by which he was
addressed. His mind was absorbed in the single thought whether or not
the emperor was angry with him. He wished these fifteen minutes to pass
quickly, and yet his heart trembled at what might be in store for him.
Precisely at the time appointed Grand Marshal Duroc entered to conduct
Marshal Lefebvre to the dining-room. Lefebvre followed in silence. The
heart of the brave soldier beat more violently than it had ever done in
the battle-field.

The emperor had already taken his seat when Duroc and Lefebvre entered.
Near him, behind their chairs, stood Marshal Lannes, the Prince de
Benevento, and Marshal Berthier. Napoleon greeted Lefebvre with a
friendly wave of his hand. "Welcome, duke," he exclaimed, "sit down here
at my side!"

Lefebvre advanced and took the seat his majesty designated. The others
sat down also. Dinner commenced: Napoleon ate his soup in silence, as he
always did. Fixing his eyes with a smiling expression on a large pie, in
the shape of a fortress, that was standing before him, "Do you recognize
this, Duke of Dantzic?" he asked.

Lefebvre heard the ducal title this time, and looked bewildered at the
emperor, whose anger he still feared. "Did your majesty speak to me?" he
asked, bashfully.

"To be sure; did I not address you with the title of Duke of Dantzic?"
replied Napoleon, laughing. "Well, tell me, now, do you know the
fortress which this pie is intended to represent?"

"I believe," said the new duke, "the fortress of Dantzic."

"See, gentlemen, how familiar the duke is with his dear Dantzic,"
exclaimed Napoleon. "It is true, he ought to know it, for he had to take
extraordinary pains to reduce it. Now let us eat little Dantzic as
Lefebvre ate big Dantzic a few days ago."

The steward took the pie and presented it to the emperor. "Oh, no," said
Napoleon, with a pleasant smile; "Duke of Dantzic, it behooves you to
carve it, for it is your conquest."

Lefebvre's face beamed with joy, and he thanked the emperor with a
grateful look. "Sire," he said, almost solemnly, plunging his knife into
the pie, "I should like to be commissioned soon by your majesty to take
another fortress. I should then remember this hour, and take it by
assault or die!"

"Ah, you will not die so soon," exclaimed Napoleon; "let us take this
fortress by assault. The Duke of Dantzic having opened the first breach,
we will boldly follow." Turning to Lefebvre: "Do you like to eat
chocolate, duke?" he asked.

Lefebvre looked at him, amazed at the strange question. "I do not know,"
he faltered, "I believe I like it."

"Well, then, I will give you a pound of Dantzic chocolate," said the
emperor, smiling, "for as you took that city it is but equitable that
you should receive a little souvenir of it. Roustan, bring me the small
package lying on my desk."

Roustan, who at dinner always stood behind the emperor's chair, soon
returned with a small oblong package. Napoleon took it, and, handing it
to Lefebvre, said, "Take this, duke--small gifts keep up friendly
feelings."

Lefebvre took the package, and, warmly thanking the emperor, put it into
his pocket. A few minutes afterward Napoleon rose from the table.

"Sire," said Marshal Lannes, approaching him, "your majesty, perhaps,
does not know all my failings. You are not aware that I am very
inquisitive, and withal very fond of sweet things. Now I am anxious to
know whether Dantzic chocolate is as good as Paris chocolate--I should
like to taste it. Will not your majesty be so kind as to order the Duke
of Dantzic to open his package of chocolate and let us taste it?"

Napoleon laughed. "Why, I cannot order him to give away what I have just
given him," he said. "But a glance at the outside may show you whether
it is good or not. If he will open it and let you see it, I have no
objection."

The duke took the package from his pocket; he himself was desirous to
discover what it contained; Lannes, Duroc, Talleyrand, and Berthier,
surrounded him. The emperor stood at some distance, and looked smilingly
at the group. Lefebvre broke the string and unfolded the wrapper. It
contained nothing but a number of small printed papers; but these were
valuable, being bank-notes to the amount of a hundred thousand dollars.
Lefebvre, overjoyed, looked at the emperor. Duroc and Talleyrand smiled
also, but Lannes exclaimed in a loud voice, "Forsooth, I should also
like to have a pound of this Dantzic chocolate![32] Sire, is there not
somewhere another Prussian fortress manufacturing such an excellent
article? Send me thither, and, I pledge you my word, I shall get my
chocolate!"

[Footnote 32: This scene is strictly historical. The army knew in what
manner the emperor had rewarded Marshal Lefebvre, and it became a
cant-phrase for soldiers who wished to borrow money of their comrades:
"Have you any Dantzic chocolate?"]

Napoleon shrugged his shoulders. "No," he said, "there are really no
Prussian fortresses that we can take; all are in our hands; only Colberg
and Graudenz are holding out, and who knows how soon they will
surrender? You will have no chance to obtain your chocolate in Prussia,
Lannes, but I will give you and all my marshals an opportunity, I hope,
on the battle-field."

"Ah," they exclaimed in joyful chorus, "then there will be a battle
soon?"

"Yes," said Napoleon, gravely. "Let the fall of Dantzic be only a signal
of fresh victories for us! The time of inaction is past. Let us invite
the Emperor of Russia to a war-dance on the territory of his ally the
King of Prussia. Possibly, the beautiful queen may take part in it, for
she is said to be a fine dancer, and to have delighted the young
officers of the guard at the balls given in the palace of Berlin. She
is, moreover, a heroine, who, when her king had an army, witnessed the
parade of the troops in the costume of an Amazon. I am, indeed,
inquisitive, like Marshal Lannes--not, however, as to the quality of
the chocolate, but as to this queen, who is said to be the most
beautiful and amiable woman of all Germany. I am desirous to find out
whether the rumor is true, and to see her face to face. But in order to
do so a battle--a victory is necessary. Afterward I shall invite her to
meet me, and I suppose she will bow to the conqueror of her country,
notwithstanding her pride, and accept the invitation. Ah, she shall
accustom herself to recognize me, whom she calls a usurper, as emperor,
and peer of other sovereigns. Gentlemen, I count on your active
co-operation. You, marshals, and my brave army, are to be the
_postillions d'amour_, to conquer for me an interview with the beautiful
queen! You are to wake up the Russians from their winter sleep, and
bring them our morning greeting with cannon! All the preparations are
completed. The Confederation of the Rhine, Italy, Spain, and France,
have furnished us with troops, and we have now two hundred thousand
enthusiastic and invincible soldiers, while Russia and Prussia together
are scarcely possessed of half as many. They are, moreover, exhausted
and demoralized. Let us renew the struggle; and when I say struggle, it
means _victory_!"



BOOK III.



CHAPTER XXVII.

TILSIT.--NAPOLEON AND ALEXANDER.


A cry of dismay resounded in the camp of the Prussians and Russians--of
exultation in that of the French. Another battle had been fought, and
Napoleon had won a brilliant victory. On the 14th of June, 1807, a
decisive action had taken place between the French and the united
army--the battle of Friedland had gained Napoleon a new laurel-wreath,
and brought an overwhelming defeat upon unhappy Prussia. The Russians,
enraged at the loss of the battle, furiously denounced Prussia, for the
sake of which Russia had been involved in this war; they asked the
Emperor Alexander to put an end to the disastrous and self-sacrificing
war by making peace with France.

The same measure was urged by the adherents of the French party in the
camp and in the suite of King Frederick William. They asserted that
only unconditional submission, however humiliating it might be, could
save what was still to be saved; that the king ought to throw himself at
the feet of the victor of Friedland and implore him to restore his
crown. Such was the advice of the discouraged and despairing--of those
who always had regarded the war against France as a fatal mistake, and
who now, amidst the general consternation, were overjoyed that their
predictions had been fulfilled.

"Peace! peace with France!" was the cry resounding in the ears of the
Emperor Alexander and of King Frederick William. Alexander promised that
he would comply with the request. Frederick William listened to it in
sullen silence. The queen, who had remained at Memel, and was no longer
with her husband, veiled her head and wept.

But Napoleon triumphantly thanked his army for this new and decisive
victory.

"Soldiers," he said, "we are victorious. On the 5th of June we were
attacked in our cantonments by the Russian army. The enemy had mistaken
our inactivity. He perceived too late that our repose was that of the
lion: he repents of having disturbed it. In the battles of Guttstadt and
Heilsberg, and in that ever-memorable one of Friedland, in a campaign of
ten days, we have taken one hundred and twenty pieces of cannon, and
seven colors. The killed, wounded, or made prisoners, are sixty thousand
Russians. We have taken all the magazines, hospitals, ambulances, the
fortress of Königsberg, the three hundred vessels which were in that
port, laden with military stores, and one hundred and sixty thousand
muskets, which England had sent to arm our enemies.

"From the Vistula to the Niemen we have come with the flight of the
eagle. You celebrated at Austerlitz the anniversary of the coronation;
this year, you celebrate that of the battle of Marengo, which put an end
to the war of the second coalition.

"Frenchmen, you have been worthy of yourselves and of me. You will
return to France crowned with laurels, and, after obtaining a glorious
peace, which carries with it the guaranty of its duration, it is high
time for our country to repose, protected from the malignant influence
of England. My bounties shall prove to you my gratitude, and the extent
of the love I feel for you."

Napoleon thus promised peace to his army, while thanking it for the new
victory. And he had a right to do so, for peace and its conditions were
now in his grasp. Alexander and Frederick William felt this, and hence
they were under the necessity of making advances to the conqueror; they
were obliged to sacrifice their pride and to conciliate their powerful
enemy. Frederick William was still hesitating. The tears of his wife,
the prayers and remonstrances of Hardenberg restrained him; he was
unwilling to listen to the urgent appeals of Generals von Köckeritz and
Zastrow, and of Field-Marshal von Kalkreuth, who, now that Dantzic had
fallen, believed unconditional submission to be the only means of
safety.

Alexander determined first on taking a decisive step. On the 24th of
June he sent Prince Labanoff to the victor of Friedland, and expressed
his desire for an interview with him. Napoleon complied with this
request, and sent Grand-Marshal Duroc to the Emperor Alexander to inform
him that he would meet him on the following day, the 25th of June, at
noon. But the two emperors did not wish to see each other on a soil red
with the blood of their soldiers, nor were the peace negotiations to be
held on a territory hostile to the Emperor of the French. A river, whose
waves buried in their depths the reminiscences of the past, was to be
the neutral place of their meeting.

It was a clear midsummer-day; the earth was clad in the freshest
verdure; not a cloud floated in the sky; not a breath of wind stirred
the air, or ruffled the limpid waters of the Niemen. The river was
silent, as though it was conscious of its importance, and felt that a
great historical event was to take place on its tranquil surface. A
large raft was moored by General Lariboissière, of the artillery,
equidistant from and within sight of both banks. A pavilion was
constructed with all the rich stuffs to be procured in the little town
of Tilsit, for the reception of the two monarchs. This gorgeous pavilion
seemed a palace descended from some fairy realm, and thousands of
spectators gazed at it in surprise.

The two armies were ranged along the Niemen, their arms and uniforms
flashing in the sun. On one bank were the lifeguards of Alexander, with
their bearded faces and savage features; on the other, the guards of
Napoleon, with their scarred faces, telling the story of many a victory.
In the rear of the soldiers were thousands more, who had hastened to the
banks of the Niemen to witness the interview of the two emperors.
Shouts, laughter, and songs, resounded on both sides; the air was filled
with a humming sound as from two immense swarms of bees. At times,
greetings were sent across the river in a language mutually
unintelligible. Suddenly, all this noise died away; the guards on both
sides presented arms; the drums were beaten, and the bands played the
national hymns of Russia and France. Amidst these jubilant notes the two
emperors with their brilliant suites approached.

That small, vigorous man, whose delicate hand is holding firmly the
bridle of his spirited white charger--he with the pale face and
expansive forehead, crowned with light-brown hair; with impenetrable
features, a cold, compressed mouth, and large, gloomy eyes--that man is
Napoleon, Emperor of the French. Duroc, Berthier, Bessières, and
Caulaincourt, form his suite, and follow him at a full gallop to the
bank of the river.

That slender young man on the richly caparisoned black horse--that tall
figure with smiling and handsome face, full of vigor, health, and
vivacity--with soft, restless features; blue eyes radiant with
enthusiasm, and crimson lips--is Alexander, Emperor of Russia. The
Grand-duke Constantine, Generals Benningsen and Ouwaroff, Prince
Labanoff, and Count Lieven, accompany him.

The two emperors dismount at the same time, and embark with their suites
in the gondolas that are to convey them to the pavilion. The oarsmen
keep time with their oars and the boats approach each other, reaching
simultaneously the two staircases leading from the platform to the
water. The two monarchs disembark at the same moment. Alexander and
Napoleon stand face to face. For a moment they look at each other with
inquiring glances, and then embrace in the most cordial manner.

This testimony of a frank reconciliation excited vehement applause among
the spectators who lined the river; the French as well as the Russians
stretched out their arms toward their newly-won friends on the other
bank. "Peace!" shouted thousands. "Hail, ye friends and brethren! our
enmity is over; our emperors have affectionately embraced each other,
and like them their subjects will meet in love and peace! No more
shedding of blood! Peace! peace!" The music joined with the exultant
cries of the two nations, and the emperors stepped, keeping time with
the bands, through the doors leading into the pavilion. They were alone.
Only the eye of God could behold them. For a few moments they stood face
to face, silent, and undecided which of them was to speak first, while
the echoes of the music penetrated the heavily-curtained walls of the
pavilion. Each of them seemed to be anxious to read the thoughts of the
other in his face, and to look into the depths of his soul.

Napoleon's sonorous voice was the first to break the silence. "Why are
we at war?" he asked with an inimitable smile, offering his hand to
Alexander.

"It is true," exclaimed Alexander, as if awaking from a dream; "why are
we at war? If your grudge is against England, and against her alone--if
your majesty hates me only because I am the friend of that country, I
can sever the alliance, and we shall easily agree, for I have as much
reason to complain of her as you have, and shall readily support you in
every thing your majesty may decide upon undertaking against her."

"In that case," said Napoleon, quickly, "everything can be arranged, and
peace is a matter of certainty. England alone stood between
us--perfidious, egotistic England, that is always interested only for
herself, and is ready at any time to sacrifice her faithful and generous
allies!"

"I have allowed England to deceive me a long while," exclaimed
Alexander, vehemently; "for I once regarded that nation of traders as a
nation of men, heroes, and profound diplomatists. But I was terribly
undeceived. Those selfish shop-keepers amused me with fair but false
promises; they care neither for my welfare nor for that of Europe, but
only for their commerce. The egotism of Great Britain is equalled only
by her narrow-minded avarice. I asked the British cabinet to guarantee a
Russian loan, and they were impudent enough to refuse me, although they
knew very well that I wished to negotiate it for the sole purpose of
equipping an army, with which I intended to take the field more in the
interest of England and Prussia, than in that of Russia. Faithful to my
word, and to the treaties I had concluded, I nevertheless equipped my
army and marched it into the field in order to join them. But where were
my allies? Prussia could not add to my forces a single army, but a few
corps, utterly demoralized by their misfortunes, and the assistance
promised by England came so late that it failed in saving Dantzic. The
English had taken their own time in appearing before that fortress; they
had other matters to attend to in the Baltic; they had to make money by
hunting up the merchant-vessels of other nations, and, in their
brutality and avarice, they did not shrink from laying their rapacious
hands even upon Russian ships! But while the English were taking unarmed
vessels, and calculating their profits, and the Prussians were bewailing
their misfortunes and dressing their wounds, I alone had to wage war and
ingloriously to shed the blood of my poor soldiers for a cause that was
hardly the cause of Russia. Ah, sire, I shall never forgive England for
deserting me in the hour of danger, and for basely deceiving me by false
promises!"

While Alexander was speaking, Napoleon had steadfastly fixed his eyes
on him; he had looked through the restless, quivering face of the
youthful emperor, into the recesses of his heart; and while Alexander,
wholly absorbed in his wrongs, and alternately blushing and turning pale
with indignation and grief, was uttering his reproaches, Napoleon said
to himself, "Two sentiments of the speaker are predominant, and ought,
therefore, to be flattered: spleen against allies, burdensome like
Prussia, or selfish like England; and a very sensitive and deeply
mortified pride. I must profit by them."

As soon as Alexander paused, Napoleon said in a mournful voice: "Your
allies have taken advantage of your magnanimity, sire! They knew very
well that the heir of Peter the Great was also the heir of his fiery
spirit, and that it was only necessary to talk of a field of battle, and
let him hear a warlike flourish, to make him draw the sword. Ah, sire,
why was I not so fortunate as to be at your side? Why did we not take
the field together! What heroic deeds would you have already performed!
What laurels would not now adorn a head designed by Providence to wear
them! It was your majesty's misfortune that you were united with allies
who duped you for their own purposes--they were a king without a country
and without soldiers, and a nation composed of greedy traders and
stock-brokers, calculating whether glory would be profitable to them in
pounds, shillings, and pence; and whether stocks would not fall if they
fulfilled their engagements. Your majesty alone displayed nobleness,
energy, and courage, in this triumvirate; but your friends were unworthy
of your honorable conduct. Your majesty's mistake is to be solely
attributed to generous sentiments carried to excess, and to
misconceptions to which ministers, incompetent and bribed, have given
rise. You were wrong to persist in patronizing ungrateful and jealous
neighbors like the Germans; or in serving the interests of mere traders,
like the English. God and history have intrusted a much more exalted
task to you, and for this purpose such large and warlike forces have
been given you. I and my marshals, I can assure you, are filled with
admiration at the bravery of your soldiers, every one of whom fought
like a hero."

"Ah," exclaimed Alexander, "this praise uttered by you, sire, is a balm
for my wounds!"

Napoleon laid his hand softly on the shoulder of the young emperor, and
looked him full in the face. "Sire," he said, "if we were to unite these
two armies, which fought so valiantly against one another at Austerlitz,
at Eylau, at Friedland, but who behaved like giants fighting
blindfold--if we were to take the field hand in hand at their head, we
might divide the world between us, for its own peace and welfare. By
waging war with France, Russia is spending her strength without any
possible compensation; whereas, if the two unite in subjecting the East
and the West, on land and sea, she would gain as much glory, and
certainly more profit. Yes, sire, you would attain the glory which you
have hitherto been vainly seeking with those who led you into a path in
which you have met with nothing but defeats and disappointments. Heaven
intended, perhaps, that you should pass through a school of suffering to
make you see your false friends in their true character, and then cause
you to turn to new friendships with the whole strength of your heroic
soul. Sire, I offer you my hand, and, if you will accept it, I will lead
you into a career as brilliant as the star-spangled firmament, and as
fragrant as the laurels of the south. You shall see at least half the
world at your feet. Sire, will you follow me?"

He fixed his fascinating glance on Alexander, and an unearthly radiance
seemed to beam from his countenance. Alexander, dazzled by his
aspect--carried away by the vigor of his language, and flattered also by
hearing Napoleon give utterance to reflections on his allies which so
well agreed with his own secret thoughts, extended his hands toward
Napoleon.

"Here I am," he exclaimed, "lead me! Show me the career I am to pursue!"

Napoleon hastily seized the proffered hands, and, shaking them
cordially, said with an energy which caused Alexander's heart to
flutter, "Come, the world is ours!" He conducted Alexander quickly and
silently to the round-table in the middle of the pavilion, on which
several rolls of paper were lying. Unfolding the largest, and spreading
it on the table, he said, "Sire, look here. This is a map of the world.
There is Asia, which is placed at the side of Russia, like a pillow on
which to rest your head; there is Persia, with her treasures; the vast
Chinese empire, with its industry and commerce; there is Hindustan, with
her immense wealth, and a population sighing for deliverance from the
British yoke. Here below you behold Africa, with her dreary deserts, and
the three Barbary states, which lately again plundered French vessels,
and upon which I have sworn to inflict summary punishment. I shall not
now speak of America and Australia. That is a world which has first to
pass through the children's disease of republicanism; after it has
recovered from it, both of us will be ready to inoculate it with
monarchical principles. But here is Europe! Your majesty, look at this
motley chaos of colors and states, of big and little thrones, lying
between France and Russia. We are their bulwarks on the east and west;
why should we not rule over them? We are able to do so by joining hands
over the heads of all these states. If Russia desires to be the sincere
ally of France, nothing will be more easy; we shall change the face of
this part of Europe; we shall break the chains separating these states
and nations from each other in the east as well as in the west. There
will be but one shepherd and one flock, and the Emperor of the Occident
and the Emperor of the Orient will give laws to the world!"

"Ah," exclaimed Alexander, enthusiastically, "the will of my ancestor,
Peter the Great, revives in the mouth of Napoleon the Great!"

Napoleon smiled. "And what Catharine the Great planned," he said, "will
be accomplished by Alexander the Great--the consolidation of the empire
of the East! Sire, a courier brought me important news this morning. My
ally and friend, Sultan Selim, has been hurled from his throne by the
daggers of conspirators. His overthrow has just set me at liberty in
regard to my alliance with the Porte."

"I also heard this intelligence to-day," said Alexander, smiling; "the
sultan's throne is vacant; Turkey awaits a new sovereign."

"Yes," exclaimed Napoleon, "but it is not necessary that this sovereign
should be a Mussulman. The crescent on St. Sophia's accuses the
Christian powers of cowardice and perfidy, and it is time to reëstablish
the cross on it. I did think that one might make something of those
Turks, restore to them some energy, teach them to make use of their
national courage; but it was an illusion. It is time to put an end to an
empire which can no longer hold together, and to prevent its spoils from
contributing to increase the power of England. I ask but a small part of
Turkey for myself; she is too remote from France, she does not belong to
the empire of the Occident. But I remember that Catharine the Great had
placed her on the map of the new world she was constructing, and I read
in the eyes of your majesty that you have not forgotten that map!"

"Sire, you not only read in my eyes, but you look also into my heart!"
exclaimed Alexander; "like a magician, you lay your hands on the secrets
of my thoughts, that never found words; you teach them to assume a
definite shape, and impart the faculty of speech to them."

"I show you the way of glory, which your allies had taken pains to
conceal," said Napoleon, smiling. "Your majesty anxiously desires to
see it, and those perfidious men tried to mislead you. The portal opens
to you now, sire, and I already behold the noble Alexander entering it."

"Oh," murmured Alexander, placing his hands on his head, "my brain turns
dizzy; it seems to me as though it were on fire."

"Sire," exclaimed Napoleon, in a powerful voice, "we are destined to
give everlasting peace to the world, and woe to those who try to hinder
us! England would like to do so as to myself, and Turkey desires as much
in regard to you. Sire, let us unite, therefore, against these two
enemies, and give efficiency to our alliance. We must enlarge our
territory. I see in the north an obstacle to your progress; Sweden is
watching your majesty with a jealous eye, and will regard an alliance
with me as a declaration of war. Well, then, wage war against Sweden!"

"Sire," said Alexander, in dismay, and confused by those novel ideas
passing so brilliantly before him, "the King of Sweden is my
brother-in-law and ally!"

"For that reason, let him follow the changes of your policy," replied
Napoleon, "or let him take the consequences. Sweden may be an ally for
the moment, but she is your geographical enemy. St. Petersburg is too
near the frontiers of Finland. The fair Russians of St. Petersburg must
not again hear from their palaces the cannon of the Swedes. Proclaim war
against the Swedish king, and take Finland as a compensation. And as you
must be strong in the south as well as in the north, take also at once
some portion of the provinces of the Danube. However, as it is probable
that the Turks will not give up any thing, let us wage war against them.
I will assist you, and afterward the partition will take place. Look
here," added Napoleon, quickly, drawing with his finger a line across
the map, "this is the inheritance that Turkey will leave us. You take
Bessarabia, Moldavia, Wallachia, and Bulgaria, as far as the Balkan. I
should naturally wish for the maritime provinces, such as Albania,
Thessaly, Morea, and Candia. It is true Austria would object to such an
arrangement, but we should offer her indemnities in Bosnia and Servia,
to be made the appanage of one of her archdukes. I have thus laid before
you a rapid sketch of our new world, sire; the question now is whether
you like it--what you think of it."

"Your majesty," exclaimed Alexander, enthusiastically, "I feel like a
man who has looked at the sun, and whose eyes are dazzled. But I shall
become accustomed to this brilliant light, and then be able to look more
reasonably at the wonderful picture which your majesty has unrolled.
But, then, I shall need your explanations and assistance, and I
therefore request you not to let to-day's interview be the last, but
rather the commencement of many happy hours!"

"We have to settle many things yet," said Napoleon, gravely; "it is,
therefore, my heart-felt desire that we see each other as often as
possible; hence, I should like to ask a favor of your majesty."

"Ah, sire, then you will overwhelm me with kindness," exclaimed
Alexander; "will you permit me, your vanquished foe, to confer a favor
upon you?"

"I should like to request your majesty to leave the miserable hamlet
where you are now living, and establish yourself in the little town of
Tilsit. It is true I am residing there, and I am said to be your enemy;
but we may neutralize the town, that your majesty may be there also, and
that I may be so happy as to see you every day."

"Sire, I shall transfer my quarters to Tilsit in the course of the day,"
replied Alexander, joyfully.

"But I have made only half my request. It is not enough for you to
reside at Tilsit; you must also _live_ there. I have been informed that
your household is not with you. I, therefore, ask your majesty to let me
be your host, and to permit me to receive you as a guest at my table."

"I accept your hospitality," said Alexander, smiling. "I hope it will be
the beginning of a true and lasting friendship. But," he added, in an
embarrassed manner, "I have to ask a favor of you. Sire, when I accept
your generous hospitality, it must extend to the unfortunate King of
Prussia. He is my ally; in an hour of rashness and sentimental
enthusiasm, perhaps, I swore faithful and lasting friendship to him."

"At the tomb of Frederick the Great, in presence of the beautiful
queen," said Napoleon, shrugging his shoulders. "It was the dream of a
generous heart, sire."

"But I must realize at least a part of this dream, sire. The King of
Prussia is with me at my headquarters; he is waiting for the decision of
his fate."

"He has brought it upon himself; let him bear it now," exclaimed
Napoleon, sternly. "I do not expect, hope, or ask any thing of him. He
is able neither to help nor to injure me. The waves of his destiny are
rolling over him; they will engulf him, and I do not mean to save him."

"But I do," exclaimed Alexander; "I must, for my honor is at stake. I
cannot allow the king to be utterly ruined without dishonoring myself.
Before passing from one system of politics to another, it is incumbent
upon me to secure my ally and to protect his crown."

"His estates belong to me; as to his crown, I will leave it to him,"
said Napoleon, carelessly. "Let him reside at Meinel and review there
his fifteen thousand soldiers. But I comprehend why you in your
generosity intercede for him, and refuse to abandon him. Tell me,
therefore, your majesty, what I am to do for the King of Prussia."

"Above all, sire, I request you to receive him, and to let him lay his
wishes and demands before you."

"Well, then," said Napoleon, "I request your majesty to appear with the
King of Prussia here in this pavilion to-morrow. Let him participate in
our interview. Although he has so long been an implacable enemy of mine,
I shall willingly yield him as much as possible, but I do so only for
your majesty's sake; it is a sacrifice I make to your honor and
magnanimity. Be kind enough to remember this. Sire, I might dissolve
Prussia, and cause her to disappear forever. I shall permit her to
remain a state, because your majesty desires me. But it is true I cannot
grant her the old frontiers; she will have to sacrifice much in order to
retain something."

"She will be content with this something," exclaimed Alexander. "Your
majesty will confer with the king himself as to the extent of his future
states."

"You wish me to do so. The King of Prussia, therefore, may have a part
in our negotiations," said Napoleon. "That is to say, in the official
negotiations, but not in our confidential interviews.--You and I," he
added, "can understand each other better if we treat directly than by
employing our ministers, who frequently deceive or misunderstand us; and
we shall advance business more in an hour than our negotiators in days.
Between you and me there must be no third person, if we are to
accomplish our purpose."

"No one shall be between us," said Alexander, delighted at so skilful a
flattery. The two sovereigns then walked hand in hand to the doors of
the pavilion.

"To-morrow, then," said Napoleon, with a gentle nod.

"To-morrow, I and the King of Prussia will be here," said Alexander,
with a smile.

Both emerged from the pavilion. The guards and the people received them
again with shouts in which the bands joined. Alexander turned to the
Grand-duke Constantine, his brother, and seizing his hand to introduce
him to Napoleon, he exclaimed enthusiastically, "What a man! what a
genius! Ah, my brother, had I but known him sooner, how many blunders he
might have spared me! What great things we might have accomplished
together!"



CHAPTER XXVIII.

QUEEN LOUISA.


While Frederick William repaired with Alexander to the headquarters of
the army, the queen and her faithful attendants remained at Memel. There
she received the news of the battle of Friedland, and bewailed the
misfortunes and disgrace of Prussia. The king was not with her, to
comfort her; he was still at the mill of Puktupöhnen, where, after the
disastrous battle, he and the Emperor Alexander had retired. Alexander
had left for Tilsit. The king had refused to accompany him, preferring
to remain at his humble lodgings, far from the proud conqueror. While
Alexander was the perpetual companion of Napoleon, a daily guest at his
table, without returning this hospitality, indulging with him in
fantastic dreams about the future political system of the world,
Frederick William pursued his lonely path gravely and silently, only
looking for means to relieve as much as possible the sufferings his
subjects were undergoing, and, by remonstrances and arguments, trying to
protect his monarchy from utter destruction.

Never did Frederick William stoop to flatter his enemy--never did he bow
to him in hypocritical submission. He could not help treating him as the
conqueror of his states, but he refused to degrade himself by base
servility. His first interview with Napoleon was short, and not very
pleasant. Frederick William tried to prove to his adversary that it was
he who had brought about the war by invading the territory of Anspach,
and thereby compelling Prussia to declare war. Napoleon listened to this
charge, shrugged his shoulders, and merely replied that the cabinet of
Berlin, often warned to beware of the intrigues of England, had
committed the fault of not listening to his friendly counsel, and that
to this cause alone were to be ascribed the disasters of Prussia. Since
then, Frederick William, like Alexander, was a daily guest at Napoleon's
table, but he sat there in silence, sad, and absorbed in his
reflections, taking but little part in the conversation, and, when he
did so, assuming a cold, formal manner, while Alexander and Napoleon
chatted unreservedly and pleasantly.

The king had also been constantly at the side of the two emperors in
their long rides, and at the reviews, but always as an ominous shadow in
the light of their new friendship--always as the mournful and warning
spirit of memories which Alexander would have forgotten, because now
they were a reproach and an accusation against him. And Frederick
William took no pains to palliate this reproach, or to disguise his
sadness with a veil of politeness. Abrupt in his whole bearing, he did
not condescend for a moment to play the part of courtier. Accompanying
the emperors, the king was by no means ready to comply with their whims;
if they wished to ride at a full gallop, he moved only at a quick trot,
and politeness compelled them to remain with him. When they returned
from their excursions, Napoleon and Alexander vaulted quickly from their
horses, and walked hand-in-hand toward the door, but Frederick William
alighted slowly, and thus obliged Napoleon, whose guest he was, to wait
for him. The king frequently made his crowned companions stand,
regardless of the rain; and it happened more than once that the
emperors, while waiting for him, were thoroughly drenched. When he was
conferring with Napoleon as to the future frontiers of his states,
Frederick William did not assume a suppliant tone, but spoke with the
bearing of an incensed and insulted sovereign, whom his adversary was
robbing of his rights, and who scarcely succeeded in restraining his
indignation.

And the king had sufficient reasons to be sad and irritable. He saw that
the storm which had so long cast its bolts upon Prussia, would utterly
destroy her. Napoleon was about to revenge himself for the unpleasant
hours she had latterly caused him. He was willing, indeed, as he had
pledged himself to Alexander, to leave Frederick William his crown, but
he did not intend to restore him his states. He needed Prussia for the
new kingdom of Westphalia, and for rewarding his friends and allies. The
king was to retain nothing but a small part of the province of Prussia,
and Königsberg was to be his capital.

Frederick William, stricken by this new and terrible humiliation
menacing him, looked anxiously around for assistance. He felt lonely,
deserted, and betrayed; he felt as though there was no comfort, no hope
for him. His soul turned with unutterable yearning toward the queen;
she was the pillar against which he desired to lean, that he might not
sink to the ground; she was his energy, his strength, his determination,
and when she was at his side, he felt strong enough to brave any
calamity. His love longed for her, and political considerations soon
required her presence.

"Beseech the queen to come hither," said Alexander to him; "she alone is
able now to do something for Prussia. Her beauty, her eloquence, her
amiability, and her understanding, will be more likely to obtain
concessions from Napoleon than any thing else. It will touch his
magnanimity that the noble queen, whom he has so often reviled,
condescends to come to him to implore his mercy. This high-minded
resolution will make a deep impression upon his generosity, and he will
grant twenty times more than I am able to obtain by my daily and most
urgent solicitations."

The king still hesitated. Owing to his sense of honor and his
conscientiousness, he shrank from doing what his heart so intensely
desired; and, before making up his mind, he wished to hear the views of
his friends, General von Köckeritz and Field-Marshal Kalkreuth, who were
carrying on the peace negotiations with Talleyrand. Both of them shared
the opinion of the Emperor Alexander; both of them exclaimed: "The queen
is our last hope! She alone is able to make an impression upon the
inexorable conqueror, and Napoleon possibly may not refuse her what he
declined granting to your majesty and to us. It is necessary for the
welfare of Prussia that her majesty should come hither."

The king delayed no longer. He wrote to the queen, and requested her to
come to his headquarters at Puktupöhnen. He told her it was her sacred
duty to make a last effort for the preservation of Prussia--that every
thing would be lost if She failed to move Napoleon by her supplications
and remonstrances. A courier hastened immediately with the letter to
Memel. When Louisa read it, a pallor overspread her features. Uttering a
cry of excruciating anguish, she dropped the paper into her lap, and
buried her face in her hands.

Madame von Berg, who had heard the loud sobs of the queen in the
adjoining room, hastened to console or weep with her. Louisa did not
hear her come; she was still absorbed in grief; only incoherent
lamentations fell from her lips, and her tears fell on the letter lying
in her lap. Madame von Berg knelt, and implored her with the eloquence
of devotedness and affection to let her share her queen's grief--to tell
her what new calamity had occurred.

Louisa looked with sorrowful eyes at the friend kneeling before her.
"You ask me what calamity has befallen me! Read and know!" she said,
handing the letter to her lady of honor, and, at the same time, raising
her from her knees.

While Madame von Berg was reading, the queen rose; and with her head
thrown back, and her eyes turned upward, she commenced slowly pacing the
room. "Well?" she asked, when Madame von Berg, with a deep sigh, had
laid the letter on the table. "Did you read it? And do you comprehend my
grief now?"

"I do, your majesty," she said, mournfully.

"Caroline," exclaimed the queen, in an outburst of despair, "I am to bow
to this man, who has insulted me so infamously! I am to step like a
beggar before him who has slandered my honor before the whole world, who
has crushed my heart, and wounded my soul in such a manner that it can
never, never recover! I tell you, he will be the cause of my death! On
the day when I read those calumnies which he contrived to have printed
about me--on that day I felt a pang in my heart as if a dagger had been
plunged into it! Ah, would I could die this hour, before sinking into
this new humiliation! Ah, my soul is willing to bow to the great, the
beautiful, the sublime--but not to him--not to that proud man who is
trampling mankind in the dust; who has rendered King Frederick William
so wretched, robbing him of his states and of his majesty, slandering
his queen, and oppressing his people. Caroline, think of it! I am to
meet politely him who has robbed my children of their inheritance, and
caused me so many sleepless nights, so many tears, so many pangs! With a
smile I am to conceal my anguish; and, under a magnificent costume, my
wounded heart! As it behooves every lady, though no queen, I am not to
wait for him to come to me, but I am to go to him! I am to force my
visit on him--I am to court his favor! Ah, it is too much--too cruel!"

Raising her arms impetuously to heaven, she exclaimed in the energy of
her grief, "Wilt Thou have no mercy upon me, my God? Ah, let me die! Let
me die, to escape this new disgrace menacing me! I am a poor, tormented
woman! I ask nothing of Thee but death! Wilt Thou refuse me this only
wish?" She sank on her knees, her arms and eyes still raised toward
heaven, as if she expected that her prayer would be granted. She slowly
dropped her arms, and hung her head with a groan. Madame von Berg, in
tears and with folded hands, was praying in a low voice.

A long pause ensued. The queen rose from her knees; her face was calm
and her tears had gone! but around her eyes a quiver was still seen,
and at times a sigh escaped her breast. "It is over now," she said in a
low voice, "the struggle is over! Pardon my impassioned grief, Caroline;
my poor heart sometimes refuses to submit to the bridle of affliction.
But I must be docile and patient, and learn to obey without a murmur."

There was something so touching in the tone and manner in which the
queen uttered these words, in the glance with which she gave her hand to
her friend, that Madame von Berg was unable to conceal her tears. She
took Louisa's hand and pressed it to her lips.

"Do not weep, Caroline," said the queen. "I have paid my tribute to
human nature; I have wept, but now I will be strong and do my duty.
Stand by me, and console me by your calmness and fortitude. I must set
out in an hour; let us reflect, therefore, what preparations ought to be
made."

"Then you will really go, your majesty?" asked Madame von Berg, sadly.

"Majesty!" ejaculated the queen, almost indignantly. "Is this reverence
intended to deride me? Where is my majesty?"

"In your sovereign eyes, Louisa," said Madame von Berg--"in your great
and noble heart, which masters its grief and submits to duty. It beams
gloriously around your head, which, though it may bow to your adversary,
will never be humbled by him. But, consider, are you not about to impose
upon yourself, in your generous devotedness, a sacrifice which is
greater, it may be, than the reward? Napoleon is not a magnanimous man;
he lacks true chivalry, and he would delight, perhaps, to scorn the
august lady who humbles herself so painfully, and who thereby affords
him a triumph. There is a voice in my heart, warning me against this
plan; it is repugnant to my womanly feelings that my noble queen is
suddenly to descend into the petty affairs of politics. I am afraid your
beauty, your understanding, your grace, are to be abused to fascinate
your enemy, and to wrest from him by persuasion what is the sacred right
and property of your king and of your children, and what I believe
cannot be wrested from the conqueror through intercession, but by the
king and his ally, the Emperor Alexander, by means of negotiations, or,
if they should fail, by force and conquest."

"Hush, hush, Caroline," exclaimed the queen anxiously. "Do not repeat to
me my own thoughts; do not give expression to my doubts and fears! I
think and feel like you. But I must go nevertheless; I must do what my
king and husband asks me to do. He wrote me that it is my sacred duty
to control my feelings, and come to him--that every thing is lost if I
do not succeed in influencing Napoleon by my remonstrances. It shall not
be said that I neglected my duty, and refused to yield, when the welfare
of my children and of my husband was at stake. It is a trial imposed
upon me now, and I am accustomed to make sacrifices. God may reward my
children for the sufferings I am now undergoing, the tears of their
mother may remove adversity from them when I am no more. Oh, my children
and my husband, if you are only happy, I shall never regret having
suffered and wept! And who knows," she added, "whether God may not have
mercy upon me, and whether, by the humiliation I am about to make, I may
not really promote the welfare of my king, my children, and my beloved
people? Oh, Caroline, I feel a joyful foreboding that it will be so! It
will touch the proud conqueror to see a lady, a wife, a mother, who was
once a queen, and is now but a sad, afflicted woman, appear before him
and humbly ask him to have mercy on her children and her country. Even
though he should feel no generosity, he will feign it, and, in his
ambition to be admired by the world, he will grant me what he would have
refused under other circumstances. The hearts of men rest in the hands
of God. He will move this man's heart!"

Scarcely touching the floor with her feet, Louisa glided across the room
to the piano. She slowly touched the keys, and with upturned glances she
indicated her thoughts, singing in a joyful voice the hymn commencing
with the words:

    In all thy ways--in grief, in fear,
      O troubled heart I rely
    On that all-faithful, ceaseless care
      Of Him who rules the sky.[33]

[Footnote 33:

    Befiehl Du Deine Wege
      Und was Dein Herze Kränkt,
    Der allertreu'sten Pflege
      Dess, der den Himmel lenkt.

               PAUL GERHARD.



CHAPTER XXIX.

BAD TIDINGS.


Frederick William and Louisa sat hand in hand in the small, wretched
room of the mill at Puktupöhnen. They were not a royal couple, but a
pair of lovers, thanking God that they were again united, and could read
in each other's eyes the love and constancy that animated them. The
king, generally taciturn and laconic, found words at this hour; his
happiness made him eloquent, and he unbosomed himself unreservedly,
telling of his apprehensions and forebodings. "But now," he said,
pressing Louisa's hand to his lips, "now you are here, and affairs will
assume a more hopeful aspect. Your eyes will strengthen and your voice
will encourage me. Alas! I stand greatly in need of your presence, for
my soul is well-nigh crushed. I have no longer sufficient strength to
withstand my misfortunes and humiliations--they oppress my life day and
night, leaving me no rest. At times, when I sat at the dinner-table
between the two emperors, and gazed at the sombre features of Napoleon,
in contrast with the good-natured face of Alexander, and listened to
their jests, I felt as though I ought to interrupt them by an expression
of anger, and say to them, 'It is a shame for you to laugh when
misfortune is in your company, and seated by your side.' But I
suppressed my feelings. Oh, Louisa, I was all alone in my agony. Now you
are here, I am no longer alone!" He threw his arms around the queen's
neck, and pressed her against his heart, as though afraid she might also
be wrested from him. "Oh, beloved Louisa," he whispered, "you are my
consolation and my hope; do not desert me--do not give me up--now that
the whole world seems to desert me!"

The queen encircled his neck in her arms and kissed him. "I shall always
stay with you," she said, smiling in her tears; "so long as my heart
throbs it belongs to you, my king, my beloved husband!" They remained
locked in an embrace. Their thoughts were prayers, and their prayers
love.

A carriage rapidly driving up to the door, and rattling the windows,
roused them. "It is Alexander, who comes to pay you a visit," said the
king, rising. "I will meet him."

But before he had reached the door, it opened, and the Emperor Alexander
appeared. "Ah, I succeeded in surprising both of you," he said, with a
good-humored smile. Bowing respectfully to the queen, he added: "I trust
your majesty will forgive my entering without announcement, but I longed
to see my noble friend Frederick William. God and His saints be praised
that the sun has at length risen on us, and that your majesty has
arrived!"

"Yes, sire, I have arrived," said Louisa, mournfully; "however, I do
not bring the sun with me. Night surrounds us, and it seems to me I
cannot see a single star in the darkness."

Alexander became grave; he gazed long and searchingly at the pale face
of the queen, and a sigh escaped his breast. "Sire," he said, turning to
the king, "can we really make peace with the man who, in the course of a
few weeks, changed into the lily the red rose that once adorned the face
of the noblest and most beautiful lady? Can we really forgive him for
wringing tears from our august queen?"

"Fate does not ask us whether we can," said the king, gloomily. "It
tells us only that we must. In my heart I shall never make peace with
the man who, although a great captain, is no great man; else he would be
less cruel. But God has given him the power, and we must all bow to
him."

"But it is not necessary to humble ourselves before him," exclaimed the
queen. "Amid our misfortunes we must keep ourselves erect; and if we
perish, we ought to do so with unsullied honor."

"But why perish?" said Alexander. "We are shipwrecked, it is true, and
we are now drifting on the waves, but we must save ourselves. Every one
must try, to the best of his ability, to do so; he must grasp at the
first thing that falls into his hands--at a plank, at a straw. Some
fortunate rope may at last save us, and draw us to the shore. We shall
then build a new ship, and man her with fresh hands. Do you agree with
me, my dear fellow-sufferers?"

"Sire," said Louisa, in a low and mournful voice, "you are magnanimous.
You call yourself our fellow-sufferer. And yet the tempest shipwrecked
us alone."

"By no means," exclaimed Alexander; "I have also suffered; all my hopes,
wishes, and ambition went down. But I did not wish to be drowned, and I
stretched out my arms for something to support me. Do you know what I
found to sustain me? The Emperor Napoleon! Oh, he is a strong support."

"I have heard, sire, your majesty has of late become an ardent admirer
of Napoleon," said the queen, in a tremulous voice.

"Yes," exclaimed Alexander, enthusiastically, "Napoleon is a genius, a
demi-god; the great Alexander of antiquity has risen from the dead. He
realizes the myths of the ancient heroes. I repeat it to him every day,
and, thank God, he believes me!"

The queen cast a surprised and inquiring glance on him. A singular smile
played on his lips. "Yes," he repeated, "Napoleon believes me! He is
convinced of the sincerity of my admiration, and he is right. I love him
as my master--as my teacher--as the great ideal that I will endeavor to
imitate!"

"Oh, sire," sighed the queen, reproachfully, "you give me pain!"

"You hate him, then?" asked Alexander, quickly.

"No," replied Louisa, gently, "I do not hate him, but I cannot love and
adore him. Only the good can make the world happy, and Napoleon has no
good intentions toward the nations. In his unmeasured ambition he thinks
of himself and his individual interests only. We may admire, but cannot
love him."

"We must, we can love him!" exclaimed Alexander. "He is an instrument in
the hand of Providence, that seems to have armed him to rule the world.
I love Napoleon," he added, in a whispering tone, "and I am sure he
believes in and returns my love. He overwhelms me with attentions and
favors; we have long conversations every day; we take our meals
together, and make many excursions. A shower surprised us yesterday and
gave us a thorough wetting. How amiably the great Napoleon behaved
toward me! how kindly he took care of me! he would not even let me go to
my quarters to change my dress, but conducted me himself to his room and
lent me his linen and clothing. As a souvenir, he presented me with a
superb dressing-case of gold which I chanced to admire. I shall always
preserve this gift as a token of his friendship."

He paused a moment, and cast a quick glance at the royal couple.
Frederick William had turned toward the window, and seemed to look
intently at the sky. Louisa had cast down her eyes, and her features
expressed a profound melancholy. The same strange smile played on the
emperor's face, but neither the king nor the queen noticed it. He kissed
Louisa's hand and asked: "Will your majesty graciously permit me to show
you that beautiful dressing-case?"

The queen withdrew her hand almost indignantly. "I thank your majesty,"
she said, "I am not very anxious to see the gifts of Napoleon."

Alexander approached nearer to her. "That is right," he whispered
hastily, "be angry with me--regard me as a faithless man--a renegade,
you will yet be undeceived!"

"Sire," said the queen, "sire--"

"Hush!" whispered Alexander, receding from her and approaching the king.
"Your majesty knows how much I have at heart your friendship as well as
your welfare--what pains I take to soften the heart of the conqueror,
and to inspire him with more lenient sentiments toward Prussia. I
improve every opportunity; I try to profit by my private interviews to
obtain better terms for you; as, for instance, I succeeded yesterday in
persuading him to leave you the fortress of Graudenz."

"I thank your majesty," said Frederick William, gravely. "But, as far as
I know, Napoleon did not conquer and occupy that fortress at all; it
held out bravely and faithfully to the day of the armistice; it remained
mine, and I do not see by what right he claims it."

"Oh, your majesty," exclaimed Alexander, carelessly, "the victor claims
the right of taking every thing he pleases. You must remember that, now
and hereafter--yes, hereafter," repeated Alexander, laying stress on the
word. "I was glad, therefore, that I succeeded in preserving Graudenz to
you. Unfortunately, however, I did not succeed in recovering the
frontiers. Our august queen must use her eloquence, and I have no doubt
that the noblest of women will succeed in bringing about what we and our
ministers failed to accomplish. But in order that your majesty may
become fully aware of the important interests that are at stake, of the
dangers menacing Prussia, and how urgently she needs the assistance of
her queen, I have brought the 'ultimatum' of Napoleon. He dictated it
to-day, to Talleyrand in my presence, and I requested him to give me a
copy. Will you permit me, sire, to communicate it to you?"

"It is always better to know our fate, and look it full in the face,"
said the king, slowly. "I request your majesty, therefore, to read it."

"And will you also permit me?" asked Alexander, turning to the queen.

Louisa gently nodded. "The king is right," she said, "we should know the
worst. Let us sit down, if your majesty please."

She took a seat on the sofa; the emperor and her husband occupied the
easy-chairs on the other side of the table.

"I implore your majesties, however, to listen without interrupting me,"
said Alexander, drawing a paper from his bosom. Glancing over it, he
added: "Napoleon demands, above all, that Prussia shall cede to him the
whole territory on the right of the Niemen, the city of Memel, and the
district extending as far as Tilsit, for he asserts that this is the
natural frontier of Russia. He requires your majesty, further, to cede
your whole territory on the left of the Elbe to France, for he regards
the Elbe as also the natural frontier of the Prussian kingdom. He
stipulates expressly that the district of Hildesheim shall not be
included in the territory of your majesty on the right of the Elbe, for
he desires this district to form part of the new kingdom of Westphalia,
which he has resolved to organize. But to compensate you for this loss,
he will prevail upon Saxony to cede to you a territory on the right of
the Elbe, equivalent to the district of Memel. Napoleon demands the
Polish provinces of Prussia for the new kingdom of Poland to be
organized; but your majesty is to keep Pomerelia and the districts of
Kulm, Elbing, and Marienwerder. The district of the Netze, as well as
the canal of Bromberg and Thorn, will be taken from Prussia; Dantzic,
with its surroundings, is to be constituted a free--I believe, a free
German city, under the joint protection of Saxony and Prussia. Russia is
to cede the island of Corfu to France. This is Napoleon's 'ultimatum,'"
said Alexander, laying the paper on the table. "These, queen, are the
conditions which your majesty ought to endeavor to render less rigorous,
and if possible, to cancel altogether. What do you think of them, your
majesty?"

"I think that if we cannot avert our fate, we must submit to it,"
replied Frederick William in a hollow voice, "but that recourse ought to
be had to every means to render it less offensive. For if I am compelled
to sign these propositions, I sign the ruin of Prussia."

The queen had listened to the words of the emperor, with breathless
attention, and fixed her eyes inquiringly on her husband. On hearing his
mournful reply, she sank back exhausted, and tears flowed down her
cheeks.

"Your majesty sees how necessary it was that you should come hither,"
said Alexander to the queen. "You have a great task to perform here. You
alone are able to save Prussia!"

Louisa shook her head. "Sire," she said, "he who was arrogant enough to
draw up such an 'ultimatum,' is also cruel enough to withstand all
solicitation. I have come because my king commanded me; faithful to the
duty intrusted to me, I shall try to mitigate our fate, but I do not
hope to be successful."

"In these times, nothing can be promised with any degree of certainty;
we can only hope for the best," said Alexander. "We must not relax in
our efforts to bring about a change in these terms. But I have not yet
communicated to you all the demands of the Emperor Napoleon."

"Indeed!" exclaimed the king, with a bitter laugh. "Then there is
something still left for Napoleon to take from me?"

"Yes, sire, he demands that your majesty dismiss your minister, Von
Hardenberg."

"Hardenberg!" exclaimed the queen, sadly--"the king's most faithful and
devoted servant! Oh, your majesty knows him--the generous zeal that
animates him, and the noble purposes that he pursues."

"I know him and have tried to lessen Napoleon's hostility," said
Alexander, shrugging his shoulders. "But my efforts were unsuccessful.
He insists on Hardenberg's removal, and I cannot but advise your
majesty, urgently, to comply. I cannot conceal from you that the Emperor
Napoleon has declared to me to-day, that he would make no peace, but
wage war with Prussia for forty years rather than consent that
Hardenberg, his implacable adversary, should remain your minister for a
single day."

"That is too much," exclaimed the queen, indignantly. "Let Napoleon
dismember Prussia, since he has the power, but he must not compel us to
select or dismiss our servants according to his _bon plaisir_."

"He must not! but he can do so," said the king gloomily, "and as
Napoleon does every thing he can, of course he compels me to undergo a
fresh humiliation. I must restore peace to my poor, bleeding country; I
cannot continue the war. If, therefore, he insists on Hardenberg's
removal as a first condition of the peace, I must comply."

"But it is impossible to inform such a faithful and devoted servant of
the state so abruptly of his ignominious removal from office," exclaimed
the queen, mournfully.

"No," said Alexander, "that is unnecessary. Minister von Hardenberg will
send in his resignation. I have had a long conference with him, and, in
consequence of it, he has repaired hither to request your majesty to
grant him an audience. May I call him?"

"If your majesty desires me I will receive him in your presence and in
that of the queen," said Frederick William, walking to the door; he
opened it, and cried: "Minister von Hardenberg!"

A few minutes afterward Hardenberg entered the room. The serene
expression of his fine, manly features had not disappeared; calm, and
kindly as usual, he approached their majesties, and bowed to them
respectfully, yet with the pride of a man conscious of his own dignity.
He took the liberty, therefore, to violate etiquette, and to speak
without being spoken to. "Sire," he said, turning to the Emperor
Alexander, "I thank you for being so kind as to procure me an audience
with his majesty, and as I may hope that you have communicated to my
king and master the reason why I applied for it, I shall have but little
to say. Time is precious, and, therefore, I shall be brief."

He approached the king, and, bowing deeply to him, added: "Your majesty
knows that I have devoted my life to the service of Prussia. I have
served her to the best of my ability and energy so long as the
confidence of your majesty permitted me. But circumstances require me
now to prove my devotedness in a different way. I can serve her now only
by retiring from the civil service, and by laying the portfolio that
your majesty intrusted to me, at your feet. I, therefore, request you to
be so gracious as to accept my resignation."

The king made no immediate reply. The queen looked at him, and an
expression of anxious suspense and tender solicitude was to be seen in
her features. The Emperor Alexander stood with folded arms at the side
of the king, and glanced with a smile now at the minister, now at the
royal couple.

"Sire," repeated Hardenberg, since the king was still silent, "I request
your majesty to be so gracious as to accept my resignation."

Frederick William started. "You know very well," he said, hastily, and
almost in a harsh voice, "that it gives me pain to do so. I have to
submit to necessity. I have no power to resist the most arrogant
demands--no army to continue the war. Hence, I must accept the only
terms on which I am able to obtain peace, and must also accept the
resignation you tender. You are free, Minister von Hardenberg; I am not
allowed to attach you to my cause. Accept my thanks for your valuable
services, and, believe me, I regret that I shall have to do without
them." He took the minister's hand and added: "I wish you joy of being
no longer in office; it will not now be necessary for you to sign the
peace which Napoleon offers to us."

"Sire," said Hardenberg, proudly, "I should never have signed that
treaty. It is not a treaty of peace, but of servitude. But I forget that
I have now no right to meddle with the policy of Prussia. I thank your
majesty, and beg leave to depart."

"I have to permit you," said the king; "you are more fortunate than I
am; you are a free man."

"Sire, I have, after all, but that freedom which every honorable man
ought to preserve even in misfortune," said Hardenberg, gently--"the
freedom of not bowing to wrong and injustice, and of perishing rather
than enduring disgrace. I intend to depart in the course of an hour."

"Farewell," said Frederick William, hastily; "and when I say farewell, I
mean that we shall meet again. I hope there will be better times. If I
call you, then, will you come, Hardenberg?"

"I shall never close my ear against the call of your majesty and of
Prussia," said Hardenberg, bowing to the king and the queen. He then
turned to the Emperor Alexander. "Sire," he said, "on taking leave of
you, and being, perhaps, for the last time, so fortunate as to see your
majesty, it is a comfort to me to remember the day when I beheld you
first in the spring of the present year. It was at Kydullen, where your
majesty showed to the King of Prussia your lifeguards that accompanied
you from St. Petersburg to participate in the war against France. When
the soldiers marched past you embraced King Frederick William, and
exclaimed with tearful eyes: 'Neither of us shall fall alone; either
both, or neither!' These words are still resounding in my ears, and in
these disastrous days, when Prussia's honor and existence are at stake,
they are my only consolation. Your majesty has not fallen, and hence,
you will not allow Prussia to fall. You will remember your oath, the
fidelity which Prussia has manifested toward you, and never so stain
your glory as to desert her now and suffer her to fall alone! This is my
hope, and, comforted by it, I leave you."

"Ah," said Alexander, sighing, "how unfortunate I am! You spoke at my
right ear, and you know that there I am deaf. Hence, I did not hear much
of what you said. But I believe you wished to take leave of me; I,
therefore, bid you a heart-felt farewell, and wish you a happy journey."
He offered his hand to Hardenberg, but the deep bow the minister made
just then, prevented him, perhaps, from seeing the extended hand of the
emperor; he did not grasp it, but withdrew in silence, walking backward
to the door.

When he was about to go out, the queen rose from the sofa. "Hardenberg,"
she exclaimed, vehemently, "and you forget to bid _me_ farewell?"

"Your majesty," said the minister, respectfully, "I await your
permission to do so."

The queen hastened to him. Tears glistened in her eyes, and she said in
a voice tremulous with emotion: "You know what I suffer in these times
of humiliation, for you know my sentiments, which can never
change--never prove faithless to the objects which we pursued together.
A time of adversity compels us to bow our heads; but let us lift our
hearts to God, and pray for better times. He will instill courage and
patience into the souls of noble and true patriots, and teach them not
to despair. Hardenberg, I believe in you, and so does Prussia. Work for
the cause in private life, as you are unable to do so in public--prepare
for the new era. This is my farewell--this the expression of my
gratitude for your fidelity. May God protect you, that you may be able
again to be useful to our country! Whenever I pray for Prussia, I shall
remember you! Farewell!" She offered him her hand, and as he bent to
kiss it, he could not refrain from tears. He averted his head as if to
conceal his emotion, and left the room.

Louisa looked at the king, who stood musing with folded arms. "Oh, my
husband!" she exclaimed mournfully, "Napoleon robs you not only of your
states, but of your most faithful friends and advisers. God save
Prussia!"



CHAPTER XXX.

QUEEN LOUISA AND NAPOLEON.


The queen had finished her toilet. For the first time during many
months, she had adorned herself, and appeared again in regal pomp. A
white satin dress, embroidered with gold, surrounded her tall and
beautiful form, and fell behind her in a flowing train. A broad necklace
of pearls and diamonds set off her superb neck; bracelets of the same
kind encircled her arms, that might have served as a model for Phidias.
A diadem of costly gems was glittering on her expansive forehead. It was
a truly royal toilet, and in former days the queen herself would have
rejoiced in it; but to-day no gladness was in her face--her cheeks were
pallid, her lips quivering, and her eyes gloomy.

She contemplated her figure in the mirror with a mournful, listless air,
and, turning to Madame von Berg, who had accompanied her to Puktupöhnen,
and who was to be her companion on her trip to Tilsit, she said:
"Caroline, when I look at myself, I cannot help shuddering, and my heart
feels cold. I am adorned as the ancient Germans used to dress their
victims, when they were about to throw them into the flames to pacify
the wrath of their gods. I shall suffer the same fate. I shall die of
the fire burning in my heart, yet I shall not be able to propitiate the
idol that the world is worshipping. It will be all in vain! With a soul
so crushed as mine, I am incapable of accomplishing any thing. But
complaints are useless, I must finish what I have begun; I must--but
hush! is not that the sound of wheels approaching this house?"

"Yes," said Madame von Berg, hastening to the window; "it is a
carriage--a brilliant court-carriage, drawn by eight horses, and
escorted by French dragoons."

Louisa pressed her hands against her heart, and a low cry burst from her
lips. "Oh," she whispered, "the dagger is again piercing my heart. Oh,
how it aches!"

Owing to the noise with which the imperial coach had driven up Madame
von Berg did not hear the last words of the queen. "Oh," she exclaimed
joyfully, "the Emperor Napoleon really seems to be favorably disposed
toward us. He takes pains at least to receive your majesty with the
respect due to a queen. The carriage is magnificent, and the eight
horses wear a harness of gold and purple. The French dragoons have on
their gala-uniforms and are marching into line to present arms when your
majesty appears. I begin to hope that I was mistaken in Napoleon; he
will not humble her whom he receives with the splendor lavished on the
most powerful crowned heads."

Louisa shook her head. "He has learned a lesson from the ancient
Cæsars," she said. "When Zenobia adorned the triumphal procession of
Aurelian, she was clad in robes of purple and gold; she stood on a
gilded car, surrounded by servants, as it was due to a queen. But
manacles were about her arms; she was, after all, but a prisoner, and
the contrast of the chain with the royal pomp rendered only more
striking the imperial triumph and her own humiliation. But, no matter!
We must go through with it. Come, Caroline, give me my cloak." She
wrapped herself in a small cloak of violet velvet, and casting a last
imploring glance toward heaven, she left the room to drive to Tilsit.

At the hotel, where the king was staying, he received his consort and
conducted her up-stairs to the room prepared for her. They said little;
the immense importance of this hour made them taciturn; they spoke to
each other only by glances, by pressing each other's hands, and by a few
whispered words indicative of their profound anxiety and suspense.
Scarcely fifteen minutes had elapsed when one of Napoleon's aides
appeared, to inform her that the emperor was already on his way to see
her. The king kissed his wife's hand. "Farewell, Louisa," he said, "and
may God give you strength to meet your adversary!"

Louisa retained him. "You will not stay with me?" she asked,
breathlessly. "You will leave me at this painful moment?"

"Etiquette requires me to do so," said the king. "You know very well
that I care nothing for these empty forms; but it seems that Napoleon,
to whom they are still new, deems them necessary for upholding the
majesty of the new-fangled empire. The emperor pays a visit to the queen
alone; hence, you must receive him alone. Only your lady of honor is
allowed to remain in the adjoining room, the door of which will be left
open. Napoleon's companion--Talleyrand, I believe--will also remain
there. Farewell, Louisa; I shall come only when the emperor expressly
asks for me. Do you hear the horses in front of the house? Napoleon is
coming! I go." He nodded pleasantly, and left the room.

"Oh, my children!" muttered the queen; "I am doing this for you--for
your sake I will speak and humble my heart!"

She heard the sound of footsteps on the staircase, and Madame von Berg
appeared in the adjoining room to announce that his majesty the Emperor
Napoleon was approaching. Louisa nodded, and, quickly crossing the
anteroom, she went out into the corridor. Napoleon was just ascending
the stairs. His face was illuminated with a triumphant expression, and a
sinister fire was burning in his eyes, which he fixed on the queen with
a strange mixture of curiosity and sympathy. Louisa looked at him
calmly; a touching smile played on her lips; her beautiful face beamed
with energy and courage, and an air of pious solemnity was visible in
her whole appearance. Napoleon felt involuntarily moved in the presence
of a lady so queen-like and yet so gentle, and bowed more respectfully
to her than he had ever done to any other woman.

"Sire," said Louisa, conducting him into the room, "I am sorry that your
majesty had to ascend so miserable a staircase."

"Oh," exclaimed Napoleon, "if the way leading to you was inconvenient,
madame, the reward is so desirable that one would shrink from no trouble
to obtain it."

"It seems there is nothing too inconvenient for your majesty," said the
queen, gently. "Neither the sands of Egypt nor the snows of our north
impede the career of the hero. And yet I should think our cold climate
an obstacle difficult to overcome. Did your majesty not have this
opinion sometimes last winter?"

"It is true," said Napoleon. "Your Prussia is somewhat cold. She is too
close to Russia, and allows herself to be fanned too much by its icy
breezes!"

Louisa feigned not to understand this allusion to the policy of Prussia,
and, turning to the emperor, she requested him to take a seat on the
sofa. Napoleon offered her his hand and conducted her to it. "Let us sit
down," he said, with a tinge of irony. Turning to her, he added: "You
have hated me so long that you ought to give me now a slight token of
the change in your sentiments, and permit me to sit at your side."
Bending over, he looked her full in the face and seemed to wait for her
to renew the conversation.

The queen felt her heart tremble--that the critical moment had come, and
she concentrated her courage and determination that that moment might
not pass unimproved. She raised her eyes slowly, and, with an affecting
expression, she said in a low, tremulous voice, "Will your majesty
permit me to tell you why I have come hither?"

Napoleon nodded, and continued looking steadily at her.

"I have come," added the queen, "to beg your majesty to grant Prussia a
more favorable peace. Sire, I use the word 'beg!' I will not speak of
our rights, of our claims, but only of our misfortunes; I will only
appeal to the generosity of your majesty, imploring you to lessen our
calamities, and have mercy on our people!"

"The misfortunes we suffer are generally the consequences of our own
faults," exclaimed Napoleon, harshly; "hence, we must endure what we
bring upon ourselves. How could you dare to wage war against me?"

The queen raised her head, and her eyes flashed. "Sire," she said,
quickly and proudly, "the glory of the great Frederick induced us to
mistake our strength, if we were mistaken."

"You were mistaken, at least in your hopes that you could vanquish me,"
exclaimed Napoleon, sternly. But, as if struck by a sudden recollection,
and meaning to apologize for his rudeness, he bowed, and added in a
pleasant tone: "I refer to Prussia and not to you, queen. Your majesty
is sure to vanquish every one. I was told that you were beautiful, and I
find that you are the most charming lady in the world!"

"I am neither so vain as to believe that, nor so ambitious as to wish
it," said the queen. "I have come hither as consort of the king, as
mother of my children, and as representative of my people!"

"Ah," exclaimed Napoleon, politely, "Prussia may well be proud of so
noble a representative."

"Sire, Prussia cannot be proud," replied the queen, sighing. "She weeps
over her sons fallen on the fields of battle that brought laurels to
you; to us nothing but defeat. She has lost her prosperity; her fields
are devastated; her supplies consumed. She is looking despondingly
toward the future, and all that remains to her is hope. Sire, let not
this hope be in vain! Pardon us for not having feared your all-powerful
genius and your victorious heroism! It was a terrible misfortune for us
to have mistaken our strength; but we have been humbled for it. Let it
be enough! You have made us feel the conqueror's hand; let us now feel
and acknowledge your magnanimity! Your majesty cannot intend to trample
in the dust those whom fortune has already so humbled. You will not take
revenge for our errors--you will not deride and revile our majesty--for
majesty, sire, is still enthroned on our heads. It is the sacred
inheritance which we must bequeath to our children."

"Ah, your majesty will comprehend that I cannot feel much respect for
such sacred inheritance," said Napoleon, sneeringly.

"But your majesty will respect our misfortunes," exclaimed Louisa.
"Sire, adversity is a majesty, too, and consecrates its innocent
children."

"Prussia has to blame none but herself for her calamities!" said
Napoleon, vehemently.

"Does your majesty say so because we defended our country when we were
attacked?" asked the queen, proudly. "Do you say so because, faithful to
the treaties which we had sworn to observe, we refused to desert our
ally for the sake of our own profit, but courageously drew the sword to
protect his and our frontiers? Heaven decreed that we should not be
victorious in this struggle, and our defeats became a new laurel-wreath
for your brow. But now you will deem your triumphs sufficient, and will
not think of taking advantage of our distress. I am told that your
majesty has asked of the king, as the price of peace, the largest and
best part of his states--that you intend taking from him his fortresses,
cities, and provinces, leaving to him a crown without territory, a title
without meaning--that you wish to distribute his subjects and provinces,
and form of them new nations. But your majesty knows well that we cannot
with impunity rob a people of their inalienable and noblest rights--of
their nationality--give them arbitrary frontiers, and transform them
into new states. Nationality is a sentiment inherent in the human heart,
and our Prussians have proud hearts. They love their king, their
country--"

"And above all their august queen," interrupted Napoleon, who wished to
put an end to this appeal, and direct the conversation into less
impetuous channels. "Oh, I know that all Prussia idolizes her beautiful
queen, and henceforth I shall not wonder at it. Happy those who are
permitted to bear your chains!"

She cast on him a glance so contemptuous that Napoleon shrank, and
lowered his eyes. "Sire," she said, "no one who bears chains is happy,
and your majesty--who once said to the Italians, 'You need not fear me,
for I have come to break your chains and to deliver you from degrading
servitude!'--will not now reduce a state to servitude. For to wrest it
from its legitimate sovereign, and to compel it to submit to another
prince is chaining it--to distribute a people like merchandise, is
reducing them to slavery. Sire, I dare beg your majesty to leave us our
nationality and our honor! I dare beg you in the name of my children to
leave them their inheritance and their rights."

"Their rights?" asked Napoleon. "Only he has them who knows how to
maintain them. What do you call the rights of your children?"

"Sire, I refer to their birth, their name, and history. By their birth,
God conferred on them the right to rule over Prussia. And the Prussian
monarchy is rooted in the hearts of the people. Oh, your majesty, do not
overthrow it! Honor in us the crown adorning your own victorious head!
Sovereigns ought to respect each other, that their people may never lose
the respect due to them; sovereigns ought to support and strengthen each
other, to enable them to meet their enemies now carried away by the
insane ideas of a so-called new era--ideas that brought the heads of
Louis XVI. and Marie Antoinette to the scaffold. Sire, princes are not
always safe, and harmony among them is indispensable; but it is not
strengthening one's own power to weaken that of others--it is not adding
lustre to one's own crown to tarnish another's. O sire; in the name of
all monarchies--nay, in the name of your own, now shedding so radiant a
light over the whole world, I pray for our crown, our people, and our
frontiers!"

"The Prussians," said Napoleon, rising, "could not have found a more
beautiful and eloquent advocate than your majesty!"

He paced the room several times, his hands folded behind him. The queen
had also risen, but she stood still, and looked in breathless suspense
at Napoleon, whose cold face seemed to warm a little with humane
emotion. He approached, and fixed his eyes in admiration on her sad but
noble countenance. "Your majesty," he said, "I believe you have told me
many things which no one hitherto has ventured to tell me--many things
which might have provoked my anger--some bitter words, and prophetic
threats have fallen from your lips. This proves that you at least
respect my character, and that you believe I will not abuse the position
to which the fortune of war has elevated me. I will not disappoint you,
madame. I will do all I can to mitigate your misfortunes, and to let
Prussia remain as powerful as is compatible with my policy and with my
obligations to my old and new friends. I regret that she refused to
enter into an alliance with me, and that I vainly offered my friendship
to her more than once. It is no fault of mine that your majesty has to
bear the consequences of this refusal, but I will try to ameliorate them
as much as I can. I cannot restore your old frontiers; I cannot deliver
your country entirely from the burdens and calamities of war, and
preserve it from the tribute which the conqueror must impose upon the
vanquished, in order to receive some compensation for the blood that was
shed. I will always remember that the Queen of Prussia is not only the
most fascinating, but also the most high-minded, courageous, and
generous lady in the world, and that one cannot do homage enough to her
magnanimity and intelligence. I promise your majesty that I am quite
willing to comply with all your wishes as far as I can. Inform me,
therefore, of them; it will be best for you to be quite frank with me.
We shall try to become good friends, and, as a token of this friendship,
I take the liberty to offer you this flower, which bears so striking a
resemblance to you." He took a full-blown moss-rose from the porcelain
vase standing on the table, and presented it to her. "Will you accept
this pledge of friendship at my hands?"

The queen hesitated. It was repugnant to her noble and proud heart to
receive so sentimental a gift from him to whom her heart never could
grant true friendship. She slowly raised her eyes and looked almost
timidly into his smiling face. "Sire," she said in a low voice, "add to
this pledge of your friendship still another, that I may accept the
rose."

The smile faded from Napoleon's face, and anger darkened his forehead.
"Remember, madame," he said harshly, "that it is I who command, and that
you have but the choice to decline or to accept. Will you accept this
rose?"

"Sire," said the queen, with quivering lips and tearful eyes, "give it
to me with another pledge of your friendship. Give me Magdeburg for my
children."

Napoleon threw the rose on the table. "Ah, madame," he said, vehemently,
"Magdeburg is no toy for children!" He turned around and paced the room
repeatedly, while Louisa hung her head, and looked resigned as a martyr
ready to suffer death. Napoleon glanced at her as he passed, and the
spectacle exhibited by this aggrieved, and yet so dignified and gentle a
queen, touched him; for it reminded him of Josephine. He stood still in
front of her. "Forgive my impulsiveness," he said; "I cannot give you
Magdeburg, but you may rest assured that I will do all I can to lessen
your calamities, and to fulfil your request. The Emperor Alexander is
aware of my wishes; he knows that I am desirous to serve the King of
Prussia. I should like to repeat this to your husband himself if he were
here."

"He is here," said the queen, hastily; "and with your majesty's
permission he will be with us immediately."

Napoleon bowed in silence. A sign made by Louisa brought the lady of
honor. "Be so kind as to request the king to come to us," said the
queen, quickly.

"And while we are awaiting the king," said Napoleon, calling Talleyrand
from the anteroom, "your majesty will permit me to introduce my
companion. Madame, I have the honor to present my minister of foreign
affairs, M. de Talleyrand, Prince de Benevento."

"And I deem myself happy to make the acquaintance of the greatest
statesman of the age," said the queen, while Talleyrand's short figure
bowed deeply. "Oh, your majesty is indeed to be envied. You have not
only gained great glory, but are also blessed with high-minded and
sagacious advisers and executors of your will. If the king my husband
had always been equally fortunate, a great many things would not have
happened."

"Well, we have induced him to displace at least one bad adviser,"
exclaimed Napoleon. "That man Hardenberg was the evil genius of the
king; he is chiefly to blame for the misfortunes that have befallen
Prussia, and it was necessary to remove him."

"But he was an experienced statesman," said the queen, whose magnanimous
character found it difficult to listen to any charge against Hardenberg
without saying something in his defence; "he is a very skilful
politician, and it will not be easy for the king to fill the place of
Minister von Hardenberg."

"Ah!" said Napoleon, carelessly; "ministers are always to be found. Let
him appoint Baron von Stein; he seems to be a man of understanding."

An expression of joyful surprise overspread the queen's face. The king
entered. Napoleon met him and offered him his hand. "I wished to give
your majesty a proof of my kind disposition in the presence of your
noble and beautiful consort, and, if you have no objection, to assure
you of my friendship," he said. "I have complied as far as possible with
all your wishes. The Emperor Alexander, in whom you have an ardent and
eloquent friend, will confirm it to you. I also communicated to him my
last propositions, and trust that your majesty will acquiesce in them."

"Sire," said the king, coldly, "the Emperor Alexander laid this
ultimatum before me, but it would be very painful to me if I should be
obliged to accept it. It would deprive me of the old hereditary
provinces which form the largest portion of my states."

"I will point out a way to get compensation for these losses," exclaimed
Napoleon. "Apply to the Emperor Alexander; let him sacrifice to you his
relatives, the Princes of Mecklenburg and Oldenburg. He can also give up
to you the King of Sweden, from whom you may take Stralsund and that
portion of Pomerania of which he makes such bad use. Let him consent
that you should have these acquisitions, not indeed equal to the
territories taken from you, but better situated, and, for my part, I
shall make no objection."

"Your majesty proposes to me a system of spoliation, to which I can
never agree," said the king, proudly. "I complain of the menaced loss of
my provinces, not only because it would lessen the extent of my
territories, but because they are the hereditary states of my house, and
are associated with my ancestors by indissoluble ties of love and
fealty."

"You see that these ties are not indissoluble after all," exclaimed
Napoleon, "for we shall break them, and you will be consoled for the
loss by obtaining compensation."

"Possibly others may be more readily consoled for such losses," said the
king: "those who are only anxious for the possession of states, and who
do not know what it is to part with hereditary provinces in which the
most precious reminiscences of our youth have their root, and which we
can no more forget than our cradle."

"Cradle!" exclaimed Napoleon, laughing scornfully. "When the child has
become a man, he has no time to think of his cradle."

"Yes, he has," said the king, with an angry expression. "We cannot
repudiate our childhood, and a man who has a heart must remember the
associations of his youth."

Napoleon, making no reply, looked grave, while Frederick William fixed
his eyes on him with a sullen and defiant expression. The queen felt
that it was time for her to prevent a more violent outburst of
indignation on the part of her husband. "The real cradle is the tender
heart of a mother," she said gently, "and all Europe knows that your
majesty does not forget it; all are aware of the reverential love of the
great conqueror for Madame Letitia, whom France hails as noble _Madame
Mère_."

Napoleon raised his eyes toward her, and his forbidding expression
disappeared. "It is true," he said, "your sons, madame, ought to be
envied such a mother. They will owe you many thanks, for it is you,
madame, who have saved Prussia by your eloquence and noble bearing. I
repeat to you once more that I shall do what I can to fulfil your
wishes. We shall confer further about it. At present, I have the honor
to take leave of your majesty."

He offered his hand to the queen. "Sire," she said, profoundly
affected, "I hope that, after making the acquaintance of the hero of the
century, you will permit me to remember in you the generous conqueror as
well as the man of genius." Napoleon silently kissed her hand, and,
bowing to the king, left the room.

"Oh!" exclaimed the queen, when she was alone with her husband, "perhaps
it was not in vain that I came hither; God may have imparted strength to
my words, and they may have moved the heart of this all-powerful man, so
that he will acknowledge our just demands, and shrink from becoming the
robber of our property."

In the mean time Napoleon returned to his quarters, accompanied by
Talleyrand. But when the minister, on their arrival at the palace, was
about to withdraw, the emperor detained him. "Follow me into my
cabinet," he said, advancing quickly. Talleyrand limped after him, and a
smile, half scornful, half malicious, played on his thin lips.

"The hero who wants to rule over the world," said Talleyrand to himself,
"is now seized with a very human passion, and I am sure we shall have a
highly sentimental scene." He entered the room softly, and lurkingly
watched every movement of Napoleon. The emperor threw his small hat on
one chair, his gloves and sword on another, and then paced the room
repeatedly. Suddenly he stood still in front of Talleyrand and looked
him full in the face.

"Were you able to overhear my conversation with the queen?" he asked.

"I was, sire!" said Talleyrand, laconically, "I was able to overhear
every word."

"You know, then, for what purpose she came hither," exclaimed Napoleon,
and commenced again pacing the apartment.

"Talleyrand," he said, after a pause, "I have wronged this lady. She is
an angel of goodness and purity, she is a true woman and a true queen.
It was a crime for me to persecute her. Yes, I confess that I was wrong
in offending her. On merely hearing the sound of her voice I felt
vanquished, and was as confused and embarrassed as the most timid of
men. My hand trembled when I offered her the rose. I have slandered her,
but I will make compensation!" He resumed his walk rapidly; a delicate
blush mantled his cheeks, and all his features indicated profound
emotion. Talleyrand, looking as cold and calm as usual, still stood at
the door, and seemed to watch the emperor with the scrutinizing eye of a
physician observing the crisis of a disease.

"Yes," added Napoleon, "I ought certainly to compensate her for what I
have done. She shall weep no more on my account; she shall no more hate
and detest me as a heartless conqueror. I will show her that I can be
magnanimous, and compel her to admit that she was mistaken in me. I will
raise Prussia from the dust. I will render her more powerful than ever,
and enlarge her frontiers instead of narrowing them. And then, when her
enchanting eyes are filled with gladness, I will offer my hand to her
husband and say to him: 'You were wrong; you were insincere toward me,
and I punished you for it. Now let us forget your defeats and my
victories; instead of weakening your power, I will increase it that you
may become my ally, and remain so forever!' Talleyrand, destroy the
conditions I dictated to you; send for Count Goltz; confer with him
again, and grant his demands!"

"Sire," exclaimed Talleyrand, apparently in dismay, "sire, shall
posterity say that you failed to profit by your most splendid conquest,
owing to the impression a beautiful woman made upon you?" The emperor
started, and Talleyrand added: "Sire, has the blood of your soldiers who
fell at Jena, at Eylau, and at Friedland, been shed in vain, and is it
to be washed away by the tears of a lady who now appears to be as
inoffensive as a lamb, but who is to blame for this whole war? Your
majesty ought not to forget that the Queen of Prussia instigated her
husband to begin it--that, at the royal palace of Berlin, you took a
solemn oath to punish her, and to take revenge for her warlike spirit,
and for the oath over the tomb of Frederick the Great! Ah, the queen,
with Frederick William and the Emperor Alexander, would exult at your
tender-heartedness; the world would wonder at the weakness of the great
captain who allowed himself to be duped by the sighs and seeming
humility of the vanquished, and--"

"Enough!" interrupted Napoleon, in a powerful voice--"enough, I say!" He
walked several times up and down, and then stood still again in front of
Talleyrand. "Send immediately for Count Goltz," he said imperiously,
"and inform him of our ultimatum! Tell him in plain words that all I
said to the queen were but polite phrases, binding me in no manner, and
that I am as firmly determined as ever to fix the Elbe as the future
frontier of Prussia--that there was no question of further
negotiations--that I had already agreed with the Emperor Alexander as to
the various stipulations, and that the king owed his lenient treatment
solely to the chivalrous attachment of this monarch, inasmuch as,
without his interference, my brother Jerome would have become King of
Prussia, while the present dynasty would have been dethroned. You know
my resolutions now; proceed in accordance with them, and hasten the
conclusion of the whole affair, that I may be annoyed no more. I demand
that the treaty be signed to-morrow."

Prussia's fate was therefore decided. The great sacrifice which the
queen had made, and with so much reluctance, had been in vain. On the
9th of June, 1807, the treaty of Tilsit was signed by the
representatives of France and Prussia.

By virtue of it King Frederick William lost one-half of his territories,
consisting of all his possessions beyond the Elbe: Old Prussia,
Magdeburg, Hildesheim, Westphalia, Friesland, Erfurt, Eichsfeld, and
Baireuth. The Polish provinces were taken from him, as well as a portion
of West Prussia, the district of Kulm, including the city of Thorn, half
of the district of the Netze, and Dantzic, which was transformed into a
free city. Besides, the king acknowledged the Confederation of the
Rhine, the Kings of Holland and Westphalia, Napoleon's brothers, and
engaged to close his ports against England. And, as was expressly stated
in the document, these terms were obtained only "_in consideration of
the Emperor of Russia_, and owing to Napoleon's sincere desire to attach
both nations to each other by indissoluble bonds of confidence and
friendship."

Russia, which had signed the treaty on the preceding day, gained a large
portion of Eastern Prussia, the frontier district of Bialystock, and
thus enriched herself with the spoils taken from her own ally.

Thus Frederick William concluded peace, losing his most important
territories, and having his ten millions of subjects reduced to five
millions. The genius of Prussia, Queen Louisa, veiled her head and wept!



BOOK IV.



CHAPTER XXXI.

BARON VON STEIN.


Profound sadness reigned for several weeks at the house of Baron Charles
von Stein. Tears were in the eyes of his children, and whenever their
mother came from her husband's room and joined them for a moment, they
seemed in her only to seek comfort and hope. But the anxious face of the
baroness became more sorrowful, and the family physician, who visited
the house several times a day, was more taciturn and grave. Baron von
Stein was ill, and his disease was one of those which baffle the skill
of the physician, because their seat is to be sought less in the body
than in the mind. Prussia's misfortunes had prostrated Stein. Sick at
heart, and utterly broken down, at the commencement of 1807, after the
violent scene with King Frederick William, he left Königsberg, and
travelled slowly toward Nassau. There he met his family, and ever since
lived in retirement. Never in his grief had he uttered a complaint, or
manifested any loss of temper, but his face had become paler, his gait
slower, and indicative of increasing weakness and exhaustion. He yielded
at last to the tears of his wife, and the repeated remonstrances of his
physician, to submit to medical treatment.

But medicine did not restore him; his strength decreased, and the fever
wrecking his body grew more violent. The disease had recently, however,
assumed a definite character; the news of the disaster of Friedland, and
of the humiliating treaty of Tilsit, had violently shaken his
constitution, and the physician was now able to discern the true
character of the malady and give it a name. It was the tertian fever
which alternately reddened and paled the baron's cheeks, at times
paralyzing his clear, powerful mind, or moving his lips to utter
unmeaning words, the signs of his delirium.

Baron von Stein had just undergone another attack of his dangerous
disease. All night long his devoted wife had watched at his bedside, and
listened despondingly to his groans, his fantastic expressions, his
laughter and lamentations. In the morning the sufferer had grown calmer;
consciousness had returned, and his eyes sparkled again with
intelligence. The fever had left him, but he was utterly prostrated. The
physician had just paid him a visit, and examined his condition in
silence. "Dear doctor," whispered the baroness, as he was departing,
"you find my husband very ill, I suppose? Oh, I read it in your face; I
perceive from your emotion that you have not much hope of his recovery!"
And the tears she knew how to conceal in the sick-room fell without
restraint.

"He is very ill," said the physician, thoughtfully, "but I do not
believe his case to be entirely hopeless; for an unforeseen circumstance
may come to our assistance and give his mind some energy, when it will
favorably influence the body. If the body alone were suffering, science
would suggest ways and means to cure a disease which, in itself, is
easily overcome. The tertain fever belongs neither to the dangerous
acute diseases nor to any graver class. But, in this case, it is only
the external eruption of a disease seated in the patient's mind."

"Whence, then, is recovery to come in these calamitous and depressing
times?" said the baroness, mournfully. "His grief at the misfortunes of
Prussia is gnawing at his heart, and all the mortifications and
misrepresentations he has suffered at the hands of the very men whom he
served with so much fidelity have pierced his soul like poisoned
daggers. Oh, I shall never pardon the king that he could so bitterly
mortify and humble my noble husband, who is enthusiastically devoted to
Prussia--that he could mistake his character so grievously, and prefer
such cruel charges against him. He called him--the best, the most
intelligent and reliable of all his servants--a seditious man; he
charged him with being self-willed, stubborn, and proud, and said he was
mischievous and disobedient to the state. Oh, believe me, that
accusation is what troubles Stein! The King of Prussia has humbled his
pride so deeply and unjustly, that a reconciliation between them is out
of the question. Stein lives, thinks, and grieves only for his country,
and yet the insulting vehemence and unfeeling words of the king have
rendered it impossible for him ever to reenter the Prussian service. He
sees that his country is sinking every day, and that she is ruined not
only by foreign enemies, but by domestic foes preying at the vitals of
her administration. He would like to help her--he feels that he has
stored up the means to do so in his experience--and yet he cannot. I ask
you, therefore, my friend, where is the balm for his wounded soul?"

"I do not know," said the physician, "but we must get it. Germany has
not now so many high-minded and courageous men that she could spare one,
and the best of them all. The genius of Germany will assuredly find a
remedy to save her noble champion, Baron von Stein."

"Ah, you believe still in the genius of Germany?" asked the baroness,
mournfully. "You see all the horrors, the shame, the degradation that
Germany, and especially Prussia, have to suffer! The calamities of our
country, then, my friend, have transformed you into a believer, and made
of the rationalist a mystic, believing in miracles? You know I was
hitherto pious, and a faithful believer, but now I begin to doubt. Now I
ask myself anxiously whether there really is a God in heaven, who
directs and ordains every thing, and yet permits us to be thus trampled
in the dust."

"Our duty is, perhaps, to strengthen ourselves by misfortunes," said
the physician. "Germany was sleeping so profoundly that she could only
be aroused by calamity, and become fully alive to her degrading
position. But, believe me, she is opening her eyes, and seeking for
those who can help her. She cannot forget Baron von Stein; but must feel
that she stands in need of him."

"May you be a true prophet!" said the baroness, sighing, "and that your
words--but hark!" she interrupted herself, "some one is violently
ringing the door-bell! He must be a stranger, for none of the citizens
would announce a visit in so noisy a manner. The inhabitants manifest
sympathy for us; many come every morning to inquire about my husband.
Without solicitation our neighbors have spread a layer of straw in front
of the house, and along the street, that no noise may disturb the
beloved sufferer, and--"

Just then the door opened, and a footman stated that a stranger desired
to see the baroness concerning a matter of great importance.

"Me?" she asked, wonderingly.

"He asked first for Baron von Stein," replied the footman, "and when I
told him that my master was very ill, he seemed alarmed. But he bade me
announce his visit to the baroness, and tell her that he had made a long
journey, and was the bearer of important news."

"Admit him, baroness," said the physician; "he brings, perhaps, news
that may be good for our patient. As for me, permit me to withdraw."

"No, my dear doctor, you must stay," she said. "You are an intimate
friend of my husband and of my family, and this person cannot have any
thing to say to me that you may not hear. Besides, your advice and
assistance may be necessary; and if the news should be important for my
husband, you ought not to be absent."

"Well, if you wish me to stay, I will," said the physician; "who knows
whether my hopes may not be presently realized?"

"Admit the stranger," said the baroness; and he entered a few minutes
afterward.

"High-Chamberlain von Schladen!" she exclaimed, meeting him.

"You recognize me, then, madame?" asked M. von Schladen. "The memories
of past times have not altogether vanished in this house, and one may
hope--" At this moment his eyes met the physician, and he paused.

"Doctor von Waldau," said the baroness, "a faithful friend of my
husband, and at present his indefatigable physician. He is one of us,
and you may speak freely in his presence, Mr. Chamberlain."

"Permit me, then, to apply to you directly, and to ask you whether Baron
von Stein is so ill that I cannot see him about grave and important
business?"

"The baron is very ill," said the physician, "but there is no immediate
danger; and, as the fever has left him to-day, he will be able to
converse about serious matters--that is to say, if they are not of a
very sad and disheartening character."

"Grief for Prussia's misfortunes is my husband's disease," said the
baroness; "consider well, therefore, if what you intend telling him will
aggravate it, or bring him relief. If a change for the better has taken
place--if you bring him the news that that disgraceful treaty of Tilsit
has been repudiated, and that the war will continue, it will be a
salutary medicine, and, in spite of the warlike character of your news,
you will appear as an angel of peace at his bedside. But if you come
only to confirm the disastrous tidings that have prostrated him, it may
cause his death."

"I do not bring any warlike tidings," said M. von Schladen, sadly; "I do
not bring intelligence that the treaty of Tilsit has been repudiated!
Hence, I cannot, as you say, appear as an angel of peace. Nevertheless,
I do not come croaking of our disasters. I come in the name of, and
commissioned by Prussia, to remind Baron von Stein of the words he
uttered to the queen when he took leave of her. You, sir, being his
physician, are alone able to decide whether I may see him, and lay my
communication before him. For this reason I must tell you more
explicitly why I have come. You permit me to do so, I suppose,
baroness?"

"Oh, speak! my heart is yearning for your words!" exclaimed the
baroness.

"I come to see Baron von Stein, not merely because I long to speak to
the man for whom I entertain so much love and respect," said M. von
Schladen, "but I come in the name of the king and queen. I bring him
letters from Minister von Hardenberg, from the Princess Louisa von
Radziwill, and from General Blücher, and verbal communications from the
queen. I have travelled without taking a moment's rest in order to
deliver my letters as soon as possible, and to inform the baron of the
wishes of their majesties. And now that I have arrived at my
destination, I find the man sick in bed who is the only hope of Prussia.
You will, perhaps, even shut his door against me, and all the greetings
of love, the solicitations and supplications which I bring, will not
reach him! It would be a heavy misfortune for Prussia and for the
deeply-afflicted king, who is looking hopefully toward Baron von Stein!"

"He is looking hopefully toward my husband," exclaimed the baroness,
reproachfully, "and yet it was he who insulted the baron in so grievous
a manner!"

"But the king repents of it, and desires to indemnify him for it," said
M. von Schladen. "I come to request Baron von Stein to return to
Prussia, and to become once more the king's minister and adviser."

"Oh," exclaimed the physician, joyfully, "you see now that I am a true
prophet. The genius of Germany has found a remedy to cure our noble
sufferer."

"You permit me, then, to speak to him?" asked M. von Schiaden.

"I request you to do so," replied the physician. "I demand that you go
to him immediately, and speak to him freely and unreservedly. His mind
is in need of a vigorous shock to become again conscious of its own
strength; when it has regained this consciousness, the body will rise
from its prostration."

"Doctor, I am somewhat afraid," said the baroness, anxiously. "He was of
late so nervous and irritable, you know, that the most trifling
occurrence caused him to tremble and covered his brow with perspiration.
I am afraid these stirring communications may make too powerful an
impression upon him."

"Never mind," exclaimed the physician; "let them make a powerful
impression upon him--let them even cause him to faint--I do not fear the
consequences in the least; on the contrary, I desire them, for the shock
of his nervous system will be salutary, and bring about a crisis that
will lead to his recovery."

"But, doctor, excuse me, you know he had a raging fever all night, and
is exhausted. What good will it do to communicate the news to him? He
cannot obey the king's call, and, at best, weeks must pass before
recovering sufficiently to attend to state matters."

"Ah, Baron von Stein accomplishes in days what others perform only in
weeks," exclaimed the physician, smiling. "He is one of those men whose
mind has complete control of his body. In his case, if you cure the one
you cure the other."

"But I doubt whether my husband will accept these offers of the king,"
said the baroness, hesitatingly; "he has been insulted too grossly."

"But he is a patriot in the best sense of the word," said M. von
Schladen; "he will forget personal insult when the welfare of the people
is at stake."

"And even though he should not accept," said the physician, "he receives
at least a gratifying satisfaction in the king's offer, and that will
assuredly be a balm for his wounds. I shall now go to him once more. If
he is entirely free from fever, I will let you come in, and you may tell
him every thing."

"But you will not go away," said the baroness; "you will stay here, so
as to be at hand in case any thing should happen."

"I shall remain in this room," said the physician, "and you may call me
if necessary. Now let me see first how our patient is, and whether I may
announce M. von Schladen's visit." He hastened back into the sick-room
without waiting for a reply; the baroness sank down on a chair, and,
folding her trembling hands, prayed fervently. High-Chamberlain von
Schladen looked at the door by which the physician had disappeared, and
his face expressed suspense and impatience.

At length the door opened again, and the physician appeared on the
threshold. "High-Chamberlain von Schladen," he said aloud, "come in;
Baron von Stein awaits you."



CHAPTER XXXII.

THE PATRIOT


High-chamberlain von Schladen entered the sick-room on tiptoe, preceded
by the Baroness von Stein, who, hastening to her husband, looked at him
anxiously. In fact, the baron looked very ill. His cheeks were hollow
and deadly pale; his eyes lay deep in their sockets, and were flashing
with that peculiar light emanating from the fever; his thin lips were
parched, and he constantly tried to moisten them with his tongue, while
his breathing was very painful.

M. von Schladen looked in profound emotion at the patient, and a feeling
of melancholy was apparent. He was obliged to acknowledge that the
baroness was right, and that this wasted form was not able to rise to
obey the king's call; he believed that he had come in vain, and would be
compelled to leave without having accomplished any thing, and this
conviction was accompanied with a sigh. The sick man heard it, and a
faint smile passed over his features. "You find me very ill then, M. von
Schladen?" he asked in a tremulous voice. "I suppose I am but the shadow
of the healthy, vigorous man who took leave of you at Königsberg a few
months since? You see, I am still unable to give up my sympathies for
Prussia; indeed, I am like her in every respect. Prussia is also but a
shadow of what she was a short time ago; she is undergoing her
death-struggle, and will succumb unless a strong arm soon lift her up."

"But this strong arm will come," said M. von Schladen.

"You believe so?" asked Stein. "Would you were right! But all I hear is
disheartening. We live in a period of degradation and servitude, when we
can do nothing better than seek a refuge in the grave, the only place
where we may find liberty. You see that I am already on the brink. But I
will not now speak of myself, but of you. What brought you hither? To
what lucky accident am I indebted for your visit? My physician has told
me you had casually stopped in this town, and being informed of my
illness had desired to see me. What is your destination?"

"I am returning to Memel, to the King and Queen of Prussia," said M. von
Schladen.

"Ah, you are a faithful servant, and I envy you," said Baron von Stein,
"for your services are gratefully accepted; you are not treated with
contumely, and your zeal is not regarded as malice and self-will. You
may assist your country with your head, your arm, and your heart. You
are not doomed to step aside, and idly dream away your days instead of
seeking relief in useful activity. Oh, I repeat again, I envy you!"
While he was speaking, his pale cheeks had assumed some color, and his
voice, which, at first, had been faint, grew louder. But now, exhausted
by the effort, and by his profound emotion, he sank back on the pillow
and closed his eyes.

His wife bent over him, and wiped off the perspiration which covered his
brow in large drops. In the open door leading into the adjoining room,
appeared the kind face of the physician, who looked scrutinizingly at
the patient. He then nodded in a satisfied manner, and whispered to the
high-chamberlain: "Go on! go on! Tell him every thing. He can bear it."

Baron von Stein opened his eyes again and glanced at M. von Schladen.
"You did not yet tell me whence you came, my dear friend?" he said. "Was
your journey a mere pleasure-trip, or were graver purposes connected
with it?"

"It was no pleasure-trip, for what German cares nowadays for such
things?" said M. von Schladen. "My purpose, in undertaking this journey,
was not only a grave, but a sacred one. I undertook it for the welfare
of our country, and I come to solicit your advice. I know you loved
Prussia once; you will not, although you are no longer in her service,
withhold your sympathy from her, when you can be useful, you will
joyfully render her aid, will you not?"

"Yes, indeed I will," exclaimed Baron von Stein; "my thoughts were with
you all the time; my grief arises from your affliction and the
misfortunes of Prussia; every new blow inflicted upon her fell on me,
and her ruin prostrated me. Tell me, in what way can I aid you?"

"Your excellency, by assisting me in finding the man whom I am seeking;
on whom the eyes of all good Prussians are fixed, and who is alone able
to save the country, to reëstablish its prosperity at home, and to
obtain for it respect and authority abroad. The man whom the queen calls
her friend, and of whom she expects help--to whom the king offers his
hand, and whom he begs (understand me well, begs) to sustain him with
his strong arm and his powerful mind, and, for the sake of Prussia, not
to remember the wrongs he suffered in by-gone days--your excellency, I
am seeking this high-minded man, who forgets insults, and yet does not
close his ears against the cry of his country; whom adversity does not
deter, and whom the burden to be laid on his shoulders does not cause to
tremble; who forgets his own interests in order to have the satisfaction
of saving a state to which, from his youth, he has devoted his
strength--the man in whom all patriots confide, whom Hardenberg, when
Napoleon's despotic will compelled him to resign his office, pointed out
to the king as the only one by whom Prussia might still be redeemed.
Your excellency, can you tell me where I may find this man?"

While M. von Schladen was speaking, Stein slowly raised his head to
listen. His countenance had undergone a marvellous change; his features
had regained their wonted expression, and his eyes beamed with energy.

"Your excellency," asked Schladen again, "can you tell me where I may
find this man for whom all Prussia is calling?"

"You have not yet told me his name," whispered Baron von Stein. "To find
him it is necessary to know his name."

"His name is on this letter which the Princess von Radziwill requested
me to deliver to him," said Schladen, taking one from his
memorandum-book, and handing it to the patient.

Baron von Stein quickly took it, and, on looking at the superscription,
he muttered, "My name! my name is on the letter!"

"And it is your name that is now on all Prussian lips--that the queen is
calling from afar--that the king--"

"Ah," interrupted Baron von Stein, "the king has insulted me too deeply;
I should almost dishonor myself if I forget it!"

"You will shed the most radiant honor on your name by forgiving it,"
exclaimed M. de Schladen. "The king has commissioned me to tell you that
he hopes in you alone. He will intrust to you the department of the
interior and of finance; he assures you of his most implicit confidence;
he promises never to allude again to what has passed between him and
you. Here, your excellency, is a communication from Minister von
Hardenberg, which will confirm all I have said."

He laid another letter on the table. Baron von Stein took it and looked
at the address with a faint smile. "It is Hardenberg's handwriting," he
said; "he is a genuine courtier, and takes it always for granted that
the king's will is a sacred law for every one. He calls me already
'Prussian Minister of Finance.' And the queen?" he then asked, raising
his eyes to M. von Schladen. "What does she say? Does she believe, too,
that I can forget, forgive, and return?"

"The queen believes it, because she wishes it, your excellency. 'Stein
is my last consolation,' she said to me when I took leave of her. 'Being
a man of magnanimity and the keenest sagacity, he may be able to
discover ways and means of saving the country that are as yet concealed
from us. Tell him that, when he comes, the sun will rise again for me;
tell him to remember the sacred vow I received from him to stand
faithfully by us, and to come when Prussia stands in need of him, and
calls him to her assistance. Tell him that his queen prays Heaven to
restore to her country the man who is a defence against wrong and
injustice, and one of the noblest sons of Germany.'"

Baron von Stein cast down his eyes; his lips were trembling; and tears
rolled slowly down his cheeks.

"Your excellency," said M. von Schladen, urgently, "will you not read
the letters? That from the Princess Louisa von Radziwill will give you a
more graphic description of the present situation of the court than I am
able to do; the one from Minister von Hardenberg will tell you what to
do, and how important and necessary it is that you should come as
speedily as possible. In Hardenberg's letter you will also find a brief
note from General Blücher, who joins in these solicitations. I have been
permitted to read these letters, that, if they were lost on the way, I
should, nevertheless, be able to communicate their contents to you. Will
you not read them?"

"Yes," said Baron von Stein, breathing more freely, "I will read them.
They are the first doves that, after the long deluge of affliction, come
to me with an olive-branch of peace. I will see what the letters
contain." He hastily opened that from the Princess Louisa and commenced
reading it. But the paper soon dropped from his hand; a death-like
pallor overspread his cheeks, and, almost fainting, he fell back on the
pillow. "Alas," he murmured mournfully, "I forget that I am a poor, sick
man! I cannot read; the letters swim before my eyes!" But this faintness
lasted only a moment; Stein then raised his head again, and turned his
eyes with a tender expression toward his wife, who was sitting at his
bedside, and watching all his movements with anxious suspense. "Dear
Wilhelmina," he said, "you have been my secretary during the last few
weeks, and have rendered evil tidings less disagreeable to me; will you
not read these cheering letters to me?"

The baroness bent over him, and, in place of a reply, kissed his
forehead. She then read as follows:

"Your friend Hardenberg and the newspapers will have informed you of the
melancholy end of all our hopes. Cowardice and weakness, perhaps more
than the luck of our enemies, have subjugated us, and Hardenberg's
resignation, which he tendered voluntarily, in order to be useful to us
even by this sacrifice, and to preserve the king from the humiliation of
dismissing him, causes us to feel our yoke painfully. I promised to
write to you about the king. He deserves our sympathy at this moment;
his courage and firmness have not been shaken by our last disasters; he
was ready to make any sacrifice, because he thought it better to fall
nobly than to live dishonorably. He clung with sincere attachment to
your friend Hardenberg, and just at this moment when all are deserting
him, when he has neither power nor will, he loses this well-tried
friend, who, actuated by his love of the country, and affection for his
master, left him with a grief that deeply moved my heart. At this moment
the eyes of us all are turning toward you, my dear Stein. From you we
hope for consolation, and for forgetfulness of the wrongs which have
removed you from us, and which you will be too generous to remember at a
time when he who insulted you only deserves your sympathy and
assistance. Can you withstand our solicitations? Can you see this
country deserted, and refuse to it the co-operation of those talents
that alone are able to raise us from our prostration? Hardenberg sees no
other hope for his master than in you, and if you are not restored to
us--if you do not yield to the wishes of those yearning for you, what is
to become of our future?

"I admit that to call upon you to share our fortune is to deem you
capable of the greatest disinterestedness; for nothing has ever been
done by you to deserve the conduct formerly manifested toward you; but
your soul is too generous to remember those insults, and I know you too
well not to be sure that you will unhesitatingly come to the assistance
of this unfortunate prince, who for five months possesses just claims to
sympathy. Even at this juncture he maintains his dignity; he has gained
friends and zealous adherents, and appears to me never more estimable
than since these disasters, in which I have seen him assert a courage
and resignation of which I should never have deemed him capable. It
grieved me to see Hardenberg depart; he himself is very sad, and I am
sure that only the hope of restoring you to the service of his master
sustains him. Do not refuse to comply with our request, my dear Stein,
and be not as cruel as that destiny which is taking from us all the
distinguished characters that were able to reconcile us with life and
mankind. I look for your reply with impatience; may it be favorable to
us! It needs no assurance of mine to make you believe in the
affectionate and constant attachment which I have always felt for you.

"LOUISA."

Stein listened to the letter with eyes half closed. A faint blush had
gradually suffused his cheeks, and a smile was playing on his lips. "And
what do you think of this letter, Wilhelmina?" he then asked. "What does
your heart reply to this call?"

"I am fearful for you, my beloved friend," said the baroness,
mournfully. "My heart shrinks from this career into which you will
reenter, and in which you will be exposed again to ingratitude, and the
persecutions of your enemies."

"Not to ingratitude," said M. von Schladen. "All Prussia will be
grateful to you, and the king will be the first to thank and reward you
with his friendship for having complied with his invitation. Your
excellency, will you not read the letter from Minister von Hardenberg?
It will tell you in the most convincing manner how firmly you may rely
on the king and on his gratitude, and how necessary it is that you
should repair to him as soon as possible."

"No, no, I will not hear any more," exclaimed Stein, in a loud voice.
"It shall not be said that the flattering words of a friend induced me
to do what is my duty. Call the doctor; I must see the doctor!"

"The doctor is here," said Dr. von Waldau, entering the room. "When
patients are able to shout in such stentorian tones, they must indeed
stand in need of assistance."

"Doctor," exclaimed Stein, "come here; feel my pulse, look me full in
the face, and tell me, upon your honor, when I shall be able to set
out."

The physician took the proffered hand and laid his finger on the pulse.
A pause ensued; all looked in breathless suspense on his face. The
doctor smilingly nodded. "It has turned out as I predicted," he
exclaimed. "The 'genius of Germany' has come to our assistance, and
saved her bravest and noblest champion. The pulse is regular and strong,
as it has not been for weeks. The crisis for which I hoped so long has
taken place. Baron von Stein, in two weeks you will be well enough to
set out."

"In two weeks!" exclaimed the baron, in a contemptuous tone of voice.
"You did not hear, then, that Prussia stands in need of me; that the
king calls me, and that Hardenberg tells me it is of the highest
importance I should immediately enter upon the duties of my office? No,
I shall not depart in two weeks, nor in two days, but immediately!" He
raised himself in his bed, and imperiously stretching out his arms, he
exclaimed, "My clothes! I will rise! I have no more time to be sick!
Give me my clothes!"

"But my beloved friend," exclaimed the baroness, in dismay, "this is
impossible; just consider that the fever has exhausted your strength,
that--"

"Hush, do not contradict him," whispered the physician. "The
contradiction would irritate him, and might easily bring about a fresh
attack of fever."

"My clothes! my clothes!" exclaimed Baron von Stein, louder and more
imperiously than before, and he cast angry glances on his wife.

The physician himself hastened to the clothes-press, and, taking the
silken dressing-gown from it, carried it to the patient. "Here is your
dressing-gown," he said; "let me be your _valet de chambre_." Baron von
Stein thanked him with a smile, and lifted up his arms that the garment
might be wrapped around him.

"And here are your slippers," said the baroness; "let me put them on
your feet."

"And permit me to support you when you rise," said M. von Schladen,
approaching the bed. "Oh, lean on me only for a moment; afterward the
whole of Prussia will lean on you."

Baron von Stein made no reply. He put on the dressing-gown and the
slippers, and then raised himself, assisted by M. von Schladen. But his
face was pallid, and large drops of perspiration gathered on his
forehead. He left his couch, and stood free and erect. "I am well
again!" he exclaimed. "Prussia calls me! I am not allowed to be ill;
I--" His voice died away in a faint groan; his head bent down, and his
form sank to the floor. M. von Schiaden and the baroness caught him in
their arms, and placed him again on his bed.

"Doctor," exclaimed the baroness, in a menacing tone, "if he die, you
are his murderer; you have killed him!"

"No," said the physician, quietly, "I have saved him. This swoon is the
last struggle of death with triumphant life. When Baron von Stein awakes
he will be no longer seriously ill, but convalescent. When he is
conscious again, the crisis is over. See, he begins to stir! Ah, his
brave mind will not suffer his body to rest, and will assuredly awaken
it."

The baron very soon opened his eyes, and looked with a perfectly calm
and conscious expression, first at his wife, then at the physician and
the king's messenger. "M. von Schladen," he said, "will you read to me
Hardenberg's letter? Wilhelmina, lay your arm around me and support my
head a little. Waldau is right; I will not be able to set out to-day. I
am still very weak."

"But you will be able to set out in ten days," exclaimed the physician.
"You see I yield to you. I ask no longer for two weeks, but only for ten
days."

Baron von Stein gave him his hand with a grateful glance. "And now,
High-Chamberlain von Schladen, I request you to read once more
Hardenberg's communication." M. von Schladen looked inquiringly at the
physician, who nodded his consent.

"Read, read," said the baron, entreatingly, supporting his head against
his wife's shoulder. M. von Schladen opened the letter, and laid General
Blücher's note, enclosed in it, on the table and commenced reading.

The letter urgently requested Baron von Stein to accept the two
departments of finance and of the interior, which the king wished to
intrust to him because the welfare of Prussia required it. Besides,
Hardenberg asked Stein to repair immediately to the king, because it was
of the highest importance that the ears of Frederick William should not
be besieged again by hostile insinuations. He gave him cautious hints as
to the manner in which he would have to win the confidence of Frederick
William, and assured him that he would retain it, provided he never
pretended to rule over the king. He called upon him in the name of
Prussia and Germany not to decline the difficult task, but to fulfil the
hopes which patriots were reposing in him. He advised him to impose such
conditions as he might deem prudent before accepting the offer, and to
address a letter to his majesty in regard to them.

A pause ensued. Stein had listened to the words of his friends in
silence. All looked at him anxiously. His face was calm, and when he
slowly opened his eyes, they indicated entire composure.

"High-chamberlain von Schladen," asked Stein, "you have made the long
journey from Memel to this place for no other purpose than to deliver to
me these letters and the order of the king?"

"It was the only object of my journey," said M. von Schladen. "I
travelled by way of Copenhagen and Hamburg, in order to avoid French
spies."

"And when do you intend setting out again?" asked the baron.

"Your excellency, as soon as I have obtained a reply."

"Ah," exclaimed Stein, with a gentle smile; "you want to prevent me,
then, from writing immediately, that I may retain you for some time as a
welcome guest?"

"No, your excellency, let me entreat you to give me at once your reply
to the solicitations with which the king and the queen--all
Prussia--nay, all Germany turn to you, and implore you to lend to the
fatherland your strong arm."

"Alas, my hand is so feeble that it can scarcely hold a pen!" said Baron
von Stein, sighing. "Wilhelmina, you are always my kind and obliging
friend--will you now also lend me your hand, and be my secretary?"

The baroness cast a mournful and loving look on him. "I read in your
eyes," she said, sadly, "that you have made up your mind, and that, even
though I implore you to desist for my sake and that of our children, it
would be in vain. We shall lose you again; your house and my heart will
be lonely, and only my thoughts will travel with you! But it hardly
becomes me to dissuade you from your purpose. In these days of general
distress it does not behoove German patriots to confine themselves to
the happiness of their own firesides, and to shut their ears against the
cries of the fatherland. Your heart, I know, belongs to me. Your mind
and your abilities belong to the world. Go, then, my beloved husband,
and do your duty; I will fulfil mine." She kissed the baron's forehead,
and then stepped to the table at the window. "Your secretary is ready,"
she said, taking the pen; "tell me what to write."

Baron von Stein raised himself, and dictated in a firm voice as follows:

"TO THE KING'S MAJESTY:--Your gracious orders and the offer of the
department of the interior, have been communicated to me by a letter
from Minister von Hardenberg, _de dato_ Memel, July 10, which I received
on the 9th of August. I accept the office unconditionally, and leave it
to your royal majesty to arrange with what persons, or in what relations
to my colleagues, I am to discharge my duties. At this moment of my
country's distress it would be wrong to consult my own personal
grievances, particularly as your majesty manifests so exalted a
constancy in adversity.

"I should have set out immediately, but a violent tertian fever is
confining me to my bed; as soon as my health is better, which I trust
will be the case in ten days or two weeks, I shall hasten to your
majesty. Your obedient servant,

"STEIN."

Baron von Stein kept his word. Two weeks afterward, although still
suffering and feeble, he entered his travelling-coach to repair to
Memel, and to hold again in his powerful hands the reins of the Prussian
government.



CHAPTER XXXIII.

JOHANNES VON MÜLLER.


The French authorities had informed the municipality of Berlin that
peace had been concluded at Tilsit, between the Emperor of the French
and the King of Prussia. They ordered that the inhabitants of Berlin, in
view of this important event, should manifest their gratification in a
public manner. German singers were to perform a _Te Deum_ at the
cathedral in honor of this treaty, and at night the people were to show,
by a general illumination, that they rejoiced at the restoration of
peace. The rulers of the city had issued orders to this effect, and the
citizens were obliged to obey, although deeply affected by the
humiliating terms of the treaty, which the _Berlin Telegraph_ had
communicated in a jubilant editorial. The capital of Prussia had to
celebrate the disgrace of the country by a festive illumination. But the
public officials could not compel the people to give their hearts to
such outward rejoicings, or even to manifest their approval by their
presence. At the cathedral, the organist with his choristers sang the
ordered _Te Deum_ to the accompaniment of kettle-drums, but the church
was empty. Only the French officers and a few hired renegades witnessed
the solemnity.

At night, all Berlin was in a blaze of colored flame, but the streets
were deserted. No glad populace were thronging them--no cheering or
merry laughter was to be heard; only here and there, troops of French
soldiers were loitering and singing loudly; or a crowd of idlers, such
as are to be found wherever their curiosity can be gratified, and who,
devoid of honor and character, are the same in all cities. The better
classes remained at home, and disdained to cast even a fugitive glance
on the dazzling scene. Nowhere had more lights been kindled than were
ordered by the French authorities. At one house, however, on Behren
Street, a more brilliant illumination was to be seen; variegated lamps
were there artistically grouped around two busts that stood in strange
harmony, side by side, and excited the astonishment of all passers-by.
They were the busts of Frederick the Great and Napoleon, on whose
foreheads beamed the same radiant light. At this house lived Johannes
von Müller, the historian of Switzerland, who had caused this exhibition
to be made, and who surveyed his work with smiling face. "It is all
right," he said to himself, "it is a beautiful spectacle--those splendid
heads; and it does my heart good that I have succeeded in this annoyance
to my opponents. They shall see that I am not afraid of their attacks,
and that I am quietly pursuing my career, in spite of their slanders.
They call me a renegade, because I did not escape with the rest; they
call me a friend of the French, because I delivered a French address at
the Academy on the birthday of Frederick the Great, and their vulgar
minds were displeased because in that speech I dared to compare Napoleon
with Frederick. It is also distasteful to them that I have renounced the
title of secret councillor of war, and call myself, briefly and simply,
Johannes Müller. As if a title were not a superfluous addition to
Johannes Müller, whom Germany loved before he had a title, and whom she
will love when he has one no longer. Yes, my enemies envy my glory, they
call me a friend of the French simply because I do not abuse them in
their absence, and in their presence keep quiet and assume a stupid
indifference. I keep my hands free; I write openly; I am no hidden
reviler of the French, but a public worshipper of all that is sublime.
For this reason I have placed here, side by side, the busts of the two
greatest men to whom the last century has given birth. And now, great
heroes! shine upon me in the radiance which a man whom the people have
honored with the name of the German Tacitus, has kindled for you! Shed
your lustre on the city, and tell the Germans that Johannes von Müller
does homage to genius, regardless of nationality or birth! Watch over
the study of the historian, and while he works guard him from the
spirits of evil!" He waved his hands to the busts, and was about to sit
down to his books and papers, when his old servant entered to inform him
that a gentleman wished to see the councillor of war immediately.

"Michael Fuchs," exclaimed Müller, "how often have I told you not to
address me by that absurd title, which, I hope, I shall soon cast off as
the ripe chestnut its capsule. Councillor of War! For my part, I never
counselled any one to commence this senseless war, and now that there is
peace, I scarcely regard myself as a Prussian functionary; and yet you
continue repeating that ridiculous title!"

"Well, well," said the old servant, smiling, "when we received that
title four years ago, we were overjoyed and felt very proud. It is
true, times have changed, and I believe that Clarke, the French general,
with whom we dined again to-day, does not like the title much. We may,
therefore, cast it aside. But, sir, while we are quarrelling here, the
gentleman outside is waiting to be admitted."

"You are right, Michael Fuchs," said Johannes von Müller, in a gentle
tone, as if he desired to pacify him; "let the stranger come in."

Old Michael nodded pleasantly to his master. Opening the door and
stepping out, he said aloud: "Come in, sir! I have announced you, and M.
von Müller awaits you."

"He is a very good, faithful old fellow!" murmured Johannes von Müller,
meeting the visitor who was entering the room.

"Oh, M. von Nostitz," exclaimed Müller, joyously, "you here in Berlin! I
thought you were on your estates."

"I was not on my estates, but at Memel with our king," said M. von
Nostitz, gravely. "Honored with some commissions by his majesty, I have
arrived here, and as one of them concerns you, Mr. Councillor, I have
hastened to call upon you."

"The king, then, has received my letter at last and grants my
resignation?" asked Müller, quickly.

"The king has received your letter," replied M. von Nostitz.

"And my resignation? You come to notify me that it has been accepted?"
exclaimed Müller, impatiently.

"Then you are really in earnest about your request?" asked M. von
Nostitz, almost sternly. "I must tell you that none of us would believe
it, and that I have come to entreat you in the name of the king and the
queen--in the name of all your friends, who, faithful to their duty,
followed the royal couple, to change your mind and remain with us. The
queen, especially, refuses to believe that Johannes von Müller, the
great historian, who, but a few months ago, spoke and wrote for Prussia
with so ardent an enthusiasm, now intends to leave us voluntarily and to
escape in faithless egotism from the calamities that have overwhelmed us
all. I am to beg you in the name of the queen to remain with us. Her
majesty cannot and will not believe that you are in earnest about this
resolution to resign your office and leave the country. She has
commissioned me to beg you not to treat the state at this critical
juncture in so ignominious a manner as to despair of it, and assures you
that your salary will always be punctually paid. She admonishes you
through me to think of your numerous friends here, of the favorable
disposition of the Prussian government toward you, of the agreeable life
you are leading in Berlin, and, finally, of the work on Frederick the
Great, which you have just commenced, and to remain in the Prussian
service."

"The kindness and solicitude manifested by her majesty cannot but
profoundly touch my heart," exclaimed Müller, in a tremulous voice, "and
I wish from the bottom of my heart, which is truly loyal and devoted to
the royal house of Prussia, that I were allowed to comply with these
gracious words. Her majesty and all my friends know the high opinion and
sanguine hopes which I entertain with regard to Prussia, and that I feel
convinced Providence has intrusted to this state the championship of
truth, liberty, and justice in Germany."

"The queen is right also in saying that I am leading quite an agreeable
life here; and that Berlin, if it should become a great centre of
education for the north, would be a highly interesting place. It is very
true, too, that I have warm friends here; that I am living at a fine
villa; that I have no indispensable duties to perform every day, and
that my salary has hitherto been promptly paid. But I confess I feel
attracted toward my dear friends in Southern Germany and Switzerland. I
am longing for peace and quiet, to finish my history of the land of
Tell, but here I do not see any prospect of it. I am afraid, on the
contrary, that the ferment and commotion of affairs will last a good
while yet. I have been assured that important reforms and reductions in
the financial administration of the country are in contemplation, and
that men of high rank, who have served the state for half a century, and
are by no means wealthy, will suffer; how, then, could I hope that these
reforms would leave me untouched, when I have been but three years in
the Prussian service?"

"That is to say, you are afraid of losing your salary, notwithstanding
the queen's assurances?" asked M. von Nostitz.

"That is to say, I am unfortunately not rich enough to be contented with
less; I have nothing but my salary, and have to pay my debts with it.
When Prussia lost two-thirds of her revenues, I offered to give up my
position here, which yields me an income of three thousand dollars. I
believe that was honorable, and will cast no reproach on my character
and sentiments."

"That is to say, sir, you tendered your resignation because the King of
Würtemberg offered you a professorship at the University of Tübingen."

"But I should never have accepted it had I not deemed it incumbent upon
me not to receive any money at the hands of Prussia at a time when her
exchequer is hardly able to pay the salary of a superfluous savant. Take
into consideration that, when I accept this offer, which would first
necessitate my removal from the Prussian service, I cannot assuredly be
charged with having done so from motives of avarice. Other reasons impel
me to leave a pleasant position in the finest city of Germany, and move
to a small university town, where I shall have only half the salary I am
receiving here. I shall live in a remote corner of the world, but be
enabled to lead a calm, undisturbed life, and finish the works I have
commenced."

"All my remonstrances, the wishes of the queen, the exhortations of your
friends, are in vain, then?" asked M. von Nostitz.

"I requested his majesty the King of Prussia in an autograph letter to
accept my resignation," said Müller, evasively; "I want, above all, a
categorical reply whether I must remain or go."

"You may go, sir," exclaimed Nostitz, almost contemptuously. Taking a
paper from his memorandum-book, he added, "here, sir, is your
dismission. I was ordered to deliver it into your hands only when my
solicitations and the representations made in the name of the queen
should make no impression upon you. You are free; the king dismisses you
from the service; Prussia has nothing further to do with you. Seek your
fortune elsewhere; your glory you will leave here. Farewell!" Saluting
him haughtily, and without giving him time to reply, M. von Nostitz
turned and left the room.

Johannes von Müller gazed after him with a long, mournful look. "Another
man who will charge me before my friends and before the world with
treachery, perfidy, and meanness!" he said, shrugging his shoulders.
"Oh, stupidity and empty words! They want to accuse me of treachery
because it suits them best, and because they refuse to comprehend that a
poor savant ought at least to be protected from want in order to be able
to live for science. A reduction of salaries and pensions is impending;
I owe it to myself and to the works I have commenced, to provide against
this misfortune, and to seek a place where I can labor without being
disturbed, and, thank God! I have found it. Now I may go to Tübingen,
for I am free!" He took the paper from the table, and hastily breaking
the seal read the contents. "Yes," he repeated, "I am free! I can go.
All hail Tübingen! so near the Alps, so near the grand old forest! In
thy tranquillity I will return to my early enthusiasm as to the bride of
my youth! My history of Switzerland will at last be completed and
bequeathed to posterity! Already methinks I breathe the pure air of the
mountains; and sunny Italy, while I cannot return to her, invites me to
thee, quiet Tübingen!"

Johannes von Müller did not perceive that, while he was speaking to
himself, the door behind him had softly opened, and a gentleman, wrapped
in a cloak, his face shaded by a broad-brimmed hat, had entered the room
and overheard the last words. The savant, staring at the muscular form
of this stranger, drew back in surprise. "What does this mean?" he
muttered. "Where is Michael Fuchs?"

"Michael Fuchs is outside, and considers it very natural that an old
friend should desire to surprise his master rather than be solemnly
announced," said the stranger, approaching and taking off his hat.

"Frederick von Gentz!" exclaimed Müller, in a joyful voice, yet not
altogether free from fear. "My friend, you dare to come hither, and yet
you must know that the emperor of the French is highly exasperated at
you; that he believes you to be the author of all sorts of seditious
pamphlets, and that it would be very agreeable to him to have you
arrested and confined."

"Yes, it is true," said Gentz, in his careless, merry way, "Napoleon
Bonaparte does me the honor of being afraid of me and my pen, and would
like to render me harmless, as he did poor Palm. Once I was in imminent
danger of falling into the hands of his police, and I escaped in
disguise, but only after a great deal of trouble."

"And yet you dare to come to the seat of the French administration in
Germany?" exclaimed Müller. "Oh, my friend, your danger nearly deprives
me of the delight I feel in seeing you again, and I have to mingle my
loving salutations with warnings and presentiments!"

"You are right; I was rather bold in entering the cobweb of the French
spiders," said Gentz. "Still, it is not so dangerous as you believe, and
you may be perfectly at ease so far as I am concerned. I am here with a
charming lady friend, the Princess Bagration. I figured on her passport
as her private secretary, and have a regular Russian one of my own,
purporting to be issued to M. de Gentzowitch. Besides, no one suspects
me here; we have just arrived, and will leave Berlin to-morrow before
daybreak to return to Dresden. We are now at peace with France, and the
authorities here will hardly dare to lay hands on a subject of the
Emperor of Russia, the friend and admirer of the Emperor of the French.
You see, therefore, you need not be afraid about me, and I may safely
chat with you for an hour here in your study."

"Then, my dear friend, let me welcome you," exclaimed Müller; "let us
enjoy this hour, and renew the pledge of friendship." Müller welcomed
Gentz with great cordiality, but the latter did not share the ardor of
his friend.

"You have remained faithful to our reminiscences?" Gentz asked, as
Müller led him to the sofa, and sat by his side. "You have not forgotten
the past, and your heart still retains its old friendship?" While
uttering these words, he fixed his dark eyes on the face of Johannes von
Müller, who seemed not to be able to bear his steadfast gaze, and became
embarrassed.

"Oh, my friend!" he exclaimed, "how can you ask whether I remember other
days? My heart frequently feels exalted at the idea of friendship, which
so few can appreciate at its true value. What attachment was that of
Jonathan, himself a victorious warrior, for Jesse's noble son! How great
Jonathan was, who knew that the throne of Israel would pass from his
house to David! I was always affected by David's exclamation at
Jonathan's death. I thought of it just now. And Scipio had a
disinterested friendship for Lælius, although he was aware that envious
men desired to rob him of the glory of having conquered Carthage, and
ascribed every thing to the skilful plans of Lælius. Just as if, when I
narrate the heroic deeds of our ancestors, some one should say, 'The
best passages were written by his friend!' What Scipio felt was once
illustrated, at a private dinner, by Ferdinand of Brunswick, the hero of
Crefeld and Minden. He also had a friend, and to him were attributed the
successes of the prince. Ferdinand himself smilingly said to me,
'Between real friends it is a matter of indifference to whom the credit
is given.' Oh, the spirits of David, Jonathan, and Scipio, must have
rejoiced at these words as heartily as I did. So, my dear Gentz, you ask
me whether I have forgotten our friendship?"

"Words, words!" exclaimed Gentz, indignantly. "Instead of deeds, you
have nothing but words. I will speak to you plainly, and with the
sincerity of a true German. That is what I have come for."

"Like a true German?" repeated Müller. "Are there still any true
Germans? Are they not by this time extinct, leaving behind only slaves
and renegades? This is not the age for true Germans, and if any really
exist, they ought to hide themselves and be silent."

"And you can say that--you who once called so enthusiastically for
deeds?" exclaimed Gentz, indignantly. "Listen to me, Johannes von
Müller! I tell you once more, it is for your sake that I have come. I
wanted to appear before you either as your guilty conscience or as your
friend, as your judge or as your ally. I refused to believe in all that
was told me about you. I would trust only my own ears, my own eyes.
Johannes von Müller, I have come to ask you: Do you still remember the
oath we took in so solemn a manner at Frankfort?"

"I do," said Johannes von Müller, timidly. "Carried away by the
enthusiasm of our hopes, we covenanted for the welfare of Germany, and
especially for her deliverance from foreign tyranny."

"We swore to unite in active love for Germany, and in active hatred
against France," exclaimed Gentz, solemnly. "I have fulfilled my oath; I
have toiled incessantly for the deliverance of Germany. The persecutions
I have suffered at the hands of the French, and Napoleon's wrath, speak
for me! I have well improved my time. But what have you done? Where are
the friends enlisted for our covenant? Where are the allies gathered
around you to assist against France? The time for action is coming, and
we must be ready to fight the battle and expel the tyrant. Johannes von
Müller, where are the troops you have enlisted--the men you have gained
over to our cause?"

"I have enlisted no troops--prepared no battles, and concentrated no
corps," said Müller, sighing. "On the battle-field of Jena lie buried
not only our soldiers, but our hopes. The disaster is boundless; name,
rights, existence--all gone! A new order of things is at hand. The great
period of many monarchies, since the downfall of the Roman empire, is
closed. No other path to prosperity and glory remains to us than that of
the arts of peace; we cannot succeed by war."

"It is true, then," exclaimed Gentz, mournfully, "that you are a traitor
and a renegade, and have not been slandered! You have not only lost your
faith, but the consciousness of your perfidy! Oh, I refused to believe
it; I thought it was impossible. I did have confidence in you. It was
well known to me that you had long since lost your courage and
inclination to struggle for our cause. I was also aware that, even
before the commencement of the war between Prussia and France, your
irresolution and timidity had increased. I was not greatly surprised,
therefore, that you remained at Berlin when all faithful men left the
capital, or, as some assert, you returned hither agreeably to an
invitation from the French. After this, I was no longer astonished at
seeing you repudiate your principles, your glory, your friends, the
cause of Germany, every thing great and good that you had advocated for
years, and truckle in the most cowardly manner to the conqueror, carry
on disgraceful secret negotiations with him, and issue equivocal
declarations and confessions; but that you should betray all that ought
to be dear to you--that you should publicly renounce your principles--of
such treachery I never deemed you capable!"

"And where did I commit any such treachery?" asked Müller,
reproachfully; "where did I secretly or publicly renounce all that had
hitherto been dear to me? Tell me, accuse me! I will justify myself!
This will show you how ardently I love you, for I will accept you as a
judge of my actions, and allow you to acquit me or to find me guilty."

"Be it so!" exclaimed Gentz. "I do not stand before you as an
individual; but as the voice of Germany--of posterity, that will judge
and condemn you if you are unable to justify yourself. Listen to the
charges, and reply to them! Why did you remain in Berlin when the court
fled; when all those who were loyal to the king and his cause left the
capital, because they refused to bow their heads to the French yoke?"

"I remained because I did not see any reason for fleeing. I am no
prominent politician; politics, on the contrary, are only a matter of
secondary importance to me. My principal sphere is science, and every
thing connected with it. Now I was better able to serve it here than
elsewhere. I had my books here, and a large number was on the way to me;
accordingly, I had to wait for them; besides I had commenced studying
the royal archives of Berlin to obtain material for my history of
Frederick II. These are the reasons why I remained, and I confess to you
that I had no cause to repent of it. No one injured me, or asked any
thing dishonorable of me; no one insisted on my doing any thing
incompatible with my duty and loyalty; on the contrary, all treated me
politely. They seemed to regard me as one of the ancients, living only
in and for posterity. Never before was the dignity of historical science
honored in a more delicate manner than by the treatment I received at
the hands of the French. Thus, amid the crash of falling thrones, I have
quietly continued at my history of Switzerland, written articles for
several reviews, and made extracts from many of the ancient classics,
from the whole _Muratorian Thesaurus_, and from other printed and
manuscript volumes. This, my friend, is a brief sketch of the quiet and
retired life I have led since the disastrous day of Jena."

"You forgot to mention several essential points in your sketch," said
Gentz, sternly. "You did not allude to your friendly intercourse with
Napoleon's prætorians; you forgot even to refer to the remarkable visit
you paid to the Emperor of the French. How could you, who so recently in
public addresses had called upon every one to rise against the
usurper--how could you dare to enter the lion's lair without fearing
lest he strike you dead by a single blow? Napoleon Bonaparte might
invite me twenty times in the most flattering manner, I should still
take care to refuse, for I feel convinced that I should never return.
The bullets that struck Palm's breast would be remoulded for me. How did
it come that you did not feel any such apprehensions? How could you hope
that the French would forgive your former Prussian patriotism, unless
you had made concessions to them--unless you had proved recreant to the
cause to which you had hitherto adhered?"

"I made no concessions. They were unnecessary; no one asked me to make
them," said Johannes von Müller, gently. "I remained in Berlin, because
I was unable to flee with my whole library, and because I was no more
bribed by France than by England, or any other power."

"Ah, I understand you; you will now turn the table, and accuse me
instead of justifying yourself. It is a very common thing nowadays to
tell marvellous stories about the large sums with which England has
bribed me to speak and write against the usurper, who tramples upon our
freedom and nationality. You can scarcely open a newspaper without
finding in it, side by side with eulogies of the great German historian,
and of the gratifying manner in which 'Napoleon, the hero, whose
eagle-eye discerns every thing, knew how to appreciate his merits,'
systematic attacks against me, and allusions to the rumor that I had
been bribed by England."

"I did not intend accusing you," said Müller. "I am only justifying
myself; first, as to my remaining here, and, secondly, as to the visit I
paid to the Emperor Napoleon. He sent for me, and, rest assured, I did
nothing whatever to bring about this invitation. Ought I to have
refused? He did not say a word about the king, the queen, myself, my
wishes or plans. Dear friend, will you permit me to relate to you the
particulars of my interview with Napoleon? Will you listen to me
quietly, so as to judge for yourself whether that visit, which has been
censured so severely, was really so great a crime, so terrible a
perfidy against Germany, as my enemies have seen fit to pretend?"

"Speak! I told you already that I come to accuse you in the name of
Germany and of posterity, and to listen to your justification."



CHAPTER XXXIV.

THE CALL.


Johannes von Müller shook his head, and as he spoke his voice grew
louder and his face kindled with enthusiasm. "M. Alexander von Humboldt
had made me acquainted with the French minister of state, M. Maret, who
frequently invited me, with Humboldt and some other _savants_, to dine
with him, and seemed to like my conversation. One morning he called to
inform me that the Emperor Napoleon desired to receive me at seven
o'clock in the evening. At the hour appointed I rode to Maret, and was
introduced to Napoleon, who was seated by himself on a sofa; several
persons, unknown to me, stood in a remote corner of the room. The
emperor commenced by referring to the history of Switzerland, and told
me I ought to finish it, because the more recent period of the history
of that country was by no means devoid of interest. From Swiss history
we passed to the history and constitution of ancient Greece, to the
theory of constitutions, to the striking difference of those of the
Asiatic nations, and the causes of this difference, to be found in the
climate and in polygamy, to the widely different characters of the Arabs
(whom the emperor extolled very highly), and the Tartars, which led us
to the invasions always threatening civilization from that side, and the
necessity of raising a bulwark against them. We then spoke of the real
value of European culture, and stated that there never had been greater
freedom, security of property, humanity, and better times in general,
than since the fifteenth century; further, that there was a mysterious
concatenation in all terrestrial events, that every thing was directed
by the inscrutable dispensations of an invisible hand, and that the
emperor himself had become great by the very actions of his enemies. We
referred to the great confederation of nations, an idea that had already
been entertained by Henry IV.; to the sources and necessity of religion;
we said that man was, perhaps, not able to bear the whole dazzling
truth, and required to be kept in bounds; but that, nevertheless, it was
possible to bring about a happy order of things if the numerous wars
ceased that had been produced by constitutions too intricate, such as
that of Germany, and by the intolerable burdens imposed on nations by
large standing armies. A great many other things were said, and, in
fact, almost all countries and nations were alluded to. The emperor
spoke at first in his ordinary tone, but in a lower voice as the
conversation became more interesting, so that I had to bend down, and no
one else could have understood what he said. I myself shall never repeat
several statements he made on this occasion. I contradicted him
repeatedly, and he entered into a discussion with me.

"If I am to speak impartially, I must say that Napoleon's knowledge, the
correctness of his observations, his understanding, the grandeur of his
views, filled me with admiration, while the amiable manner in which he
spoke to me could not but enlist my affection. A few marshals and the
Prince de Benevento in the mean time entered the room, but he did not
interrupt himself. After I had conversed with him about an hour and a
half, he ordered the concert to commence, and I do not know whether it
was a mere accident or whether he did so to oblige me, but he asked the
musicians to play Swiss airs, and among them the _Ranz des Vaches_. He
then bowed to me kindly, and left the room. I must confess I was
fascinated. Since my conference with Frederick II., twenty-four years
ago, I never had a more interesting interview, at least none with a
prince; if my memory does not deceive me, the emperor's conversation was
even more solid and comprehensive than that of Frederick, who did not
conceal his admiration for the views of Voltaire. For the rest,
Napoleon's tone is firm and vigorous, but there is as winning an
expression about his mouth as there was about that of Frederick. It was
one of the most remarkable days of my life. Napoleon conquered me, too,
by his genius and unaffected kindness. This, my friend," said Müller,
"is a faithful account of what occurred during my visit to him, and how
I was charmed by his genius."

"Woe to you that he succeeded!" exclaimed Gentz--"that he confused your
understanding and infatuated your judgment. Are you, then, really in
earnest about this admiration and fulsome praise of a man whom you
abhorred formerly--to whom at Frankfort you vowed everlasting
hatred--whom, in your wrath, you called the scourge that was torturing
us, that we might be aroused from our stupor? Do you now seriously
praise him as the great genius to whom we ought to do homage and bow as
humble worshippers?"

"Yes, I say that Providence has intrusted to him the most sublime
mission," exclaimed Müller. "I feel convinced that God has given him the
empire of the world. Never before has this been more apparent than in
the late war, in which he obtained victories with which only those of
Arbela and Zama can be compared. Inasmuch as the old and rusty order of
things was doomed to disappear, it was fortunate that these victories
were vouchsafed to Napoleon and to a nation that is distinguished for
its culture, and appreciates the toils of learned men far more readily
than other nations. Just as little as Cicero, Livy, and Horace,
concealed from the great Cæsar, or from Augustus, that they had formerly
been opposed to him, have I concealed that I had belonged to a different
party, or rather entertained different views, which, the issues being
decided, I willingly give up, ready, if not to coöperate in, at least to
become the impartial historian of the reorganization of the world. Now,
it is an inexpressibly edifying occupation to raise our eyes from the
ruins of Europe to the whole connection of history--to seek for the
causes of events, and boldly to remove a little the veil that covers the
probable future. These ideas seem to me so grand and gratifying that
they fill my soul, absorbing all my reflections. Thus I try to prepare
as well as I can for what is to come. History teaches me that, when the
time for a great change arrives, resistance against it is utterly
useless. True wisdom consists in a correct perception of the signs of
the times, and true virtue is not transformed into vice when this or
that phase passes away. The ruler of the world will certainly never
overlook him who demonstrates his manhood, and whose skill and courage
entitle him to human respect."

"Yes," exclaimed Gentz, laughing scornfully, "you are indeed a true man!
When the country was overwhelmed with calamities--when your friends,
whom your clarion-notes once led to the charge--when the royal couple
that had overwhelmed you with manifestations of kindness and esteem, and
all the loyal and faithful fled, you acted like a true man! You only
thought of yourself and your personal interests, and forgot what you
once swore to me, and in reference to which I stand before you at this
hour. Johannes von Müller, I renounce you forevermore! Germany will
accept no further services at your hands, even though you should desire
to espouse her cause again, for no one reposes confidence in the
faithless. Posterity will honor Johannes von Müller, the historian; but
they will despise Johannes von Müller, the man. I know you now
thoroughly. Your whole character is a strange error nature committed in
uniting intellect of extraordinary strength with one of the feeblest
souls. The many sublime thoughts, the ingenious and often profound
combinations which for many years have characterized your pen, were
apparently intended only for others; you yourself derive no benefit from
them. You are, and will ever be, the plaything of every accidental and
momentary impression. Always ready to acknowledge and embrace whatever
came near you, you were never able to feel either enduring hatred or
attachment. Your life is a mere capitulation. If the Evil One himself
should appear on earth in visible form, I could show him the way by
which he could league with you within twenty-four hours. The true source
of your inconsistency is the fact that, separated from all good and true
men, and surrounded by knaves and fools, you see and hear nothing but
what is ignoble and false. If you could have made up your mind to leave
Berlin, you would probably have been saved. Your real guilt consists in
your staying here; the remainder of your faults were only consequences
of it. Whether this judgment is more lenient or rigorous, more
mortifying or honorable, than that which you may expect at the hands of
the public, I will not decide. As for myself, it is conclusive."

"But it is not for me," exclaimed Müller, with grave dignity. "I forgive
you the insults you have thrown into my face; and, instead of turning
away from you in silence, and in the consciousness of right, I will
address you a last word of justification; for you know full well that I
have loved you, and my heart renounces reluctantly its dream of
friendship. You have preferred serious charges against me; you have
threatened me with the judgment of posterity; but posterity will have
better ideas of justice than you, whose eyes are blinded by partisan
feelings and political hatred. It is true, I have said on every page of
my works that men ought not to shrink from sacrificing their lives for
their country, for truth, and justice; but I am unconscious of having
done any thing to the contrary, nor have I ever been exposed to such an
alternative. Never have I changed my principles. What I desired when I
entered into the covenant with you at Frankfort, was to bring about a
firm alliance between Austria and Prussia, and thereby to transform
Germany into a strong power, interposing the two great empires. For that
purpose I have striven, acted, spoken, and written. My utterances were
not listened to, and the year 1805 destroyed all my hopes. The times
changed, but my principles did not, based as they are on the great truth
of all possible liberty, dignity, and happiness for the nations,
according to their different circumstances and peculiarities. Never,
however, did I permit personal considerations to influence me; I wrote
for Prussia in the good cause of the princes' league, and against
Prussia in the bad one of the separate peace. It is true, I was not
quiet with regard to the blunders committed: I did not encourage the mad
expectations of the war-party, and was opposed to misleading the public
by false rumors and inflammatory appeals. I desired the truth, and
proclaimed it; but the so-called German patriots think I ought to have
kept silence. When the Jews were warned with tearful eyes to submit to
the conqueror, into whose hands Providence had delivered Asia for a
certain time, they deemed it patriotic to persecute the prophet, but
Jerusalem was burned. Why did he not keep silence? Because God commanded
him to speak. That is the servility, the faithlessness, and treachery
with which I am now reproached. Hypocrites! Every crime has its motive.
Did I intend to increase my glory? Certainly not. It was self-interest,
then? Yes!--to give up the beautiful city of Berlin, the title of
councillor of war, and a salary of three thousand dollars, doubtless to
go to Paris and receive a large pension from the French government! No!
but to accept a professorship of two thousand florins in the little town
of Tübingen, and to have the honor to work hard to pay my debts! That is
the brilliant position which is asserted to have induced me to sacrifice
my nation, my liberty, and my honor. I am tired of sacrificing myself,
of toiling incessantly, and of being exposed to danger, in an ungrateful
age and for a degenerate nation, cowardly in deed, slanderous in word,
and senseless in hope. A supreme intelligence is ruling over us; one era
is past; another is approaching, and of what character it will be,
depends on our own reformation! It was Providence that sent Napoleon as
the instrument of the transition."

"I acquiesce in the dispensation of God, who, during the latter
centuries, has so ordered events as to prevent mankind from receding
from the degree of civilization they had attained. The people must take
heart, concentrate their moral and mental strength, and devote
themselves to the culture of the peaceful and the good. That is my last
confession. If you understand me, and it satisfies you, give me your
hand, and we are reconciled; if you wish to continue to misrepresent me
and condemn my course, farewell! for, in that case, our paths diverge
forever."

"Let us, then, pursue different paths!" exclaimed Gentz, contemptuously,
taking his hat and preparing to leave. "I go, but not without painful
emotion. Let your heart, in memory of the past, tell you whether I have
judged correctly. I feel what it is to lose you! As a friend of
patriotism, I pass an inexorable sentence on you; as a man, as your
former friend, I feel nothing but compassion--to hate you is beyond my
power. If God fulfil our wishes, and crown my efforts and those of my
companions, then there will be but one punishment for you, and it will
be terrible. Law and order will return, the robber and the usurper be
humbled, and Germany, flourishing under the rule of wise sovereigns,
will again be free; but you will have to stand aloof, and never be
permitted to join in the sacred hymns of our patriots! Farewell!" He
turned and hastily left the room.

Johannes von Müller gazed after him mournfully. "I have lost another
friend! Ah, I wish I could escape into the grave from all this
turmoil--these painful misunderstandings and broken friendships."
Standing silent, he placed his hand over his tearful eyes. "No," he
said; "I will not despair! The hand of Providence is everywhere; it will
support and protect me. I have lost a friend; very well, I will return
to my immortal friends--to the ancients! They never cease to instruct
and strengthen me by their exalted sentiments." He stepped to his desk,
and, sitting down, seized one of the large open volumes. "Come and
console me, Juvenal," he exclaimed, enthusiastically. "You are to me
rather a new friend, whom I have learned but lately to understand
thoroughly. O Juvenal! let the fire burning in your works warm my heart,
and invigorate me by your words, which are among the priceless treasures
of mankind!" He bent over the book and commenced reading. His face,
which, at first, had been melancholy, soon assumed a serene and almost
good-humored expression, and, forgetful of the present, he became
entirely absorbed in reading the Roman author.

All was silent in his room. The busts of Napoleon and Frederick looked
down on the illuminated but deserted street, as if they were guarding
the great historian from any evil thoughts or cowardly despondency that
perchance might disturb his thoughts. Suddenly a horseman galloped up,
and a carriage approached the house. Two gentlemen alighted and entered.
Johannes von Müller saw and heard nothing. He read and copied such
passages from old Juvenal as pleased him best.

Some one rapped violently at the door, and a deep voice called out in
French, "May I enter?"

"General Clarke!" exclaimed Johannes von Müller, almost in dismay,
starting up and rushing toward the door; but, before he reached it, the
French governor of Berlin, General Clarke, appeared, followed by a young
orderly, whose dusty uniform told that he had just left the highway and
the saddle.

"M. Johannes von Müller," exclaimed Clarke, cordially nodding, and
offering his hand to the _savant_. "See what I bring you!"

"Well," asked Müller, in surprise, "what does your excellency bring?"

"I bring you a courier whom the minister of state, M. Maret, by order of
the emperor has sent you, and who has been hunting for you all over
Germany. At Frankfort he was informed you were already at Tübingen, and
on arriving there he learned that you had not yet left Berlin, although
you had been expected for six months."

"I could not go," said Müller; "I had not yet received my dismissal; it
arrived only to-day."

"It is well it came to-day," exclaimed Clarke; "it has arrived just in
time. My friend," he added, turning to the courier, "this is M. von
Müller; deliver the letter into his hands."

The courier produced a large letter to which an official seal was
attached. "When can you let me have the reply?" he asked. "I have been
instructed to return to Paris without delay."

"The reply?" said Müller. "But I do not yet know the question?"

"My learned friend," exclaimed Clarke, laughing, "this game of questions
and answers with Napoleon resembles a thunderstorm; almost as soon as
the flash is seen, the thunder is heard. There must be no hesitation--no
delay. It is the emperor that asks. Permit the courier, in the mean
time, to retire into the anteroom. On crossing it, I noticed a sofa. You
will permit him to take a little rest until your reply is ready. I have
also commissioned your servant to fetch a glass of wine and some food.
You must take into consideration that the poor fellow has been on
horseback, day and night, and has but just left the saddle."

"Go, sir," exclaimed Müller, in an impressive voice, "take a little rest
and some food. I am sorry that I have caused you so much trouble."

"And now, sir," said Clarke, when the courier had left the room, "read
the letter from Minister Maret."

Johannes von Müller broke the seal and opened the paper with a trembling
hand. While he was reading, a blush suffused his face, and an
exclamation of joyful surprise burst from his lips. "This letter
contains extraordinary news! I am to go to Paris! I am to receive an
important office that I have never solicited!"

"Yes, sir, you are to go to Paris, and, as speedily as possible," said
Clarke, smiling. "I also received a letter from the minister by this
courier, and his excellency requests me to have you set out without
delay. It is the emperor's order, sir, and must be complied with. His
majesty himself has appointed you to the exalted position which you are
to fill at the court of his brother, the King of Westphalia. Jerome's
kingdom sprang from the soil of Germany in a night; hence it is right
that you should be his minister of public instruction. That is the
office to be intrusted to you, sir. The emperor has so ordered it. He
promised his brother a minister of the German nation."

"I, a poor book-worm, who have had more intercourse with the dead than
the living--I am to become a minister! That will not do. I lack the
necessary ability and experience."

"Nonsense, sir!" exclaimed Clarke; "when the emperor bestows an office
on a man, he gives him the understanding required for it. Hesitation is
injurious, because it only postpones your departure. Please notice that
you have not been asked whether you wish to accept or not, but that the
emperor orders your presence, and that quickly. I shall lend you my own
travelling-coach, and send my secretary with you. You will travel by way
of Mentz and Strasburg, and in five days you must be at Fontainebleau,
where the emperor is awaiting you to give you further instructions.
Well, when do you intend to set out?"

"When shall I set out? I feel as one dreaming, or as if all this were
the play of my imagination."

"You will have to admit, however, that it is at least brilliant. It is
worth while, I should think, to make a journey to Paris to receive the
appointment of cabinet-minister. I ask you again: When will you set out?
Remember, it is the emperor that calls you."

"Oh, then he has not forgotten me, the great man!" exclaimed Müller.
"After so many victories, he still remembers that interview in which I
learned to admire him. I must not be ungrateful for so gratifying a
remembrance. Only sublime and salutary ideas spring from the head of
Jove; hence, I submit in every respect to his will, and shall go to him
to receive his orders and comply with his wishes."

"Well said!" exclaimed Clarke. "You will set out to-morrow morning. I
shall prepare every thing that is necessary. But, remember, the courier
is waiting for your reply. Quick, my friend! write an answer to the
minister. But few words are required. Just say to him: 'Your excellency,
I come!' That will be sufficient."

Johannes von Müller, almost intoxicated with delight, hastened to his
desk, and wrote a few lines. "I have written what you told me," he said,
smiling, and handing the paper to the general. "I have written: 'Your
excellency, I come!'"

"Now fold it up and direct it," said Clarke.

Müller did so, and gave the sealed letter to Clarke: "Well, general,
here is the letter--I deliver it into your hands, and with it my
future."

"Mr. Minister, permit me to congratulate you," said Clarke, smiling,
and, going to the door, he gave the letter to the courier.

"Minister!" said Johannes von Müller, with a joyful air, "I am to be a
minister!" But suddenly his face became gloomy. "Alas!" he murmured,
"now my country will call me a traitor indeed, and Gentz will seem to be
right in denouncing me as an apostate, and accusing me of having
tendered my resignation to obtain a more lucrative office. Well, no
matter," he exclaimed, after a pause, "let them denounce and slander me!
My conscience acquits me, and I may be permitted, after all, to be
useful to Germany in my new position. May God in His mercy guide me!"



CHAPTER XXXV.

FINANCIAL CALAMITIES.


"Heaven be praised that you are again restored to us!" exclaimed the
queen, smiling gratefully, and offering her hand to Minister von Stein.
"Oh, believe me, such a sunbeam is welcome to us in these dreary days of
Memel."

"It is true," said Stein, sighing. "Your majesty has passed disastrous
days, and I am glad that I am able again to assist my adored queen in
her troubles."

She shook her head mournfully. "I do not believe in the possibility of
any alleviation or change. We have suffered great misfortunes, and
greater may befall us. Since the days of Jena and Auerstadt our sorrows
have increased. We are constantly experiencing some new humiliation;
even the treaty of Tilsit is not the climax of our calamities. They come
as an avalanche, and sometimes I wish to be buried beneath them."

"Then the last ray of hope for Prussia would disappear," said Stein.
"If your majesty desert us, we are irretrievably lost, for your life,
your courage, and your spirit, are the support of your husband. Without
Louisa, Prussia and her king would perish."

"Oh, it is true he loves me," cheerfully exclaimed the queen. "The king
treats me more affectionately than ever. And that is great happiness
after a wedded life of fourteen years! I will be grateful to him as long
as I live, and to Prussia for loving me. But, alas! I have no other
thanks for them than my devotion and my prayers!"

"You have still your courage and a strong hope in the future of your
country. You must animate the desponding and strengthen the weak. Let
that be your majesty's great and holy duty."

"You are right, I must not despair," responded the queen, "and I thank
you for having admonished me. Oh, it is sometimes very difficult to bear
such disasters, and I feel that my health is giving way more and more.
And tell me where am I to look for consolation? The storm is upon us,
and where shall we find a refuge? How shall we escape the thunderbolt?"

"In our hopes for a more glorious future," said Stein, energetically.

"Future!" exclaimed Louisa. "There is no future without independence,
and where is that to be found to-day? All are slaves and bow in the most
abject humility to a master who, in his turn, is but the slave of his
own boundless ambition and arrogance, and, alas! there is no man living
who would dare to set bounds to them! Do you know how disdainfully our
envoy, M. von Knobelsdorf, was treated? He was utterly unable to prefer
his remonstrances and prayers that Prussia might be protected from
further extortion, and that the French armies might be withdrawn.
Napoleon received him but once, and then, as it were, accidentally. The
Prince of Baden and Cambacères were in the room, and our ambassador was
no more noticed than a crumb of bread. The emperor's attendants treated
him in the same manner, and Minister Champagny remarked to Knobelsdorf
that they would see how Prussia behaved. He hoped we would comply as
much as possible with the emperor's wishes, for such a course would
alone be likely to give us relief, and that we ought to blame no one but
ourselves. Are you aware of this, and are you still hopeful and speak of
a happy future?"

"Yes, I am aware of all this, and it is precisely for this reason I
speak as I do," said Stein. "We must work to dispel the dangers to which
your majesty referred; we must erect lightning-rods to attract the
dangerous fire. If your majesty had a less vigorous soul, I should
conceal from you the calamities still threatening Prussia,
notwithstanding the treaty of Tilsit; but Queen Louisa is the genius of
Prussia, and I apply to her for assistance!"

"Oh!" exclaimed the queen, anxiously, "bad tidings again, I suppose?"

"Yes," said Stein, sadly--"bad tidings! We have received the last
propositions or rather decrees of Napoleon. He imposes on Prussia
contributions amounting to one hundred and fifty millions, one-third to
be paid immediately in cash; bills will be accepted for fifty millions,
and estates are to be ceded to France for the last fifty millions. The
five fortresses of Graudenz, Kolberg, Stettin, Küstrin, and Glogau are
demanded as security for the payment. Forty thousand French soldiers are
to garrison the fortresses, ten thousand of whom will be cavalry,
uniformed, armed, and fed by Prussia, which is to furnish twelve
millions for this purpose. The estates of the king in the districts of
Magdeburg and Brandenburg, between the Elbe and the Oder, and in
Pomerania, are to be ceded and disposed of in what manner the emperor
may deem prudent. As the forty thousand men will be unable to find
sufficient room in the five fortresses, certain districts of Prussia
will have to be assigned them."

"And what remains then to the king?" exclaimed Louisa, with flaming
eyes. "What remains to us?"

"This must not be," said Stein. "We must leave nothing undone--we must
strain every nerve to prevent it. The disasters of Prussia compel us to
shrink from nothing to avert this last and terrible blow, or the country
will be hopelessly ruined. Oh, I cannot describe to you the distress,
the misery, the disgrace I witnessed in the cities through which I
passed on my journey. Your majesty knows that I was at Berlin; I saw
that Daru and Clarke behaved in the most reckless and scornful manner,
refusing with sneers to listen to any remonstrances. They seemed to be
bent on oppressing and impoverishing the country, and drinking the last
drop of its heart's blood! I beheld everywhere the same heart-rending
spectacle that I witnessed at the capital. Every city and fortress has
its systematic tormentor in some governor or commander, distinguished
for arrogance and cruelty. The distress is unutterable, and yet the
people hope for speedy deliverance. The eyes of all are turning with
tears, it is true, but with love and hope, to Memel, the heart of the
Prussian monarchy. All the hopes of your subjects are centred in the
king and the queen; to you they look for alleviation."

"Alas!" exclaimed the queen, bursting into tears, "is there, then, any
way by which we can help them? Oh, name it! What can the king--what can
I do to procure relief for Prussia?"

"The greatest burden at this moment is the presence of the French
troops, and the oppressive conduct of the public officials, who are
openly disregarding all the laws and institutions of the country, and
trampling under foot the most solemn rights. We must make every possible
effort to rid Prussia of these men. To accomplish this, we must, in the
first place, try to find means to pay the first third of the
contribution; and next, to induce Napoleon to grant us better terms for
the payment of the remainder. We must endeavor to induce him to consent
to a gradual liquidation (which would be more in accordance with our
ability), and without insisting on retaining the fortresses as security,
and oppressing us with an army of forty thousand men. In this way our
exhausted treasury would not be required to pay the additional twelve
millions for equipping the French soldiers, and the country would be
preserved from the tyranny of a hostile occupation."

"But you may depend on it, there is no way to soften that heart of
Napoleon," said the queen, sighing. "He is certainly a victorious
warrior, but he is not great in the highest sense--he is not good, for
he knows neither compassion nor love. He has marked out his path in
lines of blood, and he pursues it over the slain of the battle-field and
the ruins of once prosperous and happy nations. Napoleon has no pity,
and our complaints would but gratify his pride."

"And yet we must try to dispose him to comply with our wishes," said
Stein. "The king has resolved upon writing to-day to the Emperor
Alexander, and imploring him to instruct Count Tolstoy, his ambassador
in Paris, to remonstrate with Napoleon, and convince him of the cruelty
and injustice of his demands. Oh, the king is ready, with an energy
deserving the highest admiration, to do every thing to lessen the
burdens under which his subjects are groaning. He himself has drawn up a
financial plan to procure the first twelve millions, which we shall
offer to pay immediately. He is ready to order reductions in the budget
of the army, the opera, the ballet, and the extraordinary pensions. He
himself sets an example of self-denial and economy. He will reduce
further his household, and retain only the most indispensable servants.
Notwithstanding my protestations, he insists on refusing to accept the
civil list due him."

"Oh," exclaimed the queen, "who can call me unhappy when I am the wife
of the noblest of men? But I will also take part in these sacrifices,
and I hope the king has also refused to accept the money paid me by the
state treasury."

"No, your majesty. That should not be curtailed; I would never advise
it, and the king would not consent."

"But I insist," replied the queen, firmly. "My king and husband must
forgive me if I choose for once to have a will of my own. If the king is
ready to suffer privations, then it is my right and duty to share them."

"But your majesty ought to think of your children, who would also
suffer. Pray take into consideration that the royal family would be
reduced to a very small income, and that the most rigid economy could
not preserve you from embarrassments. A portion of the royal estates is
to be mortgaged or sold for the purpose of defraying part of the French
contribution; considering the universal distress, it is very probable
that the income to be derived from the other estates will not be paid at
all, or very tardily. The king, moreover, gave up very considerable
resources by sending the large gold dinner-set to the mint to be
converted into coin, which he did not use for himself or his household,
but paid into the state treasury. If your majesty, like the king,
refuses to accept money from the treasury, pecuniary difficulties will
arise, which will be the more painful to you, as your children will
suffer, deprived of the comforts to which they have been accustomed."

"That will produce a salutary effect," said the queen, quickly.
"Circumstances educate men, and it will certainly be good for my
children to be familiar with something more than the sunniest side of
life. If they had grown up in opulence, they would ever consider it as a
matter of course; but that there may be a change, they learn now from
the gravity of their father, and the tears of their mother. It is
especially good for the crown prince to become acquainted with
adversity--when, as I hope, happier times come, he will better
appreciate his prosperity. Let them share our adverse fortune! I know
how to protect them from real want. I have still some means left, and
the Lord will not forsake us. Do not call this stubbornness or
presumption. You know we have not refrained from every exertion to
lessen our calamities. I have even gone so far as to beg the Duke de
Rovigo, who is now governor of East Prussia, to intercede with the
emperor concerning the contributions, and to have restored to us our
estates, because they were our only possessions. Do you know the reply
the duke made? He told me that all solicitations would be in vain, and
even the intercession of Russia would be of no avail in regard to this
matter. He added that there remained to us one way of procuring money,
and he advised us to sell our plate and jewels."

"The impudent villain!" exclaimed Stein, indignantly. "How could he go
so far as to use such language toward your majesty!"

"It is true," said the queen, gently, "it pained me grievously, and
brought tears. Not that my heart cares for worldly splendor, but there
is something inexpressibly offensive in the scorn with which those men,
and particularly the Duke de Rovigo, imitate the example of their
master. But, after all, that sagacious duke was right, perhaps, for
useless jewels may be converted into money. I admit," added the queen,
with a smile, "that I had never thought of it; it would never have
occurred to me that we might get money by selling our personal property.
In fact, I ought to be grateful to M. Savary for his advice."

"Your majesty," said Stein, deeply affected, "you must not think of
selling your jewels. Better times will come. Even in these days of
adversity there will be occasions when you must show yourself to your
people at public festivities and demonstrations; they like to see their
queen adorned in a regal and becoming manner."

"My most becoming ornament will be simplicity, and the tears of
gratitude with which I shall receive those who wish to honor me."

"But your jewels are the heirlooms of your children, your majesty."

"The only inheritance of our children which we are not allowed to part
with is our honor," said the queen, firmly. "We would not sell it for
all the empires of the world. That must remain to us. As for the rest,
we must learn to do without it."

"But it will greatly pain the king should your majesty sell your jewels.
It will be another humiliation."

"Oh, I can conceal it from him," exclaimed the queen. "I shall sell
those superfluous articles secretly. There will be no festivities here,
and hence it will be unnecessary for me to appear in royal attire.
Two-thirds of the money realized will pay the pensions of the king's old
servants; for I know the unsettled arrears cause my husband many a pang.
When these worthy men, who are to be deprived of the salaries which
they so richly deserve, send in their receipts, then let my husband find
out whence we have obtained the money; then, I hope, he will forgive my
having taken this step without his permission. You must assist me in
this matter, and take upon yourself the payment of the pensions and
salaries; will you promise me to do so?"

Baron von Stein endeavored to reply, but the words died on his lips; he
bowed over the hand the queen offered him, and tears fell on it as he
pressed it to his lips.

"Oh," said the queen, "was I not right in saying that I should never
lack ornaments? Are there any more precious than the sympathizing tears
of a high-minded man?"

"Pardon me," whispered Baron von Stein. "I wish I could transmute them
into diamonds, and lay them at the feet of my queen."

"And what," asked Louisa, "would they be worth compared with your noble
and faithful heart? We can do without jewelry, but not without your
services."

"Henceforth all my thought and energy shall be devoted to Prussia," said
the minister. "But your majesty must be so kind as to assist me. I must
implore you to unite with me to obtain from Napoleon less rigorous
terms, and the withdrawal of the French troops."

"Alas! what can I do? You see I am ready to do any thing to lessen the
sorrows of Prussia. Tell me, therefore, what I am to do."

"I have the honor to inform your majesty. I have drawn up a plan which
will enable Prussia to pay this burdensome debt in the course of three
years. It is true, we have to consent to large reductions, collect the
war-debt due from Russia, negotiate loans, impose on the subjects of
Prussia, besides the ordinary taxes, extraordinary contributions, and an
income-tax, and issue paper money. These onerous expedients will deliver
us at least from the present pressure by furnishing us the means of
paying the French contributions. It is only necessary to send my plan to
Paris--to deliver it safely into the hands of Napoleon, and induce him
to accept it."

"I hope you will not ask me to go to Paris for this purpose!" exclaimed
the queen, in dismay.

"No," answered Stein, "I have proposed to his majesty to intrust this
task to his brother, Prince William. The king has approved my
proposition, and sent for the prince to request him to undertake this
difficult and dangerous mission."

"He will joyfully consent to do so," exclaimed Louisa. "He loves his
king and his country, and will shrink from no sacrifice. Alas, he will
have to endure many a humiliation, and in vain; it will lead to
nothing."

"We must send powerful auxiliaries with him," said Stein, quickly. "And
now I shall state the request which I desire to make to your majesty.
You must support the prince, and help him in his difficult undertaking.
I beseech you, therefore, to give him an autograph letter to Napoleon;
condescend to entreat the emperor to be merciful and generous; depict to
him the distress of your country, the sufferings of your subjects, and
the privations of your family, and appeal to his magnanimity to desist
from his demands, and accept our plan of payment. Oh, your majesty, in
your enthusiasm and patriotic love, you are inspired with a power of
expression which even Napoleon will be unable to resist; and whatever he
would refuse to the prayers of the prince he will yield to those of
Queen Louisa!"

"Never!" she exclaimed. "Never can I subject myself to this humiliation!
Never can I stoop so low as to write to that man! Oh, you do not know
how pitilessly he insulted me; otherwise you would not dare to ask me.
Remember what I have already done, how low I have humbled myself, and
all for nothing. Can I forget those days of Tilsit, when I seemed to
live only for the purpose of heightening the conqueror's pride by my
woe-begone appearance--when I felt as if chained in a triumphal car, and
endeavored with a mournful smile to conceal my shame and misery, in
order to meet him politely whose heartless glances made my soul tremble?
How can I write to him whom I implored at Tilsit, but who carried his
cruelty so far as to make promises which he afterward renounced--who
designated as acts of gallantry the assurances he had given in reply to
the tears of my motherly heart? If I could save Prussia, and secure the
happiness of my husband and children, I would willingly suffer death,
but this renewed humiliation is beyond my strength."

The minister, folding his arms, looked with deep emotion at the excited
queen, as she rapidly walked up and down the apartment. Standing in
front of him, she said in a gentle, imploring voice: "I am sure you feel
that your request cannot possibly be granted."

"May I repeat to your majesty," said Stein, solemnly, "the words you
uttered just now with regard to Prince William?--'The prince will
joyfully consent to undertake the difficult mission. He loves his king
and his country, and will shrink from no sacrifice.'"

The queen burst into tears, and, turning away from Stein, again but
slowly paced the room, her head thrown back, her eyes turned upward with
a suppliant expression, and her lips quivering.

"She is undergoing a terrible struggle," said Stein to himself, "but she
will be victorious, for her heart is noble, and eternal love is in her
and with her." He was not mistaken. Gradually she grew calmer; her eyes
became more cheerful, and her features assumed a serene expression.

"Baron von Stein," she said, "I will do what you ask of me; I will
conquer myself. As you believe it prudent, I will write to the Emperor
Napoleon, and entreat him to spare Prussia. I desire you to draw up the
letter for me, so that it may be only necessary to copy it."

"I foresaw this, and complied with it in advance," said the minister,
taking out his memorandum-book, and presenting a sheet of paper. "Here,"
he said, "is a draught of the needed letter. If your majesty approve it,
I venture to request you to copy it speedily, for this business must not
be delayed, and if the prince accepts the propositions of the king, it
would be advisable and necessary for him to set out to-day."

The queen hastily glanced over the letter. "It is all right," she said;
"I approve all you have written. I wish to get through at once with this
painful matter, and I request you to wait until I have copied it. You
may take it with you, and lay it before the king."

She hastened to her desk, and wrote rapidly, but at times hesitating, as
though her pen refused the humiliating words. But at last she finished,
and having quickly read what she had written, she called Minister von
Stein to her side. "Here," she said, sighing, and handing the paper to
him, "take it, the sacrifice has been made. Will my people," she added,
weeping, "will my children be hereafter grateful to me for having
humbled myself for their sake? Will they ever think how painful must
have been these sacrifices? Will they remember and thank me for them in
happier days?"

"Your majesty," said Stein, enthusiastically, "never will they forget
such devotion to your country; and when our great-grandchildren talk of
these days of wretchedness, they will say: 'Prussia could be
humiliated, but she could never perish; for Louisa was her good genius,
praying, acting, and suffering for her.'"

"Well," whispered the queen, sadly, "my slumber in the grave will be
sweet." Starting suddenly, she laid her hand on her heart. "Oh," she
groaned, "how long before this troubled life of mine shall cease!--I
will tell you something, Baron von Stein. Death is not far from me, and
I feel that he comes nearer every day. There is no future for me on
earth. But God's will be done. I read the other day somewhere,
'Sufferings and afflictions are blessings when they are overcome.' Oh,
how true that is! I myself say, in the midst of my afflictions that they
are blessings! How much nearer I am to God!--how clear and true my ideas
of the immortality of the soul! Seen through these tears, the solemn
facts of the future come to me with resistless power. Adversity, if
rightly used, does instruct and bless. I do not complain therefore that
I have been called to weep." A low knocking at the door interrupted her,
and the footman announced the arrival of Prince William.



CHAPTER XXXVI.

PRINCE WILLIAM.


The queen met her husband's brother with a pleasant smile, and offered
him her hand. "I suppose, my brother, you come to bid me farewell?" she
asked.

"I come to get from my noble sister the letter that I am to deliver to
the Emperor Napoleon," said the prince, respectfully kissing the hand of
his sister-in-law.

Louisa turned her eyes toward the minister. "The king knew, then, that
you were to request me to write the letter?"

"Yes, but he forbade me to say that he deemed it necessary. It was to
depend on your majesty's unbiassed judgment whether it should be written
or not."

"You see, my sister," exclaimed the prince, "I had no doubt whatever as
to your decision."

"Nor I that you would set out to-day," said Louisa, smiling.

"But will your majesty pardon me when I confess that I have not come
merely for the letter, and to take leave of you?" asked the prince. "I
heard from the king that Minister von Stein was with your majesty, and
as I am going to set out to-night, and my time accordingly is very
limited, I decided to have settled a little business affair with the
minister."

"It affords me pleasure," said the queen.

"And you, minister," asked the prince, bowing to the baron, "will you
grant me a brief audience to-day?"

"I shall immediately repair to the anteroom of your royal highness, and
wait until you return," said Stein, approaching the door.

"Oh, no! pray, stay here," exclaimed the queen. "I offer this room to
the prince as a _salle de conférences_, and shall retire into my
cabinet."

The prince followed the queen, who was about to withdraw, and conducted
her back to the sofa. "Pardon, my sister," he said, "I do not desire to
confer with the minister about secrets that your majesty cannot hear. I
only wish to ask a favor of his excellency, the minister of finance.
You, doubtless, need a great deal of money at the present time, while my
wife and I are spending much less than heretofore, because we are living
here in very humble style. We have made our calculations, and
ascertained that we are able to do with two-thirds of our income.
Accordingly, I request you to accede to my resolution that, until times
are better, I give up one-third, and beg you to pay this amount into the
state treasury."

"Ah, my brother," replied the queen, "you are worthy of being the
brother of the best of kings, for you vie with him in every virtue.
Prussia cannot be crushed so long as such princes stand by her side."

"And so long as she is protected by such a queen," said the prince,
kissing the offered hand of his sister-in-law. He then turned again to
the minister. "Your excellency," he said, "I am commissioned to reveal
the same resolution to you in the name of my brother. Prince Henry also
gives one-third of his income, and requests the minister of finance to
pay this amount into the state treasury. Is this verbal declaration
sufficient, or will it be necessary for us to repeat it in writing?"

"It will be necessary for your royal highness, as well as for Prince
Henry, to make a written declaration to this effect, and hand it to the
minister of state. It will then be deposited in the archives of the
royal house, and will one day be a splendid monument of your
patriotism."

"In that case, a declaration in writing being required, I request you to
be so kind as to accompany me to my house. We will settle the matter at
once, and invite Prince Henry to participate in the transaction. Can you
spare us fifteen minutes, and will you accept a seat in my carriage?"

"I am at the service of your royal highness," said Stein, bowing.

"Then I beg my sister to dismiss us," said the prince, approaching the
queen. "I have many things yet to attend to, so that every minute is
precious, and, above all, I have to inform my wife of my speedy
departure. Let me beg you, my sister, to be a faithful friend of
Marianne in my absence; take my beloved wife under your protection, and,
when she is afflicted, permit her to be near you."

"We shall weep together, my brother," said the queen, deeply moved. "All
of us will miss you, and it will seem as though life had become drearier
when you are absent. But, considering your generous resolution, it does
not behoove me to complain of our fate. Joyfully, as you have done, we
shall submit to it. I entertain the firm belief that there are better
days for Prussia. Go, my brother, and assist in hastening them by word
and deed. God will protect you, and the love of your wife, and of your
brothers and sisters, will accompany you! Farewell!" She waved her hand,
and turned away to conceal her tears.

The prince withdrew in silence, followed by the minister. The queen
heard the door close after him, and, raising her arms toward heaven,
exclaimed in a fervent tone: "My God, protect Prussia! Oh, bless our
country and our people!" She stood thus praying, with uplifted arms.

After a pause, she murmured, "Now it is time to attend to my business
with the jeweller. The king is in his cabinet, and never comes at this
hour." Having rung the bell, she ordered the footman to request the
court-jeweller to call at once on the queen. Going to her dressing-room,
she took from the table a large leathern box containing all her jewelry.
She succeeded with difficulty in carrying the heavy box into the
reception-room, but she thought, smilingly: "The heavier it is, the
better." Opening the caskets, the brilliant ornaments gladdened her more
than they had ever done. The table was covered with them, and she
contemplated their beauty and value "Ah!" she exclaimed, "I did not
know that I was so rich. These precious stones will certainly bring
money enough to pay all arrears, and there will be something over for my
children."

At this moment the door of the anteroom opened, and the footman
announced Mr. Marcus, the court-jeweller. The queen ordered him to be
admitted, adding, that no one else was to be announced while he was
present. She then locked the opposite door leading into the small
corridor, and thence to the rooms of the king. In the mean time the
jeweller had entered; he remained respectfully at the door, and waited
for the queen to accost him.

"Mr. Marcus," said Louisa, gracefully acknowledging his bow, "I sent for
you to confer about my jewelry. I should like to make some changes in
it; and then, as we cannot tell whither these stormy times may drive us
or our property, I wish to make an invoice of these articles, and
ascertain their cash value. Please step to the table, and be kind enough
to tell me how much all this is worth."

Mr. Marcus approached and carefully examined the magnificent array
before him. "These are real treasures, your majesty," he said,
admiringly; "several pieces among them are exceedingly rich."

"Yes," exclaimed the queen, "I suppose one could get a great deal of
money for them?"

"Your majesty," said Mr. Marcus, shrugging his shoulders, "it needs much
money--in fact, an enormous fortune, to buy them. Part of their value
consists in their artistic setting."

"Ah, I understand; you mean to say that, if they were to be sold now,
one would not get as much as was paid for them."

"Not half as much, your majesty! The intrinsic value is very different
from the cost, which depends much on the setting."

"Pray tell me, then, their intrinsic value."

"Your majesty, to do so correctly, it would be necessary for me to
examine every piece."

"Do so, Mr. Marcus. I will take my memorandum-book and enter each one,
affixing the price. Afterward we can ascertain the whole amount."

The jeweller looked in surprise at the queen; she apparently did not
notice it, but pointed with the lead-pencil, which she had in her hand,
at one of the caskets. "There is my large diamond necklace; what do you
think that is worth, sir?"

The jeweller took up the necklace, twinkling as a cluster of stars.
"These diamonds are magnificent," he said; "they are only a little
yellow, and here and there is a slight defect. I think, however, that
the stones, without the setting, are worth five thousand dollars."

"Five thousand dollars," wrote the queen. "Now, the necklace of rubies
and diamonds."

"These Turkish rubies belong to that very rare kind to be met with only
in royal treasuries," said the jeweller. "They are antique, and look
like sparkling blood. Their value is immense, your majesty; only a
connoisseur would be able to appreciate them, and it is difficult to
appraise them but by the standard value of other Turkish rubies. A
jeweller might, however, receive twice as much as I name--four thousand
dollars, according to the ordinary standard."

"Four thousand dollars," wrote the queen; "now, the next."

"Here," he said, "is a complete set of the most beautiful round pearls:
a diadem, a necklace, earrings, and bracelets," taking up a large case
which had not been opened, and raising its lid.

"No," said the queen, blushing, "we will not appraise these pearls. I
have inherited them from my lamented mother, and they are therefore of
priceless value to me." She extended her hand and laid the casket on the
table at her side. "Now tell me the value of the other articles; take
that necklace of Indian emeralds--"

Half an hour afterward the list was completed. "Thirty thousand
dollars," said the queen; "that, then, is the full value of my jewelry?"

"Yes, your majesty, but its cost must have been several hundred thousand
dollars. I have stated only the imperishable value of the stones; it is
impossible to appraise the setting."

"Well, just now I care only for the cash equivalent," said the queen,
quickly. "And now, sir, listen to me. When I was requested to procure
you the appointment of jeweller to the court, I made inquiries
concerning your character, and heard nothing but the most flattering
opinions. You are known as an honorable man in whom all may repose
confidence. I will prove to you the high value I attach to public
opinion, and I rely on you to keep secret what I am about to tell you."

"I swear by all that is sacred that what your majesty is gracious enough
to reveal shall remain buried in my heart as a precious gem in the
depths of the sea."

"I believe you," said the queen. "I want to sell all these diamonds,
emeralds, and rubies--every thing, except my pearls."

"Sell them!" exclaimed Mr. Marcus, starting back and turning pale. "Oh,
no, pardon me, your majesty, I have misunderstood you. My hearing is a
little impaired. I beg pardon for my mistake, and request your majesty
to be kind enough to repeat your orders."

"You did not mistake my words," said the queen, kindly. "I do want to
sell them."

"Has it come to this," said the jeweller, sighing, "that our noble and
beautiful queen is unwilling to wear again her accustomed ornaments; and
that she considers it no longer worth while to be seen by her poor,
unhappy people in the splendor of a queen?" Sobs choked his voice, and,
unable to repress his tears, he turned away and covered his face with
his hands.

"It has come to that, sir, that the queen will also take part in the
privations of her country; that she will have no other diamonds than the
grateful tears of her loyal people, and that she believes herself
sufficiently adorned when at the side of her husband, and surrounded by
her children. I thank you for your sympathy, for they prove your honest
disposition toward me. But believe me, I need no pity. If every good man
has peace in his own heart, he will have cause to rejoice. And now, sir,
let us talk calmly about this matter."

"I am ready to receive the orders of your majesty," said Mr. Marcus,
making an effort to regain his composure, "and entreat my august queen
to forgive me that my feelings overcame me in her presence. But now I
must examine the jewels more carefully than before. Believing that they
were merely to be invoiced without reference to their sale, I stated
only their lowest value. I am sure better prices might be obtained for
them, and, besides, it remains for me to ascertain the value of the gold
setting by weighing it."

"Oh, no," said the queen, smiling. "Let us not enter into such minute
details. Besides, the purchaser ought to have something for his trouble,
and for the risk of being unable to sell again. We will, therefore, let
your first appraisement stand as it is. The question is, whether you
know of any one who is willing to pay so large a sum in cash."

The jeweller reflected a moment. "Well," he said, "I know an opportunity
to dispose of them immediately. If your majesty permits me to do so, I
will purchase them myself. The Emperor Alexander of Russia, during his
late sojourn at this place, gave me a large order in reference to a
wedding-gift for the betrothed of the Grand-duke Constantine. I have
received bills of exchange, drawn on the wealthiest banking-houses of
St. Petersburg, and the emperor has authorized me to send in at once
precious stones to the amount of fifty thousand dollars. I am able to
pay you half the appraised value to-day, and for the other half I will
give you bills, drawn on St. Petersburg bankers, payable in two weeks.
But I repeat to your majesty that I have appraised the stones at a very
low rate, and that I shall make large profits, and realize at least four
thousand dollars. Your majesty ought to permit me to add the value of
the setting."

"I told you already that we ought not to add any thing to the first
appraisement. Well, the bargain is made," said the queen, gently. "Bring
me the money and the bills of exchange, and you may then take the
jewelry. Let us say I have intrusted it to you to make some alterations
in it."

An hour afterward, the caskets disappeared from the queen's table; in
their place stood a box filled with rolls of gold-pieces, and the bills
of exchange lay at its side. The queen, placing a few of the rolls in
her desk and the bills in the box, hastened to write the following
letter to Baron von Stein:

"I request you to grant me the same favor which the prince obtained from
you. I desire likewise to pay some savings into the state treasury, and
send you, therefore, twenty-five thousand dollars with this letter. Pray
do not forget to pay, in accordance with our agreement, the arrears of
salaries due the men of science and art, and the faithful old servants
of the king. LOUISA."

"Oh," said the queen, laying aside the pen, and looking up with a
grateful expression, "how many worthy men will be delivered from
distress by this unexpected payment! What fervent prayers for their king
will ascend to heaven! Merciful God, hear them, and let my husband and
children be again happy; then I shall have nothing more to desire on
earth!"

In the evening of the same day Prince William, accompanied only by an
adjutant and a footman, set out for Paris in order to deliver to the
Emperor Napoleon the financial plan drawn up by Minister von Stein, and
the letter of Queen Louisa, and to try to induce Napoleon by verbal
remonstrances to withdraw his demands, and accept less ruinous
conditions. Before entering his travelling-coach, the prince, in his
cabinet, bade farewell to her whom he loved so passionately. They
remained long without uttering a word or even a sigh. The beautiful face
of the Princess Marianne was pale, but her tearless eyes beamed with
hope. "Go, my beloved husband," she said, disengaging herself at last
from the arms of the prince, "go and perform your noble sacrifice! My
love will accompany you. Your life is my life, and your death my death!
Go! I fear nothing."

"But at this solemn hour I must communicate a secret to you, Marianne,"
said the prince, "and ask your consent to a resolution that I have
taken. Should all my efforts be of no avail--should Napoleon be induced
neither by Stein's plan nor by the queen's letter, nor by my own
solicitations, to consent to the proposed mode of liquidation, owing to
his belief that he would not have sufficient security for the payment of
the contributions, then, Marianne, a last remedy would remain, and I
would assuredly not shrink from it. In that case I shall offer myself as
a hostage. I shall tell him that I must remain his prisoner, and allow
myself to be transported to If, to Cayenne, or where he pleases, until
the king has made all the promised payments. This will prove to him that
I myself feel convinced that these will be made. He may be sure the
king's brother will be redeemed. Tell me now, Marianne, do you approve
my resolution?"

The princess laid her hand on the head of her husband. "You offer to
surrender not only yourself but both of us," she said. "Both of us,
William, for I want to be where you are. I will also share your devotion
to Prussia. You may offer both of us as hostages to the emperor. I shall
be happy when with you, whether in a dungeon or in a palace. The love
uniting us will sustain us even then, and, when our captivity is over,
we will return happy to our beloved country. But if it be otherwise--if
circumstances occur delaying the payments, and calling down upon you the
wrath of the conqueror--if he then desire to take revenge upon you--oh,
then, I shall know how to find a way to his heart so that he will permit
me to die with you. We are alone; our children are dead, and, therefore,
we are at liberty to pursue such a course. Oh, William, then we shall be
happy forever! Go, my beloved husband! and when the hour comes, call me
to your side. Let us live, and, if need be, die for the fatherland! Let
it be inscribed on our coffin: 'They have done their duty. The
fatherland is content with them!'"[34]

[Footnote 34: Prince William really carried out this resolution. He
found at his first interview that Napoleon was by no means friendly
toward Prussia, and particularly toward King Frederick William. Carried
away by his enthusiasm and generosity, the prince took at this audience
the step which he had intended to reserve if all else should prove
unavailing. He offered himself and his wife as hostages to the emperor,
and entreated him to permit them to remain in French captivity until the
payments were made. Napoleon listened to him, and while he was speaking
the countenance of the emperor gradually became milder. He approached
the prince, embraced him affectionately, and exclaimed, "That is very
generous, but it is impossible. Never would I accept such a
sacrifice--never!" For the rest, the mission of the prince was an utter
failure. Napoleon referred him to Minister Champagny, who, by all sorts
of subterfuges, managed to protract and finally to break off the
negotiations. The prince was detained several months in Paris, and
returned, without having accomplished any thing, to Königsberg, whither
the royal family had removed in the mean time.]



CHAPTER XXXVII.

THE GENIUS OF PRUSSIA.


The queen was alone in her room. She sat on the sofa, and a dress of
heavy silk, interwoven with flowers, lay spread out on the table before
her. She turned over the dress, as if carefully examining it. "Sure
enough, there it is!" she suddenly exclaimed. "Now, quick to work!" She
hastened to her table, on which was to be seen a beautiful silk
embroidery just finished by the queen. Among the threads she selected
one that was of the same color as the dress, and hastily threaded her
needle. "Now I will finish my work before any one surprises me,"
whispered Louisa. She was so assiduously employed that she did not
notice that the opposite door, softly opening, had admitted the king. He
stood still for a moment and looked at the queen. Advancing, he asked,
frowningly, "What are you doing, Louisa?"

The queen uttered a cry, and a deep blush suffused her cheeks. Pushing
aside the table and the dress, she rose from the sofa and went to salute
her husband. "Welcome, dearest!" she said, lovingly clinging to him;
"you knew that it was cold and lonely here, and you come to gladden me.
Thanks, my Frederick, thanks and welcome! I feel as though you were
given to me anew, and I greet you every morning as with the young heart
of a bride." She laid her beautiful head on his shoulder, and her
delicate hand played with his hair.

But the king did not return her caresses, and his eyes, which usually
looked so lovingly at his wife, were directed to the dress on the table.
"You have not yet replied to me, Louisa," he exclaimed.

"Replied to what?" she asked, raising her head from his shoulder, and
calmly looking at him.

"You know it," said the king--"to my question."

"To your question? And what did you ask?" replied the queen. "You asked
me whether I loved you and had already thought of you this morning. Yes,
my king and husband, you are the object of all my thoughts, and I think
of you with every pulsation of my heart. And do you know what just
occurred to me, and what I am going to propose to you? It is a fine
winter-day, and the snow is sparkling in the sun. We have half an hour
until dinner. Let us improve it and take a walk. Let us go to our two
princes, who are skating with their instructor. Tell me, my friend,
shall we do so?"

The king shook his head gloomily. "You wish to divert me from my
question," he said, "which proves that you have heard it. I will repeat
it. What were you doing with that dress when I entered?"

The queen hung her head in evident embarrassment, and her face assumed a
melancholy air. "You insist on a reply, my husband?" she asked. "I hoped
you would notice my confusion, and generously desist."

"I must know every thing that happens to you," said the king; "I must
know the full extent of our misfortunes, that I may not be deceived by
any illusions. Tell me, therefore, what were you doing?"

"Well, then, my husband, I will tell you," said the queen, resolutely.
"I like the dress, not because it is made of very costly and beautiful
materials, but you yourself selected it for me. You know that we give a
party to-morrow to celebrate the birthday of the crown prince, and I
wished to wear that dress. Now, I knew what no one else knew, that the
last time I wore it I had torn it by a nail in the wall, on crossing the
corridor. If I had informed my maid of this mishap, I should have been
unable to wear it again, for custom, I believe, forbids queens to wear
mended dresses. I was, however, bent on saving it. For this purpose I
took it stealthily from my wardrobe to mend the small hole as rapidly as
possible, while my lady of honor was taking a ride, and my maid was at
dinner. I had just finished when you entered, and if you had come a few
minutes later the dress would have disappeared, and no one would suspect
to-morrow that my rich attire had been mended. Now, you know my secret,
and I entreat you to keep it and allude to it no more. But you must also
reply to me: shall we take a walk?"

The king made no answer, but gazed at her with melancholy tenderness.
"You do this, Louisa, because you shrink from the expense of buying a
new dress," he said. "Oh, do not deny it; do not try to deceive me. I
know it to be true."

"And suppose it were true?" asked the queen, gently, drawing her head
from his hands. "Will you be sad because I do in these times what all
our subjects are obliged to do--because I try to be a little
economical?"

"The Queen of Prussia, my consort," exclaimed the king, "is compelled to
mend her own dresses! Is the cup of disgrace and humiliation not yet
full!"

"And why do you speak of disgrace?" asked the queen, laying her hands on
the shoulders of her husband, and looking tenderly in his face. "Why do
you say I humble myself by mending my dress? I only followed the example
of your noble ancestor, Frederick II. Did not the great king also mend
and patch his clothes? Did he not repair with sealing-wax his scabbard,
because he did not want to buy a new one? Well, I believe little Louisa
will be allowed to do as the great Frederick did, and need not be
ashamed of it. On the contrary, my husband, when I sat there sewing, my
heart was glad, for the memories of my early years revived in my mind: I
saw myself at the side of my venerable grandmother, the Landgravine of
Hesse-Darmstadt, and I lived again in those sunny days that I spent with
her in Hanover. My grandmother taught me how to mend, and I frequently
profited by the skill I had acquired with her. For you married the
daughter of a poor prince, who was not a sovereign at that time, but
only a younger brother, and the Queen of Prussia does not blush to
confess that when she was yet a princess of Mecklenburg, she not only
mended her dresses but even trimmed her shoes with her own hands. It is
no jest, my king and husband, I really often did so, and I never felt
humiliated. Never did I consider it a disgrace to do sometimes what
thousands of the most virtuous and amiable women are always doing. When
I used to sew my shoes, I was poor, for I did not yet know you; but now,
although I have repaired my dress, I am rich, for I have you--I have my
children--I am the wife of a man who suffers because he values his honor
higher than worldly greatness--who would perish rather than break an
alliance he has sworn to, and refuses to give his neck to the tyrant's
yoke. Oh, my husband, when I look at you, my soul is transported with
gladness, and I thank God that I am allowed to love you. Since you are
mine I feel happy, rich, and powerful."

She placed her beautiful arms around the king, who pressed her against
his breast. "Thanks, my Louisa! thanks for your joyful love. Your eyes
gladden my life, and your voice is the only music that can lull my
grief. That is the reason I come to you now. I seek here consolation in
my affliction, for when you help me to bear the burden, it is less
oppressive. I have received two letters to-day which gave me pain, and
which I desire to communicate to you."

"I shall be grateful to you, my husband, for doing so," said the queen.
"Come, let us sit down together, and communicate the letters to me. Who
wrote them? Whence did they come?"

"One is from Königsberg, from our daughter Charlotte."

"From Charlotte!" exclaimed the queen, starting. "Has any thing happened
to her? Has she been taken ill?"

"No, she is well, and nothing has happened to her. She is, on the
contrary, in excellent spirits, and, like all young girls, wishes to
dress well. She writes to me, asking me to send her money that she may
renew her winter wardrobe. Here is the letter."

The queen quickly glanced over it. "Oh, the dear, good child," she
exclaimed, "how tenderly she loves us--how prettily and affectionately
she gives expression to her feelings! And yet she often appears
outwardly cold and indifferent.--She resembles her noble father: she
does not wear her heart on her tongue, but it throbs lovingly in her
bosom. She is seemingly reserved and haughty, but she is affectionate.
If God permits her to live I anticipate a brilliant future for her."[35]

[Footnote 35: The very words of the queen.--Vide "Queen Louisa," p. 302.
This prophecy was fulfilled, for the Princess Charlotte afterward
married the Emperor of Russia.]

"A brilliant future!" echoed the king; "for _my_ daughter--for the
daughter of a king without a kingdom--of a man who is so poor as to be
unable to gratify her just and modest wishes! She asks for money to
replenish her winter wardrobe. Now, do you know what I have written to
her? I have sent her five dollars, and given her at the same time the
wretched consolation to be content with that sum, for it was all I could
spare."

"Well," said the queen, with a gentle smile, "at all events, five
dollars will enable her to buy a warm winter dress, and by and by our
finances will improve."

"I do not see any such prospect," exclaimed the king, vehemently.

"All our resources are exhausted; all the public funds are gone, and
even your generosity will be unable to create new ones. My noble queen,
in generous self-denial, sacrifices her jewels in order to gladden and
comfort others, and to lay her own contribution on the altar of her
country. She did not think of herself in doing so."

"Yes, I did," said the queen, smiling, "I did think of myself. I
reserved five thousand dollars, and with that sum all the bills we
owed--all our debts for the household, for the stable, and the servants,
have been paid. But you intended communicating two letters to me. What
about the second?"

"The second," said the king, mournfully, "is a farewell from my faithful
subjects in the province of Mark, whom, alas! with a heavy heart, I have
absolved from their oath of allegiance, and ordered to serve another
sovereign, and to obey the new King of Westphalia. I am not ashamed of
confessing it, Louisa, I wept on writing to them, and on reading their
reply. There it is. Read it aloud. It will do me good to hear again
these touching words."

The queen unfolded the large letter, to which several official seals
were attached, and read in a tremulous voice:

"Our heart was rent when we read your farewell letter, good king. We
cannot believe even now that we, who always loved you so affectionately,
are to cease being your subjects. As sure as we live, it was neither
your fault, nor ours, that your generals and ministers were too confused
after the defeat of Jena to march the dispersed divisions of the army to
us, and to lead them, united with our whole people, into a struggle
which, with the blessing of God, would have been successful. We would
have willingly risked our lives, for you must not doubt that the blood
of the ancient Cheruscians is still flowing in our veins; that we are
proud of calling Hermann and Wittekind countrymen of ours, and of
knowing that on our soil was that field of battle where our ancestors
defeated their enemies in so decisive a manner that they never fought
again. We also would assuredly have saved the fatherland, for we have,
we believe, marrow in our bones, and remain uncorrupted by modern luxury
and effeminacy. But no one can escape the decrees of Providence. Oh,
farewell, then, our father and king! Heaven grant you more faithful
generals and more sagacious ministers for the remainder of your states!
You are not omniscient, and you were sometimes obliged to follow them
into blind paths. Unfortunately, we must also submit to what cannot be
helped. God help us! We trust our new sovereign will be a father to us,
and honor and respect our language and customs, our faith and rights, as
you always did, dear and beloved king! Health, joy, and peace!"

"And you call us poor and disgraced when such hearts are throbbing for
us," exclaimed the queen, with radiant eyes. "No, we are rich, for our
subjects love us, and even when compelled to part with you, they send
you their love-greetings!"

"But I cannot reward their love; I have no means of showing how my heart
appreciates it," exclaimed the king, mournfully. "Oh, Louisa, I am a
poor, wretched man; my heart is desponding, and even your cheering words
are unable to console it. Wherever I look, whatever plans I form, I see
nowhere a prospect of change for the better. My country is occupied by
hordes of foreign soldiers. My subjects, exposed to the overbearing and
avarice of the French, who think they are sovereign rulers of my states,
are vainly praying to their king to come to their assistance. Their
courage is exhausted; their strength gone; commerce is prostrated;
manufacturers and mechanics are idle; the farmers have no seed-corn, nor
courage to cultivate their fields, for they know that they will be
robbed of the fruits of their labor. Our soldiers walk about with bowed
heads, and scarcely dare to wear their uniforms, for they remind them of
Jena and Auerstadt, of the capitulation of Prenzlau, of the surrender of
so many fortresses, and, like myself, they wish they had been buried on
the battle-field of Jena. Want, misery, and suffering are everywhere,
and I am unable to help! I must still permit the enemy to inundate my
states, although it was expressly stipulated by the treaty of Tilsit
that the French army was to evacuate Prussia in the course of two
months. I must also permit the Emperor Napoleon (though after the
conclusion of peace, and contrary to the treaty) to take New Silesia,
and add her to the kingdom of Warsaw; to transform the two leagues of
the new territory of Dantzic into two German miles, and, without even
asking my consent, to deprive me of my property. But I am determined to
suffer this injustice and humiliation no longer, and to make the last
sacrifice."

"What are you going to do, my husband?" exclaimed the queen, laying her
hand with an anxious gesture on the arm of her husband. "What
sacrifice?"

"Myself!" said the king, gloomily, "for it is I alone who bring
misfortune on my people. A sinister fatality pursues me, and has pursued
me from my earliest youth. Only one star ever rose on my troubled
firmament, and that was you, Louisa. But it will not set, even though I
carry out my purpose. In solitude and sorrow it will still shine
hopefully upon me. My childhood was wretched, and embittered by
long-continued sufferings; while I was crown prince, I had to submit to
the affliction of not possessing the heart of my father, and of being
unable to approve his actions. I was so unfortunate as to be compelled
to begin the first day of my reign with a demonstration against his
course by having the woman arrested whom he had loved so long and
ardently, and to whom the final wishes and thoughts of the dying
sovereign had been devoted. It is his spirit, perhaps, that now brings
all these calamities upon me. But my people shall not suffer; I will
deliver them from the fatal influences attaching them to me, and in
order to conciliate my fate I will voluntarily lay down my crown."

"Never! my husband, never shall you do so," exclaimed the queen in great
excitement. "Never shall my noble and brave king declare that his spirit
is crushed and vanquished. Majesty would thereby render itself guilty of
suicide. For majesty, like life, is a boon sent by Providence, and you
are no more allowed to divest yourself of it arbitrarily than to put a
voluntary end to your life. And, least of all, are you permitted to do
so in times of adversity and danger, for such a course would look like
cowardice with which my king and husband assuredly cannot be charged.
Charles V. and Christina of Sweden were at liberty to abdicate, for when
they did so they were at the acme of their power, and yet they ever
repented of it; they felt that all nations were scornfully exclaiming:
'Behold the faithless, suicidal servant of God! Behold the stigma on
that anointed brow! The crown sanctifies the head that wears it. But
that coward has dishonored himself, and the glory that God gave him.'
Oh, my beloved husband, the nations must never speak in this manner of
you; the annals of history must never report that you deserted your
people when they were oppressed, and that, in order to obtain peace and
safety for yourself, you gave up your country, and cast away your crown.
It is true, fortune is imposing grievous burdens on us; but at such a
time it behooves a true man to meet adversity with a bold front."

"Ah, if I were possessed of your unwavering faith and cheerfulness!"
said the king, profoundly sighing. "But my hope is gone; our misfortunes
have crushed out not my courage but my belief in a better future."

"And yet they were necessary that we might one day obtain real
happiness," said Louisa. "Oh, I begin to perceive distinctly that the
events which have afflicted us will redound to our own welfare.
Providence is evidently introducing a new era, because the old one has
outlived itself. We fell asleep on the laurels of Frederick the Great,
who was the master-spirit of another century; we did not progress with
the times, and they outstripped us."

"There must be many changes, I am satisfied, in our administration,"
said the king, thoughtfully. "The army must be reorganized, and those
who in the hour of danger are cowards must be judged with inexorable
severity. Alas! all this will be in vain; I succeed in accomplishing
nothing; all my measures turn out to my detriment, and to the advantage
of our enemy."

"It is true," said the queen, sighing, "he has much success. Even our
most deliberate plans are fruitless. Though the Russians and Prussians
fight like lions, and are not defeated, they are obliged to evacuate the
field of battle, and the French emperor claims a victory. Nevertheless,
it would be blasphemous to say that God was on his side; he is an
instrument of Providence in order to bury that in which life is extinct,
but which still clings to that destined to live. We may derive lessons
from him, and what he has accomplished ought not to be lost to us. Oh, I
firmly believe in Providence, and a great moral system ruling the world.
I cannot see it, however, in the brutal reign of force, and hence I
believe that these times will be succeeded by more prosperous ones. All
good men hope for them, and the eulogists of the hero of this day must
not mislead us. All that has happened is not the ultimate order of
things; it is a severe yet salutary preparation for a new and better
destiny. We must not delude ourselves, my beloved friend, with the idea
that this is remote; in spite of all obstacles, we must strive to reach
it with strength, courage, and cheerfulness. With the merciful
assistance of Providence, we must continue to battle for our honor and
our rights!"

"Yes, be it so!" exclaimed the king, "God is with me, for He has placed
you at my side; He has given me an angel who fills my heart with that
courage which is based on faith in Him. Oh, forgive my timidity and
despondency; I pledge you my word I will meet the future with a strong
heart. Only remain with me, my dearest Louisa; look at me with your
cheering eyes, and inspire my heart with hope. Whenever I falter, remind
me of this hour in which I vowed to you to struggle to the last."

"Thanks, my king and husband!" exclaimed the queen; "whatever may
happen, let us meet it, united in love, hope, and faith in God!"

"Yes," said the king; "adversity itself is not devoid of exalted
moments, and you, my Louisa, have become dearer to me in these days. I
know now by experience what a treasure you are to me. Let the storm rage
outside, if all is calm within."

"It is my pride and happiness to possess the love of the best of men,"
said the queen; "and though we leave no inheritance to our children, we
shall leave them at least the example of our wedded life; let them learn
from it to be happy in themselves."

"_Madame la Reine est servie_!" shouted a merry voice behind them; and
when the queen turned, she saw her son, Crown-Prince Frederick William,
who approached her with rosy cheeks and laughing eyes. "Pardon me,
dearest parents, for venturing to enter the room without your
permission, but I longed to salute you, and therefore assumed the duty
of the steward, who was about to announce that dinner is ready."

"And I suppose my son found this announcement exceedingly interesting,
and longed just as much for his dinner as for his parents," exclaimed
the queen, smiling and looking with beaming eyes at her favorite son.

"Oh, no, no," said the crown prince, laughing, "I thought first of my
beloved parents, but then--yes, I confess the idea of getting my dinner
is very agreeable, considering that I have been on the ice for several
hours."

"Well, my husband," asked the queen, merrily, "shall we comply with the
wishes of the young epicure? Shall we permit him to conduct us to the
dining-room?"

"Yes, certainly," said the king, offering his arm to his wife. "Lead the
way, M. Steward!" The crown prince assumed a grave air, and, after
bowing to his parents in the reverential manner of a royal steward, he
preceded them with ludicrous strides, and commenced singing in a ringing
voice: "_Immer langsam voran, dass die oesterreichsche landwehr
nachkommen kann_."[36]

[Footnote 36: "Always slowly forward, that the Austrian landwehr may be
able to follow,"--a well-known humorous song, ridiculing the slowness of
the Austrian militia.]

The king laughed more heartily than he had done for many weeks, while
the queen looked lovingly at her son who had performed this miracle.



CHAPTER XXXVIII.

A FAMILY DINNER.


In the dining-room was William, the younger prince, who hastened to his
parents, and returned the tender salutation of his beautiful mother by
covering her hand with kisses. There were no guests at the royal table;
the king preferred to dine _en famille_, and for several days the queen
had ordered the ladies and gentlemen of the court to dine by themselves,
and only with the royal family when company was not distasteful to her
husband. The king looked with a smile of content at the small table, on
which he noticed only four covers, and, conducting his wife to her seat,
he said, with a grateful glance, "You have anticipated my most secret
wishes, Louisa; I like, above all, to dine alone with my family. Guests
and strange faces always bring etiquette with them, and that renders our
repasts formal and unpleasant. Thanks, Louisa!"

It was a very frugal meal, hardly suitable to a royal dinner-table.
Frederick William and the queen, however, contentedly partook of the
plain, wholesome food; and, gayly chatting, they did not seem to notice
that the dinner was served up in common china dishes, and that the
plates before them were of the same cheap material. Prince William ate
with the appetite of a healthy little boy; the crown prince, however,
who was twelve years old, did not seem to relish his food. He had
disposed of his soup, although he thought it weak and not well flavored,
supposing the other courses would be more to his taste. But when it was
succeeded by roast meat and cabbage, he made a wry face, and handled his
fork very daintily.

"I suppose you do not like cabbage?" asked the king, who had noticed the
reluctant appetite of the crown prince.

"No, your majesty," said the prince, smiling, "there are dishes that I
like better, although I know it to be a very respectable one, with which
the French just now are made acquainted. I will leave the
_shucrout_[37] to them, and console myself in the mean time with
thinking of two things--of the entremets now, and of my birthday
to-morrow."

[Footnote 37: French pronunciation of sour-crout.]

"I suppose you entertain a good many wishes in regard to your birthday?"
asked the king, putting more cabbage on his own plate. "Tell me, Fred,
what is it you wish?"

"Above all, that my gracious father and my dear mother may continue to
love me," said the crown prince, glancing at the queen, who nodded to
him. "But, besides, I have a few other wishes. In the first place, I
would like to have a nice horse with handsome new saddle and bridle, and
I would like to be allowed to take frequent rides with my parents, but
always at a gallop--at a full gallop!"

"But, Fred, that would be bad for you, considering that you are not yet
a skilful horseman," exclaimed the queen, laughing.

"Well, then," said the prince, gravely, "I wish for another birthday
present, that I may become a skilful horseman without learning, for that
is a very unpleasant and slow affair, as I found it out again to-day,
when, in skating, I wanted to imitate my teacher in describing a circle
on the ice, and only succeeded in falling on my nose!"

"Every thing in the world has to be learned," said the king, "and
although you may at first fall, you learn thereby to stand the firmer
afterward, and to keep your head erect. But have you told us all your
birthday wishes, or are there any more?"

"Oh, there are a great many yet, your majesty," exclaimed the prince,
laughing. "If I could sow all my great and small wishes, like the
dragon's teeth of Cadmus, I would be at the head of a very pretty
regiment of soldiers to-morrow."

"It is strange how many desires young folks have nowadays," said the
king, thoughtfully. "That boy, although he is but twelve years old,
wishes to have a saddle-horse as a birthday present, and in times so
hard as these! When I was as old as you, there were golden times in
Prussia, and yet I did not receive many presents on my birthday.
Sometimes I had to be content with nothing but a small flower-pot, worth
a few shillings, and if my instructor wished to be particularly kind to
me he took me to a public garden, and treated me to one, or, at the
best, two silver groschens' worth of cherries."

"Oh," said the queen, with tearful eyes, "it makes my heart ache when I
think of the cheerless youth of your good and noble father, and of the
sufferings he had to undergo under his harsh instructor."

"It is true, Counsellor Benisch was a rigorous and harsh man," said the
king; "he treated me very roughly, often wreaked his ill-humor upon me,
and thought he ought to rob me entirely of my youthful pleasures. He did
not do so because he was a bad man, but because he believed it to be the
best system of education. And then it produced good fruits. I learned
early to bear disagreeable things, and uncomplainingly to do without
agreeable ones; thus I succeeded in submitting to a great deal that
seemed intolerably burdensome to others. When I was a boy, it was a
holiday for me, for instance, when the entremets at dinner consisted of
omelet, while I see that our Prince Fred is no better satisfied with
that than with the cabbage."

"Your majesty is right; I do not like either," said the crown prince,
"and it was in vain that I consoled myself with the hope that there was
something more to my taste."

"What?" exclaimed the queen, smiling. "You do not like omelet? If you
are a true son of mine, it must become a favorite dish, for when I was
your age, I greatly liked it; and if you will now eat a good plate of
it, I will tell you a story about omelet and salad."

"Oh, mamma, just see, I have liberally supplied my plate; I am,
therefore, entitled to the story," exclaimed the crown prince.

"I will tell the story if the king will permit me," said the queen,
looking at her husband.

"The king requests you to do so," said Frederick William, nodding
pleasantly. "I wish to hear your story, Louisa; you always know new and
very pretty ones; your memory is really a little treasury!"

"It is not a very interesting story, after all," said the queen,
thoughtfully, "except to myself as a youthful reminiscence.--I had gone
with my father and my brother George to Frankfort-on-the-Main to witness
the coronation of the Emperor Leopold. I remember but little of the
festivities, for at that time I was only fourteen years old, and the
pompous ceremonies, together with the deafening shouts of the populace
(who cheered the roast ox, larded with rabbits, no less enthusiastically
than the German emperor), were indescribably tedious to me."

"Dear mamma," exclaimed the crown prince, "possibly the people may have
taken the roast ox for the German emperor."

"Possibly my witty son may be right," said the queen, "and the people
may have rejoiced in so boisterous a manner because they were better
pleased with the roast ox than with the emperor himself. The ceremonies
lasted too long for me, and as all eyes were fixed on the emperor, and
no one paid any attention to the daughter of a younger son of
Mecklenburg, I softly slipped from the gallery of the princes, beckoned
to my sister Frederica, and, followed by our governess, dear Madame
Gelieux, we left the Roemer, and entered our carriage, which made but
slow headway through the dense crowd, but finally conveyed us to a more
quiet street. We intended to do homage to some one else--to pay our
respects to the king of literature. We desired to make a pilgrimage to
the place where the greatest poet of Germany was born, and visit the
dear lady his mother, Mde. Counsellor Goethe.

"Our heart was transported with gladness when the carriage halted in
front of the door, and a handsome face, with dark, brilliant eyes,
appeared at the window, and nodded to us very cordially. We were old
friends and acquaintances, and, therefore, did not beg leave to enter,
but hastened directly into the sitting-room. Madame Goethe met us with a
kind salutation, and made a sign to the servant-girl to remove the table
standing in the middle of the room. But we saw that the dish was still
filled, and that Madame Goethe, after returning from the coronation, was
about to take dinner.

"'Madame Goethe,' we exclaimed, 'if you do not have your dinner
immediately served up, we shall leave at once, and will never believe
again that you are our friend, and that we are your children, as you
always call us. If you will eat, and permit us to be present, we will
remain; but if you persist in receiving us ceremoniously as princesses,
and in having the dinner removed, we must go.' 'Good heavens,' exclaimed
the good lady, in surprise, 'I will comply with the wishes of the little
princesses, and eat if they insist on it. I am only ashamed of my dinner
to-day, for I have permitted the cook to go to the coronation, and she
has not yet returned. The chambermaid, therefore, prepared some food for
me; it is so plain, however, that I cannot invite you to partake of
it.'--'Oh, we do not want to eat, but only to sit with you,' exclaimed
Frederica and I; we then took the arms of the old lady and conducted her
to the table. She sighed, but yielded to our solicitations. We sat down
opposite her, and Madame Gelieux took a seat close to us in the
window-niche. Madame Goethe quickly ate her soup, and rang the bell for
the servant to bring the second course. When she appeared and placed
two dishes on the table, madame became greatly embarrassed. 'That is a
dinner,' she said, 'that ought to be ashamed of showing its mean face in
the presence of two little princesses so beautiful, and dressed in
brocade! Why, it is nothing but an omelet and a salad.' And she then cut
off a small piece of the omelet and put it among the green leaves of the
salad. We looked on, and the dish seemed by far more desirable to us
than the imperial ox. In spite of our brocade dresses, we were not at
all ashamed of having a strong appetite. I looked at my sister
Frederica, and she looked at me, and then both of us looked at the
omelet, and at our governess. Finally, I was unable to resist the
temptation any longer, and said, timidly, 'Madame Goethe, pray let me
also have a little.' 'Ah, yes, dear madame,' said my sister, 'give us
some.'"

The two princesses interrupted the queen's narrative by loud laughter,
and the king himself joined gayly in it.

"That was right, mamma," exclaimed the crown prince. "Your story has
given me an excellent appetite for omelet, and I have eaten all on my
plate."

"That is just what I intended," said the queen, smiling.

"But what is the end of the story?" asked the crown prince. "Did Madame
Goethe give you some? I hope she complied with the request of the Queen
of Prussia."

"I was not yet Queen of Prussia, my son," said Louisa, with a slight
expression of melancholy; "but even queens beg sometimes in vain. Then,
however, I did not. The kind old lady cheerfully consented, and it was
of no avail that Madame Gelieux admonished us not to deprive Madame
Goethe of her dinner, and not to eat at so unusual an hour. We moved our
chairs to the table; Madame Goethe laid two covers for us, and,
notwithstanding the brocade dresses, and the coronation of the emperor,
the two princesses of Mecklenburg commenced partaking of the omelet and
salad with the strong appetite of peasant girls. Madame Goethe looked at
us with a smile; our governess, however, frowningly. But only after
eating all before us did we look up and see the kind countenance of
Madame Goethe, and the angry air of Madame Gelieux. The dish had greatly
increased our courage; instead of being afraid of the governess, we only
looked at the face of the dear old lady, and when she said, 'Now I wish
I had some good dessert for my two little princesses,' I exclaimed
quickly, 'I know something that I would like to have for dessert!'

"'I know it also!' exclaimed sister Frederica, 'we have already been
wishing for it for a whole week.' 'Well, what is it?' asked Madame
Goethe. 'Tell me what you wish, and I pledge you my word your wish shall
be fulfilled, if it is at all in my power.' 'Dear Madame Goethe,' I
exclaimed, imploringly, 'a week ago we saw your servant-girl pumping
water at the well, and we have ever since been longing to pump water
just once!' 'Yes, to pump water just once, but to our heart's content,'
begged sister Frederica. 'You shall do so!' exclaimed Madame Goethe,
laughing merrily, 'come, we will go to the well in the yard; there you
may pump.' 'No, _mesdames_, that is impossible,' exclaimed the
governess, approaching in her dignity, and placing herself with
outspread arms in front of the door, 'never shall I consent to so
unseemly a proceeding.' 'Unseemly!' exclaimed Madame Goethe,
indignantly. 'Why should it be unseemly for the dear little princesses
to move their arms like other children, and to draw up the fresh
spring-water? It is an innocent pleasure, and they shall have it as sure
as I am Goethe's mother. Come, I will conduct you to the well.' And she
walked proudly across the room to the small door opposite. We
accompanied her, and slipped out, Madame Goethe following us. When
Gelieux exclaimed she would never permit us to pump water, and would, if
need be, use force to prevent us from doing so, Madame Goethe shouted
angrily: 'I should like to see the person that would deprive the little
princesses of such a pleasure, which they can enjoy only at my house!'
And just as the governess had reached the door, Madame Goethe closed and
bolted it. And we, naughty children, went to the well and pumped water
until our arms were quite weak and tired. That is my story of the omelet
and salad, and the pumping for dessert," said the queen, concluding her
narrative, and bowing with a sweet smile to her husband.

The king nodded pleasantly to her. "I would I were a painter!" he said;
"I should paint the scene where both of you are sitting at the round
table and eating, while Madame Goethe is looking kindly on, and your
governess with an angry frown. It would be a pretty picture, I should
think."

"And I, although no painter, will draw the other picture," exclaimed the
crown prince; "oh, I see it distinctly before me. A fine old tree in a
large yard; under the tree a well, and the two princesses pumping.
Madame Goethe in her old-fashioned dress, and at the open window of the
side-building the angry face of the governess. Oh, as his majesty says,
it will certainly be a pretty picture, and if my mother will graciously
permit, I shall present it to her as a proof of my gratitude for her
beautiful story."

"Dear, dear mamma," exclaimed Prince William, "if you know another
story about an omelet, pray tell it to us, and I will then also try to
paint the scene for you like Fred."

"See, Louisa, what you have done," said the king, laughing. "They are
anxious to hear your stories, and will, perhaps, become great painters,
if you tell them more about omelets."

"That will unfortunately not happen, my husband," said the queen,
smiling, "for I do not know any other stories. It is true," she added,
musingly, "I remember another omelet that caused me a great deal of
pleasure."

"Where was it, dearest, dearest mamma? Oh, pray tell us," exclaimed the
crown prince.

"Pray tell us, mamma," begged little Prince William; "be so gracious as
to tell us a story for my picture!"

Louisa looked at her husband. The king nodded. "Your last story was so
appetizing," he said, gayly, "that I am quite ready to have another."

"I ate this second omelet during our journey to East Prussia, where the
estates of the province were to take the oath of allegiance. Oh, my
beloved children, that was a splendid journey. The whole world was
spread out before me like a bright summer day; everywhere I heard
nothing but greetings of love. Everywhere addresses and banquets!
festoons, pealing bells, children and young ladies strewing flowers! And
our good people did not receive us in so festive a manner through
compulsion, or in accordance with an old custom, but because their
hearts impelled them; for they had already perceived that the young
king, your noble father, would also be their benefactor; they loved and
worshipped their king, and, in their kindness, transferred part of their
love and veneration to myself. We had already passed through Stargard;
the king had preceded me to Coeslin, and I was following him. At noon I
arrived in a large village at no great distance from Coeslin. All the
peasants and peasant-women came to meet me, dressed in their holiday
attire, and the supervisor of the village, to whose hat a large bouquet
had been fastened, stepped up to the carriage to deliver an address to
me. It contained but a few artless words; the kind-hearted man begged
me, in the name of the people, to do their village the honor to alight,
and partake of some refreshment, for they desired to entertain the
"mother of the country," that the inhabitants of the cities might not
deem this an exclusive privilege. You may imagine that I allowed the
gentleman to conduct me to the farm-house where the entertainment had
been prepared. The cloth was laid on a round table in the small
sitting-room, and a huge omelet lay in a large pewter dish. I laughed,
and, to the great delight of the peasants looking through the open
windows into the room, ate a large piece, while the girls outside sang
with the voices of larks."

"And the omelet constituted the whole entertainment?" asked the crown
prince, laughing.

"Oh, no, my little epicure; there was also a dessert: bread, and fresh
butter wrapped in green leaves, and more fragrant than we ever have it."

"That is a good dessert," exclaimed the prince. "It seems to me the
entertainment was not so bad, and--"

At this moment the door opened. High-Chamberlain von Schiaden entered
and approached the king. "Pardon me, sire, for venturing to disturb
you," he said. "A peasant and a peasant-woman have just arrived. They
ask urgently and imploringly to see your majesty; and, on being told
that you were at dinner, the woman insisted only the more to be at once
admitted to her majesty, for she had brought her something necessary to
a good dinner. I confess, the bearing of these persons is so simple and
kind-hearted that I ventured to disturb you, even at the risk of being
rebuked for it."

"Where do they come from?" asked the king, musingly.

"From the lowlands of the Vistula, near Culm, sire, and it seems to me
they belong to the sect of the Mennonites, for they never take off their
hats, and address everybody with 'thee.'--These patriotic persons have
performed their journey on foot, and say that their eyes have known no
slumber, and their feet no rest, since they left their village in order
to see the king and queen."

"Oh, my husband," exclaimed the queen, "pray do not make them wait any
longer. They come hither to manifest their love for us, and love must
never be kept waiting in the anteroom."

"That is not my intention," said the king, smiling. "We will admit them
at once. Come, Lousia, let us go to your sitting-room, and M. von
Schladen will be so kind as to conduct them thither." He offered his arm
to Louisa, she wrapped herself more closely in the Turkish shawl that
covered her shoulders, and, taking leave of the two princes with a
tender smile, repaired with the king to her own room.

A few minutes afterward the door opened, and M. von Schladen ushered in
Abraham Nickel and his wife. The queen sat on a sofa; and the king,
supporting his hand on the back of it, stood by her side. Both of them
saluted the peasants, who approached slowly, and who, in their simple,
neat costume, with their pleasant, healthy faces, which betrayed no
embarrassment whatever, made a very agreeable impression. The woman
carried on her arm a basket carefully covered with green leaves. The man
held in his right hand a small gray bag, which seemed to be heavy. Both
saluted the royal couple very reverentially--the woman making a deep
courtesy, and the man bowing, without, however, taking off his
broad-brimmed hat.

"I suppose thee to be the king, our good sovereign," said the peasant,
fixing his fine lustrous eyes on the king's countenance.

"I am the king," said Frederick William, kindly.

"And I see by thy beautiful face," exclaimed the woman, pointing with
her hand at Louisa, "thee is the queen, the dear mother of our
country--Louisa, whom all love--for whom we are always praying, and whom
we are teaching our children to love and pray for."

"I thank you, kind folks," exclaimed the queen, feelingly, "I thank you.
Yes, pray for me, and above all, pray for Prussia; pray that she may be
saved and protected, for when Prussia is happy I am."

"Prussia will be happy again, and the Lord will not forsake her!"
exclaimed the woman. "All of us hope for it, and we wandered hither to
bring to our beloved king and queen the greetings of their faithful
subjects in the lowlands of Culm, and to tell their majesties that we
are praying day and night that God may drive the French from the
country, and render our king and queen again powerful. But with your
leave we should like to give you a small proof of our regard in the
presents we have brought."

The king nodded his consent, while the queen smiled and said: "What you
give us with loving hearts we will accept with loving hearts."

"What I have brought is but little," said the woman. "But I have been
told that our gracious queen likes to eat good fresh butter, and that
the young princes and princesses are also fond of sandwiches; now," she
added, removing the leaves from the basket, "this butter is clean and
good; I churned it myself in my dairy, and as the article is so very
scarce at present, I thought it would be acceptable, and the gracious
queen would not spurn my humble gift. Thee looks so kind-hearted and
good, dear queen, and I am glad to see thee face to face, and shall be
doubly so if thee will be so kind as to accept my butter."

"I accept it joyfully," exclaimed the queen, taking the basket which the
woman presented to her. "I thank you for your nice present, my dear
woman, and I myself will put some of it to-day on the sandwiches of my
sons, who shall eat them in honor of good Mde. Nickel."

"And now I should like to beg leave to present a small gift to the
king," said the peasant. "I--"

"Ah, I guess what it is," exclaimed the king, merrily. "You bring me a
fine cheese to be eaten with the fresh butter."

"No, most gracious king. Thy loyal Mennonite subjects in the province of
Prussia have learned with the most profound grief how great the distress
is which God has inflicted upon thee, thy house, and thy states. We have
learned that the funds of thy military chest are entirely
exhausted--that the French have put them into their pockets. All this
affected us most painfully, and we thought thee might sometimes even be
out of pocket-money. All the men, women, and children of our community,
therefore, looked into their saving-Boxes, and contributed joyfully the
mite that is to manifest the love we entertain for our king. And here is
the money we have collected, good king, and I would urgently entreat
thee in the name of our community graciously to accept the trifle
offered thee by thy faithful Mennonite subjects, who will never cease to
love and pray for thee."

"No," exclaimed the king, in a tremulous voice, his face quivering with
profound emotion, "no, I am not poor so long as I have still subjects so
good and loyal as you are!" And he offered his hand with a grateful
look.

The queen had listened to these words with increasing emotion; her
beautiful countenance was beaming with joy; her eyes were lifted to
heaven, and her lips seemed to whisper a prayer of gratitude. When the
king cordially shook hands with the Mennonite, the queen, overcome by
her feelings, burst into tears--tears such as she had not shed for a
long while. She took the costly Turkish shawl from her shoulders and
threw it around the surprised woman.

"Keep it in memory of this interview," whispered the queen, in a voice
choked by tears.

"Thee permits me, kind king, to give thee our little savings, and to
place them on this table?" asked Abraham Nickel.

"I do," said the king. The peasant stepped to the table. After
deliberately untying the string of the gray linen bag, he turned it
upside down, and poured out the contents. The queen uttered an
exclamation of surprise, and the king himself was unable to suppress his
astonishment; for gold-piece after gold-piece rolled from the bag and
fell ringing in a bright pile on the table. "Well, indeed," said the
king, "my people of the Vistula have good things in their saving-boxes."

"There are three thousand louis-d'or, dear king," said Abraham Nickel.
"Unfortunately, this is all, although we ardently desired to make you a
better present."

"Three thousand louis-d'or are too much," replied the king, "and I
cannot accept the sum as a mere gift. Accept my thanks, and rest assured
that I shall ever gratefully remember your kindness. I will, however,
accept it as a present now, but at a later day, when times are more
prosperous, it must be considered as a loan, which I shall repay with
interest. Accept a receipt, my friend, and tell the elders of your
community to preserve it carefully, that I may redeem it."[38]

[Footnote 38: The king did not forget his promise. In 1816, when the
fatherland had been delivered, he requested the authorities of
Mariemverder to give him information about Abraham Nickel. It was
ascertained that the poor man, owing to the calamities of war, had lost
his whole property, his buildings having been burned down by the enemy.
The king had them rebuilt in a much better style than before, gave him
ample means to start again, and redeemed the due-bill he had given to
the Mennonites.--Vide Hippel's work on Frederick William III., vol. iii,
p. 391.]

"The king's will be done," said Nickel. "If times remain as they are
now, thy receipt, dear king, shall be preserved in our community as a
sacred token of thy love. But when affairs are better, then thee may do
as thee pleases, and we will gladly permit our king to fill again the
saving-boxes of his people."

"There will be better times for Prussia," said the king, solemnly, "for
I hope in God and in my countrymen. I hope that we shall have strength
to outlive these evil days, and to be worthy of the prosperity to come.
Prussia is not lost; she cannot be, for her people and her king are
united in lore and fealty, and that is the source of heroic deeds. God
save Prussia!"

"God save Prussia!" exclaimed the queen, raising her tearful eyes and
clasped hands.

"God save Prussia!" whispered the peasant and his wife, bowing their
heads in silent prayer.



BOOK V.



CHAPTER XXXIX.

FRENCH ERFURT.


Erfurt had undergone a great transformation in the course of a single
week. The quiet German fortress, and the gloomy streets and deserted
public places, had become a gay capital. There were constantly seen
crowds of French footmen in rich liveries, high-born gentlemen with
their stars on their breasts, and gaping idlers looking wonderingly at
the change. But what feverish activity and toil had been required to
effect this! Paris--nay, all France, had to contribute their treasures.
Long lines of wagons had conveyed to Erfurt costly furniture, covered
with velvet and gilt ornaments, from the imperial _garde-meubles_ of
Paris, magnificent porcelain from Sèvres, precious gobelins and silks
from Lyons and Rouen, rare wines from Bordeaux, tropic fruits from
Marseilles, and truffles from Périgord. Not only the castle, but also
the prominent private residences, had been decorated in the most
sumptuous style. An army of cooks and kitchen-boys had garrisoned the
basements and kitchens filled with the delicacies brought from the
principal cities of Europe.

France had adorned Erfurt as a bride ready to receive her lord, and the
German princes had come as bridesmen. Nearly every German state had sent
its sovereign or crown prince. There were the Kings of Saxony,
Würtemberg, Bavaria, and Westphalia; the Dukes of Hesse-Darmstadt,
Baden, Weimar, Gotha, Oldenburg, Schwerin, and Strelitz, and more than
twenty of the petty sovereigns in which Germany abounded. For the first
time all seemed to be united, and to have one purpose. This was, to do
homage to the Emperor Napoleon.

He intended to come to Erfurt to meet again the friend he had gained at
Tilsit, the Emperor Alexander. Nearly eighteen months had passed since
the first meeting of the two monarchs. Since that time the morning sky
of their friendship had been overcast. The meeting at Erfurt was to
renew their former relations. Both emperors felt that they could not do
without each other, and they sought this meeting with equal eagerness.
Alexander desired to continue his war against Sweden for the possession
of Finland. Napoleon had not yet been able to bring the great struggle
in Spain to a successful end, and had, therefore, to remain at peace
with the only sovereign whose power and enmity he had still to fear.
Besides, the two emperors loved each other; they had exchanged at Tilsit
ardent vows. The world was aware of this, and could not but regard it as
a matter of course that the imperial friends longed to meet again. The
auspicious period was fixed for the 27th of September, 1808. The
appointed hour had struck; the cannon and the pealing of bells announced
the advent of Napoleon.--All the thoroughfares and public places were
crowded. The people were hastening with wild impetuosity to the streets
through which he was to pass; the members of the municipality, dressed
in their official robes, proceeded to the gate where they were to
welcome him; the windows of all the houses were open; and there appeared
beautiful women, adorned with flowers and gems, awaiting his approach.
The imperial guard formed in line to the soul-stirring notes of their
band, and the Kings of Saxony and Würtemberg, and the whole host of
German princes, had assembled in the large hall of the government palace
to salute the emperor.

A noise as of distant thunder seemed to shake the air; it drew nearer
and nearer. It was the cheering of the people and the soldiers, for the
emperor had now entered the city. The procession moved on, greeted by
the bright eyes of the ladies, and the shouts of the multitude.
Napoleon, wearily leaning back in the open barouche, drawn by six
richly-caparisoned horses, thanked the people with an indifferent wave
of his hand, and saluted the ladies with a scarcely perceptible nod. His
countenance was immovable, and the public excitement was unable to
betray him into the faintest sign of gratification. The noisy welcome
seemed as stale to him as some old song which he had heard too often. As
his carriage made but slow headway through the surging mass, the emperor
started with a movement of impatience. "Forward!" he shouted in a loud
voice, and the adjutants, riding on both sides, repeated to the
outriders, "Forward! forward!" The carriage rolled on at a full gallop,
regardless of the populace, followed by a cavalcade of marshals and
generals, and the coaches of Champagny, Maret, and Talleyrand. Having
arrived in front of the palace, the emperor quickly entered. At the
landing of the staircase he was received by the German princes, headed
by the King of Saxony. Napoleon embraced the old gentleman with an
expression of genuine tenderness. "Sire," said the king, "you see you
have made my heart young again--you have restored the elasticity of
youth to my old body. I hastened hither with courier-horses in order to
greet you first, and in the impatience of my heart I have been at the
window for several hours to have the happiness of seeing your majesty."

"Oh," exclaimed Napoleon, bending a sinister glance on the other
princes, "I would my love could succeed in rendering you as young as
your heart; it would greatly promote the welfare of Germany. You would
regenerate the ancient German empire, and transform it into a real and
lasting union." He cordially shook hands with the king, saluted the
other foreigners with an impatient nod, and walked to his rooms, where
his _valets de chambre_ were awaiting him.

Half an hour afterward Minister Champagny was called into the emperor's
cabinet. When the minister entered, Napoleon was pacing the room; his
hands folded, as usual, behind him. A map, covered with colored pins,
and on which he cast a long, dark look, lay on the table. Champagny
remained in respectful silence at the door, waiting the moment when it
would please the emperor to notice his presence. At length Napoleon
stood facing him. "Champagny," he asked, "do you know why we are here,
and what is the object of this meeting?"

"Your majesty has not done me the honor of making a confidant of me,"
said the minister, respectfully; "hence, I do not know, but merely
venture to surmise, what may be the object."

"And what do you surmise?"

"I suppose that your majesty intends to give a fresh impetus to the
friendship of the Emperor Alexander, and to conclude a firm alliance
with him in order to be sure of him, and to be able to carry on the war
in Spain without hinderance, and, if need be, if--"

"Well, why do you hesitate?" said Napoleon, impatiently.

"If need be," added Champagny, "to declare war against Austria."

"Then you really believe in the possibility of such a war?" he said.
"Yes, you are right; we must not suffer ourselves to be deceived by
apparent humility and equivocal friends; they have a smile on their
lips, but at heart they are as hostile as ever, and while with their
right hand they greet us, they are arming with their left. But woe to
those scoundrels if I catch them at their tricks! I will so punish them
as to shatter their thrones and crush their power. Those men who style
themselves 'princes by the grace of God' have never learned any thing
and never will. They close their ears with arrogance against the events
that unerringly speak to them, and they are still lulled to sleep by the
nursery-song of 'unapproachable majesty.' But I will arouse them by my
cannon, and my armies shall sing them a song of the new majesty that
Heaven has sent into the world. It has overtoppled the thrones of Naples
and Spain; so it will that of Austria, if such be my desire! Austria
must not persist in her insolence, and dare to menace me!"

Frowning, he commenced again rapidly walking the apartment. "Champagny,"
he said, stopping in the middle of the room, "come here close to me,
that even the walls will not hear what I tell you. You shall learn the
object of our journey to Erfurt, and I will inform you what you are to
do. I have hitherto treated you in the same manner as the admirals to
whom I give dispatches to be opened only on the high seas. You have now
reached them, Champagny, and shall, therefore, learn your orders. I have
taken you with me because you are to assist in accomplishing an
important object. I have selected you, and you alone, for I know that I
may confide in your discretion, and that you will not betray any secret
intrusted to you. Not a word of what you hear now must ever pass your
lips--not a hint even to Talleyrand. Talleyrand is a sneak and a
traitor, who would like to be on good terms with all parties, so as to
be sure of their support whatever may happen. Oh, I know him; I have
fathomed him, and can read the thoughts which he takes the greatest
pains to conceal. I know that I ought to distrust him--that he is
intriguing with Austria; and that, if I suffered him to share in our
scheme, he would betray the secrets of my cabinet to the Austrian
ambassador. I profit by his services whenever he is useful by his
intrigue and diplomatic jugglery; but, I repeat it, I do not trust him."

"Sire, I swear that I should deem myself dishonored if my lips ever
betray a syllable of the secret projects of my emperor!" exclaimed the
minister, solemnly.

"Well, well, I trust you," said Napoleon, nodding to him. "Now, listen!"
He took the minister by one of the golden buttons of his velvet coat and
drew him closer to his side. "I have brought about this meeting because
I desire to dupe the Emperor Alexander."

Champagny started and looked surprised. Napoleon smiled. "I shall
accomplish my purpose so far as Alexander himself is concerned," he
said; "but you must do the same with regard to the Russian minister,
hard-headed old Romanzoff. And let me tell you why. You know what I
promised Alexander at Tilsit, and by what means I succeeded in
winning his heart. He is an idealist; the plans of his grandmother
Catharine are constantly haunting him, and his thoughts are fixed on
Turkey--particularly on Constantinople. He is ambitious, fickle, and
visionary. I promised to realize his visions, and thereby gained his
confidence. I promised when the time came, not only not to oppose his
plans against Turkey, but to support them to the best of my power. In
consideration of this promise, he approved my ideas with regard to
Spain, and solemnly pledged me his word that he would raise no objection
if I hurl the Bourbons from the Spanish throne, and place one of my
brothers on it. He has kept his word, for, although the crown is still
uneasy on the head of my brother Joseph, yet he is a king, and Alexander
will believe that it is time for me to keep my word. His envoys, and his
confidential minister, old Romanzoff, have already urged the demands of
their master. Joseph having made his entry into Madrid, Alexander
desires to enter Constantinople. His impatience has risen to the highest
point, and to calm and conciliate him, I consented to his desire for a
meeting. He will renew his demands concerning Constantinople, and I
shall once more promise."

"Will your majesty promise him Constantinople?" asked Champagny.

"Yes," said Napoleon, smiling, "promise! But I do not intend to perform.
Never will I consent to give Constantinople to the Emperor of Russia,
for I would thereby surrender the key of a universal monarchy into his
hands--he would be at once master of Europe and Asia. He often
instructed Caulaincourt to assure me he did not want the whole of
Turkey; he did not claim any territory south of the Balkan, nor any part
of Roumelia--not even Adrianople--only Constantinople with its
neighborhood. He calls it the 'Cat's Tongue,' from its shape, and is
more anxious to obtain it than the ancient Romans ever were to indulge
in the delicacy of the tongues of nightingales. But if Russia possessed
this cat's tongue, it would be transformed into a wolf's, armed with
formidable teeth against all commerce and national intercourse. Never
shall I permit Russia to annex Constantinople, for that would be
destroying the equilibrium of Europe."

"But, sire, you yourself said just now that the Emperor Alexander was
most anxious to seize that city, and that the object of his journey to
Erfurt was principally to obtain the consent of your majesty to its
conquest."

"And I told you also that my object was to dupe and intoxicate him
gradually by delusive friendship and promises, by festivities and false
homage, until it is indifferent to him whether, as a compensation for
the acquisition of Spain by my brother, I give him Constantinople and
the Balkan, or something else, provided it is palatable. He has an awful
appetite for territory, and it is important to satisfy it in one way or
another. It is easy to persuade a hungry man that a very common dish is
good roast meat. It is our business, therefore, to suggest to the
emperor and his minister another conquest instead of Constantinople, and
so to dress up the idea that they may relish it, and ask for nothing
else."

"Ah, sire," exclaimed Champagny, sighing, "it will be easy for your
majesty to fascinate the emperor. But my efforts with his old minister
Romanzoff are likely to be utterly unavailing. I am not well versed in
that art of which you are a master, and he is too old and shrewd to be
fascinated by any one. He is not easily deluded, and his eyes are
steadfastly fixed on Constantinople. It is his most fervent hope to be
hailed in heaven by Peter the Great, after assisting Alexander in
accomplishing the will of his illustrious ancestor."

"And yet we must succeed," exclaimed Napoleon, stamping on the floor. "I
tell you, Champagny, I will and must succeed! No objections! I told you
that I have made up my mind, and nothing can shake my determination. You
will commence by encouraging Romanzoff in his hopes, and throw out only,
now and then, a vague hint that there are countries, the annexation of
which would be more important and advantageous to Russia. After having
prepared his mind in this manner for our plan, you will gradually, and
as soon as I have gained over the emperor, point out to him the conquest
which Russia ought previously to make, and prove to him that Moldavia
and Wallachia would be the very best territorial aggrandizement which he
could desire."

"Your majesty intends, then, to permit the Emperor of Russia to annex
Moldavia and Wallachia?" asked the minister.

"Yes. I must satisfy him with some compensation for Constantinople. And,
it seems to me, the fertile provinces of the Danube, if I grant them to
him immediately and unreservedly, are an acquisition which ought to
content any ambition. I cannot do without the friendship of Alexander at
this moment. Spain is in a state of insurrection, and, owing to
Joseph's timidity, will not be soon reduced to submission. Austria is
trying to get up a quarrel with us; she is secretly and perfidiously
preparing for an attack, and is only waiting for fresh defeats of my
army in Spain to declare war against me. Prussia, it is true, is not
able to injure me, for I am keeping her under my heel; but if I were
compelled to withdraw my foot for an instant, she would slip away and
unite with my enemies. Nor do I trust my other allies in Germany. They
are faithful and devoted only so long as they are afraid of me; they
would forsake me as soon as they see my position endangered. They
submitted reluctantly to my orders to furnish me with auxiliaries for my
army in Spain. If I were to insist on another levy, all these petty
princes of the Confederation of the Rhine would flatly refuse, provided
there was a prospect of their succeeding in their opposition. I must
keep them down by the terror with which I inspire them. I must prove to
all those revolutionary elements fermenting in Germany--to insurgents,
from the throne to the cottage--to all those miserable conspirators and
demagogues--that I stand as firm as a rock, from which their fury will
recoil. United with Russia, I will make all Europe tremble. The echoes
of the festivities of Erfurt shall penetrate everywhere, from London to
Constantinople; the whole world looks upon us and sees the Emperors of
Russia and France side by side. Amid these enchantments I believe I
shall succeed in persuading my friend Alexander to accept temporarily
Moldavia and Wallachia as a sufficient indemnity for Constantinople. You
know your duty now, Champagny; lay your mines skilfully, and you will
succeed in blowing up the old granite fortress of Romanzoff."

"Sire, I assure you I will assist you to the best of my ability," said
the minister. "Your majesty, however, will permit me to ask a question.
The promise of the annexation of Moldavia and Wallachia is not to be a
mere sham, and your majesty will really permit Russia to seize these two
provinces?"

Napoleon smiled, and, violently pulling the minister's ear in his usual
jocular way, said, "What a rash and indiscreet question! Of course, we
shall promise the annexation. When it is to be fulfilled we must delay
it as long as possible, and the rest will depend on events. In order
that I may know exactly how far you have progressed with Romanzoff, you
will write down your conversations with him every day, and also your
plans, hopes, and fears; I desire to have every night a letter from you
on the table at my bedside. Adieu!" He nodded pleasantly, and while
Champagny withdrew, the emperor called in a loud voice for Constant, his
_valet de chambre_.

"Did you send for Talma?" he asked Constant.

"Sire, Talma is waiting for your majesty's orders in the anteroom."

"Very well, let him come in. Have the horses brought to the door. All
the marshals and my whole suite must be ready. We set out immediately to
meet the Emperor Alexander, but I will previously put on my decoration
of St. Andrew's order; then my toilet will be complete.--Talma!"

Constant hastened into the anteroom to inform Talma that the emperor
wished to see him, and a moment afterward the great actor made his
appearance. "Ah, you have arrived, then, Talma," exclaimed Napoleon,
gayly, "and I hope you have brought with you the most select company of
actors, the finest costumes, and the best pieces?"

"I have brought hither, sire, the actors and the theatre of the
conqueror of the world," said Talma, "and that says every thing. The
eyes of your majesty will be on us; that is all that is needed to
inspire us."

"But you will also play before an audience such as perhaps will never
again assemble," said Napoleon, smiling. "You will have it occupied by
kings and sovereign princes."

"Sire," said Talma, bowing deeply, "where your majesty is, there is but
one king and master."

"No; there is another king, and his name is Talma," exclaimed Napoleon,
smiling. "These German princes may take a lesson from Talma as to the
manner in which a king should bear himself in prosperity as well as in
adversity. You will, therefore, perform Oedipus, Cinna, Mohammed, and
Andromache, that kings may see how true monarchs ought to behave. I
could have wished, however, that you had prepared not only the tragedies
of Racine, Corneille, and Voltaire, but also some of the comedies of
Molière. You know how highly I esteem them. But the Germans would not
understand them. We must show them the beauty and sublimity of our
tragic theatre; they will appreciate it better than the profound wit of
Molière. Make it indispensable for the actors, and very particularly the
actresses, to speak as distinctly and loudly as possible, that the
Emperor Alexander, who is somewhat hard of hearing, may understand. You
are the representatives of the honor of French literature; just say so
to the artists in my name, and order the ladies especially to refrain
from their wonted ogling and coquetry. Handsome Mademoiselle Bourgoin
likes also to make conquests, not only on the stage, but among the
spectators; and, while she is playing tragic _amoureuses_, she casts on
the audience glances that are more suitable to a beauty of the Palais
Royal than to a heroine, and which contrast strangely with the chaste
characters she represents. Tell her that I desire her to abstain from
such follies; she must not desecrate the buskin by the _minauderies_ of
a _soubrette_.[1] For the rest, I rely entirely on you, Talma. The eyes
of Europe are fixed on Erfurt at this moment, and your immortality is
sure."

[Foonote: Alexander fell in love with this actress at Erfurt. Napoleon
tried to prevent Mademoiselle Bourgoin from continuing this _liaison_,
but the actress was bold enough to defy the wrath of the emperor.]

"Sire, it was so on the day when, after the representation of Cinna,
your majesty told me that you were satisfied with me."

"And perform Cinna to-night. I enjoy the pleasure already in
anticipation. I ask another question. Did you bring the parts for
Voltaire's 'Death of Cæsar?'"

"For the 'Death of Cæsar?'" asked Talma, in surprise. "Your majesty--"

"Ah, you want to tell me that the piece is prohibited in Paris,"
exclaimed Napoleon, smiling. "But Paris is a Vesuvius--what is
inflammatory in France is perfectly harmless in phlegmatic Germany. Let
the actors prepare for performing the 'Death of Cæsar;' I will order it
to be played in a few days. Tell them so.--Well, Constant, what is the
matter?"

"Sire, your majesty desired to put on the large Russian decoration."

"Ah, it is true," said Napoleon; "come, put it on." And while Constant
put the broad _cordon_ with the diamond star over the emperor's
shoulders, and arranged it on his breast, Napoleon turned once more to
Talma. "You see," he said, "we monarchs pursue the same course you do.
We put on different costumes according to the part we play. I wore a fez
in Egypt, and to-day I put on the imperial star of Russia."

"But, sire, everywhere you play your part with masterly skill, and the
world, which is your audience, applauds your majesty," exclaimed Talma.

"Oh, it would not be safe to hiss me," said Napoleon, putting on his
gloves, and taking the riding-whip which Constant handed to him.

Accompanied by a brilliant suite, the emperor left Erfurt, and took the
road to Weimar, whence the Emperor Alexander was to come. French troops
lined the way, and behind them was a vast and motley crowd of peasants,
who had come from all parts to witness the cavalcade. Napoleon did not
hear the enthusiastic shouts of the soldiers, but he noticed the silence
of the people, who stared at him with the curiosity with which they
would have stared at any other unusual spectacle. He bent his head and
rode on, absorbed in reflection; the bridle hung loose in his hand, but
his white charger was accustomed to this carelessness, and galloped
forward, proud of his melancholy rider.

Duroc rode up. "Sire," he said, "I believe that is the Emperor
Alexander."

Napoleon quickly raised his head, and turned his keen eyes in the
direction the grand marshal had pointed out. An open barouche, in which
a single person sat, was approaching, accompanied by a few horsemen.
Napoleon waited. The carriage drew nearer, and the person seated in it
was recognized by his uniform and the _grand cordon_ of the Legion of
Honor.

"It is he--the Emperor Alexander!" exclaimed Napoleon, and rode forward
at a gallop, followed by his marshals and generals. The carriage of the
Russian emperor also moved more rapidly, and when both were near each
other they suddenly halted. Napoleon dismounted; and Alexander, not
waiting for the carriage door to be opened, jumped over it. The two
monarchs rushed toward each other with open arms, and the soldiers made
the welkin ring with "Long live Napoleon! Long live Alexander!"

Napoleon, disengaging himself from the arms of his friend, saluted the
Grand-duke Constantine. A horse was brought to the Emperor Alexander,
and as he was about to mount he looked in surprise at the splendid
animal, as well as at its equipment. "Why," he said, "this looks exactly
as though I were going to take a ride on my favorite charger in St.
Petersburg. It is precisely of similar color and trappings."

"That proves that the drawings which Caulaincourt sent me were pretty
correct," said Napoleon, smiling.

"Ah, then it is another attention of yours," exclaimed Alexander,
affectionately pressing the hand of his friend. "Your majesty is bent on
infatuating me. I feel perfectly at home on this horse."

"Ah, that is exactly what I wished," said Napoleon; "I sincerely desired
that your majesty should feel at home while with me. Well, if it please
you, let us ride to Erfurt."

"Very well," said Alexander, vaulting gracefully into the saddle, and
offering his hand to Napoleon, on whose right he was riding. The
emperors, chatting gayly, rode on to Erfurt. Behind them was the
Grand-duke Constantine, between King Jerome of Westphalia, and Murat,
Grand-duke of Berg. Then followed the suite of the marshals and
generals, and the procession was closed by the carriage of old
Romanzoff, Alexander's minister of state. Enthusiastic cheers resounded
along the whole road, and now Napoleon, with a serene bow, saluted the
multitude. Amid the peals of bells, the booming of cannon, and the
cheers of the soldiers and the populace, the two emperors made their
entry, halting in front of the hotel. Napoleon alighted first to welcome
his guest, and conduct him to the rooms prepared for his reception.

Late on the same day Napoleon received a letter from his Minister
Champagny. It contained only the following words: "Sire, I have held the
first conference with Romanzoff. It will be very difficult to persuade
this stubborn man that a piece of meat on the Danube is as good as the
cat's tongue, for which the old gentleman is as clamorous as a hungry
child for its dinner."

Napoleon took a pen and affixed the following words: "I have also held
the first conference with the Emperor Alexander. There will be no change
in my plans. Moldavia and Wallachia as an indemnity for the 'cat's
tongue!' We must succeed!" He then folded and sealed the letter, which
he immediately sent back to his minister.



CHAPTER XL.

THE CONSPIRATORS.


While the illumination, with which the good people of the French city
had celebrated the arrival of the two emperors, was in full blaze on the
principal thoroughfares, only a single dim light was to be seen in a
small building situated on the corner of one of the more quiet streets.
The other windows of this house were dark, and all was silent as though
no living beings were dwelling in it. From time to time, a
closely-veiled man appeared in the neighborhood, and, after glancing at
the light in the upper window, uttered a strange cry. A second light
was soon moving to and fro, and disappearing again. The man approached
and knocked repeatedly at the door, which opened and admitted him.
Twelve men had entered. The light was extinguished; the door bolted on
the inside, and profound silence reigned in the building.

The French police had devoted their whole attention to the principal
streets of the city, and to the vast crowds that followed the emperors,
who, accompanied by kings and princes, proceeded to admire the
illumination. There were no eyes for this small, dark house in an
obscure alley--no ears to listen to what was going on within. The twelve
men who had entered in so mysterious a manner, had assembled in a large
back room. They had whispered the password into the ear of the
door-keeper, and were at once admitted.

The windows of this room were covered with heavy black curtains, which
prevented sound, as well as light, from penetrating to the outside.
Thirteen candlesticks were fixed at equal distances in the plain white
walls. The man who had entered first approached the first candlestick
and lighted the two tapers. He who came next did the same with the next
candlestick, and the others followed their example. At this moment the
tapers on twelve candlesticks wore burning; and only the thirteenth,
which contained six tapers, had not yet been lighted. Around the long
table standing in the middle of the room, twelve grave and silent men
were sitting on cane-chairs, the high backs of which were carved in a
peculiar, old-fashioned style; these men were closely wrapped in black
cloaks, the capes of which concealed their heads, and their faces were
covered with black half-masks, which they had put on immediately after
entering the house. At the upper end of the table stood a black
easy-chair, which was alone unoccupied. The flashing eyes peering from
the capes were directed to this chair; no word was spoken; a breath was
almost audible in the motionless assembly. Suddenly a narrow, secret
door opened in the opposite wall, and a tall man, dressed and veiled
like the others, made his appearance.

The assembly remained as before, and seemed to take no notice of the
new-comer. The latter quickly walked to the thirteenth candlestick, and
lighted its tapers. The others immediately rose from their seats and
bowed deeply. "The president!" they murmured. "We greet him who has
called us--we greet the president!" He nodded, and then went to the
upper end of the table. Before sitting down, he opened a little the
black cloak enveloping his whole form, and the others beheld a heavy
silver chain adorning his breast, and to which was fastened a locket,
decorated with diamonds. In the middle of it a skull was to be seen, and
under it the inscription of "Liberty or Death!" As soon as the rest
beheld this, they also opened their cloaks. Each of them wore a similar
chain, locket, and inscription.

"Resume your seats, brethren," said the president, sitting down in the
easy-chair. He then said in a loud, solemn voice, "The hour has come for
us to act. Germany has called us, and, as obedient sons, we come!
Germany, our beloved mother, is here in our midst, although we do not
see her. She stands with veiled head and tearful eyes before her
children, and asks us to give her an account of what we have done and
accomplished. Brethren, are we ready?"

"We are!" all exclaimed, simultaneously.

"When we parted three months ago, my brethren," added the president, "we
resolved to meet here to-day. I see that all have remained faithful to
their oath. Not one is absent. No taper is unlit--the seats are
occupied. Germania, that knows who are hers, and how to call them by
their names, although they veil their heads,--Germania thanks you for
your fidelity. She awaits our report. Let us speak! He who arrived first
will commence."

One at the lower end of the table rose and bowed respectfully. "I
arrived first," he said.

"You have the floor, then, my brother," said the president.

"Make your report. Where have you been? What connections did you
establish? What hopes do you bring?"

"I was in Northern Germany," he replied; "for that was the order which I
drew from the urn when we met here three months ago. In the envelope
which I received, I found a paper containing the words: 'Ferdinand von
Schill at Kolberg.' The first lines of a song were affixed to this
address. I repaired immediately to Kolberg, and found Major von Schill
engaged in equipping and drilling the second regiment of Brandenburg
hussars, of which the king has appointed him commander. The regiment
consists of the four brave companies of cavalry with which Lieutenant
von Schill undertook his bold and successful raids."

"And did you deliver your credentials to the major, my brother?"

"I did. He received me with a joyful salutation, and sends his greeting
and fraternal kiss to the 'patriots.' He said to me: 'We pursue with
zeal and courage the purpose which we have sworn to accomplish. Go to
the brethren--tell them that they may count on me and my men, and on
the people, who are gradually being inspired with the true spirit, and
who will rise when the alarm is sounded. When the time comes, the whole
of Germany will rise to a man, break her chains, and expel the tyrant.
Let us prepare for this hour, in the North and South, in the East and
West, that the whole country may be armed at the first battle-cry of
freedom! Let us work and toil, keeping each other well informed of our
progress. We must all act on one and the same day!'"

"Did you hear the words and greetings of brave Schill, brethren?" asked
the president.

"We heard, and engraved them on our heart."

"It is now the turn of the brother who arrived next," said the
president. "Make your report."

"Soul-stirring hopes! and I wish you joy of our prospects," said he who
had now risen. "At our last meeting I drew from the urn the order to go
to Berlin and Königsberg. I was there! Oh, brethren, the days of freedom
are near! In Berlin, I was introduced by one of our friends to a circle
of patriots, who, like us, have formed a secret society for the purpose
of promoting the welfare of the fatherland, and of ushering in the day
of freedom. Those patriots are in communication with men sharing their
sentiments throughout the whole of Northern Germany; committees are
organized everywhere to instruct the people, to disseminate patriotic
views, and to gain adherents to the great league of the defenders of the
fatherland. Secret depots of arms are being established in every city.
The central committee, sitting in Berlin, have taken upon themselves the
task of watching the French troops, their numbers, location, and
strength; of ascertaining the disposition of the people in the
provinces, and of transmitting the results of their observations to the
branches of their league, as well as to the other patriotic societies.
Henceforth we shall also receive those reports, if one of our brethren
will call for them in Berlin.

"Thence, well provided with recommendations by the committee, I repaired
to Königsberg. From what I saw there I derived much consolation and hope
for the future of the country. The spirit of freedom is fermenting, and
high-minded men have erected at Königsberg an altar on which they intend
to kindle the sacred fire, that it may melt our chains. The name of this
altar is the 'Tugendbund.'[39] Noble and illustrious men are at the head
of this league; a prince is its president; Stein, the great minister, is
its protector; brave General Blücher, Gneisenau, the distinguished
officer--in short, the most eminent and popular men of Prussia are
members. King Frederick William has approved its by-laws; Queen Louisa
is enthusiastically in favor of its patriotic efforts. It does not
intend to enter upon a violent struggle, but will prepare the people by
its words and example for better days. It intends to increase the moral
energy of the nation, that it may also rise in its physical strength,
and be able to cope with the invaders. This league, my brethren,
purposes to propagate patriotism, courage, attachment to the sovereign
and the constitution, love of virtue, art, science, and literature. It
intends to cultivate the minds and hearts of the people, that they may
shrink from no sacrifice for the welfare of the country. My brethren,
the 'Tugendbund' is the head and heart of us all; we shall one day be
its arm and sword, and translate its teachings into heroic deeds. It
sends its greetings to the brethren, admonishing us never to cease
working and toiling, and to maintain a close connection with it, as well
as with all our friends, until the great day of deliverance dawns upon
us. But I do not bring greetings from that league alone. I have seen
also the 'Knights of Louisa,'[40] and received their fraternal kiss.
Brave Major von Nostitz, formerly an intimate friend and adjutant of
Prince Louis Ferdinand, is their president, and the noble queen has
permitted them the use of her name as a token of her sympathy. As a
further expression of her approval, she has presented the president with
a silver chain, and all the members of the order wear, as their regalia,
a silver chain and a locket with the queen's portrait. The 'Tugendbund'
and the 'Knights of Louisa' send greetings to the brethren, and will
unite with them in struggling for the same holy cause. They await our
messengers, and will inform us of every thing that is done by them, as
well as receive information from us concerning our own efforts."

[Footnote 39: The celebrated "League of Virtue."] [Footnote 40: Die
Louisenritter.]

"Your report is highly gratifying," said the president, after a pause.
"Deliverance will soon come, and true Germans will be prepared for it.
We will now listen to the third brother."

"I was in Westphalia, and bring cheering tidings to the patriotic
brethren," said the third brother. "The chains are still clanking in
unfortunate Westphalia, but the men are as undaunted as ever. Noble
Chevalier von Dörnberg sends his greeting. He admonishes us to toil, and
to be prepared. We shall have ready our swords and our strong arms.
Thousands of noble and faithful Hessians belong to this league. The
honest minds of the people cannot see what right the Corsican emperor
had to expel their legitimate ruler, and to place an Italian clown on
his throne. Intense indignation at the foreign yoke is prevailing
throughout Hessia and Westphalia, and every patriot rallies around
Dörnberg waiting for the signal to expel the oppressor. United with us,
Dörnberg sends his messengers and receives ours."

"Let the fourth brother make his report," said the president.

"I come from Bavaria, and bring greetings from the society of
'Concordists,' founded by Chevalier von Lang. This society is straining
every nerve to bring about the liberation of the country; it is, like
our league, preparing the people for their freedom. It is ready to enter
into relationship with us."

"And what brings the fifth of the brethren?"

"I bring fraternal kisses from the Rhine, where Jahn, the bold German,
is organizing the legion of the 'Black Knights.' I bring also greetings
from the chivalrous Duke of Brunswick. The 'Corps of Vengeance,' with
skulls on their black helmets, are rallying around the prince, who, with
fiery zeal, is preparing for the day when he will avenge the despair and
death of his father. The 'Black Knights' and the 'Corps of Vengeance'
send us greetings, and are ready to toil with us for the deliverance of
our country, and the overthrow of the tyrant."

The president requested the sixth brother to take the floor, and he too
stated that he had established connections with leagues having the same
common object. The other six made similar statements. Everywhere in
Germany they had found patriots, the same hatred of a foreign yoke, and
the most ardent longing for freedom.

When the twelfth brother had concluded his report, the president arose.
"Brethren," he said, encouragingly, "our night begins to brighten--the
day is breaking. Let us, therefore, be vigilant, active, and undaunted.
Gather around you the circles of the faithful; initiate and arm them;
teach them to be ready for the battle-cry, that they may rise and fight,
all for one, and one for all. Set out again on your travels; establish
new societies, and join, in a genuine spirit of brotherly love, such as
are already in operation. Work for the honor and liberty of Germany.
Thousands already belong to us, and you will still enlist thousands
more; that, when the trumpet sounds, the brethren may reënforce the army
of German liberty, not with a battalion, but with legions of warriors.
We have come hither to-day from all parts of Germany; we know not each
other's names, nor have we ever seen each other's faces; yet no one has
proved recreant. Go, then, again into the world, and pursue your sacred
mission. Three months hence we will again meet at this house at the same
hour, and confer as to what ought to be done. Bring the urn, and draw
your duties for the next three months."

The man who had last arrived rose and walked to the opposite wall, at
which the president pointed, as he said, "Press the golden button which
you see fixed in the wall."

The conspirator obeyed, and immediately a small door opened, revealing a
black urn, which he handed to the president, who said, "Come hither,
brethren, and draw your lots."

The twelve men rose successively and stepped to the urn, from which each
drew a small folded paper, and, approaching the light, immediately
learned his mission by opening the lot; as soon as he had read its
contents, he burned it, extinguished his tapers, and withdrew, without
word, glance, or gesture. Nine had already left. Only four candlesticks
remained lighted--three of the conspirators, besides the president, were
still in the room. Each of these three men stood near the burning
tapers, and looked in grave silence at the open paper in his hand.

"Why are you here still, brethren?" asked the president.

"My order says that I am to remain here," answered the man to whom the
president addressed himself.

"My order says the same," exclaimed the second brother.

"Mine is the same," said the third.

"Come hither and listen to me, brethren," commanded the president. "What
is the motto of our league?"

"'Liberty or death!'" exclaimed the three men, simultaneously. "Our
fortunes, our lives, our blood, for Germany! If need be, death for the
attainment of liberty, whether it be on the field of battle, in a
dungeon, or on the scaffold!"

"Or on the scaffold!" echoed the president. "Do you remember, brethren,
that, when we met for the first time, I told you Germany might stand in
need of a Mutius Scaevola, and require him to assassinate Porsenna? Do
you remember that we all swore, if the day should come to imitate that
ancient patriot?"

"We do."

"That day has come," said the president, solemnly. "Germany requires a
Mutius Scaevola, to kill Porsenna, and, if he should miss him, to suffer
as stoically as the Roman youth. Enough German blood has been shed.
Thousands of our brethren would still have to die, if we meet the tyrant
in open combat. We must do this, if we cannot get rid of him in any
other way. But before resorting to it, before permitting Germany to be
again devastated by revolution and war, we will try another way, the
course pursued by the Roman. When the tyrant is dead, Germany will be
free and happy, and the exultation of his countrymen will console the
conscience of him whom the world will call an assassin."

"That is true," said the three conspirators.

"Yes," responded the president. "There are four of us here. Two shall
avenge Germany. It is necessary that two should undertake the task, for
if one should be unsuccessful, the other may not."

"But there are only three of us here," said one of the disguised men.

"No," replied the president, "there are four; I am the fourth. You must
not prevent me from participating in a deed requiring intrepid courage,
and which cannot but involve incalculable dangers. I insist on taking
part in it."

"But the league stands in need of your services. What would become of us
if you should draw the lot, and, in carrying out the plan, fail and be
arrested?"

"In that case, brethren, you will announce on the day of the next
meeting, when the chair remains unoccupied, that the president has died
in the cause, and you will elect another chief. But, a truce to further
objections! Let us draw lots. Here are two white and two black balls
which I put into the urn. Those who draw the black balls will leave
together, and jointly concert a plan for the death of the tyrant. The
blow must be struck in the course of a week, while he is still in this
city."

"It must be," echoed the three, in solemn tones.

"But let us swear not to attempt any life but his--that no innocent
blood be shed--that the dagger or the pistol be aimed at him alone. Let
us swear not to undertake any thing that might endanger others!"

"We do so swear, for to destroy any but the tyrant would be murder. Now
let us extinguish all the lights save one, and simultaneously draw a
ball from the urn."

"Lift up your hands and let us see the balls!" said the president. There
was a white ball in his own hand. "It was not God's will. He did not
choose me," he said, with a sigh.

"He has chosen us," said the two who held black balls. They grasped each
other's hands, and their eyes seemed to read each other's thoughts. He
who had drawn the other white ball inclined his head and left the room.

"We go together; our ways do not separate," said the two who had drawn
the black balls, and walked arm in arm toward the door.

The president gazed after them until they had disappeared. Extinguishing
the last taper, he groped cautiously along until he reached the door,
and stepping out into a corridor, hastened across it to the landing of a
staircase, at the foot of which a small dim lamp was burning. Before
descending, he took off the mask that had covered his face, and the
cloak in which he had been wrapped, and, rolling them into a bundle, he
concealed it in a drawer fixed under the first step of the staircase,
and which was visible only to initiated eyes. In the flickering light of
the lamp the beholder might have discerned his tall, slender form, and
youthful countenance, whose manly expression contrasted with his long
golden hair. He hastened down-stairs, and crossed the hall into the
street. The noise had ceased, and nearly all the lights had burnt out.
As he turned a corner rapidly, he was attracted by a transparency. The
inscription, in large letters on a crimson ground, read: "_Gäb's jetzt
noch einen Göttersohn, so wäre es Napoleon_!"[41]

[Footnote 41: "If there were now a son of the gods, he would be
Napoleon."]

A flash of anger burst from the youth's eyes, and he raised his clinched
fist menacingly. "You miserable dogs," he said, in a low voice, "when
the true Germans come, you will hide yourselves in the dust!" He walked
rapidly until he reached a small house at the lower end of the street,
and softly entering, glided across the hall, cautiously ascended the
staircase, halted in front of a door up-stairs, and gently rapped. It
opened immediately, and a young woman of surpassing beauty appeared on
the threshold. "Oh, Frederick, is it really you?" she whispered,
embracing him. "You are mine again, beloved Frederick! You did not draw
the fatal lot! Heaven refused the sacrifice which you were ready to
make."

"It is so, Anna," said the young man. "But why do you weep, dearest? You
were formerly so courageous, and approved my determination to engage in
that desperate enterprise!"

She clasped her hands, lifting her large black eyes to heaven. "Abraham
was ready to sacrifice his son," she said, "but when his offering was
not accepted, he was thankful. Thus I also thank and praise God at this
moment!"

"Yes," said the young man, gloomily, "He rejected my offering, and for
the present I am free. I come to take leave of you, beloved Anna; I must
depart this very night."

"You are going to leave me!" she exclaimed in dismay. "Ah, you have
deceived me, then--you have drawn the fatal lot! You come to bid me
farewell, because you are to perpetrate the terrible deed!"

"No, Anna. I swear to you by our love I am free! I did not draw the lot.
But I must go to Leipsic. My mission here has been accomplished, and I
must be about my business. The president of the patriotic brethren must
descend from his exalted position, and once more become a poor
insignificant merchant. But I know, and predict it, Anna, there will be
a day when Germany will choose me to deliver her from the tyrant. A
presentiment tells me that the two who have drawn the black balls to-day
will not succeed. Their hands trembled when they held up the balls, and
I saw that they started when they perceived them to be black. Yes, they
will fail; but I shall not! It is reserved for me; a shout of joy will
resound throughout the country, and the people will exclaim, 'We are
delivered from the tyrant; Germany is free, and the name of our
deliverer is Frederick Staps!'"



CHAPTER XLI.

THE FESTIVITIES OF ERFURT AND WEIMAR.


Festivities were succeeded by festivities, amusements by amusements, and
these days of Erfurt glided by in friendship, pleasure, and love.
Napoleon was the host. It was he who received the Emperor of Russia, the
kings, the dukes, and the princes, with their legions of courtiers and
cavaliers, and treated all the members of these different petty courts
with imperial munificence. In return there were universal manifestations
of homage and devotion. The kings and princes every morning attended his
levee. He arranged the entertainments that were to take place, and
designated those who were to participate in them. All bowed to him, even
the Emperor Alexander himself. The most cordial feeling prevailed
between the two emperors. They were always seen arm in arm, like two
loving youths, jealous of every minute that separated them. At the
dinner-table, at the theatre, at the balls and concerts, they always
came together into the proud society that awaited them. At dinner,
Napoleon, playing the polite and obliging host, always had Alexander
placed at his right. At the theatre, directly behind the orchestra, were
two gilded easy-chairs on a small platform, and the two emperors were
enthroned on them near each other; on the floor behind this stood four
small arm-chairs, occupied by the Kings of Bavaria, Würtemberg, Saxony,
and Westphalia; and in the rear, on common chairs, sat the dukes,
princes, counts, and the large array of cavaliers and courtiers. The
queens and princesses were seated in the proscenium-boxes on both sides
of the stage, and the ladies of the _haute-volée_ in their rich toilets
and wealth of jewelry filled the first tier.

Napoleon kept the promise he had made to Talma: that celebrated actor
played before a pit of kings, and it was, perhaps, this fact, or the
expectant face of Napoleon, whose eyes were on him, or the presence of
Alexander, who was never weary of praising him--it was probably all this
that enkindled the actor's enthusiasm. Never before had Talma played
more effectively--never before had he assumed such a dignity for
enthroned greatness, or better studied its bearing in adversity. His
expression of hatred, love, and grief, in his impersonations, were never
more famous than in these gala-days of Erfurt. A sort of inspiration
pervaded the great artist, and his enthusiasm infected the spectators,
especially Alexander, who was carried away by Talma's passion in the
representation of "Oedipus." When the actor exclaimed, "The friendship
of a great man is a boon of the gods!" the Russian emperor bent over
Napoleon, and seizing his hand pressed it against his breast. A murmur
of applause was heard; all appeared astonished at this public
demonstration; even Oedipus on the stage seemed to be impressed, and his
voice trembled. Napoleon alone remained grave and calm, not a feature
changed or betrayed the satisfaction that his heart could not but feel
at this moment; he thanked Alexander only by a glance, and his attention
seemed to be again directed to the stage.

Late at night Napoleon found, as usual, a letter from his minister
Champagny. "Old Romanzoff insists on the prompt fulfilment of the
promises of Tilsit," wrote the minister. "Constantinople--nothing but
Constantinople--seems to the stubborn Russian an equivalent for Spain. I
believe the peremptory orders only of his master will subdue this
obstinacy."

"Ah," murmured Napoleon, crumpling the paper in his hand, "I must put a
stop to this. We must arrive at a definite result. I shall utter the
decisive word to-morrow!"

On the following morning the kings and princes appeared in vain in the
anteroom of the Emperor Napoleon to attend his levee. He had risen at an
unusually early hour, and, allured by the sunny autumnal morning,
visited his friend Alexander, who had just risen when Napoleon,
unannounced, entered with a smiling face.

"Ah," exclaimed Alexander, rushing toward him with a cry of exultation,
and embracing him affectionately, "sire, I dreamed of you all night; you
were here at my side, while I was sleeping, and all seemed bright, but
when I opened my eyes and did not see you, the room appeared dark,
although the sun was shining. But now you are here, and my dreams are
realized."

Napoleon's face suddenly turned gloomy, and the smile disappeared from
his lips. "I also had a dream," he said, gravely. "It seemed to me as
though I lay on a bed of flowers, and two stars were twinkling above me,
and as they came nearer I saw that they were not stars, but bright eyes
beaming in a manly face, and looking at me with tenderness. I was
fascinated. I raised myself as if borne on angel-wings, and stretched
out my arms toward the approaching form. Suddenly I uttered a scream;
the friend had been changed into a wolf that rushed toward me, and
fixing his eyes on mine, tore my breast and fed upon my heart. Oh, I was
in horrible pain--not imaginary but real--for I screamed so loudly that
Constant, my _valet de chambre_, hastened from the adjoining room and
awakened me. Even now that I think of it I tremble, and sadness fills my
soul." He bent his head on his breast, and, folding his hands behind
him, paced the room slowly.

Alexander looked smilingly at him, but approaching, said: "Sire, why
this melancholy? In truth, when looking at you, one might think, my
august friend, that you believed in dreams."

"I do," exclaimed Napoleon, quickly raising his head. "Dreams are
revelations from on high! Had Julius Cæsar believed in his dreams, and
in the prophecies of the astrologers, he would not have fallen by the
daggers of assassins."

"But how will your majesty interpret the dream that tormented you last
night?" asked Alexander.

Napoleon bent a strange look on his frank countenance. "Alexander," he
said, in a low voice, "could you ever transform yourself into a wolf,
and tear out my heart?"

"I, Napoleon, I?" ejaculated Alexander, starting back in dismay. "Your
majesty, then, does not believe in my friendship, in the profound
admiration for you that fills my soul? All I have said and done has then
been in vain! Instead of having won your esteem, your majesty distrusts
me, and believes the follies of the imagination in sleep rather than the
protestations of reason, interest, and friendship!"

"No, no," said Napoleon, affectionately, and almost touched by the
profound grief depicted in Alexander's countenance, "I believe that your
majesty returns a little the love I feel for you. I believe in your
noble heart, in spite of all dreams."

"And I swear to your majesty that you may believe in me," exclaimed
Alexander. "My whole policy, the new course upon which I have entered,
will prove to you, more convincingly than words, sire, that I am most
anxious to establish a firm alliance between Russia and France; oh,
believe me, sire, I gladly acknowledge you as my superior; all
promptings of jealousy are extinct in my heart; and when, in the face of
the enormous territorial aggrandizements of Franco, I desire an
enlargement of Russia, too, I do so not for my sake, but in order to
satisfy my people, that they may bear more patiently your operations in
Spain. For my part, I approve all you have done in that country. King
Charles and his son Ferdinand have abundantly deserved their present
fate by their incapacity and baseness, and I do not pity them. But one
must comprehend the system of the great Napoleon as clearly and
thoroughly as I do, to be able to pass over the great catastrophes which
your majesty has caused the world to witness. My people, and, above all,
my nobility, have not yet progressed so far as that, and hence the
attention of the Russians should be turned to important changes in the
Orient that they may look more indifferently at what you are undertaking
in the Occident. As for myself, I am your most faithful friend, and I
have proved it to your majesty by becoming the enemy of your enemies. In
accordance with your wishes, I have declared war against England, and
shall probably soon have to do the same against Austria, for I shall
require her in the most energetic manner to explain why she is secretly
arming; and, if her explanations should not be satisfactory, draw the
sword against her. Then, I suppose, your majesty will believe in my
friendship?"

"Oh, I believe in it now," exclaimed Napoleon, pressing the proffered
hand of Alexander. "For this friendship is my hope. United, we shall be
able to carry out the grand schemes which we formed at Tilsit. Striding
across the world, we shall lay it at our feet, and one day there will be
only two thrones; but in the beginning we must proceed carefully. It
took the Creator six days to make the world, and each day, most likely,
comprehended a vast number of our years. We shall create our world in
six years, and then we shall look at it, and pronounce it 'very good.'
But caution is indispensable, for our empires labor under many burdens.
You are waging war in Finland, and I am doing so in Spain. Prudence
advises us not to increase these embarrassments by seeking at this
moment for Russia an aggrandizement which would fill the world with
astonishment, and reëcho like a war-cry throughout Europe. Let the
dissolution of Turkey and her annexation to Russia be the keystone of
our creation, the last work of the sixth day. Let us erect the new
empires on solid foundations, which all the storms of this world may not
shake!"

"When Constantinople is mine, I shall not be afraid," exclaimed
Alexander, ardently.

"Constantinople belongs to the sixth day of creation," said Napoleon,
"but we are only at the second. Tilsit was the first, Erfurt is the
second."

"And on the second day you take from me what you promised on the first?"
asked Alexander, whose brow was losing its serenity.

"No, I only want to secure it to you," said Napoleon--"to give a firm
base to the edifice of our future. If your majesty should take
possession of Turkey to-day, one-half of Europe would arm to-morrow to
take it from you, and at this moment Russia is unable to brave so many
enemies. Austria would rise against you, for, whatever offers you might
make, she would prefer war to a partition of Turkey. England would see
her commerce endangered, and enter into the contest from calculations of
self-interest. Besides, Turkey herself would wage war with the
fanaticism of her menaced nationality. Where are the armies which your
majesty could oppose to the united forces of England, Austria, and
Turkey? It is true, you have an army on the Danube, sufficiently strong
to oppose Turkey, but too weak if the whole nation should rise. Your
principal army is in Finland, and you have no troops to war against
Austria. I alone, therefore--for, as a matter of course, I shall remain
your faithful ally--I should have to struggle with Austria, England,
Spain, and, perhaps, with the whole of Germany. To be sure, I might do
so, for I have sufficient power to cope with all my enemies. But would
it be wise to enter at once into enterprises so vast? And what for? To
pursue a chimerical project which, how grand so ever it may be, is not
attainable at this time."

"Alas!" sighed Alexander, "I see that your majesty is right, and that
mountain difficulties rise between me and my cherished project! I shall
have to return empty-handed to my ancestors, and when Peter the Great
asks me, 'What have you done to fulfil my will? Where are the provinces
that you have added to my empire?' I must hang my head in confusion and
say that--"

"No," exclaimed Napoleon, in a loud and solemn voice; "you will proudly
raise your head and reply: 'Look at Russia! I have made her great at
home and abroad. I have given to my people civilization and culture, and
added to my empire new provinces which promote its greatness and power
more substantially than Constantinople itself would have done. The
possession of that city is a dream. I have annexed to my country real
provinces.' That is what you will reply to your great ancestor, sire,
provided you go to him before having arrived at your sixth day of
creation."

Alexander was speechless for a moment, as if fascinated by Napoleon's
countenance, beaming with energy and determination.

"What provinces does your majesty allude to?" he asked, dreamily.

"They lie at the feet of Russia, and seem only to wait for your majesty
to pick them up. Moldavia and Wallachia you will present as new crown
jewels to your empire. They are substantial realities in place of
visionary wishes; solid possessions far more important than
Constantinople."

"That is true," exclaimed Alexander. "I have myself thought so for a
long time, but I dare not avow it, because I was afraid your majesty
would not agree with me."

"France knows no envy," said the emperor, "and Napoleon loves his friend
Alexander; he will gladly grant to him what he desires, and what is
attainable. Take Moldavia and Wallachia, sire!"

"You grant them to me," exclaimed Alexander, "and it is no empty
promise, but a definite and immutable agreement?"

"I say, sire, take them at once, and woe to those who would dare touch
your new possessions!"

"I thank you, sire," Alexander said. "You have given me a proof of your
friendship to-day, and old Romanzoff will have to acknowledge that he is
wrong in thinking that you only intended to amuse us with idle promises.
Ah, he is a hard head, and I believe your Minister Champagny cannot get
along with him very well."

"That is so," exclaimed Napoleon, laughing, and Alexander joined
heartily in his mirth.

"He will now demand guaranties," said Alexander, still laughing. "He is
so distrustful that he believes in no words, though from heaven. My old
Romanzoff believes only in black and white."

"We will so guarantee Moldavia to him," said Napoleon.

"Oh, not for my sake," exclaimed Alexander, carelessly. "Your majesty's
word is amply sufficient for me; let Romanzoff and Champagny quarrel
about the formalities."

"I will come to the assistance of poor Champagny," said Napoleon, "if
your majesty, in return, will be kind enough to make stubborn Romanzoff
somewhat more tractable. You have already occupied these provinces; it
will, therefore, be easy for you to annex them. France will give her
consent by a formal treaty, and not only engage to recognize this
annexation so far as she herself is concerned, but also to compel
Turkey, Austria, and England, to acknowledge it. Your majesty,
therefore, will break the armistice with Turkey, and advance your army
to the foot of the Balkan, then to Adrianople, and, if need be, to
Constantinople, in order to wrest these territories from the Porte. In
case Austria should intervene, we shall both declare war against her. As
for England, we are already at war with her. It will only be necessary
for me to give her a bloody defeat in Spain to render her insensible to
any enterprises we may enter into on the continent. All this we
stipulate not only verbally, but in writing. Will that satisfy your
majesty?"

"Me? I am satisfied with your majesty's word," exclaimed Alexander.

"Well, then," said Napoleon, with a smile, "the question is: Will your
minister be satisfied?"

"Of course, he will; and, moreover, I shall command him to raise no
further objections. Let Champagny and Romanzoff draw up the treaty; it
will then be merely necessary for us to sign it, and the whole matter is
settled. Our friendship will have been rendered more intimate and
lasting by new bonds, which nothing in the world will be able to
break."

"As to our other plans," said Napoleon, "we shall never lose sight of
them. Every day we draw nearer to their fulfilment. There is yet a vast
future before us in which to accomplish our purposes with regard to the
Orient, and to remodel its political affairs. Romanzoff is aged, and
hence, impatient to enjoy what he desires. But you are young: you can
wait."

"Romanzoff is a Russian of the old school," said Alexander, smiling. "He
has passions and inclinations from which I am free. I attach a higher
value to civilizing than enlarging my empire. Hence, I desire the
provinces of the Danube more for my nation than for myself. I shall be
able to wait patiently until our plans can be carried into effect. But
you, my noble friend, you ought to enjoy in tranquillity the great
things which you have accomplished, and no longer expose yourself to the
danger of war. Have you not obtained glory and power enough? Alexander
and Cæsar gained no more laurels than you! Be happy, and let us leave
the execution of our projects to the future."

"Yes, let us do so," replied Napoleon. "I am also longing for repose. I
am tired of conquest; it has charms for me no longer, and battle-fields
seem to me what they are--the graveyards of brave men prematurely taken
from their country and their families. No more war! Peace with the whole
world, made more desirable by the friendship of Alexander!" He offered
his hand with that smile which no one could withstand. "Oh!" he
continued, "I am so happy at having at length arrived at an
understanding with you, and strengthened our alliance, that I wish your
majesty had some desire that I might grant, and which it would be
difficult for me to fulfil. Is there nothing at all that you could
demand of me?"

"Yes, sire, there is," responded Alexander, "and I have both a wish and
a prayer to address your majesty. Sire, my ally, the poor King of
Prussia, and his noble consort, are still living in exile. I saw them,
with your consent, on passing through Königsberg, and confess that I
promised to intercede for them, and procure an alleviation of their
unfortunate condition."

"An alleviation of their unfortunate condition!" exclaimed Napoleon,
frowning. "Do they not owe their present fate entirely to themselves?
Why do they not pay punctually the contributions which I have imposed
upon them?"

"Sire, because they cannot! Prussia, exhausted, and reduced to one-half
of her former territory, is unable to pay war contributions amounting to
one hundred and fifty millions of dollars, in the short space of two
years, and to feed, besides, a French army of forty thousand men. Your
majesty ought to be magnanimous, and restore at least a semblance of
independence to my poor ally, by putting an end to the occupation."

"If I do so, Prussia would think no longer of fulfilling her obligations
to me," exclaimed Napoleon. "Instead of paying the war contributions,
she would be foolish enough to rise in open hostility against me. Queen
Louisa hates me; she will never cease to intrigue against me, and to
instigate her husband to pursue a course hostile to me. She surrounds
herself and her husband by men who share her sentiments, and are
plotting to revolutionize Prussia--nay, all Germany. There is, for
instance, a certain Baron von Stein, whom the king appointed minister at
the request of the queen, and who is nothing but a tool in the hands of
this intriguing woman. That Stein is a bad and dangerous man; he is at
the head of secret societies, and I shall immediately take steps to
render him harmless. He and the queen alone make Prussia oppose me, and
refuse paying the stipulated contributions."

"Sire," said Alexander, almost imploringly, "I repeat to your majesty,
Prussia is unable to pay the enormous amount which has even been
increased after the conclusion of the treaty of Tilsit, and, moreover,
in the short space of two years. Oh, your majesty, the fate of the royal
family of Prussia is truly pitiable and weighs down my soul with
remorse. Do for my sake what you are unwilling to do for the sake of
Prussia. Let me not return without consolation to that mourning royal
family. Let me enjoy the triumph of proving to them that my words and
intercession were able to obtain from your majesty what neither the
queen's letter, nor all the solicitations of Prince William, and of the
Prussian diplomatists, had been able to accomplish! Oh, sire, you see I
am vain, and would like to demonstrate your friendship for me."

Napoleon's countenance grew milder while Alexander was impressively
uttering these words. "Sire," he said, "who could withstand your grace
and magnanimity? I wished a few minutes ago to be allowed to grant you
some request, difficult for me to fulfil, in order to give you a proof
of my regard! Well, your majesty has really asked something very
difficult for me to grant. But I will comply for your sake, sire! I will
deduct twenty millions from the sum to be paid by Prussia, extend the
time in which the contributions are to be paid from two to three years,
and withdraw my troops and officials in the course of six months. Is
your majesty satisfied with this, and will you regard it as a proof of
my friendship?"

"It is a proof of your friendship and generosity, and I thank your
majesty," exclaimed Alexander. "Oh, how happy I shall be when on my
return I announce these glad tidings to the royal couple! Ah, my poor
allies have suffered a great deal, and if your majesty does not object,
I should like to invite King Frederick William and his consort, next
winter, to spend a few weeks at St. Petersburg. Does your majesty
approve?"

Napoleon cast a quick and searching glance at Alexander. "I do not
assume to decide whom your majesty should hospitably receive," he said,
"and I confide in your friendship--you are henceforth my ally. Get the
King of Prussia to join this alliance, as the latter induced you to join
the alliance against me; that would indeed greatly promote the welfare
of Frederick William, and put an end to the intrigues of his queen. But
now, sire, a truce to politics and business! We are agreed and shall be
united in peace as in war. Our business is accomplished, and the days we
still spend here must be exclusively devoted to pleasure and friendly
intercourse. The Duke of Weimar would like to receive us for a few days
at his capital, to arrange a chase and a ball. Suppose we go thither
this afternoon and spend two days? Would it be agreeable to you?"

"I would accompany your majesty anywhere, were it into Orcus," exclaimed
Alexander. "Let us go to Weimar!"

"And if you please, sire, to Jena also. I should like to show the
battle-field to your majesty."

"And I should like to learn from your majesty how to win such laurels. I
follow you as a pupil."



CHAPTER XLII.

NAPOLEON AND GOETHE.


On his return from the early visit he had paid to the Emperor of Russia,
Napoleon immediately went to his cabinet and sent for Minister
Champagny, whom he met with unusual animation; and now, that he deemed
it no longer necessary to mask his countenance, it was beaming with joy.
"Champagny," he said, "it will be no longer necessary for you to send
letters to me. The emperor Alexander has accepted my offers, and
Romanzoff will have to hang up his 'cat's tongue' in the smoke-house.
For the present the appetite of the Russian Emperor for new territories
has been satisfied with the provinces of the Danube, and he will compel
his minister to yield. The stubborn old fellow will have to give way,
but, we are obliged to give him our promises in black and white. I go
this afternoon with the emperor to Weimar to spend a few days. You may
in the mean time carry on the negotiations with Romanzoff and draw up
the treaty. I shall send you further instructions to-night."

"And will not your majesty be kind enough to give me also instructions
as to the course I am to pursue toward the Austrian ambassador, Count
Vincent?" said the minister. "He overwhelms me every day with questions
and demands. He is very anxious to obtain an interview with your
majesty, to learn from your own lips that Austria has nothing to fear
from France, and that your majesty believes in the sincerity of the
friendship and devotedness of his master."

"I believe in the sincerity of Austria!" exclaimed Napoleon, frowning.
"I know her perfidy; I know that she is secretly arming to attack me as
soon as she believes me to be embarrassed by the events in Spain. But I
will unmask these hypocrites, and meet them with open visor. I will wage
war against them, because they disdain to remain at peace with me. Now
that I am sure of Russia, I am no longer afraid of Austria, for Russia
will assist me in the war against her, or at least not prevent me from
attacking and punishing her for her insolence. It was in my power to
overthrow that monarchy as I have overthrown those of Naples and Spain.
I refrained, and Austria is indebted to me for her existence. Now,
however, I am inexorable, and when I once more make my entry into
Vienna, it will be as dictator prescribing laws to the vanquished.
Austria is arming, and France will arm for another Austerlitz. I
authorize you to repeat these words to Count Vincent. I myself will
write to his emperor and intrust my letter to the ambassador. Tell him
so." He dismissed the minister and repaired to the dining-room.

Breakfast was ready, and had been served on a round table in the middle
of the room. Talleyrand, Berthier, Savary, and Daru, received the
emperor, and accompanied him to the table, not to participate in the
repast, but to converse with him, as Napoleon liked to do while he was
eating, and to reply to the questions which he addressed now to one, now
to another.

"Well, Daru," he asked, taking his seat, "you come from Berlin? What
about the payment of the contributions?"

"Ah, sire, the prospects are very discouraging," said Daru, shrugging
his shoulders. "More rigorous measures will probably become necessary to
coerce those stubborn Prussians, and--"

The door opened, and Constant, the _valet de chambre_, entered,
whispering a few words to Marshal Berthier.

The marshal approached the emperor, who was engaged with the wing of a
chicken. "Sire," he said, "your majesty ordered M. von Goethe to appear
before you at this hour. He is in the anteroom."

"Ah, M. von Goethe, the great German poet, the author of the 'Sorrows of
Werther,'" exclaimed Napoleon. "Let him come in immediately." A moment
later Constant announced M. von Goethe. Napoleon was still sitting at
the table; Talleyrand was standing at his right; Darn, Savary, and
Berthier, at his left. The eyes of all turned toward the door, where
appeared a gentleman of high, dignified bearing. He was tall and
vigorous, like a German oak; the head of a Jupiter surmounted his broad
shoulders and chest. Time, with its wrinkling hand, had tried in vain to
deform the imperishable beauty of that countenance; age could not touch
the charm and dignity of his features; the grace of youth still played
on his classic lips, and the ardor of a young heart was beaming from his
dark eyes as they looked calmly at the emperor.

Napoleon, continuing to eat, beckoned Goethe, with a careless wave of
his hand, to approach. He complied, and stood in front of the table,
opposite the emperor, who looked up, and, turning with an expression of
surprise to Talleyrand, pointed to Goethe, and exclaimed, "Ah, that is a
man!"[42] An imperceptible smile overspread the poet's countenance, and
he bowed in silence.

[Footnote 42: "_Voilà un homme_!" These words created a great sensation
at the time, and were highly appreciated by the admirers of Goethe, as
well as by the great poet himself. His correspondence with friends
contains numerous allusions to them.--Vide "Riemer's Letters to and from
Goethe," p. 325.]

"How old are you, M. von Goethe?" asked Napoleon.

"Sire, I am in my sixtieth year."

"In your sixtieth year, and yet you have the appearance of a youth! Ah,
it is evident that perpetual intercourse with the muses has imparted
external youth to you."

"Sire, that is true," exclaimed Daru, "the muse of Goethe is that of
youth, beauty, and grace. Germany justly calls him her greatest poet,
and does homage with well-grounded enthusiasm to the author of 'Faust,'
of 'Werther,' and of so many other master-pieces."

"I believe you have also written tragedies?" asked Napoleon.

"Sire, I have made some attempts," replied Goethe, smiling. "But the
applause of my countrymen cannot blind me as to the real value of my
dramas. I believe it is very difficult, if not impossible, for a German
poet to write real tragedies, which fulfil the higher requirements of
art, and withal those of the stage. I must confess that my tragedies are
not so adapted."

"Sire," said Daru, "M. von Goethe has also translated Voltaire's
'Mohammed.'"

"That is not a good tragedy," said Napoleon. "Voltaire has sinned
against history and the human heart. He has prostituted the character of
Mohammed by petty intrigues. He makes a man, who revolutionized the
world, act like an infamous criminal deserving the gallows. Let us
rather speak of Goethe's own work--of the 'Sorrows of Werther.' I have
read it many times, and it has always afforded me the highest enjoyment;
it accompanied me to Egypt, and during my campaigns in Italy, and it is
therefore but just that I should return thanks to the poet for the many
pleasant hours he has afforded me."

"Sire, your majesty, at this moment, amply rewards me," said Goethe,
bowing slightly.

"Your 'Werther' is indeed a work full of the most exalted ideas," added
Napoleon; "it contains noble views of life, and depicts the weariness
and disgust which all high-minded characters must feel on being forced
to leave their sphere and come in contact with the gross world. You have
described the sufferings of your hero with irresistible eloquence, and
never, perhaps, has a poet made a more artistic analysis of love. Let me
tell you, however, that you have not been entirely consistent in the
work. You make your hero die not only of love, but of wounded ambition,
and you mention expressly that the injustice he met with at the hands of
his official superiors was a wound always bleeding, of which he suffered
even in the presence of the lady whom he loved so passionately. That is
not quite natural, and weakens in the mind of the reader the
comprehension of that influence which love exerted on Werther. Why did
you do so?"

Goethe looked almost in astonishment at the emperor; this unexpected
censure, and the quick, categorical question, had equally surprised him,
and momentarily disturbed the calmness of the poet. "Sire," he said,
after a brief pause, "your majesty has found fault with something with
which no one has reproached me heretofore, and I confess that your
criticism has struck me. But it is just, and I deserve it. However, a
poet may be pardoned for using an artifice which cannot easily be
detected, in order to produce a certain effect that he believes he is
unable to bring about in a simple and natural way."

Napoleon nodded assentingly. "Your 'Werther' is a drama of the heart,
and there are none to be compared with it," he said. "After reading it,
I am persuaded that it is your vocation to write in this style; for the
tragic muse is the favorite companion of the greatest poet. Tragedy was
at all times the school of great men. It is the duty of sovereigns to
encourage, patronize, and reward it. In order to appreciate it
correctly, we need not be poets ourselves; we only need knowledge of
human nature, of life, and of a cultivated mind. Tragedy fires the
heart, elevates the soul, and can or rather must create heroes. I am
convinced that France is indebted to the works of Corneille for many of
her greatest men. If he were living I would make a prince of him."

"Your majesty, by your words, has just adorned his memory with the
coronet of a prince," said Goethe. "Corneille would assuredly have
deserved it, for he was a poet in the noblest sense, and imbued with the
ideas and principles of modern civilization. He never makes his heroes
die in consequence of a decree of fate, but they always bear in
themselves the germ of their ruin or death; it is a natural, rational
death, not an artificial one."

"Let us say no more about the ancients and their fatalism," exclaimed
Napoleon; "they belong to a darker age. Political supremacy is our
modern fatalism, and our tragedies must be the school of politicians and
statesmen. That is the highest summit which poets are able to reach.
You, for instance, ought to write the death of Cæsar; it seems to me you
could present a much more exalted view of it than Voltaire did. That
might become the noblest task of your life. It ought to be proved to the
world how happy and prosperous Cæsar would have made it if time had been
given him to carry his comprehensive plans into effect. What do you
think of it, M. von Goethe?"

"Sire," said Goethe, with a polite smile, "I should prefer to write the
life and career of Cæsar, and in doing so I should not be at a loss for
a model." His eyes met those of the emperor, and they well understood
each other. Both of them smiled.

"You ought to go to Paris," exclaimed Napoleon. "I insist on your doing
so. There you will find abundant matter for your muse."

"Your majesty provides the poets of the present time, wherever they may
be, with abundant matter," said Goethe, not in the tone of a courtier,
but with the tranquillity of a prince who confers a favor.

"You must go to Paris," repeated Napoleon. "We shall meet again."

Goethe, who was an experienced courtier, understood the delicate hint,
and stepped back from the table. Napoleon addressed a question to
Marshal Soult, who entered at this moment. The poet withdrew without
further ceremony. The eyes of the emperor followed the tall, proud
figure, and turning to Berthier, he repeated his exclamation, "_Voilà un
homme_!"



CHAPTER XLIII.

THE CHASE AND THE ASSASSINS.


The two emperors made their entry into the decorated city of Weimar
amidst pealing bells, and the cheers of the people. The Duchess of
Weimar, just as she had done two years before, received the French
conqueror at the head of the palace staircase; this time, however, she
was not alone, but her husband, whom the emperor had formerly hated and
reviled so bitterly, stood at her side. Napoleon greeted the ducal
couple with his most winning smile.

The events of those terrible days of the past had been well-nigh
forgotten. A short time had sufficed to veil their memory, and Napoleon
was a welcome and highly-honored guest two years after the battle of
Jena. No vestige of the former distress remained; but the laurels of the
victor had not withered.

A vast number of carriages, horsemen, and pedestrians, filled the
streets. The whole country had sent its representatives to greet the
emperors. All the houses were ornamented with flags, festoons, busts,
and laudatory inscriptions. But no one cared to stay at home. The
inhabitants and strangers hastened to the forest of Ettersburg, to
witness the great chase which the Duke of Weimar had arranged in honor
of the imperial guests.--Several hundred deer had been driven up and
fenced in, close to the large clearing which was to be the scene of this
day's festivities. In the middle rose a huge hunting-pavilion, the roof
of which rested on pillars twined with flowers. Here the two emperors
were to witness the chase, and the two wings of the structure were
assigned to the kings, dukes, and princes. All eyes and thoughts,
therefore, were turned in that direction; and yet no one noticed
particularly two youthful forms, wrapped in cloaks and leaning against
an oak near the gamekeepers. The merry clamor and the bugle-calls of the
hunters drowned the conversation of these young men. No one was
surprised at seeing rifles in their hands; they might be hunters or
gamekeepers--who could tell?

"I believe," said one of them, in a whisper, "we shall accomplish
nothing. My rifle does not carry far enough to hit him, and we are not
allowed to approach nearer."

"It is impossible to take a sure aim from here," replied the other. "My
eye does not reach so far; I could fire only at random into the
pavilion."

"The order says, however, to strike him alone, and not to endanger other
lives," said the first speaker. "The president said, if we kill him, it
would be an act of justice; but if we are so unfortunate as to kill
another, it would be murder."

"Oh, what sophistries to lull the warning voice of conscience!" murmured
the second speaker; "I--"

Loud cheers interrupted him; the notes of bugles and the roll of drums
mingled with the general uproar. The people seemed wild with excitement,
and the deer in the enclosure huddled together in terror. The two
emperors with their suites had just arrived.

"Look at him, brother," whispered the young man to his companion; "look
at the weird contrast of his gloomy countenance with the merry faces
around him. He stands like some incarnate spirit of evil in the midst of
laughing fools."

"Yes, but he is himself merry, brother Alfred, or seems to be," said his
companion.

"The groans of poor Germania are not heard in the flatteries of her
princes, who are fawning around him, and guarding him so well that the
hand of a true German cannot reach him."

"But the sword is hanging over him, brother Conrad," said Alfred, "and
if it do not fall on him to-day, it will to-morrow. Let us wait and
watch for an opportunity."

"Yes, Alfred, let us wait. We know not what favorable chance may aid
us."

The chase commenced; amidst deafening shouts the game were driven from
the enclosure. Whenever a deer passed near the pavilion, the two
emperors fired, and when the noble animal fell at perhaps ten yards'
distance, the spectators cheered, the bugles sounded, and the two
imperial sportsmen congratulated each other on their skill.

"It is in vain to stand here any longer," said Conrad, impatiently. "We
shall be unable to reach him, and it is repugnant to my feelings to
witness this butchery."

"Let us go, brother," whispered Alfred. "We must try to find another
opportunity. Let us reflect. Do you know the programme of the day's
festivities?"

"I do. After the chase there will be a gala-dinner, and the sovereigns
will then ride to the theatre, where the 'Death of Cæsar' will be
performed. After the representation of the tragedy, there will be a
grand supper and ball at the palace."

"The 'Death of Cæsar?'" asked Conrad, musingly. "Does fate intend giving
us a hint thereby? Does it show us where to find him and to strike the
blow? Let us be the actors in a similar play, and perform our part at
the entrance of the theatre! Are you ready, brother?"

"I am ready," replied Alfred, sighing. "We have sworn to do every thing
the league orders us to do--we must obey."

"Yes," said Conrad, sighing, "obey or die. Let us take our daggers
to-night, and use them well. Let us place ourselves in front of the
theatre, you on the right, and myself on the left. We must strike at the
same time, when he alights from his carriage. While all are gazing at
him, let us stealthily slip through the crowd. When you hear me shout
'One,' you will shout 'Two!' We will then simultaneously rush forward."

"At what time do we meet?"

"At seven o'clock, and if we escape death and arrest, we shall meet
again at the tavern outside the gate. Farewell, brother Alfred!"

"Farewell, brother Conrad!"

On the same evening, a thousand lights illuminated Weimar. That part of
the city between the palace and the theatre, where the emperors would
pass, was especially brilliant. When after the chase they had withdrawn
to rest a little, and the high dignitaries of the court were waiting in
the large reception-halls, Grand-Marshal Duroc approached General von
Müffling, who had left the Russian service; he was now vice-president in
Weimar, and had been charged by the duke with the supervision of the
court festivities.

"Tell me, sir," said Duroc, in a low voice, "I suppose you have a good
police here?"

"Of course, we have," replied Müffling, smiling, "that is to say, we
have a police to attend to sweeping the chimneys and cleaning the
streets, but as to a _haute police_, we still live in a state of perfect
innocence."

"The emperor, then, is to go to the theatre, and your police have taken
no precautions for his safety?" asked Duroc, anxiously.

"I believe it is so, M. Grand Marshal. If you wish to make any
arrangements, pray do so, and I shall approve them."

"Thank you," said Duroc, bowing. "I have secretly sent for a brigade of
French gendarmes. Will you permit them to guard the doors of the
theatre, and keep the populace from the streets along which the emperors
will ride?"

"Do as you please, M. Grand Marshal," said General von Müffling, with a
slightly sarcastic smile. "A detachment of the imperial guard will be
drawn up in front of the theatre, and hence I deemed any further
precautions entirely superfluous."

"The grenadiers are posted there only as a guard of honor," said Duroc;
"I hasten to send the gendarmes thither."

Fifteen minutes afterward the whole route from the palace to the theatre
was guarded by gendarmes, who pushed back all who tried to cross the
narrow sidewalks, or to step into the street along which the carriages
were rolling. A double line of grenadiers was drawn up in front of the
theatre. An officer walked up and down, gazing anxiously along the
street, in order to command the drummers to beat according to the rank
of the sovereigns arriving. For the emperors they were to roll thrice,
for the kings twice, and but once for the sovereign dukes and princes.
The drummers had just rolled three times, for the Emperor Alexander had
arrived. Another magnificent carriage approached; the coachman on the
box was covered with gold lace, and two runners, entirely clad in gold
brocade, accompanied. Two rolls had already been beaten, a third was
about to commence, when the commanding officer waved his hand angrily,
and shouted, "Silence! It is only a king!" The stout form of the King of
Würtemberg appeared, and hastened into the theatre. Another carriage
approached. The drummers beat louder than before. Once, twice! And then
a third roll. The grenadiers presented arms, and the people rushed
forward. It was the Emperor Napoleon.

At this moment a young man elbowed himself through the crowd. He was
already close to the emperor. Only a single gendarme was in front of
him.

"One!" he shouted in a ringing voice, pushing aside the gendarme. "One!"
he repeated. No voice replied.

"Stand back!" cried the guard.

The emperor walked past. He had heard the shout. At the door he turned
his stern face, while his eyes flashed for a moment searchingly over the
crowd. He then slowly walked on. No accident disturbed the
representation, and the daggers that had been lurking outside for the
modern Cæsar had failed to strike him.

On the same evening the two conspirators met at the place agreed on.
With disappointed faces they seemed to read each other's secret
thoughts.

"Why did you not reply to me, brother?" asked Conrad. "Why were you
silent when I gave the signal?"

"I was unable to get through the crowd," said Alfred. "The gendarmes
refused to let me pass, and it appeared to me they were eying me
suspiciously. It was impossible to penetrate to the spot indicated. I
heard you call, but could not reply; I was too far from you."

"The work, then, must be done to-morrow," said Conrad, gravely and
sadly.

"Remember, brother, that the order of the president was to strike the
blow within a week. To-morrow is the last day!"

"Yes, to-morrow we must desecrate the sacred cause of the fatherland by
an assassination," said Alfred, sighing. "But we have sworn not to
shrink from death if the league requires it, and must obey!"

"We must obey or die," murmured Conrad. "Do you know the programme of
to-morrow?"

"I do, brother. Napoleon wishes to show the battle-field of Jena to the
Emperor Alexander, and to the kings and princes; and the Duke of Weimar,
who participated in the battle at the head of a Prussian division, has
arranged, in harmless self-irony, a hare-hunt. That will be a highly
dignified celebration of the anniversary of that battle."

"Oh, Germania! how thou must suffer!" groaned Conrad. "It is time for us
to place a bloody offering on thy altar! It must be done to-morrow. The
road to Jena crosses the small forest of the Webicht. Let us place
ourselves there close to the road, armed with our muskets. One of their
balls will surely hit him. We must both shoot at the same time."

"To-morrow, then, in the forest of the Webicht!"

On the following day the imperial and royal visitors repaired to Jena,
in order to hunt hares on the battle-field of Napoleon's famous victory.
On the Landgrafenberg, where Napoleon two years ago had spent the night
before the battle at a bivouac-fire, a magnificent tent had been
erected, and the Duke of Weimar begged leave to call it henceforth
"Napoleonsberg." Napoleon granted the request, smilingly, and then asked
the company to take a walk with him across the battle-field, that he
might explain to them the various operations of the great struggle. This
request of course was received with general joy, and the party descended
into the valley. Napoleon led the way; on his right Alexander, on his
left Prince William of Prussia, whom he had taken care to have by his
side. All listened in breathless silence to his words, which were
growing more and more enthusiastic. He disclosed to his audience his own
plans and motives, as well as the disastrous dispositions of his
enemies. Alexander listened to him musingly; the German kings and
princes, in breathless suspense. The French marshals, however, looked
discontented while their sovereign was speaking. Once, when the emperor
was just expatiating in glowing words on the correct mode of warfare,
his eyes happened to meet the countenance of Berthier, Prince of
Neufchatel, and noticed the dissatisfied expression of his features.

When Napoleon repaired to his tent, he ordered Marshal Berthier to
follow him. "Berthier, why did you look so angry?"

"Sire," faltered Berthier, in confusion, "I do not know that I did."

"But I know it. Why were you dissatisfied? Speak! I command you!"

"Well, if your majesty insists, I will speak," exclaimed Berthier. "Your
majesty apparently forgot what you have repeated to us so often: that we
ought always to treat our allies as though they afterward might become
our enemies. Is your majesty not afraid lest the sovereigns should
profit hereafter by the excellent lessons given them to-day?"

The emperor smiled. "Berthier," he said, kindly, "that is truly a bold
rebuke, and hence I like it. I believe you take me for a babbler. You
think, then, Prince of Neufchatel," he added, bending over Berthier and
pulling his ear, "that I have put whips into the hands of the German
princes which they might use against us! Be not alarmed; I do not tell
them every thing." And Napoleon opened the door of the tent with a
laugh, and gave the signal for the hunt to begin.

Not a human voice was to be heard in the forest of Webicht, which was
generally much frequented. It was but a bird's song that broke the deep
silence. Suddenly there was a rustling noise in the autumnal leaves
covering the ground, and quick footsteps approached the road crossing
the middle of the forest.

Two young men, wrapped in cloaks, glided through the woods, and
stationed themselves behind a couple of large beeches. They looked
searchingly along the road; opened their cloaks, and raised their
weapons to examine them, that they might make sure work.

"All right," said Conrad.

"All right," echoed Alfred.

"When I call out 'One,' we must both fire!"

"Yes, but we have been ordered to kill none but him," said Alfred,
hesitatingly. "What if he does not ride alone? If one of the balls
should strike an innocent man?"

"If one of his marshals or adjutants sits beside him he would not be an
innocent man, for he has assisted in making our country unhappy! Let
German soil drink his blood! He must not prevent us from carrying out
our purpose. We cannot shrink from it, because we have sworn obedience
to the league, and this is the last day. We must do or die!"

"Hush! let us listen and watch for him, brother Conrad." Soon the roll
of wheels was heard. The two conspirators raised their muskets as the
carriage approached. It could be seen that it contained two persons.

"It is he," whispered Alfred. "But who is seated by his side?"

"One of his adjutants," said Conrad; "no matter! Let us aim, brother."
The large trunks of the beeches concealed the forms of the conspirators.

"When I command, we fire!" whispered Conrad.

So close were they now that the persons seated in the coach could be
recognized. The man sitting on the right was Napoleon. But who was the
young man with the fine but downcast face?

"Stop," whispered Alfred. "Do not shoot, brother! He is no Frenchman! He
is a German prince, the brother of the King of Prussia! We cannot fire!"

"No, we must not fire at the brother of the unfortunate King of
Prussia!" murmured Conrad, lowering his arm. As the carriage passed by,
the conspirators could distinctly hear the words of Napoleon and his
companion. "A fine, fragrant forest," said the former, in his sonorous
voice, "just the thing for German poets and dreamers. For I suppose,
prince, the Germans like to dream?"

"Sire," said Prince William, mournfully, "I believe your majesty has at
last disturbed them in their visionary musings."

Napoleon burst into laughter, which resounded through the forest, and
startled the pale men standing behind the trees, and gazing gloomily
after him. He chatted gayly beside Prince William, without suspecting
that he, the brother of the King of Prussia, whom Napoleon had humbled
so often and so grievously, had just saved his life.

"We have failed again," said Alfred, when the noise of the wheels was
dying away in the distance. "The last day is nearly gone. What shall we
reply to the brethren when they ask us how we have carried out the order
which our country sent us? What shall we reply when they call us to
account?"

"We shall tell them that Heaven refused to allow the sacred cause of
Germany to be desecrated by murder!" exclaimed Conrad, gravely; "that,
faithful to our obligation, although with reluctant hearts, we tried to
accomplish our mission, but that we were restrained and our strength was
paralyzed. You will tell them so, brother--you alone. Tell them that I
was not forgetful of the oath I took on the day I joined the league.
Having been unable to obey, I die! Farewell, brother!" A shot reëchoed
in the silent forest.

Not long after, a man, with livid cheeks and wild eyes, might have been
seen hastening across the distant heath on the other side of the woods.
As he ran he whispered, "Unhappy Germany!" These were the last words of
his companion Conrad, who lay dead on the fallen leaves.

Two days after their return from Weimar, on the 10th of October, the
emperors signed the treaty about which they had agreed, and in which
Romanzoff had been obliged to acquiesce. France consented in this treaty
that Russia should take possession of Moldavia and Wallachia. Russia
also agreed to whatever changes Napoleon had made, and would hereafter
make, in regard to the government of Spain, and engaged to assist him in
a war against Austria.

On the 14th of October they left Erfurt, and returned to their states.
The object of their meeting had been attained; both had derived benefit
from it. Alexander had gained Moldavia and Wallachia; Napoleon, a
powerful friend and ally. Europe received tremblingly the news of this
alliance of the West and the East. What hopes remained to Germany!--to
that dismembered country, over whose battle-fields Russia and France had
joined hands and concerted measures against the most powerful of its
states--Austria!



BOOK VI.



CHAPTER XLIV.

THE WAR WITH AUSTRIA.


Napoleon, in ill-humor, was pacing his cabinet, while Minister Champagny
was standing at the large desk, covered with papers and maps, where he
was engaged in folding and arranging several documents.

"They are bent on having war, those insolent Austrians," said Napoleon,
after a pause, "and they want it now, because they believe that I am not
prepared for it. What an unheard-of presumption, to arrest my couriers,
and take their papers from them! And now that I am taking
reprisals--that I on my part have issued orders to arrest their couriers
on all highways, and in all cities, and to take their papers from them,
the Austrians are raising a hue-and-cry about the violation of
international law; and if war should break out, the blame, as usual,
will be laid at my door!" He paused, but added immediately:

"I wished to remain at peace with Germany for the present, for I have
enough to do with those wretched Spaniards, who are rising against my
troops like a vast band of guerillas. But that is just what is giving
the Austrians courage. They believe me to be weakened, isolated, and
unable to wage war with any other power, and hence the cowards take
heart, and think they can obtain spoils from the lion. But, patience!
the lion retains his former strength and vigor, and will finally destroy
his enemies. Champagny, I suppose you have already sent the Austrian
ambassador his passports?"

"Yes, sire, Count Metternich has departed with all the members of his
legation."

"Very well; let him go to Vienna and announce my speedy arrival to the
Emperor Francis," exclaimed Napoleon, impatiently.

"Sire, Count Metternich will meet the emperor no longer in Vienna," said
Champagny calmly.

"No longer in Vienna!" exclaimed Napoleon, laughing scornfully. "Does
Francis II. suspect already that I am about to come, and has he taken to
his heels even before I have left Paris?"

"No, sire; it seems, on the contrary, that the Emperor Francis intends
to put himself at the head of his troops."

Napoleon burst into a loud laugh. "The Austrians, then, believe my
soldiers to be sparrows, and think they can drive them out by setting
up a scarecrow! If the Emperor Francis himself intends to command, he
will command the army only to retreat, for the word 'forward' is not to
be found in his dictionary. Have you looked over the dispatches from
Germany, and can you report to me what they contain?"

"I am ready, sire," said Champagny, glancing at the papers.

"Then commence," ordered the emperor, sitting down, and taking from the
table a penknife, with which he whittled the back of the chair.

"The four corps of the Austrian army, with the two reserve corps, moved
on the first of April toward the frontier of Bavaria," said Champagny.

"As soon as they cross the Inn and enter the territory of my ally, war
will break out," exclaimed Napoleon. "Proceed!"

"On the evening of the 9th of April, the Archduke Charles and his
brother, the emperor, arrived with the army at Linz. Thence he sent one
of his adjutants to the King of Bavaria, to whom was to be delivered an
autograph letter, in which the archduke announced to the king that he
had received orders to advance, and would regard and treat as enemies
all that would resist his progress, no matter whether they were German
or foreign troops."

"Why, that is a regular declaration of war," said the emperor, piercing
the velvet cushion of the chair with his penknife.

"Yes, sire, it is," said Champagny, taking up another paper. "We have
received, moreover, a copy of the war manifesto which the Emperor of
Austria has published in the _Vienna Court Gazette_, and which was drawn
up by Gentz, the well-known pamphleteer."

"Gentz!" ejaculated Napoleon. "Do not those warlike Austrians see that
that is their death-knell, and that it is a bad omen for them that Gentz
had to blow the war-trumpet? Is it not the same Gentz who drew up the
high-sounding manifesto for the King of Prussia, previous to the battle
of Jena?"

"Yes, sire, the same."

"Well, that was in 1806; the six has been transformed into a nine--that
is all the difference," exclaimed Napoleon. "Every thing else has
remained unchanged. I suppose the same language of self-reliance, of a
wounded sense of honor, and of noble patriotism, is to be found in the
manifesto of 1809 as in that of 1806? Oh, I know it! Those Germans ever
remain the same; they always believe their cause just; they always want
peace, and find war, without any fault of theirs. Those Austrians have
irritated me for about a year past; they have secretly armed during that
time. The busier they believed me to be in Spain, the more energetically
they continued their preparations; and whenever I had them questioned
about their motives and objects, they made evasive and unsatisfactory
replies. The natural consequence of all this was, that I moved my troops
toward the German frontier; that Davoust, Lannes, and Massena, with
three corps, had to approach Austria, and hold themselves in readiness
to cross its boundaries when the Austrians enter Bavarian territory; and
that, finally, I issued orders to the princes of the Confederation of
the Rhine to place their federal quota on a war-footing, and prepare for
the outbreak of hostilities. No sooner had this been done, than the
Austrians arrested my courier contrary to international law, and
compelled me to retaliate. Nevertheless, I suppose, they are entirely
innocent now, and the manifesto of the Emperor Francis proves clearly
that France, by her incessant insults and encroachments, by her
insatiable thirst after new territories, and by her boundless ambition,
compelled Austria to take up arms. Is it not so?"

"Yes, sire, it is so. There are at the conclusion of this manifesto
words and ideas that are almost identical with those your majesty
uttered just now."

"Read this conclusion," said Napoleon, leaning back in his chair.

Champagny read: "The Emperor Francis will never deem himself authorized
to meddle with the domestic affairs of foreign states, or to arrogate to
himself a controlling influence on their system of government, on their
legislative and administrative affairs, or on the development of their
military strength. He demands a just reciprocity. Far from being
actuated by motives of ambition or jealousy, the emperor will envy no
other sovereign his greatness, his glory, his legitimate influence; the
exclusive assumption of such advantages alone is the source of general
apprehensions and the germ of everlasting wars. Not France, in the
preservation and welfare of which his majesty will always take the
liveliest interest, but the uninterrupted extension of a system which,
under the name of the French Empire, acknowledges no other law in Europe
than its own, has brought about the present confusion; it will be
removed, and all the wishes of his majesty will be fulfilled, when that
exclusive system will be replaced by one of moderation, self-restraint,
the reciprocal independence of all the states, respect for the rights
of every power, the sacred observance of treaties, and the supremacy of
peace. Then alone can the Austrian monarchy and the whole political
fabric of Europe be maintained in a prosperous condition."

"Enough!" exclaimed Napoleon, rising from his chair, and throwing the
penknife into a distant corner of the room. "I shall pay Austria for
this insolence, and there will be a day when the Emperor Francis and his
scribbler Gentz will repent of this miserable pamphlet! I will have to
treat the former as I have treated the kings of Naples and Spain. The
house of the Hapsburgs must cease to reign. Or, if in my patience, I
should allow the imperial throne of Austria to exist further under their
rule, it shall not be occupied by this dull and obstinate man, but by
his brother, the Elector of Würzburg![43] But woe to this M. Gentz, who
has dared to irritate me anew! Once already I gave orders to arrest and
punish him. He succeeded in making his escape. My police will be more
cautious this time. When I have made my entry into Vienna, I shall
remember M. Gentz! Ah, somebody is coming!"

[Footnote 43: After Napoleon had made his entry into Vienna, he really
requested the Emperor Francis to abdicate in favor of the latter's
brother. The battle of Aspern prevented this plan from being carried
into effect.]

The door opened, and one of the imperial adjutants entered.

"Sire," he said, handing a sealed letter to Napoleon, "the director of
the Paris telegraph-office has just brought this."

"At last!" exclaimed Napoleon, seizing the letter, and then motioning
him to leave the room.

"At last!" he repeated, breaking the seal. His eyes passed over the
paper with an expression of uncontrollable impatience. His countenance
brightened, and a faint blush came to his cheeks. He raised his eyes
toward the minister. "Champagny," he said, in a joyful voice, "war has
commenced; the Austrians have crossed the Inn and invaded the states of
my ally the King of Bavaria. The decisive moment is at hand. I shall set
out this very night. To-day is the 12th of April; on the 17th I shall be
at Donauwörth and put myself at the head of my army. Now let us go to
work and make our dispositions.--What is the matter now?"

The door opened again, and the court-marshal appeared on the threshold
to announce dinner.

Napoleon cast a hasty glance at the clock. "Indeed, it is six o'clock!"
he exclaimed. "But I cannot go yet. Have every thing kept in readiness.
Tell the empress I wish she would wait for me in the dining-room. I will
soon be with her. Send for the Prince de Benevento and the Duke
d'Otranto. I want to see them immediately. Now come, Champagny," he
said, when the court-marshal had withdrawn; "let us go to work. We have
a great many things to attend to, and there is but little time left,
for, as I told you before, I will set out this very night."

Fifteen minutes afterward Talleyrand and Fouché entered the cabinet
agreeably to the emperor's orders. They found him amid his maps, on
which he marched the various armies by means of the colored pins which
Champagny handed to him.

"Gentlemen," exclaimed Napoleon, saluting the newcomers, "the Austrians
have commenced war; come hither and see!"

In the mean time the empress, according to the wishes of her consort,
had repaired with her ladies of honor to the dining-room, and waited for
the arrival of Napoleon. The dishes had already been served up; for,
owing to the hasty manner in which the emperor liked to dine, the
various courses could not successively be brought from the kitchen, but
had to be placed on the table before dinner commenced. A number of
silver warming-vessels, filled with hot water, always stood on the
imperial table. Only the roast chicken, which every day made the last
course, and was one of the emperor's favorite dishes, had remained in
the kitchen; it was still turning on the spit, and waiting for the
moment when it was to be carried up. But this moment was delayed an
unusually long time to-day. The first chicken had long ago been replaced
by a second, a third, and a fourth, and this one had been roasting so
much that it was tough and juiceless. It had not yet been called for.
The waiters returned from time to time into the kitchen for boiling
water, to fill anew the silver vessels on which the dishes were kept
warm.

"If that goes on in the same manner we shall depopulate the whole
poultry-yard," grumbled the chief cook, ordering a fresh half-dozen of
young chickens to be brought in and prepared for roasting.

The emperor did not come. The clock struck seven, eight, nine, and ten,
and Napoleon had not yet made his appearance in the dining-room. But
this long delay did not cause the least impatience or anger to appear on
the face of the empress; not for a single moment did she lose her
temper. Graceful and gay, she conversed with her cavaliers and ladies of
honor, and her eyes but occasionally glanced at the door by which
Napoleon had to enter.

At last the emperor appeared. He walked toward the empress with a hasty
nod, and offering her his hand to conduct her to the table, he said: "I
believe it is a little late. I have kept you waiting, I suppose?"

Josephine laughed. "The question is rather _naïve_, my friend," she
said; "I have been waiting ever since six o'clock, and it is now past
eleven."

"Ah, that is late, indeed," said the emperor abstractedly. "I thought I
had already dined; Champagny, however, reminded me that this was not the
case. Well, Josephine, let us eat!" And he commenced eating the soup
which the grand-marshal placed before him.

Thanks to the warming-vessels, the dishes had remained palatable; but
the chief cook, when the gratifying announcement was made that the
emperor had at length made his appearance, had just ordered the
twenty-third chicken to be put on the spit for the purpose of having a
juicy and freshly-roasted wing in readiness.

The emperor, who was very reticent and abstracted, took his dinner even
more rapidly than usual, and no sooner had he finished than he rose
impetuously from his chair and left the table. Without addressing a word
to the empress, he walked across the room.

Josephine gazed after him with a long and mournful look, and her face
was sad. "He is cruel," she muttered to herself. "After waiting so many
hours, he has scarcely a word for me, and leaves me without salutation!"

But when Napoleon was near the door, he turned round and walked hastily
toward the empress. "Good-night, my dear Josephine," he said, giving his
hand to her. "It is already late--near midnight--retire. We shall not
meet again to-day; farewell, and _au revoir_!"

He nodded to her, and then left the room for his cabinet. On arriving
there, he bolted the small door leading into the corridor, and thence
into the apartments of the empress, calling in a loud voice, "Constant!"
The _valet de chambre_ entered immediately. "Constant!" said the
emperor, "come hither close to me, and listen. You will quickly set in
order my travelling-coach, so that I shall be able to set out in an
hour. Roustan and you will accompany me--no one else. But you must not
say a word about my departure. I want it to be known at the Tuileries,
as well as in Paris, to-morrow only, that I have left the capital, and
it is of the highest importance that it should remain a secret until
then. Do you understand me? And now make haste! In an hour every thing
must be ready!"

Constant bowed in silence and withdrew. "Yes, yes," he murmured, while
hastily passing on, "I understood the emperor very well. His departure
is to remain a secret; that is to say, especially for the empress. Ah!
the poor, good empress! How she will weep when she hears to-morrow that
the emperor has again set out without her! Formerly he always took her
with him; she had to share the triumphs and troubles of the journey; but
now she must stay at home. Poor Josephine! she is so good, and loves him
intensely! But I must obey the emperor's order. I cannot tell her any
thing! I cannot, but it would be no fault of mine if some one else
should! Ah! a good idea strikes me! The empress had the gold
travelling-case of the emperor brought to her yesterday in order to have
one like it made for the viceroy of Italy. I must go immediately and get
it from her maid, and she is fortunately tenderly devoted to the
empress!"



CHAPTER XLV.

JOSEPHINE'S FAREWELL.


The empress in the mean time had returned to her rooms, sad and absorbed
in her reflections. She had dismissed her ladies of honor; only her
mistress of ceremonies, Madame de Rémusat, was still with her, and her
maids were in the adjoining room to await her orders until she retired.

No sooner had Josephine reached her room than she sat down slowly and
abstractedly, and, throwing back her head, fixed her eyes on the
ceiling. An expression of profound grief was visible in her features,
and darkened the shade with which age was veiling her countenance. When
smiling, Josephine was still a graceful and fascinating woman, but when
melancholy it was but too plainly to be seen that her charms were
fading, and neither the flattering rouge nor the skill of the artist
could conceal this fact.

Josephine's brow was now often clouded, and her youthful beauty was fast
losing its charms. Gloomy forebodings were constantly passing over her
heart; she felt that she was standing as on the brink of a precipice,
and that the days of her happiness were numbered. She awoke every
morning in terror, for before the evening she might be cast into an
abyss of sorrow--removed from the Tuileries and the side of her
husband--replaced by another, a younger woman, the daughter of an
ancient sovereign house, who was to become the wife of Napoleon and the
mother of his sons. Josephine knew that the brothers and sisters of the
emperor were constantly importuning him to disown his childless wife,
and to secure his throne and dynasty, as well as their own, by choosing
another consort giving an heir to his crown. She knew that Talleyrand
was representing this to him daily as a political necessity, without
which his empire and his greatness would be endangered. She knew also
that Napoleon no longer, as formerly, closed his ears against these
insinuations, but, eagerly listening, held them in serious
consideration.

Josephine was aware of all this, and sat in her room a prey to
well-grounded suspicion and sorrowful presentiments.

Madame de Rémusat looked at her awhile, sighing and in silence; she now
softly approached the empress, and, taking her hand, said in an
affectionate voice, "Your majesty ought to retire! You need sleep; it is
long past midnight, and your eyes are weary."

"Not from waking--from weeping, my dear Rémusat," said the empress,
pressing the hand of her confidante. "But you are right, I will retire.
In sleep we forget our grief. Rémusat, in my dreams I always see
Napoleon as affectionate, as loving as he ever was--in my dreams he
loves me still and looks at me, not with the stern eyes of the emperor,
but of a tender husband. When I awake, Rémusat, his fine face still
before my mind, and remember that his love is now gone and lost
forever--oh, then a sword seems to pierce my heart, and I shed scalding
tears in spite of myself! And yet I will retire. He commanded me, and I
will obey."

"How discouraged your majesty is again to-day!" said Madame de Rémusat,
sighing. "Still it seems to me there is less cause than ever. The
emperor was more cordial and affectionate than usual. He was evidently
abstracted, and occupied with important plans, and yet he returned; his
expression was unusually gentle, and his voice trembled when he bade
farewell to your majesty."

"But why did he bid me farewell?" exclaimed the empress. "This is what
fills me with anxiety. Heretofore he only said to me, 'Good-night!' and,
'we shall meet again to-morrow, Josephine!' But to-day he said.
'Farewell, and _au revoir_!' Rémusat, there was a hidden meaning in
these words. Something unusual is to happen, for the emperor never took
leave of me in this manner. '_Au revoir_!' You never say that to one
whom you meet again in the morning. It means assuredly something! But
you are right--I need repose, for my limbs are trembling, and my head is
burning, as if I had fever! Call my maids!"

Josephine sighed deeply, and rose to be undressed. She was so absorbed
in her reflections that she, who always addressed a pleasant word to her
servants, did not apparently notice their presence. In silence she
allowed her jewels to be removed, which Madame de Rémusat carefully put
away into their caskets; in silence she suffered herself to be divested
of her blue satin dress, embroidered with silver, and her white satin
underskirt, without observing that her first maid was absent. When her
wrapper was brought by the second maid, she noticed that the first was
not present.

"Where is Dufour?" she asked, hesitatingly.

"Your majesty, she has just been called out to attend to something
urgently required by his majesty the emperor," said the second maid,
approaching the empress.

But Josephine pushed her back. "To attend to something urgently required
by the emperor?" she asked, breathlessly. "What does that mean? Ah,
there is Dufour! What could have detained her?" And she rushed toward
her and grasped her hand.

"Dufour, where have you been? What is the matter?"

"Your majesty, Constant wished to see me. I beg pardon for coming so
late, but it was something very urgent."

"Urgent! There is the same word again," exclaimed Josephine. "What was
it that was 'urgent?'"

"Your majesty, M. Constant wanted the golden travelling-case of the
emperor, which your majesty showed to the jeweller to-day. As it was in
my keeping, he applied to me for it."

"Well, could he not wait until to-morrow?" asked the empress.

"No, your majesty, for the emperor needs the travelling-case, and at
once."

Josephine uttered a cry. "He is about to depart! Oh, I feel he is going
to leave me!" she exclaimed, almost beside herself. And without
reflecting and hesitating, regardless of the fact that she was
undressed, her shoulders bare, and her feet incased in small slippers of
crimson velvet--forgetful of every thing but the distracting thought
that the emperor was leaving her, without even a farewell, she ran
across the room toward the door.

Vainly did Madame de Rémusat try to detain her. Josephine pushed her
aside, opened the door, and ran out. Breathless, bathed in tears, her
dishevelled locks streaming in the air, she hastened through the rooms
and magnificent halls in which she was accustomed to appear in a
gorgeous toilet, and receive the homage of princes. On crossing the
threshold of the first reception-room she lost one of her slippers; but
this modern Atalanta did not know it as she rushed along the corridor
and down the stairs. Having reached the palace-yard, she found that she
was not mistaken--there stood the emperor's travelling-carriage. Roustan
and Constant were waiting in front of it, but she passed them before
they knew what had happened. Trembling and weeping, she sat down in the
carriage.

The emperor at that moment entered the palace-yard, while the two
servants were still standing near, speechless, and as if paralyzed with
terror. He took no notice of them, and ascending the steps of the
carriage beheld the strange white figure within.

"What is that?" exclaimed the emperor, standing still. "Who is there?"

"It is I," exclaimed the empress, in a suppliant voice. "I, Josephine!
You wished to depart again without me, Bonaparte; but I will not suffer
you; I will cling to you! I cannot leave you!"

She threw her arms around his neck, but Napoleon pushed her back. "You
are a fool, Josephine!" he said, angrily. "This is childish; you
ridiculously retard my departure. I do not wish to hear any more! Be
kind enough to leave the carriage! It is necessary that I set out
immediately."

"But, Bonaparte, you cannot be in earnest," cried Josephine, sobbing
aloud. "Have mercy on me! Do not drive me from you! I tell you, you must
use violence to remove me! Oh, have pity on me--on my poor, painful
heart, and let me go along with you! Remember that you promised me the
other day that I should accompany you on your next journey. Oh,
Bonaparte, keep your word! Keep your word only this time! Have pity on
me, and let me accompany you!" She covered his lips and cheeks with her
kisses and tears. Napoleon's heart seemed to be softened, for he
involuntarily raised his arms and wound them around Josephine's neck.
"How cold you are!" he exclaimed. "And your shoulders are bare! What
does this mean?"

"It means," said the empress, half laughing, half weeping, "that I was
just about retiring when--when I heard the carriage drive up to the
door. My heart told me that you intended to leave me, and that I would
not have time to dress if I wished to see you, and therefore I came at
once."

"And indeed you were right; if you had come a minute later, I would
certainly have been gone."

The emperor entered the carriage, closed the door, and shouted in a
powerful voice out of the window: "Have every thing the empress needs
for her toilet sent to the first station, that she may find it on her
arrival. Order the mistress of ceremonies to set out immediately with
her majesty's ladies of honor. They must be at Strasburg on the 18th.
Forward!"

Josephine uttered a joyous cry, and sat down on the emperor's knees,
pressing his head with her arms against her bosom. He laughed, and did
not resist her. Roustan and Constant ascended, and the carriage started.

"Bonaparte, thanks! a thousand thanks!" whispered the empress. "Never
shall I forget this hour, for it proves to me that you still love your
poor Josephine, or that at least you pity her!"

"Oh, you know full well, traitress, that I cannot withstand your tears,"
said Napoleon, half angrily, half smilingly. "But you are almost naked!"

"Yes, I am naked, as it behooves a beggar-woman who begs for love at the
palace-gate," said the empress, smiling. "I hope, my emperor and lord
will give me something to cover my nakedness."

"Here is what you want, you impulsive beggar!" exclaimed Napoleon,
throwing the sable robe, which the Emperor Alexander had presented to
him, over her shoulders, and wrapping it carefully around her.

"Accept my thanks!" exclaimed Josephine, laughing; "I will wear it as a
token of your kindness."

"You will not," quickly replied Napoleon. "I merely lend it to you
until our arrival at the next station, where, I hope, we shall meet a
courier with your wardrobe."

"But he will not be able to overtake us there, Bonaparte, and you will
have to leave me the robe for some time yet."

"No; he will travel faster on horseback than we in our carriage. I would
have no objection to the robe myself, for the night is cold!"

"It is cold; come, I will let you have part of it," wrapping it around
the emperor, and clinging closely to him. Napoleon laughed, and winding
his arms around the slender waist of Josephine, pressed her to his
breast. She laid her wearied head silently on his shoulder. The carriage
continued the journey without interruption, and, exhausted by her
previous excitement, she closed her eyes and slept.

Suddenly the voice of the emperor aroused her. They had reached the
first station; it was already daylight. The municipal officers of the
small town were standing in front of the post-office to present their
respects. A man, mounted on a horse covered with foam, was near them. It
was the courier who had brought the wardrobe of the empress.

"There is your luggage," said the emperor, pointing smilingly at a small
leather trunk which had been placed on the back seat. "The empress has
set out as a travelling adventurer!"

"Yes, you are right," exclaimed Josephine. "It is just like a
fairy-story. Some poor, disowned princess is met on her journey by a
handsome son of a king, who takes her in his arms, gives her magnificent
dresses, and marries her. I thank you, my friend, and now I will attend
to my toilet."

"I hope not here in the carriage?" asked Napoleon, in surprise.

"We shall have the trunk carried into the house; I believe the
postmaster has a room where you can dress, and a servant-girl who can
assist you."

"But, Bonaparte," exclaimed Josephine, "do you not see that that is
impossible? It is daylight; is, then, the carriage to open and the
empress to alight with one slipper on her feet, to be triumphantly
conducted into the house? Ah, my friend, all Europe would smile at the
idyllic empress who accompanied her husband on his journey in such a
dishabille."

"It is true," said Napoleon, moodily, "it would be a fine anecdote for
the so-called legitimate princes, and they would proudly laugh at the
violation of the _dehors_ committed by imperial upstarts. As though it
were so difficult to learn the ridiculous rules of their etiquette, if
one should deem it worth while!"

Josephine gently patted the emperor's forehead with her white hand. "No
clouds must darken my morning sun," she said, "for they would foretell a
gloomy day. I wish you could transform yourself into my maid."

"What!" exclaimed the emperor, laughing. "Transform myself into your
maid?"

"And why not, Bonaparte?" asked Josephine. "Did not your brother, the
great Jove, transform himself into an ox for the sake of Europa? The
carriage is moving again! Draw the curtains, and then, my dear maid, we
shall commence dressing." She hastily opened the small travelling-trunk,
which had carefully been filled with every thing required for her
toilet--small velvet gaiters, a comfortable velvet cloak, one of her
large cashmere shawls, and a beautiful red satin dress with lace
trimmings.

"You will have but little trouble with me," said the empress, busily
examining the contents of the trunk. "Dear Madame Rémusat has arranged
every thing as judiciously as possible, and forgotten nothing. There are
warm gloves, embroidered handkerchiefs--in short, all I need. Ah! there
is but one thing she has forgotten."

"Well, and what is that?"

"It is a mirror. Bonaparte, you must be my mirror to-day. But come now,
my dear maid! enter upon your duties. In the first place, assist me in
putting on my gaiters."

"What admirable ones they are!" said the emperor. "Are these tiny things
really large enough for your feet?"

"Yes. Did you forget that your Josephine has the smallest and prettiest
foot in all France? Formerly, when you were not the all-powerful
Napoleon, but the brave and illustrious General Bonaparte, you knew it.
Ah, I wish you were still General Bonaparte, and we lived at our small
house in the Rue Chantereine!"

"Indeed, I am glad that I am no longer there," said Napoleon. "It seems
to me General Bonaparte did not forfeit his glory; he only changed his
title and position. That of an emperor is not so bad, and the Tuileries
a very pleasant residence. But, Josephine, let me see whether this
fairy-shoe is really large enough for human foot!"

"Bonaparte, envy and jealousy prompt you to say so," said Josephine,
laughing. "You cannot comprehend how any foot could be even smaller than
yours. But just take into consideration that you are the great
Bonaparte, and that I am but poor little Josephine--the insignificant
creature that derives only from you light and life. Bonaparte, you have
the largest foot that man ever had."

"What! I have the largest foot?" exclaimed Napoleon, in surprise. "Why,
I have always been told that my foot was very small."

"Oh, that was a mistake," said Josephine, gravely, "for how would it
otherwise be possible for you to trample down the whole of Europe as you
are doing?"

Napoleon laughed. "Very good," he said, "you are right; I have put my
foot on the neck of Europe, and shall crush all who resist me!"

"Bonaparte," exclaimed Josephine, menacingly, "no politics now, no
threatening imperial face! Remember that, at the present moment, you are
nothing but my maid. There is my foot! Put on my gaiter, and see whether
it is large enough!"

Napoleon at once obeyed, his wife's toilet commenced, and the first day
of their journey passed in laughter and affectionate chatting. The
empress had not enjoyed so happy a day for years. All cares and
apprehensions were forgotten. What did light-hearted Josephine care for
the future?

But, alas! the second day was different. The smiles of the unfortunate
woman met with no reply. The emperor was taciturn and gloomy. Wrapped in
his sable robe, he was leaning in a corner of the carriage, and made
only stern and brief answers to Josephine's questions. The heart and
countenance of the empress grew heavy and anxious.

When they arrived at Strasburg on the evening of the fourth day, each of
them sat silent--the empress with tearful eye; the emperor frowning and
stern. Napoleon offered his arm to his consort, and conducted her into
the palace. "Good-night, Josephine," he said, standing still at the
entrance of the rooms destined for her, "good-night!"

"You will not take supper with me?" asked the empress in a low,
imploring voice.

"No, I have business to attend to. Good-night!" And he walked away
without saluting or even looking at her. Josephine went into her rooms.
She refused to partake of refreshment, and avoided the necessity of
admitting the officials, who wished to pay their respects to her, by
sending them word that she was too fatigued to receive any one. Alone
she could weep without being disturbed.

At an unusually early hour on the following morning Napoleon entered her
room. Josephine was just about to dress, assisted by her Parisian maids.
He motioned them to withdraw, and then commenced pacing the room in his
usual manner, when excited.

"Napoleon," said Josephine, in a tremulous voice, "you have come with
bad news. My heart tells me so, and I read it on your gloomy brow.
Speak, and tell me every thing at once. I am prepared for it."

"Well, then, I must say," replied Napoleon, vehemently,--"you cannot,
Josephine, accompany me farther. We must part this hour. I yielded to
your wishes in spite of myself, but only thus far! A new campaign is
about to begin; days of battles, troubles, and fatigues, are awaiting
me. You must not and cannot share them. You must remain here."

Josephine cast a melancholy look on him. "But when you have conquered,
when you have made again your triumphant entry into Vienna, will you
then call me, Napoleon? Shall I then share your triumphs as I used to
do? Bonaparte, do not now make an evasive reply! Tell me the truth, for
I can bear it. Tell me, when the fortune of war has favored you--when
you have vanquished Austria, as you have hitherto every other
enemy--will you then call me to you? The truth, my friend, the truth!"

"Very well, I will tell you the truth," exclaimed Napoleon, after a
brief hesitation. "No, Josephine--I will not. You can share my triumphs
no more!"

Josephine uttered a cry, and her eyes filled with tears. "I am doomed,
then," she said, "and what Fouché told me was true!"

"What did he tell you?" asked the emperor, hastily.

"He told me to prepare for a heavy blow--that you, Napoleon, had
secretly applied to the Emperor Alexander for the hand of his sister,
and that only the resistance of the dowager prevented you from
accomplishing your purpose."

"Yes," exclaimed Napoleon, moodily, and, as if absent-minded, "yes, the
proud empress-dowager hates me, and hastened to marry her daughter to a
petty German prince rather than let her become the consort of the
Emperor of the French.[44] Well, no matter! other princes have
daughters, too, and one of them will assuredly be only too happy to
become my wife!"

[Footnote 44: Napoleon ordered Talleyrand at Erfurt to inquire of the
Emperor Alexander whether he would permit him to marry his sister.
Alexander replied that nothing could afford him greater pleasure than
that Napoleon should become his brother-in-law, but the matter did not
depend on his decision alone. The empress-dowager must also be
consulted. No sooner had she heard of Napoleon's wishes than she induced
her daughter to marry the Duke of Oldenburg. The notification of the
marriage of the grand-duchess to this German prince was the only reply
that was ever made to Napoleon's inquiring wish.]

"Napoleon, and you dare tell me so?" exclaimed Josephine, reproachfully.
"You admit, then, that you are about to disown me?"

The emperor started. "Pardon me, Josephine," he said, in confusion, "I
was absent-minded, I--"

"Yes, you were," interrupted the empress, "and while so, you betrayed
your thoughts. It is true, then! Cruel man! You have forgotten every
thing, and the whole past has been blotted out. You can seriously think
of parting with me, your best friend?"

"No, not now, Josephine," exclaimed Napoleon. "You have nothing to fear.
I shall not enter Germany as a wooer, but as a soldier, and I do not
desire to seek myrtle-crowns, but laurels!"

"But, my husband, when you have gained fresh laurels and new territories
with the blood of your soldiers, then, I suppose, Josephine is to be
sacrificed?"

Napoleon did not reply. He paced the room slowly and with a bowed head.
Standing still, he looked with sad eyes in his consort's tearful face.

"Josephine," he said, in a grave voice, "you have a noble heart, and it
will bear the truth. Yes, there may be a day when we shall have to part,
although I love you, and I know well that you are the only faithful
friend on whom I can rely! Judge, therefore, what pangs it will cost me
when obliged to come to the terrible resolution to separate from you,
my guardian angel! But I belong to my people--I belong to my glory! My
power has assumed such gigantic proportions that I must support it with
foundations that cannot be overthrown. The Emperor Napoleon must have a
successor; if you had given birth to one, I should never have parted
from you. Now all hope is gone, and I shall, perhaps, be compelled one
day to look for a consort among the daughters of kings. I really do not
wish to do so, but my duty to my people makes it imperative."

"No, not your duty, but your ambition!" cried Josephine, with streaming
eyes. "You have sacrificed every thing for that--your tranquillity, your
conscience, the blood of your soldiers, and now your wife!"

"Yes, it is as you say, Josephine," exclaimed Napoleon; "it is my
ambition that separates me from you, and compels me to part with her who
has been my glory and my life for sixteen years! It is ambition that
points its iron arm at my imperial crown, and commands me to look for
another empress, that I and my son may enter the ranks of legitimate
princes. I have formed vast plans; I shall soon effect new convulsions:
I shall vanquish all my enemies, and Europe will have to recognize me as
her master. But when nothing remains to wish for--when I have so
ascended as to leave no heights above me, then I shall think of securing
the happiness and peace of my people and of my empire. To do so, I am in
need of a direct heir. For myself, I ask and wish for nothing; but my
glory belongs to France. After my death my contemporaries will say of
me, 'He was the only one who could strive for universal good, while his
individual wishes had been gratified; others thought only of
themselves--Bonaparte's wishes and deeds were for his country. There was
one thing that was dear to him personally, and that was his wife! But
the welfare of his people requiring it, he sacrificed this beloved wife
to their interests.'"

"Words!" exclaimed Josephine. "You are vainly trying to conceal your
innermost thoughts from me. I know you, Bonaparte, and can read your
soul! You wish to connect yourself with the foremost sovereign houses of
Europe, because such a union will flatter your pride and your insatiable
ambition. When you are the son-in-law of an emperor or a king, you will
believe that you are at liberty to do every thing with impunity. You
will deem yourself a demi-god, and, accompanied by your victorious
legions, you will march to the conquest of the whole world. But that
will not be your destiny. You believe you can enslave the nations.
Beware lest they one day awake, break their chains, and take a terrible
revenge on the tyrant whom they allowed so long to oppress them!
Seduced by your illusive ambition, you will disown Josephine? Infatuated
man! you will perceive too late that you walk near a volcano. Oh,
Bonaparte, I tremble and weep for you! Remember that you have often
called me your guardian angel. Believe me, when you disown me, you
disown your good fortune. It will forsake the faithless man, and your
star will sink in an eternal night! That is what wounds my heart, and
drives me to despair. You will be alone in the midst of traitors and
false friends. When Josephine is with you no more, no one will have good
intentions toward you. No one will dare tell you the truth, when you
lose your best friend. Falsehood will flatter you, but only to lead you
to the verge of the precipice!" The empress, with quivering limbs and
pale features, sank on a chair, and covered her face.

A long pause ensued. Napoleon gloomily continued walking the room. At
last he approached Josephine, and gently laid his hand on her shoulder.
"Do not weep," he said, imploringly. "We have once more allowed phantoms
to frighten us, and quarrelled about things that belong to the future.
You are still my wife, and who knows whether you will not always remain
mine? Who knows whether you will not soon be my widow? I am about to
enter into another war, and it will be a desperate, obstinate struggle,
in which old Austria will try to wrest the palm of victory from young
France. Victory will perch on my banners. I have no doubt of that, but
who knows whether I shall not have to pay for it with my blood! for I
must not spare myself--I shall always be at the head of my troops, and,
like my private soldiers, with them bare my own breast to the hail of
bullets. In so decisive a struggle as will take place now, the emperor
will be nothing but a soldier, and do his duty."

"Oh, Bonaparte!" cried Josephine, rising in dismay and clinging to him,
"oh, have mercy on my heart! Do not rashly expose yourself to the
accidents of battle! Remember that the fate of millions depends on your
life! Remember that I should die if an accident befall you! Oh, my
dearest husband, be kind and generous--spare yourself, and spare my
love!"

"Then you love me in spite of your gloomy forebodings?" asked Napoleon,
with a gentle smile. "Oh, I know my Josephine is my most faithful and
best friend, and whatever may happen, her heart will always be mine. Let
this be our farewell, Josephine! I must go; I must depart this very
hour. To-morrow I join my army, and my cannon will soon announce to
Germany that the victor of Austerlitz and Jena is demonstrating his
right to rule, and at his own pleasure to destroy or create kingdoms."



CHAPTER XLVI.

FERDINAND VON SCHILL.


A travelling carriage stopped in front of the house on Frederick Street
in which Major von Schill had established his headquarters since his
regiment had been sent to Berlin. The horses were wet with perspiration,
and the carriage was covered with mud. Every thing indicated that the
young man seated in it had made a long and hurried journey, and his
exhausted and anxious face induced the belief that the object could not
but be highly important. He alighted hastily, and approached the house,
in front of which a crowd of idlers were staring at the windows.
Addressing one of them, he asked, "Can you tell me whether Major von
Schill lives in this house?"

"Yes," said the man, proudly; "every good citizen of Berlin can tell you
that Major Ferdinand von Schill, the favorite of our people and of all
patriotic Germans, lives here."

The young man smiled. "And can you tell me whether Major von Schill is
at home?"

"Well, what should we stand here for, if Schill were not at home? We are
only here to see and salute him when he appears at the window, and to
escort him when he leaves the house. He is always surrounded by a guard
of honor, composed of citizens of Berlin, and the cheers never cease
wherever he may be. I myself have not yet seen him, for I was ill. But
yesterday was my birthday, and my wife presented me with a pipe-bowl
with Schill's portrait; my daughter says he is the best-looking man in
the world, and she has bought a locket with his portrait, which she is
wearing on her neck. I have come to see whether the portraits so much in
vogue are like him, and whether he is not only the bravest soldier, but,
as the girls pretend, the finest-looking man. I will cheer so vigorously
as to shake the statues on the arsenal. I suppose you have also come to
see him?"

"That is all I have come for," said the young man, and, turning to the
postilion, who had just unhitched his horses, he shouted:

"Postilion, when you arrive at the post-office, order immediately some
fresh horses for me and send them hither. I shall set out for home in
half an hour!"

He then walked toward the house, elbowing himself through the constantly
increasing crowd, and reached the door. After rapidly crossing the hall,
he went up-stairs. A footman, dressed in a rich livery, who was pacing
the corridor on the upper floor, looked inquiringly at the young
stranger.

"Does Major von Schill live here?"

"Yes, sir."

"And is he at home?"

"I am not quite sure--I rather believe he has gone out. He is subjected
to visits and invitations to such an extent, that I really do not know
whether there are persons with him at present, or whether some of his
admirers have taken him to another banquet to be given in his honor. The
people of Berlin are perfectly infatuated with my master, and if an
angel should appear upon earth, they could not pay more deference to
him. The fuss they are making about him has positively made him ill. Day
and night he must attend parties, listen, and reply to a thousand
speeches, and take wine with everybody; and then, again, the ladies are
not the least active in demonstrating his popularity. Oh, the people of
this city will certainly kill my dear, good master in this way, and I
must see to it that he gets occasionally a little rest, and is able to
take a peaceful nap on his sofa. I think I must tell you now, sir, that
Major von Schill is not at home. He returned only at daybreak from a
ball which the city of Berlin gave in his honor; at noon he will have to
attend a banquet to which the governor of Berlin, General von Lestocq,
has invited him, and which is in fact another testimonial of the public
respect for him. Major von Schill must have some repose, or his
popularity will be the death of him. Please return some other time. You
cannot see him to-day."

"But, my friend, I cannot return," said the stranger. "I am not one of
the citizens of Berlin, but I am an enthusiastic admirer of Schill, and
have travelled three days and nights without interruption, in order to
bring important news to him."

"Ah, that alters the case," said the footman. "If you bring important
news for my master, I will go and see whether he is at home."

"Do so, my friend, and tell the major that Referendary von Bothmar has
come from Cassel expressly to see him."

The footman nodded, and hastened into the room, the door of which he had
hitherto guarded with the affection of a friend and the obstinacy of a
faithful sentinel. He returned in a few minutes, opened the door, and
exclaimed: "The major requests you to come in!"

M. von Bothmar entered. In obedience to the sign the footman made to
him, he crossed the anteroom and opened the door of the one adjoining. A
fine-looking man in the uniform of a major, with a fresh, florid
countenance, and high forehead adorned with a broad scar, came to meet
him. It was Ferdinand von Schill, the lieutenant of the queen's
dragoons, who, ever since the disastrous battle of Jena, had given such
brilliant proofs of his courage and patriotism at Kolberg (and during
the guerilla warfare he had afterward entered into on his own
responsibility), that the people hoped he would become the savior of the
country. The King of Prussia had promoted him to a majority, and
conferred on his regiment the honorary distinction that it should be the
first Prussian regiment that was to make its entry into Berlin after the
French had evacuated the capital.

"Let me welcome you, my dear sir," said Schill, kindly offering his hand
to the young man. "You told my footman you had come from Cassel to bring
important news to me. You are, therefore, a good German patriot, and I
may greet M. von Bothmar as a friend and brother. But let me hear what
you bring--glad tidings, I suppose?"

"No, major, but important," said M. von Bothmar.

Schill became uneasy, and a deep blush crimsoned his cheeks for a
moment. "You know Dörnberg?" he inquired.

"I know him, and I was also aware of his plan, and of the day and hour
when his blow was to be struck."

"Then he has commenced already?" asked Schill.

"Yes, commenced and ended," said Bothmar, mournfully.

"Our noble Dörnberg expected too much of the patriotism of the Hessians.
He arrived with the legion of his peasants as far as Cassel, and called
upon the soldiers to join him in order to expel King Jerome and his
French minions. But the soldiers did not listen to him; they obeyed the
orders of their officers, and turned their arms against their German
brethren, who were soon routed and dispersed."

"This is really dreadful!" ejaculated Schill. "And Dörnberg?"

"Dörnberg succeeded in making his escape; he will probably go to Prague,
where the Elector of Hesse is at present residing."

"Well, I am glad that he is at least safe," exclaimed Schill, breathing
more freely. "The defeat is a disastrous blow, to be sure, but the good
news that we have just received will afford us consolation for it. The
Archduke Charles has gained a glorious victory over the French at Hof."

"Can that be positively true?" exclaimed Bothmar. "During my whole
journey I did not hear a word about it. On the contrary, I learned
everywhere only the mournful intelligence that Napoleon had put himself
at the head of his army, and was advancing victoriously in the direction
of Vienna."

"And yet my statement is perfectly true. General Lestocq, governor of
Berlin, in joyful commemoration of this victory, issued to-day the
countersign of 'Charles and Hof!'"

"Heaven grant that you are correctly informed, and that the general is
not mistaken!" said M. von Bothmar, sighing. "Pardon me for not sharing
your confidence. The deplorable turn our affairs have taken in Hesse has
discouraged me, and then--but I am not through yet with the news which
brought me to you."

"Speak, sir,--what else has happened?" exclaimed Schill.

"Excuse me," said M. von Bothmar, "should I assume the semblance of one
of your most trusted confidants, and take the liberty of speaking to you
about your most secret plans. You intrusted to your faithful friend and
follower, Romberg, letters and proclamations to be circulated in
Westphalia. Am I right?"

"You are."

"Yon gave to him private letters for Counsellor von Ledebour, at
Bielefeld, and for Colonel von Sobbe, who were to head the insurrection
in that part of the country?"

"I did, sir; you are right."

"Well, then, major, Romberg was arrested at Magdeburg; all his papers,
letters, and proclamations, were seized, and General Michaud sent him
under guard to Cassel."

"Romberg imprisoned! My dear, faithful Romberg in danger!" exclaimed
Schill, mournfully.

"No," said M. von Bothmar, solemnly, "Romberg is no longer imprisoned;
he is not now in danger."

"What do you mean?"

"I mean that Romberg, immediately after his arrival at Cassel, was tried
by a court-martial, and that sentence of death was at once passed upon
him."

"He has been shot?"

"Yes, Schill, Romberg has been shot."

Schill uttered a cry, and covered his face with his hands. "Oh!" he
murmured, "I have lost my most faithful friend, and Germany one of her
noblest sons. He was an humble peasant, but the heart of a great patriot
was throbbing under his blouse. He was the Andrew Hofer of the North,
and his death is a terrible disaster! But I will not complain," added
Schill--"no, I will not complain. Blessed are the dead, and who knows
how soon we ourselves shall have to bid farewell to life? The storm is
threatening us on all sides."

"And it is threatening our noble Schill, the hope of Germany," exclaimed
M. von Bothmar. "I have told you that all Romberg's papers were seized,
and among them the letters which you wrote to your friends Ledebour and
Sobbe. Your proclamations were read by the French authorities, and as
they thereby became aware of your plans, they will at once take steps to
put a stop to your agitation, and, if possible, put you to death. Would
Prussia be powerful and courageous enough to protect you, if the King of
Westphalia should charge you with being a traitor and demagogue, and if
Napoleon should insist on your punishment?"

"It is true," said Schill, "you point out to me an imminent danger, from
which I can only escape by striking immediately. If we give our enemies
time to mature their plans, all will be lost. We must, therefore, act at
once. We must hesitate no longer, but begin even before my comrades here
have learned that Romberg did not succeed in his enterprise. We may be
more successful, for God will perhaps be merciful to me: He has decreed,
perhaps, that Schill shall first of all break the chains imposed on us
by the foreign despot."

"Germany hopes in Schill," exclaimed Bothmar, enthusiastically, "and
hence I was bold enough to violate the oath of allegiance which I had
taken to King Jerome, and disclose to the German hero the danger
menacing him. I am a referendary at the department of state in Cassel,
and accordingly I soon heard of the danger to which you are exposed.
Under the pretext that I intended to enforce tranquillity and obedience
among the peasants on my estate, situated a few miles from Cassel, I
obtained leave of absence for six days, and hastened hither. I set out
from there three days ago, and, thank God! I have found you in time to
give you warning."

"Thanks to you," exclaimed Schill, affectionately embracing M. von
Bothmar; "you have saved my life, perhaps; at all events, you have
rendered an important service to the sacred cause of the fatherland."

"Every one must serve the fatherland in his own way, and according to
his ability," said Bothmar, gently; "you are serving it by your heroic
arm and soul-stirring example; I am doing so by trying at least to
prevent mischief, and to assist my brethren as much as I can. My task
now is accomplished! Farewell! and may Heaven grant victory to your
patriotic zeal!"

"Where are you going?" said Schill, grasping Bothmar's arm and detaining
him. "You must not leave me yet; you must remain here at least to-day,
that--but what is the meaning of this bugle-call?"

"It means that the postilion has arrived with horses, and calls me,"
said M. von Bothmar, smiling.

"What! You have travelled three days and three nights, and are departing
so soon?"

"Have I not told you that I obtained leave of absence only for six days?
Well, then, three days hence I shall be in Cassel again, and, I believe,
I have improved my six days in a highly commendable manner."

"Farewell, noble young man! when we meet again, Germany, if it please
God, will be free and happy!"

"Oh, may it be so!" said M. von Bothmar, sighing. "Be prudent, sir, do
not endanger your life; remember that it does not belong to you, but to
the fatherland, and now farewell! The impatient postilion is sounding
his bugle again. Farewell!"

He quickly left the room, but Schill accompanied to the staircase the
friend he had gained so suddenly. He returned to his room and hastened
to the window, to wave his hand once more to M. von Bothmar. Loud cheers
greeted him as soon as his countenance was recognized behind the
window-panes; the crowd in front of the house constantly increased, and
when he appeared to the longing eyes of the citizens, they could not
suppress their loud huzzas.

"They do me too much honor," said Schill to himself, smiling, and
stepping back from the window. "But their love and its boisterous
demonstrations are not exactly intended for myself individually. These
kind people greet in me the first hope dawning to them after a long
period of darkness; and, therefore, I will joyfully indulge them, and I
will thank them by brave deeds. Yes, by deeds! The time of
procrastination is over. I must hesitate no longer: I must act!"

His servant entered and handed him some letters just brought for him. He
opened and read them rapidly. The perfume of the first, written on
rose-colored note-paper, made him smile. "It is the sixth declaration of
love that I have received to-day," he said, in a low voice, "and the
sixth request for a rendezvous to-night. Oh, women! how innocent in your
enthusiasm for poor Schill! You imagine you love me, and do not know
that it is the fatherland that you love in me! I will reconquer your
country, and bring back that sweet liberty which the tyrant has taken
from us. Until then, no Cupid's love! My heart must belong wholly to
Germany!"

He read the second letter. "Another painter asks me to sit to him! Why,
have not the people already portraits enough of poor Schill? Has not
every old citizen my head on his pipe or his snuff-box? Does not every
pretty girl wear my scarred face in her locket? I have no time to spare
for painters; I must take the field!"

He opened the third; but while he read it, his eyes were sad. "Again the
same admonition which I have so often received. Do they doubt my
patriotism? Do they believe that I am a traitor, and will suffer the
opportunity to pass by without improving it?"

He looked at the letter again, which contained only the following words:
"Brutus, thou sleepest, awake!"[45]

[Footnote 45: Schill received almost daily, from various parts of
Germany, letters containing nothing but those words. A secret society,
extending throughout Germany, seemed to have made it a special duty to
instigate Schill to strike the blow, lest the homage he received in
Berlin should render him forgetful of his mission.]

"No," he exclaimed, in a powerful voice, "I do not sleep. I am awake,
and behold the golden dawn of freedom! O Germany, my arm and my honor
belong to thee! To thee--and to her!" he whispered, almost inaudibly.
"Yes, to her--the genius of Prussia! For her I will sacrifice my life!"

The door opened again, and the footman entered. "Major, there is another
gentleman who desires to see you on pressing business. I wanted to turn
him off, but he said it was indispensable for him to see you. He told me
he wished to deliver to the major something that would gladden his
heart. His name is High-Chamberlain von Schladen, and he said he had
just arrived from Königsberg."

"Show him in at once," exclaimed Schill, but, in his impetuosity, he
himself led the way and opened the door.

"Come in, Mr. High-Chamberlain, and forgive me for making you wait even
a moment," he said, offering his hand to M. von Schladen, and conducting
him into his sitting-room. "You come from Königsberg?"

"Yes, major, and I bring you greetings from your friends, from the
brethren of the great league, and also from the king and the queen."

"She really told you to greet me in her name?" asked Schill. "Oh, do not
deceive me; tell me the truth! Did the queen really tell you that?"

"She did more than that, major," said M. von Schladen, smiling; "she
intrusted to me a present for you, which I am to deliver to yourself,
and which she made for you with her own hands."

At this moment Schill was a truly handsome man. If the ladies and the
painters of Berlin had seen him just then, they would have been
transported at his noble countenance, as his black eyes sparkled with
joy. "The queen sends me a present!" he exclaimed--"a present which she
herself has made!"

"Yes, and on which she inscribed your name with her own hand, that it
might be to you a plain and undeniable proof of her favor."

"Oh, give it to me, sir!" exclaimed Schill, stretching out his hands.

M. von Schladen drew a small package, wrapped in paper, from his bosom,
and handed it to Schill.

"On my knees will I receive this present from my queen!" exclaimed
Schill. "Oh, it seems to me as though she were standing before me,
looking at me with that sad smile which brings tears into the eyes of
all who behold her! When I was at Königsberg the other day, it was
permitted me to speak to her, and press my lips on her hand. With that
kiss I devoted myself to her for my whole life, and she is ever before
my eyes, clothed in a sort of divine beauty--as a Madonna holding the
Messiah of Freedom in her arms! And the noble queen, to whom I pray
every night as to a saint, sends me a present which she has made for me
with her own hands? Oh, am I worthy of such kindness; have I done any
thing entitling me to such a proof of condescension on her part, and am
I thus honored by her who is the guardian angel of Prussia!--whom
Napoleon hates, because he fears her zeal and fidelity. As a vestal, she
has kept alive the fire of patriotism on the altar of her country. When
all despair, she still hopes for the redemption of her people from a
victorious but merciless enemy. I will consecrate my life anew to her,
though unworthy of the distinguished regard she bestows on me by this
present, the work of her own royal hands."

"Yes, but you are worthy of the favor of our noble queen," said M. von
Schiaden, solemnly, "for you are the representative hero of Germany, and
Heaven has decreed, perhaps, that you should break the first link of the
chain with which the usurper has fettered our country. As soon as that
link is broken, it will be easy to break the rest. You, Major von
Schill, are the hope of Germany--the hope of Queen Louisa. Take, then,
the present which she sends you, worthy champion of the cause of her
country!"

He handed the package to the major. Schill, kneeling, took it and
unfolded the wrapper. It contained a magnificent memorandum-book,
embroidered in gold, and closed with a gold pencil. Schill admired the
rich art displayed in the book, and, opening it, looked for the
autograph of the queen. He uttered a joyful cry. The queen had written
these words, in small, neat characters: "For brave Major von Schill.
Louisa."

Schill pressed his lips on the words, and then, closing the book, put it
into his bosom, and rose from his knees. "It will rest on my heart as
long as I live," he said; "its every pulsation belongs to her! And now,
M. von Schladen, what is the state of affairs at Königsberg? What hopes
are entertained there?"

"Hopes!" exclaimed M. von Schladen, with a mournful smile; "none--only
apprehensions."

"And they do not yet think of bidding defiance to the tyrant, and of
recalling noble Baron von Stein?"

"No, they dare not do so. Stein, proscribed by Napoleon, forsaken by his
king, who sacrificed him at the emperor's behest, is living in exile,
deprived of his whole property, which Napoleon confiscated; he is
without employment, without influence, far from his country, far from
his friends. The Emperor of Austria did what the King of Prussia dare
not do: he gave an asylum to the proscribed patriot; Baron von Stein is
now with his family at Brünn."

"And the king?" asked Schill. "Does he not feel it as a wound to bow to
the tyrant's behest, and dismiss his noblest and ablest servant?"

"He does, perhaps," replied M. von Schladen, hesitatingly; "but he does
not say so. The afflictions of the past years have broken his courage,
and rendered him irresolute and timid. As soon as he received Napoleon's
orders, he dismissed Baron von Stein, without bestowing any token of
kindness or gratitude. Every true Prussian deeply felt this treatment;
one of the most faithful and upright servants of the king,
District-Councillor Scheffner, who has every day interviews with the
queen, dared even to write a letter to the king, informing him of the
indignation prevailing everywhere. He asked the king to gladden the
hearts of all good Prussians, and to give a courageous proof of his
royal gratitude toward the eminent minister, by conferring the order of
the Black Eagle upon Baron von Stein."

"And what did the king say to him?"

"He replied that he was very sorry that he was unable to comply with
this request. Although he entertained the highest respect for Baron von
Stein, and would be glad to confer this exalted distinction on him, it
would be highly improper at the present time to make so dangerous a
demonstration."

"Such is the gratitude of kings toward their faithful servants!"
exclaimed Schill, in a tone of bitter reproach; "such is the manner in
which they reward those who have sacrificed for them their property and
life! But we do not struggle for kings and princes; we are serving the
adored fatherland; we are fighting for liberty, and the death which we
find on the field of honor is an order of the Black Eagle which the
great fatherland confers on us! O Germany, one day I shall also receive
this honor at thy hands; free Germany will adorn my corpse with it!"

"Oh, what desponding words you are now uttering!" said M. von Schladen,
anxiously. "Who can be courageous and hopeful when Schill talks of
death?"

"I am not desponding," exclaimed Schill, smiling, "but I have a
foreboding that I am to seal my love for Germany with my heart's blood.
I am almost glad of it, for friendships so sealed are said to be
eternal, and Germany will, perhaps, revere my memory when I die for
her.--And Louisa! What says the queen? How does she bear these days of
humiliation?"

"Like a heroine! Like a queen whose kingdom is not of this world. Her
cheeks are pale, but a spirit of resignation pervades her countenance,
and when she turns her blue eyes upward, there is an expression in them
that plainly reveals her yearning for a home in heaven!"

"But her health is good?" inquired Schill, anxiously. "She is not ill?"

"That is to say, she is not positively ill, but her whole life is that
of a martyr. Her heart is broken; she suffers mentally, while she is not
altogether free from physical pain. But she never complains, and, alas!
the physicians know of no remedy. There is but one for our smiling,
suffering queen, and that is the deliverance of her country!"

"Germany must and shall be delivered," exclaimed Schill,
enthusiastically. "Something must be done! We must arouse the sleepers;
we must compel them to act!"

"You are right! The nation must wake and rise. That is the opinion of
all patriots, as well as of the queen. And we are looking with trusting
hearts toward you; we hope that you will give this impetus to our
countrymen. It is out of the question to hesitate longer; we must act.
Austria is in the field; her people are exultingly marching to vanquish
the tyrant, who, with his proud armies, has again penetrated into
Germany. The report that the Archduke Charles has gained a victory is as
though it were the first herald announcing to us safety and restoration.
Hope fills every heart. As soon as Schill unfurls his banner and calls
upon his brethren to commence the holy struggle for the liberation of
the fatherland, patriotic men from all the states of Prussia and North
Germany will rally around him; the enthusiasm of the people will rush
like a torrent carrying away the king and his ministers in spite of
themselves; their hesitations, fears, and cowardice, will be overwhelmed
by the public determination. The hope of the queen is in Schill's heroic
example; it is the hope of Gneisenau, Blücher, and Scharnhorst; it is
the hope of all!"

"And it shall be fulfilled," exclaimed Schill. "Brutus does not sleep.
He is awake, and ready for action. I swear it by this precious gift of
my queen!" He drew the memorandum-book from his bosom. Solemnly laying
his hand on it, and raising his eyes toward heaven, he said: "I swear
that I will draw my sword now for the fight of liberty--that I will not
sheath it until this sacred cause has been carried to a glorious
conclusion, unless forbidden by death longer to serve my queen and
country!" He pressed the book against his lips, and then opening it read
again Louisa's words. As he turned over the leaves, a scrap of paper
fell upon the floor. Picking it up, he saw that it contained a single
line written in the same small handwriting: "Der König schwankt; Schill,
ziehen sie mit Gott!"[46] "Yes, Heaven is on our side, to fight for
Germany and her noble queen!" exclaimed Schill. "I will depart
to-morrow!"

[Footnote 46: "The king hesitates; Schill, march with God!"]



CHAPTER XLVII.

SCHILL TAKES THE FIELD.


The following afternoon (March 28, 1809) Major Ferdinand von Schill
proceeded with his regiment through the streets of Berlin to the Halle
gate. The people saluted him everywhere with loud cheers and waving of
hats.

Schill thanked them more gravely than he had hitherto done, and marched
his soldiers out of the gate. No one was surprised at this; all supposed
that he only intended to-day, as he had often done, to drill his troops
and to encamp near the city. His adjutants, Bärsch and Lützow, were,
however, aware of his plans, and had secretly made preparations to carry
them into effect.

The regiment took the road to Potsdam. Major von Schill and his two
adjutants rode at its head, and patriotic songs from the soldiers
resounded along their march. About half-way between Berlin and Potsdam,
near the village of Steglitz, the major stopped his horse, and, with a
wave of his sword, ordered the regiment to halt; then to move from the
road into the adjoining field, and form in square. The command was
obeyed in a few minutes; and Major von Schill, resting in the centre on
his chestnut charger, surveyed his men with evident pleasure.

All eyes were turned toward him--all hearts were beating with affection
for that man of indomitable courage towering above them. Addressing
them, his sonorous voice rang over the welkin as the first notes of a
trumpet summoning to the field of blood.

"Soldiers," he said, "comrades! the moment has come to fight the enemy,
against whom all our souls are filled with hatred--the despoiler of
thrones, who has plunged our fatherland into such distress; who has
trampled under foot all the rights of man; to whom no treaty, no peace
is sacred, and who is only waiting for an opportunity utterly to destroy
the constitution of our country. The perfidious oppressor thus treated
Spain, after she had made numerous sacrifices to him in order to
preserve peace. He intends to degrade Prussia in the same manner, and
not to rest until he has dethroned our beloved king and prostrated the
illustrious dynasty of the Hohenzollerns. But never shall he succeed in
carrying out so nefarious a plan! Austria, Germany, every patriotic
heart is rising against him, and we Prussians cannot remain behind. It
is a sacred obligation to fight for the fatherland, for our beloved
king, for the queen whom we all worship, a precious token from whom I am
now holding in my hand, and for whom we are ready at any hour to die!"

While uttering these words, Schill waved the embroidered
memorandum-book, which flashed in the sunbeams as a trophy and pledge of
victory.

Shouts burst from the soldiers. "Hurrah!" they cried, "long live the
king and the queen! long live Major von Schill!"

"Boys," exclaimed Schill, "will you follow me, and fight for Germany and
our king?"

"Yes, we will, we will!" shouted the hussars, drawing their sabres and
waving them over their heads.

"Will you swear to stand by your commander to the last extremity?"

"We swear to stand by you to the last!" was the enthusiastic answer,
while the soldiers looked exultantly at each other, and exchanged
congratulations at the opening of the campaign. But no one had thought
of future dangers or the necessities of a soldier's life. They had
nothing but their uniforms; leaving in Berlin all their money and
clothing, and, unaware of this sudden movement, they had not even taken
leave of their parents, wives, and children. Every thing was forgotten
in their partiotism, so soon and unexpectedly tested--in their glowing
desire to save their country, and gain a name on the field of honor.

The march was continued to Potsdam. There they rested over night, and
the servants of the officers joined them in the morning, bringing from
the governor of Berlin passports for Schill. The brave little regiment
soon after left for an assault on the fortress of Wittenberg. It was not
taken, but the commander of Wittenberg concluded an armistice with
Schill, and permitted him and his soldiers, with their drums beating, to
march under the cannon of the fortress, and to pass the bridge built at
that place over the Elbe.

On the 2nd of May the regiment reached Dessau. The duke had fled, but the
inhabitants received the Prussian hussars in the most ardent manner, and
hailed Schill as the hero who would free the people from the yoke under
which they were groaning.

The expedition was no longer a secret. The joyful news spread: "Schill
has taken the field against Napoleon; he has called the Germans to arms,
and they will rally around his banner!" He himself believed in success,
firmly convinced that it was only necessary for him to issue a
proclamation, and the people would rise _en masse_. He resolved to do so
from his headquarters at Dessau. No sooner had he reached that city than
he hurriedly prepared his call "To the Germans!" The ink was not yet
dry, when he took the paper, and, accompanied by his adjutants, went to
the house of M. Hormuth, printer to the court, and asked to see him. The
printer soon made his appearance, and anxiously asked Schill his
business.

"You will please print this proclamation, sir," said Schill, handing him
the paper; "it must be ready in an hour."

"Major," said Hormuth, glancing despairingly at the scarcely legible
handwriting, "I cannot print it, for I am unable to read it."

"Oh, I will read it to you," exclaimed Schill, and he commenced:

"To THE GERMANS!--Brethren, groaning under the yoke of a foreign nation!
the moment has arrived when you are able to break your chains, and to
regain the constitution under which you have lived in happiness and
prosperity for centuries, until the boundless ambition of a conqueror
brought incalculable calamities upon our country. Rise! Be men! Follow
me, and we shall again be what we were! Ring the tocsin! Let this signal
fan the flame of patriotism in your hearts, and be the death-knell of
your oppressors! Take up arms! Scythes and pikes may take the place of
muskets. They will soon be replaced by English weapons already arrived.
Wielded by strong arms, even the peaceful scythe becomes fatal. Let
every one arm himself, and share the glory of the liberators of the
fatherland, fighting not only for himself but for the safety and
happiness of future generations! He who is cowardly enough to disobey
this call, will be consigned to contempt and infamy. No noble German
girl will ever bestow her hand upon such a traitor. Courage! God is with
us and our just cause. Let the old men pray for us! The armies of
Austria are advancing victoriously, notwithstanding the boasts of the
French; the brave Tyrolese have already broken their chains; the
courageous Hessians have risen, and I am hastening to you at the head of
well-tried and skilful soldiers. The just cause will soon conquer, and
the ancient glory of our country will be restored. To arms! to arms!
SCHILL."

"Now, sir," said Schill, "I suppose you will be able to read my
handwriting and to print it?"

"Now that I know the contents," said M. Hormuth, shaking his head, "I
know also that he who prints this proclamation endangers his life, and
that he may lose it just as soon as Palm. Sir, I have a wife and
children; I am happy with my family; hence life is dear to me, and I
should not like to lose it like poor Palm. He did much less than you ask
me to do. He only circulated a pamphlet hostile to the French, but I am
to print a proclamation calling upon all Germans to rise in arms against
the Emperor of the French. Major, I risk my life by complying with your
order."

"What!" exclaimed Schill, angrily; "you are a German, and refuse to
serve the holy cause of your country? You refuse to print this
proclamation?"

"No, I will print it," said M. Hormuth, slowly; "I will print it, but
only on one condition."

"Well, and that condition is--"

"That you, major, be kind enough to hold a pistol to my breast and
threaten to shoot me, in case I refuse. You must do so in the presence
of my compositors, and give me a written certificate that I yielded only
to violence."

"M. Hormuth, you are a very prudent man, and it will afford me great
pleasure to fulfil your wishes," said Schill, smilingly, drawing his
pistol and aiming at the printer.

"Pray, major, do not cock it, for the pistol might go off," said
Hormuth, anxiously. "Now be kind enough to hold it to my breast, and
shout in a loud and menacing voice that you will shoot me like a dog if
I refuse to print this paper. Distribute also some insulting
epithets--call me a coward, a renegade, any thing you can think of, and
as loud and threatening as you can."

"Very well, I will do all that," said Schill, laughing, and his
adjutants, as well as M. Hormuth himself, joined in the sport.

"Now, let us go to work," said Schill.

"Will you print this proclamation, you miserable coward? Why, you have
not pluck enough to be a German! I ask you, for the last time, will you
print the proclamation?"

"Sir, have mercy upon me!" wailed M. Hormuth, in a terrified tone. "I
cannot print it. It is impossible, sir; impossible!"

"You villain, I will kill you on the spot if you dare resist me," cried
Schill. "I--"

"My compositors will be here presently," said M. Hormuth. "Please go on
in the same strain."

"I will shoot you like a dog if you do not obey!"

"Help! help! oh, major, have mercy!"

The doors opened, and there appeared at one door the compositors and
pressmen; at the other, Madame Hormuth with her children.

"Will you print my proclamation, you infamous scoundrel?" shouted
Schill. "Say no, and I will put a bullet through your cowardly heart!"

"Sir, I cannot; I--"

"Husband, I beseech you!" cried Madame Hormuth, rushing toward him.
"Husband, consider what you are doing; think of your children, think of
me, and comply with the wishes of the major."

"No! I will die rather than print so seditious a paper!"

"Very well, then, you shall die," said Schill. "You refuse to print, and
I will assuredly shoot you."

"M. Hormuth, you may as well yield," said the compositors.

"It is prudent to submit to necessity. Besides, we are somewhat
interested, for your death would throw us out of work."

"I will yield," said M. Hormuth, sighing. "Take away your pistol, major.
I will print your proclamation; but be so good as to certify that I
consent only on account of your threats and violence. My workmen will
sign the certificate as witnesses, will you not?"

"Yes, certainly, we will cheerfully witness what is true."

"Very well," said M. Hormuth. "Now quick, boys; go to work! Here is the
manuscript. Let four compositors take it. Divide the copy into four
parts; the composition must be done in fifteen minutes, and the printing
in two hours. How many copies do you want, major?"

"Ten thousand."

"Very well, ten thousand copies to be done in two hours. We must
remember my life is at stake; for I suppose you will shoot me, major, if
we should disappoint you?"

"You may be sure of that. Now give me the pen and ink that I may draw up
that certificate for you."

The ten thousand printed copies arrived exactly two hours afterward at
the headquarters of Major von Schill, and M. Hormuth, who refused to
take any payment for them, received in return a certificate that he had
been forcibly compelled to print them.

The brave regiment left Dessau on the following day, still in the joyful
hope that the German people would rise, and that a host of warriors
would respond to the call for the deliverance of the fatherland. But
alas! this hope was not to be fulfilled. The population of the cities
and villages received Schill's hussars and their heroic chieftain in
the most gratifying manner. His proclamation was read everywhere with
unbounded pleasure, but no one dared to follow him; no scythes or pikes
were to be seen in the array of this little band of patriots. There was
but one glad day for Schill; that was on the 12th of May, when
Lieutenant von Quistorp, from Berlin, joined him with a hundred and
sixty men, who had left their colors and came with him to reënforce
"brave Schill, the liberator of Germany."

But Quistorp brought at the same time bad news. The report of a victory
of the Austrians had proved unfounded. The Archduke Charles had obtained
no advantages; on the contrary, after a succession of desperate
engagements, he was beaten on the 23rd of April at Ratisbon, and escaped
with the remnant of his army into the Böhmerwald. The Emperor Napoleon
had advanced with his victorious forces in the direct road to Vienna.

"If Napoleon takes Vienna," said Schill to himself, "then we shall all
perish! But we will still hope and trust; the fortune of war may turn
yet. The Emperor of Austria is still in Vienna, and the citizens have
sworn to be buried under the ruins of their city rather than open its
gates again to the enemy. Let us hope, therefore, and fight." Turning to
Quistorp, he continued: "Every thing may yet turn out well. My
proclamation may find an echo in the hearts of my Prussian comrades, and
they may unite with us. To-day, you, Lieutenant von Quistorp, have
arrived with one hundred and sixty men; to-morrow another friend may
join us with several thousand. Before long we shall have a considerable
army, and this will inspire those still hesitating, and make the timid
bold. The larger our force, the firmer will be the confidence of the
king, and finally he will freely and openly order all the regiments to
join us and commence the struggle."

"Do not hope in the king, major," said Lieutenant von Quistorp, sadly.
"The failure of Dörnberg's rising, the defeat of the Archduke Charles,
and the new victories of Napoleon, have made him more resolute than
ever; he is afraid of Napoleon's anger and vengeance, and, more
indisposed than ever to incur them, he has publicly and solemnly
repudiated your bold movement."

"What has the king done?" exclaimed Schill, turning pale; "what do you
know?"

"I know that the king has also issued a proclamation, in which he says
that he cannot find words sufficiently forcible to express his
disapproval of your illegal and criminal conduct; he calls upon the
army not to be seduced by your example, and orders you, and all with
you, to be tried by a court-martial."

"That is impossible!" cried Schill, in great excitement; "the king
cannot forsake me in so shameful a manner! You have been misinformed,
Quistorp; certain persons have tried to deter you from joining me by
false reports."

"No," said Quistorp, "you are mistaken. I was already on the march to
Arneburg, when, a few miles from here, a courier, under instructions
from General Chassot, overtook me. In order to warn me, the general sent
me the proclamation of the king, and ordered me to face about
immediately and return to my regiment. He added that this was the last
order he would issue, for he, as well as General Lestocq, governor of
Berlin, had been called, by order of the king, to Königsberg, where both
of them were to be tried by a military commission. Here are the papers,
major."

Schill glanced over them, and, while reading, his hands trembled. "This
is a terrible blow," he said, sighing. "The king proscribes me, and
brands me as a traitor and deserter. It is all in vain! Germany is
asleep, and our voice will not awaken her; Germany lies in the dust
before the French tyrant, and the King of Prussia will punish as
traitors those who act courageously! Oh, my country, thou art lost, for
thy own princes betray thee!"

He sank despairingly on a chair, and hid his face with his hands. In
this attitude he remained, groaning piteously, a prey to his anguish.
The adjutants entered the room, but Schill did not notice them. Absorbed
in his reflections and forebodings, his mind, as it were, had passed
from the contemplation of the present, and beheld nothing but the awful
future.

The three young officers, Lützow, Quistorp, and Bärsch, well known for
their intrepidity, stood sad and dejected before their brave major.

Suddenly rising from his chair, he said: "I thank you, Lieutenant von
Quistorp, for having joined me with your faithful men. Germany will see
at least that there are still brave men who do not forsake their
country, and if we sacrifice our lives for her, she will at least
engrave our names on the tablets of her martyrs. We cannot retrace our
steps, my friends; we must advance, though death stare us in the face.
This very night we leave Arneburg, and continue our march. We may still
succeed in what Dörnberg and Charles have been unable to accomplish. We
shall appeal again to the patriotism of the Germans. Perhaps their
hearts will practically respond--they may hear our voice and follow us.
But if fortune have decided against us, if we succumb without delivering
our country, very well! 'An end with terror is better than terror
without end!' Before us is honor, and at the worst, a glorious death;
behind us, contumely and disgrace. Therefore, forward!"



CHAPTER XLVIII.

SCHILL'S DEATH.


Schill was sitting, sad and deserted, at his lonely quarters in Rostock,
where, after many adventures, he arrived on the 20th of May. He had
succeeded in nothing; fortune had not once been favorable to him. He had
intended to turn toward Magdeburg, in hope that its garrison of
Westphalian troops would joyously open the gates of the fortress, and
declare against King Jerome, who had been forced upon them. But, at a
distance of a German mile from the city the columns of the enemy had met
him, and an engagement had taken place at Dodendorf. It was in vain that
Schill had sent a flag of truce to his German brethren to request them
to join him, imploring them not to betray the fatherland for the sake of
a French king.

The Westphalians shot the bearer of the flag of truce, and a murderous
fire was their only reply. Now began the desperate struggle of brethren
against brethren--of Germans against Germans!

Schill was victorious in this battle. He mortally wounded the French
commander of the Westphalians, Colonel Vautier; his hussars fought like
lions and dispersed the enemy; a hundred and sixty prisoners, several
stands of colors, and a large number of small-arms, were the trophies of
this brilliant affair. But he was unable to derive any benefit from the
Dodendorf victory; fearing lest a larger corps should leave Magdeburg
and attack him, he retreated, overwhelmed with grief, for he at last
understood that the German soldiers were deaf to his appeals, and that
the Westphalians, faithful to their French king, refused to desert him.

Nor had Schill's second victory, the occupation of Dönritz, been
advantageous to him. Moreover, dissensions had arisen among the
officers themselves; the regiment, so enthusiastic at first, commenced
gradually to lose faith in his ability to succeed in his bold
enterprise; the officers insisted on being consulted as to future
operations. They refused to yield obedience, and demanded that he should
listen to their advice and remonstrances. But resistance rendered him
only more determined, and in his obstinacy he frequently rejected
prudent counsel, that he might accomplish his own plans. His mind was
confused by disappointment, and at length by despair. He was, in fact,
unequal to the dangers surrounding him.

Schill was sitting, sad and deserted, at his lonely quarters in Rostock,
absorbed in discouraging thoughts, and sighing at the frustration of his
hopes. In his hand he held the memorandum-book the queen had presented
to him, and read again and again the words she had written: "To brave
Major von Schill." Suddenly the door behind him opened, and Lieutenant
von Lützow, with his uniform covered with dust, entered the room.

Schill slowly turned his head. "Well, Lützow, have you returned?" he
asked. "Were you at Doberan? Did you see the duke?"

"Yes, I was at Doberan."

"And what news do you bring? Bad news, of course! Did you see the Duke
of Mecklenburg?"

"No, the duke had given orders to admit neither you nor any of your
delegates. He says he will have nothing to do with insurgents and
rebels."

"Of course," exclaimed Schill, laughing scornfully, "he is a German
prince, and, therefore, cannot adhere to the cause of Germany, but must
side with France! Oh, I ought to have known it before. Well, it is all
right. What other news do you bring, Lützow?"

"Here, major, is a paper issued by King Jerome of Westphalia. His
majesty does you the honor to call you in this proclamation a chief of
robbers, a pirate, and a deserter, and commands the military and civil
authorities to hunt you down. He also offers a reward of ten thousand
francs to him who will bring you dead or alive to Cassel."

"Is that so?" exclaimed Schill, laughing. "Well, M. Jerome attaches a
tolerably high value to my head. I am sorry that I am unable to return
the compliment. I shall reply this very day to Jerome's proclamation by
issuing one to the Germans, and by promising a reward of five dollars
for his delivery, living or dead.--What else, lieutenant?"

"The Emperor Napoleon has also issued an edict against Schill and his
men. He says in this document: 'A certain Schill, a sort of highway
robber, who committed crime upon crime during the last campaign in
Prussia, and was rewarded with a captaincy, has deserted with his whole
regiment from Berlin, marched to Wittenberg, and surrounded that place.
General Lestocq, governor of Berlin, has declared Schill a deserter, and
the King of Prussia has given orders to arrest him wherever he can be
found, and to put the insurgent on trial before a court-martial.'"

"Yes," murmured Schill, musingly, "the German patriot has become an
insurgent, and is to be punished for what he attempted in the salvation
of his country. It was quite unnecessary for the emperor to abuse and
revile him who boldly opposed his tyranny; the King of Prussia and the
governor of Berlin had already done so. And what else does Napoleon
say?"

"He orders a corps of observation to be formed on the Elbe, to be
commanded by the marshal, Duke of Valmy, and to be sixty thousand
strong."

"Sixty thousand men!" exclaimed Schill. "Ah! it seems M. Napoleon has a
pretty good opinion of 'that deserter Schill,' inasmuch as he considers
him dangerous enough to oppose to him an army of sixty thousand men.
Thank you, M. Bonaparte, thank you for this acknowledgment. It is a
delightful balm to the tortured heart of the poor Prussian deserter; it
restores his courage. Let us advance undauntedly--we may conquer yet.
The Germans may awake and rally round the standard of liberty!"

"Alas, Schill, I am afraid your hopes are in vain," said Lützow, sadly.
"I am not yet done with my bad news."

"Not yet?" asked Schill, mournfully. "Proceed!"

"Vienna has fallen!"

"Vienna fallen!" cried Schill, in dismay. "Is that really true?"

"It is. The Emperor Francis and his family have fled to Hungary, and the
Emperor of the French has again made his triumphant entry."

"And the Viennese did not even try to defend their city?"

"They did try, but soon laid down their arms and submitted quietly to
the conqueror. Napoleon has established his headquarters at Schönbrunn,
and issued a proclamation to the Austrians. He calls upon them to be
faithful and obedient to him, and disbands the militia of Vienna. A
general amnesty is granted to those who surrender their arms."

"A general amnesty," exclaimed Schill, "for the crime they committed in
complying with the request of their sovereign to take up arms and defend
their country! And what is to be done with those who do not surrender?"

"The houses of both officers and privates of the militia who do not
return home within a specified time, are to be burned down, their
property confiscated, and themselves tried and punished as rebels."

"Oh," exclaimed Schill, raising his hands, "is there still justice in
heaven, or is it also asleep! Is there no ear for our wails, no
compassion for our disgrace? What is natural, grows unnatural; honor
becomes dishonor; patriotism, rebellion--and Heaven seems to permit it!"

"Yes," said Lützow, with a melancholy smile. "What Ovid said of Cato now
becomes true of you: 'The victorious cause pleases the gods, but the
vanquished one pleases you!'"

"Yes," murmured Schill, "the vanquished cause pleased Cato! and it shall
also please Schill as long as he breathes. It shall please him though
his king call him a deserter, and a court-martial pass sentence of death
upon him. 'The people of Nuremberg hang none but those they have in
custody,' is a proverb often repeated, and I think the people of
Königsberg will not shoot a man they cannot catch! I would rather be
trampled to death by the horses of the enemy, than pierced by the
bullets of my German brethren. The matter is settled, Lützow; let us
continue the struggle."

"Continue the struggle?" asked Lützow. "I beseech you, take my advice
and do not follow the dictates of courage alone; listen also to those of
prudence. It will be utterly useless, Schill; we should husband our
strength for better times. We are threatened either by military force,
or the rigor of the law. Prussia has drawn up a corps on her frontier to
repulse us, if need be, should we come armed; and, if unarmed, she would
have us tried by a court-martial. Napoleon's corps of observation is
stationed on the boundaries of Saxony and Westphalia, and even the King
of Denmark has ordered General von Ewald to march against us."

"The stag has been surrounded, but not yet captured," exclaimed Schill.
"There is still a place where he may escape. The King of Sweden has not
yet a corps in the field against us, and Stralsund is occupied only by a
garrison of scarcely three hundred men, commanded by General Candras.
Let us march thither and surprise the fortress. When Stralsund is ours,
we are on the sea-shore, and in communication with the British; we have
ships in the harbor, on which, if every thing else should fail, we could
find an asylum, and hasten to England."

"But suppose we should not take Stralsund?" asked Lützow. "How could we
escape? I beseech you, listen to reason, consider our hopeless
situation; save yourself--save the poor soldiers who have reposed
confidence and hope in you! Let us embark for England. There are
well-nigh thirty ships in the harbor of Warnemünde; if they refuse to
take us on board, we can compel them."

"No," exclaimed Schill, vehemently. "We shall do just as I said--march
to Stralsund and take the fortress. But Lieutenant Bärsch is to seize
twenty of the ships at Warnemünde and embark on them our baggage, the
sick, and the military chest, and convey them to the island of Rügen. We
start to-morrow and take Stralsund. That is my plan, and it must be
accomplished!"

And Schill's plan was accomplished. He marched his hussars to Stralsund,
and for a moment fortune smiled on him. The French commander, General
Candras, preferred to meet the enemy in the open field instead of
awaiting him behind the half-decayed fortifications. He marched against
Schill with the whole garrison and a battery of light artillery; but the
Prussian hussars, with a shout attacked the enemy, and dispersed them,
took six hundred prisoners, and made their triumphant entry into
Stralsund.

"And here let us conquer or die," said Schill to his officers, who were
standing around him. "Friends, brethren! the day of success is at hand,
and Stralsund is the first taken. Let us remain here; throw up
intrenchments against the enemy, and wait for the succor which England
has so often promised."

"Let us not wait for this succor," said one of the officers; "let us
meet it."

"Every hour of delay increases the danger," exclaimed another. "If we do
not now embrace the opportunity--if we do not start without delay, and
meet the English squadron in the open sea, or hasten to the Swedish
shore, we must inevitably perish."

"It would be foolhardiness to remain here for the enemy's superior force
to attack us," said a third. "To struggle against such odds is folly,
and prudent men submit to the decrees of fortune, instead of resisting
them in a spirit of childish petulance."

"Let us husband our resources for a future day," said a fourth. "It will
come when Germany, which is repudiating us now, will stand in need of
our assistance, and call us to her side. Let us preserve ourselves for
more favorable prospects, and a greater probability of success."

Schill looked angrily on his officers. "Is there no one who will raise
his voice against these opinions?" he asked. "Is there no one who will
reply to the timid and desponding, in the name of honor, courage, and
patriotism?"

All were silent; a murmur of indignation was the only reply. "Well,
then," exclaimed Schill, ardently, "I will myself speak against you all;
I will tell you that it is cowardly to flee from danger, and to think of
defeat instead of victory; that it is perfidious to desert our country
when in danger, to save one's own miserable life. Accursed be he who
thinks of flight and of forsaking the great cause which we are serving!
We must hold Stralsund to the last man. We must make it a German
Saragossa, and lie dead beneath the ruins of the city rather than
surrender. Let us repair the fortifications, throw up new earthworks,
and await the enemy behind the intrenchments. This is my resolution; I
will not suffer contradiction, but treat as rebels and mutineers those
who dare to act contrary to my orders! The soldiers obey me, and I am
their commander. But such of the officers as do not wish to participate
longer in the struggle; who, instead of remaining true to their duty,
prefer to save their lives by flight, are at liberty to do so. I will
not prevent them from making their escape; they may embark on one of the
ships in the harbor, and flee whither they desire. Let them remember,
however, that they will leave their dishonor here, and will not
participate in the glory which posterity may grant as the only
conquerors' crown to poor Schill and his faithful men. Let such as
desire to flee step forth and receive their discharge." A long pause
ensued. No one advanced.

"We agreed to serve under the leadership of Major von Schill," at last
said the oldest officer, in a grave, solemn voice; "we have sworn to
fight under him against the enemies of our country, to remain with him
to the last, and to obey his orders. We shall fulfil our oath, and not
faithlessly desert the banner which we have hitherto followed. Let Major
von Schill consider, however, that he is responsible for the lives of
all those who have united their destiny with his own, and that his
conscience, God, and posterity, will judge him, if instead of preserving
them he should lead them to an inglorious death or captivity. If Major
von Schill is unwilling to listen to prudence--if he refuses to embark
and escape with us, we will all remain, and, with him, await our fate.
Speak, then, major, will you go with us or remain?"

"I will remain," exclaimed Schill, energetically. "I will await the
enemy; I will conquer or die on German soil. Oh, friends, comrades, do
not speak to me of flight or submission; Schill does not flee, Schill
does not submit! I have tried to arouse my country; I have stretched out
my hand toward my countrymen, and said to them, 'I will assist you in
shaking the sleep from your half-closed eyes. Rise! and I will lead you
in the path of liberty and honor. My arm is strong, and my sword is
sharp; unite with me, and let us expel the tyrant!' But Germany did not
listen to my appeal; she is still sleeping too soundly, and God did not
decree that I should accomplish my task. Perhaps Providence may intend
that you and I shall strengthen the cause of liberty by shedding our
blood--our death will awaken the sleepers, that they may avenge us. The
Germans entertain great admiration for the dead. It is only toward the
living that they are cold and reserved. Brethren, let us die for liberty
if we cannot live for it. Let us remain united in life and death!"

"Yes, united in life and death!" exclaimed all the officers, and they
thronged around Schill to shake hands with him, and to assure him of
their fidelity.

Four days of repose and peace followed.--Schill profited by them to
repair the decayed intrenchments and fortifications, and made all
necessary preparations for an obstinate defence against the approaching
enemy.

On the 31st of May, early in the morning, while the major was reviewing
his troops in the market-place, wild shouts were heard in the streets.
They drew nearer and nearer. Soldiers were rushing toward Schill, and
behind them, at some distance, others in red uniforms became visible.

A flash of joy kindled the patriot's face. "The English," he exclaimed,
in a loud voice, "see their red coats! The English have landed, and are
coming to our assistance!"

"The English are coming!" echoed the exultant soldiers.

"No, no," gasped one of the guards, who had just reached the
market-place, "the Dutch are coming--it is the enemy! They surprised us
at the Knieper gate, dispersed our infantry, and penetrated into the
city. See! their assaulting columns are already advancing! Let every one
escape as he can!"

"It is the enemy!" exclaimed Schill, vaulting on his horse.

"Come, brethren, let us meet them. The cavalry will remain here as our
reserve. The other troops will follow me to the Triebseer gate!" And he
galloped into the narrow street leading to the gate, followed by his
men. He was a picture of heroism as he rode at the head of his band,
with his hair streaming in the wind, and his countenance beaming with
courage. Turning with a smile to Lieutenant Alvensleben, who was riding
at his side, "Oh," he said, "it seems to me as though a heavy load had
been removed from my breast, and I could breathe freely again. The
decisive struggle is at hand, and burdensome life will be resigned with
joy. I shall die, my friend, die. Hurrah! forward! liberty is beckoning
to me, glorious liberty!"

He spurred his horse and galloped more rapidly, Alvensleben remaining at
his side.

"Friend," exclaimed Schill, further on, "when I am no more, defend me
against my enemies, and greet my friends! Take my last oath of fealty to
the queen, and my last love-greeting to Germany, when she is free.
Hurrah! there comes the enemy! Let us sing an inspiring song!" And he
sang in a loud voice:

    "Tod du süsser, für das Vaterland!
    Süsser als der Brautgruss, als das Lallen
    Auf dem Mutterschooss des ersten Kindes,
    Sei mir willkommen!"

"_Willkommen_!" he cried again, and galloped more rapidly past the Dutch
soldiers, who were just emerging from a side-street and cut him off from
Alvensleben and his other followers. The enemy, commanded by the Dutch
General Carteret, was also approaching from the opposite street. The
patriot galloped into the midst of the staff--his sabre flashed, and the
general fell from his horse as if struck by lightning. Schill turned
when he was unable to penetrate through this body of men obstructing the
street. But another battalion had already formed behind him and cut him
hopelessly off from assistance. His own men tried to reach him. Shouts,
oaths, cries of defiance and fury, with the groans of the dying, rent
the air.

Schill saw that he was lost, that he was no longer able to save himself,
his faithful men, or his fatherland! There was no escape for him. Death
was howling around him on all sides, panting for its prey. Suddenly the
column of the enemy opened; he saw the gap, and spurred his horse with a
desperate effort, making him leap into the midst of the enemy. The Dutch
soldiers fell back in dismay, and Schill galloped by them into Fähr
Street. Forward, as on the wings of a tempest, he hastened to the
assistance of his men. A bullet hissed past him--another shot was fired.
He wavered in the saddle; the bullet had struck him! A detachment of
Dutch soldiers were just coming up the street. The man heading them saw
the pale Prussian officer, who was scarcely able to retain his seat.

"It is Schill! it is Schill!" he cried out, rushing forward.

"Hurrah, it is Schill!" shouted the others, aiming their muskets at him.
Three shots were fired. The brave Prussian still kept the saddle, but
his hand dropped the bridle, and the horse stood still. The Dutch
chasseurs surrounded and cut him. He lay helpless on the ground--that
herculean man. He was still alive; his eyes, that had so beamed with
courage, cast their last glance toward heaven, and his lips, that smiled
so sweetly, murmured, "_Tod du süsser für das Vaterland_!" A powerful
sabre-stroke at last ended his life. His enemies despoiled his body,
tearing off his decorations, and robbing him of a small crown of pearls
and the memorandum-book, both gifts of the queen whom he loved so well,
and for whom he fought so bravely. They seized the corpse and dragged it
along the street in order to present it to their general. His hands were
besmeared with mire; his uniform torn by the brutal grasp of the
conquerors, and his gory head trailed along the pavement. He was at last
deposited in the vestibule of the city hall, where the meat-merchants of
Stralsund trade on market days.

A butcher's bench was the catafalque of unfortunate Ferdinand von
Schill, the martyr of German liberty! There he lay, a horrible
spectacle, with broken limbs, a face deformed by bruises and
sabre-gashes, and his eyes glaring to heaven as if in accusation of the
ignominy of his death and the brutality of his enemies.



CHAPTER XLIX.

THE PARADE AT SCHÖNBRUNN.


Napoleon's great victory at Wagram had put an end to the war with
Austria, and destroyed only too speedily the hopes which the battle of
Aspern or Esslingen had awakened in the hearts of the Germans.

The Archduke Charles had gained at Aspern half a victory; and the fact
that the Austrians had not been beaten--that Napoleon had been compelled
to fall back with his army and to take refuge on the island of Lobau,
was regarded as a victory, which was announced in the most boastful
manner. But if it was a victory, the Austrians did not know how to
profit by it. Instead of uniting their forces and attacking Lobau, where
the French army was encamped, huddled together, and exhausted by the
long and murderous struggle--where the French grenadiers were weeping
over the death of their brave leader, Marshal Lannes, Duke of
Montebello--where the wounded and defeated were cursing for the first
time the emperor's insatiable thirst for conquest--instead of
surrounding the French army, or opening a cannonade upon them, the
Archduke Charles fell farther back from the right bank of the Danube,
and allowed his exhausted troops to rest and recover from the fatigue of
the terrible battle that had lasted two days. While the Austrians were
dressing their wounds, the French profited by the delay, and