Home
  By Author [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Title [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Language
all Classics books content using ISYS

Download this book: [ ASCII | PDF ]

Look for this book on Amazon


We have new books nearly every day.
If you would like a news letter once a week or once a month
fill out this form and we will give you a summary of the books for that week or month by email.

Title: Frederick the Great and His Family: A Historical Novel
Author: Mühlbach, L. (Luise)
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
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 "Frederick the Great and His Family: A Historical Novel" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.



FREDERICK THE GREAT AND HIS FAMILY.

A HISTORICAL NOVEL

By L. Muhlbach


Translated From German By Mrs. Chapman Coleman And Her Daughters


CONTENTS.


     BOOK I.

         I.   The King
        II.   Prince Henry
       III.   Louise von Kleist
        IV.   At the Masked Ball
         V.   A Secret Captain
        VI.   The Legacy of Von Trenck, Colonel of the Pandours
       VII.   The King and Weingarten
      VIII.   The Unwilling Bridegroom
        IX.   The First Disappointment
         X.   The Conquered
        XI.   The Travelling Musicians
       XII.   Travelling Adventures
      XIII.   The Drag-Boat
       XIV.   In Amsterdam
        XV.   The King without Shoes


     BOOK  II.

         I.   The Unhappy News
        II.   Trenck on his Way to Prison
       III.   Prince Henry and His Wife
        IV.   The Fete in the Woods
         V.   Intrigues
        VI.   The Private Audience
       VII.   The Traitor
      VIII.   Declaration of War
        IX.   The King and his Brothers
         X.   The Laurel-Branch
        XI.   The Ball at Count Bruhl’s
       XII.   The Interrupted Feast
      XIII.   The Archives at Dresden
       XIV.   Saxony Humiliated


     BOOK  III.

         I.   The Maiden of Brunen
        II.   News of Battle
       III.   The Certificate of Enlistment
        IV.   Farewell to the Village
         V.   The Prisoner
        VI.   The Prison Barricade
       VII.   The Battle of Collin
      VIII.   The Inimical Brothers
        IX.   The Letters
         X.   In the Castle at Dresden
        XI.   The Te Deum
       XII.   Camp Scene
      XIII.   The Watch-Fire
       XIV.   The Battle of Leuthen
        XV.   Winter Quarters in Breslau
       XVI.   The Broken Heart


     BOOK IV.

         I.   The King and his Old and New Enemies
        II.   The Three Officers
       III.   Ranuzi
        IV.   Louise du Trouffle
         V.   The Fortune-Teller
        VI.   A Court Day in Berlin
       VII.   In the Window-Niche
      VIII.   The Nutshells behind the Fauteuil of the Queen
        IX.   The Duel and its Consequences
         X.   The Five Couriers
        XI.   After the Battle
       XII.   A Heroic Soul
      XIII.   The Two Grenadiers
       XIV.   The Right Counsel
        XV.   A Hero in Misfortune


     BOOK V.

         I.   The Teresiani and the Prussiani
        II.   Frederick the Great as a Saint
       III.   The Cloister Brothers of San Giovanni e Paolo
        IV.   The Return from the Army
         V.   The Brave Fathers and the Cowardly Sons
        VI.   The Traitor’s Betrayal
       VII.   The Accusation
      VIII.   Revenge
        IX.   Trenck
         X.   “Trenck, are you there?”
         XI.   The King and the German Scholar
       XII.   Gellert
      XIII.   The Poet and the King
       XIV.   The King and the Village Magistrate
        XV.   The Proposal of Marriage
       XVI.   The Ambassador and the Khan of Tartary


     BOOK VI.

         I.   The King’s Return
        II.   Prince Henry
       III.   Mother and Daughter
        IV.   The King in Sans-Souci
         V.   The Engraved Cup
        VI.   The Princess and the Diplomatist
       VII.   The Royal House-Spy
      VIII.   The Clouds Gather
        IX.   Brother and Sister
         X.   The Stolen Child
        XI.   The Discovery
       XII.   The Morning at Sans-Souci
      XIII.   A Husband’s Revenge
       XIV.   The Separation



BOOK I.



CHAPTER I. THE KING.


The king laid his flute aside, and with his hands folded behind his
back, walked thoughtfully up and down his room in Sans-Souci. His
countenance was now tranquil, his brow cloudless; with the aid of music
he had harmonized his soul, and the anger and displeasure he had so
shortly before felt were soothed by the melodious notes of his flute.

The king was no longer angry, but melancholy, and the smile that played
on his lip was so resigned and painful that the brave Marquis d’Argens
would have wept had he seen it, and the stinging jest of Voltaire have
been silenced.

But neither the marquis nor Voltaire, nor any of his friends were at
present in Potsdam. D’Argens was in France, with his young wife, Barbe
Cochois; Voltaire, after a succession of difficulties and quarrels, had
departed forever; General Rothenberg had also departed to a land from
which no one returns--he was dead! My lord marshal had returned to
Scotland, Algarotti to Italy, and Bastiani still held his office in
Breslau. Sans-Souci, that had been heretofore the seat of joy and
laughing wit--Sans-Souci was now still and lonely; youth, beauty, and
gladness had forsaken it forever; earnestness and duty had taken their
place, and reigned in majesty within those walls that had so often
echoed with the happy laugh and sparkling jest of the king’s friends and
contemporaries.

Frederick thought of this, as with folded hands he walked up and down,
and recalled the past. Sunk in deep thought, he remained standing before
a picture that hung on the wall above his secretary, which represented
Barbarina in the fascinating costume of a shepherdess, as he had seen
her for the first time ten years ago; it had been painted by Pesne for
the king. What recollections, what dreams arose before the king’s soul
as he gazed at that bewitching and lovely face; at those soft, melting
eyes, whose glance had once made him so happy! But that was long ago;
it had passed like a sunbeam on a rainy day, it had been long buried in
clouds. These remembrances warmed the king’s heart as he now stood so
solitary and loveless before this picture; and he confessed to that
sweet image, once so fondly loved, what he had never admitted to
himself, that his heart was very lonely.

But these painful recollections, these sad thoughts, did not last. The
king roused himself from those dangerous dreams, and on leaving the
picture cast upon it almost a look of hatred.

“This is folly,” he said; “I will to work.”

He approached the secretary, and seized the sealed letters and packets
that were lying there. “A letter and packet from the queen,” he said,
wonderingly opening the letter first. Casting a hasty glance through it,
a mocking smile crossed his face. “She sends me a French translation of
a prayer-book,” he said, shrugging his shoulders. “Poor queen! her heart
is not yet dead, though, by Heaven! it has suffered enough.”

He threw the letter carelessly aside, without glancing at the book; its
sad, pleading prayer was but an echo of the thoughts trembling in her
heart.

“Bagatelles! nothing more,” he murmured, after reading the other letters
and laying them aside. He then rang hastily, and bade the servant send
Baron Pollnitz to him as soon as he appeared in the audience-chamber.

A few minutes later the door opened, and the old, wrinkled, sweetly
smiling face of the undaunted courtier appeared.

“Approach,” said the king, advancing a few steps to meet him. “Do you
bring me his submission? Does my brother Henry acknowledge that it is
vain to defy my power?”

Pollnitz shrugged his shoulders. “Sire,” he said, sighing, “his highness
will not understand that a prince must have no heart. He still continues
in his disobedience, and declares that no man should marry a woman
without loving her; that he would be contemptible and cowardly to allow
himself to be forced to do what should be the free choice of his own
heart.”

Pollnitz had spoken with downcast eyes and respectful countenance; he
appeared not to notice that the king reddened and his eyes burned with
anger.

“Ah! my brother dared to say that?” cried the king. “He has the Utopian
thought to believe that he can defy my wishes. Tell him he is mistaken;
he must submit to me as I had to submit to my father.”

“He gives that as an example why he will not yield. He believes a forced
marriage can never be a happy one; that your majesty had not only made
yourself unhappy by your marriage, but also your queen, and that there
was not a lady in the land who would exchange places with your wife.”

The king glanced piercingly at Pollnitz. “Do you know it would have been
better had you forgotten a few of my wise brother’s words?”

“Your majesty commanded me to tell you faithfully every word the prince
said.”

“And you are too much a man of truth and obedience, too little of a
courtier, not to be frank and faithful. Is it not so? Ah! vraiment, I
know you, and I know very well that you are playing a double game. But I
warn you not to follow the promptings of your wicked heart. I desire
my brother to marry, do you hear? I will it, and you, the grand
chamberlain, Baron Pollnitz, shall feel my anger if he does not
consent.”

“And if he does?” said Pollnitz, in his laughing, shameless manner; “if
I persuade the prince to submit to your wishes, what recompense shall I
receive?”

“On the day of their betrothal, I will raise your income five hundred
crowns, and pay your debts.”

“Ah, sire, in what a pitiable dilemma you are placing me! Your majesty
wishes Prince Henry to engage himself as soon as possible, and I must
now wish it to be as late as possible.”

“And why?”

“Because I must hasten to make as many debts as possible, that your
majesty may pay them.”

“You are and will remain an unmitigated fool; old age will not even cure
you,” said the king, smiling. “But speak, do you think my brother may be
brought to reason?”

Pollnitz shrugged his shoulders, gave a sly smile, but was silent.

“You do not answer me. Is my brother in love? and has he confided in
you?”

“Sire, I believe the prince is in love from ennui alone, but he swears
it is his first love.”

“That is an oath that is repeated to each lady-love; I am not afraid of
it,” said the king, smiling “Who is the enchantress that has heard his
first loving vows? She is doubtless a fairy--a goddess of beauty.”

“Yes, sire, she is young and beautiful, and declares it is also her
first love, so no one can doubt its purity; no one understands love as
well as this fair lady; no other than Madame von Kleist, who, as your
majesty remembers, was lately divorced from her husband.”

“And is now free to love again, as it appears,” said the king, with a
mocking smile. “But the beautiful Louise von Schwerin is a dangerous,
daring woman, and we must check her clever plans in the bud. If she
desires to be loved by my brother, she possesses knowledge, beauty, and
experience to gain her point and to lead him into all manner of follies.
This affair must be brought quickly to a close, and Prince Henry
acknowledged to be the prince royal.”

“Prince Henry goes this evening to Berlin to attend a feast given by the
Prince of Prussia,” whispered Pollnitz.

“Ah! it is true the prince’s arrest ceases at six o’clock, but he will
not forget that he needs permission to leave Potsdam.”

“He will forget it, sire.”

The king walked up and down in silence, and his countenance assumed an
angry and threatening appearance. “This struggle must be brought to a
close, and that speedily. My brother must submit to my authority. Go and
watch his movements; as soon as he leaves, come to me.”

Long after Pollnitz had left him, the king paced his chamber in deep
thought. “Poor Henry! I dare not sympathize with you; you are a king’s
son--that means a slave to your position. Why has Providence given
hearts to kings as to other men? Why do we thirst so for love? as the
intoxicating drink is always denied us, and we dare not drink it even
when offered by the most bewitching enchantress!”

Involuntarily his eye rested upon the beautiful picture of Barbarina.
But he would have no pity with himself, as he dared not show mercy to
his brother. Seizing the silver bell, he rang it hastily.

“Take that picture from the wall, and carry it immediately to the
inspector, and tell him to hang it in the picture-gallery,” said
Frederick.

He looked on quietly as the servant took the picture down and carried
it from the room, then sighed and gazed long at the plane where it had
hung.

“Empty and cold! The last token of my youth is gone! I am now the king,
and, with God’s blessing, will be the father of my people.”



CHAPTER II. PRINCE HENRY.


Prince Henry sat quiet and motionless in his lonely room; dark thoughts
seemed to trouble him; his brow was clouded, his lips compressed. Had
you not known him, you would have taken him for the king, so great
was the resemblance of the two brothers; but it was only an outward
resemblance. The prince had not the spiritual expression, his eyes
had not the passionate fire, his face (beautiful as it was) wanted the
fascinating geniality, the sparkling inspiration, that at all times
lighted the king’s countenance like a sunbeam.

The prince possessed a greater mind, a clearer understanding, but he
wanted soul and poetic feeling, and allowed himself at times to ridicule
his brother’s poetic efforts. The king, knowing this, was inclined
to regard the shortcomings of the prince as a determined contempt and
resistance to his command; and as the prince became more reckless and
more indifferent, he became more severe and harsh. Thus the struggle
commenced that had existed for some time between the two brothers.

For the last four days the prince had been in arrest for disobeying
orders, but the hour of his release was approaching, and he awaited it
with impatience.

The bell of the nearest church had just announced the hour of six.
The door opened immediately, and an officer, in the name of the king,
pronounced his arrest at an end.

The prince answered with a low bow, and remained seated, pointing
haughtily to the door; but as the officer left him he arose and paced
hastily to and fro.

“He treats me like a school-boy,” he murmured; “but I shall show him
that I have a will of my own! I will not be intimidated--I will not
submit; and if the king does not cease to annoy me, if he continues to
forget that I am not a slave, but son and brother of a king, no motives
shall restrain me, and I also will forget, as he does, that I am a
prince, and remember only that I am a free, responsible man. He wishes
me to marry, and therefore has me followed, and surrounds me with spies.
He wishes to force me to marry. Well, I will marry, but I will choose my
own wife!”

The prince had just made this resolve, when the door opened, and the
servant announced that Messrs. Kalkreuth and Kaphengst awaited his
commands.

He bade them enter, and advancing smilingly gave them his hand.

“Welcome! welcome!” he said; “the cage is open, and I may enjoy a little
air and sunshine; let us not delay to make use of this opportunity. Our
horses shall be saddled.”

“They are already saddled, prince,” said Baron Kalkreuth. “I have
ordered them to the court, and as soon as it is dark we will mount
them.”

“What! is it not best that we should mount before my door and ride
openly away?” said the prince, wonderingly.

“It is my opinion that is the best plan,” cried Baron Kaphengst,
laughing gayly. “Every one will believe your highness to be simply
taking a ride, while curiosity would be raised if we left the city on
foot.”

“I think leaving in the dark, and on foot, looks as if I were afraid,”
 said the prince, thoughtfully.

“Secrecy is good for priests and old women, but not for us,” cried
Kaphengst.

“Secrecy suits all who wish to do wrong,” said Kalkreuth, earnestly.

The prince glanced hastily at him. “You believe, then, we are about to
do wrong?”

“I dare not speak of your highness, but we two are certainly doing
wrong; we are about to commit an act of insubordination. But still, my
prince, I am ready to do so, as your highness wishes us to accompany
you.”

The prince did not answer, but stepped to the window, and looked out
thoughtfully and silently. In a few moments he returned, looking calm
and resolute.

“Kalkreuth is right--we were going to do wrong, and we must avoid it.
I shall write to the king, and ask leave for you and myself to go to
Berlin.”

“That is, unfortunately, impossible,” said a sweet voice behind him, and
as the prince turned he saw the smiling face of Pollnitz. “I beg pardon,
your highness, for having entered unannounced, but you allowed me to
come at this hour and give you an account of the commissions you gave
me.”

“Why do you say it is impossible to obtain leave of the king today?”
 asked Henry, hastily.

“Because his majesty is already in the concert-saloon, and your highness
knows that he has strictly forbidden any one to disturb him there.”

“We shall, then, have to give up our plan and remain here,” said the
prince.

Kaphengst glanced angrily and threateningly at his friend.

“And why should your highness do this?” asked Pollnitz, astonished. “All
your preparations are made, all your commands fulfilled. I have procured
your costumes; no one will recognize you, and if they should, would not
dare to betray you to the king. Only two persons know that you are
to visit the ball, the Prince of Prussia, and a lovely lady, whose
beautiful eyes were misty with tears when I delivered her your message.
‘Tell the prince,’ she murmured, in a tender voice, ‘I will await him
there, even if I knew the king would crush me with his anger.’”

The prince blushed with joy. “And you say it is impossible for me to see
the king?”

“Impossible, my prince.”

“Well, we will have to renounce it,” said the prince, sighing.

“Renounce seeing the king, yes! for he will not leave his rooms in
Sans-Souci today.”

“Then we would be entirely safe; he would not notice our departure,”
 said Kaphengst, quickly.

“Entirely safe,” said Pollnitz.

“That is, if Baron Pollnitz does not himself inform the king,” said
Baron Kalkreuth, whose quick, clear glance rested upon the smiling face
of the courtier, and appeared to read his inmost thoughts.

Baron Pollnitz cast a suspicious and angry glance at Kalkreuth. “I
did not know that borrowing money from you gave you the right to speak
rudely to me!”

“Silence! gentlemen,” cried the prince, who, until now, had stood
quietly struggling with his own wishes. “Take your cloaks and let us
walk. Did you not say that horses were awaiting us at the door, Baron
Kalkreuth?”

“I said so, your highness.”

“And you Pollnitz? Did you not say that three costumes awaited us in
Berlin?”

“Yes, your highness.”

“Well, then,” said the prince, smiling, “we must not allow the horses
and costumes to await us any longer. Come, gentlemen, we will ride to
Berlin.”

“Really it was hard to get him off,” murmured Pollnitz, as he regained
the street, and saw the three young men fading in the distance. “The
good prince had quite a dutiful emotion; if the king only knew it, he
would forgive him all, and renounce the idea of his marriage. But that
would not suit me--my debts would not be paid! I must not tell the king
of his brother’s inward struggle.”

“Well!” said the king, as Pollnitz entered, “has my brother really gone
to Berlin?”

“Yes, your majesty, and accompanied by the two Messieurs--”

“Silence!” cried the king, hastily; “I do not wish to know their names,
I should have to punish them also. He has then gone, and without any
hesitation, any reluctance?”

“Yes, sire, without hesitation. He thinks he has the right to go where
he pleases, and to amuse himself as he can.”

“Order the carriage, Pollnitz,” said the king. “Without doubt my brother
has taken the shortest road to Berlin?”

“Yes, sire.”

“Then there is no danger of our meeting them and being recognized; and
as we have relays on the road, we will reach Berlin before them.”



CHAPTER III. LOUISE VON KLEIST.


Madame von Kleist was alone in her boudoir. She had just completed her
toilet, and was viewing herself with considerable pleasure in a
large Venetian glass. She had reason to be pleased. The costume of
an odalisque became her wonderfully; suited her luxuriant beauty, her
large, dreamy blue eyes, her full red lips, her slender, swaying form.
At twenty-eight, Louise von Kleist was still a sparkling beauty; the
many trials and sorrows she had passed through had not scattered the
roses from her cheek, nor banished youth from her heart.

Louise von Kleist resembled greatly the little Louise von Schwerin
of earlier days--the little dreamer who found it romantic to love a
gardener, and was quite ready to flee with him to a paradise of love.
The king’s watchfulness saved her from this romantic folly, and gave her
another husband. This unhappy match was now at an end. Louise was again
free. She still felt in her heart some of the wild love of romance
and adventure of the little Louise; she was the same daring, dreamy,
impressible Louise, only now she was less innocent. The little coquette
from instinct was changed into a coquette from knowledge.

She stood before the glass and surveyed once more her appearance; then
acknowledged with a pleased smile that she was beautiful enough to
fascinate all men, to arouse in all hearts a painful longing.

“But I shall love no one but the prince,” she said, “and when my power
over him is sufficient to induce him to marry me, I shall reward him by
my faith, and entire submission to his wishes. Oh! I shall be a virtuous
wife, a true and faithful mother; and my lovely little Camilla shall
find in her mother a good and noble example. I shall promise this to my
angel with my farewell kiss; and then--to the ball!”

She entered the next chamber, and stood at her child’s bed. What a
strange sight! This woman, in a fantastic, luxuriant costume, bending
over the cot of the little girl, with such tender, pious looks, with
folded hands, and soft, murmuring lips, uttering a prayer or holy wish!

“How beautiful she is!” murmured Louise, not dreaming that her own
beauty at this moment beamed with touching splendor--that mother love
had changed the alluring coquette into an adorable saint--“how beautiful
she is!”

The gay, ringing laughter of her daughter interrupted her; the child
opened her large black eyes, and looked amused.

“You naughty child, you were not asleep,” said Louise.

“No, mamma, I was not asleep; I was playing comedy.”

“Ah! and who taught you to play comedy, you silly child?” said Louise,
tenderly.

The child looked earnestly before her for a few moments as children are
wont to do when a question surprises them.

“I believe, mamma,” she said, slowly--“I believe I learned it from you.”

“From me, Camilla? When have you seen me act?”

“Oh, very often,” she cried, laughing. “Just a few days ago, mamma,
don’t you remember when we were laughing and talking so merrily
together, Prince Henry was announced, and you sent me into the next
room, but the door was open, and I saw very well that you made a sad
face, and I heard the prince ask you how you were, and you answered, ‘I
am sick, your highness, and how could it be otherwise, as I am always
sad or weeping?’ Now, mother, was not that acting?”

Louise did not answer. Breathing heavily, she laid her hand upon her
heart, for she felt a strange sorrow and indescribable fear.

Camilla continued, “Oh! and I saw how tenderly the prince looked at you;
how he kissed you, and said you were as lovely as an angel. Oh, mamma, I
too shall be beautiful, and beloved by a prince!”

“To be beautiful, darling, you must be good and virtuous,” said the fair
odalisque, earnestly.

Little Camilla arose in her bed; the white gown fell from her shoulders
and exposed her soft childish form, her brown ringlets curled down her
neck and lost themselves in her lace-covered dress.

The chandelier that hung from the ceiling lighted her lovely face, and
made the gold and silver embroidered robes and jewels of her mother
sparkle brilliantly.

At this moment, as with folded arms she glanced up at her mother, she
looked like an angel, but she had already dangerous and earthly thoughts
in her heart.

“Mamma,” she said, “why should I be virtuous, when you are not?”

Louise trembled, and looked terrified at her daughter. “Who told you I
was not virtuous?”

“My poor, dear papa told me when he was here the last time. Oh, he told
me a great deal, mamma! He told,” continued the child, with a sly smile,
“how you loved a beautiful gardener, and ran off with him, and how he,
at the command of the king, married you and saved you from shame; and he
said you were not at all grateful, but had often betrayed and deceived
him, and, because he was so unhappy with you, he drank so much wine to
forget his sorrow. Oh, mamma, you don’t know how poor papa cried as
he told me all this, and besought me not to become like you, but to be
good, that every one might love and respect me!”

Whilst Camilla spoke, her mother had sunk slowly, as if crushed, to the
floor; and, with her face buried in the child’s bed, sobbed aloud.

“Don’t cry, mamma,” said Camilla, pleadingly; “believe me, I will not
do as papa says, and I will not be so stupid as to live in a small town,
where it is so still and lonesome.”

As her mother still wept, Camilla continued, as if to quiet her:

“I shall be like you, mamma; indeed, I will. Oh, you should but see how
I watch you, and notice how you smile at all the gentlemen, what soft
eyes you make, and then again, how cold and proud you are, and then look
at them so tenderly! Oh, I have noticed all, and I shall do just the
same, and I will run away with a gardener, but I will not let papa catch
me--no, not I.”

“Hush, child, hush!” cried the mother, rising, pale and trembling, from
her knees; “you must become a good and virtuous girl, and never run away
with a man. Forget what your bad father has told you; you know he hates
me, and has told you all these falsehoods to make you do the same.”

“Mamma, can you swear that it is not true?”

“Yes, my child, I can swear it.”

“You did not run off with a gardener?”

“No, my child. Have I not told you that a virtuous girl never runs
away?”

“You did not make papa unhappy, and, being his wife, love other men?”

“No, my daughter.”

“Mamma,” said the child, after a long pause, “can you give me your right
hand, and swear you did not?”

Louise hesitated a moment; a cold shiver ran through her, she felt as if
she was about to perjure herself; but as she looked into the beautiful
face of her child, whose eyes were fixed on her with a strange
expression, she overcame her unwillingness.

“Here is my hand--I swear that all your father told you is false!”

Camilla laughed gleefully. “Oh, mamma, I have caught you: you always
want me to tell the truth, and never give my right hand when a thing is
not true, and now you have done it yourself.”

“What have I done!” said the mother, trembling.

“You gave me your right hand, and swore that all papa told me was false;
and I say it is true, and you have sworn falsely.”

“Why do you believe that, Camilla?” she asked.

“I don’t believe it, I know it,” said the child, with a sly smile, “When
papa spoke to you, for the last time, and told you good-by forever, he
told you the same he had told me. Oh! I was there and heard all; you did
not see me slip into the room and hide behind the fire-place. Papa told
you that you had been the cause of all his unhappiness and shame; that
from the day you had run off with the gardener and he, at the king’s
command, went after you, and married you--from that day, he had been a
lost man, and when he said that, you cried, but did not tell him, as you
told me, that it was not true.”

Louise did not answer. This last taunt had crushed her heart, and
silenced her. Still leaning on the bed, she looked at her child with
painful tenderness. Camilla’s mocking laughter had pierced her soul as
with a dagger.

“Lost,” she murmured, “both of us lost!”

With passionate despair she threw her arms around the child, and pressed
her closely; kissed her wildly again and again, and covered her face
with burning tears.

“No, Camilla, no! you shall not be lost, you must remain good and pure!
Every child has its guardian angel; pray, my child, pray that your angel
may watch over you!”

She pressed her again in her arms, then returned to her chamber, sadder
and more hopeless than she had ever been before.

But this unusual sadness commenced to annoy her; her heart was not
accustomed to feel sorrow, and her remorseful, dreary feeling made her
shudder. “If the carriage would but come!” she murmured, and then, as
if to excuse her thoughtlessness, she added, “it is now my holy duty to
listen to the prince; I must regain the respect of my child. Yes, yes,
I must become the wife of Henry I I can accomplish this, for the prince
loves me truly.”

And now, she was again the coquette, whose captivating smile harmonized
perfectly with her alluring costume--no longer the tender mother, no
longer the sinner suffering from repentance and self-reproach.

She stood before the glass, and arranged her disordered dress and
smoothed her dishevelled hair.

“I must be bewitching and fascinating,” she murmured, with a smile that
showed two rows of pearl-like teeth; “the prince must gain courage from
my glance, to offer me his hand. Oh, I know he is quite prepared to do
so, if it were only to annoy his brother!” As she saw the carriage drive
up, she exclaimed, with sparkling eyes, “The battle begins--to victory!”



CHAPTER IV. AT THE MASKED BALL.


The feast had commenced. As Louise von Kleist, the beautiful odalisque,
entered the dancing-saloon, she was almost blinded by the gay and
sparkling assembly. The fairy-like and fantastic robes sparkled with
gold and jewels. The sea of light thrown from the crystal chandelier
upon the mirrors and ornaments of the brilliant saloon dazzled the eye.
The entertainments of the Prince of Prussia were renowned for their
taste and splendor.

Unrecognized, the beautiful Louise slipped through the gay assembly of
masks, and, when detecting some friends under the muffled forms of
their disguise, she murmured their names, and some mischievous and witty
remark; then springing gayly on to shoot again her arrow, and excite
astonishment and surprise.

“Oh, that life were a masked ball!” she murmured softly to herself,
“mysterious and sweet! where you find more than you seek, and guess more
than is known. No one recognizes me here. The brave and handsome
Count Troussel, who is leaning against that pillar, and casting such
melancholy glances through the crowd, hunting for the one his heart
adores, never dreams that she is standing opposite him, and is laughing
at his perplexity. No, he does not recognize me, and no one knows my
costume but the prince and Pollnitz, and as they have not yet found me,
I conclude they have not arrived. I will therefore amuse myself during
their absence.”

She was just approaching the sentimental cavalier, when she suddenly
felt her arm touched, and, turning around, saw two masks wrapped in dark
dominoes before her.

“Beautiful odalisque, I bring you your sultan.” murmured one of them, in
whom she recognized Baron Pollnitz.

“And where is my sultan?” she asked.

“Here,” said the second mask, offering the beautiful lady his arm.
Louise saw those glorious eyes beaming upon her through his mask-eyes
which the king and Prince Henry alone possessed.

“Ah, my prince!” she murmured softly and reproachfully, “you see that it
is I who have waited.”

The prince did not answer, but conducted her hastily through the crowd.
They had soon reached the end of the saloon. A small flight of steps
led them to a little boudoir opening on a balcony. Into this boudoir
Pollnitz led the silent pair, then bowing low he left them.

“My God! your highness, if we should be surprised here!”

“Fear nothing, we will not be surprised. Pollnitz guards the door. Now,
as we are alone and undisturbed, let us lay aside our disguises.”

Thus speaking, the supposed prince removed his mask and laid it upon the
table.

“The king!” cried Louise, terrified and stepping back.

The king’s eyes rested upon her with a piercing glance. “What!” he
asked, “are you still acting? You appear astonished; and still you must
have known me. Who but the king would show the beautiful Madame von
Kleist such an honor? In what other cavalier could you place such
perfect confidence as to accompany him into this lonely boudoir? With
whom but the king could you have trusted your fair fame? You need not
be alarmed; to be in my presence is to be under my protection--the kind
guardianship of your king. I thank you that you knew me, and, knowing
me, followed me trustingly.”

The searching glance of the king alarmed Louise; his mocking words
bewildered her, and she was incapable of reply.

She bowed silently, and allowed herself to be conducted to the divan.

“Sit down, and let us chat awhile,” said the king. “You know I hate the
noise of a feast, and love to retire into some corner, unnoticed and
unseen. I had no sooner discovered the fair Louise under this charming
costume, than I knew I had found good company. I ordered Pollnitz
to seek out for us some quiet spot, where we might converse freely.
Commence, therefore.”

“Of what shall I speak, your majesty?” said Louise, confused and
frightened. She knew well that the king had not found her by chance, but
had sought her with a determined purpose.

“Oh! that is a question whose naivete reminds me of the little Louise
Schwerin of earlier days. Well, let us speak on that subject which
interests most deeply all who know you; let us speak of your happiness.
You sigh. Have you already paid your tribute? Do you realize the
fleetness of all earthly bliss?”

“Ah! your majesty, an unhappy marriage is the most bitter offering
that can be made to experience,” sighed Madame von Kliest. “My life was
indeed wretched until released by your kindness from that bondage.”

“Ah, yes, it is true you are divorced. When and upon whom will you now
bestow this small, white hand?”

Louise looked up astonished. “What!” she stammered, confused, “your
majesty means--”

“That you will certainly marry again. As beautiful a lady as you will
always be surrounded by lovers, and I sincerely hope that you will
marry. You should go forward as an example to my brothers, your youthful
playmates, and I will tell my brother Henry that marriage is not so bad
a thing, as the beautiful Madame von Kleist has tried it for the second
time.”

“I doubt very much, sire,” said Louise, timidly, “if the example of so
insignificant a person would have the desired effect upon the prince.”

“You do yourself injustice. The prince has too strong an admiration for
you, not to be influenced by your encouraging example. My brother must
and shall marry according to his birth. I am assured that, contrary to
my wishes and commands, he is about to make a secret and illegitimate
marriage. I am not yet acquainted with the name of his wily mistress,
but I shall learn it, and, when once noted in my memory, woe be unto
her, for I shall never acknowledge such a marriage, and I shall take
care that his mistress is not received at court--she shall be regarded
as a dishonored woman.”

“Your majesty is very stern and pitiless toward the poor prince,” said
Madame Kleist, who had succeeded in suppressing her own emotions, and,
following the lead of the king, she was desirous to let it appear that
the subject was one of no personal interest to herself.

“No,” said the king, “I am not cruel and not pitiless. I must forget
that I am a brother, and remember only I am a king, not only for the
good of my family, but for the prosperity of my people. My brother must
marry a princess of wealth and influence. Tell Prince Henry this. Now,”
 said the king, with an engaging smile, “let us speak of your lovely
self. You will, of course, marry again. Have you not confidence enough
in me to tell me the name of your happy and favored lover?”

“Sire,” said Louise, smiling, “I do not know it myself, and to show what
unbounded confidence I have in your majesty, I modestly confess that I
am not positively certain whether among my many followers there is
one who desires to be the successor of Kleist. It is easy to have many
lovers, but somewhat difficult to marry suitably.”

“We need a marrying man to chase away the crowd of lovers,” said the
king, smiling. “Think awhile--let your lovers pass in review before
you--perhaps you may find among them one who is both ardent and
desirable.”

Louise remained thoughtful for a few moments. The king observed her
closely.

“Well,” he said, after a pause, “have you made your selection?”

Madame von Kleist sighed, and her beautiful bright eyes filled with
tears. She took leave of her most cherished and ambitious dream--bade
farewell to her future of regal pomp and splendor.

“Yes, sire, I have found an e’poitseur, who only needs encouragement, to
offer me his heart and hand.”

“Is he of good family?”

“Yes, sire.”

“Military?”

“Yes, sire. He wears only a captain’s epaulets. Your majesty sees that I
am modest.”

“On the day of his marriage he shall be major. When the Church
pronounces her blessing, the king’s blessing shall not be wanting. We
are, of course, agreed. When will you be engaged?”

“Sire, that depends upon my lover, and when I succeed in bringing him to
terms.”

“We will say in eight days. You see I am anxious to become speedily
acquainted with one blissful mortal, and I think that the husband of the
beautiful Madame Kleist will be supremely happy. In eight days, then,
you will be engaged, and, to complete your good work, you must announce
this happy fact to my brother Henry. Of course, he must not even surmise
that you sacrifice yourself in order to set him a good example. No, you
will complete your noble work, and tell him that a love which you could
not control induced you to take this step; and that he may not doubt
your words, you will tell your story cheerfully--yes, joyously.”

“Sire, it is too much--I cannot do it,” cried Madame von Kleist. “It is
enough to trample upon my own heart; your majesty cannot desire me to
give the prince his death-blow.”

The king’s eyes flashed angrily, but he controlled himself.

“His death!” he repeated, shrugging his shoulders, “as if men died of
such small wounds. You know better yourself. You know that the grave
of one love is the cradle of another. Be wise, and do as I tell you: in
eight days you will be engaged, and then you will have the kindness to
acquaint Prince Henry with your happy prospects.”

“Ah, sire, do not be so cruel as to ask this of me,” cried Louise,
gliding from the divan upon her knees, “be merciful. I am ready to obey
the commands of my king, to make the sacrifice that is asked of me--let
it not be too great a one. Your majesty asks that I shall draw down the
contempt of the man I love upon myself; that this man must not only
give me up, but scorn me. You require too much. This is more than the
strongest, bravest heart can endure. Your majesty knows that the prince
loves me passionately. Ah, sire, your brother would have forfeited his
rank and your favor by marrying me, but he would have been a happy man;
and I ask the king if that is not, at last, the best result? Are you,
sire, content and happy since you trampled your breathing, loving heart
to death at the foot of the throne? You command your brother to do as
you have done. Well, sire, I submit--not only to resign the prince, but
to marry again, to marry without love. Perhaps my soul will be lost by
this perjury, but what matters that--it is a plaything in the hands
of the king? He may break my heart, but it shall not be dishonored and
trodden in the dust. The prince shall cease to love me, but I will not
be despised by him. He shall not think me a miserable coquette, despise,
and laugh at me. Now, sire, you can crush me in your anger. I have said
what I had to say--you know my decision.”

She bowed her head almost to the earth; motionless, kneeling at the foot
of the king, her hands folded on her breast, she might in reality have
been taken for an odalisque but that her sad, tearful face was not in
unison with the situation or costume.

A long pause ensued--a solemn, fearful pause. The king struggled
with his rage, Louise with her disappointment and distress. Sounds of
laughter, the gay notes of music reached them from the dancing-saloon.
The ball had commenced, and youth and beauty were mingling in the dance.
These sounds aroused the king, and the sad contrast made Louise shudder.

“You will not, then, comply with my request?” said the king, sternly.

“Sire, I cannot!” murmured Louise, raising her hands imploringly to the
king.

“You cannot!” cried the king, whose face glowed with anger; “you cannot,
that means you will not, because your vain, coquettish heart will not
resign the love of the prince. You submit to resign his hand, because
you must; but you wish to retain his love: he must think of you as a
heavenly ideal, to be adored and longed for, placed amongst the stars
for worship. Ah, madame, you are not willing to make the gulf between
you impassable! You say you wish, at least, to retain the respect of
Prince Henry. I ask you, madame, what you have done to deserve his
respect? You were an ungrateful and undutiful daughter; you did not
think of the shame and sorrow you prepared for your parents, when you
arranged your flight with the gardener. I succeeded in rescuing you from
dishonor by marrying you to a brave and noble cavalier. It depended upon
you entirely to gain his love and respect, but you forgot your duty as
a wife, as you had forgotten it as a daughter. You had no pity with the
faults and follies of your husband, you drove him to despair. At
last, to drown his sorrows, he became a drunkard, and you, instead of
remaining at his side to encourage and counsel him, deserted him, and
so heartlessly exposed his shame that I, to put an end to the scandal,
permitted your divorce. You not only forgot your duty as a wife and
daughter, but also as a mother. You have deprived your child of a
father, you have made her an orphan; you have soiled, almost depraved
her young soul; and now, after all this, you wish to be adored and
respected as a saint by my poor brother! No, madame! I shall know how
to save him from this delusion; I shall tell to him and the world the
history of little Louise von Schwerin! Fritz Wendel still lives, and, if
you desire it, I can release him, and he may tell his romantic story.”

“Oh, for the second time to-day I have heard that hateful name!” cried
Louise; “the past is an avenger that pursues us mercilessly through our
whole lives.”

“Choose, madame!” said the king, after a pause; “will you announce your
betrothal to my brother in a gay and unembarrassed tone, or shall I
call Fritz Wendel, that he may sing the unhappy prince to sleep with his
romantic history?”

Whilst the king spoke, Louise had raised herself slowly from her knees,
and taken a seat upon the divan. Now rising, and bowing lowly, she said,
with trembling lips and tearful voice: “Sire, I am prepared to do all
that you wish. I shall announce my betrothal to the prince cheerfully,
and without sighs or tears. But be merciful, and free me forever from
that hideous spectre which seems ever at my side!”

“Do you mean poor Fritz Wendel?” said the king, smiling.

“Well, on the day of your marriage I will send him as a soldier to
Poland: there he may relate his love-adventures, but no one will
understand him. Are you content?”

“I thank you, sire,” said Louise, faintly.

“Ah, I see our conversation has agitated you a little!” said the king.
“Fortunately, we are now at an end. In the next eight days, remember,
you will be engaged!”

“Yes, sire.”

“The day of your marriage, I will make your captain a major. You promise
to tell my brother of your engagement, and that it is in accordance with
the warmest wishes of your heart?”

“Yes, sire; and you will banish the gardener forever?”

“I will; but wait--one thing more. Where will you tell my brother of
your engagement, and before what witnesses?”

“At the place and before the witnesses your majesty may select,” said
Madame von Kleist.

The king thought a moment. “You will do it in my presence,” said he; “I
will let you know the time and place through Pollnitz. We have arranged
our little affairs, madame, and we will descend to the saloon where, I
think, your epouseur is sighing for your presence.”

“Let him sigh, sire! With your permission, I should like to retire.”

“Go, madame, where you wish. Pollnitz will conduct you to your
carriage.”

He offered her his hand, and, with a friendly bow, led her to the door.

“Farewell, madame! I believe we part friends?”

“Sire,” she answered, smiling faintly, “I can only say as the soldiers
do, ‘I thank you for your gracious punishment!’”

She bowed and left the room hastily, that the king might not see her
tears.



CHAPTER V. A SECRET CAPTAIN.


The king looked long after her in silence; at first with an expression
of deep pity, but this soon gave place to a gay, mocking smile.

“She is not a woman to take sorrow earnestly. When mourning no longer
becomes her, she will lay it aside for the rosy robes of joy. She is a
coquette, nothing more. It is useless to pity her.”

He now stepped upon the balcony that overlooked the saloon, and glanced
furtively from behind the curtains upon the gay assembly below.

“Poor, foolish mankind! how wise you might be, if you were not so very
childish--if you did not seek joy and happiness precisely where it is
not to be found! But how is this?” said the king, interrupting himself,
“those two giant forms at the side of the little Armenians are certainly
Barons Kalkreuth and Kaphengst, and that is my brother with them. Poor
Henry! you have made a bad use of your freedom, and must, therefore,
soon lose it. Ah! see how searchingly he turns his head, seeking his
beautiful odalisque! In vain, my brother, in vain! For to-day, at least,
we have made her a repentant Magdalen; to-morrow she will be again
a life-enjoying Aspasia. Ah, the prince separates himself from
his followers. I have a few words to whisper in the ear of the gay
Kaphengst.”

The king stepped back into the room, and after resuming his mask, he
descended into the saloon, accompanied by his grand chamberlain.

Mirth and gayety reigned; the room was crowded with masks. Here stood
a group in gay conversation; there was dancing at the other end of the
saloon. Some were listening to the organ-player, as he sang, in comical
German and French verses, little incidents and adventures that had
occurred during the present year at court, bringing forth laughter,
confused silence, and blushes. Some were amusing themselves with the
lively, witty chat of the son of the Prince of Prussia, the little
ten-year-old, Prince Frederick William. He was dressed as the God of
Love, with bow and quiver, dancing around, and, with an early-ripened
instinct, directing his arrow at the most beautiful and fascinating
ladies in the room.

Prince Henry paid no attention to all this; his wandering glance sought
only the beautiful Louise, and a deep sigh escaped him at not having
found her. Hastily he stepped through the rows of dancers which
separated the two cavaliers from him.

“It appears,” murmured Baron Kalkreuth to his friend, “it appears to me
that the prince would like to get rid of us. He wishes to be entirely
unobserved. I think we can profit by this, and therefore I shall take
leave of you for a while, and seek my own adventures.”

“I advise you,” murmured Baron Kaphengst, laughingly, “to appoint no
rendezvous for to-morrow.”

“And why not, friend?”

“Because you will not be able to appear; for you will doubtless be in
arrest.”

“That is true, and I thank you for your prudent advice, and shall
arrange all my rendezvous for the day after to-morrow. Farewell.”

Baron Kaphengst turned laughingly to another part of the saloon.
Suddenly he felt a hand placed on his shoulder, and a low voice murmured
his name.

Terrified, he turned. “I am not the one you seek, mask,” he said; but as
he met those two large, burning eyes, he shuddered, and even his bold,
daring heart stood still a moment from terror. Only the king had such
eyes; only he had such a commanding glance.

“You say you are not the one I seek,” said the mask. “Well, yes, you
speak wisely. I sought in you a brave and obedient officer, and it
appears that you are not that. You are not, then, Lieutenant von
Kaphengst?”

Kaphengst thought a moment. He was convinced it was the king that
spoke with him, for Frederick had not attempted to disguise his voice.
Kaphengst knew he was discovered. There remained nothing for him but to
try and reconcile the king by a jest.

He bowed close to the king, and whispered: “Listen, mask--as you have
recognized me, I will acknowledge the truth. Yes, I am Lieutenant von
Kaphengst, and am incognito. You understand me--I came to this ball
incognito. He is a scoundrel who repeats it!” and, without awaiting
an answer, he hastened away to seek the prince and Baron Kalkreuth,
acquaint them with the king’s presence, and fly with them from his
anger.

But Prince Henry, whose fruitless search for his sweetheart had made
him angry and defiant, declared he would remain at the ball until it was
over, and that it should be optional with the king to insult his brother
openly, and to punish and humble a prince of his house before the world.

“I, unfortunately, do not belong to the princes of the royal house, and
I therefore fear that the king might regard me as the cat who had to
pull the hot chestnuts from the ashes, and I might suffer for all three.
I therefore pray your highness to allow me to withdraw.”

“You may go, and if you meet Kalkreuth, ask him to accompany you. You
officers must not carry your insubordination any further. I, as prince,
and Hohenzollern, dare the worst, but, be assured, I shall pay for my
presumption. Farewell, and hasten! Do not forget Kalkreuth.”

Kaphengst sought in vain. Kalkreuth was nowhere to be found, and he had
to wend his way alone to Potsdam.

“I shall take care not to await the order of the king for my arrest,”
 said Baron Kaphengst to himself, as he rode down the road to Potsdam. “I
shall be in arrest when his order arrives. Perhaps that will soften his
anger.”

Accordingly, when Kaphengst arrived at the court guard, in Potsdam, he
assumed the character of a drunken, quarrelsome officer, and played his
role so well that the commander placed him in arrest.

An hour later the king’s order reached the commander to arrest Baron
Kaphengst, and with smiling astonishment he received the answer that he
had been under arrest for the last hour.

In the mean time, Kaphengst had not miscalculated. The prince was put
under arrest for eight days, Kalkreuth for three. He was released the
next morning, early enough to appear at the parade. As the king,
with his generals, rode down to the front, he immediately noticed the
audacious young officer, whose eye met his askance and pleadingly. The
king beckoned to him, and as Baron Kaphengst stood erect before him, the
king said, laughingly; “It is truly difficult to exchange secrets with
one of your height; bow down to me, I have something to whisper in you
ear.”

The comrades and officers, yes, even the generals, saw not without envy
that the king was so gracious to the young Lieutenant von Kaphengst;
whispered a few words to him confidentially, and then smiling and bowing
graciously, moved on.

It was, therefore, natural that, when the king left, all were anxious
to congratulate the young lieutenant, and ask him what the king had
whispered. But Baron Kaphengst avoided, with dignified gravity, all
inquiries, and only whispered to his commander softly, but loud
enough for every one to hear, the words, “State secrets,” then bowing
profoundly, returned with an earnest and grave face to his dwelling,
there to meditate at his leisure upon the king’s words--words both
gracious and cruel, announcing his advancement, but at the same time
condemning him to secrecy.

The king’s words were: “You are a captain, but he is a scoundrel who
repeats it!”

Thus Baron Kaphengst was captain, but no one suspected it; the captain
remained a simple lieutenant in the eyes of the world.



CHAPTER VI. THE LEGACY OF VON TRENCK, COLONEL OF THE PANDOURS.


Baron Weingarten, the new secretary of legation of the Austrian embassy
in Berlin, paced the ambassador’s office in great displeasure. It was
the hour in which all who had affairs to arrange with the Austrian
ambassador, passports to vise, contracts to sign, were allowed entrance,
and it was the baron’s duty to receive them. But no one came; no one
desired to make use of his ability or his mediation, and this displeased
the baron and put him out of humor. It was not the want of work and
activity that annoyed him; the baron would have welcomed the dolce far
niente had it not been unfortunately connected with his earnings; the
fees he received for passports, and the arrangement of other affairs,
formed part of his salary as secretary of legation, and as he possessed
no fortune, this was his only resource. This indigence alone led him to
resign his aristocratic independence and freedom of action. He had not
entered the state service from ambition, but for money, that he might
have the means of supporting his mother and unmarried sisters, and
enable himself to live according to his rank and old aristocratic
name. Baron Weingarten would have made any sacrifice, submitted to any
service, to obtain wealth. Poverty had demoralized him, pride had laid
a mildew on his heart and stifled all noble aspirations. As he read
a letter, just received from his mother, complaining of wants and
privations, telling of the attachment of a young officer to his sister,
and that poverty alone prevented their marriage, his heart was filled
with repining, and at this moment he was prepared to commit a crime, if,
by so doing, he could have obtained wealth.

In this despairing and sorrowful mood he had entered the office,
and awaited in vain for petitioners who would pay him richly for
his services. But the hours passed in undisturbed quiet, and Baron
Weingarten was in the act of leaving the office, as the servant
announced Baron von Waltz, and the court councillor, Zetto, from Vienna.

He advanced to meet the two gentlemen, with a smiling countenance, and
welcomed his Austrian countrymen heartily.

The two gentlemen seated themselves silently; Weingarten took a seat in
front of them.

A painful, embarrassed pause ensued. The majestic Baron von Waltz looked
silently at the ceiling, while the black, piercing eyes of the little
Councillor Zetto examined the countenance of Weingarten with a strangely
searching and penetrating expression.

“You are from Vienna?” said Weingarten at last, putting an end to this
painful silence.

“We are from Vienna,” answered the baron, with a grave bow. “And have
travelled here post-haste to have an interview with you.”

“With me?” asked the secretary of legation, astonished.

“With you alone,” said the baron, gravely.

“We wish you to do the King of Prussia a great service,” said Zetto,
solemnly.

Weingarten reddened, and said confusedly: “The King of Prussia! You
forget, gentlemen, that my services belong alone to the Empress Maria
Theresa.”

“He defends himself before he is accused,” said Zetto, aside. “It is
then true, as we have been told, he is playing a double game--serves
Austria and Prussia at the same time.” Turning to Baron Weingarten, he
said: “That which we ask of you will be at the same time a service to
our gracious empress, for certainly it would not only distress, but
compromise her majesty, if an Austrian officer committed a murder in
Prussia.”

“Murder!” cried the secretary of legation.

“Yes, an intentional murder,” said Baron Waltz, emphatically--“the
murder of the King of Prussia. If you prevent this crime, you will
receive ten thousand guilders,” said Zetto, examining Weingarten’s
countenance closely. He remarked that the baron, who was but a moment
ago pale from terror, now reddened, and that his eyes sparkled joyously.

“And what can I do to prevent this murder?” asked Weingarten, hastily.

“You can warn the king.”

“But to warn successfully, I must have proofs.”

“We are ready to give the most incontrovertible proofs.”

“I must, before acting, be convinced of the veracity of your charges.”

“I hope that my word of honor will convince you of their truth,” said
Baron Waltz, pathetically.

Weingarten bowed, with an ambiguous smile, that did not escape Zetto.
He drew forth his pocket-book, and took from it a small, folded paper,
which he handed to Weingarten.

“If I strengthen my declaration with this paper, will you trust me?”

Weingarten looked with joyful astonishment at the paper; it was a check
for two thousand guilders. “My sister’s dowry,” thought Weingarten, with
joy. But the next moment came doubt and suspicion. What if they were
only trying him--only convincing themselves if he could be bought?
Perhaps he was suspected of supplying the Prussian Government from time
to time with Austrian news--of communicating to them the contents of
important dispatches!

The fire faded from his eye, and with a firm countenance he laid the
paper upon the table.

“Your are mistaken, gentlemen! That is no document, but a check.”

“With which many documents could be purchased,” said Zetto, smiling.
Placing the paper again in his pocket-book, he took out another and a
larger one. It was a check for three thousand guilders.

But Weingarten had regained his composure. He knew that men acting thus
must be spies or criminals; that they were testing him, or luring him on
to some unworthy act. In either case, he must be on his guard.

“I beg you to confirm your charge in the usual manner,” said he, with
a cold, indifferent glance at the paper. “Murder is a dreadful
accusation--you cannot act too carefully. You say that an Austrian
officer intends to murder the King of Prussia. How do you know this?”

“From himself,” said Baron Waltz. “He communicated his intentions to me,
and confided to me his entire plan.”

“It appears,” remarked Weingarten, mockingly, “that the officer had
reason to believe he might trust you with this terrible secret.”

“You see, however, that he was mistaken,” said the baron, smilingly. “I
demand of you to warn the King of Prussia of the danger that threatens
him.”

“I shall be compelled to make this danger clear, give all particulars,
or the king will laugh at my story and consider it a fairy tale.”

“You shall give him convincing proof. Say to him that the murder is
to be committed when his majesty attends the Austrian review at
Konigsberg.”

“How will the officer cross the Prussian border?”

“He is supplied with an Austrian passport, and under the pretence of
inheriting a large property in Prussia, he has obtained leave of absence
for a month.”

“There remains now but one question: why does the officer wish to murder
the king? What motive leads him to do so?”

“Revenge,” said Baron von Waltz, solemnly--“an act of vengeance. This
Austrian officer who is resolved to murder the king of Prussia, is
Frederick von Trenck.”

Weingarten was embarrassed, and his countenance bore an uneasy and
troubled expression. But as his eye fell upon the weighty paper that lay
before him, he smiled, and looked resolved.

“Now I have but one thing more to ask. Why, if your story is authentic,
and well calculated to startle even the brave king, have you thought it
necessary to remove my doubts with this document?”

Baron Waltz was silent, and looked inquiringly at Zetto.

“Why did I hand you this document?” said the councillor, with a sweet
smile. “Because gold remains gold, whether received from an Austrian
councillor or from a Prussian prince.”

“Sir, do you dare to insult me?” cried the secretary of legation,
fiercely.

Zetto smiled. “No, I only wish to notify you that we are aware that
it is through you that Baron von Trenck receives money from a certain
aristocratic lady in Berlin. It is, therefore, most important that the
king should be warned by you of his intended murder--otherwise you might
be thought an accomplice.”

Weingarten appeared not to be in the least disconcerted by this
statement--he seemed not even to have heard it.

“Before I warn the king,” he said, with calm composure, “I must be
convinced of the truth of the story myself, and I acknowledge to you
that I am not convinced, cannot understand your motives for seeking the
destruction of Baron von Trenck.”

“Ah! you search into our motives--you mistrust us,” cried Zetto,
hastily. “Well, we will prove to you that we trust you, by telling you
our secret. You know the story of the inheritance of Trenck?”

“He is the only heir of the pandour chieftain, Franz von Trenck.”

“Correct. And do you know the history of this pandour chieftain Trenck?”

“I have heard a confused and uncertain statement, but nothing definite
or reliable.”

“It is, however, a very interesting and instructive story, and shows how
far a man with a determined will and great energy can reach, when
his thoughts are directed to one end. Baron Trenck wished to be rich,
immensely rich--that was the aim of his life. Seduced by his love of
money, he became the captain of a band of robbers, then a murderer, a
church-robber; from that a brave soldier, and, at last, a holy penitent.
Robbing and plundering every-where, he succeeded in collecting millions.
The pandour chieftain Trenck soon became so rich, that he excited the
envy of the noblest and wealthiest men in the kingdom, so rich that he
was able to lend large sums of money to the powerful and influential
Baron Lowenwalde. You see, baron, it only needs a determined will to
become rich.”

“Oh! the foolish man,” said Weingarten, shrugging his shoulders.
“Lending money to a noble and powerful man, is making an irreconcilable
enemy.”

“You speak like a prophet. It happened, as you say. Lowenwalde became
Trenck’s enemy. He accused him of embezzling the imperial money, of
treachery and faithlessness--and Trenck was imprisoned.”

“His millions obtained his release, did they not?”

“No. His riches reduced him to greater misery. His lands were
sequestered, and a body of commissioners were selected to attend to
them. Baron Waltz and myself belonged to this commission.”

“Ah! I begin to understand,” murmured Weingarten.

Baron Zetto continued, with a smile. “The commissioners made the
discovery that report had greatly exaggerated the riches of Trenck.
He had not many treasures, but many debts. In order to liquidate those
debts, we desired his creditors to announce themselves every day, and
promised them a daily ducat until the end of the process.”

“I hope you two gentlemen were among his creditors,” said Weingarten.

“Certainly, we were, and also Baron Marken.”

“Therefore you have a threefold advantage from Trenck’s imprisonment.
First, your salary as a member of the commission; secondly, as a
creditor--”

“And thirdly--you spoke of a threefold advantage?”

“And thirdly,” said Weingarten, laughing, “in searching for the missing
treasures of Baron Trenck which had disappeared so unfortunately.”

“Ah, sir, you speak like those who suspected us at court, and wished
to make the empress believe that we had enriched ourselves as
commissioners. Soon after this Trenck died, and Frederick von Trenck
hastened from St. Petersburg to receive his inheritance. How great
was his astonishment to find instead of the hoped-for millions a
few mortgaged lands, an income of a hundred thousand guilders, and
sixty-three creditors who claimed the property.”

“He should have become one of the commissioners,” remarked Weingarten,
mockingly. “Perhaps it would have then been easier for him to obtain his
possessions.”

“He attempted it in another way, with the aid of money, bribery, and
persuasion. He has already succeeded in obtaining fifty-four of his
sixty-three processes, and will win the others in a few days.”

“And then he will doubtless cause the commissioners to give in their
accounts, and close their books.”

“Exactly. He has already commenced to do so. He ordered an investigation
to be made against the quartermaster, and the commander of the regiment
to which Franz von Trenck belonged. This man had accused Trenck of
having embezzled eight thousand of the imperial money, and Trenck
succeeded so far, that it was declared that it was not he, but his
accusers, who had committed the crime. The consequence was, that the
quartermaster was deposed, and it would have fared as badly with the
commander, had he not found powerful protection.”

“And now the dangerous Frederick von Trenck will seize the property of
the commissioners.”

“He would do so if we did not know how to prevent him. We must employ
every means to remove him, and, believe me, we are not the only men who
wish for his disappearance. A large and powerful party have the same
desire, and will joyfully pay ten thousand guilders to be freed from his
investigations.”

Weingarten’s eyes sparkled for a moment, and his heart beat quickly,
but he suppressed these joyful emotions, and retained his calm and
indifferent expression.

“Gentlemen,” he said, quietly, “as you are speaking of a real criminal,
one who intends committing so great a crime, I am at your service, and
no money or promises are necessary to buy my assistance.”

“Is he really a man of honor, and have we received false information?”
 thought Zetto, who was misled for a moment by the quiet and virtuous
looks of the secretary of legation.

“In the mean while you will not prevent those for whom you are about
to do a great service from showing their gratitude,” said Baron Waltz.
“Every one has a right to give or to receive a present.”

“Gentlemen,” said Baron Weingarten, smilingly, “No one has spoken of
a present, but of a payment, a bribery, and you can readily understand
that this is insulting to a man of honor.”

“Ah, he leaves open a door of escape,” thought Zetto. “He is won, he can
be bought.--You are right, baron,” he said aloud, “and we are wrong to
offer you now that which hereafter will be a debt of gratitude. We will
speak no more of this, but of the danger that threatens the king. You
alone can save him by warning him of his danger.”

“You really believe, then, that Trenck has the intention of murdering
the king?” said Weingarten.

“We will believe it,” said Zetto, with an ambiguous smile.

“We must believe it!” cried Baron Waltz, emphatically. “We must either
believe in his murderous intentions, or be ourselves regarded as
traitors and robbers. You will think it natural that we prefer the first
alternative, and as he resolved to ruin us, we will anticipate him, and
set the trap into which he must fall.”

“Why could you not lay your snares in Austria, gentlemen? Why could you
not accuse him of intending to murder the empress?”

Zetto shrugged his shoulders. “That would not be credible, because
Trenck has no motive for murdering Maria Theresa, while he might very
well thirst to revenge himself upon Frederick. You know that the king
and Trenck are personal enemies. Trenck has boasted of this enmity
often and loud enough to be understood by the whole world, and I do not
believe that this animosity has diminished. Enemies naturally desire to
destroy each other. Trenck would succeed if we did not warn the king,
and enable him to anticipate his enemy.”

“How can this be done? Will the king really go to Konigsberg to be
present at the Austrian festivities?”

“It has been spoken of.”

“Well, Trenck now proposes to go to Dantzic, and he has boasted that
he will enter Konigsberg at the same time with the King of Prussia, who
will not dare to arrest him.”

“We have made a bet with him of a hundred louis d’or on this boast,”
 said Baron Waltz, “and for greater security we have put it in writing.”

“Have you it with you?”

“Here it is.”

The baron handed Weingarten a paper, which he seized hastily, unfolded,
and read several times.

“This is indeed written in very ambiguous language, and calculated
to ruin Trenck should it reach the hands of the king,” said Baron
Weingarten with a cruel smile.

Zetto returned this smile. “I wrote the document, and you will naturally
understand that I measured the words very closely.”

“Who copied the letter?” asked Weingarten. “Doubtlessly Baron Trenck was
not magnanimous enough to do that.”

“Baron Waltz is a great adept in imitating handwriting, and he happily
possessed original letters of Trenck’s,” said Zetto, smilingly.

“You will find it most natural that I should try to win my bet,” said
Baron Waltz. “If Trenck is arrested before he goes to Konigsberg, I
have won my bet, and will receive the hundred louis d’ors from the
commissioners.”

All three laughed.

“These commissioners will soon have to pay you ten thousand guilders,”
 whispered Zetto. “Here is a bond. On the day that Trenck is a prisoner
of the king of Prussia, this bond is due, and you will then find that
the commissioners are not backward in paying.” Zetto laid the document
upon the table. “You will now have the kindness to receive our
testimony, and, if you desire it, we will add our accusations, or you
can mention that this can be done.”

Weingarten did not answer; a repentant fear tormented his heart, and for
a moment it appeared as if his good and evil genius were struggling for
his soul.

“This involves probably the life of a man,” he said, softly; “it is a
terrible accusation that I must pronounce: if not condemned to
death, the king will imprison him for many long years, and I shall be
responsible for this injustice.”

Councillor Zetto’s attentive ear heard every word; he stood near him
like the evil one, and his piercing eyes rested upon the agitated
countenance of Weingarten and read his thoughts.

“Have you not lived the life of a prisoner for many years?” asked Zetto,
in a low, unnatural voice; “have you not always been a slave of poverty?
Will you now, from weak pity, lose the opportunity of freeing yourself
from this bondage? Ten thousand guilders is no fortune, but it may be
the beginning of one--it may be the thread of Ariadne to lead you from
the labyrinth of poverty to freedom and light; and who will thank you if
you do not seize this thread--who recompense you for your generosity and
magnanimity? If you tell it to the wise and cunning, they will laugh at
you, and if the foolish hear it, they will not understand you. Every one
is the moulder of his own happiness, and woe unto him who neglects to
forge the iron while it is hot!”

Baron Weingarten felt each of these words. He did not know if they were
uttered by human lips, or if they came from the depths of his own base
soul.

“It is true, it is true!” he cried, in a frightened voice, “He is a fool
who does not seize the hand of Fortune when tendered by the laughing
goddess--a fool who does not break his fetters when he has the power
to rend them. Come, gentlemen! We take the testimony, and when that is
done, I will conduct you to our ambassador, Baron Puebla.”

“Not so--when that is done, we shall depart with post-haste; you alone
shall receive thanks and recompense. Now to work!”



CHAPTER VII. THE KING AND WEINGARTEN.


The king paced his room hastily; he was very pale, his lip trembled, and
his eyes sparkled angrily.

He suddenly remained standing before the Austrian secretary of legation,
and gazed long and earnestly into his face, but his glance, before which
so many had trembled, was sustained by the secretary with so quiet and
innocent a countenance that it deceived even the king.

“I see that you are convinced of the truth of what you tell me.”
 the king said at last. “You really believe that this madman has the
intention of murdering me?”

“I am convinced of it, sire,” replied Weingarten, humbly, “for I have
the proof of his intention in my hand.”

“The proof--what proof?”

“This paper which I allowed myself to hand to your majesty, and which
you laid upon the table without reading.”

“Ah, it is true! I forgot that in my excitement,” said the king, mildly.
“I beg you to read me the contents of this paper.”

Baron Weingarten received the paper from the king with a respectful bow;
his voice did not tremble in the least as he read the important words
which refined malice and cruel avarice had written there--words which,
if literally interpreted, would fully condemn Trenck.

The words were:

“‘In consequence of a bet, I pledge myself to be in Konigsberg the
same day in which the King Frederick of Prussia, my cruel enemy and
persecutor, shall arrive there. I shall go there to do, in the king’s
presence, that which no one has done before me, and which no one will
do after me. If I do not succeed in accomplishing my purpose, or if I
should be arrested, I have lost my bet, and shall owe Baron Waltz one
hundred louis d’or, which must be paid him by the commissioners of the
Trenck estate.’”

“‘BARON FREDERICK VON TRENCK.’”

“And Trenck wrote this note himself?” said the king.

“If your majesty is acquainted with Trenck’s handwriting, you will
perhaps have the goodness to examine it yourself.”

“I know his handwriting; give me the paper.”

He took the paper and glanced over it searchingly. “It is his
handwriting,” he murmured; “but I will examine it again.”

Speaking thus, he stepped hastily to his escritoire, and took from a
small box several closely written yellow papers, and compared them with
the document which Weingarten had given him.

Ah, how little did Trenck dream, as he wrote those letters, that they
would witness against him, and stamp him as a criminal! They were
already a crime in the king’s eyes, for they were tender letters that
Trenck had dared to write from Vienna to the Princess Amelia. They had
never reached her!

And not those tender epistles of a tearful and unhappy love must bear
witness against the writer, and condemn him for the second time!

“It is his handwriting,” said the king, as he laid the letters again
in the box. “I thank you, Baron Weingarten, you have saved me from a
disagreeable occurrence, for, if I will not even believe that Trenck
intended murder, he was at all events willing to create a scene, if only
to gratify his vanity. It appears that he has now played out his role
at Vienna, as well as in St. Petersburg and Berlin, and the world would
forget him if he did not attract its attention by some mad piece of
folly. How he intended to accomplish this I do not know, but certainly
not by a murder--no, I cannot believe that!”

“Your majesty is always noble and magnanimous, but it appears to me that
these words can have but one meaning. ‘I shall go to Konigsberg,’ writes
Baron Trenck, ‘and there do in the presence of the king what no one has
done before me, and what no one will do after me.’ Does not this make
his intention pretty clear?”

“Only for those who know his intentions or suspect them, for others they
could have any other signification, some romantic threat, nothing more.
Baron Trenck is a known adventurer, a species of Don Quixote, always
fighting against windmills, and believing that warriors and kings honor
him so far as to be his enemies. I punished Trenck when he was in my
service, for insubordination; now he is no longer in my service, and
I have forgotten him, but woe be unto him if he forces me to remember
him!”

“Your majesty will soon see if he is falsely accused. These reliable and
irreproachable men came especially to warn your majesty, through me. You
will discover if they have calumniated Trenck, by giving this testimony.
If he does not go to Dantzic, does not enter Prussia, they have sworn
falsely, and Trenck is innocent.”

“He will not dare to cross the borders of my state, for he knows he will
be court-martialled as a deserter. But I am convinced that he is a bold
adventurer, he has boasted that he will defy me, that is certainly what
no one has done before him, and what no one will do after him, but it
will rest there, you may believe me.”

Baron Weingarten bowed silently. The king continued, with an engaging
smile.

“However, monsieur, I owe you many thanks, and it would please me to
have an opportunity of rewarding you.”

Until this moment, Weingarten had been standing with bowed head, he now
stood erect, and his eye dared to meet that of the king.

“Sire,” he said, with the noble expression of offended innocence, “I
demand and wish no other reward than that you may profit by my warning.
If the fearful danger that threatens your majesty is averted through me,
that will be my all-sufficient recompense. I must decline any other.”

The king smiled approvingly. “You speak emphatically, and it appears
that you really believe in this danger. Well, I thank you only as that
is your desire. I will respect your warning and guard myself from the
danger that you believe threatens me, but to do that, and at the same
time to convince ourselves of Trenck’s evil intentions, we must observe
the most perfect silence in this whole affair, and you must promise me
to speak of it to no one.”

“Sire, secrecy appeared to me so necessary, that I did not even
communicate it to Baron Puebla, but came to your majesty on my own
responsibility.”

“You did well, for now Trenck will fall unwarned into the trap we set
for him. Be silent, therefore, upon the subject. If you should ever
have a favor to ask, come to me with this tabatiere in your hand. I will
remember this hour, and if it is in my power will grant you what you
wish.”

He handed Weingarten his gold, diamond-studded tabatiere, and received
his thanks with approving smiles. After he had dismissed the secretary
of legation, and was alone, the smile faded from his face, and his
countenance was sad and disturbed.

“It has come to this,” he said, as he paced his room, with his hands
folded behind his back. “This man, whom I once loved so warmly, wishes
to murder me. Ah! ye proud princes, who imagine yourselves gods on
earth, you are not even safe from a murderer’s dagger, and you are as
vulnerable as the commonest beggar. Why does he wish my death? Were I a
fantastic, romantic hero, I might say he hoped to claim his sweetheart
over my dead body! But Amelia is no longer a person for whom a man would
risk his life; she is but a faint and sad resemblance of the past--her
rare beauty is tear-stained and turned to ashes, but her heart still
lives; it is young and warm, and belongs to Trenck! And shall I
dissipate this last illusion? Must she now learn that he to whom she
sacrificed so much is but a common murderer? No, I will spare her this
sorrow! I will not give Trenck the opportunity to fulfil his work; even
his intention shall remain doubtful. I shall not go to Konigsberg; and
if, in his presumptuous thirst for notoriety or for vengeance, he
should enter Prussia, he shall be cared for--he shall not escape his
punishment. Let him but try to cross my borders--he will find a snare
spread, a cage from which he cannot escape. Yes, so it shall be. But
neither the world nor Trenck shall suspect why this is done. If my
brothers and envious persons hold him up in future as an example of my
hardness of heart, what do I care for their approval, or the praise
of short-sighted men! I do my duty, and am answerable only to God and
myself. Trenck intends to murder me--I must preserve myself for my
people. My mission is not yet accomplished; and if a poisonous insect
crosses my path, I must crush it.”



CHAPTER VIII. THE UNWILLING BRIDEGROOM.


Prince Henry had again passed eight days in arrest--eight tedious days,
days of powerless anger and painful humiliation. This arrest had been,
by the king’s express orders, so strict, that no one was allowed to
see the prince but Pollnitz, who belonged, as the king said, to the
inventory of the house of Hohenzollern, and, therefore, all doors were
open to him.

Pollnitz alone had, therefore, the pleasure of hearing the complaints,
and reproaches, and bitter accusations of the prince against his
brother. Pollnitz always had an attentive ear for these complaints; and
after listening to the prince with every appearance of real feeling and
warm sympathy, he would hasten to the king, and with drooping eyelids
and rejoicing heart repeat the bitter and hateful words of the
unsuspicious prince--words that were well calculated to increase the
king’s displeasure. The prince still declared that he would not marry,
and the king insisted that he must submit to his will and commands.

Thus the eight days had passed, and Pollnitz came to-day with the joyful
news that his arrest was at an end, and he was now free.

“That means,” said the prince, bitterly, “that I am free to wander
through the stupid streets of Potsdam; appear at his table; that my
clothes may be soiled by his unbearable four-legged friends, and my ears
deafened by the dull, pedantic conversation of his no less unbearable
two-legged friends.”

“Your highness can save yourself from all these small annoyances,” said
Pollnitz; “you have only to marry.”

“Marry, bah! That means to give my poor sister-in-law, Elizabeth
Christine, a companion, that they may sing their sorrows to each other.
No, I have not the bravery of my kingly brother, to make a feeling,
human being unhappy in order to satisfy state politics. No, I possess
not the egotism to purchase my freedom with the life-long misery of
another.”

“But, mon Dieu! my prince,” said Pollnitz, in his cynical way, “you look
at it in too virtuous a manner. All women are not as good and pure as
poor Elizabeth Christine, and know how to compensate themselves in other
quarters for the indifference of their husbands. We are not speaking
here of a common marriage, but of the betrothal of a prince. You do not
marry your heart, but your hand. Truly such a marriage-ceremony is
a protecting talisman, that may be held up to other women as an iron
shield upon which, all their egotistical wishes, all their extravagant
demands must rebound. Moreover, a married man is entirely sans
consequence for all unmarried women, and if they should love such a one,
the happy mortal may be convinced that his love is really a caprice of
the heart, and not a selfish calculation or desire to marry.”

The prince regarded the smiling courtier earnestly, almost angrily. “Do
you know,” he said, “that what you say appears to me very immoral?”

“Immoral?” asked Pollnitz, astonished; “what is that? Your princely
highness knows that I received my education at the French court,
under the protection of the Regent of Orleans and the Princess of the
Palatinate, and there I never heard this word immoral. Perhaps your
highness will have the kindness to explain it to me.”

“That would be preaching to deaf ears,” said the prince, shrugging his
shoulders. “We will not quarrel about the meaning of a word. I only
wish to make you understand that I would not marry at my brother’s bon
plaisir. I will not continue this race of miserable princes, that are
entirely useless, and consequently a burden to the state. Oh! if Heaven
would only give me the opportunity to distinguish myself before this
people, and give to this name that is go small, so unworthy, a splendor,
a color, a signification!”

“Your highness is ambitous,” said Pollnitz, as the prince, now silent,
paced his room with deep emotion.

“Yes, I am ambitious--I thirst for action, renown, and activity. I
despise this monotonous, colorless existence, without end or aim. By
God! how happy I should be, if, instead of a prince, I could be a simple
private man, proprietor of a small landed estate, with a few hundred
subjects, that I should endeavor to make happy! But I am nothing but
a king’s brother, have nothing but my empty title and the star upon my
coat. My income is so small, so pitiful, that it would scarcely suffice
to pay the few servants I have, if, at the same time, they were not paid
by the king as his spies.”

“But all this will cease as soon as you speak the decisive word; as soon
as you declare yourself prepared to marry.”

“And you dare to tell me this?” cried the prince, with flashing
eyes--“you, that know I love a lady who is unfortunately no princess; or
do you believe that a miserable prince has not the heart of a man--that
he does not possess the ardent desire, the painful longing for the woman
he loves?”

“Oh, women do not deserve that we should love them so ardently; they are
all fickle and inconstant, believe me, my prince.”

The prince cast a quick, questioning glance at the smiling countenance
of the courtier.

“Why do you say this to me?” he asked, anxiously.

“Because I am convinced of its truth, your highness; because I believe
no woman has the power to preserve her love when obstacles are placed in
the way, or that she can be faithful for the short space of eight days,
if her lover is absent.”

The prince was startled, and looked terrified at Pollnitz.

“Eight days,” he murmured; “it is eight days--no, it is twelve since I
saw Louise.”

“Ah, twelve days--and your highness has the really heroic belief that
she still loves you?”

The prince sighed, and his brow clouded, but only for a few moments, and
his countenance was again bright and his eyes sparkled.

“Yes, I have this belief; and why should I not have it, as my own heart
had stood the trial? I have not seen her for twelve days, have not heard
of her, and still my love is as great and as ardent as ever. Yes, I
believe that at the thought of her my heart beats more quickly, more
longingly than if I had her in my arms.”

“The reason of this,” said Pollnitz, almost sympathetically, “is that it
is your first love.”

Prince Henry looked at him angrily.

“You are wrong and most unjust to this beautiful woman, who remained
good and pure in the midst of the corrupting and terrible circumstances
in which destiny placed her. She preserved a chaste heart, an unspotted
soul. Her misfortunes only refined her, and therefore I love her,
and believe that God has placed me in her way that, after all her
sufferings, I might make her happy. Oh, precisely because of her
sorrows, the shameful slanders with which she is pursued, and all for
which she is reproached, I love her.”

“Well, my prince,” sighed Pollnitz, with a tragical expression, “I never
saw a bolder hero and a more pious Christian than your highness.”

“What do you mean by that, Pollnitz?”

“That an enormous amount of bravery is necessary, prince, to believe
Madame von Kleist chaste and innocent, and that only a pious Christian
can count himself so entirely among those of whom Christ says, ‘Blessed
are they that have not seen and yet have believed.’ May a good fairy
long preserve you your bravery and your Christianity! But surely your
highness must have important and convincing proofs to believe in the
innocence and faithfulness of this woman. I confess that any other man
would have been discouraged in his godlike belief by facts. It is a fact
that for twelve days Madame von Kleist has sent you no message through
me; it is a fact that she was not at the masked ball; that as often as
I have been to her in these last days, to deliver letters for your
highness, and to obtain hers in return, she has never received me,
always excused herself; and, therefore, I could not receive her letters,
nor deliver those of your highness.”

“And were you not in Berlin early this morning! Did you not go to her as
I ordered you, and tell her she might expect me this evening?”

“I went to her house, but in vain; she was with the queen-mother, and
I was told that she would not return until late in the evening, I
therefore could not deliver the message, your highness.”

The prince stamped his foot impatiently, and walked hastily to and fro;
his brow was clouded, his lips trembled with inward emotion. The sharp
eye of the baron followed with an attentive, pitiless glance every
movement of his face, noted every sigh that came from his anxious heart,
that he might judge whether the seeds of mistrust that he had sown in
the breast of the prince would grow. But Prince Henry was still young,
brave, and hopeful; it was his first love they wished to poison, but
his young, healthy nature withstood the venom, and vanquished its evil
effects. His countenance resumed its quiet, earnest expression, and the
cloud disappeared from his brow.

“Do you know,” he said, standing before Pollnitz, and looking smilingly
into his cunning face--“do you know that you do not descend, as the rest
of mankind, from Adam and Eve, but in a direct line from the celebrated
serpent? And truly you do honor to your ancestor! No paradise is holy
to you, and to do evil gives you pleasure. But you shall not disturb my
paradise; and as much of the old Adam as is still in me, I will not be
foolish enough to eat of the bitter fruit that you offer me. No, you
shall not succeed in making me jealous and distrustful; you shall not
destroy my faith: and see you, those that believe are still in paradise,
notwithstanding your ancestor, the serpent.”

“My prince,” said Pollnitz, shrugging his shoulders, “your highness
looks upon me as a kind of Messiah--at least it pleases you to give me
a mother and no father. But oh, my prince! if you are right about my
descent, philosophers are certainly wrong, for they maintain that the
serpent of paradise left gold as a fearful inheritance to mankind. I
shall accuse my great-grandmother the serpent of disinheriting me and
condemning me to live upon the generosity of my friends and patrons.”

He looked at the prince, with a sly, covetous glance, but he had not
understood him; engaged in deep thought, he had stepped to the window,
and was gazing up at the heavens, where the clouds were chasing each
other.

“She will be the entire day with my mother, and I shall not see her,”
 he murmured. Then, turning hastily to Pollnitz, he asked, “How is the
queen-mother? Did I not hear that she was suffering?”

“Certainly, your highness, a severe attack of gout confines her to her
chair, and holds her prisoner.”

“Poor mother! it is long since I saw you.”

“It is true, the queen complained of it the last time I spoke with her,”
 said Pollnitz, with a perfectly serious face, but with inward rejoicing.

Another pause ensued. The prince appeared to reflect, and to struggle
with his own thoughts and wishes. Pollnitz stood behind him, and noted
every motion, every sigh that he uttered, with his malicious smiles.

“I believe,” said the prince, with still averted face, perhaps to
prevent Pollnitz from seeing his blushes--“I believe it would be proper
for me to inquire to-day personally after my mother’s health; it is not
only my duty to do so, but the desire of my heart.”

“Her majesty will be pleased to see her beloved son again, and this
pleasure will hasten her recovery.”

The prince turned hastily and glanced sharply at Pollnitz, as if he
wished to read his inmost thoughts. But the countenance of the courtier
was earnest and respectful.

“If that is your opinion,” said the prince, with a happy smile, “my
duty as a son demands that I should hasten to the queen, and I will go
immediately to Berlin. But as I am going to my mother, and solely on her
account, I will do it in the proper form. Have, therefore, the
kindness to obtain my leave of the king--bring me my brother’s answer
immediately, I only await it to depart.”

“And I hasten to bring it to your highness,” said Pollnitz, withdrawing.

Prince Henry looked thoughtfully after him.

“I shall see her,” he murmured; “I shall speak with her, and shall learn
why she withdrew herself so long from me. Oh, I know she will be able
to justify herself, and these slanders and evil reports will flee before
her glance as clouds before the rays of the sun.”

In the mean while, Pollnitz hastened to Sans Souci, where he was
immediately received by the king.

“Your majesty,” he said, joyfully, “the young lion has fallen into the
net that we set for him.”

“He goes then to Berlin, to the queen-mother?” asked the king, quickly.

“He begs your majesty’s permission to take this little trip.”

“He really charged you with this commission?”

“Yes, sire: it appears that his obstinacy is beginning to relent, and
that he thinks of submitting.”

The king was silent, and walked thoughtfully to and fro, with clouded
brow, then remained standing before Pollnitz, and looked sharply and
piercingly at him.

“You rejoice,” he said, coldly, “but you only think of your own
advantage. You are indifferent to the sorrow we are preparing for my
brother. You only think that your debts will be paid. Yes, I will pay
them, but I shall never forget that you have betrayed my brother’s
confidence.”

“I only acted according to your majesty’s commands,” said Pollnitz,
confounded. “Certainly, but if you had resisted my commands, I would
have esteemed and prized you the more. Now, I shall pay your debts, but
I shall despise you. No one has reasons for thanking you.”

“Sire, I desire no other thanks. Had I been paid with money for my
services, instead of fine speeches, I would have been as rich as
Croesus.”

“And a beggar in virtue,” said the king, smiling. “But go, I was wrong
to reproach you. I shall now go to Berlin, and when my brother arrives
he shall find me there. Go now, my grand chamberlain, and take the
prince my permission for a three days’ absence.”



CHAPTER IX. THE FIRST DISAPPOINTMENT.


A few hours later the equipage of Prince Henry arrived in the court-yard
of Monbijou, and the prince demanded of his mother, the widowed queen,
permission to pay her his respects.

Sophia Dorothea was suffering greatly. The gout, that slow but fatal
disease, which does not kill at once, but limb by limb, had already
paralyzed the feet of the poor queen, and confined her to her chair.
To-day her sufferings were greater than usual, and she was not able to
leave her bed. Therefore, she could not receive the prince as a queen,
but only as a mother, without ceremony or etiquette. That the meeting
might be entirely without constraint, the maids of honor left the
queen’s room, and as the prince entered, he saw the ladies disappearing
by another door; the last one had just made her farewell bow, and was
kissing respectfully the queen’s hand.

This was Louise von Kleist, for whose sake the prince had come, and for
whom his heart throbbed painfully. He could have cried aloud for joy
as he saw her in her bewildering loveliness, her luxuriant beauty. He
longed to seize her hands and cover them with kisses--to tell her how
much he had suffered, how much he was still suffering for her sake.

But Louise appeared not to have seen him, not to have noticed his
entrance. She had only eyes and ears for the queen, who was just
dismissing her with winning words, telling her to remain in the castle
and return when she desired to see her.

“I shall remain and await your majesty’s commands,” said Louise,
withdrawing hastily.

The queen now greeted the prince as if she had just observed him, and
invited him to be seated on the fauteuil near her couch. The prince
obeyed, but he was absent-minded and restless, and the more the queen
endeavored to engage him in harmless and unconstrained conversation, the
more monosyllabic and preoccupied he became. The poor prince remembered
only that his beloved was so near, that only a door separated them, and
prevented him from gazing on her beauty.

Yes, Louise was really in the next room, in the cabinet of the queen,
sorrowful and exhausted; she had fallen upon the little sofa near the
door, the smile had left her lips, and her brilliant, bewitching eyes
were filled with tears. Louise wept; she wept for her last youthful
dream, her last hope of happiness and virtue, for her sad, shadowed
future and wounded pride; for to-day she had to resign forever the
proud hopes, the brilliant future for which she had striven with so much
energy.

But it was vain to struggle against this hard necessity. The king had
given her his orders and was there to see them carried out. He sat
behind that portiere that led into the grand saloon; he had just left
Louise, and, before going, had said to her, in a stern, commanding tone:

“You will fulfil my commands accurately. You know that Fritz Wendel
still lives, and that I shall be inexorable if you do not act as you
have promised.”

Louise submitted respectfully to the king’s commands; she accepted her
fate, but she wept bitterly, and when she felt that the king’s eyes
were no longer upon her, her tears flowed unceasingly. Perhaps Frederick
still saw her, or suspected her weakness, for the portiere opened
slightly, and his noble, but stern countenance appeared.

“Madame,” he said, “if the prince sees you with tearful eyes, he will
not believe in your happiness.”

Louise smiled painfully. “Ah! sire, he will believe I am weeping for
joy. I have often heard of joyful tears.”

The king did not reply; he felt for her agony, and closed the partiere.

“I will cry no more,” she said; “I have accepted my destiny, and will
fulfil it bravely for the sake of my daughter. It concerns Camilla’s
happiness more than my own. I will deserve the respect of my unfortunate
child.”

In saying this, a smile like a sunbeam illuminated her countenance.
But now she started up, and laid her hand in terror upon her heart.
She heard steps approaching. The door moved, and in a moment the king
appeared and motioned to her.

“Courage, courage!” murmured Louise, and with instinctive fear she flew
away from the door and placed herself in the niche of the last window.

To reach her, the prince must cross the saloon; that would give her a
few moments to recover. The door opened and Prince Henry entered; his
glance flew quickly over the saloon, and found the one he sought.

Louise could have shrieked with agony when she saw the tender smile with
which he greeted her. Never had he appeared so handsome, so noble as at
this moment, when she must resign him forever.

But there was no time to think of this, no time for complaints or
regrets. He was there, he stood before her, offered both his hands, and
greeted her with the tenderest words of love.

Louise had a stern part to play, and she dared not listen to her heart’s
pleadings.

“Ah, my prince,” she said, with a laugh that sounded to herself like
the wail of a lost soul--“ah, my prince, take care! we women are very
credulous, and I might take your jesting words for truth.”

“I advise you to do so,” said the prince, happy and unconcerned. “Yes,
Louise, I advise you to do so, for you know well that my jesting words
have an earnest meaning. And now that we are alone, we will dispense
with ceremony. You must justify yourself before a lover--a lover who is
unfortunately very jealous. Yes, yes, Louise, that is my weakness; I do
not deny it, I am jealous--jealous of all those who keep you from me,
who prevent my receiving your letters.”

“My letters!” said Louise, astonished; “why should I have written
letters to your highness? I do not believe it is the custom for ladies
to write to gentlemen voluntarily. It has been two weeks since I
received a letter from your highness.”

“Because it was impossible for my messenger to deliver them, Louise: you
were so unapproachable, at least for me. But you must have known that my
thoughts were always with you, that my heart pined for news and comfort
from you.”

“Non, vraiment, I did not know it,” said Louise, laughingly.

“You did not know it?” asked Henry, wonderingly. “Well, what did you
suppose?”

“I thought,” she said, carelessly--“I thought that Prince Henry had
overcome or forgotten his little folly of the carnival.”

“And then?”

“Then I determined to follow his example. Then I preached a long sermon
to my foolish eyes--they were misty with tears. Listen, I said to them:
‘You foolish things you have no reason to weep; you should always look
bright and dazzling, even if you never see Prince Henry again. Really,
the absence of the prince has been most fortunate for you. You might
have whispered all kinds of foolish things to my weak heart. The prince
is young, handsome, and amiable, and it amuses him to win the love of
fair ladies. Had you seen him more frequently, it is possible he might
have succeeded with poor Louise, and the little flirtation we carried on
together would have resulted in earnest love on my part. That would have
been a great misfortune. Laugh and look joyous, beautiful eyes, you have
saved me from an unrequited love. You should not weep, but rejoice. Look
around and find another suitor, who would, perhaps, love me so fondly
that he could not forget me in a few days; whose love I might return
with ardor.’ This, my prince, is the sermon I preached to my eyes when
they grew dim with tears.”

“And was your sermon effective?” said the prince, with pale, trembling
lips. “Did your eyes, those obedient slaves, look around and find
another lover?”

“Ah! your highness, how can you doubt it? My eyes are indeed my slaves,
and must obey. Yes, they looked and found the happiness they sought.”

“What happiness,” asked Henry, apparently quite tranquil, but he pressed
his hand nervously on the chair that stood by him--“what happiness did
your eyes find?”

Louise looked at him and sighed deeply. “The happiness,” she said, and
against her will her voice trembled and faltered--“the happiness that a
true, earnest love alone can give--which I have received joyously into
my heart as a gift from God.”

The prince laughed aloud, but his face had a wild, despairing
expression, and his hands clasped the chair more firmly.

“I do not understand your holy, pious words. What do they mean? What do
you wish to say?”

“They mean that I now love so truly and so earnestly that I have
promised to become the wife of the man I love,” said Louise, with forced
gayety.

The prince uttered a wild cry, and raised his hands as if to curse the
one who had wounded him so painfully.

“If this is true,” he said, in a deep, hollow voice--“if this is true,
I despise, I hate you, and they are right who call you a heartless
coquette.”

“Ah, my prince, you insult me,” cried Louise.

“I insult you!” he said, with a wild laugh; “verily, I believe this
woman has the effrontery to reproach me--I who believed in and defended
her against every accusation--I that had the courage to love and trust,
when all others distrusted and despised her. Yes, madame, I loved you: I
saw in you a goddess, where others saw only a coquette. I adored you as
an innocent sacrifice to envy and malice; I saw a martyr’s crown upon
your brow, and wished to change it for the myrtle-crown of marriage.
And my love and hopes are dust and ashes; it is enough to drive me
mad--enough to stifle me with rage and shame.” Carried away by passion,
the prince ran wildly through the saloon, gasping for air, struggling
for composure, and now and then uttering words of imprecation and
despair.

Louise waited, in silence and resignation, the end of this stormy
crisis. She questioned her heart if this bitter hour was not sufficient
atonement for all her faults and follies; if the agony she now suffered
did not wipe out and extirpate the past.

The prince still paced the room violently. Suddenly, as if a new thought
had seized him, he remained standing in the middle of the saloon, and
looked at Louise with a strangely altered countenance. She had forgotten
for a moment the part she was condemned to play, and leaned, pale and
sad, against the window.

Perhaps he heard her sorrowful sighs--perhaps he saw her tears as they
rolled one by one from her eyes, and fell like pearls upon her small
white hands.

Anger disappeared from his face, his brow cleared, and as he approached
Louise his eyes sparkled with another and milder fire.

“Louise,” he said, softly, and his voice, which had before raged like
a stormy wind, was now mild and tender--“Louise, I have divined your
purpose--I know all now. At first, I did not understand your words; in
my folly and jealousy I misconceived your meaning; you only wished to
try me, to see if my love was armed and strong, if it was as bold and
faithful as I have sworn it to be. Well, I stood the test badly,
was weak and faint-hearted; but forgive me--forgive me, Louise, and
strengthen my heart by confidence and faith in me.”

He tried to take her hand, but she withdrew it.

“Must I repeat to your highness what I have said before? I do not
understand you. What do you mean?”

“Ah,” said the prince, “you are again my naughty, sportive Louise. Well,
then, I will explain. Did you not say that you now love so truly, that
you have promised to become the wife of the man you love?”

“Yes, I said that, your highness.”

“And I,” said the prince, seizing both her hands and gazing at her
ardently--“I was so short-sighted, so ungrateful, as not to understand
you. The many sorrows and vexations I suffer away from you have dimmed
my eyes and prevented me from seeing what is written with golden letters
upon your smiling lips and beaming eyes. Ah, Louise, I thank you for
your precious words, at last you are captured, at last you have resolved
to become the wife of him who adores you. I thank you, Louise, I thank
you, and I swear that no earthly pomp or power could make me as proud
and happy as this assurance of your love.”

Louise gazed into his beautiful, smiling face with terror.

“Ah, my prince, my words have not the meaning you imagine. I spoke the
simple truth. My heart has made its choice--since yesterday, I am the
betrothed wife of Captain du Trouffle.”

“That is not true,” cried the prince, casting her hands violently from
him. “You are very cruel today; you torture me with your fearful jests.”

“No, your highness, I speak the truth. I am the betrothed of Captain du
Trouffle.”

“Since yesterday you are the betrothed of Captain du Trouffle!” repeated
the prince, staring at her wildly. “And you say you love him, Louise?”

“Yes, your highness, I love him,” said Louise, with a faint smile.

“It is impossible,” cried the prince; “it is not true.”

“And why should I deceive your highness?”

“Why?--ah, I understand all. Oh, Louise, my poor darling, how
short-sighted I have been! Why did I not immediately suspect my
brother?--he has spies to watch all my movements; they have at last
discovered my love for you. Pollnitz, who would do any thing for gold,
has betrayed us to the king, who condemns me to marry according to my
rank, and, to carry out his purpose surely, he now forces you to marry.
Oh, Louise, say that this is so; acknowledge that the power of the king,
and not your own heart, forced you to this engagement. It is impossible,
it cannot be that you have forgotten the vows that we exchanged scarcely
two weeks ago. It cannot be that you look upon the heart that loved
you so deeply, so purely, as an idle plaything, to be thrown away so
lightly! No, no, Louise, I have seen often in your beaming eyes, your
eloquent smiles, I have felt in your soft and tender tones, that you
loved me fondly; and now in your pale, sad face I see that you love
me still, and that it is the king who wishes to separate us. My poor,
lovely child, you have been intimidated; you think that my brother, who
reigns supreme over millions, will yield to no obstacle, that it is vain
to resist him. But you are mistaken, Louise; you have forgotten that
I am Frederick’s brother, that the proud, unconquerable blood of the
Hohenzollerns flows also in my veins. Let my brother try to force me
to his purpose; I shall be no weak tool in his hands. You had not firm
confidence in your lover, Louise; you did not know that I would resign
cheerfully rank and all family ties for your sake; you did not know that
I had sworn to marry only the woman I love. This I must do to satisfy
my heart and my honor, and also to show the king that Prince Henry is
a free man. Now tell me, Louise, if I have not divined all. Is not
this the king’s cruel work? Ah, you do not answer, you are silent. I
understand--the king has made you swear not to betray him. Now look at
me, Louise; make me a sign with your hand, tell me with your eyes, and
I will comprehend you--I will take you in my arms and carry you to
the altar. My God! Louise do you not see that I am waiting for this
sign?--that you are torturing me?”

Louise raised her head, her heart was melting within her; she forgot her
terror, and was ready to resist God, the king, and the whole world, to
grasp the noble and unselfish love that the prince offered her. But her
glance fell involuntarily upon the curtain, behind which the king stood,
and it seemed to her as if she saw the angry, burning eyes of Frederick
threatening to destroy her. She remembered her daughter, Fritz Wendel,
and the world’s mocking laughter, and was overcome.

“You are still silent,” said the prince; “you give me neither sign nor
glance.”

Louise felt as if an iron hand was tearing her heart asunder.

“I really am at a loss what more to say or do,” she said, in a careless
tone, that made her own heart shudder. “It pleases your highness to make
a jest of what I say. I am innocent, my prince, of any double meaning.
Five weeks have passed since I saw you--I believed you had forgotten me;
I did not reproach you, neither was I in despair. I soon found that it
was stupid and dreary to have my heart unoccupied, and I sought for
and soon found a lover, to whom my heart became a willing captive.
Therefore, when Captain Trouffle pleaded earnestly for my hand, I had
not the courage to say no. This is my only crime, your highness. I was
not cruel to myself; I received the happiness that was offered. I have
been called a coquette, my prince; it is time to bind myself in marriage
bonds, and show the world that love can make an honest woman of me. Can
your highness blame me for this?”

The prince listened with breathless attention; gradually his countenance
changed, the color faded from his cheeks, the light from his eyes;
a smile was still on his lips, but it was cold and mocking; his eyes
burned with anger and contempt.

“No, madame,” he said, with calm, proud indifference, “I do not blame
you--I praise, I congratulate you. Captain du Trouffle is a most
fortunate man--he will possess a most beautiful wife. When will this
happy ceremony be performed?”

Madame von Kleist was unable to reply. She gazed with wild terror into
his cold, iron face--she listened with horror to that voice, whose mild,
soft tone had become suddenly so harsh, so stern.

The prince repeated his question, and his tone was harder and more
imperious.

“The day is not fixed,” said Louise; “we must first obtain the king’s
consent to our marriage.”

“I shall take care it does not fail you,” said the prince, quietly.

“I will strengthen your petition to the king. Now, madame, you must
forgive me for leaving you. Many greetings to your betrothed--I shall be
introduced to him to-morrow at the parade. Farewell, madame!”

The prince made a slight bow, and, without glancing at her again, left
the room slowly and proudly.

Louise gazed after him with mournful eyes, but he did not see it; he
did not see how she fell, as if broken, to the floor, as if struck by
lightning; and when the door closed on him she held her hands to Heaven
pleadingly for mercy and forgiveness.

The portiere now opened, and the king entered; his countenance was pale,
his eyes tearful, but they sparkled with anger when he saw Louise upon
the floor. For him she was but a heartless coquette, and he was angry
with her because of the suffering she had caused his brother, for whom
he felt the deepest pity and compassion.

But that was now past; the brother could weep a tear of pity, the king
must be firm and relentless.

As he approached her, she raised herself from the ground and made a
profound and ceremonious bow.

“You have repaired much of the evil you have done, madame,” said the
king, sternly. “You have played a dishonorable game with my brother. You
enticed him to love you.”

“I think I have atoned, sire,” said Louise, faintly; “the prince no
longer loves but despises me. Your commands are fulfilled to the letter,
and I now beg your majesty’s permission to withdraw.”

“Go, madame; you have done your duty to-day, and I will also do mine. I
shall not forget what I promised you when you are Madame du Trouffle. We
will forget all the faults of Madame von Kleist.”

He dismissed her with a slight bow, and gazed after her until she had
disappeared.

At this moment, a heavy fall was heard in the antechamber. The door
opened immediately, and the pale, disturbed face of Pollnitz appeared.

“What is the matter, Pollnitz?” asked the king, hastily.

“Oh, sire, poor Prince Henry has fainted.”

The king was startled, and stepped quickly to the door, but he remained
standing there until his features resumed their calm expression.

“He will recover,” he said--“he will recover, for he is a man; in my
youthful days I often fainted, but I recovered.”



CHAPTER X. THE CONQUERED.


Painful and bitter were the days for Henry that followed his first
disappointment. He passed them in rigid seclusion, in his lonely
chambers; he would see no one, no cheerful word or gay laughter was
allowed in his presence. The servants looked at him sorrowfully;
and when the prince appeared at the parade the day after his painful
interview with Louise, even the king found him so pale and suffering, he
begged him to take a week’s leave and strengthen and improve his health.

The prince smiled painfully at the king’s proposition, but he accepted
his leave of absence, and withdrew to the solitude of his rooms. His
heart was wounded unto death, his soul was agonized. Youth soon laid its
healing balm upon his wounds and closed them; anger and contempt dried
his tears, and soothed the anguish of his heart.

The king was right when he said of his brother, “He is a man, and will
recover.” He did recover, and these days of suffering made a man of him;
his brow, once so clear and youthful, had received its first mark of
sorrow; the lines of his face were harsh and stern, his features sharper
and more decided. He had experienced his first disappointment--it had
nerved and strengthened him.

Before his eight days’ leave of absence had expired, his door was again
open to his circle of friends and confidants.

His first invited guest was the grand chamberlain, Baron Pollnitz. The
prince welcomed him with a bright and cheerful face.

“Do you know why I wished to see you?” he asked. “You must tell me the
chronique scandaleuse of our most honorable and virtuous city. Commence
immediately. What is the on dit of the day?”

“Ah,” sighed Pollnitz, “life is now stupid, dull, and monotonous. As you
say, every one has become most honorable and virtuous. No scandals or
piquant adventures occur; baptisms, marriages, and burials are the only
events. This is really a miserable existence; for as I do not wish to be
baptized or to marry, and as I am not yet ready for burial, I really do
not know why I exist.”

“But those that are married and baptized, doubtless know why they
exist,” said the prince, smiling. “Tell me something of this happy
class. Whose, for example, is the latest marriage?”

“The latest marriage?” said Pollnitz, hesitating--“before answering,
I must allow myself to ask after the condition of your heart. Does it
still suffer?”

“No,” cried the prince, “it does not suffer; it received a heavy shower
of cold water, and was cured instantly.”

“I rejoice to hear it, your highness, and congratulate you on your
recovery, for truly there is no more painful disease than a suffering
heart.”

“I told you that I had recovered fully; tell me, therefore, your news
without hesitation. You spoke of a marriage. Who were the happy lovers?”

“Your highness, Madame von Kleist has married,” murmured Pollnitz.

The prince received this blow without betraying the slightest emotion.

“When did the marriage take place?” he asked, with perfect composure.

“Yesterday; and I assure your highness that I never saw a happier or
more brilliant bride. Love has transformed her into a blushing, timid
maiden.”

Prince Henry pressed his hand upon his heart with a quick, unconscious
movement.

“I can well imagine that she was beautiful,” said he, controlling his
voice with a great effort. “Madame von Kleist is happy, and happiness
always beautifies. And the bridegroom, M. du Trouffle, was he also
handsome and happy?”

“Your highness knows the name of the bride-groom,” said Pollnitz,
appearing astonished.

“Yes, Madame von Kleist told me herself when she announced her
approaching marriage. But I am not acquainted with Du Trouffle--is he
handsome?”

“Handsome and amiable, your highness, and besides, a very good officer.
The king gave him, as a wedding present, a major’s commission.”

“Then the beautiful Louise is now Mrs Major du Trouffle,” said the
prince, with a troubled smile. “Were you present at the wedding?”

“Yes, in the name of the king.”

“Did she speak the decisive Yes, the vow of faith and obedience, with
earnestness and confidence? Did she not blush, or droop her eyelids in
doing so?”

“Oh, no; she smiled as if entranced, and raised her eyes to heaven, as
if praying for God’s blessing upon her vows.”

“One thing more,” said the prince, fixing his large, gray eyes with a
searching expression upon Pollnitz--“what is said of me? Am I regarded
as a rejected lover, or as a faithless one; for doubtless all Berlin
knows of my love for this lady, you having been our confidant.”

“Oh, my prince, that is a hard insinuation,” said Pollnitz, sadly.

“Your highness cannot really believe that--”

“No protestations, I pray you,” interrupted the prince, “I believe I
know you thoroughly, but I am not angry with you nor do I reproach
you: you are a courtier, and one of the best and rarest type; you have
intellect and knowledge, much experience and savoir vivre; I could
desire no better company than yourself; but for one moment cast aside
your character as a courtier, and tell me the truth: what does the world
say of this marriage in regard to me?”

“Your highness desires me to tell you the truth?”

“Yes, I do.”

“Now the important moment has come,” thought Pollnitz. “Now, if I am
adroit, I believe I can obtain the payment of my debts.”

“Well, then, your highness,” said Pollnitz, in answer to the prince, “I
will tell you the truth, even should I incur your displeasure. I fear,
my prince, you are regarded as a rejected lover, and Madame du Trouffle
has succeeded in throwing a holy lustre around her beautiful brow. It is
said that she refused your dishonorable proposals, and preferred being
the virtuous wife of a major, to becoming the mistress of a prince.”

“Go on,” said the prince, hastily, as Pollnitz ceased, and looked
searchingly at him. “What do they say of me?”

“That you are in despair, and that you have retired to your chambers to
weep and mourn over your lost love.”

“Ah, they say that, do they?” cried the prince, with flashing eyes and
darkened brow; “well, I will show this credulous world that they are
mistaken. Is the king in Sans-Souci?”

“Yes, your highness.”

“Well, go to him, and announce my visit; I will follow you on foot.”

“We have won the day,” cried Pollnitz, as he approached the king; “the
prince desires to make you a visit. He will be here immediately.”

“Do you know what my brother wishes of me?” asked the king.

“I do not know, but I suspect, sire. I think he wishes to marry, in
order to pique his faithless sweetheart.”

“Go and receive the prince, and conduct him to me; then remain in the
antechamber, and await until I call.”

When Pollnitz left, the king seized his flute hastily aim began to play
a soft, melting adagio. He was still playing, when the door opened, and
the prince was announced. Henry stood in the doorway, and made the king
a ceremonious bow. The king continued to play. The low, pleading notes
of the flute floated softly through the room; they touched the heart of
the prince, and quieted its wild, stormy beating.

Was that the king’s intention, or did he intend to harmonize his own
spirit before speaking to his brother? Perhaps both, for Frederick’s
glance softened, and his face assumed a kind and mild expression.

When the adagio was finished, the king laid his flute aside and
approached the prince.

“Forgive me, brother,” he said, offering his hand--“forgive me for
keeping you waiting, I always like to conclude what I commence. Now, I
am entirely at your service, and as I am unfortunately not accustomed to
receive such friendly visits from you, I must ask you what brings you to
me, and how I can serve you?”

The fierce, violent nature of the prince slumbered but lightly. The
king’s words aroused it, and made his pulse and heart beat stormily.

“How you can serve me, my brother?” he said, hastily. “I will tell you,
and truthfully, sire.”

The king raised his head, and glanced angrily at the burning face of the
prince.

“I am not accustomed to have my words repeated, and all find that out
here to their cost,” he said, sternly.

“Have the goodness, then, to tell me why you have pursued me so long
and unrelentingly? What have I done to deserve your displeasure and such
bitter humiliations?”

“Rather ask me what you have done to deserve my love and confidence,”
 said the king, sternly. “I refer you to your own heart for an answer.”

“Ah, your majesty promised to answer my questions, and now you evade
them, but I will reply frankly. I have done nothing to deserve your
love, but also nothing to make me unworthy of it. Why are you, who are
so good and kind to all others, so stern and harsh with me?”

“I will tell you the truth,” said the king, earnestly. “You have
deserved my displeasure, you have desired to be a free man, to cast
aside the yoke that Providence placed upon you, you had the grand
presumption to dare to be the master of your own actions.”

“And does your majesty desire and expect me to resign this most natural
of human rights?” said the prince, angrily.

“Yes, I desire and expect it. I can truthfully say that I have given my
brothers a good example in this particular.”

“But you did not do this willingly. You were cruelly forced to
submission, and you now wish to drive us to an extremity you have,
doubtlessly, long since forgotten. Now, you suffered and struggled
before declaring yourself conquered.”

“No,” said the king, softly, “I have not forgotten. I still feel the
wound in my soul, and at times it burns.”

“And yet, my brother?”

“And yet I will have no pity with you. I say to you, as my father said
to me: ‘You must submit; you are a prince, and I am your king!’ I have
long since acknowledged that my father was right in his conduct to me.
I was not only a disobedient son, but a rebellious subject. I richly
deserved to mount the scaffold with Katte.”

“Ah, my brother, there was a time when you wept for this faithful and
unfortunate friend,” cried the prince, reproachfully.

“The sons of kings have not the right to choose their own path, destiny
has marked it out for them; they must follow it without wavering. I
neither placed the crown upon my head, nor the yoke upon your neck. We
must bear them patiently, as God and Providence have ordained, and wear
them with grace and dignity. You, my brother, have acted like a wild
horse of the desert--I have drawn the reins tight, that is all!”

“You have caught, bound, and tamed me,” said the prince, with a faint
smile; “only I feel that the bit still pains, and that my limbs still
tremble. But I am ready to submit, and I came to tell you so. You desire
me to marry, I consent; but I hold you responsible for the happiness of
this marriage. At God’s throne, I will call you to justify yourself, and
there we will speak as equals, as man to man. What right had you to rob
me of my most holy and beautiful possession? What right have you to lay
a heavy chain on heart and hand, that love will not help me to bear? I
hold you responsible for my miserable life, my shattered hopes. Will you
accept these conditions? Do you still wish me to marry?”

“I accept the conditions,” said the king, solemnly. “I desire you to
marry.”

“I presume your majesty has chosen a bride for me?”

“You are right, mon cher frere. I have selected the Princess Wilhelmina,
daughter of Prince Max, of Hesse-Cassel. She not only brings you a
fortune, but youth, beauty, and amiability.”

“I thank you, sire,” said the prince, coldly and formally. “I would
marry her if she were ugly, old, and unamiable. But is it allowed me to
add one condition?”

“Speak, my brother, I am listening.”

The prince did not answer immediately; he breathed quickly and heavily,
and a glowing red suffused his pale, trembling face.

“Speak, my brother. Name your conditions,” said the king.

“Well, then, so be it. My first condition is that I may be allowed to
have a brilliant wedding. I wish to invite not only the entire court,
but a goodly number of Berliners; I desire all Berlin to take part in
my happiness, and to convince every one, by my gay demeanor and my
entertainment, that I joyfully accept my bride, the princess.”

The king’s eyes rested sorrowfully upon his brother’s countenance. He
fully understood the emotions of his heart, and knew that his brother
wished to wound and humiliate his faithless sweetheart by his marriage;
that Henry only submitted to his wishes because his proud heart
rebelled at the thought of being pitied as a rejected lover. But he was
considerate, and would not let it appear that he understood him.

“I agree to this first proposition,” said the king, after a pause,
“and I hope you will allow me to be present at this beautiful fete,
and convince Berlin that we are in hearty unison. Have you no other
conditions?”

“Yes, one more.”

“What is it?”

“That my marriage shall take place, at the latest, in a month.”

“You will thus fulfil my particular and personal wish,” said the king,
smiling. “I am anxious to have this marriage over, for, after the
gayeties, I wish to leave Berlin. All the arrangements and contracts
are completed, and I think now there is no obstacle in the way of the
marriage. Have you another wish, my brother?”

“No, sire.”

“Then allow me to beg you to grant me a favor. I wish to leave a kind
remembrance of this eventful hour in your heart, and I therefore
give you a small memento of the same. Will you accept my castle of
Rheinsberg, with all its surroundings, as a present from me? Will you
grant me this pleasure, my brother?”

The king offered his hand, with a loving smile, to Henry, and received
with apparent pleasure his ardent thanks.

“I chose Rheinsberg,” he said, kindly, “not because it is my favorite
palace, and I have passed many pleasant and happy days there, but
because none of my other palaces are so appropriate for a prince who is
discontented with his king. I have made that experience myself, and I
give you Rheinsberg, as my father gave it to me. Go to Rheinsberg when
you are angry with me and the world; there you can pass the first months
of your marriage, and God grant it may be a happy one!”

The prince answered him with a cold smile, and begged leave to withdraw,
that he might make the necessary preparations for his wedding. “We
will both make our preparations,” said the king, as he bade the prince
farewell--“you with your major-domo, and I with Baron Pollnitz, whom I
shall send as ambassador to Cassel.”



CHAPTER XI. THE TRAVELLING MUSICIANS.


The feasts, illuminations, and balls given in honor of the newly-married
couple, Henry and his wife, the Princess Wilhelmina, were at an end. The
prince and his followers had withdrawn to Rheinsberg, and many were
the rumors in Berlin of the brilliant feasts with which he welcomed his
beautiful bride. She was truly lovely, and the good Berliners, who
had received her with such hearty greetings when she appeared with
the prince on the balcony, or showed herself to the people in an open
carriage, declared there could be no happier couple than the prince and
his wife; they declared that the large, dark eyes of the princess rested
upon the prince with inexpressible tenderness, and that the prince
always returned her glance with a joyous smile. It was therefore decided
that the prince was a happy husband, and the blessings of the Berliners
followed the charming princess to Rheinsberg, where the young couple
were to pass their honeymoon.

While the prince was giving splendid fetes, and seeking distraction, and
hoping to forget his private griefs, or perhaps wishing to deceive the
world as to his real feelings, the king left Sans-Souci, to commence
one of his customary military inspection trips. But he did not go to
Konigsberg, as was supposed; and if Trenck really had the intention of
murdering him during his sojourn there, it was rendered impossible
by the change in the king’s plans. Frederick made a tour in his Rhine
provinces. At Cleves he dismissed his followers, and they returned to
Berlin.

The king declared he needed rest, and wished to pass a few days in
undisturbed quiet at the castle of Moyland.

No one accompanied him but Colonel Balby, his intimate friend, and his
cabinet-hussar, Deesen. The king was in an uncommonly good humor, and
his eyes sparkled with delight. After a short rest in his chamber, he
desired to see Colonel Balby.

To his great astonishment, the colonel found him searching through a
trunk, which contained a few articles of clothing little calculated to
arrest the attention of a king.

“Balby,” said the king, solemnly, but with a roguish sparkle of the eye,
“I wish to present you this plain brown suit. I owe you a reward for
your hearty friendship and your faithful services. This is a princely
gift. Take it as a mark of my grateful regard. That you may be
convinced, Balby, that I have long been occupied in preparing this
surprise for you, I inform you that these rich articles were made
secretly for you in Berlin, by your tailor; I packed them myself, and
brought them here for you. Accept them, then, my friend, and wear them
in memory of Frederick.”

With a solemn bow, the king offered Balby the clothes.

The colonel received this strange present with an astonished and
somewhat confused countenance.

The king laughed merrily. “What,” he said, pathetically, “are you not
contented with the favor I have shown you?”

Balby knew by the comic manner of the king that the sombre suit hid a
secret, and he thought it wise to allow the king to take his own time
for explanation.

“Sire,” he said, emphatically, “content is not the word to express my
rapture. I am enthusiastic, speechless at this unheard-of favor. I am
filled with profound gratitude to your majesty for having in vented a
new costume for me, whose lovely color will make me appear like a large
coffee-bean, and make all the coffee sisters adore me.”

The king was highly amused. “This dress certainly has the power of
enchantment. When Colonel Balby puts on these clothes he will be
invisible, but he shall not undergo this transformation alone. See,
here is another suit, exactly like yours, and this is mine. When I array
myself in it, I am no longer the king of Prussia, but a free, happy
man.”

“Ah, you are speaking of a disguise,” cried the colonel.

“Yes, we will amuse ourselves by playing the role of common men for
a while, and wander about unnoticed and undisturbed. Are you agreed,
Balby, or do you love your colonel’s uniform better than your freedom?”

“Am I agreed, sire?” cried the colonel; “I am delighted with this genial
thought.”

“Then take your dress, friend, and put it on. But stay. Did you bring
your violin with you, as I told you?”

“Yes, sire.”

“Well, then, when you are dressed, put your violin in a case, and with
the case under your arm, and a little money in your pocket, go to the
pavilion at the farthest end of the garden; there I will meet you. Now
hasten, friend, we have no time to lose.”

According to the king’s orders, Colonel Balby dressed and went to the
pavilion. He did not find the king, but two strange men there. One of
them had on a brown coat, the color of his own, ornamented with large
buttons of mother-of-pearl; black pantaloons, and shoes with large
buckles, set with dull white stones; the lace on his sleeves and vest
was very coarse. He wore a three-cornered hat, without ornament; from
under the hat fell long, brown, unpowdered hair.

Behind this stranger there stood another, in plain, simple clothes;
under one arm he carried a small bag, and under the other a case that
contained either a yard-stick or a flute. He returned the colonel’s
salutation with a grimace and a profound bow. A short pause ensued, then
the supposed strangers laughed heartily and exclaimed:

“Do you not know us, Balby?”

Their voices started the colonel, and he stepped back.

“Sire, it is yourself.”

“Yes, it is I, Frederick--not the king. Yes, I am Frederick, and this
capital servant is my good Deesen, who has sworn solemnly not to betray
our incognito, and to give no one reason to suspect his high dignity
as royal cabinet-hussar. For love of us he will, for a few days, be the
servant of two simple, untitled musicians, who are travelling around the
world, seeking their fortunes, but who, unfortunately, have no letters
of recommendation.”

“But who will recommend themselves by their talents and
accomplishments.”

The king laughed aloud. “Balby, you forget that you are a poor musician,
chatting with your comrade. Truly your courtly bow suits your dress as
little as a lace veil would a beggar’s attire; you must lay your fine
manners aside for a short time, for, with them, you would appear to
the village beauties we may meet like a monkey, and they would laugh at
instead of kissing you.”

“So we are to meet country beauties,” said Colonel Balby, no longer able
to suppress his curiosity. “Tell me, sire, where are we going, and what
are we going to do? I shall die of curiosity.”

“Make an effort to die,” said the king, gayly; “you will find it is not
so easy to do as you imagine. But I will torture you no longer. You ask
what we are going to do. Well, we are going to amuse ourselves and seek
adventures. You ask where we are going. Ask that question of the sparrow
that sits on the house-top--ask where it is going, and what is the aim
of its journey. It will reply, the next bush, the nearest tree, the
topmost bough of a weeping willow, which stands on a lonely grave; the
mast of a ship, sailing on the wide sea; or the branch of a noble beech,
waving before the window of a beautiful maiden. I am as incapable of
telling you the exact aim and end of our journey, friend, as that little
bird would be. We are as free as the birds of the air. Come! come! let
us fly, for see, the little sparrow has flown--let us follow it.”

And with a beaming smile illuminating his countenance, like a ray of the
morning sun, the king took the arm of his friend, and followed by his
servant and cabinet-hussar, Deesen, left the pavilion.

As they stood at the little gate of the garden, the king said to Deesen,

“You must be for us the angel with the flaming sword, and open the gates
of paradise, but not to cast us out.”

Deesen opened the gate, and our adventurers entered “the wide, wide
world.”

“Let us stand here a few moments,” said the king, as his glance rested
upon the green fields spread far and wide around him. “How great and
beautiful the world appears to-day! Observe Nature’s grand silence, yet
the air is full of a thousand voices, and the white clouds wandering
dreamily in the blue heavens above, are they not the misty veils with
which the gods of Olympus conceal their charms?”

“Ah! sire,” said Balby, with a loving glance at the king’s hand some
face--“ah, sire, my eyes have no time to gaze at Nature’s charms, they
are occupied with yourself. When I look upon you, I feel that man is
indeed made in the image of God.”

“Were I a god, I should not be content to resemble this worn, faded
face. Come, now, let us be off! Give me your instrument, Deesen, I will
carry it. Now I look like a travelling apprentice seeking his fortune.
The world is all before him where to choose his place of rest, and
Providence his guide. I envy him. He is a free man!”

“Truly, these poor apprentices would not believe that a king was envying
them their fate,” said Balby, laughing.

“Still they are to be envied,” said the king, “for they are free. No,
no, at present I envy no one, the world and its sunshine belong to me.
We will go to Amsterdam, and enjoy the galleries and museums.”

“I thank your majesty,” said Balby, laughing, “you have saved my life.
I should have died of curiosity if you had not spoken. Now, I feel
powerful and strong, and can keep pace with your majesty’s wandering
steps.”

Silently they walked on until they reached a sign-post.

“We are now on the border--let us bid farewell to the Prussian colors,
we see them for the last time. Sire, we will greet them with reverence.”

He took off his hat and bowed lowly before the black and white colors of
Prussia, a greeting that Deesen imitated with the fervor of a patriot.

The king did not unite in their enthusiasm; he was writing with his
stick upon the ground.

“Come here, Balby, and read this,” he said, pointing to the lines he had
traced. “Can you read them?”

“Certainly,” said Balby, “the words are, ‘majesty’ and ‘sire.’”

“So they are, friend. I leave these two words on the borders of Prussia;
perhaps on our return we may find and resume them. But as long as we are
on the soil of Holland there must be no majesty, no sire.”

“What, then, must I call my king?”

“You must call him friend, voila tout.”

“And I?” asked Deesen, respectfully. “Will your majesty be so gracious
as to tell me your name?”

“I am Mr. Zoller, travelling musician, and should any one ask you what
I want in Amsterdam, tell them I intend giving a concert. En avant, mes
amis. There lies the first small village of Holland, in an hour we
shall be there, and then we will take the stage and go a little into the
interior. En avant, en avant!”



CHAPTER XII. TRAVELLING ADVENTURES.


The stage stood before the tavern at Grave, and awaited its passengers.
The departure of the stage was an important occurrence to the
inhabitants of the little town--an occurrence that disturbed the
monotony of their lives for a few moments, and showed them at least now
and then a new face, that gave them something to think of, and made them
dream of the far-off city where the envied travellers were going.

Today all Grave was in commotion and excitement. The strangers had
arrived at the post-house, and after partaking of an excellent dinner,
engaged three seats in the stage. The good people of Grave hoped to
see three strange faces looking out of the stage window; many were the
surmises of their destiny and their possible motives for travelling.
They commenced these investigations while the strangers were still with
them.

A man had seen them enter the city, dusty and exhausted, and he declared
that the glance which the two men in brown coats had cast at his young
wife, who had come to the window at his call, was very bold--yes,
even suspicious, and it seemed very remarkable to him that such plain,
ordinary looking wanderers should have a servant, for, doubtless, the
man walking behind them, carrying the very small carpet-bag, was their
servant; but, truly, he appeared to be a proud person, and had the
haughty bearing of a general or a field-marshal, he would not even
return the friendly greetings of the people he passed. His masters could
not be distinguished or rich, for both of them carried a case under
their arms. What could be in those long cases, what secret was hidden
there? Perhaps they held pistols, and the good people of Grave would
have to deal with robbers or murderers. The appearance of the strangers
was wild and bold enough to allow of the worst suspicions.

The whole town, as before mentioned, was in commotion, and all were
anxious to see the three strangers, about whom there was certainly
something mysterious. They had the manners and bearing of noblemen, but
were dressed like common men.

A crowd of idlers had assembled before the post-house, whispering and
staring at the windows of the guests’ rooms. At last their curiosity
was about to be gratified, at last the servant appeared with the little
carpet-bag, and placed it in the stage, and returned for the two cases,
whose contents they would so greedily have known. The postilion blew his
horn, the moment of departure had arrived.

A murmur was heard through the crowd, the strangers appeared, they
approached the stage, and with such haughty and commanding glances that
the men nearest them stepped timidly back.

The postilion sounded his horn again, the strangers were entering the
stage. At the door stood the postmaster, and behind him his wife, the
commanding postmistress.

“Niclas,” she whispered, “I must and will know who these strangers are.
Go and demand their passports.”

The obedient Niclas stepped out and cried in a thundering voice to the
postilion, who was just about to start, to wait. Stepping to the stage,
he opened the door.

“Your passports, gentlemen,” he said, roughly. “You forgot to show me
your passports.”

The curious observers breathed more freely, and nodded encouragingly to
the daring postmaster.

“You rejoice,” murmured his wife, who was still standing in the door,
from whence she saw all that passed, and seemed to divine the thoughts
of her gaping friends--“you rejoice, but you shall know nothing. I shall
not satisfy your curiosity.”

Mr. Niclas still stood at the door of the stage. His demand had not been
attended to; he repeated it for the third time.

“Is it customary here to demand passports of travellers?” asked a
commanding voice from the stage.

Niclas, and taking the two mysterious cases from the stage, he placed
them before the strangers.

“Let us go into the house,” whispered the king to his friends. “We
must make bonne mine a mauvais jeu,” and he approached the door of the
house--there stood the wife of the postmaster, with sparkling eyes and a
malicious grin.

“The postilion is going, and you will lose your money,” she said, “they
never return money when once they have it.”

“Ah! I thought that was only a habit of the church,” said the king,
laughing. “Nevertheless, the postmaster can keep what he has. Will you
have the kindness to show me a room, where I can open my bag at leisure,
and send some coffee and good wine to us?”

There was something so commanding in the king’s voice, so imposing in
his whole appearance, that even the all-conquering Madame Niclas felt
awed, and she silently stepped forward and showed him her best room. The
servant followed with the two cases and the bag, and laid them upon the
table, then placed himself at the door.

“Now, madame, leave us,” ordered the king, “and do as I told you.”

Madame Niclas left, and the gentlemen were once more alone.

“Now, what shall we do?” said the king, smilingly. “I believe there is
danger of our wonderful trip falling through.”

“It is only necessary for your majesty to make yourself known to the
postmaster,” said Colonel Balby.

“And if he will not believe me, this fripon who declares that no
one could tell by my appearance whether I was a rascal or not, this
dull-eyed simpleton, who will not see the royal mark upon my brow, which
my courtiers see so plainly written there? No, no, my friend, that is
not the way. We have undertaken to travel as ordinary men--we must now
see how common men get through the world. It is necessary to show the
police that we are at least honest men. Happily, I believe I have the
means to do so at hand. Open our ominous bag, friend Balby, I think you
will discover my portfolio, and in it a few blank passes, and my state
seal.”

Colonel Balby did as the king ordered, and drew from the bag the
portfolio, with its precious contents.

The king bade Balby sit down and fill up the blanks at his dictation.

The pass was drawn up for the two brothers, Frederick and Henry Zoller,
accompanied by their servant, with the intention of travelling through
Holland.

The king placed his signature under this important document.

“Now, it is only necessary to put the state seal under it, and we shall
be free; but how will we get a light?”

“I cannot tell who is a rascal, you may be one for aught I know.”

Balby uttered an angry exclamation and stepped nearer to the daring
postmaster, while his servant shook his fist threateningly at Niclas.

The king dispelled their anger with a single glance.

“Sir,” he said to Niclas, “God made my face, and it is not my fault if
it does not please you, but concerning our passports, they are lying
well preserved in my carpet-bag. I should think that would suffice you.”

“No, that does not suffice me,” screamed Niclas. “Show me your passports
if I am to believe that you are not vagabonds.”

“You dare to call us vagabonds?” cried the king, whose patience now also
appeared exhausted, and whose clear brow was slightly clouded.

“The police consider everyone criminal until he has proved he is not
so,” said Niclas, emphatically.

The king’s anger was already subdued.

“In the eyes of the police, criminality is then the normal condition of
mankind,” he said, smilingly.

“Sir, you have no right to question the police so pointedly,” said
Niclas, sternly. “You are here to be questioned, and not to question.”

The king laughingly arrested the uplifted arm of his companion.

“Mon Dieu,” he murmured, “do you not see that this is amusing me highly?
Ask, sir, I am ready to answer.”

“Have you a pass?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Then give it to me to vise.”

“To do so, I should have to open my bag, and that would be very
inconvenient, but, if the law absolutely demands it, I will do it.”

“The law demands it.”

The king motioned to his servant, and ordered him to carry the bag into
the house.

“Why this delay--why this unnecessary loss of time?” asked Niclas.
“The postilion can wait no longer. If he arrives too late at the next
station, he will be fined.”

“I will not wait another minute,” cried the postilion, determinately.
“get in, or I shall start without you.”

“Show me your passports, and then get in,” cried Niclas.

The strangers appeared confused and undecided. Niclas looked
triumphantly at his immense crowd of listeners, who were gazing at him
with amazement, awaiting in breathless stillness the unravelling of this
scene.

“Get in, or I shall start,” repeated the postilion.

“Give me your passports, or I will not let you go!” screamed “We can
demand them if we wish to do so.”

“And why do you wish it now?” said the same voice.

“I wish it simply because I wish it,” was the reply.

A stern face now appeared at the door, looking angrily at the
postmaster.

“Think what you say, sir, and be respectful.”

“Silence!” interrupted the one who had first spoken. “Do not let us
make an unnecessary disturbance, mon ami. Why do you wish to see our
passports, sir?”

“Why?” asked Niclas, who was proud to play so distinguished a part
before his comrades--“you wish to know why I desire to see your
passports? Well, then, because you appear to me to be suspicious
characters.”

A gay laugh was heard from the stage. “Why do you suspect us?”

“Because I never trust people travelling without baggage,” was the
laconic reply.

“Bravo! well answered,” cried the crowd, and even Madame Niclas was
surprised to see her husband show such daring courage.

“We need no baggage. We are travelling musicians, going to Amsterdam.”

“Travelling musicians All the more reason for mistrusting you; no good
was ever heard of wandering musicians.”

“You are becoming impertinent, sir,” and Balby, the tallest and youngest
of the two friends, sprang from the stage, while the servant swung
himself from the box, where he was sitting with the postilion, and with
an enraged countenance placed himself beside his master.

“If you dare to speak another insulting word, you are lost,” cried
Balby.

A hand was laid on his shoulder, and a voice murmured in his ear:

“Do not compromise us.”

The king now also left the stage, and tried to subdue the anger of his
companion.

“Pardon, sir, the violence of my friend,” said the king, with an
ironical smile, as he bowed to the postmaster. “We are not accustomed
to being questioned and suspected in this manner, and I can assure you
that, although we are travelling musicians, as it pleased you to say, we
are honest people, and have played before kings and queens.”

“If you are honest, show me your passports; no honest man travels
without one!”

“It appears to me that no rascal should travel without one,” said the
king. “I will obtain one immediately,” said Balby, hastening to the
door.

The king held him back. “My brother, you are very innocent and
thoughtless. You forget entirely that we are suspected criminals. Should
we demand a light, and immediately appear with our passes, do you not
believe that this dragon of a postmaster would immediately think that we
had written them ourselves, and put a forged seal under them?”

“How, then, are we to get a light?” said Balby, confused.

The king thought a moment, then laughed gayly.

“I have found a way,” he said; “go down into the dining-room, where I
noticed an eternal lamp burning, not to do honor to the Mother of God,
but to smokers; light your cigar and bring it here. I will light the
sealing-wax by it, and we will have the advantage of drowning the smell
of the wax with the smoke.”

Balby flew away, and soon returned with the burning cigar; the king lit
the sealing-wax, and put the seal under the passport.

“This will proclaim us free from all crime. Now, brother Henry, call the
worthy postmaster.”

When Niclas received the passport from the king’s hand his countenance
cleared, and he made the two gentlemen a graceful bow, and begged them
to excuse the severity that his duty made necessary.

“We have now entirely convinced you that we are honest people,” said the
king, smiling, “and you will forgive us that we have so little baggage.”

“Well, I understand,” said Mr. Niclas, confusedly, “musicians are seldom
rich, but live from hand to mouth, and must thank God if their clothes
are good and clean. Yours are entirely new, and you need no baggage.”

The king laughed merrily. “Can we now go?” he asked.

“Yes; but how, sir? You doubtlessly heard that the postilion left as
soon as you entered the house.”

“Consequently we are without a conveyance; we have paid for our places
for nothing, and must remain in this miserable place,” said the king,
impatiently.

Niclas reddened with anger. “Sir, what right have you to call the town
of Grave a miserable place? Believe me, it would be very difficult for
you to become a citizen of this miserable place, for you must prove
that you have means enough to live in a decent manner, and it appears to
me--”

“That we do not possess them,” said the king; “vraiment, you are right,
our means are very insufficient, and as the inhabitants of Grave will
not grant us the rights of citizens, it is better for us to leave
immediately. Have, therefore, the goodness to furnish us with the means
of doing so.”

“There are two ways, an expensive and a cheap one,” said Niclas,
proudly: “extra post, or the drag-boat. The first is for respectable
people, the second for those who have nothing, and are nothing.”

“Then the last is for us,” said the king, laughing. “Is it not so,
brother Henry?--it is best for us to go in the drag-boat.”

“That would be best, brother Frederick.”

“Have the kindness to call our servant to take the bag, and you, Mr.
Niclas, please give us a guide to show us to the canal.”

The king took his box and approached the door.

“And my coffee, and the wine,” asked Mrs. Niclas, just entering with the
drinks.

“We have no time to make use of them, madame,” said the king, as he
passed her, to leave the room.

But Madame Niclas held him back.

“No time to make use of them,” she cried; “but I had to take time to
make the coffee, and bring the wine from the cellar.”

“Mais, mon Dieu, madame,” said the impatient king.

“Mais, mon Dieu, monsieur, vous croyez que je travaillerai pour le roi
de Prusse, c’est-a-dire sans paiement.”

The king broke out into a hearty laugh, and Balby had to join him, but
much against his will.

“Brother Henry,” said the king, laughing, “that is a curious way of
speaking; ‘travailler pour le roi de Prusse,’ means here to work for
nothing. I beg you to convince this good woman that she has not worked
for the King of Prussia, and pay her well. Madame, I have the honor to
bid you farewell, and be assured it will always cheer me to think of
you, and to recall your charming speech.”

The king laughingly took his friend’s arm, and nodded kindly to Madame
Niclas as he went down the steps.

“I tell you what,” said Madame Niclas, as she stood at the door with
her husband, watching the departing strangers, who, in company with the
guide and their servant, were walking down the street that led to the
canal--“I tell you I do not trust those strangers, the little one in
particular; he had a very suspicious look.”

“But his passport was all right.”

“But, nevertheless, all is not right with them. These strangers are
disguised princes or robbers, I am fully convinced.”



CHAPTER XIII. THE DRAG-BOAT.


What a crowd, what noise, what laughing and chatting! How bright and
happy these people are who have nothing and are nothing! How gayly they
laugh and talk together--with what stoical equanimity they regard the
slow motion of the boat! They accept it as an unalterable necessity.
How kindly they assist each other; with what natural politeness the men
leave the best seats for the women!

The boat is very much crowded. There are a great number of those amiable
people who are nothing, and have nothing, moving from place to place
cheerily.

The men on the shore who, with the aid of ropes, are pulling the boat,
those two-legged horses, groan from exertion. The bagpipe player is
making his gayest music, but in vain--he cannot allure the young people
to dance; there is no place for dancing, the large deck of the boat
is covered with human beings. Old men, and even women, are obliged to
stand; the two long benches running down both sides of the boat are
filled.

The king enjoyed the scene immensely. The free life about him, the
entire indifference to his own person, charmed and delighted him. He
leaned against the cabin, by which he was sitting, and regarded the
crowd before him. Suddenly he was touched on the shoulder, and not
in the gentlest manner. Looking up, he met the discontented face of a
peasant, who was speaking violently, but in Dutch, and the king did
not understand him; he therefore slightly shrugged his shoulders and
remained quiet.

The angry peasant continued to gesticulate, and pointed excitedly at
the ting and then at a pale young woman who was standing before him, and
held two children in her arms.

The king still shrugged his shoulders silently, but when the peasant
grasped him for the second time he waved him off, and his eye was
so stern that the terrified and astonished peasant stepped back
involuntarily.

At this moment a displeased murmur was heard among the crowd, and a
number arranged themselves by the side of the peasant, who approached
the king with a determined countenance.

The king remained sitting, and looked surprised at the threatening
countenances of the people, whose angry words he tried in vain to
comprehend.

The still increasing crowd was suddenly separated by two strong arms,
and Balby, who had been sitting at the other end of the boat, now
approached the king, accompanied by a friend, and placed himself at the
king’s side.

“Tell me what these men want, mon ami,” said Frederick, hastily; “I do
not understand Dutch.”

“I understand it, sir,” said the friend who accompanied Balby, “these
people are reproaching you.”

“Reproaching me! And why?”

The stranger turned to the peasant who had first spoken, and who now
began to make himself heard again in loud and angry tones.

“Monsieur,” said the stranger, “these good people are angry with you,
and, it appears to me, not entirely without cause. There is a language
that is understood without words, its vocabulary is in the heart. Here
stands a poor, sick woman, with her twins in her arms. You, monsieur,
are the only man seated. These good people think it would be but proper
for you to resign your seat.”

“This is unheard-of insolence,” exclaimed Balby, placing him self
determinedly before the king; “let any one dare advance a step farther,
and I--”

“Quiet, cher frere, the people are right, and I am ashamed of myself
that I did not understand them at once.”

He rose and passed through the crowd with a calm, kindly face, and, not
appearing to notice them, approached the young woman, who was kneeling,
exhausted, on the floor. With a kind, sympathetic smile, he raised her
and led her to his seat. There was something so noble and winning in
his manner, that those who were so shortly before indignant, were
unconsciously touched. A murmur of approval was heard; the rough faces
beamed with friendly smiles.

The king did not observe this, he was still occupied with the poor
woman, and, while appearing to play with the children, gave each of them
a gold piece. But their little hands were not accustomed to carry such
treasures, and could not hold them securely. The two gold pieces
rolled to the ground, and the ringing noise announced the rich gift of
Frederick. Loud cries of delight were heard, and the men waved their
hats in the air. The king reddened, and looked down in confusion.

The peasant, who had first been so violent toward the king, and at whose
feet the money had fallen, picked it up and gave it to the children;
then, with a loud laugh, he offered his big, rough hand to the king, and
said something in a kindly tone.

“The good man is thanking you, sir,” said the stranger “He thinks you
a clever, good-hearted fellow, and begs you to excuse his uncalled-for
violence.”

The king answered with a silent bow. He who was accustomed to receive
the world’s approval as his just tribute, was confused and ashamed at
the applause of these poor people.

The king was right in saying he left his royalty on Prussian soil;
he really was embarrassed at this publicity, and was glad when Deesen
announced that lunch was prepared for him. He gave Balby a nod to
follow, and withdrew into the cabin.

“Truly, if every-day life had so many adventures, I do not understand
how any one can complain of ennui. Through what varied scenes I have
passed to-day!”

“But our adventures arise from the peculiarity of our situation,” said
Balby. “All these little contretemps are annoying and disagreeable; but
seem only amusing to a king in disguise.”

“But a disguised king learns many things,” said Frederick, smiling;
“from to-day, I shall be no longer surprised to hear the police called a
hateful institution. Vraiment, its authority and power is vexatious, but
necessary. Never speak again of my god-like countenance, or the seal
of greatness which the Creator has put upon the brow of princes to
distinguish them from the rest of mankind. Mons. Niclas saw nothing
great stamped upon my brow; to him I had the face of a criminal--my
passport only made an honest man of me. Come, friends, let us refresh
ourselves.”

While eating, the king chatted pleasantly with Balby of the charming
adventures of the day.

“Truly,” he said, laughing, as the details of the scene on deck were
discussed, “without the interference of that learned Dutchman, the
King of Prussia would have been in dangerous and close contact with the
respectable peasant. Ah, I did not even thank my protecting angel.
Did you speak to him, brother Henry? Where is he from, and what is his
name?”

“I do not know, sir; but from his speech and manner he appeared to me to
be an amiable and cultivated gentleman.”

“Go and invite him to take a piece of pie with us. Tell him Mr. Zoller
wishes to thank him for his assistance, and begs the honor of his
acquaintance. You see, my friend, I am learning how to be polite, to
flatter, and conciliate, as becomes a poor travelling musician. I beg
you, choose your words well. Be civil, or he might refuse to come, and I
thirst for company.”

Balby returned in a few moments, with the stranger.

“Here, my friend,” said Balby. “I bring you our deliverer in time of
need. He will gladly take his share of the pie.”

“And he richly deserves it,” said the king, as he greeted the stranger
politely. “Truly, monsieur, I am very much indebted to you, and this
piece of pie that I have the honor to offer you is but a poor reward
for your services. I believe I never saw larger fists than that
terrible peasant’s; a closer acquaintance with them would have been very
disagreeable. I thank you for preventing it.”

“Travellers make a variety of acquaintances,” said the stranger,
laughing, and seating himself on the bench by the king’s side, with a
familiarity that terrified Balby. “I count you, sir, among the agreeable
ones, and I thank you for this privilege.”

“I hope you will make the acquaintance of this pie, and find it
agreeable,” said the king. “Eat, monsieur, and let us chat in the mean
while--Henry, why are you standing there so grave and respectful, not
daring to be seated? I do not believe this gentleman to be a prince
travelling incognito.”

“No, sir, take your place,” exclaimed the stranger, laughing, “you will
not offend etiquette. I give you my word that I am no concealed prince,
and no worshipper of princes. I am proud to declare this.”

“Ah! you are proud not to be a prince?”

“Certainly, sir.”

“It appears to me,” said Balby, looking at the king, “that a prince has
a great and enviable position.”

“But a position, unfortunately, that but few princes know how to fill
worthily,” said the king, smiling. “Every man who is sufficient for
himself is to be envied.”

“You speak my thoughts exactly, sir,” said the stranger, who had
commenced eating his piece of pie with great zeal. “Only the free are
happy.”

“Are you happy?” asked the king.

“Yes, sir; at least for the moment I am.”

“What countryman are you?”

“I am a Swiss, sir.”

“A worthy and respectable people. From what part of Switzerland do you
come?”

“From the little town of Merges.”

“Not far, then, from Lausanne, and the lonely lake of Geneva, not far
from Ferney, where the great Voltaire resides, and from whence he darts
his scorching, lightning-flashes to-day upon those whom he blessed
yesterday. Are you satisfied with your government? Are not your
patrician families a little too proud? Are not even the citizens of
Berne arrogant and imperious?”

“We have to complain of them, sir, but very rarely.”

“Are you now residing in Holland?”

“No, I am travelling,” answered the stranger, shortly. He had held for
a long time a piece of pie on his fork, trying in vain to put it in his
mouth.

The king had not observed this; he had forgotten that kings and princes
only have the right to carry on a conversation wholly with questions,
and that it did not become Mr. Zoller to be so inquisitive.

“What brought you here?” he asked, hastily.

“To complete my studies, sir,” and, with a clouded brow, the stranger
laid his fork and pie upon his plate.

But the king’s questions flowed on in a continued stream.

“Do you propose to remain here?”

“I believe not, or rather I do not yet know,” answered the stranger,
with a sarcastic smile, that brought Balby to desperation.

“Are not the various forms of government of Switzerland somewhat
confusing in a political point of view?”

“No, for all know that the cantons are free, as they should be.”

“Does that not lead to skepticism and indifference?”

The stranger’s patience was exhausted; without answering the king, he
pushed back his plate and arose from the table.

“Sir, allow me to say that, in consideration of a piece of pie, which
you will not even give me time to eat, you ask too many questions.”

“You are right, and I beg your pardon,” said the king, as he smilingly
nodded at Balby to remain quiet. “We travel to improve ourselves, but
you have just cause of complaint. I will give you time to eat your piece
of pie. Eat, therefore, monsieur, and when you have finished, if it is
agreeable, we will chat awhile longer.”

When the stranger arose to depart, after an animated and interesting
conversation, the king offered him his hand.

“Give me your address,” he said, “that is, I beg of you to do so.
You say you have not yet chosen a profession; perhaps I may have the
opportunity of being useful to you.”

The Swiss gave him his card, with many thanks, and returned to the deck.

The king gazed thoughtfully after him.

“That man pleases me, and when I am no longer a poor musician, I shall
call him to my side.--Well, brother Henry, what do you think of this
man, who, as I see, is named Mr. Le Catt?”

“I find him rather curt,” said Balby, “and he appears to be a great
republican.”

“You mean because he hates princes, and was somewhat rude to me.
Concerning the first, you must excuse it in a republican, and I confess
that were I in his place I would probably do the same as to the last, he
was right to give Mr. Zoller a lesson in manners. Poor Zoller is not yet
acquainted with the customs of the common world, and makes all manner of
mistakes against bon ton. I believe to-day is not the first time he has
been reproved for want of manners.”

“Mr. Zoller is every inch a king,” said Balby, laughing.

[NOTE.--The king’s conversation with Mr. Le Catt is historical (see
Thiebault, vol. 1., p. 218). The king did not forget his travelling
adventure, but on his return to Prussia, called Le Catt to court and
gave him the position of lecturer, and for twenty years he enjoyed the
favor and confidence of the king.]



CHAPTER XIV. IN AMSTERDAM.


Wearied, indeed utterly exhausted, the king and Balby returned to the
hotel of the Black Raven, at that time the most celebrated in
Amsterdam. They had been wandering about the entire day, examining with
never-ceasing interest and delight the treasures of art which the rich
patricians of Amsterdam had collected in their princely homes and the
public museums. No one supposed that this small man in the brown coat,
with dusty shoes and coarse, unadorned hat, could be a king--a king
whose fame resounded throughout the whole of Europe. Frederick had
enjoyed the great happiness of pursuing his journey and his studies
unnoticed and unknown. He had many amusing and romantic adventures; and
the joy of being an independent man, of which he had heretofore only
dreamed, he was now realizing fully.

The king was compelled now to confess that his freedom and manhood were
completely overcome. Hunger had conquered him--hunger! the earthly enemy
of all great ideas and exalted feelings. The king was hungry! He was
obliged to yield to that physical power which even the rulers of this
world must obey, and Balby and himself had returned to the hotel to eat
and refresh themselves.

“Now, friend, see that you order something to rejoice and strengthen
our humanity,” said Frederick, stretching himself comfortably upon the
divan. “It is a real pleasure to rue to be hungry and partake of a good
meal--a pleasure which the King of Prussia will often envy the Messieurs
Zoller. To be hungry and to eat is one of life’s rare enjoyments
generally denied to kings, and yet,” whispered he, thoughtfully, “our
whole life is nothing but a never-ceasing hungering and thirsting
after happiness, content, and rest. The world alas! gives no repose, no
satisfying portion. Brother Henry, let us eat and be joyful; let us even
meditate on a good meal as an ardent maiden consecrates her thoughts to
a love-poem which she will write in her album in honor of her beloved.
Truly there are fools who in the sublimity of their folly wish to appear
indifferent to such earthly pleasures, declaring that they are necessary
evils, most uncomfortable bodily craving, and nothing more. They are
fools who do not understand that eating and drinking is an art, a
science, the soul of the soul, the compass of thought and feeling. Dear
Balby, order us a costly meal. I wish to be gay and free, light-minded
and merry-hearted to-day. In order to promote this we must, before all
other things, take care of these earthly bodies and not oppress them
with common food.”

“We will give them, I hope, the sublimest nourishment which the soil
of Holland produces,” said Balby, laughing. “You are not aware,
M. Frederick Zoller, that we are now in a hotel whose hostess is
worshipped, almost glorified, by the good Hollanders.”

“And is it this sublime piece of flesh which you propose to place before
me?” said the king, with assumed horror. “Will you satisfy the soul of
my soul with this Holland beauty? I do not share the enthusiasm of the
Hollanders. I shall not worship this woman. I shall find her coarse,
old, and ugly.”

“But listen, Zoller. These good Dutchmen worship her not be cause of
her perishable beauty, but because of a famous pie which she alone in
Amsterdam knows how to make.”

“Ah, that is better. I begin now to appreciate the Dutchmen, and if
the pie is good, I will worship at the same shrine. Did you not remark,
brother Henry, that while you stood carried away by your enthusiasm
before Rembrandt’s picture of the ‘Night Watch’--a picture which it
grieves me to say I cannot obtain,” sighed the king--“these proud
Hollanders call it one of their national treasures, and will not sell
it--well, did you not see that I was conversing zealously with three or
four of those thick, rubicund, comfortable looking mynheers? No doubt
you thought we were rapturously discussing the glorious paintings before
which we stood, and for this the good Hollanders were rolling their eyes
in ecstasy. No, sir; no, sir. We spoke of a pie! They recognized me as
a stranger, asked me from whence I came, where we lodged, etc., etc. And
when I mentioned the Black Raven, they went off into ecstatic raptures
over the venison pasty of Madame von Blaken. They then went on to relate
that Madame Blaken was renowned throughout all Holland because of this
venison pasty of which she alone had the recipe, and which she prepared
always alone and with closed doors. Her portrait is to be seen in all
the shop windows, and all the stadtholders dine once a month in the
Black Raven to enjoy this pie. Neither through prayers nor entreaties,
commands, or threatenings, has Madame Blaken been induced to give up her
recipe or even to go to the castle and prepare the pasty. She declares
that this is the richest possession of the Black Raven, and all who
would be so happy as to enjoy it must partake of it at her table. Balby!
Balby! hasten my good fellow, and command the venison pastry,” said
Frederick, eagerly. “Ah! what bliss to lodge in the Black Raven’ Waiter,
I say! fly to this exalted woman!”

Balby rushed out to seek the hostess and have himself announced.

Madame Blaken received him in her boudoir, to which she had withdrawn
to rest a little after the labors of the day. These labors were ever
a victory and added to her fame. There was no better table prepared in
Holland than that of the Black Raven. She was in full toilet, having
just left the dinner table where she had presided at the table d’hote as
lady of the house, and received with dignity the praise of her guests.
These encomiums still resounded in her ears, and she reclined upon the
divan and listened to their pleasing echo. The door opened and the head
waiter announced Mr. Zoller. The countenance of Madame Blaken was dark,
and she was upon the point of declining to receive him, but it was too
late; the daring Zoller had had the boldness to enter just behind the
waiter, and he was now making his most reverential bow to the lady.
Madame Blaken returned this greeting with a slight nod of the head, and
she regarded the stranger in his cheap and simple toilet with a rather
contemptuous smile. She thought to herself that this ordinary man had
surely made a mistake in entering her hotel. Neither his rank, fortune,
nor celebrity could justify his lodging at the Black Raven. She was
resolved to reprove her head waiter for allowing such plain and poor
people to enter the best hotel in Amsterdam.

“Sir,” said she, in a cold and cutting tone, “you come without doubt to
excuse your brother and yourself for not having appeared to-day at
my table d’hote. You certainly know that politeness requires that you
should dine in the hotel where you lodge. Do not distress yourself,
however, sir. I do not feel offended now that I have seen you. I
understand fully why you did not dine with me, but sought your modest
meal elsewhere. The table d’hote in the Black Raven is the most
expensive in Amsterdam, and only wealthy people put their feet under my
table and enjoy my dishes.”

While she thus spoke, her glance wandered searchingly over Balby, who
did not seem to remark it, or to comprehend her significant words.

“Madame,” said he, “allow me to remark that we have not dined. My
brother, whose will is always mine, prefers taking his dinner in his
own apartment, where he has more quiet comfort and can better enjoy your
rare viands. He never dines at a table d’hote. In every direction he has
heard of your wonderful pie, and I come in his name to ask that you will
be so good as to prepare one for his dinner to-day.”

Madame Blaken laughed aloud. “Truly said; that is not a bad idea of your
brother’s. My pasty is celebrated throughout all Holland, and I have
generally one ready in case a rich or renowned guest should desire it.
But this pie is not for every man!”

“My brother wants it for himself--himself alone,” said Balby,
decisively. Even the proud hostess felt his tone imposing.

“Sir,” said she, after a short pause, “forgive me if I speak plainly to
you. You wish to eat one of my renowned pies, and to have it served in
a private room, as the General Stadtholder and other high potentates are
accustomed to do. Well, I have this morning a pasty made with truffles
and Chinese birds’--nests, but you cannot have it! To be frank, it is
enormously dear, and I think neither your brother nor yourself could pay
for it!”

And now it was Balby’s turn to laugh aloud, and he did so with the
free, unembarrassed gayety of a man who is sure of his position, and is
neither confused nor offended.

Madame Blaken was somewhat provoked by this unrestrained merriment.
“You laugh, sir, but I have good reason for supposing you to be poor and
unknown. You came covered with dust and on foot to my hotel, accompanied
by one servant carrying a small carpet-bag. You have neither equipage,
retinue, nor baggage. You receive no visits; and, as it appears,
make none. You are always dressed in your simple, modest, rather
forlorn-looking brown coats. You have never taken a dinner here, but
pass the day abroad, and when you return in the evening you ask for
a cup of tea and a few slices of bread and butter. Rich people do not
travel in this style, and I therefore have the right to ask if you can
afford to pay for my pasty? I do not know who or what you are, nor your
brother’s position In the world.”

“Oh,” cried Balby who was highly amused by the candor of the hostess,
“my brother has a most distinguished position, I assure you--his fame
resounds throughout Germany.”

“Bah!” said Madame Blaken, shrugging her shoulders; “the name is
entirely unknown to us. Pray, what is your brother, and for what is he
celebrated?”

“For his flute,” answered Balby, with solemn gravity. Madame Blaken rose
and glanced scornfully at Balby. “Are you mating sport of me, sir?” said
she, threateningly.

“Not in the least, madame; I am telling you an important truth. My
brother is a renowned virtuoso.”

“A virtuoso?” repeated the hostess; “I do not understand the word. Pray,
what is a virtuoso?”

“A virtuoso, madame, is a musician who makes such music as no other
man can make. He gives concerts, and sells the tickets for an enormous
price, and the world rushes to hear his music. I assure you, madame,
my brother can play so enchantingly that those who hear his flute are
forced to dance in spite of themselves. He receives large sums of gold,
and if he gives a concert here you will see that all your distinguished
people will flock to hear him. You can set your pasty before him without
fear--he is able to pay richly for it.”

Madame Blaken rose without a word and advanced toward the door. “Come,
sir, come. I am going to your brother.” Without waiting for an answer,
she stepped through the corridor and tapped lightly at the stranger’s
door. She was on the point of opening it, but Balby caught her hand
hastily.

“Madame,” said he, “allow me to enter and inquire if you can be
received.” He wished to draw her back from the door, but the hostess of
the Black Raven was not the woman to be withdrawn.

“You wish to ask if I can enter?” repeated she. “I may well claim that
privilege in my own house.”

With a determined hand she knocked once more upon the door, opened it
immediately and entered, followed by Balby, who by signs endeavored to
explain and beg pardon for the intrusion.

Frederick did not regard him, his blue eyes were fixed upon the woman
who, with laughing good-humor, stepped up to him and held out both of
her large, course hands in greeting.

“Sir, I come to convince myself if what your brother said was true.”

“Well, madame, what has my brother said?”

“He declares that you can whistle splendidly, and all the world is
forced to dance after your music.”

“I said play the flute, madame! I said play the flute!” cried Balby,
horrified. “Well, flute or whistle,” said Madame Blaken, proudly, “it’s
the same thing. Be so good, sir, as to whistle me something; I will then
decide as to the pasty.” The king looked at Balby curiously. “Will you
have the goodness, brother, to explain madame’s meaning, and what she
requires of me?”

“Allow me to explain myself,” said the hostess. “This gentleman came
and ordered a rich pie for you; this pasty has given celebrity to my
house. It is true I have one prepared, but I would not send it to you.
Would you know why? This is an enormously expensive dish, and I have no
reason to believe that you are in a condition to pay for it. I said this
to your brother, and I might with truth have told him that I regretted
to see him in my hotel--not that you are in yourselves objectionable,
on the contrary, you appear to me to be harmless and amiable men, but
because of your purses. I fear that you do not know the charges of
first-class hotels, and will be amazed at your bill. Your brother,
however, assures me that you can afford to pay for all you order; that
you make a great deal of money; that you are a virtuoso, give concerts,
and sell tickets at the highest price. Now, I will convince myself if
you are a great musician and can support yourself. Whistle me something,
and I will decide as to the pie.”

The king listened to all this with suppressed merriment, and gave Balby
a significant look.

“Bring my flute, brother; I will convince madame that I am indeed a
virtuoso.”

“Let us hear,” said Madame Blaken, seating herself upon the sofa from
which the king had just arisen.

Frederick made, with indescribable solemnity, a profound bow to the
hostess. He placed the flute to his lips and began to play, but not in
his accustomed masterly style--not in those mild, floating melodies,
those solemn sacred, and exalted strains which it was his custom to
draw from his beloved flute. He played a gay and brilliant solo, full of
double trills and rhapsodies; it was an astounding medley, which
seemed to make a triumphal march over the instrument, overcoming all
difficulties. But those soft tones which touched the soul and roused to
noble thoughts were wanting; in truth, the melody failed, the music was
wanting.

Madame Blaken listened with ever-increasing rapture to this wondrous
exercise; these trills, springing from octave to octave, drew forth her
loudest applause; she trembled with ecstasy, and as the king closed with
a brilliant cadence, she clapped her hands and shouted enthusiastically.
She stood up respectfully before the artiste in the simple brown coat,
and bowing low, said earnestly:

“Your brother was right, you can surely earn much money by your whistle.
You whistle as clearly as my mocking-bird. You shall have the pie--I go
to order it at once,” and she hastened from the room.

“Well,” said the king, laughing, “this was a charming scene, and I thank
you for it, brother Henry. It is a proud and happy feeling to know that
you can stand upon your feet, or walk alone; in other words, that you
can earn a support. Now, if the sun of Prussia sets, I shall not hunger,
for I can earn my bread; Madame Blaken assures me of it. But, Henry, did
I not play eminently?”

“That was the most glittering, dazzling piece for a concert which I
ever heard,” said Balby, “and Mr. Zoller may well be proud of it, but I
counsel him not to play it before the King of Prussia; he would, in his
jealousy, declare it was not music, nothing but sound, and signifying
nothing.”

“Bravo, my friend,” said Frederick, taking his friend’s hand; “yes, he
would say that. Mr. Zoller played like a true virtuoso, that is to say,
without intellect and without soul; he did not make music, only artistic
tones. But here comes the pasty, and I shall relish it wondrous well. It
is the first meat I have ever earned with my flute. Let us eat, brother
Henry.”



CHAPTER XV. THE KING WITHOUT SHOES.


The pie was really worthy of its reputation, and the king enjoyed it
highly. He was gay and talkative, and amused himself in recalling the
varied adventures of the past five days.

“They will soon be tempi passati, these giorni felice,” he said,
sighing. “To-day is the last day of our freedom and happiness; to-morrow
we must take up our yoke, and exchange our simple brown coats for
dashing uniforms.”

“I know one, at least, who is rejoicing,” said Balby, laughing, “the
unhappy Deesen, who has just sworn most solemnly that he would throw
himself in the river if he had to play much longer the part of a servant
without livery--a servant of two unknown musicians; and he told me, with
tears in his eyes, that not a respectable man in the house would speak
to him; that the pretty maids would not even listen to his soft sighs
and tender words.”

“Dress makes the man,” said the king, laughing; “if Deesen wore his
cabinet-hussar livery these proud beauties who now despise, would smile
insidiously. How strangely the world is constituted! But let us enjoy
our freedom while we may. We still have some collections of paintings to
examine--here are some splendid pictures of Rembrandt and Rubens to
be sold. Then, last of all, I have an important piece of business to
transact with the great banker, Witte, on whom I have a draft. You know
that Madame Blaken is expensive, and the picture-dealers will not trust
our honest faces; we must show them hard cash.”

“Does your--Shall I not go to the bankers and draw the money?” said
Balby. “Oh no, I find it pleasant to serve myself, to be my own master
and servant at the same time. Allow me this rare pleasure for a few
hours longer, Balby.” The king took his friend’s arm, and recommenced
his search for paintings and treasures to adorn his gallery at
Sans-Souci. Everywhere he was received kindly and respectfully, for all
recognized them as purchasers, and not idle sight-seers. The dealers
appreciated the difference between idle enthusiasm and well-filled
purses.

The king understood this well, and on leaving the house of the last rich
merchant he breathed more freely, and said:

“I am glad that is over. The rudeness of the postmaster at Grave pleased
me better than the civilities of these people. Come, Balby, we have
bought pictures enough; now we will only admire them, enjoy without
appropriating them. The rich banker, Abramson, is said to have a
beautiful collection; we will examine them, and then have our draft
cashed.”

The banker’s splendid house was soon found, and the brothers entered the
house boldly, and demanded of the richly-dressed, liveried servant to be
conducted to the gallery.

“This is not the regular day,” said the servant, with a contemptuous
shrug of the shoulders, as he measured the two strangers.

“Not the day! What day?” asked the king, sharply.

“Not the day of general exhibition. You must wait until next Tuesday.”

“Impossible, we leave to-morrow. Go to your master and tell him two
strangers wish to see his gallery, and beg it may be opened for them.”

There was something so haughty and irresistible in the stranger’s
manner, that the servant not daring to refuse, and still astonished
at his own compliance, went to inform his master of the request. He
returned in a few moments, and announced that his master would come
himself to receive them.

The door opened immediately, and Mr. Abramson stepped into the hall; his
face, bright and friendly, darkened when his black eyes fell upon the
two strangers standing in the hall.

“You desired to speak to me,” he said, in the arrogant tone that the
rich Jews are accustomed to use when speaking to unknown and poor
people. “What is your wish, sirs?”

The king’s brow darkened, and he looked angrily at the supercilious man
of fortune, who was standing opposite him, with his head proudly thrown
back, and his hands in his pockets. But Frederick’s countenance soon
cleared, and he said, with perfect composure:

“We wish you to show us your picture-gallery, sir.”

The tone in which he spoke was less pleading than commanding, and roused
the anger of the easily enraged parvenu.

“Sir, I have a picture-gallery, arranged for my own pleasure and paid
for with my own money. I am very willing to show it to all who have
not the money to purchase pictures for themselves, and to satisfy the
curiosity of strangers, I have set aside a day in each week on which to
exhibit my gallery.”

“You mean, then, sir, that you will not allow us to enter your museum?”
 said the king, smilingly, and laying his hand at the same time softly on
Balby’s arm, to prevent him from speaking.

“I mean that my museum is closed, and--”

A carriage rolled thunderingly to the door; the outer doors of the
hall were hastily opened, a liveried servant entered, and stepping
immediately to Mr. Abramson, he said:

“Lord Middlestone, of Loudon, asks the honor of seeing your gallery.”

The countenance of the Jewish banker beamed with delight.

“Will his excellency have the graciousness to enter? I consider it an
honor to show him my poor treasures. My gallery is closed to-day, but
for Lord Middlestone, I will open it gladly.”

His contemptuous glance met the two poor musicians, who had stepped
aside, and were silent witnesses of this scene.

The outer doors of the court were opened noisily, and a small,
shrivelled human form, assisted by two servants, staggered into the
hall. It was an old man, wrapped in furs; this was his excellency
Lord Middlestone. Mr. Abramson met him with a profound bow, and sprang
forward to the door that led to the gallery.

Every eye was fixed upon this sad picture of earthly pomp and greatness;
all felt the honor to the house of Mr. Abramson. Lord Middlestone, the
ambassador of the King of England, desired to see his collection. This
was an acknowledgment of merit that delighted the heart of the banker,
and added a new splendor to his house.

While the door was being opened to admit his lordship, Balby and the
king left the house unnoticed.

The king was angry, and walked silently along for a time; suddenly
remaining standing, he gazed steadily at Balby, and broke out into a
loud, merry laugh, that startled the passers-by, and made them look
wonderingly after him.

“Balby, my friend,” he said, still laughing, “I will tell you something
amusing. Never in my life did I feel so humble and ashamed as when his
excellency entered the gallery so triumphantly, and we slipped away so
quietly from the house. Truly, I was fool enough to be angry at first,
but I now feel that the scene was irresistibly comic. Oh! oh, Balby! do
laugh with me. Think of us, who imagine ourselves to be such splendidly
handsome men, being shown the door, and that horrid shrunken, diseased
old man being received with such consideration! He smelt like a
salve-box, we are odorous with ambrosia; but all in vain, Abramson
preferred the salve-box.”

“Abramson’s olfactories are not those of a courtier,” said Balby, “or he
would have fainted at the odor of royalty. But truly, this Mr. Abramson
is a disgraceful person, and I beg your majesty to avenge Mr. Zoller.”

“I shall do so. He deserves punishment; he has insulted me as a man; the
king will punish him.” [Footnote: The king kept his word. The Jew heard
afterward that it was the king whom he had treated so disrespectfully,
and here could never obtain his forgiveness. He was not allowed to
negotiate with the Prussian government or banks, and was thus bitterly
punished for his misconduct.]

“And now we will have our check cashed by Mr. Witte. I bet he will not
dismiss us so curtly, for my draft is for ten thousand crowns, and he
will be respectful--if not to us, to our money.”

The worthy and prosperous Madame Witte had just finished dusting and
cleaning her state apartment, and was giving it a last artistic survey.
She smiled contentedly, and acknowledged that there was nothing more to
be done. The mirrors and windows were of transparent brightness--no dust
was seen on the silk furniture or the costly ornaments--it was perfect.
With a sad sigh Madame Witte left the room and locked the door with
almost a feeling of regret. She must deny herself for the next few days
her favorite occupation--there was nothing more to dust or clean in the
apartment and only in this room was her field of operation--only here
did her husband allow her to play the servant. With this exception he
required of her to be the lady of the house--the noble wife of the rich
banker--and this was a role that pleased the good woman but little.
She locked the door with a sigh and drew on her shoes, which she
was accustomed always to leave in the hall before entering her state
apartment, then stepped carefully on the border of the carpet that
covered the hall to another door. At this moment violent ringing was
heard at the front door. Madame Witte moved quickly forward to follow
the bent of her womanly curiosity and see who desired admittance at this
unusual hour. Two strangers had already entered the hall and desired to
see the banker.

“Mr. Witte is not at home, and if your business is not too pressing,
call again early to-morrow morning.”

“But my business is pressing,” said Frederick Zoller, hastily, “I must
speak with Mr. Witte to-day.”

“Can they wish to borrow money from him?” thought Madame Witte, who saw
the two strangers through the half-opened door.

“To borrow, or to ask credit, I am sure that is their business.”

“May I ask the nature of your business?” said the servant. “In order to
bring Mr. Witte from the Casino I must know what you wish of him.”

“I desire to have a draft of ten thousand crowns cashed,” said Frederick
Zoller, sharply.

The door was opened hastily, and Madame Witte stepped forward to greet
the stranger and his companion. “Have the kindness, gentlemen, to step
in and await my husband; he will be here in a quarter of an hour. Go,
Andres, for Mr. Witte.” Andres ran off, and Madame Witte accompanied the
strangers through the hall. Arrived at the door of the state apartment,
she quickly drew off her shoes, and then remained standing, looking
expectantly at the strangers.

“Well, madame,” said the king, “shall we await Mr. Witte before this
door, or will you show us into the next room?”

“Certainly I will; but I am waiting on you.”

“On us? And what do you expect of us?”

“What I have done, sirs--to take your shoes off.”

The king laughed aloud. “Can no one, then, enter that room with shoes
on?”

“Never, sir. It was a custom of my great-grandfather. He had this house
built, and never since then has any one entered it with shoes. Please,
therefore, take them off.”

Balby hastened to comply with her peremptory command. “Madame, it will
suffice you for me to follow this custom of your ancestors--you will
spare my brother this ceremony.”

“And why?” asked Madame Witte, astonished. “His shoes are no cleaner or
finer than yours, or those of other men. Have the kindness to take off
your shoes also.”

“You are right, madame,” said the king, seriously. “We must leave off
the old man altogether; therefore, you ask but little in requiring us to
take off our shoes before entering your state apartment.” He stooped to
undo the buckles of his shoes, and when Balby wished to assist him, he
resisted. “No, no; you shall not loosen my shoes--you are too worthy for
that. Madame Witte might think that I am a very assuming person--that
I tyrannize over my brother. There, madame, the buckles are undone, and
there lie my shoes, and now we are ready to enter your state apartment.”

Madame Witte opened the door with cold gravity, and allowed them to
pass. “To-morrow I can dust again,” she said, gleefully, “for the
strangers’ clothes are very dirty.”

In the mean time, the two strangers awaited the arrival of Mr. Witte.
The king enjoyed his comic situation immensely. Balby looked anxiously
at the bare feet of the king, and said he should never have submitted to
Madame Witte’s caprice. The floor was cold, and the king might be taken
ill.

“Oh, no,” said Frederick, “I do not get sick so easily--my system can
stand severer hardships. We should be thankful that we have come off so
cheaply, for a rich banker like Witte in Amsterdam, is equal to the Pope
in Rome; and I do not think taking off our shoes is paying too dearly to
see the pope of Holland. Just think what King Henry IV. had to lay aside
before he could see the Pope of Rome--not only his shoes and stockings
and a few other articles, but his royalty and majesty. Madame Witte is
really for bearing not to require the same costume of us.”

The door behind them was opened hastily, and the banker Witte stepped
in. He advanced to meet them with a quiet smile, but suddenly checked
himself, and gazed with terror at the king.

“My God! his majesty the King of Prussia!” he stammered. “Oh! your
majesty! what an undeserved favor you are doing my poor house in
honoring it with your presence!”

“You know me, then?” said the king, smiling. “Well, I beg you may not
betray my incognito, and cash for Frederick Zoller this draft of ten
thousand crowns.”

He stepped forward to hand the banker the draft. Mr. Witte uttered a
cry of horror, and, wringing his hands, fell upon his knees. He had just
seen that the king was barefooted.

“Oh! your majesty! Mercy! mercy!” he pleaded. “Pardon my unhappy wife
who could not dream of the crime she was committing. Why did your
majesty consent to her insane demand? Why did you not peremptorily
refuse to take off your shoes?”

“Why? Well, ma foi, because I wished to spare the King of Prussia a
humiliation. I believe Madame Witte would rather have thrown me out of
the house than allowed me to enter this sacred room with my shoes on.”

“No, your majesty, no. She would--”

At this moment the door opened, and Madame Witte, drawn by the loud
voice of her husband, entered the room.

“Wife!” he cried, rising, “come forward; fall on your knees and plead
for forgiveness.”

“What have I done?” she asked, wonderingly.

“You compelled this gentleman to take off his shoes at the door.”

“Well, and what of that?”

“Well,” said Mr. Witte, solemnly, as he laid his arm upon his wife’s
shoulder and tried to force her to her knees, “this is his majesty the
King of Prussia!”

But the all-important words had not the expected effect. Madame Witte
remained quietly standing, and looked first upon her own bare feet and
then curiously at the king.

“Beg the king’s pardon for your most unseemly conduct,” said Witte.

“Why was it unseemly?” asked his better-half. “Do I not take off my
shoes every time I enter this room? The room is mine, and does not
belong to the King of Prussia.”

Witte raised his hands above his head in despair. The king laughed
loudly and heartily.

“You see I was right, sir,” he said. “Only obedience could spare the
King of Prussia a humiliation. [Footnote: The king’s own words. See
Nicolai’s “anecdotes of Frederick the Great, “collection V., P.31] But
let us go to your business room and arrange our moneyed affairs. There,
madame, I suppose you will allow me to put on my shoes.”

Without a word, Mr. Witte rushed from the room for the king’s shoes, and
hastened to put them, not before the king, but before the door that led
into his counting room.

With a gay smile, the king stepped along the border of the carpet to his
shoes, and let Balby put them on for him.

“Madame,” he said, “I see that you are really mistress in your own
house, and that you are obeyed, not from force, but from instinct. God
preserve you your strong will and your good husband!”

“Now,” said the king, after they had received the money and returned
to the hotel, “we must make all our arrangements to return to-morrow
morning early--our incognito is over! Mr. Witte promised not to betray
us, but his wife is not to be trusted; therefore, by to-morrow morning,
the world will know that the King of Prussia is in Amsterdam. Happily,
Mr. Witte does not know where I am stopping. I hope to be undisturbed
to-day, but by to-morrow this will be impossible.”

The king prophesied aright: Madame Witte was zealously engaged in
telling her friends the important news that the King of Prussia had
visited her husband, and was now in Amsterdam.

The news rolled like an avalanche from house to house, from street to
street, and even reached the major’s door, who, in spite of the lateness
of the hour, called a meeting of the magistrates, and sent policemen to
all the hotels to demand a list of the strangers who had arrived during
the last few days. In order to greet the king, they must first find him.

Early the next morning, a simple caleche, with two horses, stood at
the hotel of the “Black Raven.” The brothers Zoller were about to leave
Amsterdam, and, to Madame Blaken’s astonishment, they not only paid
their bill without murmuring, but left a rich douceur for the servants.
The hostess stepped to the door to bid them farewell, and nodded kindly
as they came down the steps. Their servant followed with the little
carpet-bag and the two music-cases.

When Deesen became aware of the presence of the hostess, and the two
head-servants, he advanced near to the king.

“Your majesty, may I now speak?” he murmured.

“Not yet,” said the king, smiling, “wait until we are in the carriage.”

He descended the steps, with a friendly nod to the hostess. Balby and
himself left the house.

“See, my friend, how truly I prophesied,” he said, as he pointed down
the street; “let us get in quickly, it is high time to be off; see the
crowd advancing.”

Frederick was right; from the end of the street there came a long
procession of men, headed by the two mayors, dressed in black robes,
trimmed with broad red bands. They were followed by the senators,
clothed in the same manner. A great number of the rich aristocrats of
the city accompanied them.

Madame Blaken had stepped from the house, and was looking curiously at
the approaching crowd, and while she and her maids were wondering what
this could mean, the two Mr. Zollers entered the carriage, and their
servant had mounted the box. “May I speak now?” said Deesen, turning to
the king.

“Yes, speak,” said the king, “but quickly, or the crowd will take your
secret from you.”

“Hostess!” cried Deesen, from the box, “do you know what that crowd
means?”

“No,” she said, superciliously.

“I will explain; listen, madame. The magistrates are coming to greet the
King of Prussia!”

“The King of Prussia!” shrieked the hostess. “Where is the King of
Prussia?”

“Here!” cried Deesen, with a malicious grin, as he pointed to the king,
“and I am his majesty’s cabinet-hussar! Forward, postilion!--quick,
forward!”

The postilion whipped his horses, and the carriage dashed by the mayors
and senators, who were marching to greet the King of Prussia. They never
dreamed that he had just passed mischievously by them.

Two days later, the king and his companions stood on the Prussian
border, on the spot where, in the beginning of their journey, the king
had written the words “majesty” and “sire.”

“Look!” he said, pointing to the ground, “the two fatal words have
not vanished away; the sun has hardened the ground, and they are still
legible. I must lift them from the sand, and wear them henceforth and
forever. Give me your hand, Balby; the poor musician, Frederick Zoller,
will bid farewell to his friend, and not only to you, Balby, but
farewell also to my youth. This is my last youthful adventure. Now, I
shall grow old and cold gracefully. One thing I wish to say before I
resume my royalty; confidentially, I am not entirely displeased with the
change. It seems to me difficult to fill the role of a common man. Men
do not seem to love and trust each other fully; a man avenges himself
on an innocent party for the wrongs another has committed. Besides, I do
not rightly understand the politenesses of common life, and, therefore,
received many reproaches. I believe, on the whole, it is easier to
bestow than to receive them. Therefore, I take up my crown willingly.”

“Will your majesty allow me a word?” said Deesen, stepping forward.

“Speak, Deesen.”

“I thank Mr. Zoller for saving my life. As true as God lives, I should
have stifled with rage if I had not told that haughty Hollander who Mr.
Zoller was and who I was.”

“Now, forward! Farewell, Frederick Zoller! Now I am on Prussian soil,
the hour of thoughtless happiness is passed. I fear, Balby, that the
solemn duties of life will soon take possession of us. So be it! I
accept my destiny--I am again Frederick of Hohenzollern!”

“And I have the honor to be the first to greet your majesty on your own
domain,” said Balby, as he bowed profoundly before the king.



BOOK II.



CHAPTER I. THE UNHAPPY NEWS.


The Princess Amelia was alone in her room. She was stretched upon a
sofa, lost in deep thought; her eyes were raised to heaven, and her
lips trembled; from time to time they murmured a word of complaint or of
entreaty.

Amelia was ill. She had been ill since that unhappy day in which
she intentionally destroyed her beauty to save herself from a hated
marriage.[Footnote: See “Berlin and Sans-Souci.”] Her eyes had never
recovered their glance or early fire; they were always inflamed and
veiled by tears. Her voice had lost its metallic ring and youthful
freshness; it sounded from her aching and hollow chest like sighs from a
lonely grave.

Severe pain from time to time tortured her whole body, and contracted
her limbs with agonizing cramps. She had the appearance of a woman of
sixty years of age, who was tottering to the grave.

In this crushed and trembling body dwelt a strong, powerful, healthy
soul; this shrunken, contracted bosom was animated by a youthful,
ardent, passionate heart. This heart had consecrated itself to the love
of its early years with an obstinate and feverish power.

In wild defiance against her fate, Amelia had sworn never to yield,
never to break faith; to bear all, to suffer all for her love, and to
press onward with unshaken resignation but never-failing courage through
the storms and agonies of a desolate, misunderstood, and wretched
existence. She was a martyr to her birth and her love; she accepted this
martyrdom with defiant self-reliance and joyful resignation.

Years had passed since she had seen Trenck, but she loved him still!
She knew he had not guarded the faith they had mutually sworn with the
constancy that she had religiously maintained; but she loved him
still! She had solemnly sworn to her brother to give up the foolish and
fantastic wish of becoming the wife of Trenck; but she loved him still!
She might not live for him, but she would suffer for him; she could not
give him her hand, but she could consecrate thought and soul to him. In
imagination she was his, only his; he had a holy, an imperishable right
to her. Had she not sworn, in the presence of God, to be his through
life down to the borders of the grave? Truly, no priest had blessed
them; God had been their priest, and had united them. There had been
no mortal witness to their solemn oaths, but the pure stars were
present--with their sparkling, loving eyes they had looked down and
listened to the vows she had exchanged with Trenck. She was therefore
his--his eternally! He had a sacred claim upon her constancy, her love,
her forbearance, and her forgiveness. If Trenck had wandered from his
faith, she dared not follow his example; she must be ever ready to
listen to his call, and give him the aid he required.

Amelia’s love was her religion, her life’s strength, her life’s object;
it was a talisman to protect and give strength in time of need. She
would have died without it; she lived and struggled with her grief only
for his sake.

This was a wretched, joyless existence--a never-ending martyrdom, a
never-ceasing contest. Amelia stood alone and unloved in her family,
feared and avoided by all the merry, thoughtless, pleasure seeking
circle. In her sad presence they shuddered involuntarily and felt
chilled, as by a blast from the grave. She was an object of distrust and
weariness to her companions and servants, an object of love and frank
affection to no one.

Mademoiselle Ernestine von Haak had alone remained true to her; but she
had married, and gone far away with her husband. Princess Amelia was
now alone; there was no one to whom she could express her sorrow and her
fears; no one who understood her suppressed agony, or who spoke one word
of consolation or sympathy to her broken heart.

She was alone in the world, and the consciousness of this steeled her
strength, and made an impenetrable shield for her wearied soul. She gave
herself up entirety to her thoughts and dreams. She lived a strange,
enchanted, double life and twofold existence. Outwardly, she was
old, crushed, ill; her interior life was young, fresh, glowing, and
energetic, endowed with unshaken power, and tempered in the fire of
her great grief. Amelia lay upon the divan and looked dreamily toward
heaven. A strange and unaccountable presentiment was upon her; she
trembled with mysterious forebodings. She had always felt thus when any
new misfortunes were about to befall Trenck. It seemed as if her soul
was bound to his, and by means of an electric current she felt the blow
in the same moment that it fell upon him.

The princess believed in these presentiments. She had faith in dreams
and prophecies, as do all those unhappy beings to whom fate has
denied real happiness, and who seek wildly in fantastic visions for
compensation. She loved, therefore, to look into the future through
fortune-tellers and dark oracles, and thus prepare herself for the sad
events which lay before her. The day before, the renowned astrologer
Pfannenstein had warned her of approaching peril; he declared that a
cloud of tears was in the act of bursting upon her! Princess Amelia
believed in his words, and waited with a bold, resolved spirit for the
breaking of the cloud, whose gray veil she already felt to be round
about her.

These sad thoughts were interrupted by a light knock upon the door,
and her maid entered and announced that the master of ceremonies, Baron
Pollnitz, craved an audience.

Amelia shuddered, but roused herself quickly. “Let him enter!” she said,
hastily. The short moment of expectation seemed an eternity of anguish.
She pressed her hands upon her heart, to still its stormy beatings;
she looked with staring, wide-opened eyes toward the door through
which Pollnitz must enter, and she shuddered as she looked upon the
ever-smiling, immovable face of the courtier, who now entered her
boudoir, with Mademoiselle von Marwitz at his side.

“Do you know, Pollnitz,” said she, in a rough, imperious tone--“do you
know I believe your face is not flesh and blood, but hewn from stone;
or, at least, one day it was petrified? Perhaps the fatal hour struck
one day, just as you were laughing over some of your villainies, and
your smile was turned to stone as a judgment. I shall know this look as
long as I live; it is ever most clearly marked upon your visage, when
you have some misfortune to announce.”

“Then this stony smile must have but little expression to-day, for I do
not come as a messenger of evil tidings; but if your royal highness will
allow me to say so, as a sort of postillon d’amour.”

Amelia shrank back for a moment, gave one glance toward Mademoiselle von
Marwitz, whom she knew full well to be the watchful spy of her mother,
and whose daily duty it was to relate to the queen-mother every thing
which took place in the apartment of the princess. She knew that every
word and look of Pollnitz was examined with the strictest attention.

Pollnitz, however, spoke on with cool self-possession:

“You look astonished, princess; it perhaps appears to you that this
impassive face is little suited to the role of postillon d’amour, and
yet that is my position, and I ask your highness’s permission to make
known my errand.”

“I refuse your request,” said Amelia, roughly; “I have nothing to do
with Love, and find his godship as old and dull as the messenger he has
sent me. Go back, then, to your blind god, and tell him that my ears
are deaf to his love greeting, and the screeching of the raven is more
melodious than the tenderest words a Pollnitz can utter.”

The princess said this in her most repulsive tone. She was accustomed
to shield herself in this rude manner from all approach or contact, and,
indeed, she attained her object. She was feared and avoided. Her witty
bon mots and stinging jests were repeated and merrily laughed over, but
the world knew that she scattered her sarcasms far and wide, in order
to secure her isolation; to banish every one from her presence, so that
none might hear her sighs, or read her sad history in her countenance.

“And yet, princess, I must still implore a hearing,” said he, with
imperturbable good-humor; “if my voice is rough as the raven’s, your
royal highness must feed me with sugar, and it will become soft and
tender as an innocent maiden’s.”

“I think a few ducats would be better for your case,” said Amelia; “a
Pollnitz is not to be won with sweets, but for gold he would follow the
devil to the lower regions.”

“You are right, princess; I do not wish to go to heaven, but be low;
there I am certain to find the best and most interesting society. The
genial people are all born devils, and your highness has ever confessed
that I am genial. Then let it be so! I will accept the ducats which your
royal highness think good for me, and now allow me to discharge my
duty. I come as the messenger of Prince Henry: He sends his heart-felt
greetings to his royal sister, and begs that she will do him the honor
to attend fete at Rheinsberg, which will take place in eight days.”

“Has the master of ceremonies of the king become the fourrier of Prince
Henry?” said Amelia.

“No, princess; I occasionally and accidentally perform the function of a
fourrier. This invitation was not my principal object to-day.”

“I knew it,” said Amelia, ironically. “My brother Henry does not love me
well enough to invite me to this fete, if he had not some other object
to attain. Well, what does Prince Henry wish?”

“A small favor, your royal highness; he wishes, on the birthday of his
wife, to have Voltaire’s ‘Rome Sauvee’ given by the French tragedians.
Some years since your highness had a great triumph in this piece. The
prince remembers that Voltaire prepared the role of Aurelia especially
for you, with changes and additions, and he entreats you, through me,
the temporary Directeur des spectacles de Rheinsberg, to lend him this
role for the use of his performer.”

“Why does not my brother rather entreat me to take this part myself?”
 said Amelia, in cruel mockery over herself. “It appears to me I could
look the part of Aurelia, and my soft, flute-like voice would make a
powerful impression upon the public. It is cruel of Prince Henry to
demand this role of me; it might be inferred that he thought I had
become old and ugly.”

“Not so, your highness; the tragedy is to be performed on this occasion
by public actors, and not by amateurs.”

“You are right,” said Amelia, suddenly becoming grave; “at that time
we were amateurs, lovers of the drama; our dreams are over--we live in
realities now.”

“Mademoiselle von Marwitz, have the goodness to bring the manuscript my
brother wishes; it is partly written by Voltaire’s own hand. You will
find it in the bureau in my dressing-room.”

Mademoiselle Marwitz withdrew to get the manuscript; as she left the
room, she looked back suspiciously at Pollnitz and, as if by accident,
left the door open which led to the dressing-room.

Mademoiselle Marwitz had scarcely disappeared, before Pollnitz sprang
forward, with youthful agility, and closed the door.

“Princess, this commission of Prince Henry’s was only a pretext. I took
this order from the princess’s maitre d’hotel in order to approach your
highness unnoticed, and to get rid of the watchful eyes of your Marwitz.
Now listen well; Weingarten, the Austrian secretary of Legation, was
with me to-day.”

“Ah, Weingarten,” murmured the princess, tremblingly; “he gave you a
letter for me; quick, quick, give it to me.”

“No, he gave me no letter; it appears that he, who formerly sent
letters, is no longer in the condition to do so.”

“He is dead!” cried Amelia with horror, and sank back as if struck by
lightning.

“No, princess, he is not dead, but in great danger. It appears that
Weingarten is in great need of money; for a hundred louis d’or, which
I promised him, he confided to me that Trenck’s enemies had excited the
suspicions of the king against him, and declared that Trenck had designs
against the life of Frederick.”

“The miserable liars and slanderers!” cried Amelia, contemptuously.

“The king, as it appears, believes in these charges; he has written to
his resident minister to demand of the senate of Dantzic the delivery of
Trenck.”

“Trenck is not in Dantzic, but in Vienna.”

“He is in Dantzic--or, rather, he was there.”

“And now?”

“Now,” said Pollnitz, solemnly, “he is on the way to Konigsberg;
from that point he will be transported to some other fortress; first,
however, he will be brought to Berlin.”

The unhappy princess uttered a shriek, which sounded like a wild
death-cry. “He is, then, a prisoner?”

“Yes; but, on his way to prison, so long as he does not cross the
threshold of the fortress, it is possible to deliver him. Weingarten,
who, it appears to me, is much devoted to your highness, has drawn for
me the plan of the route, Trenck is to take. Here it is.” He handed the
princess a small piece of paper, which she seized with trembling hands,
and read hastily.

“He comes through Coslin,” said she, joyfully; “that gives a chance
of safety in Coslin! The Duke of Wurtemberg, the friend of my youthful
days, is in Coslin; he will assist me. Pollnitz, quick, quick, find me a
courier who will carry a letter to the duke for me without delay.”

“That will be difficult, if not impossible,” said Pollnitz,
thoughtfully.

Amelia sprang from her seat; her eyes had the old fire, her features
their youthful expression and elasticity.

The power and ardor of her soul overcame the weakness of her body; it
found energy and strength.

“Well, then,” said she, decisively, and even her voice was firm and
soft, “I will go myself; and woe to him who dares withhold me! I have
been ordered to take sea-baths. I will go this hour to Coslin for that
purpose! but no, no, I cannot travel so rashly. Pollnitz, you must find
me a courier.”

“I will try,” said Pollnitz. “One can buy all the glories of this world
for gold; and, I think, your highness will not regard a few louis d’or,
more or less.”

“Find me a messenger, and I will pay every hour of his journey with a
gold piece.”

“I will send my own servant, in half an hour he shall be ready.”

“God be thanked! it will then, be possible to save him. Let me write
this letter at once, and hasten your messenger. Let him fly as if he
had wings--as if the wild winds of heaven bore him onward. The sooner he
brings me the answer of the duke, the greater shall be his reward. Oh,
I will reward him as if I were a rich queen, and not a poor, forsaken,
sorrowful princess.”

“Write, princess, write,” cried Pollnitz, eagerly: “but not have the
goodness to give me the hundred louis d’or before Mademoiselle Marwitz
returns. I promised them to Weingarten for his news; you can add to them
the ducats you were graciously pleased to bestow upon me.”

Amelia did not reply; she stepped to the table and wrote a few lines,
which she handed to Pollnitz.

“Take this,” said she, almost contemptuously; “it is a draft upon my
banker, Orguelin. I thank you for allowing your services to be paid
for; it relieves me from all call to gratitude. Serve me faithfully in
future, and you shall ever find my hand open and my purse full. And now
give me time to write to the duke, and--”

“Princess, I hear Mademoiselle Marwitz returning!”

Amelia left the writing-table hastily, and advanced to the door through
which Mademoiselle Marwitz must enter.

“Ah, you are come at last,” said she, as the door opened. “I was about
to seek you. I feared you could not find the paper.”

“It was very difficult to find amongst such a mass of letters and
papers,” said Mademoiselle Marwitz, whose suspicious glance was now
wandering round the room. “I succeeded, however, at last; here is the
manuscript, your highness.”

The princess took it and examined it carefully. “Ah, I thought so,” she
said. “A monologue which Voltaire wrote for me, is missing. I gave it
to the king, and I sec he has not returned it. I think my memory is the
only faculty which retains its power. It is my misfortune that I cannot
forget! I will test it to-day and try to write this monologue from
memory. I must be alone, however. I pray you, mademoiselle, to go
into the saloon with Pollnitz; he can entertain you with the Chronique
Scandaleuse of our most virtuous court, while I am writing.--And now,”
 said she, when she found herself alone, “may God give me power to reach
the heart of the duke, and win him to my purpose!”

With a firm hand she wrote:

“Because you are happy, duke, you will have pity for the wretched. For a
few days past, you have had your young and lovely wife at your side,
and experienced the pure bliss of a happy union; you will therefore
comprehend the despair of those who love as fondly, and can never be
united. And now, I would remind you of a day on which it was in my power
to obtain for you a great favor from my brother the king. At that time
you promised me to return this service tenfold, should it ever be in
your power, and you made me promise, if I should ever need assistance,
to turn to you alone! My hour has come! I need your help; not for
myself! God and death alone can help me. I demand your aid for a man who
is chained with me to the galleys. You know him--have mercy upon him!
Perhaps he will arrive at your court in the same hour with my letter.
Duke, will you be the jailer of the wretched and the powerless, who is
imprisoned only because I am the daughter of a king? Are your officers
constables? will you allow them to cast into an eternal prison him for
whom I have wept night and day for many long years?”

“Oh, my God! My God! you have given wings to the birds of the air; you
have given to the horse his fiery speed; you have declared that man is
the king of creation; you have marked upon his brow the seal of freedom,
and this is his holiest possession. Oh, friend, will you consent that a
noble gentleman, who has nothing left but his freedom, shall be unjustly
deprived of it! Duke, I call upon you! Be a providence for my unhappy
friend, and set him at liberty. And through my whole life long I will
bless and honor you! AMELIA.”

“If he does not listen to this outcry of my soul,” she whispered, as she
folded and sealed the letter--“if he has the cruelty to let me plead in
vain, then in my death-hour I will curse him, and charge him with being
the murderer of my last hope!”

The princess called Pollnitz, and, with an expressive glance, she handed
him the letter.

“Truly, my memory has not failed me,” she said to Mademoiselle Marwitz,
who entered behind Pollnitz, and whose sharp eyes were fixed upon
the letter in the baron’s hand. “I have been able to write the whole
monologue. Give this paper to my brother, Pollnitz; I have added a
few friendly lines, and excused myself for declining the invitation. I
cannot see this drama.”

“Well, it seems to me I have made a lucrative affair of this,” said
Pollnitz to himself, as he left the princess. “I promised Weingarten
only fifty louis d’or, so fifty remain over for myself, without counting
the ducats which the princess intends for me. Besides, I shall be no
such fool as to give my servant, who steals from me every day, the
reward the princess has set apart for him; and if I give him outside
work to do, it is my opportunity; he is my slave, and the reward is
properly mine.”

“Listen, John!” Said Pollnitz to his servant, as he entered his
apartment. Poor John was, at the same time, body-servant, jockey, and
coachman. “Listen; do you know exactly how much you have loaned me?”

“To a copper, your excellency,” said John, joyfully. Poor John
thought that the hour of settlement had come. “Your excellency owes me
fifty-three thalers, four groschen, and five pennies.”

“Common soul,” cried Pollnitz, shrugging his shoulders contemptuously,
“to be able to keep in remembrance such pitiful things as groschen and
coppers. Well, I have a most pressing and important commission for
you. You must saddle your horse immediately, and hasten to deliver this
letter to the Duke of Wurtemberg. You must ride night and day and not
rest till you arrive and deliver this packet into the duke’s own hands.
I will then allow you a day’s rest for yourself and horse; your return
must be equally rapid. If you are here again in eight days, I will
reward you royally.”

“That is to say, your excellency--” said John, in breathless
expectation.

“That is to say, I will pay you half the sum I owe you, if you are here
in eight days; if you are absent longer, you will get only a third.”

“And if I return a day earlier?” Said John, sighing.

“I will give you a few extra thalers as a reward,” said Pollnitz.

“But your excellency will, besides this, give me money for the journey,”
 said John, timidly.

“Miserable, shameless beggar!” Cried Pollnitz; “always demanding more
than one is willing to accord you. Learn from your noble master that
there is nothing more pitiful, more sordid than gold, and that those
only are truly noble, who serve others for honor’s sake, and give no
thought to reward.”

“But, your grace, I have already the honor to have lent you all my
money. I have not even a groschen to buy food for myself and horse on
our journey.”

“As for your money, sir, it is, under all circumstances, much safer with
me than with you. You would surely spend it foolishly, while I will
keep it together. Besides this, there is no other way to make servants
faithful and submissive but to bind them to you by the miserable bond of
selfishness. You would have left me a hundred times, if you had not been
tied down by your own pitiful interests. You know well that if you leave
me without my permission, the law allows me to punish you, by giving the
money I owe you to the poor. But enough of foolish talking! Make ready
for the journey; in half an hour you must leave Berlin behind you. I
will give you a few thalers to buy food. Now, hasten! Remember, if you
remain away longer than eight days, I will give you only a third of the
money I am keeping for you.”

This terrible threat had its effect upon poor John.

In eight days Pollnitz sought the princess, and with a triumphant
glance, slipped a letter into her hand, which read thus:

“I thank you, princess, that you have remembered me, and given me an
opportunity to aid the unhappy. You are right. God made man to be free.
I am no jailer, and my officers are not constables. They have, indeed,
the duty to conduct the unhappy man who has been for three days the
guest of my house, farther on toward the fortress, but his feet and his
hands shall be free, and if he takes a lesson from the bird in velocity,
and from the wild horse in speed, his present escape will cost him less
than his flight from Glatz. My officers cannot be always on the watch,
and God’s world is large; it is impossible to guard every point. My
soldiers accompany him to the brook Coslin. I commend the officer who
will be discharged for neglect of duty to your highness. FERDINAND.”

“He will have my help and my eternal gratitude,” whispered Amelia; she
then pressed the letter of the duke passionately to her lips. “Oh, my
God! I feel to-day what I have never before thought possible, that one
can be happy without happiness. If fate will be merciful, and not thwart
the noble purpose of Duke Ferdinand, from this time onward I will never
murmur--never complain. I will demand nothing of the future; never more
to see him, never more to hear from him, only that he may be free and
happy.”

In the joy of her heart she not only fulfilled her promise to give the
messenger a gold piece for every hour of his journey, but she added a
costly diamond pin for Pollnitz, which the experienced baron, even while
receiving it from the trembling hand of the princess, valued at fifty
louis d’or.

The baron returned with a well-filled purse and a diamond pin to his
dwelling, and with imposing solemnity he called John into his boudoir.

“John,” said he, “I am content with you. You have promptly fulfilled
my commands. You returned the seventh day, and have earned the extra
thalers. As for your money, how much do I owe you?”

“Fifty-three thalers, four groschen, and five pennies.”

“And the half of this is--”

“Twenty-seven thalers, fourteen groschen, two and a half pennies,” said
John, with a loudly beating heart and an expectant smile. He saw that
the purse was well filled, and that his master was taking out the gold
pieces.

“I will give you, including your extra guldens, twenty-eight thalers,
fourteen groschen, two and a half pennies.” said Pollnitz, laying
some gold pieces on the table. “Here are six louis d’or, or thirty-six
thalers in gold to reckon up; the fractions you claim are beneath my
dignity. Take them, John, they are yours.”

John uttered a cry of rapture, and sprang forward with outstretched
hands to seize his gold. He had succeeded in gathering up three louis
d’or, when the powerful hand of the baron seized him and held him back.

“John,” said he, “I read in your wild, disordered countenance that you
are a spendthrift, and this gold, which you have earned honestly,
will soon be wasted in boundless follies. It is my duty, as your
conscientious master and friend, to prevent this. I cannot allow you to
take all of this money--only one-half; only three louis d’or. I will put
the other three with the sum which I still hold, and take care of it for
you.”

With an appearance of firm principle and piety, he grasped the three
louis d’or upon which the sighing John fixed his tearful eyes.

“And now, what is the amount,” said Pollnitz, gravely, “which you have
placed in my hands for safe-keeping?”

“Thirty-two thalers, fourteen groschen, and five pennies,” said John;
“and then the fractions from the three louis d’ors makes a thaler and
eight groschen.”

“Pitiful miser! You dare to reckon fractions against your master,
who, in his magnanimity, has just presented, you with gold! This is a
meanness which merits exemplary punishment.”



CHAPTER II. TRENCK ON HIS WAY TO PRISON.


Before the palace of the Duke of Wurtemberg, in Coslin, stood the light,
open carriage in which the duke was accustomed to make excursions, when
inclined to carry the reins himself, and enjoy freedom and the pure,
fresh air, without etiquette and ceremony.

To-day, however, the carriage was not intended for an ordinary
excursion, but to transport a prisoner. This prisoner was no other than
the unhappy Frederick Trenck, whom the cowardly republic of Dantzic,
terrified at the menaces of the king, had delivered up to the Prussian
police.

The intelligence of his unhappy fate flew like a herald before him.
He was guarded by twelve hussars, and the sad procession was received
everywhere throughout the journey with kindly sympathy. All exerted
themselves to give undoubted proofs of pity and consideration. Even
the officers in command, who sat by him in the carriage, and who were
changed at every station, treated him as a loved comrade in arms, and
not as a state prisoner.

But while all sighed and trembled for him, Trenck alone was gay; his
countenance alone was calm and courageous. Not one moment, during the
three days he passed in the palace of the duke, was his youthful and
handsome face clouded by a single shadow. Not one moment did that happy,
cheerful manner, by which he won all hearts, desert him. At the table,
he was the brightest and wittiest; his amusing narratives, anecdotes,
and droll ideas made not only the duke, but the duchess and her maids,
laugh merrily. In the afternoons, in the saloon of the duchess, he
astonished and enraptured the whole court circle by improvising upon any
given theme, and by the tasteful and artistic manner in which he sang
the national ballads he had learned on his journeys through Italy,
Germany, and Russia. At other times, he conversed with the duke upon
philosophy and state policy; and he was amazed at the varied information
and wisdom of this young man, who seemed an experienced soldier and an
adroit diplomat, a profound statesman, and a learned historian. By his
dazzling talents, he not only interested but enchained his listeners.

The duke felt sadly that it was not possible to retain the prisoner
longer in Coslin. Three days of rest was the utmost that could be
granted Trenck, without exciting suspicion. He sighed, as he told Trenck
that his duty required of him to send him further on his dark journey.

Trenck received this announcement with perfect composure, with calm
self-possession. He took leave of the duke and duchess, and thanked them
gayly for their gracious reception.

“I hope that my imprisonment will be of short duration, and then your
highness will, I trust, allow me to return to you, and offer the thanks
of a free man.”

“May we soon meet again!” said the duke, and he looked searchingly upon
Trenck, as if he wished to read his innermost thoughts. “As soon as
you are free, come to me. I will not forsake you, no matter under what
circumstances you obtain your freedom.”

Had Trenck observed the last emphatic words of the duke, and did he
understand their meaning? The duke did not know. No wink of the eyelid,
not the slightest sign, gave evidence that Trenck had noticed their
significance. He bowed smilingly, left the room with a firm step, and
entered the carriage.

The duke called back the ordnance officer who was to conduct him to the
next station.

“You have not forgotten my command?” said he.

“No, your highness, I have not forgotten; and obedience is a joyful
duty, which I will perform punctually.”

“You will repeat this command, in my name, to the officer at the next
station, and commission him to have it repeated at every station where
my regiments are quartered. Every one shall give Trenck an opportunity
to escape, but silently; no word must be spoken to him on the subject.
It must depend upon him to make use of the most favorable moment. My
intentions toward him must be understood by him without explanations.
He who is so unfortunate as to allow the prisoner to escape, can only
be blamed for carelessness in duty. Upon me alone will rest the
responsibility to the King of Prussia. You shall proceed but five or six
miles each day; at this rate of travel it will take four days to reach
the last barracks of my soldiers, and almost the entire journey lies
through dark, thick woods, and solitary highways. Now go, and may God be
with you!”

The duke stepped to the window to see Trenck depart, and to give him a
last greeting.

“Well, if he is not at liberty in the next few days, it will surely
not be my fault,” murmured Duke Ferdinand, “and Princess Amelia cannot
reproach me.”

As Trenck drove from the gate, Duke Ferdinand turned thoughtfully away.
He was, against his will, oppressed by sad presentiments. For Trenck,
this journey over the highways in the light, open carriage, was actual
enjoyment. He inhaled joyfully the pure, warm, summer air--his eyes
rested with rapture upon the waving corn-fields, and the blooming,
fragrant meadows through which they passed. With gay shouts and songs
he seemed to rival the lark as she winged her way into the clouds above
him. He was innocent, careless, and happy as a child. The world of
Nature had been shut out from him in the dark, close carriage which
had brought him to Coslin; she greeted him now with glad smiles and
gay adorning. It seemed as if she were decorated for him with her most
odorous blossoms and most glorious sunshine--as if she sent her softest
breeze to kiss his cheek and whisper love--greetings in his ear. With
upturned, dreamy glance, he followed the graceful movements of the pure,
white clouds, and the rapid flight of the birds. Trenck was so happy in
even this appearance of freedom, that he mistook it for liberty.

The carriage rolled slowly over the sandy highways, and now entered a
wood. The sweet odor of the fir-trees drew from Trenck a cry of rapture.
He had felt the heat of the sun to be oppressive, and he now laid
his head back under the shadow of the thick trees with a feeling of
gladness.

“It will take us some hours to get through this forest,” said the
ordnance officer, “It is one of the thickest woods in this region,
and the terror of the police. The escaped prisoner who succeeds in
concealing himself here, may defy discovery. It is impossible to pursue
him in these dark, tangled woods, and a few hours conduct him to the
sea-shore, where there are ever small fishing-boats ready to receive
the fugitive and place him safely upon some passing ship. But excuse
me, sir! the sun has been blazing down so hotly upon my head that I feel
thoroughly wearied, and will follow the example of my coachman. Look!
he is fast asleep, and the horses are moving on of their own good-will.
Good-night, Baron Trenck.”

He closed his eyes, and in a short time his loud snores and the nodding
of his head from side to side gave assurance that he, also, was locked
in slumber.

Profound stillness reigned around. Trenck gave himself wholly to
the enjoyment of the moment. The peaceful stillness of the forest,
interrupted only at intervals by the snorting of the horses, the
sleepy chatter of the birds among the dark green branches, and the soft
rustling and whispering of the trees, filled him with delight.

“It is clear,” he said to himself, “that this arrest in Dantzic was
only a manoeuvre to terrify me. I rejected the proposal of the Prussian
ambassador in Vienna, to return to Berlin and enter again the Prussian
service, so the king wishes to punish and frighten me. This is a jest--a
comedy!--which the king is carrying on at my expense. If I were really
regarded as a deserter, as a prisoner for the crime of high treason, no
officer would dare to guard me so carelessly. In the beginning, I was
harshly treated, in order to alarm and deceive me, and truly those
twelve silent hussars, continually surrounding the closed carriage, had
rather a melancholy aspect, and I confess I was imposed upon. But the
mask has fallen, and I see behind the smiling, good-humored face of the
king. He loved me truly once, and was as kind as a father. The old love
has awakened and spoken in my favor. Frederick wishes to have me again
in Berlin--that is all; and he knows well that I can be of service to
him. He who has his spies everywhere, knows that no one else can give
him such definite information as to the intentions and plans of Russia
as I can--that no one knows so certainly what the preparations for war,
now going on throughout the whole of Russia, signify. Yes, yes: so it
is! Frederick will have me again in his service; he knows of my
intimacy with the all-powerful wife of Bestuchef; that I am in constant
correspondence with her, and in this way informed of all the plans
of the Russian government. [Footnote: Frederick Trenck’s “Memoirs.”]
Possibly, the king intends to send me as a secret ambassador to St.
Petersburg! That would, indeed, open a career to me, and bring me
exalted honor, and perhaps make that event possible which has heretofore
only floated before my dazzled sight like a dream-picture. Oh, Amelia!
noblest, most constant of women! could the dreams of our youth be
realized? If fate, softened by your tears and your heroic courage, would
at last unite you with him you have so fondly and so truly loved! Misled
by youth, presumption, and levity, I have sometimes trifled with my most
holy remembrances, sometimes seemed unfaithful; but my love to you has
never failed; I have worn it as a talisman about my heart. I have ever
worshipped you, I have ever hoped in you, and I will believe in you
always, if I doubt and despair of all others. Oh, Amelia! protecting
angel of my life! perhaps I may now return to you. I shall see you
again, look once more into your beauteous eyes, kneel humbly before you,
and receive absolution for my sins. They were but sins of the flesh, my
soul had no part in them. I will return to you, and live free, honored,
and happy by your side. I know this by the gracious reception of the
duke; I know it by the careless manner in which I am guarded. Before
the officer went to sleep he told me how securely a fugitive could hide
himself in these woods. I, however, have no necessity to hide myself; no
misfortune hovers over me, honor and gladness beckon me on. I will not
be so foolish as to fly; life opens to me new and flowery paths, greets
me with laughing hopes.” [Footnote: “Frederick Trenck’s Memoirs.”]

Wholly occupied with these thoughts, Trenck leaned back in the carriage
and gave himself up to bright dreams of the future. Slowly the horses
moved through the deep, white sand, which made the roll of the wheels
noiseless, and effaced instantaneously the footprints of men. The
officer still slept, the coachman had dropped the reins, and nodded
here and there as if intoxicated. The wood was drear and empty; no
human dwelling, no human face was seen. Had Trenck wished to escape,
one spring from the low, open carriage; a hundred hasty steps would have
brought him to a thicket where discovery was impossible; the carriage
would have rolled on quietly, and when the sleepers aroused themselves,
they would have had no idea of the direction Trenck had taken. The
loose and rolling sand would not have retained his footprints, and the
whispering trees would not have betrayed him.

Trenck would not fly; he was full of romance, faith, and hope; his
sanguine temper painted his future in enchanting colors. No, he would
not flee, he had faith in his star. Life’s earnest tragedy had yet for
him a smiling face, and life’s bitter truths seemed alluring visions.
No, the king only wished to try him; he wished to see if he could
frighten him into an effort to escape; he gave him the opportunity for
flight, but if he made use of it, he would be lost forever in the
eyes of Frederick, and his prospects utterly destroyed. If he bravely
suffered the chance of escape to pass by, and arrived in Berlin, to
all appearance a prisoner, the king would have the agreeable task of
undeceiving him, and Trenck would have shown conclusively that he had
faith in the king’s magnanimity, and gave himself up to him without
fear. He would have proved also that his conscience was clear, and that,
without flattering, he could yield himself to the judgment of the king.
No, Trenck would not fly. In Berlin, liberty, love, and Amelia awaited
him; he would lose all this by flight; it would all remain his if he did
not allow himself to be enticed by the flattering goddess, opportunity,
who now beckoned and nodded smilingly from behind every tree and every
thicket. Trenck withstood these enticements during three long days; with
careless indifference he passed slowly on through this lonely region;
in his arrogant blindness and self-confidence he did not observe the
careworn and anxious looks of the officers who conducted him; he did not
hear or understand the low, hesitating insinuations they dared to speak.

“This is your last resting-point,” said the officer who had conducted
him from the last station. “You will remain here this afternoon, and
early to-morrow morning the cavalry officer Von Halber will conduct you
to Berlin, where the last barracks of our regiment are to be found;
from that point the infantry garrison will take charge of your further
transportation.”

“I shall not make their duties difficult,” said Trenck, gayly. “You see
I am a good-natured prisoner; no Argus eyes are necessary, as I have no
intention to flee.”

The officer gazed into his calm, smiling face with amazement, and then
stepped out with the officer Von Halber, into whose house they had now
entered, to make known his doubts and apprehensions.

“Perhaps the opportunities which have been offered him have not been
sufficiently manifest,” said Von Halber. “Perhaps he has not regarded
them as safe, and he fears a failure. In that he is right; a vain
attempt at flight would be much more prejudicial to him than to yield
himself without opposition. Well, I will see that he has now a sure
chance to escape, and you may believe he will be cunning enough to take
advantage of it. You may say this much to his highness the duke.”

“But do not forget that the duke commanded us not to betray his
intention to prepare these opportunities by a single word. This course
would compromise the duke and all of us.”

“I understand perfectly,” said Von Halber; “I will speak eloquently by
deeds, and not with words.”

True to this intention, Von Halber, after having partaken of a gay
dinner with Trenck and several officers, left his house, accompanied by
all his servants.

“The horses must be exercised,” said he; and, as he was unmarried, no
one remained in the house but Trenck.

“You will be my house-guard for several hours,” said the officer to
Trenck, who was standing at the door as he drove off. “I hope no one
will come to disturb your solitude. My officers all accompany me, and I
have no acquaintance in this little village. You will be entirely alone,
and if, on my return, I find that you have disappeared in mist and
fog, I shall believe that ennui has extinguished you--reduced you to a
bodiless nothing.”

“Well, I think he must have understood that,” said Von Halber, as he
dashed down the street, followed by his staff. “He must be blind and
deaf if he does not flee from the fate before him.”

Trenck, alas, had not understood. He believed in no danger, and did not,
therefore, see the necessity for flight. He found this quiet, lonely
house inexpressibly wearisome. He wandered through the rooms, seeking
some object of interest, or some book which would enable him to pass
the tedious hours. The cavalry officer was a gallant and experienced
soldier, but he was no scholar, and had nothing to do with books.
Trenck’s search was in vain. Discontented and restless, he wandered
about, and at last entered the little court which led to the stable. A
welcome sound fell on his ears, and made his heart beat joyfully; with
rapid steps he entered the stable. Two splendid horses stood in
the stalls, snorting and stamping impatiently; they were evidently
riding-horses, for near them hung saddles and bridles. Their nostrils
dilated proudly as they threw their heads back to breathe the fresh
air which rushed in at the open door. It appeared to Trenck that their
flashing eyes were pleading to him for liberty and action.

“Poor beasts,” said he, stepping forward, and patting and caressing
them--“poor beasts, you also pine for liberty, and hope for my
assistance; but I cannot, I dare not aid you. Like you, I also am a
prisoner, and like you also, a prisoner to my will. If you would use
your strength, one movement of your powerful muscles would tear your
bonds asunder, and your feet would bear you swiftly like wings through
the air. If I would use the present opportunity, which beckons and
smiles upon me, it would be only necessary to spring upon your back and
dash off into God’s fair and lovely world. We would reach our goal, we
would be free, but we would both be lost; we would be recaptured, and
would bitterly repent our short dream of self-acquired freedom. It is
better for us both that we remain as we are; bound, not with chains laid
upon our bodies, but by wisdom and discretion.”

So saying, he smoothed tenderly the glossy throat of the gallant steed,
whose joyful neigh filled his heart with an inexplicable melancholy.

“I must leave you,” murmured he, shudderingly; “your lusty neighing
intoxicates my senses, and reminds me of green fields and fragrant
meadows; of the broad highways, and the glad feeling of liberty which
one enjoys when flying through the world on the back of a gallant steed.
No! No! I dare no longer look upon you; all my wisdom and discretion
might melt away, and I might be allured to seek for myself that freedom
which I must receive alone at the hands of the king, in Berlin.”

With hasty steps Trenck left the stable and returned to the house, where
he stretched himself upon the sofa, and gave himself up to dreamland. It
was twilight when Halber returned from his long ride.

“All is quiet and peaceful,” said he, as he entered the house. “The bird
has flown, this time; he found the opportunity favorable.”

With a contented smile, he entered his room, but his expression changed
suddenly, and his trembling lips muttered a soldier’s curse. There lay
Trenck in peaceful slumber; his handsome, youthful face was bright and
free from care, and those must be sweet dreams which floated around him,
for he smiled in his sleep.

“Poor fellow!” said Von Halber, shaking his head; “he must be mad, or
struck with blindness, and cannot see the yawning abyss at his feet.”
 He awakened Trenck, and asked him how he had amused himself, during the
long hours of solitude.

“I looked through all your house, and then entered the stables and
gladdened my heart by the sight of your beautiful horses.”

“Thunder and lightning! You have then seen my horses,” cried Halber,
thoroughly provoked. “Did no wish arise in your heart to mount one and
seek your liberty?”

Frederick Trenck smiled. “The wish, indeed, arose in my heart, but I
suppressed it manfully. Do you not see, dear Halber, that it would be
unthankful and unknightly to reward in this cowardly and contemptible
way the magnanimous confidence you have shown me.”

“Truly, you are an honorable gentleman,” cried Halber, greatly touched;
“I had not thought of that. It would not have been well to flee from my
house.”

“To-morrow he will fly,” thought the good-natured soldier, “when once
more alone--to-morrow, and the opportunity shall not be wanting.”

Von Halber left his house early in the morning to conduct his prisoner
to Berlin. No one accompanied them; no one but the coachman, who sat
upon the box and never looked behind him.

Their path led through a thick wood. Von Halber entertained the prisoner
as the lieutenant had done who conducted Trenck the day he left Coslin.
He called his attention to the denseness of the forest, and spoke of
the many fugitives who had concealed themselves there till pursuit was
abandoned. He then invited Trenck to get down and walk with him, near
the carriage.

As Trenck accepted the invitation, and strolled along by his side in
careless indifference, Von Halber suddenly observed that the ground was
covered with mushrooms.

“Let us gather a few,” said he; “the young wife of one of my friends
understands how to make a glorious dish of them, and if I take her a
large collection, she will consider it a kind attention. Let us take our
hats and handkerchiefs, and fill them. You will take the right path into
the wood, and I the left. In one hour we will meet here again.”

Without waiting for an answer, the good Halber turned to the left in
the wood, and was lost in the thicket. In an hour he returned to the
carriage, and found Trenck smilingly awaiting him.

He turned pale, and with an expression of exasperation, he exclaimed:

“You have not then lost yourself in the woods?”

“I have not lost myself,” said Trenck, quietly; “and I have gathered a
quantity of beautiful mushrooms.”

Trenck handed him his handkerchief, filled with small, round mushrooms.
Halber threw them with a sort of despair into the carriage, and then,
without saying one word, he mounted and nodded to Trenck to follow him.

“And now let us be off,” said he, shortly. “Coachman, drive on!”

He leaned back in the carriage, and with frowning brow he gazed up into
the heavens.

Slowly the carriage rolled through the sand, and it seemed as if the
panting, creeping horses shrank back from reaching their goal, the
boundary-line of the Wurtembergian dragoons. Trenck had followed his
companion’s example, and leaned back in the carriage. Halber was gloomy
and filled with dark forebodings. Trenck was gay and unembarrassed; not
the slightest trace of care or mistrust could be read in his features.

They moved onward silently. The air was fresh and pure, the heavens
clear; but a dark cloud was round about the path of this dazzled,
blinded young officer. The birds sang of it on the green boughs, hut
Trenck would not understand them. They sang of liberty and gladness;
they called to him to follow their example, and fly far from the haunts
of men! The dark wood echoed Fly! fly! in powerful organ-tones, but
Trenck took them for the holy hymns of God’s peaceful, sleeping world.
He heard not the trees, as with warning voices they bowed down and
murmured, Flee! flee! Come under our shadow, we will conceal you till
the danger be overpast’ Flee! flee! Misfortune, like a cruel vulture,
is floating over you--already her fangs are extended to grasp you. The
desert winds, in wild haste rushed by and covering this poor child of
sorrow with clouds of dust, whispered in his ear, Fly! fly!--follow my
example and rush madly backward! Misfortune advances to meet you, and a
river of tears flows down the path you are blindly following. Turn
your head and flee, before this broad, deep stream overtakes you. The
creaking wheels seemed to sob out. Fly! fly! we are rolling you onward
to a dark and eternal prison! Do you not hear the clashing of chains? Do
you not see the open grave at your feet? These are your chains!--that is
your grave, already prepared for the living, glowing heart! Fly! then,
fly! You are yet free to choose. The clouds which swayed on over the
heavens, traced in purple and gold the warning words, Fly! fly! or you
look upon us for the last time! Upon the anxious face of Von Halber was
also to be seen, Fly now, it is high time! I see the end of the wood!--I
see the first houses of Boslin. Fly! then, fly!--it is high time! Alas,
Trenck’s eyes were blinded, and his ears were filled with dust.

“Those whom demons will destroy, they first strike with blindness.”
 Trenck’s evil genius had blinded his eyes--his destruction was sure.
There remained no hope of escape. The carriage had reached the end of
the wood and rolled now over the chausse to Boslin.

But what means this great crowd before the stately house which is
decorated with the Prussian arms? What means this troop of soldiers
who with stern, frowning brows, surround the dark coach with the closed
windows?

“We are in Boslin,” said Von Halber, pointing toward the group of
soldiers. “That is the post-house, and, as you see, we are expected.”

For the first time Trenck was pale, and horror was written in his face.
“I am lost!” stammered he, completely overcome, and sinking back into
the carriage he cast a wild, despairing glance around him, and seized
the arm of Halber with a powerful hand.

“Be merciful, sir! oh, be merciful! Let us move more slowly. Turn back,
oh, turn back! just to the entrance of the wood--only to the entrance of
the street!”

“You see that is impossible,” said Von Halber, sadly. “We are
recognized; if we turn back now, they will welcome us with bullets.”

“It were far better for me to die,” murmured Trenck, “than to enter that
dark prison--that open grave!”

“Alas! you would not fly--you would not understand me. I gave you many
opportunities, but you would not avail yourself of them.”

“I was mad, mad!” cried Trenck. “I had confidence in myself--I had faith
in my good star--but the curse of my evil genius has overtaken me. Oh,
my God! I am lost, lost! All my hopes were deceptive--the king is my
irreconcilable enemy, and he will revenge my past life on my future! I
have this knowledge too late. Oh, Halber! go slowly, slowly; I must give
you my last testament. Mark well what I say--these are the last words
of a man who is more to be pitied than the dying. It is a small service
which I ask of you, but my existence depends upon it: Go quickly to the
Duke of Wurtemberg and say this to him: ‘Frederick von Trenck sends Duke
Ferdinand his last greeting! He is a prisoner, and in death’s extremity.
Will the duke take pity on him, and convey this news to her whom he
knows to be Trenck’s friend? Tell her Trenck is a prisoner, and hopes
only in her!’ Will you swear to me to do this?”

“I swear it,” said Von Halber, deeply moved.

The carriage stopped. Von Halber sprang down and greeted the officer
who was to take charge of Trenck. The soldiers placed themselves on
both sides of the coach, and the door was opened. Trenck cast a
last despairing, imploring glance to heaven, then, with a firm step,
approached the open coach. In the act of entering, he turned once more
to the officer Von Halber, whose friendly eyes were darkened with tears.

“You will not forget, sir!”

These simply, sadly-spoken words, breaking the solemn, imposing silence,
made an impression upon the hearts of even the stern soldiers around
them.

“I will not forget,” said Von Halber, solemnly.

Trenck bowed and entered the coach. The officer followed him and closed
the door. Slowly, like a funeral procession, the coach moved on. Von
Halber gazed after him sadly.

“He is right, he is more to be pitied than the dying. I will hasten to
fulfil his last testament.”

Eight days later, the Princess Amelia received through the hands of
Pollnitz a letter from Duke Ferdinand. As she read it, she uttered a
cry of anguish, and sank insensible upon the floor. The duke’s letter
contained these words:

“All my efforts were in vain; he would not fly, would not believe in his
danger. In the casemates of Magdeburg sits a poor prisoner, whose last
words directed to me were these: ‘Say to her whom you know that I am a
prisoner, and hope only in her.’”



CHAPTER III. PRINCE HENRY AND HIS WIFE.


Prince Henry walked restlessly backward and forward in his study; his
brow was stern, and a strange fire flamed in his eye. He felt greatly
agitated and oppressed, and scarcely knew the cause himself. Nothing
had happened to disturb his equanimity and give occasion for his wayward
mood. The outside world wore its accustomed gay and festal aspect.
To-day, as indeed almost every day since the prince resided at
Rheinsberg, preparations were being made for a gay entertainment. A
country fete was to be given in the woods near the palace, and all the
guests were to appear as shepherds and shepherdesses.

Prince Henry had withdrawn to his own room to assume the tasteful
costume which had been prepared for him; but he seemed to have entirely
forgotten his purpose. The tailor and the friseur awaited him in vain
in his dressing-room; he forgot their existence. He paced his room with
rapid steps, and his tightly-compressed lips opened from time to time to
utter a few broken, disconnected words.

Of what was the prince thinking? He did not know, or he would not
confess it to himself. Perhaps he dared not look down deep into
his heart and comprehend the new feelings and new wishes which were
struggling there.

At times he stood still, and looked with a wild, rapt expression into
the heavens, as if they alone could answer the mysterious questions his
soul was whispering to him; then passed on with his hand pressed on his
brow to control or restrain the thoughts which agitated him. He did not
hear a light tap upon the door, he did not see it open, and his most
intimate and dearest friend, Count Kalkreuth enter, dressed in the full
costume of a shepherd.

Count Kalkreuth stood still, and did nothing to call the attention of
the prince to his presence. He remained at the door; his face was also
dark and troubled, and the glance which he fixed upon Prince Henry was
almost one of hatred.

The prince turned, and the count’s expression changed instantly; he
stepped gayly forward and said:

“Your royal highness sees my astonishment at finding you lost in such
deep thought, and your toilet not even commenced. I stand like Lot’s
blessed wife, turned to stone upon your threshold! Have you forgotten,
my prince, that you commanded us all to be ready punctually at four
o’clock? The castle clock is at this moment striking four. The ladies
and gentlemen will now assemble in the music-saloon, as you directed,
and you, prince, are not yet in costume.”

“It is true,” said Prince Henry, somewhat embarrassed, “I had forgotten;
but I will hasten to make good my fault.”

He stepped slowly, and with head bowed down, toward his dressing-room;
at the door, he stood and looked back at the count.

“You are already in costume, my friend,” said he, noticing for the first
time the fantastic dress of the count. “Truly, this style becomes
you marvellously; your bright-colored satin jacket shows your fine
proportions as advantageously as your captain’s uniform. But what means
this scarf which you wear upon your shoulder?”

“These are the colors of my shepherdess,” said the count, with a
constrained smile.

“Who is your shepherdess?”

“Your highness asks that, when you yourself selected her!” said
Kalkreuth, astonished.

“Yes it is true; I forgot,” said the prince. “The princess, my wife, is
your shepherdess. Well, I sincerely hope you may find her highness more
gay and gracious than she was to me this morning, and that you may see
the rare beauty of this fair rose, of which I only feel the thorns!”

While the prince was speaking, the count became deathly pale, and looked
at him with painful distrust.

“It is true,” he replied, “the princess is cold and reserved toward her
husband. Without doubt, this is the result of a determination to meet
your wishes fully, and to remain clearly within the boundary which your
highness at the time of your marriage, more than a year ago, plainly
marked out for her. The princess knows, perhaps too well, that her
husband is wholly indifferent to her beauty and her expression, and
therefore feels herself at liberty to yield to each changeful mood
without ceremony in your presence.”

“You are right,” said Prince Henry, sadly, “she is wholly indifferent to
me, and I have told her so. We will speak no more of it. What,
indeed, are the moods of the princess to me? I will dress, go to the
music-saloon, and ask for forgiveness in my name for my delay. I will
soon be ready; I will seek the princess in her apartments, and we will
join you in a few moments.”

The prince bowed and left the room. Kalkreuth gazed after him
thoughtfully and anxious.

“His manner is unaccountably strange to-day,” whispered he. “Has he,
perhaps, any suspicion; and these apparently artless questions
and remarks this distraction and forgetfulness--But no, no! it is
impossible, he can know nothing--no one has betrayed me. It is the
anguish of my conscience which makes me fearful; this suffering I must
bear, it is the penalty I pay for my great happiness.” The count sighed
deeply and withdrew.

The prince completed his toilet, and sought the princess in her
apartment, in the other wing of the castle. With hasty steps he passed
through the corridors; his countenance was anxious and expectant, his
eyes were glowing and impatient, haste marked every movement; he held
in his hand a costly bouquet of white camelias. When he reached the
anteroom of the princess he became pallid, and leaned for a moment,
trembling and gasping for breath, against the wall; he soon, however, by
a strong effort, controlled himself, entered, and commanded the servant
to announce him.

The Princess Wilhelmina received her husband with a stiff, ceremonious
courtesy, which, in its courtly etiquette, did not correspond with the
costume she had assumed. The proud and stately princess was transformed
into an enchanting, lovely shepherdess. It was, indeed, difficult to
decide if the princess were more beautiful in her splendid court toilet,
adorned with diamonds, and wearing on her high, clear brow a sparkling
diadem, proud and conscious of her beauty and her triumphs; or now,
in this artistic costume, in which she was less imposing, but more
enchanting and more gracious.

Wilhelmina wore an under-skirt of white satin, a red tunic, gayly
embroidered and festooned with white roses; a white satin bodice,
embroidered with silver, defined her full but pliant form, and displayed
her luxurious bust in its rare proportions; a bouquet of red roses
was fastened upon each shoulder, and held the silvery veil which half
concealed the lovely throat and bosom. The long, black, unpowdered hair
fell in graceful ringlets about her fair neck, and formed a dark frame
for the beautiful face, glowing with health, youth, and intellect. In
her hair she wore a wreath of red and white roses, and a bouquet of the
same in her bosom.

She was, indeed, dazzling in her beauty, and was, perhaps, conscious of
her power; her eyes sparkled, and a ravishing smile played upon her lips
as she looked up at the prince, who stood dumb and embarrassed before
her, and could find no words to express his admiration.

“If it is agreeable to your highness, let us join your company,” said
the princess, at last, anxious to put an end to this interview. She
extended her hand coolly to her husband; he grasped it, and held it
fast, but still stood silently looking upon her.

“Madame,” said he, at last, in low and hesitating tones--“madame, I have
a request to make of you.”

“Command me, my husband,” said she, coldly; “what shall I do?”

“I do not wish to command, but to entreat,” said the prince.

“Well, then, Prince Henry, speak your request.”

The prince gave the bouquet of white camelias to his wife, and said, in
a faltering, pleading voice, “I beg you to accept this bouquet from me,
and to wear it to-day in your bosom, although it is not your shepherd
who offers it!”

“No, not my shepherd, but my husband,” said the princess, removing
angrily the bouquet of roses from her bodice. “I must, of course, wear
the flowers he gives me.”

Without giving one glance at the flowers, she fastened them in her
bosom.

“If you will not look upon them for my sake,” said the prince,
earnestly, “I pray you, give them one glance for the flowers’ sake. You
will at least feel assured that no other shepherdess is adorned with
such a bouquet.”

“Yes,” said Wilhelmina, “these are not white roses; indeed, they seem to
be artificial flowers; their leaves are hard and thick like alabaster,
and dazzlingly white like snow. What flowers are these, my prince?”

“They are camelias. I recently heard you speak of these rare flowers,
which had just been imported to Europe. I hoped to please you by placing
them in your hands.”

“Certainly; but I did not know that these new exotics were blooming in
our land.”

“And they are not,” said Prince Henry. “This bouquet comes from
Schwetzingen; there, only, in Germany, in the celebrated green-houses of
the Margravine of Baden can they be seen.”

“How, then, did you get them?” said the princess, astonished.

“I sent a courier to Schwetzingen; the blossoms were wrapped in moist,
green moss, and are so well preserved, that they look as fresh as when
they were gathered six days since.”

“And you sent for them for me?” said Wilhelmina.

“Did you not express a wish to see them?” replied the prince; and his
glance rested upon her with such ardent passion that, blushing, she cast
her eyes to the ground, and stood still and ashamed before him.

“And you have not one little word of thanks?” said the prince, after a
long pause. “Will you not fasten these pure flowers on your bosom, and
allow them to die a happy death there? Alas! you are hard and cruel with
me, princess; it seems to me that your husband dare claim from you more
of kindliness and friendship.”

“My husband!” cried she, in a mocking tone. She turned her eyes,
searchingly, in every direction around the room. “It appears to me that
we are alone and wholly unobserved, and that it is here unnecessary
for us to play this comedy and call ourselves by those names which we
adopted to deceive the world, and which you taught me to regard as empty
titles. It is, indeed, possible that a wife should be more friendly and
affectionate to her husband; but I do not believe that a lady dare
give more encouragement to a cavalier than I manifest to your royal
highness.”

“You are more friendly to all the world than to me, Wilhelmina,” said
the prince, angrily. “You have a kindly word, a magic glance, a gracious
reception for all others who approach you. To me alone are you cold
and stern; your countenance darkens as soon as I draw near; the smile
vanishes from your lips; your brow is clouded and your eyes are fixed
upon me with almost an expression of contempt. I see, madame, that you
hate me! Well, then, hate me; but I do not deserve your contempt, and I
will not endure it! It is enough that you martyr me to death with your
cutting coldness, your crushing indifference. The world, at least,
should not know that you hate me, and I will not be publicly humiliated
by you. What did I do this morning, for example? Why were you so cold
and scornful? Wherefore did you check your gay laugh as I entered the
room? wherefore did you refuse me the little flower you held in your
hand, and then throw it carelessly upon the floor?”

The princess looked at him with flashing eyes.

“You ask many questions, sir, and on many points,” said she, sharply.
“I do not think it necessary to reply to them. Let us join our company.”
 She bowed proudly and advanced, but the prince held her back.

“Do not go,” said he, entreatingly, “do not go. Say first that you
pardon me, that you are no longer angry. Oh, Wilhelmina, you do not know
what I suffer; you can never know the anguish which tortures my soul.”

“I know it well; on the day of our marriage your highness explained
all. It was not necessary to return to this bitter subject. I have not
forgotten one word spoken on that festive occasion.”

“What do you mean, Wilhelmina? How could I, on our wedding-day, have
made known to you the tortures which I now suffer, from which I was then
wholly free, and in whose possibility I did not believe?”

“It is possible that your sufferings have become more intolerable,” said
the princess, coldly; “but you confided them to me fully and frankly at
that time. It was, indeed, the only time since our marriage we had any
thing to confide. Our only secret is that we do not love and never can
love each other; that only in the eyes of the world are we married.
There is no union of hearts.”

“Oh, princess, your words are death!” And completely overcome, he sank
upon a chair.

Wilhelmina looked at him coldly, without one trace of emotion.

“Death?” said she, “why should I slay you? We murder only those whom we
love or hate. I neither love nor hate you.”

“You are only, then, entirely indifferent to me,” asked the prince.

“I think, your highness, this is what you asked of me, on our
wedding-day. I have endeavored to meet your wishes, and thereby, at
least, to prove to you that I had the virtue of obedience. Oh, I can
never forget that hour,” cried the princess. “I came a stranger, alone,
ill from home-sickness and anguish of heart, to Berlin. I was betrothed
according to the fate of princesses. I was not consulted! I did not
know--I had never seen the man to whom I must swear eternal love and
faith. This was also your sad fate, my prince. We had never met. We
saw each other for the first time as we stood before God’s altar, and
exchanged our vows to the sound of merry wedding-bells, and the roar of
cannon. I am always thinking that the bells ring and the cannon thunders
at royal marriages, to drown the timid, trembling yes, forced from
pallid, unwilling lips, which rings in the ears of God and men like a
discord--like the snap of a harp-string. The bells chimed melodiously.
No man heard the yes at which our poor hearts rebelled! We alone heard
and understood! You were noble, prince; you had been forced to swear a
falsehood before the altar; but in the evening, when we were alone in
our apartment, you told me the frank and honest truth. State policy
united us; we did not and could never love each other! You were amiable
enough to ask me to be your friend--your sister; and to give me an
immediate proof of a brother’s confidence, you confessed to me that,
with all the ardor and ecstasy of your youthful heart, you had loved a
woman who betrayed you, and thus extinguished forever all power to
love. I, my prince, could not follow your frank example, and give a like
confidence. I had nothing to relate. I had not loved! I loved you not!
I was therefore grateful when you asked no love from me. You only asked
that, with calm indifference, we should remain side by side, and greet
each other, before the world, with the empty titles of wife and husband.
I accepted this proposal joyfully, to remain an object of absolute
indifference to you, and to regard you in the same light. I cannot,
therefore, comprehend why you now reproach me.”

“Yes! yes! I said and did all that,” said Prince Henry, pale and
trembling with emotion. “I was a madman! More than that, I was a
blasphemer! Love is as God--holy, invisible, and eternal; and he who
does not believe in her immortality, her omnipresence, is like the
heathen, who has faith only in his gods of wood and stone, and whose
dull eyes cannot behold the invisible glory of the Godhead. My heart had
at that time received its first wound, and because it bled and pained me
fearfully, I believed it to be dead, and I covered it up with bitter
and cruel remembrances, as in an iron coffin, from which all escape was
impossible. An angel drew near, and laid her soft, fine hand upon my
coffin, my wounds were healed, my youth revived, and I dared hope in
happiness and a future. At first, I would not confess this to myself. At
first, I thought to smother this new birth of my heart in the mourning
veil of my past experience; but my heart was like a giant in his first
manhood, and cast off all restraint; like Hercules in his cradle, he
strangled the serpents which were hissing around him. It was indeed a
painful happiness to know that I had again a heart, that I was capable
of feeling the rapture and the pain, the longing, the hopes and fears,
the enthusiasm and exaltation, the doubt and the despair which make the
passion of love, and I have to thank you, Wilhelmina--you alone, you, my
wife, for this new birth. You turn away your head, Wilhelmina! You smile
derisively! It is true I have not the right to call you my wife. You are
free to spurn me from you, to banish me forever into that cold, desert
region to which I fled in the madness and blindness of my despair. But
think well, princess; if you do this, you cast a shadow over my life.
It is my whole future which I lay at your feet, a future for which fate
perhaps intends great duties and greater deeds. I cannot fulfil these
duties, I can perform no heroic deed, unless you, princess, grant me the
blessing of happiness. I shall be a silent, unknown, and useless prince,
the sad and pitiful hanger-on of a throne, despised and unloved, a
burden only to my people, unless you give freedom and strength to my
sick soul, which lies a prisoner at your feet. Wilhelmina, put an end
to the tortures of the last few months, release me from the curse which
binds my whole life in chains; speak but one word, and I shall have
strength to govern the world, and prove to you that I am worthy of you.
I will force the stars from heaven, and place them as a diadem upon your
brow. Say only that you will try to love me, and I will thank you for
happiness and fame.”

Prince Henry was so filled with his passion and enthusiasm, that he did
not remark the deadly pallor of Wilhelmina’s face--that he did not see
the look of anguish and horror with which her eyes rested for one moment
upon him, then shrank blushingly and ashamed upon the floor. He seized
her cold, nerveless hands, and pressed them to his heart; she submitted
quietly. She seemed turned to stone.

“Be merciful, Wilhelmina; say that you forgive me--that you will try to
love me.”

The princess shuddered, and glanced up at him. “I must say that,”
 murmured she, “and you have not once said that you love me.”

The prince shouted with rapture, and, falling upon his knees, he
exclaimed, “I love you! I adore you! I want nothing, will accept
nothing, but you alone; you are my love, my hope, my future. Wilhelmina,
if you do not intend me to die at your feet, say that you do not spurn
me--open your arms and clasp me to your heart.”

The princess stood immovable for a moment, trembling and swaying from
side to side; her lips opened as if to utter a wild, mad cry--pain was
written on every feature. The prince saw nothing of this--his lips were
pressed upon her hand, and he did not look up--he did not see his
wife press her pale lips tightly together to force back her cries of
despair--he did not see that her eyes were raised in unspeakable agony
to heaven.

The battle was over; the princess bowed over her husband, and her hands
softly raised him from his knees. “Stand up, prince--I dare not see you
lying at my feet. You have a right to my love--you are my husband.”

Prince Henry clasped her closely, passionately in his arms.



CHAPTER IV. THE FETE IN THE WOODS.


No fete was ever brighter and gayer than that of Rheinsberg. It is true,
the courtly circle waited a long time before the beginning of their
merry sports. Hours passed before the princely pair joined their guests
in the music-saloon.

The sun of royalty came at last, shedding light and gladness. Never had
the princess looked more beautiful--more rosy. She seemed, indeed, to
blush at the consciousness of her own attractions. Never had Prince
Henry appeared so happy, so triumphant, as to-day. His flashing eyes
seemed to challenge the whole world to compete with his happiness; joy
and hope danced in his eyes; never had he given so gracious, so kindly a
greeting to every guest, as to-day.

The whole assembly was bright and animated and gave themselves up
heartily to the beautiful idyl for which they had met together under the
shadow of the noble trees in the fragrant woods of Rheinsberg. No gayer,
lovelier shepherds and shepherdesses were ever seen in Arcadia, than
those of Rheinsberg to-day. They laughed, and jested, and performed
little comedies, and rejoiced in the innocent sports of the happy
moment. Here wandered a shepherd and his shepherdess, chatting merrily;
there, under the shadow of a mighty oak, lay a forlorn shepherd singing,
accompanied by his zitter, a love-lorn ditty to his cruel shepherdess,
who was leading two white lambs decked with ribbons, in a meadow near
by, and replied to his tender pleading with mocking irony. Upon the
little lake, in the neighborhood of which they had assembled, the
snow-white swans swam majestically to and fro. The lovely shepherdesses
stood upon the borders and enticed the swans around them, and laughed
derisively at the shepherds who had embarked in the little boats, and
were now driven sportively back in every direction, and could find no
place to land.

Prince Henry loved this sort of fete, and often gave such at Rheinsberg,
but never had he seemed to enjoy himself so thoroughly as to-day. His
guests generally sympathized in his happiness, but there was one
who looked upon his joyous face with bitterness. This was Louise du
Trouffle, once Louise von Kleist, once the beloved of the prince.

She was married, and her handsome, amiable, and intelligent husband was
ever by her side; but the old wounds still burned, and her pride bled
at the contempt of the prince. She knew he was ignorant of the great
sacrifice she had been forced to make--that he despised, in place of
admiring and pitying her.

The prince, in order to show his utter indifference, had invited her
husband and herself to court. In the pride of his sick and wounded
heart, he resolved to convince the world that the beautiful Louise
von Kleist had not scorned and rejected his love. In her presence he
resolved to show his young wife the most lover-like attentions, and
prove to his false mistress that he neither sought nor fled from
her--that he had utterly forgotten her.

But Louise was not deceived by this acting. She understood him
thoroughly, and knew better than the prince himself, that his
indifference was assumed, and his contempt and scorn was a veil thrown
over his betrayed and quivering heart to conceal his sufferings from
her. Louise had the courage to accept Prince Henry’s invitations, and to
take part in all the festivities with which he ostentatiously celebrated
his happiness. She had the courage to receive his cutting coldness, his
cruel sarcasm, his contempt, with calm composure and sweet submission.
With the smile of a stoic, she offered her defenceless breast to his
poisoned arrows, and even the tortures she endured were precious in
her sight. She was convinced that the prince had not relinquished or
forgotten her--that his indifference and contempt was assumed to hide
his living, breathing love. For some time past the change in the manners
and bearing of the prince had not escaped the sharp, searching glance
of the experienced coquette. For a long time he appeared not to see
her--now she felt that he did not see her. He had been wont to say the
most indifferent things to her in a fierce, excited tone--now he was
self-possessed, and spoke to her softly and kindly.

“The wound has healed,” said Louise du Trouffle to herself. “He no
longer scorns because he no longer loves me.” But she did not know that
he had not only ceased to love her, but loved another passionately.
This suspicion was excited, however, for the first time to-day. In the
flashing eye, the glad smile, the proud glance which he fixed upon his
fair young wife, Louise discovered that Henry had buried the old love
and a new one had risen from its ashes. This knowledge tortured her
heart in a wild storm of jealousy. She forgot all considerations
of prudence, all fear, even of the king. She had been compelled to
relinquish the hand of the prince, but she would not lose him wholly.
Perhaps he would return to her when he knew what a fearful offering she
had made to him. He would recognize her innocence, and mourn over the
tortures he had inflicted during the last year. She would try this! She
would play her last trump, and dare all with the hope of winning.

There stood the prince under the shadow of a large tree, gazing dreamily
at his wife, who, with other shepherdesses, and her shepherd, Count
Kalkreuth, was feeding the swans on the border of the lake. The prince
was alone, and Louise rashly resolved to approach him. He greeted her
with a slight nod, and turning his eyes again upon his wife, he said,
carelessly, “Are you also here, Madame du Trouffle?”

“Your royal highness did me the honor to invite me--I am accustomed to
obey your wishes, and I am here.”

“That is kind,” said the prince, abstractedly, still glancing at the
princess.

Louise sighed deeply, and stepping nearer, she said, “Are you still
angry with me, my prince? Have you never forgiven me?”

“What?” said the prince, quietly; “I do not remember that I have any
thing to forgive.”

“Ah, I see! you despise me still,” said Louise, excitedly; “but I
will bear this no longer! I will no longer creep about like a culprit,
burdened with your curse and your scorn. You shall at least know what it
cost me to earn your contempt--what a tearful sacrifice I was compelled
to make to secure your supposed personal happiness. I gave up for you
the happiness of my life, but I can and will no longer fill a place of
shame in your memory. If, from time to time, your highness thinks of me,
you shall do me justice!”

“I think no longer of you in anger,” said the prince, smiling. “That
sorrow has long since passed away.”

“From your heart, prince, but not from mine! My heart bleeds, and will
bleed eternally! You must not only forgive--you must do me justice.
Listen, then: and so truly as there is a God above us, I will speak the
truth. I did not betray you--I was not faithless. My heart and my soul
I laid gladly at your feet, and thanked God for the fulness of my
happiness. My thoughts, my existence, my future, was chained to you.
I had no other will, no other wish, no other hope. I was your slave--I
wanted nothing but your love.”

“Ah, and then came this Monsieur du Trouffle, and broke your
fetters--gave your heart liberty and wings for a new flight,” said
Prince Henry.

“No, then came the king and commanded me to give you up,” murmured
Louise; “then came the king, and forced me to offer up myself and my
great love to your future welfare. Oh, my prince! recall that terrible
hour in which we separated. I said to you that I had betrothed myself to
Captain du Trouffle--that of my own free choice, and influenced by love
alone, I gave myself to him.”

“I remember that hour.”

“Well, then, in that hour we were not alone. The king was concealed
behind the portiere, and listened to my words. He dictated them!--he
threatened me with destruction if I betrayed his presence by look or
word; if I gave you reason to suspect that I did not, of my own choice
and lovingly, give myself to this unloved, yes, this hated man! I
yielded only after the most fearful contest with the king, to whom, upon
my knees and bathed in tears, I pleaded for pity.”

“What means could the king use, what threats could he utter, which
forced you to such a step?” said the prince, incredulously. “Did he
threaten you with death if you did not obey? When one truly loves, death
has no terrors! Did he say he would murder me if you did not release me?
You knew I had a strong arm and a stronger will; you should have trusted
both. You placed your fate in my hands; you should have obeyed no other
commands than mine. And now shall I speak the whole truth? I do not
believe in this sacrifice on your part; it would have required more than
mortal strength, and it would have been cruel in the extreme. You saw
what I suffered. My heart was torn with anguish! No, madame, no; you did
not make this sacrifice, or, if you did, you loved me not. If you had
loved me, you could not have seen me suffer so cruelly, you would have
told the truth, even in the presence of the king. No earthly power can
control true love; she is self-sustained and makes her own laws. No! no!
I do not believe in this offering; and you make this excuse either to
heal my sick heart, or because your pride is mortified at my want of
consideration; you wish to recover my good opinion.”

“Alas! alas! he does not believe me,” cried Louise.

“No, I do not believe you,” said the prince, kindly; “and yet you must
not think that I am still angry. I not only forgive, but I thank you.
It is to you, indeed, Louise, that I owe my present happiness, all those
noble and pure joys which a true love bestows. I thank you for this--you
and the king. It was wise in the king to deny me that which I then
thought essential to my happiness, but which would, at last, have
brought us both to shame and to despair. The love, which must shun the
light of day and hide itself in obscurity, pales, and withers, and dies.
Happy love must have the sunlight of heaven and God’s blessing upon it!
All this failed in our case, and it was a blessing for us both that you
saw it clearly, and resigned a doubtful happiness at my side for surer
peace with Monsieur du Trouffle. From my soul I thank you, Louise. See
what a costly treasure has bloomed for me from the grave of my betrayed
love. Look at that lovely young woman who, although disguised as a
shepherdess, stands out in the midst of all other women, an imperial
queen! a queen of beauty, grace, and fascination! This charming,
innocent, and modest young woman belongs to me; she is my wife; and I
have your inconstancy to thank you for this rare gem. Oh, madame, I have
indeed reason to forgive you for the past, to be grateful to you as
long as I live. But for you I should never have married the Princess
Wilhelmina. What no menaces, no entreaties, no commands of the king
could accomplish, your faithlessness effected. I married! God, in his
goodness, chose you to be a mediator between me and my fate; it was
His will that, from your hand, I should receive my life’s blessing.
You cured me of a wandering and unworthy passion, that I might feel the
truth and enjoy the blessing of a pure love, and a love which now fills
my heart and soul, my thoughts, my existence for my darling wife.”

“Ah, you are very cruel,” said Louise, scarcely able to suppress her
tears of rage.

“I am only true, madame,” said the prince, smiling. “You wished to know
of me if I were still angry with you, and I reply that I have not only
forgiven, but I bless your inconstancy. And now, I pray you let us end
this conversation, which I will never renew. Let the past die and be
buried! We have both of us commenced a new life under the sunshine of a
new love; we will not allow any cloud of remembrances to cast a shadow
upon it. Look, the beautiful shepherdesses are seeking flowers in the
meadows, and my wife stands alone upon the borders of the lake. Allow me
to join her, if only to see if the clear waters of the lake reflect back
her image as lovely and enchanting as the reality.”

The prince bowed, and with hasty steps took the path that led to the
lake.

Louise looked at him scornfully. “He despises me and he loves her
fondly; but she--does the princess love him?--not so! her glance is
cold, icy, when she looks upon him; and to-day I saw her turn pale as
the prince approached her. No, she loves him not; but who then--who? she
is young, ardent, and, it appears to me, impressible; she cannot
live without love. I will find out; a day will come when I will take
vengeance for this hour. I await that day!”

While Louise forced herself to appear gay, in order to meet her husband
without embarrassment, and the prince walked hastily onward, the
princess stood separated from her ladies, on the borders of the lake,
with the Count Kalkreuth at her side. The count had been appointed her
cavalier for the day, by the prince her husband; she seemed to give
her undivided attention to the swans, who were floating before her, and
stretching out their graceful necks to receive food from her hands. As
she bowed down to feed the swans, she whispered lightly, “Listen, count,
to what I have to say to you. If possible, laugh merrily, that my ladies
may hear; let your countenance be gay, for I see the prince approaching.
In ten minutes he will be with us; do you understand my low tones?”

“I understand you, princess; alas! I fear I understand without words; I
have read my sentence in the eyes of your husband. The prince suspects
me.”

“No,” said she, sadly bowing down and plucking a few violets, which she
threw to the swans; “he has no suspicion, but he loves me.”

The count sprang back as if wounded. “He loves you!” he cried, in a
loud, almost threatening tone. “For pity’s sake speak low,” said the
princess. “Look, the ladies turn toward us, and are listening curiously,
and you have frightened the swans from the shore. Laugh, I pray you;
speak a few loud and jesting words, count, I implore you.”

“I cannot,” said the count. “Command me to throw myself into the lake
and I will obey you joyfully, and in dying I will call your name and
bless it; but do not ask me to smile when you tell me that the prince
loves you.”

“Yes, he loves me; he confessed it to-day,” said the princess,
shuddering. “Oh, it was a moment of inexpressible horror; a moment in
which that became a sin which, until then, had been pure and innocent.
So long as my husband did not love me, or ask my love, I was free to
bestow it where I would and when I would; so soon as he loves me, and
demands my love, I am a culprit if I refuse it.”

“And I false to my friend,” murmured Kalkreuth.

“We must instantly separate,” whispered she. “We must bury our love
out of our sight, which until now has lived purely and modestly in our
hearts, and this must be its funeral procession. You see I have already
begun to deck the grave with flowers, and that tears are consecrating
them.” She pointed with her jewelled hand to the bouquet of white
camelias which adorned her bosom.

“It was cruel not to wear my flowers,” said the count. “Was it not
enough to crush me?--must you also trample my poor flowers, consecrated
with my kisses and my whispers, under your feet?”

“The red roses which you gave me,” said she, lightly, “I will keep as a
remembrance of the beautiful and glorious dream which the rude
reality of life has dissipated. These camelias are superb, but without
fragrance, and colorless as my sad features. I must wear them, for my
husband gave them to me, and in so doing I decorate the grave of my
love. Farewell!--hereafter I will live for my duties; as I cannot accept
your love, I will merit your highest respect. Farewell, and if from this
time onward we are cold and strange, never forget that our souls belong
to each other, and when I dare no longer think of the past, I will pray
for you.”

“You never loved me,” whispered the count, with pallid, trembling lips,
“or you could not give me up so rashly; you would not have the cruel
courage to spurn me from you. You are weary of me, and since the prince
loves you, you despise the poor humble heart which laid itself at your
feet. Yes, yes, I cannot compete with this man, who is a prince and the
brother of a king; who--”

“Who is my husband,” cried she, proudly, “and who, while he loves me,
dares ask that I shall accept his love.”

“Ah, now you are angry with me,” stammered the count; “you--”

“Hush!” whispered she, “do you not see the prince? Do laugh! Bow down
and give the swans these flowers!”

The count took the flowers, and as he gave them to the swans, he
whispered:

“Give me at least a sign that you are not angry, and that you do not
love the prince. Throw this hated bouquet, which has taken the place of
mine, into the water; it is like a poisoned arrow in my heart.”

“Hush!” whispered the princess. She turned and gave the prince a
friendly welcome.

Prince Henry was so happy in her presence, and so dazzled by her beauty,
that he did not remark the melancholy of the count, and spoke with him
gayly and jestingly, while the count mastered himself, and replied in
the same spirit.

The princess bowed down to the swans, whom she enticed once more with
caresses to the borders of the lake. Suddenly she uttered a loud cry,
and called to the two gentlemen for help. The great white swan had torn
the camelias from the bosom of the princess, and sailed off proudly upon
the clear waters of the lake.



CHAPTER V. INTRIGUES.


While Prince Henry celebrated Arcadian fetes at Rheinsberg, and
gave himself up to love and joy, King Frederick lived in philosophic
retirement at Sans-Souci. He came to Berlin only to visit the
queen-mother, now dangerously ill, or to attend the meetings of his
cabinet ministers. Never had the king lived so quietly, never had he
received so few guests at Sans-Souci, and, above all, never had the
world so little cause to speak of the King of Prussia. He appeared
content with the laurels which the two Silesian wars had placed upon his
heroic brow, and he only indulged the wish that Europe, exhausted by
her long and varied wars, would allow him that rest and peace which the
world at large seemed to enjoy. Those who were honored with invitations
to Sans-Souci, and had opportunities to see the king, could only speak
of that earthly paradise; of the peaceful stillness which reigned
there, and which was reflected in every countenance; of Frederick’s calm
cheerfulness and innocent enjoyment.

“The king thinks no more of politics,” said the frolicsome Berliners;
“he is absorbed in the arts and sciences, and, above all other things,
he lives to promote the peaceful prosperity of his people.” The balance
of power and foreign relations troubled him no longer; he wished for no
conquests, and thought not of war. In the morning he was occupied
with scientific works, wrote in his “Histoire de mon Temps,” or to his
friends, and took part in the daily-recurring duties of the government.
The remainder of the day was passed in the garden of Sans-Souci, in
pleasant walks and animated conversation, closing always with music.
Concerts took place every evening in the apartments of the king, in
which he took part, and he practised difficult pieces of his own or
Quantz’s composition, under Quantz’s direction. From time to time he was
much occupied with his picture-gallery, and sent Gotzkowsky to Italy to
purchase the paintings of the celebrated masters.

King Frederick appeared to have reached his goal; at least, that which,
during the storm of war, he had often called his ideal; he could devote
his life to philosophy and art in the enchanting retirement of his
beloved Sans-Souci. The tumult and discord of the world did not trouble
him; in fact, the whole world seemed to be at peace, and all Europe was
glad and happy.

Maria Theresa was completely bound by the last peace contract at
Dresden; besides, the two Silesian wars had weakened and impoverished
Austria, and time was necessary to heal her wounds before she dared make
a new attempt to reconquer the noble jewel of Silesia, which Frederick
had torn from her crown. Notwithstanding her pious and Christian
pretensions, she hated Frederick with her whole heart.

England had allied herself with Russia. France was at the moment too
much occupied with the pageants which the lovely Marquise de Pompadour
celebrated at Versailles, not to be in peace and harmony with all the
world; yes, even with her natural enemy, Austria. Count Kaunitz, her
ambassador at Paris, had, by his wise and adroit conduct, banished the
cloud of mistrust which had so long lowered between these two powers.

This was the state of things at the close of the year 1775. Then was the
general quiet interrupted by the distant echo of a cannon. Europe was
startled, and rose up from her comfortable siesta to listen and inquire
after the cause of this significant thunderbolt. This roar of cannon,
whose echo only had been heard, had its birth far, far away in America.
The cannon, however, had been fired by a European power--by England,
always distinguished for her calculating selfishness, which she wished
the world to consider praiseworthy and honorable policy. England
considered her mercantile interests in America endangered by France, and
she thirsted with desire to have not only an East India but a West India
company. The French colonies in America had long excited the envy and
covetousness of England, and as a sufficient cause for war had utterly
failed, she was bold enough to take the initiative without excuse!

In the midst of a general peace, and without any declaration of war,
she seized upon a country lying on the borders of the Ohio River,
and belonging to French Canada, made an attack upon some hundred
merchant-ships, which were navigating the Ohio, under the protection of
the ships-of-war, and took them as prizes. [Footnote: “Characteristics
of the Important Events of the Seven Years’ War,” by Retson.]

That was the cannon-shot which roused all Europe from her comfortable
slumber and dreamy rest.

The Empress of Austria began to make warlike preparations in Bohemia,
and to assemble her troops on the borders of Saxony and Bohemia. The
Empress of Russia discontinued instantaneously her luxurious feasts
and wild orgies, armed her soldiers, and placed them on the borders of
Courland. She formed an immediate alliance with England, by which she
bound herself to protect the territory of George II. in Germany, if
attacked by France, in retaliation for the French merchant-ships
taken by England on the Ohio River. Hanover, however, was excepted, as
Frederick of Prussia might possibly give her his aid. For this promised
aid, Russia received from England the sum of 150,000 pounds sterling,
which was truly welcome to the powerful Bestuchef, from, the extravagant
and pomp-loving minister of the queen.

Saxony also prepared for war, and placed her army on the borders of
Prussia, for which she received a subsidy from Austria. This was as
gladly welcomed by Count Bruhl, the luxurious minister of King Augustus
the Third of Poland and Saxony, as the English subsidy was by Bestuchef.

The King of France appeared to stand alone; even as completely alone as
Frederick of Prussia. Every eye therefore was naturally fixed upon
these two powers, who seemed thus forced by fate to extend the hand of
fellowship to each other, and form such an alliance as England had done
with Russia, and Austria with Saxony.

This contract between Prussia and France would have been the signal
for a general war, for which all the powers of Europe were now arming
themselves. But France did not extend her hand soon enough to obtain
the friendship of Prussia. France distrusted Prussia, even as Austria,
England, Russia, and Saxony distrusted and feared the adroit young
adventurer, who in the last fifty years had placed himself firmly
amongst the great powers of Europe, and was bold, brave, and wise enough
to hold a powerful and self-sustained position in their circle.

France--that is to say, Louis the Fifteenth--France--that is to say, the
Marquise de Pompadour, hated the King of Prussia manfully. By his bold
wit he had often brought the French court and its immoralities into
ridicule and contempt.

Austria and her minister Kaunitz and Maria Theresa hated Frederick of
Prussia, because of his conquest of Silesia.

Russia--that is to say, Elizabeth and Bestuchef--hated the King of
Prussia for the same reason with France. Frederick’s cutting wit had
scourged the manners of the Russian court, as it had humiliated and
exposed the court of France.

Saxony--that is to say, Augustus the Third, and his minister, Count
Bruhl--hated Frederick from instinct, from envy, from resentment. This
insignificant and small neighbor had spread her wings and made so bold a
flight, that Saxony was completely over-shadowed.

England hated no one, but she feared Prussia and France, and this fear
led her to master the old-rooted national hatred to Russia, and form an
alliance with her for mutual protection. But the English people did not
share the fears of their king; they murmured over this Russian ally, and
this discontent, which found expression in Parliament, rang so loudly,
that Frederick might well have heard it, and formed his own conclusions
as to the result. But did he hear it? Was the sound of his flute so
loud? Was his study hermetically sealed, so that no echo from the
outside world could reach his ears?

There was no interruption to his quiet, peaceful life; he hated nobody,
made no warlike preparations; his soldiers exercised no more than
formerly. Truly they exercised; and at the first call to battle, 150,000
men would be under arms.

But Frederick seemed not inclined to give this call; not inclined to
exchange the calm pleasures of Sans-Souci for the rude noises of tents
and battle-fields. He seemed to be in peaceful harmony with all nations.
He was particularly friendly and conciliating toward the Austrian
embassy; and not only was the ambassador, Count Peubla invited often
to the royal table, but his secretary, Baron Weingarten came also
to Potsdam and Sans-Souci. The king appeared attached to him, and
encouraged him to come often, to walk in the royal gardens.

Frederick was gracious and kind toward the officials of all the German
powers. On one occasion, when the wife of Councillor Reichart, attached
to the Saxon embassy, was confined, at Frederick’s earnest wish, his
private secretary, Eichel, stood as god-father to the child. [Footnote:
“Characteristics of the Important Events of the Seven Years’ War.”]

In order to promote good feeling in Saxony, the king sent Count
Mattzahn, one of the most eloquent cavaliers of the day, to the Dresden
court; and so well supplied was he, that he dared compete in pomp and
splendor with Count Bruhl.

Frederick appeared to attach special importance to the friendship of
Saxony, and with none of his foreign ambassadors was he engaged in so
active a correspondence as with Mattzahn. It was said that these letters
were of a harmless and innocent nature, relating wholly to paintings,
which the count was to purchase from the Saxon galleries, or to music,
which Frederick wished to obtain from amongst the collection of the dead
Hesse, or to an Italian singer Frederick wished to entice to Berlin.

The world no longer favored Frederick’s retirement. The less disposed he
was to mingle in politics, the more Maria Theresa, Elizabeth of Russia,
Augustus of Saxony, and the Marquise de Pompadour agitated the subject.

France had not forgotten that the contract between herself and Prussia
was about to expire. She knew also that the subsidy money between
England and Russia had not yet been voted by Parliament. It was
therefore possible to reap some advantages from this point. With this
view, France sent the Duke de Nivernois as special ambassador to Berlin,
to treat with the king as to the renewal of the old alliance.

The Duke de Nivernois came with a glittering suite to Berlin, and was
received at the Prussian court with all the consideration which his rank
and official character demanded. The grand master of ceremonies, Baron
von Pollnitz, was sent forward to meet him, and to invite him, in the
name of the king, to occupy one of the royal palaces in Berlin.

Every room of the palace was splendidly decorated for the reception of
the duke, and as soon as he arrived, two guards were placed before the
house--a mark of consideration which the king had only heretofore given
to reigning princes.

The duke accepted these distinguished attentions with lively gratitude,
and pleaded for an immediate audience, in order to present his
credentials.

Pollnitz was commissioned to make all necessary arrangements, and agree
with the duke as to the day and hour of the ceremony.

The king, who wished to give the French duke a proof of his
consideration, intended that the presentation should be as imposing as
possible, and all Berlin was to be witness of the friendship existing
between the French and Prussian courts.

Upon the appointed day, a dazzling assemblage of equipages stood
before the palace of the Duke de Nivernois. These were the royal festal
carriages, intended for the members of the French embassy. Then followed
a long line of carriages, occupied by the distinguished members of
the Prussian court. Slowly and solemnly this pompous procession moved
through the streets, and was received at the portal of the king’s palace
by the royal guard. Richly-dressed pages, in advance of whom stood the
grand master of ceremonies with his golden staff, conducted the French
ambassador to the White saloon, where the king, in all his royal pomp,
and surrounded by the princes of his house, received him.

The solemn ceremony began; the duke drew near the throne, and, bowing
his knee, handed his credentials to the king, who received them with a
gracious smile.

The duke commenced his address; it was filled with flowery phrases,
suited to the great occasion. Frederick listened with the most earnest
attention, and his reply was kind, but dignified and laconic.

The public ceremony was over, and now came the important part of the
audience, the confidential conversation. To this point the duke had
looked with lively impatience; for this, indeed, had he been sent to
Berlin.

The king descended from the throne, and laying aside all the solemnity
of court etiquette, he approached the duke in the most gracious and
genial manner, welcomed him heartily, and expressed his sincere delight
at his arrival.

“Ah, sire,” said the duke, with animation, “how happy will my king be
to learn that his ambassador has been so graciously received by your
majesty!”

The king smiled. “I thought the ceremony was all over,” said he,
“and that I no longer spoke with the ambassador, but with the Duke de
Nivernois, whom I know and love, and whose intellectual conversation
will afford me a rare pleasure. Let us, therefore, chat together
innocently, and forget the stiff ceremonies with which, I think, we
have both been sufficiently burdened today. Tell me something of Paris,
monsieur, of that lovely, enchanting, but overbold coquette, Paris, whom
the world adores while it ridicules, and imitates while it blames.”

“Ah, sire, if I must speak of Paris, I must first tell you of my
king--of my king, who wishes nothing more ardently than the renewal
of the bond of friendship between your majesty and himself, and the
assurance of its long continuance, who--”

“That is most kind of his majesty,” said Frederick, interrupting him,
“and I certainly share the friendly wishes of my exalted brother of
France. But tell me now something of your learned men. How goes it with
the Academy? Do they still refuse Voltaire a seat, while so many unknown
men have become academicians?”

“Yes, sire these academicians are obstinate in their conclusions, and,
as the Academy is a sort of republic, the king has no power to control
them If that were not so, my exalted master, King Louis, in order to be
agreeable to your majesty, would exert all his influence, and--”

“Ah, sir,” interrupted the king, “it is just and beautiful that the
Academy is a free republic, which will not yield to the power and
influence of the king. Art and science need for their blossom and growth
freedom of thought and speech. Fate ordained that I should be born
a king, but when alone in my study, alone with my books, I am fully
content to be republican in the kingdom of letters. I confess the truth
to you when, as a wise republican, I read thoughtfully in the pages of
history, I sometimes come to the conclusion that kings and princes are
unnecessary articles of luxury, and I shrug my shoulders at them rather
contemptuously.”

“And yet, sire, the arts need the protection of princes; that the
republic of letters blooms and flourishes in a monarchy is shown in
Prussia, where a royal republican and a republican king governs his
people, and at the same time gives freedom of thought and speech to
science. France should be proud and happy that your majesty has adopted
so many of her sons into your republic of letters; we dare, therefore,
come to the conclusion that your majesty will not confine your interest
wholly to them, but that this alliance between France and Prussia, which
my king so earnestly desires and--”

“Unhappily,” said the king, interrupting him eagerly, “the distinguished
Frenchmen who have become my allies, are exactly those whom their
strong-minded, fanatical mother, La France, has cast out from her bosom
as dishonored sons. Voltaire lives in Ferney. Jean Jacques Rousseau,
whom I admire but do not love, lives in Geneva, where he has been
obliged to take refuge. I have also been told that the pension which, in
a favorable moment, was granted to D’Alembert, has been withdrawn.
Have I been falsely informed? has my friend D’Alembert not fallen
into disgrace? is not my friend the encyclopaedian, regarded as a
transgressor, and a high traitor because he uses the undoubted right of
free thought, does not blindly believe, but looks abroad with open eyes
and a clear intellect?”

The duke replied by a few confused and disconnected words, and a shadow
fell upon his clear countenance; three times had Frederick interrupted
him when he sought to speak of the King of France and his friendship for
his brother of Prussia. The duke did not dare choose this theme for the
fourth time, which was so evidently distasteful to the king; he must,
therefore, submit and follow the lead of his majesty, and in lieu of
alliances and state questions discuss philosophy and the arts. So soon
as the duke came to this conclusion, he smoothed his brow, and, with all
his amiability, animation, and intelligence, he replied to the questions
of the king, and the conversation was carried on in an unbroken stream
of wit and gayety.

“At the next audience I will surely find an opportunity to speak of
politics,” said the duke to himself. “The king cannot always be an
immovable as to-day.”

But the second and the third audience came, and the king was as
inexplicable as the first time; he conversed with the duke kindly and
freely showed him the most marked attention and personal confidence; but
so often as the duke sought to introduce the subject of politics and the
public interests which had brought him to Berlin, the king interrupted
him and led the conversation to indifferent subjects. This lasted two
weeks, and the French court looked with painful anxiety for intelligence
from the Duke de Nivernois that the old alliance was renewed and fully
ratified, and she had, therefore, nothing to fear from Prussia. This
uncertainty was no longer to be borne, and the duke determined to end it
by a coup d’etat.

He wrote, therefore, to the king, and asked for a private audience. To
his great joy his request was granted; the king invited him to come the
next day to Sans-Souci. “At last! at last!” said the duke, drawing a
long breath; and with proud, French assurance, he added, “To-morrow,
then, we will renew this contract which binds the hands of Prussia, and
gives France liberty of action.”



CHAPTER VI. THE PRIVATE AUDIENCE.


The king received the French ambassador without ceremony. There were no
guards, no pages, no swarms of curious listening courtiers, only a few
of his trusty friends, who welcomed the duke and conversed with him,
while Pollnitz entered the adjoining room and informed the king of his
arrival.

“His majesty entreats the duke to enter.” said Pollnitz, opening the
door of the library. The king advanced. He was dressed simply; even the
golden star, which was seldom absent from his coat, was now missing.

“Come, duke,” said the king, pleasantly, “come into my tusculum.” He
then entered the library, quickly followed by the duke.

“Well, sir,” said the king, “we are now in that room in which I lately
told you I was but a republican. You have crossed the threshold of the
republic of letters!”

“But I see a king before me,” said the duke, bowing reverentially;
“a king who has vanquished his republic, and surpassed all the great
spirits that have gone before him.”

The king’s glance rested upon the shelves filled with books, on whose
back glittered in golden letters the most distinguished names of all
ages.

“Homer, Tacitus, Livy, Petrarch!--ye great spirits of my republic! hear
how this traitor slanders you.”

“How I honor you, sire, for truly it is a great honor to be subdued and
vanquished by such a king as Frederick the Second.”

The king looked at him fixedly. “You wish to bewilder me with flattery,
duke,” said he, “well knowing that it is a sweet opiate, acceptable to
princes, generally causing their ruin. But in this chamber, duke, I am
safe from this danger, and here in my republic we will both enjoy the
Spartan soup of truth. Believe me, sir, it is at times a wholesome
dish, though to the pampered stomach it is bitter and distasteful. I can
digest it, and as you have come to visit me, you will have to partake of
it.”

“And I crave it, sire--crave it as a man who has fasted for two weeks.”

“For two weeks?” said the king, laughing. “Ah, it is true you have been
here just that time.”

“For two long weeks has your majesty kept me fasting and longing for
this precious soup,” said the duke, reproachfully.

“My broth was not ready,” said the king, gayly; “it was still bubbling
in the pot. It is now done, and we will consume it together. Let us be
seated, duke.”

If Frederick had turned at this moment, he would have seen the grand
chamberlain Pollnitz advancing on tiptoe to the open door, in order to
listen to the conversation. But the king was looking earnestly at the
ambassador. After a few moments of silence, he turned to the duke.

“Is my soup still too hot for you?” said he, laughingly.

“No, sire,” said the duke, bowing. “But I waited for your majesty to
take the first spoonful. Would it not be better to close that door?”

“No,” said the king, hastily; “I left it open, intentionally, so that
your eyes, when wearied with the gloom of my republic, could refresh
themselves on the glittering costumes of my courtiers.”

“He left it open,” thought the duke, “for these courtiers to hear all
that is said. He wishes the whole world to know how he rejected the
friendship of France.”

“Well,” said the king, “I will take my spoonful. We will commence
without further delay. Duke de Nivernois, you are here because the
contract made between France and Prussia is at an end, and because
France wishes me to fancy that she is anxious for a renewal of this
treaty, and for the friendship of Prussia.”

“France wishes to convince you of this, sire,” said the duke.

“Convince me?” said the king, ironically. “And how?”

“King Louis of France not only proposes to renew this contract, she, who
he wishes to draw the bonds of friendship much closer between France and
Prussia.”

“And to what end?” said the king. “For you well know, duke, that in
politics personal inclinations must not be considered. Were it not so, I
would, without further delay, grasp the friendly hand that my brother of
France extends toward me, for the whole world knows that I love
France, and am proud of the friendship of her great spirits. But as,
unfortunately, there is no talk here of personal inclinations but of
politics, I repeat my question. To what end does France desire the
friendship of Prussia? What am I to pay for it? You see, duke, I am a
bad diplomatist--I make no digression, but go to the point at once.”

“And that, perhaps, is the nicest diplomacy,” said the duke, sighing.

“But, duke, do tell me, why is France so anxious for the friendship of
Prussia?”

“To have an ally in you and be your ally. By the first, France will have
a trusty and powerful friend in Germany when her lands are attacked by
the King of England; by the last, your majesty will have a trusty and
powerful friend when Prussia is attacked by Russia or Austria.”

“We will now speak of the first,” said the king, quietly. “France, then,
thinks to transplant this war with England to German ground?”

“Everywhere, sire, that the English colors predominate. England alone
will be accountable for this war.”

“It is true England has been hard upon you, but still it seems to me you
have revenged yourselves sufficiently. When England made herself supreme
ruler of the Ohio, France, by the conquest of the Isle of Minorca,
obtained dominion over the Mediterranean Sea, thereby wounding England
so deeply, that in her despair she turned her weapons against herself.
Admiral Byng, having been overcome by your admiral Marquis de la
Gallissionaire, paid for it with his life. I think France should be
satisfied with this expiation.”

“France will wash off her insults in English blood, and Minorca is no
compensation for Canada and Ohio. England owes us satisfaction, and we
will obtain it in Hanover.”

“In Hanover?” repeated the king, angrily.

“Hanover will be ours, sire, though we had no such ally as Germany; but
it will be ours the sooner if we have that help which you can give us.
Standing between two fires, England will have to succumb, there will be
no escape for her. That is another advantage, sire, that France expects
from the treaty with Prussia. But I will now speak of the advantages
which your majesty may expect from this alliance. You are aware that
Prussia is surrounded by threatening enemies; that Austria and Russia
are approaching her borders with evil intentions, and that a day may
soon come when Maria Theresa may wish to reconquer this Silesia which,
in her heart, she still calls her own. When this time comes, your
majesty will not be alone; your ally, France, will be at your side;
she will repay with faithful, active assistance the services which your
majesty rendered her in Hanover. She will not only render her all the
assistance in her power, but she will also allow her to partake of the
advantages of this victory. Hanover is a rich land, not rich only in
products, but in many other treasures. The Electors of Hanover have in
their residences not only their chests filled with gold and precious
jewels, but also the most magnificent paintings. It is but natural that
we should pay ourselves in Hanover for the expenses of this war of which
England is the cause. You, then, will share with us these treasures. And
still this is not all. France is grateful; she offers you, therefore,
one of her colonies, the Isle of Tobago, as a pledge of friendship and
love.”

“Where is this isle?” said the king, quietly.

“In the West Indies, sire.”

“And where is Hanover?”

The duke looked at the king in amazement, and remained silent.

The king repeated his question.

“Well,” said the duke, hesitatingly, “Hanover is in Germany.”

“And for this German land which, with my aid, France is to conquer, I
am to receive as a reward the little Isle of Tobago in the West Indies!
Have you finished, dyke, or have you other propositions to make?”

“Sire, I have finished, and await your answer.”

“And this answer, duke, shall be clearer and franker than your
questions. I will begin by answering the latter part of your speech.
Small and insignificant as the King of Prussia may appear in your eyes,
I would have you know he is no robber, no highwayman; he leaves these
brilliant amusements without envy to France. And now, my dear duke, I
must inform you, that since this morning it has been placed out of my
power to accept this alliance; for this morning a treaty was signed, by
which I became the ally of England!”

“It is impossible, sire,” cried the duke; “this cannot be!”

“Not possible, sir!” said the king, “and still it is true. I have formed
a treaty with England--this matter is settled! I have been an ally of
Louis XV.; I have nothing to complain of in him. I love him; well, am I
now his enemy? I hope that there may be a time when I may again approach
the King of France. Pray tell him how anxiously I look forward to this
time. Tell him I am much attached to him.”

“Ah, sire,” said the duke, sighing, “it is a great misfortune. I dare
not go to my monarch with this sad, unexpected news; my monarch who
loves you so tenderly, whose most earnest wish it is for France to be
allied to Prussia.”

“Ah, duke,” said Frederick, laughing, “France wishes for ships as
allies. I have none to offer--England has. With her help I shall keep
the Russians from Prussia, and with the aid she will keep the French
from Hanover.”

“We are to be enemies, then?” said the duke, sadly.

“It is a necessary evil, for which there is no remedy. But Louis XV. can
form other alliances,” said Frederick, ironically. “It may be for his
interest to unite with the house of Austria!”

The duke was much embarrassed.

“Your majesty is not in earnest,” said he, anxiously.

“Why not, duke?” said Frederick; “an alliance between France and
Austria--it sounds very natural. If I were in your place, I would
propose this to my court.”

He now rose, which was a sign to the duke that the audience was at an
end.

“I must now send a courier at once to my court,” said the duke, “and
I will not fail to state that your majesty advises us to unite with
Austria.”

“You will do well; that is,” said the king, with a meaning smile--“that
is, if you think your court is in need of such advice, and has not
already acted without it. When do you leave, duke?”

“To-morrow morning, sire.”

“Farewell, duke, and do not forget that in my heart I am the friend of
France, though we meet as enemies on the battle-field.”

The duke bowed reverentially, and, sighing deeply, left the royal
library, “the republic of letters,” to hasten to Berlin.

The king looked after him thoughtfully.

“The die is cast,” said he, softly. “There will be war. Our days of
peace and quietude are over, and the days of danger are approaching!”



CHAPTER VII. THE TRAITOR.


The sun had just risen, and was shedding its golden rays over the garden
of Sans-Souci, decking the awaking flowers with glittering dew-drops.
All was quiet--Nature alone was up and doing; no one was to be seen,
no sound was to be heard, but the rustling of trees and the chirping of
birds. All was still and peaceful; it seemed as if the sound of human
misery and passion could not reach this spot. There was something so
holy in this garden, that you could but believe it to be a part
of paradise in which the serpent had not yet exercised his arts of
seduction. But no, this is but a beautiful dream. Man is here, but he
is sleeping; he is still resting from the toils and sorrows of the past
day. Man is here--he is coming to destroy the peacefulness of Nature
with his sorrows and complaints.

The little gate at the farthest end of that shady walk is opened, and
a man enters. The dream is at an end, and Sans-Souci is now but a
beautiful garden, not a paradise, for it has been desecrated by the
foot of man. He hastens up the path leading to the palace; he hurries
forward, panting and gasping. His face is colorless, his long hair is
fluttering in the morning wind, his eyes are fixed and glaring; his
clothes are covered with dust, and his head is bare.

There is something terrifying in the sudden appearance of this man.
Nature seems to smile no more since he came; the trees have stopped
their whispering, the birds cannot continue their melodious songs since
they have seen his wild, anxious look. The peacefulness of Nature is
broken. For man--that is to say, misery, misfortune; for man--that is
to say, sin, guilt, and meanness--is there, pouring destroying drops of
poison in the golden chalice of creation.

Breathlessly he hurries on, looking neither to right nor left. He
has now reached the terrace, and now he stops for a moment to recover
breath. He sees not the glorious panorama lying at his feet; he is blind
to all but himself. He is alone in the world--alone with his misery, his
pain. Now he hastens on to the back of the palace. The sentinels walking
before the back and the front of the castle know him, know where he is
going, and they barely glance at him as he knocks long and loudly at
that little side window.

It is opened, and a young girl appears, who, when perceiving this pale,
anxious countenance, which is striving in vain to smile at her, cries
out loudly, and folds her hands as if in prayer.

“Hush!” said he, roughly; “hush! let me in.”

“Some misfortune has happened!” said she, terrified.

“Yes, Rosa, a great misfortune, but let me in, if you do not wish to
ruin me.”

The young girl disappears, and the man hastens to the side door of the
castle. It is opened, and he slips in.

Perfect peace reigns once more in the garden of Sans-Souci. Nature is
now smiling, for she is alone with her innocence. Man is not there! But
now, in the castle, in the dwelling of the castle warder, and in the
room of his lovely daughter Rosa, all is alive. There is whispering, and
weeping, and sighing, and praying; there is Rosa, fearful and trembling,
her face covered with tears, and opposite her, her pale, woe-begone
lover.

“I have been walking all night,” said he, with a faint and hollow voice.
“I did not know that Berlin was so far from Potsdam, and had I known it,
I would not have dared to take a wagon or a horse; I had to slip away
very quietly. While by Count Puebla’s order my room was guarded, and
I thought to be in it, I descended into the garden by the grape-vine,
which reached up to my window. The gardener had no suspicion of how
I came there, when I required him to unlock the door, but laughed
cunningly, thinking I was bound to some rendezvous. And so I wandered
on in fear and pain, in despair and anger, and it seemed to me as if the
road would never come to an end. At times I stopped, thinking I heard
behind me wild cries and curses, the stamping of horses, and the rolling
of wheels; but it was imagination. Ah! it was a frightful road; but it
is past. But now I will be strong, for this concerns my name, my life,
my honor. Why do you laugh, Rosa?” said he, angrily; “do you dare to
laugh, because I speak of my name--my honor?”

“I did not laugh,” said Rosa, looking with terror at the disturbed
countenance of her lover.

“Yes, you laughed, and you were right to laugh, when I spoke of my
honor; I who have no honor; I who have shamed my name; I upon whose brow
is the sign of murder: for I am guilty of the ruin of a man, and the
chains on his hands are cursing my name.”

“My God! He is mad,” murmured Rosa.

“No, I am not mad,” said he, with a heart-breaking smile. “I know all,
all! Were I mad, I would not be so unhappy. Were I unconscious, I would
suffer less. But, no, I remember all. I know how this evil commenced,
how it grew and poisoned my heart. The evil was my poverty, my
covetousness, and perhaps also my ambition. I was not content to
bear forever the chains of bondage; I wished to be free from want.
I determined it should no more be said that the sisters of Count
Weingarten had to earn their bread by their needlework, while he feasted
sumptuously at the royal table. This it was that caused my ruin.
These frightful words buzzed in my ears so long, that in my despair I
determined to stop them at any price, and so I committed my first crime,
and received a golden reward for my treason. My sisters did not work
now; I bought a small house for them, and gave them all that I received.
I shuddered at the sight of this money; I would keep none of it. I was
again the poor secretary Weingarten, but my family was not helpless;
they had nothing to fear.”

To whom was he telling all this? Certainly not to that young girl
standing before him, pale and trembling. He had forgotten himself; he
had forgotten her whom in other days he had called his heart’s darling.

As she sank at his feet and covered his hands with her tears, he rose
hastily from his seat; he now remembered that he was not alone.

“What have I said?” cried he, wildly. “Why do you weep?”

“I weep because you have forgotten me,” said she, softly; “I weep
because, in accusing yourself, you make no excuse for your crime; not
even your love for your poor Rosa.”

“It is true,” said he, sadly, “I had forgotten our love. And still it is
the only excuse that I have for my second crime. I had determined to be
a good man, and to expiate my one crime throughout my whole life. But
when I saw you, your beauty fascinated me, and you drew me on. I went
with open eyes into the net which you prepared for me, Rosa. I allowed
myself to be allured by your beauty, knowing well that it would draw me
into a frightful abyss.”

“Ah,” said Rosa, groaning, “how cruelly you speak of our love!”

“Of our love!” repeated he, shrugging his shoulders. “Child, in this
hour we will be true to each other. Ours was no true love. You were in
love with my noble name and position--I with your youth, your beauty,
your coquettish ways. Our souls were not in unison. You gave yourself
to me, not because you loved me, but because you wished to deceive me.
I allowed myself to be deceived because of your loveliness and because I
saw the golden reward which your deceitful love would bring me.”

“You are cruel and unjust,” said Rosa, sadly. “It may be true that you
never loved me, but I loved you truly. I gave you my whole heart.”

“Yes, and in giving it,” said he, harshly--“in giving it you had the
presence of mind to keep the aim of your tenderness always in view.
While your arms were around me, your little hand which seemed to rest
upon my heart, sought for the key which I always kept in my vest-pocket,
and which I had lately told you belonged to the desk in which the
important papers of the embassy were placed. You found this key, Rosa,
and I knew it, but I only laughed, and pressed you closer to my heart.”

“Terrible! terrible!” said Rosa, trembling. “He knew all, and still he
let me do it!”

“Yes I allowed you to do it--I did not wish to be better than the girl
I loved: and, as she desired to deceive me, I let myself be deceived. I
allowed it, because the demon of gold had taken possession of me. I took
the important papers out of my desk, to which you had stolen the key,
and hid them. Then the tempters came and whispered of golden rewards, of
eternal gratitude, of fortune, honor; and these fiendish whispers misled
my soul. I sold my honor and became a traitor, and all this for the sake
of gold! So I became what I now am. I do not reproach you Rosa, for most
likely it would have happened without you.”

“But what danger threatens you now?” asked Rosa.

“The just punishment for a traitor,” said he, hoarsely. “Give me some
wine, Rosa, so that I can gain strength to go to the king at once.”

“To the king at this early hour?”

“And why not? Have I not been with him often at this hour, when I had
important news or dispatches to give him? So give me the wine, Rosa.”

Rosa left the room, but returned almost instantly. He took the bottle
from her and filled a glass hastily.

“Now,” said he, breathing deeply, “I feel that I live again. My blood
flows freely through my veins, and my heart is beating loudly. Now to
the king!”

He stood before a glass for a moment to arrange his hair; then pressed
a cold kiss upon Rosa’s pale, trembling lips, and left the room. With
a firm, sure tread, he hurried through the halls and chambers. No one
stopped him, for no one was there to see him. In the king’s antechamber
sat Deesen taking his breakfast.

“Is the king up?” asked Weingarten.

“The sun has been up for hours, and so of course the king is up,” said
Deesen, proudly.

“Announce me to his majesty; I have some important news for him.”

He entered the king’s chamber, and returned in a few moments for
Weingarten.

The king was sitting in an arm-chair by a window, which he had opened to
breathe the fresh summer air. His white greyhound, Amalthea, lay at his
feet, looking up at him with his soft black eyes. In his right hand the
king held his flute.

“You are early, sir,” said he, turning to Weingarten. “You must have
very important news.”

“Yes, sire, very important,” said Weingarten, approaching nearer.

The king reached out his hand. “Give them to me,” said he.

“Sire, I have no dispatches.”

“A verbal message, then. Speak.”

“Sire, all is lost; Count Puebla suspects me.”

The king was startled for a moment, but collected himself immediately.
“He suspects, but he is certain of nothing?”

“No, sire; but his suspicion amounts almost to certainty. Yesterday I
was copying a dispatch which was to go that evening, and which was of
the highest importance to your majesty, when I suddenly perceived
Count Puebla standing beside me at my desk. He had entered my room very
quietly, which showed that he had his suspicions, and was watching me.
He snatched my copy from the desk and read it. ‘For whom is this?’ said
he, in a threatening tone. I stammered forth some excuses; said that I
intended writing a history, and that I took a copy of all dispatches for
my work. He would not listen to me. ‘You are a traitor!’ said he, in
a thundering voice. ‘I have suspected you for some time; I am now
convinced of your treachery. You shall have an examination tomorrow;
for to-night you will remain a prisoner in your room.’ He then locked my
desk, put the key in his pocket, and, taking with him the dispatch and
my copy, left the room. I heard him lock it and bolt my door. I was a
prisoner.”

“How did you get out?” said the king.

“By the window, sire. And I flew here to throw myself at your majesty’s
feet, and to beg for mercy and protection.”

“I promised you protection and help in case of your detection--I will
fulfil my promise. What are your wishes. Let us see if they can be
realized.”

“Will your majesty give me some sure place of refuge where Count
Puebla’s threats cannot harm me?”

“You will remain here in the dwelling of the castle-warder until a
suitable residence can be found for you. What next? What plans have you
made for the future?”

“I would humbly beseech your majesty to give me some position in your
land worthy of my station, such as your highness promised me.”

“You remember too many of my promises,” said the king, shrugging his
shoulders.

“Your majesty will not grant me the promised position?” said Count
Weingarten, tremblingly.

“I remember no such promise,” said Frederick. “Men of your stamp are
paid, but not rewarded. I have made use of your treachery; but you are,
nevertheless, in my eyes a traitor, and I will have none such in my
service.”

“Then I am lost!” said Weingarten. “My honor, my good name, my future
are annihilated.”

“Your honor has been weighed with gold,” said the king, sternly, “and I
think I have already paid more for it than it was worth. Your good name,
it is true, will be from now changed into a bad one; and your mother
will have to blush when she uses it. Therefore I advise you to let it
go; to take another name; to begin a new existence, and to found a new
future.”

“A future without honor, without name, without position!” sighed
Weingarten, despairingly.

“So are men!” said the king, softly; “insolent and stubborn when they
think themselves secure; cowardly and uncertain when they are in danger.
So you were rash enough to think that your treacherous deeds would
always remain a secret? You did not think of a possible detection, or
prepare yourself for it. In treading the road which you have trodden,
every step should be considered. This, it seems to me, you have
not done. You wish to enjoy the fruits of your treachery in perfect
security; but you have not the courage to stand before the world as a
traitor. Do away with this name, which will cause you many dangers and
insults. Fly from this place, where you and your deeds are known. Under
a different name look for an asylum in another part of my land.
Money shall not fail you; and if what you have earned from me is not
sufficient, turn to me, and I will lend you still more. I will not
forget that to me your treachery has been of great use, and therefore
I will not desert you, though I shall despise the traitor. And now,
farewell! This is our last meeting. Call this afternoon upon my
treasurer; he will pay you two hundred louis d’or. And now go.” And
with a scornful look at Weingarten’s pale countenance, he turned to the
window.

Weingarten hurried past the halls and chambers, and entered Rosa’s room.
She read in his pale, sad face that he had no good news to tell her.

“Has it all been in vain?” said she, breathlessly.

“In vain?” cried he, with a scornful smile. “No, not in vain. The king
rewarded me well; much better than Judas Iscariot was rewarded. I have
earned a large sum of money, and am still to receive a thousand crowns.
Quiet yourself, Rosa; we will be very happy, for we will have money.
Only I must ask if the proud daughter of the royal castle-warder will
give her hand to a man who can offer her no name, no position. Rosa, I
warn you, think well of what you do. You loved me because I was a count,
and had position to offer you. From to-day, I have no position, no name,
no honor, no family. Like Ahasuerus, I will wander wearily through the
world, happy and thanking God if I can find a quiet spot where I am
not known, and my name was never heard. There I will rest, and trust to
chance for a name. Rosa, will you share with me this existence, without
sunshine, without honor, without a name?”

She was trembling so, that she could barely speak.

“I have no choice,” stammered she, at last; “I must follow you, for my
honor demands that I should be your wife. I must go with you; fate wills
it.”

With a loud shriek she fainted by his side. Weingarten did not raise
her; he glanced wildly at the pale, lifeless woman at his feet.

“We are both condemned,” murmured he, “we have both lost our honor. And
with this Cain’s mark upon our foreheads we will wander wearily through
the world.” [Footnote: Count Weingarten escaped from all his troubles
happily. He married his sweetheart, the daughter of the castle-warder,
and went to Altmark, where, under the name of Veis, he lived happily for
many years.]

The king, in the mean while, after Weingarten had left him, walked
thoughtfully up and down his room. At times he raised his head and gazed
with a proud, questioning glance at the sky. Great thoughts were at work
within him. Now Frederick throws back his head proudly, and his eyes
sparkle.

“The time has come,” said he, in a loud, full voice. “The hour for delay
is past; now the sword must decide between me and my enemies.” He rang
a bell hastily, and ordered a valet to send a courier at once to Berlin,
to call General Winterfeldt, General Retzow, and also Marshal Schwerin,
to Sans-Souci.


CHAPTER VIII. DECLARATION OF WAR.


A few hours after the departure of the courier, the heavy movement
of wheels in the court below announced to the king, who was standing
impatiently at his window, the arrival of the expected generals. In the
same moment, his chamberlain, opening wide the library door, ushered
them into his presence.

“Ah!” said the king, welcoming them pleasantly, “I see I am not so
entirely without friends as my enemies think. I have but to call,
and Marshal Schwerin, that is, wisdom and victory, is at my side; and
Generals Winterfeldt and Retzow, that is, youth and courage, boldness
and bravery, are ready to give me all the assistance in their power.
Sirs, I thank you for coming to me at once. Let us be seated; listen to
what I have to say, and upon what earnest important subjects I wish your
advice.”

And in a few words the king first showed them the situation of Europe
and of his own states, so as to prepare them for the more important
subjects he had to introduce before them.

“You will now understand,” said he, “why I was so willing to make this
contract with England. I hoped thereby to gain Russia, who is allied to
England, to my side. But these hopes have been destroyed. Russia,
angry with Britain for having allied herself to Prussia, has broken her
contract. Bestuchef, it is true, wavered for a moment between his love
of English guineas and his hatred of me, but hate carried the day.”

“But, sire,” said Retzow, hastily, “if your majesty can succeed in
making a reconciliation between France and England, you may become the
ally of these two powerful nations. Then let Austria, Russia, and Saxony
come upon us all at once, we can confront them.”

“We can do that, I hope, even without the assistance of France,” said
the king, impetuously. “We must renounce all idea of help from France;
she is allied to Austria. What Kaunitz commenced with his wisdom, Maria
Theresa carried out with her flattery. All my enemies have determined to
attack me at once. But I am ready for them, weapons in hand. I have been
hard at work; all is arranged, every preparation for the march of our
army is finished. And now I have called you together to counsel me as to
where we can commence our attack advantageously.”

Frederick stopped speaking, and gazed earnestly at his generals,
endeavoring to divine their thoughts. Marshal Schwerin was looking
silently before him; a dark cloud rested upon General Retzow’s brow; but
the young, handsome face of Winterfeldt was sparkling with delight at
the thought of war.

“Well, marshal,” said the king, impatiently, “what is your advice?”

“My advice, sire,” said the old marshal, sighing; “I see my king
surrounded by threatening and powerful foes; I see him alone in the
midst of all these allied enemies. For England may, perchance, send us
money, but she has no soldiers for us, and moreover, we must assist her
to defend Hanover. I cannot counsel this war, for mighty enemies are
around us, and Prussia stands alone.”

“No,” said Frederick, solemnly, “Prussia stands not alone!--a good cause
and a good sword are her allies, and with them she will conquer. And
now, General Retzow, let us have your opinion.”

“I agree entirely with Marshal Schwerin,” said Retzow. “Like him, I
think Prussia should not venture into this strife, because she is too
weak to withstand such powerful adversaries.”

“You speak prudently,” said Frederick, scornfully. “And now,
Winterfeldt, are you also against this war?”

“No, sire,” cried Winterfeldt, “I am for the attack, and never were
circumstances more favorable than at present. Austria has as yet made no
preparations for war; her armies are scattered, and her finances are in
disorder; and now it will be an easy task to attack her and subdue her
surprised army.”

The king looked at him pleasantly, and turning to the other generals,
said quietly.

“We must not be carried away by the brave daring of this youth; he is
the youngest among us, and is, perhaps, misled by enthusiasm. But we old
ones must reflect; and I wished to convince you that I had not failed to
do this. But all has been in vain.”

“Now is the time,” said Winterfeldt, with sparkling eyes, “to convince
the crippled, unwieldy Austrian eagle that the young eagle of Prussia
has spread her wings, and that her claws are strong enough to grasp all
her enemies and hurl them into an abyss.”

“And if the young eagle, in spite of his daring, should have to succumb
to the superiority of numbers,” said Marshal Schwerin, sadly. “If the
balls of his enemies should break his wings, thereby preventing his
flight for the future? Were it not better to avoid this possibility,
and not to allow the whole world to say that Prussia, out of love of
conquest, began a fearful war, which she could have avoided?”

“There is no reason in this war,” said General Retzow; “for, though
Austria, Saxony, and Russia are not our friends, they have not shown
as yet by any open act that they are our enemies; and though Austria’s
alliance with France surprised the world, so also did Prussia’s alliance
with England. Our soldiers will hardly know why they are going to
battle, and they will be wanting in that inspiration which is necessary
to excite an army to heroic deeds.”

“Inspiration shall not be wanting, and my army as well as yourselves
shall know the many causes we have for this war. The reasons I have
given you as yet have not satisfied you? Well, then, I will give
you others; and, by Heaven, you will be content with them! You think
Austria’s unkindly feelings to Prussia have not been shown by any overt
act. I will now prove to you that she is on the point of acting.” And
Frederick, lifting up some papers from his desk, continued: “These
papers will prove to you, what you seem determined not to believe,
namely, that Saxony, Russia, and, France are prepared to attack Prussia
with their combined forces, and to turn the kingdom of Prussia into a
margraviate once more. These papers are authentic proofs of the dangers
which hover over us. I will now inform you how I came by them, so
that you may be convinced of their genuineness. For some time I have
suspected that there was, amongst my enemies, an alliance against me,
and that they had formed a contract in which they had sworn to do all
in their power to destroy Prussia. I only needed to have my suspicions
confirmed, and to have the proofs of this contract in my hands. There
proofs were in the Saxon archives, and in the dispatches of the Austrian
embassy. It was therefore necessary to get the key of these archives,
and to have copies of these dispatches. I succeeded in doing both,
Chance, or if you prefer it, a kind Providence, came to my aid. The
Saxon chancellor, Reinitz, a former servant of General Winterfeldt, came
from Dresden to Potsdam to look for Winterfeldt and to confide to him
that a friend of his, Chancellor Minzel of Dresden, had informed him
that the state papers interchanged between the court of Vienna and
Dresden were kept in the Dresden archives, of which he had the key.
Winterfeldt brought me this important message. Reinitz conducted the
first negotiations with Menzel, which I then delivered into the hands of
my ambassador in Dresden, Count Mattzahn. Menzel was poor and covetous.
He was therefore easily to be bribed. For three years Mattzahn has
received copies of every dispatch that passed between the three courts.
I am quite as well informed of all negotiations between Austria and
France, for the secretary of the Austrian legation of this place,
a Count Weingarten, gave me, for promises and gold, copies of all
dispatches that came from Vienna and were forwarded to France. You see
the corruption of man has borne me good fruit, and that gold is a magic
wand which reveals all secrets. And now let us cast a hasty glance over
these papers which I have obtained by the aid of treachery and bribery.”

He took one of the papers and spread it before the astonished generals.
“You see here,” he continued, “a sample of all other negotiations. It is
a copy of a share contract which the courts of Vienna and Dresden
formed in 1745. They then regarded the decline of Prussia as so sure
an occurrence that they had already divided amongst themselves the
different parts of my land. Russia soon affixed her name also to this
contract, and here in this document you will see that these three powers
have sworn to attack Prussia at the same moment, and that for this
conquest, each one of the named courts was to furnish sixty thousand
men.”

While the generals were engaged in reading these papers, the king leaned
back in his arm-chair, gazing keenly at Retzow and Schwerin. He smiled
gayly as he saw Schwerin pressing his lips tightly together, and trying
in vain to suppress a cry of rage, and Retzow clinching his fists
vehemently.

When the papers had been read, and Schwerin was preparing to speak, the
king, with his head thrown proudly back, and gazing earnestly at his
listeners, interrupted him, saying:

“Now, sirs, perhaps you see the dangers by which we are surrounded.
Under the circumstances, I owe it to myself, to my honor, and to the
security of my land, to attack Austria and Saxony, and so to nip their
abominable designs in me bud, before their allies are ready to give
them any assistance. I am prepared, and the only question to be answered
before setting our army in motion, is where to commence the attack to
our advantage? For the deciding of this question, I have called you
together. I have finished and now, Marshal Schwerin, it is your turn.”

The old gray warrior arose. It may be that he was convinced by the
powerful proofs and words of the king, or that knowing that his will was
law it were vain to oppose him, but he was now as strongly for war as
the king or Winterfeldt.

“If there is to be war,” said he, enthusiastically, “let us start
to-morrow, take Saxony, and, in that land of corn, build magazines for
the holding of our provisions, so as to secure a way for our future
operations in Bohemia.”

“Ah! now I recognize my old Schwerin,” said the king, gayly pressing the
marshal’s hand. “No more delay! ‘To anticipate’ is my motto, and shall,
God willing, be Prussia’s in future.”

“And our army,” said Winterfeldt, with sparkling eyes, “has been
accustomed, for hundreds of years, not only to defend themselves,
but also to attack. Ah, at last it is to be granted us to fight our
arch-enemies in open field, mischief-making Austria, intriguing Saxony,
barbarous Russia, and finally lying, luxurious France, and to convince
them that, though we do not fear their anger, we share their hatred with
our whole hearts.”

“And you, Retzow,” said the king, sternly, turning to the general, who
was sitting silently with downcast head; “do your views coincide with
Schwerin’s? Or do you still think it were better to wait?”

“Yes, sire,” said Retzow, sadly; “I think delay, under the present
threatening circumstances, would be the wisest course; I--”

He was interrupted by the entrance of a valet, who approached the king,
and whispered a few words to him.

Frederick turned smilingly to the generals. “The princes, my brothers,
have arrived,” said he; “they were to be here at this hour to hear the
result of our consultation. And, it strikes me, they arrive at the right
moment. The princes may enter.”



CHAPTER IX. THE KING AND HIS BROTHERS.


The door was thrown open and the princes entered. First came the Prince
of Prussia, whose pale, dejected countenance was to-day paler and
sadder than usual. Then Prince Henry, whose quick bright eyes were fixed
inquiringly on General Retzow. The general shrugged his shoulders, and
shook his head. Prince Henry must have understood these movements, for
his brow became clouded, and a deep red suffused his countenance. The
king, who had seen this, laughed mockingly, and let the princes approach
very close to him, before addressing them.

“Sirs,” said he, “I have called you here, because I have some important
news to communicate. The days of peace are over and war is at hand!”

“War! and with whom?” said the Prince of Prussia, earnestly. “War with
our enemies!” cried the king. “War with those who have sworn Prussia’s
destruction. War with Austria, France, Saxony, and Russia!”

“That is impossible, my brother,” cried the prince, angrily. “You cannot
dream of warring against such powerful nations. You cannot believe in
the possibility of victory. Powerful and mighty as your spirit is it
will have to succumb before the tremendous force opposed to it. Oh! my
brother! my king! be merciful to yourself, to us, to our country. Do
not desire the impossible! Do not venture into the stormy sea of war,
to fight with your frail barks against the powerful men of war that your
enemies, will direct against you. We cannot be victorious! Preserve to
your country your own precious life, and that of her brave sons.”

The king’s eyes burned with anger; they were fixed with an expression of
deep hatred upon the prince.

“Truly, my brother,” said he, in a cold, cutting tone, “fear has made
you eloquent. You speak as if inspired.”

A groan escaped the prince, and he laid his hand unwittingly upon his
sword. He was deadly pale, and his lips trembled so violently, that he
could scarcely speak.

“Fear!” said he, slowly. “That is an accusation which none but the king
would dare to bring against me, and of which I will clear myself, if it
comes to this unhappy war which your majesty proposes, and which I now
protest against, in the name of my rights, my children, and my country.”

“And I,” said Prince Henry, earnestly--“I also protest against this war!
Have pity on us, my king. Much as I thirst for renown and glory, often
as I have prayed to God to grant me an occasion to distinguish myself,
I now swear to subdue forever this craving for renown, if it can only be
obtained at the price of this frightful, useless war. You stand alone!
Without allies, it is impossible to conquer. Why, then, brave certain
ruin and destruction?”

The king’s countenance was frightful to look at; his eyes were
flashing with rage, and his voice was like thunder, it was so loud and
threatening.

“Enough of this!” said he; “you were called here, not to advise, but
to receive my commands. The brother has heard you patiently, but now
the King of Prussia stands before you, and demands of you obedience and
submission. We are going to battle; this is settled; and your complaints
and fears will not alter my determination But all those who fear to
follow me on the battle-field, have my permission to remain at home, and
pass their time in love idyls. Who, amongst you all, prefers this? Let
him speak, and he shall follow his own inclinations.”

“None of us could do that,” said Prince Henry, passionately “If the
King of Prussia calls his soldiers, they will all come and follow their
chieftain joyfully, though they are marching to certain death. I have
already given you my personal opinion; it now rests with me to obey
you, as a soldier, as a subject. This I will do joyfully, without
complaining.”

“I also,” said Prince Augustus William, earnestly. “Like my brother,
I will know how to subdue my own opinions and fears, and to follow in
silent obedience my king and my chieftain.”

The king threw a glance of hatred upon the pale, disturbed countenance
of the prince.

“You will go where I command you,” said he, sharply; and not giving the
prince time to answer, he turned abruptly to Marshal Schwerin.

“Well, marshal, do you wish for a furlough, during this war? You heard
me say I would refuse it to no one.”

“I demand nothing of your majesty, but to take part in the first
battle against your enemies. I do not ask who they are. The hour for
consultation is past: it is now time to act. Let us to work, and that
right quickly.”

“Yes, to battle, sire,” cried Retzow, earnestly. “As soon as your
majesty has said that this war is irrevocable, your soldiers must have
no further doubts, and they will follow you joyfully, to conquer or to
die.”

“And you, Winterfeldt,” said the king, taking his favorite’s hand
tenderly; “have you nothing to say? Or have the Prince of Prussia’s
fears infected you, and made of you a coward?”

“Ah, no! sire,” said Winterfeldt, pressing the king’s hand to his
breast; “how could my courage fail, when it is Prussia’s hero king that
leads to battle? How can I be otherwise than joyous and confident
of victory, when Frederick calls us to fight against his wicked and
arrogant enemies? No! I have no fears; God and the true cause is on our
side.”

Prince Henry approached nearer to the king, and looking at him proudly,
he said:

“Sire, you asked General Winterfeldt if he shared the Prince of
Prussia’s fears. He says no; but I will beg your majesty to remember,
that I share entirely the sentiments of my dear and noble brother.”

As he finished, he threw an angry look at General Winterfeldt. The
latter commenced a fierce rejoinder, but was stopped by the king. “Be
still, Winterfeldt,” he said; “war has as yet not been declared,
and till then, let there at least be peace in my own house.” Then
approaching Prince Henry, and laying his hand on his shoulder, he said
kindly: “We will not exasperate each other, my brother. You have a
noble, generous soul, and no one would dare to doubt your courage. It
grieves me that you do not share my views as to the necessity of this
war, but I know that you will be a firm, helpful friend, and share with
me my dangers, my burdens, and if God wills it, also my victory.”

“Not I alone will do this,” cried Prince Henry, “but also my brother,
Augustus William, the Prince of Prussia, whose heart is not less brave,
whose courage--”

“Hush, Henry! I pray you,” said the Prince of Prussia, sadly; “speak not
of my courage. By defending it, it would seem that it had been doubted,
and that is a humiliation which I would stand from no one”

The king appeared not to have heard these words. He took some papers
from the table by which he was standing, and said:

“All that remains to be told you now, is that I agree with Marshal
Schwerin. We will commence the attack in Saxony. To Saxony, then,
gentlemen! But, until the day before the attack, let us keep even the
question of war a secret.”

Then, with the paper under his arm, he passed through the saloon and
entered his library.

There was a long pause after he left. The Prince of Prussia, exhausted
by the storm which had swept over his soul, had withdrawn to one of the
windows, where he was hid from view by the heavy satin damask curtains.

Prince Henry, standing alone in the middle of the room, gazed after his
brother, and a deep sigh escaped him. Then turning to Retzow, he said:

“You would not, then, fulfil my brother’s and my own wishes?”

“I did all that was in my power, prince,” said the general, sighing.
“Your highness did not wish this war to take place; you desired me, if
the king asked for my advice, to tell him that we were too weak, and
should therefore keep the peace. Well, I said this, not only because you
desired it, but because it was also my own opinion. But the king’s will
was unalterable. He has meditated this war for years. Years ago,
with Winterfeldt’s aid, he drew all the plans and made every other
arrangement.”

“Winterfeldt!” murmured the prince to himself, “yes, Winterfeldt is the
fiend whose whispers have misled the king. We suspected this long ago,
but we had to bear it in silence, for we could not prevent it.”

And giving his passionate nature full play, he approached General
Winterfeldt, who was whispering to Marshal Schwerin.

“You can rejoice, general,” said the prince, “for now you can take your
private revenge on the Empress of Russia.”

Winterfeldt encountered the prince’s angry glance with a quiet, cheerful
look.

“Your highness does me too much honor in thinking that a poor soldier,
such as I am, could be at enmity with a royal empress. What could this
Russian empress have done to me, that could call for revenge on my
part?”

“What has she done to you?” said the prince, with a mocking smile. “Two
things, which man finds hardest to forgive! She outwitted you, and took
your riches from you. Ah! general, I fear this war will be in vain,
and that you will not be able to take your wife’s jewels from St.
Petersburg, where the empress retains them.”

Winterfeldt subdued his anger, and replied: “You have related us a
beautiful fairy tale, prince, a tale from the Arabian Nights, in which
there is a talk of jewels and glorious treasures, only that in this
tale, instead of the usual dragon, an empress guards them. I acknowledge
that I do not understand your highness.”

“But I understand you perfectly, general. I know your ambitious and
proud plans. You wish to make your name renowned. General, I consider
you are much in fault as to this war. You were the king’s confidant--you
had your spies everywhere, who, for heavy rewards, imparted to you the
news by which you stimulated the king.”

“If in your eyes,” said Winterfeldt, proudly, “it is wrong to spend
your gold to find out the intrigues of your own, your king’s, and your
country’s enemies, I acknowledge that I am in fault, and deserve to be
punished. Yes, everywhere I have had my spies, and thanks to them, the
king knows Saxony’s, Austria’s, and Russia’s intentions. I paid these
spies with my own gold. Your highness may thus perceive that I am not
entirely dependent on those jewels of my wife which are said to be in
the Empress of Russia’s possession.”

At this moment the Prince of Prussia, who had been a silent witness to
this scene, approached General Winterfeldt.

“General,” said he, in a loud, solemn voice, “you are the cause of
this unfortunate war which will soon devastate our poor land. The
responsibility falls upon your head, and woe to you if this war, caused
by your ambition, should be the ruin of our beloved country! I would, if
there were no punishment for you on earth, accuse you before the throne
of God, and the blood of the slaughtered sons of my country, the blood
of my future subjects, would cry to Heaven for revenge! Woe to you it
this war should be the ruin of Prussia!” repeated Prince Henry. “I could
never forgive that; I would hold your ambition responsible for it, for
you have access to the king’s heart, and instead of dissipating his
distrust against these foreign nations, you have endeavored to nourish
it--instead of softening the king’s anger, you have given it fresh
food.”

“What I have done,” cried Winterfeldt, solemnly raising his right hand
heavenward--“what I have done was done from a feeling of duty, from love
of my country, and from a firm, unshaken trust in my king’s star, which
cannot fade, but must become ever more and more resplendent! May God
punish me if I have acted from other and less noble motives!”

“Yes, may God punish you--may He not revenge your crime upon our poor
country!” said Prince Augustus William. “I have said my last upon this
sad subject. From now on, my private opinions are subdued--I but obey
the king’s commands. What he requires of me shall be done--where he
sends me I will go, without questioning or considering, but quietly and
obediently, as it becomes a true soldier. I hope that you, my brother,
Marshal Schwerin, and General Retzow, will follow my example. The king
has commanded, we have but to obey cheerfully.”

Then, arm in arm, the princes left the audience-room and returned to
Berlin.



CHAPTER X. THE LAUREL-BRANCH.


While this last scene was passing in the audience-room, the king had
retired to his study, and was walking up and down in deep thought. His
countenance was stern and sorrowful--a dark cloud was upon his brow--his
lips were tightly pressed together--powerful emotions were disturbing
his whole being. He stopped suddenly, and raising his head proudly,
seemed to be listening to the thoughts and suggestions of his soul.

“Yes,” said he, “these were his very words: ‘I protest against this
war in the name of my rights, my children, and my country!’ Ah, it is a
pleasant thought to him that he is to be heir to my throne. He imagines
that he has rights beyond those that I grant him, and that he can
protest against an action of mine! He is a rebel, a traitor. He dares
to think of the time when I will be gone--of the time when he or his
children will wear this crown! I feel that I hate him as my father hated
me because I was his heir, and because the sight of me always reminded
him of his death! Yes, I hate him! The effeminate boy will disturb the
great work which I am endeavoring to perform. Under his weak hands, this
Prussia, which I would make great and powerful, will fail to pieces, and
all my battles and conquests will be in vain. He will not know how to
make use of them. I will make of my Prussia a mighty and much-feared
nation. And if I succeed, by giving up my every thought to this one
object, then my brother will come and destroy this work which has cost
me such pain and trouble. Prussia needs a strong, active king, not an
effeminate boy who passes his life in sighing for his lost love and in
grumbling at fate for making him the son of a king. Yes, I feel that I
hate him, for I foresee that he will be the destroyer of my great work.
But no, no--I do him wrong,” said the king, “and my suspicious heart
sees, perhaps, things that are not. Ah, has it gone so far? Must I,
also, pay the tribute which princes give for their pitiful splendor? I
suspect the heir to my throne, and see in him a secret enemy! Mistrust
has already thrown her shadow upon my soul, and made it dark and
troubled. Ah, there will come a cold and dreary night for me, when I
shall stand alone in the midst of all my glory!”

His head fell upon his breast, and he remained silent and immovable.

“And am I not alone, now?” said he, and in his voice there was a soft
and sorrowful sound. “My brothers are against me, because they do not
understand me; my sisters fear me, and, because this war will disturb
their peace and comfort, will hate me. My mother’s heart has cooled
toward me, because I will not be influenced by her; and Elizabeth
Christine, whom the world calls my wife, weeps in solitude over the
heavy chains which bind her. Not one of them loves me!--not one believes
in me, and in my future!”

The king, given up to these melancholy thoughts, did not hear a knock at
his door; it was now repeated, and so loudly, that he could not but hear
it. He hastened to the door and opened it. Winterfeldt was there, with a
sealed paper in his hand, which he gave to the king, begging him at the
same time to excuse this interruption.

“It is the best thing you could have done,” said the king, entering his
room, and signing to the general to follow him. “I was in bad company,
with my own sorrowful thoughts, and it is good that you came to
dissipate them.”

“This letter will know well how to do that,” said Winterfeldt handing
him the packet; “a courier brought it to me from Berlin.”

“Letters from my sister Wilhelmina, from Italy,” said the king, joyfully
breaking the seal, and unfolding the papers.

There were several sheets of paper closely written, and between them
lay a small, white packet. The king kept the latter in his hand, and
commenced reading eagerly. As he read, the dark, stern expression
gradually left his countenance. His brow was smooth and calm, and a
soft, beautiful smile played about his lips. He finished the letter,
and throwing it hastily aside, tore open the package. In it was a
laurel-branch, covered with beautiful leaves, which looked as bright and
green as if they had just been cut. The king raised it, and looked at it
tenderly. “Ah, my friend,” said he, with a beaming smile, “see how kind
Providence is to me! On this painful day she sends me a glorious token,
a laurel-branch. My sister gathered it for me on my birthday. Do you
know where, my friend? Bow your head, be all attention; for know that it
is a branch from the laurel-tree that grows upon Virgil’s grave! Ah, my
friend, it seems to me as if the great and glorious spirits of the olden
ages were greeting me with this laurel which came from the grave of one
of their greatest poets. My sister sends it to me, accompanied by some
beautiful verses of her own. An old fable says that these laurels grew
spontaneously upon Virgil’s grave, and that they are indestructible. May
this be a blessed omen for me! I greet you, Virgil’s holy shadow! I bow
down before you, and kiss in all humility your ashes, which have been
turned into laurels!”

Thus speaking, the king bowed his head, and pressed a fervent kiss upon
the laurel. He then handed it to Winterfeldt. “Do likewise, my friend,”
 said he; “your lips are worthy to touch this holy branch, to inhale
the odor of these leaves which grew upon Virgil’s grave. Kiss this
branch--and now let us swear to become worthy of this kiss; swear that
in this war, which will soon begin, laurels shall either rest upon our
brows or upon our graves!”

Winterfeldt having sworn, repeated these words after him, “Amen!” said
the king; “God and Virgil have heard us.”



CHAPTER XI. THE BALL AT COUNT BRUHL’S.


Count Bruhl, first minister to the King of Saxony, gave to-day a
magnificent fete in his palace, in honor of his wife, whose birthday it
was. The feast was to be honored by the presence of the King of Poland,
the Prince Elector of Saxony, Augustus III., and Maria Josephine, his
wife. This was a favor which the proud queen granted to her favorite
for the first time. For she who had instituted there the stern Spanish
etiquette to which she had been accustomed at the court of her father,
Joseph I., had never taken a meal at the table of one of her subjects;
so holy did she consider her royal person, that the ambassadors of
foreign powers were not permitted to sit at the same table with her.
Therefore, at every feast at the court of Dresden, there was a small
table set apart for the royal family, and only the prime minister, Count
Bruhl, was deserving of the honor to eat with the king and queen. This
was a custom which pleased no one so well as the count himself, for it
insured him from the danger that some one might approach the royal pair,
and inform them of some occurrence of which the count wished them to
remain in ignorance.

There were many slanderers in this wretched kingdom--many who were
envious of the count’s high position--many who dared to believe that the
minister employed the king’s favor for his own good, and not for that of
his country. They said that he alone lived luxuriously in this miserable
land, while the people hungered; that he spent every year over a million
of thalers. They declared that he had not less than five millions now
lying in the banks of Rotterdam, Venice, and Marseilles; others
said that he had funds to the amount of seven millions. One of these
calumniators might possibly approach the king’s table and whisper into
the royal ear his wicked slanders; one of these evil-doers might even
have the audacity to make his unrighteous complaints to the queen. This
it was that caused Count Bruhl to tremble; this it was that robbed him
of sleep at night, of peace by day, this fear of a possible disgrace.

He was well acquainted with the history of Count Lerma, minister to King
Philip IV. of Spain. Lerma was also the ruler of a king, and reigned
over Spain, as Bruhl over Saxony. All had succumbed to his power and
influence, even the royal family trembled when he frowned, and felt
themselves honored by his smile. What was it that caused the ruin of
this all-powerful, irreproachable favorite? A little note which King
Philip found between his napkin one day, upon which was this address:
“To Philip IV., once King of Spain, and Master of both the Indies, but
now in the service of Count Lerma!” This it was that caused the count’s
ruin; Philip was enraged by this note, and the powerful favorite fell
into disgrace.

Count Bruhl knew this history, and was on his guard. He knew that even
the air which he breathed was poisoned by the malice of his enemies;
that those who paused in the streets to greet him reverentially when he
passed in his gilded carriage, cursed him in their inmost hearts; that
those friends who pressed his hand and sung songs in his praise, would
become his bitterest enemies so soon as he ceased paying for their
friendship with position, with pensions, with honors, and with orders.
He spent hundreds of thousands yearly to gain friends and admirers, but
still he was in constant fear that some enemy would undermine him. This
had indeed once happened. During the time that the king’s favor was
shared equally with Count Bruhl, Count Sulkovsky, and Count Hennicke,
whilst playing cards, a piece of gold was given to the king, upon which
was represented the crown of Poland, resting upon the shoulders of three
men, with the following inscription: “There are three of us, two
pages and one lackey!” The King of Poland was as much enraged by this
satirical piece of gold as was the King of Spain by his satirical note.
But Count Bruhl succeeded in turning the king’s anger upon the two other
shoulder-bearers of his crown. Counts Sulkovsky and Hennicke fell into
disgrace, and were banished from the court; Count Bruhl remained, and
reigned as absolute master over Poland and Saxony!

But reigning, he still trembled, and therefore he favored the queen’s
fancy for the strictest etiquette; therefore, no one but Count Bruhl
was to eat at the royal table; he himself took their napkins from their
plates and handed them to the royal couple; no one was to approach the
sovereigns who was not introduced by the prime minister, who was at once
master of ceremonies, field-marshal, and grand chamberlain, and received
for each of these different posts a truly royal salary. Etiquette and
the fears of the powerful favorite kept the royal pair almost prisoners.

But for to-day etiquette was to be done away with; the crowned heads
were to be gracious, so as to lend a new glory to their favorite’s
house. To-day the count was fearless, for there was no danger of a
traitor being among his guests. His wife and himself had drawn up the
list of invitations. But still, as there might possibly be those among
them who hated the count, and would very gladly injure him, he had
ordered some of the best paid of his friends to watch all suspicious
characters, not to leave them alone for a moment, and not to overlook a
single word of theirs. Of course, it was understood that the count and
his wife must remain continually at the side of the king and queen, that
all who wished to speak to them must first be introduced by the host or
hostess.

The count was perfectly secure to-day, and therefore gay and happy. He
had been looking at the different arrangements for this feast, and he
saw with delight that they were such as to do honor to his house. It
was, to be a summer festival: the entire palace had been turned into
a greenhouse, that served only for an entrance to the actual scene of
festivities. This was the immense garden. In the midst of the rarest and
most beautiful groups of flowers, immense tents were raised; they were
of rich, heavy silk, and were festooned at the sides with golden cords
and tassels. Apart from these was a smaller one, which outshone them
all in magnificence. The roof of this tent rested upon eight pillars of
gold; it was composed of a dark-red velvet, over which a slight gauze,
worked with gold and silver stars, was gracefully arranged. Upon the
table below this canopy, which rested upon a rich Turkish carpet, there
was a heavy service of gold, and the most exquisite Venetian glass;
the immense pyramid in the middle of the table was a master-work of
Benevenuto Cellini, for which the count had paid in Rome one hundred
thousand thalers. There were but seven seats, for no one was to eat
at this table but the royal pair, the prince-elector and his wife, the
Prince Xavier, and the Count and Countess Bruhl. This was a new triumph
that the count had prepared for himself; he wished his guests to see
the exclusive royal position he occupied. And no one could remain in
ignorance of this triumph, for from every part of the garden the royal
tent could be seen, being erected upon a slight eminence. It was like
a scene from fairyland. There were rushing cascades, beautiful marble
statues, arbors and bowers, in which were birds of every color from
every clime. Behind a group of trees was a lofty structure of the purest
marble, a shell, borne aloft by gigantic Tritons and mermaids, in which
there was room for fifty musicians, who were to fill the air with sweet
sounds, and never to become so loud as to weary the ear or disturb
conversation. If the tents, the rushing cascades, the rare flowers, the
many colored birds, were a beautiful sight by daylight, how much more
entrancing it would be at night, when illuminated by thousands of
brilliant lamps!

The count, having taken a last look at the arrangements and seen that
they were perfect, now retired to his rooms, and there, with the aid
of his twelve valets, he commenced his toilet. The countess had already
been in the hands of her Parisian coiffeur for some hours.

The count wore a suit of blue velvet. The price of embroidery in silver
and pearls on his coat would have furnished hundreds of wretched,
starving families with bread. His diamond shoe-buckles would almost have
sufficed to pay the army, which had gone unpaid for months. When his
toilet was finished, he entered his study to devote a few moments, at
least, to his public duties, and to read those letters which to-day’s
post had brought him from all parts of the world, and which his
secretary was accustomed to place in his study at this hour. He took a
letter, broke the seal hastily, and skimming over it quickly, threw it
aside and opened another, to read anew the complaints, the prayers, the
flatteries, the assurances of love, of his correspondents. But none of
them were calculated to compel the minister’s attention. He had long ago
hardened his heart against prayers and complaints; as for flattery, he
well knew that he had to pay for it with pensions, with position, with
titles, with orders, etc., etc. But it seemed as if the letters were
not all of the usual sort, for the expression of indifference which had
rested upon his countenance while reading the others, had vanished and
given place to one of a very different character. This letter was from
Flemming, the Saxon ambassador in Berlin, and contained strange, wild
rumors. The King of Prussia, it seemed, had left Berlin the day before,
with all the princes and his staff officers, and no one knew exactly
where he was going! Rumor said, though, that he and his army were
marching toward Saxony! After reading this, Count Bruhl broke out into a
loud laugh.

“Well,” said he, “it must be granted that this little poet-king,
Frederick, has the art of telling the most delightful fairy-tales to
his subjects, and of investing every action of his with the greatest
importance. Ah, Margrave of Brandenburg! we will soon be in a condition
to take your usurped crown from your head. Parade as much as you
like--make the world believe in you and your absurd manoeuvres--the day
will soon come when she will but see in you a poor knight with naught
but his title of marquis.” With a triumphant smile he threw down the
letter and grasped the next. “Another from Flemming?” said he. “Why,
truly, the good count is becoming fond of writing. Ah,” said he, after
reading it carelessly, “more warnings! He declares that the King of
Prussia intends attacking Saxony--that he is now already at our borders.
He then adds, that the king is aware of the contract which we and our
friends have signed, swearing to attack Prussia simultaneously. Well,
my good Flemming, there is not much wisdom needed to tell me that if the
king knows of our contract, he will be all the more on his guard,
and will make preparations to defend himself; for he would not be so
foolhardy as to attempt to attack our three united armies. No, no. Our
regiments can remain quietly in Poland, the seventeen thousand men here
will answer all purposes.”

“There is but one more of these begging letters,” said he, opening it,
but throwing it aside without reading it. Out of it fell a folded piece
of paper. “Why,” said the count, taking it up, “there are verses. Has
Flemming’s fear of the Prussian king made a poet of him?” He opened it
and read aloud:

“‘A piece of poetry which a friend, Baron Pollnitz, gave me yesterday.
The author is the King of Prussia.’”

“Well,” said the count, laughing, “a piece of poetry about me--the king
does me great honor. Let us see; perhaps these verses can be read at the
table to-day, and cause some amusement. ‘Ode to Count Bruhl,’ with this
inscription: ‘il ne faut pas s’inquieter de l’avsnir.’ That is a wise
philosophical sentence, which nevertheless did not spring from the brain
of his Prussian majesty. And now for the verses.” And straightening the
paper before him, he commenced.

     “Esclave malheureux de la haute fortune,
     D’un roi trop indolent souverain absolu,
     Surcharge de travaux dont le soin L’importune.
     Bruhl, quitte des grandeurs L’embarras superflu.
          Au sein de ton opulence
          Je vois le Dieu des ennuis,
          Et dans ta magnificence
          Le repos fait tes units.

     “Descend de ce palais dont le superbe faite
     Domine sur la Saxe, s’elevent aux cieux.
     D’ou ton esprit craintif conjure la tempete
     Que souleve ala cour un peuple d’envieux:
          Vois cette grandeur fragile
          Et cesse enfin d’admirer
          L’eclat pompeux d’une ville
          Ou tout feint de t’adorer.”

The count’s voice had at first been loud, pathetic, and slightly
ironical, but it became gradually lower, and sank at last almost to a
whisper. A deep, angry red suffused his face, as he read on. Again his
voice became louder as he read the last two verses:

     “Connaissez la Fortune inconstante et legere;
     La perfide se plait aux plus cruels revers,
     On la voit, abuber le sage, le vulgaire,
     Jouer insolemment tout ce faible univers;
          Aujourd’hui c’est sur ma tete
          Qu’elle repand des faveurs,
          Des demain elle s’apprete
          A les emporter ailleurs.”

     “Fixe-t-elle sur moi sa bizarre inconstance,
     Mon concur lui saura gre’ du bien qu’elle me fait
     Veut’elle en d’autres lieux marquer sa bienvellance,
     Je lui remets ses dons sans chagrin, sans regret.
          Plein d’une vertu plus forte
          J’epouse la pauvrete’
          Si pour dot elle m’apporte
          L’honneur et la probite’”

[Footnote: ODE TO COUNT BRUHL. Inscription.--“It is not necessary to
make ourselves uneasy about the future.”

     “High Destiny’s unhappy slave,
     Absolute lord of too indolent a king,
     Oppressed with work whose care importunes him--
     Bruhl, leave the useless perplexities of grandeur.
          In the bosom of thine opulence
          I see the God of the wearied ones,
          And in thy magnificence
          Repose makes thy nights.”

     “Descend from this palace, whose haughty dome
     Towering o’er Saxony, rises to the skies;
     In which thy fearful mind confines the tempest.
     Which agitates at the court, a nation of enviers.
          Look at this fragile grandeur,
          And cease at last to admire
          The pompous shining of a city
          Where all feign to adore thee.”

     “Know that Fortune is light and inconstant;
     A deceiver who delights
     in cruel reverses;
     She is seen to abuse the wise man, the vulgar
     Insolently playing with all this weak universe.
          To-day it is on my head
          That she lets her favors fall,
          By to-morrow she will be prepared
          To carry them elsewhere.”

     “Does she fix on me her wayward fickleness,
     My heart will be grateful for the good she does me;
     Does she wish to show elsewhere her benevolence,
     I give her back her gifts without pain--without regret.
          Filled with strongest virtue,
          I will espouse Poverty,
          If for dower she brings me
          Honor and probity.”]


The paper fell from the count’s hand and he looked at it thoughtfully.
An expression of deep emotion rested upon his countenance, which, in
spite of his fifty years, could still be called handsome--as he repeated
in a low, trembling voice:

“J’epouse la pauvrete, Si pour dot elle m’apporte L’honneur et la
probite.”

The sun coming through the window rested upon his tall form, causing
the many jewels upon his garments to sparkle like stars on the blue
background, enveloping him in a sort of glory. He had repeated for the
third time, “J’epouse la pauvrete,” when the door leading to his wife’s
apartments was opened, and the countess entered in the full splendor of
her queenly toilet, sparkling with jewels. The count was startled by her
entrance, but he now broke out into a loud, mocking laugh.

“Truly, countess,” said he, “you could not have found a better moment to
interrupt me. For the last half hour my thoughts have been given up
to sentiment. Wonderful dreams have been chasing each other through
my brain. But you have again shown yourself my good angel, Antonia, by
dissipating these painful thoughts.” He pressed a fervent kiss upon her
hand, then looking at her with a beaming countenance, he said:

“How beautiful you are, Antonia; you must have found that mysterious
river which, if bathed in, insures perpetual youth and beauty.”

“Ah!” said the countess, smiling, “all know that no one can flatter so
exquisitely as Count Bruhl.”

“But I am not always paid with the same coin, Antonia,” said the count,
earnestly. “Look at this poem, that the King of Prussia has written of
me. Truly, there is no flattery in it.”

While reading, the countess’s countenance was perfectly clear; not the
slightest cloud was to be seen upon her brow.

“Do you not think it a good poem?” said she, indifferently.

“Well,” said he, “I must acknowledge that there was a certain fire in it
that touched my heart.”

“I find it stupid,” said she, sternly. “There is but one thing in it
that pleases me, and that is the title-’il ne faut pas s’inquieter de
l’avenir.’ The little King of Prussia has done well to choose this for
his motto, for without it, it strikes me, his peace would be forever
gone, for his future will surely be a humiliating one.”

The count laughed.

“How true that is!” said he “and a just answer to his stupid poem. Speak
of something else.”

He tore the paper into small pieces, which, with a graceful bow, he laid
at the feet of the countess.

“A small sacrifice,” said he, “which I bring to my goddess. Tread upon
it, and destroy the king’s words with your fairy foot.” The countess
obeyed him, laughingly.

“But now, count,” said she, “we will, for a moment, speak of graver
things. I have received letters from Loudon-from our son. Poor Henry
is in despair, and he has requested me to intercede for him. You were
always very stern with him, my friend, therefore he fears your anger,
now that he has been a little imprudent.”

“Well, what is it?” said the count; “I hope it is no duel, for that
would make me extremely angry.”

“It is nothing of that kind. His imprudence is of another sort, He is in
want of money.”

“Money!” said the count, in amazement; “why, barely a month ago, I sent
him six hundred thousand thalers. That, and what he took with him, three
months ago, is quite a large sum, for it amounts to more than a million
of thalers.”

“But, my dear husband, in England every thing is so dear! and there, to
move amongst and impress those rich lords, he must really have more. It
seems that our Charles Joseph has fallen in love with a lady whom all
Loudon worships for her surpassing beauty. But she, having a cold heart,
will listen to no one. She laughs at those who flatter her, and will
receive no presents. She seemed an invincible fortress, but our son,
thanks to stratagem, has taken it.”

“I am curious to know how,” said the count, laughing.

“He played a game of ecarte with her. He played for notes to the amount
of ten pounds, and, at first, Charles won, much to the displeasure
of the proud lady, who did not relish being beaten, even in a game of
cards. Charles, perceiving this, played badly. The lady won from him
eighty thousand pounds.”

“Eighty thousand pounds,” cried the count, “why, that is a half a
million of thalers!”

“And do you mean to say,” said the countess, angrily, “that that is too
much to gain the favor of a beautiful lady?”

“No! it is not too much; but it is certainly enough. I hope, at least,
it was not in vain.”

“No, no! and Loudon is now raving about the intellectual, genial and
generous son of Count Bruhl. I trust, count, that you instantly sent him
a check.”

“Yes,” said the count, shrugging his shoulders. “But, countess, if the
king were to hear this story, it would cause much evil; for you know
that he believes in economy; luckily for me, he believes me to be an
economical man. Those enemies who would not dare to accuse us, would
have no fears of saying evil of our son; he will certainly hear this
eighty-thousand-pound story.”

“We will tell him ourselves, but say that the story is much
exaggerated.”

“What a wonderful woman you are, Antonia!” said her husband; “your
counsel is wise; we will follow it.”

At this moment a slight knocking was heard at the door, and the
secretary entered with a sealed letter.

“A courier from Torgau just arrived with this from the commandant.” The
count’s brow became clouded.

“Business! forever business!” said he. “How dared you annoy me with
this, upon the birthday of my wife?”

“Pardon, your excellency; but the courier brought with this packet such
strange news, that I ventured to disturb you, to communicate--”

The beating of drums and the thunder of cannon interrupted him.

“The king and queen are now entering their carriage,” cried the count.
“No more business to-day, my friend. It will keep till tomorrow. Come,
Antonia, we must welcome their majesties.” And taking his wife’s hand,
he passed out of the study.



CHAPTER XII. THE INTERRUPTED FEAST.


As the Count Bruhl and his wife entered the saloon, it almost seemed
as if they were the royal couple for whom all this company was waiting.
Every one of any rank or position in Dresden was present. There were
to be seen the gold and silver embroidered uniforms of generals and
ambassadors; jewelled stars were sparkling upon many breasts; the
proudest, loveliest women of the court, bearing the noblest Saxon names,
were there, accompanied by princes, counts, dukes, and barons, and one
and all were bowing reverentially to the count and his wife. And now, at
a sign from the grand chamberlain, the pages of the countess, clothed
in garments embroidered with silver and pearls, approached to carry her
train; beside them were the count’s officers, followed by all the noble
guests. Thus they passed through the third room, where the servants
of the house, numbering upward of two hundred, were placed in military
order, and then on until they came to the grand entrance, which had been
turned into a floral temple.

The royal equipage was at the gate; the host and hostess advanced to
welcome the king and queen, whose arrival had been announced by the roar
of cannon.

The king passed through the beautiful avenue, and greeted the company
placed on either side of him, gayly. The queen, sparkling with diamonds,
forcing herself also to smile, was at his side; and as their majesties
passed on, saying here and there a kind, merry word, it seemed as if the
sun had just risen over all these noble, rich, and powerful guests. This
was reflected upon every countenance. The gods had demanded from Olympus
to favor these mortals with their presence, and to enjoy themselves
among them. And truly, even a king might spend some happy hours in this
delightful garden.

The air was so soft and mild, so sweet from the odor of many flowers;
the rustling of the trees was accompanied by soft whispers of music that
seemed floating like angels’ wings upon the air. Every countenance was
sparkling with happiness and content, and the king could but take the
flattering unction to his soul that all his subjects were equally as
happy as the elite by which he was surrounded.

Pleased with this thought and delighted with all the arrangements
for the fete, the king gave himself up to an enjoyment which, though
somewhat clouding his character as a deity, was immensely gratifying to
him.

He abandoned himself to the delights of the table! He devoured with a
sort of amiable astonishment the rare and choice dishes which, even to
his experienced and pampered palate, appeared unfathomable mysteries;
luxuries had been procured, not only from Loudon and Paris, but from
every part of the world. He delighted himself with the gold and purple
wines, whose vintage was unknown to him, and whose odor intoxicated him
more than the perfume of flowers. He requested the count to give the
name and history of all these wines.

The count obeyed in that shy, reverential manner in which he was
accustomed to speak. He charmed him by relating the many difficulties he
had overcome to obtain this wine from the Cape of Good Hope, which had
to cross the line twice to arrive at its highest perfection. He said
that for two years he had been thinking of this gloriously happy day,
and had had a ship upon the sea for the purpose of perfecting this wine.
He bade the king notice the strangely formed fish, which could only be
obtained from the Chinese sea. Then, following up the subject, he spoke
of the peculiar and laughable customs and habits of the Chinese, thus
causing even the proud queen to laugh at his humorous descriptions.

Count Bruhl was suddenly interrupted in an unusual manner.

His secretary, Willmar, approached the royal table, and without a word
of excuse, without greeting the king, handed the count a sealed package!

This was such a crime against courtly etiquette that the count, from
sheer amazement, made no excuses to the king; he only cast a threatening
look at the secretary. But as he encountered Willmar’s pale, terrified
countenance, a tremor seized him, and he cast an eager glance upon
the papers in his hand, which, no doubt, contained the key to all
this mystery. “They are from the commandant at Leipsic,” whispered the
secretary; “I entreat your excellency to read them.”

Before the count had time, however, to open the dispatch, a still
stranger event took place.

The Prussian ambassador, who, upon the plea of illness, had declined
Count Bruhl’s invitation, suddenly appeared in the garden, accompanied
by the four secretaries of his legation, and approached the royal
table. Upon his countenance there was no sign of sickness, but rather an
expression of great joy.

As he neared the tent, the gay song and merry jest ceased. Every eye was
fixed inquiringly upon the individual who had dared to disturb this fete
by his presence. The music, which had before filled the air with joyous
sounds, was now playing a heart-breaking air.

Count Bruhl now arose and advanced. He greeted the Prussian ambassador
in a few cold, ceremonious words.

But Count Mattzahn’s only answer to this greeting was a silent bow. He
then said, in a voice loud enough to be heard by the king and queen:

“Count Bruhl, as ambassador of the King of Prussia, I request you to
demand an audience for me at once from the King of Saxony. I have an
important dispatch from my king.”

Count Bruhl, struck with terror, could only gaze at him, he had not the
strength to answer.

But King Augustus, rising from his seat, said:

“The ambassador of my royal brother can approach; I consent to grant
him this audience; it is demanded in so strange a manner, it must surely
have some important object.”

The count entered the royal tent.

“Is it your majesty’s wish,” said Mattzahn, solemnly, “that all these
noble guests shall be witnesses? I am commanded by my royal master to
demand a private audience.”

“Draw the curtain!” said the king.

Count Bruhl, with trembling fingers, drew the golden cord, and the heavy
curtains fell to the ground. They were now completely separated from the
guests.

“And now, count,” said the king, taking his seat by his proud, silent
queen, “speak.”

Bowing profoundly, Count Mattzahn drew a dispatch from his pocket, and
read in a loud, earnest voice.

It was a manifesto from the King of Prussia, written by himself and
addressed to all the European courts. In it, Frederick denied being
actuated by any desire of conquest or gain, but declared that he was
compelled to commence this war to which Austria had provoked him by her
many and prolonged insults. There was a pause when the count finished
reading. Upon the gentle, amiable countenance of the king there was now
an angry look. The queen was indifferent, cold, and haughty; she seemed
to have paid no attention whatever to Count Mattzahn, but, turning to
the princess at her side, she asked a perfectly irrelevant question,
which was answered in a whisper.

Countess Bruhl dared not raise her eyes; she did not wish her faithless
lover, Count Mattzahn, whose cunning political intrigues she now
perfectly understood, to see her pain and confusion. The prince-elector,
well aware of the importance of this hour, stood at the king’s side;
behind him was Count Bruhl, whose handsome, sparkling countenance was
now deadly pale.

Opposite to this agitated group, stood the Prussian ambassador, whose
haughty, quiet appearance presented a marked contrast. His clear,
piercing glance rested upon each one of them, and seemed to fathom every
thought of their souls. His tall, imposing form was raised proudly,
and there was an expression of the noblest satisfaction upon his
countenance. After waiting some time in vain for an answer, he placed
the manifesto before the king.

“With your majesty’s permission, I will now add a few words,” said he.

“Speak!” said the king, laconically.

“His majesty, my royal master,” continued Count Mattzahn, in a loud
voice, “has commissioned me to give your majesty the most quieting
assurances, and to convince you that his march through Saxony has
no purpose inimical to you, but that he only uses it as a passway to
Bohemia.”

The king’s countenance now became dark and stern, even the queen lost
some of her haughty indifference.

“How?” said the king; “Frederick of Prussia does us the honor to pass
through our land without permission? He intends coming to Saxony?”

“Sire,” said Mattzahn, with a slight smile, “his majesty is already
there! Yesterday his army, divided into three columns, passed the Saxon
borders!”

The king rose hastily from his seat. The queen was deadly pale, her lips
trembled, but she remained silent, and cast a look of bitter hatred upon
the ambassador of her enemy.

Count Bruhl was leaning against his chair, trembling with terror, when
the king turned to him.

“I ask my prime minister if he knows how far the King of Prussia has
advanced into Saxony?”

“Sire, I was in perfect ignorance of this unheard-of event. The King
of Prussia wishes to surprise us in a manner worthy of the most skilful
magician. Perhaps it is one of those April jests which Frederick II is
so fond of practising.”

“Your excellency can judge for yourself,” said Count Mattzahn,
earnestly, “whether the taking of towns and fortresses is to be
considered a jest. For, if I am rightly informed, you have this day
received two dispatches, informing you of my royal master’s line of
march.”

“How?” said the king, hastily; “you were aware of this, count, and I was
not informed? You received important dispatches, and I was not notified
of it?”

“It is true,” said the count, much embarrassed. “I received two
couriers. The dispatches of the first were handed to me the same moment
your majesties entered my house; I received the other just as Count
Mattzahn arrived. I have, therefore, read neither.”

“With your majesty’s permission,” said Count Mattzahn, “I will inform
you of their contents.”

“You will be doing me a great service,” said the king, earnestly.

“The first dispatch, sire, contained the news that his majesty the King
of Prussia had taken without resistance the fortresses of Torgau and
Wittenberg!”

A hollow groan escaped the king as he sank in his chair. The queen
became paler than before.

“What more?” said the king, gloomily.

“The second dispatch,” continued Count Mattzahn, smilingly, “informed
his excellency Count Bruhl that the King of Prussia, my noble and
victorious master, was pressing forward, and had also taken Leipsic
without the slightest resistance!”

“How!” said the king, “he is in Leipsic?”

“Sire, I think he was there,” said Count Mattzahn, laughing; “for it
seems that the Prussians, led by their king, have taken the wings of the
morning. Frederick was in Leipsic when the courier left--he must now be
on his way to Dresden. But he has commissioned me to say that his motive
for passing through Saxony is to see and request your majesty to take a
neutral part in this war between Austria and Prussia.”

“A neutral part!” said the king, angrily, “when my land is invaded
without question or permission, and peace broken in this inexplicable
manner. Have you any other message, count?”

“I have finished, sire, and humbly ask if you have any answer for my
sovereign?”

“Tell the king, your master, that I will raise my voice throughout
the land of Germany to complain of this unheard-of and arbitrary
infringement of the peace. At the throne of the German emperor I will
demand by what right the King of Prussia dares to enter Saxony with his
army and take possession of my cities. You can depart, sir; I have no
further answer for his majesty!”

The count, bowing reverentially to the king and queen, left the royal
tent.

Every eye was fixed upon the prime minister. From him alone, who was
considered the soul of the kingdom of Saxony, help and counsel was
expected. All important questions were referred to him, and all were
now eagerly looking for his decision. But the powerful favorite was in
despair. He knew how utterly impossible it was to withstand the King of
Prussia’s army. Every arrangement for this war had been made on paper,
but in reality little had been accomplished. The army was not in
readiness! The prime minister had been in want of a few luxuries of
late, and had, therefore, as he believed there would be no war until the
following spring, reduced it. He knew how little Saxony was prepared
to battle against the King of Prussia’s disciplined troops, and the
ambassador’s friendly assurances did not deceive him.

“Well, count,” said the king, after a long pause, “how is this
strange request of Frederick II., that we should remain neutral, to be
answered?”

Before the count was able to answer, the queen said, in a loud voice:

“By a declaration of war, my husband! This is due to your honor. We have
been insulted; it therefore becomes you to throw down the gauntlet to
your presumptuous adversary.”

“We will continue this conversation in my apartments,” said the king,
rising; “this is no place for it. Our beautiful feast has been disturbed
in a most brutal manner. Count Bruhl, notify the different ambassadors
that, in an hour, I will receive them at my palace.”

“This hour is mine!” thought the queen, as she arose; “in it I will
stimulate my husband’s soft and gentle heart to a brave, warlike
decision; he will yield to my prayers and tears.” She took the king’s
arm with a gay smile, and left the tent, followed by the princes, and
the host and hostess.

Silently they passed the festive tables, from which the guests had risen
to greet them. The courtiers sought to read in their countenances the
solution of that riddle which had occupied them since the arrival of the
Prussian ambassador, and about which they had been anxiously debating.

But, upon the queen’s countenance there was now her general look of
indifference. It is true, the king was not smiling as was his wont when
amongst his subjects, but his pleasant countenance betrayed no fear or
sorrow. The queen maintained her exalted bearing; nothing had passed
to bow her proud head. After the royal guests had left, Count Bruhl
returned. He also had regained his usual serenity. With ingenious
friendliness he turned to his guests, and while requesting them, in
a flattering manner, to continue to grace his wife’s fete by their
presence, demanded for himself leave of absence. Then passing on, he
whispered here and there a few words to the different ambassadors. They
and the count then disappeared.

The fete continued quietly; the music recommenced its gay, melodious
sounds, the birds carolled their songs, and the flowers were as
beautiful and as sweet as before. The jewels of the courtiers sparkled
as brilliantly. Their eyes alone were not so bright, and the happy smile
had left their lips. They were all weighed down by a presentiment that
danger was hovering around them.



CHAPTER XIII. THE ARCHIVES AT DRESDEN.


Count Mattzahn’s prophecy came true. The King of Prussia came to
Dresden, and there, as in every other part of Saxony, found no
resistance. Fear and terror had gone before him, disarming all
opposition. The king and prince-elector were not accustomed to have
a will of their own; and Count Bruhl, the favorite of fortune, showed
himself weak and helpless in the hour of adversity. It needed the
queen’s powerful energy, and the forcible representations of the French
ambassador, Count Broglio, to arouse them from their lethargy; and
what Count Broglio’s representations, and the queen’s prayers and tears
commenced, hatred finished. Count Bruhl’s sinking courage rose at the
thought of the possibility of still undermining the King of Prussia, and
putting an end to his victorious march. It was only necessary to detain
him, to prevent him from reaching the Bohemian borders, until the
Austrian army came to their assistance, until the French troops had
entered and taken possession of Prussia. Therefore, Count Bruhl sent
courier after courier to Saxony’s allies, to spread her cry for help to
every friendly court. He then collected the army, ordered them to camp
at Pirna, which was very near the boundary of Bohemia, and, as it
was guarded on one side by the Elbe, and on the other by high rocks,
appeared perfectly secure. When these preparations were commenced, the
count’s courage rose considerably, and he determined to prove himself
a hero, and to give the Saxon army the inspiring consciousness that,
in the hour of danger, their king would be in their midst. The king
therefore left for the fortress of Konigstein, accompanied by Count
Bruhl, leaving the army, consisting of about seventeen thousand men, to
follow under the command of General Rutrosky, and to encamp at the foot
of Konigstein. Arrived at Konigstein, where they thought themselves
perfectly secure, they gave themselves up to the free and careless
life of former days. They had only changed their residence, not their
character; their dreams were of future victories, of the many provinces
they would take from the King of Prussia; and with this delightful
prospect the old gay, luxurious, and wanton life was continued. What
difference did it make to Count Bruhl that the army was only provided
with commissary stores for fourteen days, and that this time was
almost past, and no way had been found to furnish them with additional
supplies. The King of Prussia had garrisoned every outlet, and only the
King of Saxony’s forage-wagon was allowed to pass.

Frederick knew better than the Saxon generals the fearful, invincible
enemy that was marching to the camp of Pirna. What were the barricades,
the palisades, and ambushes, by which the camp was surrounded, to this
enemy? This foe was in the camp, not outside of it--he had no need to
climb the barricades--he came hither flying through the air, breathing,
like a gloomy bird of death, his horrible cries of woe. This enemy was
hunger--enervating, discouraging, demoralizing hunger!

The fourteen days had expired, and in the camp of Pirna languished
seventeen thousand men! The bread rations became smaller and smaller;
but the third part of the usual meat ration was given; the horses’ food
also was considerably shortened. Sorrow and starvation reigned in
the camp. Why should this distress Count Bruhl? He lived in his usual
luxurious splendor, with the king. Looking out from his handsome
apartments upon the valley lying at his feet, he saw on a little meadow
by which the Elbe was flowing, herds of cows and calves, sheep and
beeves, which were there to die like the Saxon soldiers, for their king.
These herds were for the royal table; there was, therefore, no danger
that the enemy visiting the army should find its way to the fortress.
It was also forbidden, upon pain of death, to force one of these animals
intended for the royal table, from their noble calling, and to satisfy
therewith the hungry soldiers. Count Bruhl could therefore wait
patiently the arrival of the Austrian army, which was already in motion,
under the command of General Brown.

While the King of Poland was living gay and joyous in the fortress of
Konigstein, the queen with the princes of the royal house had remained
in Dresden; and though she knew her husband’s irresolute character, and
knew that the King of Prussia, counting upon this, was corresponding
with him, endeavoring to persuade him to neutrality, still she had no
fears of her husband succumbing to his entreaties. For was not Count
Bruhl, the bitter, irreconcilable enemy of Prussia, at his side?--and
had not the king said to her, in a solemn manner, before leaving:
“Better that every misfortune come upon us than to take the part of our
enemies!” The queen, therefore, felt perfectly safe upon this point.
She remained in Dresden for two reasons: first, to watch the King of
Prussia, and then to guard the archives--those archives which contained
the most precious treasures of Saxon diplomacy--the most important
secrets of their allies. These papers were prized more highly by the
queen than all the crown jewels now lying in their silver casket; and
though the keeping of the latter was given over to some one else, no
one seemed brave enough to shield the former. No one but herself should
guard these rich treasures. The state archives were placed in those
rooms of the palace which had but one outlet, and that leading into
one of the queen’s apartments. In this room she remained--she took her
meals, worked, and slept there--there she received the princes and
the foreign ambassadors--always guarding the secret door, of which she
carried the key fastened to a gold chain around her neck. But still the
queen was continually in fear her treasure would be torn from her, and
the King of Prussia’s seeming friendliness was not calculated to drive
away this anxiety. It is true the king had sent her his compliments by
Marshal Keith, with the most friendly assurances of his affection, but
notwithstanding this, the chancery, the college, and the mint department
had been closed; all the artillery and ammunition had been taken from
the Dresden arsenal and carried to Magdeburg; some of the oldest and
worthiest officers of the crown had been dismissed; and the Swiss guard,
intended for service in the palace, had been disarmed. All this agreed
but badly with the king’s quieting assurances, and was calculated to
increase the hatred of his proud enemy. She had, nevertheless, stifled
her anger so far as to invite the King of Prussia, who was staying in
the palace of the Countess Morizinska, not far from his army, to her
table.

Frederick had declined this invitation. He remained quietly in the
palace, whose doors were open to all, giving audience to all who desired
it, listening to their prayers, and granting their wishes.

The Queen of Poland heard this with bitter anger; and the more gracious
the King of Prussia showed himself to the Saxons, the more furious and
enraged became the heart of this princess.

“He will turn our people from their true ruler,” said she to Countess
Ogliva, her first maid of honor, who was sitting at her side upon a
divan placed before the princess’s door. “This hypocritical affability
will only serve to gain the favor of our subjects, and turn them from
their duty.”

“It has succeeded pretty well,” said the countess, sighing. “The Saxon
nobility are continually in the antechamber of this heretical king; and
yesterday several of the city authorities, accompanied by the foreign
ambassadors, waited upon him, and he received them.”

“Yes, he receives every one; he gives gay balls every evening, at which
he laughs and jokes merrily. He keeps open house, and the poor people
assemble there in crowds to see him eat.” Maria Josephine sighed deeply.
“I hate this miserable, changeable people!” murmured she.

“And your majesty does well,” said the countess, whose wrinkled, yellow
countenance was now illuminated by a strange fire. “The anger of God
will rest upon this heretical nation that has turned from her salvation,
and left the holy mother church in haughty defiance. The King of Poland
cannot even appoint true Catholic-Christians as his officers--every
position of any importance is occupied by heretics. But the deluge will
surely come again upon this sinful people and destroy them.”

The queen crossed herself, and prayed in a low voice.

The countess continued: “This Frederick stimulates these heretical
Saxons in their wicked unbelief. He, who it is well known, laughs
and mocks at every religion, even his own--attended, yesterday, the
Protestant church, to show our people that he is a protector of that
church.”

“Woe, woe to him!” said the queen.

“With listening ear he attended to his so-called preacher’s sermon,
and then loudly expressed his approval of it, well knowing that this
preacher is a favorite of heretics in Dresden. This cunning king wished
to give them another proof of his favor. Does your majesty wish to know
of the present he made this, preacher?”

“What?” said the queen, with a mocking laugh. “Perhaps a Bible, with
the marginal observations of his profligate friends, Voltaire and La
Mettrie?”

“No, your majesty; the king sent this learned preacher a dozen bottles
of champagne!”

“He is a blasphemous scoffer, even with that which he declares holy. But
punishment will overtake him. Already the voice of my exalted nephew,
the Emperor of Germany, is to be heard throughout the entire land,
commanding the King of Prussia to return at once to his own kingdom,
and to make apologies to the King of Poland for his late insults. It is
possible that, in his haughty pride, Frederick will take no notice of
this command. But it will be otherwise with the generals and commandants
of this usurper. They have been commanded by the emperor to leave their
impious master, and not to be the sharers of his frightful crime.”

“I fear,” said Countess Ogliva, sighing, and raising her eyes
heavenward--“I fear they will not listen to the voice of our good
emperor.”

“But they will hear the voice of his cannon,” cried the queen,
impetuously; “the thunder of our artillery and the anger of God will
annihilate them, and they will fall to the ground as if struck by
lightning before the swords blessed by our holy priests.”

The door of the antechamber was at this moment opened violently, and the
queen’s chamberlain appeared upon its threshold.

“Your majesty, a messenger from the King of Prussia requests an
audience,” said he.

The queen’s brow became clouded, and she blushed with anger. “Tell this
messenger that I am not in a condition to receive his visit, and that he
must therefore impart to you his message.”

“It is, no doubt, another of his hypocritical, friendly assurances,”
 said the queen, as the chamberlain left. “He has, no doubt, some evil
design, and wishes to soothe us before he strikes.”

The chamberlain returned, but his countenance was now white with terror.

“Well!” said the queen, “what is this message?”

“Ah, your majesty,” stammered the trembling courtier, “my lips would not
dare to repeat it; and I could never find the courage to tell you what
he demands.”

“What he demands!” repeated the queen; “has it come to that, that a
foreign prince commands in our land? Go, countess, and in my name, fully
empowered by me, receive this King of Prussia’s message; then return,
and dare not keep the truth from me.”

Countess Ogliva and the chamberlain left the royal apartment, and Maria
Josephine was alone. And now, there was no necessity of guarding this
mask of proud quietude and security. Alone, with her own heart, the
queen’s woman nature conquered. She did not now force back the tears
which streamed from her eyes, nor did she repress the sighs that
oppressed her heart. She wept, and groaned, and trembled. But hearing a
step in the antechamber, she dried her eyes, and again put on the proud
mask of her royalty. It was the countess returning. Slowly and silently
she passed through the apartment. Upon her colorless countenance there
was a dark, angry expression, and a scoffing smile played about her
thin, pale lips.

“The King of Prussia,” said she, in a low, whispering voice, as she
reached the queen, “demands that the key to the state archives be
delivered at once to his messenger, Major von Vangenheim.”

The queen raised herself proudly from her seat.

“Say to this Major von Vangenheim that he will never receive this key!”
 said she, commandingly.

The countess bowed, and left the room.

“He has left,” said she, when she returned to the queen; “though he said
that he or another would return.”

“Let us now consult as to what is to be done,” said the queen. “Send for
Father Guarini, so that we may receive his advice.”

Thanks to the queen’s consultation with her confessor and her maid of
honor, the King of Prussia’s messenger, when he returned, was not denied
an audience. This time, it was not Major von Vangenheim, but General von
Wylich, the Prussian commandant at Dresden, whom Frederick sent.

Maria Josephine received him in the room next to the archives, sitting
upon a divan, near to the momentous door. She listened with a careless
indifference, as he again demanded, in the king’s name, the key to the
state archives.

The queen turned to her maid of honor.

“How is it that you are so negligent, countess?” said she; “did I not
tell you to answer to the messenger of the king, that I would give this
key, which is the property of the Prince-Elector of Saxony, and which he
intrusted to me, to no one but my husband?”

“I had the honor to fulfil your majesty’s command,” said the countess,
respectfully.

“How is it, then,” said she, turning to General von Wylich, “that you
dare to come again with this request, which I have already answered?”

“Oh, may your majesty graciously pardon me,” cried the general, deeply
moved; “but his majesty, my king and master, has given me the sternest
commands to get the key, and bring him the papers. I am therefore under
the sad necessity to beseech your majesty to agree to my master’s will.”

“Never!” said the queen, proudly. “That door shall never be opened; you
shall never enter it.”

“Be merciful. I dare not leave here without fulfilling my master’s
commands. Have pity on my despair, your majesty, and give me the key to
that door.”

“Listen! I shall not give you the key,” said the queen, white and
trembling with anger; “and if you open the door by force, I will cover
it with my body; and now, sir, if you wish to murder the Queen of
Poland, open the door.” And raising her proud, imposing form, the queen
placed herself before the door.

“Mercy! mercy! queen,” cried the general; “do not force me to do
something terrible; do not make me guilty of a crime against your sacred
royalty. I dare not return to my king without these papers. I therefore
implore your majesty humbly, upon my knees, to deliver this key to me.”

He fell upon his knees before the queen, humbly supplicating her to
repent her decision.

“I will not give it to you,” said she, with a triumphant smile. “I do
not move from this door; it shall not be opened.”

General Wylich rose from his lowly position. He was pale, but there was
a resolute expression upon his countenance. Looking upon it, you could
not but see that he was about to do something extremely painful to his
feelings.

“Queen of Poland,” said he, in a loud, firm voice, “I am commanded by
my king to bring to him the state archives. Below, at the castle gate,
wagons are in attendance to receive them; they are accompanied by a
detachment of Prussian soldiers. I have only to open that window, sign
to them, and they are here. In the antechamber are the four officers who
came with me; by opening the door, they will be at my side.”

“What do you mean by this?” said the queen, in a faltering voice, moving
slightly from the door.

“I mean, that at any price, I must enter that room. If the key is not
given to me, I will call upon my soldiers to break down the door; as
they have learned to tear down the walls of a fortress, it will be an
easy task; that if the Queen of Poland does not value her high position
sufficiently to guard herself against any attack, I will be compelled to
lay hands upon a royal princess, and lead her by force from that door,
which my soldiers must open! But, once more, I bend my knee, and implore
your majesty to preserve me from this crime, and to have mercy on me.”

And again he fell upon his knees supplicating for pity.

“Be merciful! be merciful!” cried the queen’s confessor and the Countess
Ogliva, who both knew that General Wylich would do all that he had said,
and had both fallen on their knees, adding their entreaties to his.
“Your Majesty has done all that human power can do. It is now time
to guard your holy form from insult. Have mercy on your threatened
royalty.”

“No, no!” murmured the queen, “I cannot! I cannot! Death would be sweet
in comparison to this humiliating defeat.”

The queen’s confessor, Father Guarini, now rose from his knees, and,
approaching the queen, he said, in a solemn, commanding voice:

“My daughter, by virtue of my profession, as a servant of the holy
mother church, to whom is due obedience and trust, I command you to
deliver up to this man the key of this door.”

The queen’s head fell upon her breast, and hollow, convulsive groans
escaped her. Then, with a hasty movement, she severed the key from her
chain.

“I obey you, my father,” said she. “There is the key, general; this room
can now be entered.”

General Wylich took the key, kissing reverentially the hand that gave it
to him. He then said to her, in a voice full of emotion:

“I have but this last favor to ask of your majesty, that you will now
leave this room, so that my soldiers may enter it.”

Without answering, the queen, accompanied by her confessor and maid of
honor, left the apartment.

“And now,” said the queen to Countess Ogliva, as she entered her
reception-room, “send messengers at once to all the foreign ambassadors,
and tell them I command their presence.”



CHAPTER XIV. SAXONY HUMILIATED.


A half an hour later the ambassadors of France, Austria, Holland,
Russia, and Sweden, were assembled in the queen’s reception-room. The
queen was there, pale, and trembling with anger. With the proud pathos
of misfortune, and humiliated royalty, she apprised them of the repeated
insults she had endured, and commanded them to write at once to their
different courts, imploring their rulers to send aid to her sorely
threatened kingdom.

“And if these princes,” said she, impetuously, “help us to battle
against this usurper, in defending us they will be defending their own
rights and honor. For my cause is now the cause of all kings; for if
my crown falls, the foundation of their thrones will also give way. For
this little Margrave of Brandenburg, who calls himself King of Prussia,
will annihilate us all it we do not ruin him in advance. I, for my part,
swear him a perpetual resistance, a perpetual enmity! I will perish
willingly in this fight if only my insults are revenged and my honor
remains untarnished. Hasten, therefore, to acquaint your courts with all
that has occurred here.”

“I will be the first to obey your majesty,” said the French ambassador,
Count Broglio, approaching the queen. “I will repeat your words to my
exalted master; I will portray to your majesty’s lovely daughter, the
Dauphine of France, the sufferings her royal mother has endured, and
I know she will strain every nerve to send you aid. With your gracious
permission, I will now take my leave, for to-day I start for Paris.”

“To Paris!” cried the queen; “would you leave my court in the hour of
misfortune?”

“I would be the last to do this, unless forced by necessity,” said the
count; “but the King of Prussia has just dismissed me, and sent me my
passport!”

“Your passport! dismissed you!” repeated the queen. “Have I heard
aright? Do you speak of the King of Prussia? Has he then made himself
King of Saxony?”

Before anyone had time to answer the queen’s painful questions, the door
was opened, and the king’s ministers entered; beside them was to be seen
the pale, terrified countenance of Count Leuke, the king’s chamberlain.

Slowly and silently these gentlemen passed through the room and
approached the queen.

“We have come,” said Count Hoymb, bowing lowly, “to take leave of your
majesty.”

The queen fell slightly back, and gazed in terror at the four ministers
standing before her with bowed heads.

“Has the king, my husband, sent for you? Are you come to take leave of
me before starting to Konigstein?”

“No, your majesty; we come because we have been dismissed from our
offices by the King of Prussia.”

The queen did not answer, but gazed wildly at the sad countenances about
her; and now she fixed a searching glance upon the royal chamberlain.

“Well, and you?” said she. “Have you a message for me from my husband?
Are you from Konigstein?”

“Yes, your majesty, I come from Konigstein. But I am not a bearer of
pleasant news. I am sent to Dresden by the King of Poland to request
of the King of Prussia passports for himself and Count Bruhl. The king
wishes to visit Warsaw, and is therefore desirous of obtaining these
passports.”

“Ah!” said the queen, sighing, “to think that my husband requires
permission to travel in his own kingdom, and that he must receive it
from our enemy! Well, have you obeyed the king’s command, Count Leuke?
Have you been to the King of Prussia and received the passports?”

“I was with the King of Prussia,” said the count, in a faltering voice.

“Well, what more?”

“He refused me! He does not give his consent to this visit.”

“Listen, listen!” said the queen, wildly; “hear the fresh insult thrown
at our crown! Can God hear this and not send His lightning to destroy
this heretical tyrant? Ah, I will raise my voice; it shall be a cry of
woe and lamentation, and shall resound throughout all Europe; it shall
reach every throne, and every one shall hear my voice calling out: ‘Woe!
woe! woe to us all; our thrones are tottering, they will surely fall if
we do not ruin this evil-doer who threatens us all!’”

With a fearful groan, the queen fell fainting into the arms of Countess
Ogliva. But the sorrows and humiliations of this day were not the only
ones experienced by Maria Josephine from her victorious enemy.

It is true her cry for help resounded throughout Europe. Preparations
for war were made in many places, but her allies were not able to
prevent the fearful blow that was to be the ruin of Saxony. Though the
Dauphine of France, daughter of the wretched Maria Josephine, and the
mother of the unfortunate King of France, Louis XVI., threw herself at
the feet of Louis XV., imploring for help for her mother’s tottering
kingdom, the French troops came too late to prevent this disaster. Even
though Maria Theresa, Empress of Austria, and niece to the Queen of
Saxony, as her army were in want of horses, gave up all her own to carry
the cannon. The Austrian cannon was of as little help to Saxony as the
French troops.

Starvation was a more powerful ally to Prussia than Austria, France,
Russia, and Sweden were to Saxony, for in the Saxon camp also a cry of
woe resounded.

It was hunger that compelled the brave Saxon General Rutrosky to
capitulate. It was the same cause that forced the King of Saxony to
bind himself to the fearful stipulations which the victorious King of
Prussia, after having tried in vain for many years to gain an ally in
Saxony, made.

In the valley of Lilienstein the first of that great drama, whose scenes
are engraved in blood in the book of history, was performed, and for
whose further developments many sad, long years were necessary.

In the valley of Lilienstein the Saxon army, compelled to it by actual
starvation, gave up their arms; and as these true, brave soldiers,
weeping over their humiliation, with one hand laid down their weapons,
the other was extended toward their enemies for bread.

Lamentation and despair reigned in the camp at Lilienstein, and there,
at a window of the castle of Konigstein, stood the Prince-Elector of
Saxony, with his favorite Count Bruhl, witnesses to their misery.

After these fearful humiliations, by which Frederick punished the
Saxons for their many intrigues, by which he revenged himself for their
obstinate, enmity, their proud superiority--after these humiliations,
after their complete defeat, the King of Prussia was no longer opposed
to the King of Saxony’s journey. He sent him the desired passports, he
even extended their number, and not only sent one to the king and to
Count Bruhl, but also to the Countess Bruhl, with the express command
to accompany her husband. He also sent a pass to Countess Ogliva,
compelling this bigoted woman to leave her mistress.

And when the queen again raised her cry of woe, to call her allies to
her aid, the King of Prussia answered her with the victorious thunder
of the battle of Losovitz, the first battle fought in this war, and in
which the Prussians, led by their king, performed wonders of bravery,
and defeated for the third time the tremendous Austrian army, under the
command of General Brown.

“Never,” says Frederick, “since I have had the honor to command the
Prussian troops, have they performed such deeds of daring as to-day.”

The Austrians, in viewing these deeds, cried out:

“We have found again the old Prussians!”

And still they fought so bravely, that the Prussians remarked in
amazement: “These cannot be the same Austrians!”

This was the first act of that great drama enacted by the European
nations, and of which King Frederick II. was the hero.



BOOK III.



CHAPTER I. THE MAIDEN OF BRUNEN.


The sun was just setting, throwing its crimson glow upon the waters
of the Rhine, which appeared to flow like a river of blood between the
green meadows on either side of it.

From the little village of Brunen, whose red chimneys were visible above
a group of oak and beech trees, the sound of the evening bell was heard,
reminding the pious peasants, engaged in cutting and garnering their
golden corn, of the hour for devotion.

With the sweet sounds of the bell mingled the joyous mountain yodel of
the cowherd, who had just descended the little hill yonder, with his
herd straying here and there, in picturesque confusion. Upon the green
meadow in the foreground, the flocks of the village were pasturing,
strictly guarded by a large white dog, whose stern, martial glance not
the slightest movement among his army contrary to discipline, escaped.
As soon as one of the sheep committed to his care left the fold and
approached the field where the reapers were mowing the corn, which was
bound at once in sheaves by busy maidens, the stern Phylax barking,
growling, and snarling, rushed after the audacious wanderer who sought
to appease the anger of his inexorable overseer by a speedy return.

The old shepherd, sitting not far off upon a little wooden stool,
with his long, silver hair falling about him, was engaged in weaving
a graceful basket of some meadow roots; at every bark of his Phylax he
looked up and smiled his approval at his faithful steward; occasionally
he gazed across the meadow at the reapers and busy maidens, then there
came upon his venerable old countenance an expression of great interest.
And well he might be pleased with what he saw there; for that tall,
sturdy youth, standing in the wagon, waiting with outstretched arms to
catch the sheaves which are skilfully thrown him; that youth with the
bright rosy face, the sparkling eye, the full red lip, upon which
there is always a merry smile, the ivory white teeth--that youth is his
beloved son, Charles Henry. And yonder maiden, not far from the wagon,
binding up the corn, in whose tall, proud form, in spite of her
plain peasant-gown, there is something imposing; that maiden with the
youthful, blooming, lovely face, is his son’s betrothed, whom all in
the village called the beautiful Anna Sophia, and for whose love Charles
Henry was envied by all the village boys. It is true she was a penniless
orphan, but in her busy, industrious hands there was a better and surer
treasure than in a purse of gold, and her ability and goodness would be
a much better dowry to her husband; for Anna Sophia Detzloff could do
almost every thing, and the villagers knew not whether to respect her
more for her great knowledge, or love her more for her kind, good heart.
Anna could read and write like a school-teacher. She wrote every letter
which the women of the village sent to their sons and husbands, now far
away with the King of Prussia’s army, and read to them the answers;
and in so beautiful and winning a manner did she read them, that to the
happy women it almost seemed as if they were hearing the voices of their
loved ones. But, notwithstanding her learning, she was well versed in
every sort of work that beseemed a woman. None in the village could
prepare more delightful dishes than she; no one could equal her
beautiful, rapid sewing and knitting. Anna Sophia learned all these
things from her mother, who had lived and worked for many long years in
Brunen. Her father had been the village school-teacher, and it was owing
to his diligence and activity that the women could now receive letters
from their sons and husbands. He had taught the boys to read and write;
and though the girls did not learn, the example of his daughter showed
that it was not owing to inability, but for a want of time and desire.
From her mother, Anna had learned all her womanly duties. She had taught
her to be amiable, ready with help for all, kind and sympathetic, and to
strive by her good deeds to gain the love of her fellow-creatures.

A joyous family had lived in the little village school-house; though
they had poverty and want to fight against, these three happy human
beings did not consider this a misfortune, but a necessary evil of life.
They loved each other, and when the parents looked upon the lovely, rosy
countenance of their only child, they did not perceive that their bread
was hard and heavy, they did not miss the butter and cheese without
which the rich villagers seldom took a meal. And when, on Sundays, Anna
went with her parents to church, in the faded red skirt, neat white
body, and black bodice, which had been her mother’s wedding-dress,
she heard the boys whisper amongst themselves about her beauty and
sweetness, and casting her eyes down with timid blushes she did not
perceive the jeering smiles of the other girls who, though not as
pretty, were proud that they were richer and better dressed than the
school-teacher’s daughter.

But Death, in his inexorable manner, had disturbed this modest
happiness. In a year he took the schoolmaster Detzloff and his wife from
the little house which, to any one else, would have appeared a pitiful
hut, but which, to them, seemed a paradise. In one year Anna became an
orphan; she was entirely alone in the world, and, after she had given to
her dear departed ones the tribute of her sorrows and tears, she had to
arouse herself and create a new future. After death only, the villagers
became aware of the great worth of the departed, they now admitted to
the full the school-teacher’s merits, and were anxious to pay to the
daughter the debt owing to the father. As he had died partly from
starvation, sorrow, and work, they wished to prove themselves generous
to his daughter, and preserve her from the want and misery which had
caused the death of her parents.

But Anna Sophia would be dependent on no one. To those who came in the
name of the villagers to notify her that she would receive from them a
monthly allowance, she showed her able hands, her brown, muscular arms,
and, raising her sparkling eyes proudly to the new school-teacher, she
said, “From these alone will I receive help; they shall give me food and
clothing; on them alone will I be dependent.”

She then went to seek work. The rich burgher of the village would gladly
have taken so smart and industrious a girl into his house and paid her
handsomely for her services. But Anna Sophia declared proudly that,
though she was willing to work, she would be no slave; that she would
sell her hands, but not her freedom.

Another house had been built and furnished for the school-teacher,
because there was danger of the old one, in which the Detzloff family
had lived, falling to pieces.

Anna Sophia, by the sale of some of the furniture, had bought the old,
dilapidated hut for herself. And there, in her hours of leisure, she
lived over the happy past. There she felt that she was still with her
parents, and not alone and orphaned. In the morning, before leaving her
home to go at her daily work, she entered the little garden at the back
of the hut, where in the arbor, laden with dark-red blossoms, were
the three chairs her father had woven in his idle moments, and the
roughly-hewn deal table made by his axe. She took her seat for a moment
upon the chair standing in the centre, and laid one hand upon the one to
either side of her Thus she had sat in the past, with her hands clasped
in those of her parents. The Rhine flowed on as melodiously as before in
the dim distance, the trees were as green, the flowers and blossoms as
sweet, the sky as blue. There was no change; all around her was as in
former days, except these empty chairs. But Anna had only to close
her eyes to see the beloved forms of her departed parents, to feel the
pressure of their hands, and to hear them addressing her, in tones which
love alone could have uttered, love alone understood. Then saying aloud,
“Good-morning, mother! Good-morning, father!” she rose, with closed
eyes, from her seat, and hastened from the arbor with the pleasant
thought that she was followed by the loving gaze of her parents. She did
not turn once, for then she would have seen that the arbor was empty,
and she wished to preserve the sweet delusion to be the brighter and
happier at her day’s work. When, during the day, she saw the burgher’s
wife surrounded by her blooming daughters, she would say to herself, “I
also have a father and mother at home, and they await me!” Then, when
her day’s work was finished, she hastened with a flying step to her
home, whose solemn stillness resounded for her with the dear-loved
voices of the past. Opening the bedroom of her parents, she cried,
“Good-night, mother! Good-night, father!” Then she climbed up to her
little attic, which had been her father’s favorite room, and which, when
she was with him, he had called a little spot of Eden. There stood his
writing-table, and above it the bookcase, which held her most precious
treasures, her father’s library. From the window the Rhine could be
seen meandering along the smooth green meadows, finally loosing itself
between the distant hills.

Her father had left her this blessed little spot, and hither she fled
when her heavy day’s work was over. There of an evening she stood,
gazing thoughtfully out into the darkening twilight, and there daily she
greeted the rising sun, repeating aloud her morning prayer. Then with
eager hands she took from the book-case one of the large folios. From
these books Anna Sophia drew all her knowledge. And when, during the
long winter evenings, the village girls were busy spinning, she would
tell them the stories she had read, no hand was idle, no eye drooping.
She was looked upon as the guardian angel of the village; she knew some
remedy, some alleviation for every illness, every pain. In a sick-room,
she was all that a nurse should be, kind, loving, patient, and gentle.
She was beloved by all, and all the village boys sought to gain her
hand. For a long time she would listen to none of them, and flew in
terror from those who broached the subject.

How the youngest son of the old shepherd Buschman had finally won her
heart, she did not herself know. It is true, he was the handsomest,
best-made boy in the village, but it was not for this that she loved
him; for she had known him long ago, and had been perfectly indifferent
to him, until within the last few weeks. Why was it? Because he loved
her so dearly, and had told her he would die if she did not listen to
him. Many others had done and said the same thing, but it had never
moved her sensibilities, nor had their threats terrified her. What,
then, had won her cold, proud heart?

The old shepherd had been the occasion of their frequently meeting each
other. For some weeks she had been in the habit, when her day’s work was
over, of reading to him the daily paper, which the good-hearted burgher
always sent to the old man, who had six sons in the king’s army; he had
given his country six soldiers.

Keeling by his side upon the meadow, Anna Sophia would first read to
him, and then talk over the events of the war, and prophesy many a
glorious victory. And then, Charles Henry, who worked on the same farm
with Anna, joined them, speaking enthusiastically of the great, heroic
king. In their inspired love for their great sovereign, their hearts
had first met, he seemed to her a hero, because he had six brothers in
Frederick’s army, she saw laurels upon his brow, won by his brothers
upon the battle-field. She loved him for his brothers’ sake, and she was
proud of being the bride of him of whom it was said, when he passed, “It
is the old man’s dearest child--God preserve him to his father, whose
only prop he is!” The old shepherd was thinking of all this, as he
sat in the midst of his flock upon the green meadow, gazing toward the
corn-field in which Anna Sophia and his son were at work.

“God be praised!” murmured the old man. “That is the last sheaf, Anna
will soon be with me.”

At last, the happy moment had come. The old shepherd folded his hands,
and a silent prayer arose from his heart for his absent sons. He then
rose from his lowly seat, and whistled to his faithful Phylax to follow.
The flock arrived at the village, and were driven by the dog into the
sheep-pen, from which was heard the tremulous bleating of the lambs,
who were rejoicing over their dams’ arrival. Father Buschman waited
impatiently until the last sheep had entered, and then hastened toward
the large farm house to the left of the pen.

Anna Sophia was just leaving the house, paper in hand, and advanced,
with a cheerful smile, to meet him.

“Father,” said she, “I have the paper, and we are the first to read
it. The good burgher and his wife are in the country, and the overseer
allowed me to take it. But, hear, father, he says he glanced over it
hastily, and saw something about a Prussian victory.”

The old shepherd’s face sparkled with joy, and he sought to draw Anna
away with him. “Come, come, my child,” said he, “to my house, where it
is still and quiet, there we will read of our king’s victories.”

But Anna shook her beautiful head.

“No, father,” said she, “it would not be right to read the paper alone
today. The king’s victories belong to his people, to each one of his
subjects, and every heart will beat more proudly when it hears of them,
and thank God that He has blessed the weapons of their king. It is not
for us to keep this joy from our men and women. Charles Henry, with the
overseer’s permission, had already assembled the villagers upon the open
space under the beech-trees. See! all are hastening with their work.
Come, father, we must read to our neighbors and friends our king’s
victories. A victory belongs to the whole village, but should there ever
be news of a lost battle, then, father, we will read it to ourselves.”

“God forbid that this should come to pass!” said the old man, following
Anna to the place of general meeting.



CHAPTER II. NEWS OF BATTLE.


The inhabitants of the village had already assembled on the square,
under the great linden, and as old Buschman now approached, supported by
Anna Sophia’s arm, they were joyfully greeted.

Anna waved the paper like a white flag in the air, and, hastening the
old man forward impatiently, she exclaimed,

“Our king has won a battle!”

Shouts of triumph were the result.

“Did he whip the French, or the Austrians?” asked one of the peasants,
as he drew close to Anna, and tried to seize the paper.

Anna drew it back hastily.

“The steward sent it to me, to read to the community, and I shall do
so.”

“Tell us, Anna,” said another, “has he beaten the Russians or the
cunning Saxons? I wish he could trample them all under foot.”

“He will, if he has not yet done so,” cried old Buschman.

“Children, our king will conquer all his enemies; he is a hero, and has
only brave fellows to fight for him. Just think of the thirty noble boys
that our village alone gave him!”

“Read, Anna, read!” cried the curious crowd. And Anna, ready to please
them, walked under the linden, and stepped upon the wooden beach that
surrounded the tree.

Father Buschman placed himself at her feet, and several old men and
women followed his example. The young people gathered around in groups,
and gazed respectfully at the youthful girl, whose bright, beautiful
face glowed as if lighted by the evening sun. The little boys, who
had followed their parents from curiosity, were amusing themselves in
turning somersets.

Anna now raised her voice and began to read in a bright tone. It was a
brilliant and inspiring account of the battle of Losovitz, and Anna read
it in breathless haste and burning cheeks. As she read how the Prussians
were at first defeated by the powerful army of the Austrians under
General Brown, whose terrific artillery sent death and ruin into the
Prussian ranks, the women sobbed softly, and the men could hardly
suppress their sighs. They breathed more freely when they heard that the
king, adopting a new expedient, advanced a part of his cavalry into the
centre of his weakened infantry, and thus turned the tide of battle.
Their courage failed on hearing that this advantage was soon lost,
the enemy still advanced in unbroken columns, and almost forced the
Prussians to retreat. The left wing of infantry, commanded by the Duke
of Severn, which had fired unceasingly, had exhausted their ammunition,
while the Austrian General Wied, who defended the post of Losovitz, kept
up a brisk cannonading. The Prussian warriors pleaded loudly for powder
and shot.

Anna stopped reading, her heart beat loudly, she leaned her head against
the tree and closed her eyes in terror. The old people sitting at her
feet prayed and wept aloud, and from the crowd there arose sounds of
grief and despair. In their terror they had forgotten that it was of a
victory and not a defeat they were to hear, and that the battle must at
last have ended to their advantage.

“Read on, Anna,” said the old shepherd, after a long pause. “Are we
such cowards as not to be able even to hear an account of this murderous
battle in which our sons were brave enough to fight?”

“Read on, read on!” was heard here and there.

Anna unclosed her eyes and raised the paper. Breathless stillness
reigned anew. Anna read,

“In this fearful moment the Duke of Bevern felt that a decisive step
must be taken, and springing in front of his troops with drawn sword, he
cried, ‘Boys, you have no more ammunition! Do not be discouraged! Fight
with your bayonets!’ These words, spoken by a brave and beloved leader,
gave heart to all. They closed their ranks, and inspired by the example
of their officer, attacked the enemy boldly. In vain Baron Stahremberg
hastened forward with his six battalions--uselessly Baron Wied tried to
defend the house of Losovitz in which his grenadiers had taken refuge.
Nothing could withstand the Prussians. Like a raging hurricane they
fell upon the enemy, who were forced to give way to them. A part of the
Austrian force sprang into the Elbe, and tried to save their lives by
swimming. Losovitz was tired, and all its defenders fled. The Prussians
had gained a complete victory.” [Footnote: “Characteristics of the Seven
Years’ War,” vol. i., p. 63]

Anna Sophia could read no further. The delight of all was intense--wives
embraced their husbands with tears of joy--old men thanked God
aloud--and the boys, who had ceased their play and been listening
attentively, made bolder and higher somersets and shouted more lustily.
Anna Sophia alone said nothing. Her tall, slender, but full form was
leaning against the tree--an inspired smile was on her lip, and her
eyes, raised to heaven, beamed with holy fire. She stood as if in a
dream, and at first did not hear old Buschman ask her to read on. When
he repeated his request, she was startled, and turned her glance slowly
down from heaven upon the joyful crowd that surrounded her.

“What do you wish, father?” she asked.

The old shepherd arose, and, taking his cap from his gray head, said
solemnly, “You have read us of the victory, Anna Sophia; now read us of
those who gave their lives for it. Tell us of the dead.”

“Yes, read us a list of the dead!” cried the others, uncovering their
heads respectfully.

Anna sought for the list, and read slowly the names of the fallen.
Their faces brightened more and more, none belonging to them were dead.
Suddenly Anna paused, and uttered a low cry, then looked at Father
Buschman with a terrified expression. Perhaps the old man understood
her, for he trembled a little, and his head fell upon his breast, but he
raised it proudly again. Looking almost commandingly at Anna, he said,

“Read on, my daughter.”

But Anna could not read. The paper trembled in her hand, and her face
was pale as death.

“Read on,” repeated the old man--“read on, I, your father, command you
to read!”

Anna sighed deeply. “I will obey,” she said, and casting a glance of
inexpressible sorrow at the old man, two new names fell from her lips
and tears to consecrate them. “Anton Buschman, Frederick Buschman,” and
then taking advantage of the breathless stillness, she added, “The two
brothers were the first to attack the enemy--they died the death of
heroes!” She ceased. The paper dropped from her trembling hands and fell
at the old man’s feet.

The weeping eyes of the crowd were turned upon old Buschman. As if
crushed by the storm, he had staggered to the bench; he bowed his head
upon his breast that no one might see the expression of his face; his
trembling hands clasped on his knees, made a touching picture of silent
sorrow.

His son Henry, who had been standing with the others, stepped softly to
him, and kneeling down, put his arms around the old man’s neck and spoke
to him tenderly.

The old man started up with terror--his glance turned from his son to
the crowd, and met everywhere sympathizing and troubled faces. “Well,”
 he asked, in a hard, rough voice, “why do you weep? Did you not hear
that my sons died the death of heroes? Have they not fallen for their
country and their king? It would become us to weep if they were cowards
and fled in battle. But Anna Sophia told us they died the death of
heroes. Therefore, let us think of them with love and pride. ‘Blessed
are the dead, for they see God!’”

He sank upon his knees and murmured low prayers for the repose of the
dead, and now he wept for the first time. At his side knelt his son and
Anna Sophia; and the crowd, overcome by emotion and sympathy, followed
their example, and with bended knees murmured the pious prayers of the
Church for the dead.

The solemn stillness was broken by the beating of drums and the tramping
of horses. A company of infantry, headed by the drummer and fifer,
marched up the street and approached the villagers, who, rising from
their knees, gazed anxiously at the troops.

“They are Prussians,” said the mayor, who was amongst the crowd.

“They are Prussians,” repeated the crowd, with brightening faces.

Headed by the mayor, they went forward to meet and conduct them to the
middle of the square, where they halted. The mayor then approached the
officer and asked him what he desired.

The officer, after making the drummer a sign, who beat the roll
powerfully, drew out a roll of paper and unfolded it. The villagers
pushed forward and waited with breathless attention. Close to the
officer stood the old shepherd, next to him his son and Anna Sophia, who
was staring, pale and trembling, at the officer, who now began to read.

This paper commanded the unmarried men of the village to place
themselves under the king’s flag, and to take their places in the ranks
of those who fought for their country. Harvest was at an end, and the
king could now demand the fighting men of villages and cities to join
him and share with him his dangers and his victories. The officer then
commanded the mayor to give him early the next morning a list of the
unmarried men in the village, that he might call them out and conduct
them to Cleve for further orders.

A hollow murmur ran through the crowd when the officer had finished. The
joyful and inspired emotion they had just felt gave way to discontent
and gloom. All had been ready to celebrate the victory, but found it far
from desirable to enter the ranks.

The old shepherd looked angrily at the despairing crowd, and an
expression of pious peace spread over his venerable countenance. Turning
to the officer, he said, in a loud voice,

“I had six sons in the army; two fell in the battle of Losovitz, and my
poor old heart still weeps for the dead, but it is also content that the
king calls for another sacrifice. I have one other son; he is unmarried,
has no one to take care of, neither wife nor child nor his old father,
for, thank God, I still have strength to support myself. Go, then, my
son Charles Henry, the king calls you; and if it must be so, lie down
like your brothers in a heroic grave.”

He ceased and laid his hand, as if with a blessing, upon his son’s head;
but Henry did not partake of his father’s enthusiasm. His face was pale
as death, and his powerful frame trembled as if with fever.

Anna Sophia saw it; her beaming face paled, and her eye sank down with
shame.

The officer, who had noticed the dejection of the people, wished to give
them time to recover.

“Leave every thing alone until tomorrow,” he said. “Tomorrow, sir mayor,
you will hand me the list, and I am sure that the unmarried boys will
obey their king’s call with joy. Now, sir mayor, I beg you to conduct me
to the courthouse, where I will pass the night, and see that my soldiers
find good quarters there, and in the village.”

He nodded kindly to the people, and accompanied by the mayor, moved
onward. The crowd followed them silently, and the gay village boys
danced gleefully around the fine procession.



CHAPTER III. THE CERTIFICATE OF ENLISTMENT.


Anna Sophia returned to her solitary home in deep meditation, and
not even in the stillness of her room could she regain her accustomed
serenity and cheerfulness. Her thoughts were far away; for the first
time her room appeared to her gloomy and deserted. The memories of the
past did not now speak to her, and when she threw herself upon her bed,
it was without having bid her parents goodnight.

But even then she could find no rest. Strange visions were wafted before
her waking eyes, wonderful dreams took hold of her senses. She saw her
victorious king standing before her, his sparkling eyes beckoning her to
follow him. Then she saw herself in the front of an army, the fluttering
banner in her hand, the glittering shield on her breast, followed by
many brave warriors, who were all gazing proudly upon her. And again
she saw herself. But now she was all alone--alone by the side of an open
grave, with a gaping wound in her breast, raising her weary eyes upward
and murmuring with pale lips, “How sweet to die for one’s country!” Then
the brothers of her betrothed raised themselves slowly from among the
dead, and signed to her to follow them. She seemed to hear them saying,
“Revenge our death, our brother is faint-hearted!”

At this thought, she raised herself upon her couch.

“He is a coward,” murmured she. “I saw him turn pale and tremble, and
I felt as if a sword had entered my heart and destroyed all my love for
him. Yes, he is a coward, and instead of rejoicing at the thought of a
battle, he trembles.”

She covered her face with her hands, as if to hide from the night the
burning blush of shame that mounted to her brow. Thus she sat for hours
motionless, as if listening to the voices whispering to her from within,
until the first gleam of morning, the first ray of sun entered the open
window to arouse her from her waking dreams.

She sprang from her bed, and dressed herself with trembling eagerness.
The sun had arisen, and Charles Henry was no doubt already in the woods,
at the place she had appointed to meet him yesterday morning. When
bidding him good-by, she had whispered to him to meet her there in the
morning at sunrise; she did not then know why she had appointed this
meeting. She well knew it was not the longing to pass an undisturbed
hour with her lover that had actuated her. Anna had no such wish; her
heart was too pure, her love too cold. She had only felt that she would
have something to say to him; she knew not what herself.

But now she well knew what she had to say; it was all clear, and
therefore she was happy and cheerful. It seemed to her as if her soul
had taken flight, and as if there was a lark within her singing songs of
joy, and with these feelings she hastened down the road into the woods.

At the appointed place stood Charles Henry, and as his betrothed
approached him, so proud, so smiling, sparkling with beauty and youth,
it appeared to him that he had never seen her so exquisitely beautiful;
to her, as he advanced smilingly to meet her, he had never seemed so
small, so devoid of attractions.

When they met, they looked at each other in amazement--there was a
change in both.

“Anna Sophia,” said Charles Henry at last, sadly, “you have something
against me.”

“Yes,” said she, “I have something against you, otherwise I would not
have appointed this meeting here, where we can be heard by no one. Were
this that I have to tell you something good, something pleasant, all
the world might stand by and hear it, but as it is something painful, it
must be heard by you alone.”

She seated herself silently upon the ground, signing to Charles Henry to
follow her example.

“It was here,” said Anna, hastily, “that you first told me of your
love.”

“Yes, it was here, Anna,” repeated he, “and you then told me that my
love was returned, and that you would be my wife when we had saved
enough to commence housekeeping. But still I have always felt that you
were not kind to me, not as the other girls in the village are to their
lovers. You have never permitted me to come under your window at night;
I have never been allowed to take you in my arms and kiss you tenderly,
as the others boys do their sweethearts; and never, no never, have you
given me a kiss unasked; and, after all my entreaties, you kissed me
only in the presence of my old father and his dog.”

“It is not in my nature to be very tender,” said Anna, shrugging her
shoulders. “I read in one of my books lately a fairy tale, in which
there was a young girl, of whom it was said that a bad fairy had bound
her heart in iron, to prevent its full play; the girl was constantly
bewailing this fatality, saying, ‘I can only like, but never love.’
Perhaps it is thus with me, but I do not weep over it, like the foolish
girl in the book.”

“And was this what you had to tell me?” asked Charles Henry, mockingly.

She gave him a look that sent the jeering smile from his lip.

“No, Charles Henry,” said she, “this is not what I have to tell you.”

“Well, what is it then, Anna, for this wounds me?” said he impatiently.

“Perhaps the other will do so also,” said she, sadly. “But it must come
out, I cannot suppress it. Hear, Charles Henry, what I have to say, and
if it is not true, forgive me. I fear you do not go willingly into
the army, and that your heart does not beat with joy at the thought of
becoming a soldier.”

“You are right,” said Charles Henry, laughing, “I do not go willingly;
and how should it be otherwise? it is a wild, disorderly life, and it
strikes me it cannot be right for men who, our pastor says, should love
each other like brothers, to vie in cutting off each other’s limbs,
and to fire upon each other without mercy or pity, as if one were the
butcher, the other the poor ox, who only resists because he does not
wish to give up his life; and in this case all would be the butchers,
and none the oxen, therefore each one gives his stroke bravely to
preserve his own life.”

“It would be sad if it were as you say,” said Anna, shaking her head,
“but it is not so. The true soldier does not think of his life; he
thinks of his country, for which he will gladly shed his blood--of his
king, to whom he has sworn to be true--and of the glory which he will
gain for himself!”

Charles Henry looked in amazement upon Anna Sophia’s agitated
countenance.

“How do you know all this?” said he. “Who has told you that these are
soldiers’ thoughts?”

“I have read of it in my books, Charles Henry; in one of them there is
the history of a man whose name was Leonidas. He defended, with three
hundred of his soldiers, against many thousands of his enemy, a narrow
passway. He well knew that he could not conquer; his soldiers also knew
it, but they preferred death rather than the humiliation of laying
down their weapons and praying for mercy. And every man of them died
joyfully, giving up his life for his country.”

“Well, I must say they were fools!” cried Charles Henry, excitedly;
“if I had been there, I would not have done so--I would have sued for
pardon.”

“Yes,” said Anna Sophia thoughtfully--“yes, I think you would have done
as you say; and I have been wondering all through the past night whether
you would willingly and joyfully go to battle?”

“I? God forefend; I will not go joyfully--I will not go at all! This
morning I intend going to our pastor to receive from him a certificate,
showing that I cannot join the army, as I have a decrepit old father to
support, who would die without me.”

“Charles Henry, your father is not decrepit, nor very old, nor would he
starve if you were not here, for he can support himself.”

“But he may, at any moment, become unable to help himself, and then
he would need me; I would have no rest day or night when far away, but
would be thinking if my poor old father, lying sick and helpless in his
hut, with no one near to give him a piece of bread or a cup of water.”

“Let not this trouble you, Charles Henry,” said Anna, solemnly. “I swear
to you that I will love him and care for him as a daughter. He shall
want for nothing; and when he can work no longer, I am strong and
healthy enough to work for both of us. Go with a peaceful mind, I will
be here in your place.”

“No, no!” cried Charles Henry, turning pale; “I will not join the army.
I cannot, I will not be separated from you, Anna. You have sworn to
be my wife, and I will beseech the pastor to join us to-day; then they
cannot take me away from here, for I will have a father and a wife to
take care of.”

“Not for me, Charles Henry, for I will not marry yet. Have we saved
enough to commence housekeeping? Is this a time to marry and build a
nest, when war, misery, and ruin are raging throughout the country? No,
no! Charles Henry, we cannot marry now.”

“Because you do not wish it, Anna. But it shall be, for I have your
promise, and you must keep it. Ah, Anna Sophia, you do not know what a
longing I have to call you my wife!”

“But I have no such longing,” said she, drily; “no desire whatever to
marry; and I will tell you, that though you wish to marry to-day, it is
not out of love for me, but to save yourself.”

His eyes sunk before the large, searching ones fixed upon him.

“To save myself, and from what, Anna Sophia?”

“From being a soldier, Charles Henry! For last evening, I read upon your
countenance that you were devoid of courage.”

“You read that?”

“Yes, Charles Henry, fear was stamped upon your brow.”

“Well, then,” said he, after a pause, “you have read aright. I have no
courage, I fear for myself. I am not accustomed to stand still, while
some one is pointing his gun at me, and to cry, ‘Long live the king!’
when the cannon-balls are flying around me; to attack men who have
done me no harm, and to whom I wish to do none. When I think upon the
possibility of my being compelled to do this. I tremble, and my heart
ceases to beat. Do not require it of me, Anna, for if I have to go, I
will fly at the first fight, and come back here. They may then shoot me
as a deserter, if they choose; I prefer to die rather than to kill any
one else.”

Anna Sophia sprang from her seat with a cry of horror.

“I thought so,” said she, in a low voice; and, crossing her arms upon
her breast, she walked to and fro, thoughtfully.

Charles Henry looked at her in amazement, but had not the courage to
speak to her; for she was so completely changed, that he was almost
afraid of her. There was something so cold and proud about her to-day,
something aristocratic in her beauty. He thought to himself, “It is thus
that a queen would look when dressed as a peasant.” Anna Sophia stood
still before him at last, and gave him a tender, almost pitiful glance.

“Charles Henry,” said she, “you shall not join the army; I will not
suffer it.”

He sprang from his seat with a cry of joy.

“You will then marry me, Anna Sophia?” said he, exultingly. “You will
become my wife, so as to keep me here? You love me too much to let me
go!” He tried to embrace her, but she waved him off.

“No,” said she, “I will not marry you, but, still, you must not join the
army; for if you became a deserter, it would break your father’s heart,
and it would be a disgrace, not only for me, but for the whole village.
Think well over what you have said. Perhaps you are mistaken in
yourself, and only dislike joining the army on your poor father’s
account. Question your conscience and your heart, and remember, Charles
Henry, that God will hear your answer. Do you truly believe that you are
wanting in courage--that you would fly from the battle-field?”

“As truly as there is a God above us, I believe it, Anna Sophia. It is
not belief, it is certainty. It is not in my nature to be brave; I was
not brought up to it, and am therefore without it. I am an apt farmer,
but would be a bad soldier.”

Anna Sophia sighed deeply, and covered her face with her hands. Thus
she stood for some time in front of her betrothed, and he saw the
large tears, stealing through her fingers, fall upon the grass, to be
transformed there by the sun into sparkling jewels.

“Why do you weep, Anna Sophia?” asked he, gently. “What has so suddenly
made you sad?”

Her hands fell slowly and wearily from her face. “I am not weeping now,”
 said she, “it is past--I have shed my last tear. Now we must settle upon
what is to be done, for you cannot be a soldier.”

“But they will force me,” said he, “for I am tall, strong, and
healthy--just the build for a soldier.”

Anna Sophia raised herself proudly and stood beside him. “I am as tall
as you,” said she.

“It is true,” replied Charles Henry, laughing, “we are of the same
height. We can scarcely fail to have tall, good-looking children some of
these days!”

She shrugged her shoulders slightly, and looked at him in a strange
manner. “I am as strong and as healthy as you,” said she, “my sight is
as sharp, my hand as sure. Were I Charles Henry Buschman, I would be
a good soldier, for I have courage--I would lot tremble at the
cannon-balls.”

“But, fortunately, you are not a man,” said Charles Henry, laughing.
“You are the beautiful Anna Sophia, who is this day to become my wife to
save me from being a soldier.”

“No, Charles Henry; the war must be at an end, and Charles Henry
Buschman must have returned a brave soldier, before I can marry him.”

“You mean,” said he, with trembling lips--“you mean I must be a
soldier?”

“As you have said, they will not let you off. You are a strong, healthy
youth--you are unmarried, and have no one to support, for your father
can take care of himself. Why, then, as the king is in need of soldiers,
should they pass you by?”

“It is too true.” murmured Charles Henry, despondently. After a slight
pause, he said: “But I will not be a soldier--I cannot! For it is true I
am a coward--I have not a particle of courage! That is born with one, it
cannot be acquired; I have it not, and cannot therefore be a soldier.”

“Nor shall you become one,” said Anna, with determination.

“What can you do?”

“I will join the army in your stead!”

Charles Henry stared at her. He was on the point of laughing, but
the sight of her inspired, earnest countenance, in which a world of
determination was expressed, sobered him completely.

“I will do as I said, for I have great courage, and when I think of a
battle my heart beats loudly, not with fear but with rapturous joy.
To me, nothing would be more glorious than to die, banner in hand,
surrounded by the thunder of cannon, and to cry out exultingly, as the
blood flows from my wounds, ‘Vive le roi! vive la patrie!’” Her form was
raised majestically, her countenance beamed with inspiration, a daring
fire sparkled in her eyes--she was so changed in form and expression,
that Charles Henry drew back from her in terror.

“I am afraid of you, Anna Sophia,” said he, shuddering. “You are
changed--you are not like yourself.”

“No,” said she; “nor am I the same. Yesterday I was Anna Sophia
Detzloff--from to-day I am Charles Henry Buschman. Do not interrupt
me--it must be! You shall not break your father’s heart--you shall not
bring disgrace upon the village. The king has called you--you must obey
the call. But I will go in your place; you shall remain quietly at home,
thrashing your corn, cutting your hay, and taking care of your kind old
father, while I shall be upon the battle-field, fighting in your place.”

“Do you then love me well enough to give your life for me?” cried
Charles Henry, with streaming eyes.

She shook her head slowly, thoughtfully. “I do not know if it be love,”
 said she. “I only feel that it must be done--there is no other outlet
but this to help us all. Let us speak no more about it--only tell me
that you accept it.”

“It is impossible, Anna Sophia.”

“Only accept it, and all will be right.”

“I cannot. It would be an everlasting shame to me.”

She pressed her teeth tightly together--her eyes gleamed with anger.
“Hear me out,” said she. “Go, or stay--whichever you do--I do not remain
here! I must away and seek my fortune. I have never been happy, as
yet--upon the battle-field I may be. I have nothing to lose, and can
therefore win all. Well, say! Am I to be a soldier in your stead?”

“If you really wish it, I must yield,” said he, sadly. “You say you have
nothing to lose, but I, I have you, and I cannot, will not lose you. And
as you would be angry with and leave me if I said ‘No,’ I prefer saying
‘Yes.’”

Anna Sophia gave a cry of delight, and, for the first time, gave Charles
Henry a willing kiss. “Many, many thanks, Charles Henry,” said she. “Now
we will all be happy.”

Charles Henry sighed. He could not bring himself to trust in Anna’s
prophecy.

“And now,” said she, eagerly, “how shall we go about it?”



CHAPTER IV. FAREWELL TO THE VILLAGE.


In the course of the day, Charles Henry accompanied the other boys to
the village, where an officer was to call out the names of those
who were drafted. As his name was called out, he did not change
countenance--he remained as gay and cheerful as before, while the other
boys were gazing sadly, thoughtfully before them. Then the officer
handed each of them a ticket upon which their names were printed, and
ordered them to go immediately to the nearest city, Cleve, and receive
their uniforms. Charles Henry requested a day’s leave, as he had various
preparations to make for his father, to whom he wished to will the
little property he had inherited from his mother. The officer granted
him one day. Charles Henry left the house gayly, but instead of turning
his steps toward the little hut inhabited by his father, he took the
path leading to the old school-house, where his bride lived.

She stood at her door waiting for him. “Well,” said she, hastily, “is
all right?”

“Yes,” said he, sadly, “I am drafted.”

She grasped the printed ticket from his hand and hid it in her bosom.
“Now,” said she, “you have but to bring me a decent suit of clothes.”

“My Sunday suit, Anna,” said he, smiling. “It is new; I intended to be
married in it.”

“I shall not hurt it,” said she. “There is a merchant at Cleve, whom I
know to be good and honest--I will leave the clothes with him, and next
Sunday you can walk to the city for them.”

“You will not even keep them to remember me by?”

“It is impossible for me ever to forget you, Charles Henry, for I shall
bear your name.”

“From now on, throughout your whole life, you shall bear it, Anna. For
when you return, you will remember your promise, and marry me. You will
not forget me when far away?”

“How do I know I shall return?” said she. “A soldier’s life is in
constant danger. There can be no talk of marriage until this war is
over. But it is now time we were asleep, Charles Henry. You and I have
many things to do to-morrow; we must arrange our household affairs--you
for the sake of appearances, and I in good earnest. Good-night, then,
Charles Henry.”

“Will you not kiss me on this our last night, Anna Sophia?” said he,
sadly.

“A soldier kisses no man,” said she, with a weary smile. “He might
embrace a friend, as his life ebbed out upon the battle-field, but none
other, Charles Henry. Good-night.”

She entered and bolted the door after her, then lighting a candle she
hastened to her attic-room. Seating herself at her father’s table, she
spread a large sheet of foolscap before her and commenced writing. She
was making her will with a firm, unshaken hand. She began by taking
leave of the villagers, and implored them to forgive her for causing
them sorrow; but that life in the old hut, without her parents, had
become burdensome to her, and as her betrothed was now going away, she
could endure it no longer. She then divided her few possessions, leaving
to every friend some slight remembrance, such as ribbons, a prayer-book,
or a handkerchief. Her clothes she divided among the village wives. But
her house, with all its contents, she left to Father Buschman, with the
request that he would live in it, at least in summer.

When she had finished, she threw herself upon her bed to rest from the
many fatigues and heart-aches of the day. In her dreams her parents
appeared to her--they beckoned, kissed, and blessed her. Strengthened by
this dream, she sprang joyfully at daybreak from her couch. She felt
now assured that what she was about to do was right, for otherwise
her parents would not have appeared to her. She now continued the
preparations for her journey cheerfully. She packed all her linen
clothes into a small bundle, and then scoured and dusted her little
house carefully. Dressing herself with more than her usual care, and
putting her testament in her pocket, she left the house.

Anna took the road leading to the parsonage; she wished to go to
confession to her old pastor for the last time. He had known her during
the whole of her short life; had baptized her, and with him she had
taken her first communion. She had confessed to him her most secret
thoughts, and with loving smile, he absolved what she deemed her sins.
He would not break the seal of confession, and she therefore opened her
heart to him without fear.

The old pastor was deeply moved, and laying his hand upon her head he
wept. When she had bid him a long and loving adieu, and had wiped the
tears from her eyes, she left the parsonage and hastened to the woods,
where Father Buschman was tending his sheep. As soon as the old shepherd
saw her, he beckoned to her his welcome.

“I did not see you throughout the whole of yesterday, Anna Sophia,” said
he, “and my heart was heavy within me; there was something wanting to my
happiness.”

“I will remain with you to-day to make up for yesterday’s absence,” said
she, seating herself beside him and kissing him tenderly. “I could not
work to-day, for my heart aches; I will rest myself with you.”

“Your heart aches because Charles Henry must leave us,” said the old
shepherd. “You would prefer his remaining at home, and not being a
soldier?”

“No, I would not prefer this, father,” said she, earnestly; “would you?”

The old man looked thoughtful for some time, then said:

“It will be a great sorrow to me, Anna Sophia, for he is the last
remaining light of my youth, and when he goes all will be dark and
gloomy for me. It does me good to see his bright, handsome face; to hear
his gay morning and evening song; and when you two are sitting beside me
hand in hand upon the old bench at the front of our little hut, my youth
comes back to me. I see myself sitting on the same bench with my dear
old woman--it was our favorite seat when we were young. When Charles
Henry leaves me, I not only lose him, but my whole past life seems to
vanish away.”

“You would, therefore, prefer he should remain at home?” said Anna,
anxiously.

“If it were possible,” said he, “but it is not. His king has called him,
he must obey.”

“But he may, perhaps, be allowed to stay, father, if you will declare
that you are too old, too weak to support yourself, and wish the only
prop of your old age to remain with you, the authorities at Cleve may,
perhaps, grant your request.”

The old shepherd shook his head slowly and thoughtfully, and said:

“No, we will not make the attempt; it would be deception, and could
bring us no honor. I am not too weak to earn my own living, and it would
be a disgrace to Charles Henry if I bought him off from his duty. The
world might then think he was a coward, and had not courage enough to
fight.”

“Do you think it a disgrace for a man to be wanting in courage?” said
Anna Sophia, gazing at him as if her life depended upon his answer.

“I think so,” said he, calmly; “it is as bad for a man to be without
courage as for a woman to be without virtue.”

Anna Sophia raised her dark, glowing eyes to heaven with an expression
of deep thankfulness. Then giving way to her emotion, she threw her arms
around the old shepherd, and, leaning her head upon his shoulder, she
wept bitterly. He did not disturb her, but pressed her tenderly to his
heart, and whispered occasionally a few loving, consoling words. He
believed he understood her sorrow; he thought he knew the source
of these tears. She was weeping because all hope of preventing her
betrothed from being a soldier was now gone.

“Weep no more, my child,” said he, at last; “your eyes will be red; it
will sadden Charles Henry, and make it harder for him to say good-by.
See, there he comes to join us--do not weep, my child.”

Anna raised her head and dried her eyes hastily. “I am not weeping,
father,” said she. “I entreat you do not tell Charles Henry that I
have been crying--do not, if you love me. I will promise not to be sad
again.”

“I will be silent, but you must keep your word and be cheerful, so as
not to sadden the poor boy.”

“I will.”

Anna Sophia kept her word. She gave Charles Henry a bright, cheery
welcome. While she was joking and laughing with the old man, evening
came upon them, and as it cast its shadows about, Charles Henry became
more and more silent and sad.

It was now time to drive home the fold, the sun had set, and Phylax
had collected his little army. The old shepherd arose. “And now, my
children,” said he, “take leave of one another. It is the last sunset
you will see together for many a long day. Swear to each other here, in
the presence of God and of his beautiful world, that you will be true to
each other, that your love shall never change.”

Charles Henry looked timidly, beseechingly at Anna Sophia, but she would
not encounter his gaze.

“We have said all that we had to say,” said she, quietly, “we will
therefore not make our parting harder by repeating it.”

“It will make parting much easier to me,” cried Charles Henry, “if you
will swear to be true, and always to love me. Though many years may
pass, Anna Sophia, before we meet again, I will never cease to love you,
never cease to think of you.”

“This will I also do, Charles Henry,” said Anna, solemnly. “My thoughts
will be with you daily, hourly; your name will be constantly upon my
lips!”

Charles Henry turned pale. He understood the ambiguous meaning of this
oath, and it cut him to the heart.

“And now, good-night, Anna Sophia,” said the old shepherd; “to-morrow
evening, when your work is done, I will await you here. We will have to
love and console each other. Good-night once more!”

“Good-night, dear father,” whispered she, in a voice choked with tears,
as she pressed a burning kiss on his brow.

The old man took her in his arms and embraced her tenderly, then
whispered:

“To-morrow we will weep together, Anna Sophia.”

Anna tore herself from his arms.

“Good-night, father!”--and then turning to Charles Henry, she said:
“When do you leave for Cleve?”

“To-night, at ten,” said he; “I prefer going at night; it is much hotter
in the day, and I must be at Cleve at eight in the morning. I will be at
your door to night, to take a last look at you.”

“It is all right,” said she, dryly, turning from him and hastening home.

Night had come; the village night-watch had announced the tenth hour; no
light gleamed through the windows--the busy noise and bustle of day had
given place to deep quiet. The whole village was at rest, every eye was
closed. No one saw Charles Henry as he passed, with a bundle under his
arm, and took the path leading to the old school-house--no one but
the moon, that was gleaming brightly above, and was illuminating the
solitary wanderer’s path.

For the first time he found Anna Sophia’s door open--he had no need to
knock. He entered undisturbed with his bundle, which contained the suit
of clothes Anna had desired.

Half an hour later the door was opened, and two tall, slenderly built
young men left the house. The moon saw it all; she saw that the man with
the hat on, and with the bundle on his back, was none other than Anna
Sophia Detzloff, daughter of the old school-teacher. She saw that the
one who was following her, whose countenance was so ghastly pale--not
because the moon was shining upon it, but because he was so sad, so
truly wretched--that this other was Charles Henry Buschman, who was
coward enough to let his bride go to battle in his stead! The moon saw
them shake hands for the last time and bid each other farewell.

“Let me go a little bit of the way with you, Anna Sophia,” said Charles
Henry; “it is so dark, so still, and soon you will go through the woods.
It is best I should be with you, for it is so fearfully gloomy. Let me
accompany you, Anna Sophia.”

“I have no fear of the woods,” said she, gently: “the stars above will
watch over and guard me, the moon will shed her light upon my path, it
will not be dark. I must go my way through life alone--I must have no
fear of any thing, not even of death. Leave me now, and be careful that
you are seen by no one during the whole of tomorrow in my house. No one
will go there tomorrow, for I have left word in the village that I am
going on a visit to my aunt at Cleve. I have prepared your meals for
you; the table is set, and above, in my room, you will find books
to read. You can stand it for one day, tomorrow evening you will be
released. Farewell, Charles Henry!”

“Do not go, Anna Sophia,” said he, weeping and trembling; “I will go. I
will force my heart to be courageous! You must stay here.”

“It is too late,” said Anna: “nor could you do it, Charles Henry.
You are afraid of the dark woods, and what comes beyond is much more
fearful. We have taken leave of each other, the worst is past. Kiss your
father for me, and when at times you are sitting upon the old bench,
remind him of Anna Sophia.”

“I will obey you,” whispered he.

But Anna was not listening to him; she had turned from him, and was
hastening down the road.

The moon saw it all! She saw the tears steal slowly from Anna Sophia’s
eyes, and fall unknown to herself upon her cheek, as she turned her back
upon her old home and hastened forward to a life of danger, privation,
and want. She saw Charles Henry leaning upon the door of the old
school-house, staring after Anna with a trembling heart until the
last glimpse of her was lost in the distant woods. He then entered the
school-house and fastened the door behind him. His heart was heavy and
sorrowful, he was ashamed of himself; he was sorry for what he had done,
but had not the strength to change it; and as he went over Anna Sophia’s
departure, he was inwardly rejoiced that he himself was to remain at
home.

On the morning of the second day after Anna’s departure, there was a
great stir in the village, there were two astounding reports to excite
the community. Charles Henry Buschman had returned from Cleve; they had
told him he could be spared for a while. The second report was that Anna
Sophia had not returned from her visit. They waited for several days,
and as she did not come, Charles Henry went to the distant village
where her aunt lived. But he returned with sad news. Anna Sophia was not
there, her aunt had not seen her.

What had become of her? Where was she? No one could clear up the
mystery. Many spoke of suicide; she had drowned herself in the large
lake to the left of the village they said, because her betrothed had to
leave her. The old pastor would not listen to this; but when the aunt
came to take possession of her niece’s worldly goods, he had to bring
forward the will Anna had given him, in which she had willed her all to
Father Buschman. And now no one doubted that Anna had laid hands upon
herself. The mystery remained unsolved. Every one pitied and sympathized
with Charles Henry, who had lost all his former cheerfulness since the
death of his bride!



CHAPTER V. THE PRISONER.


Two years had passed since Frederick von Trenck entered the fortress of
Magdeburg. Two years! What is that to those who live, work, strive, and
fight the battle of life? A short space of time, dashing on with flying
feet, and leaving nothing for remembrance but a few important moments.

Two years! What is that to the prisoner? A gray, impenetrable eternity,
in which the bitter waters of the past fall drop by drop upon all
the functions of life, and hollow out a grave for the being without
existence, who no longer has the courage to call himself a man.
Two years of anxious waiting, of vain hopes, of ever-renewing
self-deception, of labor without result.

This was Trenck’s existence, since the day the doors of the citadel
of Magdeburg closed upon him as a prisoner. He had had many bitter
disappointments, much secret suffering; he had learned to know human
nature in all its wickedness and insignificance, its love of money and
corruption, but also in its greatness and exaltation, and its constancy
and kindness.

Amongst the commandants and officers of the fortress whose duty it was
to guard Trenck, there were many hard and cruel hearts, which exulted
in his tortures, and who, knowing the king’s personal enmity to him,
thought to recommend themselves by practising the most refined cruelties
upon the defenceless prisoner. But he had also found warm human souls,
who pitied his misfortunes, and who sought, by every possible means,
to ameliorate his sad fate. And, after all, never had the night of his
imprisonment been utterly dark and impenetrable. The star of hope, of
love, of constancy, had glimmered from afar. This star, which had thrown
its silver veil over his most beautiful and sacred remembrances, over
his young life of liberty and love, this star was Amelia. She had never
ceased to think of him, to care for him, to labor for his release; she
had always found means to supply him with help, with gold, with active
friends. But, alas! all this had only served to add to his misfortunes,
to narrow the boundaries of his prison, and increase the weight of his
chains.

Treachery and seeming accident had, up to this time, made vain every
attempt at escape, and destroyed in one moment the sad and exhausting
labors of many long months. The first and seemingly most promising
attempt at flight had miscarried, through the treason of the faithless
Baron Weingarten, who had offered to communicate between Trenck and the
princess.

For six long months Trenck had worked with ceaseless and incomparable
energy at a subterranean path which would lead him to freedom; all was
prepared, all complete. The faithful grenadier, Gefhart, who had been
won over by the princess, had given him the necessary instruments, and
through the bars of his prison had conveyed to him such food as would
strengthen him for his giant task.

Nothing was now wanting but gold, to enable Trenck, when he had escaped,
to hire a little boat, which would place him on the other side of the
Elbe--gold, to enable him to make a rapid flight.

Gefhart had undertaken to deliver Trenck’s letter to the princess,
asking for this money. This letter, written with his own blood upon
a piece of linen, had been forwarded through Gefhart’s mistress, the
Jewess Rebecca, to Weingarten. He delivered it to the princess, and
received, through Pollnitz, two thousand thalers, which he did not hand
over to Rebecca, but retained for himself, and betrayed to the king
Trenck’s intended flight.

This was but a short time before Weingarten’s own flight; and while he
was enjoying the fruit of this base fraud in security and freedom,
poor Trenck was forced to descend still lower in the citadel, and take
possession of that frightful prison which, by special command of the
king, had been built and prepared for him, in the lowest casemates of
the fortress.

The king was greatly exasperated at these never-ending attempts of
Trenck to escape; his courage and endurance made him an interesting and
admired martyr to the whole garrison at Magdeburg.

Frederick wished to give to this garrison, and to all his soldiers, a
terrible example of the relentless severity with which insubordination
should be punished, to prove to them that mortal daring and mortal
energy were vain to escape the avenging hand of royal justice.

Trenck, who, in the beginning, had only been condemned to arrest in
Glatz for six months, had, by his constant attempts at escape, and
the mad and eloquent expression of his rage, brought upon himself the
sentence of eternal imprisonment, in a subterranean cell, which, by
express command of the king, was so prepared, that neither guards nor
soldiers were necessary to his detention. A jailer only was needed, to
lock the four doors of the corridor which led to Trenck’s cell. It was
as little dangerous to guard this poor prisoner as to approach the lion
bound by chains and hemmed in by iron bars.

Trenck was indeed manacled like a wild beast. A chain clanked upon his
feet, an iron girdle was around his waist, to which hung a heavy chain,
fastened to a thick iron bar built in the wall; manacles were made fast
to each end of an iron bar, to which his hands were bound. The most
cruel wild beast would not have been so tortured; some one would have
had pity on him, and mercifully ended his life. But this creature, thus
tortured, groaning and clanking his heavy chains--this creature was a
man, therefore there was no pity. It would have been considered a crime
to put an end to his life; but slowly, day by day, to murder him, was
only justice.

The king had made it the personal duty of the commandant, Bruckhausen,
to guard Trenck. He declared that if he allowed Trenck to escape, he
should not only lose his place and rank, but take Trenck’s place in his
fearful cell. This was a frightful menace to the ambitious and harsh
commandant, Bruckhausen, and, of course, led him to take the severest
precautions. It was he, therefore, who had bound Trenck, and, whenever
he visited the poor prisoner in his cell, he rejoiced in the artistic
construction of his chains, and looked proudly upon his work. He saw
with delight that Trenck was scarcely able to drag his heavy chains two
feet to the right or left, or to raise the tin cup to his parched lips,
with his hands thus fastened to an iron bar; and as often as he left the
cell, he exclaimed, with an expression of malicious joy:

“I have tamed him forever! he will not escape me!”

But Trenck was not tamed, his courage was not broken. In this crushed
and wasted form dwelt a strong soul, a bounding heart; he had been bound
in chains thought to be indissoluble. Trenck alone did not believe this;
he trusted still in the magic power of his will, in his good star, which
had not yet been quenched in darkness.

In the wall to which the chain was fastened, his name was built, in
red tiles; a gravestone marked the spot upon which his feet moved, upon
which a death’s head and the name of Trenck was engraved. Under this
stone there was a vault, and when one looked at the moist walls, from
which the water constantly trickled, and at the dark cell, which for six
months had not been cheered by one ray of light, they might well suppose
that the gravestone would soon be lifted, and the vault opened to
receive the poor prisoner, upon whose grave no other tears would flow.
These dark walls were, as it appeared, softer and more pitiful than the
hearts of men.

Trenck was not subdued; the death’s head and his name upon the
gravestone did not terrify him! It was nothing more to him than a
constant reminder to collect his courage and his strength, and to oppose
to his daily menace of death a strong conviction of life and liberty.

If his prison were dark, and warmed by no ray of sunshine, he leaned his
head against the wall, closed his eyes, and his vivid imagination and
glowing fancy was the slave of his will, and painted his past life in
magic pictures.

The prisoner, clad as a convict, with his hands and feet chained, became
at once the child of fortune and love; the exalted favorite of princes,
the admired cavalier, the envied courtier, and the darling of lovely
women.

When hunger drove him to eat the coarse bread which was his only
nourishment, and to satisfy his thirst with the muddy water in the tin
pitcher at his side, he thought of the meals, worthy of Lucullus,
of which he had partaken, at the Russian court, by the side of the
all-powerful Russian minister Bestuchef; he remembered the fabulous pomp
which surrounded him, and the profound reverence which was shown him, as
the acknowledged favorite of the prime minister of the empress.

When no one whispered one word of consolation or of sympathy, for all
trembled at the ceaseless watchfulness of the commandant--when the rude
silent jailer came daily and placed his bread and water before him and
left him without word or greeting--then Trenck recalled the sacred,
consecrated hours in which love had whispered sweet names and tender
words. This love still lived--it watched over and shone down upon
him--it was a star of hope. Why should Trenck despair, when love lived
and lived only for him? No, he would not die--he would never be buried
under this gravestone. Beyond these thick, damp walls lay the world--the
living, active, blooming world. It was only necessary to break these
chains, to open the five heavy doors which confined him to his dark
prison, and life, liberty, the world, honor, love, belonged to him!

“Is not my will stronger than chains and bolts?” he said. “Has not the
spirit wings by which she can take flight, mocking at prisons and at
torture?”

His spirit was free, for he believed in freedom: when his chains clanked
around him, it seemed to him as if they whispered of speedy liberty--as
if they exhorted him in soft, harmonious tones, to cast them off and
become a free and happy man.

At last there came a day when he could no longer resist these alluring
voices. If he could break these chains the first step was taken, and
only the doors remained to be opened. By close observation, he had
discovered that the inner door of his prison was of wood. The faithful
Gefhart had managed to inform him that the other doors were also
of wood. He had also conveyed to him a small, sharp knife, the most
precious of all earthly treasures, for with this he hoped to obtain his
freedom.

“But the chains!” First must the chains be broken--first must his right
hand be free! And it was free. Although the blood was bursting from the
nails Trenck forced his hand through the manacle. Freedom greeted him
with her first rapturous smile. Alas, the handcuff upon the left hand
was too narrow to be removed in this way. With a piece of his chain he
broke off a fragment of stone which he used as a file, and in this way
he liberated his left hand. The iron ring around his waist was fastened
only by a hook to the chain attached to the wall. Trenck placed his feet
against the wall, and bending forward with all his strength, succeeded
in straightening the hook so far as to remove it from the ring. And now
there only remained the heavy wooden chain fastened to his feet, and
also made fast to the wall. By a powerful effort he broke two of the
links of this chain.

He was free--free--at least to stand erect and walk around his miserable
prison. With a feeling of inexpressible joy he raised himself to his
full height--it enraptured him to move his arms, so long and painfully
confined--he extended them widely and powerfully, as if he wished to
clasp the whole outside world to his heart.

Could the commandant Bruckhausen have cast one glance into this
horrible, noiseless cell, he would have trembled with rage and
apprehension. The unchained giant stood with glad smiles, and flaming
eyes, and outstretched arms, as if adjuring the spirits of the
under-world to come to his assistance. But the commandant lay in
careless security upon his soft, white couch; his eyes were closed; they
could not pierce the dark cell where a fellow-man, with loudly-beating
heart, but silent lips, called rapturously to the fair goddess Liberty,
and hastened to clasp her in his arms.

Stepping forward, he sought the door of his prison, and kneeling before
it, he took out his knife. He tried to cut out a small piece and to
ascertain the thickness of the wall; this was short work--the door
opened inside, and it was easy to cut around and remove the lock. It
was made of simple oak boards. Once convinced of this, Trenck prudently
sought his mattress in order to obtain rest and strength. It was
impossible to commence his labor then. The night was far spent, and
every morning at eight o’clock the jailer came to inspect him and bring
his bread and water. His visit must be over before he could begin his
work--he must possess his soul in patience. What were a few hours’
waiting to him who had waited long, dreary years?--a fleeting moment,
scarcely sufficient to accustom him to his new happiness, to enable him
to collect his thoughts and bear quietly the rapturous conviction of
approaching freedom.

“Yes, I will be free; this is the last night of my imprisonment.” But
while waiting in this dreary prison he could enjoy one pleasure long
denied him--he could stretch his limbs upon his bed without being
martyred and crushed by his bonds--without hearing the clank of chains.
With what gladness he now stretched himself upon his poor couch!--how
grateful he was to God for this great happiness!--how sweet his
sleep!--how glorious his dreams!

Trenck awaked in the early morning, revived and strengthened. It was
time to prepare for the daily visitation--to replace his chains, and
take possession of his gravestone. His eyes accustomed to the darkness
soon discovered the broken link of the chain, which he hid in his
mattress. With a piece of his hair-band he fastened the chain to his
feet, hung the second chain to the ring upon his waist, and now it only
remained to place his hands in the manacles fastened to the iron bar. He
had filed the handcuff from his left hand and that was easy to resume,
but it was impossible to force his right hand through the ring; he had
succeeded in removing it by a mighty effort the evening before, but
it was consequently greatly swollen. He took again his little piece of
stone and tried to file it apart, but every effort was in vain. Nearer
and nearer came the hour of visitation, and if his right hand were free
when the jailer came, all would be discovered. It seemed to him as if he
heard already the bolt of the first door. With a last, frightful effort,
he forced his hand in the manacle; his fingers cracked as if the bones
were broken; it was scarcely possible for him to suppress a shriek
of anguish. But the danger was even at the door, and the blessing of
freedom was not too dearly bought even by this anguish; he bore it with
heroic fortitude, and though his whole figure trembled with pain, he
conquered himself. He leaned back breathlessly and almost unconsciously
against the wall; and now the bolt really moved, and the jailer,
followed by two officers, entered.

The visitation began. In this small cell, which held nothing but a
mattress, a seat built in the wall, and a small table, there was but
little to examine. A fleeting glance at Trenck’s chains, which were
rattling around him, and the search was over, and the jailer and
officers left the prison. Trenck listened in breathless silence till
he heard the bolt of the fifth door rattling, and now life and movement
were in his form and features. It was time to work. But alas! it was
impossible. The swollen, blood-red, throbbing hand could not possibly be
withdrawn from the handcuff. He must control himself--must wait and
be patient. He resolved to do this with a brave heart, in the full
conviction that he would attain his liberty.

At last, after three days, the swelling disappeared, and he found he
could withdraw his hand without difficulty. The visit was no sooner
over, than his chains fell off. For the last time! God grant that for
the last time he had heard them clank!

A herculean work was before him, but Freedom was without and awaiting
him, and he panted to embrace her. Seizing his little pocket-knife,
he stepped to the door and commenced his labor. The first door was not
difficult, it opened from within. In half an hour the work was done, and
Trenck advanced and extended his hands before him till they encountered
another obstacle. This was the second door. But here was indeed a weary
task. The door opened on the outside and a heavy cross-bar besides the
lock secured it. It was necessary to cut entirely through the door above
the bar, and spring over it. Trenck did not despair--bravely, unwearily,
he went to work--the perspiration fell from his brow and mingled with
the blood which trickled from his lacerated hands. Trenck did not regard
it; he felt no pain, no exhaustion. Freedom stood before the frowning
citadel, and awaited his coming. At last it was achieved; with trembling
hands he lifted the upper part of the door from the hinges and sprang
into the outer room.

Here light and sunshine greeted him. Weary months had gone by since
he had seen the sun--the soft light of heaven on the fresh green of
earth--and now all this was his once more. There was a small window in
this corridor, and not too high for him to look abroad. He turned his
eyes, filled with tears of the purest joy, upon the cloudless heavens;
he followed with longing eyes the flight of the doves, who moved like
a black cloud across the sky and disappeared on the horizon. He inhaled
with long-drawn breath the fresh, glad air, which appeared to him laden
with the fragrance of all the flowers of the world. He gave himself
up for a few moments to this first rapturous enjoyment, then conquered
himself and examined his surroundings with a thoughtful, searching eye.

He saw that his prison was built against the first wall of the fortress,
and was exactly opposite an entrance, before which stood a high
palisade; this he must climb before he could reach the outer wall. But
the night was long, and he saw that the guard patrolling upon the
wall disappeared from time to time for more than five minutes; he must
therefore have some distance to walk before he returned to the same
spot. While his back was turned, must Trenck climb the palisade and
wall.

Trenck sprang back upon the floor with a glad and happy heart. What he
had seen of the free, outer world had given him new life. With cheerful
resolution he stepped to the third door. This was constructed like the
first, and gave him but little trouble--it was soon opened, and Trenck
passed on the other side.

The sun went down, and the twilight obscured his view, as this was
completed. And now his strength was exhausted, and his swollen and
bleeding hands, from which the flesh hung in shreds, refused their
service. With inexpressible despair he looked at the fourth door, which
opened from the outside, and it was again necessary to cut through the
whole breadth of the door in order to advance.

Worn out and trembling, he seated himself near the door and leaned his
aching head against the cool wood. He sat thus a long time, till he felt
that his blood was flowing more calmly, and the wild, quick beating
of his pulse had subsided--till the pain in his hands and limbs was
quieted, and he had won new strength. He then rose from the floor, took
his knife, and recommenced his work. He moved more slowly than before,
but his work progressed. It could scarcely be midnight, and half the
door was cut through. The moon shed her peerless rays through the little
window and lighted his work, and showed him what remained to be done. In
two hours he would finish, and then remained only the fifth door which
opened on the wall, and which Gefhart assured him was not difficult.
In three hours the work would be done--in three hours he might stand
without, in the fresh, free air of heaven, himself a free and happy man.

With renewed courage and renewed strength, after a short rest, he
went again to work. He thrust his knife into the opening and pressed
powerfully against the wood. Suddenly his hand seemed paralyzed--on the
other side of the door he heard a light clang, and with a hollow cry of
woe, Trenck sank upon the floor. The blade of the knife was broken and
had fallen on the other side. Now he was lost! There was no longer hope
of escape! He rushed to the window; would it not be possible to escape
in that way? No, no! It was not possible to pass through this small
opening.

Trenck sank upon his knees before the window and stared into the
heavens. His pallid lips murmured low words. Were they prayers?--were
they curses?--or was it the death-rattle of dead hopes and dying
liberty? At last he rose from his knees; his face, which had been that
of a corpse, now assumed an expression of firm resolve. Staggering and
creeping along by the wall, he returned to his prison, which he had left
so short a time before full of happy hopes. He reached his bed and laid
down upon it, holding the broken knife in his hand. Not to sleep, not
to rest, but to die! He could think of no other hope--no other way than
this. “Yes, I will die!” His life’s courage, his life’s energy, was
exhausted. He had closed his account with the world. Slowly he raised
his hand aloft with the broken knife, and collecting all his strength
for one last, decisive blow, he bowed and cut the vein of his left foot,
then raised his head with a smile of triumph, and stretching out his
left arm he forced the stump of his knife deep into the large vein of
his elbow. The deed was done! He felt the warm blood flowing from his
veins--he felt that with it also was sweeping by the miserable
remnant of his buried existence. His thoughts wandered, and a happy
insensibility overpowered him, and now his blessed spirit floated
chainless and free beyond this drear prison. The necessities of this
poor life and its tortures were overcome.

But what was that? Who called his name lightly from without, and made
the air of this living grave tremble with unwonted tones?

When this call was repeated the second time, Trenck felt a light
trembling in his whole frame. The whisper of his name had called back
his fleeting spirit. The godlike dream of release was at an end; Trenck
lived again, a suffering, defenceless man. For the third time he heard
his name called--for the third time a voice, as if from heaven, rang,
“Trenck! Trenck!”

Trenck gathered all his little strength, and replied:

“Who calls me?”

“It is I,” said the faithful Gefhart; “have I not sworn to bring you
help? I have crept over the wall only to say to you that I think of
you--that you must not despair--that help is nigh, even at the door. An
unknown friend has sent you a greeting by me; he has given me a roll
of gold to be useful in your flight. Come near, I will throw it to you
through the window.”

“It is too late, Gefhart, all is too late! I lie bathed in my blood;
to-morrow they will find me dead!”

“But why die?” cried the fresh, strong voice of Gefhart; “why wish for
death, now when escape is possible? Here there are no guards, and I
will soon find a way to furnish you with tools. Try only to break your
prison--for the rest I will remain responsible.”

“Alas, I tried to-night and I failed!” said Trenck. A few tears stole
from his eyes and rolled slowly over his hollow cheeks.

“You will succeed better another time, Baron Trenck; whenever I am on
guard here I will seek an opportunity to speak with you, and we will
arrange all. Do not despair. I must go, the sun is rising, and I may be
seen. Do not despair! God will help you--trust fully in me.” [Footnote:
“Frederick von Trenck’ Important Memoire.”]

The voice had long since died away, but Trenck listened still for those
tones, which seemed like the greeting of one of God’s angels; they
illuminated his prison and gave strength to his soul. No, no, now he
would not die! He felt his courage revive. He would defy fate, and
oppose its stern decrees by the mighty power of his will.



CHAPTER VI. THE PRISON BARRICADE.


No, he would not die! With trembling hands he tore his coarse shirt into
strips, and bound with it his bleeding veins. When he had thus closed
the portals upon death, he seated himself to meditate upon the means
of avoiding still severer punishment. He soon arose from his bed, much
strengthened by the short rest he had had. With an iron bar that he had
forced from his bed he hammered into the wall until the stones, around
which the mortar had become loosened owing to the dampness of the cell,
fell at his feet. He piled them together in the centre of his ceil, and
then hastened to barricade the second door he had attempted to force.
The lower part of it was still held on by the lock; over the opening at
the top he passed the chains several times that he had forced from his
limbs, forming a sort of trellis-work, which rendered entrance from
without impossible.

When all his preparations were made, when he was ready for the contest,
he seated himself upon his strange barricade, and there, wearied out by
suffering and anxiety, he fell into a sweet sleep. He was awakened by
the sound of many loud voices. Through the iron lattice of the second
door he saw the wondering, terrified countenances of the city guard, who
were endeavoring to unloose the chains. With one bound Trenck was beside
his door, balancing in his right hand a large stone, and in the left his
broken knife. He cried out, in a furious voice:

“Back! back!--let no one dare to enter here. My stones shall have good
aim; I will kill any one who ventures to enter this room. Major, tell
his excellency, the commandant, that I will remain no longer in chains.
I wish him to have me shot down at once! I will thank him for my death,
but I will curse him if he forces me to become a murderer. For I swear,
before God, I will stone any one who seeks to overpower me. I will
die--yes, die!”

It was a fearful sight--this man, thin, wan, naked, and bleeding, who
seemed to have risen from the grave to revenge the sufferings of his
life. His countenance was ghastly pale, his hair lying in matted locks
on his neck; and the long beard, covering the lower part of his face,
and falling almost to his waist, gave him a wild, insane look, which was
heightened by the fearful brightness of his eyes.

With terror and pity they gazed at the poor unfortunate one whom
despair had driven to this extremity; who remained deaf to all their
representations, all their entreaties, still swearing that he would kill
any one who approached him. It was in vain that the officers besought
him in the most tender manner to submit--that the prison chaplain
came and implored him, in the name of God, to give up this useless
resistance. God’s name had no effect whatever upon him. What was God to
him--to him on whom no one had pity, neither God nor man; he whom they
treated like a wild beast, and fastened in a cage? It was in vain that
the commandant ordered the guard to storm the fortified door. Trenck
received them with stones, and sent the two foremost ones reeling to the
floor, causing the others to fall back in dismay.

Trenck raised his hand with a shout of exultation, armed with another
stone, and fixing his wild, triumphant glance upon the commandant, he
cried:

“You see it is useless to endeavor to take me while living. Order the
guards to fire! Let me die!”

The commandant lacked the power to do as Trenck requested, however
willing he may have been to grant his request. Instead of continuing
his threats, he withdrew into another chamber, signing to the major to
follow him.

Trench still stood with uplifted arm when the major returned. And now,
as the stern, much-feared commandant had left, no one withheld the
tender sympathy that was almost breaking the hearts of the lookers-on.
Trenck saw it written upon every countenance, and he to whom a look
and word of pity had been so long unknown, felt deeply touched. His
expression became milder, and as the major, whom he had known in the
other prison, commenced to speak to him in gentle, loving tones, and
implored him not to cause his ruin, for all the punishment would fall
upon his head, as, through his negligence, Trenck had been allowed to
retain his knife--as he finished, Trenck’s arm fell to his side, and
tears streamed from his eyes.

“No one,” said he, gently--“no one shall become unhappy through me, for
misery is a fearful thing. I will make no further resistance, if you
will swear to me that no heavy chains shall be put upon me--that I shall
suffer no unworthy punishment.”

The major promised him, in the commandant’s name, that if he ceased to
resist, no further notice would be taken of the affair.

“Then,” whispered Trenck, with a bitter smile, “I must suffer
anew--suffer forever.”

He approached the door and drew off the chains. “Now, guards,” said he,
“the door can be opened. The wild beast has become tame.”

Then, with a low moan, he sank fainting upon the floor. He was lifted up
and laid upon his bed. Tears were in every eye, but Trenck did not
see them; he did not hear their low, whispered words of sympathy and
friendship. Death, from whom Trenck had once more been torn, had sent
her twin sister, insensibility, to cause him to forget his sufferings
for a while.



CHAPTER VII. THE BATTLE OF COLLIN.


Lost!--the battle was lost! This was the cry of woe throughout the
Prussian camp--this was the fearful cry that palsied the hands of those
who could not endure defeat.

The Prussians who had defeated the enemy at Losovitz and Prague, were
condemned to yield the palm of victory at Collin to their enemy’s
commander, Marshal Daun. They had fought bravely, desperately for this
victory; and when all was over, death would have been preferable to
defeat.

The Prussians were beaten, though their king, Ziethen, and Moritz von
Dessau--all of them heroes--were in the field. At the first thought
of the possibility of losing the battle, there was a fearful panic
throughout the army.

“We are lost! lost!”--and this cry caused them to throw down their
arms and fly, as if followed by a thousand furies; as victory--was
impossible, they wished at least to save their lives.

It was in vain that the officers implored them to rally again and fall
upon the enemy. They did not heed. In vain that the king himself rode
among them, pointing with his sword to the enemy, and crying:

“Forward’ forward, boys! Would you live forever? Death comes to all!”

They looked at him stubbornly; they feared not now his piercing, eagle
glance, his royal countenance. They looked and said:

“We have worked hard enough to-day for eightpence,” and then continued
their flight.

But the king could not yet be brought to believe the truth. He still
trusted in the possibility of victory. He clung with desperation to
this hope; he let his voice be heard--that voice that generally had such
power over his soldiers; he called them to him, and pointed out to
them the enemy’s battery; he ordered the band to play a martial air
to inspire the men. This call brought a few faithful soldiers around
him--only forty warriors were ready to follow their king.

“Forward! we will take the battery!” cried he, as he pressed on,
regardless of the shower of the enemy’s balls.

What was this to him? what had he to do with death--he whose only
thought was for the honor and glory of his army? If he succeeded in
taking this battery, it would encourage his desponding soldiers. They
would once more believe in the star of their king, and assemble bravely
around him. This it was that gave hope to the king.

Without once looking back, he pressed onward to the battery--when
suddenly, amid the clatter of trumpets and the roar of cannon, this
fearful question reached him:

“Sire, would you take the battery alone?”

The king reined in his horse and looked behind him. Yes, he was alone;
no one was with him but his adjutant, Major von Grant, who had asked
this question.

A deep groan escaped the king; his head fell upon his breast, and he
gave himself up to the bitterness of despair.

A cannon-ball fell beside him--he did not heed it; he was too utterly
wretched. Another ball struck his horse, causing it to prance with pain
and terror.

Major Grant grasped the king’s bridle.

“Sire,” said he, “are you determined to be shot? If so, let me know it,
and with your majesty’s permission I will withdraw.” The king raised his
head, and looked at the daring adjutant with a bitter smile.

“We will both withdraw,” said he, gently, advancing toward the generals
who had been seeking him throughout the battle-field. He greeted them
with a silent bow, and passed without a word. Whither he was now going,
none of the generals knew, but they followed him in silence.

The king rode up the slight eminence from which, on that morning,
his army had fallen like a glittering avalanche upon the enemy. This
avalanche was now transformed into a stream of blood, and corpse upon
corpse covered the ground. He reined in his horse and gazed at the
Austrian army, who were now withdrawing to their camp, midst shoutings
and rejoicings, to rest after their glorious victory. Then, turning his
horse, he looked at the remains of his little army flying hither and
thither in the disorder of defeat. A deep sigh escaped him. Throwing his
head back proudly, he called Prince Moritz von Dessau and the Duke of
Bevern to his side.

“Sirs,” said he, firmly; “the fate of to-day is decided. All that now
remains for us to do, is to deprive the enemy of the advantages of this
victory. Collect our scattered regiments, and lead the army through the
defile of Plainan, back to Nimburg. There we will decide what is best to
do. I go on before you, and wish no one to accompany me.”

He turned his horse, rode slowly down the hill, then took the road
leading to Nimburg. Lost in deep thought, he continued his way. He was
followed by his faithful body-guard, who, at a sign from Prince von
Dessau, had hastened after him. A few flying officers and sergeants
joined him. These were the followers of Prussia’s hero-king; but they
were suddenly scattered. A soldier galloped up to them, and stated that
he had just encountered a regiment of the enemy’s hussars, who were
pursuing them. There was a cry of terror throughout the guards, and
then, as if with one accord, putting spurs to their horses, they fled in
wild disorder.

The king continued his way, slowly and quietly--slowly and quietly a few
of his guard followed him. In funereal silence they passed through the
defile of Plainan, and reached at last Nimburg, the king’s appointed
place of meeting.

The king now reined in his horse, and, looking back, he became aware of
his followers. Beckoning to his adjutant, he ordered him to get quarters
for the soldiers, and then to inform the generals that he awaited them.

“Where?” asked the astonished adjutant.

“Here!” said the king, pointing to a fallen pump, a few steps from where
he stood. He dismounted, and, when the adjutant had disappeared, he
threw himself upon the old pump, and rested his head upon his cane. Thus
he remained a long while, thinking painfully of the occurrences of
the past day. He remembered that he had appointed the site of to-day’s
battle, without listening to the warnings of his experienced generals,
and that Moritz von Dessau had implored him to put his army in another
position, before attacking the enemy. He remembered the prince saying to
him--“It would be impossible for an attack from this point to succeed,”
 and his entreating him to draw back and change his position. He
remembered, also, his riding up to the prince, with his naked sword, and
inquiring, in a threatening tone, “whether he meant to obey or not?”
 And Prince Moritz von Dessau had obeyed; his prophecy had been
fulfilled--the battle was lost.

“Ah,” whispered the king, “how poor, how weak is man! The happiness of
an hour intoxicates him, and he defies his coming fate; he should know
that happiness is a fleeting guest, but that misfortune is the constant
companion of man. I have allowed myself to be deceived by fortune, and
she has turned against me. Fortune is a woman, and I am not gallant. The
fickle goddess watches carefully, and makes good use of my faults. It
was a great fault to dare, with twenty-three battalions of infantry, to
attack an army of sixty thousand men, half of whom are cavalry. Ah! my
great ancestor, Frederick William, what have you to say of your poor
nephew, who, with his little host, is fighting against Russia, Austria,
a large part of Germany, and a hundred thousand French troops? Will you
assist me? Will you be my guardian angel, praying for me above? Yes,
yes! you will assist me if I assist myself, and do not give way to my
faults. Had I been killed in to-day’s battle, I would now be in a safe
haven, beyond the reach of storms. But now I must swim still farther
into the stormy sea, until at last I find in the grave that rest and
peace which I shall never attain in this world. This is a consoling
thought; it shall rouse me again to life. I am glad I did not die
to-day. I can still repair my fault. All the responsibility will be
thrown on me; it will be said, the battle would have been won, but for
Frederick’s obstinacy. But let this be! It is a necessary consequence
that a warrior should suffer for the faults of his followers. Through
me this battle was lost, and in history it will go down thus to future
generations. But many a victory shall still be recorded, and as the
defeat was owing to me, so shall the victory also come through me alone.
I alone will bear upon my shoulders Prussia’s honor, Prussia’s glory.
It lies now, with me, bleeding on the ground. It shall be lifted and
sustained by me alone!” And raising his burning eyes heavenward, he
seemed to see these future victories branded upon the skies. Gradually
the inspiration left his countenance, giving place to deep thought. He
had delivered his funeral oration to the lost battle, and now gave his
thought to his future victories. He drew lines and figures upon the sand
with his cane. It may have been a drawing of the last or a sketch of the
next battle.

The king was so absorbed in this occupation, that he did not perceive
his generals, who, having reached Nimburg with the wreck of the army,
hastened to the place of appointment, and were now assembled at a
respectful distance from him.

Frederick continued to sketch. The generals gazed at him in silence,
anxiously awaiting the moment when he would arouse himself. He suddenly
looked up, and did not seem surprised to see them; lifting his hat
slightly, he greeted them, and rose from his lowly seat.

“It is well, sirs, that you are here,” said he. “We must now make our
preparations for the future; for our enemies, having beaten us once,
will think us no longer capable of resisting them, and will fall upon us
with renewed courage. We will convince them, gentlemen, that though we
are stricken to the ground for a moment, we are not crushed, not dead.
We will convince them that we still live to tear from them the laurels
they have taken from us this day. Prince von Dessau, hasten immediately
to our army at Prague. I command the Prince of Prussia to raise the
siege there at once. He shall call all his generals together, and hold
council with them as to the most suitable mode of retreat. He shall
determine with them how the siege can best be raised; to avoid, as far
as possible, the appearance of flying from their enemy. With gay music
they should leave their posts; they should not all leave together, but
in groups, so as to mislead the enemy. In small companies should
also the retreat through Bohemia to Lausitz be made, for it would be
difficult for a large army to pass this mountainous district; but they
should remain as near together as possible, choosing the widest, most
convenient roads. These are the orders you are to deliver my brother,
the Prince of Prussia, and his generals. I give to the prince the
command of this portion of my army, and require of him to hasten to
Lausitz. I will join him in Bautzen. And then, gentlemen, we will seek
an occasion to repay our enemies for their civilities of to-day.”

The generals had listened to him with breathless attention; and as he
now dismissed them, with a glorious smile upon his lips, they repeated
unanimously his last words, “We will repay our enemies for their
civilities.”

As if inspired by this shout, the soldiers, lying about the market
place, at a slight distance from the king, broke into a loud hurrah, and
shouted, “Long live our king!”

The king turned slowly toward them, but when he saw all that remained of
his noble army, he became pale, and pressed his lips tightly together,
as if to suppress a cry of horror. Then advancing, followed by his
generals, to where his weary, wounded soldiers were lying, he said:

“Children, is this all that is left of you?”

“Yes, father, we are the last,” said an old gray-headed officer,
standing before the king. “There were many thousands of us, now there
are two hundred and fifty.”

“Two hundred and fifty!” repeated the king, with a bitter smile.

“And it was not our fault,” continued the old officer, “that we did not
fall with the rest. We fought as bravely as they; but Death did not want
us. Perhaps he thought it best to leave a few of us, to guard our king.
We all think so! Some were left to repay those abominable Saxons for
their to-day’s work.”

“And why alone the Saxons?” asked the king.

“Because it was those infamous Saxon troops that hewed down our
regiment. They fell upon us like devils, and striking their cursed
swords into us, cried out, ‘This is for Striegau!’”

“Ah! you see,” cried the king, “that while beating you, they could but
think of the many times you had conquered them.”

“They shall think of this again, father,” said another soldier, raising
himself with great pain from the ground. “Wait until our wounds have
healed, and we will repay them with interest.”

“You are wounded, Henry?” said the king.

“Yes, your majesty, in the arm.”

“And old Klaus?”

“Is dead!”

“And Fritz Verder?”

“Dead! He lies with the others upon the battle-field. There are seven
hundred and fifty of us in heaven, and only two hundred and fifty on
earth. But those above, as well as below, still cry--‘Long live our
king!’”

“Long live our king,” cried they all, rising.

The king made no reply; his eye passed from one to the other pale,
exhausted countenance, and an inexpressible sorrow overcame him.

“Dead!” murmured he, “my faithful guards dead! seven hundred and fifty
of my choice men have fallen.” And overpowered by his emotion, the king
did not force back the tears welling to his eyes. They stole softly down
his cheek, and Frederick was not ashamed. He did not blush, because his
warriors had seen him weep.

“Children,” cried the old officer, after a pause, and wiping the tears
from his weary eyes, “from now on it will be glorious to die, for when
we are dead, our king weeps for us.”



CHAPTER VIII. THE INIMICAL BROTHERS.


“The king comes! The king is entering Bautzen!”

This announcement brought pale terror to the hearts of the Prince of
Prussia and his generals. They who had heretofore sprang joyfully to
meet the call of their king, now trembled at his glance. They must now
present to him the sad and despoiled remnant of that great army which,
under the command of the Prince Augustus William of Prussia, had made
the retreat from Lausitz.

It had, indeed, been the most fearful retreat ever attempted by the
Prussian troops. It had cost them more than the bloodiest battle, and
they had suffered more from hardships during the last few days than ever
before during a whole campaign. They had marched over narrow, stony,
rugged mountain-paths, between hills and horrible abysses, sometimes
climbing upward, sometimes descending. Thousands died from exhaustion;
thousands pressed backward, crushed by those in the front; thousands,
forced onward by those in the rear, had stumbled and fallen into
fathomless caverns, which lay at the foot of these mountain passes,
yawning like open graves. If a wheel broke, the wagon was burned; there
was no time for repairs, and if left in the path, it interrupted the
passage of the flying army. At last, in order to facilitate the flight,
the provision-wagons were burned, and the bread divided amongst the
soldiers; the equipages and pontoon-wagons were also burned. Exhausted
by their unusual exertions, beside themselves from pain and unheard-of
suffering the whole army was seized with a death-panic.

The soldiers had lost not only all faith in their good fortune, but all
faith in their leaders. Thousands deserted; thousands fled to escape
death, which seemed to mock at and beckon to them from every pointed
rock and every dark cavern. [Footnote: Warner’s “Campaigns of Frederick
the Great”.]

While one part of the army deserted or died of hunger or exhaustion,
another part fought with an intrenched enemy, for three long days, in
the narrow pass of Gabel, under the command of General von Puttkammer.
They fought like heroes, but were at last obliged to surrender, with two
thousand men and seven cannon. Utterly broken by these losses, dead and
dying from starvation and weariness, the army drew off toward Zittau.

There was but one thought which sustained the wearied, and lent strength
to the starving. In Zittau were immense magazines of grain. In Zittau,
the rich Saxon city, which throughout all Saxony was called the
gold-mine, they dared hope for rest and opportunity to recover.

Before this unhappy army reached Zittau, Duke Charles of Lothringen was
in advance of them. With wanton cruelty he reduced the industrious, open
city to ashes, destroyed the Prussian magazines, and, with his army,
trampled upon the ruins and the corpses of this unfortified town. The
Prussians had now lost their last hope. They encamped by Lodau, and
after a short rest, advanced to Bautzen, which city the king had
appointed for the reunion of the two army corps. And now, one day after
the arrival of this miserable remnant of an army, the king entered the
camp of Bautzen.

The unhappy moment was at hand; they must now meet the stern eye of
the king. These were bold, heroic generals--the Prince of Prussia, Von
Bevern, Von Wurtemberg, Von Dessau, Winterfeldt, Goltz, Ziethen, Krokow,
and Schmettau. Bravely, triumphantly had they fought in all previous
battles, but now, amidst defeat and disaster, they must meet the eye of
the king. This was more dangerous to them than the most deadly battle,
and they shrank appalled before this fearful encounter.

Silently, and frowning darkly, the generals mounted their horses, and
rode down the highway--the Prince of Prussia in advance, and by his side
the Duke of Wurtemberg. And now, in front of them, in an open space,
they saw the king. He was on his horse, and looked sternly toward them.
The Prince of Prussia trembled, and, involuntarily checking his horse,
he stooped with a weary smile toward the duke.

“I have a feeling,” said he, in low tones, “as if my fate was advancing
threateningly, in the form of my brother. It glowers upon me with a
glance which announces that I am condemned to death. Look, duke! my
sentence is written in the raging eye of the king.”

“The king’s wrath will not fall upon you alone,” whispered the duke,
“but upon us all. This is a wild tempest, which threatens us all in the
same moment with destruction.”

“A tempest? yes! the thunder rolls over all, but the stroke of lightning
falls only upon me; and I--I am the one,” said the prince, solemnly; “I
am the sacrificial offering chosen by the king, with which he will seek
to propitiate the frowning gods of destiny.”

“God forbid!” said the duke, sadly. “The king will be just! He will see
that these frightful misfortunes were unavoidable; that we are innocent.
He will listen to our explanations; he--”

“I tell you,” said Augustus William, “he will demand a subject for his
scorn. I shall be this sacrifice! Well, so let it be; I am willing to
be offered up for my fatherland! Let us go onward, duke.” He drew his
bridle and they rode forward.

The king remained immovable in the same spot, his proud head erect, and
his icy glance fixed steadily upon them.

As they drew nearer, and could no longer doubt that he recognized them,
the king moved slowly round, and turned his back upon them. They were
greatly embarrassed--undecided what to do; they looked to the prince,
in the hope that he would advance and announce himself to the king, and
compel him to notice them. Prince Augustus William did not advance; he
stood firm and immovable, as if moulded in brass. No muscle of his face
moved, but his pale and tightly-compressed lips slightly trembled. The
generals followed his example. Silently, immovably they stood behind
him, their eyes fixed upon the king, who remained still with his back
turned to them.

There was a long and painful pause; not a word was spoken. Those who
were arranging the tents for the king’s troops were moving actively
about, and now they drew near with their measuring-line, exactly to the
spot upon which the king stood. He was forced to take another position;
he turned his horse, and stood exactly in front of his generals. His
countenance was not calm and cold, it flashed with rage. The Prince of
Prussia had the courage to brave his anger, and, drawing near, he bowed
profoundly.

The king did not answer his greeting, and, indeed, appeared not to see
him. A black cloud was on his brow, and it became still blacker as the
other generals dared to approach and salute him. Suddenly, in that tone
of voice he was accustomed to use only upon the field of battle the king
called out:

“Goltz, come here!”

The general advanced from the circle, with a firm military bearing, and
approached the king.

“Goltz,” said he, loudly, and looking as if he wished to crush the
unhappy general--“Goltz, tell my brother and the other generals that if
I did justice, I would take off their heads--Winterfeldt only excepted.”
 [Footnote: The king’s own words--“Characteristics of the Seven Years’
War.”]

A murmur of discontent was heard amongst the generals, and every eye was
fixed angrily upon Winterfeldt. He turned deadly pale, and looked down,
as if ashamed of the exception the king had made, and dared not gaze
upon those whose guilt he shared, and whose punishment he escaped.

The king fixed his eye so piercingly upon the murmurers, that they felt
his glance upon them, without daring to meet it. Only the Prince of
Prussia drew still nearer to the king.

“Sire,” said he, in a calm voice, “my duty demands that I should give
your majesty a list of the army. Will you be graciously pleased to
accept it from me?” He took the paper from his pocket, and handed it to
the king, who snatched it from him hastily, and turned his back again
upon them.

“Withdraw, messieurs,” said he, “your presence oppresses me; you remind
me of the disgraceful defeat my army has suffered, through the guilt of
its leaders.”

“Sire,” said the Duke of Severn, “will your majesty listen to our
justification?”

“Justification!” cried the king, with flashing eyes--“if this
unparalleled disgrace which you have all brought upon my army could be
justified, I might pity; but I must curse you. Go, sir duke, I will not
look upon you.” And springing with youthful activity from his horse, he
entered his tent.

The generals were alone. They looked upon each other’s death-like faces
with suppressed scorn upon their trembling lips, and tears of rage in
their eyes.

“Shall we bear this shame silently?” said one.

“Shall we allow ourselves to be scolded like schoolboys?” said another.
“Shall we suffer foul accusations to be brought against us, and no
opportunity granted for justification?”

As the murmur of the generals became louder, the Prince of Prussia, who
had been standing aside in deep thought, came forward. An expression of
calm resolve was written upon his noble features.

“No, gentlemen, you shall not suffer this. I undertake to justify you to
the king.”

“Do not attempt it, prince,” said the Duke of Wurteinberg; “at least,
not in this hour. The king will crush you in his rage!”

Prince Augustus William cast his eyes to heaven, saying, “I am in the
hands of God. I would rather die by the king’s rage than to endure his
contempt. The king made me commander-in-chief of this army corps,
and accuses me of failure in duty! He shall hear my defence. As a
Hohenzollern, as a general, as his brother, I demand the right to make
my report.” He advanced hastily toward the king’s tent, but the Duke of
Severn held him back.

“Will your royal highness allow me to accompany you?” said he. “The
king’s scorn fell upon me personally, and I also demand a hearing.”

“No one shall accompany me,” said the prince, solemnly. “None but
God shall be witness to what we have to say. Wait for me, therefore,
gentlemen. I shall soon return.” He bowed and entered the king’s tent.

“Announce me to his majesty,” he said to the guard, who returned
immediately and opened the inner door of the tent.

The prince entered with a firm step and head erect--the door closed
behind him--the two brothers were alone.

The king sat upon a camp-stool by a little table covered with papers. He
held in his hand the paper which the prince had given him, and appeared
to be reading it eagerly. The prince stood for some time silently at
the door; at last, weary of waiting, he entered the tent and stepped
directly before the king.

King Frederick arose and fixed his great eyes scornfully upon his
brother. “I gave you an army corps of thirty-six thousand men, and you
bring me back sixteen thousand! Where have you left my soldiers?”

“They lie in the narrow pass of Gabel--in the chasms of the Erz
mountains--they have died of hunger and thirst, and they have deserted,”
 said Prince Augustus, solemnly.

“And you dare to tell me this?” said the king.

“I dare to tell you what fate has brought upon us.”

“Fate?” cried the king, shrugging his shoulders. “Fate is ever the
excuse for the crimes, and follies of man. Your obstinacy and your
disobedience are what you call fate. Prince Augustus William of Prussia,
how did you dare to act contrary to my instructions, and to conduct this
retreat through the mountains, and not by the highways?”

“Your majesty gave me no instructions,” said the prince, eagerly. “Your
majesty commanded me to take counsel of my generals in every movement,
and I did so. I should not have retreated through the mountains had they
not advised it in consideration of the real approach of the enemy. But I
do not say this to excuse myself, or to accuse them, but to prove to my
brother the king that it was unjust to place me under the guardianship
and direction of his generals--unjust to place a mentor by my side who
is my enemy--who hates me and seeks my destruction!”

“Do you dare to reproach me?” said the king, in a thundering voice.

“In this hour I dare all,” said the prince, steadily. “This is a
decisive hour between you and me, my brother. It is a strife of
intellect, of spirit; and although I know I am too weak to conquer, I
will at least fall with honor--with my sword in my hand! I shall fall,
but you shall not consider me a cowardly mute who does not dare to
defend himself. I know that I have been slandered to you; I know that
those whom you honor with your friendship are spies upon my every word
and look, and report to your majesty what they hear and what they do not
hear--what is true and what is not true. I know I have been robbed of
my brother’s love, but I will not consent to the loss of his respect and
consideration. Sire, Winterfeldt wrote to you; I know that he did so. If
he wrote that I was obstinate and self-willed, and alone answerable for
the disasters of the army, [Footnote: Warner’s “Campaigns of Frederick
the Great.”] I call God to witness that he slandered me. Your majesty
speaks of instructions. I received none. I would remind you that I
entreated you in vain to give me partial instructions--that I wrote down
your majesty’s verbally expressed opinions, and implored you to add
to them your approval, or written remarks and explanations. [Footnote:
“Recueil des Lettres du Roi de Prusse et du Prince de Prusse.”] Your
majesty returned the paper without signature or remark. I alone
should bear the responsibility, and if this sad retreat should end
disastrously, the whole world might say, ‘This was the work of the
Prince of Prussia!’ Look you, my brother, I know, I feel this. The lost
battle of Collin demanded an offering, and I was predestined for the
sacrifice.”

The king uttered a cry of rage, and advanced against the prince without
outstretched arm, but suddenly recovered his self-control, folded his
arms, and stared coldly at the prince.

“I have listened quietly to you, hoping always I might possibly find in
your words a glimmer of excuse for your blasphemous deeds. I find none.
Have you finished, or have you still something to say?”

“I have this to say, sire: I demand that my conduct be investigated.”

“Woe to you if I do this--woe to you if I listen to your bold, insane
demand!” Stepping before the prince, and fixing his eye upon him,
he said: “You have acted not like a Prussian, not like a general of
Prussian troops, but like an enemy--like an ally of Austria and of
France, who sought only for means to destroy the Prussian army and put
an end to this war. I know that it never had your approval, because
directed against your beloved France.”

“Ah, my brother, you distrust me!” cried the prince, fiercely.

“Yes, I distrust you,” said the king, eagerly--“I distrust you, and you
merit it! You have just said that this was an important hour between us.
Well, then, it shall be so. I accept this strife of words which you have
the audacity to offer me. This was not cautiously, not wisely done,
on your part. You yourself have armed me--my weapons are sharp. I have
suffered much during my whole life because of you, my brother. This
began even in the days of our childhood, and will, as it appears, follow
me to the grave. You were the favorite of my father, and I remember well
that he one day proposed to me to relinquish the throne in your favor. I
withstood him. I did not pay for this opposition with my life, but with
my life’s happiness. I will not account this against you; perhaps you
were innocent; but it appears to me you have not forgotten our father’s
wish--that you look upon me as a usurper, who has robbed you of your
throne. You act as if you had the right to measure and criticise all my
undertakings, and to make yourself a judge over me. I undertook this war
with the conviction of my right and my royal duty. You dared to protest
against it. You dared, in the presence of my generals, to speak of
your claims and the claims of your children! Oh, sir, you were already
thinking of the time when you would lay my head in the vault and walk
over my dead body to a throne! In that hour you stood no longer by my
side as my subject, as my brother, as my friend, but as an ambitious
prince royal, who hates his king who keeps him from his crown, and who
is hated of the king because he reminds him of his death! And during no
moment since then could you have denied this hatred.”

“Oh, my brother!” said the prince, painfully, “your own hatred has
blinded you and made you unjust. I have always loved and admired you,
even when I did not approve of your undertakings.”

“And yet it was you, you alone,” said the king, hastily, “who dared,
after the fatal disaster of Collin, to utter loud cries of grief and
despair. When my courier brought to you and the generals and the
army the mournful news of the lost battle of Collin, in place of
strengthening and encouraging my warriors--consoling and inspiring them
with confidence in their royal leader--you dared, in the presence of
all my generals, to cry and whimper, not over destiny, not over the
inconstancy of fortune, but over the conduct of your brother and your
king. In place of justifying me to my silent and cast-down generals, you
accused me boldly, and made my misfortune my crime.” [Footnote: Betzow’s
“Characteristics of Frederick.”]

“It is true,” murmured the prince, “distress and grief overcame me and
robbed me of my reason.”

“Even because you were so wise and bold a warrior,” said the king, with
a cold smile, “I wished to give you an opportunity to prove your genius
to my whole people, whose sovereign you will one day be. Because you
wept and clamored before say generals over my faults as a leader, I
wished you to prove to them that you were capable of commanding and
bringing good out of evil. I trusted you with my third army corps--I
expected it to retreat safely and surely under your command, after I had
almost led it to destruction in a bloody, disastrous battle. I gave you
the opportunity to make yourself a god in the eyes of my soldiers,
a glorious model to my generals. What use have you made of these
advantages? You bring me crippled, hungry, desperate soldiers! You bring
me generals covered with shame, and blushing over their guilt. If I
should deal with them as they deserved, I would give them over to a
courtmartial and they would be condemned.”

“And still I am not conscious of any fault,” said the prince. “I dare to
say fate was against me, and that I am wholly innocent.”

“And I repeat to you your conduct has been that of an ally of France,
who wished destruction to the Prussians, and to close this hated war!”

“If that were so, I would be a traitor!” said the prince.

“And who will dare say that you are not?” cried the king. “Who will say
that he who, while I was engaged in war with France, exchanged the most
tender letters with the former French ambassador Valori, and complained
to this Frenchman of the obstinacy of his brother, who is also his king?
Who will say that this man is not a traitor? Was it not known to you, my
brother, when you wrote to Valori, that the French had already invaded
my Westphalian provinces? It was known to you--and yet you dared to
write to a Frenchman that you were convinced of the decline of my
kingdom. And yet you dared to bring charges against me, and to say: ‘Ce
seront mes enfants qui seront les victimes des fautes passees.’ Did you
not know that it was the Marquise de Pompadour who gave occasion for
this war? You knew it, and yet you commissioned Valori to entreat the
marquise to have her portrait painted for you! Now, sir, I ask you, in
all candor, if these are not the acts of a traitor?”

The prince made a passionate exclamation, and laid his hand upon his
sword.

“You dare to dishonor me, sire!”

“I dare it! I dare to tell you the truth,” said the king, solemnly.

“Take your hand from your sword--the truth is an enemy that you cannot
contend against with weapons, but with deeds, and your conduct testifies
against you.”

The prince breathed heavily, and turned deadly pale.

“The contest is over. Your majesty fights against me with weapons which
I do not possess, and would not dare use, and against which I cannot
defend myself. You open my private letters, and from the harmless
confidences of friendship you make a traitor of me. To call me a
traitor, is to degrade me. I am dishonored; and with a dishonored
culprit your majesty cannot contend. I will therefore withdraw. No one
will see the wounds you have inflicted--which have pierced my heart;
but, I tell you, my brother, I will die of these wounds.”

“And in heaven, I suppose, you will accuse me as your murderer?” said
the king, ironically.

“No! in heaven I will pray for my fatherland,” said Prince Augustus
William, mildly. He bowed respectfully, turned, and left the room.

Without stood the generals, maintaining a solemn silence. When they saw
the prince appear at the door of the king’s tent, so pale, so suffering,
a prophetic warning filled every breast. It seemed to them that a dying
man approached them, and with inexpressible sorrow held out his hand for
a last farewell.

“It is passed! The battle is ended!”

At this moment the adjutant of the king left the tent, and approached
the generals, who stood near the prince.

“His majesty commands you to see that the soldiers of the third army
corps are kept, as far as it is possible, entirely separated from the
rest of the army. You will immediately convey the order to the king’s
army, that all intercourse between them and the third army corps
is forbidden, as this corps seems to have lost all courage and all
honorable feeling.”

[Footnote: Kustrin, “Characteristics from the Life of Frederick the
Great”]

“The king’s commands shall be obeyed,” said the generals, coldly.

The prince was completely overcome by this last blow, and leaned for
a moment upon the arm of the Duke of Wurtemberg; he soon recovered
himself, and turning to General Schultz, he said:

“Go and bring me, from the king, the watchword of the third army corps.”

General Schultz withdrew, but returned quickly from the king’s tent,
with a dark frown upon his face.

“Well,” said the prince, “have you the watchword?”

“No, your royal highness! The king says, that for cowards and fugitives
he has no watchword, and he commanded me to go to the devil.”

A murmur of rage was heard amongst the generals. The prince let his
glance wander from one to the other of these dark faces.

“Gentlemen,” said he, “the tempest will soon be over, and the sun will
shine again for you; I am the only cloud now round about you, and I will
withdraw.”

“What! will you desert us?” said the generals, sadly.

“Do I not belong to the third army corps?” said the prince, with a
painful smile. “It may be that the king will command his soldiers to
have no intercourse with the commander of the third army corps, and you
can understand that I prefer to anticipate him.”

“Will your highness allow me to accompany you?” said the Duke of Bevern.
“I also will not allow myself to be despised and railed at without any
opportunity accorded me of explanation.”

The prince shook his head.

“You must remain, general; the army cannot spare its brave leaders. I,
however--I must go. I will be the peace-offering for you all. I am sure
this will content my brother the king.”

“Allow me, at least, to accompany your royal highness,” said General
Schmettau. “The king commanded me, through his adjutant, to withdraw,
and never dare to present myself before his eyes again. I also must
leave the army.”

The prince gave him his hand.

“You are, then, a welcome companion. Let us ride on to Bautzen, where we
can refresh ourselves, and then go on to Dresden.”

“Will you really leave us?” said the Duke of Wurtemberg, sadly.

“Would you have me wait for still further degradation?” said the prince.
“No, it is enough--more than I can bear.--My horse! General, let us
mount.”

The two horses were brought forward. The generals placed themselves
in front, to take leave of their former commander-in-chief, with all
military honor.

Prince Augustus rode slowly on. Everywhere he met sad faces and eyes
filled with tears. Tears indeed were in his own eyes, but he would not
weep--not now; there was time enough for tears. He could weep during the
sad remainder of his life. He forced his voice to be firm, and, waving
his sword to the generals, as a last greeting, he said:

“I hope no one of you will hold me for a coward. I am forced by the king
to leave the army.” He turned his horse, and, followed by Schmettau,
with head erect, he moved slowly off.

“Now, by Heaven,” cried Ziethen, “he shall not leave the camp in this
contemptible way! I will give him a suitable guard. Let the king rage; I
can stand it!” He nodded to an officer. “Listen, Von Wendt, take half
a company for a guard, and follow immediately behind the prince, to
Bautzen.”

A few moments later, an officer sprang along the highway to Bautzen,
accompanied by his hussars; they soon overtook the prince, who greeted
them kindly.

“Schmettau,” said he, “Death avoided me so long as I was on the
battle-field, now I bear him along with me; and thus must it be, till
the pale king of terrors carries me to another world.” He turned his
eyes away from the Prussian camp, and rode slowly to Bautzen.



CHAPTER IX. THE LETTERS.


A few hours later a courier rode into the camp. He came from Bautzen,
and had a letter from the Prince of Prussia to his royal brother. The
king was still in his tent, busily engaged in looking over the army
list. He took his brother’s letter, and, opening it with evident anger,
read:

“Your majesty’s commands, and the incidents of our last meeting, have
taught me that I have lost my honor and my reputation. As I have nothing
to reproach myself with, this causes me much sorrow, but no humiliation.
I am convinced that I was not actuated by obstinacy, and that I did not
follow the advice of incompetent men. All the generals in the third army
corps commanded by me, will testify to this. I consider it necessary to
request your majesty to have my conduct investigated. Your majesty would
thereby do me a kindness. I have, therefore, no right to count upon it.
My health is much impaired since the war. I have withdrawn to Bautzen
for its restoration, and have requested the Duke of Bevern to give you
all the information relative to the army. In spite of my unhappiness,
my daily prayer is, and shall be, that every undertaking of your majesty
shall be crowned with glory.”

“Your unhappy brother, AUGUSTUS WILLIAM.”

The king read this letter several times; then taking up his pen, he
wrote hastily: “MY DEAR BROTHER: Your improper conduct has greatly
disturbed my equanimity. Not my enemies, but your want of principle, has
caused all these disasters. My generals are not to be excused. They have
either given you bad advice, or have agreed too readily to your foolish
plans. The one is as bad as the other. Your ears are accustomed to
flattery, my brother. Daun did not flatter you, and you now see the
consequences. But little hope remains. I shall commence the attack--if
we do not conquer, we shall die together. I do not bewail the loss of
your heart, but rather your utter incapacity and want of judgment. I
tell you this plainly, for with one who has perhaps but a few days to
live, there is no use of deception. I wish you more happiness than has
fallen to my lot, and hope that your misfortunes and disappointments
may teach you to act with more wisdom and judgment where matters of
importance are concerned. Many of the painful events I now look forward
to, I ascribe to you. You and your children will suffer from their
results much more than myself. Be assured that I have always loved you,
and will continue to do so until my death. Your brother, FREDERICK.”

When the king had finished his letter, he read it over. “I cannot
take back one word I have said,” murmured he, softly. “Were he not my
brother, he should be court-martialled. But history shall not have to
relate more than one such occurrence of a Hohenzollern. Enough family
dramas and tragedies have occurred in my reign to furnish scandalous
material for future generations; I will not add to them. My brother can
withdraw quietly from these scenes--he can pray while we fight--he can
cultivate the peaceful arts while we are upon the battle-field, offering
up bloody sacrifices to Mars. Perhaps we will succeed in gaining an
honorable peace for Prussia, and then Augustus William may be a better
king than I have been. Prussia still clings to me--she needs me.”

He sealed the letter, then calling his valet, ordered him to send it off
immediately. As he disappeared, the king’s countenance became once more
clouded and disturbed. “Life makes a man very poor,” said he, softly;
“the longer he lives, the more solitary he becomes. How rich I was
when I began life--how rich when I mounted the throne! Possessing many
friends, sisters, brothers, and many charming illusions. The world
belonged to me then, with all its joy, all its glory. And now? Where are
these friends? Lost to me, either by death or inconstancy! Where are
my brothers, sisters? Their hearts have turned from me--their love has
grown cold! Where are my joyous illusions? Scattered to the winds! Alas,
I am now undeceived, and if the whole world seemed at one time to belong
to me, that little spot of earth, paid for with blood and anguish, is
no longer mine. Every illusion but one has been torn from my heart--the
thirst for glory still remains. I have bid adieu to love, to happiness,
but I still believe in fame, and must at least have one laurel-wreath
upon my coffin. May death then strike me at his will--the sooner the
better, before my heart has become perfectly hardened! And I feel that
time is not far distant.”

The curtain of his tent was at this moment drawn back, and his
secretary, Le Catt, whose acquaintance he had made during his visit to
Amsterdam, entered with several letters in his hand. The king advanced
eagerly to meet him.

“Well, Le Catt,” said he, “has the courier come from Berlin?”

“Yes, sire, he has come,” said Le Catt, sighing, “but I fear he brings
no good news.”

“No good news? Has the enemy forced his way so far?”

“An enemy has, sire; but not the one your majesty is thinking of!”

“How know you what enemy I mean?” said the king, impatiently. “Is it the
Russians, or the French?”

“None of your mortal enemies, sire; and the mourning which now reigns in
Berlin and will soon reign throughout Prussia, is caused by no enemy of
your majesty but by Providence.”

The king looked at him earnestly for a moment. “I understand,” said he.
“Some one of my family has died; is it not so?”

“Yes, sire; your--”

“Be still!” said the king, sternly. “I do not yet wish to know--I have
not the strength to bear it--wait a while.”

Folding his hands upon his breast, he paced up and down his tent several
times, laboring hard for breath. He stood still, and leaning against the
window, said: “Now, Le Catt, I can endure any thing; speak--who is it?”

“Sire, it is her majesty.”

“My wife?” interrupted the king.

“No, sire; her majesty--”

“My mother!” cried the king, in a heart-broken voice. “My mother!”

He stood thus for a while, with his hands before his face, his form
bowed down and trembling like an oak swayed by a storm. Tears escaped
through his hands and fell slowly to the ground--groans of agony were
wrung from him.

Le Catt could stand it no longer; he approached the king and ventured to
say a few consoling words.

“Do not seek to comfort me,” said the king; “you do not know what
inexpressible pain this loss has caused me.”

“Yes, sire, I well know,” said Le Catt, “for the queen-mother was
the noblest, most gracious princess that ever lived. I can therefore
understand your sorrow.”

“No, you cannot,” said the king, raising his pale, tearful countenance.
“You carry your sorrow upon your lips--I upon my heart. The queen was
the best of women, and my whole land may well mourn for her. It will not
be forced grief, for every one who had the happiness to approach loved
and admired her for her many virtues--for her great kindness. And I
feel, I know, that sorrow for the ruin of Prussia has caused her death.
She was too noble a princess, too tender a mother, to outlive Prussia’s
destruction and her son’s misfortune.”

“But your majesty knows that the queen was suffering from an incurable
disease.”

“It is true I know it,” said the king, sinking slowly upon his
camp-stool. “I feared that I might never see her again, and still this
news comes totally unexpected.”

“Your majesty will overcome this great grief as a philosopher, a hero.”

“Ah, my friend,” said the king, sadly, “philosophy is a solace in past
and future sufferings, but is utterly powerless for present grief; I
feel my heart and strength fail. For the last two years I have resembled
a tottering wall. Family misfortune, secret pain, public sorrow,
continual disappointment, these have been my nourishment. What is
there wanting to make of me another Job? If I wish to survive these
distressing circumstances, I must become a stoic. For I cannot bring the
philosophy of Epicurus to bear upon my great sorrows. And still,” added
the king, the dejected look disappearing from his countenance, and
giving place to one of energy and determination, “still, I will not be
overcome. Were all the elements to combine against me, I will not fall
beneath them.”

“Ah!” cried Le Catt, “once more is my king the hero, who will not only
overcome his grief, but also his enemies.”

“God grant that you are a true prophet!” cried the king, earnestly.
“This is a great era; the next few months will be decisive for Prussia:
I will restore her or die beneath her ruins!”

“You will restore!” cried Le Catt, with enthusiasm.

“And when I have made Prussia great,” said the king, relapsing into his
former gloom, “my mother will not be here to rejoice with me. Each
one of my home--returning soldiers will have some one--a mother, a
sweetheart--to meet them with tears of joy, to greet them tenderly. I
shall be alone.”

“Your people will advance, gladly, to meet you; they will greet you with
tears of joy.”

“Ah, yes,” cried the king, with a bitter smile, “they will advance to
meet me joyfully; but, were I to die the same day, they would cry: ‘Le
roi est mort--vive le roi!’ and would greet my successor with equal
delight. There is nothing personal in the love of a people to its
sovereign; they love not in me the man, but the king. But my mother
loved not the king the warrior; she loved her son with her whole heart,
and God knows he had but that one heart to trust in. Leave me, Le Catt.
Seek not to console me. Soon the king will gain the mastery. Now I am
but the son, who wishes to be alone with the mother. Go.” Fearing he had
wounded Le Catt, he pressed his hand tenderly.

Le Catt raised it to his lips and covered it with kisses and tears. The
king withdrew it gently, and signed to him to leave the room.

Now he was alone--alone with his pain, with his grief--alone with his
mother. And, truly, during this hour he was but the loving son; his
every thought was of his mother; he conversed with her, he wept over
her; but, as his sorrow became more subdued, he took his flute from the
table, the one constant companion of his life. As the soft, sweet tones
were wafted through the tent, he seemed to hear his mother whispering
words of love to him, to feel her hallowed kiss upon his brow. And now
he was king once more. As he heard without the sound of trumpets, the
beating of drums, the loud shouts and hurrahs of his soldiers, a new
fire burned in his eyes, he laid his flute aside, and listened for
a time to the joyous shouts; then raising his right hand, he said:
“Farewell, mother; you died out of despair for my defeat at Collin, but
I swear to you I will revenge your death and my defeat tenfold upon my
enemies when I stand before them again in battle array. Hear me, spirit
of my mother, and give to your son your blessing!”



CHAPTER X. IN THE CASTLE AT DRESDEN.


The Queen Maria Josephine of Poland, Princess elect of Saxony, paced her
room violently; and with deep emotion and painful anxiety she listened
to every noise which interrupted the stillness that surrounded her.

“If he should be discovered,” she murmured softly, “should this letter
be found, all is betrayed, and I am lost.”

She shuddered, and even the paint could not conceal her sudden pallor.
She soon raised herself proudly erect, and her eyes resumed their usual
calm expression.

“Bah! lost,” she said, shrugging her shoulders, “who will dare to seize
a queen and condemn her for fighting for her honor and her country?
Only the insolent and arrogant Margrave of Brandenburg could have the
temerity to insult a queen and a woman in my person, and he, thank God,
is crushed and will never be able to rally. But where is Schonberg,” she
said, uneasily; “if he does not come to-day, all is lost--all!”

Loud voices in the antechamber interrupted her; she listened in
breathless expectation. “It is he,” she murmured, “it is Schonberg;
the officer on guard forbids his entrance. What insults I endure! I am
treated as a prisoner in my own castle; I am even denied the right of
seeing my own servants.”

She ceased, and listened again; the voices became louder and more
violent. “He is, apparently, speaking so loudly to attract my
attention,” she said; “I will go to his relief.” She crossed the chamber
hastily, and opened the door leading into the anteroom. “What means
this noise?” she said, angrily; “how dare you be guilty of such unseemly
conduct?”

Silence followed this question. The two gentlemen, who had just
exchanged such angry words, were dumb, approached the queen, and bowed
profoundly.

“I beg your majesty’s forgiveness,” said the Prussian officer, “my
commander ordered me this morning to admit no one until he had seen your
highness himself.”

“I wished to announce to your majesty,” said Schonberg, “that I had
returned from my estate, and desired the favor of being again received
into your service; this gentleman refused to allow me to enter.”

The queen turned upon the officer with an expression of contempt. “Am I
a prisoner, sir, allowed to see no one but my jailer?”

“Your majesty favors me with a question I am unable to answer,” said the
officer; “I am a soldier; and must obey the command of those above me. I
know not whether your majesty is a prisoner.”

The queen reddened; she felt that, in the excitement of passion, she had
forgotten her rank and dignity.

“It is true,” she said, “it is not for you to answer this question.
I must demand a reply from your king. You are but a machine, moved by
foreign power. I think you will not dare to keep my servants from me;”
 and, without allowing the confused officer time to answer, she turned
to the chamberlain, Baron von Schonberg. “I am delighted to receive
you again; you shall resume your service immediately, as you desire it;
follow me to my room, I have an important letter to dictate to you.”

She stepped over the sill of the door, and gave the chamberlain a sign
to follow her; as he approached the door, however, the officer stepped
before him.

“Forgive me,” he said, in a pleading tone; “I have strict orders to
admit only those who usually surround the queen; do you understand, sir,
to admit no one to her majesty this morning? I can make no exceptions.”

“I belong to those who usually surround her majesty,” said the
chamberlain; “I have had an eight days’ leave of absence; that cannot
make an exception against me.”

“Baron von Schonberg, did I not order you to resume your service, and to
follow me?” said the queen; “why do you not enter?”

“Your majesty sees that I am prevented.”

“Mercy, your highness, mercy,” pleaded the officer, “I know I am
seemingly wanting in reverence toward the holy person of the queen, but
I cannot act otherwise.” Maria Josephine looked proud and commanding;
her eyes flashed angrily, and, with a loud voice, she exclaimed:

“I command you to allow my servant to enter! do you hear? command it as
a sovereign!”

The officer stepped back.

“Go in, sir, I have not the courage to withstand this command.”

For a moment the queen’s pale face crimsoned with joy, but she
suppressed her emotion immediately and motioned the chamberlain, with
proud dignity, to follow.

Schonberg passed the officer, and entered the room.

“At last,” sighed Maria Josephine, as the door closed behind him--“at
last this torture is at an end, and I breathe again. Speak, baron--your
news!” Exhausted, she fell upon the sofa, and gazed breathlessly at the
chamberlain.

“Before speaking, with your majesty’s permission, I will see if we are
entirely alone--if no one is listening.”

He stepped softly around the room, and searched behind the curtains and
furniture; then went to the door, and looked through the key-hole, to
see if any one was without. He saw the officer sitting motionless, at
the other end of the anteroom. Satisfied with this, he was about to open
the other door, but the queen called him back.

“That is unnecessary; no one can be concealed there. Now let me hear
quickly what you have to say.”

“I have many things to tell you,” said the chamberlain, triumphantly.
“All our undertakings have been most successful. We may hope they will
be crowned with the most desirable results.”

“Praise to God and the holy saints!” murmured the queen. “Speak, speak!
tell me all!”

“After I left your majesty, eight days ago, I went first to my estate,
which, as your highness knows, lies near Bautzen, and in the immediate
neighborhood of the King of Prussia’s camp. Disguised as a peasant, with
my little flock of sheep, I entered the Prussian camp unchallenged. I
wish your majesty could have had the satisfaction of seeing what I
saw. Your royal heart would have been gladdened at the sight of those
starved, exhausted, and desperate troops which Prince Augustus William
led back from Zittau to his august brother, the great Frederick. You
would have acknowledged with delight that such discouraged, demoralized
troops could no longer withstand the splendid and victorious army of
the confederates. The battle of Collin dug their graves, and the pass of
Gabol made their coffins.”

“And the Saxon dragoons decided the battle of Collin?” said the queen,
with sparkling eyes. “Go on! tell me more. Did you speak with the king’s
chamberlain, Anderson?”

“Yes, your majesty, and I found him faithful. I gave him the diamond
ring which your majesty was so gracious as to send him. He was delighted
with this costly present, and swore he would let no opportunity pass of
serving you. I told him how he might safely write to me. He will
inform us of all that takes place in the Prussian camp, and of all the
important movements of the king.”

“You are convinced of his integrity?” said the queen. “Entirely
convinced; he loves money, and serves us for his own interests. He will
be ready for any act, if we balance it with gold.” The eyes of the
queen sparkled, and her countenance had a threatening and passionate
expression; her Spanish blood was moved, and rushed in fever streams to
her heart. “Is he ready for any act?” she repeated. “Perhaps we could
make a decisive trial of his willingness; but of that, later--continue.”

“I learned from Anderson, that King Frederick intends to force the
confederates to another battle. When I left the camp, the king had
distributed rations to his army, and was to leave the next morning,
to encounter Daun and Radasdy.” The queen laughed mockingly. “He then
thirsts for a second Collin. As his grave is open and his coffin made,
he wishes to get the Austrian grave-diggers to bury him. Well, we will
not deny him this last service of love.”

“After leaving the Prussian camp,” continued the chamberlain, “I threw
off my disguise, and hastened with post-horses to where Daun and Radasdy
were quartered.”

“And you saw them?”

“I saw them; I was fortunate enough to be able to deliver your majesty’s
letters to General Radasdy, and I can now give your highness the
general’s answer, and some other important papers.” He drew a small etui
from his bosom, out of which he took a penknife; then taking his hat,
ripped off the gold galloon, cut the rim, and drew a paper from between
the fur and the inner lining, which he handed to the queen, with a
profound bow. While the queen was occupied breaking the seal and reading
the letter, the chamberlain was busily engaged in restoring his hat to
its former proportions. The queen’s pale face brightened more and more
as she read; with joy and triumph she glanced from the paper at the
chamberlain, and said, with a brilliant smile: “You are really a
messenger of peace; a time will come when I can better reward your
faithful services than by words. I beg you to open that door, and call
Father Guarini.” The chamberlain obeyed her command, and Father Guarini
entered. He greeted Schonberg with a gracious nod, then fixed his dark
and piercing eyes upon the queen, who arose humbly to receive him. “I
hope, venerable father, that you have heard the news, brought by our
faithful baron?” said the queen, in a soft voice. “I have heard!”
 replied the Jesuit father, solemnly; “I have heard that God has
delivered these heretics into our hands. We are the chosen people to
free the world of these blasphemous adversaries of the Church.”

“What is your meaning?” asked the queen, with apparent surprise. Father
Guarini looked at her significantly; a cruel smile played upon his thin,
colorless lips. “My daughter, we understand each other fully,” said he,
in a soft, low voice; “soul speaks to soul in such a crisis as this.
When the baron handed you this letter, when he told you that the
chamberlain of the King of Prussia was faithful to our holy cause, ready
for any act you might approve, a door separated us; I could not look
upon your countenance, and yet, my daughter, I read the secret thoughts
of your heart. I saw your eyes sparkle, your lips smile, and understood
your holy purpose.” The queen trembled, and stepped shudderingly back.
“Holy father,” she murmured, “have compassion with a sinful thought,
which I suppressed quickly, and which I will never listen to again.”

“Why do you call it a sinful thought?” said the priest, with a
diabolical smile. “All weapons are blessed and made holy by God, when
employed against heretics. The poison of the hemlock and the opium-plant
is part of God’s holy creation. He made them as weapons for the
just against the unjust, and, when used for pious purposes, they are
sanctified means of grace. Be not ashamed of your great thought, my
daughter; if Anderson is faithful, as the chamberlain asserts, with
God’s help we will soon be able to bring this war to a close, and crush
this unbelieving horde.”

“Still, I pray you still, my father,” murmured the queen; “my whole soul
shudders at this frightful suggestion; let us not speak of this again,
let us forget it.”

“Let us not speak of it, but let us not forget it,” murmured the priest,
with a malicious smile. The queen said hastily: “Father, such fearful
weapons are not necessary for the destruction of our enemies. Frederick
of Prussia can never rally--he stands alone, has not a single ally in
Germany. This is the important news brought me by the baron, which I now
communicate to you. We have succeeded in a great enterprise; a mighty
work has been completed by us and our allies in the cloister of Zeven.
This has been achieved by our ambassador, the pious Duke of Lynar, and
we will triumph in a glittering and bloodless victory. Every German
prince who has heretofore stood by the traitor and heretic, Frederick of
Prussia, has, at the command and menace of the emperor, fallen off from
him, and dare no longer lend him help or influence. The men of Hesse, of
Brunswick, of Gotha, who were allied to Prussia, and who were just from
fighting with the Hanoverians against Soubise and Richelieu, have laid
down their arms and returned home. They have solemnly bound themselves
in the convention of the cloister of Zeven never again to bear arms for
the heretical and rebellious King of Prussia, who is excommunicated by
the German emperor and the holy Pope at Rome. The contest between the
Hanoverians and our French ally is ended, and a cessation of hostilities
determined upon. Unconditional peace is indeed indefinitely declared.
The Hanoverians remain inactive on the Elbe; the Duke of Cumberland,
leader of the English troops, has returned to Loudon, [Footnote: When
the Duke of Cumberland returned to Loudon, after the convention at the
cloister of Zeven, his father, whose favorite he had been up to
this time, received him with great coldness, and said before all his
ministers: “Here is my son who has ruined me and disgraced himself.” The
duke had to resign all his honors, and died a few years later, despised
by the whole nation.] and his adversary, the Duke de Richelieu, to
Paris. The French troops now in Germany, under the command of the Prince
Soubise, have no other enemy to attack than Frederick, the natural enemy
of us all. The King of Prussia, who stands alone, has no other ally.”

“No ally but himself,” interrupted a loud, powerful voice. The queen
turned and saw General von Fink, the Prussian commander of Dresden. He
had opened the door noiselessly, and had heard the queen’s last words.
Maria Josephine paled with anger, and stepping forward to meet him, with
head erect, she looked as if she would trample him under foot. “Sir,”
 she said, scarcely able to control her passion, and at the same time
trembling with terror, “who gave you permission to enter this room?”

“My sovereign, the King of Prussia,” said the general, placing
himself before her with stiff military courtesy. “I come not from idle
curiosity, but on important business, and your majesty must pardon me if
you find it disagreeable.”

He made a sign toward the door, and immediately an officer and four
soldiers appeared at the threshold. The commander pointed to the
chamberlain, Von Schonberg, who, pale and trembling, endeavored to
conceal himself behind the wide dress of the queen.

“Arrest that man, and take him off!” said the general.

Schonberg uttered a cry of alarm, and disappeared behind the satin robe
of the queen.

“What, sir! you dare to force yourself into my room, and to arrest my
servant?” cried the queen, angrily.

The general shrugged his shoulders.

“We are living in perilous times, and every man must defend himself
from his enemies. ‘Tis true your chamberlain sold some good sheep to
our army, but it appears to have been a fraudulent transaction; for this
reason, I arrest him, and send him to Berlin for trial. There it will
be difficult for him to carry on his correspondence with the traitorous
chamberlain of the king.”

The general ceased speaking, and gazing at the pale, disturbed group
before him, enjoyed their horror and consternation for a moment.

The queen was greatly embarrassed, and pressed her lips firmly together
to suppress a cry of terror. By her side stood Father Guarini, whose
face had assumed a livid pallor, and whose dark eyes were fixed in
bitter hatred upon the general. Behind the queen the terrified face
of the chamberlain was seen, his insignificant figure being entirely
concealed by the queen’s robes.

“Baron von Schonberg,” said General Fink, “I order you to come forward
and to submit to your arrest. Out of respect to her majesty the queen,
you will be quiet. I should be unfortunately forced to act with violence
if you do not yield without a struggle.”

The chamberlain advanced with dignity, bowing profoundly to the queen.
He said, in a trembling voice:

“I must beg your majesty graciously to dismiss me from your service. I
must obey this gentlemen, who, as it appears, is master in the castle.”

The queen was for a moment speechless; her voice was lost, and her eyes
were filled with tears. She said, after a long pause:

“Will you rob me of my faithful servant? You dragged Baroness Bruhl and
Countess Ogliva to Warsaw, and now you will deprive me of the services
of this tried and constant friend.”

“I obey the commands of my king,” said the general, “and I believe your
majesty must see the justice of this arrest. Had the baron been captured
in camp, he would have been shot at once as a spy. I arrest him here
and send him to Berlin, that he may defend himself against the charge of
being a traitor.”

The queen breathed heavily, she had regained her composure; turning to
the chamberlain she said, in a voice softer and kinder than had ever
been heard from her before:

“Go, my friend, and when your loyalty is called treason by out enemies,
do not forget that your queen is thinking of you with gratitude, and
praying for you to our heavenly Father.”

She offered the chamberlain her small, white hand; he sank upon his
knees, and covered it with his tears and kisses.

“Go, my son,” said Father Guarini, laying his hand upon Schonberg’s
head--“go; the Lord has chosen you as a blessed martyr for our just and
holy cause. The Lord will be with you, and the holy mother Church will
pray for you.”

“I go, my father--may it be granted me to die for my queen!”

Turning to the general, he delivered up his sword rather tragically, and
declared himself ready to depart.

The commandant signed to the officer.

“Conduct this gentleman to the carriage, and send him with a sufficient
guard to Berlin.”



CHAPTER XI. THE TE DEUM.


The queen looked sadly after the chamberlain; when he had disappeared,
she turned to the general.

“I now hope,” said she, “that you have fulfilled your orders, and that I
will be permitted to have my apartments to myself.”

“I beg your majesty’s pardon,” said the general, bowing respectfully,
“but as yet I have fulfilled but the smallest portion of my master’s
commands.”

“How? is there still some one here whom you wish to arrest?” said the
queen.

“No, noble lady, but some one I wish to warn!”

“You are, without doubt, speaking of me, general?” said the priest,
quietly.

“Yes, sir, of you. I wish to warn you not to occupy your pious thoughts
with that very worldly thing called politics, and to request you to
instruct the members of your Church in religion, in Christian love and
kindness, and not to lure them to murder and treachery.”

The priest shrugged his shoulders; a contemptuous smile played about his
small, thin lips.

“The words ‘religion and Christian love’ sound strangely in the mouth of
a Prussian warrior. I decline receiving any advice from you. I have
no fear of you or of your superiors! I am subject only to God and the
Pope!”

“That may be in your own country, but not in the King of Prussia’s,”
 answered General Fink, quietly. “There every one is subject to the law;
no title, no clerical gown protects the criminal. Two days ago, a spy
was discovered in the Prussian camp, who was a priest; he was hung like
any other spy, although at the last moment, hoping to save his life, he
exclaimed that he was a friend of Father Guarini, the court confessor.
His majesty the King of Prussia commissioned me to impart to you the
death of your friend.”

“From my heart I thank you for so doing,” said the priest. “I shall have
masses read for my friend, of whom you have made a martyr.”

The queen gazed at him with sparkling eyes. “Oh, my father,” said she,
“I thank you for your noble example; it shall enable me, in spite of
threats and insults, not to deny the holy cause and the friends who
have suffered for it. And now, general, I hope your commissions are
fulfilled, and that you will take your leave.”

“I hope your majesty will believe that I would not venture to remain,
were I not compelled by the commands of my king. I have to request
your majesty to listen while I read aloud some letters, some historical
documents, which may possibly interest your highness.”

“You can read,” said the queen. “As my ears do not belong to the King of
Prussia, it lies with me to listen or not, as I please.” She sank gently
upon the divan, signing to the priest to remain beside her.

“I flatter myself that I will have your majesty’s attention,” said the
general, withdrawing to the nearest window and opening a package of
letters. “The first relates to an extremely amusing occurrence, which my
master, knowing that France was your ally, imagined would interest you.
Your highness is aware that Prince Soubise is a brave soldier. This is
Madame Pompadour’s opinion; it must, therefore, be true. About a week
ago this brave prince determined to rest for a while from his heroic
deeds, and gave the same privilege to a large portion of his army. The
general, accompanied by his staff and eight thousand soldiers, then
entered that lovely little spot, called Gotha, to visit the talented and
princely duke and duchess. He and his staff were received by them with
great honor; magnificent preparations were forthwith made for a splendid
dinner to welcome the prince who, happily, was not only fond of laurels,
but also of good eating. Dinner was served, the French generals had
finished their toilets, Prince Soubise had given the duchess his arm to
lead her to her seat, when a loud cry of terror was heard from without,
‘The Prussians are at the gates!’ Prince Soubise dropped the arm of the
duchess; through the Paris rouge, so artistically put on, the paleness,
which now covered his face, could rot be seen. The doors leading to the
dining-saloon were thrown open, making visible the sparkling glass, the
smoking dishes, the rare service of gold and silver--, the generals of
the prince now hastened forward and confirmed the wild rumor. Yes;
and rumor, for once, was true. General Seidlitz was there with fifteen
hundred brave cavalrymen. The French are noted for their politeness, and
it did not fail them upon this occasion. Without a word, Prince Soubise
and his eight thousand men made room for General Seidlitz and his
fifteen hundred, and hastened from the ducal palace. Before the rich
dishes had time to cool, General Seidlitz and his staff were seated
at the table, enjoying the magnificent dinner prepared for the French
generals. Many prisoners, many spoils were taken afterward. Not that
Prince Soubise had not taken all his soldiers with him, but there was
another small army by which the French troops are always accompanied.
These, the lackeys, valets, cooks, hair-dressers, ballet-dancers,
actresses, priests, etc., etc., were not able to run as fast as the
French soldiers. The spoils consisted in the equipages of the prince and
his staff, in which were boxes and chests containing precious things,
their large chests full of delightful perfumes and hair-oils, trunks
full of wigs, dressing-gowns, and parasols. There were several learned
parrots who had a leaning to politics, and who exclaimed continually:
‘Vive les Franqais! A bas les Prussiens!’ But the kind-hearted General
Seidlitz did not wish to deprive the French army of the necessities
of life; he therefore sent them their valets, cooks, hair-dressers,
actresses, priests, etc. The perfumes and hair-oils he gave to his own
soldiers.”

“I trust you have finished,” said the queen, playing listlessly with her
fan.

“Ah, your majesty has then honored me by listening?” said General Fink,
smiling.

The queen preserved a dignified silence.

The general continued reading: “After long deliberation, Prince Soubise
concluded he had carried his politeness too far in vacating the ducal
palace to the Prussians; he determined, therefore, to go after his
perfumes, hair-oils, dressing-gowns, wigs, etc., etc., and drive the
Prussians from Gotha. Prince von Hildburghausen joined him with his
troops. Thus the French advanced to Gotha, secure and confident of
success. But to their terror they found before the city not two Prussian
regiments, as they had expected, but what seemed to them the entire
Prussian army arranged in line of battle, and in such large numbers
that for miles around the bills were covered, with them. This was so
unexpected to the French generals that they determined to retreat for
a while, until they had recovered from their surprise. They withdrew,
leaving the field to the Prussians. Had they not withdrawn so hastily,
they would soon have seen that the Prussian army consisted only of
fifteen hundred, which, thanks to General Seidlitz’s strategy, presented
a very imposing view. Thus Seidlitz gained the day without firing a
shot--not by the troops who were present, but by those who were supposed
to be present.”

“I have had enough of this,” said the queen, rising. “I am weary of
listening to your witty stories. The King of Prussia may triumph for a
while--he may jest over his lost battles--but the hour of his misfortune
is at hand. God, who is just--who thrusts the arrogant and haughty to
the ground--will also punish him, and give victory to the just cause.
The battle of Collin was for Frederick the Second the first proof of
God’s anger, and now with increasing strength His mighty arm will be
raised against him.”

“I am aware that these are your majesty’s sentiments,” said the general,
smiling; “and my master is as well informed. I think they were stated
in almost the same words in letters which your majesty wrote to the
Austrian general, Nadasky.”

The queen fell back upon her seat trembling, and a deep red suffused her
countenance. Even Father Guarini showed by the quivering of his lip and
his sudden paleness, that the conversation was now taking an agitating
turn.

“What do you know of my letters to Nadasky?” said the queen,
breathlessly. “Who says I have written to him?”

“Your own hand, gracious queen,” answered the general. “While the king,
my noble sovereign, was in Bernstadt, he was told that General Nadasky
was at Ostriz, and sent General von Werner after him. Nadasky fled, but
his baggage was captured, and amongst his letters this one from your
majesty was discovered.”

And he held up the letter in question before the queen, to convince her
of its authenticity.

Maria Josephine endeavored to tear it from him, but the general was too
quick for her.

“By command of my master, this letter is to be returned to you, but upon
one condition.”

“Well, what is it?” said the queen, faintly.

“I am to read to your majesty a few sentences from it, selected by the
King of Prussia himself.”

“And all my letters shall then be returned to me?”

“All, your majesty.”

“You can read,” said the queen, seating herself.

General Fink approached the window by which he had been standing before,
and looked out for a few moments. Some one, perhaps, had passed with
whom he was acquainted, for he bowed several times and raised his hand
as if he were beckoning. After this intermission, at which the queen
and her confessor had looked in amazement, he opened the letter and
commenced to read.

It was a demand from Queen Maria Josephine to the Austrian general to
do all in his power to ruin their common enemy. “If we are energetic,”
 continued the general, reading in a loud voice, “it will soon be done.
At the battle of Collin, God laid his mark upon Frederick; Prussia will
have no more victories; her arrogant ruler has sung his last Te Deum.”

At this moment the bells of the nearest church commenced their solemn
chimes, and from the fort behind the castle the thunder of cannon was
heard. The queen rose from her seat and rushed to the window.

“What is the meaning of this?” said she, breathlessly. “Why these bells?
Why this cannon? What--”

The renewed thunder of cannon drowned her words. She threw open the
window, and now all the church bells were joined in one harmonious
chant. From beneath the queen’s windows there arose a slow, solemn hymn,
and as if borne aloft by invisible spirits, the words “Te Deum laudamus”
 were heard by the queen. Her eyes sparkled. “For whom is this Te Deum?”
 said she, breathlessly.

“It is for my master,” said General Fink, solemnly--“for the King of
Prussia, who at Rossbach, with twenty thousand men, has gained a victory
over sixty thousand French soldiers.”

A cry of rage, and Maria Josephine fell fainting to the floor.



CHAPTER XII. CAMP SCENE


It was a cold winter day, and in the Prussian camp at Newmark every one
was occupied making fires.

“Let us get a great deal of wood,” said a sprightly-looking, slender
young soldier, to his comrades; “our limbs must not be stiff to-day. I
think to-morrow all will go off bravely, and we will prepare a strong
soup for the Austrians.”

“And instead of the noodles, we will send them cannon-balls,” said a
comrade, standing near him. “But see here, brother, as we are not going
to fight this evening, I think we should make use of the time and cook
a soup for ourselves. When we have wood enough for a good fire, we will
set the kettle over it, and the best of pastimes will be ready. Shall
we do it, comrades? Every man a groschen, and Charles Henry Buschman to
cook the noodles.”

“Yet, Buschman must cook the noodles; no one understands it so well
as he. Charles Henry Buschman! Where hides the fellow? He is generally
sticking to Fritz Kober, and they are chatting together as if they were
lovers. Buschman! Charles Henry Buschman! Where are you?”

“Here I am!” cried a bright, fresh voice, and a slender youth, belonging
to Prince Henry’s regiment, stepped forward and joined them. “Who calls
me?--what do you want?”

“We want you to cook noodles for us, Buschman; every man pays a
groschen, and eats to his heart’s content. You shall have them for
nothing, because you prepare them.”

“I will have nothing that I don’t pay for,” said Charles Henry, proudly;
“I can pay as well as the rest of you, and perhaps I have more money
than all of you; for while you are drinking, smoking, and playing, I put
my groschens aside for a rainy day.”

“Yes, that is true; Buschman is the most orderly, the most industrious
of us all,” said Fritz Kober, as he nodded lovingly to his young friend.
“He does not drink, or smoke, or play; and, I can tell you, he sews like
a woman. He mended a shirt for me to-day. A ball had passed through it
at Rossbach, making a hole in the left sleeve. I tell you, the shirt
looks as if a clever woman had mended it.”

“Well, it is a pity he isn’t one,” said one of the soldiers, with a
merry laugh; “perhaps you have a sister at home, Henry, whom you could
give to Kober.”

“No, comrade,” said Charles Henry, sadly; “I have neither father,
mother, sister, nor brother. I am alone in the world, and have no
other friend but my comrade, Fritz Kober. Will you not give him to me,
comrades? Will you tease him because he is the friend of a poor, young
fellow, against whom you have nothing to say except that he is just
seventeen years old and has no heard and his voice a little thin, not
able to make as much noise as yourself? Promise me that you will not
laugh at Fritz again because he is kind to, and loves a poor, forsaken
boy. If you tease him, he will become desperate and run off from me,
and then, when I fall in battle, he will not close my eyes as he has
promised to do.”

“I will never run away from you, darling brother,” said Fritz Kober. “We
two shall stay together in camp and in battle. You have won me with your
soft, black eyes: they remind me of those of my good, faithful Phylax.”

“Well, well, Fritz shall do as he pleases,” said one of the boys; “but
enough with our chatting, let us seek the wood for our fire.”

“Wood, wood, let us seek wood,” cried all, gayly, and the happy troop
separated on all sides. Only Charles Henry remained to prepare the fire.
With busy haste he took the kettle, which the soldiers had dragged near,
ran to the neighboring market and bought a groschen worth of lard to
make the noodles savory, then hastened back to cut the bacon and mix it
with the noodles. Some of the soldiers returned empty-handed--no wood
was to be found; the soldiers, who had searched before them, had taken
it all.

“It would be horrible not to have noodles this evening,” said Fritz
Kober, furiously. “Who knows but they may be the last we shall eat in
this world? The balls may take our heads off to-morrow, and we never
could eat Charles Henry’s noodles again.”

“What you can do to-day never put off until to-morrow,” cried one of the
soldiers. “We must eat noodles to-day, and we must have wood, even if
we have to steal it from the devil’s kitchen.” And, as he turned around,
his eye fell upon a little hut which stood on the other side of the
camp. “Boys.” he cried, gleefully, “do you see that hut?”

“Certainly; that hut is the king’s quarters.”

“I am willing the king should occupy the hut; but it is covered with
wood, and he does not need that. Come, boys, we will have wood to cook
our noodles.”

With a hurrah they started forward to the old forsaken shepherd’s hut
in which the king had taken refuge. They climbed the rook as nimbly
as cats, and now the old boards cracked and groaned and flew in every
direction, and were received with shouts of joy by the surrounding
soldiers. Suddenly a guard officer stepped from the hut, and saw with
horror its destruction; he ordered the soldiers to lay the boards as
they had found them, and to go off at once. The soldiers mocked at him,
and continued at their work quietly.

“We are going to eat noodles,” they said, “common noodles, of meal and
lard, that we may have the courage to swallow iron noodles to-morrow. To
cook noodles, we need wood. We find it here, and we shall take it.”

“What!” cried the officer, “I forbid it, and you refuse to
obey?--Sentinels, forward!”

The four guards, who, until now, had walked quietly to and fro before
the hut, placed themselves at the door and shouldered arms.

“Fire at the first one who dares to touch another piece of wood,”
 commanded the officer. But the wanton soldiers paid no attention to this
order; they regarded it as an empty threat.

“Fire,” cried one, laughing, “fire is just what we want--without fire,
no noodles; and to make fire we must have wood.”

“Whew! I have a big splinter in my finger,” cried another soldier, who
was on the roof, and had just broken off a plank; “I must draw it out
and put it back, mustn’t I, lieutenant?”

At this question the gay group broke into a loud laugh; but it was
interrupted by the angry words of the officer.

Suddenly a mild voice asked: “What is the matter?” At the first sound
of this voice the soldiers seemed dismayed; they stopped their work, and
their merry faces became earnest and thoughtful. Stiff and motionless
they remained on the roof awaiting their punishment; they knew that
voice only too well, they had heard it in the thunder of battle. The
king repeated his question. The officer approached him.

“Sire, these dragoons are tearing the roof from your majesty’s quarters,
all my threats are useless; therefore I ordered the sentinels forward.”

“What do you want with the sentinels?” asked the king.

“To fire amongst them, if they do not desist.”

“Have you tried kindness?” said the king, sternly; “do you think, on the
day before a battle, I have soldiers to spare, and you may shoot them
down because of a piece of wood?”

The officer murmured a few confused words; but the king paid no
attention to him; he looked up at the soldiers sitting stiff and
motionless upon the roof.

“Listen, dragoons,” said the king; “if you take off my roof, the snow
will fall in my bed to-night, and you do not wish that, do you?”

“No, we do not wish it, sire,” said Fritz Kober, ashamed, slipping
softly from the roof; the others followed his example, and prepared to
be off, giving melancholy glances at the wood lying on the ground.
The king looked thoughtfully after them, and murmured, softly, “Poor
fellows, I have deprived them of a pleasure.--Halloo, dragoons,” he
cried aloud, “listen!”

The soldiers looked back, frightened and trembling.

“Tell me,” said the king, “what use were you going to make of the wood?”

“Cook noodles, sire,” said Fritz Kober; “Henry Buschman promised to cook
noodles for us, and the bacon is already cut; but we have no wood.”

“Well, if the bacon is cut,” said the king, smiling, “and if Henry
Buschman has promised to make the noodles, he must certainly keep his
word; take the wood away with you.”

“Hurrah! long life to our king and to our good Fritz Kober,” cried the
soldiers, and, collecting the wood, they hastened away.

The king stepped back, silently, into the small, low room of the hut.
Alone, there once more the smile disappeared, and his countenance became
sad and anxious. He confessed to himself what he had never admitted to
friend or confidant, that it was a daring and most dangerous undertaking
to meet the Austrian army of seventy thousand with his thirty-three
thousand men.

“And should I fail,” said the king, thoughtfully, “and lead these brave
troops to their death without benefit to my country--should they die an
unknown death--should we be conquered, instead of conquering! Oh,
the fortune of battles lies in the hands of Providence; the wisest
disposition of troops, the most acute calculations are brought to naught
by seeming accident. Should I expose my army to the fearful odds, should
I hazard so many lives to gratify my ambition and my pride? My generals
say it will be wiser not to attack, but to wait and be attacked. Oh,
Winterfeldt, Winterfeldt, were you but here, you would not advise this,
not you! Why have you been taken from me, my friend? Why have you left
me alone among my enemies? I can find, perhaps, resources against my
enemies, but I will never find another Winterfeldt.” [Footnote: The
king’s own words.--Retzow, vol. i.. p. 220.] The king leaned his head
upon his breast, and tears rolled down his cheeks.

“How solitary, how joyless life is! how rich I was once in friends, how
poor I am now! and who knows how much poorer I may be to-morrow at this
hour--who knows if I shall have a place to lay my head?--I may be
a fugitive, without home or country. Verily, I have the destiny of
Mithridates--I want only two sons and a Monima. Well,” continued he,
with a soft smile, “it is still something to stand alone--misfortunes
only strike home. But do I stand alone? have I not an entire people
looking to me and expecting me to do my duty? Have I not brave soldiers,
who call me father, looking death courageously in the face and hazarding
their lives for me? No, I am not alone--and if Mithridates had two sons,
I have thirty-three thousand. I will go and bid them good-evening. I
think it will refresh my sad heart to hear their cheerful greetings.”

The king threw on his mantle and left his quarters, to make, as he was
often accustomed to do, a tour through the camp. Only the officer on
guard followed him, at a short distance.

It was now dark, and fires, which were lighted everywhere, gave a little
protection against the biting cold. It was a beautiful sight--the wide
plain, with its numberless, blazing, flickering fires, surrounded by
groups of cheerful soldiers, their fresh faces glowing with the light of
the flames. In the distance the moon rose grand and full, illuminating
the scene with its silver rays, and blending its pale shimmer with the
ruddy flames.

The king walked briskly through the camp, and, when recognized, the
soldiers greeted him with shouts and loving words. As he approached a
large fire, over which hung a big kettle, the contents of which filled
the air with savory odors, he heard a brisk voice say:

“Now, comrades, come and eat, the noodles are done!”

“Hurrah! here we are,” cried the boys, who were standing not far off,
chatting merrily. They sprang forward joyfully, to eat the longed--for
noodles.

The king, recognizing the soldiers who had uncovered his roof, drew near
to the fire.

“Shall I also come and eat with you?” he said, good-humoredly.

The soldiers looked up from the tin plates, in which the noodles were
swimming.

“Yes, sire,” said Fritz Kober, jumping up and approaching the king;
“yes, you shall eat with us; here is my spoon and knife, and if you
reject it, and are only mocking us, I shall be very angry indeed.”

The king laughed, and turning to the officer who had followed him, said
as if to excuse himself:

“I must really eat, or I shall make the man furious.--Give me your
spoon; but listen, I can tell you, if the noodles are not good, I shall
be angry.” He took the plate and began to eat.

The soldiers all stopped, and looked eagerly at the king. When he had
swallowed the first bite, Fritz Kober could no longer restrain his
curiosity.

“Well, sire,” he said, triumphantly, “what do you say to it! Can’t
Buschman prepare better noodles than your cleverest cook?”

“Verily,” said the king, smiling, “he never cooked such noodles for me,
and I must say they are good, but, now I have had enough, and I am much
obliged to you.”

He wished to return his plate to Fritz Kober, but Fritz shook his head
violently.

“See here, your majesty, no one gets off from us with just a ‘thank
you,’ and you, least of all, sire; every one must pay his part.”

“Well,” said the king, “how much is my share?”

“It cost each of us three groschen; the king may pay what he pleases.”

“Will you credit me, dragoon?” said the king, who searched his pockets
in vain for money.

“Oh! yes, your majesty, I will credit you, but only until tomorrow
morning, early; for, if a cannon-ball took my head off, I could not dun
your majesty, and you would be my debtor to all eternity.”

“It would then be better to settle our accounts to-day,” said the king,
and nodding to the soldiers, he left them.



CHAPTER XIII. THE WATCH-FIRE.


The officer who had accompanied the king, returned in an hour to the
watch-fire of the dragoons, and handed five gold pieces to Fritz Kober,
which had been sent by the king to pay for his portion of the noodles;
then, without giving the surprised soldier time to thank him, he
withdrew.

Fritz looked long and thoughtfully at the gold pieces, which, in the
light of the flickering fire, shone beautifully in his hand.

“It is very well--very well that the king kept his word, and paid me
punctually to-night,” said he to Charles Henry Buschman, who sat near,
and with his elbow resting on his knee, watched his friend closely.

“And why so, Fritz?” said Charles.

“I will tell you, Charles Henry. If I fall to-morrow, I will have
something in my pocket that you will inherit from me. I declare to you,
no one but you alone shall be my heir; all that I have belongs to
you. Thunder and lightning! I am rich! it is better I should make my
testament; I don’t know what may happen to me to-morrow. I have neither
pen nor paper; well, I will make it verbally! I will wake some of my
comrades, and they shall witness my last will and testament.” He reached
over to the sleeping soldiers, who lay near him on the ground, but
Charles held him back.

“Let them sleep, friend,” said he, pleadingly; “it is not necessary you
should have witnesses. God, and the moon, and a thousand stars hear
what we say to each other; and why speak of your will and your fortune,
friend? Do you think I would care for that miserable gold, if you were
no longer by my side? Do you think I would use it for any other purpose
than to buy your tombstone, and write on it in golden letters?”

“What? a tombstone!” said Fritz Kober, with an astonished look; “and
why would you place a tombstone over a poor, simple, unknown fellow
like myself, Charles Henry? Many gallant generals and officers fall in
battle; the earth drinks their blood, and no one knows where they lie.
And with golden letters, did you say, Charles? Well, I am curious to
know what you would place upon my tombstone.”

“I will tell you, Fritz. I will write on your tombstone--‘Here lies
Fritz Kober; the most faithful friend, the best soul, the most honest
heart; good and simple as a child, brave as a hero, constant as a dove,
and true as a hound.’”

“But am I all that?” said Fritz, amazed.

“Yes, you are all that!” said Charles, with a trembling voice. “You have
been more than this to me, and I will never forget it. I was a poor,
shrinking youth when I came to this camp; I knew nothing--could do
nothing. My comrades, who soon found me out, mocked and complained of
me, and played all manner of jokes upon me. They ridiculed me, because I
had no beard; they mimicked me, because my voice was soft and unsteady;
they asserted that I would make a miserable soldier, because I
grew deadly pale at parade. Who was it took pity on me, and opposed
themselves to my rude, unfeeling companions? Who scolded and threatened
to strike them, if they did not allow me to go my own way, in peace
and quiet? Who was patient with my stupidity, and taught me how to go
through with my military duties creditably, and how to manage my horse?
You! you, dear Fritz! you alone. You were always at my side, when others
threatened. You were patient as a mother when she teaches her dear
little boy his letters, and looks kindly upon him, and is good to him,
even when he is dull and inattentive.”

“Well,” said Fritz Kober, thoughtfully, “one can do nothing better than
to be good to a man who deserves it, and who is himself so kind, and
pure, and brave, that a poor fellow like myself feels ashamed, and looks
down when the soft eyes are fixed upon him. I tell you what, Charles
Henry, there is a power in your eyes, and they have subdued me. I think
the angels in heaven have just such eyes as yours, and when you look
upon me so softly and kindly, my heart bounds with delight. I have
dreamed of your eyes, Charles Henry; I have blushed in my sleep when
I thought I had uttered a coarse curse, and you looked upon me
sorrowfully. I know you cannot endure cursing, or drink, or even
tobacco.”

“My father was a poor schoolmaster,” said Charles Henry; “we lived
quietly together, and he could not bear cursing. He used to say, ‘When
men cursed, it hurt God like the toothache.’ He said--‘God had not made
the corn to grow, that men might make brandy, but bread.’ We were too
poor to buy beer and wine, so we drank water, and were content.”

“Your father was right,” said Fritz, thoughtfully. “I believe, myself,
corn was not intended to make brandy, and I don’t care for it; I will
give it up altogether. If we live through this war, and receive good
bounty money, we will buy a few acres, and build us a little house,
and live together, and cultivate our land, and plant corn; and, in the
evening, when our work is done, we will sit on the bench before the
door, and you will relate some of your beautiful little stories; and so
we will live on together till we are old and die.”

“But you have forgotten one thing, Fritz.”

“What is that, Charles Henry?”

“You have forgotten that you will take a wife into your little house,
and she will soon cast me out.”

“Let her try it!” cried Fritz, enraged, and doubling his flat
threateningly. “Let her try only to show the door to Charles Henry, and
I will shut her out, and she shall never return--never! But,” said he,
softly, “it is not necessary to think of this; I will never take a wife.
We will live together; we need no third person to make strife between
us.”

Charles said nothing. He looked smilingly into the glowing fire, and
then at his comrade, with an amused but tender expression.

If Fritz had seen it, his heart would have bounded again, but he was too
much occupied then with his own thoughts to look up.

“Listen, Charles. If nothing comes of our little piece of ground and our
house--if my last ball comes to-morrow and carries me off--”

“Stop, stop, Fritz; I will hold my head so that the same ball will carry
it off!”

“If you do that, I will be very angry with you,” cried Fritz. “You are
too young to die, and I will be glad even in my grave to know that you
are walking on the green earth. In order to do well, you must have gold;
therefore you must be my heir. If I fall, these beautiful gold pieces
belong to you; you shall not put a tombstone over me. Buy yourself a few
acres, Charles Henry, and when your corn grows and blossoms, that shall
be my monument.”

Charles took his hand, and his eyes were filled with tears. “Speak no
more of death,” said he, softly; “it makes my heart heavy, and I shall
lose my courage in the battle to-morrow when I think of all you have
said. Ugh! how cold it is! My soul feels frosted!”

“I will go and seek a little more wood,” said Fritz, springing up, “and
make a good fire, and then you shall be warmed.”

He hurried off, and Charles remained alone by the tire, looking gravely
on the glowing coals; he smiled from time to time, and then he breathed
heavily, as if oppressed by some weighty secret. Suddenly he heard a
voice behind him.

“Ah! I have found the fire again! Good-evening, children.”

“Good-evening, sir king. Comrades, wake up; the king is here!”

“No, no; let your comrades sleep,” said the king, softly. “The fire will
do me good. I found the right path to the fire, as I said Your dragoons
have uncovered my quarters, and the cold blasts of wind whistle through
them and freeze the water in my room. I prefer to sit by the fire and
warm myself.” He was about to seat himself on the straw near the fire,
when a harsh voice called out:

“March on!--every lazy scamp wants a place by the fire, but not one of
them brings a splinter of wood.”

Fritz Kober was behind them with the wood; he had found it with great
difficulty, and he was angry when he saw a strange soldier in his place
by the side of Charles Henry.

The king turned to him quietly.

“You are right, my son!--come on! I will make room for you.”

“It is the king!” exclaimed Fritz, turning as if to fly. But the king
held him.

“Remain where you are, my son; you brought the wood, and you have the
best right. I only wish to warm myself a little, and I think there is
room for us all.”

He seated himself upon the straw, and nodded to Fritz Kober to take a
seat by him. Fritz tremblingly obeyed, and Charles stirred the fire,
which flamed up beautifully.

King Frederick gazed at the flickering flames. Charles and Fritz sat
on each side of him, and watched him in respectful silence; around the
watch-fire lay the sleeping dragoons. After a long pause the king raised
his head and looked about him.

“Well, children, to-morrow will be a hot day, and we must strike the
Austrians boldly.”

“Yes, as we struck the French at Rossbach, your majesty,” said Fritz.
“Mark me! it will go off bravely, and when we are done with the
Austrians we will march to Constantinople.”

“What will we do in Constantinople?” said the king.

“Nothing, your majesty, but march there with you, whip the Turks, and
take all their gold!”

“Not quite so fast, my son.”

“Why not, sir king? We have chopped up the French army; to-morrow we
will do the same for the Austrians; and then, why not whip the Turks?”

The king smiled, and said: “Well, well, but first we must give the
Austrians a good drubbing.”

“And, by my soul, we will do that,” said Fritz, eagerly. “Your majesty
may believe me--I will march with you to the end of the earth, and so
will my friend Charles Buschman. If we have only a little to eat, we
will find water everywhere; so lead us where you will!”

The king’s eyes flashed: “By heaven! it is a pleasure to lead such
soldiers to battle!” Then turning, with a kindly expression, to Fritz
Kober, he said: “Can you write?”

“Not well, your majesty; but Charles Henry Buschman can write much
better than I. He is a scholar.”

“Is that true?” said the king, gayly, to Charles.

“He will say ‘No,’ sir king; he cannot bear to be praised. But the truth
remains, the truth even when denied--Charles is the bravest and wisest
soldier in the army, and if there is justice in the world he will be
made an officer.”

“You must get your commission first, Fritz,” said Charles,
indifferently; “you earned it long ago, and if the king only knew all
that you did at Rossbach, you would have it now.”

“What did he do?” said the king.

“Nothing, your majesty,” said Fritz.

“Yes, your majesty,” said Charles, zealously; “he hewed right and left
until the sparks flew in every direction. Our commander had told us the
disgusting Frenchmen wanted to take our winter quarters, and even
when Fritz Kober’s sword was still whizzing among them, they had the
insolence to cry out, ‘Quartier! quartier!’--then was Fritz enraged, and
cut them down like corn-stalks, and cried out, ‘Yes, yes! I will give
you quarters, but they will be underground!’”

“Only think,” said Fritz, “they were flying before us, and the impudent
scamps, when we captured them, would still twit us with the winter
quarters they had intended to rob us of. How could I help cutting them
to pieces?”

“But he spared those who cried ‘Pardon,’ your majesty,” said Charles
Henry, “he only took them prisoners. Nine prisoners did Fritz Kober take
at Rossbach.” [Footnote: The Prussians had been told that the Frenchmen
intended to take possession of their winter quarters, and this enraged
them greatly. When the French cavalry were flying at Rossbach, they used
the German word quartier, thinking they would be better understood.
The Prussians looked upon this as an insolent jest, and gave no
quarter.--Nicolai’s Characteristics and Anecdotes ] “I suppose the five
prisoners you took were men of straw, that you say nothing of them,”
 cried Fritz.

The king looked well pleased from one to the other.

“It appears to me you are both brave soldiers, and the braver be cause
you do not boast of your deeds. Are you always such good friends as to
seek to do each other kindly service?”

“Your majesty, Charles Henry is my truest friend, and if you wish to do
me a service, make him an officer.”

“But he says he will not be made an officer unless you are made one, so
there is nothing left for me to do but to promote both! If in the battle
to-morrow you fight like heroes, you shall both be made officers. Now,
children, be quiet, let me rest a little. I do not want to sleep--cannot
you tell me some little story, some pretty little fairy tale to keep my
heavy eyes from closing?”

“Charles knows many fairy tales, sir king, and if you command it he must
relate one.”

“Oh, yes, your majesty, I know the history of a fairy who knew and
loved the brave son of a king, and when the prince went into battle she
transformed herself into a sword, that she might be always by the side
of him she loved.”

“Tell me this pretty story, my son.”

Charles Henry began to relate. Deep silence reigned about the camp. Here
and there a word was spoken in sleep, a loud snore, or the neighing of a
horse. The fires were burned down, and the coals glowed like fire-flies
upon the dark ground.

The moon stood over the camp and illuminated the strange and
parti-colored scene with her soft rays, and called out the most
wonderful contrasts of light and shade. Far, far away, in the dim
distance, one blood-red point could be seen; it looked like a crimson
star in the east. This was the camp-fire of the Austrians. This mighty
army was encamped behind Leuthen. The king gazed in that direction with
eager expectation, and listened with painful attention to every distant
sound.

The silence of death reigned there; no sound or voice was heard. The
king, being convinced of this, sank back once more upon the straw, and
listened to Charles Henry Buschman.

It was indeed a beautiful fairy tale; so wild and so fantastic that
Fritz listened with eyes extended and almost breathless to every word.
At last, as the handsome prince was drawing his last breath, the lovely
fairy sprang from his sword and brought the dead to life with her warm
kisses, Fritz was in an ecstasy of excitement, and interrupted Charles
by an outcry of rapture.

“This is a true story, sir king!” cried he, passionately; “every word is
true, and he who don’t believe it is a puppy!”

“Well, well,” said the king, “I believe every word, friend.”

Charles Henry went on with his fairy tales; but, notwithstanding the
wonders he related, sleep at last overcame his friend! Fritz’s eyes
closed, but he murmured in his sleep: “It is all true--all true!”

Charles Henry himself, wearied by the exertions of the last few days,
felt his eyelids to be as heavy as lead, his words came slowly, then
ceased altogether.

The king looked at his slumbering soldiers, then far away toward the
watch-fires of the Austrian camp.

Silence still reigned. The moon showed distant objects in the clearest
light, and nothing suspicious or alarming could be seen. “It was false
intelligence which was brought to me,” said the king. “It is not true
that the Austrians are on the march and intend to surprise me. They
sleep!--we will not see them till tomorrow. I will withdraw to my
quarters.”

King Frederick stepped slowly through the ranks of the sleepers, and
gave a sign to the officer and the four soldiers who had accompanied
him, but remained at a distance from the fire, to move lightly and
awaken no one.



CHAPTER XIV. THE BATTLE OF LEUTHEN.


Early the next morning the king left his tent. The generals were
anxiously awaiting him. His countenance glowed with energy and
determination, and his brilliant eyes flashed with a sparkling light.
Inspired by the appearance of their hero, the clouded brows of the
assembled generals became clearer. They felt that his lofty brow was
illumined by genius, and that the laurels which crowned it could never
fade. They were now confident, courageous, ready for the battle, and,
although they had at first disapproved of the king’s plan of attacking
the enemy who had twice overcome them, now that he was in their midst
they felt secure of success.

Spies reported that the Austrian army had left their camp at sunrise and
advanced toward Leuthen; they spoke much and loudly of the strength of
the enemy, and of the eagerness of the soldiers to fall upon the weak
Prussian army.

At a sign from the king, Seidlitz approached him, and informed him of
the latest rumors.

“It is a fearful army we are to attack,” said Seidlitz; “more than twice
our number.”

“I am aware of the strength of the enemy,” said the king, quietly, “but
nothing is left for me but victory or death. Were they stationed upon
the church-tower of Breslau I would attack them.”

Then approaching the other generals, he continued in a loud voice:

“You are aware, gentlemen, that Prince Charles, of Lothringen, succeeded
in taking Schweidnitz, defeating the Duke of Bevern, and has made
himself master of Breslau, while I was protecting Berlin from the French
army. The capital of Silesia, and all the munitions of war stowed there,
have been lost. All these circumstances are calculated to distress
me deeply, had I not a boundless confidence in your courage, your
resolution, and your devoted love to your country. There is, I think,
not one among us who has not been distinguished for some great, some
noble deed. I feel assured that your courage will not now fail in this
hour of direst need. I would feel as if I had accomplished nothing
were I to leave Silesia in the possession of the Austrians. Against all
acknowledged rules of war, I am determined to attack the army of
Charles of Lothringen, though it is three times as strong as my own.
Notwithstanding the number of the enemy, or its advantageous position,
I feel confident of success. This step must be taken, or all is lost! We
must defeat the Austrians, or fall beneath their batteries! This is
my opinion, and thus I shall act. Make my determination known to
every officer. Acquaint the soldiers with the events that will soon
occur--tell them that I require unconditional obedience! Remember that
you are Prussians!--do not show yourselves unworthy of the name! But
should there be any among you who fear to share these dangers with us,
they can leave at once, and shall not be reproached by me.”

The king ceased speaking, and looked inquiringly at his listeners. Upon
every countenance he read determination, courage, and inspiration, but
here and there were some whose brows became clouded at the king’s last
suggestion, and tears were sparkling in old General Rohr’s eyes. The
king pressed the general’s hand almost tenderly.

“Ah, my dear friend,” said he, “I did not suspect you. But I again say,
that if any amongst you wishes leave of absence, he shall have it.”

Profound quiet followed these words. No one approached the king--no
sound disturbed the solemn stillness. At a distance, the loud shouts
and hurrahs of the soldiers, preparing for battle, could be heard. The
king’s countenance became clear, and he continued with enthusiasm:

“I knew beforehand that none of you would leave me. I counted upon
your assistance; with it, I shall be victorious. Should I fall in this
battle, you must look to your country for reward; and now, away to
the camp, and repeat to your men what I have said to you. Farewell,
gentlemen, before long we will either have defeated the enemy, or we
will see one another no more.”

And now there arose from the generals and officers loud, joyous shouts.

“We will conquer or die!” cried Seidlitz, whose daring, youthful
countenance sparkled with delight. “We will conquer or die!” was
repeated by all.

At last the brave words reached the camp, and were re-echoed by thirty
thousand lusty throats. There was universal joy. Old gray-headed
warriors, who had followed the king into many battles, who had conquered
repeatedly with him, shook hands with and encouraged each other, and
warned the younger soldiers to be brave and fearless.

Resting upon his horse, the king had been a joyful witness to all this
enthusiasm. At this moment, a troop of soldiers, numbering about fifty,
approached him. The commanding officer was greeted with a kindly smile.

“You are Lieutenant von Frankenberg?” said the king. And as the
lieutenant bowed in answer, he continued: “General Kleist has spoken of
you as being a brave and trustworthy officer. I have therefore a strange
commission for you. Listen well! do not lose a word of what I say. Come
nearer. And now,” said the king, in a low voice, “be attentive. In the
approaching battle, I will have to expose myself more than usual;
you and your fifty men shall guard me. You must watch over me, and be
careful that I fall not into the hands of the enemy. Should I fall,
cover my body with your mantle, and carry me to the wagon, which shall
be stationed behind the first battalion. Leave me there, and tell no
one of what has occurred. The battle must continue--the enemy must be
defeated.”

When the king had thus made his testament, he dismissed the lieutenant,
and advanced toward his body-guard.

“Good-morning!” cried the king, cheerfully.

“Good-morning, father!” was the universal answer. Then the old
graybeards, standing beside the king, said again:

“Good-morning, father! it is very cold to-day.”

“It will be warm enough before the day is over, boys!” said the king.
“There is much to be done. Be brave, my children, and I will care for
you as a father.”

An old soldier, with silver hair, and the scars of many wounds upon his
face, approached the king.

“Your majesty,” said he, in an earnest voice, “if we are crippled what
will become of us?”

“You shall be taken care of,” said the king.

“Will your majesty give me your hand upon this promise?”

This question was followed by deep silence. All present were gazing
anxiously at the king and the old guard. The king advanced, and laid his
hand in that of the old soldier.

“I swear, that any of you who are crippled, shall be taken care of.”

The old warrior turned with tearful eyes to his comrades.

“Well,” said he, “you hear him? he is and will continue to be the King
of Prussia and our father. The one who deserts is a rascal.”

“Long live our Fritz!” and throughout the whole camp resounded the
cry--“Long live our Fritz! Long live our king!”

“Onward! onward!” was the cry, for at the end of the plain the enemy
could be seen approaching.

“Forward!” cried the soldiers, falling one by one into their places, as
the king, followed by Lieutenant Frankenberg and his men, galloped past
them.

A turn in the road showed the Prussians the enormous size of the enemy’s
army. Silence prevailed for a few moments. Suddenly, here and there a
voice could be heard singing a battle-hymn, and soon, accompanied by the
band, the whole army was breathing out in song an earnest prayer to God.

A guard, approaching the king, said:

“Is it your majesty’s desire that the soldiers should cease singing?”

The king shook his head angrily.

“No!” said he, “let them alone. With such an army, God can but give me
victory.”

Nearer and nearer came the enemy, covering the plain with their numbers,
and gazing with amazement at the little army that dared to oppose them.
By the Austrian generals, smiling so contemptuously upon their weak
opponents, one thing had been forgotten. The Austrians, confident of
success, were not in the least enthusiastic; the Prussians, aware of
their danger, and inspired by love for their king, had nerved themselves
to the contest. The armies now stood before each other in battle array.
The king was at the front, the generals were flying here and there,
delivering their orders. In obedience to these orders, the army suddenly
changed its position, and so strange, so unsuspected was the change,
that General Daun, turning to the Prince Lothringen, said:

“The Prussians are retreating! we will not attack them.”

Certain of this fact, they were off their guard, and disorder reigned in
their camp. This security was suddenly changed to terror. They saw the
Prussians rapidly approaching, threatening at once both wings of their
army. Messenger upon messenger was sent, imploring help from General
Daun and Charles of Lothringen. The Prussians were upon them, felling
them to the earth, regardless of danger regardless of the numerous
cannon which were playing upon them. Daun, with a part of his command,
hurried to the aid of General Luchesi, but he was too late; Luchesi
had fallen, and terror and disorder were rapidly spreading in the
right wing, while from the left, Nadasky had already dispatched ten
messengers, imploring assistance from Charles of Lothringen. In doubt
as to which most needed help, he at last determined upon the right wing,
whose ranks were thinning rapidly; he sent them aid, and took no notice
of Nadasky’s messengers. And now the Prussians fell upon the left wing
of the Austrians. This attack was made with fury, and the Austrians
retreated in wild disorder. It was in vain that other regiments came
to their aid; they had no time to arrange themselves before they were
forced back. They stumbled upon one another, the flying overtaking
and trampling upon the flying. Again and again the imperial guards
endeavored to place themselves in line of battle; they were at once
overpowered by the Prussian cavalry, who, intoxicated with victory,
threw themselves upon them with demoniac strength. Yes, intoxicated--mad
with victory, were these Prussians. With perfect indifference they saw
their friends, their comrades, fall beside them; they did not mourn over
them, but revenged their death tenfold upon the enemy. Those even who
fell were inspired by enthusiasm and courage. Forgetful of their wounds,
of their torn and broken limbs, they gazed with joy and pride at their
comrades, joining in their shouts and hurrahs, until death sealed their
lips.

A Prussian grenadier, whose left leg had been shot off in the early
part of the battle, raised himself from the ground: using his gun as
a crutch, he dragged himself to a spot which the army had to pass, and
cried to the comrades who were looking pityingly upon his bleeding limb:
“Fight like brave Prussians, brothers! Conquer or die for your king!”

Another grenadier, who had lost both legs, lay upon the ground weltering
in his blood, quietly smoking his pipe. An Austrian general galloping
by held in his horse and looked in amazement at the soldier. “How is
it possible, comrade,” said he, “that in your fearful condition you can
smoke? Death is near to you.”

Taking the pipe from his mouth, the grenadier answered with white,
trembling lips: “Well, and what of it? Do I not die for my king?”

Where the danger was the greatest, there was the king encouraging his
soldiers. When a column was seen to reel, there was Frederick in their
midst inspiring new courage by his presence. The king was the soul of
his army, and as his soul was sans peur et sans reproche, the army was
victorious. Napoleon, speaking of this battle, says: “Cette bataille de
Leuthen est propre a immortaliser le caractere moral de Frederic, et
met a jour ses grands talents militaires.” And somewhat later, he says:
“Cette bataille etait un chef d’oeuvre de mouvements, de manoeuvres, et
de resolution, seul elle suffirait pour immortaliser Frederic, et lui
donne un rang parmi les plus grands generaux!”

The victory was gained. The defeated Austrians fled in haste, leaving a
hundred cannon, fifty banners, and more than twenty thousand prisoners
in the hands of the Prussians; while upon the battle-field six thousand
of their dead and wounded were lying, with but two thousand dead
and wounded Prussians. The victory belonged to Prussia. They had all
distinguished themselves; the king and every common soldier had done
his duty. Frederick, accompanied by his staff, to which Lieutenant
Frankenberg and his fifty men did not now belong, passed the bloody,
smoking battle-field. His countenance was sparkling with joy--his eyes
shone like stars. He seemed looking for some one to whom to open his
grateful heart.

He who had given most assistance in the battle was Prince Moritz von
Dessau, whom at the battle of Collin the king had threatened with his
sword, and with whom he had ever since been angry because his prophecy
proved true. But there was no anger now in the king’s heart; and as he
had, in the presence of all his staff, threatened the prince, he wished
also in their presence to thank and reward him. The prince was at a
slight distance from him, so busily engaged in giving orders that he did
not perceive the king until he was quite close to him.

“I congratulate you upon this victory,” said the king, in a loud
voice--“I congratulate you, field-marshal.”

The prince bowed in a silent, absent manner, and continued to give his
orders.

The king, raising his voice, said: “Do you not hear, field-marshal? I
congratulate you!”

The prince looked hastily at the king. “How? Your majesty,” said he,
doubtfully, “has appointed me--”

“My field-marshal,” said the king, interrupting him. “And well have you
deserved this promotion; you have assisted me in this battle as I have
never before been assisted.” He grasped the prince’s hand and pressed
it tenderly, and there were tears of emotion not only in the eyes of the
new field-marshal, but also in those of the king.

A fearful day’s work was finished--how fearful, could be seen by the
wounded, the dying lying pell-mell upon the battle-field amidst the
dead, too exhausted to move. But the day had passed. The cries
and shouts of the flying enemy had now ceased--the victory, the
battle-field, belonged to the Prussians. What was now most needed by
them was an hour’s rest. Above the bloody battle-field, above the dying,
the sleeping, the groaning, the sighing, now rose the moon grandly,
solemnly, as if to console the dead and to lead the living to raise
their grateful prayers to heaven. And grateful praise ascended above
that night--thanks for the preservation of their own and their friends’
lives--thanks for their hero’s victory. Side by side, whispering in low
tones, lay the soldiers--for the hour seemed to all too solemn to be
broken by any loud sound.

No hearts were so full of gratitude and joy as those of Charles Henry
Buschman and Fritz Kober. In the pressure of the battle they had been
separated and had not again met during the engagement. In vain they had
sought and called upon one another, and each one thought of the fearful
possibility that the other had fallen. At last they stumbled upon each
other. With shouts of joy they rushed into each other’s arms.

“You are not wounded, Fritz Kober?” said Charles Henry, with a beating
heart.

“I am unharmed; but you, my friend?”

“Only a little cut in the hand, nothing more. How many prisoners did you
take?”

“Seven, Charles Henry.”

“You will be promoted! You will be an officer!”

“Not unless you are also. How many prisoners did you take?”

“I am not sure, Fritz; I think there were nine. But the captain will
know.”

“We will both be promoted, the king promised it, and now I am willing to
accept it.”

“But what is this to us now, my friend?” said Charles Henry; “we have
found one another, and I am indifferent to all else.”

“You are right, Charles Henry; this has been a fearful, a terrible day.
My knees tremble beneath me--let us rest a while.”

He laid himself upon the ground. Charles Henry knelt beside him, laying
one hand upon his shoulder, and looked at the starry sky; a holy smile
glorified his countenance. As he gazed at the moon, tender feelings were
at work in his heart. He thought of his distant home--of the graves of
his loved parents, upon which the moon was now shining as brightly as
upon this bloody battle-field. He thought how kind and merciful God had
been to preserve his friend, his only consolation, the one joy of his
weary, lonesome life. The solemn stillness by which he was surrounded,
the bright moon, light which illuminated the battle-field, the thought
of the hard struggle of the past day, all acted strongly upon his
feelings. The brave, daring soldier, Charles Henry Buschman, was once
more transformed into the gentle, soft-hearted Anna Sophia Detzloff;
now, when danger was past, she felt herself a weak, trembling woman.
Deep, inexpressible emotion, earnest prayers to God, were busy in Anna
Sophia’s heart.

Kneeling upon the ground, resting on her friend, she raised her eyes
heavenward, and commenced singing in an earnest, impassioned tone that
glorious hymn, “Thanks unto God!” Fritz Kober, actuated by the same
feelings, joined in the hymn, and here and there a comrade lent his
voice to swell the anthem; it became stronger, louder, until at last,
like a mighty stream, it passed over the battle-field, knocking at every
heart, and urging it to prayer, finding everywhere an open ear.

The moon stood smiling above the battle-field, upon which eight thousand
dead and wounded men were lying. Even the wounded, who a short time
before filled the air with groans of pain and agony, raised themselves
to join in the song of praise which was now sung, not by a hundred, not
by a thousand, but by thirty thousand soldiers, thirty thousand heroes,
who, after that bloody day had earned the right to sing “Thanks unto
God.”



CHAPTER XV. WINTER QUARTERS IN BRESLAU.


Faint and exhausted, the king had withdrawn to his room; he was alone.
To-day was the twenty-fourth of January, Frederick’s birthday, and,
although he had forbidden all congratulations, he could not avoid
receiving the highest tribunals of Breslau, and also a few deputations
of the citizens of this reconquered city. These visits wearied the king;
he was grave and out of spirits. Once more alone, he could indulge in
the sad memories that came over him involuntarily and forcibly. For
here in Breslau he had lately experienced a bitter disappointment; every
thing in the castle reminded him of the treacherous friend whom he bad
loved so dearly, and who had so shamefully betrayed him.

The king was now thinking of the Bishop von Schaffgotsch. An expression
of painful gloom clouded his face, he felt solitary and deserted; the
cold, silent room chilled his heart, and the snow blown against the
window by the howling winds, oppressed him strangely. He was more
dejected and anxious than he had ever felt before a battle.

“The marquis cannot travel in such weather,” he said, sighing, “and my
musicians will be careful not to trust themselves upon the highway; they
will imagine the snow has blocked up the way, and that it is impossible
to come through. They will remain in Berlin, caring but little that I am
counting the weary hours until they arrive. Yes, yes, this is an example
of the almighty power of a king; a few snow-flakes are sufficient to set
his commands aside, and the king remains but an impotent child of the
dust. Of what avail is it that I have conquered the Austrians and the
French? I have sown dragons’ teeth from which new enemies will arise,
new battles, perhaps new defeats. What have I gained by consecrating my
heart to my friends? They are but serpents--I have nourished them in my
breast, and they will sting when I least suspect them. Even those whom I
still trust, forsake me now when I most need them!”

The wild storm increased, and blew a cloud of snow-flakes against the
window, and the wind whistled mournfully in the chimney.

“No,” murmured the king, “D’Argens will certainly not come; he will
remain quietly in his beloved bed, and from there write me a touching
epistle concerning the bonds of friendship. I know that when feeling
does not flow from the hearts of men, it flows eloquently from ink as
a pitiful compensation. But,” he continued after a pause, “this is all
folly! Solitude makes a dreamer of me--I am sighing for my friends as a
lover sighs for his sweetheart! Am I then so entirely alone? Have I not
my books? Come, Lucretius, thou friend in good and evil days; thou sage,
thou who hast never left me without counsel and consolation! Come and
cheer thy pupil--teach him how to laugh at this pitiful world as it
deserves!”

Taking Lucretius from the table, and stretching himself upon the sofa,
he commenced reading. Deep stillness surrounded him. Bells were ringing
in the distance in honor of the royal birthday. The Breslauers, who
had so shortly before joyfully welcomed the conquering Austrians, now
desired to convince the King of Prussia that they were his zealous
subjects. The evening of the kingly birthday they wished to show the joy
of their hearts by a brilliant illumination.

The king still read, and became so absorbed that he did not hear the
door gently opened. The tall, slender form of the Marquis d’Argens
appeared at the threshold. Overcome with joyful emotions, he remained
standing, and gazing with clouded eyes at the king. Composing himself,
he closed the door softly behind him and advanced.

“Sire, will you forgive me for entering unannounced?”

The king sprang from his seat and held out both his hands. “Welcome,
welcome! I thank you for coming.”

The marquis could not reply; he pressed his lips silently upon the
king’s hands. “My God,” he said, in a trembling voice, “how my heart has
longed for this happy moment--how many offerings I have vowed to Heaven
if allowed to see the king once more.”

“You did not win Heaven by promises alone, friend, but you have offered
up a victim. You have left that precious bed which you have occupied for
the past eight months--you have gained a victory over yourself which is
of more value than many victories.”

“Ah, your majesty,” cried the marquis, whose black eyes were again
sparkling with mirth, “I now feel that my poor heart spoke the truth
when it declared that you were ever by its side. We have really not been
separated, and your majesty begins with me to-day where you left off but
yesterday. You laugh now as then at me, and my poor bed, which has heard
for more than a year past only my sighs and prayers for your majesty’s
success. It was not difficult for me to leave it and to obey the summons
of my king. If you think this conquest over myself worth more than a
victory over our enemies, how lightly the hero of Rosbach and Leuthen
regards victories!”

“Not so, marquis; but you know what the renowned King of the Hebrews
said--that wise king who rejoiced in a thousand wives: ‘He who conquers
himself is greater than he who taketh a city.’ You, marquis, are this
rare self-conqueror, and you shall be rewarded right royally. I have
had rooms prepared as warm and comfortable as the marquise herself could
have arranged for you. The windows are stuffed with cotton, furs are
lying before the stove, cap and foot-muff, so your faithful La Pierre
may wrap and bundle you up to your heart’s content. Not a breath of air
shall annoy you, and all your necessities shall be provided for with as
much reverence as if you were the holy fire in the temple of Vesta, and
I the priestess that guards it.”

The marquis laughed heartily. “Should the fire ever burn low and the
flame pale, I beg my exalted priestess to cast her burning glance upon
me, and thus renew my heat. Sire, allow me, before all other things, to
offer my congratulations. May Heaven bless this day which rose like a
star of hope upon all who love the great, the beautiful, the exalted,
and the--”

“Enough, enough,” cried Frederick; “if you begin in this way, I shall
fly from you; I shall believe you are one of those stupid deputations
with which etiquette greets the king. In this room, friend, there is no
king, and when we are here alone we are two simple friends, taking each
other warmly by the hand and congratulating ourselves upon having lived
through another weary year, and having the courage bravely to meet
the years that remain. Should you still desire to add a wish to this,
marquis, pray that the war fever which has seized all Europe, may
disappear--that the triumvirate of France, Russia, and Austria, may be
vanquished--that the tyrants of this universe may not succeed in binding
the whole world in the chains they have prepared for it.”

“Your majesty will know how to obtain this result--to break this
chain--and if they will not yield willingly, the hero of Rossbach and
Leuthen will know how to crush them in his just rage.”

“God grant it!” sighed the king; “I long for peace, although my enemies
say I am the evil genius that brings discord and strife into the world.
They say that if Frederick of Prussia did not exist, the entire
world would be a paradise of peace and love. I could say to them, as
Demosthenes said to the Athenians: ‘If Philip were dead, what would it
signify? You would soon make another Philip.’ I say to the Austrians:
‘Your ambition, your desire for universal reign, would soon rouse other
enemies. The liberties of Germany, and indeed of all Europe, will always
find defenders.’ We will speak no more of these sad themes; they belong
to the past and the future. Let us try to forget, friend, that we are
in winter quarters at Breslau, and imagine ourselves to be at our dear
Sans-Souci.”

“In our beautiful convent,” said the marquis, “whose abbot has so long
been absent, and whose monks are scattered to the four winds.”

“It is true,” sighed the king, gloomily, “widely scattered; and when the
abbot returns to Sans-Souci, every thing will be changed and lonely. Oh,
marquis, how much I have lost since we parted!”

“How much you have gained, sire! how many new laurels crown your heroic
brow!”

“You speak of my victories,” said the king, shaking his head; “but
believe me, my heart has suffered defeats from which it will never
recover. I am not speaking of the death of my mother--although that is
a wound that will never heal; that came from the hand of Providence;
against its decrees no man dare murmur. I speak of more bitter, more
cruel defeats, occasioned by the ingratitude and baseness of men.”

“Your majesty still thinks of the unworthy Abbot of Prades,” said
D’Argens, sadly.

“No, marquis; that hurt, I confess. I liked him, but I never loved
him--he was not my friend, his treachery grieved but did not surprise
me. I knew he was weak. He sold me! Finding himself in my camp, he made
use of his opportunity and betrayed to the enemy all that came to his
knowledge. He had a small soul, and upon such men you cannot count. But
from another source I received a great wrong--this lies like iron upon
my heart, and hardens it. I loved Bishop Schaffgotsch, marquis; I called
him friend; I gave him proof of my friendship. I had a right to depend
on his faithfulness, and believe in a friendship he had so often
confirmed by oaths. My love, at least was unselfish, and deserved not
to be betrayed. But he was false in the hour of danger, like Peter who
betrayed his Master. The Austrians had scarcely entered Breslau, when he
not only denied me, but went further--he trampled upon the orders of my
house, and held a Te Deum in the dome in honor of the Austrian victory
at Collin.” The king ceased and turned away, that the marquis might not
see the tears that clouded his eyes.

“Sire,” cried the marquis, deeply moved, “forget the ingratitude of
these weak souls, who were unworthy of a hero’s friendship.”

“I will; but enough of this. You are here, and I still believe in you,
marquis. You and the good Lord Marshal are the only friends left me to
lean upon when the baseness of men makes my heart fail.”

“These friends will never fail you, sire,” said the marquis, deeply
moved; “your virtues and your love made them strong.”

The king took his hand affectionately. “Let us forget the past,” said
he, gayly; “and as we both, in our weak hours, consider ourselves poets,
let us dream that we are in my library in our beloved Sans-Souci. We
will devote this holy time of peace to our studies, for that is, without
doubt, the best use we can make of it. You shall see a flood of verses
with which I amused myself in camp, and some epigrams written against my
enemies.”

“But if we were even now in Sans-Souci, sire, I do not think you would
give this hour to books. I dare assert you would be practising with
Quantz, and preparing for the evening concerts.”

“Yes, yes; but here we are denied that happiness,” said the king, sadly.
“I have written for a part of my band, and they will be here I hope in
eight days; but Graun and Quantz will certainly not--“The king paused
and listened attentively. It seemed to him as if he heard the sound of a
violin in the adjoining room, accompanied by the light tones of a flute.
Yes, it was indeed so; some one was tuning a violin and the soft sound
of the flute mingled with the violoncello. A flush of rosy joy lighted
the king’s face--he cast a questioning glance upon the marquis, who
nodded smilingly. With a joyful cry the king crossed the room--an
expression of glad surprise burst from his lips.

There they were, the loved companions of his evening concerts. There was
Graun, with his soft, dreamy, artistic face; there was Quantz, with his
silent, discontented look--whose grumbling, even Frederick was compelled
to respect; there was the young Fasch, whom the king had just engaged,
and who played the violoncello in the evening concerts.

As the king advanced to meet them, they greeted him loudly. “Long
live our king!--our great Frederick!” Even Quantz forgot himself for a
moment, and laughed good-humoredly.

“Listen, sire; it will be a mortal sin if you scold us for coming to you
without being summoned by your majesty. This is through--out all
Prussia a festal day, and no one should desecrate it by scolding or
fault-finding--not even the king.”

“Oh, I am not disposed to scold,” said Frederick, in low tones; he did
not wish them to hear how his voice trembled--“I do not scold--I thank
you heartily.”

“We had nothing better to send your majesty on your birthday than our
unworthy selves,” said Graun; “we come, therefore, to lay ourselves at
our king’s feet, and say to him: ‘Accept our hearts, and do not spurn
the gift.’ A warm, human heart is the richest gift one man can offer
another. Your majesty is a great king, and a good and great man, and we
dare approach you, therefore, as man to man.”

“And my Graun is so renowned a composer, that any man must count it an
honor to be beloved by him,” said Frederick, tenderly.

“For myself,” said Quantz, gravely, handing the king a small roll
carefully wrapped up, “I have brought something more than my naked
heart in honor of my king’s birthday. I pray your majesty to accept it
graciously.” [Footnote: Pocus, “Frederick the Great and his Friends.”]

The king opened it hastily. “A flute!” cried he, joyfully, “and a flute
made for me by the great master Quantz, I am sure.”

“Yes, your majesty; all the time you were in the field, I have worked
upon it. As the courier brought the news of the battle of Leuthen, all
Berlin shouted for joy, and the banners floated in every street and at
every window. Then this flute broke its silence for the first time--its
first music was a hosanna to our great king.”

“From this time forth,” said Frederick, “let no man dare to say that
battles are in vain. The bloody field of Leuthen produced a flute from
Quantz; and by Heaven, that is a greater rarity than the most complete
victory in these warlike days!”

“Sire,” said the marquis, drawing some letters from his pocket, “I have
also some gifts to offer. This is a letter from Algarotti, and a
small box of Italian snuff, which he begs to add as an evidence of his
rejoicing in your victories. [Footnote: Ibid.] Here is a letter from
Voltaire, and one from Lord Marshal.”

“From all my distant friends--they have all thought of me,” said
Frederick, as he took the letters.

“But I have no time to read letters now; we will have music, and if
agreeable to you, messieurs, we will practise a quartet which I composed
during my solitude these last few days.”

“Let us try it,” said Quantz, carelessly opening the piano.

Frederick went to his room to seek his note-book, and place his letters
upon the table, but, before he returned, he called the marquis to him.

“D’Argens,” said he, “may I not thank you for this agreeable surprise?”

“Yes, sire, I proposed it, and took the responsibility upon myself. If
your majesty is displeased, I am the only culprit!”

“And why have you made yourself the postilion, and brought me all these
letters, marquis?”

“Sire, because--”

“I will tell you, marquis,” said Frederick, with a loving glance, and
laying his hand upon D’Argens’ shoulder; “you did this, because you knew
my poor heart had received a deep wound, and you wished to heal it. You
wished to surround me with many friends, and make me forget the one
who fails, and who betrayed me. I thank you, marquis! Yours is a great
heart, and I believe your balsam has magic in it. I thank you for this
hour, it has done me good; and though the world may succeed in poisoning
my heart, I will never--never distrust you; I will never forget this
hour!”

“And now, messieurs,” said Frederick, as he returned to the musicians,
“we will take our parts, and you, Quantz, take your place at the piano.”

The concert began. Frederick stood behind the piano, at which Quantz
sat; Graun and Fasch had withdrawn to the window, in order to enjoy the
music, as Frederick was first to play a solo on his flute, with a simple
piano accompaniment.

The king played artistically, and with a rare enthusiasm. The marquis
was in ecstasy, and Graun uttered a few low bravos. Suddenly, all the
musicians shuddered, and Quantz was heard to mutter angrily. The king
had committed a great fault in his composition--a fault against the
severest rules of art. He played on, however, quietly, and said, when he
had completed the page--“Da capo!” and recommenced. Again came the false
notes, frightful to the ears of musicians. And now Graun and Fasch could
not keep time. The king held his breath.

“Go on, Quantz,” said he, zealously, placing the flute again to his
lips.

Quantz cast a sullen look at him.

“As your majesty pleases,” said he, and he played so fiercely that Graun
and Fasch shivered, and Quantz himself whistled to drown the discord.
The unlearned marquis looked in blessed ignorance upon his royal friend,
and the beautiful music brought tears to his eyes. When the piece was
ended, the king said to Quantz:

“Do you find this text false?”

“Yes, your majesty, it is false!”

“And you two also believe it false?”

“Yes, your majesty, it is false!” said Graun and Fasch.

“But, if the composer will have it so?”

“It is still false!” said Quantz, sullenly.

“But if it pleases me, and I think it melodious?”

“Your majesty can never find it so,” said Quantz, angrily. “The notes
are false, and what is false can never please your majesty.”

“Well, well!” said the king, good-humoredly; “don’t be quite so angry!
it is, after all, not a lost battle! [Footnote: The king’s own words.]
If this passage is impossible, we will strike it out.”

“If your majesty does that, it will be a beautiful composition, and I
would be proud myself to have composed it.”

The king smiled, well pleased. It was evident that this praise of his
proud and stern master was most acceptable to the hero of Leuthen and
Rossbach.



CHAPTER XVI. THE BROKEN HEART.


A carriage stopped before the pleasure palace of Oranienburg. The lady
who sat in it, cast anxious, questioning glances at the windows, and
breathed a heavy sigh when she saw the closed shutters, and observed the
absence of life and movement in the palace. At this moment an officer
stepped hastily from the great portal to greet the lady, and assist her
to descend.

“Does he still live?” said she, breathlessly.

“He lives, countess, and awaits you eagerly!” said the officer.

She did not reply, but raised her large, melancholy eyes thankfully to
heaven, and her lips moved as if in prayer.

They stepped silently and rapidly through the dazzling saloons, now
drear and deserted. Their pomp and splendor was painful; it harmonized
but little with their sad presentiments.

“We have arrived, countess,” said the officer, as they stood before
a closed and thickly-curtained door. “The prince is in this
garden-saloon.”

The lady’s heart beat loudly, and her lips were pale as death. She
leaned for a moment against the door, and tried to gather strength.

“I am ready I announce me to the prince!”

“That is unnecessary, countess. The prince’s nerves are so sensitive,
that the slightest noise does not escape him. He heard the rolling of
your carriage-wheels, and knows that you are here. He is expecting you,
and has commanded that you come unannounced. Have the goodness to enter;
you will be alone with the prince.” He raised the curtain, and the
countess looked back once more.

“Is there any hope?” said she, to her companion.

“None! The physician says he must die to-day!”

The countess opened the door so noiselessly, that not the slightest
sound betrayed her presence. She sank upon a chair near the entrance,
and fixed her tearful eyes with inexpressible agony upon the pale form,
which lay upon the bed, near the open door, leading into the garden.

What!--this wan, emaciated figure, that countenance of deadly pallor,
those fallen cheeks, those bloodless lips, the hollow temples, thinly
shaded by the lifeless, colorless hair--was that Augustus William?--the
lover of her youth, the worshipped dream-picture of her whole life, the
never-effaced ideal of her faithful heart?

As she looked upon him, the sweetly-painful, sad, and yet glorious past,
seemed to fill her soul. She felt that her heart was young, and beat,
even now, as ardently for him who lay dying before her, as in the early
time, when they stood side by side in the fulness of youth, beauty, and
strength--when they stood side by side for the last time.

At that time, she died! Youth, happiness, heart were buried; but now, as
she looked upon him, the coffin unclosed, the shroud fell back, and the
immortal spirits greeted each other with the love of the olden time.

And now, Laura wept no more. Enthusiasm, inspiration were written
upon her face. She felt no earthly pain; the heavenly peace of the
resurrection morning filled her soul. She arose and approached the
prince. He did not see her; his eyes were closed. Perhaps he slumbered;
perhaps the king of terrors had already pressed his first bewildering
kiss upon the pale brow. Laura bent over and looked upon him. Her long,
dark ringlets fell around his face like a mourning veil. She listened to
his light breathing, and, bowing lower, kissed the poor, wan lips.

He opened his eyes very quietly, without surprise. Peacefully, joyfully
he looked up at her. And Laura--she asked no longer if that wasted form
could be the lover of her youth. In his eyes she found the long-lost
treasure--the love, the youth, the soul of the glorious past.

Slowly the prince raised his arms, and drew her toward him. She sank
down, and laid her head by his cold cheek. Her hot breath wafted him
a new life-current, and seemed to call back his soul from the
spirit-world.

For a long time no word was spoken. How could they speak, in this first
consecrated moment? They felt so much, that language failed. They
lay heart to heart, and only God understood their hollow sighs, their
unspoken prayers, their suppressed tears. Only God was with them! God
sent through the open doors the fresh fragrance of the flowers; He
sent the winds, His messengers, through the tall trees, and their wild,
melancholy voices were like a solemn organ, accompanying love’s last
hymn. In the distant thickets the nightingale raised her melancholy
notes, for love’s last greeting. Thus eternal Nature greets the dying
sons of men.

God was with His children. Their thoughts were prayers; their eyes,
which at first were fixed upon each other, now turned pleadingly to
heaven.

“I shall soon be there!” said Prince Augustus--“soon! I shall live a
true life, and this struggle with death will soon be over. For sixteen
years I have been slowly dying, day by day, hour by hour. Laura, it has
been sixteen years, has it not?”

She bowed silently.

“No,” said he, gazing earnestly upon her; “it was but yesterday. I know
now that it was but yesterday. You are just the same--unchanged, my
Laura. This is the same angel-face which I have carried in my heart.
Nothing is changed, and I thank God for it. It would have been a great
grief to look upon you and find a strange face by my side. This is my
Laura, my own Laura, who left me sixteen years ago. And now, look at
me steadily; see what life has made of me; see how it has mastered
me--tortured me to death with a thousand wounds! I call no man my
murderer, but I die of these wounds. Oh, Laura! why did you forsake
me? Why did you not leave this miserable, hypocritical, weary world of
civilization, and follow me to the New World, where the happiness of a
true life awaited us?”

“I dared not,” said she; “God demanded this offering of me, and because
I loved you boundlessly I was strong to submit. God also knows what it
cost me, and how these many years I have struggled with my heart, and
tried to learn to forget.”

“Struggle no longer, Laura, I am dying; when I am dead you dare not
forget me.”

She embraced him with soft tenderness.

“No, no,” whispered she, “God is merciful! He will not rob me of the
only consolation of my joyless, solitary life. I had only this. To
think he lives, he breathes the same air, he looks up into the same
heavens--the same quiet stars greet him and me. And a day will come in
which millions of men will shout and call him their king; and when I
look upon his handsome face, and see him in the midst of his people,
surrounded by pomp and splendor, I dare say to myself, That is my work.
I loved him more than I loved myself, therefore he wears a crown--I
had the courage not only to die for him, but to live without him, and
therefore is he a king. Oh, my beloved, say not that you are dying!”

“If you love me truly, Laura, you will not wish me to live. Indeed I
have long been dying. For sixteen years I have felt the death-worm in my
heart--it gnaws and gnaws. I have tried to crush it--I wished to live,
because I had promised you to bear my burden. I wished to prove myself a
man. I gave the love which you laid at my feet, bathed in our tears and
our blood, to my fatherland. I was told that I must marry, to promote
the interest of my country, and I did so. I laid a mask over my face,
and a mask over my heart. I wished to play my part in the drama of life
to the end; I wished to honor my royal birth to which fate had condemned
me. But it appears I was a bad actor. I was cast out from my service,
my gay uniform and royal star torn from my breast. I, a prince, was sent
home a humiliated, degraded, ragged beggar. I crept with my misery and
my shame into this corner, and no one followed me. No one showed a spark
of love for the poor, spurned cast-away. Love would have enabled me to
overcome all, to defy the world, and to oppose its slanders boldly. I
was left alone to bear my shame and my despair--wholly alone. I have a
wife, I have children, and I am alone; they live far away from me, and
at the moment of my death they will smile and be happy. I am the heir of
a throne, but a poor beggar; I asked only of fate a little love, but I
asked in vain. Fate had no pity--only when I am dead will I be a prince
again; then they will heap honors upon my dead body. Oh, Laura! how it
burns in my heart--how terrible is this hell-fire of shame! It eats up
the marrow of my bones and devours my brain. Oh, my head, my head! how
terrible is this pain!”

With a loud sob he sank back on the pillow; his eyes closed, great drops
of sweat stood on his brow, and the breath seemed struggling in his
breast.

Laura bowed over him, she wiped away the death-sweat with her hair, and
hot tears fell on the poor wan face. These tears aroused him--he opened
his eyes.

“I have got something to say,” whispered he; “I feel that I shall soon
be well. When the world says of me, ‘He is dead,’ I shall have just
awaked from death. There above begins the true life; what is here so
called is only a pitiful prologue. We live here only that we may learn
to wish for death. Oh, my Laura! I shall soon live, love, and be happy.”

“Oh, take me with you, my beloved,” cried Laura, kneeling before him,
dissolved in tears. “Leave me not alone--it is so sad, so solitary in
this cold world! Take me with you, my beloved!”

He heard her not! Death had already touched him with the point of his
dark wings, and spread his mantle over him. His spirit struggled with
the exhausted body and panted to escape. He no longer heard when Laura
called, but he still lived: his eyes were wide open and he spoke
again. But they were single, disconnected words, which belonged to
the dreamland and the forms of the invisible world which his almost
disembodied spirit now looked upon.

Once he said, in a loud voice, and this time he looked with full
consciousness upon Laura, “I close my life--a life of sorrow.
Winterfeldt has shortened my days, but I die content in knowing that
so bad, so dangerous a man is no longer in the army.” [Footnote: The
prince’s own words. He died the 12th of June, 1758, at thirty-six years
of age. As his adjutant, Von Hagen, brought the news of his death to the
king, Frederick asked, “Of what disease did my brother die?”

“Grief and shame shortened his life,” said the officer. Frederick turned
his back on him without a reply, and Von Hagen was never promoted.

The king erected a monument to Winterfeldt, Ziethen, and Schwerin, but
he left it to his brother Henry to erect one to the Prince of Prussia.
This was done in Reinenz, where a lofty pyramid was built in honor of
the heroes of the Seven Years’ War. The names of all the generals,
and all the battles they had gained were engraven upon it, and it was
crowned by a bust of Augustus William, the great-grandfather of the
present King of Prussia.

The king erected a statue to Winterfeldt, and forgot his brother, and
now Prince Henry forgot to place Winterfeldt’s name among the heroes
of the war. When the monument was completed, the prince made a speech,
which was full of enthusiastic praise of his beloved brother, so early
numbered with the dead. Prince Henry betrayed by insinuation the strifes
and difficulties which always reigned between the king and himself;
he did not allude to the king during his speech, and did not class him
among the heroes of the Seven Years’ War.

In speaking of the necessity of a monument in memory of his best beloved
brother, Augustus William, he alluded to the statue of Winterfeldt, and
added: “L’abus des richesses et du pouvoir eleve des statues de marbre
et de bronze a ceux qui n’etaient pas dignes de passer a la posterite
sous l’embleme de l’honneur.”--Rouille’s “Vie du Prince Henry.”

Recently a signal honor has been shown to Prince Augustus William,
his statue has the principal place on the monument erected in honor of
Frederick the Great in Berlin.--Rouille.]

His mind wandered, and he thought he was on the battle-field, and called
out, loudly:

“Forward! forward to the death!”

Then all was still but the song of the birds and the sighing winds.

Laura knelt and prayed. When she turned her glance from the cloudless
heavens upon her beloved, his countenance was changed. There was a glory
about it, and his great, wide-opened eyes flashed with inspiration; he
raised his dying head and greeted the trees and flowers with his last
glance.

“How beautiful is the world when one is about to die,” said he, with a
sweet smile. “Farewell, world! Farewell, Laura! Come, take me in your
arms--let me die in the arms of love! Hate has its reign in this
world, but love goes down with us into the cold grave.
Farewell!--farewell!--farewell!”

His head fell upon Laura’s shoulder; one last gasp, one last shudder,
and the heir of a throne, the future ruler of millions, was nothing but
a corpse.

The trees whispered gayly--no cloud shadowed the blue heavens; the birds
sang, the flowers bloomed, and yet in that eventful moment a prince was
born, a pardoned soul was wafted to the skies.

Love pressed the last kiss upon the poor, wan lips; love closed the
weary eyes; love wept over him; love prayed for his soul.

“Hate has her reign in this poor world, love goes down with us into the
dark tomb.”



BOOK IV.



CHAPTER I. THE KING AND HIS OLD AND NEW ENEMIES.


Three years, three long, terrible years had passed since the beginning
of this fearful war; since King Frederick of Prussia had stood alone,
without any ally but distant England, opposed by all Europe.

These three years had somewhat undeceived the proud and self-confident
enemies of Frederick. The pope still called him the Marquis of
Brandenburg, and the German emperor declared that, notwithstanding the
adverse circumstances threatening him on every side, the King of Prussia
was still a brave and undaunted adversary. His enemies, alter having for
a long time declared that they would extinguish him and reduce him once
more to the rank of the little Prince-Elector of Brandenburg, now began
to fear him. From every battle, from every effort, from every defeat,
King Frederick rose up with a clear brow and flashing eye, and unshaken
courage. Even the lost battles did not cast a shadow upon the lustre
of his victories. In both the one and the other he had shown himself a
hero, greater even after the battles in his composure and decision, in
his unconquerable energy, in the circumspection and presence of mind
by which he grasped at a glance all the surroundings, and converted the
most threatening into favorable circumstances. After a great victory
his enemies might indeed say they had conquered the King of Prussia, but
never that they had subdued him. He stood ever undaunted, ever ready
for the contest, prepared to attack them when they least expected it;
to take advantage of every weak point, and to profit by every incautious
movement. The fallen ranks of his brave soldiers appeared to be dragons’
teeth, which produced armed warriors.

In the camps of the allied Austrians, Saxons, and Russians hunger and
sickness prevailed. In Vienna, Petersburg, and Dresden, the costs and
burden of the war were felt to be almost insupportable. The Prussian
army was healthy, their magazines well stocked, and, thanks to the
English subsidy, the treasury seemed inexhaustible. Three years, as we
have said, of never-ceasing struggle had gone by. The heroic brow of
the great Frederick had been wreathed with new laurels. The battles of
Losovitz, of Rossbach, of Leuthen, and of Zorndorf were such dazzling
victories that they were not even obscured by the defeats of Collin and
Hochkirch. The allies made their shouts of victory resound throughout
all Europe, and used every means to produce the impression upon the
armies and the people that these victories were decisive.

Another fearful enemy, armed with words of Holy Writ, was now added
to the list of those who had attacked him with the sword. This new
adversary was Pope Clement XIII. He mounted the apostolic throne in May,
1758, and immediately declared himself the irreconcilable foe of the
little Marquis of Brandenburg, who had dared to hold up throughout
Prussia all superstition and bigotry to mockery and derision; who had
illuminated the holy gloom and obscurity of the church with the clear
light of reason and truth; who misused the priests and religious orders,
and welcomed and assisted in Prussia all those whom the holy mother
Catholic Church banished for heresies and unbelief.

Benedict, the predecessor of the present pope, was also known to have
been the enemy of Frederick, but he was wise enough to be silent and not
draw down upon the cloisters, and colleges, and Catholics of Prussia the
rage of the king.

But Clement, in his fanatical zeal, was not satisfied to pursue this
course. He was resolved to do battle against this heretical king. He
fulminated the anathemas of the church and bitter imprecations against
him, and showered down words of blessing and salvation upon all those
who declared themselves his foes. Because of this fanatical hatred,
Austria received a new honor, a new title from the hands of the pope.
As a reward for her enmity to this atheistical marquis, and the great
service which she had rendered in this war, the pope bestowed the title
of apostolic majesty upon the empress and her successors. Not only the
royal house of Austria, but the generals and the whole army of pious and
believing Christians, should know and feel that the blessing of the pope
rested upon their arms, protecting them from adversity and defeat.
The glorious victory of Hochkirch must be solemnly celebrated, and the
armies of the allies incited to more daring deeds of arms.

For this reason, Pope Clement sent to Field-Marshal Daun, who had
commanded at the battle of Hochkirch, a consecrated hat and sword,
thus changing this political into a religious war. It was no longer a
question of earthly possessions, but a holy contest against an heretical
enemy of mother church. Up to this time, these consecrated gifts had
been only bestowed upon generals who had already subdued unbelievers or
subjugated barbarians. [Footnote: OEuvres Posthumes, vol. iii.]

But King Frederick of Prussia laughed at these attacks of God’s
vicegerent. To his enemies, armed with the sword, he opposed his own
glittering blade; to his popish enemy, armed with the tongue and the
pen, he opposed the same weapons. He met the first in the open field,
the last in winter quarters, through those biting, mocking, keen
Fliegenden Blattern, which at that time made all Europe roar with
laughter, and crushed and brought to nothing the great deeds of the pope
by the curse of ridicule.

The consecrated hat and sword of Field-Marshal Daun lost its value
through the letter of thanks from Daun to the pope, which the king
intercepted, and which, even in Austria, was laughed at and made sport
of.

The congratulatory letter of the Princess Soubise to Daun was also made
public, and produced general merriment.

When the pope called Frederick the “heretical Marchese di Brandenburgo,”
 the king returned the compliment by calling him the “Grand Lama,” and
delighted himself over the assumed infallibility of the vicegerent of
the Most High.

But the king not only scourged the pope with his satirical pen--the
modest and prudish Empress Maria Theresa was also the victim of his wit.
He wrote a letter, supposed to be from the Marquise de Pompadour to
the Queen of Hungary, in which the inexplicable friendship between the
virtuous empress and the luxurious mistress of Louis was mischievously
portrayed. This letter of Frederick’s was spread abroad in every
direction, and people were not only naive enough to read it, but to
believe it genuine. The Austrian court saw itself forced to the public
declaration that all these letters were false; that Field-Marshal Daun
had not received a consecrated wig, but a hat; and that the empress
had never received a letter of this character from the Marquise de
Pompadour. [Footnote: In this letter the marquise complained bitterly
that the empress had made it impossible for her to hasten to Vienna and
offer her the homage, the lore, the friendship she cherished for her in
her heart. The empress had established a court of virtue and modesty in
Vienna, and this tribunal could hardly receive the Pompadour graciously.
The marquise, therefore, entreated the empress to execute judgment
against this fearful tribunal of virtue, and to bow to the yoke of
the omnipotent goddess Venus. All these letters can be seen in the
“Supplement aux OEuvres Posthumes.”] These Fliegende Blattern, as we
have said, were the weapons with which King Frederick fought against his
enemies when the rough, inclement winter made it impossible for him
to meet them in the open field. In the winter quarters in 1758 most of
those letters appeared; and no one but the Marquis d’Argens, the most
faithful friend of Frederick, guessed who was the author of these hated
and feared satires.

The enemies of the king also made use of this winter rest to make every
possible aggression; they had their acquaintances and spies throughout
Germany; under various pretences and disguises, they were scattered
abroad--even in the highest court circles of Berlin they were zealously
at work. By flattery, and bribery, and glittering promises, they made
friends and adherents, and in the capital of Prussia they found ready
supporters and informers. They were not satisfied with this--they were
haughty and bold enough to seek for allies among the Prussians, and
hoped to obtain entrance into the walls of the cities, and possession of
the fortresses by treachery.

The Austrian and Russian prisoners confined in the fortress of Kustrin
conspired to give it up to the enemy. The number of Russian prisoners
sent to the fortress of Kustrin after the battle of Zorndorf, was
twice as numerous as the garrison, and if they could succeed in getting
possession of the hundred cannon captured at Zorndorf, and placed as
victorious trophies in the market-place, it would be an easy thing to
fall upon and overcome the garrison.

This plan was all arranged, and about to be carried out, but it was
discovered the day before its completion. The Prussian commander doubled
the guard before the casemates in which three thousand Russian prisoners
were confined, and arrested the Russian officers. Their leader,
Lieutenant von Yaden of Courland, was accused, condemned by the
court-martial, and, by the express command of the king, broken upon the
wheel. Even this terrible example bore little fruit. Ever new attempts
were being made--ever new conspiracies discovered amongst the prisoners;
and whilst the armies of the allies were attacking Prussia outwardly,
the prisoners were carrying on a not less dangerous guerilla war--the
more to be feared because it was secret--not in the open field and by
day, but under the shadow of night and the veil of conspiracy.

Nowhere was this warfare carried on more vigorously than in Berlin. All
the French taken at Rossbach, all the Austrians captured at Leuthen, and
the Russian officers of high rank taken at Zorndorf, had been sent by
the king to Berlin. They had the most enlarged liberty; the whole city
was their prison, and only their word of honor bound them not to leave
the walls of Berlin. Besides this, all were zealous to alleviate the
sorrows of the “poor captives,” and by fetes and genial amusements to
make them forget their captivity. The doors of all the first houses
were opened to the distinguished strangers--everywhere they were welcome
guests, and there was no assembly at the palace to which they were not
invited.

Even in these fearful times, balls and fetes were given at the court.
Anxious and sad faces were hidden under gay masks, and the loud sound of
music and dancing drowned the heavy sighs of the desponding. While the
Austrians, Russians, and Prussians strove with each other on the bloody
battle-field, the Berlin ladies danced the graceful Parisienne dances
with the noble prisoners. This was now the mode.

Truly there were many aching hearts in this gay and merry city, but they
hid their grief and tears in their quiet, lonely chambers, and their
clouded brows cast no shadow upon the laughing, rosy faces of the
beautiful women whose brothers, husbands, and lovers, were far away on
the bloody battle-field If not exactly willing to accept these strangers
as substitutes, they were at least glad to seek distraction in their
society. After all, it is impossible to be always mourning, always
complaining, always leading a cloistered life. In the beginning, the
oath of constancy and remembrance, which all had sworn at parting, had
been religiously preserved, and Berlin had the physiognomy of a lovely,
interesting, but dejected widow, who knew and wished to know nothing of
the joys of life. But suddenly Nature had asserted her own inexorable
laws, which teach forgetfulness and inspire hope. The bitterest ears
were dried--the heaviest sighs suppressed; people had learned to
reconcile themselves to life, and to snatch eagerly at every ray
of sunshine which could illumine the cold, hopeless desert, which
surrounded them.

They had seen that it was quite possible to live comfortably, even
while wild war was blustering and raging without--that weak, frail human
nature, refused to be ever strained, ever excited, in the expectation
of great events. In the course of these three fearful years, even the
saddest had learned again to laugh, jest, and be gay, in spite of
death and defeat. They loved their fatherland--they shouted loudly and
joyfully over the great victories of their king--they grieved sincerely
over his defeats; but they could not carry their animosities so far as
to be cold and strange to the captive officers who were compelled by the
chances of war to remain in Berlin.

They had so long striven not to seek to revenge themselves upon these
powerless captives, that they had at last truly forgotten they were
enemies; and these handsome, entertaining, captivating, gallant
gentlemen were no longer looked upon even as prisoners, but as strangers
and travellers, and therefore they should receive the honors of the
city. [Footnote: Sulzer writes: “The prisoners of war are treated here
as if they were distinguished travellers and visitors.”]

The king commanded that these officers should receive all attention.
It was also the imperative will of the king that court balls should be
given; he wished to prove to the world that his family were neither sad
nor dispirited, but gay, bold, and hopeful.



CHAPTER II. THE THREE OFFICERS.


It was the spring of 1759. Winter quarters were broken up, and it was
said the king had left Breslau and advanced boldly to meet the enemy.
The Berlin journals contained accounts of combats and skirmishes which
had taken place here and there between the Prussians and the allies, and
in which, it appeared, the Prussians had always been unfortunate.

Three captive officers sat in an elegant room of a house near the
castle, and conversed upon the news of the day, and stared at the
morning journals which lay before them on the table.

“I beg you,” said one of them in French--“I beg you will have the
goodness to translate this sentence for me. I think it has relation
to Prince Henry, but I find it impossible to decipher this barbarous
dialect.” He handed the journal to his neighbor, and pointed with his
finger to the paragraph.

“Yes, there is something about Prince Henry,” said the other, with a
peculiar accent which betrayed the Russian; “and something, Monsieur
Belleville, which will greatly interest you.”

“Oh, I beseech you to read it to us,” said the Frenchman, somewhat
impatiently; then, turning graciously to the third gentleman who sat
silent and indifferent near him, he added: “We must first ascertain,
however, if our kind host, Monsieur le Comte di Ranuzi, consents to the
reading.”

“I gladly take part,” said the Italian count, “in any thing that is
interesting; above all, in every thing which has no relation to this
wearisome and stupid Berlin.”

“Vraiment! you are right.” sighed the Frenchman. “It is a dreary and
ceremonious region. They are so inexpressibly prudish and virtuous--so
ruled with old-fashioned scruples--led captive by such little
prejudices that I should be greatly amused at it, if I did not suffer
daily from the dead monotony it brings. What would the enchanting
mistress of France--what would the Marquise de Pompadour say, if she
could see me, the gay, witty, merry Belleville, conversing with such
an aspect of pious gravity with this poor Queen of Prussia, who makes
a face if one alludes to La Pucelle d’Orleans, and wishes to make it
appear that she has not read Crebillon!”

“Tell me, now, Giurgenow, how is it with your court of Petersburg? Is it
formal, as ceremonious as here in Prussia?”

Giurgenow laughed aloud. “Our Empress Elizabeth is an angel of beauty
and goodness--mild and magnanimous to all-sacrificing herself constantly
to the good of others. Last year she gave a ball to her body-guard. She
danced with every one of the soldiers, and sipped from every glass; and
when the soldiers, carried away by her grace and favor, dared to indulge
in somewhat free jests, the good empress laughed merrily, and forgave
them. On that auspicious day she first turned her attention to the happy
Bestuchef. He was then a poor subordinate officer--now he is a prince
and one of the richest men in Russia.”

“It appears that your Russia has some resemblance to my beautiful
France,” said Belleville, gayly. “But how is it with you, Count Ranuzi?
Is the Austrian court like the court of France, or like this wearisome
Prussia?”

“The Austrian court stands alone--resembles no other,” said the Italian,
proudly. “At the Austrian court we have a tribunal of justice to decide
all charges against modesty and virtue The Empress Maria Theresa is its
president.”

“Diable!” cried the Frenchman, “what earthly chance would the Russian
empress and my lovely, enchanting marquise have, if summoned before this
tribunal by their most august ally the Empress Maria Theresa? But you
forget, Giurgenow, that you have promised to read us something from the
journal about Prince Henry.”

“It is nothing of importance,” said the Russian, apathetically; “the
prince has entirely recovered from his wounds, and has been solacing
himself in his winter camp at Dresden with the representations upon the
French stage. He has taken part as actor, and has played the role of
Voltaire’s Enfant Prodigue. It is further written, that he has now left
the comic stage and commenced the graver game of arms.”

“He might accidentally change these roles,” said Belleville, gayly, “and
play the Enfant Prodigue when he should play the hero. In which would he
be the greater, do you know, Ranuzi?”

The Italian shrugged his shoulders. “You must ask his wife.”

“Or Baron Kalkreuth, who has lingered here for seven months because of
his wounds,” said Giurgenow, with a loud laugh. “Besides, Prince Henry
is averse to this war, all his sympathies are on our side. If the fate
of war should cost the King of Prussia his life, we would soon have
peace and leave this detestable Berlin--this dead, sandy desert, where
we are now languishing as prisoners.”

“The god of war is not always complaisant,” said the Frenchman, grimly.
“He does not always strike those whom we would gladly see fall; the
balls often go wide of the mark.”

“Truly a dagger is more reliable,” said Ranuzi, coolly.

The Russian cast a quick, lowering side glance upon him.

“Not always sure,” said he. “It is said that men armed with daggers have
twice found their way into the Prussian camp, and been caught in the
king’s tent. Their daggers have been as little fatal to the king as the
cannon-balls.”

“Those who bore the daggers were Dutchmen,” said Ranuzi, apathetically;
“they do not understand this sort of work. One must learn to handle the
dagger in my fatherland.”

“Have you learned?” said Giurgenow, sharply.

“I have learned a little of every thing. I am a dilettanti in all.”

“But you are master in the art of love,” said Belleville, smiling. “Much
is said of your love-affairs, monsieur.”

“Much is said that is untrue.” said the Italian, quietly. “I love no
intrigues--least of all, love intrigues; while you, sir, are known as
a veritable Don Juan. I learn that you are fatally in love with the
beautiful maid of honor of the Princess Henry.”

“Ah, you mean the lovely Fraulein von Marshal,” said Giurgenow; “I have
also heard this, and I admire the taste and envy the good fortune of
Belleville.”

“It is, indeed, true,” said Belleville; “the little one is pretty, and
I divert myself by making love to her. It is our duty to teach these
little Dutch girls, once for all, what true gallantry is.”

“And is that your only reason for paying court to this beautiful girl?”
 said Giurgenow, frowningly.

“The only reason, I assure you,” cried Belleville, rising up, and
drawing near the window. “But, look,” cried he, hastily; “what a crowd
of men are filling the streets, and how the people are crying and
gesticulating, as if some great misfortune had fallen upon them!”

The two officers hastened to his side and threw open the window. A great
crowd of people was indeed assembled in the platz, and they were still
rushing from the neighboring streets into the wide, open square, in
the middle of which, upon a few large stones, a curious group were
exhibiting themselves.

There stood a tall, thin man enveloped in a sort of black robe; his
long gray hair fell in wild locks around his pallid and fanatical
countenance. In his right hand he held a Bible, which he waved aloft
to the people, while his large, deeply-set, hollow eyes were raised to
heaven, and his pale lips murmured light and unintelligible words. By
his side stood a woman, also in black, with dishevelled hair floating
down her back. Her face was colorless, she looked like a corpse, and her
thin, blue lips were pressed together as if in death. There was life in
her eyes--a gloomy, wild, fanatical fire flashed from them. Her glance
was glaring and uncertain, like a will-o’-the-wisp, and filled those
upon whom it fell with a shivering, mysterious feeling of dread.

And now, as if by accident, she looked to the windows where the three
gentlemen were standing. The shadow of a smile passed over her face, and
she bowed her head almost imperceptibly. No one regarded this; no one
saw that Giurgenow answered this greeting, and smiled back significantly
upon this enigmatical woman.

“Do you know what this means, gentlemen?” said Belleville.

“It means,” said Giurgenow, “that the people will learn from their great
prophet something of the continuance, or rather of the conclusion of
this war. These good, simple people, as it seems to me, long for rest,
and wish to know when they may hope to attain it. That man knows, for he
is a great prophet, and all his prophecies are fulfilled.”

“But you forget to make mention of the woman?” said Ranuzi, with a
peculiar smile.

“The woman is, I think, a fortune-teller with cards, and the Princess
Amelia holds her in great respect; but let us listen to what the prophet
says.”

They were silent, and listened anxiously. And now the voice of the
prophet raised itself high above the silent crowd. Pealing and sounding
through the air, it fell in trumpet-tones upon the ear, and not one word
escaped the eager and attentive people.

“Brothers,” cried the prophet, “why do you interrupt me? Why do you
disturb me, in my quiet, peaceful path--me and this innocent woman, who
stood by my side last night, to read the dark stars, and whose soul is
sad, even as my own, at what we have seen.”

“What did you see?” cried a voice from the crowd.

“Pale, ghostly shadows, who, in bloody garments, wandered here and
there, weeping and wailing, seating themselves upon a thousand open
graves, and singing out their plaintive hymns of lamentation. ‘War!
war!’ they cried, ‘woe to war! It kills our men, devours our youths,
makes widows of our women, and nuns of our maidens. Woe, woe to war!
Shriek out a prayer to God for peace--peace! O God, send us peace; close
these open graves, heal our wounds, and let our great suffering cease!’”

The prophet folded his hands and looked to heaven, and now the woman’s
voice was heard.

“But the heavens were dark to the prayer of the spirits, and a blood-red
stream gushed from them; colored the stars crimson, turned the moon to a
lake of blood, and piteous voices cried out from the clouds, and in the
air--‘Fight on and die, for your king wills it so; your life belongs to
him, your blood is his.’ Then, from two rivulets of blood, giant-like,
pale, transparent forms emerged; upon the head of the first, I read the
number, ‘1759.’ Then the pale form opened its lips, and cried out: ‘I
bring war, and ever-new bloodshed. Your king demands the blood of your
sons; give it to him. He demands your gold; give it to him. The king is
lord of your body, your blood, and your soul. When he speaks, you must
obey!’”

“It seems to me all this is a little too Russian in its conception,”
 said Ranuzi, half aloud. “I shall be surprised if the police do not
interrupt this seance, which smells a little of insurrection.”

“The scene is so very piquant,” said Giurgenow, “I would like to draw
nearer. Pardon me, gentlemen, I must leave you, and go upon the square.
It is interesting to hear what the people say, and how they receive such
prophecies. We can, perhaps, judge in this way of the probabilities of
peace and liberty. The voice of the people is, in politics, ever the
decisive voice.” He took his hat, and, bowing to the gentlemen, left the
room hastily.



CHAPTER III. RANUZI


Count Ranuzi gazed after the Russian with a mocking smile. “Do you know,
Belleville, where he is going?”

“He has not told us, but I guess it. He is going to approach this
fortune-teller, and give her a sign that her zeal has carried her too
far, and that, if not more prudent, she will betray herself.”

“You think, then, that Giurgenow knows the fortune-teller?”

“I am certain of it. He has engaged these charlatans to rouse up the
people, and excite them against the king. This is, indeed, a very common
mode of proceeding, and often successful; but here, in Prussia, it can
bear no fruit. The people here have nothing to do with politics; the
king reigns alone. The people are nothing but a mass of subjects, who
obey implicitly his commands, even when they know, that in so doing,
they rush on destruction.”

“Giurgenow has failed, and he might have counted upon failure! If you,
Belleville, had resorted to these means, I could have understood it. In
France, the people play an important role in politics. In order to put
down the government, you must work upon the people. You might have been
forgiven for this attempt, but Giurgenow never!”

“You believe, then, that he is manoeuvring here, in Berlin, in the
interest of his government?” said Belleville, amazed.

Ranuzi laughed heartily. “That is a fine and diplomatic mode of
expressing the thing!” said he. “Yes, he is here in the interest of his
government; but when the Prussian government becomes acquainted with
this fact, they will consider him a spy. If discovered, he will be hung.
If successful, when once more at liberty, he may receive thanks and
rewards from Russia. See, now, how rightly I have prophesied! There
is Giurgenow, standing by the side of the prophetess, and I imagine I
almost hear the words he is whispering to her. She will commence again
to prophesy, but in a less violent and fanatical manner.”

“No, no; she will prophesy no more! The police are breaking their way
forcibly through the crowd. They do not regard the cries of fear and
suffering of those they are shoving so violently aside. These are
the servants of the police; they will speedily put an end to this
prophesying. Already the people are flying. Look how adroitly Giurgenow
slips away, and does not condescend to give a glance to the poor
prophetess he inspired. Only see how little respect these rough
policemen have for these heaven-inspired prophets! They seize them
rudely, and bear them off. They will be punished with, at least,
twenty-four hours’ arrest. In Prussia, this concourse and tumult of
the people is not allowed. Come, monsieur, let us close the window;
the comedy is over. The prophets are in the watch-house. Their role is
probably forever played out!” said Belleville, smilingly.

“Not so; they will recommence it to-morrow. These same prophets have
high and mighty protectors in Berlin; the police will not dare to
keep them long under arrest. The Princess Amelia will demand her
fortune-teller.”

“Vraiment, monsieur le comte,” said the Frenchman, “you seem
extraordinarily well acquainted with all these intrigues?”

“I observe closely,” said Ranuzi, with a meaning smile. “I am very
silent--therefore hear a great deal.”

“Well, I counsel you not to give to me or my actions the honor of your
observations,” said Belleville. “My life offers few opportunities for
discovery. I live, I eat, I sleep, I chat, and write poetry and caress,
and seek to amuse myself as well as possible. Sometimes I catch myself
praying to God tearfully for liberty, and truly, not from any political
considerations--simply from the selfish wish to get away from here. You
see, therefore, I am an innocent and harmless bon enfant, not in the
least troubled about public affairs.”

“No,” said Ranuzi, “you do not love Fraulein Marshal at all from
political reasons, but solely because of her beauty, her grace, and her
charms. Behold, this is the result of my observations.”

“You have, then, been watching me?” said Belleville, blushing. “I have
told you that I was always observant. This is here my only distraction
and recreation, and really I do not know what I should do with my time
if I did not kill the weary hours in this way.”

“You do employ it sometimes to a better purpose?” said the Frenchman,
in low tones. “Love is still for you a more agreeable diversion, and you
understand the game well.”

“It appears you are also an observer,” said Ranuzi, with an ironical
smile. “Well, then, I do find love a sweeter diversion; and if I should
yield myself up entirely to my love-dreams, I would perhaps be less
observant. But, Belleville, why do you take your hat? Will you also
leave me?”

“I must, perforce. Through our agreeable conversation I had entirely
forgotten that I had promised Fraulein Marshal to ride with her. A
cavalier must keep his promise with a lady, at least till he knows she
is ardently in love with him.” He gave his hand to the duke, and as he
left the room he hummed a light French chanson.

Ranuzi looked after him with a long, frowning glance. “Poor fool,”
 murmured he, “he believes he plays his part so well that he deceives
even me. This mask of folly and levity he has assumed is thin and
transparent enough I see his true face behind it. It is the physiognomy
of a sly intriguant. Oh, I know him thoroughly; I understand every
emotion of his heart, and I know well what his passion for the beautiful
Marshal signifies. She is the maid of honor of the Princess Henry this
is the secret of his love. She is the confidante of the princess, who
receives every week long and confidential letters from the tent of her
tender husband. Fraulein Marshal is naturally acquainted with their
contents. The prince certainly speaks in these letters of his love and
devotion, but also a little of the king’s plans of battle. Fraulein von
Marshal knows all this. If Belleville obtains her love and confidence,
he will receive pretty correct information of what goes on in the tent
of the king and in the camp councils. So Belleville will have most
important dispatches to forward to his Marquise de Pompadour dispatches
for which he will be one day rewarded with honor and fortune. This is
the Frenchman’s plan! I see through him as I do through the Russian.
They are both paid spies informers of their governments nothing more.
They will be paid, or they will be hung, according as accident is
favorable or unfavorable to them.” Ranuzi was silent, and walked hastily
backward and forward in the rood. Upon his high, pale brow dark thoughts
were written, and flashes of anger flamed from his eyes.

“And I,” said he, after a long pause, “am I in any respect better
than they? Will not the day come when I also will be considered as
a purchased spy? a miserable informer? and my name branded with this
title? No, no; away with this dark spectre, which floats like a black
cloud between me and my purpose! My aim is heaven; and what I do, I do
in the name of the Church--in the service of this great, exalted Church,
whose servant and priest I am. No, no; the world will not call me a spy,
will not brand my name with shame. God will bless my efforts as the Holy
Father in Rome has blessed them, and I shall reach the goal.”

Ranuzi was brilliantly handsome in this inspired mood; his noble and
characteristic face seemed illuminated and as beautiful as the angel of
darkness, when surrounded by a halo of heavenly light.

“It is an exalted and great aim which I have set before me,” said he,
after another pause; “a work which the Holy Father himself confided to
me. I must and I will accomplish it to the honor of God and the
Holy Madonna. This blasphemous war must end; this atheistical and
free-thinking king must be reduced, humbled, and cast down from the
stage he has mounted with such ostentatious bravado. Silesia must be
torn from the hands of this profligate robber and incorporated in the
crown of our apostolic majesty of Austria. The holy Church dare not
lose any of her provinces, and Silesia will be lost if it remains in the
hands of this heretical king; he must be punished for his insolence and
scoffing, for having dared to oppose himself to the Holy Father at Rome.
The injuries which he heaped upon the Queen of Poland must be avenged,
and I will not rest till he is so humbled, so crushed, as to sue for a
shameful peace, even as Henry the Fourth, clad like a peasant, pleaded
to Canoza. But the means, the means to attain this great object.”

Hastily and silently he paced the room, his head proudly thrown back,
and a cold, defiant glance directed upward.

“To kill him!” said he suddenly, as if answering the voices which
whispered in his soul; “that would be an imbecile, miserable resort,
and, moreover, we would not obtain our object; ho would not be
humiliated, but a martyr’s crown would be added to his laurels. When,
however, ho is completely humbled, when, to this great victory at
Hochkirch, we add new triumphs, when we have taken Silesia and
revenged Saxony, then he might die; then we will seek a sure hand which
understands the dagger and its uses. Until then, silence and caution;
until then this contest must be carried on with every weapon which
wisdom and craft can place in our hands. I think my weapons are good and
sharp, well fitted to give a telling thrust; and yet they are so simple,
so threadbare--a cunning fortune-teller, a love-sick fool, a noble
coquette, and a poor prisoner! these are my only weapons, and with
these I will defeat the man whom his flatterers call the heroic King of
Prussia.” He laughed aloud, but it was a ferocious, threatening laugh,
which shocked himself.

“Down, down, ye evil spirits,” said he; “do not press forward so boldly
to my lips; they are consecrated now to soft words and tender sighs
alone. Silence, ye demons! creep back into my heart, and there, from
some dark corner, you can hear and see if my great role is well played.
It is time! it is time! I must once more prove my weapons.”

He stepped to the glass and looked thoughtfully at his face, examined
his eyes, his lips, to see if they betrayed the dark passions of his
soul; then arranged his dark hair in soft, wavy lines over his brow; he
rang for his servant, put on his Austrian uniform, and buckled on the
sword. The king had been gracious enough to allow the captive officers
in Berlin to wear their swords, only requiring their word of honor that
they would never use them again in this war. When Count Ranuzi, the
captive Austrian captain, had completed his toilet, he took his hat
and entered the street. Ranuzi had now assumed a careless, indifferent
expression; he greeted the acquaintances who met him with a friendly
smile, uttering to each a few kindly words or gay jests. He reached, at
last, a small and insignificant house in the Frederick Street, opened
the door which was only slightly closed, and entered the hall; at the
same moment a side door opened, and a lady sprang forward, with extended
arms, to meet the count.

“Oh, my angel,” said she, in that soft Italian tongue, so well suited to
clothe love’s trembling sighs in words--“oh, my angel, are you here at
last? I saw your noble, handsome face, from my window; it seemed to me
that my room was illuminated with glorious sunshine, and my heart and
soul were warmed.”

Ranuzi made no answer to these glowing words, silently he suffered
himself to be led forward by the lady, then replied to her ardent
assurances by a few cool, friendly words.

“You are alone to-day, Marietta,” said he, “and your husband will not
interrupt our conversation.”

“My husband!” said she, reproachfully, “Taliazuchi is not my husband.
I despise him; I know nothing of him; I am even willing that he should
know I adore you.”

“Oh woman, woman!” said Ranuzi, laughing; “how treacherous, how
dangerous you are! When you love happily, you are like the anaconda,
whose poisonous bite one need not fear, when it is well fed and tended,
but when you have ceased to love, you are like the tigress who, rashly
awaked from sleep, would strangle the unfortunate who disturbed her
repose. Come, my anaconda, come; if you are satisfied with my love, let
us talk and dream.” He drew her tenderly toward him, and, kissing her
fondly, seated her by his side; but Marietta glided softly to his feet.

“Let it be so,” she said; “let me lie at your feet; let me adore you,
and read in your face the history of these last three terrible days, in
which I have not seen you. Where were you, Carlo? why have you forgotten
me?”

“Ah,” said he, laughing, “my anaconda begins to hunger for my heart’s
blood! how long before she will be ready to devour or to murder me?”

“Do not call me your anaconda,” she said, shaking her head; “you say
that, when we are satisfied with your love, we are like the sleeping
anaconda. But, Carlo, when I look upon you, I thirst for your glances,
your sweet words, your assurances of love. And has it not been thus all
my life long? Have I not loved you since I was capable of thought and
feeling? Oh, do you remember our happy, glorious childhood, Carlo? those
days of sunshine, of fragrance, of flowers, of childish innocence?
Do you remember how often we have wandered hand in hand through the
Campagna, talking of God, of the stars, and of the flowers?--dreaming
of the time in which the angels and the stars would float down into our
hearts, and change the world into a paradise for us?”

“Ah! we had a bitter awaking from these fair dreams,” said Ranuzi,
thoughtfully. “My father placed me in a Jesuit college; your mother sent
you to a cloister, that the nuns might make of you a public singer. We
had both our own career to make, Marietta; you upon the stage, I on the
confessor’s stool. We were the poor children of poor parents, and
every path was closed to us but one, the church and the stage; our wise
parents knew this.”

“And they separated us,” sighed Marietta; “they crushed out the first
modest flame of our young, pure hearts, and made us an example of their
greed! Ah, Carlo; you can never know how much I suffered, how bitterly I
wept on your account. I was only twelve years old, but I loved you with
all the strength and ardor of a woman, and longed after you as after a
lost paradise. The nuns taught me to sing; and when my clear, rich voice
pealed through the church halls, no one knew that not God’s image, but
yours, was in my heart; that I was worshipping you with my hymns of
praise and pious fervor. I knew that we were forever separated, could
never belong to each other, so I prayed to God to lend swift wings to
time, that we might become independent and free, I as a singer and you
as my honored confessor.”

Ranuzi laughed merrily. “But fate was unpropitious,” said he. “The
pious fathers discovered that I had too little eloquence to make a good
priest; in short, that I was better fitted to serve holy mother Church
upon the battle-field. When I was a man and sufficiently learned, they
obtained a commission for me as officer in the Pope’s body-guard, and I
exchanged the black robe of my order for the gold-embroidered uniform.”

“And you forgot me, Carlo? you did not let me know where you were? Five
years after, when I was engaged in Florence as a singer, I learned what
had become of you. I loved you always, Carlo; but what hope had I
ever to tell you so? we were so far away from each other, and poverty
separated us so widely. I must first become rich, you must make your
career. Only then might we hope to belong to each other. I waited and
was silent.”

“You waited and were silent till you forgot me,” said Ranuzi, playing
carelessly with her long, soft curls; “and, having forgotten me, you
discovered that Signer Taliazuchi was a tolerably pretty fellow, whom it
was quite possible to love.”

“Taliazuchi understood how to flatter my vanity,” said she, gloomily;
“he wrote beautiful and glowing poems in my praise, which were printed
and read not only in Florence, but throughout all Italy. When he
declared his love and pleaded for my hand, I thought, if I refused him,
he would persecute me and hate me; that mockery and ridicule would take
the place of the enthusiastic hymns in my praise, with which Italy
then resounded. I was too ambitious to submit to this, and had not
the courage to refuse him, so I became his wife, and in becoming so,
I abhorred him, and I swore to make him atone for having forced me to
become so.”

“But this force consisted only in hymns of praise and favorable
criticisms,” said Ranuzi, quietly.

“I have kept my oath,” said Marietta; “I have made him atone for what
he has done, and I have often thought that, when afterward compelled to
write poems in my favor, he cursed me in his heart; he would gladly have
crushed me by his criticisms, but that my fame was a fountain of gold
for him, which he dared not exhaust or dry up. But my voice had been
injured by too much straining, and a veil soon fell upon it. I could but
regard it as great good fortune when Count Algarotti proposed to me
to take the second place as singer in Berlin; this promised to be more
profitable, as the count carelessly offered Taliazuchi a place in the
opera troupe as writer. So I left my beautiful Italy; I left you to
amass gold in this cold north. And now, I no longer repent; I rejoice!
I have found you again--you, the beloved of my youth--you, my youth
itself. Oh, Heaven! never will I forget the day when I saw you passing.
I knew you in spite of the uniform, in spite of the many years which
had passed since we met. I knew you; and not my lips only, but my heart,
uttered that loud cry which caused you to look up, my Carlo. And now
you recognized me and stretched your hands out to me, and I would have
sprung to you from the window, had not Taliazuchi held me back. I cried
out, ‘It is Ranuzi! it is Carlo! I must, I will fly to him,’ when the
door opened and you entered and I saw you, my own beloved; I heard
your dear voice, and never did one of God’s poor creatures fall into a
happier insensibility than I in that rapturous moment.”

“And Taliazuchi stood by and smiled!” said Ranuzi, laughing; “it was
truly a pretty scene for an opera writer. He, no doubt, thought so,
and wished to take note of it, as he left the room when you awaked to
consciousness.”

“Since that time, I am only awake when in your presence,” said Marietta,
passionately. “When you are not near me, I sleep. You are the sun which
rouses me to life. When you leave me, it is night--dark night, and dark,
gloomy thoughts steal over me.”

“What thoughts, Marietta?” said he, placing his hand under her chin, and
raising her head gently.

She looked up at him with a curious, dreamy smile, but was silent.

“Well, what thoughts have you when I am not with you?” he repeated.

“I think it possible a day may come in which you will cease to love me.”

“And you think you will then fly to Taliazuchi for consolation?” said
Ranuzi, laughing.

“No; I think, or rather I fear that I will revenge myself; that I will
take vengeance on you for your unfaithfulness.”

“Ah! my tigress threatens!” cried Ranuzi. “Now, Marietta, you know well
that I shall never cease to love you, but a day will come when we will
be forced to separate.” She sprang up with a wild cry, and clasped him
stormily in her arms.

“No, no!” she cried, trembling and weeping; “no man shall dare to tear
you from me! We will never be separated!”

“You think, then, that I am not only your prisoner for life, but also
the eternal prisoner of the King of Prussia?”

“No, no! you shall be free--free! but Marietta will also be free, and
by your side. When you leave Berlin, I go with you; no power can bind me
here. Taliazuchi will not seek me, if I leave him my little fortune.
I will do that; I will take nothing with me. Poor, without fortune or
possessions, I will follow you, Ranuzi. I desire nothing, I hope for
nothing, but to be by your side.”

She clasped him in her arms, and did not remark the dark cloud which
shadowed his brow, but this vanished quickly, and his countenance
assumed a kind and clear expression. “It shall be so, Marietta! Freedom
shall unite us both eternally, death only shall separate us! But when
may we hope for this great, this glorious, this beautiful hour? When
will the blessed day dawn in which I can take your hand and say to you,
‘Come, Marietta, come; the world belongs to us and our love. Let us fly
and enjoy our happiness.’ Oh, beloved, if you truly love me, help me to
snatch this happy day from fate! Stand by me with your love, that I may
attain my freedom.”

“Tell me what I can do, and it is done,” said she resolutely; “there is
nothing I will not undertake and dare for you.”

Ranuzi took her small head in his hands and gazed long and smilingly
into her glowing face.

“Are you sure of yourself?” said he.

“I am sure. Tell me, Carlo, what I must do, and it is done.”

“And if it is dangerous, Marietta?”

“I know but one danger.”

“What is that?”

“To lose your love, Carlo!”

“Then this world has no danger for you, Marietta!”

“Speak, Carlo, speak! How can I aid you? What can I do to obtain your
liberty?”

Ranuzi threw a quick and searching glance around the room, as if to
convince himself that they were alone, then bowed down close to her ear
and whispered:

“I can never be free till the King of Prussia is completely conquered
and subjected, and only if I bring all my strength and capabilities to
this object, may I hope to be free, and rich, and honored. The King
of Prussia is my enemy, he is the enemy of the Church, the enemy of my
gracious sovereign of Austria, to whom I have sworn fealty. A man may
strive to conquer his enemies with every weapon, even with craft. Will
you stand by me in this?”

“I will.”

“Then observe and listen, and search all around you. Repeat to me all
that you hear and see--seem to be an enthusiastic adherent of the King
of Prussia; you will then be confided in and know all that is taking
place. Be kind and sympathetic to your husband; he is a sincere follower
of the king, and has free intercourse with many distinguished persons;
he is also well received at court. Give yourself the appearance of
sympathizing in all his sentiments. When you attend the concerts at
the castle, observe all that passes--every laugh, every glance,
every indistinct word, and inform me of all. Do you understand,
Marietta?--will you do this?”

“I understand, Carlo, and I will do this. Is this all? Can I do nothing
more to help you?”

“Yes, there are other things, but they are more difficult, more
dangerous.”

“So much the better; the more dangerous the stronger the proof of my
love. Speak, dear Carlo!”

“It is forbidden for the captive officers to send sealed letters to
their friends or relatives. All our letters must be read, and if a word
of politics is found in them, they are condemned. All other persons
have the right to send sealed letters in every direction. Have you not
friends to whom you write, Marietta?”

“I have, and from this time onward your friends will be mine, and I will
correspond with them.”

As she said this, with a roguish smile, a ray of joy lighted up Ranuzi’s
eyes.

“You understand me, my beloved; your intellect is as clear and sharp
as your heart is warm and noble. Think well what you do--what danger
threatens you. I tell you plainly, Marietta, this is no question of
common friendly letters, but of the most earnest, grave, important
interests!”

She bowed to his ear and whispered: “All that you espy in Berlin you
will confide to these letters; you will concert with your friends,
you will design plans, perhaps make conspiracies. I will address these
letters and take them to the post, and no one will mistrust me, for
my letters will be addressed to some friends in Vienna, or to whom you
will. Have I understood you, Carlo? Is this all right?”

He clasped her rapturously in his arms, and the words of tender
gratitude which he expressed were not entirely wanting in sincerity and
truth.

Marietta was proudly happy, and listened with sparkling eyes to his
honeyed words.

As Ranuzi, however, after this long interview, arose to say farewell,
she held him back. Laying her hands upon his shoulder, she looked at him
with a curious expression, half laughing, half threatening.

“One last word, Carlo,” she said; “I love you boundlessly. To prove my
love to you, I become a traitress to this king, who has been a gracious
master to me, whose bread I eat--who received and protects me. To prove
my love, I become a spy, an informer. Men say this is dishonorable work,
but for myself I feel proud and happy to undertake it for you, and not
for all the riches and treasures of this world would I betray you.
But, Carlo, if you ever cease to love me, if you deceive me and become
unfaithful, as true as God helps me, I will betray both myself and you!”

“I believe truly she is capable of it,” said Ranuzi, as he reached the
street; “she is a dangerous woman, and with her love and hate she is
truly like a tigress. Well, I must be on my guard. If she rages I must
draw her teeth, so that she cannot bite, or flee from her furious leaps.
But this danger is in the distance, the principal thing is that I have
opened a way to my correspondence, and that is immense progress in my
plans, for which I might well show my gratitude to my tender Marietta by
a few caresses.”



CHAPTER IV. LOUISE DU TROUFFLE.


Madame du Trouffle paced her room restlessly; she listened to every
stroke of the clock, every sound made her tremble.

“He comes not! he comes not!” murmured she; “he received my irony of
yesterday in earnest and is exasperated. Alas! am I really an old woman?
Have I no longer the power to enchain, to attract? Can it be that I am
old and ugly? No, no! I am but thirty-four years of age--that is not old
for a married woman, and as to being ugly--”

She interrupted herself, stepped hastily to the glass, and looked long
and curiously at her face.

Yes, yes! she must confess her beauty was on the wane. She was more
faded than her age would justify. Already was seen around her mouth
those yellow, treacherous lines which vanished years imprint upon the
face; already her brow was marked with light lines, and silver threads
glimmered in her hair.

Louise du Trouffle sighed heavily.

“I was too early married, and then unhappily married; at eighteen I was
a mother. All this ages a woman--not the years but the storms of life
have marked these fearful lines in my face. Then it is not possible for
a man to feel any warm interest in me when he sees a grown-up daughter
by my side, who will soon be my rival, and strive with me for the homage
of men. This is indeed exasperating. Oh, my God! my God! a day may come
in which I may be jealous of my own daughter! May Heaven guard me from
that! Grant that I may see her fresh and blooming beauty without rancor;
that I may think more of her happiness than my vanity.”

Then, as if she would strengthen her good resolutions, Louise left her
room and hastened to the chamber of her daughter.

Camilla lay upon the divan--her slender and beauteous form was wrapped
in soft white drapery; her shining, soft dark hair fell around her rosy
face and over her naked shoulders, with whose alabaster whiteness
it contrasted strongly. Camilla was reading, and so entirely was she
occupied with her book that she did not hear her mother enter.

Louise drew softly near the divan, and stood still, lost in admiration
at this lovely, enchanting picture, this reposing Hebe.

“Camilla,” said she, fondly, “what are you reading so eagerly?”

Camilla started and looked up suddenly, then laughed aloud.

“Ah, mamma,” said she, in a silver, clear, and soft voice, “how you
frightened me! I thought it was my tyrannical governess already returned
from her walk, and that she had surprised me with this book.”

“Without doubt she forbade you to read it,” said her mother, gravely,
stretching out her hand for the book, but Camilla drew it back suddenly.

“Yes, certainly, Madame Brunnen forbade me to read this book; but that
is no reason, mamma, why you should take it away from me. It is to be
hoped you will not play the stern tyrant against your poor Camilla.”

“I wish to know what you are reading, Camilla.”

“Well, then, Voltaire’s ‘Pucelle d’ Orleans,’ and I assure you, mamma, I
am extremely pleased with it.”

“Madame Brunnen was right to forbid you to read this book, and I also
forbid it.”

“And if I refuse to obey, mamma?”

“I will force you to obedience,” cried her mother, sternly.

“Did any one succeed in forcing you to obey your mother?” said Camilla,
in a transport of rage. “Did your mother give her consent to your
elopement with the garden-boy? You chose your own path in life, and I
will choose mine. I will no longer bear to be treated as a child--I am
thirteen years old; you were not older when you had the affair with the
garden-boy, and were forced to confide yourself to my father. Why do you
wish in treat me as a little child, and keep me in leading-strings, when
I am a grown-up girl?”

“You are no grown-up girl, Camilla,” cried her mother; “if you were, you
would not dare to speak to your mother as you have done: you would know
that it was unseemly, and that, above all other things, you should show
reverence and obedience to your mother. No, Camilla, God be thanked! you
are but a foolish child, and therefore I forgive you.”

Louise drew near her daughter and tried to clasp her tenderly in her
arms, but Camilla struggled roughly against it.

“You shall not call me a child,” said she, rudely. “I will no longer
bear it! it angers me! and if you repeat it, mamma, I will declare to
every one that I am sixteen years old!”

“And why will you say that, Camilla?”

Camilla looked up with a cunning smile.

“Why?” she repeated, “ah! you think I do not know why I must
always remain a child? It is because you wish to remain a young
woman--therefore you declare to all the world that I am but twelve years
old! But no one believes you, mamma, not one believes you. The world
laughs at you, but you do not see it--you think you are younger when you
call me a child. I say to you I will not endure it! I will be a
lady--I will adorn myself and go into society. I will not remain in the
school-room with a governess while you are sparkling in the saloon
and enchanting your followers by your beauty. I will also have my
worshippers, who pay court to me; I will write and receive love-letters
as other maidens do; I will carry on my own little love-affairs as all
other girls do; as you did, from the time you were twelve years old, and
still do!”

“Silence, Camilla! or I will make you feel that you are still a child!”
 cried Louise, raising her arm threateningly and approaching the divan.

“Would you strike me, mother?” said she, with trembling lips. “I counsel
you not to do it. Raise your hand once more against me, but think of the
consequences. I will run away! I will fly to my poor, dear father, whom
you, unhappy one, have made a drunkard! I will remain with him--he loves
me tenderly. If I were with him, he would no longer drink.”

“Oh, my God, my God!” cried Louise, with tears gushing from her eyes;
“it is he who has planted this hate in her heart--he has been the cause
of all my wretchedness! She loves her father who has done nothing for
her, and she hates her mother who has shown her nothing but love.”
 With a loud cry of agony, she clasped her hands over her face and wept
bitterly.

Camilla drew close to her, grasped her hands and pulled them forcibly
from her face, then looked in her eyes passionately and scornfully.
Camilla was indeed no longer a child. She stood erect, pale, and
fiercely excited, opposite to her mother. Understanding and intellect
flashed from her dark eyes. There were lines around her mouth which
betrayed a passion and a power with which childhood has nothing to do.

“You say you have shown me nothing but love,” said Camilla, in a cold
and cutting tone. “Mother, what love have you shown me? You made my
father wretched, and my childish years were spent under the curse of
a most unhappy marriage. I have seen my father weep while you were
laughing merrily--I have seen him drunk and lying like a beast at my
feet, while you were in our gay saloon receiving and entertaining guests
with cool unconcern. You say you have shown me nothing but love. You
never loved me, mother, never! Had you loved me, you would have taken
pity with my future--you would not have given me a step-father while I
had a poor, dear father, who had nothing in the wide world but me, me
alone! You think perhaps, mother, that I am not unhappy; while I am
giddy and play foolish pranks, you believe me to be happy and contented.
Ah, mother, I have an inward horror and prophetic fear of the future
which never leaves me; it seems to me that evil spirits surround me--as
if they enchanted me with strange, alluring songs. I know they will
work my destruction, but I cannot withstand them--I must listen, I must
succumb to them. I would gladly be different--be better. I desire to be
a virtuous and modest girl, but alas, alas, I cannot escape from this
magic circle to which my mother has condemned me! I have lived too fast,
experienced too much--I am no longer a child--I am an experienced woman.
The world and the things of the world call me with a thousand alluring
voices, and I shall be lost as my mother was lost! I am her most unhappy
daughter, and her blood is in my heart!” Almost insensible, crushed by
excitement and passion, Camilla sank to the earth.

Her mother looked at her with cold and tearless eyes; her hair seemed
to stand erect, and a cold, dead hand seemed placed upon her heart and
almost stilled its beatings. “I have deserved this,” murmured she; “God
punishes the levity of my youth through my own child.” She bowed down to
her daughter and raised her softly in her arms.

“Come, my child,” she said, tenderly, “we will forget this hour--we will
strive to live in love and harmony with each other. You are right!
You are no longer a child, and I will think of introducing you to the
world.”

“And you will dismiss Madame Brunnen,” said Camilla, gayly. “Oh, mamma,
you have no idea how she tortures and martyrs me with her Argus-eyes,
and watches me day and night. Will you not dismiss her, mamma, and take
no other governess?”

“I will think of it,” said her mother, sadly. But now a servant entered
and announced Count Ranuzi. Madame du Trouffle blushed, and directed the
servant to conduct him to the parlor.

Camilla looked at her roguishly, and said: “If you really think me a
grown-up girl, take me with you to the parlor.”

Madame du Trouffle refused. “You are not properly dressed, and besides,
I have important business with the count.”

Camilla turned her back scornfully, and her mother left the room;
Camilla returned to the sofa and Madame du Trouffle entered the saloon.
In the levity and frivolity of their hearts they had both forgotten this
sad scene in the drama of a demoralized family life; such scenes had
been too often repeated to make any lasting impression.

Madame du Trouffle found Count Ranuzi awaiting her. He came forward with
such a joyous greeting, that she was flattered, and gave him her hand
with a gracious smile. She said triumphantly to herself that the power
of her charms was not subdued, since the handsome and much admired
Ranuzi was surely captivated by them.

The count had pleaded yesterday for an interview, and he had done this
with so mysterious and melancholy a mien, that the gay and sportive
Louise had called him the Knight of Toggenberg, and had asked him
plaintively if he was coming to die at her feet.

“Possibly,” he answered, with grave earnestness--“possibly, if you are
cruel enough to refuse the request I prefer.”

These words had occupied the thoughts of this vain coquette during the
whole night; she was convinced that Ranuzi, ravished by her beauty,
wished to make her a declaration, and she had been hesitating whether to
reject or encourage him. As he advanced so gracefully and smilingly to
meet her, she resolved to encourage him and make him forget the mockery
of yesterday.

Possibly Ranuzi read this in her glance, but he did not regard it; he
had attained his aim--the interview which he desired. “Madame,” said he,
“I come to make honorable amends, and to plead at your feet for pardon.”
 He bowed on one knee, and looked up beseechingly.

Louise found that his languishing and at the same time glowing eyes were
very beautiful, and she was entirely ready to be gracious, although she
did not know the offence. “Stand up, count,” said she, “and let us talk
reasonably together. What have you done, and for what must I forgive
you?”

“You annihilate me with your magnanimity,” sighed Ranuzi. “You are
so truly noble as to have forgotten my boldness of yesterday, and you
choose to forget that the poor, imprisoned soldier, intoxicated by your
beauty, carried away by your grace and amiability, has dared to love you
and to confess it. But I swear to you, madame, I will never repeat this
offence. The graceful mockery and keen wit with which you punished me
yesterday has deeply moved me, and I assure you, madame, you have had
more influence over me than any prude with her most eloquent sermon on
virtue could have done. I have seen my crime, and never again will my
lips dare to confess what lives and glows in my heart.” He took her hand
and kissed it most respectfully.

Louise was strangely surprised, and it seemed to her not at all
necessary for the count to preserve so inviolable a silence as to his
love; but she was obliged to appear pleased, and she did this with
facility and grace.

“I thank you,” she said, gayly, “that you have freed me from a lover
whom, as the wife of Major du Trouffle, I should have been compelled
to banish from my house. Now I dare give a pleasant, kindly welcome, to
Count Ranuzi, and be ready at all times to serve him gladly.”

Ranuzi looked steadily at her. “Will you truly do this?” said he,
sighing--“will you interest yourself for a poor prisoner, who has no one
to hear and sympathize in his sorrows?”

Louise gave him her hand. “Confide in me, sir count,” said she, with an
impulse of her better nature; “make known your sorrows, and be assured
that I will take an interest in them. You are so prudent and reasonable
as not to be my lover, and I will be your friend. Here is my hand--I
offer you my friendship; will you accept, it?”

“Will I accept it?” said he, rapturously; “you offer me life, and ask if
I will accept it!”

Louise smiled softly. She found that Ranuzi declared his friendship in
almost as glowing terms as he had confessed his love. “So then,” said
she, “you have sorrows that you dare not name?”

“Yes, but they are not my own individual griefs I suffer, but it is for
another.”

“That sounds mysterious. For whom do you suffer?”

“For a poor prisoner, who, far from the world, far from the haunts of
men, languishes in wretchedness and chains--whom not only men but God
has forgotten, for He will not even send His minister Death to release
him. I cannot, I dare not say more--it is not my secret, and I have
sworn to disclose it to but one person.”

“And this person--”

“Is the Princess Amelia of Prussia,” said Ranuzi. Louise shrank back,
and looked searchingly at the count. “A sister of the king! And you say
that your secret relates to a poor prisoner?”

“I said so. Oh, my noble, magnanimous friend, do not ask me to say
more; I dare not, but I entreat you to help me. I must speak with the
princess. You are her confidante and friend, you alone can obtain me an
interview.”

“It is impossible! impossible!” cried Madame du Trouffle, rising up and
pacing the room hastily. Ranuzi followed her with his eyes, observed
every movement, and read in her countenance every emotion of her soul.

“I will succeed,” said he to himself, and proud triumph swelled his
heart.

Louise drew near and stood before him.

“Listen,” said she, gravely; “it is a daring, a dangerous enterprise
in which you wish to entangle me--doubly dangerous for me, as the king
suspects me, and he would never forgive it if he should learn that I had
dared to act against his commands, and to assist the Princess Amelia to
save an unhappy wretch whom he had irretrievably condemned. I know well
who this prisoner is, but do not call his name--it is dangerous to speak
it, even to think it. I be long not to the confidantes of the princess
in this matter, and I do not desire it. Speak no more of the prisoner,
but of yourself. You wish to be presented to the princess. Why not apply
to Baron Pollnitz?”

“I have not gold enough to bribe him; and, besides that, he is a
babbler, and purchasable. To-morrow he would betray me.”

“You are right; and he could not obtain you a secret interview. One
of the maids of honor must always be present, and the princess is
surrounded by many spies. But there is a means, and it lies in my hands.
Listen!”

Louise bowed and whispered.

Ranuzi’s face sparkled with triumph.

“To-morrow, then,” said he, as he withdrew.

“To-morrow,” said Louise, “expect me at the castle gate, and be
punctual.”



CHAPTER V. THE FORTUNE-TELLER.


The heavy curtains were drawn down, and a gloomy twilight reigned in
this great, silent room, whose dreary stillness was only interrupted by
the monotonous stroke of the clock, and the deep sighs and lamentations
which came from the sofa in a distant part of the room. There in the
corner, drawn up convulsively and motionless, lay a female form, her
hands clasped over her breast, her eyes fixed staringly toward heaven,
and from time to time uttering words of grief and scorn and indignation.

She was alone in her anguish--ever alone; she had been alone for many
years; grief and disappointment had hardened her heart, and made it
insensible to all sorrows but her own. She hated men, she hated the
world, she railed at those who were gay and happy, she had no pity for
those who wept and mourned.

Had she not suffered more? Did she not still suffer? Who had been
merciful, who had pitied her sorrows? Look now at this poor, groaning
woman! Do you recognize these fearful features, deformed by sickness
and grief; these blood-shot eyes, these thin, colorless lips, ever
convulsively pressed together, as if to suppress a wild shriek of agony,
which are only unclosed to utter cold, harsh words of scorn and passion?
Do you know this woman? Has this poor, unhappy, deformed being any
resemblance to the gay, beautiful, intellectual Princess Amelia, whom
we once knew? and yet this is the Princess Amelia. How have the mighty
fallen! Look at the transforming power of a few sorrowful years! The
sister of a mighty hero king, but a poor desolate creature, shunned and
avoided by all: she knows that men fly from her, and she will have it
so; she will be alone--lonely in the midst of the world, even as he is,
in the midst of his dark and gloomy prison. Amelia calls the whole world
her prison; she often says to herself that her soul is shut in behind
the iron bars of her body and can never be delivered, that her heart
lies upon the burning gridiron of the base world, and cannot escape, it
is bound there with the same chains which are around about and hold him
in captivity.

But Amelia says this only to herself, she desires no sympathy, she
knows no one will dare to pity her. Destiny placed her high in rank and
alone--alone she will remain; her complaints might perhaps bring new
danger to him she loves, of whom alone she thinks, for whose sake alone
she supports existence, she lives only for him. Can this be called life?
A perpetual hope--and yet hopeless--a constant watching and listening
for one happy moment, which never comes! She had not been permitted
to live for him, she would not die without him. So long as he lived
he might need her aid, and might call upon her for help in the hour of
extremest need, so she would not die.

She was not wholly dead, but her youth, her heart, her peace, her
illusions, her hopes were dead; she was opposed to all that lived, to
the world, to all mankind. In the wide world she loved but two persons:
one, who languished in prison and who suffered for her sake, Frederick
von Trenck; the other, he who had made her wretched and who had the
power to liberate Trenck and restore their peace--the king. Amelia had
loved her mother, but she was dead; grief at the lost battle of Collin
killed her. She had loved her sister, the Margravine of Baireuth; but
she died of despair at the lost battle of Hochkirch. Grief and the anger
and contempt of the king had killed her brother, the Prince Augustus
William of Prussia. She was therefore alone, alone! Her other sisters
were far away; they were happy, and with the happy she had nothing to
do; with them she had no sympathy. Her two brothers were in the field,
they thought not of her. There was but one who remembered her, and he
was under the earth--not dead, but buried--buried alive. The blackness
of thick darkness is round about him, but he is not blind; there is
glorious sunshine, but he sees it not.

These fearful thoughts had crushed Amelia’s youth, her mind, her life;
she stood like a desolate ruin under the wreck of the past. The rude
storms of life whistled over her, and she laughed them to scorn; she had
no more to fear--not she; if an oak fell, if a fair flower was crushed,
her heart was glad; her own wretchedness had made her envious and
malicious; perhaps she concealed her sympathy, under this seeming
harshness; perhaps she gave herself the appearance of proud reserve,
knowing that she was feared and avoided. Whoever drew near her was
observed and suspected; the spies of the king surrounded her and kept
her friends, if she had friends, far off. Perhaps Amelia would have been
less unhappy if she had fled for shelter to Him who is the refuge of all
hearts; if she had turned to her God in her anguish and despair. But
she was not a pious believer, like the noble and patient Elizabeth
Christine, the disdained wife of Frederick the Great.

Princess Amelia was the true sister of the king, the pupil of Voltaire;
she mocked at the church and scorned the consolations of religion.
She also was forced to pay some tribute to her sex; she failed in the
strong, self-confident, intellectual independence of Frederick;
her poor, weak, trembling hands wandered around seeking support;
as religion, in its mighty mission, was rejected, she turned for
consolation to superstition. While Elizabeth Christine prayed, Amelia
tried her fortune with cards; while the queen gathered around her
ministers of the gospel and pious scholars, the princess called to the
prophets and fortune-tellers. While Elizabeth found comfort in reading
the Holy Scriptures, Amelia found consolation in the mystical and
enigmatical words of her sooth-sayers. While the queen translated
sermons and pious hymns into French, Amelia wrote down carefully all
the prophecies of her cards, her coffee-grounds, and the stars, and both
ladies sent their manuscripts to the king.

Frederick received them both with a kindly and pitiful smile. The pious
manuscript of the queen was laid aside unread, but the oracles of the
princess were carefully looked over. Perhaps this was done in pity for
the poor, wounded spirit which found distraction in such child’s play.
It is certain that when the king wrote to the princess, he thanked her
for her manuscripts, and asked her to continue to send them. [Footnote:
Thiebault, p. 279.] But he also demanded perfect silence as to this
strange correspondence; he feared his enemies might falsely interpret
his consideration for the weakness of the princess; they might suppose
that he needed these prophecies to lead him on to victory, as his
adversaries needed the consecrated sword.

This was one of the days on which the princess was accustomed to receive
her fortune-teller; she had been very angry when told that she was under
arrest; neither the prophet nor the fortune-teller were at liberty, and
the princess was not able to obtain their release. She would, therefore,
have been compelled to forego her usual occupation for the evening, had
not Madame du Trouffle come to her aid. Louise had written that morning
to the princess, and asked permission to introduce a new soothsayer,
whose prophecies astonished the world, as, so far, they had been
literally fulfilled. Amelia received this proposition joyfully, and now
waited impatiently for Madame du Trouffle and the soothsayer; but
she was yet alone, it was not necessary to hide her grief in stoical
indifference, to still the groans of agony which, like the last sighs
from a death-bed, rang from her breast.

The princess suffered not only from mental anguish; her body was as sick
as her soul. The worm gnawing at her heart was also devouring her body;
but neither for body nor soul would she accept a physician, she refused
all sympathy for intellectual and physical pain. Amelia suffered and was
silent, and only when as now she was certain there was no eye to see, no
ear to hear her complaints, did she give utterance to them. And now the
maid entered and announced Madame du Trouffle and the prophet.

“Let them enter,” said the princess in a hollow, death-like voice; “let
them enter, and remain yourself, Fraulein Lethow; the soothsayer shall
tell your fortune.”

The door opened, and Madame du Trouffle entered. She was gay and lovely
as ever, and drew near the princess with a charming smile. Amelia
returned her salutation coldly and carelessly.

“How many hours have you spent at your toilet to-day?” said she,
roughly; “and where do you buy the rouge with which you have painted
your cheeks?”

“Ah, your royal highness,” said Louise, smiling, “Nature has been kind
to me, and has painted my cheeks with her own sweet and cunning hand.”

“Then Nature is in covenant with you, and helps you to deceive yourself
to imagine that you are yet young. I am told that your daughter is grown
up and wondrously beautiful, and that only when you stand near her is it
seen how old and ugly you are.”

Louise knew the rancor of the unhappy princess, and she knew no one
could approach her without being wounded--that the undying worm in her
soul was only satisfied with the blood it caused to flow. The harsh
words of the princess had no sting for her. “If I were truly old,” said
she, “I would live in my daughter: she is said to be my image, and when
she is praised, I feel myself flattered.”

“A day will come when she will be blamed and you will also be
reproached,” murmured Amelia. After a pause she said: “So you have
brought me another deceiver who declares himself a prophet?”

“I do not believe him to be an impostor, your highness. He has given me
convincing proofs of his inspiration.”

“What sort of proofs? How can these people who prophesy of the future
prove that they are inspired?”

“He has not told me of the future, but of the past,” said Louise.

“Has he had the courage to recall any portion of your past to you?” said
the princess, with a coarse laugh.

“Many droll and merry portions, your highness, and it is to be regretted
that they were all true,” she said, with comic pathos.

“Bring in this soothsayer, Fraulein von Lethow. He shall prophesy of
you: I think you have not, like Madame du Trouffle, any reason to fear a
picture of your past.”

The prophet entered. He was wrapped in a long black robe, which was
gathered around his slender form by a black leathern girdle covered with
curious and strange figures and emblems; raven black hair fell around
his small, pale face; his eyes burned with clouded fire, and flashed
quickly around the room. With head erect and proud bearing, he drew near
the princess, and only when very near did he salute her, and in a sweet,
soft, melodious voice, asked why she wished to see him.

“If you are truly a prophet, you will know my reasons.”

“Would you learn of the past?” said he, solemnly.

“And why not first of the future?”

“Because your highness distrusts me and would prove me. Will you permit
me to take my cards? If you allow it, I will first prophesy to this
lady.” He took a mass of soiled, curiously painted cards, and spread
them out before him on the table. He took the hand of Fraulein Lethow
and seemed to read it earnestly; and now, in a low, musical voice, he
related little incidents of the past. They were piquant little anecdotes
which had been secretly whispered at the court, but which no one dared
to speak aloud, as Fraulein Lethow passed for a model of virtue and
piety.

She received these developments of the prophet with visible scorn. In
place of laughing, and by smiling indifference bringing their truth in
question, she was excited and angry, and thus prepared for the princess
some gay and happy moments.

“I dare not decide,” said Amelia, as the prophet ceased, “whether what
you have told is true or false. Fraulein Lethow alone can know that;
but she will not be so cruel as to call you an impostor, for that would
prevent me from having my fortune told. Allow me, therefore, to believe
that you have spoken the truth. Now take your cards and shuffle them.”

“Does your highness wish that I should tell you of the past?” said the
soothsayer, in a sharp voice.

The princess hesitated. “Yes,” said she, “of my past. But no; I will
first hear a little chapter out of the life of my chaste and modest
Louise. Now, now, madame, you have nothing to fear; you are pure and
innocent, and this little recitation of your by-gone days will seem to
us a chapter from ‘La Pucelle d’Orleans.’”

“I dare to oppose myself to this lecture,” said Louise, laughing. “There
are books which should only be read in solitude, and to that class
belong the volumes of my past life. I am ready in the presence of
your highness to have my future prophesied, but of my past I will hear
nothing--I know too much already.”

“Had I been alone with Fraulein Lethow, I should have told her many
other things, and she would have been forced to believe in my power.
Only when these cards are under your eyes is my spirit clear.”

“I must, then, in order to know the whole truth from you, be entirely
alone?” said the princess.

The prophet bowed silently. Amelia fixed a piercing glance upon him, and
nodded to her ladies.

“Go into the next room,” said she. “And now,” said the princess, “you
can begin.”

The magician, instead of taking the cards, knelt before the princess and
kissed the hem of her robe. “I pray for mercy and forgiveness,” said
he; “I am nothing but a poor impostor! In order to reach the presence
of your royal highness, I have disguised myself under this mask, which
alone made it possible. But I swear to you, princess, no one knows of
this attempt, no one can ever know it--I alone am guilty. Pardon, then,
princess--pardon for this bold act. I was forced to this step--forced to
clasp your knees--to implore you in your greatness and magnanimity, to
stand by me! I was impelled irresistibly, for I had sworn a fearful oath
to do this thing.”

“To whom have you sworn?” said the princess, sternly. “Who are you? what
do you ask of me?”

“I am Count Ranuzi, Austrian captain and prisoner of war. I implore you,
noble princess, to have mercy upon a poor, helpless prisoner, consumed
with grief and despair. God and the world have forsaken him, but he has
one protecting angel in whom he trusts, to whom he prays--and her name
is Amelia! He is bound in chains like a wild beast--a hard stone is his
couch, and a vault beneath is his grave--he is living and buried--his
heart lives and heaves and calls to you, princess, for rescue.”

The Princess Amelia shrank back trembling and groaning on the sofa; her
eyes were wide open, and staring in the distance. After a long pause,
she said, slowly: “Call his name.”

“Frederick von Trenck!”

Amelia shuddered, and uttered a low cry. “Trenck!” repeated she, softly;
“oh, what sad melody lies in that word! It is like the death-cry of my
youth. I think the very air must weep when this name vibrates upon it.
Trenck, Trenck! How beautiful, how lovely that sounds; it is a sweet,
harmonious song; it sings to me softly of the only happiness of my life.
Ah, how long, how long since this song was silenced! All within me is
desolate! On every side my heart is torn--on every side! Oh, so drear,
so fearful! All! all!” Lost in her own thoughts, these words had been
slowly uttered. She had forgotten that she was not alone with her
remembrances, which like a cloud had gathered round about her and shut
off the outward world.

Ranuzi did not dare to recall her thoughts--he still knelt at her feet.

Suddenly her whole frame trembled, and she sprang up. “My God! I dream,
while he calls me! I am idly musing, and Trenck has need of me. Speak,
sir, speak! What do you know of him? Have you seen him? Did he send you
to me?”

“He sent me, your highness, but I have not seen him. Have the grace to
listen to me. Ah, your highness, in what I now say I lay the safety of a
dear and valued friend, yes, his life, at your feet. One word from you,
and he will be delivered over to a court-martial and be shot. But you
will not speak that word--you are an angel of mercy.”

“Speak, sir--speak, sir,” said Amelia, breathlessly. “My God! do you not
see that I am dying from agitation?”

“Princess, Trenck lives--he is in chains--he is in a hole under the
earth--but he lives, and as long as he has life, he hopes in you--has
wild dreams of liberty, and his friends think and hope with him. Trenck
has friends who are ready to offer up their lives for him. One of them
is in the fortress of Magdeburg--he is lieutenant of the guard; another
is a Captain Kimsky, prisoner of war; I am a third. I have known Trenck
since my youth. In our beautiful days of mirth and revelry, we swore to
stand by each other in every danger. The moment has come to fulfil my
oath--Trenck is a prisoner, and I must help to liberate him. Our numbers
are few and dismembered--we need allies in the fortress, and still more
in the city. We need powerful assistance, and no one but your highness
can obtain it for us.”

“I have an assured and confidential friend in Magdeburg,” said the
princess; “at a hint from me he will be ready to stand by you to--”

Suddenly she was silent, and cast a searching, threatening glance at
Ranuzi. She had been too often deceived and circumvented--snares had
been too often laid at her feet--she was distrustful. “No, no,” said
she, at last, sternly, rudely--“I will take no part in this folly. Go,
sir--go. You are a poor soothsayer, and I will have nothing to do with
you.”

Ranuzi smiled, and drew a folded paper from his bosom, which he handed
to the princess. It contained these words: “Count Ranuzi is an honest
man--he can be trusted unconditionally.” Under these words was written:
“Nel tue giorni felici, vicordati da me.”

The breast of Amelia heaved convulsively--she gazed at these written
characters; at last her eyes filled with tears--at last her heart was
overcome by those painful and passionate feelings which she had so long
kept in bondage. She pressed the paper, the lines on which were written
with his blood, to her lips, and hot tears gushed from those poor eyes
which for long, long years, had lost the power to weep.

“Now, sir,” said she, “I believe in you, I trust you. Tell me what I
have to do.”

“Three things fail us, princess: A house in Magdeburg, where Trenck’s
friends can meet at all hours, and make all necessary preparations, and
where he can be concealed after his escape. Secondly, a few reliable and
confiding friends, who will unite with us and aid us. Thirdly, we must
have gold--we must bribe the guard, we must buy horses, we must buy
friends in the fortress, and lastly, we must buy French clothing.
Besides this, I must have permission to go for a few days to Magdeburg,
and there on the spot I can better make the final preparations. A
fair pretext shall not fail me for this; Captain Kimsky is my near
relative--he will be taken suddenly ill, and as a dying request he will
beg to see me; one of his comrades will bring me notice of this, and I
will turn imploringly to your highness.”

“I will obtain you a passport,” said Amelia, decisively.

“While in Magdeburg, the flight will be arranged.”

“And you believe you will succeed?” said the princess, with a bright
smile, which illuminated her poor deformed visage with a golden ray of
hope.

“I do not only believe it, I know it; that is, if your royal highness
will assist us.”

The princess made no reply; she stepped to her desk and took from it
several rolls of gold, then seated herself and wrote with a swift hand:
“You must trust the bearer fully, he is my friend; assist him in all
that he undertakes.” She folded the paper and sealed it.

Ranuzi followed every movement with flashing eyes and loudly beating
heart. As she took the pen to write the address a ray of wild triumph
lighted his dark face, and a proud smile played about his mouth. As
Amelia turned, all this disappeared, and he was dignified and grave as
before.

“Take this, sir,” said she; “you see that I place in your power a
faithful and beloved friend, he is lost if you are false. As soon as
you reach Magdeburg go to him, and he will make other friends and allies
known to you.”

“Can I make use of this address, and write under it to my friend
Kimsky?” said Ranuzi. “Yes, without danger. To-day I will find means
to inform him that he may expect this letter. Here is gold, two hundred
ducats, all that I have at present. When this is exhausted, turn again
to me and I will again supply you.”

Ranuzi took the gold and said, smilingly, “This is the magic means by
which we will break his chains.”

Amelia took a costly diamond pin, which lay upon the table, and gave it
to Ranuzi. She pointed to the paper marked with blood, which she still
held in her hand.

“This is a most precious jewel which you have given me--let us
exchange.”

Ranuzi fell upon his knees and kissed her hand as ho took the pin.

“And now, sir, go. My maid is a salaried spy, and a longer interview
would make you suspected. You would be watched, and all discovered. Go!
If I believed in the power of prayer, I would lie upon my knees night
and day, and pray for God’s blessing upon your effort. As it is, I can
only follow you with my thoughts and hopes. Farewell!”

“Your royal highness sends no reply to these lines, written with
Trenck’s heart’s blood?”

Amelia took the pen and wrote a few hasty lines upon the paper, which
she handed Ranuzi. The words were: “Ovunque tu sei vicina ti sono.”

“Give him that,” said she; “it is not written with my heart’s blood, but
my heart bleeds for him--bleeds ever inwardly. And now resume your role
of soothsayer--I must call my ladies.”

The afternoon of this day Ranuzi wrote to his friend, Captain Kimsky,
prisoner of war at Magdeburg: “The train is laid, and will succeed.
The fortress will soon be in our hands. A romantic, sentimental woman’s
heart is a good thing, easily moved to intrigues. Magdeburg will
be ours! Prepare everything--be ill, and call for me; I shall get a
passport. I have a powerful protectress, and with such, you know, a man
mar attain all the desires of his heart!”



CHAPTER VI. A COURT DAY IN BERLIN.


It was the birthday of Prince Henry, and was to be celebrated with
great pomp at the court. The king had himself written explicitly on
this subject to the master of ceremonies, Baron Pollnitz. Pollnitz was,
therefore, actively occupied in the early morning, and no general ever
made his preparations for a battle with more earnestness and importance
than the good baron gave his orders for the splendid fete which was to
be given in the royal apartments that night.

And this was indeed a great opportunity. The people of Berlin were to
enjoy a ball and a concert, at which all the Italian singers were to be
present; and then a rare and costly supper, to which not only the court,
but all the officers who were prisoners of war were to be invited.

This supper was to Pollnitz the great circumstance, the middle point of
the fete. Such an entertainment was now rare at the court of Berlin, and
many months might pass away ere the queen would think of giving another
supper. Pollnitz knew that when he thirsted now for a luxurious meal he
must enjoy it at his own cost, and this thought made him shudder. The
worthy baron was at the same time a spendthrift and a miser.

Four times in every year he had three or four days of rare and rich
enjoyment; he lived en grand seigneur, and prepared for himself every
earthly luxury; these were the first three or four days of every quarter
in which he received his salary. With a lavish hand he scattered all
the gold which he could keep back from his greedy creditors, and felt
himself young, rich, and happy. After these fleeting days of proud
glory came months of sad economy; he was obliged to play the role of a
parasitical plant, attach himself to some firm, well-rooted stem, and
absorb its strength and muscle. In these days of restraint he watched
like a pirate all those who were in the condition to keep a good table,
and so soon as he learned that a dinner was on hand, he knew how to
conquer a place. At these times he was also a passionate devotee of
the card-table, and it was the greatest proof of his versatility and
dexterity that he always succeeded in making up his party, though every
man knew it cost gold to play cards with Pollnitz. The grand-master had
the exalted principles of Louis XV. of France, who was also devoted to
cards. Every evening the great Louis set apart a thousand louis d’or to
win or lose. If the king won, the gold went into his private pocket; if
he lost, the state treasury suffered.

Following this royal example, Pollnitz placed the gold he won in his
pocket; if he lost, he borrowed the money to pay--he considered this
borrowed sum as also the clear profit of his game; he was assured to
win, and in this way he obtained his pocket money.

To-day, however, he would not be merry at a strange table; he himself
would do the honors, and he had conducted the arrangements of the table
with a scholarship and knowledge of details which would have obtained
the admiration of the Duke de Richelieu.

On this occasion it was not necessary to restrain his luxurious desires
and tastes. Honor demanded that the court should show itself in full
pomp and splendor, and prove to the world that this long, wearisome war
had not exhausted the royal treasury, nor the royal table service of
silver; in short, that it was an easy thing to carry on the war, without
resorting to the private treasures of the royal house.

It was, therefore, necessary to bring out for this great occasion the
golden service which had been the king’s inheritance from his mother.
Frederick’s portion had been lately increased by the death of the
Margravino of Baireuth, who had explicitly willed her part to her
brother Frederick. [Footnote: When the court fled, after the battle of
Kunendorf, to Magdeburg, they took the golden service which the king
inherited from his mother with them; that portion given to Frederick by
the margravino was left in Berlin, and the next year, 1760, was seized
by the Russians and carried to Petersburg--“Geschichte Berlins,” vol.
v., p. 2.]

The queen and the princesses were to appear in all the splendor of their
jewels, and by their costly and exquisite toilets impose upon these
proud and haughty officers, whom fate had sent as prisoners of war to
Berlin, and who would not fail to inform their respective governments of
all they saw in the capital.

This fete was a demonstration made by the king to his over-confident
enemies. He would prove to them that if he wished for peace it was not
because the gold failed to carry on the war, but because he wished
to give rest and the opportunity to recover to Europe, groaning and
bleeding from a thousand wounds. Besides this, the king wished to show
his subjects, by the celebration of his brother’s birthday, how highly
he honored the prince--how gladly he embraced the opportunity to
distinguish the young general who, during the whole war, had not lost a
single battle; but, by his bold and masterly movements, had come to the
king’s help in the most difficult and dangerous moments.

This celebration should be a refutation of the rumors spread abroad by
the king’s enemies, that Frederick regarded the success and military
talent of his brother with jealous envy.

There were, therefore, many reasons why Pollnitz should make this a
luxurious and dazzling feast; he knew also that Prince Henry would
receive a detailed account of the celebration from his adjutant, Count
Kalkreuth, who had lingered some months in Berlin because of his wounds,
was now fully restored, and would leave Berlin the morning after the
ball to return to the army.

And now the important hour had arrived. Pollnitz wandered through the
saloons with the searching glance of a warrior on the field of battle;
he pronounced that all was good.

The saloons were dazzling with light; pomp and splendor reigned
throughout, and on entering the supper-room you were almost blinded
by the array of gold and silver adorning the costly buffet, on whose
glittering surface the lights were a thousand times reflected.

Suddenly the rooms began to fill; everywhere gold-embroidered uniforms,
orders, stars, and flashing gems were to be seen; a promiscuous and
strange crowd was moving through these lofty saloons, illuminated by
thousands of lights and odorous with the fragrance of flowers.

Side by side with the rich, fantastic uniform of the Russian, was seen
the light and active French chasseur; here was to be seen the Hungarian
hussar, whose variegated and tasteful costume contrasted curiously with
the dark and simple uniform of the Spaniard, who stood near him, both
conversing gayly with an Italian, dressed in the white coat of an
Austrian officer.

It seemed as if every nation in Europe had arranged a rendezvous for
this day in the royal palace at Berlin, or as it the great Frederick had
sent specimens to his people of all the various nations against whom he
had undertaken this gigantic war.

There were not only Germans from all the provinces, but Italians,
Spaniards, Russians, Swedes, Hungarians, Netherlanders, and Frenchmen.
All these were prisoners of war--their swords had been stained with the
blood of Prussians; the fate of war now confined them to the scabbard,
and changed the enemies of the king into guests at his court.

Hundreds of captive officers were now waiting in the saloon for the
appearance of the queen, but the Prussian army was scarcely represented.
All who were fit for service were in the field, only the invalids
and the old warriors, too infirm for active duty had remained at the
capital; even the youths who had not attained the legal age for military
duty, had hastened to the army, full of courage and enthusiasm, inspired
by the example of their fathers and brothers.

The dazzling appearance of these royal saloons was therefore mostly
owing to the flashing uniforms of the prisoners of war. Only a few old
Prussian generals, and the courtiers, whose duties prevented them from
being heroes, were added to the number.

Herr von Giurgenow, and his friend Captain Belleville, were invited to
the ball, and were well pleased to offer their homage to the majesty
of Prussia. Count Ranuzi, who, reserved and silent as usual, had
been wandering through the saloons, now joined them, and they had all
withdrawn to a window, in order to observe quietly and undisturbed the
gay crowd passing before them.

“Look you,” said Ranuzi, laughing, “this reminds me of the frantic
confusion in the anterooms of hell, which Dante has described in such
masterly style. We all wear our glittering masks, under which our
corpses are hidden; one word from our master and this drapery would
fall off, and these grinning death-heads be brought to ruin. It depends
solely upon the will of Frederick of Prussia to speak this word. He is
our master, and when he commands it, we must lay aside our swords and
exchange our uniforms for the garments of a malefactor.”

“He will not dare to do this,” said Giurgenow; “all Europe would call
him a barbarian, and make him answerable for his insolence.”

“First, all Europe must be in a condition to call him to account,” said
Ranuzi, laughing; “and that is certainly not the case at present, I am
sorry to say.”

“You have not heard, then,” said Belleville, “of the glorious victory
which our great General Broglie has gained over Duke Ferdinand of
Brunswick; all France is jubilant over this happy event, and the
Marquise de Pompadour, or rather King Louis, has made this second
Turenne, our noble Broglie, marshal.”

“I know of this,” said Ranuzi; “but I know also that the fortune of
battles is inconstant, otherwise we would not now be here.”

“It is to be hoped we will not be here long,” said Giurgenow,
impatiently. “Does it not lie in our power to go at once? What think
you? Have we not our swords? They have not dared to take them from
us! They tremble before us, and honor, in our persons, the nations we
represent. Look at the complaisance and consideration with which we are
met on all sides. The King of Prussia fears his powerful enemies, and
does all in his power to conciliate them. Suppose that to-night, as soon
as the royal family are assembled, we draw our swords and take them all
prisoners; we have overpowering numbers, and I think it would be an easy
victory. We could make a fortress of this palace, and defend ourselves;
they would not dare to make a violent attack, as the queen and
princesses would be in our power. What think you of this plan, Count
Ranuzi?”

Ranuzi met the sharp and piercing glance of the Russian with cool
composure.

“I think it bold, but impossible. We could not maintain our position,
one hour. The garrison of Berlin would overcome us. We have no thousands
of prisoners in the casements here, as in Kustrin, to aid us in such an
attempt.”

“The count is right,” said Belleville, gayly; “such a grandiose and
warlike conspiracy would amount to nothing. We must revenge ourselves
in another way for the tedious ennui we are made to endure here, and my
friends and myself are resolved to do so. We will no longer submit to
the shackles of etiquette, which are laid upon us; we will be free from
the wearisome constraint which hems us in on every side. These proud
ladies wish us to believe that they are modest and virtuous, because
they are stiff and ceremonious. They make a grimace at every equivoque.
We will prove to them that we are not blinded by this outward seeming,
and not disposed to lie like Dutchmen, languishing at the feet of our
inexorable fair ones. Our brave brothers have conquered the Prussians at
Hochkirch and at Bergen; we cannot stand side by side with them in the
field, but here, at least, we can humble the Prussian women!”

“I can well believe,” whispered Giurgenow, “that you would be pleased to
humble the beautiful Fraulein von Marshal?”

“Ah, my friend,” said Ranuzi, laughing, “you touch the wound of our
poor friend. You do not seem to know that the beautiful Marshal is
responsible for the scorn and rage of Count Belleville, she is indeed a
haughty and presumptuous beauty; she not only dared to reject the
love of the fascinating count, but she showed him the door; and when
afterward he ventured to send her a passionate and tender billet-doux,
she informed him, through her servant, that she would give the letter to
her chambermaid, for whom, without doubt, it was intended.”

“Eh bien, what do you say to this insolence?” cried the enraged
Frenchman. “But she shall do penance for it. I have already made the
necessary arrangements with my friends. This is not simply a personal
affair, it touches the general honor. The whole French army, all France,
is insulted in my person. It is necessary we should have satisfaction,
not only from this presumptuous lady, but from all the ladies of the
court! We will have our revenge this evening! We will show to these dull
dames what we think of their prudery. And the queen shall see that we
are not at all inclined to bow down to her stiff ceremonies. She is,
in our eyes, not a queen--simply the wife of an enemy over whom we will
soon triumph gloriously.”

“I counsel you, however, to wait till the hour of triumph for
your revenge,” said Ranuzi. “Your intentions may lead to the worst
consequences for us all. The great Frederick will never be a harmless
adversary till he is dead, and we would all be ignominiously punished
for any contempt shown the queen. You have a personal affair with
Fraulein Marshal; well, then, you must make her personally responsible;
but do not involve us all in your difficulties. It would be an easy
thing to forfeit even this appearance of freedom.”

“You are right,” said Giurgenow; “we might be banished from Berlin, and
that would be a bitter punishment for us all.”

“But look! the doors are being thrown open, and the queen and court
will appear; you will have the happiness of seeing your cruel fair one,”
 whispered Ranuzi to the Frenchman.

“I assure you she shall repent of her cruelty to-night,” said
Belleville, gnashing his teeth. Exchanging a significant glance with
several French officers, who were standing not far off, he advanced
into the saloon to the outer circle, which was formed on both sides, and
through which the queen and court must pass.

Now the grand master of ceremonies appeared on the threshold, with his
golden staff. Behind him the queen and the Princess Amelia entered the
room; both appeared in all the pomp and splendor of their rank. A small
diamond-crown glittered in the blonde hair of the queen, a magnificent
necklace of diamonds and emeralds was clasped around her dazzlingly
white and beautifully formed throat.

Bielfeld had once declared that this necklace could purchase a kingdom.
A white robe worked with silver and a dark-red velvet shawl trimmed with
ermine fell in graceful folds around the noble and graceful figure
of the queen, whose bowed head, and quiet, modest bearing contrasted
strangely with the luxury and splendor which surrounded her.

Another striking contrast to the queen was offered in the presence of
the Princess Amelia. Like her royal sister, she appeared in complete
toilet, adorned with all her jewels--her arms, her throat, her hair,
and her hands flashed with diamonds. The festoons of her robe of silver
gauze were fastened up with diamond buttons, and beneath appeared a
green robe embroidered with silver. The princess knew full well that
all this splendor of toilet, all these flashing gems, would bring into
contemptuous notice her sharp, angular figure, and her poor deformed
visage; she knew that the eyes of all would be fixed upon her in
derision, that her appearance alone would be greeted as a cherished
source of amusement, and as soon as her back was turned the whole court
would laugh merrily. She assumed, as usual, a cold contemptuous bearing;
she met mockery with mockery, and revenged herself by sharp wit and
cutting irony for the derisive glances which plainly spoke what the
lips dared not utter. She no sooner entered the saloon than she began to
greet her acquaintances; every word contained a poisonous sting, which
inflicted a grievous wound. When she read in the faces of her victims
that her sharp arrows had entered the quivering flesh, a malicious fire
sparkled in her eyes, and a bitter smile played upon her lips.

Behind the queen and Princess Amelia appeared the Princess Henry. She
was also superbly dressed, but those who looked upon her thought not of
her toilet; they were refreshed, enraptured by her adorable beauty--by
the goodness and purity written on her rosy cheek. To-day, however, the
eyes of the princesses were less clear and dazzling than usual--a gleam
of sadness shadowed her fair brow, and her coral lips trembled lightly
as if in pain. Perhaps it was the remembrance of the beautiful and happy
days, past and gone like a dream, which made the lonely present seem so
bitter. Absentminded and thoughtful, she stepped forward without looking
to the right or left, regardless of the flashing orders and stars, of
the handsome officers and courtly circle bowing profoundly before her as
she passed on.

The court had now passed; the bowed heads were raised, and now the young
French officers cast impertinent, almost challenging glances, at the
ladies of the queen and the princesses, who drew near and bestowed here
and there stolen smiles and light greetings upon their admirers.

Fraulein Marshal did not seem to be aware that the insolent eyes of
these haughty Frenchmen were fixed upon her. Proudly erect she advanced;
her large blue eyes were turned toward the princess; she gave neither
glance nor smile to any one; her noble and beautiful countenance had a
stern, resolved expression--her lips were pouting, and her usually soft
eyes told tales of an angry soul. There was something Juno-like in her
appearance--she was lovely to behold, but cold and stern in her beauty.

As she passed by Count Belleville, he exclaimed with a sigh to his
neighbor: “Ah, look at this majestic Galatea, this beautiful marble
statue, which can only be awaked to life by kisses.”

Fraulein Marshal trembled slightly; a crimson blush suffused her face,
her shoulders, and even her back; but she did not hesitate or turn.
She moved on slowly, though she heard the officers laughing and
whispering--though she felt that their presumptuous eyes were fixed upon
her.

The queen and princesses made the grande tournee through the rooms, and
then mingled with the guests; all formal etiquette was now laid aside,
and a gay and unembarrassed conversation might be carried on till the
beginning of the concert. This seemed to degenerate, on the part of the
French officers, to an indiscreet, frenzied levity. They laughed and
talked boisterously--they walked arm in arm before the ladies, and
remarked upon them so boldly, that crimson blushes, or frightened
pallor, was the result. Even the queen remarked the strange and
unaccountable excitement of her guests, and to put an end to it, she
entered the concert-room and ordered the music to commence. Even this
had no effect. The royal capello played an overture composed by the
king, with masterly precision--the singers emulated them in an Italian
aria--but all this did not silence the noisy conversation of the
Frenchmen. They laughed and chatted without restraint; and neither the
amazed glances of the princesses nor the signs of the grand-master of
ceremonies, made the slightest impression upon them.

Suddenly there was a slight pause, and the Princess Amelia rose up from
her seat and beckoned with her fan to Baron Pollnitz. In a loud and
angry voice, she said: “Baron Pollnitz, I insist upon your forcing these
shrieking popinjays of the Marquise de Pompadour to silence. We cannot
hear the music for their loud chattering. The like birds may pass very
well in the gallant boudoir of a certain marquise, but not in a royal
palace of Berlin.”

Pollnitz shrank back in alarm, and fixed an imploring look upon the
princess. Amongst the French officers arose an angry murmur, swelling
louder and louder, more and more threatening, and completely drowning
the music which was just recommencing.

The queen bowed down to the princess. “I pray you, sister,” said she in
a low voice, “remember that we are poor, unprotected women, and not in
a condition to defend ourselves. Let us appear not to remark this
unmannerly conduct, and let us remember that the king has made it our
duty to receive the French officers with marked attention.”

“You, sister, are simply a slave to the commands of the king. He is more
truly your master than your husband,” said the princess, angrily.

The queen smiled sweetly. “You are right; I am his slave, and my soul
has chosen him for its lord. Blame me not, then, for my obedience.”

“Do you intend to allow the arrogant presumption of these haughty
Frenchmen to go unpunished?”

“I will take pains not to observe it,” said the queen, turning her
attention again to the music. During all this time, Count Belleville
stood behind Fraulein Marshal. While the concert was going on, he bowed
over her and spoke long and impressively. Fraulein Marshal did not
reply; neither his ardent love-assurances, nor his glowing reproaches,
nor his passionate entreaties, nor his bold and offensive insolence,
could draw from her one word, one look.

When the concert was over, and they were about to return to the saloon
where, until supper, they could dance and amuse themselves, the young
maiden turned with calm composure and indifference to Count Belleville.
“Sir, I forbid you to molest me with your presence, and I counsel you no
longer to offend my ears with these indecent romances, which you have
no doubt learned upon the streets of Paris. But if, believing that I am
unprotected, you still dare to insult me, I Inform you that my father
has this moment arrived, and will certainly relieve me from your
disagreeable and troublesome society.” She spoke aloud, and not only
Belleville, but the group of French officers who stood behind him,
heard every word. She passed by them with calm indifference and joined
a large, elderly officer, who was leaning against a pillar, and who
stretched out his hand smilingly toward her.

“Father,” she said, “God himself put it in your heart to come to Berlin
this day. You are by my side, and I have nothing to fear. I know you can
protect me.”

In the mean time, the musicians commenced to play the grave and at the
same time coquettish minuet, and the officers drew near the ladies
to lead them to the dance. This was done, however, in so bold and
unconstrained a manner, with such manifest nonchalance, the request was
made with such levity, the words were so little respectful, that the
ladies drew back frightened. Princess Amelia called Fraulein Marshal to
her side. She took her hand with a kindly smile.

“My child,” she said, “I rejoice that you have the courage to defy these
shameless coxcombs. Go on, and count upon my protection. Why are you not
dancing?”

“Because no one has asked me.”

At this moment an officer drew near with diligent haste, apparently to
lead her to the dance. While in the act of offering his hand to her he
made a sudden movement, as if he had just recognized the lady, turned
his back, and withdrew without a word of apology.

The princess was enraged. “I promise you they shall be punished for
this presumption.” She turned to Baron Marshal, who stood behind his
daughter: “Baron,” said she, “if this leads to a duel, I will be your
second!”



CHAPTER VII. IN THE WINDOW-NICHE.


While these events were occurring in the dancing-room, and the queen was
seated at the card-table, the Princess Wilhelmina, wife of Prince Henry,
stood in the window-niche of the ball-room and conversed with Count
Kalkreuth, the friend and adjutant of her husband. The count had been
sent home amongst the wounded, but he was now restored and about to
return to the camp. They spoke quickly and impressively together, but
the music drowned their words and made them indistinct to all others.
What said they to each other? Seemingly petty and indifferent things.
They had, perhaps, a deeper, secret meaning, for the countenance of
the princess and that of the count were grave, and the sweet smile
had vanished from the charming face of the princess. They spoke of
unimportant things, perhaps, because they had not the courage for the
great word which must be spoken--the word farewell!

“Your royal highness has then no further commission to give me for the
prince?” said the count, after a pause.

“No,” said the princess; “I wrote to him yesterday by the courier.
Describe the ball to him, and tell him how we are, and how you left me.”

“I must tell him, then, that your highness is perfectly gay, entirely
happy, and glowing with health and beauty,” said the count. These were
simple and suitable words, but they were spoken in a hard and bitter
tone.

The princess fixed her large soft eyes with an almost pleading
expression upon the count; then with a quick movement she took a wreath
of white roses, which she wore in her bosom, and held them toward him.
“As a proof that I am gay and happy,” said she, “take these flowers
to my husband, and tell him I adorned myself with them in honor of his
fete.”

The count pressed his lips convulsively together and looked angrily upon
the princess, but he did not raise his hand to take the flowers--did not
appear to see that she held them toward him.

“Well, sir,” said the Princess Wilhelmina, “you do not take the
flowers?”

“No,” said he, passionately, “I will not take them.” The princess looked
anxiously around; she feared some one might have heard this stormy “No.”
 She soon convinced herself that there was no listener nearer than her
maid of honor; Fraulein Marshal was still near the Princess Amelia, and
she was somewhat isolated by etiquette; she saw, therefore, that she
dared carry on this conversation.

“Why will you not take my flowers?” she said, proudly.

The count drew nearer. “I will tell you, princess,” said he--“I will
tell you, if this passionate pain now burning in my breast does not slay
me. I will not take your flowers, because I will not be a messenger of
love between you and the prince; because I cannot accept the shame and
degradation which such an office would lay upon me. Princess you have
forgotten, but I remember there was a wondrous time in which I, and
not the prince, was favored with a like precious gift. At that time you
allowed me to hope that this glowing, inextinguishable feeling which
filled my heart, my soul, found an echo in your breast; that at least
you would not condemn me to die unheard, misunderstood.”

“I knew not at that time that my husband loved me,” murmured the
princess; “I thought I was free and justified in giving that heart which
no one claimed to whom I would.”

“You had no sooner learned that the prince loved you than you turned
from me, proud and cold,” said the count, bitterly; “relentlessly,
without mercy, without pity, you trampled my heart under your feet, and
not a glance, not a word showed me that you had any remembrance of the
past. I will tell you what I suffered. You have a cold heart, it will
make you happy to hear of any anguish. I loved you so madly I almost
hated you; in the madness of my passion I cursed you. I thanked God for
the war, which forced me to that for which I had never found the moral
strength to leave you. Yes, I was grateful when the war called me to the
field--I hoped to die. I did not wish to dishonor my name by suicide. I
was recklessly brave, because I despised life--I rushed madly into the
ranks of the enemy, seeking death at their hands, but God’s blessed
minister disdained me even as you had done. I was borne alive from the
battle-field and brought to Berlin to be nursed and kindly cared for.
No one knew that here I received daily new and bitter wounds. You were
always cruel, cruel even to the last moment; you saw my sufferings, but
you were inexorable. Oh, princess, it would have been better to refuse
me entrance, to banish me from your presence, than to make my heart
torpid under the influence of your cold glance, your polished speech,
which ever allured me and yet kept me at a distance. You have played a
cruel game with me, princess you mock me to the last. Shall I be your
messenger to the prince? You know well that I would give my heart’s
blood for one of those sweet flowers, and you send them by me to
another. My humility, my subjection is at an end; you have sinned
against me as a woman, and I have therefore the right to accuse you as a
man. I will not take these flowers! I will not give them to the prince!
And now I have finished--I beg you to dismiss me.”

The princess had listened tremblingly; her face became ever
paler--completely exhausted, she leaned against the wall.

“Before you go,” whispered she, “listen to a few words; it may be that
the death you seek may be found on the battle-field--this may be our
last interview in this world; in such a moment we dare speak the truth
to each other; from the souls which have been closely veiled, may cloud
and darkness be for one moment lifted. What I now say to you shall go as
a sacred secret with you to the grave, if you fall; but if God hears my
prayer, and you return, I command you to forget it, never to remind me
of it. You say I have a cold heart. Alas! I only choked the flame which
raged within me; I would have my honor and my duty burned to ashes. You
say that my eyes are never clouded, that they shed no tears. Ah! believe
me, I have wept inwardly, and the silent, unseen tears the heart weeps
are bitterer than all others. You reproach me for having received you
when you returned here sick and wounded, and for not having closed my
doors against you. I know well that was my duty, and a thousand times I
have prayed to God on my knees for strength to do this, but He did not
hear me or He had no mercy. I could not send you off; had my lips spoken
the fearful words, the shriek of my heart would have called you back.
My lips had strength to refuse an answer to the question which I read in
your face, in your deep dejection, but my heart answered you in silence
and tears. Like you, I could not forget--like you I remembered the
bounteous sweet past. Now you know all--go! As you will not take these
flowers to the prince, they are yours, were intended for you; I have
baptized them with my tears. Farewell!”

She gave him the flowers, and without looking toward him, without giving
him time to answer, she stepped forward and called her chamberlain.

“Count Saldow, be kind enough to accompany Count Kalkreuth, and give him
the books and papers my husband has ordered.”

Wilhelmina passed on proudly, calmly, with a smile on her lips, but no
one knew what it cost her poor heart. She did not look back. Kalkreuth
would have given years to take leave once more of the lovely face, to
ask pardon for the hard, rude words he had dared to say. The princess
had still the bashful timidity of virtue; after the confession she
had made she dared not look upon him. The count controlled himself; he
followed Saldow. He was bewildered, rapturously giddy. As he left the
castle and entered his carriage he looked up at the window and said: “I
will not die!--I will return!”--then pressed the bouquet to his lips and
sank back in the carriage.



CHAPTER VIII. THE NUTSHELLS BEHIND THE FAUTEUIL OF THE QUEEN.


Princess Wilhelmina, as we have said, did not look back; she stepped
silently through the ball-room, and approached the Princess Amelia. She
stood for a moment behind a couple who were dancing the Francaise. The
French officers had just taught this dance to the Prussian ladies as the
newest Parisian mode.

It was a graceful and coquettish dance, approaching and avoiding; the
ladies stood opposite their cavaliers, and advanced with smiling grace,
then appeared to fly from them in mocking haste. They were pursued in
artistic tours by their cavaliers; at the end of the dance their hands
were clasped in each other’s, and they danced through the room with the
graceful time and step of the minuet.

Princess Wilhelmina stood silent and unobservant; she knew not the dance
was ended; she knew not that the music was silenced. A softer, sweeter,
dearer melody sounded in her ears; she heard the echo of that voice
which had spoken scornfully, despairingly, and yet love had been the
sweet theme.

The sudden stillness waked her from her dream and she stepped forward.
The general silence was interrupted by the well-known coarse, stern
voice of the Princess Amelia.

“Does this dance please you, Baron Marshal? The French officers have
taught it to our ladies as a return for the dance which our brave
Prussian soldiers taught the French at Rossbach; at Rossbach, however,
they danced to a quicker, faster tempo. These Frenchmen are now calling
out, ‘En avant!’ but at Rossbach, I am told, ‘En arriere!’ was the word
of command.”

A death-like silence followed these sarcastic words of the princess,
and throughout the room her mocking, derisive laugh which followed these
words was distinctly heard. She rose, and leaning upon the arm of Baron
Marshal, advanced to meet the Princess Wilhelmina, and cast a fierce
glance at the officers, who were assembled in groups and talking in low
tones but earnestly with each other.

Suddenly Belleville, leaning on another officer, advanced from one of
these groups; they walked backward and forward, laughing and chattering
loudly, without regarding the presence of the princess. They then drew
near the orchestra, and called out in a jovial tone:

“Messieurs, have the kindness to play a Dutch waltz, but in the quick
time which the Austrians played at Hochkirch, when they drove the
Prussians before them; and in which Field-Marshal Broglie played at
Bergen, when he tramped upon the Prussians! Play on, messieurs! play
on!”

Belleville then danced forward with great levity of manner to Fraulein
Marshal, who stood by the side of her father; without saluting her, he
seized her hand.

“Come, ma toute belle,” said he, “you have played the marble statue long
enough for one day; it is time that you should awake to life in my arms.
Come, then, and dance with me your lascivious Dutch waltz, which no
respectable woman in France would dare to dance! Come! come!”

Belleville tried to drag Fraulein Marshal forward, but at the instant
a powerful and heavy arm was laid upon him, and his hand was dashed off
rudely.

“I have heard you to the end,” said Baron Marshal, calmly; “I wished
to see a little of the renowned gallantry of which the Frenchman is so
proud. It appears to me that a strange ton must now reign in Paris,
well suited, perhaps, to the boudoirs of mistresses, but not fitting or
acceptable to the ears of respectable women. I beg you therefore, sir,
not to assume this ton in Berlin; I am resolved not to endure it.”

Belleville laughed aloud, drew very near the baron, and looked him
insolently in the face.

“Who are you, monsieur, who dare take the liberty of begging me, who do
not know you, to do or not do any thing?”

“I am Baron Marshal, the father of this lady whom you have dared to
offend!”

Belleville laughed still louder than before.

“Aha! that is a beautiful fairy tale! You who are as hideous as a
baboon, and have borrowed the eyes of the cat!--you the father of the
lovely Galatea Marshal!--tell that tale to other ears--I do not believe
in such aberrations of Nature. I repeat my question: who are you? what
is your name?”

“I repeat to you, I am Baron Marshal, the father of this lady.”

“You are more credulous, sir, than I am, if you believe that,” said
Belleville, coarsely.

“Perhaps I am less credulous than you suppose,” said Marshal, quietly.
“It would, for example, be difficult for me to believe that you are a
nobleman. I can assure you, however, that I am not only noble, but a man
of honor.”

Belleville was in the act of giving a passionate answer, when the doors
of the supper-room were thrown open, and a sea of light irradiated the
room.

At this moment, the queen and her ladies entered from the card-room,
and, at her appearance, every word, every sound was hushed. Silently,
and with a conciliatory smile, the queen passed through the saloon, and
seated herself at the table; she then gave the sign to the grand-master,
that her guests should be seated. And now the servants, in golden
liveries, flew from side to side bearing silver plates, containing the
rare and fragrant viands which the inventive head of Baron Pollnitz had
ordered for the favored guests of her majesty the Queen of Prussia.

Nothing is so well calculated to quiet the perturbed soul as a costly
and well-prepared feast. The haughty Frenchmen soon forgot their
mortified vanity and resentment, and were well pleased to be seated at
the table of the “great Frederick.” They ate and drank right merrily in
honor of the bold and brave prince who had sent them here from Rossbach;
but if the rich dishes made them forget their mortification, the fiery
wine excited yet more their presumptuous levity. They forgot that
they were the guests of a queen. Louder and more extravagant was their
gayety, more boisterous, more indiscreet their unrestrained laughter.
In their frantic merriment they dared to sing aloud some of the little
ambiguous, equivocal chansons, which belonged to the gamins of Paris,
and at which the Marquise de Pompadour laughed till she shed tears when
sung sometimes by the merry courtiers.

In vain the grand-master besought them, in his most polished manner, not
to sing at table.

“We have been so long forced to listen to the dull, screeching discord
of your singers, that we must have some compensation!” said they.
“Besides,” said Belleville, in a loud voice, “it belongs now to bon
ton to sing at the table; and the Prussian court should thank us for
introducing this new Parisian mode.”

They sang, chatted, laughed, and almost overpowered the music by their
boisterous levity. Their presumptuous revelry seemed to be every moment
on the increase. The Austrian and Russian officers looked upon them with
disgust and alarm, and entreated them to desist; but the French officers
were regardless of all etiquette. During the dessert, Belleville and
some of his friends arose and drew near the table at which the queen
and the princesses were seated; this was in the middle of the room, and
slightly separated from the other tables. They gazed at the princesses
with insolent eyes, and, placing themselves behind the chair of the
queen, they began to crack nuts with their teeth, and throw the shells
carelessly upon the floor, near her majesty.

The queen continued a quiet conversation with the Princess Wilhelmina,
and appeared wholly unconscious of this rudeness and vulgarity; but her
face was pallid, and her eyes filled with tears.

“I pray your majesty to rise from the table!” said the Princess
Wilhelmina. “Look at the Princess Amelia; her countenance glows with
anger; there is a tempest on her brow, and it is about to burst upon
us.”

“You are right; that is the best way to end this torture.” She rose from
the table, and gave a sign for a general movement. When the queen and
her suite had left the room, Baron Marshal drew near Count Belleville.

“Sir.” said he. “I told you before that I was not sufficiently credulous
to take you for a nobleman. Your conduct at the table has proved that
I did well to doubt you. Yourself and friends have shown that you
are strangers to the duties of cavaliers, and utterly ignorant of the
manners of good society.”

“Ah!” cried Belleville, “this offence demands satisfaction.”

“I am ready to grant it,” said Baron Marshal; “name the time and place
of meeting.”

“You know well,” cried Belleville, “that I am a prisoner, and have given
my word of honor not to use my sword!”

“So you were impertinent and shameless, because you knew you were
safe? You knew that, thanks to your word of honor, you could not be
chastised!”

“Sir,” cried Belleville, “you forget that you speak not only to a
nobleman, but to a soldier.”

“Well, I know that I speak to a Frenchman, who lost his powder-mantle
and pomatum-pot at Rossbach.”

Belleville, beside himself with rage, seized his sword, and half drew it
from the scabbard.

“God be praised, I have a sword with which to revenge insult!” he cried.
“I have given my word not to use it on the battle-field against the
Prussians, but here we stand as private adversaries, man to man, and
I challenge you, sir--I challenge you to mortal combat. I will have
satisfaction! You have insulted me as a nobleman, as a Frenchman, and
as a soldier. No consideration shall restrain me. I dare not use my
sword--well, then, we will fight with pistols. As to time and place,
expect me to-morrow, at eight o’clock, in the Thiergarden.”

“I accept the conditions, and I will await you with your seconds,” said
Baron Marshal.

“If the baron has not chosen his seconds,” said a soft voice behind him,
“I beg to offer my services.”

Baron Marshal turned, and saw an officer in the Austrian uniform.

“Count Ranuzi,” cried Belleville, astonished; “how, monsieur! you offer
yourself as second to my adversary? I had thought to ask this service of
you.”

“I suspected so,” said Ranuzi, with his accustomed calm and quiet
manner, “therefore I anticipated you. The right is certainly on the side
of Baron Marshal, and in offering myself as his second. I do so in the
name of all the Austrian officers who are present. They have all seen
the events of this evening with painful indignation. Without doubt the
world will soon be acquainted with them; we wish to make an open,
public demonstration that we wholly disapprove the conduct of the French
officers. The nutshells thrown behind the fauteuil of the queen have
made us your adversaries, Count Belleville.”

“That is not the occasion of this duel, but the affront offered me by
Baron Marshal,” cried Belleville. “This being the case, will you still
be the second of my opponent?”

“I was compelled to insult you,” said Baron Marshal, “because you
would have given me no satisfaction for the nutshells thrown behind the
fauteuil of the queen; but be assured that I don’t fight with you in
order that you may wash out my offence with my blood, but wholly and
alone that your blood may wash away the nutshells from the feet of the
queen.”

Baron Marshal then turned to Ranuzi. “I accept your offer, sir, and
rejoice to make the acquaintance of a true nobleman. Have the goodness
to meet the seconds of Count Belleville, and make all necessary
arrangements. I will call for you early in the morning. I only say
further that it is useless to make any attempts at reconciliation--I
shall not listen to them. Prussia and France are at war. My great king
has made no peace--I also will not hear of it. The nutshells lie behind
the fauteuil of the queen, and only the blood of Count Belleville can
wash them away.”

He bowed to Ranuzi, and joined his daughter, who, pale and trembling,
awaited him in the next room.

“Oh, father,” said she, with tears gushing from her eyes, “your life is
in danger--you meet death on my account!”

“No, thank God, my child, your name will not be mixed up in this affair.
No one can say that the mortified father revenged an insult offered
to his daughter. I fight this duel not for you, but because of the
nutshells behind the fauteuil of the queen.”



CHAPTER IX. THE DUEL AND ITS CONSEQUENCES.


Early in the morning two horsemen dashed down the Linden. Their loud
conversation, their pert and noisy laughter, aroused the curiosity of
the porters who stood yawning in the house-doors, and the maids opened
the windows and gazed curiously at the two gallant French officers who
were taking such an early ride to the Thiergarden. When the girls were
young and pretty, Belleville threw them a kiss as he passed by, and
commanded them to give it with his tenderest greeting to their fair
mistress.

“Happily,” said his companion, “these good Berliners do not understand
our speech sufficiently to inform their mistresses of this last
insolence of Count Belleville.”

“They do not, but their mistresses do, and I cannot think that they are
still sleeping. No, I am convinced they have risen early, and are now
standing behind their maids, and watching us go by. In this street dwell
those who call themselves society; they were at the castle yesterday,
and know of this duel. I think our good marquise will one day reward
me richly for this duel, when I tell her I stood behind the queen and
cracked nuts like a gamin in Paris, and that I was shot at because
of the nutshells. She will laugh tears--tears which I will strive to
convert into diamonds for myself.”

“You feel assured that you will return unharmed from this duel?”

“Yes, I cannot doubt it. I always won the prize at our pistol-shooting
in Paris, and then, this stupid Dutchman is, without doubt, horrified at
the thought of shooting at a man, and not at a mark. No, vraiment, I do
not doubt but I shall be victorious, and I rejoice in anticipation of
that dejeuner dinatoire with which my friends will celebrate it.”

“But,” said his second, “let us for a moment suppose that you are not
victorious; one must ever be prepared in this poor world, ruled by
accident, for the worst that can befall. In case you fall, have you no
last commissions to give me?”

Count Belleville stopped his horse as they were in the act of entering
the garden.

“You positively insist on burying me? Well, then. I will make my last
will. In case I fall go instantly to my quarters, open my writing-desk,
and press upon a small button you will see on the left side; there you
will find letters and papers; tie them carefully, and send them in the
usual way to Countess Bernis. As to my heritage, you know I have no
gold; I leave nothing but debts My clothes you can give to my faithful
servant, Francois; for the last year I have paid him no wages Now my
testament is made--no, stop, I had forgotten the most important item.
Should the inconceivable, the unimaginable happen, should this Dutch
village--devil slay me, I make it the duty of the French officers here
to revenge me on the haughty daughter of my adversary, and on all
these dull and prudish beauties. They must carry out what I intended
yesterday. I have drawn a few sketches and added a few notes; make as
many copies as are required, and paste them on the designated places.
If I fall, this must be done the following night, that my wandering soul
may find repose in the sweet consciousness of revenge. If my enemy’s
ball strikes me, hasten forward, and, before any one dares lay his hand
upon me, take from my breast-pocket a paper, which you will find there,
and conceal it; it is the drawing, and it is my legacy to my comrades.
Swear to me to do as I have said.”

“I swear!”

“And now, mon ami, let us forget this stupid thought of death, and look
life saucily and merrily in the face. Life will not have the courage to
break with a brave son of la belle France.”

Belleville drew his bridle suddenly, and sprang through the gate into
the garden; turning to the right, they rode for some time under the
shadow of the trees, then through a side allee, which led to an open
place surrounded by lofty oaks. At this moment he heard the roll of an
open carriage, and turning, he saluted gayly the two gentlemen who were
seated in it; he checked his horse suddenly in order to ride by their
side, and provoking the beautiful and noble beast by the rude use of his
spurs, he forced it into many difficult and artistic evolutions. Arrived
at the place of rendezvous, he sprang lightly from the saddle and
fastened his horse to a tree, then drew near Baron Marshal, who, with
Ranuzi, was just descending from the carriage.

“No man could be more prudent than yourself, sir,” said he, laughing,
“to come to a rendezvous in a carriage; truly, that is a wise and, I
think on this occasion, well-grounded precaution.”

“A forethought which I have exercised on your account,” said the baron,
gravely. “You, sir, will require a carriage, and knowing you, as a
stranger, had no carriage in Berlin, I brought mine. It shall be at your
service.”

“Vraiment! you are too good! I hope, however, not to make use of your
offer.”

Now, according to custom, Ranuzi drew near the baron to make a last
attempt at reconciliation. He answered sternly: “You know that I am not
to blame, and therefore will take no step in this matter. I suppose,
Count Belleville is as little disposed as myself to make apologies.”

“I intend to prove to you, sir baron, that I am a nobleman and a brave
one; and as to the nuts which I cracked behind the queen, my only regret
is, that they, like every thing else in your detested Berlin, were
hollow--”

“No, sir, they were not at all hollow,” said Baron Marshal, drawing up
the cock of his pistol; “in one of those nuts I saw a death-worm, which
will soon bore into your flesh.”

He bowed to Belleville and took the place pointed out by his second. The
second of Belleville then drew near, and led him to the outermost point
of the line.

The Frenchman laughed aloud. “How,” said he, “you will take me to the
end of the world to secure me from the ball of my enemy?”

“Sir,” said the grave and solemn voice of the baron, “you will still be
too near me.”

“Well, sir baron, I give you precedence,” said Belleville, laughing,
“though, I believe, I have the right; but age must have the
precedence--fire, sir.”

“No, young man,” said Marshal, sadly; “I will grant you one more glance
at the glad sun and the fresh, green earth; you shall fire first, and I
council you to lay aside your levity; let your hand be firm and your aim
steady; if you fail, you are lost. I am a good shot, and I am without
mercy.”

There was something so convincing, so gloomy in his tone, that
Belleville was involuntarily affected by it. For the first time his brow
was clouded, and a slight pallor took possession of his cheek; but he
forced back this prophetic shudder quickly, and raised his pistol with a
firm hand.

Far away, in the still park, sounded the echo of his shot; but opposite
to him stood his adversary, firm and calm as before, with his eye fixed
steadily upon him.

Belleville threw his pistol to the ground, and drawing his gold
snuff-box from his vest-pocket with his small white hands, adorned with
cuffs of lace, he played carelessly upon the lid; then opened it, and
slowly and gracefully took a pinch of snuff, saying, coolly, “I await
your ball.”

Marshal raised his pistol and aimed directly at the head of his enemy,
who looked him firmly in the eye. The appearance of this youthful,
fresh, and brave face softened, against his will, the noble and
magnanimous soul of this good man. He let his arm fall. “Sir,” said he,
“you are so young, perhaps your life may improve. I will not kill you.
But you need for this life a great, impressive lesson and a lasting
warning. I will therefore shoot you through the right leg, just above
the knee.” [Footnote: The words of Baron Marshal.--See Thiebault.]
He raised the pistol quickly, and fired. As the smoke was lifted,
Belleville was seen lying bleeding on the ground. The shot had gone
right through the knee and broken the knee-pan.

As his second bowed over him, Belleville whispered, with broken eyes and
trembling lips: “My legacy! do not forget my legacy! I believe I shall
die; this pain is horrible.”

The Frenchman took the paper from his pocket and concealed it “I will
be avenged,” said Belleville, with a convulsive smile, then sank into
unconsciousness.

Belleville was placed in the carriage of Baron Marshal and carried to
the city. Baron Marshal went immediately to the commandant of Berlin,
gave notice of what had taken place, and declared himself under arrest.

The commandant took his hand kindly. “The laws forbid duelling, and I
must consider you under arrest until I receive further orders. That
is to say, house-arrest; you must give me your word not to leave your
house. I will send a courier immediately to the king. I was in the
castle last night, and witness to all the circumstances which led to
this duel, witnessed the conduct of these Frenchmen, and in your place I
would have acted just as you have done.”

The French officers fulfilled the vow they had made to their wounded
comrade; they had promised to revenge him on Fraulein Marshal and the
other ladies of the court.

The morning after the duel, on the corners of all the principal streets,
placards were pasted, which were soon surrounded by crowds of men,
exhibiting astonishment and indignation. These placards contained a
register of all the young and beautiful women of the court and city; to
these names were added a frivolous and voluptuous personal description
of every lady, and to this the name of the French officer which each was
supposed to favor. [Footnote: Thiebault, p. 90.]

An outcry of scorn and rage was heard throughout Berlin; every one was
excited at the boundless shamelessness of the French officers, and on
this occasion the mass of the people took the part of the rich and
the distinguished, whom generally they envied and despised. They felt
themselves aggrieved by the contempt and ridicule which these Frenchmen
had cast upon the daughters of Prussians, and no police force was
necessary to tear these placards from the walls; they were torn off and
trampled under foot, or torn into a thousand pieces and scattered to
the winds. If a Frenchman dared to show himself on the street, he was
received with curses and threats, and the police were obliged to forbid
them to appear in any public place, as they feared they would not be
able to protect them from the fierce indignation of the people. The
doors of all the prominent houses, in which heretofore they had received
so much attention, were now closed against them. The commandant of
Berlin had sent a detailed account of the conduct of the French officers
to the king, and the answer had been received.

Eight days after the placards had been pasted up by the Frenchmen,
exactly upon the same places new placards were to be found, around which
the people were again assembled; on every face was seen a happy smile,
from every lip was heard expressions of harmony and approbation. This
was a greeting of the king not only to his Berliners, but to Prussia and
to the world; he was now “the Great Frederick,” and all Europe listened
when he spake. Frederick’s greeting read thus:

“It is known to all Europe that I have provided every possible comfort
to all officers who are prisoners of war. Swedes, Frenchmen, Russians,
Austrians I have allowed to pass the time of their captivity at my
capital. Many among them have taken advantage of the confidence reposed
in them and carried on a forbidden correspondence; they have also,
by unmannerly and presumptuous conduct, greatly abused the privileges
allowed them; I therefore feel myself constrained to send them to
Spandau, which city must not be confounded with the fortress of the same
name at Spandau; they will be no more restricted than in Berlin, but
they will be more closely watched.”

“For this decision I cannot be blamed. The law of nations and the
example of my allied enemies justify me fully. The Austrians have not
allowed any of my officers who have fallen into their hands to go to
Vienna. The Russians have sent their captives to Kasan. My enemies lose
no opportunity to give a false aspect to my acts; I have, therefore,
thought it wise to make known the causes which lead me to change my
policy with regard to the prisoners of war.”

“FREDERICK.”

Two of the officers, with whom we are acquainted, were not included in
this sentence of banishment.

One was Count Belleville. On the day that his comrades, deprived of
their swords, left Berlin, his corpse was carried through the outer
gate. The shot of Baron Marshal made an amputation necessary, and
death was the consequence. While his friends, whose condemnation he
had brought about, marched sadly to Spandau, his body was laid in
the “Friedhof.” To the corpse had been granted a favor denied to the
living--his sword was allowed to deck his coffin.

The Austrian officer, Ranuzi, because of his wise and prudent conduct
and the powerful support he gave to Baron Marshal, was permitted to
remain in Berlin. Ranuzi received this permission with triumphant joy.
As he looked from his window at the prisoners marching toward Spandau,
he said with a proud smile--“It is written, ‘Be wise as a serpent.’
These fools have not regarded the words of Holy Writ, and therefore they
are punished, while I shall be rewarded. Yes, my work will succeed! God
gives me a visible blessing. Patience, then, patience! A day will come
when I will take vengeance on this haughty enemy of the Church. On that
day the colors of the apostolic majesty of Austria shall be planted on
the fortress of Magdeburg!”



CHAPTER X. THE FIVE COURIERS.


It was the morning of the thirteenth of August. The streets of Berlin
were quiet and empty. Here and there might be seen a workman with his
axe upon his shoulder, or a tradesman stepping slowly to his comptoir.
The upper circle of Berlin still slumbered and refreshed itself after
the emotions and excitements of yesterday.

Yesterday had been a day of rejoicing; it had brought the news of
the great and glorious victory which the crown prince, Ferdinand of
Brunswick, had gained at Minden, over the French army under Broglie and
Contades.

The crown prince had ever remembered that great moment in the beginning
of the war, when his mother took leave of him in the presence of the
Brunswick regiments. Embracing him for the last time, she said: “I
forbid you to appear before me till you have performed deeds of valor
worthy of your birth and your allies!” [Footnote: Bodman.]

Her son, the worthy nephew of Frederick the Great had now bought the
right to appear before his mother.

By the victories of Gotsfeld and Minden he had now wiped out the defeat
at Bergen, and the laurels which Brissac had won there were now withered
and dead.

Berlin had just received this joyful news. After so much sorrow, so much
humiliation and disappointment, she might now indulge herself in a day
of festal joy, and, by public declarations and testimonials, make known
to the world how dear to her heart was this victory of her king and his
generals, and how deep and warm was the sympathy she felt.

All work was set aside in honor of this great celebration--the people
were spread abroad in the meadows and woods, shouting and rejoicing,
playing and dancing; the rich and the distinguished joined them
without ceremony, to prove to the world that in such great moments, all
differences of rank were forgotten--that they were all members of one
body--united in joy and in sorrow by an electric chain.

So they slumbered on; the streets were still empty, the windows still
closed.

But see! There comes a horseman through the Frankfort gate, dusty and
breathless; his glowing face was radiant with joy! As he dashed through
the streets he waved a white handkerchief high in the air, and with a
loud and powerful voice, cried out, “Victory! victory!”

This one word had a magic influence. The windows flew up, the doors were
dashed open, and shouting and screaming crowds of men rushed after the
horseman. At a corner they surrounded his horse and compelled him to
stop. “Who is victorious?” cried they tumultuously.

“The king--the great Frederick! He has whipped the Russians at
Kunersdorf!”

A cry of rapture burst from every lip. “The king is victorious! he has
defeated the Russians!”

Onward flew the courier to the palace; after him streamed the mad
people. “The days of mourning are over--the blood of our sons has
not been shed in vain, they are the honored dead--their death brought
victory to the fatherland; they have drenched the soil with the blood of
our barbarous enemies. We whipped the French at Minden, the Russians
at Kunersdorf, and now we have defeated the Austrians and won back the
trophies of their victory at Hochkirch!”

The people surrounded the castle shouting and triumphing. The courier
had entered to give to the queen the joyful news. Soon the royal
messengers were flying into every corner of the city to summon the
ministers and officers of state to the castle. On foot, on horseback,
in carriages, they hastened on, and the people received them with joyful
shouts. “The king is victorious; the Russians are defeated!”

And now a door opened on a balcony, and Minister Herzberg stepped out.
He waved his hat joyfully high in the air. The people returned this
greeting with a roar like an exulting lion. He waved his hand, and the
lion ceased to roar--there was death-like silence. He then told them
that the king had offered battle to the Russians, yesterday, not far
from Frankfort. The Russian army was greatly superior in numbers; they
received the Prussians with a fearful, deadly fire! Unrestrainable,
regardless of cannon-balls, or of death, the Prussians rushed on,
stormed all the strongholds, and drove the Russian militia with fearful
slaughter back to the graveyard of Kunersdorf. At five o’clock the king
sent off the courier and the victory was assured.

“The victory was assured!” reechoed the mighty voice of the people. With
warm and kindly eyes they looked upon each other. Proud, glad, happy,
men who did not know each other, who had never met, now felt that they
were brothers, the sons of one fatherland, and they clasped hands, and
shouted their congratulations.

Suddenly, at the end of the street, another horseman appeared. He drew
nearer and nearer. It is a second courier, a second message of our king
to his family and his Berliners.

The people looked at him distrustfully, anxiously. What means this
second courier? What news does he bring?

His countenance gay, his brow clear, with a flashing smile he greets the
people. He brings news of victory--complete, assured victory.

Like the first courier, he dashed on to the castle, to give his
dispatches to the queen and the ministers. The people were drunk with
joy. The equipages of the nobles rolled by. Every one whose rank gave
him the privilege wished to offer his personal congratulations to the
queen.

And now in the Konigstrasse was seen a venerable procession. The
magistrates of Berlin--in front the burgomasters with their long
periwigs and golden chains, behind them the worthy city council--all
hastened to the castle to offer congratulations in the name of the city.

The crowd drew back respectfully before the worthy city fathers, and
opened a path for them, then fixed their eyes again upon the balcony
where Minister Herrberg again appeared, and called for silence.

He will give us the news of the second courier. The victory is absolute.
The Russians completely defeated. They had retreated to Kunersdorf. In
this village they proposed to defend themselves. But the Prussians were
unceasingly pressing upon them. Seven redoubts, Kirchhof, Spitzberg, and
one hundred and eighty-six cannon had been taken. The enemy had suffered
a monstrous loss, and was in the greatest confusion. The fate of the
day seemed conclusive. This was owing to the heroic courage of the army,
whom neither the blazing heat of the sun nor the unexampled slaughter
could for a moment restrain. At six o’clock, when the king sent off this
second courier, the enemy had retreated behind his last
intrenchments, and taken refuge at Gudenberg. [Footnote: Frederick the
Great.--Thiebault]

A loud hurrah broke from the people as Herzberg finished and left the
balcony. Now there was no room for doubt. The enemy was overwhelmed and
had fled to his last intrenchment. Would the king leave him unmolested,
and would he not still drive the hated enemy further?

While groups of men were assembled here and there, discussing these
weighty questions, and others, intoxicated, drunk with joy at this great
victory over their hereditary enemy, were making eloquent addresses to
the people, a third courier appeared in sight.

Breathless with expectation and anxiety, they would not give him time to
reach the castle. They must--they would know the news he brings. There
should be no delay, no temporizing, no mysteries. The people were one
great family. They awaited the message of their father. They demanded
news of their distant sons and brothers.

The third courier brings renewed assurances. The Russians are routed.
The king will give them no rest. He will drive them from their last
stronghold. With his whole army, with cavalry and militia, with all his
cannon, he was in the act of storming Gudenberg. This is the message of
the third courier.

The people are proud and happy. No one thinks of going home. In fact,
they have no home but the streets. Every house would be too small
for this great family which feels a thirst to express its joy and its
rapture to each other. And then it was possible the king might send
another courier. Who could go home till they knew that the Russians
were driven from their last stronghold, that Gudenberg was drenched in
Russian blood?

No one doubted that this news would come--must come. Not the slightest
fear, the least doubt troubled the proud, pure joy of this hour. The
victory was achieved, but it was still charming to hear it confirmed; to
receive these heavenly messages. Every open space was filled with men.
Each one would see and hear for himself. No man thought himself too
distinguished, too sick, too weak, to stand for hours in the burning
sun, carried about involuntarily by this fluctuating wave of humanity.
Side by side with the laborer stood the elegant lady in her silk robes;
near the poor beggar in his ragged jacket were seen the high official
and the wealthy banker in their rich dresses.

Move than fifty thousand men were now assembled and waiting--waiting for
what they knew not--for news--for a courier who could give the details.
It was not enough to know that the king had conquered; they wished to
know the extent and the significance of this victory; and lastly,
they would know the bloody offering which this victory had cost. The
dinner-hour was passed. What cared this happy people for dinner? They
hungered for no earthly food; they thirsted for no earthly drink; they
were satisfied with the joy of victory. The clock struck three. Yes,
there comes a horseman, his bridle is hanging loose--he is covered with
dust--but how, what means this? His face is pale as death; his eyes
are misty; he looks around shame-faced and confused. No happy news is
written upon this dark and clouded brow. What means this messenger of
death in the midst of joy, triumph, and proud consciousness of victory?
They seek to hold him, to question him, but he gives no answer. He spurs
his wearied horse till he springs aloft, and the men in rash terror are
crushed against each other; but the horseman makes no sign. Silently he
dashes on through the laughing, chatting crowd, but wherever he passes,
laughter and smiles disappear, and speech is silenced.

It seemed as if the angel of death had touched his brow, and the happy
ones shuddered at his untimely presence. Now he has reached the castle,
he descends from his horse. In breathless silence, pallid, trembling
they know not why, those who have seen this dumb messenger look up
shudderingly to the balcony. At last, after long waiting, the Minister
Herzberg appeared once more.

But, O God! what means this? he is pale--his eyes are filled with tears.
He opens his mouth to speak, but strength has left him. He holds on to
the bars of the balcony, otherwise he would sink. At last he collects
himself. It is not necessary to ask for silence; the silence of the
grave is upon those torpid men. He speaks! his voice is faint and weak,
and trembles--oh, so fearfully! only a few in the first rank can hear
his words.

“The battle is lost! The Russians have conquered! The Austrians came to
their assistance! The presence of the Austrians was not known, they had
their tents in holes in the ground! As our militia rushed upon the last
intrenchment at Judenberg and were only a hundred steps distant, Loudon
suddenly advanced with his fresh troops, against the worn-out and
exhausted victors. He received the Prussians with so murderous a fire,
that their ranks faltered, wavered, and, at last, broke loose in wild
flight, pursued furiously by the raging enemy. The fortunes of the day
had turned; we lost the battle. But all is not lost. The king lives! he
is slightly wounded; three horses were shot under him. He lives, and so
long as he lives, there is hope. In the far distance, in the midst of
the terrible disaster? which have befallen himself and his army, he
thinks of his Berliners. He sends you a father’s greeting, and exhorts
every one of you to save his possessions, as far as possible. Those who
do not feel safe in Berlin, and who fear the approaching enemy, the king
counsels to withdraw, if possible, with their money, to Magdeburg, where
the royal family will take refuge this evening.”

The minister was silent, and the people who had listened, dumb with
horror, now broke out in wild cries of anguish and despair. Terror was
written in every face; tears gushed from every eye. Cries of unspeakable
agony burst from those lips, which, a few moments before, were eloquent
with hope and gladness.

As if it were impossible to believe in these misfortunes without further
confirmation, some men called loudly for the messenger, and the distant
crowd, as if inspired with new hope, roared louder and louder:

“The courier! the courier! we will ourselves speak with the courier!”

The demand was so threatening, so continuous, it must be complied with.
Herzberg stepped upon the balcony, and informed the crowd that the
courier would at once descend to the public square. A breathless silence
succeeded; every eye was fixed upon the castle-gate, through which the
courier must come. When he appeared, the crowd rushed forward toward
him in mad haste. Cries of woe and suffering were heard. The people,
with--mad with pain, beside themselves with despair, had no longer
any mercy, any pity for each other. They rushed upon the messenger
of misfortune, without regarding those who, in the midst of this wild
tumult, were cast down, and trodden under foot.

The messenger began his sad story. He repeated all that the minister had
said; he told of the deadly strife, of the bloody havoc, of the raging
advance of the Austrians, and of the roar for vengeance of the reassured
Russians. He told how the cannon-balls of the enemy had stricken down
whole ranks of Prussians; that more than twenty thousand dead and
wounded Prussians lay upon the battle-field; that all the cannon and all
the colors had fallen into the hands of the enemy.

The people received this news with tears, cries, and lamentations.
The courier spoke also of the king. He, himself, had belonged to the
body-guard of the king--had been ever near him. He had seen the king
standing in the midst of the thickest shower of balls, when his two
adjutants fell at his side. At last, a ball came and wounded the king’s
horse--the Vogel--so fearfully, that the brave steed fell. Frederick
mounted another horse, but remained upon the same spot; a second ball
wounded this horse, and the king quietly mounted that of Captain Gotzen.
At this moment, a bullet struck the king in the breast, but the golden
etui which the king carried in his pocket, had turned it aside, and thus
saved his life. In vain had the generals and adjutants entreated him to
leave this place, and think of his personal safety. His answer was--“We
must seek, at this point, to win the battle. I must do my duty here with
the rest.” [Footnote: The king’s own words.--See Thiebault, p. 214.]

Many voices cried out--“Where is the king now?”

The courier did not answer; but the question was so fiercely, so
stormily repeated, that he was compelled to go on.

“The king, in the midst of the confusion and horror of the flight, had
called him, and commanded him to gallop to Berlin, and bear the fatal
news to Minister Herzberg. He had then galloped by him, exactly against
the enemy, as if he wished their balls to strike him; a little troop of
his most faithful soldiers had followed!”

“The king is lost! the king is a prisoner--wounded--perhaps dead!” cried
the terrified people.

Suddenly, the mad tumult was interrupted by loud shouts of joy, which
swelled and thundered like an avalanche from the other side of the
square. A fifth courier had arrived, and brought the news of the
complete defeat of the Russians, and a glorious Prussian victory. Now,
one of those memorable, wondrous--grand scenes took place, which no
earthly phantasy could contrive or prepare, to which only Providence
could give form and color. As if driven by the storm-winds of every
powerful earthly passion, this great sea of people fluctuated here and
there. At one point, thousands were weeping over the news which the
unhappy messenger had brought. Near by, thousands were huzzaing and
shouting over the joyful intelligence brought by the fifth courier,
while those who had been near enough to the fourth courier to understand
his words, turned aside to give the sad news to those who were afar off.
Coming at the same time from the other side, they were met by a mighty
mass of men, who announced, with glad cries, the news of victory,
brought by the fifth courier. Here you could see men, with their arms
raised to heaven, thanking God for the hardly-won victory. A little
farther on, pale, frightened creatures, motionless, bowed down, and
grief-stricken. Here were women, with glowing cheeks and sparkling eyes,
shouting over their hero king. There, the people wept and moaned; their
king had disappeared, was a prisoner, or dead. As at the Tower of Babel,
the people spoke in a thousand tongues, and no one listened to another;
every one was lost--blinded by his own passionate hopes and fears.

At last the two couriers were called upon to come face to face and
decide these important questions. Strong men lifted them upon their
shoulders and brought them together; a profound and fearful silence
ensued, every man felt that he stood upon the eve of a mighty
revelation; fifty thousand men were waiting breathlessly for news of
happiness beyond compare, or of unspeakable woe. The conversation of the
two horsemen standing upon the shoulders of their townsmen was quick and
laconic.

“At what hour did the king send you off?” said the fourth courier to the
fifth.

“At six. The king himself commissioned me.”

“Where stood our army at that time?” said the fourth courier.

“They stood before the hollow ground, and the Russians had withdrawn
to the intrenchments of Zudenberg; we had taken a hundred and twenty
cannon, and many of our soldiers were wandering about the battle-field
looking at the batteries they had taken.” [Footnote: Bodman.]

“Yes,” said the fourth courier, sadly, “that was at six, but at seven
we were in full flight. Loudon had risen from the ground, and the
frightened, conquered Russians had recovered themselves. You left at
six, I at eight; I have ridden more rapidly than you. Unhappily, I am
right, the battle is lost!”

“The battle is lost!” howled the people; “the king is also lost! Woe!
woe!”

At this moment the royal equipages were seen making their way slowly
through the crowd, and the advance guard were praying the people to
open a way for the travelling carriages to reach the castle. These words
excited new alarm. “We are lost! Let us fly, let us fly! The court, the
queen, and the princesses flee--let us save ourselves! The Russians
will come to Berlin--they will annihilate us. We are deserted and lost,
lost!--no one knows where our king is!”

As if driven by madness, the crowds rushed against each other, like the
sea when it divides, and in billowy streams pours itself out here and
there; and the cry of anguish which now rang out from the castle square,
found its echo in every street and every house.



CHAPTER XI. AFTER THE BATTLE.


The cannon were silenced, the discharges of musketry had ceased. On the
great plain of Kunersdorf, where, a few hours before, a bloody battle
had been raging, all was quiet. Could this be called repose? How cruel
was the tranquillity which rested now upon this fearful battle-field!

It was the peace of death--the stillness which the awful messenger of
Heaven presses as a sign and seal of his love upon the pale lips of the
dead. Happy they whose immortal spirits were quickly wafted away by the
dread kiss--they no longer suffer. Woe to those who yet live, though
they belong to death, and who lie surrounded by grinning corpses! The
cold bodies of their comrades are the pillows upon which they lay their
bloody heads. The groans of the dying form the awful melody which awakes
them to consciousness; and the, starry sky of this clear, transparent
summer night is the only eye of love which bows down to them and looks
upon them in their agony.

Happy those whom the murderous sword and the crushing ball carried off
in an instant to the land of spirits! Woe, woe to those lying upon the
battle-field, living, breathing, conscious of their defeat and of their
great agony! Woe! woe! for they hear the sound of the tramping and
neighing of horses--they come nearer and nearer. The moon throws the
long, dark shadows of those advancing horse-men over the battle-field.
It is fearful to see their rash approach; spurring over thousands
of pale corpses, not regarding the dying, who breathe out their last
piteous sighs under the hoofs of these wild horses.

The Cossack has no pity; he does not shudder or draw back from this
monstrous open grave, which has received thousands of men as if they
were one great corpse. The Cossack has come to rob and to plunder; he
spares neither friend nor foe. He is the heir of the dead and of the
dying, and he has come for his inheritance. If he sees a ring sparkling
upon the hand of a grinning corpse, he springs from his horse and tears
it off. If his greedy, cruel eye rests upon a rich uniform he seizes it,
he tears it off from the bleeding, wounded body, no matter whether it is
dead or still breathing and rattling.

Look at that warrior who, groaning with anguish, his limbs torn to
pieces, bleeding from a thousand wounds, is lying in an open grave;
he is wounded to death; he still holds his sword in his left hand--his
right arm has been torn off by a cannon-ball, a shot that he might not
be trampled upon by the horses’ hoofs; they are forced to leave him in
the hands of God and to the mercy of man.

But the Cossack knows no mercy. That is a word he has never heard in his
Russian home; he has no fear of God before his eyes--he fears the Czar
and his captain, and above all other things, he fears the knout. He
knows nothing of pity, for it has never been shown him--how then should
he exercise it?

When the Cossack saw the Prussian officer in his gold-embroidered
uniform, he sprang from his horse and threw the bridle over him, a
shrill whistle told the wild steed, the Cossack’s better half, that he
must stand still. He sprang into the grave where the Prussian warrior,
the German poet, was laid to rest. Yes, a great German poet lies
there--a poet by the grace of God. All Germany knows him, “their
songster of the spring.” All Germany had read and been inspired by his
lays. The Austrian and the Saxon considered the Prussian Major Ewald
von Kleist their enemy, but they loved and admired the poet, Ewald von
Kleist. The people are never enemies to poesy, and even politics are
silent before her melodious voice.

There he lies, the gallant warrior, the inspired, noble poet; his broken
eyes are turned to heaven; his blue, cold lips are opened and wearily
stammering a few disconnected words. Perhaps he thinks in this last hour
of the last words of his last poem. Perhaps his stiffening lips murmured
these words which his mangled hand had written just before the battle:

     “Death for one’s fatherland is ever honorable.
     How gladly will I die that noble death
     When my destiny calls!”

Yes, death might have been beautiful, but fate is never propitious to
German poets. It would have been noble and sweet to die in the wild
tumult of battle, under the sound of trumpets, amid the shouts of
victory; sweet thus, with a smile upon the lip to yield up the immortal
spirit.

Ewald von Kleist, the German poet, received his death-wound upon the
field of battle, but he did not die there; he lives, he knows that the
battle is lost, that his blood has been shed in vain. The Cossack has
come down into his grave--with greedy eyes he gazes at the rich booty.
This bleeding, mangled body--this is to the Cossack not a man, it is
only a uniform which is his; with hands trembling with greed he tears it
from the quivering, bleeding form. What to him is the death-rattle and
the blood--even the bloody shirt dying frame. [Footnote: “History of the
Seven Years’ War.”--Thiebault, 363.] The Prussian warrior, the German
poet, lay there naked, his own blood alone covered his wounded body,
wrapped it in a purple mantle, worthy of the poet’s crown with which his
countrymen had decked his brow.

But Ewald von Kleist is no longer a poet or a hero--he is a poor,
suffering, tortured child of earth; he lies on the damp ground, he
pleads for a few rags to cover his wounds, into which the muddy water of
the hole in which he lies is rushing.

And now fate seems favorable. A Russian officer is riding by--he takes
pity on the naked man with the gaping wounds; he throws him a soldier’s
old mantle, a piece of bread, and a half gulden. [Footnote: “Seven
Years’ War,” 353.] The German poet receives the alms of the Russian
thankfully--he covers himself with the cloak, he tries to eat the bread.

But destiny is never propitious to German poets. The Cossacks swarm
again upon the battle-field, and again they approach the groaning
warrior in the open grave; he has no longer a glittering uniform, but
the Cossack takes all; the poor old mantle excites his greed--he tears
it from the unresisting soldier; he opens his hands and takes out the
half gulden which Ewald von Kleist had received from the Russian hussar.

Again he lies naked, again the muddy water forces into his wounds, and
adds cruel torture to the agonies of death. So lies he till the next
day, till the enemy takes pity upon him and carries him as a prisoner
to Frankfort. [Footnote: Ewald von Kleist died a few days after this,
on the 24th of August. The Russians gave him an honorable burial; and as
there was no sword upon his coffin, Captain Bulow, chief of the Russian
dragoons, took his own from his side and placed it upon the bier,
saying, “So worthy an officer shall not be buried without every mark of
honor.”--Archenholtz, 262.]

Happy those who meet with sudden death. It is true all the living did
not share the cruel fate of Ewald von Kleist, but all those thousands
who were borne wounded and bleeding from the battle-field were conscious
of their sufferings and their defeat.

The little village of Octshef near the battle-field was a hospital.
During the battle all the inhabitants had fled. The wounded had taken
possession of the huts and the surgeons were hastening from house to
house giving relief where it was possible. No one entered into those
two little huts which lay at the other end of the village, somewhat
separated from the others. And yet those huts contained two wounded men.
They had been brought here during the battle--the surgeon had examined
their wounds and gone out silently, never to return. Groaning from time
to time, these two wounded men lay upon the straw, their eyes fixed
upon the door, longing for the surgeon to bring them help, or at least
alleviation.

And now the door was indeed opened, and an officer entered. Was it the
obscurity of twilight, or had blood and pain blinded the eyes of the
wounded men so that, they could not recognize the stranger? It was
true his noble and generally cheerful face was now grave and stern, his
cheeks were ashy pale, and his great, flashing eyes were dim; but
there was still something inexpressibly majestic and commanding in
his appearance--though defeated and cast down, he was still a hero, a
king--Frederick the Great!

Frederick had come to take up his quarters in this lonely hut, to be
alone in his great grief; but when he saw the two wounded men, his
expression changed to one of earnest sympathy. With hasty steps he drew
near to the two officers, bowed over and questioned them kindly. They
recognized his voice--that voice which had so often inspired them to
bold deeds in the wild whirl of battle, but whose tones were now mild
and sympathetic.

“The king!” cried both in joyful surprise, and forgetting their wounds
and helplessness, they strove to rise, but sank back with hollow groans,
with the blood streaming anew from their wounds.

“Poor children,” said Frederick, “you are badly wounded.”

“Yes,” groaned Lieutenant von Grabow, “badly wounded, but that is of
small consequence, if, your majesty, we only knew that we had gained the
day. We had taken two redoubts, and were storming the third, when this
misfortune befell us. Tell us, your majesty, is it not true? Is not the
victory ours?”

A dark shadow passed over the face of the king, but soon disappeared.

“You must now think only of yourselves. You have proved that you are
brave--the rest is accident or fate. Do not despond, all will be well.
Have your wounds been dressed? Have you been fed?”

“Ah, sire, no devil will dress our wounds,” groaned Lieutenant von
Hubenfall.

“How,” cried the king, “have they left you here without care and
assistance?”

“Yes, sire, there is no earthly hope for us.”

The king was about to answer, when several people, bearing hand-barrows,
accompanied by a surgeon, entered.

“What do you wish?” said the king, angrily.

“Sire,” answered the surgeon, “we will remove the wounded, as your
majesty will make your night-quarters here.”

The king threw a scornful glance upon them.

“And you suppose that I will allow this? The wounded men remain here. I
will seek shelter elsewhere. But, above all things, examine the wounds
of these two officers at once, and dress them.”

The surgeon advanced, and examined them carefully, then drew near the
king.

“Your majesty,” said he, shrugging his shoulders, “it would be all in
vain. A cannon-ball has torn off the right arm of one of these men, and
he must die of gangrene. The other has a cartridge-load of iron in his
face and in his body. It is impossible to bind up these wounds.”

The king did not answer him. He stepped hastily to the straw-bed, and
took both the wounded men by the hand. Then, turning to the surgeon, he
said--

“Look, now, these two men are young and powerful--they have no fever.
With such young blood and fresh hearts Nature often does wonders. Dress
them, and bind up their wounds, and, above all things, see that they
have nourishment--they have need of it.”

“Ah, yes, your majesty; we have been hungry and thirsty a long time,”
 said Grabow.

The king smiled. “See, now, you think they are lost, and yet they have
healthy stomachs; so long as a man is hungry he will not die.”

The surgeon opened his case of instruments and commenced to dress the
wounds. The king watched him for a long time, then stooped down and
said, tenderly, “Children, do not despair; I will learn how it goes with
you, and if you are no longer fit for service, I will take care of you.
Believe that I will not forget you.” He bowed kindly and left the room.
His adjutants were awaiting him at the door of the tent. [Footnote: The
king’s own words. The whole scene is historical. These two officers,
whom the king saved in this way from death, recovered rapidly. After
they were completely restored, they again took part in the contest,
and were again severely wounded at Kolberg. They served until peace
was declared, and then retired on the invalid list, and, by the express
order of the king, were most kindly cared for.--See Nicolai.] The king
signed to them to follow him, and stepping rapidly through the village,
he passed by the huts from which loud cries of anguish and low murmurs
were heard.

“Ah,” cried Frederick, “Dante did not know all the horrors of hell, or
he forgot to paint those I now suffer.” He hastened on--on--on, in the
obscure twilight of the summer night, pursued by the sighs and groans
of his dying and wounded soldiers; a deep, immeasurable sadness lay
upon his brow; his lips were trembling; cold perspiration stood upon his
forehead; his eyes wandered over the battle-field, then were raised
to heaven with a questioning and reproachful expression. Already the
village lay far behind him; but he hurried on, he had no aim, no object;
he wished only to escape this hell, this cry of despair and woe from the
condemned. An adjutant dared at last to step forward and awake him from
his sad mood.

“Sire,” said he, “the Cossacks are swarming in every direction, and if
your majesty goes on, the most fearful results may be anticipated. The
Cossacks shoot at every man who wears a good coat.”

The king shook his head sadly. “There is no ball for me,” said he in a
low tone; “I have in vain called upon death. I have prayed in mercy for
a ball; it came, but it only grazed my breast. No, no--there is no ball
for me!” He advanced, and the adjutant dared once more to interrupt him.

“Sire,” said he, “will not your majesty seek night-quarters?”

Frederick raised his head, and was in the act of answering hastily, then
said: “Yes, I need night-quarters.” He looked around and saw an empty
peasant’s house by the wayside, drew near and entered silently.



CHAPTER XII. A HEROIC SOUL.


“I will pass the night here,” said he, “the place appears deserted; we
will disturb no one.”

The king was right. The miserable old hut was empty. No one advanced to
meet him as he entered. In one corner of the room there was some dirty
straw; in the other a wooden table and stool--this was all.

“It suffices for me,” said the king, smiling. “I will pass the night
here. Have you my writing materials with you?”

“I sent Adjutant von Goltz for them, sire, as I did not wish to leave
you alone.”

Goltz now entered with the king’s portfolio, and informed him that he
had brought two grenadiers to guard the house.

“Have I still grenadiers?” murmured the king, in a trembling voice. His
head fell upon his breast, and he stood thus lost in deep thought for a
while. “Gentlemen,” said he, at length, “inspect the house. See if there
is a more comfortable room than this; if not, I suppose we can manage
to sleep here. Send one of the guard for some soldiers, by whom I can
forward my dispatches.”

The adjutants bowed, and left the room. The king was alone. He could at
last give way to his despair--his grief.

“All, all is lost!” murmured the king, and a voice within him answered:
“When all is lost, there is no escape but death! It is unworthy to
continue a life without fame, without glory. The grave alone is a
resting-place for the broken-hearted, humiliated man!”

The king listened attentively to this voice. He had borne with patience
the sorrows and deprivations of the past years, but he could not survive
the ruin of his country. His country was lost. There was no chance of
saving it; his army was gone. The victorious enemy had taken all the
neighboring provinces. The Russians could now march undisturbed to
Berlin. They would find no resistance, for the garrison there consisted
of invalids and cripples.

Berlin was lost! Prussia was lost! The king was resolved to die, for he
was a king without a crown, a hero without laurels. He wished to die,
for he could not survive the destruction of his country. But first he
must arrange his affairs, make his will, and bid adieu to his friends.
The king opened the door hastily, and desired that a light should
be brought--it was no easy thing to procure in this dismal, deserted
village. The adjutant succeeded at last, however, in getting a few
small tallow candles, and placing them in old bottles, in the absence of
candlesticks of any description, he carried them to the king. Frederick
did not observe him; he stood at the open window, gazing earnestly
at the starry firmament. The bright light aroused him; he turned, and
approached the table.

“My last letters!” murmured he, sinking upon the wooden stool, and
opening his portfolio.

How his enemies would have rejoiced, could they have seen him in that
wretched hovel! He first wrote to General Fink, to whom he wished to
leave the command of his army. He must fulfil the duties of state,
before those of friendship. It was not a letter--rather an order to
General Fink, and read as follows:

“General Fink will find this a weary and tedious commission. The army
I leave is no longer in a condition to defend itself from the Russians.
Haddeck will hasten to Berlin. Loudon also, I presume. If you intercept
them, the Russians will be in your rear; if you remain by the Oder,
Haddeck will surround you. I nevertheless believe, were Loudon to come
to Berlin, you could attack and defeat him. This, were it possible,
would give you time to arrange matters, and I can assure you, time
is every thing, in such desperate circumstances as ours. Koper, my
secretary, will give you the dispatches from Torgau and Dresden. You
must acquaint my brother, whom I make general-in-chief of the army, with
all that passes. In the mean time, his orders must be obeyed. The army
must swear by my nephew. This is the only advice I am able to give. Had
I any resources, I would stand fast by you. FREDERICK.” [Footnote: The
king’s own words.]

“Yes, I would have stood by them,” murmured the king, as he folded and
addressed his letter. “I would have borne still longer this life of
oppression and privation; but now, honor demands that I should die.”

He took another sheet of paper. It was now no order or command, but a
tender, loving, farewell letter to his friend, General Finkenstein.

“This morning, at eleven o’clock, I attacked the enemy; we drove them
back to Gudenberg. All my men performed deeds of daring and bravery,
but, at the storming of Gudenberg, a terrific number of lives were lost.
My army became separated. I reassembled them three times, but in vain.
At last, they fled in wild disorder. I very nearly became a prisoner,
and was obliged to leave the field to the enemy. My uniform was torn by
the cannon-balls, two horses were shot underneath me, but death shunned
me; I seemed to bear a charmed life; I could not die! From an army
of forty-eight thousand men, there now remains three thousand. The
consequences of this battle will be more fearful than the battle itself.
It is a terrible misfortune, and I will not survive it. There is no
one to whom I can look for help. I cannot survive my country’s ruin.
Farewell!”

“And now,” said the king, when he had sealed and directed his letter,
“now I am ready; my worldly affairs are settled. I am at the end of my
sufferings, and dare claim that last, deep rest granted by Nature to
us all. I have worked enough, suffered enough; and if, after a life of
stormy disasters, I seek my grave, no one can say it was cowardly not
to live--for all the weight of life rolled upon me, forced me to the
ground, and the grave opened beneath my feet. I continued to hope,
when overwhelmed with defeat at every point. Every morning brought new
clouds, new sorrows. I bore it courageously, trusting that misfortune
would soon weary, the storms blow over, and a clear, cloudless sky
envelop me. I deceived myself greatly; my sorrows increased. And now,
the worst has happened; my country is lost! Who dares say I should
survive this loss? To die at the proper time is also a duty. The Romans
felt this, and acted upon it. I am a true scholar of the old masters,
and wish to prove myself worthy of them. When all is lost, the liberty
to die should not be denied. The world has nothing more to do with me,
and I laugh at her weak, unjust laws. Like Tiberius, will I live and
die! Farewell, then, thou false existence; farewell, weak man! Ah!
there are so many fools--so few men amongst you; I have found so many
faithless friends, so many traitors, so few honest men! In the hour of
misfortune they all deserted me! But, no!” said he; “one remained true.
D’Argens never deceived me, and I had almost forgotten to take leave of
him. Well, death must wait for me, while I write to D’Argens!”

A heavenly inspiration now beamed on his countenance; his eyes shone
like stars. The holy muse had descended to comfort the despairing hero,
to whisper loving and precious words to him. Thus standing at death’s
portals, Frederick wrote his most beautiful poem, called “Ami le sort
en est jete’.” A great wail of woe burst from his soul. The sorrows, the
grievances hid until now from all, he portrayed in touching, beautiful
words to his absent friend. He pictured to him his sufferings, his
hopes, his struggles, and finally, his determination to die. When all
this had been painted in the most glowing colors, when his wounds were
laid bare, he wrote a last and touching farewell to his friend:

     “Adieu, D’Argens! dans ce tableau,
     De mon trepas tu vois la cause;
     Au moins ne pense pas du neant du caveau,
     Que j’aspire a l’apotheose.
     Tout ce que l’amitie par ces vers propose,
     C’est que tant qu’ici-bas le celeste flambeau;
     Eclairera tes jours tandis que je repose,
     Et lorsque le printemps paraissant de nouveau.
     De son sein abondant t’offre les fleurs ecloses,
     Chaque fois d’un bouquet de myrthes et de roses,
     Tu daignes parer mon tombeau.”

     [Footnote:
     “Adieu, D’Argens! In this picture
     Thou wilt see the cause of my death;
     At least, do not think, a nothing in the vault,
     That I aspire to apotheosis.
     All that friendship by these lines proposes
     Is only this much, that here the celestial torch
     May clear thy days while I repose,
     And each time when the Spring appears anew
     And from her abundant breast offers thee the flowers there enclosed
     That thou with a bouquet of myrtle and rose
     Wilt deign to decorate my tomb.”]

“Ah!” murmured the king, as he folded and addressed his poetical letter,
“how lovely it must now be at Sans-Souci! Well, well! my grave shall
be there, and D’Argens will cover it with flowers. And have I no other
friends at Sans-Souci? My good old hounds, my crippled soldiers! They
cannot come to me, but I will go to them.”

The king then arose, opened the door, and asked if a messenger was in
readiness; receiving an answer in the affirmative, he gave the three
letters to the adjutant. “And now my work is finished,” said he, “now I
can die.” He took from his breast-pocket a small casket of gold which he
always carried with him, and which, in the late battle, had served him
as a shield against the enemy’s balls. The lid had been hollowed in by a
ball; strange to say, this casket, which had saved his life, was now to
cause his death. For within it there was a small vial containing three
pills of the most deadly poison, which the king had kept with him since
the beginning of the war. The king looked at the casket thoughtfully.
“Death here fought against death; and still how glorious it would have
been to die upon the battle-field believing myself the victor!” He held
the vial up to the light and shook it; and as the pills bounded up
and down, he said, smiling sadly, “Death is merry! It comes eagerly to
invite me to the dance. Well, well, my gay cavalier, I am ready for the
dance.”

He opened the vial and emptied the pills into his hand. Then arose and
approached the window to see once more the sky with its glittering stars
and its brightly-beaming moon, and the battle-field upon which thousands
of his subjects had this day found their death. Then raised the hand
with the pills. What was it that caused him to hesitate? Why did his
hand fall slowly down? What were his eyes so intently gazing on?

The king was not gazing at the sky, the stars, or the moon; but far
off into the distance, at the Austrian camp-fires. There were the
conquerors, there was Soltikow and Loudon with their armies. The king
had observed these fires before entering the hut, but their number had
now increased, a sign that the enemy had not advanced, but was resting.
How? Was it possible that the enemy, not taking advantage of their
victory, was not following the conquered troops, but giving them time
to rally, to outmarch them, perhaps time to reach the Spree, perhaps
Berlin?

“If this is so,” said the king, answering his own thoughts, “if the
enemy neglects to give me the finishing-blow, all is not lost. If there
is a chance of salvation for my country, I must not die; she needs me,
and it is, my duty to do all in my power to retrieve the past.”

He looked again at the camp-fires, and a bright smile played about his
lips.

“If those fires speak aright,” said he, “my enemies are more
generous--or more stupid--than I thought, and many advantages may still
be derived from this lost battle. If so, I must return to my old motto
that ‘life is a duty.’ And so long as good, honorable work is to be
done, man has no right to seek the lazy rest of the grave. I must
ascertain at once if my suspicions are correct. Death may wait awhile.
As long as there is a necessity for living, I cannot die.”

He returned the pills to the vial and hid the casket in its former
resting-place. Then passing hastily through the room, he opened the
door. The two adjutants were sitting upon the wooden bench in front of
the hut; both were asleep. The grenadiers were pacing with even tread up
and down before the house; deep quiet prevailed. The king stood at the
door looking in amazement at the glorious scene before him. He inhaled
with delight the soft summer air; never had it seemed to him so balmy,
so full of strengthening power, and he acknowledged that never had the
stars, the moon, the sky looked as beautiful. With lively joy he felt
the night-wind toying with his hair. The king would not tire of all
this; it seemed to him as if a friend, dead long since, mourned and
bewailed, had suddenly appeared to him beaming with health, and as if he
must open his arms and say, “Welcome, thou returned one. Fate separated
us; but now, as we have met, we will never leave one another, but cling
together through life and death, through good and evil report.”

Life was the friend that appeared to Frederick, and he now felt his
great love for it. Raising his eyes in a sort of ecstasy to the sky, he
murmured, “I swear not to seek death unless at the last extremity, if,
when made a prisoner, I cannot escape. I swear to live, to suffer, so
long as I am free.”

He had assumed the harness of life, and was determined to battle bravely
with it.



CHAPTER XIII. THE TWO GRENADIERS.


Smiling, and with elastic step, the king advanced to meet the two
grenadiers, who stood rooted to the spot as he approached them.
“Grenadiers,” said he, “why are you not with your comrades?”

“Our comrades fled,” said one.

“It is dishonorable to fly,” said the other.

The king was startled. These voices were familiar, he had surely heard
them before.

“I ought to know you,” said he, “this is not the first time we have
spoken together. What is your name, my son?”

“Fritz Kober is my name,” said the grenadier.

“And yours?”

“Charles Henry Buschman,” said the other.

“You are not mistaken, sir king! we have met and spoken before, but it
was on a better night than this.”

“Where was it?” said the king.

“The night before the great, the glorious battle of Leuthen,” said Fritz
Kober, gravely; “at that time, sir king, you sat at our tent-fire
and ate dumplings with us. Charles Henry knows how to cook them so
beautifully!”

“Ah! I remember,” said the king; “you made me pay my share of the
costs.”

“And you did so, like a true king,” said Fritz Kober. “Afterward you
came back to our tent-fire, and Charles Henry Buschman told you fairy
tales, nobody can do that so beautifully as Charles Henry, and you slept
refreshingly throughout.”

“No, no, grenadier,” said the king, “I did not sleep, and I can tell you
to-day all that Charles Henry related.”

“Well, what was it?” said Fritz Kober, with great delight.

The king reflected a moment, and then said, in a soft voice:

“He told of a king who was so fondly loved by a beautiful fairy, that
she changed herself into a sword when the king went to war and helped
him to defeat his enemies! Is that it. Fritz Kober?”

“Nearly so, sir king; I wish you had such a fairy at your side to-day.”

“Still, Fritz,” whispered Charles Henry Buschman, “our king does not
need the help of a fairy; our king can maintain his own cause, and God
is with his sword.”

“Do you truly believe that, my son?” said the king, deeply moved. “Have
you still this great confidence in me? Do you still believe that I can
sustain myself and that God is with me?”

“We have this confidence, and we will never lose it!” cried Charles
Henry, quickly. “Our enemies over there have no Frederick to lead them
on, no commander-in-chief to share with them hunger and thirst, and
danger and fatigue; therefore they cannot love their leaders as we do
ours.”

“And then,” said Fritz Kober, thoughtfully, “I am always thinking that
this war is like a battle of the cats and hounds. Sometimes it looks as
if the little cats would get the better of the great bulldogs; they have
sharp claws, and scratch the dogs in the face till they can neither
see nor hear, and must for a while give way; they go off, however, give
themselves a good shake, and open their eyes, and spring forward as
great and strong and full of courage as ever; they seize upon the poor
cats in the nape of the neck and bite them deadly with their strong,
powerful teeth. What care they if the cats do scratch in the mean while?
No, no, sir king, the cats cannot hold out to the end; claws are neither
so strong nor so lasting as teeth.”

“Yes,” said the king, laughing, “but how do you know but our foes over
there are the hounds and we are the little cats?”

“What!” cried Fritz Kober, amazed, “we shall be the cats? No, no, sir
king, we are the great hounds.”

“But how can you prove this?”

“How shall I prove it?” said Fritz Kober, somewhat embarrassed. After
a short pause, he cried out, gayly, “I have it--I will prove it. Those
over there are the cats because they are Russians and Austrians, and do
not serve a king as we do; they have only two empresses, two women. Now,
sir king, am I not right? Women and cats, are they not alike? So those
over there are the cats and we are the bull dogs!”

Frederick was highly amused. “Take care,” said he, “that ‘those over
there’ do not hear you liken their empresses to cats.”

“And if they are empresses,” said Fritz Kober, dryly, “they are still
women, and women are cats.”

The king looked over toward the camp-fires, which were boldly shining on
the horizon.

“How far is it from here to those fires?” said he.

“About an hour,” said Charles Henry, “not more.”

“One hour,” repeated the king, softly. “In one hour, then, I could know
my fate! Listen, children, which of you will go for me?”

Both exclaimed in the same moment, “I will!”

“It is a fearful attempt,” said the king, earnestly; “the Cossacks are
swarming in every direction, and if you escape them, you may be caught
in the camp and shot as spies.”

“I will take care that they shall not recognize me as an enemy,” said
Charles Henry, quietly.

“I also,” said Fritz Kober, zealously. “You stay, Charles Henry, we dare
not both leave the king. You know that only this evening, while upon
the watch, we swore that, even if the whole army of the enemy marched
against us, we would not desert our king, but would stand at our post
as long as there was a drop of blood in our veins or a breath in our
bodies.”

The king laid his hands upon the two soldiers and looked at them with
much emotion. The moon, which stood great and full in the heavens,
lighted up this curious group, and threw three long, dark shadows over
the plain.

“And you have sworn that, my children?” said the king, after a long
pause. “Ah, if all my men thought as you do we would not have been
defeated this day.”

“Sir king, your soldiers all think as we do, but fate was against us.
Just as I said, the cats outnumbered us to-day, but we will bite them
bravely for it next time. And now tell me, sir king, what shall I do
over there in the camp?”

Before the king could answer, Charles Henry laid his hand upon his arm.

“Let me go,” said he, entreatingly; “Fritz Kober is so daring, so
undaunted, he is not cautious; they will certainly shoot him, and then
you have lost the best soldier in your army.”

“Your loss, I suppose, would not be felt; the king can do without you.”

“Listen, children,” said the king, “it is best that you both go; one can
protect the other, and four ears are better than two.”

“The king is right, that is best--we will both go.”

“And leave the king alone and unguarded?”

“No,” said the king, pointing to the two sleepers, “I have my two
adjutants, and they will keep guard for me. Now, listen to what I have
to say to you. Over there is the enemy, and it is most important for
me to know what he is doing, and what he proposes to do. Go, then, and
listen. Their generals have certainly taken up their quarters in the
village. You must ascertain that positively, and then draw near their
quarters. You will return as quickly as possible, and inform me of all
that you hear and see.”

“Is that all?” said Fritz Kober.

“That is all. Now be off, and if you do your duty well, and return fresh
and in good order, you shall be both made officers.” Fritz Kober laughed
aloud. “No, no, sir king, we know that old story already.”

“It is not necessary that you should promise us any thing, your
majesty,” said Charles Henry; “we do not go for a reward, but for
respect and love to our king.”

“But tell me, Fritz Kober, why you laughed so heartily?” said the king.

“Because this is not the first time that your majesty has promised to
make us officers. Before the battle of Leuthen, you said if we were
brave and performed valiant deeds, you would make us officers. Well, we
were brave. Charles Henry took seven prisoners, and I took nine; but we
are not officers.”

“You shall be to-morrow,” said the king. “Now, hasten off, and come back
as quickly as possible.”

“We will leave our muskets here,” said Charles Henry; “we dare not visit
our enemies in Prussian array.”

They placed their arms at the house door, and then clasping each other’s
hands, and making a military salute, they hastened off. The king looked
after them till their slender forms were lost in the distance.

“With fifty thousand such soldiers I could conquer the world,” murmured
he; “they are of the true metal.”

He turned, and stepping up to the two sleepers, touched them lightly on
the shoulders. They sprang up alarmed when they recognized the king.

“You need not excuse yourselves,” said Frederick kindly, “you have had
a day of great fatigue, and are, of course, exhausted. Come into the
house, the night air is dangerous; we will sleep here together.”

“Where are the two grenadiers?” said Goltz.

“I have sent them off on duty.”

“Then your majesty must allow us to remain on guard. I have slept well,
and am entirely refreshed.”

“I also,” said the second lieutenant. “Will your majesty be pleased to
sleep? we will keep guard.”

“Not so,” said the king, “the moon will watch over us all. Come in.”

“But it is impossible that your majesty should sleep thus, entirely
unguarded. The first Cossack that dashes by could take aim at your
majesty through the window.”

Frederick shook his head gravely. “The ball which will strike me will
come from above, [Footnote: The king’s own words.--See Nicolai, p. 118.]
and that you cannot intercept. No, it is better to have no watch before
the door; we will not draw the attention of troops passing by to this
house. I think no one will suppose that this miserable and ruinous
barrack, through which the wind howls, is the residence of a king.
Come, then, messieurs.” He stepped into the hut, followed by the two
adjutants, who dared no longer oppose him. “Put out that light,” said
the king, “the moon will be our torch, and will glorify our bed of
straw.” He drew his sword, and grasping it firmly in his right hand, he
stretched himself upon the straw. “There is room for both of you--lie
down. Good-night, sirs.”

Frederick slightly raised his three-cornered hat in greeting, and then
laid it over his face as a protection from the moonlight and the cold
night air. The adjutants laid down silently at his feet, and soon
no sound was heard in the room but the loud breathing of the three
sleepers.



CHAPTER XIV. THE RIGHT COUNSEL.


Hand in hand the two grenadiers advanced directly toward the
battle-field. Before they could approach the enemy’s camp they must
borrow two Austrian uniforms from the dead upon the plain. It was not
difficult, amongst so many dead bodies, to find two Austrian officers,
and the two Prussian grenadiers went quickly to work to rob the dead and
appropriate their garments.

“I don’t know how it is,” said Charles Henry, shuddering, “a cold chill
thrills through me when I think of putting on a coat which I have just
taken from a dead body. It seems to me the marble chillness of the
corpse will insinuate itself into my whole body, and that I shall never
be warm again.”

Fritz Kober looked up with wide-open eyes! “You have such curious
thoughts, Charles Henry, such as come to no other man; but you are
right, it is a frosty thing.” And now he had removed the uniform and
was about to draw off his own jacket and assume the white coat of the
Austrian. “It is a great happiness,” said he, “that we need not change
our trousers, a little clearer or darker gray can make no difference in
the night.”

Charles Henry was in the act of drawing on the coat of the dead man,
when Fritz Kober suddenly seized his arm and held him back. “Stop,” said
he, “you must do me a favor--this coat is too narrow, and it pinches
me fearfully; you are thinner than I am, and I think it will fit you
exactly; take it and give me yours.” He jerked off the coat and handed
it to his friend.

“No, no, Fritz Kober,” said Charles Henry, in a voice so soft and sweet,
that Fritz was confused and bewildered by it. “No, Fritz, I understand
you fully. You have the heart of an angel; you only pretend that this
coat is too narrow for you that you may induce me to take the one you
have already warmed.”

It was well that Fritz had his back turned to the moon, otherwise his
friend would have seen that his face was crimson; he blushed as if
detected in some wicked act. However, he tore the uniform away from
Charles Henry rather roughly, and hastened to put it on.

“Folly,” said he, “the coat squeezes me, that is all! Besides, it is not
wise to fool away our time in silly talking. Let us go onward.”

“Directly over the battle-field?” said Charles Henry, shuddering.

“Directly over the battle-field,” said Kober, “because that is the
nearest way.”

“Come, then,” said Charles, giving him his hand.

It was indeed a fearful path through which they must walk. They passed
by troops of corpses--by thousands of groaning, rattling, dying men--by
many severely wounded, who cried out to them piteously for mercy and
help! Often Charles Henry hesitated and stood still to offer consolation
to the unhappy wretches, but Fritz Kober drew him on. “We cannot help
them, and we have far to go!” Often the swarming Cossacks, dashing
around on their agile little ponies, called to them from afar off in
their barbarous speech, but when they drew near and saw the Austrian
uniforms, they passed them quietly, and were not surprised they had not
given the pass-word.

At last they passed the battle-field, and came on the open plain, at
the end of which they perceived the camp-fires of the Russians and
Austrians. The nearer they approached, the more lively was the scene.
Shouts, laughter, loud calls, and outcries--from time to time a word of
command. And in the midst of this mad confusion, here and there soldiers
were running, market-women offering them wares cheap, and exulting
soldiers assembling around the camp-fires. From time to time the regular
step of the patrouille was heard, who surrounded the camp, and kept a
watchful eye in every direction.

Arm in arm they passed steadily around the camp. “One thing I know,”
 whispered Fritz Kober, “they have no thought of marching. They will pass
a quiet, peaceful night by their camp-fires.”

“I agree with you,” said Charles Henry, “but let us go forward and
listen a little; perhaps we can learn where the generals are quartered.”

“Look, look! it must be there,” said Fritz Kober, hastily.

“There are no camp-fires; but there is a brilliant light in the
peasants’ huts, and it appears to me that I see a guard before the
doors. These, certainly, are the headquarters.”

“Let us go there, then,” said Charles Henry; “but we must approach the
houses from behind, and thus avoid the guard.”

They moved cautiously around, and drew near the houses. Profound quiet
reigned in this neighborhood; it was the reverence of subordination--the
effect which the presence of superior officers ever exercises upon their
men. Here stood groups of officers, lightly whispering together--there
soldiers were leading their masters’ horses; not far off orderlies were
waiting on horseback--sentinels with shouldered arms were going slowly
by. The attention of all seemed to be fixed upon the two small houses,
and every glance and every ear was turned eagerly toward the brilliantly
lighted windows.

“We have hit the mark exactly,” whispered Fritz Kober; he had succeeded
with his friend in forcing his way into the little alley which separated
the two houses. “We have now reached the head-quarters of the generals.
Look! there is an Austrian sentinel with his bear’s cap. Both the
Austrian and Russian generals are here.”

“Let us watch the Russians a little through the window,” said Charles
Henry, slipping forward.

They reached the corner, and were hidden by the trunk of a tree which
overshadowed the huts. Suddenly they heard the word of command, and
there was a general movement among the files of soldiers assembled
about the square. The officers placed themselves in rank, the soldiers
presented arms; for, at this moment, the Austrian General Loudon,
surrounded by his staff, stepped from one of the small houses into the
square. The Cossacks, who were crouched down on the earth before the
door, raised themselves, and also presented arms.

While Loudon stood waiting, the two Prussian grenadiers slipped slyly to
the other hut.

“Let us go behind,” whispered Charles Henry. “There are no sentinels
there, and perhaps we may find a door, and get into the house.”

Behind the hut was a little garden whose thick shrubs and bushes gave
complete concealment to the two grenadiers. Noiselessly they sprang
over the little fence, and made a reconnoissance of the terrain--unseen,
unnoticed, they drew near the house. As they stepped from behind
the bushes, Fritz Kober seized his friend’s arm, and with difficulty
suppressed a cry of joy.

The scene which was presented to them was well calculated to rejoice the
hearts of brave soldiers. They had reached the goal, and might now hope
to fulfil the wishes of their king. The quarters of the Russian general
were plainly exposed to them. In this great room, which was evidently
the ball-room of the village, at a long oak-table, in the middle of the
room, sat General Soltikow, and around him sat and stood the generals
and officers. At the door, half a dozen Cossacks were crouching, staring
sleepily on the ground. The room was brilliantly illuminated with
wax-lights, and gave the two grenadiers an opportunity of seeing it in
every part. Fate appeared to favor them in every way, and gave them an
opportunity to hear as well as see. The window on the garden was opened
to give entrance to the cool night air, and near it there was a thick
branch of a tree in which a man could conceal himself.

“Look there,” said Charles Henry, “I will hide in that tree. We will
make our observations from different stand-points. Perhaps one of us may
see what escapes the other. Let us attend closely, that we may tell all
to our king.”

No man in this room guessed that in the silent little garden four
flashing eyes were observing all that passed.

At the table sat the Russian commander-in-chief, surrounded by his
generals and officers. Before him lay letters, maps, and plans, at which
he gazed from time to time, while he dictated an account of the battle
to the officer sitting near him, Soltikow was preparing a dispatch
for the Empress Elizabeth. A few steps farther off, in stiff military
bearing, stood the officers who were giving in their reports, and whose
statements brought a dark cloud to the brow of the victorious commander.
Turning with a hasty movement of the head to the small man with the
gold-embroidered uniform and the stiffly-frizzed wig, he said--

“Did you hear that, sir marquis? Ten thousand of my brave soldiers lie
dead upon the battle-field, and as many more are severely wounded.”

“It follows then,” said the Marquis Montalembert, the French
commissioner between the courts of Vienna, Petersburg, and Paris, “it
follows then, that the king of Prussia has forty thousand dead and
wounded, and, consequently, his little army is utterly destroyed.”

“Who knows?” said Soltikow; “the king of Prussia is accustomed to sell
his defeats dearly. I should not be at all surprised if he had lost
fewer soldiers than we have.” [Footnote: Soltikow’s own words--See
Archenholtz, p 206.] “Well, I think he has now nothing more to lose,”
 said the marquis, laughing; “it rests with you to give the last coup de
grace to this conquered and flying king, and forever prevent--”

The entrance of an officer interrupted him. The officer announced
General von Loudon.

Soltikow arose, and advanced to the door to welcome the Austrian
general. A proud smile was on his face as he gave his hand to Loudon; he
did this with the air of a gracious superior who wished to be benevolent
to his subordinate.

The quick, firm glance of Loudon seemed to read the haughty heart of
his ally, and, no doubt for this reason, he scarcely touched Soltikow’s
hand. With erect head and proud step he advanced into the middle of the
room.

“I resolved to come to your excellency,” said Loudon, in a sharp,
excited tone; “you have a large room, while in my hut I could scarcely
find accommodation for you and your adjutants.”

“You come exactly at the right hour,” said Soltikow, with a haughty
smile; “you see, we were about to hold a council of war, and consider
what remains to be done.”

A dark and scornful expression was seen in Loudon’s countenance, and his
eyes rested fiercely upon the smiling face of Soltikow.

“Impossible, general! you could not have held a council of war without
me,” said he, angrily.

“Oh, be composed, general,” said Soltikow, smiling, “I would, without
doubt, have informed you immediately of our conclusions.”

“I suppose you could not possibly have come to any conclusion in my
absence,” said Loudon, the veins in whose forehead began to swell.

Soltikow bowed low, with the same unchanged and insolent smile.

“Let us not dispute about things which have not yet taken place, your
excellency. The council of war had not commenced, but now that you are
here, we may begin. Allow me, however, first to sign these dispatches
which I have written to my gracious sovereign, announcing the victory
which the Russian troops have this day achieved over the army of the
King of Prussia.”

“Ah, general, this time I am in advance of you,” cried Loudon; “the
dispatches are already sent off in which I announced to my empress the
victory which the Austrian troops gained over the Prussians.”

Soltikow threw his head back scornfully, and his little gray eyes
flashed at the Austrian.

Loudon went on, calmly: “I assure your excellency that enthusiasm at
our glorious victory has made me eloquent. I pictured to my empress
the picturesque moment in which the conquering Prussians were rushing
forward to take possession of the batteries deserted by the flying
Russians, at which time the Austrian horsemen sprang, as it were, from
the ground, checked the conquerors, and forced them back; and by deeds
of lionlike courage changed the fate of the day.”

While Loudon, seeming entirely cool and careless, thus spoke, the face
of the Russian general was lurid with rage. Panting for breath, he
pressed his doubled fist upon the table.

Every one looked at him in breathless excitement and horror--all knew
his passionate and unrestrained rage. But the Marquis Montalembert
hastened to prevent this outburst of passion, and before Soltikow found
breath to speak, he turned with a gay and conciliating expression to
Loudon.

“If you have painted the battle of to-day so much in detail,” said he,
“you have certainly not forgotten to depict the gallant conduct of
the Russian troops to describe that truly exalted movement, when the
Russians threw themselves to the earth, as if dead, before advancing
columns of the Prussian army, and allowed them to pass over them; then,
springing up, shot them in the back.” [Footnote: Archenholtz, Seven
Years’ War, p. 257.]

“Certainly I did not forget that,” said Loudon, whose noble, generous
heart already repented his momentary passion and jealousy; “certainly,
I am not so cowardly and so unconscionable as to deny the weighty share
which the Russian army merit in the honor of this day; but you can well
understand that I will not allow the gallant deeds of the Austrians to
be swept away. We have fought together and conquered together, and now
let us rejoice together over the glorious result.”

Loudon gave his hand to Soltikow with so friendly an expression that he
could not withstand it. “You are right, Loudon; we will rejoice together
over this great victory,” cried he. “Wine, here! We will first drink a
glass in honor of the triumph of the day; then we will empty a glass
of your beautiful Rhine wine to the friendship of the Austrians and
Russians. Wine here! The night is long enough for council; let us first
celebrate our victory.”

The Cossacks, at a sign from the adjutants, sprang from the floor and
drew from a corner of the room a number of bottles and silver cups,
which they hastened to place upon the table. The secretaries moved the
papers, maps, etc.; and the table, which a moment before had quite a
business-like aspect, was now changed into an enticing buffet.

Soltikow looked on enraptured, but the marquis cast an anxious and
significant look upon the Austrian general, which was answered with
a slight shrug of the shoulders. Both knew that the brave General
Soltikow, next to the thunder of cannon and the mad whirl of battle,
loved nothing so well as the springing of corks and the odor of wine.
Both knew that the general was as valiant and unconquerable a soldier
as he was a valiant and unconquerable drinker--who was most apt while
drinking to forget every thing else but the gladness of the moment. The
marquis tried to make another weak attempt to remind him of more earnest
duties.

“Look you, your excellency, your secretaries appear very melancholy.
Will you not first hold a council of war? and we can then give ourselves
undisturbed to joy and enjoyment.”

“Why is a council of war necessary?” said Soltikow, sinking down into a
chair and handing his cup to the Cossack behind him to be filled for the
second time. “Away with business and scribbling! The dispatches to my
empress are completed; seal them, Pietrowitch, and send the courier off
immediately; every thing else can wait till morning. Come, generals, let
us strike our glasses to the healths of our exalted sovereigns.”

Loudon took the cup and drank a brave pledge, then when he had emptied
the glass he said: “We should not be satisfied with sending our exalted
sovereigns the news of the day’s victory--it lies in our hands to inform
them of the complete and irrevocable defeat of the enemy.”

“How so?” said Soltikow, filling up his cup for the third time.

“If now, in place of enjoying this comfortable rest, and giving our
enemy time to recover himself, we should follow up the Prussians and cut
off the king’s retreat, preventing him from taking possession of his old
camp at Reutven, we would then be in a condition to crush him completely
and put an end to this war.”

“Ah, you mean that we should break up the camp at once,” said Soltikow;
“that we should not grant to our poor, exhausted soldiers a single hour
of sleep, but lead them out again to battle and to death? No, no, sir
general; the blood of my brave Russians is worth as much as the blood
of other men, and I will not make of them a wall behind which the noble
Dutchmen place themselves in comfortable security, while we offer up for
them our blood and our life. I think we Russians have done enough; we
do not need another victory to prove that we are brave. When I fight
another such battle as I have fought to-day, with my staff in my hand
and alone I must carry the news to Petersburg, for I shall have no
soldiers left.[Footnote: “Frederick the Great.”--Geschow, p. 200.]
I have nothing to say against you, General Loudon. You have been a
faithful ally; we have fought, bled, and conquered together, although
not protected by a consecrated hat and sword like Field-Marshal Daun,
who ever demands new victories from us while he himself is undecided and
completely inactive.”

“Your excellency seems to be somewhat embittered against Daun,” said
Loudon, with a smile he could not wholly suppress.

“Yes,” said Soltikow, “I am embittered against this modern Fabius
Cunctator, who finds it so easy to become renowned--who remains in
Vienna and reaps the harvest which belongs rightly to you, General
Loudon. You act, while he hesitates--you are full of energy and ever
ready for the strife; Daun is dilatory, and while he is resolving
whether to strike or not, the opportunity is lost.”

“The empress, my exalted sovereign, has honored him with her especial
confidence,” said Loudon; “he must therefore merit it.”

“Yes; and in Vienna they have honored you and myself with their especial
distrust,” said Soltikow, stormily, and swallowing a full cup of wine.
“You, I know, receive rare and scanty praise; eulogies must be reserved
for Daun. We are regarded with inimical and jealous eyes, and our zeal
and our good-will are forever suspected.”

“This is true,” said Loudon, smiling; “it is difficult for us to believe
in the sincere friendship of the Russians, perhaps, because we so
earnestly desire it.”

“Words, words!” said Soltikow, angrily. “The German has ever a secret
aversion to the Russian--you look upon us as disguised tigers, ever
ready to rob and devour your glorious culture and accomplishments. For
this reason you gladly place a glass shade over yourselves when we are
in your neighborhood, and show us your glory through a transparent wall
that we may admire and envy. When you are living in peace and harmony,
you avoid us sedulously; then the German finds himself entirely too
educated, too refined, for the barbaric Russian. But when you quarrel
and strive with each other, and cannot lay the storm, then you suddenly
remember that the Russian is your neighbor and friend, that he wields
a good sword, and knows how to hew with it right and left. You call
lustily on him for help, and offer him your friendship--that means, just
so long as hostilities endure and you have use for us. Even when you
call us your friends you distrust us and suspect our good-will. Constant
charges are brought against us in Vienna. Spresain languishes in
chains--Austria charges him with treachery and want of zeal in the good
cause; Fermor and Butterlin are also accused of great crimes--they
have sought to make both their sincerity and ability suspected by the
empress, and to bring them into reproach. This they have not deserved. I
know, also, that they have charged me with disinclination to assist the
allies--they declare that I have no ardor for the common cause. This
makes bad blood, messieurs; and if it were not for the excellent wine
in your beautiful Germany, I doubt if our friendship would stand upon
a sure footing. Therefore, sir general, take your cup and let us drink
together--drink this glorious wine to the health of our friendship. Make
your glasses ring, messieurs, and that the general may see that we mean
honorably with our toast, empty them at a draught.”

They all accepted the challenge and emptied a cup of the old, fiery
Rhine wine, which Soltikow so dearly loved; their eyes flashed, their
cheeks were glowing.

Loudon saw this with horror, and he cast an anxious glance at
Montalembert, who returned it with a significant shrug of the shoulder.

“And now, your excellency,” said Loudon, “that we have enjoyed the
German wine, let us think a little of Germany and the enemy who can no
longer disturb her peace, if we act promptly. Our troops have had some
hours’ rest, and will now be in a condition to advance.”

“Always the same old song,” said Soltikow, laughing; “but I shall not
be waked up from my comfortable quarters; I have done enough! my troops
also.”

“I have just received a courier from Daun,” said Loudon, softly; “he
makes it my duty to entreat your excellency to follow up our victory and
crush the enemy completely.”

“That will be easy work,” said Montalembert, in a flattering tone. “The
army of the King of Prussia is scattered and flying in every direction;
they must be prevented from reassembling; the scattering troops must be
harassed and more widely separated, and every possibility of retreat cut
off for Frederick.”

“Well, well, if that must be,” said Soltikow, apathetically, placing the
cup just filled with wine to his lips, “let Field-Marshal Daun undertake
the duty. I have won two battles; I will wait and rest; I make no other
movements till I hear of two victories won by Daun. It is not reasonable
or just for the troops of my empress to act alone.” [Footnote:
Soltikow’s own words.--See Archenholtz, p. 266.]

“But,” said the Marquis Montalembert, giving himself the appearance
of wishing not to be heard by Loudon, “if your excellency now remains
inactive and does not press forward vigorously, the Austrians alone will
reap the fruits of your victory.”

“I am not at all disposed to be jealous,” said Soltikow, laughing; “from
my heart I wish the Austrians more success than I have had. For my
part, I have done enough. [Footnote: Historical.] Fill your glasses,
messieurs, fill your glasses! We have won a few hours of happiness from
the goddess Bellona; let us enjoy them and forget all our cares. Let us
drink once more, gentlemen. Long live our charming mistress, the Empress
Elizabeth!” The Russian officers clanged their glasses and chimed in
zealously, and the fragrant Rhine wine bubbled like foaming gold in the
silver cups. Soltikow swallowed it with ever-increasing delight, and he
became more and more animated.

The officers sat round the table with glowing cheeks and listened to
their worshipped general who, in innocent gayety, related some scenes
from his youth, and made his hearers laugh so loud, so rapturously,
that the walls trembled, and Fritz Kober, who was crouching down in the
bushes, could with difficulty prevent himself from joining in heartily.

The gayety of the Russians became more impetuous and unbridled. They
dreamed of their home; here and there they began to sing Russian
love-songs. The Cossacks, on the floor, grinned with delight and hummed
lightly the refrain.

The wine began to exercise its freedom and equality principles upon
the heart, and all difference of rank was forgotten. Every countenance
beamed with delight; every man laughed and jested, sang and drank.
No one thought of the King of Prussia and his scattered army; they
remembered the victory they had achieved, but the fragrant wine banished
the remembrance of the conquered. [Footnote: See Prussia; Frederick the
Great.--Gebhard, p. 73.]

Montalembert and Loudon took no part in the general mirth. They had left
the table, and from an open window watched the wild and frenzied group.

“It is in vain,” whispered Loudon, “we cannot influence him. The German
wine lies nearer his heart than his German allies.”

“But you, general, you should do what Soltikow omits or neglects.
You should draw your own advantage from this tardiness of the Russian
general, and pursue and crush the King of Prussia.”

“I would not be here now,” said Loudon, painfully, “if I could do that.
My hands are bound. I dare not undertake any thing to which the allies
do not agree; we can only act in concert.”

A loud roar of laughter from the table silenced the two gentlemen.
Soltikow had just related a merry anecdote, which made the Cossacks
laugh aloud. One of the Russian generals rewarded them by throwing them
two tallow-candles. This dainty little delicacy was received by them
with joyful shouts.

“Let us withdraw,” whispered Montalembert, “the scene becomes too
Russian.”

“Yes, let us go,” sighed Loudon; “if we must remain here inactive, we
can at least employ the time in sleep.”

No one remarked the withdrawal of the two gentlemen. The gay laughter,
the drinking and singing went on undisturbed, and soon became a scene of
wild and drunken confusion.

“We can now also withdraw,” whispered Charles Henry to Fritz Kober.
“Come, come! you know we are expected.”

With every possible caution, they hastened away, and only after they had
left the camp of the Russians and Austrians far behind them, and passed
again over the battle-field did Fritz Kober break silence. “Well,” said
he, sighing, “what have we to say to the king?”

“All that we have heard,” said Charles Henry.

“Yes, but we have heard nothing,” murmured Fritz. “I opened my ears as
wide as possible, but it was all in vain. Is it not base and vile to
come to Germany and speak this gibberish, not a word of which can be
understood? In Germany men should be obliged to speak German, and not
Russian.”

“They did not speak Russian, but French,” said Charles Henry; “I
understood it all.”

Fritz Kober stopped suddenly, and stared at his friend. “You say you
understood French?”

“Yes, I was at home on the French borders. My mother was from Alsace,
and there I learned French.”

“You understand every thing,” murmured Fritz, “but for myself, I am a
poor stupid blockhead, and the king will laugh at me, for I have nothing
to tell. I shall not get my commission.”

“Then neither will I, Fritz; and, besides, as to what we have seen, you
have as much to tell as I. You heard with your eyes and I with my ears,
and the great point arrived at you know as much about as I do. The
Russians and Austrians are sleeping quietly, not thinking of pursuing
us. That’s the principal point.”

“Yes, that’s true; that I can also assure the king--that will please him
best. Look! Charles Henry, the day is breaking! Let us hasten on to the
king. When he knows that the Austrians and Russians sleep, he will think
it high time for the Prussians to be awake.”



CHAPTER XV. A HERO IN MISFORTUNE.


The two grenadiers returned unharmed to the village where the king had
at present established his headquarters. The first rays of the morning
sun were falling upon the wretched hut which was occupied by his
majesty. The peaceful morning quiet was unbroken by the faintest sound,
and, as if Nature had a certain reverence for the hero’s slumber, even
the birds were hushed, and the morning breeze blew softly against the
little window, as if it would murmur a sleeping song to the king. There
were no sentinels before the door; the bright morning sun alone was
guarding the holy place where the unfortunate hero reposed.

Lightly, and with bated breath, the two grenadiers crept into the open
hut. The utter silence disturbed them. It seemed incredible that they
should find the king in this miserable place, alone and unguarded. They
thought of the hordes of Cossacks which infested that region, and that
a dozen of them would suffice to surround this little hut, and make
prisoners of the king and his adjutants.

“I have not the courage to open the door,” whispered Fritz Kober. “I
fear that the king is no longer here. The Cossacks have captured him.”

“God has not permitted that,” said Charles Henry, solemnly; “I believe
that He has guarded the king in our absence. Come, we will go to his
majesty.”

They opened the door and entered, and then both stood motionless, awed
and arrested by what they beheld.

There, on the straw that was scantily scattered on the dirty floor, lay
the king, his hat drawn partially over his face, his unsheathed sword in
his hand, sleeping as quietly as if he were at his bright and beautiful
Sans-Souci. “Look!” whispered Charles Henry; “thus sleeps a king, over
whom God watches! But now we must awaken him.”

He advanced to the king, and kneeling beside him, whispered: “Your
majesty, we have returned; we bring intelligence of the Russians and
Austrians.”

The king arose slowly, and pushed his hat back from his brow.

“Good or bad news?” he asked.

“Good news!” said Fritz. “The Austrians and Russians have both gone to
bed; they were sleepy.”

“And they have no idea of pursuing your majesty,” continued Charles
Henry. “Loudon wished it, but Soltikow refused; he will do nothing until
Daun acts.”

“So you sat with them in the council of war?” asked the king, smiling.

“Yes, we were present,” said Fritz Kober, with evident delight; “I saw
the council, and Charles Henry heard them.”

The king stood up. “You speak too loud!” he said; “you will waken these
two gentlemen, who are sleeping so well. We will go outside, and you can
continue your report.”

He crossed the room noiselessly, and left the hut. Then seating himself
before the door, on a small bench, he told the two grenadiers to give
him an exact account of what they had seen and heard.

Long after they had finished speaking, the king sat silent, and
apparently lost in thought. His eyes raised to heaven, he seemed to be
in holy communion with the Almighty. As his eyes slowly sank, his glance
fell upon the two grenadiers who stood before him, silently respectful.

“I am pleased with you, children, and this time the promise shall be
kept. You shall become subordinate officers.”

“In the same company?” asked Fritz Kober.

“In the same company. That is,” continued the king, “if I am ever able
to form companies and regiments again.”

“We are not so badly off as your majesty thinks,” said Fritz Kober.
“Our troops have already recovered from their first terror, and as we
returned we saw numbers of them entering the village. In a few hours the
army can be reorganized.”

“God grant that you may be right, my son!” said the king, kindly.
“Go, now, into the village, and repeat the news you brought me to the
soldiers. It will encourage them to hear that the enemy sleep, and
do not think of pursuing us. I will prepare your commissions for you
to-day. Farewell, my children!”

He bent his head slightly, and then turned to re-enter the hut and
awaken his two adjutants. With a calm voice he commanded them to go into
the village, and order the generals and higher officers to assemble the
remnants of their regiments before the hut.

“A general march must be sounded,” said the king. “The morning air will
bear the sound into the distance, and when my soldiers hear it, perhaps
they will return to their colors.”

When the adjutants left him, the king commenced pacing slowly up and
down, his hands crossed behind him.

“All is lost, all!” he murmured; “but I must wait and watch. If the
stupidity or rashness of the enemy should break a mesh in the net within
which I am enclosed, it is my duty to slip through with my army. Ah!
how heavily this crown presses upon my head; it leaves me no moment of
repose. How hard is life, and how terribly are the bright illusions of
our earlier years destroyed!”

At the sound of the drum, the king shivered, and murmured to himself: “I
feel now, what I never thought to feel. I am afraid my heart trembles at
the thought of this encounter, as it never did in battle. The drums and
trumpets call my soldiers, but they will not come. They are stretched
upon the field of battle, or fleeing before the enemy. They will not
come, and the sun will witness my shame and wretchedness.”

The king, completely overcome, sank upon the bench, and buried his face
in his hands. He sat thus for a long time. The sounds before the door
became louder and louder, but the king heard them not; he still held
his hands before his face. He could not see the bright array of uniforms
that had assembled before the window, nor that the soldiers were
swarming in from all sides. He did not hear the beating of drums, the
orders to the soldiers, or military signals. Neither did he hear the
door, which was gently opened by his adjutants, who had returned to
inform him that his orders had been obeyed, and that the generals and
staff officers were awaiting him outside the hut.

“Sire,” whispered at length one of the adjutants, “your commands have
been fulfilled. The generals await your majesty’s pleasure.”

The king allowed his hands to glide slowly from his face. “And the
troops?” he asked.

“They are beginning to form.”

“They are also just placing the cannon,” said the second adjutant.

The king turned angrily to him. “Sir,” he cried, “you lie! I have no
cannon.”

“Your majesty has, God be praised, more than fifty cannon,” said the
adjutant, firmly.

A ray of light overspread the countenance of the king, and a slight
flush arose to his pale cheek. Standing up, he bowed kindly to
the adjutants, and passed out among the generals, who saluted him
respectfully, and pressed back to make way for their king. The king
walked silently through their ranks, and then turning his head, he said:

“Gentlemen, let us see what yesterday has left us. Assemble your
troops.”

The generals and staff officers hurried silently away, to place
themselves at the head of their regiments, and lead them before the
king.

The king stood upright, his unsheathed sword in his right hand, as in
the most ceremonious parade. The marching of the troops began, but it
was a sad spectacle for their king. How little was left of the great
and glorious army which he had led yesterday to battle! More than twenty
thousand men were either killed or wounded. Thousands were flying and
scattered. A few regiments had been formed with great trouble; barely
five thousand men were now assembled. The king looked on with a firm
eye, but his lips were tightly compressed, and his breath came heavily.
Suddenly he turned to Count Dolmer, the adjutant of the Grand Duke
Ferdinand of Brunswick, who had arrived a few days before with the
intelligence of a victory gained at Minden. The king had invited him to
remain, “I am about to overpower the Russians, remain until I can give
you a like message.” The king was reminded of this as he saw the count
near him.

“Ah,” he said, with a troubled smile, “you are waiting for the message
I promised. I am distressed that I cannot make you the bearer of better
news. If, however, you arrive safely at the end of your journey, and
do not find Daun already in Berlin, and Contades in Magdeburg, you can
assure the Grand Duke Ferdinand from me that all is not lost. Farewell,
sir.”

Then, bowing slightly, he advanced with a firm step to the generals.
His eyes glowed and flashed once more, and his whole being reassumed its
usual bold and energetic expression.

“Gentlemen,” he said, in a clear voice, “fortune did not favor us
yesterday, but there is no reason to despair. A day will come when we
shall repay the enemy with bloody interest. I at least expect such a
day; I will live for its coming, and all my thoughts and plans shall be
directed toward that object. I strive for no other glory than to deliver
Prussia from the conspiracy into which the whole of Europe has entered
against her. I will obtain peace for my native land, but it shall be
a great and honorable peace. I will accept no other: I would rather
be buried under the ruins of my cannon, than accept a peace that would
bring no advantages to Prussia, no fame to us Honor is the highest, the
holiest possession of individuals, as it is of nations; and Prussia,
who has placed her honor in our hands, must receive it from us pure and
spotless. If you agree with me, gentlemen, join me in this cry, ‘Long
live Prussia! Long live Prussia’s honor!’”

The generals and officers joined enthusiastically in this cry, and like
a mighty torrent it spread from mouth to mouth, until it reached the
regiments, where it was repeated again and again. The color-bearers
unfurled their tattered banners, and the shout arose from thousands of
throats, “Long live Prussia’s honor!”

The king’s countenance was bright, but a tear seemed to glitter in his
eye. He raised his glance to heaven and murmured:

“I swear to live so long as there is hope, so long as I am free! I swear
only to think of death when my liberty is threatened!” Slowly his glance
returned to earth, and then in a powerful voice, he cried: “Onward!
onward! that has ever been Prussia’s watch-word, and it shall remain
so--Onward! We have a great object be fore us--we must use every effort
to keep the Russians out of Berlin. The palladium of our happiness must
not fall into the hands of our enemies. The Oder and the Spree must
be ours--we must recover to-morrow what the enemy wrenched from us
yesterday!”

“Onward! onward!” cried the army, and the words of the king bore courage
and enthusiasm to all hearts.

Hope was awakened, and all were ready to follow the king; for however
dark and threatening the horizon appeared, all had faith in the star of
the king, and believed that it could never be extinguished.



BOOK V.



CHAPTER I. THE TERESIANI AND THE PRUSSIANI.


At the splendid hotel of the “White Lion,” situated on the Canale
Grande, a gondola had just arrived. The porter sounded the great
house-bell, and the host hastened immediately to greet the stranger,
who, having left the gondola, was briskly mounting the small white
marble steps that led to the beautiful and sumptuous vestibule of the
hotel.

The stranger returned the host’s profound and respectful salutation with
a stiff military bow, and asked in forced and rather foreign Italian if
he could obtain rooms.

Signer Montardo gazed at him with a doubtful and uncertain expression,
and instead of answering his question, said:

“Signor, it appears to me that you are a foreigner?”

“Yes,” said the stranger, smiling, “my Italian has betrayed me. I am a
foreigner, but hope that will not prevent your showing me comfortable
and agreeable rooms.”

“Certainly not, signor; our most elegant and sumptuous apartment is at
your command,” said the host, with a flattering smile. In the mean time,
however, he did not move from the spot, but gazed with confused and
anxious countenance first at the stranger, and then at his large trunk,
which the men were just lifting from the gondola.

“Will you please show me the rooms?” cried the stranger, impatiently
advancing into the hall.

The host sighed deeply, and threw a questioning glance at the head
waiter, who returned it with a shrug of his shoulders.

“I will first show you into the dining-saloon,” murmured the
host, hastening after the stranger. “Will you please step in here,
excellency?” and with humble submission he opened the large folding
doors before which they stood, and conducted the stranger into the
magnificent saloon which served as dining-saloon and ball-room.

“Now, excellency,” continued the host, after he closed the door, and had
convinced himself by a rapid glance that they were alone, “forgive my
curiosity in asking you two questions before I have the honor of showing
you your rooms. How long do you intend to remain here?”

“A few days, sir. Well, your second question?”

The host hesitated a moment; then looking down, he said:

“Your excellency is a German?”

“Yes, a German,” said the stranger, impatiently.

“I thought so,” sighed the host.

“Will you show me my rooms or not? Decide quickly, for I know there are
other handsome hotels on the Canale Grande where I would be willingly
received.”

The host bowed with an aggrieved expression. “Signor, I will show you
rooms. Will you have the kindness to follow me?”

Like one who had come to a desperate decision, he advanced and pushed
open a door which led to a long passage, with rooms on each side; he
passed them all hastily, and entered a small, dark, side-passage, which
was little in keeping with the general elegance of the building; the
walls were not covered with tapestry, as those of the large halls, but
with dirty whitewash; the floor had no carpet, and the doors of the
rooms were low and small.

The host opened one of them and led the stranger into a small,
simply-furnished room, with a little dark closet containing a bed.
“Signor,” he said, with a profound bow, “these are, unfortunately, the
only two rooms I can offer you.”

“They are small and mean,” said the stranger, angrily.

“They are quiet and remote, and you will have the advantage of not being
disturbed by the ball which the club of the Prussiani are to hold in my
grand saloon to-night.”

As he finished, he looked at the stranger hastily and searchingly, to
see what impression his words had upon him. He was decidedly astonished
and confused.

“The Prussian Club?” he said. “Are there so many Prussians here, and
are they to celebrate a gay feast when it appears to me they have every
reason to mourn for their king’s misfortune?”

It was now the stranger who gazed searchingly at the host, and awaited
his answer with impatience.

“You ask if there are many Prussians here?” said the host, pathetically.
“Yes, there are a great many in la bella Venezia, eccellenza, chi non
e buon Prussiano, non e buon Veneziano. You say further, that the
Prussians have no reason to celebrate a festival, but should mourn for
their king’s misfortunes. No, your excellency, the Prussians will never
have reason to despair, for a hero like the great Frederick can never
succumb. His sun is clouded for a moment, but it will burst forth again
brilliant and triumphant, and blind all his enemies. The Prussians
celebrate this feast to defy the Teresiani. They have their club at the
hotel of the ‘Golden Fleece,’ and held a grand ball there yesterday
in honor of their victory at Mayen. ‘Tis true the king has lost two
battles, the battles of Kunersdorf and Mayen, but the Prussians do not
despair; for if the king has lost two battles, he will win four to make
up for them, and the Austrians, French, and Russians will flee before
him, as they did at Zorndorf and Rossbach. The Prussians wish to
celebrate this feast to convince the Teresiani that they are not
disturbed by the king’s apparent misfortune, and are now celebrating the
victories that their great king is still to achieve.”

The stranger’s face beamed with delight. “The Prussians have great
confidence in their king,” he said, with forced composure; “but you have
not yet told me why so many Prussians are stopping here?”

The host laughed. “Signor does not occupy himself with politics?”

“No,” answered the stranger, with hesitation.

“Well, otherwise you would have known that there are many Prussians in
the world, and that all the world takes an interest in this war in which
a single hero battles against so many powerful enemies. Yes, yes,
there are Prussians in all Europe, and the great Frederick is joyfully
welcomed everywhere; but nowhere more joyfully than in our beautiful
Italy; and nowhere in Italy is he more welcomed than in our beautiful
Venice. The nobles and the gondoliers decide for or against, and Venice
is divided into two great parties: the first for the King of Prussia,
the latter for the Austrian empress, Maria Theresa. But I assure you
the Teresiani are mean and despicable, bought enthusiasts, and cowardly
fools.”

“Consequently, you do not belong to them, signor,” said the stranger,
smiling; “you are a good Prussiano.”

“I should think so,” cried the host, proudly; “I am a good patriot, and
our watchword is, ‘Chi non e buon Prussiano, non e buon Veneziano.’”

“If that is so,” cried the stranger, gayly, as he kindly offered the
host his hand, “I congratulate myself for having stopped here, and these
small, mean rooms will not prevent my remaining. I also am a Prussian,
and say, like yourself, what care we for the battles of Kunersdorf and
Mayen? Frederick the Great will still triumph over his enemies.”

“Ah, signor, you are a Prussian” cried the host, with a true Italian
burst of joy. “You are heartily welcome at my hotel, and be convinced,
sir, that I shall do every thing to deserve your approval. Come, sir,
these rooms are too small, too mean, for a follower of Frederick; I
shall have the honor of showing you two beautiful rooms on the first
floor, with a view of the Canale Grande, and you shall pay no more for
them. Follow me, sir, and pardon me that you were not at once worthily
served. I did not know you were a Prussiano, and it would have been most
dangerous and impolitic to have received a stranger who might have been
a Teresiano; it might have deprived me of all the Prussian custom. Have
the goodness to follow me.”

He stepped forward briskly, and conducted the stranger across the
passage through the grand saloon into the hall. The head waiter was
standing there engaged in an excited conversation with the gondoliers
who, having placed the traveller’s trunk in the hall, were cursing and
crying aloud for their money. While the waiter was assuring them, that
it was not decided whether the stranger would remain with them or not,
and perhaps they would have to carry his trunk farther, the host nodded
smilingly at the head waiter and said, proudly, “His excellency is not
only a German, but a Prussian.”

The clouded faces of the waiters and gondoliers cleared immediately, and
they gazed at the traveller with a significant smile as he mounted the
splendid steps with the host.

“He is a Prussian!” cried the waiters. “Evviva il Re di Prussia!” cried
the gondoliers, as they raised the trunk and carried it nimbly up the
steps.

The saloon into which the host conducted his guest was certainly
different from the small, unclean rooms he had shown him before. All was
elegance, and with a feeling of pride he led the stranger to the balcony
which offered a splendid view of the imposing and glorious Canale
Grande, with its proud churches and palaces.

“And now, signor,” said the host, humbly, “command me. If I can serve
you in any manner, I shall do so with pleasure. Any information you
desire, I am ready to give. Perhaps your excellency has--?”

“No,” said the stranger, quickly, “I have no political mission, and my
letter to the prior is of a very innocent nature. I am a merchant, and
by chance have become possessed of several costly relics, and hope that
the prior of the cloister may purchase them.”

“Ah, relics,” said the host, with a contemptuous shrug of his shoulders;
“do you know, sir, that no one now is enthusiastic about such things?
Politics leave us no time for piety; the Pope has lost his influence,
and even the Romans are good Prussiani, and care not for Frederick the
Great being a heretic. The Pope blesses his enemies and celebrates their
victories with brilliant masses and costly presents. The Romans are
indifferent to all this, and pray for their hero-king, the Great
Frederick, and in spite of the Pope desire him to triumph.”

“Ah,” said the traveller, with apparent sadness, “then I shall certainly
not succeed with my relics, but I hope I shall do better in the city
with my fans; for them I desire your advice. Will you please tell me the
names of a few large commercial houses where they might buy some of my
beautiful fans? But they must be good Prussiani, as you will soon
see.” He stepped to his trunk, unlocked it, and took from it an etui
containing a number of fans.

“Look here, sir. I saw these fans in Geneva, and thinking I might
perhaps do a good business with them in Italy, I bought several dozen.
Examine the charming and tasteful paintings.” He opened one of the
fans; it was of white satin, with quite an artistic painting of a large
Prussian eagle about to devour a white lily.

The host clapped his hands with delight. “Delicious!” he cried,
laughing. “The Prussian eagle devouring the French lily; this is
charming prophecy, a wonderful satire. You bought these fans in Geneva;
there are Prussians in Geneva also, then.”

“Every lady in Geneva has such a fan, and there are no better Prussians
in Berlin than in Geneva.”

“I am delighted, truly delighted,” cried the Italian, enthusiastically.”
 The time will come when all the people of Europe will be Prussians and
only princes Teresiani.”

“Nevertheless, the people will have to obey their princes,” said the
stranger, with a watchful glance; “and if they command it, will war
against the great king.”

“Not we, not the Italians,” cried the host, violently; “our Doge would
not dare to side with the Teresiani, for he knows very well that would
occasion a revolution in Venice and, perhaps, endanger his own throne.
No, no, signor; our exalted government is too wise not to adopt a
neutral position, while secretly they are as good Prussians as we are.”

“But the Lombardians and the Sardinians?” asked the stranger,
expectantly.

“They also are Prussians; even if their king is a Teresiano, as they
say, his people are Prussians like ourselves.”

“And the Neapolitans?”

“Well, the Neapolitans,” said the host, laughing, “the Neapolitans are,
as you know, not renowned for their bravery; and if they do not love
the great Frederick, they fear him. The Neapolitans are the children
of Italy, knowing only that Naples is a beautiful city, and fearing a
barbarian might come and devour it. In their terror they forget that no
one is thinking of them, and that they are separated by Italy and the
Alps from all warlike people. The king of Naples thinks it possible that
Frederick may one day ascend Vesuvius with his conquering army and take
possession of Naples. Since the king’s last victories, Ferdinand
has increased the number of his troops and doubled the guard in his
capital.”

The host laughed so heartily at this account, that the stranger was
irresistibly compelled to join him.

“The King of Naples is but a boy nine years old. His ministers are older
than himself, and should know a little more geography, signor. But corpo
di Bacco, here I am talking and talking of politics forgetting entirely
that your excellency is doubtless hungry, and desires a strengthening
meal.”

“‘Tis true, I am a little hungry,” said the stranger, smiling.

“In a quarter of an hour the most splendid dinner, that the celebrated
White Lion can prepare, shall be ready for you, signor,” cried the host,
as he rushed hastily from the room.

The stranger gazed thoughtfully after him. “It appears to me that I have
been very fortunate in coming here; the good host seems to be a good
Prussian, and I have learned more from him in a quarter of an hour than
I would have done in a long journey through Italy. I shall now be able
to act with zeal and energy. But I must not forget the role I have to
play. I am a merchant trading with fans, curiosities, and relics, and
very anxious to bring my wares to market.”

The entrance of the waiter interrupted him, and soon the savory dishes
invited the traveller to refresh himself.



CHAPTER II. FREDERICK THE GREAT AS A SAINT.


“And now to business,” said the Traveller, when he had finished dining.
“It is high time I were on my way, if I am to leave this place to-day.”
 He hastened to his trunk and took from it several bundles and packages,
some of which he put in his pockets and some, like a true merchant, he
carried under his arm. Then putting on his large, black felt hat, he
turned to leave the room. In passing the mirror he looked at himself,
and broke out into a merry laugh at his appearance.

“Truly,” said he, “I look like a veritable shop-keeper, and he who takes
me for any thing else, must be of a more political turn of mind than my
host, Signor Montardo, the Prussiano.”

He turned and left the room to obtain the address of some merchants
and a guide from his host. In spite of remonstrances Signer Montardo
insisted on accompanying him.

“Otherwise,” said he, “some one might address you who is not on our
side, and if you were then to show him your fans, there would be a
fearful scandal; the other party is quite as hot-headed as we are, and
many a pitched battle has taken place between the Teresiani and the
Prussiani. Come, sir; I must accompany you. We will not go by the canal,
but through the small by-streets; they will lead us quickest to the Riva
di Schiavoni, and then to the Rialto, which is our destination.”

“Is that far from the convent of San Giovanni e Paolo?” asked the
stranger.

“Ah, you are still determined to offer your relics to the abbot?” said
the host, laughing.

“Yes, and hope to sell them.”

“Well, I wish you luck. The Rialto is not far from there. I will go with
you until within the vicinity of the convent, but not farther.”

“And why not?”

“Because the door-keeper is a raging Teresiano, and would undoubtedly
close the door in your face, were I at your side.”

“But did you not tell me the abbot was a Prussia, no?”

“Yes, the abbot, but the porter is not; nor are many of the monks, I am
sorry to say.”

“Ah, even the monks are occupied with politics?”

“Signor,” cried the host, pathetically, “every one here interests
himself in politics; and when you hear that our little children are
divided into Teresiani and Prussiani, you will credit me. There was a
slight revolution yesterday in the Riva Peschiera. It was occasioned
by a fishwoman’s refusing to sell my cook some beautiful trout; she
declared God had not created fish for the Prussiani, which, in her
opinion, was another name for heathen and unbeliever. My cook insisted
on having the fish, and, as unfortunately there were many Prussiani
among the fishwomen, it soon came to hard words and still harder blows,
and was terminated by the arrest of the principal disturbers.”

They were now entering the Riva di Schiavoni, and the talkative Signor
Montardo was continuing his merry tales when he was interrupted by cries
and shouts of laughter and derision, and they were almost surrounded by
a large crowd of excited men.

“We are fortunately at the end of our walk,” said Signor Montardo,
“for there is the house of my worthy friend Cicernachi, dealer in fancy
goods, and it is to him we are going. Let us press forward to see what
this crowd means. I presume my friend Cicernachi has prepared another
surprise for the good people of Venice.”

He made a way for himself and friend with his broad shoulders, and soon
stood in front of the shop around which the crowd was collected. A cry
of astonishment escaped the stranger, and he pointed to the entrance of
the shop. “You see there,” said he, “a speaking likeness of Frederick
the Great.”

There hung at the front of the store a large engraving in a rich golden
frame. It was the portrait of Prussia’s hero king--of Frederick the
Great--and beneath burnt a bright lamp, its light shedding a rosy tint
over Frederick’s noble countenance.

“Ah! I understand it now,” whispered the host. “Cicernachi has done this
to enrage the Teresiani. To show his boundless reverence for the king,
he has placed a burning lamp beneath his picture, an honor due only in
our country to the saints. Let us hear what the people have to say of
it.”

Just then a Teresiano commenced a speech, accompanied by violent
gesticulations, against this insult to the Church. “How can you suffer
this heretic to be represented by you as a saint?” cried he, in a voice
of rage. “Do you not know that the Pope has excommunicated the King of
Prussia? Do you not know that he is an enemy to God, to the Church, and
to our holy Catholic religion? Away, then, with this lamp! The fires
of hell will devour him, but no holy lamp shall enlighten his darkened
soul.”

“He is right, he is right,” cried some among the crowd. “Away with the
lamp! Break Cicernachi’s windows, for he is a Prussiano. He makes a
saint of a heretic! Put out the lamp!”

“Do not venture to touch the lamp,” cried others. “Back! back! or
our fists shall close your eyes until neither the lamp nor the great
Frederick is visible to you.”

“Put out the lamp, in God’s name!” cried the infuriated Teresiani. And
the cry was repeated by many of his party, as they pressed forward. But
the Prussiani, amongst whom were our host and the stranger, had already
formed a wall of defence before the store, and were energetically
beating back the approaching Teresiani. And then there occurred a
tumult, such as can only occur among passionate Italians. Wild shouts,
curses, and threats were heard--eyes sparkling with rage, doubled fists,
and here and there a dagger or a knife was seen.

But the noise suddenly ceased, and a deep stillness prevailed. No sound
was heard but the quiet even tread of the solemn silent forms that stood
suddenly, as if they had risen from the earth in their midst. No one
had seen them come--no word was spoken by them, and still many retreated
timidly, fearfully from them; their presence was enough to quiet these
enraged masses, to silence their anger. Even Signor Montardo deserted
his prominent position before the lamp, and was gazing anxiously at the
dark forms passing slowly through the crowd.

“The sbirri!” whispered he to the stranger. “The servants of the Council
of Ten! Whom will they take with them?”

But it seemed as if these much-feared men only desired to cause the
people to remember them only, to threaten--not to punish. They wished to
remind the people that the law was watching over them. Completely hid by
their long mantles, they passed with bowed heads through the crowd.
Thus without addressing or noticing any one, they passed into one of the
small by-streets leading from the Rialto.

As the last one disappeared, life once more animated the crowd. All
breathed more freely when relieved from their much-feared presence, and
soon they commenced talking again of Cicernachi’s new saint.

“You see,” whispered Montardo to the stranger, “that our government is
neutral. It will not punish neither the Prussiani nor the Teresiani;
only warns us not to carry our zeal too far, and reminds us that it is
against the law to carry a dagger or a knife in the streets. But now let
us enter the shop, and I will introduce you to Cicernachi.”

He took the stranger’s arm, and entered the shop, where a tall, slim man
met him. His long black hair hung in wild disorder on both sides of his
expressive countenance, his eyes sparkled with fire, and on his full red
lip there was a proud, triumphant smile.

“Well, Montardo,” said he, “you come undoubtedly to congratulate me on
this victory over these miserable Teresiani.”

“Certainly, sir.” cried Montardo, laughingly, “it was a most original
idea.”

“Do you know why I have done it?” said Cicernachi, “yesterday the
Teresiani placed before their restaurants the bull of Pope Clement
XI., which has just been confirmed and renewed by Clement XIII. It was
printed on white satin, and enclosed in a beautiful gilt frame, and
underneath it burnt a sacred lamp.”

“What are the contents of this bull?” said Montardo.

“I will tell you the beginning.” said Cicernachi, “I do not recollect
all. It sounded thus: ‘You have long known that Frederick, margrave
of Brandenburg, in contempt for the authority of the Church, took to
himself the name and insignia of king, a profane and unheard of act
among Christians. He has thus unwisely enough become one of those of
whom it is said in the Bible, ‘They reigned, but not through Me; they
were princes, but I did not know them.’ Do you conceive now why I placed
the king’s picture before my store? why I burnt a lamp beneath it? I
think this glorious portrait is more deserving of a sacred lamp than the
Pope’s nonsensical bull.”

“You are right, signor,” said the stranger, advancing to Cicernachi and
shaking hands with him. “Permit me to thank you in the name of my great
and noble king whom you have this day defended in so original a manner
from the malicious charges of his enemies. I give you my word of honor
that the king shall hear of it through me; I know it will rejoice him.”

“Ah, signor,” said Montardo, laughing, “you forget that you are an
honest merchant who does not concern himself about politics.”

“I can never forget I am a Prussian,” said the traveller; “and how could
I forget it?” continued he, laughing. “My whole business consists of
Prussian wares.”

“Truly you have some very beautiful articles,” said Montardo. “You will
be charmed with them, Cicernachi; it will be another opportunity to
annoy the Teresiani. Look at this merchant’s fans.”

The stranger opened several fans. Cicernachi’s eyes sparkled with
delight at the sight of the painting. “How many have you, signor?” said
he.

“Twelve.”

“I take them all, and regret you have not more.”

“But Cicernachi, where has all your wisdom gone to?” cried Montardo.
“You have not even asked the price; or do you, perhaps, think the
stranger gives them to you for nothing?”

“No, no; I forgot it,” said Cicernachi, gazing with delight at the fans
which the stranger was spreading out before him. “What is their price,
signor?”

The stranger was silent for a moment, and then said, in a hesitating
manner: “I paid ten francs for each fan in Geneva.”

“I give twice that,” said Cicernachi, quickly.

The stranger started up hastily, blushing with annoyance. “Sir,” said
he, “I take from no one a higher price than I gave.”

“Ah, signor, signor,” cried Montardo, “you have again forgotten that
you are but a merchant. No merchant sells his goods for what he gave for
them. Remember that.”

“I will make a good business with these fans,” said Cicernachi. “I give
you twenty-four francs, and will ask fifty for them. The ladies of our
nobility, many of whom are Prussiani, will be delighted to annoy their
opponents in so elegant a manner. Are you content, sir?”

“I am satisfied,” said the stranger, blushing with embarrassment.

“Is this all you have for sale?”

“No, I have something else,” said the stranger, opening another package.
“As you are Prussiano, these neat little coins and medals, with pretty
caricatures of the enemies of the king on them, will no doubt please
you.”

“Ah, let us see them,” cried both Italians. They examined with eagerness
the medals upon which the enemies of Frederick were represented in
various laughable situations and positions.

“I take them all!” cried Cicernachi, enraptured.

The stranger laughed. “I cannot sell you my whole business,” said he; “I
must retain something. I will give you one of each. You must accept them
as a token of my esteem, and must not pay me for them.”

“Signor!” cried Montardo, in an imploring tone, “remain at my hotel as
long as you please, and when I bring you your bill lay some of these
coins upon it, and I shall be richly paid.”

The stranger promised: then having received, with visible annoyance, the
money for the fans, left the store with Montardo to pay his visit to the
Convent Giovanni e Paolo.



CHAPTER III. THE CLOISTER BROTHERS OF SAN GIOVANNI E PAOLO.


The Prior of San Giovanni e Paolo had just returned from the second mass
celebrated in the beautiful church of his cloister, the burial-place
of the great Titiano Vicelli. With his arms folded across his back, he
walked slowly and thoughtfully backward and forward, then stood before a
large table at which a monk was occupied in unfolding letters and maps.

“This, your worship,” said the monk, opening a new paper, “is an exact
plan of the region around Mayen; we have just received it, and the
positions of the two armies are plainly marked down. If agreeable to
your worship, I will read the bulletins aloud, and you can follow the
movements of the troops upon the map.”

The prior shook his head softly. “No, Brother Anselmo, do not read again
the triumphant bulletins of the Austrians and Russians; they pain my
ears and my heart. Let us rather look at the map to see if the present
position of the army offers any ground of hope.”

“I have marked it all out with pins,” said Father Anselmo; “the black
pins signify the army of the allies, the white pins the army of the King
of Prussia.”

The prior bowed over the map, and his eye followed thoughtfully the
lines which Father Anselmo marked out. “Your pins are a sad omen,” he
said, shaking his head. “The black ones surround like a churchyard wall
the white ones, which stand like crosses upon the solitary graves in the
midst of their black enclosures.”

“But the white pins will break through the enclosure,” said Father
Anselmo, confidently. “The great king--“Father Anselmo stopped
speaking; suddenly the door opened, and the father guardian asked if he
might enter.

The prior blushed slightly, and stepped back from the table as the sharp
eyes of the father guardian wandered around the room and fell at last
with a sarcastic expression upon the table covered with maps and plans.

“Welcome, Brother Theodore,” said the prior, with a slight nod of the
head.

“I fear that I disturb your worship in your favorite occupation,” said
the father guardian, pointing to the maps. “Your worship is considering
the unfortunate condition of the heretical king whom God, as it appears,
will soon cast down in the dust, and crush at the feet of the triumphant
Church.”

“We must leave results, at all events, to God,” said the prior, softly;
“He has so often evidently lent his aid to the King of Prussia, that I
think no one can count confidently upon Frederick’s destruction now.”

“The Holy Father at Rome has blessed the weapons of his adversaries,
consequently they must triumph,” cried Father Theodore, unctuously. “But
pardon, your worship, I forgot my errand. A stranger wishes to see the
prior of the cloister; he has rare and beautiful relics to sell, which
he will only show to your worship.”

“Our church is rich enough in relics,” said the prior.

“Your worship does not attach any especial value to such things,” said
the father guardian with a derisive smile; “but I must allow myself to
recall to you that the Holy Father in Rome has only lately addressed a
circular to all the cloisters, recommending the purchase of rare relics
to the awakening and advancing of the true faith.”

“You, father guardian, must understand that matter best,” said Brother
Anselmo, sticking four new pins into his map. “I think you brought back
this circular about six months since, when you returned to take the
place of guardian.”

The father was in the act of giving an angry answer, but the prior came
forward, and pointing to the door, said, “Introduce the stranger with
the relics.”

A few moments later the traveller from the hotel of Signor Montardo
entered the prior’s room. He received a kindly welcome, and was asked to
show his treasures.

The stranger hesitated, and looked significantly at the two monks. “I
begged to be allowed to show them to your worship alone,” said he.

“These two fathers are consecrated priests, and may therefore dare
to look upon the holy treasures,” said the prior, with a scarcely
perceptible smile.

“I solemnly swore to the man from whom I bought these relics that I
would only show them to the most worthy member of your order; he was
a very pious man, and bitter necessity alone forced him to sell his
precious treasures; he prayed to God to grant them a worthy place, and
never to allow them to be desecrated by unholy eyes or hands. As the
most holy and worthy brother is ever chosen to be the prior, I swore to
show the relics only to the prior. Your worship will surely not ask me
to break my oath?”

The prior made no answer, but nodded to the two monks, who silently left
the room.

“And now, sir, show your treasures,” said the prior, as the door closed
behind them.

“Your worship,” said the stranger, rapidly, “I have nothing but a letter
from the Abbe Bastiani, which I was to give to your own hands.” He drew
a letter from his bosom, which he handed to the prior, who received
it with anxious haste and hid it in his robe; then, with quick but
noiseless steps he passed hastily through the room, and with a rapid
movement dashed open the door; a low cry was heard, and a black figure
tumbled back upon the floor.

“Ah! is that you, father guardian?” said the prior, in a tone of
sympathy. “I fear that I hurt you.”

“Not so, your worship; I only returned to say to you that it is the hour
for dinner, and the pious brothers are already assembled in the hall.”

“And I opened the door to call after you, father, and entreat you to
take my place at the table. As I am in the act of looking at these holy
relics, and touching them, I dare not soil my hands so soon afterward
with earthly food. You will, therefore, kindly take my place, and I will
not appear till the evening meal. Go, then, worthy brother, and may God
bless you richly.” He bowed and raising his right hand, made the sign of
the cross, while the father guardian slowly, and with a frowning brow,
passed through the room. Having reached the opposite door, he paused and
looked back; but seeing the prior still standing upon the threshold of
his room, and gazing after him, he dashed open the door and disappeared.
“Now, sir,” said the prior, entering and closing the door carefully, “we
are alone, and I am ready to listen to you.”

“I pray your worship to read first the letter of your brother, the Abbe
Bastiani.”

“Ah! he has told you that I am his brother?” said the prior, eagerly.
“He trusts you then, fully? Well, I will read the letter.” He opened and
read it impatiently. “This is a very laconic and enigmatical letter,”
 said he. “My brother refers me wholly to you; he assures me I can
confide entirely in your silence and discretion, and entreats me to
assist you in the attainment of your object. Make known to me then,
signor, in what way I can serve you, and what aim you have in view.”

“First, I will give your worship a proof that I trust you fully and
unconditionally. I will tell you who I am, and then make known my
purpose; you will then be able to decide how far you can give me counsel
and aid.”

“Let us step into this window-niche,” said the prior; “we will be more
secure from eavesdroppers. Now, signor, I am ready to listen.”

The stranger bowed. “First, I must pray your worship’s forgiveness, for
having dared to deceive you. I am no merchant, and have nothing to do
with relics; I am a soldier! my name is Cocceji, and I have the honor to
be an adjutant of the King of Prussia. My royal master has intrusted me
with a most important and secret mission, and I am commissioned by your
brother, the Abbe Bastiani, to ask in his name for your assistance in
this great matter.”

“In what does your mission consist?” said the prior, calmly.

The Baron Cocceji smiled. “It is difficult--yes, impossible to tell you
in a few words. Your worship must allow me a wider scope, in order to
explain myself fully.”

“Speak on!” said the prior.

“I see, by the maps and the arrangements of the pins, that your worship
knows exactly the position and circumstances of my royal master, whom
all Europe admires and wonders at, and whom his enemies fear most when
they have just defeated him. They know that my king is never so great,
never so energetic and bold in action, as when he is seemingly at a
disadvantage, and overwhelmed by misfortunes. The bold glance of the
great Frederick discovers ever-new fountains of help; he creates in
himself both power and strength, and when his enemies think they have
caught the royal lion in their nets, his bold eye has already discovered
the weak spot; he tears it apart, and makes his foes, bewildered with
terror and astonishment, fly before him. It is true, the king has
just lost three battles! The Austrians and Russians defeated him at
Hochkirch, at Kunersdorf, and at Mayen. But what have they gained?
They have, in these three battles, lost more than the king; they have
exhausted their resources--their own, and those of their allies; but
Frederick stands still opposed to them, full of strength and power. His
army is enlarged; from every side, from every province, shouting crowds
stream onward to join the colors of their king. Enthusiasm makes a youth
of the graybeard, and changes boys to men. Each one of them will have
his part in the experience and fame of the great Frederick, and demands
this of him as a holy right. The king’s treasury is not exhausted; the
people, with joy and gladness, have offered up upon the altar of the
fatherland, their possessions, their jewels, and their precious things,
and submit with enthusiasm to all the restrictions and self-denials
which the war imposes upon them. They desire nothing but to see
their king victorious; to help him to this, they will give property,
blood--yes, life itself. It is this warm, enthusiastic love of his
people which makes the king so fearful to his enemies; it protects him
like a diamond shield, steels him against the balls of his adversaries,
and fills his proud, heroic soul with assurances of triumph. All Europe
shares this enthusiasm and these convictions of ultimate success with
the Prussians and their dear-loved king. All Europe greets the hero with
loud hosannas, who alone defies so many and such mighty foes, who has
often overcome them, and from whom they have not yet wrung one single
strip of the land they have watered with their blood, and in whose bosom
their fallen hosts lie buried in giant graves. This has won for him the
sympathy of all Europe, and the love and admiration of even the subjects
of his great and powerful foes. In France--that France, whose warriors
suffered so shameful a defeat at Rossbach, and whose government is
filled with rage and thirsty for revenge against this heroic king--even
in France is Frederick admired and worshipped. Even in the palace of
the king, they no longer refuse to acknowledge his worth and glory. But
lately, the young Duke de Belleisle exhorted the Marquise de Pompadour
to implore King Louis to prosecute the war with earnestness and ardor,
otherwise King Frederick might soon be expected in Paris with his army.
The Marquise de Pompadour cried out warmly, ‘Good! then I shall at
last see a king!’ In Germany, his enemies seek in vain to arouse
the fanaticism of the people against the heretical king. Catholic
Bavaria--the Palatinate-Main--enter murmuringly and reluctantly into
this war against this Protestant king, although they wear the beads in
their pockets, and the scapular over their shoulders. Even if Frederick
the Second is now overcome by his enemies, in the public opinion he
is the conqueror, and the whole world sympathizes with him. But public
opinion is his only ally, and the sympathy of the people is his only
source of revenue, outside of the subsidy from England, which will soon
be exhausted. Frederick, therefore, must look after other allies, other
friends, who will render him assistance, in so far as not to unsheathe
the sword against him, and to prepare some difficulties for his
adversaries, and occupy a portion of their attention. Such friends the
king hopes to find in Italy; and to attain this object, I would ask
counsel and help of your worship.”

“And in how far is it thought that I can be useful in this matter?” said
the prior, thoughtfully.

“Your worship has a second brother, who is minister of the King of
Sardinia, and it is well known he is the king’s especial confidant and
favorite.”

“And my noble brother, Giovanni, merits fully the favor of his king!”
 said the prior, heartily. “He is the most faithful, the most exalted
servant of his master!”

“In all his great and good characteristics, he resembles his brother,
the Prior of San Giovanni, and I hope, in this also, that he is the
friend of the King of Prussia!” said the stranger.

“But I fear neither the friendship of my brother Giovanni nor my own
can be useful to the King of Prussia. I am a poor and powerless
monk, suspected and watched. My offence is, that I have not, like the
fanatical priests of the Church, wished for the destruction and death of
the great Frederick. My brother is the minister of a king, whose land
is neither rich enough in gold to pay subsidies, nor in men to place an
army in the field.”

“Well, then, we must take occasion to increase the territory of the King
of Sardinia!” said Baron Cocceji. “We must give him so large a realm,
that he will be a dangerous neighbor to France and Austria. This is the
plan and the intention of my king. Upon these points turn the proposals
I will make in Turin, for the furtherance of which, I pray your
assistance. The King of Sardinia has well-grounded claim to Milan, to
Mantua, and to Bologna, by the treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle; why not make
himself King of Lombardy? Unhappy Italy is like unhappy Germany--torn to
pieces. In place of obeying one master, they must submit to the yoke of
many. The dwellers in Italy, instead of being Italians, call themselves
Milanese, Venetians, Sardinians, Tuscans, Romans, Neapolitans, and I
know not what. All this weakens the national pride, and takes from the
people the joyful consciousness of their greatness. Italy must be one
in herself, in order to be once more great and powerful. Let the King of
Sardinia take possession of Upper Italy, and he will, with his rightful
inheritance, and as King of Lombardy, be a powerful prince--feared by
his enemies, and welcomed by his allies.”

“And do you think that Naples would look quietly on and witness this
rapid growth of Sardinia?” said the prior, laughing.

“We will give to Naples an opportunity at the same time to enlarge her
borders the young King of Naples has energy; he has proved it. When his
father, Don Carlos, was called by right of succession to the Spanish
throne, he had himself declared King of Naples, not regarding the
right of the Duke of Parma, to whom, according to the treaty of
Aix-la-Chapelle, the Neapolitan throne rightly belonged. King Ferdinand
is already a usurper! Let him go on, even as successfully in the same
path--he has taken Naples--let him take Tuscany and the States of the
Church, and, as King of Lower Italy, he will be as powerful as the King
of Sardinia. In order that both may obtain possession of these lands
uninterrupted and uninjured, will the King of Prussia so completely
occupy the attention of Austria and France in Germany and Flanders as
to make it impossible for them to interfere with Naples and Sardinia?”
 [Footnote: Preuss, “History of Frederick the Great.”]

“By Heaven! a great and bold idea; altogether in harmony with the
energetic spirit of Frederick,” cried the prior. “If the two Italian
kings resemble the great Frederick, they will adopt this plan with
enthusiasm.”

He had risen, and stepped hastily backward and forward, now and then
murmuring a few disconnected words; he then drew near the table and
stood earnestly regarding the maps.

Cocceji did not dare to interrupt him by word or sound; he watched him,
however, closely. At last, however, the inward struggle seemed to be
over, he stood quietly before the baron, and, fixing his dark, earnest
eyes with a thoughtful expression upon him, he said, softly: “You have
confided to me a great and dangerous enterprise. If I did my duty as the
unconditional subject of the Pope, and as a priest of the holy Church,
of which Frederick is the bitter antagonist, I should arrest you here,
as a dangerous negotiator and enemy, and above all, I should give speedy
notice of this conspiracy, which not only threatens Clement as head
of the Church, but as sovereign of the States of the Church. But--what
would you have?--I was not born a priest, and my heart and my spirit
have never been able to accommodate themselves fully to the discipline
of my order. I have always remained, I fear,” said he, with a graceful
smile, “the true brother of the free-thinking Abbe Bastiani; and it
appears to me, it lies in our blood to love and pay homage to the great
and intellectual King of Prussia. I will, therefore, listen to and
follow the voice of my blood and of my heart, and forget a little that
I am a priest of the only church in which salvation can be found. As
far as it lies in my power, I will promote your object. I will give
you letters to Turin, not only to my brother Giovanni, but to Father
Tomaseo, the king’s confessor. He is my most faithful friend, and
sympathizes fully with me. If you can win him and my brother Giovanni,
you have won the king, and he will lend a willing ear to your proposals.
Your plans are bold, but my brother and Father Tomaseo are daring,
undaunted men; the progress of Italy and the greatness of their king
lies nearest their hearts. They are both influenced by my judgment,
and when you hand them my letters, you will at least be a most welcome
guest.”

He gave the baron his hand, and listened with a kindly smile to the
enthusiastic thanks of the over-happy soldier, whose first diplomatic
mission seemed to promise so favorably.

“Be, however, always prudent and discreet, signor,” said the prior,
laughing. “Play your role as merchant; do not lay it aside for one
moment while in Turin. Leave Venice as quickly as possible; no doubt the
brother guardian, who was sent from Rome as a spy, who watches not
only all my actions, but my words and thoughts, has remarked our long
interview, and is already suspicious. As he has a fine nose, he may soon
discover a part of your secret! Do not return to the cloister. During
the day I will send you the promised letters by a faithful brother.
As soon as you receive them, be off! My best wishes and my prayers
accompany you. Without doubt, you are, like your great king, a heretic.
I cannot, therefore commend you to Mary Mother, and the saints, but I
will pray to God to watch over you.”

The prior stopped suddenly and listened! Loud cries of wild alarm forced
themselves upon his ear; the sounds appeared to come from directly under
his feet, and waxed louder and fiercer every moment.

“It is in the dining-room,” said the prior, “follow me, sir, I beg you,
we may need your help--some one is murdering my monks!” They hastened
from the room with flying feet; they passed through the long corridors
and down the steps; the cries and roars and howls and curses became ever
clearer.

“I was not mistaken,” said the prior, “this comes from the refectory.”
 He rushed to the door and threw it hastily open, then stood, as if
chained to the threshold, and stared with horror at the mad spectacle
before him.

There were no murderous strangers there playing wild havoc amongst his
monks: but the worthy fathers themselves were making the fierce tumult
which filled the prior with alarm. The saloon no longer resembled the
ascetic, peaceful refectory of cloister brothers. It was changed into
a battle-field, upon which the two hosts thirsting for blood stood
opposed.

The table upon which the glasses, plates, and dishes seemed to have been
thrown together in wild disorder, was shoved to one side, and in the
open space the monks stood with flashing eyes, uttering curses and
imprecations; not one of them remarked that the prior and Cocceji stood
at the door, astonished spectators of this unheard-of combat.

“Silence!” said the father guardian, making frantic gesticulations
toward the monks who stood opposed to him and his adherents--“silence!
no one shall dare within these sacred walls to speak of the Prussian
heretical king in any other way than with imprecations. Whoever wishes
success to his arms is an apostate, a traitor, and heretic. God has
raised the sword of His wrath against him, and He will crush him
utterly; He has blessed the weapons of his adversaries as Clement has
also done. Long live Maria Theresa, her apostolic majesty!”

The monks by his side roared out, “Long live Maria Theresa, her
apostolic majesty!”

“She will not be victorious over Frederick of Prussia,” cried Father
Anselmo, the leader of the opposite party. “The Pope has blessed the
arms of Daun, but God himself has blessed the weapons of Frederick. Long
live the King of Prussia! Long live the great Frederick!”

“Long live the great Frederick!” cried the monks by the side of Father
Anselmo.

The party of the father guardian rushed upon them with doubled fists;
the adversaries followed their example. “Long live Theresa!” cried the
one. “Long live Frederick!” cried the other--and the blows and kicks
fell thickly right and left, with the most lavish prodigality.

It was in vain that the prior advanced among them and commanded
peace--no one regarded him. In their wild and indiscriminate rage they
pressed him and shoved him from side to side, and in the heat of the
battle several powerful blows fell upon his breast; so the poor prior
took refuge again at the door near Cocceji, who was laughing merrily at
the wild disorder.

The cries of “Long live Theresa!”

“Long live Frederick!” were mingling lustily in the bloody strife.

The father guardian was enraged beyond bearing, and his flashing eye
looked around for some sharp weapon with which to demolish Father
Anselmo, who had just exclaimed, “Long live Frederick, the victor of
Leuthen and Zorndorf!” He seized a large tin cup, which was near him
upon the table, and with a fierce curse he dashed it in the face of
Father Anselmo, and the blood burst from his nose. This was the signal
for a new order of attack. Both parties rushed to the table to arm
themselves; the cups whizzed through the air and wounded severely the
heads against which they were well aimed. Here and there might be
heard whimperings and piteous complaints, mixed with curses and frantic
battle-cries--“Long live Theresa!”

“Long live Frederick!” Some of the warriors crept from the contest into
the corners to wipe the blood from their wounds and return with renewed
courage to the contest. A few cowards had crept under the table to
escape the cups and kicks which were falling in every direction.

Father Anselmo remarked them, and with loud, derisive laughter he
pointed them out.

“The Teresiani live under the table, no Prussiano has crept there. All
the Teresiani would gladly hide as they have often done before.”

The Prussiani accompanied these words of their leader with joyous
shouts.

The father guardian trembled with rage; he seized a large dish from
the table and dashed it at Anselmo, who dodged in time, and then with
a powerful arm returned the compliment. It was a well-directed javelin.
The tin dish struck the father guardian exactly in the back--he lost his
balance, and fell to the earth. The Prussiani greeted this heroic deed
of their chief with shouts of triumph. “So shall all the Teresiani
perish!”

The battle waxed hotter and fiercer, the air was thick with missiles.

“They will murder each other!” cried the prior, turning to the Baron
Cocceji. “Not so, your worship; there will only be a few blue swellings
and bleeding noses--nothing more,” said Cocceji, laughing.

“Ah, you laugh young man; you laugh at this sad spectacle!”

“Forgive me, your worship; but I swear to you, I have never seen
warriors more eager in the fray, and I have never been more curious to
witness the result of any battle.”

“But you shall not witness it,” said the prior, resolutely. “You shall
no longer be a spectator of the unworthy and shameful conduct of my
monks. I pray you to withdraw instantly; in a few hours I will send
you the letters, and if you believe that I have rendered you the least
service, I ask in return that you will tell no one what you have seen.”

“I promise, your worship,” said Cocceji, with forced gravity. “If the
people without shall ask me what all this tumult means, I will say
that the pious fathers in the cloister are singing their ‘floras.’”
 [Footnote: Baron Cocceji did not keep his word, as this whole scene is
historic.]

Baron Cocceji bowed to the prior, and returned with gay and hopeful
thoughts to the hotel of the “White Lion.”

A few hours later, a monk appeared and desired to speak with the
stranger about the holy relics.

Cocceji recognized in him the worthy Father Anselmo, the victor over the
father guardian.

“Will you do me a great pleasure, worthy father?” said he. “Tell
me which party remained in possession of the field after your great
battle.”

An expression of triumphant joy flashed in Father Anselmo’s eyes.

“The Prussiani were victorious, and I think the Teresiani will never
dare to recommence the strife; four of their monks lie in their cells
with broken noses, and it will be some weeks before the father guardian
will be capable of performing his duties as spy; he is sore and stiff,
and his mouth is poorer by a few teeth. May all the enemies of the
great Frederick share his fate! May God bless the King of Prussia and be
gracious to his friends!”

He greeted the baron with the sign of the cross, and withdrew.

The baron remembered the warning of the prior, and hastened quietly
from Venice. Already the next morning he was on the highway to Turin.
[Footnote: This diplomatic mission failed, because of the faint heart
of the King of Sardinia. He rejected the bold propositions of Frederick
entirely, and said, in justification of himself, that since the alliance
between the powers of France and Austria, he had his head between a
pair of tongs, which were ever threatening to close and crush him. Baron
Cocceji was not more fortunate in Naples, and after many vain efforts
he was forced to return home, having accomplished nothing.--Duten’s
“Memoirs of a Traveller.”]



CHAPTER IV. THE RETURN FROM THE ARMY.


It was a sunny, summer day-one of those days which incline the heart to
prayer, and bring tears of happiness to the eyes. There are no such days
in cities; if we would enjoy them we must go into the country--we must
seek them in peaceful valleys, in fragrant forests, where the silence is
unbroken, except by the fluttering leaves and the singing of birds. We
must understand the eloquent silence of Nature in order to enjoy the
holy Sabbath quiet of a summer day; and we must be able to hear the
language which the flowers breathe forth, to understand the sighing of
the wind, and the rustling of the trees.

Very few can do this, but few would care for it. God has not opened the
eyes of the hearts of many of us to this extent; these things are hidden
by a thick veil from the many; they cannot see the heavenly beauty of
Nature--they do not understand the fairy tale which she is ever telling.
This is gentle, idyllic, fairy lore, unsought by the learned. It
whispers of roses, of dancing elves, of weeping clouds, of dreaming
violets.

Happy are those who listen to these fables, who are not called by the
necessities of life to hear the roar of cannon--to find all these
sweet and holy songs overpowered by the noise of war, the horrors of
bloodshed!

War, destructive war, still held a lighted torch over unhappy Germany;
cities and villages were in ruins--even the peace of Nature was
destroyed. The valleys, usually so quiet, now often resounded with the
roar of cannon. The fields remained uncultivated, the meadows uncared
for; there were no strong hands to work. The men and youths were gone,
only the old graybeards and the women were in the villages, and the work
advanced but slowly under their trembling hands. Unhappiness and want,
care and sorrow were in the land.

Even in the once peaceful and happy village of Brunen on the Rhine,
misery had made itself felt. Grief and anguish dwelt with the bereaved
mothers, with the forsaken brides, and the weak old men; with the
useless cripples, who had returned from the war, and who spent their
time in relating the dangers through which they had passed, in telling
of the sons, the brothers, the husbands, and the fathers of those
who listened to their tales--those dear ones who were, perhaps, now
stretched upon the battle-field.

But on this bright day no one in the village gave a thought to the
beauties of Nature, for a new misfortune weighed heavily upon the hearts
of the unhappy inhabitants. They were no longer the subjects of the
hero-king, who was so worshipped by all; under whose colors their
fathers and sons still fought. The French army, led by the Duke de
Broglie and the Count de St Germain, had taken possession of all that
part of the country, and held it in the name of their king. It was
declared a French province, and the inhabitants, helpless and forsaken,
were compelled to acknowledge the French as their masters, and to meet
the taxes which were imposed upon them.

It was a most bitter necessity, and no one felt it more deeply than the
old shepherd Buschman, the father of Charles Henry. He sat, as we first
saw him, on the slope of the field where his flock was grazing, guarded
and kept in order by the faithful Phylax. His eye was not clear and
bright as then, but troubled and sorrowful, and his countenance bore
an expression of the deepest grief. He had no one to whom he could pour
forth his sorrows--no one to comfort him--he was quite alone Even his
youngest son, Charles Henry, the real Charles Henry, had been compelled
to leave him. The recruiting officers of the king had come a short time
before the French troops had taken possession of the province, and had
conscripted the few strong men who were still left in the village of
Brunen.

But this time the men of Brunen had not answered joyfully to the demand.
Even old Buschman had wished to keep his son Charles Henry with him. Had
he not sent six sons to the field of battle, and had they not all died
as heroes? Charles Henry was his last treasure, his one remaining child;
his grief-torn heart clung to him with the deepest devotion. To
be parted from him seemed more bitter than death itself. When the
recruiting officer came into the hut of Buschman and summoned Charles
Henry to follow him as a soldier, the eyes of the old man filled with
tears, and he laid his hands upon the arm of his son as if he feared to
see him instantly torn from his sight.

“Captain,” he said, with a trembling voice, “I have sent the king six
sons already; they have all died in his service. Tell me truly, is the
king in great need? If so, take me as well as my son--if not, leave me
my son.”

The officer smiled, and extended his hand to the old man. “Keep your
son,” he said. “If you have lost six sons in the war, it is right that
you should keep the seventh.”

Buschman uttered a cry of joy, and would have embraced his son, but
Charles Henry pushed him gently back, and his father read in his
countenance a determination and energy that he had rarely seen there.

“No, father,” he said, “let me go--let me be a soldier as my brothers
were. I should have gone four years ago, when I was prevented, and Anna
Sophia--Ah, let me be a soldier, father,” he said, interrupting himself.
“All the young men of the village are going, and I am ashamed to remain
at home.”

The old man bent his head sadly. “Go then, my son,” he said; “God’s
blessing rest upon you!”

Thus Charles Henry went; not from a feeling of enthusiasm for the life
of a soldier--not from love to his king--but merely because he was
ashamed to remain at home.

He had now been absent several months, and his father had not heard from
him. But the news of the lately lost battle had reached the village, and
it was said that the Prince Royal of Brunswick, in whose corps Charles
Henry was, had been defeated. The old shepherd remembered this as he
sat in the meadow this bright summer morning. His thoughts were with his
distant son, and when he raised his eyes to heaven it was not to
admire its dazzling blue, or its immeasurable depth, but to pray to the
Almighty to spare his son. The peaceful tranquillity of Nature alarmed
the old man--she speaks alone to those who have an ear attuned to
her voice--she says nothing to those who listen with a divided heart.
Buschman could endure it no longer; he arose and started toward the
village. He longed to see some human being--to encounter some look of
love--to receive sympathy from some one who understood his grief, who
suffered as he did, and who did not wear the eternal smile that Nature
wore.

He went to the village, therefore, and left the care of his flock to
Phylax. It comforted his heart as he passed through the principal street
of Brunen and received kind greetings from every hut he passed. He
felt consoled and almost happy when here and there the peasants hurried
toward him as he passed their huts, and begged him to come in and join
them at their simple mid-day meal, and were quite hurt when he refused
because his own dinner was prepared for him at home. These men loved
him--they pitied his loneliness--they told him of their own cares, their
own fears--and as he endeavored to console and encourage them, he felt
his strength increase--he was more hopeful, more able to bear whatever
God might send.

 “We must be united in love,” said Buschman; “we will help each
other to bear the sorrows that may come upon us. To-morrow is Sunday; in
the morning we will go to the house of God, and after we have whispered
to Him the prayers which He alone must hear, we will assemble together
under the linden-tree in the square and talk of the old times and those
who have left us. Do you not remember that it was under the linden-tree
we heard of the first victory that our king gained in this fearful
war? It was there that Anna Sophia Detzloff read the news to us, and we
rejoiced over the battle of Losovitz, And I also rejoiced and thanked
God, although the victory had cost me the lives of two of my sons. But
they perished as heroes. I could glory in such a death; and Anna Sophia
read their praises from the paper. Ah, if Anna lived, I would at least
have a daughter.”

He could speak no more, emotion arrested the words on his lips; he bowed
to his friends and passed on to his lonely hut. His little table was
spread, and the young girl who served him, and who slept in his hut at
night, was just placing a dish of steaming potatoes before his plate.
The old man sat down to his solitary meal; he ate only to sustain his
body; his thoughts were far away; he took no pleasure in his food. In
the middle of his meal he started up; a shadow had fallen across the
window, and two loving, well-known eyes had seemed to look in on him.
Buschman, as if paralyzed with delight, let fall his spoon and looked
toward the door. Yes, the bolt moved, the door opened, and there stood
the tall figure of a Prussian soldier.

The old man uttered a cry and extended his arms. “Oh, my son, my beloved
son, do I indeed see you once more?”

“Yes, father, I am here; and God willing, we will never again be
parted.” And Charles Henry hastened to the outstretched arms of his
father, and kissing him tenderly, pressed him to his heart.

“The thought of you, dear father, has led me here,” he said; “but for
you I would not have returned to Brunen; I should have wandered forth
into the world--the world which is so much greater and more beautiful
than I ever dreamed. But your dear old eyes were before me; I heard your
loved voice, which called to me, and I returned to you.”

“God be praised!” said his father, folding his hands, and raising his
eyes gratefully toward heaven. “Oh how kind and merciful is God, to give
me back my last, my only son, the support of my old age, the delight
of my eyes! You will not leave me again. This is not merely a leave of
absence; you have obtained your release, the war is ended, the king has
declared peace.”

The eyes of the old man were dimmed with tears; he did not perceive how
Charles Henry trembled, and that a deep flush mounted to his brow.

“No, father,” he said, with downcast eyes, “I will never leave you
again. We have all returned home. It will be bright and gay once more
in the village, and the work will go forward, for there is a great
difference between a dozen old men and as many young ones. It was most
needful for us to return. The corn is ripe, and should have been already
gathered. We must go to work. To-morrow shall be a happy day for the
village; the whole neighborhood shall perceive that the twelve young men
of Brunen have returned. We met a violinist on the way, and we engaged
him for to-morrow. He must play for us under the linden tree, and our
fathers and mothers, and sisters and sweethearts must join us, and we
will dance and sing and make merry.”

“What a coincidence!” said the old shepherd, with a bright smile. “We
had already decided that we would meet together tomorrow under the
linden. We wished to sit there and mourn together over our lost sons. To
sing and dance is much better, and perhaps the old grayheads will join
you.”

“You must dance with me, father,” said Charles Henry, laughing. “I will
take no refusal.”

“I will, my son, I will; joy has made me young again, and if Phylax, the
old graybeard, does not mind, and will allow me, I will dance with you,
but you know he is always jealous of you. I am sure the whole village
will envy you your gay young partner. But now, my son,” he continued
gravely, “tell me of our king, and how is it that he has declared peace
so suddenly, and whether he has been victorious or the reverse.”

“I know nothing of the king,” said Charles Henry; “I was not near him,
but in the division of the Duke of Brunswick.”

“I know that, my son; but the duke would not proclaim peace without the
knowledge and consent of the king.”

“Oh, father, they will compel the king to make peace,” cried Charles
Henry. “And as for the Duke of Brunswick, he has given up the attack
against Wesel and has withdrawn to Westphalia, and the French are in
possession of the entire lowlands, which, it is to be hoped, they will
retain.”

“You hope that?” asked his father, with astonishment.

“Well, yes, father. The French king is now, and perhaps will always be,
the lord of Cleve; and, as his subjects, we must wish him success, and
hope that he will always conquer the King of Prussia.”

“What do you say, my son?” asked the old man, with a bewildered
expression. “I fear you are right. The French are our masters now, and,
as our king has declared peace with France, we have the unhappiness of
being French subjects. May God protect us from such a fate! It would be
fearful if we dared not call the great hero--king our king, and, if we
should live to see the day when our sons should be compelled, as French
soldiers, to go to battle against their king. Only think, Charles Henry,
you would not be allowed to wear your fine Prussian uniform on Sundays,
and it is so becoming to you, and is as good as new. But how is it, my
son, that they have left you the uniform? They are usually taken from
the released soldiers and put amongst the army stores.”

“We all came home in our Prussian uniforms,” said Charles Henry, “but of
course we will lay them aside to-day.”

“Why to-day?”

“Because we are French subjects, and therefore it is not proper for us
to wear the uniform of the enemy, the King of Prussia. That is also the
reason why we have returned home. When we learned that Cleve had fallen
into the possession of the French, we knew that we were no longer the
subjects of the King of Prussia, and we dared not fight under his flag
against the French, whose subjects we had become. We considered that,
and we thought how much it would injure you all here in Brunen if
it were known that your sons were in the army of the Prussian king.
Principally on that account we determined to return home, and we left
our regiment yesterday morning, which was on the point of marching off
to Minden, and we walked the entire day and half the night. We slept
a few hours in a forest, and at the break of day we recommenced our
journey. And now, father, that I have seen you, and you know every
thing, I will go to my room and take off this uniform, and become a
peasant once more.” He sought to leave the room hastily, for the amazed,
horror-struck expression of his father was most disagreeable to him.

But Buschman placed his hand so heavily upon his son’s arm that he
was compelled to remain. “Say it is a jest, Charles,” he cried, in an
excited voice. “It is not possible for my son, the brother of my six
hero-boys, to speak thus! It is merely a jest, Charles. You wished to
joke with your old father. It is not true that you have deserted the
flag of our king; put an end to this cruel jest, Charles Henry, and
show me your leave of absence which every honest soldier obtains
before leaving his regiment. Do you hear, Charles Henry? Show it to me
quickly.” He extended his trembling hand toward his son, while with the
other he still held his arm in a powerful grasp.

“Father,” said Charles Henry, fiercely, “I have no such paper. It is as
I told you; we have left the Prussian army because we are no longer
the subjects of the King of Prussia, and it is not necessary for us to
remain in the service. We wish to become peasants once more.”

“You lie! you lie!” cried his father. “You are no deserter--it is
impossible that my son should be a deserter.”

“No, father, I am no deserter,” returned his son, defiantly, as he freed
his arm from the old man’s grasp. “I am no deserter--I have only done my
duty as a subject of the French king. I have left the flag of the enemy,
and I am here ready and willing to obey my new master as a true subject.
That is all I have to say, father, and I believe when you consider, you
will see that I was right, and that you will be pleased for me to take
off the Prussian uniform and remain with you.” He did not wait for his
father’s answer, but left the room hastily, as if he feared to be again
detained.

The old man arose to follow him, but his feet refused their accustomed
office; with a deep groan, he sank upon his chair, and as the scalding
tears streamed from his eyes, he murmured: “Oh, my God! my son is a
deserter! Why did you permit me to live to see this shame? Why did you
not close my eyes that they might not meet this disgrace?”



CHAPTER V. THE BRAVE FATHERS AND THE COWARDLY SONS.


The clear bell of the village church was sounding for mass, calling the
pious inhabitants of Brunen to worship in the temple of God. All the
hut-doors were opening, and men and women in Sunday attire wending
their way in solemn stillness to church. They were followed by their
children--the maidens with downcast, modest eyes, the boys with bright
and joyous faces, proud of the thought that they were old enough to go
to church.

From the distant farm came the servants, two and two, up the broad
chestnut alley, greeting here and there the church-goers, and walking
on with them, chatting softly. They all remained standing a short
time under the great linden, waiting until the bell ceased, until the
church-door was opened and the minister appeared with the sacristan
and the four choir-boys. Not until then were they allowed to enter the
church.

A bright-looking crowd was assembled under the linden; it seemed as if
all the inhabitants of the village were there. All felt the necessity
of visiting God’s house to-day to thank Him for the safe return of their
sons, brothers, and lovers. The twelve boys who had returned were under
the linden in their handsomest Sunday attire. But why did they stand
alone? Why was such a wide space left between them and the other
villagers? Why did the men avoid looking at them? Why did the maidens
step timidly back and remain silent when they approached and tried to
speak with them? Why were they all whispering together, pointing at the
boys and turning their backs upon them when they drew near?

“Leave them alone,” whispered one of the boys to the others; “they will
be more friendly this afternoon when the music is playing and the wine
and cake is handed.”

“There is my father, and I must go and meet him,” said Charles Henry, as
he hastened toward the old man who was approaching the square.

All drew back from Charles Henry, and as he stood opposite his father,
like actors upon the stage they found themselves alone amongst the
spectators, who were gazing at them with breathless expectation.

“Good-morning, father,” said Charles Henry, with forced gayety, as he
offered his hand to his father. “You slept so late to-day, and went to
bed so early yesterday, that I have not been able to speak to you since
our first greeting. So I bid you good-morrow now.”

The old man looked quietly at him, but he did not take the proffered
hand, and tried to pass him.

“Father,” continued Charles Henry, “you must be tired; our hut lies at
the other end of the village, and that is a long walk for your old legs.
Rest yourself on me, father, and allow your son to lead you to church.”
 He stretched forth his hand to take the old man’s arm, but Buschman
pushed it back, and passed him, without looking, without even speaking
to him.

Charles Henry sprang after him. “Father,” he cried, “do you not hear me?
Can you--”

The old man did not really appear to hear him, for he walked toward the
village justice with a quiet, unmoved face, as the latter advanced to
meet him.

“Friend,” said Buschman, in a loud, firm voice, “I am fatigued with my
walk; will you lend me your arm?”

He leaned heavily upon the offered arm, and walked quickly onward. All
heard these words, but only the justice saw the tears which rolled down
his pale, sunken cheeks.

“You were very harsh, father,” murmured the justice, as they walked on.

“Were you more forgiving?” said the old man, with a trembling voice.
“Was not your son amongst the twelve, and did you speak to him, or look
at him?”

“He did not pass the night in my house; I drove him away!” said the
justice gloomily.

“Oh, oh!” sighed the old man; “how bitter is our grief! We love our
children most when they give us most sorrow; but it must be so, friend,
we cannot act otherwise. Let us enter the church, and pray God to give
us strength to do what is right.”

Supported by the justice, he entered the churchyard, while from the
other side the minister, followed by the sacristan and the choirboys,
was just appearing.

“See,” murmured the justice, “our good old minister has not come to-day
to preach to us; but has sent his assistant. There is certainly some
disagreeable order of the archbishop to read to us, and our pastor
is not willing to read it; he is a good Prussian, and loves the great
king.”

The young minister advanced smilingly to meet the two old men.

“Well,” said he, with sanctimonious friendliness, as he offered both of
them a hand, “allow me to congratulate you.”

“For what?” asked both of them, astonished.

“For the happiness of yesterday. Can there be a greater joy for fathers
than to receive their sons safe and sound from the tumult of battle?
Your sons have returned home, faithfully fulfilling their duty to their
new master, his Catholic majesty of France. They abandoned the flag of
the heretic king, laid aside his uniform, and are again simple peasants,
ready to assist their fathers in the field. Come, my young friends, that
I may give you the blessing of the Church, for so resolutely fulfilling
your duty.”

He held out his hand to the young men, who were just entering the
churchyard. They obeyed his call the more readily, as it was the first
welcome they had received--the first kind word they had heard since
their return. As they approached the minister, the other men drew back,
and entered the church hastily, followed by their wives and children.

“You will see, father,” murmured the justice, as they seated themselves
together in the pew, “that there is an order to-day. Whenever the
assistant is so delighted and friendly, there is something wrong. They
are certainly meditating some villanous trick against Frederick, and
therefore our good pastor is not here.”

The justice had prophesied aright. When the services were over, and the
congregation about to leave the church, the assistant again mounted the
pulpit, and desired them to remain for a while, and hear what he had
to communicate, in the name of the archbishop, Sir Clement Augustus of
Bavaria.

“His eminence, the most honorable archbishop, sends his dear and
faithful children the holy blessing and salutation of the Church. These
are his words: ‘We, Clement Augustus, archbishop of Bavaria, entreat and
command our children in Christ to be faithful to their new government
and their new king, Louis XV. of France, whose apostolic majesty has
taken the sword of the Lord into his blessed hand, to fight the enemies
of the Church, and to chastise and punish the rebellious heretic prince
who has arbitrarily named himself King of Prussia. God’s anger is
against him, and He will crush and destroy the presumptuous mockers of
the Lord. Woe unto them who will not listen to God’s voice, who in their
mad blindness cling to this heretic! Woe unto you if, in the delusion of
your hearts, you still offer him love and faith! You are released
from all duty to him as subjects, and you now have the blessing of the
Church. I, as your shepherd, made so by the holy Pope of Rome, command
you, therefore, to be faithful to your new master--pray that God may
bless his arms, and grant him victory over his ungodly enemy. My
anger and dire punishment shall reach any one who refuses to obey
this command. He who dares to stand by the heretic king, is himself a
heretic, and a rebellious subject of the Church. Be on your guard; heavy
punishment shall meet those who dare to rejoice over the fame of the
so-called great Frederick. Such rejoicing will be regarded as blasphemy
against the holy Mother Church. To conclude, we remain your loving
father, and send our dear children in Christ our most gracious love and
greeting.’”

The men listened to the message of the fanatic archbishop with gloomy
faces and downcast eyes; but the twelve boys, who at first stood alone
in the aisle, not daring to seat themselves with the others, now gazed
boldly and triumphantly around, seeming to ask if the villagers did not
now acknowledge that they had acted wisely in returning.

With renewed courage, and somewhat proudly, they were the first to leave
the church, and placed themselves in two rows at the door. While
the congregation was passing by they invited their dear friends and
relations to meet them that afternoon under the great linden, where they
would hold a little festival to celebrate their safe return.

“We shall come,” said the men, with earnest, solemn voices. “We will
be there,” said the mothers, gazing with tearful eyes at the triumphant
faces of their sons. The young maidens whom the boys invited to dance,
passed them in silence.

Old Buschman, alone, did not answer his son’s invitation, nor did he
follow the rest to the village, but turned to the side of the churchyard
where his wife was buried. He seated himself upon her grave, and
murmured a few words with trembling lips, raising his face toward
heaven. A sob escaped him every now and then, and the tears rolled
slowly from his eyes. From time to time he wrung his hands, as if
bewailing his sorrow to God and beseeching His mercy, then brushed away
his tears--angry with himself for being so moved.

He sat there a long, long time, struggling with his grief--alone with
God and his shame. Approaching steps aroused him; he looked up. The
village justice stood before him, and gazed at him with a melancholy
smile.

“I knew I would find you here, Father Buschman, and I came for you. The
time is come; we are all assembled on the square awaiting you.”

“I come!” said the old man, as he stood up resolutely, giving a last
loving farewell glance at his wife’s grave.

The old man no longer needed his friend’s arm to support him, his steps
were firm; his form manly and erect, his venerable countenance glowed
with energy.

By the side of the village justice he walked to the square, under the
great linden. There every thing looked bright and gay. The boys had
taken advantage of the dinner hour to make worthy preparations for their
festival. They had brought fresh evergreens from the woods, and had
made wreaths and festooned them from tree to tree around the square. The
ground was covered prettily with flowers and leaves, and the bench under
the tree was decorated with a wreath of field-flowers.

On one side of the square stood several tables covered with bottles of
wine and beer and cake and bread; not far from the tables was a throne
adorned with flowers, where sat the fiddler, gazing proudly around him,
like a king who knows he is the crowning point of the feast.

It certainly had been a long time since the merry sound of the fiddle
had been heard in the village of Brunen. The throne was surrounded by
little boys and girls listening with wondering delight at the gay music.
But the grown girls stood afar off and did not look even once at the
enticing fiddler, but hid themselves timidly behind the mothers, who
were standing with stern faces gazing at the groups of men waiting
anxiously on the other side of the square.

The stillness and universal silence began at last to make the boys
uneasy. They had tried in vain to engage the men in conversation. They
received no answer to their questions, and when they turned to the women
and the maidens, they also remained dumb. The returned soldiers then
went to the other side of the square to talk to the fiddler and the
children; but when they began to fondle and play with the little ones,
they were called by their fathers and mothers and bade to remain at
their side.

The boys gazed questioningly at one another.

“I am curious to know what this means; are we to remain standing here
all night?” muttered one of them.

“It appears to me that they are waiting for some one,” murmured another.

“They are expecting my father,” said Charles Henry; “and see, there he
comes from the churchyard. The justice went for him.”

When the old man arrived at the square the men advanced to meet him,
conducted him gravely to the bench under the great linden, and assisted
him to stand upon it. There he towered above them, and his pale,
venerable face, his silver hairs were visible to all. Every eye was
directed to him, and breathless silence ensued. The old man raised his
arm and pointed toward the side where the twelve boys stood.

“Come to me, Charles Henry Buschman,” he said, solemnly; and as his son
advanced rapidly to him, he continued: “I ask you in the name of God, if
what you told me yesterday is true? Have you secretly left the flag of
your king, our sovereign--the great King Frederick of Prussia? Is it
true that you have forsaken your regiment and the flag to which you
swore to be faithful?”

“It is true,” said Charles Henry, with assumed daring, “but we were
not only justified in doing so--our duty compelled us. We are no longer
Prussian subjects, but subjects of the King of France. You all heard
to-day what the minister read to us in church--how the archbishop
commanded us to be faithful to our new sovereign. We could no longer
wear the Prussian uniform or be Prussian soldiers, therefore we returned
to our village.”

“You returned as dishonored, faithless soldiers!” cried the old man,
looking angrily at his son--“you returned covered with shame--miserable
deserters--to the disgrace of your fathers, mothers, your brothers,
sisters, sweethearts, and your friends. You have deserted the flag of
your rightful king, to whom you swore the oath of allegiance--an oath
which God received, and which no man can annul. Men of Brunen! shall
we stand this shame that our sons bring upon us? Shall the world point
their fingers at us and say: ‘These are the fathers of soldiers who
deserted their regiment, and were false to their king?’”

“No!” cried they all, as with one voice--“no, we will not stand this--we
will have no deserters as sons!”

The old man bowed his head in silence; then turned slowly to the side
where the women stood.

“Women and maidens of Brunen! Will you allow your sons and brothers
who are covered with shame, to stay amongst you? Will you receive the
deserters in your houses and at your tables? Will you open your arms to
them and call them sons and brothers?”

“No, no!” cried the women and maidens, simultaneously; “we will not
receive them in our houses, or at our tables. We will have no deserters
for sons or brothers!”

The old man stood erect, and, as if inspired with a mighty enthusiasm,
raised his arm toward heaven, and his countenance beamed with holy
light.

“They must return to their flag,” he cried, in a commanding voice “With
your blood you must wash the shame from your brows, and from ours. If
God preserves your lives, and you redeem your honor as brave soldiers of
the King of Prussia, then and then only we will receive you as our sons
and welcome you to our arms.”

“So shall it be!” cried the men and the women, and the maidens murmured
their acquiescence.

The old man stepped from the bench and walked forward slowly to the
other side of the square where the twelve young men were standing gazing
at him with terrified faces.

“Return!” cried the old man, stretching his arm toward them--“return to
the flag of your king; we want no deserters amongst us; away with you!”

“Away with you!” cried the men--“away from our village!”

The children, influenced by their parents, cried out with shrill voices:
“Away from our village--away!”

The youths were at first stunned, and gazed with staring eyes at the
crowd of angry faces and flashing eyes which menaced them, then seized
with terror, they fled.

“Away with you! away with the deserters!” was thundered after them.
“Away with you!” cried their mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, and
friends.

This fearful cry sounded to them like the peal of the last judgment.
With trembling knees, and faces pale as death, they rushed down the
principal street of the village. The crowd started after them, and like
the howling of a storm, shouted behind them: “Away with you!--away with
the deserters!”

On they ran, as if pursued by furies, farther, farther down the street,
but the villagers still chased them. Once only Charles Henry dared to
look around at the pursuers. It was a fearful sight. At the head of the
rest he saw his old father, with his pale face, his white hair flying in
the wind; raising his arms threateningly toward him, he cried out in a
thundering voice: “Away with you!--away with the deserters!”

Charles Henry rushed onward--a cry of terror escaped his lips, and he
fled like a madman.

They had passed the borders of the village--it was quiet behind
them--they dared to look back--they were alone. But on the boundary-line
the villagers stood--their faces turned toward the fugitives--and like
the distant croakings of a raven there sounded in the air: “Away with
you!--away with the deserters!”

Breathless, with tottering knees, the boys sank down--with hollow eyes,
speechless with terror, sorrow, and humility, they gazed at each other.

They did not dare return to the village. Perhaps to appease the anger of
their relations, perhaps because they repented of their cowardice, they
returned to their regiment, acknowledged their crime, and prayed for
forgiveness.

Thus the brave fathers of the village of Brunen punished their cowardly
sons, and drove the dishonored and faithless boys to their duty, perhaps
to their death. [Footnote: This account is historical.]



CHAPTER VI. THE TRAITOR’S BETRAYAL.


Count Ranuzi was alone in his apartments. He sat at his writing-table
reading over the two letters he had just written; a triumphant smile was
upon his lip as he finished. “It will succeed,” murmured he, softly; “we
will take Magdeburg without a blow, and thus deprive the King of Prussia
of his most valuable fortress. The plan cannot miscarry; and then I
have only to convince the empress that I was the soul of this
undertaking--that I led the intrigue. Ah, I shall succeed at last--I
shall occupy a position worthy of me--and as general of our order I
shall rule the world. I shall earn this title at Magdeburg--there I will
build my throne--there I will reign! But I must consider it all once
more, to see if no error, no mistake, has escaped me. I first formed a
connection with the officer yon Kimsky, an Austrian prisoner, because
through him I could make connections between the town and the citadel.
Kimsky, at my wish, made some of his town friends acquainted with the
officers of the citadel. It was then necessary to give these new friends
some clew, some aim that would appear innocent to them, and conceal the
real plan. I chose Trenck as the protecting shield for my undertaking.
To inspire him with confidence in my agents, I obtained a sort of
credential letter from Princess Amelia, and interested her in my cause.
She provided me with money, and gave me, besides the one to Trenck, a
letter of recommendation to a sure, trustworthy friend in Magdeburg. I
was now much nearer my design. On the pretence of working for Trenck, I
worked for myself, for my position of general of the Jesuits, and for
a fortress for my empress. And thus far all my plans have succeeded.
Trenck has formed a connection with three Prussian officers of the
citadel. These, touched with sympathy for his pitiful condition, have
determined to do all in their power to release him, and are, therefore,
in constant companionship with those whom Trenck calls his friends.
These, in the mean time, are my agents and subordinates, they act for me
while acting for Trenck; the Prussian officers do not anticipate that,
in helping Trenck to his freedom, they are helping the Empress of
Austria to a new fortress. But so it is. There is no error in my plan,
it will succeed. I can rely on Trenck; he is a subject of Maria Theresa,
and his thirst for revenge is mighty. He will gain a fortress for
his empress. The avenger, through whom God has chosen to punish this
arrogant, heretical king, will arise from the depths of a subterranean
prison. All that is now left to be done is to acquaint Vienna with
the information of this undertaking, so that we may be assured that an
Austrian regiment will be in the vicinity of Magdeburg at the proper
time, and storm the citadel at a sign from us, and not have that, which
we had taken by strategy, torn from us by the King of Prussia’s superior
force. Now is a favorable time for this. For Frederick, the humiliated,
defeated king, is many miles from Magdeburg; he has been compelled to
raise the siege of Dresden, and the Austrian troops are lying there like
the Russians at Frankfort. Nor are the French far off. All these armies
will be prepared to hasten to our aid. All that now remains to be done
is to get this news safely to Vienna. But how to accomplish this is a
hard question. It were well could I go myself. But I am a prisoner of
war, and, until Magdeburg is in our power, this chain will clog me.
Another must be sent--a messenger full of courage, determination, and
hardihood. I have said this in my letter to Captain von Kimsky; he must
seek such a man amongst our sworn friends of the citadel, and give him
the sheet of paper I send in my letter. How harmless, how insignificant
this sheet of paper seems! and still, were it to fall in the King
of Prussia’s hands, it would save him a strong fortress and several
millions of thalers, for all the money of the Dresden treasury was
brought to Magdeburg for safe-keeping. Ah! ah! how much would Frederick
give for these two lines of writing, and how richly would he reward
him who gave him the key to it! I will send the key by a different
messenger, and therefore this second letter. But even if both my
messengers were intercepted, all is not lost. I have notified Trenck
also to write to Vienna for money and help. He must continue to be
the shield behind which we intrench ourselves. Should the undertaking
miscarry, we will lay it upon Trenck; should it succeed, it will be
through me, and I will not be tardy in claiming my reward. The general
of our order is old; should he, however, persist in living, his
tenacious nature must--“He did not dare to finish the sentence; but
a wild, demoniac smile supplied the words his lips dared not utter. He
arose and walked several times up and down his chamber, completely lost
in ambitious dreams of the future, for whose realization, as a true
Jesuit, he shunned no means, mindful of the motto of their order: “The
end sanctifies the means.”

He saw a ring upon his hand--that ring, full of significance, before
which kings had often bowed, which was to the Jesuits what the crown is
to the king--the sacred sign of power and glory--the indisputable sign
of invisible but supreme power. He saw himself, this ring upon his hand,
subjugating nations, rewarding his friends, punishing his enemies. He
suddenly awoke from his dreams, and remembered the present with a weary
smile.

“I must not forget, in dreams of the future, the necessity for action. I
have many important things to do this day. I must take these letters to
Marietta, see her address and post them; then I must seek La Trouffle
and receive from her leave of absence, on the plea of visiting a sick
friend at Magdeburg. This will be a tedious undertaking, for she will
not agree willingly to a separation without great persuasion. I have
much influence over her, and a woman in love cannot refuse a request to
the object of her tenderness. I will obtain, through Madame du Trouffle,
a near and influential relative of the commandant of Berlin, permission
to visit Magdeburg, and through Marietta Taliazuchi I will post my two
important letters.” He laughed aloud as he thought of these two women,
so tenderly devoted to him, both so willing to be deceived by him.

“They love me in very different ways,” said he, as he finished his
toilet preparatory to going out. “Marietta Taliazuchi with the humility
of a slave, Louise du Trouffle with the grateful passion of an elderly
coquette. It would be a problem for a good arithmetician to solve, which
of these two loves would weigh most. Marietta’s love is certainly the
more pleasant and comfortable, because the more humble. Like a faithful
dog she lies at my feet; if I push her from me, she comes back, lies
humbly down, and licks the foot that kicked her. Away, then, to her, to
my tender Marietta.”

Hiding his letters in his breast, he took his hat and hastened in
the direction of Marietta’s dwelling. She received him in her usual
impassioned manner; she told him how she had suffered in their long
separation; how the thought that he might be untrue to her, that he
loved another had filled her with anguish.

Ranuzi laughed. “Still the same old song, Marietta; always full of doubt
and distrust? Does the lioness still thirst after my blood? would she
lacerate my faithless heart?”

Kneeling, as she often did, at his feet, she rested her arms on his
knees; then dropping her head on her folded hands, she looked up at him.

“Can you swear that you are true to me?” said she, in a strange, sharp
tone. “Can you swear that you love no other woman but me?”

“Yes, I can swear it!” said he, laughing.

“Then do so,” cried she, earnestly.

“Tell me an oath and I will repeat it after you.”

She looked at him firmly for several moments, and strange shadows
crossed her emotional countenance.

Ranuzi did not perceive them; he was too inattentive, too confident of
success, to entertain doubt or distrust.

“Hear the oath!” said she, after a pause. “‘I, Count Carlo Ranuzi, swear
that I love no other woman but Marietta Taliazuchi; I swear that, since
I