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Title: Louisa of Prussia and Her Times: 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 "Louisa of Prussia and Her Times: A Historical Novel" ***

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NAPOLEON IN GERMANY

LOUISA OF PRUSSIA AND HER TIMES

A Historical Novel


By Louise Muhlbach



Translated From The German By F. Jordan



CONTENTS

CAMPO FORMIO.

CHAPTER I. DREADFUL TIDINGS.

CHAPTER II. MINISTER VON THUGUT.

CHAPTER III. THE INTERVIEW.

CHAPTER IV. THE TWO MINISTERS.

CHAPTER V. THE HOUSE IN THE GUMPENDORFER SUBURB.

CHAPTER VI. JOSEPH HAYDN

CHAPTER VII. GENERAL BONAPARTE

CHAPTER VIII. THE TREATY OF CAMPO FORMIO.


THE YOUNG QUEEN OF PRUSSIA.

CHAPTER IX. QUEEN LOUISA.

CHAPTER X. THE KING’S RECOLLECTIONS.

CHAPTER XI. THE YOUNG KING.

CHAPTER XII. FREDERICK GENTZ.

CHAPTER XIII. THE INTERVIEW WITH THE MINISTER OF FINANCE.

CHAPTER XIV. THE MEMORIAL TO FREDERICK WILLIAM III

CHAPTER XV. THE WEDDING.

CHAPTER XVI. MARIANNE MEIER.

CHAPTER XVII. LOVE AND POLITICS.


FRANCE AND GERMANY.

CHAPTER XVIII. CITOYENNE JOSEPHINE BONAPARTE.

CHAPTER XIX. BONAPARTE AND JOSEPHINE.

CHAPTER XX. THE RECEPTION OF THE AMBASSADORS.

CHAPTER XXI. FRANCE AND AUSTRIA.

CHAPTER XXII. THE BANNER OF GLORY.

CHAPTER XXIII. MINISTER THUGUT.

CHAPTER XXIV. THE FESTIVAL OF THE VOLUNTEERS.

CHAPTER XXV. THE RIOT.


LAST DAYS OF THE EIGHTEENTH CENTURY.

CHAPTER XXVI. VICTORIA DE POUTET.

CHAPTER XXVII. RASTADT.

CHAPTER XXVIII. THE JUSTIFICATION.

CHAPTER XXIX. THE ASSASSINATION.

CHAPTER XXX. JEAN DEBRY.

CHAPTER XXXI. THE COALITION.

CHAPTER XXXII. THE FRIEND OF PEACE.

CHAPTER XXXIII. THE LEGITIMATE WIFE.

CHAPTER XXXIV. THE EIGHTEENTH OF BRUMAIRE.


THE PEACE OF LUNEVILLE

CHAPTER XXXV. JOHANNES MULLER.

CHAPTER XXXVI. THUGUT’S FALL.

CHAPTER XXXVII. FANNY VON ARNSTEIN.

CHAPTER XXXVIII. THE RIVALS.

CHAPTER XXXIX. THE LEGACY.

CHAPTER XL. THE FIRST CONSUL.

CHAPTER XLI. TWO GERMAN SAVANTS.


THE THIRD COALITION.

CHAPTER XLII. THE EMPEROR NAPOLEON.

CHAPTER XLIII. NAPOLEON AND THE GERMAN PRINCES.

CHAPTER XLIV. QUEEN LOUISA’S PIANO LESSON.

CHAPTER XLV. THE CONFERENCE.

CHAPTER XLVI. THE OATH AT THE GRAVE OF FREDERICK THE GREAT.


THE FALL OF THE GERMAN EMPIRE.

CHAPTER XLVII. EVIL TIDINGS.

CHAPTER XLVIII. BEFORE THE BATTLE.

CHAPTER XLIX. “GOTT ERHALTE FRANZ DEN KAISER!”

CHAPTER L. PATRIOTISM.

CHAPTER LI. JUDITH.

CHAPTER LII. NAPOLEON AND THE PRUSSIAN MINISTER.

CHAPTER LIII. JUDITH AND HOLOFERNES

CHAPTER LIV. THE FALL OF THE GERMAN EMPIRE.


THE BATTLE OF JENA.

CHAPTER LV. A GERMAN BOOKSELLER AND MARTYR.

CHAPTER LVI. THE ARREST.

CHAPTER LVII. A WIFE’S LOVE.

CHAPTER LVIII. THE WOMEN OF BRAUNAU.

CHAPTER LIX. THE LAST HOUR.

CHAPTER LX. PRUSSIA’S DECLARATION OF WAR.

CHAPTER LXI. A BAD OMEN.

CHAPTER LXII. BEFORE THE BATTLE.

CHAPTER LXIII. THE GERMAN PHILOSOPHER.



CAMPO FORMIO.


CHAPTER I.

DREADFUL TIDINGS.


The population of Vienna was paralyzed with terror; a heavy gloom
weighed down all minds, and the strength of the stoutest hearts seemed
broken. Couriers had arrived today from the camp of the army, and
brought the dreadful tidings of an overwhelming defeat of the Austrian
forces. Bonaparte, the young general of the French Republic, who, in the
course of one year (1796), had won as many battles and as much glory
as many a great and illustrious warrior during the whole course of an
eventful life--Bonaparte had crossed the Italian Alps with the serried
columns of his army, and the most trusted military leaders of Austria
were fleeing before him in dismay. The hero of Lodi and Arcole had won
new victories, and these victories constantly diminished the distance
between his army and the menaced capital of Austria.

Archduke Charles had been defeated by Massena, and driven back to
Villach; Bernadotte had reached Laybach; the citadels of Goritz,
Triest, and Laybach had surrendered; Klagenfurth, after a most desperate
struggle, had been forced to open its gates to the conquerors; Loudon,
with his brave troops, had been dispersed in the Tyrol; Botzen had
opened its gates to General Joubert, who, after a brief sojourn, left
that city in order to join Bonaparte, who, in his victorious career, was
advancing resistlessly toward Vienna.

Such were tidings which the couriers had brought, and these tidings were
well calculated to produce a panic in the Austrian capital. While the
court and the nobility were concealing their grief and their sorrows
in the interior of their palaces, the populace rushed into the streets,
anxiously inquiring for later intelligence, and still hopeful that God
in His mercy might perhaps send down some ray of light that would dispel
this gloom of anguish and despair.

But a pall covered Vienna, and everybody looked sad and dejected.
Suddenly some new movement of terror seemed to pervade the crowd that
had gathered on the Kohlmarkt. [Footnote: Cabbage Market.] As if a storm
were raising up the waves of this black sea of human figures, the dense
mass commenced to undulate to and fro, and a wail of distress arose,
growing louder and louder, until it finally broke out into the terrible
cry: “The emperor has deserted us! the emperor and the empress have fled
from Vienna!”

While the masses were bewailing this new misfortune with the
manifestations of despair, while they assembled in small groups to
comment vociferously on this last and most dreadful event of the day,
all of a sudden Hungarian hussars galloped up and commanded the people,
in the most peremptory manner, to stand aside and to open a passage
for the wagons which were about to enter the market from one of the
adjoining streets.

The people, intimidated by the flashing swords and harsh words of the
soldiers, fell back and gazed with an expression of anxious suspense
upon the strange procession which now made its appearance.

This procession consisted of twelve wagons, apparently not destined to
receive living men, but the remains of the dead. The broad and heavy
wheels were not surmounted by ordinary carriage-boxes, but by immense
iron trunks, large enough to enclose a coffin or a corpse; and these
trunks were covered with heavy blankets, the four corners of which
contained the imperial crown of Austria in beautiful embroidery. Every
one of these strange wagons was drawn by six horses, mounted by jockeys
in the imperial livery, while the hussars of the emperor’s Hungarian
bodyguard rode in serried ranks on both sides.

The horses drew these mysterious wagons slowly and heavily through the
streets; the wheels rolled with a dull, thundering noise over the uneven
pavement; and this noise resounded in the ears and hearts of the
pale and terrified spectators like the premonitory signs of some new
thunderstorm.

What was concealed in these mysterious wagons? What was taken away from
Vienna in so careful a manner and guarded so closely? Everybody was
asking these questions, but only in the depth of his own heart, for
nobody dared to interrupt the painful and anxious silence by a loud
word or an inquisitive phrase. Every one seemed to be fascinated by the
forbidding glances of the hussars, and stunned by the dull rumbling of
the wheels.

But, when finally the last wagon had disappeared in the next street,
when the last horseman of the hussar escort had left the place, the eyes
of the anxious spectators turned once more toward the speakers who had
previously addressed them, and told them of the misfortunes of Austria,
and of the brilliant victories of the youthful French General Bonaparte.

“What do those wagons contain?” shouted the crowd. “We want to know it,
and we must know it!”

“If you must know it, why did you not ask the soldiers themselves?”
 shouted a sneering voice in the crowd.

“Yes, yes,” said another voice, “why did you not approach the wagons and
knock at the trunks?--may be the devil would have jumped out and shown
you his pretty face!”

The people paid no attention to these sneering remarks. The painful
uncertainty, the anxious excitement continued unabated, and everybody
made surmises concerning the contents of the wagons.

“The trunks contain perhaps the coffins of the imperial ancestors, which
have been removed from the Kapuzinergruft, in order to save them from
the French,” said an honest tailor to his neighbor, and this romantic
idea rolled immediately, like an avalanche, through the vast crowd.

“They are removing the remains of the old emperors from Vienna!” wailed
the crowd. “Even the tombs are no longer safe! They are saving the
corpses of the emperors, but they are forsaking us--the living! They
abandon us to the tender mercies of the enemy! All who have not got the
money to escape are lost! The French will come and kill us all!”

“We will not permit it!” shouted a stentorian voice. “We want to keep
the remains of Maria Theresa and of the great Emperor Joseph here in
Vienna. As long as they lived they loved the people of the capital, and
they will protect us in death. Come, brethren, come; let us follow the
wagons--let us stop them and take the bodies back to the Kapuzinergruft
[Footnote: Vaults of the Capuchins]”.

“Yes, let us follow the wagons and stop them,” yelled the crowd, which
now, when it could no longer see the flashing and threatening weapons of
the soldiers, felt exceedingly brave.

Suddenly, however, these furious shouts and yells were interrupted by
a powerful voice which ordered the people to desist, and they beheld a
tall man who, with cat-like agility, climbed upon the iron lamp-post in
the centre of the square.

“Stop, stop!” roared this man, extending his arms over the crowd as
if, a new Moses, he wanted to allay the fury of the sea and cause it to
stand still.

The crowd instantly obeyed this tremendous voice, and all these
indignant, anxious, and terrified faces now turned toward the speaker
who stood above them on top of the lamp-post.

“Don’t make fools of yourselves,” said he--“don’t give these
Hungarians--who would be only too glad to quench their present rage in
German blood--a chance to break your bones. Have you any arms to compel
them to show you the wagons and their contents? And even if you were
armed, the soldiers would overpower you, for most of you would run away
as soon as a fight broke out, and the balance of you would be taken to
the calaboose. I will do you the favor, however, to tell you all about
those wagons. Do you want to know it?”

“Yes, yes, we do!” shouted the crowd, emphatically. “Be quiet over
there!--Stop your noise!--Do not cry so loud!--Hush!--Let us hear what
is in the wagons.--Silence, silence!”

Profound silence ensued--everybody held his breath and listened.

“Well, then, listen to me. These wagons do not contain the remains of
the former emperors, but the gold and the jewels of the present emperor.
It is the state treasure which those hussars are escorting from Vienna
to Presburg, because the government deems it no longer safe here. Just
think of what we have come to now-a-days! Our imperial family, and even
the state treasure, must flee from Vienna! And whose fault is it that we
have to suffer all this? Who has brought these French down upon us? Who
is inundating all Austria with war and its calamities? Shall I tell you
who is doing it?”

“Yes, tell us, tell us!” shouted the crowd. “Woe unto him who has
plunged Austria into war and distress, and caused the flight of the
emperor and the removal of the treasure from Vienna!”

The speaker waited until the angry waves of the people’s wrath had
subsided again, and then said in the clear, ringing tones of his
powerful voice: “It is the fault of our prime minister, Baron von
Thugut. He don’t want us to make peace with the French. He would rather
ruin us all than to make peace with the French Republic.”

“But we don’t want to be ruined!” shouted the crowd--“we don’t want to
be led to the shambles like sheep. No, no; we want peace--peace with
France. Prime Minister Thugut shall give us peace with France!”

“You had better go and inform the proud minister himself of what you
want,” said the speaker with a sneer. “First compel him to do what the
emperor and even our brave Archduke Charles wanted to be done--compel
the omnipotent minister to make peace.”

“We will go and ask him to give us peace,” said several voices in the
crowd.

“Yes, yes, we will do that!” shouted others. “Come, come; let us all go
to the minister’s house and ask him to give us back the emperor and the
state treasure, and to make peace with Bonaparte.”

The speaker now descended hurriedly from the lamp-post. His tall,
herculean figure, however, towered above the crowd even after his feet
had touched the pavement.

“Come,” said he to the bystanders in a loud and decided tone, “I will
take you to the minister’s house, for I know where he lives, and we will
shout and raise such a storm there until the proud gentleman condescends
to comply with our wishes.”

He led the way rapidly, and the crowd, always easily guided and pliable,
followed its improvised leader with loud acclamations. Only one idea,
only one wish, animated all these men: they wanted peace with France,
lest Bonaparte might come to Vienna and lay their beautiful capital in
ashes in the same manner in which he had treated so many Italian cities.

Their leader walked proudly at the head of the irregular procession;
and as the crowd continued to shout and yell, “Peace with France!” he
muttered, “I think I have accomplished a good deal to-day. The archduke
will be satisfied with what I have done, and we may compel the minister
after all to make peace with France.”



CHAPTER II.

MINISTER VON THUGUT.


The prime minister, Baron von Thugut, was in his cabinet, in eager
consultation with the new police minister, Count von Saurau, who had
given him an account of the safe removal of the imperial state treasure
which, like the emperor and the empress, had set out for Hungary.

“All right! all right!” said Thugut, with a sinister chuckle. “In
Hungary both will be safe enough, for I think I have intimidated the
Hungarians so much that they will remain very quiet and very humble.”

“Your excellency refers to the conspiracy which we discovered there, two
years ago,” said Count Saurau, smiling, “and which the accursed traitors
expiated on the gallows!”

“De Mortuir Nil Nisi Bene!” exclaimed Thugut. “We are under many
obligations to these excellent traitors, for they have enabled us to
render the Hungarians submissive, just as the traitors who conspired
here at Vienna two years ago enabled us to do the same thing to the
population of the capital. A conspiracy discovered by the authorities is
always a good thing, because it furnishes us with an opportunity to
make an example, to tell the nation through the bloody heads of the
conspirators: ‘Thus, thus, all will be treated who dare to plot against
the government and against their masters!’ The Viennese have grown very
humble and obedient since the day they saw Hebenstreit, the commander
of the garrison, on the scaffold, and Baron Riedel, the tutor of the
imperial children, at the pillory. And the Hungarians, too, have learned
to bow their heads ever since the five noble conspirators were beheaded
on the Generalwiese, in front of the citadel of Ofen. Believe me, count,
that day has contributed more to the submissiveness of Hungary than all
the favors and privileges which the Emperors of Austria have bestowed
upon the Magyars. Nations are always frivolous and impudent children: he
who tries to educate them tenderly is sure to spoil them; but raise them
in fear and trembling, and they will become quiet and obedient men. And
for that reason, I tell you once more, don’t call those men, now that
they are dead, accursed traitors, for they have been very useful to us;
they have been the instrument with which we have chastised the whole
overbearing people of Austria and Hungary, and those were blessed days
for us when we mowed down the high-born traitors of both countries. The
sword of our justice performed a noble work on that day, for it struck
down a savant and a poet, a count and a distinguished prelate. Oh, what
a pity that there was no prince among them!”

“Well, a prince might have been found likewise,” said Count Saurau,
“and perhaps he may get into our meshes on some other occasion. Your
excellency is an adroit hunter.”

“And you are an excellent pointer for me. You scent such things on
the spot,” Count Thugut exclaimed, and broke out into a loud burst of
laughter.

Count Saurau laughed also, and took good care not to betray how cruelly
the joke had wounded his aristocratic pride. The Austrian aristocracy
was accustomed to such insults at the hands of the powerful and proud
prime minister, and everybody knew that Thugut, the son of a poor
ship-builder, in the midst of his greatness, liked to recall his
modest descent, and to humble the nobility through the agency of the
ship-builder’s son.

“Your excellency will permit me to render myself at once worthy of the
praise you have kindly bestowed upon me,” said the police minister,
after a short pause. “I believe we have discovered another conspiracy
here. True, it is only an embryo as yet, but it may grow into something
if we give it the necessary time.”

“What is it, Saurau?” said Thugut, joyfully--“tell me at once what it
is! A conspiracy--a good, sound conspiracy?”

“Yes, a most malignant and important conspiracy! A conspiracy against
your excellency’s life!”

“Bah!--is that all?” said Thugut carelessly, and with evident
disappointment. “I was in hopes that by this time you would hand over to
me some high-born aristocrats who had held secret intercourse with that
execrable French Republic. It would have been a splendid example for
all those hare-brained fools who are so fond of repeating the three
talismanic words of the republican regicides, and who are crazy with
delight when talking of Liberte, Egalite, Fraternite. I would have
liked to chastise a few of these madmen, in order to put a stop to the
prevailing republican enthusiasm. But instead of that, you talk to me of
a conspiracy only aimed at myself!”

“Only at yourself!” repeated the count, with great indignation. “As
if it were not the most dreadful calamity for Austria if she should be
deprived of your services. You know that we are standing on the verge
of a precipice; in the interior, the liberal and seditious desires which
the senseless reforms of the Emperor Joseph have stirred up, are still
prevalent, and the people only submit with reluctance and with spiteful
feelings to the reforms which your excellency has inaugurated with a
view to the best interests of Austria. Abroad, on the other hand, the
blood-stained French Republic incites the malecontents to imitate its
own infamies; they would like to see the victorious banners of General
Bonaparte here in order to have his assistance in establishing a
republican government in Austria.”

“It is true,” said Thugut, “the Austrian empire, at the present time, is
exposed to great dangers from within and without; the reins must be held
very firmly in order to conduct the ship of state safely through the
breakers, and I believe I am the man to do it. You see, count, I do not
underrate my own importance. I know only too well that Austria needs
me. Still, the plots and conspiracies that are merely directed against
myself, make me laugh. For let me tell you, my dear little count, I
really fancy that my person has nothing to fear either from daggers,
or from pistols, or from poisoned cups. Do you believe in a Providence,
count? Ah!--you look surprised, and wonder how such a question could
fall from infidel lips like mine. Yes, yes, I am an infidel, and I
honestly confess that the heaven of Mohammed, where you are smoking
your chibouk, seated on cushions of clouds, while houris, radiant with
beauty, are tickling the soles of your feet with rosy fingers, appears
to me by far more desirable than the Christian heaven where you are to
stand in eternal idleness before the throne of God Almighty, singing
hymns, and praising His greatness. Ah! during the happy days of my
sojourn at Constantinople, I have had a slight foretaste of the heaven
of Mohammed; and again, in the tedious days of Maria Theresa, I have had
a foretaste of the heaven of Christianity!”

“And which Providence did your excellency refer to?” asked Saurau. “I
pray your excellency to tell me, because your faith is to be the model
of mine.”

“I believe in a Providence that never does any thing in vain, and
never creates great men in order to let them be crushed, like flies,
by miserable monkeys. That is the reason why I am not afraid of any
conspiracy against myself. Providence has created me to be useful
to Austria, and to be her bulwark against the surging waves of the
revolution, and against the victorious legions of General Bonaparte. I
am an instrument of Providence, and therefore it will protect me as long
as it needs me. But if, some day, it should need me no longer, if it
intended then that I should fall, all my precautions would be fruitless,
and all your spies, my dear count, would be unable to stay the hand of
the assassin.”

“You want me to understand, then, that no steps whatever are to be taken
against the criminals conspiring against your excellency’s life?”

“By no means, count--indeed, that would be an exaggeration of fatalism.
I rely greatly on your sagacity and on the vigilance of your servants,
count. Let them watch the stupid populace--see to it that faux freres
always attend the meetings of my enemies, and whenever they inform you
of conspiracies against myself, why, the malefactors shall be spirited
away without any superfluous noise. Thank God, we have fortresses and
state prisons, with walls too thick for shrieks or groans to penetrate,
and that no one is able to break through. The public should learn as
little as possible of the fate of these criminals. The public punishment
of an assassin who failed to strike me, only instigates ten others to
try if they cannot hit me better. But the noiseless disappearance of a
culprit fills their cowardly souls with horror and dismay, and the ten
men shrink back from the intended deed, merely because they do not know
in what manner their eleventh accomplice has expiated his crime. The
disappearance of prisoners, the oubliettes, are just what is needed.
You must quietly remove your enemies and adversaries--it must seem as
if some hidden abyss had ingulfed them; everybody, then, will think this
abyss might open one day before his own feet, and he grows cautious,
uneasy, and timid. Solely by the wisdom of secret punishments, and
through the terror inspired by its mysterious tribunals, Venice has been
able to prolong her existence for so many centuries. Because the spies
of the Three were believed to be ubiquitous--and because everybody was
afraid of the two lions on the Piazzetta, the Venetians obeyed these
invisible rulers whom they did not know, and whose avenging hand was
constantly hanging over them.”

“Now, however, it seems that a visible hand, a hand of iron, is going
to strike away the invisible hands of the Three,” said Count Saurau,
quickly. “Bonaparte seems to desire to force Venice, too, into the pale
of his Italian republics. The city is full of French emissaries, who, by
means of the most eloquent and insidious appeals, try to bring about a
rising of the Venetians against their rulers, in order--but hark!” said
the count, suddenly interrupting himself. “What is that? Don’t you hear
the clamor in the street, right under our window?”

He paused, and, like the minister, turned his eyes and ears toward the
window. A confused noise, loud shouts and yells, resounded below.

The two ministers, without uttering a word, arose from their arm-chairs
and hurried to one of the windows, which looked upon the wide street
extending from the Kohlmarkt to the minister’s palace. A vast mass of
heads, broad shoulders, and uplifted arms, was visible there, and the
angry roar of the excited populace was approaching already the immediate
neighborhood of the palace.

“It seems, indeed, as if these honorable representatives of the people,
intended to pay me a visit,” said Thugut, with great composure. “Just
listen how the fellows are roaring my name, as if it were the refrain of
some rollicking beer-song!”

“Why, it is a regular riot!” exclaimed the police minister, angrily.
“Your excellency will permit me to withdraw--”

He left the window hastily, and took his hat, but Thugut’s vigorous hand
kept him back.

“Where are you going, count?” said he, smiling.

“To the governor of Vienna,” said Saurau. “I want to ask him why he
permits this nonsense, and order him to disperse the rabble in the most
summary manner!”

“Pray, stay here,” said Thugut, quietly. “The governor of Vienna is a
man of great sagacity, who knows perfectly well how we have to treat the
people. Why, it would be an unparalleled tyranny if the poor people were
not even allowed to give the prime minister their good advice, and
tell him what they think of the state of affairs. Just give them this
permission, and they will believe they have performed a most heroic
deed, and it will seem to them as if they could boast of great liberty.
True political wisdom, my dear little count, commands us to give the
people a semblance of liberty; we thereby succeed in dazzling their
eyes so well that they do not perceive that they have no real liberty
whatever.”

The clamor and noise in the street below had increased in fury.
The people, whose dense masses now entirely obstructed the street,
impetuously moved up to the portal of the ministerial palace, the front
door of which had been locked and barred already by the cautious
porter. Vigorous fists hammered violently against the door, and as an
accompaniment to this terrible music of their leaders, the people howled
and yelled their furious refrain: “We want to see the minister! He shall
give us peace! peace! peace!”

“Ah! I know what it means!” exclaimed Count Saurau, gnashing his teeth.
“Your enemies have instigated these scoundrels. The party that would
like to overthrow you and me, that wants to make peace with France at
any price, and to keep Belgium united with Austria--this party has hired
the villains below to get up a riot. They want to compel your excellency
either to resign or to comply with the wishes of the people, and make
peace with the French Republic.”

Thugut laughed. “Compel ME!” said he, laconically.

At that moment the mob yelled louder than ever, and the shout--“Peace!
we want peace!” shook the windows.

Simultaneously the furious blows against the front door redoubled in
violence.

“Assuredly, I cannot stand this any longer!” exclaimed the police
minister, perfectly beside himself. “I ought not to listen quietly to
this outrage.”

“No,” said Thugut, very quietly, “we won’t listen to it any longer. This
is my breakfast-hour, and I invite you to be my guest. Come, let us go
to the dining-room.”

He took the count’s arm, and proceeded with him to the adjoining room.
Breakfast for eight persons was served in this room, for Baron Thugut
was in the habit of keeping every day open table for seven uninvited
guests, and his intimate acquaintances, as well as his special
favorites, never failed to call on the minister at least once a week
during his well-known breakfast and dinner hours.

To-day, however, the minister’s rapid and inquisitive glances did
not discover a single guest. Nobody was in the room except the eight
foot-men who stood behind the chairs. Well aware of their master’s stern
and indomitable spirit, they occupied their usual places, but their
faces were very pale, and their eyes turned with an expression of
extreme anxiety toward the windows which, just then, trembled again
under the heavy, thundering blows levelled at the front door.

“Cowards!” muttered Thugut, while walking to his chair at the upper end
of the table and beckoning Count Saurau to take a seat at his side.

At this moment, however, the door was hastily opened, and the steward,
pale and with distorted features, rushed into the room.



CHAPTER III.

THE INTERVIEW.


“Excuse me, your excellency,” said he, “but this time they are assuredly
in earnest. The people are storming the front door--the hinges are
beginning to give way, and in fifteen minutes, at the latest, the
scoundrels will have forced an entrance!”

“You had no business to close the door,” said the minister. “Who ordered
you to do so? Who ordered you to barricade the house, as if it were a
fortress--as if we had a bad conscience and were afraid of the people?”

The steward looked aghast, and did not know what to reply.

“Go down-stairs at once,” continued the minister; “order the porter to
open the door, and admit everybody. Show the people up-stairs; and you
rascals who are standing there with pale faces and trembling knees,
open the two folding-doors so that they can get in without hurting each
other. Now do what I have told you.”

The steward bowed with a sigh expressive of the agony he felt, and
hurriedly left the room.

The footmen, meanwhile, hastened to open the folding-doors of the
dining-room, as well as those of the antechamber. The two gentlemen
at the table obtaining thereby a full view of the landing of the large
staircase, directly in front of the open door of the first room.

“And now, Germain,” said Thugut to the footman behind his chair,
“now let us have our breakfast. Be wise, my dear count, and follow my
example; take some of this sherbet. It cools the blood, and, at the same
time, is quite invigorating. Drink, dear count, drink! Ah! just see, my
cook has prepared for us to-day a genuine Turkish meal, for there is a
turkey boiled with rice and paprica. The chief cook of the grand vizier
himself furnished me the receipt for this exquisite dish, and I may
venture to assert that you might look for it everywhere in Vienna
without finding it so well prepared as at my table.”

Heavy footsteps and confused voices were now heard on the staircase.

“They are coming--they really dare to enter here!” said Count Saurau,
trembling with anger. “Pardon me, your excellency; I admire your heroic
equanimity, but I am unable to imitate it. It is an utter impossibility
for me to sit here calmly and passively, while a gang of criminals is
bold enough to break into your house!”

“I beg your pardon, count; these people did not break into my house, but
I voluntarily opened the door to admit them,” said Baron Thugut, coolly.
“And as far as your official position is concerned, I pray you to forget
it for half an hour, and remember only that I have the honor of seeing
you--a rare guest--at my table. Let me beg you to take some of that
fowl; it is really delicious!”

Count Saurau, heaving a loud sigh, took a piece of the fowl which
Germain presented to him, and laid it on the silver plate that stood
before him. But just as he was going to taste the first morsel, he
hesitated, and looked steadily through the open doors. Several heads
with shaggy hair and flashing eyes emerged above the railing of the
staircase; many others followed--now the entire figures became visible,
and in the next moment, from twenty to thirty wild-looking men reached
the landing, behind whom, on the staircase, a dense mass of other heads
rose to the surface.

But the loud shouts, the fierce swearing and yelling, had ceased; the
awe with which the intruders were filled by the aristocratic appearance
of every thing they beheld, had hushed their voices, and even the
intrepid orator, who previously, on the Kohlmarkt, had excited the
people to commit acts of violence, and brought them to the minister’s
house--even he stood now hesitating and undecided, at the door of the
dining-room, casting glances full of savage hatred and rage into the
interior.

Thugut took apparently no notice whatever of what was going on; his
breakfast entirely absorbed him, and he devoted his whole attention to a
large piece of the turkey, which he seemed to relish greatly.

Count Saurau merely feigned to eat, and looked steadfastly at his plate,
as he did not want the rioters to read in his eyes the furious wrath
that filled his breast.

The men of the people did not seem to feel quite at ease on beholding
this strange and unexpected scene, which all of a sudden commenced to
cool their zeal and heroism, like a wet blanket. They had triumphantly
penetrated into the palace, shouting vociferously, and quite sure that
the minister would appear before them trembling and begging for mercy;
and now, to their utter amazement, they beheld him sitting very calmly
at the breakfast-table!

There was something greatly embarrassing for the poor men in this
position. They suddenly grew quite sober, and even intimidated, and
many of those who had ascended the staircase so boisterously and
triumphantly, now deemed it prudent to withdraw as quietly as possible.
The number of the heads that had appeared above the balusters was
constantly decreasing, and only about twenty of the most resolute and
intrepid remained at the door of the ante-room.

At length, the speaker who had addressed them on the Kohlmarkt,
conscious of his pledges and of the reward promised to him, overcame his
momentary bashfulness and stepped boldly into the ante-room, where the
others, encouraged by his example, followed him at once.

Baron Thugut now raised his eyes with an air of great indifference from
his plate and glanced at the men who with noisy steps approached through
the anteroom. Then turning to the footman behind him, he said, in a loud
voice:

“Germain, go and ask these gentlemen if they want to see me? Ask them
likewise whom you will have the honor to announce to your master?”

The men, overhearing these words, grew still more confused when the
servant in his gorgeous livery stepped up to them, and, with a most
condescending smile, informed them of the errand his master had given to
him.

But now it was out of the question to withdraw, as there was nothing
left to them but to arm themselves with whatever pluck and boldness they
had at their command in order to carry out the role they had undertaken
to play in the most becoming manner.

“Yes,” said the speaker of the Kohlmarkt, loudly and resolutely, “we
want to see the minister; and as for our names, I am Mr. Wenzel, of the
tailors’ guild; my neighbor here is Mr. Kahlbaum, also a tailor; and
others may mention their own names, so that this polite gentleman may
answer them to his excellency.”

But none of the other men complied with this request; on the contrary,
all looked timidly aside, a misgiving dawning in their minds that such a
loud announcement of their names might not be altogether without danger
for them.

Germain did not wait for the final conclusion, but hastily returned to
his master, in order to inform him of what he had heard.

“Mr. Wenzel, of the tailors’ guild, Mr. Tailor Kahlbaum, and the other
gentlemen, whatever their names may be, are welcome.” said the minister,
aloud, but without interrupting his meal for a single moment.

The men thereupon advanced to the door of the dining-room. But here a
proud and imperious glance from the minister caused them suddenly to
halt.

“I believe you have breakfasted already?” asked Thugut.

“Yes, we have breakfasted already,” replied Mr. Wenzel, in a surly
voice.

“Well, unluckily, I have not, and so I request you to let me finish
my breakfast first,” said Thugut, attacking once more the wing of the
turkey on his plate.

A long pause ensued. The men stood in the most painful embarrassment
at the door, where the minister’s stern glance had arrested them, and a
most unpleasant apprehension of what might be the result of this scene
began to take hold of their minds. Flashing sword-blades and muskets
aimed at their breasts would not have frightened them so much as the
aspect of the calm, proud, and forbidding figure of the minister, and
the utter indifference, the feeling of perfect security with which he
took his breakfast in full view of a seditious mob filled the rioters
with serious apprehensions for the safety of their own persons.

“I am sure a good many soldiers and policemen are hidden about the
palace,” thought Mr. Wenzel, “and that is the reason why he permitted us
to enter, and why he is now so calm and unconcerned; for as soon as we
get into the dining-room, those fine-looking footmen will lock the door
behind, and the soldiers will rush out of that other door and arrest
us.”

These pleasant reflections were interrupted by another terrible glance
from the minister, which caused poor Mr. Wenzel to tremble violently.

“Now, gentlemen, if you please, come in; I have finished my breakfast.”
 said Thugut with perfect coolness. “I am quite ready and anxious to hear
what you wish to say to me. So, come in, come in!”

The men who stood behind Mr. Wenzel moved forward, but the tall,
herculean figure of the member of the tailors’ guild resisted them and
compelled them to stand still.

“No, I beg your excellency’s pardon,” said Mr. Wenzel, fully determined
not to cross the fatal threshold of the dining-room, “it would not
become poor men like us to enter your excellency’s dining-room. Our
place is in the anteroom--there we will wait until your excellency will
condescend to listen to us.”

This humble language, this tremulous voice, that did not tally at all
with the air of a lion-hearted and outspoken popular leader, which Mr.
Wenzel had assumed in the street, struck terror and consternation into
the souls of the men who had so rashly followed him into the palace.

The minister rose; his broad-shouldered figure loomed up proudly, a
sarcastic smile played on his angular and well-marked features; his
shaggy white eyebrows convulsively contracted up to this moment--the
only outward symptom of anger which Thugut, even under the most
provoking circumstances, ever exhibited--relaxed and became calm and
serene again, as he approached the men with slow and measured steps.

“Well, tell me now what you have come for? What can I do for you?” asked
Thugut, in the full consciousness of his power.

“We want to implore your excellency to give us peace. The poor people--”

“Peace with whom?” calmly asked the minister.

“Peace with France, your excellency--peace with General Bonaparte,
who is said to be a magician, bewitching everybody, and capable of
conquering all countries by a glance, by a motion of his hands, whenever
he wishes to do so. If we do not make peace, he will conquer Austria
too, come to Vienna, and proclaim himself emperor; whereupon he will
dismiss our own wise and good ministers, and give us French masters. But
we would like to keep our emperor and our excellent ministers, who take
care of us so paternally. And that is the only reason why we have come
here--just to implore your excellency to have mercy with the poor people
and make peace, so that the emperor may return to Vienna, and bring his
state treasury back to the capital. Yes, men, that is all we wanted, is
it not? We just wanted to pray your excellency to give us peace!”

“Yes, your excellency,” shouted the men, “have mercy with us, and give
us peace!”

“Well, for angels of peace, you have penetrated rather rudely into
my house,” said the minister, sternly. “You got up a riot in order to
obtain peace.”

“It was merely our anxiety that made us so hasty and impetuous,” said
Mr. Wenzel, deprecatingly. “We ask your excellency’s pardon if we have
frightened you.”

“Frightened me!” echoed Thugut, in a tone of unmeasured contempt. “As if
you were the men to frighten ME! I knew that you would come, and I knew,
too, who had bribed you to do it. Yes, yes, I know they have paid you
well, Mr. Wenzel, to get up a riot--they have given you shining ducats
for leading a mob into my house. But will their ducats be able to get
you out of it again?”

Mr. Wenzel turned very pale; he uttered a shriek and staggered back a
few paces.

“Your excellency knew--” he said.

“Yes, I knew,” continued Thugut, sternly, “that men who have no regard
for the honor and dignity of their country--men who are stupid enough to
believe that it would be better to submit voluntarily to the dominion of
the French Republic, instead of resisting the demands of the regicides
manfully and unyieldingly--that these men have hired you to open your
big mouth, and howl about things which you do not understand, and which
do not concern you at all.”

At this moment, shrieks of terror and loud supplications, mingled with
violent and threatening voices, and words of military command were heard
outside.

The men turned anxiously around, and beheld with dismay that the
staircase, which only a few minutes ago was crowded with people, was now
entirely deserted.

Suddenly, however, two men appeared on the landing, who were little
calculated to allay the apprehensions of the rioters, for they wore
the uniform of that dreaded and inexorable police who, under Thugut’s
administration, had inaugurated a perfect reign of terror in Vienna.

The two officers approached the door of the anteroom, where they were
met by Germain, the footman, who conversed with them in a whisper.
Germain then hastened back to the door of the dining-room and walked in,
scarcely deigning to cast a contemptuous glance on the dismayed rioters.

“Well, what is it?” asked Thugut.

“Your excellency, the chief of police sends word that his men are posted
at all the doors of the palace, and will prevent anybody from getting
out. He has cleared the streets, besides, and dispersed the rioters. The
chief of police, who is in the hall below, where he is engaged in taking
down the names of the criminals who are yet in the house, asks for your
excellency’s further orders.”

“Ah, he does not suspect that his own chief, the minister of police is
present,” said Thugut, turning with a smile to Count Saurau, who, being
condemned to witness this scene in the capacity of an idle and passive
spectator, had withdrawn into a bay-window, where he had quietly
listened to the whole proceedings.

“My dear count, will you permit the chief of police to come here and
report to yourself?” asked Thugut.

“I pray you to give him this permission,” replied the count, approaching
his colleague.

Germain hastened back to the policemen in the anteroom.

“And what are we--?” asked Mr. Wenzel, timidly.

“You will wait!” thundered the minister. “Withdraw into yonder corner!
may be the chief of police will not see you there.”

They withdrew tremblingly into one of the corners of the ante-room,
and did not even dare to whisper to each other, but the glances they
exchanged betrayed the anguish of their hearts.

The two ministers, meanwhile, had likewise gone into the ante-room, and,
while waiting for the arrival of the chief of police, conversed in a
whisper.

In the course of a few minutes, the broad-shouldered and erect figure
of the chief of the Viennese police appeared in the official uniform so
well known to the people of the capital, who, for good reasons, were in
the utmost dread of the terrible functionary. When the rioters beheld
him, they turned even paler than before; now they thought that every
thing was lost, and gave way to the most gloomy forebodings.

Count Saurau beckoned the chief to enter; the latter had a paper in his
right hand.

“Your report,” said the count, rather harshly. “How was it possible
that this riot could occur? Was nobody there to disperse the seditious
scoundrels before they made the attack on his excellency’s palace?”

The chief of police was silent, and only glanced anxiously at Baron
Thugut. The latter smiled, and turned to the count:

“I beg you, my dear count, don’t be angry with our worthy chief of
police. I am satisfied he has done his whole duty.”

“The whole house is surrounded,” hastily added the chief. “Nobody can
get out, and I have taken down the names of all the criminals.”

“Except these here,” said Thugut, pointing at Mr. Wenzel and his
unfortunate companions, who vainly tried to hide themselves in their
corner. “But that is unnecessary, inasmuch as they have given us their
names already, and informed us of their wishes Then, sir, the
whole honorable meeting of the people is caught in my house as in a
mouse-trap?”

“Yes, we have got them all,” said the chief. “Now, I would like to
know of his excellency, the minister of police, what is to be done with
them.”

“I beg you, my dear count,” said Thugut, turning to Count Saurau,
“let me have my way in this matter, and treat these men in a spirit of
hospitality. I have opened them the doors of my palace and admitted
them into my presence, and it would be ungenerous not to let them depart
again. Do not read the list of the names which the chief holds in his
hand, but permit him to give it to me, and order him to withdraw his
men from my house, and let the prisoners retire without molestation, and
with all the honors of war.”

“Your will shall be done, of course, your excellency,” said the count,
bowing respectfully. “Deliver your list to the prime minister, and go
down-stairs to carry out the wishes of his excellency.”

The chief delivered the list of the captured rioters, and left the room,
after saluting the two dignitaries in the most respectful manner.

“And we--? may we go likewise, your excellency?” asked Mr. Wenzel,
timidly.

“Yes, you may go,” said Thugut. “But only on one condition. Mr. Wenzel,
you must first recite to me the song which the honorable people were
howling when you came here.”

“Ah, your excellency, I only know a single verse by heart!”

“Well, then, let us have that verse. Out with it! I tell you, you will
not leave this room until you have recited it. Never fear, however; for
whatever it may be, I pledge you my word that no harm shall befall you.”

“Very well,” said Mr. Wenzel, desperately. “I believe the verse reads as
follows:”

     “‘Triumph! triumph! es siegt die gute Sache!
     Die Turkenknechte flieh’n!
     Laut tont der Donner der gerechten Sache,
     Nach Wien und nach Berlin.’”

     [Footnote:
     “Triumph! triumph! the good cause conquers
     The despots’ minions flee!
     The thunders of the just cause Reach Vienna and Berlin!”
 This hymn was universally sung at that time (1797) in all the German
States, not merely by the popular classes, but likewise in the exclusive
circles of the aristocracy. It is found in a good many memoirs of that
period.]

“Indeed, it is a very fine song,” said Thugut, “and can you tell me who
has taught you this song?”

“No, your excellency, I could not do it. Nobody knows it besides. It was
printed on a small handbill, and circulated all over the city. A copy
was thrown into every house, and the working-men, when setting out early
one morning, found it in the streets.”

“And did you not assist in circulating this excellent song, my dear Mr.
Wenzel?”

“I? God and the Holy Virgin forbid!” exclaimed Mr. Wenzel, in dismay.
“I have merely sung it, like all the rest of us, and sung it to the tune
which I heard from the others.”

“Well, well, you did right, for the melody is really pleasing. Such
songs generally have the peculiarity that not a single word of them is
true; people call that poetry. Now, you may go, my poetical Mr. Wenzel,
and you others, whom the people sent with this pacific mission to me.
Tell your constituents that I will this time comply mercifully with
their wishes, and give them peace, that is, I will let them go, and not
send them to the calaboose, as they have abundantly deserved. But if you
try this game again, and get up another riot, and sing that fine song
once more, you may rest assured that you will be taken to jail and
taught there a most unpleasant lesson. Begone now!”

He turned his back on the trembling citizens, and took no notice of
the respectful bows with which they took leave of him, whereupon they
retired with soft but hasty steps, like mice escaping from the presence
of the dreaded lion.

“And now, my dear count, as we have finished our breakfast, let us
return to my cabinet, for I believe we have to settle some additional
matters.”



CHAPTER IV.

THE TWO MINISTERS.


Baron Thugut took the count’s arm and led him back to his cabinet.

“I read a question in your eyes,” he said, smiling; “may I know what it
is?”

“Why, yes, your excellency,” replied Count Saurau.

“Let me ask you, then, what all this means? Why did you excuse the chief
of police, who evidently had not done his duty and been guilty of a lack
of vigilance? And why did you let these rascals go, instead of having
them whipped to death?”

“You were away from Vienna, count? You were absent from the capital
because you accompanied their majesties on their trip to Presburg, and
have returned only an hour ago. Am I right?”

“Perfectly right, your excellency.”

“Then you could not be aware of what has happened meanwhile here in
Vienna, and the chief of police could not have informed you of the
particulars. Well, then, he came to me and told me that an insurrection
had been planned against the two emperors--(I believe you know that the
people does us the honor of calling us the two emperors of Vienna), and
that the faction hostile to us was going to make an attempt to overthrow
us. A great deal of money had been distributed among the populace.
Prince Carl von Schwarzenburg himself had dropped some indiscreet
remarks. In short, the faction which hates me because I do not deem
seditious Belgium a priceless jewel of the crown of Austria, and do
not advise the emperor to keep that remote province at any price--the
faction which detests both of us because we do not join its enthusiastic
hymns in honor of the French Republic and the republican General
Bonaparte--this faction has hired the miserable rabble to represent the
people, to break my windows, and frighten me sufficiently to make me
ready and willing to adopt its insane policy. The chief of police came
to see me yesterday. He gave me an account of the whole affair, and
declared himself fully prepared to protect my palace, and to nip the
riot in the bud. I begged him not to do any thing of the kind, but to
look on passively and attentively, and only come to my palace after the
mob had entered it. I was very anxious for once to find out something
definite about the strength, courage, and importance of the opposing
faction. It is always desirable to know one’s adversaries, and to learn
as accurately as possible what they are capable of. Besides, it was a
splendid opportunity for the police to discover the sneaking demagogues
and ringleaders of the mob, and to take down their names for the purpose
of punishing them by and by, as we Europeans unfortunately cannot
imitate the example of that blessed Queen of Egypt, who took a thousand
conspirators by the tails, and, holding them in her left hand, cut off
their thousand seditious heads with one stroke of the sword in her right
hand. Unfortunately, we have to act by far more cautiously.”

“But why did you dismiss all the rioters this time without giving them
into custody?” asked the count, moodily.

“Why, we have them all by the tails, anyhow,” laughed Thugut, “for have
not we got the list of the names here? Ah, my dear little count, perhaps
you thought I would have gone in my generosity so far as to tear this
list, throw the pieces away, and avert my head, like the pious bishop
who found a murderer under his bed, permitted him to escape, and averted
his head in order not to see the fugitive’s face and may be recognize
him on some future occasion? I like to know the faces of my enemies,
and to find out their names, and, depend upon it, I shall never, never
forget the names I read on this list.”

“But for the time being, these scoundrels, having escaped with impunity,
will go home in triumph, and repeat the same game as soon as another
occasion offers.”

“Ah, I see you do not know the people at all! Believe me, we could not
have frightened them worse than by letting them go. They are perfectly
conscious of their guilt. The very idea of not having received any
punishment at our hands fills them with misgivings, and they tremble
every moment in the expectation that they will have to suffer yet for
their crime. Remorse and fear are tormenting them, and THEY are the best
instruments to rule a people with. My God, what should be done with
a nation consisting of none but pure and virtuous men? It would be
perfectly unassailable, while its vices and foibles are the very things
by which we control it. Therefore, do not blame the people on account of
its vices. I love it for the sake of them, for it is through them that
I succeed in subjecting it to my will. The idea of acting upon men by
appealing to their virtues, is simply preposterous. You must rely on
their faults and crimes, and, owing to the latter, all these fellows
whom we dismissed to-day without punishment have become our property.
The discharged and unpunished criminal is a sbirro--the police has only
to hand him a dagger, and tell him, ‘Strike there!’ and he will strike.”

“Your excellency believes, then, that even the ringleaders should not be
punished?”

“By no means. Of course some of them should be chastised, in order
to increase the terror of the others. But for God’s sake, no public
trials--no public penalties! Wenzel should be secretly arrested and
disposed of. Let him disappear--he and the other ringleaders who
were bold enough to come up here. Let us immure them in some strong,
thick-walled prison, and while the other rioters are vainly tormenting
their heavy skulls by trying to guess what has become of their leaders,
we shall render the latter so pliable and tame by all kinds of tortures
and threats of capital punishment, that when we finally set them free
again, they will actually believe they are in our debt, and in their
gratitude become willing tools in our hands to be used as we may deem
best.”

“By the eternal, you are a great statesman, a sagacious ruler!”
 exclaimed Count Saurau, with the gushing enthusiasm of sincere
admiration. “Men grow wise by listening to you, and happy and powerful
by obeying you! I am entirely devoted to you--full of affection and
veneration--and do not want to be any thing but your attentive and
grateful pupil.”

“Be my friend,” said Thugut. “Let us pursue our career hand in hand--let
us always keep our common goal in view, and shrink back from no step in
order to reach it.”

“Tell me what I am to do. I shall follow you as readily as the blind man
follows his guide.”

“Well, if you desire it, my friend, we will consider a little how we
have to steer the ship of state during the next months in order to get
her safely through the breakers that are threatening her on all sides.
During the few days of your absence from the capital, various events
have occurred, materially altering the general state of affairs. When
you departed, I advised the emperor not to make peace with France
under any circumstances. We counted at that time on the regiments of
grenadiers whom we had sent to the seat of war, and who, under the
command of Archduke Charles, were to defend the defiles of Neumarkt
against the advancing columns of the French army. We knew, besides, that
the French troops were worn out, exhausted, and anxious for peace,
or that General Bonaparte would not have addressed that letter to the
Archduke Charles, in which he requested the latter to induce the Emperor
of Austria to conclude peace with France. In accordance with our advice,
the archduke had to give Bonaparte an evasive answer, informing him
that, in case of further negotiations, he would have to send to Vienna
for fresh instructions.”

“But, your excellency, you were firmly determined not to make peace with
France!”

“So I was, and even now I have not changed my mind; but we are
frequently compelled to disguise our real intentions, and events have
occurred, which, for the present, render peace desirable. You need not
be frightened, my dear count--I merely say, for the present. In my heart
I shall never make peace with France, and my purpose remains as fixed as
ever--to revenge Austria one day for the humiliations we have suffered
at her hands. Never forget that, my friend; and now listen to me. Late
dispatches have arrived. Massena, after a bloody struggle with our
troops, has taken Friesach, and advanced on the next day to attack the
fresh regiments of our grenadiers in the gorges of Neumarkt. Archduke
Charles had placed himself at the head of these regiments, firing the
courage of the soldiers by his own heroic example. But he was confronted
by the united French forces from Italy and Germany, and in the evening
of that disastrous day the archduke and his grenadiers were compelled
to evacuate Neumarkt, which was occupied by the victorious French. The
archduke now asked the French general for a cessation of hostilities
during twenty-four hours in order to gain time, for he was in hopes
that this respite would enable him to bring up the corps of General von
Kerpen, and then, with his united forces, drive the enemy back again.
But this little General Bonaparte seems to possess a great deal of
sagacity, for he rejected the request, and sent a detached column
against Von Kerpen’s corps, which separated the latter still farther
from our main army. Bonaparte himself advanced with his forces as far as
Fudenberg and Leoben. In order to save Vienna, there was but one course
left to the archduke: he had to make proposals of peace.”

“Did he really do so?” asked Count Saurau, breathlessly.

“He did. He sent two of our friends--Count Meerveldt, and the Marquis de
Gallo--to Bonaparte’s headquarters at Leoben, for the purpose of opening
negotiations with him.”

“Did your excellency authorize the archduke to do so?” asked the count.

“No, I did not, and I might disavow it now if it suited me, but it does
not--it would not promote our interests--and I know but one policy, the
policy of interest. We should always adopt those measures which afford
us a reasonable prospect of gain, and discard those which may involve us
in loss. Power alone is infallible, eternal, and divine, and power has
now decided in favor of France. Wherefore we must yield, and don the
garb of peace until we secure once more sufficient power to renew
hostilities. We must make peace! Our aim, however, should be to render
this peace as advantageous to Austria as possible--”

“You mean at the expense of France?”

“Bah!--at the expense of Germany, my dear little count. Germany is to
compensate us for the losses which peace may inflict. If we lose any
territory in Italy, why, we shall make it up in Germany, that is all.”

“But in that case, there will be another terrible hue and cry about
the infringement of the rights of the holy German empire,” said Count
Saurau, smiling; “Prussia will have a new opportunity of playing the
defender of the German fatherland.”

“My dear count, never mind the bombastic nonsense in which Prussia is
going to indulge--we shall take good care that nothing comes of it.
Prussia has no longer a Frederick the Great at her head, but the fat
Frederick William the Second--”

“But his life,” said the count, interrupting him, “I know for certain,
will last but a few days, at best for a few weeks; for his disease,
dropsy of the chest, you know, does not even respect kings.”

“And when Prussia has lost her present fat king, she will have another,
Frederick William--a young man twenty-seven years of age, volia tout!
He is just as old as General Bonaparte, and was born in the same year as
this general whose glory already fills the whole world; but of the young
heir of the Prussian throne the world has heard nothing as yet, except
that he has a most beautiful wife. He is not dangerous, therefore, and I
hope and believe that Austria never will lack the power to humiliate and
check this Prussian kingdom--this revolutionary element in the heart of
the German empire. The danger, however, that threatens us now, does not
come from Prussia, but from France, and especially from this General
Bonaparte, who, by his glory and his wonderful battles, excites the
wildest enthusiasm for the cause of the revolution, and delights the
stupid masses so much that they hail him as a new messiah of liberty.
Liberty, detestable word! that, like the fatal bite of the tarantula,
renders men furious, and causes them to rave about in frantic dances
until death strikes them down.”

“This word is the talismanic charm with which Bonaparte has conquered
all Italy, and transformed the Italians into insurgents and rebels
against their legitimate sovereigns,” said Count Saurau, mournfully.

“All Italy? Not yet, my friend. A portion of it still stands firm. The
lion of St. Mark has not yet fallen.”

“But he will fall. His feet are tottering already.”

“Well, then, we must try to make him fall in a manner which will entitle
us to a portion of the spoils. And now, my dear little count, we
have reached the point which claims our immediate attention. The
preliminaries of the peace have been concluded at Leoben, and until
peace itself is established, we should pursue such a policy that the
peace, instead of involving Austria in serious losses, will give her a
chance to increase her strength and enlarge her territory. We must keep
our eyes on Bavaria--for Bavaria will and must be ours as soon as a
favorable opportunity offers. If France should object and refuse to let
us seize our prey, why, we will be sure to revive the old quarrel about
Belgium, which will render her willing and tame enough.”

“But what shall we do if Prussia should support the objections of
France? Shall we satisfy her, too, by giving her a piece of Germany?”

“On the contrary, we shall try to take as much as possible from her; we
shall try to humiliate and isolate her, in order to deprive her of the
power of injuring us. We shall endeavor so to arrange the peace we are
going to conclude with France as to benefit Austria, and injure Prussia
as much as we can. In the north, we shall increase our territory by the
acquisition of Bavaria; in the south, by the annexation of Venice.”

“By the annexation of Venice!” ejaculated Count Saurau, greatly
astonished at what he had heard. “But did you not just tell me that
Venice still stood firm?”

“We must bring about her fall, my dear count; that is our great task
just now; for, I repeat, Venice is to compensate us on our southern
frontier for our losses elsewhere. Of course, we ought to receive some
substantial equivalent for ceding Belgium to France, and if it cannot be
Bavaria, then let it be Venice.”

“Nevertheless, I do not comprehend--”

“My dear count, if my schemes were so easily fathomed, they could not
be very profound. Everybody may guess the game I am playing now; but
the cards I have got in my hand must remain a secret until I have played
them out, or I would run the risk of losing every thing. But this time
I will let you peep into my cards, and you shall help me win the game.
Venice is the stake we are playing for, my dear count, and we want to
annex her to Austria. How is that to be brought about?”

“I confess, your excellency, that my limited understanding is unable
to answer that question, and that I cannot conceive how a sovereign and
independent state is to become an Austrian province in the absence of
any claims to its territory, except by an act of open violence.”

“Not exactly, my dear count. Suppose we set a mouse-trap for Venice, and
catch her, like a mouse, in it? Listen to me! We must encourage Venice
to determine upon open resistance against the victor of Lodi, and make
war upon France.”

“Ah, your excellency, I am afraid the timid signoria will not be bold
enough for that, after hearing of our late defeats, and of the new
victories of the French.”

“Precisely. It is of the highest importance, therefore, that the
signoria should hear nothing of it, but believe exactly the reverse,
viz., that our troops are victorious; and this task, my friend,
de-devolves upon you. Pray dispatch, at once, some reliable agents
to Venice, and to other parts of the Venetian territory. Inform the
signoria that the French have been defeated in the Tyrol and in
Styria, and was now in the most precarious position. Through some other
confidential messenger send word to Count Adam Neipperg, who, with some
of our regiments occupies the southern Tyrol in close proximity to
the Venetian frontier, that Venetia is ready to rise and needs his
assistance, and order him to advance as far as Verona. The Venetians
will look upon this advance as a confirmation of the news of our
victories. The wise little mice will only smell the bait, and, in their
joy, not see the trap we have set for them. They will rush into it, and
we shall catch them. For a rising in Venice will be called nowadays a
rebellion against France, and France will hasten to punish so terrible
a crime. The Venetian Republic will be destroyed by the French Republic,
and then we shall ask France to cede us Venice as a compensation for the
loss of Belgium.”

“By the Eternal! it is a splendid--a grand scheme!” exclaimed Count
Saurau--“a scheme worthy of being planned by some great statesman. In
this manner we shall conquer a new province without firing a gun, or
spilling a drop of blood.”

“No. Some blood will be shed,” said Thugut, quietly. “But it will not be
Austrian blood--it will be the blood of the Venetian insurgents whom we
instigate to rise in arms. This bloodshed will glue them firmly to us,
for no cement is more tenacious than blood. And now, my dear count,
as you know and approve of my plans, I pray you to carry them out as
rapidly as possible. Dispatch your agents without delay to Venice and to
the Tyrol. We have no time to lose, for the preliminaries of Leoben
only extend to the eighteenth of April, and until then Venice must have
become a ripe fruit, which, in the absence of hands to pluck it, will
spontaneously fall to the ground.”

“In the course of an hour, your excellency, I shall have executed your
orders, and my most skilful spies and agents will be on their road.”

“Whom are you going to send to the Venetian signoria?”

“The best confidential agent I have--Anthony Schulmeister.”

“Oh, I know him; he has often served me, and is very adroit, indeed. But
do not forget to pay him well in order to be sure of his fidelity, for
fortunately he has a failing which renders it easy for us to control
him. He is exceedingly covetous, and has a pretty wife who spends a
great deal of money. Pay him well, therefore, and he will do us good
service. And now, farewell, my dear count. I believe we understand each
other perfectly, and know what we have to do.”

“I have found out once more that the Austrian ship of state is in the
hands of a man who knows how to steer and guide her, as no other ruler
does,” said Count Saurau, who rose and took his hat.

“I have inherited this talent, perhaps, my dear count. My father, the
ship-builder, taught me all about the management of ships. Addio, caro
amico mio.”

They cordially shook hands, and Count Saurau, with a face radiant
with admiration and affection, withdrew from the cabinet of the prime
minister. A smile still played on his features when the footman in the
anteroom assisted him in putting on his cloak, whereupon he rapidly
descended the magnificent marble staircase which an hour ago had been
desecrated by the broad and clumsy feet of the populace. But when the
door of his carriage had closed behind him, and no prying eyes, no
listening ears were watching him any longer, his smile disappeared as if
by magic, and savage imprecations burst from his lips.

“Intolerable arrogance! Revolting insolence!” said he, angrily. “He
thinks he can play the despot, and treat all of us--even myself--worse
than slaves. He dares to call me ‘his little count!’ His little count!
Ah, I shall prove to this ship-builder’s son one day that little Count
Saurau is, after all, a greater man than our overbearing and conceited
prime minister. But patience, patience! My day will come. And on that
day I shall hurl little Thugut from his eminent position!”



CHAPTER V.

THE HOUSE IN THE GUMPENDORFER SUBURB.


Vienna was really terribly frightened by the near approach of the French
army, and the conviction of their dangerous position had excited
the people so fearfully that the Viennese, generally noted for their
peaceful and submissive disposition, had committed an open riot--for the
sole purpose, however, of compelling the all-powerful prime minister to
make peace with France. Archduke Charles had been defeated--the emperor
had fled to Hungary.

None of all these disastrous tidings had disturbed the inmates of
a small house on the outskirts of the Gumpendorfer suburb, in close
proximity to the Mariahilf line. This little house was a perfect image
of peace and tranquillity. It stood in the centre of a small garden
which showed the first tender blossoms of returning spring on its neatly
arranged beds. Dense shrubbery covered the white walls of the house with
evergreen verdure. Curtains as white and dazzling as fresh snow, and,
between them, flower-pots filled with luxuriant plants, might be seen
behind the glittering window-panes. Although there was nothing very
peculiar about the house, which had but two stories, yet nobody passed
by without looking up to the windows with a reverential and inquisitive
air, and he who only thought he could discover behind the panes the
fugitive shadow of a human being, made at once a deep and respectful
bow, and a proud and happy smile overspread his features.

And still, we repeat, there was nothing very peculiar about the house.
Its outside was plain and modest, and the inside was equally so. The
most profound silence prevailed in the small hall, the floor of which
had been sprinkled with fresh white sand. A large spotted cat--truly
beautiful animal--lay not far from the front door on a soft, white
cushion, and played gracefully and gently with the ball of white yarn
that had just fallen from the woman sitting at the window while she was
eagerly engaged in knitting. This woman, in her plain and unassuming
dress, seemed to be a servant of the house, but at all events a servant
in whom entire confidence was reposed, as was indicated by the large
bunch of keys, such as the lady of the house or a trusted housekeeper
will carry, which hung at her side. An expression of serene calmness
rendered her venerable features quite attractive, and a graceful smile
played on her thin and bloodless lips as she now dropped her knitting
upon her lap, and, with her body bent forward, commenced watching
the merry play of the cat on the cushion. Suddenly the silence was
interrupted by a loud and shrill scream, and a very strange-sounding
voice uttered a few incoherent words in English. At the same time a door
was opened hastily, and another woman appeared--just as old, just as
kind-looking, and with as mild and serene features as the one we have
just described. Her more refined appearance, however, her handsome
dress, her beautiful cap, her well-powdered toupet, and the massive gold
chain encircling her neck, indicated that she was no servant, but the
lady of the house.

However, peculiarly pleasant relations seemed to prevail between the
mistress and the servant, for the appearance of the lady did not cause
the latter to interrupt her merry play with the cat; and the mistress,
on her part, evidently did not consider it strange or disrespectful, but
quietly approached her servant.

“Catharine,” she said, “just listen how that abominable bird, Paperl,
screams again to-day. I am sure the noise will disturb the doctor, who
is at work already.”

“Yes, Paperl is an intolerable nuisance,” sighed Catharine. “I cannot
comprehend why the Kapellmeister--I was going to say the doctor--likes
the bird so well, and why he has brought it along from England. Yes, if
Paperl could sing, in that case it would not be strange if the Ka--,
I mean the doctor, had grown fond of the bird. But no, Paperl
merely jabbers a few broken words which no good Christian is able to
understand.”

“He who speaks English can understand it well enough, Catharine,” said
the lady, “for the bird talks English, and in that respect Paperl knows
more than either of us.”

“But Paperl cannot talk German, and I think that our language,
especially our dear Viennese dialect, sounds by far better than that
horrid English. I don’t know why the doctor likes the abominable noise,
and why he suffers the bird to disturb his quiet by these outrageous
screams.”

“I know it well enough, Catharine,” said the doctor’s wife, with a
gentle smile. “The parrot reminds my husband of his voyage to England,
and of all the glory and honor that were showered upon him there.”

“Well, as far as that is concerned, I should think it was entirely
unnecessary for my master to make a trip to England,” exclaimed
Catharine. “He has not returned a more famous man than he was already
when he went away. The English were unable to add to his glory, for
he was already the most celebrated man in the whole world when he went
there, and if that had not been the case, they would not have invited
him to come and perform his beautiful music before them, for then they
would not have known that he is such a splendid musician.”

“But they were delighted to see him, Catharine, and I tell you they
have perfectly overwhelmed him with honors. Every day they gave him
festivals, and even the king and queen urged him frequently to take
up his abode in England. The queen promised him splendid apartments in
Windsor Castle, and a large salary, and in return my husband was to do
nothing but to perform every day for an hour or so before her majesty,
or sing with her. Nevertheless, he had the courage to refuse the
brilliant offers of the king and queen, and do you know, Catharine, why
he rejected them?”

Catharine knew it well enough; she had frequently heard the story from
her mistress during the two years since the doctor had returned from
England, but she was aware that the lady liked to repeat it, and she
liked it very much, too, to hear people talk about her beloved master’s
fame and glory, having faithfully served him already for more than
twenty years. Hence she said, with a kind-hearted smile:

“No, indeed, I don’t know it, and I cannot comprehend why the doctor
said no to the king and queen of England.”

“He did so for my sake, Catharine!” said the lady, and an expression of
joyful pride shed a lustre of beauty and tenderness over her kind old
face. “Yes, I tell you, it was solely for my sake that my husband came
home again. ‘Remain with us!’ said the king to him. ‘You shall have
every thing the queen has offered you. You shall live at Windsor, and
sing once a day with the queen. Of you, my dear doctor, I shall not be
jealous, for you are an excellent and honest German gentleman.’ And when
the king had told him that, my husband bowed respectfully, and replied:
‘Your majesty, it is my highest pride to maintain this reputation. But
just because I am an honest German, I must tell you that I cannot stay
here--I cannot leave my country and my wife forever!’”

“‘Oh, as far as that is concerned,’ exclaimed the king, ‘we shall send
for your wife. She shall live with you at Windsor.’ But my husband
laughed and said: ‘She will never come, your majesty. She would not
cross the Danube in a skiff, much less make a trip beyond the sea. And,
therefore, there is nothing left to me but to return myself to my little
wife.’ And he did so, and left the king, and the queen, and all the
noble lords and ladies, and came back to Vienna, and to his little wife.
Say, Catharine, was not that well done of him?”

“Of course it was,” said Catharine; “the fact was, our good doctor loved
his wife better than the queen, and all the high born people who treated
him so well in England. And, besides, he knew that people hereabouts
treat him with as much deference as over there, and that if he only
desired it, he could hold daily intercourse with the emperor, the
princes, and the highest dignitaries in the country. But he does not
care for it. The fact is, our master is by far too modest; he is always
so quiet and unassuming, that nobody, unless they knew him, would
believe for a single moment that he is so far-famed a man; and then he
dresses so plainly, while he might deck himself with all the diamond
rings and breast-pins, the splendid watches and chains, which the
various sovereigns have given to him. But all these fine things he keeps
shut up in his desk, and constantly wears the old silver watch which he
has had already God knows how long!”

“Why, Catharine, that was the wedding-present I gave him,” said the good
wife, proudly; “and just for that reason my husband wears it all the
time, although he has watches by far more beautiful and valuable. At the
time I gave him that watch, both of us were very poor. He was a young
music-teacher, and I was a hairdresser’s daughter. He lived in a small
room in my father’s house, and as he often could not pay the rent, he
gave me every day a lesson on the piano. But in those lessons, I did not
only learn music--I learned to love him, too. He asked me to become his
wife, and on our wedding-day, I gave him the silver watch, and that is
just the reason why he wears it all the time, although he has by far
better ones. His wife’s present is more precious to him than what kings
and emperors have given to him.”

“But he might wear at least a nice gold chain to it,” said Catharine.
“Why, I am sure he has no less than a dozen of them. But he never wears
one of them, not even the other day when the Princess Esterhazy called
for him with her carriage to drive with him to the emperor. The doctor
wore on that occasion only a plain blue ribbon, on which his own name
was embroidered in silver.”

“Well, there is a story to that ribbon,” said the mistress,
thoughtfully. “My husband brought it likewise from Loudon, and he got it
there on one of his proudest days. I did not know the story myself, for
you are aware my husband is always so modest, and never talks about his
great triumphs in Loudon, and I would not have learned any thing about
the ribbon if he had not worn it the other day when he accompanied
the princess to the emperor. Ah, Catharine, it is a very beautiful and
touching story!”

Catharine did not know this story at all; hence she asked her mistress
with more than usual animation to tell her all about the ribbon.

The doctor’s wife assented readily. She sat down on a chair at
Catharine’s side, and looked with a pleasant smile at the cat who had
come up to her, and, purring comfortably, lay down on the hem of her
dress.

“Yes,” said she, “the story of that ribbon is quite touching, and I do
not know really, Catharine, but I will have to shed a few tears while
telling it. It was in Loudon, when my husband had just returned from
Oxford, where the university had conferred upon him the title of Doctor
of--”

“Yes, yes, I know,” grumbled Catharine, “that is the reason why we
now have to call him doctor, which does not sound near as imposing and
distinguished as our master’s former title of Kapellmeister.”

“But then it is a very high honor to obtain the title of doctor of music
in England, Catharine. The great composer Handel lived thirty years in
England without receiving it, and my husband had not been there but a
few months when they conferred the title upon him. Well, then, on the
day after his return from Oxford, he was invited to the house of a
gentleman of high rank and great wealth, who gave him a brilliant party.
A large number of ladies and gentlemen were present, and when my husband
appeared among them they rose and bowed as respectfully as though he
were a king. When the doctor had returned the compliment, he perceived
that every lady in the room wore in her hair a ribbon of blue silk, on
which his name had been embroidered in silver. His host wore the same
name in silver beads on his coat-facings, so that he looked precisely as
if he were my husband’s servant, and dressed in his livery. Oh, it was
a splendid festival which Mr. Shaw--that was the gentleman’s name--gave
him on that day. At length Mr. Shaw asked the doctor to give him a
souvenir, whereupon he presented him with a snuff-box he had purchased
in the course of the day for a few shillings; and when my husband
requested the lady of the house, whom he pronounces the most beautiful
woman on earth, to give him likewise a souvenir; Mrs. Shaw thereupon
took the ribbon from her head and handed it to him; and my husband
pressed it to his lips, and assured her he would always wear that ribbon
on the most solemn occasions. You see, Catharine, he keeps his promise
religiously, for he wore the ribbon the other day when he was called
to the imperial palace. But my story is not finished yet. Your master
called a few days after that party on Mr. Shaw, when the latter showed
him the snuff-box he had received from my husband. It was enclosed in a
handsome silver case, a beautiful lyre was engraved on the lid, with an
inscription stating that my great and illustrious husband had given him
the box. [Footnote: The inscription was: “Ex dono celeberrimi Josephi
Haydn.”] How do you like my story, Catharine?”

“Oh, it is beautiful,” said the old servant, thoughtfully; “only, what
you said about that beautiful Mrs. Shaw did not exactly please me. I am
sure the doctor got the parrot also from her, and for that reason likes
the bird so well, although it screeches so horribly, and doubtless
disturbs him often in his studies.”

“Yes, he got the bird from Mrs. Shaw,” replied her mistress, with a
smile. “She taught Paperl to whistle three airs from my husband’s finest
quartets, singing and whistling the music to the bird every day during
three or four weeks for several hours, until Paperl could imitate them;
and when my husband took leave of her, she gave him the parrot.”

“But the bird never whistles the tunes any more. I have only heard
Paperl do it once, and that was on the day after the doctor’s return
from England.” “I know the reason why. The bird hears here every day
so much music, and so many new melodies which the doctor plays on his
piano, that its head has grown quite confused, and poor Paperl has
forgotten its tunes.”

“It has not forgotten its English words, though,” murmured Catharine.
“What may be the meaning of these words which the bird is screaming all
the time?”

“That beautiful Mrs. Shaw taught Paperl to pronounce them, Catharine. I
do not know their precise meaning, but they commence as follows: ‘Forget
me not, forget me not--’ Good Heaven! the bird has commenced screaming
again. I am sure it has not had any sugar to-day. Where is Conrad? He
ought to attend to the bird.”

“He has gone down town. The doctor has given him several errands.”

“Good Heaven! the screams are almost intolerable. Go, Catharine, and
give poor Paperl a piece of sugar.”

“I dare not, madame; it always snaps at me with its abominable beak, and
if the chain did not prevent it from attacking me, it would scratch out
my eyes.”

“I am afraid of it, too,” said the lady, anxiously; “nevertheless we
cannot permit the bird to go on in this manner. Just listen to it--it
is yelling as though it were going to be roasted. It will disturb
my husband, and you know the doctor is composing a new piece. Come,
Catharine, we must quiet the bird. I will give him the sugar.”

“And I shall take my knitting-needles along, and if it should try to
bite, I will hit it on the beak. Let us go now, madame.”

And the two women walked boldly across the anteroom, toward the door of
the small parlor, in order to commence the campaign against the parrot.
The cat followed them gravely and solemnly, and with an air as though
it had taken the liveliest interest in the conversation, and thought it
might greatly assist them in pacifying the screaming bird.



CHAPTER VI

JOSEPH HAYDN


While the parrot’s screams had rendered the mistress and her maid so
uneasy, the most profound stillness and quiet reigned in the upper rooms
of the little house. Not a sound interrupted the silence of this small,
elegantly-furnished sitting-room. Even the sun apparently dared only to
send a few stealthy beams through the windows, and the wind seemed to
hold its breath in order not to shake the panes of the small chamber
adjoining, venerated by all the inmates of the house as a sacred temple
of art.

In this small chamber, in this temple of art, a gentleman, apparently
engaged in reading, was seated at a table covered with papers and
music-books, close to an open piano. He was no longer young; on the
contrary, beholding only the thin white hair hanging down on his
expansive and wrinkled forehead, and his stooping form, it became
evident that he was an old man, nearly seventy years of age. But as soon
as he raised his eyes from the paper, as soon as he turned them toward
heaven with an air of blissful enthusiasm, the fire of eternal youth and
radiant joyousness burst forth from those eyes; and whatever the white
hair, the wrinkled forehead, the furrowed cheeks and the stooping
form might tell of the long years of his life, those eyes were full of
youthful ardor and strength--only the body of this white haired man was
old; in his soul he had remained young--a youth of fervid imagination,
procreative power, and nervous activity.

This venerable man with the soul, the heart, and the eyes of a youth,
was Joseph Haydn, the great composer, whose glory, even at that time,
filled the whole world, although he had not yet written his greatest
masterpieces--the “Creation” and the “Seasons.”

He was working to-day at the “Creation.” [Footnote: Haydn commenced the
“Creation” in 1797, and finished it in April, 1798.] The poem, which had
been sent to him from England, and which his worthy friend Von Swieten
had translated into German, lay before him. He had read it again and
again, and gradually it seemed as if the words were transformed into
music; gradually he heard whispering--low at first, then louder, and
more sublime and majestic--the jubilant choirs of heaven and earth, that
were to resound in his “Creation.”

As yet he had not written a single note; he had only read the poem, and
composed in reading, and inwardly weighed and tried the sublime melodies
which, when reduced to time and measure, and combined into an harmonious
whole, were to form the new immortal work of his genius. While thus
reading and composing, the aged musician was transformed more and more
into a youth, and the glowing enthusiasm which burst forth from his eyes
became every moment more radiant, surrounding his massive forehead with
a halo of inspiration, and shedding the purple lustre of ecstatic joy
upon his furrowed cheeks.

“Yes, yes, it will do. I shall succeed!” he exclaimed suddenly, in a
loud and full voice. “God will give me the strength to complete this
work; but it must be commenced with Him--strength and inspiration come
from Him alone!”

And Joseph Haydn, perhaps not quite conscious of what he was doing,
knelt down and with folded hands, and beaming eyes lifted up to heaven,
he prayed: “O, Lord God, give me Thy blessing and Thy strength, that I
may gloriously and successfully carry out this work, which praiseth
Thee and Thy creation. Breathe Thy Holy Spirit into the words which Thou
speakest in my work. Speak through me to Thy creatures, and let my music
be Thy language!”

He paused, but remaining on his knees, continued to look up to heaven.
Then he rose slowly, and like a seer or a somnambulist, with eyes opened
but seeing nothing, he went to his piano without knowing what he was
doing. He sat down on the stool, and did not know it; his hands touched
the keys and drew magnificent chords from them, and he did not hear
them. He only heard the thousands of seraphic voices which in his breast
chanted sublime anthems; he only heard the praise of his own winged
soul which, in divine ecstasy, soared far into the realm of eternal
harmonies.

Louder and louder rolled the music he drew from the keys; now it burst
forth into a tremendous jubilee, then again it died away in melancholy
complaints and gentle whispers, and again it broke out into a swelling,
thundering anthem.

At length Haydn concluded with a sonorous and brilliant passage, and
then with youthful agility jumped up from his seat.

“That was the prelude,” he said, aloud, “and now we will go to work.”

He hastily threw the white and comfortable dressing-gown from his
shoulders and rapidly walked toward the looking-glass which hung over
the bureau. Every thing was ready for his toilet, the footman having
carefully arranged the whole. He put the cravat with lace trimmings
around his neck and arranged the tie before the looking-glass in
the most artistic manner; then he slipped into the long waistcoat of
silver-lined velvet, and finally put on the long-tailed brown coat with
bright metal buttons. He was just going to put the heavy silver watch,
which his wife had given him on their wedding-day, into his vest-pocket,
when his eye fell upon the blue ribbon embroidered with silver, which,
ever since his visit to the imperial palace, had lain on the bureau.

“I will wear it on this holiday of mine,” said Haydn, with great warmth,
“for I think the day on which a new work is begun is a holiday, and we
ought to wear our choicest ornaments to celebrate it.”

He attached the ribbon to his watch, threw it over his neck, and slipped
the watch into his vest-pocket.

“If that beautiful Mrs. Shaw could see me now,” he whispered, almost
inaudibly, “how her magnificent eyes would sparkle, and what a heavenly
smile would animate her angelic features! Yes, yes, I will remember her
smile--it shall find an echo in the jubilant accords of my Creation. But
let us begin--let us begin!”

He rapidly walked toward his desk, but stopped suddenly. “Hold on!” said
he; “I really forgot the most important thing--my ring. While looking at
the precious ribbon of my beautiful English friend, I did not think of
the ring of my great king--and still it is the talisman without which I
cannot work at all.”

Returning once, more to the bureau, he opened a small case and took
from it a ring which he put on his finger. He contemplated the large and
brilliant diamonds of the ring with undisguised admiration.

“Yes,” he exclaimed--“yes, thou art my talisman, and when I look at
thee, it seems to me as if I saw the eyes of the great king beaming down
upon me, and pouring courage and enthusiasm into my heart. That is the
reason, too, why I cannot work unless I have the ring on my finger.
[Footnote: Haydn had dedicated six quartets to Frederick the Great,
who acknowledged the compliment by sending him a valuable diamond ring.
Haydn wore this ring whenever he composed a new work, and it seemed to
him as though inspiration failed him unless he wore the ring. He
stated this on many occasions.] But now I am ready and adorned like a
bridegroom who is going to his young bride. Yes, yes, it is just so with
me. I am going to my bride--to St. Cecilia!”

When he now returned to his desk, his features assumed a grave and
solemn expression. He sat down once more at the piano and played
an anthem, then he resumed his seat at the desk, took a sheet of
music-paper and commenced writing. He wielded his pen with the utmost
rapidity, and covered page after page with the queer little dots and
dashes which we call notes.

And Haydn’s eyes flashed and his cheeks glowed, and a heavenly smile
played on his lips while he was writing. But all of a sudden his pen
stopped, and a slight cloud settled on his brow. Some passage, may be
a modulation, had displeased him, in what he had just composed, for he
glanced over the last few lines and shook his head. He looked down sadly
and dropped the pen.

“Help me, O Lord God--help me!” he exclaimed, and hastily seized the
rosary which always lay on his desk, “Help me!” he muttered once more,
and, while hurriedly pacing the room, he slipped the beads of the rosary
through his fingers and whispered an Ave Maria.

His prayer seemed to have the desired effect, for the cloud disappeared
from his forehead, and his eyes beamed again with the fervor of
inspiration. He resumed his seat and wrote on with renewed energy. A
holy peace now settled on his serene features, and reigned around him in
the silent little cabinet.

But all at once this peaceful stillness was interrupted by a loud noise
resounding from below. Vociferous lamentations were heard, and heavy
footsteps ascended the staircase.

Haydn, however, did not hear any thing--his genius was soaring far away
in the realm of inspiration, and divine harmonies still enchanted his
ears.

But now the door of the small parlor was opened violently, and his wife,
with a face deadly pale and depicting the liveliest anxiety, rushed into
the room. Catharine and Conrad, the aged footman, appeared behind her,
while the cat slipped in with her mistress, and the parrot ejaculated
the most frantic and piercing screams.

Haydn started in dismay from his seat and stared at his wife without
being able to utter a single word. It was something unheard of for him
to be disturbed by his wife during his working hours, hence he very
naturally concluded that something unusual, something really terrible
must have occurred, and the frightened looks of his wife, the pale faces
of his servants, plainly told him that he was not mistaken.

“Oh, husband--poor, dear husband!” wailed his wife, “pack up your
papers, the time for working and composing is past. Conrad has brought
the most dreadful tidings from the city. We are all lost!--Vienna is
lost! Oh, dear, dear! it is awful, and I tell you I am almost frightened
out of my senses!”

And the old lady, trembling like an aspen-leaf, threw herself into an
arm-chair.

“What in Heaven’s name is the matter?” asked Haydn--“what is it that has
frightened you thus? Conrad, tell me what is the news?”

“Oh, my dear master,” wailed Conrad, approaching the doctor with folded
hands and shaking knees, “it is all up with us! Austria is lost--Vienna
is lost--and consequently we are lost, too! Late dispatches have arrived
from the army. Ah! what do I say?--army? We have no longer an army--our
forces are entirely dispersed--Archduke Charles has lost another
battle--old Wurmser has been driven back--and General Bonaparte is
advancing upon Vienna.”

“These are sad tidings, indeed,” said Haydn, shrugging his shoulders,
“still they are no reason why we should despair. If the archduke has
lost a battle--why, all generals have lost battles--”

“Bonaparte never lost one,” replied Conrad, with a profound sigh, “he
wins every battle, and devours all countries he wants to conquer.”

“We must pack up our things, Joseph,” said Mrs. Haydn--“we must bury
our money, our plate, and especially your jewels and trinkets, so that
those French robbers and cannibals will not find them. Come, husband,
let us go to work quickly, before they come and take every thing from
us.”

“Hush, wife, hush!” said Haydn, mildly, and a gentle smile overspread
his features. “Never fear about our few trifles, and do not think that
the French just want to come to Vienna for what few gold snuff-boxes and
rings I have got. If they were anxious for gold and jewels, coming as
they do as enemies, they might simply open the imperial treasury and
take there all they want.”

“Yes, but they would not find any thing,” said Conrad. “The treasury
is empty, doctor, entirely empty. Every thing is gone; there is not a
single crown, not a single precious stone left in the treasury.”

“Well, and where is the whole treasure then, you fool?” asked Haydn,
with a smile.

“They have taken it to Presburg, master. I saw the wagons
myself--soldiers rode in front of them, soldiers behind them. All
streets, all places were crowded with people, and a riot broke out,
and oh! such lamentations, such wails!--and finally the people became
desperate, and roared and yelled that the government should make peace,
and prevent the French from corning to Vienna and bombarding the city;
and in their desperation they grew quite bold and brave, and thousands
of them marched to the house of Minister Thugut, whom they call the real
emperor of Vienna, and tried to compel him to make peace.”

“Sad, sad tidings, indeed!” sighed Haydn, shaking his head. “Worse than
I thought. The people riotous and rebellious--the army defeated--and
the enemy marching upon Vienna. But don’t despair--courage, courage,
children; let us put our trust in God and our excellent emperor. Those
two will never forsake us--they will guard and protect Vienna, and never
suffer a single stone to be taken from its walls.”

“Ah, husband, don’t count any longer upon the emperor,” said his wife.
“For that is the worst part of the news, and shows that every thing is
lost: the emperor has left Vienna.”

“What!” exclaimed Haydn, and his face grew flushed with anger. “What,
they dare to slander the emperor so infamously as that! They dare to
assert that the emperor has forsaken his Viennese when they are in
danger? No, no, the emperor is an honest man and a faithful prince; he
will share good and evil days alike with his people. A good shepherd
does not leave his flock, a good prince does not leave his people.”

“But the emperor has forsaken us,” said Conrad; “it is but too true,
master. All Vienna knows it, and all Vienna mourns over it. The emperor
is gone, and so are the empress and the imperial children. All are gone
and off for Presburg.”

“Gone! the emperor gone!” muttered Haydn, mournfully, and a deadly
paleness suddenly covered his cheeks. “Oh, poor Austria! poor people!
Thy emperor has forsaken thee--he has fled from thee!”

He sadly inclined his head, and profound sighs escaped from his breast.

“Do you see now, husband, that I was right?” asked his wife. “Is it not
true that it is high time for us to think of our property, and to pack
up and bury our valuables?”

“No!” exclaimed Haydn, raising his head again; “this is no time to think
of ourselves, and of taking care of our miserable property. The emperor
has left--that means, the emperor is in danger; and therefore, as his
faithful subjects, we should pray for him, and all our thoughts and
wishes should only be devoted to his welfare. In the hour of danger we
should not be faint-hearted, and bow our heads, but lift them up to
God, and hope and trust in Him! Why do the people of Vienna lament and
despair? They should sing and pray, so that the Lord God above may hear
their voices--they should sing and pray, and I will teach them how!”

And with proud steps Haydn went to the piano, and his hands began to
play gently, at first, a simple and choral-like air; but soon the
melody grew stronger and more impressive. Haydn’s face became radiant;
instinctively opening his lips, he sang in an enthusiastic and ringing
voice words which he had never known before--words which, with the
melody, had spontaneously gushed from his soul. What his lips sang was
a prayer, and, at the same time, a hymn of victory--full of innocent and
child-like piety:

     “Gott erhalte Franz den Kaiser,
     Unsern guten Kaiser Franz,
     Lange lebe Franz den Kaiser
     In des Gluckes hellem Glanz!
     Ihm erbluhen Lorbeerreiser,
     Wo er geht, zum Ehrenkranz!
     Gott erhalte Franz den Kaiser,
     Unsern guten Kaiser Franz!”
 [Footnote: The celebrated Austrian hymn, “God save the Emperor
Francis.”]

Profound silence prevailed while Haydn was singing, and when he
concluded with a firm and ringing accord and turned around, he saw that
his wife, overcome with emotion, with folded hands and eyes lifted up
to heaven, had sunk down on her knees, and that old Catharine and Conrad
were kneeling behind her, while the cat stood between them listening to
the music as it were, and even the parrot below seemed to listen to the
new hymn, for its screams had ceased.

A smile of delight played on Haydn’s lips and rendered his face again
young and beautiful. “Now, sing with me, all three of you,” he said.
“Sing loudly and firmly, that God may hear us. I will commence again at
the beginning, and you shall accompany me.”

He touched the keys vigorously, and sang once more, “God save the
Emperor Francis!” and carried away by the melody so simple and yet so
beautiful, the two women and the old footman sang with him the tender
and artless words.

“And now,” said Haydn, eagerly, “now, I will write down the melody on
the spot, and then you shall run with it to Councillor von Swieten. He
must add a few verses to it. And then we will have it copied as often as
possible--we will circulate it in the streets, and sing it in all public
places, and if the French really should come to Vienna, the whole
people shall receive them with the jubilant hymn, ‘God save the Emperor
Francis!’ And God will hear our song, and He will be touched by our
love, and He will lead him back to us, our good Emperor Francis.”

He sat down at his desk, and in youthful haste wrote down the music.
“So,” he said then, “take it, Conrad, take it to Herr von Swieten;
tell him it is my imperial hymn. Oh, I believe it will be useful to the
emperor, and therefore I swear that I will play it every day as long
as I live. My first prayer always shall be for the emperor.” [Footnote:
Haydn kept his word, and from that time played the hymn every day. It
was even the last piece of music he performed before his death. On the
26th of May, 1809, he played the hymn three times in succession. From
the piano he had to be carried to his bed, which he never left again.
When Iffland paid him a visit in 1807, Haydn played the hymn for him. He
then remained a few moments before the instrument--placed his hands on
it, and said, in the tone of a venerable patriarch: “I play this hymn
every morning, and in times of adversity have often derived consolation
and courage from it. I cannot help it--I must play it at least once
a day. I feel greatly at ease whenever I do so, and even a good while
afterward.”--“Iffland’s Theatrical Almanac for 1855,” p. 181.]

“And now run, Conrad, and ask Herr von Swieten to finish the poem
quickly, and you, women, leave me. I feel the ideas burning in my head,
and the melodies gushing from my heart. The hymn has inspired me with
genuine enthusiasm; and now, with God and my emperor, I will commence my
Creation! But you, you must not despair--and whenever you feel dejected,
sing my imperial hymn, and pour consolation and courage into your
hearts--into the hearts of all Austrians who will sing it. For not only
for you, but for Austria, I have sung my hymn, and it shall belong to
the whole Austrian people!”



CHAPTER VII

GENERAL BONAPARTE


At length peace was to be concluded. For several weeks had the three
Austrian plenipotentiaries been at Udine; the Austrian court having sent
with Count Meerveldt and Count Louis Cobenzl the Marquis de Gallo, who,
although Neapolitan ambassador at Vienna, and therefore, not in the
imperial service, acted as their adviser.

General Bonaparte was at Passeriano: he alone had been authorized by the
great French Republic to conclude peace with Austria, or to renew the
war, just as he saw fit.

The eyes of France and Germany, nay of all Europe, were riveted upon
this small point on the border of Germany and Italy, for there the
immediate future of Europe was to be decided; there the dice were to
fall which were to bring peace or war to the world.

Austria wanted peace; it was a necessity for her, because she did not
feel strong enough for war, and was afraid of the dangers and losses
of continued defeats. But she did not want peace, coute qui coute;
she wanted to derive substantial advantages from it--she intended
to aggrandize herself at the expense of Italy, at the expense of
Prussia--and, if need be, at the expense of Germany.

But what did France want, or rather, what did General Bonaparte want?
None but himself knew. None could read his thoughts in his marble
countenance. None could decipher his future actions from his laconic
utterances. None could tell what Bonaparte intended to do and what aim
his ambition had in view.

The negotiations with Austria had been going on for months. For several
weeks the Austrian plenipotentiaries and General Bonaparte had had daily
interviews of many hours’ duration, which alternately took place at
Udine and at Passeriano, but the work of pacification would not come to
a satisfactory conclusion. Austria demanded too much, and France would
not yield enough. These conferences had frequently assumed a very
stormy character, and often, during the debates, Bonaparte’s voice had
resounded in thundering tones, and flashes of anger had burst forth
from his eyes. But the Austrian plenipotentiaries had not been struck
by them. The flashes from the great chieftain’s eyes had recoiled
powerlessly from their imperturbable smile. When his voice thundered at
them, they had lowered their heads only to raise them slowly again as
soon as the general was silent.

To-day, on the thirteenth of October, another interview was to take
place, at the hotel of Count Cobenzl, and perhaps that was the reason
why General Bonaparte had risen at an unusually early hour in the
morning. He had just finished his toilet; the four valets who had
assisted him had just concluded their task. As usual, Bonaparte had
suffered them to dress and wash him like a child. [Footnote: “Memoires
de Constant, premier valet de chambre de l’Empereur Napoleon,” vol. i.,
p. 180.] With a silent gesture he now ordered the servants to withdraw,
and called out, “Bourrienne!”

The door was opened at once, and a tall young man, in the citizen’s
dress of that period, stepped in. Bonaparte, greeting his youthful
secretary with a slight nod of his head, pointed with his hand at the
desk.

Bourrienne walked noiselessly to the desk, sat down, took a pen and some
blank paper, and waited for what the general would have to dictate.

But Bonaparte was silent. With his hands folded on his back, he
commenced rapidly walking up and down. Bourrienne, holding the pen
in his hand and momentarily ready to write, enjoyed this pause, this
absorbed pondering of the general, with genuine delight; for it afforded
him leisure to contemplate Bonaparte, to study his whole appearance, and
to engrave every feature, every gesture of the conqueror of Italy upon
his mind.

Bourrienne was an old friend of Bonaparte; they had been together at
the military academy; they had met afterward at Paris--and poor young
Lieutenant Bonaparte had often been glad enough to accept a dinner at
the hands of his wealthier friend.

Only a few years had elapsed since that time, and now Lieutenant
Bonaparte had become already an illustrious general; while Bourrienne,
whom the Terrorists had proscribed, thankfully accepted the protection
of his old comrade, and now filled the position of private secretary
under him.

He had been with him in this capacity only two days--for two days he
had seen Bonaparte every hour, and yet he contemplated with ever
new surprise this wonderful countenance, in which he vainly tried
to recognize the features of the friend of his youth. True, the same
outlines and contours were still there, but the whole face was an
entirely different one. No traces of the carelessness, of the harmless
hilarity of former days, were left in these features. His complexion
was pale almost to sickliness; his figure, which did not rise above the
middle height, was slender and bony. Upon looking at him, you seemed at
first to behold a young man entirely devoid of strength, and hopelessly
doomed to an early death. But the longer you examined him, the more his
features seemed to breathe vitality and spirit, and the firmer grew
the conviction that this was an exceptional being--a rare and strange
phenomenon. Once accustomed to his apparent pale and sickly homeliness,
the beholder soon saw it transformed into a fascinating beauty such
as we admire on the antique Roman cameos and old imperial coins. His
classical and regular profile seemed to be modelled after these antique
coins; his forehead, framed in on both sides with fine chestnut hair,
was high and statuesque. His eyes were blue, but brimful of the most
wonderful expression and sparkling with fire, a faithful mirror of his
fiery soul, now exceedingly mild and gentle, and then again stern and
even harsh. His mouth was classically beautiful--the finely-shaped
lips, narrow and slightly compressed, especially when in anger; when he
laughed, he displayed two rows of teeth, not faultlessly fine, but of
pearly white. Every lineament, every single feature of his face was as
regular as if modelled by a sculptor; nevertheless there was something
ugly and repulsive in the whole, and in order to be able to admire it,
it was necessary first to get accustomed to this most extraordinary
being. Only the feet and the small white hands were so surpassingly
beautiful that they enlisted at once the liveliest admiration, and this
was perhaps the reason why General Bonaparte, who otherwise observed the
greatest simplicity in his toilet, had adorned his hands with several
splendid diamond rings. [Footnote: Memoires de Constant, vol. i, p. 52]

Bourrienne was still absorbed in contemplating the friend of his youth,
when the latter suddenly stood still before him and looked at him with a
pleasant smile.

“Why do you stare at me in this manner, Bourrienne?” he asked in his
abrupt and hasty tone.

“General. I only contemplate the laurels which your glorious victories
have woven around your brow, since I saw you the last time,” said
Bourrienne.

“Ah, and you find me a little changed since you saw me the last time,”
 replied Bonaparte, quickly. “It is true, the years of our separation
have produced a great many changes, and I was glad that you had the
good taste to perceive this, and upon meeting me under the present
circumstances, to observe a becoming and delicate reserve. I am under
obligations to you for it, and from to-day you shall be chief of my
cabinet, my first private secretary.” [Footnote: Memoires de Monsieur de
Bourrienne, vol. 1., p. 33.]

Bourrienne rose to thank the young general by bowing respectfully, but
Bonaparte took no further notice of him, and walked again rapidly up and
down. The smile had already vanished from his face, which had resumed
its immovable and impenetrable expression.

Bourrienne quietly sat down again and waited; but now he dared no longer
look at Bonaparte, the general having noticed it before.

After a lengthy pause, Bonaparte stood still close to the desk. “Have
you read the dispatches which the Directory sent me yesterday through
their spy, M. Botot?” asked the general, abruptly.

“I have, general!”

“They are unreasonable fools,” exclaimed Bonaparte, angrily, “they want
to direct our war from their comfortable sofas in the Luxembourg, and
believe their ink-stained hands could hold the general’s baton as well
as the pen. They want to dictate to us a new war from Paris, without
knowing whether we are able to bear it or not. They ask us to conclude
peace with Austria without ceding Venice to her as compensation for
Belgium. Yes, Talleyrand is senseless enough to ask me to revolutionize
the whole of Italy once more, so that the Italians may expel their
princes, and that liberty may prevail throughout the entire peninsula.
In order to give them liberty, they want me to carry first war and
revolution into their midst. These big-mouthed and ignorant Parisians
do not know that Italy will not belong to us in reality until after the
restoration of peace, and that the Directory, even at the first dawn of
peace, will rule her from the mountains of Switzerland to the capes of
Calabria. Then, and only then, the Directory will be able to alter the
various governments of Italy, and for this very reason we have to attach
Austria to our cause by a treaty of peace. As soon as she has signed
it, she will no longer molest us: first, because she is our ally; and
principally because she will apprehend that we might take back from her
what we generously gave, in order to win her over to our side. The
war party at Vienna, however, will not submit without hoping for some
counter-revolution--a dream which the emigres and the diplomacy
of Pillnitz still cherishes with the utmost tenacity. [Footnote:
Bonaparte’s own words. See “Memoires d’un Homme d’Etat,” vol. iv., p.
578.] And these unreasonable gentlemen of the Directory want war and
revolution, and they dare to accuse me of selfish motives. Ah, I am
yearning for repose, for retirement--I feel exhausted and disgusted,
and shall for the third time send in my resignation, which the Directory
twice refused to accept.”

He had said all this in a subdued and rapid voice, apparently only
talking to himself--the only man worthy of learning the most secret
thoughts of his soul--and still with proud disdain toward him who could
overhear every word he said. He felt as though he were alone, and he
only spoke and consulted with himself, notwithstanding the secretary’s
presence.

Another long pause ensued. Bonaparte pacing the room once more with
rapid steps. Violent and impassioned feelings seemed to agitate his
breast; for his eyes became more lustrous, his cheeks were suffused with
an almost imperceptible blush, and he breathed heavily; as if oppressed
by the closeness of the room, and in want of fresh air, for he stepped
up to the window and opened it violently.

An expression of amazement escaped from his lips, for the landscape,
which yesterday was clad in the gorgeous hues of autumn, now offered an
entirely different aspect. Hoar-frost, dense and glittering, covered the
trees and the verdure of the meadows; and the Noric Alps, which crowned
the horizon with a majestic wreath, had adorned themselves during the
night with sparkling robes of snow and brilliant diadems of ice.

Bonaparte looked at the unexpected spectacle long and thoughtfully.
“What a country!” He then whispered, “Snow and ice in the first part
of October! Very well! we must make peace!” [Footnote: Bonaparte’s own
words. Bourrienne, vol. 1., p. 313.]

He closed the window and returned to the desk.

“Give me the army register,” he said to Bourrienne, and took a seat at
his side.

Bourrienne laid the books and papers in succession before him, and
Bonaparte read and examined them with close attention.

“Yes,” he then said, after a long pause, “it is true, I have an army
of nearly eighty thousand men; I have to feed and pay them, but, on
the battle-field, I could not count on more than sixty thousand men.
I should win the battle, but lose again twenty thousand men in killed,
wounded, and prisoners. How, then, should I be able to resist the united
Austrian forces, which would hasten to the assistance of Vienna? It
would take the armies on the Rhine more than a month to come up in
supporting distance, and in the course of two weeks the snow will have
blocked up all roads and mountain-passes. I am determined, therefore, to
make peace. Venice must pay for the war, and the frontier of the
Rhine. The Directory and the learned lawyers may say what they
please.[Footnote: Bonaparte’s own words.--“Memoires d’un Homme d’Etat,”
 vol. iv., p. 558.] Write, Bourrienne, I will now dictate my reply.”

Bourrienne took his pen; Bonaparte arose from his seat, and folding his
arms on his breast, he resumed his promenade across the room, dictating
slowly and clearly, so that every word dropped from his lips like a
pearl, until gradually the course of his speech grew more rapid and
rolled along in an unbroken, fiery, and brilliant torrent.

“We shall sign the treaty of peace to-day,” he dictated, in his
imperious tone, “or break off the negotiations altogether. Peace will
be advantageous to us--war with Austria will injure us; but war with
England opens an extensive, highly important and brilliant field of
action to our arms.”

And now he explained to the Directory the advantages of a treaty of
peace with Austria, and of a war with England, with logical acuteness
and precision. His words were no less pointed and sharp than the edge of
his sword, and as brief, stern, and cold as the utterances of a Cato.

He then paused for a moment, not in order to collect his thoughts,
but only to give his secretary a few seconds’ rest, and to get a
breathing-spell for himself.

“Let us go on now,” he said, after a short interval, and dictated in an
enthusiastic voice, and with flaming eyes: “If I have been mistaken in
my calculations, my heart is pure, and my intentions are well meaning. I
have not listened to the promptings of glory, of vanity and ambition;
I have only regarded the welfare of the country and government. If they
should not approve of my actions and views, nothing is left to me but
to step back into the crowd, put on the wooden shoes of Cincinnatus,
and give an example of respect for the government, and of aversion to
military rule, which has destroyed so many republics, and annihilated
so many states.” [Footnote: Bonaparte’s own words.--“Memoires d’un Homme
d’Etat,” vol. iv., p. 558.]

“Are you through?” asked Bonaparte, drawing a long breath.

“Yes, general, I am.”

“Then take another sheet, my friend. We are going to write now to the
sly fox who generally perceives every hole where he may slip in, and
who has such an excellent nose that he scents every danger and every
advantage from afar. But this time he has lost the trail and is entirely
mistaken. I will, therefore, show him the way. ‘To Citizen Talleyrand,
Minister of Foreign Affairs.’ Did you write the address?”

“Yes, general.”

“Well, go on.”

And without stopping a single time, and even without hesitating,
Bonaparte dictated the following letter:

“In three or four hours, citizen minister, every thing will be
decided--peace or war. I confess that I shall do every thing to make
peace, in consequence of the advanced season and the slim prospect of
achieving important successes.”

“You know very little about the nations of the peninsula; they do not
deserve that forty thousand French soldiers should be killed for their
sake. I see from your letter that you always argue from unfounded
premises. You fancy that liberty would make a great impression upon a
lazy, superstitious, cowardly, and degraded people.”

“You ask me to do miracles, and I cannot perform them. Ever since I came
to Italy, the nation’s desire for liberty and equality was not my ally,
or at best it was but a very feeble one. Whatever is merely good to be
mentioned in proclamations and printed speeches is worth no more than a
novel.”

“Hoping that the negotiations will have a favorable issue, I do not
enter upon further details to enlighten you about many matters which
apparently have been misunderstood. Only by prudence, sagacity, and
determination we are able to realize great objects and surmount all
obstacles; otherwise all our efforts will prove unavailing. Frequently
there is but a single step from victory to ruin. In highly critical
times, I have always noticed that a mere nothing decided the most
important events.”

“It is characteristic of our nation to be too rash and fiery in
prosperity. If we adopt a sagacious policy, which is nothing but the
result of the calculation of combination and chances as a base for our
operations, we shall long remain the greatest nation and most powerful
state in Europe--nay, more, we shall hold the balance of power, we
shall make it incline wherever we desire, and if it were the will of
Providence, it would be no impossibility to achieve in the course of a
few years those great results which a glowing and excited imagination
perhaps foresees, but which only a man of extraordinary coolness,
perseverance, and prudence is able to accomplish if--” [Footnote:
“Memoires d’un Homme d’Etat,” vol. iv., p. 581.]

Bonaparte paused suddenly as if he had been about to betray a profound
secret, and stopped exactly when it was not yet too late to keep it
buried within his own breast.

“It is enough,” he then said, “erase the last word and close the letter.
What makes you look at me so strangely, Bourrienne?”

“I beg your pardon, general, I had a vision. It seemed to me as if an
oriflamme were burning on your head, and I believe if all nations and
all men could behold you as I saw you just now, they would believe once
more in the fables of pagan mythology, and feel satisfied that Jove the
Thunderer had deigned to descend once more into our human world.”

Bonaparte smiled, and this smile lighted up his face, previously so
stern and rigid.

“You are a flatterer and a courtier,” he said, playfully pinching
Bourrienne’s ear so violently that the latter was scarcely able to
conceal a shriek of pain under a smile. “Yes, indeed, you are a regular
courtier, and the republic has done well to banish you, for flattery
is something very aristocratic, and injurious to our stiff republican
dignity. And what an idea, to compare me to Jove appearing on earth!
Don’t you know, then, you learned scholar and flatterer, that Jove,
whenever he descended from Olympus, was in pursuit of a very worldly and
entirely ungodly adventure? It would only remain for you to inform my
Josephine that I was about to transform myself into an ox for the sake
of some beautiful Europa, or drop down in the shape of a golden rain to
gain the love of a Danae.”

“General, the sagacious and spirited Josephine would believe the former
to be impossible, for even if you should succeed in performing all the
miracles of the world, you could never transform yourself into an ox.”

“What! you compared me a minute ago with Jove, and now you doubt already
whether I could accomplish what Jove has done!” exclaimed Bonaparte,
laughing. “Ah, flatterer, you see I have caught you in your own meshes.
But would my Josephine believe, then, that I could transform myself into
a golden rain for the purpose of winning a Danae, you arrant rogue?”

“Yes, general, but she always would take good care to be that Danae
herself.”

“Yes, indeed, you are right,” replied Bonaparte, laughing even louder
than before. “Josephine likes golden rains, and should they be ever so
violent, she would not complain; for if they should immerse her up to
the neck, in the course of a few hours she would have got rid of the
whole valuable flood.”

“Your wife is as liberal and generous as a princess, and that is the
reason why she spends so much money. She scatters her charities with
liberal hands.”

“Yes, Josephine has a noble and magnanimous heart,” exclaimed Napoleon,
and his large blue eyes assumed a mild and tender expression. “She is
a woman just as I like women--so gentle and good, so childlike and
playful, so tender and affectionate, so passionate and odd! And at the
same time so dignified and refined in her manners. Ah, you ought to
have seen her at Milan receiving the princes and noblesse in her
drawing-room. I assure you, my friend, the wife of little General
Bonaparte looked and bore herself precisely like a queen holding a
levee, and she was treated and honored as though she were one. Ah, you
ought to have seen it!”

“I DID see it, general. I was at Milan before coming here.”

“Ah, yes, that is true. I had forgotten it. You lucky fellow, you saw
my wife more recently than I did myself. Josephine is beautiful, is she
not? No young girl can boast of more freshness, more grace, innocence,
and loveliness. Whenever I am with her, I feel as contented, as happy
and tranquil as a man who, on a very warm day, is reposing in the shade
of a splendid myrtle-tree, and whenever I am far from her--”

Bonaparte paused, and a slight blush stole over his face. The young
lover of twenty-eight had triumphed for a moment over the stern,
calculating general, and the general was ashamed of it.

“This is no time to think of such things,” he said, almost indignantly.
“Seal the letters now, and dispatch a messenger to Paris. Ah,
Paris! Would to God I were again there in my little house in the Rue
Chantereine, alone and happy with Josephine! But in order to get there,
I must first make peace here--peace with Austria, with the Emperor of
Germany. Ah, I am afraid Germany will not be much elated by this treaty
of peace which her emperor is going to conclude, and by which she may
lose some of her most splendid fortresses on the Rhine.”

“And the Republic of Venice, general?”

“The Republic of Venice is about to disappear,” exclaimed Bonaparte,
frowning. “Venice has rendered herself unworthy of the name of a
republic--she is about to disappear.”

“General, the delegates of the republic were all day yesterday in your
anteroom, vainly waiting for an audience.”

“They will have to wait to-day likewise until I return from the
conference which is to decide about war or peace. In either case, woe
unto the Venetians! Tell them, Bourrienne, to wait until I return. And
now, my carriage. I cannot let the Austrian plenipotentiaries wait any
longer for my ultimatum.”



CHAPTER VIII.

THE TREATY OF CAMPO FORMIO.


The Austrian plenipotentiaries were at the large Alberga of Udine,
waiting for General Bonaparte. Every thing was prepared for his
reception; the table was set, and the cooks were only looking for the
arrival of the French chieftain in order to serve up the magnificent
dejeuner with which to-day’s conference was to begin.

Count Louis Cobenzl and the Marquis de Gallo were in the dining-room,
standing at the window and looking at the scenery.

“It is cold to-day,” said Count Cobenzl, after a pause in the
conversation. “For my part, I like cold weather, for it reminds me of
the most memorable years of my life--of my sojourn at the court of
the Russian Semiramis. But you, marquis, are probably reminded by this
frosty weather even more sensibly of your beautiful Naples and the
glowing sun of the south. The chilly air must make you homesick.”

“That disease is unknown to me, count,” said the marquis. “I am at home
wherever I can serve my king and my country.”

“But to-day, my dear marquis, you have to serve a foreign prince.”

“Austria is the native country of my noble Queen Caroline,” said the
marquis, gravely, “and the empress is my king’s daughter. The Austrian
court, therefore, may command my whole power and ability.”

“I am afraid that we are going to have hard work to-day, marquis,”
 remarked Count Cobenzl, gloomily. “This French general is really a
sans-culotte of the worst kind. He is entirely devoid of noblesse, bon
ton, and refinement.”

“My dear count, for my part I take this Bonaparte to be a very
long-headed man, and I am sure we must be greatly on our guard to be
able to wrest a few concessions from him.”

“Do you really believe that, marquis?” asked the count, with an
incredulous smile. “You did not see, then, how his marble face lighted
up when I handed him the other day that autograph letter from his
majesty the emperor? You did not see how he blushed with pleasure while
reading it? Oh, I noticed it, and, at that moment, I said to myself:
‘This republican bear is not insensible to the favors and affability
of the great.’ Flattery is a dish which he likes to eat; we will,
therefore, feed him with it, and he will be ours, and do whatever we may
want without even noticing it. The great Empress Catharine used to
say: ‘Bears are best tamed by sweetmeats, and republicans by titles and
decorations.’ Just see, marquis, how I am going to honor him! I let him
drink his chocolate to-day from my most precious relic from this cup
here, which the great empress gave to me, and which you see contains the
czarina’s portrait. Ah, it was at the last festival at the Ermitage that
she handed me the cup with chocolate, and, in order to give it its real
value, she touched the rim of the cup with her own sublime lips, sipped
of the chocolate, and then permitted me to drink where she had drunk.
This cup, therefore, is one of my most cherished reminiscences of
St. Petersburg, and little General Bonaparte may be very proud to
be permitted to drink from Catharine’s cup. Yes, yes, we will give
sweetmeats to the bear, but afterward he must dance just as we please.
We will not yield, but HE must yield to US. Our demands ought to be as
exorbitant as possible!”

“By straining a cord too much, you generally break it,” said the
Italian, thoughtfully. “General Bonaparte, I am afraid, will not consent
to any thing derogatory to the honor and dignity of France. Besides,
there is another bad feature about him--he is incorruptible, and even
the titles and decorations of the Empress Catharine would not have tamed
this republican. Let us proceed cautiously and prudently, count. Let us
demand much, but yield in time, and be content with something less in
order not to lose every thing.”

“Austria can only consent to a peace which extends her boundaries, and
enlarges her territory,” exclaimed Cobenzl, hastily.

“You are right, certainly,” replied the Marquis de Gallo, slowly; “but
Austria cannot intend to aggrandize herself at the expense of France.
What is that so-called Germany good for? Let Austria take from her
whatever she wants--a piece of Bavaria, a piece of Prussia--I would not
care if she even gave to France a piece of Germany, for instance the
frontier of the Rhine. In the name of Heaven, I should think that the
so-called German empire is decayed enough to permit us to break off a
few of its pieces.”

“You are very unmerciful toward the poor German empire,” said Count
Cobenzl, with a smile, “for you are no German, and owing to that, it
seems you are much better qualified to act as Austrian plenipotentiary
in this matter. Nevertheless it is odd and funny enough that in these
negotiations in which the welfare of Germany is principally at stake,
the Emperor of Germany should be represented by an Italian, and the
French Republic by a Corsican!”

“You omit yourself, my dear count,” said the marquis, politely. “You are
the real representative of the German emperor, and I perceive that the
emperor could not have intrusted the interests of Germany to better
hands. But as you have permitted me to act as your adviser, I would beg
you to remember that the welfare of Austria should precede the welfare
of Germany. And--but listen! a carriage is approaching.”

“It is General Bonaparte,” said Count Cobenzl, hastening to the window.
“Just see the splendid carriage in which he is coming. Six horses--four
footmen on the box, and a whole squadron of lancers escorting him! And
you believe this republican to be insensible to flattery? Ah, ha! we
will give sweetmeats to the bear! Let us go and receive him.”

He took the arm of the marquis, and both hastened to receive the
general, whose carriage had just stopped at the door.

The Austrian plenipotentiaries met Bonaparte in the middle of the
staircase and escorted him to the dining-room, where the dejeuner was
waiting for him.

But Bonaparte declined the dejeuner, in spite of the repeated and most
pressing requests of Count Cobenzl.

“At least take a cup of chocolate to warm yourself,” urged the count.
“Drink it out of this cup, general, and if it were only in order to
increase its value in my eyes. The Empress Catharine gave it to me, and
drank from it; and if you now use this cup likewise, I might boast of
possessing a cup from which the greatest man and the greatest woman of
this century have drunk!”

“I shall not drink, count!” replied Bonaparte, bluntly. “I will have
nothing in common with this imperial Messalina, who, by her dissolute
life, equally disgraced the dignity of the crown and of womanhood. You
see I am a strong-headed republican, who only understands to talk of
business. Let us, therefore, attend to that at once.”

Without waiting for an invitation, he sat down on the divan close to the
breakfast-table, and, with a rapid gesture, motioned the two gentlemen
to take seats at his side.

“I informed you of my ultimatum the day before yesterday,” said
Bonaparte, coldly; “have you taken it into consideration, and are you
going to accept it?”

This blunt and hasty question, so directly at the point, disconcerted
the two diplomatists.

“We will weigh and consider with you what can be done,” said Count
Cobenzl, timidly. “France asks too much and offers too little. Austria
is ready to cede Belgium to France, and give up Lombardy, but in return
she demands the whole territory of Venice, Mantua included.”

“Mantua must remain with the new Cisalpine Republic!” exclaimed
Bonaparte, vehemently. “That is one of the stipulations of my ultimatum,
and you seem to have forgotten it, count. And you say nothing about the
frontier of the Rhine, and of the fortress of Mentz, both of which I
have claimed for France.”

“But, general, the Rhine does not belong to Austria, and Mentz is
garrisoned by German troops. We cannot give away what does not belong to
us.”

“Do not I give Venice to you?” exclaimed Bonaparte--“Venice, which, even
at the present hour, is a sovereign state, and whose delegates are at my
headquarters, waiting for my reply! The Emperor of Germany has certainly
the right to give away a German fortress if he choose.”

“Well, Austria is not indisposed to cede the frontier of the Rhine to
France,” remarked the Marquis de Gallo. “Austria is quite willing and
ready to form a close alliance with France, in order to resist the
ambitious schemes of Prussia.”

“If Austria should acquire new territory in consequence of an
understanding with France, she must be sure that no such right of
aggrandizement should be granted to Prussia,” said Count Cobenzl,
hastily.

“France and Austria might pledge themselves in a secret treaty not to
permit any further aggrandizement of Prussia, but to give back to her
simply her former possessions on the Rhine,” said De Gallo.

“No digressions, if you please!” exclaimed Bonaparte, impatiently. “Let
us speak of my ultimatum. In the name of France, I have offered you
peace, provided the territories on the left bank of the Rhine with
their stipulated boundaries, including Mentz, be ceded to France, and
provided, further, that the Adige form the boundary-line between Austria
and the Cisalpine Republic, Mantua to belong to the latter. You
cede Belgium to France, but, in return, we give you the continental
possessions of Venice; only Corfu and the Ionian Islands are to fall to
the share of France, and the Adige is to form the frontier of Venetian
Austria.”

“I told you already, general,” said Count Cobenzl, with his most winning
smile, “we cannot accept the last condition. We must have Mantua,
likewise; in return, we give you Mentz; and not the Adige, but the Adda,
must be our frontier.”

“Ah! I see--new difficulties, new subterfuges!” exclaimed Bonaparte, and
his eyes darted a flash of anger at the diplomatist.

This angry glance, however, was parried by the polite smile of the
count. “I took the liberty of informing you likewise of OUR ultimatum,
general,” he said, gently, “and I am sorry to be compelled to declare
that I shall have to leave this place unless our terms be acceded to.
But in that case, I shall hold YOU responsible for the blood of the
thousands which may be shed in consequence.”

Bonaparte jumped up, with flaming eyes, and lips quivering with rage.

“You dare to threaten me!” he shouted, angrily. “You resort to
subterfuge after subterfuge. Then you are determined to have war? Very
well, you shall have it.”

He extended his arm hastily and seized the precious cup which the
Empress Catharine had given to Count Cobenzl, and, with an impetuous
motion, hurled it to the ground, where it broke to pieces with a loud
crash.

“See there!” he shouted in a thundering voice. “Your Austrian monarchy
shall be shattered like this cup within less than three months. I
promise you that.”

Without deigning to cast another glance upon the two gentlemen, he
hurried with rapid steps to the door, and left the room.

Pale with anger and dismay, Count Cobenzl stared at the debris of the
precious cup, which so long had been the pride and joy of his heart.

“He is leaving,” muttered the Marquis de Gallo. “Shall we let him go,
count?”

“How is that bear to be kept here?” asked the count, sighing, and
shrugging his shoulders.

At this moment Bonaparte’s powerful voice was heard in the anteroom,
calling out:

“An orderly--quick!”

“He calls out of the window,” whispered the marquis. “Let us hear what
he has got to say.”

The two plenipotentiaries slipped on tiptoe to the window, cautiously
peeping from behind the curtains. They saw a French lancer galloping up
below, and stopping and saluting under the window of the adjoining room.

Again they heard Bonaparte’s thundering voice. “Ride over to the
headquarters of Archduke Charles,” shouted Bonaparte. “Tell him on
my behalf that the armistice is at an end, and that hostilities will
recommence from the present hour. That is all. Depart!”

Then they heard him close the window with a crash, and walk with loud
steps through the anteroom.

The two plenipotentiaries looked at each other in dismay. “Count,”
 whispered the marquis, “listen! he leaves and has threatened to shatter
Austria. He is the man to fulfil his threat. My God, must we suffer him
to depart in anger? Have you been authorized to do that?”

“Will you try to command the storm to stand still?” asked Count Cobenzl.

“Yes, I will try, for we must not break off the negotiations in this way
and recommence hostilities. We must conciliate this terrible warrior!”

He rushed out of the room, and hastened through the anteroom and
down-stairs to the front door.

Bonaparte had already entered his carriage; his escort had formed in
line, the driver had seized the reins and whip in order to give the
impatient horses the signal to start.

At this moment, the pale and humble face of the Marquis de Gallo
appeared at the carriage door. Bonaparte did not seem to see him.
Leaning back into the cushions, he gloomily looked up to heaven.

“General,” said the marquis, imploringly, “I beseech you not to depart!”

“Marquis,” replied Bonaparte, shrugging his shoulders, “it does not
become me to remain peaceably among my enemies. War has been declared,
for you have not accepted my ultimatum.”

“But, general, I take the liberty to inform you that the Austrian
plenipotentiaries have resolved to accept your ultimatum.” Bonaparte’s
marble countenance did not betray the slightest emotion of surprise and
joy; his large eyes only cast a piercing glance upon the marquis.

“You accept it without subterfuge or reserve?” he asked, slowly.

“Yes, general, precisely as you have stated it. We are ready to sign the
treaty of peace, and accept the ultimatum. Just be kind enough to alight
once more, and continue the conference with us.”

“No, sir,” said Bonaparte, “nulla vestigia retrorsam! Being already in
my carriage, I shall not return to you. Besides, the delegates of the
Venetian Republic are waiting for me at Passeriano, and I believe it
is time for me to inform them too of my ultimatum. At the end of
three hours, I ask you, marquis, and Count Cobenzl to proceed to my
headquarters at Passeriano. There we will take the various stipulations
of the treaty into consideration, and agree upon the public and secret
articles.”

“But you forget, general, that your orderly is already on the way to
the Austrian headquarters in order to announce the reopening of
hostilities.”

“That is true,” said Napoleon, quietly. “Here, two orderlies. Follow the
first orderly, and command him to return. You see, marquis, I believe in
the sincerity of your assurances. In three hours, then, I shall expect
you at Passeriano for the purpose of settling the details of the treaty.
We shall sign it, however, on neutral ground. Do you see that tall
building on the horizon?”

“Yes, general, it is the decayed old castle of Campo Formio.”

“Well, in that castle, the treaty shall be signed. In three hours, then.
Until then, farewell.”

He nodded carelessly to the marquis, who, as humble as a vassal, at
the feet of the throne, stood at the carriage door, constantly bowing
deeply, and waving his plumed hat.

“Forward!” shouted Bonaparte, and the carriage, followed by a brilliant
suite, rolled away. Bonaparte, carelessly leaning into the corner,
muttered, with a stealthy smile: “It was a coup de theatre, and it
had evidently great success. They had to accept peace at my hands as a
favor. Ah, if they had guessed how much I needed it myself! But these
men are obtuse; they cannot see any thing. They have no aim; they only
live from minute to minute, and whenever they find a precipice on their
route, they stumble over it, and are lost beyond redemption. My God, how
scarce real men are! There are eighteen millions in Italy, and I have
scarcely found two men among them. I want to save these two men, but the
rest may fulfil their destiny. The Republic of Venice shall disappear
from the earth--this cruel and bloodthirsty government shall be
annihilated. We shall throw it as a prey to hungry Austria; but when the
latter has devoured her, and stretched herself in the lazy languor of
digestion, then it will be time for us to stir up Austria. Until then,
peace with Austria--peace!”

Three hours later the treaty between Austria and France was signed
at the old castle of Campo Formio. France, by this treaty, acquired
Belgium, the left bank of the Rhine, and the fortress of Monte. Austria
acquired the Venetian territory. But to these acquisitions, which were
published, secret articles were added. In these secret articles, France
promised, in case Prussia should demand an enlargement of her dominions,
like Austria, not to consent to it.

The Emperor of Austria, on his part, pledged himself to withdraw his
troops, even before the conclusion of the treaty with the German empire,
to be agreed upon at Rastadt, from all the fortresses on the Rhine--in
other words, to surrender the German empire entirely to its French
neighbors.

Austria had enlarged her territory, but, for this aggrandizement,
Germany was to pay with her blood, and finally with her life. Austria
had made peace with France at Campo Formio, and it was stipulated in
the treaty that the German empire likewise should conclude peace with
France. For this purpose, a congress was to meet at Rastadt; all German
princes were to send their ambassadors to that fortress, in order to
settle, jointly, with three representatives of the French Republic, the
fate of the empire.



CHAPTER IX.

QUEEN LOUISA.


The most noble Countess von Voss, mistress of ceremonies at the court
of Prussia, was pacing the anteroom of Queen Louisa in the most excited
manner. She wore the regular court dress--a long black robe and a large
cap of black crape. In her white hands, half covered with black silk
gloves, she held a gorgeous fan, which she now impatiently opened and
closed, and then again slowly moved up and down like a musical leader’s
baton.

If anybody had been present to observe her, the noble mistress of
ceremonies would not have permitted herself such open manifestations
of her impatience. Fortunately, however, she was quite alone, and under
these circumstances even a mistress of ceremonies at the royal court
might feel at liberty to violate the rules of that etiquette which on
all other occasions was the noble lady’s most sacred gospel. Etiquette,
however, was just now the motive of her intense excitement, and in its
interest she was going to fight a battle on that very spot in Queen
Louisa’s anteroom.

“Now or never!” she murmured. “What I was at liberty to overlook as long
as Frederick William and Louisa were merely ‘their royal highnesses, the
crown prince and crown princess,’ I cannot permit any longer now that
they have ascended the royal throne. Hence I am determined to speak
to the young king on this first day of his reign [Footnote: footnote:
November 17, 1797.] in as emphatic and sincere a manner as is required
by a faithful discharge of my responsible duties.”

Just at that moment the large folding doors were opened, and a tall and
slender young man in a dashing uniform entered the room. It was young
King Frederick William III., on his return from the interior palace-yard
where he had received the oath of allegiance at the hands of the
generals of the monarchy.

The noble and youthful countenance of this king of twenty-seven years
was grave and stern, but from his large blue eyes the kindness and
gentleness of his excellent heart was beaming, and his handsome and
good-natured features breathed a wonderful spirit of serenity and
sympathy.

He crossed the room with rapid and noiseless steps, and, politely bowing
to the mistress of ceremonies, approached the opposite door. But the
mistress of ceremonies, evidently anxious to prevent him from opening
that door, placed herself in front of it and gravely said to him:

“Your majesty, it is impossible. I cannot permit etiquette to be
violated in this manner, and I must beg your majesty to inform me most
graciously of what you are going to do in these rooms?”

“Well,” said the king, with a pleasant smile, “I am going to do to-day
what I am in the habit of doing every day at this hour--I am going to
pay a visit to my wife.”

“To your WIFE!” exclaimed the mistress of ceremonies, in dismay. “But,
your majesty, a king has no WIFE!”

“Ah! in that case a king would be a very wretched being,” said the king,
smiling, “and, for my part, I would sooner give up my crown than my
beloved wife.”

“Good Heaven, your majesty, you may certainly have a wife, but let me
implore you not to apply that vulgar name to her majesty in the presence
of other people. It is contrary to etiquette and injurious to the
respect due to royalty.”

“My dear countess,” said the young king, gravely, “I believe, on the
contrary, that it will only increase the respect which people will feel
for us, if her majesty remains a woman in the noblest and truest meaning
of the word, and my wife--I beg your pardon, I was going to say the
queen--is such a woman. And now, my dear countess, permit me to go to
her.”

“No,” exclaimed the mistress of ceremonies, resolutely. “Your majesty
must first condescend to listen to me. For an hour already I have been
waiting here for your majesty’s arrival, and you must now graciously
permit me to speak to you as frankly and sincerely as is required by my
duty and official position.”

“Well, I will listen to you, my dear countess,” said the king, with an
inaudible sigh.

“Your majesty,” said the mistress of ceremonies, “I consider it my duty
to beseech your majesty on this memorable day to confer upon me the
power of enforcing the privileges of my office with more severity and
firmness.”

“And to submit myself to your sceptre. That is what you want me to do, I
suppose, dear countess?” asked the king, smiling.

“Sire, at all events it is impossible to keep up the dignity and majesty
of royalty if the king and queen themselves openly defy the laws of
etiquette.”

“Ah!” exclaimed the king, sharply, “not a word against the queen, if you
please, my dear mistress of ceremonies! You may accuse me just as much
as you please, but pray let me hear no more complaints about my Louisa!
Well, then, tell me now what new derelictions I have been guilty of.”

“Sire,” said the countess, who did not fail to notice the almost
imperceptible smile playing on the king’s lips--“sire, I perceive that
your majesty is laughing at me; nevertheless, I deem it incumbent on me
to raise my warning voice. Etiquette is something sublime and holy--it
is the sacred wall separating the sovereign from his people. If that
ill-starred queen, Marie Antoinette, had not torn down this wall, she
would probably have met with a less lamentable end.”

“Ah! countess, you really go too far; you even threaten me with the
guillotine,” exclaimed the king, good-naturedly. “Indeed, I am afraid I
must have committed a great crime against etiquette. Tell me, therefore,
where you wish to see a change, and I pledge you my word I shall grant
your request if it be in my power to do so.”

“Sire,” begged the mistress of ceremonies, in a low and impressive
voice, “let me implore you to be in your palace less of a father and
husband, and more of a king, at least in the presence of others. It
frequently occurs that your majesty, before other people, addresses
the queen quite unceremoniously with ‘thou,’ nay, your majesty even in
speaking of her majesty to strangers or servants, often briefly calls
the queen ‘my wife.’ Sire, all that might be overlooked in the modest
family circle and house of a crown prince, but it can-not be excused in
the palace of a king.”

“Then,” asked the king, smiling, “this house of mine has been
transformed into a palace since yesterday?”

“Assuredly, sire, you do not mean to say that you will remain in this
humble house after your accession to the throne?” exclaimed the mistress
of ceremonies, in dismay.

“Now tell me sincerely, my dear countess, cannot we remain in this
house?”

“I assure your majesty it is altogether out of the question. How would
it be possible to keep up the court of a king and queen in so small a
house with becoming dignity? The queen’s household has to be largely
increased; hereafter we must have four ladies of honor, four ladies of
the bedchamber, and other servants in the same pro-portion. According
to the rules of etiquette, Sire, you must like-wise enlarge your own
household. A king must have two adjutant-generals, four chamberlains,
four gentlemen of the bedchamber, and--”

“Hold on,” exclaimed the king, smiling, “MY household fortunately
does not belong to the department of the mistress of ceremonies, and
therefore we need not allude to it. As to your other propositions and
wishes, I shall take them into consideration, for I hope you are through
now.”

“No, your majesty, I am not. I have to mention a good many other things,
and I must do so to-day--my duty requires it,” said the mistress of
ceremonies, in a dignified manner.

The king cast a wistful glance toward the door.

“Well, if your duty requires it, you may proceed,” he said, with a loud
sigh.

“I must beseech your majesty to assist me in the discharge of my onerous
duties. If the king and queen themselves will submit to the rigorous
and just requirements of etiquette, I shall be able to compel the whole
court likewise strictly to adhere to those salutary rules. Nowadays,
however, a spirit of innovation and disinclination to observe the
old-established ceremonies and customs, which deeply afflicts me, and
which I cannot but deem highly pernicious, is gaining ground everywhere.
It has even now infected the ladies and gentlemen of the court. And
having often heard your majesty, in conversation with her majesty the
queen, contrary to etiquette, use the vulgar German language instead
of the French tongue, which is the language of the courts throughout
Germany, they believe they have a perfect right to speak German whenever
they please. Yes, it has become a regular custom among them to salute
each other at breakfast with a German ‘Guten Morgen!’ [Footnote: Vide
Ludwig Hausser’s “History of Germany,” vol, ii.] That is an innovation
which should not be permitted to anybody, without first obtaining the
consent of her majesty’s mistress of ceremonies and your majesty’s
master of ceremonies.”

“I beg your pardon,” said the king, gravely, “as to this point, I
altogether differ from you. No etiquette should forbid German gentlemen
or German ladies to converse in their mother tongue, and it is unnatural
and mere affectation to issue such orders. In order to become fully
conscious of their national dignity, they should especially value and
love their own language, and no longer deign to use in its place the
tongue of a people who have shed the blood of their king and queen, and
whose deplorable example now causes all thrones to tremble. Would to God
that the custom of using the German language would become more and more
prevalent at my court, for it behooves Germans to feel and think and
speak like Germans; and that will also be the most reliable bulwark
against the bloody waves of the French Republic, in case it should
desire to invade Germany. Now you know my views, my dear mistress of
ceremonies, and if your book of ceremonies prescribes that all court
officers should converse in French, I request you to expunge that
article and to insert in its place the following: ‘Prussia, being a
German state, of course everybody is at liberty to speak German.’ This
will also be the rule at court, except in the presence of persons not
familiar with the German language. Pray don’t forget that, my dear
countess, and now, being so implacable a guardian of that door, and of
the laws of etiquette, I request you to go to her majesty the queen, and
ask her if I may have the honor of waiting upon her majesty. I should
like to present my respects to her majesty; and I trust she will
graciously grant my request.” [Footnote: The king’s own words.--Vide
Charakterzuge und Historische Fragmente aus dem Leben des Konigs von
Preussen, Friedrich Wilhelm III. Gesammelt und herausgegeben von B. Fr.
Eylert, Bishop, u.s.w. Th. ii., p. 21.] The mistress of ceremonies
bowed deeply, her face radiant with joy, and then rapidly entered the
adjoining room.

The king looked after her for a moment, with a peculiar smile.

“She has to pass through six large rooms before reaching Louisa’s
boudoir,” he murmured: “this door, however, directly leads to her
through the small hall and the other anteroom. That is the shortest road
to her, and I shall take it.”

Without hesitating any longer, the king hastily opened the small side
door, slipped through the silent hall and across the small anteroom, and
knocked at the large and heavily-curtained door.

A sweet female voice exclaimed, “Come in!” and the king immediately
opened the door. A lady in deep mourning came to meet him, extending her
hands toward him.

“Oh, my heart told me that it was you, my dearest!” she exclaimed, and
her glorious blue eyes gazed upon him with an indescribable expression
of impassioned tenderness.

The king looked at her with a dreamy smile, quite absorbed in her
aspect. And indeed it was a charming and beautiful sight presented by
this young queen of twenty years.

Her blue eyes were beaming in the full fire of youth, enthusiasm, and
happiness; a sweet smile was always playing on her finely-formed mouth,
with the ripe cherry lips. On both sides of her slightly-blushing cheeks
her splendid auburn hair was flowing down in waving ringlets; her noble
and pure forehead arose above a nose of classical regularity, and her
figure, so proud and yet so charming, so luxuriant and yet so chaste,
full of true royal dignity and winning womanly grace, was in complete
harmony with her lovely and youthful features.

“Well?” asked the queen, smiling. “Not a word of welcome from you, my
beloved husband?”

“I only say to you, God bless you on your new path, and may He preserve
you to me as long as I live!” replied the king, deeply moved, and
embracing his queen with gushing tenderness.

She encircled his neck with her soft, white arms, and leaned her head
with a happy smile upon his shoulder. Thus they reposed in each other’s
arms, silent in their unutterable delight, solemnly moved in the
profound consciousness of their eternal and imperishable love.

Suddenly they were interrupted in their blissful dream by a low cry,
and when they quickly turned around in a somewhat startled manner, they
beheld the Countess von Voss, mistress of ceremonies, standing in the
open door, and gloomily gazing upon them.

The king could not help laughing.

“Do you see now, my dear countess?” he said. “My wife and I see each
other without any previous interruption as often as we want to do so,
and that is precisely as it ought to be in a Christian family. But you
are a charming mistress of ceremonies, and hereafter we will call you
Dame d’Etiquette. [Footnote: The king’s own words.--Vide Eylert, part
ii., p. 98.] Moreover, I will comply with your wishes as much as I can.”

He kindly nodded to her, and the mistress of ceremonies, well aware of
the meaning of this nod, withdrew with a sigh, closing the door as she
went out.

The queen looked up to her husband with a smile.

“Was it again some quarrel about etiquette?” she asked.

“Yes, and a quarrel of the worst kind,” replied the king, quickly. “The
mistress of ceremonies demands that I should always be announced to you
before entering your room, Louisa.”

“Oh, you are always announced here,” she exclaimed, tenderly; “my
heart always indicates your approach--and that herald is altogether
sufficient, and it pleases me much better than the stern countenance of
our worthy mistress of ceremonies.”

“It is the herald of my happiness,” said the king, fervently, laying his
arm upon his wife’s shoulder, and gently drawing her to his heart.

“Do you know what I am thinking of just now?” asked the queen, after a
short pause. “I believe the mistress of ceremonies will get up a large
number of new rules, and lecture me considerably about the duties of a
queen in regard to the laws of etiquette.”

“I believe you are right,” said the king, smiling.

“But I don’t believe she is right!” exclaimed the queen, and, closely
nestling in her husband’s arms, she added: “Tell me, my lord and king,
inasmuch as this is the first time that you come to me as a king, have I
not the right to ask a few favors of you, and to pray you to grant my
requests?”

“Yes, you have that right, my charming queen,” said the king, merrily; “and
I pledge you my word that your wishes shall be fulfilled, whatever they
may be.”

“Well, then,” said the queen, joyfully, “there are four wishes that I
should like you to grant. Come, sit down here by my side, on this small
sofa, put your arm around my waist, and, that I may feel that I am
resting under your protection, let me lean my head upon your shoulder,
like the ivy supporting itself on the trunk of the strong oak. And now
listen to my wishes. In the first place, I want you to allow me to be a
wife and mother in my own house, without any restraint whatever, and
to fulfil my sacred duties as such without fear and without regard to
etiquette. Do you grant this wish?”

“Most cordially and joyfully, in spite of all mistresses of ceremonies!”
 replied the king.

The queen nodded gently and smiled. “Secondly,” she continued, “I beg
you, my beloved husband, on your own part, not to permit etiquette to do
violence to your feelings toward me, and always to call me, even in the
presence of others, your ‘wife,’ and not ‘her majesty the queen.’ Will
you grant that, too, my dearest friend?”

The king bent over her and kissed her beautiful hair.

“Louisa,” he whispered, “you know how to read my heart, and, generous as
you always are, you pray me to grant what is only my own dearest wish.
Yes, Louisa, we will always call each other by those most honorable of
our titles, ‘husband and wife.’ And now, your third wish, my dear wife?”

“Ah, I have some fears about this third wish of mine,” sighed the queen,
looking up to her husband with a sweet smile. “I am afraid you cannot
grant it, and the mistress of ceremonies, perhaps, was right when she
told me etiquette would prevent you from complying with it.”

“Ah, the worthy mistress of ceremonies has lectured you also today
already?” asked the king, laughing.

The queen nodded. “She has communicated to me several important sections
from the ‘book of ceremonies,’” she sighed. “But all that shall not
deter me from mentioning my third wish to you. I ask you, my Frederick,
to request the king to permit my husband to live as plainly and modestly
as heretofore. Let the king give his state festivals in the large royal
palace of his ancestors--let him receive in those vast and gorgeous
halls the homage of his subjects, and the visits of foreign princes, and
let the queen assist him on such occasions. But these duties of royalty
once attended to, may we not be permitted, like all others, to go home,
and in the midst of our dear little family circle repose after the
fatiguing pomp and splendor of the festivities? Let us not give up our
beloved home for the large royal palace! Do not ask me to leave a house
in which I have passed the happiest and finest days of my life. See,
here in these dear old rooms of mine, every thing reminds me of you, and
whenever I am walking through them, the whole secret history of our love
and happiness stands again before my eyes. Here, in this room, we saw
each other for the first time after my arrival in Berlin, alone and
without witnesses. Here you imprinted the first kiss upon your wife’s
lips, and, like a heavenly smile, it penetrated deep into my soul, and
it has remained in my heart like a little guardian angel of our love.
Since that day, even in the fullest tide of happiness, I always feel so
devout and grateful to God; and whenever you kiss me, the little angel
in my heart is praying for you, and whenever I am praying, he kisses
you.”

“Oh, Louisa, you are my angel--my guardian angel!” exclaimed the king,
enthusiastically.

The queen apparently did not notice this interruption--she was entirely
absorbed in her recollections. “On this sofa here,” she said, “we were
often seated in fervent embrace like to-day and when every thing around
us was silent, our hearts spoke only the louder to each other, and often
have I heard here from your lips the most sublime and sacred revelations
of your noble, pure, and manly soul. In my adjoining cabinet, you were
once standing at the window, gloomy and downcast; a cloud was covering
your brow, and I knew you had heard again sorrowful tidings in your
father’s palace. But no complaint ever dropped from your lips, for you
always were a good and dutiful son, and even to me you never alluded to
your father’s failings. I knew what you were suffering, but I knew also
that at that hour I had the power to dispel all the clouds from your
brow, and to make your eyes radiant with joy and happiness. Softly
approaching you, I laid my arm around your neck, and my head on your
breast, and thereupon I whispered three words which only God and my
husband’s ears were to hear. And you heard them, and you uttered a loud
cry of joy, and before I knew how it happened, I saw you on your knees
before me, kissing my feet and the hem of my garment, and applying a
name to me that sounded like heavenly music, and made my heart overflow
with ecstasy and suffused my cheeks with a deep blush. And I don’t know
again how it happened, but I felt that I was kneeling by your side,
and we were lifting up our folded hands to heaven, thanking God for the
great bliss He had vouchsafed to us, and praying Him to bless our child,
unknown to us as yet, but already so dearly beloved. Oh, and last, my
own Frederick, do you remember that other hour in my bedroom? You were
sitting at my bedside, with folded hands, praying, and yet, during
your prayer, gazing upon me, while I was writhing with pain, and yet
so supremely happy in my agony, for I knew that Nature at that hour was
about to consecrate me for my most exalted and sacred vocation, and that
God would bless our love with a visible pledge of our happiness. The
momentous hour was at hand--a film covered my eyes, and I could only see
the Holy Virgin surrounded by angels, on Guido Reni’s splendid painting,
opposite my bed. Suddenly a dazzling flash seemed to penetrate the
darkness surrounding me, and through the silence of the room there
resounded a voice that I had never heard before--the voice of my child.
And at the sound of that voice I saw the angels descending from the
painting and approaching my bedside in order to kiss me, and the Mother
of God bent over me with a heavenly smile, exclaiming: ‘Blessed is the
wife who is a mother!’ My consciousness left me--I believe my ineffable
happiness made me faint.”

“Yes, you fainted, beloved wife,” said the king, gently nodding to
her; “but the swoon had not dispelled the smile from your lips, nor
the expression of rapturous joy from your features. You lay there as if
overwhelmed with joy and fascinated by your ecstatic bliss. Knowing that
you were inexpressibly happy, I felt no fear whatever--”

“Well, I awoke soon again,” added the queen, joyfully. “I had no time to
spare for a long swoon, for a question was burning in my heart. I turned
my eyes toward you--you were standing in the middle of the room, holding
the babe that, in its new little lace dress, had just been laid into
your arms. My heart now commenced beating in my breast like a hammer. I
looked at you, but my lips were not strong enough to utter the question.
However, you understood me well enough, and drawing close to my bedside,
and kneeling down and laying the babe into my arms, you said, in a voice
which I shall never forget, ‘Louisa, give your blessing to your son!’
Ah, at that moment it seemed as if my ecstasy would rend my breast. I
had to utter a loud scream, or I should have died from joy. ‘A son!’ I
cried, ‘I have given birth to a son!’ And I drew my arms around you and
the babe, and we wept tears--oh, such tears--”

She paused, overwhelmed with emotion, and burst into tears.

“Ah!” she whispered, deprecatingly, “I am very foolish--you will laugh
at me.”

But the king did not laugh, for his eyes also were moist; only he was
ashamed of his tears and kept them back in his eyes. A pause ensued, and
the queen laid her head upon the shoulder of her husband, who had drawn
his arm around her waist. All at once she raised her head, and fixing
her large and radiant eyes upon the deeply-moved face of the king, she
asked: “My Frederick, can we leave a house in which I bore you a son and
crown prince? Will we give up our most sacred recollections for the sake
of a large and gorgeous royal palace?”

“No, we will not,” said the king, pressing his wife closer to his heart.
“No, we will remain in this house of ours--we will not leave it. Our
happiness has grown and prospered here, and here it shall bloom and bear
fruit. Your wish shall be fulfilled; we will continue living here as
man and wife, and if the king and queen have to give festivals and to
receive numerous guests, then they will go over to the palace to comply
with their royal duties, but in the evening they will return to their
happy home.”

“Oh, my friend, my beloved friend, how shall I thank you?” exclaimed the
queen, encircling his neck with her arms, and imprinting a glowing kiss
upon his lips.

“But now, dear wife, let me know your fourth wish,” said the king,
holding her in his arms. “I hope your last wish is a real one, and
not merely calculated to render ME happy, but one that also concerns
yourself?”

“Oh, my fourth wish only concerns myself,” said the queen, with an arch
smile. “I can confide it to you, to you alone, and you must promise
to keep it secret, and not to say a word about it to the mistress of
ceremonies.”

“I promise it most readily, dear Louisa.”

“Well,” said the queen, placing her husband’s hand upon her heart, and
gently stroking it with her fingers. “I believe during the coming winter
we shall often have to be king and queen. Festivals will be given to us,
and we shall have to give others in return; the country will do homage
to the new sovereign, and the nobility will solemnly take the oath of
allegiance to him. Hence there will be a great deal of royal pomp,
but very little enjoyment for us during the winter. Well, I will not
complain, but endeavor, to the best of my ability, to do honor to my
exalted position by your side. In return, however, my beloved lord and
friend--in return, next summer, when the roses are blooming, you must
give me a day--a day that is to belong exclusively to myself; and on
that day we will forget the cares of royalty, and only remember that we
are a pair of happy young lovers. Of course, we shall not spend that day
in Berlin, nor in Parez either; but like two merry birds, we will fly
far, far away to my home in Mecklenburg, to the paradise of my early
years--to the castle of Hohenzieritz; and no one shall know any thing
about it. Without being previously announced, we will arrive there, and
in the solitude of the old house and garden we will perform a charming
little idyl. On that day you only belong to me, and to nobody else. On
that day I am your wife and sweetheart and nothing else, and I shall
provide amusement and food for you. Yes, dearest Frederick, I shall
prepare your meals all alone, and set the table and carve for you. Oh,
dear, dear friend; give me such a day, such an idyl of happiness!”

“I give it to you and to myself, most joyfully; and let me confess,
Louisa, I wish the winter were over already, and the morning of that
beautiful day were dawning.”

“Thanks--thousand thanks!” exclaimed the queen, enthusiastically. “Let
the stiff and ceremonious days come now, and the sneaking, fawning
courtiers and the incense of flattery. Through all the mist I shall
constantly inhale the sweet fragrance of the roses of the future, and on
the stiff gala-days I shall think of the idyl of that day that will dawn
next summer and compensate me for all the annoyances and fatigues of
court life.”

The king placed his right hand on her head, as if to bless her, and with
his left, lifted up her face that was reposing on his breast. “And you
really think, you charming, happy angel, that I do not understand you?”
 he asked, in a low voice. “Do you think I do not feel and know that you
want to offer me this consolation and to comfort me by the hope of
such a blissful day for the intervening time of care, fatigue, and
restlessness? Oh, my dear Louisa, you need no such consolation, for God
has intended you for a queen, and even the burdens and cares of your
position will only surround you like enchanting genii. You know at all
times how to find the right word and the right deed, and the Graces have
showered upon you the most winning charms to fascinate all hearts, in
whatever you may be doing. On the other hand, I am awkward and ill at
ease. I know it only too well; my unhappy childhood, grief and cares of
all kinds, have rendered my heart reserved and bashful. Perhaps I am not
always lacking right ideas, but I fail only too often to find the right
word for what I think and feel. Hereafter, my dear Louisa, frequent
occasions will arise when you will have to speak for both of us. By
means of your irresistible smile and genial conversation you will have
to win the hearts of people, while I shall be content if I can only win
their heads.”

“Shall I be able to win their hearts?” asked the queen, musingly. “Oh,
assist me, my dearest friend. Tell me what I have to do in order to be
beloved by my people.”

“Remain what you are, Louisa,” said the king, gravely--“always remain
as charming, graceful, and pure as I beheld you on the most glorious two
days of my life, and as my inward eye always will behold you. Oh, I also
have some charming recollections, and although I cannot narrate them in
words as fascinating and glowing as yours, yet they are engraved no less
vividly on my mind, and, like beautiful genii, accompany me everywhere.
Only before others they are bashful and reticent like myself.”

“Let me hear them, Frederick,” begged the queen, tenderly leaning her
beautiful head on her husband’s shoulder. “Let us devote another hour to
the recollections of the past.”

“Yes, let another hour be devoted to the memories of past times,”
 exclaimed the king, “for can there be any thing more attractive for me
than to think of you and of that glorious hour when I saw you first?
Shall I tell you all about it, Louisa?”

“Oh, do so, my beloved friend. Your words will sound to me like some
beautiful piece of music that one likes better and understands better
the more it is heard. Speak, then, Frederick, speak.”



CHAPTER X.

THE KING’S RECOLLECTIONS.


“Well,” said the king, “whenever I look back into the past, every thing
seems to me covered with a gray mist, through which only two stars and
two lights are twinkling. The stars are your eyes, and the lights are
the two days I alluded to before--the day on which I saw you for the
first time, and the day on which you arrived in Berlin. Oh, Louisa,
never shall I forget that first day! I call it the first day, because
it was the first day of my real life. It was at Frankfort-on-the-Main,
during the campaign on the Rhine. My father, the king, accompanied by
myself, returned the visit that the Duke of Mecklenburg, your excellent
father, had paid on the previous day. We met in a small and unpretending
villa, situated in the midst of a large garden. The two sovereigns
conversed long and seriously, and I was listening to them, in silence.
This silence was, perhaps, disagreeable to my father the king.”

“‘What do you think, your Highness?’ he suddenly asked your father.
‘While we are talking about the military operations, will we not permit
the young gentleman there to wait upon the ladies? As soon as we are
through, I shall ask you to grant me the same privilege.’”

“The duke readily assented, and calling the footman waiting in the
anteroom, he ordered him to go with me to the ladies and to announce my
visit to them. Being in the neighborhood of the seat of war, you know,
little attention was paid to ceremonies. I followed the footman, who
told me the ladies were in the garden, whither he conducted me. We
walked through a long avenue and a number of side-paths. The footman,
going before me, looked around in every direction without being able
to discover the whereabouts of the ladies. Finally, at a bend in
the avenue, we beheld a bower in the distance, and something white
fluttering in it.”

“‘Ah, there is Princess Louisa,’ said the footman, turning to me, and
he then rapidly walked toward her. I followed him slowly and listlessly,
and when he came back and told me Princess Louisa was ready to receive
me, I was perhaps yet twenty yards from the rose-bower. I saw there a
young lady rising from her seat, and accelerated my steps. Suddenly my
heart commenced pulsating as it never had done before, and it seemed to
me as if a door were bursting open in my heart and making it free, and
as if a thousand voices in my soul were singing and shouting, ‘There
she is! There is the lady of your heart!’ The closer I approached, the
slower grew my steps, and I saw you standing in the entrance of the
bower in a white dress, loosely covering your noble and charming figure,
a gentle smile playing on your pure, sweet face, golden ringlets flowing
down both sides of your rosy cheeks, and your head wreathed with the
full and fragrant roses which seemed to bend down upon you from the
bower in order to kiss and adorn you, your round white arms only half
covered with clear lace sleeves, and a full-blown rose in your right
hand which you had raised to your waist. And seeing you thus before me,
I believed I had been removed from earth, and it seemed to me I beheld
an angel of innocence and beauty, through whose voice Heaven wished to
greet me. [Footnote: Goethe saw the young princess at the same time, and
speaks of her “divine beauty.”] At last I stood close before you, and in
my fascination I entirely forgot to salute you. I only looked at you.
I only heard those jubilant voices in my heart, singing, ‘There is
your wife--the wife you will love now and forever!’ It was no maudling
sentimentality, but a clear and well-defined consciousness which, like
an inspiration, suddenly moistened my eyes with tears of joy. [Footnote:
The king’s own words, vide Bishop Eylert’s work, vol. ii., p. 22.]
Oh, Louisa, why am I no painter to perpetuate that sublime moment in a
beautiful and glorious picture? But what I cannot do, shall be tried
by others. A true artist shall render and eternize that moment for me,
[Footnote: This painting was afterward executed, and may now be seen at
the royal palace of Berlin. The whole account of the first meeting of
the two lovers is based upon the communication the king made himself to
Bishop Eylert] so that one day when we are gone, our son may look up to
the painting and say: ‘Such was my mother when my father first saw her.
He believed he beheld an angel, and he was not mistaken, for she was the
guardian angel of his whole life.’”

“Oh! you make me blush--you make me too happy, too happy!” exclaimed the
queen, closing her husband’s lips with a burning kiss.

“Don’t praise me too much, lest I should become proud and overbearing.”

The king gently shook his head. “Only the stupid, the guilty, and the
base are proud and overbearing,” he said. “But, whoever has seen you,
Louisa, on the day of your first arrival in Berlin, will never forget
your sweet image in its radiance of grace, modesty, and loveliness.
It was on a Sunday, a splendid clear day in winter, the day before
Christmas, which was to become the greatest holiday of my life. A vast
crowd had gathered in front of the Arsenal Unter den Linden. Every one
was anxious to see you. At the entrance of the Linden, not far from
the Opera-Place, a splendid triumphal arch had been erected, and here a
committee of the citizens and a number of little girls were to welcome
you to Berlin. In accordance with the rules of court etiquette, I was to
await your arrival at the palace. But my eagerness to see you would not
suffer me to remain there. Closely muffled in my military cloak, my cap
drawn down over my face, in order not to be recognized by anybody, I had
gone out among the crowd and, assisted by a trusty servant, obtained
a place behind one of the pillars of the triumphal arch. Suddenly
tremendous cheers burst forth from a hundred thousand throats, thousands
of arms were waving white handkerchiefs from the windows and roofs of
the houses, the bells were rung, the cannon commenced thundering,
for you had just crossed the Brandenburger Gate. Alighting from
your carriage, you walked up the Linden with your suite, the wildest
enthusiasm greeting every step you made, and finally you entered the
triumphal arch, not suspecting how near I was to you, and how fervently
my heart was yearning for you. A number of little girls in white, with
myrtle-branches in their hands, met you there; and one of them, bearing
a myrtle-wreath on an embroidered cushion, presented it to you and
recited a simple and touching poem. Oh, I see even now, how your eyes
were glowing, how a profound emotion lighted up your features, and how,
overpowered by your feelings, you bent down to the little girl, clasped
her in your arms and kissed her eyes and lips. But behind you there
stood the mistress of ceremonies, Countess von Voss, pale with
indignation, and trembling with horror at this unparalleled occurrence.
She hastily tried to draw you back, and in her amazement she cried
almost aloud, ‘Good Heaven! how could your royal highness do that just
now? It was contrary to good-breeding and etiquette!’ Those were harsh
and inconsiderate words, but in your happy mood you did not feel hurt,
but quietly and cheerfully turned around to her and asked innocently and
honestly. ‘What! cannot I do so any more?’ [Footnote: Eylert, vol. ii.,
p.79.] Oh, Louisa, at that moment, and in consequence of your charming
question, my eyes grew moist, and I could hardly refrain from rushing
out of the crowd and pressing you to my heart, and kissing your eyes and
lips as innocently and chastely as you had kissed those of the little
girl.”

“See,” said the king, drawing a deep breath, and pausing for a minute,
“those are the two great days of my life, and as you ask me now, what you
ought to do in order to win the love of your people, I reply to you
once more: Remain what you are, so that these beautiful pictures of you,
which are engraved upon my heart, may always resemble you, and you will
be sure to win all hearts. Oh, my Louisa, your task is an easy one, you
only have to be true to yourself, you only have to follow your faithful
companions the Graces, and success will never fail you. My task,
however, is difficult, and I shall have to struggle not only with the
evil designs, the malice, and stupidity of others, but with my own
inexperience, my want of knowledge, and a certain irresolution,
resulting, however, merely from a correct appreciation of what I am
lacking.”

The queen with a rapid gesture placed her hand upon the king’s shoulder.

“You must be more self-reliant, for you may safely trust yourself,”
 she said, gravely. “Who could be satisfied with himself, if you were to
despair? What sovereign could have the courage to grasp the sceptre, if
your hands should shrink back from it?--your hands, as free from guilt
and firm and strong as those of a true man should be! I know nothing
about politics, and shall never dare to meddle with public affairs
and to advise you in regard to them; but I know and feel that you will
always be guided by what you believe to be the best interests of your
people, and that you never will deviate from that course. The spirit of
the Great Frederick is looking upon you; he will guide and bless you!”

The king seemed greatly surprised by these words.

“Do you divine my thoughts, Louisa?” he asked. “Do you know my soul
has been with him all the morning--that I thus conversed with him and
repeated to myself every thing he said to me one day in a great and
solemn hour. Oh, it was indeed a sacred hour, and never have I spoken
of it to anybody, for every word would have looked to me like a
desecration. But you, my noble wife, you can only consecrate and
sanctify the advice I received in that momentous hour; and as I am
telling you to-day about my most glorious reminiscences, you shall hear
also what Frederick the Great once said to me.”

The queen nodded approvingly, raising her head from his shoulder and
folding her hands on her lap as if she were going to pray.

The king paused for a moment, and seemed to reflect.

“In 1785,” he then said, “on a fine, warm summer day, I met the king in
the garden at Sans-Souci. I was a youth of fifteen years at that time,
strolling carelessly through the shrubbery and humming a song, when I
suddenly beheld the king, who was seated on the bench under the large
beech-tree, at no great distance from the Japanese palace. He was alone;
two greyhounds were lying at his feet, in his hands he held his old
cane, and his head reposed gently on the trunk of the beech-tree. A
last beam of the setting sun was playing on his face, and rendered his
glorious eyes even more radiant. I stood before him in reverential awe,
and he gazed upon me with a kindly smile. Then he commenced examining me
about my studies, and finally he drew a volume of La Fontaine’s ‘Fables’
from his pocket, opened the book and asked me to translate the fable
on the page he showed me. I did so--but when he afterward was going to
praise me for the skill with which I had rendered it, I told him it was
but yesterday that I had translated the same fable under the supervision
of my teacher. A gentle smile immediately lighted up his face, and
tenderly patting my cheeks, he said to me, in his sonorous, soft voice:
‘That is right, my dear Fritz, always be honest and upright. Never try
to seem what you are not--always be more than what you seem!’ I never
forgot that exhortation, and I have always abhorred falsehood and
hypocrisy.”

The queen gently laid her hand upon his heart. “Your eye is honest,”
 she said, “and so is your heart. My Frederick is too proud and brave to
utter a lie. And what did you say to your great ancestor?”

“I? He spoke to me--I stood before him and listened. He admonished me
to be industrious, never to believe that I had learned enough; never
to stand still, but always to struggle on. After that he arose and,
conversing with me all the time, slowly walked down the avenue leading
to the garden gate. All at once he paused, and leaning upon his cane,
his piercing eyes looked at me so long and searchingly, that his glance
deeply entered into my heart. ‘Well, Fritz,’ he said, ‘try to become a
good man, a good man par excellence. Great things are in store for you.
I am at the end of my career, and my task is about accomplished. I
am afraid that things will go pell-mell when I am dead. A portentous
fermentation is going on everywhere, and the sovereigns, especially the
King of France, instead of calming it and extirpating the causes that
have produced it, unfortunately are deluded enough to fan the flame.
The masses below commence moving already, and when the explosion finally
takes place, the devil will be to pay. I am afraid your own position
one day will be a most difficult one. Arm yourself, therefore, for the
strife!--be firm!--think of me! Watch over our honor and our glory!
Beware of injustice, but do not permit any one to treat you unjustly!’
He paused again, and slowly walked on. While deeply moved and conscious
of the importance of the interview, I inwardly repeated every word
he had said, in order to remember them as long as I lived. We had now
reached the obelisk, near the gate of Sans-Souci. The king here gave
me his left hand, and with his uplifted right hand he pointed at the
obelisk. ‘Look at it,’ he said, loudly and solemnly; ‘the obelisk is
tall and slender, and yet it stands firm amid the most furious storms.
It says to you: Ma force est ma droiture. The culmination, the highest
point overlooks and crowns the whole; it does not support it, however,
but is supported by the whole mass underlying it, especially by the
invisible foundation, deeply imbedded in the earth. This supporting
foundation is the people in its unity. Always be on the side of the
people, so that they will love and trust you, as they alone can render
you strong and happy.’ He cast another searching glance upon me, and
gave me his hand. When I bent over it in order to kiss it, he imprinted
a kiss on my forehead. ‘Don’t forget this hour,’ he said kindly, nodding
to me. He turned around, and accompanied by his greyhounds, slowly
walked up the avenue again. [Footnote: The king’s own account to Bishop
Eylert, in the latter’s work, vol. i., p. 466.] I never forgot that
hour, and shall remember it as long as I live.”

“And the spirit of the great Frederick will be with you and remain with
you,” said the queen, deeply moved.

“Would to God it were so!” sighed the king. “I know that I am weak and
inexperienced; I stand in need of wise and experienced advisers; I--”

A rap at the door interrupted the king, and on his exclaiming,
“Come in!” the door was opened and the court marshal appeared on the
threshold.

“I humbly beg your majesty’s pardon for venturing to disturb you,” he
said, bowing reverentially; “but I must request your majesty to decide a
most important domestic matter--a matter that brooks no delay.”

“Well, what is it?” said the king, rising and walking over to the
marshal.

“Your majesty, it is about the bill of fare for the royal table, and
I beseech your majesty to read and approve the following paper I have
drawn up in regard to it.”

With an obsequious bow, he presented a paper to the king, who read it
slowly and attentively.

“What!” he suddenly asked, sharply, “two courses more than formerly?”

“Your majesty,” replied the marshal, humbly, “it is for the table of a
KING!”

“And you believe that my stomach has grown larger since I am a king?”
 asked Frederick William. “No, sir, the meals shall remain the same as
heretofore, [Footnote: Vide Eylert, vol. i., p. 18] unless,” he said,
politely turning to the queen, “unless you desire a change, my dear?”

The queen archly shook her head. “No,” she said, with a charming smile;
“neither has my stomach grown larger since yesterday.”

“There will be no change, then,” said the king, dismissing the marshal.

“Just see,” he said to the queen, when the courtier had disappeared,
“what efforts they make in order to bring about a change in our simple
and unassuming ways of living; they flatter us wherever they can, and
even try to do so by means of our meals.”

“As for ourselves, however, dearest, we will remember the words of your
great uncle,” said the queen, “and when they overwhelm us on all sides
with their vain and ridiculous demands, we will remain firm and true to
ourselves.”

“Yes, Louisa,” said the king, gravely, “and whatever our new life may
have in store for us, we will remain the same as before.”

Another rap at the door was heard, and a royal footman entered.

“Lieutenant-Colonel von Kockeritz, your majesty, requests an audience.”

“Ah, yes, it is time,” said the king, looking at the clock on the
mantel-piece. “I sent him word to call on me at this hour. Farewell,
Louisa, I must not let him wait.”

He bowed to his wife, whose hand he tenderly pressed to his lips, and
turned to the door.

The footman who had meantime stood at the door as straight as an arrow,
waiting for the king’s reply, now hastened to open both folding-doors.

“What!” asked the king, with a deprecating smile, “have I suddenly
grown so much stouter that I can no longer pass out through one door?”
 [Footnote: Ibid., p. 19]

The queen’s eyes followed her husband’s tall and commanding figure with
a proud smile, and then raising her beautiful, radiant eyes with an
indescribable expression to heaven, she whispered: “Oh, what a man I my
husband!” [Footnote: “O, welch em Mann! mem Mann!”--Eylert, vol. ii., p.
107]



CHAPTER XI.

THE YOUNG KING.


The king rapidly walked through the rooms and across the hall,
separating his own apartments from those of the queen. He had scarcely
entered his cabinet, when he opened the door of the ante-room, and
exclaimed:

“Pray, come in, my dear Kockeritz.”

A corpulent little gentleman, about fifty years of age, with a kind,
good-natured face, small, vivacious eyes, denoting an excellent heart,
but little ability, and large, broad lips, which never perhaps had
uttered profound truths, but assuredly many pleasant jests, immediately
appeared on the threshold.

While he was bowing respectfully, the king extended his hand to him.

“You have received my letter, my friend?” he asked.

“Yes, your majesty. I received it yesterday, and I have been studying it
all night.”

“And what are you going to reply to me?” asked the king, quickly. “Are
you ready to accept the position I have tendered to you? Will you become
my conscientious and impartial adviser--my true and devoted friend?”

“Your majesty,” said the lieutenant-colonel, sighing, “I am afraid your
majesty has too good an opinion of my abilities. When I read your truly
sublime letter, my heart shuddered, and I said to myself, ‘The king is
mistaken about you. To fill the position he is offering to you, he needs
a man of the highest ability and wisdom. The king has confounded your
heart with your head.’ Yes, your majesty, my heart is in the right
place; it is brave, bold, and faithful, but my head lacks wisdom and
knowledge. I am not a learned man, your majesty.”

“But you are a man of good common sense and excellent judgment, and
that is worth more to me than profound learning,” exclaimed the king.
“I have observed you for years, and these extended observations have
confirmed my conviction more and more that I was possessing in you a man
who would be able one day to render me the most important services by
his straightforwardness, his unerring judgment, his firm character, and
well-tried honesty. I have a perfect right to trust you implicitly. I am
a young man, as yet too ignorant of the world to rely exclusively upon
myself, and not to fear lest dishonest men, in spite of the most earnest
precautions, should deceive me. Hence every well-meant advice must be
exceedingly welcome to me, and such advice I can expect at your hands.
I pray you, sir, remain my friend, do not change your bearing toward me,
become my adviser. [Footnote: Vide “A letter to Lieutenant-Colonel von
Kockeritz, by Frederick William III.”] Kockeritz, will you reject my
request?”

“No,” exclaimed Herr von Kockeritz; “if that is all your majesty asks
of me, I can promise it and fulfil my promise. Your majesty shall always
find me to be a faithful, devoted, and honest servant.”

“I ask more than that,” said the king, gently. “Not only a faithful
servant, but a devoted FRIEND--a friend who will call my attention to my
short-comings and errors. Assist me with your knowledge of men and human
nature. For nobody is more liable to make mistakes in judging of men
than a prince, and it cannot be otherwise. To a prince no one shows
himself in his true character. Every one tries to fathom the weaknesses
and inclinations of rulers--and then assumes such a mask as seems best
calculated to accomplish his purposes. Hence, I expect you to look
around quietly, without betraying your intentions, for honest and
sagacious men, and to find out what positions they are able to fill in
the most creditable manner.” [Footnote: Ibid.]

“I shall take pains, your majesty, to discover such men,” said Herr von
Kockeritz, gravely. “It seems to me, however, sire, that fortunately you
have got many able and excellent men close at hand, and for that reason
need not look very far for other assistants.”

“To whom do you allude?” exclaimed the king, sharply, and with a slight
frown.

Herr von Kockeritz cast a rapid glance upon the king’s countenance and
seemed to have read his thoughts upon his clouded brow.

“Your majesty,” he said, gravely and slowly, “I do not mean to say any
thing against Wollner, the minister, and his two counsellors, Hermes and
Hiller, nor against Lieutenant-General von Bischofswerder.”

The frown had already disappeared from the king’s brow. Stepping up
to his desk, he seized a piece of paper there, which he handed to his
friend.

“Just read that paper, and tell me what to do about it.”

“Ah, Lieutenant-General von Bischofswerder has sent in his resignation!”
 exclaimed Herr von Kockeritz, when he had read the paper. “Well, I must
confess that the general has a very fine nose, and that he acted most
prudently.”

“You believe, then, I would have dismissed him anyhow?”

“Yes, I believe so, your majesty.”

“And you are right, Kockeritz. This gloomy and bigoted man has done a
great deal of mischief in Prussia, and the genius of our country had
veiled his head and fled before the spirits which Bischofswerder had
called up. Oh, my friend, we have passed through a gloomy, disastrous
period, and seen many evil spirits here, and been tormented by them. But
not another word about it: It does not behoove me to judge the past, for
it does not belong to me. Only the future is mine; and God grant when
it has, in turn, become the past, that it may not judge ME!
Lieutenant-General von Bischofswerder was the friend and confidant of
my lamented father, the king, and in that capacity I must and will honor
him. I shall accept his resignation, but grant him an ample pension.”

“That resolution is highly honorable to your majesty’s heart,” exclaimed
Herr von Kockeritz, feelingly.

“As to Minister Wollner,” said the king, frowning, “in respectful
remembrance of my lamented father’s partiality for him, I shall not at
once dismiss him, but leave it to himself to send in his resignation.
Let him see if he will be able to reconcile himself to the new era,
for a new era, I hope, is to dawn for Prussia--an era of toleration,
enlightenment and true piety, that does not seek faction in mere
lip-service and church-going, but in good and pious deeds. Religion is
not an offspring of the church, but the reverse is true; the church
is an offspring of religion, and the church therefore, ought to be
subordinate to religion, and never try to place itself above it.
Henceforth there shall be no more compulsion in matters of faith, and
all fanatical persecutions shall cease. I honor religion myself; I
devoutly follow its blessed precepts, and under no circumstances would
I be the ruler of a people devoid of religion. But I know that religion
always must remain a matter of the heart and of personal conviction,
and if it is to promote virtue and righteousness, it must not, by a
mere methodical constraint, be degraded to an empty and thoughtless
ritualism. Hereafter Lutheran principles shall be strictly adhered to in
religious affairs, for they are entirely in harmony with the spirit and
Founder of our religion. No compulsory laws are necessary to maintain
true religion in the country and to increase its salutary influence upon
the happiness and morality of all classes of the people. [Footnote:
Vide “Menael’s Twenty Years of Prussian History,” p. 534.] These, I am
afraid, are principles which Minister Wollner cannot adopt; and if he
is an honest man, he will consequently send in his resignation. If he
should not do so in the course of a few weeks, of course I shall dismiss
him. You see, Kockeritz, I am speaking to you frankly and unreservedly,
as if you were a true friend of mine, and I am treating you already as
my adviser. Now tell me who are the men of whom you wished to speak, and
whom you believe to be able and reliable.”

The face of Herr von Kockeritz assumed an embarrassed and anxious air,
but the king was waiting for an answer, and therefore he could not
withhold it any longer.

“Well, your majesty,” he said, somewhat hesitatingly, “I alluded to the
minister of foreign affairs, Herr von Haugwitz, whom I believe to be
an honest man, while I am equally satisfied that his first assistant,
Lombard, is a man of excellent business qualifications and great
ability.”

The king nodded his assent. “I am entirely of your opinion,” he said;
“Minister von Haugwitz is not only an honest man, but an able-minded and
skilful diplomatist, and an experienced statesman. I stand in need of
his experience and knowledge, and as I moreover believe him to be a good
patriot, he may remain at the head of his department.”

A gleam of joy burst from the eyes of Herr von Kockeritz, but he quickly
lowered them, in order not to betray his feelings.

“As to Lombard,” said the king, “you are likewise right; he is an
excellent and most able man, though a little tinctured with Jacobinism.
His French blood infects him with all sorts of democratic notions. I
wish he would get rid of them, and I shall assist him in doing so, in
case he should prove to be the man I take him for. His position is too
exalted and important that I should not deem it desirable to see him
occupy a place in society in accordance with the old established
rules. I want him to apply for letters of nobility. I shall grant the
application at once. Please, tell him so.”

Herr von Kockeritz bowed silently.

“Is there anybody else whom you wish to recommend to me?” asked the king
with an inquiring glance.

“Your majesty,” said Kockeritz, “I do not know of anybody else. But I
am sure your majesty will always find the right man for the right place.
Even in my case, I trust, your majesty has done so, for if it is of
importance for you to have a faithful and devoted servant close to your
person, who values nothing in the world so greatly, who loves nothing so
fervently, and adores nothing so much as his young king, then I am the
right man, and in this regard I do not acknowledge any superior. And
further, if it be of importance that your majesty should at all times
hear the truth, then I am the right man again, for I hate falsehood, and
how should I, therefore, ever be false toward your majesty, inasmuch as
I love your majesty?”

“I believe you, I believe you,” exclaimed the king, taking the
lieutenant-colonel by the hand. “You love me and are an honest man; I
shall, therefore, always hear the truth from you. But you shall inform
yourself also of the state of public opinion concerning myself and my
government, weigh the judgment passed on me and my counsellors, and if
you believe it to be correct, then discuss it with men whom you know
to be impartial and able to speak understandingly of the matter. Having
thus ascertained public opinion and familiarized yourself with every
thing, I expect you to lay the matter before me and tell me your opinion
firmly and unreservedly. I shall never question your good intentions,
but always endeavor to profit by your advice. And I shall now directly
give you a trial. What do you think of the congress which met a few
weeks ago at Eastadt, and at which the German empire is to negotiate a
treaty of peace with France?”

“Your majesty, I believe it will be good for all of us to live at peace
with France,” exclaimed Herr von Kockeritz, earnestly. “If Prussia
should quarrel with France, it would only afford Austria an opportunity
to carry out its long-standing designs upon Bavaria, while Prussia would
be occupied elsewhere; and in order not to be hindered by Prussia in
doing so, Austria, who now has just concluded so favorable a treaty of
peace with France at Campo Formio, would become the ally of France and
thus strengthen her old hostility toward Prussia. A war between Austria
and Prussia would be the unavoidable consequence; the whole of Germany
would dissolve itself into parties favorable or hostile to us, and this
state of affairs would give France an opportunity and a pretext to carry
out her own predatory designs against Germany; and, while we would be
fighting battles perhaps in Silesia and Bavaria, to seize the left bank
of the Rhine.”

“I am entirely of your opinion,” exclaimed the king. “I am very glad to
find my views in complete harmony with yours.”

It is true Lieutenant-Colonel von Kockeritz was well aware of this, for
all he had said just now was nothing but a repetition of what the king,
while yet a crown prince, had often told him in their confidential
conversations. But of this he took good care not to remind the king, and
merely bowed with a grateful smile.

“Yes,” added the king, “like you, I believe prudence and sound policy
command us to remain at peace with France, and to form a closer alliance
with this power. That is the only way for us to prevent Austria
from realizing her schemes of aggrandizement Austria, not France, is
dangerous to us; the latter is our natural ally, and the former our
natural adversary. Every step forward made by Austria in Germany, forces
Prussia a step backward. Let Austria enlarge her territory in the south,
toward Italy, but never shall I permit her to extend her northern and
western frontiers farther into Germany. The peace of Campo Formio has
given Venice to the Austrians but they never shall acquire Bavaria.
It is Prussia’s special task to induce France not to permit it, and,
precisely for that reason, we must force a closer alliance with France.
That, my dear Kockeritz, is my view of the political course that we
should pursue in future. Peace abroad and peace at home! No violent
commotions and convulsions, no rash innovations and changes. New
institutions should gradually and by their own inherent force grow from
the existing ones, for only in that case we may be sure that they
really have taken root. I shall not head the world in the capacity of a
creative and original reformer, but I shall always take pains to adopt
such reforms as have proven valuable, and gradually to transform
and improve such institutions as at present may be defective and
objectionable. And in all these endeavors, my dear Kockeritz, you shall
be my adviser and assistant. Will you promise me your aid?”

He looked earnestly and anxiously at the lieutenant-colonel and gave him
his hand.

“I promise it to your majesty,” exclaimed Herr von Kockeritz, gravely,
and grasping the king’s hand.

“Well,” said the king, “with this solemn pledge you may enter upon
your official position, and I am satisfied that my choice has been a
judicious one. Remain what you are, sir, an upright, honest man! As far
as I am concerned, you may always be sure of my heart-felt gratitude; on
the other hand, however, you should remember that you not only oblige
me personally, but that I request you, as it were, in the name of the
state, to labor for the latter. At some future time you will gain the
sweet conviction and satisfaction that you have done not a little for
the welfare of the commonwealth and thereby earned the thankfulness of
every well-meaning patriot. I am sure there cannot be a sweeter reward
for a man of true honor and ambition like yourself.”[Footnote: Vide the
king’s letter to Lieutenant-Colonel von Kockeritz]



CHAPTER XII.

FREDERICK GENTZ.


It was yet early in the morning; the blinds of all the windows in the
Taubenstrasse were as yet firmly closed, and only in a single house
an active, bustling life prevailed. At its door there stood a heavy
travelling-coach which a footman was busily engaged in loading with a
large number of trunks, boxes, and packages. In the rooms of the first
story people were very active; industrious hands were assiduously
occupied with packing up things generally; straw was wrapped around the
furniture, and then covered with linen bags. The looking-glasses and
paintings were taken from the walls and laid into wooden boxes, the
curtains were removed from the windows, and every thing indicated that
the inmates of the house were not only about to set out on a journey,
but entirely to give up their former mode of living.

Such was really the case, and while the servants filled the anterooms
and the halls with the noise of their preparations, those for whom all
this bustle and activity took place were in their parlor, in a grave and
gloomy mood.

There were two of them--a lady, scarcely twenty-four years of age, and
a gentleman, about twelve years older. She was a delicate and lovely
woman, with a pale, sad face, while he was a vigorous, stout man with
full, round features, and large vivacious eyes which at present tried
to look grave and afflicted without being able to do so; she wore a
travelling-dress, while his was an elegant morning costume.

Both of them had been silent for awhile, standing at the window, or
rather at different windows, and witnessing the removal of the trunks
and packages to the travelling-coach. Finally, the lady, with a deep
sigh, turned from the window and approached the gentleman who had
likewise stepped back into the room.

“I believe the trunks are all in the carriage, and I can set out now,
Frederick,” she said, in a low and tremulous voice.

He nodded, and extended his hand toward her. “And you are not angry with
me, Julia?” he asked.

She did not take his hand, but only looked up to him with eyes full of
eloquent grief. “I am not angry,” she said. “I pray to God that He may
forgive you.”

“And will YOU forgive me, too, Julia? For I know I have sinned
grievously against you. I have made you shed many tears--I have rendered
you wretched and miserable for two years, and these two years will cast
a gray shadow over your whole future. When you first entered this room,
you were an innocent young girl with rosy cheeks and radiant eyes, and
now, as you leave it forever, you are a poor, pale woman with a broken
heart and dimmed eyes.”

“A DIVORCED wife, that is all,” she whispered, almost inaudibly. “I came
here with a heart overflowing with happiness--I leave you now with a
heart full of wretchedness. I came here with the joyous resolution and
fixed purpose to render you a happy husband, and I leave you now with
the painful consciousness that I have not bestowed upon you that
happiness which I sought so earnestly to obtain for myself. Ah, it is
very sad and bitter to be under the necessity of accepting this as the
only result of two long years!”

“Yes, it is very sad,” he said, sighing. “But after all, it is no fault
of ours. There was a dissonance in our married life from the start, and
for that reason there never could be any genuine harmony between us.
This dissonance--well, at the present hour I may confess it to you,
too--this dissonance simply was the fact that I never loved you!”

A convulsive twitching contracted the pale lips of the poor lady. “You
were a great hypocrite, then,” she whispered, “for your words, your
solemn vows never made me suspect it.”

“Yes, I was a hypocrite, a wretch, a coward!” he exclaimed,
impetuously. “They overwhelmed me with exhortations, supplications, and
representations. They knew so well to flatter me with the idea that the
beautiful, wealthy, and much-courted heiress, Julia Gilly, had fallen
in love with me, the poor, unknown Frederick Gentz, the humble military
counsellor. They knew so well to depict to me the triumph I would
obtain by marrying you, to the great chagrin of all your other suitors.
Flattery intoxicates me, and a success, a triumph over others, fills
me with the wildest delight. My father spoke of my debts, my creditors
threatened me with suits and imprisonment--”

“And thus,” she interrupted him--“thus you sacrificed me to your vanity
and to your debts--you falsely vowed a love to me which you never felt,
and accepted my hand. My father paid your debts, you solemnly promised
to all of us not to incur any new ones, but you utterly broke your
pledges. Instead of squandering hundreds as heretofore, you henceforth
lavished thousands, until my whole maternal property was gone--until my
father, in a towering passion, turned his back upon us and swore
never to see us again. The creditors, the debts, the embarrassments,
reappeared, and as I had no money left with which to extricate you from
your difficulties, you thought you owed me no further respect and were
not under the necessity of remembering that I was your wife. You had
a number of love-affairs, as I knew very well, but was silent.
Love-letters arrived for you, not from one woman with whom you had
fallen in love, but from God knows how many. I was aware of it and was
silent. And when you were finally shameless enough to let the whole
city witness your passion for an actress--when all Berlin spoke
contemptuously of this flame of yours and of the follies you committed
in consequence--then I could be silent no longer, and my honor and
dignity commanded me to apply for a divorce.”

“And every one must acknowledge that you were perfectly right. As a
friend I could not have given you myself any other advice, for I shall
not and cannot alter my nature. I am unable to accustom myself to a
quiet and happy family life--domestic felicity is repulsive to me, and
a feeling of restraint makes me rear and plunge like the noble charger
feeling his bit and bridle for the first time. I can bear no chains,
Julia, not even those of an excellent and affectionate wife such as you
have been to me.”

“You can bear no chains,” she said, bitterly, “and yet you are always
in chains--in the chains of your debts, your love-affairs, and your
frivolity. Oh, listen to me--heed my words for once. They are as solemn
as though they were uttered on a death-bed, for we shall never see each
other again. Fancy a mother were speaking to you--a mother tenderly
loving you. For I confess to you that I still love you, Gentz--my heart
cannot yet break loose from you, and even now that I have to abandon
you, I feel that I shall forever remain tenderly attached to you. Oh,
true love is ever hopeful, and that was the reason why I remained in
your house, although my father had applied for a divorce. I was always
in hopes that your heart would return to me--oh, I did not suspect that
you had never loved me!--and thus I hoped in vain, and must go now, for
our divorce will be proclaimed to-day, and honor forbids me to remain
here any longer. But now that I am going, listen once more to the
warning voice of a friend. Frederick Gentz, turn back! Pursue no longer
the slippery path of frivolity and voluptuousness. Break loose from the
meshes of pleasures and sensuality. God has given you a noble mind, a
powerful intellect--make good use of your surpassing abilities. Become
as great and illustrious as Providence has intended you if you but be
true to yourself. See, I believe in you, and although you only seem to
live for pleasure and enjoyment, I know you are destined to accomplish
great things, provided you strive to do so. Oh, let me beseech you to
change your course, and to emerge from this whirlpool of dissipation
and profligacy. Close your ears to the alluring songs of the sirens, and
listen to the sublime voices resounding in your breast and calling you
to the path of glory and honor. Follow them, Frederick Gentz--be a man,
do not drift any longer aimlessly in an open boat, but step on a proud
and glorious ship, grasp the helm and steer it out upon the ocean. You
are the man to pilot the ship, and the ocean will obey you, and you will
get into port loaded with riches, glory, and honor. Only make an effort.
Remember my words, and now, Frederick Gentz, in order to live happily,
never remember me!”

She turned round and hastily left the room. He stood immovable for
several minutes, dreamily gazing after her, while her words were still
resounding in his ears like an inspired prophecy. But when he heard the
carriage roll away on the street, he started, passed his hand across
his quivering face and whispered: “I have deeply wronged her; may God
forgive me!”

Suddenly, however, he drew himself up to his full height, and a gleam of
intense joy burst forth from his eyes. “I am free!” he exclaimed, loudly
and in a tone of exultation. “Yes, I am free! My life and the world
belong to me again. All women are mine again, Cupid and all the gods of
love will boldly flit toward me, for they need not conceal themselves
any longer from the face of a husband strolling on forbidden grounds,
nor from the spying eyes of a jealous wife. Life is mine again, and
I will enjoy it; yes I enjoy it. I will enjoy it like fragrant wine
pressed to our lips in a golden goblet, sparkling with diamonds. Ah, how
they are hammering and battering in the anteroom! Every stroke of
theirs is a note of the glorious song of my liberty. The furniture of my
household is gone; the pictures and looking-glasses are all gone--gone.
The past and every thing reminding me thereof shall disappear from these
rooms. I will have new furniture--furniture of gold and velvet, large
Venetian mirrors, and splendid paintings. Oh, my rooms shall look as
glorious and magnificent as those of a prince, and all Berlin shall
speak of the splendor and luxury of Frederick Gentz. And to whom shall
I be indebted for it? Not to any wife’s dower, but to myself--to myself
alone, to my talents, to my genius! Oh, in regard to this at least, poor
Julia shall not have been mistaken. I shall gain fame, and glory, and
honors; my name shall become a household word throughout all Europe; it
shall reecho in every cabinet; every minister shall have recourse to
me, and--hark! What’s that?” he suddenly interrupted himself. “I really
believe they are quarrelling in the anteroom.”

Indeed, a violent altercation was heard outside. Suddenly the door was
pushed open, and a vigorous, broad-shouldered man, with a flushed and
angry face, appeared on the threshold.

“Well,” he exclaimed, with a bitter sneer, turning to the footman who
stood behind him, “was I not right when I told you that Mr. Counsellor
Gentz was at home? You would not announce me, because your master had
ordered you not to admit any visitors of my class. But I want to be
admitted. I will not permit myself to be shown out of the anteroom like
a fool, while the counsellor here is snugly sitting on his sofa laughing
at me.”

“You see, my dear Mr. Werner, I am neither sitting on my sofa nor
laughing at you,” said Gentz, slowly approaching his angry visitor. “And
now let me ask you what you want of me.”

“What I want of you?” replied the stranger, with a sneer. “Sir, you know
very well what I want of you. I want my money! I want the five hundred
dollars you have been owing me for the last twelve months. I trusted
your word and your name; I furnished you my best wines--my choicest
champagne and the most exquisite delicacies for your dinner parties. You
have treated your friends; that was all right enough, but it should have
been done at your expense, and not at mine. For that reason I am here,
and you must pay me. For the hundredth and last time, I demand my
money!”

“And if I now tell you for the hundredth, but not the last time, that I
have not got any money?”

“Then I shall go to the war department and attach your salary.”

“Ah, my dear friend, there you would be altogether too late,” exclaimed
Gentz, laughing. “My honorable landlord has outstripped you as far as
that is concerned; he has attached my salary for a whole year, and I
believe it is even insufficient to cover what I owe him.”

“But in the d--l’s name, sir, you must find some other means of
satisfying my claim, for I tell you I shall not leave this room without
getting my money.”

“My dear Mr. Werner, pray do not shout so dreadfully,” said Gentz,
anxiously; “my ears are very sensitive, and such shouting terrifies me
as much as a thunderstorm. I am quite willing to pay you, only point out
to me a way to do it!”

“Borrow money of other people and then pay me!”

“My dear sir, that is a way I have exhausted long ago. There is no one
willing to advance me money either on interest or on my word of honor.”

“But how in the d--l’s name are you going to pay me then, sir?”

“That is exactly what I don’t know yet, but after a while I shall know,
and that time will come very soon. For I tell you, sir, these days of
humiliations and debts will soon cease for me. I shall occupy an exalted
and brilliant position; the young king will give it to me, and--”

“Fiddlesticks!” exclaimed Wemer, interrupting him; “do not feed me with
such empty hopes after I have fed you with delicacies and quenched your
thirst with my champagne.”

“My dear sir, I have not partaken all alone of your good cheer; my
friends have helped me, and now you ask me alone to pay the whole bill.
That is contrary to natural law and to political economy.”

“Mr. Counsellor, are you mocking me with your political economy? What do
you know about economy?”

“Ah, I am quite familiar with it, and my book on English finances has
brought me fame and honor.”

“It would have been better for you, Mr. Counsellor, if you had attended
to your own finances. All Berlin knows in what condition they are.”
 “Nevertheless, there were always excellent men putting a noble trust in
me, and believing that I would repay the money I borrowed of them. You
are one of those excellent men, Mr. Werner, and I shall never forget it.
Have a little patience, and I will pay you principal and interest.”

“I cannot wait, Mr. Counsellor. I am in the greatest embarrassment
myself; I have to redeem large notes in the course of a few days,
and unless I can do so I am lost, my whole family is ruined, and my
reputation gone; then I must declare myself insolvent, and suffer people
to call me an impostor and villain, who incurs debts without knowing
wherewith to pay them. Sir, I shall never suffer this, and therefore I
must have my money, and I will not leave this room until you have paid
my claim in full.”

“In that case, my dear sir, I am afraid you will have to remain here and
suffer the same distressing fate as Lot’s unfortunate wife--”

“Sir, pray be serious, for my business here is of a very serious
character. Five hundred dollars is no trifle; a man may squander them in
a few days, but they may cause him also to commit suicide. Pay me, sir,
pay me; I want my money!”

“For God’s sake, do not shout in this manner. I told you once already
that I cannot stand it. I know very well that five hundred dollars is
a serious matter, and that you must have your money. I will make an
effort, nay, I will do my utmost to get it for you; but you must be
quiet. I pledge you my word that I will exert myself to the best of my
power in order to obtain that amount for you, but in return you must
promise me to go home quietly and peaceably, and to wait there until I
bring you the money.”

“What are you going to do? How are you going to get the money? You told
me just now you were unable to borrow any thing.”

“But somebody may give me those miserable five hundred dollars, and it
seems to me that would do just as well.”

“Oh, you are laughing at me.”

“By no means, sir. Just be still and let me write a letter. I will
afterward show you the address, and thereby let you know from whom I am
expecting assistance.”

He walked rapidly to his desk, penned a few lines, and placed the paper
in a large envelope, which he sealed and directed.

“Read the address,” he said, showing the letter to Mr. Werner.

“To his excellency the minister of the treasury, Count von
Schulenburg-Kehnert, general of artillery,” read Werner, with a
hesitating tongue, and casting astonished and inquisitive glances upon
Gentz. “And this is the distinguished gentleman to whom you apply for
the money. Mr. Counsellor?”

“Yes, my friend; and you must confess that a minister of finance is the
best man to apply to for money. I have written to his excellency that I
stand in urgent need of five hundred dollars today, and I request him to
extricate me from my embarrassment. I ask him to appoint an hour during
the forenoon when I may call upon him and get the money.”

“And you really believe that he will give you the money?”

“My dear sir, I am perfectly sure of it, and in order to satisfy
you likewise, I will make a proposition. Accompany my footman to the
minister’s house, carry the letter to him yourself, and hear his reply.
You may then repeat this reply to my footman, go home in good spirits,
and wait there until I bring you the money.”

“And if you should fail to come?” asked Werner.

“Then that last remedy you alluded to, suicide, always remains to you.
Now go, my dear sir. John! John!”

The footman opened the door with a rapidity indicating that his ears
probably had not been very far from the keyhole.

“John,” said Gentz, “accompany this gentleman to the house of Minister
Schulenburg-Kehnert, and wait at the door for the reply he will repeat
to you. And now, Mr. Werner, good-by; you see I have done all I can, and
I hope you will remember that in future, and not make so much noise for
the sake of a few miserable dollars. Good gracious, if I did not owe any
one more than you, my creditors might thank their stars--”

“Poor creditors!” sighed Mr. Werner, saluting Gentz, and left the room
with the footman, holding the letter like a trophy in his hand.



CHAPTER XIII.

THE INTERVIEW WITH THE MINISTER OF FINANCE.


“Well, I am really anxious to know whether the minister will give me the
money,” murmured Gentz; “his reply will indicate to me, if the letter
to the king I intrusted yesterday to Menken, has made a favorable
impression, and if I may hope at length for promotion and other favors.
My God, I am pining away in my present miserable and subordinate
position! I am able to accomplish greater things. I am worth more than
all these generals, ministers, and ambassadors, who are so proud and
overbearing, and dare to look down upon me as though I were their
inferior. Ah! I shall not stoop so low as to knuckle to them and flatter
them. I don’t want to be lifted up by them, but I will be their equal.
I feel that I am the peer of the foremost and highest of all these
so-called statesmen. I do not need them, but they need me. Ah, my God!
somebody knocks at the door again, and John is not at home. Good Heaven,
if it should be another of those noisy, impertinent creditors! I am
indebted to Julia for all these vexations. Because her things are being
sent away, every door in the house is open, and every one can easily
penetrate into my room. Yes, yes, I am coming. I am already opening the
door.”

He hastened to the door and unlocked it. This time, however, no creditor
was waiting outside, but a royal footman, who respectfully bowed to the
military counsellor.

“His royal highness Prince Louis Ferdinand,” he said, “requests Mr.
Counsellor Gentz to dine with him to-morrow.”

Gentz nodded haughtily. “I shall come,” he said briefly, and then looked
inquiringly at his own footman who had just entered the other room.

“Well, John, what did the minister reply?”

“His excellency requests Mr. Counsellor Gentz to call on him in the
course of an hour.”

“All right!” said Gentz, and an expression of heart-felt satisfaction
overspread his features. He closed the door, and stepped back into his
study, and, folding his hands on his back, commenced pacing the room.

“He is going to receive me in the course of an hour,” he murmured. “I
may conclude, therefore that the king was pleased with my letter, and
that I am at last to enter upon a new career. Ah, now my head is light,
and my heart is free; now I will go to work.”

He sat down at his desk and commenced writing rapidly. His features
assumed a grave expression, and proud and sublime thoughts beamed on his
expansive forehead.

He was so absorbed in his task that he entirely forgot the audience the
minister had granted to him, and his footman had to come in and remind
him that the hour for calling upon his excellency was at hand.

“Ah! to be interrupted in my work for such a miserable trifle,” said
Gentz, indignantly laying down his pen and rising. “Well, then, if it
must be, give me my dress-coat. John, and I will go to his excellency.”

A quarter of an hour later Counsellor Frederick Gentz entered the
anteroom of Count Schulenburg-Kehnert, minister of finance. “Announce
my arrival to his excellency,” he said to the footman in waiting, with
a condescending nod, and then quickly followed him to the door of the
minister’s study.

“Permit me to announce you to his excellency,” said the footman, and
slipped behind the portiere. He returned in a few minutes.

“His excellency requests Mr. Gentz to wait a little while. His
excellency has to attend to a few dispatches yet, but will very soon be
ready to admit Mr. Gentz.”

“Very well, I shall wait,” said Gentz, with a slight frown, and he
approached the splendidly bound books which were piled up in gilt cases
on the walls of the room. The most magnificent and precious works of
ancient and modern literature, the rarest editions, the most superb
illustrated books were united in this library, and Gentz noticed it with
ill-concealed wrath.

“These men can have all these treasures, nay, they have got them, and
value them so little as to keep them in their anterooms,” he murmured,
in a surly tone, forgetting altogether that the footman was present and
could overhear every word he said. He had really heard his remark, and
replied to it, approaching Gentz:

“I beg your pardon, Mr. Counsellor, his excellency does not undervalue
these treasures, but appreciates them highly, and is always glad enough
when the bookbinder delivers new volumes in gorgeous bindings. For this
very reason his excellency has ordered the library to be placed in this
anteroom, so that it also may gladden the hearts of other people, and
those gentlemen who have to wait here may have something wherewith to
while away their time.”

“They are permitted, then, to take the books down and read them?” asked
Gentz.

The footman looked somewhat embarrassed. “I believe,” he said, timidly,
“that would not be altogether agreeable to his excellency, for you see,
Mr. Counsellor, all of these beautiful books are gilt-edged, and gilt
edges suffer greatly if the books are read. You cannot even open the
books without injuring them slightly.”

“And the gilt edges on this row of the books before me are as good as
new, and perfectly uninjured,” said Gentz, gravely.

“Well, that is easily explained. They have not been disturbed since the
bookbinder brought them here,” exclaimed the footman, solemnly. “No one
would dare to handle them.”

“Does not his excellency read these books?”

“God forbid! His excellency likes books, but he has not got time to
read much. But whenever his excellency passes through this anteroom, he
pauses before his bookcases, and looks at them, and, with his own hands,
frequently wipes off the dust from the gilt edges of the books.”

“Indeed, that is a most honorable occupation for a minister of finance,”
 said Gentz, emphatically. “It is always a great consolation to know that
a minister of finance wipes off the dust from the gold. I should be very
happy if his excellency should consent to do that also for me as often
as possible. But does it not seem to you, my dear fellow, that it takes
his excellency a good while to finish those dispatches? It is nearly
half an hour since I have been waiting here.”

“I am sure his excellency will soon ring the bell.”

“Ring the bell?” asked Gentz, uneasily, “for whom?”

“Why, for myself, in order to notify me to admit you, Mr. Counsellor.”

“Ah, for you?” asked Gentz, drawing a deep breath, and turning once more
to the books in order to while away the time by reading at least
the titles, as he was not permitted to take down and open one of the
magnificent volumes.

Time passed on in this manner, and Gentz was walking up and down
near the bookcases, studying the titles, and waiting. The footman had
withdrawn into the most remote window, and was waiting likewise.

Suddenly the large clock commenced striking solemnly and slowly, and
announced to Gentz that he had been a whole hour in his excellency’s
anteroom. And his excellency had not yet rung the bell.

At this moment Gentz turned toward the footman with a gesture of
indignation and impatience.

“I am satisfied that his excellency has entirely forgotten that I am
waiting here in the anteroom,” he said, angrily. “The dispatches must
be quite lengthy, for I have been here now for an hour already! Hence I
must beg you to inform the minister that I cannot wait any longer, for
I am quite busy too, and have to return to my study. Please say that to
his excellency.”

“But can I dare to disturb his excellency?” asked the footman,
anxiously. “He has not rung the bell, sir.”

“Well, you must be kind enough to disturb him and tell him I must leave
unless he can admit me at once,” exclaimed Gentz, energetically. “Go,
sir, go!”

The footman sighed deeply. “Well, I will do so at your risk, Mr.
Counsellor,” he said, in a low voice, stepping behind the portiere. He
soon returned, a malicious smile playing on his lips.

“His excellency regrets that you cannot wait any longer, Mr.
Counsellor,” he said. “His excellency being so busy that he cannot be
disturbed, he requests you to call again to-morrow at the same hour.”

“So his excellency dismisses me after detaining me here in the anteroom
for more than an hour?” asked Gentz, incredulously.

“His excellency is overwhelmed with unexpected business,” said the
footman, with a shrug of his shoulders. “His excellency therefore
requests you, Mr. Counsellor, to call again to-morrow.”

Gentz cast upon the footman a glance which would have shivered him like
a thunderbolt if he had not been a man of stone. But being a man of
stone, the thunderbolt harmlessly glanced off from him. With a peculiar
smile, he assisted the enraged counsellor in putting on his cloak,
handed him his hat with a polite bow, and then hastened to the door in
order to open it to him.

At this moment the minister in his study rang the bell loudly and
violently. The footman quickly opened the door leading to the hall, and,
with a polite gesture, invited Gentz to step out. The latter, however,
did not stir. He had hastily placed his hat on his head and was now
putting on his gloves with as grave an air as if they were gauntlets
with which he was going to arm himself for the purpose of stepping out
into the arena.

The minister’s bell resounded even louder and more violently than
before.

“I beg your pardon, Mr. Counsellor,” the footman exclaimed, impatiently,
“his excellency is calling me. Be kind enough to close the door when you
leave. I must go to his excellency.”

He hurriedly crossed the room and hastened into the minister’s study.

Gentz now put on his gloves and approached the door. He bent one more
glance full of anger upon the anteroom, and finally fixed his eyes
upon the glittering books in the cases on the wall. An expression of
malicious joy suddenly overspread his features. He drew back from the
door, and hurriedly crossing the room, he approached the books. Without
any hesitation whatever, he took down one of the largest and most richly
ornamented volumes, concealed the book under his cloak, hastened back to
the door, and left the house of the minister of finance with a haughty
and defiant air.

Without nodding or greeting any one, he hastened through the streets
back to his own house. At the door of the latter there stood two huge
furniture-wagons, half filled with the sofas, arm-chairs, tables, and
looking-glasses which heretofore had adorned his rooms, and which he was
now going to lose with his wife.

The servants had not finished removing the furniture, and he had to
pause in the hall in order to let them pass with the large silken
sofa which had been the chief ornament of his own parlor. This greatly
increased his anger; with furious gestures he rapidly ascended the
staircase and went to his rooms. Every door was open--the apartments
which he crossed with ringing steps, were empty and deserted, and
finally he reached the door of his study, where his footman had posted
himself like a faithful sentinel. Gentz silently beckoned him to open
it, and entered. But when the servant was going to follow him, he
silently but imperiously kept him back, and slammed the door in his
face.

Now at last he was alone; now no one could see and watch him any longer;
now he could utter the cry of rage that was filling his breast and
almost depriving him of the power of speech; and after uttering this
cry, he could appease his wrath still in some other way.

He threw his cloak and hat upon a chair, seized the splendidly bound
and richly gilt volume from the minister’s library with both hands and
hurled it upon the floor.

“Lie there, toy of a proud minister!” he exclaimed furiously. “I will
treat you as I would like to treat him. I will abuse you as I would like
to abuse him. There! take this! and this! and that!”

And he stamped with his heels upon the magnificent work, clinching his
fists and swearing fearfully. [Footnote: Vide “Gallerie von Bildnissen
aus Rahel’s Umgang,” edited by Varnhagen von Ense, vol ii., p 168.]

A loud and merry laugh was heard behind him, and upon turning round he
beheld in the door one of his friends, who was looking at him with a
radiant face.

“Herr von Gualtieri, you laugh, and I am furious,” exclaimed Gentz,
stamping again upon the costly volume.

“But why, for God’s sake, are you furious?” asked Herr von Gualtieri.
“Why do you perpetrate such vandalism upon that magnificent volume under
your feet?”

“Why? Well, I will tell you. I was to-day at the house of Count
Schulenburg-Kehnert; he had sent me word to call on him at ten o’clock,
and when I was there, he made me stand for an hour in his anteroom like
his gorgeous, gilt-edged books, which his footman told me he never opens
because he is afraid of injuring their gilt edges.”

“And did he admit you after you had been in the anteroom for an hour?”

“No. When I had been there for an hour, he sent me word through his
footman that he was too busy to receive me, and that I had better call
again to-morrow. Bah! He wanted to treat me like those books of his,
which he never opens; he did not want to open me either--me, a man who
has got more mind, more knowledge, and information than all his books
together. He made me wait in his anteroom for a whole hour, and then
dismissed me!”

“And you allowed yourself to be dismissed?”

“Yes, sir, I did; but I took one of his splendid gilt-edged volumes
along, in order to stamp on it and maltreat it, as I would like to
maltreat him. Thus! and thus! To crush it under my heels. It does me
good. It relieves me. At this moment this is the only revenge I can
take against the miserable fellow.” [Footnote: Gentz’s own words. Vide
“Rahel’s Umgang,” vol ii., p. 168.]

Herr von Gualtieri laughed uproariously. “Ah! that is an entirely
novel jus gentium,” he exclaimed; “an exceedingly funny jus gentium. My
friend, let me embrace you; you are a glorious fellow!”

With open arms he approached Gentz and pressed him tenderly, laughing
all the while, to his heart.

Gentz was unable to withstand this kindness and this laughter, and
suddenly forgetting his anger, he boisterously joined his friend’s
mirth.

“You like my revenge?” he asked.

“Ah! it is admirable; it is the revenge of a genuine Corsican!” said
Gualtieri, gravely.

“Of a Corsican?” asked Gentz, shrinking back. “That is an ugly
comparison, sir. I do not want to have any thing in common with that
Corsican, General Bonaparte. I tell you I am afraid that man will some
day prove a terrible scourge for us.”

“And I adore him!” exclaimed Gualtieri. “He is the resuscitated
Alexander of Macedon, the conqueror of the world, the master of the
world. He alone has stemmed the tide of revolution in France. To
him alone the French are indebted for the restoration of order and
tranquillity in their country. The thirteenth of Vendemiaire is as
heroic a deed, as great a victory, as the battles of Lodi and Arcole.”

“That may be,” said Gentz, morosely. “I am no soldier, and do not like
battles and warfare. And what do we Germans care for the Corsican?
Have we not got enough to do at home? Germany, however, is so happy and
contented that, like the Pharisee, she may look upon republican France
and exclaim: ‘I thank thee, my God, that I am not like this man.’”

“You are right,” replied Gualtieri. “We also stand in need of a
revolution. In Germany, too, a guillotine must be erected--heads must
fall, and death must hold its bloody harvest.”

“Hush, my friend, hush!” said Gentz, drawing back in dismay. “Did you
merely come to me for the purpose of speaking of such dreadful matters,
while you are well aware that I don’t like to hear anybody allude to
bloodshed, murders, and similar horrors?”

“I merely wanted to try you a little in order to see whether you are
still the same dear old childish coward,” exclaimed Gualtieri, laughing.
“The same great child with the strong, manly soul, and the gentle, weak,
and easily moved child’s heart. Now, let me know quickly what you wanted
of the minister of finance, and I shall reward you then by telling you
some good news. Well, then, what did you want of Schulenburg?”

“I had asked him to lend me five hundred dollars, and to appoint an hour
when I might call for the money. He named ten o’clock, and I went to his
house, merely to leave it an hour after in a towering passion and with
empty hands. Oh, it is infamous, it is dreadful! It is--”

At that moment the door opened, and the footman entered.

“From his excellency. General von Schulenburg-Kehnert,” he said,
delivering to Gentz a small sealed package and a letter. “The servant
who brought it has left, as he said no reply was required.”

Gentz beckoned his servant to withdraw, and he then hastily opened the
package.

“Twelve fifty-dollar bills!” he exclaimed, triumphantly. “One hundred
dollars more than I had asked for! That is very kind, indeed.”

“May be he does not give it to you, but merely lends it to you,” said
Gualtieri, smiling.

“Lend it to me!” exclaimed Gentz, scornfully. “People don’t lend any
money to me, because they know that I am unable to pay it back; people
reward me, sir; they show their gratitude toward me in a substantial
manner, but they are not so mean as to lend me what I ask for.”

“Does the minister tell you so in his letter?” asked Gualtieri, dryly.

“Ah! that is true. I have not yet read the letter,” said Gentz, breaking
the seal. While he was reading it, a slight blush suffused his cheeks,
and an expression of shame overspread his features. “Here, read it,” he
murmured, handing the letter to his friend.

Gualtieri took it and read as follows:

“My Dear Counsellor,--You wished to see me, and I begged you to call at
ten o’clock, although I was overwhelmed with business and hardly had any
time to spare. Precisely at ten o’clock I was ready to receive you,
for in all matters of business I am a very punctual man. However, after
vainly waiting for you for half an hour, I resumed my work. I had to
examine some very complicated accounts, and could not allow myself to be
interrupted after once taking them up. Hence I had to ask you to
wait, and when, after waiting for half an hour, like myself, you grew
impatient and would not stay any longer, I sent you word to call again
to-morrow. Now, that I have concluded my pressing business, however,
I hasten to comply with your request. You asked me for five hundred
dollars; here they are. Knowing, however, how precious your time is,
and that you had to wait for half an hour through my fault, I take the
liberty of adding one hundred dollars for the time you have lost to-day.
Farewell, sir, and let me conclude with expressing the hope that you
will soon again delight the world and myself with one of your excellent
works.”



CHAPTER XIV.

THE MEMORIAL TO FREDERICK WILLIAM III


“I believe,” said Gualtieri, returning the letter to Gentz, “I believe
the minister wanted to teach you a lesson. He made you wait in order to
teach you the necessity of being punctual.”

“And I shall not forget the lesson.”

“You will be punctual hereafter?”

“On the contrary. This time I was half an hour behind time, and he paid
me one hundred dollars for it. Hereafter I shall be an hour too late;
he will make me wait an hour and pay me two hundred dollars for it.
I believe that is sound arithmetic. Don’t look at me so scornfully,
Gualtieri; this state of affairs will not last for any length of time;
there will be a time at no distant period when no minister will dare to
make me wait in his anteroom, nor to pay me such petty, miserable sums.
The ministers then will wait in my anteroom, and will be only too happy
if I accept the thousands which they will offer to me. I have formed the
fixed resolution to obtain a brilliant position and to coin wealth out
of my mind.”

“And I am sure you will succeed in accomplishing your purpose,” said
Gualtieri. “Yes, I am satisfied a brilliant future is in store for you.
You are a genius such as Germany has not seen heretofore, for you are a
political genius, and you may just as well confess that Germany greatly
lacks politicians who are able to wield their pen like a pointed
two-edged sword, to strike fatal blows in all directions and obtain
victories. Germany has already fixed her eyes upon you, and even in
England your name is held in great esteem since you published your
excellent translation of Burke’s work on the French Revolution. The
political pamphlets you have issued since that time, and the excellent
political magazine you have established, have met with the warmest
approval, and the public hopes and expects that you will render great
and important services to the country. Go on in this manner, my friend;
boldly pursue the path you have entered, and it will become for you a
path of glory, honor, and wealth.”

Gentz looked at him almost angrily.

“I hope,” he said, “you will not believe me to be an avaricious and
covetous man. I value money merely because it is an instrument wherewith
to procure enjoyment, and because, without it, we are the slaves of
misery, privations, and distress. Money renders us free, and now that
people would like to set up freedom as the religion of all nations,
every one ought to try to make as much money as possible, that alone
rendering him really free. The accursed French Revolution, which has
dragged all principles, all laws and old established institutions
under the guillotine, was under the necessity of leaving one power
unharmed--the power of money. The aristocracy, the clergy, nay, even
royalty had to bleed under the guillotine, but money never lost its
power, its influence, and its importance. Money speaks a universal
language, and the Sans-culotte and Hottentot understand it as well as
the king, the minister, and the most beautiful woman. Money never needs
an interpreter; it speaks for itself. See, my friend, that is the reason
why I love money and try to make as much as possible, not in order
to amass it, but because with it I can buy the world, love, honor,
enjoyment, and happiness. But not being one of those who find money in
their cradles, I must endeavor to acquire it and avail myself of the
capital God has given me in my brains. And that I shall and will do,
sir, but I pledge you my word, never in a base and unworthy manner. I
shall probably make people PAY very large sums of money for my services,
but never shall I SELL myself; all the millions of the world could not
induce me to write AGAINST MY PRINCIPLES, but all the millions of the
world I shall demand, when they ask me to write FOR MY PRINCIPLES! See,
my friend, that is my programme, and you may be sure that I shall live
up to it. I am an aristocrat by nature and conviction; hence I hate the
French Revolution which intended to overthrow every aristocracy, not
only that of pedigree, but also that of the mind, and therefore I have
sworn to oppose it as an indefatigable and indomitable champion, and to
strike it as many blows with my pen and tongue as I can. Hence I
shall never join the hymns of praise which the Germans, always too
complaisant, are now singing to the little Corsican, General Bonaparte.
Whatever you may say about his heroism and genius, I believe him to be
an enemy of Germany, and am, therefore, on my guard.”

“So you do not admire his victories, the incomparable plans of his
battles, which he conceives with the coolness of a wise and experienced
chieftain, and carries out with the bravery and intrepidity of a hero of
antiquity?”

“I admire all that, but at the same time it makes me shudder when I
think that it might some day come into the head of this man who conquers
every thing, to invade and conquer Germany also. I believe, indeed,
he would succeed in subjugating her, for I am afraid we have no man of
equal ability on our side who could take the field against him. Ah,
my friend, why does not one of our German princes resemble this French
general, this hero of twenty-seven years? Just think of it, he is no
older than our young king; both were born in the same year.”

“You must not count his years,” exclaimed Gualtieri, “count his great
days, his great battles. The enthusiasm of all Europe hails his coming,
for he fights at the head of his legions for the noblest boons of
manhood--for freedom, honor, and justice. No wonder, therefore, that he
is victorious everywhere; the enslaved nations everywhere are in hopes
that he will break their fetters and give them liberty.”

“He is a scourge God has sent to the German princes so that they may
grow wiser and better. He wishes to compel them to respect the claims of
their subjects to freedom and independence, that being the only way for
them to erect a bulwark against this usurper who fights his battles
not only with the sword, but also with ideas. Oh, I wish our German
sovereigns would comprehend all this, and that all those who have a
tongue to speak, would shout it into their ears and arouse them from
their proud security and infatuation.”

“Well, have not you a tongue to speak, and yet you are silent?” asked
Gualtieri, smiling.

“No, I have not been silent,” exclaimed Gentz, enthusiastically. “I
have done my duty as a man and citizen, and told the whole truth to the
king.”

“That means--”

“That means that I have written to the king, not with the fawning
slavishness of a subject, but as a man who has seen much, reflected
much, and experienced much, and who speaks to a younger man, called upon
to act an important part, and holding the happiness of millions of men
in his hands. It would be a crime against God and humanity, if we knew
the truth and should not tell it to such a man. Because I believe I know
the truth, I have spoken to the king, not in a letter which he may
read to-day and throw to-morrow into his paper-basket, but in a printed
memorial, which I shall circulate in thousands of copies as soon as I
have heard that it is in the hands of the king.”

“And you believe the king will accept this printed memorial of yours?”

“My friend, Counsellor Menken, has undertaken to deliver it to the
king.”

“In that case he will accept it, for he thinks very highly of Menken.
But what did you tell the king in this memorial?”

“I gave him sound advice about government affairs.”

“Advice! my friend, kings do not like to listen to advice, especially
when it is given to them spontaneously. Did you confine yourself to
general suggestions? You see I am very anxious to learn more about your
bold enterprise. Just read the memorial to me, friend Gentz!”

“Ah, that would be a gigantic task for you to hear it, and for myself
to read it, the memorial being quite lengthy. I ask the king therein in
impressive and fervent words--oh, I wept myself when I penned them--to
make his people happy and prosperous. I directed his attention to the
various branches of our administration; first, to military affairs--”

“And you advise him to make war?” asked Gualtieri, hastily.

“No, I advise him always to be armed and prepared, but to maintain
peace as long as it is compatible with his honor. Next I allude to
the condition of our judicial and financial affairs. I beseech him to
abstain from interference with the administration of justice, to insist
upon a constant equilibrium being maintained between the expenses and
revenues of the state, so as not to overburden his subjects with taxes,
and not to curtail the development of commerce and industry by vexatious
monopolies. Finally, I ask him to devote some attention to intellectual
affairs and to the press.”

“Oh, I expected that,” said Gualtieri, smiling, “and I should not
be surprised at all if you had been bold enough to ask the timid and
diffident young king to grant freedom of the press to his people.”

“Yes, that is what I ask him to do,” said Gentz, enthusiastically. “You
want me to read the whole memorial to you. Let me read at least what I
have said about the freedom of the press. Will you listen to it?”

“Oh, I am most anxious to hear it,” said Gualtieri, sitting down on the
sofa.

Gentz took several sheets of paper from his desk, sat down opposite his
friend and commenced reading in a loud and enthusiastic voice:

“Of all things repugnant to fetters, none can bear them as little as
human thought. The oppression weighing down the latter is not merely
injurious because it impedes what is good, but also because it promotes
what is bad. Compulsion in matters of faith may be passed over in
silence. It belongs to those antiquated evils on which now that there is
greater danger of an utter prostration of religious ideas than of their
fanatical abuse, only narrow-minded babblers are declaiming. Not so,
however, with regard to freedom of the press. Misled by unfounded
apprehensions, arising from the events of the times, even sagacious men
might favor a system which, viewed in its true light, is more injurious
to the interests of the government than it ever can be to the rights of
the citizens, even in its most deplorable abuses.”

“What, even aside from all other considerations, peremptorily and
absolutely condemns any law muzzling the press, is the important
fact that it is impossible to enforce it. Unless there be a regular
inquisition watching over the execution of such a law, it is now-a-days
utterly impossible to carry it out. The facilities for bringing ideas
before the public are so great, as to render any measure destined to
curtail this publicity a mere matter of derision. But if these laws
prove ineffectual they may yet exasperate the people, and that is
precisely their most dangerous feature; they exasperate without
deterring. They instigate those against whom they are directed to offer
a resistance which frequently not only remains successful, but moreover
becomes glorious and honorable. The most wretched productions, whose
real value would not secure a life of two hours, obtain general
circulation because it seems to have required some degree of courage to
write them. The most insignificant scribblers will be looked upon as men
of mind, and the most venal writers suddenly become ‘martyrs of truth.’
A thousand noxious insects, whom a sunbeam of truth and real sagacity
would have dispersed, favored by the darkness created for them with
deplorable short-sightedness, insinuate themselves into the unarmed
minds of the people, and instil their poison to the last drop, as though
it were a forbidden delicacy of the most exquisite character. The only
antidote, the productions of better writers, loses its strength because
the uninformed only too easily mistake the advocates of salutary
restrictions for the defenders of such as are manifestly unjust and
oppressive.”

“Let freedom of the press, therefore, be the immovable principle of your
government, not as though the state or mankind, in this age so prolific
in books, were interested in the publication of a thousand works more or
less, but because your majesty is too great to maintain an unsuccessful,
and therefore disastrous struggle, with petty adversaries. Every one
should be held responsible, strictly responsible for unlawful acts and
writings assuming such a character, but mere opinion should meet with
no other adversary than its opposite, and if it be erroneous, with the
truth. Never will such a system prove dangerous to a well-regulated
state, and never has it injured such a one. Where it apparently became
pernicious, destruction had preceded it already, and mortification and
putrefaction had set in.” [Footnote: Memorial respectfully presented
to his majesty Frederick William III., on his accession to the throne,
November 16, 1797, by Frederick Gentz.]

“Well?” asked Gentz, with glowing cheeks and flashing eyes, when he had
ceased reading, “what do you think of my exposition of the freedom of
the press? Is it not clear, convincing, and unanswerable? Will not the
king see that my words contain the truth, and hence follow them?”

Gualtieri looked at his friend with an air of compassionate tenderness.

“Oh, you are a full-grown child,” he said; “you still believe in the
possibility of realizing Utopian dreams, and your faith is so honest,
so manly! You want to force a scourge upon a timid young king, who most
ardently desires to maintain peace, and to remain unnoticed, and tell
him, ‘With this scourge drive out the evil spirits and expel the lies,
so as to cause daylight to dawn, and darkness to disappear!’--as though
that daylight would not be sure to lay bare all the injuries and ulcers
of which our own poor Prussia is suffering, and for which she greatly
needs darkness and silence.”

“What! you think the king will take no notice of my demands?”

“I believe,” said Gualtieri, shrugging his shoulders, “that you are a
highly-gifted visionary, and that the king is a tolerably intelligent
and tolerably sober young gentleman, who, whenever he wants to skate,
does not allow himself to be dazzled and enticed by the smooth and
glittering surface, but first repeatedly examines the ice in order to
find out whether it is firm enough to bear him. And now good-by, my
poor friend. I came here to congratulate you for having regained your
liberty, and for belonging again to the noble and only happy order
of bachelors; but instead of hearing you rejoice, I find in you a
philanthropic fanatic, and an enthusiastic advocate of a free press.”

“But that does not prevent you from wishing me joy at my return to a
bachelor’s life,” exclaimed Gentz, laughing. “Yes, my friend, I am free;
life is mine again, and now let the flames of pleasure close again over
my head--let enjoyment surround me again in fiery torrents, I shall
exultingly plunge into the whirlpool and feel as happy as a god! We
must celebrate the day of my regeneration in a becoming manner; we must
celebrate it with foaming champagne, pates de foie gras, and oysters;
and if we want to devote a last tear to the memory of my wife, why, we
shall drink a glass of Lacrymce Christi in her honor. You must come and
see me to-night, Gualtieri. I shall invite a few other friends, and
if you will afford us a rare pleasure, you will read to us some of La
Fontaine’s Fables, which no one understands to recite so well as you.”

“I shall do so,” said Gualtieri, extending his hand to Gentz. “I shall
read to you one of La Fontaine’s Fables, the first two lines of which
eloquently express the whole history of your past.”

“Let me hear those two lines.”

Gualtieri covered his head, and standing in the door he had opened, he
said with a deep pathos and in a profoundly melancholy voice:

    “Deux coqs vivaient en paix; une poule survint,
     Et voila la guerreallumec”--

and nodding a last adieu, he disappeared. Gentz laughed. “Indeed, he is
right,” he exclaimed; “that is the end of wedded life. But, thank God,
mine is over, and, I swear by all my hopes, never will I be such a fool
as to marry again! I shall remain a bachelor as long as I live; for he
who belongs to no woman owns all women. It is time, however, to think of
to-night’s banquet. But in order to give a banquet, I must first procure
new furniture for my rooms, and this time I won’t have any but beautiful
and costly furniture. And how shall I get it? Ah, parbleu, I forgot the
six hundred dollars I received from the minister. I shall buy furniture
for that sum. No, that would be very foolish, inasmuch as I greatly
need it for other purposes. The furniture dealers, I have no doubt,
will willingly trust me, for I never yet purchased any thing of them.
Unfortunately, I cannot say so much in regard to him who is to furnish
me the wines and delicacies for the supper, and I have only one hundred
dollars in my pocket. The other five hundred dollars I must send to
that bloodsucker, that heartless creditor Werner. But must I do so? Ah!
really, I believe it would be rank folly. The fellow would think he had
frightened me, and as soon as I should owe him another bill, he would
again besiege my door, and raise a fresh disturbance here. No; I will
show him that I am not afraid of him, and that his impudent conduct
deserves punishment. Oh, John! John!”

The door was opened immediately, and the footman entered.

“John,” said Gentz, gravely, “go at once to Mr. Werner. Tell him some
friends are coming to see me to-night. I therefore want him to send me
this evening twenty-four bottles of champagne, three large pates de foie
gras, two hundred oysters, and whatever is necessary for a supper. If he
should fill my order promptly and carefully, he can send me to-morrow a
receipt for two hundred dollars, and I will pay him the money. But if
a single oyster should be bad, if a single bottle of champagne should
prove of poor quality, or if he should dare to decline furnishing me
with the supper, he will not get a single groschen. Go and tell him
that, and be back as soon as possible.”

“Meantime, I will write a few invitations,” said Gentz, as soon as he
was alone. “But I shall invite none but unmarried men. In the first
place, the Austrian minister, Prince von Reuss. This gentleman contents
himself with one mistress, and as he fortunately does not suspect that
the beautiful Marianne Meier is at the same time my mistress, he is a
great friend of mine. Yes, if he knew that--ah!” he interrupted himself,
laughing, “that would be another illustration of La Fontaine’s fable of
the two cocks and the hen. Well, I will now write the invitations.”

He had just finished the last note when the door opened, and John
entered, perfectly out of breath.

“Well, did you see Mr. Werner?” asked Gentz, folding the last note.

“Yes, sir. Mr. Werner sends word that he will furnish the supper
promptly and satisfactorily, and will deliver here to-night twenty-four
bottles of his best champagne, three large pates de foie gras, two
hundred oysters, etc., but only on one condition.”

“What! the fellow actually dares to impose conditions?” exclaimed Gentz,
indignantly. “What is it he asks?”

“He asks you, sir, when he has delivered every thing you have ordered,
and before going to supper, to be kind enough to step out for a moment
into the anteroom, where Mr. Werner will wait for you in order to
receive there his two hundred dollars. I am to notify him if you accept
this condition, and if so, he will furnish the supper.”

“Ah, that is driving me to the wall,” exclaimed Gentz, laughing. “Well,
go back, to the shrewd fellow and tell him that I accept his conditions.
He is to await me in the anteroom, and as he would, of course, make a
tremendous noise in case I should disappoint him, he may be sure that I
shall come. So go to him, John.”

“As for myself,” said Gentz, putting on his cloak, “I shall go and
purchase several thousand dollars’ worth of furniture; my rooms shall
hereafter be as gorgeous as those of a prince. By the by, I believe I
have been too generous. If I had offered Werner one hundred dollars, he
would have contented himself with that sum.”



CHAPTER XV.

THE WEDDING.


At the house of the wealthy banker Itzig a rare festival took place
to-day, a festival which all Berlin had been talking of for the last few
days, and which had formed the topic of conversation, no less among
the people on the streets, than among the aristocratic classes in their
palatial mansions. To-day the wedding of three of his beautiful young
daughters was to take place, and the rich, ostentatious, and generous
gentleman had left nothing undone in order to celebrate this gala-day in
as brilliant and imposing a manner as possible. All the manufacturers
of Berlin had been employed for months to get up the trousseaux of his
daughters, for he had declared that they should wear exclusively the
productions of German industry, and that not a single piece of their new
household goods should be of French manufacture. Hence, all the gorgeous
brocades, velvets, and laces for their dresses and furniture had been
woven in Berlin manufactories; the most magnificent linen had been
ordered from Silesia, and a host of milliners and seamstresses had got
up every thing required for the wardrobe of the young ladies, in the
most skilful and artistic manner. Even the plate and costly jewelry
had been manufactured by Berlin jewellers, and the rich and exquisitely
painted china had been purchased at the royal Porzellan-fabrik. These
three trousseaux, so beautiful and expensive, had been, as it were, a
triumph of home art and home industry, and for this reason they excited
general attention. Herr Itzig had finally, though very reluctantly,
yielded to the urgent entreaties of his friends and admitted the public
to the rooms and halls of his house in which the trousseaux of his
daughters were displayed. However, in order not to lay himself open to
the charge of boastful ostentation, he had tried to impart a useful and
charitable character to this exhibition. He had fixed a tablet over
the entrance to those rooms, bearing the inscription of “Exhibition of
Productions of Home Industry;” in addition, every visitor had to buy a
ticket of admission for a few groschen, the proceeds to be distributed
among the poor.

Every one hastened to the banker’s house in order to admire the
“productions of home industry.” Even the queen had come with one of her
ladies of honor to inspect the gorgeous display, and while admiring the
magnificence of the silks and velvets and the artistic setting of the
diamonds, she had exclaimed joyfully: “How glad I am to see that Germany
is really able to do entirely without France, and to satisfy all her
wants from her own resources!”

The queen had uttered these words perhaps on the spur of the moment,
but the public imparted to them a peculiar meaning and tendency; and the
newspapers, the organs of public opinion, never tired of praising the
royal words, and of admonishing the inhabitants of Berlin to visit the
patriotic exhibition at the banker’s house.

Curiosity, moreover, stimulated the zeal of the ladies, while political
feeling caused the male part of the population to appear at the
exhibition. But when it became known that the French embassy had taken
umbrage at the zeal manifested by the people of Berlin, and that the
French minister had even dared at the royal table to complain loudly and
bitterly of the words uttered by the queen in Herr Itzig’s house, the
indignation became general, and the visits to the exhibition assumed the
character of a national demonstration against the overbearing French.
Hosts of spectators now hastened to Herr Itzig’s house, and gay,
mischievous young men took pleasure in stationing themselves in groups
in the street on which the French minister was living, right in front of
the house, in order to converse loudly in the French language about the
rare attractions of the banker’s exhibition, and to praise the noble
patriot who disdained to buy abroad what he could get at home just as
well, if not better.

The success of his exhibition, however, far exceeded the wishes of the
banker, and he was glad when the days during which the exhibition was
to continue were at an end, so that he could exclude the inquisitive
visitors from his house.

But to-day the house was to be opened to the invited guests, for to-day,
as we stated before, Herr Itzig was going to celebrate simultaneously
the wedding of three of his beautiful daughters, and the whole place was
astir with preparations for a becoming observance of the gala-day.

While the footmen and other servants, under the direction of skilful
artists, were engaged in gorgeously decorating the parlors and halls;
while a hundred busy hands in the kitchen and cellar were preparing
a sumptuous repast; while Herr Itzig and wife were giving the last
directions for the details of the festival, the three brides were
chatting confidentially in their own room. All of them were quite young
yet, the eldest sister having scarcely completed her twenty-first year.
They were very beautiful, and theirs was the striking and energetic
beauty peculiar to the women of the Orient--that beauty of flaming black
eyes, glossy black hair, a glowing olive complexion, and slender but
well-developed forms. They wore a full bridal costume; their bare,
beautifully rounded arms and necks were gorgeously adorned with diamonds
and other precious stones; their tall and vigorous figures were clad in
white silk dresses, trimmed with superb laces. He who would have seen
them thus in the full charm of beauty, grace, and youth, in their
magnificent costumes, and with delicate myrtle-crowns on their heads,
would have believed he beheld three favorite daughters of Fate, who had
never known care and grief, and upon whose heads happiness had poured
down an uninterrupted sunshine.

Perhaps it was so; perhaps it was only the beautiful myrtle-crowns that
cast a shadow over the faces of the three brides, and not their secret
thoughts--their silent wishes.

They had eagerly conversed for a while, but now, however, they paused
and seemed deeply absorbed. Finally, one of them slowly raised her
glowing black eyes and cast a piercing glance upon her sisters. They
felt the magic influence of this glance, and raised their eyes at the
same time.

“Why do you look at us so intently, Fanny?” they asked.

“I want to see if I can read truth on your brow,” said Fanny; “or if the
diamonds and the myrtle-crowns conceal every thing. Girls, suppose we
take off for a moment the shining but lying masks with which we adorn
ourselves in the eyes of the world, and show to each other our true and
natural character? We have always lied to each other. We said mutually
to each other: ‘I am happy. I am not jealous of you, for I am just as
happy as you.’ Suppose we now open our lips really and tell the truth
about our hearts? Would not it be novel and original? Would it not be an
excellent way of whiling away these few minutes until our betrothed come
and lead us to the altar? See, this is the last time that we shall be
thus together--the last time that we bear the name of our father; let
us, therefore, for once tell each other our true sentiments. Shall we do
so?”

“Yes,” exclaimed the two sisters. “But about what do you want us to tell
you the truth?”

“About our hearts,” replied Fanny, gravely. “Esther, you are the eldest
of us three. You must commence. Tell us, therefore, if you love your
betrothed, Herr Ephraim?”

Esther looked at her in amazement. “If I love him?” she asked. “Good
Heaven! how should I happen to love him? I scarcely know him. Father
selected him for me; it is a brilliant match; I shall remain in Berlin;
I shall give splendid parties and by my magnificent style of living
greatly annoy those ladies of the so-called haute volee, who have
sometimes dared to turn up their noses at the ‘Jewesses.’ Whether I
shall be able to love Ephraim, I do not know; but we shall live in
brilliant style, and as we shall give magnificent dinner-parties, we
shall never lack guests from the most refined classes of society. Such
are the prospects of my future, and although I cannot say that I am
content with them, yet I know that others will deem my position a most
enviable one, and that is at least something.”

“The first confession!” said Fanny, smiling. “Now it is your turn,
Lydia. Tell us, therefore, do you love Baron von Eskeles, your future
husband?”

Lydia looked at her silently and sadly. “Do not ask me,” she said,
“for you and Esther know very well that I do not love him. I once had
a splendid dream. I beheld myself an adored wife by the side of a young
man whom I loved and who loved me passionately. He was an artist, and
when he was sitting at his easel, he felt that he was rich and happy,
even without money, for he had his genius and his art. When I was
looking at his paintings, and at the handsome and inspired artist
himself, it seemed to me there was but one road to happiness on earth:
to belong to that man, to love him, to serve him, and, if it must be, to
suffer and starve with him. It was a dream, and father aroused me from
it by telling me that I was to marry Baron von Eskeles, that he had
already made an agreement with the baron’s father, and that the wedding
would take place in two weeks.”

“Poor Lydia!” murmured the sisters.

A pause ensued. “Well,” asked Esther, “and you, Fanny? You examine us
and say nothing about yourself. What about your heart, my child? Do you
love your betrothed, Baron von Arnstein, the partner of Eskeles, your
future brother-in-law? You are silent? Have you nothing to say to us?”

“I have to say to you that we are all to be pitied and very unhappy,”
 said Fanny, passionately. “Yes, to be pitied and very unhappy,
notwithstanding our wealth, our diamonds, and our brilliant future! We
have been sold like goods; no one has cared about the hearts which these
goods happen to have, but every one merely took into consideration how
much profit he would derive from them. Oh, my sisters, we rich Jewesses
are treated just in the same manner as the poor princesses; we are
sold to the highest bidder. And we have not got the necessary firmness,
energy, and independence to emancipate ourselves from this degrading
traffic in flesh and blood. We bow our heads and obey, and, in the place
of love and happiness, we fill our hearts with pride and ostentation,
and yet we are starving and pining away in the midst of our riches.”

“Yes,” sighed Lydia, “and we dare not even complain! Doomed to eternal
falsehood, we must feign a happiness we do not experience, and a love we
do not feel.”

“I shall not do so!” exclaimed Fanny, proudly. “It is enough for me to
submit to compulsion, and to bow my head; but never shall I stoop so low
as to lie.”

“What! you are going to tell your husband that you do not love him?”
 asked the sisters.

“I shall not say that to my husband, but to my betrothed as soon as he
makes his appearance.”

“But suppose he does not want to marry a girl who does not love him?”

“Then he is the one who breaks off the match, not I, and father cannot
blame me for it. But do you not hear footsteps in the hall? It is my
betrothed. I begged him to be here a quarter of an hour previous to the
commencement of the ceremony, because I desired to speak to him about a
very serious matter. He is coming. Now pray go to the parlor, and wait
for me there. I shall rejoin you, perhaps alone, and in that case I
shall be free; perhaps, however, Arnstein will accompany me, and in that
eventuality he will have accepted the future as I am going to offer it
to him. Farewell, sisters; may God protect us all.”

“May God protect YOU.” said Lydia, tenderly embracing her sister. “You
have a courageous and strong soul, and I wish mine were like yours.”

“Would that save you, Lydia?” asked Fanny, sharply. “Courage and energy
are of no avail in our case; in spite of our resistance, we should have
to submit and to suffer. He is coming.”

She pushed her sisters gently toward the parlor door, and then went to
meet her betrothed, who had just entered.

“Mr. Arnstein,” said Fanny, giving him her hand, “I thank you for
complying so promptly with my request.”

“A business man is always prompt,” said the young baron, with a polite
bow.

“Ah, and you treat this interview with me likewise as a business
affair?”

“Yes, but as a business affair of the rarest and most exquisite
character. A conference with a charming young lady is worth more than
a conference with the wealthiest business friend, even if the interview
with the latter should yield a profit of one hundred per cent.”

“Ah, I believe you want to flatter me,” said Fanny, closely scanning the
small and slender figure and the pale face of the baron.

He bowed with a gentle smile, but did not raise his eyes toward her.
Fanny could not help perceiving that his brow was slightly clouded.

“Baron,” she said, “I have begged you to come and see me, because I do
not want to go to the altar with a lie on my soul. I will not deceive
God and yourself, and therefore I now tell you, frankly and sincerely, I
do not love you, baron; only my father’s will gives my hand to you!”

There was no perceptible change in the young baron’s face. He seemed
neither surprised nor offended.

“Do you love another man?” he asked quietly.

“No, I love no one!” exclaimed Fanny.

“Ah, then, you are fortunate indeed,” he said, gloomily. “It is by far
easier to marry with a cold heart, than to do so with a broken one; for
the cold heart may grow warm, but the broken one never.”

Fanny’s eyes were fixed steadfastly on his features.

“Mr. Arnstein,” she exclaimed, impetuously, “you do not love me either!”

He forced himself to smile. “Who could see you--you, the proud, glorious
beauty--without falling in love with you?” he exclaimed, emphatically.

“Pray, no empty flatteries,” said Fanny, impatiently. “Oh, tell me the
truth! I am sure you do not love me!”

“I saw you too late,” he said, mournfully; “if I had known you sooner, I
should have loved you passionately.”

“But now I am too late--and have you already loved another?” she asked,
hastily.

“Yes, I love another,” he said, gravely and solemnly. “As you ask me, I
ought to tell you the truth. I love another.”

“Nevertheless, you want to marry me?” she exclaimed, angrily.

“And you?” he asked, gently. “Do you love me?”

“But I told you already my heart is free. I love no one, while you--why
don’t you marry her whom you love?”

“Because I cannot marry her.”

“Why cannot you marry her?”

“Because my father is opposed to it. He is the chief of our house and
family. He commands, and we obey. He is opposed to it because the young
lady whom I love is poor. She would not increase the capital of our
firm.”

“Oh, eternally, eternally that cold mammon, that idol to whom our hearts
are sacrificed so ruthlessly!” exclaimed Fanny, indignantly. “For money
we sell our youth, our happiness, and our love.”

“I have not sold my love. I have sacrificed it,” said Baron Arnstein,
gravely; “I have sacrificed it to the interests of our firm. But in
seeing you so charming and sublime in your loveliness and glowing
indignation, I am fully satisfied already that I am no longer to be
pitied, for I shall have the most beautiful and generous wife in all
Vienna.”

“Then you really want to marry me? You will not break off the match,
although your heart belongs to another woman, and although you know that
I do not love you?”

“My beautiful betrothed, let us not deceive each other,” he said,
smiling; “it is not a marriage, but a partnership we are going to
conclude in obedience to the wishes of our fathers. In agreeing upon
this partnership only our fortunes, but not our hearts, were thought of.
The houses of Itzig, Arnstein, and Eskeles will flourish more than ever;
whether the individuals belonging to these houses will wither is of no
importance. Let us therefore submit to our fate, my dear, for we cannot
escape from it. Would it be conducive to your happiness if I should
break off the match? Your father would probably select another husband
for you, perhaps in Poland or in Russia, and you would be buried with
all the treasures of your beauty and accomplishments in some obscure
corner of the world, while I shall take you to Vienna, to the great
theatre of the world--upon a stage where you will at least not lack
triumphs and homage. And I? Why should I be such a stupid fool as to
give you up--you who bring to me much more than I deserve--your beauty,
your accomplishments, and your generous heart? Ah, I shall be the target
of general envy, for there is no lady in Vienna worthy of being compared
with you. As I cannot possess her whom I love, I may thank God that my
father has selected you for me. You alone are to be pitied, Fanny, for
I cannot offer you any compensation for the sacrifices you are about to
make in my favor. I am unworthy of you; you are my superior in beauty,
intellect, and education. I am a business man, that is all. But in
return I have at least something to give--wealth, splendor, and a name
that has a good sound, even at the imperial court. Let me, then, advise
you as a friend to accept my hand--it is the hand of a friend who,
during his whole life, will honestly strive to compensate you for not
being able to give his love to you and to secure your happiness.”

He feelingly extended his hand to her, and the young lady slowly laid
hers upon it.

“Be it so!” she said, solemnly; “I accept your hand and am ready to
follow you. We shall not be a pair of happy lovers, but two good and
sincere friends.”

“That is all I ask,” said Arnstein, gently. “Never shall I molest you
with pretensions and demands that might offend your delicacy and be
repugnant to your heart; never shall I ask more of you than what I hope
I shall be able to deserve--your esteem and your confidence. Never shall
I entertain the infatuated pretensions of a husband demanding from his
wife an affection and fidelity he is himself unable to offer her. In the
eyes of the world we shall be man and wife; but in the interior of your
house you will find liberty and independence. There you will be able to
gratify all your whims and wishes; there every one will bow to you and
obey you. First of all, I shall do so myself. You shall be the pride,
the glory and joy of my house, and secure to it a brilliant position in
society. We shall live in princely style, and you shall rule as a queen
in my house. Will that satisfy you? Do you accept my proposition?”

“Yes, I accept it,” exclaimed Fanny, with radiant eyes, “and I assure
you no other house in Vienna shall equal ours. We will make it a centre
of the best society, and in the midst of this circle which is to embrace
the most eminent representatives of beauty, intellect, and distinction,
we will forget that we are united without happiness and without love.”

“But there will be a day when your heart will love,” said Arnstein.
“Swear to me that you will not curse me on that day because I shall then
stand between you and your love. Swear to me that you will always regard
me as your friend, that you will have confidence in me, and tell me when
that unhappy and yet so happy hour will strike, when your heart begins
to speak.”

“I swear it to you!” said Fanny, gravely. “We will always be sincere
toward each other. Thus we shall always be able to avert wretchedness,
although it may not be in our power to secure happiness. And now, my
friend, come, give me your arm and accompany me to the parlor where they
are already waiting for us. Now, I shall no longer weep and mourn over
this day, for it has given to me a friend, a brother!”

She took his arm and went with him to the parlor. A gentle smile was
playing on her lips when the door was opened and they entered. With an
air of quiet content she looked at her sisters, who were standing by
the side of their betrothed, and had been waiting for her with trembling
impatience.

“There is no hope left,” murmured Lydia; “she accepts her fate, too, and
submits.”

“She follows my example,” thought Esther; “she consoles herself with
her wealth and brilliant position in society. Indeed, there is no better
consolation than that.”

At that moment the door opened, and the rabbi in his black robe, a
skull-cap on his head, appeared on the threshold, followed by the
precentor and sexton. Solemn silence ensued, and all heads were lowered
in prayer while the rabbi was crossing the room in order to salute the
parents of the brides.



CHAPTER XVI.

MARIANNE MEIER.


At that moment of silent devotion, no one took any notice of a lady who
crossed the threshold a few seconds after the rabbi had entered. She was
a tall, superb creature of wonderful beauty. Her black hair, her glowing
eyes, her finely-curved nose, the whole shape of her face imparted to
her some resemblance to Fanny Itzig, the banker’s beautiful daughter,
and indicated that she belonged likewise to the people who, scattered
over the whole world, have with unshaken fidelity and constancy
preserved everywhere their type and habits. And yet, upon examining the
charming stranger somewhat more closely, it became evident that she bore
no resemblance either to Fanny or to her sisters. Hers was a strange and
peculiar style of beauty, irresistibly attractive and chilling at the
same time--a tall, queenly figure, wrapped in a purple velvet dress,
fastened under her bosom by a golden sash. Her shoulders, dazzling
white, and of a truly classical shape, were bare; her short ermine
mantilla had slipped from them and hung gracefully on her beautiful,
well-rounded arms, on which magnificent diamond bracelets were
glittering. Her black hair fell down in long, luxuriant ringlets on both
sides of her transparent, pale cheeks, and was fastened in a knot by
means of several large diamond pins. A diamond of the most precious
brilliants crowned her high and thoughtful forehead.

She looked as proud and glorious as a queen, and there was something
haughty, imperious, and cold in the glance with which she now slowly and
searchingly surveyed the large room.

“Tell me,” whispered Baron Arnstein, bending over Fanny Itzig, “who is
the beautiful lady now standing near the door?”

“Oh!” exclaimed Fanny, joyfully, “she has come after all. We scarcely
dared to hope for her arrival. It is Marianne Meier.”

“What! Marianne Meier?” asked Baron Arnstein. “The celebrated beauty
whom Goethe has loved--for whom the Swedish ambassador at Berlin,
Baron Bernstein, has entertained so glowing a passion, and suffered so
much--and who is now the mistress of the Austrian minister, the Prince
von Reuss?”

“Hush, for Heaven’s sake, hush!” whispered Fanny. “She is coming toward
us.”

And Fanny went to meet the beautiful lady. Marianne gently inclined her
head and kissed Fanny with the dignified bearing of a queen.

“I have come to congratulate you and your sisters,” she said, in a
sonorous, magnificent alto voice. “I wanted to see how beautiful you
looked, and whether your betrothed was worthy of possessing you or not.”

Fanny turned round to beckon Baron Arnstein to join them, but he had
just left with the rabbi and the other officers of the synagogue.

The ladies were now alone, for the ceremony was about to begin. And now
the women entered, whose duty it was to raise loud lamentations and weep
over the fate of the brides who were about to leave the parental roof
and to follow their husbands. They spread costly carpets at the feet of
the brides, who were sitting on armchairs among the assembled ladies,
and strewing flowers on these carpets, they muttered, sobbing and
weeping, ancient Hebrew hymns. The mother stood behind them with
trembling lips, and, raising her tearful eyes toward heaven. The door
was opened, and the sexton in a long robe, his white beard flowing down
on his breast, appeared, carrying in his hand a white cushion with three
splendid lace veils. He was followed by Mr. Itzig, the father of the
three brides. Taking the veils from the cushion, and muttering prayers
all the while, he laid them on the heads of his daughters so that their
faces and bodies seemed to be surrounded by a thin and airy mist. And
the mourning-women sobbed, and two tears rolled over the pale cheeks of
the deeply-moved mother. The two men withdrew silently, and the ladies
were alone again.

But now, in the distance, the heart-stirring sounds of a choir of sweet,
sonorous children’s voices were heard. How charming did these voices
reecho through the room! They seemed to call the brides, and, as if
fascinated by the inspiring melody, they slowly rose from their seats.
Their mother approached the eldest sister and offered her hand to her.
Two of the eldest ladies took the hands of the younger sisters. The
other ladies and the mourning-women formed in pairs behind them, and
then the procession commenced moving in the direction of the inviting
notes of the anthem. Thus they crossed the rooms--nearer and nearer came
the music--and finally, on passing through the last door, the ladies
stepped into a long hall, beautifully decorated with flowers and covered
with a glass roof through which appeared the deep, transparent azure of
the wintry sky. In the centre of this hall there arose a purple canopy
with golden tassels. The rabbi, praying and with uplifted hands, was
standing under it with the three bridegrooms. The choir of the singers,
hidden behind flowers and orange-trees, grew louder and louder, and to
this jubilant music the ladies conducted the brides to the canopy, and
the ceremony commenced.

When it was concluded, when the veils were removed from the heads of
the brides so that they could now look freely into the world, the whole
party returned to the parlor, and brides and bridegrooms received the
congratulations of their friends.

Fanny and Marianne Meier were chatting in a bay-window at some
distance from the rest of the company. They were standing there, arm
in arm--Fanny in her white bridal costume, like a radiant lily, and
Marianne in her purple dress, resembling the peerless queen of flowers.

“You are going to leave Berlin to-day with your husband?” asked
Marianne.

“We leave in an hour,” said Fanny, sighing.

Marianne had heard this sigh. “Do you love your husband?” she asked,
hastily.

“I have seen him only twice,” whispered Fanny.

A sarcastic smile played on Marianne’s lips. “Then they have simply sold
you to him like a slave-girl to a wealthy planter,” she said. “It was
a mere bargain and sale, and still you boast of it, and pass your
disgusting trade in human hearts for virtue, and believe you have a
right to look proudly and contemptuously down upon those who refuse
to be sold like goods, and who prefer to give away their love to being
desecrated without love.”

“I do not boast of having married without love,” said Fanny, gently.
“Oh, I should willingly give up wealth and splendor--I should be quite
ready to live in poverty and obscurity with a man whom I loved.”

“But first the old rabbi would have to consecrate your union with such
a man, I suppose?--otherwise you would not follow him, notwithstanding
your love?” asked Marianne.

“Yes, Marianne, that would be indispensable,” said Fanny, gravely,
firmly fixing her large eyes upon her friend. “No woman should defy the
moral laws of the world, or if she does, she will always suffer for it.
If I loved and could not possess the man of my choice, if I could not
belong to him as his wedded wife, I should give him up. The grief
would kill me, perhaps, but I should die with the consolation of having
remained faithful to virtue--”

“And of having proved false to love!” exclaimed Marianne, scornfully.
“Phrases! Nothing but phrases learned by heart, my child, but the world
boasts of such phrases, and calls such sentiments moral! Oh, hush! hush!
I know what you are going to say, and how you wish to admonish me. I
heard very well how contemptuously your husband called me the mistress
of the Prince von Reuss. Don’t excuse him, and don’t deny it, for I have
heard it. I might reply to it what Madame de Balbi said the other
day upon being upbraided with being the mistress of the Royal Prince
d’Artois: ‘Le sang des princes ne souille pas!’ But I do not want to
excuse myself; on the contrary, all of you shall some day apologize to
me. For I tell you, Fanny, I am pursuing my own path and have a peculiar
aim steadfastly in view. Oh, it is a great, a glorious aim. I want
to see the whole world at my feet; all those ridiculous prejudices of
birth, rank, and virtue shall bow to the Jewess, and the Jewess shall
become the peer of the most distinguished representatives of society.
See, Fanny, that is my plan and my aim, and it is yours too; we are only
pursuing it in different ways--YOU, by the side of a man whose wife you
are, and to whom you have pledged at the altar love and fidelity WITHOUT
feeling them; I, by the side of a man whose friend I am--to whom, it
is true, I have not pledged at the altar love and fidelity, but whom
I shall faithfully love BECAUSE I have given my heart to him. Let
God decide whose is the true morality. The world is on your side and
condemns me, but some day I shall hurl back into its teeth all its
contempt and scorn, and I shall compel it to bow most humbly to me.”

“And whosoever sees you in your proud, radiant beauty, must feel that
you will succeed in accomplishing what you are going to undertake,” said
Fanny, bending an admiring glance on the glorious creature by her side.

Marianne nodded gratefully. “Let us pursue our aim,” she said, “for it
is one and the same. Both of us have a mission to fulfil, Fanny; we have
to avenge the Jewess upon the pride of the Christian women; we have to
prove to them that we are their equals in every respect, that we are
perhaps better, more accomplished, and talented than all of those
haughty Christian women. How often did they neglect and insult us in
society! How often did they offensively try to eclipse us! How often did
they vex us by their scorn and insolent bearing! We will pay it all back
to them; we will scourge them with the scourges with which they have
scourged us, and compel them to bow to us!”

“They shall at least consider and treat us as their equals,” said Fanny,
gravely. “I am not longing for revenge, but I want to hold my place
in society, and to prove to them that I am just as well-bred and
aristocratic a lady, and have an equal, nay, a better right to call
myself a representative of true nobility; for ours is a more ancient
nobility than that of all these Christian aristocrats, and we can count
our ancestors farther back into the most remote ages than they--our
fathers, the proud Levites, having been high-priests in Solomon’s
temple, and the people having treated them as noblemen even at that
time. We will remind the Christian ladies of this whenever they talk to
us about their own ancestors, who, at best, only date back to the middle
ages or to Charlemagne.”

“That is right. I like to hear you talk in this strain,” exclaimed
Marianne, joyfully. “I see you will represent us in Vienna in a noble
and proud manner, and be an honor to the Jews of Berlin. Oh, I am so
glad, Fanny, and I shall always love you for it. And do not forget me
either. If it pleases God, I shall some day come to Vienna, and play
there a brilliant part. However, we shall never be rivals, but always
friends. Will you promise it?”

“I promise it,” said Fanny, giving her soft white hand to her friend.
Marianne pressed it warmly.

“I accept your promise and shall remind you of it some day,” she said.
“But now farewell, Fanny, for I see your young husband yonder, who would
like to speak to you, and yet does not come to us for fear of coming in
contact with the mistress of the Prince von Reuss. God bless and
protect his virtue, that stands in such nervous fear of being infected!
Farewell; don’t forget our oath, and remember me.”

She tenderly embraced her friend and imprinted a glowing kiss upon her
forehead, and then quickly turning around, walked across the room.
All eyes followed the tall, proud lady with admiring glances, and some
whispered, “How beautiful she is! How proud, how glorious!” She took no
notice, however; she had so often received the homage of these whispers,
that they could no longer gladden her heart. Without saluting any
one, her head proudly erect, she crossed the room, drawing her ermine
mantilla closely around her shoulders, and deeming every thing around
her unworthy of notice.

In the anteroom a footman in gorgeous livery was waiting for her. He
hastened down-stairs before her, opened the street door, and rushed
out in order to find his mistress’s carriage among the vast number of
coaches encumbering both sides of the street, and then bring it to the
door.

Marianne stood waiting in the door, stared at by the inquisitive eyes
of the large crowd that had gathered in front of the house to see
the guests of the wealthy banker Itzig upon their departure from the
wedding. Marianne paid no attention whatever to these bystanders. Her
large black eyes swept over all those faces before her with an air of
utter indifference; she took no interest in any one of them, and their
impertinent glances made apparently no impression upon her.

But the crowd took umbrage at her queenly indifference.

“Just see,” the bystanders whispered here and there, “just see the proud
Jewess! How she stares at us, as if we were nothing but thin air! What
splendid diamonds she has got! Wonder if she is indebted for them to her
father’s usury?”

On hearing this question, that was uttered by an old woman in rags, the
whole crowd laughed uproariously. Marianne even then took no notice.
She only thought that her carriage was a good while coming up, and the
supposed slowness of her footman was the sole cause of the frown which
now commenced clouding her brow. When the crowd ceased laughing, a
woman, a Jewess, in a dirty and ragged dress, stepped forth and placed
herself close to Marianne.

“You think she is indebted to her father for those diamonds!” she
yelled. “No, I know better, and can tell you all about it. Her father
was a good friend of mine, and frequently traded with me when he was
still a poor, peddling Jew. He afterward made a great deal of money,
while I grew very poor; but he never bought her those diamonds. Just
listen to me, and I will tell you what sort of a woman she is who now
looks down on us with such a haughty air. She is the Jewess Marianne
Meier, the mistress of the old Prince von Reuss!”

“Ah, a mistress!” shouted the crowd, sneeringly. “And she is looking at
us as though she were a queen. She wears diamonds in her hair, and wants
to hide her shame by dressing in purple velvet. She--”

At that moment the carriage rolled up to the door; the footman
obsequiously opened the coach door and hastened to push back the crowd
in order to enable Marianne to walk over the carpet spread out on the
sidewalk to her carriage.

“We won’t be driven back!” roared the crowd; “we want to see the
beautiful mistress--we want to see her close by.”

And laughing, shouting, and jeering, the bystanders crowded closely
around Marianne. She walked past them, proud and erect, and did not seem
to hear the insulting remarks that were being levelled at her. Only her
cheeks had turned even paler than before, and her lips were quivering a
little.

Now she had reached her carriage and entered. The footman closed the
door, but the mob still crowded around the carriage, and looked through
the glass windows, shouting, “Look at her! look at her! What a splendid
mistress she is! Hurrah for her! Long live the mistress!”

The coachman whipped the horses, and the carriage commenced moving, but
it could make but little headway, the jeering crowd rolling along with
it like a huge black wave, and trying to keep it back at every step.

Marianne sat proudly erect in her carriage, staring at the mob with
naming and disdainful eyes. Not a tear moistened her eyes; not a
word, not a cry issued from her firmly-compressed lips. Even when her
carriage, turning around the corner, gained at last a free field and
sped away with thundering noise, there was no change whatever in her
attitude, or in the expression of her countenance. She soon reached the
embassy buildings. The carriage stopped in front of the vestibule, and
the footman opened the coach door. Marianne alighted and walked slowly
and proudly to the staircase. The footman hastened after her, and when
she had just reached the first landing place he stood behind her and
whispered;

“I beg your pardon, madame; I was really entirely innocent. Your
carriage being the last to arrive, it had to take the hindmost place;
that was the reason why it took us so long to get it to the door. I beg
your pardon, madame.”

Marianne only turned to him for a moment, bending a single contemptuous
glance upon him, and then, without uttering a word, continued ascending
the staircase.

The footman paused and looked after the proud lady, whispering with a
sigh--

“She will discharge me--she never forgives!”

Marianne had now reached the upper story, and walked down the corridor
as slowly and as proudly as ever. Her valet stood at the door, receiving
her with a profound bow, while opening the folding door. She crossed
gravely and silently the long suite of rooms now opening before her, and
finally entered her dressing-room. Her two lady’s maids were waiting for
her here in order to assist her in putting on a more comfortable dress.

When they approached their mistress, she made an imperious, repelling
gesture.

“Begone!” she said, “begone!”

That was all she said, but it sounded like a scream of rage and pain,
and the lady’s maids hastened to obey, or rather to escape. When the
door had closed behind them, Marianne rushed toward it and locked it,
and drew the heavy curtain over it.

Now she was alone--now nobody could see her, nobody could hear her. With
a wild cry she raised her beautiful arms, tore the splendid diadem of
brilliants from her hair, and hurled it upon the floor. She then with
trembling hands loosened the golden sash from her tapering waist, and
the diamond pins from her hair, and threw all these precious trinkets
disdainfully upon the floor. And now with her small feet, with her
embroidered silken shoes, she furiously stamped on them with flaming
eyes, and in her paroxysm of anger slightly opening her lips, so as
to show her two rows of peerless teeth which she held firmly pressed
together.

Her fine hair, no longer fastened by the diamond pins, had fallen down,
and was now floating around her form like a black veil, and closely
covered her purple dress. Thus she looked like a goddess of vengeance,
so beautiful, so proud, so glorious and terrible--her small hands raised
toward heaven, and her feet crushing the jewelry.

“Insulted, scorned!” she murmured. “The meanest woman on the street
believes she has a right to despise me--me, the celebrated Marianne
Meier--me, at whose feet counts and princes have sighed in vain! And who
am I, then, that they should dare to despise me?”

She asked this question with a defiant, burning glance toward heaven,
but all at once she commenced trembling, and hung her head humbly and
mournfully.

“I am a disgraced woman,” she whispered. “Diamonds and velvet do not
hide my shame. I am the prince’s mistress. That’s all!”

“But it shall be so no longer!” she exclaimed, suddenly. “I will put a
stop to it. I MUST put a stop to it! This hour has decided my destiny
and broken my stubbornness. I thought I could defy the world in MY way.
I believed I could laugh at its prejudices; but the world is stronger
than I, and therefore I have to submit, and shall hereafter defy it
in its own way. And I shall do so most assuredly. I shall do so on the
spot.”

Without reflecting any further, she left her chamber and hastened
once more through the rooms. Her hair now was waving wildly around her
shoulders, and her purple dress, no longer held together by the golden
sash, was floating loosely around her form. She took no notice whatever
of her dishabille; only one idea, only one purpose filled her heart.

In breathless haste she hurried on, and now quickly opened a last door,
through which she entered a room furnished in the most sumptuous and
comfortable manner.

At her appearance, so sudden, and evidently unexpected, the elderly
gentleman, who had reposed on the silken sofa, arose and turned around
with a gesture of displeasure.

On recognizing Marianne, however, a smile overspread his features, and
he went to meet her with a pleasant greeting.

“Back already, dearest?” he said, extending his hand toward her.

“Yes, your highness--I am back already,” she said drily and coldly.

The gentleman upon whose features the traces of a life of dissipation
were plainly visible, fixed his eyes with an anxious air upon the
beautiful lady. He only now noticed her angry mien and the strange
dishabille in which she appeared before him.

“Good Heaven, Marianne!” he asked, sharply, “what is the cause of your
agitation, of your coldness toward me? What has happened to you?”

“What has happened to me? The most infamous insults have been heaped
upon my head!” she exclaimed with quivering lips, an angry blush
suffusing her cheeks, “For a quarter of an hour, nay, for an eternity,
I was the target of the jeers, the contempt, and the scorn of the rabble
that publicly abused me in the most disgraceful manner!”

“Tell me,” exclaimed the old gentleman, “what has occurred, and whose
fault it was!”

“Whose fault it was?” she asked, bending a piercing glance upon him.
“YOURS, my prince; you alone are to blame for my terrible disgrace and
humiliation. For your sake the rabble has reviled me, called me your
mistress, and laughed at my diamonds; calling them the reward of my
shame! Oh, how many insults, how many mortifications have I not already
suffered for your sake--with how many bloody tears have I not cursed
this love which attaches me to you, and which I was nevertheless unable
to tear from my heart, for it is stronger than myself. But now the
cup of bitterness is full to overflowing. My pride cannot hear so much
contumely and scorn. Farewell, my prince, my beloved! I must leave
you. I cannot stay with you any longer. Shame would kill me. Farewell!
Hereafter, no one shall dare to call me a mistress.”

With a last glowing farewell, she turned to the door, but the prince
kept her back. “Marianne,” he asked, tenderly, “do you not know that I
love you, and that I cannot live without you?”

She looked at him with a fascinating smile. “And I?” she asked, “far
from you, shall die of a broken heart; with you, I shall die of shame. I
prefer the former. Farewell! No one shall ever dare again to call me by
that name.” And her hand touched already the door-knob.

The prince encircled her waist with his arms and drew her back. “I shall
not let you go,” he said, ardently. “You are mine, and shall remain so!
Oh, why are you so proud and so cold? Why will you not sacrifice your
faith to our love? Why do you insist upon remaining a Jewess?”

“Your highness,” she said, leaning her head on his shoulder, “why do you
want me to become a Christian?”

“Why?” he exclaimed. “Because my religion and the laws of my country
prevent me from marrying a Jewess.”

“And if I should sacrifice to you the last that has remained to me?” she
whispered--“my conscience and my religion.”

“Marianne,” he exclaimed, solemnly, “I repeat to you what I have told
you so often already: ‘Become a Christian in order to become my wife.’”

She encircled his neck impetuously with her arms and clung to him with
a passionate outburst of tenderness. “I will become a Christian!” she
whispered.



CHAPTER XVII.

LOVE AND POLITICS.


“At last! at last!” exclaimed Gentz, in a tone of fervid tenderness,
approaching Marianne, who went to meet him with a winning smile. “Do you
know, dearest, that you have driven me to despair for a whole week? Not
a word, not a message from you! Whenever I came to see you, I was turned
away. Always the same terrible reply, ‘Madame is not at home,’ while
I felt your nearness in every nerve and vein of mine, and while my
throbbing heart was under the magic influence of your presence. And then
to be turned away! No reply whatever to my letters, to my ardent prayers
to see you only for a quarter of an hour.”

“Oh, you ungrateful man!” she said, smiling, “did I not send for you
to-day? Did I not give you this rendezvous quite voluntarily?”

“You knew very well that I should have died if your heart had not
softened at last. Oh, heavenly Marianne, what follies despair made me
commit already! In order to forget you, I plunged into all sorts of
pleasures, I commenced new works, I entered upon fresh love-affairs. But
it was all in vain. Amidst those pleasures I was sad; during my working
hours my mind was wandering, and in order to impart a semblance of truth
and tenderness to my protestations of love, I had to close my eyes and
imagine YOU were the lady whom I was addressing-.”

“And then you were successful?” asked Marianne, smiling.

“Yes, then I was successful,” he said, gravely; “but my new lady-love,
the beloved of my distraction and despair, did not suspect that I only
embraced her so tenderly because I kissed in her the beloved of my heart
and of my enthusiasm.”

“And who was the lady whom you call the beloved of your distraction and
despair?” asked Marianne.

“Ah, Marianne, you ask me to betray a woman?”

“No, no; I am glad to perceive that you are a discreet cavalier. You
shall betray no woman. I will tell you her name. The beloved of your
distraction and despair was the most beautiful and charming lady in
Berlin--it was the actress Christel Eughaus. Let me compliment you, my
friend, on having triumphed with that belle over all those sentimental,
lovesick princes, counts, and barons. Indeed, you have improved your
week of ‘distraction and despair’ in the most admirable manner.”

“Still, Marianne, I repeat to you, she was merely my sweetheart for the
time being, and I merely plunged into this adventure in order to forget
you.”

“Then you love me really?” asked Marianne.

“Marianne, I adore you! You know it. Oh, now I may tell you so.
Heretofore you repelled me and would not listen to my protestations of
love because I was a MARRIED man. Now, however, I have got rid of my
ignominious fetters, Marianne; now I am no longer a married man. I am
free, and all the women in the world are at liberty to love me. I am as
free as a bird in the air!”

“And like a bird you want to flit from one heart to another?”

“No, most beautiful, most glorious Marianne; your heart shall be the
cage in which I shall imprison myself.”

“Beware, my friend. What would you say if there was no door in this cage
through which you might escape?”

“Oh, if it had a door, I should curse it.”

“Then you love me so boundlessly as to be ready to sacrifice to me the
liberty you have scarcely regained?”

“Can you doubt it, Marianne?” asked Gentz, tenderly pressing her
beautiful hands to his lips.

“Are you in earnest, my friend?” she said, smiling. “So you offer your
hand to me? You want to marry me?”

Gentz started back, and looked at her with a surprised and frightened
air. Marianne laughed merrily.

“Ah!” she said, “your face is the most wonderful illustration of
Goethe’s poem. You know it, don’t you?” And she recited with ludicrous
pathos the following two lines:

     “‘Heirathen, Kind, ist wunderlich Wort,
     Hor ich’s, mocht ich gleich wieder fort.’”

“Good Heaven, what a profound knowledge of human nature our great
Goethe has got, and how proud I am to be allowed to call him a friend of
mine--Heirathen, Kind, ist wunderlich Wort.”

“Marianne, you are cruel and unjust, you--”

“And you know the next two lines of the poem?” she interrupted him. “The
maiden replied to him:”

     “‘Heirathen wir eben,
     Das Ubrige wird sich geben.’”

“You mock me,” exclaimed Gentz, smiling, “and yet you know the maiden’s
assurance would not prove true in our case, and that there is something
rendering such a happiness, the prospect of calling you my wife, an
utter impossibility. Unfortunately, you are no Christian, Marianne.
Hence I cannot marry you.” [Footnote: Marriages between Christians and
Jews were prohibited in the German states at that period.]

“And if I were a Christian?” she asked in a sweet, enchanting voice.

He fixed his eyes with a searching glance upon her smiling, charming
face.

“What!” he asked, in evident embarrassment. “If you were a Christian?
What do you mean, Marianne?”

“I mean, Frederick, that, I have given the highest proof of my love to
the man who loves me so ardently, constantly, and faithfully. For
his sake I have become a Christian, Yesterday I was baptized. Now, my
friend, I ask you once more, I ask you as a Christian woman: Gentz, will
you marry me? Answer me honestly and frankly, my friend! Remember that
it is ‘the beloved of your heart and of your enthusiasm,’ as you called
me yourself a few moments ago, who now stands before you and asks for
a reply. Remember that this moment will be decisive for our
future--speedily, nay, immediately decisive. For you see I have removed
all obstacles. I have become a Christian, and I tell you I am ready to
become your wife in the course of the present hour. Once more, then,
Gentz, will you marry me?”

He had risen and paced the room in great excitement. Marianne followed
him with a lurking glance and a scornful smile, but when he now stepped
back to her, she quickly assumed her serious air.

“Marianne,” he said, firmly, “you want to know the truth, and I love you
too tenderly to conceal it from you. I will not, must not, cannot marry
you. I WILL not, because I am unable to bear once more the fetters of
wedded life. I MUST not, because I should make you unhappy and wretched.
I CANNOT, while, doing so, I should act perfidiously toward a friend of
mine, for you know very well that the Prince von Reuss is my intimate
friend.”

“And _I_ am his mistress. You wished to intimate that to me by your last
words, I suppose?”

“I wished to intimate that he loves you boundlessly, and he is a
generous, magnanimous man, whose heart would break if any one should
take you from him.”

“For the last time, then: you will not marry me?”

“Marianne, I love you too tenderly--I cannot marry you!”

Marianne burst into a fit of laughter. “A strange reason for rejecting
my hand, indeed!” she said. “It is so original that in itself it might
almost induce me to forgive your refusal. And yet I had counted so
firmly and surely upon your love and consent that I had made already
the necessary arrangements in order that our wedding might take
place to-day. Just look at me, Gentz. Do you not see that I wear a
bridal-dress?”

“Your beauty is always a splendid bridal-dress for you, Marianne.”

“Well said! But do you not see a myrtle-wreath, my bridal-wreath, on the
table there? Honi soit qui mal y pense! The priest is already waiting
for the bride and bridegroom in the small chapel, the candles on the
altar are lighted, every thing is ready for the ceremony. Well, we must
not make the priest wait any longer. So you decline being the bridegroom
at the ceremony? Well, attend it, then, as a witness. Will you do so?
Will you assist me as a faithful friend, sign my marriage-contract, and
keep my secret?”

“I am ready to give you any proof of my love and friendship,” said
Gentz, gravely.

“Well, I counted on you,” exclaimed Marianne, smiling, “and, to tell
you the truth, I counted on your refusal to marry me. Come, give me
your arm. I will show you the same chapel which the Prince von Reuss has
caused to be fitted up here in the building of the Austrian embassy.
The servants will see nothing strange in our going there, and I hope,
moreover, that we shall meet with no one on our way thither. At the
chapel we shall perhaps find Prince Henry--that will be a mere accident,
which will surprise no one. Come, assist me in putting on this long
black mantilla which will entirely conceal my white silk dress. The
myrtle-wreath I shall take under my arm so that no one will see it. And
now, come!”

“Yes, let us go,” said Gentz, offering his arm to her. “I see very well
that there is a mystification in store for me, but I shall follow you
wherever you will take me, to the devil or--”

“Or to church,” she said, smiling. “But hush now, so that no one may
hear us.”

They walked silently through the rooms, then down a long corridor,
and after descending a narrow secret staircase, they entered a small
apartment where three gentlemen were waiting for them.

One of them was a Catholic priest in his vestments, the second the
Prince von Reuss, Henry XIII., and the third the first attache of the
Austrian embassy.

The prince approached Marianne, and after taking her hand he saluted
Gentz in the most cordial manner.

“Every thing is ready,” he said; “come, Marianne, let me place the
wreath on your head.”

Marianne took off her mantilla, and, handing the myrtle-wreath to the
prince, she bowed her head, and almost knelt down before him. He took
the wreath and fastened it in her hair, whereupon he beckoned the
attache to hand to him the large casket standing on the table. This
casket contained a small prince’s coronet of exquisite workmanship and
sparkling with the most precious diamonds.

The prince fastened this coronet over Marianne’s wreath, and the
diamonds glistened now like stars over the delicate myrtle-leaves.

“Arise, Marianne,” he then said, loudly. “I have fastened the coronet of
your new dignity in your hair; let us now go to the altar.”

Marianne arose. A strange radiance of triumphant joy beamed in her face;
a deep flush sufused used her cheeks, generally so pale and transparent;
a blissful smile played on her lips. With a proud and sublime glance
at Gentz, who was staring at her, speechless and amazed, she took the
prince’s arm.

The priest led the way, and from the small room they now entered the
chapel of the embassy. On the altar, over which one of Van Dyck’s
splendid paintings was hanging, large wax-tapers were burning in costly
silver chandeliers. On the carpet in front of the altar two small
prie-dieus for Marianne and the prince were placed, and two arm-chairs
for the witnesses stood behind them. Opposite the altar, on the other
side of the chapel, a sort of choir or balcony with an organ had been
fitted up.

But no one was there to play on that organ. All the other chairs and
benches were vacant; the ceremony was to be performed secretly and
quietly.

Gentz saw and observed every thing as though it were a vision, he could
not yet make up his mind that it was a reality; he was confused and
almost dismayed, and did not know whether it was owing to his surprise
at what was going on, or to his vexation at being so badly duped by
Marianne. He believed he was dreaming when he saw Marianne and the
prince kneeling on the prie-dieus, Marianne Meier, the Jewess, at the
right hand of the high-born nobleman, at the place of honor, only to
be occupied by legitimate brides of equal rank; and when he heard the
priest, who stood in front of the altar, pronounce solemn words of
exhortation and benediction, and finally ask the kneeling bride and
bridegroom to vow eternal love and fidelity to each other. Both uttered
the solemn “Yes” at the same time, the prince quietly and gravely,
Marianne hastily and in a joyful voice. The priest thereupon gave
them the benediction, and the ceremony was over. The whole party then
returned to the anteroom serving as a sacristy. They silently received
the congratulations of the priest and the witnesses. The attache then
took a paper from his memorandum-book; it contained the minutes of the
ceremony, which he had drawn up already in advance. Marianne and the
prince signed it; the witnesses and the priest did the same, the latter
adding the church seal to his signature. It was now a perfectly valid
certificate of their legitimate marriage, which the prince handed to
Marianne, and for which she thanked him with a tender smile.

“You are now my legitimate wife,” said the Prince von Reuss, gravely;
“I wish to give you this proof of my love and esteem, and I return my
thanks to these gentlemen for having witnessed the ceremony; you might
some day stand in need of their testimony. For the time being, however,
I have cogent reasons for keeping our marriage secret, and you have
promised not to divulge it.”

“And I renew my promise at this sacred place and in the presence of the
priest and our witnesses, my dear husband,” said Marianne. “No one shall
hear from me a word or even an intimation of what has occurred here.
Before the world I shall be obediently and patiently nothing but your
mistress until you deem it prudent to acknowledge that I am your wife.”

“I shall do so at no distant day,” said the prince. “And you, gentlemen,
will you promise also, will you pledge me your word of honor that you
will faithfully keep our secret?”

“We promise it upon our honor!” exclaimed the two gentlemen.

The prince bowed his thanks. “Let us now leave the chapel separately,
just as we have come,” he said; “if we should withdraw together, it
would excite the attention and curiosity of the servants, some of whom
might meet us in the hall. Come, baron, you will accompany me.” He took
the attache’s arm, and left the small sacristry with him. “And you will
accompany me,” said Marianne, kindly nodding to Gentz.

“And I shall stay here for the purpose of praying for the bride and
bridegroom,” muttered the priest, returning to the altar.

Marianne now hastily took the coronet and myrtle-wreath from her hair
and concealed both under the black mantilla which Gentz gallantly laid
around her shoulders.

They silently reascended the narrow staircase and returned through the
corridor to Marianne’s rooms. Upon reaching her boudoir, Marianne doffed
her mantilla with an indescribable air of triumphant joy, and laid the
coronet and myrtle-wreath on the table.

“Well,” she asked in her sonorous, impressive voice, “what do you say
now, my tender Gentz?”

He had taken his hat, and replied with a deep bow: “I have to say that
I bow to your sagacity and talents. That was a master-stroke of yours,
dearest.”

“Was it not?” she asked, triumphantly. “The Jewess, hitherto despised
and ostracized by society, has suddenly become a legitimate princess;
she has now the power to avenge all sneers, all derision, all contempt
she has had to undergo. Oh, how sweet this revenge will be--how I shall
humble all those haughty ladies who dared to despise me, and who will be
obliged henceforth to yield the place of honor to me!”

“And will you revenge yourself upon me too, Marianne?” asked Gentz,
humbly--“upon me who dared reject your hand? But no, you must always be
grateful to me for that refusal of mine. Just imagine I had compelled
you to stick to your offer: instead of being a princess, you would now
be the unhappy wife of the poor military counsellor, Frederick Gentz.”

Marianne laughed. “You are right,” she said, “I am grateful to you for
it. But, my friend, you must not and shall not remain the poor military
counsellor Gentz.”

“God knows that that is not my intention either,” exclaimed Gentz,
laughing. “God has placed a capital in my head, and you may be sure that
I shall know how to invest it at a good rate of interest.”

“But here you will obtain no such interest,” said Marianne, eagerly,
“let us speak sensibly about that matter. We have paid our tribute to
love and friendship; let us now talk about politics I am authorized--and
she who addresess you now is no longer Marianne Meier, but the wife of
the Austrian ambassador--I am authorized to make an important offer to
you. Come, my friend, sit down in the arm-chair here, and let us hold a
diplomatic conference.”

“Yes, let us do so,” said Gentz, smiling, and taking the seat she had
indicated to him.

“Friend Gentz, what are your hopes for the future?”

“A ponderous question, but I shall try to answer it as briefly as
possible. I am in hopes of earning fame, honor, rank, influence, and a
brilliant position by my talents.”

“And you believe you can obtain all that here in Prussia?”

“I hope so,” said Gentz, hesitatingly.

“You have addressed a memorial to the young king; you have urged him to
give to his subjects prosperity, happiness, honor, and freedom of the
press. How long is it since you sent that memorial to him?”

“Four weeks to-day.”

“Four weeks, and they have not yet rewarded you for your glorious
memorial, although the whole Prussian nation hailed it with the most
rapturous applause? They have not yet thought of appointing you to
a position worthy of your talents? You have not yet been invited to
court?”

“Yes, I was invited to court. The queen wished to become acquainted with
me. Gualtieri presented me to her, and her majesty said very many
kind and flattering things to me.” [Footnote: Varnhagen, “Gallerie von
Bildnissen,” etc., vol. ii.]

“Words, empty words, my friend! Their actions are more eloquent. The
king has not sent for you, the king has not thanked you. The king does
not want your advice, and as if to show to yourself, and to all those
who have received your letter so enthusiastically, that he intends to
pursue his own path and not to listen to such advice, the king, within
the last few days, has addressed a decree to the criminal court,
peremptorily ordering the prosecuting attorneys to proceed rigorously
against the publishers of writings not submitted to or rejected by the
censors.” [Footnote: F. Foerster, “Modern History of Prussia,” vol. i.,
p. 498.]

“That cannot be true--that is impossible!” exclaimed Gentz, starting up.

“I pardon your impetuosity in consideration of your just indignation,”
 said Marianne, smiling. “That I told you the truth, however, you
will see in to-morrow’s Gazette, which will contain the royal decree
I alluded to. Oh, you know very well the Austrian ambassador has good
friends everywhere, who furnish him the latest news, and keep him
informed of all such things. You need not hope, therefore, that the
young king will make any use of your talents or grant you any favors.
Your splendid memorial has offended him instead of winning him; he
thought it was altogether too bold. Frederick William the Third is not
partial to bold, eccentric acts; he instinctively shrinks back from all
violent reforms. The present King of Prussia will not meddle with the
great affairs of the world; the King of Prussia wishes to remain neutral
amidst the struggle of contending parties. Instead of thinking of war
and politics, he devotes his principal attention to the church service
and examination of the applicants for holy orders, and yet he is not
even courageous enough formally to abolish Wollner’s bigoted edict,
and thus to make at least one decisive step forward. Believe
me, lukewarmness and timidity will characterize every act of his
administration. So you had better go to Austria.”

“And what shall I do in Austria?” asked Gentz, thoughtfully.

“What shall you do there?” exclaimed Marianne, passionately. “You shall
serve the fatherland--you shall serve Germany, for Germany is in Austria
just as well as in Prussia. Oh, believe me, my friend, only in Austria
will you find men strong and bold enough to brave the intolerable
despotism of the French. And the leading men there will welcome you most
cordially; an appropriate sphere will be allotted to your genius, and
the position to which you will be appointed will amply satisfy the
aspirations of your ambition. I am officially authorized to make this
offer to you, for Austria is well aware that, in the future, she stands
in need of men of first-class ability, and she therefore desires to
secure your services, which she will reward in a princely manner.
Come, my friend, I shall set out to-day with the prince on a journey to
Austria. Accompany us--become one of ours!”

“Ours! Are you, then, no longer a daughter of Prussia?”

“I have become a thorough and enthusiastic Austrian, for I worship
energy and determination, and these qualities I find only in Austria,
in the distinguished man who is holding the helm of her ship of state,
Baron Thugut. Come with us; Thugut is anxious to have you about his
person; accompany us to him.”

“And what are you going to do in Vienna?” asked Gentz, evasively. “Is it
a mere pleasure-trip?”

“If another man should put that question to me, I should reply in the
affirmative, but to you I am going to prove by my entire sincerity
that I really believe you to be a devoted friend of mine. No, it is no
pleasure-trip. I accompany the prince to Vienna because he wants to get
there instructions from Baron Thugut and learn what is to be done at
Rastadt.”

“Ah, at Rastadt--at the peace congress,” exclaimed Gentz. “The emperor
has requested the states of the empire to send plenipotentiaries to
Rastadt to negotiate there with France a just and equitable peace.
Prussia has already sent there her plenipotentiaries, Count Goertz and
Baron Dohm. Oh, I should have liked to accompany them and participate in
performing the glorious task to be accomplished there. That congress at
Rastadt is the last hope of Germany; if it should fail, all prospects of
a regeneration of the empire are gone. That congress will at last give
to the nation all it needs: an efficient organization of the empire,
a well-regulated administration of justice, protection of German
manufactures against British arrogance, and last, but not least, freedom
of the press, for which the Germans have been yearning for so many
years.”

Marianne burst into a loud fit of laughter. “Oh, you enthusiastic
visionary!” she said, “but let us speak softly, for even the walls must
not hear what I am now going to tell you.”

She bent over the table, drawing nearer to Gentz, and fixing her large,
flaming eyes upon him, she asked in a whisper, “I suppose you love
Germany? You would not like to see her devoured by France as Italy was
devoured by her? You would not like either to see her go to decay and
crumble to pieces from inherent weakness?”

“Oh, I love Germany!” said Gentz, enthusiastically. “All my wishes,
all my hopes belong to her. Would to God I could say some day, all my
talents, my energy, my perseverance are devoted to my fatherland--to
Germany!”

“Well, if you really desire to be useful to Germany,” whispered
Marianne, “hasten to Rastadt. If Germany is to be saved at all, it
must be done at once. You know the stipulations of the treaty of Campo
Formio, I suppose?”

“I only know what every one knows about them.”

“But you do not know the secret article. I will tell you all about
it. Listen to me. The secret article accepted by the emperor reads as
follows: ‘The emperor pledges himself to withdraw his troops from Mentz,
Ehrenbreitstein, Mannheim, Konigstein, and from the German empire in
general, twenty days after the ratification of the peace, which has
to take place in the course of two months.’” [Footnote: Schlosser’s
“History of the Eighteenth Century,” vol. v., p. 43.]

“But he thereby delivers the empire to the tender mercies of the enemy,”
 exclaimed Gentz, in dismay. “Oh, that cannot be! No German could grant
and sign such terms without sinking into the earth from shame. That
would be contrary to every impulse of patriotism--”

“Nevertheless, that article has been signed and will be carried out to
the letter. Make haste, therefore, Germany is calling you; assist her,
you have got the strength. Oh, give it to her! Become an Austrian just
as Brutus became a servant of the kings; become an Austrian in order to
save Germany!”

“Ah, you want to entice me, Delilah!” exclaimed Gentz. “You want to show
me a beautiful goal in order to make me walk the tortuous paths which
may lead thither! No, Delilah, it is in vain! I shall stay here; I shall
not go to Austria, for Austria is the state that is going to betray
Germany. Prussia may be able to save her; she stands perhaps in need of
my arm, my pen, and my tongue for that purpose. I am a German, but first
of all I am a Prussian, and every good patriot ought first to serve his
immediate country, and wait until she calls him. I still hope that the
king will prove the right man for his responsible position; I still
expect that he will succeed in rendering Prussia great and Germany free.
I must, therefore, remain a Prussian as yet and be ready to serve my
country.”

“Poor enthusiast! You will regret some day having lost your time by
indulging in visionary hopes.”

“Well, I will promise, whenever that day comes, whenever Prussia
declares that she does not want my services, then I will come to
you--then you shall enlist me for Austria, and perhaps I may then still
be able to do something for Germany. But until then, leave me here. I
swear to you, not a word of what you have just told me here shall be
betrayed by my lips; but I cannot serve him who has betrayed Germany.”

“You cannot be induced, then, to accept my offer? You want to stay here?
You refuse to accompany me to Vienna, to Rastadt, in order to save what
may yet be saved for Germany?”

“If I had an army under my command,” exclaimed Gentz, with flaming eyes,
“if I were the King of Prussia, then I should assuredly go to Rastadt,
but I should go thither for the purpose of dispersing all those
hypocrites, cowards, and scribblers who call themselves statesmen, and
of driving those French republicans who put on such disgusting airs,
and try to make us believe they had a perfect right to meddle with the
domestic affairs of Germany--beyond the Rhine! I should go thither
for the purpose of garrisoning the fortresses of the Rhine--which the
Emperor of Germany is going to surrender to the tender mercies of the
enemy--with my troops, and of defending them against all foes from
without or from within. That would be my policy if I were King of
Prussia. But being merely the poor military counsellor, Frederick Gentz,
and having nothing but some ability and a sharp pen, I shall stay here
and wait to see whether or not Prussia will make use of my ability and
of my pen. God save Germany and protect her from her physicians who are
concocting a fatal draught for her at Rastadt: God save Germany!”



FRANCE AND GERMANY.


CHAPTER XVIII.

CITOYENNE JOSEPHINE BONAPARTE.


A joyful commotion reigned on the eighth of November, 1797, in the
streets and public places of the German fortress of Rastadt. The whole
population of the lower classes had gathered in the streets, while the
more aristocratic inhabitants appeared at the open windows of their
houses in eager expectation of the remarkable event for which not only
the people of the whole city, but also the foreign ambassadors, a large
number of whom had arrived at Rastadt, were looking with the liveliest
symptoms of impatience.

And, indeed, a rare spectacle was in store for them. It was the arrival
of General Bonaparte and his wife Josephine that all were waiting for
this morning. They were not to arrive together, however, but both were
to reach the city by a different route. Josephine, who was expected
to arrive first, was coming from Milan by the shortest and most direct
route; while Bonaparte had undertaken a more extended journey from Campo
Formio through Italy and Switzerland. It was well known already that
he had been received everywhere with the most unbounded enthusiasm, and
that all nations had hailed him as the Messiah of liberty. There had not
been a single city that had not received him with splendid festivities,
and honors had been paid to him as though he were not only a triumphant
victor, but an exalted ruler, to whom every one was willing to submit.
Even free Switzerland had formed no exception. At Geneva the daughters
of the first and most distinguished families, clad in the French colors,
had presented to him in the name of the city a laurel-wreath. At Berne,
his carriage had passed through two lines of handsomely decorated
coaches, filled with beautiful und richly adorned ladies, who had hailed
him with the jubilant shout of “Long live the pacificator!”

In the same manner the highest honors had been paid to his wife
Josephine, who had been treated everywhere with the deference due to a
sovereign princess. The news of these splendid receptions had reached
Rastadt already; and it was but natural that the authorities and
citizens of the fortress did not wish to be outdone, and that they had
made extensive arrangements for welcoming the conqueror of Italy in a
becoming manner.

A magnificent triumphal arch had been erected in front of the gate
through which General Bonaparte was to enter the city, and under it
the city fathers, clad in their official robes, were waiting for the
victorious hero, in order to conduct him to the house that had been
selected for him. In front of this house, situated on the large
market-place, a number of young and pretty girls, dressed in white, and
carrying baskets with flowers and fruits which they were to lay at the
feet of the general’s beautiful wife, had assembled.

At the gate through which Josephine was to arrive, a brilliant cavalcade
of horsemen had gathered for the purpose of welcoming the lady of the
great French chieftain, and of escorting her as a guard of honor.

Among these cavaliers there were most of the ambassadors from the
different parts of Germany, who had met here at Rastadt in order to
accomplish the great work of peace. Every sovereign German prince, every
elector and independent count had sent his delegates to the
southwestern fortress for the purpose of negotiating with the French
plenipotentiaries concerning the future destinies of Germany. Even
Sweden had sent a representative, who had not appeared so much, however,
in order to take care of the interests of Swedish Pomerania, as to play
the part of a mediator and reconciler.

All these ambassadors had been allowed to enter Rastadt quietly and
entirely unnoticed. The GERMAN city had failed to pay any public honors
to these distinguished GERMAN noblemen; but every one hastened to
exhibit the greatest deference to the French general--and even the
ambassadors deemed it prudent to participate in these demonstrations:
only they tried to display, even on this occasion, their accustomed
diplomacy, and instead of receiving the victorious chieftain in the
capacity of humble vassals, they preferred to present their respects as
gallant cavaliers to his beautiful wife and to escort her into the city.

The German ambassadors, therefore, were waiting for Mme. General
Bonaparte on their magnificent prancing steeds in front of the gate
through which she was to pass. Even old Count Metternich, the delegate
of the Emperor of Austria and ruler of the empire, notwithstanding the
stiffness of his limbs, had mounted his horse; by his side the other two
ambassadors of Austria were halting--Count Lehrbach, the Austrian member
of the imperial commission, and Count Louis Cobenzl, who was acting as
a delegate for Bohemia and Hungary. Behind old Count Metternich, on a
splendid and most fiery charger, a young cavalier of tall figure and
rare manly beauty might be seen; it was young Count Clemens Metternich,
who was to represent the corporation of the Counts of Westphalia, and
to begin his official diplomatic career here at Rastadt under the eye
of his aged father. By his side the imposing and grave ambassadors of
Prussia made their appearance--Count Goertz, who at the time of the war
for the succession in Bavaria had played a part so important for Prussia
and so hostile to Austria; and Baron Dohm, no less distinguished as a
cavalier, than as a writer. Not far from them the representatives of
Bavaria, Saxony, Wurtemberg, and of the whole host of the so-called
“Immediates” [Footnote: The noblemen owning territory in the states of
secondary princes, but subject only to the authority of the emperor,
were called “Immediates.”] might be seen, whom the editors and
correspondents had joined, that had repaired to Rastadt in the hope of
finding there a perfect gold-mine for their greedy pens. But not merely
the German diplomatists and the aristocratic young men of Rastadt were
waiting here for the arrival of Mme. General Bonaparte; there was also
the whole crowd of French singers, actors, and adventurers who had
flocked to the Congress of Rastadt for the purpose of amusing the
distinguished noblemen and delegates by their vaudevilles, comedies,
and gay operas. Finally, there were also the French actresses and
ballet-girls, who, dressed in the highest style of fashion, were
occupying on one side of the road a long row of splendid carriages.
Many of these carriages were decorated on their doors with large
coats-of-arms, and a person well versed in heraldry might have easily
seen therefrom that these escutcheons indicated some of the noble
diplomatists on the other side of the road to be the owners of the
carriages. In fact, a very cordial and friendly understanding seemed to
prevail between the diplomatists and the ladies of the French theatre.
This was not only evident from the German diplomatists having lent their
carriages to the French ladies for the day’s reception, but likewise
from the ardent, tender, and amorous glances that were being exchanged
between them, from their significant smiles, and from their stealthy
nods and mute but eloquent greetings.

Suddenly, however, this inimical flirtation was interrupted by the rapid
approach of a courier. This was the signal announcing the impending
arrival of Josephine Bonaparte. In fact, the heads of four horses were
seen already in the distance; they came nearer and nearer, and now
the carriage drawn by these horses, and a lady occupying it, could be
plainly discerned.

It was a wonderful warm day in November. Josephine, therefore, had
caused the top of her carriage to be taken down, and the spectators
were able, not merely to behold her face, but to scan most leisurely her
whole figure and even her costume. The carriage had approached at full
gallop, but now, upon drawing near to the crowd assembled in front of
the gate, it slackened its speed, and every one had time and leisure to
contemplate the lady enthroned in the carriage. She was no longer in the
first bloom of youth; more than thirty years had passed already over
her head; they had deprived her complexion of its natural freshness, and
left the first slight traces of age upon her pure and noble forehead.
But her large dark eyes were beaming still in the imperishable fire of
her inward youth, and a sweet and winning smile, illuminating her whole
countenance as though a ray of the setting sun had fallen upon it, was
playing around her charming lips. Her graceful and elegant figure was
wrapped in a closely fitting gown of dark-green velvet, richly trimmed
with costly furs, and a small bonnet, likewise trimmed with furs,
covered her head, and under this bonnet luxuriant dark ringlets were
flowing down, surrounding the beautiful and noble oval of her face with
a most becoming frame.

Josephine Bonaparte was still a most attractive and lovely woman, and
on beholding her it was easily understood why Bonaparte, although much
younger, had been so fascinated by this charming lady and loved her with
such passionate tenderness.

The French actors now gave vent to their delight by loud cheers,
and rapturously waving their hats, they shouted: “Vive la citoyenne
Bonaparte! Vive l’august epouse de l’Italique!”

Josephine nodded eagerly and with affable condescension to the
enthusiastic crowd, and slowly passed on. On approaching the
diplomatists, she assumed a graver and more erect attitude; she
acknowledged the low, respectful obeisances of the cavaliers with the
distinguished, careless, and yet polite bearing of a queen, and seemed
to have for every one a grateful glance and a kind smile. Every one was
satisfied that she had especially noticed and distinguished him, and
every one, therefore, felt flattered and elated. From the diplomatists
she turned her face for a moment to the other side, toward the ladies
seated in the magnificent carriages. But her piercing eye, her delicate
womanly instinct told her at a glance that these ladies, in spite of the
splendor surrounding them, were no representatives of the aristocracy;
she therefore greeted them with a rapid nod, a kind smile, and a
graceful wave of her hand, and then averted her head again.

Her carriage now passed through the gate, the cavaliers surrounding it
on both sides, and thereby separating the distinguished lady from her
attendants, who were following her in four large coaches. These were
joined by the carriages of the actresses, by whose sides the heroes
of the stage were cantering and exhibiting their horsemanship to the
laughing belles with painted cheeks.

It was a long and brilliant procession with which Mme. General Bonaparte
made her entrance into Rastadt, and the last of the carriages had not
yet reached the gate, when Josephine’s carriage had already arrived on
the market-place and halted in front of the house she was to occupy with
her husband. Before the footman had had time to alight from the box,
Josephine herself had already opened the coach door in order to meet the
young ladies who were waiting for her at the door of her house, and
to give them a flattering proof of her affability. In polite haste she
descended from the carriage and stepped into their midst, tendering
her hands to those immediately surrounding her, and whispering grateful
words of thanks to them for the beautiful flowers and fruits, and
thanking the more distant girls with winning nods and smiling glances.
Her manners were aristocratic and withal simple; every gesture of hers,
every nod, every wave of her hand was queenly and yet modest, unassuming
and entirely devoid of haughtiness, just as it behooved a prominent
daughter of the great Republic which had chosen for her motto “Liberte,
egalite, fraternite.”

Laden with flowers, and laughing as merrily as a young girl, Josephine
finally entered the house; in the hall of the latter the ladies of the
French ambassadors, the wives and daughters of Bonnier Reberjot and Jean
Debry, were waiting for her. Josephine, who among the young girls just
now had been all hilarity, grace, and familiarity, now again assumed the
bearing of a distinguished lady, of the consort of General Bonaparte,
and received the salutations of the ladies with condescending reserve.
She handed, however, to each of the ladies one of her splendid bouquets,
and had a pleasant word for every one. On arriving at the door of
the rooms destined for her private use, she dismissed the ladies and
beckoned her maid to follow her.

“Now, Amelia,” she said hurriedly, as soon as the door had closed
behind them--“now let us immediately attend to my wardrobe. I know
Bonaparte--he is always impetuous and impatient, and he regularly
arrives sooner than he has stated himself. He was to be here at two
o’clock, but he will arrive at one o’clock, and it is now almost noon.
Have the trunks brought up at once, for it is high time for me to
dress.”

Amelia hastened to carry out her mistress’s orders, and Josephine was
alone. She hurriedly stepped to the large looking-glass in the bedroom
and closely scanned in it her own features.

“Oh, oh! I am growing old,” she muttered after a while. “Bonaparte must
love me tenderly, very tenderly, not to notice it, or I must use great
skill not to let him see it. Eh bien, nous verrons!”

And she glanced at herself with such a triumphant, charming smile that
her features at once seemed to grow younger by ten years. “Oh, he shall
find me beautiful--he shall love me,” she whispered, “for I love him so
tenderly.”

Just then Amelia entered loaded with bandboxes and cartons, and
followed by the servants carrying the heavy trunks. Josephine personally
superintended the lowering of the trunks for the purpose of preventing
the men from injuring any of those delicate cartons; and when every
thing was at last duly arranged, she looked around with the triumphant
air of a great general mustering his troops and conceiving the plans for
his battle.

“Now lock the door and admit no one, Amelia,” she said, rapidly
divesting herself of her travelling-dress. “Within an hour I must be
ready to receive the general. But stop! We must first think of
Zephyr, who is sick and exhausted. The dear little fellow cannot stand
travelling in a coach. He frequently looked at me on the road most
dolorously and imploringly, as if he wanted to beseech me to discontinue
these eternal travels. Come, Zephyr; come, my dear little fellow.”

On hearing her voice, a small, fat pug-dog, with a morose face and a
black nose, arose from the trunk on which he had been lying, and waddled
slowly and lazily to his mistress.

“I really believe Zephyr is angry with me,” exclaimed Josephine,
laughing heartily. “Just look at him, Amelia--just notice this
reserved twinkling of his eyes, this snuffling pug-nose of his, this
proudly-erect head that seems to smell roast meat and at the same time
to utter invectives! He exactly resembles my friend Tallien when the
latter is making love to the ladies. Come, my little Tallien, I will
give you some sweetmeats, but in return you must be kind and amiable
toward Bonaparte; you must not bark so furiously when he enters; you
must not snap at his legs when he gives me a kiss; you must not snarl
when he inadvertently steps on your toes. Oh, be gentle, kind, and
amiable, my beautiful Zephyr, so as not to exasperate Bonaparte, for you
know very well that he does not like dogs, and that he would throw you
out of the window rather than suffer you at my feet.”

Patting the dog tenderly, she lifted him upon an arm-chair, and then
spread out biscuits and sweetmeats before him, which Zephyr commenced
examining with a dignified snuffling of the nose.

“Now, Amelia, we will attend to my toilet,” said Josephine, when she saw
that Zephyr condescended to eat some of the biscuits.

Amelia had opened all the trunks and placed a large number of small jars
and vials on the dressing-table. Josephine’s beauty stood already
in need of some assistance, and the amiable lady was by no means
disinclined to resort to cosmetics for this purpose. It is true, the
republican customs of the times despised rouge, for the latter had been
very fashionable during the reign of the “tyrant” Louis XVI., and Marie
Antoinette had greatly patronized this fashion and always painted
her cheeks. Nevertheless Josephine found rouge to be an indispensable
complement to beauty, and, as public opinion was adverse to it, she kept
her use of it profoundly secret. Amelia alone saw and knew it--Amelia
alone was a witness to all the little secrets and artifices by which
Josephine, the woman of thirty-three years, had to bolster up her
beauty. But only the head stood in need of some artificial assistance.
The body was as yet youthful, prepossessing, and remarkable for its
attractiveness and luxuriant forms, and when Josephine now had finished
her task, she was truly a woman of enchanting beauty and loveliness.
Her eyes were so radiant and fiery, her smile so sweet and sure of her
impending triumph, and the heavy white silk dress closely enveloped
her figure, lending an additional charm to its graceful and classical
outlines.

“Now, a few jewels,” said Josephine; “give me some diamonds, Amelia;
Bonaparte likes brilliant, sparkling trinkets. Come, I will select them
myself.”

She took from Amelia’s hands the large case containing all of her
caskets, and glanced at them with a smile of great satisfaction.

“Italy is very rich in precious trinkets and rare gems,” she said, with
a gentle shake of her head. “When, a few months ago, I came thither from
Paris, I had only three caskets, and the jewelry they contained was not
very valuable. Now, I count here twenty-four etuis, and they are filled
with the choicest trinkets. Just look at these magnificent pearls which
the Marquis de Lambertin has given to me. He is an old man, and I could
not refuse his princely gift. This casket contains a bracelet which
Mancini, the last Doge of Venice, presented to me, and which he
assured me was wrought by Benvenuto Cellini for one of his
great-great-grandmothers. This splendid set of corals and diamonds was
given to me by the city of Genoa when she implored my protection and
begged me to intercede with Bonaparte for her. And here--but do you not
hear the shouts? What does it mean! Should Bonaparte--”

She did not finish the sentence, but hastened to the window. The
market-place, which she was able to overlook from there, was now crowded
with people, but the dense masses had not assembled for the purpose of
seeing Josephine. All eyes were directed toward yonder street from which
constantly fresh and jubilant crowds of people were hurrying toward
the market-place, and where tremendous cheers, approaching closer and
closer, resounded like the angry roar of the sea. Now some white dots
might be discerned in the midst of the surging black mass. They came
nearer and grew more distinct; these dots were the heads of white
horses. They advanced very slowly, but the cheers made the welkin ring
more rapidly and were reechoed by thousands and thousands of voices.
Amidst these jubilant cheers the procession drew near, now it turned
from the street into the market-place. Josephine, uttering a joyful
cry, opened the window and waved her hand, for it was Bonaparte whom the
excited masses were cheering.

He sat all alone in an open barouche, drawn by six milk-white horses
magnificently caparisoned in a silver harness. [Footnote: “These six
horses with their magnificent harness were a gift from the Emperor of
Austria, who had presented them to Bonaparte after the peace of Campo
Fonnio. Bonaparte had rejected all other offers.”--Bourrienne, vol. 1.,
p. 389.]

Leaning back into the cushions in a careless and fatigued manner, he
scarcely seemed to notice the tremendous ovation that was tendered
to him. His face looked pale and tired; a cloud had settled on his
expansive marble forehead, and when he from time to time bowed his
thanks, he did so with a weary and melancholy smile. But it was exactly
this cold, tranquil demeanor, this humble reserve, this pale and gloomy
countenance that seemed to strike the spectators and fill them with
a feeling of strange delight and wondering awe. In this pale, cold,
sombre, and imposing face there was scarcely a feature that seemed to
belong to a mortal, earth-born being. It seemed as though the spectre of
one of the old Roman imperators, as though the shadow of Julius Caesar
had taken a seat in that carriage, and allowed the milk-white horses
to draw him into the surging bustle and turmoil of life. People were
cheering half from astonishment, half from fear; they were shouting,
“Long live Bonaparte!” as if they wanted to satisfy themselves that he
was really alive, and not merely the image of an antique imperator.

The carriage now stopped in front of the house. Before rising from
his seat, Bonaparte raised his eyes hastily to the windows. On seeing
Josephine, who stood at the open window, his features became more
animated, and a long, fiery flash from his eyes struck her face. But he
did not salute her, and the cloud on his brow grew even gloomier than
before.

“He is in bad humor and angry,” whispered Josephine, closing the window,
“and I am afraid he is angry with me. Good Heaven! what can it be
again? What may be the cause of his anger? I am sure I have committed no
imprudence--”

Just then the door was hastily opened, and Bonaparte entered.



CHAPTER XIX.

BONAPARTE AND JOSEPHINE.


Bonaparte had scarcely deigned to glance at the French ambassadors and
their ladies, who had received him at the foot of the staircase. All
his thoughts centred in Josephine. And bowing slightly to the ladies
and gentlemen, he had impetuously rushed upstairs and opened the door,
satisfied that she would be there and receive him with open arms.
When he did not see her, he passed on, pale, with a gloomy face, and
resembling an angry lion.

Thus he now rushed into the front room where he found Josephine. Without
saluting her, and merely fixing his flashing eyes upon her, he asked
in a subdued, angry voice: “Madame, you do not even deem it worth the
trouble to salute me! You do not come to meet me!”

“But, Bonaparte, you have given me no time for it,” said Josephine, with
a charming smile. “While I thought you were just about to alight from
your carriage, you burst already into this room like a thunder-bolt from
heaven.”

“Oh, and that has dazzled your eyes so much that you are even unable to
salute me?” he asked angrily.

“And you, Bonaparte?” she asked, tenderly. “You do not open your arms
to me! You do not welcome me! Instead of pressing me to your heart, you
scold me! Oh, come, my friend, let us not pass this first hour in so
unpleasant a manner! We have not seen each other for almost two months,
and--”

“Ah, madame, then you know that at least,” exclaimed Bonaparte; “then
you have not entirely forgotten that you took leave of me two months
ago, and that you swore to me at that time eternal love and fidelity,
and promised most sacredly to write to me every day. You have not kept
your oaths and pledges, madame!”

“But, my friend, I have written to you whenever I was told that a
courier would set out for your headquarters.”

“You ought to have sent every day a courier of your own for the purpose
of transmitting your letters to me,” exclaimed Bonaparte, wildly
stamping his foot, so that the jars and vials on the table rattled
violently, while Zephyr jumped down from his arm-chair and commenced
snarling. Josephine looked anxiously at him and tried to calm him by her
gestures.

Bonaparte continued: “Letters! But those scraps I received from time to
time were not even letters. Official bulletins of your health they were,
and as cold as ice. Madame, how could you write such letters to me, and
moreover only every fourth day? If you really loved me, you would have
written every day. But you do not love me any longer; I know it. Your
love was but a passing whim. You feel now how ridiculous it would be
for you to love a poor man who is nothing but a soldier, and who has to
offer nothing to you but a little glory and his love. But I shall banish
this love from my heart, should I have to tear my heart with my own
teeth.” [Footnote: Bonaparte’s own words.--Vide “Lettres a Josephine.
Memoires d’une Contemporaine,” vol. i., p. 853.]

“Bonaparte,” exclaimed Josephine, half tenderly, half anxiously, “what
have I done that you should be angry with me? Why do you accuse me of
indifference, while you know very well that I love you?”

“Ah, it is a very cold love, at all events,” he said, sarcastically.
“It is true, I am only your husband, and it is not in accordance with
aristocratic manners to love one’s husband; that is mean, vulgar,
republican! But I am a republican, and I do not want any wife with the
manners and habits of the ANCIEN REGIME. I am your husband, but woe to
him who seeks to become my wife’s lover! I would not even need my
sword in order to kill him. My eyes alone would crush him![Footnote:
Bonaparte’s own words.--Ibid.] And I shall know how to find him; and if
he should escape to the most remote regions, my arm is a far-reaching
one, and I will extend it over the whole world in order to grasp him.”

“But whom do you allude to?” asked Josephine, in dismay.

“Whom?” he exclaimed in a thundering voice. “Ah, madame, you believe I
do not know what has occurred? You believe I see and hear nothing when
I am no longer with you? Let me compliment you, madame! The handsome
aide-de-camp of Leclerc is a conquest which the ladies of Milan must
have been jealous of; and Botot, the spy, whom Barras sent after
me, passes even at Paris for an Adonis. What do you mean by your
familiarities with these two men, madame? You received Adjutant Charles
at eleven o’clock in the morning, while you never leave your bed before
one o’clock. Oh, that handsome young fellow wanted to tell you how he
was yearning for his home in Paris, and what his mother and sister had
written to him, I suppose? For that reason so convenient an hour had to
be chosen? For that reason he came at eleven o’clock while you were in
bed yet. His ardor was so intense, and if he had been compelled to wait
until one o’clock, impatience would have burned his soul to ashes!”
 [Footnote: Bonaparte’s own words.--Vide “Memoires d’un Contemporaine,”
 vol. ii., p. 80.]

“He wanted to set out for Paris precisely at twelve o’clock. That was
the only reason why I received him so early, my friend,” said Josephine,
gently.

“Oh, then, you do not deny that you have actually received him?” shouted
Bonaparte, and his face turned livid. With flaming eyes and uplifted
hand, he stepped up close to Josephine. “Madame,” he exclaimed, in a
thundering voice, “then you dare to acknowledge that Charles is your
lover?”

Before Josephine had time to reply to him Zephyr, who saw him threaten
his mistress, furiously pounced upon Bonaparte, barking and howling,
showing his teeth, and quite ready to lacerate whom he supposed to be
Josephine’s enemy.

“Ah, this accursed dog is here, too, to torment me!” exclaimed
Bonaparte, and raising his foot, he stamped with crushing force on the
body of the little dog. A single piercing yell was heard; then the blood
gushed from Zephyr’s mouth, and the poor beast lay writhing convulsively
on the floor. [Footnote: Vide “Rheinischer-Antiquar.,” vol. ii., p.
574.]

“Bonaparte, you have killed my dog,” exclaimed Josephine, reproachfully,
and bent over the dying animal.

“Yes,” he said, with an air of savage joy, “I have killed your dog, and
in the same manner I shall crush every living being that dares to step
between you and myself!”

Josephine had taken no notice of his words. She had knelt down by the
side of the dog, and tenderly patted his head and writhing limbs till
they ceased moving.

“Zephyr is dead,” she said rising. “Poor little fellow, he died because
he loved me. Pardon me, general, if I weep for him. But Zephyr was
a cherished souvenir from a friend who died only a short while ago.
General Hoche had given the dog to me.”

“Hoche?” asked Bonaparte, in some confusion.

“Yes, Lazarus Hoche, who died a few weeks ago. A few days before his
death he sent the dog to me while at Milan--Lazarus Hoche who, you know
it very well, loved me, and whose hand I rejected because I loved you,”
 said Josephine, with a noble dignity and calmness, which made a deeper
impression upon Bonaparte than the most poignant rebuke would have done.

“And now, general,” she proceeded, “I will reply to your reproaches.
I do not say that I shall JUSTIFY myself, because I thereby would
acknowledge the justice of your charges, but I will merely answer them.
I told you already why I admitted Charles at so early an hour. He was
about to set out for Paris, and I wished to intrust to him important and
secret letters and other commissions.”

“Why did not you send them by a special courier?” asked Bonaparte, but
in a much gentler voice than before.

“Because it would have been dangerous to send my letters to Botot by a
courier,” said Josephine, calmly.

“To Botot? Then you admit your familiarities with Botot, too? People
did not deceive me, then, when they told me that you received this
spy Botot, whom Barras had sent after me, in order to watch me, every
morning in your boudoir--that you always sent your maid away as soon as
he came, and that your interviews with him frequently lasted for hours?”

“That is quite true; I do not deny it,” said Josephine, proudly.

Bonaparte uttered an oath, and was about to rush at her. But she receded
a step, and pointing at the dead dog with a rapid gesture, she said:
“General, take care! There is no other dog here for you to kill, and I
am only a weak, defenceless woman; it would assuredly not behoove the
victor of Arcole to attack me!”

Bonaparte dropped his arm, and, evidently ashamed of himself, stepped
back several paces.

“Then you do not deny your intimate intercourse with Botot and Charles?”

“I do not deny that both of them love me, that I know it, and that I
have taken advantage of their love. Listen to me, general: I have taken
advantage of their love. That is mean and abominable; it is playing in
an execrable manner with the most exalted feelings of others, I know
it very well, but I did so for your sake, general--I did so in your
interest.”

“In my interest?” asked Bonaparte, in surprise.

“Yes, in your interest,” she said. “Now I can tell and confess every
thing to you. But as long as Charles and Botot were present, I could not
do so, for if you had ceased being jealous--if, warned by myself,
you had treated these two men kindly instead of showing your jealous
distrust of them by a hostile and surly demeanor, they might have
suspected my game and divined my intrigue, and I would have been unable
to avail myself any longer of their services.”

“But, for God’s sake, tell me what did you need their services for?”

“Ah, sir, I perceive that you know better how to wield the sword than
unravel intrigues,” said Josephine, with a charming smile. “Well, I
made use of my two lovers in order to draw their secrets from them. And
secrets they had, general, for you know Botot is the most intimate and
influential friend of Barras, and Madame Tallien adores Charles, the
handsome aide-de-camp. She has no secrets that he is not fully aware of,
and she does whatever he wants her to do; and again, whatever she wants
to be done, her husband will do--her husband, that excellent Tallien,
who with Barras is one of the five directors of our republic.”

“Oh, women, women!” muttered Bonaparte.

Josephine continued: “In this manner, general, I learned every scheme
and almost every idea of the Directory; in this manner, through my
devoted friends, Botot and Charles, I have succeeded in averting many a
foul blow from your own head. For you were menaced, general, and you
are menaced still. And what is menacing you? That is your glory and your
greatness--it is the jealousy of the five kings of France, who,
under the name of directors, are now reigning at the Luxemburg. The
Quintumvirate beheld your growing power and glory with terror and wrath,
and all endeavors of theirs only aimed at lessening your influence. A
favorite way of theirs for carrying out their designs against you was
the circulation of false news concerning you. Botot told me that Barras
had even hired editors to write against you, and to question your
integrity. These editors now published letters purporting to come from
Verona, and announcing that Bonaparte was about to proclaim himself
dictator. Then, again, they stated in some letter from the frontier, or
from a foreign country, that the whole of Lombardy was again on the eve
of an insurrection; that the Italians detested the tyranny imposed upon
them by the conqueror, and that they were anxious to recall their former
sovereigns.”

“Ah, the miserable villains!” exclaimed Bonaparte, gnashing his teeth,
“I--”

“Hush, general! listen to my whole reply to your reproaches,” said
Josephine, with imperious calmness. “At some other time these hirelings
of the press announced in a letter from Turin that an extensive
conspiracy was about to break out at Paris; that the Directory was to be
overthrown by this conspiracy, and that a dictatorship, at the head of
which Bonaparte would be, was to take place. They further circulated the
news all over the departments, that the ringleaders of the plot had been
arrested and sent to the military commissions for trial; but that the
conqueror of Italy had deemed it prudent to avoid arrest by running
away.” [Footnote: Le Normand, Memoires, vol. i., p. 267.]

“That is a truly infernal web of lies and infamies!” ejaculated
Bonaparte, furiously. “But I shall justify myself, I will go to Paris
and hurl the calumnies of these miserable Directors back into their
teeth!”

“General, there is no necessity for you to descend into the arena in
order to defend yourself,” said Josephine, smiling. “Your actions
speak for you, and your friends are watching over you. Whenever such an
article appeared in the newspapers. Botot forwarded it to me; whenever
the Directory sprang a new mine, Botot sent me word of it. And then I
enlisted the assistance of my friend Charles, and he had to refute those
articles through a journalist who was in my pay, and to foil the mine by
means of a counter-mine.”

“Oh, Josephine, how can I thank you for what you have done for me!”
 exclaimed Bonaparte, enthusiastically. “How--”

“I am not through yet, general,” she interrupted him, coldly. “Those
refutations and the true accounts of your glorious deeds found an
enthusiastic echo throughout the whole of France, and every one was
anxious to see you in the full splendor of your glory, and to do homage
to you at Paris. But the jealous Directory calculated in advance how
dangerous the splendor of your glory would be to the statesmen of the
Republic, and how greatly your return would eclipse the five kings. For
that reason they resolved to keep you away from Paris; for that reason
exclusively they appointed you first plenipotentiary at the congress
about to be opened at Rastadt, and intrusted the task to you to exert
yourself here for the conclusion of peace. They wanted to chain the lion
and make him feel that he has got a master whom he must obey.”

“But the lion will break the chain, and he will not obey,” exclaimed
Bonaparte, angrily. “I shall leave Rastadt on this very day and hasten
to Paris.”

“Wait a few days, general,” said Josephine, smiling. “It will be
unnecessary for you to take violent steps, my friends Botot and Charles
having worked with me for you. Botot alone not being sufficiently
powerful, inasmuch as he could influence none but Barras, I sent Charles
to his assistance in order to act upon Madame Tallien. And the stratagem
was successful. Take this letter which I received only yesterday
through a special messenger from Botot--you know Botot’s handwriting, I
suppose?”

“Yes, I know it.”

“Well, then, satisfy yourself that he has really written it,” said
Josephine, drawing a sheet of paper from her memorandum-book and handing
it to Bonaparte.

He glanced at it without touching the paper. “Yes, it is Botot’s
handwriting,” he murmured.

“Read it, general,” said Josephine.

“I do not want to read it; I believe all you tell me!” he exclaimed,
impetuously.

“I shall read it to you,” she said, “for the contents will interest
you. Listen therefore: ‘Adored Citoyenne Josephine.--We have reached the
goal--we have conquered! The Directory have at length listened to wise
remonstrances. They have perceived that they stand in need of a strong
and powerful arm to support them, and of a pillar to lean against. They
will recall Bonaparte in order that he may become their pillar and arm.
In a few days a courier will reach Bonaparte at Rastadt and recall
him to Paris.--BOTOT.’ That is all there is in the letter, General; it
contains nothing about love, but only speaks of you.”

“I see that I am the happiest of mortals,” exclaimed Bonaparte,
joyfully; “for I shall return to Paris, and my beautiful, noble, and
adored Josephine will accompany me.”

“No, general,” she said, solemnly, “I shall return to Italy; I shall
bury myself in some convent in order to weep there over the short dream
of my happiness, and to pray for you. Now I have told you every thing
I had to say to you. I have replied to your reproaches. You see that I
have meanly profited by the love of these poor men, that I have made
a disgraceful use of the most sacred feeling in order to promote your
interests. I did so secretly, for I told you already, general, your
valorous hand knows better how to wield the sword than to carry on
intrigues. A strong grasp of this hand might have easily destroyed the
whole artificial web of my plans, and for this reason I was silent. But
I counted on your confidence, on your esteem. I perceive now, however,
that I do not possess them, and this separates us forever. Unreserved
confidence is not only the nourishment that imparts life to friendship,
but without it love also pines away and dies. [Footnote: Josephine’s
own words.--Vide Le Normand, vol. i., p. 248.] Farewell, then, general;
I forgive your distrust, but I cannot expose myself any longer to your
anger. Farewell!”

She bowed and turned to the door. But Bonaparte followed her, and
keeping her back with both hands, he said, in a voice trembling with
emotion: “Where are you going, Josephine?”

“I told you already,” she sighed, painfully; “I am going to a convent to
weep and pray for you.”

“That means that you want to kill me!” he exclaimed, with flaming eyes.
“For you know I cannot live without you. If I had to lose you, your
love, your charming person, I would lose every thing rendering life
pleasant and desirable for me. Josephine, you are to me a world that is
incomprehensible to me, and every day I love you more passionately.
Even when I do not see you, my love for you is constantly growing;
for absence only destroys small passions; it increases great passions.
[Footnote: Bonaparte’s words.--Vide “Memoires d’une Contemporaine,” vol.
ii., p. 363.] My heart never felt any of the former. It proudly refused
to fall in love, but you have filled it with a boundless passion, with
an intoxication that seems to be almost degrading. You were always the
predominant idea of my soul; your whims even were sacred laws for me.
To see you is my highest bliss; you are beautiful and enchanting; your
gentle, angelic soul is depicted in your features. Oh, I adore you
just as you are; if you had been younger, I should have loved you less
intensely. Every thing you do seems virtuous to me; every thing you like
seems honorable to me. Glory is only valuable to me inasmuch as it is
agreeable to you and flatters your vanity. Your portrait always rests on
my heart, and whenever I am far from you, not an hour passes without
my looking at it and covering it with kisses. [Footnote: Vide
“Correspondance inedite avec Josephine,” Lettre v.] The glass broke the
other day when I pressed it too violently against my breast. My despair
knew no bounds, for love is superstitious, and every thing seems ominous
to it. I took it for an announcement of your death, and my eyes knew
no sleep, my heart knew no rest, till the courier whom I immediately
dispatched to you, had brought me the news that you were well, and that
no accident had befallen you. [Footnote: “Memoires sur Napoleon, par
Constant,” vol. i.. p. 809.] See, woman, woman, such is my love! Will
you now tell me again that you wish to leave me?”

“I must, general,” she said, firmly. “Love cannot be lasting without
esteem, and you do not esteem me. Your suspicion has dishonored me,
and a dishonored and insulted woman cannot be your wife any longer.
Farewell!”

She wanted to disengage herself from his hands, but he held her only the
more firmly. “Josephine,” he said, in a hollow voice, “listen to me, do
not drive me to despair, for it would kill me to lose you. No duty, no
title would attach me any longer to earth. Men are so contemptible, life
is so wretched--you alone extinguish the ignominy of mankind in my eyes.
[Footnote: “Correspondance inedite avec Josephine,” p. 875] Without you
there is no hope, no happiness. I love you boundlessly.”

“No, general, you despise me; you do not love me!”

“No, no!” he shouted, wildly stamping his foot. “If you go on in this
manner, I shall drop dead at your feet. Do not torment me so dreadfully.
Remember what I have often told you: Nature has given to me a strong,
decided soul, but it has made you of gauze and lace. You say I do not
love. Hear it, then, for the last time. Since you have been away from
me, I have not passed a single day without loving you, not a single
night without mentally pressing you to my heart. I have not taken a
single cup of tea without cursing the glory and ambition separating me
from the soul of my life. [Footnote: “Correspondance,” etc., p. 532.]
Amidst my absorbing occupations--at the head of my troops, on the march
and in the field--my heavenly Josephine ever was foremost in my heart.
She occupied my mind; she absorbed my thoughts. If I left you with the
impetuosity of the Rhone, I only did so in order to return the sooner to
your side. If I ran from my bed at night and continued working, I did
so for the purpose of accelerating the moment of our reunion. The most
beautiful women surrounded me, smiled upon me, gave me hopes of their
favor, and tried to please me, but none of them resembled you; none had
the gentle and melodious features so deeply imprinted on my heart.
I only saw you, only thought of you, and that rendered all of them
intolerable to me. I left the most beautiful women in order to throw
myself on my couch and sigh, ‘When will my adored wife be again with
me?’ [Footnote: Ibid., p. 349.] And if I just now gave way to an
ebullition of anger, I only did so because I love you so boundlessly as
to be jealous of every glance, of every smile. Forgive me, therefore,
Josephine, forgive me for the sake of my infinite love! Tell me that
you will think no more of it, and that you will forget and forgive every
thing.”

He looked at her anxiously and inquiringly, but Josephine did not reply
to his glances. She averted her eyes and remained silent.

“Josephine.” he exclaimed, perfectly beside himself, “make an end of
it. Just touch my forehead; it is covered with cold perspiration, and my
heart is trembling as it never trembled in battle. Make an end of it; I
am utterly exhausted. Oh, Josephine, my dear Josephine, open your arms
to me.”

“Well, come then, you dear, cruel husband,” she said, bursting into
tears and extending her arms to him.

Bonaparte uttered a joyful cry, pressed her to his heart, and covered
her with kisses.

“Now I am sure you have forgiven every thing,” he said, encircling
her all the time with his arms. “You forgive my madness, my abominable
jealousy?”

“I forgive every thing, Bonaparte, if you will promise not to be jealous
again,” she said, with a charming smile.

“I promise never to be jealous again, but to think, whenever you give a
rendezvous to another man, that you only do so for my sake, and for the
purpose of conspiring for me. Ah, my excellent wife, you have worked
bravely for me, and henceforth I know that I can intrust to your keeping
my glory and my honor with implicit confidence. Yea, even the helm of
the state I would fearlessly intrust to your hands. Pray, therefore,
Josephine, pray that your husband may reach the pinnacle of distinction,
for in that case I should give you a seat in my council of state and
make you mistress of every thing except one point--” [Footnote: Le
Normand, vol. i. p. 341.]

“And what is that?” asked Josephine, eagerly.

“The only thing I should not intrust to you, Josephine,” he said,
laughing, “would be the keys of my treasury; you never would get them,
my beautiful prodigal little wife of gauze, lace, diamonds, and pearls!”
 [Footnote: Ibid., vol. i., p. 342.]

“Ah, then you would deprive me of the right to distribute charities in
your name?” she asked, sadly. “Is not that the most precious and sublime
duty of the wife of a great man, to conquer Heaven for him by charities
while he is conquering earth by his deeds? And you would take from me
the means for doing so? Yours is a wild and passionate nature, and I
shall often have to heal the wounds that you have inflicted in your
outbursts of anger. Happy for me if I should always be able to heal
them, and if your anger should be less fatal to men than to my poor
little dog, who merely wanted to defend me against your violence.”

“Poor little dog!” said Bonaparte, casting a glance of confusion upon
Zephyr. “I greatly regret the occurrence, particularly as the dog was a
gift from Hoche. But no lamentations of mine being able to recall Zephyr
to life, Josephine, I will immortalize him at all events. He shall
not find an unknown grave, like many a hero; no, we will erect to this
valiant and intrepid defender of the charming fortress Josephine, a
monument which shall relate his exploits to the most remote posterity.
Have Zephyr packed up in a box; couriers and convoys of troops will set
out to-day for Milan. They shall take the corpse along, and I will issue
orders that a monument be erected to your Zephyr in the garden of our
villa. [Footnote: Bonaparte kept his word. The little victim of his
Jealousy, Zephyr, the dog, was buried in the gardens of Mondeza, near
Milan, and a marble monument was erected on his grave.--Le Normand, vol.
i., p. 498.] But now, Josephine, I must leave you; life, with its
stern realities, is calling me. I must go and receive the Austrian
ambassadors.”



CHAPTER XX.

THE RECEPTION OF THE AMBASSADORS.


A motley crowd of gentlemen in uniforms and glittering gala-dresses had
filled the anterooms of the French embassy ever since the arrival of
General Bonaparte and Josephine. All these high-born representatives of
German sovereigns and states hastened to do homage to the French lady
and to commend themselves to the benevolence and favor of the victorious
general of the republic. But the doors of the general and of his wife
were as difficult to open as those of the French ambassadors, Bonnier,
Jean Debry, and Roberjot. General Bonaparte had received the Austrian
ambassadors, and returned their visit. But nobody else had been admitted
to him during the first day. The ambassadors, therefore, flocked the
more eagerly on this second day after his arrival to the anterooms of
the French ambassadors, for every one wanted to be the first to win for
his sovereign and for his state the good-will of the French conqueror.
Every one wished to obtain advantages, to avert mischief, and to beg for
favors.

Happy were they already who had only succeeded in penetrating into the
anterooms of the French embassy, for a good deal of money had to be
spent in order to open those doors. In front of them stood the footmen
of the ambassadors with grave, stern countenances, refusing to admit any
but those who had been previously recommended to them, or who knew now
how to gain their favor by substantial rewards. [Footnote: The employes
of the French embassy, from the first secretary down to the lowest
footman and cook, received handsome gifts at the hands of the German
delegates, for every one was anxious to secure the goodwill of
the French representatives; and in obedience to the old trick of
diplomatists, they tried to gain the favor of the masters by means of
that of their servants. The latter made a very handsome thing out of
it.--Vide Hausser, vol. ii., p. 163.] And when they finally, by means
of such persuasive gifts, had succeeded in crossing the threshold of
the anteroom, they found there the clerks and secretaries of the French
gentlemen, and these men again barred the door of the cabinet occupied
by the ambassadors themselves. These clerks and secretaries had to be
bribed likewise by solicitations, flatteries, and money; only, instead
of satisfying them with silver, as in the case of the doorkeepers, they
had to give them heavy gold pieces.

Having finally overcome all these obstacles--having now penetrated into
the presence of the French diplomatists--the ambassadors of the German
powers met with a haughty reserve instead of the kindness they had hoped
for, and with sarcastic sneers in lieu of a warm reception. It was
in vain for Germany thus to humble herself and to crouch in the dust.
France was too well aware of her victories and superiority, and the
servility of the German aristocracy only excited contempt and scorn,
which the French gentlemen did not refrain from hurling into the faces
of the humble solicitors. The greater the abjectness of the latter, the
more overbearing the haughty demeanor of the former, and both gained the
firm conviction that France held the happiness and quiet of Germany in
her hands, and that France alone had the power to secure to the German
princes the possession of their states, to enlarge their dominions, or
to deprive them thereof, just as she pleased, and without paying any
deference to the wishes of the Germans themselves.

To-day, however, all these distinguished men--the counts and barons of
the empire, the bishops and other ecclesiastical dignitaries--had not
appeared for the purpose of conquering the favor of the three French
stars--to-day a new constellation had arisen on the sky of Rastadt,
and they wanted to stare at it--they wanted to admire Bonaparte and
Josephine.

But Bonaparte took hardly any notice of the crowd assembled in the
anteroom. His hands folded on his back, he was pacing his room,
and listening with rapt attention to the accounts the three French
ambassadors were giving him concerning the policy they had pursued up to
the present time.

“We have done every thing in our power to spread republican notions
hereabouts,” said Jean Debry, at the conclusion of his lengthy remarks.
“We have sent agents to all of these small German states for the purpose
of enlightening the people about their dignity, their rights, and the
disgrace of submitting to miserable princes, instead of being free and
great under the wholesome influence of republican institutions.”

“We have, moreover, even here, excellent spies among the ambassadors,”
 said Roberjot, “and through them we have skilfully fanned the flames
of that discord which seems to be the bane of Germany. It is true, they
hold secret meetings every day in order to agree on a harmonious line of
policy, but discord, jealousy, and covetousness always accompany them
to those meetings, and they are therefore never able to agree about any
thing. Besides, these German noblemen are very talkative, hence we
find out all their secrets, and it is an easy task for us to foil
every scheme of theirs. Every one of them is anxious to enlarge his
possessions; we therefore give them hopes of acquiring new territory at
the expense of their neighbors, and thereby greatly increase the discord
and confusion prevailing among them. We fill the ambassadors of
the secondary princes, and especially those of the ecclesiastical
sovereigns, with distrust against the more powerful German states, and
intimate to them that the latter are trying to aggrandize themselves at
their expense, and that they have asked the consent of France to do
so. We inform the first-class governments of the desire of the smaller
princes to enlarge their dominions, and caution them against placing
implicit trust in their representations. Thus we sow the seeds of
discord among these princely hirelings, and endeavor to undermine the
thrones of Germany.”

“Germany must throw off all her princes like ripe ulcers,” exclaimed
Bonnier, scornfully. “These numerous thrones beyond the Rhine are
dangerous and fatal to our sublime and indivisible French Republic--bad
examples spoiling good manners. Every throne must disappear from the
face of the earth, and freedom and equality must shine throughout the
whole world like the sun.”

“You are right,” said Bonaparte, gravely. “It is our duty to disseminate
our principles among these Germans, who are living in slavery as yet,
and to assist the poor serfs in obtaining their liberty. Germany must
become a confederate republic, and discord is the best sword wherewith
to attack these princely hirelings. But what does the Swedish
ambassador--whose name I noticed on the list of applicants for
interviews with myself--here among the representatives of the German
princes?”

“He pretends to participate in the congress of peace because Sweden
warranted the execution of the treaty of Westphalia,” exclaimed Jean
Debry, shrugging his shoulders.

“Bah! that is a most ridiculous pretext,” said Bonnier, gloomily. “This
M. Fersen is a royalist. The political part played by this diplomatist
at the court of Louis Capet, and afterward continued by him, is only
too well known. He now tries to dazzle us by his kindness merely for the
purpose of laying a trap for the French Republic.”

“Ah, we shall show to the gentleman that the Republic has got an open
eye and a firm hand, and that it discovers and tears all such meshes and
traps,” said Bonaparte, impetuously. “But we have done business enough
for to-day, and I will go and receive the ambassadors who have been
waiting here for a long while in the ante-room.”

He saluted the three gentlemen with a familiar nod, and then repaired to
the reception-room, the doors of which were opened at last to admit the
German ambassadors.

It was a brilliant crowd now entering in a solemn procession through the
opened folding-doors. The ambassadors of every German sovereign were
in attendance; only the representatives of Austria and Prussia, whom
Bonaparte had received already in a special audience, were absent.

This German peace delegation, which now entered the room to do homage
to the French general, was a very large one. There were first the
ambassadors of Bavaria and Saxony, of Baden and Wurtemberg, of Hanover
and Mecklenburg; then followed the host of the small princes
and noblemen, by whose side the ecclesiastical dignitaries, the
representatives of the electors and bishops, were walking in. [Footnote:
The whole German peace delegation consisted of seventy-nine persons, and
all these seventy-nine distinguished men, the ambassadors of emperor,
kings, and princes, tried to gain the favor of the ambassadors of
France: and the three gentlemen, representing the great Republic, seemed
more powerful and influential than all the representatives of Germany.]

Bonaparte stood proudly erect in the middle of the room, his gloomy
glances inspecting the gentlemen, who now commenced stationing
themselves on both sides of the apartment. A master of ceremonies, who
had been previously selected for the meetings of the peace congress, now
walked solemnly through the ranks and announced in a ringing voice the
name, rank, and position of every ambassador.

“His excellency Count Fersen,” he shouted just now, in a solemn manner,
“ambassador of his majesty the King of Sweden and Duke of Pomerania.”

Count Fersen had not yet finished his ceremonious obeisance, When
Bonaparte rapidly approached him.

“Just tell me, sir,” he exclaimed, bluntly; “what is the name of the
minister whom Sweden has now in Paris?”

Count Fersen looked in evident surprise and confusion at the pale face
of the general, whose flaming eyes were fixed upon him with an angry
expression.

“I do not know,” he faltered, “I am not quite sure--”

“Ah, sir, you know only too well that Sweden has not yet given a
successor to M. de Haill,” Bonaparte interrupted him violently, “and
that the only ambassador whom she was willing to send had to be rejected
by the Directory. You were this ambassador whom the Directory would not
tolerate in Paris. Friendly ties have united France and Sweden for
a long series of years, and I believe Sweden ought to appreciate and
recognize their importance at the present time more than ever. How,
then, is the conduct of the court of Stockholm to be explained, that
tries to make it its special business to send everywhere, either to
Paris or wherever the plenipotentiaries of France may be seen, ministers
and ambassadors who must be peculiarly distasteful to every citizen of
France?”

“That is certainly not the intention of my court,” exclaimed Count
Fersen, hastily.

“That may be,” said Bonaparte, proudly, “but I should like to know if
the King of Sweden would remain indifferent in case a French ambassador
should try to instigate an insurrection of the people of Stockholm
against him! The French Republic cannot permit men, whose connection
with the old court of France is a matter of notoriety, to appear in
official capacities, and thus to irritate and humble the republican
ambassadors, the representatives of the first nation on earth, who,
before consulting her policy, knows how to maintain her dignity.”

“I shall immediately set out for Stockholm in order to communicate these
views of the conqueror of Italy to my court,” said Count Fersen, pale
with shame and mortification.

“Do so, set out at once,” exclaimed Bonaparte, impetuously, “and tell
your master, unless he should conclude to pursue a different policy,
I will send him some day a skilful diplomatic Gascon who knows how to
simplify the machine and make it go less rapidly. King Gustavus will
perhaps find out, when it is too late, and at his own expense, that
the reins of government must be firmly held in one hand, and the other
skilfully wield the sword, while it is yet time. Go, sir, and inform
your king of what I have told you!”

Count Fersen made no reply; he merely bowed hastily and silently, and,
beckoning his attaches who were standing behind him, he left the room
with his suite. [Footnote: This whole scene actually took place, and
contains only such words as really were exchanged between Bonaparte and
Fersen.--Vide “Memoires d’un Homme d’Etat,” vol. v., p. 64. Le Normand,
Memoires, vol. i., p. 263.]

Bonaparte’s flashing eyes followed him until he had disappeared, and
then the general turned once more to the ambassadors.

“I could not suffer a traitor and enemy in our assembly,” he said, in a
loud and firm voice. “We are here in order to make peace, while he was
secretly anxious for a renewal of war, and was bent upon sowing the evil
seeds of discord among us. Let us all endeavor to make peace, gentlemen,
to the best of our power. Do not compel me to enter the lists against
you, too, for the struggle could not be doubtful between a nation that
has just conquered her liberty, and princes who tried to deprive her
of it again. If you reject to-day the pacific overtures I shall make to
you, I shall impose other conditions to-morrow; but woe unto him among
you, who should refuse my mediation; for in that case I should overthrow
the whole framework of a false policy, and the thrones standing on a
weak foundation would soon break down. I speak to you with the frankness
of a soldier and the noble pride of a victorious general; I caution you
because I have the welfare of the nations at heart, who more than ever
need the blessings of peace. It is now for you to say whether we shall
have war or peace, and it will solely depend upon your submissiveness
whether France will be able to conclude an honorable peace with her
German neighbors, or whether you will compel us to take up arms once
more. But in that case woe unto you, for we should retaliate in the
most terrible manner on those who would dare to oppose us!” [Footnote:
Bonaparte’s own words.--Vide Le Normand, vol. i.. p. 964]

He paused and rapidly glanced at the assembled gentlemen. They stood
before him with grave and gloomy faces, but none of them were courageous
enough to make a dignified reply to the proud and humiliating words
of the French general. The ambassadors of Germany received the severe
lecture of the representative of France with silent submissiveness.

An imperceptible smile played on Bonaparte’s lips. He saluted the
gentlemen with a slight nod and rapidly returned to his own rooms.



CHAPTER XXI.

FRANCE AND AUSTRIA.


Bonaparte had scarcely reached his room and just closed the door, when
the opposite door opened, and the entering footman announced, “His
excellency Count Louis Cobenzl.” Bonaparte waved his hand and went to
meet the count in the anteroom, where he welcomed him with the utmost
kindness and courtesy.

The two gentlemen thereupon reentered the room hand in hand, a pleasant
smile playing on their lips, while both were assuring each other of
their kind intentions, but at the same time secretly entertaining
the ardent desire and purpose to divine their mutual thoughts, but to
conceal their own schemes. The general, with great politeness, offered
the seat of honor on the sofa to the count, and sat down in an arm-chair
in front of him. A small round table with writing-materials and paper
stood between them, forming as it were the frontier between Austria and
France.

“So the ardent desires of Austria are fulfilled now,” said Count
Cobenzl, with a sweet smile. “France will no longer oppose us; she will
be our friend and ally.”

“France will welcome this new friend and ally of hers,” exclaimed
Bonaparte, feelingly, “provided Austria’s intentions are loyal. Ah, my
dear count, no protestations now! In politics words prove nothing,
deeds every thing. Let Austria, then, prove by her deeds that she really
desires to keep up a good understanding with France, and that she has
given up forever her hostile attitude toward the republic.”

“But has not Austria given proof of her intentions toward France
already?” asked the count, in surprise. “Has not his majesty the emperor
declared his willingness to resume diplomatic relations with France,
and thereby formally and before the whole world to recognize the French
Republic?”

“Sir,” exclaimed Bonaparte, “the French Republic does not humbly solicit
to be recognized. She compels hostile states to recognize her, for, like
the sun, she sheds her light over the whole globe, and she would pierce
the eyes of such as would feign not to see her, rendering them blind for
all time to come! [Footnote: Bonaparte’s own words.--Vide Constant, vol.
i., p. 284.] Austria beheld this radiant sun of the republic at Lodi,
at Rivoli, Arcole, and Mantua; whence, then, would she derive courage
enough to refuse recognizing France? But instead of words, prove to us
by your actions that your friendship is honest and sincere.”

“We are ready to do so,” said Count Cobenzl, politely. “Austria is
ready to give a public and brilliant proof of her devotion to the great
general whose glory is now filling the whole world with astonishment and
admiration. His majesty the emperor, in the letter which I had the honor
of delivering to you some time ago, told you already in eloquent words
how greatly he admired the conqueror of Italy, and how gladly his
majesty, if it were in his power, would grant you such favors as would
be agreeable to you. But at that time you rejected all such offers,
general, and nothing could induce you to accept of what we wished to
present to you. It seemed not to have value enough to--”

“Rather say, count, it was all too valuable not to be looked upon as a
bribe,” exclaimed Bonaparte. “I was negotiating with you, sword in hand,
and it would not have been becoming of me to lay the sword aside in
order to fill my hands with your presents.”

“But now, general, now that we have laid the sword aside, that we have
made peace, that we have exchanged the ratifications of the treaty--now
that you tender your hand to Austria in friendship and peace, you might
permit his majesty the Emperor of Austria to deposit something in your
friendly hand, that might prove to you how sincerely my august master
the emperor is devoted to you.”

“And what does the emperor desire to deposit in my hand?” asked
Bonaparte, with a quiet smile.

Count Cobenzl hesitated a little before making a reply. “General,” he
then said, “when I see you thus before me in your marble beauty, I
am involuntarily reminded of the heroes of Rome and Greece, who have
immortalized the glory of their countries, but whom the admiration of
posterity had to compensate for the ingratitude of their contemporaries.
General, republics never were grateful to their great men, and only too
often have they stigmatized their most glorious deeds; for the republics
deprecated the greatness of their heroes, because he who distinguished
himself, thereby annulled the equality and fraternity of all the
citizens. Pericles was banished from Athens, and Julius Caesar was
assassinated! General, will modern republics be more grateful than those
of antiquity? For my part, I dare say, it is rather doubtful, and the
French being descendants of the Romans, I am afraid they will not prove
any more grateful than the latter. The emperor, my august master, shares
my fears, and as he loves and venerates you, he would like to exalt you
so high as to prevent the hands of the political factions from reaching
up to you. His majesty therefore proposes to create a principality
for you in Germany, and to make you the sovereign ruler of two hundred
thousand people, appointing you at the same time a prince of the German
empire, and giving you a seat and vote at the imperial diet. [Footnote:
Historical.--Vide “Memoires d’un Homme d’Etat,” vol. V., p. 67.]
General, do you accept my emperor’s offer?”

“To become the emperor’s vassal?” asked Bonaparte, with an imperceptible
smile. “A small prince of the German empire who on solemn occasions
might be deemed worthy to present the wash-basin to the emperor, or to
be his train bearer, while every king and elector would outrank me. No,
my dear count, I do not accept the offer. I sincerely thank the emperor
for the interest he takes in my welfare, but I must accept no gifts or
favors not coming directly from the French nation, and I shall always
be satisfied with the income bestowed upon me by the latter,” [Footnote:
Bonaparte’s own reply.--Vide “Memoires d’un Homme d’Etat,” vol. V., p.
51.]

“You reject the emperor’s offer?” asked Cobenzl, mournfully--“you
disdain wearing a crown?”

“If the crown should crush the few laurels with which my victories have
adorned me, yes; in that case I should prefer to decline the crown in
favor of my laurels. And, my dear count, if I had been so anxious for a
crown, I might have picked up one of those crowns that fell down at my
feet in Italy. But I preferred to crush them under my heels, just as
St. George crushed the dragon; and the gold of the crushed crowns, as it
behooved a good and dutiful son, I laid down on the altar of the great
French Republic. So you see I am not longing for crowns. If I might
follow my own inclinations, I should return to the silence and obscurity
of my former life, and I should lay my sword aside in order to live only
as a peaceable citizen.”

“Oh, general, if you should do so,” exclaimed Cobenzl, “there would
soon be men to pick up your sword in order to fight with it against the
Republic and to recall the Bourbons to the throne of the lilies.”

A rapid flash from Bonaparte’s eyes struck the count’s face and met his
sharp, searching glance.

“Count Cobenzl,” he said, quietly and coldly, “the lilies of France
have dropped from their stems, and, being drowned in the blood of the
guillotine, they could not be made to bloom again. He would be a poor,
short-sighted gardener who would try to draw flowers from seeds dead
and devoid of germs. And believe me, we are no such poor, short-sighted
gardeners in France. You alluded just now to the ingratitude of
republics, and you apprehended lest I might likewise suffer thereby.
Let me assure you, however, that even my country’s ingratitude would be
dearer to me than the gratitude of a foreign power, and that the crown
of thorns, which France may press upon my head, would seem to me more
honorable than the coronet with which an enemy of France might adorn
my brow. And now, count, a truce to such trifling matters! Let us speak
about business affairs. We have signed the ratifications of peace, which
are to be laid before the congress; it only remains for us to sign the
secret articles which shall be known by none but France and Austria. The
main point is the evacuation of Mentz by your troops, so that our army
may ocupy the fortress.”

“I am afraid, general, this very point will be a stumbling-block for the
members of the congress. They will raise a terrible hue and cry as soon
as they learn that we have surrendered Mentz.”

“Let these gentlemen say what they please,” said Bonaparte,
contemptuously; “we have called them hither that they may talk, and
while they are talking, we shall act!”

“They will say that Austria has sacrificed the welfare and greatness
of Germany to her own private interests,” exclaimed Count Cobenzl,
anxiously.

“Fools are they who care for what people will say!” replied Bonaparte,
shrugging his shoulders. “A prudent man will pursue his path directly
toward his aim, and the hum of babblers never disturbs him. Hear, then,
my last words: in case the Austrian troops do not leave Mentz within one
week, and surrender the fortress to the French forces, the French army
will remain in Venice, and I would sooner send the latter city to the
bottom of the sea than to let Austria have a single stone of hers. Mentz
must be ours, or I tear the treaty, and hostilities will recommence!”

And Bonaparte, with a furious gesture, seized the papers lying on the
table and was about to tear them, when Count Cobenzl suddenly jumped up
and grasped his hands.

“General,” he said, imploringly, “what are you going to do?”

“What am I going to do?” exclaimed Bonaparte, in a thundering voice, “I
am going to tear a treaty of peace, which you merely wanted to sign with
words, but not with deeds! Oh, that was the nice little trick of your
diplomacy, then! With your prince’s coronet you wanted to dazzle my
eyes--with the two hundred thousand subjects you offered me just now,
you wanted me to corrupt my soul, and induce me to barter away the
honor and greatness of France for the miserable people of a petty German
prince! No, sir. I shall not sell my honor at so low a price. I stand
here in the name of the French Republic and ask you, the representative
of Austria, to fulfil what we have agreed upon at Campo Formic. Mentz
must be ours even before our troops leave Venice. If you refuse that, it
is a plain infringement of the treaty, and hostilities will be resumed.
Now, sir, come to a decision. I am only a soldier, and but a poor
diplomatist, for with my sword and with my word I always directly strike
at my aim. In short, then, count, will you withdraw your troops from
Mentz and from the other fortresses on the Rhine, and surrender Mentz to
our army? Yes, or no?”

“Yes, yes,” exclaimed Count Cobenzl, with a sigh, “we will fulfil
your wishes--we will withdraw our troops from Mentz and surrender the
fortress to the French.”

“When will the surrender take place? As speedily as possible, if you
please.”

“On the ninth of December, general.”

“Very well, on the ninth of December. The matter is settled, then.”

“But let there be no solemn ceremonies at the surrender,” said the
count, imploringly. “Let our troops withdraw quietly--let your forces
occupy the place in the same manner, so that when the delegates of
the German empire, assembled in congress in this city, and to whom the
Emperor of Germany has solemnly guaranteed the entire integrity and
inviolability of the empire, hear the news of the transaction, the
latter may be already an accomplished fact, to which every one must
submit.”

“Be it so, if that be Austria’s desire,” said Bonaparte, smiling.

“And now we will consider the other secret articles. The Austrian
troops retire from the German empire up to the line of the Inn and Lech,
occupying hereafter only Austrian territory.”

“Yes, general; in return for all these concessions on our part, the
French troops will evacuate on the thirtieth of December the fortresses
and territory of Venice, which has been ceded to Austria by the treaty
of Campo Formio, and retire behind the line of demarcation.”

“Granted! At the same time the troops of the republic seize the
tete-de-pont at Mannheim either by intimidating the isolated garrison,
or by making a sudden dash at the position, [Footnote: “Memoires d’un
Homme d’Etat.” The French took the tete-de-pont at Mannheim by assault,
on the 15th of January, 1798, the garrison refusing to evacuate it.
Mentz surrendered without firing a gun, and during the night of the
28th of December 1797, the French entered this great fortress, which was
thereupon annexed to the French Republic] and during the continuation of
the negotiations here at Rastadt, the French forces leave the left bank
of the Rhine and occupy the right bank from Basle to Mentz.”

“Granted,” sighed Count Cobenzl. “Austria yields the frontier of the
Rhine to France--that is, by the simultaneous retreat of her own forces
she surrenders to the republic the most important points of the German
empire, including Ehrenbreitstein. The congress of the states of the
German empire will deliberate, therefore, under the direct influence
produced by the immediate neighborhood of a French army.”

“In case the delegates of Germany do not like the looks of the French
soldiers, they may turn their eyes to the other side, where the Austrian
army is encamped on the Danube and on the Lech,” exclaimed Bonaparte.
“Thus the delegates will be surrounded by two armies. This fact may
interfere a little with the freedom of speech during the session of
congress, but it will be advantageous, too, inasmuch as it will induce
the delegates to accelerate their labors somewhat, and to finish their
task sooner than they would have done under different circumstances.”

“It is true, right in the face of these two armies at least the small
German princes will not dare to oppose the German emperor in ceding
the entire left bank of the Rhine to France. But it is only just and
equitable for us to indemnify them for their losses. In one of our
secret articles, therefore, we should acknowledge the obligation of
promising compensations to the princes and electors--”

“Yes, let us promise compensations to them,” said Bonaparte, with a
tinge of sarcasm. “As to the possessions of Prussia on the left bank of
the Rhine, France declares her readiness to give them back to the King
of Prussia.”

“But both powers agree not to allow the King of Prussia to acquire any
new territory,” exclaimed Count Cobenzl, hastily.

“Yes, that was our agreement at Campo Formio,” said Bonaparte.
“Austria’s increase of territory, besides Venice, will consist of
Salzburg and a piece of Upper Bavaria. In case she should make
further conquests in the adjoining states, France may claim a further
aggrandizement on the right bank of the Rhine.” [Footnote: Schlosser’s
“History of the Eighteenth Century,” vol. v., p. 43.]

“Yes, that was the last secret article of the preliminaries of Campo
Formio,” said Cobenzl, sighing.

“Then we have remained entirely faithful to our agreement,” said
Bonaparte. “We have not made any alterations whatever in the programme
which we agreed upon and deposed in writing at the castle of Campo
Formio. It only remains for us to-day to sign these secret articles.”

He took the pen and hastily signed the two documents spread out on the
table.

Count Cobenzl signed them also; but his hand was trembling a little
while he was writing, and his face was clouded and gloomy. Perhaps he
could not help feeling that Austria just now was signing the misery and
disgrace of Germany in order to purchase thereby some provinces, and
that Austria enlarged her territory at the expense of the empire whose
emperor was her own ruler--Francis II. Their business being finished,
the two plenipotentiaries rose, and Count Cobenzl withdrew. Bonaparte
accompanied him again to the door of the anteroom, and then returned to
his cabinet.

A proud, triumphant smile was now playing on his pale, narrow lips,
and his eyes were beaming and flashing in an almost sinister manner.
Stepping back to the table, he fixed his eyes upon the document with the
two signatures.

“The left bank of the Rhine is ours!” he said, heavily laying his hand
upon the paper. “But the right bank?”

He shook his head, and folding his arms upon his back, he commenced
pacing the room, absorbed in profound reflections. His features had now
resumed their marble tranquillity; it was again the apparation of Julius
Caesar that was walking up and down there with inaudible steps, and the
old thoughts of Julius Caesar, those thoughts for which he had to suffer
death, seemed to revive again in Bonaparte’s mind, for at one time he
whispered, “A crown for me! A crown in Germany. It would be too small
for me! If my hand is to grasp a crown, it must--”

He paused and gazed fixedly at the wall as if he saw the future there,
that arose before him in a strange phantasmagoria.

After a long pause, he started and seemed to awake from a dream.

“I believe I will read the letter once more, which I received yesterday
by mail,” he murmured, in an almost inaudible tone. “It is a wonderful
letter, and I really would like to know who wrote it.”

He drew a folded paper from his bosom and opened it. Stepping into a bay
window, he perused the letter with slow, deliberate glances. The bright
daylight illuminated his profile and rendered its antique beauty even
more conspicuous. Profound silence surrounded him, and nothing was heard
hut his soft and slow respiration and the rustling of the paper.

When he had finished it, he commenced perusing it again, but this
time he seemed to be anxious to hear what he was reading. He read
it, however, in a very low and subdued voice, and amidst the silence
surrounding him the words that fell from the lips of the resurrected
Caesar sounded like the weird whispers of spirits.

“You have to choose now between so great an alternative,” he read, “that
however bold your character may be, you must be uncertain as to the
determination you have to come to, if you are to choose between respect
and hatred, between glory or disgrace, between exalted power or an
abject insignificance, that would lead you to the scaffold, and,
finally, between the immortality of a great man, or that of a punished
partisan.”

“Ah!” exclaimed Bonaparte, and his voice was now loud and firm. “Ah! I
shall never hesitate between such alternatives. I should bear disgrace,
abject insignificance, and an utter lack of power? And my hand should
not be withered--it should be able yet to grasp a sword and pierce my
breast with it?”

He lowered his eyes again and continued reading: “You have to choose
between three parts: the first is to return quietly to France and to
live there as a plain and unassuming citizen; the second, to return to
France at the head of an army and there to become the leader of a party;
the third, to establish a great empire in Italy and proclaim yourself
king of the peninsula. I advise you to do so, and to grasp the Italian
crown with a firm hand.” [Footnote: Sabatier de Castres, living at
that time in exile at Hamburg, had written this anonymous letter to
Bonaparte.]

“He is a fool,” said Bonaparte, “who believes a man might make himself
king of Italy and maintain himself on the throne, unless he previously
has seized the sovereign power in France, [Footnote: “Memoires d’un
Homme d’Etat,” vol. v., p. 69.] But no one must hear these thoughts! I
will go to Josephine!”

He hastily folded the paper and concealed it again in his bosom. Then
stepping to the looking-glass, he closely scanned his face in order to
see whether or not it might betray his thoughts; and when he had found
it to be as pale and impassive as ever, he turned round and left the
room.



CHAPTER XXII.

THE BANNER OF GLORY.


Four days had elapsed since Bonaparte’s arrival at Rastadt, and the
congress had profited by them in order to give the most brilliant
festivals to the French general and his beautiful wife. All those
ambassadors, counts, barons, bishops, and diplomatists seemed to
have assembled at Rastadt for the sole purpose of giving banquets,
tea-parties, and balls; no one thought of attending to business, and all
more serious ideas seemed to have been utterly banished, while every
one spoke of the gorgeous decorations of the ball-rooms and of the
magnificence of the state dinners, where the most enthusiastic toasts
were drunk in honor of the victorious French general; and the people
seemed most anxious entirely to forget poor, suffering, and patient
Germany.

Josephine participated in these festivities with her innate cheerfulness
and vivacity. She was the queen of every party; every one was doing
homage to her; every one was bent upon flattering her in order to catch
an affable word, a pleasant glance from her; and, encouraged by her
unvaried kindness, to solicit her intercession with her husband, in
whose hands alone the destinies of the German princes and their states
now seemed to lie.

But while Josephine’s radiant smiles were delighting every one--while
she was promising to all to intercede for them with her husband,
Bonaparte’s countenance remained grave and moody, and it was only in a
surly mood that he attended the festivals that were given in his honor.
His threatening glances had frequently already been fixed upon his wife,
and those moody apprehensions, ever alive in his jealous breast, had
whispered to him: “Josephine has deceived you again! In order to silence
your reproaches, she invented a beautiful story, in which there is not
a word of truth, for the letter that was to call you back to Paris does
not arrive, and the Directory keeps you here at Rastadt.”

And while he was indulging in such reflections, his features assumed a
sinister expression, and his lips muttered: “Woe to Josephine, if she
should have deceived me!”

Thus the fourth day had arrived, and the Bavarian ambassador was to give
a brilliant soiree. Bonaparte had promised to be present, but he had
said to Josephine, in a threatening manner, that he would attend only if
the expected courier from Paris did arrive in the course of the day, so
that he might profit by the Bavarian ambassador’s party to take leave of
all those “fawning and slavish representatives of the German empire.”

But no courier had made his appearance during the whole morning.
Bonaparte had retired to his closet and was pacing the room like an
angry lion in his cage. All at once, however, the door was hastily
opened, and Josephine entered with a radiant face, holding in her
uplifted right hand a large sealed letter.

“Bonaparte!” she shouted, in a jubilant voice, “can you guess what I
have got here?”

He ran toward her and wanted to seize the letter. But Josephine would
not let him have it, and concealed it behind her back. “Stop, my dear
sir,” she said. “First you must beg my pardon for the evil thoughts I
have read on your forehead during the last few days. Oh, my excellent
general, you are a poor sinner, and I really do not know if I am at
liberty to grant you absolution and to open the gates of paradise to
you.”

“But what have I done, Josephine?” he asked. “Was I not as patient as a
lamb? Did I not allow myself to be led like a dancing-bear from festival
to festival? Did I not look on with the patience of an angel while every
one was making love to you, and while you were lavishing smiles and
encouraging, kind glances in all directions?”

“What have you done, Bonaparte?” she retorted gravely. “You inwardly
calumniated your Josephine. You accused her in your heart, and day
and night the following words were written on your forehead in flaming
characters: ‘Josephine has deceived me.’ Do you pretend to deny it,
sir?”

“No,” said Bonaparte, “I will not deny any thing, dear, lovely expounder
of my heart! I confess my sins, and implore your forgiveness. But now,
Josephine, be kind enough not to let me wait any longer. Let me have the
letter!”

“Hush, sir! this letter is not directed to you, but to myself,” replied
Josephine, smiling.

Bonaparte angrily stamped his foot. “Not to me!” he exclaimed,
furiously. “Then is it not from the Directory--it does not call me back
from Rastadt?--”

“Hush, Bonaparte!” said Josephine, smiling, “must you always effervesce
like the stormy sea that roared around your cradle, you big child? Be
quiet now, and let me read the letter to you. Will you let me do so?”

“Yes, I will,” said Bonaparte, hastily. “Read, I implore you, read!”

Josephine made a profound, ceremonious obeisance, and withdrawing her
hand with the letter from her back, she unfolded several sheets of
paper.

“Here is first a letter from my friend Botot,” she said, “just
listen:--‘Citoyenne Generale: The Directory wished to send off to-day a
courier with the enclosed dispatches to General Bonaparte. I induced the
gentlemen, however, to intrust that dispatch to myself, and to permit me
to send it to you instead of the general. It is to yourself chiefly
that the general is indebted for the contents of this dispatch from the
Directory. It is but just, therefore, Citoyenne, that you should have
the pleasure of handing it to him. Do so, Citoyenne, and at the same
time beg your husband not to forget your and his friend.--Botot.’
That is my letter Bonaparte, and here, my friend, is the enclosure for
yourself. You see, I am devoid of the common weakness of woman, I am not
inquisitive, for the seal is not violated, as you may see yourself.”

And with a charming smile she handed the letter to Bonaparte. But he did
not take it.

“Break the seal, my Josephine,” he said, profoundly moved. “I want to
learn the contents of the letter from your lips. If it should bring me
evil tidings, they will sound less harshly when announced by you; is
it joyful news, however, your voice will accompany it with the most
beautiful music.”

Josephine nodded to him with a tender and grateful glance, and hastily
broke the seal.

“Now pray, quick! quick!” said Bonaparte, trembling with impatience.

Josephine read:

“The executive Directory presumes, citizen general, that you have
arrived at Rastadt. It is impatient to see and to weigh with you the
most important interests of the country. Hence it desires you to bring
the exchanged ratifications personally to Paris, and to inform us what
dispositions you have taken in regard to the occupation of Mentz by our
troops, in order that this event may take place without further delay.
It may be, however, that you have forwarded this intelligence to us
already by means of a courier or an aide-de-camp; in that case it will
be kept secret until your arrival. The journey you are now going to
make to Paris will first fulfil the sincere desire of the Directory
to manifest to you publicly its most unbounded satisfaction with your
conduct and to be the first interpreter of the nation’s gratitude
toward you. Besides, it is necessary for you to be fully informed of the
government’s views and intentions, and to consider in connection with
it the ultimate consequences of the great operations which you will be
invited to undertake; so we expect you immediately, citizen general.
The executive Directory also desires you to indicate to the returning
courier, who is to deliver this dispatch to you, the precise day of your
arrival at Paris.”

“In the name of the Directory:”

“Barkas.”

“We shall set out at once!” exclaimed Bonaparte, radiant with joy.

“In order to arrive together with the courier?” asked Josephine,
laughing, “and to lose all the triumphs which the grateful country is
preparing for you? No, my impatient friend, you will patiently remain
to-day by the side of your Josephine and we shall start only to-morrow.
Do you promise it?”

“Well, be it so!” he exclaimed, glowing with excitement, “we will set
out to-morrow for Paris. My task in Italy is accomplished; if it please
God, there will be new work for me at Paris.”

“Your enemies will soon find means to drive you away from the capital,
if you should be incautious, and if they should fear lest your presence
might become dangerous to themselves. Nothing is more dangerous to
small, insignificant souls than a great man. Remember that, my friend,
and do not irritate them.”

Bonaparte eagerly grasped her hand. “Believe me,” he said, in a low
voice, “as soon as I have reached Paris, I shall know what line of
policy I must pursue hereafter. Two years shall not elapse ere the whole
ridiculous republican edifice will be overthrown.” [Footnote: “Memoires
d’un Homme d’Etat,” vol. v., p. 60.] “And then,” exclaimed Josephine,
joyfully, “when you have accomplished that--when you stand as a
victorious general on the ruins of the republic--you will reestablish
the throne over them, I hope?”

“Yes, I will reestablish the throne,” [Footnote: Bonaparte’s own
words.--“Memoires d’un Homme d’Etat,” vol. v., p. 70.] said Bonaparte,
enthusiastically.

“And your arm will place upon this throne him to whom this throne is
due. Oh, my generous and noble friend, what a heavenly day it will be
when the King of France by your side makes his solemn entry into Paris,
for you will recall the legitimate king, Louis XVIII., from his exile.”

Bonaparte stared at her in amazement. “Do you really believe that?” he
asked, with a peculiar smile.

“I have no doubt of it,” she said, innocently. “Bonaparte can do
whatever he wishes to do. He has overthrown thrones in Italy, he can
reestablish the throne in France. I repeat, Bonaparte can do whatever he
wishes to do.”

“And do you know, then, you little fool, do you know what I really wish
to do?” he asked. “I wish to be the great regulator of the destinies
of Europe, or the first citizen of the globe. I feel that I have
the strength to overthrow every thing and to found a new world. The
astonished universe shall bow to me and be compelled to submit to my
laws. Then I shall make the villains tremble, who wished to keep me away
from my country. [Footnote: Le Normand, vol. 1., p. 347.] I have made
the beginning already, and this miserable government has to call me
back to Paris notwithstanding its own secret hostility. Soon it shall
be nothing but a tool in my hands, and when I do not need this tool any
longer, I shall destroy it. This government of lawyers has oppressed
France long enough. It is high time for us to drive it away.” [Footnote:
“Memoires d’un Homme d’Etat,” vol. v., p. 70.]

“Hush, Bonaparte, for God’s sake, hush!” said Josephine, anxiously. “Let
no one here suspect your plans, for we are surrounded in this house by
austere and rabid republicans, who, if they had heard your words, would
arraign you as a criminal before the Directory. Intrust your plans to
no one except myself, Bonaparte. Before the world remain as yet a most
enthusiastic republican, and only when the decisive hour has come, throw
off your tunic and exhibit your royal uniform!”

Bonaparte smiled, and encircled her neck with his arms.

“Yes, you are right,” he said; “we must be taciturn. We must bury our
most secret thoughts in the deepest recesses of our souls, and intrust
them to no one, not even to the beloved. But come, Josephine, I owe
you my thanks yet for the joyful tidings you have brought me. You must
permit me to make you a few little presents in return.”

“Give me your confidence, and I am abundantly rewarded,” said Josephine,
tenderly.

“Henceforth I shall never, never distrust you,” he replied,
affectionately. “We belong to each other, and no power of earth or
heaven is able to separate us. You are mine and I am thine; and what is
mine being thine, you must permit me to give you a trinket sent to me
to-day by the city of Milan.”

“A trinket?” exclaimed Josephine, with radiant eyes; “let me see it. Is
it a beautiful one?”

Bonaparte smiled. “Yes, beautiful in the eyes of those to whom glory
seems more precious than diamonds and pearls,” he said, stepping to the
table from which he took a small morocco casket. “See,” he said, opening
it, “it is a gold medal which the city of Milan has caused to be
struck in my honor, and on which it confers upon me the title of ‘The
Italian.’”

“Give it to me,” exclaimed Josephine, joyfully--“give it to me, my
‘Italian!’ Let me wear this precious trinket which public favor has
bestowed upon you.”

“Public favor,” he said, musingly--“public favor, it is light as zephyr,
as fickle as the seasons, it passes away like the latter, and when the
north wind moves it, it will disappear.” [Footnote: Le Normand, vol. i.,
p. 261.]

He was silent, but proceeded after a short pause in a less excited
manner.

“As to my deeds,” he said, “the pen of history will trace them for our
grandchildren. Either I shall have lived for a century, or I shall earn
for all my great exploits nothing but silence and oblivion. Who is able
to calculate the whims and predilections of history?” [Footnote: Ibid.,
vol. i, p. 262.]

He paused again, and became absorbed in his reflections.

Josephine did not venture to arouse him from his musing. She fixed her
eyes upon the large gold medal, and tried to decipher the inscription.

Bonaparte suddenly raised his head again, and turned his gloomy eyes
toward Josephine. “I suppose you know,” he said, “that I have always
greatly distinguished the Duke of Litalba among all Milanese, and that I
have openly courted his friendship?”

“You have always manifested the greatest kindness for him,” said
Josephine, “and he is gratefully devoted to you for what you have done
for him.”

“Gratefully!” exclaimed Bonaparte, sarcastically. “There is no gratitude
on earth, and the Duke of Litalba is as ungrateful as the rest of
mankind. I called him my friend. Do you know how he has paid me for it,
and what he has said of me behind my back?”

“Oh, then, they have told you libels and made you angry again by
repeating to you the gossip of idle tongues?”

“They shall tell me every thing--I want to know every thing!” retorted
Bonaparte, violently. “I must know my friends and my enemies. And I
believed Litalba to be my friend, I believed him when he told me, with
tears in his eyes, how much he was afflicted by my departure, and how
devotedly he loved me. I believed him, and on the same day he said at a
public casino, ‘Now at last our city will get rid of this meteor that
is able all alone to set fire to the whole of Europe, and to spread
the sparks of its revolutionary fire to the most remote corners of
the world.’ [Footnote: Ibid., vol. I., p. 362.] He dared to call me a
meteor, a shining nothing which after lighting up the sky for a short
while explodes and dissolves itself into vapor. I shall prove to him and
to the whole world that I am more than that, and if I kindle a fire in
Europe, it shall be large enough to burn every enemy of mine.”

“Your glory is the fire that will consume your enemies,” said Josephine,
eagerly. “You will not reply to their calumnies--your deeds will speak
for themselves. Do not heed the voice of slander, my Italian, listen
only to the voice of your glory. It will march before you to France like
a herald, it will fill all hearts with enthusiasm, and all hearts
will hail your arrival with rapturous applause--you, the victorious
chieftain, the conqueror of Italy!”

“I will show you the herald I am going to send to-day to France, to be
presented there in my name by General Joubert to the Directory,”
 replied Bonaparte. “It is a herald whose mute language will be even more
eloquent than all the hymns of victory with which they may receive me.
Wait here for a moment. I shall be back directly.”

He waved his hand to her and hastily left the room. Josephine’s eyes
followed him with an expression of tender admiration. “What a bold mind,
what a fiery heart!” she said, in a low voice. “Who will stem the bold
flight of this mind, who will extinguish the flames of this heart?
Who--”

The door opened, and Bonaparte returned, followed by several footmen
carrying a rolled-up banner. When they had reached the middle of the
room, he took it from them and told them to withdraw. As soon as the
door had closed behind them, he rapidly unrolled the banner so that it
floated majestically over his head.

“Ah, that is the proud victor of the bridge of Arcole!” exclaimed
Josephine, enthusiastically. “Thus you must have looked when you headed
the column, rushing into the hail of balls and bullets, and bearing the
colors aloft in your right hand! Oh, Bonaparte, how glorious you look
under your glorious banner!”

“Do not look at me, but look at the banner,” he said. “Future
generations may some day take it for a monument from the fabulous times
of antiquity, and yet this monument contains nothing but the truth. The
Directory shall hang up this banner in its hall, and if it should try to
deny or belittle my deeds, I shall point at the banner which will tell
every one what has been accomplished in Italy by the French army and its
general.”

Josephine looked in silent admiration at the splendid banner. It was
made of the heaviest white satin, trimmed with a broad border of
blue and white. Large eagles, embroidered in gold, and decorated with
precious stones, filled the corners on both sides; warlike emblems,
executed by the most skilful painters, filled the inside of the colored
border, and inscriptions in large gold letters covered the centre.

“Read these inscriptions, Josephine,” said Bonaparte imperiously,
pointing at them with his uplifted arm. “It is a simple and short
history of our campaign in Italy. Read aloud, Josephine; let me hear
from your lips the triumphal hymn of my army!”

Josephine seized the gold cord hanging down from the banner and
thus kept it straight. Bonaparte, proudly leaning against the gilt
flag-staff, which he grasped with both hands, listened smiling and with
flashing eyes to Josephine, who read as follows:

“One hundred and fifty thousand prisoners; one hundred and seventy
stands of colors; five hundred and fifty siege-guns; six hundred
field-pieces; five pontoon parks; nine line-of-battle ships, of
sixty-four guns; twelve frigates of thirty-two guns; twelve corvettes;
eighteen galleys; armistice with the King of Sardinia; treaty with
Genoa; armistice with the Duke of Parma; armistice with the King of
Naples; armistice with the Pope; preliminaries of Leoben; treaty of
Montebello with the Republic of Genoa; treaty of peace with the emperor
at Campo Formio.”

“Liberty restored to the people of Bologna, Ferrara, Modena,
Massacarrara, of the Romagna, of Lombardy, Brescia, Bergamo, Mantua,
Cremona, Chiavenna, Bormio, and the Valtellino; further, to the people
of Genoa, to the vassals of the emperor, to the people of the department
of Corcyra, of the Aegean Sea and Ithaca.”

“Sent to Paris all the masterpieces of Michel Angelo, Guercino, Titian,
Paul Veronese, Correggio, Albarro, the two Carracci, Raphael, and
Leonardo da Vinci.” [Footnote: This wonderful banner was hung up in the
hall of the Directory while the members of the latter were occupying the
Luxemburg. It afterward accompanied the three consuls to the Tuileries,
and was preserved there in the large reception-room. It is now in
the “Dome des Invalides” in the chapel containing the emperor’s
sarcophagus.]

“Ah, my friend,” exclaimed Josephine, enthusiastically, “that is a leaf
from history which the storms of centuries will never blow away!”

Bonaparte slowly lowered the banner until it almost covered the floor
and then he muttered gloomily: “Men are like leaves in the wind; the
wind blows the leaves to the ground, [Footnote: Homer] and--but no,”
 he interrupted himself, “I shall write my name on every rock and every
mountain in Europe, and fasten it there with iron-clasps in such a
manner that no winds shall blow it away! Oh, footmen! come in, roll up
the banner again, and put it back into the case!”

The footmen hastened to obey, and took the banner away. Bonaparte turned
again to his wife with a smile.

“I promised you a few presents,” he said. “As yet I have given you only
the medals. The best gift I have kept back. Marmont sent me the statue
of the Holy Virgin which he removed from Loretto.”

“Then you have not fulfilled my urgent prayers!” said Josephine,
reproachfully. “Even the property of the Church and of the Holy Father
at Rome have not been safe from the hands of the conquerors!”

“That is the law of war,” said Bonaparte. “Woe to the places which war
touches on its bloody path! But you may reassure yourself, Josephine. I
have only taken from the Holy Father these superfluous things which he
may easily spare. I only took his plate, his jewelry, and diamonds, thus
reducing him to the simplicity of the apostles; and I am sure the good
old man will thank me for it. I have, moreover, only striven to promote
the welfare of his soul by doing so, and the Roman martyrologist some
day will add his name to the list of saints. [Footnote: Le Normand, vol.
i., p. 243.] The jewels and the gold I sent to Paris, together with the
statue of the Madonna of Loretto, but I retained a few relics for you,
Josephine. See here the most precious one of them all!”

He handed her a small paper, carefully folded up. Josephine hastily
opened it and asked, in surprise--“A piece of black woollen cloth! And
that is a relic?”

“And a most precious one at that! It is Loretto’s most priceless
treasure. It is a piece of the gown of the Virgin Mary, in which she was
mourning for the Saviour. [Footnote: Ibid., vol. i., p. 245.] Preserve
this relic carefully, dear Josephine, and may it protect you from danger
and grief!” Josephine folded up the piece of cloth, and opening a large
locket hanging on her neck on a heavy gold chain, she laid the cloth
into it, and then closed the locket again.

“That shall be the sanctuary of my relic,” she said. “I shall keep it
till I die.”

“Why do you speak of dying?” he exclaimed, almost indignantly. “What
have we to do with grim-death? We, to whom life has to fulfil and offer
so much! We shall return to Paris, and, if it please God, a great future
is awaiting us there!”

“If it please God, a happy future!” said Josephine, fervently. “Oh,
Bonaparte, how gladly I shall reenter our dear little house in the Rue
Chantereine, where we passed the first happy days of our love!”

“No, Josephine,” he exclaimed, impetuously, “that little house will not
be a fitting abode for the conqueror of Italy, I am no longer the poor
general who had nothing but his sword. I return rich in glory, and not
poor as far as money is concerned. I might have easily appropriated
the spoils amounting to many millions; but I disdained the money of
spoliation and bribery, and what little money I have got now, was
acquired in an honest and chivalrous manner, [Footnote: Bonaparte at St.
Helena said to Las Casas that he had brought only three hundred thousand
francs from Italy. Bourrienne asserts, however, Bonaparte had brought
home no less than three million francs. He adds, however, that this sum
was not the fruit of peculation and corruption, Bonaparte having been an
incorruptible administrator. But he had discovered the mines of Yorda,
and he had an interest in the meat contracts for the army. He wanted to
be independent, and knew better than any one else that he could not be
independent without money. He said to Bourrienne in regard to it, “I
am no Capuchin!”--Memoires de Bourrienne, vol 11., p. 47.] It is
sufficient, however, to secure a brilliant existence to us. I shall not
be satisfied until I live with you in a house corresponding with the
splendor of my name. I need a palace, and shall have it decorated with
all the stands of colors I have taken in Italy. To you alone, Josephine,
to you I intrust the care of designating to me a palace worthy of being
offered to me by the nation I have immortalized, and worthy also of
a wife whose beauty and grace could only beautify it. [Footnote: Le
Normand, vol. i., p. 265.] Come, Josephine--come to Paris! Let us select
such a palace!”



CHAPTER XXIII.

MINISTER THUGUT.


The prime minister, Baron Thugut, was in his study. It was yet early
in the morning, and the minister had just entered his room in order to
begin his political task. On the large green table at which Thugut had
just sat down, there lay the dispatches and letters delivered by the
couriers who had arrived during the night and early in the morning.
There were, besides, unfolded documents and decrees, waiting for the
minister’s signature, in order to become valid laws. But the minister
took no notice whatever of these papers, but first seized the newspapers
and other periodicals, which he commenced reading with great eagerness.
While he was perusing them, his stern features assumed a still harsher
mien, and a gloomy cloud settled on his brow. Suddenly he uttered a wild
oath and violently hurling the paper, in which he had been reading, to
the floor, he jumped up from his chair.

“Such impudence is altogether intolerable!” he shouted, angrily. “It is
high time for me to teach these newspaper scribblers another lesson, and
they shall have it! I--”

Just then, the door of the anteroom opened, and a footman entered. He
informed his master that the police minister, Count Saurau, wished to
see him.

Baron Thugut ordered him to be admitted at once, and went to meet him as
soon as he heard him come in.

“You anticipate my wishes, my dear count,” he said. “I was just going to
send for you.”

“Your excellency knows that I am always ready to obey your calls,”
 replied Count Saurau, politely. “I acknowledge your superiority and
submit to you as though you were my lord and master; notwithstanding our
position in society and in the state service, which is almost an equal
one, I willingly permit you to treat me as your disciple and inferior.”

“And I believe that is the wisest course you can pursue, my dear little
count,” said Thugut, laughing sarcastically. “It has been good for you
to do so, I should think, and so it has been for the whole Austrian ship
of state, that has been intrusted to my guidance. Yes, sir, the son of
the ship-builder Thunichtgut has shown to you and your fellow-members
of the ancient aristocracy that talents and ability are no exclusive
privileges of your class, and that a common ship-builder’s son
may become prime minister, and that a low-born Thunichtgut may be
transformed into a Baron von Thugut. The great Empress Maria Theresa
has performed this miracle, and baptized me, and I believe Austria never
found fault with her for doing so. The ship-builder’s son has piloted
the ship of state tolerably skilfully through the breakers up to the
present time, and he shall do so in future too, in spite of all counts
and aristocrats. You see, I do not try to conceal my humble descent;
nay, I boast of it, and it is therefore quite unnecessary for you to
remind me of what I never want to forget!”

“I see that some late occurrence must have excited your excellency’s
just anger,” exclaimed Count Saurau.

“And being police minister, you doubtless know all about that
occurrence,” said Thugut, sarcastically.

Count Saurau shrugged his shoulders. “I confess I am unable to divine--”

“Then you have not read the papers this morning?” asked Thugut,
scornfully. “You have no idea of the infamous attack which an
aristocratic newspaper scribbler has dared to make upon me, nay, upon
the emperor himself?”

“I confess that I do not understand what your excellency means,” said
Count Saurau, anxiously.

“Well, then, listen to me!” exclaimed Thugut, seizing the paper again.
“Listen to what I am going to read to you: ‘At a time when the whole
Austrian people are longing for peace, when our august Empress Theresia
and our dearly beloved Archduke Charles share these sentiments of the
people and give expression to them at the feet of the throne and in
opposition to those who would deluge our cherished Austria with the
miseries and dangers of war--at such a time we fondly look back into the
great history of our country and remember what has been accomplished by
great and gifted members of our imperial house in former periods for
the welfare and tranquillity of Austria; we remember, for instance, that
Austria in 1619, like to-day, was threatened by enemies and on the eve
of a terrible war, not because the honor and welfare of Austria rendered
such a war necessary, but because the ambitious and arrogant minister,
Cardinal Clesel, was obstinately opposed to peace, and utterly unmindful
of the wishes of the people. He alone, he, the all-powerful minister,
was in favor of war; he overwhelmed the weak Emperor Mathias with his
demands; and when the latter, owing to the anxiety he had to undergo,
was taken sick, he even pursued him with his clamor for war into his
sick-room. But then the archdukes, the emperor’s brothers, boldly
determined to interfere. They arrested the rascally minister at the
emperor’s bedside, and sent him to Castle Ambrass in the Tyrol, where he
suffered long imprisonment, a just punishment for his arrogance and
for his attempt to involve the country in a war so distasteful to all
classes of the people. About half a century later a similar occurrence
took place. There was again a minister advocating war in spite of the
whole Austrian people. It was in 1673. The minister to whose suggestions
the Emperor Leopold lent a willing ear at that time, was Prince
Lobkowitz. But the Empress Claudia had compassion on the people,
groaning under the heavy yoke of the minister. She alone prevailed upon
the emperor by her eloquence and beauty to deprive Prince Lobkowitz
suddenly of all his honors and offices and to send him on a common
hay-wagon amidst the contemptuous scoffs and jeers of the populace of
Vienna to the fortress of Raudnitz, forbidding him under pain of
death to inquire about the cause of his punishment.’” [Footnote: Vide
Hormayer, “Lebensbilder aus dem Befreiungskriege,” vol. i., p. 321.]

“Well,” asked Thugut, when he ceased reading, “what do you think of
that?”

“I believe the article contains very idle historical reminiscences,”
 said Count Saurau, shrugging his shoulders; “these reminiscences,
according to my opinion, have no bearing whatever upon our own times.”

“That is, you will not admit their bearing upon our own times, my dear
little count; you pretend not to perceive that the whole article is
directed against myself; that the object is to exasperate the people
against me and to encourage my enemies to treat me in the same manner as
Clesel and Lobkowitz were treated. The article alludes to the archdukes
who overthrew the minister so obstinately opposed to peace, and to the
Empress Claudia who profited by her power over the emperor in order to
ruin an all-powerful minister, her enemy. And you pretend not to see
that all this is merely referred to for the purpose of encouraging
Archduke Charles and the Empress Theresia to act as those have acted?
Both are at the head of the peace party; both want peace with France,
and in their short-sightedness and stupidity, they are enthusiastic
admirers of that French general Bonaparte, whom they call ‘the Italian,’
unmindful of the great probability of his designating himself some day
by the sobriquet of ‘the Austrian,’ unless we oppose him energetically
and set bounds to his thirst after conquest. They want to get rid of me
in the same manner as their predecessors got rid of Cardinal Clesel. But
I hold the helm as yet, and do not mean to relinquish it.”

“It would be a terrible misfortune for Austria if your excellency should
do so,” said Count Saurau, in his soft, bland voice. “I do not believe
that either the Empress Theresa or the Archduke Charles will act in a
hostile manner toward you.”

“And if they should do so, I would not tolerate it,” exclaimed Thugut.
“My adversaries, whosoever they may be, had better beware of my
elephant foot not stamping them into the ground. I hate that boastful,
revolutionary France, and to remain at peace with her is equivalent
to drawing toward us the ideas of the revolution and of a general
convulsion. Short-sighted people will not believe it, and they are my
enemies because I am a true friend of Austria. But being a true friend
of Austria, I must combat all those who dare oppose and impede me, for
in my person they oppose and impede Austria. First of all things, it is
necessary for me to get rid of those newspaper editors and scribblers;
they are arrogant, insolent fellows who imagine they know every thing
and are able to criticise every thing, and who feel called upon to give
their opinion about all things and on all occasions because they know
how to wield a goose-quill. The best thing we could do would be to
suppress all newspapers and periodicals. Shaping the course of politics
ourselves, we do not need any newspapers, which after all are nothing
but ruminating oxen of what we have eaten and digested already; the
people do not understand any thing about it, nor is it necessary that
they should. The people have to work, to obey, to pay taxes, and, if
necessary, to give up their lives for their sovereign; they need not
know any thing further about politics, and if they do, it is generally
detrimental to their obedience. Let us drive away, then, that noxious
crowd of newspaper writers and pamphleteers who dare enlighten the
people by their political trash. Ah, I will teach Count Erlach that
it is a little dangerous to become a newspaper editor and to serve up
entremets of historical reminiscences to the people of Vienna! I will
cram them down his own throat in such a manner as to deprive him--”

“Count Erlach is the author of the article your excellency read to me
just now?” asked Count Saurau, in great terror.

“There, his name is affixed to it in large letters,” replied Thugut,
contemptuously; “he has not even taken pains to conceal it. We have to
return thanks to him for his sincerity, and I hope you will take the
trouble of expressing our gratitude to him.”

“What does your excellency want me to do?” asked the police minister,
anxiously. “I believe it would not be prudent for us to make much ado
about it.”

“Of course not,” said Thugut, laughing. “Do I like to make much ado
about any thing, which would only give rise to scandal and idle
gossip? Just reflect a while, my dear little count. What did we do, for
instance, with the Neapolitan Count Montalban, who became a thorn in our
side, and endeavored to gain power over the emperor? Did we accuse him
of high treason? Did we prefer any charges against him at all? We
merely caused him to disappear, and no one know what had become of the
interesting and handsome count. People spoke for three or four days
about his mysterious disappearance, and then forgot all about it.
[Footnote: Lebensbilder, vol. 1., p. 321.] My dear sir, there is nothing
like oubliettes and secret prisons. I have often already preached that
to you, and you always forget it. Violence! Who will be such a fool
as to betray his little secrets by acts of open violence? We happen to
stand on the great stage of life, and, like every other stage, there
are trap-doors in the floor, through which those will disappear who
have performed their parts. Let us, therefore, cause Count Erlach, the
political writer, to vanish by means of such a trap-door.”

“I implore your excellency to show indulgence for once,” said Count
Saurau, urgently. “Count Erlach is an intimate friend of Archduke
Charles, and even the Empress Theresia is attached to him.”

“The greater the necessity for me to get rid of him, and to return my
thanks in this manner for the blows they want to deal me by means of
their historical reminiscences. This Count Erlach is a very disgusting
fellow, at all events; he would like to play the incorruptible Roman and
to shine by his virtue. There is nothing more tedious and intolerable
than a virtuous man who cannot be got at anywhere. Count Erlach has now
given us a chance to get hold of him; let us improve it.” “He has very
influential connections, very powerful protectors, your excellency. If
he should disappear, they will raise a terrible outcry about it, and
make it their special business to seek him, and if they should not find
him they will say we had killed him because your excellency was afraid
of him.”

“I was afraid of him!” exclaimed Thugut, laughing. “As if I ever had
been afraid of any one. Even an earthquake would not be able to frighten
me, and, like Fabricius, I should only look around quite slowly for the
hidden elephant of Pyrrhus. No, I know no fear, but I want others to
feel fear, and for this reason Count Erlach must be disposed of.”

“Very well, let us get rid of him,” replied Count Saurau, “but in a
simple manner and before the eyes of the whole public. Believe me for
once, your excellency, I know the ground on which we are standing; I
know it to be undermined and ready to explode and blow us up. Count
Erlach’s disappearance would be the burning match that might bring about
the explosion. Let us be cautious, therefore. Let us remove him beyond
the frontier, and threaten him with capital punishment in case he ever
should dare to reenter Austria, but let us permit him now to leave the
country without any injury whatever.”

“Well, be it so. I will let you have your own way, my dear anxious
friend. Have Erlach arrested to-day; let two police commissioners
transport him beyond the frontier, and threaten him with capital
punishment, or with my revenge--which will be the same to him--in case
he should return. Let the scribblers and newspapers learn, too, why
Count Erlach was exiled. The prudent men among them will be warned by
his fate, and hereafter hold their tongues; the stupid and audacious
fellows, however, will raise an outcry about the occurrence, and thus
give us a chance to get hold of them likewise. The matter is settled,
then; the aristocratic newspaper writer will be transported from the
country, and that is the end of it. [Footnote: Count Erlach was really
transported beyond the Austrian frontier by two police commissioners.
Only after Thugut’s overthrow in 1801 was he allowed to return to
Austria and Vienna.--Lebensbilder, vol. 1., p. 321.] But I shall seek
further satisfaction for these articles in the newspapers. Oh, the new
Empress Theresia and the archduke shall find out that I am no Clesel
or Lobkowitz to be got rid of by means of an intrigue. I shall try to
obtain in the course of to-day an order from the emperor, removing the
archduke from the command of the army and causing him to retire into
private life. He wants peace and repose in so urgent a manner; let him
sleep and dream, then, while we are up and doing. I need a resolute and
courageous general at the head of the army, a man who hates the French,
and not one who is friendly to them. But as for the empress--”

“Your excellency,” interrupted Count Saurau, with a mysterious air,
“I called upon you to-day for the purpose of speaking to you about the
empress, and of cautioning you against--”

“Cautioning me?” exclaimed Thugut, with proud disdain. “What is the
matter, then?”

“You know assuredly that the Empress Theresia has fully recovered from
her confinement, and that she has held levees for a whole week already.”

“As if I had not been the first to obtain an audience and to kiss
her hand!” exclaimed Thugut, shrugging his shoulders. “The empress,”
 continued Saurau, “has received the ambassadors also; she even had two
interviews already with the minister of the French Republic, General
Bernadotte.”

Thugut suddenly became quite attentive, and fixed his small, piercing
eyes upon the police minister with an expression of intense suspense.

“Two interviews?” he asked. “And you know what they conferred about in
these two interviews?”

“I should be a very poor police minister, and my secret agents would
furnish me very unsatisfactory information, if I did not know it.”

“Well, let us hear all about it, my dear count. What did the empress say
to Bernadotte?”

“In the first audience General Bernadotte began by reading his official
speech to her majesty, and the empress listened to him with a gloomy
air. But then they entered upon a less ceremonious conversation, and
Bernadotte assured the empress that France entertained no hostile
intentions whatever against Naples, her native country. He said he had
been authorized by the Directory of the Republic to assure her majesty
officially that she need not feel any apprehensions in relation to
Naples, France being animated by the most friendly feelings toward that
kingdom. The face of the empress lighted up at once, and she replied to
the general in very gracious terms, and gave him permission to renew his
visits to her majesty whenever he wished to communicate anything to her.
He had asked her to grant him this permission.”

“I knew the particulars of this first interview, except the passage
referring to this permission,” said Thugut, quietly.

“But this permission precisely is of the highest importance, your
excellency, for the empress thereby gives the French minister free
access to her rooms. He is at liberty to see her as often as he wishes,
to communicate any thing to her. It seems the general has to make many
communications to her majesty, for two days after the first audience,
that is yesterday, General Bernadotte again repaired to the Hofburg in
order to see the empress.” [Footnote: “Memoires d’un Homme d’Etat,” vol.
v., p. 485.]

“And did she admit him?” asked Thugut.

“Yes, she admitted him, your excellency. This time the general did not
confine himself to generalities, but fully unbosomed himself to her
majesty. He confessed to the empress that France was very anxious to
maintain peace with Naples as well as with Austria; adding, however,
that this would be much facilitated by friendly advances, especially
on the part of Austria. Austria, instead of pursuing such a policy, was
actuated by hostile intentions toward France. When the empress asked for
an explanation of these words, Bernadotte was bold enough to present to
her a memorial directed against the policy of your excellency, and in
which the general said he had taken pains, by order of the Directory,
to demonstrate that the policy of Baron Thugut was entirely incompatible
with a good understanding between Austria and France, and that,
without such an understanding, the fate of Naples could not be but very
uncertain.”

“What did the empress reply?” asked Thugut, whose mien did not betray a
symptom of excitement or anger.

“Her majesty replied she would read the memorial with the greatest
attention, and keep it a profound secret from every one. She added,
however, she feared lest, even if the memorial should convince herself
of the inexpediency of Baron Thugut’s policy, it might be difficult
if not impossible to induce the emperor to take a similar view of the
matter--his majesty reposing implicit confidence in his prime minister
and being perfectly satisfied of your excellency’s fidelity, honesty,
and incorruptibility. After this reply, Bernadotte approached the
empress somewhat nearer, and cautiously and searchingly glanced around
the room in order to satisfy himself that no one but her majesty could
overhear his words. Just then--”

“Well, why do you hesitate?” asked Thugut, hastily.

“My tongue refuses to repeat the calumnies which the French minister
has dared to utter.” “Compel your tongue to utter them, and let me hear
them,” exclaimed Thugut, sarcastically.

“With your excellency’s leave, then. Bernadotte then almost bent down to
the ear of the empress and said to her, whisperingly, the Directory
of France were in possession of papers that would compromise Minister
Thugut and furnish irrefutable proofs that Minister Thugut was by no
means a reliable and honest adviser of his majesty, inasmuch as he was
in the pay of foreign powers, England and Russia particularly, who paid
him millions for always fanning anew the flames of Austria’s hostility
against France. Bernadotte added that these papers were on the way and
would arrive at Vienna by the next courier. He asked the empress if she
would permit him to hand these papers to her for placing them into the
hands of the emperor.”

“And the empress?”

“The empress promised it, and granted a third audience to the minister
as soon as he should be in possession of the papers and apply for an
interview with her.” [Footnote: “Memoires d’un Homme d’Etat,” vol. v.,
p. 890.]

“Are you through?” asked Thugut, with the greatest composure.

“Not yet, your excellency. It remains for me to tell you that the
courier expected by Bemadotte arrived last night at the hotel of the
French embassy, and that the minister himself immediately left his couch
in order to receive the dispatches in person. Early this morning an
extraordinary activity prevailed among the employes of the embassy, and
the first attache as well as the secretary of legation left the hotel at
a very early hour. The former with a letter from Bernadotte repaired to
Laxenburg where the empress, as is well known to your excellency, has
been residing with her court for the last few days. After the lapse of
an hour, he returned, and brought the general the verbal reply from the
empress that her majesty would return to Vienna in order to attend
the festival of the volunteers, and would then be ready to grant an
immediate audience to the ambassador.”

“And whither did the secretary of legation go?”

“First to one of our most fashionable military tailors, [Footnote:
Military tailors are tailors who have the exclusive privilege of
furnishing uniforms, etc., to the officers of the army.] and then to
a dry-goods store. At the tailor’s he ordered a banner, which is to
be ready in the course of this evening, and at the dry-goods store he
purchased the material required for this banner--blue, white, and red.
Now, your excellency, I am through with my report.”

“I confess, my dear count, that I have listened to you with the most
intense pleasure and satisfaction, and that I cannot refrain from
expressing to you my liveliest admiration for the vigilance and energy
of your police, who do not merely unfathom the past and present, but
also the future. In three days, then, the ambassador of France will have
an interview with the empress?”

“Yes, your excellency, and he will then deliver to her the above
mentioned papers.”

“Provided he has got any such papers, my friend! Papers that might
compromise me! As if there were any such papers! As if I ever had been
so stupid as to intrust secrets to a scrap of paper and to betray to
it what every one must not know. He who wants to keep secrets--and I
understand that exceedingly well--will intrust them just as little to
paper as to human ear. I should burn my own hair did I believe that it
had got wind of the ideas of my head. I would really like to see these
papers which Bernadotte--”

The sudden appearance of the valet de chambre interrupted the minister.
“Your excellency,” he said, “the ambassador of the French Republic,
General Bernadotte, would like to see your excellency immediately
concerning a very important and urgent affair.”

Thugut exchanged a rapid, smiling glance with the count. “Take the
ambassador to the reception-room and tell him that I shall wait on him
at once.”

“Well?” he asked, when the valet had withdrawn. “Do you still believe
that Bernadotte has got papers that would compromise me? Would he call
on me in that case? He doubtless intends telling me his ridiculous
story, too, or he wishes to intimidate me by his interviews with the
empress, so as to prevail on me to accede to the desires of France and
to become more pliable. But he is entirely mistaken. I am neither afraid
of his interviews with the empress, nor of Bernadotte’s papers, and
shall immovably pursue my own path. If it please God, this path will
soon lead me to a point where the battle against those overbearing
French may be begun in a very safe and satisfactory manner. Come, my
dear count, accompany me to the adjoining room. I shall leave the
door ajar that leads into the reception-room, for I want you to be an
invisible witness to my interview with the ambassador. Come!”



CHAPTER XXIV.

THE FESTIVAL OF THE VOLUNTEERS.


He quietly took the count’s arm and went with him to the adjoining
room. Indicating to him a chair standing not far from the other door, he
walked rapidly forward and entered the reception-room.

General Bernadotte, quite a young man, approached him with a stiff and
dignified bearing, and there was an expression of bold defiance and
undisguised hostility plainly visible on his youthful and handsome
features.

Thugut, on his side, had called a smile upon his lips, and his eyes were
radiant with affability and mildness.

“I am very glad, general, to see you here at so unexpected an hour,” he
said, politely. “Truly, this is a distinction that will cause all of our
pretty ladies to be jealous of me, and I am afraid, general, you will
still more exasperate the fair sex, who never would grant me their
favor, against myself, for I am now assuredly to blame if some of our
most beautiful ladies now should vainly wait for your arrival.”

“I am always very punctual in my appointments, your excellency, whether
they be armed rencounters or such rendezvous as your excellency has
mentioned just now, and, therefore, seems to like especially,” said
Bernadotte, gravely. “I call upon your excellency, however, in the name
of a lady, too--in the name of the French Republic!”

“And she is, indeed, a very exalted and noble lady, to whom the whole
world is bowing reverentially,” said Thugut, smiling.

“In the name of the French Republic and of the French Directory; I would
like to inquire of your excellency whether or not it is a fact that a
popular festival will be held to-morrow here in Vienna?”

“A popular festival! Ah, my dear general, I should not have thought
that the French Republic would take so lively an interest in the popular
festivals of the Germans! But I must take the liberty of requesting you,
general, to apply with this inquiry to Count Saurau. For it is the
duty of the police minister to watch over these innocent amusements and
harmless festivals of the people.”

“The celebration I refer to is neither an innocent amusement nor a
harmless festival,” exclaimed Bernadotte, hastily; “on the contrary, it
is a political demonstration.”

“A political demonstration?” repeated Thugut, in surprise. “By whom? And
directed against whom?”

“A political demonstration of Austria against the French Republic,” said
the general, gravely. “It is true, your excellency pretends not to know
any thing about this festival of the thirteenth of April, but--”

“Permit me, sir,” interrupted Thugut, “is to-morrow the thirteenth of
April?”

“Yes, your excellency.”

“Then I must say that I know something about this festival, and that I
am able to inform you about it. Yes, general, there will be a popular
festival to-morrow.”

“May I inquire for what purpose?”

“All, general, that is very simple. It is just a year to-morrow, on
the thirteenth of April, that the whole youth of Vienna, believing the
country to be endangered and the capital threatened by the enemy, in
their noble patriotism voluntarily joined the army and repaired to the
seat of war. [Footnote: “Memoires d’un Homme d’Etat,” vol. v., p. 499.]
These young volunteers desire to celebrate the anniversary of their
enrolment, and the emperor, I believe, has given them permission to do
so.”

“I have to beg your excellency to prevail on the emperor to withdraw
this permission.”

“A strange request! and why?”

“Because this festival is a demonstration against France, for those
warlike preparations last year were directed against France, while
Austria has now made peace with our republic. It is easy to comprehend
that France will not like this festival of the volunteers.”

“My dear general,” said Thugut, with a sarcastic smile, “does France
believe, then, that Austria liked all those festivals celebrated by
the French Republic during the last ten years? The festivals of the
republican weddings, for instance, or the festival of the Goddess of
Reason, or the anniversaries of bloody executions? Or more recently
the celebrations of victories, by some of which Austria has lost large
tracts of territory? I confess to you that Austria would have greatly
liked to see some of those festivals suppressed, but France had not
asked our advice, and it would have been arrogant and ridiculous for
us to give it without being asked for it, and thus to meddle with the
domestic affairs of your country. Hence we silently tolerated your
festivals, and pray you to grant us the same toleration.”

“The French Republic will not and must not suffer what is contrary to
her interests,” replied Bernadotte, vehemently. “This festival insults
us, and I must therefore pray your excellency to prohibit it.” A slight
blush mantled the cold, hard features of Baron Thugut, but he quickly
suppressed his anger, and seemed again quite careless and unruffled.

“You pray for a thing, general, which it is no longer in our power to
grant,” he said, calmly. “The emperor has granted permission for
this festival, and how could we refuse the young men of the capital a
satisfaction so eagerly sought by them and, besides, so well calculated
to nourish and promote the love of the people for their sovereign and
for their country? Permit us, like you, to celebrate our patriotic
festivals.”

“I must repeat my demand that this festival be prohibited!” said
Bernadotte, emphatically.

“Your demand?” asked Thugut, with cutting coldness; “I do not believe
that anybody but the emperor and the government has the right in Austria
to make demands, and I regret that I am unable to grant your prayer.”

“Your excellency then will really permit this festival of the volunteers
to be celebrated to-morrow?”

“Most assuredly. His majesty has given the necessary permission.”

“Well, I beg to inform you that, in case the festival takes place
to-morrow, I shall give a festival on my part to-morrow, too.”

“Every one in Austria is at liberty to give festivals, provided they are
not contrary to decency, public morals, and good order.”

“Your excellency assumes an insulting tone!” exclaimed Bemadotte, in an
excited voice.

“By no means,” said Thugut, quietly. “My words would only be insulting
if I wanted to prevent you from giving your festival. I tell you,
however, you are welcome to give it. Let your festival compete with
ours. We shall see who will be victorious in this competition.”

“So you really want to permit this festival of the volunteers although I
tell you that France disapproves of it?”

“Disapproves of it? Then France wants to play the lord and master in
those countries, too, which the republican armies have not conquered?
Permit me to tell you that Austria does not want to belong to those
countries. The festival of the volunteers will take place to-morrow!”
 “Well, my festival will take place to-morrow, too!”

“Then you doubtless have good reasons, like us, for giving a festival?”

“Of course I have. I shall display to-morrow for the first time at the
hotel of the embassy the banner of the French Republic, the tri-color
of France, and that event, I believe, deserves being celebrated in a
becoming manner.”

“You want to publicly display the French banner?”

“Yes, sir, it will be displayed on my balcony and proudly float in the
air, as the tri-color of France is accustomed to do everywhere.”

“I do not know, however, whether or not the Austrian air will accustom
itself to the tri-color of France, and I pray you kindly to consider,
general, that the enterprise you are going to undertake is something
extraordinary and altogether unheard of. No ambassador of any foreign
power has ever displayed any mark of distinction on his house, and never
has a French minister yet decorated his hotel in such a manner as you
now propose to do. That banner of yours would therefore be without any
precedent in the history of diplomatic representation.”

“And so would the festival you are going to give before the eyes of the
French embassy, and notwithstanding my earnest protest.”

“Let the French embassy close their eyes if they do not want to see our
Austrian festivals. How often had we to do so in France and pretend not
to see what was highly insulting to us!”

“For the last time, then, you are going to celebrate the festival of the
volunteers to-morrow, notwithstanding the protest of France?”

“I do not think that, France ought to protest against matters that do
not concern her. You prayed me to prohibit the celebration, and I was
unable to grant your prayer; that is all.”

“Very well, your excellency, you may celebrate your festival--I shall
celebrate the inauguration of my banner! And now I have the honor to bid
your excellency farewell!”

“I hope the inauguration will be a pleasant affair, general. I take
the liberty once more to tell you that your banner will create a great
sensation. The people of Vienna are stubborn, and I cannot warrant that
they will get accustomed to see another banner but the one containing
the Austrian colors displayed in the streets of Vienna. Farewell!”

He accompanied the general to the door, and replied to his ceremonious
obeisance by a proud, careless nod. He then hastily crossed the
reception-room and entered again the adjoining apartment, where the
police minister was awaiting him.

“Did you hear it?” asked Thugut, whose features were expressing now
the whole anger and rage he had concealed so long. “I have heard every
thing,” said Count Saurau. “The impudence of France knows no bounds.”

“But we shall set bounds to it!” exclaimed Thugut, with unusual
vehemence. “We will show to this impudent republic that we neither love
nor fear her.”

“The festival, then, is really to take place to-morrow?”

“Can you doubt it? It would be incompatible with Austria’s honor to
yield now. The youth of Vienna shall have their patriotic festival,
and--let the police to-morrow be somewhat more indulgent than usual.
Youth sometimes needs a little license. Let the young folks enjoy
the utmost liberty all day to-morrow! No supervision to-morrow, no
restraints! Let the young people sing their patriotic hymns. He who does
not want to hear them may close his ears. Pray let us grant to the good
people of Vienna to-morrow a day of entire liberty.”

“But if quarrels and riots should ensue?”

“My dear count, you know very well that no quarrels take place if our
police do not interfere; the people love each other and agree perfectly
well if we leave them alone and without any supervision. They will be
to-morrow too full of patriotism not to be joyful and harmonious. Once
more, therefore, no supervision, no restraints! Let the police belong to
the people; let all your employes and agents put on civilian’s clothes
and mix with the people, not to watch over them, but to share and direct
their patriotism.”

“Ah, to direct it!” exclaimed Count Saurau, with the air of a man who
just commences guessing a riddle. “But suppose this patriotism in its
triumphal march should meet with a stumbling-block or rather with a
banner--?”

“Then let it quietly go ahead; genuine patriotism is strong and
courageous, and will surmount any obstacle standing in its way. The
only question is to inspire it with courage and constantly to fan its
enthusiasm. That will be the only task of the police to-morrow.”

“And they will fulfil that task with the utmost cheerfulness. I shall
to-morrow--”

“As far as you are concerned,” said Thugut, interrupting him, “it seems
to me you will be unfortunately prevented from participating in the
patriotic festival to-morrow. You look exceedingly pale and exhausted,
my dear count, and if I may take the liberty of giving you a friendly
advice, please go to bed and send for your physician.”

“You are right, excellency,” replied Count Saurau, smiling, “I really
feel sick and exhausted. It will be best for me, therefore, to keep my
bed for a few days, and my well-meaning physician will doubtless give
stringent orders not to admit anybody to me and to permit no one to see
me on business.”

“As soon as your physician has given such orders,” said Thugut, “send me
word and request me to attend temporarily to the duties of your
department as long as you are sick.”

“In half an hour you shall receive a letter to that effect. I go in
order to send for a physician.”

“One word more, my dear count. What has become of that demagogue, the
traitor Wenzel, who headed the riot last year? I then recommended him to
your special care.”

“And I let him have it, your excellency. I believe he has entirely lost
his fancy for insurrectionary movements; and politics, I trust, are very
indifferent to him.”

“I should regret if it were so,” said Thugut, smiling. “I suppose you
have got him here in Vienna?”

“Of course; he occupies a splendid half-dark dungeon in our
penitentiary.”

“Picking oakum?”

“No; I hear he has often asked for it as a favor. But I had given
stringent orders to leave him all alone and without any occupation
whatever. That is the best way to silence and punish such political
criminals and demagogues.”

“I would like to see this man Wenzel. We shall, perhaps, set him at
liberty again,” said Thugut. “Will you order him to be brought here
quietly, and without any unnecessary eclat?”

“I shall send him to you, and that shall be my last official business
before being taken sick.”

“Be it so, my dear count. Go to bed at once; it is high time.”

They smilingly shook hands, and looked at each other long and
significantly.

“It will be a splendid patriotic festival to-morrow,” said Thugut.

“A very patriotic festival, and the inauguration of the banner
particularly will be a glorious affair!” exclaimed Count Saurau.

“What a pity that my sickness should prevent me from attending it!”

He saluted the prime minister once more and withdrew. When the door had
closed behind him the smile disappeared from Thugut’s features, and
a gloomy cloud settled on his brow. Folding his arms on his back, and
absorbed in deep thought, he commenced slowly pacing the room. “The
interview with the empress must be prevented at all events,” he
muttered, after a long pause, “even if all diplomatic relations with
France have to be broken off for that purpose. Besides, I must have
those papers which he wanted to deliver to the empress; my repose, my
safety depends upon it. Oh, I know very well what sort of papers they
are with which they are threatening me. They are the letters I had
written in cipher to Burton, the English emissary, whom the French
Directory a month ago caused to be arrested as a spy and demagogue at
Paris, and whose papers were seized at the same time. Those letters, of
course, would endanger my position, for there is a receipt among them
for a hundred thousand guineas paid to me. What a fool I was to write
that receipt! I must get it again, and I am determined to have it!”

A few hours later, an emaciated, pale man was conducted into the room of
Prime Minister Baron Thugut. The minister received him with a friendly
nod, and looked with a smiling countenance at this sick, downcast, and
suffering man, whom he had seen only a year ago so bold and courageous
at the head of the misguided rioters.

“You have greatly changed, Mr. Wenzel,” he said, kindly. “The prison air
seems not to agree with you.”

Wenzel made no reply, but dropped his head with a profound sigh on his
breast.

“Ah, ah, Mr. Wenzel,” said Thugut, smiling, “it seems your eloquence is
gone, too.”

“I have formerly spoken too much; hence I am now so taciturn,” muttered
the pale man.

“Every thing has its time, speaking as well as silence,” said Thugut.
“It is true speaking has rendered you very wretched; it has made you
guilty of high treason. Do you know how long you will have to remain in
prison?”

“I believe for fifteen years,” said Wenzel, with a shudder.

“Fifteen years! that is half a lifetime. But it does not change such
demagogues and politicians as you, sir. As soon as you are released you
recommence your seditious work, and you try to make a martyr’s crown of
your well-merited punishment. Traitors like you are always incorrigible,
and unless they are gagged for life they always cry out anew and stir up
insurrection and disorder.”

Wenzel fixed his haggard eyes with a sorrowful expression upon the
minister.

“I shall never stir up insurrections again, nor raise my voice in public
as I used to do,” he said, gloomily. “I have been cured of it forever,
but it was a most sorrowful cure.”

“And it will last a good while yet, Mr. Wenzel.”

“Yes, it will last dreadfully long,” sighed the wretched man.

“Are you married? Have you got any children?”

“Yes, I have a wife and two little girls--two little angels. Ah, if I
could only see them once more in my life!”

“Wait yet for fourteen years; you can see them then if they be still
alive, and care about having you back.”

“I shall not live fourteen years,” murmured the pale, downcast man.
“Well, listen to me, Mr. Wenzel. What would you do if I should set you
at liberty?”

“At liberty?” asked the man, almost in terror. “At liberty!” he shouted
then, loudly and jubilantly.

“Yes, sir, at liberty! But you must do something in order to deserve it.
Will you do so?”

“I will do every thing, every thing I am ordered to do, if I am to
be set at liberty, if I am allowed to see my wife and my little girls
again!” shouted Wenzel, trembling with delight.

“Suppose I should order you again to become a popular orator and to stir
up a nice little riot?”

The gleam of joy disappeared again from Wenzel’s eyes, and he looked
almost reproachfully at the minister. “You want to mock me,” he said,
mournfully.

“No, my man, I am in good earnest. You shall be a popular orator and
leader all day to-morrow. Are you ready for it?”

“No, I have nothing to do with such matters now. I am a good and
obedient subject, and only ask to be allowed to live peaceably and
quietly.”

Thugut burst into a loud laugh. “Ah, you take me for a tempter, Mr.
Wenzel,” he said; “but I am in earnest; and if you will get up for me
a splendid riot to-morrow, I will set you at liberty and no one
shall interfere with you as long as you render yourself worthy of my
indulgence by obedience and an exemplary life. Tell me, therefore, do
you want to be released and serve me?”

Wenzel looked inquiringly and with intense suspense at the cold, hard
features of the minister, and then, when he had satisfied himself that
he had really been in earnest, he rushed forward and kneeling down
before Thugut, he shouted, “I will serve you like a slave, like a dog!
only set me at liberty, only give me back to my children and my--”

A flood of tears burst from his eyes and choked his voice.

“All right, sir, I believe you,” said Thugut, gravely. “Now rise and
listen to what I have to say to you. You will be released tonight. Then
go and see your old friends and tell them you had made a journey, and
the French had arrested you on the road and kept you imprisoned until
you were released in consequence of the measures the Austrian government
had taken in your favor. If you dare to utter a single word about your
imprisonment here, you are lost, for I hear and learn every thing, and
have my spies everywhere, whom I shall instruct to watch you closely.”

“I shall assuredly do whatever you want,” exclaimed Wenzel, trembling.

“You shall complain to your friends about the harsh and cruel treatment
you had to suffer at the hands of the French. You shall speak as a good
patriot ought to speak.”

“Yes, I shall speak like a good patriot,” said Wenzel, ardently.

“To-morrow you will be with all your friends on the street in order to
attend the festival of the volunteers, and to look at the procession. Do
you know where the French ambassador lives?”

“Yes, on the Kohlmarkt.”

“You shall do your best to draw the people thither. The French
ambassador will display the banner of the French Republic on his balcony
to-morrow. Can the people of Vienna tolerate that?”

“No, the people of Vienna cannot tolerate that!” shouted Wenzel.

“You will repeat that to every one--you will exasperate the people
against the banner and against the ambassador--you and the crowd will
demand loudly and impetuously that the banner be removed.”

“But suppose the ambassador should refuse to remove it?”

“Then you will forcibly enter the house and remove the banner
yourselves.”

“But if they shut the doors?”

“Then you will break them open, just as you did here a year ago. And
besides, are there no windows--are there no stones, by means of which
you may open the windows so nicely?”

“You give us permission to do all that?”

“I order you to do all that. Now listen to your special commission. A
few of my agents will always accompany you. As soon as you are in the
ambassador’s house, repair at once to his excellency’s study. Pick up
all the papers you will find there, and bring them to me. As soon as I
see you enter my room with these papers, you will be free forever!”

“I shall bring you the papers,” exclaimed Wenzel, with a radiant face.

“But listen. Betray to a living soul but one single word of what I have
said to you, and not only yourself, but your wife and your children will
also be lost! My arm is strong enough to catch all of you, and my ear is
large enough to hear every thing.”

“I shall be as silent as the grave,” protested Wenzel, eagerly, “I shall
only raise my voice in order to speak to the people about our beloved
and wise Minister Thugut, and about the miserable, over-bearing French,
who dare to hang out publicly the banner of their bloody republic here
in our imperial city, in our magnificent Vienna!”

“That is the right talk, my man! Now go and reflect about every thing I
have told you, and to-morrow morning call on me again; I shall then give
you further instructions. Now go--go to your wife, and keep the whole
matter secret.”

“Hurrah! long live our noble prime minister!” shouted Wenzel,
jubilantly. “Hurrah, hurrah, I am free!” And he reeled away like a
drunken man.

Thugut looked after him with a smile of profound contempt.

“That is the best way to educate the people,” he said. “Truly, if we
could only send every Austrian for one year to the penitentiary, we
would have none but good and obedient subjects!”



CHAPTER XXV.

THE RIOT.


The streets of Vienna were densely crowded on the following day. Every
house was beautifully decorated with fresh verdure and festoons of
flowers; business was entirely suspended, and the people in their
holiday dresses were moving through the streets, jubilant, singing
patriotic hymns, and waiting in joyous impatience for the moment when
the procession of the volunteers would leave the city hall in order
to repair to the Burg, where they were to cheer the emperor. Then they
would march through the city, and finally conclude the festival with a
banquet and ball, to be held in a public hall that had been handsomely
decorated for the occasion.

Not only the people, however, but also the educated and aristocratic
classes of Vienna wanted to participate in the patriotic festival. In
the open windows there were seen high-born ladies, beautifully dressed,
and holding splendid bouquets in their hands, which were to be showered
down upon the procession of the volunteers; an endless number of the
most splendid carriages, surrounded by dense crowds of pedestrians, were
slowly moving through the streets, and in these carriages there were
seated the ladies and gentlemen of the aristocracy and of the wealthiest
financial circles; they witnessed the popular enthusiasm with smiles of
satisfaction and delight.

Only the carriages of the ministers were missing in this gorgeous
procession, and it was reported everywhere that two of these gentlemen,
Prime Minister Baron von Thugut and Police Minister Count Saurau,
had been taken sick, and were confined to their beds, while the other
ministers were with the emperor at Laxenburg.

Baron Thugut’s prediction had been verified, therefore; the police
minister had really been taken so sick that he had to keep his bed,
and that he had requested Baron Thugut by letter to take charge of his
department for a few days.

But the prime minister himself had suddenly become quite unwell, and
was unable to leave his room! Hence he had not accompanied the other
ministers to Laxenburg in order to dine at the emperor’s table. Nay--an
unheard of occurrence--he had taken his meals all alone in his study.
His footman had received stringent orders to admit no one, and to
reply to every applicant for an interview with him, “His excellency was
confined to his bed by a raging fever, and all business matters had to
be deferred until tomorrow.”

The minister’s condition, however, was not near as bad as that. It
was true he had the fever, but it was merely the fever of expectation,
impatience, and long suspense. The whole day had passed, and not a
single dissonance had disturbed the pure joy of the celebration; not a
single violent scene had interrupted the patriotic jubilee. The crowds
on the streets and public places constantly increased in numbers, but
peace and hilarity reigned everywhere, and the people were singing and
laughing everywhere.

This was the reason why the minister’s blood was so feverish, why he
could find no rest, and why his cold heart for once pulsated so rapidly.
He was pacing his study with long steps, murmuring now and then some
incoherent words, and then uneasily stepping to the window in order to
survey the street cautiously from behind the curtain, and to observe the
surging crowd below.

Just then the large clock on the marble mantelpiece commenced striking.
Thugut hastily turned toward it. “Six o’clock, and nothing yet,” he
murmured. “I shall put that fellow Wenzel into a subterranean dungeon
for life, and dismiss every agent of mine, if nothing--”

He paused and listened. It had seemed to him as though he had heard a
soft rap at the hidden door leading to the secret staircase. Yes, it was
no mistake; somebody was rapping at it, and seemed to be in great haste.

“At last!” exclaimed Thugut, drawing a deep breath, and he approached
with hurried steps the large painting, covering the whole wall and
reaching down to the floor. He quickly touched one of the artificial
roses on the gilt frame. The painting turned round, and the door became
visible behind it in the wall.

The rapping was now plainly heard. Thugut pushed the bolt back and
unlocked the door. His confidential secretary, Hubschle, immediately
rushed in with a glowing face and in breathless haste.

“Your excellency,” he gasped--“your excellency, the fun has just
commenced! They are now pursuing the deer like a pack of infuriated
blood-hounds. Oh, oh! they will chase him thoroughly, I should think!”

Thugut cast a glance of gloomy indignation on the versatile little man
with the bloated face. “You have been drinking again, Hubschle,” he
said; “and I have ordered you to remain sober to-day!”

“Your excellency, I am quite sober,” protested Hubschle. “I assure you I
have not drunk any more than what was required by my thirst.”

“Ah, yes; your thirst always requires large quantities,” exclaimed
Thugut, laughing. “But speak now rapidly, briefly, and plainly. No
circumlocution, no tirades! Tell me the naked truth. What fun has just
commenced?”

“The inauguration of the banner, your excellency.”

“Then Bernadotte has hung out his banner, after all?”

“Yes, he has done so. We were just going down the street--quite a jolly
crowd it was, by the by. Master Wenzel, a splendid fellow, had just
loudly intoned the hymn of ‘God save the Emperor Francis,’ and all the
thousands and thousands of voices were joining the choir, as if they
intended to serenade the French ambassador, when, suddenly, a balcony
door opened, and General Bernadotte, in full uniform came out. He was
attended by his whole suite; and several footmen brought out an immense
banner, which they attached to the balcony. We had paused right in the
middle of our beautiful hymn, and the people were looking up to the
balcony, from which the gentlemen had disappeared again, with glances
full of surprise and curiosity. But the banner remained there! Suddenly
a violent gust touched the banner, which, up to this time, had loosely
hung down, and unfolded it entirely. Now we saw the French tri-color
proudly floating over our German heads, and on it we read, in large
letters of gold--Liberte! Egalite! Fraternite!” [Footnote: “Memoires
d’un Homme d’Etat,” vol. V. p. 494.]

“What impudence!” muttered Thugut.

“You are right, that was the word,” exclaimed Hubschle.

“‘What impudence!’ roared Master Wenzel; and the whole crowd immediately
repeated, ‘What impudence! Down with the foreign banner! We are not so
stupid as the people of Milan, Venice, and Rome; we do not jubilantly
hail the French color; on the contrary, this banner makes us angry. Down
with it! It is an insult offered to the emperor, that a foreign flag
with such an abominable inscription is floating here. Down with the
banner!’”

“Very good, very good, indeed,” said Thugut, smiling. “This man Wenzel
is really a practical fellow. Go on, sir.”

“The crowd constantly assumed larger proportions, and the shouts
of ‘Down with the banner!’ became every moment more impetuous and
threatening. Suddenly a small detachment of soldiers emerged from the
adjoining street. The officer in command kindly urged the people to
disperse. But it was in vain; the tumult was constantly on the increase.
The crowd commenced tearing up the pavement and throwing stones at the
windows and at the banner.”

“And the soldiers?”

“They quietly stood aside. But--somebody is rapping at the opposite
door! Shall I open it, your excellency?”

“One moment! I first want to turn back the painting. So! Now open the
door, Hubschle!”

The private secretary hastened with tottering steps to the door and
unlocked it. Thugut’s second private secretary entered. He held a sealed
letter in his band.

“Well, Heinle, what’s the matter?” asked Thugut, quietly.

“Your excellency, the French ambassador, General Bernadotte, has sent
this letter to your excellency.”

“And what did you reply to the messenger?”

“That your excellency had a raging fever; that the doctor had forbidden
us to disturb you, but that I would deliver it to the minister as soon
as he felt a little better.”

“That was right. Now go back to your post and guard the door well in
order that no one may penetrate into my room. And you, Hubschle, hasten
back to the Kohlmarkt and see what is going on there, and what is
occurring at the French embassy. But do not drink any more liquor!
As soon as this affair is over, I shall give you three days’ leave of
absence, when you may drink as much as you please. Go, now, and return
soon to tell me all about it.”

“And now,” said Thugut, when he was alone, “I will see what the French
ambassador has written to me.”

He opened the letter, and, as if the mere perusal with the eyes were
not sufficient for him, he read in a half-loud voice as follows: “The
ambassador of the French Republic informs Baron Thugut that at the
moment he is penning these lines, a fanatical crowd has been so impudent
as to commit a riot in front of his dwelling. The motives that have
produced this violent scene cannot be doubtful, inasmuch as several
stones already were thrown at the windows of the house occupied by the
ambassador. Profoundly offended at so much impudence, he requests Baron
Thugut immediately to order an investigation, so that the instigators of
the riot may be punished, and that their punishment may teach the others
a much-needed lesson. The ambassador of the French Republic has no doubt
that his reclamations will meet with the attention which they ought
to excite, and that the police, moreover, will be vigilant enough to
prevent similar scenes, which could not be renewed without producing
the most serious consequences, the ambassador being firmly determined to
repel with the utmost energy even the slightest insults, and accordingly
much more so, such scandalous attacks. Baron Thugut is further informed
that he has reason to complain of the conduct of several agents of
the police. Some of them were requested to disperse the rioters, but,
instead of fulfilling the ambassador’s orders, they remained cold and
idle spectators of the revolting scene.” [Footnote: “Memoires d’un Homme
d’Etat,” vol. v., p. 495.]

“What overbearing and insulting language this fellow dares to use!”
 exclaimed Thugut, when he had finished the letter. “One might almost
believe he was our lord and master here, and--ah, somebody raps again at
the door! Perhaps Hubschle is back already.”

He quickly touched the frame of the painting again, and the door opened.
It was really Hubschle, who entered as hastily as before.

“Your excellency, I have just reascended the staircase as rapidly as
though I were a cat,” he gasped. “At the street door I learned some
fresh news from one of our men, and I returned at once to tell you all
about it.”

“Quick, you idle gossip, no unnecessary preface!”

“Your excellency, things are assuming formidable proportions. The riot
is constantly on the increase, and grows every minute more threatening.
Count Dietrichstein, and Count Fersen, the director of the police, have
repaired to General Bernadotte and implored him to remove the banner.”

“The soft-hearted fools!” muttered Thugut.

“But their prayers were fruitless. They preferred them repeatedly, and
always were refused. They even went so far as to assure the ambassador,
in case he should yield to their request and give them time to calm the
people and induce them to leave the place, that the Austrian government
would assuredly give him whatever satisfaction he should demand. But
General Bernadotte persisted in his refusal--and replied peremptorily,
‘No, the banner remains!’”

“Proceed, proceed!” exclaimed Thugut, impatiently.

“That is all I know, but I shall hasten to collect further news, and
then return to your excellency.”

Hubschle disappeared through the secret door, and Thugut replaced
the painting before it. “The banner remains!” he exclaimed, laughing
scornfully. “We will see how long it will remain! Ah, Heinle is rapping
again at the other door. What is it, Heinle?”

“Another dispatch from the French ambassador,” said Heinle, merely
pushing his arm with the letter through the door.

“And you have made the same reply?”

“The same reply.”

“Good! Return to your post.”

The arm disappeared again. Thugut opened the second dispatch, and read
as before in a half-loud voice: “The ambassador of the French Republic
informs Baron Thugut that the fury of the mob is constantly on the
increase; already all the window-panes of the dwelling have been
shattered by the stones the rioters are incessantly throwing at them;
he informs you that the crowd at the present moment numbers no less than
three or four thousand men, and that the soldiers whose assistance was
invoked, so far from protecting the house of the French embassy,
remain impassive spectators of the doings and fury of the rabble,
their inactivity encouraging the latter instead of deterring them. The
ambassador cannot but believe that this scandalous scene is not merely
tolerated, but fostered by the authorities, for nothing whatever is
done to put a stop to it. He sees with as much regret as pain that the
dignity of the French people is being violated by the insults heaped
on the ambassador, who vainly implored the populace to disperse and go
home. At the moment the ambassador is writing these lines, the rage of
the crowd is strained to such a pitch that the doors have been broken
open by means of stones, while the soldiers were quietly looking on. The
furious rabble tore the French colors from the balcony with hooks and
long poles. The ambassador, who cannot remain any longer in a country
where the most sacred laws are disregarded and solemn treaties trampled
under foot, therefore asks Baron Thugut to send him his passports in
order that he may repair to France with all the attaches of the embassy,
unless Baron Thugut should announce at once that the Austrian government
has taken no part whatever in the insults heaped upon the French
Republic; that it disavows them, on the contrary, in the most formal
manner, and that it orders the ringleaders and their accomplices to
be arrested and punished in the most summary manner. On this condition
alone, and if the Austrian government agrees to restore the French
banner and to cause it to be displayed on the balcony of the French
embassy by a staff-officer, the ambassador consents to remain in Vienna.
Let Baron Thugut remember that these are precious moments, and that
he owes the ambassador an immediate and categorical reply to his
inquiries.” [Footnote: “Memoires d’un Homme d’Etat,” vol. v., p. 501.]

“Well, I believe the good people of Vienna will take it upon themselves
to make a categorical reply to General Bernadotte, and to silence
the overbearing babbler, no matter how it is done,” exclaimed Thugut,
laughing scornfully. “I am really anxious to know how this affair is
going to end, and how my brave rioters will chastise the ambassador
for his insolence. What, another rap already? Why, you are a genuine
postillon d’ amour! Do you bring me another letter?”

“A third dispatch from General Bernadotte,” exclaimed Heinle, outside,
pushing his arm with the dispatch again through the door.

Thugut took it and rapidly opened it. “It seems matters are growing more
pressing,” he said, smilingly. “Let us read it!”

And he read with an air of great satisfaction:

“The ambassador of the French Republic informs Baron Thugut that the
riotous proceedings have lasted five hours already; that no agent of the
police has come to his assistance; that the furious rioters have taken
possession of a portion of the house and are destroying every thing they
can lay their hands on.”

“Aha, my friend Wenzel is looking for the papers in the rooms of the
French embassy!” exclaimed Thugut, triumphantly. He then read on.

“The ambassador, the secretaries of legation, the French citizens and
officers who are with him, were compelled to retire to a room where
they are waiting further developments with the undaunted courage
characteristic of the republicans. The ambassador repeats his demand
that the necessary passports be sent for him and for all the French who
desire to accompany him. The transmission of these passports is the more
urgent, as the rioters, who were about to rush into the room where the
French were awaiting them, only shrank back when some servants of
the French embassy discharged the fire-arms with which they had been
provided.”

“Ah, a regular battle, then, has taken place!” shouted Thugut, in great
glee. “A siege in grand style! Wonder why Hubschle has not come back
yet? But stop! I hear him already. He raps! I am coming, sir! I am
opening the door already!”

And Thugut hastened to touch the frame of the painting and to open the
door.

It was true, Hubschle, the private secretary, was there, but he did
not come alone. Wenzel, soiled with blood, his clothes torn and in the
wildest disorder, entered with him, supporting himself on Hubschle’s
arm.

“Ah, you bring me there a wounded boar!” said Thugut, morosely.

“A boar who splendidly goaded on the hounds and performed the most
astonishing exploits,” said Hubschle, enthusiastically. “He received
a gunshot wound in the right arm and fainted. I carried him with the
assistance of a few friends to a well, and we poured water on him until
he recovered his senses and was able again to participate in the general
jubilee.”

“Then it was a jubilee? Mr. Wenzel, tell me all about it.”

“It was a very fine affair,” said Wenzel, gasping. “We had penetrated
into the house and were working to the best of our power in the
magnificent rooms. The furniture, the looking-glasses, the chandeliers,
the carriages in the courtyard, every thing was destroyed, while we
were singing and shouting, ‘Long live the emperor! God save the Emperor
Francis!’”

“What a splendid Marseillaise that dear, kind-hearted Haydn has composed
for us in that hymn,” said Thugut, in a low voice, gleefully rubbing his
hands. “And the banner? What has become of the banner?”

“The banner we had previously torn to pieces, and with the shreds we
had gone to the Schottenplatz and publicly burned them there amidst the
jubilant shouts of the people.”

“Very good. And what else was done in the embassy building?”

“We rushed from room to room. Nothing withstood our fury, and finally we
arrived at the room in which the ambassador and his suite had barricaded
themselves as in a fortress. It was the ambassador’s study,” said
Wenzel, slowly and significantly--“the cabinet in which he kept his
papers.”

Thugut nodded gently, and said nothing but “Proceed!”

“I rushed toward the door and encouraged the others to follow me. We
succeeded in bursting the door open. At the same moment the besieged
fired at us. Three of us dropped wounded; the others ran away.”

“Yes, the miserable rascals always run away as soon as they smell
gunpowder,” said Thugut, indignantly. “And you, Mr. Wenzel?”

“I was wounded and had fainted. My comrades carried me out of the
house.”

“And the papers?” asked Thugut. “You did not take them?”

“Your excellency, General Bernadotte and the whole retinue of the
embassy were in the room in which the ambassador keeps his papers. I
would have penetrated into it with my friends if the bullet had not
shattered my arm and stretched me down senseless.”

“Yes, indeed, you became entirely senseless,” said Thugut, harshly, “for
you even forgot that I only promised to release you provided you should
bring the papers of the French ambassador.”

“Your excellency,” shouted Wenzel, in dismay, “I--”

“Silence!” commanded Thugut, in a stern tone; “who has allowed you to
speak without being asked?”

At this moment another hasty rap at the door was heard, and Heinle’s arm
appeared again in the door.

“Another dispatch from the French ambassador?” asked Thugut.

“No, your excellency, a dispatch from his majesty the emperor.”

Thugut hastily seized the small sealed note and opened it. It contained
nothing but the following words:

“The ambassador has received a salutary lesson, and his banner has been
destroyed. Let us stop the riot now, and avoid extreme measures. Several
regiments must be called out to restore order.”

The minister slowly folded the paper and put it into his pocket. He
then rang the bell so violently and loudly, that Heinle and the other
servants rushed immediately into the room.

“Open every door--call every footman!” commanded Thugut. “Admit every
one who wants to see me. Two mounted messengers shall hold themselves in
readiness to forward dispatches. Every one may learn that, in spite
of my sickness, I have risen from my couch in order to reestablish
tranquillity in the capital.”

He stepped to his desk and rapidly wrote a few words, whereupon he
handed the paper to Germain, his valet de chambre.

“Here, Germain, hasten with this note to Count Fersen, the director of
police, and take this fellow along. Two footmen may accompany you. You
will deliver him to the director of the police and tell him that he is
one of the rioters whom my agents have arrested. Request the director
to have him placed in a safe prison and to admit none to him but the
officers of the criminal court. He is a very dangerous criminal; this is
the second time that he has been arrested as a rioter. Well, what is
the matter with the fellow? He reels like a drunken man! He has probably
drunk too much brandy for the purpose of stimulating his courage.”

“Pardon me, your excellency,” said Hubschle, “the man has fainted.”

“Then carry him away, and take him in a carriage to the director of
the police,” said Thugut, indifferently, and he looked on coldly and
unfeelingly, while the footman hastily seized the pale, unconscious man
and dragged him away.

He returned to his desk and rapidly wrote a few words on a sheet of
large, gilt-edged paper, which he then enclosed in an envelope, sealed,
and directed.

“A dispatch to the emperor!” he said, handing it to Heinle. “Let a
mounted messenger take it immediately to his majesty.”

This dispatch contained the reply to the emperor’s laconic note, and
it was almost more laconic than the latter, for it contained only the
following words:

“Sire, within an hour order will be reestablished.”

“Now, Hubschle, sit down,” said Thugut, all the others having left the
room by his orders. “Collect your five senses, and write what I am going
to dictate to you.”

Hubschle sat already at the desk, and waited, pen in hand. Baron Thugut,
folding his hands behind his back, slowly paced the room and dictated:

“The minister of foreign affairs has heard with regret of the riotous
proceedings referred to in the notes which the ambassador of the French
Republic has addressed to him this evening. The minister will report the
whole affair to his imperial majesty, and entertains no doubt that the
emperor will be very indignant at the occurrence. The ambassador may
rest assured that nothing will be left undone in order to ferret out the
perpetrators of this outrage, and to punish them with the whole severity
of the laws, and with the sincere desire which the Austrian government
has always entertained to maintain the friendship so happily established
between the two countries.” [Footnote: The French ambassador really left
Vienna in consequence of this riot. The emperor vainly tried to pacify
him. Bernadotte persisted in his demands. He wanted the Austrian
Government to restore the banner and to have it displayed on his balcony
by a staff officer. In reply to these repeated demands, Thugut sent
him his passports, and the legation left Vienna.--Vide Hauser, “German
History,” vol II., p. 180. “Memoires d’un Homme d’Etat,” vol. v.]

“Well, why do you dare to laugh, Hubschle?” asked Thugut when he took
the pen in order to sign the note.

“Your excellency, I am laughing at the many fine words in which
this dispatch says: ‘Mr. Ambassador, ask for your passports; you may
depart.’”

Thugut smiled. “When you are drunk, Hubschle, you are exceedingly
shrewd, and for that reason, I pardon your impertinence. Your rubicund
nose has scented the matter correctly. The ambassador has demanded his
passports already. But go now. Take this dispatch to the second courier
and tell him to carry it immediately to the French embassy. As for
yourself, you must hasten to the commander of Vienna, and take this
paper to him. You may say to him, ‘The gates are to be closed in order
to prevent the populace of the suburbs from reaching the city. The
Preiss regiment shall occupy the house of the ambassador and the
adjoining streets, and fire at whosoever offers resistance or wants to
raise a disturbance.’ Vienna must be perfectly quiet in the course of an
hour. Begone!”

Hubschle rushed out, and Thugut remained alone. He slowly and
deliberately sat down in an arm-chair, and pondered serenely over the
events of the night.

“It is true I have not wholly accomplished my purpose,” he muttered,
“but M. Bernadotte will try no longer to injure me. He shall have his
passports to-morrow morning.”



LAST DAYS OF THE EIGHTEENTH CENTURY.


CHAPTER XXVI.

VICTORIA DE POUTET.


Nearly a year had elapsed since the departure of the French ambassador
from Vienna, but the rupture of the peace with France, so ardently
desired by Minister Thugut, had not yet taken place. A strong party
in the emperor’s cabinet had declared against Thugut, and this time
obtained a victory over the minister who had been believed to be
all-powerful. This party was headed by the empress and Archduke Charles.
Thugut, therefore, was compelled to suppress his wrath, and defer his
revenge to some later time.

But although the dark clouds of the political thunderstorm had been
removed for the time being, they were constantly threatening, like a
gloomy spectre on the horizon, casting sinister shadows on every day and
on every hour.

The merry people of Vienna, owing to the incessant duration of these
gloomy shadows, had become very grave, and loudly and softly denounced
Minister Thugut as the author and instigator of all the evils that
were menacing Austria. In fact, Baron Thugut was still the all-powerful
minister; and as the emperor loved and feared him, the whole court,
the whole capital, and the whole empire bowed to him. But while bowing,
every one hated him; while obeying, every one cursed him.

Thugut knew it and laughed at it. What did he care for the love and
hatred of men? Let them curse him, if they only obeyed him.

And they obeyed him. The machine of state willingly followed the
pressure of his hand, and he conducted the helm with a vigorous arm.
He directed from his cabinet the destinies of Austria; he skilfully and
ingeniously wove there the nets with which, according to his purposes,
he wanted to surround friend or foe.

To-day, too, he had worked in his cabinet until evening, and he had only
just now dismissed his two private secretaries, Heinle and Hubschle.
This was the hour at which Thugut was in the habit of repairing either
to the emperor or to his gardens in the Wahringer Street. His valet de
chambre, therefore, awaited him in the dressing-room, and his carriage
was in readiness below in the court-yard. To-day, however, the minister
apparently wished to deviate from his custom, and instead of going to
the dressing-room, he violently rang the bell.

“Germain,” he said, to the entering valet de chambre, “no uniform
to-day, no gala-dress, but my Turkish garments. Light up the Turkish
cabinet, kindle amber in the lamps, and place flowers in the vases. In
the course of an hour supper for two persons in the Turkish cabinet.
Arrange every thing in a becoming manner.”

Germain bowed silently and withdrew, in order soon to return with the
ordered Turkish costume. Thugut silently suffered himself to be clad
in the costly Turkish dressing-gown, and in the golden slippers, the
wonderful Cashmere shawl to be wrapped around his waist, and the Turkish
fez to be placed on his head. Germain then brought a Turkish pipe with a
splendidly carved amber tip, and handed it to the minister.

“Now open the door,” said Thugut, laconically. Germain touched the frame
of the large painting on the wall, and Thugut stepped through the small
door into the hall. With rapid steps he hastened down the hall, and soon
stood at its end in front of the narrow wall on which a painting of the
Virgin, illuminated by a perpetually burning lamp, was hanging. Thugut
again touched an artificial rose on the frame, the painting turned
around, and a door became visible behind it.

The minister opened this door, and, crossing the threshold, carefully
closed it again.

He now was in his Turkish cabinet; all these beautiful gold brocades on
the low sofas, these costly hangings covering the walls, these precious
carpets on the floor and on the tables, these silver lamps of strange
forms, hanging down from the ceiling, and filled with amber, all
these richly gilt vessels arranged along the walls, were delightful
reminiscences to Thugut--reminiscences of the happiest period of his
life, for he had brought all these things from Constantinople, where he
had lived for ten years as Austrian ambassador. Thugut, therefore,
never entered this cabinet without a pleasant smile lighting up his hard
features, and he only went thither when he wished to permit himself an
hour of happiness amidst the perplexing occupations and cares of his
official position.

On this occasion, too, as soon as he had crossed the threshold, his face
had assumed a mild and gentle expression, and the harsh, repulsive stamp
had disappeared from his features. He walked across the room with a
smile, and quickly touched a golden knob, fixed in the opposite wall.
After a few minutes he repeated this four times. He then raised his eyes
to a small silver bell hanging above him in the most remote corner of
the wall, and looked at it steadfastly. While he was doing so, a small
side door had opened, and Germain, in the rich costume of a servant of
the harem, had entered. Thugut had not once looked round toward him; he
had not once glanced at the silver vases with the most splendid flowers,
which Germain had placed on the marble tables; his nose was apparently
indifferent to the sweet perfumes of the amber which Germain had kindled
in the silver lamps, and which was filling the room with fragrant bluish
clouds. He only looked at the small bell, and seemed to expect a signal
from it in breathless suspense. But Germain had long since finished the
decoration of the room and withdrawn again, and yet the bell was silent.
A cloud passed over Thugut’s brow, and the smile disappeared from his
lips.

“She was not there, perhaps, and consequently did not hear my signal,”
 he murmured. “I will ring the bell once more.”

He stretched out his hand toward the golden knob in the wall, when
suddenly a clear, pure sound was heard. It was the small bell that had
been rung.

Thugut’s countenance lighted up in the sunshine of happiness, and he
looked up to the bell again in silent suspense. For a few minutes it
hung motionless again, but then it resounded quickly three times in
succession. “In thirty minutes she will be here,” whispered Thugut, with
a happy smile. “Let us await her, then.”

He approached the small table on which he had laid his pipe, and near
which Germain had placed a small silver vessel with burning amber. With
the bearing and calmness of a genuine Turk he lighted his pipe and then
sat down on the low square sofa. Crossing his legs, supporting his right
elbow on the cushions of gold brocade, in a half-reclining attitude,
Thugut now abandoned himself to his dreams and to the sweet enjoyment
of smoking. He was soon surrounded by a blue cloud from which his
black eyes were glistening and glancing up to the large clock on the
mantelpiece.

On seeing now that the thirty minutes had elapsed, Thugut rose with
youthful vivacity, and laid his pipe aside. He then approached the large
and strangely formed arm-chair, standing immediately under the silver
bell. When he had vigorously pushed back the arm-chair, a small door
became visible behind it. Thugut opened it and placed himself by it in a
listening position.

Suddenly it seemed to him as though he heard a slight noise in the
distance. It came nearer, and now there appeared in the aperture of the
door a lady of wonderful loveliness and surpassing beauty. The eye
could behold nothing more charming than this head with its light-brown
ringlets, surrounding the face as if by a ring of glory, and contrasting
so strangely with the large black eyes, which were sparkling in the fire
of youth and passion. Her enchanting lips were of the deepest red, and
a delicate blush, like the beautiful tint of the large purple shell,
mantled the cheeks. Her nose, of the purest Roman style, was slightly
curved, and her expansive forehead imparted a noble and serious air to
the charming youthful face. The beholder saw in these eyes, ardor and
passion; on this forehead, thought and energetic resolutions; and on
this swelling mouth, archness, overflowing spirits, and wit. And the
figure of this lovely woman was in full harmony with her ravishing head.
She was petite, delicate, and ethereal, like a sylph, and yet her form
was well developed and beautiful; if she had been somewhat taller, she
might have been compared with Juno.

She remained standing in the door, and with her flaming eyes glanced
over the room; then she fixed them on Thugut, and burst into a loud and
merry laugh.

“Ah, ah, that is the song of my bulbul, the ringing voice of my oriental
nightingale,” exclaimed Thugut, drawing the laughing lady with gentle
force into the room and pushing the arm-chair again before the closed
door. “Now tell me, my bulbul, why do you laugh?”

“Must I not laugh?” she exclaimed, in a clear and sonorous voice. “Is
not this a surprise as if it were a scene from the Arabian Nights? You
told me six months ago you were going to have a passage made, by which
one might go unseen from my rooms in the Burg to your apartments in the
chancery of state. I had no doubt of the truth of what you told me, for
fortunately the chancery of state is close to the Burg, and there
are enough secret staircases and doors here as well as there. I was,
therefore, by no means surprised when one day, in the silence of the
night, I heard soft hammering at the wall of my bedroom, and suddenly
beheld a hole in the wall, which, in the course of a few hours, had been
transformed into a door with an arm-chair before it, just like that one
there; in the next night, a locksmith made his appearance and hung up a
small silver bell in my room, concealing it behind a lamp; and yesterday
you whispered to me: ‘Await the signal to-morrow! I have to talk to you
about important affairs.’ I therefore waited with all the impatience of
curiosity; at last the bell resounded six times; I answered the signal
and hastened through the narrow halls and ascended the never suspected
small staircase, perfectly satisfied that I was going to a diplomatic
conference. And what do I find? A little Turkish paradise, and in it a
pacha--”

“Who was yearning only for his charming houri in order to be entirely in
paradise,” said Thugut, interrupting her. “Every thing has its time, my
Victoria, state affairs as well as happiness.”

“The question only is, my cold-hearted friend, whether you prefer state
affairs or happiness,” she replied, smilingly threatening him with her
finger.

“Happiness, if you bring it to me, Victoria!” he exclaimed, pressing the
beautiful woman impetuously against his bosom.

She leaned her head on his shoulder and looked up to him with an air of
arch enthusiasm. “Are you happy now?” she asked, in a low voice.

He only replied by means of glowing kisses and whispered words of
intense passion into her ear. She did not resist him; she listened with
smiling satisfaction to his whispers, and a deeper blush mantled her
cheeks.

“Ah, I like to hear you talk thus,” she said, when Thugut paused; “it
delights me to sip the honey of oriental poetry from the lips of my wild
bear. Even the Belvederian Apollo is not as beautiful as you in your
genial and wondrous ugliness when you are talking about love.”

Thugut laughed. “Then you think I am very ugly, Victoria?” he asked.

“Yes, so ugly that your ugliness in my eyes is transformed into the most
inconceivable beauty,” she said, passing her rosy fingers across his
dark and bronzed face. “Sometimes, my friend, when I see you in the
imperial halls, with your strange smile and your grave bearing, I
believe it is the god of darkness himself whom I behold there, and who
has descended upon earth in order to catch in person a few human souls
that he is very anxious to have in his power. Ah, I would not have you
an iota more handsome, nor a single year younger. I like your demoniacal
ugliness; and the infernal ardor, hidden under the snow of your hair,
truly delights me. To be beloved by young men with the fickle straw-fire
of passion is a very common thing; but when an old man loves as
intensely as a youth, when he always illuminates the beloved with the
glory of a fire that he has snatched from hell, ah! that is something
enchanting and divine! Love me, therefore, in your own way, my
beautiful, ugly prince of darkness!”

“I love you in my own way, my charming angel, whom nobody believes to
be a demon,” said Thugut, laughing. “I feel precisely like you, my
beautiful Victoria; I love you twice as ardently, because I penetrated
your true nature; because, when you are smiling upon others, I alone
perceive the serpent, while others only behold the roses, and because I
alone know this angelic figure to conceal the soul of a demon. Thus we
love each other because we belong to each other, Victoria; you call
me the prince of darkness, and you are assuredly the crown-princess of
hell. After my death you will occupy my throne.”

“Then it is in hell just as in Austria?” asked Victoria. “The women are
not excluded from the throne.”

“Well, sometimes it really seems to me as though it were in Austria as
it ought to be in hell, and as though the small devils of stupidity,
folly, and ignorance, had chosen Austria for their particular
play-ground.”

“Let us expel them, then, my friend,” exclaimed Victoria; “I should
think that we were powerful enough to accomplish that.”

“Will you assist me in expelling them?” asked Thugut, quickly.

“How can you ask me?” she said, reproachfully. “So you have forgotten
every thing? Our whole past is buried under the dust of your ministerial
documents?”

“No, I have forgotten nothing!” exclaimed Thugut, almost
enthusiastically. “I remember everything. Oh, how often, Victoria, do I
see you in my dreams, just as I saw you for the first time! Do you yet
remember when it was?”

“It was in the camp in front of Giurgewo.”

“Yes, in the camp in front of Giurgewo, at the time that the Turks
surprised our trenches. [Footnote: In 1790.] All of our officers
completely lost their senses; the general-in-chief, Prince Coburg, rode
off in the most cowardly manner; and Count Thun had been killed, while
General Anfsess was dangerously wounded. Oh, it was a terrible day;
terror and dismay spread through the whole camp. A wild panic seized the
soldiers, they fled in all directions; every one was shouting, howling,
and trembling for his own miserable existence. I had just gone to
headquarters, and I may say that I was the only one who did not
tremble, for nature has not imparted fear to me. I witnessed the growing
confusion with dismay, when I suddenly beheld a woman, an angel, who
appeared with dishevelled hair, and eyes flashing with anger, addressing
the soldiers and admonishing them in glowing words to do their duty. No,
what she said were no words, it was a torrent of enthusiasm, bursting
from her lips like heavenly flames. And the soldiers listened in
amazement; the stragglers rallied round their colors, the cowards were
ashamed, and the trembling and downcast took heart again when they heard
the ringing, bold words of the beautiful woman. Reason obtained its
sway; they were able once more to hear and consider what we said
to them, and thanks to you and to myself, the ignominious rout was
transformed into an orderly and quiet retreat. Both of us saved every
thing that was yet to be saved. Ah, it is a funny thing that all the
soldiers in the large camp had lost their wits, and that only a civilian
and a woman kept theirs. [Footnote: Vide “Kaiser Franz und Metternich:
Ein Fragment,” p. 83.] On that day, in my enthusiasm, I vowed eternal
friendship to you.”

“We vowed it to each other!” exclaimed Victoria.

“And we have kept our vows. I sent you to Vienna with a recommendation
to my friend, Count Colloredo, and he honored my recommendation. He
introduced you to the court; he related your heroic deed to the emperor,
and the whole court did homage to the intrepid heroine of Giurgewo. Your
bold husband, the handsome captain of hussars, Charles de Poutet, having
been killed in Belgium at the assault upon Aldenhoven, I came to you and
renewed my vow of eternal fidelity and friendship. Did I keep my word?”

“You did. Thanks to you and to Colloredo, I have become the friend of
the empress, and the AJA of her first-born daughter, the Archduchess
Maria Louisa. But, on obtaining this position, I renewed to you, too, my
vow of eternal friendship and eternal fidelity. Did I not also keep my
word?”

“You did. Thanks to you and to Colloredo, I have become prime minister
and ruler of Austria!”

“And now, my friend, a question. Did you invent this Turkish cabinet,
the secret staircases and halls, and the mysterious language of the
bells, for the sole purpose of relating to me here the history of our
past feelings toward each other?”

“No, Victoria, in order to build here the edifice of our future. Here,
in this secret cabinet, we will lay the foundation of it, and draw up
the plans. Victoria, I stand in need of your assistance--will you refuse
it to me?”

“Stretch out your hand with the sceptre, my god of darkness, command,
and I shall obey!” said Victoria, gliding down on the sofa, crossing her
arms on her breast, and looking up to Thugut with languishing eyes.

He sat down by her side, and laid his hand over her eyes.

“Do not look at me so charmingly as to make my blood rush like fire
through my veins,” he said. “Let us first speak of business affairs, and
then we will forget every thing in draughts of fiery sherbet. So listen
to me, Victoria, be a little less of the enchanting angel now, and a
little more of the malicious demon.”

“Is there a minister to overthrow, a powerful man to be trampled under
foot?” asked Victoria, her black eyes flashing like dagger-points. “Have
we got an enemy whom we want to lead across the PONTE DEI SOSPIRI to an
eternal prison? Speak quickly, my friend; I am waiting for the music of
your words.”

“There are two enemies for you to fathom,” said Thugut, slowly.

“To fathom! Is that all? A little spying, nothing further?”

“But some bloodshed might attend that spying.”

“I like blood, it has such a beautiful purple color,” said Victoria,
laughing. “Who are the two enemies I am to fathom?”

“France and Prussia!”

“Oh, you are joking.”

“No, I am in sober earnest. France and Prussia are the two enemies whose
innermost thoughts you are to fathom.”

“But France and Prussia are not here in Vienna.”

“No, not here in Vienna, but they are at the fortress of Rastadt.”

“I do not understand you, my friend.”

“Listen to me, and you will understand me. You know that I hate France,
and that I abhor the peace we were compelled to conclude with her.
France is a hydra, whose head we must cut off, or by whom we must allow
ourselves to be devoured. I am in favor of cutting off her head.”

“So am I!” exclaimed Victoria, laughing. “Have you got a sword sharp
enough to cut off the hydra’s head? Then give it to me--I will behead
her.”

“The hydra believes she has a sword with which she might kill me. Listen
to me. I was once in my life foolish enough to sign a paper which might
prove dangerous to me in case it should be submitted to the emperor.
This paper is in the hands of France.”

“France has got a large hand. Which of her fingers holds the paper?”

“A year ago, the paper was in Bernadotte’s hands, and he had already
applied for an interview with the empress, in order to deliver to her
the paper, which she had promised to hand to the emperor. I learned it
in time, and sent out a few friends to bring the papers out of his own
rooms.”

“Ah. I understand. It was on the day of the festival of the volunteers,
and of the inauguration of the French banner.”

“Yes, it was on that day. The coup was not entirely successful; we gave
Bernadotte a good lesson--we compelled him to leave Vienna, but he took
these papers along.”

“And where is Bernadotte?”

“At Rastadt, where he attends the sessions of the congress as the
military plenipotentiary of France.”

“I shall go there, too, as your plenipotentiary, my friend!” exclaimed
Victoria, smiling. “But, in order to obtain the papers, we shall not
make an assault upon his house; we shall only assail his heart, and that
I shall open a breach there large enough to let the dangerous papers
pass through it, I hope my skill will warrant--”

“Your skill and your beauty,” said Thugut, interrupting her. “But I
believe my beautiful Victoria will not have to assail Bernadotte, but
another man. Bernadotte took warning from that scene in his house; he
understands very well that the possession of those papers is dangerous,
and he has, therefore, transferred the danger to other shoulders. He has
intrusted another man with the papers.”

“Whom? If it be a man of flesh and blood name him, and I shall make the
assault upon him,” said Victoria.

“It is doubtless one of the three ambassadors of the French Republic,
and I have reason to believe that it is the haughty and impudent
Bonnier. It was he at least who spoke to Count Cobenzl about certain
papers that might become dangerous to me, and who inquired stealthily if
Cobenzl would feel inclined to deliver them to the emperor.”

“Let me depart, my friend; I must have the papers,” said Victoria,
rising.

“Ah, how beautiful you are in your impetuosity!” exclaimed Thugut,
smiling; “but we are not through yet with our conference, dear Victoria.
For the sole purpose of obtaining those miserable papers, I should
not beg my angel to unfold his demon’s wings and to assist me. If my
interests alone were at stake, I should allow fate to take its course,
and leave every thing to its decision. But the interests of Austria are
equally at stake; and I do not say this in the sense in which my great
predecessor, Prince Kaunitz, used to say: ‘He who attacks me, attacks
Austria, for Austria cannot exist without me. She would fall down if
my strong hand did not hold her.’ No, I know very well that no man is
indispensable; that we are only machines in the hands of fate, and that,
as soon as one of these machines is worn out and unnecessary, fate casts
it aside and substitutes a new one. But the state is something more
exalted and important than a mere individual; in order to defend it, we
must collect our whole energy, our whole ability, and it is a matter of
indifference if, by doing so, we endanger some human lives and shed some
blood. There is an abundance of human lives in the world, and the blood
that has been shed is restored in the course of a few hours. Victoria,
you shall not merely assist me; you shall aid the state too, and make an
effort for its welfare.”

“Only he who dares wins!” exclaimed Victoria, with a fascinating smile.
“Tell me what I am to do, my friend.”

“To be fascinating, to avail yourself of the power of your charms, that
is all. To tame a bear, in order to draw his secrets from him.”

“In what forest shall I find this bear?”

“At Rastadt, and his name is Roberjot, or Bonnier, or Debry, for aught
I know. Try all three of them. One of them at least will have a heart
capable of falling in love, and eyes to admire your beauty. Chain that
man to your triumphal car, fathom him, try to become his confidante, and
sift his secrets.”

“For a special purpose, or only in general?”

“For a special purpose. I have reason to believe that France is
deceiving us, and that, while seeking an alliance with us, and assuring
us every day of her friendship, she is secretly plotting against us.”

“Plotting with whom?”

“With Prussia, Austria’s mortal enemy. France has promised us not to
grant any further aggrandizement to Prussia. I am satisfied that she has
secretly made similar promises to Prussia in relation to us, and that
she is trying as eagerly, and by means of as many assurances, to obtain
the alliance of Prussia, as that of Austria.”

“It is, however, of the highest importance for us to know what France
may have promised to Prussia, and how far the negotiations between the
two powers have gone. To fathom this, either by amicable or violent
means, by shrewdness or by compulsion, by bribery or by threats, will be
your task, my heavenly demon.”

“It is a beautiful task, because it is a difficult one,” said Victoria,
proudly. “It is a matter of life and death, this duel I am to fight with
one of those French bears.”

“But my beautiful Victoria shall not lack seconds to furnish her
weapons, and to do every thing she wants them to do.”

“Who are my seconds?”

“Count Lehrbach and Colonel Barbaczy.”

“Ah, Barbaczy, whose acquaintance we made at Giurgewo?”

“The same. A bold, intrepid man, who is not afraid of anybody--neither
of God nor of the devil.”

“Lehrbach and Barbaczy, your two bloodhounds,” said Victoria, musingly.
“If they are to be my seconds, I am afraid the duel will not merely
remain a spiritual one, and not merely hearts will be wounded. I am
afraid real blood will be shed, and there will be carnal wounds.”

“I must have the papers!” exclaimed Thugut, “either by means of cunning
or by measures of open violence, do you understand? And as to the wounds
and blood, I wish with all my heart to give these impudent republican
fellows who are putting on such airs at Rastadt, as though they were
masters of Germany, a sound and bloody lesson, and thus give France an
unmistakable proof of our opinion.”

“Good, my dear Satan, I shall assist you in performing this little
infernal comedy. Two weighty questions, however, remain to be asked.
On what pretext shall I ask my imperial mistress to grant me leave of
absence?”

“Have you not got a sister, who is married to a rich country gentleman,
in the grand-duchy of Baden, and who informed you yesterday that she had
been suddenly taken dangerously ill?”

“I have a sister!” exclaimed Victoria, laughing. “I who never knew
a paternal roof, or family--I who dropped upon earth like a ripe
peach-blossom, and would have been crushed there, if my handsome and
generous Charles de Poutet had not accidentally passed by while the wind
was driving me along, and if he chivalrously had not picked me up and
placed me in his button-hole. I never knew my family--I was an orphan
since my earliest childhood. No, my friend, I have no sister.”

“Oh, try to recollect, Victoria; it is your sister who has called you
to her death-bed, and for whose sake the empress will give you leave of
absence.”

“Ah, vraiment, I recollect now! Of course, I must go and see my sister.
The good, dear sister--how she will long to see me again in order to
recover from her sickness! Oh, I must repair to my sister--nothing must
detain me here. The kind-hearted empress will not refuse me leave of
absence, for I have to fulfil a sacred duty. Family ties are more sacred
than any other.”

“Ah, you are really a most affectionate sister; the empress will readily
grant you leave of absence, and you will set out to-morrow evening. I
shall provide fresh horses for you at every station, and I shall
send you to-morrow morning a comfortable travelling-coach. Your first
question, then, is answered. Now for the second.”

“Yes, my friend, I will briefly state my second question. After
accomplishing my task, after chivalrously fighting my duel, and
conquering the papers, what will be my reward?”

“Your reward will be the only one I dare offer to a beautiful young
widow,” said Thugut, with a diabolical smile. “A husband who will bestow
upon you a distinguished name, who will strengthen your position at
court, and who will one day bequeath to you a princely inheritance.”

“What!” exclaimed Victoria, joyfully, “you will marry me, my friend?”

“I?” asked Thugut, almost in terror. “Who spoke of me? Am I able to
offer you wealth and a distinguished name? My fortune would be too
insignificant for your pin-money, and although the ship-builder’s son
has acquired quite a distinguished name, he lacks the dust of ten dead
ancestors. I am my own ancestor, and my pedigree contains but my own
name. No, Victoria, I have something better in store for you. I shall
make you the wife of the minister, Count Colloredo. He is a member of
the old aristocracy, and his wife will outrank at court all the ladies
of the ministers and of the lower nobility. He is, moreover, very
wealthy, and a favorite of the emperor. I shall give him to understand
that he loves you ardently, and that he would pine away if you should
reject him. The dear count does not like to hear people talk about
pining away and dying, and he will consider himself saved if you accept
him and allow him to grow young again in your arms. To induce him to
marry you, and to direct him correctly, let me alone for that. On the
day on which you bring me the papers, even if they should be somewhat
blood-stained, on that day I shall have the honor to lead you to the
altar, and greet you by the name of Countess Colloredo.”

“The scheme is good and feasible,” said Victoria, musingly, “and yet
I do not like it altogether. To be frank with you, my friend, if you
really believe that I ought to marry again, why will not YOU marry me?
What shall I do with the childish, conceited, and proud Count Colloredo,
who is already seventy years of age? Why cannot I have my god of
darkness? Thugut, I ask you, why do not you want to marry me?”

Thugut replied to the flaming glance of the charming lady by a loud
laugh.

“I marry you? Ah, my heavenly demon! that would be very imprudent, for
in that case I should have to require you to lead a devout and chaste
life, and to keep my name unsullied.”

“Ah, you insult me,” exclaimed Victoria, feelingly. “You want to
insinuate that I am unworthy of being your wife.”

“You are worthy of being much more, dearest, for you are a demon of
love; but my wife ought only to be a matron of chastity.”

“Oh, how tiresome!” sighed Victoria.

“Yes, how tiresome!” repeated Thugut. “And our own heavenly liaison, the
last romantic dream of my life, would it not also be broken off if you
were to become my wife? Why would we then stand in need of secrecy--of
hidden staircases and doors, and of this Turkish cabinet?--inasmuch as
I should have the right to enter your rooms before the eyes of the whole
world. Besides, we would be unable to be useful to each other. My wife,
of course, would have to side with me and defend me everywhere, while,
in case you are married to another man, you are at liberty to act for me
and to favor me. I could not promote the interests of my wife at
court; I could not speak of her in terms of praise to the empress, and
recommend that fresh honors and distinctions be conferred upon her. My
wife, therefore, would remain the aja of the little Archduchess Maria
Louisa, while my influence will be able to secure to the Countess
Victoria Colloredo the position of a first lady of honor of the
duchess.”

“First lady of honor!” exclaimed Victoria, joyfully, and with glowing
cheeks. “You are right, my friend, it is better for me to marry Count
Colloredo. Colloredo has great power over the emperor; I have great
power over the empress, and shall have the same power over Colloredo.
But I am again under your control, and thus you will rule us all,
and rule Austria, for I shall always remain your faithful servant and
friend.”

“Women’s oaths are as fitful as the wind, they are as fleeting as the
clouds,” said Thugut, shrugging his shoulders. “But I believe you,
Victoria, for you are no woman like other women. If I were ever to
discover that you had deceived me, I should take a terrible revenge!”

“What sort of revenge, my friend?” asked Victoria, embracing him
smilingly and tenderly.

“I know but one punishment for a faithless woman,” said Thugut, “and if
I envy any thing, my friend, Sultan Mustapha, is able to do it, it is
his power of publicly inflicting this punishment. A faithless woman
is drowned in a sack, that is all. She is placed in a sack--gagged, of
course, so as to be unable to scream--and in the dead of night she
is rowed out into the sea, which silently opens its waves in order to
receive the silent victim. I have witnessed this romantic spectacle
three times in Constantinople, and it always filled me with delight. It
is so noiseless, so simple, and yet so significant! It is true we have
no sea here, but we have the Danube, and there is room in it for
many faithless women. Beware, therefore, Victoria! But now a truce to
business and politics. Now, my demon, unfold your angel wings, and let
me pass an hour with you in paradise. Will you do me the honor, Countess
Colloredo in spe, to take supper with me here?”

“Here?” said Victoria, looking around wonderingly. “Where is the
supper-table?”

“You will see it directly.”

Thugut stooped and vigorously pressed a golden knob, fixed in the floor,
close to the sofa. Immediately a creaking and rattling noise was heard;
the floor opened, and a large aperture became visible. After a few
minutes a table, covered with the most luxurious dishes and sparkling
wines, and glittering with silver and crystal, slowly and majestically
arose.

“Splendid!” shouted Victoria, dancing like a fairy around the magic
table--“splendid! The prince of darkness commands, hell opens, and
by the fire, over which the souls of the wicked are roasting, the most
savory dishes have been prepared for Satan! But first swear to me, my
friend, that this pheasant is filled with truffles, and not with human
souls.”

“My dear Victoria,” replied Thugut, laughing, “human souls have only too
often the same fate as truffles--hogs discover them! Come, I drink this
glass of sherbet to the health of the Countess Colloredo in spe.!”



CHAPTER XXVII.

RASTADT.


The congress of Rastadt had been in session for nearly two years. For
nearly two years the German ambassadors had been quarrelling with France
about the ancient boundaries of the empire, and had been quarrelling
among each other about a few strips of land, a few privileges which one
state demanded, while another would not grant.

It was a sorrowful and humiliating spectacle this congress of Rastadt
presented to the world, and all Germany was looking on with feelings of
pain and shame, while France pointed at it with scornful laughter, and
exclaimed:

“It is not France that destroys and dissolves Germany, but Germany is
annihilating herself. She is dissolving away, owing to her own weakness,
and the dissensions of her rulers will kill her!”

Yes, indeed, Germany bore the germ of death and dissolution in her sick,
lacerated breast, and the first symptoms of putrefaction already made
their appearance. These first symptoms were the envy, jealousy, and
hatred the rulers of Germany felt toward each other, and the malicious
joy with which one saw another die, without pitying his torments, and
only mindful of the fact that he would be the dying state’s heir.

The first section of Germany which succumbed under these circumstances,
embraced the bishoprics and ecclesiastical states. They exhibited most
of all the corruption and putrefaction of German affairs. Hence, such
German states as expected to be benefited by their dissolution, voted
for secularization, while such as were threatened with losses voted
against it. A new apple of discord had been thrown into the German
empire; the last spark of German unity was gone, and two hostile
parties, bitterly menacing each other, were formed. Austria loudly
raised her voice against the secularization of the ecclesiastical
possessions, because she could derive no benefit from it; while Prussia
declared in favor of secularization, because she believed she would
be able to aggrandize her territory in consequence; and the secondary
princes demanded the dissolution of the bishoprics even more urgently
than Prussia, because they knew that a portion of those dominions would
fall to their own share.

Covetousness caused the German princes to overlook all other interests,
and to act contrary to all correct principles; covetousness caused them
first to shake the decaying ancient German empire; covetousness caused
them to destroy the old political organization of the country, and
German hands were the first to tear down the edifice of the imperial
constitution.

The German ambassadors at Rastadt forgot, therefore, the original
object of their mission; they had come thither to secure the continued
existence of the German empire, and to protect Germany from the
encroachments of France, and now they were threatening the German
empire themselves. They had come thither to establish the boundaries
of Germany, and now they were attacking the boundaries of the single
sections and states of the empire themselves.

No wonder that France sought to profit by these dissensions of the
Germans among each other; no wonder that she thought she might seize a
piece of Germany, too, seeing, as she did, that the German states were
quarrelling among themselves about the division of the spoils. France,
therefore, advanced her troops farther on the right bank of the Rhine,
and claimed the fortresses of Kehl, Ehrenbreitstein, and Castel.

This fresh and unparalleled exaction silenced the domestic quarrels
among the Germans for a moment, and all voices united to protest loudly
and solemnly against the new demand of the French Republic.

But the French replied to the solemn protests of the German ambassadors
at Rastadt by cold sneers and violent threats. Ehrenbreitstein not
being surrendered to them after the first summons, they blockaded the
fortress, levied contributions on the right bank of the Rhine, and
declared the possessions of the nobility to be forfeited to the French
Republic. [Footnote: Vide Hausser’s “History of Germany.” vol. ii., p.
201.] The German ambassadors at Rastadt complaining of these oppressive
proceedings, the French declared, “the magnanimity of the French had
exceeded all expectations. They were able to take every thing, and they
had contented themselves with very little.”

The congress had met at Rastadt in order to conclude peace, but so far
the negotiations had produced nothing but exasperation and a strong
probability of ultimate war. The arrogance and scornful bearing of
France became every day more intolerable, and the desire of Austria
became proportionately more evident to punish France for her insolence,
and to take revenge for the numerous and galling insults she had heaped
upon Germany. Prussia hesitated to join Austria, and to declare in favor
of open hostilities against France; she deemed such a war injurious to
her particular interests, and desired to maintain peace; the secondary
German states, however, allowed themselves to be intimidated by the
threats of France to devour all of them, and they were quite willing to
expose Germany to further humiliations, provided that their own petty
existence should not be endangered.

The work of pacification, therefore, made no progress whatever, but only
became a disgrace to Germany, and the congress of Rastadt was nothing
but a symptom of the disease of which Germany was soon to perish.
Germany seemed destined to die, like an aged and decrepit man, of her
own weakness and exhaustion.

This weakness was every day on the increase. In January, 1799,
Ehrenbreitstein succumbed, and the French occupied the fortress.

Still the peace commissioners remained in session at Rastadt, and
continued their negotiations with the French, who just now had again
perfidiously violated the treaties, and appropriated German possessions.

If the German ambassadors, perhaps, were lost to all sense of honor and
of their disgraceful position, the representatives of France were fully
conscious of their dignity. They treated the ambassadors of Germany in
the most scornful manner; they dared haughtily and arrogantly to meddle
with the domestic affairs of Germany; they constantly trumped up new
claims in the most overbearing attitude, and in their habitual imperious
tone, and the representatives of the German empire scarcely dared to
refuse their exactions even in the most timid manner.

Only one of the three French ambassadors, for the last few weeks, had
been less supercilious than his colleagues; he had participated less
than formerly in the affairs of the German congress, and while Roberjot
and Jean Debry were raising their arrogant and haughty voices in
every session of congress, Bonnier kept aloof. He even held no further
intercourse with his own countrymen; and his tall and imposing figure,
with the proud and gloomy countenance, was seen no longer every night as
heretofore in the drawing-rooms of the wives of Roberjot and Debry.
He kept aloof from society as he kept aloof from the congress, and the
French ladies smilingly whispered to each other that something strange,
something unheard of, had happened to the austere republican. To the
man who heretofore had proudly resisted the blandishments of beautiful
women, they said he had fallen in love with that wondrously lovely and
strange lady who had been at Rastadt for the last few weeks, but who
was living in such seclusion that the public had only occasionally got a
sight of her. No one knew who this strange lady was, and what she wanted
at Rastadt; she had paid visits to no one, and left her card nowhere.
She had arrived only attended by a footman and a lady’s maid; but in
advance, a brilliant suite of rooms and a box at the theatre had been
retained for her. In this box every night the beautiful strange lady
was seen closely veiled, and the gloomy pale face of Bonnier had been
repeatedly beheld by her side.

Victoria de Poutet, therefore, had accomplished her purpose; she had
tamed one of the French bears, and surrounded him with the magic nets
of her beauty. She was the mysterious strange lady whose appearance had
created so great a sensation in the drawing-rooms of Rastadt for the
last few weeks; she was the lady whom Bonnier was following as though he
were her shadow.

She had come to him as a refugee, as a persecuted woman, with tears in
her eyes. She had told him a tragic story of Thugut’s tyranny and wanton
lust. Because she had refused to submit to the voluptuous desires of
the Austrian minister, he had sworn to ruin her, and his love had turned
into furious hatred. She further stated the minister had threatened her
with the confiscation of her property, with imprisonment, death, and
disgrace, and she had only succeeded by her courage and cunning in
saving herself and in escaping from Austria. Now she came to Bonnier
to invoke the protection and assistance of generous France, and to flee
from the rude violence of a German minister to the chivalrous aegis of
the French Republic.

How beautiful she was in her tears, with the mournful smile on her
swelling lips! But how much more beautiful when a deep blush mantled
her cheeks, and when her large dark eyes were sparkling in the glow of
revenge and anger!

For Victoria de Poutet did not only want protection--she also sought
revenge--revenge on that tyrant Thugut, who had dared to threaten her
innocence and virtue, and to assail her honor and happiness. She was not
only persecuted--she was also insulted, and she wished to chastise
the Austrian minister for these insults. Bonnier was to lend her
his assistance for this purpose. He was to procure means for her to
overthrow Thugut.

How eloquently and enthusiastically did she speak to Bonnier about her
misfortunes, her anger, and her thirst of revenge! How much truthfulness
there was depicted in her face--what a demoniacal ardor in her eyes; how
much energy in her whole bearing, so indicative of bold determination
and of an indomitable spirit!

Bonnier gazed at her in wondering delight, in timid awe. He who had
hated women because they were so weak, so peevish, and insignificant,
now saw before him a woman with the energy of a hatred such as he had
scarcely known himself, with the enthusiasm of a revengefulness that
shrank back from no dangers and no obstacles. Under this delicate,
ethereal female form there was concealed the spirit and firm will of a
man; bold thoughts were written on her forehead, and an enchanting
smile was playing on her full lips. While Bonnier was listening to the
dithyrambics of her hatred and revenge, love glided into his own heart;
she had fascinated him by her revengeful hymns as others fascinate by
their love-songs.

Victoria was conscious of her triumph; her eagle eye had watched every
motion, every step of this innocent lamb she was going to strangle; she
had seen him fall into the glittering nets she had spread out for him;
she knew that he was a captive in her meshes without being aware of it
himself.

Her bearing now underwent a change; she was no longer merely a woman
thirsting for revenge, but also a tender, loving woman; she was no
longer merely filled with hatred, but she also seemed susceptible of
gentler emotions; she lowered her eyes before Bonnier’s ardent glances
and blushed. To his timid and faltering protestations of love she
replied by subdued sighs, and by a dreamy smile; and when Bonnier at
length dared to approach her with a bold confession of his passion--when
he was on his knees before her, all aglow with love and enthusiasm,
Victoria bent over him with a sweet smile, and whispered: “Give me the
papers that are to ruin Thugut; surrender that vile man to my revenge,
and my love, my life are yours!”

Bonnier looked up to her with a triumphant smile. “You are mine, then,
Victoria,” he said, “for you shall have those papers! I surrender that
infamous and treacherous man to your revenge!”

She stretched out her hands toward him with a cry of boundless joy.
“Give me the papers,” she exclaimed; “give them to me, and I will thank
you as only love is able to thank!”

Bonnier looked a long while at her, and his face, usually so gloomy, was
now radiant with happiness and delight.

“To-morrow, my charming fairy,” he said, “to-morrow you shall have
the papers which are to open hell to your enemy, and heaven to your
enraptured friend. But you must give me also a proof of your confidence
and love; you must come to me and call in person for the papers. I give
you the highest proof of my love by delivering to you documents that do
not belong to me, but to the republic. Then give me likewise the highest
proof of your love. Come to me!”

She cast a long and glowing glance on him. “I shall come!” she
whispered.

And Victoria kept her word. Early on the following morning a
closely-veiled lady was seen to glide into the castle of Rastadt, where
the three French ambassadors were living at that time. Bonnier received
her in person at the foot of the wide staircase, and gave her his arm
in order to conduct her to the rooms occupied by himself. They exchanged
not a word with each other, but walked silently through the sumptuous
apartments and finally entered Bonnier’s study.

“We are at the goal--here I bid you welcome, my fairy queen!” exclaimed
Bonnier. “Remove now these odious veils. Let me now at length see your
beautiful features!”

He violently tore off her black veils, and Victoria suffered it
smilingly, and looked at him with a wondrous air of joy and happiness.

“Are you content now?” she asked, in her superb, sonorous voice. “Has
the proud lord of creation now prepared a new and satisfactory triumph
for himself? The poor slave whom he loves must come to him and beg him
for love and happiness!”

She had crossed her hands on her breast, and half kneeling down before
Bonnier, she looked up to him with a fascinating mixture of archness and
passion.

Bonnier lifted her up and wanted to imprint a kiss upon her lips, but
she violently pushed him back.

“No,” she said, “let us be sensible as long as we can. First we must
attend to our business.”

“Business!” exclaimed Bonnier. “What have we to do with business?
Leave business to the diplomatists and their clerks. Why should lips so
charming and beautiful pronounce this cold and dismal word?”

“If I spoke of business, I meant revenge,” said Victoria, fervently.
“Give me the papers, Bonnier--the papers that are to ruin Thugut!”

Bonnier took her head between his hands and looked at her with flaming
eyes.

“Then you hate him still? You still desire to take revenge on him?” he
asked.

“Yes, I hate him!” she exclaimed, “and the happiest day of my life will
be the one on which I see him hurled down from his proud eminence, and
sneaking alone, miserable, and despised into obscurity.”

“One might, indeed, really believe that she is in earnest, and that
truth alone could utter such words,” muttered Bonnier, who constantly
held her head in his hands, and thus gazed at her. “Swear to me,
Victoria, swear to me by what is most sacred to you, that you hate
Thugut, and that you desire to ruin him!”

“I swear it by what is most sacred to me,” she said, solemnly; “I swear
it by your love!”

“That is the best and most unequivocal oath, and I will believe you,”
 said Bonnier, laughing.

“Then you will now give me those papers?” she asked.

“Yes,” he said, bluntly, “I will give them to you. Come, my angel, you
are right? let us first speak of business matters. There, sit down here
at my desk. Oh, henceforth this spot will be sacred to me, for your
heavenly person has consecrated it. Let me sit down here by your side,
and thus we will lay our dispatches before each other, like two good
and conscientious diplomatists. Look here! this portfolio contains
your revenge and your satisfaction. This portfolio contains the papers
proving that Thugut has received large sums of money from Russia and
England for the purpose of instigating the Emperor of Austria against
France, and that his pretended patriotic indignation is after all
nothing but the paid role of a comedian. I have abstracted this
portfolio from the archives of our embassy. Do you understand me,
Victoria? I have stolen it for you!”

“Let me see the papers!” exclaimed Victoria, trembling with impatience.

Bonnier opened the portfolio and drew a paper from it. But on looking
at it, a dark cloud passed over his face, and he shook his head
indignantly.

“What a miserable fool I was to make such a mistake!” he ejaculated
angrily. “I have taken the wrong portfolio. This one does not contain
the papers you are looking for.”

“That is,” said Victoria, with cutting coldness--“that is, you have
intentionally deceived me. You decoyed me hither under false pretences.
You told me a story about important papers that were in your possession,
and with which you were to intrust me for the purpose of gratifying
my revenge. And now when I come to you, nobly trusting your chivalrous
word, now it turns out that you have deceived me, and that those
important papers do not exist at all.”

“Ah, believe me there are papers here perhaps even more important
than the documents you are looking for,” said Bonnier, shrugging his
shoulders. “Believe me, Baron Thugut would give many thousands if he
could get hold of the papers contained in this portfolio. They are,
perhaps, even more important than those other documents.”

A flash burst forth from Victoria’s eyes, and the angry air disappeared
at once from her features. She turned to Bonnier with a fascinating
smile.

“What sort of papers are those?” she asked.

“Papers that do not interest you, my charming fairy,” he said,
smilingly; “for what have love and revenge to do with the negotiations
of diplomacy? This portfolio contains only diplomatic documents, only
the secret correspondence between ourselves and the Prussian government,
and the negotiations concerning an alliance between France and
Prussia--that is all. They do not interest you, my beautiful Victoria,
but Thugut would gladly purchase these papers for those which you are so
anxious to obtain.”

Victoria’s eyes were fixed on the portfolio with a glowing expression,
and her hand was involuntarily approaching it. Bonnier saw it, and a
peculiar smile overspread his gloomy face for a moment.

“Happy for me,” he said, “that I discovered my mistake before giving
you the portfolio. The loss of these papers would have compromised me
irretrievably. But you are silent, Victoria--you do not utter a word.
Then you do not yet believe in the truthfulness of my words? I swear to
you, my fascinating sorceress, it was a mere mistake--I only seized the
wrong portfolio.”

“Do not swear, but convince me,” said Victoria. “Go and fetch the other
portfolio.”

“And I should leave you here all alone so long?” he asked, tenderly. “I
should be such a prodigal as to squander these precious minutes during
which I am permitted to be by your side!”

Victoria rose and looked at him with flaming, imperious eyes.

“Fetch the papers,” she shouted, “or I leave you this very moment, and
you shall never see me again!”

“That is a word by which you would drive me even into the jaws of hell!”
 said Bonnier, ardently. “Wait for me here, Victoria--I am going for the
papers.”

He greeted her with a rapid nod, and placing the portfolio under his
arm, he hastily walked to the door. Here he turned around toward her and
his eyes met hers steadfastly fixed upon him. He kissed his hand to her,
and while doing so, the portfolio softly glided from under his arm and
fell upon the floor. Bonnier took no notice of it; his whole attention
was riveted on the beautiful lady. But she saw it, and her eyes sparkled
with delight.

“Return as soon as possible,” she said, with an enchanting smile, and
Bonnier left the room. She anxiously looked after him until the door
had closed, and then she listened to the sound of his footsteps. Now the
latter were no longer audible, and every thing about her was silent.

Victoria did not stir; she only swept with her large eyes searchingly
over the whole room; she fixed them upon every curtain, upon every piece
of furniture. But nothing was there to arouse her suspicions; a profound
stillness reigned around her.

Now she rose slowly from her seat and made a few steps forward. The
rustling of her heavy silk dress alone interrupted the silence.

She paused again and listened, and her eyes fixed themselves longingly
upon the portfolio lying at the door. Why were not her eyes endowed
with the power of a loadstone? Why were they not able to attract the
portfolio to her?

The portfolio lay there quietly and immovably; Victoria vainly stretched
out her hands toward it--she was unable to reach it.

Once more she impetuously glanced round the room; then she bounded
forward like a lioness rushing toward her prey.

She grasped the portfolio and raised it with a triumphant smile. Her
small hands quickly plunged into it and drew forth the papers. There
were but a few letters, and besides several closely written pages.
Victoria did not take time to look at them; she rapidly pushed the
papers into the pocket of her dress, and arranged the folds of the
latter so as to conceal the contents of her pocket. She then closed
the portfolio and replaced it on the floor, precisely on the spot where
Bonnier had dropped it.

Her purpose was accomplished! How her face was glowing with delight! How
deep a blush was burning on her cheeks! How her eyes were sparkling with
diabolic exultation!

With light, inaudible steps she now crossed the room again, and resumed
her seat at the desk. And it was fortunate that she had done so, for
steps were approaching in the adjoining room; the door opened, and
Bonnier entered.



CHAPTER XXVIII.

THE JUSTIFICATION.


Bonnier paused for a moment on the threshold, fixing his eyes on
Victoria, who greeted him with a sweet, fascinating smile. But the smile
disappeared from her lips when she beheld the threatening angry glance
with which he was staring at her, and the air of gloomy indignation
depicted on his countenance. She might be mistaken, however, and perhaps
it was merely the anguish of her conscience which made her tremble.

“And you bring me the papers, my beloved friend?” asked Victoria, with
an air of fascinating kindness.

“Yes,” said Bonnier, still remaining on the threshold, “I bring you the
papers. But just look what a fool love has made of me! For your sake,
I forgot the portfolio with those other papers, and dropped it on the
floor there. Do you now perceive your power over me? For I believe I
told you that the loss of those papers would ruin me irretrievably.”

“Yes, you told me so,” said Victoria, smiling.

“And yet I forgot them here!” exclaimed Bonnier, stooping to pick them
up. But Victoria immediately rose and hastened to him.

“To punish you for your carelessness, you shall now leave the portfolio
on the floor,” she said, smiling; “nor shall you think of it again as
long as I am with you. Tell me, will that be too hard for you?”

She bent her beautiful face over him, and with flaming glances looked
deeply into his eyes.

Bonnier dropped the portfolio again and smiled.

“It may lie there,” he said; “it has performed its part anyhow. And now,
I suppose, we will talk again about our business?”

“Yes, we will,” replied Victoria. “Give me the papers.”

“No, madame; no one gives up such important papers without witnesses,”
 said Bonnier. “Permit me therefore to call my witnesses.”

He hastily turned to the door and pushed it open.

“Come in, gentlemen!” he shouted, and his two colleagues, Roberjot and
Debry, immediately appeared on the threshold. Without greeting Victoria,
merely eyeing her with cold, contemptuous glances, the two gentlemen
entered and walked directly to the desk. Bonnier locked the door and put
the key into his pocket.

Victoria saw it, and a slight pallor overspread her rosy face for a
moment.

“Will you tell me, sir, what all this means?” she asked, in a
threatening voice.

“You will learn it directly,” said Bonnier. “Please sit down again in
your arm-chair, for we are going to resume our diplomatic negotiations.
You, gentlemen, take seats on both sides of the lady; I shall sit down
opposite her, and at the slightest motion she makes, either to jump out
of the window there, or to interrupt us by an exclamation, I shall shoot
her as sure as my name is Bonnier!”

He drew a pistol from his bosom and cocked it. “I command you to be
silent and not to interrupt us,” he said, turning to Victoria. “The
pistol is loaded, and, unless you respect my orders, I will most
certainly inflict upon you the punishment you have deserved; I shall
take your life like that of any other spy who has been caught in a
hostile camp.”

He dropped his right hand with the pistol on the table, and then turned
to the two gentlemen, who had listened to him in gloomy silence.

“Yes, my friends,” he said, throwing back his head in order to shake
away his long black hair, surrounding his face like a mane--“now, my
friends, I beg you to listen to my justification. You have latterly
believed me to be a fool, a prodigal son of the republic, who, for the
sake of a miserable love-affair with a flirt, neglected the most sacred
interests of his country. You shall see and acknowledge now that, while
I seemed to be lost, I was only working for the welfare and glory of our
great republic, and that this woman with her beautiful mask did not
make me forget for a single moment my duties to my country. These papers
contain my justification--these papers, madame, with which you hoped
to revenge yourself. Pardon me, my fairy queen, I have made another
mistake, and again brought a wrong portfolio; these are not the
documents either which you would like to obtain. Perhaps they are after
all in the portfolio lying on the floor there!”

He looked at Victoria with a scornful smile; she fixed her large eyes
steadfastly upon him; not a muscle of her face was twitching--not the
slightest anxiety or fear was depicted on her features.

Bonnier opened the portfolio and drew the papers from it.

“I shall only briefly state to you the contents of those papers,” he
said, “you may afterward peruse them at leisure. This first paper is a
letter I received by a courier from Vienna, without knowing who sent it
to me. The letter only contains the following words:”

“‘Be on your guard. A very dangerous spy will be sent to you--a lady who
is the most intimate friend of a distinguished statesman. Receive her
well, and let no one see these lines. It will promote the welfare of
France.’”

“As a matter of course, I said nothing about it, not even to you, my
friends; I was silent, and waited for further developments. Two days
later I received this second paper. It was a note from a lady, who wrote
to me that she had just arrived at Rastadt, and was very anxious to
see me, but under the seal of the most profound secrecy. I followed the
invitation, and repaired to the designated house. I found there this
lady, who introduced herself to me as Madame Victoria de Poutet; and
if you now look at her you will comprehend why that refined half-Turk
Thugut, as well as the mad rake Count Lehrbach, are both in love with
her, for she is more beautiful than the loveliest odalisque and the most
fascinating Phryne!”

The three men fixed their eyes upon Victoria, and ogled her with an
impudent leer. Victoria sat erect and immovable, and even her eye-lashes
did not move; she apparently did not see the glances fixed upon her; nor
even heard what Bonnier had said about her, for her countenance remained
calm and almost smiling.

Bonnier continued: “The lady told me a very pretty little story, the
particulars of which I shall not relate to you. In short, Thugut had
attacked her innocence and her honor--her innocence and her honor, do
not forget that!--and she wanted to revenge herself upon him. She asked
me to lend her my assistance for this purpose. I feigned to believe
every thing she told me, and promised to protect her.”

“This third paper here I found on my desk on returning home from my
visit to the lady. A stranger had delivered it. It was written by the
same man who had addressed the first letter to me. It read as
follows: ‘A romance is to be played with you; let them proceed without
interfering with their doings. The fascination of beauty is very
powerful, and the lady is going to fascinate you, for the purpose of
obtaining important papers from you. Pretend to be fascinated, and you
will penetrate the intrigue.’”

“The advice was good, and I followed it. I feigned to be fascinated;
I played the enthusiastic lover of this lady; and although I doubtless
acted my part in a very clumsy manner, she was kind enough to believe
me; for she is well aware that no one is able to withstand the power of
her beauty. But in order to perform my ROLE in a really truthful manner,
not only Madame de Poutet, but also all Rastadt, had to be convinced of
my ardent love for her, for Victoria is very shrewd; Thugut has
educated a worthy pupil in her. Hence I had to wear the mask of my love
everywhere, even before you, my friends. I had to make up my mind to
pass for a fool until I was able to prove to you that I was a man of
sense; I had to wear MY mask until I was able to tear this woman’s
mask from her face. Oh, I assure you, it is not an easy task to be this
lady’s lover! She demands a great deal of courting, a great deal of
ardor, a great deal of passion; she has got very warm blood herself,
and, if I am not mistaken, she is a great-granddaughter of that
beautiful Roman lady, Messalina.”

Now, for the first time, a slight tremor pervaded Victoria’s frame, and
a deep blush suffused her cheeks. But this lasted only a moment, and
then she sat again quite erect and immovable.

“In spite of the difficulty of your task, you have played your part in a
masterly manner,” said Jean Debry, in a rude and stern voice. “All of us
believed you were in love, and this modern Messalina certainly did not
doubt it, either.”

“No, she did not doubt it,” said Bonnier, with a disdainful smile. “She
surrounded herself with spies, who had to watch me, but fortunately I
knew them, and did not betray myself.”

“How did you know them?” asked Roberjot.

“My unknown correspondent pointed them out to me. He had given up his
incognito, and came to me, satisfying me of his identity by writing
a few lines, which proved him to be the author of the two previous
letters. He offered for a brilliant compensation to assist me in
unravelling the intrigue, and I promised him five thousand francs. He
was one of our most astute and skilful spies, and he wanted this affair
to be his masterpiece, in order to obtain from me a recommendation to
General Bonaparte, who has just returned from Egypt. I shall give him
to-day the promised sum and the recommendation, for he has honestly
earned both, and faithfully assisted me in unmasking this woman.
[Footnote: This spy was the famous Schulmeister, afterward Bonaparte’s
most adroit and intrepid spy. He boasted of the role he had played
at Kastadt, and which had brought him double pay; first from Count
Lehrbach, whom he had informed that there were important papers in the
hands of the French, and then from the French ambassadors, whom he had
cautioned against Count Lehrbach, and given the advice to burn their
papers and to be on their guard.] I received every morning a written
report from him about every thing Madame Poutet had done during the
previous day. All these reports are in this portfolio, and you will
examine them, my friends. You will see from them that Madame Victoria,
who had come to me in order to revenge herself upon Thugut, nevertheless
kept up a good understanding with his most intimate friend, Count
Lehrbach, for every night, as soon as I had left Victoria, the noble
count repaired to her house and spent several hours with her, although
Victoria had assured me Count Lehrbach did not even suspect her presence
at Rastadt. However, there was a possibility that my spy was deceiving
me just as well as he had deceived Madame de Poutet. In order to
ascertain that, I informed Victoria one evening that a courier would set
out for Paris in the morning, and forward to the Directory papers of
the highest importance, concerning an alliance with Russia. We sent
a courier to Paris in the morning, but not far from Rastadt he was
arrested by Austrian hussars, robbed of his papers, and taken to the
headquarters of the Austrian Colonel Barbaczy, at Gernsbach, although
our courier was provided with a French passport and an official badge,
enabling him fully to prove that he was in our service.” [Footnote:
Historical.]

“This was an unheard-of violation of international law, for which we
have vainly sought redress,” said Jean Debry, gloomily.

“These German cowards are not even courageous enough to acknowledge
their own acts. They deny having robbed our courier, but they cannot
deny having imprisoned him, contrary to international law.”

“Just as little as Victoria can deny that she was the person who
had informed Lehrbach and Barbaczy of the courier’s departure,” said
Bonnier; “for, fifteen minutes before setting out, the courier himself
did not know any thing about his mission; and the dispatches, of course,
were of the most harmless description. But my pretty lady-bird there had
gone into the trap I had set for her, and I kept her in it without her
knowing any thing about it. She was quite unsuspecting, and, thanks to
my talents as a comedian, and to my love, I finally found out the real
purpose of her visit to Rastadt. Yesterday I promised her to deliver to
her to-day the papers that endanger Thugut’s position at the head of the
Austrian government, and prove him to be a hireling of England. In the
evening Count Lehrbach sent a courier to Vienna; then we retaliated,
caused the courier to be arrested and took his papers from him. He had,
however, only a small note, addressed to Minister Thugut. Here it is. It
contains only the following words:”

‘I shall get the papers to-morrow.’

‘VICTORIA.’

“But these words were written by the beautiful hand of the same lady
who latterly had penned so many tender love-letters to myself. I had
promised her those papers if she would call for them to-day, and you
see, my friends, that she has come. But I desired to know if this really
was the only object for which Baron Thugut had sent his most beautiful
and sagacious agent to Rastadt, or if there were not some secondary
objects at the bottom of this mission. I therefore resolved to ascertain
this to-day. My astute spy had told me that Madame de Poutet was also
anxious to get hold of some other important papers. I therefore feigned
to-day to have abstracted the wrong papers and to have brought here a
portfolio containing our correspondence with the Prussian minister and
documents in relation to an alliance between France and Prussia. I
told my fair friend that the loss of these papers would ruin me
irretrievably, and yet I was such a love-sick fool as to drop the
portfolio with the papers while engaged in tenderly kissing my hand to
my dulcinea. Look, gentlemen, the portfolio is yet lying on the floor,
but the papers are no longer in it. They are carefully concealed in
Madame Victoria’s pocket. Oh, it was a very pretty scene, when she stole
them. I watched her through a small hole which I had bored through the
door this morning, and through which I could plainly see every motion
of my beautiful Victoria. Yes, my beautiful Victoria stole the papers,
although she knew that this loss would seriously embarrass me. However,
my friends, it will be unnecessary for the republic to punish me for
this theft Madame de Poutet has committed, for the papers she has got
in her pocket are nothing but the faithful diary of my daily intercourse
with Victoria de Poutet. I have carefully noted in it every conversation
I had with her, and every favor she granted to me, and I have no
objection whatever to this diary being transmitted to Minister Thugut.
If he is not jealous, he will not complain of it. And now I am through
with my justification, and I ask you, did I not act as a good and
faithful son of the republic should? Have I done my duty? Will the
country be content with me?”

“Yes,” said Roberjot, solemnly, “you have acted as a good and faithful
son of the republic. You have intrepidly followed the enemy who had
approached you on secret paths, into his hiding-places, and you have
skilfully exposed the perfidious intrigues he had carried on against
France. You have done your duty.”

“Yes, the republic will thank you for your zeal,” exclaimed Jean Debry;
“you have run great risks for her sake. For a beautiful, voluptuous, and
intriguing woman is even more dangerous than a venomous serpent. Like
St. Anthony, you have withstood the temptress by praying to our holy
mother, the great French Republic! Yes, the country will be content with
you.”

“I thank you, my friends,” said Bonnier, with a happy smile; “I now
stand again before you with a clear conscience, and without a blush of
shame on my cheeks. You have accepted my atonement. As for this woman,
we will inflict no further punishment on her. She was only a tool in
Thugut’s hands; that was all. This hour has punished her sufficiently,
and our profound contempt shall be the only penalty she will take away
with her.”

“Yes, our profound contempt shall be the penalty she will take with
her,” exclaimed Roberjot and Jean Debry at the same time.

“There is nothing more disgraceful under the sun than a woman who sells
her charms,” said Roberjot.

“There is nothing more dreadful and dishonorable than an ambitious and
heartless wanton!” added Jean Debry, in a voice of profound disdain.

“Victoria de Poutet,” said Bonnier, throwing the pistol aside, “every
thing between us was a comedy, even this pistol, the pretended bullet of
which frightened and silenced you. It was not loaded. The comedy is
now at an end, and there remains nothing for you but to go to your
stage-manager and to tell him that you utterly failed in performing your
part. You may go now; nothing further detains you here.”

“I beg your pardon,” said Victoria, in a perfectly calm and sonorous
voice; “you forget that you put the key of the door into your pocket;
go, therefore, and unlock it.”

She pointed at the door with an imperious gesture, and Bonnier went to
unlock it. Victoria, remaining still erect and calm in her arm-chair,
looked at him while he was doing so, and only when Bonnier had opened
the door and returned to the table, she rose slowly from her seat.

Now she stood there, drawing herself up to her full height, her face
glowing with indignation, a deep blush mantling her cheeks, a disdainful
smile playing on the slightly parted lips, the expansive white forehead
deeply wrinkled, as cold as marble, and yet concealing under this marble
surface a torrent of molten lava, which, as soon as it should burst
forth, could not but produce death and destruction. Hers was now
a diabolic beauty, and when she turned her eyes toward the three
republicans, they glistened like dagger-points.

“I have to make but a brief reply to M. Bonnier’s long speech,” she
said, proudly and calmly. “This is my answer: I shall obtain those
papers in spite of you, and I shall revenge myself for this hour! To
your last high-sounding sentences, I answer by another sentence: there
is nothing more dangerous than an irritated and insulted woman, for she
will revenge herself and imbrue her hands in the blood of those who have
insulted her. Roberjot, Bonnier, and Debry, you have insulted me, and
I tell you I shall revenge myself. Before three times three days have
passed, you will have atoned with your blood for this hour, and may God
have mercy on your poor souls!”

She greeted all of them with a haughty nod, and slowly turning around,
she proudly crossed the room. The three men looked at her with pale and
gloomy faces, and a slight shudder pervaded for a moment the hearts of
the republicans, usually so bold and undaunted.

“She looked like an evil demon predicting our future!” murmured
Roberjot.

“She will fulfil her word; she will try to assassinate us,” said
Bonnier. “Did you not see it? Her eyes were moist; no tears were
glistening in them, however, only the venom she will discharge at us.
Let us be on our guard!”

“Yes, let us beware of the serpent’s venom!” exclaimed Jean Debry, with
gloomy energy--“let us beware, and most of all, let us be men who cannot
be intimidated by the furious threats of a woman.”

But Jean Debry knew neither the energy nor the power of this woman whose
threats he despised. He did not know that, her anger once aroused, she
would not rest until she had taken her revenge. Late in the evening of
that day, when all Rastadt was sleeping, Victoria received in her house
her two powerful assistants, Count Lehrbach and Colonel Barbaczy, the
latter having been invited by a mounted messenger to come to her from
Gernsbach.

A long and portentous conference these three persons held in the course
of that night, during which they consulted about the best way to punish
the French ambassadors, and to take from them the papers which Thugut
wished to obtain. “We must have those papers at any price,” exclaimed
Victoria, with flashing eyes.

“Oh, it will only cost a little blood!” shouted Count Lehrbach, in a
hollow voice, and laughing hoarsely. “These overbearing French have
trampled us under foot for two long years, and tormented us by pricking
us with pins. Now we will also trample them under foot and prick them,
and if our pins are longer than theirs, who will complain?”

“Thugut wants those papers, and he has forgiven us in advance if they
should be a little blood-stained,” said Victoria, looking up smilingly
to old Colonel Barbaczy, who, with his hands folded on his back, his
large shaggy eyebrows gloomily contracted, was slowly pacing the room.

“Barbaczy! Barbaczy!” he muttered, in a low voice, “what will the
world say of your old head?” [Footnote: Barbaczy’s own words.--Vide
“Uteransoher Lodiacus.” Edited by Theod. Mundt, 1835. Third number, p.
208]

“The world will not grudge these hot-blooded French a little
blood-letting, and it will praise your surgical skill, my dear
Barbaczy,” exclaimed Lehrbach, laughing. “The responsibility, besides,
does not fall on your shoulders. Who will blame you if your hot-blooded
hussars commit some excesses-some highway robberies? You do not order
them to assassinate anybody; you only order them to take the papers from
the ambassadors, and only to use force if it cannot be helped.”

“I shall send fifty hussars to the city to-morrow,” said Barbaczy,
thoughtfully. “They shall encamp in front of the Ettlinger Gate, so
that no one, whosoever it may be, will be able to cross the bridges
connecting the city with the suburbs without passing through their
ranks.”

Victoria approached him, and laying her hands on his shoulders, she
looked up to him with a fascinating smile.

“And you will send some of your most intrepid hussars to Lehrbach and to
me, that we may tell the brave men what rewards are in store for them if
they perform their duly in a satisfactory manner? No, my beautiful god
of war, do not shake your silvery locks BO wildly--do not threaten me
with your frowning brow! Think of Gurgewo, my friend! Do you remember
what you swore to me at that time in the trenches when I dressed with my
own hands the wound for which you were indebted to a Turkish sabre? Do
you remember that you swore to me at that time you would reciprocate my
service as soon as it was in your power?”

“I know it, and I am ready to fulfil my oath,” said Barbaczy, heaving a
sigh.

“Well, my friend, all I ask is this: send to-morrow six of your bravest
and wildest hussars to my house, and order them faithfully to carry out
what Count Lehrbach and I shall tell them.”

“The hussars shall halt at your door to-morrow morning at nine o’clock,”
 said Barbaczy, resolutely.

“And I will admit them!” exclaimed Victoria, smiling. “You will be here,
Count Lehrbach, I suppose?”

“I shall be here in order to listen to the wise lessons which the
goddess Victoria will teach the sons of Mars,” replied Lehrbach, fixing
his small, squinting eyes with an admiring air on Victoria’s beautiful
face. “You will need no other means but your smiles and your beauty in
order to inspire those brave soldiers with the most dauntless heroism.
Who would not be willing to shed a little French blood, if your lips
should promise him a reward?”

“And what reward are you going to promise to the soldier?” asked
Barbaczy, turning to Madame de Poutet. “What are you going to ask them
to do?”

“Only to seize all the papers of the ambassadors,” said Victoria.

“And to examine their bodies if any papers should be concealed there,”
 added Count Lehrbach, laughing.

“And their reward shall be that the hussars will be allowed to look for
some other spoils,” said Victoria.

“Highway robbery and murder, then,” sighed Barbaczy, “and perpetrated by
soldiers of my regiment! Highway robbery and murder!”

“Fie, what ugly words those are! and who thinks of murder?” exclaimed
Victoria. “Did we Germans die, then, of the numerous kicks and blows
which the French have given us for the last few years? We will only
return those kicks and blows, and the French will assuredly not be so
thin-skinned as to die of them on the spot.”

“Do as you please,” sighed Barbaczy. “Count Lehrbach has the right to
issue orders to myself and to my troops, and I owe you the fulfilment
of my oath. My hussars will occupy the city to-morrow, and I shall order
the French ambassadors to depart forthwith. What is to be done after
their departure you may settle with the hussars I shall send to you. I
shall take no notice of it.”

“And that is a very wise resolution of yours, colonel,” said Lehrbach.
“‘To know too much gives us the headache,’ says our gracious emperor,
whenever he returns the dispatches to Baron Thugut without having read
them. Send us, then, your hussars to-morrow, and whatever may happen,
colonel, we shall not betray each other.”

“No, we shall not betray each other!” repeated Victoria and Barbaczy,
with uplifted hands.

“To-morrow, then!” said Victoria. “Now, good-night, gentlemen!”



CHAPTER XXIX.

THE ASSASSINATION.


Early on the next day a strange and exciting report pervaded the city
of Rastadt. Austrian regiments were encamped all round the city, and
Sczekler hussars held all the gates. This was the report which filled
with astonishment and terror all those who were not initiated into the
secrets of the political situation, and who were not familiar with
the condition of the negotiations between France and Germany. For, by
surrounding the city with troops, in spite of the presence of the French
ambassadors, Austria openly violated the treaty stipulating that, until
the congress had adjourned sine die, neither German nor French troops
should approach the city within a circuit of three German miles.

It was reported, too--what the ambassadors as yet remaining in Rastadt
had carefully concealed up to this time--that the imperial ambassador,
Count Metternich, had quietly left the city several days before,
and that the peace commissioners of the empire had the day previous
suspended their official functions.

Congress had then dissolved; the peace commissioners of France and
Germany had been in session for two years without accomplishing their
task, and the situation looked as ominous and warlike as ever.

Every one resolved to depart; every trunk was being packed, every
carriage drawn forth from its shed. The French actors and ballet-dancers
had fled from Rastadt several weeks before at the first rude blast of
the approaching storm, like rats leaving a sinking ship. The sounds of
joy and mirth had died away, and everywhere only grave and gloomy words
were heard, only sorrowful and downcast faces met.

Every one, as we stated above, was preparing to set out, and the French
ambassadors, too, were going to leave Rastadt to-day, the twenty-eighth
of April. Their carriages were ready for them early in the morning in
the courtyard of the castle, when, all at once, some footmen of the
embassy, with pale, frightened faces, rushed into the castle and
reported that Austrian hussars were posted at the gates and refused to
allow any one to leave or enter the city. Even the commander of Rastadt,
an officer of the Duke of Baden, had not been permitted by the hussars
to ride out of the gate. He had been compelled to return to his
headquarters. [Footnote: Historical.--Vide “Geheime Geschichte der
Rastatter Friedensverhandlungen in Verbinduog mit den Staatshandeln
dieser Zeit.” Von einem Schweizer, part vi.]

“But we will not allow them to prevent us from leaving Rastadt,”
 said Roberjot, resolutely. “They will not dare to interfere with the
departure of the representatives of the French Republic!”

“The republic would take bloody revenge for such an outrage, and these
Germans are afraid of the anger of the republic!” exclaimed Jean Debry,
haughtily.

Bonnier violently shook his black mane, and a gloomy cloud settled on
his brow.

“Barbaczy’s hussars are encamped in front of the gates, and Victoria de
Poutet last night had another interview with Lehrbach and Barbaczy,” he
said. “If, like both of you, I had a wife and children with me, I should
not dare to depart without further guaranties.”

At this moment the door opened, and a footman handed Roberjot a letter
that had just arrived from the Prussian ambassador, Count Goertz.

Roberjot opened the letter and glanced over it. “The guaranties you
referred to, Bonnier, will soon be here,” he said, smiling. “It seems
the German ambassadors are sharing your apprehensions. They have drawn
up a joint letter to Colonel Barbaczy, requiring him to give them
a written pledge that there would be no interference with the free
departure of the French ambassadors, and that the safety of the latter
would not be endangered. Count Goertz, therefore, requests us not to
set out until a written reply has been made to the letter of the
ambassadors. Shall we delay our departure until then?”

“We will,” said Bonnier; “you will not derogate from your republican
dignity by consulting the safety of your wives and children. I may say
that, inasmuch as I have to take care of no one but myself, and as I
know that no care would be of any avail in my case.”

“What do you mean, my friend?” asked Jean Debry.

“I mean that I shall die to-day,” said Bonnier, solemnly.

Roberjot turned pale. “Hush,” he whispered; “let us say nothing about
this matter to the women. My wife had a bad dream last night; she saw me
weltering in my gore and covered with wounds, and she asserts that her
dreams are always fulfilled.”

“Roberjot, Bonnier, and Debry, may God have mercy on your poor souls!”
 muttered Bonnier, in a low voice.

“I do not believe in dreams!” said Jean Debry, with a loud, forced
laugh, “and besides, my wife has had no bad dream whatever, and not been
warned by fate. Come, let us go to our ladies who are already clad in
their travelling-dresses. Let us tell them that we shall, perhaps, be
compelled to wait a few hours.”

But several hours elapsed, and the messenger the German ambassadors had
sent to Colonel Barbaczy’s headquarters did not return. Nearly all of
the German ambassadors made their appearance at the castle in order to
express to the representatives of the French republic their astonishment
and profound indignation at this disrespectful delay, and to implore
them not to set out until the message had arrived.

The French ambassadors themselves were undecided and gloomy; their
ladies were pacing the rooms with sad faces and tearful eyes. Every one
was in the most painful and anxious state of mind. The whole day passed
in this manner, and night set in when finally the messenger whom the
ambassadors had sent to Colonel Barbaczy, returned to Rastadt. But he
did not bring the expected written reply of the colonel. In its place,
an Austrian officer of hussars made his appearance; he repaired to
the Prussian Count Goertz, at whose house the other ambassadors were
assembled, and brought him a verbal reply from Count Barbaczy. The
colonel excused himself for not sending a written answer, stating that
a pressure of business prevented him from so doing. He at the same time
assured the count and the ambassadors that the French ministers could
safely depart, and that he would give them twenty-four hours for this
purpose. [Footnote: Vide Dohm, nach seinem Wollen und Handeln, von
Cronau, p. 600.]

The officer brought, however, an autograph letter from Barbaczy to the
French ministers, and he repaired to the castle in order to deliver it
to them.

This letter from Barbaczy contained the following lines:

“Ministers: You will understand that no French citizens can be tolerated
within the positions occupied by the Austrian forces. You will not be
surprised, therefore, that I am obliged to request you, ministers, to
leave Rastadt within twenty-four hours.”

“Barbaczy, Colonel.”

“Gernsbach, April 28, 1799.” [Footnote: Dohm preserved a copy of this
letter.--Ibid.]

“Well, what are we to do?” asked Roberjot, when the officer had left
them.

“We will set out,” said Jean Debry, impetuously.

“Yes, we will set out,” exclaimed his beautiful young wife, encircling
him with her arms. “The air here, it seems to me, smells of blood and
murder; and every minute’s delay redoubles our danger.”

“Poor wife, did they infect you, too, already with their evil
forebodings and dreams?” said Jean Debry, tenderly pressing his wife to
his heart. “God forbid that they should endanger a single hair of your
dear, beautiful head! I am not afraid for myself, but for the sake of my
wife and of my two little daughters. For you and for our friends here I
would like to choose the best and most prudent course.”

“Let us set out,” said Madame Roberjot; “the terrible dream last night
was intended to give us warning. Death threatens us if we remain here
any longer. Oh, my husband, I love nothing on earth but you alone; you
are my love and my happiness! I would die of a broken heart if I should
lose you! But no, no, not lose! We live and die together. He who kills
you must also take my life!”

“They shall not kill us, my beloved,” said Roberjot, feelingly; “life,
I trust, has many joys yet in store for us, and we will return to our
country in order to seek them there. Bonnier, you alone are silent. Do
not you believe also that we ought to set out to-night?”

Bonnier started up from his gloomy reverie. “Let us set out,” he said,
“we must boldly confront the terrors from which we cannot escape. Let us
set out.”

“Be it so!” shouted Roberjot and Jean Debry. “The republic will protect
her faithful sons!”

“And may God protect us in His infinite mercy,” exclaimed Madame
Roberjot, falling on her knees.

And Jean Debry’s wife knelt down by her side, drawing her little girls
down with her.

“Let us pray, my children, for your father, for ourselves, and for our
friends,” she said, folding the children’s hands.

While the women were praying, the men issued their last orders to the
servants and to the postilions.

At length every thing was in readiness, and if they really wished to set
out, it had to be done at once.

Roberjot and Jean Debry approached softly and with deep emotion their
wives, who were kneeling and praying still, and raised them tenderly.

“Now be strong and courageous--be wives worthy of your husbands,” they
whispered. “Dry your tears and come! The carriages are waiting for us.
Come, come, France is waiting for us!”

“Or the grave!” muttered Bonnier, who accompanied the others to the
courtyard where the carriages were standing.

The ambassadors with their wives and attendants had finally taken seats
in the carriages. Roberjot and his wife occupied the first carriage;
Bonnier, the second; Jean Debry with his wife and daughters, the third;
in the fourth, fifth, and sixth were the secretaries of legation, the
clerks and servants of the ambassadors.

The last coach-door was closed; a profound momentary silence succeeded
the noise and turmoil that had prevailed up to this time. Then the loud,
ringing voice of Roberjot asked from the first carriage, “All ready?”

“All ready!” was the reply from the other carriages.

“Then let us start,” shouted Roberjot, and his carriage immediately
commenced moving. The other five carriages followed slowly and heavily.

The night was chilly and dark. The sky was covered with heavy clouds.
Not the faintest trace of the moon, not a star was visible. In order
that they might not lose their way, and see the bridge across the Rhine,
a man, bearing a torch, had to precede the carriages. But the gale moved
the flame so violently that it now seemed near going out, and then again
flared up and cast a glare over the long procession of the carriages.
Then every thing once more became dark and gloomy and ominously still.

The torch-bearer, preceding the foremost carriage, vigorously marched
ahead on the road. All at once it seemed to him as though black figures
were emerging from both sides of the highway and softly flitting past
him. But assuredly he must have been mistaken; it could not have been
any thing but the shadows of the trees standing on both sides of the
road.

No, now he saw it again, quite plainly. The shadows were horsemen,
softly riding along on both sides of the highway. He raised his torch
and looked at the horsemen. There was quite a cavalcade of them.
Now they crossed the ditch and took position across the road, thus
preventing the carriages from passing on. The torch-bearer stood still
and turned around in order to shout to the postilions to halt. But only
an inarticulated, shrill cry escaped from his throat, for at the same
moment two of the horsemen galloped up and struck at him with their
flashing swords. He parried the strokes with his torch, his only weapon,
so that one of the swords did not hit him at all, while the other only
slightly touched his shoulder.

“What is the matter?” shouted Roberjot, in an angry voice, from the
first carriage.

The horsemen seized the arms of the torch-bearer and dragged him toward
the carriage. “Light!” they shouted to him, and quite a squad of merry
horsemen was now coming up behind them. When they dashed past the torch,
the frightened torch-bearer was able to see their wild, bearded faces,
their flashing eyes, and the silver lace on their uniforms.

The torch betrayed the secret of the night, and caused the Sczekler
hussars of Barbaczy’s regiment to be recognized.

They now surrounded the first carriage, shouting furiously, and
shattering the windows with their sabres.

“Minister Roberjot! Are you Minister Roberjot?” asked a dozen wild,
howling voices.

Roberjot’s grave and threatening face, illuminated by the glare of the
torch, appeared immediately in the aperture of the window. “Yes, I am
Roberjot,” he said, loudly; “I am the ambassador of France, and here is
the passport furnished me by the ambassador of the Elector of Mentz.”

He exhibited the paper, but the hussars took no notice of it; four
vigorous arms dragged Roberjot from the carriage, and before he had time
to stretch out his hand toward his pistols, the sabres of the hussars
fell down upon his head and shoulders.

A terrible yell was heard, but it was not Roberjot who had uttered it;
it was his wife, who appeared with pale and distorted features in the
coach door, hastening to her beloved husband, to save him or to die with
him.

But two stout arms kept her back--the arms of the valet de chambre who,
perceiving that his master was hopelessly lost, wanted to protect at
least his mistress from the murderous sabres of the hussars.

“Let me go, let me go; I will die with him!” she cried; but the faithful
servant would not loosen his hold, and, unable to reach her husband, she
had to witness his assassination by the hussars, who cut him with their
sabres until he lay weltering in his gore.

“He is dead!” shrieked his wife, and her wail aroused Roberjot once more
from his stupor. He opened his eyes and looked once more at his wife.

“Sauvez! sauvez!” he shouted, in a voice full of anguish. “Oh!--”

“What! not dead yet?” roared the hussars, and they struck him again.

Now he was dying. That loud, awful death-rattle was his last
life-struggle. The valet de chambre in order to prevent her from hearing
that awful sound, with his hands closed the ears of his mistress, who,
petrified with horror, was looking at her dying husband.

But she did not hear it; she had fainted in the servant’s arms. At this
moment a heavy hand was laid on his shoulder, and the wild, bearded face
of a hussar stared at him.

“Footman?” asked the hussar, in his broken Hungarian dialect. “Yes,
footman!” said the valet de chambre, in broken German.

The hussar smilingly patted his shoulder, and, with his other hand,
pulled the watch from his vest-pocket, kindly saying to him, “Footman,
stay here. No harm will befall him!” He then bent forward, and with
a quick grasp, tore the watch and chain from the neck of Roberjot’s
fainting wife.

His task was now accomplished, and he galloped to the second carriage,
to which the other hussars had just dragged the torch-bearer, and which
they had completely surrounded.

“Bonnier, alight!” howled the hussars, furiously--“Bonnier, alight!”

“Here I am!” said Bonnier, opening the coach door; “here--” They did
not give him time to finish the sentence. They dragged him from the
carriage, and struck him numerous blows amidst loud laughter and yells.
Bonnier did not defend himself; he did not parry a single one of their
strokes; without uttering a cry or a groan, he sank to the ground. His
dying lips only whispered a single word. That word was, “Victoria!”

The six hussars who crowded around him now stopped in their murderous
work. They saw that Bonnier was dead--really dead--and that their task
was accomplished. Now commenced the appropriation of the spoils, the
reward that had been promised to them. Four of them rushed toward the
carriage in order to search it and to take out all papers, valuables,
and trunks; the two others searched and undressed the warm corpse of
Bonnier with practised hands.

Then the six hussars rushed after their comrades toward the third
carriage--toward Jean Debry. But the others had already outstripped
them. They had dragged Debry, his wife, and his daughters from the
carriage; they were robbing and searching the lady and the children, and
cutting Jean Debry with their sabres.

He dropped to the ground; his respiration ceased, and a convulsive
shudder passed through the bloody figure, and then it lay cold and
motionless in the road.

“Dead! dead!” shouted the hussars, triumphantly. “The three men are
killed; now for the spoils! The carriages are ours, with every thing in
them! Come, let us search the fourth carriage. We will kill no more; we
will only seize the spoils!”

And all were shouting and exulting, “Ho for the spoils! for the spoils!
Every thing is ours!” And the wild crowd rushed forward, and Jean Debry
lay motionless, a bleeding corpse by the side of the carriage.

Profound darkness enveloped the scene of horror and carnage. The torch
had gone out; no human eye beheld the corpses with their gaping wounds.
The ladies had been taken into the carriages by their servants; the
hussars were engaged in plundering the three remaining carriages, the
inmates of which, however, forewarned in time by the shrieks and groans
that had reached them from the scene of Roberjot’s assassination,
had left and fled across the marshy meadows to the wall of the castle
garden. Climbing over it and hastening through the garden, they reached
the city and spread everywhere the terrible tidings of the assassination
of the ambassadors.



CHAPTER XXX.

JEAN DEBRY.


As soon as the report of the dreadful occurrence had been circulated, a
dense crowd gathered in the streets of Rastadt, and for the first time
for two years the ambassadors of all the German powers were animated by
one and the same idea, and acting in concord and harmony. They repaired
in a solemn procession to the Ettlinger gate, headed by Count Goertz and
Baron Dohm; the others followed in pairs, Count Lehrbach, the Austrian
ambassador, being the only one who had not joined the procession.
But the guard at the gate refused to let them pass, and when they
had finally succeeded, after long and tedious negotiations, in being
permitted to leave the city, they were met outside of the gate by the
Austrian Captain Burkhard and his hussars.

Count Goertz went to meet him with intrepid courage. “Did you hear that
an infamous murder has been perpetrated on the French ambassadors not
far from the city?”

“I have heard of it,” said the captain, shrugging his shoulders.

“And what steps have you taken in order to save the unfortunate victims,
if possible?”

“I have sent an officer and two hussars for the purpose of ascertaining
the particulars.”

“That is not sufficient, sir!” exclaimed Count Goertz. “You must do more
than that, you must strain every nerve on this occasion, for this is
not an ordinary murder, but your honor, sir, is at stake, as well as the
honor of your monarch and the honor of the German nation!”

“The honor of the German nation is at stake,” shouted the ambassadors,
unanimously. “Our honor has been sullied by the assassination!”

But the captain remained cold and indifferent. “It is a deplorable
misunderstanding,” he said. “It is true, the patrols were going the
rounds at night, and such things may occur at this time. The French
ministers should not have set out by night. The crime has been
committed, and who is to blame for it? It was not done by anybody’s
order.” [Footnote: The literal reply of Captain Burkhard.--Vide “Report
of the German Ambassadors concerning the Assassination of the French
Ministers near Rastadt.”]

“Who would deem it possible that such an outrage should have been
committed by order of any commanding officer?” exclaimed Count Goertz,
indignantly.

“Ah, yes, an outrage indeed!” said Burkhard, shrugging his shoulders.
“A few ambassadors have been killed. A few of our generals, too, were
killed during the last few years.”[Footnote: Ibid.]

Count Goertz turned to the other ambassadors with an air of profound
indignation. “You see,” he said, “we need not hope for much assistance
here; let us seek it elsewhere. Let some of us repair in person to
Colonel Barbaczy’s headquarters at Gernsbach, while the rest of us will
go to the spot where the murders were committed. If the captain here
declines giving us an escort for that purpose, we shall repair thither
without one; and if we should lose our lives by so doing, Germany will
know how to avenge us!”

“I will give you an escort,” said Burkhard, somewhat abashed by the
energetic bearing of the count.

While the ambassadors were negotiating with the captain at the Ettlinger
gate, the hussars were incessantly engaged in plundering the six
carriages. After finishing the first three carriages, they ordered the
ladies and servants to reenter them and to await quietly and silently
what further would be done in relation to them. No one dared to offer
any resistance--no one was strong enough to oppose them. Dismay had
perfectly paralyzed and stupefied all of them. Madame Debry lay in her
carriage with open, tearless eyes, and neither the lamentations nor the
kisses of her daughters were able to arouse her from her stupor. Madame
Roberjot was wringing her hands, and amidst heart-rending sobs she was
wailing all the time, “They have hacked him to pieces before my eyes!”
 [Footnote: “I ls l’ont hache devant mes yeux!”--Lodiacus, vol. iii., p.
195.]

No one paid any attention to the corpses lying with their gaping wounds
in the adjoining ditch. Night alone covered them with its black pall;
night alone saw that Jean Debry all at once commenced stirring slightly,
that he opened his eyes and raised his head in order to find out what
was going on around him. With the courage of despair he had been playing
the role of a motionless corpse as long as the hussars were in his
neighborhood; and now that he no longer heard any noise in his vicinity,
it was time for him to think of saving himself.

He remained in a sitting position in the ditch and listened. His head
was so heavy that he had not sufficient strength to hold it erect, it
dropped again upon his breast; from a burning, painful wound the blood
was running over his face into his mouth, and it was the only cooling
draught for his parched lips. He wanted to raise his arm in order to
close this wound and to stanch the blood, but the arm fell down by his
side, heavy and lame, and he then felt that it was likewise severely
injured.

And yet, bleeding and hacked as he was, he was alive, and it was
time for him to think of preserving his life. For over yonder, in the
carriage, there resounded the wail of his children, and the lamentations
of his servants. His wife’s voice, however, he did not hear. Was she not
there? Had she also been assassinated?

He dared not inquire for her at this moment. He had to save himself, and
he was determined to do it.

He arose slowly, and heedless of the pain it caused him. Every thing
around him remained silent. No one had seen him rise; night with its
black pall protected him. It protected him now as he walked a few steps
toward the forest, closely adjoining the highway. At length he reached
the forest, and the shades of darkness and of the woods covered the
tall, black form that now disappeared in the thicket.

But his enemies might be lurking for him in this thicket. Every step
forward might involve him in fresh dangers. Exhausted and in despair,
Jean Debry supported his tottering body against a tree, the sturdy
trunk of which he encircled with his arms. This tree was now his only
protector, the only friend on whom he could rely. To this tree alone he
determined to intrust his life.

Heedless of his wounded arm and the racking pains of his other injuries,
Jean Debry climbed the knotty trunk; seizing a large branch, he raised
himself from bough to bough. A few birds, aroused from their slumbers,
arose from the foliage and flitted away. Jean Debry followed them with
his eyes, and whispered, “You will not betray me!”

On the highest bough, in the densest foliage, he sat down, gasping with
exhaustion, and groaning with pain. In his utter prostration after the
extraordinary effort he had just made, he leaned his head against the
trunk of the tree, the dense branches of which closely enveloped him,
and gave a roof to his head and a resting-place to his feet.

“Here I am safe--here no one will look for me!” he muttered, and he fell
asleep, prostrated by his sufferings and loss of blood.

Night with its dark mantle covered him up and fanned his feverish brow
with its cooling air: the foliage of the tree laid itself soft and fresh
around his burning cheeks, and delightful dreams descended from heaven
to comfort this poor, tormented human soul.

After several hours of invigorating sleep, Jean Debry was awakened, not,
however, by the rude hands of men, but heaven itself aroused him by the
torrents of a heavy shower.

Oh, how refreshing were these cold drops for his parched lips! How
gently did this soft and tepid water wash the blood and dust from his
wounds! How delightfully did it bathe his poor benumbed limbs!

He felt greatly invigorated, and courageously determined to make further
efforts for the preservation of his life. He slowly glided down from the
tree and stood once more on the ground.

The shower was constantly on the increase, and the rain became now, at
daybreak, Jean Debry’s protector. When men forsake their poor, tormented
fellow-beings, Nature takes pity on them and encircles them with her
saving and protecting maternal arms.

The rain protected Jean Debry; it washed the dust and blood from his
garments, and made him resemble the other men who had gathered in a
large crowd on the road, not far from where he emerged from the forest.
All of them were looking with pale faces and expressions of unbounded
horror at some objects lying in their midst. What was it that rendered
this crowd, generally so noisy and turbulent, to-day so silent and
grave?

Jean Debry penetrated further into their midst, and he discovered now
with a shudder what riveted the attention of the vast gathering on the
road.

He beheld the bloody and mutilated corpses of his two friends--the dead
bodies of Roberjot and Bonnier.

Jean Debry closely compressed his lips in order to keep back the cry
that forced itself from his breast; with the whole energy of his will he
suppressed the tears that started from his eyes, and he turned away in
order to return to Rastadt.

The rain protected Jean Debry. The rain had driven the soldiers at the
gate into the guard-room, and the sentinel into the sentry-box. No one
took any notice of this wet and dripping man when he entered the gate.

He quietly walked up the street, directly toward the house inhabited by
Count Goertz, the Prussian ambassador. He entered the house with firm
steps, and hastened into the anteroom which, as he formerly used to do,
he wanted to cross in order to walk to the count’s room without sending
in his name.

But the footmen kept him back; they refused to admit this pale man with
the lacerated face and tattered clothes to their master’s private room.

“Don’t you know me any longer, my friends?” he asked, sadly. “Am I so
disfigured that no one of you is able to recognize Jean Debry?”

The footmen now recognized his voice, and the valet de chambre hastened
to open the door of the count’s study, and to shout, in a loud voice,
“His excellency, the French ambassador Debry!”

Count Goertz uttered a joyful cry, and hastily rose from the sofa on
which, exhausted by the efforts of the terrible night, he had sought a
little rest.

Jean Debry entered the room. He made a truly lamentable appearance as he
approached the count, and fixed his dimmed, bloodshot eyes upon him with
an expression of unutterable anguish.

“Are my wife and children safe?” he asked, breathlessly.

“Yes, they are safe!” exclaimed the count.

And Jean Debry, the austere republican, the scoffing infidel, Jean Debry
fell upon his knees! Lifting up his arms toward heaven, his eyes filled
with tears, he exclaimed: “Divine Providence, if I have hitherto refused
to acknowledge thy benefits, oh, forgive me!” [Footnote: He exclaimed:
“Divine providence, si j’ai meconnu tes bien faits jusqu’ici,
pardonne!”--Lodiacus, iii., p. 195.]

“And punish those who have perpetrated this horrible crime!” added Count
Goertz, folding his hands, and uttering a fervent prayer. “O God, reveal
the authors of this misdeed; let us find those who have committed this
outrage, lest it may remain a bloody stigma on the fame of our country!
Have mercy on poor Germany, on whose brow this mark of infamy is now
burning, and who will be obliged to pour out rivers of her best blood
in order to atone for this crime, and to clear her sullied honor! Have
mercy on all of us, and give us courage to bravo the storms which this
horrible event will assuredly call down! Have mercy, O God; punish only
the assassins, but not our native land!”

This prayer of Count Goertz was not fulfilled. The real instigators
of the murder were never detected and punished, although the Austrian
court, in a public manifesto to the German nation, promised a searching
investigation of the whole affair, and a rigorous chastisement of the
assassins. But the investigation was but a very superficial proceeding,
and its results were never published. The Sczekler hussars publicly
sold, on the following day, the watches, snuff-boxes, and valuables they
had stolen from the French ambassadors. Some of them even acknowledged
openly that they had perpetrated the murder, at the instigation of
their officers. But nobody thought of arresting them, or calling them
to account for their crime. It is true, after a while some of them were
imprisoned and tried. But the proceedings instituted against them were
never published, although the Austrian court had expressly promised to
lay the minutes of the commission trying the prisoners, and the results
of the whole investigation, before the public. In reality, however,
the Austrian authorities tried to hush up the whole affair, so that the
world might forget it. And it was forgotten, and remained unpunished.
In diplomatic circles, however, the real instigators of the outrage
were well known. “It was,” says the author of the “Memoirs of a German
Statesman” (Count Schlitz), “it was a man who, owing to his exalted
position, played a very prominent part at Rastadt; not a very noble one,
however. He was actuated by vindictiveness, and he was determined
to seize the most secret papers of the ambassadors at any price. The
general archives, however, had been forwarded to Strasburg several days
before. He had found willing tools in the brutal hussars. These wretches
believed that what a man of high standing asked them to do was agreeable
to the will of their imperial master. Baseness is easily able to mislead
stupidity, and soldiers thus became the assassins of unarmed men, who
stood under the sacred protection of international law.”

The excitement and indignation produced by this horrible crime were
general throughout Europe, and every one recognized in it the bloody
seeds of a time of horrors and untold evils; every one was satisfied
that France would take bloody revenge for the assassination of her
ambassadors. In fact, as soon as the tidings from Rastadt penetrated
beyond the Rhine, there arose throughout the whole of France a terrible
cry of rage and revenge. The intelligence reached Mentz in the evening,
when the theatre was densely crowded. The commander ordered the news
to be read from the stage, and the furious public shouted, “Vengeance!
vengeance! et la mort aux Allemands!” [Footnote: “Vengeance! vengeance!
and death to the Germans!”]

In Paris, solemn obsequies were performed for the murdered ambassadors.
The seats which Bonnier and Roberjot had formerly occupied in the hall
of the Corps Legislatif were covered with their bloody garments. When
the roll was called and their names were read, the president rose and
replied solemnly: “Assassinated at Rastadt!” The clerks then exclaimed:
“May their blood be brought home to the authors of their murder!”



CHAPTER XXXI.

THE COALITION.


Count Haugwitz, the Prussian minister of foreign affairs, had just
returned from a journey he had made with the young king to Westphalia.
In his dusty travelling-costume, and notwithstanding his exhaustion
after the fatigues of the trip, as soon as he had entered his study, he
had hastily written two letters, and then handed them to his footman,
ordering him to forward them at once to their address, to the
ambassadors of Prussia and England. Only then he had thrown himself
on his bed, but issued strict orders to awaken him as soon as the two
ambassadors had entered the house.

Scarcely an hour had elapsed when the footman awakened the count,
informing him that the two ambassadors had just arrived at the same
time, and were waiting for him in the small reception-room.

The minister hastily rose from his couch, and without devoting a single
glance to his toilet and to his somewhat dishevelled wig, he crossed
his study and entered the reception-room, where Lord Grenville and Count
Panin were waiting for him.

“Gentlemen,” said the count after a hurried bow, “be kind enough to look
at my toilet, and then I hope you will excuse me for daring to request
you to call upon me, instead of coming to you as I ought to have done.
But you see I have not even doffed my travelling habit, and it would not
have behooved me to call on you in such a costume; but the intelligence
I desire to communicate is of such importance that I wished to lose
no time in order to lay it before you, and hence I took the liberty of
inviting you to see me.”

“As far as I am concerned, I willingly accepted your invitation,” said
Lord Grenville, deliberately, “for in times like these we can well
afford to disregard the requirements of etiquette.”

“That I was no less eager to follow your call,” said Count Panin, with a
courteous smile, “you have seen from the fact that I arrived at the
same time with the distinguished ambassador of Great Britain. But now,
gentlemen, a truce to compliments; let us come to the point directly,
and without any further circumlocution. For the six months that I
have been here at Berlin, in order to negotiate with Prussia about
the coalition question, I have been so incessantly put off with empty
phrases, that I am heartily tired of that diet and long for more
substantial food.”

“Your longing will be gratified to-day, Count Panin,” said Count
Haugwitz, with a proud smile, inviting the gentlemen, by a polite
gesture, to take seats on the sofa, while he sat down in an arm-chair
opposite them. “Yes, you will find to-day a good and nourishing diet,
and I hope you will be content with the cook who has prepared it for
you. I may say that I am that cook, and believe me, gentlemen, the task
of preparing that food for you has not been a very easy one.”

“You have induced the King of Prussia at length to join the coalition,
and to enter into an alliance with Russia, England, and Austria against
the French Republic?” asked Count Panin, joyfully.

“You have told his majesty that England is ready to pay large subsidies
as soon as Prussia leads her army into the field against France?” asked
Lord Grenville.

“Gentlemen,” said Count Haugwitz, in a slightly sarcastic tone, “I feel
greatly flattered by your impetuous inquiries, for they prove to me
how highly you value an alliance with Prussia. Permit me, however,
to communicate to you quietly and composedly the whole course of
negotiations. You know that I had the honor of accompanying my royal
master on his trip to our Westphalian possessions, where his majesty was
going to review an army of sixty thousand men.”

“It would have been better to send these sixty thousand men directly
into the field, instead of losing time by useless parades,” muttered
Count Panin.

The minister seemed not to have heard the words, and continued: “His
majesty established his headquarters at Peterhagen, and there we were
informed that Archduke Charles of Austria was holding the Rhine against
Bernadotte and Jourdan, and that the imperial army, under the command
of Kray, in Italy, had been victorious, too; it is true, however,
the Russian auxiliary army, under Field-Marshal Suwarrow, had greatly
facilitated Kray’s successful operations. This intelligence did not fail
to make a powerful impression upon my young king, and I confess upon
myself too. Hitherto, you know, I had always opposed to a war against
France, and I had deemed it most expedient for Prussia to avoid
hostilities against the republic. But the brilliant achievements of
Russia and Austria in Italy, and the victories of Archduke Charles on
the Rhine, seem to prove at length that the lucky star of France is
paling, and that it would be advantageous for Prussia openly to join the
adversaries of the republic in their attack.”

“A very bold and magnanimous resolution,” said Count Panin, with a
sarcastic smile.

“A resolution influenced somewhat by the British subsidies I have
promised to Prussia, I suppose?” asked Lord Grenville.

“Let me finish my statement, gentlemen,” said Count Haugwitz,
courteously. “The king, undecided as to the course he ought to
pursue, assembled at Paterhagen a council of war, our great commander,
Ferdinand, duke of Brunswick, of course, having been invited to be
present. His majesty requested us to state honestly and sincerely
whether we were in favor of war or peace with France. The duke of
Brunswick was, of course, the first speaker who replied to the king; he
voted for war. He gave his reasons in a fiery and energetic speech, and
demonstrated to the king that at a time when England was about to send
an army to Holland, an advance into Holland by our own army would be
highly successful. For my part, I unconditionally assented to the duke’s
opinion, and Baron Kockeritz declaring for it likewise, the king did not
hesitate any longer, but took a great and bold resolution. He ordered
the Duke of Brunswick to draw up a memorial, stating in extenso why
Prussia ought to participate in the war against France, and to send in
at the same time a detailed plan of the campaign. He instructed me to
return forthwith to Berlin, and while he would continue his journey
to Wesel, to hasten to the capital for the purpose of informing you,
gentlemen, that the king will join the coalition, and of settling with
you the particulars--”

At this moment the door of the reception-room was hastily opened, and
the first secretary of the minister made his appearance.

“Pardon me, your excellency, for disturbing you,” he said, handing a
sealed letter to the count, “but a courier has just arrived from the
king’s headquarters with an autograph letter from his majesty. He had
orders to deliver this letter immediately to your excellency, because it
contained intelligence of the highest importance.”

“Tell the courier that the orders of his majesty have been carried out,”
 said Count Haugwitz; “and you, gentlemen, I am sure you will permit me
to open this letter from my king in your presence. It may contain some
important particulars in relation to our new alliance.”

The two gentlemen assured him of their consent, and Count Haugwitz
opened the letter. When he commenced reading it, his face was as
unruffled as ever, but his features gradually assumed a graver
expression, and the smile disappeared from his lips.

The two ambassadors, who were closely watching the count’s countenance,
could not fail to notice this rapid change in his features, and their
faces now assumed likewise a gloomier air.

Count Haugwitz, however, seemed unable to master the contents of the
royal letter; he constantly read it anew, as though he were seeking in
its words for a hidden and mysterious meaning. He was so absorbed in the
perusal of the letter that he had apparently become entirely oblivious
of the presence of the two gentlemen, until a slight coughing of the
English ambassador aroused him from his musing.

“Pardon me, gentlemen,” he said, hastily, and in evident embarrassment;
“this letter contains some intelligence which greatly astonishes me.”

“I hope it will not interfere with the accession of Prussia to the
coalition?” said Panin, fixing his eyes upon the countenance of the
minister.

“Not at all,” said Count Haugwitz, quickly and smilingly. “The
extraordinary news is this: his majesty the king will reach Berlin
within this hour, and orders me to repair to him at once.”

“The king returns to Berlin!” exclaimed Count Panin.

“And did not your excellency tell us just now that the king had set out
for Wesel?” asked Lord Grenville, with his usual stoical equanimity.

“I informed you, gentlemen, of what occurred two weeks ago,” said Count
Haugwitz, shrugging his shoulders.

“What! Two weeks ago? Nevertheless, your excellency has just arrived at
Berlin, and are wearing yet your travelling-habit?”

“That is very true. I left Minden two weeks ago, but the impassable
condition of the roads compelled me to travel with snail-like slowness.
My carriage every day stuck in an ocean of mire, so that I had to send
for men from the adjoining villages in order to set it going again. The
axle-tree broke twice, and I was obliged to remain several day in the
most forsaken little country towns until I succeeded in getting my
carriage repaired.”

“The king seems to have found better roads,” said Count Panin, with a
lurking glance. “The journey to Wesel has been a very rapid one, at all
events.”

“The king, it seems, has given up that journey and concluded on the
road to return to the capital,” said Count Haugwitz, in an embarrassed
manner.

“It would be very deplorable if the king should as rapidly change his
mind in relation to his other resolutions!” exclaimed Lord Grenville.

“Your excellency does not fear, then, lest this sudden return of the
king should have any connection with our plans?” asked Panin. “The king
has authorized you to negotiate with the English ambassador, Sir Thomas
Grenville, and with myself, the representative of the Emperor Paul,
of Russia, about forming an alliance for the purpose of driving the
rapacious, revolutionary, and bloodthirsty French Republic beyond the
Rhine, and restoring tranquillity to menaced Europe?”

“It is true the king gave me such authority two weeks ago,” said Count
Haugwitz, uneasily, “and I doubt not for a single moment that his
majesty is now adhering to this opinion. But you comprehend, gentlemen,
that I must now hasten to wait on the returning king, in order to
receive further instructions from him.”

“That means, Count Haugwitz, that you have invited us to call on you in
order to tell us that we may go again?” asked Panin, frowning.

“I am in despair, gentlemen, at this unfortunate coincidence,” said
Count Haugwitz, anxiously. “It is, however, impossible for me now
to enter into further explanations. I must repair immediately to the
palace, and I humbly beg your pardon for this unexpected interruption of
our conference.”

“I accept your apology as sincerely as it was offered, and have the
honor to bid you farewell,” said Panin, bowing and turning toward the
door.

Count Haugwitz hastened to accompany him. When he arrived at the door,
and was about to leave the room, Count Panin turned around once more.

“Count Haugwitz,” he said, in a blunt voice, “be kind enough to call the
attention of the king to the fact that my imperial master, who is very
fond of resolute men and measures, prefers an open and resolute enemy to
a neutral and irresolute friend. He who wants to be no one’s enemy and
everybody’s friend, will soon find out that he has no friends whatever,
and that no one thanks him for not committing himself in any direction.
It is better after all to have a neighbor with whom we are living in
open enmity, than one on whose assistance we are never able to depend,
and who, whenever we are at war with a third power, contents himself
with doing nothing at all and assisting no one. Be kind enough to say
that to his majesty.”

He bowed haughtily, and entered the anteroom with a sullen face.

Count Haugwitz turned around and met the stern, cold glance of the
English ambassador, who was also approaching the door with slow and
measured steps.

“Count Haugwitz,” said Lord Grenville quietly, “I have the honor to
tell you that, in case the King of Prussia will not now, distinctly and
unmistakably, declare his intention of joining the coalition between
Russia, Austria, and England, we shall use the subsidies we had promised
to pay to Prussia for an army of twenty-five thousand men, in some other
way. Besides, I beg you to remind his majesty of the words of his great
ancestor, the Elector Frederick William. That brave and great sovereign
said: ‘I have learned already what it means to be neutral. One may have
obtained the best terms, and, in spite of them, will be badly treated.
Hence I have sworn never to be neutral again, and it would hurt my
conscience to act in a different manner.’ [Footnote: Hausser’s “History
of Germany,” vol. ii., p. 281.] I have the honor, count, to bid you
farewell.”

And Lord Grenville passed the count with a stiff bow, and disappeared in
the door of the anteroom.

Count Haugwitz heaved a profound sigh, and wiped off the perspiration
pearling in large drops on his brow. He then took the king’s letter
from his side-pocket and perused it once more. “It is the king’s
handwriting,” he said, shaking his head, “and it is also his peculiar
laconic style.” And, as if to satisfy himself by hearing the contents of
the letter, he read aloud:

“Do not enter into any negotiations with the ambassadors of Russia and
Great Britain. We will hold another council of war. I am on my way to
Berlin. Within an hour after receipt of these lines, I shall expect to
see you in my cabinet. Yours, affectionately,”

“Frederick William.”

“Yes, yes, the king has written that,” said Haugwitz, folding the
letter; “I must hastily dress, therefore, and repair to the palace. I am
anxious to know whence this new wind is blowing, and who has succeeded
in persuading the king to change his mind. Should my old friend,
Kockeritz, after all, be favorable to France? It would have been better
for him to inform me confidentially, and we might have easily agreed;
for I am by no means hostile to France, and I am quite ready to vote
for peace, if there be a chance to maintain it. Or should the young king
really have come to this conclusion without being influenced by anybody?
Why, that would be a dangerous innovation! We should take quick and
decisive steps against it. Well, we will see! I will go and dress.”



CHAPTER XXXII.

THE FRIEND OF PEACE.


The king, with his wonted punctuality, had reached Berlin precisely at
the specified time, and when Count Haugwitz arrived at the palace he
was immediately conducted to the king, who was waiting for him in his
cabinet.

Count Haugwitz exchanged a rapid glance with Baron Kockeritz, who was
standing in a bay window, and then approached the king, who was pacing
the room with slow steps and a gloomy air.

He nodded to the minister, and silently continued his promenade across
the room for some time after his arrival. He then stepped to his desk,
which was covered with papers and documents, and sitting down on a plain
cane chair in front of it, he invited the gentlemen to take seats by his
side.

“The courier reached you in time, I suppose?” he said, turning to Count
Haugwitz.

“Your majesty, your royal letter reached me while holding a conference
with the ambassadors of Russia and Great Britain, and just when I
was about to inform them of your majesty’s resolution to join the
coalition.”

“You had not done so, then?” asked the king, hastily. “It was your first
conference, then?”

“Yes, your majesty, it was our first conference. I invited the
ambassadors immediately after my return to call on me.”

“It took you, then, two weeks to travel from Minden to Berlin!”

“Yes, your majesty, two weeks.”

“And yet these gentlemen are in favor of an advance of the army!”
 exclaimed the king, vehemently. “Yes, if all of my soldiers were
encamped directly on the frontier of Holland and had their base of
supplies there! But in order to send a sufficient army to Holland, I
should have to withdraw a portion of my soldiers from the provinces of
Silesia and Prussia. They would have to march across Westphalia, across
the same Westphalia where it took you with your carriage two weeks to
travel from Minden to Berlin. And my soldiers have no other carriages
but their feet. They would stick in that dreadful mire by hundreds and
thousands; they would perish there of hunger, and that march would cost
me more men than a great, decisive battle. I had given you my word that
I would join the coalition, Count Haugwitz; I had even authorized you to
negotiate with the ambassadors of Russia and Great Britain, but on the
road to Wesel I was obliged to change my mind. Ask Baron Kockeritz what
we had to suffer on the first day of our journey, and how far we had got
after twelve hours’ travelling.”

“Yes, indeed, it was a terrible trip,” said General von Kockeritz,
heaving a sigh. “In spite of the precautions of the coachman, his
majesty’s carriage was upset five times in a single day, and finally
it stuck so firmly in the mud that we had to send for assistance to the
neighboring villages in order to set it going once more. We were twelve
hours on the road, and made only three German miles during that time.”

“And we had to stop over night in a miserable village, where we scarcely
found a bed to rest our bruised and worn-out limbs,” said the king,
indignantly. “And I should expose my army to such fatigues and
sufferings! I should, heedless of all consideration of humanity, and
solely in obedience to political expediency, suffer them to perish in
those endless marshes, that would destroy the artillery and the horses
of the cavalry. And all that for what purpose? In order to drag Prussia
violently into a war which might be avoided by prudence and by a
sagacious reserve; in order to hasten to the assistance of other powers
not even threatened by France, and only in return to draw upon ourselves
her wrath and enmity!”

“But at the same time the sympathies of all Europe,” said General von
Kockeritz, eagerly. “Your majesty has permitted me to speak my mind at
all times openly and honestly, and I must therefore persist in what I
previously said to you. Now or never is the time for Prussia to give
up her neutrality, and to assume a decided attitude. France has placed
herself in antagonism with all law and order, and with all treaties
consecrated by centuries of faithful observance; she is threatening all
monarchies and dynasties, and is trying to win over the nations to her
republican ideas. And at the head of this French Republic there is a
young general, whose glory is filling the whole world, who has attached
victory to his colors, and who intoxicates the nations by his republican
phrases of liberty and fraternity, so that, in their mad joy, they
overturn thrones, expel their sovereigns, and awake them from their
ecstasy under the republican yoke of France. Your majesty, I believe it
to be the duty of every prince to preserve his people from such errors,
and, jointly with his people, to raise a bulwark against the evil
designs of France. Austria and Russia have already begun this holy
task; their heroic armies have driven back on all sides the hosts of the
overbearing French, who have been compelled to abandon their conquests
in Italy and Switzerland. If your majesty should join England, occupy
Holland, restore that country to its legitimate sovereign, and menace
the northern frontier of France, while Austria is menacing her southern
frontier, the arrogance of the republic would be tamed, the overflowing
torrent would be forced back into its natural bed, and Europe would have
at last peace and tranquillity.”

“First of all, every one ought to think of himself,” said the king,
sharply. “Prussia has hitherto enjoyed peace and tranquillity, and I
believe it to be my principal task to preserve these blessings to my
country. I am no ruler hankering after glory and honors; I do not want
to make any conquests, nor to acquire any new territory, but I will
content myself with the humble renown of having fulfilled my duties as
a ruler to the best of my ability, and according to the dictates of
my conviction, as the father and friend of my people. Hence I have not
dared to identify my name with that of my great ancestor, Frederick
the Second, and call myself Frederick the Third, for a name imposes
obligations, and I know very well that I am no hero and genius, like
Frederick the Great. I assumed, therefore, the name of Frederick
William, as the successor of my peaceable father, Frederick William the
Second. It is true, Frederick William the Second has waged a war against
France, but precisely that war has satisfied me that a war with
France may involve Prussia in the greatest dangers and calamities. I
participated in the campaign of 1792, gentlemen, and I must honestly
confess that I feel little inclination to resume a war which, at best,
will only produce sacrifices for us, and no reward whatever.”

“There is a reward, however, your majesty,” said Count Haugwitz,
solemnly. “It is the preservation of the thrones, and of monarchical
principles. We cannot fail to perceive that the thrones are being
menaced, and those republics of America, France, and Italy are teaching
the nations very dangerous lessons--the lessons of self-government and
popular sovereignty. That insatiable General Bonaparte has attached
these two words to his colors, and if the princes do not combat him with
united strength, and try to take those colors from him, he will soon
carry them into the midst of all nations, who will rapturously hail him,
and desire to follow the example of France.”

“I have no fears for myself,” said the king, calmly; “but even if I
should be so unfortunate as to be obliged to doubt the love and fidelity
of my people, the thought of my personal safety and of the fate of my
dynasty ought not to exert a decisive influence upon my resolutions
concerning the welfare of my country. I told you before, I want to
be the father of my country; a good father always thinks first of the
welfare of his children, and tries to promote it; only when he has
succeeded in doing so he thinks of himself.”

“A good father ought to strive, first of all, to preserve himself to his
children,” exclaimed Count Haugwitz. “An orphan people is as unfortunate
as are orphan children. Your people need you, sire; they need a wise and
gentle hand to direct them.”

“And yet you want to put the sword in my hand, and that I should lead my
people to war and carnage,” said the king.

“In order to make peace bloom forth from war and carnage,” said Count
Haugwitz, gravely. “The bloody monster of war is stalking now through
the whole world, and, as it cannot be avoided, it is better to attack
it, and to confront it in a bold manner. Russia, Austria, and England
are ready to do so, and they stretch out their hands toward you. Refuse
to grasp them, and, for the doubtful and dangerous friendship of France,
you will have gained three powerful enemies.”

“And if I grasp their hands I shall not advance the interests of Prussia
by shedding the blood of my people, but only those of Austria and
Russia,” replied the king. “If France should be greatly weakened, or
even entirely annihilated, serious dangers would arise for Prussia, for
Austria and Russia would unite in that case, for the purpose of menacing
our own security. They would easily and quickly find compensations for
themselves, and Austria especially would profit by the losses of France;
for she would recover the Netherlands, which Prussia is to conquer now
by the blood of her soldiers, and acquire, perhaps, even Bavaria. But
what compensation would fall to the share of Prussia? Or do you believe,
perhaps, Austria, from a feeling of gratitude toward us, would cede
to Prussia a portion of her former hereditary possessions in the
Netherlands? No, no--no war with France! Let Russia and Austria fight
alone; they are strong enough for it. I say all this after mature
deliberation, and this is not only my opinion, but also that of
distinguished and experienced generals. General von Tempelhof, too, is
of my opinion, and confirmed it in a memorial which I asked him to draw
up for me.”

“Your majesty requested the Duke of Brunswick, also, to write a memorial
on the intended coalition against France,” said General von Kockeritz,
hastily. “On our arrival I received this memorial and read it, according
to your majesty’s orders. The duke persists in the opinion that it
is necessary for the honor, glory, and safety of Prussia to join the
coalition, and to oppose France in a determined manner. Your majesty, I
must confess that I share the view maintained by the duke.”

“So do I!” exclaimed Count Haugwitz, “and so do all your subjects. Sire,
your whole people ardently desire to chastise this arrogant France, and
to sweep these hosts of Jacobins from the soil of Germany. Oh, my king
and lord, only make a trial, only raise your voice and call upon the
people to rally around your standards, and to wage war against France!
You will see them rally enthusiastically around the Prussian eagles and
fervently bless their courageous king. And when you begin this struggle,
sire, you and your army will have a formidable, an invincible ally.
That ally is PUBLIC OPINION, sire! Public opinion requires this war, and
public opinion is no longer something dumb and creeping in the dark, but
something that has a voice, and that raises it in ringing, thundering
notes in the newspaper and magazine. One of these voices spoke a few
weeks ago in the Political Journal, as follows: ‘Can our monarch
abandon the German empire? Can he look on quietly while France is making
preparations for attacking Prussia as soon as her turn shall come? It
is only necessary for us to think of Italy, Switzerland, and Holland
in order to appreciate the friendship of France.’ [Footnote: “Political
Journal.” Berlin, 1798.] This voice has re-echoed throughout Prussia,
and everyone is looking up to the throne of your majesty anxiously and
hopefully; every one is satisfied that you will draw the sword for the
honor and rights of Germany. Sire, at this moment I am nothing but the
voice of your people, and therefore I implore your majesty to take
a bold and manful resolution. Draw the sword for Prussia’s honor and
Germany’s safety.”

“I implore your majesty likewise to do so,” exclaimed General von
Kockeritz. “I dare to implore your majesty, in the name of your people.
Oh, sire, take a bold and manly resolution! Draw the sword for Prussia’s
honor and Germany’s safety.”

The king had risen and paced the room with violent steps. His features,
usually so quiet and gentle, were not uneasy and agitated; a gloomy
cloud covered his brow, and a painful expression trembled on his lips.
He seemed to carry on a violent and desperate inward struggle, and his
breath issued painfully and gaspingly from his breast. Finally, after
a long pause, he approached the two gentlemen who had risen and were
looking at him with evident anxiety.

“I am unable to refute all these reasons,” said the king, sighing, “but
an inward voice tells me that I ought not to break my word, and commence
hostilities. If the welfare of the state requires it, however, I shall
join the coalition, but only on condition that the Austrians attack
Mentz in force, take the fortress by assault, and thereby cover the left
flank of my base of operations. [Footnote: The king’s own words.--Vide
“Memoiren zur Geschichte des Preuss. Staats.” By Col. Massenbach. Vol
iii., p. 88.] And now we will close our consultation for to-day. Go,
Count Haugwitz, and resume your negotiations with the ambassadors of
Russia and Great Britain. As for you, General von Kockeritz, I beg you
to bring me the memorial of the Duke of Brunswick, and then you may
return to your house and take some rest, of which you doubtless stand
greatly in need after the fatigues you have undergone.”

He greeted the gentlemen with a hasty nod and turned his back to them,
without paying any attention to the deep and reverential bows with which
the minister and the general withdrew toward the door.

When the two gentlemen had reached the anteroom, they satisfied
themselves by a rapid glance that they were alone, and that nobody was
able to hear them.

“He was quite angry,” whispered General von Kockeritz; “he only yielded
with the utmost reluctance; and, believe me, my friend, the king will
never forgive us this victory we have obtained over him; it may produce
the worst results and endanger our whole position.”

“It is true,” said Count Haugwitz, sighing, “the king dismissed us in a
more abrupt and harsh manner than ever before. It would have been better
for us to yield, and let the king have his own way. Who knows but he is
right, and an alliance with France, perhaps, would be more advantageous
than this coalition with Austria and Russia? It startles me somewhat
that Austria should be so anxious to obtain the accession of Prussia
to the coalition, for Austria certainly would feel no inclination to
propose any alliance that might prove profitable to Prussia. It may be
best for Prussia, after all, to side with France.”

“But public opinion would execrate such an alliance,” said General von
Kockeritz, sighing. “Public opinion--”

“My dear friend,” interrupted Count Haugwitz, angrily, “public opinion
is like the wind, changing its direction every day. Success alone
influences and decides public opinion, and if France should vanquish
the three powers, the same public opinion which now urges us to join
the coalition would condemn us. Public opinion should not induce us to
endanger our position and our power over the king for its sake. And I
tell you, I am uneasy about this matter. The king was greatly irritated;
he seemed angry with us, because he felt that he is not entirely
free and independent, and that he has granted us some power over his
decisions.”

“We should yield even now,” said General von Kockeritz, anxiously. “We
should confess to the king that his reasons have convinced us, that we
have been mistaken--”

“So that he would feel with twofold force that not his own free will,
but our altered opinion, decided his action?” asked the minister. “No,
we must give the king a chance to decide the whole question by his
own untrammelled authority, and to prove that he alone is the ruler of
Prussia’s destinies. You can give him the best opportunity for so doing,
for you have a pretext to return to him at once. Did not the king order
you to bring him the memorial of the Duke of Brunswick?”

“Good Heaven! that is true; the king is waiting for the memorial!”
 exclaimed the general, in terror. “In my anxiety, I even forgot his
orders.”

“Hasten, my friend, to bring it at once to him,” said Count Haugwitz,
“and with your leave I shall take a little rest in the room which the
king has been kind enough to assign to you here in the palace. He will
perhaps countermand the instructions he has just given me.”

A few minutes afterward General von Kockeritz, with the memorial in his
hands, reentered the cabinet of the king, who was still slowly pacing
the room, without noticing the arrival of his adviser.

“Your majesty,” said the general, timidly, “here is the memorial of
Ferdinand, duke of Brunswick.”

“Just lay it on my desk there,” said the king, continuing his promenade.

General von Kockeritz stepped to the desk and placed the memorial on it.
Just at that moment the king had arrived at the desk too, and paused in
front of the general. He fixed a long and mournful glance upon him and
slowly shook his head.

“You have deserted me also,” said the king, sighing. “You may be right,
gentlemen. I have yielded to your more profound sagacity for the time
being, but an inward voice tells me that it is wrong to break the peace
because France at the present time is being threatened on all sides, and
because her armies have been defeated.”

“Your majesty alone has to decide the whole question,” said Kockeritz,
solemnly. “Your conviction is our law, and we submit in dutiful
obedience to your majesty’s more profound sagacity. It is for you to
command, and for us to obey.”

A sudden gleam beamed in the eyes of the king, and a deeper blush
mantled his cheeks. The general saw it, and comprehended it very well.

“Moreover,” he added, with downcast eyes and with an air of confusion,
“moreover, I have to make a confession to your majesty in my own name
and in that of Count Haugwitz. While trying to win your majesty by our
arguments for the war and for the coalition, it has happened to us that
we were converted by the arguments your majesty adduced against the war
and against the coalition, and that your majesty convinced us of the
fallacy of our opinion. It is, perhaps, very humiliating to admit
that our conviction has veered around so suddenly, but your majesty’s
convincing eloquence--”

“No, not my poor eloquence, but the truth has convinced you,” exclaimed
the king, joyfully, “and I thank you for having the truly manly and
noble courage to admit that you were mistaken and have changed your
mind. I am grateful to Count Haugwitz, too, and I shall never forget
this generous and highly honorable confession of yours. It is a new
proof for me that you are faithful and reliable friends and servants of
mine, men who are not ashamed of acknowledging an error, and who care
more for the welfare of the state than for carrying their own point.
I therefore withdraw my previous instructions. I shall not join the
coalition. Hasten to Haugwitz, my friend. Tell him to go forthwith to
the Russian ambassador and inform him that my army will not assist the
forces of the coalition, and that I shall take no part whatever in
the war against France. Haugwitz is to say the same to the English
ambassador, and to inform him that I shall not claim the subsidy of six
million dollars, which England offered to pay me for my auxiliary army.
Six million dollars! I believe General Tempelhof was right when he said
the siege of a second-rate fortress would cost a million dollars, and
in Holland we should have to take more than ten fortresses from the
stubborn and intrepid French. This would cost as more than ten million
dollars, and, moreover, we should have to use up the powder and
ammunition destined for our own defence. Those six million dollars that
England would pay me would not cover our outlay; I should be obliged
to add four million dollars more, and to shed the blood of my brave
and excellent soldiers without obtaining, perhaps, even the slightest
advantage for Prussia. Hasten, general, to communicate my fixed and
irrevocable resolution to Count Haugwitz. Prussia remains neutral, and
takes no part whatever in the war against France!”

“I hasten to carry out your majesty’s orders,” exclaimed General von
Kockeritz, walking toward the door, “and I know that Count Haugwitz will
submit to the royal decision with the same joyful humility and obedience
as myself.”

The king’s eyes followed him with an expression of genuine emotion.

“He is a faithful and honest friend,” he said, “and that is, indeed,
a rare boon for a king. Ah, I have succeeded, then, in averting this
bloody thunder-cloud, once more from Prussia, and I shall preserve the
blessings of peace to my people. And now, I believe, I may claim some
credit for the manner in which I have managed this delicate affair, and
repose a little from the cares of government. I will go to Louisa--her
sight and the smiles of my children will reward me for having done my
duty as a king.”



CHAPTER XXXIII.

THE LEGITIMATE WIFE.


The Prince von Reuss, Henry XIV., Austrian ambassador at Berlin, had
died an hour ago. A painful disease had confined him to his bed for
weeks, and Marianne Meier had nursed him during this time with the
greatest love and devotion. She had never left his bedside, and no one
except herself, the physicians, and a few servants had been permitted
to enter the sick-room. The brothers and nephews of the prince, who
had come to Berlin in order to see their dying relative once more,
had vainly solicited this favor. The physicians had told them that the
suffering prince was unable to bear any excitement, there being great
danger that immediate death would be the consequence of a scene between
them.

The prince, moreover, had sent his trusted valet de chambre to his
brother, and informed him, even if he were entirely well, he would not
accept the visits of a brother who had shown him so little fraternal
love, and caused him so much grief by opposing his faithful and beloved
friend Marianne Meier in the most offensive and insulting manner.

The distinguished relatives of the prince, therefore, had to content
themselves with watching his palace from afar, and with bribing a few of
his servants to transmit to them hourly reports about the condition of
the patient.

And now Prince Henry XIV. was dead, and his brother was his successor
and heir, the prince having left no legitimate offspring. It was
universally believed that he had never been married, and that his
immense fortune, his estates and titles, would devolve on his brother.
It is true there was still that mistress of his, fair Marianne Meier, to
whom the prince, in his sentimental infatuation, had paid the honors
of a legitimate wife. But, of course, she had no claims whatever to the
inheritance; it would be an act of generosity to leave her in possession
of the costly presents the prince had made to her, and to pay her a
small pension.

The prince had hardly closed his eyes, therefore, and the doctors
had just pronounced him dead, when his brother, now Prince Henry XV.,
accompanied by a few lawyers, entered the palace of the deceased in
order to take possession of his property, and to have the necessary
seals applied to the doors. However, to give himself at least a
semblance of brotherly love, the prince desired first to repair to
the death-room, and to take a last leave of the deceased. But in the
anteroom he met the two footmen of his brother, who dared to stop his
passage, telling him that no one was allowed to enter.

“And who dares to issue such orders?” asked the prince, without stopping
a moment.

“Madame has done so,” said the first valet de chambre. “Madame wants to
be alone with the remains of her husband.”

The prince shrugged his shoulders, and, followed by the legal gentlemen,
he walked to the door, which he vainly tried to open.

“I believe that woman has locked the door,” said the prince, angrily.

“Yes, sir, madame has locked the door,” said the valet de chambre;
“she does not want to be disturbed in her grief by mere visits of
condolence.”

“Well, let us leave her, then, to her grief,” exclaimed the prince, with
a sarcastic smile. “Come, gentlemen, let us attend to our business. Let
us take an inventory of the furniture in the several rooms and then seal
them. You may be our guide, valet.”

But the valet de chambre shrugged his shoulders and shook his head.
“Pardon me, sir, that is impossible. His highness, our late prince and
master, several days ago, when he felt that his end was drawing near,
caused every room to be locked and sealed by the first attache of the
legation in the presence of all the members of the embassy. The keys to
all the rooms, however, were handed by order of the prince to madame,
his wife.”

The new prince, Henry XV., turned somewhat uneasily to the legal
gentlemen.

“Have we a right to open the doors forcibly?”

“No, that would be contrary to law,” said one of the lawyers, in a low
voice. “The late prince has doubtless left some directions in relation
to this matter and intrusted them to the officers of the legation. Your
highness ought to apply to those gentlemen.”

“Is the first attache of the legation, Baron Werdern, in the palace?”
 said the prince to the valet de chambre.

“No, your highness, he has just gone out with a few other gentlemen of
the legation to request the attendance of two officers of the law, that
the will may be opened and read in their presence.”

“My brother has made a will, then?” asked the prince, in a somewhat
frightened tone.

“Yes, your highness, and he laid it, in the presence of every member of
the legation, of two officers of the law, and of every servant, three
days ago, in a strong box, the key of which he handed to the officers of
the law, when the box was deposited in the archives of the legation.”

“And why did Baron Werdern go now for the officers of the law?”

“In order to request their attendance in the palace, the late prince
having left the verbal order that his will should be opened two hours
after his death. The baron was going to invite your highness likewise to
be present.”

“Well, let us wait here for the arrival of the gentlemen,” said Prince
Henry XV., shrugging his shoulders. “It seems a little strange to me,
however, that I must wait here in the anteroom like a supplicant. Go and
announce my visit to madame!”

The valet de chambre bowed and left the room. The prince called the two
lawyers to his side. “What do you think of this whole matter?” he asked,
in a low voice.

The two representatives of the law shrugged their shoulders.

“Your highness, every thing seems to have been done here legally. We
must wait for the return of the gentlemen and for the opening of the
will.”

The valet de chambre now reentered the room, and approached the prince.
“Madame sends her respects to the prince, and begs him to excuse her
inability to admit her brother-in-law just now, as she is dressing
at the present moment. She will have the honor to salute her gracious
brother-in-law at the ceremony.”

“Does that woman call myself her gracious brother-in-law?” asked the
prince, with an air of the most profound contempt, turning his back to
the valet de chambre. “We will wait here, then, gentlemen,” he added,
turning to the lawyers. “It seems that woman intends to take a petty
revenge at this moment for the contempt with which I have always treated
her. I shall know, however, how to chastise her for it, and--”

“Hush, your highness,” whispered one of the lawyers, “they are coming!”

In fact, the large folding-doors were opened at that moment, and on a
catafalque, hung with black cloth, the remains of the prince were lying
in state; on both sides of the catafalque large tapers were burning in
heavy silver chandeliers.

Prince Henry, awed by this solemn scene, walked forward, and the grave
countenance of his brother, with whom he had lived so long in discord,
and whom he had not seen for many years, filled his heart with
uneasiness and dismay.

He approached the room, followed by the legal gentlemen, with
hesitating, noiseless steps. On the threshold of the door there now
appeared the first attache of the legation, Baron Werdern, who, bowing
deeply, invited the prince whisperingly to come in.

The prince walked in, and on crossing the threshold, it seemed to him as
if his brother’s corpse had moved, and as if his half-opened eyes were
fixed upon him with a threatening expression.

The prince averted his eyes from the corpse in dismay and saluted the
gentlemen standing around a table covered with black cloth. Two large
chandeliers, with burning tapers, a strong box, and writing-materials,
had been placed upon this table; on one side, two arm-chairs, likewise
covered with black cloth, were to be seen.

The baron conducted the prince to one of these arm-chairs, and invited
him to sit down. Prince Henry did so, and then looked anxiously at
the officers of the law, who were standing at the table in their black
robes, and behind whom were assembled all the members of the legation,
the physicians, and the servants of the late prince.

A long pause ensued. Then, all at once, the folding-doors opened, and
the prince’s steward appeared on the threshold.

“Her highness the Princess Dowager von Reuss,” he said, in a loud,
solemn voice, and Marianne’s tall, imposing form entered the room. She
was clad in a black dress with a long train; a black veil, fastened
above her head on a diadem, surrounded her noble figure like a dark
cloud, and in this cloud beamed her expansive, thoughtful forehead, and
her large flaming eyes sparkled. Her features were breathing the
most profound and majestic tranquillity; and when she now saluted the
gentlemen with a condescending nod, her whole bearing was so impressive
and distinguished that even Prince Henry was unable to remain
indifferent, and he rose respectfully from his arm-chair.

Marianne, however, paid no attention to him, but approached the remains
of her husband. With inimitable grace she knelt down on one side of the
catafalque. The priest who had entered with her knelt down on the other.

Both of them muttered fervent prayers for the deceased. Marianne then
arose, and, bending over the corpse, imprinted a long kiss upon the
forehead of her departed husband.

“Farewell, my husband!” she said, in her full, melodious voice, and then
turned around and stepped toward the table. “Without deigning to glance
at the prince, she sat down in the arm-chair.”

“I request the officers of the law now to open the strong box,” she
said, in an almost imperious voice.

One of the officers handed the key to Baron Werdern; the latter opened
the strong box, and took from it a sealed paper, which he gave to the
officer.

“Do you recognize the paper as the same yourself locked in this strong
box?” she asked. “Is it the same which his highness the late Prince von
Reuss, Henry XIV., handed to you?”

“Yes, it is the same,” said the two officers; “it is the will of the
late prince.”

“And you know that his highness ordered us to open it immediately after
his death, and to promulgate its contents. Proceed, therefore, according
to the instructions of the deceased.”

One of the officers broke the seal, and now that he unfolded the paper,
Marianne turned her head toward the prince, and fixed her burning eyes
piercingly upon his countenance.

The officer commenced reading the will. First came the preamble, to be
found in every will, and then the officer read in a louder voice, as
follows:

“In preparing to appear before the throne of the Lord, I feel especially
called upon to return my most heart-felt thanks, in this public manner,
to my wife, Princess Marianne, nee Meier, for the constancy, love, and
devotion which she has shown to me during our whole married life, and
for the surpassing patience and self-abnegation with which she nursed me
during my last sickness. I deem myself especially obliged to make
this acknowledgment, inasmuch as my wife, in her true love for me, has
suffered many undeserved aspersions and insults, because, in accordance
with my wishes, she kept our marriage secret, and in consequence had to
bear the sneers of evil-disposed persons, and the insults of malicious
enemies. But she is my lawful wife before God and man, and she is fully
entitled to assume the name of a Princess Dowager von Reuss. I hereby
expressly authorize her to do so, and, by removing the secret that has
been observed during my life in relation to our marriage, I authorize
my wife to assume the title and rank due to her, and hereby command my
brother, as well as his sons and the other members of my family, to pay
to the Princess Dowager von Reuss, nee Meier, the respect and deference
due to her as the widow of the late head of the family, and to which
she is justly entitled by her virtue, her blameless conduct, her
respectability, beauty, and amiability. The Princess Dowager von Reuss
is further authorized to let her servants wear the livery and color of
my house, to display the coat-of-arms of the princes von Reuss on her
carriages, and to enjoy the full privileges of her rank. If my brother
Henry, the heir of my titles, should have any doubts as to her rights in
this regard, the officer reading my will is requested to ask him
whether or not he desires to obtain further evidence in relation to the
legitimacy of my marriage.”

“Does your highness require any further evidence?” asked the officer,
interrupting the reading of the will.

“I do,” said the prince, who had listened to the reading of the will
with a pale and gloomy mien.

“Here is that evidence,” said the priest, beckoning the sexton, who
stood on the threshold of the door. The latter approached the priest,
and handed him a large volume bound in black morocco.

“It is the church register, in which I have entered all the marriages,
christenings, and funeral masses performed in the chapel of the Austrian
embassy,” said the priest. “On this page you find the minutes of the
marriage of the Prince von Reuss, Henry XIV., and Miss Marianne Meier.
The ceremony took place two years ago. I have baptized the princess
myself, and thereby received her into the pale of the holy Catholic
Church, and I have likewise performed the rite of marriage on the
occasion referred to. I hereby certify that the princess is the lawful
wife of the late prince, as is testified by the minutes entered on the
church register. The marriage was performed in the chapel, and in the
presence of witnesses, who have signed the minutes, like myself.”

“I witnessed the marriage,” said Baron Werdern, “and so did the military
counsellor Gentz, who, if your highness should desire further testimony,
will be ready to corroborate our statements.”

“No,” said the prince, gloomily, “I require no further testimony. I am
fully satisfied of the truth of your statements, and will now pay
my respects to my sister-in-law, the Princess Dowager von Reuss, nee
Meier.”

He bowed, with a sarcastic smile, which, for a moment, caused the blood
to rush to Marianne’s pale cheeks, and then carelessly leaned back into
his arm-chair.

“Be kind enough to proceed,” he said, turning to the officer. The latter
took up the will again and read its several sections and clauses.
The prince bequeathed his palace, with every thing in it, to his
wife Marianne, and likewise his carriages, his horses, and the family
diamonds he had inherited from his mother. The remainder of his
considerable property he left to his brother, asking him to agree with
the Princess Marianne on a pension corresponding with her rank and
position in society. Then followed some legacies and pensions for the
old servants of his household, a few gifts to the poor, and last
the appropriation of a sum for which a mass was to be read on every
anniversary of his death, for the peace of his soul. The ceremony was
over. The officers of the law and the members of the embassy had left
the death-room, and on a sign from Marianne the servants had also
withdrawn.

The prince had exchanged a few words in a low voice with his two
lawyers, whereupon they likewise had left the room. No one except the
brother and the wife of the deceased remained now in this gloomy room,
illuminated by the flickering tapers. Marianne, however, seemed to take
no notice of the presence of her brother-in-law; she had approached the
corpse again, and gazed at it with the most profound emotion.

“I thank you, Henry,” she said, loudly and solemnly. “I thank you from
the bottom of my heart; you have given back to me my honor; you have
revenged me upon your haughty relatives, and upon the sneering world.”

“Do not thank him, respected sister-in-law, for he has left you poor,”
 said the prince, approaching her, and contemplating her with a freezing
smile. “My brother has made you a princess, it is true, but he has not
given you the means to live as a princess. He has bequeathed to you
this palace, with its costly furniture; he has bequeathed to you his
carriages and diamonds; but a palace and furniture are no estates, and
in order to keep carriages one has to feed men and horses. It is true,
you can sell the palace and the diamonds, and obtain for them several
hundred thousand florins. That sum would be amply sufficient for a
person leading a retired life, but it is very little for one who desires
to keep up a princely household, and to live in the style becoming a
lady of your beauty and social position. My brother has foreseen all
this, and he indirectly gave us a chance to come to an understanding,
by asking me to agree with you on a pension to be paid you. Hence I ask
you, how much do you demand? How high will be the sum for which you
will sell me your mourning veil, your name, and your title of princess
dowager? For you doubtless anticipate, madame, that I do not propose to
acknowledge you publicly as my sister-in-law, and to receive a--Marianne
Meier among the members of my family. Tell me your price, therefore,
madame.”

Marianne looked at him with flaming eyes, a deep blush of anger mantling
her cheeks. “Prince von Reuss,” she said, proudly, “you will have to
permit the world to call me your sister-in-law. I am your sister-in-law,
and I shall prove to the world and to you that it is unnecessary to have
been born under a princely canopy in order to live, think, and act
like a princess. My husband has rewarded me in this hour for years of
suffering and humiliation. Do you believe that my reward is for sale for
vile money? And if you should offer me millions, I should reject them
if, in return, I were to lead a nameless, disreputable, and obscure
existence. I will sooner die of starvation as a Princess Dowager von
Reuss than live in opulence as Marianne Meier. This is my last word; and
now, sir, begone! Do not desecrate this room by your cold and egotistic
thoughts, and by your heartless calculations! Honor the repose of the
dead and the grief of the living. Begone!”

She proudly turned away from him, and bent once more over the corpse.
While she was doing so her black veil, with a gentle rustle, fell down
over her face and wrapped her, as well as the corpse, as in a dark mist,
so that the two forms seemed to melt into one.

The prince felt a shudder pervading his frame, and the presence of the
corpse embarrassed him.

“I will not disturb you now in your grief, madame,” he said; “I hope
your tears will flow less copiously as soon as the funeral is over, and
I shall then send my lawyer, for the purpose of treating further with
you.”

He bowed, and hastened to the door. She seemed neither to have heard
his words, nor to have noticed that he was withdrawing. She was still
bending over the remains of her husband, the black cloud surrounding her
and the corpse.



CHAPTER XXXIV.

THE EIGHTEENTH OF BRUMAIRE.


“News from France!” exclaimed Counsellor Gentz, entering Marianne’s
boudoir in breathless haste. “Do you already know what has occurred? Did
you hear, Marianne, how France has closed the eighteenth century?”

Marianne looked up into the face of her friend, with a gentle and
peculiar smile. “That must have been exciting intelligence,” she said.
“inasmuch as it was even able to arouse the dreamer, Frederick Gentz,
from his political sleep, and to cause him to take interest again in the
affairs of the world. Well, let us hear the news; what has occurred in
France?”

“General Bonaparte has overthrown the Directory, and dispersed the
Council of Five Hundred.”

“And you call that news?” asked Marianne, shrugging her shoulders. “You
tell me there the history of the ninth and tenth of November, or, as the
French republicans say, of the eighteenth and nineteenth of Brumaire.
And you believe that I have not yet heard of it to-day, on the
twenty-sixth of December? My friend Gentz, Bonaparte’s deeds need not
more than a month in order to penetrate through the world; they soar
aloft with eagle-wings, and the whole world beholds them, because they
darken the horizon of the whole world.”

“But you have only heard the preamble of my news,” ejaculated Gentz,
impatiently. “I have no doubt that you know the history of the
eighteenth of Brumaire, and that you are aware that France, on that day,
placed herself under the rule of three consuls, one of whom was General
Bonaparte.”

“The other two consuls are Sieyes and Dacos,” interrupted Marianne. “I
know that, and I know, too, that Lucien, Bonaparte’s brother, president
of the Legislative Assembly, upon receiving the oath of office of the
three consuls, said to them. ‘The greatest nation on earth intrusts
you with its destinies; the welfare of thirty millions of men, the
preservation of order at home, and the reestablishment of peace abroad,
are your task. Three months from to-day public opinion will expect to
hear from you how you have accomplished it.’” [Footnote: “Histoire du
Consulat et de l’Empire,” par A. Theirs, vol. i., p. 16.]

“Well, M. Bonaparte did not make public opinion wait so long,” said
Gentz; “or rather, he asserts public opinion had not given him time to
wait so long, and that it was public opinion itself that called upon him
to proclaim himself sovereign of France.”

“Sovereign of France?” asked Marianne, in surprise. “Bonaparte has made
himself king?”

“Yes, king, but under another name; he has caused himself to be elected
consul for ten years! Ah, he will know how to shorten these ten years,
just as he knew how to shorten those three months!”

“And this report is reliable?” asked Marianne, musingly.

“Perfectly so. Bonaparte was elected first consul on the twenty-fifth
of December, and on the same day the new constitution was promulgated
throughout France. That is a very fine Christmas present which France
has made to the world! A box filled with dragon’s teeth, from which
armed hosts will spring up. It is true the first consul now pretends
to be very anxious to restore peace to Europe. He has sent special
ambassadors to all courts, with profuse assurances of his friendship and
pacific intentions, and he sent them off even previous to his election,
in order to announce the news of the latter to the foreign courts on
the same day on which he was proclaimed first consul at Paris. Such a
peace-messenger of the general has arrived at Berlin; he has brought us
the strange and startling news.”

“What is the name of this peace-messenger of the modern god of war?”
 asked Marianne.

“He sent his adjutant, General Duroc; the latter reached Berlin
yesterday, and appeared even to-day as the petted guest of our court,
at the great soiree of the queen. Oh, my friend, my stupid German heart
trembled with anger when I saw the kind and flattering attentions that
were paid to this Frenchman, while German gentlemen of genius, merit,
and ability were kept in the background, neither the king nor the
queen seeming to take any notice of their presence! There were Count
Hardenberg and the noble President of Westphalia, Baron Stein; they
stood neglected in a bay window, and looked sadly at the royal couple,
who treated the Frenchman in the midst of the court in the most
distinguished manner; there were Blucher and Gneisenau, overlooked by
everybody, although their uniforms were no less brilliant than that of
the French envoy; and there was finally Frederick Gentz, myself, who
had only appeared at this court festival owing to the special desire
and order of the queen, and whose presence she had entirely forgotten,
although Gualtieri reminded her of it at least three times, and told
her that I was there, and had only come because the queen had expressly
ordered it so. But what did her beautiful majesty care that a German
writer was vainly waiting for a smile of her affability, and a gracious
nod of her lovely head? The French envoy was by far more important than
all of us. For the sake of the Frenchman, even ‘Madame Etiquette,’ the
Countess von Voss, mistress of ceremonies, had been silenced, and the
plain adjutant of the first consul was received with as much distinction
as if he were a minister plenipotentiary, while he only came as the
simple agent for a private individual. They asked him to tell them
about the battle of the Pyramids, about the battles of Mount Tabor and
Aboukir, and the whole court listened to him with a suspense as though
Bonaparte’s adjutant were preaching a new gospel. Whenever he paused
in his narrative, the queen, with her fascinating smile, constantly
addressed new questions to him, and praised the achievements of General
Bonaparte as though he were the Messiah sent into the world to deliver
it from the evils of war! In short, he had a perfect success; and
at last, by means of an adroit trick, he managed to render it as
magnificent as possible. The queen told General Duroc of our German
customs, and informed him that this was the day on which the Germans
everywhere made presents to each other, and that gifts were laid under
Christmas-trees, adorned with burning tapers. At that moment Duroc
turned to the king, and said, with his intolerable French amiability:
‘Sire, if this is the day of universal presents in Germany, I believe
I will be courageous enough to-day to ask your majesty for a present in
the name of the first consul, General Bonaparte, if your majesty
will permit me to do so.’ The king, of course, gave him the desired
permission, and Duroc continued: ‘Sire, the present for which I am to
ask your majesty, in the name of the first consul, is a bust of your
great ancestor, Frederick the Second. The first consul recently examined
the statues in the Diana Gallery at the Tuileries; there were the
statues of Caesar and Brutus, of Coriolanus and Cicero, of Louis XIV.
and Charles V., but the first consul did not see the statue of Frederick
the Great, and he deems the collection of the heroes of ancient and
modern times incomplete as long as it does not embrace the name of
Frederick the Great. Sire, I take the liberty, therefore, to ask you,
in the name of France, for a bust of Frederick the Great!’” [Footnote:
Historical.]

“Very adroit, indeed,” said Marianne, smiling; “these republicans seem
to be excellent courtiers.”

“Yes, very adroit!” exclaimed Gentz; “the whole court was in ecstasy at
this tremendous flattery, at this compliment paid by the great republic
to little Prussia; but I could not stand it any longer in those halls,
and in the presence of these fawning Germans, and I hastened away in
order to unbosom to you my rage, my indignation, and my grief. Oh, my
fair friend, what is to become of Germany, and what will be the end of
all these troubles? Ruin is staring us in the face, and we do not see
it; we are rushing toward the precipice, and must fall a prey to France,
to this wolf in sheep’s clothing, which will caress and pet us until it
will be able to devour us!”

“I like to hear you talk in this strain,” said Marianne, joyfully. “That
is again the friend of my heart, who is now talking to me. Listen to me.
I have to communicate news to you, too, and you must not be surprised if
I reply to your important political intelligence by a reference to my
petty personal interests. But there is a connection between them, and
you will see it by and by. Listen, then, to the news concerning myself.”

“Yes, Marianne,” said Gentz, kneeling down before her, and leaning his
head upon her knees, “yes, tell me about yourself, my beautiful fairy
queen; lull my political pains a little by the magic song which is
flowing from your red lips like a fresh source of love. Oh, my charming
princess, now that I am looking up into your radiant face, I feel a
burning shame that I should have desecrated the delightful moments
I passed by your side by such trivial complaints about the misery of
German politics. What have we to do with politics? What do we care if
Germany is going to be ruined? Apres nous le deluge! Let us enjoy the
bliss of the fleeting hour!”

Marianne played smilingly with her slender fingers, covered with
sparkling diamond rings, in his hair, and looked upon him with a
wondrous air.

“Enthusiast!” she said; “now an ardent politician, then an impassioned
lover, and ready at all hours to exchange one role for the other! Will
you not listen to my news? My quarrel with my dear brother-in-law, Henry
XV., is ended; we have come to an agreement.”

“And I hope my sagacious and prudent Marianne has subdued her proud
and bold heart this time, and had a little regard for her advantage,”
 replied Gentz. “A woman as beautiful and radiant as Marianne Meier needs
no empty aristocratic title, for your beauty makes you the queen of the
world; but you need wealth in order to add power to your beauty, and to
adorn it with a cloak glittering with gold and purple. Well, my queen,
are you again Marianne Meier and a millionaire besides?”

“What a fool!” she exclaimed, proudly, “what a fool you are to believe I
would crawl back into the Jews’ quarter and expose myself to the sneers
of my enviable friends! No, my friend, money and beauty are insufficient
for those who desire to play a role in the world; they stand in need of
rank and titles, too, for these are the magic words opening to us the
doors of royal palaces, and placing us on a par with the privileged and
inacessible. I, for one, want to play my role in the world; hence I must
have a distinguished title. It is true I also stand in need of wealth,
and by means of a skilful arrangement I have secured both. The mote in
my Jewish eye appearing to my aristocratic relatives like a very large
beam, I have yielded and renounced the title of a Princess von Reuss;
but, in spite of that, I remain a princess and retain the title of
highness. The prince, my brother-in-law, has given me a splendid estate
in fee-simple, the annual revenues of which amount to no less than
twenty thousand dollars; in return, however, I surrender to him the
family diamonds, this palace, the carriages with the coat-of-arms of the
Reuss family, the horses and liveries, and last, the name and title of a
Princess Dowager von Reuss.”

“And now, like all the fairies in the children’s books, you are a
wondrous child without name and rank, but showering with your snowy
hands golden suns and glittering stars upon mankind?”

“No, I am no nameless woman now, but I adopt the name of my estate of
Eibenberg, and from this day forward I shall be the Princess Marianne
of Eibenberg, the Emperor of Germany himself having recognized my new
title. The documents, signed by the emperor himself, are on the table
there. The prince brought them to me to-day as a Christmas-present. Now,
my friend, my real life is to commence; I have acquired wealth and a
distinguished name. The poor Jewess, the daughter of the Ghetto, has
moved into the palace of the aristocracy and become a princess.”

“And I will be the first to do you homage as though you were my princess
and queen!” exclaimed Gentz, “the first who will call himself your
vassal. Come, my princess, let me place the sweet yoke upon my neck; let
my forehead touch the ground on which you are walking; place your foot
upon my neck, so that I may feel the sweet burden of your rule.”

And bending down his head until his brow touched the floor, he placed
her tiny foot, encased in a beautiful silken shoe, upon his neck.
Marianne did not interfere with him, but looked down on him with a
proud, triumphant smile.

“You lie at my feet, Frederick Gentz,” she said, “nevertheless I will
lift you up to me; you shall stand by my side, my equal, famous and
great as you ought to be, owing to your genius! But a truce to tender
trifling, my friend; both of us have to accomplish great purposes, and
our thoughts and actions should be grave and stern. Come, rise from your
knees, my vassal; you shall be a prince by my side, and we will rule the
world together.”

She withdrew her foot from his neck, but Gentz seized it with both hands
and kissed it. He then quickly rose from his knees, and drew himself up
to his full height, looking at her sternly and almost angrily.

“You have often told me that you loved me,” he said, “but it was a
lie; you do not understand love, your heart is cold and your senses are
silent, only your pride speaks.”

“It is possible that you are right,” she replied, “but, in that case, I
love you with my pride and with my mind, and that is worth something, at
all events. I want to see you honored, famous, and influential; is not
that also love?”

“No, it is a mockery!” ejaculated Gentz, mournfully. “It is malice, for
you see I am a poor, despised man, without money, without fame, without
rank; a miserable military counsellor, outranked by every private
counsellor, and persecuted day by day by my creditors, as if they were
vultures following a poor dove whose wings have been clipped.”

“But your wings shall grow again, so that you may escape from the
vultures!” exclaimed Marianne, “and that you may soar, eagle-like, above
the miseries of the world, and exercise a commanding influence over it.
The time of dreams and expectations is over, the time for action has
come for all energetic and able minds. Two years ago I asked you, as I
do to-day, if you would not devote your services to Austria, and if you
would not seek for fame and happiness in that country, in which your
genius would be appreciated and rewarded. Do you remember what you
replied to me at that time?”

“Yes, I remember,” said Gentz, with a sarcastic smile; “I was foolish
enough to reject your offers, and to declare that I would stay here at
Berlin, and see if my native country would not need my abilities and
my services, and if our rulers here would not avail themselves of my
talents and of my pen. And thus I have lost, again, two years of my
life, and only my debts have increased, but not my fame.”

“Because you were an enthusiast, and expected to be appreciated in
Prussia; believing this good king (who would like to make his people
happy and prosperous, but who timidly shrinks back from all energetic
resolutions) would be very grateful to you for exhorting him to grant
freedom of the press to his subjects, and, in general, to introduce
liberty and equality in his states. Do you still believe that Frederick
William the Third will do so?”

“No, he will not,” replied Gentz, mournfully; “no, this king does not
understand the present age, and instead of being a step in advance of
it, he will always remain a step behind it, and thus involve Prussia in
untold misery and suffering. I have hoped and waited long enough; the
time of patience and idleness is now over, and I therefore renounce,
to-day, at the end of the eighteenth century, my native state, in order
to become a citizen and son of a larger fatherland. I cease to be a
Prussian, in order to become a German; and Prussia having no desire to
avail herself of my abilites, I am going to see whether or not Germany
has any use for them. My beautiful Marianne, you shall be the priestess
who receives the oath which I make on the altar of the fatherland: ‘I
swear to devote all my powers and talents to Germany; I swear to be a
faithful and untiring son to my great fatherland!’”

“I have heard your oath, Frederick Gentz, and I accept it in the name
of Germany,” said Marianne, solemnly. “You shall be the champion of
the honor and rights of Germany; your weapon, however, shall not be the
sword, but the pen.”

“But where will the lists be opened to my tournament?” asked Gentz,
musingly.

“In Austria,” replied Marianne, quickly; “the Emperor of Germany is
expecting you, the son of Germany; the Emperor of Germany is calling you
to serve and promote the interests of your fatherland. I am authorized
to tell you that. The new Austrian envoy, Count Stadion, has requested
me to do so; he has asked me to win you for Austria, that is, for
Germany. For, believe me, the welfare of Germany is nowadays consulted
in Austria, and not in Prussia!”

“No, not in Prussia!” exclaimed Gentz, mournfully. “Our government shuts
its eyes in order not to behold the terrors which are rushing toward
us with irresistible force, and will soon, like an avalanche, roll over
Germany and annihilate us all, unless we skilfully calculate the danger,
and raise sufficient bulwarks against it. They admire Bonaparte here,
and only behold a hero, while I scent a tyrant--a tyrant who wants to
subjugate us by his revolutionary liberty and his Jacobin’s cap, which
is but a crown in another shape. I hate Bonaparte, for I hate the
revolution which, notwithstanding its phrases of liberty and equality,
is but a bloody despotism that does not even grant freedom of opinion
to the citizen, and drags such ideas as are distasteful to it upon the
scaffold. I hate the revolution, I hate Bonaparte, and I hate every form
of tyranny, and shall oppose it as long as I live!”

“And I shall be a faithful squire by your side, and sharpen the bolts
which you are going to hurl at the enemy,” said Marianne, with fervent
enthusiasm. “We are both going to Vienna, in order to serve Germany.
In Vienna a new century and a new country will open their arms to us.
Thanks to my title, to my rank, and to my connections, every door
will be open to us there, and the Jewess, Marianne Meier, princess of
Eibenberg, will not even find the apartments of the emperor and empress
closed; on the contrary, their imperial majesties will receive me as
an honored and welcome guest, for I am a princess by the act of the
emperor, and the friend of the empress; Victoria de Poutet Colloredo is
also my friend. And whithersoever I go, you shall go, too, my friend,
and the doors that will open to me shall not be closed to you. My rank
opens them to me, and your genius opens them to you. Come, let us
be faithful allies; let us swear to support each other firmly and
immovably, and to walk together step by step.”

“Oh, my noble and generous friend,” exclaimed Gentz, sadly, “how
delicately you try to veil your protection! In such an alliance, I am
unable to offer you any compensation, for I should find all doors closed
if you should not open them to me. I have neither rank, money, nor
friends at court!”

“Well, let me protect you now, and at some later period you will protect
me,” said Marianne. “Let us swear to pursue our path together.”

“I swear it by all that is sacred to me!” exclaimed Gentz. “I swear that
I will remain faithful to you and to Germany for my whole life. I swear
that I will follow you everywhere; that I will serve you wherever and
whenever I can, and to love you to my last breath.”

“The alliance is closed,” said Marianne, solemnly, “Henceforth, we will
fight jointly, and pursue our goal together. It is our own greatness,
and the greatness of Germany. The country is in danger--let us see if we
cannot contribute something to its preservation, and if it does not need
our hands and our heads in order to weather the storm. If we should be
able, while assisting the country, to pick up a few laurels, titles,
decorations, and treasures for ourselves, we would be fools not to avail
ourselves of the opportunity.”

“Yes, you are right,” said Gentz, smiling, “we would be fools not to do
so; and you are right, too, as to the perils of the country. Germany is
in danger. The new century will dawn upon her with a bloody morning sun,
and it will arouse us from our sleep by a terrific cannonade. But as for
ourselves, we will not wait until the roar of the strife awakens us;
we will be up and doing now and work on the lightning-rod with which
we will meet the approaching thunderstorm, in order that its bolts may
glance off harmlessly and not destroy Germany. I will be an untiring
warrior in the great struggle against the revolution, and my pen, which
is my sword, shall never be idle in the strife. From this hour I cease
to be the insignificant Prussian counsellor, Frederick Gentz; from this
hour I will strive to become the great political writer of Germany. May
the genius of Germany be with me in my endeavors!”

“Amen!” said Marianne, fervently. “May the genius of Germany bless us
and the new century. Amen!”



THE PEACE OF LUNEVILLE


CHAPTER XXXV.

JOHANNES MULLER.


The minister, Baron Thugut, was pacing his cabinet in an excited manner.
His face, usually so cold and immovable, was painfully agitated to-day;
his shaggy white eyebrows were closely contracted, and his eyes were
casting angry glances on the dispatch which he had just thrown on his
desk, and which a courier from General Melas, in Lombardy, had brought
to him a few minutes ago.

“Another battle lost!” he muttered; “another laurel-wreath placed on the
defiant head of General Bonaparte! This man will make me mad yet by his
impudent good luck. It is dreadful only to think that he was already
defeated at Marengo [Footnote: The battle of Marengo was fought on
the 14th of June, 1800.]--so surely defeated that General Melas issued
orders for the pursuit of the enemy, and rode to Alessandria to take his
supper in the most comfortable manner. That fellow Melas is a jackass,
who only scented the roast meat which he was going to have for supper,
but not General Desaix, who arrived with his troops in time to snatch
victory from our grasp, and to inflict a most terrible defeat upon our
triumphant army. All of our generals are short-sighted fools, from that
ridiculously-over-rated Archduke Charles down to General Schwarzenberg,
and whatever the names of these gentlemen may be--these gentlemen with
the golden epaulets, and decorated breasts, and empty heads--I have no
confidence in a single one of them. At the moment of danger as well
as of victory they regularly lose their senses, and thereby turn our
victories into defeats; while they render our checks in the same way
only more disastrous and decisive. I am entirely opposed to placing any
more archdukes at the head of our armies. Fortunately, I have succeeded
in getting rid of Archduke Charles, and I hope that Archduke John, too,
will be badly beaten at no distant period, so that we may remove him,
like his brother, from his position at the head of his troops. It will
never do. Well--” he interrupted himself in his soliloquy, casting an
angry glance on his private secretary, Hudlitz, who was just entering
the room--“well, why do you disturb me without being called for?”

“Pardon me, your excellency,” said Hudlitz, humbly, “but your excellency
had instructed me to inform you immediately of the arrival of the
custodian of the imperial library, whom your excellency had sent for.”

“And he is there now?” asked Thugut.

“Yes, your excellency, Mr. Muller, the aulic councillor and custodian of
the imperial library is waiting in the anteroom.”

“Admit him, then,” said Thugut, waving his hand toward the door.

Hudlitz limped out, and a few minutes later the announced visitor
appeared on the threshold of the door. He was a little, slender man,
with a stooping form, which had not been bent, however, by the burden
of years, but by the burden of learning, of night-watches and untiring
studies. His head, covered with a pig-tail wig, according to the fashion
of that period, was slightly bent forward. His expansive forehead was
indicative of the philosophical turn of his mind; his large eyes were
beaming with deep feeling; his pleasing, yet not handsome features,
were expressive to an almost touching degree, of infinite gentleness
and benevolence, and a winning smile was playing constantly on his thin
lips.

This smile, however, disappeared now that he felt the small, piercing
eyes of the minister resting upon his countenance. Hat in hand, and
without uttering a word, he remained standing at the door; he only
raised his head a little, and his eyes were fixed on the minister with a
calm and proud expression.

“You are the aulic councillor, Johannes Muller?” asked Thugut, after a
short pause, in a somewhat harsh voice.

“Yes, I am Johannes Muller,” said the latter, and the smile had already
returned to his lips. “I thank your excellency for this salutary
question.”

“What do you mean by that, sir?” asked Thugut, wonderingly. “Why do you
call my question salutary?”

“Because it involves a good lesson, your excellency, and because
it informs me that they are wrong who, from motives of mistaken
benevolence, would persuade me that I was a well-known person, and that
everybody in Vienna was familiar with my name. It is always wholesome
for an author to be reminded from time to time of his insignificance and
littleness, for it preserves him from giving way to pride, and pride is
always the first symptom of mental retrogradation.”

Thugut fixed his eyes with a sullen air on the countenance of the
savant. “Do you want to give me a lesson?” he asked, angrily.

“By no means, your excellency,” said Johannes Muller, calmly; “I
only wished to mention the reason why I was grateful to you for
your question. And now I trust your excellency will permit me the
question--to what am I indebted for the honor of being called to your
excellency?”

“Well, I wished to make your acquaintance, Mr. Aulic Councillor,” said
Thugut. “I wished no longer to remain the only inhabitant of Vienna who
had not seen the illustrious historian of Switzerland and the author of
the ‘Furstenbund.’ [Footnote: “The League of the Princes,” one of the
celebrated works of Johannes von Muller.] You see, sir, I know your
works at least, even though I did not know your person.”

“And your excellency did not lose any thing by not knowing the latter,
for it is a person that is not worth the trouble to become acquainted
with. We men of learning are less able to speak with our tongues than
with our pens, and our desk alone is our rostrum.”

“And there you are a powerful and most impressive orator, Mr. Aulic
Councillor!” exclaimed Thugut, in a tone of unaffected and cordial
praise.

An air of joyful surprise overspread the gentle face of Johannes Muller,
and he cast a glance of heart-felt gratitude on the minister.

Thugut noticed this glance. “You are surprised that I am able to
appreciate your merits so correctly and yet suffered years to elapse
without inviting you to call on me? I am a poor man, overburdened with
business and harassed with the dry details of my administration, and
the direction of political affairs leaves me no leisure to be devoted to
literature.”

“At least not to German literature,” said Muller, quickly; “but every
one knows your excellency to be a profound connoisseur of oriental
languages; and it is well known, too, that you devote a great deal
of attention to them, notwithstanding the immense burden of business
constantly weighing you down.”

Thugut smiled, and his harsh features assumed a milder expression.
Johannes Muller, without intending it perhaps, had touched the chord
that sounded most sweetly to Thugut’s ears; he had flattered him by
referring to his profound oriental studies.

“Well,” he said, “you see I am taking likewise a lively interest in
German literature, for I invited you to come and see me; and you are a
German author, and one of the most illustrious at that. Now, sir, let us
speak frankly and without circumlocution, as two men of science ought to
do. Let us mutually forget our titles and official positions, and chat
confidentially with each other. Come, my dear sir, let us sit down
in these two arm-chairs and talk like two German gentlemen; that is,
frankly and sincerely. Nobody is here to hear us, and I give you my word
of honor nobody shall learn a word of what we are going to say to each
other. Perfect irresponsibility and impunity for every thing that will
be spoken during this interview. Are you content with this, and will you
promise me to open your mind freely to me?”

“I promise it, your excellency, and shall reply truthfully and
fearlessly to whatever questions you may address to me, provided I am
able to tell you the truth.”

“Yes, sir,” replied Thugut, shrugging his shoulders. “Every thing has
two sides, and both are true according to the stand-point from which
one is looking at them. You have two sides yourself, sir, and they
are contrasting very strangely with each other. You are a native of
Switzerland, and yet you depict the Hapsburg princes in your works with
more genuine enthusiasm than any of our Austrian historians. You are a
republican, and yet you are serving a monarchy, the forms of which seem
to agree with you exceedingly well. You belong to the orthodox reformed
church, and yet you have written ‘The Voyages of the Popes,’ and ‘The
Letters of Two Catholic Prelates.’ You are a friend of justice, and
yet you have even discovered good and praiseworthy qualities in that
tyrannous King of France, Louis XI. Now tell me, sir, which is your true
side, and what you really are?”

“I am a man,” said Johannes Muller, gently; “I commit errors and have my
failings like all men, my heart is vacillating, but not my head. With my
head I am standing above all parties, and above all individual feelings;
hence I am able to write ‘The Voyages of the Popes,’ and ‘The Letters
of Two Catholic Prelates,’ although, as your excellency stated, I am a
member of the orthodox reformed church; and hence I am able to praise
the Hapsburgs and serve a monarchy, although I am a republican. But
my heart does not stand above the contending parties; my heart loves
mankind, and takes pity on their failings; hence it is able to discover
praiseworthy qualities even in Louis XI. of France, for in the BAD king,
it constantly follows the vestiges of the man whom nature created good
and humane.”

“Those are the views of Jean Jacques Rousseau!” exclaimed Thugut,
contemptuously; “but these views are inapplicable to the world and to
practical life; he who desires to derive advantages from men, first, of
all things, must avail himself of their bad qualities and flatter
them. To hold intercourse with perfectly virtuous men is tedious and
unprofitable; fortunately, however, there are very few of them. I
should have no use whatever for such patterns of virtue, and, instead
of admiring them, I should try to annihilate them. He who is to be a
welcome tool for me, must either have a stain by which I may catch
him at the slightest symptom of disobedience, like an insect tied to
a string, and draw him back to me, or he must be so narrow-minded and
ignorant as not to understand me fully, and to be unable to divine and
penetrate my hidden thoughts and intentions.” [Footnote: Thugut’s own
words.--Vide Hormayer, “Lebensbilder aus dein Befreiungskrieg,” voi. i.,
p. 322.]

“In that case I must hope never to be a welcome tool of your
excellency,” said Muller, gravely.

“Are you so sure of your virtue? Are you unconscious of any stain on
your character?”

“If principles be virtue, yes; in that case I am sure of my virtue,”
 said Muller, calmly. “I shall never be unfaithful to my principles, and
I hope never to have a stain on my conscience.”

“Who is able to say that?” exclaimed Thugut, laughing; “many a one has
become a murderer, who was unwilling to tread on a worm, and many a one
has become a perjurer, who protested solemnly that he would never utter
a lie. But a truce to philosophical discussions. I like to go directly
at my aim, and to utter my thoughts clearly and precisely. Listen,
then, to me, and learn what I want you to do. You are a great mind, an
illustrious historian, a very learned man, and you are pining away among
the shelves of your imperial library. The greatest historian of the
century is nothing but the custodian of a library, and is subordinate
to a chief whom he must obey, although the latter is mentally a
pigmy compared with him. Such a position is unworthy of your eminent
abilities, or tell me, do you feel contented with it?”

Johannes Muller smiled sadly. “Who is able to say that he feels
contented?” he asked. “I am, perhaps, a bad custodian, and that may be
the reason why the prefect of the Imperial Library, Baron Fenish, is not
on good terms with me, and profits by every opportunity to mortify me.
A German savant never was an independent man, for he generally lacks the
most indispensable requisite for an independent position: he generally
lacks wealth.”

“Then you are poor?” asked Thugut, with flashing eyes.

“I have no other means than my salary. The Muses will adorn a man, but
they will not feed him.”

“I will deliver you from your subordinate position,” said Thugut,
hastily; “you shall be independent, free, and rich. You are a fool to
bury yourself, with your glory and with your pen, in the dust of old
books. Life and history are calling, and offering you their metal
tablets to write thereon. Write, then; write the history of our times;
render yourself an organ of the age; assist us, by your writings, in
preserving the government and law and order. Defend, with your ringing
voice, the actions of the government against the aspersions of this
would-be wise, noisy, and miserable people, and you shall have a
brilliant position and an annual salary of four thousand florins. You
are silent? You are right; consider well what I am proposing to you. I
offer you a brilliant position. I will make you the great historian of
our times. It affords you always so much pleasure to praise and commend;
well, sir, praise and commend what we are doing. Assist me, at least, in
mystifying our contemporaries and posterity a little, and I will reward
you in the most liberal manner. A good title, a large salary, and we
will, moreover, pay your debts.”

“Ah! your excellency knows that I have debts, and you believe that to
be the string by which you may draw me to you like an insect?” asked
Muller, smiling. “To become the historian of our times is an honorable
and welcome offer, and I confess to your excellency that I have already
finished many a chapter of it in my head, and that I have devoted a
great deal of attention to the special history of Austria. It would be
agreeable to me if your excellency would permit me to recite to you a
few passages from the history of Austria, as I have elaborated it in
my head. This will be the best way for your excellency to obtain the
conviction whether I am really able to fill so brilliant a position
as your excellency has offered me, and whether my services deserve so
liberal a salary.”

“Well, sir, let me hear a few passages from your ‘History of Austria.’ I
am very anxious to listen to them.”

“And your excellency remembers the promise that there is to be
irresponsibility and impunity for whatever will be said during this
interview?”

“I do, sir, and I swear that your words shall never be repeated to any
one, and that I shall only remember them when I have to reward you for
them. I swear, besides, that I will quietly and patiently listen to you
until you have concluded.”

“I thank your excellency,” said Johannes Muller, bowing gracefully. “I
should like to recite to your excellency now a chapter that I desire to
write on the literature of Austria. I turn my eyes back to the days
of Maria Theresa and Joseph the Second. Both of them were lovers of
literature, art, and science, which both of them promoted and fostered.
Joseph expelled darkness from his states and uttered the great words,
‘The mind shall be free!’ And the mind became free. It became active and
exalted in every art; the poets raised their voices; the learned sent
the results of their studies into the world, and labored powerfully for
the advancement and enlightenment of the people. The mind tore down
the barriers that stupid fear had raised between Austria and the other
German states, and the great poets who had lately arisen in Germany now
became, also, the poets and property of Austria. Austria called Lessing
and Klopstock HER poets; like the rest of Germany, she enthusiastically
admired Schiller’s ‘Robbers,’ and wept over ‘Werther’s Sorrows;’ she was
delighted with the poetry of Wieland; she learned to love the clear and
noble mind of Herder, and the writings of Jean Paul admonished her to
learn and to reflect. It was a glorious period, your excellency, for a
young nation had arisen in Austria, and it was drawing its nourishment
from the breasts of a young literature.”

“And sucking from these breasts the revolutionary spirit, and the
arrogance of independent thinkers,” interrupted Thugut, rudely.

Johannes Muller seemed not to have heard him, and continued: “Joseph the
Second died; scarcely a decade has passed, and what has this decade
made of Austria? The mind has been chained again; the censor with
his scissors has taken his stand again by the side of the Austrian
boundary-post; and the wall severing Austria from Germany has been
recreated. Every thing now has become again suspicious; even the
national spirit of the Austrian, even his hatred of foreign oppression,
and his hostility to foreign encroachments. In this hatred itself the
government sees the possibility of a rising, and a spirit of opposition,
for it sees that the people are no longer asleep, but awake and
thinking, and thought in itself is even now an opposition. Every
manifestation of enthusiasm for a man who has spoken of the freedom and
independence of Germany is looked upon with suspicion, and the noblest
men are being proscribed and banished, merely because the people love
them, and hope and expect great things from them. The people, according
to the wishes of government, shall do nothing but sleep, obey, and
be silent; the people shall manifest no enthusiasm for any thing; the
people shall love nothing, desire nothing, think nothing; the people
shall have no heroes, to whom they are attached; for the glory of the
heroes might eclipse the emperor, and the shouts of love sound like
shouts of insurrection.”

“You refer to the Archdukes Charles and John,” said Thugut, quietly.
“It is true, I have removed Archduke Charles from his command, for his
popularity with the army and people is very great, and would have become
dangerous to the emperor. We must conquer through tools, and not through
heroes; the latter are very unpleasant to deal with, for they do not
gratefully receive their reward as a favor, but they impudently claim
and take it as a right. The imperial throne must be surrounded by
heroes, but these heroes must never eclipse the imperial throne. Pardon
this note to your chapter, and proceed.”

“The heroes of the sword are
cast aside,” continued Johannes Muller, “but neither the heroes of
thought nor the heroes of literature are spared. The government tries to
disgrace and insult literature, because it is unable to assassinate it
entirely; it drags literature into the caves of unworthy censors, and
mutilates its most beautiful limbs and destroys the most magnificent
splendor of its ideas. The government is AFRAID of the mind; hence it
desires to kill IT. A government, however, may commit many mistakes, but
it never ought to show that it is afraid, fear exposing it to
ridicule. And if we ought not to weep over the persecutions which the
apprehensions of the government have caused to be instituted against
literature, we ought to laugh at them. Whole volumes of the most sublime
works of Gibbon, Robertson, Hume, and other great historians have been
prohibited; and there is not one of our German poets--neither Goethe,
nor Schiller, nor Herder, nor Wieland, nor Lessing, nor Jean Paul--whose
works are not ostracized in German Austria. Fear and a bad conscience
scent everywhere allusions, references, and hints. Hence history is
banished from the stage; for the history of the past constantly points
with a menacing finger at the sore spots of the present. Shakespeare’s
‘King Lear’ has been prohibited, because the public might believe
princes would lose their heads if weighed down by misfortunes. ‘Hamlet,’
‘Richard the Third,’ and ‘Macbeth’ must not be performed, because people
might get accustomed to the dethronement and assassination of emperors
and kings. Schiller’s ‘Mary Stuart’ is looked upon as an allusion to
Marie Antoinette; ‘Wallenstein’ and ‘Tell’ are ostracized, because
they might provoke revolutions and military mutinies. The ‘Merchant of
Venice’ must not be performed, because it might give rise to riotous
proceedings against the Jews; and in Schiller’s ‘Love and Intrigue,’
President de Kalb has been transformed into a plebeian vicedomus, in
order to maintain the respect due to the nobility and to the government
functionaries. It is true, it is permitted to represent villains and
impostors on the stage, but they must never be noblemen; and if men of
ideal character are to be brought upon the stage, they must be either
princes, counts, or police-directors. For even more sacred than the
dignity of the highest classes is the holy police, the great guardian
of the government, the great spy watching the people, who are being
deprived of every thing; to whom every intellectual enjoyment, every
free manifestation of their enthusiasm is forbidden, and who are yet
required to deem themselves happy, and that they shall be faithfully
attached to their government! If the government enslaves the people, it
must expect that these slaves will lose all sense of honor and justice,
and willingly sell themselves to him who holds out to them the
most glittering offers, and knows best how to tempt them by golden
promises!--I am through, your excellency,” said Johannes Muller, drawing
a deep breath; “I have recited to you my whole chapter on the literature
of Austria, and I thank you for having listened to me so patiently. Now
it is for your excellency alone to decide whether you deem me worthy of
filling the honorable position you have offered. I am ready to accept
it, and to write the history of our times in this spirit, and shall be
very grateful if your excellency will grant me for this purpose your
protection and a salary of four thousand florins.”

Thugut looked with an air of pride and disdain into his glowing face.

“My dear sir,” he said, after a long pause--“my dear sir, I was mistaken
in you, for I believed you to have a clear head and a strong mind, and
I perceive now that you are nothing but a weak enthusiast, dreaming
of ideal fancies which one day will turn out entirely differently; to
become spectres, from which you will shrink back in dismay. You will not
always remain the enthusiastic admirer of freedom as at present; and the
proud republican will one day, perhaps, be transformed into the obedient
servant of a tyrant. You assured me quite haughtily that you had no
stain on your conscience; let me tell you, sir, that there is a stain on
your character, and I should have profited by it--you are vain. I should
not have tried to bribe you with money, but with flattery, and I had
been successful. I had too good an opinion of you, however. I believed
you had a vigorous mind, capable of comprehending what is necessary and
useful, and of preferring the practical and advantageous to the ideal.
Although a native of Switzerland, you are a genuine German dreamer, and
I hate dreamers. Go, sir, remain custodian of the Imperial Library and
complete your catalogues, but never imagine that you will be able with
your weak hand to stem the wheel of history and of political affairs;
the wheel would only destroy your hand and what little glory you have
obtained, and hurl you aside like a crushed dog. Farewell!”

He turned his back upon Johannes Muller, and placed himself at the
window until the soft noise of the closing door told him that the
historian had left him.

“What a fool!” he said. Then, turning around again--“a genuine German
fool! Wanted to lecture me--ME!”

And, amused by the idea, Thugut burst into loud laughter. He then
rang the bell violently, and as soon as the valet de chambre made his
appearance he ordered him to get the carriage ready for him.

Fifteen minutes later the minister left the chancery of state for the
purpose of repairing, as was his custom every evening, to his garden
in the Wahringer Street. The streets through which he had to pass were
crowded with citizens, who were talking with ill-concealed rage about
the fresh defeat of the Austrians at Marengo, and were loudly calling
out that Minister Thugut was alone to blame for Austria’s misfortunes,
and that he was the only obstacle that prevented the emperor from making
peace. And the people surrounded the well-known carriage of the minister
with constantly-increasing exasperation, and cried in a constantly
louder and more menacing tone: “We do not want war! We want peace!
peace!”

Thugut was leaning back comfortably on the cushions of his carriage. He
seemed not to hear the shouts of the people, and not to deem them worthy
of the slightest notice. Only when the tumult increased in violence,
and when the incensed people commenced hurling stones and mud at his
carriage, the minister rose for a moment in order to look out with an
air of profound disdain. He then leaned back on his seat, and muttered,
with a glance of indescribable contempt:

“Canaille!” [Footnote: Hormayer’s “Lebensbilder,” vol. i., p. 230.]



CHAPTER XXXVI.

THUGUT’S FALL.


Tidings of fresh defeats had reached Vienna; more disasters had befallen
the army, and the great victory of Marengo had been followed, on the
3rd of December, 1800, by the battle of Hohenlinden, in which Moreau
defeated the Austrians under Archduke John. Even Thugut, the immovable
and constant prime minister, felt alarmed at so many calamities, and he
was generally in a gloomy and spiteful humor.

He felt that there was a power stronger than his will, and this feeling
maddened him with anger. He was sitting at his desk, with a clouded brow
and closely compressed lips, his sullen eyes fixed on the papers before
him, which a courier, just arrived from the headquarters of the army,
had delivered to him. They contained evil tidings; they informed him
of the immense losses of the Austrians, and of the insolence of the
victorious French general, who had only granted the Austrian application
for an armistice on condition that the fortresses of Ulm, Ingolstadt and
Philipsburg be surrendered to him; and these humiliating terms had been
complied with in order to gain time and to concentrate a new army. For
Thugut’s stubbornness had not been broken yet, and he still obstinately
refused to conclude the peace so urgently desired by the whole Austrian
people, nay, by the emperor himself.

“No, no, no peace!” he muttered, when he had perused the dispatches.
“We will fight on, even though we should be buried under the ruins of
Austria! I hate that revolutionary France, and I shall never condescend
to extend my hand to it for the purpose of making peace. We will fight
on, and no one shall dare to talk to me about peace!”

A low rap at the door leading to the reception-room interrupted his
soliloquy, and when he had harshly called out, “Come in,” his valet de
chambre appeared in the door.

“Your excellency,” he said, timidly, “Counts Colloredo, Saurau, and
Lehrbach have just arrived, and desire to obtain an interview with your
excellency.”

Not a muscle moved in Thugut’s face to betray his surprise, and he
ordered the servant in a perfectly calm voice to admit the gentlemen
immediately. He then hastily walked to the door for the purpose of
meeting them. They entered a few minutes later: first, Count Colloredo,
minister of the imperial household; next, Count Saurau, minister of
police; and last, Count Lehrbach, minister without portfolio. Thugut
surveyed the three dignitaries with a single searching glance. He
perceived that good-natured Count Colloredo looked rather frightened;
that the ferocious eyes of Count Lehrbach were glistening like those of
a tiger just about to lacerate his victim: and that Count Saurau, that
diplomatist generally so impenetrable, permitted a triumphant smile to
play on his lips. With the sure tact which Thugut never lost sight
of, he saw from the various miens of these three gentlemen what had
occasioned their call upon him, and his mind was made up at once.

He received them, however, with a pleasant salutation, and took the hand
of Count Colloredo in order to conduct him to an armchair. Colloredo’s
hand was cold and trembling, and Thugut said to himself, “he is charged
with a very disagreeable message for me, and he is afraid to deliver
it.”

“Your excellency is doubtless astonished to see us disturb you at so
unexpected an hour,” said Count Colloredo, in a tremulous voice, when
the four gentlemen had taken seats.

“No, I am not astonished,” said Thugut, calmly. “You, gentlemen, on the
contrary, have only anticipated my wishes. I was just about to invite
you to see me for the purpose of holding a consultation, very disastrous
tidings having arrived from the headquarters of our army. We have lost a
battle at Hohenlinden--Archduke John has been defeated.”

“And Moreau has already crossed the Inn and is now advancing upon
Vienna,” said Count Lehrbach, with a sneer. “You have made some terrible
mistakes in your hopes of victory, minister.”

“Yes, indeed, you have made some terrible mistakes, my dear little
baron,” said Count Saurau, laying particular stress on the last words.

Thugut fixed a laughing look on him. “Why,” he said, “how tender we are
to-day, and how big your beak has grown, my dear little count! You seem
but slightly afflicted by the misfortunes of the empire, for your face
is as radiant as that of a young cock that has just driven a rival from
its dunghill. But it must have been a very stupid old cock that has
condescended to fight with you. Now, my dear Count Colloredo, let us
talk about business. We have been defeated at Hohenlinden, and Moreau is
advancing upon Vienna. These are two facts that cannot be disputed. But
we shall recover from these blows; we shall send a fresh army against
Moreau, and it will avenge our previous disasters.”

“However, your excellency, that is a mere hope, and we may be
disappointed again,” replied Colloredo, anxiously. “The emperor, my
gracious master, has lost faith in our victories, unless we should have
an able and tried general at the head of our forces--a general equally
trusted by the army and the nation.”

“Let us, then, place such a general at the head of the army,”
 said Thugut, calmly; “let us immediately appoint Archduke Charles
commander-in-chief of the Austrian forces.”

“Ah, I am glad that you consent to it,” exclaimed Colloredo, joyfully,
“for the emperor has just instructed me to go to his distinguished
brother and to request him in the name of his majesty to resume the
command-in-chief.”

“Well, he will accept it,” said Thugut, smiling, “for commanding and
ruling always is a very agreeable occupation; and many a one would be
ready and willing to betray his benefactor and friend, if he thereby
could acquire power and distinction. Are you not, too, of this opinion,
my dear little Count Saurau? Ah, you do not know how tenderly I am
devoted to you. You are the puppet which I have raised and fostered, and
which I wanted to transform into a man according to my own views. I am
not to blame if you have not become a man, but always remained only a
machine to be directed by another hand. Beware, my dear, of ever falling
into unskilful or bad hands, for then you would be lost, notwithstanding
your elasticity and pliability. But you have got a worthy friend there
at your side, noble, excellent Count Lehrbach. Do you know, my dear
Count Lehrbach, that there are evil-disposed persons who often tried to
prejudice me against you, who wanted to insinuate you were a rival of
mine, and were notoriously anxious to supplant me and to become prime
minister in my place? Truly, these anxious men actually went so far as
to caution me against you.”

“And did not your excellency make any reply to them?” asked Count
Lehrbach, laughing.

“Parbleu, you ask me whether I have made a reply to them or not?” said
Thugut. “I have always replied to those warning voices: ‘I need not
break Count Lehrbach’s neck; he will attend to that himself. I like
to push a man forward whom I am able to hang at any time.’” [Footnote:
Thugut’s own words.--Hormayer’s “Lebensbilder,” vol. i., p. 882.]

“But you have not taken into consideration that the man whom you are
pushing forward might reach back and afford you the same pleasure which
you had in store for him,” exclaimed Lehrbach, laughing boisterously.

“Yes, that is true,” said Thugut, artlessly; “I ought to have been
afraid of you, after all, and to perceive that you have got a nail in
your head on which one may be hanged very comfortably. But, my friends,
we detain Count Colloredo by our jokes, and you are aware that he
must hasten to the archduke in order to beg him to become our
commander-in-chief and to sign a treaty of peace with France. For I
believe we will make peace at all events.”

“We shall make peace provided we fulfil the conditions which Bonaparte
has exacted,” said Count Colloredo, timidly.

“Ah, he has exacted conditions, and these conditions have been addressed
to the emperor and not to myself?” asked Thugut.

“The dispatches were addressed to me, the minister of the imperial
household,” said Count Colloredo, modestly. “The first of these
conditions is that Austria and France make peace without letting England
participate in the negotiations.”

“And the second condition is beaming already on Count Lehrbach’s
forehead,” said Thugut, calmly. “Bonaparte demands that I shall withdraw
from the cabinet, as my dismissal would be to him a guaranty of
the pacific intentions of Austria, [Footnote: Hausser’s “History of
Germany,” vol. ii., p. 324.] Am I mistaken?”

“You are not; but the emperor, gratefully acknowledging the long and
important services your excellency has rendered to the state, will not
fulfil this condition and incur the semblance of ingratitude.”

“Austria and my emperor require a sacrifice of me, and I am ready to
make it,” said Thugut, solemnly. “I shall write immediately to his
majesty the emperor and request him to permit me to withdraw from the
service of the state without delay.”

Count Colloredo sighed mournfully; Count Saurau smiled, and Count
Lehrbach laughed in Thugut’s face with the mien of a hyena.

“And do you know who will be your successor?” asked the latter.

“My dear sir, I shall have no successor, only a miserable imitator, and
you will be that imitator,” said Thugut, proudly. “But I give you my
word that this task will not be intrusted to you for a long while. I
shall now draw up my request to the emperor, and I beg you, gentlemen,
to deliver it to his majesty.”

Without saying another word he went to his desk, hastily wrote a few
lines on a sheet of paper, which he then sealed and directed. “Count
Colloredo,” he said, “be kind enough to hand this letter to the
emperor.”

Count Colloredo took it with one hand, and with the other he drew a
sealed letter from his bosom.

“And here, your excellency,” he said--“here I have the honor to present
to you his majesty’s reply. The emperor, fully cognizant of your noble
and devoted patriotism, was satisfied in advance that you would be ready
to sacrifice yourself on the altar of the country, and, however grievous
the resolution, he was determined to accept the sacrifice. The emperor
grants your withdrawal from the service of the state; and Count Louis
Cobenzl, who is to set out within a few hours for Luneville, in order
to open there the peace conference with the brother of the First Consul,
Joseph Bonaparte, will take along the official announcement of this
change in the imperial cabinet. Count Lehrbach, I have the honor to
present to you, in the name of the emperor, this letter, by which his
majesty appoints you minister of the interior.”

He handed to Count Lehrbach a letter, which the latter hastily opened
and glanced over with greedy eyes.

“And you, my dear little Count Saurau?” asked Thugut, compassionately.
“Have they not granted you any share whatever in the spoils?”

“Yes, they have; I have received the honorable commission to communicate
to the good people of Vienna the joyful news that Baron Thugut has been
dismissed,” said Count Saurau; “and I shall now withdraw in order to
fulfil this commission.”

He nodded sneeringly to Thugut, bowed respectfully to Count Colloredo,
and left the minister’s cabinet.

“I am avenged,” he muttered, while crossing the anteroom; “henceforward
the shipbuilder’s son will call me no longer his ‘dear little count.’”

“And I shall withdraw, too,” said Count Lehrbach, with a scornful smile.
“I shall withdraw in order to make all necessary preparations, so that
my furniture and horses can be brought here tomorrow to the building of
the chancery of state. For I suppose, Baron Thugut, you will move out of
this house in the course of to-day?”

“Yes, I shall, and you will withdraw now, sir,” said Thugut, dismissing
the count with a haughty wave of his hand. Count Lehrbach went out
laughing, and Count Colloredo remained alone with Thugut.

“And you,” asked Thugut, “do not you wish to take leave of me by telling
me something that might hurt my feelings?”

“I have to tell you a great many things, but nothing that will hurt your
feelings,” said Colloredo, gently. “First of all things, I must beg you
not to deprive me of your friendship and advice, but to assist me as
heretofore. I need your advice and your help more than ever, and shall
do nothing without previously ascertaining your will.”

“The emperor will not permit it,” said Thugut, gloomily. “He will
require you to break off all intercourse with me.”

“On the contrary,” whispered Colloredo, “the emperor desires you always
to assist him and myself by your counsels. The emperor desires you to be
kind enough to call every day upon me in order to consider with me the
affairs of the day, and there, accidentally of course, you will meet his
majesty, who wants to obtain the advice of your experience and wisdom.
You will remain minister, but incognito.”

A flash of joy burst forth from Thugut’s eyes, but he quickly suppressed
it again.

“And shall I meet in your house sometimes your wife, the beautiful
Countess Victoria?” he asked.

“Victoria implores you, through my mouth, to trust her and never to
doubt of her friendship. I beg you to receive the same assurance as far
as I am concerned. You have rendered both of us so happy, my dear baron;
you were the mediator of a marriage in which both of us, Victoria as
well as myself, have found the highest bliss on earth, and never shall
we cease to be grateful to you for it; nor shall we ever be able or
willing to do without your advice and assistance. You are our head, we
are your arms, and the head commanding the arms, we shall always obey
you. Victoria implores you to tell her any thing you desire, so that she
may give you forthwith a proof of her willingness to serve you. She has
charged me to ask you to do so as a proof of your friendship.”

“Well,” said Thugut, laughing, “I accept your offer, as well as that of
your beautiful wife Victoria. Count Lehrbach has been appointed minister
and he wants even to move to-morrow into the chancery of state. We will
let him move in early in the morning, but, in the course of the day, the
emperor will do well to send him his dismissal, for Count Lehrbach is
unworthy of being his majesty’s minister of state. His hand is stained
with the blood which was shed at Rastadt, and a minister’s hand must be
clean.”

“But whom shall we appoint minister in Lehrbach’s place?”

“Count Louis Cobenzl, for his name will offer the best guaranty of our
pacific intentions toward France.”

“But Count Cobenzl is to go to Luneville to attend the peace
conference.”

“Let him do so, and until his return let Count Trautmannsdorf
temporarily discharge the duties of his office.”

“Ah, that is true, that is a splendid idea!” exclaimed Count Colloredo,
joyfully. “You are a very sagacious and prudent statesman, and I shall
hasten to lay your advice before the emperor. You may rest assured
that every thing shall be done in accordance with your wishes.
Lehrbach remains minister until to-morrow at noon; he then receives
his dismissal, Count Louis Cobenzl will be appointed his successor, and
Count Trautmannsdorf will temporarily discharge the duties of the office
until Cobenzl’s return from Luneville. Shall it be done in this manner?”

“Yes, it shall,” said Thugut, almost sternly.

“But this does not fulfil Victoria’s prayer,” said the count, anxiously.
“I am able to attend to these matters, but Victoria also wants to give
you a proof of her friendship.”

“Well, I ask her to prepare a little joke for me and you,” replied
Thugut. “Count Lehrbach will move early to-morrow morning with his whole
furniture into the chancery of state. I beg Victoria to bring it about
that he must move out to-morrow evening with his whole furniture, like
a martin found in the dove-cote.” [Footnote: Thugut’s wishes
were fulfilled. Count Lehrbach lost on the very next day his
scarcely-obtained portfolio, and he was compelled to remove the
furniture which, in rude haste he had sent to the chancery of state
in the morning, in the course of the same evening.--Vide Hormayer’s
“Lebensbilder,” vol. i., p. 330.]

“Ah, that will be a splendid joke,” said Count Colloredo, laughing, “and
my dear Victoria will be happy to afford you this little satisfaction.
I am able to predict that Count Lehrbach will be compelled to move out
to-morrow evening. But now, my dearest friend. I must hasten to Archduke
Charles, who, as you are aware, is pouting on one of his estates. I
shall at once repair thither, and be absent from Vienna for two days.
Meantime, you will take care of Victoria as a faithful friend.”

“I shall take care of her if the countess will permit me to do so,” said
Thugut, smiling, and accompanying Count Colloredo to the door.

His eyes followed him for a long while with an expression of haughty
disdain.

“The fools remain,” he said, “and I must go. But no, I shall not go! Let
the world believe me to be a dismissed minister, I remain minister after
all. I shall rule through my creatures, Colloredo and Victoria. I remain
minister until I shall be tired of all these miserable intrigues, and
retire in order to live for myself.” [Footnote: Thugut really withdrew
definitely from the political stage, but secretly he retained his full
power and authority, and Victoria de Poutet-Colloredo, the influential
friend of the Empress Theresia, constantly remained his faithful
adherent and confidante. All Vienna, however, was highly elated by
the dismissal of Thugut, who had so long ruled the empire in the most
arbitrary manner. An instance of his system is the fact that; on his
withdrawal from the cabinet, there were found one hundred and seventy
unopened dispatches and more than two thousand unopened letters. Thugut
only perused what he believed to be worth the trouble of being read, and
to the remainder he paid no attention whatever.--“Lebensbilder,” vol.
i., p. 327.]



CHAPTER XXXVII.

FANNY VON ARNSTEIN.


The young Baroness Fanny von Arnstein had just finished her morning
toilet and stepped from her dressing-room into her boudoir, in order to
take her chocolate there, solitary and alone as ever. With a gentle sigh
she glided into the arm-chair, and instead of drinking the chocolate
placed before her in a silver breakfast set on the table, she leaned
her head against the back of her chair and dreamily looked up to the
ceiling. Her bosom heaved profound sighs from time to time, and the
ideas which were moving her heart and her soul ever and anon caused a
deeper blush to mantle her cheeks; but it quickly disappeared again, and
was followed by an even more striking pallor.

She was suddenly startled from her musings by a soft, timid rap at the
door leading to the reception-room.

“Good Heaven!” she whispered, “I hope he will not dare to come to me so
early, and without being announced.”

The rapping at the door was renewed. “I cannot, will not receive him,”
 she muttered; “it will be better not to be alone with him any more. I
will bolt the door and make no reply whatever.”

She glided with soft steps across the room to the door, and was just
about to bolt it, when the rapping resounded for the third time, and a
modest female voice asked:

“Are you there, baroness, and may I walk in?”

“Ah, it is only my maid,” whispered the baroness, drawing a deep breath,
as though an oppressive burden were removed from her breast, and she
opened the door herself.

“Well, Fanchon,” she asked, in her gentle, winning voice, “what do you
want?”

“Pardon me, baroness,” said the maid, casting an inquisitive look around
the room, “the baron sent for me just now; he asked me if you had risen
already and entered your boudoir, and when I replied in the affirmative,
the baron gave me a message for you, with the express order, however,
not to deliver it until you had taken your chocolate and finished your
breakfast. I see now that I must not yet deliver it; the breakfast is
still on the table just as it was brought in.”

“Take it away; I do not want to eat any thing,” said the baroness,
hastily. “And now Fanchon, tell me your errand.”

Fanchon approached the table, and while she seized the silver salver,
she cast a glance of tender anxiety on her pale, beautiful mistress.

“You are eating nothing at all, baroness,” she said, timidly; “for a
week already I have had to remove the breakfast every morning in the
same manner; you never tasted a morsel of it, and the valet de chambre
says that you hardly eat any thing at the dinner-table either; you will
be taken ill, baroness, if you go on in this manner, and--”

“Never mind, dear Fanchon,” her mistress interrupted her with a gentle
smile, “I have hardly any appetite, it is true, but I do not feel
unwell, nor do I want to be taken ill. Let us say no more about it, and
tell me the message the baron intrusted to you.”

“The baron wished me to ask you if you would permit him to pay you
immediately a visit, and if you would receive him here in your boudoir.”

The baroness started, and an air of surprise overspread her features.
“Tell the baron that he will be welcome, and that I am waiting for
him,” she said then, calmly. But so soon as Fanchon had withdrawn, she
whispered: “What is the meaning of all this? What is the reason of this
unusual visit? Oh, my knees are trembling, and my heart is beating so
violently, as though it wanted to burst. Why? What have I done, then? Am
I a criminal, who is afraid to appear before her judge?”

She sank back into her arm-chair and covered her blushing face with her
hands. “No,” she said, after a long pause, raising her head again, “no,
I am no criminal, and my conscience is guiltless. I am able to raise
my eyes freely to my husband and to my God. So far, I have honestly
struggled against my own heart, and I shall struggle on in the same
manner. I--ah! he is coming,” she interrupted herself when she heard
steps in the adjoining room, and her eyes were fixed with an expression
of anxious suspense on the door.

The latter opened, and her husband, Baron Arnstein, entered. His face
was pale, and indicative of deep emotion; nevertheless, he saluted his
wife with a kind smile, and bent down in order to kiss her hand, which
she had silently given to him.

“I suppose you expected me?” he asked. “You knew, even before I sent
Fanchon to you, that I should come and see you at the present hour?”

Fanny looked at him inquiringly, and in surprise. “I confess,” she said,
in an embarrassed tone, “that I did not anticipate your visit by
any means until Fanchon announced it to me, and I only mention it to
apologize for the dishabille in which you find me.”

“Ah, you did not expect me, then?” exclaimed the baron, mournfully.
“You have forgotten every thing? You did not remember that this is the
anniversary of our wedding, and that five years have elapsed since that
time?”

“Indeed,” whispered Fanny, in confusion, “I did not know that this was
the day.”

“You felt its burden day after day, and it seemed to you, therefore,
as though that ill-starred day were being renewed for you all the
year round,” exclaimed the baron, sadly. “Pardon my impetuosity and my
complaints,” he continued, when he saw that she turned pale and averted
her face. “I will be gentle, and you shall have no reason to complain
of me. But as you have forgotten the agreement which we made five years
ago, permit me to remind you of it.”

He took a chair, and, sitting down opposite her, fixed a long,
melancholy look upon her. “When I led you to the altar five years ago
to-day,” he said, feelingly, “you were, perhaps, less beautiful than
now, less brilliant, less majestic; but you were in better and less
despondent spirits, although you were about to marry a man who was
entirely indifferent to you.”

“Oh, I did not say that you were indifferent to me,” said Fanny, in a
low voice; “only I did not know you, and, therefore, did not love you.”

“You see that want of acquaintance was not the only reason,” he said,
with a bitter smile, “for now, I believe, you know me, and yet you do
not love me. But let us speak of what brought me here to-day--of the
past. You know that, before our marriage, you afforded me the happiness
of a long and confidential interview, that you permitted me to look down
into the depths of your pure and noble soul, that you unveiled to me
your innocent heart, that did not yet exhibit either scars or wounds,
nor even an image, a souvenir, and allowed me to be your brother and
your friend, as you would not accept me as a lover and husband. Before
the world, however, I became your husband, and took you to Vienna, to my
house, of which you were to be the mistress and queen. The whole house
was gayly decorated, and all the rooms were opened, for your arrival was
to be celebrated by a ball. Only one door was locked; it was the door
of this cabinet. I conducted you hither and said to you, ‘This is your
sanctuary, and no one shall enter it without your permission. In this
boudoir you are not the Baroness Arnstein, not my wife; but here you are
Fanny Itzig, the free and unshackled young girl, who is mistress of her
will and affections. I shall never dare myself, without being expressly
authorized by you, to enter this room; and when I shall be allowed to do
so, I shall only come as a cavalier, who has the honor to pay a polite
visit to a beautiful lady, to whom he is not connected in any manner
whatever. Before the world I am your husband, but not in this room.
Hence I shall never permit myself to ask what you are doing in this
room, whom you are receiving here; for here you are only responsible to
God and yourself.’ Do you now remember that I said this to you at that
time?”

“I do.”

“I told you further that I begged you to continue with me one day here
in this room the confidential conversation which we held before our
marriage. I begged you to fix a period of five years for this purpose
and, during this time, to examine your heart and to see whether life at
my side was at least a tolerable burden, or whether you wished to shake
it off. I asked you to promise me that I might enter this room on the
fifth anniversary of our wedding-day, for the purpose of settling then
with you our future mode of living. You were kind enough to grant my
prayer, and to promise what I asked. Do you remember it?”

“I do,” said Fanny, blushing; “I must confess, however, that I did not
regard those words in so grave a light as to consider them as a formal
obligation on your part. You would have been every day a welcome guest
in this room, and it was unnecessary for you to wait for a particular
day in accordance with an agreement made five years ago.”

“Your answer is an evasive one,” said the baron, sadly. “I implore you,
let us now again speak as frankly and honestly as we did five years ago
to-day! Will you grant my prayer?”

“I will,” replied Fanny, eagerly; “and I am going to prove immediately
that I am in earnest. You alluded a few minutes ago to our past,
and asked me wonderingly if I had forgotten that interview on our
wedding-day. I remember it so well, however, that I must direct your
attention to the fact that you have forgotten the principal portion
of what we said to each other at that time, or rather that, in your
generous delicacy, and with that magnanimous kindness which you alone
may boast of, you have intentionally omitted that portion of it. You
remembered that I told you I did not love you, but you forgot that you
then asked me if I loved another man. I replied to you that I loved no
one, and never shall I forget the mournful voice in which you then said,
‘It is by far easier to marry with a cold heart than to do so with
a broken heart; for the cold heart may grow warm, but the broken
heart--never!’ Oh, do not excuse yourself,” she continued, with greater
warmth; “do not take me for so conceited and narrow-minded a being that
I should have regarded those words of yours as an insult offered to me!
It was, at the best, but a pang that I felt.”

“A pang?” asked the baron, in surprise; and he fixed his dark eyes, with
a wondrously impassioned expression, on the face of his beautiful wife.

“Yes, I felt a pang,” she exclaimed, vividly, “for, on hearing
your words, which evidently issued from the depths of your soul,
on witnessing your unaffected and passionate grief, your courageous
self-abnegation, I felt that your heart had received a wound which never
would close again, and that you never would faithlessly turn from your
first love to a second one.”

“Oh, my God,” murmured the baron, and he averted his face in order not
to let her see the blush suddenly mantling it.

Fanny did not notice it, and continued: “But this dead love of yours
laid itself like the cold hand of a corpse upon my breast and doomed
it to everlasting coldness. With the consciousness that you never would
love me, I had to cease striving for it, and give up the hope of seeing,
perhaps, one day my heart awake in love for you, and the wondrous flower
of a tenderness after marriage unfold itself, the gradual budding of
which had been denied to us by the arbitrary action of our parents, who
had not consulted our wishes, but only our fortunes. I became your wife
with the full conviction that I should have to lead a life cold, dreary,
and devoid of love, and that I could not be for you but an everlasting
burden, a chain, an obstacle. My pride, that was revolting against it,
told me that I should be able to bear this life in a dignified manner,
but that I never ought to make even an attempt to break through this
barrier which your love for another had erected between us, and which
you tried to raise as high as possible.”

“I!” exclaimed the baron, sadly.

“Yes, you,” she said, gravely. “Or did you believe, perhaps, I did not
comprehend your rigorous reserve toward me? I did not understand that
you were wrapping around your aversion to me but a delicate veil? You
conducted me to this room and told me that you never would enter it, and
that you would only come here when specially invited by myself to do so.
Well, sir, you managed very skilfully to conceal your intention never
to be alone with me, and to lead an entirely separate life from me under
this phrase, for you knew very well that my pride never would permit me
to invite you here against your will.”

“Oh, is it possible that I should have been misunderstood in this
manner?” sighed the baron, but in so low a voice that Fanny did not hear
him.

“You further told me,” she continued, eagerly, “that I should only bear
the name of your wife before the world, but not in this room where I
was always to be Fanny Itzig. You were kind enough to give to this moral
divorce, which you pronounced in this manner, the semblance as though
YOU were the losing party, and as though you were only actuated by
motives of delicacy toward me. I understood it all, however, and when
you left this room after that conversation, sir, I sank down on my knees
and implored God that He might remain with me in this loneliness to
which you had doomed me, and I implored my pride to sustain and support
me, and I swore to my maidenly honor that I would preserve it unsullied
and sacred to my end.”

“Oh, good Heaven!” groaned the baron, tottering backward like a man
suddenly seized with vertigo.

Fanny, in her own glowing excitement, did not notice it.

“And thus I commenced my new life,” she said, “a life of splendor and
magnificence; it was glittering without, but dreary within, and in the
midst of our most brilliant circles I constantly felt lonely; surrounded
by hundreds who called themselves friends of our house, I was always
alone--I, the wife of your reception-room, the disowned of my boudoir!
Oh, it is true I have obtained many triumphs; I have seen this haughty
world, that only received me hesitatingly, at last bow to me; the Jewess
has become the centre of society, and no one on entering our house
believes any longer that he is conferring a favor upon us, but, on the
contrary, receiving one from us. It is the TON now to visit our house;
we are being overwhelmed with invitations, with flattering attentions.
But tell me, sir, is all this a compensation for the happiness which we
are lacking and which we never will obtain? Oh, is it not sad to think
that both of us, so young, so capable of enjoying happiness, should
already be doomed to eternal resignation and eternal loneliness? Is it
not horrible to see us, and ought not God Himself to pity us, if from
the splendor of His starry heavens He should look down for a moment into
our gloomy breasts? I bear in it a cold, frozen heart, and you a coffin.
Oh, sir, do not laugh at me because you see tears in my eyes--it is
only Fanny Itzig who is weeping; Baroness von Arnstein will receive your
guests to-night in your saloons with a smiling face, and no one will
believe that her eyes also know how to weep. But here, here in my
widow-room, here in my nun’s cell, I may be permitted to weep over you
and me, who have been chained together with infrangible fetters, of
which both of us feel the burden and oppression with equal bitterness
and wrath. May God forgive our parents for having sacrificed our hearts
on the altar of THEIR God, who is Mammon; _I_ shall ever hate them for
it; I shall never forgive them, for they who knew life must have known
that there is nothing more unhappy, more miserable, and more deplorable
than a wife who does not love her husband, is not beloved by him.”

“Is not beloved by him!” repeated the baron, approaching his wife who,
like a broken reed, had sunk down on a chair, and seizing her hand,
he said: “You say that I do not love you, Fanny! Do you know my heart,
then? Have you deemed it worth while only a single time to fix your
proud eyes on my poor heart? Did you ever show me a symptom of sympathy
when I was sick, a trace of compassion when you saw me suffering? But
no, you did not even see that I was suffering, or that I was sad. Your
proud, cold glance always glided past me; it saw me rarely, it never
sought me! What can you know, then, about my heart, and what would you
care if I should tell you now that there is no longer a coffin in it,
that it has awoke to a new life, and--”

“Baron!” exclaimed Fanny, rising quickly and proudly, “will you,
perhaps, carry your magnanimity and delicacy so far as to make me a
declaration of love? Did I express myself in my imprudent impetuosity so
incorrectly as to make you believe I was anxious even now to gain your
love, and that I was complaining of not having obtained it? Do you
believe me to be an humble mendicant, to whom in your generosity you
want to throw the morsel of a declaration of love? I thank you, sir, I
am not hungry, and do not want this morsel. Let us at least be truthful
and sincere toward each other, and the truth is, we do not love each
other and shall never do so. Let us never try to feign what we never
shall feel. And if you now should offer me your love I should have to
reject it, for I am accustomed to a freezing temperature; and I should
fare like the natives of Siberia, I should die if I were to live in a
warmer zone. Both of us are living in Siberia; well, then, as we cannot
expect roses to bloom for us, let us try at least to catch sables for
ourselves. The sable, moreover, is an animal highly valued by the whole
world. People will envy our sable furs, for they know them to be costly;
they would laugh at us if we should adorn our heads with roses,
for roses are not costly by any means, they are common, and every
peasant-girl may adorn herself with them.”

“You are joking,” said the baron, mournfully, “and yet there are tears
glistening in your eyes. However, your will shall be sacred to me. I
shall never dare to speak to you again about my heart. But let us speak
about you and your future. The five years of our agreement have elapsed,
and I am here to confer with you about your future. Tell me frankly and
honestly, Fanny, do you wish to be divorced from me?”

She started and fixed a long and searching look on her husband.

“Your father died a year ago,” she said, musingly, “you are now the
chief of the firm; no one has a right to command any longer what you are
to do, and being free now, you may offer your hand to her whom you love,
I suppose?”

The baron uttered a shriek, and a death-like pallor overspread his face.
“Have I deserved to be thus deeply despised by you?” he ejaculated.

Fanny quickly gave him her hand. “Pardon me,” she said, cordially.
“I have pained you quite unintentionally; the grief of this hour has
rendered me cruel. No, I do not believe that you, merely for your own
sake, addressed this question to me; I know, on the contrary, that
you entertain for me the sympathy of a brother, of a friend, and I am
satisfied that your question had my happiness in view as well as yours.”

“Well,” he said, with the semblance of perfect calmness, “let me repeat
my question, then: do you want to be divorced from me?”

Fanny slowly shook her head. “Why?” she asked, sadly. “I repeat to you
what I told you once already; we are living in Siberia--let us remain
there. We are accustomed to a freezing temperature; we might die,
perhaps, in a warmer zone.”

“Or your heart might exult, perhaps, with happiness and delight,” said
the baron, and now HIS eyes were fixed inquiringly upon her face. “You
called me just now your friend, you admitted that I felt for you the
sympathy of a brother; well, then, let me speak to you as your brother
and friend. Do not reject the offer of a divorce so quickly, Fanny,
for I tell you now I shall never renew it, and if you do not give me
up to-day, you are chained to me forever, for I shall never be capable
again of a courage so cruel against myself. Consider the offer well,
therefore. Think of your youth, your beauty, and your inward loneliness.
Remember that your heart is yearning for love and pining away in its
dreary solitude. And now look around, Fanny; see how many of the most
distinguished and eminent cavaliers are surrounding you, and longing for
a glance, for a smile from you. See by how many you are being loved and
adored, and then ask yourself whether or not among all these cavaliers
no one would be able to conquer your heart if it were free? For I
know your chaste virtue; I know that, although chained to an unbeloved
husband, you never would prove faithless to him and avow love to another
so long as you were not free. Imagine, then, you were free, and then ask
your heart if it will not decide for one of your many adorers.”

“No, no,” she said, deprecatingly, “I cannot imagine a state of affairs
that does not exist; as I am not free, I must not entertain the thoughts
of a free woman.”

Her husband approached her, and seizing her hand, looked at her in a
most touching and imploring manner.

“Then you have forgotten that five years ago, on our wedding-day, you
promised me always to trust me?” he asked. “You have forgotten that you
took an oath that you would tell me so soon as your heart had declared
for another man?”

Fanny could not bear his look, and lowered her eyes.

“It has not declared for another man, and, therefore, I have nothing to
confide to you,” she said, in a low voice.

The baron constantly held her hand in his own, and his eyes were still
fixed on her face.

“Let us consider the matter together,” he said. “Permit me to review
your cavaliers and admirers, and to examine with you if there is not one
among them whom you may deem worthy of your love.”

“What!” ejaculated Fanny, having recourse to an outburst of merriment in
order to conceal her embarrassment, “you want to make me a Portia, and
perform with me a scene from the ‘Merchant of Venice?’”

“Yes, you are Portia, and I will play the role of your confidant,” said
Baron Arnstein, smiling. “Well, let us begin our review. First, there
is Count Palfy, a member of the old nobility, of the most faultless
manners, young, rich, full of ardent love for--”

“For your dinner-parties and the rare dishes that do not cost him any
thing,” interrupted Fanny. “He is an epicure, who prefers dining at
other people’s tables because he is too stingy to pay for the Indian
birds’-nests which he relishes greatly. As for myself, he never admires
me until after dinner, for so soon as his stomach is at rest his
heart awakes and craves for food; and his heart is a gourmand, too--it
believes love to be a dish; voila tout!”

“Next, there is the handsome Marchese Pallafredo,” said her husband,
smiling.

“He loves me because he has been told that I speak excellent and pure
German, and because he wants me to teach him how to speak German. He
takes me for a grammar, by means of which he may become familiar with
our language without any special effort.”

“Then there is Count Esterhazy, one of our most brilliant cavaliers;
you must not accuse him of stinginess, for he is just the reverse, a
spendthrift, squandering his money with full hands; nor must you charge
him with being an epicure, for he scarcely eats any thing at all at
our dinner-parties, and does not know what he is eating, his eyes being
constantly riveted on you, and his thoughts being occupied exclusively
with you.”

“It is true, he admires me,” said Fanny, calmly, “but only a few months
ago he was as ardent an adorer of my sister Eskeles, and before he was
enamoured of her, he was enthusiastically in love with Countess Victoria
Colloredo. He loves every woman who is fashionable in society for the
time being, and his heart changes as rapidly as the fashions.”

“Besides, there is the prebendary, Baron Weichs,” said her husband; “a
gentleman of great ability, a savant, and withal a cavalier, a--”

“Oh, pray do not speak of him!” exclaimed Fanny, with an air of horror.
“His love is revolting to me, and fills me with shame and dismay.
Whenever he approaches me my heart shrinks back as if from a venomous
serpent, and a feeling of disgust pervades my whole being, although I
am unable to account for it. There is something in his glances that is
offensive to me; and although he has never dared to address me otherwise
than in the most respectful and reserved manner, his conversation always
makes me feel as though I were standing under a thunder-cloud from which
the lightning might burst forth at any moment to shatter me. As you say,
he is a man of ability, but he is a bad man; he is passionately fond of
the ladies, but he does not respect them.”

“And he does not even deserve mentioning here,” said the baron, smiling,
“for, even though you were free already, the prebendary never could
enjoy the happiness of becoming your husband, and I know that your heart
is too chaste to love a man who is unable to offer you his hand. Let
us, then, look for such a man among the other cavaliers. There is, for
instance, Prince Charles, of Lichtenstein, the most amiable, genial,
and handsome of your admirers; a young prince who is neither haughty nor
proud, neither prodigal nor stingy; who neither makes love to all ladies
so soon as they become fashionable as does Count Esterhazy, nor wants to
learn German from you, as does the Marchese Pallafredo; a young man
as beautiful as Apollo, as brave as Mars, modest notwithstanding his
learning, and affable and courteous notwithstanding his high birth.
Well, Fanny, you do not interrupt me? Your sharp tongue, that was able
to condemn all the others, has no such sentence for the Prince von
Lichtenstein. You suffer me to praise him. Then you assent to my words?”

“I can neither contradict you nor assent to your words,” said Fanny,
with a forced smile; “I do not know the prince sufficiently to judge
him. He has been at Vienna but a very few months--”

“But he has been a daily visitor in our house during that period,” said
her husband, interrupting her, “and he is constantly seen at your side.
All Vienna knows that the prince is deeply enamoured of you, and he does
not conceal it by any means, not even from myself. A few days ago,
when he was so unfortunate as not to find you at home, because you were
presiding over a meeting of your benevolent society, he met me all
alone in the reception-room. Suddenly, in the midst of a desultory
conversation, he paused, embraced me passionately, and exclaimed: ‘Be
not so kind, so courteous, and gentle toward me, for I hate you, I
detest you--because I hate every thing keeping me back from her; I
detest every thing that prevents me from joining HER! Forgive my love
for her and my hatred toward you; I feel both in spite of myself. If you
were not her husband, I should love you like a friend, but that accursed
word renders you a mortal enemy of mine. And still I bow to you in
humility--still I implore you to be generous; do not banish me from your
house, from HER, for I should die if I were not allowed to see her every
day!’”

Fanny had listened to him with blushing cheeks and in breathless
suspense. Her whole soul was speaking from the looks which she fixed on
her husband, and with which she seemed to drink every word, like sweet
nectar, from his lips.

“And what did you reply to him?” she asked, in a dry and husky voice,
when the baron was silent.

“I replied to him that you alone had to decide who should appear at our
parties, and that every one whom you had invited would be welcome to me.
I further told him that his admiration for you did not astonish me at
all, and that I would readily forgive his hatred, for--”

The baron paused all at once and looked at his wife with a surprised
and inquiring glance. She had started in sudden terror; a deep blush was
burning on her cheeks, and her eyes, which had assumed a rapturous and
enthusiastic expression, turned toward the door.

The baron’s eyes followed her glance, and he heard now a slight noise at
the door.

“I believe somebody has knocked at the door,” he said, fixing his
piercing eyes on his wife. She raised her head and whispered, “Yes, I
believe so.”

“And it is the second time already,” said the baron, calmly. “Will you
not permit the stranger to walk in?”

“I do not know,” she said, in great embarrassment, “I--”

Suddenly the door opened, and a young man appeared on the threshold.

“Ah, the Prince von Lichtenstein,” said the baron, and he went with
perfect calmness and politeness to meet the prince who, evidently in
great surprise, remained standing in the door, and was staring gloomily
at the strange and unexpected group.

“Come in, my dear sir,” said the baron, quietly; “the baroness will
be very grateful to you for coming here just at this moment and
interrupting our conversation, for it referred to dry business matters.
I laid a few old accounts, that had been running for five years, before
the baroness, and she gave me a receipt for them, that was all. Our
interview, moreover, was at an end, and you need not fear to have
disturbed us. Permit me, therefore, to withdraw, for you know very well
that, in the forenoon, I am nothing but a banker, a business man, and
have to attend to the affairs of our firm.”

He bowed simultaneously to the prince and to his wife, and left the
room, as smiling, calm, and unconcerned as ever. Only when the door
had closed behind him, when he had satisfied himself by a rapid glance
through the reception-room that nobody was there, the smile disappeared
from his lips, and his features assumed an air of profound melancholy.

“She loves him,” he muttered; “yes, she loves him! Her hand trembled in
mine when I pronounced his name, and oh! how radiant she looked when
she heard him come! Yes, she loves him, and I?--I will go to my
counting-house!” he said, with a smile that was to veil the tears in his
eyes.



CHAPTER XXXVIII.

THE RIVALS.


The baron had no sooner closed the door of the boudoir when the young
Prince von Lichtenstein hastened to Fanny, and, impetuously seizing her
hand, looked at her with a passionate and angry air.

“You did that for the purpose of giving me pain, I suppose?” he asked,
with quivering lips. “You wished to prove to me that you did not confer
any special favor upon me; Yesterday you were kind enough to assure me
that no man ever had set foot into this room, and that I should be the
first to whom it would be opened today; and I was such a conceited fool
as to believe your beatifying words, and I rush hither as early as is
permitted by decency and respect, and yet I do not find you alone.”

“It was my husband who was here,” said Fanny, almost deprecatingly.

“It was a man,” he ejaculated, impetuously, “and you had given me the
solemn assurance that this door had never yet opened to any man. Oh, I
had implored you on my knees, and with tearful eyes, to allow me to see
you here to-day; it seemed to me as though the gates of paradise were
to be at last opened to me; no sleep came into my eyes all night, the
consciousness of my approaching bliss kept me awake; it was over me like
a smiling cherub, and I was dreaming with open eyes. And now that the
lazy, snail-like time has elapsed, now that I have arrived here, I
find in my heaven, at the side of my cherub, a calculating machine,
desecrating my paradise by vile accounts--”

“Pray do not go on in this manner,” interrupted Fanny, sternly. “You
found my husband here, and that, of course, dissolves the whole poetry
of your words into plain prose, for she, whom in your enthusiastic
strain you styled your cherub, is simply the wife of this noble
and excellent man, whom you were free to compare with a calculating
machine.”

“You are angry with me!” exclaimed the young prince, disconsolately.
“You make no allowance for my grief, my disappointment, yea, my
confusion! You have punished me so rudely for my presumption, and will
not even permit my heart to bridle up and give utterance to its wrath.”

“I did not know that you were presumptuous toward me, and could not
think, therefore, of inflicting punishment on you,” said Fanny; “but I
know that you have no right to insult the man whose name I bear.”

“You want to drive me to despair, then!” retorted the prince, wildly
stamping on the floor. “It is not sufficient, then, that you let me find
your husband here, you must even praise him before me! I will tell you
why I was presumptuous. I was presumptuous inasmuch as I believed it to
be a favor granted to me exclusively to enter this room, and you have
punished me for this presumption by proving to me that this door opens
to others, too, although you assured me yesterday that the contrary was
the case.”

“Then you question my word?” asked Fanny.

“Oh,” he said, impetuously, “you do not question what you see with your
own eyes.”

“And, inasmuch as you have satisfied yourself of my duplicity with your
own eyes, as you have seen that every one is at liberty to enter this
room, and as you consequently cannot take any interest in prolonging
your stay here, I would advise you to leave immediately,” said Fanny,
gravely.

“You show me the door? You turn me out!” exclaimed the prince,
despairingly. “Oh, have mercy on me! No, do not turn away from me! Look
at me, read in my face the despair filling my soul. What, you still
avert your head? I beseech you just grant me one glance; only tell me
by the faintest smile that you will forgive me, and I will obey your
orders, I will go, even if it should be only for the purpose of dying,
not here before your eyes, but outside, on the threshold of your door.”

“Ah, as if it were so easy to die!” ejaculated Fanny, turning her face
toward the prince.

“You look at me--you have forgiven me, then!” exclaimed the young
man, and impetuously kneeling down before her, he seized her hands and
pressed them to his lips.

“Rise, sir, pray rise,” said the baroness; “consider that somebody might
come in. You know now that everybody is permitted to enter this room.”

“No, no. I know that nobody is permitted to enter here!” he exclaimed,
fervently; “I know that this room is a sanctuary which no uninitiated
person ever entered; I know that this is the sacred cell in which your
virgin heart exhaled its prayers and complaints, and which is only known
to God; I know that no man’s foot ever crossed this threshold, and I
remain on my knees as if before a saint, to whom I confess my sins, and
whom I implore to grant me absolution. Will you forgive me?”

“I will,” she said, smilingly, bending over him; “I will, if it were
only to induce you to rise from your knees. And as you now perceive and
regret your mistake, I will tell you the truth. It was an accident that
the baron entered this room to-day, and it was the first time, too,
since we were married. Nor did he come here, as he said, in delicate
self-derision, for the purpose of settling accounts with me, but in
order to fulfil a promise which he gave me five years ago, and which, I
confess to my shame, I had forgotten, so that, instead of expecting my
husband, I permitted you to come to me.”

“I thank you for your kind words, which heal all the wounds of my heart
like a soothing balm,” replied the prince. “Oh, now I feel well again,
and strong enough to conquer you in spite of the resistance of the whole
world.”

“And do you know, then, whether you will be able to conquer me in spite
of my resistance?” asked Fanny, smiling.

“Yes!” he exclaimed, “I know it, for in true love there is a strength
that will subdue and surmount all obstacles. And I love you truly;
you know it, you are satisfied of it. You know that I love you; every
breath, every look, every tremulous note of my voice tells you so. But
you? do you love me? Oh, I implore you, at length have mercy on me.
Speak one word of pity, of sympathy I Let me read it at least in your
eyes, if your lips are too austere to utter it. I have come to-day with
the firm determination to receive at your hands my bliss or my doom. The
torment of this incertitude kills me. Fanny, tell me, do you love me?”

Fanny did not answer at once; she stood before him, her head lowered, a
prey to conflicting emotions, but she felt the ardent looks which were
resting on her, and her heart trembled with secret delight. She made an
effort, however, to overcome her feelings, and, raising her head, she
fixed her eyes with a gentle yet mournful expression upon the young man,
who, breathless and pale with anxiety, was waiting for her reply.

“You ask me if I love you,” she said, in a low but firm voice; “you put
that question to me, and yet you are standing now on the same spot on
which my husband stood fifteen minutes ago and also asked me a question.
I must not answer your question, for I am a married woman, and I have
taken an oath at the altar to keep my faith to my husband, and I have
to keep it, inasmuch as my heart has no love to give him. But I will,
nevertheless, give you a proof of the great confidence I am reposing in
you. I will tell you why my husband came to see me to-day, and what was
the question which he addressed to me. Hush, do not interrupt me; do not
tell me that my conversations with the baron have no interest for you.
Listen to me. The baron came to me because the five years, which we had
ourselves fixed for that purpose, had elapsed to-day, and because he
wanted to ask me whether I wished to remain his wife, or whether I
wanted to be divorced from him.”

“And what did you reply?” asked the prince, breathlessly.

“I replied to him as I replied to you a little while ago: ‘I have taken
an oath at the altar to keep my faith to my husband, and I have to keep
it, inasmuch as my heart has no love to give to him.’”

“Ah, you told him that you did not love him?” asked the prince, drawing
a deep breath. “And after this confession he felt that he ought no
longer to oppose your divorce, for his heart is generous and delicate,
and consequently he cannot desire to chain a wife to himself who tells
him that during the five years of her married life she has not learned
to love him. Oh, Fanny, how indescribably happy you render me by this
disclosure. Then you will be free, your hands will not be manacled any
longer.”

“I did not tell you the reply I made to my husband when he left it to me
again to say whether I would be divorced from him or not,” said Fanny,
with a mournful smile. “I replied to him that every thing should remain
as heretofore; that I did not want to inflict the disgrace of a divorce
upon him and upon myself, and that we would and ought to bear these
shackles which, without mutual love, we had imposed upon each other in a
dignified, faithful, and honest manner until our death.”

“That is impossible!” exclaimed the prince. “You could not, you ought
not to have been so cruel against yourself, against the baron, and also
against me. And even though you may have uttered these words of doom on
the spur of that exciting moment, you will take them back again after
sober and mature reflection. Oh, say that you will do so, say that you
will be free; free, so that I may kneel down before you and implore you
to give to me this hand, no longer burdened by any fetters; to become my
wife, and to permit me to try if my boundless, adoring love will succeed
in conferring upon you that happiness of which none are worthier than
you. Oh, speak, Fanny, say that you will be free, and consent to become
my wife!”

“Your wife!” said Fanny, lugubriously. “You forget that what separates
me from you is not only my husband, but also my religion. The Jewess can
never become the wife of the Prince von Lichtenstein.”

“You will cast off the semblance of a religion which in reality is yours
no longer,” said the prince. “You have ceased to be a Jewess, owing to
your education, to your habits, and to your views of life. Leave, then,
the halls of the temple in which your God is no longer dwelling, and
enter the great church which has redeemed mankind, and which is now to
redeem you. Become a convert to the Christian religion, which is the
religion of love.”

“Never!” exclaimed the baroness, firmly and decidedly--“never will I
abandon my religion and prove recreant to my faith, to which my family
and my tribe have faithfully adhered for thousands of years. The curse
of my parents and ancestors would pursue the renegade daughter of our
tribe and cling like a sinister night-bird to the roof of the house into
which the faithless daughter of Judah, the baptized Jewess, would move
in order to obtain that happiness she is yearning for. Never--But what
is that?” interrupting herself all at once; “what is the matter in the
adjoining room?”

Two voices, one of them angrily quarrelling with the other, which
replied in a deprecating manner, were heard in the adjoining room.

“I tell you the baroness is at home, and receives visitors!” exclaimed
the violent and threatening voice.

“And I assure you that the baroness is not at home, and cannot,
therefore, receive any visitors,” replied the deprecating voice.

“It is Baron Weichs, the proud prebendary, who wants to play the master
here as he does everywhere else,” said the prince, disdainfully.

“And my steward refuses to admit him, because I have given orders that
no more visitors shall be received to-day,” whispered Fanny.

The face of the young prince became radiant with delight. He seized
Fanny’s hands and pressed them impetuously to his lips, whispering, “I
thank you, Fanny, I thank you!”

Meantime the voice in the reception-room became more violent and
threatening, “I know that the baroness is at home,” it shouted, “and I
ask you once more to announce my visit to her!”

“But you know, sir,” said the gentle voice of the steward, “that
the baroness, when she is at home, is always at this hour in the
reception-room, and receives her visitors here without any previous
announcement.”

“That only proves that the baroness receives her visitors in another
room to-day,” shouted the voice of Baron Weichs. “I know positively that
there is a visitor with the baroness at this very moment. Go, then, and
announce my visit. It remains for the baroness to turn me away, and
I shall know then that the baroness prefers to remain alone with the
gentleman who is with her at the present time.”

“Ah, this prebendary, it seems, is growing impudent,” exclaimed the
prince, with flashing eyes, walking toward the door.

The baroness seized his hand and kept him back. “Pay no attention to
him,” she said, imploringly; “let my steward settle this quarrel
with that insolent man. Just listen! he is even now begging him quite
politely, yet decidedly, to leave the room.”

“And that fellow is shameless enough to decline doing so,” said the
prince. “Oh, hear his scornful laughter! This laughter is an insult, for
which he ought to be chastised.”

And as if the words of the prince were to be followed immediately by the
deed, a third voice was heard now in the reception-room. It asked in a
proud and angry tone, “What is the matter here? And who permits himself
to shout so indecently in the reception-room of the baroness?”

“Ah, it is my husband,” whispered Fanny, with an air of great relief.
“He will show that overbearing Baron Weichs the door, and I shall get
rid of him forever.”

“He has already dared, then, to importune you?” asked the prince,
turning his threatening eyes toward the door. “Oh, I will release you
from further molestation by this madman, for I tell you the gentle words
of your husband will not be able to do so. Baron Weichs is not the man
to lend a willing ear to sensible remonstrances or to the requirements
of propriety and decency. He has graduated at the high-school of
libertinism, and any resistance whatever provokes him to a passionate
struggle in which he shrinks from no manifestation of his utter
recklessness. Well, am I not right? Does he not even dare to defy your
husband? Just listen!”

“I regret not to be able to comply with your request to leave this
room,” shouted now the voice of the prebendary, Baron Weichs. “You said
yourself just now, baron, that we were in the reception-room of the
baroness; accordingly, you are not the master here, but merely a visitor
like the rest of us. Consequently, you have no right to show anybody
the door, particularly as you do not even know whether you belong to
the privileged visitors of the lady, or whether the baroness will admit
you.”

“I shall take no notice of the unbecoming and insulting portion of your
remarks, baron,” said the calm voice of Baron Arnstein; “I only intend
at this moment to protect my wife against insult and molestation. Now it
is insulting assuredly that a cavalier, after being told that the lady
to whom he wishes to pay his respects is either not at home or will not
receive any visitors, should refuse to withdraw, and insist upon being
admitted. I hope the prebendary, Baron Weichs, after listening to this
explanation, will be kind enough to leave the reception-room.”

“I regret that I cannot fulfil this hope,” said the sneering voice of
the prebendary. “I am now here with the full conviction that I shall
never be able to reenter this reception-room; hence I am determined
not to shrink back from any thing and not to be turned away in so
disgraceful a manner. I know that the baroness is at home, and I came
hither in order to satisfy myself whether the common report is really
true that the baroness, who has always treated me with so much virtuous
rigor and discouraging coldness, is more indulgent and less inexorable
toward another, and whether I have really a more fortunate rival!”

“I hope that I am this more fortunate rival,” said Baron Arnstein,
gently.

“Oh, no, sir,” exclaimed the prebendary, laughing scornfully. “A husband
never is the rival of his wife’s admirers. If you were with your wife
and turned me away, I should not object to it at all, and I should wait
for a better chance. But what keeps me here is the fact that another
admirer of hers is with her, that she has given orders to admit nobody
else, and that you, more kind-hearted than myself, seem to believe that
the baroness is not at home.”

 “This impudence surpasses belief,” exclaimed the prince, in great
exasperation.

“Yes,” said Fanny, gloomily, “the Christian prebendary gives full
vent to his disdain for the Jewish banker. It always affords a great
satisfaction to Christian love to humble the Jew and to trample him
in the dust. And the Jew is accustomed to being trampled upon in this
manner. My husband, too, gives proof of this enviable quality of our
tribe. Just listen how calm and humble his voice remains, all the while
every tone of the other is highly insulting to him!”

“He shall not insult him any longer,” said the prince, ardently; “I
will--but what is that? Did he not mention my name?”

And he went closer to the door, in order to listen in breathless
suspense.

“And I repeat to you, baron,” said the voice of the prebendary,
sneeringly, “your wife is at home, and the young Prince von Lichtenstein
is with her. I saw him leave his palace and followed him; half an
hour ago, I saw him enter your house, and I went into the coffee-house
opposite for the purpose of making my observations. I know, therefore,
positively, that the prince has not yet left your house. As he is not
with you, he is with your wife, and this being the usual hour for
the baroness to receive morning calls, I have just as good a right as
anybody else to expect that she will admit me.”

“And suppose I tell you that she will not admit you to-day?”

“Then I shall conclude that the baroness is in her boudoir with the
Prince von Lichtenstein, and that she does not want to be disturbed,”
 shouted the voice of the prebendary. “Yes, sir; in that case I shall
equally lament my fate and yours, for both of us are deceived and
deprived of sweet hopes. Both of us will have a more fortunate rival in
this petty prince--in this conceited young dandy, who even now believes
he is a perfect Adonis, and carries his ludicrous presumption so far
as to believe that he can outstrip men of ability and merit by his
miserable little title and by his boyish face--”

“Why is it necessary for you to shout all this so loudly?” asked the
anxious voice of the baron.

“Ah, then you believe that he can hear me?” asked the voice of the
prebendary, triumphantly. “Then he is quite close to us? Well, I will
shout it louder than before: this little Prince Charles von Lichtenstein
is a conceited boy, who deserves to be chastised!”

The prince rushed toward the door, pale, with quivering lips and
sparkling eyes. But the baroness encircled his arm with her hands and
kept him back.

“You will not go,” she whispered. “You will not disgrace me so as to
prove to him by your appearance that he was right, and that you were
with me while I refused to admit him.”

“But do you not hear that he insults me?” asked the young prince, trying
to disengage himself from her hands.

“Why do you listen to other voices when you are with me?” she said,
reproachfully. “What do you care for the opinion of that man, whom I
abhor from the bottom of my heart, and whom people only tolerate in
their saloons because they are afraid of his anger and his slanderous
tongue? Oh, do not listen to what he says, my friend! You are here
with me, and I have yet to tell you many things. But you do not heed my
words! Your eyes are constantly fixed on the door. Oh, sir, look at me,
listen to what I have to say to you. I believe I still owe you a reply,
do I not? Well, I will now reply to the question which you have so often
put to me, and to which I have heretofore only answered by silence!”

“Oh, not now, not now!” muttered the prince.

“Yes, I will tell you now what has been so long burning in my soul as a
sweet secret,” whispered Fanny, constantly endeavoring to draw him away
from the door. “You have often asked me if I loved you, and my heart
made the reply which my lips were afraid to pronounce. But now I will
confess it to you: yes, I love you; my whole soul belongs to you! I have
secretly longed for the hour when I might at last confess this to you,
when my heart would exult in pronouncing the sweet words, ‘I love you!’
Good Heaven! you hear it, and yet you remain silent--you avert your
face? Do you despise me now because I, the married woman, confess to you
that I love you? Is your silence to tell me that you do not love me any
longer?”

He knelt down before her and kissed her dress and her hands. “I love
you boundlessly,” he said with panting breath; “you are to me the
quintessence of all happiness, virtue, and beauty. I shall love you to
the last hour of my life!”

“If Prince Charles von Lichtenstein should be near,” shouted the voice
of the prebendary, close to the door, “if he should be able to hear my
words, I want him to hear that I pronounce him a coward, a fool,
and impostor--a coward, because he silently suffers himself to be
insulted--”

The prince, unable to restrain his feelings any longer, rushed forward
and impetuously pushing back the baroness, who still endeavored to
detain him, he violently opened the door.

“No,” he shouted, in a threatening and angry voice. “No, Prince Charles
von Lichtenstein does not allow himself to be insulted with impunity,
and he asks satisfaction for every insult offered to him!”

“Ah!” exclaimed the prebendary, turning with a wild, triumphant laugh
to Baron Arnstein, “did I not tell you that the prince was concealed in
your house?”

“Concealed!” ejaculated the prince, approaching his adversary with eyes
sparkling with rage. “Repeat that word if you dare!”

“I shall do so,” said the prebendary, with defiant coolness. “You were
concealed in this house, for nobody knew of your presence, neither
the steward nor the baron. You had crept into the house like a thief
intending to steal valuables, and this, indeed, was your intention, too;
however, you did not want to purloin the diamonds of the fair baroness,
but--”

“I forbid you to mention the name of the baroness!” exclaimed the
prince, proudly.

“And I implore you not to compromise the baroness by connecting her
with your quarrel,” whispered Baron Arnstein in the prince’s ear; then
turning to the prebendary, whose eyes were fixed on the prince with a
threatening and defiant expression, he said:

“You are mistaken, sir; Prince Charles von Lichtenstein did not come
here in a stealthy manner. He wished to pay a visit to the baroness, and
the latter, as you know, being absent from home, the prince did me the
honor to converse with me in that room, when we were interrupted all at
once by the noise which you were pleased to make in the reception-room
here.”

“And being in that room, you were pleased to enter the reception-room
through THIS door,” said the prebendary, sneeringly, pointing to the two
opposite doors. “But why did not the prince accompany you? It would have
been so natural for one friend of the baroness to greet the other!”

“I did not come because I heard that YOU were there,” said the prince,
disdainfully, “and because I am in the habit of avoiding any contact
with your person.”

“Ah, you are jealous of me, then?” asked the prebendary. “Why is my
person so distasteful to you that you should always escape from me?”

“I escape from no one, not even from venomous serpents, nor from an
individual like you,” said the prince, haughtily. “I avoided you,
however, because I dislike your nose. Do you hear, my impertinent little
prebendary? I dislike your nose, and I demand that you never let me see
it again!”

“Ah, I understand,” replied the prebendary, laughing. “In order to spare
the feelings of the fair baroness, and not to injure her reputation.
Pardon me, for, in spite of your prohibition, I am constantly compelled
to defer to this amiable lady. You wish to give another direction to our
quarrel, and my innocent nose is to be the BETE DE SOUFFRANCE. But
you shall not entrap me in this manner, prince; and you, my dear Baron
Arnstein, can you allow us to continue the quarrel which we commenced
about your lady, now about my nose, and to conceal, as it were, the fair
Baroness Arnstein behind it?”

“Baroness Arnstein has no reason whatever to conceal herself,” said the
baron, coldly and proudly. “As she was not the cause of this quarrel,
I do not know why you are constantly dragging her name into it. You
behaved here in so unbecoming a manner, that I had to come to the
assistance of my steward. You were then pleased to utter insults against
the Prince von Lichtenstein in his absence, and being in the adjoining
room and overhearing your offensive remarks, he came to call you to
account for them.”

“And to tell you that I dislike your nose, and that I must take the
liberty to amputate its impertinent tip with my sword,” exclaimed the
prince, pulling the prebendary’s nose.

It was now the prebendary’s turn to grow pale, while his eyes flashed
with anger. “You dare to insult me?” he asked menacingly.

“Yes, I confess that is exactly my intention!” replied the prince,
laughing.

“Ah, you will have to give me satisfaction for this insult!” shouted the
prebendary.

“With the greatest pleasure,” said the prince. “This is not the place,
however, to continue this conversation. Come, sir, let us leave this
house together in order to make the necessary arrangements--”

At this moment the folding-doors of the anteroom were opened, and the
voice of the steward shouted: “The baroness!”

An exclamation of surprise escaped from the lips of the three gentlemen,
and their eyes turned toward the door, the threshold of which Fanny
Arnstein was crossing at that moment. She seemed just to have returned
home; her tall form was still wrapped in a long Turkish shawl,
embroidered with gold; a charming little bonnet, adorned with flowers
and plumes, covered her head, and in her hand she held one of those
large costly fans, adorned with precious stones, which were in use at
that time in the place of parasols. She greeted the gentlemen with a
winning smile; not the slightest tinge of care or uneasiness was visible
in her merry face; not the faintest glimmer of a tear darkened the
lustre of her large black eyes.

“Gentlemen will please accept my apology for making them wait, although
this is the hour when I am in the habit of receiving visitors,” said
the baroness, in a perfectly careless manner. “But I hope my husband has
taken my place in the mean time and told you that I had to preside over
a meeting of our Hebrew Benevolent Society, and you will acknowledge
that that was a duty which I ought not to have failed to fulfil. Ah, you
smile, Baron Weichs; you must explain to me what is the meaning of
this smile, if you wish to intimate thereby, perhaps, that there are no
important duties at all for us ladies to perform. Come, gentlemen, let
us sit down and hear in what manner Baron Weichs will be able to defend
his smile. Sit down here on my right side, prince, and you, Baron
Weichs, on my left, and my husband may take a seat opposite us and play
the role of an arbiter.”

“I regret that I cannot comply any longer with your amiable invitation,”
 said the prebendary, gloomily. “You have made me wait too long,
baroness; my time has now expired, and I must withdraw. I suppose you
will accompany me, Prince Lichtenstein?”

“Yes, I shall accompany you,” said the prince, “for unfortunately my
time has also expired, and I must go.”

“Oh, no,” exclaimed the baroness, smiling, “you must stay here, prince.
I dare not prevent the prebendary from attending to his important
affairs, but you, prince, have no such pretext for leaving me; I
therefore order you to remain and to tell me all about yesterday’s
concert at the imperial palace.”

“I regret exceedingly that I am unable to obey your orders,” said the
prince, mournfully. “But I must go. You just said, dear lady, that an
important duty had kept you away from home; well, it is an important
duty that calls me away from here; hence I cannot stay. Farewell, and
permit me to kiss your hand before leaving you.”

She gave him her hand, which was as cold as ice and trembled violently
when he took it. He pressed his glowing lips upon this hand and looked
up to her. Their eyes met in a last, tender glance; the prince then rose
and turned toward the prebendary, who was conversing with Baron Arnstein
in a low and excited tone.

“Come, sir, let us go,” he said, impetuously, and walked toward the
door.

“Yes, let us go,” repeated the prebendary, and bowing profoundly to the
baroness, he turned around and followed the prince.

Fanny, who was evidently a prey to the most excruciating anguish,
followed them with her distended, terrified eyes. When the door closed
behind them, she hastily laid her hand on her husband’s shoulder, and
looked at him with an air of unutterable terror.

“They will fight a duel?” she asked.

“I am afraid so,” said the baron, gloomily.

The baroness uttered a shriek, and after tottering back a few steps, she
fell senseless to the floor. Early on the following morning, four men
with grave faces and gloomy eyes stood in the thicket of a forest not
far from Vienna.

Two of them were just about divesting themselves of their heavy coats,
embroidered with gold, in order to meet in mortal combat, their bare
breasts only protected by their fine cambric shirts. These two men were
Prince Charles von Lichtenstein and the prebendary, Baron Weichs.

The other two gentlemen were engaged in loading the pistols and counting
off the steps; they were Baron Arnstein and Count Palfy, the seconds
of the two duellists. When they had performed this mournful task, they
approached the two adversaries in order to make a last effort to bring
about a reconciliation.

“I implore you in my own name,” whispered Baron Arnstein in the ear of
the Prince von Lichtenstein--“I implore you in the name of my wife, if a
reconciliation should be possible, accept it, and avoid by all means so
deplorable an event. Remember that the honor of a lady is compromised so
easily and irretrievably, and that my wife would never forgive herself
if she should become, perhaps, the innocent cause of your death.”

“Nobody will find out that we fight a duel for her sake,” said the
prince. “My honor requires me to give that impertinent fellow a
well-deserved lesson, and he shall have it!”

Count Palfy, the prebendary’s second, approached them. “If your
highness should be willing to ask Baron Weichs to excuse your conduct
on yesterday, the baron would be ready to accept your apology and to
withdraw his challenge.”

“I have no apology to offer,” exclaimed the prince, loudly, “and I
am unwilling to prevent the duel from taking its course. I told the
prebendary that I disliked his nose, and that I wished to amputate its
impertinent tip. Well, I am now here to perform this operation, and if
you please, let us at once proceed to business.”

“Yes, let us do so,” shouted the prebendary. “Give us the pistols,
gentlemen, and then the signal. When you clap for the third time,
we shall shoot simultaneously. Pray for your poor soul, Prince von
Lichtenstein, for I am a dead shot at one hundred yards, and our
distance will only be twenty paces.”

The prince made no reply, but took the pistol which his second handed to
him. “If I should fall,” he whispered to him, “take my last greetings to
your wife, and tell her that I died with her name on my lips!”

“If I should fall,” said the prebendary to his second, in an undertone,
but loud enough for his opponent to hear every word he said, “tell the
dear city of Vienna and my friends that I have fought a duel with
Prince Lichtenstein because he was my rival with the beautiful Baroness
Arnstein, and that I have died with the conviction that he was the lover
of the fair lady.”

A pause ensued. The seconds conducted the two gentlemen to their
designated places and then stood back, in order to give the fatal
signals.

When they clapped for the first time, the two duellists raised the hand
with the pistol, fixing their angry and threatening eyes on each other.

Then followed the second, the third signal.

Two shots were fired at the same time.

The prebendary stood firmly and calmly where he had discharged his
weapon, the same defiant smile playing on his lips, and the same
threatening expression beaming in his eyes.

Prince Charles von Lichtenstein lay on the ground, reddening the earth
with the blood which was rushing from his breast. When Baron Arnstein
bent over him, he raised his eyes with a last look toward him. “Take her
my last love-greetings,” he breathed, in a scarcely audible voice. “Tell
her that I--”

His voice gave way, and with the last awful death-rattle a stream of
blood poured from his mouth.

“Hasten to save yourself,” shouted Count Palfy to the prebendary,
who had been looking at the dying man from his stand-point with cold,
inquisitive glances. “Flee, for you have killed the prince; he has
already ceased to breathe. Flee! In the shrubbery below you will find my
carriage, which will convey you rapidly to the next post-station.”

“He is dead and I am alive!” said the prebendary, quietly. “It would not
have been worth while to die for the sake of a woman because she has
got another lover. It is much wiser in such cases to kill the rival, and
thus to remove the obstacle separating us from the woman. But I shall
not escape; on the contrary, I shall go to the emperor myself, and
inform him of what has occurred here. We are living in times of war and
carnage, and a soul more or less is, therefore, of no great importance.
Inasmuch as the emperor constantly sends hundreds of thousands of his
innocent and harmless subjects to fight duels with enemies of whom
they do not even know why they are their enemies, he will deem it but a
matter of course that two of his subjects, who know very well why they
are enemies, should fight a duel, and hence I am sure that his majesty
will forgive me. Brave and intrepid men are not sent to the fortress. I
shall not flee!”



CHAPTER XXXIX.

THE LEGACY.


Three days had passed since that unfortunate event. Early on this, the
third day, the corpse of the prince had been conveyed to the tomb of
his family; a large and brilliant funeral procession had accompanied
the coffin; even the carriages of the emperor, the archdukes, and high
dignitaries of the state had participated in the procession, and the
Viennese, who for three days had spoken of nothing else but the tragic
end of the young and handsome Prince Charles von Lichtenstein, derived
some satisfaction from the conviction that they were sharing the
sympathy of the imperial family for the deceased; thousands of them
consequently joined the procession and accompanied the coffin.

But this manifestation of sympathy did not seem sufficient to the
good-hearted and hot-blooded people. They did not merely wish to show
their love for the deceased; they also wanted to manifest their hatred
against the man who had slain him; and, on their return from the
funeral, the people rushed to the Kohlmarkt and gathered with loud
shouts and savage threats in front of the house of the prebendary, Baron
Weichs.

It was reported that the prebendary, whom the people charged with having
assassinated Prince Lichtenstein, was constantly in Vienna; and as this
fact seemed to indicate that the emperor did not intend to punish his
misdeed, the people wanted to take it upon themselves to chastise him,
or to give him at least a proof of the public hatred.

“Smash the murderer’s windows!” shouted the people, who were constantly
reenforced by fresh crowds appearing on the Kohlmarkt. And, passing
from threats to deeds, hundreds and hundreds of busy hands tore up the
pavement in order to hurl the stones at the house and windows of the
prebendary. And the rattling of the windows, the loud noise of the
stones glancing off on the walls, increased the rage and exasperation
of the people. Soon they were no longer contented with doing this, but
wished to get hold of the malefactor himself, and to punish him for his
crime. The crowd rushed with wild clamor toward the closed street-door
of the baron’s house; one among them quickly climbed on the shoulders of
another, in order to tear down the coat-of-arms of the prebendary,
fixed over the entrance, and thundering applause greeted him when he had
accomplished his purpose. The infuriated men then commenced striking
at the door itself, which offered, however, to all attacks, a firm and
unyielding resistance.

Suddenly a stern, imperious voice shouted: “Stop! Stand back! stand
back!”

The people turned around in terror, and discovered only then that a
carriage, surrounded and followed by twenty mounted policemen,
was approaching from the alley on which the principal door of the
prebendary’s house was situated. This carriage, with its sinister
escort, could make but slow headway through the dense mass of the
people, who looked inquisitively through the lowered windows into
the interior of the coach. Every one was able to recognize the three
gentlemen who were seated in the carriage, and who were none other than
the prebendary, Baron Weichs, and two of the best known and most feared
high functionaries of the police. The baron’s face was pale and gloomy,
but the defiant, impudent smile was still playing on his thin lips. He
looked, with an air of boundless contempt, at the crowd surging around
his carriage and staring at him as if it wished to read in his pale
features the sentence that had been pronounced against him.

“How inquisitive is the populace!” said the prebendary, disdainfully.
“They are so anxious to find out whether I am now being conveyed to the
place of execution, which would be a most welcome spectacle for them.
You ought to have mercy on this amiable rabble, gentlemen, and inform
them of the evil tidings that I have unfortunately not been sentenced to
be hanged on the gallows, nor to be broken on the wheel, but only to
be imprisoned in a fortress for ten years, which I shall pass at the
beautiful citadel of Komorn.”

The two officers only replied to him by silently nodding, and the
carriage passed on. But some compassionate and talkative police agent
had informed the people that the emperor had sentenced the prebendary,
Baron Weichs, to ten years’ imprisonment in a fortress, and that he
was at this moment on his way to Komorn. The people received this
intelligence with jubilant shouts, and dispersed through the city in
order to inform their friends and acquaintances of the welcome news,
and then to go home, well satisfied with the day’s amusements and
diversions.

And the waves of life closed over the lamentable event, and carried
it down into the abyss of oblivion. A few days passed by, and another
occurrence caused the colloquies concerning the duel of Prince
Lichtenstein and what had brought it about to cease, as some new subject
of conversation took its place.

One heart alone did not console itself so rapidly; one soul alone
bewailed him on comfortless days and restless nights, and paid to him
the tribute of tears and sighs. Since that last meeting with the prince,
Fanny Arnstein had not left her cabinet again; its doors had been closed
against everybody, and she had wept and sighed there during these three
days, without taking a morsel of food.

Vainly had her husband often come to her door in order to implore her to
open it at last, and to take some nourishment. Fanny had never answered
him; and if he had not, constantly and stealthily returning to her
door at night, heard her low sobs and half-loud wailing, he would have
believed that grief had killed her, and that love had intended to unite
her in heaven with him to whom her heart belonged, as they had been so
hopelessly separated on earth.

To-day, after the prince’s funeral, the baron again entered the
reception-room adjoining his wife’s cabinet, but this time he did not
come alone. A lady, whose face was covered with a large black veil,
accompanied him, and walked at his side to the constantly closed door.

The baron knocked at this door, and begged his wife, in words of
heart-felt sympathy, to open it to him.

There was no reply; not a word was heard from the unhappy baroness.

“You see, your highness,” whispered the baron, turning to the veiled
lady, “it is as I told you. All prayers are in vain; she does not leave
her room; she will die of grief.”

“No, she will not die,” said the lady, “she is young, and youth survives
all grief. Let me try if I cannot induce her to admit us.”

And she knocked at the door with bold fingers, and exclaimed: “Pray,
Fanny, open the door, and let me come in. It is I, Princess Eibenberg;
it is I, your friend, Marianne Meier; I want to see my dear Fanny
Itzig.”

Every thing remained silent; nothing stirred behind that locked door.
Marianne removed her veil, and showed her proud, pale countenance to the
baron.

“Baron,” she said, gravely, “at this hour I forgive you the insult and
contempt you hurled at me five years ago on your wedding-day. Fate has
avenged me and punished you cruelly, for I see that you have suffered
a great deal during the last three days. My heart does not bear you any
ill-will now, and I will try to restore your beautiful and unhappy wife
to you, and to console her. But I must request you to leave this room. I
know a charm, by which I shall decoy Fanny from that room; but in order
to do so I must be alone, and nobody, save herself, must be able to hear
me.”

“Very well, I will go,” said the baron, mournfully. “But permit me first
to ask you to do me a favor. My request will prove to you the confidence
I repose in you. Please do not tell Fanny that you saw me sad and deeply
moved; do not intimate any thing to her about my own grief.”

“She will perceive herself, from your pale face and hollow cheeks, poor
baron!” exclaimed Marianne.

“No, she is not accustomed to look at me attentively; it will escape
her,” said the baron, sadly, “and I would not have it appear as though
I were suffering by her grief, which I deem but natural and just. I beg
you, therefore, to say nothing about me.”

“I shall fulfil your wish,” said Marianne. “Fanny will, perhaps, thank
you one day for the delicacy with which you are now behaving toward her.
But go now, so that I may call her.”

The baron left the room, and Marianne returned to the door. “Fanny,”
 she said, “come to me, or open the door and let me walk in. I have
to deliver to you a message and a letter from Prince Charles von
Lichtenstein.”

Now a low cry from the cabinet was heard; the bolt was drawn back, the
door opened, and Baroness Arnstein appeared on the threshold. Her face
was as pale as marble; her eyes, reddened by weeping, lay deeply in
their orbits; her black, dishevelled hair fell down on her back like a
long mourning veil. She was still beautiful and lovely, but hers was now
the beauty of a Magdalen.

“You bring me a message from him?” she asked, in a low, tremulous voice,
and with tearful eyes.

“Yes, Fanny,” said Marianne, scarcely able to overcome her own emotion,
“I bring you his last love-greetings. He believed that he would fall,
and on that fatal morning, before repairing to the duelling-grounds, he
paid me a visit. We had long been acquainted and intimate; both of us
had a great, common goal in view; both of us were pursuing the same
paths; this was the origin of our acquaintance. He knew, too, that I had
been a friend of yours from your childhood, and he therefore intrusted
to me his last message to you. Here, Fanny, this small box contains all
the little souvenirs and love-tokens which he has received from you, and
which he deemed much too precious to destroy or to take into his grave;
hence he requests you to preserve them. They consist of withered flowers
which you once gave him, of a ribbon which you lost, of a few notes
which you wrote to him, and from which the malicious and slanderous
world might perceive the harmless and innocent character of your
intercourse, and, last, of your miniature, painted by the prince
himself, from memory. This casket the prince requests you to accept as
his legacy. It is a set of pearls, an heirloom of his family, which his
dying mother once gave to him in order to adorn with it his bride on his
wedding-day. The prince sends it to you and implores you to wear it as
a souvenir from him, because you were the bride of his heart. And here,
Fanny, here is a letter from him, the last lines he ever wrote, and they
are addressed to you.”

The baroness uttered a cry of joy; seizing the paper with passionate
violence, she pressed it to her lips, and knelt down with it.

“I thank Thee, my God, I thank Thee!” she murmured, in a low voice.
“Thou hast sent me this consolation! Thou dost not want me to die of
despair!”

And now, still remaining on her knees, she slowly unfolded the paper and
read this last glowing farewell, this last tender protestation of his
love, with which the prince took leave of her.

Marianne stood, with folded arms, in a bay window, watching her friend
with grave, sympathetic eyes, and beheld the pallor and blushes which
appeared in quick succession on her cheeks, the impetuous heaving of her
bosom, the tremor of her whole frame, and the tears pouring down like
rivers from Fanny’s eyes on the paper, with a mingled feeling of pity
and astonishment.

“It must be beautiful to be able to love in such a manner,” she thought.
“Beautiful, too, to be able to suffer thus. Enviable the women living
with their hearts and deriving from them alone their happiness and
grief. Such a lot has not fallen to MY share, and I am almost afraid
that I do not love any thing but myself. My life is concentrated in my
head, and my blood only rushes from the latter to my heart. Who is more
to be pitied, Fanny with the grief of her love, or I, who will never
know such a grief? But she has wept now, and her tears might finally
cause me to weep, too, and to awaken my love. That must not be, however.
One who has to pursue great plans, like myself, must keep a cool head
and a cold heart.”

And she approached with quick steps the baroness, who was yet on her
knees, reading and re-reading the farewell letter of the prince.

“Rise from your knees, Fanny,” she said, almost imperiously. “You have
paid the tribute of your tears to the departed friend, you have wept for
him for three days; now bury the past in your heart and think of your
future, my poor girl.”

“My future?” said Fanny, permitting her friend to raise her gently. “My
future is broken and darkened forever, and there is a cloud on my name,
which will never leave it. Oh, why is there no convent for the Jewess,
no lonely cell whither she might take refuge, with her unhappiness and
disgrace?”

“Do as I have done,” said Marianne; “let the whole world be your
convent, and your reception-room the cell in which you do penance, by
compelling men to kneel before you and adore you, instead of kneeling
yourself, and mortifying your flesh. Lay your unhappiness and your
disgrace like a halo around your head, and boldly meet the world with
open eyes and a proud mien. If you were poor and nameless I should
seriously advise you to become a Catholic, and to take refuge in a
convent. But you are rich; you bear a distinguished, aristocratic name;
your husband is able to give sumptuous dinner-parties; consequently
people will pardon his wife for having become the heroine of an
unfortunate romance, and they will take good care not to turn their
backs on nor to point their fingers at you; and whenever you pass them
in the street, not to laugh scornfully and tell your history in an
audible voice. I, my child, formerly had to bear such contumely and
humiliation, and I took a solemn oath at that time that I would revenge
myself upon this world, which believed it had a right to despise
me--that I would revenge myself by becoming its equal. And I have
fulfilled my oath; I am now a princess and a highness. The proud world
that once scorned me now bows to me; the most virtuous and aristocratic
ladies do not deem it derogatory to their dignity to appear in my
reception-room; the most distinguished princes and cavaliers court the
friendship and favor of the Princess von Eibenberg, nee Marianne Meier.
Follow my example, therefore, Fanny; brave the world, appear in your
reception-room with serene calmness and ease; give even more sumptuous
dinner-parties than heretofore, and the small cloud now darkening your
name will pass by unnoticed. People will come at first from motives
of curiosity, in order to see how you bear your affliction and how you
behave under the eclat produced by the deplorable occurrence; next they
will come because your dinners are so very excellent, and because
this and that princess or countess, this and that prince, minister, or
general, do not disdain to appear in your reception-room, and thus the
whole affair will gradually be forgotten.”

“But my heart will not forget it,” said the baroness, mournfully; “my
heart will never cease to weep for him, and when my heart is weeping,
my eyes will not laugh. You have had the courage to conceal your tears
under a smile, and not to suffer your head to be weighed down by the
disgrace and contumely which they tried to heap on it. I shall have
the courage not to conceal my tears, and to walk about, bending my head
under the disgrace and contumely which have undeservedly fallen to
my share. If I were guiltier, I should be able, perhaps, to brave the
world; but having to mourn, not over a guilty action, but only over a
misfortune, I shall weep! Let the world condemn me for it; I shall not
hear its judgment, for I shall retire into solitude.”

“Oh, you foolish woman!” exclaimed Marianne, fervently.

“Yes, foolish, because you believe already at the beginning of your life
that you are done with it. My child, the human heart is much too weak to
be able to bear such a grief for many years. It gradually grows tired of
it and finally drops it, and perceives then all at once that it is quite
empty. Tedium, with its long spider-legs, will then creep over you and
draw its dusty network around and no one will tear away this network,
because nobody will be there to do this salutary service, for you will
have driven people away from your side and preferred loneliness to their
society. Beware of solitude, or rather learn to be alone in the midst of
the world, but not in the privacy of your deserted boudoir. You have
to fulfil a beautiful and grand mission here in Vienna. You have to
emancipate the Jews--in a manner, however, different from the course I
have pursued. I have proved to the foolish world that a Jewess may
very well be a princess and worthily represent her exalted rank,
notwithstanding her oriental blood and curved nose; but in order to
be able to prove it to the world, I had to give up my religion and
to desert my people. It is your mission to finish the work I have
commenced, and to secure to the Jews a distinguished and undisputed
place in society. You shall be the mediator between the aristocracy of
blood and of pedigree and the aristocracy of money--the mediator between
the Christians and the Jews. You shall give to the Jews here in Vienna
a position such as they are justly entitled to: free, respected, and
emancipated from the degrading yoke of prejudices. Such is your mission.
Go and fulfil it!”

“You are right, Marianne,” replied Fanny, with glowing enthusiasm. “I
will fulfil the mission, for it is a grand and sacred one, and it
will comfort and strengthen my heart. The happiness of my life is gone
forever; but I may, perhaps, be happy in my unhappiness, and I will now
try to become so by consoling the unhappy, by assisting the suffering,
and by giving an asylum to the disowned and proscribed. To dry tears, to
distribute alms, and to scatter joy and happiness around me--that shall
be the balm with which I will heal the wounds of my heart. You are
right; I will not retire from the world, but I will compel it to respect
me; I will not flee with my grief into solitude, but I will remain with
it in the midst of society, a comfort to all sufferers, a refuge to all
needing my assistance!” [Footnote: Fanny von Arnstein kept her word. Her
house became the centre of the most distinguished intellectual life;
her hands were always open and ready to scatter charities and to spread
blessings. She did not, however, give merely with her hands, but also
with her heart, and only thereby she became a true benefactress; for she
added to her gifts that pity and sagacity which know how to appreciate
the true sort of relief. To many people she secured lasting happiness;
to many she opened the road to wealth, and to some she gave sums
which, in themselves, were equivalent to an independent fortune. Her
hospitality equalled her benevolence, and she exercised it with rare
amiability and to a remarkable extent. Every day numerous guests were
received in her house in the city as well as in her villa, where
they enjoyed the advantages of the most attractive, enlightened, and
distinguished society.]

“That is right! I like to hear you talk thus,” exclaimed Marianne,
embracing her friend, and tenderly pressing her to her heart. “Now my
fears for you are gone, and I may bid you farewell with a reassured and
comforted heart. My travelling-coach is waiting for me, and I shall set
out in the course of the present hour.”

“And where are you going?” asked Fanny, sympathetically.

“That is a secret--a profound political secret,” said Marianne, smiling;
“but I will confide it to you as a proof of my love. I go to Paris for
the purpose of delivering to the first consul a letter from the poor
Count de Provence, whom the royalists, and consequently myself, also
call King Louis the Eighteenth of France. That, Fanny, is the legacy
Prince Charles von Lichtenstein has bequeathed to ME. Through him I
became acquainted with some of those noble emigres who preferred to
give up their country and their possessions, and to wander about foreign
lands without a home, instead of proving faithless to their king, and of
obeying that despotic republic and the tyrant who now lays his iron
hand upon France. It was the Prince von Lichtenstein who, two weeks ago,
brought the Duke d’Enghien to me, and initiated me into the great plans
of the unfortunate Bourbons.”

“The Duke d’Enghien was here in Vienna?” asked Fanny, in surprise.

“Yes, he was here; he kept himself concealed in the palace of your
friend Lichtenstein, and only his devoted adherents knew where he was.
The prince belonged to his most enthusiastic followers and friends. Oh,
what plans those two fiery young men conceived in the safe asylum of my
reception-room! what great things did they expect from the future for
the cause of the Bourbons and for France! You ought to have see Prince
Charles von Lichtenstein in such hours, Fanny; then you would have
really understood and boundlessly loved him. His cheeks, then, were
glowing with noble impetuosity; his eyes flashed fire, and sublime words
of soul-stirring eloquence dropped from his lips. Never has an enemy
been hated more ardently than he hated Bonaparte, the first consul;
never has a cause been more passionately adhered to than the cause of
his unhappy fatherland and that of the exiled Bourbons. If the Count de
Provence could boast of a hundred such defenders as was the Prince von
Lichtenstein, he would have reconstructed the throne of the fleur-de-lis
within a week in Paris. Dry your tears, Fanny, for you are not most to
be pitied. You only lost a lover, but the Bourbons lost a champion and
Germany a true and valorous son; these two are more to be pitied than
you. You may find a hundred other lovers, if such should be your desire,
but the Bourbons have but few champions, and the number of the true and
noble sons of Germany is constantly on the decrease.”

“And he said nothing to me about his plans and hopes?” exclaimed Fanny,
reproachfully. “He never made me suspect that--”

“That he had not only a heart for love, but also for politics and for
the cause of the fatherland!” interrupted Marianne, smiling. “My child,
he loved with his heart; hence, so long as he was with you, all the
schemes of his head were silent. Still he knew that the beloved of his
heart was able and worthy, too, to be the friend of his head; and when
he took leave of me, he instructed me to initiate you into all his
plans, and to let you participate in his hopes. Fanny, your friend
greets you through my mouth; he wishes to transfer his love and his
hatred, now that he has left us forever to yourself. As he was a
faithful son of his German fatherland, you shall be its faithful
daughter and guardian, and watch over the welfare of your country, and
devote yourself to its service with your whole strength. As he was an
inexorable enemy of that new, blood-stained France and of her dictator,
you shall forswear all connection with that country, which soon will
pour its torrents of blood and fire over our own unhappy fatherland. You
shall do whatever will serve and be useful to the fatherland, and you
shall abhor, persecute, and combat every menace to subjugate Germany.
Your house shall be open to all German patriots; it shall be closed
against all enemies of Germany, no matter whether they are Germans
or French, or to whatever nation they may belong. Such, Fanny, is the
legacy which Prince Charles von Lichtenstein, the noble German patriot,
has bequeathed to you with his love, and which is to comfort and
strengthen you in your grief.”

“I accept this legacy,” exclaimed Fanny, radiant with enthusiasm. “Yes,
I accept this legacy and will fulfil it faithfully! To Germany I will
transfer the love which I once devoted to him; I will love and honor
him in each of our German brethren. Like him, I will hate the enemies
of Germany, and never shall my house be opened to them--never shall they
cross its threshold as welcome guests! As I cannot be a happy wife, I
will try to be a faithful daughter of my country, to love its friends
faithfully, and to hate its enemies bitterly!”

“That is right,” said Marianne, joyfully. “Now you have received your
best consolation, and the grief of your love will be transformed into
deeds of love. The blessing of your departed friend will be with you,
and the love of your fatherland will reward you for what you will do
for it. And you shall assist our despised and down-trodden Jews, too,
by proving to those who scorn us and contemptuously treat us as aliens,
that we feel like natives and children of the country in which we were
born, and that we do not seek for our Jerusalem in the distant Orient,
but in the fatherland we share with all other Germans. Let us prove to
these Christians that we also are good patriots, and that we love our
fatherland like them, and are ready to make any sacrifice which it may
require from us.”

“Yes, I will prove that I am a good patriot as he was a good patriot,”
 said Fanny, enthusiastically. “I will hate whatever he hated; I will
love whatever he loved!”

“Amen!” exclaimed Marianne, solemnly. “And now, farewell, Fanny. I go to
fulfil the legacy which Prince von Lichtenstein has bequeathed to me.
He had taken it upon himself to deliver this letter to Bonaparte, and to
see what the Bourbons have to expect from him, and whether Bonaparte is
a Monk or a Cromwell. I fear the latter. The Bourbons and Lichtenstein
hoped for the former. They believed he would be the Monk of the
restoration, and he had only placed himself so near the throne in order
to restore the latter to Louis XVIII., as Monk had done in relation to
Charles II. Well, we shall see! I will go now and deliver the letter
which Prince Lichtenstein has intrusted to me. Farewell, Fanny, and
remember your legacy!”

“I shall remember it as long as I live,” said Fanny, fervently. “And as
I never shall forget my love, I shall never forget my fatherland either.
Both shall live indissolubly united in my heart!” [Footnote: The
history of Baroness Arnstein and the tragic end of Prince Charles von
Lichtenstein do not belong to romance, but to reality, and created a
great sensation at that time. Every one in Vienna knew that love for
Baroness Arnstein had been the cause of the duel and of the death of the
Prince von Lichtenstein, but every one knew also that Fanny von Arnstein
was not to blame for this event; hence the sympathy and compassion felt
for the unhappy lady were universal. The imperial court and the city
took pains to do homage to her and to manifest their respect for her.
But Baroness Arnstein was not to be consoled by such proofs of public
sympathy; the affliction which had befallen her was too terrible, and
she did not endeavor to conceal her grief. She caused the cabinet in
which he had seen her on the day preceding his death to be hung in black
like a death-room; all the souvenirs and every thing reminding her of
him were preserved in this room. She spent there every anniversary of
his death in deep mourning, and at other times she frequently retired
thither to pray for him. Except herself no one was ever permitted to
enter this cabinet, consecrated as an altar for the religion of her
reminiscences.--Vide Varnhagen von Ense’s Miscellanies, vol. i., p.
112.]



CHAPTER XL.

THE FIRST CONSUL.


“Then you have seen and conversed with our poor, unhappy king?” said
Madame Bonaparte to the beautiful and richly-dressed lady who was
sitting on the sofa at her side, and who was none other than the
Princess Marianne von Eibenberg.

“Yes, madame, I have often had the good fortune to converse long with
him,” said the princess, heaving a sigh. “I passed a few weeks in his
neighborhood, and touched by his resignation, his unfaltering patience,
and calm greatness, I offered him my mediation; I wished to be the
messenger whom the poor unfortunate would send out in order to see
whether the shores of his country will never again be visible to him,
and whether the great and intrepid pilot who is now steering the ship
of France with so firm a hand has no room left for the poor shipwrecked
man. The Count de Provence accepted my services; he gave me a letter
which I was to deliver to the First Consul himself, and I set out for
Paris provided with numerous and most satisfactory recommendations. All
these recommendations, however, were useless; even the intercession of
Minister Talleyrand was in vain; the First Consul refused to grant me an
audience.”

“He had been told, perhaps, how beautiful and charming a messenger had
been this time sent to him by the Count de Provence,” said Josephine,
smiling, “and he was, therefore, afraid of you, madame. For Bonaparte,
the most intrepid hero in battle, is quite timid and bashful in the
presence of beautiful ladies, and not having the strength to withstand
your smiles and prayers, he evades you and refuses to see you.”

“Oh, madame,” exclaimed the princess, quickly, “if the First Consul is
unable to resist the smiles of the most beautiful lady, I predict to you
an even more brilliant future; for in that case he will lay the whole
world at your feet to do you homage. He who has remained at the side of
Josephine a hero and a man of iron will, need not fear the beauty of any
other woman.”

“You know how to flatter,” said Josephine, smiling. “You forget,
however, that we are in a republic here, and that there is no court with
courtiers in the Tuileries, but merely the humble household of a citizen
and general, which, I trust, will soon give way to the splendor of
royalty.”

“Do you believe so, madame?” asked the princess, eagerly. “Do you
believe that the hopes which the Count de Provence has built on the
noble and grand spirit of General Bonaparte are not illusory? Oh, let us
be frank and sincere toward each other, for I know you sympathize with
the sufferings of the royal family, and the terrible misfortunes of the
august exiles find an echo in your heart. Hence, when I did not succeed
in obtaining an interview with the First Consul, and in delivering my
letter to him in person, I applied to you, and the Count de Provence
himself authorized me to do so. ‘If Bonaparte refuses to hear you,’
he said, ‘go to Josephine. Bring her the greetings of the Count
de Provence; remind her of the happy days of Versailles, where, as
Viscountess de Beauharnais, she was always welcome at the court of my
lamented brother. Ask her if she still remembers how often we joked and
laughed together at that time. Ask her whether my present misfortunes
shall last forever, or whether she, who holds my destiny in her hand,
will restore me to mirth and joy.’”

“Oh!” exclaimed Josephine, bursting into tears, “if I held his destiny
in my hand, he would not have to wait long for his throne and for
happiness. I should be the first to jubilantly welcome him to France,
the first to joyously leave these Tuileries, this royal palace, the
grandeur of which frightens me, and in the walls of which it always
seems to me as though I were a criminal adorning herself with stolen
property, and stretching out her hands toward the holy of holies. And
yet I am innocent of this outrage; my conscience is clear, and I am
able to say that King Louis XVIII. has no more devoted, faithful, and
obedient subject than the wife of the First Consul of France.”

“The king knows it, and depends on you,” said the princess. “Bonaparte’s
heart is in your hands; you alone are able to move it.”

“But do I know, then, whether he has yet a heart or not?” exclaimed
Josephine, passionately. “Do I know, then, if he loves any thing but his
glory? Man cannot serve two gods, and his god is glory. He soars aloft
with the glance of an eagle, and the radiance of the sun does not dazzle
him. Where will he finally rest and build his aerie? I do not know.
As yet no rock has been too lofty for him, no summit too steep and
sufficiently near the sun. I follow his flight with anxious eyes, but I
am unable to restrain him. I can only pray for him, for myself, and for
the unhappy king; I can only pray that the bold eagle may not finally
conclude that the vacant throne will be an aerie worthy of himself, and
occupy it.”

“But you believe that he will do so?” asked the princess, quickly.

“Oh, my dear,” replied Josephine, with a melancholy smile, “no one
is able to know at the present time, nay, even to conjecture, what
Bonaparte will do; no one, not even myself. His mind is impenetrable,
and he only speaks of what he has done, not of what he is going to do.
His plans lie inscrutable and silent in his breast, and nobody can boast
that he is aware of them. He knows that I am a royalist at heart, and he
often mocks me for it, but more frequently he is angry with me on this
account. Since the French people have elected him First Consul for life,
I see him tremble and frown whenever I dare to mention our exiled king,
and to call him our master. He has strictly ordered me to receive no
stranger unless he has given me permission to do so, and all friends
of mine, whom he knew to be enthusiastic royalists, have already been
banished by him. I must feign to forget all I owe to friendship and
gratitude, and yet all those cherished reminiscences will never be
effaced from my heart. But I must obey my master; for Bonaparte is no
longer only my husband, but he is also my master. Thus impeded in all
her inclinations, the wife of the First Consul must swallow her grief
and seem ungrateful, although she is not. State it to those who believe
my fate to be an enviable one; state it to the Count de Provence, who
deems my influence greater than it really is. He is, and always remains
for me, the legitimate king of France, and I call God to witness that I
do not long for the crown which is his legitimate property. I call
God to witness that I have improved every opportunity to promote the
interests of the Count de Provence, and that I have always taken pains
to remind Bonaparte of his duty to his legitimate king. But my success
has been insignificant, and to-day for the first time since a long
while I dare again to entertain a glimmer of hope. Bonaparte knew that I
wanted to receive you to-day, and he did not forbid it, although he
had already been informed that the Princess von Eibenberg was highly
esteemed as a devoted friend at the court of Coblentz, that she had
made a journey to Mitau for the express purpose of seeing the Count de
Provence, that she had been sent by the latter with letters and messages
to Paris, and that the Duke d’Enghien, who some time ago had secretly
been at Vienna, had been every day at your house.”

“What! The First Consul is aware of all that?” asked Marianne,
wonderingly.

“His spies serve him well,” said Josephine, heaving a sigh, “and
Bonaparte has got spies everywhere, even here in the Tuileries, here in
my own rooms--and I should not wonder if he should learn even within the
next quarter of an hour what we have conversed about here, although it
may have seemed to us as though we were alone.”

“But if the First Consul learns that the Count de Provence wants to
avail himself of my services for the purpose of promoting his interests
here in Paris, and if he has, nevertheless, permitted you to receive me,
it seems to me a favorable symptom,” said Marianne Eibenberg, musingly.

“Of course, he has some object in view in permitting it,” replied
Josephine, sighing, “but who knows what? I am unable to fathom his
intentions; I content myself with loving him, admiring him, and
endeavoring cautiously to lead him back to the path of duty. But
hush!” she interrupted herself all at once, “I hear steps in the small
corridor. It is Bonaparte! He comes hither. He will see that I have
wept, and he will be angry with me!”

And after breathing into her handkerchief in anxious haste, Josephine
pressed it against her eyes, and whispered tremblingly, “Can it be seen
that I have wept?”

Marianne was about replying to her, when quick steps were heard in the
adjoining room. “He is coming,” whispered Josephine, and she rose from
the sofa for the purpose of going to meet her husband. He just opened
the door by a quick pressure of his hand and appeared on the threshold.
His eyes swept with a quick glance over the room and seemed to pierce
every corner; a slight cloud covered his expansive marble forehead; his
thin lips were firmly compressed, and did not show the faintest tinge of
a smile.

“Ah, I did not know that there was a visitor with you, Josephine,” he
said, bowing to Marianne, who returned his salutation by a deep and
reverential obeisance, and then fixed her large dark eyes upon him with
an air of admiration.

“My friend,” said Josephine, with a fascinating smile, “the Princess
von Eibenberg has been recommended to me by persons of the highest
distinction, and I confess that I am very grateful to those who gave me
an opportunity to make the acquaintance of this beautiful and agreeable
lady. It is true, I hear that the princess is a native of Germany, but
she has got the heart of a Frenchwoman, and speaks our language better
than many of the ladies whom I hear here in the Tuileries.”

“Ah, she doubtless speaks that language of ancient France, which always
pleases you so well,” exclaimed Bonaparte; and now there appeared on his
finely formed lips a smile, illuminating and beautifying his face like
sunshine. “I suppose, madame,” he said, suddenly turning to Marianne,
“you have come hither in order to bring to my dear Josephine greetings
from a cavalier of that ancient France which has forever fallen to
ruins?”

“No, general,” said Marianne, whose radiant eyes were constantly and
fearlessly fixed on Bonaparte--“no, general, I have come hither in order
to admire the New France, and never shall I be able to thank Madame
Bonaparte sufficiently for the happiness she has procured me at this
moment. It is the first time in my life that I have been able to see a
great man, a hero!”

“And yet you were in Loudon and Mitau and there saw the Counts d’Artois
and Provence,” replied Bonaparte, sitting down in an arm-chair by
Marianne’s side, and requesting the ladies by a wave of his hand to
resume their seats on the sofa.

“And in Loudon, in Mitau, in Coblentz, everywhere they admire the hero
who has risen like a new sun with the young century!” said Marianne,
with irresistible grace.

“Those gentlemen of ancient France spoke of me, then?” asked Bonaparte.
“You see, madame, I speak without circumlocution. I am nothing but a
good soldier, and always strike directly at my aim. I have been told
that you have come hither as an emissary of the Bourbons, and I
confess to you that to-day for the first time I feel grateful to those
gentlemen, for they have made a very beautiful selection. The emissaries
sent hither heretofore were less beautiful and less amiable. Those
Bourbons know the foibles of the male heart better than anybody else,
and they want to fascinate me in order to seduce me afterward the more
surely.”

“Pardon me, general, they were not so bold as that,” said the princess,
smiling. “Let me say that I am not gifted with the magic power of
Armida, nor are you with the sentimental weakness of Rinaldo.”

“You do not deem me worthy to be compared with Rinaldo?” asked
Bonaparte, casting so glowing a glance on the fair emissary that
Josephine almost regretted having brought this fascinating beauty in
contact with her husband.

“I do not deem Rinaldo worthy to be compared with Bonaparte,” said the
princess, with a charming smile. “Rinaldo did not conquer any countries;
he did not cross the bridge of Arcole, holding aloft the waving colors;
he did not see the pyramids of Egypt; he did not conquer at Marengo!”

“Ah, madame, you seem to have a good memory,” exclaimed Bonaparte,
merrily, “and you do not only know ancient France, but are also quite
familiar with her recent history.”

“General, it is owing to you that the history of France is that of the
whole world, and that the victories of France signify the defeat of the
remainder of Europe. But you have brought about an even greater miracle,
for those whom you have vanquished do not hate you for it, but they
admire you, and while cursing their own misfortune, they are astonished
at your heroism and surpassing greatness as a military chieftain. There
is no one who does not share this feeling of admiration, and there is
no one who entertains it in a livelier manner than the two men who have
reason to complain most of France, and who do so least!”

“Ah, you skilfully return to the charge,” exclaimed Bonaparte, smiling.
“You would make a good general: you make a short cut on the field of
flattery and so reach the more rapidly the straight road on which you
want to meet the Counts de Provence and Artois in order to praise them
before me.”

“No, Bonaparte,” said Josephine, hastily, “the princess, on the
contrary, wishes to tell you how those gentlemen praise you, and with
how much admiration they speak of you.--Oh, pray, madame, repeat to
Bonaparte what the Count d’Artois told you the other day, and mention
the honors and distinctions he would like to confer on my husband.”

“Well, I should really like to know the honors and distinctions which
that little emigre, M. de Bourbon, is able to confer on the First Consul
of France,” said Bonaparte, with a sarcastic smile. “Tell me, madame,
what did the Count d’Artois say, and what that statement of yours is
that has filled the ambitious heart of Madame Bonaparte with so much
delight?”

“Oh, you want to mock me, my friend,” said Josephine, reproachfully.

“By no means, I am in dead earnest, and should like to know what the
pretenders did say about me. State to us, then, madame, with your
seductive voice, the tempting promises of the Bourbons.”

“General, there was no talk of promises, but of the admiration the Count
d’Artois felt for you,” said Marianne, almost timidly, and with downcast
eyes. “We conversed about politics in general, and Madame de Guiche, in
her charming innocence, took the liberty to ask the Count d’Artois how
the First Consul of France might be rewarded in case he should restore
the Bourbons.”

“Ah, you conversed about this favorite theme of the emigres, about the
restoration question!” said Bonaparte, shrugging his shoulders. “And
what did the prince reply?”

“The Count d’Artois replied: ‘In the first place, we should appoint the
first consul Connetable of France, if that would be agreeable to him.
But we should not believe that that would be a sufficient reward; we
should erect on the Place du Carrousel a lofty and magnificent column
to be surmounted by a statue of Bonaparte crowning the Bourbons!’”
 [Footnote: Las Cases, “Memorial de Sainte-Helene,” vol. i., p. 337.]

“Is not that a beautiful and sublime idea?” exclaimed Josephine,
joyfully, while the princess searchingly fixed her eyes on Bonaparte’s
face.

“Yes,” he said, calmly, “it is a very sublime idea; but what did you
reply, Josephine, when this was communicated to you?”

“What did I reply?” asked Josephine. “Good Heaven! what should I have
replied?”

“Well,” said Bonaparte, whose face now assumed a grave, stern
expression, “you might have replied, for instance, that the pedestal of
this beautiful column would have to be the corpse of the First Consul.”
 [Footnote: Bonaparte’s own words.--Ibid., vol. ii., p. 337.]

“Oh, Bonaparte, what a dreadful idea that is!” exclaimed Josephine, in
dismay--“dreadful and withal untrue, for did not the Count d’Artois say
the Bourbons would appoint you Connetable of France?”

“Yes, just as Charles II. of England conferred the title of duke on
Monk. I am no Monk, nor am I a Cromwell. I have not injured a single
hair on the head of the Bourbons, and my hand has not been stained by a
drop of the blood of the unfortunate king who had to atone for the sins
of his predecessors. He had ruined France, I saved her; and the example
of Monk teaches me to be cautious, for the English people had confided
in him, and he gave them a king who made them unhappy and oppressed
them for twenty years, and finally caused a new revolution; I want to
preserve France from the horrors of a new revolution, hence I do not
want to become another Monk.”

“And who should dare to compare you with Monk or Cromwell, general?”
 exclaimed Marianne. “If there is a man worthy to be compared with the
first consul of France, it is only the great Washington, the liberator
of America.”

“Ah, you think so because we are both presiding over a republic,”
 replied Bonaparte, with a sarcastic smile. “As I do not want to be a
Monk, it is hoped that I shall be a Washington. Words cost nothing, and
those who utter them so easily do not consider whether the circumstances
of the two nations, the time and occasion may be as well compared with
each other as those two names. If I were in America, it would be my
highest glory to be another Washington, and I should deserve but little
credit for it, after all, for I do not see how one could reasonably
pursue there any other course. But if Washington had been in France,
with its convulsions within and an invasion from abroad, I should not
have deemed it advisable for him to be himself; if he had insisted upon
remaining himself, he would have been an idol, and only prolonged the
misfortunes of France instead of saving the country.”

“You confess, then, that France ought not to remain a republic?” asked
Josephine, joyfully. “You want to restore the monarchy?”

“Wait for the things to come,” said Bonaparte, gravely. “To ask me
prematurely to do things incompatible with the present state of affairs
would be foolish; if I should announce or promise them it would look
like charlatanry and boasting, and I am not addicted to either.”

“But you give us hopes, at least, that you will do so one day, when the
time has come, I suppose, my friend?” said Josephine, tenderly. “You
will not let this beautiful lady depart from Paris without a kind and
comforting reply? She will not have entered the Tuileries, the house of
the kings, in order to be obliged to inform on her return those to whom
it justly belongs that there is no longer any room for them under the
roof which their fathers have built. I am sure, Bonaparte, you will not
send such a reply to the legitimate King of France from HIS OWN rooms.”

Josephine, glowing with excitement, had risen from her seat; stepping
close up to Bonaparte, she encircled his neck with her beautiful arms,
and laid her charming head on his shoulder.

“Oh, Josephine, what are you doing?” ejaculated Bonaparte, angrily.
“Will not the princess tell the Count de Provence that the Tuileries
are now inhabited by a downright bourgeois and hen-pecked husband, who
treats his wife sentimentally even in the presence of other persons,
and in return for her caresses has always to comply with her wishes? And
shall we not be laughed at, my child?”

“I should like to see the Titan who would dare to laugh at the First
Consul!” exclaimed Marianne, eagerly. “You would do like Jove; you would
hurl down the audacious scoffer into the abyss with a flash from your
eyes.”

Bonaparte fixed so long and glowing a look on the princess that Marianne
blushed, while the jealous heart of Josephine began to ache.

“Bonaparte, state the reply you are going to make to the Count de
Provence,” she said, anxious to withdraw his attention from the
contemplation of this fascinating beauty.

“A reply?” asked Bonaparte. “What shall I reply to?”

“General, to this letter, which the Count de Provence has intrusted
to me, and which I have solemnly pledged myself to deliver to you
personally,” said Marianne, handing Bonaparte a sealed paper, with an
imploring glance.

Bonaparte did not take it at once, but looked sternly at the two ladies
who stood before him, turning their beautiful and deeply moved faces
toward him with an air of supplication.

“It is a perfect conspiracy, then, ladies? A complete surprise of the
fortress?” he asked. “You want to compel me forcibly to open the gates
of my eyes to you? Do you not know, then, Josephine, that I have sworn
not to accept any letters from the Pretender, in order not to be obliged
to make a harsh reply to him?”

“Keep your oath, then,” said Josephine, smiling; “do not accept the
letter, but permit me to do so, and let me read the contents of the
letter to you.”

“Oh, women, women!” exclaimed Bonaparte, smiling. “They are born
sophists, and I believe they would be able to outwit the devil himself!
Well, I will comply with your request; take the letter and read it to
me.”

Josephine uttered a joyful cry, and took the letter from Marianne’s
hands. While she broke the seal and unfolded the paper, Bonaparte had
risen from his arm-chair, and commenced slowly pacing the room. He
knew, perhaps, that Marianne’s eyes were fixed upon him with a searching
expression, and her glances were disagreeable to him.

Josephine read as follows:

“Men like you, sir, never inspire suspicion and uneasiness, whatever
their conduct may be. You have accepted the exalted position which the
French people offered to you, and I am grateful to you for so doing. You
know better than anybody else how much strength and power are required
to secure the happiness of a great nation. Save France from her own
fury, and you will have fulfilled the foremost and greatest desire of my
heart; restore her king to her, and future generations will bless your
memory. But you hesitate very long to give my throne back to me, and
I almost fear you will allow the opportunity to pass by unimproved.
Hasten, therefore, and designate the positions you desire for yourself
and for your friends. You will always be too indispensable to the state
for me ever to be able to discharge the obligations of my ancestors and
my own, even by means of the most influential positions. My character,
as well as motives of sound policy, will induce me to pursue a liberal
course. We are able to secure the happiness of France. I say we, for you
cannot secure the happiness of France without me, and I cannot do any
thing for France without you. General, Europe has fixed her eyes on
you, and immortal glory awaits you.” [Footnote: This letter is
historical.--Vide “Memoires d’un Homme d’Etat,” vol. vii., p. 393.]

“Always the same strain,” muttered Bonaparte, “always the story of
the column surmounted by the statue of the First Consul crowning the
Bourbons, while his bleeding corpse is to be the foundation of the
column!”

“He is reflecting,” whispered Josephine to the princess. “That shows, at
least, that he has not yet made up his mind to reject the offer of the
Count de Provence.”

At this moment Bonaparte turned toward the two ladies and approached
them rapidly.

“Are you authorized to receive my reply?” he asked, turning his gloomy
eyes toward the princess.

“I shall feel happy and honored by any message you may be pleased to
intrust to me,” said Marianne.

Bonaparte nodded to her.

“Will you permit me to write a letter here, Josephine?” he asked.
Instead of making a reply, Josephine hastened to her desk, in order to
take out some paper, to draw a chair to the table, and then to hand the
pen to Bonaparte, with a fascinating smile. When he commenced writing,
she supported herself in breathless suspense on the back of his
arm-chair and looked over the Consul’s shoulder, while the Princess von
Eibenberg, standing not far from them, looked at both with sparkling
eyes.

Bonaparte hastily wrote a few lines, threw the pen aside, and turning
around to Josephine, he handed her the letter.

“There, read it,” he said, “and read it aloud, so that the beautiful
emissary of your M. de Bourbon may learn my reply, and know the contents
of the message she is to deliver to him.”

Josephine took the paper, and read, in a tremulous voice, frequently
interrupted by her sighs:

“I have received the letter of your royal highness; I have constantly
felt a lively sympathy for you and for the misfortunes of your family.
But your royal highness must not think of coming to France; you would
have to pass over a hundred thousand corpses before reaching it. In
other respects, I shall constantly take pains to do whatever will be
calculated to alleviate your condition and to make you forget your
misfortunes.”

“Well, Josephine, you are silent?” asked Bonaparte, when she ceased
reading. “You are dissatisfied with my letter? And you, too, madame,
have a dark shadow on your beautiful face! How could you expect another
answer from me?”

“General, I believe the royal princes really hoped for another answer,”
 said Marianne, heaving a sigh.

“And what justified such a hope?” asked Bonaparte, sternly “What have I
done to give rise to such chimeras?”

“General, the favorable answer you gave to Prussia--”

“Ah!” said Bonaparte, shrugging his shoulders, “the wind is blowing in
that direction, then? Prussia asked me if she would cause us any trouble
by tolerating the French princes within her boundaries. I replied in the
negative; and when Prussia went further and asked whether we should
feel offended or not, if she paid an annual pension to the Bourbons, I
permitted even that on condition that the princes remained quiet and did
not carry on any intrigues. They believed, then, that because I suffered
distressed persons to be relieved and an asylum to be granted to the
homeless, I should be ready, also, to make the beggars masters again,
and to lay France at the feet of the exiles!”

“Bonaparte, your words are very harsh and very unjust,” exclaimed
Josephine, sadly.

“They may be harsh, but they are true,” he said, sternly. “I will not
permit them to entertain any illusions concerning myself; hence I have
spoken so long and plainly. It would be harsh and cruel to hold out
hopes to the Bourbons which I shall never fulfil. France is lost to
them, and they will never recover her. State that to the princes who
have sent you to me, madame. Let the Bourbons be on their guard, for
France is wide awake and keeps her eyes and ears open. I am willing
to forgive that little Duke d’Enghien for not considering me a great
general, and for criticising my exploits, but I should neither forgive
him nor either of his uncles in case they should try to trouble France
with their senseless schemes. I know that the Bourbons have long been
trying to find means and ways to reconquer the sceptre of St. Louis. So
long as their schemes are floating in the air like cobwebs, I forgive
them; but if they intend to act, let them weigh the consequences! He who
menaces France is a traitor, whatever may be his name, and traitors will
be punished to the full extent of the law. State that to the Bourbons,
madame; state it especially to the Duke d’Enghien. And now be kind
enough to deliver my reply to the Count de Provence. When do you intend
to start?”

“In a few days, general.”

“Oh, that will not do. That poor Count de Provence will be eager to get
a reply,” said Bonaparte, “and it would be very cruel not to transmit
it to him as soon as possible. You especially will not wish to make
him wait, and I therefore advise you to set out to-day, within the next
hour! I shall issue orders that horses be kept in readiness for you;
and in order that you may not be detained anywhere, I shall instruct two
officers to escort you to the frontier. Hasten, therefore, madame; in
half an hour everything will be ready for your departure.”

He nodded to her, and left the room.

The two ladies were alone again and looked at each other with mournful
eyes. Marianne’s face was pale; a gloomy fire was burning in her eyes,
and a contemptuous smile was visible on her lips. Josephine seemed
greatly embarrassed, and her gentle eyes were filled with tears.

“I am to be transported beyond the frontier like a criminal!” ejaculated
Marianne at last, in a voice trembling with anger. “I am to be treated
like a dangerous intriguer, and yet I have only delivered a letter which
had been intrusted to me by the king.”

“Forgive him,” said Josephine, imploringly. “He has been prejudiced
against you, and the numerous plots and conspiracies, which have already
been discovered, cause him to deem rigorous precautions altogether
indispensable. But I beg you especially not to be angry with me, and
pray beseech the Count de Provence not to hold me responsible for the
deplorable message you are to deliver to him. I have opened my heart to
you, and you know it to be filled with the most faithful devotion and
with the most reverential affection for the unfortunate prince, but I am
not strong enough to change his fate; I--”

Just then the door opened; M. de Bourrienne, chief of the cabinet of
the First Consul, made his appearance and approached the princess with a
respectful bow.

“Madame,” he said, “the First Consul sends you word that every thing
is ready for your departure, and he has instructed me to conduct you to
your carriage.”

Josephine uttered a groan, and, sinking down on a chair, she covered her
face with her handkerchief in order to conceal her tears.

Marianne had now recovered her proud and calm bearing, and a bold and
defiant smile played again on her lips. She approached Josephine with
soft and quiet steps.

“Farewell, madame,” she said. “I shall faithfully report to the Count
de Provence every thing I have seen and heard here, and he will venerate
and pity you as I shall always do. May the First Consul never regret
what he is doing now, and may he not be obliged one day to leave France
in the same manner as he compels me to depart from Paris! Come, sir,
accompany me, as it cannot be helped!”

And drawing herself up to her full height and as proud as a queen,
Marianne, princess of Eibenberg, walked toward the door.

Josephine followed her with her tearful eyes, which she then raised to
heaven. “Oh, my God, my God,” she whispered, “ordain it in Thy mercy
that my worst forebodings may not be fulfilled! Guide Bonaparte’s heart
and prevent him from going on in his ambition, from stretching out his
hand for the crown of the Bourbons, and from staining his glory with the
blood of--Oh, Thou knowest my fears; Thou knowest what I mean, and what
my lips dare not utter. Protect Bonaparte, and guide his heart!”



CHAPTER XLI.

TWO GERMAN SAVANTS.


A Post-chaise, drawn by four horses, had just driven up to the hotel
of The German Emperor, the first and most renowned inn in the city
of Frankfort-on-the-Main. The porter rang the door-bell as loudly and
impetuously as he only used to do on the arrival of aristocratic and
wealthy guests. Hence the waiters rushed to the door in the greatest
haste, and even the portly and well-dressed landlord did not deem it
derogatory to his dignity to leave the dining-room, for the purpose of
welcoming the stranger in the post-chaise, drawn by the four horses.

In this post-chaise he perceived a gentleman of prepossessing and jovial
appearance, and with a handsome and tolerably youthful face. His large
blue eyes looked gayly and boldly into the world; a genial smile was
playing on his broad and rather sensual-looking lips; and his voice was
clear, strong, and sonorous.

“May I find here with you comfortable rooms, and, above all, a good
supper?” he asked the landlord, who, pushing aside his waiters and the
stranger’s footman, stepped up to the carriage, in order to open the
door.

“Sir,” replied the landlord, proudly, “The German Emperor is noted for
its good rooms and excellent table!”

The stranger laughed merrily. “Truly,” he said, gayly, “these are
splendid prospects for Germany. If The German Emperor furnishes good
rooms and an excellent table, I am sure Germany would be unreasonable
to ask for any thing else! Well, my dear landlord, give me, then, good
rooms and a supper.”

“Do you want rooms on the first or on the second floor?” asked the
landlord, respectfully walking behind the stranger, who had just entered
the hall.

“Of course, on the first floor; Heaven forbid that I should have to
climb two flights of stairs!” replied the stranger. “I like to live in
comfortable and elegant rooms. Give me, therefore, three fine rooms on
the first floor.”

“Three rooms!” said the landlord, hesitatingly. “I must observe to you,
sir, that all the rooms on the first floor have been reserved for the
Duke of Baden, who will arrive here to-morrow or day after to-morrow,
and stop at The German Emperor, like all princes coming to our city. I
do not know if I can spare three rooms.”

“Oh, you surely can, as the duke will only arrive to-morrow or day after
to-morrow, while I am here to-day,” said the stranger.

“Give me the rooms you had intended for the duke; then I shall be sure
to get good ones, and I shall take them at the same price you will
charge him.”

The landlord bowed respectfully, and snatched the silver candle-stick
from the hand of the head-waiter, in order to have the honor of
conducting the stranger up-stairs to his rooms. The waiters, who had
stood on both sides of the hall in respectful silence, now hastily
rushed toward the post-chaise, in order to assist the stranger’s footman
in unloading the trunks and packages belonging to his master.

“As far as the supper is concerned, pray imagine I were the expected
Duke of Baden, and make your arrangements accordingly,” said the
stranger, ascending the staircase. “I particularly enjoy a good supper.
If you have any pheasants to serve up to me, I shall be content with
them; only see to it that they be well larded with truffles.”

And his voice died away in the large corridor which he was now walking
down, preceded by the landlord, in order to take possession of the best
rooms in the hotel.

The waiters were engaged in unloading the trunks, and improved this
opportunity to inquire of the stranger’s footman, clad in a rich livery,
the rank, name, and title of his master.

He told them the gentleman had just arrived from Loudon, where he had
been living for a year; he was now on his way to Vienna, and would leave
Frankfort on the following day.

“This trunk is very heavy,” said one of the waiters, vainly trying to
lift from the carriage a small trunk, mounted with strips of brass, and
covered with yellow nails.

“I should think so,” said the footman, proudly. “This trunk contains my
master’s money and jewelry. There are at least twelve gold watches, set
with diamonds, and as many snuff-boxes. The Queen of England sent to my
master on the day of our departure a magnificent snuff-box, adorned
with the portrait of her majesty, and richly set with diamonds: and the
snuff-box, moreover, was entirely filled with gold pieces. Come, take
hold of the trunk on that side; I shall do so on this, and we will take
it directly up to my master’s rooms.”

Just as they entered the hall with their precious load, another carriage
drove up to the door. But this time it was only a miserable, rickety old
basket-chaise, drawn by two lean jades with lowered heads and heaving
bellies.

The porter, therefore, did not deem it worth while to ring the bell for
this forlorn-looking vehicle; but he contented himself with leisurely
putting his hands into his pockets, sauntering down to the chaise, and
casting a disdainful glance into its interior.

There was also a single gentleman in it, but his appearance was less
prepossessing and indicative of liberality than that of the former
stranger. The new-comer was a little gentleman, with a pale face and a
sickly form. His mien was grave and care-worn; his dark eyes were gloomy
and stern; his expansive forehead was thoughtful and clouded.

“May I have a room in your hotel?” he asked, in a clear, ringing voice.

“Certainly, sir, as nice and elegant as you may desire,” said the
porter, condescendingly.

“I do not require it to be nice and elegant,” replied the stranger.
“Only a small room with a comfortable bed; that is all I care for.”

“It is at your disposal, sir,” said the porter; and beckoning the
youngest waiter to assist the stranger in alighting, he added: “Take the
gentleman to one of the smaller rooms on the first floor.”

“Oh, no,” said the stranger, “I do not ask for a room on the first
floor; I shall be satisfied with one on the second floor. Be kind enough
to pay my fare to the coachman; he gets ten florins. You may put it down
on my bill.”

“And will you give me no drink-money?” asked the coachman, angrily. “The
gentleman will assuredly not refuse me drink-money after a three days’
journey?”

“My friend, I did not agree to pay you any thing but those ten florins,”
 said the stranger. “I will comply with your demand, however, for you
have been an excellent driver.”

He handed half a florin to the coachman, and entered the hotel with
measured steps.

“Do you want supper?” asked the waiter, conducting him upstairs.

“Yes, if you please,” said the stranger; “but no expensive supper,
merely a cup of tea and some bread and meat.”

“A poor devil!” muttered the porter, shrugging his shoulders
disdainfully, and following the stranger with his eyes. “A very poor
devil! only a room on the second floor; tea and bread and meat for
supper! He must be a savant, a professor, or something of that sort.”

Meantime the footman and the waiter had carried the heavy trunk, with
the gold and other valuables, up-stairs to the rooms of the stranger on
the first floor. These rooms were really furnished in the most sumptuous
manner, and worthy to be inhabited by guests of princely rank. Heavy
silk and gold hangings covered the walls; blinds of costly velvet,
fringed with gold, veiled the high arched windows; precious Turkish
carpets adorned the floor; gilt furniture, carved in the most artistic
manner and covered with velvet cushions, added to the splendor and
beauty of the rooms.

The stranger lay on one of the magnificent sofas when the trunk with his
valuables was brought in. He ordered the footman with a wave of his
hand to place the trunk before him on the marble table, wrought by some
Florentine artisan, and then he leisurely stretched out his legs again
on the velvet sofa.

Scarcely had the door closed again behind the footman and the waiter,
however, when he hastily rose, and drawing the trunk toward him, opened
it with a small key fastened to his watch-chain.

“I believe I will now at length add up my riches,” he said to himself.
“The time of the golden rain, I am afraid is over, at least for the
present; for, in Germany, an author and savant is never taken for a
Danae, and no one wants to be a Jove and lavish a golden rain upon him.
The practical English, who are more sagacious in every respect, know,
too, how to appreciate a writer of merit, and pay him better for his
works. Thank God I was in England! Let us see now how much we have got.”

He plunged his hands into the small trunk and drew them forth filled
with gold pieces.

“How well that sounds!” he said, throwing the gold pieces on the table,
and constantly adding new ones to them. “There is no music of the
spheres to be compared with this sound, and no view is more charming
than the aspect of this pile of gold. How many tender love-glances,
how many sumptuous dinners, how many protestations of friendship and
love-pledges, how many festivals and pleasures do not flash forth from
those gold pieces, as though they were an enchanted mine! As a good
general, I will count my troops, and thus enable myself to draw up the
plans of my battles.”

A long pause ensued. Nothing was heard but the music of the gold pieces,
which the traveller arranged in long rows on the marble table, and the
figures which he muttered, while his countenance grew every moment more
radiant.

“Five hundred guineas!” he exclaimed joyfully; “that sum is equivalent
to three thousand three hundred and thirty-three dollars in Prussian
money; there are, besides, two thousand-pound notes in my wallet,
amounting to over thirteen thousand dollars, which, together with my
guineas, will amount to over sixteen thousand dollars cash. Oh, now I am
a rich man! I no longer need deny to myself any wish, any enjoyment.
I can enjoy life, and I WILL enjoy it. As a stream of enjoyment and
delight my days shall roll along, and to enjoyment glory shall be added,
and throughout all Germany my voice shall resound; in all cabinets it
shall reecho, and to the destinies of nations it shall point out their
channel and direction. For great things I am called, and great things
will I accomplish. I will not allow myself to be used by these lords of
the earth as a journeyman, to whom the masters assign work for scanty
pay. Their equal and peer, I will stand by their side, and they shall
recognize it as a favor which they cannot weigh up with gold, if I take
the word for them and their interests, and win battles for them with my
pen.”

There was a gentle knock at the door, and quickly he threw his silken
handkerchief over the gold pieces and papers, and closed the cover of
his casket before he gave permission to enter.

It was only a few waiters, who carried a well-spread table, in the midst
of which a splendid pheasant stretched its brownish, shining limbs, and
filled the whole room with the odor of the truffles with which it was
stuffed. By its side shone, in crystal bottles, the most precious Rhine
wine, looking like liquid gold, and a silent, still undisclosed pie gave
a presentiment of a piquant enjoyment.

The traveller sipped the several odors with smiling comfort, and took
his place at the table with the full confidence that he would be able to
fill the next half hour of his life with enjoyment and to advantage.

In this confidence he was not disappointed, and when he finally rose
from the table, on which nothing but bones had remained of the pheasant,
and nothing but the bare crust of the pie, his countenance beamed with
satisfaction and delight.

The waiters made haste to remove the table, and the head waiter made
his appearance with the large hotel register, in which he asked the
traveller to enter his name.

He was ready for it, and already took the pen to write his name, when
suddenly he uttered a cry of surprise, and excitedly pointed with his
finger to the last written line of the book.

“Is this gentleman still in your hotel, or has he already left?” he
asked, hastily.

“No, your honor, this gentleman arrived only an hour ago, and he will
stay here to-night.” said the head waiter.

“Oh, what a surprise,” said the traveller, starting up. “Come, please to
conduct me at once to this gentleman.”

And, with impatient haste, he ran to the door, which the head waiter
opened to him. But upon the threshold he suddenly stopped and seemed to
pause.

“Pray wait for me here in this hall; I shall follow you immediately,” he
said, as he returned to his room, closed its door, and hastened to the
table in order to put his gold and his papers into the casket and to
lock it.

In the mean while, the traveller in the small room of the second floor
had finished his frugal meal, and was now occupied with making up his
account and entering the little travelling expenses of the last few days
into his diary.

“It is after all an expensive journey,” he muttered to himself; “I shall
hardly have a few hundred florins left on my arrival at Berlin. It is
true the first quarter of my salary will at once be paid to me, but
one-half of it I have already assigned to my creditors, and the other
half will scarcely suffice to furnish decently a few rooms. Oh, how much
are those to be envied, the freedom and cheerfulness of whose minds are
never disturbed by financial troubles!”

A loud knock at the door interrupted him; he hastened to put back his
money into his pocket-book, when the door was hastily opened and the
stranger of the first story appeared in it with a smiling countenance.

“Frederick Gentz!” exclaimed the owner of the room, in joyful surprise.

“Johannes Muller!” smilingly exclaimed the other, running up to him
with outstretched arms, and tenderly embracing the little man, the great
historian. “What good fortune for me, my friend, that I put up at this
hotel, where I was to have the pleasure of meeting you! Accidentally I
found in the hotel register your name, and at once I rushed to welcome
you.”

“And by coming you afford to my heart a true joy,” tenderly said
Johannes Muller, “for nothing can afford a greater joy than the
unexpected meeting with a beloved and esteemed friend, and you know you
are both to me.”

“I only know that you are both to me!” exclaimed Gentz. “I only know
that during my present journey I am indebted to you for the most
precious hours, for the most sublime enjoyments. I had taken along for
my reading your work on the ‘Furstenbund’ [‘Alliance of Princes’).
I wished to see whether this book which, on its first appearance, so
powerfully affected me, would still have the same effect upon me after
an interval of twenty years. The world since then has been transformed
and changed, I myself not less; and I was well aware how far my views
on many most important topics would differ from yours. This, indeed,
I found to be the case, and yet the whole reading was for me an
uninterrupted current of delight and admiration. For four weeks I
read in my leisure hours nothing but this book, and I felt my mind
consecrated, strengthened, and nerved again for every thing great and
good.”

“If you say this,” exclaimed Muller, “I have not labored in vain,
although a German author feels sometimes tempted to believe that all his
labors, all his writing and thinking were useless efforts, and nothing
but seed scattered upon barren and sterile soil, and unable to bear
fruit. Oh, my friend, what unfortunate days of humiliation and disgrace
are still in store for Germany! But let us not talk of this now, but of
you. Come, let us seat ourselves side by side upon this divan. And now
tell me of your successes and your glory. The report of it has reached
me, and I have learned with unenvying delight with what enthusiasm the
whole literary and political world of England has received you, and how
the court, the ministers, and the aristocracy of Loudon have celebrated
the great German writer and politician.”

“It is true I have met in Loudon with much kindness and a flattering
reception,” said Gentz, smilingly. “You know a German writer must go
abroad if he lays claim to recognition and reward, for, as the proverb
says, ‘The prophet is not without honor, save in his own country.’ I
had, therefore, to go to England in order to secure for my voice, which
until then was little heeded, some authority even in Germany.”

“And now, when you have so eminently succeeded in this, you return I
hope forever to Germany?”

“It almost seems so. I follow a call of the Austrian minister, Cobenzl,
and have been appointed in Vienna as Aulic councillor, with a salary of
four thousand florins.”

“And in which ministry will you work?”

“Not in any particular one. I have been engaged for extraordinary
services exclusively, with no other obligation than, as Minister von
Cobenzl expressly writes, to work by my writings for the maintenance of
the government, of morals, and order.”

A smile stole over the delicate features of Muller.

“Exactly the same words which the Minister von Thugut said to me two
years ago. And you have had the courage to accept the position?”

“Yes, I have accepted it, because I hope thus to render a service to
the fatherland, and to be of advantage to it. I have forever east off
my Prussianism, and shall henceforth become an Austrian with body and
soul.”

“How wonderful are the dispensations of fate! for I must reply to you
that I have cast off forever my Austrianism, and shall henceforth become
a Prussian with body and soul.”

“Ah, you go to Prussia! You leave the Austrian service?”

“Yes, forever. I follow a call to Berlin.”

“Oh,” exclaimed Gentz, “I have not the courage to complain that I have
to do without you in Vienna, for fate in its wisdom has disposed of both
of us, and it will make us available for the great, sublime cause of
Germany. Being both stationed at one place, our efforts could not be so
far reaching, so powerful, and therefore fate sets you up in the north
of Germany, and me in the south, in order that our voices may resound
hither and thither throughout Germany, and awaken all minds and kindle
all energies for the one grand aim, the delivery and the honor of
Germany.”

“You still believe, then, in the honor of Germany and the possibility of
its delivery,” Muller inquired, with a sigh.

“Yes. I still believe in it,” Gentz exclaimed, with enthusiasm; “but to
that end many things must yet be done, many things must be aimed at and
changed. Above all, two things are necessary. In the first place, the
old enmity between Austria and Prussia must disappear, and both must
firmly unite with each other and with England against France. It is this
which I in Vienna and you in Berlin must never lose sight of--which we
must aim at with all the power of our spirit and of our eloquence;
for it is one of the last measures which are left for maintaining the
independence of Europe and for averting the deluge of evils which break
forth more terribly every day. From the moment when Austria and Prussia
shall stand upon one line and move in one direction, there will be
nowhere in Germany particular interests. All the greater and lesser
princes would at once and without hesitation place themselves under the
wings of this powerful alliance--the well-disposed cheerfully and out
of conviction, and the unpatriotic ones through fear. So much of the
constitution as has been rescued from this last shipwreck, would be safe
for the duration of this alliance; and so much of it as must be altered,
would be altered according to the principles of justice and of the
common weal, and not according to the disgraceful demands of French and
Russian land agents.”

“You are right,” exclaimed Johannes Muller; “a close alliance of Austria
and Prussia is necessary, and only through it, and through it alone, the
maintenance of the European equilibrium is possible, but for the present
we must lean on the power of Russia and the resources of England.”

“No, no,” Gentz exclaimed, vehemently; “no communion with Russia! Russia
is a friend who can never be trusted, for whenever it shall be her
advantage she will at any moment be ready to become the most bitter
enemy of her friends. But really we have had a striking and terrible
example, of this when the Emperor Paul suddenly separated from Germany
and England in order to ally himself with France. But the union of
France and Russia is the most threatening and terrible combination for
the whole remainder of Europe. Of all the wounds which during the last
ten years have been inflicted upon the old political system, and in
particular upon the independence of Germany, those which were caused by
the temporary agreement between France and Russia were the deepest and
most incurable. If this comet should rise a second time over our heads,
the world will go up in flames. What is to resist the combined power
of these two colossuses unless the united weight and the united bulk
of Germany hinders their embrace? The western colossus has long since
broken through its old barriers; all the outposts are in its power, all
the fortresses which do not belong to it are dismantled, all the points
of military defence are outflanked. From Switzerland and Italy, from the
peaks of the conquered Alps, it may irresistibly pounce upon the
centime of the Austrian monarchy and invade the exposed provinces of the
undefended Prussian kingdom. And now let it please Providence to
elevate upon the Russian throne a prince full of ambition and thirst
of conquest, and the subjugation of Germany, the dissolution of all the
empires still existing, a double universal monarchy would, under the
present circumstances, be the next consequence; and if the present
system, or rather the present hopeless languor should continue for
several more years, this must sooner or later be the inevitable destiny
of Germany.”

“There is now for Germany only one enemy,” Johannes Muller said,
vehemently, “and this enemy is France--is Bonaparte! A new crisis
approaches; of this I am convinced. Bonaparte will not be satisfied with
the title and the office of a First Consul for life; he will place a
crown upon his head, and threateningly oppose himself with his sceptre
to all monarchies, and they will either have to humble themselves before
him or to unite against him. Therefore, no other, no possible future
enemy, should be thought of at this time, but only the universal foe and
his government, so incompatible with general tranquillity. Let all
the hatred of the nation be poured down on him, and on him alone, by
everywhere spreading the conviction that nothing interferes with
the preservation of peace throughout the world but his existence.”
 [Footnote: Muller’s own words.--Vide “Memoires d’un Homme d’Etat,” vol.
vii., p. 58.] “There is something else I would wish for Germany,” said
Gentz, musingly. “I will now reveal to you my innermost thoughts, my
friend, for I am satisfied that our meeting here was a dispensation
of fate. Providence has decreed that we, the intellectual champions
of Germany, should agree here on the plans of our campaign and concert
measures for our joint action. Therefore, you shall descend with me into
the depths of my heart and see the result to which I have been led by
many years’ reflection concerning the causes and progress of the great
convulsions of our day, and by my own grief at the political decay of
Germany. The result is the firm belief that it would be by far better
for Germany to be united into one state. Oh, do not look at me in so
surprised and angry a manner! I know very well, and I have reflected a
great deal about it, how salutary an influence has been exerted by
the dismemberment of Germany on the free development of the individual
faculties; I acknowledge that, considered individually, we might very
probably not have reached, in a great and centralized monarchy, the
proud and glorious eminence we are occupying at the present time, and so
far, as a nation, after all, only consists of individuals, I am unable
to perceive exactly how ours, without anarchy, could have acquired the
distinction which it might boast of if it were a nation! But whenever
I think that it is no nation--whenever I think that France and England,
with greatly inferior faculties and means, have grown up to that true
totality of human life--to that true nationality which nothing is able
to destroy--whenever I think and feel that foreigners, on whom we may
look down from our exalted stand-point, in matters of politics, trample
on our necks, and are allowed to treat us as though we were their
servants, all consolations derived from our grand and magnificent
individuality vanish and leave me alone with my grief. [Footnote:
Gentz’s own words.--Vide “Memoires d’un Homme d’Etat,” vol. vii., p.
20.] I am free to confess to you that I have already gone so far on
the road of those mournful reflections as to consider it very doubtful
whether the whole history of Germany was ever treated from a correct
point of view. I know but too well that the princes of the house of
Austria seldom, if ever, deserved to be the rulers of Germany; but I
do not believe that there are any reasons why we should exalt at the
discomfiture of their plans. It is a matter of great indifference to me
whether a Hapsburg, Bavarian, Hohenzollern, or Hohenstaufen succeed in
bringing the empire under one hat; I only place myself on an Austrian
stand-point because that house has the best prospects and is under the
highest obligations to accomplish the unity of Germany. Now you know my
innermost thoughts; criticise and correct them, my friend!”

“I will neither criticise nor correct them,” said Muller, offering his
hand to Gentz with a tender glance; “I will only exchange views with
you. I imagine, therefore, at this moment, we were pacing, as we did a
year ago, previous to your journey to England, the splendid hall of the
imperial library, where the sixteen statues of the Hapsburg emperors
reminded us of their era. Before which of them will we place ourselves
and say: ‘What a pity that you, wise and noble prince, are not the sole
ruler of Germany; you were worthy, indeed, that the moral and political
welfare of the whole nation should be left to the decision of your will,
and that every thing should be submitted to your power!’”

“It is true,” muttered Gentz, mournfully; “in the history of Germany
there is no emperor, king, or prince to whom we might or should talk in
this manner.”

“Nor is that the cause of our misfortunes,” said Muller; “the want of
one ruler has not produced them, and it is not so bad that we have not
got but one neck, and cannot consequently be struck down at one blow.
The fault, on the contrary, is our own. If we had a single great man,
even though he were neither an emperor nor a king, if he were only a
Maurice of Saxony, a Stadtholder of Holland, he would attract the nation
in times of danger and distress; it would rally around him and he would
stand above it. That we have not such a man is owing to our deplorable
system of education, and to the wrong direction which our mode of
thinking has taken. Every thing with us has fallen asleep, and we are in
a condition of almost hopeless stagnation. The old poetry of fatherland,
honor, and heroism, seems to be almost extinct among us; we are asleep,
and do not even dream. In order to recover our senses, a conceited
tyrant, who will mock us while plundering our pockets, is an
indispensable necessity. Providence, perhaps, has destined Bonaparte to
become the tyrant who is to awaken Germany from its slumber by means of
cruelties; he is, perhaps, to revive among the Germans love of honor,
liberty, and country; he is, perhaps, to be the scourge that is to
torture us, so that we may overcome our indolence, and that our true
national spirit may be aroused. I hope the tyrant will accomplish this,
and deliver Germany. God knows I would not like to serve him, but to
the liberators of the world I should willingly devote my ideas and my
feelings, nay, my blood. [Footnote: “Memoires d’un Homme d’Etat,” vol.
vii., pp. 39, 40.] Then let us hope, wait, and prepare. Let us not
occupy ourselves with Germany as it might be, perhaps, in its unity, but
with Germany as it CAN be with its confederate system. The Germans are
not qualified, like the English or French, to live in a single great
state. The climate, their organization, that miserable beer, the
insignificant participation in the commerce of the world, prevent it;
the somewhat phlegmatic body of the state must have an independent life
in each of its parts; the circulation issuing from a single head would
be too imperceptible. We must be satisfied with the glory which a
Joseph, a Frederick the Great, and the enthusiasm of the whole people
gave to us, and if the next struggle should terminate successfully, will
give to us to the greatest extent. [Footnote: Ibid., vol. vii., p.
46.] We must struggle on for the welfare of the entire people, and the
individuals should unite into one great harmonious whole. Like myself,
you consider concord between Austria and Prussia at present the only
remedy for the ills of Germany; let us, therefore, strive for it, let us
direct our whole strength to this point, to this goal.”

“Yes, let us do so!” exclaimed Gentz, enthusiastically. “We are both
destined and able to be the champions of Germany; let us fulfil our
task. No matter how much greater, how much more exalted and brilliant
your name may be than mine, for my part I am proud enough to believe
that I have certain talents which ought to unite our political efforts.
Hence, you cannot and must not reject and neglect me; you must accept
the hand which I offer you for this great and holy compact, for
the welfare of Germany. We must keep up an active and uninterrupted
correspondence with each other, and freely and unreservedly communicate
to each other our views about the great questions of the day. It seems
to me wise, necessary, and truly patriotic that such men as we should
hold timely consultations with each other as to what should be done, and
how, where, and by whom it should be done. The wholesome influence we
may exert, stationed by fate as one of us is in Berlin, and the other in
Vienna, by faithfully uniting our efforts, will be truly incalculable.
Now say, my friend, will you conclude such a covenant with me? Shall
we unite in our active love for Germany in our active hatred against
France?”

“Yes, we will!” exclaimed Johannes Muller, solemnly. “I truly love and
venerate you; I will struggle with you incessantly until we have reached
our common noble goal. Here is my hand, my friend; its grasp shall
be the consecration of our covenant. Perhaps you do not know me very
intimately, but we must believe in each other. All our studies, all our
intellectual strength, our connections, our friendships, every thing
shall be devoted to that one great object, for the sake of which alone,
so long as it may yet be accomplished, life is not to be disdained.”
 [Footnote: “Memoires d’un Homme d’Etat,” vol. vii., p. 40.]

“Yes, be it so,” said Gentz, joyfully. “The covenant is concluded, and
may God bless it for the welfare of Germany!”



CHAPTER XLII.

THE EMPEROR NAPOLEON.


A new era had dawned for France! On the eighteenth of May, 1804, she had
changed her title and commenced a new epoch of her existence.

On the eighteenth of May, 1804, the French Republic had ceased to exist,
for on that day Bonaparte, the First Consul, had become Napoleon, the
first Emperor of France. There was no more talk of liberty, equality,
and fraternity. France had again a master--a master who was firmly
determined to transform the proud republicans into obedient subjects,
and to restore law and order if necessary by means of tyranny. Woe to
those who wanted to remember old republican France under the new state
of affairs; woe to those who called Napoleon Bonaparte the assassin of
the republic, and wished to punish him for his criminal conduct! George
Cadoudal and Pichegru had to atone with their lives for such audacious
attempts, and Moreau, Bonaparte’s great rival, was banished from his
country.

Woe to those, too, who hoped that the old royal throne of the
fleur-de-lis would take the place of the dying republic! the royalists
as well as the republicans were punished as traitors to their country,
and the Duke d’Enghien was executed in the ditch of Vincennes because he
had dared to approach the frontier of his country. Sentence of death had
been passed upon him without a trial, without judgment and law; and even
the tears and prayers of Josephine had been unable to soften Bonaparte’s
heart. The son of the Bourbons had to die the death of a traitor, that
the son of the Corsican lawyer might become Emperor of France.

Europe was no longer strong enough to punish this bloody deed; it was
not even courageous enough to denounce it and to ask the First Consul,
Bonaparte, by virtue of what right he had ordered his soldiers in the
midst of peace to enter a German state in order to arrest there the
guest of a German prince like a common felon, and to have him executed
for a crime which was never proved against him. The sense of honor and
justice seemed entirely extinct in Germany, and the princes and people
of Germany were solely actuated by the all-absorbing fear lest powerful
France might assume a hostile attitude toward them.

Not a voice, therefore, was raised in Germany in favor of the Duke
d’Enghien, and against a violation of the German territory, directly
conflicting with the existing treaties and the tenets of international
law. The German Diet, upon whom it was incumbent to maintain the honor
and rights of all the German states, received the news of this bloody
deed in silence, and were only too glad that none of the members of the
empire arose in order to complain of the proceedings of France. It was
deemed most prudent to pass over the matter, and to accept what could
not be helped as an accomplished fact.

But from this lazy quiet they were suddenly startled by the warnings
of Russia and Sweden, who, having warranted the maintenance of the
constitution of the German empire, now raised their voices, and loudly
and emphatically pointed out “the danger which would arise for every
single German state if Germany should allow measures to be taken which
threatened her quiet and safety, and if deeds of violence should be
deemed admissible or be passed over without being duly denounced.”
 [Footnote: Vide Hausser’s “History of Germany,” vol. ii., p. 518.]

A sudden panic seized the German Diet, for these Russian and Swedish
voices rendered further silence out of the question. The Diet were,
therefore, compelled to speak out, to complain, and to demand an apology
and redress, for Russia and Sweden required it, by virtue of their
relation to the empire; foreign powers required the German Diet, much to
its dismay, to maintain and defend the honor of Germany.

But the Diet dared not listen to them, for France asked them to be
silent; it threatened to consider any word of censure as a declaration
of war. The ministers of the German princes, greatly embarrassed by
their position between those equally imperious parties, found a way not
to irritate either, and to maintain their silence and impartiality; they
DESERTED! That is to say, the German Diet, suddenly, and long before
the usual time, took a recess, a long recess, and when the latter had
at length expired, the unpleasant affair was not taken up, and the Diet
considered a more important question of the day. [Footnote: Ibid., p.
525.] This more important question was to congratulate France on having
elected an emperor, who, as the Austrian minister said, at a meeting of
the Diet, “was so precious to all Europe, and by whose accession to the
throne his colleagues could only feel honored.”

The Diet had been silent about the assassination of the Duke d’Enghien,
but they spoke out and proffered their congratulations when Bonaparte
had become emperor, and they pretended to be glad to hail him as the
founder of a new dynasty.

Napoleon Bonaparte, therefore, had now attained his object; he had
reestablished the throne in France; he had placed a crown on his head.
More fortunate than Caesar, he had met with no Brutus at the steps
of his throne, but had ascended it without being hindered, amidst
the acclamations of France, which called him her emperor; amidst the
acclamations of Italy, which called him her king, and had willingly cast
aside her title of Cisalpine Republic in order to become the kingdom of
Lombardy, and to adorn Napoleon at Milan with the iron crown of the old
Lombard sovereigns.

Napoleon had just returned to France from this coronation at Milan,
and repaired to the vast camp at Boulogne, where an army comprising a
hundred and fifty thousand infantry and ninety thousand cavalry, eager
for the fray, were waiting for the word of Napoleon which was to call
them forth to new struggles and new victories.

The immense rows of the soldiers’ tents extended far across the plain
and along the sea-shore, and in the centre of this city of tents, on
the spot where lately the traces of a camp of Julius Caesar had been
discovered, there arose the emperor’s tent, looking out on the ocean, on
the shore of which the ships and gunboats of France were moored, while
the immense forest of the masts and flags of the British fleet was to be
seen in the distance.

But this forest of British masts did not frighten the French army; the
soldiers, as well as the sailors, were eager for the fray, and looked
with fiery impatience for the moment when the emperor would at length
raise his voice and utter the longed-for words: “On to England! Let us
vanquish England as we have vanquished the whole of Europe!”

No one doubted that the emperor purposed to utter these words, and that
this camp of Boulogne, this fleet manned with soldiers and bristling
with guns, were solely intended against England, the hereditary foe of
France.

The emperor, however, hesitated to utter those decisive words. He
distributed among the soldiers the first crosses of the Legion of Honor;
he drilled the troops; he accepted the festivals and balls which the
city of Boulogne gave in his honor; he stood for hours on the sea-shore
or on the tower of his barrack, and with his spy-glass looked out on the
sea and over to the English ships; but his lips did not open to utter
the decisive words; the schemes which filled his breast and clouded
his brow were a secret, the solution of which was looked for with equal
impatience by his generals and by his soldiers.

It was a delightful morning; a cool breeze swept from the sea through
the tents of the camp, and, after the preceding spell of debilitating
hot weather, exerted a most refreshing and invigorating effect upon the
languishing soldiers. The sun which had scorched every thing for the
last few days, was to-day gently veiled by small, whitish clouds, which,
far on the horizon, seemed to arise, like swans, from the sea toward the
sky, and to hasten with outspread wings toward the sun.

The emperor, whom the warm weather of the last few days had prevented
from riding out, ordered his horse to be brought to him. He wished to
make a trip to the neighboring villages, but no one was to accompany him
except Roustan, his colored servant.

In front of the emperor’s barrack there stood, however, all the generals
and staff-officers, all the old comrades of Napoleon, the men who had
shared his campaigns and his glory, who had joyfully recognized the
great chieftain as their emperor and master, and who wished to do him
homage to-day, as they were in the habit of doing every morning so soon
as he left his barrack. Napoleon, however, saluted them to-day only with
a silent wave of his hand and an affable smile. He seemed pensive and
absorbed, and no one dared to disturb him by a sound, by a word. Amid
the solemn stillness of this brilliant gathering, the emperor walked
to his horse, who, less timid and respectful than the men, greeted
his master with a loud neigh and a nodding of the head, and commenced
impatiently stamping on the ground. [Footnote: Napoleon’s favorite
horse, who always manifested in this manner his delight on seeing his
illustrious master.--Constant, vol. ii., p. 81.]

The emperor took the bridle which Roustan handed to him and vaulted into
the saddle. He raised his sparkling eye toward the sky and then lowered
it to the sea with its rocking ships.

“I will review the fleet to-day,” said the emperor, turning to his
adjutant-general. “Let orders be issued to the ships forming the closing
line to change position, for I will hold the review in the open sea.
I shall return in two hours; let every thing be in readiness at that
time.”

He set spurs to his horse and galloped away, followed by Roustan.
His generals dispersed in order to return to their barracks. The
adjutant-general, however, hastened to Admiral Bruix for the purpose of
delivering the orders of the emperor to him.

The admiral listened to him silently and attentively; and then he raised
his eyes to the sky and scanned it long and searchingly.

“It is impossible,” he said, shrugging his shoulders; “the orders of the
emperor cannot be carried out to-day; the review cannot take place. We
shall have a storm to-day, which will prevent the ships from leaving
their moorings.”

“Admiral,” said the adjutant, respectfully, “I have delivered the orders
of the emperor to you; I have informed you that the emperor wishes that
every thing should be ready for the review on his return, within two
hours. Now you know very well that the wish of the emperor is
always equivalent to an order, and you will make your preparations
accordingly.”

“In two hours I shall have the honor personally to state to his majesty
the reasons why I was unable to comply with his orders,” said Admiral
Bruix, with his wonted composure and coolness.

Precisely two hours later the emperor returned from his ride. The
generals and staff-officers, the whole, brilliant suite of the emperor,
stood again in front of his barrack, in order to receive the returning
sovereign.

Napoleon greeted them with a pleasant smile; the ride seemed to have
agreed with him; the cloud had disappeared from his brow; his cheeks,
generally so pale, were suffused with a faint blush, and his flaming
eyes bad a kind glance for every one.

He dismounted with graceful ease, and stepped with kind salutations into
the circle of the generals.

“Well, Leclerc, is every thing ready for the review?” he asked his
adjutant.

General Leclerc approached him respectfully. “Sire,” he said, “Admiral
Bruix, to whom I delivered the orders of your majesty, replied to me
that the review could not take place to-day because there would be a
storm.”

The emperor frowned, and an angry flash from his eyes met the face of
the adjutant.

“I must have misunderstood you, sir.” he said. “What did the admiral
reply when you delivered my orders to him?”

“Sire, he said it was impossible to carry them out, for a storm was
drawing near, and he could not think of ordering the ships to leave
their moorings.”

The emperor stamped violently his foot. “Let Admiral Bruix be called
hither at once!” he exclaimed, in a thundering voice, and two orderlies
immediately left the circle and hastened away.

Several minutes elapsed; Napoleon, his arms folded, his threatening eyes
steadfastly turned toward the side on which the admiral would make his
appearance, still stood in front of his barrack, in the midst of his
suite. His eagle eye now discovered the admiral in the distance, who had
just left his boat and stepped ashore. No longer able to suppress his
impatience and anger, Napoleon hastened forward to meet the admiral,
while the gentlemen of his staff followed him in a long and silent
procession.

The emperor and the admiral now stood face to face. Napoleon’s eyes
flashed fire.

“Admiral,” exclaimed the emperor, in an angry voice, “why did not you
carry out my orders?”

The admiral met Napoleon’s wrathful glance in a calm though respectful
manner. “Sire,” he said, “a terrible storm is drawing near. Your majesty
can see it just as well as I. Do you want to endanger unnecessarily the
lives of so many brave men?”

And as if Nature wanted to confirm the words of the admiral, the distant
roll of thunder was heard, and the atmosphere commenced growing dark.

Napoleon, however, seemed not to see it, or the calm voice of the
admiral and the rolling thunder, perhaps, excited his pride to an even
more obstinate resistance.

“Admiral,” he replied, sternly, “I have issued my orders. I ask you
once more why did not you carry them out? The consequences concern only
myself. Obey, therefore!”

“Sire,” he said, solemnly, “I shall not obey!”

“Sir, you are an impudent fellow!” ejaculated Napoleon, and, advancing a
step toward the admiral, he menacingly raised the hand in which he still
held his riding-whip.

Admiral Bruix drew back a step and laid his hand on his sword. A
terrible pause ensued. The emperor still stood there, the riding-whip
in his uplifted hand, fixing his flaming, angry eyes on the admiral, who
maintained his threatening, manly attitude, and, with his hand on his
sword, awaited the emperor’s attack. The generals and staff-officers,
pale with dismay, formed a circle around them.

The emperor suddenly dropped his riding-whip; Admiral Bruix immediately
withdrew his hand from his sword, and, taking off his hat, he awaited
the end of the dreadful scene in profound silence.

“Rear-Admiral Magou,” said the emperor, calling one of the gentlemen of
his suite, “cause the movements I had ordered to be carried out at once:
As for you,” he continued, slowly turning his eyes toward the admiral,
“you will leave Boulogne within twenty-four hours and retire to Holland.
Begone!”

He turned around hastily and walked toward his barrack. Admiral Bruix
looked after him with an aggrieved air, and then turned also around
in order to go. While walking through the crowd of generals and
staff-officers, he offered his hand to his friends and acquaintances in
order to take leave of them; but few of them, however, saw it, and shook
hands with him; most of them had averted their eyes from the admiral,
whom the sun of imperial favor did not illuminate any longer, and who
consequently was so entirely cast in the shade, that they were unable to
perceive him.

Rear-Admiral Magou had in the mean time carried out the orders of the
emperor. The ships which before had been at anchor near the outlet of
the harbor, keeping it entirely closed, had moved farther into the sea,
while the other vessels in the harbor were going out.

But Admiral Bruix’s prediction began already to be fulfilled; the sky
was covered with black clouds from which lightning was bursting forth
in rapid succession. The thunder of the heavens drowned the roar of the
sea, which arose like a huge, black monster, hissing and howling, and
fell back again from its height, covered with foam, and opened abysses
into which the ships seemed to sink in order to be hurled up again by
the next wave. The storm, with its dismal yells, attacked the masts and
broke them as though they were straws, and lashed the ships, which had
already left the harbor, out into the sea, to certain ruin, to certain
death.

The emperor had left his barrack and hurried down to the beach with
rapid steps. With folded arms and lowered head, gloomy and musing,
he walked up and down in the storm. He was suddenly aroused from his
meditations by loud screams, by exclamations of terror and dismay.

Twenty gunboats, which the rear-admiral had already caused to be manned
with sailors and soldiers, had been driven ashore by the storm, and the
waves which swept over them with thundering noise menaced the crews with
certain death. Their cries for help, their shrieks and supplications
were distinctly heard and reechoed by the wails and lamentations of the
masses that had hastened to the beach in order to witness the storm and
the calamities of the shipwreck. The emperor looked at his generals and
staff-officers who surrounded him, dumbfounded with horror; he saw that
no one had the courage or deemed it feasible to assist the poor drowning
men. All at once the gloomy air vanished from his face, it became
radiant with enthusiasm; the emperor was transformed once more into a
hero, daring every thing, and shrinking back from no danger.

He immediately entered one of the life-boats and pushing back the arms
of those who wished to detain him, he exclaimed in an almost jubilant
voice: “Let me go, let me go! We must assist those unhappy men!”

But his frail bark was speedily filled with water; the waves swept over
it with a wild roar, and covered the whole form of the emperor with
foaming, hissing spray. He still kept himself erect by dint of almost
superhuman efforts; but now another even more terrible wave approached
and swept, thundering and with so much violence over the bark, that
the emperor, reeling and losing his equilibrium, was about falling
overboard, when his generals dragged him from the boat and took him
ashore. He followed them unhesitatingly, stunned as he was by the wave,
and as he stepped ashore, a flash burst forth from the cloud; a majestic
thunder-clap followed; the howling storm tore the hat from the emperor’s
head and carried it, as if on invisible wings, high into the air and
then far out into the sea where the waves seemed to receive it with
roars of exultation, driving it down to their foaming depth.

But the courageous example given by the emperor had exerted an electric
effect on the masses which heretofore had apparently been stupefied with
horror. Every one now felt and recognized it to be his sacred duty
to make efforts for the rescue of the unfortunate men who were still
struggling with the waves and shouting for help; officers, soldiers,
sailors, and citizens, all rushed into the life-boats or plunged into
the sea in order to swim up to the drowning men and save them in time
from a watery grave.

But the sea was not willing to surrender many of its victims. It wanted,
perhaps, to prove its superior divine majesty to the imperial ruler
which had defied it, and punish him for his presumption.

Only a few were rescued, for the storm did not abate during the whole
day; it lashed up the sea into waves mountain-high, or opened abysses
frightful to behold. Night finally descended on the angry waters and
spread its black pall over the scene of death and despair.

In the morning the beach was covered with hundreds of corpses which the
sea had thrown ashore. An enormous crowd thronged the shore; every one
came to look with fainting heart and loud lamentations among the mute,
pale corpses for a husband, a friend, or a brother; shrieks and wails
filled the air and even penetrated to the emperor’s barracks.

He had not slept during the whole night; he had been pacing his rooms,
restless, with a gloomy air and pale cheeks: now, early in the morning,
he once more hastened down to the beach. Thousands of persons, however,
had preceded him thither. When they beheld the emperor they stepped
gloomily aside; they did not receive him, as heretofore, with
loud exultation and joyful acclamations; they looked at him with a
reproachful air, and then turned their eyes in mute eloquence to the
corpses lying in the sand.

The emperor was unable to bear the silence of the crowd and the sight
of these corpses; pale and shuddering, he turned away and walked back
to his barrack slowly and with lowered head. But he did not fail to hear
the murmurs of the crowd which had only been silent so long as it had
seen his face, and which, now that he had turned away, gave free vent to
its grief and indignation.

The emperor heard painful sighs when he reached his barrack, and sent
immediately for Roustan, in order to give him secret instructions.
Thanks to these instructions, Roustan’s agents hastened all day
through the city of Boulogne and through the camp for the purpose of
distributing money in the name of the emperor wherever persons were
lamenting and weeping, or where gloomy glances and mourners were to be
met with, thus allaying their grief by means of the shining magic metal
which heals all wounds and dries all tears.

The emperor, however, had still a more effectual charm for allaying the
indignation of the crowd, or at least for stirring up again the jubilant
enthusiasm of his soldiers.

Telegraphic dispatches of the highest importance had reached the camp;
courier after courier had followed them. The emperor assembled all his
generals in the council-chamber of his barrack, and when they left it,
after a consultation of several hours, the rumor spread through the camp
that the emperor would now at length utter those longed-for words and
lead his army to new struggles, to new victories.

These joyful tidings spread like wildfire among the troops; every one
hailed them with a radiant face and merry glances. Every one saw himself
on the eve of fresh honors and spoils, and only asked whither the
victorious course of the emperor would be directed this time--whether
to England, which constantly seemed to menace France with its forest of
masts, or whether to Austria, whose hostile friendship might have been
distrusted.

The emperor had not yet spoken the decisive words to any member of his
suite, but he had sent for the grand-marshal of the palace and ordered
him to hold every thing in readiness for his departure; to settle all
accounts and bills against the emperor, and to beware on this occasion
of not paying too much to any one.

On the day after receiving these orders, the grand-marshal, without
being announced, appeared before the emperor, who was in the
council-chamber of his barrack, engaged in studying attentively the maps
spread out on the large table before him.

Napoleon only looked up for a moment, and then continued to stick pins
into the maps, thus designating the route which his army was to take.

“Well, Duroc,” he asked, “is every thing ready for our departure? Have
all bills been paid?”

“Sire, they are all paid except one, and I must dare to disturb your
majesty in relation to this one bill.”

“I suppose it is very high and fraudulent?” asked the emperor, hastily.
With these words he rose and approached the grand-marshal.

“Sire,” said the latter, “I do not know whether it is fraudulent or not,
but it is very high. It is the bill of Military Intendant Sordi, who
built this barrack, and to whom its fitting up had been intrusted.”

“Well, how much does he charge for it?” asked Napoleon.

“Sire, he asks fifty thousand francs.”

“Fifty thousand francs!” exclaimed Napoleon, almost in terror. “I hope
you have not paid this impudent bill?”

“No, sire, I have not; on the contrary, I requested M. Sordi to reduce
the sum.”

“And he has done so, of course?” exclaimed Napoleon, gloomily. “Just
like these men. They ask us to confide in them, and yet they try on
every occasion to cheat us. How much did he deduct from his bill?”

“Nothing at all, sire. M. Sordi asserts that he did not charge too
much for a single article; he was unable, therefore, to make even the
slightest deduction.”

“And so you have paid the bill?”

“No, sire, I said that I could not pay it until your majesty had given
me express orders to do so.”

“Well done,” said the emperor, nodding to him. “Send word to the
military intendant that I want to see him immediately. I wish to talk to
him myself.”

The grand-marshal withdrew, and Napoleon returned to his maps. He
continued to mark them with long rows of pins, and to draw circles and
straight lines on them.

“If the Austrians are bold enough to advance,” he said to himself, in
a low voice, “I shall beat them in the open field; should they remain
stationary and wait for me to attack them, I shall inflict upon them
a crushing defeat at Ulm. It is time for me to make these overbearing
Germans feel the whole weight of my wrath, and, as they have spurned my
friendship, to crush them by my enmity. That little Emperor of Austria
dares to menace me; I shall prove to him that menacing me is bringing
about one’s own ruin. I shall assemble my forces here in this plain, and
here--”

“Sire, the military intendant, M. de Sordi, whom your majesty has
ordered to appear before you,” said the emperor’s aide-de-camp, opening
the door of the council-chamber.

“Let him come in,” ejaculated Napoleon, without averting his eyes from
the map.

The aide-de-camp retired, and the tall, powerful form of Intendant
Sordi appeared in the door. His face was pale, but calm; his features
indicated boldness and a fixed purpose; he was evidently conscious of
the importance of the present moment, and felt that it would decide his
whole future.

The emperor continued scanning his maps. M. de Sordi stood at the door,
waiting for the emperor to address him. When he saw that the latter
tarried very long, he advanced a step, and, as if accidentally, pushed
against the chair standing at his side.

The noise aroused Napoleon from his meditation, and reminded him of the
person he had sent for.

He therefore hastily turned around to him. “Sir,” he said, “you have
spent a great deal too much money for the decoration of this miserable
barrack; yes, indeed, a great deal too much. Fifty thousand francs! What
do you mean, sir? That is frightful; I shall not pay that sum!”

M. de Sordi met the flaming glances of the emperor with smiling
calmness.

“Sire,” he said, lifting up his hand and pointing at the ceiling, “I may
truthfully say that the clouds of gold brocade adorning the ceiling of
this room, and surrounding the propitious star of your majesty, have
cost alone not less than twenty-five thousand francs. Had I consulted,
however, the hearts of your subjects, the imperial eagle, which now
again will crush the enemies of France and of your throne, would have
spread out its wings amidst the most magnificent and precious diamonds.”
 [Footnote: The ceiling of the room was decorated with golden clouds,
amidst which, on a blue ground, was an eagle, holding a thunderbolt, and
pointing it at a star, the star of the emperor.--Constant, vol. i., p.
246.]

Napoleon smiled. “Very well,” he said; “you believe the hearts of my
subjects to be very prodigal. I am not, however, and I repeat to you I
shall not pay that sum now. But as you tell me that this eagle, which
costs so much money, will crush the Austrians, you will doubtless wait
until it has done so, and then I will pay your bill with the rix-dollars
of the Emperor of Germany and the Fredericks d’or of the King of
Prussia.” [Footnote: Napoleon’s own words.--Constant, vol. i., p. 246.]

He dismissed him smilingly with a wave of his hand, and returned to his
maps.

A few hours later Napoleon, followed by all his generals and adjutants,
repaired to the camp. Ascending a small mound, specially prepared for
the occasion, he surveyed with radiant eyes the surging, motley, and
brilliant sea of soldiers who surrounded him on all sides, and who
greeted his appearance with thundering shouts of exultation.

A wave of his hand commanded them to be still, and, as if fascinated by
a magician’s wand, the roaring masses grew dumb, and profound silence
ensued. Amidst this silence, Napoleon raised his clear, ringing-voice,
and its sonorous notes swept like eagle-wings over the sea of soldiers.

“Brave soldiers of the camp of Boulogne,” he said, “you will not go to
England. The gold of the English government has seduced the Emperor
of Austria, and he has again declared war against France. His army has
crossed the line of demarcation assigned to it, and inundated Bavaria.
Soldiers, fresh laurels are awaiting you beyond the Rhine; let us hasten
to vanquish once more enemies whom we have already vanquished. On to
Germany!” [Footnote: Napoleon’s own words.--Constant, vol. i., p. 282.]

“On to Germany!” shouted the soldiers, jubilantly. “On to Germany!”
 was repeated from mouth to mouth, and even the sea seemed to roar with
delight and its waves, thundering against the beach, to shout, “On to
Germany!”



CHAPTER XLIII.

NAPOLEON AND THE GERMAN PRINCES.


The Emperor of France with his army had crossed the boundaries of
Germany. He had come to assist his ally, the Elector of Bavaria, against
the Austrians who had invaded Bavaria; not, however, in order to menace
Bavaria, but, as an autograph letter from the Emperor Francis to the
elector expressly stated, to secure a more extended and better protected
position.

The Elector of Bavaria, Maximilian Joseph, had declared, in a submissive
letter to the Austrian emperor, that he was perfectly willing to let the
Austrian regiments encamp within his dominions. “I pledge my word as a
sovereign to your majesty.” he had written to the Emperor of Germany,
“that I shall not hinder the operations of your army in any manner
whatever, and if, what is improbable, however, your majesty should be
obliged to retreat with your army, I promise and swear that I shall
remain quiet and support your projects in every respect. But I implore
your majesty on my knees to permit me graciously to maintain the
strictest neutrality. It is a father, driven to despair by anguish and
care, who implores your majesty’s mercy in favor of his child. My son is
just now travelling in southern France. If I should be obliged to send
my troops into the field against France my son would be lost, and the
fate of the Duke d’Enghien would be in store for him, too; if I should,
however, remain quietly and peaceably in my states, I should gain time
for my son to return from France.” [Footnote: “Memoires sur l’Intereor
du Palais de Napoleon,” by De Bausset, vol. i., p. 59.]

But on the same day, and with the same pen, on which the ink with which
he had written to the Emperor of Germany was not yet dry, the elector
had also written to the Emperor of France and informed him “that he was
ready to place himself under his protection, that he would be proud to
become the ally of France, and that he would thenceforward lay himself
and his army at the feet of the great and august Emperor of France.”

And the courier who was to deliver the letter with the sacred pledges
of neutrality to the Emperor of Germany, had not yet reached Vienna when
the Elector of Bavaria secretly fled from Munich to Wurzburg, where his
army of twenty-five thousand men was waiting for him.

He sent his army, commanded by General Deroy, to meet the Emperor of the
French; it was not to attack him as the enemy of Germany, but to hail
him as an ally and to place itself under his direction. He then issued a
proclamation.

“We have separated from Austria,” he said, “from Austria, who wanted to
ensnare and annihilate us by her perfidious schemes, and to compel us
to fight at her side for foreign interests; from Austria, the hereditary
foe of our house and of our independence, who is just now going to make
another attempt to devour Bavaria, and degrade her to the position of
an Austrian province. But the Emperor of the French, Bavaria’s natural
ally, hastened to the rescue with his brave warriors, in order to avenge
you; your sons will soon fight at the side of men accustomed to victory;
soon, soon the day of retribution will be at hand.” [Footnote: Hausser’s
“History of Germany,” vol. ii., p. 611.]

Thanks to the hatred of the Germans against their German brethren,
thanks to the hatred of the Bavarians against the Austrians, this
proclamation had been received with joyful acclamations throughout the
whole state, and Bavaria felt proud and happy that she should fight
under the Emperor of the French, her “natural ally,” against the Emperor
of Germany.

The French army was drawn up in line in the plain near Nordlingen, in
order to solemnly receive its German auxiliaries. They were the first
German troops that Napoleon had gained over to his side, and therefore
he wished to welcome them pompously and with all honors. Amidst
the jubilant notes of all the bands of the French army, amidst the
enthusiastic shouts of the French soldiers, the Bavarians marched into
the French camp. The emperor, in full uniform, surrounded by all his
generals, welcomed General Deroy and the Bavarian officers; accompanied
by a wave of his sword, he said to them:

“I have placed myself at the head of my army in order to deliver
your country, for the house of Austria intends to annihilate your
independence. You will follow the example of your ancestors, who
constantly preserved that independence and political existence which are
the first blessings of a nation. I know your valor, and am sure that I
shall be able after the first battle to say to your sovereign and to my
people, that you are worthy to fight in the ranks of the grand army.”

The Bavarian soldiers hailed this proud address with the same exultation
with which the Bavarian people had received the proclamation of the
elector; and never had the French soldiers manifested greater enthusiasm
for their chieftain and emperor than did these German soldiers, the
first German auxiliaries of the emperor.

Napoleon received their jubilant shouts with a gracious smile.

“Duroc,” he said, turning to his friend and comrade, who was riding at
his side--“Duroc, listen to what I am going to say to you. The Germans
are not good patriots; they are capable of loving the conqueror of their
country just as well as their legitimate sovereign. Even at the time of
Julius Caesar there was no harmony among the Germans; and while Arminius
opposed the Romans heroically, Segestes declared in favor of them. If,
as a modern Julius Caesar, I should wish to conquer Germany, I believe I
should find there no Arminius, but certainly many Segesteses.”

“But, perhaps, a few Thusneldas, sire,” said Duroc, laughing; “and your
majesty knows full well that it was Thusnelda, after all, who filled her
husband with so undying a hatred against the Romans.”

“And the son of Thusnelda became a prisoner of the Romans!” exclaimed
Napoleon; “he became a miserable slave of the Romans, and preferred a
life of humiliation and disgrace to an honorable death. The Germans are
great talkers; they are always ready to fight with their tongues for the
honor of their country, but they do not like to die for it. But who
are the Thusneldas with whom you threatened me? Did you allude to Queen
Caroline of Naples, the daughter of Maria Theresa?”

“Oh, no, sire; she is no longer a German, but an Italian intriguer--a--”

“She is, as I told her own ambassador in Milan, a modern Athalia, a
daughter of Jezebel,” said Napoleon, interrupting him vehemently.
“But patience, patience, I shall punish her for her bitter hatred and
intrigues.”

“Sire, it was in your power to receive ardent love at the hands of
Queen Caroline, instead of her hatred, which is, perhaps, nothing but
concealed love. I suppose your majesty knows what the queen said only a
few years ago to the French minister?”

“No, I do not, or perhaps I have only forgotten it,” replied Napoleon,
carelessly. “Did she want to make a postillon d’amour of him?”

“Nearly so, sire. She told him she would willingly travel four hundred
leagues in order to see General Bonaparte. She added that you were the
only great man in the world, and none but idiots were seated at the
present time on all the thrones of Europe.” [Footnote: Queen Caroline
actually said this to the French minister.]

“A very flattering remark for her husband and for her nephew, the
Emperor of Austria,” said Napoleon. “She referred, however, only to
those who are seated on thrones, but the tender queen has been able
to discover a few real men by the side of her husband’s throne. I have
never hankered after becoming the rival of Acton and Nelson. I do not
like passionate and ambitious women. They must be gentle and charming
like Josephine if they are to please me.”

“I wish the empress were here and able to hear your words,” exclaimed
Duroc.

“Does she again doubt my constancy?” asked Napoleon, quickly. “Have
my brothers again frightened her by threats of a divorce? Let her
be reassured, I do not think of a separation from her, and all the
Thusneldas of Germany cannot become dangerous to me. But you have not
yet told me the names of those Thusneldas. Let me hear them.”

“Sire, first there is the beautiful Queen of Prussia. She is said to be
a bitter enemy of France.”

“Yes, a bitter enemy of MINE!” exclaimed Napoleon, with a gloomy and
threatening glance; “a short-sighted woman, who does not see that she
will ruin her good-natured, weak, and irresolute husband if she carries
him along with her on this path of hostility and hatred. She will repent
one day having scorned my friendship, for, if she succeeds in gaining
her husband over to an alliance with Russia, I shall be inexorable,
and mercilessly trample the whole vacillating and fickle Prussia in the
dust. And do you still know of another Thusnelda?”

“Yes, sire; it is the wife of the Elector Frederick of Wurtemberg,
who is also said to have filled her husband with ardent hatred against
France, and with fervent patriotism for Germany. The elector and
electress are reported to have taken a solemn oath in the presence of
their whole court never to bow or submit to France, and never to prove
recreant to the interests of Germany.”

“I shall compel them to believe that the interests of Germany require
them to bow to France and to become our allies!” exclaimed Napoleon,
proudly. “The electress of Wurtemberg is a daughter of George the Third
of England, a daughter of my mortal enemy; hence, she shall bow to me or
feel my power and my wrath. The time for hesitation and procrastination
is over. I want to have my friends at my side and my enemies opposite
me. Let the German princes choose whether they will go with France
against Austria, their common despot, or whether, like Austria, they
wished to be conquered by France! We shall see which side Wurtemberg
will espouse, for Ney is already with his corps on the road to
Stuttgart, and in the course of a few days I shall pay a visit to the
elector and electress at their own palace.”

And a few days later Napoleon really kept his word: he paid a visit
to the elector and electress at Louisburg, after Ney had compelled the
government of Wurtemberg to open the gates of Stuttgart to his troops.

The elector received the emperor at the foot of the palace staircase,
where only an hour ago he had assured his courtiers he would not receive
the upstart Napoleon as an equal and shake hands with him; but as
Napoleon now saluted him with a kind nod, and gave him his hand, the
elector bowed so deeply and respectfully that it almost looked as if he
wished to kiss the small, white, imperial hand which he had seized so
joyfully and reverentially. [Footnote: “Memoirs of General de Wolzogen,”
 p. 24.]

The electress, who entered at the side of her husband, received the
emperor in the large and brilliant throne-room of the palace. Her face
was pale and gloomy when she bowed ceremoniously to the hereditary foe
of her house, and not the faintest tinge of a smile was to be seen on
her lips when she replied to the emperor’s address.

Napoleon’s face, however, was strangely mild and winning to-day, and yet
radiant with dignity and grandeur. It was the face of a conqueror who
does not intend to treat those whom he has subjugated with arrogance and
rigor, but desires to win their affection by gentleness and love. Hence,
his eyes had only mild and kind glances, and on his finely-formed lips
there was playing that smile which the Empress Josephine said was the
sunbeam of his face, and irresistible to any woman.

Nor was the electress able to withstand this smile and this kind bearing
of Napoleon. She had expected to find in the emperor an ardent enemy of
her native England, and he now paid a glowing and eloquent tribute to
the English, to their country, to their institutions and character.
Napoleon had been described to her as a barbarian, taking interest only
in warfare and every thing connected with it; and now she found him
to be an admirer of the English poets, and heard him expatiate
enthusiastically on Ossian, some of whose most magnificent verses he
recited to her in a French translation.

The stern features of the electress gradually began to relax; the
smile gradually returned to her lips, and she bent her proud head more
graciously to the “upstart” Napoleon.

“Oh, sire!” she exclaimed, joyfully, and for the first time she did not
avoid addressing him with the title due to his rank--“oh, sire, he who
admires the English poets so enthusiastically cannot possibly be an
enemy of England!”

“I am not by any means,” said Napoleon, smiling; “I know no enmity
whatever; peace is the sole aim of my efforts, and I believe Fate has
sent me to mankind for the purpose of establishing eternal peace. It
is true, I have to conquer peace by wars and commotions, but I shall
conquer it, and you, princess, you and your husband must help me to
do so. I intrust to your hands a noble task, which the high-minded and
proud daughter of England is worthy of, and the German elector will
not hinder the noble endeavors of his wife, especially as the honor and
welfare of Germany are at stake.”

“I am ready and willing to do for Germany what I can, and whatever your
majesty may command me to do,” exclaimed the elector. “Will your majesty
now tell me what I must do?”

“You must conclude an alliance with France, in order to save Germany,”
 said the emperor, almost sternly.

“Sire, I have not the power to conclude such an alliance--I am unable to
do so,” said the elector, sighing.

“Your state can if you cannot,” said Napoleon, quickly.

“But the representatives of my people will not consent.”

“I shall protect you against these representatives of your people. You
will tell them, besides, that you have saved Wurtemberg by becoming my
ally. For he who is not for me is against me, and I shall annihilate
those who are against me, and their states shall fall to ruin. Those,
however, who are for me I shall elevate, and it seems to me I see
already a royal crown on the noble brow of the electress. I suppose,”
 asked Napoleon, turning again with a smile toward the electress, “your
royal highness would not be dissatisfied if you should become the
queen of your people; it would be agreeable to you to be called ‘your
majesty,’ and if it were only because it would remind you in so pleasant
a manner of your royal parents who are addressed with the same title?”

“Oh, sire,” exclaimed the electress, with radiant eyes, and unable
to conceal her joy--“oh, sire, you are right, it would remind me most
pleasantly of my paternal home and of England.”

“But would not a royal crown crush my state which is too small for it?”
 asked the elector.

“Well, we shall enlarge it so as to render it able and worthy to support
a royal crown,” exclaimed Napoleon, hastily. “I believe I shall have the
power and opportunity to bestow on my ally, the elector of Wurtemberg,
some aggrandizements in Germany to compensate and reward him for the
auxiliaries which he is to furnish to me. Besides, your task is a
truly grand one. You shall assist me in subduing Austria, that arrogant
Austria which would like to treat all Germany as her property, and who
considers all German princes as her servants and vassals.”

“You are right,” said the elector, vehemently; “Austria constantly
endeavors to meddle with my prerogatives in an unbecoming and arrogant
manner. She would like to degrade us to the position of vassals who must
always be ready to obey their emperor, but who, when they are themselves
in danger, never can count on the assistance and support of their
emperor.”

“Let us, then, dispel Austria’s illusion as though she were your
master,” said Napoleon, smiling. “Become my ally, and believe me, we
shall have the power to teach the Emperor of Austria to respect the KING
of Wurtemberg, my ally. Will you be my ally for that purpose? Will
you assist me, as a German prince, in delivering Germany from the yoke
Austria has laid around her neck?”

“Sire, I am ready to save Germany with my life-blood!” exclaimed the
elector, “and as your majesty has come to deliver Germany from Austria,
it would be a crime for any German prince to withhold his assistance
from you. Hence, I accept your alliance. Here is my hand! I shall stand
by you with my troops and with my honor!” [Footnote: The whole account
of this interview is strictly historical. Vide “Memoirs of General de
Wolzogen,” and Hausser’s “History of Germany,” vol. ii. p. 613. The
Elector of Wurtemberg became the third German ally of the French
emperor, the Electors of Bavaria and Baden having preceded him. He
furnished ten thousand German troops to Napoleon.]



CHAPTER XLIV.

QUEEN LOUISA’S PIANO LESSON.


The queen sat at the piano, practising one of Reichardt’s new songs
which her singing-teacher, the royal concert-master and composer,
Himmel, had just brought to her. The queen wore a most brilliant
costume, which, however, seemed calculated less for her silent cabinet
and for the music-teacher than for a great gala-day and an aristocratic
assembly at court. A white satin dress, inter-woven with golden flowers,
and closely fitting, according to the fashion of that period, surrounded
her noble figure. Her splendid white arms were bare, and her wrists were
adorned with two bracelets of gold and precious stones. Her neck and
shoulders, showing the noble lines and forms of a Venus of Melos,
were uncovered like her arms, and adorned only with jewelry. Her
hair, surrounding a forehead of classical beauty in waving masses, was
fastened behind in a Grecian knot holding the golden diadem, set with
diamonds, which arose on the queen’s head. [Footnote: A portrait,
representing the queen precisely in this costume, may be seen at the
royal palace in Berlin.] A gentle blush mantled her cheeks, and a smile
of melancholy and tenderness trembled on her purple lips. She had her
hands on the keys, and her eyes were fixed on the music-book before her;
but she had suddenly ceased singing in the middle of the piece, and her
voice had died away in a long sigh.

Mr. Himmel, the concert-master, stood behind her; he was a man more than
forty years of age, with a broad, full face, beaming with health, and a
tall and slender form which would have been more fitting for the head of
an Apollo than for this head, which reminded the beholder of a buffalo
rather than of a god.

When the queen paused, a joyful smile overspread his features, which had
hitherto been gloomy and ill at ease. “Your majesty pauses?” he asked,
hastily. “Well, I wish your majesty joy of it. That Mr. Reichardt, of
Halle, is too sentimental and arrogant a composer, and never should I
have dared to lay these new pieces of his before your majesty if you had
not asked me to bring you every thing written by Reichardt. Well, you
have seen it now; it displeases your majesty, and I am glad of it,
for--”

“For,” said the queen, gently interrupting him, “for the great composer
Himmel is again jealous of the great composer Reichardt. Is it not so?”

She raised her dark-blue eyes at this question to Himmel’s face, and he
saw to his dismay that there were tears in those eyes.

“What!” he asked in terror, “your majesty has wept?”

She nodded in the affirmative, smiling gently. “Yes,” she said, after
a pause, “I have wept, and hence I could not continue singing. Do not
scold me, do not be angry with me, my dear and stern teacher. This song
has moved me profoundly; it is so simple and yet so touching, that it
must have come out of the depths of a truly noble heart.”

Mr. Himmel replied only with a low sigh and an almost inaudible murmur,
which the queen, however, understood very well.

“Perhaps,” she said, trying gently to heal the jealous pangs of the
composer, “perhaps I was so deeply moved by the words rather than by
the music; these words are so beautiful that it seems to me Goethe never
wrote any thing more beautiful.”

And bending over the music-book, she read in an undertone:

    “Wer nie sein Brod mit Thranen ass,
     Wer nie die kummervollen Nachte
     Auf seinem Bette einsam sass,
     Der kennt euch nicht, Ihr himmlischen Machte!”

[Footnote:      “He who never ate his bread with tears,
       He who never, through nights of affliction,
       Sat on his lonely bed,
       He does not know you, powers of heaven!”]

“Say yourself, Mr. Himmel, is not that beautiful and touching?” she
asked, looking up again to her teacher.

“Beautiful and touching for those who have wept much and suffered much,”
 said Himmel, harshly; “but I cannot conceive why these words should
touch your majesty, whose whole life has hitherto illuminated the world
like an uninterrupted sunny spring morning.”

“Hitherto,” repeated the queen, musingly, “yes, hitherto, indeed, my
life was a sunny spring morning, but who is able to fathom what clouds
may soon appear on the horizon, and how cloudy and gloomy the evening
may be? This song reechoes in my soul like a melancholy foreboding, and
clings to its wings as if it wanted to paralyze their flight. ‘He who
never ate his bread with tears,’ ah, how mournful it sounds, and what a
long story of suffering is contained in these few words!”

The queen paused, and two tears, glistening more beautifully than the
diamonds of her golden diadem, slowly ran down her cheeks.

Concert-master Himmel was not courageous enough to interrupt the silence
of the queen, or, may be, he had not listened very attentively to her
words, and his thoughts perhaps were fixed on matters of an entirely
different character, for his air was absent and gloomy; his eyes glanced
around the room, but returned continually to the lovely form of the
queen.

Suddenly Louisa seemed to arouse herself violently from her gloomy
meditation, and after hastily wiping the tears from her eyes she forced
herself to smile.

“It is not good to give way to melancholy forebodings,” she said,
“particularly in the presence of a stern teacher. We must improve our
time in a more useful manner, for time is a very precious thing; and if
I had not judiciously profited by my short leisure to-day, I should
not have had a single hour to spare for my teacher, for there will be a
reception in the palace to-night, and I must previously give audience
to several visitors. I have, therefore, made my evening toilet in the
afternoon, and thereby gained time to take my dear singing-lesson. But
now let us study, so that your pupil may redound to your honor.”

“Oh, your majesty,” ejaculated Himmel, “my honor and my happiness!”

“Hush, hush,” said Louisa, interrupting him, with an enchanting smile,
“no flattery! no court-phrases! Here I am not the queen, nor are you
my devoted subject; I am nothing but an obedient pupil, and you are my
rigorous master, who has a right to scold and grumble whenever I sing
incorrectly, and who very frequently avails himself of this privilege.
Do not apologize for it, but go on in the same manner, for I will then
only learn the more.”

“Your majesty sings like an angel,” murmured Himmel, whose eyes were
fixed steadfastly on the queen.

“Well, as far as that is concerned, you are a competent judge,”
 exclaimed Lousia, laughing, “for being Himmel (heaven), you must know
how the angels sing, and your opinion cannot be disputed. The angels,
then, sing incorrectly, like your obedient pupil? Let the angels do so,
but not your pupil. Come, Mr. Himmel, sit down. It does not behoove the
maestro to stand at the side of his pupil. Sit down.”

She pointed with a graceful wave of her hand at the chair standing
at her side, and Mr. Himmel, complying with her order, sat down. His
glances returned involuntarily to the queen, whose beauty only now burst
on his short-sighted eyes, and whom he believed he had never seen so
lovely, so fascinating and graceful. Her beautiful face seemed to him
like that of a fairy queen, and her wonderful shoulders, her superb,
dazzling neck, which he had never seen unveiled and so very near,
appeared to him like the bust of a goddess, moulded by Phidias from
living marble.

“Well, let us commence,” said the queen, calmly. “Pray play the melody
in the treble and let me play the accompaniment a few times; I shall
then be better able to sing the song.”

She commenced eagerly playing the prelude, while a deeper blush mantled
her cheeks. It was Himmel’s turn now to begin with the melody; his eyes,
however, were not fixed on the music, but on the queen, and hence he
blundered sadly.

“Well?” asked the queen, looking at him in charming confusion. “You do
not play correctly.”

“Yes, I have blundered, your majesty,” said Himmel, gloomily; “I have
blundered, for I am only a man after all, and cannot look into the sun
without having a coup de soleil. Your majesty, I have had such a coup de
soleil, and you see I have lost my reason in consequence.”

With these words he bent over the queen and imprinted a glowing kiss on
her shoulders; then he hastily rose, took his hat, and rushed out of the
room. [Footnote: historical]

The queen’s eyes followed him with an air of surprise and embarrassment;
then she burst into ringing, charming laughter.

“Ah,” she said, “if that austere ‘Madame Etiquette,’ the mistress of
ceremonies, should have seen that, she would have either died with
horror, or her wrath would have crushed the criminal. I believe I will
confess the terrible crime to her. Oh, my dear mistress of ceremonies!
my dear mistress of ceremonies!” she cried.

The door of the adjoining room opened immediately, and the Countess von
Voss made her appearance.

“Your majesty has called me,” she said, and, after looking around the
room, she cast a glance of surprise on the clock.

“Ah, my dear countess, you are surprised that Mr. Himmel, my
singing-master, has already left, although the hour has only half
expired?” asked the queen, merrily.

“Your majesty,” said the countess, sighing, “I really ought no longer to
be surprised at any thing, nor wonder at any violation of etiquette, for
such things, unfortunately, occur every day and every hour. Your majesty
knows, moreover, that this Mr. Himmel is altogether distasteful to me.”

“And why?” asked the queen, gayly.

“Your majesty, because it is contrary to etiquette for a queen to take
lessons, and to have a teacher.”

“What!” exclaimed Louisa. “According to etiquette, then, a queen is not
permitted to learn any thing after ascending the throne?”

“No, your majesty, for it is entirely unbecoming that one of your
subjects should become the teacher of his queen, and that anybody should
be permitted and dare to censure her.”

“Well, do not you do so very often, my dear countess?” asked the queen,
good-naturedly.

“I dare not censure the queen, but merely to defend and maintain
etiquette, as my duty and official position require me to do. But a
queen who takes lessons must descend from her throne so long as her
teacher is with her; must renounce her exalted position, and obey
instead of commanding. In such a case, therefore, etiquette is
altogether out of the question.”

“You are right,” said Louisa, merrily. “Mr. Himmel, the concert-master,
at least, entirely coincides with you, and he takes no notice whatever
of etiquette. Shall I confess to you, my dear countess, why Mr. Himmel
has run away to-day half an hour before the regular time?”

“Run away?” asked the mistress of ceremonies, in dismay. “He has dared
to run away in the presence of your majesty?”

“Yes, he has dared to do so, but previously he has dared to do something
a great deal worse. He has--but, dear countess, sit down; you might turn
giddy.”

“Oh no, your majesty, permit me to stand. Your majesty was going to
communicate graciously to me what Mr. Himmel--this teacher of a queen is
not even a nobleman--has dared to do in the presence of your majesty.”

“Well, listen to me,” said the queen, smiling; and bending down closely
to the ear of the countess, she whispered: “He has kissed my shoulder!”

The mistress of ceremonies uttered a piercing cry and tottered back in
dismay.

“Kissed!” she faltered.

“Yes, kissed,” sighed the queen; “I really believe it is still to be
seen.”

She walked with light, swinging steps to the large looking-glass, and
looked at her shoulder with a charming, child-like smile.

“Yes, that small red spot there is Mr. Himmel’s crime!” she said. “Tell
me what punishment he has deserved, countess.”

“That is a question for the courts alone to decide,” said the mistress
of ceremonies, solemnly; “for we shall bring the occurrence, of course,
at once to their notice. Orders should be issued immediately to arrest
him, and his punishment should be as unparalleled as was his offence.
Your majesty will permit me to repair at once to the king in order--“.

“No, my dear mistress of ceremonies,” said the queen, who was still
standing in front of the looking glass and contemplating her own form,
not with the contented looks of a conceited woman, but with the calm,
stern eyes of a critic examining a work of art--“no, my dear mistress of
ceremonies, we shall take good care not to raise a hue and cry about it.
And Mr. Himmel is not so culpable, after all, as he seems to be.”

“What! Your majesty intends to defend him?”

“Not to defend, but to excuse him, my dear countess. He was at my side
as my dear old teacher, and I was to him not a queen, but a pupil; and,
moreover, a pupil with very beautiful shoulders. My dear countess, I
am really more culpable than poor Himmel, for, if the queen becomes a
pupil, she must remember that her teacher is a man, and she must not
treat him merely as an automaton instructing her. The only judge who is
able to decide this matter is my husband, the king. He shall pronounce
judgment on it, and if he permits Mr. Himmel to come back, I shall go
on with my singing-lessons. However,” added the queen, smiling,
and blushing delicately, “in future I shall wrap a shawl around my
shoulders. And now, my dear countess, pray let us not mention this
little affair to anybody. I shall submit it to the king and ask him to
decide it.”

“I shall be silent because your majesty orders me to keep the occurrence
secret,” sighed the countess. “But it is unheard-of, it is dreadful.
It is rank treason, and the offended royal majesty will forgive without
punishing.”

“Oh, yes, I will!” exclaimed the queen, joyfully. “Forgiving without
punishing, is not that the most sacred and sublime power of a queen; is
it not the most brilliant gem in our crown? How miserable and deplorable
would monarchs be if God had not conferred the right of mercy upon them!
We stand ourselves so much in need of mercy and forbearance, for we
commit errors and faults like other mortals, and yet we judge and
punish like gods. Let us be merciful, therefore, that we may be judged
mercifully.”

The door of the anteroom opened at this moment, and the
chamberlain-in-waiting entered.

“Your majesty,” he said, “Prince Louis Ferdinand and Minister von
Hardenberg beg leave to wait on your majesty.”

“I expected these gentlemen at this hour,” said the queen, glancing
at the clock; “let them come in, therefore. And you, my dear countess,
farewell.”

“Your majesty orders me to withdraw?” asked the mistress of ceremonies,
hesitatingly, “Etiquette requires that the queen should give her
audiences only in the presence of her mistress of ceremonies, or of one
of her ladies of honor.”

“My dear countess,” said the queen, with a slight tinge of impatience,
“I am not going to give any audience, but merely to receive a friendly
visit from my royal cousin and his friend; as I know it is their
intention to communicate to me matters which no one except myself can
hear, I shall receive them alone. Hence be so kind as to withdraw.”

“His royal highness Prince Louis Ferdinand and his excellency Minister
von Hardenberg!” shouted the footman, opening the folding-doors.

The queen nodded a parting greeting to the mistress of ceremonies, and
advanced a few steps to meet the visitors, while the countess, heaving
mournful sighs, disappeared through the side-door.



CHAPTER XLV.

THE CONFERENCE.


Prince Louis Ferdinand, a nephew of Frederick the Great, and Minister
von Hardenberg, were at that time the most popular men in Prussia,
because they were known to be the leaders of the party which at the
court of Berlin considered the accession of Prussia to the coalition
of Russia, England, and Austria, as the only means to save the country,
while Minister von Haugwitz, Lombard, the first secretary of foreign
affairs, and General Kockeritz, constantly renewed their efforts to win
the king to an alliance with France.

Prince Ferdinand, a fine looking young man, scarcely thirty years
of age, in his brilliant uniform, in which his tall and noble form
presented a very imposing appearance, and in which he looked like the
incarnation of an heroic warrior, was consequently the special favorite
of the soldiers, who told the most astonishing and incredible stories
about his intrepidity and hardihood. He was, besides, the favorite of
the ladies, who called him the best-looking and most amiable man in
the whole monarchy; and, with amiable indulgence, attributed his many
adventures and acts of inconstancy, his wild and dissipated life, his
extravagance and numerous debts, to the genius of the prince. He was,
indeed, an extraordinary man, one of those on whose brow Providence
has imprinted the stamp of genius,--not to their own good, but to
their misfortune, and who either miserably perish by their genius, or
constantly inflict with it the most painful wounds upon others.

Minister von Hardenberg, who now, after a long struggle, had succeeded
in overcoming the influence of Minister von Haugwitz, and, with him,
that of the French party, was one of those rare and extraordinary
statesmen who have made diplomacy not a business, but the task of
their whole life, and who have devoted to it all the strength, all the
thoughts and feelings of their soul. A native of Hanover, and receiving
rapid promotion at the hands of the government of that country, he had,
nevertheless, soon entered the service of the Duke of Brunswick, who had
charged him, after the death of Frederick the Great, to take the king’s
will, which had been deposited in the ducal archives at Brunswick, to
Berlin. [Footnote: “Memoires d’un Homme d’Etat,” vol. i., p. 202.] King
Frederick William the Second, who was so sagacious as to perceive and
appreciate the diplomatic talents of the young ambassador, had induced
him to enter his service, and intrusted to him the difficult mission
of negotiating the annexation of Baireuth to Prussia, of settling the
claims of the margrave, of paying the crushing burden of the debts of
Baireuth as speedily as possible, and of restoring the country, which
had suffered so much, to its former prosperity and content. Afterward he
had been appointed minister of state and war in Prussia, and since that
time he had always displayed the greatest activity and zeal in serving
Prussia according to the dictates of his honest conviction, but at
the same time also to guard the interests of the great fatherland, the
interests of Germany. The influence of France, above all, seemed to
him to endanger these interests; hence he believed it to be specially
incumbent upon him to preserve at least Prussia from this noxious
influence and to push her over to the other side, to the side of the
coalition, than to allow her to be devoured, like a poor little bird, by
the French basilisk. These endeavors, which kept up a continual conflict
between him and the special favorites and confidants of the king,
Haugwitz and Kockeritz, had gained him the love and esteem of all
Prussian patriots, and secured him an extraordinary popularity. These
two favorites of the Prussian people now entered the queen’s cabinet.

Louisa replied to the familiar and friendly--rather than
respectful--greeting of the prince with a smile and a nod, and received
the respectful bow of the minister with the calm and proud dignity of a
queen.

“Well, my merry and reckless cousin,” she said, turning to the prince,
“are there again some sins to be confessed, some neglects of discipline
to be hushed up, some tears to be dried, and the mercy of the king to
be implored for the extravagant freaks of our genius? And is it for
that reason that you have brought along so eloquent an advocate and
attorney?”

“No, your majesty,” said the prince, heaving a sigh, “this time,
unfortunately, I have to confess to you no merry freaks and agreeable
sins, and I am afraid I am about to become a steady man, and to turn my
back on all extravagant pranks. Hence, the minister has not accompanied
me this time in order to defend me and to implore the gracious
intercession of my royal cousin, but we have come for the purpose of
repeating to your majesty Prussia’s cry of anguish and distress, and of
beseeching you to assist us in saving her from the ruin on the verge of
which she is tottering at the present time!”

The queen looked alternately at the prince and at the minister with
grave, wondering eyes. “It is a political conference, then, you wish to
hold with me?” she asked; and when the two gentlemen made no reply, she
continued more rapidly and in a slightly agitated voice--“in that case,
gentlemen, I must request you to leave me, for I am no politician, and I
do not aspire to the role of a political intriguer. I am the wife of the
reigning king, but not a reigning queen; my sole endeavor is to render
the king a happy husband at home, and to cause him to forget at my side
politics and the vexations of his official position.”

“I am afraid, your majesty,” said Minister von Hardenberg, solemnly--“I
am afraid the time for such an idol on the throne is past; and instead
of causing the king to forget the vexations of his position, it will now
be the great task of your majesty to bear them with him.”

“And we have come to beg my noble and magnanimous cousin to do so,”
 exclaimed the prince, enthusiastically. “We have come to implore your
assistance and cooperation in the name of Prussia, in the name of all
German patriots, and in the name of your children!”

“In the name of my children?” ejaculated the queen, turning pale.
“Speak! speak! what has happened? what calamity threatens my children?
I decline listening to you as a queen, but I will do so as a mother, who
anxiously desires to secure the happiness of her children. What evils,
what calamities do you refer to?”

“The independence, nay, perhaps the whole existence of Prussia, is
menaced,” said Minister von Hardenberg, solemnly. “We have to choose
whether Prussia is to be an isolated state, shunned by everybody, and
despised by everybody--a state which France will be able to devour with
impunity and amid the jeers of the whole world, as she has devoured
Italy, Holland, and the left bank of the Rhine--or whether Prussia will
preserve her power, her independence, and her honor, by not staving off
a division any longer, but meeting her friends as well as her enemies
with open visor, and by assuming at length an active and resolute
attitude instead of the vacillating and hesitating course she has so
long pursued!”

“We ought to oppose the Emperor of France in a manly manner,” exclaimed
the prince, energetically. “If we do not interfere with his proceedings,
he will soon be our master as he is of all those who call themselves his
allies, and who are really nothing but his slaves. My heart kindles with
rage when I now see all Germany trembling with fear before this son of
a Corsican lawyer, this tyrant who assassinated the noble and innocent
Duke d’Enghien, and who, not contenting himself with chaining France,
would like to catch the whole world in his imperial mantle so as to
fatten its golden bees on it. And he will succeed in doing so, unless we
resist him, for his word is now already the law of half the world, and
this emperor carries out whatever he wants to do. Truly, if he should
feel some day a hankering for a dish of princes’ ears, I should no
longer deem my own ears safe, nor those of your young princes either!”
 [Footnote: Prince Louis Ferdinand said this to the queen.--Vide “Rahel
and her Friends,” vol. i.]

The queen did not smile at this jest which the prince had uttered in an
angry voice, but she turned once more with a grave and anxious air to
the minister.

“Tell me, has any thing occurred?” she asked. “Has there been a change
in the political situation?”

“Yes, your majesty,” replied the minister, “there has been a change in
the political situation; the Emperor Napoleon has dared to violate our
neutrality, and if Prussia should not now demand satisfaction she either
loses her honor, or she places herself before the whole world as the
ally of France, and defies thereby the open hostility of Austria,
Russia, and England.”

“You dare to say that Prussia’s honor has been attacked, and to doubt
that the king will hold the offender responsible for such an outrage?”
 exclaimed the queen, with flashing eyes. “The king, who is the
incarnation of honor, will not permit even the shadow of a stain to fall
on Prussia’s honor; in generous anger he will hurl back the insolent
hand that will dare to shake the palladium of our honor.”

“Oh, if you think and speak thus,” said the prince, enthusiastically, “I
have no longer any fears, but consider Prussia as saved already from the
dangers now menacing her. As I see your majesty now, in your wondrous
beauty, with those eyes reflecting your inward heaven, with this face so
radiant with enthusiasm, you seem to be the genius whom Providence has
sent to Prussia to guard and protect her, and to guide her on the
right path and to the right goal. O, queen! fulfil the mission which
Providence has intrusted to you; follow your noble and sacred vocation;
be the genius of Prussia; and impart to the vacillating and timid, firm,
manly courage and energetic resolution! Queen, I implore you, on my
knees, have pity on Prussia, have pity on your children: be the genius
of Prussia!”

And quite beside himself, his eyes filled with tears, his lips quivering
with emotion, the prince knelt down before the queen and raised his
folded hands imploringly to her.

“Your majesty, permit me also to bend my knees before you,” said
Minister von Hardenberg, solemnly, “to adore and worship you as the
genius of Prussia, from whom we expect our salvation, our peace, and
our honor! Oh, queen, you alone have the power to touch the heart of the
king and to remove the doubts of his noble and honorable mind; you
alone will be able to accomplish what neither our arguments nor our
supplications could bring about; you alone will be able to elevate
the vacillation of your husband to the strength of high-spirited and
courageous resolution!”

“No, not a word against the king!” exclaimed the queen, almost sternly.
“Let no one dare to assert that the king lacks manly determination and
vigorous courage. If he is hesitating when you would wish to act, it
is because he looks into the future more prudently and sagaciously than
you, while you only think of the present time; it is because he weighs
and calculates the consequences, while you only care for the action of
the moment. But arise, gentlemen: let us not perform a sentimental scene
at a time when it is of the highest importance to be prudent and to
reflect. Let us converse, therefore, gravely and soberly; explain to me
what has happened, and what danger is menacing Prussia and my children.
I comply now with your wish; let us hold a political conference. Let us
sit down, then, and commence.”

She took a seat on the sofa, and invited the gentlemen to sit down on
the two chairs opposite her.

“Now tell me what has occurred, and what has changed the political
situation. Minister von Hardenberg, pray give me a full and plain
account of the state of our political affairs, for I have already told
you that I never meddle with politics, and do not know much about
them; indeed I have been too happy, and my life too much absorbed by my
happiness, to have made it necessary for me to think of politics. But
I see very well that the time of quiet happiness is over now! Let us,
then, speak of politics. You said, a few minutes ago, Prussia had been
insulted by France?”

“Yes, your majesty, Prussia has been insulted. Her most sacred right,
her neutrality, has been violated,” replied Hardenberg. “The king, in
his generous endeavor to preserve the blessings of peace to his people,
intended to maintain a strict neutrality amid all these wars and storms
agitating the world, and the friend and ally of no party and no power,
to rely exclusively on his own strength. He wanted to wait, to mediate,
and conciliate, but not to attack, act, and decide. There may be times
when such a role is a weighty and dignified one--may secure the peace of
the world; but it always depends on those between whom one wishes to
act as a neutral mediator. One may remain neutral between men of honor,
between princes, to whom their word is sacred, and who do not dare to
violate treaties, but not between those to whom their word is sacred
only so long as their own advantage requires it, and who do not violate
treaties only so long as they do not interfere with their selfish plans.
It is a principle of neutrality not to open one’s territory to either
of the contending powers, and this principle has always been strictly
observed. When Russia, now that she is going to send her troops for
the second time to Germany for the purpose of assisting the Austrians,
informed the king that she would march these troops through Southern
Prussia and Silesia, the king deemed this information equivalent to a
declaration of war, and his majesty immediately ordered the whole army
to be placed on the war footing. We should now be at war with Russia, if
the Emperor Alexander had not sent on the day after the first dispatch
had arrived here, another dispatch to the king, in which he apologized,
and declared that he had been too rash in making the above-named demand.
[Footnote: Vide Hausser’s “History of Germany,” vol. 11., p. 635.
“Memoires d’un Homme d’Etat,” vol. viii., p. 474.] But this step of
Russia, this mere threat of violation of our neutrality, had sufficed
to induce Prussia to place her army on the war footing, and to do so
AGAINST the coalition of Austria, Russia, and England. A cry of horror
resounded throughout Germany when the people heard of this first step
by which Prussia seemed to declare publicly FOR France and AGAINST the
coalition, and this cry was reechoed abroad, of which the conduct of the
King of Sweden gave us a striking proof. Your majesty is aware that this
king, through his ambassador, M. de Bernstorf, returned to his majesty
the King of Prussia the order of the Black Eagle which he had received
from the late lamented king, accompanying it by an insulting letter in
which he stated, that ‘he could not wear an order which the king had
recently also sent to Monsieur Bonaparte.’”

“And on the same day that this offensive return of the highest Prussian
order took place,” exclaimed Prince Louis Ferdinand, with a harsh, angry
laugh, “on the same day the King of Prussia received from the Emperor of
France the grand cordon and seven other grand crosses of the Legion of
Honor to be distributed among the princes and ministers. And not only
did we receive these seven orders, but in return for them we sent seven
orders of the Black Eagle to Paris.” [Footnote: Hausser’s “History of
Germany,” vol. ii., p. 76.]

“But you forget to add that the king returned on the same day the
Scraphine order to the King of Sweden, and recalled his ambassador, so
that we are now in a state of war with Sweden,” said the queen, eagerly.

“Oh, my royal cousin, you betray your secrets,” exclaimed the prince,
joyfully, “you wanted us to believe that your majesty did not care
at all for politics, and now you know the most minute details so
accurately.”

“I take a lively interest in every occurrence which grieves the heart
of my husband,” said the queen; “and that event made a very painful
impression upon him.”

“Oh, your majesty, it was only a prelude to other mortifications and
insults which we shall have to suffer if the king will not avenge them,”
 said Hardenberg, energetically. “It has been said that Prussia was
siding with France merely because she would not grant Russia a passage
through her neutral territory, and because she placed her army in a
menacing position against Russia. But what would the world say if it
should learn what has now occurred?”

“Well, what has occurred?” asked the queen, breathlessly.

“The Emperor of France has carried out what Russia only threatened to
do. The Emperor of France, without applying for permission, has marched
a portion of his army, commanded by Bernadotte, through Prussian
territory. He has marched his troops, contrary to treaties and to
international law, through Prussian Franconia, Anspach, and Baireuth.”

The queen uttered a cry of surprise, and her cheeks turned pale. “Does
the king already know it?” she asked.

“He has known it since yesterday,” said Hardenberg, gravely. “We kept
the matter secret, because we would only lay it before the public
together with the decision of his majesty.”

“And has the king come already to a decision?” asked the queen.

“He has, your majesty,” said Hardenberg, solemnly. “When Russia
threatened to violate our territory, we placed our army on the war
footing, and it is still in arms. Now that France dares to do what
Russia only threatened to do, we do not turn our arms against her in
order to avenge the insult, but we take our pen and write and ask France
to explain her startling proceedings. It is true we threaten, but do not
strike!”

“No, we do not strike!” exclaimed the prince, laughing scornfully; “we
mobilize our army against our natural friends and allies, but we do not
draw the sword against our natural enemies and adversaries. The army of
Frederick the Great is ready for war, and yet it remains idle and looks
on quietly while the insatiable conqueror is penetrating farther and
farther into the heart of Germany; while he is scattering broadcast the
seeds of treachery, discord, and mischief; while he is persuading the
German princes to turn traitors to Germany; while he is poisoning and
corrupting the hearts of the people and degrading their characters to
such an extent, that the sense of fidelity, honesty, and constancy will
soon become extinct in Germany, and all the Germans will be nothing but
a horde of slaves, who will be happy if this tyrant does not apply the
lash too often to their backs, and who will kiss his feet, so that he
may step at least mildly and gently on their necks! If the tyrant should
succeed now in humiliating Austria, who alone has been courageous enough
to oppose him; if Napoleon should defeat the Austrian army, Germany
would be lost and become nothing but a French province like Italy and
Holland: all the German princes would lay their crowns at the feet of
Napoleon, and be glad if he should suffer them only as governors in
their former states, or leave them at least their empty titles after
depriving them of their possessions!”

“No, no,” exclaimed the queen, “we must not, we shall not permit that!
Prussia is ready to maintain the honor of Germany; Prussia will rise
like a hero accustomed to victory; she will drive the invader from her
territory, and compel him, with arms in her hands, to keep the peace,
if she is unable to obtain it with her pen. You are right, the time of
neutrality and hesitation is past, and henceforth we must act. I shall
no longer remain neutral, I shall act too. You have appealed to the
mother and wife and shown her the danger threatening her children and
her husband; you have reminded the daughter of Germany of the horrors
menacing her fatherland; you have pointed out to the Queen of Prussia
the evils impending over her people; the mother, the wife, and the queen
has heard and understood you. The time of neutrality is past; we must
move the heart of the best and most magnanimous king by our prayers and
remonstrances, in order that he may listen to us, and no longer to the
insinuations and flatteries of his enemies, so that he may discern his
friends as well as his enemies. The king is hesitating only because, in
generous self-abnegation, he prefers the happiness of his people to his
own wishes and to the gratification of his own desires. A soldier by
nature and predilection, he compels himself to be a peaceable ruler,
because he believes it is necessary for the happiness of his people.
Let us prove to him that his subjects refuse to accept this generous
sacrifice, and that they are joyfully ready to remove the stains from
their honor with their heart’s blood. Let public opinion speak out and
come to our assistance. I say, ‘to OUR assistance,’ for henceforth I
shall side with you, I shall be a member of your party, and a determined
and outspoken enemy of France!”

“May God bless your majesty for these words!” said Hardenberg, deeply
moved; “I am once again in hopes that Prussia will be saved, for she
has now won an ally who brings more to her than armies and arms, and who
places the enthusiasm and indomitable determination of a great chieftain
at the head of our people.”

“And with this chieftain at our head we shall vanquish every French
army,” exclaimed Prince Louis, enthusiastically, “with this chieftain
at our head we shall triumphantly march against the enemy, and one
idea, one sentiment will animate all of us: Queen Louisa is watching
and praying for us! Oh, my queen, would that that blessed day of battle
could dawn for us! Command the sun of that day to rise and to shine into
all Prussian hearts, and to fire them with patriotism so as to shrink
back no longer from death and wounds, but only from dishonor and
degradation! Oh, my blood burns like fire in my veins; it would like
to burst forth in a fiery torrent and drown and burn every Frenchman.
Queen, have mercy on me--let the solemn day when I may shed my blood for
the fatherland dawn without delay!”

“Live and labor for the fatherland!” said the queen, with flaming eyes,
and her face radiant with enthusiasm. “It is not the most exalted and
difficult task to die an heroic death for a great idea, but it is even
more noble and difficult to nourish and preserve this idea in the gloomy
days of adversity, and not to abandon it and give it up in a period of
affliction, but to remain its guardian and priest, even though fate may
seem to reject it and to humiliate us with it. Now that I am entering
a new life-path, I say to you, from the bottom of my heart, we will
struggle for the honor, liberty, and independence of Prussia and
Germany, but we will be determined, too, not only to die for these
ideas, but also to suffer and bear affliction for them. Oh, it seems
to me as though I were looking at this moment into the future, and as
though I did see there much misery and distress in store for us, many
storms and thunder-clouds!”

“But the sun is hidden behind the thunder-clouds, and when the thunder
has died away it will shine again,” said Hardenberg.

“And it will then shine on the heads of my husband and of my children!”
 exclaimed the queen, raising her radiant eyes to heaven. “Above all, it
will shine on the Prussian people from the face of their adored Queen
Louisa,” said the prince.

The queen smiled sadly. “Let us not speak of the sun, but of the
thunder-clouds preceding it. They are gathering around us; let us see
how we can break through them. You may count on my earnest assistance.
My husband and my children are in danger, I feel and see it. France is
the enemy menacing them. Henceforward we will oppose this enemy with
open visor. I promise it to you in the name of Prussia, in the name of
my husband, and of my children. Here, take my hand; we will stand by
each other, and struggle together against France for the honor and glory
of Prussia. You will fight with your sword and with your pen, and I
shall do so with my word and my love. May the people support us, may God
bless us!”

“May God bless us!” repeated the prince and the minister, reverentially
kissing the queen’s hands.

“And now, gentlemen, go,” said the queen, after a short pause “Let us
not desecrate this solemn moment by any additional words. Every thing
for Prussia! Let that be our watchword! and so I bid you farewell for
to-day. Every thing for Prussia!”

“Every thing for Prussia!” repeated the two gentlemen, taking leave of
the queen.

Louisa sent a long, melancholy look after them; then she turned hastily
around and crossed the room with rapid steps; the sudden draught
produced by her quick passage blew the music-paper from the piano to the
floor; it fell exactly at the queen’s feet.

She picked it up; it was the song she had sung an hour ago. A painful
smile played on the lips of the queen, and raising her eyes sadly to
heaven, she whispered, in a low voice:

“Oh, my God, grant that this may not be an omen, and that I may not
be compelled to eat my bread with tears, and to weep through nights
of affliction! But if it must be, O God, give me strength to bear my
misfortunes uncomplainingly, and to be a comfort to my husband, a mother
to my children!”



CHAPTER XLVI.

THE OATH AT THE GRAVE OF FREDERICK THE GREAT.


The wishes of the queen had rapidly been fulfilled; public opinion had
declared in Berlin with rare energy and emphasis against France, and the
people had received the news of the violation of Prussia’s neutrality
with a unanimous cry of rage and horror. The inhabitants of Berlin,
usually so peaceable and addicted to pleasure, seemed all at once
transformed into heroes grave and eager for war, who no longer knew any
other aim than to avenge as speedily as possible the insult offered to
them, and to call France to account for the outrage she had committed
against Prussia.

“War! war!” That was the word of jubilee and supplication now resounding
on every street, and in every house; like one exulting prayer of the
whole nation, it rose to the windows of the royal palace, and seemed
to rap gently at them, so that the king might open them and let it
penetrate into his heart.

The people spoke everywhere of this one great affair; they asked each
other, in conversation: “Shall we take up arms? Shall we declare war
against France?”

Those who answered these questions in the negative were treated in the
most contemptuous manner; the people turned their backs on them, with
angry glances and threatening murmurs: to those, however, who replied in
the affirmative, they offered their hands joyfully and greeted them as
friends and allies.

Minister von Haugwitz was known to be an adherent of the French and
an opponent of the war; the people rushed to his house and broke his
windows, shouting loudly and angrily, “We do not want peace! Let all the
French and friends of the French perish!”

Minister von Hardenberg, on the other hand, was hailed by the people
with the most enthusiastic applause wherever he made his appearance; and
on their return from the house of Minister von Haugwitz, they hurried to
Hardenberg’s humble residence in order to cheer him and to shout, “War!
war! We want war with France!”

Not only the people in the streets, however, but also the best classes
of the public participated in this general enthusiasm, and did not
hesitate to give vent to it in public. Even the royal functionaries
found suddenly sufficient energy to show themselves as German patriots,
and it was certainly not unintentional that “Wallenstein’s Camp,” by
Schiller, was to be performed at the Royal Theatre during those days of
general excitement.

Everybody wished to attend this performance; all Berlin rushed to the
Royal Theatre, and the fortunate persons who had succeeded in obtaining
tickets were envied by the thousands unable to gain admission. The
theatre was crowded; the pit was a surging sea, the gallery was filled
to suffocation, and in the boxes of the first and second tiers the
aristocratic, elegant, educated, and learned world of all Berlin seemed
to have met. All faces were glowing, all lips were smiling, all eyes
were sparkling; every one was aware that this was to be a political
demonstration, and every one was happy and proud to participate in it.

When Prince Louis Ferdinand made his appearance in the small royal
proscenium-box, all eyes turned immediately toward him, and when he bent
forward from his box, and seemed to greet the audience with his merry
eyes and winning smile, there arose a storm of applause as though a
favorite singer had just concluded an aria di bravura and received the
thanks of the enraptured listeners. Suddenly, however, the loud applause
died away, perhaps because the prince had waved his hands as if he
wished to calm this roaring sea--perhaps because the attention of the
audience was attracted by somebody else. The eyes of the crowd turned
from the prince toward an adjoining box. Four gentlemen, in brilliant
uniforms, had just entered it; but these uniforms were not those of the
Prussian army, and the broad ribbons which these gentlemen wore across
their breasts, were not the ribbons of Prussian orders. The newcomers,
who had entered the box, were the members of the French embassy--General
Lefevre, with his attaches, and General Duroc, whom Napoleon had
recently again sent to Berlin in order to strengthen the friendly
relations of France and Prussia. It was certainly a mere accident that
Prince Louis Ferdinand, just at the moment when these gentlemen
intended to salute him, turned to the opposite side, and did not see and
acknowledge their greetings; it was certainly a mere accident that the
audience, which had just now shouted and applauded jubilantly, all at
once commenced hissing loudly.

The members of the French embassy took good care not to refer this
hissing to themselves; they took their seats quietly near the balustrade
of the box, and seemed to take no notice of the loud murmurs and the
threatening glances of the audience.

The band now struck up the overture. It was a skilfully arranged medley
of well-known popular war-songs, interlarded with the Dessauer and
Hohenfriedberger march, as if the enthusiasm of the audience were to be
carried to the highest pitch by brilliant reminiscences of the heroic
deeds and imperishable glory of Prussia.

All at once a joyful murmur spread through the pit, the boxes, and
the gallery. “The king, the queen!” whispered everybody, and all those
hundreds of faces turned toward the small proscenium-box which the royal
couple had just entered.

The queen, radiantly beautiful, with rosy cheeks and sparkling eyes,
greeted the audience with an enchanting smile; the king, whose brow
seemed unusually gloomy and clouded, cast only a hesitating and anxious
glance over the house, and then withdrew behind the crimson curtain of
the box.

The stage-curtain rose; the performance commenced. The audience followed
it with the most ardent sympathy; every word referring to the liberty
and independence of Germany, was hailed with thunders of applause,
and jubilant shouts resounded at every allusion to foreign tyranny and
despotism. The actors had now reached the last part of the piece, the
merry, soul-stirring horseman’s song concluding the whole. “WOHLAUF,
KAMERADEN AUF’S PFER, AUF’S PFERD!” sang the chorus on the stage,
and the audience followed every verse, every line, with breathless
attention. All at once people looked in great surprise at each other,
and then listened with the utmost suspense to the singers, who had
added to the merry horseman’s song a verse which had not been heard
heretofore. And when the last words of this verse had died away, the
whole audience shouted and roared, “DA CAPO! DA CAPO!” In the pit, in
the boxes, in the gallery, in short, every one rose to their feet, and
all eyes again turned to the box in which the members of the French
embassy were seated, and thus, standing, in a jubilant tone and with
threatening glances, the whole audience joined the chorus of the actors
on the stage; for they knew already the words of the additional verse by
heart, and sang in a thundering voice:

    “Wohlauf, Kameraden, zur Schlacht, zum Krieg,
     In’s Feld, in die Freibeit gezogen.
     Zur blutigeu Schlacht, zum rachenden Sieg
     Uber den, der uns Freundsehaft gelogen!
     Und Tod und Verderhen dem falschen Mann,
     Der treulos den Frieden brechen kann!”

[Footnote: “On, comrades, to battle, to war--let us march into the field
and fight for liberty! To bloody battle, to avenging victory over him
who has lied friendship to us! And death and destruction to the false
man who has perfidiously broken the peace!”

This whole scene is strictly in accordance with history; and the
additional verse, if not literally the same, renders at least the
sentiment of the lines which were sung on that memorable evening.--Vide
“Memoires d’un Homme d’Etat,” vol. viii., p. 496, and “Napoleon; a
Memoir,” by--, vol. ii., p. 73.]

And the audience repeated once more the last two lines

“Und Tod und Verderben dem falschen Mann, Der treulos den Frieden
brechen kann!”

All eyes then turned to the royal box. The king was still hidden
behind the small curtain. The queen had risen. Folding her hands, as
if praying, she had raised her eyes to heaven, and two tears ran slowly
down her cheeks.

Prince Louis Ferdinand bent toward Minister von Hardenberg, who had just
entered his box. “Do you see the queen?” he said, in a low voice. “Does
she not look really like a genius praying for Prussia?”

“Ah, and, perhaps, weeping for Prussia!” whispered Hardenberg--“But let
us not give way now to gloomy anticipations. I am the bearer of good and
unexpected news. Listen to me. The king and the queen will rise in a few
minutes in order to leave the box, and who knows whether the audience
will be patient and calm enough to witness the whole ballet, which is
just commencing? I see some of my agents already below in the pit, where
they have made their appearance in order to circulate my news.”

“I beseech your excellency, be here your own agent, and communicate the
news to me.”

Minister Hardenberg bent closer to the prince’s ear. “I suppose you know
that, thanks to the influence of the queen, I have induced the king
to sign a tolerably warlike and threatening note to the Emperor of the
French?”

“But will this note really be forwarded to Napoleon?”

“It has already been forwarded. But I had sent also a messenger to the
Emperor of Russia with a copy of this note, and the emperor, it seems,
has understood my mission, for--But, just look, my prophecy commences
being fulfilled. The king and the queen rise and leave their box; and
notice, too, the migration beginning in the pit, and among the occupants
of the orchestra-stalls. The beautiful ballet-girls will soon dance
before empty benches.”

“But do not let me die with curiosity, your excellency. Tell me at
length what has occurred.”

“A surprise, prince. The Emperor Alexander will reach Berlin within an
hour!”

“Are you not jesting? Do you speak in earnest?”

“In dead earnest, prince. The emperor comprehends that the favorable
hour must be improved, and he comes in order to conquer the friendship
of Frederick William, and to overcome his indecision, so that they may
then vanquish the French invader with their united forces. The emperor
is a very sagacious man, and being half a German, he knows doubtless the
German proverb, ‘Strike while the iron is hot.’ Our noble queen, with
both of us and our excellent people, will help the emperor to strike
the iron. Look, the people commence striking already. They rush from the
theatre in order to receive the Emperor Alexander at the gate, and to
cheer him while he is riding to the palace. Let us follow the example of
the people of Berlin. Let us go to receive the Emperor Alexander--if
it please God, our ally--at the gate.” [Footnote: The Emperor Alexander
arrived in Berlin quite unexpectedly on October 23, 1805; the courier
who had announced his arrival had reached the Prussian capital only a
few hours previously.]

Hardenberg’s predictions were to be fulfilled this time. Thanks to the
powerful allies who were fighting for his policy and for Prussia, the
king summoned up sufficient courage to take a decisive resolution. Those
allies of Hardenberg and Prussia were now not only the queen, Prince
Louis Ferdinand, and public opinion, but they were joined by the Emperor
Alexander, who had arrived from Poland, and the Archduke Anthony, whom
the Emperor of Austria had sent to Berlin at the same time for the
purpose of winning the friendship of the king. But still another ally
suddenly and unexpectedly entered the lists for Hardenberg’s policy
and for the coalition, and this ally was the good fortune and genius of
Napoleon.

Dreadful tidings reached Berlin simultaneously with the arrival of
Archduke Anthony. Napoleon had gained another victory; he had defeated
the Austrians at Ulm; [Footnote: October 20, 1805] twenty-three thousand
Austrians had laid down their arms at the feet of the Emperor of the
French, and then started as prisoners of war for France. Surrounded by a
brilliant staff, Napoleon made the humiliated, vanquished Austrians
file off before him, between the French army, which was drawn up in two
lines. When they laid down their arms, and when this flashing pile rose
higher and higher, Napoleon’s face, which, amidst the hail of bullets
and the dangers of the battle, had preserved its marble, antique
calmness, became radiant, as if lighted up by a sunbeam, and he turned
with a gracious smile toward the Austrian generals and officers, who
approached him humbly and with lowered heads, in order to thank him for
giving them permission to return to Austria, and for not compelling them
to accompany their soldiers as prisoners of war to France.

But this smile disappeared rapidly from the emperor’s countenance, which
now became threatening and angry. In a voice rolling like thunder
over the heads of the humiliated Austrians, the emperor said: “It is a
misfortune that men so brave as you, whose names are honorably
mentioned wherever you have fought, should now become the victims of
the stupidities of a cabinet which only dreams of senseless schemes,
and does not hesitate to endanger the dignity of the state and of
the nation. It was an unheard-of proceeding to seize me by the throat
without a declaration of war; but it is a crime against one’s own people
to bring about a foreign invasion; it is betraying Europe, to draw
Asiatic hordes into our combats. Instead of attacking me without any
good reason whatever, the Austrian cabinet ought to have united with
me for the purpose of expelling the Russian army from Germany. This
alliance of your cabinet is something unheard of in history; it cannot
be the work of the statesmen of your nation; it is, in short, the
alliance of the dogs and shepherds with the wolf against the sheep. Had
France succumbed in this struggle, you would have speedily perceived
the mistake you have committed.” [Footnote: “Memoires du Duc de Rovigo,”
 vol. 11., p. 159.]

Such were the tidings which Archduke Anthony had brought with him from
Vienna; such was the new ally Hardenberg had won for his policy and for
Prussia.

This new victory, this new conquest Napoleon had made in Germany, loomed
up before the king as a danger which menaced himself, and compelled
him to take up arms for his own defence. The threatening and defiant
language of the French emperor sounded truly revolting to the heart
of the German king, and instead of being intimidated by this new and
unparalleled triumph, by this threatening language Napoleon had made use
of, he was only provoked to offer him resistance; he perceived all at
once that he could only be the servant and slave of this powerful man,
or his enemy, and that Napoleon never would tolerate any one as an equal
at his side. What were those three German princes who had found three
crowns on the battle-field of Ulm? Those new Kings of Wurtemberg and
Bavaria, that Grand-duke of Baden, were only vassals and servants of the
Emperor of France, who had first given, and then PERMITTED them to wear
these crowns.

King Frederick William needed no such crown. A genius stood at his side
and breathed with a heavenly smile into his ear: “It is better to die
in an honorable struggle for freedom than to live in splendor and
magnificence, but with a stain on your honor.”

And the king listened to the voice of his genius: he listened to the
voice of his minister, who implored him to defend the integrity of his
state for the sake of the honor and welfare of Prussia and Germany;
he listened to the voice of his people, who demanded war loudly and
ardently; he listened to the voice of the Emperor Alexander, who vowed
to him eternal love and eternal friendship; he listened, finally, to the
voice of his own heart, which was the heart of a true German, and felt
deeply the insult offered to him.

King Frederick William listened to all these voices, and resolved at
length on war against France.

On the 3d of November the Emperor Alexander and King Frederick William
signed at Potsdam a SECRET treaty, by which Prussia agreed to intervene
between Napoleon and the allies. By virtue of this treaty Prussia was to
summon the Emperor of the French to reestablish the former treaties,
and to restore the former state of affairs; that is to say, to give
up almost all his conquests, to indemnify Sardinia, to recognize
the independence of Naples, of the German empire, of Holland, of
Switzerland, and to separate the crown of Italy from that of France. If
France should not consent to these conditions, Prussia agreed to ally
herself openly and unreservedly with the coalition, and take the field
with an army of 180,000 men. A Prussian negotiator was to lay these
conditions before the Emperor Napoleon, and the term at which Prussia
should be obliged to act should expire four weeks after the date of the
treaty. [Footnote: Hausser’s “History of Germany,” vol. ii., p. 652.]

The king, who, in his kindness, was anxious to indemnify Minister von
Haugwitz for the coldness with which he had been latterly treated, and
for his broken windows, had commissioned him to deliver a copy of the
treaty of Potsdam to Napoleon, and to negotiate with him. Haugwitz,
therefore, left Berlin in order to repair to the emperor’s headquarters.
It is true, he did not know exactly where to find them, but he was
satisfied that Napoleon would take care to make his whereabouts known
to him by fresh deeds of heroism and victories, and Count Haugwitz,
therefore, set out.

According to the wishes of the King of Prussia, the treaty of Potsdam,
for some time at least, was to be kept secret; only those immediately
concerned should be informed of its contents, but not the public
generally, and no one was to suspect that Prussia had at length given up
her policy of neutrality.

This secrecy, however, was distasteful to the Emperor Alexander;
moreover, it made Minister von Hardenberg fear lest the king, at the
decisive moment, might be once more gained over to his former favorite
policy of neutrality by the French party at court. It would be wise,
therefore, to force the king so far forward as to render it impossible
for him to recede, and to betray so much of the secret of the concluded
alliance as was required to fasten the king to it.

Hence, the emperor, at the hour of his departure for Austria, requested
the Queen and King of Prussia to accompany him to the grave of
Frederick the Great. At midnight, on the 5th of November, they repaired,
therefore, to the garrison church at Potsdam, the lower vault of which
contains the coffin of the great king. A single torch-bearer accompanied
the three august visitors, whose steps resounded solemnly in the silent,
gloomy halls.

Arriving at the king’s coffin, the emperor knelt down; his face, lighted
up by the glare of the torch, was radiant with enthusiasm. On the other
side of the dark vault stood the king and the queen, both with folded
hands; the king with a gloomy and reserved air, the queen with her eyes
turned to heaven, and her face beaming with pious emotion and joy.

Alexander, still remaining on his knees, now raised his folded hands
toward heaven. “At the grave of the most heroic king,” he said in a loud
and solemn voice--“at the grave of Frederick the Great, I swear to my
ally, the King of Prussia, an oath of everlasting love and constancy;
I swear an oath of everlasting constancy and love to the sacred cause
which has united us for the most exalted purpose. Never shall my
constancy waver; never shall my love grow cold! I swear it!”

He kissed the coffin and rose from his knees; his eyes, glistening with
tears, then turned toward the king, as he said:

“It is your turn now, my brother, to swear the oath.”

The king hesitated.

The queen laid her hand gently on his shoulder, and bent her beautiful
face so close to him that he felt her breath, like the kiss of an angel,
on his cheek.

“Swear the oath, my friend, my beloved,” she whispered; “swear to
be faithful to the holy alliance against the French tyrant; swear
everlasting constancy and love to our noble ally.”

The king hesitated no longer; he raised his head resolutely and
approached the coffin. Laying his hand upon it, he repeated in a grave
and calm voice the words which the queen had uttered before, and which
she now whispered with trembling lips.

All three then grasped each other’s hands over the coffin; thus they
stood a long while, deeply moved and silent.

All at once this silence was interrupted by the loud, ringing notes of
the church clock, announcing the first hour of the new day. The sounds
died away, and the chime of the bells now commenced playing in clear and
sweet notes the old German hymn, “Ueb immer Treu und Redlichkeit, bis
an dein kuhles Grab!” [Footnote: Holty’s beautiful hymn, “Be honest and
faithful until they lay thee in thy cool grave.”]

The king inclined his head, as if in silent prayer; an almost
imperceptible, strange smile overspread the noble features of the
emperor. The queen, however, glowing with enthusiasm, exclaimed:

“God and the spirit of Frederick the Great give us the motto of our
alliance: ‘Ueb immer Treu und Redlichkeit, bis an dein kuhles Grab!’ Let
us remember it as long as we live!”

“Let us remember it,” repeated the two sovereigns, with a firm, manly
grasp. They looked at each other, and with their eyes bade each other a
last farewell.

Then they turned silently away and left the royal vault.

Five minutes later, the Emperor Alexander of Russia was on his way to
Olmutz, in order to join there the Emperor Francis of Austria, who had
fled thither from Napoleon and his victorious army.

At Olmutz the plan for the campaign of the third coalition against
Napoleon was to be agreed upon.



THE FALL OF THE GERMAN EMPIRE.


CHAPTER XLVII.

EVIL TIDINGS.


It was in the last days of November, 1805. After the victory of Ulm,
the Emperor Napoleon had established his headquarters in Brunn, where
he seemed to wait for his adversaries to attack him. There was no longer
one enemy opposed to him; he had no longer to cope with Austria alone,
but also with Russia, whose emperor was now at Olmutz with the Emperor
of Austria, for the purpose of agreeing with him on the plan of
operations by which Napoleon was to be defeated. The Russian army had
already formed a junction with the Austrian forces, and even the Russian
life-guards, the elite of their army, had left Russia in order to
accompany their emperor to the great decisive battle.

But Napoleon had likewise brought his guards along, and these splendid
troops were impatient and eager to fight the last decisive battle with
the Austrians and with “the hordes of the Russian barbarians.”

Napoleon, however, still hesitated; his plans apparently had not been
matured, and he seemed undecided whether to advance still further or to
content himself with the victories he had already obtained.

This last alternative was urged on him by his generals, who believed the
victory of Ulm to be so brilliant a triumph that the French army might
repose on its laurels, instead of drawing the sword once more.

Napoleon, however, did not assent to these views of his generals.

“If we had to cope only with the Austrians we might be satisfied, but
there are the Russians, too, and it will be necessary for us to send
them home. We must give them their passports.”

Greatly elated at this idea, the emperor ordered his horse to be brought
to him.

“We will examine the country a little,” he said to his generals;
“accompany me, gentlemen.”

And surrounded by his brilliant staff, consisting of the most
illustrious and victorious officers of his army, the emperor rode out
far into the plain between Brunn and Vichau, crowned all around with
hills and mountains. His bold, searching glances surveyed the country
in every direction; not a height, not a tree, not a ravine, escaped his
attention; he examined every thing, and seemed to engrave them on his
soul. It was near nightfall when he returned with his generals from
this long ride to his headquarters. He had all day been taciturn and
absorbed, and none of his generals had been permitted to participate
in his plans and observations. He had only sometimes directed their
attention by a laconic word or by a wave of his hand to some peculiarity
of the landscape, and the generals had received these words and gestures
like the mysterious hints of an oracle, with the most respectful
attention, in order to weigh them in their minds, and to indelibly
engrave them in their memory. On his arrival at the door of his
headquarters, the emperor turned his pale, grave face once more to the
plain which they had just left.

“Gentlemen,” he said, in a loud voice, “study that part of the country
as closely as possible; you will have to play a role in it within a
few days. General Suchet, on the left side of your division there is an
isolated mound, commanding your entire front. Cause fourteen cannon
to be placed on it in the course of the present night.” [Footnote:
Napoleon’s own words. Vide “Memoires du Duc de Rovigo,” vol. ii., p.
169.] He nodded to the gentlemen and entered his cabinet.

He paced his room for a long while with folded arms, compressed lips,
and a gloomy air.

“I need a few days more,” he muttered. “If they should attack me now,
quickly and resolutely, I must succumb; if they give me three days’
time, however, I shall defeat them.”

When he then stooped musingly before his desk, he suddenly noticed the
papers lying on it.

“Ah,” he said, hastily seizing a large, sealed letter, “a courier,
who has brought dispatches in my absence! From the minister of the
navy--news from the fleet!”

He broke the seal hurriedly and unfolded the paper. While reading it his
mien became still more gloomy; a cloud of anger settled on his expansive
brow, and his cheeks, which had hitherto only been pale, turned livid.

The glance which he now cast toward heaven would have reminded the
spectator of the Titans who dared to hurl their missiles even at the
Sovereign Deity; the words muttered by his quivering lips were an angry
oath.

With this oath he crumpled up the paper in his hand, threw it down and
stamped on it; then, as if ashamed of his own violence, he sank down
on a chair, and laid his hands slowly, and with a deep sigh, on his
trembling, pale face. The modern Titan had now found out for the
first time that there was a God enthroned in heaven more powerful than
himself; for the first time an invisible hand had stopped him in his
hitherto victorious course.

The paper he had just trampled under foot announced to him the first
great defeat, the first che