Berlin and Sans-Souci
Part 5 out of 11
odorous with the rarest flowers; a group of cavaliers in their gold-
embroidered coats and uniforms, glittering with crosses and odors;
the signora lying upon the divan in a charming negligee, with her
bleeding foot resting upon the lap of her sister.
"You are wounded, signora, you bleed!" cried the young Prince of
Wurtemberg, with such an expression of horror, you would have
thought he expected the instant death of the Barbarina.
The lovely Italian looked up in seeming surprise. "Did not your
highness know that I was wounded? I thought you were a witness to my
"Certainly, I was at the opera-house, as were all these gentlemen;
but what has that to do with your bleeding foot?"
"A curious question, indeed! You did not, then, understand the cause
of my swooning yesterday? I will explain. I felt a severe pain in
the sole of my foot, which passed like an electric shock through my
frame, and I became insensible. While unconscious, my blood, of
course, ceased to flow, and the physician did not discover the cause
of my sudden illness. This morning, in attempting to walk, I found
"My God, what a misfortune, what an irreparable blow!" cried the
cavaliers with one voice; "we can never again hope to see our
"Compose yourselves, gentlemen," cried Barbarina, smiling, "my
confinement will be of short duration, and will have no evil
consequences. I stepped upon a piece of glass which had fallen upon
the boards, and piercing the slipper entered my foot; the wound is
not deep; it is a slight cut, and I shall be restored in a few
"And now," said Barbarina, with a triumphant smile, as she was once
more alone with her sister, "no one will mock at me and make
malicious comments upon my fainting. In an hour the whole city will
hear this history, and I hope it may reach the ears of the king."
"He will not believe it," said Marietta, shrugging her shoulders;
"he sent immediately for your physician and questioned him closely
as to your sudden indisposition in the theatre. I had just left your
boudoir to get you a glass of water, and when I returned I found the
king standing before your door and listening to your groans."
A wondrous expression of light and peace shone in her great black
eyes. "The king was then behind the curtains, he stood before my
door, he wished to speak to me, and you tell me this now, only now,
when you might have known--" Barbarina paused, and turned away her
"Well, I might have known that the king, whom you hate so bitterly,
had waited in vain at your door, had been turned away by the proud
dancer as a common man; this was, indeed, a triumph of revenge,"
said Marietta, smiling.
"I did not turn him away," said Barbarina, with embarrassment.
"No! you drew your bolt on the inside, nothing more."
Barbarina was right; the wound in her foot was not dangerous. She
was ordered to be quiet for some days, and give up dancing. The
physician to whom she showed her foot, and declared that she had
only just discovered the cause of her sudden swoon, examined the
wound with an incredulous smile, and asked to see the shoe, the sole
of which must also be necessarily cut, he said; in this way only
could he tell if the wound had been inflicted by a piece of glass or
nail, and know the size and sharpness of the instrument. Barbarina
blushed, and ordered Marietta to bring the shoe; she returned
immediately with a slipper, showing a sharp cut in the sole. The
physician examined it silently, and then declared that it was a
piece of glass which had caused the fainting of the signora; he
ordered cooling applications and perfect quiet, and promised
restoration in a few days.
The king had commanded the physician to come to him immediately
after his visit to Barbarina. He was announced, and as he entered,
Frederick advanced to meet him.
"Well," said he, "is the wound dangerous? will the signora be
obliged to give up the stage?"
"Ah, surely your majesty cannot believe that the Barbarina has given
herself a wound which will destroy her fame and fortune!"
"I do not understand you," said Frederick, impatiently; "do not
speak in riddles."
"I repeat, your majesty, the signora would not intentionally have
wounded her foot seriously, and thereby destroyed her art."
"Do you believe that she wounded herself voluntarily?"
"I am convinced of it, sire. The signora declares that she stepped
upon a piece of glass. I desired to see the slipper; Marietta
brought me one, in the sole of which I discovered a cut, but it did
not correspond at all with the wound in the foot, and had been
evidently just made with a knife. Certainly Barbarina was not
wounded while she wore that shoe; moreover, I affirm that the wound
was not inflicted by a piece of glass or a nail, but by a stiletto;
the wound is three-sided; I am confident she wounded herself with a
stiletto I saw in her room."
The king's face grew dark while the physician spoke; he pressed his
lips together: this was ever a sign that a storm was raging in his
breast which he wished to control.
"Is that all you have to say?"
"That is all, sire."
"Good! You will visit the signora to-morrow, and bring me news of
The king was alone, and pacing his room nervously. It was in vain
that Biche, his favorite hound, raised herself up and drew near to
him. The wise little animal seemed, indeed, to understand the
sadness of her master, and looked up at him with sorrowful and
sympathetic eyes. Once Frederick murmured half aloud: "She has sworn
to hate me, and she keeps her oath." After long thought, he seemed
to be resolved, and drew near to the door; he opened it and stood a
moment on the threshold, then closed it again, and said: "No! I dare
not do that. I dare not do what any other man might do in my place;
not I--I am a king. Alas! men think it is a light matter to be a
king; that the crown brings no care, no weight to the brow and the
heart. Our hearts' blood is often the lime with which our crowns are
secured." He sighed deeply, then stood up and shook himself like a
lion, when, after a long repose, he rouses himself to new life and
action. "Oh! I am sentimental," he said, with a sad smile. "I doubt
if a king has a right to dream. Away, then, with sentiments and
sighs! Truly, what would Maria Theresa say if she knew that the King
of Prussia was a sentimentalist, and sighed and loved like a young
maiden? Would she not think she had Silesia again in her dress-
While the king struggled with his passion, Barbarina had a far more
dangerous enemy to contend with. Sentimentality is veiled in
melancholy, in softened light and faded tints; but ennui has no eye,
nor mind, nor heart for any thing. It is a fearful enemy! Barbarina
was weary, oh, so weary! Was it perhaps impatience to appear again
upon the stage which made the hours so leaden, so long drawn out?
She lay the whole day stretched out upon her sofa, her eyes wide
open, silent, and sighing, not responding to Marietta's loving words
by a glance, or a movement of the eyelash. Marietta proposed to
assemble her friends, but she affirmed that society was more
wearisome than solitude.
At the end of three days, Barbarina sprang from her sofa and tried
to walk. "It gives me no pain," said she, walking through the room.
"Yes. I remember, Arias said the same as she handed the dagger to
her beloved," replied Marietta.
"But I have no beloved," said Barbarina; "no one loves me, no one
understands this poor, glowing, agonized heart." As she said this, a
flood of tears gushed from her eyes, and her form trembled with a
storm of passion.
"Ah, Sorella, how can you say that--you who are so much loved, so
Barbarina smiled contemptuously, and shook her head. "Do you call
that love? these empty words, this everlasting, unmeaning praise;
this rapture about my beauty, my grace, and my skill, is this
worship? Go, go, Marietta, you know it is not love, it is not
worship. They amuse themselves with a rare and foreign flower, which
is only beautiful because it has been dearly paid for; which is only
wondered at while it is rare and strange. You know, not one of these
men loves me for myself; they think only of my outward appearance. I
am never more solitary than when they surround me, never feel so
little beloved as when they swear that they love me boundlessly. O
my God! must I shroud my heart, must I bury it under the snows of
this cold north? O God, give me a heart for my heart, that can love
as Barbarina loves!" She covered her face with her hands, and her
tears flowed freely; she trembled and bowed from side to side, like
a lily in a storm.
Marietta drew near, and laid her head upon her sister's shoulder;
she did not try to comfort her: she knew there were griefs to which
words of consolation were exasperation; she knew that passion must
exhaust itself before it could be soothed. She comprehended the
nobility and energy of Barbarina's nature; those bursts of tears
were like clouds in the tropics; the storm must break, and then the
sun would shine more gloriously. Marietta was right. In a short time
her sister withdrew her hands from her face; her tears were
quenched, and her eyes had their usual lustre.
"I am mad," she cried, "worse than mad! I ask of the north our
southern blossoms. I demand that their ice shall become fire. Has
not a landscape of snow and ice its grandeur and beauty--yes, its
terrible beauty when inhabited by bears and wolves?"
"But woe betide us, when we meet these monsters!" said Marietta,
entering readily into her sister's jest.
"Why woe betide us? Every danger and every monster can be overcome,
if looked firmly in the face, but not too long, Marietta, not till
your own eye trembles. Now, sister, enough of this; the rain is
over, the sun shall shine. I am no longer ill, and will not be laid
aside like a broken play-thing. I will be sound and healthy; I will
flap my wings and float once more over the gay world."
"Do you know, Sorella, that the higher you fly, the nearer you are
"I will soar, but think not, that like Icarus I will fasten my wings
with wax. No, I am wiser, I will fly with my feet; the sun has no
power over them: they are indeed two suns. They warm the coldest
heart; they set the icy blood in motion, they almost bring the dead
to life. You see, sister, I have adopted the style of speech of my
adorers; none of them being present, I will worship and exalt
Barbarina said all this merrily, but Marietta felt this gayety was
"Do you know what I have determined upon?" said Barbarina, turning
away, so that her face might not be seen; "as I cannot dance either
to-day or to-morrow, I will find some other mode of employing my
time. I will go to Pesne and sit for my portrait."
She had turned away, but Marietta saw that her throat was suffused
with a soft flush.
"Will you drive to the palace?" said Marietta.
"Not to the palace, but to Pesne."
"Pesne's studio is now in the palace; the king appointed him rooms
"Well, then, I must sit to him in the palace."
"This, however, will be disagreeable to you; you abhor the king, and
it will be painful to be under the same roof. You perhaps suppose
the king to be in Potsdam: he is now in Berlin." Barbarina turned
suddenly, and throwing her arms around Marietta's neck, she pressed
a kiss upon her lips, and whispered: "I know it, Marietta, but I
The sisters went therefore to the new studio of the painter Pesne,
which was in the royal palace. The king took great pleasure in the
growth and development of works of art. While Pesne was engaged on
his great picture of Diana and her Nymphs, the king often visited
his studio and watched him at his work. He had closely examined the
sketch of the portrait of Barbarina, and, on his return from
Silesia, commanded Pesne to arrange a studio in the castle, as he
wished to be near him.
Barbarina sprang like a gazelle up the steps; her foot was not
painful, or she was unconscious of it. She was impatient, and would
scarcely wait to be announced before entering the room. Pesne was
there, and welcomed the signora joyfully. Barbarina looked about in
vain for her portrait.
"Has misfortune overtaken the portrait as well as the original?" she
"Not so, signora," said Pesne; "the portrait excites as great a
furor as the original--only, though, because it is a copy."
"I do not understand you."
"I mean, that his majesty is so enraptured with the copy, that since
yesterday it has been placed in his study, although I protested
against it, the picture not being finished. The king, however,
persisted; he said he wished to show the portrait to his friends,
and consult with them as to its defects."
Never, in her most brilliant role, was Barbarina so beautiful as at
this moment: her countenance glowed with rapture; her happy smile
and glance would have made the homeliest face handsome.
"Then I have come in vain," she said, breathing quickly; "you can
make no use of me to-day?"
"No, no, signora! your face is a star seldom seen in my heaven, and
I must grasp the opportunity--have the kindness to wait; I will
hasten to the king and return with the picture."
Without giving Barbarina time to answer, he left the room. Why did
her heart beat so quickly? Why were her cheeks suffused with
crimson? Why were her eyes fixed so nervously upon the door. Steps
were heard in the adjoining room. Barbarina pressed her hands upon
her heart: she was greatly agitated. The door opened, and Pesne
returned, alone and without the picture.
"Signora," said he, "the king wishes that the sitting should take
place in his rooms; his majesty will be kind enough to make
suggestions and call my attention to some faults. I will get my
palette and brush, and, if agreeable to you, we will go at once."
Barbarina gave no reply, and became deadly pale, as she walked
through the king's rooms; her steps were uncertain and faltering,
and she was forced to lean upon Pesne's arm; she declared that her
foot was painful, and he perhaps believed her.
They reached at last the room in which the portrait was placed.
There were two doors to this room: the one through which they had
entered, and another which led to the study of the king. This door
was closed, and Barbarina found herself alone with the painter.
"The king has yet some audiences to give; he commanded me to
commence my work. As soon as he is at liberty, he will join us."
"Let us begin, then," said Barbarina, seating herself. "You must
allow me to-day to be seated. I think it can make no difference to
you, as you are at present occupied with my face and not with my
Pesne declared, however, that this attitude gave an entirely
different expression and bearing to the countenance. Barbarina must,
therefore, in spite of the pain in her foot, endeavor to stand. She
appeared now to feel no pain; she smiled so happily, she spoke so
joyously, that Pesne, while gazing at her animated, enchanting,
lovely face, forgot that he was there to paint, and not to wonder.
Suddenly her smile vanished, and she interrupted herself in the
midst of a gay remark. She had heard the door behind her lightly
opened; she knew, by the stormy beating of her heart, that she was
no longer alone with the painter; she had not the courage or
strength to turn; she was silent, immovable, and stared straight at
Pesne, who painted on quietly. The king had motioned him not to
Pesne painted on, from time to time asked Barbarina the most
innocent and simple questions, which she answered confusedly.
Perhaps she was mistaken; possibly she was still alone with the
painter. But no, that was impossible, it seemed to her that a stream
of heavenly light irradiated the room; she did not see the king, but
she felt his glance; she felt that he was behind her, that he was
watching her, although no movement, no word of his betrayed him.
"I will not move, I will not turn, but I cannot endure this, I shall
fall dead to the earth."
But now she was forced to turn; the king called her name, and
greeted her with a few friendly words. She bowed and looked up
timidly. How cold, indifferent, and devoid of interest was his
glance, and he had not seen her for weeks, and she had been ill and
suffering! And now, she felt again that she hated him bitterly, and
that it was the power of this passion which overcame her when she
saw the king so unexpectedly. She felt, however, that every tone of
his voice was like heavenly music to her ear, that every word he
uttered moved her heart as the soft wind ruffles the sea.
The king spoke of her portrait; he said he had made it his study and
sought for its faults and defects, as others sought for its
advantages and beauties.
"I tremble, then, before the judgment of your majesty," said Pesne.
"I must confess you have some cause to fear," said the king. "I have
not looked at the picture with the eye of a lover, but with that of
a critic; such eyes look sharply, and would see spots in the sun; no
criticism, however, can prevent the sun from shining and remaining
always a sun, and my fault-finding cannot prevent your portrait from
being a beautiful picture, surpassed only by the original."
"Perhaps, sire, I am myself one of the spots in the sun, and it may
be that I grow dark."
"You see, signora, how little I understand the art of flattery; even
my best intended compliments can be readily changed into their
opposites. Allow me, then, to speak the simple, unadorned truth. You
are more beautiful than your picture, and yet I wonder at the genius
of Pesne, which has enabled him to represent so much of your rare
loveliness, even as I wonder at the poet who has the power to
describe the calm beauty of a sunny spring morning."
"That would be less difficult than to paint the signora's portrait,"
said Pesne; "a spring morning is still, it does not escape from you,
it does not change position and expression every moment."
Frederick smiled. "It would be truly difficult to hold the butterfly
and force it to be still without brushing the down from its
beautiful wings. But, paint now, Pesne, I will seat myself behind
your chair and look on."
Pesne seized his palette and brush, and began to paint. Barbarina
assumed the light, gracious, and graceful attitude, which the artist
has preserved for us in her beautiful portrait. She was, indeed,
indescribably lovely; her rounded arms, her taper fingers, which
slightly raised the fleecy robe and exposed the fairy foot, the
small aristocratic head, slightly inclined to one side, the flashing
eyes, the sweet, attractive smile, were irresistible; every one
admired, and every glance betrayed admiration.
The face of the king only betrayed nothing; he was cold, quiet,
indifferent. Barbarina felt the blood mount to her cheek, and then
retreat to her heart; she felt that it was impossible for her to
preserve her self-control; she could not bear this cruel comparison
of the portrait and the original, but she swore to herself that the
king should not have the triumph of seeing her once more sink
insensible at his feet; his proud, cold heart should not witness the
outbreak of her scorn and wounded vanity. But her body was less
strong than her spirit--her foot gave way, she tottered, and turned
The king sprang forward, and asked in a sympathetic and trembling
voice why she was so pale; he himself placed a chair for her, and
besought her to rest. She thanked him with a soft smile, and
declared she had better return home. Would the king allow her to
withdraw? A cloud passed over Frederick's face; a dark, stern glance
rested upon Barbarina.
"No!" said he, almost harshly; "you must remain here, we have
business with each other. Swartz has brought me your contract to
sign; it requires some changes, and I should have sent for you if
accident had not brought you here."
"Your majesty can command me," said Barbarina.
"We have business and contracts to consider," said the king roughly,
"and we will speak of them alone. Go, Pesne, and say to Swartz I
Frederick nodded to the painter, and, seizing Barbarina's hand, led
her into the adjoining room, his Tusculum, never before profaned by
a woman's foot; open only to the king's dearest, most trusted
Barbarina entered this room with peculiar feelings; her heart
trembled, her pulses beat quickly. She, whose glance was usually so
proud, so victorious, looked up now timidly, almost fearfully, to
the king. He had never appeared to her so handsome, so imposing as
in this moment. Silently she took her place upon the divan to which
he led her. Frederick seated himself directly in front of her.
"This is the second time," said the king, with a smile, a the second
time, signora, that I have had the honor to be alone with you. On
the first occasion you swore to me that you would hate the King of
Prussia with an everlasting hatred."
"I said that to your majesty when I did not recognize you," said
"Had you known me, signora, you would surely not have spoken so
frankly. Unhappily, the world has silently resolved never to speak
the truth to kings. You avowed your resolution, therefore, at that
time, because you did not know you were speaking to the king. Oh,
signora, I have not forgotten your words. I know that you pray to
God every day; not for your own happiness, as all chance of that has
been destroyed by this cruel king; but for revenge on this man, who
has no heart, and treads the hearts of other men under his feet."
"Your majesty is cruel," whispered Barbarina.
"Cruel! why? I only repeat your words. Cruel, because I cannot
forget! The words of Barbarina cannot be forgotten. In that respect
at least I am like other men."
"And in that respect should your majesty the least resemble them.
The little windspiel may revenge its injuries, but the eagle
forgives, and soars aloft so high in the heavens that the poor
offender is no longer seen and soon forgotten. Your majesty is like
the eagle, why can you not also forget?"
"I cannot and I will not! I remind you of that hour, because I wish
to ask now for the same frankness of speech. I wish to hear the
truth once more from those proud lips. Barbarina, will you tell me
"Yes, on condition that your majesty promises to forget the past."
"I promise not to remind you of it."
"I thank your majesty; I will speak the truth."
"You swear it?"
"I swear it."
"Well, then, why did you wound your foot?"
Barbarina trembled and was silent; she had not the courage to raise
her eyes from the floor.
"The truth!" said the king, imperiously.
"The truth," repeated Barbarina, resolved, and she raised her
flashing eyes to the king; "I will speak the truth. I wounded my
"Because," said the king, interrupting her fiercely, "because you
knew it was a happiness, a life's joy to the poor, lonely, wearied
king to see you dance; because you felt that your appearance was to
him as the first golden rays of the sun to one who has been buried
alive, and who bursts the bonds of the dark grave. You hate me so
unrelentingly, that even on the evening of my return from an
exhausting and dangerous journey, you cruelly resolved to disappoint
me. I hastened to the theatre to see you, Barbarina, you, you alone;
but your cruel and revengeful heart was without pity. You thought of
nothing but your pride, and rejoiced in the power to grieve a king,
at the sound of whose voice thousands tremble. Your smiles vanished,
your enchanting gayety was suppressed, and you seemed to become
insensible. With the art of a tragedian, you assumed a sudden
illness, resolved that the hated king should not see you dance. Ah!
Barbarina, that was a small, a pitiful role! leave such arts to the
chambermaids of the stage. You are refined in your wickedness; you
are inexorable in your hate. Not satisfied with this pretended
swoon, the next evening you wounded yourself; you were proud to
suffer, in order to revenge yourself upon me. You knew that a swoon
must pass away, but a wounded foot is a grave accident; its
consequences might be serious. The king had returned to Berlin, and
had only a few days to refresh himself, after the cares and
exhaustions of a dangerous journey; after his departure you would be
able to dance again. Ah! signora, you are a true daughter of Italy;
you understand how to hate, and your thirst for vengeance is
unquenchable! Well, I give you joy! I will fill your heart with
rapture. You have sworn to hate me; you pray to God to revenge you
upon the King of Prussia who has trampled your heart under his feet.
Now, then, Barbarina, triumph! you are revenged. The king has a
heart, and you have wounded it mortally!"
Completely unmanned, the king sprang to his feet, and stepped to the
window, wishing to conceal his emotion from Barbarina. Suddenly he
felt his shoulder lightly touched, and turning, he saw Barbarina
before him, more proud, more beautiful, more queenly than he had
ever seen her; energy and high resolve spoke in her face and in her
"Sire," she said, in a full, mellow voice, which slightly trembled
from strong emotion--"sire," she repeated, trying to veil her
agitation by outward calm, "I have sworn in this hour to speak the
truth; I will fulfil my vow. I will speak the truth, though you may
scorn and despise me. I will die of your contempt as one dies of a
quick and deadly poison; but it is better so to die than to live as
I am living. You shall know me better, sire. You have charged me
with falsehood and hypocrisy; thank God, I can cast off that
humiliating reproach! I will speak the truth, though it bows my head
with shame and casts me at your feet. If I could die there, I would
count myself most blessed. The truth, sire, the truth! listen to it.
It is true I hated you: you humbled my pride. You changed me, the
queen of grace and beauty, the queen of the world, into a poor,
hired dancer; with your rude soldiers and police you compelled me to
fulfil a contract against which my soul revolted. I cursed you. You
separated me violently, from the man I loved, who adored me, and
offered me a splendid and glorious future. It is true I prayed to
God for vengeance, but He would not hear my prayer; He punished me
for my mad folly, and turned the dagger I wildly aimed at you,
against my own breast. Sire, the hate to which I swore, to which I
clung as the ship-wrecked mariner clings to the plank which may save
him from destruction, failed me in the hour of need, and I sank,
sank down. A day came in which the prayer of rage and revenge upon
my lips was changed, in spite of myself, into blessings, and I
found, with consternation and horror, that there was indeed but one
step between wild hatred and passionate love, and this fatal step
lies over an abyss. I cannot tell you, sire, how much I have
suffered--how vainly I have struggled. I have hated, I have cursed
myself because I could no longer hate and curse you. The day you
left for Silesia, you said, 'I think ever of thee.' Oh! sire, you
know not what fatal poison you poured into my ears, with what
rapture and enchantment these words filled my heart. My life was a
dream; I stood under a golden canopy, drunk with joy and blessed
with heavenly peace. I saw these words, 'I think ever of thee,' not
only in my heart, but in every flower, on every leaf, and written by
the sun in the heavens, and in the stars. I dreamed of them as one
dreams of fairy palaces and heavenly melodies. In the songs of sweet
birds, in the plaudits and bravos with which the world greeted me, I
heard only these celestial words, 'I think ever of thee.' I lived
upon them during your absence, I wrote them with my glances upon
your empty chair in the theatre, I fixed my eyes upon it, and for
love of you I danced to it. One night I saw in this chair, not only
my golden starry words, I saw two stars from heaven; I was not
prepared--their glance was fatal. No, sire, that was no miserable
comedy, no actor's work. I sank unconscious, and from that hour I
know one does not die from rapture, but sinks insensible. I wept the
whole night, God knows whether from shame or bliss, I cannot tell.
The next day--yes--then I was false and deceitful. I stuck my
stiletto in my foot, to deceive the world; only God might know that
the Barbarina fainted at the sight of the king--fainted because she
felt that she no longer hated, but worshipped him."
She rushed to the door, but Frederick sprang after her; he drew her
back, madly but silently; his eyes were radiant with joy.
"Remain," said he; "I command you--I, not the king." He placed his
lips to her ear and whispered two words: her soft cheeks were
At this moment there was a knock upon the door, the portiere was
thrown back, and the wan, suffering face of Fredersdorf was seen.
"Sire," said he, "your majesty commanded me to summon Baron Swartz;
he is here, and waits for your orders."
"Let him enter," said the king; then smiling upon Barbarina, he
said, "He comes just in time; we must sign our contract, Swartz
shall act as our priest."
He advanced to meet the intendant, and asked for the contract
between Barbarina and himself. He read it carefully, and said,
"There are only a few things to alter." He stepped to his desk and
added a few words to the contract.
"Signora," said he, turning backward, "will you come here for a
Barbarina, embarrassed and blushing, drew near. In the back part of
the room stood Baron Swartz, watching the king and Barbarina with a
sly smile; near him stood Fredersdorf, whose pale and melancholy
face was brought out in strong relief by the dark velvet portiere.
"Read this," said the king to Barbarina, pointing to the words he
had just written. "Have you read?"
Frederick raised his head, and slightly turning, his glowing glance
rested upon Barbarina, who, ashamed and confused, cast her eyes to
"Will you sign this?"
"I will, sire," said she, almost inaudibly.
"You bind yourself to remain here for three years, and not to marry
during that time?" [Footnote: By this contract, Barbarina received
an income of seven thousand thalers and five months' liberty during
each year; but she was bound not to marry during this term of three
"I do, sire."
"Take the pen and sign our contract.--Come forward, Swartz, and
witness this document.--Fredersdorf, is your seal at hand?"
The contract was ready.
"You will say, 'This is a sad contract,'" said the king, turning to
"Yes, sad indeed. The king deals as cruelly with the Barbarina as he
has done with his poor secretary. This cold king does not believe in
"No, no! Fredersdorf, I will prove to you that you are mistaken. I
have been told that you are ill because I will not allow you to
marry. Now, then, Fredersdorf, I will not be hard-hearted. I have
to-day made an innocent sacrifice to my hatred of matrimony. The
signora has bound herself not to marry for three years. For her
sake, I will be gracious to you: go and marry the woman you love,
and when the priest has made you one, you shall take your wife to
Paris for the honeymoon, at my cost."
Fredersdorf seized the hand of the king, kissed it, and covered it
with his tears. Barbarina gazed at the handsome, glowing face of
Frederick with admiration. She understood him fully; she felt that
he was happy, and wished all around him to partake of his joy.
Baron von Pollnitz was ill at ease; for three days he had sought
relief diligently, but had no alleviation. He found himself in the
antediluvian condition of our great forefather Adam, while he
loitered away his time in Paradise. Like Adam, Pollnitz had no gold.
Our good baron found this by no means a happy state, and his heart
was full of discontent and apprehension; he felt that he was,
indeed, unblessed. What would become of him if the king should not
be merciful, should not take pity upon his necessities, which he had
to-day made known to him in a most touching and eloquent letter. Up
to this time he had been waiting in vain for an answer. What should
he do if the king should be hard-hearted and cruel? But no, that was
impossible; he must consider it a sacred duty to take care of the
old and faithful servant of his house, who had been the favored
companion of two of Prussia's kings. Pollnitz considered that he
belonged to the royal family; he was an adopted member; they could
not think slightingly of him, or set him aside.
He had exhausted his means, he had borrowed from Jew and Christian;
he had, by his gay narratives and powers of persuasion, drawn large
sums of gold from the rich burghers; all his friends held his
dishonored drafts; even his own servant had allowed himself to be
made a fool of, and had loaned him the savings of many years; and
this sum scarcely sufficed to maintain the noble, dissipated, and
great-hearted cavalier a few weeks.
Alas! what sacrifices had he not already made to this insane passion
for spending money; what humiliation had he not suffered--and all in
vain! In vain had he changed his religion three times; he had
condescended so far as to pay court to a merchant's daughter; he had
even wished to wed the daughter of a tailor, and she had rejected
"And yet," said he, as he thought over his past life, "every thing
might have gone well, but for this formidable stratagem of the king;
this harsh prohibition and penalty as to relieving my necessities
which has been trumpeted through the streets--that ruined me; that
gave me fearful trouble and torment. That was refined cruelty for
which I will one day revenge myself, unless Frederick makes amends.
Ha! there comes a royal messenger. He stops at my door. God be
thanked! The king answers my letter; that is to say, the king sends
Pollnitz could scarcely restrain himself from rushing out to receive
the messenger; his dignity, perhaps, would not have sufficed to hold
him back, but the thought of the considerable douceur he would be
expected to pay moderated his impatience. At last his servant came
and handed him a letter.
"I hope," said the baron, gravely, "I hope you rewarded the king's
"No, sir, I gave him nothing."
"Nothing!" cried he angrily. "And you dare to say this to my face!
you do not tremble lest I dismiss you instantly from my service?
you, and such as you are, cast shame upon our race! I, a baron of
the realm, and grand master of ceremonies, allow a royal messenger
who brings me a letter to go from my door unrewarded! Ass, if you
had no money, why did you not come to me? why did you not call upon
me for several ducats?"
"If your grace will give me the money, I will run after the
messenger. I know where to find him; he has gone to General
"Leave the room, scoundrel, and spare me your folly!"
Pollnitz raised his arm to strike, but the lackey fled and left him
alone with his golden dreams of the future.
He hastily broke the seal and opened the letter. "Not from the king,
but from Fredersdorf," he murmured impatiently. As he read, his brow
grew darker, and his lips breathed words of cursing and scorn.
"Refused!" said he passionately, as he read to the end, and cast the
letter angrily to the floor. "Refused! The king has no money for me!
The king needs all his gold for war, which is now about to be
declared; and, if I wish to convince myself that this is true, I
must go to-night, at eleven o'clock, to the middle door of the
castle, and there I will see that the king has no money. A curious
proposition, indeed! I would rather go to discover that he had
money, than that he had it not. If he had it, I would find a means
to supply myself. At all events, I will go. A curious rendezvous
indeed--a midnight assignation between a bankrupt baron and an empty
purse! A tragedy might grow out of it. But if Frederick has really
no money, I must seek elsewhere. I will make a last attempt--I will
go to Trenck."
The trusty baron made his toilet and hastened to Trenck's
apartments. The young officer had lately taken a beautiful suite of
rooms. He had his reception-rooms adorned with costly furniture and
rare works of art. He had an antechamber, in which two richly-
liveried servants waited to receive his orders. He had a stable and
four splendid horses of the Arabian breed, and two orderlies to
attend to them! From what quarter did Trenck obtain the money for
all this livery? This was an open question with which the comrades
of the young lieutenant were exercised; it gave them much cause for
thought, and some of them were not satisfied with thinking; these
thoughts took form, some of their words reached the ears of Trenck,
and must have been considered by him very objectionable. He
challenged the speaker to fight with the sword, and disabled him
effectually from speaking afterward. [Footnote: Frederick von
Trenck's Memoires.] Trenck was at dinner, and, contrary to custom,
alone; he received Pollnitz most graciously, and the baron took a
seat willingly at the table.
"I did not come to dine with you, but to complain of you," said
Pollnitz, cutting up the grouse with great adroitness and putting
the best part upon his plate.
"You come to complain of me?" repeated Trenck, a little embarrassed.
"I have given you no cause for displeasure, dear friend."
"Yes, you have given me good cause, even while I am your best
friend! Why have you withdrawn your confidence from me? Why do I no
longer accompany you on that most romantic midnight moonlight path
to virtue? Why am I no longer watchman and duenna when you and your
lady call upon the moon and stars to witness your love? Why am I set
"I can only say to all this that I go no more upon the balcony."
"That is to say--"
"That is to say that my stars are quenched and my sun has set in
clouds. I am, even as you are, set aside."
Pollnitz gazed at Trenck with so sharp and cunning an eye that the
young man was confused and looked down. The baron laughed merrily.
"Dear Trenck," said he, "a lie shows in your face like a spot on the
smooth skin of a rosy apple. You are too young to understand lying,
and I am too old to be deceived by it. Another point: will you make
me believe that this luxury which surrounds you is maintained with
your lieutenant's pay?"
"You forget that my father has left me his property of Sherlock, and
that I have rented it for eight hundred thalers!"
"I am too good an accountant not to know that this sum would
scarcely suffice for your horses and servants."
"Well, perhaps you are right; for the rest I may thank my gracious
king. During the course of this year he has presented me with three
hundred Fredericks d'or; and now you know the source of my revenue
and will not think so meanly of me as to suppose that--"
"That, your great love has any thing to do with earthly riches or
advancement. I do not believe that I brought in such a charge
against you, even as little do I believe that you have been given
up! Ah, dear friend, I alone have cause of complaint; I alone am set
aside, and why am I thus treated? Have I not been discreet, diligent
in your service, and ready at all times?"
"Certainly. I can only repeat to you that all is at an end. Our
beautiful dream has faded like the morning cloud and the early dew."
"You are in earnest?"
"In solemn earnest."
"Well, then, I will also speak earnestly. I will relate to you
something which you do not appear to know. A gardener boy who had
risen earlier than usual to protect some rare flowers in the garden
of Monbijou saw two figures upon the balcony, and heard their light
whispers. The boy made known his discovery to the principal
gardener, and he communicated the facts to the chamberlain of the
queen-mother. It was resolved to watch the balcony. The virtuous and
suspicious queen immediately concluded that Mademoiselle von Marwitz
had arranged a rendezvous upon the balcony, and she was sternly
resolved to dismiss the lady at once if any proof could be obtained
against her. Happily, the queen made known these facts to the
Princess Amelia, and I can readily conceive that the balcony remains
"Yes, I understand that."
"You can also understand that this event was regarded as a warning
of fate, and great caution and forethought were exercised. Not only
was the balcony given up, but the old friend and confidant who had
played the part of companion and carrier-pigeon was banished and
dismissed wholly from service."
"You may go further still," said Frederick von Trenck. "You have not
stated the whole case. This fortunate providence was a convincing
proof of the danger of an engagement which might never hope to be
crowned with success, never exist except under the shadows of
silence and gloom, with bleeding hearts and tearful eyes; this dream
of love was given up at once, fearing that at no distant day both
honor and liberty might be lost in its pursuit. They separated! An
eternal farewell was faltered!"
"That is to say, you would now deceive your confidant and former
aid, in order to place yourself more securely--and some day,
perhaps, when suspicion is aroused, you can call him as a witness to
prove that all intercourse was long ago given up; he must know it,
being the confidant from the beginning. This was a well-conceived
plot, but you only seem to forget that Pollnitz was not the man to
be deceived. He has had too much experience, and has studied the
hearts of men, and especially of women, too diligently. A woman who
is enjoying her first love and believes in its holy power, convinces
herself that it can achieve wonders and overcome all obstacles. She
does not sacrifice her love to other duties or to danger, not even
if she is a common woman, far less if she is a princess. Princess
Amelia has not given up her young and handsome lover; she clings to
him with a frenzied constancy, which I confess to you, if I had the
honor and glory of being her suitor, would fill me with apprehension
and regret. No, no, the princess is just now in a paroxysm of
youthful passion, and would rather die than resign her love, and she
is fantastic enough to believe in the possibility of a legitimate
marriage! Poor thing, she expects to mould the world to her wishes,
and arms herself, I suppose, with hair-pins! Princess Amelia was
forced to give up her interviews upon the balcony, but she sought
other means to gratify her passion. This was simple and easy to do.
The maid of honor was taken into her confidence. Marwitz swore to
guard the secret fearfully till death; a plan was then arranged with
her which was truly well conceived. Lieutenant von Trenck must be
spoken of as the suitor of Mademoiselle von Marwitz; he must act at
the court-balls and fetes as the tender, sighing, and eager lover of
the maid of honor; he must at last make a formal declaration, and
receive permission to visit her in her rooms. This is now his daily
habit, and the good city of Berlin and the short-sighted, silly
court are completely deceived, and look upon Frederick von Trenck as
the happy bridegroom of Marwitz, and no one guesses that when the
young officer is with the maid of honor, the Princess Amelia is also
present, and changes the role with Marwitz."
"I see it is in vain," said Trenck, sighing; "you know all: but if
you have any real friendship for me, you will tell me who betrayed
Pollnitz laughed aloud, "You betrayed yourself, my friend; or, if
you prefer it, my worldly wisdom and cunning betrayed you. My young
and innocent friend, a man like Pollnitz is not easily deceived; his
eyes are sharp enough to pierce the veil of the most charming little
intrigue, and probe it to the bottom! I know the Princess Amelia; I
have known her too long, not to know that she would not so quickly,
and without a struggle, sacrifice her love; and further when I saw
at the last court-ball, with what a long and dreary face you stood
behind the chair of the poor Marwitz, and with what calm and smiling
content the princess watched the couple amoureuse, look you, Trenck,
then I knew and understood all."
"Well, then, as you understand all, I make no further attempt to
deceive you. Yes, God be praised! the princess loves me still. It is
indeed the princess whom I meet in the apartment of the maid of
honor; to Marwitz are the letters directed which my servant carries
every morning to the palace, and from the Princess Amelia do I
receive my answers. Yes, God be thanked! Amelia loves me, and one
day she will be mine in the eyes of the whole world, even as she is
now mine in the eyes of God and the angels; one day--"
"Stop, stop!" cried Pollnitz interrupting him; "that last sentence
must be explained before you rush on with your dithyrambics. You
have declared that the princess is yours in the sight of God: what
does that mean?"
"That means," said Trenck, "that God, who looks into our hearts,
knows the eternity and boundlessness of our love; that means that,
under God's heaven, and calling upon His holy name, we have sworn
never to forget our love and our faith, and never to form any other
"So nothing more than that--no secret marriage? Are you never alone
with the princess?"
"No, never! I have given her my word of honor never even to ask it,
and I will keep my oath. And, after all, the good Marwitz disturbs
us not; she gets as far from us as possible: she seems to see us
not, and we speak in such low tones, that she does not hear a word
"Ah! so the Marwitz does not disturb you?" cried Pollnitz, with a
cynical laugh. "O sancta simplicitas! and this is an officer of the
life-guard? The world is going to destruction; or it is becoming
innocent and pure as Paradise. It is time for me to die; I no longer
understand this pitiful world."
"I do not understand you, and I will not understand you," said
Trenck gravely. "You laugh at me, and call me a silly boy, and I
allow it. I know we cannot understand each other in such matters;
you cannot conceive what strength, what self-denial, what energy I
exert to make myself worthy of the pure, modest, and exalted love
which Amelia has consecrated to me. You cannot comprehend how often
my good and evil genius struggle for the mastery, how often I pray
God to keep me from temptation. No, I have sworn that this love
shall wave pure and unblemished, like a glorious banner over my
whole life; come death rather than dishonor! And now, friend,
explain your meaning: why all these plots and counterplots? What is
"Nothing more than to warn you to prudence. I do not believe all the
world is deceived by your comedy with Marwitz. The king, who appears
to see nothing, sees all. He has his spies everywhere, and knows all
that happens in his family. Be careful, be ever on your guard."
"I thank you for your warning," said Trenck, pressing the hand of
the master of ceremonies. "We must soon separate; you know that in a
few weeks we go to Silesia. The king is silently preparing for war."
"I know it, and I pity you."
"Pity me! Ah, you do not understand me. I long for my first battle
as a lover does for his first sweet kiss. The battle-field is for me
a consecrated garden, where my laurels and myrtles grow. I shall
pluck them and weave wreaths for my bride-wedding wreaths. Pollnitz,
on the other side, beyond the bloody battle-ground, lies my title of
prince, and Amelia's bridle-wreath."
"Dreamer, fantastic, hopeless dreamer!" cried Pollnitz, laughing.
"Well, God grant that you do not embrace death on the battle-field,
or on the other side find a prison, to either of which you have a
better claim than to a prince's title. Make use, therefore, of your
time, and enjoy these charming interviews. Is one arranged for this
"No, but to-morrow. The reigning queen gives a ball to-morrow.
Immediately before the ball I am to meet the princess. Oh, my
friend, to-morrow evening at five think of me! I shall be the
happiest and most amiable of mortals. I shall be with my beloved!"
"Alas! how strange is life, and how little do the fates of men
resemble! To-morrow, at the hour when you will be so unspeakably
happy, I shall be walking in a thorny, a cursed path; I shall be on
my way to the usurer."
"To the usurer? That is indeed a sad alternative for a cavalier like
the Baron von Pollnitz."
"But that is still better than imprisonment for debt, and I have
only the choice between these two, unless you, dearest friend, will
take pity upon me and lend me a hundred louis d'ors."
Frederick Trenck said nothing. He stepped to his desk. The eyes of
the baron glittered with joy as he saw Trenck take out a pocket-
book, in which he knew by pleasant experience that the young officer
sometimes kept gold. His joy was of short duration. No gold was
seen. Trenck took out a small, modest, unsealed paper and handed it
"Look at this draft," said he. "Had you come yesterday I could have
accommodated you joyfully. To-day it is impossible. I have this
morning lent my colonel two hundred ducats, and my purse is empty."
"Well, you must soon fill it," said Pollnitz, with a coarse laugh.
"To-morrow at five you will enjoy your rendezvous, and you will not
only speak of God, and love, and the stars, but also a little of
earthly things--of pomp and gold, and--Farewell!"
With a gay laugh Pollnitz took leave, but he no sooner found himself
alone upon the street than his face grew black arid his eye was full
"He has no gold for me, but I have his secret, and I will know how
to squeeze some gold out of that," murmured Pollnitz. "Truly I think
this secret of Trenck's is worth some thousand thalers, and the king
must find the means to pay for it. But stop! The hour of my
interesting rendezvous draws near. I am curious to know how I am to
be convinced at eleven o'clock, and in the middle of the street,
that the king has no gold. I will be punctual, but I have still time
to visit a few friends, and seek if possible to win a few louis
d'ors at faro."
It was a dark, still night. As the clock struck ten the night might
really be said to begin in Berlin. The streets were not lighted
except by accidental rays from the windows and the carriage-lamps,
and the glare of torches carried by the servants who accompanied
their masters to places of amusement. By eleven o'clock the streets
were deserted. Pollnitz was therefore sure to meet no one on his way
to the castle. He directed his steps to that door which opened upon
the River Spree, as Fredersdorf had advised him.
Silence reigned in the palace. The sentinel stepped slowly backward
and forward in the courtyard, and in the distance was heard the
baying of two hounds, entertaining each other with their melancholy
music. The master of ceremonies began to be impatient; he thought
that, the impertinent private secretary had been indulging in some
practical joke or mystification at his expense; but as he drew near
to the Spree, he heard the light stroke of oars in the water.
Pollnitz hastened forward, and his eyes, accustomed to the darkness,
discovered a skiff drawn up near the Elector's Bridge.
"This is the point! here we must wait," whispered a manly voice.
"I think we will not have to wait long," said another. "I see lights
in the windows."
The side of the castle next the Spree was now suddenly lighted;
first the upper story, then the lower, and a pale light was now seen
in the vestibule.
"Truly, I have not been deceived; something is going on," said
Pollnitz, hastening forward.
As he entered the court, a curious train was seen descending the
steps. In front were two servants with torches; they were followed
by twelve heyducks, their shoulders weighed down with dishes, cans,
cups, plates, whose silver surface, illumined by the golden glare of
the torches, seemed to dance and glimmer along the wall and steps
like "will o' the wisps." Two servants with towels brought up the
rear, and behind these the pale, sad face of Fredersdorf was seen.
"You are punctual," said he to Pollnitz; "you wish to convince
yourself that the king has no gold?"
"Certainly! though this conviction will deprive me of my last hope,
and one does not adopt such a course eagerly."
"I think you will be fully convinced. Come, let us follow the
He took the arm of the baron, and they soon reached the border of
the Spree. The large skiff, which had been lying so dark and still,
was now lighted by the torches of the servants, who ranged
themselves on each side; it was brilliantly lighted, and great
activity prevailed. The twelve heyducks, bending under their heavy
burden, entered the skiff, and piled up the silver-ware, then sprang
"We are going to the treasure-room, will you follow us?" said
"Certainly; if not, you may perhaps expect to leave me here as
"That is not at all necessary; there are some soldiers with loaded
muskets in the skiff. Come."
Silently and hastily they all mounted the steps and reached at last
the large room where the royal silver had been kept; the door was
open, but guarded by sentinels, and Melchoir, who had had the silver
in charge, now walked before the door with a disturbed and sad
"May I enter, Melchoir?" said Pollnitz to his old acquaintance,
greeting him with a friendly smile.
"There is no necessity to ask," said Melchoir, sadly. "My kingdom is
at an end, as you see, when the silver is gone; there is no
necessity for a steward, and the old Melchoir will be set aside,
with all those who yet remain of the good old times of the ever-
blessed Frederick William!"
Pollnitz entered the room with Fredersdorf, and his eye wandered
over the rich treasures spread out before him, and which the
heyducks were now packing in large sacks.
"Oh, if these plates and dishes could speak and converse with me,
what curious things we would have to confide with each other!" said
Pollnitz, twirling one of the plates between his fingers. "How often
have I dined from your rich abundance! Under the first pomp-and-
splendor-loving Frederick, you furnished me with gala dinners; under
the parsimonious Frederick William, with solid family dinners! How
often have I seen my smiling face reflected in your polished
surface! how often has this silver fork conveyed the rarest morsels
to my lips! I declare to you, Fredersdorf, I think a dinner plate
fulfils a noble mission; within its narrow bound lie the bone and
sinew, as also the best enjoyments of life. But tell me, for God's
sake, how can you bear that these rascals should handle the king's
silver so roughly? Only look, now, at that heyduck, he has
completely doubled up one of those beautiful salad-bowls, in order
to force it into the mouth of the sack."
"What signifies, dear baron? That said salad-bowl will never again
he used for salad, henceforth it is only silver."
"You speak in riddles, and I do not understand you. Well, well,
those fellows have already filled their twelve sacks, and this room
is now as empty and forlorn as the heart of an old bachelor. Now
tell me what you are going to do with all these treasures?"
"Can you not guess?"
"I think the king, who now lives in Potsdam, needs his silver
service, and as he does not wish to make a new purchase, he sends to
Berlin for this. Am I right?"
"You shall soon know. Let us follow the heyducks, the room is empty.
Adieu, Melchoir, your duties will be light hereafter; you need not
fear the robbers. Come, baron."
They soon reached the skiff, and found that the twelve sacks had
been placed beside the huge pile of dishes, plates, etc.
"Alas!" said Fredersdorf, gloomily, "all this might have been
avoided if I had already reached the goal I am aiming at; if I had
fathomed the great mystery which God has suspended over mankind,
upon whose sharp angles and edges thousands of learned and wise men
have dashed their brains and destroyed their life's happiness! My
God! I have accomplished so much, so little remains to be done! let
me only find a sufficiently hardened substance, and the work is
done. I shall have laid bare God's great mystery--I shall make
"Do you think ever of this, Fredersdorf?"
"I think ever of this, and shall think only of this as long as I
live. This thought swallows up all other thoughts; it has destroyed
my love, my rest, my sleep, my earthly happiness! But wait,
Pollnitz, only wait; one day I shall lift the philosopher's stone,
and make gold. On that day you will love me dearly, Baron Pollnitz.
On that day I will not be obliged to prove to you, as I have just
done, that the king has no money."
"I have seen no proof yet," said Pollnitz.
"You shall have it now, baron," said Fredersdorf, springing into the
skiff. "Will you not go with us? Forward, forward at once!"
"But--what is your destination?"
"Come nearer, that I may whisper in your ear."
Pollnitz bowed his head.
"We are going to the mint," whispered Fredersdorf. "All this
beautiful silver will be melted. The king will give no more dinners,
he will give battle. The king changes his dishes and plates into
good thalers to feed his brave army. And now, are you not convinced
that the king has no money to pay your debts?"
"I am convinced."
"Then farewell. Take the rudder, boys, and go forward; enter the arm
of the Spree which flows by the mint, and there anchor. The mint is
"The mint is the goal," murmured Pollnitz, with a grim look, gazing
after the skiff, which moved slowly over the water, and which,
lighted by the torches, shone brilliantly in the midst of the
surrounding darkness. The golden light, playing upon the rich
liveries of the heyducks and the tower of silver in their midst,
formed a scene of wonder and enchantment.
Pollnitz watched them until the torches seemed like little stars in
the distance. "There go all the pomp and glory of the world, the
joys of peace and luxurious rest. The silver will be melted, iron
and steel will take its place. Yes, the iron age begins. Alas! it
begins also for me--why cannot I go into the mint and be melted down
with these plates and dishes?"
THE FIRST FLASH OF LIGHTNING.
During this night Pollnitz slept but little; when, however, he rose
from his couch the next morning, his brow was clear and his
countenance gayer than it had been for a long time; he had made his
plans, and was convinced that he would succeed.
"I will earn a hundred ducats," said he, smiling to himself, as in a
superb toilet he left his dwelling, "yes, a hundred ducats, and I
will revenge myself upon the king for that trumpeting and outcry.
This shall be a blessed and beautiful morning."
He walked first to the apartment of Colonel Jaschinsky, and
announced himself as coming upon most important business. The
colonel hastened to meet him, ready to be of service, and full of
"Lead me to a room where we are absolutely certain not to be
observed or listened to," said Pollnitz.
They entered the colonel's cabinet.
"Here, baron, we are secure."
"Without circumlocution, then, count, you know the law which forbids
officers to make debts?"
"I know it," said Jaschinsky, turning pale, "and I believe that
Baron Pollnitz is well content not to belong to the officers."
"Perhaps you, sir count, may also cease to belong to them?"
"What do you mean by that?" said Jaschinsky, anxiously.
"I mean simply that Colonel Jaschinsky belongs to those officers who
are forbidden to make debts, but that he disregards the law."
"You came here, as it appears, to threaten me?"
"No, principally to warn you; you know that the king is particularly
severe against his body-guard. You are the colonel of this splendid
regiment, and should, without doubt, set the other officers a good
example. I doubt if the king would consider that you did your duty,
if he knew that you not only made debts, but borrowed money from the
officers of your own regiment."
"Take care, Baron von Pollnitz!" said Jaschinsky, threateningly.
Pollnitz said, smilingly: "It appears that you are menacing ME, that
is wholly unnecessary. Listen quietly to what I have to say. I have
come to arrange a little matter of business with you. Day before
yesterday you borrowed two hundred ducats from Baron Trenck. Give me
one hundred of them, and I give you my word of honor not to expose
you--deny me, and I give you my word of honor I will go instantly to
the king, and relate the whole history. You know, count, you would
be instantly cashiered."
"I do not know that his majesty would grant a ready belief to the
statement of Baron Pollnitz, and you have no proof to confirm it."
"I have proof. You gave your note for the money. I think that would
be convincing testimony."
The count was pale and agitated. "If I give you a hundred ducats,
you promise on your word of honor not to expose me to the king?"
"I give you my word of honor; more than that, I promise you to
defend you, if any one shall accuse you to the king."
Jaschinsky did not reply; he stepped to his desk and took out two
rolls of ducats. "Baron," said he, "here is half of the money I
borrowed from Trenck; before I hand it to you I have one request to
"How did you learn that I borrowed this money?"
"I saw your note which you gave to Trenck."
"Ah! he showed it to you," cried Jaschinsky, with such an expression
of hate, scorn, and revenge, that even Pollnitz was moved by it.
He took the gold and let it slide slowly into his pocket. "I owe you
a hundred ducats; I cannot promise you to return them; but I can
promise you that Trenck will never produce your draft, and I will
show you how to revenge yourself upon the handsome officer."
"If you assist me in that, I will present you with my best horse."
"You shall be revenged," said Pollnitz, solemnly. "You can send the
horse to my stable; Frederick von Trenck will soon cease to be
dangerous to any one; he is a lost man!--And now to the king," said
Pollnitz, as he left the colonel's quarters. "Yes, to the king; I
must thank him for the confidence he showed me last night."
The king was making his preparations for war with the most profound
secrecy; he worked only at night, and gave up his entire time
seemingly to pleasures and amusements. He was daily occupied with
concerts, balls, operas, and ballets; he had just returned from
seeing the rehearsal of a new opera, in which Barbarina danced; he
was gay and gracious.
He received his master of ceremonies jestingly, and asked him if he
came to announce that he had become a Jew. "You have tried every
other religion at least twice; I know that you have had of late much
to do with the 'chosen people;' I suppose you are now full of
religious zeal, and wish to turn Israelite. It would, perhaps, be a
wise operation. The Jews have plenty of gold, and they would surely
aid with all their strength their new and distinguished brother.
Speak, then, make known your purpose."
"I come to thank your majesty for the supper you graciously accorded
me last night."
"A supper! what do you mean?"
"Your majesty, through your private secretary, invited me to table,
with all your splendid silver-ware. Truly the meal was indigestible
and lies like a stone upon my stomach; but, I say with the good
soldiers, after the lash, 'I thank your majesty for gracious
"You are an intolerable fool; but mark me, no word of what you have
seen. I wished to prove to you that I had no money, and to be freed
from your everlasting complaints and petitions. I have therefore
allowed you to see that my silver has gone to the mint. It is to be
hoped that you will now compose yourself, and seek no more gold from
me. Do not ask gold of kings, but of Jews! Kings are poor, the
poorest people of the state, for they have no personal property."
[Footnote: The king's own words.]
"Oh, that the whole world could hear the exalted and high-hearted
words of my king!" cried Pollnitz, with well-acted enthusiasm.
"Thrice blessed is that nation which has such a ruler!"
The king looked at him searchingly. "You flatter me; you want
something, of course."
"No, sire, I swear I come with the purest intentions."
"Intentions? You have, then, intentions?"
"Yes, sire, but now that I stand here face to face with you, I feel
that my courage fails, and I cannot speak what I intended."
"Now truly," said the king, laughing, "the circumstances must indeed
be dangerous which deprive Baron Pollnitz of the power of speech."
"Words, your majesty, are important things. Once a few words saved
me from death; it may be that a few words, spoken this day to your
majesty, may bring me into disfavor, and that would be worse than
"What were the words which saved you from death?"
"These, sire: 'Va-t-en, noble guerrier!'"
"This took place in France?"
"In Paris, sire. I was dining in a small hotel in the village of
Etampes, near Paris. A very elegant cavalier sat next me and from
time to time, as if accidentally, addressed me in a refined and
winning way; he informed himself as to my intentions and
circumstances. I was an inexperienced youth, and the cavalier was
adroit in questioning. This was at the time of the Mississippi
speculation of the great financier Law. I had gained that day, in
the Rue Quinquempois, the sum of four hundred thousand francs. I had
this money with me, and after dinner I proposed to go to Versailles.
I was not without apprehension, the streets were unsafe, and
Cartouche with his whole band of robbers had for some time taken
possession of the environs of Paris, and made them the theatre of
his daring deeds."
"So you received your new friend trustingly?" said the king,
"Yes, sire, and we had just agreed as to the hour of our departure,
when a little maiden appeared under the window of our dining-room
and sang in a loud, clear voice, 'Va-t-en, noble guerrier!' The
strange cavalier rose and stepped to the window to give her a few
sous, then went out--and I saw him no more."
"And you conclude from this that the words of the song saved your
life? you think that the man with whom you were eating was a
"I thought nothing, sire, and forgot the adventure. A year after, I
was standing in the street as Cartouche was being led to execution.
All Paris was abroad to see the famous brigand. I had a good place,
the procession passed immediately by me, and look you, I recognized
in the poor sinner now being led to execution, the elegant gentleman
of the cabaret at Etampes! He knew me also and stood still for a
moment. 'Sir,' said he, 'I dined with you a year ago. The words of
an old song gave me notice to leave the cabaret immediately. They
announced to me that the pursuers were on my heels; your star was in
the ascendant, stranger; had I accompanied you to Versailles, you
would have lost your gold and your life.' Your majesty will now
understand that these words, 'Va-t-en, noble guerrier,' saved my
"I confess it, and I am now most curious to hear the words which you
fear will bring my displeasure upon you."
"Sire, I have been for more than forty years a faithful servant of
your exalted house. Will you not admit this?"
"Faithful?" repeated Frederick; "you were faithful to us when it was
to your advantage: you deserted us when you thought it to your
interest to do so. I reproached you with this in former times, but
now that I know the world better, I forgive you. Go on, then, with
your pathetic appeal."
"Your majesty has often commanded me to make known to you every
thing which the good people say of your royal family, and when any
one dared to whisper a slander against you or yours, to inform you
of it at once."
"Does any one dare to do that?" said the king, with an expression of
anguish upon his noble face.
The king breathed a heavy sigh, and walked hastily up and down; then
placing himself before the window, and turning his back on Pollnitz,
he said, "Go on."
"Sire, it is lightly whispered that the young Lieutenant Trenck has
dared to love a lady who is so far above him in her bright radiance
and royal birth, that he should not dare to lift his eyes to her
face except in holy reverence."
"I have been told that he was the lover of Mademoiselle von
Marwitz," said the king.
"The world and the good Berliners believe that, but the initiated
know that this pretended love is only a veil thrown by the bold
youth over a highly traitorous passion."
Pollnitz was silent; he waited for the king to speak, and watched
him with a malicious smile. Frederick still stood with his face to
the window, and saw nothing of this.
"Shall I go on?" said Pollnitz at last.
"I command you to do so," said the king.
Pollnitz drew nearer. "Sire," said he, half aloud, "allow me to say
what no one knows but myself. Baron Trenck visits Mademoiselle von
Marwitz every day, but a third person is ever present at these
"And this third person is--"
"The Princess Amelia!"
The king turned hastily, and the glance which he fixed upon Pollnitz
was so flashing, so threatening, that even the bold and insolent
master of ceremonies trembled. "Are you convinced of the truth of
what you have stated?" said he harshly.
"Sire," said he, "if you wish to convince yourself, it is only
necessary to go this evening between five and six o'clock,
unannounced, into the rooms of the Princess Amelia. You will then
see that I have spoken truth."
Frederick did not reply; he stepped again to the window. and looked
silently into the street. Once more he turned to Pollnitz, and his
face was clear and smiling.
"Pollnitz, you are an old fox; but you have laid your foundation
badly, and your whole plot is poorly conceived. Look you! I
understand this intrigue perfectly. You hate poor Trenck; I have
long seen that. You hate him because I honor and promote him, and
you courtiers always regard those as your enemies who stand higher
in favor than yourselves. Trenck deserves his good fortune, in spite
of his youth; he is a learned and accomplished officer, and a most
amiable and elegant gentleman. You cannot forgive him for this, and
therefore you accuse him. This time you shall not succeed. I tell
you I don't believe one word of this silly scandal. I will forget
what you have dared to say; but look to it, that you also forget.
Woe to you if you do not forget; woe to you if your lips ever again
utter this folly to me or to any other person! I hold you wholly
responsible. In your own mad, malicious brain is this fairy tale
conceived; it will be your fault if it goes farther, and is ever
spoken of. Conform yourself to this, sir, and retreat in time. I
repeat to you, I hold you responsible. Now go, without a word, and
send me my adjutant--it is high time for parade."
"Flashed in the pan, completely flashed," said Pollnitz to himself,
as with a courtly bow and a smiling lip he took leave of the king.
"I had hoped at least for a small reward, if it was only to see that
I had made him angry. Alas! this man is invulnerable; all my files
wear away on him."
Could he have seen what an expression of care and anguish
overshadowed the king's face when he was alone--could he have heard
the king's sighs and the broken words of sorrow and despair which he
uttered, the wicked heart of the master of ceremonies would have
been filled with gladness. But Frederick indulged himself in this
weakness but a short time; he drew his royal mantle over his aching
heart, he cast the veil of sadness from his eyes, and armed them
with the might of majesty.
"This rendezvous shall not take place; this romantic adventure shall
come to an end. I will it!" said he, with an energy which only those
can feel whose will is law, and from whose words there is no appeal.
Frederick took his hat and entered the vestibule, where his staff
awaited to accompany him to the parade. The king greeted them all
sternly, and, passing by them rapidly, he descended the steps.
"The king is very ungracious," whispered the officers amongst each
other. "Woe to him upon whom his anger falls to-day!"
A storm-cloud did indeed rest upon the brow of the king; his eye
looked fierce and dangerous. The regiment stood in line, the king
drew up in front; suddenly he paused, his face grew black--his eye
had found an object for destruction.
"Lieutenant Trenck," said he, in a loud and threatening tone, "you
have this moment arrived, you are again too late. I demand of my
officers that they shall be punctual in my service. More than once I
have shown you consideration, and you seem to be incurable. I will
now try the power of severity. Colonel Jaschinsky, Lieutenant Trenck
is in arrest, till you hear further from me; take his sword from
him, and transport him to Potsdam."
The king passed on; the cloud had discharged itself; his brow was
clear, and he conversed cordially with his generals. He did not give
one glance to the poor young officer, who, pale and speechless,
handed his sword to his malicious colonel, looked with anguish
inexpressible toward the castle of Monbijou, and followed the two
officers whose duty it was to conduct him to Potsdam.
That afternoon Mademoiselle von Marwitz waited in vain for her
lover; that afternoon the Princess Amelia shed her first tears; and,
for the first time, entered the ballroom by the side of her royal
mother, with dejected mien and weary eyes. The glare of light, the
sound of music, the laugh and jest of the gay crowd, filled her
oppressed heart with indescribable woe. She longed to utter one mad
cry and rush away, far away from all this pomp and splendor; to take
refuge in her dark and lonely room; to weep, to pray, and thus
exhaust her sorrow and her fears.
Perhaps the king read something of this fierce emotion in the face
of the princess. He drew near to her, and taking her hand kindly, he
led her away from her mother. "My sister," he said, in a low voice,
but in a tone which made the heart of the princess tremble, "my
sister, banish the cloud from your brow, and call the smiles to your
young, fresh lips. It ill becomes a princess to be seen at a fete
with a sad visage; melancholy, this evening, will be particularly
unseemly. Be on your guard; you must not decline a single dance; I
wish this as your brother, I command it as your king. Conform
yourself to this. Do you understand fully all that I have said to
you, and all that I have not said?"
"I understand all, your majesty," whispered Amelia, with the
greatest difficulty keeping back the tears, which, "like a proud
river, peering o'er its bounds," filled her eyes to overflowing.
Princess Amelia danced the whole evening, she appeared gay and
happy; but it did not escape the watchful eye of the Baron Pollnitz,
that her smile was forced and her gayety assumed; that her eye
wandered with an expression of terror toward the king, who was ever
observing her. Suddenly all was changed, and she became radiant with
the fire of youth and happiness. Mademoiselle von Marwitz, while the
princess stood near her in the Francaise, had whispered: "Compose
yourself, your royal highness, there is no danger. He has been
arrested for some small military offence, that is all!" Here were
indeed peace and comfort. Amelia had been tortured by the most
agonizing fears, and this news was like a messenger of peace and
love. A military offence--that was a small affair. A few days of
light confinement, and he would return; she would see him again; and
those blessed interviews, those glorious hours of rapture, would be
The princess had deceived herself. Several days elapsed, and Trenck
did not return, and she knew nothing more than that he was in
Potsdam, under arrest. Eight days had passed on leaden wings, and
still he came not. This severe punishment for a small offence began
to be resented by Trenck's comrades; they did not dare to murmur,
but their countenances were clouded.
"Colonel Jaschinsky," said the king, on the ninth morning, "go to
Trenck and counsel him to ask for my forgiveness; say to him, that
you believe I will forgive him, if he asks for pardon. You shall not
say this officially, only as a friend. Remark well what he shall
answer, and report it to me strictly."
The colonel returned in an hour, with a well-pleased smile.
"Well, will he ask for forgiveness?" said the king.
"No, your majesty; he asserts that for a small fault he has been
too harshly punished, and he will not bow so low as to plead against
"Let him remain in arrest," said Frederick, dismissing Jaschinsky.
The king was alone; he walked up and down with his arms folded, as
was his custom, when engaged in deep thought. "A head of iron, a
heart of fire!" murmured he; "both so young, so proud, so fond, and
all this I must destroy. I must pluck every leaf from this fair
blossom. Sad mission! Why must I cease to be a man, because I am a
Eight days again went by--eight days of fetes, concerts, balls. The
princess dared not absent herself; she appeared nightly in costly
toilet, with glowing cheeks, and her lovely hair adorned with
flowers, but her cheeks were rouged, and her sad smile accorded but
little with her flowers.
The king had carried on diligently but secretly his preparations for
war, under the shadow of these luxurious festivities. Now all was
ready; he could lay aside his mask and his embroidered dress, and
assume his uniform. The ballroom was closed, the music silenced, the
silver melted into thalers. The king left Berlin and joined his
generals at Potsdam. On the day of his arrival he commissioned his
adjutant, General von Borck, to release Trenck from arrest, and send
him to Berlin with a letter to the queen-mother; he was to have
leave of absence till the next day.
"I will see, now, if they understood me," said Frederick to himself.
"I have given them a hard lesson; if they do not profit by it, they
are incurable, and force me to extremity."
Alas! they had not understood this hard lesson; they were not wise,
not prudent; they would not see the sharp sword suspended over their
heads: their arms were madly thrown around each other, and they did
not grasp this only anchor of safety which the fond brother, and not
the stern king, had extended to them. They were lost! they must go
down to destruction!
The next morning, during the parade, Trenck drew near the king. He
had just returned from Berlin; his cheeks were glowing from his
rapid ride, and in his eyes there was still a shimmer of that
happiness with which the presence of his beloved had inspired him.
"Your majesty, I announce myself," said he, in a fresh and gay
The king said nothing. He looked at the handsome, healthy, and
radiant youth with a glance of profound sympathy and regret.
Frederick von Trenck saw nothing of this. "Does your majesty command
me to join my regiment at Berlin?" said he, in the most
And now the king's eyes flashed with rage. "From whence come you?"
said he, sternly.
"From Berlin, sire."
"Where were you before you were sent to Berlin?"
"In arrest, sire."
"Go, then, to your old place--that is to say, in arrest!"
Frederick von Trenck remained in arrest till every preparation was
completed. The army was ready to march. The king assembled his
officers, and announced to them that they were bound once more to
Silesia to bloody battle, and, with God's help, to glorious victory.
On that day Frederick von Trenck was released from arrest. The king
received him with a gracious smile, and commanded him to remain near
him. Trenck's comrades envied him because of the royal favor;
because of the friendly smiles and gracious words which, more than
once during the day, the king directed to him. No one understood how
Trenck could remain sad and silent under all these evidences of
royal favor; no one understood how this gallant young officer could
enter upon this campaign with bowed head and heavy brow; he should
have sat upon his horse proud and erect--not dreaming, not lost in
No one but the king could comprehend this; his sympathetic soul was
touched by every emotion of his young officer, and he had pity for
every pang he inflicted. All this vast crowd of men had taken leave
of those they loved and cherished. Trenck alone had been denied this
solace. They had all received a love-greeting, a blessing, and a
last fond kiss--a last tear to encourage them in battle, perhaps in
death. Trenck had no kiss, no blessing, no farewell. He had said
farewell to fortune, to love and hope; and even now, though marching
to battle, perhaps to victory, he had no future. Tears were flowing
for him, and tears would be his only inheritance.
THE ACTORS IN HALLE.
His excellency, Gotshilf Augustus Franke, president of the
university at Halle, bore unmistakable marks of anger and excitement
upon his usually calm countenance, as, seated at his study-table, he
glanced from time to time at a paper spread out before him.
The entrance of two of his friends and colleagues seemed scarcely to
interrupt his disagreeable train of thought, as he bade them good
morning and thanked them for coming to him so promptly.
"I have requested your presence, my friends," he continued, "to
inform you of the receipt of the answer to the petition which we
presented to the General Directory."
"Ah, then," cried Professor Bierman, "our troubles are at an end!"
"Not so," said Professor Franke, gloomily; "the wishes of the
servants of the Lord do not always meet with the approbation of
kings. King Frederick the Second has refused our petition which was
presented to him by the General Directory."
"Refused it?" exclaimed the two professors.
"Yes, refused it; he declares that he will not allow the actors to
be expelled from Halle, until it can be satisfactorily proved that
they have occasioned public disturbances in our midst."
"This is unheard-of injustice," exclaimed Professor Bierman.
"It is a new proof of the king's utter godliness," said Professor
Heinrich. "He has already gone so far as to declare that these
actors shall receive Christian burial."
"Astounding!" cried the president. "This is a sacrilege, which will
assuredly meet a just punishment. But," he continued after a pause,
glancing anxiously around, "let us not forget that we are speaking
of our king."
"He seems to forget that even kings are but the servants of the
Lord. His acts show a determination to destroy the church and its
"Your remark is, I fear, too true," answered Professor Franke; "but
the object of our meeting was not to discuss the king, but to
discover, if possible, some means of extricating ourselves from the
disagreeable position in which we have been placed by the unexpected
refusal of our petition. We were so confident of a different answer
to our just demand, and have expressed this confidence so publicly,
that, when the result is known, we shall be ridiculed by both
citizens and students."
While the worthy professors were still deep in their discussion,
they were interrupted by the entrance of a servant, who announced
that there was a gentleman at the door, who called himself Eckhof,
and who desired to be admitted to President Franke.
"Eckhof!" exclaimed all three, and the two friends looked
mistrustfully at Franke.
"Eckhof! Do you receive Eckhof?"
"Does this actor dare to cross your threshold?"
"It appears so," cried Franke, angrily. "He has the boldness to
force himself into my presence.--Let him enter; we will then hear
how he justifies this intrusion."
As Eckhof entered the room, the three professors remained seated, as
if awaiting the approach of a criminal.
Apparently unmoved by this want of courtesy, Eckhof advanced to the
president, and, after making a respectful bow, offered him his hand.
Franke, ignoring this movement, asked, without changing his
position, to what singular accident he might attribute the honor of
Eckhof appeared grieved and astonished at the reception, but
replied, "I came, your excellency, to ask a favor. My friends have
determined to give me a benefit to-night, and we have selected
Voltaire's wonderful tragedy, 'Britannicus,' for our performance.
The tickets are all sold, two hundred of them to the students. There
is, however, one thing wanting to make the evening all I would wish,
and that is the presence of your excellency and some of the
professors at the representation. Therefore I am here, and have
taken the liberty of bringing these tickets, which I beg you will
accept for the use of yourself and your brother professors," and,
bowing once more, he placed the tickets upon the table before which
he was standing.
"Are you so lost, sir, to all sense of propriety," cried Franke, "as
to believe that I, the president of the university, a professor of
theology, and a doctor of philosophy, would enter your unholy, God-
forsaken theatre? No, sir, even in this degenerate age. we have not
fallen so low that the men of God are to be found in such places."
"These are very hard and unchristian words, your excellency,
Professor and Doctor Franke, words which no Christian, no man of
learning, no gentleman should employ. But I, although a poor actor,
bearing no distinguished title, will only remember what is becoming
for a Christian, and will say, in the words of our Lord, 'Father,
forgive them, they know not what they do.'"
"Those holy words become a blasphemy on your lips," said Professor
"And still I repeat them. 'Father, forgive them, they know not what
they do.' Do you not know that in judging me, you condemn
yourselves? I came into your presence, hoping to reconcile the
difficulties and misunderstanding which I heard had been occasioned
by the theatre between the professors and the students; but you have
treated me with scorn and declined my assistance, and nothing
remains for me but to bid you farewell, most learned and worthy
He bowed ceremoniously, and passed out, without again glancing at
the indignant professors, and joined Joseph Fredersdorf, who awaited
"Well, did they accept your invitation?"
"No, my friend, all happened as you predicted; they refused it with
scorn and indignation."
"Now you will agree with me that we can hope to do nothing in
"Yes, you were right, I fear, Joseph; but let us dismiss so painful
a subject. We will now go to our rehearsal, and we must perform our
tragedy with such care and in such a manner that the thunders of
applause which we receive will reach the ears of our enemies."
The three professors were still in the room of the president, in
"So this miserable Eckhof is to have what he calls a benefit to-
night?" said the president.
"Two hundred students will be present," groaned Professor Heinrich.
"And our lecture halls will be empty."
"We must exert our energies and put a stop to these proceedings; it
is scandalous that our students have forsaken their studies to run
after these actors."
"Truly something must be done, for not only our fame but our purses
are at stake."
"This evil cannot continue; we must take prompt measures to root it
out," said the president. "The General Directory decided that the
actors should not be expelled from Halle, unless it could be proved
that they had been the occasion of some public difficulty. It is
therefore necessary that such a difficulty should arise. According
to Eckhof's account, there will be two hundred students at the
theatre to-night. There are still, however, nearly one hundred who
will not be present at his performance. Among these there must be
some brave, determined, devout young men, who, in the name of God,
of science, and of their teachers, would willingly enter the lists
against these actors, and create a disturbance. We must employ some
of these young men to visit the theatre to-night, and to groan and
hiss when the other students applaud. This will be all-sufficient to
raise a riot amongst these hot-blooded young men. After that, our
course is plain; we have but to send in our account of the affair to
the General Directory, and there will be no danger of a second
refusal to our petition."
"An excellent idea!"
"I am afraid, however, it will be difficult to find any students who
will put their lives in such jeopardy."
"We must seek them among those to whose advantage it is to stand
well with the president."
"There are some who receive a yearly stipend through me, and others
who live only for science, and never visit the theatre. I name, for
example, the industrious young student Lupinus. I shall speak to
him, and I am sure he will not refuse to assist us; he is small and
not very strong, it is true, but he stands well with the students,
and will carry others with him. I know five others upon whom I can
count, and that is enough for our purpose. I will give them these
tickets which Eckhof left here. He desired that we should make use
of them, and we will do so, but to serve our own purpose, and not
Having arrived at this happy conclusion, the three professors
THE STUDENT LUPINUS.
Young Lupinus sat quiet and alone, as was usual with him, in his
room, before his writing-table, which was covered with books and
folios. He was thinner and paler than when we first met him in
Berlin. His deeply-sunken eyes were encircled with those dark rings
which are usually the outward sign of mental suffering. His
bloodless lips were firmly pressed together, and the small hand,
upon which his pale brow rested, was transparently thin and white.
Lupinus was working, or appeared to be so. Before him lay one of
those venerable folios which excite the reverence of the learned.
The eyes of the young man rested, it is true, upon the open page,
but so long, and so uninterruptedly, that it was evident his
thoughts were elsewhere.
The professors would, no doubt, have been rejoiced had they seen him
bent thus earnestly and attentively over this volume. If, however,
they had seen what really claimed his attention, they would have
been seized with horror. Upon his open book lay a playbill, the bill
for that evening, and upon this "thing of horror" rested the eyes of
the young student.
"No, no," he said, after a long pause, "I will not go. I will not be
overcome by my heart, after the fierce struggle of these two long,
fearful months. I will not, I dare not see Eckhof again; I should be
lost--undone. Am I not lost even now? Do I not see ever before me
those great, burning eyes; do I ever cease to hear his soft,
melodious voice, which seems to sing a requiem over my dead
happiness? I have striven uselessly against my fate--my life is
blighted. I will strive no longer, but I will die honorably, as I
have lived. I only pray to God that in my last hour I may not curse
my father with my dying lips. He has sinned heavily against me; he
has sacrificed my life to his will. May God forgive him! Now,"
continued Lupinus, "enough of complaints. My resolution is taken; I
will not go to the theatre, for I dare not see Eckhof again."
He suddenly seized the playbill, and pressed the spot where Eckhof's
name stood again and again to his lips, then tore the paper into
many pieces, and threw them behind him.
"So long as I live, I must struggle--I will battle bravely. My heart
shall die, my soul awake and comfort me."
Again he bent his head over the great tome, but this time a light
knock at his door interrupted him, and the immediate entrance of
Professor Franke filled him with amazement.
"My visit seems to astonish you," said the professor, in the most
friendly tone. "You think it singular that the president of the
university should seek out one of the students. Perhaps it would be
so in an ordinary case; but for you, Lupinus, who are the most
learned and honorable young man in our midst, we cannot do too much
to show our respect and esteem."
"This is an honor which almost shames me," said Lupinus, blushing;
"an honor of which, I fear, I am unworthy."
"I desire to give you a still greater proof of my esteem," continued
the professor. "I wish to make you my confidant, and inform you of
an intrigue which, insignificant as it appears, will be followed by
With ready words, Franke proceeded to explain to Lupinus his own
views with regard to the actors; what he considered their wretched
influence over the students, and also the ill-advised decision of
the General Directory. He then informed Lupinus of his plan for
creating a disturbance in the theatre, and requested his assistance
in carrying it out.
Lupinus listened with horror to this explanation and request, but he
controlled himself, and quietly received the ticket which the
president handed him. He listened silently to the further details,
and Franke understood his silence as a respectful assent.
When the president had at length taken leave, and Lupinus was again
alone, he seized the ticket, threw it on the ground, and trampled it
under foot, thus visiting upon the inoffensive ticket the scorn he
had not dared exhibit to the president.
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