FREDERICK THE GREAT AND HIS FAMILY
Part 3 out of 16
have generally one ready in case a rich or renowned guest should
desire it. But this pie is not for every man!"
"My brother wants it for himself--himself alone," said Balby,
decisively. Even the proud hostess felt his tone imposing.
"Sir," said she, after a short pause, "forgive me if I speak plainly
to you. You wish to eat one of my renowned pies, and to have it
served in a private room, as the General Stadtholder and other high
potentates are accustomed to do. Well, I have this morning a pasty
made with truffles and Chinese birds'--nests, but you cannot have
it! To be frank, it is enormously dear, and I think neither your
brother nor yourself could pay for it!"
And now it was Balby's turn to laugh aloud, and he did so with the
free, unembarrassed gayety of a man who is sure of his position, and
is neither confused nor offended.
Madame Blaken was somewhat provoked by this unrestrained merriment.
"You laugh, sir, but I have good reason for supposing you to be poor
and unknown. You came covered with dust and on foot to my hotel,
accompanied by one servant carrying a small carpet-bag. You have
neither equipage, retinue, nor baggage. You receive no visits; and,
as it appears, make none. You are always dressed in your simple,
modest, rather forlorn-looking brown coats. You have never taken a
dinner here, but pass the day abroad, and when you return in the
evening you ask for a cup of tea and a few slices of bread and
butter. Rich people do not travel in this style, and I therefore
have the right to ask if you can afford to pay for my pasty? I do
not know who or what you are, nor your brother's position In the
"Oh," cried Balby who was highly amused by the candor of the
hostess, "my brother has a most distinguished position, I assure
you--his fame resounds throughout Germany."
"Bah I" said Madame Blaken, shrugging her shoulders; "the name is
entirely unknown to us. Pray, what is your brother, and for what is
"For his flute," answered Balby, with solemn gravity. Madame Blaken
rose and glanced scornfully at Balby. "Are you mating sport of me,
sir?" said she, threateningly.
"Not in the least, madame; I am telling you an important truth. My
brother is a renowned virtuoso."
"A virtuoso?" repeated the hostess; "I do not understand the word.
Pray, what is a virtuoso?"
"A virtuoso, madame, is a musician who makes such music as no other
man can make. He gives concerts, and sells the tickets for an
enormous price, and the world rushes to hear his music. I assure
you, madame, my brother can play so enchantingly that those who hear
his flute are forced to dance in spite of themselves. He receives
large sums of gold, and if he gives a concert here you will see that
all your distinguished people will flock to hear him. You can set
your pasty before him without fear--he is able to pay richly for
Madame Blaken rose without a word and advanced toward the door.
"Come, sir, come. I am going to your brother." Without waiting for
an answer, she stepped through the corridor and tapped lightly at
the stranger's door. She was on the point of opening it, but Balby
caught her hand hastily.
"Madame," said he, "allow me to enter and inquire if you can be
received." He wished to draw her back from the door, but the hostess
of the Black Raven was not the woman to be withdrawn.
"You wish to ask if I can enter?" repeated she. "I may well claim
that privilege in my own house."
With a determined hand she knocked once more upon the door, opened
it immediately and entered, followed by Balby, who by signs
endeavored to explain and beg pardon for the intrusion.
Frederick did not regard him, his blue eyes were fixed upon the
woman who, with laughing good-humor, stepped up to him and held out
both of her large, course hands in greeting.
"Sir, I come to convince myself if what your brother said was true."
"Well, madame, what has my brother said?"
"He declares that yon can whistle splendidly, and all the world is
forced to dance after your music."
"I said play the flute, madame! I said play the flute!" cried Balby,
horrified. "Well, flute or whistle," said Madame Blaken, proudly,
"it's the same thing. Be so good, sir, as to whistle me something; I
will then decide as to the pasty." The king looked at Balby
curiously. "Will you have the goodness, brother, to explain madame's
meaning, and what she requires of me?"
"Allow me to explain myself, "said the hostess. "This gentle-man
came and ordered a rich pie for you; this pasty has given celebrity
to my house. It is true I have one prepared, but I would not send it
to you. Would you know why? This is an enormously expensive dish,
and I have no reason to believe that you are in a condition to pay
for it. I said this to your brother, and I might with truth have
told him that I regretted to see him in my hotel--not that you are
in yourselves objectionable, on the contrary, you appear to me to be
harmless and amiable men, but because of your purses. I fear that
you do not know the charges of first-class hotels, and will be
amazed at your bill. Your brother, however, assures me that you can
afford to pay for all you order; that you make a great deal of
money; that you are a virtuoso, give concerts, and sell tickets at
the highest price. Now, I will convince myself if you are a great
musician and can support yourself. Whistle me something, and I will
decide as to the pie."
The king listened to all this with suppressed merriment, and gave
Balby a significant look.
"Bring my flute, brother; I will convince madame that I am indeed a
"Let us hear," said Madame Blaken, seating herself upon the sofa
from which the king had just arisen.
Frederick made, with indescribable solemnity, a profound bow to the
hostess. He placed the flute to his lips and began to play, but not
in his accustomed masterly style--not in those mild, floating
melodies, those solemn sacred, and exalted strains which it was his
custom to draw from his beloved flute. He played a gay and brilliant
solo, full of double trills and rhapsodies; it was an astounding
medley, which seemed to make a triumphal march over the instrument,
overcoming all difficulties. But those soft tones which touched the
soul and roused to noble thoughts were wanting; in truth, the melody
failed, the music was wanting.
Madame Blaken listened with ever-increasing rapture to this wondrous
exercise; these trills, springing from octave to octave, drew forth
her loudest applause; she trembled with ecstasy, and as the king
closed with a brilliant cadence, she clapped her hands and shouted
enthusiastically. She stood up respectfully before the artiste in
the simple brown coat, and bowing low, said earnestly:
"Your brother was right, you can surely earn much money by your
whistle. You whistle as clearly as my mocking-bird. You shall have
the pie--I go to order it at once," and she hastened from the room.
"Well," said the king, laughing, "this was a charming scene, and I
thank you for it, brother Henry. It is a proud and happy feeling to
know that you can stand upon your feet, or walk alone; in other
words, that you can earn a support. Now, if the sun of Prussia sets,
I shall not hunger, for I can earn my bread; Madame Blaken assures
me of it. But, Henry, did I not play eminently?"
"That was the most glittering, dazzling piece for a concert which I
ever heard," said Balby, "and Mr. Zoller may well be proud of it,
but I counsel him not to play it before the King of Prussia; he
would, in his jealousy, declare it was not music, nothing but sound,
and signifying nothing."
"Bravo, my friend, "said Frederick, taking his friend's hand; "yes,
he would say that. Mr. Zoller played like a true virtuoso, that is
to say, without intellect and without soul; he did not make music,
only artistic tones. But here comes the pasty, and I shall relish it
wondrous well. It is the first meat I have ever earned with my
flute. Let us eat, brother Henry."
THE KING WITHOUT SHOES.
The pie was really worthy of its reputation, and the king enjoyed it
highly. He was gay and talkative, and amused himself in recalling
the varied adventures of the past five days.
"They will soon be tempi passati, these giorni felice," he said,
sighing. "To-day is the last day of our freedom and happiness; to-
morrow we must take up our yoke, and exchange our simple brown coats
for dashing uniforms."
"I know one, at least, who is rejoicing," said Balby, laughing, "the
unhappy Deesen, who has just sworn most solemnly that he would throw
himself in the river if he had to play much longer the part of a
servant without livery--a servant of two unknown musicians; and he
told me, with tears in his eyes, that not a respectable man in the
house would speak to him; that the pretty maids would not even
listen to his soft sighs and tender words."
"Dress makes the man," said the king, laughing; "if Deesen wore his
cabinet-hussar livery these proud beauties who now despise, would
smile insidiously. How strangely the world is constituted! But let
us enjoy our freedom while we may. We still have some collections of
paintings to examine--here are some splendid pictures of Rembrandt
and Rubens to be sold. Then, last of all, I have an important piece
of business to transact with the great banker, Witte, on whom I have
a draft. You know that Madame Blaken is expensive, and the picture-
dealers will not trust our honest faces; we must show them hard
"Does your--Shall I not go to the bankers and draw the money?" said
Balby. "Oh no, I find it pleasant to serve myself, to be my own
master and servant at the same time. Allow me this rare pleasure for
a few hours longer, Balby." The king took his friend's arm, and
recommenced his search for paintings and treasures to adorn his
gallery at Sans-Souci. Everywhere he was received kindly and
respectfully, for all recognized them as purchasers, and not idle
sight-seers. The dealers appreciated the difference between idle
enthusiasm and well-filled purses.
The king understood this well, and on leaving the house of the last
rich merchant he breathed more freely, and said:
"I am glad that is over. The rudeness of the postmaster at Grave
pleased me better than the civilities of these people. Come, Balby,
we have bought pictures enough; now we will only admire them, enjoy
without appropriating them. The rich banker, Abramson, is said to
have a beautiful collection; we will examine them, and then have our
The banker's splendid house was soon found, and the brothers entered
the house boldly, and demanded of the richly-dressed, liveried
servant to be conducted to the gallery.
"This is not the regular day," said the servant, with a contemptuous
shrug of the shoulders, as he measured the two strangers.
"Not the day! What day?" asked the king, sharply.
"Not the day of general exhibition. You must wait until next
"Impossible, we leave to-morrow. Go to your master and tell him two
strangers wish to see his gallery, and beg it may be opened for
There was something so haughty and irresistible in the stranger's
manner, that the servant not daring to refuse, and still astonished
at his own compliance, went to inform his master of the request. He
returned in a few moments, and announced that his master would come
himself to receive them.
The door opened immediately, and Mr. Abramson stepped into the hall;
his face, bright and friendly, darkened when his black eyes fell
upon the two strangers standing in the hall.
"You desired to speak to me," he said, in the arrogant tone that the
rich Jews are accustomed to use when speaking to unknown and poor
people. "What is your wish, sirs?"
The king's brow darkened, and he looked angrily at the supercilious
man of fortune, who was standing opposite him, with his head proudly
thrown back, and his hands in his pockets. But Frederick's
countenance soon cleared, and he said, with perfect composure:
"We wish you to show us your picture-gallery, sir."
The tone in which he spoke was less pleading than commanding, and
roused the anger of the easily enraged parvenu.
"Sir, I have a picture-gallery, arranged for my own pleasure and
paid for with my own money. I am very willing to show it to all who
have not the money to purchase pictures for themselves, and to
satisfy the curiosity of strangers, I have set aside a day in each
week on which to exhibit my gallery."
"You mean, then, sir, that you will not allow us to enter your
museum?" said the king, smilingly, and laying his hand at the same
time softly on Balby's arm, to prevent him from speaking.
"I mean that my museum is closed, and--"
A carriage rolled thunderingly to the door; the outer doors of the
hall were hastily opened, a liveried servant entered, and stepping
immediately to Mr. Abramson, he said:
"Lord Middlestone, of Loudon, asks the honor of seeing your
The countenance of the Jewish banker beamed with delight.
"Will his excellency have the graciousness to enter? I consider it
an honor to show him my poor treasures. My gallery is closed to-day,
but for Lord Middlestone, I will open it gladly."
His contemptuous glance met the two poor musicians, who had stepped
aside, and were silent witnesses of this scene.
The outer doors of the court were opened noisily, and a small,
shrivelled human form, assisted by two servants, staggered into the
hall. It was an old man, wrapped in furs; this was his excellency
Lord Middlestone. Mr. Abramson met him with a profound bow, and
sprang forward to the door that led to the gallery.
Every eye was fixed upon this sad picture of earthly pomp and
greatness; all felt the honor to the house of Mr. Abramson. Lord
Middlestone, the ambassador of the King of England, desired to see
his collection. This was an acknowledgment of merit that delighted
the heart of the banker, and added a new splendor to his house.
While the door was being opened to admit his lordship, Balby and the
king left the house unnoticed.
The king was angry, and walked silently along for a time; suddenly
remaining standing, he gazed steadily at Balby, and broke out into a
loud, merry laugh, that startled the passers-by, and made them look
wonderingly after him.
"Balby, my friend," he said, still laughing, "I will tell you
something amusing. Never in my life did I feel so humble and ashamed
as when his excellency entered the gallery so triumphantly, and we
slipped away so quietly from the house. Truly, I was fool enough to
be angry at first, but I now feel that the scene was irresistibly
comic. Oh! oh, Balby! do laugh with me. Think of us, who imagine
ourselves to be such splendidly handsome men, being shown the door,
and that horrid shrunken, diseased old man being received with such
consideration! He smelt like a salve-box, we are odorous with
ambrosia; but all in vain, Abramson preferred the salve-box."
"Abramson's olfactories are not those of a courtier," said Balby,
"or he would have fainted at the odor of royalty. But truly, this
Mr. Abramson is a disgraceful person, and I beg your majesty to
avenge Mr. Zoller."
"I shall do so. He deserves punishment; he has insulted me as a man;
the king will punish him." [Footnote: The king kept his word. The
Jew heard afterward that it was the king whom he had treated so
disrespectfully, and here could never obtain his forgiveness. He was
not allowed to negotiate with the Prussian government or banks, and
was thus bitterly punished for his misconduct.]
"And now we will have our check cashed by Mr. Witte. I bet he will
not dismiss us so curtly, for my draft is for ten thousand crowns,
and he will be respectful--if not to us, to our money."
The worthy and prosperous Madame Witte had just finished dusting and
cleaning her state apartment, and was giving it a last artistic
survey. She smiled contentedly, and acknowledged that there was
nothing more to be done. The mirrors and windows were of transparent
brightness--no dust was seen on the silk furniture or the costly
ornaments--it was perfect. With a sad sigh Madame Witte left the
room and locked the door with almost a feeling of regret. She must
deny herself for the next few days her favorite occupation--there
was nothing more to dust or clean in the apartment and only in this
room was her field of operation--only here did her husband allow her
to play the servant. With this exception he required of her to be
the lady of the house--the noble wife of the rich banker--and this
was a role that pleased the good woman but little. She locked the
door with a sigh and drew on her shoes, which she was accustomed
always to leave in the hall before entering her state apartment,
then stepped carefully on the border of the carpet that covered the
hall to another door. At this moment violent ringing was heard at
the front door. Madame Witte moved quickly forward to follow the
bent of her womanly curiosity and see who desired admittance at this
unusual hour. Two strangers had already entered the hall and desired
to see the banker.
"Mr. Witte is not at home, and if your business is not too pressing,
call again early to-morrow morning."
"But my business is pressing," said Frederick Zoller, hastily, "I
must speak with Mr. Witte to-day."
"Can they wish to borrow money from him?" thought Madame Witte, who
saw the two strangers through the half-opened door.
"To borrow, or to ask credit, I am sure that is their business."
"May I ask the nature of your business?" said the servant. "In order
to bring Mr. Witte from the Casino I must know what you wish of
"I desire to have a draft of ten thousand crowns cashed," said
Frederick Zoller, sharply.
The door was opened hastily, and Madame Witte stepped forward to
greet the stranger and his companion. "Have the kindness, gentlemen,
to step in and await my husband; he will be here in a quarter of an
hour. Go, Andres, for Mr. Witte." Andres ran off, and Madame Witte
accompanied the strangers through the hall. Arrived at the door of
the state apartment, she quickly drew off her shoes, and then
remained standing, looking expectantly at the strangers.
"Well, madame," said the king, "shall we await Mr. Witte before this
door, or will you show us into the next room?"
"Certainly I will; but I am waiting on you."
"On us? And what do you expect of us?"
"What I have done, sirs--to take your shoes off."
The king laughed aloud. "Can no one, then, enter that room with
"Never, sir. It was a custom of my great-grandfather. He had this
house built, and never since then has any one entered it with shoes.
Please, therefore, take them off."
Balby hastened to comply with her peremptory command. "Madame, it
will suffice you for me to follow this custom of your ancestors--you
will spare my brother this ceremony."
"And why?" asked Madame Witte, astonished. "His shoes are no cleaner
or finer than yours, or those of other men. Have the kindness to
take off your shoes also."
"You are right, madame," said the king, seriously. "We must leave
off the old man altogether; therefore, you ask but little in
requiring us to take off our shoes before entering your state
apartment" He stooped to undo the buckles of his shoes, and when
Balby wished to assist him, he resisted. "No, no; you shall not
loosen my shoes--you are too worthy for that. Madame Witte might
think that I am a very assuming person--that I tyrannize over my
brother. There, madame, the buckles are undone, and there lie my
shoes, and now we are ready to enter your state apartment."
Madame Witte opened the door with cold gravity, and allowed them to
pass. "To-morrow I can dust again," she said, gleefully, "for the
strangers' clothes are very dirty."
In the mean time, the two strangers awaited the arrival of Mr.
Witte. The king enjoyed his comic situation immensely. Balby looked
anxiously at the bare feet of the king, and said he should never
have submitted to Madame Witte's caprice. The floor was cold, and
the king might be taken ill.
"Oh, no," said Frederick, "I do not get sick so easily--my system
can stand severer hardships. We should be thankful that we have come
off so cheaply, for a rich banker like Witte in Amsterdam, is equal
to the Pope in Rome; and I do not think taking off our shoes is
paying too dearly to see the pope of Holland. Just think what King
Henry IV. had to lay aside before he could see the Pope of Rome--not
only his shoes and stockings and a few other articles, but his
royalty and majesty. Madame Witte is really for bearing not to
require the same costume of us."
The door behind them was opened hastily, and the banker Witte
stepped in. He advanced to meet them with a quiet smile, but
suddenly checked himself, and gazed with terror at the king.
"My God! his majesty the King of Prussia!" he stammered. "Oh! your
majesty! what an undeserved favor you are doing my poor house in
honoring it with your presence!"
"You know me, then?" said the king, smiling. "Well, I beg you may
not betray my incognito, and cash for Frederick Zoller this draft of
ten thousand crowns."
He stepped forward to hand the banker the draft. Mr. Witte uttered a
cry of horror, and, wringing his hands, fell upon his knees. He had
just seen that the king was barefooted.
"Oh! your majesty! Mercy! mercy!" he pleaded. "Pardon my unhappy
wife who could not dream of the crime she was committing. Why did
your majesty consent to her insane demand? Why did you not
peremptorily refuse to take off your shoes?"
"Why? Well, ma foi, because I wished to spare the King of Prussia a
humiliation. I believe Madame Witte would rather have thrown me out
of the house than allowed me to enter this sacred room with my shoes
"No, your majesty, no. She would--"
At this moment the door opened, and Madame Witte, drawn by the loud
voice of her husband, entered the room.
"Wife!" he cried, rising, "come forward; fall on your knees and
plead for forgiveness."
"What have I done?" she asked, wonderingly.
"You compelled this gentleman to take off his shoes at the door."
"Well, and what of that?"
"Well," said Mr. Witte, solemnly, as he laid his arm upon his wife's
shoulder and tried to force her to her knees, "this is his majesty
the King of Prussia!"
But the all-important words had not the expected effect. Madame
Witte remained quietly standing, and looked first upon her own bare
feet and then curiously at the king.
"Beg the king's pardon for your most unseemly conduct," said Witte.
"Why was it unseemly?" asked his better-half. "Do I not take off my
shoes every time I enter this room? The room is mine, and does not
belong to the King of Prussia."
Witte raised his hands above his head in despair. The king laughed
loudly and heartily.
"You see I was right, sir," he said. "Only obedience could spare the
King of Prussia a humiliation. [Footnote: The king's own words. see
Nicolai's "anecdotes of Frederick the Great, "collection V., P.31]
But let us go to your business room and arrange our moneyed affairs.
There, madame, I suppose you will allow me to put on my shoes."
Without a word, Mr. Witte rushed from the room for the king's shoes,
and hastened to put them, not before the king, but before the door
that led into his counting room.
With a gay smile, the king stepped along the border of the carpet to
his shoes, and let Balby put them on for him.
"Madame," he said, "I see that you are really mistress in your own
house, and that you are obeyed, not from force, but from instinct.
God preserve you your strong will and your good husband!"
"Now," said the king, after they had received the money and returned
to the hotel, "we must make all our arrangements to return to-morrow
morning early--our incognito is over! Mr. Witte promised not to
betray us, but his wife is not to be trusted; therefore, by to-
morrow morning, the world will know that the King of Prussia is in
Amsterdam. Happily, Mr. Witte does not know where I am stopping. I
hope to be undisturbed to-day, but by to-morrow this will be
The king prophesied aright: Madame Witte was zealously engaged in
telling her friends the important news that the King of Prussia had
visited her husband, and was now in Amsterdam.
The news rolled like an avalanche from house to house, from street
to street, and even reached the major's door, who, in spite of the
lateness of the hour, called a meeting of the magistrates, and sent
policemen to all the hotels to demand a list of the strangers who
had arrived during the last few days. In order to greet the king,
they must first find him.
Early the next morning, a simple caleche, with two horses, stood at
the hotel of the "Black Raven." The brothers Zoller were about to
leave Amsterdam, and, to Madame Blaken's astonishment, they not only
paid their bill without murmuring, but left a rich douceur for the
servants. The hostess stepped to the door to bid them farewell, and
nodded kindly as they came down the steps. Their servant followed
with the little carpet-bag and the two music-cases.
When Deesen became aware of the presence of the hostess, and the two
head-servants, he advanced near to the king.
"Your majesty, may I now speak?" he murmured.
"Not yet," said the king, smiling, "wait until we are in the
He descended the steps, with a friendly nod to the hostess. Balby
and himself left the house.
"See, my friend, how truly I prophesied," he said, as he pointed
down the street; "let us get in quickly, it is high time to be off;
see the crowd advancing."
Frederick was right; from the end of the street there came a long
procession of men, headed by the two mayors, dressed in black robes,
trimmed with broad red bands. They were followed by the senators,
clothed in the same manner. A great number of the rich aristocrats
of the city accompanied them.
Madame Blaken had stepped from the house, and was looking curiously
at the approaching crowd, and while she and her maids were wondering
what this could mean, the two Mr. Zollers entered the carriage, and
their servant had mounted the box.
"May I speak now?" said Deesen, turning to the king.
"Yes, speak," said the king, "but quickly, or the crowd will take
your secret from you."
"Hostess!" cried Deesen, from the box, "do you know what that crowd
"No," she said, superciliously.
"I will explain; listen, madame. The magistrates are coming to greet
the King of Prussia!"
"The King of Prussia!" shrieked the hostess. "Where is the King of
"Here!" cried Deesen, with a malicious grin, as he pointed to the
king, "and I am his majesty's cabinet-hussar! Forward, postilion!--
The postilion whipped his horses, and the carriage dashed by the
mayors and senators, who were marching to greet the King of Prussia.
They never dreamed that he had just passed mischievously by them.
Two days later, the king and his companions stood on the Prussian
border, on the spot where, in the beginning of their journey, the
king had written the words "majesty" and "sire."
"Look!" he said, pointing to the ground, "the two fatal words have
not vanished away; the sun has hardened the ground, and they are
still legible. I must lift them from the sand, and wear them
henceforth and forever. Give me your hand, Balby; the poor musician,
Frederick Zoller, will bid farewell to his friend, and not only to
you, Balby, but farewell also to my youth. This is my last youthful
adventure. Now, I shall grow old and cold gracefully. One thing I
wish to say before I resume my royalty; confidentially, I am not
entirely displeased with the change. It seems to me difficult to
fill the role of a common man. Men do not seem to love and trust
each other fully; a man avenges himself on an innocent party for the
wrongs another has committed. Besides, I do not rightly understand
the politenesses of common life, and, therefore, received many
reproaches. I believe, on the whole, it is easier to bestow than to
receive them. Therefore, I take up my crown willingly."
"Will your majesty allow me a word?" said Deesen, stepping forward.
"I thank Mr. Zoller for saving my life. As true as God lives, I
should have stifled with rage if I had not told that haughty
Hollander who Mr. Zoller was and who I was."
"Now, forward! Farewell, Frederick Zoller! Now I am on Prussian
soil, the hour of thoughtless happiness is passed. I fear, Balby,
that the solemn duties of life will soon take possession of us. So
be it! I accept my destiny--I am again Frederick of Hohenzollern!"
"And I have the honor to be the first to greet your majesty on your
own domain," said Balby, as he bowed profoundly before the king.
THE UNHAPPY NEWS.
The Princess Amelia was alone in her room. She was stretched upon a
sofa, lost in deep thought; her eyes were raised to heaven, and her
lips trembled; from time to time they murmured a word of complaint
or of entreaty.
Amelia was ill. She had been ill since that unhappy day in which she
intentionally destroyed her beauty to save herself from a hated
marriage.[Footnote: See "Berlin and Sans-Souci."] Her eyes had never
recovered their glance or early fire; they were always inflamed and
veiled by tears. Her voice had lost its metallic ring and youthful
freshness; it sounded from her aching and hollow chest like sighs
from a lonely grave.
Severe pain from time to time tortured her whole body, and
contracted her limbs with agonizing cramps. She had the appearance
of a woman of sixty years of age, who was tottering to the grave.
In this crushed and trembling body dwelt a strong, powerful, healthy
soul; this shrunken, contracted bosom was animated by a youthful,
ardent, passionate heart. This heart had consecrated itself to the
love of its early years with an obstinate and feverish power.
In wild defiance against her fate, Amelia had sworn never to yield,
never to break faith; to bear all, to suffer all for her love, and
to press onward with unshaken resignation but never-failing courage
through the storms and agonies of a desolate, misunderstood, and
wretched existence. She was a martyr to her birth and her love; she
accepted this martyrdom with defiant self-reliance and joyful
Years had passed since she had seen Trenck, but she loved him still!
She knew he had not guarded the faith they had mutually sworn with
the constancy that she had religiously maintained; but she loved him
still! She had solemnly sworn to her brother to give up the foolish
and fantastic wish of becoming the wife of Trenck; but she loved him
still! She might not live for him, but she would suffer for him; she
could not give him her hand, but she could consecrate thought and
soul to him. In imagination she was his, only his; he had a holy, an
imperishable right to her. Had she not sworn, in the presence of
God, to be his through life down to the borders of the grave? Truly,
no priest had blessed them; God had been their priest, and had
united them. There had been no mortal witness to their solemn oaths,
but the pure stars were present--with their sparkling, loving eyes
they had looked down and listened to the vows she had exchanged with
Trenck. She was therefore his--his eternally! He had a sacred claim
upon her constancy, her love, her forbearance, and her forgiveness.
If Trenck had wandered from his faith, she dared not follow his
example; she must be ever ready to listen to his call, and give him
the aid he required.
Amelia's love was her religion, her life's strength, her life's
object; it was a talisman to protect and give strength in time of
need. She would have died without it; she lived and struggled with
her grief only for his sake.
This was a wretched, joyless existence--a never-ending martyrdom, a
never-ceasing contest. Amelia stood alone and unloved in her family,
feared and avoided by all the merry, thoughtless, pleasure seeking
circle. In her sad presence they shuddered involuntarily and felt
chilled, as by a blast from the grave. She was an object of distrust
and weariness to her companions and servants, an object of love and
frank affection to no one.
Mademoiselle Ernestine von Haak had alone remained true to her; but
she had married, and gone far away with her husband. Princess Amelia
was now alone; there was no one to whom she could express her sorrow
and her fears; no one who understood her suppressed agony, or who
spoke one word of consolation or sympathy to her broken heart.
She was alone in the world, and the consciousness of this steeled
her strength, and made an impenetrable shield for her wearied soul.
She gave herself up entirety to her thoughts and dreams. She lived a
strange, enchanted, double life and twofold existence. Outwardly,
she was old, crushed, ill; her interior life was young, fresh,
glowing, and energetic, endowed with unshaken power, and tempered in
the fire of her great grief. Amelia lay upon the divan and looked
dreamily toward heaven. A strange and unaccountable presentiment was
upon her; she trembled with mysterious forebodings. She had always
felt thus when any new misfortunes were about to befall Trenck. It
seemed as if her soul was bound to his, and by means of an electric
current she felt the blow in the same moment that it fell upon him.
The princess believed in these presentiments. She had faith in
dreams and prophecies, as do all those unhappy beings to whom fate
has denied real happiness, and who seek wildly in fantastic visions
for compensation. She loved, therefore, to look into the future
through fortune-tellers and dark oracles, and thus prepare herself
for the sad events which lay before her. The day before, the
renowned astrologer Pfannenstein had warned her of approaching
peril; he declared that a cloud of tears was in the act of bursting
upon her! Princess Amelia believed in his words, and waited with a
bold, resolved spirit for the breaking of the cloud, whose gray veil
she already felt to be round about her.
These sad thoughts were interrupted by a light knock upon the door,
and her maid entered and announced that the master of ceremonies,
Baron Pollnitz, craved an audience.
Amelia shuddered, but roused herself quickly. "Let him enter!" she
said, hastily. The short moment of expectation seemed an eternity of
anguish. She pressed her hands upon her heart, to still its stormy
beatings; she looked with staring, wide-opened eyes toward the door
through which Pollnitz must enter, and she shuddered as she looked
upon the ever-smiling, immovable face of the courtier, who now
entered her boudoir, with Mademoiselle von Marwitz at his side.
"Do you know, Pollnitz," said she, in a rough, imperious tone--"do
you know I believe your face is not flesh and blood, but hewn from
stone; or, at least, one day it was petrified? Perhaps the fatal
hour struck one day, just as you were laughing over some of your
villainies, and your smile was turned to stone as a judgment. I
shall know this look as long as I live; it is ever most clearly
marked upon your visage, when you have some misfortune to announce."
"Then this stony smile must have but little expression to-day, for I
do not come as a messenger of evil tidings; but if your royal
highness will allow me to say so, as a sort of postillon d'amour."
Amelia shrank back for a moment, gave one glance toward Mademoiselle
von Marwitz, whom she knew full well to be the watchful spy of her
mother, and whose daily duty it was to relate to the queen-mother
every thing which took place in the apartment of the princess. She
knew that every word and look of Pollnitz was examined with the
Pollnitz, however, spoke on with cool self-possession:
"You look astonished, princess; it perhaps appears to you that this
impassive face is little suited to the role of postillon d'amour,
and yet that is my position, and I ask your highness's permission to
make known my errand."
"I refuse your request," said Amelia, roughly; "I have nothing to do
with Love, and find his godship as old and dull as the messenger he
has sent me. Go back, then, to your blind god, and tell him that my
ears are deaf to his love greeting, and the screeching of the raven
is more melodious than the tenderest words a Pollnitz can utter."
The princess said this in her most repulsive tone. She was
accustomed to shield herself in this rude manner from all approach
or contact, and, indeed, she attained her object. She was feared and
avoided. Her witty bon mots and stinging jests were repeated and
merrily laughed over, but the world knew that she scattered her
sarcasms far and wide, in order to secure her isolation; to banish
every one from her presence, so that none might hear her sighs, or
read her sad history in her countenance.
"And yet, princess, I must still implore a hearing," said he, with
imperturbable good-humor; "if my voice is rough as the raven's, your
royal highness must feed me with sugar, and it will become soft and
tender as an innocent maiden's."
"I think a few ducats would be better for your case," said Amelia;
"a Pollnitz is not to be won with sweets, but for gold he would
follow the devil to the lower regions."
"You are right, princess; I do not wish to go to heaven, but be low;
there I am certain to find the best and most interesting society.
The genial people are all born devils, and your highness has ever
confessed that I am genial. Then let it be so! I will accept the
ducats which your royal highness think good for me, and now allow me
to discharge my duty. I come as the messenger of Prince Henry: He
sends his heart-felt greetings to his royal sister, and begs that
she will do him the honor to attend fete at Rheinsberg, which will
take place in eight days."
"Has the master of ceremonies of the king become the fourrier of
Prince Henry?" said Amelia.
"No, princess; I occasionally and accidentally perform the function
of a fourrier. This invitation was not my principal object to-day."
"I knew it," said Amelia, ironically. "My brother Henry does not
love me well enough to invite me to this fete, if he had not some
other object to attain. Well, what does Prince Henry wish?"
"A small favor, your royal highness; he wishes, on the birthday of
his wife, to have Voltaire's 'Rome Sauvee' given by the French
tragedians. Some years since your highness had a great triumph in
this piece. The prince remembers that Voltaire prepared the role of
Aurelia especially for you, with changes and additions, and he
entreats you, through me, the temporary Directeur des spectacles de
Rheinsberg, to lend him this role for the use of his performer."
"Why does not my brother rather entreat me to take this part
myself?" said Amelia, in cruel mockery over herself. "It appears to
me I could look the part of Aurelia, and my soft, flute-like voice
would make a powerful impression upon the public. It is cruel of
Prince Henry to demand this role of me; it might be inferred that he
thought I had become old and ugly."
"Not so, your highness; the tragedy is to be performed on this
occasion by public actors, and not by amateurs."
"You are right," said Amelia, suddenly becoming grave; "at that time
we were amateurs, lovers of the drama; our dreams are over--we live
in realities now."
"Mademoiselle von Marwitz, have the goodness to bring the manuscript
my brother wishes; it is partly written by Voltaire's own hand. You
will find it in the bureau in my dressing-room."
Mademoiselle Marwitz withdrew to get the manuscript; as she left the
room, she looked back suspiciously at Pollnitz and, as if by
accident, left the door open which led to the dressing-room.
Mademoiselle Marwitz had scarcely disappeared, before Pollnitz
sprang forward, with youthful agility, and closed the door.
"Princess, this commission of Prince Henry's was only a pretext. I
took this order from the princess's maitre d'hotel in order to
approach your highness unnoticed, and to get rid of the watchful
eyes of your Marwitz. Now listen well; Weingarten, the Austrian
secretary of Legation, was with me to-day."
"Ah, Weingarten," murmured the princess, tremblingly; "he gave you a
letter for me; quick, quick, give it to me."
"No, he gave me no letter; it appears that he, who formerly sent
letters, is no longer in the condition to do so."
"He is dead!" cried Amelia with horror, and sank back as if struck
"No, princess, he is not dead, but in great danger. It appears that
Weingarten is in great need of money; for a hundred louis d'or,
which I promised him, he confided to me that Trenck's enemies had
excited the suspicions of the king against him, and declared that
Trenck had designs against the life of Frederick."
"The miserable liars and slanderers!" cried Amelia, contemptuously.
"The king, as it appears, believes in these charges; he has written
to his resident minister to demand of the senate of Dantzic the
delivery of Trenck."
"Trenck is not in Dantzic, but in Vienna."
"He is in Dantzic--or, rather, he was there."
"Now," said Pollnitz, solemnly, "he is on the way to Konigsberg;
from that point he will be transported to some other fortress;
first, however, he will be brought to Berlin."
The unhappy princess uttered a shriek, which sounded like a wild
death-cry. "He is, then, a prisoner?"
"Yes; but, on his way to prison, so long as he does not cross the
threshold of the fortress, it is possible to deliver him.
Weingarten, who, it appears to me, is much devoted to your highness,
has drawn for me the plan of the route, Trenck is to take. Here it
is." He handed the princess a small piece of paper, which she seized
with trembling hands, and read hastily.
"He comes through Coslin," said she, joyfully; "that gives a chance
of safety in Coslin! The Duke of Wurtemberg, the friend of my
youthful days, is in Coslin; he will assist me. Pollnitz, quick,
quick, find me a courier who will carry a letter to the duke for me
"That will be difficult, if not impossible," said Pollnitz,
Amelia sprang from her seat; her eyes had the old fire, her features
their youthful expression and elasticity.
The power and ardor of her soul overcame the weakness of her body;
it found energy and strength.
"Well, then," said she, decisively, and even her voice was firm and
soft, "I will go myself; and woe to him who dares withhold me! I
have been ordered to take sea-baths. I will go this hour to Coslin
for that purpose! but no, no, I cannot travel so rashly. Pollnitz,
you must find me a courier."
"I will try," said Pollnitz. "One can buy all the glories of this
world for gold; and, I think, your highness will not regard a few
louis d'or, more or less."
"Find me a messenger, and I will pay every hour of his journey with
a gold piece."
"I will send my own servant, in half an hour he shall be ready."
"God be thanked! it will then, be possible to save him. Let me write
this letter at once, and hasten your messenger. Let him fly as if he
had wings--as if the wild winds of heaven bore him onward. The
sooner he brings me the answer of the duke, the greater shall be his
reward. Oh, I will reward him as if I were a rich queen, and not a
poor, forsaken, sorrowful princess."
"Write, princess, write," cried Pollnitz, eagerly: "but not have the
goodness to give me the hundred louis d'or before Mademoiselle
Marwitz returns. I promised them to Weingarten for his news; you can
add to them the ducats you were graciously pleased to bestow upon
Amelia did not reply; she stepped to the table and wrote a few
lines, which she handed to Pollnitz.
"Take this," said she, almost contemptuously; "it is a draft upon my
banker, Orguelin. I thank you for allowing your services to be paid
for; it relieves me from all call to gratitude. Serve me faithfully
in future, and you shall ever find my hand open and my purse full.
And now give me time to write to the duke, and--"
"Princess, I hear Mademoiselle Marwitz returning!"
Amelia left the writing-table hastily, and advanced to the door
through which Mademoiselle Marwitz must enter.
"Ah, you are come at last," said she, as the door opened. "I was
about to seek you. I feared you could not find the paper."
"It was very difficult to find amongst such a mass of letters and
papers," said Mademoiselle Marwitz, whose suspicious glance was now
wandering round the room. "I succeeded, however, at last; here is
the manuscript, your highness."
The princess took it and examined it carefully. "Ah, I thought so,"
she said. "A monologue which Voltaire wrote for me, is missing. I
gave it to the king, and I sec he has not returned it. I think my
memory is the only faculty which retains its power. It is my
misfortune that I cannot forget! I will test it to-day and try to
write this monologue from memory. I must be alone, however. I pray
you, mademoiselle, to go into the saloon with Pollnitz; he can
entertain you with the Chronique Scandaleuse of our most virtuous
court, while I am writing.--And now," said she, when she found
herself alone, "may God give me power to reach the heart of the
duke, and win him to my purpose!"
With a firm hand she wrote:
"Because you are happy, duke, you will have pity for the wretched.
For a few days past, you have had your young and lovely wife at your
side, and experienced the pure bliss of a happy union; you will
therefore comprehend the despair of those who love as fondly, and
can never be united. And now, I would remind you of a day on which
it was in my power to obtain for you a great favor from my brother
the king. At that time you promised me to return this service
tenfold, should it ever be in your power, and you made me promise,
if I should ever need assistance, to turn to you alone! My hour has
come! I need your help; not for myself! God and death alone can help
me. I demand your aid for a man who is chained with me to the
galleys. You know him--have mercy upon him! Perhaps he will arrive
at your court in the same hour with my letter. Duke, will you be the
jailer of the wretched and the powerless, who is imprisoned only
because I am the daughter of a king? Are your officers constables?
will you allow them to cast into an eternal prison him for whom I
have wept night and day for many long years?"
"Oh, my God! My God! you have given wings to the birds of the air;
you have given to the horse his fiery speed; you have declared that
man is the king of creation; you have marked upon his brow the seal
of freedom, and this is his holiest possession. Oh, friend, will you
consent that a noble gentleman, who has nothing left but his
freedom, shall be unjustly deprived of it! Duke, I call upon you! Be
a providence for my unhappy friend, and set him at liberty. And
through my whole life long I will bless and honor you! AMELIA."
"If he does not listen to this outcry of my soul," she whispered, as
she folded and sealed the letter--"if he has the cruelty to let me
plead in vain, then in my death-hour I will curse him, and charge
him with being the murderer of my last hope!"
The princess called Pollnitz, and, with an expressive glance, she
handed him the letter.
"Truly, my memory has not failed me," she said to Mademoiselle
Marwitz, who entered behind Pollnitz, and whose sharp eyes were
fixed upon the letter in the baron's hand. "I have been able to
write the whole monologue. Give this paper to my brother, Pollnitz;
I have added a few friendly lines, and excused myself for declining
the invitation. I cannot see this drama."
"Well, it seems to me I have made a lucrative affair of this," said
Pollnitz to himself, as he left the princess. "I promised Weingarten
only fifty louis d'or, so fifty remain over for myself, without
counting the ducats which the princess intends for me. Besides, I
shall be no such fool as to give my servant, who steals from me
every day, the reward the princess has set apart for him; and if I
give him outside work to do, it is my opportunity; he is my slave,
and the reward is properly mine."
"Listen, John!" Said Pollnitz to his servant, as he entered his
apartment. Poor John was, at the same time, body-servant, jockey,
and coachman. "Listen; do you know exactly how much you have loaned
"To a copper, your excellency," said John, joyfully. Poor John
thought that the hour of settlement had come. "Your excellency owes
me fifty-three thalers, four groschen, and five pennies."
"Common soul," cried Pollnitz, shrugging his shoulders
contemptuously, "to be able to keep in remembrance such pitiful
things as groschen and coppers. Well, I have a most pressing and
important commission for you. You must saddle your horse
immediately, and hasten to deliver this letter to the Duke of
Wurtemberg. You must ride night and day and not rest till you arrive
and deliver this packet into the duke's own hands. I will then allow
you a day's rest for yourself and horse; your return must be equally
rapid. If you are here again in eight days, I will reward you
"That is to say, your excellency--" said John, in breathless
"That is to say, I will pay you half the sum I owe you, if you are
here in eight days; if you are absent longer, you will get only a
"And if I return a day earlier?" Said John, sighing.
"I will give you a few extra thalers as a reward," said Pollnitz.
"But your excellency will, besides this, give me money for the
journey," said John, timidly.
"Miserable, shameless beggar!" Cried Pollnitz; "always demanding
more than one is willing to accord you. Learn from your noble master
that there is nothing more pitiful, more sordid than gold, and that
those only are truly noble, who serve others for honor's sake, and
give no thought to reward."
"But, your grace, I have already the honor to have lent you all my
money. I have not even a groschen to buy food for myself and horse
on our journey."
"As for your money, sir, it is, under all circumstances, much safer
with me than with you. You would surely spend it foolishly, while I
will keep it together. Besides this, there is no other way to make
servants faithful and submissive but to bind them to you by the
miserable bond of selfishness. You would have left me a hundred
times, if you had not been tied down by your own pitiful interests.
You know well that if you leave me without my permission, the law
allows me to punish you, by giving the money I owe you to the poor.
But enough of foolish talking! Make ready for the journey; in half
an hour you must leave Berlin behind you. I will give you a few
thalers to buy food. Now, hasten! Remember, if you remain away
longer than eight days, I will give you only a third of the money I
am keeping for you."
This terrible threat had its effect upon poor John.
In eight days Pollnitz sought the princess, and with a triumphant
glance, slipped a letter into her hand, which read thus:
"I thank you, princess, that you have remembered me, and given me an
opportunity to aid the unhappy. You are right. God made man to be
free. I am no jailer, and my officers are not constables. They have,
indeed, the duty to conduct the unhappy man who has been for three
days the guest of my house, farther on toward the fortress, but his
feet and his hands shall be free, and if he takes a lesson from the
bird in velocity, and from the wild horse in speed, his present
escape will cost him less than his flight from Glatz. My officers
cannot be always on the watch, and God's world is large; it is
impossible to guard every point. My soldiers accompany him to the
brook Coslin. I commend the officer who will be discharged for
neglect of duty to your highness. FERDINAND."
"He will have my help and my eternal gratitude," whispered Amelia;
she then pressed the letter of the duke passionately to her lips.
"Oh, my God! I feel to-day what I have never before thought
possible, that one can be happy without happiness. If fate will be
merciful, and not thwart the noble purpose of Duke Ferdinand, from
this time onward I will never murmur--never complain. I will demand
nothing of the future; never more to see him, never more to hear
from him, only that he may be free and happy."
In the joy of her heart she not only fulfilled her promise to give
the messenger a gold piece for every hour of his journey, but she
added a costly diamond pin for Pollnitz, which the experienced
baron, even while receiving it from the trembling hand of the
princess, valued at fifty louis d'or.
The baron returned with a well-filled purse and a diamond pin to his
dwelling, and with imposing solemnity he called John into his
"John," said he, "I am content with you. You have promptly fulfilled
my commands. You returned the seventh day, and have earned the extra
thalers. As for your money, how much do I owe you?"
"Fifty-three thalers, four groschen, and five pennies."
"And the half of this is--"
"Twenty-seven thalers, fourteen groschen, two and a half pennies,"
said John, with a loudly beating heart and an expectant smile. He
saw that the purse was well filled, and that his master was taking
out the gold pieces.
"I will give you, including your extra guldens, twenty-eight
thalers, fourteen groschen, two and a half pennies." said Pollnitz.
laying some gold pieces on the table. "Here are six louis d'or, or
thirty-six thalers in gold to reckon up; the fractions you claim are
beneath my dignity. Take them, John, they are yours."
John uttered a cry of rapture, and sprang forward with outstretched
hands to seize his gold. He had succeeded in gathering up three
louis d'or, when the powerful hand of the baron seized him and held
"John," said he, "I read in your wild, disordered countenance that
you are a spendthrift, and this gold, which you have earned
honestly, will soon be wasted in boundless follies. It is my duty,
as your conscientious master and friend, to prevent this. I cannot
allow you to take all of this money--only one-half; only three louis
d'or. I will put the other three with the sum which I still hold,
and take care of it for you."
With an appearance of firm principle and piety, he grasped the three
louis d'or upon which the sighing John fixed his tearful eyes.
"And now, what is the amount," said Pollnitz, gravely, "which you
have placed in my hands for safe-keeping?"
"Thirty-two thalers, fourteen groschen, and five pennies," said
John; "and then the fractions from the three louis d'ors makes a
thaler and eight groschen."
"Pitiful miser! You dare to reckon fractions against your master,
who, in his magnanimity, has just presented, you with gold! This is
a meanness which merits exemplary punishment."
TRENCK ON HIS WAY TO PRISON.
Before the palace of the Duke of Wurtemberg, in Coslin, stood the
light, open carriage in which the duke was accustomed to make
excursions, when inclined to carry the reins himself, and enjoy
freedom and the pure, fresh air, without etiquette and ceremony.
To-day, however, the carriage was not intended for an ordinary
excursion, but to transport a prisoner. This prisoner was no other
than the unhappy Frederick Trenck, whom the cowardly republic of
Dantzic, terrified at the menaces of the king, had delivered up to
the Prussian police.
The intelligence of his unhappy fate flew like a herald before him.
He was guarded by twelve hussars, and the sad procession was
received everywhere throughout the journey with kindly sympathy. All
exerted themselves to give undoubted proofs of pity and
consideration. Even the officers in command, who sat by him in the
carriage, and who were changed at every station, treated him as a
loved comrade in arms, and not as a state prisoner.
But while all sighed and trembled for him, Trenck alone was gay; his
countenance alone was calm and courageous. Not one moment, during
the three days he passed in the palace of the duke, was his youthful
and handsome face clouded by a single shadow. Not one moment did
that happy, cheerful manner, by which he won all hearts, desert him.
At the table, he was the brightest and wittiest; his amusing
narratives, anecdotes, and droll ideas made not only the duke, but
the duchess and her maids, laugh merrily. In the afternoons, in the
saloon of the duchess, he astonished and enraptured the whole court
circle by improvising upon any given theme, and by the tasteful and
artistic manner in which he sang the national ballads he had learned
on his journeys through Italy, Germany, and Russia. At other times,
he conversed with the duke upon philosophy and state policy; and he
was amazed at the varied information and wisdom of this young man,
who seemed an experienced soldier and an adroit diplomat, a profound
statesman, and a learned historian. By his dazzling talents, he not
only interested but enchained his listeners.
The duke felt sadly that it was not possible to retain the prisoner
longer in Coslin. Three days of rest was the utmost that could be
granted Trenck, without exciting suspicion. He sighed, as he told
Trenck that his duty required of him to send him further on his dark
Trenck received this announcement with perfect composure, with calm
self-possession. He took leave of the duke and duchess, and thanked
them gayly for their gracious reception.
"I hope that my imprisonment will be of short duration, and then
your highness will, I trust, allow me to return to you, and offer
the thanks of a free man."
"May we soon meet again!" said the duke, and he looked searchingly
upon Trenck, as if he wished to read his innermost thoughts. "As
soon as you are free, come to me. I will not forsake you, no matter
under what circumstances you obtain your freedom."
Had Trenck observed the last emphatic words of the duke, and did he
understand their meaning? The duke did not know. No wink of the
eyelid, not the slightest sign, gave evidence that Trenck had
noticed their significance. He bowed smilingly, left the room with a
firm step, and entered the carriage.
The duke called back the ordnance officer who was to conduct him to
the next station.
"You have not forgotten my command?" said he.
"No, your highness, I have not forgotten; and obedience is a joyful
duty, which I will perform punctually."
"You will repeat this command, in my name, to the officer at the
next station, and commission him to have it repeated at every
station where my regiments are quartered. Every one shall give
Trenck an opportunity to escape, but silently; no word must be
spoken to him on the subject. It must depend upon him to make use of
the most favorable moment. My intentions toward him must be
understood by him without explanations. He who is so unfortunate as
to allow the prisoner to escape, can only be blamed for carelessness
in duty. Upon me alone will rest the responsibility to the King of
Prussia. You shall proceed but five or six miles each day; at this
rate of travel it will take four days to reach the last barracks of
my soldiers, and almost the entire journey lies through dark, thick
woods, and solitary highways. Now go, and may God be with you!"
The duke stepped to the window to see Trenck depart, and to give him
a last greeting.
"Well, if he is not at liberty in the next few days, it will surely
not be my fault," murmured Duke Ferdinand, "and Princess Amelia
cannot reproach me."
As Trenck drove from the gate, Duke Ferdinand turned thoughtfully
away. He was, against his will, oppressed by sad presentiments. For
Trenck, this journey over the highways in the light, open carriage,
was actual enjoyment. He inhaled joyfully the pure, warm, summer
air--his eyes rested with rapture upon the waving corn-fields, and
the blooming, fragrant meadows through which they passed. With gay
shouts and songs he seemed to rival the lark as she winged her way
into the clouds above him. He was innocent, careless, and happy as a
child. The world of Nature had been shut out from him in the dark,
close carriage which had brought him to Coslin; she greeted him now
with glad smiles and gay adorning. It seemed as if she were
decorated for him with her most odorous blossoms and most glorious
sunshine--as if she sent her softest breeze to kiss his cheek and
whisper love--greetings in his ear. With upturned, dreamy glance, he
followed the graceful movements of the pure, white clouds, and the
rapid flight of the birds. Trenck was so happy in even this
appearance of freedom, that he mistook it for liberty.
The carriage rolled slowly over the sandy highways, and now entered
a wood. The sweet odor of the fir-trees drew from Trenck a cry of
rapture. He had felt the heat of the sun to be oppressive, and he
now laid his head back under the shadow of the thick trees with a
feeling of gladness.
"It will take us some hours to get through this forest," said the
ordnance officer, "It is one of the thickest woods in this region,
and the terror of the police. The escaped prisoner who succeeds in
concealing himself here, may defy discovery. It is impossible to
pursue him in these dark, tangled woods, and a few hours conduct him
to the sea-shore, where there are ever small fishing-boats ready to
receive the fugitive and place him safely upon some passing ship.
But excuse me, sir! the sun has been blazing down so hotly upon my
head that I feel thoroughly wearied, and will follow the example of
my coachman. Look! he is fast asleep, and the horses are moving on
of their own good-will. Good-night, Baron Trenck."
He closed his eyes, and in a short time his loud snores and the
nodding of his head from side to side gave assurance that he, also,
was locked in slumber.
Profound stillness reigned around. Trenck gave himself wholly to the
enjoyment of the moment. The peaceful stillness of the forest,
interrupted only at intervals by the snorting of the horses, the
sleepy chatter of the birds among the dark green branches, and the
soft rustling and whispering of the trees, filled him with delight.
"It is clear," he said to himself, "that this arrest in Dantzic was
only a manoeuvre to terrify me. I rejected the proposal of the
Prussian ambassador in Vienna, to return to Berlin and enter again
the Prussian service, so the king wishes to punish and frighten me.
This is a jest--a comedy!--which the king is carrying on at my
expense. If I were really regarded as a deserter, as a prisoner for
the crime of high treason, no officer would dare to guard me so
carelessly. In the beginning, I was harshly treated, in order to
alarm and deceive me, and truly those twelve silent hussars,
continually surrounding the closed carriage, had rather a melancholy
aspect, and I confess I was imposed upon. But the mask has fallen,
and I see behind the smiling, good-humored face of the king. He
loved me truly once, and was as kind as a father. The old love has
awakened and spoken in my favor. Frederick wishes to have me again
in Berlin--that is all; and he knows well that I can be of service
to him. He who has his spies everywhere, knows that no one else can
give him such definite information as to the intentions and plans of
Russia as I can--that no one knows so certainly what the
preparations for war, now going on throughout the whole of Russia,
signify. Yes, yes: so it is! Frederick will have me again in his
service; he knows of my intimacy with the all-powerful wife of
Bestuchef; that I am in constant correspondence with her, and in
this way informed of all the plans of the Russian government.
[Footnote: Frederick Trenck's "Memoirs."] Possibly, the king intends
to send me as a secret ambassador to St. Petersburg! That would,
indeed, open a career to me, and bring me exalted honor, and perhaps
make that event possible which has heretofore only floated before my
dazzled sight like a dream-picture. Oh, Amelia! noblest, most
constant of women! could the dreams of our youth be realized? If
fate, softened by your tears and your heroic courage, would at last
unite you with him you have so fondly and so truly loved! Misled by
youth, presumption, and levity, I have sometimes trifled with my
most holy remembrances, sometimes seemed unfaithful; but my love to
you has never failed; I have worn it as a talisman about my heart. I
have ever worshipped you, I have ever hoped in you, and I will
believe in you always, if I doubt and despair of all others. Oh,
Amelia! protecting angel of my life! perhaps I may now return to
you. I shall see you again, look once more into your beauteous eyes,
kneel humbly before you, and receive absolution for my sins. They
were but sins of the flesh, my soul had no part in them. I will
return to you, and live free, honored, and happy by your side. I
know this by the gracious reception of the duke; I know it by the
careless manner in which I am guarded. Before the officer went to
sleep he told me how securely a fugitive could hide himself in these
woods. I, however, have no necessity to hide myself; no misfortune
hovers over me, honor and gladness beckon me on. I will not be so
foolish as to fly; life opens to me new and flowery paths, greets me
with laughing hopes." [Footnote: "Frederick Trenck's Memoirs."]
Wholly occupied with these thoughts, Trenck leaned back in the
carriage and gave himself up to bright dreams of the future. Slowly
the horses moved through the deep, white sand, which made the roll
of the wheels noiseless, and effaced instantaneously the footprints
of men. The officer still slept, the coachman had dropped the reins,
and nodded here and there as if intoxicated. The wood was drear and
empty; no human dwelling, no human face was seen. Had Trenck wished
to escape, one spring from the low, open carriage; a hundred hasty
steps would have brought him to a thicket where discovery was
impossible; the carriage would have rolled on quietly, and when the
sleepers aroused themselves, they would have had no idea of the
direction Trenck had taken. The loose and rolling sand would not
have retained his footprints, and the whispering trees would not
have betrayed him.
Trenck would not fly; he was full of romance, faith, and hope; his
sanguine temper painted his future in enchanting colors. No, he
would not flee, he had faith in his star. Life's earnest tragedy had
yet for him a smiling face, and life's bitter truths seemed alluring
visions. No, the king only wished to try him; he wished to see if he
could frighten him into an effort to escape; he gave him the
opportunity for flight, but if he made use of it, he would be lost
forever in the eyes of Frederick, and his prospects utterly
destroyed. If he bravely suffered the chance of escape to pass by,
and arrived in Berlin, to all appearance a prisoner, the king would
have the agreeable task of undeceiving him, and Trenck would have
shown conclusively that he had faith in the king's magnanimity, and
gave himself up to him without fear. He would have proved also that
his conscience was clear, and that, without flattering, he could
yield himself to the judgment of the king. No, Trenck would not fly.
In Berlin, liberty, love, and Amelia awaited him; he would lose all
this by flight; it would all remain his if he did not allow himself
to be enticed by the flattering goddess, opportunity, who now
beckoned and nodded smilingly from behind every tree and every
thicket. Trenck withstood these enticements during three long days;
with careless indifference he passed slowly on through this lonely
region; in his arrogant blindness and self-confidence he did not
observe the careworn and anxious looks of the officers who conducted
him; he did not hear or understand the low, hesitating insinuations
they dared to speak.
"This is your last resting-point," said the officer who had
conducted him from the last station. "You will remain here this
afternoon, and early to-morrow morning the cavalry officer Von
Halber will conduct you to Berlin, where the last barracks of our
regiment are to be found; from that point the infantry garrison will
take charge of your further transportation."
"I shall not make their duties difficult," said Trenck, gayly. "You
see I am a good-natured prisoner; no Argus eyes are necessary, as I
have no intention to flee."
The officer gazed into his calm, smiling face with amazement, and
then stepped out with the officer Von Halber, into whose house they
had now entered, to make known his doubts and apprehensions.
"Perhaps the opportunities which have been offered him have not been
sufficiently manifest," said Von Halber. "Perhaps he has not
regarded them as safe, and he fears a failure. In that he is right;
a vain attempt at flight would be much more prejudicial to him than
to yield himself without opposition. Well, I will see that he has
now a sure chance to escape, and you may believe he will be cunning
enough to take advantage of it. You may say this much to his
highness the duke."
"But do not forget that the duke commanded us not to betray his
intention to prepare these opportunities by a single word. This
course would compromise the duke and all of us."
"I understand perfectly," said Von Halber; "I will speak eloquently
by deeds, and not with words."
True to this intention, Von Halber, after having partaken of a gay
dinner with Trenck and several officers, left his house, accompanied
by all his servants.
"The horses must be exercised," said he; and, as he was unmarried,
no one remained in the house but Trenck.
"You will be my house-guard for several hours," said the officer to
Trenck, who was standing at the door as he drove off. "I hope no one
will come to disturb your solitude. My officers all accompany me,
and I have no acquaintance in this little village. You will be
entirely alone, and if, on my return, I find that you have
disappeared in mist and fog, I shall believe that ennui has
extinguished you--reduced you to a bodiless nothing."
"Well, I think he must have understood that," said Von Halber, as he
dashed down the street, followed by his staff. "He must be blind and
deaf if he does not flee from the fate before him."
Trenck, alas, had not understood. He believed in no danger, and did
not, therefore, see the necessity for flight. He found this quiet,
lonely house inexpressibly wearisome. He wandered through the rooms,
seeking some object of interest, or some book which would enable him
to pass the tedious hours. The cavalry officer was a gallant and
experienced soldier, but he was no scholar, and had nothing to do
with books. Trenck's search was in vain. Discontented and restless,
he wandered about, and at last entered the little court which led to
the stable. A welcome sound fell on his ears, and made his heart
beat joyfully; with rapid steps he entered the stable. Two splendid
horses stood in the stalls, snorting and stamping impatiently; they
were evidently riding-horses, for near them hung saddles and
bridles. Their nostrils dilated proudly as they threw their heads
back to breathe the fresh air which rushed in at the open door. It
appeared to Trenck that their flashing eyes were pleading to him for
liberty and action.
"Poor beasts," said he, stepping forward, and patting and caressing
them--"poor beasts, you also pine for liberty, and hope for my
assistance; but I cannot, I dare not aid you. Like you, I also am a
prisoner, and like you also, a prisoner to my will. If you would use
your strength, one movement of your powerful muscles would tear your
bonds asunder, and your feet would bear you swiftly like wings
through the air. If I would use the present opportunity, which
beckons and smiles upon me, it would be only necessary to spring
upon your back and dash off into God's fair and lovely world. We
would reach our goal, we would be free, but we would both be lost;
we would be recaptured, and would bitterly repent our short dream of
self-acquired freedom. It is better for us both that we remain as we
are; bound, not with chains laid upon our bodies, but by wisdom and
So saying, he smoothed tenderly the glossy throat of the gallant
steed, whose joyful neigh filled his heart with an inexplicable
"I must leave you," murmured he, shudderingly; "your lusty neighing
intoxicates my senses, and reminds me of green fields and fragrant
meadows; of the broad highways, and the glad feeling of liberty
which one enjoys when flying through the world on the back of a
gallant steed. No! No! I dare no longer look upon you; all my wisdom
and discretion might melt away, and I might be allured to seek for
myself that freedom which I must receive alone at the hands of the
king, in Berlin."
With hasty steps Trenck left the stable and returned to the house,
where he stretched himself upon the sofa, and gave himself up to
dreamland. It was twilight when Halber returned from his long ride.
"All is quiet and peaceful," said he, as he entered the house. "The
bird has flown, this time; he found the opportunity favorable."
With a contented smile, he entered his room, but his expression
changed suddenly, and his trembling lips muttered a soldier's curse.
There lay Trenck in peaceful slumber; his handsome, youthful face
was bright and free from care, and those must be sweet dreams which
floated around him, for he smiled in his sleep.
"Poor fellow!" said Von Halber, shaking his head; "he must be mad,
or struck with blindness, and cannot see the yawning abyss at his
feet." He awakened Trenck, and asked him how he had amused himself,
during the long hours of solitude.
"I looked through all your house, and then entered the stables and
gladdened my heart by the sight of your beautiful horses."
"Thunder and lightning! You have then seen my horses," cried Halber,
thoroughly provoked. "Did no wish arise in your heart to mount one
and seek your liberty?"
Frederick Trenck smiled. "The wish, indeed, arose in my heart, but I
suppressed it manfully. Do you not see, dear Halber, that it would
be unthankful and unknightly to reward in this cowardly and
contemptible way the magnanimous confidence you have shown me."
"Truly, you are an honorable gentleman," cried Halber, greatly
touched; "I had not thought of that. It would not have been well to
flee from my house."
"To-morrow he will fly," thought the good-natured soldier, "when
once more alone--to-morrow, and the opportunity shall not be
Von Halber left his house early in the morning to conduct his
prisoner to Berlin. No one accompanied them; no one but the
coachman, who sat upon the box and never looked behind him.
Their path led through a thick wood. Von Halber entertained the
prisoner as the lieutenant had done who conducted Trenck the day he
left Coslin. He called his attention to the denseness of the forest,
and spoke of the many fugitives who had concealed themselves there
till pursuit was abandoned. He then invited Trenck to get down and
walk with him, near the carriage.
As Trenck accepted the invitation, and strolled along by his side in
careless indifference, Von Halber suddenly observed that the ground
was covered with mushrooms.
"Let us gather a few," said he; "the young wife of one of my friends
understands how to make a glorious dish of them, and if I take her a
large collection, she will consider it a kind attention. Let us take
our hats and handkerchiefs, and fill them. You will take the right
path into the wood, and I the left. In one hour we will meet here
Without waiting for an answer, the good Halber turned to the left in
the wood, and was lost in the thicket. In an hour he returned to the
carriage, and found Trenck smilingly awaiting him.
He turned pale, and with an expression of exasperation, he
"You have not then lost yourself in the woods?"
"I have not lost myself," said Trenck, quietly; "and I have gathered
a quantity of beautiful mushrooms."
Trenck handed him his handkerchief, filled with small, round
mushrooms. Halber threw them with a sort of despair into the
carriage, and then, without saying one word, he mounted and nodded
to Trenck to follow him.
"And now let us be off," said he, shortly. "Coachman, drive on!"
He leaned back in the carriage, and with frowning brow he gazed up
into the heavens.
Slowly the carriage rolled through the sand, and it seemed as if the
panting, creeping horses shrank back from reaching their goal, the
boundary-line of the Wurtembergian dragoons. Trenck had followed his
companion's example, and leaned back in the carriage. Halber was
gloomy and filled with dark forebodings. Trenck was gay and
unembarrassed; not the slightest trace of care or mistrust could be
read in his features.
They moved onward silently. The air was fresh and pure, the heavens
clear; but a dark cloud was round about the path of this dazzled,
blinded young officer. The birds sang of it on the green boughs, hut
Trenck would not understand them. They sang of liberty and gladness;
they called to him to follow their example, and fly far from the
haunts of men! The dark wood echoed Fly! fly! in powerful organ-
tones, but Trenck took them for the holy hymns of God's peaceful,
sleeping world. He heard not the trees, as with warning voices they
bowed down and murmured, Flee! flee! Come under our shadow, we will
conceal you till the danger be overpast' Flee! flee! Misfortune,
like a cruel vulture, is floating over you--already her fangs are
extended to grasp you. The desert winds, in wild haste rushed by and
covering this poor child of sorrow with clouds of dust, whispered in
his ear, Fly! fly!--follow my example and rush madly backward!
Misfortune advances to meet you, and a river of tears flows down the
path you are blindly following. Turn your head and flee, before this
broad, deep stream overtakes you. The creaking wheels seemed to sob
out. Fly! fly! we are rolling you onward to a dark and eternal
prison! Do you not hear the clashing of chains? Do you not see the
open grave at your feet? These are your chains!--that is your grave,
already prepared for the living, glowing heart! Fly! then, fly! You
are yet free to choose. The clouds which swayed on over the heavens,
traced in purple and gold the warning words, Fly! fly! or you look
upon us for the last time! Upon the anxious face of Von Halber was
also to be seen, Fly now, it is high time! I see the end of the
wood!--I see the first houses of Boslin. Fly! then, fly!--it is high
time! Alas, Trenck's eyes were blinded, and his ears were filled
"Those whom demons will destroy, they first strike with blindness."
Trenck's evil genius had blinded his eyes--his destruction was sure.
There remained no hope of escape. The carriage had reached the end
of the wood and rolled now over the chausse to Boslin.
But what means this great crowd before the stately house which is
decorated with the Prussian arms? What means this troop of soldiers
who with stern, frowning brows, surround the dark coach with the
"We are in Boslin," said Von Halber, pointing toward the group of
soldiers. "That is the post-house, and, as you see, we are
For the first time Trenck was pale, and horror was written in his
face. "I am lost!" stammered he, completely overcome, and sinking
back into the carriage he cast a wild, despairing glance around him,
and seized the arm of Halber with a powerful hand.
"Be merciful, sir! oh, be merciful! Let us move more slowly. Turn
back, oh, turn back! just to the entrance of the wood--only to the
entrance of the street!"
"You see that is impossible," said Von Halber. sadly. "We are
recognized; if we turn back now, they will welcome us with bullets."
"It were far better for me to die," murmured Trenck, "than to enter
that dark prison--that open grave!"
"Alas! you would not fly--you would not understand me. I gave you
many opportunities, but you would not avail yourself of them."
"I was mad, mad!" cried Trenck. "I had confidence in myself--I had
faith in my good star--but the curse of my evil genius has overtaken
me. Oh, my God! I am lost, lost! All my hopes were deceptive--the
king is my irreconcilable enemy, and he will revenge my past life on
my future! I have this knowledge too late. Oh, Halber! go slowly,
slowly; I must give you my last testament. Mark well what I say--
these are the last words of a man who is more to be pitied than the
dying. It is a small service which I ask of you, but my existence
depends upon it: Go quickly to the Duke of Wurtemberg and say this
to him: 'Frederick von Trenck sends Duke Ferdinand his last
greeting! He is a prisoner, and in death's extremity. Will the duke
take pity on him, and convey this news to her whom he knows to be
Trenck's friend? Tell her Trenck is a prisoner, and hopes only in
her!' Will you swear to me to do this?"
"I swear it," said Von Halber, deeply moved.
The carriage stopped. Von Halber sprang down and greeted the officer
who was to take charge of Trenck. The soldiers placed themselves on
both sides of the coach, and the door was opened. Trenck cast a last
despairing, imploring glance to heaven, then, with a firm step,
approached the open coach. In the act of entering, he turned once
more to the officer Von Halber, whose friendly eyes were darkened
"You will not forget, sir!"
These simply, sadly-spoken words, breaking the solemn, imposing
silence, made an impression upon the hearts of even the stern
soldiers around them.
"I will not forget," said Von Halber, solemnly.
Trenck bowed and entered the coach. The officer followed him and
closed the door. Slowly, like a funeral procession, the coach moved
on. Von Halber gazed after him sadly.
"He is right, he is more to be pitied than the dying. I will hasten
to fulfil his last testament."
Eight days later, the Princess Amelia received through the hands of
Pollnitz a letter from Duke Ferdinand. As she read it, she uttered a
cry of anguish, and sank insensible upon the floor. The duke's
letter contained these words:
"All my efforts were in vain; he would not fly, would not believe in
his danger. In the casemates of Magdeburg sits a poor prisoner,
whose last words directed to me were these: 'Say to her whom you
know that I am a prisoner, and hope only in her.'"
PRINCE HENRY AND HIS WIFE.
Prince Henry walked restlessly backward and forward in his study;
his brow was stern, and a strange fire flamed in his eye. He felt
greatly agitated and oppressed, and scarcely knew the cause himself.
Nothing had happened to disturb his equanimity and give occasion for
his wayward mood. The outside world wore its accustomed gay and
festal aspect. To-day, as indeed almost every day since the prince
resided at Rheinsberg, preparations were being made for a gay
entertainment. A country fete was to be given in the woods near the
palace, and all the guests were to appear as shepherds and
Prince Henry had withdrawn to his own room to assume the tasteful
costume which had been prepared for him; but he seemed to have
entirely forgotten his purpose. The tailor and the friseur awaited
him in vain in his dressing-room; he forgot their existence. He
paced his room with rapid steps, and his tightly-compressed lips
opened from time to time to utter a few broken, disconnected words.
Of what was the prince thinking? He did not know, or he would not
confess it to himself. Perhaps he dared not look down deep into his
heart and comprehend the new feelings and new wishes which were
At times he stood still, and looked with a wild, rapt expression
into the heavens, as if they alone could answer the mysterious
questions his soul was whispering to him; then passed on with his
hand pressed on his brow to control or restrain the thoughts which
agitated him. He did not hear a light tap upon the door, he did not
see it open, and his most intimate and dearest friend, Count
Kalkreuth enter, dressed in the full costume of a shepherd.
Count Kalkreuth stood still, and did nothing to call the attention
of the prince to his presence. He remained at the door; his face was
also dark and troubled, and the glance which he fixed upon Prince
Henry was almost one of hatred.
The prince turned, and the count's expression changed instantly; he
stepped gayly forward and said:
"Your royal highness sees my astonishment at finding you lost in
such deep thought, and your toilet not even commenced. I stand like
Lot's blessed wife, turned to stone upon your threshold! Have you
forgotten, my prince, that you commanded us all to be ready
punctually at four o'clock? The castle clock is at this moment
striking four. The ladies and gentlemen will now assemble in the
music-saloon, as you directed, and you, prince, are not yet in
"It is true," said Prince Henry, somewhat embarrassed, "I had
forgotten; but I will hasten to make good my fault."
He stepped slowly, and with head bowed down, toward his dressing-
room; at the door, he stood and looked back at the count.
"You are already in costume, my friend," said he, noticing for the
first time the fantastic dress of the count. "Truly, this style
becomes you marvellously; your bright-colored satin jacket shows
your fine proportions as advantageously as your captain's uniform.
But what means this scarf which you wear upon your shoulder?"
"These are the colors of my shepherdess," said the count, with a
"Who is your shepherdess?"
"Your highness asks that, when you yourself selected her!" said
"Yes it is true; I forgot," said the prince. "The princess, my wife,
is your shepherdess. Well, I sincerely hope you may find her
highness more gay and gracious than she was to me this morning, and
that you may see the rare beauty of this fair rose, of which I only
feel the thorns!"
While the prince was speaking, the count became deathly pale, and
looked at him with painful distrust.
"It is true," he replied, "the princess is cold and reserved toward
her husband. Without doubt, this is the result of a determination to
meet your wishes fully, and to remain clearly within the boundary
which your highness at the time of your marriage, more than a year
ago, plainly marked out for her. The princess knows, perhaps too
well, that her husband is wholly indifferent to her beauty and her
expression, and therefore feels herself at liberty to yield to each
changeful mood without ceremony in your presence."
"You are right," said Prince Henry, sadly, "she is wholly
indifferent to me, and I have told her so. We will speak no more of
it. What, indeed, are the moods of the princess to me? I will dress,
go to the music-saloon, and ask for forgiveness in my name for my
delay. I will soon be ready; I will seek the princess in her
apartments, and we will join you in a few moments."
The prince bowed and left the room. Kalkreuth gazed after him
thoughtfully and anxious.
"His manner is unaccountably strange to-day," whispered he. "Has he,
perhaps, any suspicion; and these apparently artless questions and
remarks this distraction and forgetfulness--But no, no! it is
impossible, he can know nothing--no one has betrayed me. It is the
anguish of my conscience which makes me fearful; this suffering I
must bear, it is the penalty I pay for my great happiness." The
count sighed deeply and withdrew.
The prince completed his toilet, and sought the princess in her
apartment, in the other wing of the castle. With hasty steps he
passed through the corridors; his countenance was anxious and
expectant, his eyes were glowing and impatient, haste marked every
movement; he held in his hand a costly bouquet of white camelias.
When he reached the anteroom of the princess he became pallid, and
leaned for a moment, trembling and gasping for breath, against the
wall; he soon, however, by a strong effort, controlled himself,
entered, and commanded the servant to announce him.
The Princess Wilhelmina received her husband with a stiff,
ceremonious courtesy, which, in its courtly etiquette, did not
correspond with the costume she had assumed. The proud and stately
princess was transformed into an enchanting, lovely shepherdess. It
was, indeed, difficult to decide if the princess were more beautiful
in her splendid court toilet, adorned with diamonds, and wearing on
her high, clear brow a sparkling diadem, proud and conscious of her
beauty and her triumphs; or now, in this artistic costume, in which
she was less imposing, but more enchanting and more gracious.
Wilhelmina wore an under-skirt of white satin, a red tunic, gayly
embroidered and festooned with white roses; a white satin bodice,
embroidered with silver, defined her full but pliant form, and
displayed her luxurious bust in its rare proportions; a bouquet of
red roses was fastened upon each shoulder, and held the silvery veil
which half concealed the lovely throat and bosom. The long, black,
unpowdered hair fell in graceful ringlets about her fair neck, and
formed a dark frame for the beautiful face, glowing with health,
youth, and intellect. In her hair she wore a wreath of red and white
roses, and a bouquet of the same in her bosom.
She was, indeed, dazzling in her beauty, and was, perhaps, conscious
of her power; her eyes sparkled, and a ravishing smile played upon
her lips as she looked up at the prince, who stood dumb and
embarrassed before her, and could find no words to express his
"If it is agreeable to your highness, let us join your company,"
said the princess, at last, anxious to put an end to this interview.
She extended her hand coolly to her husband; he grasped it, and held
it fast, but still stood silently looking upon her.
"Madame," said he, at last, in low and hesitating tones--"madame, I
have a request to make of you."
"Command me, my husband," said she, coldly; "what shall I do?"
"I do not wish to command, but to entreat," said the prince.
"Well, then, Prince Henry, speak your request."
The prince gave the bouquet of white camelias to his wife, and said,
in a faltering, pleading voice, "I beg you to accept this bouquet
from me, and to wear it to-day in your bosom, although it is not
your shepherd who offers it!"
"No, not my shepherd, but my husband," said the princess, removing
angrily the bouquet of roses from her bodice. "I must, of course,
wear the flowers he gives me."
Without giving one glance at the flowers, she fastened them in her
"If you will not look upon them for my sake," said the prince,
earnestly, "I pray you, give them one glance for the flowers' sake.
You will at least feel assured that no other shepherdess is adorned
with such a bouquet."
"Yes," said Wilhelmina, "these are not white roses; indeed, they
seem to be artificial flowers; their leaves are hard and thick like
alabaster, and dazzlingly white like snow. What flowers are these,
"They are camelias. I recently heard you speak of these rare
flowers, which had just been imported to Europe. I hoped to please
you by placing them in your hands."
"Certainly; but I did not know that these new exotics were blooming
in our land."
"And they are not," said Prince Henry. "This bouquet comes from
Schwetzingen; there, only, in Germany, in the celebrated green-
houses of the Margravine of Baden can they be seen."
"How, then, did you get them?" said the princess, astonished.
"I sent a courier to Schwetzingen; the blossoms were wrapped in
moist, green moss, and are so well preserved, that they look as
fresh as when they were gathered six days since."
"And you sent for them for me?" said Wilhelmina.
"Did you not express a wish to see them?" replied the prince; and
his glance rested upon her with such ardent passion that, blushing,
she cast her eyes to the ground, and stood still and ashamed before
"And you have not one little word of thanks?" said the prince, after
a long pause. "Will you not fasten these pure flowers on your bosom,
and allow them to die a happy death there? Alas! you are hard and
cruel with me, princess; it seems to me that your husband dare claim
from you more of kindliness and friendship."
"My husband!" cried she, in a mocking tone. She turned her eyes,
searchingly, in every direction around the room. "It appears to me
that we are alone and wholly unobserved, and that it is here
unnecessary for us to play this comedy and call ourselves by those
names which we adopted to deceive the world, and which you taught me
to regard as empty titles. It is, indeed, possible that a wife
should be more friendly and affectionate to her husband; but I do
not believe that a lady dare give more encouragement to a cavalier
than I manifest to your royal highness."
"You are more friendly to all the world than to me, Wilhelmina,"
said the prince, angrily. "You have a kindly word, a magic glance, a
gracious reception for all others who approach you. To me alone are
you cold and stern; your countenance darkens as soon as I draw near;
the smile vanishes from your lips; your brow is clouded and your
eyes are fixed upon me with almost an expression of contempt. I see,
madame, that you hate me! Well, then, hate me; but I do not deserve
your contempt, and I will not endure it! It is enough that you
martyr me to death with your cutting coldness, your crushing
indifference. The world, at least, should not know that you hate me,
and I will not be publicly humiliated by you. What did I do this
morning, for example? Why were you so cold and scornful? Wherefore
did you check your gay laugh as I entered the room? wherefore did
you refuse me the little flower you held in your hand, and then
throw it carelessly upon the floor?"
The princess looked at him with flashing eyes.
"You ask many questions, sir, and on many points," said she,
sharply. "I do not think it necessary to reply to them. Let us join
our company." She bowed proudly and advanced, but the prince held
"Do not go," said he, entreatingly, "do not go. Say first that you
pardon me, that you are no longer angry. Oh, Wilhelmina, you do not
know what I suffer; you can never know the anguish which tortures my
"I know it well; on the day of our marriage your highness explained
all. It was not necessary to return to this bitter subject. I have
not forgotten one word spoken on that festive occasion."
"What do you mean, Wilhelmina? How could I, on our wedding-day, have
made known to you the tortures which I now suffer, from which I was
then wholly free, and in whose possibility I did not believe?"
"It is possible that your sufferings have become more intolerable,"
said the princess, coldly; "but you confided them to me fully and
frankly at that time. It was, indeed, the only time since our
marriage we had any thing to confide. Our only secret is that we do
not love and never can love each other; that only in the eyes of the
world are we married. There is no union of hearts."
"Oh, princess, your words are death!" And completely overcome, he
sank upon a chair.
Wilhelmina looked at him coldly, without one trace of emotion.
"Death?" said she, "why should I slay you? We murder only those whom
we love or hate. I neither love nor hate you."
"You are only, then, entirely indifferent to me," asked the prince.
"I think, your highness, this is what you asked of me, on our
wedding-day. I have endeavored to meet your wishes, and thereby, at
least, to prove to you that I had the virtue of obedience. Oh, I can
never forget that hour," cried the princess. "I came a stranger,
alone, ill from home-sickness and anguish of heart, to Berlin. I was
betrothed according to the fate of princesses. I was not consulted!
I did not know--I had never seen the man to whom I must swear
eternal love and faith. This was also your sad fate, my prince. We
had never met. We saw each other for the first time as we stood
before God's altar, and exchanged our vows to the sound of merry
wedding-bells, and the roar of cannon. I am always thinking that the
bells ring and the cannon thunders at royal marriages, to drown the
timid, trembling yes, forced from pallid, unwilling lips, which
rings in the ears of God and men like a discord--like the snap of a
harp-string. The bells chimed melodiously. No man heard the yes at
which our poor hearts rebelled! We alone heard and understood! You
were noble, prince; you had been forced to swear a falsehood before
the altar; but in the evening, when we were alone in our apartment,
you told me the frank and honest truth. State policy united us; we
did not and could never love each other! You were amiable enough to
ask me to be your friend--your sister; and to give me an immediate
proof of a brother's confidence, you confessed to me that, with all
the ardor and ecstasy of your youthful heart, you had loved a woman
who betrayed you, and thus extinguished forever all power to love.
I, my prince, could not follow your frank example, and give a like
confidence. I had nothing to relate. I had not loved! I loved you
not! I was therefore grateful when you asked no love from me. You
only asked that, with calm indifference, we should remain side by
side, and greet each other, before the world, with the empty titles
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