FREDERICK THE GREAT AND HIS FAMILY
Part 5 out of 16
this miserable land, while the people hungered; that he spent every
year over a million of thalers. They declared that he had not less
than five millions now lying in the banks of Rotterdam, Venice, and
Marseilles; others said that he had funds to the amount of seven
millions. One of these calumniators might possibly approach the
king's table and whisper into the royal ear his wicked slanders; one
of these evil-doers might even have the audacity to make his
unrighteous complaints to the queen. This it was that caused Count
Bruhl to tremble; this it was that robbed him of sleep at night, of
peace by day, this fear of a possible disgrace.
He was well acquainted with the history of Count Lerma, minister to
King Philip IV. of Spain. Lerma was also the ruler of a king, and
reigned over Spain, as Bruhl over Saxony. All had succumbed to his
power and influence, even the royal family trembled when he frowned,
and felt themselves honored by his smile. What was it that caused
the ruin of this all-powerful, irreproachable favorite? A little
note which King Philip found between his napkin one day, upon which
was this address: "To Philip IV., once King of Spain, and Master of
both the Indies, but now in the service of Count Lerma!" This it was
that caused the count's ruin; Philip was enraged by this note, and
the powerful favorite fell into disgrace.
Count Bruhl knew this history, and was on his guard. He knew that
even the air which he breathed was poisoned by the malice of his
enemies; that those who paused in the streets to greet him
reverentially when he passed in his gilded carriage, cursed him in
their inmost hearts; that those friends who pressed his hand and
sung songs in his praise, would become his bitterest enemies so soon
as he ceased paying for their friendship with position, with
pensions, with honors, and with orders. He spent hundreds of
thousands yearly to gain friends and admirers, but still he was in
constant fear that some enemy would undermine him. This had indeed
once happened. During the time that the king's favor was shared
equally with Count Bruhl, Count Sulkovsky, and Count Hennicke,
whilst playing cards, a piece of gold was given to the king, upon
which was represented the crown of Poland, resting upon the
shoulders of three men, with the following inscription: "There are
three of us, two pages and one lackey!" The King of Poland was as
much enraged by this satirical piece of gold as was the King of
Spain by his satirical note. But Count Bruhl succeeded in turning
the king's anger upon the two other shoulder-bearers of his crown.
Counts Sulkovsky and Hennicke fell into disgrace, and were banished
from the court; Count Bruhl remained, and reigned as absolute master
over Poland and Saxony!
But reigning, he still trembled, and therefore he favored the
queen's fancy for the strictest etiquette; therefore, no one but
Count Bruhl was to eat at the royal table; he himself took their
napkins from their plates and handed them to the royal couple; no
one was to approach the sovereigns who was not introduced by the
prime minister, who was at once master of ceremonies, field-marshal,
and grand chamberlain, and received for each of these different
posts a truly royal salary. Etiquette and the fears of the powerful
favorite kept the royal pair almost prisoners.
But for to-day etiquette was to be done away with; the crowned heads
were to be gracious, so as to lend a new glory to their favorite's
house. To-day the count was fearless, for there was no danger of a
traitor being among his guests. His wife and himself had drawn up
the list of invitations. But still, as there might possibly be those
among them who hated the count, and would very gladly injure him, he
had ordered some of the best paid of his friends to watch all
suspicious characters, not to leave them alone for a moment, and not
to overlook a single word of theirs. Of course, it was understood
that the count and his wife must remain continually at the side of
the king and queen, that all who wished to speak to them must first
be introduced by the host or hostess.
The count was perfectly secure to-day, and therefore gay and happy.
He had been looking at the different arrangements for this feast,
and he saw with delight that they were such as to do honor to his
house. It was, to be a summer festival: the entire palace had been
turned into a greenhouse, that served only for an entrance to the
actual scene of festivities. This was the immense garden. In the
midst of the rarest and most beautiful groups of flowers, immense
tents were raised; they were of rich, heavy silk, and were festooned
at the sides with golden cords and tassels. Apart from these was a
smaller one, which outshone them all in magnificence. The roof of
this tent rested upon eight pillars of gold; it was composed of a
dark-red velvet, over which a slight gauze, worked with gold and
silver stars, was gracefully arranged. Upon the table below this
canopy, which rested upon a rich Turkish carpet, there was a heavy
service of gold, and the most exquisite Venetian glass; the immense
pyramid in the middle of the table was a master-work of Benevenuto
Cellini, for which the count had paid in Rome one hundred thousand
thalers. There were but seven seats, for no one was to eat at this
table but the royal pair, the prince-elector and his wife, the
Prince Xavier, and the Count and Countess Bruhl. This was a new
triumph that the count had prepared for himself; he wished his
guests to see the exclusive royal position he occupied. And no one
could remain in ignorance of this triumph, for from every part of
the garden the royal tent could be seen, being erected upon a slight
eminence. It was like a scene from fairyland. There were rushing
cascades, beautiful marble statues, arbors and bowers, in which were
birds of every color from every clime. Behind a group of trees was a
lofty structure of the purest marble, a shell, borne aloft by
gigantic Tritons and mermaids, in which there was room for fifty
musicians, who were to fill the air with sweet sounds, and never to
become so loud as to weary the ear or disturb conversation. If the
tents, the rushing cascades, the rare flowers, the many colored
birds, were a beautiful sight by daylight, how much more entrancing
it would be at night, when illuminated by thousands of brilliant
The count, having taken a last look at the arrangements and seen
that they were perfect, now retired to his rooms, and there, with
the aid of his twelve valets, he commenced his toilet. The countess
had already been in the hands of her Parisian coiffeur for some
The count wore a suit of blue velvet. The price of embroidery in
silver and pearls on his coat would have furnished hundreds of
wretched, starving families with bread. His diamond shoe-buckles
would almost have sufficed to pay the army, which had gone unpaid
for months. When his toilet was finished, he entered his study to
devote a few moments, at least, to his public duties, and to read
those letters which to-day's post had brought him from all parts of
the world, and which his secretary was accustomed to place in his
study at this hour. He took a letter, broke the seal hastily, and
skimming over it quickly, threw it aside and opened another, to read
anew the complaints, the prayers, the flatteries, the assurances of
love, of his correspondents. But none of them were calculated to
compel the minister's attention. He had long ago hardened his heart
against prayers and complaints; as for flattery, he well knew that
he had to pay for it with pensions, with position, with titles, with
orders, etc., etc. But it seemed as if the letters were not all of
the usual sort, for the expression of indifference which had rested
upon his countenance while reading the others, had vanished and
given place to one of a very different character. This letter was
from Flemming, the Saxon ambassador in Berlin, and contained
strange, wild rumors. The King of Prussia, it seemed, had left
Berlin the day before, with all the princes and his staff officers,
and no one knew exactly where he was going! Rumor said, though, that
he and his army were marching toward Saxony! After reading this,
Count Bruhl broke out into a loud laugh.
"Well," said he, "it must be granted that this little poet-king,
Frederick, has the art of telling the most delightful fairy-tales to
his subjects, and of investing every action of his with the greatest
importance. Ah, Margrave of Brandenburg! we will soon be in a
condition to take your usurped crown from your head. Parade as much
as you like--make the world believe in you and your absurd
manoeuvres--the day will soon come when she will but see in you a
poor knight with naught but his title of marquis." With a triumphant
smile he threw down the letter and grasped the next. "Another from
Flemming?" said he. "Why, truly, the good count is becoming fond of
writing. Ah," said he, after reading it carelessly, "more warnings!
He declares that the King of Prussia intends attacking Saxony--that
he is now already at our borders. He then adds, that the king is
aware of the contract which we and our friends have signed, swearing
to attack Prussia simultaneously. Well, my good Flemming, there is
not much wisdom needed to tell me that if the king knows of our
contract, he will be all the more on his guard, and will make
preparations to defend himself; for he would not be so foolhardy as
to attempt to attack our three united armies. No, no. Our regiments
can remain quietly in Poland, the seventeen thousand men here will
answer all purposes."
"There is but one more of these begging letters," said he, opening
it, but throwing it aside without reading it. Out of it fell a
folded piece of paper. "Why," said the count, taking it up, "there
are verses. Has Flemming's fear of the Prussian king made a poet of
him?" He opened it and read aloud:
"'A piece of poetry which a friend, Baron Pollnitz, gave me
yesterday. The author is the King of Prussia.'"
"Well," said the count, laughing, "a piece of poetry about me--the
king does me great honor. Let us see; perhaps these verses can be
read at the table to-day, and cause some amusement. 'Ode to Count
Bruhl,' with this inscription: 'il ne faut pas s'inquieter de
I'avsnir.' That is a wise philosophical sentence, which nevertheless
did not spring from the brain of his Prussian majesty. And now for
the verses." And straightening the paper before him, he commenced.
"Esclave malheureux de la haute fortune,
D'un roi trop indolent souverain absolu,
Surcharge de travaux dont le soin L'importune.
Bruhl, quitte des grandeurs L'embarras superflu.
Au sein de ton opulence
Je vois le Dieu des ennuis,
Et dans ta magnificence
Le repos fait tes units.
"Descend de ce palais dont le superbe faite
Domine sur la Saxe, s'elevent aux cieux.
D'ou ton esprit craintif conjure la tempete
Que souleve ala cour un peuple d'envieux:
Vois cette grandeur fragile
Et cesse enfln d'admirer
L'eclat pompeux d'une ville
Ou tout feint de t'adorer."
The count's voice had at first been loud, pathetic, and slightly
ironical, hut it became gradually lower, and sank at last almost to
a whisper. A deep, angry red suffused his face, as he read on. Again
his voice became louder as he read the last two verses:
"Connaissez la Fortune inconstante et legere;
La perflde se plait aux plus cruels revers,
On la voit, abuber le sage, le vulgaire,
Jouer insolemment tout ce faible univers;
Aujourd'hui c'est sur ma tete
Qu'elle repand des faveurs,
Des demain elle s'apprete
A les emporter ailleurs."
"Fixe-t-elle sur moi sa bizarre inconstance,
Mon cocur lui saura gre' du bien qu'elle me fait
Veut'elle en d'autres lieux marquer sa bienvellance,
Je lui remets ses dons sans chagrin, sans regret.
Plein d'une vertu plus forte
J'epouse la pauvrete'
Si pour dot elle m'apporte
L'honneur et la probite'"
[Footnote: ODE TO COUNT BRUHL. Inscription.--"It is not necessary to
make ourselves uneasy about the future."
"High Destiny's unhappy slave,
Absolute lord of too indolent a king,
Oppressed with work whose care importunes him--
Bruhl, leave the useless perplexities of grandeur.
In the bosom of thine opulence
I see the God of the wearied ones,
And in thy magnificence
Repose makes thy nights."
"Descend from this palace, whose haughty dome
Towering o'er Saxony,rises to the skies;
In which thy fearful mind confines the tempest.
Which agitates at the court, a nation of enviers.
Look at this fragile grandeur,
And cease at last to admire
The pompous shining of a city
Where all feign to adore thee."
"Know that Fortune is light and inconstant;
A deceiver who delights
in cruel reverses;
She is seen to abuse the wise man, the vulgar
Insolently playing with all this weak universe.
To-day it is on my head
That she lets her favors fall,
By to-morrow she will be prepared
To carry them elsewhere."
"Does she fix on me her wayward fickleness,
My heart will be grateful for the good she does me;
Does she wish to show elsewhere her benevolence,
I give her back her gifts without pain--without regret.
Filled with strongest virtue,
I will espouse Poverty,
If for dower she brings me
Honor and probity."]
The paper fell from the count's hand and he looked at it
thoughtfully. An expression of deep emotion rested upon his
countenance, which, in spite of his fifty years, could still be
called handsome--as he repeated in a low, trembling voice:
"J'epouse la pauvrete, Si pour dot elle m'apporte L'honneur et la
The sun coming through the window rested upon his tall form, causing
the many jewels upon his garments to sparkle like stars on the blue
background, enveloping him in a sort of glory. He had repeated for
the third time, "J'epouse la pauvrete," when the door leading to his
wife's apartments was opened, and the countess entered in the full
splendor of her queenly toilet, sparkling with jewels. The count was
startled by her entrance, but he now broke out into a loud, mocking
"Truly, countess," said he, "you could not have found a better
moment to interrupt me. For the last half hour my thoughts have been
given up to sentiment. Wonderful dreams have been chasing each other
through my brain. But you have again shown yourself my good angel,
Antonia, by dissipating these painful thoughts." He pressed a
fervent kiss upon her hand, then looking at her with a beaming
countenance, he said:
"How beautiful you are, Antonia; you must have found that mysterious
river which, if bathed in, insures perpetual youth and beauty."
"Ah!" said the countess, smiling, "all know that no one can flatter
so exquisitely as Count Bruhl."
"But I am not always paid with the same coin, Antonia," said the
count, earnestly. "Look at this poem, that the King of Prussia has
written of me. Truly, there is no flattery in it."
While reading, the countess's countenance was perfectly clear; not
the slightest cloud was to be seen upon her brow.
"Do you not think it a good poem?" said she, indifferently.
"Well," said he, "I must acknowledge that there was a certain fire
in it that touched my heart."
"I find it stupid," said she, sternly. "There is but one thing in it
that pleases me, and that is the title-'il ne faut pas s'inquieter
de l'avenir.' The little King of Prussia has done well to choose
this for his motto, for without it, it strikes me, his peace would
be forever gone, for his future will surely be a humiliating one."
The count laughed.
"How true that is!" said he "and a just answer to his stupid poem.
Speak of something else."
He tore the paper into small pieces, which, with a graceful bow, he
laid at the feet of the countess.
"A small sacrifice," said he, "which I bring to my goddess. Tread
upon it, and destroy the king's words with your fairy foot." The
countess obeyed him, laughingly.
"But now, count," said she, "we will, for a moment, speak of graver
things. I have received letters from Loudon-from our son. Poor Henry
is in despair, and he has requested me to intercede for him. You
were always very stern with him, my friend, therefore he fears your
anger, now that he has been a little imprudent."
"Well, what is it?" said the count; "I hope it is no duel, for that
would make me extremely angry."
"It is nothing of that kind. His imprudence is of another sort, He
is in want of money."
"Money!" said the count, in amazement; "why, barely a month ago, I
sent him six hundred thousand thalers. That, and what he took with
him, three months ago, is quite a large sum, for it amounts to more
than a million of thalers."
"But, my dear husband, in England every thing is so dear! and there,
to move amongst and impress those rich lords, he must really have
more. It seems that our Charles Joseph has fallen in love with a
lady whom all Loudon worships for her surpassing beauty. But she,
having a cold heart, will listen to no one. She laughs at those who
flatter her, and will receive no presents. She seemed an invincible
fortress, but our son, thanks to stratagem, has taken it."
"I am curious to know how," said the count, laughing.
"He played a game of ecarte with her. He played for notes to the
amount of ten pounds, and, at first, Charles won, much to the
displeasure of the proud lady, who did not relish being beaten, even
in a game of cards. Charles, perceiving this, played badly. The lady
won from him eighty thousand pounds."
"Eighty thousand pounds," cried the count, "why, that is a half a
million of thalers!"
"And do you mean to say," said the countess, angrily, "that that is
too much to gain the favor of a beautiful lady?"
"No! it is not too much; but it is certainly enough. I hope, at
least, it was not in vain."
"No, no! and Loudon is now raving about the intellectual, genial and
generous son of Count Bruhl. I trust, count, that you instantly sent
him a check"
"Yes," said the count, shrugging his shoulders. "But, countess, if
the king were to hear this story, it would cause much evil; for you
know that he believes in economy; luckily for me, he believes me to
be an economical man. Those enemies who would not dare to accuse us,
would have no fears of saying evil of our son; he will certainly
hear this eighty-thousand-pound story."
"We will tell him ourselves, but say that the story is much
"What a wonderful woman you are, Antonia!" said her husband; "your
counsel is wise; we will follow it."
At this moment a slight knocking was heard at the door, and the
secretary entered with a sealed letter.
"A courier from Torgau just arrived with this from the commandant."
The count's brow became clouded.
"Business! forever business!" said he. "How dared you annoy me with
this, upon the birthday of my wife?"
"Pardon, your excellency; but the courier brought with this packet
such strange news, that I ventured to disturb you, to communicate--"
The beating of drums and the thunder of cannon interrupted him.
"The king and queen are now entering their carriage," cried the
count. "No more business to-day, my friend. It will keep till
tomorrow. Come, Antonia, we must welcome their majesties." And
taking his wife's hand, he passed out of the study.
THE INTERRUPTED FEAST.
As the Count Bruhl and his wife entered the saloon, it almost seemed
as if they were the royal couple for whom all this company was
waiting. Every one of any rank or position in Dresden was present.
There were to be seen the gold and silver embroidered uniforms of
generals and ambassadors; jewelled stars were sparkling upon many
breasts; the proudest, loveliest women of the court, bearing the
noblest Saxon names, were there, accompanied by princes, counts,
dukes, and barons, and one and all were bowing reverentially to the
count and his wife. And now, at a sign from the grand chamberlain,
the pages of the countess, clothed in garments embroidered with
silver and pearls, approached to carry her train; beside them were
the count's officers, followed by all the noble guests. Thus they
passed through the third room, where the servants of the house,
numbering upward of two hundred, were placed in military order, and
then on until they came to the grand entrance, which had been turned
into a floral temple.
The royal equipage was at the gate; the host and hostess advanced to
welcome the king and queen, whose arrival had been announced by the
roar of cannon.
The king passed through the beautiful avenue, and greeted the
company placed on either side of him, gayly. The queen, sparkling
with diamonds, forcing herself also to smile, was at his side; and
as their majesties passed on, saying here and there a kind, merry
word, it seemed as if the sun had just risen over all these noble,
rich, and powerful guests. This was reflected upon every
countenance. The gods had demanded from Olympus to favor these
mortals with their presence, and to enjoy themselves among them. And
truly, even a king might spend some happy hours in this delightful
The air was so soft and mild, so sweet from the odor of many
flowers; the rustling of the trees was accompanied by soft whispers
of music that seemed floating like angels' wings upon the air. Every
countenance was sparkling with happiness and content, and the king
could but take the flattering unction to his soul that all his
subjects were equally as happy as the elite by which he was
Pleased with this thought and delighted with all the arrangements
for the fete, the king gave himself up to an enjoyment which, though
somewhat clouding his character as a deity, was immensely gratifying
He abandoned himself to the delights of the table! He devoured with
a sort of amiable astonishment the rare and choice dishes which,
even to his experienced and pampered palate, appeared unfathomable
mysteries; luxuries had been procured, not only from Loudon and
Paris, but from every part of the world. He delighted himself with
the gold and purple wines, whose vintage was unknown to him, and
whose odor intoxicated him more than the perfume of flowers. He
requested the count to give the name and history of all these wines.
The count obeyed in that shy, reverential manner in which he was
accustomed to speak. He charmed him by relating the many
difficulties he had overcome to obtain this wine from the Cape of
Good Hope, which had to cross the line twice to arrive at its
highest perfection. He said that for two years he had been thinking
of this gloriously happy day, and had had a ship upon the sea for
the purpose of perfecting this wine. He bade the king notice the
strangely formed fish, which could only be obtained from the Chinese
sea. Then, following up the subject, he spoke of the peculiar and
laughable customs and habits of the Chinese, thus causing even the
proud queen to laugh at his humorous descriptions.
Count Bruhl was suddenly interrupted in an unusual manner.
His secretary, Willmar, approached the royal table, and without a
word of excuse, without greeting the king, handed the count a sealed
This was such a crime against courtly etiquette that the count, from
sheer amazement, made no excuses to the king; he only cast a
threatening look at the secretary. But as he encountered Willmar's
pale, terrified countenance, a tremor seized him, and he cast an
eager glance upon the papers in his hand, which, no doubt, contained
the key to all this mystery. "They are from the commandant at
Leipsic," whispered the secretary; "I entreat your excellency to
Before the count had time, however, to open the dispatch, a still
stranger event took place.
The Prussian ambassador, who, upon the plea of illness, had declined
Count Bruhl's invitation, suddenly appeared in the garden,
accompanied by the four secretaries of his legation, and approached
the royal table. Upon his countenance there was no sign of sickness,
but rather an expression of great joy.
As he neared the tent, the gay song and merry jest ceased. Every eye
was fixed inquiringly upon the individual who had dared to disturb
this fete by his presence. The music, which had before filled the
air with joyous sounds, was now playing a heart-breaking air.
Count Bruhl now arose and advanced. He greeted the Prussian
ambassador in a few cold, ceremonious words.
But Count Mattzahn's only answer to this greeting was a silent bow.
He then said, in a voice loud enough to be heard by the king and
"Count Bruhl, as ambassador of the King of Prussia, I request you to
demand an audience for me at once from the King of Saxony. I have an
important dispatch from my king."
Count Bruhl, struck with terror, could only gaze at him, he had not
the strength to answer.
But King Augustus, rising from his seat, said:
"The ambassador of my royal brother can approach; I consent to grant
him this audience; it is demanded in so strange a manner, it must
surely have some important object."
The count entered the royal tent.
"Is it your majesty's wish," said Mattzahn, solemnly, "that all
these noble guests shall be witnesses? I am commanded by my royal
master to demand a private audience."
"Draw the curtain!" said the king.
Count Bruhl, with trembling fingers, drew the golden cord, and the
heavy curtains fell to the ground. They were now completely
separated from the guests.
"And now, count," said the king, taking his seat by his proud,
silent queen, "speak."
Bowing profoundly, Count Mattzahn drew a dispatch from his pocket,
and read in a loud, earnest voice.
It was a manifesto from the King of Prussia, written by himself and
addressed to all the European courts. In it, Frederick denied being
actuated by any desire of conquest or gain, but declared that he was
compelled to commence this war to which Austria had provoked him by
her many and prolonged insults. There was a pause when the count
finished reading. Upon the gentle, amiable countenance of the king
there was now an angry look. The queen was indifferent, cold, and
haughty; she seemed to have paid no attention whatever to Count
Mattzahn, but, turning to the princess at her side, she asked a
perfectly irrelevant question, which was answered in a whisper.
Countess Bruhl dared not raise her eyes; she did not wish her
faithless lover, Count Mattzahn, whose cunning political intrigues
she now perfectly understood, to see her pain and confusion. The
prince-elector, well aware of the importance of this hour, stood at
the king's side; behind him was Count Bruhl, whose handsome,
sparkling countenance was now deadly pale.
Opposite to this agitated group, stood the Prussian ambassador,
whose haughty, quiet appearance presented a marked contrast. His
clear, piercing glance rested upon each one of them, and seemed to
fathom every thought of their souls. His tall, imposing form was
raised proudly, and there was an expression of the noblest
satisfaction upon his countenance. After waiting some time in vain
for an answer, he placed the manifesto before the king.
"With your majesty's permission, I will now add a few words," said
"Speak!" said the king, laconically.
"His majesty, my royal master," continued Count Mattzahn, in a loud
voice, "has commissioned me to give your majesty the most quieting
assurances, and to convince you that his march through Saxony has no
purpose inimical to you, but that he only uses it as a passway to
The king's countenance now became dark and stern, even the queen
lost some of her haughty indifference.
"How?" said the king; "Frederick of Prussia does us the honor to
pass through our land without permission? He intends coming to
"Sire," said Mattzahn, with a slight smile, "his majesty is already
there! Yesterday his army, divided into three columns, passed the
The king rose hastily from his seat. The queen was deadly pale, her
lips trembled, but she remained silent, and cast a look of bitter
hatred upon the ambassador of her enemy.
Count Bruhl was leaning against his chair, trembling with terror,
when the king turned to him.
"I ask my prime minister if he knows how far the King of Prussia has
advanced into Saxony?"
"Sire, I was in perfect ignorance of this unheard-of event. The King
of Prussia wishes to surprise us in a manner worthy of the most
skilful magician. Perhaps it is one of those April jests which
Frederick II is so fond of practising."
"Your excellency can judge for yourself," said Count Mattzahn,
earnestly, "whether the taking of towns and fortresses is to be
considered a jest. For, if I am rightly informed, you have this day
received two dispatches, informing you of my royal master's line of
"How?" said the king, hastily; "you were aware of this, count, and I
was not informed? You received important dispatches, and I was not
notified of it?"
"It is true," said the count, much embarrassed. "I received two
couriers. The dispatches of the first were handed to me the same
moment your majesties entered my house; I received the other just as
Count Mattzahn arrived. I have, therefore, read neither."
"With your majesty's permission," said Count Mattzahn, "I will
inform you of their contents."
"You will be doing me a great service," said the king, earnestly.
"The first dispatch, sire, contained the news that his majesty the
King of Prussia had taken without resistance the fortresses of
Torgau and Wittenberg!"
A hollow groan escaped the king as he sank in his chair. The queen
became paler than before.
"What more?" said the king, gloomily.
"The second dispatch," continued Count Mattzahn, smilingly,
"informed his excellency Count Bruhl that the King of Prussia, my
noble and victorious master, was pressing forward, and had also
taken Leipsic without the slightest resistance!"
"How!" said the king, "he is in Leipsic?"
"Sire, I think he was there," said Count Mattzahn, laughing; "for it
seems that the Prussians, led by their king, have taken the wings of
the morning. Frederick was in Leipsic when the courier left--he must
now be on his way to Dresden. But he has commissioned me to say that
his motive for passing through Saxony is to see and request your
majesty to take a neutral part in this war between Austria and
"A neutral part!" said the king, angrily, "when my land is invaded
without question or permission, and peace broken in this
inexplicable manner. Have you any other message, count?"
"I have finished, sire, and humbly ask if you have any answer for my
"Tell the king, your master, that I will raise my voice throughout
the land of Germany to complain of this unheard-of and arbitrary
infringement of the peace. At the throne of the German emperor I
will demand by what right the King of Prussia dares to enter Saxony
with his army and take possession of my cities. You can depart, sir;
I have no further answer for his majesty!"
The count, bowing reverentially to the king and queen, left the
Every eye was fixed upon the prime minister. From him alone, who was
considered the soul of the kingdom of Saxony, help and counsel was
expected. All important questions were referred to him, and all were
now eagerly looking for his decision. But the powerful favorite was
in despair. He knew how utterly impossible it was to withstand the
King of Prussia's army. Every arrangement for this war had been made
on paper, but in reality little had been accomplished. The army was
not in readiness! The prime minister had been in want of a few
luxuries of late, and had, therefore, as he believed there would be
no war until the following spring, reduced it. He knew how little
Saxony was prepared to battle against the King of Prussia's
disciplined troops, and the ambassador's friendly assurances did not
"Well, count," said the king, after a long pause, "how is this
strange request of Frederick II., that we should remain neutral, to
Before the count was able to answer, the queen said, in a loud
"By a declaration of war, my husband! This is due to your honor. We
have been insulted; it therefore becomes you to throw down the
gauntlet to your presumptuous adversary."
"We will continue this conversation in my apartments," said the
king, rising; "this is no place for it. Our beautiful feast has been
disturbed in a most brutal manner. Count Bruhl, notify the different
ambassadors that, in an hour, I will receive them at my palace."
"This hour is mine!" thought the queen, as she arose; "in it I will
stimulate my husband's soft and gentle heart to a brave, warlike
decision; he will yield to my prayers and tears." She took the
king's arm with a gay smile, and left the tent, followed by the
princes, and the host and hostess.
Silently they passed the festive tables, from which the guests had
risen to greet them. The courtiers sought to read in their
countenances the solution of that riddle which had occupied them
since the arrival of the Prussian ambassador, and about which they
had been anxiously debating.
But, upon the queen's countenance there was now her general look of
indifference. It is true, the king was not smiling as was his wont
when amongst his subjects, but his pleasant countenance betrayed no
fear or sorrow. The queen maintained her exalted bearing; nothing
had passed to bow her proud head. After the royal guests had left,
Count Bruhl returned. He also had regained his usual serenity. With
ingenious friendliness he turned to his guests, and while requesting
them, in a flattering manner, to continue to grace his wife's fete
by their presence, demanded for himself leave of absence. Then
passing on, he whispered here and there a few words to the different
ambassadors. They and the count then disappeared.
The fete continued quietly; the music recommenced its gay, melodious
sounds, the birds carolled their songs, and the flowers were as
beautiful and as sweet as before. The jewels of the courtiers
sparkled as brilliantly. Their eyes alone were not so bright, and
the happy smile had left their lips. They were all weighed down by a
presentiment that danger was hovering around them.
THE ARCHIVES AT DRESDEN.
Count Mattzahn's prophecy came true. The King of Prussia came to
Dresden, and there, as in every other part of Saxony, found no
resistance. Fear and terror had gone before him, disarming all
opposition. The king and prince-elector were not accustomed to have
a will of their own; and Count Bruhl, the favorite of fortune,
showed himself weak and helpless in the hour of adversity. It needed
the queen's powerful energy, and the forcible representations of the
French ambassador, Count Broglio, to arouse them from their
lethargy; and what Count Broglio's representations, and the queen's
prayers and tears commenced, hatred finished. Count Bruhl's sinking
courage rose at the thought of the possibility of still undermining
the King of Prussia, and putting an end to his victorious march. It
was only necessary to detain him, to prevent him from reaching the
Bohemian borders, until the Austrian army came to their assistance,
until the French troops had entered and taken possession of Prussia.
Therefore, Count Bruhl sent courier after courier to Saxony's
allies, to spread her cry for help to every friendly court. He then
collected the army, ordered them to camp at Pirna, which was very
near the boundary of Bohemia, and, as it was guarded on one side by
the Elbe, and on the other by high rocks, appeared perfectly secure.
When these preparations were commenced, the count's courage rose
considerably, and he determined to prove himself a hero, and to give
the Saxon army the inspiring consciousness that, in the hour of
danger, their king would be in their midst. The king therefore left
for the fortress of Konigstein, accompanied by Count Bruhl, leaving
the army, consisting of about seventeen thousand men, to follow
under the command of General Rutrosky, and to encamp at the foot of
Konigstein. Arrived at Konigstein, where they thought themselves
perfectly secure, they gave themselves up to the free and careless
life of former days. They had only changed their residence, not
their character; their dreams were of future victories, of the many
provinces they would take from the King of Prussia; and with this
delightful prospect the old gay, luxurious, and wanton life was
continued. What difference did it make to Count Bruhl that the army
was only provided with commissary stores for fourteen days, and that
this time was almost past, and no way had been found to furnish them
with additional supplies. The King of Prussia had garrisoned every
outlet, and only the King of Saxony's forage-wagon was allowed to
Frederick knew better than the Saxon generals the fearful,
invincible enemy that was marching to the camp of Pirna. What were
the barricades, the palisades, and ambushes, by which the camp was
surrounded, to this enemy? This foe was in the camp, not outside of
it--he had no need to climb the barricades--he came hither flying
through the air, breathing, like a gloomy bird of death, his
horrible cries of woe. This enemy was hunger--enervating,
discouraging, demoralizing hunger!
The fourteen days had expired, and in the camp of Pirna languished
seventeen thousand men! The bread rations became smaller and
smaller; but the third part of the usual meat ration was given; the
horses' food also was considerably shortened. Sorrow and starvation
reigned in the camp. Why should this distress Count Bruhl? He lived
in his usual luxurious splendor, with the king. Looking out from his
handsome apartments upon the valley lying at his feet, he saw on a
little meadow by which the Elbe was flowing, herds of cows and
calves, sheep and beeves, which were there to die like the Saxon
soldiers, for their king. These herds were for the royal table;
there was, therefore, no danger that the enemy visiting the army
should find its way to the fortress. It was also forbidden, upon
pain of death, to force one of these animals intended for the royal
table, from their noble calling, and to satisfy therewith the hungry
soldiers. Count Bruhl could therefore wait patiently the arrival of
the Austrian army, which was already in motion, under the command of
While the King of Poland was living gay and joyous in the fortress
of Konigstein, the queen with the princes of the royal house had
remained in Dresden; and though she knew her husband's irresolute
character, and knew that the King of Prussia, counting upon this,
was corresponding with him, endeavoring to persuade him to
neutrality, still she had no fears of her husband succumbing to his
entreaties. For was not Count Bruhl, the bitter, irreconcilable
enemy of Prussia, at his side?--and had not the king said to her, in
a solemn manner, before leaving: "Better that every misfortune come
upon us than to take the part of our enemies!" The queen, therefore,
felt perfectly safe upon this point. She remained in Dresden for two
reasons: first, to watch the King of Prussia, and then to guard the
archives--those archives which contained the most precious treasures
of Saxon diplomacy--the most important secrets of their allies.
These papers were prized more highly by the queen than all the crown
jewels now lying in their silver casket; and though the keeping of
the latter was given over to some one else, no one seemed brave
enough to shield the former. No one but herself should guard these
rich treasures. The state archives were placed in those rooms of the
palace which had but one outlet, and that leading into one of the
queen's apartments. In this room she remained--she took her meals,
worked, and slept there--there she received the princes and the
foreign ambassadors--always guarding the secret door, of which she
carried the key fastened to a gold chain around her neck. But still
the queen was continually in fear her treasure would be torn from
her, and the King of Prussia's seeming friendliness was not
calculated to drive away this anxiety. It is true the king had sent
her his compliments by Marshal Keith, with the most friendly
assurances of his affection, but notwithstanding this, the chancery,
the college, and the mint department had been closed; all the
artillery and ammunition had been taken from the Dresden arsenal and
carried to Magdeburg; some of the oldest and worthiest officers of
the crown had been dismissed; and the Swiss guard, intended for
service in the palace, had been disarmed. All this agreed but badly
with the king's quieting assurances, and was calculated to increase
the hatred of his proud enemy. She had, nevertheless, stifled her
anger so far as to invite the King of Prussia, who was staying in
the palace of the Countess Morizinska, not far from his army, to her
Frederick had declined this invitation. He remained quietly in the
palace, whose doors were open to all, giving audience to all who
desired it, listening to their prayers, and granting their wishes.
The Queen of Poland heard this with bitter anger; and the more
gracious the King of Prussia showed himself to the Saxons, the more
furious and enraged became the heart of this princess.
"He will turn our people from their true ruler," said she to
Countess Ogliva, her first maid of honor, who was sitting at her
side upon a divan placed before the princess's door. "This
hypocritical affability will only serve to gain the favor of our
subjects, and turn them from their duty."
"It has succeeded pretty well," said the countess, sighing. "The
Saxon nobility are continually in the antechamber of this heretical
king; and yesterday several of the city authorities, accompanied by
the foreign ambassadors, waited upon him, and he received them."
"Yes, he receives every one; he gives gay balls every evening, at
which he laughs and jokes merrily. He keeps open house, and the poor
people assemble there in crowds to see him eat." Maria Josephine
sighed deeply. "I hate this miserable, changeable people!" murmured
"And your majesty does well," said the countess, whose wrinkled,
yellow countenance was now illuminated by a strange fire. "The anger
of God will rest upon this heretical nation that has turned from her
salvation, and left the holy mother church in haughty defiance. The
King of Poland cannot even appoint true Catholic-Christians as his
officers--every position of any importance is occupied by heretics.
But the deluge will surely come again upon this sinful people and
The queen crossed herself, and prayed in a low voice.
The countess continued: "This Frederick stimulates these heretical
Saxons in their wicked unbelief. He, who it is well known, laughs
and mocks at every religion, even his own--attended, yesterday, the
Protestant church, to show our people that he is a protector of that
"Woe, woe to him!" said the queen.
"With listening ear he attended to his so-called preacher's sermon,
and then loudly expressed his approval of it, well knowing that this
preacher is a favorite of heretics in Dresden. This cunning king
wished to give them another proof of his favor. Does your majesty
wish to know of the present he made this, preacher?"
"What?" said the queen, with a mocking laugh. "Perhaps a Bible, with
the marginal observations of his profligate friends, Voltaire and La
"No, your majesty; the king sent this learned preacher a dozen
bottles of champagne!"
"He is a blasphemous scoffer, even with that which he declares holy.
But punishment will overtake him. Already the voice of my exalted
nephew, the Emperor of Germany, is to be heard throughout the entire
land, commanding the King of Prussia to return at once to his own
kingdom, and to make apologies to the King of Poland for his late
insults. It is possible that, in his haughty pride, Frederick will
take no notice of this command. But it will be otherwise with the
generals and commandants of this usurper. They have been commanded
by the emperor to leave their impious master, and not to be the
sharers of his frightful crime."
"I fear," said Countess Ogliva, sighing, and raising her eyes
heavenward--" I fear they will not listen to the voice of our good
"But they will hear the voice of his cannon," cried the queen,
impetuously; "the thunder of our artillery and the anger of God will
annihilate them, and they will fall to the ground as if struck by
lightning before the swords blessed by our holy priests."
The door of the antechamber was at this moment opened violently, and
the queen's chamberlain appeared upon its threshold.
"Your majesty, a messenger from the King of Prussia requests an
audience," said he.
The queen's brow became clouded, and she blushed with anger. "Tell
this messenger that I am not in a condition to receive his visit,
and that he must therefore impart to you his message."
"It is, no doubt, another of his hypocritical, friendly assurances,"
said the queen, as the chamberlain left. "He has, no doubt, some
evil design, and wishes to soothe us before he strikes."
The chamberlain returned, but his countenance was now white with
"Well!" said the queen, "what is this message?"
"Ah, your majesty," stammered the trembling courtier, "my lips would
not dare to repeat it; and I could never find the courage to tell
you what he demands."
"What he demands!" repeated the queen; "has it come to that, that a
foreign prince commands in our land? Go, countess, and in my name,
fully empowered by me, receive this King of Prussia's message; then
return, and dare not keep the truth from me."
Countess Ogliva and the chamberlain left the royal apartment, and
Maria Josephine was alone. And now, there was no necessity of
guarding this mask of proud quietude and security. Alone, with her
own heart, the queen's woman nature conquered. She did not now force
back the tears which streamed from her eyes, nor did she repress the
sighs that oppressed her heart. She wept, and groaned, and trembled.
But hearing a step in the antechamber, she dried her eyes, and again
put on the proud mask of her royalty. It was the countess returning.
Slowly and silently she passed through the apartment. Upon her
colorless countenance there was a dark, angry expression, and a
scoffing smile played about her thin, pale lips.
"The King of Prussia," said she, in a low, whispering voice, as she
reached the queen, "demands that the key to the state archives be
delivered at once to his messenger, Major von Vangenheim."
The queen raised herself proudly from her seat.
"Say to this Major von Vangenheim that he will never receive this
key!" said she, commandingly.
The countess bowed, and left the room.
"He has left," said she, when she returned to the queen; "though he
said that he or another would return."
"Let us now consult as to what is to be done," said the queen. "Send
for Father Guarini, so that we may receive his advice."
Thanks to the queen's consultation with her confessor and her maid
of honor, the King of Prussia's messenger, when he returned, was not
denied an audience. This time, it was not Major von Vangenheim, but
General von Wylich, the Prussian commandant at Dresden, whom
Maria Josephine received him in the room next to the archives,
sitting upon a divan, near to the momentous door. She listened with
a careless indifference, as he again demanded, in the king's name,
the key to the state archives.
The queen turned to her maid of honor.
"How is it that you are so negligent, countess?" said she; "did I
not tell you to answer to the messenger of the king, that I would
give this key, which is the property of the Prince-Elector of
Saxony, and which he intrusted to me, to no one but my husband?"
"I had the honor to fulfil your majesty's command," said the
"How is it, then," said she, turning to General von Wylich, "that
you dare to come again with this request, which I have already
"Oh, may your majesty graciously pardon me," cried the general,
deeply moved; "but his majesty, my king and master, has given me the
sternest commands to get the key, and bring him the papers. I am
therefore under the sad necessity to beseech your majesty to agree
to my master's will."
"Never!" said the queen, proudly. "That door shall never be opened;
you shall never enter it."
"Be merciful. I dare not leave here without fulfilling my master's
commands. Have pity on my despair, your majesty, and give me the key
to that door."
"Listen! I shall not give you the key," said the queen, white and
trembling with anger; "and if you open the door by force, I will
cover it with my body; and now, sir, if you wish to murder the Queen
of Poland, open the door." And raising her proud, imposing form, the
queen placed herself before the door.
"Mercy! mercy! queen," cried the general; "do not force me to do
something terrible; do not make me guilty of a crime against your
sacred royalty. I dare not return to my king without these papers. I
therefore implore your majesty humbly, upon my knees, to deliver
this key to me."
He fell upon his knees before the queen, humbly supplicating her to
repent her decision.
"I will not give it to you," said she, with a triumphant smile. "I
do not move from this door; it shall not be opened."
General Wylich rose from his lowly position. He was pale, but there
was a resolute expression upon his countenance. Looking upon it, you
could not but see that he was about to do something extremely
painful to his feelings.
"Queen of Poland," said he, in a loud, firm voice, "I am commanded
by my king to bring to him the state archives. Below, at the castle
gate, wagons are in attendance to receive them; they are accompanied
by a detachment of Prussian soldiers. I have only to open that
window, sign to them, and they are here. In the antechamber are the
four officers who came with me; by opening the door, they will be at
"What do you mean by this?" said the queen, in a faltering voice,
moving slightly from the door.
"I mean, that at any price, I must enter that room. If the key is
not given to me, I will call upon my soldiers to break down the
door; as they have learned to tear down the walls of a fortress, it
will be an easy task; that if the Queen of Poland does not value her
high position sufficiently to guard herself against any attack, I
will be compelled to lay hands upon a royal princess, and lead her
by force from that door, which my soldiers must open! But, once
more, I bend my knee, and implore your majesty to preserve me from
this crime, and to have mercy on me."
And again he fell upon his knees supplicating for pity.
"Be merciful! be merciful!" cried the queen's confessor and the
Countess Ogliva, who both knew that General Wylich would do all that
he had said, and had both fallen on their knees, adding their
entreaties to his. "Your Majesty has done all that human power can
do. It is now time to guard your holy form from insult. Have mercy
on your threatened royalty."
"No, no!" murmured the queen, "I cannot! I cannot! Death would be
sweet in comparison to this humiliating defeat."
The queen's confessor, Father Guarini, now rose from his knees, and,
approaching the queen, he said, in a solemn, commanding voice:
"My daughter, by virtue of my profession, as a servant of the holy
mother church, to whom is due obedience and trust, I command you to
deliver up to this man the key of this door."
The queen's head fell upon her breast, and hollow, convulsive groans
escaped her. Then, with a hasty movement, she severed the key from
"I obey you, my father," said she. "There is the key, general; this
room can now be entered."
General Wylich took the key, kissing reverentially the hand that
gave it to him. He then said to her, in a voice full of emotion:
"I have but this last favor to ask of your majesty, that you will
now leave this room, so that my soldiers may enter it."
Without answering, the queen, accompanied by her confessor and maid
of honor, left the apartment.
"And now," said the queen to Countess Ogliva, as she entered her
reception-room, "send messengers at once to all the foreign
ambassadors, and tell them I command their presence."
A half an hour later the ambassadors of France, Austria, Holland,
Russia, and Sweden, were assembled in the queen's reception-room.
The queen was there, pale, and trembling with anger. With the proud
pathos of misfortune, and humiliated royalty, she apprised them of
the repeated insults she had endured, and commanded them to write at
once to their different courts, imploring their rulers to send aid
to her sorely threatened kingdom.
"And if these princes," said she, impetuously, "help us to battle
against this usurper, in defending us they will be defending their
own rights and honor. For my cause is now the cause of all kings;
for if my crown falls, the foundation of their thrones will also
give way. For this little Margrave of Brandenburg, who calls himself
King of Prussia, will annihilate us all it we do not ruin him in
advance. I, for my part, swear him a perpetual resistance, a
perpetual enmity! I will perish willingly in this fight if only my
insults are revenged and my honor remains untarnished. Hasten,
therefore, to acquaint your courts with all that has occurred here."
"I will be the first to obey your majesty," said the French
ambassador, Count Broglio, approaching the queen. "I will repeat
your words to my exalted master; I will portray to your majesty's
lovely daughter, the Dauphine of France, the sufferings her royal
mother has endured, and I know she will strain every nerve to send
you aid. With your gracious permission, I will now take my leave,
for to-day I start for Paris."
"To Paris!" cried the queen; "would you leave my court in the hour
"I would be the last to do this, unless forced by necessity," said
the count; "but the King of Prussia has just dismissed me, and sent
me my passport!"
"Your passport! dismissed you!" repeated the queen. "Have I heard
aright? Do you speak of the King of Prussia? Has he then made
himself King of Saxony?"
Before anyone had time to answer the queen's painful questions, the
door was opened, and the king's ministers entered; beside them was
to be seen the pale, terrified countenance of Count Leuke, the
Slowly and silently these gentlemen passed through the room and
approached the queen.
"We have come," said Count Hoymb, bowing lowly, "to take leave of
The queen fell slightly back, and gazed in terror at the four
ministers standing before her with bowed heads.
"Has the king, my husband, sent for you? Are you come to take leave
of me before starting to Konigstein?"
"No, your majesty; we come because we have been dismissed from our
offices by the King of Prussia."
The queen did not answer, but gazed wildly at the sad countenances
about her; and now she fixed a searching glance upon the royal
"Well, and you?" said she. "Have you a message for me from my
husband? Are you from Konigstein?"
"Yes, your majesty, I come from Konigstein. But I am not a bearer of
pleasant news. I am sent to Dresden by the King of Poland to request
of the King of Prussia passports for himself and Count Bruhl. The
king wishes to visit Warsaw, and is therefore desirous of obtaining
"Ah!" said the queen, sighing, "to think that my husband requires
permission to travel in his own kingdom, and that he must receive it
from our enemy! Well, have you obeyed the king's command, Count
Leuke? Have you been to the King of Prussia and received the
"I was with the King of Prussia," said the count, in a faltering
"Well, what more?"
"He refused me! He does not give his consent to this visit."
"Listen, listen!" said the queen, wildly; "hear the fresh insult
thrown at our crown! Can God hear this and not send His lightning to
destroy this heretical tyrant? Ah, I will raise my voice; it shall
be a cry of woe and lamentation, and shall resound throughout all
Europe; it shall reach every throne, and every one shall hear my
voice calling out: 'Woe! woe! woe to us all; our thrones are
tottering, they will surely fall if we do not ruin this evil-doer
who threatens us all!'"
With a fearful groan, the queen fell fainting into the arms of
Countess Ogliva. But the sorrows and humiliations of this day were
not the only ones experienced by Maria Josephine from her victorious
It is true her cry for help resounded throughout Europe.
Preparations for war were made in many places, but her allies were
not able to prevent the fearful blow that was to be the ruin of
Saxony. Though the Dauphine of France, daughter of the wretched
Maria Josephine, and the mother of the unfortunate King of France,
Louis XVI., threw herself at the feet of Louis XV., imploring for
help for her mother's tottering kingdom, the French troops came too
late to prevent this disaster. Even though Maria Theresa, Empress of
Austria, and niece to the Queen of Saxony, as her army were in want
of horses, gave up all her own to carry the cannon. The Austrian
cannon was of as little help to Saxony as the French troops.
Starvation was a more powerful ally to Prussia than Austria, France,
Russia, and Sweden were to Saxony, for in the Saxon camp also a cry
of woe resounded.
It was hunger that compelled the brave Saxon General Rutrosky to
capitulate. It was the same cause that forced the King of Saxony to
bind himself to the fearful stipulations which the victorious King
of Prussia, after having tried in vain for many years to gain an
ally in Saxony, made.
In the valley of Lilienstein the first of that great drama, whose
scenes are engraved in blood in the book of history, was performed,
and for whose further developments many sad, long years were
In the valley of Lilienstein the Saxon army, compelled to it by
actual starvation, gave up their arms; and as these true, brave
soldiers, weeping over their humiliation, with one hand laid down
their weapons, the other was extended toward their enemies for
Lamentation and despair reigned in the camp at Lilienstein, and
there, at a window of the castle of Konigstein, stood the Prince-
Elector of Saxony, with his favorite Count Bruhl, witnesses to their
After these fearful humiliations, by which Frederick punished the
Saxons for their many intrigues, by which he revenged himself for
their obstinate, enmity, their proud superiority--after these
humiliations, after their complete defeat, the King of Prussia was
no longer opposed to the King of Saxony's journey. He sent him the
desired passports, he even extended their number, and not only sent
one to the king and to Count Bruhl, but also to the Countess Bruhl,
with the express command to accompany her husband. He also sent a
pass to Countess Ogliva, compelling this bigoted woman to leave her
And when the queen again raised her cry of woe, to call her allies
to her aid, the King of Prussia answered her with the victorious
thunder of the battle of Losovitz, the first battle fought in this
war, and in which the Prussians, led by their king, performed
wonders of bravery, and defeated for the third time the tremendous
Austrian army, under the command of General Brown.
"Never," says Frederick, "since I have had the honor to command the
Prussian troops, have they performed such deeds of daring as to-
The Austrians, in viewing these deeds, cried out:
"We have found again the old Prussians!"
And still they fought so bravely, that the Prussians remarked in
amazement: "These cannot be the same Austrians!"
This was the first act of that great drama enacted by the European
nations, and of which King Frederick II. was the hero.
THE MAIDEN OF BRUNEN.
The sun was just setting, throwing its crimson glow upon the waters
of the Rhine, which appeared to flow like a river of blood between
the green meadows on either side of it.
From the little village of Brunen, whose red chimneys were visible
above a group of oak and beech trees, the sound of the evening bell
was heard, reminding the pious peasants, engaged in cutting and
garnering their golden corn, of the hour for devotion.
With the sweet sounds of the bell mingled the joyous mountain yodel
of the cowherd, who had just descended the little hill yonder, with
his herd straying here and there, in picturesque confusion. Upon the
green meadow in the foreground, the flocks of the village were
pasturing, strictly guarded by a large white dog, whose stern,
martial glance not the slightest movement among his army contrary to
discipline, escaped. As soon as one of the sheep committed to his
care left the fold and approached the field where the reapers were
mowing the corn, which was bound at once in sheaves by busy maidens,
the stern Phylax barking, growling, and snarling, rushed after the
audacious wanderer who sought to appease the anger of his inexorable
overseer by a speedy return.
The old shepherd, sitting not far off upon a little wooden stool,
with his long, silver hair falling about him, was engaged in weaving
a graceful basket of some meadow roots; at every bark of his Phylax
he looked up and smiled his approval at his faithful steward;
occasionally he gazed across the meadow at the reapers and busy
maidens, then there came upon his venerable old countenance an
expression of great interest. And well he might be pleased with what
he saw there; for that tall, sturdy youth, standing in the wagon,
waiting with outstretched arms to catch the sheaves which are
skilfully thrown him; that youth with the bright rosy face, the
sparkling eye, the full red lip, upon which there is always a merry
smile, the ivory white teeth--that youth is his beloved son, Charles
Henry. And yonder maiden, not far from the wagon, binding up the
corn, in whose tall, proud form, in spite of her plain peasant-gown,
there is something imposing; that maiden with the youthful,
blooming, lovely face, is his son's betrothed, whom all in the
village called the beautiful Anna Sophia, and for whose love Charles
Henry was envied by all the village boys. It is true she was a
penniless orphan, but in her busy, industrious hands there was a
better and surer treasure than in a purse of gold, and her ability
and goodness would be a much better dowry to her husband; for Anna
Sophia Detzloff could do almost every thing, and the villagers knew
not whether to respect her more for her great knowledge, or love her
more for her kind, good heart. Anna could read and write like a
school-teacher. She wrote every letter which the women of the
village sent to their sons and husbands, now far away with the King
of Prussia's army, and read to them the answers; and in so beautiful
and winning a manner did she read them, that to the happy women it
almost seemed as if they were hearing the voices of their loved
ones. But, notwithstanding her learning, she was well versed in
every sort of work that beseemed a woman. None in the village could
prepare more delightful dishes than she; no one could equal her
beautiful, rapid sewing and knitting. Anna Sophia learned all these
things from her mother, who had lived and worked for many long years
in Brunen. Her father had been the village school-teacher, and it
was owing to his diligence and activity that the women could now
receive letters from their sons and husbands. He had taught the boys
to read and write; and though the girls did not learn, the example
of his daughter showed that it was not owing to inability, but for a
want of time and desire. From her mother, Anna had learned all her
womanly duties. She had taught her to be amiable, ready with help
for all, kind and sympathetic, and to strive by her good deeds to
gain the love of her fellow-creatures.
A joyous family had lived in the little village school-house; though
they had poverty and want to fight against, these three happy human
beings did not consider this a misfortune, but a necessary evil of
life. They loved each other, and when the parents looked upon the
lovely, rosy countenance of their only child, they did not perceive
that their bread was hard and heavy, they did not miss the butter
and cheese without which the rich villagers seldom took a meal. And
when, on Sundays, Anna went with her parents to church, in the faded
red skirt, neat white body, and black bodice, which had been her
mother's wedding-dress, she heard the boys whisper amongst
themselves about her beauty and sweetness, and casting her eyes down
with timid blushes she did not perceive the jeering smiles of the
other girls who, though not as pretty, were proud that they were
richer and better dressed than the school-teacher's daughter.
But Death, in his inexorable manner, had disturbed this modest
happiness. In a year he took the schoolmaster Detzloff and his wife
from the little house which, to any one else, would have appeared a
pitiful hut, but which, to them, seemed a paradise. In one year Anna
became an orphan; she was entirely alone in the world, and, after
she had given to her dear departed ones the tribute of her sorrows
and tears, she had to arouse herself and create a new future. After
death only, the villagers became aware of the great worth of the
departed, they now admitted to the full the school-teacher's merits,
and were anxious to pay to the daughter the debt owing to the
father. As he had died partly from starvation, sorrow, and work,
they wished to prove themselves generous to his daughter, and
preserve her from the want and misery which had caused the death of
But Anna Sophia would be dependent on no one. To those who came in
the name of the villagers to notify her that she would receive from
them a monthly allowance, she showed her able hands, her brown,
muscular arms, and, raising her sparkling eyes proudly to the new
school-teacher, she said, "From these alone will I receive help;
they shall give me food and clothing; on them alone will I be
She then went to seek work. The rich burgher of the village would
gladly have taken so smart and industrious a girl into his house and
paid her handsomely for her services. But Anna Sophia declared
proudly that, though she was willing to work, she would be no slave;
that she would sell her hands, but not her freedom.
Another house had been built and furnished for the school-teacher,
because there was danger of the old one, in which the Detzloff
family had lived, falling to pieces.
Anna Sophia, by the sale of some of the furniture, had bought the
old, dilapidated hut for herself. And there, in her hours of
leisure, she lived over the happy past. There she felt that she was
still with her parents, and not alone and orphaned. In the morning,
before leaving her home to go at her daily work, she entered the
little garden at the back of the hut, where in the arbor, laden with
dark-red blossoms, were the three chairs her father had woven in his
idle moments, and the roughly-hewn deal table made by his axe. She
took her seat for a moment upon the chair standing in the centre,
and laid one hand upon the one to either side of her Thus she had
sat in the past, with her hands clasped in those of her parents. The
Rhine flowed on as melodiously as before in the dim distance, the
trees were as green, the flowers and blossoms as sweet, the sky as
blue. There was no change; all around her was as in former days,
except these empty chairs. But Anna had only to close her eyes to
see the beloved forms of her departed parents, to feel the pressure
of their hands, and to hear them addressing her, in tones which love
alone could have uttered, love alone understood. Then saying aloud,
"Good-morning, mother! Good-morning, father!" she rose, with closed
eyes, from her seat, and hastened from the arbor with the pleasant
thought that she was followed by the loving gaze of her parents. She
did not turn once, for then she would have seen that the arbor was
empty, and she wished to preserve the sweet delusion to be the
brighter and happier at her day's work. When, during the day, she
saw the burgher's wife surrounded by her blooming daughters, she
would say to herself, "I also have a father and mother at home, and
they await me!" Then, when her day's work was finished, she hastened
with a flying step to her home, whose solemn stillness resounded for
her with the dear-loved voices of the past. Opening the bedroom of
her parents, she cried, "Good-night, mother! Good-night, father!"
Then she climbed up to her little attic, which had been her father's
favorite room, and which, when she was with him, he had called a
little spot of Eden. There stood his writing-table, and above it the
bookcase, which held her most precious treasures, her father's
library. From the window the Rhine could be seen meandering along
the smooth green meadows, finally loosing itself between the distant
Her father had left her this blessed little spot, and hither she
fled when her heavy day's work was over. There of an evening she
stood, gazing thoughtfully out into the darkening twilight, and
there daily she greeted the rising sun, repeating aloud her morning
prayer. Then with eager hands she took from the book-case one of the
large folios. From these books Anna Sophia drew all her knowledge.
And when, during the long winter evenings, the village girls were
busy spinning, she would tell them the stories she had read, no hand
was idle, no eye drooping. She was looked upon as the guardian angel
of the village; she knew some remedy, some alleviation for every
illness, every pain. In a sick-room, she was all that a nurse should
be, kind, loving, patient, and gentle. She was beloved by all, and
all the village boys sought to gain her hand. For a long time she
would listen to none of them, and flew in terror from those who
broached the subject.
How the youngest son of the old shepherd Buschman had finally won
her heart, she did not herself know. It is true, he was the
handsomest, best-made boy in the village, but it was not for this
that she loved him; for she had known him long ago, and had been
perfectly indifferent to him, until within the last few weeks. Why
was it? Because he loved her so dearly, and had told her he would
die if she did not listen to him. Many others had done and said the
same thing, but it had never moved her sensibilities, nor had their
threats terrified her. What, then, had won her cold, proud heart?
The old shepherd had been the occasion of their frequently meeting
each other. For some weeks she had been in the habit, when her day's
work was over, of reading to him the daily paper, which the good-
hearted burgher always sent to the old man, who had six sons in the
king's army; he had given his country six soldiers.
Keeling by his side upon the meadow, Anna Sophia would first read to
him, and then talk over the events of the war, and prophesy many a
glorious victory. And then, Charles Henry, who worked on the same
farm with Anna, joined them, speaking enthusiastically of the great,
heroic king. In their inspired love for their great sovereign, their
hearts had first met, he seemed to her a hero, because he had six
brothers in Frederick's army, she saw laurels upon his brow, won by
his brothers upon the battle-field. She loved him for his brothers'
sake, and she was proud of being the bride of him of whom it was
said, when he passed, "It is the old man's dearest child--God
preserve him to his father, whose only prop he is!" The old shepherd
was thinking of all this, as he sat in the midst of his flock upon
the green meadow, gazing toward the corn-field in which Anna Sophia
and his son were at work.
"God be praised!" murmured the old man. "That is the last sheaf,
Anna will soon be with me."
At last, the happy moment had come. The old shepherd folded his
hands, and a silent prayer arose from his heart for his absent sons.
He then rose from his lowly seat, and whistled to his faithful
Phylax to follow. The flock arrived at the village, and were driven
by the dog into the sheep-pen, from which was heard the tremulous
bleating of the lambs, who were rejoicing over their dams' arrival.
Father Buschman waited impatiently until the last sheep had entered,
and then hastened toward the large farm house to the left of the
Anna Sophia was just leaving the house, paper in hand, and advanced,
with a cheerful smile, to meet him.
"Father," said she, "I have the paper, and we are the first to read
it. The good burgher and his wife are in the country, and the
overseer allowed me to take it. But, hear, father, he says he
glanced over it hastily, and saw something about a Prussian
The old shepherd's face sparkled with joy, and he sought to draw
Anna away with him. "Come, come, my child," said he, "to my house,
where it is still and quiet, there we will read of our king's
But Anna shook her beautiful head.
"No, father," said she, "it would not be right to read the paper
alone today. The king's victories belong to his people, to each one
of his subjects, and every heart will beat more proudly when it
hears of them, and thank God that He has blessed the weapons of
their king. It is not for us to keep this joy from our men and
women. Charles Henry, with the overseer's permission, had already
assembled the villagers upon the open space under the beech-trees.
See! all are hastening with their work. Come, father, we must read
to our neighbors and friends our king's victories. A victory belongs
to the whole village, but should there ever be news of a lost
battle, then, father, we will read it to ourselves."
"God forbid that this should come to pass!" said the old man,
following Anna to the place of general meeting.
NEWS OF BATTLE.
The inhabitants of the village had already assembled on the square,
under the great linden, and as old Buschman now approached,
supported by Anna Sophia's arm, they were joyfully greeted.
Anna waved the paper like a white flag in the air, and, hastening
the old man forward impatiently, she exclaimed,
"Our king has won a battle!"
Shouts of triumph were the result.
"Did he whip the French, or the Austrians?" asked one of the
peasants, as he drew close to Anna, and tried to seize the paper.
Anna drew it back hastily.
"The steward sent it to me, to read to the community, and I shall do
"Tell us, Anna," said another, "has he beaten the Russians or the
cunning Saxons? I wish he could trample them all under foot."
"He will, if he has not yet done so," cried old Buschman.
"Children, our king will conquer all his enemies; he is a hero, and
has only brave fellows to fight for him. Just think of the thirty
noble boys that our village alone gave him!"
"Read, Anna, read!" cried the curious crowd. And Anna, ready to
please them, walked under the linden, and stepped upon the wooden
beach that surrounded the tree.
Father Buschman placed himself at her feet, and several old men and
women followed his example. The young people gathered around in
groups, and gazed respectfully at the youthful girl, whose bright,
beautiful face glowed as if lighted by the evening sun. The little
boys, who had followed their parents from curiosity, were amusing
themselves in turning somersets.
Anna now raised her voice and began to read in a bright tone. It was
a brilliant and inspiring account of the battle of Losovitz, and
Anna read it in breathless haste and burning cheeks. As she read how
the Prussians were at first defeated by the powerful army of the
Austrians under General Brown, whose terrific artillery sent death
and ruin into the Prussian ranks, the women sobbed softly, and the
men could hardly suppress their sighs. They breathed more freely
when they heard that the king, adopting a new expedient, advanced a
part of his cavalry into the centre of his weakened infantry, and
thus turned the tide of battle. Their courage failed on hearing that
this advantage was soon lost, the enemy still advanced in unbroken
columns, and almost forced the Prussians to retreat. The left wing
of infantry, commanded by the Duke of Severn, which had fired
unceasingly, had exhausted their ammunition, while the Austrian
General Wied, who defended the post of Losovitz, kept up a brisk
cannonading. The Prussian warriors pleaded loudly for powder and
Anna stopped reading, her heart beat loudly, she leaned her head
against the tree and closed her eyes in terror. The old people
sitting at her feet prayed and wept aloud, and from the crowd there
arose sounds of grief and despair. In their terror they had
forgotten that it was of a victory and not a defeat they were to
hear, and that the battle must at last have ended to their
"Read on, Anna," said the old shepherd, after a long pause. "Are we
such cowards as not to be able even to hear an account of this
murderous battle in which our sons were brave enough to fight?"
"Read on, read on!" was heard here and there.
Anna unclosed her eyes and raised the paper. Breathless stillness
reigned anew. Anna read,
"In this fearful moment the Duke of Bevern felt that a decisive step
must be taken, and springing in front of his troops with drawn
sword, he cried, 'Boys, you have no more ammunition! Do not be
discouraged! Fight with your bayonets!' These words, spoken by a
brave and beloved leader, gave heart to all. They closed their
ranks, and inspired by the example of their officer, attacked the
enemy boldly. In vain Baron Stahremberg hastened forward with his
six battalions--uselessly Baron Wied tried to defend the house of
Losovitz in which his grenadiers had taken refuge. Nothing could
withstand the Prussians. Like a raging hurricane they fell upon the
enemy, who were forced to give way to them. A part of the Austrian
force sprang into the Elbe, and tried to save their lives by
swimming. Losovitz was tired, and all its defenders fled. The
Prussians had gained a complete victory." [Footnote:
"Characteristics of the Seven Years' War," vol. i., p. 63]
Anna Sophia could read no further. The delight of all was intense--
wives embraced their husbands with tears of joy--old men thanked God
aloud--and the boys, who had ceased their play and been listening
attentively, made bolder and higher somersets and shouted more
lustily. Anna Sophia alone said nothing. Her tall, slender, but full
form was leaning against the tree--an inspired smile was on her lip,
and her eyes, raised to heaven, beamed with holy fire. She stood as
if in a dream, and at first did not hear old Buschman ask her to
read on. When he repeated his request, she was startled, and turned
her glance slowly down from heaven upon the joyful crowd that
"What do you wish, father?" she asked.
The old shepherd arose, and, taking his cap from his gray head, said
solemnly, "You have read us of the victory, Anna Sophia; now read us
of those who gave their lives for it. Tell us of the dead."
"Yes, read us a list of the dead!" cried the others, uncovering
their heads respectfully.
Anna sought for the list, and read slowly the names of the fallen.
Their faces brightened more and more, none belonging to them were
dead. Suddenly Anna paused, and uttered a low cry, then looked at
Father Buschman with a terrified expression. Perhaps the old man
understood her, for he trembled a little, and his head fell upon his
breast, but he raised it proudly again. Looking almost commandingly
at Anna, he said,
"Read on, my daughter."
But Anna could not read. The paper trembled in her hand, and her
face was pale as death.
"Read on," repeated the old man--"read on, I, your father, command
you to read!"
Anna sighed deeply. "I will obey," she said, and casting a glance of
inexpressible sorrow at the old man, two new names fell from her
lips and tears to consecrate them. "Anton Buschman, Frederick
Buschman," and then taking advantage of the breathless stillness,
she added, "The two brothers were the first to attack the enemy--
they died the death of heroes!" She ceased. The paper dropped from
her trembling hands and fell at the old man's feet.
The weeping eyes of the crowd were turned upon old Buschman. As if
crushed by the storm, he had staggered to the bench; he bowed his
head upon his breast that no one might see the expression of his
face; his trembling hands clasped on his knees, made a touching
picture of silent sorrow.
His son Henry, who had been standing with the others, stepped softly
to him, and kneeling down, put his arms around the old man's neck
and spoke to him tenderly.
The old man started up with terror--his glance turned from his son
to the crowd, and met everywhere sympathizing and troubled faces.
"Well," he asked, in a hard, rough voice, "why do you weep? Did you
not hear that my sons died the death of heroes? Have they not fallen
for their country and their king? It would become us to weep if they
were cowards and fled in battle. But Anna Sophia told us they died
the death of heroes. Therefore, let us think of them with love and
pride. 'Blessed are the dead, for they see God!'"
He sank upon his knees and murmured low prayers for the repose of
the dead, and now he wept for the first time. At his side knelt his
son and Anna Sophia; and the crowd, overcome by emotion and
sympathy, followed their example, and with bended knees murmured the
pious prayers of the Church for the dead.
The solemn stillness was broken by the beating of drums and the
tramping of horses. A company of infantry, headed by the drummer and
fifer, marched up the street and approached the villagers, who,
rising from their knees, gazed anxiously at the troops.
"They are Prussians," said the mayor, who was amongst the crowd.
"They are Prussians," repeated the crowd, with brightening faces.
Headed by the mayor, they went forward to meet and conduct them to
the middle of the square, where they halted. The mayor then
approached the officer and asked him what he desired.
The officer, after making the drummer a sign, who beat the roll
powerfully, drew out a roll of paper and unfolded it. The villagers
pushed forward and waited with breathless attention. Close to the
officer stood the old shepherd, next to him his son and Anna Sophia,
who was staring, pale and trembling, at the officer, who now began
This paper commanded the unmarried men of the village to place
themselves under the king's flag, and to take their places in the
ranks of those who fought for their country. Harvest was at an end,
and the king could now demand the fighting men of villages and
cities to join him and share with him his dangers and his victories.
The officer then commanded the mayor to give him early the next
morning a list of the unmarried men in the village, that he might
call them out and conduct them to Cleve for further orders.
A hollow murmur ran through the crowd when the officer had finished.
The joyful and inspired emotion they had just felt gave way to
discontent and gloom. All had been ready to celebrate the victory,
but found it far from desirable to enter the ranks.
The old shepherd looked angrily at the despairing crowd, and an
expression of pious peace spread over his venerable countenance.
Turning to the officer, he said, in a loud voice,
"I had six sons in the army; two fell in the battle of Losovitz, and
my poor old heart still weeps for the dead, but it is also content
that the king calls for another sacrifice. I have one other son; he
is unmarried, has no one to take care of, neither wife nor child nor
his old father, for, thank God, I still have strength to support
myself. Go, then, my son Charles Henry, the king calls you; and if
it must be so, lie down like your brothers in a heroic grave."
He ceased and laid his hand, as if with a blessing, upon his son's
head; but Henry did not partake of his father's enthusiasm. His face
was pale as death, and his powerful frame trembled as if with fever.
Anna Sophia saw it; her beaming face paled, and her eye sank down
The officer, who had noticed the dejection of the people, wished to
give them time to recover.
"Leave every thing alone until tomorrow," he said. "Tomorrow, sir
mayor, you will hand me the list, and I am sure that the unmarried
boys will obey their king's call with joy. Now, sir mayor, I beg you
to conduct me to the courthouse, where I will pass the night, and
see that my soldiers find good quarters there, and in the village."
He nodded kindly to the people, and accompanied by the mayor, moved
onward. The crowd followed them silently, and the gay village boys
danced gleefully around the fine procession.
THE CERTIFICATE OF ENLISTMENT.
Anna Sophia returned to her solitary home in deep meditation, and
not even in the stillness of her room could she regain her
accustomed serenity and cheerfulness. Her thoughts were far away;
for the first time her room appeared to her gloomy and deserted. The
memories of the past did not now speak to her, and when she threw
herself upon her bed, it was without having bid her parents
But even then she could find no rest. Strange visions were wafted
before her waking eyes, wonderful dreams took hold of her senses.
She saw her victorious king standing before her, his sparkling eyes
beckoning her to follow him. Then she saw herself in the front of an
army, the fluttering banner in her hand, the glittering shield on
her breast, followed by many brave warriors, who were all gazing
proudly upon her. And again she saw herself. But now she was all
alone--alone by the side of an open grave, with a gaping wound in
her breast, raising her weary eyes upward and murmuring with pale
lips, "How sweet to die for one's country!" Then the brothers of her
betrothed raised themselves slowly from among the dead, and signed
to her to follow them. She seemed to hear them saying, "Revenge our
death, our brother is faint-hearted!"
At this thought, she raised herself upon her couch.
"He is a coward," murmured she. "I saw him turn pale and tremble,
and I felt as if a sword had entered my heart and destroyed all my
love for him. Yes, he is a coward, and instead of rejoicing at the
thought of a battle, he trembles."
She covered her face with her hands, as if to hide from the night
the burning blush of shame that mounted to her brow. Thus she sat
for hours motionless, as if listening to the voices whispering to
her from within, until the first gleam of morning, the first ray of
sun entered the open window to arouse her from her waking dreams.
She sprang from her bed, and dressed herself with trembling
eagerness. The sun had arisen, and Charles Henry was no doubt
already in the woods, at the place she had appointed to meet him
yesterday morning. When bidding him good-by, she had whispered to
him to meet her there in the morning at sunrise; she did not then
know why she had appointed this meeting. She well knew it was not
the longing to pass an undisturbed hour with her lover that had
actuated her. Anna had no such wish; her heart was too pure, her
love too cold. She had only felt that she would have something to
say to him; she knew not what herself.
But now she well knew what she had to say; it was all clear, and
therefore she was happy and cheerful. It seemed to her as if her
soul had taken flight, and as if there was a lark within her singing
songs of joy, and with these feelings she hastened down the road
into the woods.
At the appointed place stood Charles Henry, and as his betrothed
approached him, so proud, so smiling, sparkling with beauty and
youth, it appeared to him that he had never seen her so exquisitely
beautiful; to her, as he advanced smilingly to meet her, he had
never seemed so small, so devoid of attractions.
When they met, they looked at each other in amazement--there was a
change in both.
"Anna Sophia," said Charles Henry at last, sadly, "you have
something against me."
"Yes," said she, "I have something against you, otherwise I would
not have appointed this meeting here, where we can be heard by no
one. Were this that I have to tell you something good, something
pleasant, all the world might stand by and hear it, but as it is
something painful, it must be heard by you alone."
She seated herself silently upon the ground, signing to Charles
Henry to follow her example.
"It was here," said Anna, hastily," that you first told me of your
"Yes, it was here, Anna," repeated he, "and you then told me that my
love was returned, and that you would be my wife when we had saved
enough to commence housekeeping. But still I have always felt that
you were not kind to me, not as the other girls in the village are
to their lovers. You have never permitted me to come under your
window at night; I have never been allowed to take you in my arms
and kiss you tenderly, as the others boys do their sweethearts; and
never, no never, have you given me a kiss unasked; and, after all my
entreaties, you kissed me only in the presence of my old father and
"It is not in my nature to be very tender," said Anna, shrugging her
shoulders. "I read in one of my books lately a fairy tale, in which
there was a young girl, of whom it was said that a bad fairy had
bound her heart in iron, to prevent its full play; the girl was
constantly bewailing this fatality, saying, 'I can only like, but
never love.' Perhaps it is thus with me, but I do not weep over it,
like the foolish girl in the book."
"And was this what you had to tell me?" asked Charles Henry,
She gave him a look that sent the jeering smile from his lip.
"No, Charles Henry," said she, "this is not what I have to tell
"Well, what is it then, Anna, for this wounds me?" said he
"Perhaps the other will do so also," said she, sadly. "But it must
come out, I cannot suppress it. Hear, Charles Henry, what I have to
say, and if it is not true, forgive me. I fear you do not go
willingly into the army, and that your heart does not beat with joy
at the thought of becoming a soldier."
"You are right," said Charles Henry, laughing, "I do not go
willingly; and how should it be otherwise? it is a wild, disorderly
life, and it strikes me it cannot be right for men who, our pastor
says, should love each other like brothers, to vie in cutting off
each other's limbs, and to fire upon each other without mercy or
pity, as if one were the butcher, the other the poor ox, who only
resists because he does not wish to give up his life; and in this
case all would be the butchers, and none the oxen, therefore each
one gives his stroke bravely to preserve his own life."
"It would be sad if it were as you say," said Anna, shaking her
head, "but it is not so. The true soldier does not think of his
life; he thinks of his country, for which he will gladly shed his
blood--of his king, to whom he has sworn to be true--and of the
glory which he will gain for himself!"
Charles Henry looked in amazement upon Anna Sophia's agitated
"How do you know all this?" said he. "Who has told you that these
are soldiers' thoughts?"
"I have read of it in my books, Charles Henry; in one of them there
is the history of a man whose name was Leonidas. He defended, with
three hundred of his soldiers, against many thousands of his enemy,
a narrow passway. He well knew that he could not conquer; his
soldiers also knew it, but they preferred death rather than the
humiliation of laying down their weapons and praying for mercy. And
every man of them died joyfully, giving up his life for his
"Well, I must say they were fools!" cried Charles Henry, excitedly;"
if I had been there, I would not have done so--I would have sued for
"Yes," said Anna Sophia thoughtfully--"yes, I think you would have
done as you say; and I have been wondering all through the past
night whether you would willingly and joyfully go to battle?"
"I? God forefend; I will not go joyfully--I will not go at all! This
morning I intend going to our pastor to receive from him a
certificate, showing that I cannot join the army, as I have a
decrepit old father to support, who would die without me."
"Charles Henry, your father is not decrepit, nor very old, nor would
he starve if you were not here, for he can support himself."
"But he may, at any moment, become unable to help himself, and then
he would need me; I would have no rest day or night when far away,
but would be thinking if my poor old father, lying sick and helpless
in his hut, with no one near to give him a piece of bread or a cup
"Let not this trouble you, Charles Henry," said Anna, solemnly. "I
swear to you that I will love him and care for him as a daughter. He
shall want for nothing; and when he can work no longer, I am strong
and healthy enough to work for both of us. Go with a peaceful mind,
I will be here in your place."
"No, no!" cried Charles Henry, turning pale; "I will not join the
army. I cannot, I will not be separated from you, Anna. You have
sworn to be my wife, and I will beseech the pastor to join us to-
day; then they cannot take me away from here, for I will have a
father and a wife to take care of."
"Not for me, Charles Henry, for I will not marry yet. Have we saved
enough to commence housekeeping? Is this a time to marry and build a
nest, when war, misery, and ruin are raging throughout the country?
No, no! Charles Henry, we cannot marry now."
"Because you do not wish it, Anna. But it shall be, for I have your
promise, and you must keep it. Ah, Anna Sophia, you do not know what
a longing I have to call you my wife!"
"But I have no such longing," said she, drily; "no desire whatever
to marry; and I will tell you, that though you wish to marry to-day,
it is not out of love for me, but to save yourself."
His eyes sunk before the large, searching ones fixed upon him.
"To save myself, and from what, Anna Sophia?"
"From being a soldier, Charles Henry! For last evening, I read upon
your countenance that you were devoid of courage."
"You read that?"
"Yes, Charles Henry, fear was stamped upon your brow."
"Well, then," said he, after a pause, "you have read aright. I have
no courage, I fear for myself. I am not accustomed to stand still,
while some one is pointing his gun at me, and to cry, 'Long live the
king!' when the cannon-balls are flying around me; to attack men who
have done me no harm, and to whom I wish to do none. When I think
upon the possibility of my being compelled to do this. I tremble,
and my heart ceases to beat. Do not require it of me, Anna, for if I
have to go, I will fly at the first fight, and come back here. They
may then shoot me as a deserter, if they choose; I prefer to die
rather than to kill any one else."
Anna Sophia sprang from her seat with a cry of horror.
"I thought so," said she, in a low voice; and, crossing her arms
upon her breast, she walked to and fro, thoughtfully.
Charles Henry looked at her in amazement, but had not the courage to
speak to her; for she was so completely changed, that he was almost
afraid of her. There was something so cold and proud about her to-
day, something aristocratic in her beauty. He thought to himself,
"It is thus that a queen would look when dressed as a peasant." Anna
Sophia stood still before him at last, and gave him a tender, almost
"Charles Henry," said she, "you shall not join the army; I will not
He sprang from his seat with a cry of joy.
"You will then marry me, Anna Sophia?" said he, exultingly. "You
will become my wife, so as to keep me here? You love me too much to
let me go!" He tried to embrace her, but she waved him off.
"No," said she, "I will not marry you, but, still, you must not join
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