FREDERICK THE GREAT AND HIS FAMILY
Part 8 out of 16
own words.] If this passage is impossible, we will strike it out."
"If your majesty does that, it will be a beautiful composition, and
I would be proud myself to have composed it."
The king smiled, well pleased. It was evident that this praise of
his proud and stern master was most acceptable to the hero of
Leuthen and Rossbach.
THE BROKEN HEART.
A carriage stopped before the pleasure palace of Oranienburg. The
lady who sat in it, cast anxious, questioning glances at the
windows, and breathed a heavy sigh when she saw the closed shutters,
and observed the absence of life and movement in the palace. At this
moment an officer stepped hastily from the great portal to greet the
lady, and assist her to descend.
"Does he still live?" said she, breathlessly.
"He lives, countess, and awaits you eagerly!" said the officer.
She did not reply, but raised her large, melancholy eyes thankfully
to heaven, and her lips moved as if in prayer.
They stepped silently and rapidly through the dazzling saloons, now
drear and deserted. Their pomp and splendor was painful; it
harmonized but little with their sad presentiments.
"We have arrived, countess," said the officer, as they stood before
a closed and thickly-curtained door. "The prince is in this garden-
The lady's heart beat loudly, and her lips were pale as death. She
leaned for a moment against the door, and tried to gather strength.
"I am ready I announce me to the prince!"
"That is unnecessary, countess. The prince's nerves are so
sensitive, that the slightest noise does not escape him. He heard
the rolling of your carriage-wheels, and knows that you are here. He
is expecting you, and has commanded that you come unannounced. Have
the goodness to enter; you will be alone with the prince." He raised
the curtain, and the countess looked back once more.
"Is there any hope?" said she, to her companion.
"None! The physician says he must die to-day!"
The countess opened the door so noiselessly, that not the slightest
sound betrayed her presence. She sank upon a chair near the
entrance, and fixed her tearful eyes with inexpressible agony upon
the pale form, which lay upon the bed, near the open door, leading
into the garden.
What!--this wan, emaciated figure, that countenance of deadly
pallor, those fallen cheeks, those bloodless lips, the hollow
temples, thinly shaded by the lifeless, colorless hair--was that
Augustus William?--the lover of her youth, the worshipped dream-
picture of her whole life, the never-effaced ideal of her faithful
As she looked upon him, the sweetly-painful, sad, and yet glorious
past, seemed to fill her soul. She felt that her heart was young,
and beat, even now, as ardently for him who lay dying before her, as
in the early time, when they stood side by side in the fulness of
youth, beauty, and strength--when they stood side by side for the
At that time, she died! Youth, happiness, heart were buried; but
now, as she looked upon him, the coffin unclosed, the shroud fell
back, and the immortal spirits greeted each other with the love of
the olden time.
And now, Laura wept no more. Enthusiasm, inspiration were written
upon her face. She felt no earthly pain; the heavenly peace of the
resurrection morning filled her soul. She arose and approached the
prince. He did not see her; his eyes were closed. Perhaps he
slumbered; perhaps the king of terrors had already pressed his first
bewildering kiss upon the pale brow. Laura bent over and looked upon
him. Her long, dark ringlets fell around his face like a mourning
veil. She listened to his light breathing, and, bowing lower, kissed
the poor, wan lips.
He opened his eyes very quietly, without surprise. Peacefully,
joyfully he looked up at her. And Laura--she asked no longer if that
wasted form could be the lover of her youth. In his eyes she found
the long-lost treasure--the love, the youth, the soul of the
Slowly the prince raised his arms, and drew her toward him. She sank
down, and laid her head by his cold cheek. Her hot breath wafted him
a new life-current, and seemed to call back his soul from the
For a long time no word was spoken. How could they speak, in this
first consecrated moment? They felt so much, that language failed.
They lay heart to heart, and only God understood their hollow sighs,
their unspoken prayers, their suppressed tears. Only God was with
them! God sent through the open doors the fresh fragrance of the
flowers; He sent the winds, His messengers, through the tall trees,
and their wild, melancholy voices were like a solemn organ,
accompanying love's last hymn. In the distant thickets the
nightingale raised her melancholy notes, for love's last greeting.
Thus eternal Nature greets the dying sons of men.
God was with His children. Their thoughts were prayers; their eyes,
which at first were fixed upon each other, now turned pleadingly to
"I shall soon be there!" said Prince Augustus--"soon! I shall live a
true life, and this struggle with death will soon be over. For
sixteen years I have been slowly dying, day by day, hour by hour.
Laura, it has been sixteen years, has it not?"
She bowed silently.
"No," said he, gazing earnestly upon her; "it was but yesterday. I
know now that it was but yesterday. You are just the same--
unchanged, my Laura. This is the same angel-face which I have
carried in my heart. Nothing is changed, and I thank God for it. It
would have been a great grief to look upon you and find a strange
face by my side. This is my Laura, my own Laura, who left me sixteen
years ago. And now, look at me steadily; see what life has made of
me; see how it has mastered me--tortured me to death with a thousand
wounds! I call no man my murderer, but I die of these wounds. Oh,
Laura! why did you forsake me? Why did you not leave this miserable,
hypocritical, weary world of civilization, and follow me to the New
World, where the happiness of a true life awaited us?"
"I dared not," said she; "God demanded this offering of me, and
because I loved you boundlessly I was strong to submit. God also
knows what it cost me, and how these many years I have struggled
with my heart, and tried to learn to forget."
"Struggle no longer, Laura, I am dying; when I am dead you dare not
She embraced him with soft tenderness.
"No, no," whispered she, "God is merciful! He will not rob me of the
only consolation of my joyless, solitary life. I had only this. To
think he lives, he breathes the same air, he looks up into the same
heavens--the same quiet stars greet him and me. And a day will come
in which millions of men will shout and call him their king; and
when I look upon his handsome face, and see him in the midst of his
people, surrounded by pomp and splendor, I dare say to myself, That
is my work. I loved him more than I loved myself, therefore he wears
a crown--I had the courage not only to die for him, but to live
without him, and therefore is he a king. Oh, my beloved, say not
that you are dying!"
"If you love me truly, Laura, you will not wish me to live. Indeed I
have long been dying. For sixteen years I have felt the death-worm
in my heart--it gnaws and gnaws. I have tried to crush it--I wished
to live, because I had promised you to bear my burden. I wished to
prove myself a man. I gave the love which you laid at my feet,
bathed in our tears and our blood, to my fatherland. I was told that
I must marry, to promote the interest of my country, and I did so. I
laid a mask over my face, and a mask over my heart. I wished to play
my part in the drama of life to the end; I wished to honor my royal
birth to which fate had condemned me. But it appears I was a bad
actor. I was cast out from my service, my gay uniform and royal star
torn from my breast. I, a prince, was sent home a humiliated,
degraded, ragged beggar. I crept with my misery and my shame into
this corner, and no one followed me. No one showed a spark of love
for the poor, spurned cast-away. Love would have enabled me to
overcome all, to defy the world, and to oppose its slanders boldly.
I was left alone to bear my shame and my despair--wholly alone. I
have a wife, I have children, and I am alone; they live far away
from me, and at the moment of my death they will smile and be happy.
I am the heir of a throne, but a poor beggar; I asked only of fate a
little love, but I asked in vain. Fate had no pity--only when I am
dead will I be a prince again; then they will heap honors upon my
dead body. Oh, Laura! how it burns in my heart--how terrible is this
hell-fire of shame! It eats up the marrow of my bones and devours my
brain. Oh, my head, my head! how terrible is this pain!"
With a loud sob he sank back on the pillow; his eyes closed, great
drops of sweat stood on his brow, and the breath seemed struggling
in his breast.
Laura bowed over him, she wiped away the death-sweat with her hair,
and hot tears fell on the poor wan face. These tears aroused him--he
opened his eyes.
"I have got something to say," whispered he; "I feel that I shall
soon be well. When the world says of me, 'He is dead,' I shall have
just awaked from death. There above begins the true life; what is
here so called is only a pitiful prologue. We live here only that we
may learn to wish for death. Oh, my Laura! I shall soon live, love,
and be happy."
"Oh, take me with you, my beloved," cried Laura, kneeling before
him, dissolved in tears. "Leave me not alone--it is so sad, so
solitary in this cold world! Take me with you, my beloved!"
He heard her not! Death had already touched him with the point of
his dark wings, and spread his mantle over him. His spirit struggled
with the exhausted body and panted to escape. He no longer heard
when Laura called, but he still lived: his eyes were wide open and
he spoke again. But they were single, disconnected words, which
belonged to the dreamland and the forms of the invisible world which
his almost disembodied spirit now looked upon.
Once he said, in a loud voice, and this time he looked with full
consciousness upon Laura, "I close my life--a life of sorrow.
Winterfeldt has shortened my days, but I die content in knowing that
so bad, so dangerous a man is no longer in the army." [Footnote: The
prince's own words. He died the 12th of June, 1758, at thirty-six
years of age. As his adjutant, Von Hagen, brought the news of his
death to the king, Frederick asked, "Of what disease did my brother
"Grief and shame shortened his life," said the officer. Frederick
turned his back on him without a reply, and Von Hagen was never
The king erected a monument to Winterfeldt, Ziethen, and Schwerin,
but he left it to his brother Henry to erect one to the Prince of
Prussia. This was done in Reinenz, where a lofty pyramid was built
in honor of the heroes of the Seven Years' War. The names of all the
generals, and all the battles they had gained were engraven upon it,
and it was crowned by a bust of Augustus William, the great-
grandfather of the present King of Prussia.
The king erected a statue to Winterfeldt, and forgot his brother,
and now Prince Henry forgot to place Winterfeldt's name among the
heroes of the war. When the monument was completed, the prince made
a speech, which was full of enthusiastic praise of his beloved
brother, so early numbered with the dead. Prince Henry betrayed by
insinuation the strifes and difficulties which always reigned
between the king and himself; he did not allude to the king during
his speech, and did not class him among the heroes of the Seven
In speaking of the necessity of a monument in memory of his best
beloved brother, Augustus William, he alluded to the statue of
Winterfeldt, and added: "L'abus des richesses et du pouvoir eleve
des statues de marbre et de bronze a ceux qui n'etaient pas dignes
de passer a la posterite sous l'embleme de l'honneur."--Rouille's
"Vie du Prince Henry."
Recently a signal honor has been shown to Prince Augustus William,
his statue has the principal place on the monument erected in honor
of Frederick the Great in Berlin.--Rouille.]
His mind wandered, and he thought he was on the battle-field, and
called out, loudly:
"Forward! forward to the death!"
Then all was still but the song of the birds and the sighing winds.
Laura knelt and prayed. When she turned her glance from the
cloudless heavens upon her beloved, his countenance was changed.
There was a glory about it, and his great, wide-opened eyes flashed
with inspiration; he raised his dying head and greeted the trees and
flowers with his last glance.
"How beautiful is the world when one is about to die," said he, with
a sweet smile. "Farewell, world! Farewell, Laura! Come, take me in
your arms--let me die in the arms of love! Hate has its reign in
this world, but love goes down with us into the cold grave.
His head fell upon Laura's shoulder; one last gasp, one last
shudder, and the heir of a throne, the future ruler of millions, was
nothing but a corpse.
The trees whispered gayly--no cloud shadowed the blue heavens; the
birds sang, the flowers bloomed, and yet in that eventful moment a
prince was born, a pardoned soul was wafted to the skies.
Love pressed the last kiss upon the poor, wan lips; love closed the
weary eyes; love wept over him; love prayed for his soul.
"Hate has her reign in this poor world, love goes down with us into
the dark tomb."
THE KING AND HIS OLD AND NEW ENEMIES.
Three years, three long, terrible years had passed since the
beginning of this fearful war; since King Frederick of Prussia had
stood alone, without any ally but distant England, opposed by all
These three years had somewhat undeceived the proud and self-
confident enemies of Frederick. The pope still called him the
Marquis of Brandenburg, and the German emperor declared that,
notwithstanding the adverse circumstances threatening him on every
side, the King of Prussia was still a brave and undaunted adversary.
His enemies, alter having for a long time declared that they would
extinguish him and reduce him once more to the rank of the little
Prince-Elector of Brandenburg, now began to fear him. From every
battle, from every effort, from every defeat, King Frederick rose up
with a clear brow and flashing eye, and unshaken courage. Even the
lost battles did not cast a shadow upon the lustre of his victories.
In both the one and the other he had shown himself a hero, greater
even after the battles in his composure and decision, in his
unconquerable energy, in the circumspection and presence of mind by
which he grasped at a glance all the surroundings, and converted the
most threatening into favorable circumstances. After a great victory
his enemies might indeed say they had conquered the King of Prussia,
but never that they had subdued him. He stood ever undaunted, ever
ready for the contest, prepared to attack them when they least
expected it; to take advantage of every weak point, and to profit by
every incautious movement. The fallen ranks of his brave soldiers
appeared to be dragons' teeth, which produced armed warriors.
In the camps of the allied Austrians, Saxons, and Russians hunger
and sickness prevailed. In Vienna, Petersburg, and Dresden, the
costs and burden of the war were felt to be almost insupportable.
The Prussian army was healthy, their magazines well stocked, and,
thanks to the English subsidy, the treasury seemed inexhaustible.
Three years, as we have said, of never-ceasing struggle had gone by.
The heroic brow of the great Frederick had been wreathed with new
laurels. The battles of Losovitz, of Rossbach, of Leuthen, and of
Zorndorf were such dazzling victories that they were not even
obscured by the defeats of Collin and Hochkirch. The allies made
their shouts of victory resound throughout all Europe, and used
every means to produce the impression upon the armies and the people
that these victories were decisive.
Another fearful enemy, armed with words of Holy Writ, was now added
to the list of those who had attacked him with the sword. This new
adversary was Pope Clement XIII. He mounted the apostolic throne in
May, 1758, and immediately declared himself the irreconcilable foe
of the little Marquis of Brandenburg, who had dared to hold up
throughout Prussia all superstition and bigotry to mockery and
derision; who had illuminated the holy gloom and obscurity of the
church with the clear light of reason and truth; who misused the
priests and religious orders, and welcomed and assisted in Prussia
all those whom the holy mother Catholic Church banished for heresies
Benedict, the predecessor of the present pope, was also known to
have been the enemy of Frederick, but he was wise enough to be
silent and not draw down upon the cloisters, and colleges, and
Catholics of Prussia the rage of the king.
But Clement, in his fanatical zeal, was not satisfied to pursue this
course. He was resolved to do battle against this heretical king. He
fulminated the anathemas of the church and bitter imprecations
against him, and showered down words of blessing and salvation upon
all those who declared themselves his foes. Because of this
fanatical hatred, Austria received a new honor, a new title from the
hands of the pope. As a reward for her enmity to this atheistical
marquis, and the great service which she had rendered in this war,
the pope bestowed the title of apostolic majesty upon the empress
and her successors. Not only the royal house of Austria, but the
generals and the whole army of pious and believing Christians,
should know and feel that the blessing of the pope rested upon their
arms, protecting them from adversity and defeat. The glorious
victory of Hochkirch must be solemnly celebrated, and the armies of
the allies incited to more daring deeds of arms.
For this reason, Pope Clement sent to Field-Marshal Daun, who had
commanded at the battle of Hochkirch, a consecrated hat and sword,
thus changing this political into a religious war. It was no longer
a question of earthly possessions, but a holy contest against an
heretical enemy of mother church. Up to this time, these consecrated
gifts had been only bestowed upon generals who had already subdued
unbelievers or subjugated barbarians. [Footnote: OEuvres Posthumes,
But King Frederick of Prussia laughed at these attacks of God's
vicegerent. To his enemies, armed with the sword, he opposed his own
glittering blade; to his popish enemy, armed with the tongue and the
pen, he opposed the same weapons. He met the first in the open
field, the last in winter quarters, through those biting, mocking,
keen Fliegenden Blattern, which at that time made all Europe roar
with laughter, and crushed and brought to nothing the great deeds of
the pope by the curse of ridicule.
The consecrated hat and sword of Field-Marshal Daun lost its value
through the letter of thanks from Daun to the pope, which the king
intercepted, and which, even in Austria, was laughed at and made
The congratulatory letter of the Princess Soubise to Daun was also
made public, and produced general merriment.
When the pope called Frederick the "heretical Marchese di
Brandenburgo," the king returned the compliment by calling him the
"Grand Lama," and delighted himself over the assumed infallibility
of the vicegerent of the Most High.
But the king not only scourged the pope with his satirical pen--the
modest and prudish Empress Maria Theresa was also the victim of his
wit. He wrote a letter, supposed to be from the Marquise de
Pompadour to the Queen of Hungary, in which the inexplicable
friendship between the virtuous empress and the luxurious mistress
of Louis was mischievously portrayed. This letter of Frederick's was
spread abroad in every direction, and people were not only naive
enough to read it, but to believe it genuine. The Austrian court saw
itself forced to the public declaration that all these letters were
false; that Field-Marshal Daun had not received a consecrated wig,
but a hat; and that the empress had never received a letter of this
character from the Marquise de Pompadour. [Footnote: In this letter
the marquise complained bitterly that the empress had made it
impossible for her to hasten to Vienna and offer her the homage, the
lore, the friendship she cherished for her in her heart. The empress
had established a court of virtue and modesty in Vienna, and this
tribunal could hardly receive the Pompadour graciously. The
marquise, therefore, entreated the empress to execute judgment
against this fearful tribunal of virtue, and to bow to the yoke of
the omnipotent goddess Venus. All these letters can be seen in the
"Supplement aux OEuvres Posthumes."] These Fliegende Blattern, as we
have said, were the weapons with which King Frederick fought against
his enemies when the rough, inclement winter made it impossible for
him to meet them in the open field. In the winter quarters in 1758
most of those letters appeared; and no one but the Marquis d'Argens,
the most faithful friend of Frederick, guessed who was the author of
these hated and feared satires.
The enemies of the king also made use of this winter rest to make
every possible aggression; they had their acquaintances and spies
throughout Germany; under various pretences and disguises, they were
scattered abroad--even in the highest court circles of Berlin they
were zealously at work. By flattery, and bribery, and glittering
promises, they made friends and adherents, and in the capital of
Prussia they found ready supporters and informers. They were not
satisfied with this--they were haughty and bold enough to seek for
allies among the Prussians, and hoped to obtain entrance into the
walls of the cities, and possession of the fortresses by treachery.
The Austrian and Russian prisoners confined in the fortress of
Kustrin conspired to give it up to the enemy. The number of Russian
prisoners sent to the fortress of Kustrin after the battle of
Zorndorf, was twice as numerous as the garrison, and if they could
succeed in getting possession of the hundred cannon captured at
Zorndorf, and placed as victorious trophies in the market-place, it
would be an easy thing to fall upon and overcome the garrison.
This plan was all arranged, and about to be carried out, but it was
discovered the day before its completion. The Prussian commander
doubled the guard before the casemates in which three thousand
Russian prisoners were confined, and arrested the Russian officers.
Their leader, Lieutenant von Yaden of Courland, was accused,
condemned by the court-martial, and, by the express command of the
king, broken upon the wheel. Even this terrible example bore little
fruit. Ever new attempts were being made--ever new conspiracies
discovered amongst the prisoners; and whilst the armies of the
allies were attacking Prussia outwardly, the prisoners were carrying
on a not less dangerous guerilla war--the more to be feared because
it was secret--not in the open field and by day, but under the
shadow of night and the veil of conspiracy.
Nowhere was this warfare carried on more vigorously than in Berlin.
All the French taken at Rossbach, all the Austrians captured at
Leuthen, and the Russian officers of high rank taken at Zorndorf,
had been sent by the king to Berlin. They had the most enlarged
liberty; the whole city was their prison, and only their word of
honor bound them not to leave the walls of Berlin. Besides this, all
were zealous to alleviate the sorrows of the "poor captives," and by
fetes and genial amusements to make them forget their captivity. The
doors of all the first houses were opened to the distinguished
strangers--everywhere they were welcome guests, and there was no
assembly at the palace to which they were not invited.
Even in these fearful times, balls and fetes were given at the
court. Anxious and sad faces were hidden under gay masks, and the
loud sound of music and dancing drowned the heavy sighs of the
desponding. While the Austrians, Russians, and Prussians strove with
each other on the bloody battle-field, the Berlin ladies danced the
graceful Parisienne dances with the noble prisoners. This was now
Truly there were many aching hearts in this gay and merry city, but
they hid their grief and tears in their quiet, lonely chambers, and
their clouded brows cast no shadow upon the laughing, rosy faces of
the beautiful women whose brothers, husbands, and lovers, were far
away on the bloody battle-field If not exactly willing to accept
these strangers as substitutes, they were at least glad to seek
distraction in their society. After all, it is impossible to be
always mourning, always complaining, always leading a cloistered
life. In the beginning, the oath of constancy and remembrance, which
all had sworn at parting, had been religiously preserved, and Berlin
had the physiognomy of a lovely, interesting, but dejected widow,
who knew and wished to know nothing of the joys of life. But
suddenly Nature had asserted her own inexorable laws, which teach
forgetfulness and inspire hope. The bitterest ears were dried--the
heaviest sighs suppressed; people had learned to reconcile
themselves to life, and to snatch eagerly at every ray of sunshine
which could illumine the cold, hopeless desert, which surrounded
They had seen that it was quite possible to live comfortably, even
while wild war was blustering and raging without--that weak, frail
human nature, refused to be ever strained, ever excited, in the
expectation of great events. In the course of these three fearful
years, even the saddest had learned again to laugh, jest, and be
gay, in spite of death and defeat. They loved their fatherland--they
shouted loudly and joyfully over the great victories of their king--
they grieved sincerely over his defeats; but they could not carry
their animosities so far as to be cold and strange to the captive
officers who were compelled by the chances of war to remain in
They had so long striven not to seek to revenge themselves upon
these powerless captives, that they had at last truly forgotten they
were enemies; and these handsome, entertaining, captivating, gallant
gentlemen were no longer looked upon even as prisoners, but as
strangers and travellers, and therefore they should receive the
honors of the city. [Footnote: Sulzer writes: "The prisoners of war
are treated here as if they were distinguished travellers and
The king commanded that these officers should receive all attention.
It was also the imperative will of the king that court balls should
be given; he wished to prove to the world that his family were
neither sad nor dispirited, but gay, bold, and hopeful.
THE THREE OFFICERS.
It was the spring of 1759. Winter quarters were broken up, and it
was said the king had left Breslau and advanced boldly to meet the
enemy. The Berlin journals contained accounts of combats and
skirmishes which had taken place here and there between the
Prussians and the allies, and in which, it appeared, the Prussians
had always been unfortunate.
Three captive officers sat in an elegant room of a house near the
castle, and conversed upon the news of the day, and stared at the
morning journals which lay before them on the table.
"I beg you," said one of them in French--"I beg you will have the
goodness to translate this sentence for me. I think it has relation
to Prince Henry, but I find it impossible to decipher this barbarous
dialect." He handed the journal to his neighbor, and pointed with
his finger to the paragraph.
"Yes, there is something about Prince Henry," said the other, with a
peculiar accent which betrayed the Russian; "and something, Monsieur
Belleville, which will greatly interest you."
"Oh, I beseech you to read it to us," said the Frenchman, somewhat
impatiently; then, turning graciously to the third gentleman who sat
silent and indifferent near him, he added: "We must first ascertain,
however, if our kind host, Monsieur le Comte di Ranuzi, consents to
"I gladly take part," said the Italian count, "in any thing that is
interesting; above all, in every thing which has no relation to this
wearisome and stupid Berlin."
"Vraiment! you are right." sighed the Frenchman. "It is a dreary and
ceremonious region. They are so inexpressibly prudish and virtuous--
so ruled with old-fashioned scruples--led captive by such little
prejudicesthat I should be greatly amused at it, if I did not suffer
daily from the dead monotony it brings. What would the enchanting
mistress of France--what would the Marquise de Pompadour say, if she
could see me, the gay, witty, merry Belleville, conversing with such
an aspect of pious gravity with this poor Queen of Prussia, who
makes a face if one alludes to La Pucelle d'Orleans, and wishes to
make it appear that she has not read Crebillon!"
"Tell me, now, Giurgenow, how is it with your court of Petersburg?
Is it formal, as ceremonious as here in Prussia?"
Giurgenow laughed aloud. "Our Empress Elizabeth is an angel of
beauty and goodness--mild and magnanimous to all-sacrificing herself
constantly to the good of others. Last year she gave a ball to her
body-guard. She danced with every one of the soldiers, and sipped
from every glass; and when the soldiers, carried away by her grace
and favor, dared to indulge in somewhat free jests, the good empress
laughed merrily, and forgave them. On that auspicious day she first
turned her attention to the happy Bestuchef. He was then a poor
subordinate officer--now he is a prince and one of the richest men
"It appears that your Russia has some resemblance to my beautiful
France," said Belleville, gayly. "But how is it with you, Count
Ranuzi? Is the Austrian court like the court of France, or like this
"The Austrian court stands alone--resembles no other," said the
Italian, proudly. "At the Austrian court we have a tribunal of
justice to decide all charges against modesty and virtue The Empress
Maria Theresa is its president."
"Diable!" cried the Frenchman, "what earthly chance would the
Russian empress and my lovely, enchanting marquise have, if summoned
before this tribunal by their most august ally the Empress Maria
Theresa? But you forget, Giurgenow, that you have promised to read
us something from the journal about Prince Henry."
"It is nothing of importance," said the Russian, apathetically; "the
prince has entirely recovered from his wounds, and has been solacing
himself in his winter camp at Dresden with the representations upon
the French stage. He has taken part as actor, and has played the
role of Voltaire's Enfant Prodigue. It is further written, that he
has now left the comic stage and commenced the graver game of arms."
"He might accidentally change these roles," said Belleville, gayly,
"and play the Enfant Prodigue when he should play the hero. In which
would he be the greater, do you know, Ranuzi?"
The Italian shrugged his shoulders. "You must ask his wife."
"Or Baron Kalkreuth, who has lingered here for seven months because
of his wounds," said Giurgenow, with a loud laugh. "Besides, Prince
Henry is averse to this war, all his sympathies are on our side. If
the fate of war should cost the King of Prussia his life, we would
soon have peace and leave this detestable Berlin--this dead, sandy
desert, where we are now languishing as prisoners."
"The god of war is not always complaisant," said the Frenchman,
grimly. "He does not always strike those whom we would gladly see
fall; the balls often go wide of the mark."
"Truly a dagger is more reliable," said Ranuzi, coolly.
The Russian cast a quick, lowering side glance upon him.
"Not always sure," said he. "It is said that men armed with daggers
have twice found their way into the Prussian camp, and been caught
in the king's tent. Their daggers have been as little fatal to the
king as the cannon-balls."
"Those who bore the daggers were Dutchmen," said Ranuzi,
apathetically; "they do not understand this sort of work. One must
learn to handle the dagger in my fatherland."
"Have you learned?" said Giurgenow, sharply.
"I have learned a little of every thing. I am a dilettanti in all."
"But you are master in the art of love," said Belleville, smiling.
"Much is said of your love-affairs, monsieur."
"Much is said that is untrue." said the Italian, quietly. "I love no
intrigues--least of all, love intrigues; while you, sir, are known
as a veritable Don Juan. I learn that you are fatally in love with
the beautiful maid of honor of the Princess Henry."
"Ah, you mean the lovely Fraulein von Marshal," said Giurgenow; "I
have also heard this, and I admire the taste and envy the good
fortune of Belleville."
"It is, indeed, true," said Belleville; "the little one is pretty,
and I divert myself by making love to her. It is our duty to teach
these little Dutch girls, once for all, what true gallantry is."
"And is that your only reason for paying court to this beautiful
girl?" said Giurgenow, frowningly.
"The only reason, I assure you," cried Belleville, rising up, and
drawing near the window. "But, look," cried he, hastily; "what a
crowd of men are filling the streets, and how the people are crying
and gesticulating, as if some great misfortune had fallen upon
The two officers hastened to his side and threw open the window. A
great crowd of people was indeed assembled in the platz, and they
were still rushing from the neighboring streets into the wide, open
square, in the middle of which, upon a few large stones, a curious
group were exhibiting themselves.
There stood a tall, thin man enveloped in a sort of black robe; his
long gray hair fell in wild locks around his pallid and fanatical
countenance. In his right hand he held a Bible, which he waved aloft
to the people, while his large, deeply-set, hollow eyes were raised
to heaven, and his pale lips murmured light and unintelligible
words. By his side stood a woman, also in black, with dishevelled
hair floating down her back. Her face was colorless, she looked like
a corpse, and her thin, blue lips were pressed together as if in
death. There was life in her eyes--a gloomy, wild, fanatical fire
flashed from them. Her glance was glaring and uncertain, like a
will-o'-the-wisp, and filled those upon whom it fell with a
shivering, mysterious feeling of dread.
And now, as if by accident, she looked to the windows where the
three gentlemen were standing. The shadow of a smile passed over her
face, and she bowed her head almost imperceptibly. No one regarded
this; no one saw that Giurgenow answered this greeting, and smiled
back significantly upon this enigmatical woman.
"Do you know what this means, gentlemen?" said Belleville.
"It means," said Giurgenow, "that the people will learn from their
great prophet something of the continuance, or rather of the
conclusion of this war. These good, simple people, as it seems to
me, long for rest, and wish to know when they may hope to attain it.
That man knows, for he is a great prophet, and all his prophecies
"But you forget to make mention of the woman?" said Ranuzi, with a
"The woman is, I think, a fortune-teller with cards, and the
Princess Amelia holds her in great respect; but let us listen to
what the prophet says."
They were silent, and listened anxiously. And now the voice of the
prophet raised itself high above the silent crowd. Pealing and
sounding through the air, it fell in trumpet-tones upon the ear, and
not one word escaped the eager and attentive people.
"Brothers," cried the prophet, "why do you interrupt me? Why do you
disturb me, in my quiet, peaceful path--me and this innocent woman,
who stood by my side last night, to read the dark stars, and whose
soul is sad, even as my own, at what we have seen."
"What did you see?" cried a voice from the crowd.
"Pale, ghostly shadows, who, in bloody garments, wandered here and
there, weeping and wailing, seating themselves upon a thousand open
graves, and singing out their plaintive hymns of lamentation. 'War!
war!' they cried, 'woe to war! It kills our men, devours our youths,
makes widows of our women, and nuns of our maidens. Woe, woe to war!
Shriek out a prayer to God for peace--peace! O God, send us peace;
close these open graves, heal our wounds, and let our great
The prophet folded his hands and looked to heaven, and now the
woman's voice was heard.
"But the heavens were dark to the prayer of the spirits, and a
blood-red stream gushed from them; colored the stars crimson, turned
the moon to a lake of blood, and piteous voices cried out from the
clouds, and in the air--'Fight on and die, for your king wills it
so; your life belongs to him, your blood is his.' Then, from two
rivulets of blood, giant-like, pale, transparent forms emerged; upon
the head of the first, I read the number, '1759.' Then the pale form
opened its lips, and cried out: 'I bring war, and ever-new
bloodshed. Your king demands the blood of your sons; give it to him.
He demands your gold; give it to him. The king is lord of your body,
your blood, and your soul. When he speaks, you must obey!'"
"It seems to me all this is a little too Russian in its conception,"
said Ranuzi, half aloud. "I shall be surprised if the police do not
interrupt this seance, which smells a little of insurrection."
"The scene is so very piquant," said Giurgenow, "I would like to
draw nearer. Pardon me, gentlemen, I must leave you, and go upon the
square. It is interesting to hear what the people say, and how they
receive such prophecies. We can, perhaps, judge in this way of the
probabilities of peace and liberty. The voice of the people is, in
politics, ever the decisive voice." He took his hat, and, bowing to
the gentlemen, left the room hastily.
Count Ranuzi gazed after the Russian with a mocking smile. "Do you
know, Belleville, where he is going?"
"He has not told us, but I guess it. He is going to approach this
fortune-teller, and give her a sign that her zeal has carried her
too far, and that, if not more prudent, she will betray herself."
"You think, then, that Giurgenow knows the fortune-teller?"
"I am certain of it. He has engaged these charlatans to rouse up the
people, and excite them against the king. This is, indeed, a very
common mode of proceeding, and often successful; but here, in
Prussia, it can bear no fruit. The people here have nothing to do
with politics; the king reigns alone. The people are nothing but a
mass of subjects, who obey implicitly his commands, even when they
know, that in so doing, they rush on destruction."
"Giurgenow has failed, and he might have counted upon failure! If
you, Belleville, had resorted to these means, I could have
understood it. In France, the people play an important role in
politics. In order to put down the government, you must work upon
the people. You might have been forgiven for this attempt, but
"You believe, then, that he is manoeuvring here, in Berlin, in the
interest of his government?" said Belleville, amazed.
Ranuzi laughed heartily. "That is a fine and diplomatic mode of
expressing the thing!" said he. "Yes, he is here in the interest of
his government; but when the Prussian government becomes acquainted
with this fact, they will consider him a spy. If discovered, he will
be hung. If successful, when once more at liberty, he may receive
thanks and rewards from Russia. See, now, how rightly I have
prophesied! There is Giurgenow, standing by the side of the
prophetess, and I imagine I almost hear the words he is whispering
to her. She will commence again to prophesy, but in a less violent
and fanatical manner."
"No, no; she will prophesy no more! The police are breaking their
way forcibly through the crowd. They do not regard the cries of fear
and suffering of those they are shoving so violently aside. These
are the servants of the police; they will speedily put an end to
this prophesying. Already the people are flying. Look how adroitly
Giurgenow slips away, and does not condescend to give a glance to
the poor prophetess he inspired. Only see how little respect these
rough policemen have for these heaven-inspired prophets! They seize
them rudely, and bear them off. They will be punished with, at
least, twenty-four hours' arrest. In Prussia, this concourse and
tumult of the people is not allowed. Come, monsieur, let us close
the window; the comedy is over. The prophets are in the watch-house.
Their role is probably forever played out!" said Belleville,
"Not so; they will recommence it to-morrow. These same prophets have
high and mighty protectors in Berlin; the police will not dare to
keep them long under arrest. The Princess Amelia will demand her
"Vraiment, monsieur le comte," said the Frenchman, "you seem
extraordinarily well acquainted with all these intrigues?"
"I observe closely," said Ranuzi, with a meaning smile. "I am very
silent--therefore hear a great deal."
"Well, I counsel you not to give to me or my actions the honor of
your observations," said Belleville. "My life offers few
opportunities for discovery. I live, I eat, I sleep, I chat, and
write poetry and caress, and seek to amuse myself as well as
possible. Sometimes I catch myself praying to God tearfully for
liberty, and truly, not from any political considerations--simply
from the selfish wish to get away from here. You see, therefore, I
am an innocent and harmless bon enfant, not in the least troubled
about public affairs."
"No," said Ranuzi, "you do not love Fraulein Marshal at all from
political reasons, but solely because of her beauty, her grace, and
her charms. Behold, this is the result of my observations."
"You have, then, been watching me?" said Belleville, blushing. "I
have told you that I was always observant. This is here my only
distraction and recreation, and really I do not know what I should
do with my time if I did not kill the weary hours in this way."
"You do employ it sometimes to a better purpose?" said the
Frenchman, in low tones. "Love is still for you a more agreeable
diversion, and you understand the game well."
"It appears you are also an observer," said Ranuzi, with an ironical
smile. "Well, then, I do find love a sweeter diversion; and if I
should yield myself up entirely to my love-dreams, I would perhaps
be less observant. But, Belleville, why do you take your hat? Will
you also leave me?"
"I must, perforce. Through our agreeable conversation I had entirely
forgotten that I had promised Fraulein Marshal to ride with her. A
cavalier must keep his promise with a lady, at least till he knows
she is ardently in love with him." He gave his hand to the duke, and
as he left the room he hummed a light French chanson.
Ranuzi looked after him with a long, frowning glance. "Poor fool,"
murmured he, "he believes he plays his part so well that he deceives
even me. This mask of folly and levity he has assumed is thin and
transparent enough I see his true face behind it. It is the
physiognomy of a sly intriguant. Oh, I know him thoroughly; I
understand every emotion of his heart, and I know well what his
passion for the beautiful Marshal signifies. She is the maid of
honor of the Princess Henry this is the secret of his love. She is
the confidante of the princess, who receives every week long and
confidential letters from the tent of her tender husband. Fraulein
Marshal is naturally acquainted with their contents. The prince
certainly speaks in these letters of his love and devotion, but also
a little of the king's plans of battle. Fraulein von Marshal knows
all this. If Belleville obtains her love and confidence, he will
receive pretty correct information of what goes on in the tent of
the king and in the camp councils. So Belleville will have most
important dispatches to forward to his Marquise de Pompadour
dispatches for which he will be one day rewarded with honor and
fortune. This is the Frenchman's plan! I see through him as I do
through the Russian. They are both paid spies informers of their
governments nothing more. They will be paid, or they will be hung,
according as accident is favorable or unfavorable to them." Ranuzi
was silent, and walked hastily backward and forward in the rood.
Upon his high, pale brow dark thoughts were written, and flashes of
anger flamed from his eyes.
"And I," said he, after a long pause, "am I in any respect better
than they? Will not the day come when I also will be considered as a
purchased spy? a miserable informer? and my name branded with this
title? No, no; away with this dark spectre, which floats like a
black cloud between me and my purpose! My aim is heaven; and what I
do, I do in the name of the Church--in the service of this great,
exalted Church, whose servant and priest I am. No, no; the world
will not call me a spy, will not brand my name with shame. God will
bless my efforts as the Holy Father in Rome has blessed them, and I
shall reach the goal."
Ranuzi was brilliantly handsome in this inspired mood; his noble and
characteristic face seemed illuminated and as beautiful as the angel
of darkness, when surrounded by a halo of heavenly light.
"It is an exalted and great aim which I have set before me," said
he, after another pause; "a work which the Holy Father himself
confided to me. I must and I will accomplish it to the honor of God
and the Holy Madonna. This blasphemous war must end; this
atheistical and free-thinking king must be reduced, humbled, and
cast down from the stage he has mounted with such ostentatious
bravado. Silesia must be torn from the hands of this profligate
robber and incorporated in the crown of our apostolic majesty of
Austria. The holy Church dare not lose any of her provinces, and
Silesia will be lost if it remains in the hands of this heretical
king; he must be punished for his insolence and scoffing, for having
dared to oppose himself to the Holy Father at Rome. The injuries
which he heaped upon the Queen of Poland must be avenged, and I will
not rest till he is so humbled, so crushed, as to sue for a shameful
peace, even as Henry the Fourth, clad like a peasant, pleaded to
Canoza. But the means, the means to attain this great object."
Hastily and silently he paced the room, his head proudly thrown
back, and a cold, defiant glance directed upward.
"To kill him!" said he suddenly, as if answering the voices which
whispered in his soul; "that would be an imbecile, miserable resort,
and, moreover, we would not obtain our object; ho would not be
humiliated, but a martyr's crown would be added to his laurels.
When, however, ho is completely humbled, when, to this great victory
at Hochkirch, we add new triumphs, when we have taken Silesia and
revenged Saxony, then he might die; then we will seek a sure hand
which understands the dagger and its uses. Until then, silence and
caution; until then this contest must be carried on with every
weapon which wisdom and craft can place in our hands. I think my
weapons are good and sharp, well fitted to give a telling thrust;
and yet they are so simple, so threadbare--a cunning fortune-teller,
a love-sick fool, a noble coquette, and a poor prisoner! these are
my only weapons, and with these I will defeat the man whom his
flatterers call the heroic King of Prussia." He laughed aloud, but
it was a ferocious, threatening laugh, which shocked himself.
"Down, down, ye evil spirits," said he; "do not press forward so
boldly to my lips; they are consecrated now to soft words and tender
sighs alone. Silence, ye demons! creep back into my heart, and
there, from some dark corner, you can hear and see if my great role
is well played. It is time! it is time! I must once more prove my
He stepped to the glass and looked thoughtfully at his face,
examined his eyes, his lips, to see if they betrayed the dark
passions of his soul; then arranged his dark hair in soft, wavy
lines over his brow; he rang for his servant, put on his Austrian
uniform, and buckled on the sword. The king had been gracious enough
to allow the captive officers in Berlin to wear their swords, only
requiring their word of honor that they would never use them again
in this war. When Count Ranuzi, the captive Austrian captain, had
completed his toilet, he took his hat and entered the street. Ranuzi
had now assumed a careless, indifferent expression; he greeted the
acquaintances who met him with a friendly smile, uttering to each a
few kindly words or gay jests. He reached, at last, a small and
insignificant house in the Frederick Street, opened the door which
was only slightly closed, and entered the hall; at the same moment a
side door opened, and a lady sprang forward, with extended arms, to
meet the count.
"Oh, my angel," said she, in that soft Italian tongue, so well
suited to clothe love's trembling sighs in words--"oh, my angel, are
you here at last? I saw your noble, handsome face, from my window;
it seemed to me that my room was illuminated with glorious sunshine,
and my heart and soul were warmed."
Ranuzi made no answer to these glowing words, silently he suffered
himself to be led forward by the lady, then replied to her ardent
assurances by a few cool, friendly words.
"You are alone to-day, Marietta," said he, "and your husband will
not interrupt our conversation."
"My husband!" said she, reproachfully, "Taliazuchi is not my
husband. I despise him; I know nothing of him; I am even willing
that he should know I adore you."
"Oh woman, woman!" said Ranuzi, laughing; "how treacherous, how
dangerous you are! When you love happily, you are like the anaconda,
whose poisonous bite one need not fear, when it is well fed and
tended, but when you have ceased to love, you are like the tigress
who, rashly awaked from sleep, would strangle the unfortunate who
disturbed her repose. Come, my anaconda, come; if you are satisfied
with my love, let us talk and dream." He drew her tenderly toward
him, and, kissing her fondly, seated her by his side; but Marietta
glided softly to his feet.
"Let it be so," she said; "let me lie at your feet; let me adore
you, and read in your face the history of these last three terrible
days, in which I have not seen you. Where were you, Carlo? why have
you forgotten me?"
"Ah," said he, laughing, "my anaconda begins to hunger for my
heart's blood! how long before she will be ready to devour or to
"Do not call me your anaconda," she said, shaking her head; "you say
that, when we are satisfied with your love, we are like the sleeping
anaconda. But, Carlo, when I look upon you, I thirst for your
glances, your sweet words, your assurances of love. And has it not
been thus all my life long? Have I not loved you since I was capable
of thought and feeling? Oh, do you remember our happy, glorious
childhood, Carlo? those days of sunshine, of fragrance, of flowers,
of childish innocence? Do you remember how often we have wandered
hand in hand through the Campagna, talking of God, of the stars, and
of the flowers?--dreaming of the time in which the angels and the
stars would float down into our hearts, and change the world into a
paradise for us?"
"Ah! we had a bitter awaking from these fair dreams," said Ranuzi,
thoughtfully. "My father placed me in a Jesuit college; your mother
sent you to a cloister, that the nuns might make of you a public
singer. We had both our own career to make, Marietta; you upon the
stage, I on the confessor's stool. We were the poor children of poor
parents, and every path was closed to us but one, the church and the
stage; our wise parents knew this."
"And they separated us," sighed Marietta; "they crushed out the
first modest flame of our young, pure hearts, and made us an example
of their greed! Ah, Carlo; you can never know how much I suffered,
how bitterly I wept on your account. I was only twelve years old,
but I loved you with all the strength and ardor of a woman, and
longed after you as after a lost paradise. The nuns taught me to
sing; and when my clear, rich voice pealed through the church halls,
no one knew that not God's image, but yours, was in my heart; that I
was worshipping you with my hymns of praise and pious fervor. I knew
that we were forever separated, could never belong to each other, so
I prayed to God to lend swift wings to time, that we might become
independent and free, I as a singer and you as my honored
Ranuzi laughed merrily. "But fate was unpropitious," said he. "The
pious fathers discovered that I had too little eloquence to make a
good priest; in short, that I was better fitted to serve holy mother
Church upon the battle-field. When I was a man and sufficiently
learned, they obtained a commission for me as officer in the Pope's
body-guard, and I exchanged the black robe of my order for the gold-
"And you forgot me, Carlo? you did not let me know where you were?
Five years after, when I was engaged in Florence as a singer, I
learned what had become of you. I loved you always, Carlo; but what
hope had I ever to tell you so? we were so far away from each other,
and poverty separated us so widely. I must first become rich, you
must make your career. Only then might we hope to belong to each
other. I waited and was silent."
"You waited and were silent till you forgot me," said Ranuzi,
playing carelessly with her long, soft curls; "and, having forgotten
me, you discovered that Signer Taliazuchi was a tolerably pretty
fellow, whom it was quite possible to love."
"Taliazuchi understood how to flatter my vanity," said she,
gloomily; "he wrote beautiful and glowing poems in my praise, which
were printed and read not only in Florence, but throughout all
Italy. When he declared his love and pleaded for my hand, I thought,
if I refused him, he would persecute me and hate me; that mockery
and ridicule would take the place of the enthusiastic hymns in my
praise, with which Italy then resounded. I was too ambitious to
submit to this, and had not the courage to refuse him, so I became
his wife, and in becoming so, I abhorred him, and I swore to make
him atone for having forced me to become so."
"But this force consisted only in hymns of praise and favorable
criticisms," said Ranuzi, quietly.
"I have kept my oath," said Marietta; "I have made him atone for
what he has done, and I have often thought that, when afterward
compelled to write poems in my favor, he cursed me in his heart; he
would gladly have crushed me by his criticisms, but that my fame was
a fountain of gold for him, which he dared not exhaust or dry up.
But my voice had been injured by too much straining, and a veil soon
fell upon it. I could but regard it as great good fortune when Count
Algarotti proposed to me to take the second place as singer in
Berlin; this promised to be more profitable, as the count carelessly
offered Taliazuchi a place in the opera troupe as writer. So I left
my beautiful Italy; I left you to amass gold in this cold north. And
now, I no longer repent; I rejoice! I have found you again--you, the
beloved of my youth--you, my youth itself. Oh, Heaven! never will I
forget the day when I saw you passing. I knew you in spite of the
uniform, in spite of the many years which had passed since we met. I
knew you; and not my lips only, but my heart, uttered that loud cry
which caused you to look up, my Carlo. And now you recognized me and
stretched your hands out to me, and I would have sprung to you from
the window, had not Taliazuchi held me back. I cried out, 'It is
Ranuzi! it is Carlo! I must, I will fly to him,' when the door
opened and you entered and I saw you, my own beloved; I heard your
dear voice, and never did one of God's poor creatures fall into a
happier insensibility than I in that rapturous moment."
"And Taliazuchi stood by and smiled!" said Ranuzi, laughing; "it was
truly a pretty scene for an opera writer. He, no doubt, thought so,
and wished to take note of it, as he left the room when you awaked
"Since that time, I am only awake when in your presence," said
Marietta, passionately. "When you are not near me, I sleep. You are
the sun which rouses me to life. When you leave me, it is night--
dark night, and dark, gloomy thoughts steal over me."
"What thoughts, Marietta?" said he, placing his hand under her chin,
and raising her head gently.
She looked up at him with a curious, dreamy smile, but was silent.
"Well, what thoughts have you when I am not with you?" he repeated.
"I think it possible a day may come in which you will cease to love
"And you think you will then fly to Taliazuchi for consolation?"
said Ranuzi, laughing.
"No; I think, or rather I fear that I will revenge myself; that I
will take vengeance on you for your unfaithfulness."
"Ah! my tigress threatens!" cried Ranuzi. "Now, Marietta, you know
well that I shall never cease to love you, but a day will come when
we will be forced to separate." She sprang up with a wild cry, and
clasped him stormily in her arms.
"No, no!" she cried, trembling and weeping; "no man shall dare to
tear you from me! We will never be separated!"
"You think, then, that I am not only your prisoner for life, but
also the eternal prisoner of the King of Prussia?"
"No, no! you shall be free--free! but Marietta will also be free,
and by your side. When you leave Berlin, I go with you; no power can
bind me here. Taliazuchi will not seek me, if I leave him my little
fortune. I will do that; I will take nothing with me. Poor, without
fortune or possessions, I will follow you, Ranuzi. I desire nothing,
I hope for nothing, but to be by your side."
She clasped him in her arms, and did not remark the dark cloud which
shadowed his brow, but this vanished quickly, and his countenance
assumed a kind and clear expression. "It shall be so, Marietta!
Freedom shall unite us both eternally, death only shall separate us!
But when may we hope for this great, this glorious, this beautiful
hour? When will the blessed day dawn in which I can take your hand
and say to you, 'Come, Marietta, come; the world belongs to us and
our love. Let us fly and enjoy our happiness.' Oh, beloved, if you
truly love me, help me to snatch this happy day from fate! Stand by
me with your love, that I may attain my freedom."
"Tell me what I can do, and it is done," said she resolutely; "there
is nothing I will not undertake and dare for you."
Ranuzi took her small head in his hands and gazed long and smilingly
into her glowing face.
"Are you sure of yourself?" said he.
"I am sure. Tell me, Carlo, what I must do, and it is done."
"And if it is dangerous, Marietta?"
"I know but one danger."
"What is that?"
"To lose your love, Carlo!"
"Then this world has no danger for you, Marietta!"
"Speak, Carlo, speak! How can I aid you? What can I do to obtain
Ranuzi threw a quick and searching glance around the room, as if to
convince himself that they were alone, then bowed down close to her
ear and whispered:
"I can never be free till the King of Prussia is completely
conquered and subjected, and only if I bring all my strength and
capabilities to this object, may I hope to be free, and rich, and
honored. The King of Prussia is my enemy, he is the enemy of the
Church, the enemy of my gracious sovereign of Austria, to whom I
have sworn fealty. A man may strive to conquer his enemies with
every weapon, even with craft. Will you stand by me in this?"
"Then observe and listen, and search all around you. Repeat to me
all that you hear and see--seem to be an enthusiastic adherent of
the King of Prussia; you will then be confided in and know all that
is taking place. Be kind and sympathetic to your husband; he is a
sincere follower of the king, and has free intercourse with many
distinguished persons; he is also well received at court. Give
yourself the appearance of sympathizing in all his sentiments. When
you attend the concerts at the castle, observe all that passes--
every laugh, every glance, every indistinct word, and inform me of
all. Do you understand, Marietta?--will you do this?"
"I understand, Carlo, and I will do this. Is this all? Can I do
nothing more to help you?"
"Yes, there are other things, but they are more difficult, more
"So much the better; the more dangerous the stronger the proof of my
love. Speak, dear Carlo!"
"It is forbidden for the captive officers to send sealed letters to
their friends or relatives. All our letters must be read, and if a
word of politics is found in them, they are condemned. All other
persons have the right to send sealed letters in every direction.
Have you not friends to whom you write, Marietta?"
"I have, and from this time onward your friends will be mine, and I
will correspond with them."
As she said this, with a roguish smile, a ray of joy lighted up
"You understand me, my beloved; your intellect is as clear and sharp
as your heart is warm and noble. Think well what you do--what danger
threatens you. I tell you plainly, Marietta, this is no question of
common friendly letters, but of the most earnest, grave, important
She bowed to his ear and whispered: "All that you espy in Berlin you
will confide to these letters; you will concert with your friends,
you will design plans, perhaps make conspiracies. I will address
these letters and take them to the post, and no one will mistrust
me, for my letters will be addressed to some friends in Vienna, or
to whom you will. Have I understood you, Carlo? Is this all right?"
He clasped her rapturously in his arms, and the words of tender
gratitude which he expressed were not entirely wanting in sincerity
Marietta was proudly happy, and listened with sparkling eyes to his
As Ranuzi, however, after this long interview, arose to say
farewell, she held him back. Laying her hands upon his shoulder, she
looked at him with a curious expression, half laughing, half
"One last word, Carlo," she said; "I love you boundlessly. To prove
my love to you, I become a traitress to this king, who has been a
gracious master to me, whose bread I eat--who received and protects
me. To prove my love, I become a spy, an informer. Men say this is
dishonorable work, but for myself I feel proud and happy to
undertake it for you, and not for all the riches and treasures of
this world would I betray you. But, Carlo, if you ever cease to love
me, if you deceive me and become unfaithful, as true as God helps
me, I will betray both myself and you!"
"I believe truly she is capable of it," said Ranuzi, as he reached
the street; "she is a dangerous woman, and with her love and hate
she is truly like a tigress. Well, I must be on my guard. If she
rages I must draw her teeth, so that she cannot bite, or flee from
her furious leaps. But this danger is in the distance, the principal
thing is that I have opened a way to my correspondence, and that is
immense progress in my plans, for which I might well show my
gratitude to my tender Marietta by a few caresses."
LOUISE DU TROUFFLE.
Madame du Trouffle paced her room restlessly; she listened to every
stroke of the clock, every sound made her tremble.
"He comes not! he comes not!" murmured she; "he received my irony of
yesterday in earnest and is exasperated. Alas! am I really an old
woman? Have I no longer the power to enchain, to attract? Can it be
that I am old and ugly? No, no! I am but thirty-four years of age--
that is not old for a married woman, and as to being ugly--"
She interrupted herself, stepped hastily to the glass, and looked
long and curiously at her face.
Yes, yes! she must confess her beauty was on the wane. She was more
faded than her age would justify. Already was seen around her mouth
those yellow, treacherous lines which vanished years imprint upon
the face; already her brow was marked with light lines, and silver
threads glimmered in her hair.
Louise du Trouffle sighed heavily.
"I was too early married, and then unhappily married; at eighteen I
was a mother. All this ages a woman--not the years but the storms of
life have marked these fearful lines in my face. Then it is not
possible for a man to feel any warm interest in me when he sees a
grown-up daughter by my side, who will soon be my rival, and strive
with me for the homage of men. This is indeed exasperating. Oh, my
God! my God! a day may come in which I may be jealous of my own
daughter! May Heaven guard me from that! Grant that I may see her
fresh and blooming beauty without rancor; that I may think more of
her happiness than my vanity."
Then, as if she would strengthen her good resolutions, Louise left
her room and hastened to the chamber of her daughter.
Camilla lay upon the divan--her slender and beauteous form was
wrapped in soft white drapery; her shining, soft dark hair fell
around her rosy face and over her naked shoulders, with whose
alabaster whiteness it contrasted strongly. Camilla was reading, and
so entirely was she occupied with her book that she did not hear her
Louise drew softly near the divan, and stood still, lost in
admiration at this lovely, enchanting picture, this reposing Hebe.
"Camilla," said she, fondly, "what are you reading so eagerly?"
Camilla started and looked up suddenly, then laughed aloud.
"Ah, mamma," said she, in a silver, clear, and soft voice, "how you
frightened me! I thought it was my tyrannical governess already
returned from her walk, and that she had surprised me with this
"Without doubt she forbade you to read it," said her mother,
gravely, stretching out her hand for the book, but Camilla drew it
"Yes, certainly, Madame Brunnen forbade me to read this book; but
that is no reason, mamma, why you should take it away from me. It is
to be hoped you will not play the stern tyrant against your poor
"I wish to know what you are reading, Camilla."
"Well, then, Voltaire's 'Pucelle d' Orleans,' and I assure you,
mamma, I am extremely pleased with it."
"Madame Brunnen was right to forbid you to read this book, and I
also forbid it."
"And if I refuse to obey, mamma?"
"I will force you to obedience," cried her mother, sternly.
"Did any one succeed in forcing you to obey your mother?" said
Camilla, in a transport of rage. "Did your mother give her consent
to your elopement with the garden-boy? You chose your own path in
life, and I will choose mine. I will no longer bear to be treated as
a child--I am thirteen years old; you were not older when you had
the affair with the garden-boy, and were forced to confide yourself
to my father. Why do you wish in treat me as a little child, and
keep me in leading-strings, when I am a grown-up girl?"
"You are no grown-up girl, Camilla," cried her mother; "if you were,
you would not dare to speak to your mother as you have done: you
would know that it was unseemly, and that, above all other things,
you should show reverence and obedience to your mother. No, Camilla,
God be thanked! you are but a foolish child, and therefore I forgive
Louise drew near her daughter and tried to clasp her tenderly in her
arms, but Camilla struggled roughly against it.
"You shall not call me a child," said she, rudely. "I will no longer
bear it! it angers me! and if you repeat it, mamma, I will declare
to every one that I am sixteen years old!"
"And why will you say that, Camilla?"
Camilla looked up with a cunning smile.
"Why?" she repeated, "ah! you think I do not know why I must always
remain a child? It is because you wish to remain a young woman--
therefore you declare to all the world that I am but twelve years
old! But no one believes you, mamma, not one believes you. The world
laughs at you, but you do not see it--you think you are younger when
you call me a child. I say to you I will not endure it! I will be a
lady--I will adorn myself and go into society. I will not remain in
the school-room with a governess while you are sparkling in the
saloon and enchanting your followers by your beauty. I will also
have my worshippers, who pay court to me; I will write and receive
love-letters as other maidens do; I will carry on my own little
love-affairs as all other girls do; as you did, from the time you
were twelve years old, and still do!"
"Silence, Camilla! or I will make you feel that you are still a
child!" cried Louise, raising her arm threateningly and approaching
"Would you strike me, mother?" said she, with trembling lips. "I
counsel you not to do it. Raise your hand once more against me, but
think of the consequences. I will run away! I will fly to my poor,
dear father, whom you, unhappy one, have made a drunkard! I will
remain with him--he loves me tenderly. If I were with him, he would
no longer drink."
"Oh, my God, my God!" cried Louise, with tears gushing from her
eyes; "it is he who has planted this hate in her heart--he has been
the cause of all my wretchedness! She loves her father who has done
nothing for her, and she hates her mother who has shown her nothing
but love." With a loud cry of agony, she clasped her hands over her
face and wept bitterly.
Camilla drew close to her, grasped her hands and pulled them
forcibly from her face, then looked in her eyes passionately and
scornfully. Camilla was indeed no longer a child. She stood erect,
pale, and fiercely excited, opposite to her mother. Understanding
and intellect flashed from her dark eyes. There were lines around
her mouth which betrayed a passion and a power with which childhood
has nothing to do.
"You say you have shown me nothing but love," said Camilla, in a
cold and cutting tone. "Mother, what love have you shown me? You
made my father wretched, and my childish years were spent under the
curse of a most unhappy marriage. I have seen my father weep while
you were laughing merrily--I have seen him drunk and lying like a
beast at my feet, while you were in our gay saloon receiving and
entertaining guests with cool unconcern. You say you have shown me
nothing but love. You never loved me, mother, never! Had you loved
me, you would have taken pity with my future--you would not have
given me a step-father while I had a poor, dear father, who had
nothing in the wide world but me, me alone! You think perhaps,
mother, that I am not unhappy; while I am giddy and play foolish
pranks, you believe me to be happy and contented. Ah, mother, I have
an inward horror and prophetic fear of the future which never leaves
me; it seems to me that evil spirits surround me--as if they
enchanted me with strange, alluring songs. I know they will work my
destruction, but I cannot withstand them--I must listen, I must
succumb to them. I would gladly be different--be better. I desire to
be a virtuous and modest girl, but alas, alas, I cannot escape from
this magic circle to which my mother has condemned me! I have lived
too fast, experienced too much--I am no longer a child--I am an
experienced woman. The world and the things of the world call me
with a thousand alluring voices, and I shall be lost as my mother
was lost! I am her most unhappy daughter, and her blood is in my
heart!" Almost insensible, crushed by excitement and passion,
Camilla sank to the earth.
Her mother looked at her with cold and tearless eyes; her hair
seemed to stand erect, and a cold, dead hand seemed placed upon her
heart and almost stilled its beatings. "I have deserved this,"
murmured she; "God punishes the levity of my youth through my own
child." She bowed down to her daughter and raised her softly in her
"Come, my child," she said, tenderly, "we will forget this hour--we
will strive to live in love and harmony with each other. You are
right! You are no longer a child, and I will think of introducing
you to the world."
"And you will dismiss Madame Brunnen," said Camilla, gayly. "Oh,
mamma, you have no idea how she tortures and martyrs me with her
Argus-eyes, and watches me day and night. Will you not dismiss her,
mamma, and take no other governess?"
"I will think of it," said her mother, sadly. But now a servant
entered and announced Count Ranuzi. Madame du Trouffle blushed, and
directed the servant to conduct him to the parlor.
Camilla looked at her roguishly, and said: "If you really think me a
grown-up girl, take me with you to the parlor."
Madame du Trouffle refused. "You are not properly dressed, and
besides, I have important business with the count."
Camilla turned her back scornfully, and her mother left the room;
Camilla returned to the sofa and Madame du Trouffle entered the
saloon. In the levity and frivolity of their hearts they had both
forgotten this sad scene in the drama of a demoralized family life;
such scenes had been too often repeated to make any lasting
Madame du Trouffle found Count Ranuzi awaiting her. He came forward
with such a joyous greeting, that she was flattered, and gave him
her hand with a gracious smile. She said triumphantly to herself
that the power of her charms was not subdued, since the handsome and
much admired Ranuzi was surely captivated by them.
The count had pleaded yesterday for an interview, and he had done
this with so mysterious and melancholy a mien, that the gay and
sportive Louise had called him the Knight of Toggenberg, and had
asked him plaintively if he was coming to die at her feet.
"Possibly," he answered, with grave earnestness--"possibly, if you
are cruel enough to refuse the request I prefer."
These words had occupied the thoughts of this vain coquette during
the whole night; she was convinced that Ranuzi, ravished by her
beauty, wished to make her a declaration, and she had been
hesitating whether to reject or encourage him. As he advanced so
gracefully and smilingly to meet her, she resolved to encourage him
and make him forget the mockery of yesterday.
Possibly Ranuzi read this in her glance, but he did not regard it;
he had attained his aim--the interview which he desired. "Madame,"
said he, "I come to make honorable amends, and to plead at your feet
for pardon." He bowed on one knee, and looked up beseechingly.
Louise found that his languishing and at the same time glowing eyes
were very beautiful, and she was entirely ready to be gracious,
although she did not know the offence. "Stand up, count," said she,
"and let us talk reasonably together. What have you done, and for
what must I forgive you?"
"You annihilate me with your magnanimity," sighed Ranuzi. "You are
so truly noble as to have forgotten my boldness of yesterday, and
you choose to forget that the poor, imprisoned soldier, intoxicated
by your beauty, carried away by your grace and amiability, has dared
to love you and to confess it. But I swear to you, madame, I will
never repeat this offence. The graceful mockery and keen wit with
which you punished me yesterday has deeply moved me, and I assure
you, madame, you have had more influence over me than any prude with
her most eloquent sermon on virtue could have done. I have seen my
crime, and never again will my lips dare to confess what lives and
glows in my heart." He took her hand and kissed it most
Louise was strangely surprised, and it seemed to her not at all
necessary for the count to preserve so inviolable a silence as to
his love; but she was obliged to appear pleased, and she did this
with facility and grace.
"I thank you," she said, gayly, "that you have freed me from a lover
whom, as the wife of Major du Trouffle, I should have been compelled
to banish from my house. Now I dare give a pleasant, kindly welcome,
to Count Ranuzi, and be ready at all times to serve him gladly."
Ranuzi looked steadily at her. "Will you truly do this?" said he,
sighing--"will you interest yourself for a poor prisoner, who has no
one to hear and sympathize in his sorrows?"
Louise gave him her hand. "Confide in me, sir count," said she, with
an impulse of her better nature; "make known your sorrows, and be
assured that I will take an interest in them. You are so prudent and
reasonable as not to be my lover, and I will be your friend. Here is
my hand--I offer you my friendship; will you accept, it?"
"Will I accept it?" said he, rapturously; "you offer me life, and
ask if I will accept it!"
Louise smiled softly. She found that Ranuzi declared his friendship
in almost as glowing terms as he had confessed his love. "So then,"
said she, "you have sorrows that you dare not name?"
"Yes, but they are not my own individual griefs I suffer, but it is
"That sounds mysterious. For whom do you suffer?"
"For a poor prisoner, who, far from the world, far from the haunts
of men, languishes in wretchedness and chains--whom not only men but
God has forgotten, for He will not even send His minister Death to
release him. I cannot, I dare not say more--it is not my secret, and
I have sworn to disclose it to but one person."
"And this person--"
"Is the Princess Amelia of Prussia," said Ranuzi.
Louise shrank back, and looked searchingly at the count. "A sister
of the king! And you say that your secret relates to a poor
"I said so. Oh, my noble, magnanimous friend, do not ask me to say
more; I dare not, but I entreat you to help me. I must speak with
the princess. You are her confidante and friend, you alone can
obtain me an interview."
"It is impossible! impossible!" cried Madame du Trouffle, rising up
and pacing the room hastily. Ranuzi followed her with his eyes,
observed every movement, and read in her countenance every emotion
of her soul.
"I will succeed," said he to himself, and proud triumph swelled his
Louise drew near and stood before him.
"Listen," said she, gravely; "it is a daring, a dangerous enterprise
in which you wish to entangle me--doubly dangerous for me, as the
king suspects me, and he would never forgive it if he should learn
that I had dared to act against his commands, and to assist the
Princess Amelia to save an unhappy wretch whom he had irretrievably
condemned. I know well who this prisoner is, but do not call his
name--it is dangerous to speak it, even to think it. I be long not
to the confidantes of the princess in this matter, and I do not
desire it. Speak no more of the prisoner, but of yourself. You wish
to be presented to the princess. Why not apply to Baron Pollnitz?"
"I have not gold enough to bribe him; and, besides that, he is a
babbler, and purchasable. To-morrow he would betray me."
"You are right; and he could not obtain you a secret interview. One
of the maids of honor must always be present, and the princess is
surrounded by many spies. But there is a means, and it lies in my
Louise bowed and whispered.
Ranuzi's face sparkled with triumph.
"To-morrow, then," said he, as he withdrew.
"To-morrow," said Louise, "expect me at the castle gate, and be
The heavy curtains were drawn down, and a gloomy twilight reigned in
this great, silent room, whose dreary stillness was only interrupted
by the monotonous stroke of the clock, and the deep sighs and
lamentations which came from the sofa in a distant part of the room.
There in the corner, drawn up convulsively and motionless, lay a
female form, her hands clasped over her breast, her eyes fixed
staringly toward heaven, and from time to time uttering words of
grief and scorn and indignation.
She was alone in her anguish--ever alone; she had been alone for
many years; grief and disappointment had hardened her heart, and
made it insensible to all sorrows but her own. She hated men, she
hated the world, she railed at those who were gay and happy, she had
no pity for those who wept and mourned.
Had she not suffered more? Did she not still suffer? Who had been
merciful, who had pitied her sorrows? Look now at this poor,
groaning woman! Do you recognize these fearful features, deformed by
sickness and grief; these blood-shot eyes, these thin, colorless
lips, ever convulsively pressed together, as if to suppress a wild
shriek of agony, which are only unclosed to utter cold, harsh words
of scorn and passion? Do you know this woman? Has this poor,
unhappy, deformed being any resemblance to the gay, beautiful,
intellectual Princess Amelia, whom we once knew? and yet this is the
Princess Amelia. How have the mighty fallen! Look at the
transforming power of a few sorrowful years! The sister of a mighty
hero king, but a poor desolate creature, shunned and avoided by all:
she knows that men fly from her, and she will have it so; she will
be alone--lonely in the midst of the world, even as he is, in the
midst of his dark and gloomy prison. Amelia calls the whole world
her prison; she often says to herself that her soul is shut in
behind the iron bars of her body and can never be delivered, that
her heart lies upon the burning gridiron of the base world, and
cannot escape, it is bound there with the same chains which are
around about and hold him in captivity.
But Amelia says this only to herself, she desires no sympathy, she
knows no one will dare to pity her. Destiny placed her high in rank
and alone--alone she will remain; her complaints might perhaps bring
new danger to him she loves, of whom alone she thinks, for whose
sake alone she supports existence, she lives only for him. Can this
be called life? A perpetual hope--and yet hopeless--a constant
watching and listening for one happy moment, which never comes! She
had not been permitted to live for him, she would not die without
him. So long as he lived he might need her aid, and might call upon
her for help in the hour of extremest need, so she would not die.
She was not wholly dead, but her youth, her heart, her peace, her
illusions, her hopes were dead; she was opposed to all that lived,
to the world, to all mankind. In the wide world she loved but two
persons: one, who languished in prison and who suffered for her
sake, Frederick von Trenck; the other, he who had made her wretched
and who had the power to liberate Trenck and restore their peace--
the king. Amelia had loved her mother, but she was dead; grief at
the lost battle of Collin killed her. She had loved her sister, the
Margravine of Baireuth; but she died of despair at the lost battle
of Hochkirch. Grief and the anger and contempt of the king had
killed her brother, the Prince Augustus William of Prussia. She was
therefore alone, alone! Her other sisters were far away; they were
happy, and with the happy she had nothing to do; with them she had
no sympathy. Her two brothers were in the field, they thought not of
her. There was but one who remembered her, and he was under the
earth--not dead, but buried--buried alive. The blackness of thick
darkness is round about him, but he is not blind; there is glorious
sunshine, but he sees it not.
These fearful thoughts had crushed Amelia's youth, her mind, her
life; she stood like a desolate ruin under the wreck of the past.
The rude storms of life whistled over her, and she laughed them to
scorn; she had no more to fear--not she; if an oak fell, if a fair
flower was crushed, her heart was glad; her own wretchedness had
made her envious and malicious; perhaps she concealed her sympathy,
under this seeming harshness; perhaps she gave herself the
appearance of proud reserve, knowing that she was feared and
avoided. Whoever drew near her was observed and suspected; the spies
of the king surrounded her and kept her friends, if she had friends,
far off. Perhaps Amelia would have been less unhappy if she had fled
for shelter to Him who is the refuge of all hearts; if she had
turned to her God in her anguish and despair. But she was not a
pious believer, like the noble and patient Elizabeth Christine, the
disdained wife of Frederick the Great.
Princess Amelia was the true sister of the king, the pupil of
Voltaire; she mocked at the church and scorned the consolations of
religion. She also was forced to pay some tribute to her sex; she
failed in the strong, self-confident, intellectual independence of
Frederick; her poor, weak, trembling hands wandered around seeking
support; as religion, in its mighty mission, was rejected, she
turned for consolation to superstition. While Elizabeth Christine
prayed, Amelia tried her fortune with cards; while the queen
gathered around her ministers of the gospel and pious scholars, the
princess called to the prophets and fortune-tellers. While Elizabeth
found comfort in reading the Holy Scriptures, Amelia found
consolation in the mystical and enigmatical words of her sooth-
sayers. While the queen translated sermons and pious hymns into
French, Amelia wrote down carefully all the prophecies of her cards,
her coffee-grounds, and the stars, and both ladies sent their
manuscripts to the king.
Frederick received them both with a kindly and pitiful smile. The
pious manuscript of the queen was laid aside unread, but the oracles
of the princess were carefully looked over. Perhaps this was done in
pity for the poor, wounded spirit which found distraction in such
child's play. It is certain that when the king wrote to the
princess, he thanked her for her manuscripts, and asked her to
continue to send them. [Footnote: Thiebault, p. 279.] But he also
demanded perfect silence as to this strange correspondence; he
feared his enemies might falsely interpret his consideration for the
weakness of the princess; they might suppose that he needed these
prophecies to lead him on to victory, as his adversaries needed the
This was one of the days on which the princess was accustomed to
receive her fortune-teller; she had been very angry when told that
she was under arrest; neither the prophet nor the fortune-teller
were at liberty, and the princess was not able to obtain their
release. She would, therefore, have been compelled to forego her
usual occupation for the evening, had not Madame du Trouffle come to
her aid. Louise had written that morning to the princess, and asked
permission to introduce a new soothsayer, whose prophecies
astonished the world, as, so far, they had been literally fulfilled.
Amelia received this proposition joyfully, and now waited
impatiently for Madame du Trouffle and the soothsayer; but she was
yet alone, it was not necessary to hide her grief in stoical
indifference, to still the groans of agony which, like the last
sighs from a death-bed, rang from her breast.
The princess suffered not only from mental anguish; her body was as
sick as her soul. The worm gnawing at her heart was also devouring
her body; but neither for body nor soul would she accept a
physician, she refused all sympathy for intellectual and physical
pain. Amelia suffered and was silent, and only when as now she was
certain there was no eye to see, no ear to hear her complaints, did
she give utterance to them. And now the maid entered and announced
Madame du Trouffle and the prophet.
"Let them enter," said the princess in a hollow, death-like voice;
"let them enter, and remain yourself, Fraulein Lethow; the
soothsayer shall tell your fortune."
The door opened, and Madame du Trouffle entered. She was gay and
lovely as ever, and drew near the princess with a charming smile.
Amelia returned her salutation coldly and carelessly.
"How many hours have you spent at your toilet to-day?" said she,
roughly; "and where do you buy the rouge with which you have painted
"Ah, your royal highness," said Louise, smiling, "Nature has been
kind to me, and has painted my cheeks with her own sweet and cunning
"Then Nature is in covenant with you, and helps you to deceive
yourself to imagine that you are yet young. I am told that your
daughter is grown up and wondrously beautiful, and that only when
you stand near her is it seen how old and ugly you are."
Louise knew the rancor of the unhappy princess, and she knew no one
could approach her without being wounded--that the undying worm in
her soul was only satisfied with the blood it caused to flow. The
harsh words of the princess had no sting for her. "If I were truly
old," said she, "I would live in my daughter: she is said to be my
image, and when she is praised, I feel myself flattered."
"A day will come when she will be blamed and you will also be
reproached," murmured Amelia. After a pause she said: "So you have
brought me another deceiver who declares himself a prophet?"
"I do not believe him to be an impostor, your highness. He has given
me convincing proofs of his inspiration."
"What sort of proofs? How can these people who prophesy of the
future prove that they are inspired?"
"He has not told me of the future, but of the past," said Louise.
"Has he had the courage to recall any portion of your past to you?"
said the princess, with a coarse laugh.
"Many droll and merry portions, your highness, and it is to be
regretted that they were all true," she said, with comic pathos.
"Bring in this soothsayer, Fraulein von Lethow. He shall prophesy of
you: I think you have not, like Madame du Trouffle, any reason to
fear a picture of your past."
The prophet entered. He was wrapped in a long black robe, which was
gathered around his slender form by a black leathern girdle covered
with curious and strange figures and emblems; raven black hair fell
around his small, pale face; his eyes burned with clouded fire, and
flashed quickly around the room. With head erect and proud bearing,
he drew near the princess, and only when very near did he salute
her, and in a sweet, soft, melodious voice, asked why she wished to
"If you are truly a prophet, you will know my reasons."
"Would you learn of the past?" said he, solemnly.
"And why not first of the future?"
"Because your highness distrusts me and would prove me. Will you
permit me to take my cards? If you allow it, I will first prophesy
to this lady." He took a mass of soiled, curiously painted cards,
and spread them out before him on the table. He took the hand of
Fraulein Lethow and seemed to read it earnestly; and now, in a low,
musical voice, he related little incidents of the past. They were
piquant little anecdotes which had been secretly whispered at the
court, but which no one dared to speak aloud, as Fraulein Lethow
passed for a model of virtue and piety.
She received these developments of the prophet with visible scorn.
In place of laughing, and by smiling indifference bringing their
truth in question, she was excited and angry, and thus prepared for
the princess some gay and happy moments.
"I dare not decide," said Amelia, as the prophet ceased, "whether
what you have told is true or false. Fraulein Lethow alone can know
that; but she will not be so cruel as to call you an impostor, for
that would prevent me from having my fortune told. Allow me,
therefore, to believe that you have spoken the truth. Now take your
cards and shuffle them."
"Does your highness wish that I should tell you of the past?" said
the soothsayer, in a sharp voice.
The princess hesitated. "Yes," said she, "of my past. But no; I will
first hear a little chapter out of the life of my chaste and modest
Louise. Now, now, madame, you have nothing to fear; you are pure and
innocent, and this little recitation of your by-gone days will seem
to us a chapter from 'La Pucelle d'Orleans.'"
"I dare to oppose myself to this lecture," said Louise, laughing.
"There are books which should only be read in solitude, and to that
class belong the volumes of my past life. I am ready in the presence
of your highness to have my future prophesied, but of my past I will
hear nothing--I know too much already."
"Had I been alone with Fraulein Lethow, I should have told her many
other things, and she would have been forced to believe in my power.
Only when these cards are under your eyes is my spirit clear."
"I must, then, in order to know the whole truth from you, be
entirely alone?" said the princess.
The prophet bowed silently. Amelia fixed a piercing glance upon him,
and nodded to her ladies.
"Go into the next room," said she. "And now," said the princess,
"you can begin."
The magician, instead of taking the cards, knelt before the princess
and kissed the hem of her robe. "I pray for mercy and forgiveness,"
said he; "I am nothing but a poor impostor! In order to reach the
presence of your royal highness, I have disguised myself under this
mask, which alone made it possible. But I swear to you, princess, no
one knows of this attempt, no one can ever know it--I alone am
guilty. Pardon, then, princess--pardon for this bold act. I was
forced to this step--forced to clasp your knees--to implore you in
your greatness and magnanimity, to stand by me! I was impelled
irresistibly, for I had sworn a fearful oath to do this thing."
"To whom have you sworn?" said the princess, sternly. "Who are you?
what do you ask of me?"
"I am Count Ranuzi, Austrian captain and prisoner of war. I implore
you, noble princess, to have mercy upon a poor, helpless prisoner,
consumed with grief and despair. God and the world have forsaken
him, but he has one protecting angel in whom he trusts, to whom he
prays--and her name is Amelia! He is bound in chains like a wild
beast--a hard stone is his couch, and a vault beneath is his grave--
he is living and buried--his heart lives and heaves and calls to
you, princess, for rescue."
The Princess Amelia shrank back trembling and groaning on the sofa;
her eyes were wide open, and staring in the distance. After a long
pause, she said, slowly: "Call his name."
"Frederick von Trenck!"
Amelia shuddered, and uttered a low cry. "Trenck!" repeated she,
softly; "oh, what sad melody lies in that word! It is like the
death-cry of my youth. I think the very air must weep when this name
vibrates upon it. Trenck, Trenck! How beautiful, how lovely that
sounds; it is a sweet, harmonious song; it sings to me softly of the
only happiness of my life. Ah, how long, how long since this song
was silenced! All within me is desolate! On every side my heart is
torn--on every side! Oh, so drear, so fearful! All! all!" Lost in
her own thoughts, these words had been slowly uttered. She had
forgotten that she was not alone with her remembrances, which like a
cloud had gathered round about her and shut off the outward world.
Ranuzi did not dare to recall her thoughts--he still knelt at her
Suddenly her whole frame trembled, and she sprang up. "My God! I
dream, while he calls me! I am idly musing, and Trenck has need of
me. Speak, sir, speak! What do you know of him? Have you seen him?
Did he send you to me?"
"He sent me, your highness, but I have not seen him. Have the grace
to listen to me. Ah, your highness, in what I now say I lay the
safety of a dear and valued friend, yes, his life, at your feet. One
word from you, and he will be delivered over to a court-martial and
be shot. But you will not speak that word--you are an angel of
"Speak, sir--speak, sir," said Amelia, breathlessly. "My God! do you
not see that I am dying from agitation?"
"Princess, Trenck lives--he is in chains--he is in a hole under the
earth--but he lives, and as long as he has life, he hopes in you--
has wild dreams of liberty, and his friends think and hope with him.
Trenck has friends who are ready to offer up their lives for him.
One of them is in the fortress of Magdeburg--he is lieutenant of the
guard; another is a Captain Kimsky, prisoner of war; I am a third. I
have known Trenck since my youth. In our beautiful days of mirth and
revelry, we swore to stand by each other in every danger. The moment
has come to fulfil my oath--Trenck is a prisoner, and I must help to
liberate him. Our numbers are few and dismembered--we need allies in
the fortress, and still more in the city. We need powerful
assistance, and no one but your highness can obtain it for us."
"I have an assured and confidential friend in Magdeburg," said the
princess; "at a hint from me he will be ready to stand by you to--"
Suddenly she was silent, and cast a searching, threatening glance at
Ranuzi. She had been too often deceived and circumvented--snares had
been too often laid at her feet--she was distrustful. "No, no," said
she, at last, sternly, rudely--"I will take no part in this folly.
Go, sir--go. You are a poor soothsayer, and I will have nothing to
do with you."
Ranuzi smiled, and drew a folded paper from his bosom, which he
handed to the princess. It contained these words: "Count Ranuzi is
an honest man--he can be trusted unconditionally." Under these words
was written: "Nel tue giorni felici, vicordati da me."
The breast of Amelia heaved convulsively--she gazed at these written
characters; at last her eyes filled with tears--at last her heart
was overcome by those painful and passionate feelings which she had
so long kept in bondage. She pressed the paper, the lines on which
were written with his blood, to her lips, and hot tears gushed from
those poor eyes which for long, long years, had lost the power to
"Now, sir," said she, "I believe in you, I trust you. Tell me what I
have to do."
"Three things fail us, princess: A house in Magdeburg, where
Trenck's friends can meet at all hours, and make all necessary
preparations, and where he can be concealed after his escape.
Secondly, a few reliable and confiding friends, who will unite with
us and aid us. Thirdly, we must have gold--we must bribe the guard,
we must buy horses, we must buy friends in the fortress, and lastly,
we must buy French clothing. Besides this, I must have permission to
go for a few days to Magdeburg, and there on the spot I can better
make the final preparations. A fair pretext shall not fail me for
this; Captain Kimsky is my near relative--he will be taken suddenly
ill, and as a dying request he will beg to see me; one of his
comrades will bring me notice of this, and I will turn imploringly
to your highness."
"I will obtain you a passport," said Amelia, decisively.
"While in Magdeburg, the flight will be arranged."
"And you believe you will succeed?" said the princess, with a bright
smile, which illuminated her poor deformed visage with a golden ray
"I do not only believe it, I know it; that is, if your royal
highness will assist us."
The princess made no reply; she stepped to her desk and took from it
several rolls of gold, then seated herself and wrote with a swift
hand: "You must trust the bearer fully, he is my friend; assist him
in all that he undertakes." She folded the paper and sealed it.
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