FREDERICK THE GREAT AND HIS FAMILY
Part 9 out of 16
Ranuzi followed every movement with flashing eyes and loudly beating
heart. As she took the pen to write the address a ray of wild
triumph lighted his dark face, and a proud smile played about his
mouth. As Amelia turned, all this disappeared, and he was dignified
and grave as before.
"Take this, sir," said she; "you see that I place in your power a
faithful and beloved friend, he is lost if you are false. As soon as
you reach Magdeburg go to him, and he will make other friends and
allies known to you."
"Can I make use of this address, and write under it to my friend
Kimsky?" said Ranuzi.
"Yes, without danger. To-day I will find means to inform him that he
may expect this letter. Here is gold, two hundred ducats, all that I
have at present. When this is exhausted, turn again to me and I will
again supply you."
Ranuzi took the gold and said, smilingly, "This is the magic means
by which we will break his chains."
Amelia took a costly diamond pin, which lay upon the table, and gave
it to Ranuzi. She pointed to the paper marked with blood, which she
still held in her hand.
"This is a most precious jewel which you have given me--let us
Ranuzi fell upon his knees and kissed her hand as ho took the pin.
"And now, sir, go. My maid is a salaried spy, and a longer interview
would make you suspected. You would be watched, and all discovered.
Go! If I believed in the power of prayer, I would lie upon my knees
night and day, and pray for God's blessing upon your effort. As it
is, I can only follow you with my thoughts and hopes. Farewell!"
"Your royal highness sends no reply to these lines, written with
Trenck's heart's blood?"
Amelia took the pen and wrote a few hasty lines upon the paper,
which she handed Ranuzi. The words were: "Ovunque tu sei vicina ti
"Give him that," said she; "it is not written with my heart's blood,
but my heart bleeds for him--bleeds ever inwardly. And now resume
your role of soothsayer--I must call my ladies."
The afternoon of this day Ranuzi wrote to his friend, Captain
Kimsky, prisoner of war at Magdeburg: "The train is laid, and will
succeed. The fortress will soon be in our hands. A romantic,
sentimental woman's heart is a good thing, easily moved to
intrigues. Magdeburg will be ours! Prepare everything--be ill, and
call for me; I shall get a passport. I have a powerful protectress,
and with such, you know, a man mar attain all the desires of his
A COURT DAY IN BERLIN.
It was the birthday of Prince Henry, and was to be celebrated with
great pomp at the court. The king had himself written explicitly on
this subject to the master of ceremonies, Baron Pollnitz. Pollnitz
was, therefore, actively occupied in the early morning, and no
general ever made his preparations for a battle with more
earnestness and importance than the good baron gave his orders for
the splendid fete which was to be given in the royal apartments that
And this was indeed a great opportunity. The people of Berlin were
to enjoy a ball and a concert, at which all the Italian singers were
to be present; and then a rare and costly supper, to which not only
the court, but all the officers who were prisoners of war were to be
This supper was to Pollnitz the great circumstance, the middle point
of the fete. Such an entertainment was now rare at the court of
Berlin, and many months might pass away ere the queen would think of
giving another supper. Pollnitz knew that when he thirsted now for a
luxurious meal he must enjoy it at his own cost, and this thought
made him shudder. The worthy baron was at the same time a
spendthrift and a miser.
Four times in every year he had three or four days of rare and rich
enjoyment; he lived en grand seigneur, and prepared for himself
every earthly luxury; these were the first three or four days of
every quarter in which he received his salary. With a lavish hand he
scattered all the gold which he could keep back from his greedy
creditors, and felt himself young, rich, and happy. After these
fleeting days of proud glory came months of sad economy; he was
obliged to play the role of a parasitical plant, attach himself to
some firm, well-rooted stem, and absorb its strength and muscle. In
these days of restraint he watched like a pirate all those who were
in the condition to keep a good table, and so soon as he learned
that a dinner was on hand, he knew how to conquer a place. At these
times he was also a passionate devotee of the card-table, and it was
the greatest proof of his versatility and dexterity that he always
succeeded in making up his party, though every man knew it cost gold
to play cards with Pollnitz. The grand-master had the exalted
principles of Louis XV. of France, who was also devoted to cards.
Every evening the great Louis set apart a thousand louis d'or to win
or lose. If the king won, the gold went into his private pocket; if
he lost, the state treasury suffered.
Following this royal example, Pollnitz placed the gold he won in his
pocket; if he lost, he borrowed the money to pay--he considered this
borrowed sum as also the clear profit of his game; he was assured to
win, and in this way he obtained his pocket money.
To-day, however, he would not be merry at a strange table; he
himself would do the honors, and he had conducted the arrangements
of the table with a scholarship and knowledge of details which would
have obtained the admiration of the Duke de Richelieu.
On this occasion it was not necessary to restrain his luxurious
desires and tastes. Honor demanded that the court should show itself
in full pomp and splendor, and prove to the world that this long,
wearisome war had not exhausted the royal treasury, nor the royal
table service of silver; in short, that it was an easy thing to
carry on the war, without resorting to the private treasures of the
It was, therefore, necessary to bring out for this great occasion
the golden service which had been the king's inheritance from his
mother. Frederick's portion had been lately increased by the death
of the Margravino of Baireuth, who had explicitly willed her part to
her brother Frederick. [Footnote: When the court fled, after the
battle of Kunendorf, to Magdeburg, they took the golden service
which the king inherited from his mother with them; that portion
given to Frederick by the margravino was left in Berlin, and the
next year, 1760, was seized by the Russians and carried to
Petersburg--"Geschichte Berlins," vol. v., p. 2.]
The queen and the princesses were to appear in all the splendor of
their jewels, and by their costly and exquisite toilets impose upon
these proud and haughty officers, whom fate had sent as prisoners of
war to Berlin, and who would not fail to inform their respective
governments of all they saw in the capital.
This fete was a demonstration made by the king to his over-confident
enemies. He would prove to them that if he wished for peace it was
not because the gold failed to carry on the war, but because he
wished to give rest and the opportunity to recover to Europe,
groaning and bleeding from a thousand wounds. Besides this, the king
wished to show his subjects, by the celebration of his brother's
birthday, how highly he honored the prince--how gladly he embraced
the opportunity to distinguish the young general who, during the
whole war, had not lost a single battle; but, by his bold and
masterly movements, had come to the king's help in the most
difficult and dangerous moments.
This celebration should be a refutation of the rumors spread abroad
by the king's enemies, that Frederick regarded the success and
military talent of his brother with jealous envy.
There were, therefore, many reasons why Pollnitz should make this a
luxurious and dazzling feast; he knew also that Prince Henry would
receive a detailed account of the celebration from his adjutant,
Count Kalkreuth, who had lingered some months in Berlin because of
his wounds, was now fully restored, and would leave Berlin the
morning after the ball to return to the army.
And now the important hour had arrived. Pollnitz wandered through
the saloons with the searching glance of a warrior on the field of
battle; he pronounced that all was good.
The saloons were dazzling with light; pomp and splendor reigned
throughout, and on entering the supper-room you were almost blinded
by the array of gold and silver adorning the costly buffet, on whose
glittering surface the lights were a thousand times reflected.
Suddenly the rooms began to fill; everywhere gold-embroidered
uniforms, orders, stars, and flashing gems were to be seen; a
promiscuous and strange crowd was moving through these lofty
saloons, illuminated by thousands of lights and odorous with the
fragrance of flowers.
Side by side with the rich, fantastic uniform of the Russian, was
seen the light and active French chasseur; here was to be seen the
Hungarian hussar, whose variegated and tasteful costume contrasted
curiously with the dark and simple uniform of the Spaniard, who
stood near him, both conversing gayly with an Italian, dressed in
the white coat of an Austrian officer.
It seemed as if every nation in Europe had arranged a rendezvous for
this day in the royal palace at Berlin, or as it the great Frederick
had sent specimens to his people of all the various nations against
whom he had undertaken this gigantic war.
There were not only Germans from all the provinces, but Italians,
Spaniards, Russians, Swedes, Hungarians, Netherlanders, and
Frenchmen. All these were prisoners of war--their swords had been
stained with the blood of Prussians; the fate of war now confined
them to the scabbard, and changed the enemies of the king into
guests at his court.
Hundreds of captive officers were now waiting in the saloon for the
appearance of the queen, but the Prussian army was scarcely
represented. All who were fit for service were in the field, only
the invalids and the old warriors, too infirm for active duty had
remained at the capital; even the youths who had not attained the
legal age for military duty, had hastened to the army, full of
courage and enthusiasm, inspired by the example of their fathers and
The dazzling appearance of these royal saloons was therefore mostly
owing to the flashing uniforms of the prisoners of war. Only a few
old Prussian generals, and the courtiers, whose duties prevented
them from being heroes, were added to the number.
Herr von Giurgenow, and his friend Captain Belleville, were invited
to the ball, and were well pleased to offer their homage to the
majesty of Prussia. Count Ranuzi, who, reserved and silent as usual,
had been wandering through the saloons, now joined them, and they
had all withdrawn to a window, in order to observe quietly and
undisturbed the gay crowd passing before them.
"Look you," said Ranuzi, laughing, "this reminds me of the frantic
confusion in the anterooms of hell, which Dante has described in
such masterly style. We all wear our glittering masks, under which
our corpses are hidden; one word from our master and this drapery
would fall off, and these grinning death-heads be brought to ruin.
It depends solely upon the will of Frederick of Prussia to speak
this word. He is our master, and when he commands it, we must lay
aside our swords and exchange our uniforms for the garments of a
"He will not dare to do this," said Giurgenow; "all Europe would
call him a barbarian, and make him answerable for his insolence."
"First, all Europe must be in a condition to call him to account,"
said Ranuzi, laughing; "and that is certainly not the case at
present, I am sorry to say."
"You have not heard, then," said Belleville, "of the glorious
victory which our great General Broglie has gained over Duke
Ferdinand of Brunswick; all France is jubilant over this happy
event, and the Marquise de Pompadour, or rather King Louis, has made
this second Turenne, our noble Broglie, marshal."
"I know of this," said Ranuzi; "but I know also that the fortune of
battles is inconstant, otherwise we would not now be here."
"It is to be hoped we will not be here long," said Giurgenow,
impatiently. "Does it not lie in our power to go at once? What think
you? Have we not our swords? They have not dared to take them from
us! They tremble before us, and honor, in our persons, the nations
we represent. Look at the complaisance and consideration with which
we are met on all sides. The King of Prussia fears his powerful
enemies, and does all in his power to conciliate them. Suppose that
to-night, as soon as the royal family are assembled, we draw our
swords and take them all prisoners; we have overpowering numbers,
and I think it would be an easy victory. We could make a fortress of
this palace, and defend ourselves; they would not dare to make a
violent attack, as the queen and princesses would be in our power.
What think you of this plan, Count Ranuzi?"
Ranuzi met the sharp and piercing glance of the Russian with cool
"I think it bold, but impossible. We could not maintain our
position, one hour. The garrison of Berlin would overcome us. We
have no thousands of prisoners in the casements here, as in Kustrin,
to aid us in such an attempt."
"The count is right," said Belleville, gayly; "such a grandiose and
warlike conspiracy would amount to nothing. We must revenge
ourselves in another way for the tedious ennui we are made to endure
here, and my friends and myself are resolved to do so. We will no
longer submit to the shackles of etiquette, which are laid upon us;
we will be free from the wearisome constraint which hems us in on
every side. These proud ladies wish us to believe that they are
modest and virtuous, because they are stiff and ceremonious. They
make a grimace at every equivoque. We will prove to them that we are
not blinded by this outward seeming, and not disposed to lie like
Dutchmen, languishing at the feet of our inexorable fair ones. Our
brave brothers have conquered the Prussians at Hochkirch and at
Bergen; we cannot stand side by side with them in the field, but
here, at least, we can humble the Prussian women!"
"I can well believe," whispered Giurgenow, "that you would be
pleased to humble the beautiful Fraulein von Marshal?"
"Ah, my friend," said Ranuzi, laughing, "you touch the wound of our
poor friend. You do not seem to know that the beautiful Marshal is
responsible for the scorn and rage of Count Belleville. she is
indeed a haughty and presumptuous beauty; she not only dared to
reject the love of the fascinating count, but she showed him the
door; and when afterward he ventured to send her a passionate and
tender billet-doux, she informed him, through her servant, that she
would give the letter to her chambermaid, for whom, without doubt,
it was intended."
"Eh bien, what do you say to this insolence?" cried the enraged
Frenchman. "But she shall do penance for it. I have already made the
necessary arrangements with my friends. This is not simply a
personal affair, it touches the general honor. The whole French
army, all France, is insulted in my person. It is necessary we
should have satisfaction, not only from this presumptuous lady, but
from all the ladies of the court! We will have our revenge this
evening! We will show to these dull dames what we think of their
prudery. And the queen shall see that we are not at all inclined to
bow down to her stiff ceremonies. She is, in our eyes, not a queen--
simply the wife of an enemy over whom we will soon triumph
"I counsel you, however, to wait till the hour of triumph for your
revenge," said Ranuzi. "Your intentions may lead to the worst
consequences for us all. The great Frederick will never be a
harmless adversary till he is dead, and we would all be
ignominiously punished for any contempt shown the queen. You have a
personal affair with Fraulein Marshal; well, then, you must make her
personally responsible; but do not involve us all in your
difficulties. It would be an easy thing to forfeit even this
appearance of freedom."
"You are right," said Giurgenow; "we might be banished from Berlin,
and that would be a bitter punishment for us all."
"But look! the doors are being thrown open, and the queen and court
will appear; you will have the happiness of seeing your cruel fair
one," whispered Ranuzi to the Frenchman.
"I assure you she shall repent of her cruelty to-night," said
Belleville, gnashing his teeth. Exchanging a significant glance with
several French officers, who were standing not far off, he advanced
into the saloon to the outer circle, which was formed on both sides,
and through which the queen and court must pass.
Now the grand master of ceremonies appeared on the threshold, with
his golden staff. Behind him the queen and the Princess Amelia
entered the room; both appeared in all the pomp and splendor of
their rank. A small diamond-crown glittered in the blonde hair of
the queen, a magnificent necklace of diamonds and emeralds was
clasped around her dazzlingly white and beautifully formed throat.
Bielfeld had once declared that this necklace could purchase a
kingdom. A white robe worked with silver and a dark-red velvet shawl
trimmed with ermine fell in graceful folds around the noble and
graceful figure of the queen, whose bowed head, and quiet, modest
bearing contrasted strangely with the luxury and splendor which
Another striking contrast to the queen was offered in the presence
of the Princess Amelia. Like her royal sister, she appeared in
complete toilet, adorned with all her jewels--her arms, her throat,
her hair, and her hands flashed with diamonds. The festoons of her
robe of silver gauze were fastened up with diamond buttons, and
beneath appeared a green robe embroidered with silver. The princess
knew full well that all this splendor of toilet, all these flashing
gems, would bring into contemptuous notice her sharp, angular
figure, and her poor deformed visage; she knew that the eyes of all
would he fixed upon her in derision, that her appearance alone would
be greeted as a cherished source of amusement, and as soon as her
back was turned the whole court would laugh merrily. She assumed, as
usual, a cold contemptuous bearing; she met mockery with mockery,
and revenged herself by sharp wit and cutting irony for the derisive
glances which plainly spoke what the lips dared not utter. She no
sooner entered the saloon than she began to greet her acquaintances;
every word contained a poisonous sting, which inflicted a grievous
wound. When she read in the faces of her victims that her sharp
arrows had entered the quivering flesh, a malicious fire sparkled in
her eyes, and a bitter smile played upon her lips.
Behind the queen and Princess Amelia appeared the Princess Henry.
She was also superbly dressed, but those who looked upon her thought
not of her toilet; they were refreshed, enraptured by her adorable
beauty--by the goodness and purity written on her rosy cheek. To-
day, however, the eyes of the princesses were less clear and
dazzling than usual--a gleam of sadness shadowed her fair brow, and
her coral lips trembled lightly as if in pain. Perhaps it was the
remembrance of the beautiful and happy days, past and gone like a
dream, which made the lonely present seem so bitter. Absentminded
and thoughtful, she stepped forward without looking to the right or
left, regardless of the flashing orders and stars, of the handsome
officers and courtly circle bowing profoundly before her as she
The court had now passed; the bowed heads were raised, and now the
young French officers cast impertinent, almost challenging glances,
at the ladies of the queen and the princesses, who drew near and
bestowed here and there stolen smiles and light greetings upon their
Fraulein Marshal did not seem to be aware that the insolent eyes of
these haughty Frenchmen were fixed upon her. Proudly erect she
advanced; her large blue eyes were turned toward the princess; she
gave neither glance nor smile to any one; her noble and beautiful
countenance had a stern, resolved expression--her lips were pouting,
and her usually soft eyes told tales of an angry soul. There was
something Juno-like in her appearance--she was lovely to behold, but
cold and stern in her beauty.
As she passed by Count Belleville, he exclaimed with a sigh to his
neighbor: "Ah, look at this majestic Galatea, this beautiful marble
statue, which can only be awaked to life by kisses."
Fraulein Marshal trembled slightly; a crimson blush suffused her
face, her shoulders, and even her back; but she did not hesitate or
turn. She moved on slowly, though she heard the officers laughing
and whispering--though she felt that their presumptuous eyes were
fixed upon her.
The queen and princesses made the grande tournee through the rooms,
and then mingled with the guests; all formal etiquette was now laid
aside, and a gay and unembarrassed conversation might be carried on
till the beginning of the concert. This seemed to degenerate, on the
part of the French officers, to an indiscreet, frenzied levity. They
laughed and talked boisterously--they walked arm in arm before the
ladies, and remarked upon them so boldly, that crimson blushes, or
frightened pallor, was the result. Even the queen remarked the
strange and unaccountable excitement of her guests, and to put an
end to it, she entered the concert-room and ordered the music to
commence. Even this had no effect. The royal capello played an
overture composed by the king, with masterly precision--the singers
emulated them in an Italian aria--but all this did not silence the
noisy conversation of the Frenchmen. They laughed and chatted
without restraint; and neither the amazed glances of the princesses
nor the signs of the grand-master of ceremonies, made the slightest
impression upon them.
Suddenly there was a slight pause, and the Princess Amelia rose up
from her seat and beckoned with her fan to Baron Pollnitz. In a loud
and angry voice, she said: "Baron Pollnitz, I insist upon your
forcing these shrieking popinjays of the Marquise de Pompadour to
silence. We cannot hear the music for their loud chattering. The
like birds may pass very well in the gallant boudoir of a certain
marquise, but not in a royal palace of Berlin."
Pollnitz shrank back in alarm, and fixed an imploring look upon the
princess. Amongst the French officers arose an angry murmur,
swelling louder and louder, more and more threatening, and
completely drowning the music which was just recommencing.
The queen bowed down to the princess. "I pray you, sister," said she
in a low voice, "remember that we are poor, unprotected women, and
not in a condition to defend ourselves. Let us appear not to remark
this unmannerly conduct, and let us remember that the king has made
it our duty to receive the French officers with marked attention."
"You, sister, are simply a slave to the commands of the king. He is
more truly your master than your husband," said the princess,
The queen smiled sweetly. "You are right; I am his slave, and my
soul has chosen him for its lord. Blame me not, then, for my
"Do you intend to allow the arrogant presumption of these haughty
Frenchmen to go unpunished?"
"I will take pains not to observe it," said the queen, turning her
attention again to the music. During all this time, Count Belleville
stood behind Fraulein Marshal. While the concert was going on, he
bowed over her and spoke long and impressively. Fraulein Marshal did
not reply; neither his ardent love-assurances, nor his glowing
reproaches, nor his passionate entreaties, nor his bold and
offensive insolence, could draw from her one word, one look.
When the concert was over, and they were about to return to the
saloon where, until supper, they could dance and amuse themselves,
the young maiden turned with calm composure and indifference to
Count Belleville. "Sir, I forbid you to molest me with your
presence, and I counsel you no longer to offend my ears with these
indecent romances, which you have no doubt learned upon the streets
of Paris. But if, believing that I am unprotected, you still dare to
insult me, I Inform you that my father has this moment arrived, and
will certainly relieve me from your disagreeable and troublesome
society." She spoke aloud, and not only Belleville, but the group of
French officers who stood behind him, heard every word. She passed
by them with calm indifference and joined a large, elderly officer,
who was leaning against a pillar, and who stretched out his hand
smilingly toward her.
"Father," she said, "God himself put it in your heart to come to
Berlin this day. You are by my side, and I have nothing to fear. I
know you can protect me."
In the mean time, the musicians commenced to play the grave and at
the same time coquettish minuet, and the officers drew near the
ladies to lead them to the dance. This was done, however, in so bold
and unconstrained a manner, with such manifest nonchalance, the
request was made with such levity, the words were so little
respectful, that the ladies drew back frightened. Princess Amelia
called Fraulein Marshal to her side. She took her hand with a kindly
"My child," she said, "I rejoice that you have the courage to defy
these shameless coxcombs. Go on, and count upon my protection. Why
are you not dancing?"
"Because no one has asked me."
At this moment an officer drew near with diligent haste, apparently
to lead her to the dance. While in the act of offering his hand to
her he made a sudden movement, as if he had just recognized the
lady, turned his back, and withdrew without a word of apology.
The princess was enraged. "I promise you they shall be punished for
this presumption. "She turned to Baron Marshal, who stood behind his
daughter: "Baron," said she, "if this leads to a duel, I will be
IN THE WINDOW-NICHE.
While these events were occurring in the dancing-room, and the queen
was seated at the card-table, the Princess Wilhelmina, wife of
Prince Henry, stood in the window-niche of the ball-room and
conversed with Count Kalkreuth, the friend and adjutant of her
husband. The count had been sent home amongst the wounded, but he
was now restored and about to return to the camp. They spoke quickly
and impressively together, but the music drowned their words and
made them indistinct to all others. What said they to each other?
Seemingly petty and indifferent things. They had, perhaps, a deeper,
secret meaning, for the countenance of the princess and that of the
count were grave, and the sweet smile had vanished from the charming
face of the princess. They spoke of unimportant things, perhaps,
because they had not the courage for the great word which must be
spoken--the word farewell!
"Your royal highness has then no further commission to give me for
the prince?" said the count, after a pause.
"No," said the princess; "I wrote to him yesterday by the courier.
Describe the ball to him, and tell him how we are, and how you left
"I must tell him, then, that your highness is perfectly gay,
entirely happy, and glowing with health and beauty," said the count.
These were simple and suitable words, but they were spoken in a hard
and bitter tone.
The princess fixed her large soft eyes with an almost pleading
expression upon the count; then with a quick movement she took a
wreath of white roses, which she wore in her bosom, and held them
toward him. "As a proof that I am gay and happy," said she, "take
these flowers to my husband, and tell him I adorned myself with them
in honor of his fete."
The count pressed his lips convulsively together and looked angrily
upon the princess, but he did not raise his hand to take the
flowers--did not appear to see that she held them toward him.
"Well, sir," said the Princess Wilhelmina, "you do not take the
"No," said he, passionately, "I will not take them." The princess
looked anxiously around; she feared some one might have heard this
stormy "No." She soon convinced herself that there was no listener
nearer than her maid of honor; Fraulein Marshal was still near the
Princess Amelia, and she was somewhat isolated by etiquette; she
saw, therefore, that she dared carry on this conversation.
"Why will you not take my flowers?" she said, proudly.
The count drew nearer. "I will tell you, princess," said he--"I will
tell you, if this passionate pain now burning in my breast does not
slay me. I will not take your flowers, because I will not be a
messenger of love between you and the prince; because I cannot
accept the shame and degradation which such an office would lay upon
me. Princess you have forgotten, but I remember there was a wondrous
time in which I, and not the prince, was favored with a like
precious gift. At that time you allowed me to hope that this
glowing, inextinguishable feeling which filled my heart, my soul,
found an echo in your breast; that at least you would not condemn me
to die unheard, misunderstood."
"I knew not at that time that my husband loved me," murmured the
princess; "I thought I was free and justified in giving that heart
which no one claimed to whom I would."
"You had no sooner learned that the prince loved you than you turned
from me, proud and cold," said the count, bitterly; "relentlessly,
without mercy, without pity, you trampled my heart under your feet,
and not a glance, not a word showed me that you had any remembrance
of the past. I will tell you what I suffered. You have a cold heart,
it will make you happy to hear of any anguish. I loved you so madly
I almost hated you; in the madness of my passion I cursed you. I
thanked God for the war, which forced me to that for which I had
never found the moral strength to leave you. Yes, I was grateful
when the war called me to the field--I hoped to die. I did not wish
to dishonor my name by suicide. I was recklessly brave, because I
despised life--I rushed madly into the ranks of the enemy, seeking
death at their hands, but God's blessed minister disdained me even
as you had done. I was borne alive from the battle-field and brought
to Berlin to be nursed and kindly cared for. No one knew that here I
received daily new and bitter wounds. You were always cruel, cruel
even to the last moment; you saw my sufferings, but you were
inexorable. Oh, princess, it would have been better to refuse me
entrance, to banish me from your presence, than to make my heart
torpid under the influence of your cold glance, your polished
speech, which ever allured me and yet kept me at a distance. You
have played a cruel game with me, princess you mock me to the last.
Shall I be your messenger to the prince? You know well that I would
give my heart's blood for one of those sweet flowers, and you send
them by me to another. My humility, my subjection is at an end; you
have sinned against me as a woman, and I have therefore the right to
accuse you as a man. I will not take these flowers! I will not give
them to the prince! And now I have finished--I beg you to dismiss
The princess had listened tremblingly; her face became ever paler--
completely exhausted, she leaned against the wall.
"Before you go," whispered she, "listen to a few words; it may be
that the death you seek may be found on the battle-field--this may
be our last interview in this world; in such a moment we dare speak
the truth to each other; from the souls which have been closely
veiled, may cloud and darkness be for one moment lifted. What I now
say to you shall go as a sacred secret with you to the grave, if you
fall; but if God hears my prayer, and you return, I command you to
forget it, never to remind me of it. You say I have a cold heart.
Alas! I only choked the flame which raged within me; I would have my
honor and my duty burned to ashes. You say that my eyes are never
clouded, that they shed no tears. Ah! believe me, I have wept
inwardly, and the silent, unseen tears the heart weeps are bitterer
than all others. You reproach me for having received you when you
returned here sick and wounded, and for not having closed my doors
against you. I know well that was my duty, and a thousand times I
have prayed to God on my knees for strength to do this, but He did
not hear me or He had no mercy. I could not send you off; had my
lips spoken the fearful words, the shriek of my heart would have
called you back. My lips had strength to refuse an answer to the
question which I read in your face, in your deep dejection, but my
heart answered you in silence and tears. Like you, I could not
forget--like you I remembered the bounteous sweet past. Now you know
all--go! As you will not take these flowers to the prince, they are
yours, were intended for you; I have baptized them with my tears.
She gave him the flowers, and without looking toward him, without
giving him time to answer, she stepped forward and called her
"Count Saldow, be kind enough to accompany Count Kalkreuth, and give
him the books and papers my husband has ordered."
Wilhelmina passed on proudly, calmly, with a smile on her lips, but
no one knew what it cost her poor heart. She did not look back.
Kalkreuth would have given years to take leave once more of the
lovely face, to ask pardon for the hard, rude words he had dared to
say. The princess had still the bashful timidity of virtue; after
the confession she had made she dared not look upon him. The count
controlled himself; he followed Saldow. He was bewildered,
rapturously giddy. As he left the castle and entered his carriage he
looked up at the window and said: "I will not die!--I will return!"-
-then pressed the bouquet to his lips and sank back in the carriage.
THE NUTSHELLS BEHIND THE FAUTEUIL OF THE QUEEN.
Princess Wilhelmina, as we have said, did not look back; she stepped
silently through the ball-room, and approached the Princess Amelia.
She stood for a moment behind a couple who were dancing the
Francaise. The French officers had just taught this dance to the
Prussian ladies as the newest Parisian mode.
It was a graceful and coquettish dance, approaching and avoiding;
the ladies stood opposite their cavaliers, and advanced with smiling
grace, then appeared to fly from them in mocking haste. They were
pursued in artistic tours by their cavaliers; at the end of the
dance their hands were clasped in each other's, and they danced
through the room with the graceful time and step of the minuet.
Princess Wilhelmina stood silent and unobservant; she knew not the
dance was ended; she knew not that the music was silenced. A softer,
sweeter, dearer melody sounded in her ears; she heard the echo of
that voice which had spoken scornfully, despairingly, and yet love
had been the sweet theme.
The sudden stillness waked her from her dream and she stepped
forward. The general silence was interrupted by the well-known
coarse, stern voice of the Princess Amelia.
"Does this dance please you, Baron Marshal? The French officers have
taught it to our ladies as a return for the dance which our brave
Prussian soldiers taught the French at Rossbach; at Rossbach,
however, they danced to a quicker, faster tempo. These Frenchmen are
now calling out, 'En avant!' but at Rossbach, I am told, 'En
arriere!' was the word of command."
A death-like silence followed these sarcastic words of the princess,
and throughout the room her mocking, derisive laugh which followed
these words was distinctly heard. She rose, and leaning upon the arm
of Baron Marshal, advanced to meet the Princess Wilhelmina, and cast
a fierce glance at the officers, who were assembled in groups and
talking in low tones but earnestly with each other.
Suddenly Belleville, leaning on another officer, advanced from one
of these groups; they walked backward and forward, laughing and
chattering loudly, without regarding the presence of the princess.
They then drew near the orchestra, and called out in a jovial tone:
"Messieurs, have the kindness to play a Dutch waltz, but in the
quick time which the Austrians played at Hochkirch, when they drove
the Prussians before them; and in which Field-Marshal Broglie played
at Bergen, when he tramped upon the Prussians! Play on, messieurs!
Belleville then danced forward with great levity of manner to
Fraulein Marshal, who stood by the side of her father; without
saluting her, he seized her hand.
"Come, ma toute belle," said he, "you have played the marble statue
long enough for one day; it is time that you should awake to life in
my arms. Come, then, and dance with me your lascivious Dutch waltz,
which no respectable woman in France would dare to dance! Come!
Belleville tried to drag Fraulein Marshal forward, but at the
instant a powerful and heavy arm was laid upon him, and his hand was
dashed off rudely.
"I have heard you to the end," said Baron Marshal, calmly; "I wished
to see a little of the renowned gallantry of which the Frenchman is
so proud. It appears to me that a strange ton must now reign in
Paris, well suited, perhaps, to the boudoirs of mistresses, but not
fitting or acceptable to the ears of respectable women. I beg you
therefore, sir, not to assume this ton in Berlin; I am resolved not
to endure it."
Belleville laughed aloud, drew very near the baron, and looked him
insolently in the face.
"Who are you, monsieur, who dare take the liberty of begging me, who
do not know you, to do or not do any thing?"
"I am Baron Marshal, the father of this lady whom you have dared to
Belleville laughed still louder than before.
"Aha! that is a beautiful fairy tale! You who are as hideous as a
baboon, and have borrowed the eyes of the cat!--you the father of
the lovely Galatea Marshal!--tell that tale to other ears--I do not
believe in such aberrations of Nature. I repeat my question: who are
you? what is your name?"
"I repeat to you, I am Baron Marshal, the father of this lady."
"You are more credulous, sir, than I am, if you believe that," said
"Perhaps I am less credulous than you suppose," said Marshal,
quietly. "It would, for example, be difficult for me to believe that
you are a nobleman. I can assure you, however, that I am not only
noble, but a man of honor."
Belleville was in the act of giving a passionate answer, when the
doors of the supper-room were thrown open, and a sea of light
irradiated the room.
At this moment, the queen and her ladies entered from the card-room,
and, at her appearance, every word, every sound was hushed.
Silently, and with a conciliatory smile, the queen passed through
the saloon, and seated herself at the table; she then gave the sign
to the grand-master, that her guests should be seated. And now the
servants, in golden liveries, flew from side to side bearing silver
plates, containing the rare and fragrant viands which the inventive
head of Baron Pollnitz had ordered for the favored guests of her
majesty the Queen of Prussia.
Nothing is so well calculated to quiet the perturbed soul as a
costly and well-prepared feast. The haughty Frenchmen soon forgot
their mortified vanity and resentment, and were well pleased to be
seated at the table of the "great Frederick." They ate and drank
right merrily in honor of the bold and brave prince who had sent
them here from Rossbach; but if the rich dishes made them forget
their mortification, the fiery wine excited yet more their
presumptuous levity. They forgot that they were the guests of a
queen. Louder and more extravagant was their gayety, more
boisterous, more indiscreet their unrestrained laughter. In their
frantic merriment they dared to sing aloud some of the little
ambiguous, equivocal chansons, which belonged to the gamins of
Paris, and at which the Marquise de Pompadour laughed till she shed
tears when sung sometimes by the merry courtiers.
In vain the grand-master besought them, in his most polished manner,
not to sing at table.
"We have been so long forced to listen to the dull, screeching
discord of your singers, that we must have some compensation!" said
they. "Besides," said Belleville, in a loud voice, "it belongs now
to bon ton to sing at the table; and the Prussian court should thank
us for introducing this new Parisian mode."
They sang, chatted, laughed, and almost overpowered the music by
their boisterous levity. Their presumptuous revelry seemed to be
every moment on the increase. The Austrian and Russian officers
looked upon them with disgust and alarm, and entreated them to
desist; but the French officers were regardless of all etiquette.
During the dessert, Belleville and some of his friends arose and
drew near the table at which the queen and the princesses were
seated; this was in the middle of the room, and slightly separated
from the other tables. They gazed at the princesses with insolent
eyes, and, placing themselves behind the chair of the queen, they
began to crack nuts with their teeth, and throw the shells
carelessly upon the floor, near her majesty.
The queen continued a quiet conversation with the Princess
Wilhelmina, and appeared wholly unconscious of this rudeness and
vulgarity; but her face was pallid, and her eyes filled with tears.
"I pray your majesty to rise from the table!" said the Princess
Wilhelmina. "Look at the Princess Amelia; her countenance glows with
anger; there is a tempest on her brow, and it is about to burst upon
"You are right; that is the best way to end this torture." She rose
from the table, and gave a sign for a general movement. When the
queen and her suite had left the room, Baron Marshal drew near Count
"Sir." said he. "I told you before that I was not sufficiently
credulous to take you for a nobleman. Your conduct at the table has
proved that I did well to doubt you. Yourself and friends have shown
that you are strangers to the duties of cavaliers, and utterly
ignorant of the manners of good society."
"Ah!" cried Belleville, "this offence demands satisfaction."
"I am ready to grant it," said Baron Marshal; "name the time and
place of meeting."
"You know well," cried Belleville, "that I am a prisoner, and have
given my word of honor not to use my sword!"
"So you were impertinent and shameless, because you knew you were
safe? You knew that, thanks to your word of honor, you could not be
"Sir," cried Belleville, "you forget that you speak not only to a
nobleman, but to a soldier."
" Well, I know that I speak to a Frenchman, who lost his powder-
mantle and pomatum-pot at Rossbach."
Belleville, beside himself with rage, seized his sword, and half
drew it from the scabbard.
"God be praised, I have a sword with which to revenge insult!" he
cried. "I have given my word not to use it on the battle-field
against the Prussians, but here we stand as private adversaries, man
to man, and I challenge you, sir--I challenge you to mortal combat.
I will have satisfaction! You have insulted me as a nobleman, as a
Frenchman, and as a soldier. No consideration shall restrain me. I
dare not use my sword--well, then, we will fight with pistols. As to
time and place, expect me to-morrow, at eight o'clock, in the
"I accept the conditions, and I will await you with your seconds,"
said Baron Marshal.
"If the baron has not chosen his seconds," said a soft voice behind
him, "I beg to offer my services."
Baron Marshal turned, and saw an officer in the Austrian uniform.
"Count Ranuzi," cried Belleville, astonished; "how, monsieur! you
offer yourself as second to my adversary? I had thought to ask this
service of you."
"I suspected so, "said Ranuzi, with his accustomed calm and quiet
manner, "therefore I anticipated you. The right is certainly on the
side of Baron Marshal, and in offering myself as his second. I do so
in the name of all the Austrian officers who are present. They have
all seen the events of this evening with painful indignation.
Without doubt the world will soon be acquainted with them; we wish
to make an open, public demonstration that we wholly disapprove the
conduct of the French officers. The nutshells thrown behind the
fauteuil of the queen have made us your adversaries, Count
"That is not the occasion of this duel, but the affront offered me
by Baron Marshal," cried Belleville. "This being the case, will you
still be the second of my opponent?"
"I was compelled to insult you," said Baron Marshal, "because you
would have given me no satisfaction for the nutshells thrown behind
the fauteuil of the queen; but be assured that I don't fight with
you in order that you may wash out my offence with my blood, but
wholly and alone that your blood may wash away the nutshells from
the feet of the queen."
Baron Marshal then turned to Ranuzi. "I accept your offer, sir, and
rejoice to make the acquaintance of a true nobleman. Have the
goodness to meet the seconds of Count Belleville, and make all
necessary arrangements. I will call for you early in the morning. I
only say further that it is useless to make any attempts at
reconciliation--I shall not listen to them. Prussia and France are
at war. My great king has made no peace--I also will not hear of it.
The nutshells lie behind the fauteuil of the queen, and only the
blood of Count Belleville can wash them away."
He bowed to Ranuzi, and joined his daughter, who, pale and
trembling, awaited him in the next room.
"Oh, father," said she, with tears gushing from her eyes, "your life
is in danger--you meet death on my account I"
"No, thank God, my child, your name will not be mixed up in this
affair. No one can say that the mortified father revenged an insult
offered to his daughter. I fight this duel not for you, but because
of the nutshells behind the fauteuil of the queen."
THE DUEL AND ITS CONSEQUENCES.
Early in the morning two horsemen dashed down the Linden. Their loud
conversation, their pert and noisy laughter, aroused the curiosity
of the porters who stood yawning in the house-doors, and the maids
opened the windows and gazed curiously at the two gallant French
officers who were taking such an early ride to the Thiergarden. When
the girls were young and pretty, Belleville threw them a kiss as he
passed by, and commanded them to give it with his tenderest greeting
to their fair mistress.
"Happily," said his companion, "these good Berliners do not
understand our speech sufficiently to inform their mistresses of
this last insolence of Count Belleville."
"They do not, but their mistresses do, and I cannot think that they
are still sleeping. No, I am convinced they have risen early, and
are now standing behind their maids, and watching us go by. In this
street dwell those who call themselves society; they were at the
castle yesterday, and know of this duel. I think our good marquise
will one day reward me richly for this duel, when I tell her I stood
behind the queen and cracked nuts like a gamin in Paris, and that I
was shot at because of the nutshells. She will laugh tears--tears
which I will strive to convert into diamonds for myself."
"You feel assured that you will return unharmed from this duel?"
"Yes, I cannot doubt it. I always won the prize at our pistol-
shooting in Paris, and then, this stupid Dutchman is, without doubt,
horrified at the thought of shooting at a man, and not at a mark.
No, vraiment, I do not doubt but I shall be victorious, and I
rejoice in anticipation of that dejeuner dinatoire with which my
friends will celebrate it."
"But," said his second, "let us for a moment suppose that you are
not victorious; one must ever be prepared in this poor world, ruled
by accident, for the worst that can befall. In case you fall, have
you no last commissions to give me?"
Count Belleville stopped his horse as they were in the act of
entering the garden.
"You positively insist on burying me? Well, then. I will make my
last will. In case I fall go instantly to my quarters, open my
writing-desk, and press upon a small button you will see on the left
side; there you will find letters and papers; tie them carefully,
and send them in the usual way to Countess Bernis. As to my
heritage, you know I have no gold; I leave nothing but debts My
clothes you can give to my faithful servant, Francois; for the last
year I have paid him no wages Now my testament is made--no, stop, I
had forgotten the most important item. Should the inconceivable, the
unimaginable happen, should this Dutch village--devil slay me, I
make it the duty of the French officers here to revenge me on the
haughty daughter of my adversary, and on all these dull and prudish
beauties. They must carry out what I intended yesterday. I have
drawn a few sketches and added a few notes; make as many copies as
are required, and paste them on the designated places. If I fall,
this must be done the following night, that my wandering soul may
find repose in the sweet consciousness of revenge. If my enemy's
ball strikes me, hasten forward, and, before any one dares lay his
hand upon me, take from my breast-pocket a paper, which you will
find there, and conceal it; it is the drawing, and it is my legacy
to my comrades. Swear to me to do as I have said."
"And now, mon ami, let us forget this stupid thought of death, and
look life saucily and merrily in the face. Life will not have the
courage to break with a brave son of la belle France."
Belleville drew his bridle suddenly, and sprang through the gate
into the garden; turning to the right, they rode for some time under
the shadow of the trees, then through a side allee, which led to an
open place surrounded by lofty oaks. At this moment he heard the
roll of an open carriage, and turning, he saluted gayly the two
gentlemen who were seated in it; he checked his horse suddenly in
order to ride by their side, and provoking the beautiful and noble
beast by the rude use of his spurs, he forced it into many difficult
and artistic evolutions. Arrived at the place of rendezvous, he
sprang lightly from the saddle and fastened his horse to a tree,
then drew near Baron Marshal, who, with Ranuzi, was just descending
from the carriage.
"No man could be more prudent than yourself, sir," said he,
laughing, "to come to a rendezvous in a carriage; truly, that is a
wise and, I think on this occasion, well-grounded precaution."
"A forethought which I have exercised on your account," said the
baron, gravely. "You, sir, will require a carriage, and knowing you,
as a stranger, had no carriage in Berlin, I brought mine. It shall
be at your service."
"Vraiment! you are too good! I hope, however, not to make use of
Now, according to custom, Ranuzi drew near the baron to make a last
attempt at reconciliation. He answered sternly: "You know that I am
not to blame, and therefore will take no step in this matter. I
suppose, Count Belleville is as little disposed as myself to make
"I intend to prove to you, sir baron, that I am a nobleman and a
brave one; and as to the nuts which I cracked behind the queen, my
only regret is, that they, like every thing else in your detested
Berlin, were hollow--"
"No, sir, they were not at all hollow," said Baron Marshal, drawing
up the cock of his pistol; "in one of those nuts I saw a death-worm,
which will soon bore into your flesh."
He bowed to Belleville and took the place pointed out by his second.
The second of Belleville then drew near, and led him to the
outermost point of the line.
The Frenchman laughed aloud. "How," said he, "you will take me to
the end of the world to secure me from the ball of my enemy?"
"Sir," said the grave and solemn voice of the baron, "you will still
be too near me."
"Well, sir baron, I give you precedence," said Belleville, laughing,
"though, I believe, I have the right; but age must have the
"No, young man," said Marshal, sadly; "I will grant you one more
glance at the glad sun and the fresh, green earth; you shall fire
first, and I council you to lay aside your levity; let your hand be
firm and your aim steady; if you fail, you are lost. I am a good
shot, and I am without mercy."
There was something so convincing, so gloomy in his tone, that
Belleville was involuntarily affected by it. For the first time his
brow was clouded, and a slight pallor took possession of his cheek;
but he forced back this prophetic shudder quickly, and raised his
pistol with a firm hand.
Far away, in the still park, sounded the echo of his shot; but
opposite to him stood his adversary, firm and calm as before, with
his eye fixed steadily upon him.
Belleville threw his pistol to the ground, and drawing his gold
snuff-box from his vest-pocket with his small white hands, adorned
with cuffs of lace, he played carelessly upon the lid; then opened
it, and slowly and gracefully took a pinch of snuff, saying, coolly,
"I await your ball."
Marshal raised his pistol and aimed directly at the head of his
enemy, who looked him firmly in the eye. The appearance of this
youthful, fresh, and brave face softened, against his will, the
noble and magnanimous soul of this good man. He let his arm fall.
"Sir," said he, "you are so young, perhaps your life may improve. I
will not kill you. But you need for this life a great, impressive
lesson and a lasting warning. I will therefore shoot you through the
right leg, just above the knee." [Footnote: The words of Baron
Marshal.--See Thiebault.] He raised the pistol quickly, and fired.
As the smoke was lifted, Belleville was seen lying bleeding on the
ground. The shot had gone right through the knee and broken the
As his second bowed over him, Belleville whispered, with broken eyes
and trembling lips: "My legacy! do not forget my legacy! I believe I
shall die; this pain is horrible."
The Frenchman took the paper from his pocket and concealed it "I
will be avenged," said Belleville, with a convulsive smile, then
sank into unconsciousness.
Belleville was placed in the carriage of Baron Marshal and carried
to the city. Baron Marshal went immediately to the commandant of
Berlin, gave notice of what had taken place, and declared himself
The commandant took his hand kindly. "The laws forbid duelling, and
I must consider you under arrest until I receive further orders.
That is to say, house-arrest; you must give me your word not to
leave your house. I will send a courier immediately to the king. I
was in the castle last night, and witness to all the circumstances
which led to this duel, witnessed the conduct of these Frenchmen,
and in your place I would have acted just as you have done."
The French officers fulfilled the vow they had made to their wounded
comrade; they had promised to revenge him on Fraulein Marshal and
the other ladies of the court.
The morning after the duel, on the corners of all the principal
streets, placards were pasted, which were soon surrounded by crowds
of men, exhibiting astonishment and indignation. These placards
contained a register of all the young and beautiful women of the
court and city; to these names were added a frivolous and voluptuous
personal description of every lady, and to this the name of the
French officer which each was supposed to favor. [Footnote:
Thiebault, p. 90.]
An outcry of scorn and rage was heard throughout Berlin; every one
was excited at the boundless shamelessness of the French officers,
and on this occasion the mass of the people took the part of the
rich and the distinguished, whom generally they envied and despised.
They felt themselves aggrieved by the contempt and ridicule which
these Frenchmen had cast upon the daughters of Prussians, and no
police force was necessary to tear these placards from the walls;
they were torn off and trampled under foot, or torn into a thousand
pieces and scattered to the winds. If a Frenchman dared to show
himself on the street, he was received with curses and threats, and
the police were obliged to forbid them to appear in any public
place, as they feared they would not be able to protect them from
the fierce indignation of the people. The doors of all the prominent
houses, in which heretofore they had received so much attention,
were now closed against them. The commandant of Berlin had sent a
detailed account of the conduct of the French officers to the king,
and the answer had been received.
Eight days after the placards had been pasted up by the Frenchmen,
exactly upon the same places new placards were to be found, around
which the people were again assembled; on every face was seen a
happy smile, from every lip was heard expressions of harmony and
approbation. This was a greeting of the king not only to his
Berliners, but to Prussia and to the world; he was now "the Great
Frederick," and all Europe listened when he spake. Frederick's
greeting read thus:
"It is known to all Europe that I have provided every possible
comfort to all officers who are prisoners of war. Swedes, Frenchmen,
Russians, Austrians I have allowed to pass the time of their
captivity at my capital. Many among them have taken advantage of the
confidence reposed in them and carried on a forbidden
correspondence; they have also, by unmannerly and presumptuous
conduct, greatly abused the privileges allowed them; I therefore
feel myself constrained to send them to Spandau, which city must not
be confounded with the fortress of the same name at Spandau; they
will be no more restricted than in Berlin, but they will be more
"For this decision I cannot be blamed. The law of nations and the
example of my allied enemies justify me fully. The Austrians have
not allowed any of my officers who have fallen into their hands to
go to Vienna. The Russians have sent their captives to Kasan. My
enemies lose no opportunity to give a false aspect to my acts; I
have, therefore, thought it wise to make known the causes which lead
me to change my policy with regard to the prisoners of war."
Two of the officers, with whom we are acquainted, were not included
in this sentence of banishment.
One was Count Belleville. On the day that his comrades, deprived of
their swords, left Berlin, his corpse was carried through the outer
gate. The shot of Baron Marshal made an amputation necessary, and
death was the consequence. While his friends, whose condemnation he
had brought about, marched sadly to Spandau, his body was laid in
the "Friedhof." To the corpse had been granted a favor denied to the
living--his sword was allowed to deck his coffin.
The Austrian officer, Ranuzi, because of his wise and prudent
conduct and the powerful support he gave to Baron Marshal, was
permitted to remain in Berlin. Ranuzi received this permission with
triumphant joy. As he looked from his window at the prisoners
marching toward Spandau, he said with a proud smile--"It is written,
'Be wise as a serpent.' These fools have not regarded the words of
Holy Writ, and therefore they are punished, while I shall be
rewarded. Yes, my work will succeed! God gives me a visible
blessing. Patience, then, patience! A day will come when I will take
vengeance on this haughty enemy of the Church. On that day the
colors of the apostolic majesty of Austria shall be planted on the
fortress of Magdeburg!"
THE FIVE COURIERS.
It was the morning of the thirteenth of August. The streets of
Berlin were quiet and empty. Here and there might be seen a workman
with his axe upon his shoulder, or a tradesman stepping slowly to
his comptoir. The upper circle of Berlin still slumbered and
refreshed itself after the emotions and excitements of yesterday.
Yesterday had been a day of rejoicing; it had brought the news of
the great and glorious victory which the crown prince, Ferdinand of
Brunswick, had gained at Minden, over the French army under Broglie
The crown prince had ever remembered that great moment in the
beginning of the war, when his mother took leave of him in the
presence of the Brunswick regiments. Embracing him for the last
time, she said: "I forbid you to appear before me till you have
performed deeds of valor worthy of your birth and your allies!"
Her son, the worthy nephew of Frederick the Great had now bought the
right to appear before his mother.
By the victories of Gotsfeld and Minden he had now wiped out the
defeat at Bergen, and the laurels which Brissac had won there were
now withered and dead.
Berlin had just received this joyful news. After so much sorrow, so
much humiliation and disappointment, she might now indulge herself
in a day of festal joy, and, by public declarations and
testimonials, make known to the world how dear to her heart was this
victory of her king and his generals, and how deep and warm was the
sympathy she felt.
All work was set aside in honor of this great celebration--the
people were spread abroad in the meadows and woods, shouting and
rejoicing, playing and dancing; the rich and the distinguished
joined them without ceremony, to prove to the world that in such
great moments, all differences of rank were forgotten--that they
were all members of one body--united in joy and in sorrow by an
So they slumbered on; the streets were still empty, the windows
But see! There comes a horseman through the Frankfort gate, dusty
and breathless; his glowing face was radiant with joy! As he dashed
through the streets he waved a white handkerchief high in the air,
and with a loud and powerful voice, cried out, "Victory! victory!"
This one word had a magic influence. The windows flew up, the doors
were dashed open, and shouting and screaming crowds of men rushed
after the horseman. At a corner they surrounded his horse and
compelled him to stop. "Who is victorious?" cried they tumultuously.
"The king--the great Frederick! He has whipped the Russians at
A cry of rapture burst from every lip. "The king is victorious! he
has defeated the Russians!"
Onward flew the courier to the palace; after him streamed the mad
people. "The days of mourning are over--the blood of our sons has
not been shed in vain, they are the honored dead--their death
brought victory to the fatherland; they have drenched the soil with
the blood of our barbarous enemies. We whipped the French at Minden,
the Russians at Kunersdorf, and now we have defeated the Austrians
and won back the trophies of their victory at Hochkirch!"
The people surrounded the castle shouting and triumphing. The
courier had entered to give to the queen the joyful news. Soon the
royal messengers were flying into every corner of the city to summon
the ministers and officers of state to the castle. On foot, on
horseback, in carriages, they hastened on, and the people received
them with joyful shouts. "The king is victorious; the Russians are
And now a door opened on a balcony, and Minister Herzberg stepped
out. He waved his hat joyfully high in the air. The people returned
this greeting with a roar like an exulting lion. He waved his hand,
and the lion ceased to roar--there was death-like silence. He then
told them that the king had offered battle to the Russians,
yesterday, not far from Frankfort. The Russian army was greatly
superior in numbers; they received the Prussians with a fearful,
deadly fire! Unrestrainable, regardless of cannon-balls, or of
death, the Prussians rushed on, stormed all the strongholds, and
drove the Russian militia with fearful slaughter back to the
graveyard of Kunersdorf. At five o'clock the king sent off the
courier and the victory was assured.
"The victory was assured!" reechoed the mighty voice of the people.
With warm and kindly eyes they looked upon each other. Proud, glad,
happy, men who did not know each other, who had never met, now felt
that they were brothers, the sons of one fatherland, and they
clasped hands, and shouted their congratulations.
Suddenly, at the end of the street, another horseman appeared. He
drew nearer and nearer. It is a second courier, a second message of
our king to his family and his Berliners.
The people looked at him distrustfully, anxiously. What means this
second courier? What news does he bring?
His countenance gay, his brow clear, with a flashing smile he greets
the people. He brings news of victory--complete, assured victory.
Like the first courier, he dashed on to the castle, to give his
dispatches to the queen and the ministers. The people were drunk
with joy. The equipages of the nobles rolled by. Every one whose
rank gave him the privilege wished to offer his personal
congratulations to the queen.
And now in the Konigstrasse was seen a venerable procession. The
magistrates of Berlin--in front the burgomasters with their long
periwigs and golden chains, behind them the worthy city council--all
hastened to the castle to offer congratulations in the name of the
The crowd drew back respectfully before the worthy city fathers, and
opened a path for them, then fixed their eyes again upon the balcony
where Minister Her/.berg again appeared, and called for silence.
He will give us the news of the second courier. The victory is
absolute. The Russians completely defeated. They had retreated to
Kunersdorf. In this village they proposed to defend themselves. But
the Prussians were unceasingly pressing upon them. Seven redoubts,
Kirchhof, Spitzberg, and one hundred and eighty-six cannon had been
taken. The enemy had suffered a monstrous loss, and was in the
greatest confusion. The fate of the day seemed conclusive. This was
owing to the heroic courage of the army, whom neither the blazing
heat of the sun nor the unexampled slaughter could for a moment
restrain. At six o'clock, when the king sent off this second
courier, the enemy had retreated behind his last intrenchments, and
taken refuge at Gudenberg. [Footnote: Frederick the Great.--
A loud hurrah broke from the people as Herzberg finished and left
the balcony. Now there was no room for doubt. The enemy was
overwhelmed and had fled to his last intrenchment. Would the king
leave him unmolested, and would he not still drive the hated enemy
While groups of men were assembled here and there, discussing these
weighty questions, and others, intoxicated, drunk with joy at this
great victory over their hereditary enemy, were making eloquent
addresses to the people, a third courier appeared in sight.
Breathless with expectation and anxiety, they would not give him
time to reach the castle. They must--they would know the news he
brings. There should be no delay, no temporizing, no mysteries. The
people were one great family. They awaited the message of their
father. They demanded news of their distant sons and brothers.
The third courier brings renewed assurances. The Russians are
routed. The king will give them no rest. He will drive them from
their last stronghold. With his whole army, with cavalry and
militia, with all his cannon, he was in the act of storming
Gudenberg. This is the message of the third courier.
The people are proud and happy. No one thinks of going home. In
fact, they have no home but the streets. Every house would be too
small for this great family which feels a thirst to express its joy
and its rapture to each other. And then it was possible the king
might send another courier. Who could go home till they knew that
the Russians were driven from their last stronghold, that Gudenberg
was drenched in Russian blood?
No one doubted that this news would come--must come. Not the
slightest fear, the least doubt troubled the proud, pure joy of this
hour. The victory was achieved, but it was still charming to hear it
confirmed; to receive these heavenly messages. Every open space was
filled with men. Each one would see and hear for himself. No man
thought himself too distinguished, too sick, too weak, to stand for
hours in the burning sun, carried about involuntarily by this
fluctuating wave of humanity. Side by side with the laborer stood
the elegant lady in her silk robes; near the poor beggar in his
ragged jacket were seen the high official and the wealthy banker in
their rich dresses.
Move than fifty thousand men were now assembled and waiting--waiting
for what they knew not--for news--for a courier who could give the
details. It was not enough to know that the king had conquered; they
wished to know the extent and the significance of this victory; and
lastly, they would know the bloody offering which this victory had
cost. The dinner-hour was passed. What cared this happy people for
dinner? They hungered for no earthly food; they thirsted for no
earthly drink; they were satisfied with the joy of victory. The
clock struck three. Yes, there comes a horseman, his bridle is
hanging loose--he is covered with dust--but how, what means this?
His face is pale as death; his eyes are misty; he looks around
shame-faced and confused. No happy news is written upon this dark
and clouded brow. What means this messenger of death in the midst of
joy, triumph, and proud consciousness of victory? They seek to hold
him, to question him, but he gives no answer. He spurs his wearied
horse till he springs aloft, and the men in rash terror are crushed
against each other; but the horseman makes no sign. Silently he
dashes on through the laughing, chatting crowd, but wherever he
passes, laughter and smiles disappear, and speech is silenced.
It seemed as if the angel of death had touched his brow, and the
happy ones shuddered at his untimely presence. Now he has reached
the castle, he descends from his horse. In breathless silence,
pallid, trembling they know not why, those who have seen this dumb
messenger look up shudderingly to the balcony. At last, after long
waiting, the Minister Herzberg appeared once more.
But, O God! what means this? he is pale--his eyes are filled with
tears. He opens his mouth to speak, but strength has left him. He
holds on to the bars of the balcony, otherwise he would sink. At
last he collects himself. It is not necessary to ask for silence;
the silence of the grave is upon those torpid men. He speaks! his
voice is faint and weak, and trembles--oh, so fearfully! only a few
in the first rank can hear his words.
"The battle is lost! The Russians have conquered! The Austrians came
to their assistance! The presence of the Austrians was not known,
they had their tents in holes in the ground! As our militia rushed
upon the last intrenchment at Judenberg and were only a hundred
steps distant, Loudon suddenly advanced with his fresh troops,
against the worn-out and exhausted victors. He received the
Prussians with so murderous a fire, that their ranks faltered,
wavered, and, at last, broke loose in wild flight, pursued furiously
by the raging enemy. The fortunes of the day had turned; we lost the
battle. But all is not lost. The king lives! he is slightly wounded;
three horses were shot under him. He lives, and so long as he lives,
there is hope. In the far distance, in the midst of the terrible
disaster? which have befallen himself and his army, he thinks of his
Berliners. He sends you a father's greeting, and exhorts every one
of you to save his possessions, as far as possible. Those who do not
feel safe in Berlin, and who fear the approaching enemy, the king
counsels to withdraw, if possible, with their money, to Magdeburg,
where the royal family will take refuge this evening."
The minister was silent, and the people who had listened, dumb with
horror, now broke out in wild cries of anguish and despair. Terror
was written in every face; tears gushed from every eye. Cries of
unspeakable agony burst from those lips, which, a few moments
before, were eloquent with hope and gladness.
As if it were impossible to believe in these misfortunes without
further confirmation, some men called loudly for the messenger, and
the distant crowd, as if inspired with new hope, roared louder and
"The courier! the courier! we will ourselves speak with the
The demand was so threatening, so continuous, it must be complied
with. Herzberg stepped upon the balcony, and informed the crowd that
the courier would at once descend to the public square. A breathless
silence succeeded; every eye was fixed upon the castle-gate, through
which the courier must come. When he appeared, the crowd rushed
forward toward him in mad haste. Cries of woe and suffering were
heard. The people, with--mad with pain, beside themselves with
despair, had no longer any mercy, any pity for each other. They
rushed upon the messenger of misfortune, without regarding those
who, in the midst of this wild tumult, were cast down, and trodden
The messenger began his sad story. He repeated all that the minister
had said; he told of the deadly strife, of the bloody havoc, of the
raging advance of the Austrians, and of the roar for vengeance of
the reassured Russians. He told how the cannon-balls of the enemy
had stricken down whole ranks of Prussians; that more than twenty
thousand dead and wounded Prussians lay upon the battle-field; that
all the cannon and all the colors had fallen into the hands of the
The people received this news with tears, cries, and lamentations.
The courier spoke also of the king. He, himself, had belonged to the
body-guard of the king--had been ever near him. He had seen the king
standing in the midst of the thickest shower of balls, when his two
adjutants fell at his side. At last, a ball came and wounded the
king's horse--the Vogel--so fearfully, that the brave steed fell.
Frederick mounted another horse, but remained upon the same spot; a
second ball wounded this horse, and the king quietly mounted that of
Captain Gotzen. At this moment, a bullet struck the king in the
breast, but the golden etui which the king carried in his pocket,
had turned it aside, and thus saved his life. In vain had the
generals and adjutants entreated him to leave this place, and think
of his personal safety. His answer was--"We must seek, at this
point, to win the battle. I must do my duty here with the rest."
[Footnote: The king's own words.--See Thiebault, p. 214.]
Many voices cried out--"Where is the king now?"
The courier did not answer; but the question was so fiercely, so
stormily repeated, that he was compelled to go on.
"The king, in the midst of the confusion and horror of the flight,
had called him, and commanded him to gallop to Berlin, and bear the
fatal news to Minister Herzberg. He had then galloped by him,
exactly against the enemy, as if he wished their balls to strike
him; a little troop of his most faithful soldiers had followed!"
"The king is lost! the king is a prisoner--wounded--perhaps dead!"
cried the terrified people.
Suddenly, the mad tumult was interrupted by loud shouts of joy,
which swelled and thundered like an avalanche from the other side of
the square. A fifth courier had arrived, and brought the news of the
complete defeat of the Russians, and a glorious Prussian victory.
Now, one of those memorable, wondrous--grand scenes took place,
which no earthly phantasy could contrive or prepare, to which only
Providence could give form and color. As if driven by the storm-
winds of every powerful earthly passion, this great sea of people
fluctuated here and there. At one point, thousands were weeping over
the news which the unhappy messenger had brought. Near by, thousands
were huzzaing and shouting over the joyful intelligence brought by
the fifth courier, while those who had been near enough to the
fourth courier to understand his words, turned aside to give the sad
news to those who were afar off. Coming at the same time from the
other side, they were met by a mighty mass of men, who announced,
with glad cries, the news of victory, brought by the fifth courier.
Here you could see men, with their arms raised to heaven, thanking
God for the hardly-won victory. A little farther on, pale,
frightened creatures, motionless, bowed down, and grief-stricken.
Here were women, with glowing cheeks and sparkling eyes, shouting
over their hero king. There, the people wept and moaned; their king
had disappeared, was a prisoner, or dead. As at the Tower of Babel,
the people spoke in a thousand tongues, and no one listened to
another; every one was lost--blinded by his own passionate hopes and
At last the two couriers were called upon to come face to face and
decide these important questions. Strong men lifted them upon their
shoulders and brought them together; a profound and fearful silence
ensued, every man felt that he stood upon the eve of a mighty
revelation; fifty thousand men were waiting breathlessly for news of
happiness beyond compare, or of unspeakable woe. The conversation of
the two horsemen standing upon the shoulders of their townsmen was
quick and laconic.
"At what hour did the king send you off?" said the fourth courier to
"At six. The king himself commissioned me"
"Where stood our army at that time?" said the fourth courier.
"They stood before the hollow ground, and the Russians had withdrawn
to the intrenchments of Zudenberg; we had taken a hundred and twenty
cannon, and many of our soldiers were wandering about the battle-
field looking at the batteries they had taken." [Footnote: Bodman.]
"Yes," said the fourth courier, sadly, "that was at six, but at
seven we were in full flight. Loudon had risen from the ground, and
the frightened, conquered Russians had recovered themselves. You
left at six, I at eight; I have ridden more rapidly than you.
Unhappily, I am right, the battle is lost!"
"The battle is lost!" howled the people; "the king is also lost!
At this moment the royal equipages were seen making their way slowly
through the crowd, and the advance guard were praying the people to
open a way for the travelling carriages to reach the castle. These
words excited new alarm. "We are lost! Let us fly, let us fly! The
court, the queen, and the princesses flee--let us save ourselves!
The Russians will come to Berlin--they will annihilate us. We are
deserted and lost, lost!--no one knows where our king is!"
As if driven by madness, the crowds rushed against each other, like
the sea when it divides, and in billowy streams pours itself out
here and there; and the cry of anguish which now rang out from the
castle square, found its echo in every street and every house.
AFTER THE BATTLE.
The cannon were silenced, the discharges of musketry had ceased. On
the great plain of Kunersdorf, where, a few hours before, a bloody
battle had been raging, all was quiet. Could this be called repose?
How cruel was the tranquillity which rested now upon this fearful
It was the peace of death--the stillness which the awful messenger
of Heaven presses as a sign and seal of his love upon the pale lips
of the dead. Happy they whose immortal spirits were quickly wafted
away by the dread kiss--they no longer suffer. Woe to those who yet
live, though they belong to death, and who lie surrounded by
grinning corpses! The cold bodies of their comrades are the pillows
upon which they lay their bloody heads. The groans of the dying form
the awful melody which awakes them to consciousness; and the, starry
sky of this clear, transparent summer night is the only eye of love
which bows down to them and looks upon them in their agony.
Happy those whom the murderous sword and the crushing ball carried
off in an instant to the land of spirits! Woe, woe to those lying
upon the battle-field, living, breathing, conscious of their defeat
and of their great agony! Woe! woe! for they hear the sound of the
tramping and neighing of horses--they come nearer and nearer. The
moon throws the long, dark shadows of those advancing horse-men over
the battle-field. It is fearful to see their rash approach; spurring
over thousands of pale corpses, not regarding the dying, who breathe
out their last piteous sighs under the hoofs of these wild horses.
The Cossack has no pity; he does not shudder or draw back from this
monstrous open grave, which has received thousands of men as if they
were one great corpse. The Cossack has come to rob and to plunder;
he spares neither friend nor foe. He is the heir of the dead and of
the dying, and he has come for his inheritance. If he sees a ring
sparkling upon the hand of a grinning corpse, he springs from his
horse and tears it off. If his greedy, cruel eye rests upon a rich
uniform he seizes it, he tears it off from the bleeding, wounded
body, no matter whether it is dead or still breathing and rattling.
Look at that warrior who, groaning with anguish, his limbs torn to
pieces, bleeding from a thousand wounds, is lying in an open grave;
he is wounded to death; he still holds his sword in his left hand--
his right arm has been torn off by a cannon-ball, a shot that he
might not be trampled upon by the horses' hoofs; they are forced to
leave him in the hands of God and to the mercy of man.
But the Cossack knows no mercy. That is a word he has never heard in
his Russian home; he has no fear of God before his eyes--he fears
the Czar and his captain, and above all other things, he fears the
knout. He knows nothing of pity, for it has never been shown him--
how then should he exercise it?
When the Cossack saw the Prussian officer in his gold-embroidered
uniform, he sprang from his horse and threw the bridle over him, a
shrill whistle told the wild steed, the Cossack's better half, that
he must stand still. He sprang into the grave where the Prussian
warrior, the German poet, was laid to rest. Yes, a great German poet
lies there--a poet by the grace of God. All Germany knows him,
"their songster of the spring." All Germany had read and been
inspired by his lays. The Austrian and the Saxon considered the
Prussian Major Ewald von Kleist their enemy, but they loved and
admired the poet, Ewald von Kleist. The people are never enemies to
poesy, and even politics are silent before her melodious voice.
There he lies, the gallant warrior, the inspired, noble poet; his
broken eyes are turned to heaven; his blue, cold lips are opened and
wearily stammering a few disconnected words. Perhaps he thinks in
this last hour of the last words of his last poem. Perhaps his
stiffening lips murmured these words which his mangled hand had
written just before the battle:
"Death for one's fatherland is ever honorable.
How gladly will I die that noble death
When my destiny calls!"
Yes, death might have been beautiful, but fate is never propitious
to German poets. It would have been noble and sweet to die in the
wild tumult of battle, under the sound of trumpets, amid the shouts
of victory; sweet thus, with a smile upon the lip to yield up the
Ewald von Kleist, the German poet, received his death-wound upon the
field of battle, but he did not die there; he lives, he knows that
the battle is lost, that his blood has been shed in vain. The
Cossack has come down into his grave--with greedy eyes he gazes at
the rich booty. This bleeding, mangled body--this is to the Cossack
not a man, it is only a uniform which is his; with hands trembling
with greed he tears it from the quivering, bleeding form. What to
him is the death-rattle and the blood--even the bloody shirt dying
frame. [Footnote: "History of the Seven Years' War."--Thiebault,
363.] The Prussian warrior, the German poet, lay there naked, his
own blood alone covered his wounded body, wrapped it in a purple
mantle, worthy of the poet's crown with which his countrymen had
decked his brow.
But Ewald von Kleist is no longer a poet or a hero--he is a poor,
suffering, tortured child of earth; he lies on the damp ground, he
pleads for a few rags to cover his wounds, into which the muddy
water of the hole in which he lies is rushing.
And now fate seems favorable. A Russian officer is riding by--he
takes pity on the naked man with the gaping wounds; he throws him a
soldier's old mantle, a piece of bread, and a half gulden.
[Footnote: "Seven Years' War," 353.] The German poet receives the
alms of the Russian thankfully--he covers himself with the cloak, he
tries to eat the bread.
But destiny is never propitious to German poets. The Cossacks swarm
again upon the battle-field, and again they approach the groaning
warrior in the open grave; he has no longer a glittering uniform,
but the Cossack takes all; the poor old mantle excites his greed--he
tears it from the unresisting soldier; he opens his hands and takes
out the half gulden which Ewald von Kleist had received from the
Again he lies naked, again the muddy water forces into his wounds,
and adds cruel torture to the agonies of death. So lies he till the
next day, till the enemy takes pity upon him and carries him as a
prisoner to Frankfort. [Footnote: Ewald von Kleist died a few days
after this, on the 24th of August. The Russians gave him an
honorable burial; and as there was no sword upon his coffin, Captain
Bulow, chief of the Russian dragoons, took his own from his side and
placed it upon the bier, saying, "So worthy an officer shall not be
buried without every mark of honor."--Archenholtz, 262.]
Happy those who meet with sudden death. It is true all the living
did not share the cruel fate of Ewald von Kleist, but all those
thousands who were borne wounded and bleeding from the battle-field
were conscious of their sufferings and their defeat.
The little village of Octshef near the battle-field was a hospital.
During the battle all the inhabitants had fled. The wounded had
taken possession of the huts and the surgeons were hastening from
house to house giving relief where it was possible. No one entered
into those two little huts which lay at the other end of the
village, somewhat separated from the others. And yet those huts
contained two wounded men. They had been brought here during the
battle--the surgeon had examined their wounds and gone out silently,
never to return. Groaning from time to time, these two wounded men
lay upon the straw, their eyes fixed upon the door, longing for the
surgeon to bring them help, or at least alleviation.
And now the door was indeed opened, and an officer entered. Was it
the obscurity of twilight, or had blood and pain blinded the eyes of
the wounded men so that, they could not recognize the stranger? It
was true his noble and generally cheerful face was now grave and
stern, his cheeks were ashy pale, and his great, flashing eyes were
dim; but there was still something inexpressibly majestic and
commanding in his appearance--though defeated and cast down, he was
still a hero, a king--Frederick the Great!
Frederick had come to take up his quarters in this lonely hut, to be
alone in his great grief; but when he saw the two wounded men, his
expression changed to one of earnest sympathy. With hasty steps he
drew near to the two officers, bowed over and questioned them
kindly. They recognized his voice--that voice which had so often
inspired them to bold deeds in the wild whirl of battle, but whose
tones were now mild and sympathetic.
"The king!" cried both in joyful surprise, and forgetting their
wounds and helplessness, they strove to rise, but sank back with
hollow groans, with the blood streaming anew from their wounds.
"Poor children," said Frederick, "you are badly wounded."
"Yes," groaned Lieutenant von Grabow, "badly wounded, but that is of
small consequence, if, your majesty, we only knew that we had gained
the day. We had taken two redoubts, and were storming the third,
when this misfortune befell us. Tell us, your majesty, is it not
true? Is not the victory ours?"
A dark shadow passed over the face of the king, but soon
"You must now think only of yourselves. You have proved that you are
brave--the rest is accident or fate. Do not despond, all will be
well. Have your wounds been dressed? Have you been fed?"
"Ah, sire, no devil will dress our wounds," groaned Lieutenant von
"How," cried the king, "have they left you here without care and
"Yes, sire, there is no earthly hope for us."
The king was about to answer, when several people, bearing hand-
barrows, accompanied by a surgeon, entered.
"What do you wish?" said the king, angrily.
"Sire," answered the surgeon, "we will remove the wounded, as your
majesty will make your night-quarters here."
The king threw a scornful glance upon them.
"And you suppose that I will allow this? The wounded men remain
here. I will seek shelter elsewhere. But, above all things, examine
the wounds of these two officers at once, and dress them."
The surgeon advanced, and examined them carefully, then drew near
"Your majesty," said he, shrugging his shoulders, "it would be all
in vain. A cannon-ball has torn off the right arm of one of these
men, and he must die of gangrene. The other has a cartridge-load of
iron in his face and in his body. It is impossible to bind up these
The king did not answer him. He stepped hastily to the straw-bed,
and took both the wounded men by the hand. Then, turning to the
surgeon, he said--
"Look, now, these two men are young and powerful--they have no
fever. With such young blood and fresh hearts Nature often does
wonders. Dress them, and bind up their wounds, and, above all
things, see that they have nourishment--they have need of it."
"Ah, yes, your majesty; we have been hungry and thirsty a long
time," said Grabow.
The king smiled. "See, now, you think they are lost, and yet they
have healthy stomachs; so long as a man is hungry he will not die."
The surgeon opened his case of instruments and commenced to dress
the wounds. The king watched him for a long time, then stooped down
and said, tenderly, "Children, do not despair; I will learn how it
goes with you, and if you are no longer fit for service, I will take
care of you. Believe that I will not forget you." He bowed kindly
and left the room. His adjutants were awaiting him at the door of
the tent. [Footnote: The king's own words. The whole scene is
historical. These two officers, whom the king saved in this way from
death, recovered rapidly. After they were completely restored, they
again took part in the contest, and were again severely wounded at
Kolberg. They served until peace was declared, and then retired on
the invalid list, and, by the express order of the king, were most
kindly cared for.--See Nicolai.] The king signed to them to follow
him, and stepping rapidly through the village, he passed by the huts
from which loud cries of anguish and low murmurs were heard.
"Ah," cried Frederick, "Dante did not know all the horrors of hell,
or he forgot to paint those I now suffer." He hastened on--on--on,
in the obscure twilight of the summer night, pursued by the sighs
and groans of his dying and wounded soldiers; a deep, immeasurable
sadness lay upon his brow; his lips were trembling; cold
perspiration stood upon his forehead; his eyes wandered over the
battle-field, then were raised to heaven with a questioning and
reproachful expression. Already the village lay far behind him; but
he hurried on, he had no aim, no object; he wished only to escape
this hell, this cry of despair and woe from the condemned. An
adjutant dared at last to step forward and awake him from his sad
"Sire," said he, "the Cossacks are swarming in every direction, and
if your majesty goes on, the most fearful results may be
anticipated. The Cossacks shoot at every man who wears a good coat."
The king shook his head sadly. "There is no ball for me," said he in
a low tone; "I have in vain called upon death. I have prayed in
mercy for a ball; it came, but it only grazed my breast. No, no--
there is no ball for me!" He advanced, and the adjutant dared once
more to interrupt him.
"Sire," said he, "will not your majesty seek night-quarters?"
Frederick raised his head, and was in the act of answering hastily,
then said: "Yes, I need night-quarters." He looked around and saw an
empty peasant's house by the wayside, drew near and entered
A HEROIC SOUL.
"I will pass the night here," said he, "the place appears deserted;
we will disturb no one."
The king was right. The miserable old hut was empty. No one advanced
to meet him as he entered. In one corner of the room there was some
dirty straw; in the other a wooden table and stool--this was all.
"It suffices for me," said the king, smiling. "I will pass the night
here. Have you my writing materials with you?"
"I sent Adjutant von Goltz for them, sire, as I did not wish to
leave you alone."
Goltz now entered with the king's portfolio, and informed him that
he had brought two grenadiers to guard the house.
"Have I still grenadiers?" murmured the king, in a trembling voice.
His head fell upon his breast, and he stood thus lost in deep
thought for a while. "Gentlemen," said he, at length, "inspect the
house. See if there is a more comfortable room than this; if not, I
suppose we can manage to sleep here. Send one of the guard for some
soldiers, by whom I can forward my dispatches."
The adjutants bowed, and left the room. The king was alone. He could
at last give way to his despair--his grief.
"All, all is lost!" murmured the king, and a voice within him
answered: "When all is lost, there is no escape but death! It is
unworthy to continue a life without fame, without glory. The grave
alone is a resting-place for the broken-hearted, humiliated man!"
The king listened attentively to this voice. He had borne with
patience the sorrows and deprivations of the past years, but he
could not survive the ruin of his country. His country was lost.
There was no chance of saving it; his army was gone. The victorious
enemy had taken all the neighboring provinces. The Russians could
now march undisturbed to Berlin. They would find no resistance, for
the garrison there consisted of invalids and cripples.
Berlin was lost! Prussia was lost! The king was resolved to die, for
he was a king without a crown, a hero without laurels. He wished to
die, for he could not survive the destruction of his country. But
first he must arrange his affairs, make his will, and bid adieu to
his friends. The king opened the door hastily, and desired that a
light should be brought--it was no easy thing to procure in this
dismal, deserted village. The adjutant succeeded at last, however,
in getting a few small tallow candles, and placing them in old
bottles, in the absence of candlesticks of any description, he
carried them to the king. Frederick did not observe him; he stood at
the open window, gazing earnestly at the starry firmament. The
bright light aroused him; he turned, and approached the table.
"My last letters!" murmured he, sinking upon the wooden stool, and
opening his portfolio.
How his enemies would have rejoiced, could they have seen him in
that wretched hovel! He first wrote to General Fink, to whom he
wished to leave the command of his army. He must fulfil the duties
of state, before those of friendship. It was not a letter--rather an
order to General Fink, and read as follows:
"General Fink will find this a weary and tedious commission. The
army I leave is no longer in a condition to defend itself from the
Russians. Haddeck will hasten to Berlin. Loudon also, I presume. If
you intercept them, the Russians will be in your rear; if you remain
by the Oder, Haddeck will surround you. I nevertheless believe, were
Loudon to come to Berlin, you could attack and defeat him. This,
were it possible, would give you time to arrange matters, and I can
assure you, time is every thing, in such desperate circumstances as
ours. Koper, my secretary, will give you the dispatches from Torgau
and Dresden. You must acquaint my brother, whom I make general-in-
chief of the army, with all that passes. In the mean time, his
orders must be obeyed. The army must swear by my nephew. This is the
only advice I am able to give. Had I any resources, I would stand
fast by you. FREDERICK." [Footnote: The king's own words.]
"Yes, I would have stood by them," murmured the king, as he folded
and addressed his letter. "I would have borne still longer this life
of oppression and privation; but now, honor demands that I should
He took another sheet of paper. It was now no order or command, but
a tender, loving, farewell letter to his friend, General
"This morning, at eleven o'clock, I attacked the enemy; we drove
them back to Gudenberg. All my men performed deeds of daring and
bravery, but, at the storming of Gudenberg, a terrific number of
lives were lost. My army became separated. I reassembled them three
times, but in vain. At last, they fled in wild disorder. I very
nearly became a prisoner, and was obliged to leave the field to the
enemy. My uniform was torn by the cannon-balls, two horses were shot
underneath me, but death shunned me; I seemed to bear a charmed
life; I could not die! From an army of forty-eight thousand men,
there now remains three thousand. The consequences of this battle
will be more fearful than the battle itself. It is a terrible
misfortune, and I will not survive it. There is no one to whom I can
look for help. I cannot survive my country's ruin. Farewell!"
"And now," said the king, when he had sealed and directed his
letter, "now I am ready; my worldly affairs are settled. I am at the
end of my sufferings, and dare claim that last, deep rest granted by
Nature to us all. I have worked enough, suffered enough; and if,
after a life of stormy disasters, I seek my grave, no one can say it
was cowardly not to live--for all the weight of life rolled upon me,
forced me to the ground, and the grave opened beneath my feet. I
continued to hope, when overwhelmed with defeat at every point.
Every morning brought new clouds, new sorrows. I bore it
courageously, trusting that misfortune would soon weary, the storms
blow over, and a clear, cloudless sky envelop me. I deceived myself
greatly; my sorrows increased. And now, the worst has happened; my
country is lost! Who dares say I should survive this loss? To die at
the proper time is also a duty. The Romans felt this, and acted upon
it. I am a true scholar of the old masters, and wish to prove myself
worthy of them. When all is lost, the liberty to die should not be
denied. The world has nothing more to do with me, and I laugh at her
weak, unjust laws. Like Tiberius, will I live and die! Farewell,
then, thou false existence; farewell, weak man! Ah! there are so
many fools--so few men amongst you; I have found so many faithless
friends, so many traitors, so few honest men! In the hour of
misfortune they all deserted me! But, no!" said he; "one remained
true. D'Argens never deceived me, and I had almost forgotten to take
leave of him. Well, death must wait for me, while I write to
A heavenly inspiration now beamed on his countenance; his eyes shone
like stars. The holy muse had descended to comfort the despairing
hero, to whisper loving and precious words to him. Thus standing at
death's portals, Frederick wrote his most beautiful poem, called
"Ami le sort en est jete'." A great wail of woe burst from his soul.
The sorrows, the grievances hid until now from all, he portrayed in
touching, beautiful words to his absent friend. lie pictured to him
his sufferings, his hopes, his struggles, and finally, his
determination to die. When all this had been painted in the most
glowing colors, when his wounds were laid bare, he wrote a last and
touching farewell to his friend:
"Adieu, D'Argens! dans ce tableau,
De mon trepas tu vois la cause;
Au moins ne pense pas du neant du caveau,
Que j'aspire a l'apotheose.
Tout ce que l'amitie par ces vers propose,
C'est que tant qu'ici-bas le celeste flambeau;
Eclairera tes jours tandis que je repose,
Et lorsque le printemps paraissant de nouveau.
De son sein abondant t'offre les fleurs ecloses,
Chaque fois d'un bouquet de myrthes et de roses,
Tu daignes parer mon tombeau."
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