Frederick the Great and His Court
Part 2 out of 8
"Well, he, at least, is not near the prince. You know that he is the
ambassador of Saxony at the court of Petersburg."
"Therein lies the main difficulty! The prince royal places unlimited
confidence in him, they correspond in characters which we have
vainly endeavored to decipher; and the result of this correspondence
is, that Suhm has already procured the prince royal a loan of ten
thousand dollars from the Duke of Courland, and that he has now
secured him the annual sum of twenty-four thousand dollars from the
Empress Anne. These payments will continue until the prince ascends
the throne; the first has just been received." [Footnote: CEuvres de
Frederic le Grand, vol. xvi., pp. 340, 356, 360, 384.]
"That is a fable," exclaimed Madame Brandt, laughing. "The prince is
as poor as Job, and for some time past has been literally besieged
by his creditors!"
"And it can be no other than Russia who assists him in these
difficulties!" exclaimed Count Manteuffel, in despair. "We must
leave nothing undone to lessen the influence of this dangerous
enemy, and to win Prussia to Austrian interests. Germany wishes for
peace, and Prussia and Austria must be on good terms. If Prussia and
Austria were to take up arms against each other, the balance of
power in Europe would be destroyed, and a war would be inaugurated
which, perhaps, for years would deluge Germany with blood and tears!
Austria will do all that lies in her power to avoid this; and we, my
dear friend, will be Austria's allies, and will assist her to the
best of our ability. Russia has given Prussia money, it is true, but
an indebtedness of this kind ceases the moment the money is
returned. When the prince royal ascends the throne, he will pay to
Russia what he owes her, and with that all obligations will be at an
end. Then another tie must be found to bind Austria more firmly to
Prussia. And you must help to weave this tie. The prince royal must
never be separated from his wife! The future queen of Prussia will
then be the niece of the empress. The duties of a nephew will
consequently devolve on the king. To unite the two houses more
closely, another marriage must be brought about. The Prince Augustus
William, the presumptive heir of the prince royal, must, like the
latter, espouse a princess of the house of Brunswick--a sister of
the princess royal."
"That is impossible!" exclaimed Madame Brandt, with vivacity.
"Impossible? Why impossible?"
"Because the heart of the Prince Augustus William is already filled
with a deep and passionate love--a love which would even touch you,
that is, if you are susceptible to pity."
"My dear madame, we are speaking of affairs of State, and you
discourse of love! What have politics to do with love? The prince
may love whom he will, provided he marries the Princess of
"But his is a great and noble, a real love, count--a love over which
we have no power, in which the devil had no hand; a love as pure as
Heaven, and deserving of Heaven's blessing! You must give this plan
up, count; the Prince Augustus William will never marry the Princess
of Brunswick. He is far too noble to give his hand without his
heart, and that is devoted to the beautiful Laura von Pannewitz."
"A prince of the blood who loves a little maid of honor, and wishes
to marry her?" exclaimed von Manteuffel, laughing loudly. "How
romantic! how sublime! what excellent materials for a sentimental
romance! My dear baroness, I congratulate you! This discovery does
all honor to your poetical temperament."
"Mock me, if you will, count; but I repeat, nevertheless, Prince
Augustus William will not marry the Princess of Brunswick, for he
loves the beautiful maid of honor of the queen, and is determined to
make her his wife."
"We will know how to break this determination," said Count
Manteuffel. "The prince royal will assist us, depend upon it. He is
not an enthusiastic lover, like Augustus William, and will never
consent to his brother's making a misalliance."
"And I tell you, the prince would rather die than give up the
"Well, then she must give him up," said Count Manteuffel, with cruel
"Poor Laura," said Madame Brandt, with a sigh, "she loves him so
dearly! it will break her heart to lose him."
"Pshaw! the heart of every woman is broken one or more times, but it
always heals again, and when warmed by a new love, the old scars
disappear entirely. You, dear baroness, have experienced this in
yourself. Have you no recollection of the days of our ardent and
passionate love? Did we not expect to die when we were separated?
Did we not wring our hands, and pray for death as a relief? And are
we not still living, to smile pityingly at the pangs we then
endured, and to remember how often we have experienced delight, how
often love has since triumphed in our hearts?"
"It is true," sighed Madame Brandt, "we outlive our sorrows; the
heart of women resembles the worm--it still lives and quivers,
although cut in pieces."
"Well," said Count Manteuffel, laughing, "the heart of Laura von
Pannewitz is merely a worm, and we will not hesitate to cut it in
pieces, as it will still live merrily on. You, my dear friend, shall
be the knife which performs the operation. Are you willing?"
For a moment Madame Brandt looked down sadly, and seemed lost in
"True," she murmured, "we outlive it, but the best part of our being
is destroyed! I should never have become what I am, if I had not
been ruthlessly torn from my first dream of love. We will not kill
Laura von Pannewitz's body, but her soul will suffer!"
"And as it is not our province to look after souls, that need give
us no care; a political necessity demands that Prince Augustus
William shall marry the Princess of Brunswick. It demands, moreover,
that the prince royal shall not be divorced from his wife, but that
the niece of the empress shall be Queen of Prussia. In both of these
affairs we need your assistance. You must closely watch the Prince
Augustus William and his lady love, and, at the proper time, bring
the affair to light. By your eloquence you must convince Madame
Morien that it is her duty to exert her influence with the prince
royal to prevent his separation from his wife. This is your task,
and a noble task it is. Its objects are--to protect the peace of
married life; to recall two noble hearts to the duties which they
owe to the world; and lastly, to create a new bond of union between
two mighty German powers. The wife of the Emperor Charles VI., the
noble empress, will not be ungrateful to her ally, Madame Brandt. On
the day on which Prince William espouses the Princess Louisa Amelia
of Brunswick, Madame Brandt will receive a present of twenty
thousand dollars from the empress."
The countenance of Madame Brandt was radiant with pleasure and
"The prince shall and will marry the Princess Louisa Amelia--my word
for it. I am then to be the demon who, with his poisonous breath,
destroys this romantic, this beautiful love; the evil genius who
drives fair Laura to despair. But why should I pity her? She suffers
the fate of all women--my fate. Who pitied, who saved me? No one
listened to my cry of anguish, and no one shall heed the wailing cry
of the fair Laura von Pannewitz. Count, she is condemned! But, hark!
Do you not hear faint tones of distant music? The prince royal has
arisen, and is playing the flute at his open window. We must now
separate; the garden will soon be full of people, and we are no
longer safe from intrusion. A boat-ride on the lake is in
contemplation for the early morning hours, and then Chazot will read
Voltaire's last drama to the assembled court."
FREDERICK, THE PRINCE ROYAL.
Madame Brandt was not mistaken; the prince royal was awake, and was
bringing a tribute to beautiful, sunny Nature in return for the
sweetly-scented air that came through his window. There he stood,
with the flute at his lips, and looked out at God's lovely, laughing
world with a sparkling eye and joyful countenance. A cheerful quiet,
a holy peace radiated from his beautiful face; his whole being
seemed bathed in perfect harmony and contentment, and the soft,
melting tones of his flute but echoed his thoughts. Suddenly he
ceased playing, and slightly bowed his head to catch the sweet,
dying notes that were still trembling in the air.
"That was good," said he, smiling, "and I believe I can note it down
without exciting the anger of Quantz." He took his flute again, and
softly repeated the air he had just finished. "I will write it
immediately, and play it this evening before my critical musicians."
While speaking, Frederick left his bedroom, and passed into his
library. On entering this room, a beautiful smile flitted over his
face, and he bowed his head as if saluting some one. It would be
impossible to imagine a more charming and tasteful room. It had been
arranged according to the directions of the prince royal, and was in
a great degree a true portrait of himself, a temple which he had
erected to art, science, and friendship.
This room was in the new tower, and its circular form gave it a
peculiar appearance. It was most appropriately compared to a temple.
High glass cases around the walls contained the works of Voltaire,
Racine, Moliere, and Corneille; those of Homer, Caesar, Cicero, and
Ovid; also the Italian poets Dante, Petrarch, and Machiavel. All
that had a good name in the literary world found its way into the
library of the royal prince--all, excepting the works of German
Between the book-cases, the shelves of which were ornamented here
and there with busts of celebrated writers, were alcoves, in which
stood small satin damask sofas, over which hung, in heavily-gilt
frames, the portraits of Frederick's friends and contemporaries.
The largest and most beautiful was one of Voltaire. He had received
the honored place; and when Frederick raised his eyes from his work,
while sitting at his escritoire, they rested upon the smiling face
of the talented French writer, whom the prince royal had selected as
his favorite, and with whom he had for many years corresponded.
The prince went with hasty steps to his table, and, without noticing
the sealed letters that were lying there, he took a piece of lined
paper, and began to write, humming softly the melody he had just
composed. He occasionally threw down his pen, and took the flute
that was lying at his side, to try, before noting them, different
accords and passages.
"It is finished at last," said the prince, laying aside his pen. "My
adagio is finished, and I think Quanta will have no excuse for
grumbling to-day; he must be contented with his pupil. This adagio
is good; I feel it; I know it; and if the Bendas assume their usual
artist airs, I will tell them--; no, I will tell them nothing," said
the prince, smiling. "It is useless to show those gentlemen that I
care for their approval, or court their applause. Ours is a pitiful
race, and I see the time approaching when I shall despise and
mistrust the whole world; and still my heart is soft, and gives a
warm approval to all that is great and beautiful, and it would make
me very happy to love and trust my fellow-men; but they do not
desire it--they would not appreciate it. Am I not surrounded by
spies, who watch all my movements, listen to every word I utter, and
then pour their poison into the ear of the king? But enough of
this," said the prince, after a pause. "This May air makes me
dreamy. Away with these cobwebs! I have not time to sigh or dream."
He arose, and walked hastily up and down his room, then approached
the escritoire, and took the letters. As his eye fell on the first,
he smiled proudly.
"From Voltaire," he murmured softly, breaking the seal, and hastily
opening the enclosure, which contained two letters and several loose
scraps of printed matter. The prince uttered a cry of joyful
astonishment, and scarcely noticing the two letters, he gazed with a
half-tender, half-curious expression on the printed papers he held
in his hand.
"At last! at last!" exclaimed the prince, "my wish will be
accomplished. The first step toward fame is taken. I shall no longer
be unknown, or only known as the son of a king, the inheritor of a
throne. I shall have a name. I shall acquire renown, for I will be a
poet, an author, and shall claim a place in the republic of genius.
I shall not need a crown to preserve my name in history. The first
step is taken. My 'Anti-Machiavel' is in press. I will tread under
foot this monster of knavish and diabolic statecraft, and all Europe
shall see that a German prince is the first to break a lance against
this Machiavel, who is making the people the slaves of princes. By
his vile principles, he is moulding princes into such monsters that
all mankind must curse them."
And again looking at the paper, the prince read a few lines, his
voice trembling with displeasure:
"If it is a crime to destroy the innocence of a private individual
who exercises a limited influence, is it not far worse to undermine
the moral character of princes who should exhibit to their subjects
an example of goodness, greatness, kindness, and love? The plagues
sent by Heaven are but passing, and destroy only in certain
localities; and although most disastrous, their effects pass away in
time. But the vices of kings create incurable misery; yes, misery
enduring for generations. How deplorable is the condition of nations
who have every evil to fear from their ruler, their property exposed
to the covetousness of a prince, their freedom to his humor, and
their lives to his cruelty!"
Frederick ceased, and turned over a few pages of his "Anti-
Machiavel," and then continued to read:
"Machiavel speaks in his 'Principe' of miniature sovereigns, who,
having but small states, can send no armies to the field. The author
advises them to fortify their capitals, and in time of war to
confine themselves and their troops to them.
"The Italian princes, of whom Machiavel speaks, only play the part
of men before their servants. Most of the smaller princes, and
especially those of Germany, ruin themselves by spending sums far
exceeding their revenues, and thus by vanity are led to want. Even
the youngest scion of the least important salaried prince imagines
himself as great as Louis. He builds his Versailles, and sustains
his army. There is in reality a certain salaried prince of a noble
house, who has in his service all the varieties of guards that
usually form the households of great kings, but all on so minute a
scale that it is necessary to employ a microscope to distinguish
each separate corps, and whose army is perhaps strong enough to
represent a battle on the stage of Verona."
Prince Frederick laughed aloud. "Well, I think my most worthy
cousin, Ernest Augustus, of Saxe-Weimar, will understand this
allusion, and in gratitude for my giving his name to posterity in my
'Anti-Machiavel,' will unravel the mystery, and inform the world how
it is possible, with the annual income of four hundred dollars, to
keep a retinue of seven hundred men, a squadron of one hundred and
eighty, and a company of cavalry; if he is capable of accomplishing
this, without plunging into debt, he is certainly my superior, and I
could learn a great deal from him. I could learn of him how to rid
myself of this torment that I endure from day to day, from hour to
hour. What could be a greater degradation to an honorable man than
to be compelled to flatter the base pride of these vile usurers to
whom I am forced to resort for the money I need; this money pressed,
perhaps, from widows and orphans? To think that I, the inheritor of
a kingdom, am in this condition--that I must lower myself to sue and
plead before these men, while millions are lying in the cellars of
my father's palace at Berlin! But what! Have I the right to
complain? am I the only one who suffers from the closeness of the
king? are not the people of Berlin crying for bread, whilst the
royal larder is filled to overflowing? But patience! the day will
come when the keys will be in my hands--on that day I will give the
people what rightly belongs to them, bread. I will unlock the
treasury, and set free the imprisoned millions. But what noise is
this?" said the prince, approaching the door.
Loud and angry voices were heard from without. "I tell you I must
and will speak with the prince royal," cried a threatening voice; "I
have waited in vain for two months, in vain addressed to him the
most modest and respectful letters; I have not even been deemed
worthy to receive an answer. Now I have come to receive it in
person, and I swear I will not leave this spot without an
explanation with the prince royal."
"It is Ephraim," muttered Frederick, with a deep frown.
"Well, you can stand here until you become a pillar of salt, like
your great-grandmother of old," cried another voice.
"This is Knobelsdorf," said Frederick.
"The idea is good," said the first voice, "but it is not I who will
become a pillar of salt, but others will from fright and terror,
when I come with my avenging sword; for justice I will have, and if
I do not obtain it here, I shall go and demand it of the king."
"From the king! you do not know, then, that his majesty is dying?"
"Not so, not so! if that were so, I would not be here; I would have
waited quietly for that justice from the new king which I demanded
in vain from the prince royal. The king is recovering; I saw him in
his arm-chair in the garden; for this reason I insist on speaking to
"But if I tell you his royal highness is still asleep?"
"I would not believe you, for I heard him playing on his flute."
"That was Quantz."
"Quantz! he is not capable of playing such an adagio; no, no, it
could only have been the prince royal."
"Ah! this man wishes to bribe me with his flattery," said the
prince, smiling, "and make me believe I am an Orpheus. Orpheus tamed
lions and tigers with his music, but my flute is not even capable of
taming a creditor."
"But I say it was Quantz," cried the poor frightened Knobelsdorf;
"the prince still sleeps, or is in bed, for he is not well, and gave
orders to admit no one."
"Ah! I know all about that; noble gentlemen are always ill if they
have to breathe the same air with their creditors," said Ephraim,
with a mocking smile; "but I tell you I will stay here until I have
spoken to the prince, until he returns me four thousand dollars that
I lent to him, more than a year ago, without interest or security. I
must and will have my money, or I shall be ruined myself. The prince
cannot wish that; he will not punish me so severely for the kindness
and pity I showed to him in his greatest need."
"This is really too much," cried Knobelsdorf, "you are shameless; do
you dare to speak of pity for the prince royal? do you dare to boast
of having lent him money, while you only did it knowing he could and
would repay you with interest?"
"If Ephraim knows that, he is cleverer than I am," said Frederick,
smiling sadly; "although I am a prince, I do not know how to get the
miserable sum of four thousand dollars. But I must leave poor
Knobelsdorf no longer in this condition; I must quiet this uproar."
And he hastened toward the door, as the noise without became louder
THE PRINCE ROYAL AND THE JEW.
At this moment, while Knobelsdorf was threatening the Jew and
calling the servants to thrust him out, the prince royal opened the
door and showed his smiling face to the two combatants.
"Come in," said the prince, "I grant you the audience you so
Frederick stepped quietly back in his room, while Ephraim, confused
and humiliated by the calm dignity of the prince, advanced with
bowed head and downcast eyes.
"Dear Knobelsdorf," said Frederick, turning to his gasping
secretary, who stood amazed behind the Jew, "I pray you to assemble
all the ladies and gentlemen in the garden; we are going yachting; I
will be with you in five minutes."
"Five minutes," said Ephraim to himself, as Knobelsdorf withdrew,
"only one moment's audience for every thousand dollars! This is a
proud debtor; I would have done better not to place myself in his
power. But I will not be frightened, I will stand up boldly for my
"And now, what have you to say to me?" said the prince, fixing his
angry eyes upon Ephraim.
"What have I to say to your highness!" said Ephraim, astonished.
"More than a year ago I lent your highness four thousand dollars! I
have as yet received neither principal nor interest."
"Well, what more?"
"What more!" said Ephraim.
"Yes, what more? It is impossible that you have come from Berlin to
Rheinsberg to tell me what I have known for a year as well as
"I thought your highness had forgotten," said the Jew, fixing his
eyes upon the prince, but casting them suddenly to the floor, as he
met the flashing glance of Frederick.
"Forgotten," said he, shrugging his shoulders; "I have a good memory
for every act of kindness, and also for every offence against the
respect and reverence due to the son of the king."
His voice was so harsh and threatening, that Ephraim trembled in his
inmost heart, and stammered some words of apology.
"My prince," said he, "I am a Jew, that is to say a despised,
reviled, and persecuted man! no--not a man, but a creature--kicked
like a dog when poor and suffering, and even when the possessor of
gold and treasures, scarcely allowed human rights. It is better for
the dogs than for the Jews in Prussia! A dog dare have its young,
and rejoice over them, but the Jews dare not rejoice over their
children! The law of the land hangs like a sword over them, and it
may be that a Jewess may he driven out of Prussia because a child is
born to her, only a specified number of Jews being allowed in this
enlightened land! Perhaps the father is not rich enough to pay the
thousand dollars with which he must buy the right to be a father
every time a child is born to him! For this reason is gold, and
again gold, the only wall of protection which a Jew can build up
between himself and wretchedness! Gold is our honor, our rank, our
destiny, our family, our home. We are nothing without gold, and even
when we extend a golden hand, there is no hand advanced to meet it
that does not feel itself contaminated by the touch of a Jew! Judge,
then, your royal highness, how much we love, how highly we prize one
to whom we give a part of our happiness, a part of our honor. I have
done for you, my prince, what I have done for no other man. I have
given you four thousand dollars, without security and without
interest. I lent to Knobelsdorf, for the prince royal, upon his mere
word, my honest gold, and what have I received? My letters, in which
I humbly solicit payment, remain unanswered. I am mocked and
reviled--the door contemptuously shut in my face, which door,
however, was most graciously opened when I brought my gold. Such
conduct is neither right nor wise; and as the worm turns when it is
trodden upon, so is there also a limit to the endurance of the Jew.
He remembers at last that he is also one of God's creatures, and
that God himself has given him the passion of revenge as well as the
passion of love. The Jew, when too long mishandled, revenges himself
upon his torturers, and that will I also do, if I do not receive
justice at your hands. That will I also do, if you refuse me my gold
"You have made a lengthy and impertinent speech!" said Frederick.
"You have threatened me! But I will forgive you, because you are a
Jew; because the tongue is the only weapon a Jew has, and knows how
to use. I now advise you to put your sword in its sheath, and listen
calmly to me. It is true, you have lent me four thousand dollars
without security and without interest. You need not extol yourself
for this, for you well know it is not the wish or the intention of
the prince royal to oppress even the most pitiful of his subjects,
or to withhold the smallest of their rights. You knew this; then why
were you not satisfied to wait until I sent for you?"
"I can wait no longer, your highness," cried Ephraim, passionately.
"My honor and credit are at stake. Count Knobelsdorf gave me his
sacred promise that at the end of six months my money with interest
should be returned. I believed him, because he spoke in the name of
the prince royal. I now need this money for my business. I can no
longer do without it. I must have it to-day."
"You must? I say you shall not receive one penny of it to-day, nor
to-morrow, nor for weeks!"
"If your highness is in earnest, I must go elsewhere and seek
"That means you will go to the king."
"Yes, your highness, I will!"
"Are you ignorant of the law by which all are forbidden to lend
money to the princes of the royal house?"
"I am not ignorant of that law; but I know that the king will make
an exception--that he will pay the money I lent to his successor. It
is possible I may feel his crutch upon my back, but blows will not
degrade me. The Jew is accustomed to blows and kicks--to be daily
trodden under foot. Even if the king beats me, he will give me back
my honor, for he will give me back my gold."
"Suppose that he also refuses you?"
"Then I will raise my voice until it is heard over the whole earth,"
cried Ephraim, passionately.
"Well, then, raise your voice and cry out. I can give you no gold
"No gold!" said Ephraim. "Am I again to be paid with cunning smiles
and scornful words? You will withhold my gold from me? Because you
are great and powerful, you think you can oppress and mistreat a
poor Jew with impunity, but there is a God for the just and unjust,
He stopped. Before him stood Frederick, blazing with anger. His lips
were pallid and trembling, his arm uplifted.
"Strike, your highness!--strike!" cried Ephraim, fiercely. "I
deserve to be beaten, for I was a fool, and allowed myself to be
dazzled with the glory of lending my gold to an unhappy but noble
prince! Strike on, your highness! I see now that this prince is but
a man like the rest; he scorns and loathes the poor Jew, but he will
borrow his money, and defraud him of his rights."
Frederick's arm had fallen, and a soft smile played about his lips.
"No," said he, "you shall see that Frederick is not a man like other
men. This day you shall have your money. I cannot pay you in money,
but I will give you jewels, and horses from the stud that the king
lately gave me."
"Then your highness has really no money?" said Ephraim,
thoughtfully. "It was not then to frighten and torment the poor Jew
that my gold was denied me. Can it be possible that the great Prince
Frederick, on whom the hopes of the people rest, and who is already
dearly loved by his future subjects, can be without money? Is it
possible that he suffers like other men? My God! how dare we poor
Jews complain when the heir to a throne is harassed for money, and
must endure privations?"
The prince was not listening to Ephraim; he had opened a closet, and
taken from it a silver-bound casket, and was gazing intently at its
contents. He drew forth a large diamond cross and some solitaires
and approached the Jew.
"Here are some jewels, I think, well worth your four thousand
dollars; sell them and pay yourself," said the prince, handing him
the sparkling stones.
Ephraim pushed the prince's hand gently back. "I lent gold, and gold
only will I accept in payment."
The prince stamped impatiently upon the ground. "I told you I had no
"Then I cannot receive any," said Ephraim, passively. "The poor Jew
will wait still longer; he will give to the prince royal the gold
which he needs, and of which the poor Jew still has a little. I
humbly ask your highness if you would not like to borrow another
thousand, which I will gladly lend upon one condition,"
"Well, and this condition?"
"Your highness is to pay me upon the spot the interest upon the four
thousand in ready money? Does your highness understand? Just now you
wished to pay my capital with diamonds and horses. Will you give me
as interest a few costly pearls--pearls which lie hidden in that
flute, and which appear at your magical touch? I will count this as
Frederick came nearer to Ephraim, and eyeing him sternly, he said:
"Are you mocking me? Would you make of the prince royal a travelling
musician, who must play before the Jew, in order to soften his
heart?--would you--? Ah, Fredersdorf," said he, interrupting
himself, as his valet approached him in a dusty travelling-suit,"
have you just arrived from Berlin?"
"Yes, your highness; and as I was told who was importuning your
highness, I came in without changing my dress. The banker gave me
this package for you. I believe it is from Petersburg."
"From Suhm," said the prince, with a happy smile, and hastily
breaking the seal, he drew from the package a letter and several
books. Casting a loving glance at the letter, he laid it on his
writing-table; then turning away, so as not to be seen by Ephraim,
he took up the two books, and looked carefully at their heavily-
gilded covers. Frederick smiled, and, taking a penknife, he hastily
cut off the backs of the books, and took out a number of folded
papers. As the prince saw them, a look of triumph passed over his
"Ten thousand dollars!" said he to himself. "The empress and the
Duke Biron have fulfilled their promise!"
Frederick took some of the papers in his hand, and walked toward
"Here are your four thousand dollars, and one hundred interest. Are
"No, your royal highness, I am not satisfied! I am not satisfied
with myself. When I came to Rheinsberg I thought I had been wronged.
It now seems to me that I have wronged your highness!"
"Let that pass," said Frederick. "A prince must always be the
scapegoat for the sin-offering of the people. They make us
answerable for all their sufferings, but have no sympathy for us in
our griefs. I owe you nothing more--you can go."
Ephraim bowed silently, and turned slowly toward the door. The eyes
of the prince followed him with a kindly expression. He stepped to
the table, and took up his flute. Ephraim had reached the door of
the ante-chamber, but when he heard the soft melting tones of the
flute, he stopped, and remained listening breathlessly at the outer
door. The piercing glance of the prince rested on him; but he
continued to play, and drew from his flute such touching and
melancholy tones that the poor Jew seemed completely overcome. He
folded his hands, as though engaged in fervent prayer; and even
Fredersdorf, although a daily hearer of the prince, listened in
breathless silence to those sweet sounds.
When the adagio was ended, the prince laid down his flute, and
signed to Fredersdorf to close the door; he wished to give Ephraim
an opportunity of slipping away unobserved.
"Did your highness know that the Jew was listening?" said
"Yes, I knew it; but I owed the poor devil something; he offered to
lend me still another thousand dollars! I will remember this. And
now, Fredersdorf, tell me quickly how goes it in Berlin? How is the
"Better, your highness. He set out for Potsdam a few days since, and
the pure fresh air has done him good. He shows himself, daily upon
the balcony, in full uniform. The physicians, it is true, look very
thoughtful; but the rest of the world believe the king is rapidly
"God grant that the physicians may be again mistaken!" said the
prince. "May the king reign many long and happy years! If he allow
me to live as I wish, I would willingly give an arm if I could
thereby lengthen his life. Well, now for mirth and song! We will be
gay, and thus celebrate the king's improvement. Make, therefore, all
liberal arrangements. Give the cook his orders, and tell the ladies
and gentlemen assembled in the garden that I will be with them
The prince was now alone; he opened the letter he had received with
the gold; his eye rested lovingly upon the handwriting of his
distant friend, and his heart glowed as he read the words of
friendship, admiration, and love from Suhm.
"Truly," he said, raising his eyes devoutly to heaven, "a faithful
friend is worth more than a king's crown. In spite of all my
brilliant prospects in the future, what would have become of me if
Suhm had not stood by me for the second time and borrowed this money
for me in Russia--this paltry sum, which I have in vain sought to
obtain in my own land? My heart tells me to write a few lines at
once to Suhm, expressing my unshaken friendship, my enduring love."
Frederick seated himself, and wrote one of those soul-inspiring
letters for which he was so celebrated, and which ended thus: "In a
short time my fate will be decided! You can well imagine that I am
not at ease in my present condition. I have little leisure, but my
heart is young and fresh, and I can assure you that I was never more
a philosopher than now. I look with absolute indifference upon the
future. My heart is not agitated by hope or fear, it is full of pity
for those who suffer, of consideration for all honest men, and of
tenderness and sympathy for my friends. You, whom I dare proudly
count among the latter, may be more and more convinced that you will
ever find in me what Orestes was to his Pylades, and that it is not
possible for any one to esteem and love you more than your devoted
"Now," said the prince, as he arose, "away with the burdens, the
gravities and cares of life! Come, now, spirit of love! spirit of
bliss! We will celebrate a feast this day in thy honor, thou goddess
of youth and hope! Come, lovely Venus, and bring with thee thy son
Cupid! We will worship you both. To you belongs this day, this
night. You, goddess of love, have sent me the little Morien, that
fluttering, light gazelle, that imperious, laughing fairy--that
'Tourbillon' of caprice and passion. Here is the poem I composed for
her. Madame Brandt shall hand it to her, and shall lead the
'Tourbillon' into the temple of love. Away with earnest faces, dull
eyes, and the wisdom of fools! Come over me, spirit of love, and
grant me one hour of blessed forgetfulness."
The prince rang for his valet, and commanded him to lay out his
latest French suit; he entered his boudoir, and with a comic
earnestness, and the eager haste of a rash, impatient lover, he gave
himself to the duties and arts of a royal toilet.
THE PRINCESS ROYAL ELIZABETH CHRISTINE.
The princess royal had not yet left her rooms; she still waited for
the prince, whose custom it was to give her his arm every morning
and lead her to the saloon. On these occasions only did the Princess
Elizabeth ever see her husband alone, then only did he address one
word to her, touch her hand, or allow her to lean upon his arm. A
sweet and sad happiness for this young wife, who lived only in the
light of her husband's countenance; who had no other wish, no other
prayer, no other hope than to please him. She felt that the eye of
Frederick never rested upon her with any other expression than that
of cold friendship or absolute indifference. The reason for this she
could never fathom. Elizabeth would have given her heart's blood to
be beloved by him for one single day, yes, for one short, blessed
hour; to be clasped to his heart, not for form or etiquette, but as
a loving and beloved wife, to receive in her ear the sweet whispers
of his tenderness and his fondness. She would have given years of
her life to have bought this man, whom she so passionately loved; he
was her earthly god, the ideal of her maiden dreams. This man was
her husband; he belonged to her; he was bound to her by the holiest
ties, and yet there was an impassable gulf between them, which her
unbounded love, her prayers, her sighs, could not bridge over. The
prince loved her not; never had the slightest pulse of his heart
belonged to her! He endured her, only endured her by his side, as
the poor prisoner, sighing for fresh air, permits the presence of
the jailer, when he can only thus buy a brief enjoyment of God's gay
and sunny world. The prince royal was a prisoner, her prisoner. Not
love, but FORCE had placed that golden ring upon his hand, that
first link in the long, invisible heavy chain, which from that weary
hour had bound his feet, yes, his soul; from which even his thoughts
were never free. Elizabeth knew that she was an ever-present, bitter
memento of his sad, crushed, tortured, and humbled youth--a constant
reminder of the noble friend of his early years, whose blood had
been shed for him, and to whose last wild death-cry his tortured
heart had been compelled to listen. Her presence must ever recall
the scorn, the hatred, the opposition of his stern father; the
hardships, the abuse, the humiliations, yes, even the blows, all of
which had at last bowed the noble mind of the prince and led him to
take upon himself the slavery of this hated marriage, in order to be
free from the scorn and cruelty of his father. To escape from his
dreary prison in Ruppin, he rushed into the bonds of wedlock. How
could he ever forgive, how could he ever love this woman forced upon
him, like drops of wormwood, and swallowed only with the hope of
thereby escaping the torturous pains and last struggles with death?
Elizabeth had been ignorant of all these bitter truths. The prince
had been ever considerate and kind, though cold, when they met: she
had had one single confidential interview with him, and in that hour
he had disclosed to her what had forced them together, and at the
same time forever separated them. Never could he love the wife
associated in his mind, though innocently, with such cruelties and
horrors; he was fully convinced that she, also, could not love a
husband thus forced upon her; could entertain no feeling for him but
that of respectful consideration and cold indifference.
Frederick did not know with what deadly wounds these words had
pierced the princess; she had the strength to veil her passion and
her shame with smiles, and in her modest maidenly pride she buried
both in her heart. Since that interview years had gone by, and every
year the love of the princess royal for her husband became more
ardent; his eyes were the sun which warmed and strengthened this
flower of love, and her tears were the dew which nourished and gave
Elizabeth hoped still to ravish the heart of her husband; she yet
believed that her resigned, modest, but proud and great love, might
conquer his coldness; and yet, in spite of this hope, in spite of
this future trust, Elizabeth trembled and feared more than formerly.
She knew that the hour of decision was drawing nigh; she felt with
the instinct of true love that a new storm was rising on the ever-
clouded horizon of her marriage, and that the lightning might soon
Frederick had been forced by the power of the king, his father, to
marry her; how would it be when this power should cease, when her
husband should be king? by no one held back; by no one controlled;
free himself, and free to give laws to the world; to acknowledge no
man as his judge; to be restrained by nothing but his conscience.
Might not even his conscience counsel him to dissolve this unnatural
marriage, which had within itself no spark of God's truth, no ray of
God's blessing? might not her husband cast her off and take this
English princess for his wife? had she not been the choice of his
heart? had not King George, although too late, declared his
willingness for the betrothal? had they not loved each other with
the enthusiasm of youth, although they had never met? did not Sophia
Amelia's portrait hang in the library of the crown prince? did not
the English princess wear his picture constantly near her heart? had
she not sworn never to be the wife of another man?
As Elizabeth thought of these things she trembled, and it seemed to
her that her whole life would go out in one great cry of anguish and
"No," she said, "I cannot live without him! I will never consent! he
can kill me, but he cannot force me to break the solemn oath I have
sworn on God's holy altar. He shall not cast me out into the wild
wilderness, as Abram did Hagar, and choose another wife!"
He could not force her to leave him, but he could beseech her, and
Elizabeth knew full well there was nothing in the world she could
refuse to her husband, which he would condescend so far as to
entreat; for one loving, grateful word from his lips, she would give
him her heart's blood, drop by drop; for one tender embrace, one
passionate kiss, she would lay down her life joyfully. But she would
not believe in this separation; she would yet escape this unblessed
fate--would find a way to his love, his sympathy, at least to his
It was a struggle for life, for happiness, for her future, yes, even
for honor; for a divorced wife, even a princess, bears ever a stain
upon her fair name, and walks lonely, unpitied, ever despised
through the world.
For these reasons the poor princess of late redoubled her efforts to
please her husband; she entered more frequently into the gayeties of
the court circle, and sometimes even took part in the frivolous and
rather free jests of her husband's evening parties; sometimes she
was rewarded by a smile and a glance of applause from Frederick.
This was for Elizabeth the noblest jewel in her martyr crown of
love, more costly, more precious than all her pearls and diamonds.
To-day one of these joyous and unrestrained circles was to meet. The
prince loved these fetes; he was more charming, witty, talented, and
unrestrained, than any of his guests. Princess Elizabeth resolved to
be no quiet silent member of this circle to-day; she would force her
husband to look upon her and admire her; she would be more beautiful
than all the other ladies of the court; more lovely than the gay and
talented coquette, Madame Brandt; more entrancing than the genial
'Tourbillon,' Madame Morien; yes, even the youthful Schwerin, with
her glancing eye and glowing cheek, should not excel her.
She was also young and charming, might be admired, loved--yes,
adored, not only as a princess, not only as the wife of the handsome
and genial prince royal, but for her own lovely self. She had
dismissed her maid, her toilet was completed, and she waited for the
prince royal to lead her into the saloon. The princess stepped to
the glass and examined herself, not admiringly, but curiously,
searchingly. This figure in the mirror should be to her as that of a
stranger to be remarked upon, and criticised coldly, even harshly;
she must know if this woman might ever hope to enchain the handsome
prince royal. "Yes," whispered she to herself, "this form is slender
and not without grace; this white satin robe falls in full
voluptuous folds from the slender waist over the well-made form; it
contrasts well with these shoulders, of which my maids have often
said 'they were white as alabaster;' with this throat, of which
Madame Morien says 'it is white and graceful as the swan's.' This
foot, which peeps out from the silken hem of my robe, is small and
slender; this hand is fair and small and well formed. I was
constrained yesterday to promise the painter Pesne to allow him to
paint it for his goddess Aurora; and this face! is it ugly to look
upon? No, this face is not ugly; here is a high, clear forehead; the
eyebrows well formed and well placed, the eyes are large and bright,
the nose is small but nobly formed, the mouth good, the lips soft
and red: yes, this face is handsome. O my God! why can I not please
my husband?--why will he never look upon me with admiration?"
Her head sank upon her breast, and she was lost in sad and
melancholy dreams; a few cold tears dropping slowly upon her cheeks
aroused her; with a rash movement, she raised her head, and shook
the tears from her eyes; then looked again in the glass. "Why does
not the prince love me?" whispered she again to herself with
trembling lips. "I see it, I know it! It is written in unmistakable
lines in this poor face. I know why he loves me not. These great
blue eyes have no fire, no soul; this mouth has no magical, alluring
smile. Yes, alas! yes, that is a lovely form; but the soul fails!--a
fine nature, but the power of intellect is wanting. My Father, my
heavenly Father, I sleep; my soul lies dead and stiffened in the
coffin with my secret sorrows; the prince could awaken it with his
kisses, could breathe a new life into it by a glance."
The princess raised her arms imploringly on high, and her trembling
lips whispered, "Pygmalion, why come you not to awaken thy Galatea?
Why will you not change this marble statue into a woman of flesh and
blood, with heart and soul? These lips are ready to smile, to utter
a cry of rapture and delight, and behind the veil of my eyes lies a
soul, which one touch of thine will arouse! O Frederick! Frederick!
why do you torture me? Do you not know that your wife worships,
loves, adores you; that you are her salvation, her god? Oh, I know
these are unholy, sinful words! what then? I am a sinner! I am ready
to give my soul in exchange for thee, Frederick. Why do you not hear
me?--why have not my sighs, my tears the power to bring you to my
The poor, young wife sank powerless into her chair, and covering her
face with her hands, wept bitterly. Gay voices and loud laughter,
sounding from beneath her window, aroused her from this trance of
"That is Madame Brandt and the Duke of Brunswick," said Elizabeth,
hastening to the window, and peeping from behind the curtains into
the garden. Yes, there stood the duke in lively conversation with
Jordan Kaiserling Chazot, and the newly-arrived Bielfeld; but the
ladies were nowhere to be seen, and the princess concluded they were
already in the ante-room, and that the prince would soon join her.
"He must not see that I have wept; no one must see that." She
breathed upon her handkerchief, and pressed its damp folds upon her
eyes. "No, I will smile and be gay like Madame Brandt and Morien. I
will laugh and jest, and no one shall guess that my heart is
bleeding and dying with inexplicable grief. Yes, gay will I be, and
smiling; so only can I please my husband." She gave a sad, heart-
breaking laugh, which was echoed loudly and joyously in the ante-
The ladies of the court, and those who were guests at the palace of
Rheinsberg, were assembled, and waiting in the ante-room, as the
princess royal had supposed. A few of them had withdrawn to one of
the windows with Madame von Katch, the first lady of honor, and were
conversing in low voices, while Madame von Brandt and Madame von
Morien held an earnest but low-toned conversation in another part of
Madame von Morien listened anxiously to her friend, arid the varying
emotions of her soul were clearly mirrored on her speaking
countenance. At one moment a happy smile overspread her lovely
features, but the next a cloud lay on that pure, fair brow, and
darkened those black and glorious eyes.
"As I told you," whispered Madame von Brandt, "the empress desires
you to understand that, if you will assist in carrying out her
wishes, you may depend upon her gratitude. You must employ all your
eloquence and influence to induce the prince royal to dismiss from
his mind the idea of divorcing his wife at the death of the king."
"I do not blame the empress," said Madame von Morien, with a roguish
smile. "It remains to be seen, however, whether the wishes of the
prince royal and those of the empress coincide. You are well aware
that Prince Frederick is not the man to be led by the will of
"Not by the will of the empress, dearest, but by yours."
"Well how does this good empress expect to bribe me, for I hope she
does not think me so silly and childish as to consider her words
commands, merely because they fall from the lips of an empress. No,
the little Morien is at this moment a more important person to the
empress than the empress is to me, and it is, therefore, very
natural that I should make my conditions."
"Only name them, my dear friend, and I assure you in advance that
they will be fulfilled, unless you should demand the moon and the
stars; these the empress cannot obtain for you."
"Ah, you have divined my condition," said Madame von Morien,
smiling. "I demand a star--one that is brighter and more beautiful
than those in the sky--one that the empress can give."
"I do not understand you," said her astonished friend.
"You will soon understand--only listen. Have you not heard that the
Austrian empress intends to establish a new order--an order of
virtue and modesty?"
Madame von Brandt burst into a clear, silvery laugh. "And do you
wish to belong to this order?"
"Yes; and if the empress will not present me with the star of this
order, I shall enter into no further arrangements."
Madame von Brandt, still laughing, replied: "This is a most edifying
idea. Le Tourbillon desires to become a member of the 'Order of
Virtue.' The beautiful Morien, whose greatest pride was to despise
the prudish, and to snap her fingers at morality, now wishes to be
in the train of modesty."
"Dear friend," said Madame von Morien, with a bewitching smile,
which displayed two rows of the most exquisitely white teeth, "dear
friend, you should always leave open a way of retreat; even as Aesop
in descending the mountain was not happy in the easy and delightful
path, but already sighed over the difficulties of the next ascent,
so should women never be contented with the joys of the present
moment, but prepare themselves for the sorrows which most probably
await them in the future. A day must come when we will be cut off by
advancing years from the flowery paths of love and pleasure, and be
compelled to follow in the tiresome footsteps of virtue. It is wise,
therefore, to be prepared for that which must come as certainly as
old age, and, if possible, to smooth away the difficulties from this
rough path. To-day I am Le Tourbillon, and will remain so a few
years; but when the roses and lilies of my cheek are faded, I will
place the cross of the 'Order of Virtue' on my withered bosom, and
become the defender of the God-fearing and the virtuous."
The two ladies laughed, and their laughter was as gay and silvery,
as clear and innocent as the tones of the lark, or the songs of
children. Le Tourbillon, however, quickly assumed an earnest and
pathetic expression, and said, in a snuffling, preaching voice: "Do
I not deserve to be decorated with the star of the 'Order of
Virtue?' Am I not destined to reunite with my weak but beautiful
hands two hearts which God himself has joined together? I tell you,
therefore, procure this decoration for me, or I refuse the role that
you offer me."
"I promise that your caprice shall be gratified, and that you will
obtain the star," said Madame von Brandt, earnestly.
"Excuse me, my dear, that is not sufficient. I demand the assurance,
in the handwriting of the Empress of Austria, the exalted aunt of
our princess royal, that this order shall be established, and that I
shall become a member. It would do no harm for the empress to add a
few words of tenderness and esteem."
"I shall inform the empress of your conditions immediately, and she
will without doubt fulfil them, for the danger is pressing, and you
are a most powerful ally."
"Good! thus far we are agreed, and nothing fails now but the most
important part," said Madame von Morien, with a mischievous smile;
"that is to discover whether I can accomplish your wishes--whether
the prince royal considers me any thing more than 'Le Tourbillon,'
'the pretty Morien,' or the Turkish music to which he listens when
he is gay. Nothing is wanting but that the prince royal should
really love me. It is true that he makes love to me; he secretly
presses my hand; he occasionally whispers a few loving, tender words
in my ear; and yesterday, when I met him accidentally in the dark
corridor, he embraced me so passionately, and covered my lips with
such glowing, stormy kisses, that I was almost stifled. But that is
all--that is the entire history of my love."
"No, that is not all. This history has a sequel," said Madame von
Brandt, triumphantly, as she drew a sealed letter from her bosom,
and gave it to her companion. "Take this, it is a new chapter in
"This letter has no address," returned Madame von Morien, smiling.
"It is intended for you."
"No, it is mine," suddenly cried a voice behind them, and a small
hand darted forward, and tore the sealed paper from Madame von
"Mine, this letter is mine!" cried Louise von Schwerin, the little
maid of honor, who, without being remarked, had approached the two
ladies, and seized the letter at this decisive moment. "The letter
belongs to me; it is mine," repeated the presumptuous young girl, as
she danced laughingly before the two pale and terrified ladies. "Who
dares affirm that this letter, which has no address, is not intended
"Louise, give me the letter," implored Madame von Morien, in a
trembling voice. But Louise found a pleasure in terrifying her
beautiful friend, who invariably laughed at her, and called her a
child when she spoke of her heart, and hinted at a secret and
unhappy passion. Louise wished to revenge herself by claiming the
privileges of a child.
"Take the letter if you can," cried the young girl, as she flew
through the room as lightly as a gazelle, waving her prize back and
forth like a banner, "take the letter!"
Madame von Morien hurried after her, and now began a merry race
through the saloon, accompanied by the laughter of the ladies, who
looked on with the liveliest interest. And in reality it was a
charming picture to see these beautiful figures, which flew through
the hall like two Atalantas, radiant with eagerness, with glowing
cheeks and smiling lips, with fluttering locks and throbbing
The young girl was still in advance; she danced on, singing and
laughing, far before the beautiful Morien, who began already to be
"The letter is mine!" sang out this impudent little maiden, "and no
one shall take it from me."
But fear lent wings to Madame von Morien, who now made a last
despairing effort, and flew like an arrow after Louise. Now she was
just behind her; Louise felt already her hot, panting breath upon
her cheek; saw the upraised arm, ready to seize the letter--when
suddenly the door opened, before which Louise stood, and the
princess royal appeared. The youthful maid of honor sank laughing at
her feet, and said breathlessly, "Gracious princess, protect me!"
Madame von Morien remained motionless at the appearance of the
princess royal, breathless not only from her rapid race, but also
from fear, while Madame von Brandt, concealing, with a smile, her
own alarm, approached her friend, that she might not remain without
assistance at this critical moment. The rest of the company stood
silent at a respectful distance, and looked with curious and
inquiring glances at this singular scene.
"Well, and from what shall I protect you, little Louise?" said the
princess royal, as she bent smilingly over the breathless child.
Louise was silent for one instant. She felt that the princess would
reprove her for her naughtiness; she did not wish to be again
treated as a child before the whole court. She hastily resolved to
insist upon the truth of her assertion that the letter was hers.
"Madame von Morien wished to take my letter from me," said Louise,
giving the latter a perverse look.
"I hope your royal highness knows this impudent child well enough
not to put any faith in her words," said Madame von Morien,
evasively, not daring to claim the letter as her property.
"Child! She calls me a child!" murmured Louise, enraged, and now
determined to revenge herself by compromising Madame von Morien.
"Then the letter does not belong to Louise?" asked the princess
royal, turning to Madame von Morien.
"Yes, your royal highness, it is mine," declared Louise; "your royal
highness can convince yourself of it. Here is the letter; will you
have the kindness to read the address?"
"But this letter has no address," said the astonished princess.
"And still Madame von Morion asserts that it is intended for her,"
cried Louise, wickedly.
"And Mademoiselle von Schwerin declares it belongs to her," said
Madame von Morien, casting a furious look on Louise.
"I implore your royal highness to be the judge," said Louise.
"How can I decide to whom the letter belongs, as it bears no name?"
said the princess, smiling.
"By opening and reading it," said the young girl, with apparent
frankness. "The letter is from my mother, and I do not care to
conceal its contents from your royal highness."
"Are you willing, Madame von Morien? shall I open this letter?"
But before the amazed and terrified young woman found time for a
reply, Madame von Brandt approached the princess with a smiling
countenance. She had in this moment of danger conceived a desperate
resolution. The prince royal had informed her that this paper
contained a poem. Why might not this poem have been intended for the
princess as well as for Madame von Morien? It contained, without a
doubt, a declaration of love, and such declarations are suitable for
any woman, and welcome to all.
"If your royal highness will permit me, I am ready to throw light on
this mystery," said Madame von Brandt.
The princess bowed permission.
"This letter belongs neither to Madame von Morien nor to
Mademoiselle von Schwerin," said Madame von Brandt.
"You promised to enlighten us," exclaimed the princess, laughing,
"and it appears to me you have made the mystery more impenetrable.
The letter belongs neither to Madame von Morien nor to little
Louise. To whom, then, does it belong?"
"It belongs to your royal highness."
"To me?" asked the astonished princess, while Madame von Morien
gazed at her friend with speechless horror, and Mademoiselle von
Schwerin laughed aloud.
"Yes, this letter belongs to your royal highness. The prince royal
gave it to me, with the command to place it upon your table, before
you went to your dressing-room; but I was too late, and understood
that your highness was occupied with your toilet. I dared not
disturb you, and retained the letter in order to hand it to you now.
As I held it in my hand, and said jestingly to Madame von Morien
that the prince royal had forgotten to write the address,
Mademoiselle von Schwerin came and tore it from me in a most
unladylike manner, and declared it was hers. That is the whole
"And you say that the letter is mine?" said the princess,
"It is yours, and it contains a poem from his royal highness."
"Then I can break the seal?" said the princess, tearing open the
paper. "Ah!" she cried, with a happy smile, "it is a poem from my
"And here comes his royal highness to confirm the truth of my
statement," cried Madame von Brandt, stepping aside.
Madame von Brandt was right. The prince royal, surrounded by the
cavaliers of his court, entered the saloon just as the princess had
commenced reading the poem.
On his entrance a murmur of applause arose, and the countenance of
his wife was radiant with pleasure and delight on beholding this
handsome and engaging young prince, whom she, emboldened by the
love-verses which she held in her hand, joyfully greeted as her
husband. On this day the prince did not appear as usual in the
uniform of his regiment, but was attired in a French costume of the
latest fashion. He wore a snuff-colored coat of heavy moire-antique,
ornamented at the shoulders with long bows of lace, the ends of
which were bordered with silver fringe. His trousers, of the same
color and material, reached to his knees, and were here ornamented
with rich lace, which hung far down over his silk stockings. On the
buckles of his high, red-heeled shoes, glittered immense diamonds.
These gems were, however, eclipsed by the jewelled buttons which
confined his long, silver-brocaded waistcoat. [Footnote: Bielfeld,
vol. ii., page 82.]
The costume of the cavaliers who accompanied the prince was of the
same style, but less rich.
As this group of handsome and richly-attired gentlemen entered the
saloon, the bright eyes of the ladies sparkled, and their cheeks
colored with pleasure.
The princess royal's countenance was illumined with delight; never
had she seen the prince so handsome, never had he looked so loving.
And this was all for her, the chosen one, whom he now blessed with
his love. Yes, he loved her! She had only read the commencement of
the poem which he had written, but in this she had seen words of
tender and passionate love.
While she was gazing at her husband in silent ecstasy, Madame von
Brandt approached the prince, and gracefully recounting the scene
which had just occurred, requested him to confirm her statement.
The prince's quick glance flitted for a moment from the beautiful
Morien, who trembled with consternation and terror to his wife, and,
judging by the pleased expression of her face, he concluded that she
believed this poem had been really addressed to herself. She had,
therefore, not read it to the end; she had not yet arrived at the
verse which contained a direct appeal to the beautiful Tourbillon,
the charming Leontine. She must not be permitted to read the entire
poem. That was all!
The prince approached his wife with a smile, to which she was
unaccustomed, and which made her heart beat high with delight.
"I crave your indulgence," said he, "for my poor little poem, which
reached you in so noisy a manner, and is really scarcely worth
reading. Read it in some solitary hour when you are troubled with
ennui; it may then possibly amuse you for a moment. We will not
occupy ourselves with verses and poems to-day, but will laugh and be
merry; that is, if it pleases you, madame."
The princess murmured a few low and indistinct words. As usual, she
could find no expression for her thoughts, although her heart was
full of love and delight. This modest shyness of the lips, this
poverty of words, with her rich depth of feeling, was the great
misfortune of the princess royal. It was this that made her appear
awkward, constrained, and spiritless; it was this that displeased
and estranged her husband. Her consciousness of this deficiency made
her still more timid and constrained, and deprived her of what
little power of expression she possessed.
Had she at this moment found courage to make a ready and witty
reply, her husband would have been much pleased. Her silence,
however, excited his displeasure, and his brow darkened.
He offered her his arm; and, exchanging glances with Madame Morien,
he conducted his wife to the dining-saloon, to the magnificently
arranged and glittering table.
"The gardener of Rheinsberg, Frederick of Hohenzollern, invites his
friends to partake of what he has provided. For the prince royal is
fortunately not at home; we can, therefore, be altogether sans gene,
and follow our inclinations, as the mice do when the cat is not at
He seated himself between his wife and Madame Morien, whispering to
the latter: "Beautiful Tourbillon, my heart is in flames, and I rely
upon you to quench them. You must save me!"
"Oh, this heart of yours is a phoenix, and arises from its ashes
renewed and rejuvenated."
"But only to destroy itself again," said the prince. Then taking his
glass and surveying his guests with a rapid glance, he exclaimed:
"Our first toast shall be youth--youth of which the old are
envious!--youth and beauty, which are so brilliantly represented
here to-day, that one might well imagine Venus had sent us all her
daughters and playmates, as well as her lovers, the deposed and
discarded ones as well as those whom she still favors, and only
proposes to discard."
The glasses rang out merrily in answer to this toast, and all betook
themselves with evident zest to the costly and savory dishes,
prepared by the master-hand of Duvall the French cook, and which the
prince seasoned with the Attic salt of his ever-ready wit.
They all gave themselves up to gayety and merriment, and pleasure
sparkled in every eye.
The corpulent Knobelsdorf related in a stentorian voice some amusing
anecdotes of his travels. Chazot recited portions of Voltaire's
latest work. The learned and witty Count Kaiserling recited verses
from the "Henriade," and then several of Gellert's fables, which
were becoming very popular. He conversed with his neighbor, the
artist Pesne, on the subject of the paintings which his masterly
hand had executed, and then turning to Mademoiselle von Schwerin, he
painted in glowing colors the future of Berlin--the future when they
would have a French theatre, an Italian opera, and of all things, an
Italian ballet-corps. For the latter the most celebrated dancers
would be engaged, and it should eclipse every thing of the kind that
had ever been seen or heard of in Germany.
At the lower end of the table sat the two Vendas, the two Grauns,
and Quantz, the powerful and much-feared virtuoso of the flute and
instructor of the prince royal, whose rudeness was almost imposing,
and before whom the prince himself was somewhat shy. But to-day even
Quantz was quiet and tractable. His countenance wore the half-
pleased, half-grumbling expression of a bull-dog when stroked by a
soft and tender hand. He is inclined to be angry, but is so much at
his ease that he finds it absolutely impossible to growl.
In their merriment the gentlemen were becoming almost boisterous.
The cheeks of the ladies glowed with pleasure, and their lovers were
The princess royal alone was silent; her heart was heavy and
sorrowful. She had carefully reconsidered the scene which had
occurred, and the result was, she was now convinced that the poem
which she had received was not intended for her, but for some other
fair lady. She was ashamed of her credulity, and blushed for her own
vanity. For how could it be possible that the handsome and brilliant
man who sat at her side, who was so witty and spirited, who was as
learned as he was intelligent, as noble as he was amiable, how could
it be possible that he should love her?--she who was only young and
pretty, who was moreover guilty of the great, unpardonable fault of
being his wife, and a wife who had been forced upon him.
No, this poem had never been intended for her. But for whom, then?
Who was the happy one to whom the prince had given his love? Her
heart bled as she thought that another could call this bliss her
own. She was too mild and gentle to be angry. She ardently desired
to know the name of her rival, but not that she might revenge
herself. No, she wished to pray for her whom the prince royal loved,
to whom he perhaps owed a few days of happiness, of bliss.
But who was she? The princess royal's glance rested searchingly on
all the ladies who were present. She saw many beautiful and pleasing
faces. Many of them had intelligence, vivacity, and wit, but none of
them were worthy of his love. Her husband had just turned to his
fair neighbor, and, with a fascinating smile, whispered a few words
in her ear. Madame Morien blushed, cast down her eyes, but, raising
them again and looking ardently at the prince royal, she murmured a
few words in so low a tone that no one else heard them.
How? Could it be this one? But no, that was impossible. This giddy,
coquettish, and superficial woman could by no possibility have
captivated the noble and high-toned prince; she could not be
Elizabeth's happy rival.
But who, then? Alas, if this long and weary feast were only at an
end! If she could but retire to her chamber and read this poem, the
riddle would then be solved, and she would know the name of his
It seemed, however, that the prince had divined his wife's wish, and
had determined that it should not be gratified.
They had taken their seats at table at a very late hour to-day, at
six o'clock. It had now become dark, and candelabras with wax
candles were brought in and placed on the table.
"The lights are burning," exclaimed the prince; "we will not leave
the table until these lights are burned out, and our heads have
become illuminated with champagne." [Footnote: Bielfeld, vol i.,
page 84. The prince's own words.]
And amid conversation, laughter, and recitations, all went merrily
on. But the heart of the princess royal grew sadder and sadder.
Suddenly the prince turned to her. "I feel the vanity of an author,"
said he, "and beg permission to inquire if you have no curiosity to
hear the poem which I had the honor of sending you to-day by Madame
"Indeed I have, my husband," exclaimed the princess, with vivacity.
"I long to become acquainted with its contents."
"Then permit me to satisfy this longing," said the prince, holding
out his hand for the poem. The princess hesitated, but when she
looked up and their eyes met, his glance was so cold and imperious,
that she felt as if an icy hand were at her heart. She drew the poem
from her bosom and handed it silently to her husband.
"Now, my little maid of honor, von Schwerin," said the prince royal,
smiling, "this sagacious, highly respectable, and worthy company
shall judge between you and me, and decide whether this paper is a
letter from her dear mother, as this modest and retiring child
asserts, or a poem, written by a certain prince, who is sometimes
induced by his imaginative fancy to make indifferent verses. Listen,
therefore, ladies and gentlemen, and judge between us. But that no
one may imagine that I am reading any thing else, and substituting
the tender thoughts of a lover for the fond words of motherly
affection, Madame Morien shall look at the paper I am reading, and
bear witness to my truth."
He read off the first verses as they were written, and then
improvising, recited a witty and humorous poem, in which he did
homage to his wife's charms. His poem was greeted with rapturous
applause. While he was reciting the improvised verses, Madame Morien
had time to read the poem. When she came to the verses which
contained a passionate declaration of love, and in which the prince
half-humbly, half-imperiously, solicited a rendezvous, her breast
heaved and her heart beat high with delight. After the prince had
finished he turned to his wife with a smile, and asked if the poem
had pleased her.
"So much so," said she, "that I pray you to return it. I should like
to preserve it as a reminiscence of this hour."
"Preserve it? By no means! A poem is like a flower. It is a thing of
the present, and is beautiful only when fresh. The moment gave it,
and the moment shall take it. We will sacrifice to the gods, what we
owe to the gods."
Having thus spoken, the prince tore the paper into small pieces,
which he placed in the palm of his hand.
"Go ye in all directions and teach unto all people that nothing is
immortal, not even the poem of a prince," said he, and blowing the
particles of paper, he sent them fluttering through the air like
snowflakes. The ladies and gentlemen amused themselves with blowing
the pieces from place to place. Each one made a little bellows of
his mouth, and endeavored to give some strip of paper a particular
direction or aim--to blow it on to some fair one's white shoulders
or into some gentleman's eye or laughing mouth.
This caused a great deal of merriment. The princess was still sad
and silent. Now and then a scrap fell before her; these she blew no
further, but mechanically collected and gazed at them in a listless
and mournful manner. Suddenly she started and colored violently. On
one of these strips of paper she had read two words which made her
heart tremble with anger and pain. These Words were, "Bewitching
The secret was out. The prince royal's poem had been addressed to
Leontine, to a bewitching Leontine, and not to Elizabeth! But who
was this Leontine? which of the ladies bore that name? She must, she
would know! She called all her courage to her assistance. Suddenly
she took part in the general merriment, commenced to laugh and jest;
she entered gayly into a conversation with her husband, with Madame
Morien and the young Baron Bielfeld, who was her vis-a-vis.
The princess had never been so gay, so unconstrained, and so witty.
No one suspected that these jests, this laughter, was only assumed;
that she veiled the pain which she suffered with a smiling brow.
The candles had burnt half way down, and some of the gentlemen had
begun to light the first tapers of the champagne illumination which
the prince had prophesied. Chazot no longer recited, but was singing
some of the charming little songs which he had learned of the merry
peasants of Normandy, his fatherland. Jordan improvised a sermon
after the fashion of the fanatical and hypocritical priests who for
some time past had collected crowds in the streets of Berlin.
Kaiserling had risen from his seat and thrown himself into an
attitude in which he had seen the celebrated Lagiere in the ballet
of the Syrene at Paris. Knobelsdorf recounted his interesting
adventures in Italy; and even Quanta found courage to give the
prince's favorite dog, which was snuffling at his feet, and which he
hated as a rival, a hearty kick. The prince royal alone had
preserved his noble and dignified appearance. Amid the general
excitement he remained calm and dignified. The candles were burning
low, and the champagne illumination was becoming intense in the
heads of all the gentlemen except the prince and the Baron Bielfeld.
"Bielfeld must also take part in this illumination," said the
prince, turning to his wife, and calling the former, he proposed to
drink with him the health of his fiancee, whom he had left in
After Bielfeld had left his seat and was advancing toward the prince
royal, the princess hurriedly and noiselessly gave her instructions
to a servant. She had observed that Bielfeld had been drinking
freely of the cold water which had been placed before him in a
decanter. The servant emptied this decanter and filled it with
sillery, which was as clear and limpid as water. Bielfeld returning
to his seat, heated by the toast he had been drinking, filled his
glass to the brim, and drank instead of water the fiery sillery.
[Footnote: Bielfeld, vol. i., page 85.]
The princess royal, whose aim was to discover which of the ladies
was the bewitching Leontine, determined to strike a decisive blow.
With an ingratiating smile she turned to Bielfeld and said:
"The prince royal spoke of your fiancee; I may, therefore,
Bielfeld, who did not dare to acknowledge that he was on the point
of shamefully deserting this lady, bowed in silence.
"May I know the name of your fiancee?" asked she.
"Mademoiselle von Randau," murmured Bielfeld, drinking another glass
of sillery to hide his confusion.
"Mademoiselle von Randau!" repeated the princess, "how cold, how
ceremonious that sounds! To imagine how a lady looks and what she is
like, it is necessary to know her Christian name, for a given name
is to some extent an index to character. What is your fiancee's
"Regina, royal highness."
"Regina! That is a beautiful name. A prophecy of happiness. Then she
will always be queen of your heart. Ah, I understand the meaning of
names, and at home in my father's house I was called the Sibyl,
because my prophecies were always true. If you will give me your
first names, I will prophecy your future, ladies. Let us commence.
What is your given name, Madame von Katsch?"
While the princess was speaking, she played carelessly with the
beautiful Venetian glass which stood before her. The prince royal
alone saw what no one else observed; he saw that the hand which
toyed with the glass trembled violently; that while she smiled her
lips quivered, and that her breathing was hurried and feverish. He
comprehended what these prophecies meant; he was convinced that the
princess had become acquainted with the contents of his poem.
"Do not give her your name," he whispered to Madame Morien. He then
turned to his wife, who had just prophesied a long life and a happy
old age to Madame von Katsch.
"And your name, Mademoiselle von Schwerin?" said the prince royal.
"Ah, Louise! Well, I prophecy that you will be happier than your
namesake, the beautiful La Valliere. Your conscience will never
reproach you on account of your love affairs, and you will never
enter a convent."
"But then I will probably never have the happiness of being loved by
a king," said the little maid of honor, with a sigh.
This naive observation was greeted with a merry peal of laughter.
The princess continued her prophecies; she painted for each one a
pleasant and flattering future. She now turned to Madame Morien,
still smiling, still playing with the glass.
"Well, and your name, my dear Madame Morien?" said she, looking into
the glass which she held clasped in her fingers.
"She is called 'Le Tourbillon,'" exclaimed the prince royal,
"Antoinette, Louise, Albertine, are my names," said Madame Morien,
The princess royal breathed free, and raised her eyes from the glass
to the beautiful Morien.
"These are too many names to prophesy by," said she. "By what name
are you called?"
Madame Morien hesitated; the other ladies, better acquainted with
the little mysteries of Tourbillon than the princess, divined that
this question of the princess and the embarrassment of Madame Morien
betokened something extraordinary, and awaited attentively the reply
of this beautiful woman. A momentary pause ensued. Suddenly
Mademoiselle Schwerin broke out in laughter.
"Well," said she, "have you forgotten your name, Madame Morien? Do
you not know that you are called Leontine?"
"Leontine?" exclaimed the princess, and her fingers closed so
tightly on the glass which she held in her hand, that it crushed,
and drew from her a sharp cry of pain.
The prince royal saw the astonished and inquiring glances of all
directed to his wife, and felt that he must turn their attention in
some other direction--that he must make a jest of this accident.
"Elizabeth, you are right!" said he, laughing. "The candles have
burnt down; the illumination has begun; the festival is at an end.
We have already sacrificed a poem to the gods, we must now do the
same with the glasses, out of which we have quaffed a few hours of
happiness, of merriment, and of forgetfulness. I sacrifice this
glass to the gods; all of you follow my example."
He raised his glass and threw it over his shoulder to the floor,
where it broke with a crash. The others followed the example of the
prince and his wife with shouts of laughter, and in a few minutes
nothing was left of these beautiful glasses but the glittering
fragments which covered the floor. But the company, now intoxicated
with wine and delight, was not contented with this one offering to
the gods, but thirsted for a continuation of their sport; and not
satisfied with having broken the glasses, subjected the vases and
the bowls of crystal to the same treatment. In the midst of this
general confusion the door was suddenly opened, and Fredersdorf
appeared at the threshold, holding a letter in his hand.
His uncalled-for appearance in this saloon was something so
extraordinary, so unprecedented, that it could be only justified on
the ground of some great emergency, something of paramount
importance. They all felt this, notwithstanding their excitement and
hilarity. A profound silence ensued. Every eye was fixed anxiously
upon the prince, who had received the letter from Fredersdorf's
hands and broken the seal. The prince turned pale, and the paper
trembled in his hands He hastily arose from his seat.
"My friends," said he, solemnly, "the feast is at an end. I must
leave for Potsdam immediately. The king is dangerously ill.
And offering his arm to his wife, he hastily left the saloon. The
guests, who but now were so merry, silently arose and betook
themselves to their chambers, and nothing could be heard save now
and then a stolen whisper or a low and anxious inquiry. Soon a deep
and ominous silence reigned in the castle of Rheinsberg. All slept,
or at least seemed to sleep.
LE ROI EST MORT. VIVE LE ROI!
King Frederick William's end was approaching. Past was his power and
greatness, past all his dreams of glory. Long did the spirit fight
against the body; but now, after months of secret pain and torture,
he had to acknowledge himself overpowered by death. The stiff
uniform is no longer adapted to his fallen figure. Etiquette and
ceremony had been banished by the all-powerful ruler--by death. He
is no longer a king, but a dying man--nothing more. A father taking
leave of his children, a husband embracing his wife for the last
time; pressing his last kisses upon her tearful face, and pleading
for forgiveness for his harshness and cruelty. Frederick William has
made his peace with God and the world; his proud spirit is broken;
his hard heart softened. Long he had striven in the haughtiness of
his heart before acknowledging his sins, but the brave and pious
Roloff approached his couch, and with accusations and reproaches
awakened his slumbering conscience. At first he had but one answer
to the priest's accusations, and that was proudly given: "I have
ever been true to my wife." Roloff continued to speak of his
extortions, oppressions, and inhumanity. Frederick William was at
last convinced that he must lay down his crown and approach God with
deep repentance, humbly imploring pardon and mercy.
Now that he had made his peace with God, there remained nothing for
him to do but to arrange his earthly affairs, and take leave of his
wife, and children, and friends. They were all called to his room
that he might bid them farewell. By the side of the arm-chair, in
which the king was reclining, wrapped in his wide silk mantle, stood
his wife and the prince royal. His hands rested in theirs, and when
he raised his weary eyes, he always met their tear-stained faces,
their looks of unutterable love. Death, that would so soon separate
them forever, had at last united in love father and son. Weeping
loudly, Frederick William, folded the prince royal in his arms, and
with a voice full of tears, exclaimed: "Has not God in his great
mercy given me a noble son?" Prince Frederick bowed his head upon
his father's breast, and prayed deeply and earnestly that his life
might be spared.
But the end was approaching; the king knew and felt it. He had the
long coffin, the same in which he had laid himself for trial a few
months before, brought into his room, and looking at it sadly, said,
with a peaceful smile: "In this bed I shall sleep well!" He then
called his secretary, Eichel, and ordered him to read the programme
of his funeral, which he had himself dictated.
It was a strange picture to see this king, lying by the side of the
coffin, surrounded by his children and servants, his weary head
reclining on the shoulder of his wife, listening attentively to this
programme, that spoke of him a still living and thinking being, as
of a cold, dead, senseless mass. Not as for a sad festival, but for
a grand parade, had the king arranged it, and it made a fearful,
half-comic impression upon the auditors, when was added, at the
especial request of the king, that, after his laying out, a splendid
table should be set in the great hall for all who had been present
at the ceremony, and that none but the best wines from his cellar
should be served.
After having provided for his corpse, Frederick William still wished
to leave to each of his favorites, the Prince of Dessau and Baron
Hacke, a horse. He ordered the horses to be led from their stalls to
the court. He then desired his chair to be rolled to an open window,
where he could see the entire court, and give a farewell look to
each of these animals which had so often borne him to feasts and
parades. Oh! what costly, glorious days those were, when he could
lightly swing himself upon these proud steeds, and ride out into
God's fresh, free air, to be humbly welcomed by his subjects, to be
received with the roll of drums and the sound of trumpets, and every
moment of his life be made aware of his greatness and power by the
devotion and humility of those who surrounded him! And that was all
set aside and at an end. Never again could he mount his horse, never
again could he ride through the streets of Berlin, and rejoice over
the beautiful houses and stately palaces called into life by his
royal will. Never again will he receive the humble welcome of his
subjects; and when on the morrow drums are beating and cannon
thundering, they will not salute the king, but his corpse.
Oh! and life is so beautiful; the air is so fresh and balmy; the
heavens of so clear and transparent a blue; and he must leave it
all, and descend into the dark and lonely grave.
The king brushed a tear from his eye, and turning his gaze from
heaven and God's beautiful earth, looked upon the horses which a
servant was leading to and fro in the court. As he did this, his
countenance brightened, he forgot for the moment that death was near
at hand, and looked with eager attention to see which of the horses
the gentlemen would choose. When he saw the selection the Prince of
Dessau had made, he smiled, with the pitying look of a connoisseur.
"That is a bad horse, my dear prince," he exclaimed; "take the other
one, I will vouch for him."
After the prince had chosen the horse shown him by the king, and
Baron Hacke the other, he ordered the most magnificent and costly
saddles to be placed on them; and while this was being done, he
looked on with eager interest. Behind him stood the minister
Rodewills, and the secretary of state, whom the king had summoned to
his presence to receive his resignation, by which he transferred the
kingly authority to his son the prince royal. Behind him stood
Frederick and the queen, the generals and the priests. The king was
unconscious of their presence; he had forgotten that he was dying;
he thought only of his horses, and a dark cloud settled on his face
as the groom buckled a saddle covered with blue velvet over the
yellow silk housing of Prince Anhalt's horse.
"Oh, if I were only well, how I would beat that stupid boy!"
exclaimed the king, in a loud, menacing voice. "Hacke, have the
kindness to beat him for me."
The horses pointed their ears and neighed loudly, and the servants
trembled at the voice of their master, who was speaking to them as
angrily as ever, but in a deep, sepulchral voice.
But his anger was of short duration, and he sank back into his
chair, breathing heavily and brokenly. He had not the strength to
sign his resignation, and demanded to be taken from his chair and
placed upon the bed.
There he lay motionless, with half-closed eyes, groaning and
sighing. A fearful stillness reigned in the chamber of death. All
held their breath; all wished to hear the last death-sigh of the
king; all wished to witness the mysterious and inscrutable moment
when the soul, freeing itself from its earthly tenement, should
ascend to the spring of light and life as an invisible but
indestructible atom of divinity. Pale and trembling the prince
leaned over his father; the kneeling queen prayed in a low voice.
With earnest and sorrowful faces the generals and cavaliers,
physicians and priests, looked at this pale and ghost-like being,
who but a few moments before was a king, and was now a clod of the
valley. But no, Frederick William was not yet dead; the breath that
had ceased returned to his breast. He opened his eyes once more, and
they were again full of intelligence. He ordered a glass to be given
him, and looked at himself long and attentively.
"I don't look as badly as I thought," said he, with the last
fluttering emotion of human vanity. "Feel my pulse, doctor, and tell
me how long I have still to live."
"Your majesty insists on knowing?"
"I command you to tell me."
"Well, then, your majesty is about to die," said Ellert, solemnly.
"How do you know it?" he asked, composedly.
"By your wavering pulse, sire."
The king held his arm aloft, and moved his hand to and fro.
"Oh, no," said he, "if my pulse were failing I could not move my
Suddenly he ceased speaking, and uttered a loud cry, his uplifted
arm sinking heavily to his side.
"Jesus, Jesus!" murmured the king, "I live and die in Thee. Thou art
The last fearful prayer died on his lips, the spirit had flown, and
Frederick was no longer a living, thinking being, but senseless,
The prince royal conducted the weeping queen from the apartment. The
courtiers remained, but their features were no longer sad and
sympathetic, but grave and thoughtful. The tragedy here was at an
end, and all were anxious to see the drama from which the curtain
was now to be drawn in the apartments of the prince royal. Frederick
William had breathed his last, and was becoming cold and stiff; he
was only a corpse, with which one had nothing more to do.
In unseemly haste they all crowded through the widely-opened folding
doors of the death-chamber, and hastened into the ante-room that led
to the young king's apartments.
Who will be favored, who receive the first rays of the rising sun?
They all see a sunny future before them. A new period begins, a
period of splendor, abundance, and joy; the king is young, and fond
of display and gay festivities; he is no soldier king, but a
cavalier, a writer, and a learned man. Art and science will bloom,
gallantry and fashion reign; the corporal's baton is broken, the
flute begins her soft, melodious reign.
Thus thought all these waiting courtiers who were assembled in the
young king's ante-chamber. Thus thought the grand chamberlain
Pollnitz, who stood next to the door that led to the chamber within.
Yes, a new period must commence for him; his would be a brilliant
future, for the prince royal had always been loving and gracious to
him, and the young king must remember that it was Pollnitz who
induced Frederick William to pay the prince's debts. The king must
remember this, and, for the services he had rendered, raise him to
honor and dignity; he must be the favorite, the envied, feared, and
powerful favorite, before whom all should bend the knee as to the
king himself. The king was young, inexperienced, and easily led; he
had a warm heart, a rich imagination, and an ardent love of pleasure
and splendor. These qualities must be cultivated in the young king;
by these reins he would control him; and while intoxicated with
pleasure and delight, he lay on his sweet-scented couch,
strengthening himself for new follies, Pollnitz would reign in his
stead, and be the real king.
These were no chimeras, no vain dreams, but a well-considered plan,
in which Pollnitz had a powerful abettor in the person of
Fredersdorf, chamberlain of the young king, who had promised that he
should be the first that the king should call for.
For this reason Pollnitz stood nearest the door; for this reason he
so proudly regarded the courtiers who were breathlessly awaiting the
opening of that door.
There, the door opens, and Fredersdorf appears.
"Here I am," exclaimed Pollnitz, casting a triumphant look at his
companions, and following Fredersdorf into the royal presence.
"Well, have I not kept my promise?" said Fredersdorf, as they passed
through the first room.
"You have kept yours, and I will keep mine; we will reign together."
"Step in, the king is there," said Fredersdorf.
The young king stood at the window, his forehead resting on the
sash, sighing and breathing heavily, as if oppressed. As he turned,
Pollnitz noticed that his eyes were red with weeping, and the
courtier's heart misgave him.
A young king, just come into power, and not intoxicated by his
brilliant fortune, but weeping for his father's death! It augured
ill for the courtier's plans.
"All hail and blessing to your majesty!" exclaimed Pollnitz, bowing
with apparent enthusiasm to kiss the king's robe.
The king stepped aside, motioned him off, and said, with a slight
smile, "Leave these ceremonies until the coronation. I need you now
for other things. You shall be master of etiquette and ceremonies at
my court, and you will commence your duties by making the necessary
arrangements for my father's funeral. Unhappily, I must begin my
reign by disobeying my father's commands. I cannot allow this simple
and modest funeral to take place. The world would not understand it,
and would accuse me of irreverence. No, he must be interred with all
the honors due to a king. That is my desire; see that it is
The grand chamberlain was dismissed, and passed out of the royal
chambers lost in contemplation of his coming greatness, when,
suddenly hearing his name, he turned and perceived the king at the
"One thing more, Pollnitz," said the king, his eye resting with a
piercing expression on the smiling countenance of the courtier; "one
thing more--above all things, no cheating, no bad jokes, no
overrating, no accounts written with double chalk. I will never
forgive any thing of this kind, remember that."
Without awaiting an answer, the king turned and re-entered his room.
Baron Pollnitz stared after him with widely-distended eyes; he felt
as if a thunderbolt had destroyed his future.
This was not the extravagant, voluptuous, and confiding monarch that
Pollnitz had thought him, but a sober, earnest, and frugal king,
that even mistrusted and saw through him, the wily old courtier.
WE ARE KING.
Two days and nights had passed, and still no news from the prince
royal. King Frederick William still lived, and the little court of
Rheinsberg was consumed with impatience and expectation. All means
of dissipation were exhausted. Time had laid aside its wing, and put
on shoes of lead. She flew no longer, but walked like an aged woman.
How long an hour seems, when you count the seconds! How terribly a
day stretches out when, with wakeful but wearied eyes, you long for
Kaiserling's wit and Chazot's merry humor, where are they? Why is
Bielfeld's ringing laugh and the flute of Quantz silenced? All is
quiet, all are silent and waiting, dreaming of the happiness in
store for them, of the day of splendor, power, and magnificence that
will dawn for the favorites and friends of the prince royal when he
ascends the throne.
Is it not a proud and delightful thing to be the confidant and
companion of a king--to spend with him his treasures and riches, to
share with him the devotion and applause of the people?
Until now they had been forced to disguise their friendship and
devotion for the prince royal. They trembled for fear of exciting
the king's anger, and were in daily terror of being banished by him
from the presence of their prince.
When the prince royal ascends the throne they will be his powerful
and influential favorites, and their favor will be courted by all.
They will be his co-regents, and through and with him will rule the
It is, therefore, not astonishing that they look forward to his
accession to the throne with longing and impatience; not astonishing
that they curse these sluggish, slowly-passing hours, and would fain
have slept, slept on until the great and blessed moment when they
should be awakened with the news that their friend Prince Frederick
had ascended the throne of his fathers, and was King of Prussia.
In the midst of this excitement the princess royal alone seemed
quiet and unconstrained. She was calm and composed; she knew that
the events of the next few days would determine her whole life; she
feared that her happiness hung on the slender thread which bound the
dying king to life.
But Elizabeth Christine had a brave heart and a noble soul; she had
passed the night on her knees weeping and praying, and her heart was
full of misery. She had at last become quiet and composed, and was
prepared for any thing, even for a separation from her husband. If
Frederick expressed such a wish, she was determined to go. Where?
Anywhere. Far, far away. Whichever route she took, she was certain
to reach her destination, and this destination was the grave. If she
could not live with him, she would die! She knew this, and knowing
it, she was tranquil, even happy.
"I invite all the ladies and gentlemen of the court to spend the
evening in my room," she said, on the second day of this painful
expectation; "we will endeavor to imagine that the prince royal is
in our midst, and pass the hours in the usual manner; we will first
go yachting; afterwards we will all take tea together, and Baron
Bielfeld will read us a few chapters from the 'Henriade.' We will
then play cards, and finish the evening with a dance. Does this
programme meet with your approbation?" All murmured some words of
assent and thanks, but their faces were nevertheless slightly
clouded. Perceiving this, the princess royal said: "It seems that
you are not pleased, that my suggestion does not meet with your
approbation. Even the face of my little Louise von Schwerin is
clouded, and the countenance of my good Countess Katsch no longer
wears its pleasant smile. Well, what is it? I must know. Baron
Bielfeld, I appoint you speaker of this discontented community.
The baron smiled and sighed: "Your highness spoke a few days since
of your gift of prophecy, and in fact you are a prophetess, and have
seen through us. It is certainly a great happiness and a great honor
to spend the evening in the apartments of the princess royal. But if
your highness would allow us to ask a favor, it would be that our
exalted mistress would condescend to receive us either in the garden
saloon or music room, and not in your private apartments; for these
apartments, beautiful and magnificent as they are, have one great,
one terrible defect."
"Well," said the princess, as Bielfeld concluded, "I am curious to
know what this defect is. I believed my rooms to be beautiful and
charming; the prince royal himself regulated their arrangement, and
Pesne and Buisson ornamented them with their most beautiful
paintings. Quick then, tell me of this great defect!"
"Your highness, your apartments are in the right wing of the
castle." The princess looked at him inquiringly, astonishment
depicted in her countenance, and then laughed.
"Ah, now I see, my apartments are in the right wing of the castle;
that is, from there you cannot watch the great bridge, over which
all that come from Berlin or Potsdam must pass. You are right, this
is a great defect. But the music room is in the left wing, and from
there you can see both the bridge and the road. Let us, then,
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