Frederick the Great and His Court
Part 3 out of 8
adjourn to the music room for our reading, and when it becomes too
dark to see, we will play cards in my apartments."
They all followed the princess to the music room, where by chance
or out of mischief the princess chose the seat farthest from the
window, and thus compelled the company to assemble around her. As
they followed her, they all looked longingly through the window and
toward the bridge, over which the messenger of happiness might at
any moment pass.
Bielfeld took the book selected by the princess, and commenced
reading. But how torturing it was to road, to listen to these
pathetic and measured Alexandrines from the "Henriade," while
perchance in this same hour a new Alexander was placing the crown
upon his young and noble head! In fact, but little was heard of
these harmonious verses. All looked stealthily toward the window,
and listened breathlessly to every sound that came from the road.
Bielfeld suddenly ceased reading, and looked toward the window.
"Why do you not read on?" said the princess.
"Excuse me, I thought I saw a horse's head on the bridge!"
Forthwith, as if upon a given signal, they all flew to the windows;
the princess herself, in the general commotion, hastened to one.
Yes! Between the trees something was seen moving. There it is coming
on the bridge now! A peal of laughter resounded through the rooms.
An ox! Count Bielfeld's courier had transformed himself into an ox!
They all stole back to their seats in confusion, and the reading was
recommenced. But it did not last long; again Bielfeld came to a
"Pardon me, your highness, but now there is positively a horse on
Again they all rushed anxiously to the window. It certainly was a
horse, but its rider was not a royal messenger, but a common
"I see," said the princess, laughing, "that we must discontinue our
reading. Let us walk in the left wing of the garden, and as near the
gate as possible."
"Will the sun never set?" whispered Bielfeld to Count Wartensleben,
as they walked up and down. "I fear another Joshua has arrested its
But it set at last; it was now evening, and still no courier had
passed the bridge. They accepted the princess' invitation, and
hastened to her apartments and to the card-tables. And on this
occasion, as heretofore, the cards exercised a magic influence over
the inhabitants of Rheinsberg, for they were striving to win that,
from the want of which, not only the prince but all his courtiers
had so often suffered--gold! Count Wartensleben had lately arrived
and brought with him a well-filled purse, which Bielfeld,
Kaiserling, and Chazot were anxious to lighten.
The princess played with her maids of honor a game called Trisset,
in her boudoir, while the rest of the company, seated at several
tables in the adjoining room, played their beloved game of
quadrille. The door suddenly opened, and a valet appeared. In
passing the table at which Count Wartensleben, Bielfeld, and several
ladies were playing, he stealthily showed them a letter with a black
seal, which he was about to deliver to the princess.
"The king is then dead!" murmured they, hastily throwing their cards
on the table; the counters fell together, but they looked at them in
disdain. What cared they for a few lost pennies, now that their
prince had become king?
Count Wartensleben arose and said in a solemn voice: "I will be the
first to greet the princess as queen, and I will exert every effort
to utter the word 'majesty' in a full, resounding tone."
"I will follow you," said Bielfeld, solemnly.
And both advanced to the open door, through which the princess could
be seen still occupied in reading her letter. She seemed unusually
gay, and a bright, smile played upon her lips. Accidentally looking
up, she perceived the two cavaliers advancing slowly and solemnly
"Ah, you know, then, that a courier has at last crossed that fatal
bridge, and you come for news of the prince royal?"
"Prince royal?" repeated Wartensleben, in amazement. "Is he still
the prince royal?"
"You then thought he was king!" exclaimed the princess, "and came to
greet me as your queen?"
"Yes, your highness, and the word 'majesty' was already on my lips."
They all laughed heartily, and jested over this mistake, but were
nevertheless thankful when they were at last dismissed and were
allowed to retire to their rooms. When entirely alone, the princess
drew from her bosom the letter she had received, to read it once
more; she cast a loving and tender glance at the characters his hand
had traced, and as her eyes rested on his signature, she raised the
paper to her lips and kissed it.
"Frederick," whispered she, "my Frederick, I love you so deeply that
I envy this paper which has been touched by your hand, and upon
which your glorious eyes have rested. No, no," said she, "he will
not cast me off. Is it not written here--'In a few days I and the
people will greet you as Queen.' No, he could not be so cruel as to
set the crown on my head, and then cover it with ashes. If he
acknowledges me as his wife and queen before his people, and before
Germany, it must be his intention never to disown me, but to let me
live on by his side. Oh, he must surely know how truly I love him,
although I have never had the courage to tell him so. My tears and
my sighs must have whispered to him the secret of my love, and he
will have compassion with a poor wife who asks but to be permitted
to adore and worship him. And who knows but that he may one day be
touched by this great love, that he will one day raise up the poor
woman who now lies trembling at his feet, and press her to his
bosom. Oh, that this may be so, my God; let it be, and then let me
She sank back on her couch, and, pressing the letter to her lips,
whispered softly: "Good-night, Frederick, my Frederick!" She smiled
sweetly as she slept. Perhaps she was dreaming of him.
A deep silence soon reigned throughout the castle. All the lights
were extinguished. Sleep spread its wings over all these impatient
and expectant hearts, and fanned them into forgetfulness and
All slept, and now the long-expected courier is at last passing over
the bridge, which trembled beneath his horse's feet, but none hear
him, all are sleeping so soundly. His knocks resound through the
entire castle. It is the herald of the new era, which sheds its
first bright morning rays over the evening of the dark and gloomy
Now all are awake, and running to and fro through the halls, each
one burning with eagerness to proclaim the joyful news: "Frederick
is no longer prince royal. Frederick is king and the ruler of
Bielfeld is awakened by a loud knocking; he springs hastily out of
bed and opens the door to his friend Knobelsdorf. "Up, up, my
friend," exclaims the latter. "Dress quickly. We must go down and
congratulate the queen; we must be ready to accompany her
immediately to Berlin. Frederick William is dead, and we will now
reign in Prussia."
"Ah, another fairy tale," said Bielfeld dressing hastily; "a fairy
tale, by which we have been too often deceived to believe in its
"No, no, this time it is true. The king is dead, quite dead! Jordan
has received orders to embalm the corpse, and once in his hands, it
will never come to life again."
Bielfeld being now ready, the two friends hurried to the ante-
chamber that led to the princess royal's apartments. The entire
court of the new queen had assembled in this chamber, and they were
endeavoring to suppress their joy and delight, and to look grave and
earnest in consideration of the solemnity of the occasion. They
conversed in whispers, for the bed-chamber of the princess was next
to this room, and she still slept.
"Yes, the princess royal sleeps, but when she awakes she will be a
queen! She must be awakened, to receive her husband's letter."
The Countess Katsch, with two of Elizabeth's maids of honor, entered
her bed-chamber, well armed with smelling-bottles and salts.
Elizabeth Christine still slept. But on so important an occasion the
sleep even of a princess was not considered sacred. The countess
drew back the curtains, and Elizabeth was awakened by the bright
glaring light. She looked inquiringly at the countess, who
approached her with a low and solemn courtesy.
"Pardon me for waking your majesty--"
"Majesty, why 'your majesty?'" said the princess, quickly. "Has
another ox or horse crossed the fatal bridge?"
"Yes, your majesty, but it was Baron Villich's horse, and he brought
the news that King Frederick William expired yesterday at Potsdam. I
have a smelling-bottle here, your majesty; allow me to hold--"
The young queen pushed back the smelling-bottle; she did not feel in
the least like fainting, and her heart beat higher.
"And has the baron brought no letter for me?" said she,
"Here is a letter, your majesty."
The queen hastily broke the seal. It contained but a few lines, but
they were in her husband's handwriting, and were full of
significance. To her these few lines indicated a future full of
splendor, happiness, and love. The king called her to share with him
the homage of his subjects. It is true there was not a word of
tenderness or love in the letter, but the king called her to his
side; he called her his wife.
Away, then, away to Berlin, where her husband was awaiting her;
where the people would greet her as their queen; where a new world,
a new life would unfold itself before her; a life of proud
enjoyment! For Elizabeth will be the queen, the wife of Frederick.
Away, then, to Berlin!
The queen received the congratulations of her court in the music-
room. And now to Berlin, where a new sun has risen, a King Frederick
ROYAL GRACE AND ROYAL DISPLEASURE.
The cannon thundered, the bells rang loudly and merrily; the
garrison in Berlin took the oath, as the garrison in Potsdam had
done the day before.
The young king held his first great court to-day in the White
Saloon. From every province, from every State, from every
corporation, deputations had arrived to look upon the long-hoped-for
king, the liberator from oppression, servitude, and famine. Delight
and pure unqualified joy reigned in every heart, and those who
looked upon the features of Frederick, illuminated with kindliness
and intellect, felt that for Prussia it was the dawning of a new
But who was called to assist in organizing this new movement? Whom
had the king chosen from amongst his friends and servants? whom had
he set aside? upon whom would he revenge himself? Truth to tell,
there were many now standing in the White Saloon who had often,
perhaps, in obedience to the king's command, brought suffering and
bitter sorrow upon the prince royal; many were there who had humbled
him, misused his confidence, and often brought down his father's
rage and scorn upon him.
Will the king remember these things, now that he has the power to
punish and revenge his wrongs? Many had entered the White Saloon
trembling with anxiety; timidly keeping in the distance; glad that
the eye of the king did not rest upon them; glad to slip unseen into
But nothing escaped the eye of Frederick; he had remarked the group
standing in the far-off window; he understood full well their
restless, disturbed, and anxious glances. A pitiful and sweet smile
spread over his noble features, an expression of infinite gentleness
illumined his face; with head erect he drew near to this group, who,
with the instinct of a common danger, pressed more closely together,
and awaited their fate silently.
Who had so often and so heavily oppressed the prince as Colonel
Derchau? who had mocked at him and persecuted him so bitterly? who
had carried out the harsh commands of the king against him so
unrelentingly? It was Derchau and Grumbkow who presided at the first
cruel trial of "Captain Fritz," and had repeated to him the hard and
threatening words of the king. "Captain Fritz" had wept with rage,
and sworn to revenge himself upon these cruel men. Will the king
remember the oath of the captain? The king stood now near the
colonel; his clear eye was fixed upon him. This man, who had
prepared for him so many woes, now stood with bowed head and loudly-
beating heart, completely in his power. Suddenly, with a rash
movement, the king extended his hand, and said, mildly:
"Good-day, Derchau." It was the first time in seven years that
Frederick had spoken to him, and this simple greeting touched his
heart; he bowed low, and as he kissed the outstretched hand, a hot
tear fell upon it. "Colonel Derchau," said the king, "you were a
faithful and obedient servant to my royal father; you have
punctually followed his wishes and given him unconditional
obedience. It becomes me to reward my father's faithful subject.
From to-day you are a major-general."
As the king turned, his eye fell upon the privy councillor Von
Eckert, and the mild and conciliating expression vanished from his
features; he looked hard and stern.
"Has the coat-of-arms been placed upon the house in Jager Street?"
said the king.
"No, your majesty."
"Then I counsel you not to have it done; this house is the property
of the crown, and it shall not be sacrificed by such folly. Go home,
and there you will receive my commands."
Pale and heart-broken, Eckert glided from the group; mocking
laughter followed his steps through the saloons; no one had a word
of regret or pity for him; no one remembered their former friendship
and oft-repeated assurances of service and gratitude. He passed
tremblingly through the palace; as he reached the outer door,
Pollnitz stepped before him; a mocking smile played upon his lips,
and his glance betrayed all the hatred which he had been compelled
to veil or conceal during the life of Frederick William.
"Now," said he, slowly, "will you send me the wine which you
promised from your cellar? You UNDERSTAND, the wine from your house
in Jager Street, for which I arranged the coat-of-arms! Ah, those
were charming days, my dear privy councillor! You have often broken
your word of honor to me, often slandered me, and brought upon me
the reproaches of the king. I have, however, reason to be thankful
to you; this house which you have built in Jager Street is stately
and handsome, and large enough for a cavalier of my pretensions. You
have, also, at the cost of the king, furnished it with such princely
elegance that it is in all things an appropriate residence for a
cavalier. Do you not remember my description of such a house? The
king called it then a Spanish air-castle. You, great-hearted man,
have made my castle in the air a splendid reality, and now that it
is finished and furnished, you will, in your magnanimity, leave that
house to me. I shall be your heir! You know, my dear Eckert, that
the privy councillor is dead, and only the chimney-builder lives;
and even the adroit chimney-builder is banished from Berlin, and
must remain twenty miles away from his splendid home. But tell me,
Eckert, when one of my chimneys smokes, may I not send a messenger
to you, will you not promise me to come and put things in order for
Eckert muttered some confused words, and tried to force Pollnitz
from the door, before which the hard-hearted, spiteful courtier had
placed himself, like the angel with the avenging sword.
"You wish to go," said he, with assumed kindliness. "Oh, without
doubt you wish to see the royal commands now awaiting you at your
house. I can tell you literally the sentence of the king: you have
lost your office, your income, your rank, and you are banished from
Berlin! that is all. The king, as you see, has been gracious; he
could have had you executed, or sent to Spandau for life, but he
would not desecrate his new reign with your blood. For this reason
was he gracious."
"Let me pass," said Eckert, trembling, and pale as death. "I am
choking! let me out!"
Pollnitz still held him back. "Do you not know, good man, that a
thousand men stand below in the courtyard? do you not hear their
shouts and rejoicings? Well, these hurrahs will be changed into
growls of rage when the people see you, my dear Eckert; in their
wild wrath they might mistake you for a good roast, with which to
quiet their hunger. You know that the people are hungry; you, who
filled the barns of the king with grain, and placed great locks and
bars upon the doors, lest the people, in their despairing hunger,
might seize upon the corn! You even swore to the king that the
people had enough, and did not need his corn or his help! Listen,
the people shout again; I will not detain you. Go and look upon this
happy people. The king has opened the granaries and scattered bread
far and wide, and the tax upon meal is removed for a month.
[Footnote: See King's "History of Berlin," vol. v. The king's own
words.] Go, dear Eckert, go and see how happy the people are!"
With a wild curse Eckert sprang from the door; Pollnitz followed him
with a mocking glance. "Revenge is sweet," he said, drawing a long
breath; "he has often done me wrong, and now I have paid him back
with usury. Eckert is lost. Would that I had his house! I must have
it! I will have it! Oh, I will make myself absolutely necessary to
the king; I will flatter, I will praise, I will find out and fulfil
his most secret, his unspoken wishes. I will force him to give me
his confidence--to make me his maitre de plaisir. Yes, yes, the
house in Jager Street shall be mine! I have sworn it, and
Fredersdorf has promised me his influence. And now to the king; I
must see for myself if this young royal child can, like Hercules in
his cradle, destroy serpents on the day of his birth; or, if he is a
king, like all other kings, overcome by flattery, idle and vain,
knowing or acknowledging no laws over himself, but those of his own
conscience and his bon plaisir. But hark! that is the king's voice;
to whom is he speaking?"
Pollnitz hastened into the adjoining room; the king was standing in
the midst of his ministers, and a deputation of magistrates of
Berlin, and was in the act of dismissing them.
"I command you," said the king, in conclusion, turning to his
ministers, "as often as you think it necessary to make any changes
in my orders and regulations, to make known your opinions to me
freely, and not to be weary in so doing; I may, unhappily, sometimes
lose sight of the true interests of my subjects; I am resolved that
whenever in future my personal interest shall seem to be contrary to
the welfare of my people, their happiness shall receive the first
"Alas, it will be very difficult to tame this youthful Hercules!"
murmured Pollnitz, glancing toward the king, who was just leaving
the apartment; "the serpents that we will twine about him must be
strong and alluring; now happily Fredersdorf and myself are
acquainted with some such serpents, and we will take care that he
finds them in his path."
In the mean time the king had left the reception-room, and retired
to his private apartments, where the friends and confidants from
Rheinsberg awaited him with hopeful hearts. They were all ready to
receive the showers of gold, which, without doubt, would rain down
upon them. They were all convinced that the young king would lay
upon them, at least, a corner of the mantle of ermine and purple
with which his shoulders should be adorned. They alone would be
chosen to aid in bearing the burden of his kingly crown and royal
sceptre. They were all dreaming of ambassadorships, presidencies,
and major-generals' epaulettes.
As the king entered, they received him with loud cries of joy. The
Margrave Henry, who had often borne a part in the gay fetes at
Rheinsberg, hastened to greet the king with gay, witty words, and
both hands extended. Frederick did not respond to this greeting; he
did not smile; looking steadily at the Margrave, he stepped back and
"Monsieur, now I am the king; no longer the gardener at Rheinsberg."
The king read the pained astonishment in the faces of his friends
who, one moment before, had been so HOPEFUL, so assured; he advanced
and said, in a kindly tone, "We are no longer in Rheinsberg. The
beautiful proverb of Horace belongs to our past. 'Folly is sweet in
its season.' There I was the gardener and the friend--here I am the
king; here all must work, and each one must use his talents and his
strength in the service of the State, and thus prove to the people
that the prince had reason to choose him for a friend."
"And may I also be a partaker of that grace and be counted amongst
the friends of the king?" said the old Prince of Anhalt Dessau, who,
with his two sons, had just entered and heard the last words of
Frederick; "will your majesty continue to me and my sons the favor
which your ever-blessed father granted to us during so many long and
happy years? Oh, your majesty, I beseech you to be gracious to us,
and grant us the position and influence which we have so long
enjoyed." So saying, the old prince bent his knee to his youthful
monarch. The king bowed his head thoughtfully, and a smile played
upon his lips; he gave his hand to the prince, and commanded him to
"I will gladly leave you your place and income, for I am sure you
will serve me as faithfully and zealously as you did my father. As
regards the position and influence which you desire, I say to you
all, no man under my reign will have position but I myself, and not
even my best friend will exercise the slightest influence over me."
The friends from Rheinsberg turned pale, and exchanged stolen
glances with each other. There was no more jesting; the hand of ice
had been laid upon their beating hearts, and the wings of hope were
broken. The king did not seem to remark the change; he drew near to
his friend Jordan, and taking his arm, walked to the window, and
spoke with him long and earnestly.
The courtiers and favorites looked after their happy friend with
envious glances, and observed every shade in the countenances of the
king and Jordan. The king was calm, but an expression of painful
surprise settled like a cloud upon Jordan. Now the king left the
window, and called Bielfeld to him; spoke with him also long and
gravely, and then dismissed him, and nodded to Chazot to join him;
lastly he took the arm of the Duke of Wartensleben, and walked
backward and forward, chatting with him. The duke was radiant with
joy, but the other courtiers looked suspicious and lowering; with
none of them had he spoken so long; no other arm had he so
familiarly taken. It was clear that Wartensleben was the declared
favorite of the king; he had driven them from the field.
The king observed all this; he had read the envy, malice, rage, and
melancholy in the faces of his friends; he knew them all too well;
had too long observed them, not to be able to read their thoughts.
It had pleased him to sport awhile with these small souls, so filled
with selfishness, envy, and every evil passion; he wished to give
them a lesson, and bring them down from their dizzy and imaginary
heights to the stern realities of life. The king had used
Wartensleben as his instrument for this purpose, and now must the
poor duke's wings be clipped. The mounting waves of his ambition
must be quieted by the oil of truth.
"Yes," said the king, "I am the ruler of a kingdom; I have a great
army and a well-filled treasury, you cannot doubt that it is my
highest aim to make my country blossom as the rose; to uphold the
reputation of my army, and to make the best use of my riches. The
gold is there to circulate; it is there to reward those who
faithfully serve their fatherland; but above all other things it is
there for those who are truly my friends."
The features of the young duke were radiant with expectation; as the
king saw this, a mocking smile flashed from his eye.
"I will, however, naturally know how to distinguish between my
friends, and those who do not need gold will not receive it. You,
for example, my dear duke, are enormously rich; you will content
yourself, therefore, with my love, as you will naturally never
receive a dollar from me." So speaking, he nodded kindly to the
duke, passed into the next room, and closed the door behind him.
Grave and dumb, the friends from Rheinsberg gazed upon each other;
each one regarded the other as his successful rival, and thought to
see in him what he had not become--a powerful favorite, a minister,
or general. All felt their love growing cold, and almost hated the
friends who stood in their way. Jordan was the first who broke
silence. Reaching his hand to Bielfeld, he said:
"It must not be thought that disappointed hopes have hardened our
hearts, and that envy blinds us to the advantages of our friends. I
love you, Bielfeld, because of your advantages and talents; and I
understand full well why the king advances you before me. Receive
also my good wishes, and be assured that from the heart I rejoice in
Bielfeld looked amazed. "My success!" said he. "Dear friend, you
need not be envious; and as to my advancement, it is so small an
affair that I can scarcely find it. The king said he intended me for
a diplomatist, but that I needed years of instruction. With this
view he had selected me to accompany Duke Truckfess to Hanover. When
I returned from there, I would receive further orders. This is my
promotion, and you must confess I make a small beginning. But you,
dear Jordan, what important position have you received? You are the
king's dearest friend, and he has without doubt advanced you above
us all. I acknowledge that you merit this. Tell us also what are
"Yes," cried they all eagerly, "what are you? Are you minister of
State or minister of Church affairs?"
"What am I?" cried Jordan, laughing. "I will tell you, my friends. I
am not minister of Church affairs; I am not minister of State. I am-
-ah, you will never guess what I am--I belong to the police! I must
remove the beggars from the streets of Berlin, and found a workhouse
for them. Now, dear friends, am I not enviable?" For a moment all
were silent; then every eye was fixed upon Wartensleben.
"And you, dear duke, are you made happy? You have cut open the
golden apple; you have the longed-for portfolio."
"I!" cried the duke, half angry, half merry. "I have nothing, and
will receive nothing. I will tell you what the king said to me. He
assured me earnestly and solemnly that I was rich enough, and would
never receive a dollar from him."
At this announcement they all broke out in uproarious laughter. "Let
us confess," said Bielfeld, "that we have played to-day a rare
comedy--a farce which Moliere might have written, and which must
bear the title of La Journee des Dupes. Now, as we have none of us
become distinguished, let us all be joyful and love each other
dearly. But listen! the king plays the flute; how soft, how melting
is the sound!"
Yes, the king played the flute; he cast out with those melodious
strains the evil spirit of ennui which the tiresome etiquette of the
day had brought upon him. He played the flute to recover himself--to
regain his cheerful spirit and a clear brow. Soon he laid it aside,
and his eye rested upon the unopened letters and papers with which
the table was covered. Yes, he must open all these letters, and
answer them himself, he alone. Nobody should do his work; all should
work only through him; no one should decree or command in Prussia
but the king. Every thing should flow from him. He would be the
heart and soul of his country.
Frederick opened and read the letters, and wrote the answer on the
margin of the paper, leaving it to the secretary to copy. And now
the work was almost done; the paper with the great seal, which he
now opened, was the last.
This was a declaration from the Church department, which announced
that, through the influence of the Catholic schools in Berlin, many
Protestants had become Catholics. Did not his majesty think it best
to close these schools? A pitiful smile played upon the lips of
Frederick as he read. "And they say they believe in one God, and
their priests and ministers preach Christian forbearance and
Christian love, while they know nothing of either. They have not
God, but the Church, always before their eyes; they are intolerant
in their hearts, imperious, and full of cunning. I will bend them,
and break down their assumed power. My whole life will be a battle
with priests; they will mock at me, and call me a heretic. Let the
Church be ever against me, if my own conscience absolves me. Now I
will begin the war, and what I now write will be a signal of alarm
in the tents of all the pious priests."
He took up the paper again and wrote on the margin, "All religions
shall be tolerated. The magistrates must have their eyes open, and
see that no sect imposes on another. In Prussia each man shall be
saved in his own way." [Footnote: Busching. The king's words.]
THE GARDEN OF MONBIJOU.
The excitement of the first days was quieted. The young king had
withdrawn for a short time to the palace in Charlottenburg, while
his wife remained in Berlin, anxiously expecting an invitation to
follow her husband.
But the young monarch appeared to have no care or thought but for
his kingdom. He worked and studied without interruption; even his
beloved flute was untouched.
Berlin was, according to etiquette, draped with mourning for a few
days; it served in this instance as a veil to the joy with which all
looked forward to the coronation of the new king. All appeared
earnest and solemn, but every heart was joyful and every eye
beaming. The palace of the king was silent and deserted; the king
was, as we have said, at Charlottenburg; the young queen was in the
palace formerly occupied by the prince royal, and the dowager queen
Sophia Dorothea had retired with the two princesses, Ulrica and
Amelia, to the palace of Monbijou. All were anxious and expectant;
all hoped for influence and honor, power and greatness. The scullion
and the maids, as well as the counts and princes, and even the queen
herself, dreamed of happy and glorious days in the future.
Sophia Dorothea had been too long a trembling, subjugated woman; she
was rejoicing in the thought that she might at length be a queen.
Her son would doubtless grant to her all the power which had been
denied her by her husband; he would remember the days of tears and
bitterness which she had endured for his sake; and now that the
power was in his hands she would be repaid a thousandfold. The young
king would hold the sceptre in his hands, but he must allow his
mother to aid in keeping it upright; and if he found it too weighty,
the queen was ready to bear it for him, and reign in his stead,
while her dreamy son wrote poems, or played on the flute, or
philosophized with his friends. Frederick was certainly not formed
to rule; he was a poet and a philosopher; he dreamed of a Utopia; he
imagined an ideal which it was impossible to realize. The act of
ruling would be a weary trial to him, and the sounds of the trumpet
but ill accord with his harmonious dreams.
But happily his mother was there, and was willing to reign for him,
to bear upon her shoulders the heavy burdens and cares of the
kingdom, to work with the ministers, while the king wrote poetical
epistles to Voltaire.
Why should not Sophia Dorothea reign? Were there not examples in all
lands of noble women who governed their people well and honorably?
Was not England proud of her Elizabeth, Sweden of her Christina,
Spain of Isabella, Russia of Catharine? and even in Prussia the
queen Sophia Charlotte had occupied a great and glorious position.
Why could not Sophia Dorothea accomplish as much or even more than
These were the thoughts of the queen as she walked up and down the
shady paths of the garden of Monbijou, and listened with a proud
smile to the flattering words of Count Manteuffel, who had just
handed her a letter of condolence from the Empress of Austria.
"Her majesty the empress has sent me a most loving and tender letter
to-day," said the dowager queen, with an ironical smile.
"She has then only given expression to-day, to those sentiments
which she has always entertained for your majesty," said the count,
The queen bowed her head smilingly, but said, "The houses of
Hohenzollern and Hapsburg have never been friendly; it is not in
their nature to love one another."
"The great families of Capulet and Montague said the same," remarked
Count Manteuffel, "but the anger of the parents dissolved before the
love of the children."
"But we have not arrived at the children," said the queen proudly,
as she thought how her husband had been deceived by the house of
Austria, and recalled that, on his death-bed he had commanded his
son Frederick to revenge those treacheries.
"Pardon me, your majesty, if I dare to contradict you; we have most
surely arrived at the children, and the difficulties of the parents
are forgotten in their love. Is not the wife of the young king the
deeply-loved niece of the Austrian empress?"
"She was already his wife, count, as my husband visited the emperor
in Bohemia, and it was not considered according to etiquette for the
emperor to offer his hand to the King of Prussia." [Footnote:
"She was, however, not his wife when Austria, by her repeated and
energetic representations, saved the life of the prince royal. For
your majesty knows that at one time that precious life was
"It was threatened, but it would have been preserved without the
assistance of Austria; for the mother of Frederick was at hand, and
that mother was sister to the King of England." And the queen cast
on the count so proud and scornful a glance that his eyes fell
involuntarily to the ground. Sophia Dorothea saw this, and smiled.
This was her triumph; she would now show herself mild and forgiving.
"We will speak no more of the past," she said, in a friendly manner.
"The death of my husband has cast a dark cloud over it, and I must
think only of the future, that my son, the young king, may not
always behold me with tears in my eyes. No, I will look forward, for
I have a great presentiment that Prussia's future will be great and
"Would that it might be thus for the whole of Germany!" cried the
count. "It must be so, if the houses of Hohenzollern and Hapsburg
will forget their ancient quarrels, and live together in love and
"Let Hapsburg extend to us the hand of love and peace; show us her
sympathy, her justice, and her gratitude, in deeds, not words."
"Austria is prepared to do so, your majesty! the question is,
whether Prussia will grasp her hand and place upon it the ring of
The queen glanced up so quickly that she perceived the dark and
threatening look of the count. "Austria is again making matrimonial
plans," she said, with a bitter smile. "She is not satisfied with
one marriage, such as that of her imperial niece, she longs for a
repetition of this master-work. But this time, count, there is no
dear one to be saved at any cost from a prison, this time the
decision can be deferred until the arrival of all the couriers." And
the queen, dismissing the count with a slight bow, recalled her
ladies of honor, who were lingering at a short distance, and passed
into one of the other walks.
Count Manteuffel remained where the queen had left him, looking
after her with an earnest and thoughtful countenance. "She is
prouder and more determined than formerly," he murmured; "that is a
proof that she will be influential, and knows her power. What she
said of the courier was without doubt an allusion to the one who
arrived an hour too late, with the consent of England, on the
betrothal day of the prince royal. Ah! there must be other couriers
en route, and one of them was most probably sent to England. We must
see that he arrives an hour too late, as the former one did." At
this instant, and in his immediate vicinity, Manteuffel heard a soft
and melodious voice saying, "No, count, you can never make me
believe in your love. You are much too blond to love deeply."
"Blond!" cried a manly voice, with a tone of horror. "You do not
like fair hair, and until now I have been so proud of mine. But I
will have it dyed black, if you will promise to believe in my love."
The lady replied with a light laugh, which brought an answering
smile to the countenance of Count Manteuffel. "It is my ally, Madame
von Brandt," he said to himself. "I was most anxious to see her, and
must interrupt her tender tete-a-tete with Count Voss for one
moment." So speaking, the count hurried to the spot from which he
had heard the voices of Madame von Brandt and her languishing lover.
The count approached the lady with the most delighted countenance,
and expressed his astonishment at finding his beautiful friend in
the garden of the dowager queen.
"Her majesty did me the honor to invite me to spend a few weeks
here," said Madame von Brandt. "She knew that my physician had
ordered me to the country, as the only means to restore my health;
and as she knows of my great intimacy with Mademoiselle von
Pannewitz, one of her ladies of honor, she was so kind as to offer
me a few rooms at Monbijou. Now I have explained to you the reason
of my presence here as minutely as if you were my father confessor,
and nothing remains to be done but to present you to my escort. This
is Count Voss, a noble cavalier, a sans peur et sans reproche, ready
to sacrifice for his lady love, if not his life, at least his fair
"Beware, my dear count," said Manteuffel, laughing, "beware that the
color of your hair is not changed by this lovely scoffer--that it
does not become a venerable gray. She is sufficiently accomplished
in the art of enchantment to do that; I assure you that Madame von
Brandt plays a most important role in the history of my gray hairs."
"Ah! it would be delightful to become gray in the service of Madame
von Brandt," said the young count, in so pathetic a tone that his
companions both laughed. "As often as I look at my gray hair I would
think of her." And the young count gazed into the distance, like one
entranced, and his smiling lips whispered low, unintelligible words.
"This is one of his ecstatic moments," whispered Madame von Brandt.
"He has the whim to consider himself an original; he imagines
himself a Petrarch enamored of his Laura. We will allow him to dream
awhile, and speak of our own affairs. But be brief, I beg of you,
for we must not be found together, as you are a suspicious
character, my dear count, and my innocence might be doubted if we
were seen holding a confidential conversation."
"Ah, it is edifying to hear Madame von Brandt speak like a young
girl of sixteen, of her threatened innocence. But we will
tranquillize this timidity, and be brief. In the first place, what
of the young queen?"
"State of barometer: cold and damp, falling weather, stormy, with
unfulfilled hopes, very little sunshine, and very heavy clouds."
"That means that the queen is still fearful of being slighted by her
"She is no longer fearful--he neglects her already. The king is at
Charlottenburg, and has not invited the queen to join him. As a
husband, he slights his wife; whether as king he will neglect his
queen, only time will reveal."
"And what of Madame von Morien?"
"The king seems to have forgotten her entirely since that unhappy
quid pro quo with the poem at Rheinsberg; his love seems to have
cooled, and he converses with her as harmlessly and as indifferently
as with any other lady. No more stolen words, secret embraces, or
amorous sighs. The miserable Morien is consumed with sorrow, for
since she has been neglected she loves passionately."
"And that is unhappily not the means to regain that proud heart,"
said Count Mantcuffel, shrugging his shoulders. "With tears and
languishing she will lose her influence, and only gain contempt. You
who are the mistress of love and coquetry should understand that,
and instruct your beautiful pupil. Now, however, comes the most
important question. What of the marriage of the Prince Augustus
Madame von Brandt sighed. "You are really inexorable. Have you no
compassion for the noble, heartfelt love of two children, who are as
pure and innocent as the stars in heaven?"
"And have you no compassion for the diamonds which long to repose
upon your lovely bosom?" said Count Manteuffel; "no compassion for
the charming villa which you could purchase? You positively refuse
to excite the envy of all the ladies at court by possessing the most
costly cashmere? You will--"
"Enough, Count Devil! you are in reality more a devil than a man,
for you lead my soul into temptation. I must submit. I will become a
serpent, reposing on the bosom of my poor Laura, poisoning her love
and lacerating her heart. Ah, count, if you knew how my conscience
reproaches me when I listen to the pure and holy confession of her
love, when trembling and blushing she whispers to me the secrets of
her youthful heart, and flies to me seeking protection against her
own weakness! Remember that these two children love each other,
without ever having had the courage to acknowledge it. Laura
pretends not to understand the deep sighs and the whispered words of
the prince, and then passes the long nights in weeping."
"If that is the case, it is most important to prevent an
understanding between these singular lovers. You must exert all your
influence with the young lady to induce her to close this romance
with an heroic act, which will make her appear a holy martyr in the
eyes of the prince."
"But, for example, what heroic act?"
"But how can we find a man so suddenly to whom this poor lamb can be
"There is one," said the count, pointing to Count Voss, who appeared
to have forgotten the whole world, and was occupied writing verses
in his portfolio.
Madame von Brandt laughed aloud. "He marry the beautiful Laura!"
"Yes," said the count, earnestly, "he seeks a Laura."
"Yes, but you forget that he considers me his Laura."
"You can, therefore, easily induce him to make this sacrifice for
you; he will be magnified in his own eyes, if, in resigning you, he
gives himself to the lady you have selected."
"You are terrible," said Madame von Brandt. "I shudder before you,
for I believe you have no human emotions in your heart of iron."
"There are higher and nobler considerations, to which such feelings
must yield. But see, the count has finished his poem. To work now,
my beautiful ally; today you must perfect your masterpiece; and now,
farewell," said the count, kissing her hand, as he left her side.
Madame von Brandt approached the young count, who seemed to be again
lost in thought. She placed her hand lightly on his shoulder, and
whispered, half tenderly, half reproachfully, "Dreamer, where are
"With you," said the count, who trembled and grew pale at her touch.
"Yes, with you, noblest and dearest of women; and as that tiresome
gossip prevented me from speaking to you, I passed the time he was
here in writing."
"But you did not remember," said she, tenderly, "that you were
compromising me before Count Manteuffel, who will not hesitate to
declare in what intimate relationship we stand to one another. Only
think of writing without apology, while a lady and a strange
gentleman were at your side!"
"The world will only exclaim 'What an original!'" said Count Voss,
with a foolish, but well-pleased smile.
"But it will also say that this original shows little consideration
for Madame von Brandt; that he must, therefore, be very intimate
with her. The reputation of a woman is so easily injured; it is like
the wing of the butterfly, so soon as the finger touches it or
points at it, it loses its lustre; and we poor women have nothing
but our good name and unspotted virtue. It is the only shield--the
only weapon--that we possess against the cruelty of man, and you
seek to tear that from us, and, then dishonored and humiliated, you
tread us under foot!"
"You are weeping!" cried the count, looking at his beloved, in whose
eyes the tears really stood--"you are weeping! I am truly a great
criminal to cause you to shed tears."
"No, you are a noble but most thoughtless man," said Madame von
Brandt, smiling through her tears. "You betray to the world what
only God and we ourselves should know."
"Heavens! what have I betrayed?" cried the poor frightened count.
"You have betrayed our love," whispered Madame von Brandt, as she
glanced tenderly at the count.
"What! our love?" he cried, beside himself with delight; "you admit
that it is not I alone who love?"
"I admit it, but at the same time declare that we must part."
"Never! no, never! No power on earth shall part us," said he,
seizing her hand, and covering it with kisses.
"But there is a power which has the right to separate us--the power
of my husband. He already suspects my feelings for you, and he will
be inexorable if he discovers that his suspicions are correct."
"Then I will call him out, and he will fall by my hand, and I shall
bear you in triumph as my wife to my castle."
"But if you should fall?"
"Ah! I had not thought of that," murmured the count, turning pale.
"That would be certainly a most unhappy accident. We will not tempt
fate with this trial, but seek another way out of our difficulty.
Ah, I know one already. You must elope with me."
She said, with a sad smile, "The arm of the king extends far and
wide, and my husband would follow us with his vengeance to the end
of the world."
"But what shall we do?" cried the count, despairingly; "we love each
other; separated, we must be consumed with grief and sorrow. Ah! ah!
shall I really suffer the fate of Petrarch, and pass my life in an
eternal dirge? Is there no way to prevent this?"
Madame von Brandt placed her hand with a slight but tender pressure
on his. "There is one way," she whispered, "a way to reassure, not
only my husband, but the whole world, which will cast a veil over
our love, and protect us from the wickedness and calumny of man."
"Show me this way," he exclaimed, "and if it should cost half of my
fortune I would walk in it, if I could hope to gain your love."
She bent her head nearer to him, and, with a most fascinating and
tender glance, whispered, "You must marry, count."
He withdrew a step, and uttered a cry of horror. "I must marry! You
desire it--you who profess to love me?"
"Because I love you, dearest, and because your marriage will break
the bands of etiquette which divide us. You must marry a lady of my
acquaintance, perhaps one of my friends, and then no one, not even
my husband, will consider our friendship remarkable."
"Oh! I see it; there is no other way," sighed the count. "If I were
only married now!"
"Oh! you ungrateful, faithless man," cried Madame von Brandt,
indignantly. "You long already for your marriage with the beautiful
young woman, in whose love I shall be forgotten."
"Oh! you are well aware that I only wish to be married because you
"Prove this by answering that you will not refuse to marry the lady
I shall point out to you."
"I swear it."
"You swear that you will marry no other than the one I name? You
swear that you will overcome all obstacles, and be withheld by no
prayers or reproaches?"
"I swear it."
"On the word of a count?"
"On the word of a count. Show me the lady, and I will marry her
against the will of the whole world."
"But if the lady should not love you?"
"Why should I care? Do I love her? Do I not marry her for your sake
"Ah! my friend," cried Madame von Brandt, "I see that we understand
one another. Come, and I will show you your bride."
She placed her arm in his, and drew him away. Her eye gleamed with a
wild, menacing light, and she said sneeringly to herself, "I have
selected a rich husband for my beautiful Laura, and have bartered my
soul for diamonds and cashmeres, and the gratitude of an empress."
THE QUEEN'S MAID OF HONOR.
After her interview with Count Manteuffel, the queen Sophia Dorothea
left the garden, and retired to her chamber. She dismissed her maids
of honor for a few hours, requesting them to admit no one to her
presence. She wished to consider and develop her plans in
undisturbed quiet. She felt that Austria was again prepared to throw
obstacles in the way of her favorite project--an English marriage
for one of her children. She wished to sharpen her weapons, and
marshal her forces for the approaching combat.
For a few hours, therefore, the maids of honor were free to follow
their own inclinations, to amuse themselves as they thought fit.
Laura von Pannewitz had declined accompanying the other ladies in
their drive. Her heart required solitude and rest. For her it was a
rare and great pleasure to listen in undisturbed quiet to the sweet
voices which whispered in her heart, and suffused her whole being
It was so sweet to dream of him--to recall his words, his smiles,
his sighs; all those little shades and signs which seemed so
unimportant to the careless, but which convey so much to the loving
He had written to her yesterday, and she--she had had the cruel
courage to return his letter unopened. But she had first pressed it
to her lips and to her heart with streaming eyes, and had then
fallen on her knees to pray to God, and to implore him to give her
strength and courage to overcome her heart, to renounce his love.
Since then an entire day had passed, and she had not seen him, had
heard nothing of him. Oh, he must be sad and very angry with her; he
wished never to see her again. And because he was angry, and wished
to hold himself aloof from her, he, the loving and attentive son,
had even neglected to pay the accustomed morning visit to his royal
mother, which he had never before omitted.
Her heart beating hurriedly, and weeping with anguish, Laura had
been standing before her window curtain awaiting him, and had prayed
to God that she might see him, or at least hear his voice in the
distance. But the prince did not arrive, and now the time had passed
at which he was accustomed to come. The queen had already retired to
her study, and would admit no one.
Laura could, therefore, no longer hope to see the prince Augustus
William on this day. As she thought of this, she felt as if a sword
had pierced her bosom, and despair took possession of her heart. She
threw herself on her knees, wrung her hands, and prayed to God, not
for strength and courage to renounce him as before, but for a little
sunshine on her sad and sorrowful love. Terrified at her own prayer,
she had then arisen from her knees, and had hurried to the room of
Madame von Brandt, to take refuge from her own thoughts and sorrows
in the bosom of a friend.
But her friend was not there, and she was told that Madame von
Brandt had gone down into the garden. Laura took her hat and shawl,
and sought her. As she walked down the shady avenue, her glowing
cheeks and burning eyes were cooled by the gentle breeze wafted over
from the river Spree, and she felt soothed; something like peace
stole into her heart. Laura had forgotten that she had come to the
garden to seek her friend; she felt only that the calm and peace of
nature had quieted her heart; that solitude whispered to her soul in
a voice of consolation and of hope. Hurriedly she passed on to the
denser and more solitary part of the garden, where she could give
herself up to dreams of him whose image still filled her heart,
although she had vainly endeavored to banish it.
She now entered the conservatory at the foot of the garden, which
had been converted into a beautiful and charming saloon, for the
exclusive use of the queen and her maids of honor. There were
artificial arbors of blooming myrtle and orange, in which luxurious
little sofas invited to repose; grottoes of stone had been
constructed, in the crevices of which rare mountain plants were
growing. There were little fountains which murmured and flashed
pleasantly, and diffused an agreeable coolness throughout the
atmosphere. Laura seated herself in one of the arbors, which was
covered with myrtle, and, in a reclining position, her head resting
on the trunk of an aged laurel-tree, which formed part of the
framework of the arbor, she closed her eyes that she might see
nothing but him.
It was a lovely picture, the beautiful and noble countenance of this
young girl, enclosed as it were in a frame of living myrtle; her
delicate but full and maidenly figure reclining against the trunk of
the tree, to which the chaste and timid love of a virgin had once
given life. She also was a Daphne, fleeing from her own desires,
fleeing from the sweetly-alluring voice of her lover, who, to her,
was the god of beauty and of grace, the god of learning and the
arts--her Apollo, whom she adored and believed in, whom she feared,
and from whom she fled like Daphne, because she loved him. For a
woman flees only from him whom she loves; she fears him only who is
dangerous, not because his words of tenderness and flattery are
alluring, but because her own heart pleads for him.
Laura was still sitting in the arbor, in a dreamy reverie. His image
filled her thoughts; her love was prayer, her prayer love. Her hands
lay folded in her lap; a sweet, dreamy smile played about her lips,
and from under her closed eyelids a few tears were slowly rolling
down her soft, rosy cheeks. She had been praying to God to give her
strength to conquer her own heart, and to bear, without murmuring
and without betraying herself, the sorrow, the anger, and even the
indifference of the prince. Still she felt that her heart would
break if he should desert and forget her. An alluring voice
whispered that it would be a more blissful end to die, after an hour
of ecstatic and intoxicating happiness, than to renounce his love,
and still die.
But the chaste Laura did not wish to hear this voice; she would
drown it with her prayers; and still, even while she prayed, she
thought how great and sublime a happiness it would be to kiss the
lips of her beloved, to whisper in his ear the long-concealed, long-
buried secret of her love. And then his kiss still on her lips, and
in the sunshine of his eyes, to fall down and die!--exchanging
heaven for heaven; redeeming bliss with bliss. And sweeter dreams
and more painful fantasies came over her; heavier and heavier sank
her eyelids; a weight of sorrow rested on her heart, and made it
weary unto death; until at the last, like the disciples on the
Mount, she slept for very sorrow.
The silence was profound. Suddenly stealthy footsteps could be
heard, and the figure of a man appeared at the entrance of the
grotto. Cautiously he stepped forward, and cast an inquiring glance
through the trailing vines which overhung the grotto, to the young
girl who still slumbered, reclining on the trunk of the laurel-tree.
It was Fritz Wendel, the gardener of Rheinsberg. Queen Sophia
Dorothea had desired to have her greenhouses and flower-beds
arranged in the style of those at Rheinsberg. And, by command of the
young king, several of the most expert gardeners of Rheinsberg had
been sent to Berlin to superintend this arrangement in the garden of
Monbijou. Fortune had favored the young gardener, and had again
brought him near her he loved. For the little maid of honor, Louise
von Schwerin, was not only the favorite of Queen Elizabeth, but
Queen Sophia Dorothea also loved this saucy and sprightly young
girl, who, because she was a child, and as such was excusable, was
allowed to break in upon court etiquette with her merry laughter,
and to introduce an element of freshness and vivacity into the stiff
forms of court life. Moreover, by her thoughtless and presumptuous
behavior at Rheinsberg, she had lost favor with the young couple who
now reigned in Prussia. Queen Elizabeth could not forget that it was
through Louise she had learned the name of her happy rival. And the
king was angry with her, because, through her, the secret of his
verses to Madame von Morien had been discovered. Louise von Schwerin
was rarely with Queen Elizabeth. Sophia Dorothea, however, kept this
young girl near her person for whole days. Her childish ways amused
the queen, and her merry pranks drove the stiff and formal mistress
of ceremonies, and the grave and stately cavaliers and ladies of the
court, to despair. And the little maid of honor came to the queen
willingly, for Monbijou had for her a great charm since the handsome
gardener, Fritz Wendel, had been there. The romance with this young
man had not yet come to an end; this secret little love affair had a
peculiar charm for the young girl; and as no other admirer had been
found for the little Louise, she for the present was very well
pleased with the adoration of the young gardener, to whom she was
not the "little Louise," but the bewitching fairy, the beautiful
goddess. It was Fritz Wendel who appeared at the entrance of the
grotto, and looked anxiously toward the sleeping Laura. He had been
occupied in arranging the plants and flowers in this conservatory,
which had been confided to his especial care. As the queen never
entered the garden at this time, this hour had been set apart for
In the midst of his occupation he was interrupted by the entrance of
Laura von Pannewitz, and had hastily retired to the grotto,
intending to remain concealed until the lady should have left the
conservatory. From his hiding-place, concealed by the dense Indian
vines, he could see the myrtle arbor in which the beautiful Laura
reposed; and now, seeing that she slept, he advanced slowly and
cautiously from the grotto. He listened attentively to her slow and
regular breathing--yes, she really slept; he might therefore
stealthily leave the saloon.
"Ah, if it were she!" he murmured; "if it were she! I would not
leave here so quietly. I would find courage to fall down at her feet
and to clasp her to my arms, while pressing my lips to hers, to
suppress her cry of terror. But this lady," said he, almost
disdainfully, turning to the sleeping Laura, "is so little like her-
-that she is--"
The words died on his lips, and he hastily retreated to the entrance
of the grotto. He thought he heard footsteps approaching the
conservatory. The door of the vestibule creaked on its hinges, and
again--Fritz Wendel slipped hastily into the grotto, and concealed
himself behind the dense vines.
On the threshold of the saloon stood a young man, who looked
searchingly around. His tall and graceful figure was clad in the
uniform of the guards, which displayed his well-knit form to great
advantage. The star on his breast, and the crape which he wore on
his arm, announced a prince of the royal house; his beautifully-
formed and handsome features wore an expression of almost effeminate
tenderness. The glance of his large blue eyes was so soft and mild,
that those who observed him long, were involuntarily touched with an
inexplicable feeling of pity for this noble-looking youth. His broad
brow showed so much spirit and determination that it was evident he
was not always gentle and yielding, but had the courage and strength
to follow his own will if necessary.
It was Prince Augustus William, the favorite of the deceased king,
on whose account the elder brother Frederick had suffered so much,
because the king had endeavored to establish the former as his
successor to the throne in the place of his first-born. [Footnote:
Dr. Fred. Busching, page 172.]
But the prince's inclinations were not in accordance with the wishes
of his father; Augustus William desired no throne, no earthly power;
in his retiring modesty he disliked all public display; the title of
royal highness had no charm for him, and with the indifference of a
true philosopher he looked down upon the splendor and magnificence
of earthly glory.
In his brother Frederick, the disdain of outward pomp might be
attributed to his superior mind and strength of understanding; while
Augustus William was actuated by a depth of feeling, a passionate
and ardent sensitiveness. He had come to pay the queen, his mother,
the customary morning visit, but when told she had desired that no
one should be admitted to her presence, he was not willing that an
exception should be made in his favor. "He had time to wait," he
said, "and should be announced and called up from the garden only
when the queen was again at leisure."
After giving this order he had gone down into the garden, where a
lover's instinct had conducted him to the conservatory, in which, to
him, the most beautiful of all flowers, the lovely Laura von
Pannewitz, reposed. He did not dream of finding her there, supposing
she had accompanied the other ladies on their drive; he had sought
this building that he might pass a few moments in undisturbed quiet-
-that he might think of her and the unrequited love which he had
vainly endeavored to tear from his heart.
It was therefore not her he sought when, on entering the
conservatory, he looked searchingly around. He only wished to know
that he was alone, that no one observed him. But suddenly he
started, and a deep red suffused his countenance. He saw the
beautiful sleeper in the arbor. In the first ecstasy of his delight
he was on the point of throwing himself at her feet, and awakening
her with his kisses. He started forward--but then hesitated, and
stood still, an expression of deep melancholy pervading his
"She will not welcome me," murmured he, "she will repel me as she
did my letter yesterday. She does not love me, and would never
forgive me if I should desecrate her pure lips with mine." He bowed
his head and sighed. "But I love her," said he, after a long pause,
"and will at least look at and adore her, as the Catholics worship
the Virgin Mary." And with a beaming smile, which illumined his
whole countenance, the prince slowly and noiselessly stepped
"Well," murmured Fritz Wendel in his hiding-place, "I have some
curiosity to know what the prince has to say to this sleeping
beauty; but, nevertheless, I would give a year of my life if I could
slip away unobserved, for if the prince discovers me here I am
He retired to that part of the grotto where the foliage was
thickest, still however securing a place from which he could observe
all that took place in the myrtle arbor.
PRINCE AUGUSTUS WILLIAM.
The prince entered the myrtle arbor, and, perceiving the lovely
sleeper, he approached her with a joyful countenance.
"Madonna, my Madonna, let me pray to you, let me look at you," he
murmured. "Listen to my pleadings, and let a ray of your love sink
into my heart." Laura moved in her sleep, and uttered a few
indistinct words. The prince kneeled motionless before her, and
watched all her movements. The dreams that visited her were not
bright; Laura moaned and sighed in her sleep; her countenance
assumed an expression so sad and painful that the eyes of the prince
filled with tears. "She is suffering," he murmured; "why should she
suffer? what is it that causes my beloved to sigh?" Suddenly she
opened her eyes, arose, and fastened her astonished and half-dreamy
gaze upon the prince, who with folded hands was still kneeling
before her, and gazing on her with tender, pleading eyes. A
trembling seized her whole being, as the ocean trembles when touched
by the first ray of the sun. A sweet, blissful astonishment was
painted on every feature. "Am I still dreaming?" she murmured,
passing her hand across her brow, and pushing aside her long dark
hair--"am I still dreaming?"
"Yes, you are dreaming," murmured Prince Augustus, seizing her hands
and pressing them to his lips, "you are dreaming, Madonna, let me
dream with you, and be forever blessed. Oh! withdraw not your hand,
be not angry, let us still dream for one blessed moment." But she
hastily set her hands free and arose from her seat; grandly and
proudly she stood before him, and her flashing eyes rested with a
severe and reproachful expression upon the still kneeling prince.
"Arise, my prince; it is not proper that the brother of the king
should kneel before me; arise, and have the kindness to inform me
what circumstances procured me the rare and unsolicited favor of
being sought by your royal highness. But no, I divine it; you owe me
no explanation; the queen has asked for me, and your highness was so
gracious as to seek for the tardy servant, who is sleeping while her
mistress calls; allow me to hasten to her." Laura, feeling her
strength failing, and suppressing with pain the tears that sprang
from her heart to her eyes, endeavored to pass the prince.
But he held her back; the timidity that had so often made him appear
shy and embarrassed had vanished; he felt that at this moment he
faced his destiny, and that his future depended upon the result of
this interview. "No," he said earnestly, "the queen did not call
you, she does not need you; remain, therefore, mademoiselle, and
grant me a few moments of your time." His solemn voice and
determined expression made her tremble, but still entranced; her
soul bowed in humility and fear before him. She had always seen him
humble and pleading, always submissive and obedient; now his glance
was commanding, his voice imperious; and she, who had been able to
withstand the entreaties of a lover, found no courage to resist the
angry and commanding man. "Remain," he repeated; "be seated, and
allow me to speak to you honestly and truly."
Laura seated herself obediently and tremblingly; the prince stood
before her, and looked at her with a sad smile.
"Yesterday you returned my letter unopened, but now you must hear
me, Laura; I wish it, and no woman can withstand the strong will of
the man who loves her."
Laura trembled and grew pale; she feared that if at this moment he
bade her forsake all, cast away, and trample under foot her honor,
her reputation, her innocence and pure conscience, she would obey
him as a true and humble slave, and follow and serve him her whole
"Yes, you shall hear me; I will know my fate--know if you really
despise my great and devoted love, if you are without pity, without
sympathy for my suffering, my struggles and despair. I should think
that true, genuine love would, like the music of Orpheus, have power
to animate stones and flowers, and my love cannot even move the
heart of a noble, feeling girl. What is the reason? why do you fly
from me? Is it, Laura, because you deem me unworthy of your love?
because your heart feels no emotion for me? are you cold and severe
because you hold me for a bold beggar, who longs for the treasure
belonging to another, whom you despise because he begs for what
should be the free gift of your heart? Or has your heart never been
touched by love? If this is so, Laura, and my love has not the power
to awaken your heart, then do not speak, but let me leave you
quietly. I will try to bear my misery or die; I shall have no one
but myself to reproach, for God has denied me the power of winning
love. But if this is not the reason of your coldness, if we are only
separated by the vain prejudices of rank and birth, O Laura, I
entreat you, if this is all that separate us, speak one single word
of comfort, of hope, one single low word, and I will conquer the
whole world, break down all prejudices and laws, and cast them from
me. I will be as great and strong as Hercules, to clear the way, and
make it smooth for our love. I will present you to the world as my
betrothed, and before God and my king call you my wife. Speak,
Laura, is it so? Do you fly from me because of this star upon my
breast--because I am called a royal prince? I implore you, tell me,
is it so? if not, if you cast me from you because you do not love
me, say nothing and I will go away for ever."
A long, painful silence ensued. The prince watched the pained,
frightened countenance of the young girl, who sat before him with
bowed head, pale and motionless.
"It is decided," he sighed, after a long pause; "farewell, I accept
my destiny, you have spoken my sentence; may your heart never accuse
you of cruelty!" He bowed low before her, then turned and walked
across the saloon.
Laura had remained motionless; she now raised her head; she followed
him with a glance that, had he seen it, would have brought him back
to her--a look that spoke more than words or protestations.
The prince had reached the door once more; he turned, their looks
met, and a trembling delight took possession of her whole being;
forgetting all danger, she longingly extended her arms toward him,
and murmured his name.
With a cry of delight he sprang to her side, and folded her with
impassioned tenderness in his arms. Laura concealed her tear-stained
face upon his breast, and murmured, "God sees my heart, He knows how
long I have prayed and struggled; may He be more merciful, more
compassionate than man! I shall be cast off, despised; let it be, I
shall think of this hour, and be happy."
"No one shall dare to insult you," he said proudly; "from this hour
you are my affianced, and some day I shall present you to the world
as my wife."
Smiling sadly, she shook her head. "Let us not speak of the future;
it may be dark and sorrowful. I will not complain, I will bear my
cross joyfully, and thank God for your love."
He kissed the tears from her eyes, and murmured sweet and holy
promises of love and faith. It was a moment of blissful joy, but
Laura suddenly trembled and raised her head from his breast to
listen. The beating of drums and quickly-rolling carriages were
heard without. "The king!" cried the young girl. "The king,"
murmured Prince Augustus, sadly, and he ventured no longer to hold
the young girl in his arms. They were both awakened from their
short, blessed dream, both were reminded of the world, and the
obstacles that lay in their path. In their great happiness they had
appeared small, but now were assuming giant-like proportions.
"I must hasten to the queen," said Laura, rising; "her majesty will
"And I must go and meet the king," sighed the prince.
"Go quickly; let us hasten, and take different paths to the castle."
He took her hand and held it to his lips. "Farewell, my beloved, my
bride; trust me, and be strong in love and hope."
"Farewell," she murmured, and endeavored to pass him.
Once more he detained her. "Shall we meet here again? will you let
me enjoy here another hour of your dear presence? Oh, bow not your
head; do not blush; your sweet confession has made of this place a
temple of love, and here I will approach you with pure and holy
thoughts." He looked long into her beautiful, blushing face.
"We will see each other here again," she murmured; "every day I
shall await you here at the same hour; now hasten, hasten."
Both left the saloon; it was again silent and deserted; in a few
moments Fritz Wendel stepped out from the grotto with glowing cheeks
and sparkling eyes.
"This is a noble secret that I have discovered--a secret that will
bring me golden fruits. Louise von Schwerin is not more widely
separated from the poor gardener, Fritz Wendel, than Mademoiselle
Pannewitz from Prince Augustus William. A gardener can rise and
become a nobleman, but Mademoiselle Pannewitz can never become a
princess, never be the wife of her lover. Louise von Schwerin shall
no longer be ashamed of the love of Fritz Wendel; I will tell her
what I have seen, I will take her into the grotto, and let her
witness the rendezvous of the prince and his beloved, and whilst he
is telling Laura of his love, I will be with my Louise."
THE KING AND THE SON.
Laura was not mistaken. It was the king whom the castle guard were
saluting with the beat of the drum. It was the king coming to pay
his first visit to his mother at Monbijou. He came unannounced, and
the perplexed, anxious looks of the cavaliers showed that his
appearance had caused more disturbance and terror than joy. With a
slight laugh he turned to his grand chamberlain, Pollnitz.
"Go tell her majesty that her son Frederick awaits her." And
followed by Kaiserling and the cavaliers of the queen, he entered
the garden saloon.
Queen Sophia Dorothea received the king's message with a proud,
beaming smile. She was not then deceived, her dearest hopes were to
be fulfilled; the young king was an obedient, submissive son; she
was for him still the reigning queen, the mother entitled to
command. The son, not the king, had come, disrobed of all show of
royalty, to wait humbly as a suppliant for her appearance. She felt
proud, triumphant! A glorious future lay before her. She would be a
queen at last--a queen not only in name, but in truth. Her son was
King of Prussia, and she would be co-regent. Her entire court should
be witness to this meeting; they should see her triumph, and spread
the news far and wide.
He came simply, without ceremony, as her son, but she would receive
him according to etiquette, as it beseemed a queen. She wore a long,
black trailing gown, a velvet ermine-bordered mantle, and caught up
the black veil that was fastened in her hair with several
brilliants. All preparations were at last finished, and the queen,
preceded by Pollnitz, arrived in the garden saloon.
Frederick, standing by the window, was beating the glass impatiently
with his long, thin fingers. He thought his mother showed but little
impatience to see her son who had hurried with all the eagerness of
childlike love to greet her. He wondered what could be her motive,
and had just surmised it as the door opened and the chamberlain
announced in a loud voice--"Her majesty, the widowed queen." A soft,
mocking smile played upon his lips for a moment, as the queen
entered in her splendid court dress, but it disappeared quickly, and
hat in hand he advanced to meet her.
Sophia Dorothea received him with a gracious smile, and gave him her
hand to kiss.
"Your majesty is welcome," said she, with a trembling voice, for it
grieved her proud heart to give her son the title of majesty. The
king, perceiving something of this, said: "Continue to call me your
son, mother, for when with your majesty I am but an obedient,
"Well, then, welcome, welcome my son!" cried the queen, with an
undisguised expression of rapture, and throwing her arms around him,
she kissed his forehead repeatedly. "Welcome to the modest house of
a poor, sorrowful widow."
"My wish, dear mother, is, that you shall not think of yourself as a
sad widow, but as the mother of a king. I do not desire you to be
continually reminded of the great loss we have all sustained, and
that God sent upon us. Your majesty is not only the widowed queen,
you belong not to the past, but to the present; and I beg that you
will be called from this moment, not the widowed queen, but the
queen-mother. Grand chamberlain Pollnitz, see that this is done."
For a moment the queen lost her proud, stately bearing; she was
deeply touched. The king's delicate attentions made her all the
mother, and for a moment love silenced all her proud, imperious
"Oh, my son, you know how to dry my tears, and to change the
sorrowing widow into a proud, happy mother," said she, pressing his
hand tenderly to her heart.
The king was so overjoyed at his mother's unfeigned tenderness that
he was prepared to agree to all her demands, and humor her in every
"Ah," said he, "I, not you, ought to render thanks that you are so
willing to enter into my views. I will put your magnanimity still
further to the test, and state a few more of my wishes."
"Let us hear them, my son," said the queen, "but first let me ask a
"Let us be seated."
The king led her to an arm-chair near a window, from which there was
a beautiful view of the garden. The queen seated herself, and the
young king remained standing in front of her, still holding his hat.
Sophia Dorothea saw this, and was enraptured at this new triumph.
Turning to the king, she said:
"Let us now hear your wishes, and I promise joyfully to fulfil
"I wish," said he, "your majesty to surround herself with a larger
and more brilliant court. Two maids of honor are not sufficient for
the queen-mother, for if by chance one were sick, and the other
fretful, there would be no one to divert and amuse your majesty. I
therefore propose that you have six instead of two maids of honor."
The queen looked at him in tender astonishment.
"My son," said she, "you are a veritable magician. You divine all my
wishes. Thanks--many, many thanks. But your majesty is not seated,"
said she, as if just perceiving this.
"Madame," said he, laughing, "I awaited your permission." He seated
himself, and said, "You agree to my proposal, mother?"
"I agree to it, and beg your majesty to point out to me the ladies
you have decided upon as my six maids of honor. Your majesty has
free choice, and all I wish is, to be told when you have decided. I
only fear," said the queen, "that with my enlarged court there will
not be room for the ladies to have their separate apartments at
"Your majesty is no longer to live in this house," said the king;
"it is large enough for a passing summer visit, but it does not
answer for the residence of the queen-mother. I spoke some time
since to Knobelsdorf, and already a magnificent palace is being
built for you."
The queen blushed with pleasure; all her wishes seemed to be
fulfilled to-day. She must know whether Sophia Dorothea was to be
queen-regent as well as queen-mother. She thanked her son tenderly
for this new proof of his love and kindness.
"And still," said she, sighing, "perhaps I ought not to accept of
your kindness. My husband's death should remind me of the transitory
nature of life, and should lead me to pass the remainder of my days
in seclusion, devoting my time to God."
The king looked so anxious, so shocked, that the queen repented
having given the conversation this gloomy turn.
"It is cruel, mother," said he, "not to let me enjoy the pleasure of
being with you without a drop of wormwood. But I see by your rosy
cheeks and bright smile that you only wished to frighten me. Let the
architects and masons continue their work: God will be merciful to
me, and grant a long life to the noblest and best-beloved of
He kissed her hand and rose; Sophia Dorothea was terrified. The king
was leaving, and she still did not know how far her influence was to
reach and what were to be its limits.
"You will already leave me, my son?" said she, lovingly.
"I must, your majesty. For from here I can hear the Government
machinery creaking and groaning; I must hasten to supply it with
oil, and set it in motion again. Ah! madame, it is no easy task to
be a king. To do justice to all his obligations, a king must rise
early and retire late; and I think truly it is much more pleasant to
be reigned over than to reign."
The queen could scarcely suppress her delight; the king's words were
balm to her ambitious heart.
"I can well see that it is as you say," said she, "but I think that
the king has a right to amuse himself; I think that a mother has
some claims on her son, even if he is a king. You must not leave
now, my son. You must grant me the pleasure of showing you my new
conservatory. Give me your arm, and comply with my request."
"Madame, you now see what power you have over me," said he, as she
laughingly took his arm. "I forget that I am the servant of my
country, because I prefer being the servant of my queen."
The large glass door was opened, and, leaning on the king's arm, the
queen entered the garden.
At some distance the princesses with their brother and the rest of
the court followed. They were all silent, eagerly listening to the
conversation of the royal couple. But the queen did not now care to
be heard by her court. They had seen her triumph, but they should
not be witness to a possible defeat. She now spoke in a low tone,
and hurried her steps, to put a distance between herself and the
courtiers. She spoke with the king about the garden, and then asked
if he thought of passing the summer at Rheinsberg.
"Alas," said he, "I will not have the time. For a king is but the
first officer of his State, and as I receive my salary I must
honestly fulfil the duties I have undertaken."
"But I think your majesty does too much," said the queen. "You
should allow yourself more relaxation, and not let State matters
rest entirely upon your own shoulders. To one who is accustomed to
associate with poets, artists, and the sciences, it must be very
hard suddenly to bury himself in deeds, documents, and all sorts of
dusty papers; you should leave this occasionally to others, and not
work the State machinery yourself."
"Madame," said the king, "this machine has secrets and peculiarities
that its architect can intrust to no workman, therefore he must lead
and govern it himself; and if at times the wheels creak and it is
not in perfect order, he has only himself to thank."
"But you have your ministers?"
"They are my clerks--nothing more!"
"Ah, I see, you intend to be a rock and take counsel from no one,"
said the queen, impatiently.
"Yes, your majesty, from you always; and with your gracious
permission I will now consult you."
"Speak, my son, speak," said the queen, in breathless expectation.
"I wish your advice upon theatrical matters. Where must the new
opera-house be built?"
The queen's face darkened.
"I am not a suitable adviser for amusements," said she, pointing to
her black gown. "My mourning garments do not fit me for such
employment, and you well know I do not care for the theatre; for how
many cold, dull evenings have I passed there with your father!"
"Ah, madame," said the king, "I was not talking of a German theatre,
which I dislike quite as much as yourself. No, we will have a French
theatre and an Italian opera. The French alone can act and only the
Italians can sing, but we Germans can play; I have therefore charged
Graun to compose a new opera for the inauguration of the new opera-
"And undoubtedly this inauguration will take place on a festive
occasion," said the queen, going directly to the point. "Perhaps at
the wedding of one of your sisters?"
"Ah," said he, "your majesty is thinking of a wedding?"
"Not I, but others. Yesterday I received from London a letter from
my royal brother. And a few moments ago Count Manteuffel brought me
letters of condolence from the Empress of Austria. It seems the
count was, besides this, commissioned to sound me as to a possible
marriage with Prince Augustus."
"It is very unnecessary for the count to burden you with matters
which are happily beyond the reach of your motherly duties. For,
alas! the marrying of princes is a political affair, and is not
determined by the mother's heart, but by the necessities of the
The queen bit her lip until it bled. "Your majesty is, undoubtedly,
thinking of performing this political obligation, and have chosen a
bride for the prince," said she, sharply.
"Forgive me," said the king laughing, "I am not now thinking of
marrying, but of unmarrying."
Sophia Dorothea looked anxiously at the king. "How, my son, are you
thinking of a divorce?" said she, tremblingly.
"Not of one, but of many, mother. Does your majesty know that I have
abolished the torture?"
"No," said the queen impatiently, "I did not--politics do not
"That is in conformity with the true womanly character of my
mother," said he. "There is nothing so insipid and tiresome as a
woman who gives up the graces and muses to excite herself with
"And still your majesty was just initiating me into politics."
"Ah, yes, I told you I had abolished the torture."
"And I ask, how does that concern me?"
"You ask why I am thinking of divorces? Well, I told you that I had
abolished the torture, and in doing this it was but natural that I
busied myself about marriage. For your majesty will grant me that
there is no severer rack, no more frightful torture, than an unhappy
"It seems as if with the torture you will also abolish marriage,"
said the queen, terrified.
The king laughed. "Ah, no, madame, I am not pope, and have not
received the right from God to decide over men's consciences, though
perhaps the majority would be inclined to call me holy, and to honor
me with godlike worship, if I would really abolish the torture of
matrimony. But I am not ambitious, and renounce all claim to
adoration. But while engaged in abolishing the torture, I could but
see that when the marriage chains had ceased to be garlands of
roses, and were transformed into heavy links of iron, there should
be some means found to break them. I have therefore commanded that
if two married people cannot live harmoniously, a divorce shall not
be denied them. I hope that my royal mother agrees with me."
"Ah, there will soon be many divorce cases," said the queen, with a
contemptuous smile. "All who are not thoroughly happy will hasten to
the king for a divorce. Who knows but that the king himself will set
the people a good example?"
"With God's help, madame," said the king, gravely. "My noble mother
will always wish me to set my people a good example. A king is but
the servant of a nation."
"That is, indeed, an humble idea of a king, a king by the grace of
"Madame, I do not crave to be called a king by the grace of God. I
prefer being king by my own right and strength. But forgive me,
mother. You see how these politics mix themselves up with every
thing. Let them rest. You were speaking, I think, of the marriage of
one of the princes?"
"We were speaking of the marriage of Prince Augustus William," said
the queen, who, with the obstinacy of a true woman, always returned
to the point from which she had started, and who, in the desire of
gaining her point, had lost all consideration and presence of mind.
"I was telling you that I received yesterday a letter from my royal
brother, and that King George the Second is anxious to form an
alliance between our children."
"Another marriage with England!" said the king, dejectedly. "You
know there is no good luck in our English marriages. The courier who
brings the English consent is always too late."
The queen was enraged. "You mean that you have decided upon a bride
for my son, that again my darling wish of intermarrying my children
with the royal house of England is not to be realized? Ah, your
father's example must have been very satisfactory to you, as you
follow so quickly in his footsteps."
"I truly find, madame, that the king acted wisely in not regarding
in the marriage of the prince royal the wishes of his heart and his
family, but political interests, which he was bound to consider. I
will certainly follow his example, and take counsel over the
marriage of the prince royal, not with my own heart, not even with
the wishes of my royal mother, but with the interests of Prussia."
"But Augustus William is not prince royal," cried the queen, with
trembling lips. "The prince is only your brother, and you may have
many sons who will dispute with him the succession to the throne."
An expression of deep sorrow lay like a dark veil upon the handsome
face of the king. "I will have no children," said he, "and Prince
Augustus William will be my successor."
The queen had not the heart to reply. She looked at her son in
amazement. Their eyes met, and the sad though sweet expression of
the usually clear, sparkling eyes of her son touched her, and awoke
the mother's heart. With a hasty movement she took his hands,
pressed them to her heart, and said: "Ah, my son, how poor is this
life! You are young, handsome, and highly gifted, you are a king,
and still you are not happy."
The king's face was brighter, his eyes sparkled as before.
"Life," said he, smiling, "is not a pleasure, but a duty, and if we
honestly perform this duty we will be happy in the end. It is now
time to return to my prison and be king once more,"
He embraced his mother tenderly, laughed and jested for a few
moments with his sisters Ulrica and Amelia, then left, followed by
his cavaliers. Sophia Dorothea remained in the garden, and Ulrica,
her favorite daughter, followed her.
"Your majesty looks sad and grave," said she, "and you have every
reason to look happy. The king was remarkably kind and amiable. Only
think of it, you will have six maids of honor, and a beautiful
palace is being built for you!"
"Oh, yes," said the queen, "I will be surrounded with outward
"And how anxious the king seemed for you to forget the past!" said
Princess Amelia, who, with Prince Augustus William, had joined her
mother and sister, "you are not the widowed queen but the queen-
"Yes," murmured Sophia Dorothea to herself, "I am queen-mother, but
I will never be queen-regent. Ah, my children," cried she,
passionately, "the king, your brother, was right. Princes are not
born to be happy. He is not so, and you will never be!"
THE QUEEN'S TAILOR.
A dreary silence had reigned for some time in the usually gay and
happy family circle of the worthy court tailor. No one dared to
speak or laugh aloud. M. Pricker, the crown and head of the house,
was sad and anxious, and the storm-cloud upon his brow threw a dark
reflection upon the faces of his wife and two children, the
beautiful Anna, and the active, merry Wilhelm, Even the assistants
in the work-room were affected by the general gloom; the gay songs
of the apprentices were silenced, and the pretty house-maids looked
discontented and dull.
A tempest lowered over the house, and all appeared to tremble at its
approach. When Wilhelm, the son and heir of the house, returned from
his work, he hastened to his mother's room, and casting a curious
glance upon the old woman, who was seated on a sofa, grim-looking,
and supporting her head upon her hand, he said, mysteriously--
Mother Pricker shook her head, sighed deeply, and replied:
The beautiful Anna was generally in her elegant room, painting or
singing, and did not allow herself to be disturbed; but now when the
bell rang, or a strange step was heard, she hastened to her mother,
"Well, has it come?"
Again Mother Pricker sighed, shook her head, and answered--
M. Pricker asked nothing, demanded nothing; silent and proud he sat
in the midst of his family circle; stoically listened to the ringing
of the bell, and saw strangers enter his counting-room, too proud to
show any excitement. He wrapped himself in an Olympian silence, and
barricaded himself from the curious questions of his children by the
stern reserve of parental authority.
"I see that he suffers," said his wife to her daughter Anna; "I see
that he looks paler every day, and eats less and less; if this
painful anxiety endures much longer, the poor man will become
dangerously ill, and the king will be answerable for the death of
one of his noblest and best subjects."
"But why does our father attach such importance to this small
affair?" said Anna, with a lofty shrug of her shoulders.
Mother Pricker looked at her with astonishment.
"You call this a small affair, which concerns not only the honor of
your father, but that of your whole family; which affects the
position and calling enjoyed by the Pricker family for a hundred
years? It is a question whether your father shall be unjustly
deprived of his honorable place, or have justice done him, and his
great services acknowledged!"
Anna gave a hearty laugh.
"Dear mother, you look at this thing too tragically; you are making
a camel of a gnat. The great and exalted things of which you speak
have nothing to do with the matter; it is a simple question of
title. The great point is, will our father receive the title of
'court tailor' to the reigning queen, or be only the tailor of the
queen-dowager. It seems to me the difference is very small, and I
cannot imagine why so much importance is attached to it."
"You do not understand," sighed Mother Pricker; "you do not love
your family; you care nothing for the honor of your house!"
"Pshaw! to be the daughter of a tailor is a very poor and doubtful
honor," said Anna, drearily, "even if he is the tailor of one or
even two queens. Our father is rich enough to live without this
contemptible business; yes, to live in style. He has given his
children such an education as nobles only receive; I have had my
governess and my music-teacher; my brother his tutor; my father has
not allowed him to walk through the streets, fearing that he might
fall into the hands of the recruiting-officers. We have each our
private rooms, beautifully furnished, and are the envy of all our
friends. Why, notwithstanding all this, will he condemn us to be and
to continue to be the children of a tailor? Why does he not tear
down the sign from the door; this sign, which will be ever a
humiliation, even though 'court tailor' should be written upon it!
This title will never enable us to appear at court, and the noble
cavaliers will never think of marrying the daughter of a tailor,
though many would seek to do so if our father would give up his
needlework, buy a country seat, and live, as rich and distinguished
men do, upon his estate."
"Child, child, what are you saying?" cried Mother Pricker, clasping
her hands with anguish. "Thy father give up his stand, his honorable
stand, which, for more than a hundred years, has been inherited by
the family! Thy father demean himself to buy with his honorably-
earned gold a son-in-law from amongst the poor nobles, who will be
ever thinking of the honor done us in accepting thee and thy sixty
thousand dollars! Thy father buy a country-seat, and spend in
idleness that fortune which his forefathers and himself have been
collecting for hundreds of years! That can never be, and never will
your father consent to your marriage with any other man than an
honest burgher; and he will never allow Wilhelm to have any other
calling than that of his father, his grandfather, and his great-
grandfather, a court tailor."
The beautiful Anna stamped involuntarily upon the floor, and a flush
of scorn spread itself over her soft cheek. "I will not wed a
burgher," said she, tossing her head proudly back, "and my brother
Wilhelm will never carry on the business of his father."
"Then your father will disinherit you--cast you out amongst
strangers to beg your bread," said the old woman, wringing her
"God be thanked," said Anna proudly, "there is no necessity for
begging our bread; we have learned enough to carry us honorably
through the world, and when all else fails, I have a capital in my
voice which assures me a glittering future. The king will found an
opera-house, and splendid singers are so rare that Prussia will
thank God if I allow myself to be prevailed upon to take the place
of prima donna."
"Oh! unhappy, wretched child!" sobbed Mother Pricker, "you will
dishonor your family, you will make us miserable, and cover us with
shame; you will become an actress, and we must live to see our
respectable, yes, celebrated name upon a play-bill, and pasted upon
"You will have the honor of hearing all the world speak of your
daughter, of seeing sweet flowers and wreaths thrown before her
whenever she appears, and of seeing her praises in every number of
every journal in Berlin. I shall be exalted to the skies, and the
parents called blessed who have given me life."
"These are the NEW ideas," gasped out her mother--"the new ideas
which are now the mode, and which our new king favors. Alas! wailing
and sorrow will come over our whole city; honor and principle will
disappear, and destruction like that of Sodom and Gomorrah will fall
upon Berlin! These are the alluring temptations with which Baron
Pollnitz fills your ear and crushes in your heart the worthy and
seemly principles of your family. That,"--suddenly she stopped and
listened; it seemed to her the bell rung; truly there was a step
upon the stairs, and some one asked for M. and Madame Pricker.
"Pollnitz," whispered Anna, and a glowing blush overspread her face,
throat, and neck.
"The Baron Pollnitz, the master of ceremonies," said Madame Pricker,
with a mixture of joy and alarm.
The door flew open, and with a gay, frolicsome greeting, Pollnitz
danced into the room; Anna had turned to the window, and made no
reply to his greeting. Madame Pricker stepped toward him, and
greeted him with the most profound reverence, calling him master of
ceremonies and master of the bed-chamber.
"Not so," said Pollnitz; "why so much reverence and so many titles?
I am indeed master of ceremonies, but without the title. His
majesty, the young king, has no special fondness for renewing the
titles lent to us by his blessed father, and every prayer and every
representation to that effect has been in vain; he considers titles
ridiculous and superfluous."
Madame Pricker turned pale, and murmured some incomprehensible
words. Anna, however, who had up to this time been turned toward the
window, suddenly looked at the two speakers, and fixed her great
eyes questioningly upon the baron.
"Ah, at last I have the honor to see you, fair, beautiful Anna!"
said Pollnitz; "I knew well some magic was necessary to fix those
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