The Merchant of Berlin
Part 2 out of 7
who had preferred working in the factory, and not losing their time,
to the enjoyment of the day's festival, and to whom Gotzkowsky had
ordered double wages to be paid, that they might not lose their share
in the celebration of his daughter's birthday.
"The Russians are at the gates!" cried they. "All the citizens are
arming themselves. We have no arms. Give us arms, master!"
The cry was taken up by those who had just been listening to
Pfannenstiel's words. "Yes, give us arms, give us arms. We are no
cowards, we will fight!" Gotzkowsky's flashing eye flew across the
multitude, and he saw in the earnest countenances of the men that they
were serious in their demand, and in their desire to fight. "Well,
then, if you will fight, you shall not want for weapons," cried he,
joyfully. "I have, as you know, in my house, a collection of costly
arms. Follow me, my children; we will go to the armory, and each one
shall take what he likes best. On such a day as this, arms do not
belong to any one in particular, but are the property of him who can
find and make use of them. That is the sacred right of manhood. The
country is in danger! Come to my armory and arm yourselves!"
The men shouted for joy at Gotzkowsky's words, and pushed after him
with wild impetuosity into the house, and the large hall, in which
the costly weapons were tastefully grouped and ornamentally arranged
against the walls. With eager haste the men possessed themselves
of these arms, and Gotzkowsky saw with glad pride his rare Damascus
blades, his delicately carved silver-mounted pistols, his daggers
inlaid with gold, his costly ornamented sabres and guns in the hands
of his warlike workmen. He then armed himself, and his men, always
accustomed to look upon him cheerfully and willingly as their leader,
fell into line behind him in a long military procession.
"Now, then, my children," cried he, "let us go to the town-hall and
offer our services to the magistrates."
And at the head of his workmen he left the house. Soon deep silence
reigned in these rooms, so lately filled with noise and tumult.
The garden, too, had become deserted and empty. Pfannenstiel alone
remained in his elevated position, gazing pensively, as in a dream, on
his collection of pictures.
After this silence had lasted some time, Krause and Kretschmer crept,
cautiously looking around them, out of the summer-house in which they
had secreted themselves up to this moment. Their countenances were
pale and angry.
"Gotzkowsky is a puffed-up fool," exclaimed Krause, with a dark frown.
"With his swaggering phrases he has seduced these workmen away from
us, to rush into the fight like wounded wild boars, and to bring the
Russians down upon us."
"We must not give up all hope," said Kretschmer; "the people are timid
and fickle, and whoever will give them the sweetest words wins them
over to his side. Come, let us try our luck elsewhere. Every thing
depends upon our being beforehand with this braggart Gotzkowsky, and
getting first the ear of the people. You, Pfannenstiel, come with us,
and get up your words strong and spirited, so that the stupid people
may believe you."
Pfannenstiel clapped up his picture-book, and threw his cloak with
majestic dignity over his lean shoulders. "The people are like a flock
of sheep," said he; "they want a leader, never mind who. Only the
leader must be there at the right hour; and if God has bestowed upon
him the gift of eloquence, he can lead them either into the church to
contrite prayer, or to the slaughterfield to bloody combat. The people
are a flock of sheep, nothing more!"
"Come, then," cried Kretschmer pathetically; "come and be their
bellwether, and lead the people into the church."
* * * * *
THE RUSSIAN IS AT THE GATES.
In a few minutes quiet, peaceful, industrious Berlin was transformed
into an open encampment. From all the streets there poured throngs
of armed men toward the town-hall, where the wise magistrates were
consulting on the possibility of resistance, or toward the commander
of Berlin, General Rochow, who had the streets patrolled, and called
upon the citizens, by beat of drum, to assemble with arms, and assist
in the defence of the town.
"The Russian is at the gates!" This cry of terror seemed to cure the
sick and feeble, and give courage and strength to the wavering. The
old national hatred of the German toward the Russian broke out in its
entire vigor; and vehemence made even the faint-hearted fly to arms,
and caused words of imprecation to rise to the lips of those who were
in the habit of uttering prayers and timid complaints.
The council of war was assembled at the commander's office, and,
strange to say, it consisted of only old men and invalids. There were
present the infirm veteran general and commander, Rochow, and the
eighty-year-old Field-Marshal Lehwald, the severely-wounded General
Seidlitz, and General Knoblauch, also wounded. These four composed the
whole council, and fully aware of the danger and of the smallness of
their forces, were debating whether they should yield to the demand of
the Russian troops, and give up the town without any defence, or,
with twelve hundred garrison troops, two rusty cannon, a few thousand
wounded soldiers, and an inefficient body of citizens, give battle to
the twelve thousand irregular troops of General Tottleben, who would
soon he reenforced by the army of General Tschernitscheff, twenty
thousand strong, and fourteen thousand Austrians under Count Lacy,
who, as they well knew, were coming on by forced marches. But so great
was the heroic exasperation and eagerness for the fight of these noble
and war-worn veterans, that not one of them advised submission; but,
on the contrary, they unanimously determined to defend Berlin as long
as a drop of blood flowed in their veins. As these brave generals had
no army to lead into the fight, they would defend the town, not as
commanders of high rank, but as fighting soldiers, and waiving their
military rank and dignity to their noble love of country, like other
soldiers, they would each one defend his intrenchment or redoubt.
But while the military commanders were adopting these heroic
resolutions, the Town Council was engaged in secret session at the
town-hall. The wise fathers were staring at each other with terror
in their countenances, and considering, in pusillanimous
faint-heartedness, whether they would really assume the heavy
responsibility of engaging the peaceful citizens in a fight, which,
after all, would be, in all probability, useless and without result.
"I vote for submission," stammered out the chief burgomaster, Herr von
Kircheisen, with heavy tongue, as he wiped off the big drops of sweat
which stood upon his brow with his silk handkerchief. "I vote for
submission. The honorable citizens of this town are not called on to
spill their blood in useless fighting, nor to irritate the wrath of
the enemy by resistance. And besides, the enemy will doubtless lay a
war tax on us, and this will certainly be lighter if we submit at
once than if we resist. Further, it is the sacred duty of a prudent
magistrate to protect and preserve, to the best of his ability, the
property of the citizens. It is therefore my opinion that, in order
to save the hard-earned possessions of the poor citizens of Berlin,
already sufficiently oppressed, we submit at once to an overwhelming
By the brightening countenances of the worthy councilmen it could be
plainly perceived that the eloquence of the chief burgomaster had
told powerfully upon them, and that the question of money which he
had raised would prove a powerful and decisive argument in favor of
submission at this momentous period.
The assistant burgomaster had already expressed his entire concurrence
in the views of Herr von Kircheisen, and the first alderman was in
the act of opening his mouth to do the same, when the patriotic
deliberations of the worthy gentlemen were interrupted by shouts and
cries from the street below, which drove them in terror from their
seats. They hastened to the windows, and, carefully concealed behind
the curtains, ventured to peep down into the street.
Down there they beheld a much more lively sight--men and youths, old
men and boys streamed toward the town-hall, and, raising their eyes
and arms to the windows, demanded from the city fathers, with genuine
enthusiasm, weapons and ammunition. Perhaps, indeed, it was only fear
which had suddenly made these peaceful citizens of Berlin so bold and
lion-hearted: one thing is certain, that is, that at this moment they
were all animated by one sentiment, one impulse, and that their deadly
hatred against Russian and Austrian tendered peaceable submission
impossible. The tailor threw away his needle and grasped the sword,
the shoemaker exchanged his awl for a dagger, and all these quiet,
humble citizens had been transformed by hatred and fear, anger and
terror, into most belligerent heroes.
"Give us arms!" was the reiterated cry.
An heroic tailor climbed up on the shoulders of a hunchback shoemaker,
and sawing the air violently with his arms, cried out: "The people of
Berlin demand their rights; they will fight for their liberty. Give
the people of Berlin their due. Give them arms--arms!"
"Arms!" roared the crowd. "We will have arms!"
"And what do you want with arms?" cried suddenly a shrill, piercing
voice. All eyes were turned toward the spot whence the voice
proceeded, and there was seen the meagre figure of the linen-weaver,
who had leaped upon a bench, and from his elevated position was
looking down upon the people with the confident air of a conqueror.
But Pfannenstiel observed, to his dismay, that this time his
appearance did not produce the desired effect; on the contrary, angry
looks were cast upon him, and occasionally a threatening fist was
raised against the divinely-inspired prophet.
"What do you want with arms?" cried he once more. "Prayer is the only
weapon becoming peaceful citizens."
A burst of scornful laughter was the answer. "Down with the
linen-weaver! Tear him to pieces!" roared the crowd, becoming
"We mean to fight, and not to pray," cried the valorous tailor.
"We want none of your poltroonery, you blackguard of a linen-weaver!"
"The tailor is right! Pfannenstiel is a false prophet!" cried another
"He wants to make cowards of us!"
The crowd raged still more furiously, and pressed toward the spot
where Pfannenstiel stood. Threatening hands were raised against him,
and the situation of the prophet of peace began to be uncomfortable
enough, when suddenly two new figures rose near him, and, by their
unexpected appearance, restrained for a moment the wrath of the
* * * * *
These two men, who so unexpectedly appeared at the side of the
prophetic weaver, were none else than the two editors, Kretschmer and
Krause, who came to support him in his exhortations in favor of peace,
and to use their eloquence on the multitude assembled in front of the
Mr. Krause opened: "Listen to me, good citizens of Berlin; look at
my gray hairs. Age has the advantage, if not of wisdom, at least of
experience. Listen to my advice. You who wish to fight for liberty, be
at least prudent and moderate."
"None of your moderation!" cried the tailor. "We won't be moderate!"
"But you will be reasonable and prudent, won't you?" cried Mr.
Kretschmer, with his clear, penetrating voice, raising himself on
tiptoe, and casting his large, light-blue eyes over the crowd. "You
will be reasonable, certainly, and in reason you can tell me what you
wish, and we can deliberate, and decide whether that which you wish,
"We want arms."
"But why do you want arms?"
"To fight the enemy," cried the shoemaker, whom the crowd seemed
tacitly to recognize as their mouthpiece.
"You really wish, then, to fight?" asked Mr. Kretschmer. "You wish
to precipitate yourselves into a fight, with the certainty of being
defeated. You wish to put yourselves in opposition to an enemy who
out-numbers you ten times; who, with sneering pride, will drive your
little band of warriors, with his cannon, to destruction! Consider
what you are about to do! Twelve thousand Russians are now before
your gates; their cannon pointed against your walls, your houses, your
churches, and they are awaiting only an opportunity of springing upon
you like a tiger on his prey. And what have we to oppose them? Our
little garrison consists of invalids and wounded men; for our young
men, able to fight, are all with the king on the bloody fields of
Silesia, and only a small band of worthy citizens remains here. Can
they fight against an overwhelming enemy, ten times their number? Can
they wish to do it?"
No one answered this question. The countenances became thoughtful, and
the redness of anger grew paler on their cheeks.
"Yes," cried one of the people, "we are very weak."
"We cannot think of gaining a victory," grumbled out another.
Mr. Kretschmer perceived, by the darkening faces and downcast look of
his audience, that the prudence he was preaching had already commenced
to press the courage of the poor people into the background, and
raising his voice still higher he continued:
"Your fighting will be a species of suicide. Your wives and children
will curse you for having killed their husbands and fathers. Worthy
citizens! be prudent, and remember that work and not war is your
calling. Go home, then, and mind your business; take care of your
wives and children, and bow your heads in humbleness, for necessity
will teach you prudence."
Mr. Kretschmer stopped, and the silent assembly seemed to be
considering whether they should listen to his prudent advice. Even
the heroic tailor had climbed down from the hump of the shoemaker, and
remained thoughtful and silent.
"The man is right," cried the shoemaker, in his grumbling, bass voice.
"Yes, indeed," said his gossip, the glover; "why should we sacrifice
our legs and arms? We can't beat them anyhow."
"Now, my friends," whispered Kretschmer to his associates, "now is
your turn to speak. My breath is exhausted. You speak now and finish
the good work I commenced. Admonish the people to be moderate."
"I will make them perfectly enthusiastic in the cause of peace
and quiet," said Mr. Krause, in a low voice. "You shall see how
irresistible the stream of my eloquence will be," and striding forward
with pathetic mien, and raising both arms as if to implore the people,
he exclaimed in a loud voice: "You say so, and it is so! We cannot be
victorious. Now, my opinion is, that as we cannot beat the enemy, we
ought not to fight him, and in that way we can cheat him out of his
victory. For where there is no fight, there can be no victory. Resist
the armed bands with the quiet obstacle of mental fortitude. Do not
act, but submit. Submit with a defiant air. Do not use your weapons,
but do not yield them up to the enemy. Keep your hands on the hilts
of your swords, and be quiet. When they mock and abuse you, be silent;
but let them read your defiance in your countenances; when they press
upon you with sword and cannon, retire with a proud smile, and do not
defend yourselves, and we will see whether they are brutal enough to
attack peaceful non-combatants. Act in this way, and the moral victory
is yours, and you then will have conquered the enemy by your moral
greatness, even if you are physically subdued. Against cannon
and bayonets a people cannot defend themselves except by passive
resistance, by submission, with secret and silent hatred in their
hearts. Use no other weapons than this passive resistance, and
posterity will praise you, and say of you, with admiration, that
you were no heroes of fight, but heroes of passive resistance. Your
country will be proud of you!"
Mr. Krause paused, and leaned, worn out, on the shoulder of the
"You may be in the right," said the tailor, still rebellious at heart;
"all that sounds right and reasonable, but still it don't suit me,
and I don't see how the country can be proud of us, if we behave like
cowards, and let ourselves be bamboozled this way."
"Do you hush, tailor!" cried the hunchbacked shoemaker. "The chap
thinks because he can manage a sharp needle, he must be able to yield
a broadsword; but let me tell you, my brave boy, that a stick with a
sword hurts worse than a prick with a needle. It is not only written,
'Shoemaker, stick to your last,' but also, 'Tailor, stick to your
needle.' Are we soldiers, that we must fight? No, we are respectable
citizens, tailors and shoemakers, and the whole concern is no business
of ours. And who is going to pay us for our legs and arms when they
have been cut off?"
"Nobody, nobody is going to do it!" cried a voice from the crowd.
"And who is going to take care of our wives and children when we are
crippled, and can't earn bread for them? Perhaps they are going to
put us in the new almshouse, which has just been built outside of the
King's Gate, and which they call the Oxen-head."
"No, no, we won't go into the Oxen-head!" screamed the people. "We
won't fight! let us go home."
"Yes, go home, go home!" cried Krause and Kretschmer, delighted, and
Pfannenstiel repeated after them--
"Let us go home!"
And indeed the groups began to separate and thin out; and the two
editors, who had descended from their bench, mixed with the crowd, and
enforced their peaceful arguments with zealous eloquence.
But it seemed as if Fortune did not favor them, for now down the
neighboring street came Gotzkowsky with his band of armed workmen. He
drew them up in front of the town-hall. The sight of this bold
company of daring men, with determined countenances and flashing
eyes, exercised a magical influence on the people; and when Gotzkowsky
addressed them, and with overpowering eloquence and burning words
implored them to resist, when with noble enthusiasm he summoned them
to do their duty, and to remember their honors as men, the versatile
crowd began again to cry out--"Arms, arms! give us arms!"
But the humpbacked shoemaker still remained cowed and timid, and the
threatenings of the preachers of peace still sounded in his ears.
He threw up his arms and cried out: "Children, remember what the
gentlemen told us. Have nothing to do with fighting. Be wise and
"The devil take your prudence!" cried Gotzkowsky. In an hour like this
we have no need of prudence; we want courage! Won't you fight?"
"No, we won't!" cried the shoemaker, resolutely. "We want to keep our
arms and legs."
"We don't want to go to the Oxen-head!" exclaimed another.
Gotzkowsky broke out impetuously: "Are you men, who dare to talk in
this way? You are afraid of losing your limbs, and you are not afraid
of losing, by your cowardice, your most valuable possessions, your
liberty and your honor. Even if you do crawl through our streets as
cripples, your wives and children will point to you with pride, and
men will whisper to each other, 'He too was one of the heroes
who fought for liberty, one of the brave men who, when Berlin was
besieged, met the enemy, and fought bravely for our rights.'"
"That's fine," cried the tailor, carried away by Gotzkowsky's fiery
words. "Yes, let us be heroes, let us fight!"
At the windows of the town-hall above, hid behind the curtains, the
wise members of the city Council still stood and listened with anxious
hearts to what was going on below. The countenance of the chief
burgomaster became ashy pale, and drops of cold sweat stood on his
brow. "This Gotzkowsky will ruin us all," sighed he heavily. "He does
not think what he is doing. His foolhardiness will compel us all to
be brave. But we will have to pay for our liberty, not only with our
blood, but with our fortunes. And this man, who calculates so badly,
pretends to be a merchant! But we must yield to this rash mob, for to
oppose an excited people might bring even the honorable Council into
danger. Good Heavens!" cried he, interrupting himself, "what is this
To the sound of martial music, there was seen coming down the street a
band of scar-covered veterans, the invalids of the first years of the
war. Some limped, others carried their arms in slings, others again
had their heads bound up; but one could perceive, by their serious,
determined faces, that they were animated by a high and cheerful
courage, which placed them above physical suffering. In their midst,
on a litter, was borne the brave General von Seidlitz, whose wounds,
received in the battle of Kunersdorf, had not yet healed; but the
danger which threatened Berlin had roused him from a bed of suffering,
and, as he could not walk, he had himself carried to the battery at
the Kottbuss Gate, the defence of which he had undertaken.
As the hero turned to the people with a friendly greeting, and
exhorted them to courage, with short and appropriate words, there
sounded from a thousand voices an enthusiastic "Hurrah!" The people
waved their hats, and cried loudly and tumultuously up at the windows
of the Council, "Give us arms--arms!"
At the window above stood the chief burgomaster, with trembling limbs
and livid face. "It is decided," said he, softly; "the people of
Berlin are determined to die as heroes, or purchase their liberty with
all the wealth of the town," and, with a weak cry of grief, he sank
fainting into the arms of the head alderman.
The assistant burgomaster opened the window and cried out: "You shall
have arms. We will defend Berlin with our last breath, and to the last
drop of our blood!"
* * * * *
THE NIGHT OF HORRORS.
Thus, once more, had the impetuous boldness of the patriots carried
the day against braggart cowardice. The Council, yielding to
necessity, had resolved to be brave. The chief burgomaster, who had
revived, donned his robe of office, adorned himself with his golden
chain, and followed by the councillors, proceeded to Commander Rochow,
to ask for arms for the citizens of Berlin. This petition was readily
granted; the armory was thrown open, and there were seen, not only
men and youths, old men and boys, but even women and girls, arming
themselves for the sacred fight for fatherland and freedom. As if on
a pilgrimage, the people proceeded to the armory in a long, solemn
procession, silent and devout, a noble determination, a brave and
cheerful but subdued expression observable in every face. No loud
cries, not a rude word, nor boisterous laughter was heard from this
crowd. Each one spoke in low and earnest tones to his neighbor; every
one was conscious of the deep significance of the hour, and feared to
interrupt the religious service of the country by a word spoken too
loud. In silent devotion they crossed the threshold of the armory,
with light and measured steps the crowd circulated through the rooms,
and with solemn calmness and a silent prayer in their hearts, the
people received from the hands of the veteran soldiers the weapons for
the defence of their country. And the flags which hung around on the
walls as shining mementoes of former victories, seemed to greet the
people as patriots who were arming themselves for the holy fight
against the enemy of their country, the destroyer of liberty.
For it was no longer a fight for Silesia, a strip of territory, which
was to be fought, but a struggle between intellect and brute power,
between civilization and barbarism, the inevitable companion of the
Russian hordes. Prussia represented Germany, and on her waving banner
she bore the civilization, refinement, science, and poetry of Germany.
Her opponent was no longer the German brother, sprung from the same
stock; it was the Austrian, who had called in the assistance of
foreign barbarians, and who was fighting the Germans, the Prussians,
with the help of the Russians. For that reason, the hatred against
the Austrian was among the Prussian troops much more bitter and bloody
than the hatred and abhorrence of the Russians, the sworn enemy of
the German; and when, therefore, the Berlin citizens learned that
the Austrians, too, were approaching under Count Lacy, this news was
considered by these soldier-citizens as a consecration of their arms.
"Better be buried under the walls of Berlin than yield to the
Austrian!" was the war-cry of the people, who flocked in constantly
renewed streams to the armory for weapons, the watchword of the brave
militia who hastened to all the gates to defend them against the
But all the streets did not offer so lively or proud an appearance.
Whilst the citizens and the warriors scarcely recovered from their
wounds, whilst the people were arming themselves to defend wife and
child, and the sacred liberty of fatherland; whilst these brave
troops were hurrying toward the Dresden and Kottbuss Gates to meet
the Russians, others were seen hastening down the Linden and Frederick
Streets. But these crowds were unarmed, though not empty-handed; their
faces were pale, and their eyes were gloomy and dull. These were the
faint-hearted and irresolute, who, in fear and trembling, were turning
their backs on a town in which was to be fought the fight for the
noblest possessions of mankind. This was the crowd of boasting,
versatile flatterers and parasites, who worshipped no other God
but fortune, and possessed no other faith than that of property and
personal safety. Berlin might be reduced to ashes, barbarism and
slavery might conquer, a foreign ruler might erect his throne in the
midst of the down-fallen city, what did they care, provided their own
lives and money were safe?
At this time they were hurrying along, pale with fright, death
and terror in their distracted countenances. Women of the highest
nobility, whose silken-shod feet had never before trod the rough
pavement, fled with hasty steps down the street; shoulders which had
never borne the least burden of life or sorrow, were now laden with
treasures, and gold was the parent whom these modern Aeneases
sought to save from the ruins of the threatened town. All ranks and
conditions were confounded; no longer servant and master, fear had
made brothers of them all. Countesses were seen smiling on their
valets, in order to obtain the assistance of their arm to a more rapid
flight; high-born gentlemen were seen laden down, like the meanest of
their servants, with gold and silver ware, which they were seeking to
save from the beleaguered city.
What did these people care whether Berlin fell, and was taken or not?
What did they care if the throne of the house of Hohenzollern was
overthrown? They had but one thought, one object--safety in flight.
So they hurried down the street, moaning and wailing, breathless and
trembling in every limb, toward the town gates. They reached the goal;
they stood before the gates beyond which were escape and safety. But
these gates were closed, and the soldiers who guarded them declared
that none should pass them, that the men must stay to defend the town,
the women to nurse the wounded and dying. All begging and pleading
were in vain; in vain did the Jew Ephraim, who had become a
millionnaire by the farming of the mint, offer the sentinel thousands
to open the gates; in vain did the gentlemen, once so proud, entreat;
in vain did the beautiful countesses wring their white hands before
the poor despised workman who now stood as sentinel at the gates.
In this moment this poor man was richer than the Hebrew mint-farmer
Ephriam, for he was rich in courage; mightier than the proudest
countess, for to his hands were intrusted the keys of a town; and
the town gates were not opened to these bands of cowards. They were
condemned to remain, condemned to the torture of trembling fear,
cowardly, inactive supplication.
Howling and whining, they fled back again into the town, in order at
least to bury their treasures, and hold themselves in readiness to
meet the victor, whoever he might be, with flags of peace and hymns of
But before they had reached their houses, bombs had commenced to fly
into the town, and here and there mortar-shells were heard whizzing
through the air; with the cries of the flying and the wounded, and
the screams of the dying, was now heard the moaning toll of the
alarm-bell, telling that to the terrors of the siege were added those
of the elements. Like gigantic torches of a funeral procession shone
the flames of the burning houses, and covered the heavens with crimson
as deep as the blood of those wounded unto death. At last night set
in, but brought no rest for the sick, no refreshment for the
weary. The fire-balls and bomb-shells still flew into the town, the
alarm-bells still continued their mournful toll, the burning houses
still flamed up to the sky; but yet the courage of the besieged did
not sink. They still held their ground intrepidly, and they still
bade an heroic defiance to the attacks of the enemy. In vain did the
Russians attempt to storm the gates, the brave defenders drove them
back again and again. Suddenly the cannon ceased firing, and the enemy
"What is the meaning of this?" asked the combatants at the gates.
"The meaning is," said Gotzkowsky, who had just arrived from another
part of the town with a squad of his workmen--"the meaning is that
help is approaching. It means that God is on our side, and succors our
noble and righteous cause. The Prince of Wurtemberg has just arrived
from Pasewalk with his division, and General Huelsen is hastening
hither as rapidly as possible from Koswig."
The brave warriors received this news with a loud hurrah, and embraced
each other with tears in their eyes and thanksgiving in their hearts.
"We are saved!" cried they to each other; "Berlin will not be
surrendered, Berlin will be victorious, for help has arrived." And
then they sank down on the pavement, to rest for an hour on this hard
bed, after the fatigue of the fierce combat.
But Gotzkowsky could not rest. For him there was no leisure, no sleep;
neither was there any fear or danger for him. As he had left his
house, his daughter, and his riches unguarded, with the same unconcern
did he move among the rain of balls and the bursting of shells. He did
not think of death nor of danger! He only thought of his country, and
one great, lofty idea--the idea of liberty--burned in his heart and
animated his whole being. The Council, knowing his influence over
the citizens, had, therefore, as soon as the Prince of Wurtemberg had
arrived with his regiment in Berlin, communicated this intelligence to
the brave patriot, and commissioned him to acquaint his men with the
fact. With glistening eye and beaming countenance did he announce
this significant intelligence to his brave warriors, reviving their
courage, and redoubling their strength as they drove the enemy back
from the gates and silenced his cannon.
But yet in his soul Gotzkowsky was sad and full of care. He had seen
the regiments of the Prince of Wurtemberg as they marched in, and
he had read in the dull countenances of the soldiers, staggering
and sinking from fatigue, that they were not able, nor even in a
condition, to hold a sword. But yet his heart did not fail him. The
elasticity of his courage seemed only to increase with the danger.
Perhaps a short rest, strengthening food, refreshing wine, might
restore to these men their lost strength.
And now for the first time since the attack of the enemy did
Gotzkowsky turn toward his home; but not to visit his daughter, not to
inquire after his property, but to open his wine-cellars, and to let
his cashier fill his pockets with gold.
He then returned rapidly down the street directly to the town-hall,
where the Council were in session, and had invited the most venerable
citizens to consult with them.
Appearing before this august body, Gotzkowsky painted, with glowing
eloquence and impressive words, the destitute condition of the
regiments which had entered the town. He demanded for them nourishment
and support; he entreated the Council to give these weary troops
shelter and rest.
"First let them eat and sleep," said he, "and then they will fight
for us and conquer. We cannot expect courage from a tired and starved
From the Council he hastened to the rich merchants and factory lords.
The rich man went begging for his hungry brethren, and his pride
did not feel itself lowered by the petition. No one could resist his
impetuous eagerness; every one was carried away by his unselfish and
impulsive magnanimity. For the moment, even earthly treasures lost
their value, for more valuable possessions were at stake, namely,
liberty and honor. Every one gave cheerfully and most liberally.
And now it was a glorious sight to see how, in a few hours, the whole
city changed its appearance. As the night before had been full
of horrors and dread events, the next morning and day were like a
festival, the preparation to a great and solemn feast. Forty of the
largest and fattest oxen were slaughtered, to afford a strengthening
meal to those so much in need of nourishment. About mid-day, a strange
procession moved down the Koenig's Street and across the Palace Square.
And what was the meaning of it? It was not a funeral, for there were
no mourning-wreaths and no hearse; it was not a bridal procession,
for the bridal paraphernalia and joyous music were wanting. Nor did it
wend its way toward the church nor the churchyard, but toward the new
and handsome opera-house, recently erected by the king, whose gates
were opened wide to receive it. It looked like a feast of Bacchus at
one time, from the enormous tuns driven along; at another time like
a festival of Ceres, as in solemn ranks came the bakers bringing
thousands of loaves in large wagons. Then followed the white-capped
cooks, bringing the smoking beef in large caldrons. The rear was
finally brought up by the butlers, with large baskets of wine.
And the beautiful and resplendent temple of art was thrown open to the
reception of all these things, although they only served for material
nourishment, and in the magnificent hall in which formerly Frederick
the Great, with his generals and chosen friends, listened to the magic
strains of Gluck, there sounded now a wild confusion of discordant
cries. The butlers stood by the wine-casks, filling the bottles which
were carried out by the nimble and active _vivandieres_, and on the
same stage on which once Galiari and Barbarini, Ostroa and Sambeni
enchanted the public with their marvellous singing, were seen now
large caldrons of beef; and, instead of the singers, the performance
was conducted by cooks, who drew the meat out of the pots, and
arranged it neatly on enormous dishes. Gotzkowsky had attained his
object, and Berlin fed this day the exhausted and hungry troops of the
Prince of Wurtemberg. The merchant of Berlin had given his choicest
and best wines to the banquet of patriotism.
* * * * *
RUSSIANS AND AUSTRIANS.
After so many horrors and so many hours of anxiety, at last, on the
evening of the second day of the siege, a momentary suspension of
hostilities occurred. Berlin rested after the excitement and turmoil,
and even the besiegers seemed to be reposing. Shells and fire-balls no
longer hissed through the groaning air, and the thunder of the cannon
had died away. Peace--the peace arising from disabling exhaustion
on the part of the combatants, reigned for a short while, and the
belligerents rested for a few hours to invigorate themselves for
a renewal of the fight. The streets of Berlin, lit by the dull
lamplight, were forsaken and empty, and only occasionally from the
dark houses was heard wailing and moaning, either the death-struggle
of a wounded man or the lamentations of his mourning friends. This
death-like silence prevailed for several hours, when it was broken
by a peculiar noise, sounding like the dull, muffled beat of
drums, followed by the measured tread of marching troops. The sound
approached nearer and nearer, and by the dim light of the street lamps
one could distinctly recognize a column of men marching in close order
from the opera-house down the Linden Street.
It consisted of more than six thousand men, moving down the "Linden"
in deep silence, unbroken even by a word of command. To see this dark
and silent column passing along the gloomy and deserted street, was
calculated to produce a feeling of awe in the spectator. Any one
inclined to be superstitious might have imagined this warlike force,
marching through the streets at the hour of midnight, noiseless and
silent as the grave, to be, not living soldiers, but the large and
daily increasing cohort of spirits of those fallen in battle, taking
its way through the dying town, as birds of prey fly with prophetic
wing in circles round the fields of death.
And now the head of the column reaches the Brandenburg Gate. The
sentinel stands to arms and challenges. The leader steps up to the
officer of the guard and whispers a few words in his ear. This officer
bows deeply and respectfully, and gives his sentinel a short order in
an under-tone. He then steps back to his command and presents arms.
The leaves of the gate then turned creaking on their hinges, and in
solemn silence the column marched out. This long, dark procession,
lasted nearly an hour; the gate then closed, and the same quiet
resumed its sway in the streets.
Berlin was dreaming or sleeping, praying or weeping, but knew not that
in this hour fresh misfortune had fallen upon it; knew not that the
Prince of Wurtemberg had just left the town, and retired upon Spandau
with his regiments, feeling himself too weak to resist an enemy three
times his number. And furthermore, it was not aware that the Austrian
Count Lacy, who had already occupied Potsdam and Charlottenburg, with
his division of ten thousand men, would in a few hours be at the gates
In serious consultation, in anxious and wavering expectation, the city
fathers were assembled in the town-hall, which they had not quitted
for two days. But, at this moment, a pause seemed to have occurred in
their deliberations, for both the chief burgomaster, Von Kircheisen,
and the aldermen were leaning back in their high, carved chairs,
in sleepy repose, contemplating the wax-lights in their silver
candelabras, which shed a dim and uncertain light into the more
distant parts of the hall. One or the other occasionally threw an
inquiring glance toward the door, and leaned forward as if to
listen. After a while, steps were heard in the antechamber, and the
countenances of the honorable members of the Council lighted up.
"At last he comes," said the chief burgomaster, raising himself with
an effort in his chair, and arranging the chain on his breast, which
had got a little out of order.
The door now opened, and the merchant Gotzkowsky entered.
He approached the assembly with a firm and hurried step. The light of
the candles shone upon his countenance, and in his pale, worn features
you could read the traces of the hardships, the efforts and dangers he
had undergone during the last two unfortunate days; only his eye still
shone with its mild and yet fiery glance, and in his breast there beat
still a brave and cheerful heart.
"Ye have called me, honorable gentlemen, and, as ye see, I have not
delayed in answering your call."
"Yes, we have summoned you," answered the chief burgomaster. "The
Council desire your advice."
A slight, mocking smile played about Gotzkowsky's lips. "It is not the
first time," he said, "that the Council have done me this honor."
Herr von Kircheisen plucked uneasily at his golden chain, and frowned.
Gotzkowsky's answer had wounded his pride. "Yes, you gave us your
advice yesterday, and it was only by your urgent appeal that we were
induced to feed and lodge the Prince of Wurtemberg's troops. We
might have spared ourselves the trouble, and our forty oxen remained
"The Prince of Wurtemberg has left us, I know," said Gotzkowsky,
sorrowfully, "and we are thrown again on our own resources. Oh, I
could weep over it! Two days and nights have the citizens of Berlin
fought with the courage of a lioness defending her young, and all in
vain. So much noble blood shed in vain!"
"We must surrender, then?" said Kircheisen, turning pale.
"Unless the honorable Council can sow dragons' teeth and reap armed
men, unless we can mould cannon and create gunners to serve them, we
must, indeed, surrender!" said Gotzkowsky, in a sad tone. "Yes, if
we had a dozen cannon like the two at the Kottbuss Gate served by the
brave artillerist, Fritz, there might be some hope for us. Those were
beautiful shots. Like the sickle of death did they mow down the ranks
of the enemy, and whole rows fell at once. Fritz is a hero, and has
built himself a monument with the dead bodies of the Russians--and all
this for nothing!"
"For nothing! do you say?" sighed the chief burgomaster. "On the
contrary, I rather think it will cost us a mint of money. The
Austrians have sent Prince Lowenstein in with a flag of truce, to
demand the surrender of the town. The Russians have also sent in a
flag of truce with the same demand. Now comes the important question,
To which of these two powers shall we surrender? Which will give us
the best bargain?" and as the burgomaster stammered out this question,
he seized a large goblet of wine which stood before him and emptied it
at a draught. He then ordered the servant, who stood at the door, to
replenish it with Johannisberger.
The aldermen and senators looked significantly at each other, and the
second burgomaster ventured timidly to suggest that the heavy wine
might possibly be injurious to the health of his honor the chief
"Wine makes a man brave," he drawled out, "and as long as the city
fathers have good wine in their cellars, the citizens of Berlin may
sleep in peace, for so long will the Council have the courage to brave
the enemy! Let me have wine, then, and be brave!" and again he emptied
the replenished goblet. He then stared complacently at the ceiling,
and seemed lost in contemplation of the laurel-wreath painted above.
The second burgomaster then rose gently from his seat, and taking
Gotzkowsky's arm, led him with the two principal councillors to one of
the more remote window-seats. With a slight motion of the hand and a
compassionate shrug of the shoulders, he pointed across to Herr von
"Our poor oppressed chief wishes to acquire pot-valor," said he, "and
to stimulate himself into a delirium of firmness; but I am afraid
that the _delirium tremens_ of fear is the only kind that he will
experience. The poor man is very much to be pitied. It is just at
such a time, when presence of mind is most requisite, that the good
burgomaster regularly loses his head, and his brain rushes off with
him like a mad horse to death and destruction."
"And such a man is the chief magistrate of the town of Berlin," said
"The citizens chose him, and the king confirmed their choice," said
the burgomaster; "so we ought to be satisfied. But now let us come to
the subject which induced us to disturb your slumbers, my friend.
We need your counsel. The Russians and Austrians both summon us to
surrender, and the Council of Berlin wish your advice, Gotzkowsky, as
to which of these two enemies they shall yield."
"That is, by Heavens! a choice that the devil himself must envy
us," cried Gotzkowsky, with a sad smile. "To which party shall we
surrender? To the Austrian, who wears the imperial German crown,
and yet is the enemy of Germany! or to the Russian, the northern
barbarian, whose delight it is to trample every human right in the
dust! Let me consider a little while, for it is a sad and painful
choice." And Gotzkowsky strode up and down, absorbed in the deepest
reflection. Then turning to the gentlemen, after a long pause, he
asked, "To whom shall we yield? If my brother were among my enemies,
I would fear him above all others; for a brother's hatred is most
unnatural, and, for that very reason, the most violent. The Austrian
is the German brother of the Prussian, and yet they are striving for
the right of the first-born, instead of confederating for the
general good in unity, in equal authority, equal power, and equal
determination. On the contrary, Austria allies herself to Russia, the
sworn enemy of Germany, and with the assistance of this enemy fights
against her German brothers. Therefore, my opinion is that, if we
really must surrender, and if the Prussian really must yield, let it
not be to Austria. Subjection to an equal is doubly humiliating. It
is less painful to suffer death at the hand of a barbarian than to
be butchered by a brother. I would, then, in this instance, give the
preference to Russia."
"That is also my opinion," said the burgomaster, and the councillors
agreed with him. They returned to the table, at which the chief
burgomaster still sat, gazing stupidly at the wine-cup.
"Gotzkowsky is of our opinion," said the second burgomaster, turning
toward him; it would be best to yield to the Russian."
"The Russian is a capital fellow!" stammered the chief burgomaster.
"The Russian has a great deal of money, and spends it freely. I
esteem the Russian astonishingly; and my decided opinion is, that we
surrender to the Russian."
* * * * *
A MAIDEN'S HEART.
Elise had passed the last two days and nights in her room;
nevertheless she had felt no fear; the thunder of the cannon and the
wail of the wounded had inspired her with mournful resignation rather
than with fear. As, at one time, she stood at the window, a shell
burst near the house, and shattered the window-panes of the ground
"Oh, if this hall had only struck me," cried she, while her cheeks
burned, "then all this suffering would have been at an end, this doubt
would have been cleared up: and if my father ever again gave himself
the trouble to visit his house, and ask after his daughter, my death
would be the proper rebuke to his question." Her father's long absence
and apparent indifference tormented her and converted her grief into
During these days of danger and mortal peril he had never once entered
his house to visit his daughter. With the unmitigated egotism of her
sex, she could not comprehend the greatness, the noble self-denial,
the manly firmness which dictated his conduct; she could see in it
nothing but indifference and cold-heartedness.
"The most insignificant and unpolished workman is dearer to him than
his own child," said she, proudly, drying her tears. "He is now,
perhaps, watching in the cabins of his laborers, and does not care if
his own house is burned to the ground; but even if he were told that
it was so, if he heard that his daughter had perished in the flames,
he would calmly say, 'My country demands this sacrifice of me, and I
submit.' No tear would dim his eye; his country would not leave him
time to mourn for his daughter. Oh, this country! what is it? My
country is where I am happy, and where I am beloved!" She sighed
deeply, and her thoughts wandered to her lover, her Feodor, the enemy
of her country, in whose heart she thought she would find her real
country, her true home.
The spoiled child of fortune, always accustomed to see every wish
fulfilled, Elise had not learned the power of self-control, nor to
bend her will to any higher power. Fortune seemed anxious to spare yet
awhile this warm, loving heart, and to allow her a little longer the
freedom of happy ignorance, before it initiated her into the painful
and tearful mysteries of actual life. Besides this, Elise had
inherited from her father a strong will and dauntless courage, and
behind her bright, dreamy eyes dwelt a proud and spirited soul. Like
her father, her whole soul yearned for freedom and independence;
but the difference between them was, that while she only understood
freedom as applying to herself personally, Gotzkowsky's more capacious
mind comprehended it in its larger and more general sense. She wished
for freedom only for herself; he desired it for his country, and he
would willingly have allowed his own person to be cast into bonds and
fetters, if he could thereby have secured the liberties of the people.
Out of this similarity, as well as from this difference of character,
arose all the discord which occasionally threatened to disturb the
harmony of these two hearts.
Gotzkowsky could not understand the heart of the young maiden, nor
Elise that of the noble patriot. To these two strong and independent
natures there had been wanting the gentle, soothing influence of a
mother's love, acting conciliatingly on both. Elise's mother had died
while she was young, and the child was left to the care of strangers.
Her father could seldom find time to be with his daughter; but,
though seldom personally present, yet his whole soul was faithfully,
unalterably devoted to her. Elise did not suspect this, and in
consequence of seldom seeing or meeting him, and the want of mutual
intercourse, the heart of his daughter became estranged from him, and
in the soul of this young girl, just budding into life, brought up
without companions, in the midst of wealth and plenty, arose at first
the doubt, and later the conviction, of the indifference of her father
toward his only child. But proud as she was, and full of a feeling
of independence, she never met him with a reproach or complaint, but
withdrew into herself, and as she believed herself repelled, strove
also, on her part, to emancipate herself.
"Love cannot be forced, nor can it be had for the asking," said she,
as, yielding sometimes to a natural childish feeling, she felt an
irresistible longing to go to her father, whom she had not seen the
livelong day; to hunt him up in the midst of his work, to lay herself
gently on his breast, and say to him: "Love me, father, for without
love we are both so lonely!" Once she had yielded to the impulse of
her heart, and had gone down to his work-room, to take refuge with all
her love and all her desire in her father's heart. It was on the very
day that Gotzkowsky had returned from a most important journey. He had
been absent for weeks from his daughter, and yet his first visit had
not been to her, but to the work-room, which he had not left since his
arrival. But Elise did not know that he had travelled with relays of
horses, and that, in spite of the intensely bitter weather, he had
driven day and night, allowing himself no rest nor refreshment, in
order to reach home as rapidly as possible, solely from desire to see
his daughter, whose fair and lovely countenance was the star which
lighted his dreary, lonesome hours of toil, and inspired him with
courage and cheerfulness. Nor could she know that he had only
undertaken this journey because, by the failure of one of the largest
mercantile firms in the Netherlands, his own house had been put in
danger, and he had been threatened with the loss of his hard-earned
With palpitating heart, and tears of love in her eyes, she entered his
room. Her whole bearing was sublime, full of tenderness and warmth,
full of the humble love of a child. But Gotzkowsky scarcely raised his
eyes from his books and papers, did not advance to meet her, did not
leave the circle of his officials and servants, did not even break
off the conversation he was engaged in with the directors of his
silk-factory. And yet Elise drew nearer to him, her heart yearned so
to bid him welcome. She laid her hand on his shoulder, and whispered
an affectionate greeting in his ear. Gotzkowsky only looked at her
hastily, and replied almost impatiently, "I pray you, my child, do not
disturb me; we are busy with very important matters."
It certainly was business of great importance, which monopolized
Gotzkowsky's attention immediately on his return. It was a question of
nearly half a million, which he would probably lose in consequence
of a royal decree just issued. This decree ordained that the new
_Frederick d'ors_ coined by the Jewish farmer of the mint, and which
were much too light, should be received at par all over the whole
kingdom, and even at the treasury offices. It was, therefore, but
natural that all debtors would hasten to pay their creditors in
this coin which had imparted to it so sudden and unexpected a value.
Gotzkowsky had received from his debtors upward of eight hundred
thousand dollars in this light coin, while his foreign creditors
absolutely refused to take them, and demanded the payment of their
debts in good money. Gotzkowsky, who, in consequence of his large and
extensive connections abroad, had about three hundred thousand dollars
in exchange against him, paid his creditors in gold of full weight,
and lost by these transactions three hundred thousand dollars in one
Just at the moment when this heavy loss befell him, Elise appeared, to
welcome him. His heart sank as he beheld her, for as he looked at her
this loss appeared in its full magnitude; it seemed as if not he, but
his child, had lost a portion of her wealth.
Elise knew and suspected nothing. She only felt that she had been
repulsed, and she withdrew, deeply wounded and mortified, with the
vow never to run the risk again of such another rebuff, such another
Gotzkowsky lost in this hour, not only the three hundred thousand
dollars, but, what he valued above all earthly treasures, the
affection of his daughter, and both without any fault of his own.
Elise forced herself to close her heart against her father, or at
least to conquer her grief at the supposed indifference, or quiet,
lukewarm inclination. And yet this ardent heart longed for love, as
the plant longs for the sunshine which is to penetrate it, and ripen
it into wonderful bloom. Had the friend and companion of her youth,
Bertram, been near her, she would have confided all her sorrows to
him, and found consolation on his breast. But he had been absent for
about a year on his long journey; and Elise's heart, which had always
clung to him with a sisterly affection, became more and more alienated
from the friend of her youth.
But fate or perhaps her evil destiny ordained that, about this time,
she should make the acquaintance of a young man who quickly won the
love of her vacant heart, and filled its void.
This young man was Colonel Feodor von Brenda, whom the fortune of war
had thrown into Berlin.
Elise loved him. With joy and delight, with the unbounded confidence
of innocence, she gave her whole heart up to this new sensation.
And, indeed, this young colonel was a very brilliant and imposing
personage. He was one of those Russian aristocrats who, on the
Continent, in their intercourse with the noblest and most exclusive
society of Germany and France, acquire that external adroitness and
social refinement, that brilliant graceful polish, which so well
conceals the innate barbarism and cunning of the natural character of
He was a bright companion, sufficiently conversant with arts and
sciences to talk on every subject, without committing himself. He knew
how to converse on all topics fluently enough, without betraying the
superficial character of his knowledge and his studies. Educated at
the court of the Empress Elizabeth, life had appeared to him in all
its voluptuousness and fullness, but at the same time had soon been
stripped of all its fancies and illusions. For him there existed no
ideals and no innocence, no faith, not even a doubt which in itself
implies a glimmer of faith; for him there was nothing but the plain,
naked, undeceivable disenchantment, and pleasure was the only thing in
which he still believed.
This pleasure he pursued with all the energy of his originally noble
and powerful character; and as all his divinities had been destroyed,
all holy ideals had dissolved into myths and hollow phantoms, he
wished to secure one divinity, at least, to whom he could raise an
altar, whom he could worship: this divinity was Pleasure.
Pleasure he sought everywhere, in all countries; and the more ardently
and eagerly he sought it, the less was he able to find it. Pleasure
was the first modest, coy woman who cruelly shunned him, and the more
he pursued her, the more coldly did she seem to fly him.
And now he converted his whole life into an adventure, a kind of
quixotic pursuit of the lost loved one, Pleasure. In the mean time,
his heart was dead to all the better and nobler feelings. But, at one
time, it seemed as if a higher and more serious inclination promised
permanently to enchain this dreaded rival of all husbands and lovers.
Feodor von Brenda, the most _blase_, witty, insolent cavalier at the
court of his empress, became suddenly serious and silent. On his proud
countenance was seen, for the first time, the light of a soft and
gentle feeling, and when he approached his beautiful bride, the
Countess Lodoiska von Sandomir, there beamed from his dark eyes a glow
holier and purer than the fire of sensuality. Could he have fled with
her into some desert, could he have withdrawn into the stillness of
his mountain castle, he would have been saved; but life held him with
its thousand minute, invisible threads, and the experiences of his
past years appeared to mock him for his credulity and confidence.
Besides this woman, whom he adored as an angel, arose the demon of
skepticism and mistrust, and regarded him with mocking smiles and
looks of contempt; but still Feodor von Brenda was a name of honor, a
cavalier to whom his pledged word was sacred, and who was ready to pay
the debt of honor which he had incurred toward his betrothed; and this
love for the Countess Lodoiska, although cankered by doubt and gnawed
by the experiences of his own life, still had sufficient power over
him to cause the future to appear not gloomy but full of promise,
and to allow him to hope, if not for happiness, at least for rest and
The war-cry roused him from these dreams and doubts of love. Elizabeth
had united with Maria Theresa against Frederick of Prussia, and the
Empress of Russia was about to send an army to the support of her
ally. Feodor awoke from the sweet rest into which his heart had sunk,
and, like Rinaldo, had torn asunder the rosy chains by which his
Armida had sought to fetter him. He followed the Russian colors, and
accompanied General Sievers as his adjutant to Germany.
As to him all life was only an adventure, he wished also to enjoy the
exciting pastime of war. This, at least, was something new, a species
of pleasure and amusement he had not yet tried, and therefore the
young colonel gave himself up to it with his whole soul, and an ardent
desire to achieve deeds of valor.
But it was his fate to be carried early from the theatre of war as
a prisoner, and in this character he arrived with General Sievers at
Berlin. But his durance was light, his prison the large and pleasant
city of Berlin, in which he could wander about perfectly free with the
sole restriction of not going beyond the gates.
General Sievers became accidentally acquainted with Gotzkowsky, and
this acquaintance soon ripened into a more intimate friendship. He
passed the greater part of his days in Gotzkowsky's house. As a lover
of art, he could remain for hours contemplating the splendid pictures
which Gotzkowsky had bought for the king in Italy, and which had not
yet been delivered at Sans Souci; or, by the side of the manufacturer
he traversed the large halls of the factory in which an entirely new
life, a world of which he had no idea, was laid open to him. And then
again Gotzkowsky would impart to him the wide and gigantic plans which
occupied his mind; and this disclosed to him a view into a new era
which arose beyond the present time, an era when industry would
command and raise the now despised workman into the important and
While Gotzkowsky and his friend the general were discussing these
extensive plans, and speculating about the future of industry, the
young people, Elise and the adjutant, were dreaming about the future
of their love.
The colonel had only commenced this love-affair with the daughter
of the rich manufacturer as a new adventure. It was so piquant to go
through all the stages of a romantic, dreamy German love, with a pure,
innocent German girl, and to let himself be led by her through
the sacred mazes of innocent romance, holy transports, and chaste
affection--it was so pleasant a diversion of his captivity, why should
he not enjoy it?
This attachment to Elise was for him at first only a temporary
amusement, and he toyed with his vows and wooing, until,
imperceptibly, he found his heart entangled in his own net. The ardent
yet innocent love of the young girl touched his feelings. It was
something new to be the object of so chaste and devoted an affection.
He was ashamed of himself in his inmost soul to perceive with what
childish trust, what sacred security and humble resignation this
young, rich, and beautiful maiden gave herself up to him.
For the first time, he experienced an ardent desire to be worthy of so
noble an affection, and to resemble, at least in some slight degree,
the ideal picture which Elise had formed of him--to be something of
the hero, the knight, the noble being whom Elise worshipped in him.
At the same time it was so surprising and strange to meet a girl, who,
all submission and devoted love, yet remained firm and immovable in
her purity and chastity, so bright and proud that even he felt respect
for this innocence which surrounded the beloved one like a halo, and
his lips refused to utter words at which her pure soul might tremble.
With his fiery and mercurial temperament, he had, with a kind of
passionate curiosity, adopted the _role_ of a Platonic lover, and
the libertine in his character had been subdued by the love of the
eccentric. He had converted this love into a kind of adoration. He
placed Elise upon the altar, and worshipped her as a saint to whom
he had turned from the turmoil and wild lust of life, and in the
contemplation and worship of whom he could obtain forgiveness of all
his sins and errors. It affected him to think that Elise was praying
for him while he, perhaps, forgot her in the whirlpool of pleasure;
that she believed in him so devotedly and truly, that she looked up to
him so lovingly and humbly--to him who was so far her inferior. And in
the midst of his wild life of pleasure he felt the need of some saint
to intercede for forgiveness for him. All these new and unaccustomed
feelings only enchained him the more closely, and made him consider
the possession of her as the most desirable and only worthy object of
She must be his; he was determined to wear this brilliant diamond,
the only one he had ever found genuine and without flaw, as his
most costly possession; to become, in spite of all difficulties and
impossibilities, unmindful of his betrothed bride and his solemn vows,
the husband of this beautiful German maiden, who had given herself to
him heart and soul.
In proportion to the difficulties that opposed such a union, increased
his fierce determination to overcome them. He was betrothed, and the
Empress Elizabeth herself had blessed the betrothal. He could
not, therefore, retract his vows without exciting the anger of his
mistress, and history had more than one example to show how violent
and annihilating this anger could be. In like wise, Elise dared not
hope ever to obtain the consent of her father to her union with a man
who was the enemy of her country. She was obliged to conceal this love
with anxious care from his eyes, if she did not wish to expose herself
to the danger of being separated from her lover forever. She knew that
her father, in every thing else uniformly kind and yielding toward
her, was on this one subject implacable, and that no tears, no
pleading, were capable of moving the firm and energetic will of the
Both were obliged, therefore, to preserve their love a secret, and in
this concealment lay for Feodor a new charm which bound him to her,
while it estranged Elise's heart still more from her father, and
chained it in unbounded devotion to her lover.
In the mean while the time arrived for Feodor to leave Berlin with
General Sievers. He swore eternal love and fidelity to Elise, and she
vowed to him cheerfully never to become the wife of another, but in
patience and trust to await his return, and to hope for the end of the
war and the coming of peace, which would solve all difficulties, and
remove the opposition of her father.
That besides her father there could be any obstacle, she did not
suspect; Feodor had so often sworn that she was his first and only
love, and she, young and inexperienced as she was, believed him.
* * * * *
A FAITHFUL FRIEND.
Elise's father had not yet returned. She was still alone, but in her
soul there was neither fear nor trembling, but only a defiant grief at
this apparent indifference to the danger which had threatened her, in
common with the rest of Berlin, for the last two days.
She had shut herself up in her room, not that she anticipated any
danger, but because she wished to be alone, because she wished to
avoid Bertram, the faithful friend, who had watched over her during
this time with the most attentive devotion. Truthfully had he remained
in the house, deserted by her father, as a careful watchman; had never
left its door; but, armed with dagger and pistol, he had stationed
himself as a sentinel in the antechamber, ready to hasten at the
slightest call of Elise, to defend her with his life against
any attack or any danger, and Elise felt herself bound to him in
gratitude, and yet this duty of gratitude was a burden to her. It was
distressing and painful to her to see Bertram's quiet and mournful
countenance, to read in his dimmed eyes the presence of a grief so
courageously subdued. But yet she had endeavored to overcome this
feeling, and she had often come to him lately to chat with him about
past times and to reward him with her society for his protection and
faithful presence. And yet Bertram's tender conscience was well aware
of the constraint Elise had put herself under, and the harmless and
cheerful chat was to him all the more painful as it reminded him of
past times and blasted hopes.
He had, therefore, with a melancholy smile of resignation, requested
Elise not to come any more into the hall, as it would be better, by
the anticipated occupation of the enemy, to remain in her room, in the
upper story of the house, and to lock the door in order to secure her
from any possible surprise.
Elise had completely understood the delicacy and nobleness of this
request, and since then had remained quiet and undisturbed in her
Thus the second night had commenced. She passed it like the one
preceding, wandering up and down, not needing sleep, but kept awake by
her thoughts and cares. In the middle of the night she was interrupted
in her anxious reveries by Bertram, who came to her door, and in a low
and timid voice requested permission to enter.
Elise knew very well that she could trust Bertram like a brother, as
an unselfish, disinterested friend. Therefore, fearlessly she opened
the door, and bade him come in. Bertram entered timidly and confused,
almost overpowered by happiness, for this room into which he came was
Elise's bedroom, the sanctuary of maidenhood and beauty, and he felt
disposed to kneel down and pray, so evidently did this room seem to
him a temple of innocence.
It appeared to him as if his unholy foot was not worthy to tread this
ground, nor to approach the bed which, with its white curtains, seemed
to wave before his dazzled eyes like a white swan.
In soft and gentle words he brought to Elise greeting from her father.
He related to her how Gotzkowsky had visited his house, not to take
rest, but to see Elise; how, scarcely arrived there, a messenger
from the Council had called him back to the town-hall. There he had
commissioned Bertram to request his daughter to withdraw from the
front rooms of the house, and to retire into those next to the garden,
where she would be safer and have less to fear from the enemy as he
"At last, then, my father has consented to think of me," said Elise,
with a bitter smile. "His patriotism has allowed him leisure to
remember his only daughter, who would have remained solitary and
forsaken in the midst of servants and hirelings if my noble and
faithful brother had not assumed the duties of my father, and watched
over and protected me." She reached out both her hands to Bertram with
a look full of gratitude, but he scarcely touched them; he held them
for a moment lightly and coldly in his, and then let them go. This
slight and transient touch had shot through him like an electric shot,
and reawakened all the sorrows of his soul.
"You will then leave this room?" asked Bertram, approaching the door.
"I will go into the hall immediately next to it."
"All alone?" asked Bertram; and then fearing that she might suspect
him of wishing to force his company upon her, he added, quickly, "You
ought to keep one of your maids near you, Elise."
Smilingly she shook her head. "For what purpose?" asked she. "Bertram
is my protector, and I am quite safe. I have sent my maids to their
rooms. They were tired from long watching and weeping; let them sleep.
Bertram will watch for all of us. I have no fear, and I would not
even leave this room, if it were not that I wished to comply with the
rarely expressed and somewhat tardy desire of my father."
Saying which, she took the silver candelabras from the table and
quietly traversed the room in order to proceed to the adjoining
hall. At the door she stopped and turned round. The full light of the
candles shone on her handsome, expressive face, and Bertram gazed on
her with a mixture of delight and anguish.
"Bertram," said she gently and timidly, "Bertram, my brother, let me
thank you for all your love and constancy. Would that I could reward
you more worthily! In that case all would be different, and we would
not all be so sad and despondent as we now are. But always remember,
my brother, that I will never cease to love you as a sister, and that
if I cannot compel my heart to love you otherwise, yet no other power,
no other feeling can ever lessen or destroy my sisterly affection.
Remember this, Bertram, and be not angry with me." She nodded to him
with a sweet smile, and retreated through the door.
Bertram stood rooted to the floor like one enchanted, and gazed at the
door through which this vision of light had departed. He then raised
his eyes to heaven, and his countenance shone with excitement. "God
grant that she may be happy!" prayed he, softly. "May she never be
tormented by the agonies of error or repentance; may he whom she loves
prove worthy of her!"
Overpowered by bitter and painful thoughts, his head sank upon his
breast, and tears coursed down his cheeks. But he did not abandon
himself long to his sad and anxious thoughts, nor did he allow sorrow
long to take possession of his heart. After a short pause he raised
himself and shook his head, as if to roll off the whole burden of care
and grief with all the power of his will.
"At least I will always be at her side," said he, his countenance
beaming from the noble decision. "I will follow her like a faithful,
watchful dog, and ward off from her every danger and every misfortune
which comes from man and not from God. She has called me her brother!
Well, a brother has both rights and duties, and I will perform them!"
* * * * *
AN UNEXPECTED MEETING.
The hall to which Elise had retired, next to her bedroom, was on the
garden side of the house, and its glass doors opened on a porch from
which handsomely ornamented bronze steps led winding down into the
garden. Notwithstanding the advanced season of the year, the night was
mild, and the moon shone brightly. Elise opened the glass doors and
stepped out on the porch to cool her burning forehead in the fresh
night air; and, leaning on the balustrade, she looked up smiling and
dreamily at the moon. Sweet and precious fancies filled the soul of
the young maiden, and brought the color to her cheeks.
She thought of her lover, who so lately had appeared to her as in a
dream; she repeated to herself each one of his words. With a sweet but
trembling emotion she remembered that he had bidden her to await him;
that he had sworn to her to come, even if his way should be over dead
bodies and through rivers of blood.
With all the pride of a loving girl she recalled his bold and
passionate words, and she rejoiced in her heart that she could call
herself the bride of a hero. Even if this hero was the enemy of
her country, what did she care? She loved him, and what to her were
nationalities or the quarrels of princes? She was his--his in love and
faith, in purity and innocence; what cared she for aught else?
Elise started suddenly from her dreams. She had heard a noise down
in the garden, and leaned listening over the balustrade. What was the
meaning of this noise? Was it perhaps some thief, who, under cover
of the general confusion, had stolen into the garden? Elise remained
motionless, and listened. She had not deceived herself, for she
distinctly heard footsteps. A feeling of fear took possession of her,
and yet she did not dare to move from the spot, nor to cry for help.
Might it not be her lover, for whom she had promised to wait?
With strained attention she gazed down into the garden; her eye seemed
to penetrate the darkness with its sharp, searching look. But she
could distinguish nothing; not an object moved through these silent
paths, where the yellow sand was sufficiently lighted up by the moon
to betray any one sufficiently bold to tread them. Every thing was
again quiet; but Elise shuddered at these long, black shadows cast on
both sides of the alleys; she was afraid to remain any longer on the
porch. She retired into the hall, the door to which she had left open
on purpose to perceive any noise coming from that quarter.
Now again she became aware of steps approaching nearer and nearer.
She wished to rise, but her feet refused their office. She sank back
powerless into her chair and closed her eyes. She could not determine
whether it was fear or happy expectation which pervaded her whole
And now the footsteps ascended into the porch, and came quite near to
the window. Would a thief dare to approach these lighted windows? She
raised her eyes. He stood before her!--he, her beloved, the friend
of her heart, her thoughts, her hopes! Feodor von Brenda stood in the
doorway of the hall, and uttered softly her name. She could not rise,
her feet trembled so; and in her heart she experienced an uneasy
sensation of fear and terror. And yet she stretched her arms out to
him, and welcomed him with her looks and her smile.
And now she lay in his arms, now he pressed her firmly to his heart,
and whispered tender, flattering words in her ear.
She pushed him gently back, and gazed at him with a smile of delight.
But suddenly her look clouded, and she sighed deeply. Feodor's
brilliant Russian uniform pained her, and reminded her of the
danger he might be incurring. He read her fear and anxiety in her
"Do not be afraid, my sweet one," whispered he gently, drawing her
into his arms. "No danger threatens us. My people are now masters of
the town. Berlin has surrendered to the Russians. _The enemy_ is now
conqueror and master, and no one would dare to touch this uniform.
Even your father must now learn to yield, and to forget his hatred."
"He will never do it," sighed Elise sadly. "You do not know him,
Feodor. His will never bends, and the most ardent prayers would not
induce him to grant that to his heart which his judgment does not
approve of. He is not accustomed to yield. His riches make him almost
despotic. Every one yields to him."
"He is the king of merchants," said Feodor, as he passed his fingers
playfully through the dark tresses of the young girl, whose head
rested on his shoulder. "His money makes him as powerful as a prince."
"That is exactly my misfortune," sighed Elise.
The colonel laughed, and pressed a kiss upon her forehead. "Dreamer,"
said he, "do you call yourself miserable because you are the daughter
of a millionnaire?"
"Millions alone do not make one happy," said she sadly. "The heart
grows cold over the dead money, and my father's heart is cold toward
his daughter. He has so many thousand other things to do and think of
besides his daughter! The whole world has claims upon him; every one
requires his advice, submits to and obeys him. From all parts of the
world come letters to be answered, and, when at last, late in the
evening, he remembers he is something besides the king on 'Change, the
man of speculation, he is so tired and exhausted, that he has only a
few dull words for his child, who lives solitary in the midst of all
this wealth, and curses the millions which make her poor."
She had spoken with increasing excitement and bitterness. Even her
love had for a moment been eclipsed by the feeling of an injured
daughter, whose grief she now for the first time disclosed to her
As she finished speaking, she laid her arm on Feodor's shoulder, and
clung still more closely to him, as if to find in his heart protection
and shelter against all pain and every grief. Like a poor, broken
flower she laid herself on his breast, and Feodor gazed at her
with pride and pity. At this moment he wished to try her heart, and
discover whether he alone was master of it. For that purpose had he
come; for this had he risked this meeting. In this very hour should
she follow him and yield herself to him in love and submission. His
long separation from her, his wild soldier's life had crushed out
the last blossoms of tender and chaste affection in his heart, and
he ridiculed himself for his pure, adoring, timid love. Distrust had
resumed power over him, and doubt, like a mildew, had spread itself
over his last ideal. Elise was to him only a woman like the rest. She
was his property, and as such he wished to do with her as he chose.
But yet there was something in her pure, loving being which mastered
him against his will, and, as it were, changed his determination.
In her presence, looking into her clear pure eye, he forgot his dark
designs and his dreary doubts, and Elise became again the angel of
innocence and purity, the saint to whom he prayed, and whose tender
looks shed forgiveness on him.
This young girl, resting so calmly and confidingly on his breast, and
looking at him so innocently and purely, moved him, and made him blush
for himself and his wild, bold desires. Silent and reflecting he sat
at her side, but she could read in his looks, in his smile, that he
loved her. What further need had she of words?
She raised her head from his breast, and looked at him for a long
time, and her countenance assumed a bright, happy expression.
"Oh," said she, "do I call myself poor when I have you? I am no longer
poor since I have known you, but I have been so; and this, my friend,
must be the excuse for my love. I stood in the midst of the cold
glitter of gold as in an enchanted castle, and all around me was
lifeless, stiffened into torpidity by enchantment, and I knew no
talisman to break the charm. You came, and brought with you love. The
talisman was found; a warm life awoke in me, and all the splendor of
gold crumbled into dust. I was rich then, for I loved; now I am rich,
for you love me!"
"Yes, I love you," cried he; "let your father keep his treasures. You,
and only you, do I desire."
She sprang up startled from his arms. In the overpowering happiness
of the hour she had entirely forgotten the danger which threatened her
lover. She suddenly remembered, and her cheek paled.
"My father!" cried she, "if he should come at this moment! His look
alone would be enough to kill me." And anxiously and tremblingly she
clung to Feodor.
"Fear not, dear one," he whispered, "he is not coming. God protects
and watches over those who love each other. Do not think of danger.
Banish all care, all fear. This hour belongs to us, and as I now fold
you in my arms with delight, so let it be always and forever. For you
know, precious child, that you are mine, that you can never belong to
another; that you have pledged yourself, and at some future time must
follow me as your husband."
"I know it, I know it," she murmured; and, in blissful
self-forgetfulness, she leaned her head on his shoulder, and listened
with beating heart to the burning, passionate words which he poured
into her ear.
Of a sudden, with the rapidity of lightning, she sprang up, as if an
electric shock had pervaded her body, and listened eagerly.
As Feodor was about to speak, to inquire the cause of her sudden
terror, she quickly pressed her hand to his mouth. "Silence,"
whispered she softly. "I heard it distinctly. My father is coming
hither through the garden!"
They both listened in silence. In the quiet of the night Gotzkowsky's
voice was now heard. He ordered his servants to shut the garden gates
carefully, and watch them well, as the Russians entering the town
would pass by this wall.
"You are right," said Feodor; "it is your father. Truly this is an
"He will kill me if he finds you here," murmured Elise, clinging, half
fainting, to her lover's arm.
"I will protect you with my life," said he, pressing her more firmly
"No, no!" cried she breathlessly; "he must not find you here. No one
must see you. Oh, Feodor, listen to me. He is not alone; Bertram
and his servants are with him. Oh, my God, they will kill you! Save
yourself; leave me, Feodor, and conceal yourself!" And drawing him
with irresistible strength to the door, she whispered, "In there, in
my bedroom conceal yourself."
"Never," said he firmly and decidedly. "Never will I hide myself, or
sneak away like a coward!"
"You must do it," entreated she; and as she saw that he hesitated and
drew back unwillingly, she continued: "Not for your sake--for the sake
of my honor, Feodor. Remember it is night, and I am alone with you."
"Yes, you are right," said Feodor sadly. "Hide me; no spot must
tarnish your honor."
With convulsive haste, Elise drew him to the door of her chamber.
Gotzkowsky's voice was heard just outside the window.
"Quick! hasten, they are coming!" said she, pulling the door open, and
pushing him hurriedly on.
"He is saved," cried her heart joyfully, as she closed the door after
him, and, sinking down, half fainting in a chair, her lips murmured,
"Have mercy, gracious God; have mercy on him and me!"
At this moment her father, accompanied by Bertram and the factory
workman, Balthazar, entered the room through the door of the balcony.
* * * * *
Gotzkowsky at length returned to his home. Sad and sorrowful was his
soul, and his brow, at other times so smooth and clear, was now dark
and clouded. He mourned for his country, for the fruitless battles,
the blood shed in vain, and, in the bitter grief of his heart, he
asked himself what crime he had committed, that to him should be
assigned the painful duty of deciding to which of the enemies they
should surrender. And yet the decision was imperative, and Berlin had
to be surrendered to the Russians.
In gloomy sadness, hardly casting a passing glance at his daughter,
whose anxiety and death-like paleness he did not even perceive,
Gotzkowsky entered the hall, Bertram carefully bolting the doors
behind him, and then in an undertone gave Balthazar and the servants
directions for the protection of the house.
"What a dreadful night!" said Gotzkowsky, sinking down on a sofa
exhausted; "my heart aches as much as my limbs."
For a moment he closed his eyes, and lay silent and motionless. Elise
was still leaning trembling and breathless on the chair near the door.
Gotzkowsky raised his head, and his eyes sought his daughter. As he
perceived her, a gentle and pleased expression passed over his face,
and his brow grew clearer. He hastened to her and raised her in his
"Bless you, Elise, my child! for two days have I been nothing but
citizen and soldier; now at last I am permitted to remember that I
am a father. I had almost forgotten it during these wild sad days.
Good-evening, my darling child!"
Elise kissed his hand respectfully, and muttered a low welcome.
Gotzkowsky said in a gentle tone, "This is a comfort which makes me
forget all my sufferings. Come, my children, let us for one bright
hour put aside all care and trouble, and be happy and cheerful
together. Let us have breakfast. This poor, weak body needs
refreshment, for it reminds me that, for two days, I have been
living on prison fare, bread and water. Come, then, let us breakfast.
Bertram, sit by my side, and our sweet little housekeeper will help us
Elise rose with difficulty and gave the necessary orders to the
servants; and while the latter were hurrying to and fro, serving
up breakfast, Gotzkowsky reclined on the sofa, half asleep from
exhaustion; and Bertram and Elise sat opposite to each other in
silence. Suddenly there were heard in the distance wild yells, and
loud noises and cries. Then hasty steps flew up the staircase; the
hall door was pulled open, and a soldier rushed in. With breathless
haste he bolted the door behind him, threw off the white cloak which
concealed his figure, and the broad-brimmed hat which covered his
head, and sank with a loud sigh into a chair. Gotzkowsky hurried up to
him and looked at him attentively. Elise, with an instinctive feeling
of the danger which threatened Feodor, turned to the door behind which
he was hidden.
"The artilleryman, Fritz!" cried Gotzkowsky, with visible
"Yes, it is me," groaned the soldier. "Save me, Gotzkowsky; do not
deliver me up to these barbarians!"
Gotzkowsky laid his hand on his shoulder with a friendly smile. "I
would not betray the enemy himself, if he sought refuge in my house;
and you ask me not to betray the most valiant and renowned defender of
Berlin. Bertram, this man here, this simple cannoneer, has performed
miracles of valor, and earned for himself an enviable name in these
last unfortunate days. It was he who had charge of the only two cannon
Berlin possessed, and who, never tiring, without rest or relaxation,
gent death into the ranks of the enemy. Be assured, my son, you have
fought these two days like a hero, and it cannot be God's wish that,
as a reward for your bravery, you should fall into the hands of the
"They pursue me everywhere," said the artilleryman. "Hunted by De
Lacy's chasseurs like a wild beast, I fled down the street hither. You
told me yesterday that if ever I wanted a friend in need, you would
be one to me. Therefore have I come to you. The Austrians have
sworn vengeance on the cannoneer, whose balls swept their ranks so
murderously, and have set a large price on my head."
"Ah!" cried Gotzkowsky, laughing, "the Austrians advertise rewards
before they have got the money to pay them. Let them set a thousand
ducats on your head, my son. They will have to do without the ducats,
and your head too, for Berlin will give them neither. If we must pay
the money, the Russian shall have it; and as for your head, well, I
will pay for that with my life. You have fought like a lion, and like
lions we will defend you."
"What have I gained by fighting?" said Fritz, with a mournful shrug of
the shoulders. "The enemy have succeeded in getting into the town, and
their rage is tearful. They have sworn to kill me. But you will not
give me up! and should they come here and find me, then have pity on
me and kill me, but do not give me up to the enemy!"
"To kill you, they must kill both of us first!" cried Bertram, taking
the brave cannoneer by the hand. "We will hide him in your house;
won't we, Father Gotzkowsky?"
"Yes, and so safely that no one will be able to find him!" cried
Gotzkowsky, cheerfully, raising the soldier up by the hand. "Follow
me, my son. In my daughter's chamber is a safe hiding-place. The
mirror on the wall covers a secret door, behind which is a space just
large enough to conceal a person. Come."
He led the artilleryman toward the door of Elise's room. But before
this door Elise had stationed herself, her cheeks burning and her eyes
flashing. The danger of her lover lent her courage and determination,
and enabled her to meet the anger of her father unflinchingly.
"Not in there, father!" said she, in a tone almost commanding; "not
into my room!"
Gotzkowsky stepped back in astonishment, and gazed at his daughter.
"How," asked he, "do you forbid me the entrance?"
"Behind the picture of the Virgin in the large hall is a similar
hiding-place," said Elise, hurriedly; "carry him thither."
Gotzkowsky did not answer immediately. He only gazed firmly and
inquiringly into Elise's countenance. Dark and dismal misgivings,
which he had often with much difficulty suppressed, now arose again,
and filled his soul with angry, desperate thoughts. Like Virginius of
old, he would have preferred to kill his daughter to delivering her
into the hands of the enemy.
"And why should he go there, and not remain here?" asked he at last
with an effort.
"Remember, father," stammered she, blushing, "I--"
She stopped as she met the look of her father, which rested on her
with penetrating power--as she read the rising anger of his soul in
the tense swollen veins of his brow, and his pale, trembling lips.
Bertram had witnessed this short but impressive scene with increasing
terror. Elise's anxiety, her paleness and trembling, the watch which
she kept over that door, had not escaped him, even on his entrance,
and filled him with painful uneasiness. But as he now recognized in
Gotzkowsky's features the signs of an anger which was the more violent
for the very reason that he so seldom gave way to it, he felt the
necessity of coming to the assistance of his distressed sister. He
approached her father, and laid his hand lightly on his shoulder.
"Elise is right," said he, entreatingly. "Respect her maiden
Gotzkowsky turned round upon him with an impatient toss of the head,
and stared him full in the face. He then broke into a fit of wild,
"Yes," said he, "we will respect her maiden hesitation. You have
spoken wisely, Bertram. Listen: you know the partition behind the
picture of the Madonna in the picture-gallery. Carry our brave friend
thither, and take heed that the spring is carefully closed."
Bertram looked at him sadly and anxiously. He had never before seen
this man, usually so calm, so passionately excited.
"You will not go with us, father?" asked he.
"No," said Gotzkowsky, harshly; "I remain here to await the enemy."
He cast on Elise, still leaning against the door, a threatening look,
which made her heart tremble. Bertram sighed, and had not the courage
to go and forsake Elise in this anxious and critical moment.
"Hasten, friend," said Gotzkowsky, sternly. "The life of a brave man
is at stake. Hasten!"
The young man dared not gainsay him, but he approached Gotzkowsky,
and whispered softly: "Be lenient, father. See how she trembles! Poor
And with a painful glance at Elise, he took the hand of the
artilleryman, and led him out of the room.
* * * * *
Elise was now alone with her father. She had sunk down near the fatal
door, and her colorless lips murmured faint prayers.
Gotzkowsky stood there, still relentless; but his agitated
countenance, his lowering brow, his flashing eyes, betrayed the deep
and passionate emotion of his soul. Struck and wounded fatally in his
most sacred feelings, he felt no pity, no compassion for this poor
trembling girl, who followed his every motion with a timid, anxious
eye. His whole being was filled with burning rage against his
daughter, who, his misgiving heart told him, had trampled his honor in
A long and dreadful pause occurred. Nothing was heard but Gotzkowsky's
loud, heavy breathing, and Elise's low-muttered prayers. Suddenly
Gotzkowsky drew himself up, and threw his head proudly back. He then
walked to the door leading into the balcony, and to the opposite one,
and ascertained that they were both closed. No one could intrude, no
one interrupt this fearful dialogue.
Elise was terribly conscious of this, and could only whisper, "Pity,
pity, merciful God! I shall die with terror!"
Gotzkowsky approached her, and, seizing her hand, raised her rapidly
from the floor. "We are alone now," said he with a hoarse, harsh
voice. "Answer me, now. Who is concealed there in your room?"
"No one, my father."
"No one!" repeated he, sternly. "Why, then, do you tremble?"
"I tremble because you look at me so angrily," said she, terrified.
Her father cast her hand passionately from him. "Liar!" cried he. "Do
you wish me to kill him?"
He took his sword from the table, and approached the door.
"What are you going to do, my father?" cried she, throwing herself in
"I am going to kill the thief who stole my daughter's honor," cried
Gotzkowsky, his eyes flashing with rage.
"Father, father, by the God in heaven I am innocent!" cried she,
convulsively, striving to hold him back.
"Then let me have the proof of this innocence," said he, pushing her
But she sprang forward with the agility of a gazelle, rushed again to
the door, and clung with both hands to the lock.
"No, no, father, I remain here. You shall not insult yourself and me
so much as to believe what is dishonorable and unworthy of me, and to
require a proof of my innocence."
This bold opposition of Elise only excited Gotzkowsky's anger the
more, and was to him a fresh proof of her guilt. His rage overpowered
him; with raised arm and flashing eye he strode up to Elise, and cried
out: "Away from the door, or by Heaven I will forget that I am your
"Oh," cried she breathlessly, "you have often forgotten that, but
think now; remember that I am the daughter of the wife whom you loved!
Trust me, father. By the memory of my mother, I swear to you that
my honor is pure from any spot; and, however much appearances may be
against me, I am nevertheless innocent. I have never done any thing of
which my father would have to be ashamed. Believe me, father; give me
your hand and say to me--'I believe your innocence; I trust you even
She sank down on her knees, raising her arms imploringly to him, while
burning tears streamed down her cheeks. Gotzkowsky gazed at her long
and silently, and his child's tears touched the father's heart.
"Perhaps I do her injustice," said he to himself, looking thoughtfully
into her weeping face. "She may be really innocent. Let us try," said
he, after a pause, pressing his hands to his burning temples. As he
let them drop, his countenance was again calm and clear, and there was
no longer visible any trace of his former anger. "I will believe you,"
said he. "Here, Elise, is my hand."
Elise uttered a cry of joy, sprang up from her knees, rushed toward
her father, and pressed her burning lips on his extended hand. "My
father, I thank you. I will ever be grateful to you," cried she,
Gotzkowsky held her hand firmly in his own, and while speaking to her
approached, apparently by accident, the door so bravely defended by
Elise. "You are right, my child; I was a fool to doubt you, but I am
jealous of my honor, the most precious property of an honest man. Much
can be bought with gold, but not honor. True honor is bright and clear
as a mirror, and the slightest breath dims it. Oh, how would this
envious, grudging, malignant world rejoice if it could only find a
spot on my honor! But woe to him who dims it, even if it were my own
Elise turned pale and cast down her eyes. Gotzkowsky perceived it. He
still held her hand in his, and approached the door with her, but he
compelled his voice to be gentle and mild.
"I repeat," said he, "I wronged you, but it was a terrible suspicion
which tortured me, and I will confess it to you, my child. The Russian
flag of truce which came into town to negotiate with the authorities
was accompanied by ten soldiers and two officers. While the
commissioner was transacting business in the Council-chamber above,
they remained below in the lower story of the building. I accompanied
the commissioner, as he left the Council, down-stairs, and we found
his military escort in a state of anxiety and excitement, for one of
the officers had left them two hours before, and had not yet returned,
and they had called and hunted for him everywhere. The Russians were
furious, and cried out that we had murdered one of their officers.
I succeeded in quieting them, but my own heart I could not quiet;
it felt convulsively cramped when I heard the name of this missing
officer. Need I name him?"
Elise did not answer. She looked at her father, with tears in her
eyes, and shook her head languidly.
Gotzkowsky continued: "It is the name of a man to whom I formerly
showed much friendship; toward whom I exercised hospitality, and whom
I made free of my house, and who now shows his gratitude by stealing
the heart of my daughter, like a pitiful thief. Oh, do not attempt to
deny this. I know it, Elise; and if I have hitherto avoided speaking
to you about this matter, it was because I had confidence in your
sound sense, and in the purity of heart of a German girl to sustain
you in resisting a feeling which would lead you astray from the path
of duty and honor. I do not say that you loved him, but that he wished
to seduce you into loving him clandestinely, behind your father's
back. That is his gratitude for my hospitality."
Speaking thus, Gotzkowsky pressed his daughter's hand more firmly in
his own, and continued approaching more closely to the door. "Only
think," continued he, "the mad thought crossed my mind--'How if this
man should be rash and foolhardy enough to have gone to my daughter?'
But I forgot to tell you his name. Feodor von Brenda was the name of
the treacherous guest, and Feodor von Brenda was also the name of
the officer who left the commissioner, perhaps in search of some love
adventure. But why do you tremble?" asked he in a loud tone, as her
hand quivered in his.
"I do not tremble, father," replied she, striving for composure.
Gotzkowsky raised his voice still higher till it sounded again.
"Forgive me this suspicion, my daughter. I should have known that,
even if this insolent Russian dared to renew a former acquaintance, my
daughter would never be so mean, never stoop so low as to welcome him,
for a German girl would never throw away her honor on a Russian boor."
"Father," cried Elise, terrified and forgetting all her prudence, "oh,
father! do not speak so loud."
"Not so loud? Why, then, some one can hear us?" asked Gotzkowsky,
pressing the arm of his daughter. "I will speak loud, I will declare
it aloud. He is a scoundrel who conceals himself in a dastardly and
dishonorable manner, instead of defending himself! a coward who would
put the honor of a maiden in the scale against his own miserable life.
No German would do that. Only a Russian would be base enough to hide
himself, instead of defending his life like a man!"
At this moment the door of the bedroom was violently torn open, and
the Russian colonel appeared on the threshold, his cheeks burning and
his eyes flashing with anger.
* * * * *
THE TWO CANNONEERS.
Elise uttered a cry of terror, and stared at her lover with
wide-opened eyes. But Gotzkowsky's countenance was illuminated with a
dark and savage joy. "Ah, at last, then!" said he, letting go the arm
of his daughter, and grasping his sword.
But the colonel advanced proudly and collectedly toward him. "Here am
I, sir," said he; "here am I, to defend myself and avenge an insult."
"I have driven you out of your hiding-place, as the fox draws the
badger out of his kennel," cried Gotzkowsky, with derisive laughter,
purposely calculated to irritate the anger of the young officer to the
The two men stood opposite to each other, and gazed at one another
with faces full of hatred and rage. Elise threw herself between them,
and falling on her knees before her father, exclaimed, "Kill me,
father; save your honor--kill me!"
But Gotzkowsky slung her pitilessly aside. "Away!" cried he, roughly.
"What do you here? Make room for us! Here is a man with whom I can
fight for my honor."
Feodor stepped quickly toward Elise, who was still kneeling on the
floor, wringing her hands, and sobbing from intense pain. He raised
her up, and whispering a few words in her ear, led her to the sofa.
He then turned to Gotzkowsky, and said, "Your honor is pure and
unspotted, sir! Whatever you may think of me, you must respect the
virtue of your daughter. She is innocent."
"Innocent," cried Gotzkowsky derisively, "innocent! why, your very
presence has polluted the innocence of my daughter."
"Father, kill me, but do not insult me!" cried she, a dark glow
suffusing her cheeks.
"Pour out your anger on me," said Feodor ardently. "It is a piece of
barbarism to attack a defenceless girl."
Gotzkowsky laughed out loud and scornfully: "You speak of barbarism,
and you a Russian!"
An exclamation of rage escaped the colonel; he seized his sword and
drawing it quickly advanced toward Gotzkowsky.
"At last!" cried Gotzkowsky, triumphantly, raising his blade. But
Elise, beside herself, and heedless of the flashing steel, threw
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