The Youth of the Great Elector
Part 6 out of 10
was to receive to-day, and this even reconciled the good people a little
to the proud, imperious Count Schwarzenberg.
And now the distinguished guests came riding up. There were the noblemen
from the country round about, in their antiquated, rumbling vehicles,
drawn by beautiful, handsomely harnessed horses. There were the Quitzows,
the Goetzes and Krockows, the Buelows and Arnims, and as often as a carriage
arrived the musicians, stationed on both sides of the palace, blew a
flourishing peal of trumpets, and the noblemen bowed right and left,
greeting, although no one had greeted them except Count Schwarzenberg's
chamberlain, von Lehndorf, who received the guests upon the threshold of
the house. But now resounded a loud shouting and huzzaing, rolling nearer
and ever nearer, like a monstrous wave, and an unusual, joyful movement
pervaded the densely packed mass of men. "They come! they come!" sounded
from mouth to mouth, and small people raised themselves on tiptoe, and
tall ones turned their heads toward the corner of the cathedral square.
Already they saw the foot runner, with his plumed hat and golden staff, as
he came bounding on, then the two foreriders in their bright blue
liveries, with low, round caps upon their heads, and then the electoral
equipage, the great gilded coach of state, drawn by four black horses.
"Who is sitting in the coach of state? Is the Electoral Prince in it? Does
he come in the same carriage with his father?"
The people grew dumb from impatience and expectancy, in the midst of their
cries of joy; they wanted to see! All eyes shone with curiosity as the
equipage rolled on. Over in the park, behind the railing, stood the
drummers, and they began to beat a roll, which the boys riding on the
railing seconded with genuine rapture. The trumpeters blew a flourish,
and now Count Schwarzenberg himself issued from the broad palace door,
followed by his son, the young Count John Adolphus. Ah! how glorious to
behold was the Stadtholder in the Mark in his official costume as Grand
Master of the Order of St. John, his breast quite covered with the stars
of the order, whose gems glittered and sparkled so wondrously; and how
handsome looked the young count, in his white suit of silver brocade, with
puffs of purple velvet, his short, ermine-edged mantle of purple velvet,
confined at the shoulders by clasps. The two counts made haste down the
steps to the equipage. The Stadtholder in his amiable impatience opened
the carriage door himself, and offered the Elector George William both his
hands to assist him in alighting. And now, laboriously, gasping, with
flushed face, and a forced smile upon his lips, the Elector dismounted
from his carriage. Leaning upon his favorite's arm, slowly and clumsily he
moved forward to the house, his stout, lofty form bent, his gait heavy,
and his blue eyes, which were only once turned to the gaping multitude,
sad--oh, so sad! The people looked with pity and compassion upon the poor,
peevish gentleman, who, in spite of the great Prince's star upon his
breast and the Electoral hat with its waving plumes, was not by far so
splendid to behold as the proud, stately Count Adam, who strode along at
While the Stadtholder was conducting the Elector into the palace, the
Electress alighted from the carriage, the two young Princesses following
her. A loud cry of joy and admiration rang out, and called a smile to the
lips of the Electress, a deep blush to the cheeks of the Princesses. The
Electress's robe, with its long train of gold brocade, was wondrous to
behold, and above it the blue velvet mantle with black ermine trimmings;
and how beautifully the diadem of diamonds and sapphires gleamed and
sparkled on the brown hair of the Princess! Again the Stadtholder came out
of the palace with hasty steps, flew to the Electress, and offered her
his arm, to lead her into the palace. Nor need the two Princesses walk
alone behind; they, too, have their knight--young Count Schwarzenberg, who
had received the Electress. He offered his arm to the Princess Charlotte
Louise, which she accepted with a lovely smile and a becoming blush. Ah!
what a handsome couple that was, and how remarkably their dress
corresponded, for the Princess was also dressed in silver brocade, and
from her shoulders fell a mantle of purple velvet edged with ermine. The
little Princess Sophie Hedwig stepped behind her. But who was this young
man, who suddenly stepped forward, made his way through the throng, and
offered her his arm? Nobody had seen him or observed him, and he had come
on foot, accompanied by a single page. Who was this handsome young man, in
light-blue velvet suit, who with the young Princess on his arm mounted the
steps with her, laughing merrily.
"It is he! It is the Electoral Prince! It is Frederick William! Cheers for
our Electoral Prince! Hurrah for Frederick William! Welcome, welcome home!
Long live our Electoral Prince!"
Within the hall, at the window, stood the Elector, and these shouts
emanating from thousands of throats darkened his countenance. The people
had kept silence when their Sovereign showed himself to them, and now they
exulted on seeing his son!
Without, at the head of the steps, stood the Electoral Prince, and the
shouting of so many thousand voices summoned a glad smile to his face. How
handsome he was, and what a happiness it was to look at him! How like a
lion's mane fell his thick, fair brown hair on both sides of his narrow
oval face, how like brilliant stars sparkled his large, dark-blue eyes,
and what bold thoughts were written upon his broad, clear brow! And how
stately and impressive was his figure, too--how slender, and yet how firm
and athletic! Yes, those broad shoulders were well fitted to bear the
burden of government, and behind that breast beat surely a strong, great
"Long live the Electoral Prince! Three cheers! Long live Frederick
He bowed once more, nodding and bestowing kind greetings upon those on
both sides, then entered the palace, followed by his page in black velvet
Who is that page? Nobody observes him, nobody has looked at him. Who
troubles himself about the servant when he looks at the master?--who asks
why the page's face is so pale, why his glance so feverish and restless?
Very few know the court painter Gabriel Nietzel, and those who do know him
will surely never imagine that it is he who to-day acts as page to the
Electoral Prince Frederick William. He mingles with the host of
gold-bedizened servants and lackeys in the entrance hall, and follows them
into the banqueting hall. The doors of the house are closed; for the
gaping crowd without the festival is ended, for the high-born guests
within it is but just begun. The two wings of the doors leading into the
banqueting hall are thrown open by the halberdiers, the musicians in the
gilded balcony to the rear blow a loud, dashing flourish, and the Elector
enters the hall, followed by the Electress, who leans upon the arm of
Count Schwarzenberg. On both sides of the hall stand the lords and ladies
of the nobility, who bow down to the ground, nothing being visible but the
bowed necks of men, the courtesying forms of women--all is reverence,
solemnity, and silence. In the middle of the long table, just before that
immense, solid mirror of Venetian crystal, are the places of the Electoral
pair, as may be seen by those throne-like armchairs, on whose tall,
straight backs is carved a golden crown--as may be seen by the glittering
gold plate of both covers.
How gorgeously is the long table laid, nothing to be seen but gold and
silver plate! In the center is a huge piece of chased silver, representing
Cupids and genii, who in golden shells, cornucopias, and vases offer the
rarest fruits, the most delicious confections! Before each lady's plate,
in wondrously cut goblets, is a magnificent bouquet of flowers; before
each gentleman's, a silver bowl. A gold-bedizened lackey is behind each
chair; two stand behind the chairs of each of their Electoral Highnesses.
"Why stands that page behind the Electoral Prince's chair?" asks the
Stadtholder, loud enough to be heard by the Prince, who is near him.
Frederick William breaks off in the midst of his conversation with the
young Count John Adolphus, and turns smilingly to the Stadtholder.
"Pardon, your grace," says he kindly. "I wished to preserve a memento of
this handsome entertainment, the first entertainment by which my return
home has been solemnized, and with my father's permission I have brought
with me the court painter Gabriel Nietzel, in order that he may look upon
the feast and make a sketch of the scene. Since, of course, he could have
no place at the table, he has assumed a page's garb, that he may have the
privilege of standing behind my chair. I fancy that the vain man would
willingly immortalize himself in that picturesque costume. But as he has
put on a page's clothes, he will also perform a page's part, and I have
therefore at his request consented that he shall wait upon me to-day and
hand me all my food. Does your grace also grant him this upon my bequest?"
"Oh, most gracious Prince, you need never make requests; you have only to
command. Away there, you fellows! away from the Electoral Prince's chair,
vacate your places for the page! Mr. Court Painter Nietzel, take good care
not to be negligent in your duties, to-day be nothing but the Electoral
Prince's page so long as we are at table, afterward you can again be the
The page bowed in silence, and Count Schwarzenberg paid no further
attention to him, but followed the Electoral pair, who were making the
circuit of the hall, here and there addressing a friendly word to some
member of the nobility, sweeping past before an answer could be stammered
forth. The circuit was completed; a thrice repeated nourish of trumpets
resounded; the Chamberlain von Lehndorf rushed to the window, and with a
white handkerchief made a signal down to the pleasure garden. Cannon
thundered forth salutes, informing the town that the Elector had just sat
down to table, that the feast at the house of the Stadtholder in the Mark
A choice, a sumptuous banquet! Delicious viands, splendid wines! Gradually
they forgot a little the requirements of rigid etiquette and pompous
silence; gradually tongues were loosened, and there was talking and
laughing; even the Elector lost his hard, peevish nature, his face glowed
with a brighter hue, his form became more elastic, and cheerful words
sounded from his lips.
A choice, a sumptuous banquet! The Electress laughed, and had totally
forgotten that Count Adam Schwarzenberg, sitting at her side, was her
detested enemy. She chatted as cozily and earnestly with him as if he were
one of her most devoted friends and servants. Opposite her sat her two
daughters, and Princess Charlotte Louise inclined with a pleasant smile
toward Count John Adolphus, who sat beside her, and had just been painting
to her with glowing eloquence the glories of the imperial city, gorgeous
Now his bold glance darted across at the Electoral pair; they were busy
talking and eating; nobody was noticing him.
"Princess, dear, adored Princess, do you hear me when I speak so softly?"
"I hear you, Sir Count."
"Sir Count!" repeated he, sighing. "You retract your word, then? You
thrust me again into the ranks of your court cavaliers and counts? You
have no longer a word of welcome for the poor, pitiable man who worships
you, who is blessed if he can only look at you, only hear the tones of
your sweet voice, and who has been longing for this with desire and
painful rapture for three long months? Not one word of welcome for me?"
"I welcome you--welcome you with my whole heart! Have you only been away
three months? Were they not three years?"
"Seems it so to you, my adored mistress? I believe it was three hundred
years--three eternities. And yet these eternities have not altered your
angelic face. It is still ever radiant in its heavenly, rosy beauty, and
not a feature betrays that you have suffered on my account, that you have
longed for me."
"Then my face belies me, for I have longed for you; therefore the months
lengthened into years, and it seems to me as if I have become a very old,
sedate person since I last saw you."
"Oh, dearest, how I long for one moment of solitary communing with you,
when I can kneel at your feet, cover your hands with kisses, and tell you
how inexpressibly I love you! Be not cruel, Louise, in this hour of
reunion. Tell me that you, too, long for such a moment--that you will
grant it to me."
"And if I should say so, how would it help us? You know well that I am
watched day and night. My mother never lets me leave her side, and our
governess watches over me still, just as if I were a child that could not
walk a step without an attendant, nor write a line without her reading it."
"Ah, you dear, sweet angel! if you only loved me half as ardently as I
love you, your pretty, prudent little head would already have devised some
means whereby poor John Adolphus would not have to plead in vain for one
blissful moment passed alone with you."
"I love you, John Adolphus, but oh, I dare not love you! The wrath of my
mother would be boundless if she even suspected it."
"She need not suspect it beforehand, nor hear anything about it before we
are certain of your father's gracious consent."
"You esteem that possible? You believe that my father will ever consent
"For you to condescend to become my wife? I hope so--hope that the
Emperor's favor exalts me a little, so that the chasm which separates us
is not too great for you to cross, for you to carry in your bosom a strong
heart and a true love. About all these things I must speak with you,
sweetest Princess, for here we must be cautious. Only see with what
earnest looks the Electress is already regarding us! Be pitiful, Louise;
tell me that you will consent to meet me alone for one quarter of an hour."
"Pass by the cathedral, then, to-morrow about ten o'clock of the forenoon.
Old Trude will be there and have a message for you, and--"
"Long live our most gracious Sovereign! Long live George William!" cried
Count Schwarzenberg, rising from his seat and holding the golden bumper
aloft in his right hand.
All the guests started from their seats, and joined in the shouts: "Long
live our most gracious Sovereign! Long live George William!" And the
golden goblets clashed against one another, and the trumpets and
kettledrums chimed in with crashing peals.
The Electoral Prince, too, would rise from his seat, but his head swam,
all was whirls and turns before his eyes, and he sank back upon his chair.
Gabriel Nietzel stooped over him. "How are you, gracious sir? Are you not
"Quite well as yet, Gabriel. Only give me a fresh glass of water and put
some sugar in it."
Gabriel Nietzel flew to the sideboard, and, while he filled a glass with
water, his pale lips murmured, "Your evil genius bade you say that!" And
while he shook into the glass the white pulverized sugar, which, by the
way, he had not taken from the bowl standing on the sideboard, in the
depths of his heart he whispered, "Rebecca, this I do for you!"
He took up the tall tumbler and presented it to the Electoral Prince.
Frederick William seized the glass and drank, in long draughts. It had
done him good, his head was easy again, there was no longer such a fearful
roaring in his ears.
George William's countenance glowed and his eyes burned. He loved the
pleasures of the table, and the wine was costly and had driven all ill
humor from his heart. He now felt quite comfortable, quite happy, and bent
friendly glances across upon his son, who was so splendid, so glorious to
look upon, and the sight of whom, although he would probably not
acknowledge it to himself, rejoiced his father's heart.
Frederick William had just removed the great goblet from his lips, and
placed it half full upon the table. The Elector saw it, the cold liquor
looked inviting, and at the same time he would give his son a public token
of his kindly disposition: all the guests must see how high in his favor
stood the Electoral Prince.
"You drink water, my son?" he asked. "That is wise and prudent, and
deserves to be imitated at this table of reveling. I will follow your
example, Frederick William. Hand your glass across the table to me, son."
The Electoral Prince hastily rose from his seat, and tried to hand the
glass to his father; but his hand trembled so violently that he could not
hold the glass; it escaped from his hands, and fell with a crash upon the
The Electress uttered a piercing cry, the Princesses shrieked aloud. The
music stopped in the midst of a strain commenced, the guests interrupted
their conversation, and all eyes were directed to the middle of the table,
where the Electoral family was seated. What did it mean? Prince Frederick
William rose from his seat. His countenance was pale as death, but he
still tried to keep a smile upon his lips. He bowed across the table to
his father. "Your pardon, sir. Permit me to absent myself, for I am not
"Go, my son!" exclaimed George William. "That comes from not being
accustomed to strong Hungarian wine!" And the Elector turned, laughing, to
his wife, who glanced anxiously at her son. "Your wise son," said he, "has
learned everything, only he has not learned to drink. He has not been
taught that in your uncle's polite and polished court, and we must supply
their negligence here."
The Electoral Prince reeled through the hall, waving off all who
approached him or offered him assistance. "It is nothing, nothing at all,"
he said with cheerful, broken voice. "I have taken a little cold. Let me
get away unnoticed."
All kept their seats, as the Prince desired, and as the Elector required
by tarrying himself at the table. Only the Stadtholder, in his capacity of
host, had risen from the table to offer his guidance to the Electoral
Prince. He approached him, proffering the support of his arm.
"Will your highness do me the honor to rest upon my arm, and permit me to
escort you to your carriage?"
The Electoral Prince shuddered, and, suddenly lifting his head, flashed an
angry glance from his already clouded eyes into the proud, composed
countenance of the count. But it quickly vanished, Frederick William
accepted Schwarzenberg's proffered arm, and, leaning upon him, tottered
out of the hall into the antechamber. His countenance was deadly pale,
dark circles were under his eyes, his lips were colorless, his eyes
bloodshot. But still he maintained his erect position by mere force of
will, and even controlled himself so far as to smile and address a few
friendly words to the count.
"My heavens, noble sir!" cried Schwarzenberg, with an expression of
painful horror, "this is more than a mere passing indisposition. You are
really sick--you are suffering!"
"Not so, count. I am not suffering at all, and it is only a trifling
ailment. My father is quite right--the strong wine has mounted to my head.
I am not used to drinking and feasting, that is all. To-morrow
will--Count, I beg you to lead me to my carriage. It is dark before my
And the Prince sank back groaning and half unconscious. The count beckoned
the princely Chamberlain von Goetz to approach, and the two gentlemen,
aided by a few lackeys, bore the Prince carefully out to the carriage.
Then Frederick William opened his eyes, his wandering glance strayed
around, and his lips stammered softly: "Where is Gabriel Nietzel? Is he
But Gabriel Nietzel was nowhere to be seen; only the Chamberlain von Goetz
was there, and he got into the carriage, which bore the deadly sick Prince
at full gallop to the palace.
Count Schwarzenberg looked after the retreating vehicle with earnest,
thoughtful face, then turned to re-enter the palace. On the threshold
stood Gabriel Nietzel, and the eyes of the two men met in one glance of
awe and horror.
"Your grace sees I have kept my word," murmured Gabriel Nietzel.
"Away!" commanded the count imperiously. "If you are not out of Berlin in
one hour I shall have you arrested by the police, and accuse you as the
murderer of the Electoral Prince, for you alone waited upon him! Be off!"
But Gabriel Nietzel stirred not from the threshold, and the look which he
fixed upon the count was not humble and reverential, but threatening.
"Sir," asked he shortly and harshly--"sir, where are Rebecca and my child?"
"At your lodgings, you fool! Hurry, I tell you!" And with ungentle hand
the count thrust the painter from the door, and returned to the banqueting
hall to inform the Elector and his spouse with smiling, almost mocking
gesture, that the young gentleman himself had said that the strong wine
had slightly affected his head, and produced a temporary indisposition.
The Elector laughed aloud, and the anxious brow of the Electress cleared
up again. The entertainment quietly proceeded.
Why should they be uneasy about the young gentleman, who had no other
sufferings than those resulting from unwonted indulgence in strong drink?
The Electoral Prince had meanwhile arrived with his chamberlain at the
castle. No one came to meet them. All the servants had dispersed hither
and thither, in pursuit of their own business or enjoyments. They knew,
indeed, that Count Schwarzenberg's feast would be continued to a late
hour of the night, and who could imagine that the Electoral Prince would
return home in so unexpected a manner? The castle was deserted, and the
chamberlain must needs summon to his aid the sentinel who was pacing up
and down before the castle, in order to lift the Prince from his carriage
and into the entrance hall. Now he called aloud for help, since the Prince
had become perfectly helpless, and lay senseless upon the stone bench in
The porter, who was only asleep in his lodge, rushed out, and old
Dietrich, the valet, also came hurrying down the steps.
They bore the Prince to his own apartments, put him to bed upon his own
couch, and, as the Chamberlain von Goetz saw the old faithful Dietrich
standing beside his young master, sobbing and so full of grief, he kindly
laid his hand upon his shoulder.
"It is nothing of moment, good old man. The Prince has only taken too much
wine, that is all. Be comforted. To-morrow will make all straight again."
Dietrich sorrowfully shook his head. "You are mistaken, Sir Chamberlain;
this is not the effect of wine. The Electoral Prince is much too fine and
noble a gentleman for that; he never drinks more than he can stand. Just
see how pale and wretched he looks. My dear young master is sick, very
sick. They have murdered him, they have killed him, they--"
"Hush, Dietrich, for God's sake, hush!" interposed the chamberlain,
turning pale. "Guard your tongue, that it never again utter such horrible
words; guard your thoughts, that they dare not even think anything so
"It is true, nevertheless," murmured the old man, and, as he bent over the
Electoral Prince and watched him with loving looks, the tears fell hot and
fast from his eyes upon Frederick William's pale face. These tears roused
the latter, restored him to consciousness.
There was yet one man who loved him, who sympathized with him, who wept
when he saw him suffer!
The Electoral Prince opened his eyes, and, on recognizing old Dietrich,
nodded to him and murmured softly, "Dietrich, I am suffering fearfully."
"Hear, Sir Chamberlain," said Dietrich; "the dear Prince recognizes me, he
has his reason, he knows what he sees and says, so you see it is not wine
that--But he says that he suffers fearfully, and I believe it indeed; for
what burns his vitals is--I must go for the physician, Dr. White; he must
try every means; he must know what ails the Prince--what they have done to
him; and he must apply remedies. Stay here, Sir Chamberlain; I will run
for Dr. White."
And old Dietrich hastily started to leave the couch, but the Prince's hand
was laid upon his arm, and held him fast.
"Stay, Dietrich, stay! You, dear Goetz, go you, I beg, for Dr. White and
fetch him here; he must come immediately, for I am really sick. I suffer.
Make haste, dear Goetz. You are younger, brisker than my good old Dietrich;
therefore I choose you."
The chamberlain pressed a kiss upon the Prince's burning, trembling hand.
"Dearest sir, as swiftly as a man's anxious heart can move his feet I
shall hasten to the doctor and bring him here!"
The chamberlain flew on tiptoe from the apartment, and all was still.
Nothing was heard but the low moans and sighs of the Prince, who lay there
with pallid features and shaking limbs, while over him bent weeping his
faithful old servant.
After a while the Prince raised himself a little, slowly opened his eyes,
and cast a sad, sweeping glance around the room.
"Dietrich, are we alone?" he asked, in a hoarse, almost inaudible voice.
"Quite alone, gracious sir."
"Then hear what I have to say to you. Incline your ear close to me, for
you alone must hear me. When the physician comes, take good care not to
repeat to him what you said just now to the chamberlain. He and all the
world must think that it is actually nothing but wine which has made me
sick. He will prescribe medicine for me. Have it prepared forthwith. You
alone must stay with me. Tell them I have ordered it, and Goetz must return
to the banquet and tell them it was nothing but wine. Dietrich, do not
give me the medicine, but throw it away. There is only one kind of physic
for me--milk, only milk, that is my cordial. Give me milk, Dietrich, milk
directly, for the pains are coming on again, so dreadfully, oh, so
dreadfully! But do not tell anybody. Nobody must know what I suffer! It
burns like fire! Milk, Dietrich, milk!"
As if borne on the wings of the wind, Gabriel Nietzel had flown through
the streets to his own abode. It lay in a quiet, retired quarter of the
town, and, as he turned into the street and looked up to the house, he saw
leaning far out of one of the windows a woman, who, her face shaded by her
hand, was gazing down into the street. He recognized the form, although he
could not see her countenance, and uttered a loud cry of joy. This cry of
joy found an echo in the window above, and the form vanished. Gabriel
Nietzel rushed into the house and up the steps. On the top step stood a
woman with outstretched arms, and again Gabriel uttered a cry of joy and
pressed his wife firmly to his breast, as firmly as if he would never let
her leave the spot, as if his love would keep and hold her there forever.
He bore her through the open door into their chamber, bore her to the
cradle standing in the center of the room, and then sank with her on his
They looked at one another, and then at the child, which lay there quietly
with wide-open eyes, in sweet contentment.
"My child! my child!" cried Gabriel; and it was as if now for the first
time he saw his boy, as if he had but just been sent him by Heaven, and
for a moment, in the blissful consciousness of being a father, he forgot
all--yes, _all_. He snatched up the child and hugged and kissed it, lost
in rapture and delight. But all at once there came over him the memory of
those pale, quivering features, the dimmed eyes, and drooping form. A
shudder ran through his whole frame; with a shriek of horror he let the
child fall back in its cradle, and clasped both hands before his face.
Rebecca tore back his hands, and her large black eyes gazed searchingly
into his countenance. She now for the first time saw how pale he was, and
how disturbed his mien. She now for the first time saw that he avoided her
look, and that his breast heaved convulsively.
"Gabriel," she said, with firm, impressive voice--"Gabriel, something is
the matter with you! Something has happened to you--something shocking,
"Nothing!" he cried, hastily leaping up--"nothing! But we must begone! We
are to stay here no longer. We must away immediately--this very hour!"
"I know it," replied Rebecca quietly, her eyes fixed immovably upon her
beloved--"I know it, Gabriel, and I have prepared everything, as Count
Schwarzenberg himself directed. I have been in Berlin ever since this
morning, but feared to come here until you had gone to the banquet. I
have made all needful arrangements. I have hired a vehicle, which is
waiting for us outside the Willow-bank Gate. The count says we are to go
on foot; that no one in the city must see you set out, and give
intelligence with regard to your movements. Since you have been gone I
have packed up all our effects in boxes, and our kind, faithful friend
Samuel Cohen will send them after us to Venice. What is indispensable for
present use I have packed up in yonder trunk, which we must take with us.
All is ready, Gabriel, and we can go. Only one thing I know not, have you
money enough for our journey?"
[Illustration: The Jewess in her Bridal Dress]
"Money enough!" repeated Gabriel, with a hoarse, mocking laugh. "I have
more money in my pocket than I ever had in my whole life put together. I
have so much money that we can buy a house in Venice, on the Ghetto; and
we shall, too, and I will live there with you, and will become a Jew, and
take another name, for my own name horrifies me. I will not, can not hear
"Why not?" asked she earnestly. "It is a fine name--the name of a painter,
an artist. Why would you never again hear your own name, Gabriel Nietzel?"
"Because it is notorious, infamous!" groaned he--"because it is the name
"Well, why do you hesitate, Gabriel?" asked Rebecca in anguish of soul,
while she laid both her hands upon his shoulders, and gazed upon him with
wistful glances. He would have avoided her eyes, but could not; his looks
must sink deep into those glittering, black eyes. Deep they looked, deep
as the sea, and he thought to himself that a secret could be buried there,
and rest secure in the bottom of her heart.
"Gabriel Nietzel," asked Rebecca, in a voice at once threatening and
tender--"Gabriel Nietzel, what have you done? What lies heavy upon your
"Nothing, my Rebecca, nothing! Ask no questions! We must begone! Make
haste, dearest, take the child, and come; for if we do not hurry, we are
She slowly shook her noble, graceful head and stirred not from her place.
She kept Gabriel in his with her hands, which she pressed more firmly upon
"Gabriel, my dear, precious Gabriel, what have you done? Tell me. I demand
to know it as my right. When we were married on the Lido, in the solemn
stillness of the night, when we joined hands, and both swore in the
presence of your and my God that we would ever love one another, and that
death alone should part us, when you said, 'I take you to be my wife,' and
I said, 'I take you to be my husband,' then we likewise swore that we
would live truly and confidentially with one another, and have no secrets
from each other. Gabriel, fulfill now your oath. I demand it of you, by
the memory of that hour, by my love for you, by our child. Gabriel, what
have you done?"
"I can not tell it, and you may not hear it, Rebecca. For, once uttered,
that word will be a two-edged sword, and plunge us both in misery and
"Shame! There is no shame for the Jewess! Misery! Tell me a form of misery
which I have not suffered and endured from childhood up! My mother was
stabbed in Venice by a nobleman because she would not break her faith with
my father and desert him. My father was known as a sorcerer and vender of
poisons. The noblemen used secretly to resort by night to our wretched
house upon the Ghetto, and paid him great sums for his drugs, but if he
showed himself upon the streets by day, the populace hooted and cast
stones after him. And when they saw me, they hissed and mocked, bestowing
opprobrious epithets upon me, and even went out of the way to avoid the
contamination of my touch, for I was the daughter of a poisoner, a secret
bravo--I was a Jewess! But when I was grown, then the young noblemen came
to my father, not merely for the sake of his drugs and medicines, but
also--hush! Not a breath of it! You were my deliverer--my savior! You
rescued me from all distress; you were to me as the Messiah, in whom my
people have hoped for a thousand years. I followed you, and I shall go
with you my whole life long--go with you to the scaffold, if needs be. I
know it, Gabriel, I read it in your countenance; you have committed a
"A crime! A fearful crime!" said he, shuddering. "Turn your head away,
Rebecca, I am not worthy that you should look upon me!"
"I do look upon you, Gabriel, I condemn you not. I am thinking of what we
said to one another in the count's picture gallery. I called to you to
rescue me at any price. I told you that if I could purchase deliverance
thereby, I was ready to commit a crime. That to be with you again I would
abjure the faith of my fathers, although I knew I should die of penitence
after the perpetration of such a crime."
"And I replied to you, Rebecca, that I, too, was ready to perpetrate a
crime for the sake of rescuing you and calling you my own again, and that
I would not die of penitence."
"And yet you do repent, Gabriel, you shudder at yourself for you have done
it, you have committed a crime. I will have my share in it, half of it
belongs to me. In the sight of God, I am your wife, and you have sworn to
share everything with me. Then divide with me, Gabriel; I claim my right.
Share with me your crime, or I shall think that you love me no more, and
then I shall go away, and you will never see me more."
"I do love you, Rebecca--I do love you! For your sake I have become a
criminal, a murderer! I have purchased you at the price of my soul! Lay
your ear close to my mouth, and I will tell you my dreadful secret:
Rebecca, I am a murderer, a cursed murderer! I have committed a murder,
which will cry out to Heaven against me as long as I live; for him whom I
have murdered had never done me harm, but only good, and he confided in
me, and trusted to my faith. Rebecca, I am cursed, and my name will be a
byword in the mouths of men while books of history last. Rebecca, I have
poisoned the Electoral Prince Frederick William!"
She uttered a piercing shriek, and fell back, as if struck by a
"The Electoral Prince Frederick William! Not Count Schwarzenberg! The
noble youth; not that detested evildoer, not him, who has deserved death a
"He had not merely my life in his power, but yours and our child's. It
would have profited me nothing to murder him; we should only all three
have been irretrievably lost. I was forced to obey his orders--to perform
the horrible deed--in order to save you and myself."
Rebecca pressed both hands tightly across her brow, and stared long at
vacancy. "He must be saved!" she said. Then, after a pause, in a tone of
firm determination, "Yes, he must be saved!"
"What could we do to save him?" sighed Gabriel hopelessly. "Nothing! You
know your father's drugs are subtle, and never fail in their effects!"
"You administered to him some of the medicine which my father presented
you with?" asked she, with a wondrous gleam of light in her black eyes.
"Yes, I gave him some. You know when we took leave of your father he
handed me three boxes as a keepsake, saying that they were the only dowry
he could give me with you, but that many a prince would pay us immense
sums for them, if we should sell them to him for his dear relations; for
in these boxes were the deadliest poisons, leaving behind not a trace of
their existence. The contents of one box causes instantaneous death, and
he therefore called it 'the apoplexy powder.' The contents of the second
box killed more slowly, and prolonged the patient's life ten or twelve
days; therefore he called it 'the inflammatory powder.' The third powder,
however, because it works slowest of all, he called 'the consumptive
"And of which powder did you give to the Electoral Prince?" asked Rebecca
"Of the inflammatory powder, for it was least dangerous to us."
"Did the Prince drink the whole potion poured out for him?"
"No, he only drank half, and when he tried to hand it to his father, who
asked for it, the glass fell from his trembling hands, and its contents
were spilled upon the table."
"Therefore the Prince only took half a powder?"
"Only half. But still he must die, for your father told me one pinch would
produce death; and I gave him two, that the count might see its effects."
Rebecca did not reply. She had sunk upon her knees and folded her hands.
Her lips moved as if in silent prayer.
"What think you?" asked Gabriel Nietzel, after a pause. "Why do you not
speak to me? Do you despise me, because I have confessed my crime to you?
Do you turn away from the poisoner, the murderer?"
"No," said she, suddenly drawing herself up erect. "No, I do not despise
you, but I love you, and because I love you I will not that you should be
a criminal. Had you poisoned the count, then I should have said, 'You have
accomplished a good work. God has killed him by your hand; you are nothing
more than the executioner, who has inflicted merited death upon the
wicked, and has rid the world of him. Lift up your head and be joyful, for
you were a tool in God's hand!' But you have poisoned a noble, good man,
the son of your benefactress, and his death would cry out against you, and
our child would be punished for the crime of his father. 'For I am a God
of vengeance,' says the Lord, 'and I will visit the sins of the fathers
upon the children unto the third and fourth generation.' I love you,
Gabriel, and no sin or crime could separate me from you; for have you not
taken to your heart the daughter of a criminal, and sinned for her sake?
But our child shall not suffer for what his parents have done. The God of
our fathers shall not take vengeance on our child, the sun and happiness
shall shine upon him; for we, Gabriel, we have known night and misfortune,
and tasted all the bitterness of life. Gabriel, our child must be free
from stain of guilt or crime, and therefore must the Electoral Prince be
"Say how can it be done, show me a way to save him!"
"I know the way, and I will take it. I would save you and the child from
bloodguiltiness and sin. Swear to me, Gabriel, that you will do what I
shall require of you. Think of that hour upon the Lido when I gave myself
to you. Think of the hour when this child was born, and I laid it in your
arms and said: 'Take it. It is a gift of my love. Take the child with whom
God has blessed us, and pronounced us pure!' And you swore to me with
tears that you would be a faithful father to our child all his life, and
shield him as far as in you lay from all the pains of earth. By the memory
of that oath I now require you, Gabriel Nietzel, to lay your hand upon my
child's head, and solemnly swear to me, by God, by our child, and by your
love for me, to do exactly what I shall now demand of you."
With reverential, timid admiration Gabriel Nietzel looked into Rebecca's
countenance, which was beaming with energy and beauty. He could not turn
away his glance from her, for it seemed as if his inmost soul was held
spellbound by her large, flaming eyes, resting fixedly upon him. Ever
looking at Rebecca, he laid his hand upon the head of the child that lay
slumbering in the cradle, and said in a distinct, solemn voice: "I swear
by God, by our child, and by my love for you, Rebecca, that I shall do
exactly what you will require of me."
She nodded her head as proudly and gravely as if she had been a queen, who
had just received the homage of her vassal.
"Listen then, Gabriel," she said. "You take the trunk, I take the child,
and let us be going, for the wagon is waiting for us outside the
Willow-bank Gate, as you know. Do not speak to me by the way, for I have
still much to plan and ponder. Time does not stand still, and every moment
increases the Prince's peril. If help does not reach him to-night, then is
he lost beyond hope of recovery. Come!"
Already a question was trembling on Gabriel Nietzel's lips. He wished to
ask, "Can he by any possibility be saved?" But she had said, "Do not speak
to me," and, obedient to his oath, he remained dumb, took up the trunk,
and followed Rebecca, who had tenderly lifted the child from its crib and
had just gone out of the door. Swiftly they passed side by side through
the streets, which were still deserted, for all loungers and street idlers
were still tarrying in Broad Street or on the castle square. Many a time
Gabriel cast a look of questioning entreaty upon Rebecca, but she saw it
not; she seemed to see nothing whatever, for her eyes were gazing afar
off; like a somnambulist, she strode along, and even when the baby in her
arms began to cry she took no notice of it, nor sought to comfort it with
tender, soothing words. At last they had passed the gate behind the willow
bank, and found themselves without the city. There stood the wagon waiting
for them, covered with a tilt of gray canvas. The Jewish boy who sat on
the back seat under the canvas awning had fallen asleep, resting his head
against the great wooden arch to which the cover was secured. The two lean
little horses were greedily eating of the oats in the dirty bags around
their necks. Not a creature was to be seen. The wretched conveyance had
excited no attention whatever, and caused not a single passer-by to pause.
Rebecca stepped up to the wagon and gently laid the child in the straw
with which the vehicle was filled. Then, with a silent wave of the hand,
she ordered Gabriel to set down the trunk he was carrying. He did so, and
Rebecca took a key out of her pocket, knelt down before the trunk, and
sought hither and thither among its contents. First she took from the
bottom of the trunk a packet with five seals, and, as she hastily stuck it
in her bosom, her eye was uplifted to heaven with a glance of glowing
gratitude. Then she took out a white dress and a long white veil,
carefully concealing these things under the great black mantle which
enveloped her figure. Finally, she locked the trunk and handed the key to
"Place the trunk gently in the wagon, so as not to wake the child," she
said. Gabriel silently obeyed, and then, standing on the footboard of the
wagon, reached down his hand to her, as if he would ask her to follow.
She shook her head quickly. "Come, Gabriel," said she, "come, let us step
across and talk under yon tree. The child sleeps and David Cohen sleeps,
too. Nobody hears us. Come."
With hasty steps they crossed over to the great linden tree which stood at
the side of the road. The birds sang and hopped about amid its dense
foliage, and the hot sunbeams drew forth the most delicious fragrance from
the blossoms with which each branch was laden. But the pair who walked up
and down under the tree heeded neither the singing of the birds nor the
perfume of the flowers. They were alone with one another and the sad,
gloomy thoughts with which both their souls were filled.
"Gabriel," said Rebecca, recovering breath, "I will go to free you from
the stain of blood, for if it remain it would not merely poison the
Electoral Prince but your whole life. My father gave you only the half of
my dowry, as he called it. The other half he retained and gave me. After
he had presented you with the poison, and I was alone with him in his
chamber, he held out to me the sacred volume, and required me to take
three oaths, by the memory of my murdered mother and by the hatred and
revenge which we had sworn to the whole world upon her beloved body.
First, I must swear that I would never abjure the faith of my fathers and
become a Christian. Secondly, I must swear that I would rear the child
that God would give me in our own religion, and never while I lived
consent to its being made a Christian. Thirdly, I must swear to preserve
the sealed packet he intrusted to me as my greatest treasure, my most
precious possession, and only to tell you of it in case of the most
extreme danger and necessity; that I was only to make use of the contents
to purchase wealth or happiness. 'I have given death into your dear
Gabriel's hand,' he said, 'into your hand, my daughter, I give life, and
surely that is something much more rare and precious. He has the poisons;
I give you the antidotes. They are worth tons of gold; they are my most
precious treasure, and twenty years have I labored ere I discovered them.
When I succeeded, I thanked God for this glorious discovery, and then
thrice I swore upon the sacred volume, with my face turned to the East and
with loud voice, that never should a Christian obtain these priceless
antidotes through me, that never would I impart knowledge of them to a
Christian. I will keep my oath, and divulge the holy secret only to you,
my Rebecca. Guard it in your bosom under three sacred seals, and only in
the most perilous hour of your life break the seal, which I herewith lay
upon your lips. But never may you transfer this precious treasure to other
hands; no Christian may ever touch it. Would you save life, then you must
do it yourself, and only from your own hands may the one smitten with
death receive life.'
"Those were the words spoken by my father, when he handed me the sealed
packet. Then he instructed me how to apply the contents, and what I would
have to do in order to render ineffective the three poisons given you.
'Only,' said he to me,' the antidote must be administered before
four-and-twenty hours have elapsed since the poison was swallowed, and
then, still twenty-four hours later, the antidote must be used for the
second time.' Gabriel, my best-beloved, now is the most perilous hour of
my life, and I have loosened the seal which my father pressed upon my
lips. I have the antidote for the inflammatory powder."
"Ah, Rebecca, and you will give it to me?" asked Gabriel, seizing both her
hands and looking into her lovely face with beaming eyes.
She slowly and solemnly shook her head. "You are a Christian," she said.
"I have sworn to my father that no Christian should touch the precious
treasure, that no hands but my own should apply the remedy he intrusted to
me. Gabriel, out of love for me you gave the Prince into the jaws of
death. Out of love for you I shall restore him to life."
"Rebecca!" he cried, "how will you do it--how can you accomplish it? Only
from your hands the Prince is to receive life? That means, you will
yourself apply the remedy? You will go to him? You would return to the
city, venture into the castle? Know you not that Schwarzenberg has his
spies everywhere; that every lackey in the castle is bribed by him and in
his interests; that he knows what happens there night and day? Do you not
know that, Rebecca? Did you not yourself often tell me so, when you
visited the castellan's wife, who loved you, because she, too, was a
Venetian, and could speak her native language with you. Did she not tell
you in confidence that Count Schwarzenberg was her real lord and master,
and that she herself every morning repeated to the count's secretary all
that came under her observation in the castle? And now would you venture
into that castle, that den of lions!"
"Did not Daniel venture into the lion's den, and the wild beasts touched
him not?" cried she. "Why should I fear, since my work is holy and pure as
"I shall not suffer it. I shall cling to you and hold you back."
"Gabriel Nietzel, bethink you of the oath you swore upon our child's head.
You will do what I require of you! This you swore. Will you break your
"No, Rebecca," he said mournfully. "Command--I shall obey."
"I shall return to the city," continued Rebecca. "Old Benjamin Cohen will
hospitably entertain me and provide me with a safe hiding place. By night
I shall go to the castle, and make sure that no one will detain me, no one
will recognize me, and that Count Schwarzenberg's spies shall not report
that Rebecca Nietzel was in the castle and in the Prince's room. The dress
which I shall assume will be a certain protection; trust to me and ask no
questions. I know every door and inlet to the castle, for the castellan's
wife often showed me through the palace, and stairs and corridors, secret
doors and passages are all familiar to me. I know a little door on the
Spree side, which is never locked, because nobody knows of its existence,
or would regard it, for it only leads to a little niche; and that a secret
door is concealed within this niche, not even the castellan's wife herself
knows. I discovered it one day, when I had lost my way in the castle, and
was wandering in distress through the corridors. I said nothing about my
discovery, and now I shall profit by it to gain safe access and to go out
again. The next day I shall spend in concealment at Benjamin Cohen's, and
at night I shall go again to the palace, for the dose must be repeated.
Twice in the course of forty-eight hours must it be administered, if life
is to vanquish death. When I leave the castle the second night, my work
will be done, for crime will be taken away from our heads, and our child
will not have to suffer for the sins of its parents. Then, my Gabriel,
then we shall return to my beautiful home, then shall we be free and
happy! Think of that, my beloved, and let us patiently bear what must be
"I will think of that, Rebecca. But tell me, what shall I do?--how shall I
pass the long, dreary days of our separation? Do not be cruel. Let me
return to the city with you. Benjamin Cohen will furnish a safe retreat
for me and the child, as well as for yourself. I swear to you that I will
keep myself concealed in the cellar, under the roof, anywhere you will,
only let me go with you!"
"It can not be. The child's life must not be endangered, nor yours either,
that I may maintain the courage needful for action. Consider your oath,
and do what I require. Now get into the wagon without delay. David is a
good driver, and perfectly devoted to us. Travel day and night until you
reach Brandenburg. There dwells a brother of Benjamin, little David
Cohen's uncle. At his house remain in retirement until I join you, and, O
Gabriel! then we shall set out together."
"Rebecca, I can not, indeed I can not leave you!"
"You must, for your crime must be expiated. Think, Gabriel, a long life of
happiness lies before us. Let us courageously pass through the last cloud
of evil, for beyond is day, beyond is the sun, beyond is Italy, the land
of love and art! Now let us part, dearest. Farewell, till we meet again in
"Can you, Rebecca, can you so suddenly leave me and be parted from me?"
"I never leave you, for my soul is ever with you. No leave-takings,
Gabriel; they make us weak, and sternly I must go to meet stern fate. Give
me your hand. Farewell! Above lives a God for all men. He will protect
"Rebecca, only give me one parting kiss!"
"I shall kiss you when atonement has been made--nor until then shall I
kiss our child again! Know this, Gabriel, that my love for you is eternal,
it will abide even unto the end of the world! Now, let us part. Hark! the
child cries. He calls for his father. Go to him, Gabriel, and tell our
child that his mother loves you both more than her own life! Go!"
He tried once more to seize her hand and embrace her. She waved him back,
and with an imperious movement pointed to the wagon.
"Remember your oath, Gabriel; you must do what I require of you," she said
"But just tell me one thing, Rebecca," implored he humbly. "When shall we
"In four or five days, Gabriel. Stay quietly at Brandenburg, and wait for
me there eight days. If by that time I have not come to you at
Brandenburg, consider it as a sign that I have chosen some other route, to
escape the anger and pursuit of Count Schwarzenberg, and that I have
forborne to communicate with you lest I should be betrayed. Then travel
with the child to Venice, making all possible speed. I shall join you on
the way; but if I can not, then we shall meet again in safety at my
father's house in Venice."
"Rebecca, it is impossible; I can not--"
"Hush!" interrupted she; "the child cries still, and David Cohen, too, is
She quickly stepped toward the vehicle and nodded to the little coachman,
who was sleepily rubbing his eyes.
"Here we are, David," she said. "Now prove yourself a brave boy and do
honor to your father's spirit. Drive boldly, but take care not to meet
with accidents, and make for Brandenburg without delay."
"I promised dad, God bless him, that I would not know rest or repose,
hunger or sleep, until we reached Brandenburg!" cried the boy, cracking
his whip. "Get in, I will drive you to Brandenburg."
"Get in, Gabriel," said Rebecca to Nietzel, who stood at the wagon door,
looking at her with wistful, melancholy air. She shook her head as a
negative answer to the dumb questioning of his eyes, and only repeated,
"Get in, Gabriel!"
He jumped into the wagon, but, as he did so, leaned forward and stretched
out his hands to her.
"Forward, David, forward!" commanded Rebecca. David whipped up his horses,
and set off at full gallop.
"Be quick, David, for I must begone!"
David Cohen gave the little horses a sharp blow across their heads,
causing them to bound forward in wild impatience. Rebecca gazed after
them, breathless, with staring eyes. When the vehicle had disappeared from
sight she pressed both hands before her eyes, and a sob and a groan
escaped her breast. Soon, however, she resumed her self-control.
"If I weep I am lost," she said, lifting up her head. "I have a difficult
task to perform, and tears make one faint-hearted and cowardly. I shall
not weep, at least not now. When my work of expiation is accomplished,
when it has succeeded, then I shall weep. And they will be tears of joy!
Jehovah! Almighty! stand by me, that I may weep such tears to-morrow
night! And now to work! to work!"
She turned, and with quiet, firm steps proceeded to the city.
X.--THE WHITE LADY.
Dietrich had faithfully obeyed the Electoral Prince's orders. The
physician in ordinary, Dr. White, had come, felt the sick man's pulse, and
smiled upon being told that the Prince had been taken sick at Count
"We know all about such sicknesses," he said, shrugging his shoulders.
"His highness the Elector suffered from such attacks in earlier days, but
he has inured himself against them now."
"But his grace seems to be really sick," remarked the chamberlain. "Only
see, doctor, how pale he is! Cold sweat is standing on his brow, and he
"Yes, yes, he undoubtedly has pain," said the physician gravely. "Such
instances occur after a rich feast, where they eat many things together,
and drink besides. I shall prescribe a composing draught for his grace,
which must be administered regularly every fifteen minutes."
And the physician repaired to the Prince's cabinet adjoining his sleeping
room, to write his prescription. Chamberlain von Goetz gazed gloomily upon
the sick man, who just at this moment uttered a loud scream, and with
outstretched arms and clinched hands tossed restlessly about. Old Dietrich
bent over him and wiped the perspiration from his forehead.
"He is really very sick," murmured the chamberlain. "There is nothing for
it but to stay here. He must not be left alone."
"No, Herr von Goetz," said Dietrich, his old face looking perfectly
tranquil and composed--"no; the Prince ordered me to desire you to return
immediately to the party, and not to tarry longer here. My young master
condescendingly owned to me himself that it was actually the strong
Hungarian wine which had occasioned his sickness, and therefore his
highness wishes the Chamberlain von Goetz to return forthwith to the party,
that his gracious mother may not be made uneasy, and imagine that her son
is seriously sick. The Electoral Prince's orders are that you say to his
mother that perhaps he may return himself to the entertainment this
evening, and that she must not allow herself to be at all anxious, for he
will certainly be well again to-morrow."
"That is a fine errand," exclaimed the chamberlain, "and the Electress
will be much comforted by such a message. But, nevertheless, I can not
possibly leave the Electoral Prince alone for the whole evening."
"He is not alone, for I am with him," replied Dietrich, shaking his head.
"I, too, am a man, Chamberlain von Goetze, and such my gracious young
master esteems me, for he gave express orders that I alone should stay
with him, and that nobody else should be admitted until early to-morrow
morning. His grace would sleep soundly he said, and rest was the best
medicine for him."
"But he must take the medicine that the doctor prescribes for him," said
the chamberlain earnestly. "You must insist that the Electoral Prince take
his medicine regularly."
"Dismiss all anxiety, Herr von Goetz," replied Dietrich solemnly; "I shall
see to it that the Prince regularly takes the medicine he needs."
"Here is the prescription!" called out the doctor, entering the chamber
and holding out a long strip of paper. "Hurry with it to the apothecary,
for I fear its preparation may occasion some little delay, since it is a
nice and particular recipe, and consists of fourteen component parts. But
it will surely work a cure and afford his highness relief. I shall come
again this evening and see how my exalted patient is getting on."
And the medical gentleman left the room, followed by the Chamberlain von
"You think then, doctor," asked the latter outside in the passage, "that
the Electoral Prince is not seriously sick?"
"Have you ever had the sickness which follows too free indulgence in wine,
Sir Chamberlain?" asked the doctor gravely. "If so, you know exactly how
the Electoral Prince feels."
"Badly enough," laughed Herr von Goetz. "I have certainly had my own
frightful experiences of that sickness. You think then, doctor, I may
without impropriety return to Count Schwarzenberg's feast?"
"Without any impropriety whatever, Sir Chamberlain. What the Prince
chiefly needs is sleep and my medicine. When he has swallowed even a few
spoonfuls he will feel much soothed and relieved."
The two gentlemen left the castle together, and Dietrich remained alone
with the Prince. He had first hastened with the long prescription to the
Electoral apothecary, and ordered that it should be left as soon as
prepared in the antechamber of the Prince's rooms. Then he had fetched a
pitcher of milk from his own chamber, and, kindling a fire in the Prince's
sleeping apartment, warmed the milk. Now he approached with the steaming
draught the couch of the Prince, who lay sighing and moaning, with closed
eyes and tightly compressed lips, paying no heed to Dietrich's entreaties.
Finally, after a long pause, he opened his eyes and fixed them with a
vacant expression upon the weeping and trembling old man.
"Dietrich, I believe I am dying," he gasped. "But do not tell anybody. No
one must know what I suffer, else _he_, too, would come to me, and I wish
to see his hated face no more."
"Most gracious Prince, I beseech you, drink. Here is milk!"
"Give it to me, give it to me, Dietrich! Perhaps there is yet hope."
He emptied the cup, and again sank back. Dietrich knelt by his couch and
murmured prayers, imploring God to be with the Electoral Prince and to
save him from death. Hour after hour sped away. Evening drew near, the
shades of night closed in, and still all was quiet and noiseless within
the castle precincts. Count Schwarzenberg's feast proceeded undisturbed.
It was truly a feast of enchantment, and even the Electress was carried
away by it. Twice had she dispatched footmen to inquire after her son's
health, and each time old Dietrich had sent word that the Prince had
fallen into a sweet sleep, and that the doctor's medicine seemed to agree
with him wonderfully well. Of this medicine Dietrich threw aside a
spoonful every fifteen minutes, and instead of it gave the Prince his own
prescription--warm milk. But still there was no alleviation of his
sufferings, and even the violent vomiting, which twice ensued, had not
diminished the Prince's pain.
In Count Schwarzenberg's palace now resounded strains of the most
inspiriting dance music, and from the banqueting hall the company
dispersed into the two ballrooms and the adjoining apartments. In the
Electoral garden preparations were being made for fireworks, which were to
be displayed as soon as the night was sufficiently dark. This was the
reason why, on the approach of twilight, the sight-loving multitude came
streaming hither again from all directions. The Elector had seated himself
at the card table, and the Electress took a walk through the conservatory
and the magnificent hothouses situated in the rear of the palace, access
to which was had through the great reception hall. From the Elector, who
was eagerly interested in his game, Count Schwarzenberg obtained permission
to accompany the Electress. The whole company, with the exception of the
gentlemen busied in card playing, followed them. Like a glittering,
gigantic serpent, sparkling in all the colors of the rainbow, wound the
long, unbroken procession through the hothouses. They admired the exquisite
taste by which these long rooms had been transformed into gardens and
shrubberies; enjoyed the rare, deliciously scented flowers which peeped
forth here and there amid thickets of myrtle and orange tree; amused
themselves with the birds of variegated plumage, suspended from the boughs
in wire cages of most delicate workmanship. Each Ah! of delight that
sounded from the lips of the Electress found its repeated echo in the long
line of gentlemen and ladies following her; and these loud exclamations of
delight and rapture were so many acts of homage and flattery offered at
the shrine of Count Schwarzenberg, the great and mighty possessor of all
There were in that brilliant assemblage only two individuals who paid
little attention to the beautiful birds and flowers about them, who did
not chime in with the eulogies and conversation of the company. These two
were Princess Charlotte Louise and Count John Adolphus Schwarzenberg. They
followed immediately behind the Electress. The young count had offered the
Princess his arm, which with a slight blush she had accepted. The
Electress, who preceded them, was wholly absorbed in conversation with
Count Adam Schwarzenberg, who by his witty, fascinating powers of address
succeeded in enchaining her attention. The Princess Sophie Hedwig came
behind her sister with two ladies of the court, chatting and laughing,
looking hither and thither at birds and flowers, and, by her frequent
pauses of admiration before some rare plant or chatting parrot, more than
once detaining the whole company, so that there was an empty space between
the first two couples and those following.
"I could fall at the feet of the Princess and kiss her hands in fervent
gratitude," whispered Count Adolphus, when again the procession tarried
"Why so?" asked Charlotte Louise, smiling. "What has my sister done to
merit such gratitude?"
"What? Why, she has granted me a blessed moment, in which I can tell you
that I love you, boundlessly love you. Ah! why can I not speak this word
aloud, that like a flash of lightning it may flame through this hall? That
would be a fire which should unfold all blossoms and ripen all fruits. I
love you, Charlotte Louise! I could kneel down here and repeat in strains
of perpetual adoration to you, my mistress, my goddess, I love you, I am
yours; but, alas! you--"
"Well," asked she with a beaming glance--"well, why do you not complete
"You are not mine," sighed he. "Were you so, then you would not answer the
words which gush forth hot and ardent from my heart in such strange, cold
fashion; then would you listen to my supplications, and grant me a
"Did I not tell you, Adolphus," whispered she, "that you were to meet old
Trude on the castle square to-morrow morning early? She will be the bearer
of a message for you."
"You said so; but I tell you, if you loved me you would not need time for
reflection, but even yesterday, as soon as you heard of my arrival, your
heart would have suggested the importance of our meeting in private, and
devised some scheme whereby this might be accomplished without making use
of old Trude's intervention so late as to-morrow morning."
Princess Charlotte Louise laughed and blushed at the same time. "Perhaps I
am not so cold and indifferent as you think, Count Adolphus
Schwarzenberg," she said, with a charming expression of bashfulness and
coquetry. "Perhaps I had already reflected that a conference would be
desirable, were it only for the purpose of scolding you for your impulsive
manners. Perhaps, too, I already know a place where we can see each other
without old Trude's help."
"If you speak earnestly, then am I the happiest of men. But I can not
believe you, can not believe that my proud, cold-hearted Princess
"Can not believe me!" interrupted she, smiling; "then, unbeliever, I shall
convince you. Attend closely to all that I do."
She dropped his arm, and pausing before a rare Manilla flower, praised its
beauty and perfume. While doing so, her little hand, accidentally of
course, disappeared in the pocket of her ample skirt, and when she drew it
forth again this hand was fast closed. She waited until her sister came up
with the court ladies, and drew her attention to the beautiful flower and
the aviary of charming birds in the rear. She then walked forward, in the
blissful consciousness that a long time would supervene ere the Princess
could tear herself away from the flower and birds, and that she might now
speak to her lover secure from being overheard, since a wide space also
separated them from the pair in front.
"What have you there in your hand, Louise?" asked the count, in breathless
"A little note to Count Adolphus von Schwarzenberg," replied she, smiling,
and with swift movement she pressed the little twisted paper into his
hand. His countenance lighted up with rapture, and he made a movement as
if he would kneel before her, but the Princess restrained him.
"For Heaven's sake, Adolphus, consider that we are not alone," she
"I am alone with you, and if millions encircled us still should I be alone
with you in paradise. To me you are the first, the only woman upon earth.
I look upon you with the rapture which Adam felt when he first perceived
at his side his God-sent, heavenly wife. You have led me back to a
paradise of innocence and peace, have changed me into an Adam who the
first time sees and loves a woman. Oh, my beloved, you have made me
blessed indeed! This little strip of paper that you pressed into my hand,
as if by an enchanter's spell, has penetrated my whole being with heavenly
fire. I _must_ see it, I _must_ with my own eyes, with my own heart, read
the words which you have indited to me."
"I will repeat to you the contents of the note," said she, smiling. "Here
they are: 'On Tuesday evening at ten o'clock the little side door next the
cathedral will not be locked, only closed. Through this enter a vestibule,
to the right of which stands a door. Open this and mount the flight of
stairs beyond. Arrived at the top, go down the little passage to the left
until you reach a door at the end. It will be open.'"
"Tuesday evening?" whispered he, with enraptured looks; "and--"
Three loud cannon shots drowned his words. They announced the opening of
the exhibition of fireworks, and Princess Sophie Hedwig now came rapidly
forward, followed by the whole assembly, all pressing eagerly toward the
great hall, whose windows commanded a view of the fireworks. The rockets
flew, and artificial suns wheeled and turned in fiery circles. Even the
Elector forsook his card playing, and, supported by Count Schwarzenberg,
walked to the window to behold the costly spectacle. Without, the densely
packed throng of men shouted aloud with delight at each new star which
The Electoral Prince Frederick William still lay within his solitary
chamber, moaning and sighing upon his couch. Regularly every quarter of an
hour Dietrich had thrown away a spoonful of medicine, and given the Prince
a spoonful of warm milk. But his pains had not been diminished thereby,
though the Electoral Prince was evidently himself, and clearly conscious
of his situation. Several times he had addressed a few affectionate words
to Dietrich, seeking to comfort the faithful old man, who in his agony of
mind wept and prayed, and then tenderly pressed his beloved master's hand
to his lips, and besought him to get well and live.
"If it depends on me, Dietrich," said the Electoral Prince slowly,
moistening his parched lips with his tongue--"if it depends on me, I
surely shall not die. Life is still dear to me, although it has brought me
much of bitterness and grief. On that very account, though, I hope that
the future will indemnify me. It is a sorrowful thought to me to die and
sink into the grave so young, so unknown. Could I prevent it, I surely
should. But this hellish fire in my veins burns on and on, and is
consuming my life. Give me something to drink; milk at least lessens my
pangs in some degree."
Thus passed hour after hour, and midnight drew near. Count Schwarzenberg's
festival was not yet over, the Electoral family had not yet returned, and
silence unbroken reigned throughout the castle. With slow, measured tread
went the sentinels to and fro before the palace and through the inner
corridors. At times the loud shouts of the populace penetrated in faint
echoes even to the castle, and flew like spirit whispers through the broad
vestibule fronting the Electoral Prince's suite of rooms. The soldier on
guard there heard them with a shudder, and all the stories of ghosts and
specters told about the Electoral palace awoke to his remembrance. He cast
a disturbed glance around, and, holding his breath, listened with loudly
beating heart to the soft sounds and murmurs vibrating through the hall.
Suddenly he quite distinctly seemed to hear soft, gliding steps
approaching him from the other side of the vestibule. His blood stood
still with horror, he stared into the dusky hall. The little oil lamps
which hung on both sides of the door leading into the Electoral Prince's
apartments shed abroad only a glimmering, uncertain light, and left the
background enveloped in gloom and obscurity.
All at once the soldier started: he thought he saw a white figure emerge
from the darkness. Yes--his eyes saw her, his ears heard her steps!
Yes, it was no illusion! Ever nearer, ever larger loomed the white figure.
It was wholly enveloped in a veil and robe of white, and only two large,
sparkling black eyes looked forth from the veil. The soldier fell upon his
knees, dropped his weapon, and, folding his hands, muttered with
chattering teeth: "The White Lady! God Almighty be gracious to us! The
He dared not look up; he only murmured in anguish of spirit the prayers by
which spirits were exorcised; but he felt that the dreaded phantom came
ever nearer and nearer--that he could not exorcise the Lady in White! Now
she was close to him, her white garment grazed his bowed head, and the
soldier shuddered and shrank within himself. It was as if he heard a door
creak and turn softly on its hinges, then all was still.
The soldier ventured to lift up his head a little--the hall was empty, the
Lady in White had vanished! But she had been there; he had distinctly seen
her; she had entered the Electoral Prince's apartments; the soldier had
plainly heard that!
Now an inexpressible horror, that was stronger than all discipline and
sense of duty, seized him. He rushed out of the hall, tore open the door
opening upon the broad corridor, on both sides of which lay the apartments
of their Electoral Highnesses. With a loud scream he called out to the
sentinel on guard there: "The White Lady! the White Lady!"
This one, too, shrieked as loudly as if the apparition itself stood before
him--the Lady in White, known and dreaded of all! And both soldiers,
panicstricken, ran down the corridor to tell the news to the other
sentinels, and throw them all into the same state of dread and
The Electoral Prince Frederick William lay upon his bed with open eyes.
For the past half hour the pains which raged within had somewhat slackened
in intensity, and allowed him more repose. This season of repose had
overcome old Dietrich, and, like the disciples on Mount Olivet, he had
fallen "asleep for sorrow." The Prince was awake and found himself in that
overwrought condition in which the high-strung, quivering nerves lend
wonderful clearness and acuteness to the spirit, and in which the soul
with wide-seeing vision takes in the whole past, the whole future. He saw
his past rise up before him, with all its struggles, its privations, its
inexpressible joys and their painful renunciation. And then, across all
these sufferings, and the pain of the present, he looked into the future,
whose shining ideal stood before him in vivid clearness, beckoning and
calling to him. He saw fame, he saw honor; he heard the din of battle, he
saw a wild chaos, and from this chaos emerged a something, a tangible
shape; it grew large, it assumed form and substance, it was a country--his
country--that he himself had created, drawn forth from chaos. And now he
saw a happy, contented people, saw glad multitudes throng about him and
shout: "Long live our Electoral Prince, Frederick William! Long live our
deliverer, our father!" That ideal, which had lain so long in the secret
depths of his soul, in fact ever since he had known thought; that ideal to
which he had already dedicated himself, when he had stood as a boy by the
corpse of his great-uncle Gustavus Adolphus; that ideal was now truth and
reality before his inward vision. He was a Prince wreathed in glory; he
was beloved by his strong and happy subjects!
"I can not die," he exclaimed, in a loud, strong voice; "I need not die!"
"No, you need not die," said a sonorous voice; and a white form hovered
near, and two great, black eyes glowed upon him. Frederick William tried
to rise, but could not, for his limbs were paralyzed, and he felt as if
chained to his couch by iron fetters.
"Who are you?" he asked softly. "What do you want here? They say that he
to whom you appear is doomed to death; and yet you come to tell me that I
need not die?"
"We are all doomed to die," replied the white figure; "but the hour of
your death has not come yet. I am not come merely to tell you so, but to
"To save me? You know, then, that I am in danger?"
"Yes! In danger of your life! Count Schwarzenberg has poisoned you. Are
you not consumed by inward fires? Is not your head heavy and giddy?"
"I see plainly that you know what I suffer--you know the poison which was
"I know the poison, but I also know its cure. I know its antidote, and
have brought it to you. I would save you."
"You would save me?" asked the Electoral Prince. "Am I not dying fast
enough for you? Have I not yet swallowed enough of the deadly fluid that
you would give me more as a remedy? The invention is somewhat flimsy! I
shall not drink!"
"Unhappy Prince, you would not live, then?" asked she, in distress. "Hear
me, Frederick William. If you delay, you are lost beyond all hope of cure.
Nobody knows the remedy for your sufferings but myself, and nobody can
save you if I do not! Oh, think not that I would merit your thanks and
rewards! I have come hither at the peril of my own life, and each minute
increases my own danger as well as yours. The soldiers have fled before
my apparition. If a braver one should come to look closer at the White
Lady, I am lost, and you with me, for then I could not administer to you
"Tell me who you are, that I may see whether I may trust you."
"Who am I?" asked she. "I am a poor, mortal woman, who possesses nothing
upon earth but a heart, which loves nothing but a poor, much-to-be-pitied
man, whom not his own will but destiny has made a criminal. His child and
I were threatened with death, and to save us he committed a crime.
Electoral Prince, Count Schwarzenberg has poisoned you by means of Gabriel
Nietzel. I come to save you. Not for your own sake. What are you to
me?--why should I disturb myself about you? I love Gabriel Nietzel, and I
would not have his soul burdened by a crime that would break his heart. My
Gabriel has a tender heart; he was not made to be a criminal. Therefore
would I absolve him from that curse, for I love Gabriel, and would not
have him be a murderer. Do you believe me now? Will you try my palliative
The Electoral Prince lay there silent and motionless, and his large,
wide-open eyes gazed searchingly and inquiringly up at the white figure,
as if they would penetrate the veil and read her features.
Rebecca had a consciousness of this, and let the white veil fall from her
head. "Look in my face," she said, "and read from that whether I speak
"Gabriel Nietzel, too, came to warn me," murmured the Prince, quivering
with pain, "and afterward it was he who poisoned me. From him come these
fearful tortures which are burning now like the flames of hell."
"Gracious sir, oh, my dear sir!" cried Dietrich now, coming up to the bed
and kneeling beside it, "I beseech you, take nothing from her. I have
heard all, and I tell you it is Schwarzenberg who sends this Jewess to
you. Trust her not, my beloved Prince, take none of her hellish mixtures!"
"Trust me," said Rebecca quietly. "If life is dear to you, if you hope in
the future, if you would take vengeance upon the man who is your real
murderer, whose mere tool my poor husband was, then accept the remedy
which I bring you!"
"Yes," cried the Electoral Prince, with countenance lighting up, "yes, I
will take it! Give me your remedy. Hush, Dietrich, hush! I will take it!"
"Praised be Jehovah! he will take it!" said she joyfully, drawing forth
from her bosom a little flask. "Before I give you the medicine, I have
something to say to you, Frederick William. As soon as you have taken it,
you will fall into a deep sleep, almost resembling death. If you are
disturbed in this, the efficacy of my cordial will be destroyed."
"Dietrich," said the Prince composedly, "you will take care that no one
disturbs my slumbers. I command you so to do!"
"I shall obey, most gracious sir," murmured Dietrich.
"When you awake after six hours," continued Rebecca, "you will experience
a feeling of ineffable comfort. Be not deluded by this, and attempt to
leave your couch. Rest is necessary for you, and you are then only on the
road to health. That you may be perfectly cured I must come again
to-morrow night, and once more administer the cordial. Mind that to-morrow
night, as at present, you be alone. No one must be with you but old
Dietrich. He is a trusty, affectionate servant, and I hope to God will
tell no one what he has seen and heard here, for I would be lost if he
should do so."
"I swear, in the presence of Almighty God, that I will keep silence," said
"And now, enough of words!" cried she. "See, Dietrich, the pains begin
anew, and his features twitch convulsively. We must procure him relief."
She took a glass from the table and emptied into it half of the brown
liquid contained in her little flask. Then she bent over the Prince and
held the glass to his lips.
"Drink this," she said, with solemnity, "and may the Lord our God bless
the potion to you!"
The Prince drank in long draughts, emptying the glass to the last drop.
Then he uttered one shriek, and sank back senseless on the pillow.
"If you have murdered him," cried Dietrich, shaking his fist with menacing
gesture--"if you have murdered him, be sure that I shall find you out and
hand you over to the hang-man."
She slowly turned and once more drew the long white veil over her face.
"To-morrow night I shall come again," she said. "Attend well to him,
Dietrich, and see that he swallows nothing but what you give him yourself."
Then she opened the door and stepped out. The corridor was still empty and
tenantless; the sentinels had not yet ventured to return to their posts.
They had all collected below in the guardroom, which was situated in the
rear of the castle toward the Spree, and, pale with agitation and horror,
were talking in whispers of the awful event. All at once it seemed to them
as if a white shadow glided past outside the windows, as if two great,
sparkling eyes looked in upon them. They jumped up, rushed out of the
room, and out of the castle, shrieking out to the town, "The White Lady!
the White Lady!"
A couple of inquisitive men coming from Schwarzenberg's palace heard the
shriek of terror and screamed it to others, and like a tempest of wind it
rolled on, dragged everything into its eddying circle of awe and fright,
rushed howling through the night and penetrated into the brilliantly
lighted palace of Count Schwarzenberg, even into the ball-room, where the
tired couples were whirling in the last dance.
"The White Lady! the White Lady has appeared in the castle!"
The words ran through the halls. The dancing ceased, and the music paused
in the midst of a piece begun, for the Elector himself had risen from his
game of cards, and the Electress had called the Princesses from among the
"The White Lady has been seen in the castle!"
These fearful words, brought to him by his wife, frightened the Elector
out of his comfortable mood, and dissipated the cheering effects of the
wine. The White Lady threatened him with death! The thought filled his
whole soul, and made him all at once sober and serious.
"The Lady in White has appeared in the castle," sighed the Electress, "and
my son Frederick William is sick. I must go to him--I must go to my son!"
The equipage rolled off to the castle. The Elector leaned back gloomily in
the corner, thinking to himself: "If I only knew whether she wore white or
black gloves! Perhaps she only means to warn me, perhaps there is yet time
to escape the mischief! The air of Berlin is very bad, and I vex myself
too much here. As we drove up to the castle when we came from Koenigsberg,
one of our carriage horses stumbled and fell. That was an ill omen, and we
should have heeded it and turned about immediately. Perhaps there may yet
be time to flee from the threatened evil, if we go back to Koenigsberg! If
I only knew what kind of gloves the White Lady wore!"
"Just tell me what sort of a tale this is about the White Lady?" asked
Count Schwarzenberg of his Chamberlain von Lehndorf, after his guests had
taken their leave.
"Your excellency, one of the sentinels on duty at the castle to-day came
rushing into the palace, and shrieked out wildly and madly: 'The White
Lady! I have seen the White Lady! I must speak to the Elector! I have seen
the White Lady!' I assure your excellency, it was actually terrific to
witness the poor man's fright. He was pale as death, with tottering knees
and trembling in every limb. I myself felt a cold shudder creep over me,
although usually I am neither timid nor superstitious. But it is such a
singular coincidence, that the White Lady should appear on the very day
when the Electoral Prince was taken so suddenly ill."
"Yes, it is a singular coincidence," said Schwarzenberg, shrugging his
shoulders, "and I should like to know the connecting link. Well, I hope to
fathom the mystery, and then the ghost story will resolve itself into a
ridiculous reality. Early to-morrow morning I shall have all the soldiers
called up, who were on duty at the castle to-night, and question them
myself. The castellan's wife, too, must be summoned. She is an honest
woman of bold and sober wits, and from her I shall be best able to learn
what is the meaning of this masquerade. Good-night, Lehndorf, sleep off
your fright, you sentimental man, over whom a childish shudder still
creeps, whenever he hears a nursery maid's tale! I really envy you your
implicit faith, you credulous man! One thing more, though: what news have
we from the Electoral Prince?"
"Most gracious sir, according to the latest accounts, the Electoral Prince
was enjoying a little rest, having fallen into a profound sleep."
"Very fine!" said the count, entering his cabinet. "Good-night, Lehndorf!"
The next morning Count Schwarzenberg interrogated all the sentinels who
had been on guard at the castle on the preceding night. They unanimously
affirmed that they had been awake and watchful when they had seen the
White Lady. The sentinel before the Electoral Prince's apartments had seen
her enter those rooms, even distinctly heard the door creak as it closed
behind her. Collectively the sentinels asseverated that afterward they had
seen the White Lady pass before the guardhouse windows, and that she had
even looked in upon them with her great black eyes. Even to-day they
shuddered and trembled at the bare remembrance of the frightful
apparition, and swore that they would rather die than see that horrible
woman again. Then, when the soldiers had withdrawn, came the castellan's
wife, who had been summoned by Chamberlain von Lehndorf.
"And what say you to the goblin of last night?" asked Count Schwarzenberg,
noticing the castellan's wife with a condescending nod.
"Most noble sir," replied the old woman solemnly, "I say that a member of
the Electoral family will die."
"What? _you_, the prudent, wise, intelligent Mrs. Culwin--you, too, believe
this ridiculous story?"
"Most revered sir, I believe in it because I know the White Lady, and have
seen her often before."
"Oh, indeed," smiled the count; "you count the White Lady among your
acquaintances; you have seen her often before? Just tell me a little about
her, my dear dame! When did you first see the specter?"
"Almost twenty years ago, if it please your honor. I had just been a year
in Berlin. Your honor knows I came here from Venice in the capacity of
maid to your lady of blessed memory, and had committed the folly of giving
up the countess's good service in order to marry Culwin, the young
"And why do you call that a folly?" asked Count Schwarzenberg, laughing.
"I have always believed that you lived in happy wedlock with your good
"That may be so, your excellency, but for all that, a lady's maid, who can
live independently always commits a folly in submitting to a husband's
rule. And I could support myself, for your excellency paid me such a
handsome salary, and I was in such favor with your blessed lady. Often,
before I stupidly left her to get married, she would call me, and we would
talk together of our beautiful home, our beloved Venice. Ah! your
excellency, we have often wept together, and longed ardently to behold
once more the city of the sea. Whoever comes from there never recovers
from homesickness and wherever he goes, and however far he may be removed,
his heart still clings to Venice. That the gracious countess often
remarked to me, weeping bitterly, which did her good, and--"
"You were to tell me when you first saw the White Lady," interrupted Count
Schwarzenberg, for he felt uncomfortable at being reminded of his wife,
knowing as he did that she had spent but few happy days at his side.
"That is true, and I beg your excellency's pardon," replied Mrs. Culwin.
Well, then, I saw the White Lady for the first time in the year 1619. I
had sat up late at night, for it was a few days before the Christmas
festival, and, in accordance with German customs, I wished to make a
Christmas present for my husband, but had not finished the piece of
embroidery I destined for that purpose. As I sat thus and sewed, I felt as
it were a cold breath of air on my cheek, as if some one rapidly moved
past me. I looked up startled, and there stood before me a tall, womanly
figure, clad in white, looking at me from under her veil with dark,
flashing eyes; and then she strode toward the door, but ere she went out
she lifted her arms toward heaven, and folded her hands, which were
covered with black gloves, fervently together. So she stood for awhile,
and then vanished without my seeing the door open or shut. So long as the
specter was there I had sat stiff and motionless, as if rooted to the
spot; my heart seemed to stand still; I tried to scream, but could not.
When she was gone, though, I shrieked fearfully, and my husband hastened
to me, to find me in convulsions, and for hours I screamed and wept. My
husband, indeed, tried to talk me out of it, and made me promise to speak
of the occurrence to no one. But my silence was of no consequence, for the
next day it was known to all the inmates of the palace that the White Lady
had appeared, for very many had seen her. The old Elector John Sigismund
had such a dread of the White Lady, and feared so much that she would
appear to him, that he left the castle that very day, and went to the
residence of his Chamberlain Freitag. There, however, he died in the
course of two days, just two days before Christmas. The White Lady was
therefore right, with her deep mourning and black gloves. It was not
the head of the family who died, for the old Elector had abdicated, and
Elector George William was even then reigning Sovereign."
"Truly, that sounds quite awful," cried Count Schwarzenberg; "and since
you saw the apparition with your own eyes, I can not dispute it. You said,
though, I think, that you had often seen it?"
"Twice more, gracious sir. The second time was in the year 1625. There
again, one night, in the center of my room stood the White Lady, and again
lifted up her arms toward heaven before departing, and again she wore
black gloves. And the next day died the brother of our Elector, the
Margrave Joachim Sigismund."
"And the third time?"
"For the third time I saw the White Lady ten years ago, therefore in 1628.
This time she also wore black gloves, and a black veil besides. She again
strode through my room, but neither wept nor wrung her hands. She had also
appeared to the Elector himself, and addressed a few Latin words to him,
which in German my husband said ran thus: 'Justice comes to the living and
"I remember this last story very well myself," said Count Schwarzenberg,
with a peculiar smile. "His Electoral Grace was very much shocked by the
apparition, and its appearance was supposed to announce years of terrible
war, for no one in the Electoral family died. Now tell me, Mrs. Culwin, at
what time did the White Lady appear yesterday, and how was she dressed?"
"Your excellency, I can not say exactly, for I did not see her yesterday.
The soldiers however, and watchmen, too, affirm that she was dressed
entirely in white, which betokens the death of a person of high rank."
"You did not see the White Lady yesterday, then? I think she always passes
through your room, Mrs. Culwin?"
"She took another route this time, and something quite unusual happened:
she even appeared outside of the castle, for the soldiers maintain that
she passed before their windows, and the watchman, who was just making his
round, swears that he also saw a white figure glide past the wall. It
seems that this time the White Lady came from the Spree side. She did not
enter the great corridor at all, but repaired immediately to the Prince's
apartments. The sentinel says she went in, and that he distinctly heard
the door creak and shut as she passed through."
"Formerly no opening or shutting of doors was to be heard, was there?"
asked the count.
"No, your excellency, I never heard anything of the kind, and it always
seemed to me as if the door opened not at all, and as if the White Lady
vanished like mist."
"And she only visited the Prince's apartments? Do you know who was there?"
"Nobody but the Electoral Prince and his valet, I hear. _I_ myself was not
at home when the event occurred. Your excellency's stewardess had invited
me to assist her in preparing yesterday's feast, and I only returned in
haste as soon as it was rumored that the White Lady was abroad in the
"But you have surely seen and questioned the Prince's valet?"
"He is the only man in the castle who can not be approached with good or
evil words, your excellency, and who brooks not being questioned. Of
course, I tried questioning him about the White Lady, but his only answer
was that he had seen nothing, and did not believe in ghost stories. He
only knew that his dear young Prince was sick, and he troubled himself
about nothing else."
"He is still sick then, the Electoral Prince?" asked Count Schwarzenberg
with indifference. "Has he not slept off his intoxication yet?"
"Most gracious sir, I do not believe that it was intoxication, else surely
the Prince would be well to-day! But he is not at all better, and the
Electress, who visited her son early this morning, broke forth into loud
weeping when she saw him, for he must look just like a corpse."
"Did he recognize the Electress? Did he speak to her?"
"He knows nobody, he does not open his eyes, but lies there stiff and
stark like a dead man, and if he did not sometimes fetch a breath, you
would believe that he were already dead. This the little Princess herself
told me, as I accidentally met her in the passage, when she returned from
visiting her brother. But the doctor says this sleep is the beneficial
result of his treatment, and that when the Electoral Prince awakes he will
be quite restored to health. He has ordered that no one else be admitted
to see the Prince, and Dietrich watches over him like a Cerberus."
"And he does well in that, Mrs. Culwin. I thank you for your information,
and if anything new should happen I beg of you to come to me forthwith.
Tell me one thing more: Do you believe that the specter will come again
to-night? Is it the custom of the White Lady to show herself oftener than
"My husband maintains that if she appears, as at this time, all in white,
she will come again three nights consecutively. So it was when the Elector
Sigismund died. I saw her only once, and she wore black gloves, but the
next evening my husband saw her on the other side of the castle dressed
all in white, and on the third evening the Elector died."
"It would be interesting if the White Lady should come again to-night. I
should like to know if it is the case, and--Well, farewell, Mrs. Culwin,
and if you learn anything new, share it with me. Perhaps I shall come over
to the castle myself to-night."
He held out his hand to the old woman, and, as he pressed hers, he let a
well-filled purse slip into it. He cut off her expressions of gratitude by
a short nod of the head, and waved her toward the door. The castellan's
wife withdrew, and, absorbed in deep thought, Count Schwarzenberg remained
alone in his cabinet. With hands folded behind his back, he walked for a
long while to and fro. His pace was ever steady, ever composed; his
countenance seemed quite cheerful, quite tranquil, and yet his soul was
stirred by passion and a storm was raging in his breast.
"He is alive--he is still alive," he said to himself. "One could almost
believe that he has a star above which watches over him and preserves him.
It has been ever so from childhood; and at times when I think of him I
experience an unwonted sensation--I am afraid of him. He is my deadly
enemy, I know it. If I did not thrust him aside, he would do so with me.
If I did not kill him, he would kill me. It was a mere act of self-defense
to put him out of the way. If it miscarries, I am lost, for I shall not
soon have courage for a second attempt. I am a coward in this young man's
presence, I am afraid of him! He is my fate, my evil fate! And I can not
avert it, can undertake nothing more. I lack a tool. Oh, what a blockhead
I was to dismiss Nietzel! His own sins were the scourge by which I lashed
him into action. He was as wax in my hands, and if he failed this time, he
must have tried it again. I would have driven him to it, and he would have
been forced to obey. If the Electoral Prince should now get well, Nietzel
would be glad, for he is a soft-hearted fool, and had it not been for
Rebecca's sake, he could never have brought himself to commit the deed.
Even while he executed it his heart bled, and--My God!" he suddenly
exclaimed, "what a thought bursts upon me! If this Nietzel--"
He was silent and sank into an armchair, putting his hands before his
face, to shut out the outer world, to be undisturbed in his deep train of
Long he sat there, silent and motionless. Then he let his hands glide
from before his face, which had now again resumed its haughty, composed
expression, and arose from his seat.
"I must know what is the meaning of this ghost story," he said softly to
himself. "Nowhere has the phantom been seen but in the antechamber to the
Prince's rooms. It did not go like other spirits through walls and closed
doors, but must needs open and shut doors, like ordinary mortals. Yet old
Dietrich denies having seen the White Lady in the Electoral Prince's room.
Then afterward the White Lady was seen outside the castle, she did not
vanish through the air, but went out like a human being. It is a plot,
that is clear. They are conspiring with the Electoral Prince, and profit
by the mask to obtain safe access to the castle; or it may be Nietzel,
come to confess what he has done to the Prince--maybe even to bring him a
remedy. I must unravel it! I am sure the illusion succeeded so well last
night that the apparition will be repeated. I shall make my regulations
accordingly, and if it is so, then let the White Lady beware of me, for I
am a good conjurer. I shall go to the castle myself to-night, and when the
sentinels flee, I shall go in. Ah! we shall see who is stronger, the White
Lady or the Stadtholder in the Mark!"
Melancholy and quiet reigned all day long in the Electoral palace. The
Elector himself remained in his cabinet and had the court preacher John
Bergius called, that he might pray with him and edify him by a few hours'
pious conversation. But the dreadful uncertainty as to whether the White
Lady had appeared in deep mourning or with black gloves still continued
to disturb him, and whenever a door opened a shudder crept through his
veins, for he thought that the White Lady herself might be coming to call
"I shall leave Berlin," he said perpetually to himself. "I shall return to
Koenigsberg; for if I stay here I will certainly die of anxiety and
distress. I can not live in the house with a ghost. I shall go away. Ah!
there is the door opening again! Who is it? Who dares come in here?"
"It is I, my husband," cried the Electress, bursting into tears. "I am
just from our son."
"How is he?" asked the Elector carelessly. "Has he at last slept off the
fumes of liquor?"
"Alas! George, I fear this is no case of intoxication, but he is
dangerously sick. The White Lady did not appear for nothing."
"What, you think she came on our son's account?" asked the Elector,
almost joyfully. "You think it is not for our--" He paused and drew a
breath of relief, for he felt as if a heavy burden had been lifted from
his soul. "You really think, my dear, that the White Lady came on
our son's account?"
"I fear so, alas! I fear so! My son is sick and will probably die, and our
house will be left desolate, become extinct, and ingloriously decay. Oh,
my son! my son! I had built all my hopes upon him, and when I thought of
him the future looked bright and promising."
"And if he were no more, then would all look sad and gloomy to you,
although your husband would still be at your side, which rightfully ought
to console you. But you have ever been a cold wife to me and a tender
mother to your son, and it really vexes me to see how you love the son and
despise his father. What an ado you make merely because your son has taken
a little too much liquor, and suffers from the effects of intoxication, as
the doctor says!"
"But I tell you, George, the Electoral Prince is sick, and the White
"I will hear no more of that," broke in the Elector passionately; "it is a
silly, idle tale, not worthy of credit. Everybody is dinning it into my
ears to-day, and it is simply intolerable to have to listen. I just wish
that I could leave this place, to be rid of this tiresome ghost story, and
not to have to undergo such torment and vexation. In Koenigsberg, at least,
we live in peace and quiet, and are not forever plagued by the sight of
sullen faces and perpetual threats of war and pestilence. In Koenigsberg
Castle, too, the White Lady has never appeared, and there are no nightly
"Let us return to Koenigsberg, George!" cried the Electress. "Do so for our
son's sake; I tell you if we stay here, he is lost! Death stands forever
at his side, threatening his precious young life! Ask me not what I mean,
for I can not explain myself; yet I feel that I am right, and that he is
lost if we do not speedily depart. Only listen this one time to my
entreaties and representations, my husband. Let us set out before it is
"Well then, Elizabeth, I will do as you wish," said George William, who
was glad that he could grant his wife what he so ardently wished himself.
"Yes, we shall promptly depart, since you urge it so pressingly."
The Electress gently encircled her husband's neck with her arm and
imprinted a kiss upon his brow. "Thank you, George," she whispered. "You
have probably saved our son from death. May the merciful God grant him
restoration to health, and so soon as this is the case let us set off."
"Make all your preparations then, Elizabeth, for I tell you your tenderly
beloved son is only a little tipsy, and to-morrow will be well as ever."
"God grant that you speak the truth, George. Then let us commence our
journey day after to-morrow," which is Wednesday. But hark! I have one
more request to make of you. Tell no one of our projected trip. Let us
make our preparations in perfect secrecy."
"For all that I care," growled the Elector. "The principal thing is to be
off. Abode here has been hateful to me ever since I heard those shouts of
the populace the day our son returned. I can not live in a city where the
mob undertakes to meddle in government affairs, and even prescribes to its
Sovereign the dismissal of his minister. It is an uproarious, insolent
rabble, the rabble of Berlin, and I shall not feel glad or tranquil until
I have left the place."
"And I, too, George, will not feel glad or tranquil until we have left the
place, carrying our son with us. I am going to work directly, and will
prepare everything for our departure, and consult with my daughters. But I
must first go and see how our son is."
The Electress hastened back to the apartments of the Electoral Prince, and
old Dietrich came to meet her with joy-beaming countenance to announce to
her that the Prince was awake, and felt perfectly well. "He only feels a
great weakness in his limbs, and his head is heavy. The doctor has been
here, and ordered that the Prince be kept perfectly quiet to-day, and not
allowed to speak with any one or to leave his bed. To-morrow he will be
quite well again."
"Then I will not speak to him," exclaimed the Electress; "I will only take
one look at him and give him one kiss."
She entered her son's sleeping room and stepped up to his couch. The
Electoral Prince smiled upon her, and his large eyes greeted her with
tender glances. He had already opened his mouth to speak, but the
Electress quickly laid her hand upon his lips.
"Do not speak, my Frederick," she whispered softly. "Sleep and compose
yourself; know that your mother tenderly loves you. For my sake, my son,
keep quiet to-day; keep your bed and talk with no one. Will you not
He nodded smilingly and imprinted a kiss upon the hand which his mother
still held over his lips. The Electress hurried away, and Frederick again
remained alone with his old valet.
"Now, Dietrich," he whispered softly, "now keep watch that no one enters,
and let us quietly await the night."
"Your grace thinks that the White Lady brought you good medicine last
night, and that she will come again, do you not?"
"I am convinced of it, my good old man. God has sent her for my cure. God
will not have me die already."
"The name of the Lord be blessed and praised!" murmured Dietrich, sinking
upon his knees in fervent prayer.
Deep stillness pervaded the Electoral Prince's apartments the whole day
long, for nobody dared venture in. The doctor himself, who came toward
evening, only peeped in through a crevice of the door, and nodded quite
contentedly when Dietrich whisperingly told him that the Prince had again
fallen into a gentle slumber.
"I knew it," said the doctor with gravity. "My medicine was meant to cure
him by means of sleep, and I am not surprised that my calculations have
proved perfectly correct. To-morrow the Prince will be perfectly
well--that is to say, if he regularly takes my medicine. It has been
prepared for the second time, I hope?"
"Yes, indeed, doctor, and the Prince has half emptied the second bottle."
The doctor nodded with an important air, and repaired to the Electress, to
inform her that the Electoral Prince had been upon the point of taking a
violent nervous fever, but that the right medicament, which he had given
him, had averted this evil, and saved the Prince from imminent peril.
Old Dietrich, however, threw away a spoonful of medicine every quarter of
an hour, and when night came the bottle was empty.
And now the longed-for night had closed in with its curtain of darkness,
its noiselessness and quiet. Deep silence ruled throughout the castle, no
loud word was any longer to be heard, not a man was to be met in hall or
passage. Before the ushering in of the momentous hour each one had made
haste to tuck himself up in bed, and shut his eyes, for everybody dreaded
lest the specter of the preceding night should walk abroad again and show
itself to him. The sentinels in the corridor before the Electoral suite of
rooms and in the vestibule of the Prince's apartments dared not walk to
and fro, for the noise of their own steps terrified them, and the dark
shadows of their own forms, thrown upon the ground by the dim oil lamps,
filled them with unspeakable dread. They had planted themselves stiffly
and rigidly beside the doors, firmly determined as soon as the awful
apparition should show itself to take to their heels and return to the
guardroom. And happily they had some justification for this, inasmuch as
the soldiers had received orders from the Stadtholder in the Mark, when
they relieved guard, to convey instant tidings to the guardhouse if
anything remarkable should occur.
In order to convey instant tidings, they must of course take to their
heels and forsake their posts. This was the only comfort of the soldier
who was stationed in the vestibule leading to the princely apartments, and
therefore he stood close to the door, which was only upon the latch, that
he might the more rapidly gain the grand corridor, and warn in his flight
the sentinels there. Yet he dared not open his eyes, and his heart beat so
violently that it took away his breath.
The great cathedral clock tolled the hour of midnight with loud and heavy
strokes. The clock in the castle tower gave answer, and then the wall
clock in the great corridor slowly and solemnly struck twelve.
The soldier closed his eyes, and murmured with trembling lips, "All good
spirits praise the Lord our God."
The clangor of the clocks had ceased, and all again was still.
The soldier ventured to open his eyes again. As yet no sound broke in upon
the stillness; his glance timidly and slowly made the circuit of the hall.
The two oil lamps burned clearly enough to enable him to survey the whole
intervening space. He saw everything quite distinctly. There the door with
the lamps, here the door beside which he leaned; against the wall on that
side those two huge, black wooden presses, so curiously carved, and
between them that little door. This door began to make him uneasy. Whither
did it lead? Why stood no guard there? Was it locked or merely latched? He
asked himself all this with quickly beating heart, and could not turn his
glance from it. He had never before observed it. Now it seemed to him as
if it moved! A cold shudder ran through his whole frame.
Yes, it was no illusion! Yes, the door opened, and there stood the White
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