The Youth of the Great Elector
Part 8 out of 10
excellency, a courier from Koenigsberg has just arrived, and is the bearer
of this dispatch from the Elector."
The Stadtholder took the proffered packet, and by a hurried sign dismissed
"A courier from Koenigsberg," he said, with a slight shaking of the head,
as he examined the great sealed envelope which he held in his hand. "A
writing from the Electoral Government Office, when Schulenburg was just
with me this very day, the bearer of verbal communications! I do not
"The best plan would be, most revered father, to open the letter!" cried
Count Adolphus briskly. "You will then see what news it contains."
The Stadtholder made no answer, but tore off the cover and drew forth the
inner paper. Slowly he unfolded this, and read.
His son had involuntarily advanced a few steps nearer, and watched his
father's countenance with the impatience of suspense. He saw him turn
pale, his brow darken, and his lips become firmly compressed.
"The letter contains bad news?" he said breathlessly.
"Not merely bad but astonishing news," replied the count, with forced
composure. "The Elector here makes several requirements of me, and not
directly, but through his private secretary Goetz."
"What presumption!" exclaimed his son passionately.
"How can that little Elector dare to forward a writ of chancery to you,
the mighty and influential Stadtholder in the Mark, instead of addressing
his desires and requests to you privately in his own handwriting?"
"It shows at all events a little negligence and want of formality,"
replied his father thoughtfully, "although the Elector may certainly plead
as his excuse the many claims upon his time. For the same reason he only
gave Schulenburg verbal messages for me."
"And may I ask what the Elector demands of your grace? Or is this an
indiscretion on my part?"
"No, my son, you shall learn it. In the first place, the Elector requires
me to send unopened to him at Koenigsberg all letters arriving here
addressed to him, and not to open and answer them in his name as hitherto.
The Elector further desires me to conclude no act of government without
having previously called together the privy council. In the third place,
the Elector directs me forthwith to require of all the governors and
officers of the forts an oath of allegiance to himself. He lastly asks, if
I can make it convenient to come to Prussia, that we may confer together,
and that he may have the benefit of my aid and advice."
"And what answer will your grace return to these demands?"
"As regards the first requirement, I shall reply that the Elector's will
is law, and that all writings shall be henceforth forwarded to him
unopened. As to the second demand, I shall represent that it is now simply
impossible to gratify, since only a single member of the old privy council
is yet alive. As to binding the officers and commandants by oath to their
duty," continued the count slowly, "I shall but require a token of their
disposition to fulfill existing engagements. And lastly, as the Elector
wishes it, I can hardly refuse him my advice; so that I will go to him in
"No," cried Count Adolphus impatiently, "no, father, you shall not. You
shall not accept this artfully contrived invitation. You dare not go to
Prussia. My God, sir, are your usually keen and penetrating eyes so
blinded that they can not see what is so very palpable? Do you really not
perceive that the Elector only wants to entice you away, in order to get
you in his power, in order noiselessly and quietly to put you out of the
way? Ostensibly you are to go to Koenigsberg to advise the young,
inexperienced Elector. That is the pretext, the sand which they would
scatter in the eyes of yourself, your friends, the Emperor, yea, all
Germany, so that no one can see what is going on, or by any possibility
guess what will happen. You may set out for Koenigsberg, but you will never
get there; you will meet with an accident on the way--either your carriage
will be overset and you fatally injured, or robbers fall upon you in the
woods and murder you. However it may be, only as a dead man will you
arrive at Koenigsberg, and the Elector will have nothing further to do than
to decree your magnificent obsequies!"
"Ah, my son!" cried the Stadtholder, smiling, "you go too far. Never will
the Elector resort to such expedients. He is too pious and good a
Christian for that!"
"Father, are not you, too, a good, pious Christian, and yet--Believe me,
the Elector has forgotten nothing. He remembers the man found under his
bed once, with a murderous weapon in his hand and much gold in his pocket.
He remembers the sickness which so suddenly seized him two years ago at
the banquet which you had prepared for him. _Then_ you invited him, _now_
he invites you, and if sickness seizes you, you will probably not have the
good fortune to recover as he did."
"That is true; my God! he may be right," muttered the count, turning pale.
"It may be that they suspect me; they may have told him I meant to poison
him at that banquet. I have proofs of it which make it seem probable, and
that woman--Hush, hush! nothing of that--that has no place here! But I
believe myself that you are right, and will therefore ignore the Elector's
"God be praised, father, that you have taken this resolution!" cried the
young count joyfully. "Now at last the crisis is upon us--open enmity and
a rupture, regardless of consequences! Waver and hesitate no more. The
Elector would ruin you; you must ruin him. Nay, look not so amazed and
shocked, father! I have long foreseen this moment, and have prepared
everything for meeting the emergency with dignity. As soon as the first
news of the Elector George William's death reached here, I gathered about
me my friends and yours, and held a long consultation with them, which
satisfied me of their fidelity and devotion. Oh, most gracious sir, you
have indeed no reason to bewail your lot, for you have many and reliable
friends, who are ready for your sake to confront the most imminent
dangers, to undertake what is most difficult and hazardous! All of our
friends were convinced with me that the Electoral Prince is your
implacable enemy, and that he only watches for an opportunity to
accomplish your ruin. In spite of his few years, however, he is much too
wise and cautious a man to attempt to act against you with open, swift
determination. He knows the Emperor loves you, and that he would regard
each act of enmity against you as directed against himself. Therefore he
would quietly remove and undo you. Here, in the midst of your faithful
friends, surrounded by soldiers and officers who have taken an oath of
fidelity to you and the Emperor, in the midst of your adherents and
retainers, the Elector would not dare to arrest and accuse you. He begins
much more prudently, much more circumspectly! In the first place, you are
to swear the governors and officers into the Elector's service. That is to
say, in other words, they are no longer to recognize the Emperor as lord
paramount or you as the Elector's representative, but their oath is to
bind them to the Elector alone, and only on his will are they to be
dependent. After having accomplished all this, you are to proceed to
Prussia, where no one defends you, where your friends can not rally around
you, where you will vanish, uncared for and unwept. No, my lord and
father, you must not go to Prussia, or if you do, not until you have
assembled around you your loyal subjects, when, at the head of your
regiments, you go forth to meet the Elector as his powerful and determined
foe, not as his servant."
"What do you say, my son?" asked the Stadtholder, shocked.
"I say, father, that your friends and I have been secretly active, that we
have prepared to defend you in case the Elector threatens you. Throughout
the whole Mark your friends are ready to make open opposition to the
Elector, and firmly determined to protect you and their own rights and
privileges sword in hand. Only carry out Frederick William's order,
summon the commandants of the forts here to Berlin, and demand of them
their oath of allegiance to the Elector. This they will refuse. All, with
the exception of Burgsdorf of Kuestrin and Trotha of Peitz, will declare
that they have already given in their oath to the Emperor, and can not
conscientiously take any other. The colonels of the regiments will say the
same, especially Goldacker, the boldest, bravest of them all. They will
keep faith with the Emperor, and therefore the Elector of Brandenburg is
not their commander in chief. _You_, who administered the imperial oath,
they will obey in the Emperor's name, they will follow whithersoever _you_
"But whither can I lead them?" asked the Stadtholder.
"To battle against the little Elector of Brandenburg, who would revolt
against his lord the Emperor; to battle against the heretical vassal of
the Emperor, who threatens the German Empire and the Church, who would
break loose from Emperor and empire, who threatens all creeds, making
every effort to strengthen and aggrandize the reformed party. Oh, believe
me, not merely good Catholics, but the Evangelical and Lutheran sects,
will obey this call, and burn with enmity and wrath against the rash
little Elector. We have spread our net, and its meshes are entangling him,
even there in Prussia, where he thinks himself quite safe and secure. True
friends and trusty messengers have been sent by Goldacker and myself to
Prussia, to concert measures there with your adherents, and to rouse them
to strong, energetic action. Sebastian von Waldow, superintendent of the
palace and captain of Ruppin, assembles your friends together in perfect
secrecy, and I daily expect from him exact accounts as to the success of
his operations. In Koenigsberg itself we now have a powerful and efficient
friend, who co-operates with us and is like-minded with ourselves. It is
the ambassador whom the Emperor has sent to condole with the Elector. He
is my best, most confidential friend, Count von Martinitz. He is
acquainted with all my plans, he is the confidant of all my hopes and
views, and will second them with all his might. This ambitious, heretical
little Elector shall not rise, shall not arrive at power and distinction!
That is not only the view the Emperor takes of it, but all German princes.
The Elector of Brandenburg is a source of terror and embarrassment to them
all. He threatens Saxony, he threatens Brunswick and Hesse; of all he
claims land and property now in their possession. He has no friends,
adherents, nor allies, this little Elector Frederick William. Holland will
not side with him, because it will not relinquish Julich and Cleves,
Sweden contends with him for Pomerania, and Poland about the investiture.
He has only enemies and accusers! If, then, we attack him, he is lost! No
hand will be lifted in his defense, no arm outstretched to save him. The
Emperor will grant us his support and countenance, and all German princes
will secretly rejoice that so dangerous a rival has been happily removed.
O father! you see I have not abandoned hope of becoming some day Elector
of Brandenburg! Only, I shall not be indebted for it to the Princess
Charlotte Louise, but to you. I shall inherit the dignity as my father's
son! And this shall be my revenge upon the faithless, treacherous
Princess! I will ruin her and her whole house; I will put my father in her
brother's place; I will one day enter as master the palace before whose
closed portals they once insolently kept me two hours waiting. I swore
that night to be revenged for that insult, and now the moment has come.
Father, the fruit of revenge is ripe, and you must pluck it!"
"Yes, that I will," cried the Stadtholder, with animation. "Oh, my son, a
great, immeasurable joy fills my soul at this hour; and, first of all, let
me beg your pardon for having entertained a horrible suspicion with regard
to you which has lately forced itself upon me. I mistrusted you, seeing
your activity, your strange confidential transactions with the commandants
and officers; I felt that you were on the eve of some great undertaking,
and suspected that in you I had a rival, and that you wished to supplant
me! Forgive me, my son, forgive me in consideration of the misery my
suspicions caused me!"
"I have nothing to forgive, father," said Count Adolphus coldly. "It is so
natural for those incapable of love to suppose that others are only moved
by selfish ends! You, father, love nothing on earth but your own ambition
and fame, and so fancied that it was the same with me, and that ambition
could make the son a traitor to his own father!"
"My Adolphus!" cried the Stadtholder, "I have already told you, and repeat
again, that I feel I have a heart. I felt it in the pain which I
experienced when I doubted you; I feel it now in the rapture which thrills
me in beholding you act so boldly and courageously in behalf of your
father. Give me your hand, Adolphus, and--if you do not disdain such a
thing--embrace me, and kiss your old father."
He held out his arms, and his son threw himself on his breast and
imprinted a long, fervent kiss upon his lips. Long did Count Schwarzenberg
clasp him to his heart, then took the young man's head between both his
hands and looked at him with loving, tender glances. Finally, with a
singular expression of embarrassment, he bent down and kissed his eyes.
"My son," he said softly and quickly, "I love you. Yours are the first
eyes that I have ever kissed, and this kiss of your father's unpolluted
lips should be to you a life-long blessing. And now to work, now for
action, and bold adventurous deeds! Oh, of late how weak and worn out I
have felt myself to be, and longed to withdraw into solitude and
retirement, to rest from all labor! I believed it was old age creeping
upon me, and by its abominable touch unnerving my arm and crippling my
activity. But now I feel that it was only secret grief about you which
thus enfeebled me and robbed my arm of vigor. Now I am quite well again
and strong; now I will dare everything that you have so prudently and
wisely planned. Yes, yes, once more I am Schwarzenberg, the Stadtholder in
the Mark, and I shall not allow myself to be imposed upon; I shall do
battle with this little Frederick William, who ventures to defy and
threaten me. He opposes the Emperor, he would be an independent Sovereign,
while he is only the Emperor's vassal. For this he shall be punished. It
will not be our fault if this hurls him from his little throne, and how
could we be blamed, should the Emperor bestow the margraviate of
Brandenburg upon Prince Schwarzenberg, as he did the margraviate of
Jaegerndorf upon Prince Lobkowitz? To work, my son, to work! Oh, now again
my eyes see clearly--now again my head conceives fixed and energetic
thoughts. My son, we two combined will surely be equal to the execution
of our exalted schemes. We two combined will ruin the Elector."
"And put you in his place," cried the young count.
"I must go before, that you may be my successor, and that our house stand
firm and strong, and not be inferior to that of Lobkowitz or Fuerstenberg.
Already it is clearly defined in my mind what we shall have to do. In the
first place, we must render the Elector odious to all parties, making it
evident to each that he is a dangerous foe to all, who would enrich
himself at his neighbors' expense, and would arrive at honor and power by
weakening and degrading others. We have only to say to the Emperor that he
is his opponent, and seeks to release his officers from the oath they have
taken. Ferdinand is passionate and jealous of his prerogatives, and will
crush his rebellious vassal. To the Lutherans and their favorers we will
have it whispered by our friends that the Elector, as a rigid Calvinist,
threatens their faith, and proposes to restrict the privileges of their
country churches and to deprive of their offices all those who will not
confess the Calvinistic creed. The Lutherans are a hard-headed and
fanatical sect. He who menaces their faith is their arch-enemy, and they
will be ready to fight against him with fire and sword. The soldiers, you
know, are always ready to follow him who pays them best, and as regards
their officers, thanks to you, my son, we are sure of them. Let us now
adopt a fixed plan for hastening the crisis."
"I am only waiting for the return of the messenger whom I sent to
Sebastian von Waldow. He will bring us reliable information as to the
progress of organization among your adherents in Prussia, for Waldow has
gone himself to Koenigsberg to hold a consultation with Count Martinitz,
and to concert with our loyal friends a fixed plan of operations."
"We shall be obliged to go very slowly and cautiously to work," said Count
Adam thoughtfully. "We must first secure ourselves on all sides, and be
sure of the result before we venture to assume the offensive. The most
important thing now is to assure ourselves of the Emperor's favor and
approval. You, my son, must repair forthwith to Regensburg, where the
Emperor is at present. You will inform him that I have obtained orders
from the Elector to release the troops from their oath to the Emperor, and
to swear them into the Elector's service alone. You will say to his
Majesty that I have declined to yield to this order, and in the oath
administered to the officers have made their allegiance to the Elector
quite secondary to their obligations to himself. You will further notify
the Emperor that the soldiers' pay has been in arrears for a month,
because all our coffers are empty. Therefore ask, in my name, if it would
not perhaps be advisable, if we come to extremities, to take the
Brandenburg troops into the Emperor's pay, to give them rations in the
Emperor's name, and renew their oath to his Imperial Majesty. To effect
this, we have only to stimulate a little the discontent of the troops.
They are already tolerably desperate because they have not received their
wages. If the Elector does not speedily pay off the troops, the
desperation will reach its height, and a revolt break forth spontaneously."
"Thence it follows, most gracious sir, that they will become as wax to be
molded at your will."
"You are right, my son; we must manage to retain authority over friend and
foe. The troops here are a wild, lawless horde, knowing little of
discipline and order, and bearing much closer resemblance to a robber band
than a princely army. We must aim at having disciplined troops at hand,
such as are accustomed to obedience, and to this end must introduce
imperial troops into the Mark. Nothing further is necessary for this than
to begin hostilities against the Swedes with renewed activity, drawing
them down upon Berlin. It will then seem quite natural, considering the
weakness of the forces here, to invite the aid of the Emperor and his
troops in defending Berlin and protecting ourselves against the Swedes,
but in truth to help us in this great movement against the seditious
Elector, who would revolt against Emperor and empire.
"I commission you, my son, to unravel this whole scheme to the Emperor,
and to petition him for his countenance. For, without the imperial
approbation and without an assurance of success, we dare not proceed
further in this dangerous undertaking. We must have some security, too,
that the Emperor's Majesty will proportionately reward us if we gain the
Mark for him, and rid him of that mutinous, heretical Elector."
"I shall above all things seek to come to an understanding with Father
Silvio, and impress upon the Emperor's pious, zealous father confessor the
extent of glory and blessing to be acquired in behalf of the Church and
holy faith by wresting the Mark out of the hands of a heretic, and
bestowing it upon a believing, true Catholic, such as the Stadtholder in
the Mark. The father has the Emperor's ear, and, I believe, is favorably
disposed toward me. I shall use every means for enlisting his favor, and
it would be well to have some funds at my disposal for this purpose.
Father Silvio, noble and pious though he be, loves money, and is not
inaccessible to jewels and valuable gifts. He has in his apartments at
Vienna costly collections of precious stones and rare gold and silver
plate, and it affords him high gratification to add a few valuable
pieces to them."
"We will take care of that," said Count Adam, smiling. "Choose out of our
casket of gems a few things worthy the pious father's acceptance, and for
money you can draw upon the bankers Fugger of Nuremberg. I recently
deposited with them considerable sums, in case of emergency. They are
safer there than here in this starved-out Mark, among the desperadoes of
Berlin and Cologne, who have no affection for me, and perhaps some day may
take it into their heads to demand relief from me for their poverty and
want, and plunder me to enrich themselves. Among such a gaunt, hungry
populace we must be prepared for everything, and it is wise to be insured
against mishaps. In these present evil days, however, nothing but money
can raise an army, and only he who has money can aspire to being a
"The little Elector of Brandenburg has no money!" cried Count Adolphus,
"for which God be praised! He, therefore, can be no general. His troops
and his land belong to us, and, like the Margrave of Jaegerndorf and the
Elector of the Palatinate, the deposed Elector of Brandenburg may soon be
a wanderer in foreign lands, exposing his humiliation to the whole German
Empire. Nowhere will he find compassion, nowhere sympathy, for he is a
dangerous foe to all, and all will profit by his fall. Dear, honored
father, let me depart this very hour for Regensburg, in order to obtain
the Emperor's approval of our weighty plans, and to return to you the
earlier with plenipotentiary powers."
"You are right, Adolphus, haste makes speed, and we must strike while the
iron is hot. Set off, my son, this very hour if you choose. It will not be
necessary for me to write to the Emperor by you. You know perfectly how to
interpret my thoughts, and your spoken word is better than my written one.
God speed you, then, my son, I shall expect daily dispatches from you,
acquainting me with the progress of your negotiations."
"I shall write, father, and make use of the ciphers agreed upon between
us. You have preserved the key, have you not?"
"I have preserved it in my head," replied the count, pointing to his
forehead. "Important secrets should never be committed to paper, and I say
with Charles V, 'If one carries a great secret in his head, he should burn
his very nightcap, that it may not betray him.' Truly may it be said of us
two that we carry an important secret in our heads. Instead of a nightcap
I have burned the cipher key, that it may not one day betray us!"
"But the great secret will one day surprise the world," cried Count
Adolphus joyfully; "its trumpet peals will one day startle the whole of
Germany. From the palace balcony here in Berlin shall its triumphant
flourishes ring forth. The people in the streets will hear them in
astonishment, and to me they will sound as the rejoicing songs of the
heavenly hosts, and enraptured I shall look up to my father, standing
there majestic in the pomp of his princely power. If I may then fall at
your feet, all the ambitious dreams and aspirations of my heart will be
fulfilled, and all within me will rejoice and shout, 'Health and blessings
upon Prince Schwarzenberg, Margrave of Brandenburg!' Farewell now, dear
father! I hurry away, the earlier to return to you!"
Their plans matured, and every day approached nearer to completion, while
with firm hand Count Adam Schwarzenberg held the reins which guided the
great machinery of insurrection. He had sent Colonel Goldacker with his
regiment to Mecklenburg to draw out the Swedes, and to provoke them to
advance upon the Mark. The Swedes took up the gauntlet thrown down to
them, and, while they were opposed to Goldacker in Mecklenburg, other
Swedish regiments marched from Lausitz against Berlin. This was exactly
what the Stadtholder wished, and once more the devoted Mark saw the flames
of war burst forth, in order that Schwarzenberg might have an excuse for
summoning Saxon troops to his aid.
To-day these troops had reached Berlin, and the Stadtholder wished to
celebrate their arrival by a sumptuous _fete_ in his palace. To this
entertainment he had bidden Colonel Goldacker from Mecklenburg; the
commandants of Spandow and Berlin, with their officers, were also invited,
and already, in the early morning, they were preparing the table in the
great hall for the magnificent collation to be served at noon.
Meanwhile lamentation and mourning reigned in the cities of Berlin and
Cologne, while life went so merrily in the Schwarzenberg palace. The wild
hordes of soldiers made the streets unsafe even in the daytime. Drunken
they roved through the city, with the greatest tumult and uproar; they
broke into the houses of peaceful citizens to plunder and rob, and
wherever anything was refused them, they committed the most wanton acts,
laughing and singing over the tortures they inflicted. In vain had the
burghers applied to the officers of these ungovernable outlaws and
besought them to restrain the soldiery from outrages, to confine them to
their quarters, and to punish them for their thefts and robberies. The
officers declared that there was no means of enforcing so rigid a
discipline, and that in times of war some allowance should be made for
soldiers who with their own bodies protected the burghers from their foes.
But the poor, tormented burghers did not want war; they wanted peace!
Peace at any price. The States, too, who held their session in Berlin,
wanted peace, and to this end had sent out a deputation from their midst
to the Elector at Koenigsberg to implore him to pity their distress and to
command the Stadtholder in the Mark to abstain from hostilities against
The same suit the citizens desired to present to the Stadtholder, and
to-day, while preparations were in progress for a military entertainment
in the Schwarzenberg palace, a solemn deputation of the magistracy and
citizenship repaired to the same spot to lay before the Stadtholder their
wishes and entreaties. Count Schwarzenberg kept them waiting a long while
in his antechamber, and when he finally made his appearance his
countenance was proud and haughty, and his eyes shot angry glances upon
the poor representatives of the burghers, who stood with deprecating
humility before him.
"What would you have of me, sirs?" he cried, in a rough voice. "What have
you to say to me?"
"Most gracious sir," replied the burgomaster of Berlin, "we come to
entreat the aid and assistance of your excellency in behalf of our
afflicted cities. We are exhausted, hungry, plundered, driven to despair.
We can no longer bear the frightful burden of war. Have compassion upon
our affliction; make peace with the Swede, that he may not advance upon
Berlin, that we may not be forced to appeal to foreigners for our defense."
"Make peace!" cried the burghers, stretching out their hands imploringly
toward the Stadtholder, their eyes filled with tears. "O sir! we have
borne sorrow and wretchedness for so many long, bitter years! Our hearts
are crushed and desperate! Our souls are faint! Make peace, that we may
see some end to our trials! We have no nourishment, no money, not even a
shelter for our heads. The Swedes plundered us; the Imperialists took from
us what the Swedes left; and now our own soldiers drive us out of our bare
and empty dwellings, make sport of our calamities, mock the burghers,
insult our wives and daughters, and quarter themselves in our houses,
while we wander homeless about the streets, not even being able to procure
shelter in our churches because the cavalry have taken possession of these
with their horses, and converted the temples of God into filthy barracks!
Make peace, Sir Stadtholder, make peace!"
"I have not power to do so," replied Count Schwarzenberg haughtily,
"neither the power nor the will! The Swede is the enemy of our country,
and we must resist him with all the means at our command. Cease your
howling and shrieking, for it will be but in vain. War is upon us, and we
can not as cowards retreat before it. Shame upon you for your
pusillanimity and cowardice, since your men are still capable of bearing
"Sir, our men have no more strength for fighting. Our hands are too weak
to hold a weapon."
"Oh, you will be forced to handle them!" cried Schwarzenberg, laughing
scornfully. "When your houses are on fire, and you see your wives and
children dragged off by soldiers, then these cowards will be turned into
valiant warriors, who can at least defend their lives and the honor of
their families! I tell you, though, it will come to that. Extremity is
before you, and calls for terrible resolutions."
The burghers broke into loud lamentations, a few threw themselves on their
knees, others wept and wailed, while the lords of the magistracy
approached nearer to the count in order to make confidential
representations of the utter hopelessness and despondency of the two
unhappy cities of Berlin and Cologne.
Schwarzenberg, however, turned away from these representations with stern
composure. "I have not peace but war in hand," he said. "Why do you apply
to me now when you think, nevertheless, that you can receive no good save
from the Elector himself, who is your guardian angel, while I am the
destroying one. Wait and see what news the deputation of the States will
bring you from Koenigsberg. You besought the States in your time of trouble
to appeal to the Elector himself. Well, be patient and await their return.
However, I can tell you beforehand that they will bring you a refusal, for
the Elector wishes war, and has given me orders to that effect. He has
confirmed me in all my offices and dignities. He has most condescendingly
assured me of his unlimited confidence, and empowered me to act according
to my own unbiased judgment, and to guide the reins of government as I
shall choose. I hold them tight, and shall not he turned out of my way by
your whining and complaining. War is upon us, and should I have to lay
Berlin in ashes to avoid giving a shelter and asylum to the Swedes, it
shall be done, rather than conclude peace with them, yield to their
degrading conditions, and give up Pomerania to them! I therefore advise
you to be on good terms with the soldiers, to receive them kindly into
your houses, to entertain them well--"
"Sir," interrupted the first burgomaster, with a bitter cry of
distress--"sir, we have nothing with which we could entertain them, we--"
"Silence!" called out the Stadtholder, in a thundering voice--"silence! I
have heard you out, and it is my turn now to speak, and yours to listen
silently. Go and take your measures accordingly, and act as becomes
He turned upon his heel and with proud bearing re-entered his cabinet,
while the burghers sorrowfully slunk away, to spread throughout all Berlin
the dreadful news that all their entreaties had been in vain, and that the
war was to be prolonged.
"Yes, the war is to be prolonged," repeated Count Schwarzenberg, when he
again found himself alone in his cabinet. "We approach the _denouement_,
and if I could only get decisive tidings from my son, I would hurry on a
crisis and begin open war. He keeps me waiting for such tidings a very
long while," continued the count, dropping into the armchair in front of
his writing table. "He has only written once to me from Regensburg, and
then he could only inform me that he had commenced operations, and--Ah!"
he interrupted himself, as his glance fell upon his table, "there are
papers and dispatches, which must have come in my absence. Perhaps there
is among them a letter from my son."
He hastily snatched up the letters and examined one after another. No,
there was no letter from his son, only official documents from the
He opened the first of these, and a shudder ran through his whole frame as
he read. In this paper the Elector commanded the Stadtholder in the Mark
to send back to him the blank charters, intrusted to him by the Elector
George William on his departure for Koenigsberg; he must, moreover, render
a distinct and exact account of the manner in which he had disposed of the
charters no longer in existence. _He_, Schwarzenberg, the mighty
Stadtholder in the Mark, the Grand Master of the Knights of St. John, the
Director of the War Department--_he_, to be called to account as a servant
by his master! He was expected to answer for what he had done in the
plenitude of his power, and--worse than that--he must suffer that power to
be limited! He would do nothing of the sort; he would not give up the
blank charters not yet appropriated and send them back to the Elector!
That was to curtail the privileges of his high position, to dethrone him,
and, after having been an absolute master, to make him a dependent
servant! These blank charters had been the princely prerogative of the
Stadtholder, the scepter with which he ruled! These papers, on which
nothing was written, but at the lower corner of which stood the Elector's
sign manual--these papers had made him absolute monarch of the Mark. In
free plenitude of power, with unfettered will, had he filled up the
vacant sheets, bestowing by their means honors and benefits, inflicting
punishments, imposing taxes, and the Elector's signature had legalized his
decrees, and imparted the force of law to his will.
And these blank charters, before which his enemies trembled, which had
struck his partisans and friends as a precious attribute of his
power--these blank charters he was now called upon to resign!
"I shall not do it," he exclaimed, in a loud, determined voice--"no, I
shall not do it! I shall not be such a fool as to lessen my own power. No;
the blank charters are mine, I shall know how to hold them fast!"
He threw the rescript aside and seized another letter. Again from the
Elector's cabinet--again a command from him to the Stadtholder in the Mark!
He broke open the seal, unfolded the paper with trembling hands, and again
shuddered as he read; and a momentary pallor overspread his cheeks. This
writing contained the Elector's orders to suspend hostilities, and to
refrain from any attack upon the Swedes and the places occupied by them,
and most rigidly to confine himself to the defensive until an abiding
peace could be concluded with Sweden.
"You assail me, little Elector!" he said, with smothered, threatening
voice. "You bring out your reserves against me, and would cause the proud
edifice of my power to crumble away stone by stone! You fear lest if the
great Colossus falls at once it might crush you, and therefore you would
destroy it piecemeal, a little at a time! You shall not succeed, though,
little Elector; the Colossus will rear its head on high, and you alone
At this moment loud, angry and excited voices made themselves heard from
the antechamber, and a lackey tore open the door.
"Your excellency, the Commandants von Rochow, von Kracht, and Colonel von
Goldacker request an audience."
But the three gentlemen did not wait for the granting of this audience.
With unseemly haste they rushed into the cabinet, unceremoniously thrust
out the lackey, and closed the door behind him.
"Most gracious sir, do you know it?" screamed Rochow, the commandant of
"Do you know, your excellency, what things are going on?" growled Kracht,
the commandant of Berlin.
"Have you learned what bold steps the Elector is taking?" thundered
Colonel Goldacker, shaking his fist in a most menacing way.
"I know nothing, gentlemen, have heard nothing! Speak, tell me what has
"It has happened that the Elector has sent commissioners to all our
fortresses!" cried Herr von Rochow. "Two hours ago such a cursed fellow
came to me at Spandow, and when he had delivered me his message I left the
fool standing there without any answer, threw myself on my horse, and
galloped off to confer with your excellency."
"And such a confounded popinjay has been with me, too!" growled Herr von
Kracht. "He also imparted to me his Electoral message--command, the fellow
called it. I did just like Commandant von Rochow, left him standing while
I hurried off to your excellency."
"An Electoral mandate reached me also!" cried Colonel Goldacker, laughing.
"I simply showed the jackanapes the door, laughed him to scorn, and am
come to get my orders from your excellency!"
"But, gentlemen, with all this I know nothing and can not find out what
has happened. Sir Commandant von Rochow, inform me. What is the matter?"
"The matter is, your excellency," said Herr von Rochow, gnashing his
teeth, "that a commissioner from the Elector has come to me with his
master's orders, to require an oath of allegiance to the Elector from
myself and the whole garrison."
"A like order has the Elector's deputy handed to me!" cried the commandant
of Berlin; "the fellow wanted to swear me and my men into the Elector's
"I, too, must give such an oath to the commissioner!" screamed Goldacker,
"and my troops as well. What do you say to that, Sir Stadtholder in the
Just now, however, the Stadtholder said nothing. He turned pale and
tottered backward, until his hand rested upon a chair into which he sank.
His head swam, a sudden dizziness seized him, and he was obliged to put
his hand over his eyes, for everything was turning and whirling in a
circle around him. In the vehemence of their own excitement the three
gentlemen hardly observed this, and the count, with the energy of his
strong will, speedily recovered his composure and presence of mind.
"Your excellency!" cried Commandant von Kracht, "do you not agree with us?
Do you not find the Elector intolerably assuming?"
"I was silent because I was reflecting, gentlemen," said the count,
drawing a deep breath. "This appearance of the commissioner empowered to
administer to you your oaths of office is a challenge, thrown down to me
by the Elector, for I am Director of the War Department, and to me alone
should that duty have been committed of again binding the troops in the
Mark to him by oath. He insults me, and thereby insults the Emperor, for
you all know that the Emperor is your commander in chief, and that you
dare never break the oath to the Emperor, which I took from you after the
conclusion of the peace of Prague. You swore to do your duty for Emperor
and Elector, and for this reason, on the recent accession of the present
Elector, I only required the colonels to give me their hands in token of
their obligations already assumed, for an oath is an oath, and you can not
swear to serve one to-day and another to-morrow."
"We can not and will not, either," shouted Colonel Goldacker furiously. "I
have given my word to the Emperor. I remain true to the Emperor, and the
Emperor will protect us against the insolence of the little Elector."
"Yes, the Emperor will protect us," cried Colonel von Rochow. "I shall
take no new oath, for I have sworn to the Emperor, and not until the
Emperor has released me from the oath, and I have made a new agreement
with the Elector, can I swear to him. Until that time the oath which I
have taken to the Emperor remains binding." 
"I, too, have sworn to serve the Emperor, and shall abide by my oath,"
said the commandant of Berlin, as if weighing each word. "No one has a
right to command here but the Emperor and the Stadtholder in the Mark,
whom the Elector himself appointed. What that vagabond of a commissioner
says is nothing to the purpose--it signifies nothing to us."
"No, it signifies nothing to us," repeated the other gentlemen. "From you
alone, Sir Stadtholder, can we receive orders, for you are Director of the
Council of War, the representative of the Emperor and Elector. To you
alone we belong. Give us your orders; we are here to receive them!"
"Gentlemen," said the Stadtholder, pointing with his finger to a sealed
packet, lying on the writing table before him--"gentlemen, you interrupted
me by your entrance in the perusal of important dispatches, which had just
arrived for me from the Elector's cabinet. See, there lies an unopened
writing with the Electoral seal. Allow me to read it, for it contains the
Elector's commands, which may harmonize with those of his accredited
commissioner, or at least enter into particulars with regard to them."
The three officers bowed and reverentially retreated a few steps; but
their eyes rested with intense interest upon the count, who now broke the
seal and unfolded the paper. A deep silence followed. The piercing glances
of the three warriors rested on the count's countenance, which maintained
steadfastly its grave, serious expression. But now a scornful laugh burst
from him, 'and for a moment an expression of wild joy illuminated his
features. He rose, and with the paper in his hand approached the soldiers.
"Gentlemen," he said quietly, "I have a piece of news to communicate to
you, which I fear will incommode you and your men a little, and is not
calculated to heighten the love of the military for their chief. The
Elector commands me, until further notice, to put the troops upon summer
allowance, and the payment now in arrears is regarded as coming under the
same regulation. I beg you will inform your troops of this."
"That is shameful! That is contemptible! That will put the soldiers in a
perfect fury!" screamed the three officers together.
"I do not mean to tell my men!" exclaimed Herr von Rochow--"no, I shall
not tell them, for the fellows would be frantic, and in their desperation
might commit shameful acts!"
"I shall tell my men on the spot!" grumbled Herr von Kracht. "I shall tell
them on purpose to make them desperate, to make them rave! As far as I am
concerned, they are welcome to vent their spleen upon all Berlin, upon the
whole region round about. Let them go around, plundering and laying the
country under contribution; they are justified in doing so, for the
fellows can not subsist in winter on summer allowance, and therefore must
rob and plunder."
"I shall tell my soldiers directly, too," shouted Herr von Goldacker. "Not
but that it will give rise to a pretty tale of murder, a devilish scandal.
There will result a military out-break, and the burghers of Berlin and
Cologne may look to themselves; but the Elector has so willed it--the
Elector excites us as well as our subordinates to open insurrection. Let
him work his will now; it will only convince him that we are not to be
ruled by scraps of paper and decrees scribbled by feather-headed clerks,
and that he is not the irresistible lord, to whose piping we dance. The
little Elector shall be made to know that the Emperor alone is our supreme
officer, to him we have sworn fealty, and to him we cling despite the
Elector and all his deputies. I am going on the spot to give my
commissioner his dismissal--to tell him that I shall not swear, and then
to carry to my soldiers the news of their having been put upon summer
"I will go with you," cried Herr von Kracht. "I will also put my
commissioner out of the door, and convey the glad tidings to the garrison
"And I," said Herr von Rochow, "will forthwith dispatch a courier to
Spandow, to tell my lieutenant that he must send the commissioner out of
the fort, and tell the garrison that they are put on summer allowance. It
will stir up a fine hub-bub, I am sure of that."
"I, too, believe that the end will not be perfect peace," said the
Stadtholder, smiling. "Let the Elector learn that governing is not such an
easy matter as he supposes, but that a man may know a good deal, and yet
be an unskillful ruler. Go then, gentlemen, issue your orders, but forget
not that in an hour our entertainment begins, and that we must not allow
our feast to be disturbed by such little follies of the new _regime_."
"No, we will not allow ourselves to be disturbed!" cried Herr von Rochow.
"In one hour expect us here again, and you shall see, most gracious sir,
that we have brought with us our cheerfulness, our fine appetites, and our
"Yes, yes, your excellency, guard well your keys and bottles; we shall
take the field against them."
"Do so, gentlemen," said the count. "But go now, to return the sooner."
He nodded kindly to the officers and followed them with his eyes until the
door closed behind them. Then the composure of his features, the smile on
his lip, vanished, and his whole being seemed to express agitation and
bitterness of wrath.
"He will insist upon war," he said fiercely. "He smiles upon and strokes
me with one hand, while with the other he stabs me, inflicting wound upon
wound. Yes, yes, stone by stone he would crumble to dust the tower of my
strength, and thinks to crush me to atoms, supposing that I will
voluntarily bend to avoid being bent by him. Oh, you are mistaken, little
Elector; I am not afraid of you, I shall not bend before you! The Emperor
alone I serve, to him alone I am subject. But to me the Emperor is a
gracious master. He will ruin you and exalt me; he will protect me against
your arrogance. To me belongs the future, presumptuous young Prince! who
would rule here, where I have held undisputed sway for twenty years. To me
alone belongs the Mark, and I shall hold it for my lord and Emperor! The
crisis has come, and finds me prepared and resolute. The troops will
revolt, and then shall I step out among them, appease them in the
Emperor's name, with lavish hand scatter money among them, and again bind
them by oath to the Emperor! Oh, my heart leaps for joy, for the hour of
action has come. Only one thing I lack. I would just like to have certain
news from my son, to be sure that the Emperor approves of my plan, that he
will lift me up where the Elector would cast me down. But this, too, will
come, this wish will also be gratified. For I am a son of good fortune,
and all goes in accordance with my wishes! Away then with all sad and
gloomy thoughts! I would present a cheerful countenance to my guests--I
would appear before them in the full splendor of my glory!"
He repaired to his dressing room, where his valets arrayed him in the
magnificent habit of a Grand Master of the Knights of St. John, and upon
his breast shone the cross of the order set with sparkling brilliants.
Having completed his toilet, he went to the great mirror and, casting a
cursory glance therein, said to himself with some satisfaction that his
person was still stately and distinguished, well suited to a reigning
prince and fitted for wearing a crown! This thought lighted up his
countenance with joyful pride, and with high head he returned to his
cabinet. Chamberlain von Lehndorf entered, to inform his most noble master
that the guests were already assembled in the great reception room, and
longingly awaited his appearance. The chamberlain handed the count his
ermine-tipped velvet cap, with its long white ostrich plumes, and then
flew before to open for him the doors leading to the small antechamber,
where were assembled all the officers of the count's household, waiting to
follow their master into the hall.
Lehndorf stood at the door of the antechamber, and the Stadtholder smiled
upon him as he passed.
"No letters and dispatches from my son at Regensburg, Lehndorf?"
"None, most gracious sir."
"If a courier comes, let me know of it without delay," continued the
count, moving forward. "Anything else new, Lehndorf?"
"Nothing new, your excellency."
"What noise was that just now in the antechamber, while the commandants
were in my cabinet?"
"Most gracious sir, an insolent soldier--one of those Saxons who marched
in yesterday--forced himself into the antechamber, and with real
importunity begged to speak to your excellency."
"Why did you not bid him wait until the gentlemen had, gone, and then
"He would not consent to wait by any means, and with brazen face demanded
to see your excellency on the spot. The fellow was drunk, it was plain to
see, and in his intoxication: kept crying out that he must talk with your
excellency about an important secret; if you would not admit him directly,
he would go to Prussia and tell your secret to the Elector, which would
bring your honor to the scaffold. It was positively ridiculous to hear the
fellow talk, and the lackeys, instead of getting angry, laughed outright
at him, which only enraged him the more; he worked his arms and legs like
a jumping jack and made faces like a nut-cracker. However, when he again
presumed to abuse your grace, our people made short work of the drunken
knave, and thrust him out of doors."
"Well, I hope his airing will do him good," said the count, smiling, "and
that he came to his senses on the street."
"It seems not, though," replied Chamberlain von Lehndorf, making a signal
to the halberdiers stationed on both sides of the doors of the grand
reception hall that they should open the door--"no, it seems that the
airing did the drunken soldier no good. For, only think, gracious sir,
just now, as I passed through the front entry to get to your apartments,
there the man stood, and as soon as he saw me he sprang at me, seized my
arm, and whispered: 'Chamberlain von Lehndorf, I _must_ speak to the
Stadtholder. Only tell him my name, and I know that he will receive me.'"
"And did he tell you his name, Lehndorf?" asked the count, as he walked
"Yes indeed, noble sir," laughed the chamberlain; "with monstrously
important air he whispered his name in my ear, as if he had been the Pope
in disguise or the Emperor himself. I laughed outright, and left him
The count now stood close before the wide-open doors which led into the
grand reception hall. The halberdiers struck upon the ground with their
gold-headed staves; in the spacious, magnificently decorated hall appeared
a dense throng of army officers in their glittering uniforms and civil
dignitaries in their ceremonial garbs of office. Six pages, in richly
embroidered velvet suits, stood on both sides of the door, while in the
raised gilded balcony opposite the musicians arose and began to pour forth
a thundering peal of welcome as soon as they caught sight of the
Count Schwarzenberg, however, took no notice of this; he stood upon the
threshold of the door, and his smiling face was still turned upon his
"What name did the fellow give?" asked he carelessly.
"Oh, a very fine name, gracious sir. He had the same name as the blessed
"Gabriel?" echoed the count hastily and at the top of his voice, for the
musicians played so loud that a man could hardly hear his own voice, even
though he shouted. "Only Gabriel, nothing further?"
"Yes, most gracious sir," screamed the chamberlain, "he did call a second
name; but I confess _I_ did not pay much attention to it. I believe,
though, it was Nietzel. Yes, yes, I am quite sure he said Gabriel Nietzel!"
He shouted this out very loud, not observing, as he pronounced his last
words, that the music had ceased; the name Gabriel Nietzel, therefore,
rang like a loud call through the vast apartment, and the brilliant,
courtly assemblage laughed, although they understood not the connection
between the loud call and the hushing of the music. Chamberlain von
Lehndorf laughed too, and turned smiling to the count to apologize for his
But Count Schwarzenberg did not laugh; he looked pale, and with trembling
lips addressed his chamberlain: "Lehndorf, hurry out and conduct the
soldier to my antechamber. Tell him I will come to him directly. Do not
let the man get out of your sight, watch him closely. In five minutes, as
soon as I have welcomed my guests, I will come to the antechamber and
speak to the fellow myself. Go!"
The chamberlain flew off to obey this behest, and the Stadtholder entered
the hall. Behind him were ranged the twelve pages in their glittering
clothes, then followed the officers of the household in splendid uniforms.
Again the trumpets of the musicians sent forth their animating peals, and,
ranged around the hall in a wide circle, the staff officers, high
dignitaries, lords of the supreme court and of the magistracy, all with
the insignia of their rank, bowed reverentially before the almighty lord,
who now made his progress through the hall amid the clashing of trombones
and trumpets. He passed along the brilliant rows of guests with quick,
hurried step, but while his lips wore a smile, he thought to himself,
"When this abominable ceremony is over and I have completed the circuit,
I shall absent myself; I shall see if it is the veritable Gabriel Nietzel,
Just at this moment Chamberlain von Lehndorf approached him, and bent
close to his ear. "Most gracious sir!" he cried amid the clash of
trumpets--"most gracious sir, the man is no longer there. He has gone and
can no longer be seen in the street!"
The Stadtholder gave a slight nod of the head, and proceeded to bid his
Sumptuous was the feast, choice were the viands, and costly the fragrant
wines. The guests of the Stadtholder in the Mark were full of rapture,
full of admiration, and their lips were lavish in praises of the noble
count, while their eyes shone brighter from partaking of the generous
wine. The lackeys flew up and down the hall, waiting upon the guests, the
pages stood behind the count's chair, and offered his excellency food and
drink in vessels of gold. At first they sat at table with grave and
dignified demeanor, but gradually the delicious viands enlivened their
hearts, the glowing wine loosened their tongues, and now they laughed and
talked merrily and gave themselves entirely up to the pleasures of the
table. Louder swelled the hum of mingled voices. Peals of laughter rang
through the banquet hall, until in their turn they were drowned by bursts
of dashing music, whose inspiring strains blended with the animated tones
of the human voice. Count Adam Schwarzenberg, who sat at the upper end of
the table under a canopy of purple velvet, heard all this, and yet it
seemed to him like a dream, and as if all this bustle, laughing, and
merrymaking came to him from the distant past. He heard the confusion of
voices, the clangor of the music, but it sounded hollow in his ear, and
above all rang fearfully distinct the name which Lehndorf had
pronounced--Gabriel Nietzel! His guests sang and laughed, but he heard
only that one name--Gabriel Nietzel!
Round about the long table he saw only glad faces, beaming eyes, and
flushed cheeks, but he saw them vanish and other faces arise before his
inner eye, faces of the past! There sat the Elector George William, with
his easy, good-natured countenance. He nodded smilingly at him, and his
glance, full of affection, rested upon _him_, the favorite. Yes, he had
loved him dearly, that good Elector! Out of the little, insignificant
Count Schwarzenberg he had made a mighty lord, had exalted him into a
Stadtholder, into the most powerful subject in his realm! And how had he
"Gabriel Nietzel! Gabriel Nietzel!" He heard the maddening words ringing
clearly and distinctly above the din of music, song, and laughter--"Gabriel
There he stood in page's dress, across there, behind the chair of the
young Electoral Prince, whose pale, noble features had just begun to
quiver convulsively--there he stood and cast a look of intelligence at
_him_, Count Schwarzenberg.
"Gabriel Nietzel! Gabriel Nietzel!"
Ever thus rang the echo through the hall, and however varied the medley of
sounds, to him all was embodied in that name. For long months he had
caused search to be made for him, but nobody had been able to bring him
any tidings of Gabriel Nietzel's whereabouts. So, gradually, he had
forgotten him, and his anxiety about him had died away. Why must this
dreaded name make itself heard again to-day, just to-day, when he was
inaugurating the bright days of his future with this splendid feast? Why
must that hateful name mingle with the rejoicings of his merry guests?
He would think of it no more, no more allow himself to be haunted by
phantoms of the past! Away with memories, away with that unhappy name!
Vehemently, indignantly he shook his lofty head, as if these memories were
only troublesome insects to be driven away by the mere wrinkling of his
brow. He even called a smile to his lips, and with a proud effort at
self-control arose from his armchair and lifted the golden beaker on high,
in his right hand.
If he spoke himself, he would no longer hear that perpetual ringing and
singing within his breast--"Gabriel Nietzel! Gabriel Nietzel!"
He lifted the golden beaker yet higher and bowed right and left to his
guests, who had risen to their feet and looked at him full of expectancy.
"To the health of the Emperor Ferdinand, our most gracious Sovereign and
The musicians struck their most triumphant melody; with loud huzzas and
shouts the guests repeated, "To the health of our most gracious lord and
"Gabriel Nietzel! Gabriel Nietzel!" Still it rang in Schwarzenberg's ears,
and he sank back in his armchair and felt a sense of helpless despondency
creep over his heart.
The guests followed his example and resumed their seats. A momentary
silence ensued. All at once Chamberlain von Lehndorf rose from his place,
took his glass with him, and went along the table to the Counselor of the
Exchequer von Lastrow, who was carrying on an earnest conversation in an
undertone with the burgomaster of Berlin. The chamberlain's face was
flushed with wine, his eyes sparkled, and his gait was so wavering and
unsteady that even the goblet in his hand swung to and fro.
"Counselor von Lastrow," he said, with loud, peremptory voice, "you
refused to drink the health proposed by his excellency the Stadtholder in
the Mark. The toast was to his Majesty our lord and Emperor. You did not
lift up your glass, nor touch that of your neighbor. Wherefore was this?
Why did you not drink to the welfare of our lord and Emperor?"
"I will tell you why, Chamberlain von Lehndorf," replied Herr von Lastrow,
leaping up and confronting the chamberlain in his gay uniform, with dagger
dangling at his side--"I will tell you why I did not accept the
Stadtholder's toast, and may all his guests hear and ponder. I thank you,
Sir Chamberlain, for affording me an opportunity of expressing myself
openly and candidly on this subject. Permit me, gentlemen, to answer in
the hearing of you all the question which the chamberlain has addressed to
As the counselor thus spoke his large black eyes surveyed both sides of
the long table. All present were silenced, all eyes were directed to the
lower end of the table, and each one listened with strained attention to
hear the answer of Herr von Lastrow.
Count Schwarzenberg had risen from his chair and given the rash
chamberlain a look of displeasure. Yet he felt so embarrassed by his own
anxiety that he dared not call him.
"Gabriel Nietzel! Gabriel Nietzel!" rang ever in his ears, frightening
away all other sounds, until they seemed to reach him only as dim and
hollow echoes from afar.
"Gentlemen!" cried Herr von Lastrow now, in a loud voice, "I did not drink
the Stadtholder's toast because it would have been contrary to my duty and
my oath. Ferdinand is Emperor of the German Empire, and as such we owe him
reverence and respect, but when the toast styles him our lord and Emperor
I can not respond to it, for Ferdinand is not my lord! No, the Elector
Frederick William is my master, and now I lift my glass and cry, 'Long
live Frederick William, our lord and Elector!'"
"Long live Frederick, our lord and Elector!" shouted voices here and there
at the table, and all followers of the Elector sprang from their seats,
held aloft their glasses, and shouted again and again, "Long live
Frederick William, our lord and Elector!"
"Strike up, musicians!" called Herr von Lastrow to the balcony, where the
musicians sat, who lifted their trombones and trumpets and put them to
their lips. But before a note was struck, Lehndorf shouted fiercely up to
them: "Silence! Dare not to blow a single blast! I forbid you in the name
of our master, the Emperor!"
A wild yell of indignation from the Electoralists and a loud burst of
applause from the Imperialists followed these words. Nobody remembered
any longer that he was there as the guest of Schwarzenberg, the proud
count and Stadtholder. All prudence, all sense of respect was swallowed up
in the storms of political passion. With threatening aspect and flashing
eyes stood the Electoralists and Imperialists opposite each other, and,
while the former lifted up their glasses, to touch them in honor of their
Sovereign and Elector, the latter knocked their glasses tumultuously on
the table, and broke out into loud laughter and deafening imprecations. No
one any longer paid honor to the master of the house--no one thought of
him, in fact. He had risen from his seat with the intention of going to
the other end of the table, where now a furious duel of words was
progressing between his chamberlain and Herr von Lastrow. He desired to
pacify them, to smooth over the contention; but it was already too late,
for ere he had reached the middle of the hall, a catastrophe had occurred
between the contending parties. Counselor von Lastrow raised his arm, and
administered to Chamberlain Lehndorf a sounding box upon the cheek.
One unanimous shriek of rage from the Imperialists, and they rushed toward
Lehndorf and drew their swords. Behind Lastrow the Electoralists ranged
themselves, and they, too, laid bare their weapons.
Count Schwarzenberg tottered back. He perceived that it was too late to
pacify now, that all temporizing had become impossible. He had a feeling
that he must flee away, that it did not comport with his dignity to stand
there powerless and inactive between two factions. In this moment of
weakness and indecision his confidential valet approached him.
"Most gracious sir," he whispered, "a courier from Regensburg, from Count
John Adolphus, has just arrived. I have already laid the letter upon your
excellency's writing table. It is marked 'urgent.'"
Count Schwarzenberg turned to hurry from the hall, to escape the wild
tumult, to take refuge in his cabinet, and, above all things, to read the
long-expected letter from his son.
The uproar in the hall waxed ever fiercer, weapons clashed and wild battle
cries resounded. He quickened his pace, and opened the door of the hall.
Behind him rang out a piercing shriek, a death cry! Quivering in every
fiber of his being the count turned round to--Once more that piercing
shriek was heard, and Herr von Lastrow, with Lehndorf's dagger in his
breast, fell backward into the arms of his friends with the death rattle
in his throat.
Count Schwarzenberg, seized with horror, rushed on through the deserted,
brilliantly lighted apartments--on, ever on. But that fearful shriek went
with him, ringing ever in his ears. It drove him onward like a fury, and
his hair stood on end and his heart beat to bursting.
He had heard it once before, that death cry!
In the stillness of night it had sounded that time in the castle of
Berlin, when a pale woman had knelt at his feet and pleaded for her life!
Often had he heard it since; it had awakened him from sleep, it had often
startled him when engaged in merry conversation with his friends; at the
festive board it had drowned the music as far as he was concerned, this
death cry, this Fury of his conscience!
At last he reached his cabinet. He threw himself into a chair. God be
thanked, he was alone here! He had quiet and solitude here!
He surveyed the room and an infinite feeling of relief and security came
"Gabriel Nietzel! Gabriel Nietzel!" was whispered in his heart, and he
looked timidly around, as if he feared to see him in each corner. Then a
shriek resounded in his ear--that death cry!
It had penetrated into his quiet cabinet, she stood behind him, she
screamed in his ear, "Gabriel Nietzel! Rebecca!"
Perfectly unmanned, the count leaned back in his easychair, the sweat
standing in great drops upon his brow. He no longer even remembered that
he had come there to read his son's important letter! His soul was
shattered in its inmost depths. Gabriel Nietzel was there again! A murder
had been committed in his house--at his table! Committed, too, by his own
servant, his favorite, his friend! He durst not pardon him; he must punish
the murderer according to the law. He must pronounce sentence of death on
him, who had slain his fellow-man! He foresaw this in the future! He saw
himself as judge, the viceregent of God and justice, opposite the pale
criminal, his servant, his friend, upon whom he pronounced sentence!
He! Would his lips dare to utter a sentence of death? Dared the murderer
"Gabriel Nietzel! Gabriel Nietzel! Rebecca! Rebecca!" screamed the voice
behind his chair. But hark! what noise is that? What means that confused
jumble of groans and yells and shouts--that howling as of fierce and
sweeping winds, that roar as of the mighty deep? What is that so like the
rolling of thunder? Are those wolflike howls the voices of men? Is that
the tramp of human feet? Before his windows it surges and dashes, howls
With difficulty Schwarzenberg rises from his chair, and, creeping to the
window, conceals himself behind the hangings and cautiously looks out upon
the street. A dense throng of soldiers surges beneath his windows; the
whole street, the whole square is packed with them. Angry faces, the
voices of furious men, hundreds upon hundreds of uplifted fists and
"He shall pay us our money! He wants to cheat us out of our pay! He wants
to put us upon summer allowance and pocket the rest of the money! It is
said this is done by the Elector's command. But it is a lie, an abominable
lie! Schwarzenberg lets nobody command him. He is master here. He wants us
to starve that his own riches may be increased. We will not suffer it! He
shall pay us for it! Hurrah! Storm the house!"
"A mutiny!" muttered Count Schwarzenberg. "They were to have rebelled, and
so they do. But they rebel against me! I flung down the sword, and its
point is turned against myself. So the spirits of hell grant what they
have promised us--what we have purchased at the price of our souls! They
give the reward, but even while they are paying it out to us it becomes a
curse and ruins us!"
How they storm and rage and roar without! How they beat and hammer against
the locked doors! Count Schwarzenberg stands behind the window and hears
them! He hears other voices, too--Goldacker, Kracht, and Rochow
endeavoring to calm them, exhorting them to be patient.
Futile efforts! Ever louder grow the knocking and thundering against the
house. Stones are hurled against the walls, the window shutters rattle and
are shivered to pieces, the doors creak and give way.
"If they attempt to murder me, I shall not stand on the defensive,"
murmurs Count Schwarzenberg to himself, as he retires from the window,
slowly traverses the apartment, and again sinks down upon the chair by his
writing table. The door of the cabinet is violently torn open, and in rush
the Commandants von Kracht and von Rochow, followed by the captains of
"Gracious sir, it is impossible to calm these madmen. They no longer heed
orders. They are beside themselves with rage. They have already broken
open the doors and forced their way into the entrance hall. They will
plunder and despoil the whole palace! We can save nothing more, prevent
nothing more! You are lost, so are we, and all Berlin!"
"Be it so!" says Schwarzenberg loftily. "Let the whole earth fall down and
overwhelm me in its ruins. I shall but be buried beneath them!"
"Gracious sir, only hear! The howling and yelling come ever nearer, and
are continually gaining in strength! Gracious sir, have pity upon us,
upon yourself! Save us all!"
"Save? How can I save any one? Will those savage hordes obey me, when they
refuse submission to you, their officers?"
"Gracious sir, they demand their pay! They demand money! Nothing will
appease them but money, and assurances that they shall have their winter
allowance. Give us money to quiet that raging host! Money--money!"
"How much would you have? How much is needful to tame that fierce, wild
"Three hundred dollars!" calls out Herr von Kracht.
"No; four hundred dollars!" shouts Herr von Rochow.
"Five hundred dollars!" growls Herr von Goldacker. "No, give us six
hundred dollars, which would do the thing thoroughly."
"Well, be it six hundred dollars then," says the count, with an expression
of contemptuous scorn. "Stay here, gentlemen; I will return directly. I am
only going to fetch the money."
He left the cabinet and entered his sleeping apartment, where, at the side
of the bed, stood the great iron chest to which he alone had the key.
After a few minutes he rejoined the officers in his cabinet. He had six
rolls of money in his hand, two of which he handed to each of the three
"Here, gentlemen," he said, with bitter mockery, "here are the commandants
who have authority to bring their troops to order. Go and show them to
your men, and order them to follow these commandants to the cathedral
square, and there distribute the money among them."
The gentlemen wished to thank him, but with a wave of his hand he pointed
them to the door, and they hurried out to their soldiers.
Schwarzenberg looked after them, and listened to the rumbling and roaring
without in the entrance hall of his house. Suddenly it became gentler, and
finally ceased altogether. Then, after a pause, rang forth a loud shout of
joy, and again the street filled with soldiers, again was heard the loud
tramp of feet, the uproar and confusion of many tongues. "The wretches
have marched off," murmured Count Schwarzenberg to himself. "Yes, yes,
with money we buy love, with money hatred and--"
"Hurrah! Long live Count Schwarzenberg!" sounded below his windows. "Long
live the Stadtholder in the Mark!"
"That shout costs me six hundred dollars," said he, shrugging his
shoulders. "To-morrow, most likely the mob will come again to threaten me,
that I may again purchase a cheer from them. Well, for the present at
least I have rest. Nobody shall disturb me. Nobody shall intrude upon me."
He stepped to the doors leading into his sleeping room and antechamber,
and bolted them both. He did not think of the secret door which led to the
little corridor and thence to the private staircase, and did not bolt
that. Why should he have done so? The steps were so little used, so few
knew of them, so few, of the existence of the little side door which led
to them. It was not necessary to lock that door, for no one would come to
him in that way.
He was alone, God be praised, quite alone! And now again he remembered
the important letter, which he had forgotten while the soldiers' riot was
in progress. There lay his son's letter, on his writing table. He hastened
thither and seated himself in the armchair, taking up the letter and
examining its address. The sight of his son's handwriting rejoiced his
heart, as a greeting from afar.
He drew a deep sigh of relief. All anguish, all cares had left him as soon
as he took his son's letter in his hand. Even the warning voice in his
heart had hushed, even the Fury no longer stood behind his chair; he no
longer heard her death cry. All was silent in that spacious apartment
behind him, on which he turned his back.
He took the letter, broke the seal, and slowly unfolded the paper. But now
he put off reading its contents for one moment more. This sheet of paper
contained the decision of his whole future, it would either exalt him into
a reigning prince by bringing him the Emperor's sanction, or lower him
into an underling of the Elector, making him a nobody, if--But no, it was
impossible! The Emperor would not disavow him! It was folly to think of
such a thing!
He fixed his eyes on the paper and began to read. But as he read, his
breath came ever quicker, his cheeks became more pale, his brow more
clouded. His hands began to tremble so violently that the paper which they
held rattled and shook, and finally dropped on the table.
Motionless and gasping for breath the count sat there, staring at the
letter. Then its contents flashed through him like a sudden shock, and,
collecting his faculties, he once more snatched up the paper.
"It is impossible!" he cried aloud, "I read falsely! That can not be! My
eyes surely deceived me! My ears shall lend their evidence! I will hear my
sentence of condemnation!"
And with loud voice, occasionally interrupted by the convulsive groans
which escaped his breast, he read: "I am grieved to announce to you,
beloved and honored father, that our affairs have not prospered, as we
hoped and expected. Through the intercession of good Father Silvio, I had
a long interview yesterday with the Emperor. And the result of it is this:
The Emperor loves you, it is true; he calls you his most faithful servant,
and promises ever to be a gracious Sovereign to you, but he will never
further your projects of becoming an independent ruler, and will not
assist you to effect the Elector's ruin, that you may usurp his place. He
rather wishes you to remain what you are--Stadtholder in the Mark--and to
exert all your energies in maintaining that position, since the Emperor
relies upon your good offices for securing him an ally in the Elector. The
Mark is to remain Frederick William's domain, but the Elector must become
an Imperialist. Such is the will and pleasure of the Emperor. He urged me
to beg you to evince more complaisance and deference for the Elector, that
you may acquire influence over him. The Emperor had been much shocked by
the news sent him from Koenigsberg by Martinitz. It appears certain from
this information, my dear father, that the Elector is much set against
you, and that he only makes use of your continuance in office as a mask,
behind which he may, unseen, direct his missiles against you. The Elector
has taken your refusal to come to Koenigsberg upon his invitation in very
ill part, and it has excited his highest displeasure. We have played a
dangerous game, and I fear we have lost it."
"Lost!" screamed the count, crushing the paper in his hand into a ball and
dashing it to the ground. "Yes, I have lost and am ruined! The end and aim
of my whole life are defeated! I aimed at the summit, and when I have
nearly reached my goal an invisible hand hurls me back, and I am plunged
into an abyss!"
"As serves you right, for God is just!" said a solemn voice behind him,
and a hand was laid heavily upon his shoulder.
Count Schwarzenberg uttered a shriek of horror and turned round. A soldier
stood behind him--an Imperial soldier in dirty, tattered garments, a poor,
miserable man. And yet the count sprang from his chair, as if in the
presence of some prince or superior being before whom he must bow with
reverence. With bowed head he stood before this soldier, and dared not
look him in the face!
Yes, it was a prince, it was a superior being before whom he bowed! He
stood before his judge, he stood before his conscience! He knew it, he
felt it! A cold hand was laid upon his heart and contracted it
convulsively; it was laid upon his head and bowed it low. Death was there,
and his name was Gabriel Nietzel!
"Gabriel Nietzel!" murmured his ashy pale lips, "Gabriel Nietzel!"
"You recognize me, then?" said the soldier quietly and coldly. "Look at
me, count, lift your eyes upon me! I want to see your countenance!"
With a last effort of strength Count Schwarzenberg resumed his
self-control. He raised his head, affecting his usual proud and
self-satisfied air. "Gabriel Nietzel!" he cried, "Whence come you? What
would you have of me? How did you come in here?"
"How did I come in?" repeated he. "Through yon door!"
And he pointed at the door opening upon the secret staircase. "I came
twice and begged to be allowed access to you, but was refused. This time I
admitted myself. You once sent me down the secret stairway, and pointed
out that mode of exit to me yourself, when your son was coming to visit
you. What do I want? I want you to give me my wife, my Rebecca; and if you
have murdered her, I want _your life_!"
"Would you murder me?" exclaimed the count in horror, while moving slowly
backward. Keeping his eyes fixed upon Gabriel Nietzel, he sought to gain
the door to his bedchamber. But Nietzel guessed his design and disdainfully
shook his head. "Do not take that trouble," he said. "I have abstracted
both keys and put them in my pocket. You can not escape me."
Count Schwarzenberg's eyes darted a quick, involuntary glance across at
the round table on which stood his bell. Nietzel intercepted this glance
and understood that the count meant to call his people. He took up the
bell and thrust it into his bosom.
"Give up your efforts to evade me," he said. "God sends me to you. God
will punish your crime by means of this hand, which you once bribed to
commit a murderous deed. Count Schwarzenberg, you have acted the part of
the devil toward me! You have robbed me of my soul! Give it back to me! I
demand of you my soul!"
"He is insane," said Count Schwarzenberg, softly to himself. But Nietzel
caught his meaning.
"No," he said sorrowfully--"no, I am not insane. God has denied me that
consolation. I know what has been, and what is. There was a time--a
glorious, blessed time--when I forgot everything, when all pain was
banished, and I was happy--ah, so happy! They said, indeed, that I was
mad; they called it sickness, forsooth, and locked me up, and tormented
me. But I was so happy, for _I_ saw my Rebecca always before me, she was
ever at my side and--Count, where have you left my Rebecca? Where is she?
Give her to me! I will have her again, my own Rebecca! Give her back to
me, directly, on the spot!"
He seized him with both his arms, his hands clutching his shoulders like
claws. "Where is Rebecca--my Rebecca?"
Gabriel Nietzel stared at the count with frenzied fury, with devouring
grief. Schwarzenberg cast down his eyes, a shudder passed over his frame,
and terror-stricken he turned his head. It seemed to him as if, while
Gabriel pressed upon his shoulders in front, some one came stealthily up
to him from behind. He heard a cry--a death cry! The Fury was there again!
He could not escape her now!
"Let me go, Gabriel Nietzel," he said feebly. "Quit your hold, go away. I
will give you treasures, honors, distinctions, if you only quit your hold
and go away!"
"What will you give me, if I let you go?" screamed Gabriel Nietzel,
tightening his grasp and shaking him violently. "What will you give me?"
"I will give you a fine house, I will give you thousands, I will give you
rank and titles. Tell me what you want, and I will give it to you!"
"Give me Rebecca! I want _her_ and her alone! Tell me where she is or I
will kill you!"
"She is in my house at Spandow," said the count hastily. "Come, we will go
away. You shall have your Rebecca again. Come, let us go! Rebecca is
longing for you! Come!"
"You are deceiving me!" laughed Gabriel Nietzel. "I see it in your eyes,
you are deceiving me. You want me to open the doors, and then you will
call your people. There is no truth in what you say. Rebecca is not at
Spandow; I know that, for I have been there. I stood many hours before the
windows of your palace and called upon her name. She would have heard if
she had been there; she would have come to me--she would have freed me
from all my sufferings. For, you must know, my Rebecca loved me! Because
she loved me, that she might expiate the crime which you had tempted me to
commit, that she might lift the weight of sin from my head, she went back
to Berlin and bade me go on with our child. I had solemnly sworn that to
her, and I kept my oath. I went on, following the route we had agreed upon
together. I waited for her at every resting place, and always waited in
vain. I came to Venice, and went to the house of Rebecca's father; but she
was not there. I wanted to go in search of her, but they held me fast,
they imprisoned me in a dark dungeon. And there I sat a whole century, and
yet was patient, ever waiting for the moment when I might escape from them
and go to look for my Rebecca. And at last the moment came. The jailer
entered to bring me my food; we were quite alone, and they had taken off
my chains, for I had been harmless and gentle for some months past. I
seized him, choked him, so that he could not scream, took his keys, and
fled. God helped me; he always pities the poor and unfortunate--he knew
that I wanted to search for Rebecca. I came to Germany; I enlisted as a
soldier, for I durst not die of hunger, else I could not reach Berlin and
find my Rebecca. But now I am here, and ask you in the name of God and in
view of the judgment day, where is Rebecca?"
"I do not know," murmured Count Schwarzenberg, whom Gabriel Nietzel still
held closely pinioned in his grasp.
"You do not know?" shrieked Gabriel Nietzel. "I read it in your face, you
have murdered her. Yes, yes, I see it, I feel it--you have murdered her!
Confess it, wretch! fall down upon your knees and confess that you have
Schwarzenberg would have denied it, but he could not; conscience paralyzed
his tongue, so that it could not utter the falsehood. He wanted to make
resistance against those dreadful hands which held him fast, but he had no
more power. Everything swam before him, there was a roaring in his ears,
his knees tottered and shook, and the perspiration stood in great drops
upon his brow.
"Mercy," he murmured, with quivering lips--"mercy! I will make good again,
"Can you give me Rebecca again?" asked Gabriel, who now suddenly passed
from the extreme of wrath to a cold tranquillity. "Can you undo and make
null your evil deeds? Can you take from me the guilt you brought upon me?
_No_, you can not, and therefore you must die, for crime must be expiated!
You murdered my Rebecca, and therefore I shall murder you. Adam
Schwarzenberg, pray your last prayer, for I am here to kill you!"
"No, you will not!" cried Schwarzenberg. "No; you will be reasonable--you
will accept my offers! I promise you wealth and consideration, I--"
"Silence and pray, for you must die! Death is here, Adam Schwarzenberg,
for Gabriel Nietzel is here!"
He saw it, he knew that Gabriel spoke the truth. He knew that this man,
with the pale, distorted, grief-worn face, with those large eyes flaming
with the fires of insanity, was to be his murderer. Death had come to
summon him away--death in the form of Gabriel Nietzel!
And so, he was to die! He, the mighty, the rich, the noble Count
Schwarzenberg! _He_ whose name all Germany revered, _he_ before whom all
bowed in humility, who had had control over millions! _He_ was to die by
the hand of a madman, to die alone, unwept! If his son were only with him,
his dear, his only son, who loved him, who--"Have you prayed?" asked
Gabriel Nietzel, who had been waiting in silence.
"No," said Schwarzenberg, startled out of his train of thought--"no, I
have not prayed! Why do you ask that?"
"Because you must die!" replied Gabriel Nietzel, grasping him more firmly
with his left hand, and with his right drawing forth a dagger from his
breast. The count profited by this moment, tore himself loose, jumped
back, and rushed toward the open door of the secret passage. But Nietzel
sprang past him, and already stood before the door, confronting him again!
As he saw the dagger glitter in the air, he remembered, with the rapidity
of thought, the instant when he had stood before Rebecca, with the drawn
dagger in his hand.
She had cried "Mercy! mercy!" He wanted to cry so, too, but could not!
Like a flash of lightning it darted across his eyes, like a crushing blow
it fell upon his brain. He uttered a piercing shriek, tumbled backward,
and fell upon the ground, with rattling in his throat and with dimmed
Gabriel Nietzel bent over him and looked long into that convulsed
countenance, and into those eyes which were fixed upon him with a look of
entreaty! Nietzel understood that look. "No," he said roughly--"no, I do
not forgive you, I have no pity upon you. Be you cursed and condemned, and
go to the grave in your sins! God has been gracious to me; he has not
willed it that I should be stained with your blood. He has laid his own
hand upon you and smitten you. You will perhaps have long to suffer yet.
He put up his dagger, strode through the apartment, stepped out upon the
secret passage and closed the door behind him.
"And now," he said, when he found himself outside--"now I shall go and
acknowledge my sins to the Elector. He will be compassionate, and allow me
to mount the scaffold. I shall then have atoned for all, and will once
more be united to my Rebecca!"
Was it possible that this wretched, sobbing, deathly pale something, lying
there on the floor of the cabinet, was but a few hours since the proud,
the mighty, the dreaded and courted Count Adam von Schwarzenberg, the
Stadtholder in the Mark? Now he was a poor dying beggar, longing for a
drink of water, and with no one near to hand him the refreshing draught;
who longed for a tear, and had no one to weep for him; who longed for
forgiveness, and God himself would not forgive him! Hours, eternities of
anguish went by, and still he lay helpless and solitary upon the floor! He
plainly heard how they came and knocked, and then moved softly away,
because they supposed that he had shut himself up to work. He heard them,
but he could not call, for his tongue was palsied! He could not move, for
his limbs were paralyzed!
Hours, eternities of anguish went by. Then his old valet came through the
secret door, creeping softly in, and found him, that pitiable creature, on
the floor, and screamed for help. Then the doors were broken down, and the
servants came and the physicians. They lifted him up and bore him to the
divan. He breathed, he lived! Perhaps help might not yet be impossible!
Everything was tried, but all in vain. He still lived and breathed, but he
was paralyzed in all his limbs, and soon the inner organs, too, refused to
exercise their functions. They removed the invalid to Spandow because the
mutinous regiments were perpetually threatening to renew their attack upon
the count's palace, and might disturb the repose of the dying man. There
he lay in his castle, a living corpse for four days more, with open eyes,
giving token that he heard and understood what was passing about him.
Finally, at the end of four days, on the 4th of March, 1641, Count Adam
von Schwarzenberg closed his eyes, and of the haughty, powerful, dreaded
Stadtholder in the Mark, nothing was left but cold, stiff clay!
VII.--THE SEALING OF THE DOCUMENTS.
A courier, sent to Regensburg by Herr von Kracht, commandant of Berlin,
immediately upon the decease of Count Adam Schwarzenberg, had prompted his
son Count John Adolphus to expedite his departure from that place, and to
journey by forced stages to Berlin. He repaired first to Spandow. and had
his father's embalmed remains interred with great pomp in the village
church. After having thus discharged this first filial duty, he proceeded
to Berlin to take possession of the inheritance left him by his father.
The whole inheritance! Not the smallest part of it should be abstracted
from him! In his father's lifetime he had been appointed his coadjutor in
the Order of the Knights of Malta; now, since his father was dead he must
be his successor, must be Grand Master of the Order of St. John. He sent
orders to Sonnenberg, summoning a solemn chapter of the order to hold its
sitting, and to send in the oath of service due him. In his father's
lifetime he had been his associate in the office of Stadtholder; now, his
father being no more, he claimed the stadtholdership in the Mark as his
lawful heritage. And his friends and adherents strengthened the ambitious
young count in these pretentions. As soon as John Adolphus had taken up
his residence in Berlin, Commandant von Kracht placed guards before the
gates of his palace, and every evening demanded a watchword from the young
Commandant von Rochow of Spandow placed himself and his garrison wholly at
the disposal of the "young Stadtholder," and Colonel von Goldacker swore
that he would obey the orders of none other than Count John Adolphus,
Grand Master of the Order of St. John and Stadtholder in the Mark.
Count John Adolphus allowed himself to be rocked in these olden dreams of
power and ambition, believed in their realization, and was firmly
determined to do everything to prove their truth. He accepted the guard,
gave the watchword, and sent orders to Sonnenburg, as if he were already
elected grand master; he required an oath of fealty from all those places
which had been pledged to his father by the Elector George William. He
also issued his mandates in Berlin, and toward magistrates and judiciary
he assumed the attitude of Stadtholder in the Mark. And nobody ventured to
contradict him, no court had the spirit to oppose him, for the young count
stood at the head of a host of powerful and influential friends; the
courts were weak and powerless, and as yet no instructions had been
received from the Elector at Koenigsberg.
Count John Adolphus husbanded his time well. He sent messengers in all
directions, corresponded with all his father's friends and adherents,
summoning them to rally around him, and to come sword in hand. He held
correspondence also with the father confessor Silvio at Vienna, nay, even
with the Emperor himself. Restlessly active was he from morning till
night, his whole being absorbed in this one effort--to ruin the Elector,
and to win for himself his rank and power! His friends seconded him in
striving to attain this great end. Everywhere they were active, everywhere
they sought to work for him and to procure him adherents. At Spandow and
Berlin the Commandants von Kracht and von Rochow declared themselves ready
to place garrison and fortress entirely under his direction; Colonel von
Goldacker, commandant of Brandenburg, had betaken himself to his post, and
only awaited the count's word to sound the tocsin of war. In Koenigsberg
the Court Marshal von Waldow was most energetically massing the friends of
Schwarzenberg, and his brother, Sebastian von Waldow, traveled from place
to place, to gain friends and partisans for Count John Adolphus, and to
ask them to come to Berlin, that, in case of danger, the count might be
prepared to make a bold front against his foes. His friends everywhere led
a life of bustle and stir, and all proclaimed themselves ready joyfully to
unsheathe their swords in behalf of the young count, and to do battle for
him if the Elector should refuse to confirm him in all his father's
"He will not refuse," said John Adolphus to himself, when he had just
finished reading the report of his agent, Otto von Marwitz, which had only
that morning reached him, "No, the weak, impotent Elector will not dare to
refuse to acknowledge me as my father's successor; for he must be well
aware that I am even now more powerful in the Mark than himself, and
enjoy, moreover, the favor and protection of the Emperor. He will not dare
to attack me. I shall be sustained by him in my position of Stadtholder in
the Mark, and then--from Stadtholder to independent Sovereign requires but
one step, which I mean to take, and--"
The door was violently burst open and Sebastian von Waldow rushed in.
"Count!" he cried, gasping for breath--"Count, we are lost!"
"What is the matter? Say, what is the matter?"
"Conrad von Burgsdorf has captured the letters sent to you and myself,
from Koenigsberg, by my brother, the marshal, in which was a full statement
of a plan for open war."
"For God's sake, who says so? How do you know that?"
"One of our secret friends, who keeps his eye upon Burgsdorf, came to tell
me, that I might have opportunity of warning you. In the course of a ride
taken by Burgsdorf and his men in the environs of Berlin, they captured
the servant whom my brother had intrusted with dispatches for you and
myself. The dispatches he sent forthwith by a courier to Koenigsberg,
and the servant was hurried off to the fortress of Kuestrin, that he might
be unable to communicate with us."
"That is bad news indeed," said John Adolphus thoughtfully. "It also
explains to me why Burgsdorf and his men have taken up their abode here,
and frequently talk so captiously and insolently when excited by wine. It
is palpable that he has been commissioned to watch and, if need be, arrest
us. We must therefore be on our guard, too, and render him harmless; that
is to say, we must imprison him, so that he can not imprison us."
"If I only knew the contents of the package," murmured Sebastian von
Waldow. "In the last letter which I received from my brother he stated
that he hoped soon to be able to announce with certainty whether the
Elector would nominate you Stadtholder or select some one else. Now this
very letter has been intercepted, and we are left in utter darkness and
"Gracious sir," proclaimed an advancing lackey, "an officer from
Commandant von Kracht begs to be admitted, as he is charged with a verbal
message from the commandant."
"Admit him," ordered the count, going hastily to meet the officer, who was
just stepping into the room.
"Sir Count, I have bad news for you. Colonel von Kracht has just been
arrested. He commissioned me to convey the tidings to you as he was led
Count John Adolphus grew slightly pale, and exchanged a rapid glance
of intelligence with Sebastian von Waldow. "Who arrested Colonel von
Kracht?" he asked.
"Colonel Conrad von Burgsdorf, most gracious sir. He showed Herr von
Kracht his orders, signed by the Elector himself, and, as he came with a
strong posse, the colonel could not resist, but was obliged to submit."
"It is well; I thank you," said John Adolphus quietly, and the officer
took his leave. "Well, Sebastian," he said, turning to his confidant,
"you were right, the captured papers must have been of dangerous import,
for we already see the results. Our enemies are active, and I like that,
for thereby the _denouement_ will be hastened and our victory brought
nearer. For conquer we will!"
"Conquer or die!" sighed Sebastian von Waldow.
Again was the door thrown open violently, and the count's high steward
hurried in, trembling and pale as a sheet. "Your grace, Colonel von
Burgsdorf, Colonel von Burgsdorf," stammered he.
"What of him?" inquired the count hastily. "Speak, answer me, Wallenrodt,
what of Colonel von Burgsdorf?"
"Nothing further than that he ordered your high steward to conduct him
hither and announce him to you," said a rough, mocking voice behind the
It was Conrad von Burgsdorf who thus spoke. He had just entered the
apartment, and strode forward without apology or more formal salutation.
"Count John Adolphus von Schwarzenberg," continued Burgsdorf, approaching
close to the count, "I have come to do what should have been done long
before, to seal the papers of the late Stadtholder in the Mark, and to
take them with me."
"Very fine," returned the count contemptuously. "Will you have the
goodness to tell me whether my revered father imparted any such
instructions to you before his death, and if so, show me the written
order, for otherwise I would not be inclined to give you credence."
"Have received no orders from the deceased count," replied Burgsdorf,
shrugging his shoulders. "Would have received no orders from him, for
there is only one under whom I serve, and that one is my master, the
Elector Frederick William. He ordered me to affix his signet to all the
papers left by Count Adam Schwarzenberg, and I have therefore come to obey
"Where is the written order?"
"Have no written order, but obtained a verbal one just a half hour ago."
"Ah, it pleases you to jest," cried Count Adolphus scornfully. "You have
come from Koenigsberg here in a half hour? If you will condescend to
receive no commands save from the Elector, then you must have spoken with
him, and, as far as I know, the Elector is at Koenigsberg."
"Your knowledge goes not far, my pretty sir," said Burgsdorf
contemptuously. "You are in everything a very unadvised and ignorant young
gentleman. The Elector is indeed at Koenigsberg, but, nevertheless, he has
made known his will to me through the newly appointed Stadtholder in the
Mark, who arrived here, _incognito_, early this morning."
"Stadtholder in the Mark!" cried Count John Adolphus defiantly. "I know no
one who can lay claim to that title but myself alone!"
"But I know some one who has not merely the title but the office itself,
and that person is the Margrave Ernest von Jaegerndorf. Herr von Metzdorf,
In answer to Burgsdorf's loud call a young officer advanced through the
door leading from the adjacent room, which had been left ajar, and stood
on the threshold awaiting further orders.
"Hand Count Adolphus von Schwarzenberg the Stadtholder's printed
manifesto," said Burgsdorf. Lieutenant von Metzdorf drew near the count,
extending toward him a huge sheet of paper. "Read, my dear little count!"
cried Burgsdorf. "Only read! Yes, yes, it contains very interesting
intelligence. Margrave Ernest informs the citizens of Berlin and Cologne
that he has been nominated by our gracious Elector Stadtholder in the
Mark, and has entered upon the duties of his new office. He further
informs the good folks of Berlin, that his Electoral Grace has been
pleased to appoint Conrad von Burgsdorf superintendent of all the
fortresses within the Electorate and Mark of Brandenburg. Colonel Conrad
von Burgsdorf am I, and in my province as superintendent of all the
fortresses I shall have all those arrested who refuse to swear allegiance
to their Sovereign and Elector. Colonel von Kracht has experienced this,
and his confederates shall soon enough acquire like knowledge. Count von
Schwarzenberg, will you have the goodness to let me proceed to seal the
papers, or must I use force by virtue of my right and authority?"
"You are the stronger," replied the count, shrugging his shoulders, "or,
rather, brute force is on your side, and against this 'twere irrational to
contend. Do what I can not hinder. Seal up my father's papers. I should
think, however, that my own papers would be exempt from this procedure,
and I hope the contents of my own desk will be respected." As he spoke he
cast a furtive glance upon his steward von Wallenrodt, who, nodding almost
imperceptibly, slowly retreated to the door.
"I shall seal indiscriminately all the papers and desks found in the
palace," exclaimed Colonel von Burgsdorf. "This whole palace, with all it
contains, belonged to Count Adam Schwarzenberg, and my orders are to seal
and remove all papers left by that gentleman. You see that I can not and
will not make distinctions as to what is yours and what your deceased
"I believe, indeed, that the art of reading is for you difficult, nay
almost impossible, Colonel von Burgsdorf!"
"You believe so? You are mistaken, my young sir. I can even read what is
written upon men's faces, and read upon your brow that you are not merely
puffed up with self-importance, but that you are likewise forging wicked
and dangerous plans, and have been led away by your ambition to desire
things unsuitable for you. Come now, count, and accompany me into your
"No!" cried the count--"no, I will do no such thing! It shall not be said
that I voluntarily submitted to treason and brutal violence!"
"Well, my little count," cried Burgsdorf, laughing, "if you will not act
as guide of your own accord, you must be forced to do so _nolens volens_.
You need not show us the way, for we will merely go from chamber to
chamber and affix our seal to all the papers we can find. But the law
requires your presence, and your presence we shall have. Lieutenant von
Metzdorf and Lieutenant von Frohberg, each of you give an arm to Count von
Schwarzenberg. Sustain and support him well, for the young gentleman feels
a little unwell and can not go alone."
The two officers approached the count, who looked at them with threatening
mien. "Do not dare to touch me!" he cried angrily. "I will not follow you!
I will not go!"
"You will not go, will you not? Not even when my officers offer you their
"I will not go, but I shall complain to the Emperor of the violence done
me, and he will procure me satisfaction."
"Well, we shall bide our time," said Burgsdorf placidly. "For the present
it only concerns us to obtain your honored companionship. Since, however,
you declare that you can not go afoot, I shall carry you!"
And before the young count could prevent it, Burgsdorf had seized him in
his gigantic arms and lifted him up.
"Forward now, gentlemen," he said, stepping briskly a few paces in
advance, bearing the count as lightly and easily in his arms as if he had
been an infant.
"Let me descend from the wine cask, Colonel von Burgsdorf," said Count
Adolphus, smilingly and composedly. "I have attained my end. I only wanted
to defer the sealing for a few minutes. Having succeeded in effecting
this, I shall no longer oppose any obstacle to your progress."
"So much the better," cried Burgsdorf, setting him on the ground. "For,
even if you were as light as a feather, I would rather have free use of my
arms and hands; and, besides, do not like such close contact with any
birds of your plumage. Now, Sir Imperial Counselor, let us to work and
commence the process of sealing."
"Well and good," said Count John Adolphus, "only permit me to ask one
question. To what end this sealing, and when will the signet be removed? I
am my father's sole heir; already I have had the will opened and read in
the presence of competent witnesses, and in accordance with my father's
expressed desire entered into possession of the whole inheritance. The
affixing of the seal appears to me, therefore, to be superfluous. If done
at all, it should have been attended to before the opening of the will."
"It has been delayed, alas!" replied Conrad von Burgsdorf, "and it has
resulted from the fact that since the Stadtholder's death there has been
nobody to issue orders or defend the right. But now, as we have once more
a Stadtholder in the Mark, all will be different, and those who put
themselves in opposition may be on their guard, for we seal not merely
papers, but men. As regards your question, count, the sealing affects your
inheritance only in so far as you have presumed to include among your
estates several districts and domains pertaining to the Elector, and have
been in indecent haste to take possession of them."
"These domains were given in pledge to my father, and never redeemed."
"That remains to be decided, and, for the purpose of setting this as well
as many other matters, the Elector has ordained that a judicial court
shall sit. He himself named the gentlemen who were to constitute this
board of investigation, which will enter upon its duties early to-morrow
morning, and begin by removing the seal from the papers which I am to make
myself master of to-day. The chairman of this committee is the president
of the privy council, von Goetze."
"I know of no President von Goetze."
"Yes, yes, your father deprived Herr von Goetze of his office because he
would not dance to the Stadtholder's piping, and was not his devoted
servant to say yes to everything. But for that very reason our young
Elector has installed him again in his office, and given orders, moreover,
that he be the president of the committee of investigation. And now, as I
have answered all your questions with praiseworthy patience and to my own
satisfaction, let us at last proceed to sealing, and make a beginning in
this very room. Shut the doors, Lieutenant von Metzdorf, and allow no one
to go out who was here at our entrance."
"Colonel," replied the lieutenant, "the high steward von Wallenrodt left
the room a while ago, but, as you had given no orders to that effect, I
could not detain him. He went out just when you took the count up in your
"Humph! That is the reason why the count wanted to divert my attention for
some minutes, that his steward might have time to execute his secret
commission!" cried the colonel stamping his foot passionately. "We ought
to have reflected that we had sly foxes to deal with, and guarded every
outlet beforehand. Lieutenant von Metzdorf, place a man at every door and
let no one out. Lieutenant von Frohberg, take with you four soldiers, and
search the whole palace; if you find von Wallenrodt, arrest and search
"Colonel, that is going too far!" cried Count John Adolphus, pale with
rage and excitement. "You have no right to arrest and search my servant. I
interpose my protest, and will bring you to account before his Majesty the
"I shall take care of that," replied the colonel composedly. "If I have
done wrong, let the committee of investigation call me to account. The
Emperor in Vienna has nothing to do with me, and has no right to meddle in
the administration of justice among us."
"We shall see about that!" cried the count, with a threatening gesture.
"Yes, we shall see! But first we must see where the papers are, which we
are to seal and carry off. Open that table drawer, count, and let us see
what it contains."
Count Adolphus had to submit to having every desk and table searched, and
wherever papers were found, the great seal of the Electoral privy council
was affixed, and they were then removed. He had also to submit to having
the whole palace ransacked from garret to cellar in search of the steward
von Wallenrodt. The sealing he could not prevent, but he had the
satisfaction of seeing the soldiers fail in discovering the hiding place
of his steward after making the strictest possible search, as well as of
witnessing Colonel Burgsdorf's disappointment on opening Count Adolphus's
own writing desk to find it perfectly empty.
"I said so," growled Burgsdorf. "We forgot that we were dealing with sly
foxes, and barred the doors too late. Count John Adolphus von
Schwarzenberg, the sealing is over. Now comes the performance of my second
duty. I have to announce to you on the part of Margrave Ernest, Stadtholder
in the Mark, that you are under arrest in your own house until further
notice, and are on no account whatever to be allowed to leave the palace.
Here is the warrant, that you may not say I am acting without orders."
He drew forth a paper, unfolded it, and handed it to the count, who
rapidly glanced over it.
"I see," said he, with proud composure, "you are acting under authority,
and are merely your master's faithful beadle. May I keep this warrant?"
"To hand it to the Emperor, and show him with what disrespect they have
dared to act against his counselor and chamberlain."
"Keep the bill of indictment," said Burgsdorf quietly. "I shall be much
surprised if you shortly find yourself in a condition to present it to the
Emperor in person. Certainly not just now, for you are under arrest, and
can not have control of your own movements. You will therefore have the
gratification of having a guard at your door, although you are not the
Stadtholder. Farewell, Count John Adolphus!"
Bowing to the young count, who with a scornful laugh turned his back upon
him, he left the apartment, followed by his officers.
"Metzdorf," he said outside to the young officer in the antechamber, "to
you I intrust the guarding of the palace. I know you are incorruptible,
and will not allow the young gentleman to escape. Go round the palace on
the outside, and before each door station two soldiers, who are to leave
their posts neither by day or night. Relieve them every four hours. The
Stadtholder, alas! did not order us to guard the inner doors of the house,
so we must only be watchful and circumspect outside. I commit the guarding
to you, and if he escapes, the responsibility rests upon yourself."
"Unless he is a magician who can vanish through the air, he shall not
escape me, colonel," said the young officer, smiling. "I will stake my
head upon his not going by ordinary means through the doors."
"Very well, lieutenant; but hark! Place two more sentinels at the garden
railing opposite the palace. They are to watch the windows night and day,
sounding an alarm as soon as they observe anything suspicious. Come now.
Reconnoiter the outer doors and post the sentinels. I am going to report
to the Stadtholder."
Colonel Burgsdorf left the count's palace, and repaired to the Electoral
castle, where the Margrave Ernest von Jaegerndorf had taken up his
Count John Adolphus had stood listening at the door, and heard every word
spoken by Burgsdorf to his lieutenant, and then listened to his heavy,
retreating footstep. Now he heard the slamming of the front door, and
rushing to the window, saw Burgsdorf mount his horse and ride off,
followed by his companions and a wagon loaded with the papers which had
"Waldow!" cried the count, springing back from the window, "he has gone,
and we have, God be thanked! no guard inside the house. We are unobserved."
"What good will that do us, Sir Count," sighed Waldow. "We can not leave
the house, and your papers have been seized."
"Not my papers, Waldow! No, God be praised! not my papers!" exulted the
count. "Did you not see that my writing desk was empty?"
"And what does that signify?"
"It signifies that my trusty steward von Wallenrodt understood my hint,
and, while I detained Burgsdorf, abstracted and concealed my papers."
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