Part 4 out of 11
scaffold. Only save yourself from my love, which is so cowardly, so
egotistic, so hard-hearted; it has no strength in itself to choose
banishment or death. Oh, Amelia! cast me away from your presence;
trample me under your feet. I will die without one reproach, without
one complaint. I will think that my death was necessary to save you
from shame, from the torture of a long and dreary existence. All
this is still in your power. I have no claim upon you; you are not
mine; you have listened to my oaths, but you have not replied to
them; you are free. Spurn me, then, you are bound by no vow."
Amelia raised her arm slowly and solemnly toward heaven. "I love
you! May God hear me and accept my oath! I love you, and I swear to
be yours; to be true and faithful; never to wed any other man!"
"Oh, most unhappy woman! oh, greatly to be pitied!" cried Trenck.
Throwing his arms around her neck he laid his head upon her bosom.
"Amelia, Amelia! these are not tears of rapture, of bliss. I weep
from wretchedness, from anguish, for your dear sake. Ah, no! I will
not accept your oath. I have not heard your words--those heavenly
words which would have filled my heart with light and gladness, had
they not contained your fatal condemnation. Oh, my beloved! you
swear that you love me? That is, to sacrifice all the high
privileges of your rank; the power and splendor which would surround
a husband of equal birth--a throne, a royal crown. Beware! when I
once accept your love, then you are mine; then I will never release
you; not to the king--not even to God. You will be mine through all
time and all eternity; nothing shall tear you from my arms, not even
your own wish, your own prayers. Oh, Amelia! do you see that I am a
madman, insane from rapture and despair! Should you not flee from a
maniac? Perhaps his arm, imbued with giant strength, seeking to hold
you ever to his heart, might crush you. Fly, then; spurn me from
you; go to your room; go, and say to this mocking courtier, to whom
nothing is holy, not even our love, who is surprised, at nothing--go
and say to him: 'Trenck was a madman; I summoned him for pity; I
hoped by mildness and forbearance to heal him. I have succeeded; he
is gone. Go, now, and watch over your friend.' I will not contradict
your words; so soon as you cross the threshold of the door, I will
spring from the balcony. I will be careful; I will not stumble; I
will not dash my head against the stones; I will not be found dead
under your window; no trace of blood shall mark my desperate path.
My wounds are fatal, but they shall bleed inwardly; only upon the
battle-field will I lie down to die. Amid the roar of cannon I shall
not be heard; I dare call your name with the last sigh which bursts
from my icy lips; my last words of love will mingle with the
convulsive groans of the dying. Flee, then! flee from wretchedness
and despair. May God bless you and make you happy!"
Trenck drew aside reverentially, that she might pass him; but she
moved not--her eyes were misty with tears, tears of love, of
heavenly peace. Amelia laid her soft hand upon his shoulder. Her
eyes, which were fixed upon his face, had a wondrous glow. Love and
high resolve were written there. "Two of the brightest stars in
yonder heavens did wander in our sphere." Trenck looked upon her,
and saw and felt that we are indeed made in the image of God.
"I seek no safety in flight. I remain by your side; I love you, I
love you! This is no trembling, sighing, blushing, sentimental love
of a young maiden. I offer you the love of a bold, proud woman, who
looks shame and death in the face. In the fire of my anguish, my
love has become purified and hardened; in this flame it has
forgotten its girlish blushes, and is unbending and unconquerable. I
have baptized it with my tears; I have taken it to my heart, as a
mother takes her new-born child whose existence is her condemnation,
her dishonor, her shame; whom she loves boundlessly, and blesses
even while weeping over it! I also weep, and I feel that
condemnation and shame are my portion. I also bless my love; I think
myself happy and enviable. God has blessed me; He has sent one pure,
burning ray of His celestial existence into my heart, and taught me
how to love unchangeably, immortally."
"Oh, Amelia, why cannot I die now?" cried Trenck, falling powerless
at her feet.
She stooped and raised him up with a strong hand.
"Rise," she said; "we must stand erect, side by side, firm and cool.
When you kneel before me, I fear that you see in me a princess, the
sister of a king. I am simply your beloved, the woman who adores
you. Look you, Trenck, I do not say 'the young girl;' in my interior
life I am no longer that. This fearful battle with myself has made
me old and cautious. A young girl is trembling and cowardly. I am
firm and brave; a young girl blushes when she confesses her love; I
do not confess, I declare and glory in my passion. A young girl
shudders when she thinks of dishonor and misery, of the power and
rage and menaces of her family; when with prophetic eye she sees a
herald clad in mourning announcing her dark fate. I shudder not. I
am no weak maiden; I am a woman who loves without limit,
She threw her arms around him, and a long and blessed pause ensued.
Lightly whispered the wind in the tops of the lofty poplars and oaks
of the garden; unnumbered stars came out in their soft splendor and
looked down upon this slumbering world. Many slept, forgetful alike
of their joys and their griefs; some, rejoicing in unhoped-for
happiness, looked up with grateful and loving hearts; others, with
convulsive wringings of the hands and wild cries of anguish, called
upon Heaven for aid. What know the stars of this? they flash and
glimmer alike upon the happy and the despairing. The earth and sky
have no tears, no sympathy for earthly passions. Amelia released
herself from the arms of her lover and fixed her eyes upon the
heavens. Suddenly a star fell, marking its downward and rapid flight
with a line of silver; in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, it
"An evil omen!" cried she, pointing upward. With a mysterious
sympathy, Trenck had looked up at the same moment.
"The heavens will not deceive us, Amelia; they warn us, but this
warning comes too late. You are mine, you have sworn that you love
me; I have accepted your vows. May God also have heard them, and may
He be gracious to us! Is it not written that Faith can remove
mountains? that she is more powerful than the mightiest kings of the
earth; stronger than death--that conquerors and heroes fall before
her? Let us, then, have faith in our love; let us be strong in hope,
in patience, in constancy."
"My brother says we shall soon have war. Will you not win a wreath
of laurel upon the battle-field? who can know but the king may value
it as highly, may consider it as glorious, as a princely crown? All
my sisters are married to princes; perhaps my royal brother may
pardon me for loving a hero whose brow is bound by a laurel-wreath
"Swear to me, Amelia, to wait--to be patient, to give me time to
reach this goal, which you paint in such heavenly colors."
"You will never be the wife of another?"
"I will never be the wife of another."
"Be it prince or king; even if your brother commands it?"
"Be it prince or king; even if my brother commands it, I will never
"God, my God! you have heard our vows." While speaking, he took
Amelia's head in his hands softly and bowed it down as if it were a
holy sacrifice which he offered up to Heaven. "You have heard her
oath: O God, punish her, crush her in your wrath, if she prove
"I will be faithful to the end. May God punish me if I fail!"
"And now, beloved, you are mine eternally. Let me press our
betrothal kiss upon your sweet lips; you are my bride, my wife.
Tremble not now, turn not away from my arms; you have no other
refuge, no other strong fortress than my heart, but it is a rock on
which you can safely build; its foundation is strong, it can hold
and sustain you. If the storm is too fierce, we can plunge together
into the wild, raging sea, and be buried in the deep. Oh, my bride,
let me kiss your lips; you are sanctified and holy in my eyes till
the glorious day in which life or death shall unite us."
"No, you shall not kiss me; I embrace you, my beloved," and she
pressed her soft full lips, which no untruthful, immodest word had
ever desecrated, to his. It was a kiss holy, innocent, and pure as a
maiden's prayer. "And now, my beloved, farewell," said Amelia, after
a long pause, in which their lips had been silent, but their hearts
had spoken to each other and to God. "Go," she said; "night melts
into morn, the day breaks!"
"My day declines, my night comes on apace," sighed Trenck. "When do
we meet again?"
Amelia looked up, smilingly, to the heavens. "Ask the stars and the
calendar when the heavens are dark, and the moon hides her fair
face; then I expect you--the window will be open and the door
"The moon has ever been thought to be the friend of lovers," said
Trenck, pressing the hand of the princess to his heart; "but I hate
her with a perfect hatred, she robs me of my happiness."
"And now, let us return to Baron Pollnitz, who is, without doubt,
"Why must he always accompany me, Amelia? why will you not allow me
to come alone?"
"Why? I scarcely know myself. It seems to me we are safer when
watched over by the eye of a friend; perhaps I am unduly anxious; a
warning voice whispers me that it is better so. Pollnitz has become
the confidant of our love, let us trust him fully; let him know
that, though traitors and meriting punishment in the sight of men,
we are not guilty in the sight of God, and have no cause to blush or
look down. Pollnitz must always accompany you."
"Ah, Amelia!" sighed Trenck; "you have not forgotten that you are a
princess. Love has not wholly conquered you. You command. It is not
so with me. I submit, I obey, and I am silent. Be it as you will:
Pollnitz shall always accompany me--only promise me to come ever
upon the balcony."
"I promise! and now, beloved, let us say farewell to God, to the
heavens, to the soft stars, and the dark night, which has spread her
mantle over us and allowed us to be happy."
"Farewell, farewell, my happiness, my love, my pride, my hope, my
future! Oh, Amelia, why cannot I go this moment into battle, and
pluck high honors which will make me more worthy of you?"
They embraced for the last time, and then stepped into the room.
Pollnitz still sat on the divan before the table. Only a poor
remnant of the feast remained; his tongue had been forced to silence
in this lonely room, but he had been agreeably occupied with the
game, fruits, jellies, and wine which were placed before him; he had
stretched himself comfortably upon the sofa, and was quietly
enjoying the blessed feeling of a healthy and undisturbed digestion.
At last he had fallen asleep, or seemed so; it was some moments
before Trenck succeeded in forcing him to open his eyes.
"You are very cruel, young friend," said he, rising up; "you have
disturbed me in the midst of a wondrous and rapturous dream."
"Might I inquire into this dream?" said the princess.
"Ah, your royal highness, I dreamed of the only thing which would
ever surprise or enrapture me in this comical and good-for-nothing
world. I dreamed I had no creditors, and heaps of gold."
"And your dream differs widely from the reality?"
"Yes, my gracious princess, just the opposite is true. I have
unnumbered creditors, and no gold."
"Poor Pollnitz! how do you propose to free yourself from this
"Ah, your royal highness, I shall never attempt it! I am more than
content when I can find some soothing palliatives for this chronic
disease, and, at least, find as many louis d'ors in my pocket as I
have creditors to threaten me."
"And is that now your happy state?"
"No, princess, I have only twelve louis d'ors."
"And how many creditors?"
"So twenty louis d'ors are wanting to satisfy your longing?"
The princess walked to her table and took from it a little roll of
gold, which she handed to the master of ceremonies. "Take it," said
she, smiling; "yesterday I received my pin-money for the month, and
I rejoice that I am in a condition to balance your creditors and
your louis d'ors at this time."
Pollnitz took the gold without a blush, and kissed the hand of the
princess gallantly. "Ah! I have but one cause of repentance," sighed
"Well, what is that?"
"That I did not greatly increase the number of my creditors. My God!
who could have guessed the magnanimous intentions of my royal
THE FIRST CLOUD.
Drunk with happiness, revelling in the recollection of this first
interview with his lovely and exalted mistress, Frederick von Trenck
rode slowly through the lonely highways toward Potsdam. It was not
necessary for him to pay any attention to the road, as his horse
knew every foot of the way. Trenck laid his bridle carelessly upon
the neck of the noble animal, and gave himself up entirely to
meditation. Suddenly night waned, the vapors melted, light appeared
in the east, and the first purple glow was succeeded by a clear,
soft blue. The larks sang out their joyous morning song in the
heavens, not yet disturbed by the noise and dust of the day.
Trenck heard not the song of the lark, he saw not the rising sun,
which, with his golden rays, illuminated the landscape, and changed
the dew-drops in the cups of the flowers into shimmering diamonds
and rubies; he was dreaming, dreaming. The sweet and wondrous
happiness of the last few hours intoxicated his soul; he recalled
every word, every smile, every pressure of the hand of his beloved,
and a crimson blush suffused his cheek, a sweet tremor oppressed his
heart, as he remembered that she had been clasped in his arms; that
he had kissed the pure, soft, girlish lips, whose breath was fresher
and more odorous than the glorious morning air which fanned his
cheeks and played with his long dark hair. With a radiant smile and
proudly erected head, he recalled the promise of the princess. She
had given him reason to hope; she believed in the possibility of
And why, indeed, might not this be possible? Had not his career in
the last few months been so brilliant as to excite the envy of his
comrades? was he not recognized as the special favorite of the king?
Scarcely six months had passed since he arrived in Berlin; a young,
poor, and unknown student, he was commended to the king by his
protector, the Count von Lottum, who earnestly petitioned his
majesty to receive him into his life-guard. The king, charmed by his
handsome and martial figure, by his cultivated intellect and
wonderful memory, had made him cornet in his cavalry guard, and a
few weeks later he was promoted to a lieutenancy. Though but
eighteen years of age, he had the distinguished honor to be chosen
by the king to exercise two regiments of Silesian cavalry, and
Frederick himself had expressed his content, not only in gracious
but affectionate words. [Footnote: "Memoires de Frederic Baron von
Trenck," traduits par Lui-meme su l'original allemande.] It is well
known that the smile of a prince is like the golden rays of the sun:
it lends light and glory to every object upon which it rests, and
attracts the curious gaze of men.
The handsome young lieutenant, basking in the rays of royal favor,
was naturally an object of remark and the most distinguished
attentions to the circle of the court. More than once the king had
been seen to lay his arm confidingly upon the shoulder of Trenck,
and converse with him long and smilingly; more than once had the
proud and almost unapproachable queen-mother accorded the young
officer a gracious salutation; more than once had the princesses at
the fetes of the last winter selected him as their partner, and all
those young and lovely girls of the court declared that there was no
better dancer, no more attentive cavalier, no more agreeable
companion than Frederick von Trenck--than this youthful, witty,
merry officer, who surpassed all his comrades, not, only in his
height and the splendor of his form, but in talent and amiability.
It was therefore to be expected that this proud aristocracy would
seek to draw the favorite of the king and of the ladies into their
Frederick von Trenck was of too sound and healthy a nature, he had
too much strength of character, to be made vain or supercilious by
these attentions. He soon, however, accustomed himself to them as
his right; and he was scarcely surprised when the king, after his
promotion, sent him two splendid horses from his own stable, and a
thousand thalers, [Footnote: Ibid.] at that time a considerable sum
This general adulation inspired naturally bold wishes and ambitious
dreams, and led him to look upon the impossible and unheard of as
possible and attainable. Frederick von Trenck was not vain or
imperious, but he was proud and ambitious; he had a great object in
view, and all his powers were consecrated to that end; in his
hopeful, sunny hours, he did not doubt of success; he was ever
diligent, ever watchful, ever ready to embrace an opportunity; ever
expecting some giant work, which would, in its fruition, bring him
riches and honor, fame and greatness. He felt that he had strength
to win a world and lay it bound at his feet; and if the king had
commanded him to undertake the twelve labors of Hercules, he would
not have shrunk from the ordeal. Convinced that a glorious future
awaited him, he prepared himself for it. No hour found him idle.
When his comrades, wearied by the fatiguing service and the oft-
repeated exercises and preparations for war, retired to rest, Trenck
was earnestly engaged in some grave study, some scientific work,
seated at his writing-table surrounded with books, maps, and
The young lieutenant was preparing himself to be a general, or a
conquering hero, by his talents and his great deeds; to subdue the
world and its prejudices; to bridge over with laurels and trophies
the gulf which separated him from the princess. Was he not already
on the way? Did not the future beckon to him with glorious promise?
Must not he, who at eighteen years of age had attained that for
which many not less endowed had given their whole lives in vain--he,
the flattered cavalier, the scholar, and the officer of the king's
guard--be set apart, elected to some exalted fate?
These were the thoughts which occupied the young man, and which made
him forgetful of all other things, even the danger with which the
slow movements of his horse and the ever-rising sun threatened him.
It was the custom of the king to attend the early morning parade,
and the commander, Captain Jaschinsky, did not belong to Trenck's
friends; he envied him for his rapid promotion; it angered him that
Trenck had, at a bound, reached that position to which he had
wearily crept forward through long years of service. It would have
made him happy to see this young man, who advanced so proudly and
triumphantly upon the path of honor and distinction, cast down from
the giddy height of royal favor, and trampled in the lust of
forgetfulness. He watched his young lieutenant with the smiling
cunning of a base soul, resolved to punish harshly the smallest
neglect of duty.
And now he had found his opportunity. A sergeant, who was a spy for
the captain, informed him that Trenck's corporal had told him his
master had ridden forth late in the night and had not yet returned.
The sergeant had watched the door of the house in which Trenck
resided, and was convinced that he was still absent. This
intelligence filled the heart of Captain Jaschinsky with joy; he
concealed it, however, under the mask of indifference; he declared
that he did not believe this story of Trenck's absence. The young
man knew full well that no officer was allowed to leave Potsdam,
even for an hour, without permission, particularly during the night.
In order, as he said, to convince the sergeant of the untruth of
this statement, he sent him with some trifling commission to
Lieutenant von Trenck. The sergeant returned triumphantly; the baron
was not at home, and his servant was most anxious about him, The
captain shrugged his shoulders silently. The clock struck eight; he
seized his hat, and hastened to the parade.
The whole line was formed; every officer stood by his regiment,
except the lieutenant of the second company. The captain saw this at
a glance, and a wicked smile for one moment played upon his face. He
rode with zealous haste to the front of his regiment and saluted the
king, who descended the steps of the castle, accompanied by his
generals and adjutants.
At this moment, to the right wing of the regiment, there was a
slight disturbance, which did not escape the listening ear of the
captain. He turned his head, and saw that Trenck had joined his
company, and that his horse was panting and bathed in sweat. The
captain's brow was clouded; the young officer seemed to have escaped
the threatened danger. The king had seen nothing. Trenck was in his
place, and it would be useless to bring a charge against him.
The king, however, had seen all; his keen eye had observed Trenck's
rapid approach, and his glowing, heated countenance; and as he rode
to the front, he drew in his horse directly before Trenck.
"How comes it that your horse is fatigued and sweating? I must
suppose he is fresh from the stable, and his master just from his
bed. It appears, however, that he has been delayed there; I see that
he has just arrived upon the parade-ground."
The officer murmured a few incomprehensible words.
"Will you answer me?" said the king; "is your horse just from the
stable--are you directly from your bed?"
Frederick von Trenck's head had been bowed humbly upon his breast,
he now raised it boldly up; he was resolved; his fierce eyes met
those of the king. "No, your majesty," said he, with a cool,
composed mien, "my horse is not from the stable--I am not from my
There was a pause, an anxious, breathless pause. Every eye was fixed
observantly upon the king, whose severity in military discipline was
known and feared.
"Do you know," said the king at last, "that I command my officers to
be punctual at parade?"
"Do you know that it is positively forbidden to leave Potsdam
"Yes, your majesty."
"Well, then, since this was known to you, where have you been? You
confess that you do not come from your dwelling?"
"Sire, I was on the chase, and loitered too long. I know I am guilty
of a great misdemeanor, and I expect my pardon only from the grace
of my king."
The king smiled, and his glance was mild and kindly. "You expect
also, as it appears, under any circumstances, a pardon? Well, this
time you shall not be disappointed. I am well pleased that you have
been bold enough to speak the truth. I love truthful people; they
are always brave. This time you shall go unpunished, but beware of
the second offence. I warn you."
Alas! what power had even a king's warning over the passionate love
of a youth of eighteen? Trenck soon forgot the danger from which he
had escaped; and even if remembered, it would not have restrained
It was again a cloudy, dark night, and he knew that the princess
expected him. As he stood again upon the balcony, guarded by the
watchful master of ceremonies; as he listened to the sweet music of
Amelia's voice and comprehended the holy and precious character of
her girlish and tender nature; as he sat at her feet, pouring out
the rich treasures of his love and happiness, and felt her trembling
small white hand upon his brow; as he dreamed with her of a blessed
and radiant future, in which not only God and the night but the king
and the whole world might know and recognize their love--how could
he remember that the king had ordered the parade at seven in the
morning, and that it was even now impossible for him to reach
Potsdam at that hour?
The parade was over when he reached his quarters. A guard stood
before his door, and led him instantly before the king. Frederick
was alone in his cabinet. He silently dismissed his adjutant and the
guard, then walked for some time backward and forward through the
room, without seeming to observe Trenck, who stood with pale but
resolved countenance before the door.
Trenck followed every movement of the king with a steady glance. "If
he cashiers me, I will shoot myself," he said in a low tone. "If he
puts me to the torture, in order to learn the secret of my love, I
can bear it and be silent."
But there was another possibility upon which, in the desperation of
his soul, Trenck had not thought. What should he do if the king
approached him mildly and sorrowfully, and, with the gentle,
persuasive words of a kind friend, besought him to explain this
This was exactly the course adopted by the king. He stepped forward
to the poor, pale, almost breathless youth, and looked him steadily
in the eyes. His glance was not threatening and scornful, as Trenck
had expected, but sad and reproachful.
"Why have you again secretly left Potsdam?" said the king. "Where do
you find the proud courage to disobey my commands? Captain
Jaschinsky has brought serious charges against you. He tells me that
you often leave Potsdam secretly. Do you know that, if punished
according to the law, you must be cashiered?"
"Yes, I know, sire. I also know that I will not outlive this shame."
A scornful glance shot from the king's eye. "Do you intend to make
me anxious? Is that a menace?"
"Pardon, sire. It is not in my power to make you anxious, and I do
not dare to menace. Of what importance to your majesty is this atom,
this unknown and insignificant youth, who is only seen when
irradiated by the sunshine of your eye? I am nothing, and less than
nothing, to your majesty; you are every thing to me. I will not, I
cannot live if your highness withdraws your favor from me, and robs
me of the possibility of winning a name and position for myself.
That was my meaning, sire."
"You are, then, ambitious, and thirst for fame?"
"Your majesty, I would gladly sell one-half of my life to the devil
if he would insure me rank and glory for the other half, and after
death an immortality of fame. Oh, how gladly would I make this
"If such ambition fires your soul, how can you be so foolish, so
inconsiderate, as to bring degradation and shame upon yourself by
carelessness in duty? He who is not prompt and orderly in small
things, will neglect the most important duties. Where were you last
"Sire, I was on the chase."
The king looked at him with angry, piercing eyes. Trenck had not the
courage to bear this. He blushed and looked down.
"You have told me an untruth," said the king. "Think again. Where
were you last night?"
"Sire, I was on the chase."
"You repeat that?"
"Your majesty, I repeat that."
"Will you solemnly declare that this is true?"
Trenck was silent.
"Will you declare that this is true?" repeated the king.
The young officer looked up, and this time he had the courage to
meet the flaming eye of the king. "No, sire, I will not affirm it."
"You confess, then, that you have told me an untruth?"
"Yes, your majesty."
"Do you know that that is a new and grave offence?"
"Yes, your majesty, but I cannot act otherwise."
"You will not, then, tell me the truth?"
"Not if your obstinacy will lead to your being immediately
cashiered, and to your imprisonment in the fortress?"
"Not then, your majesty. I cannot act differently."
"Trenck, Trenck, be on your guard! Remember that you speak to your
lord and king, who has a right to demand the truth."
"Your majesty may punish me, it is your right, and your duty, and I
must bear it," said Trenck, trembling and ghastly pale, but firm and
confident in himself.
The king moved off for a few moments, then stood again before his
lieutenant. "You will report to your captain, and ask for your
Trenck replied not. Perhaps it was not in his power. Two great tears
ran slowly down his cheeks, and he did not restrain them. He wept
for his youth, his happiness, his honor, and his fame.
"Go!" repeated the king.
The young man bowed low. "I thank you for gracious punishment," he
said; then turned and opened the door.
The eyes of the king had followed him with marked interest.
"Trenck!" cried he; and, as he turned and waited silently upon the
threshold for the new command, the king stepped forward hastily and
held out his hand.
"I am content with you! You have gone astray, but the anguish of
soul you have just now endured is a sufficient punishment. I forgive
A wild cry of joy burst from the pale lips of the youth. He bowed
low over the king's hand, and pressed it with passionate earnestness
to his lips.
"Your majesty gives me my life again! I thank you! oh, I thank you!"
The king smiled. "And yet your life must have but little worth for
you, if you would sign it away so readily. Once more I have forgiven
you, but I warn you for the future. Be on your guard, monsieur, or
the lightning will fall and consume you." [Footnote: The king's own
words. See Trenck's "Memoires."] And now the king's eye was
threatening, and his voice terrible in anger. "You have guarded your
secret," he said; "you did not betray it, even when threatened with
punishment worse than death. Your honor, as a cavalier, demanded
that; and I am not surprised that you hold it sacred. But there is
yet another kind of honor, which you have this day tarnished--I mean
obedience to your king and general. I forgive you for this; and now
I must speak to you as a friend, and not as a king. You are
wandering in dangerous paths, young man. Turn now, while there is
yet time; turn before the abyss opens which will swallow you up! No
man can serve two masters, or strive successfully after two objects.
He who wills something, must will it wholly; must give his undivided
heart and strength to its attainment; must sacrifice every thing
else to the one great aim! You are striving for love and fame at the
same time, and you will forfeit both. Love makes a man soft and
yielding. He who leaves a mistress behind him cannot go bravely and
defiantly into battle, though women despise men who are not gallant
and laurel-crowned. Strive then, Trenck, first to become a hero;
then it will be time to play the lover. Pluck your laurels first,
and then gather the myrtle-wreath. If this counsel does not suit
you, then give up your ambition, and the path to fame which you have
chosen. Lay aside your sword; though I can promise you that soon,
and with honor, you may hope to use it. But lay it aside, and take
up the pen or the hammer; build yourself a nest; take a wife, and
thank God for the gift of a child every twelve months; and pray that
the sound of battle may be heard only in the distance, and the steps
of soldiers may not disturb your fields and gardens. That is also a
future, and there are those who are content with it; whose ears are
closed to the beat of drums and the sound of alarm-bells which now
resound throughout Europe. Choose, then, young man. Will you be a
soldier, and with God's help a hero? or will you go again 'upon the
"I will be a soldier," cried Trenck, completely carried away. "I
will win fame, honor, and distinction upon the battle-field, and
above all I will gain the approbation and consideration of my king.
My name shall be known and honored by the world."
"That is a mighty aim," said the king, smiling, "and it requires the
dedication of a life. You must offer up many things, and above all
other things 'the chase.' I do not know what you have sought, and I
do not wish to know. I counsel you though, as a friend, to give up
the pursuit. I have placed the two alternatives before you, and you
have made your choice--you will be a brave soldier. Now, then, from
this time onward, I will be inexorable against even your smallest
neglect of duty. In this way only can I make of you what you resolve
to be--a gallant and stainless officer. I will tell your captain to
watch you and report every fault; I will myself observe and
scrutinize your conduct, and woe to you if I find you again walking
in crooked paths! I will be stern and immovable. Now, monsieur, you
are warned, and cannot complain if a wild tempest bursts over your
head; the guilt and responsibility will be yours. Not another word!
Long after Trenck had left the room, the king stood thoughtfully
looking toward the door through which the tall, graceful figure of
the young officer had disappeared.
"A heart of steel, a head of iron," said the king to himself. "He
will be very happy, or very wretched. For such natures there is no
middle way. Alas! I fear it had been better for him if I had
dismissed him, and--" Frederick did not complete his sentence; he
sighed deeply, and his brow was clouded. He stepped to his writing-
table and took up a large sealed envelope, opened and read it
carefully. A sad smile played upon his lips. "Poor Amelia!" said he-
-"poor sister! They have chosen you to be assistant Abbess of
Quedlinburg. A miserable alternative for the Swedish throne, which
was in your power! Well, I will sign this paper." He took the pen
and hastily wrote his name upon the diploma. "If she is resolved
never to marry, she will be one day Abbess of Quedlinburg--that is
something. Aurora of Konigsmark was content with that, but only
after she had reached the height of earthly grandeur."
Frederick was completely unmanned by these painful thoughts. He
raised his eyes to heaven, and said in a low tone: "Poor human
heart! why has Fate made you so soft, when you must become stone in
order to support the disappointments and anguish of life?" He stood
bowed down for a long time, in deep thought; then suddenly rising
proudly erect, he exclaimed: "Away with such cares! I have no time
to play the considerate and amiable father to my family. My kingly
duty and service call me with trumpet tones."
THE COUNCIL OF WAR.
Frederick stepped from the room into the adjoining saloon, where his
ministers and generals were assembled for a council of war. His
expression was calm and clear, and an imposing fire and earnestness
lighted up his eyes. He was again the king, and the conqueror, and
his voice rang out martially:
"The days of comfort and repose are over; we have reasoned and
diplomatized too long; we must now move and strike. I am surfeited
with this contest of pen and ink. I am weary of Austrian cunning and
intrigue. In these weighty and important matters I will not act
alone upon my own convictions; I will listen to your opinions and
receive your counsel: I will not declare war until you say that an
honorable peace is no longer possible. I will unsheath the sword
only when the honor of my throne and of my people demands it, and
even then with a heavy heart; for I know what burdens and bitter
woes it will bring upon my poor land. Let us therefore carefully
read, weigh, and understand the paper which lies upon the table, and
fulfil the duties which it lays upon us."
Frederick stepped to the table and seated himself. The generals, the
old Dessauer, Ziethen, Winterfeld, and the king's favorite,
Rothenberg, with the ministers and councillor of state, placed
themselves silently around the table. The eyes of all these
experienced men, accustomed to battle and to victory, were steadily
fixed upon the king. His youthful countenance alone was clear and
bright; not a shadow was seen upon his brow.
There was a pause--a stillness like that which precedes a tempest.
Every one felt the importance of the moment. All these wise and
great men knew that the young man who stood in their midst, with
such proud and calm composure and assurance, held in his hands at
this moment the fate of Europe; that the scales would fall on that
side to which his sword was consecrated. The king raised his head,
and his eyes wandered searchingly from one to the other of the
earnest faces which surrounded him.
"You know, messieurs," said Frederick, "that Maria Theresa, who
calls herself Empress of Germany and of Rome, still makes war
against our ally Charles the Seventh. Her general, Karl von
Lothringen, has triumphed over the Bavarian and French army at
Semnach: and Bavaria, left, by the flight of the emperor, without a
leader, has been compelled to submit to Maria Theresa, Queen of
Hungary. She has allied herself with England, Hanover, and Saxony.
And these allied powers have been victorious over the army of our
ally, King Louis of France, commanded by Marshal Noailles. These
successes have made our enemies imperious. They have demanded much;
they have resolved to obtain all. Apparently they are the most
powerful. Holland has offered money and ships; Sardinia and Saxony
have just signed the treaty made at Worms by England, Austria, and
Holland. So they have troops, gold, and powerful allies. We have
nothing but our honor, our swords, and our good cause. We are the
allies of a land poor in itself, and, what is still worse, governed
by a weak and faint-hearted emperor; and of France, whose king is
the plaything of courtiers and mistresses. Our adversaries know
their strength, and are acquainted with our weakness. Look,
messieurs, at this letter of George of England to our godmother,
Maria Theresa of Hungary; an accident placed it in our hands, or, if
you will, a Providence, which, without doubt, watches over the
prosperity of Prussia. Read it, messieurs."
He handed General Rothenberg a paper, which he read with frowning
brow and scarcely suppressed scorn, and then passed it on to
Winterfeld. The king studied the face of every reader, and, the more
dark and stormy it appeared, the more gay and happy was the
expression of his countenance.
He received the letter again with a friendly smile from the hands of
his minister, and pointing to it with his finger, he said: "Have you
well considered these lines where the king says, 'Madame, what is
good to take, is also good to return'? What think you of these
words, Prince von Anhalt?"
"I think," said the silver-haired old warrior, "that we will prove
to the English king what Frederick of Prussia once holds cannot be
rescued from him."
"You think, then, that our hands are strong enough to hold our
"Yes, your majesty."
"And you, gentlemen?"
"We share the opinion of the prince."
"You have expressed precisely my own views," cried Frederick, with
delight. "If this is your conclusion, messieurs. I rejoice to lay
before you another document. It was above all other things the
desire of my heart, as long as it was possible, to preserve the
peace of Germany. I have sacrificed my personal inclination and my
ambition to this aim. I have united the German princes for the
protection of Charles the Seventh. The Frankfort union should be a
lever to restore freedom to Germany, dignity to the emperor, and
peace to Europe. But no success has crowned this union; discord
prevails amongst them. A part of our allies have left us, under the
pretext that France will not pay the promised gold. Charles the
Seventh is flying from place to place, and our poor land is groaning
under the burdens of a crippling and exhausting war. We must put an
end to this. In such dire need and necessity it is better to die an
honorable death than to bear disgrace, to live like beggars by the
grace of our enemies. I have not the insolence and courage of
cowardice so to live. I will die or conquer! I will wash out these
scornful words of the King of England with blood. Silesia, my
Silesia, which I have conquered, and which is mine by right, I will
hold against all the efforts of the Hungarian queen. Look, now, at
this document; it is a treaty which I have closed with France
against Austria, and for the protection of the Emperor Charles. And
now, here is another paper. It is a manifesto which Maria Theresa
has scattered throughout all Silesia, in which she declares that she
no longer considers herself bound by the treaty of Breslau, but
claims Silesia and Glatz as her own. Consequently she commands the
Silesians to withdraw from the protection of Prussia, and give their
allegiance to their rightful inheritor."
"That is an open breach of contract," said one of the generals.
"That is contrary to all justice and the rights of the people,"
"That is Austrian politics," said the king, smiling. "They hold to a
solemn contract, which was detrimental to them, only so long as
necessity compels it; so soon as an opportunity offers to their
advantage, they prove faithless. They do not care to be considered
honorable, they only desire to be feared, and above all, they will
bear no equals and no rivals in Germany. Maria Theresa feels herself
strong enough to take back this Silesia I won from her, and a peace
contract is not sacred in her eyes. Austria was and is naturally the
enemy of Prussia, and will never forgive us because our father, by
the power of his genius, made himself a king. Austria would gladly
see the King of Prussia buried in the little Elector of Brandenburg,
and make herself rich with our possessions. Will we suffer that,
"Never!" said the generals, and the fire of battle flashed in their
"The Queen of Hungary has commanded her troops to enter Glatz. Shall
we wait till this offence is repeated?"
"If the Austrian troops have made us a visit, politeness requires
that we should return the call," said Ziethen, with a dry laugh.
"If the Queen of Hungary has sent a manifesto to Silesia, we must,
above all other things, answer this manifesto," said the councillor
"Maria Theresa is so bold and insolent because Bellona is a woman,
consequently her sister; but we will prove to her that Dame Bellona
will rather ally herself with gallant men than with sentimental
women," said General Rothenberg.
"Now, messieurs, what say you? shall we have peace or war?"
"War, war!" cried they all in one breath, and with one movement.
The king raised himself from his chair, and his eagle eye was
"The decisive word is spoken," said he, solemnly. "Let it be as you
say! We will have war! Prepare yourselves, then, generals, to return
the visit of Austria. Ziethen tells us that this is a courtly duty.
Our councillor will write the answer to Maria Theresa's manifesto.
The Austrians have visited us in Glatz, we will return their call in
Prague. Kothenberg thinks that Dame Bellona would incline to our
arms rather than to those of the queen, so we will seek to win her
by tender embraces. I think the goddess would favor our Prince of
Anhalt, they have often fought side by side. Up, then, prince, to
battle and to love's sweet courtesies with your old Mistress
Bellona! Up, my friends, one and all! the days of peace are over. We
will have war, and may God grant His blessing to our just cause!"
THE CLOISTER OF CAMENS.
It was a still, lovely morning. The sun gilded the lofty, giant
mountain and irradiated its snow-crowned top with shifting and many-
colored light; it appeared like a giant lily, luminous and odorous.
The air was so clear and pure, that even in the far distance this
range of mountains looked grand and sublime. The spectator was
deluded by the hope of reaching their green and smiling summits in a
few moments. In their majestic and sunny beauty they seemed to
beckon and to lure you on. Even those who had been for a long time
accustomed to this enchanting region would have been impressed to-
day with its exalted beauty. Grand old Nature is a woman, and has
her feminine peculiarities; she rejoices in her beaux jours, even as
The landscape spread out at the feet of those two monks now walking
in silent contemplation on the platform before the Cloister of
Camens, had truly to-day her beau jour, and sparkled and glittered
in undisturbed repose.
"How beautiful is the world!" said one, folding his hands piously,
and gazing up into the valley; "created by wisdom and love, adapted
to our necessities and enjoyments, to a life well-pleasing to God.
Look now, brother, at the imposing majesty of that mountain, and at
the lovely, smiling valley which lies at its feet. There, in the
little village of Camens, this busy world is in motion, and from the
city of Frankenstein I distinguish the sound of the bells calling to
early morning prayer."
"That is, perhaps, the alarm-bell," said the second monk; "the wind
is against us; we could not hear the sound of the small bells. I
fear that is the alarm-bell."
"Why should the Frankensteiners sound the alarm-bell, Brother
Tobias?" said his companion, with a soft, incredulous smile.
"Why, Brother Anastasius, because the Austrians have possibly sent
their advance guard to Frankenstein. The Frankensteiners have sworn
allegiance to the King of Prussia, and probably desire to keep this
oath; they sound the alarm, therefore, to call the lusty burghers to
"And do you truly believe that the Austrians are so near us, Brother
"I do not believe--I know it. Before three days General Count Wallis
will enter our cloister with his staff, and, in the name of Maria
Theresa, command us to take the oath."
"You can never forget that we were once Austrians, Brother Tobias.
Your eyes sparkle when you think that the Austrians are coming, and
you forget that his excellency the Abbot Stusche is, with his whole
heart, devoted to the King of Prussia, and that he will never again
subject himself to Austrian rule."
"He will be forced to it, Brother Anastasius. The star of the
Prussian king has declined; his war triumphs are at an end; God has
turned away His face from him, because he is not a true Christian;
he is, indeed, a heathen and an infidel."
"Still, still, Brother Tobias! if the abbot heard you, he would
punish you with twenty pater-nosters, and you know very well that
praying is not the business of your choice."
"It is true; I am fonder of war and politics. I can never forget
that in my youth I was a brave soldier, and have more than once shed
my blood for Austria. You will understand now why I am an Austrian.
I declare to you, I would cheerfully say thirty pater-nosters every
day, if we could be once more subject to Austria."
"Well, happily, there is no hope of that."
"Happily, there is great hope of it. You know nothing about it. You
read your holy prayers, you study your learned books, and take but
little interest in the outward world. I know all, hear all, take
part in all. I study politics and the world's history, as diligently
as you study the old Fathers."
"Well, Brother Tobias, instruct me a little in your studies. You are
right; I care but little for these things, and I am heartily glad of
it. It grieves me to hear of the wrath and contentions of men. God
sent us into the world to live in peace and love with one another."
"If that be so, why has God permitted us to discover gunpowder?"
said Brother Tobias, whistling merrily. "I say to you that by the
power of gunpowder and the naked sword Silesia will soon be in
possession of the faithful believer Maria Theresa. Is it not
manifest that God is with her? The devil in the beginning, with the
help of the Prussian king and his wild army, did seem more powerful
than God himself! Only think that the gates of Breslau were opened
by a box on the ear! that the year before, Prague was taken almost
without a blow! It seemed indeed like child's play. Frederick was in
possession of almost the whole of Bohemia, but like a besieged and
suffering garrison he was obliged to creep away. God sent an enemy
against him who is more powerful than all mortal foes, his army was
perishing with hunger. There is no difference between the bravest
soldier and the little maiden when they fall into the hands of this
adversary. Hunger drove the victorious King of Prussia out of
Bohemia; hunger made him abandon Silesia and seek refuge in Berlin.
[Footnote: Preuss's "History of Frederick the Great."] Oh, I assure
you, we will soon cease to be Prussians. While King Frederick is
refreshing and amusing himself in Berlin, the Austrians have entered
Glatz, and bring us greetings from our gracious queen, Maria
"If the King of Prussia hears of these greetings, he will answer
them by cannon-balls."
"Did I not tell you that Frederick of Prussia was idling away in
Berlin, and recovering from his disastrous campaign in Bohemia? The
Austrians will have taken possession of all Upper Silesia before the
king and his soldiers have satisfied their hunger, I tell you, in a
few days they will be with us."
"God forbid!" said Brother Anastasius; "then will the torch of war
burn anew, and misfortune and misery will reign again throughout
"Yes, that is true. I will tell you another piece of news, which I
heard yesterday in Frankenstein; it is said that the King of Prussia
has quietly left Berlin and gone himself into Silesia to look after
the Austrians. Would it not be charming if Frederick should make our
cloister a visit, just as General Count Wallis and his troops
"And you would call that charming?" said Brother Anastasius, with a
"Yes, most assuredly; the king would be taken prisoner, and the war
would be at an end. You may rest assured the Austrians would not
give the king his liberty till he had yielded up Silesia for
"May God be gracious, and guard us from war and pestilence!"
murmured Brother Anastasius, folding his hands piously in prayer.
The thrice-repeated stroke of the bell in the cloister interrupted
his devotions, and the full, round face of Brother Tobias glowed
with pleasing anticipations.
"They ring for breakfast, Brother Anastasius," said he; "let us
hasten before Brother Baptist, who is ever the first at the table,
appropriates the best morsels and lays them on his plate. Come,
come, brother; after breakfast we will go into the garden and water
our flowers. We have a lovely day and ample time--it will be three
hours before mass."
"Come, then, brother, and may your dangerous prophecies and
expectations not be fulfilled!"
The two monks stepped into the cloister, and a deep and unbroken
silence reigned around, interrupted only by the sweet songs of the
birds and the light movements of their wings. The building was in
the noble style of the middle ages, and stood out in grand and
harmonious proportions against the deep blue of the horizon.
It was, without doubt, to observe the beauty and grandeur of this
structure, that two travellers who had toiled slowly up the path
leading from the village of Camens, now paused and looked with
wondering glances at the cloister.
"There must be a splendid view from the tower," said the oldest and
smaller of the travellers to his tall and slender companion, who was
gazing with rapture at the enchanting landscape.
"It must indeed be a glorious prospect," he replied with a
"It affords a splendid opportunity to look far and wide over the
land, and to see if the Austrian troops are really on the march,"
said the other, with a stern and somewhat hasty tone. "Let us enter
and ascend the tower."
The youth bowed silently, and followed, at some little distance, the
hasty steps of his companion. They reached the platform, and stood
for a moment to recover breath.
"We have reached the summit--if we were only safely down again."
"We can certainly descend; the question is, under what
"You mean, whether free or as prisoners? Well, I see no danger; we
are completely disguised, and no one knows me here. The Abbot
Amandus is dead, and the new abbot is unknown to me. Let us make
haste; ring the bell."
The youth was in the act of obeying, when suddenly a voice cried
out: "Don't sound the bell--I will come myself and open the door."
A man had been standing at the upper story, by an open window, and
heard the conversation of the two travellers. He drew in his head
hastily and disappeared.
"It seems I am not so unknown as I supposed," said the smaller of
the two gentlemen, with a quiet smile.
"Who knows whether these monks are reliable and true?" whispered the
"You certainly would not doubt these exalted servants of God? I, for
my part, shall believe in their sincerity till they convince me of
the contrary. Ah! the door is opened."
The small door was indeed open, and a monk came out, and hastily
drew near to the two travellers.
"I am the Abbot Tobias Stusche; I am also a man wholly devoted to
the King of Prussia, though he does not know me."
The abbot laid such a peculiar expression upon these last words,
that the strangers were forced to remark them.
"Do you not know the King of Prussia?" said the elder, fixing his
eagle eye upon the kindly and friendly face of the abbot.
"I know the king when he does not wish to be incognito," said the
abbot, with a smile.
"If the king were here, would you counsel him to remain incognito?"
"I would counsel that; some among my monks are Austrian in sympathy,
and I hear the Austrians are at hand."
"My object is to look out from your tower after the Austrians. Let
us enter; show us the way."
The abbot said nothing, but entered the cloister hastily, and cast a
searching glance in every direction.
"They are all yet in the refectory, and the windows open upon the
gardens. But no--there is Brother Anastasius."
It was truly Brother Anastasius, who stood at the window, and
regarded them with astonished and sympathetic glances. The abbot
nodded to him and laid his forefinger lightly upon his lips; he then
hastily crossed the threshold of the little door.
The stranger laid his hand upon the shoulder of the abbot, and said
sternly, "Did you not give a sign to this monk?"
"Yes, the sign of silence," answered the abbot; and turning back, he
looked calmly upon the strangers.
"Let us go onward." And with a firm step they entered the cloister.
THE KING AND THE ABBOT.
Silently they passed through the lofty halls and corridors, which
resounded with the steps of the strangers, and reached the rooms
appropriated to the abbot. As they entered and the door closed
behind them, shutting them off from the seeing and listening world,
the face of the abbot assumed an expression of the most profound
reverence and emotion. He crossed his hands over his breast, and
bowing profoundly, he said: "Will your majesty allow me from the
depths of my soul to welcome you? In the rooms of the Abbot Tobias
Stusche, King Frederick need not preserve his incognito. Blessed be
your entrance into my house, and may your departure also be
The king smiled. "This blessed conclusion, I suppose, depends
entirely upon your excellency. I really cannot say what danger
threatens us. It certainly was not my intention to wander here; to
stretch out my reconnoissance to such a distance. But what would
you, sir abbot? I am not only a king and soldier, but I am a man,
with eye and heart open to the beauties of nature, and I worship God
in His works of creation. Your cloister enticed me with its beauty.
In place of mounting my horse and riding back from Frankenstein, I
was lured hither to admire your building and enjoy the splendid
prospect from your tower. Allow me to rest awhile; give me a glass
of wine, and then we will mount the tower."
There was so much of calm, bold courage, so much of proud self-
consciousness in the bearing of the king, that the poor, anxious
abbot could not find courage to express his apprehensions. He turned
and looked imploringly at the companion of the king, who was no
other than the young officer of the life-guard, Frederick von
Trenck. The youth seemed to share fully the careless indifference of
his royal master; his face was smiling, and he did not seem to
understand the meaning looks of the abbot.
"Will your majesty allow me, and me alone, to have the honor of
serving you?" said his excellency. "I am jealous of the great
happiness which Providence has accorded me, and I will not divide it
with another, not even with my monks."
Frederick laughed heartily. "Confess, your excellency, that you dare
not trust your monks. You do not know that they are as good
Prussians as I have happily found you to be? Go, then, if it is
agreeable to you, and with your own pious hands bring me a glass of
wine, I need not say good wine--you cloistered men understand that."
Frederick leaned back comfortably in his arm-chair and conversed
cheerfully, even merrily, with his young adjutant and the worthy
abbot, who hastened here and there, and drew from closets and
hiding-places wine, fruit, and other rich viands. The cloistered
stillness, the unbroken quiet which surrounded him, were pleasing to
the king; his features were illuminated with that soft and at the
same time imposing smile which played but seldom upon his lips, but
which, like the sun, when it appeared, filled all hearts with light
and gladness. Several hours passed--hours which the king did not
seem to observe, but the heart of the poor abbot was trembling with
"And now," said the king, "I am rested, refreshed, and strengthened.
Will your excellency conduct me to the tower? then I will return to
"There is happily a way to the tower for my use alone," said the
abbot, "where we are certain to be met by no one. I demand pardon,
sire, the way is dark and winding, and we must mount many small
"Well, abbot, it resembles the way to eternal life; from the power
of darkness to light; from the path of sin and folly to that of
knowledge and true wisdom. I will seek after this knowledge from
your tower, worthy abbot. Have you my field-glass, Trenck?"
The adjutant bowed, silently; they passed through the corridor and
mounted the steps, reaching at last the platform at the top of the
A wondrous prospect burst upon their view; the horizon seemed
bounded by majestic mountains of porphyry--this third element or
place of deposit of the enchanting primeval earth, out of which
mighty but formless mass our living, breathing, and beautiful world
sprang into creation, and the stars sang together for joy. In the
midst of these mountains stood the "Giant," with his snow-crowned
point, like the great finger of God, reaching up into the heavens,
and contrasting strangely with the lofty but round green summits of
the range, now gilded by the morning sun, and sparkling in changing
rays of light.
The king looked upon this picture with rapture; an expression of
prayer and praise was written upon his face. But with the proud
reserve which ever belongs to those who, by exalted rank or genius,
are isolated from other men, with the shrinking of a great soul, the
king would allow no one to witness his emotion. He wished to be
alone, alone with Nature and Nature's God; he dismissed the abbot
and his adjutant, and commanded them to wait in the rooms below for
him. And now, convinced that no one saw or heard him, the king gave
himself up wholly to the exalted and pious feelings which agitated
his soul. With glistening eyes he gazed upon the enchanting
landscape, which glowed and shimmered in the dazzling sunshine.
"God, God!" said he, in low tones; "who can doubt that He is, and
that He is from everlasting to everlasting? Who, that looks upon the
beauty, the harmony, and order of creation, can doubt of His wisdom,
and that His goodness is over all His works? [Footnote: The king's
own words. "OEuvres posthumes," page 162.] O my God, I worship you
in your works of creation and providence, and I bow my head in
adoration at the footstool of your divine Majesty. Why cannot men be
content with this great, mysterious, exalted, and ever-enduring
church, with which God has surrounded them? Why can they not worship
in Nature's great cathedral? Why do they confine themselves to
churches of brick and mortar, the work of men's hands, and listen to
their hypocritical priests, rather than listen to and worship God in
His beautiful world? They cry out against me and call me an infidel,
but my heart is full of love and faith in my Creator, and I worship
Him, not in priestly words, but in the depths of my soul."
And now Frederick cast a smiling greeting to the lovely phenomena
which lay at his feet. His thoughts had been with God, and his
glance upward; but now his eyes wandered over the perfumed and
blooming valley which lay in the depths between the mountains; he
numbered the little cities and villages, with their red roofs and
graceful church-spires; he admired the straw-thatched huts upon
whose highest points the stork had built her nest, and stood by it
in observant and majestic composure.
"This is all mine; I won it with my spear and bow. It is mine, and I
will never yield it up. I will prove to Maria Theresa that what was
good to take was not good to restore. No, no! Silesia is mine; my
honor, my pride, and my fame demand it. I will never give it up. I
will defend it with rivers of blood, yes, with my own heart's
He took his glass and looked again over the luxurious valley; he
started and fixed his glass steadily upon one point. In the midst of
the smiling meadows through which the highway wound like a graceful
stream, he saw a curious, glittering, moving mass. At the first
glance it looked like a crowd of creeping ants; it soon, however,
assumed larger proportions, and, at last, approaching ever nearer,
the forms of men could be distinctly seen, and now he recognized a
column of marching soldiers.
"Austrians," said the king, with calm composure. He turned his glass
in the other direction, where a road led into the valley; this path
was also filled with soldiers, who, by rapid marches, were
approaching the cloister. "Without doubt they know that I am here,"
said the king; "they have learned this in the village, and have come
to take me prisoner. Eh bien, nous verrons."
So saying, Frederick put his glass in his pocket, descended the
steps, and with cool indifference entered the room of the abbot.
"Messieurs," said he, laughing merrily, as he looked at the good-
natured and unsuspicious faces of the worthy abbot and the young
officer, "we must decide upon some plan of defence, for the
Austrians draw near on every side of the cloister."
"Oh, my prophetic soul!" murmured the abbot, folding his hands in
Trenck rushed to the window and looked searchingly abroad. At this
moment a loud knock was heard upon the door, and an anxious voice
called to the abbot.
"All is lost, the Austrians are already here!" cried Tobias Stusche,
wringing his hands despairingly.
"No!" said the king, "they cannot yet have reached the cloister, and
that is not the voice of a soldier who commands, but that of a monk
who prays, and is almost dead with terror; let us open the door."
"O my God, your majesty! would you betray yourself?" cried Stusche,
and forgetting all etiquette, he rushed to the king, laid his hand
upon his arm and held him back.
"No," said the king, "I will not betray myself, neither will I
conceal myself. I will meet my fate with my face to the foe."
"Open, open, for God's sake!" cried the voice without.
"He prays in God's name," said the king. "I will open the door." He
crossed the room and drew back the bolt.
And now, the pale and anxious face of Brother Anastasius appeared.
He entered hastily, closed and fastened the door.
"Pardon," said he, trembling and breathless--"pardon that I have
dared to enter. The danger is great; the Austrians surround the
"Are they already here?" said the king.
"No; but they have sent a courier, who commands us immediately to
open all the doors and give entrance to the soldiers of Maria
"Have they given a reason for this command?"
"Yes; they say they know assuredly that the King of Prussia is
concealed here, and they come to search the cloister."
"Have you not said to them, that we are not only the servants of
God, but the servants of the King of Prussia? Have you not said to
them that the doors of our cloister can only open to Prussian
"Yes, your excellency. I told the soldier all this, but he laughed,
and said the pandours of Colonel von Trenck knew how to obtain an
"Ah! it is Trenck, with his pandours," cried the king, casting a
searching glance at Frederick von Trenck, who stood opposite, with
pale and tightly-compressed lips; he met the eye of the king boldly,
however, and looked him steadily in the face.
"Is Colonel Trenck your relation?" said the king, hastily.
"Yes, your majesty; he is my father's brother's son," said the young
"Ah! I see you have a clear conscience," said the king, laying his
hand smilingly upon the youth's shoulder. "But, tell me, worthy
abbot, do you know any way to rescue us from this mouse-trap?"
Tobias did not reply immediately; he stood thoughtfully with his
arms folded, then raised his head quickly, as if he had come to some
bold conclusion; energy and purpose were written in his face. "Will
your majesty make use of the means which I dare to offer you?"
"Yes, if they are not unworthy. I owe it to my people not to lay
upon them the burden of my ransom."
"Then I hope, with God's help, to serve your majesty." He turned to
the monk, and said, with a proud, commanding tone: "Brother
Anastasius, listen to my commands. Go immediately to Messner, order
him in my name to call all the brothers to high mass in the choir of
the church; threaten him with my wrath and the severest punishment,
if he dares to speak to one of the brethren. I will prove my monks,
and see if they recognize that obedience is the first duty in a
"While Messner assembles the priests, shall the bell sound for
"Hasten, Brother Anastasius; in ten minutes we must be all in the
"And you expect to save me by celebrating high mass?" said
Frederick, shrugging his shoulders.
"Yes, sire, I expect it. Will your majesty graciously accompany me
to my dressing-room?"
THE UNKNOWN ABBOT
The bell continued to sound, and its silver tones echoed in the
lofty halls and corridors, through which the priests, in their
superb vestments and holy orders, passed onward to the church.
Surprise and wonder were written upon every face; curious questions
were burning upon every lip, restrained, however, by the strong
habit of obedience. The abbot had commanded that not one word should
be exchanged between the brethren. The abbot must be obeyed, though
the monks might die of curiosity. Silently they entered the church.
And now the bell ceased to toll, and the grand old organ filled the
church with a rich stream of harmony. Suddenly the notes were soft
and touching, and the strong, full voices of men rose high above
While the organ swelled, and the church resounded with songs of
prayer and praise, the Abbot Tobias Stusche entered the great door.
But this time he was not, as usual, alone. Another abbot, in the
richly-embroidered habiliments of a fete day, stood by his side. No
one had ever seen this abbot. He was wholly unknown.
Every eye was turned upon him; every one was struck with the
commanding and noble countenance, with the imposing brow and
luminous eye, which cast searching and threatening glances in every
direction. All felt that something strange, unheard of, was passing
in their midst. They knew this stranger, glowing with youth, beauty,
and majesty, was no common priest, no humble brother.
The command to strict silence had been given, and implicit obedience
is the first duty of the cloister. So they were silent, sang, and
prayed; while Tobias Stusche, with the strange abbot, swept slowly
and solemnly through the aisles up to the altar. They both fell upon
their knees and folded their hands in silent prayer.
Again the organ swelled, and the voices of the choristers rose up in
adoration and praise; but every eye and every thought were fixed
upon the strange abbot kneeling before the high altar, and wrestling
with God in prayer. And now the organ was silent, and the low
prayers began. The monks murmured mechanically the accustomed words;
nothing was heard but sighs of penitence and trembling petitions,
which seemed to fade and die away amongst the lofty pillars of the
Suddenly a loud noise was heard without, the sound of pistols and
threatening voices demanding admittance. No one regarded this. The
church doors were violently thrown open, and wild, rude forms,
sunbrowned and threatening faces appeared. For one moment noisy
tumult and outcry filled the church, but it was silenced by the holy
service, now celebrated by these kneeling, praying monks, who held
their beads in their hands, and gave no glance, in token of interest
or consciousness, toward the wild men who had so insolently
interrupted the worship of God. The soldiers bowed their heads
humbly upon their breasts, and prayed for pardon and grace. This
holy duty being fulfilled, they remembered their worldly calling,
and commenced to search the church for the King of Prussia, whom
they believed to be hidden there. The clang of spurs and heavy steps
resounded through the aisles, and completely drowned the prayers and
sighs of the monks, who, kneeling upon their stools, seemed to have
no eye or thought for any thing but the solemn service in which they
The pandours, in their dark, artistic costumes, with the red mantle
fastened to their shoulders, swarmed through the church, and with
flashing eyes and scarcely suppressed curses searched in every niche
and behind every pillar for Frederick of Prussia. How often did
these wild forms pass by the two abbots, who were still kneeling,
immovable in rapturous meditation, before the high altar! How often
did their swords strike upon the floor behind them, and even fasten
in the vestment of the strange abbot, who, with closed eyes and head
bowed down upon his breast, had no knowledge of their presence!
The prayers had continued much longer than usual, and yet the abbot
did not pronounce the benediction! And now he did indeed give a
sign, but not the one expected. He rose from his knees, but did not
leave the church; with his companion, he mounted the steps to the
altar, to draw near to the holy crucifix and bless the host. He
nodded to the choir, and again the organ and the choristers filled
the church with melody.
This was something so extraordinary that the monks turned pale, and
questioned their consciences anxiously. Had they not committed some
great crime, for which their stern abbot was resolved to punish them
with everlasting prayer and penitence? The pandours knew nothing of
this double mass. They had now searched the whole church, and as the
king was not to be found, they rushed out in order to search the
cells, and, indeed, every corner of the cloister. The service still
continued; the unknown abbot stood before the high altar, while
Abbot Stusche took the host and held it up before the kneeling
At this moment a wild cry of triumph was heard without; then curses
and loud laughter. The monks were bowed down before the host, and
did not seem to hear the tumult. They sang and prayed, and now the
outcry and noise of strife was hushed, and nothing was heard but the
faint and dying tones of the organ. The pandours had left the
cloister; they had found the adutant of the king and borne him off
as a rich spoil to their commander, Colonel von Trenck.
The soldiers were gone, it was therefore not necessary to continue
the worship of God. Tobias Stusche repeated a pater-noster, gave his
hand to the unknown abbot, and they turned to leave the church. As
they slowly and majestically swept through the aisles, the monks
bowed their heads in reverence; the organ breathed its last grand
accord, and the glorious sun threw a beckoning love-greeting through
the lofty windows of painted glass. It was a striking and solemn
scene, and the unknown abbot seemed strangely impressed. He paused
at the door and turned once more, and his glance wandered slowly
over the church.
One hour later the heavy state-coach of the Abbot of Clostenberg
rolled down from Camens. In the coach sat Tobias Stusche with the
unknown abbot. They took the road to Frankenstein. Not far from the
gate the carriage stopped, and to the amazement of the coachman, no
abbot, but a soldier clad in the well-known Prussian uniform,
descended. After leaving the coach, he turned again and bowed to the
worthy Abbot Stusche.
"I will never forget this bold and noble act of your excellency,"
said the king, giving his hand to the abbot. "You and your cloister
may at all times count upon my special favor. But for your aid, I
should this day have been betrayed into a most unworthy and shameful
imprisonment. The first rich abbey which is vacant I will give to
you, and then in all future time I will confirm the choice of abbot,
which the monks themselves shall make." [Footnote: In gratitude for
this service, the king gave the rich Abbey of Sentua to Stusche, and
kept up with him always the kindest intercourse. There are letters
still preserved written by the king himself to the abbot, filled
with expressions of heart-felt kindness and favor. Frederick sent
him from Meissen a beautiful set of porcelain, and splendid stuff
for pontifical robes, and rare champagne wine. While in Breslau, he
invited him twice to visit him. Soon after the close of the Seven
Years' War, Stusche died. The king sent a royal present to the
cloister with a request that on the birthday of the abbot a solemn
mass should be celebrated. Some years later, Frederick stopped at
Camens, and told the abbot to commission the first monk who died to
bear his loving greeting to the good Abbot Stusche in Paradise.--
"O my God!" exclaimed the abbot, "how rarely must your majesty have
met with honest and faithful men, if you reward so richly a simple
and most natural act of love!"
"Faithful hearts are rare," said the king. "I have met this blue-
eyed daughter of Heaven but seldom upon my path, and it is perhaps
for this reason that her grandeur and her beauty are so enchanting
to me. Farewell, sir abbot, and greet the brother Anastasius for
"Will not your majesty allow me to accompany you to the city?"
"No, it is better that I go on foot. In a quarter of an hour, I
shall be there; my carriage and my guard await me, and I wish no one
to be acquainted with the adventures of this day. It remains a
secret between us for the present."
Frederick greeted him once more, and then stepped lightly onward
toward the city. The coach of the abbot returned slowly to the
The king had advanced but a short distance, when the sound of an
approaching horse met his car. He stood still and looked down the
highway. This time the Austrian uniform did not meet his eye; he
recognized in the distance the Prussian colors, and as the horse
approached nearer, he marked the uniform of a young officer of his
life-guard. Before Frederick found time for surprise, the rider had
reached him, checked his horse with a strong hand, sprang from the
saddle, bowed profoundly before the king, and reached him the reins.
"Will not your majesty do me the favor to mount my horse?" said
Trenck, calm and unembarrassed, and without alluding by word or
smile to the adventure of the day.
The king looked at him searchingly. "From whence come you?" said he
"From Glatz, where the pandours carried me as a prisoner, and
delivered me to Colonel Trenck."
"You were then a prisoner, and were released without ransom?"
"Colonel Trenck laughed merrily when his pandours delivered me to
him, and declared I was the King of Prussia."
"Colonel Trenck knows you?"
"Sire, I saw him often in my father's house."
"Go on: he recognized you, then?"
"He knew me, and said laughingly, he had sent to take Frederick,
King of Prussia, and not Frederick von Trenck, prisoner. I was free,
I might go where I wished, and as I could not go on foot, he
presented me with one of his best horses; and now I am here, will
not your majesty do me the honor to mount this horse?"
"I mount no Austrian horse," said the king in a harsh tone.
The young officer fixed his glance for one moment, with an
expression of regret upon the proud and noble animal, who with
dilating nostrils, flashing eyes, and impatient stamping of the
fore-feet, stood by his side, arching gracefully his finely-formed
and muscular throat. But this expression of regret soon vanished. He
let go the bridle and bowing to the king he said, "I am at your
The king glanced backward at the noble steed, who, slender and
graceful and swift as a gazelle, was in a moment so far distant as
to be no larger than a flying eagle. He then advanced toward
Frankenstein: both were silent; neither gave another thought to the
gallant horse, who, riderless and guided by instinct alone, was far
on the way to Glatz. Once before they reached the city, the king
turned and fixed his eyes upon the open, youthful, and handsome face
"I believe it would be better for you if this colonel of pandours
were not your relation," said the king thoughtfully; "there can no
good come to you from this source, but only evil."
Frederick von Trenck turned pale. "Does your majesty command that I
shall change my name?"
"No," said the king after a moment's reflection. "The name is a holy
inheritance which is handed down from our fathers, and it should not
be lightly cast away. But be careful, be careful in every
particular. Understand my words, and think upon my warning, Baron
THE LEVEE OF A DANCER.
In Behren Street, which was at that time one of the most recherche
and beautiful streets of Berlin, order and quiet generally reigned.
To-day, however, an extraordinary activity prevailed in this
aristocratic locality; splendid equipages and gallant riders,
followed by their attendants, dashed by; all seemed to have the same
object; all drew up before the large and elegant mansion which had
for some time been the centre of attraction to all the courtly
cavaliers of the Prussian capital. Some of the royal princes, the
young Duke of Wurtemberg, counts, ambassadors, and generals, were
to-day entreating an audience.
Who dwelt in this house? What distinguished person was honored by
all these marks of consideration? Why was every face thoughtful and
earnest? Was this a funeral, and was this general gloom the
expression of the heart's despair at the thought of the loved and
lost? Perhaps the case was not quite so hopeless. It might be that a
prince or other eminent person was dangerously ill! "It must be a
man," as no woman was seen in this grand cavalcade. But how account
for those rare and perfumed flowers? Does a man visit his sick
friend with bouquets of roses and violets and orange-blossoms? with
rare and costly southern fruits in baskets of gold and silver? This
would indeed be a strange custom!
But no! In this house dwelt neither prince nor statesman, only a
woman. How strange that only men were there to manifest their
sympathy! In this pitiful and dreary world a woman who has made a
name for herself by her own beauty and talent is never acknowledged
by other women. Those who owe their rank to their fathers and
husbands, are proud of this accidental favor of fate; they consider
themselves as the chosen accomplices and judges of morals and
virtue, and cast out from their circles all those who dare to
elevate themselves above mediocrity. In this house dwelt an artiste-
-the worshipped prima donna, the Signora Barbarina!
Barbarina! ah! that was an adored and a hated name. The women spoke
of her with frowning brows and contemptuous laughter, the men with
flashing eyes and boundless enthusiasm; the one despised and
abhorred her, even as the other exalted and adored her. And truly
both had cause: the women hated her because she stole from them the
eyes and hearts of their lovers and husbands; the men worshipped her
as a blossom of beauty, a fairy wonder, a consecrated divinity.
These two parties were as zealous as the advocates of the white and
red rose. The women fought under the banner of the faded, withered
white rose; the men gathered around the flag of her glowing sister,
the enchanting Barbarina. This was no equal contest, no doubtful
result. The red rose must conquer. At the head of her army stood the
greatest of warriors. The king was at the same time Barbarina's
general and subject. The white rose must yield, she had no leader.
Possibly Elizabeth Christine desired to lead the army of martyrs;
possibly the same rage and scorn swelled in her heart which spoiled
the peace of other women. But her modest and trembling lips betrayed
nothing of the secret storms of her bosom; her soft and gentle smile
veiled her shrouded wishes and the hopes there buried in her heart.
One could scarcely believe that this timid, pious queen could
worship an earthly object, or yield herself one moment to the bare
passion of hate. Truly Elizabeth Christine hated no one, not even
Barbarina--this woman who had given the last blow to her tortured
heart, and added the passion of jealousy to her despised love.
Elizabeth Christine was indeed jealous, but not in the common way;
she felt no scorn, she uttered no reproach; silent tears and earnest
prayers for strength were her only speech.
The king had given her no occasion to complain of his love for
Barbarina; she did not know that he had ever approached her, even
spoken to her; she knew, however, with what looks and smiles of
rapture he gazed upon her, and she would joyfully have given her
life for one such glance or smile. That, however, which was not
known to Elizabeth, was fully understood by the whole court. It was
known that more than once the Barbarina had supped with the king at
the house of General Rothenberg; it was known that the king, every
time the Barbarina danced, was behind the curtain, and that, he had
commanded the court painter, Pesne, to paint her portrait, life
size, for him.
Was not this enough to exalt the signora in the eyes of every
courtier and every diplomatist to the first rank of beauty and
power? Would they not, indeed, have hastened to acknowledge her
claims, even had she not been the loveliest and most enchanting
creature? She was indeed a queen, a powerful enchantress. Men
struggled for one smile, one glance; they bowed down to all her
caprices and humors; worship, submission, and obedience were the
tribute brought by all. Her house was besieged with visits and
petitions as if it were the palace of a fairy queen. Barbarina had
her court circle, her levees, her retinue. [Footnote: Schneider,
"History of the Opera and Opera-Houses in Berlin."] All her subjects
rendered her a glad and voluntary service, and received no other
compensation than a gay smile or friendly word.
All this splendor, consideration, and worship, of which she was the
shining centre, seemed to make no impression upon the heart of the
proud and self-reliant artiste; she was accustomed to it, and moved
on in silent majesty; her whole life had been a triumphant march.
Like a summer morning glittering in the dew and sunshine, she had
had her little griefs and tears, but they resembled the dew-drops in
the flower-cups, shining for a moment like costly diamonds, then
kissed away by the sun. Barbarina wept when the king separated her
from her lover, Lord Stuart, and forced her to fulfil her contract
and come to Berlin. She wept no more. Was it because she was too
proud? or had the sun of royal favor kissed away her tears?
Barbarina's tears had ceased to flow, but she smiled rarely. She had
the grace and imposing beauty of the Roman, and never forgot that
she was a daughter of that proud nation who had ruled the world,
and, even though disenthroned, preserved her majesty and renown.
Barbarina was a glowing, passionate woman, and passion adorns itself
with flashing eyes, with a clear and touching pallor and crimson
lips, but never with the innocent smile and harmless jest. She was
never heard and rarely seen to laugh. Laughter was not in harmony
with her proud beauty, but smiles illuminated and glorified it. She
was imperial to look upon; but, filled with all sweet charity and
gentle grace, womanly and tender; with a full consciousness of her
power, she was humble and yielding. In the midst of her humility she
was proud, and sure of success and victory; one moment she was the
glowing, ardent, and yielding woman; the next the proud, genial,
imposing artiste. Such was Barbarina; an incomprehensible riddle,
unsearchable, unfathomable as the sea--ever changing, but great in
Barbarina had appeared the evening before, but her dance had been
interrupted by a sudden indisposition exactly at the moment when the
king appeared in the opera-house. No one knew that the king had
returned from his mysterious journey to Silesia; every one believed
him to be absent, and the ballet had been arranged without any
reference to him. Frederick arrived unexpectedly, and changing his
travelling-dress hastened to the opera, no doubt to greet the two
queens and his sisters. Barbarina was seized with indisposition at
the moment of the king's entrance. She floated smilingly and airily
over the stage; her small feet seemed borne by the Loves and Graces.
Suddenly she faltered, the smile vanished from her lips, and the
slight blush from her cheek, and with a cry of pain she sank
insensible upon the floor.
The curtain fell, and an intermission of a quarter of an hour was
announced. The king, who was conversing with the queen-mother,
appeared to take but little interest in this interruption, but Baron
Swartz approached and announced that Signora Barbarina was ill and
could not appear again during the evening. Frederick gave such an
angry exclamation, that the queen-mother looked up astonished and
questioning. Elizabeth Christine sighed and turned pale. She
comprehended the emotion of her husband; guided by the instinct of
jealousy, she read the king's alarm and disappointment, which he
tried in vain to hide under the mask of scorn.
"It appears to me," said the king, "that the signora is again
indulging in one of her proud and sullen moods, and refuses to dance
because I have returned. I will not submit to this caprice; I will
myself command her to dance."
He bowed to the two queens, stepped behind the curtain, and advanced
to the boudoir of the signora. The door was fastened within. The
king stood hesitating for a moment; he heard the sound of weeping
and sobbing--the signora was in bitter pain or sorrow.
"She is truly ill," said he.
"She has cramp," suggested Baron Swartz, who had followed the king.
Frederick turned hastily. "Is that dangerous" he asked, in a tone
which betrayed his alarm and agitation.
"Not dangerous, sire, but the physician who was with her has
declared that absolute quiet was necessary. Will your majesty
command that another dancer shall take her place?"
"No," said Frederick; "the pas which belongs to Barbarina shall be
danced by no other. Salimberri and Astrea shall sing an aria and the
house be dismissed. Go to their majesties and say to them I pray
they will excuse me; I only came to greet them, and, being much
fatigued by my journey, I will now retire."
Bowing to the baron, the king left the opera-house and entered the
palace. But in the silence of the night, when all others slept, the
soft tones of his flute melted on the air.
Barbarina was ill. For this reason her house was besieged; for this
reason every face was clouded. Her adorers were there begging to see
her, and thus find comfort and encouragement; each one wished to
prove his sympathy by some marked attention. They hoped that these
glorious and costly fruits might win for them a smile of gratitude.
The reception-room of Barbarina was like a royal conservatory, only
the life-giving and dazzling sun was hidden from view. Barbarina was
in her boudoir, and all these gallant cavaliers waited in vain for
her appearance. It was the hour of her levee, the hour when her door
was open to all who had enjoyed the honor of being presented to her.
The courtiers stood in groups and conversed in light whispers over
the on-dits of the day, and turning their eyes from time to time to
the portiere of purple velvet which separated them from the boudoir
of the signora; from that point must the sun rise to illuminate this
But Barbarina came not. She lay upon a white silk divan, dressed in
the most ravishing negligee of white muslin, covered with rare and
costly lace. She was dreaming with open eyes, and arms crossed upon
her breast. Those flashing eyes were soft and misty; a melancholy
expression trembled upon her lips. Barbarina was alone. Why should
she not dream, and lay aside for a while her gracious smiles and
fiery glance? Of what were those unfathomable eyes dreaming? what
signified those sighs which burst from her full crimson lips? Did
she know herself, or did she wish to know? Did she comprehend the
weakness of her own proud heart, or had she veiled it from herself,
ashamed to read what was written there?
At this moment the door opened, and a young girl entered--one of
those insignificant, gentle, yielding creatures, generally found
amongst the attendants of an artiste--a tete de souffrance, on whom
they exhaust their humor, their scorn, and their passion; the humble
companion, kept in the background when blessed with the society of
distinguished and wealthy adorers. The companion of Barbarina did
not suffer, however, from this hard fate. She was Barbarina's
sister, and had followed her from tender love to the cold north. The
signora loved her sister fondly; she was the companion of her joys
and sorrows; she had no secrets from her, and knew that an open ear
and judicious counsel were always to be found with her little sister
Barabrina lay, still dreaming, upon the divan. Possibly she did not
know that Marietta stood by her side, and laid her hand upon her
"Sorella," said she, "get up; many gentlemen are in the saloon,
waiting for you."
"Let them wait. I will see no one to-day."
"It is the hour when you are accustomed to receive, Sorella, and if
you do not come they will think you are still unwell."
"Well, let them think so."
"They will not only think so, Sorella; they will say so, and make
"What comments?" said Barbarina, raising herself up; "what comments,
"It was indeed unfortunate that your sickness came upon you just as
the king appeared," said Marietta.
Barbarina's eyes flashed. "Do you think they will put those things
together?" said she. "They will say, perhaps, that Barbarina fainted
at the unexpected appearance of the king; that the joy of seeing him
overcame her; is that your meaning, Marietta?"
"Yes, that is my meaning," said Marietta, in a low tone.
Barbarina sprang from the divan, trembling and pallid. "They will
mock at and scorn me," she cried, raising her arms to heaven as if
to call down the lightning to her aid; "they will say I love this
"They will say that, Sorella," replied Marietta.
Barbarina seized her hand. "But you, sister! you will not say this;
you know that I have sworn to hate him with an everlasting hatred.
You know that I have put an evil spell upon him with my tears; that
I never can forgive him for the suffering and agony he prepared for
me. Think, think, Marietta, how much I have wept, how much I have
endured! My life was like a lustrous May morning, a fairy tale of
starry splendor; roses and pearls were in my path: he has obscured
my stars, and changed my pearls to tears. Woe to him! woe to him! I
have sworn to hate him eternally, and Barbarina keeps her oath."
"Yes, you have sworn to hate him, sister, but the world is ignorant
of your oath and its cause; their eyes are blinded, and they
strangely mistake your hate for love. They see that your glance is
clearer, brighter, when the king is by, and they know not that it is
hate which flashes from your eyes; they hear that your voice lightly
trembles when you speak to him, they do not know that the hatred in
your heart deprives you of self-control; they see that you dance
with more enchanting grace in the king's presence, they do not
understand that these are instruments of revenge--that you wish to
crush him by the mighty power of genius, grace, and beauty."
"Yes, yes! just so," said Barbarina, breathing painfully; "you alone
know me, you alone read my heart! I hate, I abhor this cold, cruel
king, and he richly deserves my hate! He may be wise and great, but
his heart is ice. It is true, he is handsome and exalted; genius is
marked on his noble brow; his smile is magical, and irradiates his
face; his eyes, those great, inexplicable eyes, are blue as the
heavens and unfathomable as the sea. When I look into them, I seem
to read the mysteries of the great deep, and the raptures of heaven.
His voice, when he pleads, is like consecrated music; when he
commands, it is the voice of God in thunder. He is great above all
other men; he is a hero, a man, and a king!"
"And yet you hate him?" said Marietta, with a mocking smile.
Barbarina trembled. Marietta's question checked her glowing
enthusiasm; it rang in her ears like the name-call in the
"Somnambulist," and roused her to consciousness.
"Yes," said she, in a low tone, "I hate him, and I will ever hate
him! If I loved him, I should be the most wretched of women--I
should despise and curse myself. He has no heart; he cannot love;
and shame and dishonor rest upon the woman who loves and is not
beloved. Frederick loves nothing but his Prussia, his fame, and his
greatness. And the world says, that 'the Barbarina loves him.' You
see that is impossible, that can never be. I would rather die than
love this man without a heart."
"The world is incredulous," said Marietta; "they cannot look into
your heart, and you must be silent as to your hatred. You dare not
say that you fainted yesterday from scorn and rage at the sudden
appearance of the king."
"Think you they will believe that joy overcame me?" cried Barbarina,
in wild frenzy, "They shall not believe it; it shall not be!" She
sprang like an enraged lioness and grasped a little stiletto which
lay upon her toilet-table, and which she had brought as a relic from
her beautiful fatherland. "I will not be mocked at and despised,"
cried she, proudly, dashing off her gold-embroidered white satin
slipper, and raising her foot.
"Oh! Barbarina, what will you do?" cried Marietta, as she saw her
take up the stiletto.
"This," said she, significantly, sticking the point of the stiletto
in the sole of her foot; the blood gushed out and covered her
stocking with blood.
Marietta uttered a cry of terror, and rushed to her sister, but
Barbarina waved her away; the wound and the flow of blood had
brought relief to her wild nature; she was calm, and a ravishing
smile disclosed two rows of pearly teeth.
"Be still, Marietta," said she, in a commanding tone, "the wound is
not deep, not dangerous, but deep enough to confirm my statement
when I declare that, while dancing last evening, I wounded my foot
upon a piece of glass from a broken lamp."
"Ah! now I understand you, you proud sister," cried Marietta,
looking up gayly. "You would thus account for your swoon of
"Yes, and now give me my slipper, and allow me to take your arm; we
will go into the saloon."
"With your bleeding foot, with this open wound?"
"Yes, with my bleeding foot; however, we had better check the flow
of blood a little."
The cavaliers who waited for the signora became ever sadder and more
thoughtful. Barbarina must be indeed ill, if she allowed her
admirers to wait so long, for she was above all the small coquetries
of women; they would not go, however, till they had news of her,
till they had seen her sister.
At last their patience was rewarded; the portiere was drawn back,
and Barbarina appeared, leaning upon the arm of her sister. She was
pale and evidently suffering. She walked slowly through the saloon,
speaking here and there to the cavaliers, and conversing in the gay,
gracious, and piquant manner in which she excelled. Suddenly, in the
midst of one of these merry interchanges of thought, in which one
speaks of every thing or nothing, Barbarina uttered a cry of pain
and sank upon the sofa.
"I believe, I fear that my foot is bleeding again," she cried. She
slightly raised her robe, and lifted up her foot, that small object
of wonder and rapture to all the lands of Europe. Truly her white
satin slipper was crimson, and blood was flowing freely from it.
A cry of horror sounded from every lip. The gentlemen surrounded
Barbarina, who lay pale as death upon the sofa, while Marietta knelt
before her, and wrapped her foot in her handkerchief. This was a
striking scene. A saloon furnished with princely splendor, and