Part 7 out of 11
Since the day Joseph Fredersdorf introduced Lupinus to Eckhof, an
affectionate intercourse had grown up between them. They were very
happy in each other, and Fredersdorf asserted that there was more of
love than friendship in their hearts, that Lupinus was not the
friend but the bride of Eckhof! In fact, Lupinus had but little of
the unembarrassed, frank, free manner of a young man. He was modest
and reserved, never sought Eckhof; but when the latter came to him,
his pale face colored with a soft red, and his great eyes flashed
with a wondrous glow. Eckhof could not but see how much his silent
young friend rejoiced in his presence.
He came daily to Lupinus. It strengthened and consoled him in the
midst of his nervous, restless artist-life, to look upon the calm,
peaceful face of his friend; this alone, without a word spoken,
soothed his heart--agitated by storms and passions, and made him
mild and peaceable. The quiet room, the books and papers, the
weighty folios, the shining, polished medical instruments, these
stern realities, formed a strange and strong contrast to the
dazzling, shimmering, frivolous, false life of the stage; and all
this exercised a wondrous influence upon the artiste. Eckhof came
often, weighed down with care and exhaustion, or in feverish
excitement over some new role he was studying, not to speak of his
anxieties and perplexities, but to sit silently near Lupinus and
looked calmly upon him.
"Be silent, my Lupinus," said Eckhof to him. "Let me lay my storm-
tossed, wild heart in the moonlight of thy glance; it will be warmed
and cooled at the same time. Let thy mild countenance beam upon me,
soften and heal my aching heart. Look you, when I lay my head thus
upon your shoulder, it seems to me I have escaped all trouble; that
only far away in the distance do I hear the noise and tumult of the
restless, busy world; and I hear the voice of my mother, even as I
heard it in my childish days, whispering of God, of paradise, and
the angels. Still, still, friend, let me dream thus upon your
He closed his eyes in silence, and did not see the fond and tender
expression with which Lupinus looked down upon him. He did not feel
how violently the young heart beat, how quick the hot breath came.
At other times it was a consolation to Eckhof to relate, in
passionate and eloquent words, all his sorrows and disappointments;
all the strifes and contests; all his scorn over the intrigues and
cabals which then, as now, were the necessary attendants of a stage-
life. Lupinus listened till this wild cataract of rage had ceased to
foam, and he might hope that his soft and loving words of
consolation could find an entrance into Eckhof's heart.
Months went by, and Lupinus, faithful to the promise given to
Eckhof, was still the thoughtful, diligent student; he sat ever in
quiet meditation upon the bench of the auditory, and listened to the
learned dissertations of the professors, and studied the secrets of
science in his lonely room.
But this time of trial was soon to be at an end. Eckhof agreed, that
after Lupinus had passed his examination, he should decide for
himself if he would abandon the glittering career of science for the
rough and stormy path of artist-life. In the next few days this
important event was to take place, and Lupinus would publicly and
solemnly receive his diploma.
Lupinus thought but little of this. He knew that the events of that
day must exercise an important influence upon his future, upon the
happiness or unhappiness of his whole life.
The day before the examination Lupinus was alone in his room. He
said to himself, "If the faculty give me my diploma, I will show
myself in my true form to Eckhof. I will step suddenly before him,
and in his surprise I will see if his friend Lupinus is more welcome
He did not complete the sentence, but blushing crimson at his own
thoughts, he turned away and took refuge in his books; but the
excitement and agitation of his soul were stronger than his will;
the letters danced and glimmered before his eyes; his heart beat
joyfully and stormily; and his soul, borne aloft on bold wings,
could no longer be held down to the dusty and dreary writing-desk;
he sprang up, threw the book aside, and hastened to the adjoining
room. No other foot had ever crossed the threshold of this still,
small room; it was always closed against the most faithful of his
Besides, this little bedroom concealed a mystery--a mystery which
would have excited the merriment of Fredersdorf and the wild
amazement of Eckhof. On the bed lay a vestment which seemed utterly
unsuited to the toilet of a young man; it was indeed a woman's
dress, a glistening white satin, such as young, fair brides wear on
their wedding-day. There, upon the table lay small white, satin
shoes, perfumed, embroidered pocket-handkerchiefs, ribbons, and
flowers. What did this signify? what meant this feminine boudoir,
next to the study of a young man? Was the beloved whom he wished to
adorn with this bridal attire concealed there? or, was this only a
costume in which he would play his first role as an actor?
Lupinus gazed upon all these costly things with a glad and happy
heart, and as he raised the satin robe and danced smilingly to the
great mirror, nothing of the grave, earnest, dignified scholar was
to be seen in his mien; suddenly he paused, and stood breathlessly
listening. It seemed to him some one knocked lightly on the outer
door, then again louder.
"That is Eckhof," whispered Lupinus. He left the mysterious little
room, hastily closed the door, and placed the key in his bosom, then
opened the outer door.
Yes, it was Eckhof. He entered with a beaming face, with a gay and
happy smile. Lupinus had never seen him so joyous. He clasped his
young friend so ardently in his arms, that he could scarcely
breathe; he pressed so glowing a kiss upon his cheek, that Lupinus
trembled, and was overcome by his own emotion.
"See, Lupinus, how much I love you!" said Eckhof. "I come first to
you, that you may sympathize with me in my great joy. Almost
oppressed by the sense of heavenly bliss, which seemed in starry
splendor to overshadow me, I thought, 'I must go to Lupinus; he
alone will understand me.' I am here to say to you, 'Rejoice with
me, for I am happy.' I ran like a madman through the streets. Oh!
friend, you have not seen my sorrow; I have concealed the anguish of
my soul. I loved you boundlessly, and I would not fill your young,
pure soul with sadness. But you dared look upon my rapture; you, my
most faithful, best-beloved friend, shall share my joy."
"Tell me, then, at once, what makes you happy?" said Lupinus, with
trembling lips, and with the pallor of death from excitement and
"And you ask, my innocent and modest child," said Eckhof, laughing.
"You do not yet know that love alone makes a man wretched or
infinitely happy. I was despairing because I did not know if I was
beloved, and this uncertainty made a madman of me."
"And now?" said Lupinus.
"And now I am supremely happy--she loves me; she has confessed it
this day. Oh! my friend, I almost tore this sweet, this heavenly
secret from her heart. I threatened her, I almost cursed her. I lay
at her feet, uttering wild words of rebuke and bitter reproach. I
was mad with passion; resolved to slay myself, if she did not then
and there disclose to me either her love or her contempt. I dared
all, to win all. She stood pallid and trembling before me, and, as I
railed at her, she extended her arms humbly and pleadingly toward
me. Oh! she was fair and beautiful as a pardoning angel, with these
glistening tears in her wondrous, dreamy eyes, fair and beautiful as
a houri of Paradise; when at last, carried away by her own heart,
she bowed down and confessed that she loved me; that she would be
mine--mine, in spite of her distinguished birth, in spite of all the
thousand obstacles which interposed. One wild day I exclaimed, 'Oh!
my God, my God! I am set apart to be an artiste; thou hast
consecrated me by misfortune.' To-day, I feel that only when I am
truly happy can I truly create. From this day alone will I truly be
an artiste. I have now received the heavenly consecration of
Eckhof looked down upon his young friend. When he gazed upon the
fair and ashy countenance, the glassy eyes staring without
expression in the distance, the blue lips convulsively pressed
together, he became suddenly silent.
"Lupinus, you are ill! you suffer!" he said, opening his arms and
trying to clasp his friend once more to his breast. But the touch of
his hand made Lupinus tremble, and awakened him from his trance. One
wild shriek rang from his bosom, a stream of tears gushed from his
eyes, and he sank almost insensible to the floor.
"My friend, my beloved friend!" cried Eckhof, "you suffer, and are
silent. What is it that overpowers you? What is this great grief?
Why do you weep? Let me share and alleviate your sorrow."
"No, no!" cried Lupinus, rising, "I do not suffer; I have no pain,
no cause of sorrow. Do not touch me; your lightest touch wounds! Go,
go! leave me alone!""
"You love me not, then?" said Eckhof. "You suffer, and will not
confide in me? you weep bitterly, and command me to leave you?"
"And he thinks that I do not love him," murmured Lupinus, with a
weary smile. "My God! whom, then, do I love?"
"If your friendship for me were true and genuine, you would trust
me," said Eckhof. "I have made you share in my happiness, and I
demand the holy right of sharing your grief."
Lupinus did not reply. Eckhof lifted him gently in his arms, and
laying him upon the sofa, took a seat near him.
He laid his arms around him, placed his head upon his bosom, and in
a soft, melodious voice, whispered words of comfort, encouragement,
and love. The young man trembled convulsively, and wept without
Suddenly he raised himself; the agony was over; his lips slightly
trembled, but he pressed them together; his eyes were full of tears,
but he shook his head proudly, and dashed them from him.
"It is past, all past! my dream has dispersed. I am awake once
"And now, Lupinus, you will tell me all?"
"No, not now, but to-morrow. To-morrow you shall know all.
Therefore, go, my friend, and leave me alone. Go to her you love,
gaze in her eyes, and see in them a starry heaven; then think of me,
whose star is quenched, who is bowed down under a heavy load of
affliction. Go! go! if you love me, go at once!"
"I love you, therefore I obey you, but my heart is heavy for you,
and my own happiness is clouded. But I go; to-morrow you will tell
"But when, when do we meet again?"
"To-morrow, at ten, we will see each other. At that time I am to
receive my diploma. I pray you, bring Fredersdorf with you."
"So be it; to-morrow, at ten, in the university. Till then,
They clasped hands, looked deep into each other's eyes, and took a
silent leave. Lupinus stood in the middle of the room and gazed
after Eckhof till he had reached the threshold, then rushed forward,
threw himself upon his neck, clasped him in his arms, and murmured,
in a voice choked with tears: "Farewell, farewell! Think of me,
Eckhof! think that no woman has ever loved you as I have loved you!
God bless you! God bless you, my beloved!"
One last glowing kiss, one last earnest look, and he pushed him
forward and closed the door; then with a wild cry sank upon the
How long he lay there, how long he wept, prayed, and despaired, he
knew not himself. The hours of anguish drag slowly and drearily; the
moments given to weeping seem to stretch out to eternity. Suddenly
he heard heavy steps upon the stairs; he recognized them, and knew
what they signified. The door opened, and two men entered: the first
with a proud, imposing form, with gray hair, and stern, strongly-
marked features; the other, a young man, pale and delicate, with a
mild and soft countenance.
The old man looked at Lupinus with a frowning brow and angry glance;
the other greeted him with a sweet smile, and his clear blue eye
rested upon him with an expression of undying love.
"My father!" said Lupinus, hastening forward to throw himself into
his arms; but he waved him back, and his look was darker, sterner.
"We have received your letter, and therefore are we here to-day. We
hope and believe it was written in fever or in madness. If we are
mistaken in this, you shall repeat to us what was written in that
letter, which I tore and trampled under my feet. Speak, then! we
came to listen."
"Not so," said the young man, "recover yourself first; consider your
words; reflect that they will decide the question of your own
happiness, of your father's, and of mine. Be firm and sure in your
determination. Let no thought of others, no secondary consideration
influence you. Think only of your own happiness, and endeavor to
build it upon a sure foundation."
Lupinus shook his head sadly. "I have no happiness, I expect none."
"What was written in that letter?" said the old Lupinus sternly.
"That I had been faithful to my oath, and betrayed the secret I
promised you to guard, to no one; that to-morrow I would receive my
diploma; that you had promised, when I had accomplished this I
should be free to choose my own future, and to confess my secret."
"Was that all the letter contained?"
"No--that I had resolved to choose a new career, resolved to leave
the old paths, to break away from the past, and begin a new life at
Eckhof's side." "My child at the side of a comedian!" cried the old
doctor contemptuously. "Yes, I remember that was written, but I
believed it not, and therefore have I come. Was your letter true?
Did you write the truth to Ervelman?"
Lupinus cast his eyes down, and gave his hand to his father. "No,"
said he, "it was not true; it was a fantasy of fever. It is past,
and I have recovered. To-morrow, after I receive my diploma, I will
accompany you home, and you, friend, will go with us."
The next day the students rushed in crowds to the university to
listen to the discourse of the learned and worthy Herr Lupinus. Not
only the students and the professors, but many other persons, were
assembled in the hall to honor the young man, of whom the professors
said that he was not only a model of scholarship, but of modesty and
virtue. Even actors were seen to grace the holy halls of science on
this occasion, and the students laughed with delight and cried
"Bravo!" as they recognized near Fredersdorf the noble and sharp
profile of Eckhof. They had often rushed madly to thee theatre; why
should he not sometimes honor the university?
But Eckhof was indifferent to the joyful greeting of the students;
he gazed steadily toward the door, through which his young friend
must enter the hall; and now, as the hour struck, he stooped over
Fredersdorf and seized his hand.
"Friend," said he, "a wondrous anxiety oppresses me. It seems to me
I am in the presence of a sphinx, who is in the act of solving a
great mystery! I am a coward, and would take refuge in flight, but
curiosity binds me to my seat."
"You promised poor Lupinus to be here," said Fredersdorf, earnestly.
"It is, perhaps, the last friendly service you can ever show him--
Ah! there he is."
A cry of surprise burst from the lips of all. There, in the open
door, stood, not the student Lupinus, but a young maiden, in a white
satin robe-a young maiden with the pale, thoughtful, gentle face of
Lupinus. A man stood on each side of her, and she leaned upon the
arm of one of them, as if for support, as they walked slowly through
the room. Her large eyes wandered questioningly and anxiously over
the audience; and now, her glance met Eckhof's, and a deadly pallor
covered her face. She tried to smile, and bowed her head in
"This is the secret from which I wished to fly," murmured Eckhof. "I
guessed it yesterday."
"I knew it long since," said Fredersdorf, sadly; "it was my most
beautiful and cherished dream that your hearts should find and love
each other. Have I not often told you that Lupinus was not your
friend, but your bride; that no woman would ever love you as he did?
You would not understand me. Your heart was of stone, and her
happiness has been crushed by it."
"Poor, unhappy girl!" sighed Eckhof, and tears ran slowly down his
cheeks. "I have acted the part of a barbarian toward you! Yesterday
with smiling lips I pressed a dagger in her heart; she did not
curse, but blessed me!"
"Listen! she speaks!"
It was the maiden's father who spoke. In simple phrase he asked
forgiveness of the Faculty, for having dared to send them a
daughter, in place of a son. But it had been his cherished wish to
prove that only the arrogance and prejudice of men had banished
women from the universities. Heaven had denied him a son. He had
soon discovered that his daughter was rarely endowed; he determined
to educate her as a son, and thus repair the loss fate had prepared
for him. His daughter entered readily into his plans, and solemnly
swore to guard her secret until she had completed her studies. She
had fulfilled this promise, and now stood here to ask the Faculty if
they would grant a woman a diploma.
The professors spoke awhile with each other, and then announced to
the audience that Lupinus had been the most industrious and
promising of all their students; the pride and favorite of all the
professors. The announcement that she was a woman would make no
change in her merit or their intentions; that the maiden LUPINA
would be received by them with as much joy and satisfaction as the
youth LUPINUS would have been. The disputation might now begin.
A murmur of applause was heard from the benches, and now the clear,
soft, but slightly trembling voice of the young girl commenced to
read. How strangely did the heavy, pompous Latin words contrast with
the slight, fairy form of the youthful girl! She stood adorned like
a bride, in satin array; not like a bride of earth, inspired by
love, but a bride of heaven, in the act of laying down before God's
altar all her earthly hopes and passions! She felt thus. She
dedicated herself to a joyless and unselfish existence at the altar
of science; she would not lead an idle, useless, musing, cloister-
life. With a holy oath she swore to serve her race; to soothe the
pain of those who suffered; to stand by the sick-beds of women and
children; to give that love to suffering, weeping humanity which she
had once consecrated to one alone, and which had come home, like a
bleeding dove, with broken wings, powerless and hopeless!
The disputation was at an end. The deacon declared the maiden,
Dorothea Christine Lupinus, a doctor. The students uttered wild
applause, and the professors drew near the old Lupinus, to
congratulate him, and to renew the acquaintance of former days.
The fair young Bride of Arts thought not of this. She looked toward
Eckhof; their glances were rooted in each other firmly but
tearlessly. She waved to him with her hand, and obedient to her wish
he advanced to the door, then turned once more; their eyes met, and
she had the courage to look softly upon the friend of her youth,
Ervelman, who had accompanied her father, and say:
"I will fulfil my father's vow--I will be a faithful wife. Look,
you, Ervelman, the star has gone out which blinded my eyes, and now
I see again clearly." She pointed, with a trembling hand, to Eckhof,
who was disappearing.
"Friend," said Eckhof, to Fredersdorf, "if the gods truly demand a
great sacrifice as a propitiation, I think I have offered one this
day. I have cast my Polycrates' ring into the sea, and a part of my
heart's blood was cleaving to it. May fate be reconciled, and grant
me the happiness this pale and lovely maiden has consecrated with
her tears. Farewell, Christine, farewell! Our paths in life are
widely separated. Who knows, perhaps we will meet again in heaven?
You belong to the saints, and I am a poor comedian, who makes a
false show throughout a wild, tumultuous life, with some pompous
shreds and tatters of art and beauty, to whom, perhaps, the angels
in heaven will deny a place, even as the priests on earth deny him a
grave." [Footnote: Eckhof lived to awake respect and love for the
national theatre throughout all Germany. He had his own theatre in
Gotha, where he was born, and where he died in 1778. He performed
the double service of exalting the German stage, and obtaining for
the actors consideration and respect.]
TRENCK'S FIRST FLIGHT.
"This is, then, the day of his liberation?" said Princess Amelia to
her confidante, Mademoiselle von Haak. "To-day, after five months of
torture, he will again be free, will again enjoy life and liberty.
And to me, happy princess, will he owe all these blessings; to me,
whom God has permitted to survive all these torments, that I might
be the means of effecting his deliverance, for, without doubt, our
work will succeed, will it not?"
"Undoubtedly," said Ernestine von Haak; "we shall and must succeed."
"Let us reconsider the whole plan, if only to enliven the tedious
hours with pleasant thought. When the commandant of the prison,
Major von Doo, pays the customary Sunday-morning visit to Trenck's
cell, and while he is carefully examining every nook to assure
himself that the captive nobleman has not been endeavoring to make a
pathway to liberty, Trenck will suddenly overpower him, deprive him
of his sword, and rush past him out of the cell. At the door he will
be met by the soldier Nicolai, who is in our confidence, and will
not seem to notice his escape. Once over the palisades, he will find
a horse, which we have placed in readiness. Concealed by the
military cloak thrown over him, and armed with the pistols with
which his saddle-holsters have been furnished, he will fly on the
wings of the wind toward Bohemia. Near the border, at the village of
Lonnschutz, a second horse will await him. He will mount and hurry
on until the boundary and liberty are obtained. All seems so safe,
Ernestine, so easy of execution, that I can scarcely believe in the
possibility of a failure."
"It will not fail," said Ernestine von Haak. "Our scheme is good,
and will be ably assisted--it must succeed."
"Provided he find the places where the horses stand concealed."
"These he cannot fail to find. They are accurately designated in a
little note which my lover, when he has charge of the prison-yard,
will contrive to convey to him. Schnell's known fidelity vouches for
the horses being in readiness. As your royal highness was not
willing that we should enlist accomplices among the soldiers, the
only question that need give us uneasiness is this: Will Trenck be
able to overcome unaided all obstacles within the fortifications?"
"No," said Amelia, proudly; "Trenck shall be liberated, but I will
not corrupt my brother's soldiers. To do the first, is my right and
my duty, for I love Trenck. Should I do the second, I would be
guilty of high treason to my king, and this even love could not
excuse. Only to himself and to me shall Trenck owe his freedom. Our
only allies shall be my means and his own strength. He has the
courage of a hero and the strength of a giant. He will force his way
through his enemies like Briareus; they will fall before him like
grain before the reaper. If he cannot kill them all with his sword,
he will annihilate them with the lightning of his glances, for a
heavenly power dwells in his eyes. Moreover, your lover writes that
he is beloved by the officers of the garrison, that all the soldiers
sympathize with him. It is well that it is not necessary to bribe
them with miserable dross; Trenck has already bribed them with his
youth and manly beauty, his misfortunes and his amiability. He will
find no opposition; no one will dispute his passage to liberty."
"God grant that it may be as your highness predicts!" said
Ernestine, with a sigh.
"Four days of uncertainty are still before us--would that they had
passed!" exclaimed Princess Amelia. "I have no doubts of his safety,
but I fear I shall not survive these four days of anxiety.
Impatience will destroy me. I had the courage to endure misery, but
I feel already that the expectation of happiness tortures me. God
grant, at least, that his freedom is secured!"
"Never speak of dying with the rosy cheeks and sparkling eyes your
highness has to-day," said Mademoiselle von Haak, with a smile.
"Your increasing pallor, caused no doubt by your grief, has given me
much pain. I am no longer uneasy, however, for you have recovered
health and strength, now that you are again hopeful. As for the four
days of expectancy, we will kill them with merry laughter, gayety,
and dancing. Does not the queen give a ball to-day? is there not a
masquerade at the opera to-morrow? For the last five months your
highness has taken part in these festivities because you were
compelled; you will now do so of your own accord. You will no longer
dance because the king commands, but because you are young, happy,
and full of hope for the future. On the first and second day you
will dance and fatigue yourself so much, that you will have the
happiness of sleeping a great deal on the third. The fourth day will
dawn upon your weary eyes, and whisper in your ear that Trenck is
free, and that it is you who have given him his freedom."
"Yes, let us be gay, let us laugh, dance, and be merry," exclaimed
Princess Amelia. "My brother shall be satisfied with me; he need no
longer regard me in so gloomy and threatening a manner; I will laugh
and jest, I will adorn myself, and surpass all the ladies with the
magnificence of my attire and my sparkling eyes. Come, Ernestine,
come. We will arrange my toilet for this evening. It shall be
magnificent. I will wear flowers in my hair and flowers on my
breast, but no pearls. Pearls signify tears, and I will weep no
Joyously she danced through the room, drawing her friend to the
boudoir; joyously she passed the three following days of
expectation; joyously she closed her eyes on the evening of the
third day, to see, in her dreams, her lover kneeling at her feet,
thanking her for his liberty, and vowing eternal fidelity and
Amelia greeted the fourth day with a happy smile, never doubting but
that it would bring her glad tidings. But hours passed away, and
still Mademoiselle von Haak did not appear. Amelia had said to her:
"I do not wish to see you to-morrow until you can bring me good
news. This will, however, be in your power at an early hour, and you
shall flutter into my chamber with these tidings, like the dove with
Mademoiselle von Haak has still not yet arrived. But now the door
opens--she is there, but her face is pale, her eyes tearful; and
this pale lady in black, whose noble and beautiful features recall
to Amelia such charming and delightful remembrances--who is she?
What brings her here? Why does she hurry forward to the princess
with streaming eyes? Why does she kneel, raise her hands
imploringly, and whisper, "Mercy, Princess Amelia, mercy!"
Amelia rises from her seat, pale and trembling, gazes with widely
extended eyes at the kneeling figure, and, almost speechless with
terror, asks in low tones, "Who are you, madame? What do you desire
The pale woman at her feet cries in heart-rending accents, "I am the
mother of the unfortunate Frederick von Trenck, and I come to
implore mercy at the hands of your royal highness. My son attempted
to escape, but God did not favor his undertaking. He was overtaken
by misfortune, after having overcome almost all obstacles, when
nothing but the palisades separated him from liberty and safety; he
was attacked by his pursuers, disarmed, and carried back to prison,
wounded and bleeding." [Footnote: Trenck's Biography, i., 80.]
Amelia uttered a cry of horror, and fell back on her seat pale and
breathless, almost senseless. Mademoiselle von Haak took her gently
in her arms, and, amid her tears, whispered words of consolation, of
sympathy, and of hope. But Amelia scarcely heeded her; she looked
down vacantly upon the pallid, weeping woman who still knelt at her
"Have mercy, princess, have mercy! You alone can assist me;
therefore have I come to you; therefore have I entreated
Mademoiselle von Haak with tears until she could no longer refuse to
conduct me to your presence. Regardless, at last, of etiquette and
ceremony, she permitted me to fall at your feet, and to cry to you
for help. You are an angel of goodness and mercy; pity an
unfortunate mother, who wishes to save her son!"
"And you believe that I can do this?" said Amelia, breathlessly.
"You alone, royal highness, have the power to save my son's life!"
"Tell me by what means, countess, and I will save him, if it costs
my heart's blood."
"Conduct me to the king. That is all that I require of you. He has
not yet been informed of my son's unfortunate attempt. I must be the
first to bring him this intelligence. I will confess that it was I
who assisted my son in this attempt, who bribed the non-commissioned
officer, Nicolai, with flattery and tears, with gold and promises;
that it was I who placed the horses and loaded pistols in readiness
beyond the outer palisade; that I sent my son the thousand ducats
which were found on his person; that I wrote him the letter
containing vows of eternal love and fidelity. The king will pardon a
mother who, in endeavoring to liberate her son, left no means of
"You are a noble, a generous woman!" exclaimed the princess, with
enthusiasm. "You are worthy to be Trenck's mother! You say that I
must save him, and you have come to save me! But I will not accept
this sacrifice; I will not be cowardly and timidly silent, when you
have the courage to speak. Let the king know all; let him know that
Trenck was not the son, but the lover of her who endeavored to give
him his freedom, and that--"
"If you would save him, be silent! The king can be merciful when it
was the mother who attempted to liberate the son; he will be
inexorable if another has made this mad attempt; and, above all, if
he cannot punish the transgressor, my son's punishment will be
"Listen to her words, princess, adopt her counsel," whispered the
weeping Ernestine. "Preserve yourself for the unfortunate Trenck;
protect his friends by your silence, and we may still hope to form a
better and happier plan of escape."
"Be it so," said the princess with a sigh. "I will bring him this
additional sacrifice. I will be silent. God knows that I would
willingly lay down my life for him. I would find this easier than to
veil my love in cowardly silence. Come, I will conduct you to the
"But I have not yet told your royal highness that the king is in his
library, and has ordered that no one should be admitted to his
"I will be admitted. I will conduct you through the private corridor
and the king's apartments, and not by the way of the grand
She seized the countess's hand and led her away.
The king was alone in his library, sitting at a table covered with
books and papers, busily engaged in writing. From time to time he
paused, and thoughtfully regarded what he had written. "I have
commenced a new work, which it is to be hoped will be as great a
success in the field of science as several that I have achieved with
the sword on another field. I know my wish and my aim; I have
undertaken a truly noble task. I will write the history of my times,
not in the form of memoirs, nor as a commentary, but as a free,
independent, and impartial history. I will describe the decline of
Europe, and will endeavor to portray the follies and weaknesses of
her rulers. [Footnote: The king's own words. "OEuvres posthumes:
Correspondance avec Voltaire."] My respected colleagues, the kings
and princes, have provided me with rich materials for a ludicrous
picture. To do this work justice, the pencil of a Hollenbreughel and
the pen of a Thucydides were desirable. Ah! glory is so piquant a
dish, that the more we indulge, the more we thirst after its
enjoyment. Why am I not satisfied with being called a good general?
why do I long for the honor of being crowned in the capitol? Well,
it certainly will not be his holiness the pope who crowns me or
elevates me to the rank of a saint--truly, I am not envious of such
titles. I shall be contented if posterity shall call me a good
prince, a brave soldier, and a good lawgiver, and forgives me for
having sometimes mounted the Pegasus instead of the war horse."
With a merry smile, the king now resumed his writing. The door which
communicated with his apartments was opened softly, and Princess
Amelia, her countenance pale and sorrowful, looked searchingly into
the room. Seeing that the king was still writing, she knocked
gently. The king turned hastily and angrily.
"Did I not say that I desired to be alone?" said he, indignantly.
Perceiving his sister, he now arose, an expression of anxiety
pervading his countenance. "Ah, my sister! your sad face proclaims
you the bearer of bad news," said he; "and very important it must
have been to bring you unannounced to my presence."
"My brother, misfortune has always the privilege of coming
unannounced to the presence of princes, to implore pity and mercy at
their hands. I claim this holy privilege for the unfortunate lady
who has prayed for my intercession in her behalf. Sire, will you
graciously accord her an audience?"
"Who is she?" asked the king, discontentedly,
"Sire, it is the Countess Lostange," said Amelia, in a scarcely
"The mother of the rebellious Lieutenant von Trenck!" exclaimed the
king, in an almost threatening tone, his eyes flashing angrily.
"Yes, it is the mother of the unfortunate Von Trenck who implores
mercy of your majesty!" exclaimed the countess, falling on her knees
at the threshold of the door.
The king recoiled a step, and his eye grew darker. "Really, you
obtain your audiences in a daring manner--you conquer them, and make
the princess your herald."
"Sire, I was refused admission. In the anguish of my heart, I turned
to the princess, who was generous enough to incur the displeasure of
her royal brother for my sake."
"And was that which you had to say really so urgent?"
"Sire, for five months has my son been languishing in prison, and
you ask if there is an urgent necessity for his mother's appeal. My
son has incurred your majesty's displeasure; why, I know not. He is
a prisoner, and stands accused of I know not what. Be merciful--let
me know his crime, that I may endeavor to atone for it."
"Madame, a mother is not responsible for her son; a woman cannot
atone for a man's crimes. Leave your son to his destiny; it may be a
brighter one at some future day, if he is wise and prudent, and
heeds the warning which is now knocking at his benighted heart." At
these words, the king's glance rested for a moment on the
countenance of the princess, as if this warning had also been
intended for her.
"It is, then, your majesty's intention to cheer a mother's heart
with hope? My son will not be long a captive. You will pardon him
for this crime of which I have no knowledge, and which you do not
feel inclined to mention."
"Shall I make it known to you, madame?" said the king, with
severity. "He carried on an imprudent and treasonable
correspondence, and if tried by court-martial, would be found guilty
of high treason. But, in consideration of his youth, and several
extenuating circumstances with which I alone am acquainted, I will
be lenient with him. Be satisfied with this assurance: in a year
your son will be free; and when solitude has brought him to
reflection, and the consciousness of his crime, when he is more
humble and wiser, I will again be a gracious king to him. [Footnote:
Trenck's Memoirs, i., 82.] Write this to your son, madame, and
receive my best wishes for yourself."
"Oh, sire, you do not yet know all. I have another confession to
A light knock at the door communicating with the antechamber
interrupted her, and a voice from the outside exclaimed: "Sire, a
courier with important dispatches from Silesia."
"Retire to the adjoining apartment, and wait there," said the king,
turning to his sister.
Both ladies left the room.
"Dispatches from Silesia," whispered the countess. "The king will
now learn all, I fear."
"Well, if he does," said the princess, almost defiantly, "we are
here to save him, and we will save him."
A short time elapsed; then the door was violently thrown open, and
the king appeared on the threshold, his eyes flashing with anger.
"Madame," said he, pointing to the papers which he held in his hand,
"from these papers I have undoubtedly learned what it was your
intention to have communicated to me. Your son has attempted to
escape from prison like a cowardly criminal, a malefactor weighed
down with guilt. In this attempt he has killed and wounded soldiers,
disarmed the governor of the fortress, and, in his insolent frenzy,
has endeavored to scale the palisades in broad daylight. Madame,
nothing but the consciousness of his own guilt could have induced
him to attempt so daring a flight, and he must have had criminal
accomplices who advised him to this step--accomplices who bribed the
sentinel on duty before his door; who secretly conveyed money to
him, and held horses in readiness for his flight. Woe to them if I
should ever discover the criminals who treasonably induced my
soldiers and officers to break their oath of fidelity!"
"I, your majesty, I was this criminal," said the countess. "A mother
may well dare to achieve the freedom of her son at any price. It is
her privilege to defend him with any weapon. I bribed the soldiers,
placed the horses in readiness, and conveyed money to my son. It was
Trenck's mother who endeavored to liberate him."
"And you have only brought him to greater, to more hopeless misery!
For now, madame, there can be no mercy. The fugitive, the deserter,
has forfeited the favor of his king. Shame, misery, and perpetual
captivity will henceforth be his portion. This is my determination.
Hope for no mercy. The articles of war condemn the deserter to
death. I will give him his life, but freedom I cannot give him, for
I now know that he would abuse it. Farewell."
"Mercy! mercy for my son!" sobbed the countess. "He is so young! he
has a long life before him."
"A life of remorse and repentance," said the king with severity. "I
will accord him no other. Go!"
He was on the point of reentering the library. A hand was laid on
his shoulder; he turned and saw the pale countenance of his sister.
"My brother," said the princess, in a firm voice, "permit me to
speak with you alone for a moment. Proceed, I will follow you."
Her bearing was proud, almost dictatorial. Her sternly tranquil
manner, her clear and earnest brow, showed plainly that she had
formed an heroic determination. She was no longer the young girl,
timidly praying for her lover; she was the fearless woman,
determined to defend him, or die for him. The king read this in her
countenance, it was plainly indicated in her royal bearing; and with
the reverence and consideration which great spirits ever accord to
misfortune, he did homage to this woman toward whom he was so
strongly drawn by sympathy and pity.
"Come, my sister, come," said he, offering his hand.
Amelia did not take his hand; by his side she walked into the
library, and softly locked the door behind her. One moment she
rested against the wall, as if to gather strength. The king hastily
crossed the room, and looked out at the window. Hearing the rustle
of her dress behind him, he turned and advanced toward the princess.
She regarded him fixedly with cold and tearless eyes.
"Is it sufficient if I promise never to see him again?" said she.
"The promise is superfluous, for I will make a future meeting
She inclined her head slightly, as if this answer had been expected.
"Is it enough if I swear never to write to him again, nevermore to
give him a token of my love?"
"I would not believe this oath. If I set him at liberty he would
compromise you and your family, by boasting of a love which yielded
to circumstances and necessity only, and not to reason and
indifference. I will make you no reproaches at present, for I think
your conscience is doing that for me. But this much I will say: I
will not set him at liberty until he no longer believes in your
"Will you liberate him if I rob him of this belief? If I hurl the
broken bond of my promised faith in his face? If I tell him that
fear and cowardice have extinguished my love, and that I bid him
"Write him this, and I promise you that he shall be free in a few
months; but, understand me well, free to go where he will, but
banished from my kingdom."
"Shall I write at once?" said she with an expression of utter
indifference, and with icy tranquillity.
"Write; you will find all that is necessary on my escritoire."
She walked composedly to the table and seated herself. When she
commenced writing, a deathly pallor came over her face; her breath
came and went hurriedly and painfully. The king stood near,
regarding her with an expression of deep solicitude.
"Have you finished?" said he, as she pushed the paper aside on which
she had been writing.
"No," said she calmly, "it was only a tear that had fallen on the
paper. I must begin again." And with perfect composure she took
another sheet of paper, and began writing anew.
The king turned away with a sigh. He felt that if he longer regarded
this pale, resigned face, he would lose sight of reason and duty,
and restore to her her lover. He again advanced to the window, and
looked thoughtfully out at the sky. "Is it possible? can it be?" he
asked himself. "May I forget my duties as head of my family, and
only remember that she is my sister, and that she is suffering and
weeping? Must we then all pay for this empty grandeur, this frippery
of earthly magnificence, with our heart's blood and our best hopes?
And if I now deprive her of her dreams of happiness, what
compensation can I offer? With what can I replace her hopes, her
love, the happiness of her youth? At the best, with a little earthly
splendor, with the purple and the crown, and eventually, perhaps,
with my love. Yes, I will love her truly and cordially; she shall
forgive the brother for the king's harshness; she shall--"
"I have finished," said the sad voice of his sister.
The king turned from the window; Amelia stood at the escritoire,
holding the paper on which she had been writing in one hand, and
sustaining herself by the table with the other.
"Read what you have written," said the king, approaching her.
The princess bowed her head and read:
"I pity you, but your misfortune is irremediable; and I cannot and
will not attempt to alleviate it, for fear of compromising myself.
This is, therefore, my last letter--I can risk nothing more for you.
Do not attempt to write to me, for I should return your letter
unopened. Our separation must be forever, but I will always remain
your friend; and if I can ever serve you hereafter, I will do so
gladly. Farewell, unhappy friend, you deserve a better fate."
[Footnote: Trenck's Memoirs, i., 86.]
"That is all?" said the king, as his sister ceased reading.
"That is all, sire."
"And you imagine that he will no longer believe in your love, when
he receives this letter?" said the king, with a sad smile.
"I am sure he will not, for I tell him in this letter that I will
risk nothing more for him; that I will not even attempt to alleviate
his misery. Only when one is cowardly enough to sacrifice love to
selfish fears, could one do this. I shall have purchased his liberty
with his contempt."
"What would you have written if you had been permitted to follow the
promptings of your heart?"
A rosy hue flitted over her countenance, and love beamed in her
eyes. "I would have written, 'Believe in me, trust in me! For
henceforth the one aim of my life will be to liberate you. Let me
die when I have attained this aim, but die in the consciousness of
having saved you, and of having been true to my love.'"
"You would have written that?"
"I would have written that," said she, proudly and joyfully. "And
the truth of that letter he would not have doubted."
"Oh, woman's heart! inexhaustible source of love and devotion!"
murmured the king, turning away to conceal his emotion from his
"Is this letter sufficient?" demanded the princess. "Shall Trenck be
"I have promised it, and will keep my word. Fold the letter and
direct it. It shall be forwarded at once."
"And when will he be free?"
"I cannot set him at liberty immediately. It would be setting my
officers a bad example. But in three months he shall be free."
"In three months, then. Here is the letter, sire."
The king took the letter and placed it in his bosom.
"And now, my sister, come to my heart," said he, holding out his
arms. "The king was angry with you, the brother will weep with you.
Come, Amelia, come to your brother's heart."
Amelia did not throw herself in his arms; she stood still, and
seemed not to have heard, not to have understood his words.
"I pray that your majesty will allow me to retire," said she. "I
think we have finished--we have to other business to transact."
"Oh! my sister," said Frederick, mournfully, "think of what you are
doing; do not harden your heart against me. Believe me, I suffer
with you; and if the only question were the sacrifice of my personal
wishes, I would gladly yield. But I must consider my ancestors, the
history of my house, and the prejudices of the world. Amelia, I
cannot, I dare not do otherwise. Forgive me, my sister. And now,
once more, let us hold firmly to each other in love and trust. Let
me fold you to my heart."
He advanced and extended his hand, but his sister slowly recoiled.
"Allow me to remind your majesty that a poor unhappy woman is
awaiting a word of consolation in the next room, and that this woman
is Trenck's mother. She, at least, will be happy when I inform her
that her son will soon be free. Permit me, therefore, sire, to take
my leave, and bear her this good news."
She bowed formally and profoundly, and walked slowly across the
room. The king no longer endeavored to hold her back. He followed
her with a mournful, questioning glance, still hoping that she would
turn and seek a reconciliation. She reached the door, now she
turned. The king stepped forward rapidly, hut Princess Amelia bowed
ceremoniously and disappeared.
"Lost! I have lost her," sighed the king. "Oh, my God! must I then
part from all that I love? Was it not enough to lose my friends by
death? will cruel fate also rob me of a loved and living sister? Ah!
I am a poor, a wretched man, and yet they call me a king."
Frederick slowly seated himself, and covered his face with his
hands. He remained in this position for a long time, his sighs being
the only interruption to the silence which reigned in the apartment.
"Work! I will work," said he proudly. "This is at least a
consolation, and teaches forgetfulness."
He walked hurriedly to his escritoire, seated himself, and regarded
the manuscripts and papers which lay before him. He took up one of
the manuscripts and began to read, but with an impatient gesture he
soon laid it aside.
"The letters swim before my eyes in inextricable confusion. My God,
how hard it is to do one's duty!"
He rested his head on his hand, and was lost in thought for a long
time. Gradually his expression brightened, and a wondrous light
beamed in his eyes.
"Yes," said he, with a smile, "yes, so it shall be. I have just lost
a much-loved sister. Well, it is customary to erect a monument in
memory of those we love. Poor, lost sister, I will erect a monument
to your memory. The king has been compelled to make his sister
unhappy, and for this he will endeavor to make his people happy. And
if there is no law to which a princess can appeal against the king,
there shall at least be laws for all my subjects, which protect
them, and are in strict accordance with reason, with justice, and
the godly principle of equality. Yes, I will give my people a new
code of laws. [Footnote: Rodenbeck, Diary, p. 137.] This, Amelia,
shall be the monument which I will erect to you in my heart. In this
very hour I will write to Cocceji, and request him to sketch the
outlines of this new code of laws."
The king seized his pen and commenced writing. "The judges," said
he, hastily penning his words, "the judges must administer equal and
impartial justice to all without respect to rank or wealth, as they
expect to answer for the same before the righteous judgment-seat of
God, and in order that the sighs of the widows and orphans, and of
all that are oppressed, may not be visited upon themselves and their
children. No rescripts, although issued from this cabinet, shall be
deemed worthy of the slightest consideration, if they contain aught
manifestly incompatible with equity, or if the strict course of
justice is thereby hindered or interrupted; but the judges shall
proceed according to the dictates of duty and conscience."
The king continued writing, his countenance becoming more and more
radiant with pleasure, while his pen flew over the paper. He was so
completely occupied with his thoughts that he did not hear the door
open behind him, and did not perceive the merry and intelligent face
of his favorite, General Rothenberg, looking in.
The king wrote on. Rothenberg stooped and placed something which he
held in his arms on the floor. He looked over toward the king, and
then at the graceful little greyhound which stood quietly before
him. This was no other than the favorite dog of the king, which had
been lost and a captive. [Footnote: The greyhound had fallen into
the hands of the Austrians at the battle of Sohr, and had been
presented by General Nadasti to his wife as a trophy. When this lady
learned that Biche had been a pet of the king, she at first refused
to give it up: and only after several demands, and with much
difficulty, could she be induced to return it. Rodenbeck, Diary, p.
The little Biche stood still for a moment, looking around
intelligently, and then ran lightly across the apartment, sprang
upon the table and laid its forepaw on the king's neck.
"Biche, my faithful little friend, is it you?" said Frederick,
throwing his pen aside and taking the little animal in his arms.
Biche began to bark with delight, nestle closely to her master, and
look lovingly at him with her bright little eyes. And the king--he
inclined his face on the head of his faithful little friend, and
tears ran slowly down his cheeks. [Footnote: Muchler, "Frederick the
Great," p. 350. Rodenbeck, Diary, p. 137.]
"You have not forgotten me, my little Biche? Ah, if men were true,
and loved me as you do, my faithful little dog, I should be a rich,
a happy king!"
General Rothenberg still stood at the half-opened door. "Sire, said
he, "is it only Biche who has the grandes and petites entrees, or
have I also?"
"Ah, it was then you who brought Biche?" said Frederick, beckoning
to the general to approach.
"Yes, sire, it was I, but I almost regret having done so, for I
perceive that Biche is a dangerous rival, and I am jealous of her."
"You are my best gentleman-friend, and Biche is my best lady-
friend," said the king, laughing. "I shall never forget that Biche
on one occasion might have discovered me to the Austrians, and did
not betray me, as thousands of men would have done in her place. Had
she barked at the time when I had concealed myself under the bridge,
while the regiment of pandours was passing over, I should have been
lost. But she conquered herself. From love to me she renounced her
instincts, and was silent. She nestled close to my side, regarding
me with her discreet little eyes, and licking my hand lovingly. Ah,
my friend, dogs are better and truer than mankind, and the so-called
images of God could learn a great deal from them!"
Two months had passed since Trenck's last attempted escape; two
months of anguish, of despair. But he was not depressed, not
hopeless; he had one great aim before his eyes--to be free, to
escape from this prison. The commandant had just assured him he
would never leave it alive.
This frightful picture of a life-long imprisonment did not terrify
him, did not agitate a nerve or relax a muscle. He felt his blood
bounding in fiery streams through his veins. With a merry laugh and
sparkling eye he declared that no man could be imprisoned during his
whole life who felt himself strong enough to achieve his freedom.
"I have strength and endurance like Atlas. I can bear the world on
my shoulders, and shall I never be able to burst these doors and
gates, to surmount these miserable fortress walls which separate me
from liberty, the world of action, the golden sunshine? No, no,
before the close of this year I shall be free. Yes, free! free to
fly to her and give her back this letter, and ask her if she did
truly write it? if these cold words came from her heart? No, some
one has dared to imitate her writing, and thus deprive me of the
only ray of sunshine which enters my dark prison. I must be free in
order to know this. I will believe in nothing which I do not see
written in her beautiful face; only when her lips speak these
fearful words, will I believe them. I must be free, and until then I
must forget all other things, even this terrible letter. My
thoughts, my eyes, my heart, my soul, must have but one aim--my
Alas! the year drew near its close, and the goal was not reached;
indeed, the difficulties were greatly increased. The commandant, Von
Fouquet, had just received stern orders from Berlin; the watch had
been doubled, and the officers in the citadel had been peremptorily
forbidden to enter the cell of the prisoner, or in any way to show
him kindness or attention.
The officers loved the young and cheerful prisoner; by his fresh and
hopeful spirit, his gay laugh and merry jest, he had broken up the
everlasting monotony of their garrison-life; by his powerful
intellect and rich fancy he had, in some degree, dissipated their
weariness and stupidity. They felt pity for his youth, his beauty,
his geniality, his energetic self-confidence; his bold courage
imposed upon them, and they were watching curiously and anxiously to
see the finale of this contest between the poor, powerless,
imprisoned youth, and the haughty, stern commander, who had sworn to
Trenck that he should not succeed in making even an attempt to
escape, to which Trenck had laughingly replied:
"I will not only make an attempt to escape, I will fly in defiance
of all guards, and all fortress walls, and all commandants. I inhale
already the breath of liberty which is wafted through my prison. Do
you not see how the Goddess of Liberty, with her enchanting smile,
stands at the head of my wretched bed, sings her sweet evening songs
to the poor prisoner, and wakes him in the early morning with the
sound of trumpets? Oh, sir commandant, Liberty loves me, and soon
will she take me like a bride in her fair arms, and bear me off to
The commandant had doubled the guard, and forbidden the officers,
under heavy penalty, to have any intercourse with Trenck. Formerly,
the officers who had kept watch over Trenck, had been allowed to
enter, to remain and eat with him; now the door was closed against
them, the major kept the key, and Trenck's food was handed him
through the window. [Footnote: Trenck's Memoirs.] But this window
was large, and the officer on guard could put his head in and chat
awhile with the prisoner. The major had the principal key, but the
officer had a night-key, and, by this means, entered often in the
evenings and passed a few hours with the prisoner, listening with
astonishment to his plans of escape, and his dreams of a happy
But they did not all come to speak of indifferent things, and to be
cheered and brightened by his gay humor. There were some who truly
loved him, and wished to give him counsel and aid. One came because
he had promised his beloved mistress, his bride, to liberate Trenck,
cost what it would. This was Lieutenant Schnell, the bridegroom of
Amelia's maid of honor. One day, thanks to the night-key, he entered
"I will stand by you, and assist you to escape. More than that, I
will fly with you. The commandant, Fouquet, hates me--he says I know
too much for an officer; that I do not confine myself to my military
duties, but love books, and art, and science. He has often railed at
me, and I have twice demanded my dismissal, which he refused, and
threatened me with arrest if I should again demand it. Like
yourself, I am not free, and, like you, I wish to fly from bondage.
And now let us consult together, and arrange our plan of escape."
"Yes," said Trenck, with a glowing countenance, and embracing his
new-found friend, "we will be unconquerable. Like Briareus, we will
have a hundred arms and a hundred heads. When two young and powerful
men unite their wills, nothing can restrain them--nothing withstand
them. Let us make our arrangements."
The plan of escape was marked out, and was, indeed, ripe for action.
On the last day of the year, Lieutenant Schnell was to be Trenck's
night-guard, and then they would escape. The dark shadows of night
would assist them. Horses were already engaged. There was gold to
bribe the guard, and there were loaded pistols for those who could
not be tempted. These had been already smuggled into Trenck's cell,
and concealed in the ashes of the fireplace.
And now it was Christmas eve. This was a grand festal day even for
all the officers of the citadel. With the exception of the night-
watch, they were all invited to dine with the commandant. A day of
joy and rejoicing to all but the poor prisoner, who sat solitary in
his cell, and recalled, with a sad heart, the happy days of his
childhood. "The holy evening" had been to him a golden book of
promise, and a munificent cornucopia of happiness and peace.
The door of his cell was hastily opened, and Schnell rushed in.
"Comrade, we are betrayed!" said he breathlessly. "Our plan of
flight has been discovered. The adjutant of the commander has just
secretly informed me that when the guard is changed I am to be
arrested. You see, then, we are lost, unless we adopt some rash and
"We will fly before the hour of your arrest," said Trenck, gayly.
"If you think that possible, so be it!" said Schnell. He drew a
sword from under his mantle, and handed it to Trenck. "Swear to me
upon this sword, that come what may, you will never allow me to fall
alive into the hands of my enemies."
"I swear it, so truly as God will help me! And now, Schnell, take
the same oath."
"I swear it! And now friend, one last grasp of the hand, and then
forward. May God be with us! Hide your sword under your coat. Let us
assume an indifferent and careless expression--come!"
Arm in arm, the two young men left the prison door. They appeared
calm and cheerful; each one kept a hand in his bosom, and this hand
held a loaded pistol.
The guard saluted the officer of the night-watch, who passed by him
in full uniform. In passing, he said: "I am conducting the prisoner
to the officers' room. Remain here--I will return quickly."
Slowly, quietly, they passed down the whole length of the corridor;
they reached the officer's room, and opened the door. The guard
walked with measured step slowly before the open door of Trenck's
cell, suspecting nothing. The door closed behind the fugitives--the
first step toward liberty was taken.
"And now, quickly onward to the side door. When we have passed the
sentry-box, we will be at the outer works. We must spring over the
palisades, and woe to the obstacle that lies in our path!--advance!
They reached the wall, they greeted fair Freedom with golden smiles,
but turning a corner, they stood suddenly before the major and his
A cry of horror burst from Schnell's lips. With one bold leap, he
sprang upon the breastworks, and jumped below. With a wild shout of
joy Trenck followed him. His soul bounded with rapture and gladness.
He has mounted the wall, and what he finds below will be liberty in
death, or liberty in life.
He lives! He stretches himself after his wondrous leap, and he is
not injured--he recovers strength and presence of mind quickly.
But where is his friend? where is Schnell? There--there; he lies
upon the ground, with a dislocated ankle, impossible to stand--
impossible to move.
"Remember your oath, friend--kill me! I can go no farther. Here is
my sword--thrust it into my bosom, and fly for your life!"
Trenck laughed gayly, took him in his arms as lovingly and tenderly
as a mother. "Swing yourself on my back, friend, and clasp your arms
about my neck, and hold fast. We will run a race with the reindeer."
"Trenck! Trenck! kill me Leave me here, and hasten on. Escape is
impossible with such a burden."
"You are as light as a feather, and I will die with you rather than
Onward! onward! the sun sets and a heavy fog rises suddenly from out
of the earth.
"Trenck, Trenck, do you not hear the alarm--guns thundering from the
citadel? Our pursuers are after us."
"I hear the cannon," said Trenck, hastening on. "We have a half
"A half hour will not suffice. No one has ever escaped from Glatz
who did not have two hours' advance of pursuit. Leave me, Trenck,
and save yourself."
"I will not leave you. I would rather die with you. Let us rest a
moment, and gather breath."
Gently, carefully, he laid his friend upon the ground. Schnell
suppressed his cries of pain, and Trenck restrained his panting
breath--they rested and listened. The white, soft mist settled more
thickly around them. The citadel and the town was entirely hidden
"God is with us," said Trenck. "He covers us with an impenetrable
veil, and conceals us from our enemies."
"God is against us--our flight was too soon discovered. Already the
whole border is alarmed. Listen to the signals in every village. The
three shots from the citadel have announced that a prisoner has
escaped. The commanding officers are now flying from point to point,
to see if the peasants are doing duty, and if every post is strictly
guarded. The cordon is alarmed; the whole Bohemian boundary has been
signalled. It is too late--we cannot reach the border."
"We will not go then, friend, in the direction our enemies expect
us," said Trenck, merrily. "They saw us running toward the Bohemian
boundary, and they will follow in that direction through night and
fog. We will fly where they are not seeking us--we will cross the
Reise. Do you see there a line of silver shimmering through the fog,
and advancing to meet us? Spring upon my back, Schnell. We must
cross the Reise!"
"I cannot, Trenck, I suffer agony with my foot. It is impossible for
me to swim."
"I can swim for both."
He knelt down, took his friend upon his back, and ran with him to
the river. And now they stood upon the shore. Solemnly, drearily,
the waves dashed over their feet, sweeping onward large blocks of
ice which obstructed the current.
"Is the river deep, comrade?"
"In the middle of the stream, deep enough to cover a giant like
"Onward, then! When I can no longer walk, I can swim. Hold fast,
Onward, in the dark, ice-cold water, bravely onward, with his friend
upon his back! Higher and higher rose the waves! Now they reached
"Hold fast to my hair, Schnell, we must swim!"
With herculean strength he swam through the dark, wild waters, and
dashed the ice-blocks which rushed against him from his path.
Now they have reached the other shore. Not yet safe--but safe from
immediate danger. The blessed night conceals their course, and their
pursuers seek them on the other shore.
Suddenly the fog is dispersed; a rough bleak wind freezes the
moisture in the atmosphere, and the moon rose in cloudless majesty
in the heavens. It was a cold, clear December night, and the wet
clothes of the fugitives were frozen stiff, like a harness, upon
them. Trenck felt neither cold nor stiff; he carried his friend upon
his shoulders, and that kept him warm; he walked so rapidly, his
limbs could not stiffen.
Onward, ever onward to the mountains! They reached the first hill,
under whose protecting shadows they sank down to rest, and take
"Trenck, I suffer great agony; I implore you to leave me here and
save yourself. In a few hours you can pass the border. Leave me,
then, and save yourself!"
"I will never desert a friend in necessity. Come, I am refreshed."
He took up his comrade and pressed on. The moon had concealed
herself behind the clouds; the cold, cutting winds howled through
the mountains. Stooping, Trenck waded on through the snow. He was
scarcely able now to hold himself erect. Hope inspired him with
strength and courage--they had wandered far, they must soon reach
Day broke! the pale rays of the December sun melted the mountain
vapors into morning. The two comrades were encamped upon the snow,
exhausted with their long march, hopefully peering here and there
after the Bohemian boundary.
"Great God! what is that? Are not those the towers of Glatz? and
that dark spectre which raises itself so threateningly against the
horizon, is not that the citadel?"
And so it was. The poor fugitives have wandered round and round the
whole night through, and they are now, alas! exactly where they
"We are lost," murmured Schnell; "there is no hope!" "No, we are not
lost!" shouted Trenck; "we have young, healthy limbs, and weapons.
They shall never take us alive."
"But we cannot escape them. Our appearance will instantly betray us;
I am in full uniform, and you in your red coat of the body-guard,
both of us without hats. Any man would know we were deserters."
"Woe to him who calls us so! we will slay him, and walk over his
dead body. And now for some desperate resolve. We cannot go
backward, we must advance, and pass right through the midst of our
enemies in order to reach the border. You know the way, and the
whole region round about. Come. Schnell, let us hold a council of
"We must pass through that village in front of us. How shall we
attempt to do so unchallenged?"
Half an hour later a singular couple drew near to the last house of
the village. One was a severely wounded, bleeding officer of the
king's body-guard; his face was covered with blood, a bloody
handkerchief was bound about his brow, and his hands tied behind his
back. Following him, limped an officer in full parade dress, but
bareheaded. With rude, coarse words he drove the poor prisoner
before him, and cried for help. Immediately two peasants rushed from
"Run to the village," said the officer, "and tell the judge to have
a carriage got ready immediately, that I may take this deserter to
the fortress. I succeeded in capturing him, but he shot my horse,
and I fear I broke a bone in falling; you see, though, how I have
cut him to pieces. I think he is mortally wounded. Bring a carriage
instantly, that I may take him, while yet alive, to the citadel."
One of the men started at once, the other nodded to them to enter
Stumbling and stammering out words of pain, the wounded man followed
him; cursing and railing, the officer limped behind him. On entering
the room, the wounded man sank upon the floor, groaning aloud. A
young girl advanced hastily, and took his wounded head in her arms;
while an old woman, who stood upon the hearth, brought a vessel of
warm milk to comfort him.
The old peasant stood at the window, and looked, with a peculiar
smile, at the officer, who seated himself upon a bench near the
fire, and drank the milk greedily which the old woman handed him.
Suddenly the old man advanced in front of the officer and laid his
hand on his shoulder.
"Your disguise is not necessary, Lieutenant Schnell, I know you; my
son served in your company. There was an officer from the citadel
here last night, and informed us of the two deserters. You are one,
Lieutenant Schnell, and that is the other. That is Baron Trenck."
And now, the wounded man, as if cured by magic, sprang to his feet.
The sound of his name had given him health and strength, and healed
the wound in his forehead. He threw the handkerchief off, and rushed
out, while Schnell with prayers and threats held back the old man,
and entreated him to show them the nearest way to the border.
Trenck hastened to the stable--two horses were in the stalls. The
young girl, who had held his head so tenderly, came up behind him.
"What are you doing, sir?" she said anxiously, as Trenck released
the horses. "You will not surely take my father's horses?--if you
do, I will cry aloud for help."
"If you dare to cry aloud, I will murder you," said Trenck, with
flaming eyes, "and then I will kill myself! I have sworn that I will
not be taken alive into the fortress. Have pity, beautiful child--
your eyes are soft and kindly, and betray a tender heart. Help me--
think how beautiful, how glorious is the world and life and liberty
to the young! My enemies will deprive me of all this, and chain me
in a cell, like a wild beast. Oh, help me to escape!"
"How can I help you?" said Mariandel, greatly touched.
"Give me saddles and bridles for these horses, in order that I may
flee. I swear to you, by God and by my beloved, that they shall be
returned to you!"
"You have then a sweetheart, sir?"
"I have--and she weeps day and night for me."
"I will give you the saddles in remembrance of my own beloved, who
is far away from me. Come, saddle your horse quickly--I will saddle
"Now, farewell, Mariandel--one kiss at parting--farewell,
compassionate child! Schnell, Schnell, quick, quick to horse, to
Schnell rushed out of the hut, the peasant after him. He saw with
horror that his horses were saddled; that Schnell, in spite of his
foot, had mounted one, and Trenck was seated upon the other.
"My God! will you steal my horses? Help! help!"
Mariandel laid her hand upon her father's lips, and suppressed his
cries for help. "Father, he has a bride, and she weeps for him!--
think upon Joseph, and let them go."
The fugitives dashed away. Their long hair fluttered in the wind,
their cheeks glowed with excitement and expectation. Already the
village lay far behind them. Onward, over the plains, over the
meadows, over the stubble-fields!
"Schnell. Schnell, I see houses--I see towns. Schnell, there lies a
"That is Wunschelburg, and we must ride directly through it, for
this is the nearest way to Bohemia."
"There is a garrison there, but we must ride through them. Aha! this
is royal sport! We will dash right through the circle of our
enemies. They will be so amazed at our insolence, that they will
allow us to escape. Hei! here are the gates--the bells are ringing
for church. Onward, onward, my gallant steed, you must fly as if you
Huzza! how the flint strikes fire! how the horses' hoofs resound on
the pavement! how the gayly-dressed church-goers, who were advancing
so worthily up the street, fly screaming to every side! how the lazy
hussars thinking no harm, stand at the house doors, and fix their
eyes with horror upon these two bold riders, who dash past them like
And now they have reached the outer gate--the city lies behind them.
Forward, forward, in mad haste! The horses bow, their knees give
way, but the bold riders rein them up with powerful arms, and they
Onward, still onward! "But what is that? who is this advancing
directly in front of us? Schnell, do you not know him? That is
Yes, that is Captain Zerbtz, who has been sent with his hussars to
arrest the fugitives; but he is alone, and his men are not in sight.
He rode on just in front of them. When near enough to be heard, he
said, "Brothers, hasten! Go to the left, pass that solitary house.
That is the boundary-line. [Footnote: Trenck's Memoirs.] My hussars
have gone to the right."
He turned his horse quickly, and dashed away. The fugitives flew to
the left, passed the lonely house, passed the white stone which
marked the border, and now just a little farther on.
"Oh, comrade, let our horses breathe! Let us rest and thank God, for
we are saved--we have passed the border!"
"We are free, free!" cried Trenck, with so loud a shout of joy that
the mountains echoed with the happy sound, and reechoed back, "Free,
Swiftly, noiselessly, and unheeded the days of prosperity and peace
passed away. King Frederick has been happy; he does not even
remember that more than two years of calm content and enjoyment have
been granted him--two years in which he dared lay aside his sword,
and rest quietly upon his laurels. This happy season had been rich
in blessings; bringing its laughing tribute of perfumed roses and
blooming myrtles. Two years of such happiness seems almost
miraculous in the life of a king.
Our happy days are ever uneventful. True love is silent and
retiring; it does not speak its rapture to the profane world, but
hides itself in the shadows of holy solitude and starry night. Let
us not, then, lift the veil with which King Frederick had concealed
his love. These two years of bloom and fragrance shall pass by
When the sun is most lustrous, we turn away our eyes, lest they be
blinded by his rays; but when clouds and darkness are around about
us, we look up curiously and questioningly. King Frederick's sun is
no longer clear and dazzling, dark clouds are passing over it; a
shadow from these clouds has fallen upon the young and handsome face
of the king, quenched the flashing glance of his eye, and checked
the rapid beating of his heart.
What was it which made King Frederick so restless and unhappy? He
did not know himself, or, rather, he would not know. An Alp seemed
resting upon his heart, repressing every joyful emotion, and making
exertion impossible. He sought distraction in work, and in the early
morning he called his ministers to council, but his thoughts were
far away; he listened without hearing, and the most important
statements seemed to him trivial. He mistrusted himself, and
dismissed his ministers. It was Frederick's custom to read every
letter and petition himself, and write his answer upon the margin.
This being done, he turned to his ordinary studies and occupations,
and commenced writing in his "Histoire de Man Temps." Soon, however,
he found himself gazing upon the paper, lost in wandering thoughts
and wild, fantastic dreams. He threw his pen aside, and tried to
lose himself in the beautiful creations of his favorite poet, all
things in nature and fiction seemed alike vain.
Frederick threw his book aside in despair. "What is the matter with
me?" he exclaimed angrily. "I am not myself; some wicked fairy has
cast a spell about me, and bound my soul in magic fetters. I cannot
work, I cannot think; content and quiet peace are banished from my
breast! What does this signify? and why--" He did not complete his
sentence, but gazed with breathless attention to the door. He had
heard one tone of a voice without which made his heart tremble and
his eyes glow with their wonted fire.
"Announce to his majesty that I am here, and plead importunately for
an audience," said a soft, sweet voice.
"The king has commanded that no one shall be admitted."
"Announce me, nevertheless," said the petitioner imperiously.
"That is impossible!"
Frederick had heard enough. He stepped to the door and threw it
open. "Signora, I am ready to receive you; have the goodness to
enter." He stepped abruptly forward, and, giving his hand to
Barbarina, led her into his cabinet.
Barbarina greeted him with a sweet smile, and gave a glance of
triumph to the guard, who had dared to refuse her entrance.
The king conducted her silently to his boudoir, and nodded to her to
seat herself upon the divan. But Barbarina remained standing, and
fixed her great burning eyes upon his face.
"I see a cloud upon your brow, sire," said she, in a fond and
flattering tone. "What poor insect has dared to vex my royal lion?
Was it an insect? Was it--"
"No, no," said Frederick, interrupting her, "an angel or a devil has
tortured me, and banished joy and peace from my heart. Now tell me,
Barbarina, what are you? Are you a demon, come to martyr me, or an
angel of light, who will transform my wild dreams of love and bliss
into reality? There are hours of rapture in which I believe the
latter, in which your glance of light and glory wafts my soul on
golden, wings into the heaven of heavens, and I say to myself, 'I am
not only a king, but a god, for I have an angel by my side to
minister to me.' But then, alas! come weary times in which you seem
to me an evil demon, and I see in your flashing eyes that eternal
hatred which you swore to cherish in the first hour of our meeting."
"Alas! does your majesty still remember that?" said Barbarina, in a
tone of tender reproof.
"You have taken care that I shall not forget it. You once told me
that from hatred to love was but a small step. If you have truly
advanced so far, how can I be assured but you will one day step
"How can you be assured?" said she, pointing a rosy finger with
indescribable grace at the king. "Ah. sire! your divine beauty, your
eyes, which have borrowed lightning from Jove and glory from the
sun--your brow, where majesty and wisdom sit enthroned, and that
youthful and enchanting smile which illuminates the whole--all these
make assurance doubly sure! I will not allude to your throne, and
its pomp and power! What is it to me that you are a king? For me you
are a man, a hero, a god. Had I met you as a shepherd in the fields,
I should have said, 'There is a god in disguise!' The fable is
verified, and 'Apollo is before me!' Apollo, I adore, I worship you!
let one ray from your heavenly eyes fall upon my face!" She knelt
before him, folding her hands, extended them pleadingly toward the
king, and looked upon him with a ravishing smile.
The king raised her, and pressed her--in his arms, then took her
small head in his hands, and turning it backward, gazed searchingly
in her face.
"Oh! Barbarina," said he, sadly, "to-day you are an angel, why were
you a demon yesterday? Why did you martyr and torture me with your
childish moods and passionate temper? Why is your heart, which can
be so soft and warm, sometimes cold as an iceberg and wholly
pitiless? Child! child! do you not know I have been wounded by many
griefs, and that every rough word and every angry glance is like a
poisoned dagger to my soul? I had looked forward with such delight
to our meeting yesterday at Rothenberg's! I expected so much
happiness, and I had earned it by a diligent and weary day's work.
Alas! you spoiled all by your frowning brow and sullen silence. It
was your fault that T returned home sad and heartless. I could not
sleep, but passed the night in trying to find out the cause of your
melancholy. This morning I could not work, and have robbed my
kingdom and my people of the hours which properly belong to them;
weak and powerless, I have been swayed wholly by gloom and
discontent. What was it, Barbarina, which veiled your clear brow
with frowns, and made your sweet voice so harsh and stern?"
"What was it?" said Barbarina, sadly; and resting on the arm of the
king, she leaned her head back and looked up at him with half-closed
eyes. "It was ambition which tortured me. But I did wrong to conceal
any thing from you. I should, without sullen or angry looks, have
made known the cause of my despair. I should have felt that I had
only to breathe my request, and that the noble and magnanimous heart
of my king would understand me. I should have known that the man who
had won laurels in the broad fields of science and on the bloody
battle-field, would appreciate this thirst for renown; this glowing,
burning hate toward those who cross our paths and wish to share our
"Jealous? you are jealous, then, of some other artiste," said the
king, releasing Barbarina from his arms.
"Yes, sire, I am jealous!--jealous of your smiles, of your applause;
of the public voice, of the bravos, which like a golden shower have
fallen upon me alone, and which I must now divide with another!"
"Of whom, then, are you jealous?" said the king.
She threw her head back proudly, a crimson blush blazed upon her
cheeks, and her eyes sparkled angrily.
"Why has this Marianna Cochois been engaged? Why has Baron von
Swartz put this contempt upon me?" said she fiercely. "To engage
another artiste is to say to the world, that Barbarina no longer
pleases, that she no longer has the power to enrapture the public,
that her triumphs are over, and her day is past! Oh! this thought
has made me wild! Is not Barbarina the first dancer of the world?
Can it be that another prima donna, and not the Barbarina, is
engaged for the principal role in a new and splendid ballet? Does
Barbarina live, and has she not murdered the one who dared to do
this, to bring this humiliation upon her?"
Tears gushed from her eyes, and sobbing loudly, she hid her face in
her hands. The king gazed sadly upon her, and a weary smile played
upon his lip.
"You are all alike--all," said he, bitterly, "and the great artiste
is even as narrow-minded and pitiful as the unknown and humble; you
are all weak, vain, envious, and swayed by small passions; and to
think that you, Barbarina, are not an exception; that the Barbarina
weeps because Marianna Cochois is to play the principal role in the
new ballet, 'Toste Galanti.'"
"She shall not, she dare not," cried Barbarina; "I will not suffer
this humiliation; I will not be disgraced, dishonored in Berlin; I
will not sit unnoticed in a loge, and listen to the bravos and
plaudits awarded to another artiste which belong to me alone! Oh,
sire, do not allow this shame to be put upon me! Command that this
part, which is mine, which belongs to me by right of the world-wide
fame which I have achieved, be given to me! I implore your majesty
to take this role from the Cochois, and restore it to me."
"That is impossible, Barbarina. The Cochois, like every other
artiste, must have her debut. Baron Swartz has given her the
principal part in 'Toste Galanti,' and I cannot blame him."
"Oh! your majesty, I beseech you to listen. Is it not true--will you
not bear witness to the fact that Barbarina has never put your
liberality and magnanimity to the test; that she has never shown
herself to be egotistical or mercenary? I ask nothing from my king
but his heart, the happiness to sit at his feet, and in the sunshine
of his eyes to bathe my being in light and gladness. Sire, you have
often complained that I desired and would accept nothing from you;
that diamonds and pearls had no attraction for me. You know that not
the slightest shadow of selfishness has fallen upon my love! Now,
then, I have a request to-day: I ask something from my king which is
more precious in my eyes than all the diamonds of the world. Give me
this role; that is, allow me to remain in the undisturbed possession
of my fame." She bowed her knee once more before the king, but this
time he did not raise her in his arms.
"Barbarina," said he, sadly and thoughtfully, "put away from you
this unworthy and pitiful envy. Cast it off as you do the tinsel
robes and rouge of the stage with which you conceal your beauty. Be
yourself again. The noble, proud, and great-hearted woman who shines
without the aid of garish ornament, who is ever the queen of grace
and beauty, and needs not the borrowed and false purple and ermine
of the stage. Grant graciously to the Cochois this small glory, you
who are everywhere and always a queen in your own right!"
Barbarina sprang from her knees with flashing eyes. "Sire," said
she, "you refuse my request--my first request--you will not order
that this part shall be given to me?"
"I cannot; it would be unjust."
"And so I must suffer this deadly shame; must see another play the
part which belongs to me; another made glad by the proud triumphs
which are mine and should remain mine. I will not suffer this! I
swear it! So true as my name is Barbarina I will have no rival near
me! I will not be condemned to this daily renewed struggle after the
first rank as an artiste. I will not bear the possibility of a
comparison between myself and any other woman. I am and I will
remain the first; yes, I will!"
She raised herself up defiantly, and her burning glance fell upon
the face of the king, but he met it firmly, and if the bearing of
Barbarina was proud and commanding, that of King Frederick was more
"How!" said he, in a tone so harsh and threatening that Barbarina,
in spite of her scorn and passion, felt her heart tremble with fear.
"How! Is there another in Prussia who dares say, 'I will?' Is it
possible that a voice is raised in contradiction to the expressed
will of the king?"
Barbarina turned pale and trembled. The countenance of Frederick
expressed what she had never seen before. It was harsh and cold, and
a cutting irony spoke in his glance and a contemptuous smile played
upon his lip.
"Mercy, mercy!" cried she, pleadingly; "have pity with my passion.
Forget this inconsiderate word which scorn and despair drew from me.
Oh! sire, do not look upon me so coldly, unless you wish that I
should sink down and die at your feet; crush me not in your anger,
but pardon and forget."
With her lovely face bathed in tears and her arms stretched out
imploringly; she drew near the king, but he stood up erect and
"Signora Barbarina, I have nothing to forgive, but I cannot grant
your request. The Cochois keeps her role, and if you have any
complaint to make, apply to your chief, Baron Swartz; and now,
signora, farewell; the audience is ended."
He bowed his head lightly and turned away; but Barbarina uttered one
wild cry, sprang after him, and with mad frenzy she clung to his
"Sire, sire! do not go," she said, breathlessly; "do not forsake me
in your rage. My God, do you not see that I suffer; that I shall be
a maniac if you desert me!" and, gliding to his feet, she clasped
his knees with her beautiful arms, and looked up at him imploringly.
"Oh, my king and my lord, let me be as a slave at your feet; do not
spurn me from you!"
King Frederick did not reply; he leaned forward and looked down upon
the lovely and enchanting woman lying at his feet, and never,
perhaps, had her charms appeared so intoxicating as at this moment,
but his face was sad, and his eyes, usually so clear and bright,
were veiled in tears. There was a pause. Barbarina still clung to
his knees, and looked up beseechingly, and the king regarded her
with an expression of unspeakable melancholy; his great soul seemed
to speak in the glance which fixed upon her. It was eloquent with
love, rapture, and grief. Now their eyes met and seemed immovably
fixed. In the midst of the profound silence nothing was heard but
Barbarina's sighs. She knew full well the significance of this
moment. She felt that fate, with its menacing and unholy shadow, was
hovering over her. Suddenly the king roused himself, and the voice
which broke the solemn silence sounded strange and harsh to
"Farewell, Signora Barbarina," said the king.
Barbarina's arms sank down powerless, and a sob burst from her lips.
The king did not regard it; he did not look back. With a firm hand
he opened the door which led into his chamber; entered and closed
it. He sank upon a chair, and gave one long and weary sigh. A
profound despair was written on his countenance, and had Barbarina
seen him, she would have appreciated the anguish of his heart.
She lay bathed in tears before his door, and cried aloud: "He has
forsaken me! Oh, my God, he has forsaken me!" This fearful and
terrible thought maddened her; she sprang up and shook the door
fiercely, and with a loud and piteous voice she prayed for entrance.
She knew not herself what words of love, of anguish, of despair, and
insulted pride burst from her pallid lips. One moment she threatened
fiercely, then pleaded touchingly for pardon; sometimes her voice
seemed full of tears--then cold and commanding. The king stood with
folded arms, leaning against the other side of the door. He heard
these paroxysms of grief and rage, and every word fell upon his
heart as the song of the siren upon the ear of Ulysses. But
Frederick was mighty and powerful; he needed no ropes or wax to hold
him back. He had the strength to control his will, and the voice of
wisdom, the warning voice of duty, spoke louder than the siren's
"No," said he, "I will not, I dare not allow myself to be again
seduced. All this must come to an end! I have long known this, but I
had no strength to resist temptation. Have I not solemnly sworn to
have but one aim in life--to place the good of my people far above
my own personal happiness? If the man and the king strive within me
for mastery, the king must triumph above all other things. I must
consider the holy duties which my crown lays upon me; my time, my
thoughts, my strength, belong to my people, my land. I have already
robbed them, for I have withdrawn myself. I have suffered an
enchantress to step between me and my duty--another will than mine
finds utterance, influences, and indeed controls my thoughts and
actions. Alas! a king should be old and be born with the heart of a
graybeard--he dare never have a heart of youth and fire if he would
serve his people faithfully and honestly! With a heart of flesh I
might have been a happier, a more amiable man, but a weak, unworthy
king. I should have been intoxicated by a woman's love, and her
light wish would have been more powerful than my will. Never, never
shall that be! I will have the courage to trample my own heart under
foot, and the sorrows of the man shall bo soothed and healed by the
pomp and glory of the king."
In the next room Barbarina leaned over against the door, exhausted
by her prayers and tears. "Listen to me, my king," said she, softly.
"In one hour you have broken my will and humbled my pride forever!
From this time onward Barbarina has no will but yours. Command me,
then, wholly. Say to me that I am never to dance again, and I swear
to you that my foot shall never more step upon the stage; command
that all my roles shall be given to the Cochois, I will myself hand
them to her and pray her to accept them. You see, my king, that I am
no longer proud--no longer ambitious. Have mercy upon me then, sire;
open this fearful door; let me look upon your face; let me lie at
your feet. Oh, my king, be merciful, be gracious; cast me not away
The king leaned, agitated and trembling, against the door. Once he
raised his arm and laid his hand upon the bolt. Barbarina uttered a
joyful cry, for she had heard this movement. But the king withdrew
his hand again. All was still; from time to time the king heard a
low sigh, a suppressed sob, then silence followed.
Barbarina pleaded no more. She knew and felt it was in vain. Scorn
and wounded pride dried the tears which love and despair had caused
to flow. She wept no more--her eyes were flaming--she cast wild,
angry glances toward the door before which she had lain so long in
humble entreaty. Threateningly she raised her arms toward heaven,
and her lips murmured unintelligible words of cursing or oaths of
"Farewell, King Frederick," she said, at last, in mellow, joyous
tones--"farewell! Barbarina leaves you."
She felt that, in uttering these words, the tears had again rushed
to her eyes. She shook her head wildly, and closed her eyelids, and
pressed her hands firmly upon them, thus forcing back the bitter
tears to their source. Then with one wild spring, like an enraged
lioness, she sprang to the other door, opened it and rushed out.
Frederick waited some time, then entered the room, which seemed to
him to resound with the sighs and prayers of Barbarina. It brought
back the memory of joys that were past, and it appeared to him even
as the death-chamber of his hopes and happiness. He stepped hastily
through the room and bolted the door through which Barbarina had
gone out. He wished to be alone. No one should share his solitude--
no one should breathe this air, still perfumed by the sighs of
Barbarina. King Frederick looked slowly and sadly around him, then
hastened to the door before which Barbarina had knelt. An
embroidered handkerchief lay upon the floor. The king raised it; it
was wet with tears, and warm and fragrant from contact with her
soft, fine hand. He pressed it to his lips and to his burning eyes;
then murmured, lightly, "Farewell! a last, long farewell to
THE LAST STRUGGLE FOR POWER.
Restless and anxious the two cavaliers of the king paced the
anteroom, turning their eyes constantly toward the door which led
into the king's study, and which had not been opened since yesterday
morning. For twenty-four hours the king had not left his room. In
vain had General Rothenberg and Duke Algarotti prayed for
The king had not even replied to them; he had, however, called
Fredersdorf, and commanded him sternly to admit no one, and not to
return himself unless summoned. The king would take no refreshment,
would undress himself, required no assistance, and must not be
disturbed in the important work which now occupied him.
This strict seclusion and unaccustomed silence made the king's
friends and servants very anxious. With oppressed hearts they stood
before the door and listened to every sound from the room. During
many hours they heard the regular step of the king as he walked
backward and forward; sometimes he uttered a hasty word, then sighed
wearily, and nothing more.
Night came upon them. Pale with alarm, Rothenberg asked Algarotti if
it was not their duty to force the door and ascertain the condition
of his majesty.
"Beware how you take that rash step!" said Fredersdorf, shaking his
head. "The king's commands were imperative; he will be alone and
"Have you no suspicion of the cause of his majesty's distress?"
"For some days past the king has been grave and out of humor,"
replied Fredersdorf. "I am inclined to the opinion that his majesty
has been angered and wounded by some dear friend."
General Rothenberg bent over and whispered to Algarotti: "Barbarina
has wounded him; for some time past she has been sullen and
imperious. These haughty and powerful natures have been carrying on
an invisible war with each other; they both contend for
"If this is so, I predict confidently that the beautiful Barbarina
will be conquered," said Algarotti. "Mankind will always be
conquered by Frederick the king, and must submit to him. So soon as
Frederick the Great recognizes the fact that the man in him is
subjected by the enchanting Barbarina, like Alexander the Great, he
will cut the gordian knot, and release himself from even the soft
bondage of love."
"I fear that he is strongly bound, and that the gordian knot of love
can withstand even the king's sword. Frederick, ordinarily so
unapproachable, so inexorable in his authority and self-control,
endures with a rare patience the proud, commanding bearing of
Barbarina. Even yesterday evening when the king did me the honor to
sup with me in the society of the Barbarina, in spite of her
peevishness and ever-changing mood, he was the most gallant and
attentive of cavaliers."
"And you think the king has not seen the signora since that time?"
"I do not know; let us ask the guard."
The gentlemen ascertained from the guard that Barbarina had left the
king's room in the morning, deadly pale, and with her eyes inflamed
"You see that I was right," said Algarotti; "this love-affair has
reached a crisis."
"In which I fear the king will come to grief," said Rothenberg.
"Believe me, his majesty loves Barbarina most tenderly."
"Not the king! the man loves Barbarina. But listen! did you not hear
"Yes, the low tone of a flute," said Fredersdorf. "Let us approach
Lightly and cautiously they stepped to the door, behind which the
king had carried on this fierce battle with himself, a battle in
which he had shed his heart's best blood. Again they heard the sound
of the flute: it trembled on the air like the last sigh of love and
happiness; sometimes it seemed like the stormy utterance of a strong
soul in extremest anguish, then melted softly away in sighs and
tears. Never in the king's gayest and brightest days had he played