Part 11 out of 16
to be over, he stood quietly before the baron, and, fixing his dark,
earnest eyes with a thoughtful expression upon him, he said, softly:
"You have confided to me a great and dangerous enterprise. If I did
my duty as the unconditional subject of the Pope, and as a priest of
the holy Church, of which Frederick is the bitter antagonist, I
should arrest you here, as a dangerous negotiator and enemy, and
above all, I should give speedy notice of this conspiracy, which not
only threatens Clement as head of the Church, but as sovereign of
the States of the Church. But--what would you have?--I was not born
a priest, and my heart and my spirit have never been able to
accommodate themselves fully to the discipline of my order. I have
always remained, I fear," said he, with a graceful smile, "the true
brother of the free-thinking Abbe Bastiani; and it appears to me, it
lies in our blood to love and pay homage to the great and
intellectual King of Prussia. I will, therefore, listen to and
follow the voice of my blood and of my heart, and forget a little
that I am a priest of the only church in which salvation can be
found. As far as it lies in my power, I will promote your object. I
will give you letters to Turin, not only to my brother Giovanni, but
to Father Tomaseo, the king's confessor. He is my most faithful
friend, and sympathizes fully with me. If you can win him and my
brother Giovanni, you have won the king, and he will lend a willing
ear to your proposals. Your plans are bold, but my brother and
Father Tomaseo are daring, undaunted men; the progress of Italy and
the greatness of their king lies nearest their hearts. They are both
influenced by my judgment, and when you hand them my letters, you
will at least be a most welcome guest."
He gave the baron his hand, and listened with a kindly smile to the
enthusiastic thanks of the over-happy soldier, whose first
diplomatic mission seemed to promise so favorably.
"Be, however, always prudent and discreet, signor," said the prior,
laughing. "Play your role as merchant; do not lay it aside for one
moment while in Turin. Leave Venice as quickly as possible; no doubt
the brother guardian, who was sent from Rome as a spy, who watches
not only all my actions, but my words and thoughts, has remarked our
long interview, and is already suspicious. As he has a fine nose, he
may soon discover a part of your secret! Do not return to the
cloister. During the day I will send you the promised letters by a
faithful brother. As soon as you receive them, be off! My best
wishes and my prayers accompany you. Without doubt, you are, like
your great king, a heretic. I cannot, therefore commend you to Mary
Mother, and the saints, but I will pray to God to watch over you."
The prior stopped suddenly and listened! Loud cries of wild alarm
forced themselves upon his ear; the sounds appeared to come from
directly under his feet, and waxed louder and fiercer every moment.
"It is in the dining-room," said the prior, "follow me, sir, I beg
you, we may need your help--some one is murdering my monks!" They
hastened from the room with flying feet; they passed through the
long corridors and down the steps; the cries and roars and howls and
curses became ever clearer.
"I was not mistaken," said the prior, "this comes from the
refectory." He rushed to the door and threw it hastily open, then
stood, as if chained to the threshold, and stared with horror at the
mad spectacle before him.
There were no murderous strangers there playing wild havoc amongst
his monks: but the worthy fathers themselves were making the fierce
tumult which filled the prior with alarm. The saloon no longer
resembled the ascetic, peaceful refectory of cloister brothers. It
was changed into a battle-field, upon which the two hosts thirsting
for blood stood opposed.
The table upon which the glasses, plates, and dishes seemed to have
been thrown together in wild disorder, was shoved to one side, and
in the open space the monks stood with flashing eyes, uttering
curses and imprecations; not one of them remarked that the prior and
Cocceji stood at the door, astonished spectators of this unheard-of
"Silence!" said the father guardian, making frantic gesticulations
toward the monks who stood opposed to him and his adherents--
"silence! no one shall dare within these sacred walls to speak of
the Prussian heretical king in any other way than with imprecations.
Whoever wishes success to his arms is an apostate, a traitor, and
heretic. God has raised the sword of His wrath against him, and He
will crush him utterly; He has blessed the weapons of his
adversaries as Clement has also done. Long live Maria Theresa, her
The monks by his side roared out, "Long live Maria Theresa, her
"She will not be victorious over Frederick of Prussia," cried Father
Anselmo, the leader of the opposite party. "The Pope has blessed the
arms of Daun, but God himself has blessed the weapons of Frederick.
Long live the King of Prussia! Long live the great Frederick!"
"Long live the great Frederick!" cried the monks by the side of
The party of the father guardian rushed upon them with doubled
fists; the adversaries followed their example. "Long live Theresa!"
cried the one. "Long live Frederick!" cried the other--and the blows
and kicks fell thickly right and left, with the most lavish
It was in vain that the prior advanced among them and commanded
peace--no one regarded him. In their wild and indiscriminate rage
they pressed him and shoved him from side to side, and in the heat
of the battle several powerful blows fell upon his breast; so the
poor prior took refuge again at the door near Cocceji, who was
laughing merrily at the wild disorder.
The cries of "Long live Theresa!"
"Long live Frederick!" were mingling lustily in the bloody strife.
The father guardian was enraged beyond bearing, and his flashing eye
looked around for some sharp weapon with which to demolish Father
Anselmo, who had just exclaimed, "Long live Frederick, the victor of
Leuthen and Zorndorf!" He seized a large tin cup, which was near him
upon the table, and with a fierce curse he dashed it in the face of
Father Anselmo, and the blood burst from his nose. This was the
signal for a new order of attack. Both parties rushed to the table
to arm themselves; the cups whizzed through the air and wounded
severely the heads against which they were well aimed. Here and
there might be heard whimperings and piteous complaints, mixed with
curses and frantic battle-cries--" Long live Theresa!"
"Long live Frederick!" Some of the warriors crept from the contest
into the corners to wipe the blood from their wounds and return with
renewed courage to the contest. A few cowards had crept under the
table to escape the cups and kicks which were falling in every
Father Anselmo remarked them, and with loud, derisive laughter he
pointed them out.
"The Teresiani live under the table, no Prussiano has crept there.
All the Teresiani would gladly hide as they have often done before."
The Prussiani accompanied these words of their leader with joyous
The father guardian trembled with rage; he seized a large dish from
the table and dashed it at Anselmo, who dodged in time, and then
with a powerful arm returned the compliment. It was a well-directed
javelin. The tin dish struck the father guardian exactly in the
back--he lost his balance, and fell to the earth. The Prussiani
greeted this heroic deed of their chief with shouts of triumph. "So
shall all the Teresiani perish!"
The battle waxed hotter and fiercer, the air was thick with
"They will murder each other!" cried the prior, turning to the Baron
"Not so, your worship; there will only be a few blue swellings and
bleeding noses--nothing more," said Cocceji, laughing.
"Ah, you laugh young man; you laugh at this sad spectacle!"
"Forgive me, your worship; but I swear to you, I have never seen
warriors more eager in the fray, and I have never been more curious
to witness the result of any battle."
"But you shall not witness it," said the prior, resolutely. "You
shall no longer be a spectator of the unworthy and shameful conduct
of my monks. I pray you to withdraw instantly; in a few hours I will
send you the letters, and if you believe that I have rendered you
the least service, I ask in return that you will tell no one what
you have seen."
"I promise, your worship," said Cocceji, with forced gravity. "If
the people without shall ask me what all this tumult means, I will
say that the pious fathers in the cloister are singing their
'floras.'" [Footnote: Baron Cocceji did not keep his word, as this
whole scene is historic.]
Baron Cocceji bowed to the prior, and returned with gay and hopeful
thoughts to the hotel of the "White Lion."
A few hours later, a monk appeared and desired to speak with the
stranger about the holy relics.
Cocceji recognized in him the worthy Father Anselmo, the victor over
the father guardian.
"Will you do me a great pleasure, worthy father?" said he. "Tell me
which party remained in possession of the field after your great
An expression of triumphant joy flashed in Father Anselmo's eyes.
"The Prussiani were victorious, and I think the Teresiani will never
dare to recommence the strife; four of their monks lie in their
cells with broken noses, and it will be some weeks before the father
guardian will be capable of performing his duties as spy; he is sore
and stiff, and his mouth is poorer by a few teeth. May all the
enemies of the great Frederick share his fate! May God bless the
King of Prussia and be gracious to his friends!"
He greeted the baron with the sign of the cross, and withdrew.
The baron remembered the warning of the prior, and hastened quietly
from Venice. Already the next morning he was on the highway to
Turin. [Footnote: This diplomatic mission failed, because of the
faint heart of the King of Sardinia. He rejected the bold
propositions of Frederick entirely, and said, in justification of
himself, that since the alliance between the powers of France and
Austria, he had his head between a pair of tongs, which were ever
threatening to close and crush him. Baron Cocceji was not more
fortunate in Naples, and after many vain efforts he was forced to
return home, having accomplished nothing.--Duten's "Memoirs of a
THE RETURN FROM THE ARMY.
It was a sunny, summer day-one of those days which incline the heart
to prayer, and bring tears of happiness to the eyes. There are no
such days in cities; if we would enjoy them we must go into the
country--we must seek them in peaceful valleys, in fragrant forests,
where the silence is unbroken, except by the fluttering leaves and
the singing of birds. We must understand the eloquent silence of
Nature in order to enjoy the holy Sabbath quiet of a summer day; and
we must be able to hear the language which the flowers breathe
forth, to understand the sighing of the wind, and the rustling of
Very few can do this, but few would care for it. God has not opened
the eyes of the hearts of many of us to this extent; these things
are hidden by a thick veil from the many; they cannot see the
heavenly beauty of Nature--they do not understand the fairy tale
which she is ever telling. This is gentle, idyllic, fairy lore,
unsought by the learned. It whispers of roses, of dancing elves, of
weeping clouds, of dreaming violets.
Happy are those who listen to these fables, who are not called by
the necessities of life to hear the roar of cannon--to find all
these sweet and holy songs overpowered by the noise of war, the
horrors of bloodshed!
War, destructive war, still held a lighted torch over unhappy
Germany; cities and villages were in ruins--even the peace of Nature
was destroyed. The valleys, usually so quiet, now often resounded
with the roar of cannon. The fields remained uncultivated, the
meadows uncared for; there were no strong hands to work. The men and
youths were gone, only the old graybeards and the women were in the
villages, and the work advanced but slowly under their trembling
hands. Unhappiness and want, care and sorrow were in the land.
Even in the once peaceful and happy village of Brunen on the Rhine,
misery had made itself felt. Grief and anguish dwelt with the
bereaved mothers, with the forsaken brides, and the weak old men;
with the useless cripples, who had returned from the war, and who
spent their time in relating the dangers through which they had
passed, in telling of the sons, the brothers, the husbands, and the
fathers of those who listened to their tales--those dear ones who
were, perhaps, now stretched upon the battle-field.
But on this bright day no one in the village gave a thought to the
beauties of Nature, for a new misfortune weighed heavily upon the
hearts of the unhappy inhabitants. They were no longer the subjects
of the hero-king, who was so worshipped by all; under whose colors
their fathers and sons still fought. The French army, led by the
Duke de Broglie and the Count de St Germain, had taken possession of
all that part of the country, and held it in the name of their king.
It was declared a French province, and the inhabitants, helpless and
forsaken, were compelled to acknowledge the French as their masters,
and to meet the taxes which were imposed upon them.
It was a most bitter necessity, and no one felt it more deeply than
the old shepherd Buschman, the father of Charles Henry. He sat, as
we first saw him, on the slope of the field where his flock was
grazing, guarded and kept in order by the faithful Phylax.
His eye was not clear and bright as then, but troubled and
sorrowful, and his countenance bore an expression of the deepest
grief. He had no one to whom he could pour forth his sorrows--no one
to comfort him--he was quite alone Even his youngest son, Charles
Henry, the real Charles Henry, had been compelled to leave him. The
recruiting officers of the king had come a short time before the
French troops had taken possession of the province, and had
conscripted the few strong men who were still left in the village of
But this time the men of Brunen had not answered joyfully to the
demand. Even old Buschman had wished to keep his son Charles Henry
with him. Had he not sent six sons to the field of battle, and had
they not all died as heroes? Charles Henry was his last treasure,
his one remaining child; his grief-torn heart clung to him with the
deepest devotion. To be parted from him seemed more bitter than
death itself. When the recruiting officer came into the hut of
Buschman and summoned Charles Henry to follow him as a soldier, the
eyes of the old man filled with tears, and he laid his hands upon
the arm of his son as if he feared to see him instantly torn from
"Captain" he said, with a trembling voice, "I have sent the king six
sons already; they have all died in his service. Tell me truly, is
the king in great need? If so, take me as well as my son--if not,
leave me my son."
The officer smiled, and extended his hand to the old man. "Keep your
son," he said. "If you have lost six sons in the war, it is right
that you should keep the seventh."
Buschman uttered a cry of joy, and would have embraced his son, but
Charles Henry pushed him gently back, and his father read in his
countenance a determination and energy that he had rarely seen
"No, father," he said, "let me go--let me be a soldier as my
brothers were. I should have gone four years ago, when I was
prevented, and Anna Sophia--Ah, let me be a soldier, father," he
said, interrupting himself. "All the young men of the village are
going, and I am ashamed to remain at home."
The old man bent his head sadly. "Go then, my son," he said; "God's
blessing rest upon you!"
Thus Charles Henry went; not from a feeling of enthusiasm for the
life of a soldier--not from love to his king--but merely because he
was ashamed to remain at home.
He had now been absent several months, and his father had not heard
from him. But the news of the lately lost battle had reached the
village, and it was said that the Prince Royal of Brunswick, in
whose corps Charles Henry was, had been defeated. The old shepherd
remembered this as he sat in the meadow this bright summer morning.
His thoughts were with his distant son, and when he raised his eyes
to heaven it was not to admire its dazzling blue, or its
immeasurable depth, but to pray to the Almighty to spare his son.
The peaceful tranquillity of Nature alarmed the old man--she speaks
alone to those who have an ear attuned to her voice--she says
nothing to those who listen with a divided heart. Buschman could
endure it no longer; he arose and started toward the village. He
longed to see some human being--to encounter some look of love--to
receive sympathy from some one who understood his grief, who
suffered as he did, and who did not wear the eternal smile that
He went to the village, therefore, and left the care of his flock to
Phylax. It comforted his heart as he passed through the principal
street of Brunen and received kind greetings from every hut he
passed. He felt consoled and almost happy when here and there the
peasants hurried toward him as he passed their huts, and begged him
to come in and join them at their simple mid-day meal, and were
quite hurt when he refused because his own dinner was prepared for
him at home. These men loved him--they pitied his loneliness--they
told him of their own cares, their own fears--and as he endeavored
to console and encourage them, he felt his strength increase--he was
more hopeful, more able to bear whatever God might send.
"We must be united in love," said Buschman; "we will help each
other to bear the sorrows that may come upon us. To-morrow is
Sunday; in the morning we will go to the house of God, and after we
have whispered to Him the prayers which He alone must hear, we will
assemble together under the linden-tree in the square and talk of
the old times and those who have left us. Do you not remember that
it was under the linden-tree we heard of the first victory that our
king gained in this fearful war? It was there that Anna Sophia
Detzloff read the news to us, and we rejoiced over the battle of
Losovitz, And I also rejoiced and thanked God, although the victory
had cost me the lives of two of my sons. But they perished as
heroes. I could glory in such a death; and Anna Sophia read their
praises from the paper. Ah, if Anna lived, I would at least have a
He could speak no more, emotion arrested the words on his lips; he
bowed to his friends and passed on to his lonely hut. His little
table was spread, and the young girl who served him, and who slept
in his hut at night, was just placing a dish of steaming potatoes
before his plate. The old man sat down to his solitary meal; he ate
only to sustain his body; his thoughts were far away; he took no
pleasure in his food. In the middle of his meal he started up; a
shadow had fallen across the window, and two loving, well-known eyes
had seemed to look in on him. Buschman, as if paralyzed with
delight, let fall his spoon and looked toward the door. Yes, the
bolt moved, the door opened, and there stood the tall figure of a
The old man uttered a cry and extended his arms. "Oh, my son, my
beloved son, do I indeed see you once more?"
"Yes, father, I am here; and God willing, we will never again be
parted." And Charles Henry hastened to the outstretched arms of his
father, and kissing him tenderly, pressed him to his heart.
"The thought of you, dear father, has led me here," he said; "but
for you I would not have returned to Brunen; I should have wandered
forth into the world--the world which is so much greater and more
beautiful than I ever dreamed. But your dear old eyes were before
me; I heard your loved voice, which called to me, and I returned to
"God be praised!" said his father, folding his hands, and raising
his eyes gratefully toward heaven. "Oh how kind and merciful is God,
to give me back my last, my only son, the support of my old age, the
delight of my eyes! You will not leave me again. This is not merely
a leave of absence; you have obtained your release, the war is
ended, the king has declared peace."
The eyes of the old man were dimmed with tears; he did not perceive
how Charles Henry trembled, and that a deep flush mounted to his
"No, father," he said, with downcast eyes, "I will never leave you
again. We have all returned home. It will be bright and gay once
more in the village, and the work will go forward, for there is a
great difference between a dozen old men and as many young ones. It
was most needful for us to return. The corn is ripe, and should have
been already gathered. We must go to work. To-morrow shall be a
happy day for the village; the whole neighborhood shall perceive
that the twelve young men of Brunen have returned. We met a
violinist on the way, and we engaged him for to-morrow. He must play
for us under the linden tree, and our fathers and mothers, and
sisters and sweethearts must join us, and we will dance and sing and
"What a coincidence!" said the old shepherd, with a bright smile.
"We had already decided that we would meet together tomorrow under
the linden. We wished to sit there and mourn together over our lost
sons. To sing and dance is much better, and perhaps the old
grayheads will join you."
"You must dance with me, father," said Charles Henry, laughing. "I
will take no refusal."
"I will, my son, I will; joy has made me young again, and if Phylax,
the old graybeard, does not mind, and will allow me, I will dance
with you, but you know he is always jealous of you. I am sure the
whole village will envy you your gay young partner. But now, my
son," he continued gravely, "tell me of our king, and how is it that
he has declared peace so suddenly, and whether he has been
victorious or the reverse."
"I know nothing of the king" said Charles Henry; "I was not near
him, but in the division of the Duke of Brunswick."
"I know that, my son; but the duke would not proclaim peace without
the knowledge and consent of the king."
"Oh, father, they will compel the king to make peace," cried Charles
Henry. "And as for the Duke of Brunswick, he has given up the attack
against Wesel and has withdrawn to Westphalia, and the French are in
possession of the entire lowlands, which, it is to be hoped, they
"You hope that?" asked his father, with astonishment.
"Well, yes, father. The French king is now, and perhaps will always
be, the lord of Cleve; and, as his subjects, we must wish him
success, and hope that he will always conquer the King of Prussia."
"What do you say, my son?" asked the old man, with a bewildered
expression. "I fear you are right. The French are our masters now,
and, as our king has declared peace with France, we have the
unhappiness of being French subjects. May God protect us from such a
fate! It would be fearful if we dared not call the great hero--king
our king, and, if we should live to see the day when our sons should
be compelled, as French soldiers, to go to battle against their
king. Only think, Charles Henry, you would not be allowed to wear
your fine Prussian uniform on Sundays, and it is so becoming to you,
and is as good as new. But how is it, my son, that they have left
you the uniform? They are usually taken from the released soldiers
and put amongst the army stores."
"We all came home in our Prussian uniforms," said Charles Henry,
"but of course we will lay them aside to-day."
"Because we are French subjects, and therefore it is not proper for
us to wear the uniform of the enemy, the King of Prussia. That is
also the reason why we have returned home. When we learned that
Cleve had fallen into the possession of the French, we knew that we
were no longer the subjects of the King of Prussia, and we dared not
fight under his flag against the French, whose subjects we had
become. We considered that, and we thought how much it would injure
you all here in Brunen if it were known that your sons were in the
army of the Prussian king. Principally on that account we determined
to return home, and we left our regiment yesterday morning, which
was on the point of marching off to Minden, and we walked the entire
day and half the night. We slept a few hours in a forest, and at the
break of day we recommenced our journey. And now, father, that I
have seen you, and you know every thing, I will go to my room and
take off this uniform, and become a peasant once more." He sought to
leave the room hastily, for the amazed, horror-struck expression of
his father was most disagreeable to him.
But Buschman placed his hand so heavily upon his son's arm that he
was compelled to remain. "Say it is a jest, Charles," he cried, in
an excited voice. "It is not possible for my son, the brother of my
six hero-boys, to speak thus! It is merely a jest, Charles. You
wished to joke with your old father. It is not true that you have
deserted the flag of our king; put an end to this cruel jest,
Charles Henry, and show me your leave of absence which every honest
soldier obtains before leaving his regiment. Do you hear, Charles
Henry? Show it to me quickly." He extended his trembling hand toward
his son, while with the other he still held his arm in a powerful
"Father," said Charles Henry, fiercely, "I have no such paper. It is
as I told you; we have left the Prussian army because we are no
longer the subjects of the King of Prussia, and it is not necessary
for us to remain in the service. We wish to become peasants once
"You lie! you lie!" cried his father. "You are no deserter--it is
impossible that my son should be a deserter."
"No, father, I am no deserter," returned his son, defiantly, as he
freed his arm from the old man's grasp. "I am no deserter--I have
only done my duty as a subject of the French king. I have left the
flag of the enemy, and I am here ready and willing to obey my new
master as a true subject. That is all I have to say, father, and I
believe when you consider, you will see that I was right, and that
you will be pleased for me to take off the Prussian uniform and
remain with you." He did not wait for his father's answer, but left
the room hastily, as if he feared to be again detained.
The old man arose to follow him, but his feet refused their
accustomed office; with a deep groan, he sank upon his chair, and as
the scalding tears streamed from his eyes, he murmured: "Oh, my God!
my son is a deserter! Why did you permit me to live to see this
shame? Why did you not close my eyes that they might not meet this
THE BRAVE FATHERS AND THE COWARDLY SONS.
The clear bell of the village church was sounding for mass, calling
the pious inhabitants of Brunen to worship in the temple of God. All
the hut-doors were opening, and men and women in Sunday attire
wending their way in solemn stillness to church. They were followed
by their children--the maidens with downcast, modest eyes, the boys
with bright and joyous faces, proud of the thought that they were
old enough to go to church.
From the distant farm came the servants, two and two, up the broad
chestnut alley, greeting here and there the church-goers, and
walking on with them, chatting softly. They all remained standing a
short time under the great linden, waiting until the bell ceased,
until the church-door was opened and the minister appeared with the
sacristan and the four choir-boys. Not until then were they allowed
to enter the church.
A bright-looking crowd was assembled under the linden; it seemed as
if all the inhabitants of the village were there. All felt the
necessity of visiting God's house to-day to thank Him for the safe
return of their sons, brothers, and lovers. The twelve boys who had
returned were under the linden in their handsomest Sunday attire.
But why did they stand alone? Why was such a wide space left between
them and the other villagers? Why did the men avoid looking at them?
Why did the maidens step timidly back and remain silent when they
approached and tried to speak with them? Why were they all
whispering together, pointing at the boys and turning their backs
upon them when they drew near?
"Leave them alone," whispered one of the boys to the others; "they
will be more friendly this afternoon when the music is playing and
the wine and cake is handed."
"There is my father, and I must go and meet him," said Charles
Henry, as he hastened toward the old man who was approaching the
All drew back from Charles Henry, and as he stood opposite his
father, like actors upon the stage they found themselves alone
amongst the spectators, who were gazing at them with breathless
"Good-morning, father," said Charles Henry, with forced gayety, as
he offered his hand to his father. "You slept so late to-day, and
went to bed so early yesterday, that I have not been able to speak
to you since our first greeting. So I bid you good-morrow now."
The old man looked quietly at him, but he did not take the proffered
hand, and tried to pass him.
"Father," continued Charles Henry, "you must be tired; our hut lies
at the other end of the village, and that is a long walk for your
old legs. Rest yourself on me, father, and allow your son to lead
you to church." He stretched forth his hand to take the old man's
arm, but Buschman pushed it back, and passed him, without looking,
without even speaking to him.
Charles Henry sprang after him. "Father," he cried, "do you not hear
me? Can you--"
The old man did not really appear to hear him, for he walked toward
the village justice with a quiet, unmoved face, as the latter
advanced to meet him.
"Friend," said Buschman, in a loud, firm voice, "I am fatigued with
my walk; will you lend me your arm?"
He leaned heavily upon the offered arm, and walked quickly onward.
All heard these words, but only the justice saw the tears which
rolled down his pale, sunken cheeks.
"You were very harsh, father," murmured the justice, as they walked
"Were you more forgiving?" said the old man, with a trembling voice.
"Was not your son amongst the twelve, and did you speak to him, or
look at him?"
"He did not pass the night in my house; I drove him away!" said the
"Oh, oh!" sighed the old man; "how bitter is our grief! We love our
children most when they give us most sorrow; but it must be so,
friend, we cannot act otherwise. Let us enter the church, and pray
God to give us strength to do what is right."
Supported by the justice, he entered the churchyard, while from the
other side the minister, followed by the sacristan and the
choirboys, was just appearing.
"See," murmured the justice, "our good old minister has not come to-
day to preach to us; but has sent his assistant. There is certainly
some disagreeable order of the archbishop to read to us, and our
pastor is not willing to read it; he is a good Prussian, and loves
the great king."
The young minister advanced smilingly to meet the two old men.
"Well," said he, with sanctimonious friendliness, as he offered both
of them a hand, "allow me to congratulate you."
"For what?" asked both of them, astonished.
"For the happiness of yesterday. Can there be a greater joy for
fathers than to receive their sons safe and sound from the tumult of
battle? Your sons have returned home, faithfully fulfilling their
duty to their new master, his Catholic majesty of France. They
abandoned the flag of the heretic king, laid aside his uniform, and
are again simple peasants, ready to assist their fathers in the
field. Come, my young friends, that I may give you the blessing of
the Church, for so resolutely fulfilling your duty."
He held out his hand to the young men, who were just entering the
churchyard. They obeyed his call the more readily, as it was the
first welcome they had received--the first kind word they had heard
since their return. As they approached the minister, the other men
drew back, and entered the church hastily, followed by their wives
"You will see, father," murmured the justice, as they seated
themselves together in the pew, "that there is an order to-day.
Whenever the assistant is so delighted and friendly, there is
something wrong. They are certainly meditating some villanous trick
against Frederick, and therefore our good pastor is not here."
The justice had prophesied aright. When the services were over, and
the congregation about to leave the church, the assistant again
mounted the pulpit, and desired them to remain for a while, and hear
what he had to communicate, in the name of the archbishop, Sir
Clement Augustus of Bavaria.
"His eminence, the most honorable archbishop, sends his dear and
faithful children the holy blessing and salutation of the Church.
These are his words: 'We, Clement Augustus, archbishop of Bavaria,
entreat and command our children in Christ to be faithful to their
new government and their new king, Louis XV. of France, whose
apostolic majesty has taken the sword of the Lord into his blessed
hand, to fight the enemies of the Church, and to chastise and punish
the rebellious heretic prince who has arbitrarily named himself King
of Prussia. God's anger is against him, and He will crush and
destroy the presumptuous mockers of the Lord. Woe unto them who will
not listen to God's voice, who in their mad blindness cling to this
heretic! Woe unto you if, in the delusion of your hearts, you still
offer him love and faith! You are released from all duty to him as
subjects, and you now have the blessing of the Church. I, as your
shepherd, made so by the holy Pope of Rome, command you, therefore,
to be faithful to your new master--pray that God may bless his arms,
and grant him victory over his ungodly enemy. My anger and dire
punishment shall reach any one who refuses to obey this command. He
who dares to stand by the heretic king, is himself a heretic, and a
rebellious subject of the Church. Be on your guard; heavy punishment
shall meet those who dare to rejoice over the fame of the so-called
great Frederick. Such rejoicing will be regarded as blasphemy
against the holy Mother Church. To conclude, we remain your loving
father, and send our dear children in Christ our most gracious love
The men listened to the message of the fanatic archbishop with
gloomy faces and downcast eyes; but the twelve boys, who at first
stood alone in the aisle, not daring to seat themselves with the
others, now gazed boldly and triumphantly around, seeming to ask if
the villagers did not now acknowledge that they had acted wisely in
With renewed courage, and somewhat proudly, they were the first to
leave the church, and placed themselves in two rows at the door.
While the congregation was passing by they invited their dear
friends and relations to meet them that afternoon under the great
linden, where they would hold a little festival to celebrate their
"We shall come," said the men, with earnest, solemn voices. "We will
be there," said the mothers, gazing with tearful eyes at the
triumphant faces of their sons. The young maidens whom the boys
invited to dance, passed them in silence.
Old Buschman, alone, did not answer his son's invitation, nor did he
follow the rest to the village, but turned to the side of the
churchyard where his wife was buried. He seated himself upon her
grave, and murmured a few words with trembling lips, raising his
face toward heaven. A sob escaped him every now and then, and the
tears rolled slowly from his eyes. From time to time he wrung his
hands, as if bewailing his sorrow to God and beseeching His mercy,
then brushed away his tears--angry with himself for being so moved.
He sat there a long, long time, struggling with his grief--alone
with God and his shame. Approaching steps aroused him; he looked up.
The village justice stood before him, and gazed at him with a
"I knew I would find you here, Father Buschman, and I came for you.
The time is come; we are all assembled on the square awaiting you."
"I come!" said the old man, as he stood up resolutely, giving a last
loving farewell glance at his wife's grave.
The old man no longer needed his friend's arm to support him, his
steps were firm; his form manly and erect, his venerable countenance
glowed with energy.
By the side of the village justice he walked to the square, under
the great linden. There every thing looked bright and gay. The boys
had taken advantage of the dinner hour to make worthy preparations
for their festival. They had brought fresh evergreens from the
woods, and had made wreaths and festooned them from tree to tree
around the square. The ground was covered prettily with flowers and
leaves, and the bench under the tree was decorated with a wreath of
On one side of the square stood several tables covered with bottles
of wine and beer and cake and bread; not far from the tables was a
throne adorned with flowers, where sat the fiddler, gazing proudly
around him, like a king who knows he is the crowning point of the
It certainly had been a long time since the merry sound of the
fiddle had been heard in the village of Brunen. The throne was
surrounded by little boys and girls listening with wondering delight
at the gay music. But the grown girls stood afar off and did not
look even once at the enticing fiddler, but hid themselves timidly
behind the mothers, who were standing with stern faces gazing at the
groups of men waiting anxiously on the other side of the square.
The stillness and universal silence began at last to make the boys
uneasy. They had tried in vain to engage the men in conversation.
They received no answer to their questions, and when they turned to
the women and the maidens, they also remained dumb. The returned
soldiers then went to the other side of the square to talk to the
fiddler and the children; but when they began to fondle and play
with the little ones, they were called by their fathers and mothers
and bade to remain at their side.
The boys gazed questioningly at one another.
"I am curious to know what this means; are we to remain standing
here all night?" muttered one of them.
"It appears to me that they are waiting for some one," murmured
"They are expecting my father," said Charles Henry; "and see, there
he comes from the churchyard. The justice went for him."
When the old man arrived at the square the men advanced to meet him,
conducted him gravely to the bench under the great linden, and
assisted him to stand upon it. There he towered above them, and his
pale, venerable face, his silver hairs were visible to all. Every
eye was directed to him, and breathless silence ensued. The old man
raised his arm and pointed toward the side where the twelve boys
"Come to me, Charles Henry Buschman," he said, solemnly; and as his
son advanced rapidly to him, he continued: "I ask you in the name of
God, if what you told me yesterday is true? Have you secretly left
the flag of your king, our sovereign--the great King Frederick of
Prussia? Is it true that you have forsaken your regiment and the
flag to which you swore to be faithful?"
"It is true," said Charles Henry, with assumed daring, "but we were
not only justified in doing so--our duty compelled us. We are no
longer Prussian subjects, but subjects of the King of France. You
all heard to-day what the minister read to us in church--how the
archbishop commanded us to be faithful to our new sovereign. We
could no longer wear the Prussian uniform or be Prussian soldiers,
therefore we returned to our village."
"You returned as dishonored, faithless soldiers!" cried the old man,
looking angrily at his son--" you returned covered with shame--
miserable deserters--to the disgrace of your fathers, mothers, your
brothers, sisters, sweethearts, and your friends. You have deserted
the flag of your rightful king, to whom you swore the oath of
allegiance--an oath which God received, and which no man can annul.
Men of Brunen! shall we stand this shame that our sons bring upon
us? Shall the world point their fingers at us and say: 'These are
the fathers of soldiers who deserted their regiment, and were false
to their king?'"
"No!" cried they all, as with one voice--"no, we will not stand
this--we will have no deserters as sons!"
The old man bowed his head in silence; then turned slowly to the
side where the women stood.
"Women and maidens of Brunen! Will you allow your sons and brothers
who are covered with shame, to stay amongst you? Will you receive
the deserters in your houses and at your tables? Will you open your
arms to them and call them sons and brothers?"
"No, no!" cried the women and maidens, simultaneously; "we will not
receive them in our houses, or at our tables. We will have no
deserters for sons or brothers!"
The old man stood erect, and, as if inspired with a mighty
enthusiasm, raised his arm toward heaven, and his countenance beamed
with holy light.
"They must return to their flag," he cried, in a commanding voice
"With your blood you must wash the shame from your brows, and from
ours. If God preserves your lives, and you redeem your honor as
brave soldiers of the King of Prussia, then and then only we will
receive you as our sons and welcome you to our arms."
"So shall it be!" cried the men and the women, and the maidens
murmured their acquiescence.
The old man stepped from the bench and walked forward slowly to the
other side of the square where the twelve young men were standing
gazing at him with terrified faces.
"Return!" cried the old man, stretching his arm toward them--"return
to the flag of your king; we want no deserters amongst us; away with
"Away with you!" cried the men--"away from our village!"
The children, influenced by their parents, cried out with shrill
voices: "Away from our village--away!"
The youths were at first stunned, and gazed with staring eyes at the
crowd of angry faces and flashing eyes which menaced them, then
seized with terror, they fled.
"Away with you! away with the deserters!" was thundered after them.
"Away with you!" cried their mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters,
This fearful cry sounded to them like the peal of the last judgment.
With trembling knees, and faces pale as death, they rushed down the
principal street of the village. The crowd started after them, and
like the howling of a storm, shouted behind them: "Away with you!--
away with the deserters!"
On they ran, as if pursued by furies, farther, farther down the
street, but the villagers still chased them. Once only Charles Henry
dared to look around at the pursuers. It was a fearful sight. At the
head of the rest he saw his old father, with his pale face, his
white hair flying in the wind; raising his arms threateningly toward
him, he cried out in a thundering voice: "Away with you!--away with
Charles Henry rushed onward--a cry of terror escaped his lips, and
he fled like a madman.
They had passed the borders of the village--it was quiet behind
them--they dared to look back--they were alone. But on the boundary-
line the villagers stood--their faces turned toward the fugitives--
and like the distant croakings of a raven there sounded in the air:
"Away with you!--away with the deserters!"
Breathless, with tottering knees, the boys sank down--with hollow
eyes, speechless with terror, sorrow, and humility, they gazed at
They did not dare return to the village. Perhaps to appease the
anger of their relations, perhaps because they repented of their
cowardice, they returned to their regiment, acknowledged their
crime, and prayed for forgiveness.
Thus the brave fathers of the village of Brunen punished their
cowardly sons, and drove the dishonored and faithless boys to their
duty, perhaps to their death. [Footnote: This account is
THE TRAITOR'S BETRAYAL.
Count Ranuzi was alone in his apartments. He sat at his writing-
table reading over the two letters he had just written; a triumphant
smile was upon his lip as he finished. "It will succeed," murmured
he, softly; "we will take Magdeburg without a blow, and thus deprive
the King of Prussia of his most valuable fortress. The plan cannot
miscarry; and then I have only to convince the empress that I was
the soul of this undertaking--that I led the intrigue. Ah, I shall
succeed at last--I shall occupy a position worthy of me--and as
general of our order I shall rule the world. I shall earn this title
at Magdeburg--there I will build my throne--there I will reign! But
I must consider it all once more, to see if no error, no mistake,
has escaped me. I first formed a connection with the officer Yon
Kimsky, an Austrian prisoner, because through him I could make
connections between the town and the citadel. Kimsky, at my wish,
made some of his town friends acquainted with the officers of the
citadel. It was then necessary to give these new friends some clew,
some aim that would appear innocent to them, and conceal the real
plan. I chose Trenck as the protecting shield for my undertaking. To
inspire him with confidence in my agents, I obtained a sort of
credential letter from Princess Amelia, and interested her in my
cause. She provided me with money, and gave me, besides the one to
Trenck, a letter of recommendation to a sure, trustworthy friend in
Magdeburg. I was now much nearer my design. On the pretence of
working for Trenck, I worked for myself, for my position of general
of the Jesuits, and for a fortress for my empress. And thus far all
my plans have succeeded. Trenck has formed a connection with three
Prussian officers of the citadel. These, touched with sympathy for
his pitiful condition, have determined to do all in their power to
release him, and are, therefore, in constant companionship with
those whom Trenck calls his friends. These, in the mean time, are my
agents and subordinates, they act for me while acting for Trenck;
the Prussian officers do not anticipate that, in helping Trenck to
his freedom, they are helping the Empress of Austria to a new
fortress. But so it is. There is no error in my plan, it will
succeed. I can rely on Trenck; he is a subject of Maria Theresa, and
his thirst for revenge is mighty. He will gain a fortress for his
empress. The avenger, through whom God has chosen to punish this
arrogant, heretical king, will arise from the depths of a
subterranean prison. All that is now left to be done is to acquaint
Vienna with the information of this undertaking, so that we may be
assured that an Austrian regiment will be in the vicinity of
Magdeburg at the proper time, and storm the citadel at a sign from
us, and not have that, which we had taken by strategy, torn from us
by the King of Prussia's superior force. Now is a favorable time for
this. For Frederick, the humiliated, defeated king, is many miles
from Magdeburg; he has been compelled to raise the siege of Dresden,
and the Austrian troops are lying there like the Russians at
Frankfort. Nor are the French far off. All these armies will be
prepared to hasten to our aid. All that now remains to be done is to
get this news safely to Vienna. But how to accomplish this is a hard
question. It were well could I go myself. But I am a prisoner of
war, and, until Magdeburg is in our power, this chain will clog me.
Another must be sent--a messenger full of courage, determination,
and hardihood. I have said this in my letter to Captain von Kimsky;
he must seek such a man amongst our sworn friends of the citadel,
and give him the sheet of paper I send in my letter. How harmless,
how insignificant this sheet of paper seems! and still, were it to
fall in the King of Prussia's hands, it would save him a strong
fortress and several millions of thalers, for all the money of the
Dresden treasury was brought to Magdeburg for safe-keeping. Ah! ah!
how much would Frederick give for these two lines of writing, and
how richly would he reward him who gave him the key to it! I will
send the key by a different messenger, and therefore this second
letter. But even if both my messengers were intercepted, all is not
lost. I have notified Trenck also to write to Vienna for money and
help. He must continue to be the shield behind which we intrench
ourselves. Should the undertaking miscarry, we will lay it upon
Trenck; should it succeed, it will be through me, and I will not be
tardy in claiming my reward. The general of our order is old; should
he, however, persist in living, his tenacious nature must--" He did
not dare to finish the sentence; but a wild, demoniac smile supplied
the words his lips dared not utter. He arose and walked several
times up and down his chamber, completely lost in ambitious dreams
of the future, for whose realization, as a true Jesuit, he shunned
no means, mindful of the motto of their order: "The end sanctifies
He saw a ring upon his hand--that ring, full of significance, before
which kings had often bowed, which was to the Jesuits what the crown
is to the king--the sacred sign of power and glory--the indisputable
sign of invisible but supreme power. He saw himself, this ring upon
his hand, subjugating nations, rewarding his friends, punishing his
enemies. He suddenly awoke from his dreams, and remembered the
present with a weary smile.
"I must not forget, in dreams of the future, the necessity for
action. I have many important things to do this day. I must take
these letters to Marietta, see her address and post them; then I
must seek La Trouffle and receive from her leave of absence, on the
plea of visiting a sick friend at Magdeburg. This will be a tedious
undertaking, for she will not agree willingly to a separation
without great persuasion. I have much influence over her, and a
woman in love cannot refuse a request to the object of her
tenderness. I will obtain, through Madame du Trouffle, a near and
influential relative of the commandant of Berlin, permission to
visit Magdeburg, and through Marietta Taliazuchi I will post my two
important letters." He laughed aloud as he thought of these two
women, so tenderly devoted to him, both so willing to be deceived by
"They love me in very different ways," said he, as he finished his
toilet preparatory to going out. "Marietta Taliazuchi with the
humility of a slave, Louise du Trouffle with the grateful passion of
an elderly coquette. It would be a problem for a good arithmetician
to solve, which of these two loves would weigh most. Marietta's love
is certainly the more pleasant and comfortable, because the more
humble. Like a faithful dog she lies at my feet; if I push her from
me, she comes back, lies humbly down, and licks the foot that kicked
her. Away, then, to her, to my tender Marietta."
Hiding his letters in his breast, he took his hat and hastened in
the direction of Marietta's dwelling. She received him in her usual
impassioned manner; she told him how she had suffered in their long
separation; how the thought that he might be untrue to her, that he
loved another had filled her with anguish.
Ranuzi laughed. "Still the same old song, Marietta; always full of
doubt and distrust? Does the lioness still thirst after my blood?
would she lacerate my faithless heart?"
Kneeling, as she often did, at his feet, she rested her arms on his
knees; then dropping her head on her folded hands, she looked up at
"Can you swear that you are true to me?" said she, in a strange,
sharp tone. "Can you swear that you love no other woman but me?"
"Yes, I can swear it!" said he, laughing.
"Then do so," cried she, earnestly.
"Tell me an oath and I will repeat it after you."
She looked at him firmly for several moments, and strange shadows
crossed her emotional countenance.
Ranuzi did not perceive them; he was too inattentive, too confident
of success, to entertain doubt or distrust.
"Hear the oath!" said she, after a pause. "'I, Count Carlo Ranuzi,
swear that I love no other woman but Marietta Taliazuchi; I swear
that, since I have loved her, I have not nor ever shall kiss or
breathe words of love to any other woman. May God's anger reach me,
if my oath is false!'"
The words fell slowly, singly from her lips, and she gazed with
unflinching eyes up at him.
Not a muscle in his countenance moved. Laughing gayly, he repeated
her words; then bent and kissed her black, shiny hair. "Are you
satisfied now, you silly child?"
"I am satisfied, for you have sworn," said she, rising from her
"Will this quiet you now, Marietta?"
"Well, then, now a moment to business. There are two important
letters, my beautiful darling. You see how boundless my love for you
is--I confide these letters to your care, and entreat you to post
them as usual. My heart and my secrets are in your lovely hands."
He kissed the hands, and gave her the letters.
Marietta took and looked at them in a timid, fearful manner.
"Do they contain dangerous secrets?" said she.
"Dangerous in the extreme, my lovely one."
"Were they intercepted and opened, would you be liable to death?"
said she, in a low, trembling voice.
He saw in these words only her solicitude and love for him.
"Certainly, I would be lost--I would have to die were these letters
opened. But fear not, my beauteous Marietta--they will not be
opened; no one would dream of intercepting the harmless letters you
direct to your friends at Magdeburg. Apart from that, no one is
aware of our close connection. We have carefully guarded the holy
secret of our love; when your husband returns from Italy, this bad
world will have no evil rumors to tell of us, and you will be
enclosed in his arms as his faithful wife. When does he come?"
"I expect him in three weeks."
"Many glorious, quiet evenings will we enjoy together before his
return. And now, farewell--I must leave you."
"You must leave me?"
"I must, Marietta."
"And where are you going?" said she, looking at him earnestly.
"Jealous again," said he, laughing. "Calm yourself, Marietta, I go
to no woman. Besides this, have you not my oath?"
"Where are you going?" said she, with a sharp questioning look.
"I have an engagement to meet some friends--the meeting takes place
in the house of a Catholic priest. Are you satisfied, Marietta? or
do you still fear that some dangerous rendezvous calls me from you?"
"I fear nothing," said she, smiling; "you have reassured me."
"Then, my beloved, I entreat you to command me to go, for if you do
not, though I know I ought, I cannot leave you. But, no--first I
will see you direct these letters."
"You shall," said she, taking a pen and directing them.
Ranuzi took the letters and examined them.
"This simple feminine address is the talisman that protects me and
my secret. And this I owe to you, my darling, to you alone. But will
you finish your work of mercy? Will you post these letters at once?"
"I will do so, Carlo."
"Will you swear it?" said he, laughing; "swear it to me by our
"I swear it--swear it by my love."
"And now, farewell, Marietta!--farewell for to-day. To-morrow I hope
to see you again."
He took her in his arms and whispered words of love and tenderness
in her ear. He did not notice, in his impatience to leave, how cold
and quiet she was. He took his hat, and bowing gayly left the room.
She stood where he had left her, her arms hanging listlessly at her
side, her head bowed upon her breast. She listened intently to his
every movement. Now he was on the last stair, now in the hall--when
he had crossed it he would be at the street door. With a wild shriek
she fled from the room, and hastened down the steps.
"Carlo! Carlo! wait a moment!"
His hand was on the door-knob; he stood still and looked back. She
was by his side--pale, with burning eyes and trembling lips, she
threw her arms around him and kissed him passionately.
"Farewell, my Carlo!--farewell, thou lover of my soul, thou light of
She kissed his mouth, his eyes, his hands; she pressed him to her
heart, and then she pushed him from her, saying, in cold, rough
tones, "Go! go, I say!"
Without again looking at him she hurried up the stairs. Ranuzi,
laughing and shaking his head at her foolishness, left the house
with a contented and assured heart.
This time Marietta did not call him back; she did not gaze after him
from the window, as she was accustomed to do; she stood, pale as
death, in the middle of the room, with panting breath, with flashing
eyes; motionless, but with eager and expectant mien, as if listening
to something afar off.
To what was Marietta listening? Perhaps to the echo of his step in
the silent, isolated street; perhaps to the memories which, like
croaking birds of death, hovered over her head, as if to lacerate
and destroy even her dead happiness; perhaps she listened to those
whispering voices which resounded in her breast and accused Ranuzi
of faithlessness and treachery. And was he, then, really guilty? Had
he committed a crime worthy of death?
Marietta was still motionless, hearkening to these whispered voices
in her breast.
"I will deliberate yet once more," said she, walking slowly through
the room, and sinking down upon the divan. "I will sit again in
judgment upon him, and my heart, which in the fury of its pain still
loves him, my heart shall be his judge."
And now she called back once again every thing to her remembrance.
The golden, sunny stream of her happy youth passed in review before
her, and the precious, blissful days of her first innocent love. She
recalled all the agony which this love had caused her, to whose
strong bonds she had ever returned, and which she had never been
able to crush out of her heart. She thought of the day in which she
had first seen Ranuzi in Berlin; how their hearts had found each
other, and the old love, like a radiant Phoenix, had risen from the
ashes of the past, to open heaven or hell to them both. She
remembered with scornful agitation those happy days of their new-
found youthful love; she repeated the ardent oaths of everlasting
faith and love which Ranuzi had voluntarily offered; she remembered
how she had warned him, how she had declared that she would revenge
his treachery and inconstancy upon him; how indolently, how
carelessly he had laughed, and called her his tigress, his anaconda.
She then recalled how suddenly she had felt his love grow cold, how
anxiously she had looked around to discover what had changed him--
she could detect nothing. But an accident came to her assistance--a
bad, malicious accident. During the war there were no operas given
in Berlin, and Marietta was entirely unoccupied; for some time she
had been giving singing lessons--perhaps for distraction, perhaps to
increase her income; she had, however, carefully preserved this
secret from Ranuzi--in the unselfishness of her love she did not
wish him to know that she had need of gold, lest he might offer her
One of her first scholars was Camilla von Kleist, the daughter of
Madame du Trouffle, and soon teacher and scholar became warm
friends. Camilla, still banished by her mother to the solitude of
the nursery, complained to her new friend of the sorrows of her home
and the weariness of her life. Carried away by Marietta's sympathy
and flattering friendship, the young girl had complained to the
stranger of her mother; in the desire to make herself appear an
interesting sacrifice to motherly tyranny, she accused that mother
relentlessly; she told Madame Taliazuchi that she was always treated
as a child because her mother still wished to appear young; that she
was never allowed to be seen in the saloon in the evening, lest she
might ravish the worshippers and lovers of her mother. Having gone
so far in her confidences, the pitiable daughter of this light-
minded mother went so far as to speak of her mother's adorers. The
last and most dangerous of these, the one she hated most bitterly,
because he came most frequently and occupied most of her mother's
time and thoughts, she declared to be the Count Ranuzi.
This was the beginning of those fearful torments which Marietta
Taliazuchi had for some months endured--tortures which increased
with the conviction that there was truly an understanding between
Ranuzi and Madame du Trouffle; that Ranuzi, under the pretence of
being overwhelmed with important business, refused to pass the
evening with her, yet went regularly every evening to Madame du
Marietta had endured this torture silently; she denied herself the
consolation of complaining to any one; she had the courage, with
smiling lips, to dispute the truth of Camilla's narratives, and to
accuse her of slander; she would have conviction, she longed for
proof, and Camilla, excited by her incredulity, promised to give it.
One day, with a triumphant air, she handed Marietta a little note
she had stolen from her mother's writing-desk. It was a poem,
written in French, in which Ranuzi, with the most submissive love,
the most glowing tenderness, besought the beautiful Louise to allow
him to come in the evening, to kneel at her feet and worship as the
faithful worship the mother of God.
Marietta read the poem several times, and then with quiet composure
returned it to Camilla; but her cheeks were deadly pale, and her
lips trembled so violently, that Camilla asked her kindly if she was
"Yes," she replied, "I suffer, and we will postpone the lesson. I
must go home and go to bed."
But Marietta did not go home. Beside herself, almost senseless with
pain and rage, she wandered about through the streets, meditating,
reflecting how she might revenge herself for this degradation, this
faithlessness of her beloved.
At last she found the means; with firm step, with crimson cheeks,
and a strange smile upon her tightly-compressed lips, she turned
toward the castle. There she inquired for the Marquis d'Argens, and
Ranuzi's evil genius willed that D'Argens should be found at that
time in Berlin--he was generally only to be seen at Sans-Souci.
Marietta did not know the marquis personally, but she had heard many
anecdotes of the intellectual and amiable Provencal; she knew that
the marquis and the king were warmly attached, and kept up a
constant correspondence. For this reason, she addressed herself to
D'Argens; she knew it was the easiest and quickest way to bring her
communication immediately before the king. The marquis received her
kindly, and asked her to make known her request.
At first Marietta was mute, regret and repentance overcame her; for
a moment she almost resolved to be silent and to go away. Soon,
however, her wrath was awakened, and armed her with the courage of
despair: with panting breath, with strange disordered taste, she
said: "I have come to tell you a secret--an important secret, which
concerns the king."
The good marquis turned pale, and asked if it related to any attempt
upon the life of the king?
"Not to his life, but it was a secret of the greatest importance,"
she replied. Then, however, when the marquis asked her to make a
full disclosure, she seemed suddenly to see Ranuzi's handsome face
before her; he looked softly, reproachfully at her with his great
fathomless eyes, whose glance she ever felt in the very depths of
her heart; she was conscious that the old love was again awake in
her, and by its mighty power crowding out the passion of revenge. A
lingering hesitation and faint-heartedness overcame her--confused
and stammering, she said she would only confide her secret to the
king himself, or to that person whom the king would authorize to
The marquis, in a vivacious manner, pressed her to speak, and made
conjectures as to the quality of her secret. Marietta found herself
involved in a net of cross-questions and answers, and took refuge at
last in absolute silence. She rose and told the marquis she would
return in eight days, to know whom the king had selected to receive
The eight clays had now passed, and Marietta had, during this time,
many struggles with her own heart--her ever newly awakening love
pleaded eloquently for forgiveness--for the relinquishment of all
her plans of vengeance. [Footnote: The marquis, in one of his
letters to the king, described his interview with Madame Taliazuchi,
with great vivacity and minuteness, and expressed his own suspicions
and conjectures; which, indeed, came very near the truth, and proved
that, where he was warmly interested, he was a good inquisitor. He
entreated Frederick not to look upon the matter carelessly, as in
all probability there was treason on foot, which extended to Vienna.
Madame Taliazuchi had much intercourse in Berlin with the captive
Italian officers, and it might be that one of these officers was
carrying on a dangerous correspondence with Vienna. In closing his
letter, the marquis said: "Enfin, sire, quand il serait vrai que
tout ceci ne fut qu'une bete italienne qui so serait echauffee, et
qui aurait pris des chimeres pour des verites, ce qui pourrait
encore bien etre, cette femme ne parait rien moins que prudente et
tranquille. Je crois, cependant, que la peine qu'on aurait prise de
savoir ce qu'elle veut declarer serait si legere, qu'on ne la
regretterait pas, quand meme on decouvrirait que cette femme n'est
qu'une folle."--"Oeuvres de Frederic le Grand," vol. xix. p. 91.]
She had almost resolved not to seek the marquis again, or if she did
so, to say that she had been deceived--that the secret was nothing--
that she had only been bantered and mystified. But now, all these
softer, milder feelings seemed burnt out in the wild fire of revenge
and scorn which blazed through her whole being. "He is a traitor--a
shameless liar!" she said, pressing her small teeth firmly and
passionately together; "he is a coward, and has not the courage to
look a woman in the face and confess the truth when she demands it;
he is a perjurer, for he took the oath which I exacted from him--he
swore to love me alone and no other woman; he had the impudent
courage to call down the vengeance of God upon himself if he should
break this oath. Why do I hesitate longer?" cried she, springing
from her seat; "the perjured traitor deserves that my betrayed and
crushed heart should avenge itself. He called down the vengeance of
God upon himself. Let it crush him to atoms!"
Now all was decision, courage, energy, and circumspection. She took
the two letters she had received from Ranuzi and concealed them in
her bosom, then dressed herself and left her dwelling.
With a firm step she passed through the streets which led to the
castle. As she drew near the house of Madame du Trouffle, she
hesitated, stood still, and looked up at the windows.
"If only this once he did not deceive me! If he is not here; if he
told me the truth!" His countenance had been so open, so calm, so
smiling when he said to her that he had a rendezvous with some
friends at the Catholic priest's; and in a graceful, roguish
mockery, asked her if she was jealous of that meeting. No, no! this
time he was true. He could not have played the hypocrite with such
smiling composure. Scarcely knowing what she did, Marietta entered
the house, and asked if Camilla was at home--then hastened on to the
door of Camilla's room.
The young girl advanced to meet her with a joyous greeting. "I am
glad you have come, Marietta. Without you I should have been
condemned to pass the whole evening shut up in my room, wearying
myself with books. But I am resolved what I will do in future. If
mamma insists upon my being a child still, and banishes me from the
parlor when she has company, I will either run away, or I will
invite company to amuse me. My cousin, Lieutenant Kienhause, is
again in Berlin; his right arm is wounded, and the king has given
him a furlough, and sent him home. When mamma is in the saloon, I
will invite my cousin here." She laughed merrily, and drew Marietta
dancing forward. "Now I have company, we will laugh and be happy."
"Who is in the saloon?" said Marietta, "and why are you banished to-
"Well, because of this Italian count--this insufferable Ranuzi. He
has been here for an hour, and mamma commanded no one to be
admitted, as she had important business with the count."
"And you believe that he will remain the whole evening?" said
"I know it; he remains every evening."
Marietta felt a cold shudder pass over her, but she was outwardly
"Poor child!" said she," you are indeed to be pitied, and, if you
really desire it, you shall have my society; but first, I have a
commission to execute, and then I will bring some notes, and we will
sing together." She kissed Camilla upon the brow, and withdrew.
The last moment of respite had expired for Ranuzi; there was no
longer a ray of mercy in Marietta's heart. Rushing forward, she soon
reached the castle, and announced herself to the marquis. She was
introduced into his study, and the marquis advanced to meet her,
smiling, and with an open letter in his hand.
"You come at the right time, madame," said he; "an hour since I
received this letter from his majesty."
"Has the king named the person to whom I am to confide my secret?"
she said, hastily.
"Yes, madame, his majesty has been pleased to appoint me for that
"Let me see the letter," said Marietta, extending her hand.
The marquis drew back. "Pardon me," said he, "I never allow the
king's letters to pass out of my own hands, and no one but myself
can see them. But I will read you what the king says in relation to
this affair, and you will surely believe my word of honor. Listen,
then: 'Soyez, marquis, le depositaire de mes secrets, le confidant
des mysteres de Madame Taliazuchi, l'oreille du trone, et le
sanctuaire ou s'annonceront les complots de mes ennemis.' [Footnote:
"I will give the conclusion of this letter which the polite marquis
did not read aloud: 'Pour quitter le style oriental, je vous avertis
que vous aurez l'oreille rebattue de miseres et de petites intrigues
de prisonniers obscurs et qui ne vaudront pas genre de Madame
Taliazuchi--elles envisagent les petites choses comme tres-
importantes; elles sont charmees de figurer en politique, de jouer
un role, de faire les capables d'etaler avec faste le zele de leur
fidelite. J'ai vu souvent que ces beaux secrets reveles n'ont ete
que des intrigues pour auirs au tiers ou an quart a des gens
auxquelles ces sortes de personnes veulet du mal. Ainsi, quoique
cette femme vous puisse dire, gardez-vous bien d'y ajouter foi, et
que votre cervelle provencal ne s'echauffe pas an premier bruit de
ces recits'"--CEuvres, vol xix., p.92.] Madame, you see that I am
fully empowered by the king to receive your confidence, and I am
ready to hear what you will have the goodness to relate." He led her
to a divan, and seated himself opposite to her.
"Tell the king to be on his guard!" said Marietta, solemnly. "A
great and wide-spread conspiracy threatens him. I have been made a
tool by false pretences; by lies and treachery my confidence was
surreptitiously obtained. Oh, my God!" cried she, suddenly springing
up; "now all is clear. I was nothing but an instrument of his
intrigues; only the weak means made use of to attain his object. He
stole my love, and made of it a comfortable, convenient robe with
which to conceal his politics. Alas! alas! I have been his
postillion de politique." With a loud, wild cry, she sank back upon
the divan, and a torrent of tears gushed from her eyes.
The marquis sprang up in terror, and drew near the door; he was now
fully convinced that the woman was mad.
"Madame," said he, "allow me to call for assistance. You appear to
be truly suffering, and in a state of great excitement. It will be
best for you, without doubt, to forget all these political
interests, and attend to your physical condition."
Marietta, however, had again recovered her presence of mind; she
glanced with a wan smile into the anxious countenance of the
"Fear nothing, sir, I am not mad; return to your seat. I have no
weapons, and will injure no one. The dagger which I carry is
piercing my own heart, and from time to time the wound pains; that
is all. I promise you to make no sound, to be gentle and calm--come,
The marquis returned, but seated himself somewhat farther from the
"I tell you," said Marietta, panting for breath, "that he made use
of my credulity--made me a tool of his political intrigues--these
intrigues which threaten the lands if not the life of the king. The
treason I will disclose would place an important fortress in the
hands of the Austrians."
"And you are convinced that this is no chimera?" said the marquis,
with an incredulous smile.
"I am convinced of it, and I have the incontestable proof with me."
She took the two letters which she had received from Ranuzi, and
gave them to the marquis. "Take them, and send them to the king,
but, not to-morrow, not when it is convenient, but to-day; even this
hour. If you are not prompt, in eight days King Frederick will be a
fortress the poorer. Besides this, say to his majesty to be ever on
his guard against the captive officers in Berlin, especially on his
guard against my countryman, Count Ranuzi. He is the soul of this
enterprise; he has originated this daring undertaking, and, if this
falls to pieces, he will commence anew. He is a dangerous enemy--a
serpent, whose sting is most deadly, most to be feared when he seems
most gentle, most quiet. Say to King Frederick he will do well to
protect himself from the traitor, the Austrian spy, Ranuzi."
Marietta stood up, and bowing to the marquis, she advanced to the
door. D'Argens held her back.
"Madame," said he, "if these things are really so, Count Ranuzi is a
man to be feared, and we should make sure of him."
"He is indeed a dangerous man," said Marietta, with a peculiar
smile. "Ask the beautiful Madame du Trouffle; she will confirm my
The black, flashing eyes of the marquis fixed themselves searchingly
upon the face of the signora. He remembered that the king had warned
him to be upon his guard as to the communication of Madame
Taliazuchi, that such mysteries were often nothing more than feigned
intrigues, by which the discoverer sought to bring sorrow and
downfall to an enemy.
"Ah, signora! I understand now," said the marquis; "you did not come
here for patriotism or love for Prussia or her king, but from
frantic jealousy; not to serve King Frederick, but to overthrow
Marietta shrugged her shoulders with a contemptuous expression.
"I am an Italian," said she, laconically.
"And the Italians love revenge," said the marquis.
"When one dares to injure them--yes."
"This Count Ranuzi has dared to injure you?"
A flash of scorn flamed for a moment in her eyes, then disappeared.
"Would I otherwise have betrayed him?" said she. "I am an Italian,
and you cannot ask that I shall feel patriotism for King Frederick
or for Prussia. Count Ranuzi is my countryman, judge, then, how
deeply I have been injured when I betray him, and give him over to
"To death? it is also then a crime worthy of death which these
letters will disclose to the king? You do not deceive yourself? Your
thirst for revenge does not make these things appear blacker, more
important than they really are?"
"No, I do not deceive myself. I speak but the simple truth."
"Then," said the marquis, with horror, "it is dangerous to leave
Ranuzi at liberty. I must apply to the commandant of Berlin, and ask
that he be arrested upon my responsibility."
Marietta was already at the door, but these words of the marquis
arrested her. With her hand resting upon the bolt, she stood and
turned her pale face back to D'Argens. "Certainly, it would be best
and surest to arrest him instantly," said she; and her heart bounded
with delight when she said to herself, with cruel pleasure: "When
once arrested, he can go no more to Madame du Trouffle."
The marquis did not reply, but he stepped thoughtfully through the
room. Marietta's eyes followed every movement with a fiery glance.
At length the marquis stood before her.
"I cannot take upon myself the responsibility of arresting this man.
I do not know that these letters, which I shall send to the king,
are really as dangerous as you say. The king must decide; I will
send them off by a courier to-day. But, in every event, Ranuzi must
be watched, and you shall be his guard. You must see that he does
not escape. I make you answerable. Ranuzi must not leave Berlin, and
when the king's answer is received, he must be found here."
"You shall find him with me," said she; "and if not, I shall at
least be able to tell you where he is. Fear nothing; he shall not
escape! I am his guard! When you receive the reply of the king, have
the goodness to inform me. This is the only reward I demand."
[Footnote: D'Argens wrote to the king: "Si votre majeste ne m'avait
point ecrit en propres termes. Quoique cette femme puisse vous dire,
gardez-vous bien d'y ajouter foi. J'anrai prie le commandant de
faire arreter le nomme Ranuzi jusqu'a ce qu'elle eut mande ce
qu'elle veut qu'on en fasse; cet homme me paraissant un espion de
plus aeres. Mais je me suis contente de dire a Madame Taliszuchi que
si cet homme sortait de Berlin, avant la response de votre majeste
elle en repondrait, et elle m'a assure qu'elle le retiendrait."--
CEuvres, vol. xix., p. 93.]
"I will inform you, madame," said the marquis, opening the door;
"and, as to the Count Ranuzi, I read in your features that you hate
him with a bitter hatred, and will not allow him to escape."
Five days had passed since Marietta's interview with the marquis.
They had wrought no change in her heart; not for a single instant
had her thirst for revenge been allayed. Her hatred of Ranuzi seemed
to have become more intense, more passionate, since she understood
his plans--since she had learned that he had never loved her, and
that she was merely the instrument of his intrigues. Since that time
she had watched his every thought and deed.
One day while apparently embracing him, and whispering words of
endearment in his ear, she had secretly drawn a folded paper from
his pocket, which had just been brought to him by a strange servant
who, having vainly sought him at his own house, had followed him to
that of Marietta. Having thus obtained the paper, she made an excuse
for leaving the room in order to inspect it. She carefully closed
the door of the room in which Ranuzi sat, and then examined the
paper. After reading it, she drew her note-book from her pocket, and
hastily tearing out a leaf, she wrote upon it with a pencil. "Lose
no time, if you do not wish him to escape. He has received to-day,
through the agency of Madame du Trouffle, the necessary passport and
permission to go to Magdeburg. I have no longer the power to detain
him. What is done must be done quickly."
She folded the paper and passed cautiously through the hall and into
the kitchen where her maid was. "Listen, Sophie," she said; "take
this note and go as quickly as you can to the castle and ask for the
Marquis d'Argens. You must give the note into his own hands, and if
you bring me an answer within the hour, I will reward you as if I
were a queen. Do not speak, only go."
The maid hurried down the steps, and Marietta returned, smilingly,
to Ranuzi, who received her with reproaches for her long absence.
"I have arranged a little supper for us, and have sent my maid to
obtain some necessary articles. You will not leave me to-day, as you
always do, to go to your conference with the Catholic priest."
"I would not, Marietta, but I must," said Ranuzi. "Believe me, my
dear child, if I followed the dictates of my heart, I would never
leave this room, which in my thoughts I always call my paradise, and
in which I enjoy my only bright and happy moments. But what would
you have, my angel? It is not ordained that men should have
undisturbed possession of the joys of paradise. Mother Eve sinned,
and we must expiate her misdeeds. I must leave you again to-day to
join that conference which you so heartily detest."
"But not yet," she said, tenderly, putting her arms about his neck.
"You will not leave me yet?"
Thus besought, he promised to remain. Never was he more amiable,
more brilliant, more attentive, or more tender. Never was Marietta
gayer, more excited, or more enchanting. Both had their reasons for
this--both had their intentions. Love smiled upon their lips, but it
was not in their hearts--each wished to deceive the other. Ranuzi
wished to quiet every suspicion by his tenderness--she must not
dream that this was their last meeting, and that he intended leaving
Berlin this night, perhaps forever. Marietta wished to chain him to
her side and prevent his departure.
Time flew by amid gay laughter and tender jests, and at length
Marietta heard the house-door open and hurried steps mounting the
stairway. It was the maid who had returned. Marietta's heart beat so
violently that she could scarcely conceal her emotion.
"The maid has returned with her purchases," she said, hastily; "I
will go out and tell her that you cannot remain with me to-day." She
left the room and met Sophie in the hall, who was quite out of
breath with her hurried walk, and who handed her a note. Marietta
broke the seal with trembling hands. It contained only these words:
"Keep him but a few moments longer, and one will arrive who will
release you from your watch, and relieve you forever from your enemy
by bearing him to prison. The answer of the one to whom I sent your
paper has come; he is condemned."
"Very well, Sophie," said Marietta, concealing the paper in her
bosom. "When the count leaves, you shall receive your reward. Now
listen; the soldiers are coming. As soon as you hear them on the
steps, you must tap at my door, that I may know they have arrived."
She hastened back to Ranuzi, but she no longer smiled--she no longer
approached him with open arms--but she advanced toward him with
flashing eyes, with her arms folded haughtily across her breast, and
her countenance pale with passion.
"Ranuzi, the hour of revenge has come! You have most shamefully
betrayed and deceived me--you have mocked my love--you have trodden
my heart under foot. Lies were upon your lips--lies were in your
heart. And whilst you swore to me that you loved no other, you had
already betrayed me to a woman. I am acquainted with Madame du
Trouffle, and I know that you visit her every evening. This was the
conference with the Catholic fathers, for whose sake you left me.
Oh, I know all--all! I will not reproach you; I will not tell you of
the martyrdom I suffered--of the wretched days and nights through
which I wept and sighed, until at length I overcame the love I had
borne you. That suffering is passed. But you have not forgotten that
I once said to you: 'Should you forsake me, or turn faithlessly from
me, I will be revenged.'"
"I have not forgotten," said Ranuzi, "and I know that you will
fulfil your promise, but before you do so--before you point me out
to the government as a dangerous spy--you will listen to my defence,
and only then if you are not satisfied, will you condemn me, and
"I have all-sufficient proof," she said. "Day by day, hour by hour,
have these proofs been forced upon me, as the contents of the
poisoned cup are forced upon the condemned man. My love and
happiness are dead, but you also shall die--you also shall suffer as
I have done. My love was insufficient to keep for me a place in your
memory; perhaps my revenge will do so. When you are wretched and
miserable, think of me and repent."
"Repent of what?" he asked, proudly." I have done nothing of which I
am ashamed--nothing of which I repent. I have offered up my entire
life, my every thought and desire, to a holy, a noble cause. To it I
have subjected all my feelings, wishes, and hopes, and had it been
necessary, I would without tears have sacrificed all that was
dearest to me on earth. It became necessary for the good of this
cause that I should appear to betray your love. A plan had been
formed in which this woman you have just named could alone aid me. I
dared not ask my heart what it suffered, for my head told me that
this woman was necessary to me, and it became my duty to obtain her
assistance by any means. So I became the daily companion of Madame
du Trouffle, so--"
A light tap at the door interrupted the count, and startled him
"What does that mean?" he asked, turning pale.
Marietta laughed aloud. "That means," she said, slowly and
scornfully, "that you will not go to Magdeburg to-morrow--that you
cannot make use of the passport which your beloved Madame du
Trouffle obtained for you. Ah, you wished to leave me secretly--you
did not wish me to suspect your intended departure. You were
mistaken, Ranuzi. You will remain in Berlin, but you will never go
to her again. I will prevent that."
At this moment loud knocking was heard at the door, and two
policemen entered the room without waiting for an invitation, and
through the open door armed soldiers might be seen in the hall
guarding the entrance.
When Ranuzi first beheld these servants of justice, he shuddered and
became deathly pale, but as they approached him, he recovered his
wonted composure, and advanced proudly and coldly to meet them.
"Are you Count Ranuzi?" asked one of the policemen.
"I am," he said, calmly.
"I arrest you in the name of the king; you are our prisoner."
"With what offence am I charged?" asked he, as he slowly placed his
hand in his bosom.
"The court-martial will inform you."
"Ah, I am to be tried by a court-martial. Spies and conspirators are
always thus tried. I am charged then with spying and conspiring,"
cried Ranuzi, and then slowly turning to Marietta, he asked:
"And this is your work?"
"Yes; this is my work," she said, triumphantly.
"You must come now," said the policeman, roughly, as he stepped
nearer to Ranuzi, at the same time giving his companion a sign to do
the same. "Come immediately and quietly. Do not compel us to use
"Force," cried Ranuzi, shrugging his shoulders, as he drew his hand
from his bosom and pointed a pistol toward the policemen, from which
they shrunk back terrified. "You see that I need not fear force," he
said. "If you dare to approach nearer or lay your hand on me I will
fire on both of you, for happily my pistol has more than one ball,
and it never fails. You see that we are playing a dangerous game,
upon whose issue may depend your lives as well as mine. I can shoot
you if I desire it, or I can direct this weapon against my own brow
if I wish to avoid investigation or imprisonment. But I promise you
to do neither the one nor the other, if you will give me the time to
say a few words to this lady."
"Be quick, then," said the policeman, "or I will call in the
soldiers, and they can shoot you as easily as you could shoot us."
Ranuzi shrugged his shoulders. "You will be very careful not to
shoot me. The dead do not speak, and it is very important for my
judges that I should speak. Go to that door; I give my word that I
will follow you."
As if to strengthen his words, he raised the hand which held the
pistol, and the two men withdrew with threatening glances, to the
Ranuzi then turned again to Marietta, who turned her great flashing
eyes upon him with an expression of anger and astonishment, mixed
with hatred and admiration.
"Marietta," he said, gently. She trembled at the sound of his voice.
He perceived this, and smiled. "Marietta," he repeated, "you have
betrayed me; you have revenged your love! I do not reproach you, my
anaconda, but I pray you to tell me one thing; did you send the last
letters which I gave you to the post?"
"No," she replied, compelling her eyes, with a mighty effort, to
"Wretch! What did you do with them."
"I sent them to the King of Prussia."
Ranuzi uttered a shriek, and fell back a step. "Then I am indeed
lost," he murmured, "as well as that unhappy creature, who pines for
light and freedom. Poor Trenck! Poor Amelia! All is lost; all
through the jealousy of this wretched woman. I tell you, Marietta,"
he continued aloud, as he placed his hand heavily on her shoulder,
"it is not necessary that I should curse you, you will do that
yourself. This hour will act as deadly poison on your heart, of
which you will die. It is true, you have revenged yourself. Today
you rejoice in this, for you believe that you hate me, but tomorrow
you will repent; to-morrow grief will overtake you, and it will grow
with every day--you will feel that you must love me for ever and
ever; you must love me, because you have wrought my ruin. Yes, you
are right--you have discovered the means to keep yourself in my
remembrance. In my dungeon I will think of you. I will do so, and
curse you; but you also will think of me; and when you do, you will
wring your hands and curse yourself, for revenge will not kill the
love in your heart. Be that your punishment. Farewell!"
He passed before her, and quietly approached the policemen. "Come,
gentlemen, I am quite ready to follow you; and that you may be
entirely at ease I will leave my pistol here. It is my legacy to
that lady--my last souvenir. Perhaps she may use it in the future."
He placed the pistol upon her writing-table and hastily approached
the door. "Come, gentlemen; I am your prisoner!"
He signed to them to follow him, and walked proudly through the
Marietta stood there trembling and deadly pale--her eyes dilated,
her lips opened, as if to utter a shriek. Thus she watched him,
breathless, and as if enchained with horror.
Now she saw him open the door of the hall, and throwing back at her
one cold, flashing glance, he went out, followed by the police and
"He is gone! he is gone!" she shrieked, as if in a frenzy. "They are
leading him to imprisonment--perhaps to death. Oh, to death! It is I
who have murdered him. He is right. I am indeed cursed. I have
murdered him, and I love him." And with a wild shriek she sank
fainting to the ground.
Trenck still lived; neither chains nor years of loneliness had
broken his strength or bowed his spirit. His tall, gigantic form had
shrunk to a skeleton; his hair had whitened and hung around his
hollow face like an ashen veil. Heavy chains clasped his feet and
his throat, a broad iron band encircled his waist, which was
attached to the wall by a short chain--a thick bar held his hands
apart; but still he lived. For years he had paced, with short,
restless steps, this little space that covered his grave; but he
smiled derisively at the coarse stone which bore his name.
Trenck still lived. He lived because he had a fixed desire, a grand
aim in view--he thirsted for freedom, and believed it attainable.
Trenck could not die, for without was liberty, the sun, life, and
honor. He would not die; for to be willing to die, he must first
have lived. His life had been so short--a few fleeting years of
youth, of careless enjoyment--a joyous dream of love and ambition!
This had been his fate. Then came long, weary years of imprisonment-
-a something which he knew not, but it was not life--had crept to
him in his prison, and with a cruel hand marked years upon his brow-
-years through which he had not lived, but suffered. And still he
remained young in spite of gray hairs and wrinkles. He glowed with
hope and defiance, his sluggish blood was warmed from time to time
with new hopes, new expectations. His imagination painted wonderful
pictures of future happiness. This hope always remained smiling and
vigorous; notwithstanding his many disappointments--his many useless
attempts to escape, Trenck still hoped for freedom. As often as the
subterranean passages which he dug were discovered, he recommenced
his work, and dug new ones; when the sentinels whom he had won by
gold and flattery were detected and punished, he found means to
obtain other friends.
Truly, friends did not fail; the buried but still living prisoner
had friends who never forgot him; bold, loving friends, risking
their lives for him. The mighty power of his great misfortunes won
him friends. The soldiers who guarded him were seized with
shuddering horror and pity at the sight of this sunken form,
reminding them of the picture of the skeleton and the hour-glass
which hung in the village church. Trenck knew how to profit by this.
The officers, who came every day to inspect his prison, were charmed
and amazed by the freshness of his spirit, his bright conversation,
and gay remarks. These interviews were the only interruption to the
dulness of their garrison life. They came to him to be cheered. Not
being willing to sit with him in the dark, they brought their lights
with them; they opened the door of his cell that they might not be
obliged to remain with him in the damp, putrid air. They wondered at
his firmness and courage; they sympathized with his youth and
loneliness, and this sympathy made for him, earnest, useful friends,
who revelled in the thought that Trenck's renewed attempts at escape
would at last be crowned with happy results, that he would obtain
He was on the eve of a great day. To-morrow he would live again, to-
morrow he would be free; this time it was no chimera, no dream--he
"Yes, my plan cannot fail," murmured Trenck, as he sat upon his
stone seat and gazed at the iron door, which had just closed behind
the Commandant Bruckhausen. "My cruel jailer has discovered nothing,
carefully as he searched my cell; this time I have dug no mines,
broken no walls; this time I shall pass through that door, my
comrades will greet me joyfully, and the poor prisoner shall be the
mighty commander of the fortress. Only one night more, one single
night of patience, and life, and love, and the world shall again
belong to me. Oh, I feel as if I would go mad with joy. I have had
strength to endure misfortunes, but perhaps the rapture of freedom
may be fatal. My God! my God! if I should lose my senses! if the
light of the sun should scorch my brain! if the hum of the busy
world should crush my spirit!"
He lifted his hands in terror to his brow; he felt as if wrapped in
flames, as if fire were rising from his brain; the chains rattled
around him with unearthly sounds. "The slightest error, the least
forgetfulness would endanger my plan. I will be quiet--I will repeat
once more all that we have agreed upon. But first away with these
slavish chains, to-morrow I shall be a free man; I will commence my
He removed the handcuffs, and with his free right hand loosened the
girdle from his waist, at the point where the blacksmith, who
fastened it upon him, told him it might be opened by a pressure
light as a feather. Now he was free; he stretched with delight his
thin, meagre form, and let his arms swing in the air as if to prove
This was a sweet, a wonderful prelude to freedom; many weeks and
months he had worked upon these chains to prepare for the moment of
freedom. Now these chains had fallen. He was already a free man; he
cared not for these dark, damp walls. He did not see them; he was
already without, where the sun was shining, the birds were singing;
where the blue arch of heaven looked down upon the blooming earth.
What did he care for the death-like stillness which surrounded him?
he heard the noise in the streets; he saw men running here and there
in busy haste; he listened to their bright conversation, their merry
laughter; he mixed among them with lively greeting, and shared their
joys and cares.
Suddenly he again pressed his brow fearfully, and cried; "I shall go
mad! A thousand dancing pictures and happy faces are swarming around
me; I shall go mad! But no, I will control myself; I will be calm."
He raised his head with his accustomed bold defiance. "I will look
freedom in the face; my eyelids shall not quiver and my heart shall
beat calmly. I will be quiet and thoughtful. I will think it all
over once more. Listen to me, oh friend! you, who have heard all my
sighs and my despair; you, who know my misery; listen to me, oh
gloomy cell. You have always been faithful; you have never wished to
forsake or leave me; and when I struggled to escape, you called me
always back. But this is our last day together; you shall hear my
confession, I will tell you all my plans, by what means I shall
escape from you, my true friend, my dark, dreary cell. Know first
that this garrison is composed of nine hundred men, who are much
dissatisfied. It will not be difficult to win them, particularly if
they are well bribed. Besides this, there are two majors and two
lieutenants conspiring with me; they will tell their soldiers what
to do. The guard at the star-port, is composed of but fifteen men,
and if they do not obey me willingly, we will know how to compel
obedience. At the end of the star-port lies the city gate. At this
only twelve men and one officer are stationed; these we shall easily
overpower. On the other side, close to the gate, the Austrian
Captain von Kimsky is awaiting me with the remainder of the
prisoners of war. All the officers, who have pledged themselves to
assist my undertaking, are concealed in a safe house rented for this
purpose. At my first call they will rush forward and fall upon the
guard; we will overpower them and enter the city. There other
friends await us; one of them, under some pretext, holds in his
quarters arms for his company, and at my call he will join me with
his armed band. Oh my God! my God! I see every thing so plainly and
clearly before me. I see myself rushing joyfully through the
streets, dashing into the casemates, which contain nine thousand
prisoners. I call to them: 'Up, comrades, up; I am Frederick von
Trenck, your captain and your leader; arm yourselves and follow me.'
I hear them greet me joyfully and cry, 'Long live Trenck!' They take
their arms and we rush to the other casemates, where seven thousand
Austrian and Russian prisoners are confined. We free them, and I
head a little army of sixteen thousand men. Magdeburg is mine; the
fortress, the magazine of the army, the treasury, the arsenal, all
is in our power. I shall conquer all for Maria Theresa. Oh, King
Frederick! King Frederick! I shall avenge myself on you for these
long years of misery, for the martyrdom of this fearful
imprisonment. Trenck will not be obliged to leave Magdeburg; he will
drive away the Prussians, and make himself master."
He laughed so loudly that the old walls echoed the sound, and a
wailing sigh seemed to glide along the building. Trenck started and
looked timidly around him.