Part 13 out of 16
At this moment the door opened, and Le Catt entered, followed by a
servant with the Russian flags and the carpet. When he saw the king
in bed, he started back, and asked anxiously "if his majesty had
been taken suddenly unwell?"
"No," said Frederick, "I am only making my toilet."
"Your toilet, sire?"
"Yes, Le Catt, did you see a soldier at the door?"
"What was be doing?"
"He seemed to be sewing."
"He is sewing, and he is to-day my first gentleman of the
bedchamber; he is dressing me. Ah! in the presence of this humble
patcher, I remember that a wise man said, 'A king is but a man to
his valet de chambre.' But do not allow my presence to prevent you
from building my throne; I will rest here comfortably, and look on."
While the king lay in bed waiting, the soldier who had undertaken
the job, sat on a bench before the door. He bent his head zealously
over his work, and did not once look up to his comrade who stood
near him, leaning against a large oak, gazing rigidly and
unweariedly at him. But in this steady and indefatigable glance,
there seemed to be a strange, attractive power, which the soldier
could not resist. He raised his head involuntarily for a moment, and
the sweet and noble face of Charles Henry Buschman was seen.
"Fritz Kober," said he, "why do you gaze at me so, and why do you
"Because I have been so accustomed to be where you are!" said Fritz
Kober, quietly. "When I heard Deesen call for a tailor, and you
answered, 'Here! here!' I stepped out of my tent and followed you;
nothing more! But you would also know why I look at you? Well, while
it pleases me to see you sewing, it brings strange and pleasant
thoughts to my mind."
"What sort of strange and pleasant thoughts, Fritz?" said Charles
Henry, bowing down again earnestly over his work.
"I thought," said Fritz Kober, in a trembling voice, "that if ever I
should take a wife, she must look exactly as you do, Charles Henry;
she must have the same neat little hands, and be expert with the
needle as you are. Then I thought further, that in the whole world
there was no man so good and brave, so gentle and intelligent as
you. Then I considered what would become of me when the war was at
an end, and you should desert me and go back to your village. Then I
resolved to follow you through the whole world, and not to cease my
prayers and entreaties till you promised to come into my hut, and
take all that was mine--under the condition that you would keep me
always with you--at least as your servant--and never spurn me or
cast me off. Then, I thought further, that if you said no--if you
refused to come into my house, I would wander far away in despair,
and, in the anguish of my heart I would become a bad and
contemptible man. Without you, Charles Henry, there is no joy or
peace in this world for me; you fire my good angel! Charles Henry
Buschman, do you wish me to be a dissolute drunkard?"
"How can I wish that, Fritz Kober?" whispered Charles Henry. "But
you could never be a bad man; you have the best and noblest heart in
the world! No man dare injure or abuse you! You give to those who
ask of you, you help those who suffer, and you stand by those who
are in difficulty! Then you are a complete, true man, and know how
to maintain your own dignity on every occasion. All who approach you
are compelled to respect you, and no one will ever dare to cast a
reproach on Fritz Kober. You are, at the same time, a hero, a good
man, and an innocent child, and my heart rejoices in you."
"What is good in me, I owe to you," said Fritz Kober. "Before I knew
you, I was a simple blockhead, and lived on stupidly from day to
day, thinking of nothing. Since I knew you, I have learned to open
my eyes, and to reflect. But all this will be changed if you desert
me, Charles Henry, and I see that you will do so; yes, you will
abandon me. For three weeks past you have taken no notice of me. You
would not go into my tent with me at Bunzelwitz, but camped out
alone. Here, in the village, you would not come into my hut, but
quartered with an old peasant woman. So I followed you to-day, to
ask you, once for all, if you have the heart to leave me--to spurn
me from you? Look at me, Charles Henry! look at me and tell me if
you will make a pitiful and unhappy man of me?"
Charles Henry looked up from his work, and gazed at the pale,
agitated face of his comrade; and as he did so, tears gushed from
"God forbid, Fritz Kober, that I should make you unhappy! I would
rather shed my heart's blood to make you happy."
"Hurrah! hurrah!" cried Fritz Kober. "If this is so, listen to me
and answer me, Charles Henry Buschman, will you be my wife?"
A glowing blush suffused Charles Henry's face; he bowed down over
his work and sewed on in monstrous haste.
Fritz Kober came nearer and bowed so low that he was almost
"Charles Henry Buschman, will you be my wife?"
Charles Henry did not answer; tears and bobs choked his voice, and
trembling with emotion he laid his head on Fritz Kober's shoulder.
"Does that mean yes?" said Fritz, breathlessly.
"Yes," whispered she, softly.
And now Fritz uttered a wild shout, and threw his arms around the
soldier's neck and kissed him heartily.
"God be thanked that it is over," said he; "God be thanked that I
did not deceive myself--that you are truly a girl. When you were
last sick, and the surgeon bled you, I was suspicious. I said to
myself, 'That is not the arm of a man.' I went out, but in the
evening you were praying, and you did not know that I was in the
tent, and you said, 'You dear parents in heaven, pity your poor
daughter.' I could have shouted with rapture and delight, but I held
my peace. I wished to wait and see if you would be good to me."
"But the expression of your eyes was so changed," whispered Charles
Henry; "I was obliged to turn away when their glance fell upon me. I
felt that my secret was discovered, and therefore I avoided being
"Officer Buschman," cried Deesen, in a commanding voice from the
house, "is your work finished?"
"Immediately; I have but a few stitches to do," cried Charles Henry.
"Be silent," said he to Fritz, "and let me sew."
But Fritz was not silent; he crouched near officer Buschman, and
whispered many and strange things in his ear.
Charles Henry sewed on zealously, blushed often, and replied in low,
At last the work was completed, and the knees of the great
Frederick's breeches were worthily mended with divers patches.
"I will carry them myself to the king, as I have a favor to ask
him," said Fritz Kober. "Come with me, Charles Henry; you must hear
what the king says."
He took Charles Henry's hand and advanced to the door, but Deesen
stood there, and forbade him to enter; he ordered Fritz to give him
"No," said Fritz Kober, resolutely, "we have a request to make of
the king, and he once gave us permission to come directly to him
when we had a favor to ask."
He pushed Deesen aside and entered the room with Charles Henry.
The king sat in his bed reading, and was so absorbed that he did not
see them enter. But Fritz stepped up boldly to the bed and laid the
breeches upon the chair.
"Did you mend them, my son?" said the king.
"No, your majesty, Charles Buschman mended them, but I came along to
say something to your majesty. You remember, no doubt, what you said
when we returned from the enemy's camp near Kunersdorf, after the
battle, when Charles Henry related so beautifully all that we had
seen and heard. You said, 'You are both officers from this day, and
if you ever need my assistance call upon me freely.'"
"And you wish to do so now?" said the king.
"Yes, your majesty, I have something to ask."
"Well, what is it?"
Fritz Kober drew up grandly and ceremoniously.
"I ask your majesty to allow me to marry officer Charles Henry
Buschman--to marry him to-day!"
"Marry him!" said the king, amazed; "is, then, officer Buschman--"
"A woman, your majesty!" interrupted Fritz Kober, with joyful
impatience. "He is a woman; his name is Anna Sophia Detzloff, from
Frederick's sharp, piercing eye rested for a moment questioningly
upon Charles Henry's face; then nodding his head smilingly several
times, he said:
"Your bride is a spruce lad and a brave officer, and knows how to
blush in his soldier's uniform. Officer Charles Henry Buschman, will
you be the wife of officer Fritz Kober?"
"I will, if your majesty consents," whispered Charles Henry.
"Well, go to the field-preacher, and be married--I give my consent.
And now go, I must dress."
"At last," said the king to Le Catt, "fortune will be again
favorable to me. Signs and wonders are taking place, as they did
with Charles VII. of France. When he was in the most dire necessity,
surrounded by his enemies, the Lord sent the Maid of Orleans to save
him. To me, also, has the Lord now sent a Joan d'Arc, a maid of
Brunen. With her help I will overcome all my enemies."
THE AMBASSADOR AND THE KHAN OF TARTARY.
The preparations were completed; the room of the king had become, by
means of his inventive genius, a magnificent throne saloon. The
great arm-chair, draped with rich hangings, looked almost imposing;
the dirty floor was concealed by a costly Turkish carpet. The door
which led into the entry had been removed, and the opening hung with
banners. The entry itself had been changed by means of carpets,
banners, and standards into a tasteful antechamber.
The king wore his general's uniform, and the chain of the order of
the Black Eagle, and the generals and staff officers stood near him
in their glittering dresses. The room of the sheriff had indeed
become a royal apartment.
And now an imposing train approached this improvised palace. First
appeared two riders, whose gold-embroidered mantles fell below their
feet and concealed the well-shaped bodies of the small Arabian
horses on which they were mounted, only displaying their slender
necks, with their flowing manes and their graceful legs. It was
evident from their dark complexions and flashing eyes that these men
were foreigners, the sons of the South. On each appeared the
diamond-headed hilt of a sword, glittering amid the folds of the
costly Turkish shawls which encircled their slender waists; and at
the side of each hung the jewelled sheath of a Damascus blade, which
was held in the right hand, and presented in salutation. These
Turkish warriors were followed by two others, scarcely less richly
dressed, and behind them rode four men, in long black robes, with
eyes closed, each bearing in his right hand a book bound in gold and
velvet, which he pressed prayerfully to his breast; a golden pen was
worn in their girdles in place of a weapon, and on the fez an
artistically arranged and jewelled peacock's feather. Now followed
two other riders; but these were not alike, as the others had been,
but bore the most remarkable and striking contrast to one another.
One of them was dressed in the latest French style; he wore a blue,
silver-embroidered velvet coat, with small-clothes of the same
material, which met his white silk stockings at the knee, and were
fastened by a band with a diamond clasp. His shoes were also
ornamented with diamond buckles and red heels. He wore a three-
cornered hat, with a white feather, which was placed lightly and
gracefully upon his stiffly-curled, well-powdered peruke. Splendid
lace covered his breast, and broad lace cuffs fell over his white
gloved hands. It was a perfect ball dress, such as was worn at that
time at court by all ambassadors who were not military, in their
ceremonious audiences with the sovereign.
Near this man, dressed so gracefully and airily, was another
cavalier who presented a great contrast to him. As the one seemed
dressed for a summer day, so the other appeared prepared for the
coldest weather; the one was ready for the ball-room, and the other
for the steppes of Siberia. The long, thin figure of the latter was
concealed by a fur mantle, made of the skin of the white Lapland
wolf, and lined and trimmed with a darker fur; around his waist was
bound a costly gold embroidered shawl, from which hung a small
golden cup, and a richly ornamented razor. At his side, instead of
the Turkish sabre, a bag, richly worked with gold and pearls, was
suspended by golden chains. He wore a fez, on the front of which was
embroidered a small golden cup.
Behind these two men came a troop of Turkish, Tartar, and European
servants, all in livery; and these were followed by a golden
chariot, with closely-drawn blinds, the interior being impenetrable
to the most curious gaze. Four Tartars in long white fur mantles
rode on either side of the chariot, with drawn swords.
The chariot was followed by a most remarkable crowd, consisting of
Prussian soldiers from every regiment, and in every variety of
uniform, of peasants and their wives, of old men and children, who
were all struck dumb with astonishment and admiration at the sight
of this strange cavalcade which now paused before the king's house.
The guards saluted, and the generals and staff officers advanced
silently and bowed profoundly to the two cavaliers, who were such a
singular contrast to one another, and who were evidently the
important persons of the cavalcade. They swung themselves lightly
from their saddles, and returned the polite greetings of the
generals; the one in fluent German, the other in equally flowing
words, but in a language which no one understood, and to which the
only answer was a few murmured words, a smile, and hieroglyphic
The first was the Baron von Rexin, the ambassador of the king to the
Grand Sultan and the Khan of Tartary, who had been so fortunate as
to become the minster plenipotentiary of the King of Prussia under
the title given him by the king of Baron von Rexin, after having
been the servant of a merchant in Breslau, called Hubsch. The second
was the great and noble Mustapha Aga, the ambassador of Krimgirai,
the Khan of Tartary. He was the favorite and confidant of his
master, and was sent by him to bear his greetings and good wishes to
the King of Prussia.
As soon as they had dismounted, a page of the king approached and
invited them to enter the house, where the king was waiting to give
them audience. Baron von Rexin, who during his residence in Turkey
had learned the Turkish language, informed the ambassador. A smile
appeared upon Mustapha Aga's thin, paleface, and he turned to the
four men in black robes, who wore the golden pens in their belts,
and signed to them to follow him, and then taking the arm of Baron
von Rexin, they both entered the house, followed by the four
historians and interpreters; the generals and staff officers of the
king then arranging themselves on either side of the throne,
according to their rank.
The king received the embassy sitting upon his throne. His eye
rested smilingly upon Mustapha Aga, who had just bent to the earth
before his throne, and as he arose signed to one of the four
interpreters to approach. The interpreter opened the costly book,
which he held in his hand, and handed the ambassador a large
document, covered with seals, which Mustapha Aga pressed
respectfully to his lips, and then kneeling, presented it
respectfully to the king.
"Mustapha Aga, the ambassador of the high and mighty Khan of
Tartary, Krimgirai, has the unutterable honor to present his
credentials to the King of Prussia," said the interpreter, in the
purest and most fluent French.
The king broke the seal, and looked hurriedly over the document.
"Mustapha Aga," he said, "you are most welcome; and I greet your
master, the hero Krimgirai, whom I am proud to call my friend, in
After the interpreter repeated the words of the king, Mustapha Aga
threw himself upon his knees before the throne, and spoke rapidly
for a few moments.
"Mustapha Aga, the ambassador of the great Khan," said the
interpreter, "entreats your majesty to allow him to show you the
highest proof of his respect, to greet you in the manner in which he
alone, in great and beautiful Tartary, is permitted to greet the
"I grant his request," said the king.
Mustapha immediately opened the pouch which hung at his side, and
took from it a crystal flask, from which he poured a fluid into the
cup, and a delightful perfume immediately pervaded the room. After
putting a small quantity of white powder into the cup, he proceeded
to stir the contents with a brush, of which the handle was
ornamented with three diamonds of immense size. The fluid now arose
into a sparkling milk-white foam.
The king looked curiously at him at first, and then turned to his
ambassador. "What does this mean?" he asked in German, probably
because he did not wish to be understood by the interpreter.
"Sire, "said Rexin, smiling, "that means that the noble Mustapha Aga
wishes to show you the greatest honor in his power, he wishes to
"To shave me!" exclaimed the king. "Who and what is the noble
"Sire, he is one of the greatest dignitaries of Tartary; he is the
barber of the Khan!"
The king could scarcely restrain a smile at this explanation.
"Well," he said, "it is not a bad idea to make a diplomat and
ambassador of a barber. The gentlemen of the diplomatic corps are
given to shaving in politics and frequently put soap in the eyes of
Mustapha Aga now approached the king with solemn steps, and bending
forward, he thrust his forefinger into the foam in the golden cup
and passed it lightly across the king's chin. He then drew forth the
golden razor from his belt. But before opening it, he raised his
eyes prayerfully to heaven, and spoke a few solemn words. "Allah is
the light of heaven and earth! May He illuminate me in my great
work!" said the interpreter, translating Mustapha's words.
Then the ambassador began his dignified work; drawing the blade of
his knife across the chin of the king with a rapid movement.
The king and his generals and attendants, were scarcely able to
retain their composure during this performance.
When Mustapha had finished, he signed to one of the interpreters to
approach, and as he kneeled before him he wiped the foam from his
razor on the back of his uplifted hand. Then thrusting it in his
belt, he bowed deeply and solemnly to the king.
"May Allah keep the heart of this king as pure as his chin now is!"
he said. "May the knife which Allah employs to prune away the faults
of this king, pass over him as gently and painlessly as the knife of
your unworthy servant has done! Mighty king and lord, the all-
powerful Khan Krimgirai, the lion of the desert, the dread of his
enemies, sends me to you and offers you his aid and friendship. The
renown of your deeds has reached his ears, and he is lost in
astonishment that a prince, of whose kingdom and existence he was in
ignorance, should so long successfully resist the great German
sultan, whose power we know, without fearing. The eagle eye of my
master now sees clearly that he who was so insignificant is now
great enough to overshadow the land of the powerful German sultan,
and to make the proud and unbending czarina of the north tremble. He
sends me to report to you his profound admiration; but first, will
you allow me, O eagle king of the north! to present the gifts which
he offers you?"
"I shall be delighted to receive these gifts," said the king,
smiling, "as they are a proof of the friendship of the great Khan."
Mustapha Aga made a signal in the direction of the door, and spoke a
few words aloud. Immediately there appeared the two men who were so
richly dressed in Turkish costumes, and had been at the head of the
cavalcade. They stationed themselves on either side of the entrance,
and were followed by the lower officers and servants attached to the
embassy, who entered, bearing baskets delicately woven and lined
with rich stuffs.
Mustapha signed to the first two to approach him, and then, before
opening the basket, he turned once more to the king.
"Sire," said he, "before a Tartar gives a promise of love and
friendship to any one, he invites him to his house, and begs him to
eat of his bread and drink of his wine. Sire, my great and respected
master makes use of his unworthy servant to entreat your majesty to
descend from your throne and to enter his house, where he is present
in spirit, and bids the eagle king of the north welcome."
"I should be delighted to grant this request," returned the king,
smiling, "were the distance not so great between my house and that
of the Khan."
"Sire, the house of my great master is before your door," said
Mustapha Aga, bowing deeply. "On the day of our departure, the Khan
walked through it and kissed its walls, and exclaimed: 'Be greeted,
my great and royal brother, you eagle of the north! Be welcome, you
hero-king, the hated enemy of the czarina, Krimgirai offers you his
heart, and would be your friend for all time.' Sire, thus spoke my
lord the Khan; the air in his house is still vibrating with the
words he uttered. Will your majesty condescend to leave your throne
and visit my great master, the Khan Krimgirai?"
The king arose instantly and said, "I am well pleased to do so. Lead
me to the palace of your Khan."
Mustapha Aga signed to the basket-carriers and to the other
attendants to leave the room, and then spoke a few rapid and
emphatic words to the interpreters, who followed them. Then bowing
to the ground before the king, he turned and passed out of the
Before the door a wonderful spectacle presented itself to the
astonished view of the king. Immediately opposite the house, on the
open square, a high tent, of considerable size, appeared, around
which was a wall of fur, well calculated to protect it from the cold
air and rough winds. A carpet covered the way from the door of the
tent to the king's house, and from within the tent could be heard
the gentle notes of a peculiar music.
"Really," said the king to his ambassador, Von Rexin, "I seem to be
living in the 'Arabian Nights.' There is nothing wanting but the
"Sire, perhaps she also is here," said Von Rexin; "we were
accompanied by a close chariot, guarded by four of the khan's
The king laughed, and said, "We will see," and he rapidly approached
the hut. As he reached it, the door flew open, and Mustapha Aga
received him kneeling, while his attendants threw themselves to the
ground, touching it with their foreheads.
The king entered and examined with great curiosity the house of the
Khan. The interior of this immense tent was hung with crimson
draperies, amongst which arose twenty golden pillars which supported
the tent. At the top of these was an immense golden ring from which
the crimson draperies hung, and above this ring were twenty golden
pillars which, uniting in the centre at the top, formed the dome of
the tent. From the centre hung a golden vase, in which burned the
rarest incense. The floor was covered by a great Turkish carpet, and
against the walls stood several divans, such as are generally used
in the dwellings of the wealthy Turks. In the centre of the tent,
just under the suspended vase, stood a low, gilt table, decked with
a service of glittering porphyry. One side of the tent was separated
from the rest by heavy curtains of a costly material, and from hence
came the sound of music, which now arose in loud, triumphant tones,
as if greeting the king.
His majesty moved rapidly to the middle of the tent, while his
attendants stood against the walls, and Mustapha Aga and his
interpreter stood near the king.
Mustapha then took a sword which was on the table, and, after
kissing it, handed it to the king. "Sire," he said, "the great
Krimgirai first offers you his sword, as a sign of his love and
goodwill. He begs that on the day of the great victory which you and
he will undoubtedly gain over the hated czarina of the north, you
will wear this sword at your side. A sword like this--tempered in
the same fire and ornamented with the same design--is worn by the
Khan. When these two swords cut the air, Russia will tremble as if
shaken by an earthquake."
The king received the sword from Mustapha Aga, and looked at it
attentively. Then pointing to the golden letters which ornamented
the blade, he asked the significance of the motto.
"Sire," replied Mustapha, solemnly, "it is the battle-cry of the
Tartar: 'Death is preferable to defeat.'"
"I accept the sword with great pleasure," said the king. "This motto
embodies in a few words the history of a war, and discloses more of
its barbarity, than many learned and pious expositions could do. I
thank the Khan for his beautiful gift."
"The Khan hears your words, sire, for his spirit is among us."
Mustapha, after begging the king to seat himself upon the large
divan, drew aside the opening of the tent, when the servants with
the covered baskets immediately appeared, and placed themselves in a
double row around the tent. Mustapha then took the basket from the
first couple, and throwing back the cover, said: "Sire, will you
condescend to eat of the bread and drink of the favorite beverage of
the Khan, that the ties of your friendship may be strengthened? The
Khan sends you a costly ham--a proof of his unselfish friendship. He
had his favorite horse killed, the one that he has ridden for years,
that he might offer you a ham from this noble animal."
As the interpreter translated these words, the Prussian generals and
officers glanced smiling and mockingly at one another.
The king alone remained grave, and turning to the generals, he said
"Ah, gentlemen! how happy we would have been, had any one brought us
this meat at the siege of Bunzelwitz, and how ravenously we would
have eaten it!"
He then turned again to the ambassador, who, taking from the other
baskets Carian dates and almonds, and other Eastern dainties in
silver dishes, placed them before the king. Mustapha then uttered a
loud, commanding cry, and the door of the tent was again opened, and
there appeared a Tartar, dressed in white wolf-skin, bearing a
golden dish, which contained a steaming, white liquid. He took it,
and kneeled with it before Frederick.
"Sire," said he, "my master begs you to drink with him of his
favorite beverage. He pressed his lips to the rim of this dish
before sending it to you, and if you will now do the same, the eagle
and hero of the north will receive the brotherly kiss of the eagle
and hero of the south."
"What is it?" asked the king, in a low voice, of Baron von Rexin,
who stood near the divan.
"Sire, it is mare's milk!" whispered Rexin.
The king shuddered, and almost overturned the contents of the dish
which he had just received from the hands of Mustapha Aga; but
quickly overcoming this feeling, he raised the bowl smilingly to his
mouth. After placing his lips upon the rim, he returned the bowl to
"I have received the kiss of my friend. May our friendship be
"Allah grant this prayer!" cried Mustapha. "Sire, Krimgirai dares,
as this beverage is such a favorite with all Turks, to hope that it
may please you; he therefore offers you the animal from which it was
procured." He then pointed to the opening in the tent, where now
appeared a noble Arabian horse, wearing a costly saddle and bridle,
and a crimson saddle-cloth richly worked with pearls and precious
The eyes of the king beamed with pleasure, and as he hurried through
the tent and approached the horse, the animal seemed to wish to
greet his new master, for it neighed loudly, and pawed the sand with
its well-shaped feet. The king gently stroked its slender, shining
neck and its full, fluttering mane, and looked in the great,
"You are welcome, my battle-horse!" he said; "may you bear me in the
next engagement either to victory or death!"
He then returned to his seat, in order to receive the remaining
presents of the Khan, consisting of costly weapons and furs.
"And now, sire, the Khan begs that you will repose in his tent, and
listen to the music that he loves, and look at the dances which give
him pleasure. My master knows that the great King of Prussia loves
music as he does, and that it gladdens your heart as it does his
own. When he goes to battle--which is but going to victory--he takes
with him his musicians and dancers, who must perform the dance of
triumph before him. The Khan hopes that you will permit them to
dance before you, and I pray that your majesty will grant this
"I am ready to behold and hear all," said the king.
Immediately, at a sign from Mustapha, the curtain which concealed
part of the tent was withdrawn, and four lovely girls, clothed in
light, fluttering apparel, appeared and commenced a graceful,
beautiful dance, to the music of the mandoline. When they had
finished, they retired to the curtain, and looked with great,
wondering eyes at the Prussian warrior. Then appeared from behind
the curtain four young men, who seated themselves opposite the
girls. The musicians began a new strain, in which the girls and
young men joined. Then two of the girls arose, and drawing their
veils over their faces so that only their eyes were visible, they
danced lightly and swayingly to the end of the tent, and then
returned to the young men, who now commenced the love-songs, with
downcast eyes, not daring to call the name of the objects of their
tenderness, but addressing them in poetical terms; and then they
sang to the same air the battle-song of the Tartars. In this song,
the battles are not only pictured forth, but you hear the shrieks of
the warriors, the battle-cry of the Tartars, and, at length, when
the battle is won, the loud shouts of rejoicing from the women. When
the song was ended, the singers bowed themselves to the earth, and
then disappeared behind the curtain.
The music ceased, and the king, rising from the divan, and turning
to Mustapha, said:
"I owe to the Khan a most delightful morning, and I will take a
pleasant remembrance of his house with me."
"Sire," said Mustapha, "the Khan begs you to accept this tent as a
proof of his friendship."
The king bowed smilingly, and as he left the tent, told Rexin to ask
the Tartar ambassador to come to him now for a grave conference. The
king then dismissed his generals, and attendants, and entered his
house, followed by Baron von Rexin and the Turkish ambassador and
"Now we will speak of business!" said the king. "What news do you
bring me from the Khan? What answer does he make to my proposition?"
"Sire, he is willing to grant all that your majesty desires, and to
give you every assistance in his power, provided you will not make
peace with our hated enemy--with Russia--but will continue the war
unweariedly and unceasingly, until Russia is humbled at our feet."
"Ah!" exclaimed the king, "the Khan of Tartary cannot hate the
Empress of Russia more vindictively than she hates me; he need not
fear, therefore, an alliance between me and Russia. I have myself no
desire to form a friendship with those rough barbarians."
"If the Empress of Russia hates you, she hates Krimgirai equally.
Russia hates every thing that is noble and true; she hates
enlightenment and cultivation. Russia hates Krimgirai, because he
has civilized his people; because he has changed his rough hordes of
men into a mighty army of brave warriors; because he governs his
kingdom with humanity, and is, at the same time, a father to his
people and a scourge to his enemies. Krimgirai hates Russia as he
hates every thing that is wicked, and vicious, and cruel; therefore
he is willing to stand by your side against Russia, with an army of
six thousand men, and, if you wish it, to invade Russia."
"And what are the conditions which the Khan demands for this
"He wishes you to pay his soldiers as you pay your own."
"And for himself?"
"For himself, he begs that you will send him a physician who can
cure him of a painful but not dangerous disease. Further, he begs
for your confidence and friendship."
"Which I gladly give him!" said the king, gayly. "But tell me one
other thing. Has the Khan not yet become reconciled to the Grand
"Sire, the sultan feels that he cannot spare his brave Khan; he made
an overture, which Krimgirai gladly accepted. One week before we
started on our journey, the Khan was received by the sultan in his
seraglio. The heads of forty rebels were displayed as a special
honor in front of the seraglio, and, in the presence of the sultan
himself, my master was again presented with belt and sword, and
again reinstalled as Khan. The sultan also presented him with a
purse containing forty thousand ducats. You see, sire, that the
sultan prizes and acknowledges the virtues of your ally."
"And how do we stand with the Porte?" asked the king, turning to
Baron von Rexin.
"I have succeeded, sire, in establishing a treaty between your
majesty and the Porte! I shall have the honor to lay it before your
majesty for your signature."
The king's eyes beamed with delight, as he exclaimed:
"At length I have attained the desired goal, and in spite of the
whole of Europe. I have my allies!"
Then turning once more to Mustapha Aga, he dismissed him for the
day, and gave him permission to occupy the magnificent tent which
had been presented to him by the Khan, during the remainder of his
Mustapha Aga then withdrew with his interpreter, leaving the king
alone with the Baron von Rexin, who now presented to him the papers
which it was necessary he should sign, to establish the long-desired
alliance with Turkey. This treaty assured to Prussia all the
privileges which Turkey accorded to the other European powers: free
navigation, the rights of ambassadors and consuls, and the personal
liberty of any Prussian subjects who might have been seized as
The king signed the treaty, and named Baron von Rexin his minister
plenipotentiary, and commanded him to return with the ambassador
from Tartary and present the signed treaty to the Grand Sultan.
"Now the struggle can begin anew," said Frederick, when he was once
more alone. "I will recommence with the new year; I will battle as I
have already done; I will consider nothing but my honor and the
glory of Prussia. I will not live to see the moment when I will
consent to a disgraceful peace. No representations, no eloquence
shall bring me to acknowledge my own shame. I will be buried under
the ruins of my native land, or if this consolation be denied me by
my unfortunate fate, I will know how to end my misfortunes. Honor
alone has led my footsteps, and I will follow no other guide. I
sacrificed my youth to my father, my manhood to my country, and I
have surely gained the right to dispose of my old age. There are
people who are docile and obedient toward fate. I am not one of
them. Having lived for others, I dare at least die for myself,
careless what the world may say. Nothing shall force me to prefer a
weak old age to death. I will dare all for the accomplishment of my
plans; they failing, I will die an honorable death. But no! no!"
said the king, smiling after a short pause. "I will not indulge in
such sad and despairing thoughts on the day which has shown me the
first ray of sunlight after so many storms. Perhaps the year sixty-
two will be more fortunate than the one just passed. I stand no
longer alone; I have my friends and my allies. Why should I carp,
that the world calls them unbelievers? I have seen Christians betray
and murder one another. Perhaps unbelievers are better Christians
than believers. We will try them, at least. When all deserted me,
they offered me the hand of friendship. This is the first sunbeam
which has greeted me. Perhaps bright days may now follow the storms.
May God grant it!" [Footnote: The king was not deceived. The Empress
Elizabeth died in the commencement of the year 1762. Her successor
Peter the Third, was a passionate admirer of Frederick the Great,
and he now became the ally of Prussia. The Empress Catharine
approved this change, and remained the ally of Prussia. France now
withdrew from the contest; and in the year 1763, Austria, finding
her treasury completely exhausted, was compelled to make peace with
Prussia. Prussia had no use for her new ally of Tartary, and
Krimgirai, who was already on the march, returned home with his
army.--See "Memoires du Baron de Tott sur les Turcs et les
THE KING'S RETURN.
Berlin was glittering in festal adornment! This was a great, a
joyous day; the first gleam of sunshine, after many long years of
sorrow, suffering, and absolute want. For the last seven years the
king had been absent from his capital-to-day he would return to
After seven years of bloody strife, the powers at Hubertsburg had
declared peace. No nation had enlarged its boundaries by this war.
Not one of the cities or fortresses of the King of Prussia had been
taken from him, and he was forced to content himself with his former
conquest. There had been no successful results! Losses only were to
During these seven years, Russia had lost one hundred and eighty
thousand men, the French two hundred thousand, the Prussians a
hundred and twenty thousand, the English and confederate Germans a
hundred and sixty thousand, and the Saxons ninety thousand--lastly,
the Swedes and the States sixty thousand. This seven years' war cost
Europe nearly a million of men. Their blood fertilized the German
soil, and their bones lay mouldering beneath her green sods.
Throughout all Europe, weeping mothers, wives, and children turned
their sorrowful faces toward the land which had robbed them of their
dear loved ones; they were even deprived the painfully sweet
consolation of weeping over these lonely and neglected graves.
Losses were not only to be counted in myriads of men, whose blood
had been shed in vain, but uncounted millions had been lavished upon
the useless strife.
During this war, the debt of England had increased to seventy
million pounds sterling; the yearly interest on the debt was four
and a half million crowns. The Austrians calculated their debt at
five hundred million guldens; France at two thousand million livres;
Sweden was almost bankrupt, and unfortunate Saxony had to pay to
Prussia during the war over seven million crowns.
In the strict meaning of the term, Prussia had made no debt, but she
was, in fact, as much impoverished as her adversaries. The Prussian
money which was circulated during the war was worthless.
At the close of the war, all those who carried these promissory
notes shared the fate of the rich man in the fairy tale. The money
collected at night turned to ashes before morning. This was the
fatal fruit of the war which for seven years had scourged Europe.
Prussia, however, had reason to be satisfied and even grateful.
Although bleeding from a thousand wounds, exhausted and faint unto
death, she promised a speedy recovery; she was full of youthful
power and energy--had grown, morally, during this seven years'
struggle--had become great under the pressure of hardship and self-
denial, and now ranked with the most powerful nations of Europe.
To-day, however, suffering and destitution were forgotten: only
smiling, joyous faces were seen in Berlin. The whole city seemed to
be invigorated by the golden rays of fortune; no one appeared to
suffer, no one to mourn for the lost--and yet amongst the ninety-
eight thousand inhabitants of Berlin, over thirty thousand received
alms weekly--so that a third of the population were objects of
charity. To-day no one thirsted, no one was hungry; all hearts were
merry, all faces glad!
They had not seen their great King Frederick for seven years; they
would look upon him to-day. The royal family had arrived from
Every one hastened to the streets to see Frederick, who on his
departure had been but the hero-king of Prussia, but who now, on his
return, was the hero of all Europe--whom all nations greeted--whose
name was uttered in Tartary, in Africa, with wonder and admiration--
yes, in all parts of the civilized and uncivilized world!
The streets were filled with laughing crowds; all pressed toward the
Frankfort gate, where the king was to enter. The largest arch of
triumph was erected over this gate, and all other streets were
decorated somewhat in the same manner. Every eye was turned toward
this street; all were awaiting with loudly-beating hearts the
appearance of that hero whose brow was decked with so many costly
laurels. No heart was more impatient, no one gazed so eagerly at the
Frankfort gate as the good Marquis d'Argens; he stood at the head of
the burghers, near the arch of triumph; he had organized the
citizens for this festal reception; he had left his cherished
retirement for love of his royal friend; to welcome him, he had
ventured into the cutting wind of a cold March morning. For
Frederick's sake he had mounted a horse, a deed of daring he had not
ventured upon for many a year; in his lively impatience, he even
forgot the danger of being run away with or dragged in the dust.
The marquis knew well that nothing could be more disagreeable to the
king than this public reception, but his heart was overflowing with
hope and happiness, and he felt the necessity of shouting his vivats
in the sunny air. In the egotism of his love, he forgot to respect
the preferences of the king.
Perhaps Frederick suspected this triumph which his good Berliners
had prepared for him. Perhaps it appeared to his acute sensibilities
and noble heart altogether inappropriate to welcome the returned
soldiers with wild shouts of joy, when so many thousand loved ones
were lying buried on the bloody battle-field. Perhaps he did not
wish to see Berlin, where his mother had so lately died, adorned in
Hour after hour passed. The sun was setting. The flowers which had
been taken from the greenhouses to decorate the arch of triumph,
bowed their lovely heads sadly in the rough March winds. The fresh,
cool breeze whistled through the light draperies and displaced their
artistic folds. Notwithstanding the enthusiasm of the citizens, they
began to be hungry, and to long greatly for the conclusion of these
solemnities. Still the king came not. The Berliners waited awhile
longer, and then one after another quietly withdrew. This bad
example was speedily imitated, and the gay cortege of riders grew
small by degrees and beautifully less. At sunset but a few hundred
citizens remained at the gate, and even these heroic Spartans showed
but little of the enthusiasm of the morning.
Marquis d'Argens was in despair, and if Frederick had arrived at
this moment he would have heard a reproachful phillipic from his
impatient friend instead of a hearty welcome. But fortune did not
favor him. so far as to give him the opportunity to relieve his
temper. The king did not appear. The marquis at last proposed to the
citizens to get torches, and thus in spite of the darkness give to
their king a glittering reception. They agreed cheerfully, and the
most of them dashed off to the city to make the necessary
The streets were soon brilliantly lighted, and now in the distance
the king's carriage was seen approaching. Throughout the vast train
shouts and vivats were heard, and the proud voices of this happy
people filled the air as with the thunder of artillery.
"Long life to the king! Long life to Frederick the Great!"
The carriage came nearer and nearer, and now myriads of lights
danced around it. The citizens had returned with their torches, and
the carriage of Frederick rolled on as if in a sea of fire. It drew
up at the arch of triumph. The king rose and turned his face toward
his people, who were shouting their glad welcome. The light from the
torches fell upon his countenance, and their red lustre gave his
cheek a fresh and youthful appearance.
His subjects saw once more his sparkling, speaking eye, in which
shone the same energy, the same imperial power, as in days gone by.
They saw the soft, sympathetic smile which played around his
eloquent lips--they saw him, their king, their hero, and were glad.
They laughed and shouted with rapture. They stretched out their arms
as if to clasp in one universal embrace their dear-loved king, who
was so great, so beautiful, so far above them in his bright
radiance. They threw him fond kisses, and every utterance of his
name seemed a prayer to God for his happiness.
But one stood by the carriage who could not speak--whose silent,
trembling lips were more eloquent than words. No language could
express the delight of D'Argent--no words could paint the emotion
which moved his soul and filled his eyes with tears.
The king recognized him, and holding out his hand invited him to
take a seat in the carriage. Then giving one more greeting to his
people, he said, "Onward--onward to Charlottenburg."
At a quick pace the carriage drove through Berlin. Those who had not
had the courage and strength to await the king at the Frankfort
gate, were now crowding the streets to welcome him.
Frederick did not raise himself again from the dark corner of the
carriage. He left it to the Duke of Brunswick to return the
salutations of the people. He remained motionless, and did not even
appear to hear the shouts of his subjects. Not once did he raise his
hand to greet them--not a word passed his lips.
When they crossed the king's bridge and reached the castle grounds,
the people were assembled and closely crowded together. Frederick
now raised himself, but he did not see them--he did not regard the
brilliantly illuminated houses, or the grounds sparkling in a flood
of light. He turned slowly and sadly toward the castle--his eye
rested upon that dark, gloomy mass of stone, which arose to the
right, and contrasted mysteriously with the brilliant houses around
it. It looked like a monstrous coffin surrounded by death-lights.
Frederick gazed long and steadily at the castle. He raised his head
once more, but not to greet his subjects. He covered his face--he
would not be looked at in his grief. D'Argens heard him murmur, "My
mother, oh my mother! Oh, my sister!"
The Prussians welcomed joyously the return of their great king, but
Frederick thought only at this moment of those who could never
return--those whom death had torn from him forever. Onward, onward
through the lighted streets! All the inhabitants of Berlin seemed to
be abroad. This was a Roman triumph, well calculated to fill the
heart of a sovereign with just pride.
The Berliners did not see that Frederick had no glance for them.
Gloom and despair veiled his countenance, and no one dreamed that
this king, whom they delighted to honor, was at this proud moment a
weeping son, a mourning brother.
At last the joyous, careless city lay behind them, and they
The noise and tumult gradually ceased, and a welcome quiet ensued.
Frederick did not utter one word, and no one dared to break the
oppressive silence. This triumphant procession seemed changed to a
burial-march. The victor in so many battles seemed now mastered by
The carriage drew up at Charlottenburg. The wide court was filled
with the inhabitants of the little city, who welcomed the king as
enthusiastically as the Berliners had done. Frederick saluted them
abruptly, and stepped quickly into the hall.
The castle had been changed into a temple of glory and beauty in
honor of the king's return. The pillars which supported it were
wound around with wreaths of lovely, fragrant blossoms; costly
draperies, gay flags, and emblems adorned the walls; the floors were
covered with rich Turkish carpets; the gilded candelabras shed their
variegated lights in every direction, irradiating the faces of the
court cavaliers glittering with stars and orders, and the rich
toilets of the ladies. The effect was dazzling.
In the middle of the open space two ladies were standing, one in
royal attire, sparkling in diamonds and gold embroideries, the other
in mourning, with no ornament but pearls, the emblem of tears. The
one with a happy, hopeful face gazed at the king; the other with a
sad, weary countenance, in which sickness, sorrow, and
disappointment had drawn their heavy lines, turned slowly toward
him; her large eyes, red with weeping, were fixed upon him with an
angry, reproachful expression.
Frederick drawing near, recognized the queen and the Princess
Amelia. At the sight of this dearly-beloved face, the queen,
forgetting her usual timidity and assumed coldness, stepped eagerly
forward and offered both her hands to her husband. Her whole heart,
the long-suppressed fervor of her soul, spoke in her moist and
glowing eyes. Her lips, which had so long been silent, so long
guarded their sweet secret, expressed, though silently, fond words
of love. Elizabeth Christine was no longer young, no longer
beautiful; she had passed through many years of suffering and inward
struggle, but at this moment she was lovely. The eternal youth of
the soul lighted her fair brow--the flash of hope and happiness
glimmered in her eyes. But Frederick saw nothing of this. He had no
sympathy for this pale and gentle queen, now glowing with vitality.
He thought only of the dearly-loved queen and mother who had gone
down into the cold, dark grave. Frederick bowed coldly to Elizabeth
Christine, and took both her hands in his a short moment.
"Madame," said he, "this is a sad moment. The queen my mother is
missing from your side."
Elizabeth Christine started painfully, and the hands which the king
had released fell powerless to her side. Frederick's harsh, cruel
words had pierced her heart and quenched the tears of joy and hope
which stood in her eyes.
Elizabeth was incapable of reply. Princess Amelia came to her
"If my brother, the king, while greeting us after his long absence,
is unconscious of our presence and sees only the faces of the dead,
he must also be forced to look upon my unhappy brother, Prince
Augustus William, who died of a broken heart."
The king's piercing eyes rested a moment with a strangely melancholy
expression upon the sorrowful, sickly face of the Princess Amelia.
"Not so, my sister," said he, softly and gently; "I not only see
those who have been torn from us by death. I look upon and welcome
gladly those who have been spared to me. I am happy to see you here
to-day, my sister."
Frederick offered Amelia his hand, and bowing silently to those who
were present, he entered his apartment, followed only by the Marquis
Frederick stepped rapidly through the first room, scarcely looking
at the new paintings which adorned the walls; he entered his study
and threw a long, thoughtful glance around this dear room. Every
piece of furniture, every book, recalled charming memories of the
past--every thing stood as he had left it seven years ago. He now
for the first time realized the joy of being again at home; his
country had received him and embraced him with loving arms.
With glowing cheeks he turned toward the marquis, who was leaning
against the door behind him.
"Oh, D'Argens! it is sweet to be again in one's own native land--the
peace of home is sweet. The old furniture appears to welcome me;
that old chair stretches its arms wooingly toward me, as if to lure
me to its bosom, and give me soft sleep and sweet dreams in its
embrace. Marquis, I feel a longing to gratify my old friend; I yield
to its gentle, silent pleadings."
Frederick stepped to the arm-chair and sank into it with an
expression of indescribable comfort.
"Ah, now I feel that I am indeed at home."
"Allow me," said D'Argens, "to say, your majesty, what the dear old
arm-chair, in spite of its eloquence, cannot express. I, also, am a
piece of the old furniture of this dear room, and in the name of all
my voiceless companions, I cry 'Welcome to my king!' We welcome you
to your country and your home. You return greater even than when you
left us. Your noble brow is adorned with imperishable laurels; your
fame resounds throughout the earth, and every nation sings to you a
hymn of victory."
"Well, well," said Frederick, smilingly, "do not look too sharply at
my claims to such world-wide renown, or my fame will lose a portion
of its lustre. You will see that chance has done almost every thing
for me--more than my own valor and wisdom, and the bravery of my
troops combined. Chance has been my best ally during this entire
war. [Footnote: The king's own words.] Chance enabled me to escape
the famine camp of Bunzelwitz--chance gave me the victory over my
enemies. Speak no more of my fame, marquis, at least not in this
sacred room, where Cicero, Caesar, Lucretius, and Thucydides look
down upon us from the walls; where the voiceless books with their
gilded letters announce to us that we are surrounded by great
spirits. Speak not of fame to me, D'Argens, when from yonder book-
shelf I see the name of Athalie. I would rather have written
Athalie, than to have all the fame arising from this seven years'
war." Footnote: Ibid.]
"Herein I recognize the peaceful, noble tastes of my king," said
D'Argens, deeply moved; "years of hardship and victory have not
changed him--the conquering hero is the loving friend and the wise
philosopher. I knew this must be so--I knew the heart of my king; I
knew he would regard the day on which he gave peace to his people as
far more glorious than any day of bloody battle and triumphant
victory. The day of peace to Prussia is the most glorious, the
happiest day of her great king's life."
Frederick shook his head softly, and gazed with infinite sadness at
his friend's agitated countenance.
"Ah, D'Argens, believe me, the most beautiful, the happiest day is
that on which we take leave of life."
As Frederick turned his eyes away from his friend, they fell
accidentally upon a porcelain vase which stood upon a table near his
secretary; he sprang hastily from his chair.
"How came this vase here?" he said, in a trembling voice.
"Sire," said the marquis, "the queen-mother, shortly before her
death, ordered this vase to be placed in this room; she prized it
highly--it was a present from her royal brother, George II. Her
majesty wished that, on your return from the war, it might serve as
a remembrance of your fond mother At her command, I placed that
packet of letters at the foot of the vase, after the queen mother
had sealed and addressed it with her dying hand."
Frederick was silent, he bowed his head upon the vase, as if to cool
his burning brow upon its cold, glassy surface. He, perhaps, wished
also to conceal from his friend the tears which rolled slowly down
his cheeks, and fell upon the packet of letters lying before him.
The king kissed the packet reverentially, and examined with a deep
sigh the trembling characters traced by the hand of his beloved
"For my son--the king."
Frederick read the address softly. "Alas! my dear mother, how poor
you have made me. I am now no longer a son--only a king!"
He bowed his head over the packet, and pressed his mother's writing
to his lips, then laid the letters at the foot of the vase and
remained standing thoughtfully before it.
A long pause ensued. Frederick stood with folded arms before the
vase, and the marquis leaned against the door behind him. Suddenly
the king turned to him.
"I beg a favor of you, marquis. Hasten to Berlin, and tell Benda he
must perform the Te Deum of my dear Graun here in the castle chapel
to-morrow morning at nine o'clock. I know the singers of the chapel
can execute it--they gave it once after the battle of Leignitz. Tell
Benda to make no difficulties, for it is my express wish to hear the
music to-morrow morning. I trust to you, marquis, to see my wish
fulfilled, to make the impossible possible, if you find it
necessary. Call me capricious if you will, for desiring to hear this
music to-morrow. I have so long been controlled by stern realities,
that I will allow myself now to yield to a caprice."
He gave his hand to the marquis, who pressed it to his lips.
"Sire, to-morrow morning at nine o'clock the Te Deum shall be
performed in the chapel, should I even be compelled to pass the
night in arousing the musicians from their beds."
The marquis kept his word; he surmounted all difficulties, removed
all objections. In vain Benda declared the organ in the chapel was
out of tune, the performance impossible; the marquis hastened to the
organist and obliged him to put it in order that night. In vain the
singers protested against singing this difficult music before the
king without preparation; D'Argens commanded them in the name of the
king to have a rehearsal during the night. Thanks to his nervous
energy and zeal, the singers assembled, and Benda stood before his
desk to direct this midnight concert.
When the clock struck nine the next morning every difficulty had
been set aside, and every preparation completed. The organist was in
his place, the organ in order; the musicians tuned their
instruments, the singers were prepared, and the chapel-master,
Benda, was in their midst, baton in hand.
All eyes were directed toward the door opposite the choir, through
which the court must enter; all hearts were beating with joyful
expectation--all were anxious to see the king once more in the midst
of his friends, in his family circle. Every one sympathized in the
queen's happiness at being accompanied once more by her husband;
laying aside her loneliness and widowhood, and appearing in public
by his side.
All eyes, as we have said, were impatiently directed toward the
door, waiting for the appearance of their majesties and the court.
Suddenly the door opened. Yes, there was the king. He stepped
forward very quietly, his head a little bowed down; in the midst of
the solemn stillness of the chapel his step resounded loudly.
Yes, it was Frederick the Great, he was alone, accompanied by no
royal state, surrounded by no glittering crowd--but it was the king;
in the glory of his majesty, his endurance, and his valor, radiant
in the splendor of his heroic deeds and his great victories.
Frederick seated himself slowly, gave one quick glance at the choir,
and waved his hand to them. Benda raised his baton and gave the sign
to commence. And now a stream of rich harmony floated through the
chapel. The organ, with its powerful, majestic tones; the trumpets,
with their joyous greeting; the drums, with their thunder, and the
soft, melting tones of the violin and flute, mingled together in
The king, with head erect and eager countenance, listened to the
beautiful and melodious introduction. He seemed to be all ear, to
have no other thought, no other passion than this music, which was
wholly unknown to him. And now, with a powerful accord, the sweetly
attuned human voices joined in, and the choir sang in melting unison
the Te Deum Laudamus, which resounded solemnly, grandly through the
aisles. The king turned pale, and as the hymn of praise became more
full and rich, his head sank back and his eyes were fixed upon the
Louder and fuller rose the solemn tones; suddenly, from the midst of
the choir, a soft, melting tenor sang in a sweet, touching voice,
Tuba mirum spargeus sonum. Frederick's head sank still lower upon
his breast, and at last, no longer able to restrain his tears, he
covered his face with his hands.
The lofty strains of this solemn hymn resounded through the empty
church, which until now had been wrapped in gray clouds, but in a
moment the sun burst from behind the clouds, darted its rays through
the windows, and lighted up the church with golden glory. The king
who, until now, had been in the shadow of the cloud, was as if by
magic bathed in a sea of light. All eyes were fixed upon his bowed
head, his face partially covered with his hands, and the tears
gushing from his eyes.
No one could withstand the silent power of this scene; the eyes of
the singers filled with tears, and they could only continue their
chant in soft, broken, sobbing tones, but Benda was not angry; he
dared not look at them, lest they might see that his own stern eyes
were veiled in tears.
Frederick seemed more and more absorbed in himself--lost in painful
memories. But the loud hosannas resounded and awakened him from his
slumber; he dared no longer give himself up to brooding. He arose
slowly from his seat, and silent and alone, even as he had entered,
he left the church.
Seven years had passed since Prince Henry had left his wife, to
fight with his brother against his enemies. During these long years
of strife and contest, neither the king nor the prince had returned
to Berlin. Like the king, he also had won for himself fame and glory
upon the battle-field. Much more fortunate than his brother, he had
won many victories, and had not sustained a single defeat with his
army corps. More successful in all his undertakings than Frederick,
perhaps also more deliberate and careful, he had always chosen the
right hour to attack the enemy, and was always prepared for any
movement. His thoughtfulness and energy had more than once released
the king from some disagreeable or dangerous position. To the
masterly manner in which Prince Henry managed to unite his forces
with those of his brother after the battle of Kunersdorf, the king
owed his escape from the enemies which then surrounded him. And to
the great and glorious victory gained by Prince Henry over the
troops of the empire and of Austria at Freiberg, the present happy
peace was to be attributed. This battle had subdued the courage of
the Austrians, and had filled the generals of the troops of the
empire with such terror, that they declared at once their
unwillingness to continue the war, and their determination to return
with their forces to their different countries.
The battle of Freiberg was the last battle of the Seven Years' War.
It brought to Prince Henry such laurels as the king had gained at
Leignitz and Torgau; it placed him at his brother's side as an
equal. Frederick saw it without envy or bitterness, and rejoiced in
the fulness of his great soul, in his brother's fame. When he found
himself, for the first time after the Seven Years' War, surrounded
at Berlin by the princes and generals, he advanced with a cordial
smile to his brother, and laying his hand gently on his shoulder,
"You see here, sirs, the only one amongst us all who did not commit
a single mistake during the war!"
Seven years had passed since Prince Henry had seen his young wife,
Princess Wilhelmina. He could at last return to her--to his beloved
Rheinsberg, and find rest after his many years of wandering. He had
written to the princess, and requested her not to meet him in
Berlin, but to find some pretext for remaining at Rheinsberg. His
proud soul could not endure the thought that the woman he loved, who
appeared to him fit to grace the first throne of the world, would
occupy an inferior position at court--would have to stand behind the
queen. He had never envied the king his crown or his position, but
his heart now craved the crown of the queen, for the brow of his own
beautiful wife, who seemed much better fitted to wear it than the
gentle, timid Elizabeth Christine. Princess Wilhelmina had therefore
remained at Rheinsberg, feigning sickness.
It was night! The castle of Rheinsberg glittered with the light of
the torches by which the gates were adorned, to welcome the prince
to his home. The saloons and halls were brilliantly lighted, and in
them a gay, merry crowd was assembled. All the prince's friends and
acquaintances had been invited by Princess Wilhelmina to greet his
Every thing in the castle bore the appearance of happiness--all
seemed gay and cheerful. But still, there was one whose heart was
beating anxiously at the thought of the approaching hour--it was the
Princess Wilhelmina. She was gorgeously dressed; diamonds glittered
on her brow and throat, bright roses gleamed upon her breast, and a
smile was on her full, red lips. No one knew the agony this smile
cost her! No one knew that the red which burned upon her cheek was
caused, not by joy, but terror!
Yes, terror! She was afraid of this meeting, in which she was to
receive the prince as her loved husband, while, during the long
years of absence, he had become a perfect stranger to her. Not even
bound to him by the daily occurrences of life, she had no sympathies
with the husband who had been forced upon her, and who had once
contemptuously put aside the timid heart that was then prepared to
love him. This stranger she was now to meet with every sign of love,
because he had one day waked up to the conviction that the heart he
had once spurned was worthy of him. It was her duty now to return
this love--to consecrate the rich treasures of her heart to him who
had once scorned them. Her soul rose in arms at this thought like an
insulted lioness, and she felt some of that burning hatred that the
lioness feels for her master who wishes to tame her with an iron
rod. The prince was to her but her master, who had bound and held
her heart in irons, to keep it from escaping from him.
During these seven long years, she had experienced all the freedom
and happiness of girlhood; her heart had beat with a power, a fire
condemned by the princess herself, but which she was incapable of
Trembling and restless, she wandered through the rooms, smiling when
she would have given worlds to have shrieked out her pain, her
agony; decked in splendid garments, when she would gladly have been
in her shroud. Every sound every step, filled her with terror, for
it might announce the arrival of her husband, whom she must welcome
with hypocritical love and joy. Could she but show him her scorn,
her hatred, her indifference! But the laws of etiquette held her in
their stern bonds and would not release her. She was a princess, and
could not escape from the painful restraints of her position. She
had not the courage to do so. At times in her day-dreams, she longed
to leave all the cold, deceitful glare, by which she was surrounded-
-to go to some far distant valley, and there to live alone and
unknown, by the side of her lover, where no etiquette would disturb
their happiness--where she would be free as the birds of the air, as
careless as the flowers of the field. But these wild dreams vanished
when the cold, cruel reality appeared to her. By the side of the
once loving woman stood again the princess, who could not surrender
the splendor and magnificence by which she was surrounded. She had
not the courage nor the wish to descend from her height to the daily
life of common mortals. There was dissension in her soul between the
high-born princess and the loving, passionate woman. She was capable
of making any and every sacrifice for her love, but she had never
openly confessed this love, and even in her wildest dreams she had
never thought of changing her noble name and position for those of
her lover. She could have fled with him to some distant valley, but
would she be happy? Would she not regret her former life? Princess
Wilhelmina felt the dissension in her soul, and therefore she
trembled at the thought of her husband's return. This meeting would
decide her whole future. Perhaps she could still be saved. The
prince, returning covered with fame and crowned with laurels, might
now win her love, and drive from her heart every other thought. But
if he cannot win it--if his return is not sufficient to loosen the
chains which bind her--then she was lost--then she could not resist
the intoxicating whispers luring her to ruin.
These were Princess Wilhelmina's thoughts as she leaned against a
window of the brilliant ball-room, the protection of whose heavy
curtains she had sought to drive for a moment from her face the gay
smile and to breathe out the sighs that were almost rending her
heart. She was gazing at the dark night without--at the bright,
starry sky above. Her lips moved in a low prayer--her timid soul
turned to God with its fears.
"O God, my God!" murmured she, "stand by me. Take from me the sinful
thoughts that fill my heart. Make me to love my husband. Keep my
soul free from shame and sin."
Hasty steps, loud, merry voices from the hall, disturbed her dreams.
She left her retreat, meeting everywhere gay smiles and joyous
faces. At the door stood the prince her husband. He advanced eagerly
to her side, and ignoring etiquette and the gay assemblage alike he
pressed the princess to his heart and kissed her on both cheeks.
Wilhelmina drew from him in deadly terror, and a burning anger
filled her heart. Had she loved the prince, this public
demonstration of his tenderness would perhaps have pleased and
surely been forgiven by her. As it was, she took his embrace and
kisses as an insult, which was only to be endured by compulsion--for
which she would surely revenge herself.
Prince Henry was so joyous, so happy at meeting his wife once more,
that he did not notice her embarrassed silence, her stiff
haughtiness, and thought she shared his joy, his delight.
This confidence seemed to the princess presumptuous and humiliating.
She confessed to herself that the prince's manners were not in the
least improved by hia long campaign--that they were somewhat
brusque. He took her hand tenderly; leading her to a divan, and
seated himself beside her, but suddenly jumping up he left her, and
returned in a few moments with his friend Count Kalkreuth.
"Permit me, Wilhelmina," said he, "to introduce to you again my dear
friend and companion in arms. Men say I have won some fame, but I
assure you that if it is true, Kalkreuth deserves the largest share,
for he was the gardener who tended my laurels with wise and prudent
hands. I commend him, therefore, to your kindness and friendship,
Wilhelmina, and beg you to evince for him a part of that affection
you owe to me, and which causes my happiness."
There was something so noble, so open, and knightly in the prince's
manner, that Count Kalkreuth, deeply touched, thought in his heart
for a moment that he would not deceive this noblo friend with
treachery and faithlessness.
The prince's words had a different effect upon the princess. Instead
of being touched by his great confidence in her, she was insulted.
It indicated great arrogance and self-conceit to be so sure of her
love as to see no danger, but to bring his friend to her and commend
him to her kindness. It humiliated her for the prince to speak with
such confidence of her affection as of a thing impossible to lose.
She determined, therefore, to punish him. With a bright smile, she
held out her hand to the count, and said to him a few kind words of
welcome. How she had trembled at the thought of this meeting--how
she had blushed at the thought of standing beside the count with the
conviction that not one of her words was forgotten--that the
confession of love she had made to the departing soldier belonged
now to the returned nobleman! But her husband's confidence had shorn
the meeting of all its terror, and made the road she had to travel
The count bowed deeply before her and pressed her hand to his lips.
She returned the pressure of his hand, and, as he raised his head
and fixed an almost imploring glance upon her, he encountered her
eyes beaming with unutterable love.
The court assembly stood in groups, looking with cold, inquisitive
eyes at the piquant scene the prince in the innocence of his heart
had prepared for them--which was to them an inimitable jest, an
excellent amusement. They all knew--what the prince did not for a
moment suspect--that Count Kalkreuth adored the princess. They now
desired to see if this love was returned by the princess, or
suffered by her as a coquette.
None had gazed at this scene with such breathless sympathy, such
cruel joy, as Madame du Trouffle. Being one of the usual circle at
Rheinsberg, she had been invited by the princess to the present
fete, and it seemed to her very amusing to receive her own husband,
not at their home, but at the castle of her former lover. Major du
Trouffle was on the prince's staff, and had accompanied him to
Louise had not as yet found time to greet her husband. Her glance
was fixed eagerly upon the princess; she noticed her every movement,
her every look; she watched every smile, every quiver of her lip.
Her husband stood at her side--he had been there for some time,
greeting her in low, tender words--but Louise did not attend to him.
She seemed not to see him; her whole soul was in her eyes, and they
were occupied with the princess. Suddenly she turns her sparkling
eyes upon her husband and murmurs. "He is lost! His laurels will be
insufficient to cover the brand which from to-day on will glow upon
his brow!" Her husband looked at her in amazement.
"Is this your welcome, after seven long years of absence, Louise?"
said he, sadly.
She laid her hand hastily upon his arm, saying, "Hush, hush!" Once
more she gazed at the princess, who was talking and laughing gayly
with her husband and Count Kalkreuth. "How her cheeks glow, and what
tender glances she throws him!" murmured Louise. "Ah! the prince has
fallen a victim to his ingenuousness! Verily, he is again praising
the merits of his friend. He tells her how Kalkreuth saved his life-
-how he received the blow meant for his own head. Poor prince! You
will pay dearly for the wound Kalkreuth received for you. I said,
and I repeat it--he is lost!"
Her husband looked at her as if he feared she had gone mad during
his absence. "Of whom do you speak, Louise?" whispered he. "What do
you mean? Will you not speak one word of welcome to me to convince
me that you know me--that I have not become a stranger to you?" The
princess now arose from her seat, and leaning on her husband's arm
she passed through the room, talking merrily with Count Kalkreuth at
her side. "They have gone to the conservatory," said Louise,
grasping her husband's arm. "We will also go and find some quiet,
deserted place where we can talk undisturbed."
MOTHER AND DAUGHTER.
Louise du Trouffle drew her husband onward, and they both followed
silently the great crowd which was now entering the splendidly
illuminated conservatories. The view offered to the eye was superb.
You seemed to be suddenly transplanted as if by magic from the
stiff, ceremonious court-saloons into the fresh, fragrant, blooming
world of nature. You breathed with rapture the odor of those rare
and lovely flowers which were arranged in picturesque order between
the evergreen myrtles and oranges. The windows, and indeed the
ceiling were entirely covered with vines, and seemed to give color
to the illusion that you were really walking in an open alley.
Colored Chinese balloons attached to fine chains, fell from the
ceiling, and seemed to float like gay butterflies between the trees
and flowers. They threw their soft, faint, many-colored lights
through these enchanting halls, on each side of which little
grottoes had been formed by twining together myrtles, palms, and
fragrant bushes. Each one of these held a little grass-plot, or
green divan, and these were so arranged that the branches of the
palms were bent down over the seats, and concealed those who rested
there behind a leafy screen.
To one of these grottoes Louise now led her husband. "We will rest
here awhile," said she. "This grotto has one advantage--it lies at
the corner of the wall and has but one open side, and leafy bushes
are thickly grouped about it. We have no listeners to fear, and may
chat together frankly and harmlessly. And now, first of all,
welcome, my husband--welcome to your home!"
"God be thanked, Louise--God be thanked that you have at last known
how to speak one earnest word, and welcome me to your side! Believe
me, when I say that through all these weary years, each day I have
rejoiced at the thought of this moment. It has been my refreshment
and my consolation. I truly believe that the thought of you and my
ardent desire to see you was a talisman which kept death afar off.
It seemed to me impossible to die without seeing you once more. I
had a firm conviction that I would live through the war and return
to you. Thus I defied the balls of the enemy, and have returned to
repose on your heart, my beloved wife--after the storms and
hardships of battle to fold you fondly in my arms and never again to
leave you." He threw his arms around her waist, and pressed his lips
with a tender kiss upon her mouth.
Louise suffered this display of tenderness for one moment, then
slipped lightly under his arms and retreated a few steps.
"Do you know," said she, with a low laugh, "that was a true,
respectable husband's kiss; without energy and without fire; not too
cold, not too warm--the tepid, lukewarm tenderness of a husband who
really loves his wife, and might be infatuated about her, if she had
not the misfortune to be his wife?"
"Ah! you are still the old Louise," said the major merrily; "still
the gay, coquettish, unsteady butterfly, who, with its bright,
variegated wings, knows how to escape, even when fairly caught in
the toils. I love you just as you are, Louise; I rejoice to find you
just what I left you. You will make me young again, child; by your
side I will learn again to laugh and be happy. We have lost the
power to do either amidst the fatigues and hardships of our rude
"Yes, yes," said Louise; "we dismissed you, handsome, well-formed
cavaliers, and you return to us clumsy, growling bears; good-humored
but savage pets, rather too willing to learn again to dance and
sing. The only question is, will the women consent to become bear-
leaders, and teach the uncultivated pets their steps?"
"Well, they will be obliged to do this," said the major, laughing.
"It is their duty."
"Dear friend, if you begin already to remind us of our duty, I fear
your cause is wholly lost. Come, let us sit here awhile upon this
grass plot and talk together."
"Yes, you will be seated, but I do not see exactly why we should
talk together. I would much rather close your laughing, rosy lips
with kisses." He drew her to his side, and was about to carry out
this purpose, but Louise waved him off.
"If you do not sit perfectly quiet by my side," said she, "I will
unfold the gay wings, of which you have just spoken, and fly far
"Well, then, I will sit quietly; but may I not be permitted to ask
my shy prudish mistress why I must do so?"
"Why? Well, because I wish to give my savage pet his first lecture
after his return. The lecture begins thus: When a man remains absent
from his wife seven years, he has no right to return as a calm,
confident, self-assured husband, with his portion of home-baked
tenderness; he should come timidly, as a tender, attentive,
enamoured cavalier, who woos his mistress and draws near to her
humbly, tremblingly, and submissively--not looking upon her as his
wife, but as the fair lady whose love he may hope to win."
"But why, Louise, should we take refuge in such dissimulation, when
we are assured of your love?"
"You are assured of nothing! How can you be so artless as to believe
that these seven years have passed by and left no trace, and that we
feel exactly to-day as we did before this fearful war? When you have
opened the door and given liberty to the bird whose wings you have
cut, and whose wild heart you have tamed in a cage; when the captive
flies out into the fresh, free air of God, floats merrily along in
the midst of rejoicing, laughing Nature--will he, after years have
passed, will lie, if you shall please to wish once more to imprison
him, return willingly to his cage? I believe you would have to
entice him a long time--to whisper soft, loving, flattering words,
and place in the cage the rarest dainties before you could induce
him to yield up his golden freedom, and to receive you once more as
his lord and master. But if you seek to arrest him with railing and
threats--with wise and grave essays on duty and constancy--he will
swing himself on the lofty branch of a tree, so high that you cannot
follow, and whistle at you!"
"You are right, I believe," said Du Trouffle, thoughtfully. "I see
to-day a new talent in you, Louise; you have become a philosopher."
"Yes, and I thirst to bring my wisdom to bear against a man," said
Louise, laughingly. "I hope you will profit by it! Perhaps it may
promote your happiness, and enable you to recapture your bird. You
will not at least make shipwreck on the breakers against which the
good prince dashed his head to-day: he was wounded and bleeding, and
will carry the mark upon his brow as long as he lives."
"What has he done which justifies so melancholy a prognostication?"
"What has he done? He returned to his wife, not as a lover but as a
husband; he did not kiss her hand tremblingly and humbly and
timidly--seek to read in her glance if she were inclined to favor
him; he advanced with the assurance of a conquering hero, and before
the whole world he gave her a loud, ringing kiss, which resounded
like the trump of victory. The good prince thought that because the
outside war was at an end and you had made peace with your enemies,
all other strifes and difficulties had ceased, and you had all
entered upon an epoch of everlasting happiness; that, by the sides
of your fond and faithful wives, you had nothing to do but smoke the
calumet of peace. But he made a great and dangerous mistake, and he
will suffer for it. I tell you, friend, the war which you have just
closed was less difficult, less alarming than the strife which will
now be carried on in your families. The wicked foe has abandoned the
battle-field to you, but he is crouched down upon your hearths and
awaits you at the sides of your wives and daughters."
"Truly, Louise, your words, make me shudder! and my heart, which was
beating so joyfully, seems now to stand still."
Louise paid no attention to his words, but went on:
"You say the war is at an end. I believe it has just begun. It will
be carried on fiercely in every house, in every family; many hearts
will break, many wounds be given, and many tears be shed before we
snail have household peace. All those fond ties which united men and
women, parents and children, have been shaken, or torn apart; all
contracts are destroyed or undermined. In order to endure, to live
through these fearful seven years, every one gave himself up to
frivolity--the terrible consequence is, that the whole world has
become light-minded and frivolous. We do not look upon life with the
same eyes as formerly. To enjoy the present moment--to snatch that
chance of happiness from the fleeting hour, which the next hour is
chasing and may utterly destroy--seems the only aim. Love is an
amusement, constancy a phantom, in which no one believes--which is
only spoken of in nursery fairy tales. The women have learned, by
experience, that their husbands and lovers did not die of longing to
see them; that they themselves, after the tears of separation, which
perhaps flowed freely a long time, were once quenched, could live on
alone; that independence had its bright side and was both agreeable
and comfortable. The history of the widow of Ephesus is repeated
every day, my friend. The women wept and were melancholy a long time
after the separation from their husbands, but at last they could not
close their ears to the sweet, soft words of consolation which were
whispered to them; at last they realized that incessant weeping and
mourning had its wearisome and monotonous side, that the dreary time
flew more swiftly if they sought to amuse themselves and be happy.
They allowed themselves to be comforted, in the absence of their
husbands, by their lovers, and they felt no reproach of conscience;
for they were convinced that their truant husbands were doing the
same thing in their long separation--were making love to 'the lips
that were near.'"
"Did you think and act thus, Louisa?" said Major du Trouffle, in a
sad and anxious tone, looking his wife firmly in the eye.
Louisa laughed with calm and unconcern.
"My friend," said she, "would I have told all this to you, if I had
committed the faults I charge upon others? I have been inactive but
observant; that has been my amusement, my only distraction, and my
observations have filled me with amazement and abhorrence. I have
drawn from these sources profound and philosophic lessons. I have
studied mankind, and with full conviction I can assure you the war
is not at an end, and, instead of the palm of peace, the apple of
discord will flourish. Men no longer believe in constancy or
honesty, every man suspects his neighbor and holds him guilty, even
as he knows himself to be guilty. Every woman watches the conduct of
other women with malicious curiosity; she seems to herself less
guilty when she finds that others are no better than herself; and
when, unhappily, she does not find that her friend is false or
faithless, she will try to make her appear so; if the truth will not
serve her purpose, she will, by slander and scandal, draw a veil
over her own sins. Never was there as much treachery and crime as
now. Calumny stands before every door, and will whisper such evil
and fearful things in the ears of every returned soldier, that he
will become wild with rage, and distrust his wife, no matter how
innocent she may be."
"I shall not be guilty of this fault," said Major du Trouffle. "If I
find slander lying in wait at my door, I will kick it from me and
enter my home calmly and smilingly, without having listened to her
whispers, or, if I have heard them involuntarily, without believing
"Then there will be at least one house in Berlin where peace will
reign," said Louise, sweetly, "and that house will be ours. I
welcome you in the name of our lares, who have been long joyfully
awaiting you. I have also an agreeable surprise for you."
"What surprise, Louise?"
"You often told me that my daughter Camilla disturbed your
happiness, that she stood like a dark cloud over my past, which had
not belonged to you."
"It is true! I could not force my heart to love her; her presence
reminded me always that you had been loved by another, had belonged
to another, and had been made thoroughly wretched."
"Well then, friend, this cloud has been lifted up, and this is the
surprise which awaited your return home. Camilla has been married
more than a year."
"Married'" cried the major, joyfully; "who is the happy man that has
undertaken to tame this wilful child, and warm her cold heart?"
"Ask rather, who is the unhappy man who was enamoured with this
lovely face, and has taken a demon for an angel?" sighed Louise. "He
is a young, distinguished, and wealthy Englishman, Lord Elliot, an
attache of the English embassy, who fulfilled the duties of minister
during the absence of the ambassador, Lord Mitchel, who was
generally at the headquarters of the king."
"And Camilla, did she love him?"
Louise shrugged her shoulders.
"When he made his proposals, she declared herself ready to marry
him; but, I believe, his presence was less agreeable and interesting
to her than the splendid gifts he daily brought her."
"But, Louise, it was her free choice to marry him? You did not
persuade her? you did not, I hope, in order to humor my weakness,
induce her by entreaties and representations to marry against her
"My friend," said Louise, with the proud air of an injured mother,
"however fondly I may have loved you, I would not have sacrificed
for you the happiness of an only child. Camilla asked my consent to
her marriage after she had obtained her father's permission, and I
gave it. The marriage took place three days after the engagement,
and the young pair made a bridal-trip to England, from which they
returned a few months since."
"And where are they now?"
"They live in Berlin in an enchanting villa, which Lord Elliot has
converted into a palace for his young wife. You will see them this
evening, for they are both here, and--"
Louise ceased to speak; a well-known voice interrupted the silence,
and drew nearer and nearer. "Ah," whispered she, lightly, "the
proverb is fulfilled, 'Speak of the wolf, and he appears.' That is
Lord Elliot and Camilla speaking with such animation. Let us listen
The youthful pair had now drawn near, and stood just before the
"I find it cruel, very cruel, to deny me every innocent pleasure,"
said Camilla, with a harsh, displeased voice. "I must live like a
nun who has taken an eternal vow; I am weary of it."
"Oh, my Camilla, you slander yourself when you say this; you are not
well, and you must be prudent. I know you better than you know
yourself, my Camilla. Your heart, which is clear and transparent as
crystal, lies ever unveiled before me, and I listen with devout love
to its every pulse. I am sure that you do not wish to dance to-day,
"I wish to dance, and I will dance, because it gives me pleasure."
"Because you are like a sweet child and like the angels," said Lord
Elliot, eagerly; "your heart is gay and innocent. You are like a
fluttering Cupid, sleeping in flower-cups and dreaming of stars and
golden sunshine; you know nothing of earthly and prosaic thoughts. I
must bind your wings, my beauteous butterfly, and hold you down in
the dust of this poor, pitiful world. Wait, only wait till you are
well; when your health is restored, you shall be richly repaid for
all your present self-denial. Every day I will procure you new
pleasures, prepare you new _fetes_; you shall dance upon carpets of
roses like an elfin queen."
"You promise me that?" said Camilla; "you promise me that you will
not prevent my dancing as much and as gayly as I like?"
"I promise you all this, Camilla, if you will only not dance now."
"Well," sighed she, "I agree to this; but I fear that my cousin,
Count Kindar, will be seriously displeased if I suddenly refuse him
the dance I promised him."
"He will excuse you, sweetheart, when I beg him to do so," said Lord
Elliot, with a soft smile. "I will seek him at once, and make your
excuses. Be kind enough to wait for me here, I will return
immediately." He kissed her fondly upon the brow, and hastened off.
Camilla looked after him and sighed deeply; then, drawing back the
long leaves of the palm, she entered the grotto; she stepped hastily
back when she saw that the green divan was occupied, and tried to
withdraw, but her mother held her and greeted her kindly. Camilla
laughed aloud. "Ah, mother, it appears as if I am to be ever in your
way; although I no longer dwell in your house, I still disturb your
pleasures. But I am discreet; let your friend withdraw; I will not
see him, I will not know his name, and when my most virtuous husband
returns, he will find only two modest gentlewomen. Go, sir; I will
turn away, that I may not see you."
"I rather entreat you, my dear Camilla, to turn your lovely face
toward me, and to greet me kindly," said Major du Trouffle, stepping
from behind the shadow of the palm, and giving his hand to Camilla.
She gazed at him questioningly, and when at last she recognized him,
she burst out into a merry peal of laughter. "Truly," said she, "my
mother had a rendezvous with her husband, and I have disturbed an
enchanting marriage chirping. You have also listened to my married
chirp, and know all my secrets. Well, what do you say, dear
stepfather, to my mother having brought me so soon under the coif,
and made her wild, foolish little Camilla the wife of a lord?"
"I wish you happiness with my whole soul, dear Camilla, and rejoice
to hear from your mother that you have made so excellent a choice,
and are the wife of so amiable and intellectual a man."
"So, does mamma say that Lord Elliot is all that? She may be right,
I don't understand these things. I know only that I find his
lordship unspeakably wearisome, that I do not understand a word of
his intellectual essays, though my lord declares that I know every
thing, that I understand every thing, and have a most profound
intellect. Ah, dear stepfather, it is a terrible misfortune to be so
adored and worshipped as I am; I am supposed to be an angel, who by
some rare accident has fallen upon the earth."
"Truly a misfortune, for which all other women would envy you," said
the major, laughing.
"Then they would make a great mistake," sighed Camilla. "I for my
part am weary of this homage; I have no desire to be, I will not
consent to be an angel; I wish only to be a beautiful, rich young
woman and to enjoy my life--. Do what I will, my husband looks at
every act of folly from an ideal stand-point, and finds thus new
material for worship; he will force me at last to some wild, insane
act in order to convince him that I am no angel, but a weak child of
"You were almost in the act of committing such a folly this
evening," said her mother, sternly.
"Ah, you mean that I wished to dance. But only think, mamma, with
whom I wished to dance, with my cousin, whom all the world calls
'the handsome Kindar,' and who dances so gloriously, that it is a
delight to see him, and bliss to float about with him. He only
returned this evening, and he came at once to me and greeted me so
lovingly, so tenderly; you know, mamma, we have always loved each
other fondly. When I told him I was married, he turned pale and
looked at me so sorrowfully, and tears were in his eyes. Oh, mamma,
why was I obliged to wed Lord Elliot, who is so grave, so wise, so
learned, so virtuous, and with whom it is ever wearisome? Why did
you not let me wait till Kindar returned, who is so handsome, so
gay, so ignorant, before whom I should never have been forced to
blush, no matter how foolish I had been, and with whom I should
never have been weary?"
"But how did you know that the handsome Kindar wished to marry you?"
said Louise, laughing.
"Oh, yes, mamma, I knew it well; he has often told me so, even when
I was a little girl and he was a cadet. This dreadful war is the
cause of all my misery; it led to his promotion, then he must join
his regiment; then, alas! I must marry another before his return."
"Yes, but a noble, intellectual, and honorable cavalier, who does
honor to your choice," said Du Trouffle.
"Lord Elliot has red hair, squints with both eyes, and is so long
and meagre that he looks more like an exclamation-point than a man.
When he appears before me in his yellow-gray riding costume, I am
always reminded of the great windspeil you gave me once, stepfather,
who had such long, high legs, I used to creep under them; and when
he lies like a windspeil at my feet, and squints at me, his eyes
seem tied up in knots, and I never know if he is really looking at
me, or is about to fall into a swoon. Now, stepfather, do you not
find that Lord Elliot does honor to my taste?"
"Certainly, and all the more because your choice proves that you
appreciate the true dignity and beauty of a man, and his outward
appearance seems to you comparatively insignificant."
"Alas, alas! now you begin also to attribute noble and exalted
motives to me," said Camilla pathetically. "No, no, stepfather, I am
not so sublime as you think, and I should not have married Lord
Elliot if mamma and myself had not both indulged the ardent wish to
be released from each other. Mamma is too young and too beautiful to
be willing to have a grown-up daughter who is not ugly by her side,
and I was too old to be locked up any longer in the nursery, so I
stepped literally from the nursery to the altar, and became the wife
of Lord Elliot; so mamma and myself were freed from the presence of
each other, and I thought that a time of joy and liberty would bloom
for me. But, alas, I have only changed my cage; formerly I was
confined in a nursery, now my prison is a temple, because my husband
says I am too elevated, too angelic to come in contact with the
pitiful world. Ah. I long so for the world; I am so thirsty for its
pleasures, I would so gladly take full draughts of joy from its
golden cup! My husband comes and offers me a crystal shell, filled
with heavenly dew and ether dust, which is, I suppose, angels' food,
but he does not remark that I am hungering and thirsting to death.
Like King Midas, before whose thirsty lips every thing turned to
gold, and who was starving in the midst of all his glory, I beseech
you, stepfather, undertake the role of the barber, bore a hole and
cry out in it that I have ass's ears--ears as long as those of King
Midas. Perhaps the rushes would grow again and make known to my lord
the simple fact, which up to this time he refuses to believe, that I
am indeed no angel, and he would cease to worship me, and allow me
to be gay and happy upon the earth like every other woman. But come,
come, stepfather, I hear the earnest voice of my husband in
conversation with my merry, handsome cousin. Let us go to meet them,
and grant me the pleasure of introducing Lord Elliot to you--not
here, but in the brilliantly lighted saloon. Afterward I will ask
you, on your word of honor, if you still find I have made a happy
choice, and if my windspeil of a husband is of more value than my
She took the arm of the major with a gay smile, and tried to draw
"But your mother," said Du Trouffle, "you forget your mother?"
"Listen now, mamma, how cruel he is, always reminding you that you
are my mother; that is as much as to say to you, in other words,
that you will soon be a grandmother. Mamma, I could die of laughter
to think of you as a grandmother. I assure you, mamma, that in the
midst of all my sorrows and disappointments this thought is the only
thing which diverts and delights me. Only think, I shall soon make
you a worthy grandmother. Say now, grandmother, will you come with
"No, I will remain here, your gayety has made me sad--I do not feel
fit for society. I will await my husband here, and we will return to
"Adieu, then, mamma," said Camilla, rapidly drawing the major
Louise du Trouffle remained alone in the grotto; she leaned her head
against the palm-tree, and looked sorrowfully after the retreating
form of her daughter. It seemed to her that a shudder passed through
her soul; that a cold, dead hand was laid upon her heart, as if a
phantom pressed against her, and a voice whispered: "This is thy
work. Oh, mother worthy of execration, you alone have caused the
destruction of your daughter; through you that soul is lost, which
God intrusted to you, and which was endowed with the germ of great
and noble qualities. It was your duty to nourish and build them up.
God will one day call you to account, and ask this precious soul of
you, which you have poisoned by your evil example, which is lost--
lost through you alone."
Louise shuddered fearfully, then rousing herself she tried to shake
off these fearful thoughts, and free herself from the stern voices
which mastered her. They had so often spoken, so often awaked her in
the middle of the night, driven sleep from her couch, and tortured
her conscience with bitter reproaches!
Louise knew well this gray phantom which was ever behind her or at
her side; ever staring at her with dark and deadly earnestness, even
in the midst of her mirth and joyousness; the harsh voice was often
so loud that Louise was bewildered by it, and could not hear the
ring of joy and rapture which surrounded her. She knew that this
pale spectre was conscience; press it down as she would, the busy
devil was ever mounting, mounting. But she would not listen, she
rushed madly on after new distractions, new pleasures; she quenched
the warning voice under shouts of mirth and levity; she threw
herself in the arms of folly and worldly pleasures, and then for
long months she escaped this threatening phantom, which, with raised
finger, stood behind her, which seemed to chase her, and from which
she ever fled to new sins and new guilt. Sometimes she had a feeling
as if Death held her in his arms, and turned her round in a wild and
rapid dance, not regarding her prayers, or her panting, gasping
breath; she would, oh how gladly, have rested; gladly have laid down
in some dark and quiet corner, away from this wild gayety. But she
could not escape from those mysterious arms which held her captive
in their iron clasp, which rushed onward with her in the death-dance
of sin. She must go onward, ever onward, in this career of vice; she
must ever again seek intoxication in the opium of sin, to save
herself from the barren, colorless nothingness which awaited her;
from that worst of all evils, the weariness with which the old
coquette paints the terrible future, in which even she can no longer
please; in which old age with a cruel hand sweeps away the flowers
from the hair and the crimson from the cheek, and points out to the
mocking world the wrinkles on the brow and the ashes in the hair.
"It is cold here," said Louise, shuddering, and springing up quickly
from the grass-plot--"it is cold here, and lonely; I will return to
the saloon. Perhaps--"