Part 20 out of 22
She went slowly back, revolving in her mind what she should do.
Unconsciously she paused before a table resplendent with trinkets, whose
surpassing beauty seemed to woo the young girl to her fate. But Rachel
was no longer a maiden to be allured by dress. The exigencies of the
hour had transformed her into a brave woman, who was donning her armor
and preparing for the fight.
"Gunther awaits me," said she, musing.
But why--where? that she could not say. But she felt that she must free
herself from prison, and that her fate now lay in her own hands.
At that moment she stood before a large round table which was just under
the principal chandelier of her superb reception-room. Here lay dainty
boxes containing laces, and caskets enclosing jewels. Not for one moment
did she think of their contents. She saw but the gilt letters which were
impressed upon the red morocco cases.
"RACHEL VON MEYER" was on every box and case. In her father's mind she
already bore another name.
"Rachel von Meyer!" said she, with a shudder. "My father denies me his
name! Who, then, am I?"
A flush of modest shame overspread her face, as scarcely daring to
articulate the words, she knelt, and murmured:
"I am Rachel Gunther. And if such be my name," continued she, after a
pause of rapture, "I have no right to be here amid the treasures of the
Baroness von Meyer. I must away from this house, which is no longer a
home for me. Away, away! for Gunther awaits me."
And now she looked with despair at the locked doors and the lofty
windows, so far, far from the ground.
"Oh, if I had but wings!--I, who am here a prisoner, while my heart is
away with him!"
Suddenly she gave a start, for deliverance was possible. She looked from
the window as if to measure its height, and then she darted through the
rooms until she saw a table covered with silks. She took thence a roll
of white, heavy ribbon, and, throwing it before her, exclaimed joyfully:
"It is long, oh, it is quite long enough. And strong enough to support
me. Thank Heaven! it is dark, and I shall not he seen. A gold ducat will
bribe the guard at the postern--and then I am free!"
She returned to her sitting-room, and, with trembling haste, threw a
dark mantle around her. Then, looking up at her father's portrait, her
eyes filled with bitter tears.
"Farewell, my father, farewell!"
Scarcely knowing what she did, she fled from her room, and returned to
the only object which possessed any more interest for her there, the
long, long ribbon which, like a gigantic serpent, lay glistening on the
floor where she had unrolled it. She stooped to pick it up, and trailing
it after her, she flew from room to room, until she came to the last one
of the suite which overlooked the park. She opened a window, and
Nothing was heard there save the "warbling wind," that wooed the young
branches, and here and there a little bird that ventured its note upon
Rachel secured the ribbon to the crosswork of the window, and then let
it fall below. Once more she listened. She could almost hear the
beatings of her own heart, but nothing else broke the silence of the
She gave one quick glance around her beautiful home were lay all the
splendor that might have been hers, and grasping the ribbon firmly in
her hands, she dropped from the window to the ground.
THE MARRIAGE BEFORE GOD.
Gunther had returned from the palace to his own lodgings in the city.
Here, the labors of the day over, he sat dreaming of his love, wondering
whether she thought of him during these dreary weeks of their forced
He had stretched himself upon a divan, and, with his head thrown back
upon the cushion, he gave himself up to thoughts of that love which was
at once the greatest grief and the greatest joy of his life.
"Will it ever end?" thought he. "Will she ever consent to leave that
princely home for me?"
Sometimes a cloud came over his handsome, noble features, sometimes the
sunlight of happiness broke over them, and then he smiled. And on he
dreamed, happy or unhappy, as he fancied that Rachel was his, or was
parted from him forever.
The door-bell rang with a clang that startled him. But what to him was
the impatience of those who sought admittance to his house? He had
almost begun to fancy that Rachel was before him, and he was vexed at
Meanwhile, the door of his room had been softly opened, but Gunther had
not heard it. He heard or saw nothing but his peerless Rachel. She was
there with her lustrous eyes, her silky hair, her pale and beautiful
features. She was there.
What! Did he dream? She was before him, but paler than her wont, her
dark eyes fixed upon him with a pleading look, her lithe figure swaying
from side to side, as with uncertain footsteps she seemed to be
approaching his couch. Good God! Was it an apparition? What had
Gunther started to his feet, and cried out, "O my Rachel, my beloved!"
"It is I," said she, in a faltering voice. "Before you take me to your
heart, hear me, Gunther. I have fled from my father's house forever--for
he would have sold me to a man whom I abhor, and whom I could never have
married, had my heart been free. I bring neither gold nor jewels. I come
to you a beggar--my inheritance a father's curse, my dowry naught but my
love and faith. So dowered and so portioned, will you take me, Gunther?"
Gunther looked upon his love with eyes wherein she must have read
consolation for all her trials, for her sweet lips parted with a happy
"My treasure!" was his reply, as he took her little trembling hand, and
pressed it fondly within his own. "Come, my Rachel, come and see how I
have longed for this day."
He drew her forward, and opened a door opposite to the one by which she
"Come, your home is ready, my own."
They entered together, and Rachel found herself in a drawing-room where
taste and elegance amply atoned for the absence of splendor.
"Now, see your sitting-room."
Nothing could be more cheerful or homelike than the appointments of this
cosy apartment, lighted like the drawing-room by a tasteful chandelier.
"There," said Gtinther, pointing to a door, "is your dressing-room, and
within, your chamber, my Rachel. For six months this dwelling has
awaited its mistress, and that she might never enter it unawares, it has
been nightly lighted for her coming. I was almost tempted to despair,
beloved. You have saved me from a discouragement that was undermining my
health. Now you are here, and all is well. When shall the priest bless
our nuptials! This very night, shall he not, my bride?"
"He can never bless them," replied Rachel, solemnly.
Gunther turned pale.
"Never? You have not, then, come to be my wife?"
"I cannot be your wife according to human rites, Gunther, for well you
know that I have sworn never to become a Christian. But I am yours for
time and eternity, and knowing my own heart, I accept the world's scorn
for your dear sake. Earth refuses to bless our nuptials, but God will
hear our vows. Gunther, will you reject me because I am a Jewess?"
Gunther imprinted a kiss upon her forehead, and sank on his knees before
"Rachel," said he, raising his right hand to heaven, "I swear to love
you for better or for worse, devoting my life to your happiness. On my
knees I swear before God to honor you as my wife, and to be faithful and
true to you until death does us part."
Rachel then knelt at his side, and, laying her hand in his repeated her
vows. Then they kissed each other, and Gunther, taking her in his arms,
pressed her to his throbbing heart.
"We are husband and wife," said he. "God has received our vows, and now,
Rachel, you are mine, for He has blessed and sanctioned your entrance
into my house!"
The first days of a smiling spring had filled the park with hundreds of
splendid equipages and prancing horsemen. There was the carriage of the
Princess Esterhazy, with twenty outriders in the livery of the prince;
that of the new Prince Palm, whose four black horses wore their harness
of pure gold; there was the gilded fairy, like vis-a-vis of the
beautiful Countess Thun, its panels decorated with paintings from the
hands of one of the first artists of the day; the coach of the Countess
Dietrichstein, drawn by four milk-white horses, whose delicate pasterns
were encircled by jewelled bracelets worthy of glittering upon the arm
of a beauty. In short, the aristocracy of Austria, Hungary, and Lombardy
were there, in all the splendor of their wealth and rank. It seemed as
though Spring were holding a levee, and the nobles of the empire had
thronged her flowery courts.
Not only they, but the people, too, had come to greet young Spring. They
crowded the footpaths, eager to scent the balmy air, to refresh their
eyes with the sight of the velvet turf, and to enjoy the pageant
presented to their wondering eyes by the magnificent turn-outs of the
aristocracy. Thousands and thousands filled the alleys and outlets of
the park, all directing their steps toward the centre, for there the
emperor and his court were to be seen. There the people might gaze, in
close proximity, at the dainty beauties, whom they knew as the denizens
of another earthly sphere; there they might elbow greatness, and there,
above all, they might feast their eyes upon the emperor, who, simply
dressed, rode to and fro, stopping his horse to chat, as often with a
peasant as with a peer.
The emperor dismounted, and this was the signal for all other cavaliers
to dismount and accompany him. The ladies also were compelled to rise
from their velvet cushions and to tread the ground with their
silken-slippered feet. Their equipages were crowded together on one side
of the square, and around them the horses, now held by their liveried
jockeys, were champing their bits and pawing the ground with restless
The crowd was so dense, that the patrician and plebeian stood side by
side. The people, in their innocent enjoyment of the scene, broke
several times through the ranks of titled promenaders, who, vainly
hoping to find some spot unprofaned by the vicinity of the vulgar herd,
were moving toward the centre of the garden.
The emperor saw the lowering brows of his courtiers, and knew that their
angry glances were directed toward the people.
"What is the matter with you, my lords?" asked he. "You are the picture
of discontent. Pray, Count Furstenberg, speak for the court. What has
happened to discompose your equanimity?"
"I do not know, your majesty," stammered the count.
"And yet you frown terribly," laughed Joseph. "Come--no concealment.
What has vexed you all?"
"Your majesty commands?"
"If so, sire, we are annoyed by the vulgar curiosity of the populace,
who gape in our faces as if we were South Sea Islanders or specimens of
"True, the curiosity of the Viennese is somewhat troublesome," replied
the emperor, smiling: "but let us call this eagerness to be with us,
love, and then it will cease to be irksome."
"Pardon me, your majesty, if I venture to say that under any aspect it
would be most irksome to us. If your majesty will excuse my freedom, I
think that in opening all the gardens to the people, you have made too
great a concession to their convenience."
"You really think so?"
"Yes, sire, and I beg you to hear the request I have to prefer."
"Speak on, count."
"Then, your majesty; in the name of every nobleman in Vienna, and, above
all, in the name of our noble ladies. I beseech of you grant us the
exclusive privilege of ONE garden, where we may meet, unmolested by the
rabble. Give us the use of the Prater, that we may have some spot in
Vienna where we can breathe the fresh air in the company of our equals
The emperor had listened with a supercilious smile. "You desire to see
none but your equals, say you? If I were to indulge in a similar whim, I
should have to seek companionship in the crypts of the Capuchins.
[Footnote: The emperor's own words. Ramshorn's "Life of Joseph II."] But
for my part I hold all men as my equals, and my noble subjects will be
obliged to follow my example. I shall certainly not close any of the
gardens against the people, for I esteem and love them." [Footnote: When
the emperor opened the park to the people, he caused the following
inscription to be placed over the principal entrance: "Dedicated to all
men, by one who esteems them."]
The emperor, as he concluded, bowed and turned to greet the Countess
"Welcome, countess, to Vienna," said he, bowing. "You have been away for
some time. May I inquire how you are?"
"Tres-bien, volre majeste," replied the countess, with a profound
The emperor frowned. "Why do you not speak German?" said he, curtly. "We
are certainly in Germany. "
And without saying another word to the discomfited lady, he turned his
back upon her. Suddenly his face brightened, and he pressed eagerly
through the crowd, toward a pale young man, who met his smiling gaze
with one of reciprocal friendliness.
Joseph extended his hand, and his courtiers saw with surprise that this
person, whose brown coat was without a single order, instead of raising
the emperor's hand to his lips, as was customary at court, shook it as
if they had been equals.
"See," cried Joseph, "here is our young maestro, Mozart. Did you come to
the park to-day to teach the nightingales to sing?"
"Heaven forbid, your majesty; rather would I learn from the tuneful
songsters whom God has taught. Perhaps some of these days I may try to
imitate their notes myself."
The emperor laid his hand upon Mozart's shoulder and looked with
enthusiasm into his pale, inspired countenance. "Mozart has no need to
learn from the nightingale," said he, "for God has filled his heart with
melody, and he has only to transfer it to paper to ravish the world with
its strains. Now for your 'Abduction from the Auge Gottes'--nay, do not
blush; I am a child of Vienna, and must have my jest with the Viennese.
Tell me--which gave you most trouble, that or your opera 'Die Entfuhrung
aus dem Serail?'" [Footnote: On the day of the representation of the
opera "Die Entfuhrung aus dem Serail," in Vienna, Mozart ran away with
his Constance. He conducted her to the house of a common friend, where
they were married. This same friend brought about a reconciliation with
the mother of Constance. The house in which the widow and her daughter
lived was called "Das Auge Gottes," and the Viennese, who knew the
history of Mozart's marriage, had called it "Die Entfuhrung aus dem Auge
Gottes."--Lissen's "Life of Mozart."]
"Truly," replied Mozart, still somewhat embarrassed, "the abduction from
the Auge Gottes, sire. I had to sigh and sue until I was nigh unto
despair before I was successful."
"But you concluded both works on the same day."
"Yes, sire. First, that which lay in my head, and then that which was
nearest my heart."
"I congratulate you upon the success of both. 'Die Entfuhrung aus dem
Serail' is a charming opera. Charming, but it contains too many notes."
"Only as many as were necessary, sire," said Mozart, looking full in the
Joseph smiled. "Perhaps so, for you must be a better judge of the
necessity than I. For that very reason," added he, lowering his voice to
a whisper, "I have sent you my sonata for revision. Like all
inexperienced composers, I am anxious to know my fate. Tell me, what do
you think of my sonata, Herr Kapellmeister?"
Mozart was silent, while the emperor waited anxiously for his reply.
"Why do you not speak?" said he, impatiently. "Tell me, what do you
think of my sonata?"
"The sonata, sire, is--good," returned Mozart, with some hesitation;
"but he who composed it," added he, smiling, "is much better. Your
majesty must not take it ill if you find some of your passages stricken
The emperor laughed. "Ah!--too many notes, as I just now remarked of
your opera--only that from your judgment there can be no appeal.
Well--give us a new opera, and let it be comic. Music should rejoice,
not grieve us. Addio." [Footnote: This interview is strictly
historical.--Lissen's "Life of Mozart."]
He then returned to the group which he had left, none of whom seemed to
have been much comforted by the familiarity of the emperor with a poor
"My hour of recreation is over," said Joseph, "but as you know that I am
no lover of etiquette, let no one retire on my account. I know where to
find my equerry, and prefer to find him alone." With these words he
Suddenly he was seen to stop and frown visibly. With a quick motion of
the hand he signed to Count Podstadsky-Liechtenstein to approach.
As Podstadsky was about to make a profound inclination, the emperor
interrupted him roughly. "No ceremony--we have no time to be
complimentary. What are you doing in Vienna?"
The count saw that his sovereign was angry. "Sire," replied he, "I spend
my time just as it happens--"
"That is, you ride, walk, gamble, and carouse, when you are doing
nothing worse. I thought you had left Vienna. You had better go upon
your estates and attend to the welfare of your vassals. Idleness is the
parent of crime, and I fear that if you remain another day in Vienna,
you will bring disgrace upon your father's name. Go at once." [Footnote:
The emperor's own words to Podstadsky.--"Anecdotes, etc., of the
Emperor Joseph II."]
Count Podstadsky looked in wonder after the emperor. "Is this accident
or design? Does he suspect something, or is he only trying to induce me
to work, as he does every nobleman? Ah, bah!--I must see Arabella, and
hear what she thinks of it!"
They sat together in the little boudoir which had so often rung with
their laughter, and where they had so often sneered at their titled
dupes in Vienna.
There was no laughter to-day: the beautiful features of the Countess
Baillou were contracted with alarm, and the frivolous Podstadsky was
thoughtful and serious.
The countess was superbly dressed. A rich robe of velvet, embroidered
with gold, fell in heavy, glistening folds around her graceful figure; a
diadem of brilliants sparkled like a constellation upon the blackness of
her luxuriant hair, and her exquisite neck and arms were covered with
costly gems. She had just completed her toilet for a dinner given by the
Princess Karl Liechtenstein, when Podstadsky had met her with the
alarming intelligence which had obliged her to send an excuse.
For one whole hour they had been considering their situation--
considering those words of the emperor; now planning one method of
escape, now another,
"Then you do not believe that the danger is imminent?" said Podstadsky,
after along, anxious pause.
"I do not," replied the countess, "The emperor has always been fond of
advising other people, and of humbling the Austrian aristocracy above
all, when the people are by to hear him, and he can make capital out of
it to increase his popularity. I suppose his rudeness to you was all
assumed, to make an impression upon the foolish populace. That is all."
Podstadsky shook his head. "The tone of the emperor was so pointed--it
seemed as though some special meaning lay in his words."
"That, my dear Carlo, simply means that fear caused you to interpret
"The words themselves were significant enough; and his look!--Oh,
Arabella, we are in danger! Dearest let us fly, fly at once!"
He had risen, and, in his anguish, had tried to draw her to himself. She
put him quietly away, and contemplated him with a sneer. "No folly!"
said She. "Even if the emperor had meant to warn you, his warning came
too late to save you from the watchful police of Vienna."
"No, no, Arabella. I tell you that the emperor will facilitate my escape
for my parents' sake. Oh, why did I not obey, and mount my horse at
once, and fly to some sequestered vale where I might have found refuge
"And where you might realize your mother's touching dream of becoming a
boor, and repenting your sins in sackcloth and ashes! That maternal idyl
still troubles your poor, shallow brain, does it? For my part, I think
no spectacle on earth is so ridiculous as that of the repentant sinner.
It is the most humiliating character in which a man can appear before
the world, and it is unworthy of you, Carlo. Hold up your head and look
this phantom of dancer in the face. It is but a phantom. The bright,
beautiful reality of our luxurious life is substantially before us. Away
with cowardice! He who treads the path which we have trodden, must cast
all fear behind him. Had we been scrupulous, or faint-hearted, you would
have been to-day a ruined nobleman, dependent upon the pittance doled
out to you from parental hands, or upon some little office pompously
bestowed by the emperor; and I--ha! ha!--I should have been a
psalm-chanting nun, with other drowsy nuns for my companions through
life, and a chance of dying in the odor of sanctity! We were too wise
for that; and now the structure of our fortunes is complete. Its gilded
dome reaches into the heaven of the most exclusive circles; princes,
dukes, and sovereigns are our guests. In the name of all for which we
have striven, Carlo, what would you have more?"
"I am afraid that the structure will fall and bury us under its ruins,"
said Carlo, shivering.
"Better that than inglorious flight. Stay where you are; show a bold
front, and that will disarm suspicion. Why do you gaze at me so
"I gaze at you because you are so beautiful," replied he, with a faint
smile, "as beautiful as was that fallen angel who compassed the ruin of
"I AM a fallen angel," returned she, proudly, "and you know it. Together
we fell, together we have risen. So long as we smile, we shall compass
the ruin of many men; but if once we frown, we shall be known as evil
spirits, and our power is at an end. Smiles are the talismans that
insure victory; so smile, Carlo, smile and be gay."
"I cannot, I cannot. My veins are chilled with vague terror, and ever
before my eyes comes the pale and anguish-stricken face of my mother!
Arabella, if you will not leave this accursed spot, let us die. Better
is death than the dungeon and disgrace!"
He threw his arms around her, and pressed his hot, parched lips to hers.
Again she disengaged herself, and her musical laugh rang out upon the
stillness--clear, merry, silvery as ever. "Die! Are you tired of
pleasure? I am not. I shall yet have many an intoxicating draught from
its golden beaker. Die! As if we knew what came after death! But come; I
pity your state of mind, and since you can no longer be happy in Vienna,
we shall travel. Mark you! I say TRAVEL; but there shall be no flight "
Count Podstadsky uttered a cry of wild joy, and pressed the hand she
gave him to his lips. "When shall we travel? Now?"
She shook her head. "That were flight. We start to-morrow "
"To-morrow!" cried he, exultingly, "to-morrow, at dawn of day?"
"By no means. To-morrow at noon, in the sight of the whole world."
"Be it so, then," sighed the count. "We go by different roads, and meet
"Yes, at Neustadt. And now go, Carlo. We both have important
arrangements to make before we leave."
"_I_ have very little to do," laughed Podstadsky, who had already
recovered his spirits. "My valuables all belong to the usurers. For some
time past they have stationed an agent of theirs in my house as steward.
He watches over their property; I have no interest in it."
"Why don't you pay them with your nice new bank-notes--hey, Carlo?"
Carlo grew troubled again. "I did try to do so, but they refused. They
had given me gold, and must have gold in return."
"So much the better. Your bank-notes will meet with a better reception
elsewhere," said Arabella, hurriedly. "But come, let us go to work. Burn
all indiscreet papers, and take every thing that you can secrete. And
now away with you! I must be alone, for I have enough to do to keep me
up this livelong night. Clear your brows, my Carlo, and sleep free from
anxiety. To-morrow we leave Vienna, and your trials will be at an end.
Addio, caro amico mio, addio!"
He kissed her hand, and she accompanied him to the door. He closed it
behind him, while she stood breathless, listening to his retreating
footsteps. Now he was on the staircase. The heavy street door closed--a
moment's delay, and his carriage rolled away. Yes, he was off at last.
Thank Heaven, he was off!
Arabella listened--listened until the sound of the wheels had died away;
then she laughed. "He thinks me fool enough to share his disgrace! As if
I had not long ago foreseen that this was to be the end of that
hair-brained fool! In expectation of HIS fate, I have been countermining
with Szekuly, and his foolish old hands have flung up shovelfuls of gold
as we went along--bright, shining ducats, which shall go with me to
Paris. Now I am free, free from my dangerous accomplice, free from my
tiresome old adorer, whose love for me so nearly approaches insanity
that it may lead him to compromise himself in more ways than one. But he
must not compromise me! For the world, as yet, I am the modest, virtuous
Countess Baillou, chaste as I am beautiful!"
While she soliloquized thus, the countess walked hurriedly through the
room, with folded arms, fiery eyes, and on her lips a smile--but what a
smile! Alone in that gorgeous apartment, with her sinister beauty and
her angry, flashing jewels, she might have been mistaken for a malign
spirit who had just left her kingdom of darkness to visit the earth with
"It is evident," said she, musing, "that the emperor meant to warn him;
and it follows that as he has not fled to-day he is lost! And he SHALL
be lost, for I must be free. I cannot afford to share my hardly-earned
winnings with him. He must away to prison; it is my only chance for
"But if, after all, the emperor should connive at his escape! Or if he
should be seized with a fit of suspicion, and return! Good Heaven! now
that fortune favors me, I must snatch security while it lies within my
Here she rang so violently, that the valet, who was in the anteroom
almost precipitated himself into her presence.
"If Count Podstadsky-Liechtenstein calls, say that I am not at home.
Apprise the other servants, and add that be is never to find admittance
into this house again. Whosoever, after this, admits him even to the
vestibule, shall leave my service. Away with you!"
"And now," continued she, as the valet closed the door, "now to work."
She went toward a mirror, and there unfastened her diadem, then her
necklace, brooch, and bracelets. With her hands full of jewels, she flew
to her dressing-room and deposited them in their respective cases. Then
she opened a large, brass-bound casket, and counted her treasures.
The first thing that came to light was a necklace of diamond solitaires.
"These three stars of the first magnitude," said she, contemplating the
centre stones, "are the involuntary contribution of the Princess Garampi
I borrowed her bracelet for a model, giving my word that it should not
pass from my hands. Nor has it done so, for I have kept her brilliants
and returned her--mine. She is never the wiser, and I am the richer
thereby. For this string of pearls, with the superb ruby clasp, I am
indebted to her highness the Princess Palm. One evening, as I welcomed
her with an embrace, I made out to unfasten it while I related to her a
piquant anecdote of her husband's mistress. Of course she was too much
absorbed in my narrative to feel that her necklace was slipping, for I
was not only entertaining, but very caressing on the occasion. There was
music in the room, so that no one heard the treasure fall. The necklace,
a perfect fortune, lay at my feet; I moved my train to cover it, and
signed to Carlo, who, I must say, was always within call. He invited the
princess to dance, and--the pearls found their way to my pocket. What a
talk that loss made in Vienna! What offers of reward that poor woman
made to recover her necklace! All in vain, and nobody condoled more
affectionately with her than the charming, kind-hearted Countess
Baillou. This sorrow--but, pshaw! what a child I am, to be gloating over
my precious toys while time passes away, and I must be off to-night!"
She closed her boxes, replaced them in her strong, well-secured casket,
and, having locked it, hung the key around her neck. "Here lies the
price of a princely estate," said she, "and now I must attend to my
She stood upon a chair, and took from the wall a picture. Then, pressing
a spring behind it a little door flew open, revealing a casket similar
to the one containing her jewels. She took it down, and, placing it on
the table, contemplated the two boxes with profound satisfaction.
"Twenty thousand lovers' eyes look out from this casket," said she, with
a laugh; "all promising a future of triumphant joy. Twenty thousand
ducats! The fruits of my savings! And dear old Szekuly has made economy
very easy for some months past, for one-half of these ducats once
belonged to him. To be sure, I gave him in return the deeds of an entail
which I own in Italy, and which he can easily reconvert into money. At
least he thinks so. Well--I owe him nothing. We made an exchange, and
that is all."
After this edifying monologue, the countess exchanged her elegant
costume for a simple travelling-dress, and as she completed her toilet
the clock struck eight. Every thing being ready, she returned to her
boudoir and rang once. This signified that her confidential valet was
wanted. In a few moments the door opened, and an old man, whose dark
hair and eyes marked his Italian birth, entered noiselessly. The
countess bade him close the door and approach. He obeyed without the
least manifestation of surprise, muttering as he went, "Walls have
"Giuseppe," said his mistress, "are you still willing to follow me?"
"Did I not swear to your mother, my beloved benefactress, never to
abandon you, signora?"
"Thanks, amico; then we leave Vienna to-night."
"I heard the order forbidding Count Podstadsky the house, signora, and I
made ready to depart."
"Good and faithful Giuseppe! Since you are ready, nothing need detain
us. Go at once and order post-horses, and come with the travelling
carriage to the corner of the street above this."
"Si, signora; I shall leave the carriage there, and return for the two
caskets; you will then go out by the postern, and having joined us, we
are off. Is that your will?"
"Yes, Giuseppe, yes. Go for your life!"
"Be ready to leave the house in one hour, signora, for you know that I
am a swift messenger."
The old man bowed and retreated as silently as he came. His mistress
looked after him, saying, "There goes a jewel which I have neither
borrowed nor stolen: it comes to me by the inalienable right of
inheritance. Now I can rest until he returns."
With a deep sigh of relief, she threw herself upon the divan, and,
closing her eyes, gave herself up to rosy dreams. She had not lain long,
before the door opened and a valet announced "Colonel Szekuly."
"I cannot receive him," exclaimed she, without rising.
"You must receive him, countess," said a voice behind her, and starting
from the divan, she beheld the tall form of her "tiresome old adorer,"
enveloped in a military cloak, with his plumed hat drawn far over his
brow. Before she had time to speak, he had dismissed the valet and
closed the door.
"You presume strangely upon your influence," cried Arabella, half
amused, half angry. "Because you reign over my heart, you aspire to
reign over my domestics, I perceive."
"Peace!" cried the colonel, imperatively. "I have not come hither to
suck poison from your honeyed lips. I have already had enough to cause
my death. Though you have cruelly deceived me, I come to give you a last
proof of my love. Do not interrupt me."
"I will not breathe." said she, with a smile so bewitching, that Szekuly
averted his eyes, for it maddened him.
"You know," said he, and the old man's voice faltered as he spoke, "that
the director of police is my friend. I had invited him to dine with me.
He came but half an hour ago to excuse himself because of an arrest of
some importance. Do you guess whose arrest?"
"How should I guess?" said she, still with that enchanting smile. "I
have no acquaintance with the police."
"God grant that you may never make their acquaintance!" ejaculated he,
hoarsely. "They have just now arrested Count Podstadsky."
Not a feature of her face changed, as she replied: "Ah! Count Podstadsky
arrested? I am sorry to hear it. Can you tell me why?"
"For forging bank-notes to the amount of a million of florins."
"I suspected as much; I have several times been the victim of his
"The victim, countess? Is that an appropriate expression?"
"I think it is," replied she, quietly. "Is that all the news?"
"No, countess. The count is taken, but his accomplice--"
She breathed quickly and her mouth quivered, but she rallied and made
answer. "He had accomplices?"
"He had an accomplice, and--hush! we have no time for falsehood. Every
moment is precious to you. Perhaps the director of the police came to me
because knowing how--I have loved you, he would rescue you from shame.
Let us hope that he did, for he told me that he had orders to arrest the
"When?" asked she, almost inaudibly; and now her face was pale as death.
"At dusk, that you might be spared the curiosity of a crowd."
Arabella sprang from her couch. "It is already night!" cried she, her
voice rising almost to a scream.
"Yes," replied her lover, "but I hope we have time. I have prepared
everything for your flight. My carriage and postilions await you in the
next street. Be quick, and you may escape."
"Yes, yes," exclaimed she. "Give me but one moment." She flew to her
dressing-room, and tried to carry her two boxes. But the ducats were too
"I must leave the jewels," said she; and climbing up again with her
casket, she concealed it in the wall, and replaced the picture. "It is,
at all events, perfectly safe, and Giuseppe will come for it."
"Come!" cried Szekuly from the drawing-room.
"I come," answered she, while she wrapped a cloak about her and with
trembling hands tied on her travelling-hat.
"Give me your box," said Szekuly, "it will impede your movements."
But she held it fast, and said: "No--they are my jewels, now my only
"And you are afraid to trust them with me?" asked he, with a bitter
smile--"to me, who will die of your treachery!"
"People do not die so easily," said she, trying to smile; but her teeth
chattered, as she flew rather than ran down the grand staircase and
arrived breathless before the door. The porter opened it in wonder. The
night-air blew into her face, and revived her courage. Now she might
breathe freely, for she was--
But no! From the dark recesses of the stone portico emerged three
muffled figures, and one of them laid his rough grasp upon the delicate
arm of the countess and dragged her back into the vestibule.
"Too late, too late!" murmured the colonel, passively following, while
his heart bled for the treacherous woman whom he would have died to
"Countess Arabella Baillou," said one of the figures, "I arrest you in
the name of the emperor."
She looked defiance at him. "Who are you that dare arrest me?"
He took off his hat and bowed derisively. "I am the director of police,
countess, very much at your service. Here is my authority for your
He would have shown her the emperor's signature, but she dashed away the
paper, and fastening her angry eyes upon Szekuly, who was leaning
against a marble pillar, she said:
"That is your dear friend, is it? You have been playing the detective,
have you? Inducing me to fly, that my flight might expose me to
The colonel cried out as though he had been wounded. "By all that is
sacred in heaven, I would have saved you!" sobbed he.
"And for your attempt I am obliged to detain you also, my poor, unhappy
friend," said the director of the police. "But you will soon be able to
prove your innocence. Let one of these men accompany you home and there
remain under arrest until you hear from me. Now, madame, follow me, if
"Allow me first to speak a word of consolation to my generous
protector," said the countess.
Arabella bowed her beautiful head and approached Szekuly, who was
scarcely able to stand, so great was his emotion.
"Colonel Szekuly," said she, in a whisper, "you lent me fifty thousand
florins upon some Italian securities of mine. They are all forgeries. I
forged them myself, as well as all the fine letters of introduction with
which I befooled the aristocracy of Vienna."
Szekuly stared for one moment at his tormentor, then hastily pressing
his hand to his heart, he sank with a low sigh upon the marble floor.
The countess laughed out loud. "He has fainted!" exclaimed she.
"Contemptible world, wherein men act like women, and women like men!
Come, gentlemen, I am ready to follow you; but my innocence will
speedily be reestablished, and the emperor, then, will owe me an apology
for his want of courtesy."
THE POPE'S DEPARTURE.
The people of Vienna were enraptured to the last with the visit of the
pope. Whenever he appeared, they sank upon their knees, as, with his
bewitching smile, he gave them his benediction. But these accidental
meetings did not satisfy the zeal of the Viennese: they longed to
receive a formal and solemn blessing, pronounced in the cathedral from
the papal throne.
High upon his throne sat the holy father in his pontifical robes, his
triple crown upon his head, and the diamond cross of his order upon his
breast. His canopy was of velvet, richly embroidered with gold, and
around him were grouped the princes of the church. But the pope, his
large expressive eyes fixed upon the altar, seemed isolated from all
ecclesiastical pomp, mindful alone of the God whose representative on
earth he was. And when he rose to give the papal benediction, the
handsome face of Pius Sixth beamed with holy inspiration, while the
people, filled with love and joy, knelt to receive the blessing which
had been transmitted to them in uninterrupted succession from the holy
But however the loving heart of the pope might rejoice at his reception
by the people, there were two men in Vienna who resisted him with all
the pride of individuality and all the consciousness of their own worth
The first of these was the emperor. He had sought continually to remind
the sovereign pontiff that although the head of Christendom might be his
guest, he, Joseph, was sole lord of his own domains. He had ordered that
all ecclesiastic ordinances, before being printed, should receive the
imperial exequatur. The pope had desired during his stay to issue a bull
in relation to the newly-erected church of St. Michael. The bull had
been returned for the signature of the emperor.
Other humiliations besides this had been endured by the head of the
church. Perhaps in the two solemn benedictions which he had given--the
first in the palace-court, the second in the cathedral, Pius had hoped
to appear in public with the emperor as his spiritual vassal; but Joseph
was careful not to allow him this gratification. He had no sooner
learned that the throne of the pope in the cathedral was being erected
higher than his own, than he ordered the imperial throne to be removed,
and excused himself from attendance at high mass upon the pretext that
he was suffering from severe pain in the eyes, and dared not encounter
the blaze of light. It was an obstinate case of ocular malady, for it
had already prevented him from appearing in the palace-court, when
decorum would have exacted of him to walk behind the pope.
The other man who had completely ignored the pope's presence in Vienna,
was Kaunitz. In vain had his visit been expected; he never came; and
finally the day of the departure of his holiness arrived. He had
received the adieus of the nobles and had taken leave of the clergy. At
two o'clock he expected the emperor, who was to accompany him as far as
Mariabrunn. It was now eleven, and he had, therefore, three hours of
He rang for his valet and bade him send a messenger to Prince Kaunitz,
apprising him that in half an hour the pope would visit him. A few
moments after this, the door reopened and the papal master of ceremonies
entered the room. Pius received him with a friendly smile. "I know why
you are here," said he. "You have heard from Brambilla that I
contemplate a visit to Prince Kaunitz, and you come to remonstrate with
"Yes, I entreat your holiness not to take this step which--"
"Which is beneath the dignity of the head of the church," interrupted
Pius. "You can well imagine that I have already said as much to myself.
I know, that in going to visit this proud man, I humble myself. But if
humility becomes any one of the servants of God, it becomes the
successor of Peter, and I have no right to shrink from personal
humiliation, when, perchance, it may win something from haughtiness in
favor of the church of God. Perhaps the advances I make to Kaunitz may
move his cold heart, and teach him to do unto others as others have done
"But if your holiness intends to bestow such an unheard-of honor upon
the prince, you should at least have given him a day wherein to make
suitable preparations for your coming."
The pope smiled. "Dear friend, I see farther into this man's heart than
you. I have taken him unawares, precisely because he would gladly have
added to my humiliations by neglecting the hint which such an
announcement would have conveyed. It was, therefore, better to forestall
the slight by making it impossible for him to offer it as a matter of
"But why does your holiness confer upon this disdainful Austrian an
honor which he is unworthy to receive?"
"Why? Because I feel it my duty to leave nothing undone which can be
conducive to the interests and glory of our holy mother, the church. Who
knows but that the Lord may have sent me to convert an erring sinner
from his ways? Go, my friend, go, and send my messenger. I must see this
man who, from youth to old age, has defied the Lord of heaven and
A half an hour later an imperial state carriage was before the palace of
Prince Kaunitz, and the pope, followed by his chaplain, entered its
The prince had been diligent, for there, in their richest liveries of
state, were his whole household, and at the foot of the staircase, over
which a rich Turkey carpet had been spread for the occasion, stood the
young Countess Clary in full dress, who knelt, and in soft, trembling
accents begged of his holiness a blessing.
He laid his hand upon her head, and then extended it that she might
press to her lips the ring of St. Peter. He then raised her, and begged
her to accompany him to the presence of her uncle, the prince.
As they walked together from one magnificent apartment to another, the
countess was apologizing for her uncle who, not having left his room for
some weeks, was unable to come out to receive his holiness from dread of
encountering the cold air of the halls.
The pope bowed, and followed the countess until she stopped before a
closed door, and said:
"In this room, my uncle awaits the gracious visit of your holiness."
The pope entered, but he was not met on the threshold as he had
anticipated. No, indeed. Far from the door, with the entire length of
the room between them, close to the chimney where a huge fire was
burning, stood Kaunitz. He was in an undress coat, with his hat upon his
head, [Footnote: Gross-Hoffinger, iii., p. 38.] and so absorbed in
thought that he was quite unaware of the entrance of his guest, until
the Countess Clary, in a loud voice, said:
"His holiness the pope."
Kaunitz moved, and measuring his advance by that of Pius, he managed to
meet him just half way, and, as he bowed, he at last condescended to
take off his hat.
Pius returned the bow, and, as is customary with all independent
princes, extended his hand to be kissed.
Kaunitz, with an assurance almost inconceivable, took it within his own,
and giving it a hard shake, after the English fashion, exclaimed:
"De tout mon coeur! de tout mon coeur!" [Footnote: Historical.--See
Gross-Hoffinger, iii., p. 39.]
At this familiarity an expression of pain flitted over the handsome,
noble features of the pope, and the smile died upon his lips. But he had
expected humiliation, and had armed himself to endure it.
"I have come to visit your highness," said he, mildly, "because,
although you have not asked it, I would fain leave with you the blessing
of the church."
"I thank your holiness for the consideration you are pleased to show
me," replied Kaunitz. "But before all things let me request your
permission to resume my hat. The cold air is injurious to my weak head."
[Footnote: The prince's own words.--See Bourgoing, "Pius VI. and his
Pontificate," p. 225.]
And whether to ward off the cold air or the blessing of the church, the
old sinner replaced his hat without waiting to hear the pope's reply.
Pius could only affect not to perceive the rudeness, while he seated
himself, and invited the prince to be seated also. There was a pause.
Kaunitz took the chair, and then looking full into the eyes of his
guest, awaited with perfect indifference the opening of the
The expression of pain deepened upon the face of the pope; but again he
recovered himself, and made a second effort at conciliation.
"I have come to give to your highness a proof of my esteem and
consideration," said he.
Kaunitz bowed stiffly. "I am so much the more surprised at this mark of
consideration, that I have never been able to see in your holiness's
state-papers the least recognition of my claims to statesmanship."
"Perhaps we may have misjudged one another. I have desired, in visiting
Vienna, to heal all misunderstandings, and to afford to my son in
Christ, the emperor, every facility for his reconciliation to the holy
church. I have also prayed to Almighty God to touch the heart of your
highness, that you also might turn your steps toward the 'one fold.'"
"I hope that I have never strayed from the path of right. The object of
my life has been to make Austria great and independent, and to aid my
emperor in freeing his subjects from foreign dominion. To-day no earthly
potentate has a voice in Austria, save Joseph; he is absolute master
here, and as all his acts have been for Austria's good, she has entered
at last upon a career of indisputable prosperity. But there is nothing
wonderful in this, when he had me as a coadjutor."
Pius looked with profound sadness at this haughty statesman, who had not
a thought beyond the present world.
"You speak of things that are of the earth, earthy. And yet your hair is
white as snow, and you an old man hastening to the grave! At your
advanced age it would become your highness, who have done so much for
your sovereign, to do something now to reconcile yourself to your
Maker." [Footnote: The pope's own words to Kaunitz.--See "Pius VI. and
his Pontificate," p. 226.]
Kaunitz grew deathly pale; not all the paint that besmeared his wrinkles
could conceal his pallor. His forehead contracted, and hung in heavy
folds, while his breath came fast and gasping. The pope had spoken of
THE GRAVE, and the vulnerable heel had received a wound.
It was some time before he could recover his self-possession--some time
again before he could force down his fury, and so remain master of the
situation. At last the victory was won, and he spoke calmly.
"I hope," said he, "that having done nothing to offend my Maker, it is
unnecessary for me to seek reconciliation with Him. I have done all that
I could for religion; it is not my fault if her interests are not
identical with those of the church. But pardon me that I should have
strayed to themes so unbecoming to my character as host, and yours as my
guest. Let us speak of science, art, life, and its multitudinous
enjoyments. Your holiness, I know, is a distinguished patron of the fine
arts. And as you are fond of painting, allow me to offer you a sight of
my pictures. You will find them quite worth your inspection."
With these words, Kaunitz rose, and, without waiting for the pope's
consent, stepped as hastily forward as his infirmities would permit, and
opened the door which led to his picture-gallery. The pope followed him
leisurely, and after him came the chaplain, the Countess Clary, and
Kaunitz did the honors, passing with visible haste from one painting to
another. "Here," said he, "is a masterpiece of Murillo, which the
Vatican might envy me--Murillo, who was equally successful, whether he
tried his hand at Virgin or vagabond. Just look at this! Did ever the
earth bestow upon longing man a more voluptuously-beautiful woman than
this dark-eyed Madonna!"
"It is a beautiful picture," murmured Pius, approaching with the hope of
being spared any more such comments on art.
"But your holiness has not the proper light," cried Kaunitz, familiarly.
"Come a little more to the left."
And, in the excitement of his enthusiasm, the prince was so forgetful of
the rank of his visitor as to catch him by the arm, and drag him to the
spot he advised. Pius started, and for one moment his eyes darted fire,
for, to the very depths of his soul, he felt the indignity; but he
remembered his resolve to "bear all things," and stood quietly
contemplating the picture until his tormentor spoke again.
He, on his part, affected not to perceive that he had done any thing
amiss; and with an appearance of great empressement, he followed the pope
from picture to picture, dragging him first to one point, then to
another, as he pretended to think that the best light for seeing his
paintings was to the right or to the left. [Footnote: Bourgoing, "Pius
VI. and his Pontificate." p. 227.]
The pope made no resistance, perhaps because he was astounded at the
insolence of the proceeding, perhaps because he judged it best to affect
unconsciousness of the insults which were being heaped upon his head.
But he was wounded to the heart, and raised his eyes to his chaplain,
who, indignant at the contumely offered to his beloved pontiff, at once
came forward to his relief, by reminding him that the emperor would
shortly visit his rooms.
"You are right, my friend," said Pius. Then turning to Kaunitz, he
continued: "I must go, and cannot have the pleasure of completing my
survey of your paintings. Had I known that you possessed so many
treasures, I would have come earlier, that I might have been allowed to
visit them a little more at my leisure. I am under many obligations to
you for your politeness, and for the very unusual courtesies which I
have received at your hands."
He took the arm of his chaplain, and left the room. At the door he was
met by the Countess Clary, and as she knelt a second time before him, he
laid his hand upon her head, with a gesture full of nobleness and grace.
"I leave you my blessing, my child, and I leave it to all who inhabit
this house. May those whose hearts have been hardened by sin, return in
humility to the Lord: for humility is the crown of Christian graces, and
he who hath it not can never aspire to life eternal."
He went on without ever turning his head or seeming to know that Kaunitz
was behind, excusing himself from going farther with his holiness, by
reason of the danger to which he would be exposed, etc., etc.
At the portal of the palace the pope was received by his master of
ceremonies, who accompanied him to his cabinet. One glance at his pale
countenance had revealed to him the inutility of the condescension of
the supreme pontiff, who with a weary sigh sank back into the depths of
"You were quite right," said he, after a pause, "and I was wrong. I
ought never to have gone to this man. God has punished me for my vanity,
and has used him as an instrument to remind me that I am but a poor
miserable creature, full of projects, but empty of results! Ah,
Battista! with what bright hopes of touching the emperor's heart I
started upon this pilgrimage to Vienna, priding myself upon my humility,
and building thereupon my trust! Nothing has come of my
efforts--nothing! I have learned one thing, however, of the emperor. He
is no Christian, but he is not a bad man. I really believe that he acts
from a sense of mistaken duty."
The master of ceremonies shook his head, and was about to reply, when
there was a knock at the door, and the emperor asked admittance. The
master of ceremonies retired to the anteroom, where the suites of the
pope and the emperor were awaiting the signal for departure. Joseph
approached his holiness, and gave into his hand a case which he begged
him to accept as a souvenir of his visit to Austria.
Pius, bewildered by all that he had endured on that day, opened it in
silence. But he was astonished when he saw the magnificence of he gift.
It was a large cross of pure, white brilliants, upon a bed of dark
crimson velvet. [Footnote: This cross was valued at 200,000
florins.--See Hubner, i., p. 128.]
"I beg of your holiness," said Joseph, "to wear this in remembrance of
Pius raised his head, and looked anxiously into the smiling face of the
emperor. "Oh, my son," said he, "would this were the only cross I was
forced take back with me to Rome!"
"Your holiness must be content to take with you my love and regard,"
replied Joseph, evasively; "and I would gladly give you another pledge
of them before we part. Will you allow me to bestow upon your nephew,
Luigi Braschi, the title and diploma of a prince?"
Pius shook his head. "I thank your majesty; but my nephew cannot accept
the honor you would confer upon him. It was not to advance the interests
of my family, but the glory of the church, that I came to Vienna.
[Footnote: Pius's own words.--See Gross-Hoffinger, iii., p. 40.] Your
majesty would make a prince of my nephew, and yet you seek to humble his
uncle, who is the vicar of Christ on earth."
"What have I done, your holiness?"
"You have suppressed the order of the Mendicant Friars, and you have
called Cardinal Megazzi to account, because he printed one of my bulls
without submitting it to you for your approbation."
"I consider that the Mendicants lead a contemptible life, and we have no
use for them in Austria. As to the bull, no law is permitted to go forth
in my dominions unless it is approved by me, for the laws of my land
must be subject to no power but my own."
The pope heaved a sigh, for it was useless to argue with Joseph. "Is it
also true that your majesty has confiscated and sold all the property of
the convents and churches, and that it is your intention to give
salaries to the clergy?"
"Yes, that is my plan; I may as well be frank with you, and avow it. But
I am very far from its accomplishment; I have taken nothing but the
property of the convents as yet."
"And woe to your sacrilegious hand that you have done so!" cried Pius,
rising to his feet and confronting the emperor. "I cannot conceal from
your majesty that your conduct has inflicted a serious wound upon the
church, and has scandalized all good Christians. The robbing of the
church is an error condemned by ecclesiastic councils, and execrated by
the fathers of the church. Shall I remind you of the words which John,
the patriarch of Alexandria, spoke to a sovereign who would have robbed
the clergy of their temporal goods? 'How canst thou, a perishable
mortal, give unto another that which is not thine own? And when thou
givest that which belongs to God, thou rebellest against God himself.
What man endowed with reason will not pronounce thine act a
transgression, a signal and sinful injustice? How can a man presume to
call himself a Christian who desecrates the objects consecrated to
Christ!' Thus has God spoken through the mouth of His servant, and his
words are appropriate to the acts of your majesty!'" [Footnote: This
harangue of the pope is historical.--Hubner, i., p. 285.]
The voice of the pope was choked by tears, and in the excess of his
grief he sank back upon the chair and leaned his head upon his hand.
The emperor had listened with profound indifference. It was not the
first time he had seen the pope thus moved, and he was perfectly aware
that it was better to make no reply until the violence of his emotion
had exhausted itself.
"Your holiness goes too far in your apostolic zeal," said he, after a
pause of some length. "I shall neither quote the Scriptures nor the
Fathers in my defence; for you and I would not be apt to interpret them
in the same sense. I shall content myself with observing that, in spite
of all your anger, I shall hearken to the voice of my own conscience,
which tells me that my acts are those of a wise lawgiver, and of a
faithful defender of religion. With this voice, my own reason, and help
from above, I am not afraid of being in error. [Footnote: Joseph's own
words.--Hubner, i., p. 287.] At the same time, I assure your holiness of
my sincerest regard. You may not have attained the object of your visit,
but I hope that you carry away at least the conviction of my honesty and
integrity of purpose. The interests of state and church may be at
variance, but we need not be personal enemies; and over the gulf which
separates us as princes, we may join hands as friends, may we not?"
With these words, the emperor extended his hand, and the pope did not
refuse to take it.
"It is time for me to be going," replied he. "This cross, which in the
prodigality of your friendship, you have bestowed upon me, I shall wear
for your sake, and it shall remind me to pray daily that God may
enlighten you, and lead you back to the Way, the Truth, and the Life.
For in the church alone is true peace to be found. He who strives
against her, strives against Christ. Farewell, and may He mercifully
bring you to a sense of your errors!"
The aristocracy of Vienna were in a state of extreme excitement. It was
whispered from one noble to another, that the Aulic Council had
condemned Count Podstadsky-Liechtenstein for life to the house of
correction, and he was to sweep the streets in the garb of a common
criminal. [Footnote: This was in accordance with the new Josephine
code.] This was not all. Another fearful announcement had fallen like a
bolt upon the heads of the most illustrious families in Vienna. For some
weeks past, Count Szekuly had been missing. His servants had given out
that he had gone to visit his relatives in Hungary; but they seemed so
embarrassed and uneasy, that no one believed them. Colonel Szekuly had
many powerful friends. He was an intimate associate of all the Hungarian
noblemen in Vienna, and hard long been a welcome guest wherever the
fashionable world had assembled. Moreover, he was the adorer of the most
admired woman in Vienna, the lovely Countess Baillou.
She, too, had disappeared. Where could they be? Was it accident, or had
she responded to his love, and left a world of worshippers, to live for
Finally the mystery was solved. A few days after the arrest of
Podstadsky, Szekuly also had been arrested. It was now well known that
Podstadsky had forged notes; but it was impossible to suspect a man of
Szekuly's unimpeachable character of any connection with a crime of that
Unhappily, however, though less in degree, the accusation against
Szekuly was similar in kind. He was a defaulter; and from the coffers of
his regiment (which were confided to his care) sixty thousand florins
The Countess Baillou was his accuser. She had been charged with being a
party to Podstadsky's fraud, but he, as well as Szekuly, had loudly
declared her innocence. Both had avowed themselves to be her lovers, and
it was ascertained that her household had been maintained at
Podstadsky'a cost. As his mistress, she had received many of his
bank-notes, but he protested that she knew nothing of his forgeries. He
confessed his own guilt, but firmly upheld her innocence. So far from
being his accomplice, Podstadsky declared that she had been his victim.
But a coffer containing twenty thousand ducats had been found upon the
person of the countess. This money had not been given her by Podstadaky,
since he had nothing but forged notes to give. The countess, when
questioned, answered unhesitatingly, that one half the sum she had won
at play, and the other half she had received as a present from Colonel
Szekuly. It was well known that Szekuly had not the means of bestowing
such princely gifts; yet, when informed of the countess's charge, he had
grown pale, but replied that the countess had spoken nothing but truth.
Suspicion was aroused; the strong box of the regiment was examined, and
found empty! Von Szekuly acknowledged that he had taken the money,
believing in good faith that, by the sale of certain deeds in his
possession, he would be able to replace it at short notice. But where
were these papers? They could not be found, and Szekuly refused to give
any account of them. He was guilty, he said, and must submit to his
fate. Colonel von Szekuly, a Hungarian baron, under sentence for theft!
This was a blot upon the escutcheon of more than one illustrious family.
But the emperor, in framing his severe code, had reserved to himself the
right to pardon; and this right, it was hoped, he would exercise in
favor of the high-born criminals. It was not possible that he intended
to humiliate the nobility of Austria so cruelly as to condemn two of
them to the pillory, to the sweeping of the streets, to be chained to
two common felons for life! [Footnote: Hubner, ii., p. 383]
No!--this was an outrage which the emperor would never dare to
perpetrate, for it would arouse the bitter animosity of the whole
aristocracy. Still it would be better to petition him at once, and warn
him of his peril.
He was petitioned, but his invariable reply was, that the law must
decide. It was known, however, that the sentence was not signed, and
there was still hope. But how to reach the emperor? Since the council
had pronounced judgment on the criminals, Joseph had granted audience to
no one; he had avoided all proximity to the nobles, and to secure
himself from importunity, had ceased to ride in the park, contenting
himself with a daily drive in his cabriolet. Finally the petitioners
remembered the "Controlorgang," and thither they repaired early in the
morning. Ladies, as well as lords, came on foot, that the emperor might
not be warned by the sound of their rolling equipages to deny himself
again. They were the first to enter the palace on that day, and were so
numerous that no other petitioners could obtain entrance. On that
occasion, then, they were among their peers, and the canaille would
never know how count and countess, baron and baroness, had humbled
themselves for the sake of their caste.
As soon as Gunther opened the door, they rushed into the small room
which was called the Controlorgang, and there, with beating hearts,
awaited the entrance of the all-powerful emperor.
He came, and when he saw who were the petitioners of the day, his
countenance expressed astonishment: but he did not depart from his usual
habit, and walked slowly down the middle of the room, extending his hand
to receive the petitions.
"How?" said he, when he had reached the last person, "Count Lampredo,
you have nothing to present! You all desire to speak with me? I fear
that my time is too short to gratify you."
"Sire, we have but one petition to make," said the count, speaking for
the others. "One common misfortune threatens us all--"
"What can it be"
"Oh, your majesty," cried he, fervently, "have mercy upon Count
Podstadsky and Baron von Szekuly!"
"Mercy, sire, mercy for Podstadsky and Szekuly!" cried the noble
petitioners with one accord, while all knelt before the astounded
He surveyed them with an angry frown. "Rise, all of you," said he. "Have
you forgotten that kneeling has been abolished here? The Spanish customs
which were once so popular in the palace, are unbecoming in this room,
where all who enter it are nothing but petitioners seeking justice at my
"And mercy, sire!" added Count Lampredo, imploringly.
"And mercy which can be conceded only so far as it is perfectly
compatible with justice."
"Mercy, gracious emperor, mercy for Podstadsky and Szekuly!" reiterated
"You ask for mercy which wounds justice, and I repeat that I cannot
grant the one without the other. Count Podstadsky, through his frauds,
has ruined thousands of my subjects; Baron von Szekuly has stolen sixty
thousand florins, and both these men have disgraced their births and
"Allow Szekuly to be tried by a military court, sire. They at least
would shield him from dishonor, for they would sentence him to death."
"He has committed a vulgar crime and he shall be punished according to
the burghers' code. That code ignores capital punishment."
"But its punishments are more fearful than death, sire. A man is thrice
dead who has lost liberty, honor, and name. The man who in manacles
sweeps the public streets, or tugs at the car, is a thousand times more
to be pitied than he who lays his head upon the block. Oh, sire, it
cannot be that you would consign a nobleman to such contumely!"
"No, I honor the nobleman too much to brand him with such infamy,"
replied the emperor, hastily. "But if a cavalier commits a crime, I
disfranchise him at once; and, stripped of name, title, and privileges,
I hand him over to the law which regards him exactly as it does any
other base-born villain. [Footnote: Joseph's own words. See Hubner, ii.,
p. 432.] Be comforted, then. These criminals are no longer noblemen, and
have nothing in common with you."
"Oh, sire, do not say so; for their shame is reflected upon us all!"
"How?" exclaimed Joseph, with affected surprise, "are you all thieves
"No, sire; but our honor suffers through their dishonor. Oh, your
majesty, in the name of the illustrious families who for centuries have
been the loyal subjects of your house, save our escutcheons from this
"Save us, sire, save us from infamy!" echoed the others.
"No!" exclaimed the emperor. "He who is not ashamed of the crime will
not be ashamed of the disgrace. If, for the sake of his rank, a man is
to have the privilege of being a villain, where, then, is justice?
[Footnote: Ibid.] Not another word of this! My forbearance is exhausted;
for I have sought by every means to convince you that, as a sovereign, I
shall show partiality to no order of men. Podstadsky and Szekuly shall
suffer to the full extent of the law, for the worth of their ancestors
cannot wipe out their own unworthiness."
The emperor withdrew, and when the door closed behind him, many an eye
there flashed with hatred, and many a compressed lip told of meditated
vengeance for the indignity suffered by a powerful order at his hands
"Our humiliation, then, has been of no avail!" muttered Count Lampredo,
"and the nobles of Austria must suffer disgrace because of the obstinate
cruelty of the man who should uphold them."
"But we will be revenged!" whispered Count Hojada, a near relative of
Szekuly's. "The sovereign who, like Joseph, heaps obloquy upon a
nobility, some of whom are his equals in descent, is lost! The emperor
shall remember this hour, and rue it also!"
"Yes," said another, "he shall repent this day. We are all of one mind,
are we not, friends?"
"Ay," muttered they, with gnashing teeth. "He shall pay dearly for
THE COUNT IN THE PILLORY.
Crowds of people gathered around the street corners to read the large
hand-bills posted there. The bills announced that Count
Podstadsky-Liechtenstein had been condemned to three days of pillory, to
public sweeping of the streets, and ten years' detention in the house of
correction. Colonel von Szekuly to three days of pillory, and four
The guilt of the Countess Baillou not having been fully established, she
was pardoned by the emperor. But she was ordered to be present at
Podstadsky's exposition in the pillory, and then to leave Vienna
The people read these fearful tidings in dumb amazement and vague
apprehension of evil to themselves. Never had they so completely
realized the new order of things as at this moment. One of the
privileged, whom they had hitherto beheld at a distance in splendid
equipages, on elegant horses, in brilliant uniforms around the person of
the emperor, one of these demi-gods was to be trailed in the dust like a
criminal from the dregs of the populace. A count, in the gray smock of
the felon, was to sweep the streets, which, perchance, his aristocratic
foot had never trodden before. A proud Hungarian nobleman, a colonel of
the guard, was to be exposed in the pillory for three days. These were
terrible and startling events. Not a trace of exultation was upon the
gloomy faces of the multitude: this abasement of two men of illustrious
birth to an equality with boors, seemed an invasion of the conservative
principles of society. It was an ugly dream--the people could not
realize it. They must go to the spot where the sentence was to be
executed, to see if indeed Olympus had been levelled to the earth.
Hurried along by one common impulse, the silent multitude wound in a
long stream through the streets, until they reached the market-place
where the sentence was to be carried out. Neither idle curiosity nor
malice had led the people thither; it was a pilgrimage to the new era
which at last was dawning upon the world.
There, in the centre of the great open square, was the throne of infamy
upon which an Austrian nobleman was about to bid adieu to name, honor,
family, and the associations which had surrounded his boyhood, and to be
thrust into the revolting companionship of robbers and murderers!
Not a smile was seen upon those appalled faces; men whispered to one
another that the count was the only son of one of the proudest families
in Hungary; and that the countess, his mother, had died of her son's
shame. The eyes of the women filled with tears, and, for the sake of the
martyred mother, they forgave the guilty son. The weeping of the women
deepened the sympathies of the men; and they began to murmur against the
heartless emperor, who degraded an illustrious subject, and sent a noble
countess broken-hearted to the grave!
And now appeared the criminal. Culprit though he was, his beauty and air
of distinction were indisputable.
"Poor young man!" murmured the women, sobbing.
"He will not long survive his disgrace," said the men, sorrowfully. "He
looks like a ghost, and the emperor will soon have to bury him by the
side of his mother."
No one remembered that this man had committed an infamous crime; no one
thanked the emperor for having bestowed upon the Austrian people the
inestimable gift of equality before the law. The commoner himself felt
aggrieved at the monarch who had treated a nobleman no better than he
would have done a serf.
Count Podstadsky was still in the elegant costume of the day. Graceful
and distinguished in his bearing, he leaned his weary body, against the
stake that supported the scaffold on which he was to suffer the last
degree of public infamy. But now the executioner approached, holding a
pair of large glistening shears. He gathered the soft brown curls of the
count in his rough grasp, and very soon the glossy locks fell, and there
remained nothing but the shorn head of the felon. This done, the
executioner drew off the gold-embroidered coat which became the young
nobleman so well, and threw over his shoulders the coarse smock, which,
henceforth, was to designate him as a miscreant.
How changed, alas, was the high-born Carlo! How little this chattering
creature, disguised in serge, resembled the cavalier who had enlisted
the sympathy of the multitude! He was no longer a man, and name he had
none. His number, in scarlet list upon the left sleeve of his smock, was
the only mark that distinguished him from his brethren--the other
malefactors. But the fearful toilet was not yet at an end. The feet and
hands were yet to be manacled. As the handcuffs clicked around those
delicate wrists, the executioner looked up in amazement. Heretofore he
had been accustomed to hear the jeers and loud mockery of the multitude,
as they applauded the completion of the felon's toilet; but today there
was not a sound! Nothing to be seen but pale, sorrowful faces--nothing
to be heard but sobs and murmurs of sympathy.
Still one more torture! The executioner gave him the broom, the baton of
his disgrace, and he grasped its handle for support. He could scarcely
At this moment, in fiendish contrast with the behavior of the people, a
loud, mocking laugh was heard. Shudderingly they looked around,
wondering who it was that could add the weight of a sneer to the supreme
misery which was rending their hearts. It came from above; and every
face, even that of the wretched Podstadsky, as uplifted in horror. He
caught at the stake, and his vacant eyes rested upon the house whence
the cruel laugh had issued. There, on a balcony, guarded by several men
in black, stood a beautiful young woman. She it was who had dealt the
blow. In the hour of his agony her rosy lips had mocked him!
"Arabella!" shrieked the despairing man; and with this cry he sank
insensible to the earth. [Footnote: Count Podstadsky did not long
survive his disgrace. His delicate body soon sank under the hardships of
his terrible existence. One day while sweeping the streets he ruptured a
blood-vessel and died there, with no mourners save his
fellow-criminals.--See Hubner ii., pp. 583-591. "Characteristic and
Historical Anecdotes of Joseph II." "Friedel's Letters from Vienna,"
vol. i., p. 68.]
While all this was transpiring at the market-place, an imperial
state-carriage had been hurrying through the streets until it stopped
before a gloomy house, of which the doors and window-shutters were all
closed. A footman, in the imperial livery, was seen to ring, and then an
old man in faded black livery opened the door. A few whispered words
passed between them; then a cavalier, in an elegant uniform, sprang from
the carriage and entered the house. The old butler went before, and
showed him up the creaking staircase, and through a suite of mouldy
rooms until they reached one with closed doors.
"So please your majesty," said the old man, "Count
Podstadsky-Liechtenstein is in there."
The emperor nodded. "Do not announce me," said he, and he knocked at the
door. A feeble voice from within responded to the knock, and the emperor
entered without further ceremony. A tall, venerable man in deep mourning
came forward and looked at him with hollow, staring eyes.
"The emperor!" exclaimed he, recognizing his unexpected guest.
"Yes, Count Podstadsky, it is I," said the emperor, bowing, as he would
have done before a mighty monarch. "I come to express my profound regret
for the great misfortune which has lately befallen you. No man knows
better than myself what grief it is to lose a beloved wife. And yours
was such a noble, such a devoted wife!" [Footnote: Hubner, ii., p. 391.]
"Devoted!" exclaimed the old count, sadly. "Alas, sire, there was
something on earth which was nearer to her heart than I, else she had
not died and left me alone. I loved nothing but her, and in losing her I
lose all that made life endurable. I would wish to die now; but I have
still a principle to defend--the honor of my family."
"We both have a principle to defend!" replied the emperor, deeply moved
at the excessive grief of which he was a witness. "The principle of
honor and justice--let us both teach the world that justice attacks the
individual criminal and not his family; and that the honor of a family
requires that justice should be satisfied. The name of
Podstadsky-Liechtenstein has ever been an illustrious one, and I desire
to prove to you my regard for your race. Give me your hand, count, and
let us be friends."
He extended his hand, and with quiet solemnity the old count took it and
looked up into his sovereign's face.
"I thank your majesty," said he, after a pause. "Your conduct toward me
is noble and magnanimous, and I shall be grateful for it to my latest
breath. You have acted as became a sovereign who has no right to set at
defiance the laws he has made. Had I been his judge, I should myself
have condemned the criminal who was once my son, and to-day is the
murderer of his mother. Years ago I sat in judgment over this
transgressor and when I did so, I lost my only child. As for the man who
to-day has suffered the penalty of his crimes, I know him no longer."
"And YOUR honor is unspotted," said the emperor. "Give me your arm,
count, and let me conduct you to my carriage. It is a lovely day. We
will take a drive together, and then dine at Schonbrunn. Come--I am
resolved that you shall spend this whole day with me. Give me your arm."
"Sire," whispered the old man, hesitating and looking gloomily toward
the window, "the day is so bright and the sun shines so fiercely, I fear
that my eyes cannot bear the glare. I beg of you allow me to remain at
The emperor shook his head. "Nay, your eyes are not weak. You can bear
the fullest light of day; you have no need to hide your honored head
from the gaze of the world. Take courage, dear friend, and think of what
we both have said. Have we not our principles to defend? And must we not
both assert them courageously?"
"Your majesty is right," cried the old count. "I am ready to follow
And while Carl Podstadsky, awaking from his swoon, looked up into the
face of the malefactor, who from henceforth was to be the companion of
his sleeping and waking, and the witness of his despair--while one of
along train of outlawed felons, he dragged his misery through the hot,
dusty streets, his father drove with the emperor to Schonbrunn, and
among all the brilliant guests who dined with him on that day, to none
was the emperor so deferential in his courtesy as to the old Count
Meanwhile where was the siren who had lured Szekuly to destruction?
Where was she for whose sake Carl Podstadsky had precipitated himself
into the waters of obloquy? When the waves had engulfed him, she had
disappeared, and the last sounds that had rung in his ears were the
sounds of her cruel mirth!
Was there no punishment in reserve for such atrocity? No punishment for
this woman without heart, without pity, without remorse? Would no hand
unmask this beautiful fiend?
The hand is ready, but it is invisible; and Arabella, in her newfound
security, is dazzled at the magnitude of her own good fortune. "Whom the
gods wish to destroy they first blind." True, she had lost her gold, the
price of Szekuly's good fame; but she was not poor; her jewels were
worth many such a coffer of ducats. Once in possession of her casket,
she was again rich, happy, and courted. Not a creature, save Giuseppe,
knew the whereabouts of this precious casket, and with it they must away
It was dusk, and Giuseppe, with a travelling carriage, once more awaited
his mistress at the corner of the street. There remained nothing to do
now but to remove the coffer from its hiding-place, and that was the
work of half an hour. Arabella had the key of the little postern, and
there was no danger of spies, for the house was empty. Having avowed
herself to be the pensioned mistress of Podstadsky, the law had placed
its seal upon her effects, and they were all to be sold for the benefit
of the count's creditors.
The night was dark, and the street lanterns were propitiously dim. Here
and there was heard the step of a solitary foot-passenger, and from time
to time the monotonous tramp of the patrol. One of these patrols had
just passed the garden-wall of the hotel, of which the Countess Baillou
had been the presiding goddess. He looked up at the darkened windows as
he went, wondered whither the goddess had flown, and walked on. When the
echo of his step had died away from the pavement, and the last beams of
the lantern were flickering out, a dark, slender form emerged from one
of the pillars of the wall, and glided toward the little side-door,
which opened on that narrow street. The key was in the door, it clicked
in the lock, and the figure disappeared within. All was quiet.
"I am safe," thought she; "not a sound is within hearing. Now for my
treasures, and away I away from this hateful city forever!"
"Whom the gods would destroy, they first blind."
Arabella never suspected that, under cover of darkness, others besides
herself were lurking in that garden; and now as she advanced toward the
house, two tall figures approached the postern, and stationed themselves
on either side of it.
"She is caught," whispered one.
"Yes," replied another, "the bird has come of its own accord into the
net. We must wait now until we receive further orders."
Arabella, meanwhile, looked exultingly at the dark clouds which overhung
the sky, and almost laughed. "Thank you, fair moon," said she, "for
withdrawing your splendor at my behest. Tomorrow you shall shed your
soft beams upon my flight, for then I shall need your friendly light.
Far away from Vienna, I shall be rich, happy, and free!"
Now she was at the servants' entrance. Oh, how the hinges creaked, as
she opened the door! But what of it? No one was there to hear the sound.
How foolishly her heart was beating! Now she was inside, and, with
spasmodic haste, she bolted herself within. The darkness was intense.
She could not see her hand before her, and in spite of herself a cold
chill ran through her frame, and her knees trembled with vague terror.
What if, through this black expanse, a hand should suddenly touch hers!
and--"Oh, how dreadful is this darkness!" thought she. "I might die
here, and no one could come to my help! I feel as I did once before, on
that night of horror in Italy!"
She shuddered, and, almost swooning with fright, cowered under the
shelter of the marble balustrade, to which she had by this time groped
her way. And now, before her terrified soul, swept phantom after
phantom, all from the miserable spirit-land of the past. Once more she
lived through a night dark as this, when a wretched, betrayed,
dishonored girl, she had slunk through the streets of Rome in search of
death--death and annihilation in the black waves of the Tiber. She felt
the waters engulf her, she heard her own death-cry, the last protest of
youth against self-destruction; and then she felt the grasp of
Podstadsky--Podstadsky who, in restoring her to the world, had laid a
new curse upon her life. Until then she had been luxurious, frivolous,
pleasure-loving; but in the Tiber she had found a new and terrible
baptism--the baptism of crime. Without love she had consented to become
Podstadsky's mistress, and so became the partner of his guilt. Together
they had planned their bold schemes of fraud, and, oh, how successful
they had been until this last misfortune! At all events, her connection
with Podstadsky was at an end. The pillory had liberated her, and
now--now she would lead a blameless life. No more fraud--no more theft.
Crime was too dangerous; she saw that it must inexorably lead to shame.
She would be satisfied with what she had, and become a virtuous woman.
She was quite rich enough to be good, and it would be such bliss to live
without a guilty secret!
She laughed, and then shivered at the sound of her own voice, and a
supernatural terror took such violent hold of her imagination, that she
could no longer bear the darkness. She must see, or she would die of
fear. Giuseppe had provided her with a dark lantern, a vial of
phosphorus, and some matches.
"How delightful it is to have this new invention!" thought she, as,
touching the phosphorus, she struck a light. With this light she felt a
little reassured, but could she have seen her blanched, terror-stricken
face, she would have screamed, and fancied it a spectre!
Hush! Was there a muffled sound behind her? She paused and listened, her
eyes glaring as though they would start from their sockets. Pshaw! it
was only the rustling of her own silk mantle as it went trailing up the
marble staircase. Nothing in human shape was there, save two pale
statues, which stood like dead sentinels at the head of the stairs. As
she passed these she shuddered, and almost fancied that they had stepped
from their pedestals to follow her. Giving one quick glance behind, she
sped like a hunted doe through those halls, of which so lately she had
been the pride, and arrived breathless at the door of her boudoir. She
darted in, and there, safe in its place, was the picture.
This gave her courage. But she must have rest after her fearful
pilgrimage through that dark, empty house. She sank upon her satin
lounge, and abandoned herself to the joy and security of the hour. She
had just come to the end of a perilous journey. Night and danger were
behind, the rosy morning of safety was about to dawn. She was so full of
joyous emotion, that scarcely knowing what she did, her lips began to
move in unconscious prayer!
Prayer! She had no right to such a privilege as that; and starting from
her seat, lest she should falter in the purpose of her visit, she
quickly removed the picture, touched the spring, and the precious coffer
No, no, she could never give it up! She stretched out her arms, and
pressed it to her heart, as a mother does her only child. Trembling with
eager joy, she placed it on the table, and opening it, contemplated her
treasures on their beds of crimson velvet.
How they sparkled! How they seemed to burn with splendor as the rays of
the little lantern coquetted with their beauty! She was repaid for all
her terrors, she was happy and secure!
"Whom the gods would destroy, they first blind."
She was so absorbed in the magnificence of her diamond necklace for
which she had been indebted to the Princess Garampi, that she did not
hear the footfall of the men who were close behind her. They smiled, and
pantomimed one to another as they watched her toying with her flashing
Then suddenly springing forward, as if they feared she might escape
through the secret opening in the wall, they grasped her with their
powerful hands, and she was once more a prisoner.
"The emperor can no longer defend his beautiful countess," said the one
who seemed to direct the others. "We have caught her in the act of
robbing Count Podstadsky's creditors. And, unless I am mistaken, we
shall find among her booty all the jewels that were missing at last
winter's entertainments; for, as I had the honor of reminding his
majesty, the Countess Baillou was at every ball where jewels were lost.
I told the emperor that if he would give you freedom, I engaged to find
something more than a mare's nest when I tracked you hither. I was sure
you would come, and my spies have been within, waiting for you since
"What reward was promised by the emperor for my detection?" said
Arabella, now self-possessed.
"Five hundred ducats," was the reply.
"Five hundred ducats?" repeated she, tossing back her beautiful head. "A
beggarly reward for the person of a lady of rank like me! Take this
necklace, and divide it between you. Each one will then have more than
the frugal emperor has promised to all. Take it and give me my freedom.
Your generous act will never be known."
"How, lady! You would bribe us, as you have bribed so many noble
cavaliers? No, no. Your game is at an end, and if ever you appear in
public again, it will be as a criminal. You must come with me. You, men,
take up this coffer."
She strove no longer. Without another word she took the arm of the
police-officer and went firmly forward.
Her lips moved, and she murmured: "Alas he is right. My career is at an
end." [Footnote: This beautiful woman, "the ornament of the most elegant
circles in Vienna," as she is called by the chroniclers of the times,
was condemned to three days of pillory, the same punishment as that
suffered by the victim of her wickedness and coquetry. She was then sent
guarded to the confines of Austria, from whence she was banished for
life.--See Hubner, ii., 392. Gross-Hoffinger, iii.]
HORJA AND THE REBELLION IN HUNGARY.
Four years had gone by since Joseph had reigned sole monarch of Austria.
For four years he had devoted himself to the Austrians, having but one
object, that of making them a free, enlightened, and happy people,
emancipating them from the influence of the church, and breaking the
fetters of serfdom; granting them equality before the law, and enriching
them by his encouragement of manufactures and the privileges he accorded
What was his reward? Dissatisfaction and opposition from every class of
society; ingratitude and ill-will from all parties. The nobles disliked
him because he had sought every opportunity of humbling them before the
people; the clergy opposed him because of his sequestration of church
property, and his assumption of spiritual authority. But his bitterest
enemies were the bureaucratie. He had invaded all their customs,
discharging every man who had not studied at the university, and
requiring constant labor from the first as well as the last of the
employes. He was the terror of all aspirants for civil office, and the
whole body hated him, embarrassed his steps, and ruined his plans by
voluntary misconception of all his orders.
As yet, there was no outburst of dissatisfaction. The discontent was
latent, and Joseph still indulged the hope of outliving opposition, and
proving to his subjects that all the innovations which they had so
ungratefully endured were for the ultimate good of the Austrian nation.
He was therefore ill-prepared for the news which reached him from
Hungary. He had freed the people from slavery and taxation, and had
exacted that the nobles should pay their share of the imperial taxes. He
had instituted a general conscription, and the most powerful Magyar in
Hungary was bound to serve, side by side, with the lowest peasant.
Finally he had forbidden the use of any other language in Hungary save
A cry of indignation was heard from every turreted castle in the land.
They were wounded in the rights hitherto guaranteed to them by every
emperor of Austria. And above all other oppression, they were to be
robbed of their mother tongue, that they might lose their nationality,
and become a poor Austrian dependency. [Footnote: That was precisely
Joseph's object: and yet he wondered that this people did not love him.]
But Joseph's enactments were detested not only by the nobles, they were
equally unwelcome to the people. The latter were horror-stricken by the
general conscription, and fled by thousands to take refuge among the
mountains from the conscribing officers.
One of their own class, however, succeeded in drawing them from their
hiding-places. The loud voice of Horja rang throughout every valley, and
ascended to every mountain-summit. He called them to liberty and
equality. He asserted that nobility was to be destroyed in Hungary.
There were to be no more castles, no more magnates of the land. The
emperor had promised as much in Vienna. He had sworn to free the
Hungarian peasantry, and to bring the proud noble down to an equality
with his serf.
The hour for fulfilment had arrived. All the new laws regarded the
nobles alone, they had no reference to the peasantry whom the emperor
had promised to make free, happy, and rich. He needed the help of his
Hungarians. They must complete what he had begun. The peasant was to be
free, happy, rich.
This was the magic song which attracted the boor from his thatch under
the hill, and the goat-herd from his hut amid the mountain-peaks.
Horja was the Arion who sang--and now to his standard flocked thousands
of deluded beings, all eager to complete the work which the emperor had
begun. Joseph had made them free--it remained for themselves to plunder
the nobles, and appropriate their long-hoarded wealth. It was the
emperor's will. He hated the Magyars, and loved the peasantry.
If ever any of those poor, ignorant wretches held back, Horja showed
them a massive gold chain to which the emperor's portrait was attached.
This had been sent to him by Joseph himself, and in proof thereof he had
a parchment full of gilt letters, with a great seal attached to it,
which made him Captain-General of Hungary. They could all come and read
the emperor's own writing if they chose.
Poor fellows! None of them knew how to read, so that Krischan, a friend
of Horja and a priest of the Greek Church, read it for all who doubted.
This brought conviction to the most skeptical. That a Greek priest could
read a lie, never once entered the heads of these simple children of
Now commenced the carnage. The nobles were imprisoned and murdered,
their castles burned, and their fields laid waste. The aristocracy of
the borders, whose territorial domains the insurgents had not yet
reached, armed themselves, and having captured some of the rebels, put
them to death under circumstances of exaggerated cruelty, executing them
by the power which the Magyar possessed of administering justice as an
These executions, unsanctioned by the emperor, raised the indignation of
the people to ungovernable fury, and they now demanded the entire
extinction of the nobles. They were summoned to resign their titles,
and, until the coronation of Joseph, the rightful King of Hungary, they
were to obey their lawful ruler, Horja.
The nobles, not having condescended to take any notice of Horja's
summons, the people began to pillage and murder with redoubled fury.
They spared every thing, however, belonging to the emperor--the only
nobleman who, for the future, was to be suffered to own land in Hungary.
Joseph could no longer turn a deaf ear to the remonstrances of the
Magyars. He had hoped to be able to quell the rebellion by lenity,
offering a general amnesty to all offenders with the exception of Horja,
for whose capture a reward of three hundred ducats was offered.
But the poor, deluded peasantry, having faith in no one but Horja,
thought that the offer of pardon was nothing but an artifice of the
enemy. The emperor, then was obliged to march the imperial troops
against the people, and to bring about with musket and cannon what he
had hoped to accomplish through moral suasion.
Horja, finding that he had nothing more to hope from the clemency of the
emperor, tried to induce the disaffected nobles to accept his peasantry,
and rebel against Joseph. But they rejected the offer with disdain, and
gave their support to the imperial troops.
Thousands delivered themselves up, imploring mercy, which was granted
them. Thousands fled to the mountains, and thousands were taken
prisoners. Among these latter were Horja and Krischan. Both were
condemned to death. Horja pleaded hard to be allowed to see the emperor,
alleging that he had something of importance to communicate to him, but
his prayer was not granted.
Perhaps Joseph suspected that Horja would prove to him, what he already
dreaded to know, namely, that the nobles had connived at this
insurrection of the peasantry to frighten him with the consequences of
his own acts.
Horja was not permitted, then, to see his sovereign. He was broken on a
wheel on the market-place at Carlsburg, and two thousand of the cap-bared
insurgents were forced to witness the cruel spectacle. [Footnote: On the
3d of January, 1785.]
Thus ended this fearful outbreak, by which four thousand men perished,
sixty-two villages and thirty-two castles were consumed; and the deluded
peasantry, instead of freedom, happiness, and wealth, found threefold
oppression at the hands of their masters. The magnates and nobles,
meanwhile, stood upon the ruins of their castles, and cried out:
"This is the work of Joseph! These are the fruits of his insensate
reforms!" [Footnote: Hubner, i., p. 273 Gross-Hoffinger, iii., p. 135.
Ramshorn, p. 138.]
THE JEW'S REVENGE.
The emperor paced his cabinet in unusual agitation. Contrary to his
daily habits, the Controlorgang was closed, and his secretaries had been
ordered to remain in the chancery, and do their writing there.
The emperor had been weeping; and he wished his anguish to be hidden
from any eye save that of God.
A great sorrow had befallen him. Gunther, his indefatigable co-laborer,
the trustiest of counsellors, the man whom, next to Lacy and Rosenberg,
he loved best on earth--Gunther had betrayed him! He had sold a secret
of state for gold!
There, before him on the table, lay the reports of the secret police,
whose duty it was to open all letters passing through the post, and to
present such as looked suspicious. [Footnote: "The Emperor Franz and
Metternich: a Fragment." (From Hormayer, p. 795)] Among these letters
was one which strongly inculpated Gunther. It was written by Baron
Eskeles Flies to a commercial friend in Amsterdam. It stated that he
(Eskeles Flies) had just received a communication of such vital
importance that it was worth much more to him than the thousand ducats
he had paid to his informer. The emperor, tired of his contention with
Holland regarding the navigation of the Scheldt, had agreed to accept
the ten millions offered by Holland in return for his guaranty that she
should still preserve her right to demand toll of all ships passing
through that portion of the river which was within the Dutch boundaries.
[Footnote: Joseph had claimed from Holland the right to navigate the
Scheldt and the canals dug by the Dutch, free of toll. These latter
refused, and the emperor forth-with marched his troops into Holland. He
had expected to be sustained by the other maritime powers of Europe, but
they protecting the Dutch, Joseph was obliged to withdraw his troops.