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Joseph II. and His Court by L. Muhlbach

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in a quarter of an hour the princess will visit the imperial vault. Now,
princess," continued the empress as the page left the room, "you will
not surely have the hardihood to say again, 'I cannot?'"

"No," faltered Josepha, "I will obey. But one thing I must ask. Does
your majesty wish to kill me?"

"What do you mean, child?"

"I mean that I will die, if you force me to this vault," replied
Josepha, pale as death. "I feel it in the icy chill that seizes my heart
even now. I tell you, mother, that I will die, if you send me to the
fearful place where Josepha's corpse infects the air with its
death-mould. Do you still desire that I shall go?"

"You need not seek to frighten me, Josepha; stratagem will avail you
nothing," replied the empress, coldly. "It is not given to mortals to
know the hour of their death, and I cannot allow myself to be influenced
by such folly. Go, my child, there is nothing to fear; the spirits of
your forefathers will shield you from harm," added she kindly.

"I go," replied Josepha; "but my mother has sentenced me to death."

She bent her head and left the room. The empress looked after her
daughter as she went, and a sudden pang shot through her heart. She felt
as though she could not let her go--she felt as if she must call her
back, and pressing her to her heart, release her from the ordeal which
tried her young soul so fearfully.

Just then the princess, who had reached the door, turned her large dark
eyes with another look of entreaty. This was enough to restore the
empress to her self-possession.

She would not call her back. She saw rather than heard the trembling
lips that strove to form a last appeal for mercy, and the graceful
figure vanished.

When she was out of sight, all the tenderness, all the anxiety of the
empress returned. She rushed forward, then suddenly stood still and
shaking her head, she murmured, "No! no! It would be unpardonable
weakness. I cannot yield. She must go to the grave of her fathers."



The messenger had returned, the carriage waited, and Josepha had no
longer a pretext for delaying her visit to the vault. She must obey her
mother's behest--she must perform the horrible pilgrimage! Pale and
speechless she suffered her attendants to throw her mantle around her,
and then, as if in obedience to some invisible phantom that beckoned her
on, she rose from her seat and advanced rigidly to the door. Suddenly
she paused, and, turning to her maid of honor, she said, "Be so kind as
to call my sister Antoinette, I must bid her farewell."

A few moments elapsed, when the door opened and the Archduchess Marie
Antoinette flew into her sister's arms. Josepha pressed her closely to
her heart.

"I could not go, my darling" whispered she, "without once more seeing
you. Let me look, for the last time, upon that sweet face, and those
bright eyes that are lit up with the blue of heaven. Kiss me, dear, and
promise not to forget me."

"I can never forget, never cease to love you, sister," replied the
child, returning Josepha's caresses. "But why do you say farewell? Why
are you crying? Are you going to leave us already for that young king
who is to take you away from us? Oh, Josepha, how can you love a man
whom you have never seen?"

"I do not love the King of Naples, dear child," said Josepha, sadly.
"Oh, Antoinette! would you could understand my sorrows!"

"Speak, dear sister," replied Antoinette, tenderly. "Am I not twelve
years old, and does not the Countess Lerchenfeld tell me, every time I
do wrong, that I am no longer a child? Tell me, then, what grieves you?
I will keep your secret, I promise you."

"I weep," said Josepha, "because it is so sad to die before one has
known the happiness of living."

"Die!" exclaimed Antoinette, turning pale. "Why do you speak of dying,
you who are about to become a queen?"

"I shall never live to be a queen, my sister. The empress has commanded
me to visit the imperial vault. I go thither to-day; in a few days I
shall be carried thither, never to return. [Footnote: The princess's own
words. See "Memoires sur la Vie Privee de Marie Antoinette," par Madame
Campan, vol i., p. 38.] Farewell, Antoinette; I leave you to-day, but
I leave you for the grave."

"'No, no, no!" screamed the child. "You shall not go. I will throw
myself at the feet of the empress, and never rise until she has released
you, dear sister."

"Have you yet to learn that the empress never retracts her words? It is
useless. I trust go, and my death-warrant is signed."

"It shall not be!" cried Antoinette, beside herself with grief. "Wait
dear, Josepha, until I return. I go to obtain your release."

"What can you say to the empress, my poor little one?"

"I will beg for mercy, and if she will not listen, I shall rise and tell
her fearlessly, 'Your majesty, Josepha says that you have sentenced her
to death. No mortal has power over the life of an imperial princess; God
alone has that power. My sister must not go into the vault, for if she
does, she dies, and that by your hand.'"

And as the child spoke these words, she threw back her head, and her
eyes darted fire. She looked like her mother.

"I see, Antoinette," said Josepha, with a smile, "that you would not
submit tamely to death. You have a brave soul, my little sister, and
will know how to straggle against misfortune. But I--I have no spirit, I
can only suffer and obey; and before I die, I must open my heart to
you--you shall receive my last thoughts."

Marie Antoinette looked with tearful eyes at her sister, and sank, white
as a lily, on her knees.

"I am ready," said she, folding her hands, while Josepha bent forward,
and laid her hand, as with a blessing, upon Antoinette's soft blond

"When I am dead," said Josepha, "go to my sisters, and beg them to
forgive my unkind words. Tell them that I loved them all dearly. Say to
Maria Amelia that she must pardon my unsisterly conduct. It arose, not
from haughtiness, but from despair. For, Antoinette, I hated the King of
Naples, and well I knew what a miserable fate awaited me as his queen.
But there was no rescue for me, that I knew; so I tried to hide my grief
under the semblance of exultation. Tell her to forgive me for the sake
of the tears I have shed in secret over this hated betrothal. How often
have I called upon death to liberate me! and yet, now that the dark
shadow of Azrael's icy wing is upon me, I fear to die."

"Let me die for you, sister!" exclaimed Antoinette, resolutely. "Give me
the hood and mantle. I will cover my face, and no one will know that it
is I, for I am almost as tall as you. If I never return from the vault
alive, the empress will pardon you for my sake. Oh, I should die happy,
if my death would rescue you, Josepha."

And Antoinette attempted to draw off her sister's mantle, and put it
around her own shoulders. But Josepha withheld her.

"Dear child," said she, kissing her, "is it possible that you are
willing to die for me, you who are so young and happy?"

"For that very reason, Josepha," said Antoinette, "it might be well to
die. Who knows what sorrows the world may have in reserve for me? Let me
die to-day, dear sister, let me--"

At that moment the door opened, and the maid of honor of the Archduchess
Josepha appeared.

"Pardon me, your highness," said she deprecatingly. "A page of her
majesty is here to know if you have gone to the imperial vaults."

"Apprise her majesty that I am about to leave," replied Josepha, with
dignity. Taking Antoinette in her arms, she said, in a whisper: "You
see, it is I who must die. Farewell, dearest; may you live and be

So saying, she tore herself away from the weeping child and hastened to
her carriage. Antoinette, with a shriek, rushed forward to follow, but
Josepha had fastened the door. The poor child sank on her knees and
began to pray. But prayer brought no consolation. She thought of her
sister dying from terror, and wrung her hands while she cried aloud.

Suddenly she ceased, started to her feet, and the blood mounted to her
pale face.

"The secret door!" exclaimed she. "I had forgotten it." She crossed the
room toward a picture that hung on a wall opposite, and touching a
spring in its frame, it flew back and revealed a communication with one
of the state-apartments. She sprang through the opening, her golden hair
flying out in showers behind her, her cheeks glowing, her eyes flashing,
and her heart beating wildly as she sped through the palace to the
empress's apartments. The sentry would have stopped her; but throwing
him off with an imperious gesture, she darted through the door, and all
ceremony forgetting, flew to the sitting-room of the empress, and threw
herself at her mother's feet.



Maria Theresa was standing in the embrasure of a window, and she
scarcely turned her head as she heard the rustling behind her. She took
no notice of the breach of etiquette of which Antoinette was guilty, in
rushing unannounced upon her solitude. Her eyes were fixed upon the
chapel of the Capuchins in whose vaults lay so many whom she had loved.
Her heart and thoughts were within those gray walls, now with her
husband and her dead children, now with Josepha, for whom she felt pang
after pang of anxiety. In an absent tone she turned and said:

"What brings you hither, little Antoinette?"

"Josepha, dear mother. Have pity on Josepha!"

The empress, with a thrill of joy at her heart, replied, "She did not
go, then?"

"Yes, yes, she went because you forced her to go, but she went with a
broken heart. Oh, mamma, Josepha says that the dead are waiting to take
her with them! May I not order my carriage and fly to bring her back?"

Maria Theresa said nothing. Her eyes turned first upon the beautiful
little suppliant at her feet, then they wandered out through the evening
haze, and rested on the dark towers of the Capuchin chapel.

"Oh, dear mamma," continued Antoinette, "if I may not bring her back, at
least let me share her danger. Be good to your poor little Antoinette.
You promised, if I behaved well, to do something for me, mamma, and now
I deserve a reward, for Count Brandeis says that I have been a good girl
of late. Do not shake your head, it would make me better if I went to
pray with Josepha. You do not know how vain and worldly I am. When I saw
Josepha's beautiful jewels I was quite envious of her; and indeed,
mamma, no one needs solitude and prayer more than I. Let me go and pray
for grace by the grave of my father."

The empress laid her hand upon her daughter's head, and looked at her
beautiful countenance with an expression of deepest tenderness.

"You are a noble-hearted child, my Antoinette," said she. "With such
sensibility as yours, you are likely to suffer from the faults and
misconceptions of the world; for magnanimity is so rare that it is often
misunderstood. You would share your sister's danger, while believing in
its reality. No, no, darling, I cannot accept your generous sacrifice.
It would be useless, for Josepha's terror will shorten her prayers.
Before you could reach the chapel, she will have left it--"

Maria Theresa paused, and again looked out from the window. The rolling
of carriage-wheels was distinctly heard coming toward the palace. Now it
ceased, and the sentry's voice was heard at the gates.

"Ah!" cried the empress, joyfully, "I was right. It is Josepha. Her
devotions have not been long; but I will confess to you, Antoinette,
that a weight is lifted from my heart. I have not breathed freely since
she left my presence. Oh, I will forgive her for her short prayers, for
they have shortened my miserable suspense!"

"Let me go and bring her to you, mamma." cried Antoinette, clapping her
hands and darting toward the door. But the empress held her back.

"No, dear, remain with me. Josepha's heart will reveal to her that her
mother longs to welcome her back."

At that moment a page announced the Countess Lerchenfeld.

"It is not my child!" cried the empress, turning pale.

The countess, too, was very pale, and she trembled as she approached the
imperial mother.

"She is dead!" murmured Marie Antoinette, sinking almost fainting to the

But the empress called out, "Where is my child! In mercy, tell me why
you are here without her?"

"Please your majesty," replied the countess, "I come to beg that you
will excuse her highness. She has been suddenly taken sick. She was
lifted insensible to the carriage, and has not yet recovered her

Maria Theresa reeled, and a deathly paleness overspread her countenance.
"Sick!" murmured she, with quivering lip. "What--what happened?"

"I do not know, your majesty. Accordng to your imperial command I
accompanied her highness to the chapel. I went as far as the stairway
that leads to the crypts. Her highness was strangely agitated. I tried
to soothe her, but as she looked below, and saw the open door, she
shuddered, and clinging to me, whispered: 'Countess, I scent the
loathesome corpse that even now stirs in its coffin at my approach.'
Again I strove to comfort her, but all in vain. Scarcely able to support
herself, she bade me farewell, and commended herself to your majesty.
Then, clinging to the damp walls, she tottered below, and disappeared."

"And did you not hold her back!" cried Marie Antoinette. "You had the
cruelty to leave her--"

"Peace, Antoinette," said the empress, raising her hand, imploringly.
"What else?" asked she, hoarsely.

"I stood at the head of the stairway, your majesty, awaiting her
highness's return. For a while all was silent; then I heard a piercing
shriek and I hastened to the vault--"

"Was it my child?" asked the empress, now as rigid as a marble statue.

"Yes, your majesty. I found her highness kneeling, with her head resting
upon the tomb of the emperor."


"No, your majesty. I approached and found her icy cold, her eyes
dilated, and her face covered with drops of cold sweat. She was scarcely
able to speak, but in broken accents she related to me that, as she was
making her way toward the altar at the head of the emperor's tomb, she
suddenly became sensible that something was holding her back.
Horror-stricken, she strove to fly, but could not. When, as she turned
her head, she beheld the coffin of the Empress Josepha, and saw that
from thence came the power that held her back. With a shriek she bounded
forward, and fell at the foot of the emperor's tomb. I supported her
until we reached the chapel--door, when she fainted, and I had to call
for help to bear her to her carriage."

"And now?" asked the empress, who was weeping bitterly.

"She is still unconscious, your majesty. Herr van Swieten and the
emperor are at her bedside."

"And I," cried the unhappy empress, "I, too, must be with my poor,
martyred child."

Marie Antoinette would have followed, but her mother bade her remain,
and hastening from the room, Maria Theresa ran breathless through the
corridors until she reached her daughter's apartments.

There, like a crushed lily, lay the fair bride of Naples, while near her
stood her brother in speechless grief. At the foot of the bed Van
Swieten and one of the maids of honor were rubbing her white feet with

The empress laid her hand upon Josepha's cold brow, and turning to Van
Swieten, as though in his hands lay the fate of her child, as she asked:

"Will she die?"

"Life and death," replied the physician, "are in the hands of the Lord.
As long as there is life, there is hope."

Maria Theresa, shook her head. "I have no hope," said she, with the
calmness of despair. "'Tis the enemy of our house. Is it not, Van
Swieten? Has she not the small-pox?"

"I fear so, your majesty."

"She must die, then--and it is I who have murdered her!" shrieked the
empress, wildly; and she fell fainting to the floor.

On the fifteenth of October, the day on which Josepha was to have given
her hand to the King of Naples, the bells of Vienna tolled her funeral

Not in her gilded carriage rode the fair young bride, but cold and
lifeless she lay under the black and silver pall on which were placed a
myrtle-wreath and a royal crown of gold.

Another Spouse had claimed her hand, and the marriage-rites were
solemnized in the still vaults of the chapel of the Capuchins.

The empress had not left her daughter's room since the fatal day of her
return from the chapel. With all the tenderness of her affectionate
nature she had been the nurse of her suffering child. Not a tear was in
her eye, nor a murmur on her lips. Silent, vigilant, and sleepless, she
had struggled with the foe that was wresting yet another loved one from
her house.

Day by day Josepha grew worse until she lay dying. Still the empress
shed no tear. Bending over her daughter's bed, she received her last
sigh. And now she watched the corpse, and would not be moved, though the
emperor and Van Swieten implored her to seek rest.

When the body was removed, the poor, tearless mourner followed it from
the room through the halls and gates of the palace until it was laid in
the grave.

Then she returned home, and, without a word, retired to her own
apartments. There, on a table, lay heaps of papers and letters with
unbroken seals. But the empress heeded nothing of all this. Maternity
reigned supreme in her heart--there was room in it for grief and remorse
alone. She strode to the window, and there, as she had done not many
days before, she looked out upon the gray towers of the chapel, and
thought how she had driven her own precious child into the dismal depths
of its loathsome vaults.

The door was softly opened, and the emperor and Van Swieten were seen
with anxious looks directed toward the window where the empress was

"What is to be done?" said Joseph. "How is she to be awakened from that
fearful torpor?"

"We must bring about some crisis," replied Van Swieten, thoughtfully.
"We must awake both the empress and the mother. The one must have
work--the other, tears. This frozen sea of grief must thaw, or her
majesty will die."

"Doctor," cried Joseph, "save her, I implore you. Do something to
humanize this marble grief."

"I will try, your majesty. With your permission I will assemble the
imperial family here, and we will ask to be admitted to the presence of
the empress. The Archduchess Marie Antoinette and the Archduke
Maximilian I shall not summon."

Not long after, the door was once more softly opened, and the Emperor
Joseph, followed by his sisters and the doctor, entered the empress's

Maria Theresa was still erect before the window, staring at the dark
towers of the chapel.

"Your majesty," said Joseph, approaching, "your children are here to
mourn with you."

"It is well," replied Maria Theresa, without stirring from her position.
"I thank you all. But leave me, my children. I would mourn alone."

"But before we go, will not your majesty vouchsafe one look of
kindness?" entreated the emperor. "May we not kiss your hand? Oh, my
beloved mother, your living children, too, have a right to your love! Do
not turn away so coldly from us. Let your children comfort their sad
hearts with the sight of your dear and honored countenance."

There was so much genuine feeling in Joseph's voice, as he uttered these
words, that his mother could not resist him. She turned and gave him her

"God bless you, my son," said she, "for your loving words. They fall
like balsam upon my sore and wounded heart. God bless you all, my
children, who have come hither to comfort your poor, sorrowing mother."

The archduchesses flocked, weeping to her side, and smiled through their
tears, as they met her glance of love. But suddenly she started, and
looked searchingly around the room.

"Where are my little ones?" said she anxiously.

No one spoke, but the group all turned their eyes upon Van Swieten,
whose presence, until now, had been unobserved by the empress.

Like an angry lioness, she sprang forward to the threshold, and laid her
hand upon Van Swieten's shoulder.

"What means your presence here, Van Swieten?" cried she loudly. "What
fearful message do you bear me now? My children my children! where are

"In their rooms, your majesty," replied Van Swieten, seriously. "I came
hither expressly to apologize for their absence. It was I who prevented
them from coming."

"Why so?" exclaimed the empress.

"Because, your majesty, they have never had the small-pox; and contact
with you would be dangerous for them. For some weeks they must absent
themselves from your majesty's presence."

"You are not telling me the truth, Van Swieten!" cried Maria Theresa,
hastily. "My children are sick, and I must go to them."

"Your majesty may banish me forever from the palace," said he, "but as
long as I remain, you cannot approach your children. It is my duty to
shield them from the infection which still clings to your majesty's
person. Would you be the probable cause of their death?"

The earnest tone with which Van Swieten put this question so overcame
the empress, that she raised both her arms, and cried out in a voice of
piercing anguish: "Ah! it is I who caused Josepha's death!--I who
murdered my unhappy child!"

These words once uttered, the icy bonds that had frozen her heart gave
way, and Maria Theresa wept.

"She is saved!" whispered Van Swieten to the emperor. "Will your majesty
now request the archduchesses to retire? The empress does not like to be
seen in tears; and this paroxysm once over, the presence of her
daughters will embarrass her."

The emperor communicated Van Swieten's wish, and the princesses silently
and noiselessly withdrew. The empress was on her knees, while showers of
healing tears were refreshing her seethed heart.

"Let us try to induce her to rise," whispered Van Swieten. "This hour,
if it please God, may prove a signal blessing to all Austria."

The emperor approached, and tenderly strove to lift his mother, while he
lavished words of love and comfort upon her. She allowed him to lead
tier to a divan, where gradually the tempest of her grief gave place to
deep-drawn sighs, and, finally, to peace. The crisis, however, was long
and terrible, for the affections of Maria Theresa were as strong as her
will; and fierce had been the conflict between the two.

For some time a deep silence reigned throughout the room. Finally, the
empress raised her eyes and said, "You will speak the truth, both of
you, will you not?"

"We will, your majesty," replied the emperor and Van Swieten.

"Then, Joseph, say--are my children well and safe?"

"They are, my dearest mother, and but for the doctor's prohibition, both
would have accompanied us thither."

Maria Theresa then turned to the physician. "Van Swieten," said she,
"you, too, must swear to speak the truth. I have something to ask of you

"I swear, your majesty," replied Van Swieten.

"Then say if I am the cause of my daughter's death. Do not answer me at
once. Take time for reflection, and, as Almighty God hears us, answer me

There was a pause. Nothing was heard save the heavy breathing of the
empress, and the ticking of the golden clock that stood upon the mantel.
Maria Theresa sat with her head bowed down upon her hands; before her
stood Joseph, his pale and noble face turned toward the physician, and
his eyes fixed upon him with an expression of deepest entreaty. Van
Swieten saw the look and answered it by a scarcely perceptible motion of
his head.

"Now, speak, Van Swieten," said the empress, raising her head, and
looking him full in the face." Was Josepha's visit to the chapel-vault
the cause of her death?"

"No, your majesty," said the physician gravely. "In THIS SENSE you
were not guilty of her highness's death; for the body, in smallpox, is
infected long before it shows itself on the surface. Had her highness
received the infection in the crypts of the chapel, she would be still
living. Her terror and presentiment of death were merely symptoms of the

The empress reached out both her hands to Van Swieten, and said: "Thank
you, my friend. You surely would not deceive me with false comfort; I
can, therefore, even in the face of this great sorrow, find courage to
live and do my duty. I may weep for my lost child, but while weeping I
may feel that Heaven's will, and not my guilt, compassed her death.
Thank you, my dear son, for your sympathy and tenderness. You will never
know what comfort your love has been to me this day."

So saying, she drew the emperor close to her, and putting both her arms
around his neck, kissed him tenderly.

"Van Swieten," said she, then, "what do you mean by saying that 'in this
sense' I was not guilty of Josepha's death."

"I think, your majesty," replied the emperor, "that I can explain those
words. He means to say that had you yielded to his frequent petitions to
make use of inoculation as a safeguard against the violence of the
small-pox, our dear Josepha might have survived her attack. Is it not
so, Van Swieten?"

"It is, your Majesty. If the empress would consent to allow the
introduction in Austria of inoculation for the small-pox, she would not
only shield her own family from danger, but would confer a great
blessing on her subjects."

"Indeed, Van Swieten," replied the empress, after a pause, "what you
propose seems sinful to me. Besides, I have heard that many who were
inoculated for small-pox have died of its effects. But for this, they
might have lived for many years. How can I reconcile it to my conscience
to assume such an awful responsibility?" "But," urged Van Swieten,
"thousands have been rescued, where two or three have perished. I do not
say that the remedy is infallible; but I can safely say that out of one
hundred cases, ninety, by its use, are rendered innoxious. Oh, your
majesty! when you remember that within ten years five members of your
family have been victims to this terrific scourge--when you remember how
for weeks Austria was in extremest sorrow while your majesty lay so ill,
how can you refuse such a boon for yourself and your people?"

"It is hard for me to refuse any thing to the one whose skilful hand
restored me to life," replied the empress, while she reached her hand to
Van Swieten.

"My dear, dear mother!" exclaimed Joseph, "do not refuse him! He asks
you to save the lives of thousands. Think how different life would have
been for me had my Isabella lived! Think of my sister;--think of
Antoinette and Maximilian, who long to be with you and cannot."

"Doctor," said the empress, "if my children were inoculated, how long
would it be before I could see them?"

"In two hours, your majesty; for in that time the poison would have
permeated their systems."

By this time the empress had resumed her habit of walking to and fro
when she was debating any thing in her mind. She went on for some time,
while Van Swieten and the emperor followed her movements with anxious

Finally sire spoke. "Well, my son," said she, coming close to Joseph,
and smiling fondly upon him, "I yield to you as co-regent of Austria.
You, too, have some right to speak in this matter, and your wishes shall
decide mine. To you, also, Van Swieten, I yield in gratitude for all
that you have done for me and mine. Let Austria profit by this new
discovery, and may it prove a blessing to us all! Are you satisfied,

"More than satisfied," exclaimed he, kissing his mother's hand.

"Now, Van Swieten," continued Maria Theresa, "hasten to inoculate my
children. I long to fold them to my poor aching heart. Remember, you
have promised that I shall see them in two hours!"

"In two hours they shall be here, your majesty," said Van Swieten, as he
hurried away.

"Stop a moment," cried Maria Theresa. "As you have been the instigator
of this thing, upon your shoulders shall fall the work that must arise
from it. I exact of you, therefore, to superintend the inoculation of my
subjects, and your pay as chief medical inspector shall be five thousand
florins. I also give my palace at Hetzendorf as a model hospital for the
reception of the children of fifty families, who shall there be
inoculated and cared for at my expense. This is the monument I shall
erect to my beloved Josepha; and when the little ones who are rescued
from death thank God for their recovery, they will pray for my poor
child's departed soul. Does this please you, my son?"

The emperor did not answer--his heart was too full for speech. The
empress saw his agitation, and opening her arms to clasp him in her
embrace, she faltered out, "Come, dear child, and together let us mourn
for our beloved dead." [Footnote: The institution founded on that day by
the empress went very soon into operation. Every spring the children of
fifty families among the nobles and gentry were received at the hospital
of Hetzendorf. The empress was accustomed to visit the institution
frequently; and at the end of each season, she gave its little inmates a
splendid ball, which was always attended by herself and her daughters.
The festivities closed with concerts, lotteries, and a present to each
child. Caroline Pichler, "Memoirs," Vol. i., p. 68. Coxe, "History of
the House of Austria," vol. v. p. 188.]



It was a lovely day in June--one of those glorious days when field and
wood are like a lofty cathedral, where the birds are the choir, and the
wind stirring the censers of the forest perfume, is the organ; while
man, in ecstasy with nature's beauty, glances enraptured from heaven to
earth--from earth again to heaven.

But pleasantest of all on such a day are the reveries that come and go
over the heart, under the shade of a noble oak that lifts its crowned
head to the clouds, while birds twitter love-songs among its branches,
and lovers lie dreaming on the green sward below.

So thought a young man as he reclined under the shadow of a tall
beech-tree that skirted the green border of a meadow, somewhere near the
woods around Schonbrunn. He had fastened his horse to a tree not far
off, and while the steed cropped the fresh grass, its owner revelled in
the luxury of sylvan solitude. With an expression of quiet enjoyment he
glanced now upon the soft, green meadow, now at the dim, shady woods,
and then at the blue and silver sky that parted him from heaven.

"Oh! how delightful it is," thought he, "to drop the shackles of
royalty, and to be a man! Oh, beautiful sky, with livery of 'kaiser
blue,' change thy hue, and hide me in a dark cloud that I may be safe
from the homage of courtiers and sycophants! If they knew that I was
here, how soon would they pursue and imprison me again in my gilded cage
of imperial grandeur!"

Just then, in the distance, was heard the sound of a hunting horn, and
the emperor's soliloquy was cut short. An expression of annoyance was
visible on his features, as he listened. But instead of advancing, the
sounds receded until finally they were lost in the sighing of the wind
among the forest-trees.

"They have passed by," exclaimed he joyfully. "This day is mine, and I
am free. What a charm is in that word FREEDOM! I feel it now; no emperor
am I, but a man, to whom the animals will turn their backs, without
suspecting that they refuse to look upon an anointed sovereign. But
hark! what is that? A doe--a timid doe--perhaps an enchanted princess
who can resume her shape at the bidding of a prince only. Here am I,
sweet princess--ready, as soon as you become a woman, to leap into your

The emperor grasped his fowling-piece that was leaning against the
beech. But the doe caught the sound, raised her graceful head, and her
mild eye sought the enemy that threatened her. She saw him, and as he
raised the gun to take aim, she cleared the road with one wild bound,
and in a few moments was lost in a thicket.

The emperor leaped on his horse, exclaiming, "I must catch my enchanted
princess;" and giving his steed the rein, away they flew on the track of
the doe; away they flew over fallen trunks and through brier and copse,
until the panting steed would have recoiled before a wide hedge--but the
emperor cried, "Over it! over it! The princess is beyond!" and the
foaming horse gathered up his forelegs for the leap. He made a spring,
but missed, and with a loud crash, horse and rider fell into the ditch
on the farther side of the hedge.

The emperor fell under the horse, who, in its efforts to rise, inflicted
dreadful suffering upon its master. He felt that his senses were leaving
him, and thought that he was being crushed to death. The load upon his
breast was insufferable, and in his ears there came a sound like the
roaring of the ocean. He uttered one cry for help, commended himself to
Heaven, and fainted.

How long he lay there, he never knew. When he opened his weary eyes
again, he lay on the sward near the hedge, with his head resting upon
the lap of a beautiful girl, who was contemplating him with looks of
tenderest pity. By her side knelt another young girl, who was bathing
his temples with water.

"Look, Marianne," exclaimed she joyfully; "he begins to move. Oh, dear
sister, we have saved his life."

"Still, Kathi," whispered the other. "He has not yet his senses. He
looks as if he were dreaming of angels. But he will soon awake."

"I don't wonder that be dreams of angels, Marianne, when he looks at
you," said Kathi, contemplating her beautiful sister. "But now that he
is safe, I will go and look after his horse. Poor animal! he trembles
yet with fright, and I think he has lamed his leg. I will lead him to
the spring where he can drink and cool his foot. You know the curate
says that water is a great doctor for man and beast."

So saying she took up the bridle, and coaxing the horse gently, he
followed her, although he shuddered with the pain of his limb.

She disappeared behind a little grove of trees, while her sister
contemplated their handsome patient. He lay perfectly quiet, his eyes
open, but feeling too weary for speech. He felt uncertain whether he
waked or dreamed, nor did he care; for the present moment was
unutterably sweet. His pain was slight, and with his head pillowed upon
the lap of the lovely girl whose face was beautiful as that of Eve in
the groves of Eden, the emperor gazed on in rapture.

Marianne became gradually aware that his glances spoke admiration, for
her color slowly deepened, until it glowed like the petals of a
newly-opened rose. The emperor smiled as he watched her blushes. "Do
angels then blush?" asked he softly.

"He still dreams," said Marianne, shaking her head. "I thought just now
that his senses were returning."

"No, child," replied Joseph, "I do not dream. I see before me the
loveliest vision that ever blessed the eyes of man, or else--I have
overtaken the enchanted princess. Oh, princess! it was cruel of you to
lure one over that treacherous hedge!" Marianne looked alarmed. "Poor,
poor young man!" murmured she in a low voice, "he is delirious. I must
moisten his head again."

She extended her hand to the little pail that held the water, but Joseph
caught it, and pressed it warmly to his lips. Marianne blushed anew,
with painful embarrassment, and sought to withdraw her hand.

The emperor would not yield it. "Let me kiss the hand of the angel that
has rescued me from death," said he. "For 'tis you, is it not, who saved
my life?"

"My sister and I, sir, were coming through the wood," replied Marianne,
"when we saw your horse galloping directly toward the hedge. We knew
what must happen, and ran with all our might toward you, but before we
reached you, the horse had made the leap. Oh, I shudder when I think of

And her face grew white again, while her lustrous eyes were dimmed with

"Go on, go on, my--. No, I will not call you princess lest you should
think me delirious. I am not delirious, beautiful Marianne! but I dream,
I dream of my boyhood and almost believe that I have come upon enchanted
ground. Your sweet voice--your lovely face --this delicious wood--it all
seems like fairy-land! But speak on; where did you find me?"

"Under the horse, sir; and the first thing we did was to free you from
its weight. We took the rein, and, after some efforts, we got him to his
feet. Kathi led him away, and I--I--"

"You, Marianne! tell me--what did you do?"

"I," said she, looking down--"I bore you as well as I was able to this
spot. I do not know how I did it, but fright gives one very great

"Go on, go on!"

"We had been gathering mushrooms in the woods, when we saw you. As soon
as Kathi had tied the horse, she ran for her little pail, poured out the
mushrooms, and filling it with water, we bathed your head until you
revived. This, sir, is the whole history, and now that you have
recovered, I will help you to rise."

"Not yet, not yet, enchantress. I cannot raise my head from its
delicious pillow. Let me dream for a few moments longer. Fairy-land is
almost like heaven."

Marianne said no more, but her eyes sought the ground, and her face grew
scarlet. The emperor still gazed upon her wonderful beauty, and thought
that nothing he had ever seen in gilded halls could approach this
peasant-girl, whose red dress and black bodice were more dazzling to his
eyes than the laces and diamonds of all Vienna assembled.

"Where," asked he, observing that her snowy shoulders were bare, "where
did you get a kerchief to bathe my head?"

Marianne started and laid her hands upon her neck. "Good Heaven!"
murmured she to herself; "it was the kerchief from my own bosom!"
Unconsciously she reached her hand to take it from the pail.

"What!" said Joseph, stopping her; "would you wear that dripping
kerchief? No, no! let the sky, the birds, and the wood-nymphs look at
those graceful shoulders; and if I may not look, I will shut my eyes."

"Oh! do not shut your eyes; they are blue as the sky itself!" replied
Marianne. But as she spoke she drew forward the long braids that trailed
behind her on the ground, and quickly untwisting them, her hair fell in
showers around her neck and shoulders, so that they were effectually

"You are right," said the emperor. "Your hair is as beautiful as the
rest of your person. It surpasses the sables of a Russian princess. You
know perfectly well how to adorn yourself, you bewitching child."

"I did not mean to adorn myself, sir," said Marianne. "Why, then, did
you cover yourself with that superb mantle?"

"Because, sir, I--I was cold."

"Are you so icy, then, that you freeze in midsummer?"

She said nothing, but bent her head in confusion. Luckily, at that
moment, Kathi came in sight with the horse.

"Now, sir," exclaimed Marianne, "you can rise, can you not?"

"Not unless you help me, for my head is yet very light."

"Well, sir, if that be so, then stay where you are, and try to sleep,
while I pray to the blessed Virgin to protect you."

Meanwhile Kathi came forward, and, when she saw the emperor, nodded her

"God be praised, sir," cried she, "you have your senses once more! You
have gotten off cheaply with nothing but a black eye. But, bless me! how
quiet you are, Marianne! Who would think, that while the gentleman was
out of his senses, you were crying as if he had been your sweetheart!
Why, sir, her tears fell upon your face and waked you."

"Pardon me," whispered Marianne, "I wiped them away with the kerchief."

"Why did you deprive me of those sweet tears?" whispered the emperor.
But Kathi was talking all the while.

"Now," continued she, "try to get up. Put one arm around me, and the
other around Marianne, and we will set you upon your legs, to find out
whether they are sound. Come--one, two, three; now!" With the help of
the strong peasant-girl, the emperor arose and stood erect. But he
complained of dizziness, and would have Marianne to sustain him.

She approached with a smile, while he, drawing her gently to his side,
looked into her eyes. The poor girl trembled, she knew not why, for
assuredly she was not afraid.

Kathi, who had gone back for the horse, now came up, leading him to his
master. "Now," said she, "we are all ready to go. Your horse is a little
lame, and not yet able to bear you. Whither shall we lead you, sir?
Where is your home?"

"My home!" exclaimed the emperor, with troubled mien. "I had forgotten
that I had a home." This question had awakened him from his idyl.

"Where is my home?" echoed he sadly. "It is in Vienna. Can you put me on
the road thither?"

"That can we, sir; but it is a long way for such a gentleman as you to
travel on foot."

"Let us go, then, to the highway, and perhaps I may there find some

"Well, then," cried the gleeful Kathi, "forward, march!"

"Not yet, Kathi. Not until I have thanked you for the great service you
have rendered me. Let me give you some testimony of my gratitude. Before
we part, let me gratify some wish of yours. Speak first, Kathi."

"H'm," said Kathi, "I have many wishes. It is not so easy to say what I

"Well, take time, and think for a moment, child."

Kathi looked as if she were making a bold resolve.

"That ring upon your finger--it is the prettiest thing I ever saw. Will
you give it to me?"

"Kathi!" exclaimed Marianne, "how can you ask such a thing?"

"Why not?" returned Kathi, reddening; "did he not tell me to say what I

"Yes," said Marianne in a low voice, "but it may be a gift--perhaps it
is from his sweetheart!"

"No, Marianne," replied the emperor sadly, "I have no sweetheart. No one
cares whether I give or keep the ring. Take it, Kathi."

Kathi held out her hand, and when it had been placed upon her finger she
turned it around to see it glisten, and laughed for joy.

"And you, Marianne," said Joseph, changing his tone as he addressed the
beautiful creature who stood at his side, "tell me your wish. Let it be
something hard to perform, for then I shall be all the happier to grant

But Marianne spoke not a word.

"Why, Marianne," cried Kathi impatiently, "do you not see that he is a
rich and great lord, who will give you any thing you ask? Why do you
stand so dumb?"

"Come, dear Marianne," whispered the emperor, "have you no wish that I
can gratify?"

"Yes, sir," cried Marianne, in a voice scarcely audible.

"Speak it, then, sweet one, and it shall be granted."

"Then, sir," said Marianne, her cheeks glowing, though her eyes were
still cast down, "my father's house is hard by. Come and rest awhile
under his roof, and let me give you a glass of milk, and to your horse
some fresh hay."

The emperor seemed to grow very weak while Marianne spoke, for he clung
to her as though he had been afraid to fall.

"Yes, Marianne," replied he, "and God bless you for the kind suggestion!
Let me for once forget the world and imagine that I, too, am a peasant,
with no thought of earth beyond these enchanted woods. Take me to the
cottage where your father lives, and let me eat of his bread. I am

And the emperor, with his strange suite, set off for the cottage of
Conrad the peasant.



Old Conrad stood in his doorway, shading his old eyes from the sunbeams,
while he looked anxiously down the road that led to the village. It was
noonday, and yet the hearth of the kitchen was empty and cold. No kettle
was on the hob, no platter upon the table. And yet his daughters had
started early for the woods, and surely they must have gathered their
mushrooms hours ago.

The old peasant began to be anxious. If it had been Kathi alone, it
would have been easy enough to guess at the delay. She was gossiping
with Valentine, and forgetting that she had father or sister, home or
dinner. But Marianne was along, and she never flirted or loitered. What
could be the matter? But--what was that coming up the road? Marianne!
Yes, truly, Marianne with a fine lord at her side, who seemed closer to
her than propriety seemed to allow.

"Gracious Heaven!" thought the old man, "what has come over my bashful
Marianne? What would the villagers say if they should see her now? And
what comes behind? Kathi, with a horse. Are the maidens bewitched?"

They came nearer; and now Kathi, from the top of her voice, bade him

"Are we not fine, father?" cried she, with a loud laugh. But Marianne,
coming forward with the emperor, bent gracefully before her old father.

"See, dear father," said she in her soft, musical tones, "we bring you a
guest who to-day will share our humble dinner with us."

"A guest whose life has been saved by your daughters," added Joseph,
extending his hand.

"And a very rich somebody he must be, father," cried Kathi, "for see how
he has paid us for our help. Look at this brave ring, how it glistens!
It is mine; and Marianne might have had as much if she had chosen. But
what do you think she asked him?--to come home and get a glass of milk!"

"That was well done of my Marianne," said the father, proudly. "It would
have been a pity not to let me see the brave gentleman, if indeed you
have been so happy as to save his life. Come in, my lord, come in. You
are welcome. What we have we give cordially."

"And therefore what you give will be gratefully received," replied the
emperor, entering and seating himself.

"Now, sir," said Marianne, "I will go and prepare the dinner." So
saying, she passed into the cottage kitchen.

"That is a beautiful maiden," said Joseph, looking wistfully after the
graceful figure as it disappeared.

"They are my heart's joy, both of them," replied Conrad. "They are brisk
as fawns, and industrious as bees. And yet I am often sad as I look at

"Why so?"

"Because I am old and poor. I have nothing to leave them, and when I
die, they will have to go to service. That frets me. It is because I
love the maidens so dearly that I am troubled about them."

"Let their poverty trouble you no longer, my friend. I will provide for
them. I have it in my power to make them both comfortable, and that they
shall be, I promise you."

The old man spoke his thanks, and presently came Marianne to announce
the dinner. It was served in an arbor covered with honeysuckles and red
beans, and the emperor thought that he had never had a better dinner in
his imperial palace. The shackles of his greatness had fallen from him,
and he drank deeply of the present hour, without a thought for the
morrow. Marianne was at his side, and as he looked into the lustrous
depths of her dark eyes, he wished himself a peasant that he might look
into them forever.

Meanwhile Kathi and her father walked together in the garden. They were
both examining the diamond ring, and the hearts of both were filled with
ambitious thoughts and hopes.

"He must be very rich," said Kathi, in a low voice. "He has fallen in
love with Marianne, 'tis plain, and she has only to ask and have any
thing she likes. Look, father, he is kissing her! But don't let them see
you. The more he loves her, the more he will give us. But you must speak
to Marianne, father. She is as silly as a sheep, and doesn't care
whether we are poor or rich. Call her here, and tell her that she MUST
ask for a great sum of money--enough for us to buy a fine farm. Then
Valentine will marry me at once, and I shall be able to give a
wedding-dress to all the other maidens in the village."

"But suppose that the lord should want Marianne?" asked Conrad, turning

Kathi still held up her ring, and she turned toward the sun until it
seemed to be in a blaze. "Look, father," said she, in a low tone,

The eyes of the old man were fixed upon the jewel; and strange hopes,
with which, until now, he had been unacquainted, stirred his heart. The
serpent had found its way into Eden, and it spoke to both in the glitter
of this unhappy ring.

"Father," said Kathi, at length, "if Marianne had such a ring as this on
her finger she would find many hundred wooers who would forgive her for
having had ONE before them."

"Silence!" cried the old man. "If your mother were alive to hear these
guilty words, she would think that you were no longer innocent yourself.
How I wish she were here in this trying hour! But since you have no
parent but me, I must protect you from shame."

With these words the old man walked resolutely to the arbor, followed by
Kathi, who implored him not to ruin their fortunes.

"My lord," said Conrad, "the day wanes. If you intend to reach Vienna
tonight, you have no time to lose."

"Alas!" thought Joseph, "my dream is over. You are right," said he to
the peasant, "unless you will shelter me to-night."

"I have but one bed in my house, sir," replied Conrad, "and that is in
the little room of my daughters."

"Then let me sleep there," said Joseph, with the arrogance of one
accustomed to command.

"Oh!" faltered Marianne, springing to her father's side, as though she
would seek protection from these ensnaring words.

But Kathi shook her sister's arm, and surveying her blushing face,
exclaimed with a loud laugh, "You are a fool. What harm can it do us, if
the gentleman sleeps in our room? We can make ourselves a bed of hay on
the floor, and give him the bedstead. No one will ever think any the
less of us."

"I think so, too," said Joseph, who was now resolved to see of what
stuff the peasant was made. "Do not hesitate so. Let me sleep in your
daughters' room, and I will give you a handful of gold for my lodging."

Kathi gave a cry of delight, and going close to her father, she
whispered, "Father, you will not refuse! Think--a handful of gold! We
will be the richest farmers in the village! There are two of us--there
can be no danger."

"Well!" asked Joseph, impatiently, "have you decided? Did you not tell
me that you were poor? and is this not an opportunity I offer you to
enrich your daughters!"

"Sir," replied the old man, solemnly, "I do not know whether this
opportunity may not be for evil, instead of good. I am a poor and simple
farmer, and cannot decide for myself whether the mere fact of your
sleeping in the same room with my daughters is right or not. Our curate
is a very holy man; I will apply to him for advice."

"Very well," said Joseph, "go and fetch him, he shall decide."

Old Conrad left the garden, followed again by Kathi, who was resolved to
leave the great lord alone with her sister. Marianne, who before had
been so happy and unembarrassed, now started forward with the intention
of going with her father. But the emperor would not allow it. He caught
her by both hands and held her fast.

"Stay, frightened doe," said he softly. "You are right, dear child, to
tremble before men, for they are full of deceit; but do not be afraid of
me; I will not harm you."

Marianne raised her dark, tearful eyes to his face, and gradually a
smile lit up her lovely features.

"I believe you, my lord," said she. "You have, perhaps, already seen
that I would do any thing on earth for you, were it even to give up my
life; but for no one would I do that which my mother would blame if she
were living--on no account would I do that which I might not tell in
prayer to my heavenly Father."

The emperor looked once more at her lovely face.

"Oh, Marianne! why are you a peasant!" exclaimed he. Then raising his
eyes to heaven. "Almighty God," continued he, "shield her from harm. In
Thy presence I swear to protect her honor--even from myself. "

At that moment old Conrad appeared in the road. At his side was a little
old man in a faded cassock, whose spare white hair scarcely covered his
bald head.

Joseph came forward, holding Marianne by the hand. Kathi darted from the
house, laughing vociferously. The priest advanced, his eyes fixed upon
the face of the stranger. All at once, pointing with his finger to
Joseph, he cried out:

"Conrad, a great honor has befallen your house. Your guest is the

"The emperor!" exclaimed three voices--two in joyous notes, the third
with the cry of despair.

Conrad and Kathi were on their knees; Marianne leaned deathly pale
against the arbor.

"Yes, father," replied Joseph, mastering his annoyance at the
revelation; "yes, I am the emperor. But, my friends, do not offer me
such homage as belongs to God alone. Rise, Conrad. Old men should not
kneel before young ones. Rise, Kathi. Men should kneel before pretty
maidens, no matter whether they be princesses or peasants. And now,
father, hear my petition. I am tired and suffering. I have had a fall
from my horse, and I do not wish to go to-night to Vienna. I have
offered this old man a handful of gold to give me his only bed--the one
in his daughters' room. But he will not give his consent without your
approval. Decide between us, and remember who it is that asks for
lodging here."

The head of the old priest sank upon his breast.

"Oh," thought Kathi, "I hope he will say yes."

Marianne made not a movement, while her father looked anxiously toward
the priest.

"Well, father, well," cried Joseph. "You say nothing--and yet I have
told you that the emperor craves a night's lodging in the room of these
young girls. You see that I ask where I might command. I should think
that the lord of the whole land is also lord of the little room of two

"Yes, your majesty. You are lord of the room, but not of the honor of
these peasant-girls," replied the curate, raising his eyes, and steadily
meeting those of Joseph. [Footnote: "Life of Joseph II., Emperor of
Austria," vol iii., p. 89.]

"Nobly answered, father," replied the emperor, taking the old priest's
hand, and pressing it between his own. "Had you decided otherwise, I
would not have forgiven you. Before the servant of the Lord, the claims
of the sovereign are on an equality with those of his subject. Pardon
me, Conrad, for testing your honor as I did, and accept my horse as a
token of my respect. If you should ever wish to sell him, bring him to
the imperial stables, and he will be ransomed by me for a thousand

"Oh, your majesty," said the happy old man, "I shall die content for my
children are provided for."

"Now we are rich," cried Kathi, "the best match in the village will be
proud to marry either one of us."

The emperor, meanwhile, took out his pocket-book, and, tearing out a
leaf, wrote some words upon it.

Folding the paper, he advanced to Marianne, and handing it to her, said:

"My dear child, when your father presents this paper to the marshal of
my household, Count Rosenberg, he will give him in return for you five
hundred florins."

"Five hundred florins!" exclaimed Kathi, with envious looks.

"Take the paper, Marianne," pleaded the emperor. "It is your dowry."

Marianne raised her tearful eyes, but her hands did not move to take the
gift. She reflected for a moment, and then spoke.

"Five hundred florins," said she, "is not that a large sum?"

"It is, my child," replied Joseph.

"More than the value of the ring you gave my sister, is it not?" asked

The emperor looked disappointed. "Yes, Marianne," replied he, with a
sigh. "You have no reason to envy your sister. Kathi's ring is not worth
more than a hundred florins."

He still held the paper in his hands. Suddenly Marianne took it from
him, and crossed over to her sister.

"You hear, Kathi," said she, "you hear what the emperor says. This paper
is worth five times as much as your ring. Let us exchange."

So saying, she held out the paper, while Kathi with a scream of delight,
snatched it from her hand, and as quick as thought, drew the ring from
her own finger.

"If you repent your bargain, Marianne," said she, "so much the worse for
you. The dowry is mine--and mine it shall remain."

Marianne did not listen. She placed the ring upon her own hand, and
contemplated it with a smile of satisfaction. Then going up to the
priest, she addressed him with a grace that would have been winning in a

"Father," said she, "you have heard the exchange that Kathi and I have
made. The dowry is hers--the ring is mine. As long as I live, I shall
wear this token of my emperor's condescending goodness. And when I die,
father, promise me that my ring shall go with me to the grave."

The emperor, all etiquette forgetting, made a step forward, with his
arms extended. But recovering himself, he stopped; his arms dropped
heavily to his side, and he heaved a deep, deep sigh.

Instead of approaching Marianne, he drew near to the priest.

"Father," said he, "my mother will perhaps feel some anxiety on my
account. Will you be so kind as to accompany me to the post-house, where
I may perhaps be able to procure some vehicle for Vienna."

"I am ready, your majesty," replied the curate; "and if it pleases you,
we will set out at once."

"So be it," sighed Joseph. "Farewell, Conrad," continued he; "hearken to
the counsels of your excellent pastor, for he is a faithful servant of
God. Farewell, Kathi; now that you have a dowery, you will speedily find
a husband. Let me be godfather to the first baby."

Kathi blushed and laughed, while the emperor turned to the pale
Marianne. He took her hand, and, pressing it to his lips, he said to the
priest, who was looking on with anxious eyes--

"A man has the right to kiss the hand of a lovely and innocent girl like
this, even though he have the misfortune to be born an emperor. Has he
not, father?"

Without waiting for an answer, Joseph dropped the poor little cold hand,
and turned away.

The old priest followed, while Conrad and his daughters looked on,
scarcely crediting the evidence of their senses.

The emperor had reached the cottage-gate, when suddenly he turned, and
spoke again.

"Marianne, one last request. Will you give me the kerchief with which
you were bathing my head to-day? The evening air is pool about my
throat. I am subject to hoarseness."

Marianne was trembling so that she could not answer. But Kathi came
forward, and taking the kerchief from a rosebush where It had been hung
to dry, she ran forward, and gave it into the emperor's hands.

He bowed, and continued his way.

Marianne gazed wistfully down the road at the tall and noble form that
was disappearing from her sight--perhaps forever.



There was great activity in the private apartments of the empress. Maria
Theresa, whose forenoons were usually dedicated to business of state,
was now engaged in giving audience to jewellers, milliners, and

For whom were these preparations? No one knew, although every one
desired to know. The secret seemed especially to interest the two young
Archduchesses Caroline and Marie Antoinette. These silks, satins, laces,
and jewels signified--marriage. Of that, there could be no doubt. But
who was to be the bride? The Archduchess Elizabeth was past thirty.
Could it be that there was any truth in the rumor of a projected
marriage between herself and the old King of France? She was tired of
life at the court of Austria, and would have welcomed the change, had
the negotiations which were pending on that subject ever come to
anything. But they did not. [Footnote: They were frustrated by the
Countess du Barry, who never forgave the Duke de Choiseul for
entertaining the project. Du Barry prevailed upon the king to say that
he was too old to marry, and she revenged herself on Choiseul by
bringing about his disgrace. Alex. Dumas, "History of Louis XV."]

Caroline and Marie Antoinette were very incredulous when it was hinted
that their mother's preparations were intended for their eldest sister.
They laughed at the absurdity of Elizabeth's faded pretensions.

"It must be that I am about to be married," said Caroline, as she
entered her little sister's room one morning, in full dress. "The
empress has commanded my presence in her cabinet to-day, and that
betokens something unusual and important. But bless me you, too, are in
full dress?"

"Yes," said Marie Antoinette, laughing, and echoing her sister's words,
"it must certainly be myself that is about to be married, for the
empress has commanded my presence in her cabinet, and, of course, she
has something of great importance to communicate."

"How! You also?" exclaimed Caroline. "At what hour?"

"At twelve exactly, your highness," answered Marie Antoinette, with a
deep courtesy.

"The same hour. Then we must go together. I suppose that the empress
intends to propose a husband for me, and a new tutor for you,

"Pray, why not a husband?" laughed Marie Antoinette.

"Because, you saucy child," replied her sister, "husbands are not dolls
for little girls to play with."

Marie Antoinette tossed her pretty bead, saying, "Let me tell you,
Caroline, that little girls are sometimes as wise as their elders, and I
shall give you a proof of my superior wisdom, by not returning irony for
irony. Perhaps it may be you who is to be married--perhaps it may be
both of us. There are more crowns in Europe than one. But hark! there
sounds the clock. The empress expects us."

She gave her hand to her sister, and the two princesses went laughing
together to their mother's room.

The empress received them with an affectionate smile, and although her
daughters were accustomed to stand in her presence, to-day she told them
to sit on either side of her.

They were both beautiful, and their mother surveyed them with pride and

"Come, dear children," said she, "we will banish etiquette for a while.
To-day I am no empress, I am but a mother. But why do you both smile so
significantly at one another? Are you guessing at what is to be the
subject of our interview?"

"What can it be, your majesty," said Caroline gayly, "but the
explanation of the riddle that has been puzzling all the brains in the
palace for a month past?"

"You have guessed," answered Maria Theresa, laughing. "It is of your own
marriage that I would speak. I have accepted a crown for you, my
Caroline, and the ambassador who will conduct you to your kingdom is
already on his way. Your trousseau is magnificent and worthy of a queen.
Your fair brow was made for a royal diadem, and in yonder room lies one
that is made up of a constellation of diamonds."

"But the king--the man--who is he?" asked Caroline anxiously. "Tell me,
your majesty, to whom I am affianced?"

The empress's brow grew ruffled.

"My daughter," said she, "a princess marries not a king, but a kingdom.
It is given to few mortals wearing crowns to add to their royalty
domestic happiness. It becomes you more to ask whether you are to be a
great and powerful queen, than the name of the man who is to place his
crown upon your head."

The princess was silent, but she said to herself, "If she means to hand
me over to the horrid old King of France, I shall say emphatically--No!"

The empress went on. "Diplomacy is the wooer of royal maidens, and
diplomacy has chosen you both. For you, too, my little Antoinette, are
promised to the heir of a crown."

Marie Antoinette nodded to Caroline. "I told you so," said she. "Mamma
did not call me hither to propose a new tutor."

"Yes, my dear," said the empress, laughing, "I did call you hither for
that object also. A little girl who is destined to reign over one of the
greatest nations in the world must prepare herself conscientiously to
fill her station worthily. You have a noble mission, my child; through
your marriage the enmity so long subsisting between Austria and France
shall be converted into amity and concord."

"France!" screamed Antoinette. "Your majesty would surely not marry me
to the horrid old Louis XV.!"

"Oh no!" replied the empress, heartily amused. "You are affianced to his
grandson, who one of these days will be called Louis XVI."

Marie Antoinette uttered a cry and started from her seat. "Oh my God!"
exclaimed she.

"What--what is the matter?" cried Maria Theresa. "Speak, my child, what
ails you?"

"Nothing," murmured Antoinette, shaking her head sadly. "Your majesty
would only laugh."

"What is it? I insist upon knowing why it is that you shudder at the
name of Louis XVI.? Have you heard aught to his disadvantage? Has your
brother the emperor--"

"No, no," interrupted Marie Antoinette, quickly, "the emperor has never
mentioned his name to me. No one has ever spoken disparagingly of the
dauphin in my presence. What made me shudder at the mention of his
title, is the recollection of a fearful prophecy which was related to me
yesterday, by my French teacher, as we were reading the hisory of
Catherine de Medicis."

"Tell it to me, then, my daughter."

"Since your majesty commands me, I obey," said the young girl,
gracefully inclining her head. "Catherine de Medicis, though she was
very learned, was a very superstitious woman. One of her astrologers
owned a magic looking-glass. He brought it before the queen, and she
commanded him to show her in the mirror the destiny of her royal house.
He obeyed, and drew back the curtain that covered the face of the

"And what did she see there?" asked the empress, with interest.

Marie Antoinette continued: "She saw the lily-decked throne of France;
and upon it appeared, one after another, her sons, Henry, Francis, and
Charles. Then came her hated son-in-law, Henry of Navarre; after him,
Louis XIII.--then his grandson, Louis XIV., then Louis XV."

"And what then?"

"Then she saw nothing. She waited a few moments after Louis XV. had
disappeared, and then she saw a figure with a crown upon his head, but
this figure soon was hidden by a cloud; and, in his place, the throne
was filled with snakes and cats, who were tearing each other to pieces."

"Fearful sight!" said Maria Theresa, rising from her seat and walking
about the room.

"It was fearful to Catherine de Medicis, your majesty, for she fainted.
Now you know why I dread to be the bride of the one who is to be called
Louis XVI."

The empress said nothing. For a while, she went to and fro through the
room; then she resumed her seat, and threw back her proud head with a
forced smile.

"These are silly fables," said she, "tales with which nurses might
frighten little children, but only fit to provoke laughter from rational

"Pardon me, your majesty," interposed Antoinette "but Louis XV. is not
too rational to be affected by them."

"How do you know that, child?"

"I know it, your majesty, because Monsieur le Maitre, who published this
prophecy in his journal 'L'Espion Ture,' was imprisoned for fifteen
years in the Bastile, on account of it. He is still there, although he
has powerful friends who have interceded for him in vain." [Footnote:
Swinburne, p. 60.]

"And Aufresne told you all this?"

"Yes, your majesty."

"He ought to go to the Bastile with Le Maitre, then. But I hope that my
little Antoinette has too much sense to be affected by Aufresne's
nonsense, and that she will accept the husband whom her sovereign and
mother has chosen for her. It is a bright destiny, that of a Queen of
France; and if snakes and cats should come near your throne, you must
tread them under foot. Look up, my child, and have courage. In two years
you will be the bride of the dauphin. Prepare yourself meanwhile to be a
worthy representative of your native Austria. The Queen of France must,
as far as she is able, assimilate herself to the customs and language of
her people. With that intention, Prince Kaunitz has commissioned the
Duke de Choiseul to select you a new teacher. He will be accompanied by
two French ladies of honor. These people, my dear, are to form your
manners according to the requirements of court etiquette in France; but
in your heart, my child, I trust that you will always be an Austrian.
That you may not be too French, Gluck will continue to give you music
lessons. I flatter myself that the French cannot compete with us in
music. Study well, and try to deserve the brilliant destiny in store for

She drew Antoinette close to her and kissed her fondly.

"I will obey your majesty in all things," whispered the child, and sadly
she resumed her seat.

"Now, Caroline," continued the empress, "a word with you. You see with
what modesty and submission your sister has accepted her destiny. Follow
her example, and prepare yourself to receive your affianced husband,
Ferdinand of Naples."

It was Caroline, now, who turned pale and shuddered. She uttered a cry
of horror, and raised her hands in abhorrence. "Never! Never, your
majesty," cried she, "I cannot do it. You would not be so unnatural as

"And why not?" asked the empress, coldly.

"Because God Himself has declared against our alliance with the King of
Naples. He it is who interposed to save my sisters from this marriage.
In mercy, my mother, do not sentence me also to death!"

The empress grew pale, and her lip quivered. But Maria Theresa, was
forever warring with her own emotions, so that nothing was gained for
Caroline by this appeal to her maternal love.

"What!" exclaimed she, recovering her self-possession. "do you also seek
to frighten me? I am not the cowardly simpleton for which you mistake
me. As if the King of Naples were a vampire, to murder his wives at dead
of night! No, Caroline, no! If it has pleased the Almighty to afflict
me, by taking to Himself the two dear children who were to have been
Queens of Naples, it is a sad coincidence--nothing more."

"But I cannot marry him!" cried Caroline, wringing her hands; "I should
be forever seeing at his side the spectral figures of my dead sisters.
Mother, dear mother, have pity on me!"

"Have pity on her!" echoed Antoinette, kneeling at the empress's feet.

"Enough!" exclaimed Maria Theresa, in a commanding voice. "I have
spoken, it is for you to obey; for my word has been given, and I cannot
retract. If, as your mother, I feel my heart grow weak with sympathy for
your weakness, as your empress, I spurn its cowardly promptings; for my
imperial word shall be held sacred, if it cost me my life. Rise, both of
you. It ill becomes the Queens of France and Naples to bow their knees
like beggars. Obedience is more praiseworthy than humiliation. Go to
your apartments; pray for courage to bear your crosses, and God's
blessing will shield you from all evil."

"I will pray God to give me grace to die in His favor," faltered

"I will pray Him to take my life at once, rather than I should live to
share the destiny of Louis XVI.!" whispered Antoinette, while the two
imperial martyrs bowed low before their mother, and retired each to her

Maria Theresa looked after their sweet, childish figures, and when the
door had closed upon them, she buried her face in the cushions of the
sofa where they had been sitting together, and wept.

"My children! my children! Each a queen, and both in tears! Oh, Heavenly
Father, grant that I may not have erred, in forcing this weight of
royalty upon their tender heads. Mother of God, thou hast loved a child!
By that holy love, pray for those who would faint if their crowns should
be of thorns!"




Prince Kaunitz sat lazily reclining in his arm-chair, playing with his
jewelled snuff-box and listening with an appearance of unconcern to a
man who, in an attitude of profoundest respect, was relating to him a
remarkable story of a young emperor and a beautiful peasant-girl, in
which there was much talk of woods, diamonds, milk, and an Arabian

The smile that was upon the face of the minister might either betoken
amusement or incredulity.

The detective was at that period of his story where the emperor parted
from old Conrad and his daughters. He now paused to see the effect of
his narration.

"Very pretty, indeed," said the prince, nodding his head, "but romances
are out of fashion. In these days we prefer truth."

"Does your highness suppose I am not speaking truth'?" said the man.

Kaunitz took a pinch of snuff, and replied coldly, "I suppose nothing
about it. Somebody, I know, has been playing upon your love of the
marvellous. I know that you are not telling me the truth."

"Your highness!" exclaimed Eberhard, with the air of an injured man, "no
one can impose upon my credulity, for I believe nothing but that which I
see. I had this adventure from old Conrad himself, and I saw him receive
a thousand ducats for the horse. In the joy of his foolish old heart, he
told me the whole story; and as he saw the deep interest which I felt in
the tale, he invited me to his house, where I saw the beautiful
Marianne, with her diamond on her finger."

"Then you acted like a fool; for the emperor knows you as well as all
Vienna does, and he will be furious when he discovers that we have been
watching his pastoral amours."

"Indeed, your highness is right, I would be a poor fool to go there
without great precaution; for, as you very justly remarked, I am well
known in Vienna. But when I made the old peasant's acquaintance I was
disguised, and I defy anybody to know me when I choose to play
incognito. I wore a gray wig and a black patch over one eye. In this
dress I visited them, and had the story all over again, with variations,
from that coquettish village beauty, Kathi."

"How long ago?"

"Three weeks, your highness."

"How many times since then has the emperor visited his inamorata?"

"Six times, your highness. Old Conrad has bought a farm, where he lives
in a handsome house, in which each of his daughters now has a room of
her own. Marianne's room opens on the garden, where the emperor drinks
his milk and enjoys the privilege of her society."

"Have the girls any lovers?"

"Of course, your highness; but they have grown so proud that Kathi will
have nothing to say to her sweetheart, Valentine; while Marianne, it is
said has never encouraged any of the young men in the village. Indeed,
they are all afraid of her."

"Because they know that the emperor honors her with his presence?"

"No, your highness, the emperor has not allowed the family to whisper a
word of his agency in their newly-gotten wealth. They give out that it
is a legacy."

"Do the emperor and Marianne see one another in secret, without the
curate and the father's knowledge?"

Eberhard shrugged his shoulders. "Day before yesterday, Marianne went
alone to the woods to gather mushrooms, and never came home until dusk.
She had been lost in the woods. It was the day on which the emperor was
to visit the farm, but he did not come. Perhaps he got lost too.
To-morrow, Marianne is to gather mushrooms again. I, too, shall go--to
cut wood,"

"Is that all?" asked Kaunitz.

"That is all, for to-day, your highness."

"Very well. Go home and invent a continuation of your story. Let no one
know of it meanwhile except myself. You can boast of more than some
poets and literati can say, for you have amused me, and I will reward
you. Here are two gold ducats for you."

Eberhard bowed low as he received them, but when he had left the room,
and was out of sight of Kaunitz, he turned toward the door muttering,
"As if I were such a fool as to sell my precious secret to you for two
paltry ducats! I know of others who will pay me for my news, and they
shall have it."

Meanwhile Kaunitz, buried in his arm-chair, was revolving the story is
his mind.

"An emperor, a widower of two wives," said he to himself, "and he treats
us to an idyl of the genuine Gessner stamp! An imperial Damon who spends
his time twining wreaths of roses with his Philis! Well--he had better
be left to play the fool in peace; his pastoral will keep him from
meddling in state affairs. Men call me the coachman of European
politics; so be it, and let no one meddle with my coach-box. That noble
empress is of one mind with me, but this emperor would like to snatch
the reins, and go careering over the heavens for himself. So much the
better if he flirts and drinks milk with a dairymaid. But how long will
it last? Eberhard, of course, has gone to Porhammer, who being piously
disinclined to such little pastimes, will go straight to the empress;
and then Damon will be reproved, and I--I may fall under her displeasure
for having known and concealed her son's intrigue. What shall I do?
Shall I warn the emperor so that he can carry off his Semele, and go on
with his amours? Or shall I--bah! Let things shape themselves. What do I
care for them all? I am the coachman of Europe, and they are my

So saying, Kaunitz threw back his head, and, being alone, indulged
himself in a chuckle. It was speedily smothered, however, for three taps
at the door announced the approach of the minister's valet.

"The fool intends to remind me that it is time to dress," said he to
himself. "There must be some important engagement on hand to make him so
audacious. Come in, Hippolyte!--Any engagement for dinner?" asked he, as
Hippolyte made his appearance.

"So please your highness, you dine to-day with the Frenoh ambassador."

"What o'clock is it?"

"Three o'clock, your highness."

"It is time. Tell the cook to send my dinner to the palace of the French
ambassador. His excellency knows the terms on which I dine out of my own

"I had the honor to explain them fully, your highness."

"And he acceded to them?"

"He did, your highness. Your highness, he said, was welcome to bring
your dinner, if you preferred it to his. He had one request, however, to
make, which was that you would not bring your post-dessert; a request
which I did not understand."

"I understand it perfectly. The Count de Breteuil means that he would
like me to leave my mouth-cleaning apparatus at home. Come, since it is
time, let us begin to dress."

So saying, he rose, and presently he was walking to and fro in the
powder-room, buried in his white mantle, while the servants waved their
powder-brushes, and the air was dense with white clouds.

"Order the carriage," said the prince, when Hippolyte had presented the
snuff-box and the handkerchief of cobweb cambric and lace. "Three
footmen to stand behind my chair."

Hippolyte went to order the footmen to the hotel of the Count de
Breteuil, while his master slowly made his way to the anteroom where six
lackeys awaited him, each one bearing aloft a long silk cloak.

"What says the thermometer to-day?" asked he.

The lackey with the first cloak stepped to a window and examined the
thermometer that was fastened outside.

"Sixty degrees, your highness--temperate," said the man.

"Cold! Four cloaks," said Kaunitz; and stepping through the row of
servants, one after the other laid cloak upon cloak over his shoulders.
When the fourth one had been wrapped around him, he ordered a fifth for
his return, and putting his handkerchief to his mouth for fear he might
swallow a breath of air, the coachman of Europe proceeded to his
carriage, where Hippolyte was ready to help him in.

"Is my mouth-cleaning apparatus in the rumble?" asked the prince, as he
sank back in the soft cushions.

"Your highness said that his excellency had requested--"

"Yes, but I did not say that I should heed his excellency's request.
Quick, and bring it hither! Cups, brushes, essences, and every thing!"

Off started Hippolyte, and Kaunitz drew his four cloaks around his
precious person while he muttered to himself, "I shall show my lord,
Count de Breteuil, that the man who has the honor of receiving Kaunitz
at his table, makes no conditions with such a guest. The French
ambassador grows arrogant, and I must teach him that the rules of
etiquette and customs of society are for him and his compeers, but not
for me. Whatever Kaunitz does is becoming and en regle. Voila

Meanwhile the Count de Breteuil was receiving his distinguished guests.
After the topics of the day had been discussed, he informed them that he
was glad to be able to promise that Prince Kaunitz would come to dinner
without his abominable apparatus.

"Impossible!" exclaimed the ladies.

"Not at all," replied the count. "I have complied with one of his absurd
conditions--he brings his dinner; but I made it my especial request that
he would omit his usual post-dessert."

"And he agreed?"

"It would appear so, since he has accepted. It must be so, for see, he
is here."

The count went forward to meet the prince, who deigned not the smallest
apology for having kept the guests waiting a whole hour.

They repaired to the dining-room, where a costly and luxurious dinner
made amends to the company for their protracted fast.

Kaunitz, however, took no notice of these delicate viands. He ate his
own dinner, and was served by his own lackeys.

"Your highness," said his neighbor, the Princess Esterhazy, "you should
taste this pate a la Soubise, it is delicious."

"Who knows what abominable ingredients may not have gone into its
composition?" said Kaunitz. "I might poison myself if I tasted the
villanous compound. It is all very well for ordinary people to eat from
other men's kitchens. If they die the ranks close up and nobody misses
them; but I owe my life to Austria and to Europe. Eat your pate a la
Soubise, if it suit you; I eat nothing but viands a la Kaunitz, and I
trust to no cook but my own."

It was the same with the Tokay, the Johannisberg and the Champagne.
Kaunitz affected not to see them, while one of his lackeys reached him a
glass of water on a golden salver. Kaunitz held it up to the light. "How
dare you bring me water from the count's fountain?" said he, with a
threatening look.

"Indeed, your highness," stammered the frightened servant, "I drew it
myself from your highness's own fountain."

"How," laughed the Princess Esterhazy, "you bring your water, too?"

"Yes, madame, I do, for it is the purest water in Vienna, and I have
already told you that my health is of the first importance to Austria.
Bread, Baptiste!"

Baptiste was behind the chair, with a golden plate, on which lay two or
three slices of bread, which he presented.

"And bread, too, from his house," cried the princess, laughing

"Yes, madame," replied Kaunitz, gravely, "I eat no bread but that of my
own baker."

"Oh," replied the gay young princess. "I am not surprised at your taking
such wondrous good care of yourself; what astonishes me is, that you
should be allowed to enjoy such privileges in a house that is not your
own. Why, Louis XIV. could not have been more exacting when he
condescended to dine with a subject!"

Kaunitz raised his cold blue eyes so as to meet the look of the bold
speaker. "Madame," said he, "Louis XIV. was Louis XIV., and I am

So saying, he took a glass of water from HIS fountain, and ate a piece
of bread from HIS baker. He then leaned back in his chair and took an
animated part in the conversation.

This was only because thereby he knew that he would dazzle his hearers
by speaking English, French, Italian, or Spanish, as occasion required.

The dinner was at an end and dessert came on the table. Of course
Kaunitz refused to partake of it; but while the other guests were
enjoying their confections, he took advantage of a pause in the
conversation, to say to his pretty neighbor:

"Now, princess, that the company have enjoyed THEIR dessert, I shall
take the liberty of ordering MINE."

"Ah! you have your own dessert?" asked the princess, while the guests
listened to hear what was coming.

"I have," said Kaunitz. "I have brought my dessert, of course.
Hippolyte, my etui."

Hippolyte brought the offensive etui and laid it on the dinner-table,
while Baptiste approached with a glass of water. Kaunitz opened the case
with quiet indifference and examined its content. There were several
small mirrors, various kinds of brushes, scissors, knives, a whet-stone,
and a pile of little linen napkins. [Footnote: Swinburne, vol i., page

While Kaunitz examined and took out his disgusting little utensils the
ladies looked at Count Breteuil, who could scarcely credit the evidence
of his senses. But as Kaunitz set a looking-glass before him, raised his
upper lip, and closed his teeth, preparatory to a cleaning, the count
rose indignant from his seat.

"Ladies and gentlemen," said he, "we will return to the drawing-room for
coffee; Prince Kaunitz desires this room to himself."

The company departed, leaving Kaunitz alone. He did not look as if he
had heard or seen any thing. He went on grinning, brushing his teeth,
drying them in and out with his napkins, and finished off with washing
his hands and cleaning his nails. This done, he walked deliberately back
to the drawing-room, and, going immediately toward the host, he said:

"Count, I am about to return home. You have taken very great pains to
prepare a dinner for me, and I shall make you a princely return. From
this day forward I dine no more from home; your dinner, therefore, will
be immortal, for history will relate that the last time Prince Kaunitz
dined away from his own palace, he dined at that of the French
ambassador." With this he bowed, and slowly left the room.



Kaunitz remained true to his policy in the drama of "The Emperor and the
Dairy-Maid." He allowed things to run their course. Twice a week,
Eberhard came with additional information to which the minister listened
with deep interest, but his interest never took the shape of action.
What did he care?

"This imperial idyl is a disease," thought he. "It will have its crisis
by and by, like a cutaneous eruption. Let it come. Why should I help the
patient when I have not been called in?"

Not long after, however, he was called in. One morning he was lying in
his dressing-gown on a divan, his head bound up in half a dozen silk
handkerchiefs, and his whole person in the primeval disorder of a
slovenly neglige, when his valet announced--the Emperor Joseph.

Kaunitz half rose, saying with a yawn, "Show his majesty to the state
reception-room, and beg him to await me there."

"I have no time to wait, my dear prince," said a soft and melancholy
voice behind him; and, as Kaunitz turned round, he saw the emperor who
was already at his side.

The prince motioned to Hippolyte to leave the room. He went out on
tiptoe, and, as he reached the threshold, the emperor himself closed the
door and locked it. Kaunitz, who had risen, stood in the middle of the
room, looking as indifferent to the visit of an emperor as to that of a

"Prince," said Joseph, returning and offering his hand, "we have not
hitherto been good friends, but you see that I hold you in esteem, for I
come to claim your assistance."

"I expected your majesty," replied Kaunitz.

The emperor cast his eyes over the velvet dressing-gown and the half
dozen head handkerchiefs, and looked his astonishment. The prince
understood the glance, and replied to it.

"I did not expect your majesty quite so soon. A few hours later I would
have been ready to receive you. Will you permit me to retire for a few
moments, that I may at least make my head, if not the rest of my person,

The emperor took the hand of the prince and led him back to the divan.
"My dear Kaunitz," said he, "when a man's head is in such a maze as mine
to-day, he concerns himself very little about the looks of other men.
Sit down again, and I will take this armchair by you."

He drew Kaunitz, with gentle force, upon the divan, and then seated
himself at his side.

"Do you know what brings me to you?" said Joseph, blushing.

"I believe that I do, your majesty. It is no state affair, for on state
affairs, unhappily, we are ever at variance."

The emperor laughed a sardonic laugh. "What need have I of a state
councillor, I who am but a puppet in the hands of my mother, I who must
stand, with shackled arms, and look on while she reigns? But it is in
vain to murmur. I watch and wait; and while I wait, I find myself
inclining fast to your policy. I believe you to be an honorable
statesman, and I believe also that the course you have pursued, you have
chose because you are convinced that it is wise."

"Your majesty means the French alliance," said Kaunitz. "You, like your
deceased father, have always opposed it, and but for the firmness of and
wisdom of the empress, it would have failed. But we need not discuss
this matter to-day; I owe the honor conferred upon me to another

"Then you know why I am here?"

"I believe that I know," replied Kaunitz, playing with the silk tassels
of his dressing-gown. "I have lately heard a tale about an emperor who
was lost in a forest and rescued by a peasant-girl. The sovereign was
grateful, as a matter of course, and the damsel forthwith melted away
with love at the sight of him, as Semele did for Jupiter. That, too, may
be very natural; but let me tell your majesty, it is dangerous for the
committee on morals do not approve of such pastorals, and the empress--"

"That accursed committee!" cried Joseph. "It is they who discovered it,
and you who betrayed me."

Kaunitz slightly elevated his shoulders, and his eyes rested, unmoved,
upon the emperor's glowing face. "I have never yet," said he, "descended
to the office of an informer. Had your majesty addressed me on this
subject some weeks ago, I should have said to you, 'You are dreaming a
very pretty dream of innocence, moonshine, and childishness. If you do
not wish to be roughly awakened, go and dream at a distance from Vienna;
for here there are certainly some people who will think it their duty to
disturb you!'"

"Why did you not warn me, Kaunitz?"

"I did not wish to have the appearance of forcing myself into your
majesty's confidence. I had not been intrusted with your secret, and had
no right to warn you."

"No, you warned the empress instead," said Joseph, bitterly.

"I warned nobody, your majesty. I said to myself, 'He is an enviable man
to be able, in the midst of an artificial life, to enjoy the sweets of
rural intercourse.' I foresaw what must inevitably happen; and pitied
the innocent Eve, who will, ere long, be exiled from paradise."

"She is exiled!" cried the emperor. "She has been removed, I know not
where. She has disappeared, and no trace of her can I find."

"Disappeared!" exclaimed Kaunitz, astonished. "Then I have not heard the
whole truth. I did not even know that she was to be removed; I only
suspected it."

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