Part 3 out of 14
"Well, your majesty," he said, somewhat hesitatingly, "I alluded to
the minister of foreign affairs, Herr von Haugwitz, whom I believe
to be an honest man, while I am equally satisfied that his first
assistant, Lombard, is a man of excellent business qualifications
and great ability."
The king nodded his assent. "I am entirely of your opinion," he
said; "Minister von Haugwitz is not only an honest man, but an able-
minded and skilful diplomatist, and an experienced statesman. I
stand in need of his experience and knowledge, and as I moreover
believe him to be a good patriot, he may remain at the head of his
A gleam of joy burst from the eyes of Herr von Kockeritz, but he
quickly lowered them, in order not to betray his feelings.
"As to Lombard," said the king, "you are likewise right; he is an
excellent and most able man, though a little tinctured with
Jacobinism. His French blood infects him with all sorts of
democratic notions. I wish he would get rid of them, and I shall
assist him in doing so, in case he should prove to be the man I take
him for. His position is too exalted and important that I should not
deem it desirable to see him occupy a place in society in accordance
with the old established rules. I want him to apply for letters of
nobility. I shall grant the application at once. Please, tell him
Herr von Kockeritz bowed silently.
"Is there anybody else whom you wish to recommend to me?" asked the
king with an inquiring glance.
"Your majesty," said Kockeritz, "I do not know of anybody else. But
I am sure your majesty will always find the right man for the right
place. Even in my case, I trust, your majesty has done so, for if it
is of importance for you to have a faithful and devoted servant
close to your person, who values nothing in the world so greatly,
who loves nothing so fervently, and adores nothing so much as his
young king, then I am the right man, and in this regard I do not
acknowledge any superior. And further, if it be of importance that
your majesty should at all times hear the truth, then I am the right
man again, for I hate falsehood, and how should I, therefore, ever
be false toward your majesty, inasmuch as I love your majesty?"
"I believe you, I believe you," exclaimed the king, taking the
lieutenant-colonel by the hand. "You love me and are an honest man;
I shall, therefore, always hear the truth from you. But you shall
inform yourself also of the state of public opinion concerning
myself and my government, weigh the judgment passed on me and my
counsellors, and if you believe it to be correct, then discuss it
with men whom you know to be impartial and able to speak
understandingly of the matter. Having thus ascertained public
opinion and familiarized yourself with every thing, I expect you to
lay the matter before me and tell me your opinion firmly and
unreservedly. I shall never question your good intentions, but
always endeavor to profit by your advice. And I shall now directly
give you a trial. What do you think of the congress which met a few
weeks ago at Eastadt, and at which the German empire is to negotiate
a treaty of peace with France?"
"Your majesty, I believe it will be good for all of us to live at
peace with France," exclaimed Herr von Kockeritz, earnestly. "If
Prussia should quarrel with France, it would only afford Austria an
opportunity to carry out its long-standing designs upon Bavaria,
while Prussia would be occupied elsewhere; and in order not to be
hindered by Prussia in doing so, Austria, who now has just concluded
so favorable a treaty of peace with France at Campo Formio, would
become the ally of France and thus strengthen her old hostility
toward Prussia. A war between Austria and Prussia would be the
unavoidable consequence; the whole of Germany would dissolve itself
into parties favorable or hostile to us, and this state of affairs
would give France an opportunity and a pretext to carry out her own
predatory designs against Germany; and, while we would be fighting
battles perhaps in Silesia and Bavaria, to seize the left bank of
"I am entirely of your opinion," exclaimed the king. "I am very glad
to find my views in complete harmony with yours."
It is true Lieutenant-Colonel von Kockeritz was well aware of this,
for all he had said just now was nothing but a repetition of what
the king, while yet a crown prince, had often told him in their
confidential conversations. But of this he took good care not to
remind the king, and merely bowed with a grateful smile.
"Yes," added the king, "like you, I believe prudence and sound
policy command us to remain at peace with France, and to form a
closer alliance with this power. That is the only way for us to
prevent Austria from realizing her schemes of aggrandizement
Austria, not France, is dangerous to us; the latter is our natural
ally, and the former our natural adversary. Every step forward made
by Austria in Germany, forces Prussia a step backward. Let Austria
enlarge her territory in the south, toward Italy, but never shall I
permit her to extend her northern and western frontiers farther into
Germany. The peace of Campo Formio has given Venice to the Austrians
but they never shall acquire Bavaria. It is Prussia's special task
to induce France not to permit it, and, precisely for that reason,
we must force a closer alliance with France. That, my dear
Kockeritz, is my view of the political course that we should pursue
in future. Peace abroad and peace at home! No violent commotions and
convulsions, no rash innovations and changes. New institutions
should gradually and by their own inherent force grow from the
existing ones, for only in that case we may be sure that they really
have taken root. I shall not head the world in the capacity of a
creative and original reformer, but I shall always take pains to
adopt such reforms as have proven valuable, and gradually to
transform and improve such institutions as at present may be
defective and objectionable. And in all these endeavors, my dear
Kockeritz, you shall be my adviser and assistant. Will you promise
me your aid?"
He looked earnestly and anxiously at the lieutenant-colonel and gave
him his hand.
"I promise it to your majesty," exclaimed Herr von Kockeritz,
gravely, and grasping the king's hand.
"Well," said the king, "with this solemn pledge you may enter upon
your official position, and I am satisfied that my choice has been a
judicious one. Remain what you are, sir, an upright, honest man! As
far as I am concerned, you may always be sure of my heart-felt
gratitude; on the other hand, however, you should remember that you
not only oblige me personally, but that I request you, as it were,
in the name of the state, to labor for the latter. At some future
time you will gain the sweet conviction and satisfaction that you
have done not a little for the welfare of the commonwealth and
thereby earned the thankfulness of every well-meaning patriot. I am
sure there cannot be a sweeter reward for a man of true honor and
ambition like yourself."[Footnote: Vide the king's letter to
Lieutenant-Colonel von Kockeritz]
It was yet early in the morning; the blinds of all the windows in
the Taubenstrasse were as yet firmly closed, and only in a single
house an active, bustling life prevailed. At its door there stood a
heavy travelling-coach which a footman was busily engaged in loading
with a large number of trunks, boxes, and packages. In the rooms of
the first story people were very active; industrious hands were
assiduously occupied with packing up things generally; straw was
wrapped around the furniture, and then covered with linen bags. The
looking-glasses and paintings were taken from the walls and laid
into wooden boxes, the curtains were removed from the windows, and
every thing indicated that the inmates of the house were not only
about to set out on a journey, but entirely to give up their former
mode of living.
Such was really the case, and while the servants filled the
anterooms and the halls with the noise of their preparations, those
for whom all this bustle and activity took place were in their
parlor, in a grave and gloomy mood.
There were two of them--a lady, scarcely twenty-four years of age,
and a gentleman, about twelve years older. She was a delicate and
lovely woman, with a pale, sad face, while he was a vigorous, stout
man with full, round features, and large vivacious eyes which at
present tried to look grave and afflicted without being able to do
so; she wore a travelling-dress, while his was an elegant morning
Both of them had been silent for awhile, standing at the window, or
rather at different windows, and witnessing the removal of the
trunks and packages to the travelling-coach. Finally, the lady, with
a deep sigh, turned from the window and approached the gentleman who
had likewise stepped back into the room.
"I believe the trunks are all in the carriage, and I can set out
now, Frederick," she said, in a low and tremulous voice.
He nodded, and extended his hand toward her. "And you are not angry
with me, Julia?" he asked.
She did not take his hand, but only looked up to him with eyes full
of eloquent grief. "I am not angry," she said. "I pray to God that
He may forgive you."
"And will YOU forgive me, too, Julia? For I know I have sinned
grievously against you. I have made you shed many tears--I have
rendered you wretched and miserable for two years, and these two
years will cast a gray shadow over your whole future. When you first
entered this room, you were an innocent young girl with rosy cheeks
and radiant eyes, and now, as you leave it forever, you are a poor,
pale woman with a broken heart and dimmed eyes." "A DIVORCED wife,
that is all," she whispered, almost inaudibly. "I came here with a
heart overflowing with happiness--I leave you now with a heart full
of wretchedness. I came here with the joyous resolution and fixed
purpose to render you a happy husband, and I leave you now with the
painful consciousness that I have not bestowed upon you that
happiness which I sought so earnestly to obtain for myself. Ah, it
is very sad and bitter to be under the necessity of accepting this
as the only result of two long years!"
"Yes, it is very sad," he said, sighing. "But after all, it is no
fault of ours. There was a dissonance in our married life from the
start, and for that reason there never could be any genuine harmony
between us. This dissonance--well, at the present hour I may confess
it to you, too--this dissonance simply was the fact that I never
A convulsive twitching contracted the pale lips of the poor lady.
"You were a great hypocrite, then," she whispered, "for your words,
your solemn vows never made me suspect it."
"Yes, I was a hypocrite, a wretch, a coward!" he exclaimed,
impetuously. "They overwhelmed me with exhortations, supplications,
and representations. They knew so well to flatter me with the idea
that the beautiful, wealthy, and much-courted heiress, Julia Gilly,
had fallen in love with me, the poor, unknown Frederick Gentz, the
humble military counsellor. They knew so well to depict to me the
triumph I would obtain by marrying you, to the great chagrin of all
your other suitors. Flattery intoxicates me, and a success, a
triumph over others, fills me with the wildest delight. My father
spoke of my debts, my creditors threatened me with suits and
"And thus," she interrupted him--"thus you sacrificed me to your
vanity and to your debts--you falsely vowed a love to me which you
never felt, and accepted my hand. My father paid your debts, you
solemnly promised to all of us not to incur any new ones, but you
utterly broke your pledges. Instead of squandering hundreds as
heretofore, you henceforth lavished thousands, until my whole
maternal property was gone--until my father, in a towering passion,
turned his back upon us and swore never to see us again. The
creditors, the debts, the embarrassments, reappeared, and as I had
no money left with which to extricate you from your difficulties,
you thought you owed me no further respect and were not under the
necessity of remembering that I was your wife. You had a number of
love-affairs, as I knew very well, but was silent. Love-letters
arrived for you, not from one woman with whom you had fallen in
love, but from God knows how many. I was aware of it and was silent.
And when you were finally shameless enough to let the whole city
witness your passion for an actress--when all Berlin spoke
contemptuously of this flame of yours and of the follies you
committed in consequence--then I could be silent no longer, and my
honor and dignity commanded me to apply for a divorce."
"And every one must acknowledge that you were perfectly right. As a
friend I could not have given you myself any other advice, for I
shall not and cannot alter my nature. I am unable to accustom myself
to a quiet and happy family life--domestic felicity is repulsive to
me, and a feeling of restraint makes me rear and plunge like the
noble charger feeling his bit and bridle for the first time. I can
bear no chains, Julia, not even those of an excellent and
affectionate wife such as you have been to me."
"You can bear no chains," she said, bitterly, "and yet you are
always in chains--in the chains of your debts, your love-affairs,
and your frivolity. Oh, listen to me--heed my words for once. They
are as solemn as though they were uttered on a death-bed, for we
shall never see each other again. Fancy a mother were speaking to
you--a mother tenderly loving you. For I confess to you that I still
love you, Gentz--my heart cannot yet break loose from you, and even
now that I have to abandon you, I feel that I shall forever remain
tenderly attached to you. Oh, true love is ever hopeful, and that
was the reason why I remained in your house, although my father had
applied for a divorce. I was always in hopes that your heart would
return to me--oh, I did not suspect that you had never loved me!--
and thus I hoped in vain, and must go now, for our divorce will be
proclaimed to-day, and honor forbids me to remain here any longer.
But now that I am going, listen once more to the warning voice of a
friend. Frederick Gentz, turn back! Pursue no longer the slippery
path of frivolity and voluptuousness. Break loose from the meshes of
pleasures and sensuality. God has given you a noble mind, a powerful
intellect--make good use of your surpassing abilities. Become as
great and illustrious as Providence has intended you if you but be
true to yourself. See, I believe in you, and although you only seem
to live for pleasure and enjoyment, I know you are destined to
accomplish great things, provided you strive to do so. Oh, let me
beseech you to change your course, and to emerge from this whirlpool
of dissipation and profligacy. Close your ears to the alluring songs
of the sirens, and listen to the sublime voices resounding in your
breast and calling you to the path of glory and honor. Follow them,
Frederick Gentz--be a man, do not drift any longer aimlessly in an
open boat, but step on a proud and glorious ship, grasp the helm and
steer it out upon the ocean. You are the man to pilot the ship, and
the ocean will obey you, and you will get into port loaded with
riches, glory, and honor. Only make an effort. Remember my words,
and now, Frederick Gentz, in order to live happily, never remember
She turned round and hastily left the room. He stood immovable for
several minutes, dreamily gazing after her, while her words were
still resounding in his ears like an inspired prophecy. But when he
heard the carriage roll away on the street, he started, passed his
hand across his quivering face and whispered: "I have deeply wronged
her; may God forgive me!"
Suddenly, however, he drew himself up to his full height, and a
gleam of intense joy burst forth from his eyes. "I am free!" he
exclaimed, loudly and in a tone of exultation. "Yes, I am free! My
life and the world belong to me again. All women are mine again,
Cupid and all the gods of love will boldly flit toward me, for they
need not conceal themselves any longer from the face of a husband
strolling on forbidden grounds, nor from the spying eyes of a
jealous wife. Life is mine again, and I will enjoy it; yes I enjoy
it. I will enjoy it like fragrant wine pressed to our lips in a
golden goblet, sparkling with diamonds. Ah, how they are hammering
and battering in the anteroom! Every stroke of theirs is a note of
the glorious song of my liberty. The furniture of my household is
gone; the pictures and looking-glasses are all gone--gone. The past
and every thing reminding me thereof shall disappear from these
rooms. I will have new furniture--furniture of gold and velvet,
large Venetian mirrors, and splendid paintings. Oh, my rooms shall
look as glorious and magnificent as those of a prince, and all
Berlin shall speak of the splendor and luxury of Frederick Gentz.
And to whom shall I be indebted for it? Not to any wife's dower, but
to myself--to myself alone, to my talents, to my genius! Oh, in
regard to this at least, poor Julia shall not have been mistaken. I
shall gain fame, and glory, and honors; my name shall become a
household word throughout all Europe; it shall reecho in every
cabinet; every minister shall have recourse to me, and--hark! What's
that?" he suddenly interrupted himself. "I really believe they are
quarrelling in the anteroom."
Indeed, a violent altercation was heard outside. Suddenly the door
was pushed open, and a vigorous, broad-shouldered man, with a
flushed and angry face, appeared on the threshold.
"Well," he exclaimed, with a bitter sneer, turning to the footman
who stood behind him, "was I not right when I told you that Mr.
Counsellor Gentz was at home? You would not announce me, because
your master had ordered you not to admit any visitors of my class.
But I want to be admitted. I will not permit myself to be shown out
of the anteroom like a fool, while the counsellor here is snugly
sitting on his sofa laughing at me."
"You see, my dear Mr. Werner, I am neither sitting on my sofa nor
laughing at you," said Gentz, slowly approaching his angry visitor.
"And now let me ask you what you want of me."
"What I want of you?" replied the stranger, with a sneer. "Sir, you
know very well what I want of you. I want my money! I want the five
hundred dollars you have been owing me for the last twelve months. I
trusted your word and your name; I furnished you my best wines--my
choicest champagne and the most exquisite delicacies for your dinner
parties. You have treated your friends; that was all right enough,
but it should have been done at your expense, and not at mine. For
that reason I am here, and you must pay me. For the hundredth and
last time, I demand my money!"
"And if I now tell you for the hundredth, but not the last time,
that I have not got any money?"
"Then I shall go to the war department and attach your salary."
"Ah, my dear friend, there you would be altogether too late,"
exclaimed Gentz, laughing. "My honorable landlord has outstripped
you as far as that is concerned; he has attached my salary for a
whole year, and I believe it is even insufficient to cover what I
"But in the d--l's name, sir, you must find some other means of
satisfying my claim, for I tell you I shall not leave this room
without getting my money."
"My dear Mr. Werner, pray do not shout so dreadfully," said Gentz,
anxiously; "my ears are very sensitive, and such shouting terrifies
me as much as a thunderstorm. I am quite willing to pay you, only
point out to me a way to do it!"
"Borrow money of other people and then pay me!"
"My dear sir, that is a way I have exhausted long ago. There is no
one willing to advance me money either on interest or on my word of
"But how in the d--l's name are you going to pay me then, sir?"
"That is exactly what I don't know yet, but after a while I shall
know, and that time will come very soon. For I tell you, sir, these
days of humiliations and debts will soon cease for me. I shall
occupy an exalted and brilliant position; the young king will give
it to me, and--"
"Fiddlesticks!" exclaimed Wemer, interrupting him; "do not feed me
with such empty hopes after I have fed you with delicacies and
quenched your thirst with my champagne."
"My dear sir, I have not partaken all alone of your good cheer; my
friends have helped me, and now you ask me alone to pay the whole
bill. That is contrary to natural law and to political economy."
"Mr. Counsellor, are you mocking me with your political economy?
What do you know about economy?"
"Ah, I am quite familiar with it, and my book on English finances
has brought me fame and honor."
"It would have been better for you, Mr. Counsellor, if you had
attended to your own finances. All Berlin knows in what condition
they are." "Nevertheless, there were always excellent men putting a
noble trust in me, and believing that I would repay the money I
borrowed of them. You are one of those excellent men, Mr. Werner,
and I shall never forget it. Have a little patience, and I will pay
you principal and interest."
"I cannot wait, Mr. Counsellor. I am in the greatest embarrassment
myself; I have to redeem large notes in the course of a few days,
and unless I can do so I am lost, my whole family is ruined, and my
reputation gone; then I must declare myself insolvent, and suffer
people to call me an impostor and villain, who incurs debts without
knowing wherewith to pay them. Sir, I shall never suffer this, and
therefore I must have my money, and I will not leave this room until
you have paid my claim in full."
"In that case, my dear sir, I am afraid you will have to remain here
and suffer the same distressing fate as Lot's unfortunate wife--"
"Sir, pray be serious, for my business here is of a very serious
character. Five hundred dollars is no trifle; a man may squander
them in a few days, but they may cause him also to commit suicide.
Pay me, sir, pay me; I want my money!"
"For God's sake, do not shout in this manner. I told you once
already that I cannot stand it. I know very well that five hundred
dollars is a serious matter, and that you must have your money. I
will make an effort, nay, I will do my utmost to get it for you; but
you must be quiet. I pledge you my word that I will exert myself to
the best of my power in order to obtain that amount for you, but in
return you must promise me to go home quietly and peaceably, and to
wait there until I bring you the money."
"What are you going to do? How are you going to get the money? You
told me just now you were unable to borrow any thing."
"But somebody may give me those miserable five hundred dollars, and
it seems to me that would do just as well."
"Oh, you are laughing at me."
"By no means, sir. Just be still and let me write a letter. I will
afterward show you the address, and thereby let you know from whom I
am expecting assistance."
He walked rapidly to his desk, penned a few lines, and placed the
paper in a large envelope, which he sealed and directed.
"Read the address," he said, showing the letter to Mr. Werner.
"To his excellency the minister of the treasury, Count von
Schulenburg-Kehnert, general of artillery," read Werner, with a
hesitating tongue, and casting astonished and inquisitive glances
upon Gentz. "And this is the distinguished gentleman to whom you
apply for the money. Mr. Counsellor?"
"Yes, my friend; and you must confess that a minister of finance is
the best man to apply to for money. I have written to his excellency
that I stand in urgent need of five hundred dollars today, and I
request him to extricate me from my embarrassment. I ask him to
appoint an hour during the forenoon when I may call upon him and get
"And you really believe that he will give you the money?"
"My dear sir, I am perfectly sure of it, and in order to satisfy you
likewise, I will make a proposition. Accompany my footman to the
minister's house, carry the letter to him yourself, and hear his
reply. You may then repeat this reply to my footman, go home in good
spirits, and wait there until I bring you the money."
"And if you should fail to come?" asked Werner.
"Then that last remedy you alluded to, suicide, always remains to
you. Now go, my dear sir. John! John!"
The footman opened the door with a rapidity indicating that his ears
probably had not been very far from the keyhole.
"John," said Gentz, "accompany this gentleman to the house of
Minister Schulenburg-Kehnert, and wait at the door for the reply he
will repeat to you. And now, Mr. Werner, good-by; you see I have
done all I can, and I hope you will remember that in future, and not
make so much noise for the sake of a few miserable dollars. Good
gracious, if I did not owe any one more than you, my creditors might
thank their stars--"
"Poor creditors!" sighed Mr. Werner, saluting Gentz, and left the
room with the footman, holding the letter like a trophy in his hand.
THE INTERVIEW WITH THE MINISTER OF FINANCE.
"Well, I am really anxious to know whether the minister will give me
the money," murmured Gentz; "his reply will indicate to me, if the
letter to the king I intrusted yesterday to Menken, has made a
favorable impression, and if I may hope at length for promotion and
other favors. My God, I am pining away in my present miserable and
subordinate position! I am able to accomplish greater things. I am
worth more than all these generals, ministers, and ambassadors, who
are so proud and overbearing, and dare to look down upon me as
though I were their inferior. Ah! I shall not stoop so low as to
knuckle to them and flatter them. I don't want to be lifted up by
them, but I will be their equal. I feel that I am the peer of the
foremost and highest of all these so-called statesmen. I do not need
them, but they need me. Ah, my God! somebody knocks at the door
again, and John is not at home. Good Heaven, if it should be another
of those noisy, impertinent creditors! I am indebted to Julia for
all these vexations. Because her things are being sent away, every
door in the house is open, and every one can easily penetrate into
my room. Yes, yes, I am coming. I am already opening the door."
He hastened to the door and unlocked it. This time, however, no
creditor was waiting outside, but a royal footman, who respectfully
bowed to the military counsellor.
"His royal highness Prince Louis Ferdinand," he said, "requests Mr.
Counsellor Gentz to dine with him to-morrow."
Gentz nodded haughtily. "I shall come," he said briefly, and then
looked inquiringly at his own footman who had just entered the other
"Well, John, what did the minister reply?"
"His excellency requests Mr. Counsellor Gentz to call on him in the
course of an hour."
"All right!" said Gentz, and an expression of heart-felt
satisfaction overspread his features. He closed the door, and
stepped back into his study, and, folding his hands on his back,
commenced pacing the room.
"He is going to receive me in the course of an hour," he murmured.
"I may conclude, therefore that the king was pleased with my letter,
and that I am at last to enter upon a new career. Ah, now my head is
light, and my heart is free; now I will go to work."
He sat down at his desk and commenced writing rapidly. His features
assumed a grave expression, and proud and sublime thoughts beamed on
his expansive forehead.
He was so absorbed in his task that he entirely forgot the audience
the minister had granted to him, and his footman had to come in and
remind him that the hour for calling upon his excellency was at
"Ah! to be interrupted in my work for such a miserable trifle," said
Gentz, indignantly laying down his pen and rising. "Well, then, if
it must be, give me my dress-coat. John, and I will go to his
A quarter of an hour later Counsellor Frederick Gentz entered the
anteroom of Count Schulenburg-Kehnert, minister of finance.
"Announce my arrival to his excellency," he said to the footman in
waiting, with a condescending nod, and then quickly followed him to
the door of the minister's study.
"Permit me to announce you to his excellency," said the footman, and
slipped behind the portiere. He returned in a few minutes.
"His excellency requests Mr. Gentz to wait a little while. His
excellency has to attend to a few dispatches yet, but will very soon
be ready to admit Mr. Gentz."
"Very well, I shall wait," said Gentz, with a slight frown, and he
approached the splendidly bound books which were piled up in gilt
cases on the walls of the room. The most magnificent and precious
works of ancient and modern literature, the rarest editions, the
most superb illustrated books were united in this library, and Gentz
noticed it with ill-concealed wrath.
"These men can have all these treasures, nay, they have got them,
and value them so little as to keep them in their anterooms," he
murmured, in a surly tone, forgetting altogether that the footman
was present and could overhear every word he said. He had really
heard his remark, and replied to it, approaching Gentz:
"I beg your pardon, Mr. Counsellor, his excellency does not
undervalue these treasures, but appreciates them highly, and is
always glad enough when the bookbinder delivers new volumes in
gorgeous bindings. For this very reason his excellency has ordered
the library to be placed in this anteroom, so that it also may
gladden the hearts of other people, and those gentlemen who have to
wait here may have something wherewith to while away their time."
"They are permitted, then, to take the books down and read them?"
The footman looked somewhat embarrassed. "I believe," he said,
timidly, "that would not be altogether agreeable to his excellency,
for you see, Mr. Counsellor, all of these beautiful books are gilt-
edged, and gilt edges suffer greatly if the books are read. You
cannot even open the books without injuring them slightly."
"And the gilt edges on this row of the books before me are as good
as new, and perfectly uninjured," said Gentz, gravely.
"Well, that is easily explained. They have not been disturbed since
the bookbinder brought them here," exclaimed the footman, solemnly.
"No one would dare to handle them."
"Does not his excellency read these books?"
"God forbid! His excellency likes books, but he has not got time to
read much. But whenever his excellency passes through this anteroom,
he pauses before his bookcases, and looks at them, and, with his own
hands, frequently wipes off the dust from the gilt edges of the
"Indeed, that is a most honorable occupation for a minister of
finance," said Gentz, emphatically. "It is always a great
consolation to know that a minister of finance wipes off the dust
from the gold. I should be very happy if his excellency should
consent to do that also for me as often as possible. But does it not
seem to you, my dear fellow, that it takes his excellency a good
while to finish those dispatches? It is nearly half an hour since I
have been waiting here."
"I am sure his excellency will soon ring the bell."
"Ring the bell?" asked Gentz, uneasily, "for whom?"
"Why, for myself, in order to notify me to admit you, Mr.
"Ah, for you?" asked Gentz, drawing a deep breath, and turning once
more to the books in order to while away the time by reading at
least the titles, as he was not permitted to take down and open one
of the magnificent volumes.
Time passed on in this manner, and Gentz was walking up and down
near the bookcases, studying the titles, and waiting. The footman
had withdrawn into the most remote window, and was waiting likewise.
Suddenly the large clock commenced striking solemnly and slowly, and
announced to Gentz that he had been a whole hour in his excellency's
anteroom. And his excellency had not yet rung the bell.
At this moment Gentz turned toward the footman with a gesture of
indignation and impatience.
"I am satisfied that his excellency has entirely forgotten that I am
waiting here in the anteroom," he said, angrily. "The dispatches
must be quite lengthy, for I have been here now for an hour already!
Hence I must beg you to inform the minister that I cannot wait any
longer, for I am quite busy too, and have to return to my study.
Please say that to his excellency."
"But can I dare to disturb his excellency?" asked the footman,
anxiously. "He has not rung the bell, sir."
"Well, you must be kind enough to disturb him and tell him I must
leave unless he can admit me at once," exclaimed Gentz,
energetically. "Go, sir, go!"
The footman sighed deeply. "Well, I will do so at your risk, Mr.
Counsellor," he said, in a low voice, stepping behind the portiere.
He soon returned, a malicious smile playing on his lips.
"His excellency regrets that you cannot wait any longer, Mr.
Counsellor," he said. "His excellency being so busy that he cannot
be disturbed, he requests you to call again to-morrow at the same
"So his excellency dismisses me after detaining me here in the
anteroom for more than an hour?" asked Gentz, incredulously.
"His excellency is overwhelmed with unexpected business," said the
footman, with a shrug of his shoulders. "His excellency therefore
requests you, Mr. Counsellor, to call again to-morrow."
Gentz cast upon the footman a glance which would have shivered him
like a thunderbolt if he had not been a man of stone. But being a
man of stone, the thunderbolt harmlessly glanced off from him. With
a peculiar smile, he assisted the enraged counsellor in putting on
his cloak, handed him his hat with a polite bow, and then hastened
to the door in order to open it to him.
At this moment the minister in his study rang the bell loudly and
violently. The footman quickly opened the door leading to the hall,
and, with a polite gesture, invited Gentz to step out. The latter,
however, did not stir. He had hastily placed his hat on his head and
was now putting on his gloves with as grave an air as if they were
gauntlets with which he was going to arm himself for the purpose of
stepping out into the arena.
The minister's bell resounded even louder and more violently than
"I beg your pardon, Mr. Counsellor," the footman exclaimed,
impatiently, "his excellency is calling me. Be kind enough to close
the door when you leave. I must go to his excellency."
He hurriedly crossed the room and hastened into the minister's
Gentz now put on his gloves and approached the door. He bent one
more glance full of anger upon the anteroom, and finally fixed his
eyes upon the glittering books in the cases on the wall. An
expression of malicious joy suddenly overspread his features. He
drew back from the door, and hurriedly crossing the room, he
approached the books. Without any hesitation whatever, he took down
one of the largest and most richly ornamented volumes, concealed the
book under his cloak, hastened back to the door, and left the house
of the minister of finance with a haughty and defiant air.
Without nodding or greeting any one, he hastened through the streets
back to his own house. At the door of the latter there stood two
huge furniture-wagons, half filled with the sofas, arm-chairs,
tables, and looking-glasses which heretofore had adorned his rooms,
and which he was now going to lose with his wife.
The servants had not finished removing the furniture, and he had to
pause in the hall in order to let them pass with the large silken
sofa which had been the chief ornament of his own parlor. This
greatly increased his anger; with furious gestures he rapidly
ascended the staircase and went to his rooms. Every door was open--
the apartments which he crossed with ringing steps, were empty and
deserted, and finally he reached the door of his study, where his
footman had posted himself like a faithful sentinel. Gentz silently
beckoned him to open it, and entered. But when the servant was going
to follow him, he silently but imperiously kept him back, and
slammed the door in his face.
Now at last he was alone; now no one could see and watch him any
longer; now he could utter the cry of rage that was filling his
breast and almost depriving him of the power of speech; and after
uttering this cry, he could appease his wrath still in some other
He threw his cloak and hat upon a chair, seized the splendidly bound
and richly gilt volume from the minister's library with both hands
and hurled it upon the floor.
"Lie there, toy of a proud minister!" he exclaimed furiously. "I
will treat you as I would like to treat him. I will abuse you as I
would like to abuse him. There! take this! and this! and that!"
And he stamped with his heels upon the magnificent work, clinching
his fists and swearing fearfully. [Footnote: Vide "Gallerie von
Bildnissen aus Rahel's Umgang," edited by Varnhagen von Ense, vol
ii., p 168.]
A loud and merry laugh was heard behind him, and upon turning round
he beheld in the door one of his friends, who was looking at him
with a radiant face.
"Herr von Gualtieri, you laugh, and I am furious," exclaimed Gentz,
stamping again upon the costly volume.
"But why, for God's sake, are you furious?" asked Herr von
Gualtieri. "Why do you perpetrate such vandalism upon that
magnificent volume under your feet?"
"Why? Well, I will tell you. I was to-day at the house of Count
Schulenburg-Kehnert; he had sent me word to call on him at ten
o'clock, and when I was there, he made me stand for an hour in his
anteroom like his gorgeous, gilt-edged books, which his footman told
me he never opens because he is afraid of injuring their gilt
"And did he admit you after you had been in the anteroom for an
"No. When I had been there for an hour, he sent me word through his
footman that he was too busy to receive me, and that I had better
call again to-morrow. Bah! He wanted to treat me like those books of
his, which he never opens; he did not want to open me either--me, a
man who has got more mind, more knowledge, and information than all
his books together. He made me wait in his anteroom for a whole
hour, and then dismissed me!"
"And you allowed yourself to be dismissed?"
"Yes, sir, I did; but I took one of his splendid gilt-edged volumes
along, in order to stamp on it and maltreat it, as I would like to
maltreat him. Thus! and thus! To crush it under my heels. It does me
good. It relieves me. At this moment this is the only revenge I can
take against the miserable fellow." [Footnote: Gentz's own words.
Vide "Rahel's Umgang," vol ii., p. 168.]
Herr von Gualtieri laughed uproariously. "Ah! that is an entirely
novel jus gentium," he exclaimed; "an exceedingly funny jus gentium.
My friend, let me embrace you; you are a glorious fellow!"
With open arms he approached Gentz and pressed him tenderly,
laughing all the while, to his heart.
Gentz was unable to withstand this kindness and this laughter, and
suddenly forgetting his anger, he boisterously joined his friend's
"You like my revenge?" he asked.
"Ah! it is admirable; it is the revenge of a genuine Corsican!" said
"Of a Corsican?" asked Gentz, shrinking back. "That is an ugly
comparison, sir. I do not want to have any thing in common with that
Corsican, General Bonaparte. I tell you I am afraid that man will
some day prove a terrible scourge for us."
"And I adore him!" exclaimed Gualtieri. "He is the resuscitated
Alexander of Macedon, the conqueror of the world, the master of the
world. He alone has stemmed the tide of revolution in France. To him
alone the French are indebted for the restoration of order and
tranquillity in their country. The thirteenth of Vendemiaire is as
heroic a deed, as great a victory, as the battles of Lodi and
"That may be," said Gentz, morosely. "I am no soldier, and do not
like battles and warfare. And what do we Germans care for the
Corsican? Have we not got enough to do at home? Germany, however, is
so happy and contented that, like the Pharisee, she may look upon
republican France and exclaim: 'I thank thee, my God, that I am not
like this man.'"
"You are right," replied Gualtieri. "We also stand in need of a
revolution. In Germany, too, a guillotine must be erected--heads
must fall, and death must hold its bloody harvest."
"Hush, my friend, hush!" said Gentz, drawing back in dismay. "Did
you merely come to me for the purpose of speaking of such dreadful
matters, while you are well aware that I don't like to hear anybody
allude to bloodshed, murders, and similar horrors?"
"I merely wanted to try you a little in order to see whether you are
still the same dear old childish coward," exclaimed Gualtieri,
laughing. "The same great child with the strong, manly soul, and the
gentle, weak, and easily moved child's heart. Now, let me know
quickly what you wanted of the minister of finance, and I shall
reward you then by telling you some good news. Well, then, what did
you want of Schulenburg?"
"I had asked him to lend me five hundred dollars, and to appoint an
hour when I might call for the money. He named ten o'clock, and I
went to his house, merely to leave it an hour after in a towering
passion and with empty hands. Oh, it is infamous, it is dreadful! It
At that moment the door opened, and the footman entered.
"From his excellency. General von Schulenburg-Kehnert," he said,
delivering to Gentz a small sealed package and a letter. "The
servant who brought it has left, as he said no reply was required."
Gentz beckoned his servant to withdraw, and he then hastily opened
"Twelve fifty-dollar bills!" he exclaimed, triumphantly. "One
hundred dollars more than I had asked for! That is very kind,
"May be he does not give it to you, but merely lends it to you,"
said Gualtieri, smiling.
"Lend it to me!" exclaimed Gentz, scornfully. "People don't lend any
money to me, because they know that I am unable to pay it back;
people reward me, sir; they show their gratitude toward me in a
substantial manner, but they are not so mean as to lend me what I
"Does the minister tell you so in his letter?" asked Gualtieri,
"Ah! that is true. I have not yet read the letter," said Gentz,
breaking the seal. While he was reading it, a slight blush suffused
his cheeks, and an expression of shame overspread his features.
"Here, read it," he murmured, handing the letter to his friend.
Gualtieri took it and read as follows:
"My Dear Counsellor,--You wished to see me, and I begged you to call
at ten o'clock, although I was overwhelmed with business and hardly
had any time to spare. Precisely at ten o'clock I was ready to
receive you, for in all matters of business I am a very punctual
man. However, after vainly waiting for you for half an hour, I
resumed my work. I had to examine some very complicated accounts,
and could not allow myself to be interrupted after once taking them
up. Hence I had to ask you to wait, and when, after waiting for half
an hour, like myself, you grew impatient and would not stay any
longer, I sent you word to call again to-morrow. Now, that I have
concluded my pressing business, however, I hasten to comply with
your request. You asked me for five hundred dollars; here they are.
Knowing, however, how precious your time is, and that you had to
wait for half an hour through my fault, I take the liberty of adding
one hundred dollars for the time you have lost to-day. Farewell,
sir, and let me conclude with expressing the hope that you will soon
again delight the world and myself with one of your excellent
THE MEMORIAL TO FREDERICK WILLIAM III
"I believe," said Gualtieri, returning the letter to Gentz, "I
believe the minister wanted to teach you a lesson. He made you wait
in order to teach you the necessity of being punctual."
"And I shall not forget the lesson."
"You will be punctual hereafter?"
"On the contrary. This time I was half an hour behind time, and he
paid me one hundred dollars for it. Hereafter I shall be an hour too
late; he will make me wait an hour and pay me two hundred dollars
for it. I believe that is sound arithmetic. Don't look at me so
scornfully, Gualtieri; this state of affairs will not last for any
length of time; there will be a time at no distant period when no
minister will dare to make me wait in his anteroom, nor to pay me
such petty, miserable sums. The ministers then will wait in my
anteroom, and will be only too happy if I accept the thousands which
they will offer to me. I have formed the fixed resolution to obtain
a brilliant position and to coin wealth out of my mind."
"And I am sure you will succeed in accomplishing your purpose," said
Gualtieri. "Yes, I am satisfied a brilliant future is in store for
you. You are a genius such as Germany has not seen heretofore, for
you are a political genius, and you may just as well confess that
Germany greatly lacks politicians who are able to wield their pen
like a pointed two-edged sword, to strike fatal blows in all
directions and obtain victories. Germany has already fixed her eyes
upon you, and even in England your name is held in great esteem
since you published your excellent translation of Burke's work on
the French Revolution. The political pamphlets you have issued since
that time, and the excellent political magazine you have
established, have met with the warmest approval, and the public
hopes and expects that you will render great and important services
to the country. Go on in this manner, my friend; boldly pursue the
path you have entered, and it will become for you a path of glory,
honor, and wealth."
Gentz looked at him almost angrily.
"I hope," he said, "you will not believe me to be an avaricious and
covetous man. I value money merely because it is an instrument
wherewith to procure enjoyment, and because, without it, we are the
slaves of misery, privations, and distress. Money renders us free,
and now that people would like to set up freedom as the religion of
all nations, every one ought to try to make as much money as
possible, that alone rendering him really free. The accursed French
Revolution, which has dragged all principles, all laws and old
established institutions under the guillotine, was under the
necessity of leaving one power unharmed--the power of money. The
aristocracy, the clergy, nay, even royalty had to bleed under the
guillotine, but money never lost its power, its influence, and its
importance. Money speaks a universal language, and the Sans-culotte
and Hottentot understand it as well as the king, the minister, and
the most beautiful woman. Money never needs an interpreter; it
speaks for itself. See, my friend, that is the reason why I love
money and try to make as much as possible, not in order to amass it,
but because with it I can buy the world, love, honor, enjoyment, and
happiness. But not being one of those who find money in their
cradles, I must endeavor to acquire it and avail myself of the
capital God has given me in my brains. And that I shall and will do,
sir, but I pledge you my word, never in a base and unworthy manner.
I shall probably make people PAY very large sums of money for my
services, but never shall I SELL myself; all the millions of the
world could not induce me to write AGAINST MY PRINCIPLES, but all
the millions of the world I shall demand, when they ask me to write
FOR MY PRINCIPLES! See, my friend, that is my programme, and you may
be sure that I shall live up to it. I am an aristocrat by nature and
conviction; hence I hate the French Revolution which intended to
overthrow every aristocracy, not only that of pedigree, but also
that of the mind, and therefore I have sworn to oppose it as an
indefatigable and indomitable champion, and to strike it as many
blows with my pen and tongue as I can. Hence I shall never join the
hymns of praise which the Germans, always too complaisant, are now
singing to the little Corsican, General Bonaparte. Whatever you may
say about his heroism and genius, I believe him to be an enemy of
Germany, and am, therefore, on my guard,"
"So you do not admire his victories, the incomparable plans of his
battles, which he conceives with the coolness of a wise and
experienced chieftain, and carries out with the bravery and
intrepidity of a hero of antiquity?"
"I admire all that, but at the same time it makes me shudder when I
think that it might some day come into the head of this man who
conquers every thing, to invade and conquer Germany also. I believe,
indeed, he would succeed in subjugating her, for I am afraid we have
no man of equal ability on our side who could take the field against
him. Ah, my friend, why does not one of our German princes resemble
this French general, this hero of twenty-seven years? Just think of
it, he is no older than our young king; both were born in the same
"You must not count his years," exclaimed Gualtieri, "count his
great days, his great battles. The enthusiasm of all Europe hails
his coming, for he fights at the head of his legions for the noblest
boons of manhood--for freedom, honor, and justice. No wonder,
therefore, that he is victorious everywhere; the enslaved nations
everywhere are in hopes that he will break their fetters and give
"He is a scourge God has sent to the German princes so that they may
grow wiser and better. He wishes to compel them to respect the
claims of their subjects to freedom and independence, that being the
only way for them to erect a bulwark against this usurper who fights
his battles not only with the sword, but also with ideas. Oh, I wish
our German sovereigns would comprehend all this, and that all those
who have a tongue to speak, would shout it into their ears and
arouse them from their proud security and infatuation."
"Well, have not you a tongue to speak, and yet you are silent?"
asked Gualtieri, smiling.
"No, I have not been silent," exclaimed Gentz, enthusiastically. "I
have done my duty as a man and citizen, and told the whole truth to
"That means that I have written to the king, not with the fawning
slavishness of a subject, but as a man who has seen much, reflected
much, and experienced much, and who speaks to a younger man, called
upon to act an important part, and holding the happiness of millions
of men in his hands. It would be a crime against God and humanity,
if we knew the truth and should not tell it to such a man. Because I
believe I know the truth, I have spoken to the king, not in a letter
which he may read to-day and throw to-morrow into his paper-basket,
but in a printed memorial, which I shall circulate in thousands of
copies as soon as I have heard that it is in the hands of the king."
"And you believe the king will accept this printed memorial of
"My friend, Counsellor Menken, has undertaken to deliver it to the
"In that case he will accept it, for he thinks very highly of
Menken. But what did you tell the king in this memorial?"
"I gave him sound advice about government affairs."
"Advice! my friend, kings do not like to listen to advice,
especially when it is given to them spontaneously. Did you confine
yourself to general suggestions? You see I am very anxious to learn
more about your bold enterprise. Just read the memorial to me,
"Ah, that would be a gigantic task for you to hear it, and for
myself to read it, the memorial being quite lengthy. I ask the king
therein in impressive and fervent words--oh, I wept myself when I
penned them--to make his people happy and prosperous. I directed his
attention to the various branches of our administration; first, to
"And you advise him to make war?" asked Gualtieri, hastily.
"No, I advise him always to be armed and prepared, but to maintain
peace as long as it is compatible with his honor. Next I allude to
the condition of our judicial and financial affairs. I beseech him
to abstain from interference with the administration of justice, to
insist upon a constant equilibrium being maintained between the
expenses and revenues of the state, so as not to overburden his
subjects with taxes, and not to curtail the development of commerce
and industry by vexatious monopolies. Finally, I ask him to devote
some attention to intellectual affairs and to the press."
"Oh, I expected that," said Gualtieri, smiling, "and I should not be
surprised at all if you had been bold enough to ask the timid and
diffident young king to grant freedom of the press to his people."
"Yes, that is what I ask him to do," said Gentz, enthusiastically.
"You want me to read the whole memorial to you. Let me read at least
what I have said about the freedom of the press. Will you listen to
"Oh, I am most anxious to hear it," said Gualtieri, sitting down on
Gentz took several sheets of paper from his desk, sat down opposite
his friend and commenced reading in a loud and enthusiastic voice:
"Of all things repugnant to fetters, none can bear them as little as
human thought. The oppression weighing down the latter is not merely
injurious because it impedes what is good, but also because it
promotes what is bad. Compulsion in matters of faith may be passed
over in silence. It belongs to those antiquated evils on which now
that there is greater danger of an utter prostration of religious
ideas than of their fanatical abuse, only narrow-minded babblers are
declaiming. Not so, however, with regard to freedom of the press.
Misled by unfounded apprehensions, arising from the events of the
times, even sagacious men might favor a system which, viewed in its
true light, is more injurious to the interests of the government
than it ever can be to the rights of the citizens, even in its most
"What, even aside from all other considerations, peremptorily and
absolutely condemns any law muzzling the press, is the important
fact that it is impossible to enforce it. Unless there be a regular
inquisition watching over the execution of such a law, it is now-a-
days utterly impossible to carry it out. The facilities for bringing
ideas before the public are so great, as to render any measure
destined to curtail this publicity a mere matter of derision. But if
these laws prove ineffectual they may yet exasperate the people, and
that is precisely their most dangerous feature; they exasperate
without deterring. They instigate those against whom they are
directed to offer a resistance which frequently not only remains
successful, but moreover becomes glorious and honorable. The most
wretched productions, whose real value would not secure a life of
two hours, obtain general circulation because it seems to have
required some degree of courage to write them. The most
insignificant scribblers will be looked upon as men of mind, and the
most venal writers suddenly become 'martyrs of truth.' A thousand
noxious insects, whom a sunbeam of truth and real sagacity would
have dispersed, favored by the darkness created for them with
deplorable short-sightedness, insinuate themselves into the unarmed
minds of the people, and instil their poison to the last drop, as
though it were a forbidden delicacy of the most exquisite character.
The only antidote, the productions of better writers, loses its
strength because the uninformed only too easily mistake the
advocates of salutary restrictions for the defenders of such as are
manifestly unjust and oppressive."
"Let freedom of the press, therefore, be the immovable principle of
your government, not as though the state or mankind, in this age so
prolific in books, were interested in the publication of a thousand
works more or less, but because your majesty is too great to
maintain an unsuccessful, and therefore disastrous struggle, with
petty adversaries. Every one should be held responsible, strictly
responsible for unlawful acts and writings assuming such a
character, but mere opinion should meet with no other adversary than
its opposite, and if it be erroneous, with the truth. Never will
such a system prove dangerous to a well-regulated state, and never
has it injured such a one. Where it apparently became pernicious,
destruction had preceded it already, and mortification and
putrefaction had set in." [Footnote: Memorial respectfully presented
to his majesty Frederick William III., on his accession to the
throne, November 16, 1797, by Frederick Gentz.]
"Well?" asked Gentz, with glowing cheeks and flashing eyes, when he
had ceased reading, "what do you think of my exposition of the
freedom of the press? Is it not clear, convincing, and unanswerable?
Will not the king see that my words contain the truth, and hence
Gualtieri looked at his friend with an air of compassionate
"Oh, you are a full-grown child," he said; "you still believe in the
possibility of realizing Utopian dreams, and your faith is so
honest, so manly! You want to force a scourge upon a timid young
king, who most ardently desires to maintain peace, and to remain
unnoticed, and tell him, 'With this scourge drive out the evil
spirits and expel the lies, so as to cause daylight to dawn, and
darkness to disappear!'--as though that daylight would not be sure
to lay bare all the injuries and ulcers of which our own poor
Prussia is suffering, and for which she greatly needs darkness and
"What! you think the king will take no notice of my demands?"
"I believe," said Gualtieri, shrugging his shoulders, "that you are
a highly-gifted visionary, and that the king is a tolerably
intelligent and tolerably sober young gentleman, who, whenever he
wants to skate, does not allow himself to be dazzled and enticed by
the smooth and glittering surface, but first repeatedly examines the
ice in order to find out whether it is firm enough to bear him. And
now good-by, my poor friend. I came here to congratulate you for
having regained your liberty, and for belonging again to the noble
and only happy order of bachelors; but instead of hearing you
rejoice, I find in you a philanthropic fanatic, and an enthusiastic
advocate of a free press."
"But that does not prevent you from wishing me joy at my return to a
bachelor's life," exclaimed Gentz, laughing. "Yes, my friend, I am
free; life is mine again, and now let the flames of pleasure close
again over my head--let enjoyment surround me again in fiery
torrents, I shall exultingly plunge into the whirlpool and feel as
happy as a god! We must celebrate the day of my regeneration in a
becoming manner; we must celebrate it with foaming champagne, pates
de foie gras, and oysters; and if we want to devote a last tear to
the memory of my wife, why, we shall drink a glass of Lacrymce
Christi in her honor. You must come and see me to-night, Gualtieri.
I shall invite a few other friends, and if you will afford us a rare
pleasure, you will read to us some of La Fontaine's Fables, which no
one understands to recite so well as you."
"I shall do so," said Gualtieri, extending his hand to Gentz. "I
shall read to you one of La Fontaine's Fables, the first two lines
of which eloquently express the whole history of your past."
"Let me hear those two lines."
Gualtieri covered his head, and standing in the door he had opened,
he said with a deep pathos and in a profoundly melancholy voice:
"Deux coqs vivaient en paix; une poule survint,
Et voila la guerreallumec"--
and nodding a last adieu, he disappeared. Gentz laughed. "Indeed, he
is right," he exclaimed; "that is the end of wedded life. But, thank
God, mine is over, and, I swear by all my hopes, never will I be
such a fool as to marry again! I shall remain a bachelor as long as
I live; for he who belongs to no woman owns all women. It is time,
however, to think of to-night's banquet. But in order to give a
banquet, I must first procure new furniture for my rooms, and this
time I won't have any but beautiful and costly furniture. And how
shall I get it? Ah, parbleu, I forgot the six hundred dollars I
received from the minister. I shall buy furniture for that sum. No,
that would be very foolish, inasmuch as I greatly need it for other
purposes. The furniture dealers, I have no doubt, will willingly
trust me, for I never yet purchased any thing of them.
Unfortunately, I cannot say so much in regard to him who is to
furnish me the wines and delicacies for the supper, and I have only
one hundred dollars in my pocket. The other five hundred dollars I
must send to that bloodsucker, that heartless creditor Werner. But
must I do so? Ah! really, I believe it would be rank folly. The
fellow would think he had frightened me, and as soon as I should owe
him another bill, he would again besiege my door, and raise a fresh
disturbance here. No; I will show him that I am not afraid of him,
and that his impudent conduct deserves punishment. Oh, John! John!"
The door was opened immediately, and the footman entered.
"John," said Gentz, gravely, "go at once to Mr. Werner. Tell him
some friends are coming to see me to-night. I therefore want him to
send me this evening twenty-four bottles of champagne, three large
pates de foie gras, two hundred oysters, and whatever is necessary
for a supper. If he should fill my order promptly and carefully, he
can send me to-morrow a receipt for two hundred dollars, and I will
pay him the money. But if a single oyster should be bad, if a single
bottle of champagne should prove of poor quality, or if he should
dare to decline furnishing me with the supper, he will not get a
single groschen. Go and tell him that, and be back as soon as
"Meantime, I will write a few invitations," said Gentz, as soon as
he was alone. "But I shall invite none but unmarried men. In the
first place, the Austrian minister, Prince von Reuss. This gentleman
contents himself with one mistress, and as he fortunately does not
suspect that the beautiful Marianne Meier is at the same time my
mistress, he is a great friend of mine. Yes, if he knew that--ah!"
he interrupted himself, laughing, "that would be another
illustration of La Fontaine's fable of the two cocks and the hen.
Well, I will now write the invitations."
He had just finished the last note when the door opened, and John
entered, perfectly out of breath.
"Well, did you see Mr. Werner?" asked Gentz, folding the last note.
"Yes, sir. Mr. Werner sends word that he will furnish the supper
promptly and satisfactorily, and will deliver here to-night twenty-
four bottles of his best champagne, three large pates de foie gras,
two hundred oysters, etc., but only on one condition."
"What! the fellow actually dares to impose conditions?" exclaimed
Gentz, indignantly. "What is it he asks?"
"He asks you, sir, when he has delivered every thing you have
ordered, and before going to supper, to be kind enough to step out
for a moment into the anteroom, where Mr. Werner will wait for you
in order to receive there his two hundred dollars. I am to notify
him if you accept this condition, and if so, he will furnish the
"Ah, that is driving me to the wall," exclaimed Gentz, laughing.
"Well, go back, to the shrewd fellow and tell him that I accept his
conditions. He is to await me in the anteroom, and as he would, of
course, make a tremendous noise in case I should disappoint him, he
may be sure that I shall come. So go to him, John."
"As for myself," said Gentz, putting on his cloak, "I shall go and
purchase several thousand dollars' worth of furniture; my rooms
shall hereafter be as gorgeous as those of a prince. By the by, I
believe I have been too generous. If I had offered Werner one
hundred dollars, he would have contented himself with that sum."
At the house of the wealthy banker Itzig a rare festival took place
to-day, a festival which all Berlin had been talking of for the last
few days, and which had formed the topic of conversation, no less
among the people on the streets, than among the aristocratic classes
in their palatial mansions. To-day the wedding of three of his
beautiful young daughters was to take place, and the rich,
ostentatious, and generous gentleman had left nothing undone in
order to celebrate this gala-day in as brilliant and imposing a
manner as possible. All the manufacturers of Berlin had been
employed for months to get up the trousseaux of his daughters, for
he had declared that they should wear exclusively the productions of
German industry, and that not a single piece of their new household
goods should be of French manufacture. Hence, all the gorgeous
brocades, velvets, and laces for their dresses and furniture had
been woven in Berlin manufactories; the most magnificent linen had
been ordered from Silesia, and a host of milliners and seamstresses
had got up every thing required for the wardrobe of the young
ladies, in the most skilful and artistic manner. Even the plate and
costly jewelry had been manufactured by Berlin jewellers, and the
rich and exquisitely painted china had been purchased at the royal
Porzellan-fabrik. These three trousseaux, so beautiful and
expensive, had been, as it were, a triumph of home art and home
industry, and for this reason they excited general attention. Herr
Itzig had finally, though very reluctantly, yielded to the urgent
entreaties of his friends and admitted the public to the rooms and
halls of his house in which the trousseaux of his daughters were
displayed. However, in order not to lay himself open to the charge
of boastful ostentation, he had tried to impart a useful and
charitable character to this exhibition. He had fixed a tablet over
the entrance to those rooms, bearing the inscription of "Exhibition
of Productions of Home Industry;" in addition, every visitor had to
buy a ticket of admission for a few groschen, the proceeds to be
distributed among the poor.
Every one hastened to the banker's house in order to admire the
"productions of home industry." Even the queen had come with one of
her ladies of honor to inspect the gorgeous display, and while
admiring the magnificence of the silks and velvets and the artistic
setting of the diamonds, she had exclaimed joyfully: "How glad I am
to see that Germany is really able to do entirely without France,
and to satisfy all her wants from her own resources!"
The queen had uttered these words perhaps on the spur of the moment,
but the public imparted to them a peculiar meaning and tendency; and
the newspapers, the organs of public opinion, never tired of
praising the royal words, and of admonishing the inhabitants of
Berlin to visit the patriotic exhibition at the banker's house.
Curiosity, moreover, stimulated the zeal of the ladies, while
political feeling caused the male part of the population to appear
at the exhibition. But when it became known that the French embassy
had taken umbrage at the zeal manifested by the people of Berlin,
and that the French minister had even dared at the royal table to
complain loudly and bitterly of the words uttered by the queen in
Herr Itzig's house, the indignation became general, and the visits
to the exhibition assumed the character of a national demonstration
against the overbearing French. Hosts of spectators now hastened to
Herr Itzig's house, and gay, mischievous young men took pleasure in
stationing themselves in groups in the street on which the French
minister was living, right in front of the house, in order to
converse loudly in the French language about the rare attractions of
the banker's exhibition, and to praise the noble patriot who
disdained to buy abroad what he could get at home just as well, if
The success of his exhibition, however, far exceeded the wishes of
the banker, and he was glad when the days during which the
exhibition was to continue were at an end, so that he could exclude
the inquisitive visitors from his house.
But to-day the house was to be opened to the invited guests, for to-
day, as we stated before, Herr Itzig was going to celebrate
simultaneously the wedding of three of his beautiful daughters, and
the whole place was astir with preparations for a becoming
observance of the gala-day.
While the footmen and other servants, under the direction of skilful
artists, were engaged in gorgeously decorating the parlors and
halls; while a hundred busy hands in the kitchen and cellar were
preparing a sumptuous repast; while Herr Itzig and wife were giving
the last directions for the details of the festival, the three
brides were chatting confidentially in their own room. All of them
were quite young yet, the eldest sister having scarcely completed
her twenty-first year. They were very beautiful, and theirs was the
striking and energetic beauty peculiar to the women of the Orient--
that beauty of flaming black eyes, glossy black hair, a glowing
olive complexion, and slender but well-developed forms. They wore a
full bridal costume; their bare, beautifully rounded arms and necks
were gorgeously adorned with diamonds and other precious stones;
their tall and vigorous figures were clad in white silk dresses,
trimmed with superb laces. He who would have seen them thus in the
full charm of beauty, grace, and youth, in their magnificent
costumes, and with delicate myrtle-crowns on their heads, would have
believed he beheld three favorite daughters of Fate, who had never
known care and grief, and upon whose heads happiness had poured down
an uninterrupted sunshine.
Perhaps it was so; perhaps it was only the beautiful myrtle-crowns
that cast a shadow over the faces of the three brides, and not their
secret thoughts--their silent wishes.
They had eagerly conversed for a while, but now, however, they
paused and seemed deeply absorbed. Finally, one of them slowly
raised her glowing black eyes and cast a piercing glance upon her
sisters. They felt the magic influence of this glance, and raised
their eyes at the same time.
"Why do you look at us so intently, Fanny?" they asked.
"I want to see if I can read truth on your brow," said Fanny; "or if
the diamonds and the myrtle-crowns conceal every thing. Girls,
suppose we take off for a moment the shining but lying masks with
which we adorn ourselves in the eyes of the world, and show to each
other our true and natural character? We have always lied to each
other. We said mutually to each other: 'I am happy. I am not jealous
of you, for I am just as happy as you.' Suppose we now open our lips
really and tell the truth about our hearts? Would not it be novel
and original? Would it not be an excellent way of whiling away these
few minutes until our betrothed come and lead us to the altar? See,
this is the last time that we shall be thus together--the last time
that we bear the name of our father; let us, therefore, for once
tell each other our true sentiments. Shall we do so?"
"Yes," exclaimed the two sisters. "But about what do you want us to
tell you the truth?"
"About our hearts," replied Fanny, gravely. "Esther, you are the
eldest of us three. You must commence. Tell us, therefore, if you
love your betrothed, Herr Ephraim?"
Esther looked at her in amazement. "If I love him?" she asked. "Good
Heaven! how should I happen to love him? I scarcely know him. Father
selected him for me; it is a brilliant match; I shall remain in
Berlin; I shall give splendid parties and by my magnificent style of
living greatly annoy those ladies of the so-called haute volee, who
have sometimes dared to turn up their noses at the 'Jewesses.'
Whether I shall be able to love Ephraim, I do not know; but we shall
live in brilliant style, and as we shall give magnificent dinner-
parties, we shall never lack guests from the most refined classes of
society. Such are the prospects of my future, and although I cannot
say that I am content with them, yet I know that others will deem my
position a most enviable one, and that is at least something."
"The first confession!" said Fanny, smiling. "Now it is your turn,
Lydia. Tell us, therefore, do you love Baron von Eskeles, your
Lydia looked at her silently and sadly. "Do not ask me," she said,
"for you and Esther know very well that I do not love him. I once
had a splendid dream. I beheld myself an adored wife by the side of
a young man whom I loved and who loved me passionately. He was an
artist, and when he was sitting at his easel, he felt that he was
rich and happy, even without money, for he had his genius and his
art. When I was looking at his paintings, and at the handsome and
inspired artist himself, it seemed to me there was but one road to
happiness on earth: to belong to that man, to love him, to serve
him, and, if it must be, to suffer and starve with him. It was a
dream, and father aroused me from it by telling me that I was to
marry Baron von Eskeles, that he had already made an agreement with
the baron's father, and that the wedding would take place in two
"Poor Lydia!" murmured the sisters.
A pause ensued. "Well," asked Esther, "and you, Fanny? You examine
us and say nothing about yourself. What about your heart, my child?
Do you love your betrothed, Baron von Arnstein, the partner of
Eskeles, your future brother-in-law? You are silent? Have you
nothing to say to us?"
"I have to say to you that we are all to be pitied and very
unhappy," said Fanny, passionately. "Yes, to be pitied and very
unhappy, notwithstanding our wealth, our diamonds, and our brilliant
future! We have been sold like goods; no one has cared about the
hearts which these goods happen to have, but every one merely took
into consideration how much profit he would derive from them. Oh, my
sisters, we rich Jewesses are treated just in the same manner as the
poor princesses; we are sold to the highest bidder. And we have not
got the necessary firmness, energy, and independence to emancipate
ourselves from this degrading traffic in flesh and blood. We bow our
heads and obey, and, in the place of love and happiness, we fill our
hearts with pride and ostentation, and yet we are starving and
pining away in the midst of our riches."
"Yes," sighed Lydia, "and we dare not even complain! Doomed to
eternal falsehood, we must feign a happiness we do not experience,
and a love we do not feel."
"I shall not do so!" exclaimed Fanny, proudly. "It is enough for me
to submit to compulsion, and to bow my head; but never shall I stoop
so low as to lie."
"What! you are going to tell your husband that you do not love him?"
asked the sisters.
"I shall not say that to my husband, but to my betrothed as soon as
he makes his appearance."
"But suppose he does not want to marry a girl who does not love
"Then he is the one who breaks off the match, not I, and father
cannot blame me for it. But do you not hear footsteps in the hall?
It is my betrothed. I begged him to be here a quarter of an hour
previous to the commencement of the ceremony, because I desired to
speak to him about a very serious matter. He is coming. Now pray go
to the parlor, and wait for me there. I shall rejoin you, perhaps
alone, and in that case I shall be free; perhaps, however, Arnstein
will accompany me, and in that eventuality he will have accepted the
future as I am going to offer it to him. Farewell, sisters; may God
protect us all."
"May God protect YOU." said Lydia, tenderly embracing her sister.
"You have a courageous and strong soul, and I wish mine were like
"Would that save you, Lydia?" asked Fanny, sharply. "Courage and
energy are of no avail in our case; in spite of our resistance, we
should have to submit and to suffer. He is coming."
She pushed her sisters gently toward the parlor door, and then went
to meet her betrothed, who had just entered.
"Mr. Arnstein," said Fanny, giving him her hand, "I thank you for
complying so promptly with my request."
"A business man is always prompt," said the young baron, with a
"Ah, and you treat this interview with me likewise as a business
"Yes, but as a business affair of the rarest and most exquisite
character. A conference with a charming young lady is worth more
than a conference with the wealthiest business friend, even if the
interview with the latter should yield a profit of one hundred per
"Ah, I believe you want to flatter me," said Fanny, closely scanning
the small and slender figure and the pale face of the baron.
He bowed with a gentle smile, but did not raise his eyes toward her.
Fanny could not help perceiving that his brow was slightly clouded.
"Baron," she said, "I have begged you to come and see me, because I
do not want to go to the altar with a lie on my soul. I will not
deceive God and yourself, and therefore I now tell you, frankly and
sincerely, I do not love you, baron; only my father's will gives my
hand to you!"
There was no perceptible change in the young baron's face. He seemed
neither surprised nor offended.
"Do you love another man?" he asked quietly.
"No, I love no one!" exclaimed Fanny.
"Ah, then, you are fortunate indeed," he said, gloomily. "It is by
far easier to marry with a cold heart, than to do so with a broken
one; for the cold heart may grow warm, but the broken one never."
Fanny's eyes were fixed steadfastly on his features.
"Mr. Arnstein," she exclaimed, impetuously, "you do not love me
He forced himself to smile. "Who could see you--you, the proud,
glorious beauty--without falling in love with you?" he exclaimed,
"Pray, no empty flatteries," said Fanny, impatiently. "Oh, tell me
the truth! I am sure you do not love me!"
"I saw you too late," he said, mournfully; "if I had known you
sooner, I should have loved you passionately."
"But now I am too late--and have you already loved another?" she
"Yes, I love another," he said, gravely and solemnly. "As you ask
me, I ought to tell you the truth. I love another."
"Nevertheless, you want to marry me?" she exclaimed, angrily.
"And you?" he asked, gently. "Do you love me?"
"But I told you already my heart is free. I love no one, while you--
why don't you marry her whom you love?"
"Because I cannot marry her."
"Why cannot you marry her?"
"Because my father is opposed to it. He is the chief of our house
and family. He commands, and we obey. He is opposed to it because
the young lady whom I love is poor. She would not increase the
capital of our firm."
"Oh, eternally, eternally that cold mammon, that idol to whom our
hearts are sacrificed so ruthlessly!" exclaimed Fanny, indignantly.
"For money we sell our youth, our happiness, and our love."
"I have not sold my love. I have sacrificed it," said Baron
Arnstein, gravely; "I have sacrificed it to the interests of our
firm. But in seeing you so charming and sublime in your loveliness
and glowing indignation, I am fully satisfied already that I am no
longer to be pitied, for I shall have the most beautiful and
generous wife in all Vienna."
"Then you really want to marry me? You will not break off the match,
although your heart belongs to another woman, and although you know
that I do not love you?"
"My beautiful betrothed, let us not deceive each other," he said,
smiling; "it is not a marriage, but a partnership we are going to
conclude in obedience to the wishes of our fathers. In agreeing upon
this partnership only our fortunes, but not our hearts, were thought
of. The houses of Itzig, Arnstein, and Eskeles will flourish more
than ever; whether the individuals belonging to these houses will
wither is of no importance. Let us therefore submit to our fate, my
dear, for we cannot escape from it. Would it be conducive to your
happiness if I should break off the match? Your father would
probably select another husband for you, perhaps in Poland or in
Russia, and you would be buried with all the treasures of your
beauty and accomplishments in some obscure corner of the world,
while I shall take you to Vienna, to the great theatre of the world-
-upon a stage where you will at least not lack triumphs and homage.
And I? Why should I be such a stupid fool as to give you up--you who
bring to me much more than I deserve--your beauty, your
accomplishments, and your generous heart? Ah, I shall be the target
of general envy, for there is no lady in Vienna worthy of being
compared with you. As I cannot possess her whom I love, I may thank
God that my father has selected you for me. You alone are to be
pitied, Fanny, for I cannot offer you any compensation for the
sacrifices you are about to make in my favor. I am unworthy of you;
you are my superior in beauty, intellect, and education. I am a
business man, that is all. But in return I have at least something
to give--wealth, splendor, and a name that has a good sound, even at
the imperial court. Let me, then, advise you as a friend to accept
my hand--it is the hand of a friend who, during his whole life, will
honestly strive to compensate you for not being able to give his
love to you and to secure your happiness."
He feelingly extended his hand to her, and the young lady slowly
laid hers upon it.
"Be it so!" she said, solemnly; "I accept your hand and am ready to
follow you. We shall not be a pair of happy lovers, but two good and
"That is all I ask," said Arnstein, gently. "Never shall I molest
you with pretensions and demands that might offend your delicacy and
be repugnant to your heart; never shall I ask more of you than what
I hope I shall be able to deserve--your esteem and your confidence.
Never shall I entertain the infatuated pretensions of a husband
demanding from his wife an affection and fidelity he is himself
unable to offer her. In the eyes of the world we shall be man and
wife; but in the interior of your house you will find liberty and
independence. There you will be able to gratify all your whims and
wishes; there every one will bow to you and obey you. First of all,
I shall do so myself. You shall be the pride, the glory and joy of
my house, and secure to it a brilliant position in society. We shall
live in princely style, and you shall rule as a queen in my house.
Will that satisfy you? Do you accept my proposition?"
"Yes, I accept it," exclaimed Fanny, with radiant eyes, "and I
assure you no other house in Vienna shall equal ours. We will make
it a centre of the best society, and in the midst of this circle
which is to embrace the most eminent representatives of beauty,
intellect, and distinction, we will forget that we are united
without happiness and without love."
"But there will be a day when your heart will love," said Arnstein.
"Swear to me that you will not curse me on that day because I shall
then stand between you and your love. Swear to me that you will
always regard me as your friend, that you will have confidence in
me, and tell me when that unhappy and yet so happy hour will strike,
when your heart begins to speak."
"I swear it to you!" said Fanny, gravely. "We will always be sincere
toward each other. Thus we shall always be able to avert
wretchedness, although it may not be in our power to secure
happiness. And now, my friend, come, give me your arm and accompany
me to the parlor where they are already waiting for us. Now, I shall
no longer weep and mourn over this day, for it has given to me a
friend, a brother!"
She took his arm and went with him to the parlor. A gentle smile was
playing on her lips when the door was opened and they entered. With
an air of quiet content she looked at her sisters, who were standing
by the side of their betrothed, and had been waiting for her with
"There is no hope left," murmured Lydia; "she accepts her fate, too,
"She follows my example," thought Esther; "she consoles herself with
her wealth and brilliant position in society. Indeed, there is no
better consolation than that."
At that moment the door opened, and the rabbi in his black robe, a
skull-cap on his head, appeared on the threshold, followed by the
precentor and sexton. Solemn silence ensued, and all heads were
lowered in prayer while the rabbi was crossing the room in order to
salute the parents of the brides.
At that moment of silent devotion, no one took any notice of a lady
who crossed the threshold a few seconds after the rabbi had entered.
She was a tall, superb creature of wonderful beauty. Her black hair,
her glowing eyes, her finely-curved nose, the whole shape of her
face imparted to her some resemblance to Fanny Itzig, the banker's
beautiful daughter, and indicated that she belonged likewise to the
people who, scattered over the whole world, have with unshaken
fidelity and constancy preserved everywhere their type and habits.
And yet, upon examining the charming stranger somewhat more closely,
it became evident that she bore no resemblance either to Fanny or to
her sisters. Hers was a strange and peculiar style of beauty,
irresistibly attractive and chilling at the same time--a tall,
queenly figure, wrapped in a purple velvet dress, fastened under her
bosom by a golden sash. Her shoulders, dazzling white, and of a
truly classical shape, were bare; her short ermine mantilla had
slipped from them and hung gracefully on her beautiful, well-rounded
arms, on which magnificent diamond bracelets were glittering. Her
black hair fell down in long, luxuriant ringlets on both sides of
her transparent, pale cheeks, and was fastened in a knot by means of
several large diamond pins. A diamond of the most precious
brilliants crowned her high and thoughtful forehead.
She looked as proud and glorious as a queen, and there was something
haughty, imperious, and cold in the glance with which she now slowly
and searchingly surveyed the large room.
"Tell me," whispered Baron Arnstein, bending over Fanny Itzig, "who
is the beautiful lady now standing near the door?"
"Oh!" exclaimed Fanny, joyfully, "she has come after all. We
scarcely dared to hope for her arrival. It is Marianne Meier."
"What! Marianne Meier?" asked Baron Arnstein. "The celebrated beauty
whom Goethe has loved--for whom the Swedish ambassador at Berlin,
Baron Bernstein, has entertained so glowing a passion, and suffered
so much--and who is now the mistress of the Austrian minister, the
Prince von Reuss?"
"Hush, for Heaven's sake, hush!" whispered Fanny. "She is coming
And Fanny went to meet the beautiful lady. Marianne gently inclined
her head and kissed Fanny with the dignified bearing of a queen.
"I have come to congratulate you and your sisters," she said, in a
sonorous, magnificent alto voice. "I wanted to see how beautiful you
looked, and whether your betrothed was worthy of possessing you or
Fanny turned round to beckon Baron Arnstein to join them, but he had
just left with the rabbi and the other officers of the synagogue.
The ladies were now alone, for the ceremony was about to begin. And
now the women entered, whose duty it was to raise loud lamentations
and weep over the fate of the brides who were about to leave the
parental roof and to follow their husbands. They spread costly
carpets at the feet of the brides, who were sitting on armchairs
among the assembled ladies, and strewing flowers on these carpets,
they muttered, sobbing and weeping, ancient Hebrew hymns. The mother
stood behind them with trembling lips, and, raising her tearful eyes
toward heaven. The door was opened, and the sexton in a long robe,
his white beard flowing down on his breast, appeared, carrying in
his hand a white cushion with three splendid lace veils. He was
followed by Mr. Itzig, the father of the three brides. Taking the
veils from the cushion, and muttering prayers all the while, he laid
them on the heads of his daughters so that their faces and bodies
seemed to be surrounded by a thin and airy mist. And the mourning-
women sobbed, and two tears rolled over the pale cheeks of the
deeply-moved mother. The two men withdrew silently, and the ladies
were alone again.
But now, in the distance, the heart-stirring sounds of a choir of
sweet, sonorous children's voices were heard. How charming did these
voices reecho through the room! They seemed to call the brides, and,
as if fascinated by the inspiring melody, they slowly rose from
their seats. Their mother approached the eldest sister and offered
her hand to her. Two of the eldest ladies took the hands of the
younger sisters. The other ladies and the mourning-women formed in
pairs behind them, and then the procession commenced moving in the
direction of the inviting notes of the anthem. Thus they crossed the
rooms--nearer and nearer came the music--and finally, on passing
through the last door, the ladies stepped into a long hall,
beautifully decorated with flowers and covered with a glass roof
through which appeared the deep, transparent azure of the wintry
sky. In the centre of this hall there arose a purple canopy with
golden tassels. The rabbi, praying and with uplifted hands, was
standing under it with the three bridegrooms. The choir of the
singers, hidden behind flowers and orange-trees, grew louder and
louder, and to this jubilant music the ladies conducted the brides
to the canopy, and the ceremony commenced.
When it was concluded, when the veils were removed from the heads of
the brides so that they could now look freely into the world, the
whole party returned to the parlor, and brides and bridegrooms
received the congratulations of their friends.
Fanny and Marianne Meier were chatting in a bay-window at some
distance from the rest of the company. They were standing there, arm
in arm--Fanny in her white bridal costume, like a radiant lily, and
Marianne in her purple dress, resembling the peerless queen of
"You are going to leave Berlin to-day with your husband?" asked
"We leave in an hour," said Fanny, sighing.
Marianne had heard this sigh. "Do you love your husband?" she asked,
"I have seen him only twice," whispered Fanny.
A sarcastic smile played on Marianne's lips. "Then they have simply
sold you to him like a slave-girl to a wealthy planter," she said.
"It was a mere bargain and sale, and still you boast of it, and pass
your disgusting trade in human hearts for virtue, and believe you
have a right to look proudly and contemptuously down upon those who
refuse to be sold like goods, and who prefer to give away their love
to being desecrated without love."
"I do not boast of having married without love," said Fanny, gently.
"Oh, I should willingly give up wealth and splendor--I should be
quite ready to live in poverty and obscurity with a man whom I
"But first the old rabbi would have to consecrate your union with
such a man, I suppose?--otherwise you would not follow him,
notwithstanding your love?" asked Marianne.
"Yes, Marianne, that would be indispensable," said Fanny, gravely,
firmly fixing her large eyes upon her friend. "No woman should defy
the moral laws of the world, or if she does, she will always suffer
for it. If I loved and could not possess the man of my choice, if I
could not belong to him as his wedded wife, I should give him up.
The grief would kill me, perhaps, but I should die with the
consolation of having remained faithful to virtue--"
"And of having proved false to love!" exclaimed Marianne,
scornfully. "Phrases! Nothing but phrases learned by heart, my
child, but the world boasts of such phrases, and calls such
sentiments moral! Oh, hush! hush! I know what you are going to say,
and how you wish to admonish me. I heard very well how
contemptuously your husband called me the mistress of the Prince von
Reuss. Don't excuse him, and don't deny it, for I have heard it. I
might reply to it what Madame de Balbi said the other day upon being
upbraided with being the mistress of the Royal Prince d'Artois: 'Le
sang des princes ne souille pas!' But I do not want to excuse
myself; on the contrary, all of you shall some day apologize to me.
For I tell you, Fanny, I am pursuing my own path and have a peculiar
aim steadfastly in view. Oh, it is a great, a glorious aim. I want
to see the whole world at my feet; all those ridiculous prejudices
of birth, rank, and virtue shall bow to the Jewess, and the Jewess
shall become the peer of the most distinguished representatives of
society. See, Fanny, that is my plan and my aim, and it is yours
too; we are only pursuing it in different ways--YOU, by the side of
a man whose wife you are, and to whom you have pledged at the altar
love and fidelity WITHOUT feeling them; I, by the side of a man
whose friend I am--to whom, it is true, I have not pledged at the
altar love and fidelity, but whom I shall faithfully love BECAUSE I
have given my heart to him. Let God decide whose is the true
morality. The world is on your side and condemns me, but some day I
shall hurl back into its teeth all its contempt and scorn, and I
shall compel it to bow most humbly to me."
"And whosoever sees you in your proud, radiant beauty, must feel
that you will succeed in accomplishing what you are going to
undertake," said Fanny, bending an admiring glance on the glorious
creature by her side.
Marianne nodded gratefully. "Let us pursue our aim," she said, "for
it is one and the same. Both of us have a mission to fulfil, Fanny;
we have to avenge the Jewess upon the pride of the Christian women;
we have to prove to them that we are their equals in every respect,
that we are perhaps better, more accomplished, and talented than all
of those haughty Christian women. How often did they neglect and
insult us in society! How often did they offensively try to eclipse
us! How often did they vex us by their scorn and insolent bearing!
We will pay it all back to them; we will scourge them with the
scourges with which they have scourged us, and compel them to bow to
"They shall at least consider and treat us as their equals," said
Fanny, gravely. "I am not longing for revenge, but I want to hold my
place in society, and to prove to them that I am just as well-bred
and aristocratic a lady, and have an equal, nay, a better right to
call myself a representative of true nobility; for ours is a more
ancient nobility than that of all these Christian aristocrats, and
we can count our ancestors farther back into the most remote ages
than they--our fathers, the proud Levites, having been high-priests
in Solomon's temple, and the people having treated them as noblemen
even at that time. We will remind the Christian ladies of this
whenever they talk to us about their own ancestors, who, at best,
only date back to the middle ages or to Charlemagne." "That is
right. I like to hear you talk in this strain," exclaimed Marianne,
joyfully. "I see you will represent us in Vienna in a noble and
proud manner, and be an honor to the Jews of Berlin. Oh, I am so
glad, Fanny, and I shall always love you for it. And do not forget
me either. If it pleases God, I shall some day come to Vienna, and
play there a brilliant part. However, we shall never be rivals, but
always friends. Will you promise it?"
"I promise it," said Fanny, giving her soft white hand to her
friend. Marianne pressed it warmly.
"I accept your promise and shall remind you of it some day," she
said. "But now farewell, Fanny, for I see your young husband yonder,
who would like to speak to you, and yet does not come to us for fear
of coming in contact with the mistress of the Prince von Reuss. God
bless and protect his virtue, that stands in such nervous fear of
being infected! Farewell; don't forget our oath, and remember me."
She tenderly embraced her friend and imprinted a glowing kiss upon
her forehead, and then quickly turning around, walked across the
room. All eyes followed the tall, proud lady with admiring glances,
and some whispered, "How beautiful she is! How proud, how glorious!"
She took no notice, however; she had so often received the homage of
these whispers, that they could no longer gladden her heart. Without
saluting any one, her head proudly erect, she crossed the room,
drawing her ermine mantilla closely around her shoulders, and
deeming every thing around her unworthy of notice.
In the anteroom a footman in gorgeous livery was waiting for her. He
hastened down-stairs before her, opened the street door, and rushed
out in order to find his mistress's carriage among the vast number
of coaches encumbering both sides of the street, and then bring it
to the door.
Marianne stood waiting in the door, stared at by the inquisitive
eyes of the large crowd that had gathered in front of the house to
see the guests of the wealthy banker Itzig upon their departure from
the wedding. Marianne paid no attention whatever to these
bystanders. Her large black eyes swept over all those faces before
her with an air of utter indifference; she took no interest in any
one of them, and their impertinent glances made apparently no
impression upon her.
But the crowd took umbrage at her queenly indifference.
"Just see," the bystanders whispered here and there, "just see the
proud Jewess! How she stares at us, as if we were nothing but thin
air! What splendid diamonds she has got! Wonder if she is indebted
for them to her father's usury?"
On hearing this question, that was uttered by an old woman in rags,
the whole crowd laughed uproariously. Marianne even then took no
notice. She only thought that her carriage was a good while coming
up, and the supposed slowness of her footman was the sole cause of
the frown which now commenced clouding her brow. When the crowd
ceased laughing, a woman, a Jewess, in a dirty and ragged dress,
stepped forth and placed herself close to Marianne.
"You think she is indebted to her father for those diamonds!" she
yelled. "No, I know better, and can tell you all about it. Her
father was a good friend of mine, and frequently traded with me when
he was still a poor, peddling Jew. He afterward made a great deal of
money, while I grew very poor; but he never bought her those
diamonds. Just listen to me, and I will tell you what sort of a
woman she is who now looks down on us with such a haughty air. She
is the Jewess Marianne Meier, the mistress of the old Prince von
"Ah, a mistress!" shouted the crowd, sneeringly. "And she is looking
at us as though she were a queen. She wears diamonds in her hair,
and wants to hide her shame by dressing in purple velvet. She--"
At that moment the carriage rolled up to the door; the footman
obsequiously opened the coach door and hastened to push back the
crowd in order to enable Marianne to walk over the carpet spread out
on the sidewalk to her carriage.
"We won't be driven back!" roared the crowd; "we want to see the
beautiful mistress--we want to see her close by."
And laughing, shouting, and jeering, the bystanders crowded closely
around Marianne. She walked past them, proud and erect, and did not
seem to hear the insulting remarks that were being levelled at her.
Only her cheeks had turned even paler than before, and her lips were
quivering a little.
Now she had reached her carriage and entered. The footman closed the
door, but the mob still crowded around the carriage, and looked
through the glass windows, shouting, "Look at her! look at her! What
a splendid mistress she is! Hurrah for her! Long live the mistress!"
The coachman whipped the horses, and the carriage commenced moving,
but it could make but little headway, the jeering crowd rolling
along with it like a huge black wave, and trying to keep it back at
Marianne sat proudly erect in her carriage, staring at the mob with
naming and disdainful eyes. Not a tear moistened her eyes; not a
word, not a cry issued from her firmly-compressed lips. Even when
her carriage, turning around the corner, gained at last a free field
and sped away with thundering noise, there was no change whatever in
her attitude, or in the expression of her countenance. She soon
reached the embassy buildings. The carriage stopped in front of the
vestibule, and the footman opened the coach door. Marianne alighted
and walked slowly and proudly to the staircase. The footman hastened
after her, and when she had just reached the first landing place he
stood behind her and whispered;