Part 8 out of 14
excellency had sent for."
"And he is there now?" asked Thugut.
"Yes, your excellency, Mr. Muller, the aulic councillor and
custodian of the imperial library is waiting in the anteroom."
"Admit him, then, "said Thugut, waving his hand toward the door.
Hudlitz limped out, and a few minutes later the announced visitor
appeared on the threshold of the door. He was a little, slender man,
with a stooping form, which had not been bent, however, by the
burden of years, but by the burden of learning, of night-watches and
untiring studies. His head, covered with a pig-tail wig, according
to the fashion of that period, was slightly bent forward. His
expansive forehead was indicative of the philosophical turn of his
mind; his large eyes were beaming with deep feeling; his pleasing,
yet not handsome features, were expressive to an almost touching
degree, of infinite gentleness and benevolence, and a winning smile
was playing constantly on his thin lips.
This smile, however, disappeared now that he felt the small,
piercing eyes of the minister resting upon his countenance. Hat in
hand, and without uttering a word, he remained standing at the door;
he only raised his head a little, and his eyes were fixed on the
minister with a calm and proud expression.
"You are the aulic councillor, Johannes Muller?" asked Thugut, after
a short pause, in a somewhat harsh voice.
"Yes, I am Johannes Muller," said the latter, and the smile had
already returned to his lips. "I thank your excellency for this
"What do you mean by that, sir?" asked Thugut, wonderingly. "Why do
you call my question salutary?"
"Because it involves a good lesson, your excellency, and because it
informs me that they are wrong who, from motives of mistaken
benevolence, would persuade me that I was a well-known person, and
that everybody in Vienna was familiar with my name. It is always
wholesome for an author to be reminded from time to time of his
insignificance and littleness, for it preserves him from giving way
to pride, and pride is always the first symptom of mental
Thugut fixed his eyes with a sullen air on the countenance of the
savant. "Do you want to give me a lesson?" he asked, angrily.
"By no means, your excellency," said Johannes Muller, calmly; "I
only wished to mention the reason why I was grateful to you for your
question. And now I trust your excellency will permit me the
question--to what am I indebted for the honor of being called to
"Well, I wished to make your acquaintance, Mr. Aulic Councillor,"
said Thugut. "I wished no longer to remain the only inhabitant of
Vienna who had not seen the illustrious historian of Switzerland and
the author of the 'Furstenbund.' [Footnote: "The League of the
Princes," one of the celebrated works of Johannes von Muller.] You
see, sir, I know your works at least, even though I did not know
"And your excellency did not lose any thing by not knowing the
latter, for it is a person that is not worth the trouble to become
acquainted with. We men of learning are less able to speak with our
tongues than with our pens, and our desk alone is our rostrum."
"And there you are a powerful and most impressive orator, Mr. Aulic
Councillor!" exclaimed Thugut, in a tone of unaffected and cordial
An air of joyful surprise overspread the gentle face of Johannes
Muller, and he cast a glance of heart-felt gratitude on the
Thugut noticed this glance. "You are surprised that I am able to
appreciate your merits so correctly and yet suffered years to elapse
without inviting you to call on me? I am a poor man, overburdened
with business and harassed with the dry details of my
administration, and the direction of political affairs leaves me no
leisure to be devoted to literature."
"At least not to German literature," said Muller, quickly; "but
every one knows your excellency to be a profound connoisseur of
oriental languages; and it is well known, too, that you devote a
great deal of attention to them, notwithstanding the immense burden
of business constantly weighing you down."
Thugut smiled, and his harsh features assumed a milder expression.
Johannes Muller, without intending it perhaps, had touched the chord
that sounded most sweetly to Thugut's ears; he had flattered him by
referring to his profound oriental studies.
"Well," he said, "you see I am taking likewise a lively interest in
German literature, for I invited you to come and see me; and you are
a German author, and one of the most illustrious at that. Now, sir,
let us speak frankly and without circumlocution, as two men of
science ought to do. Let us mutually forget our titles and official
positions, and chat confidentially with each other. Come, my dear
sir, let us sit down in these two arm-chairs and talk like two
German gentlemen; that is, frankly and sincerely. Nobody is here to
hear us, and I give you my word of honor nobody shall learn a word
of what we are going to say to each other. Perfect irresponsibility
and impunity for every thing that will be spoken during this
interview. Are you content with this, and will you promise me to
open your mind freely to me?"
"I promise it, your excellency, and shall reply truthfully and
fearlessly to whatever questions you may address to me, provided I
am able to tell you the truth."
"Yes, sir," replied Thugut, shrugging his shoulders. "Every thing
has two sides, and both are true according to the stand-point from
which one is looking at them. You have two sides yourself, sir, and
they are contrasting very strangely with each other. You are a
native of Switzerland, and yet you depict the Hapsburg princes in
your works with more genuine enthusiasm than any of our Austrian
historians. You are a republican, and yet you are serving a
monarchy, the forms of which seem to agree with you exceedingly
well. You belong to the orthodox reformed church, and yet you have
written 'The Voyages of the Popes,' and 'The Letters of Two Catholic
Prelates.' You are a friend of justice, and yet you have even
discovered good and praiseworthy qualities in that tyrannous King of
France, Louis XI. Now tell me, sir, which is your true side, and
what you really are?"
"I am a man," said Johannes Muller, gently; "I commit errors and
have my failings like all men, my heart is vacillating, but not my
head. With my head I am standing above all parties, and above all
individual feelings; hence I am able to write 'The Voyages of the
Popes,' and 'The Letters of Two Catholic Prelates,' although, as
your excellency stated, I am a member of the orthodox reformed
church; and hence I am able to praise the Hapsburgs and serve a
monarchy, although I am a republican. But my heart does not stand
above the contending parties; my heart loves mankind, and takes pity
on their failings; hence it is able to discover praiseworthy
qualities even in Louis XI. of France, for in the BAD king, it
constantly follows the vestiges of the man whom nature created good
"Those are the views of Jean Jacques Rousseau!" exclaimed Thugut,
contemptuously; "but these views are inapplicable to the world and
to practical life; he who desires to derive advantages from men,
first, of all things, must avail himself of their bad qualities and
flatter them. To hold intercourse with perfectly virtuous men is
tedious and unprofitable; fortunately, however, there are very few
of them. I should have no use whatever for such patterns of virtue,
and, instead of admiring them, I should try to annihilate them. He
who is to be a welcome tool for me, must either have a stain by
which I may catch him at the slightest symptom of disobedience, like
an insect tied to a string, and draw him back to me, or he must be
so narrow-minded and ignorant as not to understand me fully, and to
be unable to divine and penetrate my hidden thoughts and
intentions." [Footnote: Thugut's own words.--Vide Hormayer,
"Lebensbilder aus dein Befreiungskrieg," voi. i., p. 322.]
"In that case I must hope never to be a welcome tool of your
excellency," said Muller, gravely.
"Are you so sure of your virtue? Are you unconscious of any stain on
"If principles be virtue, yes; in that case I am sure of my virtue,"
said Muller, calmly. "I shall never be unfaithful to my principles,
and I hope never to have a stain on my conscience."
"Who is able to say that?" exclaimed Thugut, laughing; "many a one
has become a murderer, who was unwilling to tread on a worm, and
many a one has become a perjurer, who protested solemnly that he
would never utter a lie. But a truce to philosophical discussions. I
like to go directly at my aim, and to utter my thoughts clearly and
precisely. Listen, then, to me, and learn what I want you to do. You
are a great mind, an illustrious historian, a very learned man, and
you are pining away among the shelves of your imperial library. The
greatest historian of the century is nothing but the custodian of a
library, and is subordinate to a chief whom he must obey, although
the latter is mentally a pigmy compared with him. Such a position is
unworthy of your eminent abilities, or tell me, do you feel
contented with it?"
Johannes Muller smiled sadly. "Who is able to say that he feels
contented?" he asked. "I am, perhaps, a bad custodian, and that may
be the reason why the prefect of the Imperial Library, Baron Fenish,
is not on good terms with me, and profits by every opportunity to
mortify me. A German savant never was an independent man, for he
generally lacks the most indispensable requisite for an independent
position: he generally lacks wealth."
"Then you are poor?" asked Thugut, with flashing eyes.
"I have no other means than my salary. The Muses will adorn a man,
but they will not feed him."
"I will deliver you from your subordinate position," said Thugut,
hastily; "you shall be independent, free, and rich. You are a fool
to bury yourself, with your glory and with your pen, in the dust of
old books. Life and history are calling, and offering you their
metal tablets to write thereon. Write, then; write the history of
our times; render yourself an organ of the age; assist us, by your
writings, in preserving the government and law and order. Defend,
with your ringing voice, the actions of the government against the
aspersions of this would-be wise, noisy, and miserable people, and
you shall have a brilliant position and an annual salary of four
thousand florins. You are silent? You are right; consider well what
I am proposing to you. I offer you a brilliant position. I will make
you the great historian of our times. It affords you always so much
pleasure to praise and commend; well, sir, praise and commend what
we are doing. Assist me, at least, in mystifying our contemporaries
and posterity a little, and I will reward you in the most liberal
manner. A good title, a large salary, and we will, moreover, pay
"Ah! your excellency knows that I have debts, and you believe that
to be the string by which you may draw me to you like an insect?"
asked Muller, smiling. "To become the historian of our times is an
honorable and welcome offer, and I confess to your excellency that I
have already finished many a chapter of it in my head, and that I
have devoted a great deal of attention to the special history of
Austria. It would be agreeable to me if your excellency would permit
me to recite to you a few passages from the history of Austria, as I
have elaborated it in my head. This will be the best way for your
excellency to obtain the conviction whether I am really able to fill
so brilliant a position as your excellency has offered me, and
whether my services deserve so liberal a salary."
"Well, sir, let me hear a few passages from your 'History of
Austria.' I am very anxious to listen to them."
"And your excellency remembers the promise that there is to be
irresponsibility and impunity for whatever will be said during this
"I do, sir, and I swear that your words shall never be repeated to
any one, and that I shall only remember them when I have to reward
you for them. I swear, besides, that I will quietly and patiently
listen to you until you have concluded."
"I thank your excellency," said Johannes Muller, bowing gracefully.
"I should like to recite to your excellency now a chapter that I
desire to write on the literature of Austria. I turn my eyes back to
the days of Maria Theresa and Joseph the Second. Both of them were
lovers of literature, art, and science, which both of them promoted
and fostered. Joseph expelled darkness from his states and uttered
the great words, 'The mind shall be free!' And the mind became free.
It became active and exalted in every art; the poets raised their
voices; the learned sent the results of their studies into the
world, and labored powerfully for the advancement and enlightenment
of the people. The mind tore down the barriers that stupid fear had
raised between Austria and the other German states, and the great
poets who had lately arisen in Germany now became, also, the poets
and property of Austria. Austria called Lessing and Klopstock HER
poets; like the rest of Germany, she enthusiastically admired
Schiller's 'Robbers,' and wept over 'Werther's Sorrows;' she was
delighted with the poetry of Wieland; she learned to love the clear
and noble mind of Herder, and the writings of Jean Paul admonished
her to learn and to reflect. It was a glorious period, your
excellency, for a young nation had arisen in Austria, and it was
drawing its nourishment from the breasts of a young literature."
"And sucking from these breasts the revolutionary spirit, and the
arrogance of independent thinkers," interrupted Thugut, rudely.
Johannes Muller seemed not to have heard him, and continued: "Joseph
the Second died; scarcely a decade has passed, and what has this
decade made of Austria? The mind has been chained again; the censor
with his scissors has taken his stand again by the side of the
Austrian boundary-post; and the wall severing Austria from Germany
has been recreated. Every thing now has become again suspicious;
even the national spirit of the Austrian, even his hatred of foreign
oppression, and his hostility to foreign encroachments. In this
hatred itself the government sees the possibility of a rising, and a
spirit of opposition, for it sees that the people are no longer
asleep, but awake and thinking, and thought in itself is even now an
opposition. Every manifestation of enthusiasm for a man who has
spoken of the freedom and independence of Germany is looked upon
with suspicion, and the noblest men are being proscribed and
banished, merely because the people love them, and hope and expect
great things from them. The people, according to the wishes of
government, shall do nothing but sleep, obey, and be silent; the
people shall manifest no enthusiasm for any thing; the people shall
love nothing, desire nothing, think nothing; the people shall have
no heroes, to whom they are attached; for the glory of the heroes
might eclipse the emperor, and the shouts of love sound like shouts
"You refer to the Archdukes Charles and John," said Thugut, quietly.
"It is true, I have removed Archduke Charles from his command, for
his popularity with the army and people is very great, and would
have become dangerous to the emperor. We must conquer through tools,
and not through heroes; the latter are very unpleasant to deal with,
for they do not gratefully receive their reward as a favor, but they
impudently claim and take it as a right. The imperial throne must be
surrounded by heroes, but these heroes must never eclipse the
imperial throne. Pardon this note to your chapter, and proceed."
"The heroes of the sword are cast aside," continued Johannes Muller,
"but neither the heroes of thought nor the heroes of literature are
spared. The government tries to disgrace and insult literature,
because it is unable to assassinate it entirely; it drags literature
into the caves of unworthy censors, and mutilates its most beautiful
limbs and destroys the most magnificent splendor of its ideas. The
government is AFRAID of the mind; hence it desires to kill IT. A
government, however, may commit many mistakes, but it never ought to
show that it is afraid, fear exposing it to ridicule. And if we
ought not to weep over the persecutions which the apprehensions of
the government have caused to be instituted against literature, we
ought to laugh at them. Whole volumes of the most sublime works of
Gibbon, Robertson, Hume, and other great historians have been
prohibited; and there is not one of our German poets--neither
Goethe, nor Schiller, nor Herder, nor Wieland, nor Lessing, nor Jean
Paul--whose works are not ostracized in German Austria. Fear and a
bad conscience scent everywhere allusions, references, and hints.
Hence history is banished from the stage; for the history of the
past constantly points with a menacing finger at the sore spots of
the present. Shakespeare's 'King Lear' has been prohibited, because
the public might believe princes would lose their heads if weighed
down by misfortunes. 'Hamlet,' 'Richard the Third,' and 'Macbeth'
must not be performed, because people might get accustomed to the
dethronement and assassination of emperors and kings. Schiller's
'Mary Stuart' is looked upon as an allusion to Marie Antoinette;
'Wallenstein' and 'Tell' are ostracized, because they might provoke
revolutions and military mutinies. The 'Merchant of Venice' must not
be performed, because it might give rise to riotous proceedings
against the Jews; and in Schiller's 'Love and Intrigue,' President
de Kalb has been transformed into a plebeian vicedomus, in order to
maintain the respect due to the nobility and to the government
functionaries. It is true, it is permitted to represent villains and
impostors on the stage, but they must never be noblemen; and if men
of ideal character are to be brought upon the stage, they must be
either princes, counts, or police-directors. For even more sacred
than the dignity of the highest classes is the holy police, the
great guardian of the government, the great spy watching the people,
who are being deprived of every thing; to whom every intellectual
enjoyment, every free manifestation of their enthusiasm is
forbidden, and who are yet required to deem themselves happy, and
that they shall be faithfully attached to their government! If the
government enslaves the people, it must expect that these slaves
will lose all sense of honor and justice, and willingly sell
themselves to him who holds out to them the most glittering offers,
and knows best how to tempt them by golden promises!--I am through,
your excellency," said Johannes Muller, drawing a deep breath; "I
have recited to you my whole chapter on the literature of Austria,
and I thank you for having listened to me so patiently. Now it is
for your excellency alone to decide whether you deem me worthy of
filling the honorable position you have offered. I am ready to
accept it, and to write the history of our times in this spirit, and
shall be very grateful if your excellency will grant me for this
purpose your protection and a salary of four thousand florins."
Thugut looked with an air of pride and disdain into his glowing
"My dear sir," he said, after a long pause--"my dear sir, I was
mistaken in you, for I believed you to have a clear head and a
strong mind, and I perceive now that you are nothing but a weak
enthusiast, dreaming of ideal fancies which one day will turn out
entirely differently; to become spectres, from which you will shrink
back in dismay. You will not always remain the enthusiastic admirer
of freedom as at present; and the proud republican will one day,
perhaps, be transformed into the obedient servant of a tyrant. You
assured me quite haughtily that you had no stain on your conscience;
let me tell you, sir, that there is a stain on your character, and I
should have profited by it--you are vain. I should not have tried to
bribe you with money, but with flattery, and I had been successful.
I had too good an opinion of you, however. I believed you had a
vigorous mind, capable of comprehending what is necessary and
useful, and of preferring the practical and advantageous to the
ideal. Although a native of Switzerland, you are a genuine German
dreamer, and I hate dreamers. Go, sir, remain custodian of the
Imperial Library and complete your catalogues, but never imagine
that you will be able with your weak hand to stem the wheel of
history and of political affairs; the wheel would only destroy your
hand and what little glory you have obtained, and hurl you aside
like a crushed dog. Farewell!"
He turned his back upon Johannes Muller, and placed himself at the
window until the soft noise of the closing door told him that the
historian had left him.
"What a fool!" he said. Then, turning around again--"a genuine
German fool! Wanted to lecture me--ME!"
And, amused by the idea, Thugut burst into loud laughter. He then
rang the bell violently, and as soon as the valet de chambre made
his appearance he ordered him to get the carriage ready for him.
Fifteen minutes later the minister left the chancery of state for
the purpose of repairing, as was his custom every evening, to his
garden in the Wahringer Street. The streets through which he had to
pass were crowded with citizens, who were talking with ill-concealed
rage about the fresh defeat of the Austrians at Marengo, and were
loudly calling out that Minister Thugut was alone to blame for
Austria's misfortunes, and that he was the only obstacle that
prevented the emperor from making peace. And the people surrounded
the well-known carriage of the minister with constantly-increasing
exasperation, and cried in a constantly louder and more menacing
tone: "We do not want war! We want peace! peace!"
Thugut was leaning back comfortably on the cushions of his carriage.
He seemed not to hear the shouts of the people, and not to deem them
worthy of the slightest notice. Only when the tumult increased in
violence, and when the incensed people commenced hurling stones and
mud at his carriage, the minister rose for a moment in order to look
out with an air of profound disdain. He then leaned back on his
seat, and muttered, with a glance of indescribable contempt:
"Canaille!" [Footnote: Hormayer's "Lebensbilder," vol. i., p. 230.]
Tidings of fresh defeats had reached Vienna; more disasters had
befallen the army, and the great victory of Marengo had been
followed, on the 3rd of December, 1800, by the battle of
Hohenlinden, in which Moreau defeated the Austrians under Archduke
John. Even Thugut, the immovable and constant prime minister, felt
alarmed at so many calamities, and he was generally in a gloomy and
He felt that there was a power stronger than his will, and this
feeling maddened him with anger. He was sitting at his desk, with a
clouded brow and closely compressed lips, his sullen eyes fixed on
the papers before him, which a courier, just arrived from the
headquarters of the army, had delivered to him. They contained evil
tidings; they informed him of the immense losses of the Austrians,
and of the insolence of the victorious French general, who had only
granted the Austrian application for an armistice on condition that
the fortresses of Ulm, Ingolstadt and Philipsburg be surrendered to
him; and these humiliating terms had been complied with in order to
gain time and to concentrate a new army. For Thugut's stubbornness
had not been broken yet, and he still obstinately refused to
conclude the peace so urgently desired by the whole Austrian people,
nay, by the emperor himself.
"No, no, no peace!" he muttered, when he had perused the dispatches.
"We will fight on, even though we should be buried under the ruins
of Austria! I hate that revolutionary France, and I shall never
condescend to extend my hand to it for the purpose of making peace.
We will fight on, and no one shall dare to talk to me about peace!"
A low rap at the door leading to the reception-room interrupted his
soliloquy, and when he had harshly called out, "Come in," his valet
de chambre appeared in the door.
"Your excellency," he said, timidly, "Counts Colloredo, Saurau, and
Lehrbach have just arrived, and desire to obtain an interview with
Not a muscle moved in Thugut's face to betray his surprise, and he
ordered the servant in a perfectly calm voice to admit the gentlemen
immediately. He then hastily walked to the door for the purpose of
meeting them. They entered a few minutes later: first, Count
Colloredo, minister of the imperial household; next, Count Saurau,
minister of police; and last, Count Lehrbach, minister without
portfolio. Thugut surveyed the three dignitaries with a single
searching glance. He perceived that good-natured Count Colloredo
looked rather frightened; that the ferocious eyes of Count Lehrbach
were glistening like those of a tiger just about to lacerate his
victim: and that Count Saurau, that diplomatist generally so
impenetrable, permitted a triumphant smile to play on his lips. With
the sure tact which Thugut never lost sight of, he saw from the
various miens of these three gentlemen what had occasioned their
call upon him, and his mind was made up at once.
He received them, however, with a pleasant salutation, and took the
hand of Count Colloredo in order to conduct him to an armchair.
Colloredo's hand was cold and trembling, and Thugut said to himself,
"he is charged with a very disagreeable message for me, and he is
afraid to deliver it."
"Your excellency is doubtless astonished to see us disturb you at so
unexpected an hour," said Count Colloredo, in a tremulous voice,
when the four gentlemen had taken seats.
"No, I am not astonished," said Thugut, calmly. "You, gentlemen, on
the contrary, have only anticipated my wishes. I was just about to
invite you to see me for the purpose of holding a consultation, very
disastrous tidings having arrived from the headquarters of our army.
We have lost a battle at Hohenlinden--Archduke John has been
"And Moreau has already crossed the Inn and is now advancing upon
Vienna," said Count Lehrbach, with a sneer. "You have made some
terrible mistakes in your hopes of victory, minister."
"Yes, indeed, you have made some terrible mistakes, my dear little
baron," said Count Saurau, laying particular stress on the last
Thugut fixed a laughing look on him. "Why," he said, "how tender we
are to-day, and how big your beak has grown, my dear little count!
You seem but slightly afflicted by the misfortunes of the empire,
for your face is as radiant as that of a young cock that has just
driven a rival from its dunghill. But it must have been a very
stupid old cock that has condescended to fight with you. Now, my
dear Count Colloredo, let us talk about business. We have been
defeated at Hohenlinden, and Moreau is advancing upon Vienna. These
are two facts that cannot be disputed. But we shall recover from
these blows; we shall send a fresh army against Moreau, and it will
avenge our previous disasters."
"However, your excellency, that is a mere hope, and we may be
disappointed again," replied Colloredo, anxiously. "The emperor, my
gracious master, has lost faith in our victories, unless we should
have an able and tried general at the head of our forces--a general
equally trusted by the army and the nation."
"Let us, then, place such a general at the head of the army," said
Thugut, calmly; "let us immediately appoint Archduke Charles
commander-in-chief of the Austrian forces."
"Ah, I am glad that you consent to it," exclaimed Colloredo,
joyfully, "for the emperor has just instructed me to go to his
distinguished brother and to request him in the name of his majesty
to resume the command-in-chief."
"Well, he will accept it," said Thugut, smiling, "for commanding and
ruling always is a very agreeable occupation; and many a one would
be ready and willing to betray his benefactor and friend, if he
thereby could acquire power and distinction. Are you not, too, of
this opinion, my dear little Count Saurau? Ah, you do not know how
tenderly I am devoted to you. You are the puppet which I have raised
and fostered, and which I wanted to transform into a man according
to my own views. I am not to blame if you have not become a man, but
always remained only a machine to be directed by another hand.
Beware, my dear, of ever falling into unskilful or bad hands, for
then you would be lost, notwithstanding your elasticity and
pliability. But you have got a worthy friend there at your side,
noble, excellent Count Lehrbach. Do you know, my dear Count
Lehrbach, that there are evil-disposed persons who often tried to
prejudice me against you, who wanted to insinuate you were a rival
of mine, and were notoriously anxious to supplant me and to become
prime minister in my place? Truly, these anxious men actually went
so far as to caution me against you."
"And did not your excellency make any reply to them?" asked Count
"Parbleu, you ask me whether I have made a reply to them or not?"
said Thugut. "I have always replied to those warning voices: 'I need
not break Count Lehrbach's neck; he will attend to that himself. I
like to push a man forward whom I am able to hang at any time.'"
[Footnote: Thugut's own words.--Hormayer's "Lebensbilder," vol. i.,
"But you have not taken into consideration that the man whom you are
pushing forward might reach back and afford you the same pleasure
which you had in store for him," exclaimed Lehrbach, laughing
"Yes, that is true," said Thugut, artlessly; "I ought to have been
afraid of you, after all, and to perceive that you have got a nail
in your head on which one may be hanged very comfortably. But, my
friends, we detain Count Colloredo by our jokes, and you are aware
that he must hasten to the archduke in order to beg him to become
our commander-in-chief and to sign a treaty of peace with France.
For I believe we will make peace at all events."
"We shall make peace provided we fulfil the conditions which
Bonaparte has exacted," said Count Colloredo, timidly.
"Ah, he has exacted conditions, and these conditions have been
addressed to the emperor and not to myself?" asked Thugut.
"The dispatches were addressed to me, the minister of the imperial
household," said Count Colloredo, modestly. "The first of these
conditions is that Austria and France make peace without letting
England participate in the negotiations."
"And the second condition is beaming already on Count Lehrbach's
forehead," said Thugut, calmly. "Bonaparte demands that I shall
withdraw from the cabinet, as my dismissal would be to him a
guaranty of the pacific intentions of Austria, [Footnote: Hausser's
"History of Germany," vol. ii., p. 324.] Am I mistaken?"
"You are not; but the emperor, gratefully acknowledging the long and
important services your excellency has rendered to the state, will
not fulfil this condition and incur the semblance of ingratitude."
"Austria and my emperor require a sacrifice of me, and I am ready to
make it," said Thugut, solemnly. "I shall write immediately to his
majesty the emperor and request him to permit me to withdraw from
the service of the state without delay."
Count Colloredo sighed mournfully; Count Saurau smiled, and Count
Lehrbach laughed in Thugut's face with the mien of a hyena.
"And do you know who will be your successor?" asked the latter.
"My dear sir, I shall have no successor, only a miserable imitator,
and you will be that imitator," said Thugut, proudly. "But I give
you my word that this task will not be intrusted to you for a long
while. I shall now draw up my request to the emperor, and I beg you,
gentlemen, to deliver it to his majesty."
Without saying another word he went to his desk, hastily wrote a few
lines on a sheet of paper, which he then sealed and directed. "Count
Colloredo," he said, "be kind enough to hand this letter to the
Count Colloredo took it with one hand, and with the other he drew a
sealed letter from his bosom.
"And here, your excellency," he said--"here I have the honor to
present to you his majesty's reply. The emperor, fully cognizant of
your noble and devoted patriotism, was satisfied in advance that you
would be ready to sacrifice yourself on the altar of the country,
and, however grievous the resolution, he was determined to accept
the sacrifice. The emperor grants your withdrawal from the service
of the state; and Count Louis Cobenzl, who is to set out within a
few hours for Luneville, in order to open there the peace conference
with the brother of the First Consul, Joseph Bonaparte, will take
along the official announcement of this change in the imperial
cabinet. Count Lehrbach, I have the honor to present to you, in the
name of the emperor, this letter, by which his majesty appoints you
minister of the interior."
He handed to Count Lehrbach a letter, which the latter hastily
opened and glanced over with greedy eyes.
"And you, my dear little Count Saurau?" asked Thugut,
compassionately. "Have they not granted you any share whatever in
"Yes, they have; I have received the honorable commission to
communicate to the good people of Vienna the joyful news that Baron
Thugut has been dismissed," said Count Saurau; "and I shall now
withdraw in order to fulfil this commission."
He nodded sneeringly to Thugut, bowed respectfully to Count
Colloredo, and left the minister's cabinet.
"I am avenged," he muttered, while crossing the anteroom;
"henceforward the shipbuilder's son will call me no longer his 'dear
"And I shall withdraw, too," said Count Lehrbach, with a scornful
smile. "I shall withdraw in order to make all necessary
preparations, so that my furniture and horses can be brought here
tomorrow to the building of the chancery of state. For I suppose,
Baron Thugut, you will move out of this house in the course of to-
"Yes, I shall, and you will withdraw now, sir," said Thugut,
dismissing the count with a haughty wave of his hand. Count Lehrbach
went out laughing, and Count Colloredo remained alone with Thugut.
"And you," asked Thugut, "do not you wish to take leave of me by
telling me something that might hurt my feelings?"
"I have to tell you a great many things, but nothing that will hurt
your feelings," said Colloredo, gently. "First of all things, I must
beg you not to deprive me of your friendship and advice, but to
assist me as heretofore. I need your advice and your help more than
ever, and shall do nothing without previously ascertaining your
"The emperor will not permit it," said Thugut, gloomily. "He will
require you to break off all intercourse with me."
"On the contrary," whispered Colloredo, "the emperor desires you
always to assist him and myself by your counsels. The emperor
desires you to be kind enough to call every day upon me in order to
consider with me the affairs of the day, and there, accidentally of
course, you will meet his majesty, who wants to obtain the advice of
your experience and wisdom. You will remain minister, but
A flash of joy burst forth from Thugut's eyes, but he quickly
suppressed it again.
"And shall I meet in your house sometimes your wife, the beautiful
Countess Victoria?" he asked.
"Victoria implores you, through my mouth, to trust her and never to
doubt of her friendship. I beg you to receive the same assurance as
far as I am concerned. You have rendered both of us so happy, my
dear baron; you were the mediator of a marriage in which both of us,
Victoria as well as myself, have found the highest bliss on earth,
and never shall we cease to be grateful to you for it; nor shall we
ever be able or willing to do without your advice and assistance.
You are our head, we are your arms, and the head commanding the
arms, we shall always obey you. Victoria implores you to tell her
any thing you desire, so that she may give you forthwith a proof of
her willingness to serve you. She has charged me to ask you to do so
as a proof of your friendship."
"Well," said Thugut, laughing, "I accept your offer, as well as that
of your beautiful wife Victoria. Count Lehrbach has been appointed
minister and he wants even to move to-morrow into the chancery of
state. We will let him move in early in the morning, but, in the
course of the day, the emperor will do well to send him his
dismissal, for Count Lehrbach is unworthy of being his majesty's
minister of state. His hand is stained with the blood which was shed
at Rastadt, and a minister's hand must be clean."
"But whom shall we appoint minister in Lehrbach's place?"
"Count Louis Cobenzl, for his name will offer the best guaranty of
our pacific intentions toward France."
"But Count Cobenzl is to go to Luneville to attend the peace
"Let him do so, and until his return let Count Trautmannsdorf
temporarily discharge the duties of his office."
"Ah, that is true, that is a splendid idea!" exclaimed Count
Colloredo, joyfully. "You are a very sagacious and prudent
statesman, and I shall hasten to lay your advice before the emperor.
You may rest assured that every thing shall be done in accordance
with your wishes. Lehrbach remains minister until to-morrow at noon;
he then receives his dismissal, Count Louis Cobenzl will be
appointed his successor, and Count Trautmannsdorf will temporarily
discharge the duties of the office until Cobenzl's return from
Luneville. Shall it be done in this manner?"
"Yes, it shall," said Thugut, almost sternly.
"But this does not fulfil Victoria's prayer," said the count,
anxiously. "I am able to attend to these matters, but Victoria also
wants to give you a proof of her friendship."
"Well, I ask her to prepare a little joke for me and you," replied
Thugut. "Count Lehrbach will move early to-morrow morning with his
whole furniture into the chancery of state. I beg Victoria to bring
it about that he must move out to-morrow evening with his whole
furniture, like a martin found in the dove-cote." [Footnote:
Thugut's wishes were fulfilled. Count Lehrbach lost on the very next
day his scarcely-obtained portfolio, and he was compelled to remove
the furniture which, in rude haste he had sent to the chancery of
state in the morning, in the course of the same evening.--Vide
Hormayer's "Lebensbilder," vol. i., p. 330.]
"Ah, that will be a splendid joke," said Count Colloredo, laughing,
"and my dear Victoria will be happy to afford you this little
satisfaction. I am able to predict that Count Lehrbach will be
compelled to move out to-morrow evening. But now, my dearest friend.
I must hasten to Archduke Charles, who, as you are aware, is pouting
on one of his estates. I shall at once repair thither, and be absent
from Vienna for two days. Meantime, you will take care of Victoria
as a faithful friend."
"I shall take care of her if the countess will permit me to do so,"
said Thugut, smiling, and accompanying Count Colloredo to the door.
His eyes followed him for a long while with an expression of haughty
"The fools remain," he said, "and I must go. But no, I shall not go!
Let the world believe me to be a dismissed minister, I remain
minister after all. I shall rule through my creatures, Colloredo and
Victoria. I remain minister until I shall be tired of all these
miserable intrigues, and retire in order to live for myself."
[Footnote: Thugut really withdrew definitely from the political
stage, but secretly he retained his full power and authority, and
Victoria de Poutet-Colloredo, the influential friend of the Empress
Theresia, constantly remained his faithful adherent and confidante.
All Vienna, however, was highly elated by the dismissal of Thugut,
who had so long ruled the empire in the most arbitrary manner. An
instance of his system is the fact that; on his withdrawal from the
cabinet, there were found one hundred and seventy unopened
dispatches and more than two thousand unopened letters. Thugut only
perused what he believed to be worth the trouble of being read, and
to the remainder he paid no attention whatever.--"Lebensbilder,"
vol. i., p. 327.]
FANNY VON ARNSTEIN.
The young Baroness Fanny von Arnstein had just finished her morning
toilet and stepped from her dressing-room into her boudoir, in order
to take her chocolate there, solitary and alone as ever. With a
gentle sigh she glided into the arm-chair, and instead of drinking
the chocolate placed before her in a silver breakfast set on the
table, she leaned her head against the back of her chair and
dreamily looked up to the ceiling. Her bosom heaved profound sighs
from time to time, and the ideas which were moving her heart and her
soul ever and anon caused a deeper blush to mantle her cheeks; but
it quickly disappeared again, and was followed by an even more
She was suddenly startled from her musings by a soft, timid rap at
the door leading to the reception-room.
"Good Heaven!" she whispered, "I hope he will not dare to come to me
so early, and without being announced."
The rapping at the door was renewed. "I cannot, will not receive
him," she muttered; "it will be better not to be alone with him any
more. I will bolt the door and make no reply whatever."
She glided with soft steps across the room to the door, and was just
about to bolt it, when the rapping resounded for the third time, and
a modest female voice asked:
"Are you there, baroness, and may I walk in?"
"Ah, it is only my maid," whispered the baroness, drawing a deep
breath, as though an oppressive burden were removed from her breast,
and she opened the door herself.
"Well, Fanchon," she asked, in her gentle, winning voice, "what do
"Pardon me, baroness," said the maid, casting an inquisitive look
around the room, "the baron sent for me just now; he asked me if you
had risen already and entered your boudoir, and when I replied in
the affirmative, the baron gave me a message for you, with the
express order, however, not to deliver it until you had taken your
chocolate and finished your breakfast. I see now that I must not yet
deliver it; the breakfast is still on the table just as it was
"Take it away; I do not want to eat any thing," said the baroness,
hastily. "And now Fanchon, tell me your errand."
Fanchon approached the table, and while she seized the silver
salver, she cast a glance of tender anxiety on her pale, beautiful
"You are eating nothing at all, baroness," she said, timidly; "for a
week already I have had to remove the breakfast every morning in the
same manner; you never tasted a morsel of it, and the valet de
chambre says that you hardly eat any thing at the dinner-table
either; you will be taken ill, baroness, if you go on in this
"Never mind, dear Fanchon," her mistress interrupted her with a
gentle smile, "I have hardly any appetite, it is true, but I do not
feel unwell, nor do I want to be taken ill. Let us say no more about
it, and tell me the message the baron intrusted to you."
"The baron wished me to ask you if you would permit him to pay you
immediately a visit, and if you would receive him here in your
The baroness started, and an air of surprise overspread her
features. "Tell the baron that he will be welcome, and that I am
waiting for him," she said then, calmly. But so soon as Fanchon had
withdrawn, she whispered: "What is the meaning of all this? What is
the reason of this unusual visit? Oh, my knees are trembling, and my
heart is beating so violently, as though it wanted to burst. Why?
What have I done, then? Am I a criminal, who is afraid to appear
before her judge?"
She sank back into her arm-chair and covered her blushing face with
her hands. "No," she said, after a long pause, raising her head
again, "no, I am no criminal, and my conscience is guiltless. I am
able to raise my eyes freely to my husband and to my God. So far, I
have honestly struggled against my own heart, and I shall struggle
on in the same manner. I--ah! he is coming," she interrupted herself
when she heard steps in the adjoining room, and her eyes were fixed
with an expression of anxious suspense on the door.
The latter opened, and her husband, Baron Arnstein, entered. His
face was pale, and indicative of deep emotion; nevertheless, he
saluted his wife with a kind smile, and bent down in order to kiss
her hand, which she had silently given to him.
"I suppose you expected me?" he asked. "You knew, even before I sent
Fanchon to you, that I should come and see you at the present hour?"
Fanny looked at him inquiringly, and in surprise. "I confess," she
said, in an embarrassed tone, "that I did not anticipate your visit
by any means until Fanchon announced it to me, and I only mention it
to apologize for the dishabille in which you find me."
"Ah, you did not expect me, then?" exclaimed the baron, mournfully.
"You have forgotten every thing? You did not remember that this is
the anniversary of our wedding, and that five years have elapsed
since that time?"
"Indeed," whispered Fanny, in confusion, "I did not know that this
was the day."
"You felt its burden day after day, and it seemed to you, therefore,
as though that ill-starred day were being renewed for you all the
year round," exclaimed the baron, sadly. "Pardon my impetuosity and
my complaints," he continued, when he saw that she turned pale and
averted her face. "I will be gentle, and you shall have no reason to
complain of me. But as you have forgotten the agreement which we
made five years ago, permit me to remind you of it."
He took a chair, and, sitting down opposite her, fixed a long,
melancholy look upon her. "When I led you to the altar five years
ago to-day," he said, feelingly, "you were, perhaps, less beautiful
than now, less brilliant, less majestic; but you were in better and
less despondent spirits, although you were about to marry a man who
was entirely indifferent to you."
"Oh, I did not say that you were indifferent to me," said Fanny, in
a low voice; "only I did not know you, and, therefore, did not love
"You see that want of acquaintance was not the only reason," he
said, with a bitter smile, "for now, I believe, you know me, and yet
you do not love me. But let us speak of what brought me here to-day-
-of the past. You know that, before our marriage, you afforded me
the happiness of a long and confidential interview, that you
permitted me to look down into the depths of your pure and noble
soul, that you unveiled to me your innocent heart, that did not yet
exhibit either scars or wounds, nor even an image, a souvenir, and
allowed me to be your brother and your friend, as you would not
accept me as a lover and husband. Before the world, however, I
became your husband, and took you to Vienna, to my house, of which
you were to be the mistress and queen. The whole house was gayly
decorated, and all the rooms were opened, for your arrival was to be
celebrated by a ball. Only one door was locked; it was the door of
this cabinet. I conducted you hither and said to you, 'This is your
sanctuary, and no one shall enter it without your permission. In
this boudoir you are not the Baroness Arnstein, not my wife; but
here you are Fanny Itzig, the free and unshackled young girl, who is
mistress of her will and affections. I shall never dare myself,
without being expressly authorized by you, to enter this room; and
when I shall be allowed to do so, I shall only come as a cavalier,
who has the honor to pay a polite visit to a beautiful lady, to whom
he is not connected in any manner whatever. Before the world I am
your husband, but not in this room. Hence I shall never permit
myself to ask what you are doing in this room, whom you are
receiving here; for here you are only responsible to God and
yourself.' Do you now remember that I said this to you at that
"I told you further that I begged you to continue with me one day
here in this room the confidential conversation which we held before
our marriage. I begged you to fix a period of five years for this
purpose and, during this time, to examine your heart and to see
whether life at my side was at least a tolerable burden, or whether
you wished to shake it off. I asked you to promise me that I might
enter this room on the fifth anniversary of our wedding-day, for the
purpose of settling then with you our future mode of living. You
were kind enough to grant my prayer, and to promise what I asked. Do
you remember it?"
"I do," said Fanny, blushing; "I must confess, however, that I did
not regard those words in so grave a light as to consider them as a
formal obligation on your part. You would have been every day a
welcome guest in this room, and it was unnecessary for you to wait
for a particular day in accordance with an agreement made five years
"Your answer is an evasive one," said the baron, sadly. "I implore
you, let us now again speak as frankly and honestly as we did five
years ago to-day! Will you grant my prayer?"
"I will," replied Fanny, eagerly; "and I am going to prove
immediately that I am in earnest. You alluded a few minutes ago to
our past, and asked me wonderingly if I had forgotten that interview
on our wedding-day. I remember it so well, however, that I must
direct your attention to the fact that you have forgotten the
principal portion of what we said to each other at that time, or
rather that, in your generous delicacy, and with that magnanimous
kindness which you alone may boast of, you have intentionally
omitted that portion of it. You remembered that I told you I did not
love you, but you forgot that you then asked me if I loved another
man. I replied to you that I loved no one, and never shall I forget
the mournful voice in which you then said, 'It is by far easier to
marry with a cold heart than to do so with a broken heart; for the
cold heart may grow warm, but the broken heart--never!' Oh, do not
excuse yourself," she continued, with greater warmth; "do not take
me for so conceited and narrow-minded a being that I should have
regarded those words of yours as an insult offered to me! It was, at
the best, but a pang that I felt."
"A pang?" asked the baron, in surprise; and he fixed his dark eyes,
with a wondrously impassioned expression, on the face of his
"Yes, I felt a pang," she exclaimed, vividly, "for, on hearing your
words, which evidently issued from the depths of your soul, on
witnessing your unaffected and passionate grief, your courageous
self-abnegation, I felt that your heart had received a wound which
never would close again, and that you never would faithlessly turn
from your first love to a second one."
"Oh, my God," murmured the baron, and he averted his face in order
not to let her see the blush suddenly mantling it.
Fanny did not notice it, and continued: "But this dead love of yours
laid itself like the cold hand of a corpse upon my breast and doomed
it to everlasting coldness. With the consciousness that you never
would love me, I had to cease striving for it, and give up the hope
of seeing, perhaps, one day my heart awake in love for you, and the
wondrous flower of a tenderness after marriage unfold itself, the
gradual budding of which had been denied to us by the arbitrary
action of our parents, who had not consulted our wishes, but only
our fortunes. I became your wife with the full conviction that I
should have to lead a life cold, dreary, and devoid of love, and
that I could not be for you but an everlasting burden, a chain, an
obstacle. My pride, that was revolting against it, told me that I
should be able to bear this life in a dignified manner, but that I
never ought to make even an attempt to break through this barrier
which your love for another had erected between us, and which you
tried to raise as high as possible."
"I!" exclaimed the baron, sadly.
"Yes, you," she said, gravely. "Or did you believe, perhaps, I did
not comprehend your rigorous reserve toward me? I did not understand
that you were wrapping around your aversion to me but a delicate
veil? You conducted me to this room and told me that you never would
enter it, and that you would only come here when specially invited
by myself to do so. Well, sir, you managed very skilfully to conceal
your intention never to be alone with me, and to lead an entirely
separate life from me under this phrase, for you knew very well that
my pride never would permit me to invite you here against your
"Oh, is it possible that I should have been misunderstood in this
manner?" sighed the baron, but in so low a voice that Fanny did not
"You further told me," she continued, eagerly, "that I should only
bear the name of your wife before the world, but not in this room
where I was always to be Fanny Itzig. You were kind enough to give
to this moral divorce, which you pronounced in this manner, the
semblance as though YOU were the losing party, and as though you
were only actuated by motives of delicacy toward me. I understood it
all, however, and when you left this room after that conversation,
sir, I sank down on my knees and implored God that He might remain
with me in this loneliness to which you had doomed me, and I
implored my pride to sustain and support me, and I swore to my
maidenly honor that I would preserve it unsullied and sacred to my
"Oh, good Heaven!" groaned the baron, tottering backward like a man
suddenly seized with vertigo.
Fanny, in her own glowing excitement, did not notice it.
"And thus I commenced my new life," she said, "a life of splendor
and magnificence; it was glittering without, but dreary within, and
in the midst of our most brilliant circles I constantly felt lonely;
surrounded by hundreds who called themselves friends of our house, I
was always alone--I, the wife of your reception-room, the disowned
of my boudoir! Oh, it is true I have obtained many triumphs; I have
seen this haughty world, that only received me hesitatingly, at last
bow to me; the Jewess has become the centre of society, and no one
on entering our house believes any longer that he is conferring a
favor upon us, but, on the contrary, receiving one from us. It is
the TON now to visit our house; we are being overwhelmed with
invitations, with flattering attentions. But tell me, sir, is all
this a compensation for the happiness which we are lacking and which
we never will obtain? Oh, is it not sad to think that both of us, so
young, so capable of enjoying happiness, should already be doomed to
eternal resignation and eternal loneliness? Is it not horrible to
see us, and ought not God Himself to pity us, if from the splendor
of His starry heavens He should look down for a moment into our
gloomy breasts? I bear in it a cold, frozen heart, and you a coffin.
Oh, sir, do not laugh at me because you see tears in my eyes--it is
only Fanny Itzig who is weeping; Baroness von Arnstein will receive
your guests to-night in your saloons with a smiling face, and no one
will believe that her eyes also know how to weep. But here, here in
my widow-room, here in my nun's cell, I may be permitted to weep
over you and me, who have been chained together with infrangible
fetters, of which both of us feel the burden and oppression with
equal bitterness and wrath. May God forgive our parents for having
sacrificed our hearts on the altar of THEIR God, who is Mammon; _I_
shall ever hate them for it; I shall never forgive them, for they
who knew life must have known that there is nothing more unhappy,
more miserable, and more deplorable than a wife who does not love
her husband, is not beloved by him."
"Is not beloved by him!" repeated the baron, approaching his wife
who, like a broken reed, had sunk down on a chair, and seizing her
hand, he said: "You say that I do not love you, Fanny! Do you know
my heart, then? Have you deemed it worth while only a single time to
fix your proud eyes on my poor heart? Did you ever show me a symptom
of sympathy when I was sick, a trace of compassion when you saw me
suffering? But no, you did not even see that I was suffering, or
that I was sad. Your proud, cold glance always glided past me; it
saw me rarely, it never sought me! What can you know, then, about my
heart, and what would you care if I should tell you now that there
is no longer a coffin in it, that it has awoke to a new life, and--"
"Baron!" exclaimed Fanny, rising quickly and proudly, "will you,
perhaps, carry your magnanimity and delicacy so far as to make me a
declaration of love? Did I express myself in my imprudent
impetuosity so incorrectly as to make you believe I was anxious even
now to gain your love, and that I was complaining of not having
obtained it? Do you believe me to be an humble mendicant, to whom in
your generosity you want to throw the morsel of a declaration of
love? I thank you, sir, I am not hungry, and do not want this
morsel. Let us at least be truthful and sincere toward each other,
and the truth is, we do not love each other and shall never do so.
Let us never try to feign what we never shall feel. And if you now
should offer me your love I should have to reject it, for I am
accustomed to a freezing temperature; and I should fare like the
natives of Siberia, I should die if I were to live in a warmer zone.
Both of us are living in Siberia; well, then, as we cannot expect
roses to bloom for us, let us try at least to catch sables for
ourselves. The sable, moreover, is an animal highly valued by the
whole world. People will envy our sable furs, for they know them to
be costly; they would laugh at us if we should adorn our heads with
roses, for roses are not costly by any means, they are common, and
every peasant-girl may adorn herself with them."
"You are joking," said the baron, mournfully, "and yet there are
tears glistening in your eyes. However, your will shall be sacred to
me. I shall never dare to speak to you again about my heart. But let
us speak about you and your future. The five years of our agreement
have elapsed, and I am here to confer with you about your future.
Tell me frankly and honestly, Fanny, do you wish to be divorced from
She started and fixed a long and searching look on her husband.
"Your father died a year ago," she said, musingly, "you are now the
chief of the firm; no one has a right to command any longer what you
are to do, and being free now, you may offer your hand to her whom
you love, I suppose?"
The baron uttered a shriek, and a death-like pallor overspread his
face. "Have I deserved to be thus deeply despised by you?" he
Fanny quickly gave him her hand. "Pardon me," she said, cordially.
"I have pained you quite unintentionally; the grief of this hour has
rendered me cruel. No, I do not believe that you, merely for your
own sake, addressed this question to me; I know, on the contrary,
that you entertain for me the sympathy of a brother, of a friend,
and I am satisfied that your question had my happiness in view as
well as yours."
"Well," he said, with the semblance of perfect calmness, "let me
repeat my question, then: do you want to be divorced from me?"
Fanny slowly shook her head. "Why?" she asked, sadly. "I repeat to
you what I told you once already; we are living in Siberia--let us
remain there. We are accustomed to a freezing temperature; we might
die, perhaps, in a warmer zone."
"Or your heart might exult, perhaps, with happiness and delight,"
said the baron, and now HIS eyes were fixed inquiringly upon her
face. "You called me just now your friend, you admitted that I felt
for you the sympathy of a brother; well, then, let me speak to you
as your brother and friend. Do not reject the offer of a divorce so
quickly, Fanny, for I tell you now I shall never renew it, and if
you do not give me up to-day, you are chained to me forever, for I
shall never be capable again of a courage so cruel against myself.
Consider the offer well, therefore. Think of your youth, your
beauty, and your inward loneliness. Remember that your heart is
yearning for love and pining away in its dreary solitude. And now
look around, Fanny; see how many of the most distinguished and
eminent cavaliers are surrounding you, and longing for a glance, for
a smile from you. See by how many you are being loved and adored,
and then ask yourself whether or not among all these cavaliers no
one would be able to conquer your heart if it were free? For I know
your chaste virtue; I know that, although chained to an unbeloved
husband, you never would prove faithless to him and avow love to
another so long as you were not free. Imagine, then, you were free,
and then ask your heart if it will not decide for one of your many
"No, no," she said, deprecatingly, "I cannot imagine a state of
affairs that does not exist; as I am not free, I must not entertain
the thoughts of a free woman."
Her husband approached her, and seizing her hand, looked at her in a
most touching and imploring manner.
"Then you have forgotten that five years ago, on our wedding-day,
you promised me always to trust me?" he asked. "You have forgotten
that you took an oath that you would tell me so soon as your heart
had declared for another man?"
Fanny could not bear his look, and lowered her eyes.
"It has not declared for another man, and, therefore, I have nothing
to confide to you," she said, in a low voice.
The baron constantly held her hand in his own, and his eyes were
still fixed on her face.
"Let us consider the matter together," he said. "Permit me to review
your cavaliers and admirers, and to examine with you if there is not
one among them whom you may deem worthy of your love."
"What!" ejaculated Fanny, having recourse to an outburst of
merriment in order to conceal her embarrassment, "you want to make
me a Portia, and perform with me a scene from the 'Merchant of
"Yes, you are Portia, and I will play the role of your confidant,"
said Baron Arnstein, smiling. "Well, let us begin our review. First,
there is Count Palfy, a member of the old nobility, of the most
faultless manners, young, rich, full of ardent love for--"
"For your dinner-parties and the rare dishes that do not cost him
any thing," interrupted Fanny. "He is an epicure, who prefers dining
at other people's tables because he is too stingy to pay for the
Indian birds'-nests which he relishes greatly. As for myself, he
never admires me until after dinner, for so soon as his stomach is
at rest his heart awakes and craves for food; and his heart is a
gourmand, too--it believes love to be a dish; voila tout!"
"Next, there is the handsome Marchese Pallafredo," said her husband,
"He loves me because he has been told that I speak excellent and
pure German, and because he wants me to teach him how to speak
German. He takes me for a grammar, by means of which he may become
familiar with our language without any special effort."
"Then there is Count Esterhazy, one of our most brilliant cavaliers;
you must not accuse him of stinginess, for he is just the reverse, a
spendthrift, squandering his money with full hands; nor must you
charge him with being an epicure, for he scarcely eats any thing at
all at our dinner-parties, and does not know what he is eating, his
eyes being constantly riveted on you, and his thoughts being
occupied exclusively with you."
"It is true, he admires me," said Fanny, calmly, "but only a few
months ago he was as ardent an adorer of my sister Eskeles, and
before he was enamoured of her, he was enthusiastically in love with
Countess Victoria Colloredo. He loves every woman who is fashionable
in society for the time being, and his heart changes as rapidly as
"Besides, there is the prebendary, Baron Weichs," said her husband;
"a gentleman of great ability, a savant, and withal a cavalier, a--"
"Oh, pray do not speak of him!" exclaimed Fanny, with an air of
horror. "His love is revolting to me, and fills me with shame and
dismay. Whenever he approaches me my heart shrinks back as if from a
venomous serpent, and a feeling of disgust pervades my whole being,
although I am unable to account for it. There is something in his
glances that is offensive to me; and although he has never dared to
address me otherwise than in the most respectful and reserved
manner, his conversation always makes me feel as though I were
standing under a thunder-cloud from which the lightning might burst
forth at any moment to shatter me. As you say, he is a man of
ability, but he is a bad man; he is passionately fond of the ladies,
but he does not respect them."
"And he does not even deserve mentioning here," said the baron,
smiling, "for, even though you were free already, the prebendary
never could enjoy the happiness of becoming your husband, and I know
that your heart is too chaste to love a man who is unable to offer
you his hand. Let us, then, look for such a man among the other
cavaliers. There is, for instance, Prince Charles, of Lichtenstein,
the most amiable, genial, and handsome of your admirers; a young
prince who is neither haughty nor proud, neither prodigal nor
stingy; who neither makes love to all ladies so soon as they become
fashionable as does Count Esterhazy, nor wants to learn German from
you, as does the Marchese Pallafredo; a young man as beautiful as
Apollo, as brave as Mars, modest notwithstanding his learning, and
affable and courteous notwithstanding his high birth. Well, Fanny,
you do not interrupt me? Your sharp tongue, that was able to condemn
all the others, has no such sentence for the Prince von
Lichtenstein. You suffer me to praise him. Then you assent to my
"I can neither contradict you nor assent to your words," said Fanny,
with a forced smile; "I do not know the prince sufficiently to judge
him. He has been at Vienna but a very few months--"
"But he has been a daily visitor in our house during that period,"
said her husband, interrupting her, "and he is constantly seen at
your side. All Vienna knows that the prince is deeply enamoured of
you, and he does not conceal it by any means, not even from myself.
A few days ago, when he was so unfortunate as not to find you at
home, because you were presiding over a meeting of your benevolent
society, he met me all alone in the reception-room. Suddenly, in the
midst of a desultory conversation, he paused, embraced me
passionately, and exclaimed: 'Be not so kind, so courteous, and
gentle toward me, for I hate you, I detest you--because I hate every
thing keeping me back from her; I detest every thing that prevents
me from joining HER! Forgive my love for her and my hatred toward
you; I feel both in spite of myself. If you were not her husband, I
should love you like a friend, but that accursed word renders you a
mortal enemy of mine. And still I bow to you in humility--still I
implore you to be generous; do not banish me from your house, from
HER, for I should die if I were not allowed to see her every day!'"
Fanny had listened to him with blushing cheeks and in breathless
suspense. Her whole soul was speaking from the looks which she fixed
on her husband, and with which she seemed to drink every word, like
sweet nectar, from his lips.
"And what did you reply to him?" she asked, in a dry and husky
voice, when the baron was silent.
"I replied to him that you alone had to decide who should appear at
our parties, and that every one whom you had invited would be
welcome to me. I further told him that his admiration for you did
not astonish me at all, and that I would readily forgive his hatred,
The baron paused all at once and looked at his wife with a surprised
and inquiring glance. She had started in sudden terror; a deep blush
was burning on her cheeks, and her eyes, which had assumed a
rapturous and enthusiastic expression, turned toward the door.
The baron's eyes followed her glance, and he heard now a slight
noise at the door.
"I believe somebody has knocked at the door," he said, fixing his
piercing eyes on his wife. She raised her head and whispered, "Yes,
I believe so."
"And it is the second time already," said the baron, calmly. "Will
you not permit the stranger to walk in?"
"I do not know," she said, in great embarrassment, "I--"
Suddenly the door opened, and a young man appeared on the threshold.
"Ah, the Prince von Lichtenstein," said the baron, and he went with
perfect calmness and politeness to meet the prince who, evidently in
great surprise, remained standing in the door, and was staring
gloomily at the strange and unexpected group.
"Come in, my dear sir," said the baron, quietly; "the baroness will
be very grateful to you for coming here just at this moment and
interrupting our conversation, for it referred to dry business
matters. I laid a few old accounts, that had been running for five
years, before the baroness, and she gave me a receipt for them, that
was all. Our interview, moreover, was at an end, and you need not
fear to have disturbed us. Permit me, therefore, to withdraw, for
you know very well that, in the forenoon, I am nothing but a banker,
a business man, and have to attend to the affairs of our firm."
He bowed simultaneously to the prince and to his wife, and left the
room, as smiling, calm, and unconcerned as ever. Only when the door
had closed behind him, when he had satisfied himself by a rapid
glance through the reception-room that nobody was there, the smile
disappeared from his lips, and his features assumed an air of
"She loves him," he muttered; "yes, she loves him! Her hand trembled
in mine when I pronounced his name, and oh! how radiant she looked
when she heard him come! Yes, she loves him, and I?--I will go to my
counting-house!" he said, with a smile that was to veil the tears in
The baron had no sooner closed the door of the boudoir when the
young Prince von Lichtenstein hastened to Fanny, and, impetuously
seizing her hand, looked at her with a passionate and angry air.
"You did that for the purpose of giving me pain, I suppose?" he
asked, with quivering lips. "You wished to prove to me that you did
not confer any special favor upon me; Yesterday you were kind enough
to assure me that no man ever had set foot into this room, and that
I should be the first to whom it would be opened today; and I was
such a conceited fool as to believe your beatifying words, and I
rush hither as early as is permitted by decency and respect, and yet
I do not find you alone."
"It was my husband who was here," said Fanny, almost deprecatingly.
"It was a man," he ejaculated, impetuously, "and you had given me
the solemn assurance that this door had never yet opened to any man.
Oh, I had implored you on my knees, and with tearful eyes, to allow
me to see you here to-day; it seemed to me as though the gates of
paradise were to be at last opened to me; no sleep came into my eyes
all night, the consciousness of my approaching bliss kept me awake;
it was over me like a smiling cherub, and I was dreaming with open
eyes. And now that the lazy, snail-like time has elapsed, now that I
have arrived here, I find in my heaven, at the side of my cherub, a
calculating machine, desecrating my paradise by vile accounts--"
"Pray do not go on in this manner," interrupted Fanny, sternly. "You
found my husband here, and that, of course, dissolves the whole
poetry of your words into plain prose, for she, whom in your
enthusiastic strain you styled your cherub, is simply the wife of
this noble and excellent man, whom you were free to compare with a
"You are angry with me!" exclaimed the young prince, disconsolately.
"You make no allowance for my grief, my disappointment, yea, my
confusion! You have punished me so rudely for my presumption, and
will not even permit my heart to bridle up and give utterance to its
"I did not know that you were presumptuous toward me, and could not
think, therefore, of inflicting punishment on you," said Fanny; "but
I know that you have no right to insult the man whose name I bear."
"You want to drive me to despair, then!" retorted the prince, wildly
stamping on the floor. "It is not sufficient, then, that you let me
find your husband here, you must even praise him before me! I will
tell you why I was presumptuous. I was presumptuous inasmuch as I
believed it to be a favor granted to me exclusively to enter this
room, and you have punished me for this presumption by proving to me
that this door opens to others, too, although you assured me
yesterday that the contrary was the case."
"Then you question my word?" asked Fanny.
"Oh," he said, impetuously, "you do not question what you see with
your own eyes."
"And, inasmuch as you have satisfied yourself of my duplicity with
your own eyes, as you have seen that every one is at liberty to
enter this room, and as you consequently cannot take any interest in
prolonging your stay here, I would advise you to leave immediately,"
said Fanny, gravely.
"You show me the door? You turn me out!" exclaimed the prince,
despairingly. "Oh, have mercy on me! No, do not turn away from me!
Look at me, read in my face the despair filling my soul. What, you
still avert your head? I beseech you just grant me one glance; only
tell me by the faintest smile that you will forgive me, and I will
obey your orders, I will go, even if it should be only for the
purpose of dying, not here before your eyes, but outside, on the
threshold of your door."
"Ah, as if it were so easy to die!" ejaculated Fanny, turning her
face toward the prince.
"You look at me--you have forgiven me, then!" exclaimed the young
man, and impetuously kneeling down before her, he seized her hands
and pressed them to his lips.
"Rise, sir, pray rise," said the baroness; "consider that somebody
might come in. You know now that everybody is permitted to enter
"No, no. I know that nobody is permitted to enter here!" he
exclaimed, fervently; "I know that this room is a sanctuary which no
uninitiated person ever entered; I know that this is the sacred cell
in which your virgin heart exhaled its prayers and complaints, and
which is only known to God; I know that no man's foot ever crossed
this threshold, and I remain on my knees as if before a saint, to
whom I confess my sins, and whom I implore to grant me absolution.
Will you forgive me?"
"I will," she said, smilingly, bending over him; "I will, if it were
only to induce you to rise from your knees. And as you now perceive
and regret your mistake, I will tell you the truth. It was an
accident that the baron entered this room to-day, and it was the
first time, too, since we were married. Nor did he come here, as he
said, in delicate self-derision, for the purpose of settling
accounts with me, but in order to fulfil a promise which he gave me
five years ago, and which, I confess to my shame, I had forgotten,
so that, instead of expecting my husband, I permitted you to come to
"I thank you for your kind words, which heal all the wounds of my
heart like a soothing balm," replied the prince. "Oh, now I feel
well again, and strong enough to conquer you in spite of the
resistance of the whole world."
"And do you know, then, whether you will be able to conquer me in
spite of my resistance?" asked Fanny, smiling.
"Yes!" he exclaimed, "I know it, for in true love there is a
strength that will subdue and surmount all obstacles. And I love you
truly; you know it, you are satisfied of it. You know that I love
you; every breath, every look, every tremulous note of my voice
tells you so. But you? do you love me? Oh, I implore you, at length
have mercy on me. Speak one word of pity, of sympathy I Let me read
it at least in your eyes, if your lips are too austere to utter it.
I have come to-day with the firm determination to receive at your
hands my bliss or my doom. The torment of this incertitude kills me.
Fanny, tell me, do you love me?"
Fanny did not answer at once; she stood before him, her head
lowered, a prey to conflicting emotions, but she felt the ardent
looks which were resting on her, and her heart trembled with secret
delight. She made an effort, however, to overcome her feelings, and,
raising her head, she fixed her eyes with a gentle yet mournful
expression upon the young man, who, breathless and pale with
anxiety, was waiting for her reply.
"You ask me if I love you," she said, in a low but firm voice; "you
put that question to me, and yet you are standing now on the same
spot on which my husband stood fifteen minutes ago and also asked me
a question. I must not answer your question, for I am a married
woman, and I have taken an oath at the altar to keep my faith to my
husband, and I have to keep it, inasmuch as my heart has no love to
give him. But I will, nevertheless, give you a proof of the great
confidence I am reposing in you. I will tell you why my husband came
to see me to-day, and what was the question which he addressed to
me. Hush, do not interrupt me; do not tell me that my conversations
with the baron have no interest for you. Listen to me. The baron
came to me because the five years, which we had ourselves fixed for
that purpose, had elapsed to-day, and because he wanted to ask me
whether I wished to remain his wife, or whether I wanted to be
divorced from him."
"And what did you reply?" asked the prince, breathlessly.
"I replied to him as I replied to you a little while ago: 'I have
taken an oath at the altar to keep my faith to my husband, and I
have to keep it, inasmuch as my heart has no love to give to him.'"
"Ah, you told him that you did not love him?" asked the prince,
drawing a deep breath. "And after this confession he felt that he
ought no longer to oppose your divorce, for his heart is generous
and delicate, and consequently he cannot desire to chain a wife to
himself who tells him that during the five years of her married life
she has not learned to love him. Oh, Fanny, how indescribably happy
you render me by this disclosure. Then you will be free, your hands
will not be manacled any longer."
"I did not tell you the reply I made to my husband when he left it
to me again to say whether I would be divorced from him or not,"
said Fanny, with a mournful smile. "I replied to him that every
thing should remain as heretofore; that I did not want to inflict
the disgrace of a divorce upon him and upon myself, and that we
would and ought to bear these shackles which, without mutual love,
we had imposed upon each other in a dignified, faithful, and honest
manner until our death."
"That is impossible!" exclaimed the prince. "You could not, you
ought not to have been so cruel against yourself, against the baron,
and also against me. And even though you may have uttered these
words of doom on the spur of that exciting moment, you will take
them back again after sober and mature reflection. Oh, say that you
will do so, say that you will be free; free, so that I may kneel
down before you and implore you to give to me this hand, no longer
burdened by any fetters; to become my wife, and to permit me to try
if my boundless, adoring love will succeed in conferring upon you
that happiness of which none are worthier than you. Oh, speak,
Fanny, say that you will be free, and consent to become my wife!"
"Your wife!" said Fanny, lugubriously. "You forget that what
separates me from you is not only my husband, but also my religion.
The Jewess can never become the wife of the Prince von
"You will cast off the semblance of a religion which in reality is
yours no longer," said the prince. "You have ceased to be a Jewess,
owing to your education, to your habits, and to your views of life.
Leave, then, the halls of the temple in which your God is no longer
dwelling, and enter the great church which has redeemed mankind, and
which is now to redeem you. Become a convert to the Christian
religion, which is the religion of love."
"Never!" exclaimed the baroness, firmly and decidedly--"never will I
abandon my religion and prove recreant to my faith, to which my
family and my tribe have faithfully adhered for thousands of years.
The curse of my parents and ancestors would pursue the renegade
daughter of our tribe and cling like a sinister night-bird to the
roof of the house into which the faithless daughter of Judah, the
baptized Jewess, would move in order to obtain that happiness she is
yearning for. Never--But what is that?" interrupting herself all at
once; "what is the matter in the adjoining room?"
Two voices, one of them angrily quarrelling with the other, which
replied in a deprecating manner, were heard in the adjoining room.
"I tell you the baroness is at home, and receives visitors!"
exclaimed the violent and threatening voice.
"And I assure you that the baroness is not at home, and cannot,
therefore, receive any visitors," replied the deprecating voice.
"It is Baron Weichs, the proud prebendary, who wants to play the
master here as he does everywhere else," said the prince,
"And my steward refuses to admit him, because I have given orders
that no more visitors shall be received to-day," whispered Fanny.
The face of the young prince became radiant with delight. He seized
Fanny's hands and pressed them impetuously to his lips, whispering,
"I thank you, Fanny, I thank you!"
Meantime the voice in the reception-room became more violent and
threatening, "I know that the baroness is at home," it shouted, "and
I ask you once more to announce my visit to her!"
"But you know, sir," said the gentle voice of the steward, "that the
baroness, when she is at home, is always at this hour in the
reception-room, and receives her visitors here without any previous
"That only proves that the baroness receives her visitors in another
room to-day," shouted the voice of Baron Weichs. "I know positively
that there is a visitor with the baroness at this very moment. Go,
then, and announce my visit. It remains for the baroness to turn me
away, and I shall know then that the baroness prefers to remain
alone with the gentleman who is with her at the present time."
"Ah, this prebendary, it seems, is growing impudent," exclaimed the
prince, with flashing eyes, walking toward the door.
The baroness seized his hand and kept him back. "Pay no attention to
him," she said, imploringly; "let my steward settle this quarrel
with that insolent man. Just listen! he is even now begging him
quite politely, yet decidedly, to leave the room."
"And that fellow is shameless enough to decline doing so," said the
prince. "Oh, hear his scornful laughter! This laughter is an insult,
for which he ought to be chastised."
And as if the words of the prince were to be followed immediately by
the deed, a third voice was heard now in the reception-room. It
asked in a proud and angry tone, "What is the matter here? And who
permits himself to shout so indecently in the reception-room of the
"Ah, it is my husband," whispered Fanny, with an air of great
relief. "He will show that overbearing Baron Weichs the door, and I
shall get rid of him forever."
"He has already dared, then, to importune you?" asked the prince,
turning his threatening eyes toward the door. "Oh, I will release
you from further molestation by this madman, for I tell you the
gentle words of your husband will not be able to do so. Baron Weichs
is not the man to lend a willing ear to sensible remonstrances or to
the requirements of propriety and decency. He has graduated at the
high-school of libertinism, and any resistance whatever provokes him
to a passionate struggle in which he shrinks from no manifestation
of his utter recklessness. Well, am I not right? Does he not even
dare to defy your husband? Just listen!"
"I regret not to be able to comply with your request to leave this
room," shouted now the voice of the prebendary, Baron Weichs. "You
said yourself just now, baron, that we were in the reception-room of
the baroness; accordingly, you are not the master here, but merely a
visitor like the rest of us. Consequently, you have no right to show
anybody the door, particularly as you do not even know whether you
belong to the privileged visitors of the lady, or whether the
baroness will admit you."
"I shall take no notice of the unbecoming and insulting portion of
your remarks, baron," said the calm voice of Baron Arnstein; "I only
intend at this moment to protect my wife against insult and
molestation. Now it is insulting assuredly that a cavalier, after
being told that the lady to whom he wishes to pay his respects is
either not at home or will not receive any visitors, should refuse
to withdraw, and insist upon being admitted. I hope the prebendary,
Baron Weichs, after listening to this explanation, will be kind
enough to leave the reception-room."
"I regret that I cannot fulfil this hope," said the sneering voice
of the prebendary. "I am now here with the full conviction that I
shall never be able to reenter this reception-room; hence I am
determined not to shrink back from any thing and not to be turned
away in so disgraceful a manner. I know that the baroness is at
home, and I came hither in order to satisfy myself whether the
common report is really true that the baroness, who has always
treated me with so much virtuous rigor and discouraging coldness, is
more indulgent and less inexorable toward another, and whether I
have really a more fortunate rival!"
"I hope that I am this more fortunate rival," said Baron Arnstein,
"Oh, no, sir," exclaimed the prebendary, laughing scornfully. "A
husband never is the rival of his wife's admirers. If you were with
your wife and turned me away, I should not object to it at all, and
I should wait for a better chance. But what keeps me here is the
fact that another admirer of hers is with her, that she has given
orders to admit nobody else, and that you, more kind-hearted than
myself, seem to believe that the baroness is not at home."
"This impudence surpasses belief," exclaimed the prince, in great
"Yes," said Fanny, gloomily, "the Christian prebendary gives full
vent to his disdain for the Jewish banker. It always affords a great
satisfaction to Christian love to humble the Jew and to trample him
in the dust. And the Jew is accustomed to being trampled upon in
this manner. My husband, too, gives proof of this enviable quality
of our tribe. Just listen how calm and humble his voice remains, all
the while every tone of the other is highly insulting to him!"
"He shall not insult him any longer," said the prince, ardently; "I
will--but what is that? Did he not mention my name?"
And he went closer to the door, in order to listen in breathless
"And I repeat to you, baron," said the voice of the prebendary,
sneeringly, "your wife is at home, and the young Prince von
Lichtenstein is with her. I saw him leave his palace and followed
him; half an hour ago, I saw him enter your house, and I went into
the coffee-house opposite for the purpose of making my observations.
I know, therefore, positively, that the prince has not yet left your
house. As he is not with you, he is with your wife, and this being
the usual hour for the baroness to receive morning calls, I have
just as good a right as anybody else to expect that she will admit
"And suppose I tell you that she will not admit you to-day?"
"Then I shall conclude that the baroness is in her boudoir with the
Prince von Lichtenstein, and that she does not want to be
disturbed," shouted the voice of the prebendary. "Yes, sir; in that
case I shall equally lament my fate and yours, for both of us are
deceived and deprived of sweet hopes. Both of us will have a more
fortunate rival in this petty prince--in this conceited young dandy,
who even now believes he is a perfect Adonis, and carries his
ludicrous presumption so far as to believe that he can outstrip men
of ability and merit by his miserable little title and by his boyish
"Why is it necessary for you to shout all this so loudly?" asked the
anxious voice of the baron.
"Ah, then you believe that he can hear me?" asked the voice of the
prebendary, triumphantly. "Then he is quite close to us? Well, I
will shout it louder than before: this little Prince Charles von
Lichtenstein is a conceited boy, who deserves to be chastised!"
The prince rushed toward the door, pale, with quivering lips and
sparkling eyes. But the baroness encircled his arm with her hands
and kept him back.
"You will not go," she whispered. "You will not disgrace me so as to
prove to him by your appearance that he was right, and that you were
with me while I refused to admit him."
"But do you not hear that he insults me?" asked the young prince,
trying to disengage himself from her hands.
"Why do you listen to other voices when you are with me?" she said,
reproachfully. "What do you care for the opinion of that man, whom I
abhor from the bottom of my heart, and whom people only tolerate in
their saloons because they are afraid of his anger and his
slanderous tongue? Oh, do not listen to what he says, my friend! You
are here with me, and I have yet to tell you many things. But you do
not heed my words! Your eyes are constantly fixed on the door. Oh,
sir, look at me, listen to what I have to say to you. I believe I
still owe you a reply, do I not? Well, I will now reply to the
question which you have so often put to me, and to which I have
heretofore only answered by silence!"
"Oh, not now, not now!" muttered the prince.
"Yes, I will tell you now what has been so long burning in my soul
as a sweet secret," whispered Fanny, constantly endeavoring to draw
him away from the door. "You have often asked me if I loved you, and
my heart made the reply which my lips were afraid to pronounce. But
now I will confess it to you: yes, I love you; my whole soul belongs
to you! I have secretly longed for the hour when I might at last
confess this to you, when my heart would exult in pronouncing the
sweet words, 'I love you!' Good Heaven! you hear it, and yet you
remain silent--you avert your face? Do you despise me now because I,
the married woman, confess to you that I love you? Is your silence
to tell me that you do not love me any longer?"
He knelt down before her and kissed her dress and her hands. "I love
you boundlessly," he said with panting breath; "you are to me the
quintessence of all happiness, virtue, and beauty. I shall love you
to the last hour of my life!"
"If Prince Charles von Lichtenstein should be near," shouted the
voice of the prebendary, close to the door, "if he should be able to
hear my words, I want him to hear that I pronounce him a coward, a
fool, and impostor--a coward, because he silently suffers himself to
The prince, unable to restrain his feelings any longer, rushed
forward and impetuously pushing back the baroness, who still
endeavored to detain him, he violently opened the door.
"No," he shouted, in a threatening and angry voice. "No, Prince
Charles von Lichtenstein does not allow himself to be insulted with
impunity, and he asks satisfaction for every insult offered to him!"
"Ah!" exclaimed the prebendary, turning with a wild, triumphant
laugh to Baron Arnstein, "did I not tell you that the prince was
concealed in your house?"
"Concealed!" ejaculated the prince, approaching his adversary with
eyes sparkling with rage. "Repeat that word if you dare!"
"I shall do so," said the prebendary, with defiant coolness. "You
were concealed in this house, for nobody knew of your presence,
neither the steward nor the baron. You had crept into the house like
a thief intending to steal valuables, and this, indeed, was your
intention, too; however, you did not want to purloin the diamonds of
the fair baroness, but--"
"I forbid you to mention the name of the baroness!" exclaimed the
"And I implore you not to compromise the baroness by connecting her
with your quarrel," whispered Baron Arnstein in the prince's ear;
then turning to the prebendary, whose eyes were fixed on the prince
with a threatening and defiant expression, he said:
"You are mistaken, sir; Prince Charles von Lichtenstein did not come
here in a stealthy manner. He wished to pay a visit to the baroness,
and the latter, as you know, being absent from home, the prince did
me the honor to converse with me in that room, when we were
interrupted all at once by the noise which you were pleased to make
in the reception-room here."
"And being in that room, you were pleased to enter the reception-
room through THIS door," said the prebendary, sneeringly, pointing
to the two opposite doors." But why did not the prince accompany
you? It would have been so natural for one friend of the baroness to
greet the other!"
"I did not come because I heard that YOU were there," said the
prince, disdainfully, "and because I am in the habit of avoiding any
contact with your person."
"Ah, you are jealous of me, then?" asked the prebendary. "Why is my
person so distasteful to you that you should always escape from me?"
"I escape from no one, not even from venomous serpents, nor from an
individual like you," said the prince, haughtily. "I avoided you,
however, because I dislike your nose. Do you hear, my impertinent
little prebendary? I dislike your nose, and I demand that you never
let me see it again!"
"Ah, I understand," replied the prebendary, laughing. "In order to
spare the feelings of the fair baroness, and not to injure her
reputation. Pardon me, for, in spite of your prohibition, I am
constantly compelled to defer to this amiable lady. You wish to give
another direction to our quarrel, and my innocent nose is to be the
BETE DE SOUFFRANCE. But you shall not entrap me in this manner,
prince; and you, my dear Baron Arnstein, can you allow us to
continue the quarrel which we commenced about your lady, now about
my nose, and to conceal, as it were, the fair Baroness Arnstein
"Baroness Arnstein has no reason whatever to conceal herself," said
the baron, coldly and proudly. "As she was not the cause of this
quarrel, I do not know why you are constantly dragging her name into
it. You behaved here in so unbecoming a manner, that I had to come
to the assistance of my steward. You were then pleased to utter
insults against the Prince von Lichtenstein in his absence, and
being in the adjoining room and overhearing your offensive remarks,
he came to call you to account for them."
"And to tell you that I dislike your nose, and that I must take the
liberty to amputate its impertinent tip with my sword," exclaimed
the prince, pulling the prebendary's nose.
It was now the prebendary's turn to grow pale, while his eyes
flashed with anger. "You dare to insult me?" he asked menacingly.
"Yes, I confess that is exactly my intention!" replied the prince,
"Ah, you will have to give me satisfaction for this insult!" shouted
"With the greatest pleasure," said the prince. "This is not the
place, however, to continue this conversation. Come, sir, let us
leave this house together in order to make the necessary
At this moment the folding-doors of the anteroom were opened, and
the voice of the steward shouted: "The baroness!"
An exclamation of surprise escaped from the lips of the three
gentlemen, and their eyes turned toward the door, the threshold of
which Fanny Arnstein was crossing at that moment. She seemed just to
have returned home; her tall form was still wrapped in a long
Turkish shawl, embroidered with gold; a charming little bonnet,
adorned with flowers and plumes, covered her head, and in her hand
she held one of those large costly fans, adorned with precious
stones, which were in use at that time in the place of parasols. She
greeted the gentlemen with a winning smile; not the slightest tinge
of care or uneasiness was visible in her merry face; not the
faintest glimmer of a tear darkened the lustre of her large black
"Gentlemen will please accept my apology for making them wait,
although this is the hour when I am in the habit of receiving
visitors," said the baroness, in a perfectly careless manner. "But I
hope my husband has taken my place in the mean time and told you
that I had to preside over a meeting of our Hebrew Benevolent
Society, and you will acknowledge that that was a duty which I ought
not to have failed to fulfil. Ah, you smile, Baron Weichs; you must
explain to me what is the meaning of this smile, if you wish to
intimate thereby, perhaps, that there are no important duties at all
for us ladies to perform. Come, gentlemen, let us sit down and hear
in what manner Baron Weichs will he able to defend his smile. Sit
down here on my right side, prince, and you, Baron Weichs, on my
left, and my husband may take a seat opposite us and play the role
of an arbiter."
"I regret that I cannot comply any longer with your amiable
invitation," said the prebendary, gloomily. "You have made me wait
too long, baroness; my time has now expired, and I must withdraw. I
suppose you will accompany me, Prince Lichtenstein?"
"Yes, I shall accompany you," said the prince, "for unfortunately my
time has also expired, and I must go."
"Oh, no," exclaimed the baroness, smiling, "you must stay here,
prince. I dare not prevent the prebendary from attending to his
important affairs, but you, prince, have no such pretext for leaving
me; I therefore order you to remain and to tell me all about
yesterday's concert at the imperial palace."
"I regret exceedingly that I am unable to obey your orders," said
the prince, mournfully. "But I must go. You just said, dear lady,
that an important duty had kept you away from home; well, it is an
important duty that calls me away from here; hence I cannot stay.
Farewell, and permit me to kiss your hand before leaving you."
She gave him her hand, which was as cold as ice and trembled
violently when he took it. He pressed his glowing lips upon this
hand and looked up to her. Their eyes met in a last, tender glance;
the prince then rose and turned toward the prebendary, who was
conversing with Baron Arnstein in a low and excited tone.
"Come, sir, let us go," he said, impetuously, and walked toward the
"Yes, let us go, "repeated the prebendary, and bowing profoundly to
the baroness, he turned around and followed the prince.
Fanny, who was evidently a prey to the most excruciating anguish,
followed them with her distended, terrified eyes. When the door
closed behind them, she hastily laid her hand on her husband's
shoulder, and looked at him with an air of unutterable terror.
"They will fight a duel?" she asked.
"I am afraid so," said the baron, gloomily.
The baroness uttered a shriek, and after tottering back a few steps,
she fell senseless to the floor. Early on the following morning,
four men with grave faces and gloomy eyes stood in the thicket of a
forest not far from Vienna.
Two of them were just about divesting themselves of their heavy
coats, embroidered with gold, in order to meet in mortal combat,
their bare breasts only protected by their fine cambric shirts.
These two men were Prince Charles von Lichtenstein and the
prebendary, Baron Weichs.
The other two gentlemen were engaged in loading the pistols and
counting off the steps; they were Baron Arnstein and Count Palfy,
the seconds of the two duellists. When they had performed this
mournful task, they approached the two adversaries in order to make
a last effort to bring about a reconciliation.
"I implore you in my own name," whispered Baron Arnstein in the ear
of the Prince von Lichtenstein--"I implore you in the name of my
wife, if a reconciliation should be possible, accept it, and avoid
by all means so deplorable an event. Remember that the honor of a
lady is compromised so easily and irretrievably, and that my wife
would never forgive herself if she should become, perhaps, the
innocent cause of your death."
"Nobody will find out that we fight a duel for her sake," said the
prince. "My honor requires me to give that impertinent fellow a
well-deserved lesson, and he shall have it!"
Count Palfy, the prebendary's second, approached them. "If your
highness should be willing to ask Baron Weichs to excuse your
conduct on yesterday, the baron would be ready to accept your
apology and to withdraw his challenge."
"I have no apology to offer," exclaimed the prince, loudly, "and I
am unwilling to prevent the duel from taking its course. I told the
prebendary that I disliked his nose, and that I wished to amputate
its impertinent tip. Well, I am now here to perform this operation,
and if you please, let us at once proceed to business."
"Yes, let us do so," shouted the prebendary. "Give us the pistols,
gentlemen, and then the signal. When you clap for the third time, we
shall shoot simultaneously. Pray for your poor soul, Prince von
Lichtenstein, for I am a dead shot at one hundred yards, and our
distance will only be twenty paces."
The prince made no reply, but took the pistol which his second
handed to him. "If I should fall," he whispered to him, "take my
last greetings to your wife, and tell her that I died with her name
on my lips!"
"If I should fall," said the prebendary to his second, in an
undertone, but loud enough for his opponent to hear every word he
said, "tell the dear city of Vienna and my friends that I have
fought a duel with Prince Lichtenstein because he was my rival with
the beautiful Baroness Arnstein, and that I have died with the
conviction that he was the lover of the fair lady."
A pause ensued. The seconds conducted the two gentlemen to their
designated places and then stood back, in order to give the fatal
When they clapped for the first time, the two duellists raised the
hand with the pistol, fixing their angry and threatening eyes on