Full Text Archive logoFull Text Archive — Free Classic E-books

Old Fritz and the New Era by Louise Muhlbach

Part 1 out of 8

Adobe PDF icon
Download this document as a .pdf
File size: 0.9 MB
What's this? light bulb idea Many people prefer to read off-line or to print out text and read from the real printed page. Others want to carry documents around with them on their mobile phones and read while they are on the move. We have created .pdf files of all out documents to accommodate all these groups of people. We recommend that you download .pdfs onto your mobile phone when it is connected to a WiFi connection for reading off-line.

This etext was produced by Charles Franks and the Online Distributed
Proofreading Team






I. The Lonely King

II. Wilhelmine Enke

III. Frederick William

IV. The Drive to Berlin

V. The Oath of Fidelity

VI. The Parade

VII. The Miraculous Elixir

VIII. The Golden Rain

IX. German Literature and the King



X. Goethe in Berlin

XI. The Inner and the Middle Temple

XII. The Jesuit General

XIII. A Pensioned General

XIV. The King's Letter

XV. Hate and Love

XVI. Charles Augustus and Goethe

XVII. Goethe's Visits

XVIII. Farewell to Berlin



XIX. The King and the Austrian Diplomat

XX. The King and the Lover

XXI. In Weimar

XXII. The Reading

XXIII. Witchcraft

XXIV. The Purse-Proud Man

XXV. The Elopement

XXVI. Under the Starry Heavens

XXVII. The Sacrifice



XXVIII. Old Fritz

XXIX. Cagliostro's Return

XXX. The Triumvirate

XXXI. Future Plans

XXXII. Miracles and Spirits

XXXIII. The Return Home

XXXIV. Behind the Mask

XXXV. The Curse

XXXVI. The King and the Rosicrucians

XXXVII. The Espousals

XXXVIII. Revenge Fulfilled


I would merely say a few words in justification of the Historical
Romance, in its relation to history. Any one, with no preceding
profound study of history, who takes a few well-known historical
facts as a foundation for an airy castle of romantic invention and
fantastic adventure, may easily write an Historical Romance; for him
history is only the nude manikin which he clothes and adorns
according to his own taste, and to which he gives the place and
position most agreeable to himself. But only the writer who is in
earnest with respect to historical truth, who is not impelled by
levity or conceited presumption, is justified in attempting this
species of composition; thoroughly impressed with the greatness of
his undertaking, he will with modest humility constantly remember
that he has proposed to himself a great and sublime work which,
however, it will be difficult if not impossible for him wholly and
completely to accomplish.

But what is this great, this sublime end, which the Historical
Romance writer proposes to attain? It is this: to illustrate
history, to popularize it; to bring forth from the silent studio of
the scholar and to expose in the public market of life, for the
common good, the great men and great deeds embalmed in history, and
of which only the studious have hitherto enjoyed the monopoly. Thus,
at least, have I considered the vocation I have chosen, not vainly
or inconsiderately, but with a profound conviction of the greatness
of my undertaking, and with a depressing consciousness that my power
and acquirements may prove inadequate for the attainment of my
proposed end.

But I am also fully conscious of what was and still is my greatest
desire: to give an agreeable and popular form to our national
history, which may attract the attention and affections of our
people, which may open their understandings to the tendencies of
political movements, and connect the facts of history with the
events of actual life.

The severe historian has to do but with accomplished facts; he can
only record and describe, with the strictest regard to truth, that
which has outwardly occurred. He describes the battles of peoples,
the struggles of nations, the great deeds of heroes, the actions of
princes--in short, he gives the accomplished facts. To investigate
and explain the secret motives, the hidden causes of these facts, to
present them in connection with all that impelled to them, this is
the task of Historical Romance.

The historian presents to you the outward face, the external form of
history; Historical Romance would show you the heart of history, and
thus bring near to your heart what, else, would stand so far off. To
enable him to do this, the writer of an Historical Romance must,
indeed, make severe and various studies. He must devote his whole
mind and soul to the epoch he would illustrate, he must live in it
and feel with it. He must so familiarize himself with all the
details, as in a manner to become a child of that epoch; for he can
present a really living image of only that which is living in
himself. That this requires a deep and earnest study of history is
self-evident. Historical Romance demands the study of the historian,
together with the creative imagination of the poet. For the free
embodiment of the poet can blossom only from out the studio of the
historian, as the flower from the seed; as, by a reciprocal organic
action, the hyacinth is derived from the onion, and the rose from
its seed-capsule, so are history and poetry combined in the
Historical Romance, giving and receiving life to and from each

The Historical Romance has its great task and its great
justification--a truth disputed by only those who either have not
understood or will not understand its nature.

The Historical Romance has, if I may be allowed so to speak, four
several objects for which to strive:

Its first object is, to throw light upon the dark places of history,
necessarily left unclear by the historian. Poetry has the right and
duty of setting facts in a clear light, and of illuminating the
darkness by its sunny beams. The poetry of the romance writer seeks
to deduce historical characteristics from historical facts, and to
draw from the spirit of history an elucidation of historical
characters, so that the writer may be able to detect their inmost
thoughts and feelings, and in just and sharp traits to communicate
them to others.

The second task of Historical Romance is, to group historical
characters according to their internal natures, and thus to
elucidate and illustrate history. This illustration then leads to
the third task, which is the discovery and exposition of the motives
which impel individual historical personages to the performance of
great historical acts, and from outwardly, apparently insignificant
events in their lives to deduce their inmost thoughts and natures,
and represent them clearly to others.

Thence follows the fourth task: the illustration of historical facts
by a romance constructed in the spirit of the history. This fourth
and principal task is the presentation of history in a dramatic form
and with animated descriptions; upon the foundation of history to
erect the temple of poesy, which must nevertheless be pervaded and
illuminated by historic truth. From this it naturally follows that
it is of very little consequence whether the personages of the
Historical Romance actually spoke the words or performed the acts
attributed to them; it is only necessary that those words and deeds
should be in accordance with the spirit and character of such
historical personages, and that the writer should not attribute to
them what they could not have spoken or done. In the Historical
Romance, when circumstances or events are presented in accordance
with historical tradition, when the characters are naturally
described, they bear with them their own justification, and
Historical Romance has need of no further defence.

Historical Romance should be nothing but an illustration of history.
If the drawing, grouping, coloring, and style of such an
illustration of any given historical epoch are admitted to be true,
then the illustration rises to the elevation of a work of art,
worthy of a place beside the historical picture, and is equally

Raphael's "School of Athens," his "Institution of the Communion,"
and many others of his pictures, are such illustrations of history--
as also the great paintings of Rubens from the life of Anna dei
Medici; and then the historical pictures of Horace Vernet, of
Delaroche, of Lessing, and of Kaulbach--all these are illustrations
of history. What those artists present and illustrate with paint and
pencil, the Historical Romancer represents in words with his pen;
and when he does this successfully, he will live in the memory of
his reader as imperishably as the great historical pictures of the
painters in the memory of their beholders.

It would occur to no one to accuse a successful historical picture
of falsehood, because the books of history do not show that the
occurrence took place precisely in the manner represented, that the
historical personages really so laughed or wept, or so deported
themselves. If the situation and grouping of historical events are
allowed to be in accordance with the general tenor of history, then
the picture may be pronounced historically true, and is just as good
a piece of history as the record of the special historian. It is the
same with the pictures of the romancer as with those of the painter;
and this is my answer to those who, on every occasion, are
continually asking: "Was it really thus? Did it really occur in that

Show me from history that it could not be so; that it is not in
accordance with the character of the persons represented--then I
will confess that I am wrong, and you are right; then have I not
presented an illustration, but only a caricature of history, faulty
as a work of art, and wanting the dignity of truth.

I am conscious of having earnestly and devotedly striven for the
truth, and of having diligently sought it in all attainable
historical works. The author of an Historical Romance has before him
a difficult task: while he must falsify nothing in history, he must
poetize it in a manner that both historical and poetic truth shall
be the result. To those, however, who so very severely judge
Historical Romance, and would deny its historical worth, I now, in
conclusion, answer with the following significant quotation from

"I shall always prove a bad resource for any future historian who
may have the misfortune to recur to me. History is generally only a
magazine for my fantasy, and objects must be contented with whatever
they may become under my hand."--(See Weisnar's "Musenhof," p. 93.)

This declaration of Schiller satisfies me with respect to the nature
of my own creations. I desire not to be a resource for historical
writers, but I shall always earnestly and zealously seek to draw
from the wells of history, that nothing false or unreal may find a
place in the "magazine of my fantasy."



BERLIN, September 22, 1866.






"Well, so let it be!" said the king, sighing, as he rose from his
arm-chair; "I must go forth to the strife, and these old limbs must
again submit to the fatigue of war. But what matters it? The life of
princes is passed in the fulfilment of duties and responsibilities,
and rarely is it gladdened with the sunny rays of joy and peace! Let
us submit!

"Yes, let us submit!" repeated the king, thoughtfully, slowly pacing
his cabinet back and forth, his hands folded upon his staff behind
him, and his favorite dog, Alkmene, sleepily following him.

It was a melancholy picture to see this bowed-down old man; his
thin, pale face shaded by a worn-out, three-cornered hat, his dirty
uniform strewn with snuff; and his meagre legs encased in high-
topped, unpolished boots; his only companion a greyhound, old and
joyless as his master. Neither the bust of Voltaire, with its
beaming, intelligent face, nor those of his friends, Lord-Marshal
Keith and the Marquis d'Argens, could win an affectionate glance
from the lonely old king. He whom Europe distinguished as the Great
Frederick, whom his subjects called their "father and benefactor,"
whose name was worthy to shine among the brightest stars of heaven,
his pale, thin lips just murmured, "Resignation!"

With downcast eyes he paced his cabinet, murmuring, "Let us submit!"
He would not look up to those who were gazing down upon him from the
walls--to those who were no more. The remembrance of them unnerved
him, and filled his heart with grief. The experiences of life, and
the ingratitude of men, had left many a scar upon this royal heart,
but had never hardened it; it was still overflowing with tender
sympathy and cherished memories. To Lord-Marshal Keith, Marquis
d'Argens, and Voltaire, Frederick owed the happiest years of his

D'Argens, who passionately loved Frederick, had been dead five
years; Lord-Marshal Keith one month; and Voltaire was dying! This
intelligence the king had received that very morning, from his Paris
correspondent, Grimm. It was this that filled his heart with
mourning. The face, that smiled so full of intelligence, was perhaps
distorted with agony, and those beaming eyes were now closing in

Voltaire was dying!

Frederick's thoughts were with the dead and dying--with the past! He
recalled, when crown prince at Rheinsberg, how much he had admired,
loved, and distinguished Voltaire; how he rejoiced, and how honored
he felt, when, as a young king, Voltaire yielded to his request to
live with him at Berlin. This intimacy, it is true, did not long
continue; the king was forced to recognize, with bitter regret, that
the MAN Voltaire was not worthy the love which he bestowed upon the
POET. He renounced the MAN, but the poet was still his admiration;
and all the perfidy, slander and malice of Voltaire, had never
changed Frederick. The remembrance of it had long since faded from
his noble heart--only the memory of the poet, of the author of so
many hours of the purest enjoyment, remained.

Voltaire was dying!

This great and powerful spirit, who so long a time, in the natural
body, had instructed, inspired, and refreshed mankind, would leave
that body to rise--whither?

"Immortality, what art thou?" asked the king, aloud, and for the
first time raising his eyes with an inquiring glance to the busts of
his friends. "I have sought for thee, I have toiled for thee, my
whole life long! Neither the researches of the learned, nor the
subtleties of philosophy reveal thee to me. Is there any other
immortality than fame? Any other eternal life than that which the
memory of succeeding generations grants to the dead?" In this tone
of thought Frederick recited, audibly, the conclusion of a poem,
which he had addressed to D'Alembert:

"I have consecrated my days to philosophy, I admit all the innocent
pleasures of life; And knowing that soon my course will finish, I
enjoy the present with fear of the future. What is there to fear
after death? If the body and the mind suffer the same fate, I shall
return and mingle with nature; If a remnant of my intellectual fire
escapes death, I will flee to the arms of my God." [Footnote:
Posthumous works, vol. vii., p.88.]

"And may this soon be granted me!" continued the king; "then I shall
be reunited to those loved ones--gone before. I must be content to
tarry awhile in this earthly vale of sorrow, and finish the task
assigned me by the Great Teacher; therefore, let us submit."

He sighed; pacing to and fro, his steps were arrested at a side-
table, where lay a long black velvet box; it contained the flute
that his beloved teacher, Quantz, had made for him. Frederick had
always kept it in his cabinet as a memento of his lost friend; as
this room he had devoted to a temple of Memory--of the past!

"Another of the joys, another of the stars of my life vanished!"
murmured the king. "My charming concerts are at an end! Quantz,
Brenda, and my glorious Graun are no more. While they are listening
to the heavenly choir, I must be content with the miserable, idle
chatter of men; the thunder of battle deafening my ears, to which
that mad, ambitious Emperor of Austria hopes to force me!"

As the king thus soliloquized, he involuntarily drew from the box
the beautiful ebony flute, exquisitely ornamented with silver. A
smile played around his delicate mouth. He raised the flute to his
lips, and a melancholy strain floated through the stillness--the
king's requiem to the dead, his farewell to the dying!

No sound of the outer world penetrated that lonely room. The guard
of honor, on duty upon the Sans-Souci terrace, halted suddenly, as
the sad music fell upon his ear. The fresh spring breeze swept
through the trees, and drove the laden-blossomed elder-bushes
tapping against the windowpanes, as if to offer a May-greeting to
the lonely king. The servant in waiting stole on tiptoe to the door
of the anteroom, listening breathlessly at the key-hole to the
moving melody.

Even Alkmene suddenly raised her head as if something unusual were
taking place, fixed her great eyes upon her master, jumping upon his
knee, and resting her fore-paws lovingly upon his breast.

Frederick neither observed nor felt the movement of his favorite;
his thoughts were absent from the present--absent from the earth!
They were wandering in the unknown future, with the spirits of those
he longed to see again in the Elysian fields.

The wailing music of his flute expressed the lamentation of his
soul, and his eyes filled with tears as he raised them to the bust
of Voltaire, gazing at it with a look of pain until the melody was
finished. Then abruptly turning, half unwillingly, half angrily, he
returned the flute to the box, and stole away, covering his face
with his hands, as if to hide his emotion from himself.

"Now we have finished with the dead, and the living claim our
thoughts," sighed the king. "What an absurd thing is the human
heart! It will never grow cold or old; always pretending to a spark
of the fire which that shameful fellow Prometheus stole from the
gods. What an absurdity! What have I, an old fellow, to do with the
fire of Prometheus, when the fire of war will soon rage around me,"
At this instant the door gently opened. "What do you want, Muller?
What do you poke your stupid face in here for?" said the king.

"Pardon me, your majesty," replied the footman, "the Baron von Arnim
begs for an audience."

"Bid him enter," commanded the king, sinking back in his old, faded
velvet arm-chair. Resting his chin upon his staff, he signed to the
baron, who stood bowing upon the threshold, to approach. "Well,
Arnim, what is the matter? What papers have you there?"

"Sire," answered Baron von Arnim, "the contract of the French
actors, which needs renewing, I have to lay before your majesty;
also a paper, received yesterday, from Madame Mara; still another
from the singer Conciliani, and a petition from four persons from
the opera."

"What stupid stuff!" growled the king, at the same time bestowing a
caress upon Alkmene. "Commence with your report. Let us hear what
those singers are now asking for."

"The singer Conciliani has addressed a heart-breaking letter to your
majesty, and prays for an increase of salary--that it is impossible
for him to live upon three thousand dollars."

"Ah! that is what is wanted?" cried the king, furious, and striking
his staff upon the floor. "The fellow is mad; When he cannot live
upon three thousand, he will not be able to live upon four. I want
money for cannon. I cannot spend it for such nonsense. I am
surprised, Von Arnim that you repeat such stuff to me."

"Your majesty, it is my duty that I--"

"What! Your duty is not to flatter them. I pay them to give me
pleasure, not presumption. Remember, once for all, do not flatter
them. Conciliani will get no increase of salary. If he persists, let
him go to the mischief! This is my decision.--Proceed! What is
Madame Mara begging for?"

"Madame Mara constantly refuses to sing the airs which your majesty
commanded to be introduced into the opera of 'Coriolanus.' She has
taken the liberty to address you in writing; here is the letter, if
your majesty will have the grace to read it."

"By no means, sir, by no means!" cried the king; at the same instant
catching the paper with his staff, he slung it like a shot arrow to
the farthest corner of the room, to the great amusement of Alkmene,
who, with a loud bark, sprang from her master's knee, and with a
bound caught the strange bird, and tore it in pieces. "You are
right, my pet," said the king, laughing, "you have written my answer
with your nose to this arrogant person. Director, say to Madame Mara
that I pay her to sing, not to write. She must sing both airs, or
she may find herself at Spandau for her obstinacy, where her husband
is, for the same reason. She can reflect, and judge for herself."

The director could scarcely repress a sigh, foreboding the
disagreeable scene that he would have to encounter with the proud
and passionate singer. Timidly Von Arnim alluded to the four persons
from the opera. "Who are these demoiselles, and what do they want?"
asked the king.

"Sire," replied the Baron von Arnim, "they are the four persons who
personate the role of court ladies and maids of honor to the queens
and princesses. They beg your majesty to secure to them a fixed

"Indeed! Go to my writing-table and bring paper and pencil; I will
dictate a reply to them," said the king. "Now write, Von Arnim: 'To
the four court ladies and maids of honor of the opera: You are
mistaken in addressing yourselves to me; the affair of your salaries
concerns YOUR emperors and kings. To them you must address

Von Arnim could scarcely repress a smile.

"Now we come to the last affair--the salaries and pensions of the
French actors," said the king; "but first tell me the news in
Berlin--what report has trumpeted forth in the last few days."

"Your majesty, the latest news in Berlin, which rumor brings home to
every hearth-side and every heart is, that your majesty has declared
war with Austria on account of the Bavarian succession. Every one
rejoices, sire, that you will humble that proud and supercilious
house of Austria, and enter the lists for Germany."

"Listen!" answered the king, sternly. "I did not ask you to blow the
trumpet of praise, as if your honor, inspector of the theatres,
thought yourself upon the stage, and would commence a comedy with
the king of lamps. So it is known then that my soldiers will enter
the great theatre of war, and that we are about to fight real

"It is known, sire," replied Von Arnim, bowing.

"Then what I am about to communicate to you will not surprise you.
The present juncture of affairs leads us to await very grave scenes-
-we can well dispense with comedy. I withdraw the salaries and
pensions of the French actors--your own is included. After you have
dismissed the French comedians, you will be entirely at leisure to
pursue your love-intrigues.--Farewell!"

"Your majesty," cried the baron, amazed, "has your highness
dismissed me?"

"Are you deaf, or have you some of the cotton in your ears which I
presented to you at your recall from Copenhagen?" replied the king.
[Footnote: Baron von Arnim was ambassador to Copenhagen until 1754,
when he begged for his recall, stating that the damp climate was
injurious to his health. The king granted his request, and the baron
returned to Berlin. At the first audience with the king, Frederick
handed Baron von Arnim a carefully-packed box, saying, "I do not
wish the government to lose so valuable a servant; in this box you
will find something that will keep you warm." Arnim could scarcely
await his return home, to open the box; it contained nothing but
cotton. Some days afterward, however, the king increased Von Arnim's
income a thousand dollars, and sent him ambassador to Dresden. Von
Arnim was afterward director of the Royal Theatre until dismissed in
the above manner.]

"Sire, I have heard all, but I cannot believe it."

"Yes, yes," interrupted the king, "To believe is difficult; you, I
presume, never belonged to the pious and believing. Your intrigues
would not admit of it; but now you have the leisure to pursue them
with a right good-will. You have only to discharge, as I have said,
the entire French troupe, and the whole thing is done with.--Adieu,
Arnim, may you be prospered!"

Baron von Arnim muttered some incomprehensible words, and retreated
from the royal presence. The door had scarcely closed, when it was
again opened without ceremony by a young man, wearing a gold-laced

"Your majesty," said he, hastily, in an undertone, "your majesty,
she has just gone to the Palace Park, just the same hour she went

"Is she alone?" asked the king, rising.

"No, she is not alone; at a little distance the nurse follows with
the princely infant!"

The king cast an angry glance at the saucy, laughing face of the
young man, who at once assumed a devoted, earnest mien. "Has your
majesty any further commands?" asked he, timidly.

"I command you to hold your tongue until you are spoken to!" replied
the king, harshly. "You understand spying and hanging about, as you
have good ears, a quick eye, and a keen scent. I therefore make use
of you, because I need a spy; but, understand that a fellow who
allows himself to be used as a spy, is, indeed, a useful subject,
but generally a worthless one, and to whom it is becoming to be
modest and humble. I am now going to Berlin; you will accompany me.
Take off your finery, so that every one may not recognize at once
the peacock by his feathers. Go to the taverns and listen to what
they say about the war; whether the people are much dissatisfied
about it. Keep your great ears wide open, and bring me this evening
all the latest news. Go, now, tell my coachman to be ready; in half
an hour I shall set off."

The young man slunk away to the door, but stood without opening it,
his head down, and his under-lip hanging out.

"What is the matter?" asked the king, in a milder tone, "why do you
not go, Kretzschmar?"

"I cannot go away if your majesty is angry with me," muttered the
servant, insolently. "I do not wish to hear or see any thing more
for you when your majesty abuses me, and considers me such a mean,
base fellow. Your majesty first commanded me to listen, and spy, and
now that I am obeying, I am despised and scolded for it. I will have
nothing more to do with it, and I wish your majesty to leave me a
simple footman rather than to accord me such a mean position."

"I did not mean so badly," said the king. "I mean well enough for
you; but you must not permit yourself to be arrogant or
disrespectful, otherwise you may go to Tophet! You are no common
spy, you are listening about a little because you know I am fond of
hearing what the people are saying, and what is going on in Berlin
and Potsdam. But take care that they know nothing about it,
otherwise they will be careful, and you will hear nothing. Now be
off, and in order to see a cheerful face on you, I will make you a
present." The king drew from his vest-pocket a purse, well filled
with small coin, and gave it to the young man, who took it, though
he still looked angry and insolent. "Do not let your under-lip hang
down so, for I may step upon it," said the king. "Put the money in
your pocket, and hurry off to tell old Pfund to harness quickly, or
I shall not arrive in time at the park."

"There is no danger, your majesty, for the miss seems very fond of
the promenade; she remained two hours in the park yesterday, always
walking in the most quiet places, as if she were afraid to meet any
one. She sat a whole hour on the iron seat by the Carp Pond, and
then she went to the Philosopher's Walk, and skipped about like a
young colt."

"You are a very cunning fellow, and know how to use your eyes well,"
said the king. "Now be off, and order the carriage."



The Palace Park was as quiet and deserted as usual. Not a voice, not
a sound, disturbed the stillness of those silent walks. For this
reason, undoubtedly, a young lady had sought it; at least her whole
being expressed satisfaction and delight to wander unobserved
through those quiet, shady alleys. She was of slight and elegant
proportions, simply attired, without pretension, in a dark dress of
some thin silk material. Her black silk mantle was thrown aside upon
the stone seat near her, uncovering thus, in solitude, to the sun
and birds, her lovely neck and arms, the beauty of which might rival
the statues of the ancients. Her face was not of regular beauty, yet
it possessed that expression of grace, spirit, and energy, which is
oftener a more powerful and more enduring charm than regular beauty.
Her large, expressive black eyes possessed a wonderful power, and
her red, pouting lips wore a sweet smile; her fine Roman nose lent
an air of decision, whilst her high-arched forehead led one to
believe that daring, energetic thought lay hidden beneath those
clusters of brown curls. She was not in the bloom of youth, but at
twenty-five she appeared younger than many beauties at eighteen; and
if her form no longer possessed the charm of girlhood, it was
attractive from its suppleness and full, beautiful bust.

"Louisa, Louisa, where are you?" cried the young lady, stepping
quickly forward toward a side-path, which led from the broad avenue,
and at the end of which was a sunny grassplot.

"Here I am, miss; I am coming."

"Miss," murmured the young lady, "how dreadfully it sounds! The
blush of shame rises to my face, for it sounds like bitter mockery
and contempt, and brings my whole life before me. Yet, I must endure
it--and I scarcely wish it were otherwise. Ah, there you are,
Louisa, and there is my beautiful boy," she cried, with a glad
voice, hastening toward the peasant-woman and bending fondly over
her child. "How beautiful and how knowing he looks! It seems as if
my little Alexander began to recognize me--he looks so earnest and

"He knows you, miss," said the nurse, courtesying, "and he knows,
like other children, who loves him. Children and dogs know who love
them. The children cry, and the dogs hide themselves when people are
around who dislike them."

"Nonsense, Louisa!" laughed the young lady, as she bent to kiss her
child--"nonsense! did not my little boy cry when his father took him
yesterday? And he loves his child most tenderly, as only a father

"Oh, there is another reason for that," said the nurse. "He has just
passed his first stupid three months, and he begins to hear and see
what passes around him, and it was the first man's face that he had
seen. But only look, miss, what a beautiful little dog is coming up
the path." It was indeed a lovely greyhound, of the small Italian
race, which came bounding joyfully toward them, and as he saw the
woman barked loudly.

"Be quiet, Alkmene, be quiet!" cried a loud, commanding voice.

"Oh, Heaven! it is the king!" whispered the young lady, turning
pale, and, as if stunned, retreated a few steps.

"Yes, it is really the king," cried the nurse, "and he is coming
directly from the grass-plot here."

"Let us go as quickly as possible, Louisa. Come, come," and she
hastily threw her mantle around her, drawing the hood over her curly
head. She had only proceeded a few steps, when a loud voice bade her
to remain--to stand still. She stood as if rooted to the spot,
leaning upon her nurse for support; her knees sank under her, and it
seemed as if the whole world turned around with her. After the first
tumult of anxiety and fear, succeeded an insolent determination,
and, forcing herself to calmness, she said: "It is the turning-point
of my life; the next few minutes will either crush me or assure my
future; let me struggle for the future, then. I will face him who
approaches me as my judge." Forcing herself to composure, slowly and
with effort she turned toward the king, who, approaching by the side
path, had entered the avenue, and now stood before her. But as she
encountered the fiery glance of the king's eye, she quailed before
it, casting down her own, covered with confusion.

"Who are you?" demanded the king, with stern authority, keeping his
eagle eye fixed upon her. Silent and immovable she stood; only the
quick, feverish breathing and the heaving bosom told the storm that
was raging within.

"Who are you?" repeated the voice, with still more severity--"who
permit themselves to use my park as a nursery? What child is that?
and who are its parents? They should be of high position at court,
who would dare to send their child and nurse to the royal park; and
with what joy they must regard the offspring of their conjugal
tenderness! Tell me to whom does this child belong?"

Sobbing convulsively, the lady sank, kneeling, with uplifted arms,
imploring for mercy. "Sire, annihilate me with your anger, but do
not crush me with your scorn!"

"What language do you permit yourself to hold?" asked the king.

"Sire, it is the language of an unhappy, despairing woman, who knows
that she stands before that great monarch whose judgment she fears
more than that of her God, who sees into her heart, and reads the
tortures and reproaches of her conscience; who knows what she
suffers, and knows, also, that she is free from self-interest, and
every base desire. I believe that God will forgive what I fear your
majesty will not."

"You speak presumptuously, and remind me of the theatre princesses
who represent a grand scene with a pathetic exit. Let me inform you,
I despise comedians--only high tragedy pleases me. Spare yourself
the trouble to act before me, but answer me--who are you? Whose
child is that?"

"Sire, only God and my king should hear my reply--I beg the favor to
send away the nurse and child." The king assented, slightly nodding
his head, at the same time bidding her not to kneel to him as to an

The lady rose and sought the nurse, who, from fright, had withdrawn
into the shrubbery, and stood staring at the king with wide-open
eyes. "Go home, Louisa, and put the child to sleep," said she,

The nurse obeyed promptly, and when alone, the king demanded again,
"Who are you? and to whom does the child belong?"

"Your majesty, I am the daughter of your chapel musician Enke, and
the child is the son of Prince Frederick William of Prussia," she
replied, in a firm and defiant manner.

The king's eyes flashed as he glanced at the bold speaker. "You say
so, but who vouches for the truth of it? You permit yourself to use
a high name, to give your child an honorable father! What temerity!
what presumption! What if I should not believe you, but send you to
the house of correction, at Spandau, as a slanderer, as guilty of
high-treason, as a sinner and an adulteress?"

"You could not do it, sire--you could not," cried Wilhelmine Enke,
"for you would also send there the honor and the name of your
successor to the throne."

"What do you mean?" cried the king, furiously.

"I mean, your majesty, that the prince has holy duties toward me. I
am the mother of that child!"

"You acknowledge your shame, and you dare confess it to me, your
king, that you are the favorite, the kept mistress of the Prince of
Prussia, who has already a wife that has borne him children? You do
not even seek to deny it, or to excuse yourself?"

"I would try to excuse myself, did I not feel that your majesty
would not listen to me."

"What excuse could you offer?--there is none."

"Love is my excuse," cried Wilhelmine, eagerly. "Oh! my ruler and
king, do not shake your noble head so unbelievingly; do not look at
me so contemptuously. Oh, Father in heaven, I implore Thee to
quicken my mind, that my thoughts may become words, and my lips
utter that which is burning in my soul! In all these years of my
poor, despised, obscure life, how often have I longed for this hour
when I might stand before my king, when I might penitently clasp his
knees and implore mercy for myself and my children--those poor,
nameless beings, whose existence is my accusation, and yet who are
the pride and joy of my life! Oh, sire, I will not accuse, to excuse
myself; I will not cast the stone at others which they have cast at
me. But it is scarcely charitable to judge and condemn a young girl
fourteen years of age, who did but obey the command of her parents,
and followed the man who was the first and only one that ever
whispered the word of love in her ear."

"I have heard that your parents sold their child to shame. Is it
true?" cried the king.

"Sire, my father was poor; the scanty income of a chapel musician
scarcely sufficed to educate and support four children. The prince
promised my father to educate me."

"Bah! The promises of a young man of twenty-five are made without
reflection, and rarely ever fulfilled."

"Sire, to the Prince of Prussia I owe all that I know, and all that
I am; his promise to my dying father was fully redeemed."

"Indeed, by whom were you taught, and what have you learned?"

"Your majesty, the prince wished, before all, that I should learn to
speak French. Madame Girard was my French instructress, and taught
me to play the guitar and spinet also."

"Oh, I presume you have learned to jabber a little French and drum a
little music," said the king, shrugging his shoulders.

"I beg pardon, sire; I have a tolerable knowledge of history and of
geography. I am familiar with the ancient and modern poets. I have
read a good French translation of Homer, Horace, and Virgil, with a
master. I have studied the history of Brandenburg, of Germany, and
of America. We have read the immortal works of Voltaire, of Jean
Jacques Rousseau, and of Shakespeare, with many of our modern poets.
My instructor has read all these works aloud to me, and he was much
pleased when I repeated parts of what he had read to me some days

"You appear to have had a very learned instructor," remarked the
king, sneeringly. "What is his name?"

"His name, sire, is Prince Frederick William of Prussia. Yes, it is
he who has taught me--he who has made me an intelligent woman.
However young he was when he undertook the task, he has accomplished
it with fidelity, firmness, and patience. He loved me, and would
make me worthy of him, in heart and mind. I shall ever be grateful
to him, and only death can extinguish the love and esteem with which
he in spires me."

"Suppose I command you to leave the prince? Suppose I will no longer
endure the scandal of this sinful relation?"

"I shall never willingly separate myself from my dear prince and
master--from the father of my two children. Your majesty will be
obliged to force me from him," answered Wilhelmine, defiantly.

"Oh, that will not be necessary, mademoiselle," cried the king.
"There are ways enough. I will make known my wishes to the prince; I
will command him to leave you, and have no further communication
with you."

"Sire," she answered, gently, "I know that the prince is an obedient
and respectful subject and servant to his king in all things, but
this command he would not obey."

"He would not dare to brave my commands!"

"He would not brave them, sire. Oh, no; it would be simply
impossible to obey them."

"What would hinder him?"

"Love, sire; the respect which he owes to me as the mother of his
two children--who has consecrated her love, her honor to him, and of
whom no one can say that she has injured the fidelity which she has
sworn to the prince--to the man of her first and only love--even
with a word or look."

"You mean to say, that I cannot separate you from the prince but by

"Yes, your majesty," cried she, with conscious power, "that is
exactly what I mean."

"You will find yourself deceived; you will be made to realize it,"
said the king, with a menacing tone. "You know nothing of the power
that lies in a legitimate marriage, and what rivals legitimate
children are, whom one dares acknowledge before God--before the
world. Boast not of the love of the prince, but remember that an
honorable solitude is the only situation becoming to you. Such
connections bear their own curse and punishment with them. Hasten to
avoid them. Lastly, I would add, never dare to mingle your impure
hands in the affairs of state. I have been obliged to give the order
to the state councillors in appointments and grants of office, not
to regard the protection and recommendation of a certain high
personage, as you are the real protectress and bestower of mercy.
Take care, and never let it happen again. You will never venture to
play the little Pompadour here, nor anything else but what your
dishonor allows you; otherwise you will have to deal with me! You
say that you have read Homer; then, doubtless, you remember the
story of Penelope, who, from conjugal fidelity, spun and wove,
undoing at night what she had woven by day. It is true, you bear
little resemblance to this chaste dame, but you might emulate her in
spinning and weaving; and if you are not in future retiring, I can
easily make a modern Penelope of you, and have you instructed in
spinning, for which you will have the best of opportunities in the
house of correction at Spandau. Remember this, and never permit
yourself to practise protection. I will keep the spinning-wheel and
the wool ready for you; that you may count upon. Remember, also,
that it is very disagreeable to me that you visit my park, as I like
to breathe pure air. Direct your promenade elsewhere, and avoid
meeting me in future."

"Your majesty, I--"

"Silence! I have heard sufficient. You have nothing more to say to
me. Go, hide your head, that no one may recognize your shame, or the
levity of the prince. Go--and, farewell forever!" He motioned
impatiently to her to retire, fastening his eyes with a fiery,
penetrating glance upon her pale, agitated face, her bowed, humble
attitude, and still continued to regard her as she painfully dragged
herself down the walk, as if her limbs were giving way under her.
Long stood the king gazing after her, resting upon his staff; and as
she disappeared at the end of the walk, he still stood there
immovable. By degrees his face assumed a milder expression. "He who
is free from sin, let him cast the first stone at her," said the
king, softened, as he slowly turned down the path which would lead
to his carriage, waiting outside the park.

Frederick was lost in thought, and addressed no conversation to the
equerry, Von Schwerin, who sat opposite to him. But as they drove
through the beautiful street Unten den Linden, at Berlin, Frederick
glanced at the equerry, and found that he had fallen asleep, wearied
with the long silence and the monotony of the drive. The king spoke
to Alkmene, loud and earnestly, until Herr von Schwerin, awakened
and startled, glanced at the king, frightened, and trying to
discover whether his fearful crime against etiquette would draw upon
him the royal censure. Frederick, however, appeared not to notice
his fright, and spoke kindly to him: "Did you not tell me, Schwerin,
that Count Schmettau would sell his country residence at

"At your service, your majesty, he asked me to purchase it, or find
him a purchaser."

"How much is it worth?"

"Sire, Count Schmettau demands eight thousand dollars for it. There
is a beautiful park belonging to it, and the house is worthy the
name of a castle, so large is it."

"Why do you not buy it, if the count offered it to you?"

The equerry assumed a sad mien, and answered, sighing: "Sire, I
should be the happiest of men if I could buy that charming
residence, and it would be a real blessing to me if I could enjoy in
summer at times the fresh air. My finances unfortunately, do not
allow such expenses, as I am not rich, and have a large family."

"Then you are right not to spend money unnecessarily," said the
king, quietly. "You can have as much fresh air at Potsdam as can
ever enter your mouth, and it costs neither you nor I any thing. Say
to Count Schmettau that you have a purchaser for his residence at

"Oh, you are really too kind," cried the equerry, in an excitement
of joy; "I do not know--"

Here the carriage entered the palace court, and the concluding words
were inaudible. Herr von Schwerin alighted quickly to assist the
king. "Say to Schmettau to present himself to my treasurer and
cabinet councillor, Menkon, tomorrow morning at twelve o'clock, at

The king nodded kindly to the equerry, and passed into the Swiss
saloon, and farther on into the private rooms which he was
accustomed to occupy whenever he remained at the capital. The Swiss
saloon was fast filling, not alone with the generals and staff-
officers of the Berlin garrison, but with the officers of the
regiments from the provinces, who presented themselves at the palace
according to the order of the king. The most of them were old and
worn out, body and mind. They all looked morose and sorrowful. The
great news of the approaching war with Austria had spread through
the military. The old laurel-crowned generals of the Seven Years'
War were unwilling to go forth to earn new laurels, for which they
had lost all ambition. Not one dared betray his secret thoughts to
another, or utter a word of disapproval. The king's spies were
everywhere, and none could trust himself to converse with his
neighbor, as he might prove to be one of them. There reigned an
anxious, oppressive silence; the generals and staff-officers
exchanged the ordinary greetings. All eyes were turned toward the
door through which the king would enter, bowed down, like his
generals, with the cares of life, and the burden of old age. The
king slowly entered. He was, indeed, an old man, like those he came
amongst, and now saluted. An expression of imperishable youth
lighted up his pale, sunken face, and his eyes flashed with as much
daring and fire as thirty-eight years before, when he had assembled
his young officers around him in this very hall, to announce to them
that he would march against Austria. How many wars, how many
battles, how many illusions, victories, and defeats had the king
experienced in these thirty-eight years! How little the youthful,
fiery king of that day resembled the weak old man of to-day; how
little in common the young King Frederick had with "Alten Fritz."
And now in this feeble body dwelt the same courageous spirit. In the
course of these years King Frederick II had become Frederick the
Great! And great he was to-day, this little old man--great in his
intentions and achievements, never heeding his own debility and need
of repose. All his thoughts and endeavors concentrated on the
welfare of his people and his country--on the greatness and glory of
Germany. Those eyes which now glanced over the circle of generals
were still flashing as those of the hero-king whose look had
disarmed the lurking assassin, and confounded the distinguished
savant in the midst of his eloquence, so that he stammered and was
silent. He was still Frederick the Great, who, leaning upon his
staff, was surrounded by his generals, whom he called to fight for
their fatherland, for Germany!

"Gentlemen," said the king, "I have called you together to announce
to you that we must go forth to new wars, and, God willing, to new
victories. The Emperor of Austria forces me to it, for, against all
laws and customs, and against all rights of kingdoms, he thinks to
bring German territory into the possession of the house of Hapsburg.
Charles Theodore, prince-elector, having no children, has concluded
a treaty with the Emperor Joseph, that at his death the electorate
of Bavaria will fall to Austria. In consequence thereof an Austrian
army has marched into Bavaria, and garrisoned the frontier.--The
prince-elector, Duke Charles Theodore, was not authorized to proceed
thus, for, though he had no children to succeed him, he had a lawful
successor in his brother's son, Duke Charles von Zweibrucken.
Electoral Saxony and Mecklenburg have well-founded pretensions, even
if Zweibrucken were not existing. All these princes have addressed
themselves to me, and requested me to represent them to the emperor
and to the imperial government--to protect them in their injured
rights. I have first tried kindness and persuasion to bring back
Austria from her desire of aggrandizement, but in Vienna they have
repulsed every means of peaceable arbitration. I, as one of the
rulers of the empire (and as I have reaffirmed the Westphalian
treaty through the Hubertsburger treaty), feel bound to preserve the
privileges, the rights, the liberty of the German states. I have
therefore well reflected, and decided to draw the sword--that what
the diplomats have failed to arrange with the pen should be settled
with the sword. These are my reasons, gentlemen, which make it my
duty to assemble an army; therefore I have called you together." His
fiery eyes flashed around the circle, peeling into the thin,
withered faces of his generals, and encountering everywhere a grave,
earnest mien.

The king repressed with an effort a sigh; then continued, with a
mild voice: "My feeble old age does not allow me to travel as in my
fiery youth. I shall use a post-carriage, and you, gentlemen, have
the liberty to do the same. On the day of battle you will find me
mounted; you will follow my example. Until then, farewell!"
[Footnote: The king's words.--See "Prussia, Frederick the Great,"
vol. iii.]

"Long live the king!" cried General von Krokow; and all the generals
who formerly joined in this cry of the Prussian warrior, now
repeated it in weak, trembling tones. Frederick smiled a
recognition, bowing on all sides, then turned slowly away, leaning
upon his staff.

When once more alone, the youthful expression faded from his eyes,
and the gloomy shadows of old age settled down upon his thoughtful
brow. "They have all grown old and morose," said he, mildly, "they
will not show any more heroism; the fire of ambition is quenched in
their souls! A warm stove must warm their old limbs. Oh! it is a
pitiful thing to grow old; and still they call themselves the images
of God! Poor boasters, who, with a breath of the Almighty, are
overturned and bent as a blade of grass in the sand!"

"Your majesty, may I come in?" asked a gentle, happy child's voice.

The king turned hastily toward the door, so softly opened, and there
stood a charming little boy, in the uniform of a flag-bearer, with
the cap upon his head, and a neat little sword by his side. "Yes,
you may enter," nodded the king kindly to him. "You know I sent for
you, my little flag-bearer."



The little flag-bearer skipped into the room with graceful vivacity,
and sprang, with a merry bound, up to the king, took his hand
without ceremony, and pressed it to his lips. Then, raising up his
head and shaking back his light-brown curls from his rosy cheeks,
his bright-blue eyes sparkling, he looked him full in the face.
"Your majesty, you say that you sent for me; but I must tell you
that if you had not sent for me I would have come here alone, and
begged so long at the door, that you would have let me come in!"

"And what if I would not have let you come in at all?" said the
king, smiling.

The little flag-bearer reflected a moment, then answered with a
confident air: "Your majesty, I would have forced open the door,
thrown myself at your feet, and kissed your hand, saying, 'My king,
my dear great-uncle, I must come in to thank you a thousand times
for the flag-bearer's commission you have sent me, and for the
beautiful uniform." Then I would see if your majesty had the courage
to send me away."

"Let me see, my prince--do you think my courage could fail me upon
any occasion?"

"Yes, in bad things," zealously cried the prince, "and it would be
bad if you would not let me thank you. I am so happy with the
commission and the beautiful uniform which you so graciously sent to
me! Tell me, your majesty, do I not look beautifully?" The boy
straightened his elegant, slender form, and saluted the king,
putting the two fingers of his right hand upon his cap.

"Yes, yes," said Frederick, "you look very nicely, my prince; but it
is not enough that you look well--you must behave well. From a flag-
bearer in my army I expect very different things than from any
common child. Who wears my uniform must prove himself worthy of the

"Your majesty," cried the prince, "I assure you, upon my word of
honor, that I have no bad marks when I wear the uniform. Your
majesty can ask my tutor. He came with me, and waits in the anteroom
to speak with you. He will tell you that I have a good report."

"Very well, we will call him presently," said Frederick, smiling.
"Now we will chat a little together. Tell me whether you are very
industrious, and if you are learning anything of consequence?"

"Sire, I must learn, even if I had no inclination to; Herr Behnisch
leaves me no peace. I have scarcely time to play. I am always
learning to read, to write, to cipher, and to work."

"How about the geography and universal history?"

"Oh, your majesty, I wish there were no geography and history in the
world, and then I should not have to study so cruelly hard, and I
could play more. My mother sent me last week a new battledore and
shuttlecock, but I can never learn to play with it. I no sooner
begin, than Herr Behnisch calls me to study. To-day I was very
cunning--oh, I was so sly! I put it in the great-pocket of my
tutor's coat, and he brought it here without knowing it."

"That was very naughty," said the king, a little severely. The
prince colored, and, a little frightened, said: "Sire, I could not
bring it any other way. I beg pardon, the uniform is so tight, and
then--then, I thought it would be dishonoring it to put a
shuttlecock in the cartridge-box."

"That was a good thought, prince, and for that I will forgive you
the trick upon your tutor. But what will you do with the ball here?
Why did you bring it?"

"Oh, I wished to show it to your majesty, it is so beautiful, and
then beg you to let me play a little."

"We will see, Fritz," said the king, much pleased. "If you deserve
it, that shall be your reward. Tell me the truth, is your tutor
satisfied with you?"

"Sire, Herr Behnisch is never really pleased, but he has not scolded
me much lately, so I must have been pretty good. One day he wrote
'Bien' under my French exercise. Oh, I was so happy that I spent six
groschen of the thaler my father gave me a little while since, and
bought two pots of gilly-flowers, one for myself and one for my
little brother Henry, that he should have a souvenir of my 'Bien!'"

"That was right," said the king, nodding approvingly. "When you are
good, you must always let your friends and relations take part in
it; keep the bad only for yourself."

"I will remember that, and I thank you for the kind instruction."

"The studies seem to go very well, but how is it with the behavior?
They tell me that the prince is not always polite to his visitors;
that he is sometimes very rude, even to the officers who pay their
respects to him on his father's account, and on my account, not on
his own, for what do they care for such a little snip as he? They go
to honor Prince Frederick William of Prussia, though he is only a
little flag-bearer. They tell me that you do not appreciate the
honor, but that at Easter you behaved very badly."

"Sire, it is true; I cannot deny it--I did behave badly," sighed the
little prince.

"What was the matter?" asked the king. "It was not from fear, I
hope? I should be very angry at that. Tell me yourself, and tell me
the truth."

"Your majesty can depend upon the whole truth. My tutor says that
lying is despicable, and that a prince who will one day be a king
should be too proud to tell a lie! I will tell you all about it. The
officers came to see me at Easter, just as I had put the Easter eggs
in the garden, for my little brother and some other boys whom I had
invited to hunt for them. I had spent my last six groschen for the
eggs, and I anticipated so much pleasure with the hide-and-seek for
them. We had just begun, when the officers came."

"That was really unfortunate," said the king, sympathizingly.

"Yes, sire, very disagreeable, and I could not possibly feel kindly.
While the officers were talking, I was always wishing they would go.
But they stayed and stayed--and when Major von Werder began to make
a long speech to me, and I thought there was no end to it, I became
impatient and furious--and--"

"Why do you hesitate?" asked the king, looking tenderly at the
frank, glowing face of the boy. "What happened?"

"Something dreadful, sire! I could not keep in any longer. The major
kept on talking, and looked at me so sharply, I could not help
making an abominable face. It is unfortunately true--I ran my tongue
out at him--only just a little bit--and I drew it back in an
instant; but it was done, and a dreadful scene followed. The major
did not say any thing, my tutor was red as fire, and I was

"That was excessively rude, my little flag-bearer," cried the king.

The young prince was so ashamed, and was looking down so penitently,
that he did not see the smile on Frederick's face, and the
affectionate look with which he regarded the youthful sinner.

"Do you know that you deserve to be imprisoned fourteen days, and
live on bread and water, for insubordination?"

"I know it now, sire. I beg pardon most humbly," said the prince,
with quivering voice and with tears in his eyes. "I have been
punished enough, without that. Herr Behnisch would not let me go to
the garden again, and I have never seen the eggs which I spent my
last groschen for, nor the boys whom I had invited. I was made to
stay in my room all Easter week, learn twenty Latin words every day,
and write three pages of German words in good handwriting. It was a
hard punishment, but I knew that I deserved it, and did not
complain. I only thought that I would do better in future."

"If you thought so, and you have already been punished, we will say
no more about it," said the king. "But tell me, how did you get on
at Whitsuntide, when the officers paid you their respects again?"

"Your majesty," answered the prince, "it was a great deal better; I
behaved tolerably well, except a very little rudeness, which was not
so bad after all. [Footnote: The little prince's own words.--See
"Diary of Prince Frederick William," p. 18.] Herr Behnisch did not
punish me; he only said, another time, that I should do better, and
not be so taciturn, but greet the gentlemen in a more friendly
manner. I must tell you, sire, that when Herr Behnisch does not
scold, it is a sure sign that I have behaved pretty well; and this
time he did not."

"Fritz, I believe you," said the king, "and you shall have the
reward that you asked for--stay here and play a little while. Go,
now, and call your tutor; I have a few words to say to him."

The little prince sprang toward the door, but suddenly stopped,

"What is the matter?" asked the king. "Why do you not call your

"Sire, I am very much troubled. Herr Behnisch will be very angry
when you tell him about the shuttlecock. I beg you not to betray

"Yes, but if you will play before me, you must get the plaything
which you say is in his pocket."

"Sire, then I had rather not play," cried the prince.

"On the contrary," said the king, "your punishment shall be, to take
the plaything as cleverly out of the pocket as you put it in. If you
do it well, then I will say nothing about it; but, if your tutor
discovers you, then you must submit to the storm. It lies in your
own hands. Whilst I am conversing with the tutor, try your luck. Now
call him in."

The prince obeyed thoughtfully, and the tutor entered. He stood near
the door, and made the three prescribed bows; then he waited with a
submissive air for further commands.

The king was sitting opposite the door, his hands folded upon his
staff and his chin resting upon his hands, looking the tutor full in
the face. Herr Behnisch bore it calmly; not a feature moved in his
angular, wooden face. Near the tutor stood the little prince, his
graceful, rosy, childlike face expressing eager expectation.

"Approach!" said the king.

Herr Behnisch stepped forward a little, and remained standing. The
prince glided noiselessly after him, keeping his eyes fixed on the
tails of the flesh-colored satin coat with which the tutor had
adorned himself for this extraordinary occasion. The prince smiled
as he saw the pocket open and the feathers of the shuttlecock
peeping out. He stretched out his little hand and crooked his
fingers to seize it.

"Come nearer! Herr Behnisch," said Frederick, who had observed the
movement of the little prince, and who was amused at the thought of
keeping him in suspense a little longer.

Herr Behnisch moved forward, and the prince, frightened, remained
standing with outstretched hand. He menaced the king with a glance
of his bright blue eyes. Frederick caught the look, smiled, and
turned to the tutor.

"I believe it is three years since you commenced teaching the little
prince?" said the king.

"At your service, your majesty, since 1775."

"A tolerably long time," said the king--"long enough to make a
savant of a child of Nature. You have been faithful, and I am
satisfied. The copybooks which you sent me according to my orders
are satisfactory. I wished to acquaint you myself of my
satisfaction, therefore I sent for you."

"Your majesty is very condescending," said the tutor, and his sharp,
angular face brightened a little. "I am very happy in the gracious
satisfaction of your royal highness. I wished also to make known to
you personally my wishes in regard to the petition for the little
prince's pocket-money; he should learn the use of money."

"Very well," said the king, nodding to the prince, who stood behind
the tutor, holding up triumphantly the shuttle cock.

Yet, the most difficult feat remained to be accomplished. The
battledoor was in the very depths of the pocket; only the point of
the handle was visible.

"Your majesty," cried Herr Behnisch, who had taken the approving
exclamation of "very well" to himself--"your majesty, I am very
happy that you have the grace to approve of my petition for pocket-

"Yes, I think it well," said the king, "that the prince should learn
not to throw money out of the window. I will send you, monthly, for
the prince, two Fredericks d'or, and, before you hand it over to
him, change it into small pieces, that there may be a great pile of
it." [Footnote: The king's own words--See "Confidential Letters."]

Just at that moment the prince tried to seize the battle door. Herr
Behnisch felt the movement, and was on the point of turning around,
when Frederick stopped him, by saying, "I believe it is time to
commence a regular course of instruction for the prince. At eight
years of age the education of an heir to the throne must progress
rapidly, and be regulated by fixed principles. I will write out my
instructions, that you may always have them before you."

"It will be my most earnest endeavor to follow your majesty's
commands to the letter," answered the tutor, who saw not the little
prince, with beaming face, behind him, swinging the battledoor high
in the air.

"I am about to enter upon a new war; no one knows if he will ever
return from a campaign. I dare not spare my life, when the honor and
fame of my house are at stake. Our life and death, however, are in
God's hands. Before we risk our lives, we should put every thing in
order, and leave nothing undone which it is our duty to do. I will
write my instructions to-day, and send them to you. Promise me, upon
your word of honor as a man, that you will act upon them, as long as
you are tutor to Prince Frederick William, even if I should not
return from the campaign."

"I promise it to your majesty," answered the tutor. "I will, in all
things, according to the best of my ability, follow your majesty's

"I believe you; I take you to be an honorable man," said the king.
"You will always be mindful of the great responsibility which rests
upon you, as you have a prince to educate who will one day govern a
kingdom, and upon whom the weal and woe of many millions are
dependent. And when those millions of men one day bless the king
whom you have educated, a part of the blessing will fall upon you;
but when they curse him, so falls the curse likewise upon your
guilty head, and you will feel the weight of it, though you may be
in your grave!. Be mindful of this, and act accordingly. Now you may
depart. I will write the instructions immediately, so that you may
receive them to-day."

Herr Behnisch bowed, backing out toward the door.

"One thing more," cried the king, motioning with his Staff to the
tutor. "In order that you may ever remember our interview, I will
present you with a souvenir."

He opened the drawer of his private writing-table, and took out a
gold snuff-box, with his initials set in brilliants upon the cover;
handing it to Herr Behnisch, he motioned him to retire, and thus
spare him the expression of his gratitude.

"Your majesty," stammered Herr Behnisch, with tears in his eyes,

"You are an honest man, and so long as you remain so, you can count
upon me. Adieu!--Now," said the king, as the door closed, "have you
recovered the plaything?"

"Here it is, your majesty," shouted the prince, as he held up
triumphantly the battledoor and shuttlecock high in the air.

"You deserve your reward, and you shall have it. You can stay with
me and play with it here. Take care and not make too much noise, as
I wish to write."

The king now seated himself, to draw up the instructions for Herr
Behnisch. While he was thus occupied, the little prince tossed his
shuttlecock, springing lightly after it on tiptoe to catch it;
sometimes he missed it, and then he cast an imploring look at the
king, as it fell upon the furniture; but he observed it not. He was
absorbed in writing the instructions for the education of the future
king, Frederick William III. The physical education of the prince
was his first care. He dwelt upon the necessity of the frequent
practice of dancing, fencing, and riding, to give suppleness, grace,
and a good carriage--through severe training, to make him capable of
enduring all hardships. The different branches of study next
occupied the king. "It is not sufficient," he wrote," that the
prince should learn the dates of history, to repeat them like a
parrot; but he must understand how to compare the events of ancient
times with the modern, and discover the causes which produced
revolutions, and show that, generally, in the world, virtue is
rewarded and vice punished. Later, he can learn a short course of
logic, free from all pedantry; then study the orations of Cicero and
Demosthenes, and read the tragedies of Racine. When older, he should
have some knowledge of the opinions of philosophers, and the
different religious sects, without inspiring him with dislike for
any one sect. Make it clear to him that we all worship God--only in
different ways. It is not necessary that he should have too much
respect for the priests who instruct him."

The shuttlecock fell, at this instant, upon the paper upon which the
king was writing. Frederick was too much occupied to look up, but he
threw it upon the floor, continuing to write:

"The great object will be to awaken a love of learning in the
prince, to prevent any approach to pedantry, and not to make the
course of instruction too severe at the commencement. We now come to
the chief division of education, that which concerns the morals.
Neither you nor all the power in the world would be sufficient to
alter the character of a child. Education can do nothing further
than moderate the violence of the passions. Treat my nephew as the
son of a citizen, who has to make his own fortune. Say to him that,
when he commits follies, and learns nothing, the whole world will
despise him. Let him assume no mannerisms, but bring him up simply.

It was the second time the shuttlecock fell upon the paper. The king
looked up censuringly at the prince, who stood speechless with
fright and anxiety. The king again threw it upon the floor, and
wrote on:

"The prince must be polite toward every one; and if he is rude, he
must immediately make an apology. Teach him that all men are equal--
that high birth is a myth when not accompanied with merit. Let the
prince speak with every one, that he may gain confidence. It is of
no consequence if he talks nonsense; every one knows that he is a
child. Take care in his education, above all things, that he is
self-reliant, and not led by others; his follies, as well as his
good qualities, should belong to himself. It is of very great
importance to inspire him with a love for military life; and for
this reason say to him, and let him hear others say it, that every
man who is not a soldier is a miserable fellow, whether noble or
not. He must see the soldiers exercise as often as possible; and it
would be well to send for five or six cadets, and have them drill
before him. Every thing depends upon cultivating a taste for these
things. Inspire him with a love of our country, above all things.
Let no one speak to him who is not truly patriotic."

Again the shuttlecock fell upon the paper. The little prince uttered
a cry of horror, staring at the plaything. This time the king did
not receive the interruption so calmly. He looked at the speechless
boy as if very angry; then took it and put it in his pocket. Casting
another angry glance at the prince, he continued:

"The officers who dine with the prince shall tease and annoy him,
that he may become confident."

"Your majesty," said the prince, timidly and imploringly, "I beg
pardon a thousand times for being so awkward. I am sorry, and I will
be more careful in the future."

The king paid no attention to him, but continued to write: "When you
understand him better, try to learn his chief passion to uproot it,
but to moderate it." [Footnote: This entire instruction is an exact
translation of the original, which Frederick drew up in French, and
which is included in his "Complete Works."]

"My dear lord and king," began the prince again, "I beg you will
have the goodness to give me my shuttlecock."

The king was silent, and with apparent indifference commenced
reading over what he had written.

Prince Frederick William waited a long time, but, on receiving no
answer, and understanding that his pleading was in vain, his face
grew red with anger, and his eyes flashed. With an irritated,
determined manner, he stepped close up to the king, his hands
resting upon his hips. "Your majesty," cried he, with a menacing
tone, "will you give me my ball or not?"

The king now looked up at the prince, who regarded him in an
insolent, questioning manner. A smile, mild as the evening sunset,
spread over the king's face; he laid his hand lovingly upon the
curly head of the prince, saying: "They will never take away Silesia
from you. Here is your shuttlecock." He drew it from his pocket, and
gave it to the little prince, who seized his hand and pressed it to
his lips.



Wilhelmine Enke passed the remainder of the day, after her meeting
with the king, in anguish and tears. She recalled all that he had
said to her, every word of which pierced her to the heart. Her
little daughter of seven years tried in vain to win a smile from her
mamma with her gentle caresses. In vain she begged her to sing to
her and smile as she was wont to do. The mother, usually so kind and
affectionate, would today free herself from her child, and sent her
away with quivering lip, and tears in her eyes, to listen to her
nurse's stories.

Once alone, Wilhelmine paced her room with rapid strides and folded
arms, giving vent to her repressed anguish. She reviewed her life,
with all its changing scenes. It was a sad, searching retrospection,
but in it she found consolation and excuse for herself. She thought
of her childhood; she saw the gloomy dwelling where she had lived
with her parents, brothers, and sisters. She recalled the need and
the want of those years--the sickly, complaining, but busy mother;
the foolish, wicked father, who never ceased his constant exercise
of the bugle, except to take repeated draughts of brandy, or scold
the children. Then she saw in this joyless dwelling, in which she
crouched with her little sisters, a young girl enter, and greet them
smilingly. She wore a robe glittering with gold, with transparent
wings upon her shoulders. This young girl was Wilhelmine's older
sister, Sophie, who had just returned from the Italian opera, where
she was employed. She still had on her fairy costume in which she
had danced in the opera of "Armida," and had come, with a joyous
face, to take leave of her parents, and tell them that a rich
Russian count loved her, and wanted to marry her; that in the
intervening time he had taken a beautiful apartment for her, where
she would remove that very evening. She must bid them farewell, for
her future husband was waiting for her in the carriage at the door.

Sophie laughed at her grumbling father, shook hands with her weeping
mother, and bent to kiss the children. Wilhelmine, in unspeakable
anguish, sprang after her, holding her fast, with both hands
clinching the crackling wings. She implored her sister to take her
with her, while the tears ran in streams down her cheeks. "You know
that I love you," she cried, "and my only pleasure is to see you
every day. Take me with you, and I will serve and obey you, and be
your waiting-maid." Wilhelmine held the wings firmly with a
convulsive grasp, and continued to weep and implore, until Sophie at
last laughingly yielded.

"Well, come, if you will be my waiting-maid; no one combs hair as
well as you, and your simple style of arranging it suits me better
than any other. Come, come, it shall be arranged, you shall be my

The pictures of memory changed, and Wilhelmine saw herself in the
midst of splendor, as the poor little maid, unnoticed by her
brilliant sister, the beloved of the Russian Count Matuschko. Joy
and pleasure reigned in the beautifully gilded apartment where
Sophie lived. She was the queen of the feasts and the balls. Many
rich and fine gentlemen came there, and the beautiful Sophie, the
dancer, the affianced of Count Matuschko, received their homage. No
one observed the sad little waiting-maid, in her dark stuff dress,
with her face bound up in black silk, as if she had the toothache.
She wore the cast-off morning dresses of her sister, and, at her
command, bound her face with the black silk, so that the admirers of
her sister should not see, by a fugitive glance, or chance meeting,
the budding beauty of the little maid.

Wilhelmine dared not enter the saloon when visitors were there; only
when Sophie was alone, or her artistic hand was needed to arrange
her sister's beautiful hair, was she permitted to stay with the
future countess. Every rough touch was resented with harsh words,
blows, and ill-treatment. The smiling fairy of the drawing-room, was
the harsh, grim mistress for her sister, whose every mistake was
punished with unrelenting severity. In fact, she was made a very
slave; and now, after long years, the remembrance of it even cast a
gloomy shadow over Wilhelmine's face, and her eyes flashed fire.

Another picture now rose up before her soul, which caused her face
to brighten, as a beautiful beaming image presented itself, the
image of her first and only love! She lived over again the day when
it rose up like a sun before her wondering, admiring gaze, and yet
it was a stormy day for her. Sophie was very angry with her, because
in crimping her hair she had burnt her cheek, which turned the fairy
into a fury. She threw the weak child upon the floor, and beat and
stamped upon her.

Suddenly a loud, angry voice commanded her to cease, and a strong,
manly arm raised the trembling, weeping girl, and with threatening
tone bade Sophie be quiet. Prince Frederick William of Prussia took
compassion on the poor child. The sister had not remarked him in her
paroxysm of rage; had never heard him enter. He had been a witness
to Wilhelmine's ill-treatment. He now defended her, blaming her
sister for her cruelty to her, and declared his intention to be her
future protector. How handsome he looked; how noble in his anger;
how his eyes flashed as he gazed upon her, who knelt at his feet,
and kissed them, looking up to him as her rescuer!

"Wilhelmine, come with me; I do not wish you to remain here," said
he; "your sister will never forgive you that I have taken your part.
Come, I will take you to your parents, and provide for you. You
shall be as beautiful and accomplished a lady as your sister, but,
Heaven grant, a more generous and noble-hearted one! Come!"

These words, spoken with a gentle, winning voice, had never died
away in her heart. Twelve years had passed since then, and they
still rang in her ear, in the tumult of the world as well as in the
quiet of her lonely room. They had comforted her when the shame of
her existence oppressed her; rejoiced her when, with the delight of
youth and happiness, she had given herself up to pleasure. She had
followed him quietly, devotedly, as a little dog follows his master.
He had kept his word; he had had her instructed during three years,
and then sent her to Paris, in order to give her the last polish,
the tournure of the world, however much it had cost him to separate
from her, or might embarrass him, with his scanty means, to afford
the increase of expense. A year elapsed and Wilhelmine returned a
pleasing lady, familiar with the tone of the great world, and at
home in its manners and customs.

The prince had kept his word--that which he had promised her as he
took her from her sister's house, to make her a fine, accomplished
lady. And when he repeated to her now "Come," could she refuse him--
him to whom she owed every thing, whom she loved as her benefactor,
her teacher, her friend, and lover? She followed him, and concealed
herself for him in the modest little dwelling at Potsdam. For him
she lived in solitude, anxiously avoiding to show herself publicly,
that the king should never know of her existence, and in his just
anger sever the unlawful tie which bound her to the Prince of
Prussia. [Footnote: "Memoirs of the Countess Lichtenau," p. 80.]
Wilhelmine recalled the past seven years of her life, her two
children, whom she had borne to the prince, and the joy that filled
his heart as he became a father, although his lawful wife had also
borne him children. She looked around her small, quiet dwelling,
arranged in a modest manner, not as the favorite of the Prince of
Prussia, but as an unpretending citizen's wife; she thought how oft
with privations, with want even, she had had to combat; how oft the
ornaments which the prince had sent her in the rare days of
abundance had been taken to the pawnbrokers to provide the necessary
wants of herself and children. Her eyes flashed with pride and joy
at the thought which she dared to breathe to herself, that not for
gold or riches, power or position, had she sold her love, her honor,
and her good name.

"It was from pure affinity, from gratitude and affection, that I
followed the husband of my heart, although he was a prince," she

Still the shame of her existence weighed upon her. The king had
commanded her to hide her head so securely that no one might know
her shame, or the levity of the prince.

"Go! and let me never see you again!"

Did not this mean that the king would remove her so far that there
would not be a possible chance to appear again before him? Was there
not hidden in these words a menace, a warning? Would not the king
revenge on her the sad experiences of his youth? Perhaps he would
punish her for what Doris Ritter had suffered! Doris Ritter! She,
too, had loved a crown prince--she, too, had dared to raise her eyes
to the future King of Prussia, for which she was cruelly punished,
though chaste and pure, and hurled down to the abyss of shame for
the crime of loving an heir to the throne. Beaten, insulted, and
whipped through the streets, and then sent to the house of
correction at Spandau! Oh, poor, unhappy Doris Ritter! Will the king
atone to you--will he revenge the friend of his youth on the
mistress of his successor? The old King Frederick, weary of life,
thinks differently from the young crown prince. He can be as severe
as his father, cruel and inexorable as he.

"Doris Ritter! Thy fate haunts me. On the morrow I also may be
whipped through the streets, scorned, reviled by the rabble, and
then sent to Spandau as a criminal. Did not the king threaten me
with the house of correction, with the spinning-wheel, which he
would have ready for me?"

At the thought of it a terrible anguish, a nameless despair, seized
her. She felt that the spinning-wheel hung over her like the sword
of Damocles, ready at the least occasion to fall upon her, and bind
her to it. She felt that she could not endure such suspense and
torture; she must escape; she must rescue herself from the king's

"But whither, whither! I must fly from here, from his immediate
proximity, where a motion of his finger is sufficient to seize me,
to cause me to disappear before the prince could have any knowledge
of it, before he could know of the danger which threatened me. I
must away from Potsdam!"

The prince had arranged a little apartment in Berlin for the winter
months, which she exchanged for Potsdam in the spring. This seemed
to offer her more security for the moment, for she could fly at the
least sign of danger, could even hide herself from the prince, if it
were necessary to save him and herself. Away to Berlin, then! That
was the only thought she was able to seize upon. Away with her
children, before misfortune could reach them!

She sprang to the door, tore it open, rushing to the nurse, upon
whose knees the baby slept, near whom her little daughter knelt.
With trembling hands she took her boy and pressed him to her heart.
"Louisa, we must leave here immediately; it is urgent necessity!"
said she, with quivering lip. "Do not say a word about it to any
one, but hasten; order quickly a wagon, bargain for the places, and
say we must set off at once. The wagon must not be driven to the
door, but we will meet it at the Berlin Gate. We will go on foot
there, and get in. Quick, Louisa, not a word--it must be!"

The servant did not dare to oppose her mistress, or contradict the
orders, but hastened to obey them.

"It is all the old king's fault," said Louisa to herself, as she
hurried through the street. "Yes, the king has ordered mistress to
Berlin. He looked so furious, the old bear! His eyes flashed so
terribly, one might well fear him, and I thanked Heaven when
mamselle sent me home from the park. It is coming to a bad end at
last; I should have done better not to have taken the place at all.
Oh, if we were only away from here; if I only could find a wagon to
take us!"

Thanks to the nurse's fears and endeavors, the wagon was soon found,
and scarcely an hour had passed before Wilhelmine Enke, her two
children and nurse, were hidden under a plain linen-covered wagon,
and on their way to Berlin.

The street was unusually animated, as the division of troops which
the king had reviewed in Berlin, were marching out of the city to
report themselves on the Bavarian frontier. Their first night's
quarters were to be in Potsdam, and the last great parade was to
take place there on the following morning, before the king commenced
his journey. The driver had often to halt at the side of the street
to let the troops pass, which with a full band of music, came
marching on. At the head of one of the regiments, mounted upon a
fiery steed, was a general in brilliant uniform, his breast covered
with orders, which glittered in the sun. He was tall and rather
corpulent, but appeared to advantage. His carriage was proud and
imposing, his face was almost too youthful for a general, and his
body too corpulent for the expressive and delicate features. As he
passed by the poor, unpretending carriage, where Wilhelmine sat with
her children, she heard distinctly his beautiful, sonorous voice,
and merry laugh. "Oh Heaven, it is he!--it is he!" she murmured,
drawing herself farther back into the wagon with her children. Just
then, out of an opening in the linen cover, Louisa peeped,
whispering, "Mamselle, it is the Prince of Prussia!"

"Be quiet--for mercy's sake be quiet, Louisa, that we may not be
remarked!" said Wilhelmine, gently. "Take the child that he may not
scream, for if the prince should hear him he will turn back. He
knows the voice of his little son!"

"Yes, he knows the voice of his little son!" muttered the nurse, as
she laid the child to her breast. "The little son must stop here on
the street, in a miserable wagon, while his noble father rides past,
so splendid and glittering with gold, not knowing that his little
boy is so near him. Oh, a real trouble and a real heart-sorrow is

"Indeed it is," said Wilhelmine, in her heart, "a real trouble and a
real heart-sorrow. How all these men would present arms, and salute
my children, if they had been born to a throne instead of obscurity!
How they would bow and bend, if I were called Louisa of Hesse-
Darmstadt, and the lawful wife of the prince! Did they not also bend
and bow before the first wife, Elizabeth von Braunschweig,
[Footnote: The first wife of Prince Frederick William of Prussia was
the Princess Elizabeth von Braunschweig, the niece of Frederick the
Great. The crown prince was scarcely twenty-one years of age when
betrothed to her. After four years they were separated, on account
of the improper conduct of the princess, who was banished to
Stettin. There she lived until her death in 1840, after seventy-one
years of imprisonment. Never during these seventy-one years had the
Princess "Lisbeth," as she was called, dared to leave Stettin. There
she was obliged to amuse herself. Her concerts and evening
entertainments were celebrated. The second wife of the crown prince
of Prussia was Louisa of Hesse-Darmstadt, the mother of Frederick
William III. She died in 1805.] although every one knew of her
shameful conduct--knew of her intrigues with lackeys and common
soldiers? Do they not now bow before her, although she is banished
to Stettin for her infamous conduct, and lives there a prisoner? A
fine imprisonment that! The whole town is her prison, and when she
appears in public every one stands upon the street to salute the
crown princess of Prussia. But when they see me they pass carelessly
by, or they look at me with a contemptuous laugh, and fancy
themselves miracles of virtue, and free from sin. My only crime is
that my father was not a prince, and that I am of low birth. Am I to
blame for that--to blame that the man whom I love, and who loves me,
cannot marry me and make me his lawful wife?"

"Ho! gee, ho!" cried the driver to his horses. "Get up!" The troops
had passed, the highway was now free, and uninterrupted rolled the
heavy, creaking wagon into Berlin. Within all was quiet. The two
children and nurse were asleep. The driver was half asleep, his head
hung shaking about; only now and then he started to give his horses
a crack, which the thin, wheezing animals did not heed in the least.
Wilhelmine alone slept not; in her soul there was no quiet, no
peace. She grumbled at fate, and at mankind. An unspeakable anxiety
seized her for the immediate future, and fear of the king's anger.
As the sun was setting they reached Berlin, and were entering the
town, when the guard, in royal livery, sprang through the gate,
calling, in a loud voice, to the wagon, "Halt--halt! Turn out f the
way!" Then was heard the call of the sentinel, and the roll of the
drums. An equipage, drawn by six black steeds, drove past. A pale,
young wife, splendidly attired, leaned back in the carriage, and the
little flag-bearer, Prince Frederick William, was by her side; on
the seat opposite sat the second son, Prince Louis, and the lord
steward. In this beautiful equipage drove the Princess of Prussia;
at her side, in a miserable linen-covered wagon, crouching far in
the corner, sat Wilhelmine Enke, the rival of the princess; near
her, her two children, whose existence condemned her, and stamped
her life with dishonor. Like a dream the brilliant apparition rushed
past Wilhelmine, and it haunted her through the long streets, to the
humble home where she sought a temporary refuge. And when finally
alone, in her own room, where no one could spy into her face, nor
understand her words, there broke forth from her soul a long-
repressed wrong. She stood erect; a proud, insolent smile played
around her mouth. "I am his wife, too; I alone am his beloved wife,"
said she, with a loud, triumphant voice, "and my children are his
only truly-beloved children, for they are those of his love. How
proudly she drove past me! How beautiful is her pale face, and how
interesting her sad smile! She in sunlight, and I in shade! She
knows that I am her rival, but she is not mine. No, the Princess of
Prussia cannot rival Wilhelmine Enke. I have no fear of her. But the
king I have to fear," cried she suddenly, shrinking with terror. In
the meeting with the princess she had forgotten him, her anguish,
her anxiety for the future. All were forgotten for the moment--to be
recalled with renewed terror.

"Thank Heaven," she said, "I have escaped. For the moment I am safe!
What will the prince do, when he finds that we have fled from
Potsdam? Will he divine where we have gone? Will he come to seek me?
If he still loves me--if I am really the happy rival of his wife and
every other court lady--yes, then he will come. Then he will know
where to find his Wilhelmine. But if it is true, what malicious
people have repeated to me, with feigned sympathy, that the prince
loves another--that he has withdrawn his love from me, is
indifferent and cold--then he will not seek me; then I shall remain
here alone!--alone, with my children, this long, fearful night!
What, then, if I am alone? No, oh, no! I will not believe that I am
forsaken. These are wicked thoughts which haunt me--only the
agitation of this dreadful day, which imagination has overwrought.
Rise up and be strong! Go to thy children," said she, "and read in
their eyes that he can never leave thee!"

Forcing herself to composure, she sought her children; found Louisa
humming and singing her little boy to sleep, and her daughter
nodding, on a low stool at her feet.

"Come, my child, I will put you to sleep," said the mother, lifting
her in her arms. "Your mother will make your bed softly. When you
sleep and speak with the angels, intercede for us all."

With tender care she undressed her and bore her gently in her arms
to her bed, and, kneeling before it, breathed a prayer over her
sleeping child; then bent over the cradle of her son, blessing and
kissing him. "Sleep my boy, sleep. I know not that I shall ever see
thy beautiful eyes open again--whether I shall ever again press thee
to my heart. Who can tell if they may not come this very night to
remove me to prison--to punish me for you, my children, my beloved
children!--Be calm, be calm! I shall remain here until morning, at
least," added she.

She turned to the nurse, who, with anxious face and folded hands,
stood at the farthest corner of the room. "Go, now, Louisa--go, and
take something to eat. You must be hungry and tired. Buy at the next
store what you need; but do not stop to talk with any one or repeat
my name. Then return quickly, and take care of the children. Do not
trouble yourself about me--I need nothing more."

"But you must eat something, mamselle; you must have some supper!"

Wilhelmine shook her head, refusing, and returned quickly to her own



Long after nightfall the nurse heard her mistress rapidly pacing her
room, and talking aloud to herself. Soon, however, Sleep spread her
soothing wings over Louisa, and she heard no more the rapid steps
and loud talking of her mistress, nor the rolling of a carriage
which stopped before the door, and the quick, vigorous steps of a
man mounting the stairs. But Wilhelmine heard them. Breathless she
stood, listening to the approaching footsteps, for she felt that
they had to decide her future--the weal and woe of her children! Was
it he, her beloved, the father of her children? or was it the king's
bailiff who had followed her, and came to seize her?

Nearer they came; the bell was hastily, violently rung. Wilhelmine
uttered a cry of delight. She recognized the voice, the commanding
manner, and rushed through the anteroom to open the door. The prince
encircled her in his arms, pressed her to his beating heart, and,
lifting her up, bore her into the room.

"Why did you leave Potsdam, Wilhelmine? Tell me quickly, why did you
do it?" asked the prince, tenderly kissing her, as he sat her upon
the divan at his side. Overcome with her tears, she could not
answer. "What mean these tears? Has any one dared to wound your
feelings or injure you?"

"Yes, Frederick, and he who injures me hazards nothing--for it is
the king! I met him in the park at Potsdam this morning. He has
crushed me with his scorn and anger. He has threatened me with a
fearful punishment--no less than the house of correction at Spandau!
He has told me that the spinning-wheel is in readiness for me if I
excite his further contempt."

A cry of fury escaped the prince. Springing up, he paced the room
with rapid strides. Wilhelmine remained upon the divan, but her
tears did not prevent her following the prince with a searching
glance--to read his face, pale with rage. "I must bear it," he
cried, beating his forehead. "I cannot protect those that I love!"

A ray of joy lighted up Wilhelmine's face as she listened, but it
disappeared with the tears which flowed afresh. "I am a poor,
unfortunate child," she sobbed, "whom every one despises, and fears
not to injure, who has no one to counsel or protect her, and who is
lost if God does not have compassion upon her."

The prince rushed to her, seizing both hands. "Wilhelmine, do not
drive me mad with sorrow," he cried, trembling with excitement and
anger. "Is it my fault that I cannot protect you against him? Have I
not defended you from all the rest of the world? Have I ever allowed
any one to treat you with contempt?"

"I have never given occasion for it, dearest. I have studiously
avoided all men, to escape their contempt and scorn. Shame is hard
to bear, fearfully hard. I felt it today, as his beautiful eyes
flashed upon me with contempt, as his haughty language crushed me to
the earth. This is the yoke, Frederick William, that I and my
children must bear to our graves!"

"No, Wilhelmine, not as long as we live--only while he lives! Wait,
only wait; let me rise from want and slavery; let the day come which
makes me free--which exalts me: my first act will be to lift the
yoke from you and our children, and woe to those--a thousand times
woe to those who would hold it fast! Only be patient, Wilhelmine,
submit, and bear with me the hard and distressing present. Tell me,
my child, my loved one, why did you leave Potsdam so suddenly?"

"I was afraid, Frederick. A kind of madness seized me at the thought
of the king's bailiffs carrying me off to Spandau; a nameless
anxiety confused my mind, and I only realized that I must escape--
that I must conceal myself. I felt in greater security here than at
Potsdam for the night."

"And you fled without leaving me any sign or message to tell me
whither you had gone! Oh, Wilhelmine, what if I had not divined your
hiding-place, and had awaited at Potsdam in painful anxiety?"

"Then I should have fled from here at daybreak, leaving my children,
and in some quiet, obscure retreat have concealed myself from every
eye--even your own."

"Would you have hidden yourself from me?" cried the prince,
encircling her in his arms, and pressing her to his heart.

"Yes, Frederick, when your heart did not prompt you where to find
me, then it would have been a proof that you were indifferent to me.
When I cannot lean upon your love, then there is no longer any
protection or abiding-place for me in the world, and the grave will
be my refuge."

"But you see my heart revealed you to me, and I am here," said the
prince, smiling.

Book of the day:
Facebook Google Reddit StumbleUpon Twitter Pinterest