Part 6 out of 13
The imperial pair then left their carriage, and, a bed being made of
the cloaks of the pages, they laid them down to sleep under the
dark-blue vault of the spangled heavens. But, at the dawn of day,
they resumed their journey. The horses had rested, and the gentlemen
of the imperial household had procured some homely refreshments for
the famished monarch and his family. It consisted of eggs, milk, and
black bread; but hunger lent it savor, and their majesties ate with
more relish, perhaps, than they had ever done before.
They set out again. Their way now lay over cornfields, where the
farmers, with their maids and men, were gathering the wheat, and
binding it into sheaves. They, too, were in terror of the Turks;
but, when they saw the imperial cortege slowly plodding its way
through the sandy road, they stopped their work, and, coming up to
the portieres, intruded their coarse, brutal faces into the very
carriages themselves. They stared at the empress and jeered at the
emperor; inquired how he liked his crown, and why he did not wear it
on his head. They added that it was a fine thing to be on a throne,
to be sure; but emperors had a right to their share of trouble in
this world, quite as much as other people; perhaps they deserved a
little more than others.
When the officers and pages around heard this insolent scoffing,
they drew their swords, and would have made short work of the boors;
but Leopold forbade the use of violence. "Let them alone," said he,
mildly. "They are quite right. It is easy to be a monarch while the
sun shines, and the empire prospers; let me hope to prove to my
subjects that I can bear my reverses with humility and fortitude.
Let these people alone; for all trials come from above, and in His
own good time God will help us, and end our tribulations."
The peasants, ashamed, slunk back into their fields, and the
imperial retinue went on to Linz, while for those that had remained
in Vienna there ensued a period of danger, hardships, and terrible
Count Rudiger von Starhemberg, who had been chosen to defend Vienna,
entered upon his perilous responsibilities with enthusiasm and
energy. Rich and poor, great and small, were called upon to
contribute to the general welfare. Nobles of high degree worked on
the defences; ladies brought baskets of provisions to the laborers;
and the mayor of Vienna, by way of setting the example to his
inferiors, carried sand all day in a wheelbarrow to the
fortifications. But bravely as they worked, each day augmented their
danger. The sentinels on St. Stephen's towers could see, by the
reddened heavens, that the Turk was approaching. On the 12th of July
the summit of the Kahlenberg was seen to be in flames; and the
besieged had no need to be told that a monastery had been destroyed,
and its occupants perchance put to the sword. Kara Mustapha invested
Vienna, and sent to demand the surrender of the city. It was
refused, and the siege was begun.
The Turks pitched their tents at the distance of several miles, and
began to mine. Meanwhile a terrible fire broke out in Vienna which
threatened destruction to its inhabitants. Driven onward by a high
wind, it consumed street after street, and at length approached the
arsenal, within whose precincts were a shot-tower and the powder-
magazine. Thousands of citizens were at the engines, making
despairing efforts to arrest the conflagration; but the licking
flames came fast and faster toward the shot-tower. The wretched
Viennese had given up every hope of salvation, when Count Guido von
Starhemberg, the nephew of the commanding general, rescued Vienna at
the risk of his own life. Accompanied by a few soldiers, he entered
the tower, and deluged the powder-barrels with water. Animated by
the noble devotion of the young count, others followed him with new
supplies. The windows of the powder-magazine were then walled up,
and the fire extinguished.
Scarcely had the Viennese recovered from this threatened catastrophe
before danger assailed them from another quarter. The Turkish lines
grew closer around the city, and the Duke of Lorraine, who, in the
interim, had arrived, and had encamped on an island in the Danube,
was forced back to Moravia, there to await the long-promised succor
of the King of Poland, and the long-procrastinated re-enforcements
of the Elector of Bavaria.
Within the gates their foes were sickness, discouragement, hunger,
and mutiny. With these intestine enemies Count von Starhemberg
battled manfully. His own spirit and courage were the weapons he
used to keep down discontent. Day and night he was in the trenches;
and when, by skilful countermining, his men had succeeded in taking
the lives of a few hundred Turks, Count von Starhemberg embraced the
miners, and took the earliest opportunity of rewarding them.
Undaunted by the Turkish bullets, he visited the ramparts three
times daily, until finally he was struck by one of the balls that
were constantly aimed at him, and severely wounded in the head. He
was picked up insensible, and carried home; but Rudiger Ton
Starhemberg had no time to be sick: so three days after he rose from
his bed, and, with his head bound up, mounted his horse, and
returned to his post.
His short absence had been productive of much evil in Vienna. It had
dispirited the timid and emboldened the insubordinate. But Count
Rudiger had an iron will, and no sympathy for weakness that
endangered the state. An officer having neglected his watch, and
permitted the Turks to intrench themselves in front of a bastion
whereof he had the guard, Count von Starhemberg gave him his choice
between the gallows and a sortie wherein he should meet the death of
a soldier. The officer chose the latter alternative, and died after
performing prodigies of valor.
Two soldiers had resisted the commands of their captain. Both were
arrested, and one of them accused the other of having instigated him
to insubordination. In presence of their regiment they were made to
throw for their lives, and he who threw the lowest number was taken
out and shot.
From the fulfilment of their duty to the country, Count von
Starhemberg would exempt neither age nor sex. Two boys of less than
twelve years of age were accused of having secret understanding with
the enemy, by which, for a rich reward, they were to open the gates
at night, and deliver the city into Kara Mustapha's hands. Count von
Starhemberg investigated the matter thoroughly, and, the fact having
been proved upon the boys, they were executed.
But hunger and disease were fast decreasing the ranks of the
besieged. The hospitals were so crowded with patients, that no more
could obtain admittance; and the commander, who seemed to have an
expedient for every disaster, appealed to the women of Vienna to
receive the sufferers in their houses. They responded, as woman
does, to the claims of humanity, and, carrying their devotion
further than was required, they visited the hospitals, and brought
food to the men on the ramparts, to refresh and invigorate them as
But unhappily, the day came when substantial food was no longer to
be gotten. The city was invested, and no supplies could come from
without. The Duke of Lorraine had promised re-enforcements toward
the end of the month; and yet the 30th day of August had dawned, and
no help was vouchsafed.
But there was yet another night to pass before they would despair of
his coming. Crowds of men assembled on the towers of St. Stephen's,
that they might hear from the lips of the sentinels the first
tidings of joy; in the churches women and children were on their
knees imploring Heaven to send them succor; while without the Turks,
who had just begun a fresh assault, were thinning the ranks of their
defenders, and adding to the mournful numbers of the widows and
orphans of Vienna.
By morning the Turks had mined a passage to the stronghold of
Ravelin. Thither rushed the men with pikes, sabres, and clubs; and
behind them came their wives and daughters with boiling pitch and
oil, with sacks of sand and ashes, to throw upon the invaders as
they emerged from their subterranean passage. The expedient was
successful; the enemy was repulsed with loss, and the fall of Vienna
averted for another day.
A messenger from the emperor had managed to pass the Turkish lines,
promising help to the brave besieged, could they but hold out till
the middle of September; but, after ten weeks of struggle, patient
waiting, and hope deferred, two weeks seemed an eternity.
Nevertheless the indomitable Starhemberg reanimated their courage,
not only by words, but by his noble and unselfish endurance of
hardship, his fearless defiance of danger. They had resisted fifteen
assaults of the enemy, and had made twenty-one sallies outside of
the defences. He knew that, if they chose, their valiant souls would
sustain them for two weeks longer, and his burning words prevailed.
Once more they rallied, and defended themselves with desperation.
Though shells were bursting over their houses and at their feet,
though sickness was raging in their hospitals, and hunger was
wasting away their kindred, they swore to resist for two weeks
longer. So they could but save Vienna, their fatherland, and their
emperor, they were willing to endure their sufferings to the bitter
end. The Turks pressed closer, but every foot of ground cost them
thousands of men; and their advance was disputed by heroes whose
bodies were weakened with fasting and sickness. Not a morsel of
bread or of fresh meat was to be seen; for a while a cat was
esteemed a great delicacy; and, finally, when the rats were
exhausted, the poor, famished Viennese were glad to eat mice.
Meanwhile Kara Mustapha went about in his litter, calling upon his
men to exterminate these obstinate starvelings, bestowing rewards
upon those who had distinguished themselves, and beheading with his
own cimeter such as displeased or offended him. After each one of
these visits of the commander to his trenches, the Turks made a
fresh assault on the city. Had they made a general attack, the
besieged were lost; for there were within the walls of Vienna but
four thousand men capable of bearing arms, and these were so
exhausted by hunger, that they might easily have been overpowered.
No amount of heroism could supply the want of bodily strength; and
at last Count von Starhemberg himself was forced to acknowledge that
they must ere long capitulate.
Every night from the towers of St. Stephen's signal-rockets
proclaimed to heaven and earth the distress and despair of the
people of Vienna; while the burning eyes of the brave commander were
strained to see a responsive light, and his ears intent to listen
for the answering boom of the cannon that was to have announced
approaching succor. One week of the two had painfully ebbed away; in
eight days more Vienna would be sacked, and the Crescent would
replace the Cross!
On this same 8th of September--so fraught with discouragement to the
suffering inhabitants of Vienna--the Duke of Lorraine held a council
of war in his tent with his allies. The King of Poland was there,
burning with ardor to rescue the capital of Austria; the Elector of
Bavaria had arrived with heavy re-enforcements, which, added to the
troops furnished by Saxony, Swabia, and Franconia, swelled the army
to eighty-four thousand men. Other volunteers from various parts of
Germany had joined the standard of Austria, and all were eager to
uphold the cause of Christendom against the unbelieving infidel.
For three days the Polish troops had been occupied building a
pontoon bridge, upon which, on the 8th day of September, the allied
forces began to cross the Danube.
The first to cross were the King of Poland and the Duke of Lorraine.
No sooner had they gained the opposite bank than the army broke out
into one universal shout of joy.
John Sobiesky's fine face was beaming with exultation. With a
triumphant smile he turned to the duke, who, with his usual serious
expression of countenance, was watching the troops while they came
"The Turks are lost!" said Sobiesky.
"They were lost from the moment your majesty came to our rescue,"
was the courteous reply. "From the moment that you assumed the chief
command, I felt certain of success."
"My dear duke," said the king, warmly, "I am not so dazzled by your
generous praise as not to know which of us is the greater general of
the two. If I have accepted your highness's gracious relinquishment
of the chief command to me, I shall take good care not to exercise
it without advice from yourself. But I am in no trouble now as to
the issue of our contest with the Turks. They are already beaten. A
general who, at the head of two hundred thousand men, suffers us to
construct this bridge within five leagues of his camp, is a man of
no ability. He is as good as beaten." [Footnote: John Sobiesky's own
words.--See Kausler, "Prince Eugene of Savoy," vol. i., p. 22.]
"Provided we reach Vienna before our poor hungry countrymen will
have been forced to surrender."
The king's eyes flashed. "Ay, ay, indeed!" exclaimed he, eagerly;
"every thing depends upon that. The main question is, to march to
Vienna as quick as possible."
"There are two roads to Vienna," replied the duke.
The king nodded affirmatively. "Yes; the road lying through the
valley of the Danube is level; the one that leads to Vienna by the
Kahlenberg is steep and toilsome."
"But much shorter," added the duke.
"Let us then select the route over the Kahlenberg," answered the
king. "Your highness' understands giving sound advice under the garb
of a passing observation."
Their conversation was just then interrupted by the appearance of
two young horsemen, who bowed respectfully as they rode by. One wore
the rich and becoming uniform of the Polish lancers--this was the
crown prince of Poland; the other, more simply attired, was Prince
Eugene of Savoy--the youngest colonel in the Austrian service.
At a signal from the King of Poland, the youths reined in their
"My son," said the king, touching the Polish prince on the shoulder,
"let me congratulate you that you are about to engage the enemy
under the command of one of the most distinguished generals of the
The duke shook his head, and smilingly addressed Eugene: "Prince of
Savoy," said he, "you see before you a king whose least glory is his
crown. Let him be your model, and when you confront the enemy let
the thought of John Sobiesky's fame urge you to deeds of prowess."
"Your highness," replied Eugene, "not only when I confront the
enemy, but every day and every hour of my life, will I look back
with emotion to the time when I beheld the two most eminent
commanders of the age contemplating each other's greatness without
envy, and accepting each other's suggestions without cavil; and I
trust that, from the sight, I may receive inspiration as far as lies
within my capacity, to emulate their moral as well as their military
"You will ere long have the opportunity of showing us how proximity
to John Sobiesky inspires men to valor," replied the duke. "We are
about to march to Vienna. Which road would you take, if you had to
choose for the army?"
Eugene's large black eyes wandered over the horizon until they
rested on the summit of Kahlenberg. "If we gain those heights, we
overlook not only our friends, but the entire camp of the enemy."
"Well answered," said John Sobiesky. "You are a military man by
intuition, I see, and are destined to make a figure in the world.
You are small in person, but would be great in council. Men of your
size and build are more frequently gifted with military genius than
those of lofty stature. I suppose," continued he, smiling, "that it
is because the brain, which reasons, and the heart that feels, lie
close together, and so can help each other. But," said he,
interrupting himself, "here comes the Elector Max Emmanuel. Allow me
to bid him welcome."
The Duke of Lorraine followed him with his eyes, as, in company with
the crown prince, the king rode forward to meet the handsome Prince
"The Poles did well," said he to himself, "to prefer John Sobiesky
to me; and, if I had known him personally, never would I have been
his competitor for a throne. He is better fitted to reign and govern
"Has your highness any commands for me?" asked Eugene.
"Yes, my dear young friend," replied the duke, solemnly. "We draw
near to Vienna. Avenge your brother's death, but prize and cherish
your own life. Do not wantonly expose your person, nor seek for
danger, he alone is a hero whose valor is restrained by prudence. I
shall place you, nevertheless, where danger is imminent and glory to
be earned; so that, when I recommend you for promotion to the
emperor, the world may not say that you owe your advancement to
"Your highness's advice shall be followed to the letter," replied
Eugene, earnestly. "I will despise danger, that I may avenge my
brother; yet will I guard my life, that I may be the protector of
his wife and children. But nothing will more inspire me to heroic
deeds than the friendship which you so condescendingly evince for
me. May God bless and reward you for your sympathy with my suffering
At the end of three days, the army gained the heights of the
Kahlenberg. The men, tired and sleepy, dispersed, and throw
themselves down to rest under the trees; their commanders rode
farther to the mountain's brow, and there, beneath the fiery rays of
the setting sun, lay prisoned Vienna and her Turkish jailers. But
above was a cloud of smoke and dust, through which ever and anon
leaped columns of fire, while the air was heavy with reverberation
of cannon. The Turks were storming the city.
The besieged, mindful of their promise, were defending themselves
with desperation. With imperturbable calm, Count von Starhemberg
headed every sortie, and his quick eye perceived every little
advantage that could be taken; while his wise precautions saved many
a life, and warded off many a peril. His redoubts were no sooner
damaged than repaired; trench after trench was dug; street by street
defended with palisades, improvised of rods and beams.
As night came on, the heavy firing of the Turks ceased, and a dead
stillness followed the terrible boom of cannon. The streets were
ploughed with balls, the ashes of many a consumed building were
scattered about by the wind, while here and there a fitful blaze was
seen issuing from a shapeless mass that once had been the stately
home of some proud Austrian noble. Pale, ghastly figures wandered
among the ruins, searching for food, which, alas! they rarely found.
But, amid this "abomination of desolation," they still lifted their
eyes to heaven for help, and still clung to hope of rescue.
Count Starhemberg, as usual, had ascended the tower of St.
Stephen's; while in the city below every form was prostrate in
prayer. With his own hand he fired the nightly rocket, and watched
its myriads of stars as they shot heavenward, illumined the
darkness, and then fell back into nothingness. His heart beat
painfully, as the last scintillations went out, and left but the
pall of night behind. But he gazed on in silence, and in anguish
unutterable. Suddenly he unclasped his rigid hands, for oh! joy!
joy! there was light on the summit of the Kahlenberg; the signal
darts up into the sky, and from Herman's peak the cannon proclaims
that help is nigh!
One cry of rapture burst from the lips of all who stood around the
commander; the warder grasped his speaking-trumpet, and cried out to
the crowd below, "The signal is answered!"
The sound was caught up by the eager multitude, the blessed tidings
were borne from street to street, and the people with one accord
knelt down and thanked God. Noble and simple, aged and young, all
hastened to St. Stephen's. Men clasped hands; and strangers that had
never met before, embraced one another like friends and kinsmen.
Hope had softened all hearts, joy's electric touch had made a
thousand interests one: men were no longer segregate, their lives
were blended into one great emotion.
Count von Starhemberg was so overcome, that for some moments his
tongue refused him utterance. When he spoke, his voice, so
accustomed to command, trembled and grew soft--soft and gentle as
that of a young maiden.
"Will some one fetch me pen and paper?" said he. And when a
portfolio was brought for him to write upon, he could scarcely
command his hand while it traced these few words:
"Lose no time; in Heaven's name, be quick, or we are lost!"
"Who will venture to swim across the Danube, and deliver this paper
to the Duke of Lorraine?" added he.
Three young men volunteered at once. Count von Starhemberg chose the
one that seemed the strongest, and gave it to him.
"Promise me that you will deliver it or die!"
"I promise," was the reply of the young man, who, without tarrying
another moment, sprang down the steps and disappeared.
In a few hours, another rocket from the mountain-top announced the
safe arrival of the messenger, and promised speedy relief.
Yes, deliverance was at hand. At gray dawn, the army were ready to
march, and the King of Poland, the Duke of Lorraine, and Louis of
Baden were in the saddle. When all were assembled, John Sobiesky
dismounted, and kneeling before the altar of Leopold's chapel,
addressed a prayer to Heaven for a blessing on the approaching
struggle. In his priestly robes, within the chancel, stood Marcus
Avianus, the inspired Capuchin whom the pope had sent to Germany to
preach this new crusade. His burning words had done as much, for the
cause of Christianity as the stalwart arms of Austria's best
warriors; and now, as he raised his hands on high, and eighty
thousand men knelt to receive his blessing, their hearts throbbed
with joy, for they felt that the God of battles would be with them
The rites done, John Sobiesky bestowed the honor of knighthood upon
his son, "thereby commemorating the proudest day of their lives;"
and at the conclusion of the ceremony, he addressed the Polish army,
exhorting them to fight as became a Christian host in a cause "where
death was not only the path to glory, but the way to heaven."
"I have but one command to give my men," said he, in conclusion.
"Let them follow their king, and wherever he is to be seen, there
let them know that the battle rages fiercest."
A tumultuous shout was the answer to this exhortation. It gathered
strength as it passed along the ranks, until it awoke a thousand
echoes from the mountain-tops around; while the rays of the sun,
like a consecrating fire, glistened from the point of every bayonet,
and flashed from the blade of every waving sword.
The cheers of the Christians were borne on the summer air, until the
sound reached the very camp of the Turks. It sent consternation to
the heart of Kara Mustapha, as he lay smoking his hookah under a
tent of silk and velvet. For sixty days he had besieged Vienna with
his hundreds of thousands. Against its obstinate defenders warfare
had failed; and now that hunger was about to do what he had vainly
tried--to paralyze their valor, here came succor, to render his
victory doubtful. For he well knew that the Christians were full of
ardor, while his Turks were tired of fighting. That he might excite
their thirst for blood, he assembled all his prisoners, men, women,
and children, together, and, within view of his army, ordered them
all to be massacred. The work of death began, and the expiring cries
of his victims were the Paynim's answer to the shouts of the
Christians, that were raising their hearts to God.
That fearful wail was heard, too, by the beleaguered men of Vienna;
and the thought of their butchered kindred gave strength to their
famished bodies. They hungered no longer for food! they thirsted for
And now the bells, which for sixty days had been silent, rang out
their alarum, calling all to the last great struggle. The sick
raised their heads, and felt the glow of health thrilling through
their fevered veins; the aged worked like youths--the youths like
demi-gods. And full of hope, full of valor, the brave citizens of
Vienna awaited the coming of their liberators.
The main body of the allied army was commanded by the Electors of
Bavaria and of Saxony; the right wing, by John Sobiesky; the left,
by the Duke of Lorraine and Louis of Baden. The plan of the attack
had been made according to the suggestions of the King of Poland.
At the side of Louis of Baden rode Eugene of Savoy, his sorrows all
forgotten in the excitement of the occasion. His countenance beamed
with animation, his eyes darted fire. His black war-horse, too,
partook of his enthusiasm: he pranced, leaped into the air, and
neighed as if in defiance of the barbs that were to bear his enemies
into battle that morning.
"My dear cousin," said Eugene to Louis, "I implore you let me go
early into action. Give me something to do as soon as we are in
sight of the enemy, and thereby prove me your love."
"You shall have your wish, Eugene. Your division is to open the
engagement. As soon as you hear the discharge of the cannon from the
heights of the Kahlenberg, you advance."
With a joyful wave of the hand, Eugene sprang forward, and placed
himself at the head of his dragoons, where, rigid as a statue, he
stood with his eyes raised to the summit of the Kahlenberg.
The first shot rolled like thunder through the valley gorges. The
men grasped their muskets, the horses pawed the ground. The second,
the third, followed, and every eye glistened, and every heart
throbbed. The fourth--THE FIFTH!
"En avant!" cried Eugene; and the dragoons galloped forward. They
were to drive the enemy from the valley of the Nussberg, and force
the pass of Heiligenstadt. But the Turks disputed every inch of the
ground, making breastworks of every hillock, trenches of every
hollow. They defended the way with such desperation that the
Austrian cavalry began to waver.
An exclamation of fury was heard from the lips of Eugene. "Victory
or death!" cried he; and with these words the intrepid youth struck
spurs into his horse, and sprang through the pass; his sabre,
flashing like lightning through the air, as right and left it dealt
destruction to the Janizaries that disputed his passage.
Amazed at such prowess, the dragoons gave one simultaneous cheer,
and leaped into the enemy's midst. From that moment they moved on
like a granite wall; onward in the track of their gallant commander,
all peril disregarding, they fought their way, until, inspired by
his heroism, encouraged by the soul-stirring tones of his blithe
young voice, they won the pass, and forced the enemy back.
Meanwhile the imperial and Saxon forces had advanced from the
Kahlenberg, in one dense column, the sight of which had sorely
shaken the confidence of Kara Mustapha in his power to resist them.
On swept the mighty mass, and in a few moments the deep thunder of
the cannon reverberated along the mountain gorges; the clashing of
swords and the rattling of musketry mingled with the cries of the
wounded, and the groans of the dying; while all above was fire and
smoke. The passes were reddened with blood, which drop by drop
flowed down their declivities, until it met another life-destroying
current on its way; and both glided onward to the Danube, empurpling
its waters with the mingled gore of Christian and Paynim.
The battle raged, without any decisive advantage, until long after
noon. At four o'clock, however, the Ulans of the King of Poland were
about to be overpowered by superior numbers, when re-enforcement
came in the form of a charge on the right wing of the Turks, by the
troops under Charles of Lorraine. Those flying squadrons, beneath
whose horses' hoofs the ground is trembling as if upheaved by an
earthquake, are headed by Eugene--the indomitable Eugene. On his
foam-flecked steed, with a sword in his hand that is gory to the
hilt, comes the "little abbe," who was too much of a weakling to
obtain a commission in the army of the King of France. If his mother
could see him now, she would confess that he was no fit aspirant for
a scarlet hat.
Side by side rode Eugene and Louis of Baden, both heading that
bloody chase. Over heaps of corpses, over struggling horses, falling
timbers, through smoke and fire, they dashed toward the gates of
Vienna. Count Starhemberg was there with his handful of braves,
making gallant resistance to the Janizaries. But for the mad charge
of Eugene, the little garrison would soon have been cut to pieces.
But the attack on their rear surprised the Janizaries; they fell
back, only to be confronted by the Duke of Lorraine, and, believing
resistance to be useless, they fled.
The King of Poland meanwhile was within the gates engaged in a hand-
to-hand fight with the enemy in the streets. He was not left long to
struggle without help. Once more Eugene and his cavalry came to the
rescue; and now the Turkish legions are flying for their lives,
while the Christians are shouting for joy and victory!
Kara Mustapha, who was to have made his seat of empire at Vienna,
has suddenly become a panic-stricken adventurer. With that singular
absence of fortitude which so often distinguishes tyrants in
adversity, he fell to weeping like a child, and went whining for
protection to the Khan of Tartary.
"Save me, save me!" was his cowardly cry.
The khan shook his head. "We know the King of Poland too well," said
he. "Nobody can withstand him."
And from this moment nothing was thought of, in the Turkish camp,
but flight. Kara Mustapha's war-horse, with its housings of purple
velvet worked in pearls, was too heavy to bear him away from Vienna;
he mounted a fleet-footed Arabian, and sped away without thought of
the treasures he was leaving behind. His costly tent, his girdles of
diamonds, his cimeters inlaid with rubies and sapphires, his six
hundred sacks of piastres, all fell into the hands of John Sobiesky.
While joy and jubilee prevailed throughout the streets of Vienna,
Eugene of Savoy was on his way to the dwelling of his widowed
sister: but, while he sorrowed with Urania and her orphans, his name
was being borne upon the trumpet-blast of fame, as chief among the
heroes that rescued Vienna from the infidel.
THE FALL OF BUDA.
As a signal that the conference was at an end, the Emperor Leopold
rose from his arm-chair. The president and vice-president followed
his example, and the other members of the council bowed and retired.
The Margrave of Baden and Count von Starhemberg remained standing by
the green table, while the emperor, who had crossed the room, now
stood vacantly staring out of a window, drumming with his fingers on
one of the panes.
His two counsellors were perfectly au fait to the import of this
drumming; it meant that the emperor's thoughts were with his army,
which was still in the field, although three years had gone by since
the siege of Vienna. During this protracted struggle both parties
had fought bravely, but neither one had as yet prevailed against the
other. In 1684 the Austrians had gained a brilliant victory over the
allied enemy; but, in the course of the same year, the Turks, by
their obstinate valor, had forced the Duke of Lorraine to abandon
the siege of Buda, which, since then, had remained in their
possession, and gave them entire control of Hungary.
The emperor's thoughts, then, were at Buda, while his fingers still
drummed on the window-pane. At last he turned around.
"Any news from the army?" asked he, hastily.
"None, your majesty," replied the margrave. "Since the news of the
junction of the Duke of Lorraine's forces with those of Prince Louis
of Baden and Max Emmanuel, nothing further has been heard as to the
progress of the siege."
"And that, of course, signifies that there is nothing good to be
told," added Von Starhemberg. "If the Duke of Lorraine had met with
any success, he would not have failed to send a courier with the
"Unhappily, since he has had command of the army, he has had many
more reverses to communicate than victories," replied the margrave,
with a sigh.
"You forget his brilliant victory at Gran last year," returned the
emperor. "Away with your petty ill-will toward the duke! Forget your
personal grievances in admiration of his heroism."
"Sire," replied the margrave, somewhat impetuously, "there are
personal grievances which will not allow themselves to be forgotten.
The Duke of Lorraine, in his dispatches, has not only accused me of
neglect in the provisioning and arming of his troops, but has also
declared me unqualified for my position, and has recommended another
man as minister of war."
"And yet you retain your position," replied the emperor; "so that
neither one of you has influence enough with me to injure the other.
I have great confidence, nevertheless, in the judgment of my
brother-in-law; and, if occasionally he is of opinion that battles
are not to be planned on the green table of a council-chamber, but
in the field by the man, who is to fight them--not in theories but
in praxis--I am inclined to think that he is right."
"One thing I hope that your majesty will do me the justice to
remember," answered Von Starhemberg, in a tone of vexation. "It is
this: the war department, at my suggestion, advised that Buda should
not be assaulted, but that the passes lying behind the city should
be seized, Stuhlweissemberg besieged, and Buda, by this means, cut
off from all intercourse with Turkey. Thus it would have fallen
without bloodshed; whereas we have nothing to expect, as the result
of a second direct attack, but the news of a second repulse."
"Should the Duke of Lorraine be forced to raise the siege a second
time, I hope that the war department will remember that it was I,
and not my commander-in-chief, who rejected their advice. So that,
if we should be unfortunate, mine be the blame of the disaster, for
I ordered the attack."
At this moment the door of the council-chamber was opened with some
precipitation, and the chamberlain of the day appeared on the
"What do you come to announce?" asked Leopold.
"Sire, a bearer of dispatches from his highness of Lorraine."
"Ah, lupus in fabula" said the emperor, with a smile. "Well--let in
"Your majesty," interrupted the Margrave of Baden, "would it not be
better for me to receive the dispatches, and communicate their
contents to you? The news of another disaster will be a great blow:
your mind should be prepared to receive it."
"I am prepared for whatever it may please God to assign," replied
Leopold, reverently. "If the news be bad, it is my duty to confront
it like a man; if good, let me taste it pure, as it comes from the
lips of the messenger. Let him enter!"
The chamberlain stepped back, made a sign to the page in the
anteroom, and both sides of the door were flung open.
"Our bearer is a person of distinction," said Leopold to himself.
"Both doors are opened for a reigning prince, a grandee of Spain,
Just then the bearer of dispatches appeared--a small, slight person,
in a simple uniform, but his breast well covered with orders, both
Austrian and Spanish.
"Prince Eugene of Savoy!" exclaimed Leopold, with evident pleasure.
And he made several steps toward the prince.
"Prince Eugene of Savoy," muttered the margrave, with an ugly frown;
for well he knew that such an envoy would never have been chosen to
be the bearer of evil tidings.
Meanwhile Eugene rapidly crossed the room, and knelt before the
"You forget," said Leopold, raising him, "that a knight of the
Golden Fleece is not obliged to conform to the court custom of
kneeling. His order kneel before the Almighty alone. Moreover, as
grandee of Spain, your highness has a right to appear with covered
"Sire, I came hither neither as a grandee nor a knight. I came as
the squire of my noble lord, the Duke of Lorraine, and as the
soldier and subject of my emperor. Let me, then, greet my sovereign
as my heart dictates."
With these words Eugene knelt again.
"Now," said Leopold, "rise, loyal subject, and satisfy my
impatience. Tell me, in one word, has Buda fallen?"
"Yes, sire," was the exulting reply.
The emperor raised his grateful eyes to heaven, while his two
councillors exchanged glances of dissatisfaction. Leopold saw this,
and addressed himself to both.
"Gentlemen," said he, "pray remember that you were opposed to the
siege of Buda, and that it was undertaken at the request of the Duke
"Your majesty told us that you had commanded it yourself," answered
the margrave. "The duke, then, has merely carried out orders!"
"Orders given because of his request. He proved to me that Buda
could be taken; and, when I commanded this second attempt to reduce
it, I merely yielded to his better judgment. But let us change the
subject.--You are most welcome," continued he, to Prince Eugene.
"And now let us hear the details of your glad tidings."
"Sire, the siege of Buda is an epic, worthy of the pen of a Homer.
None but a great poet can do justice to the deeds of valor of the
Duke of Lorraine."
"Try you, nevertheless," replied Leopold. "But hold! It were selfish
to enjoy your narrative alone. The empress and the court shall
partake of our happiness to day. Count von Starhemberg, oblige me by
opening the door, and recalling the chamberlain."
The count reluctantly obeyed, and the chamberlain reappeared.
"You will announce to the ladies and gentlemen in waiting, that I
request the presence of the court. I myself will conduct the empress
hither." Then, with a wave of his hand to Prince Eugene, he added,
"Await our return."
Not long after, the empress, conducted by her imperial husband,
entered the room and took her seat. The ladies and gentlemen in
waiting stood behind, and the margrave and Count von Starhemberg
were on either side of the emperor.
"And now, Prince Eugene of Savoy," cried Leopold, "let us hear the
details of the fall of Buda."
All eyes were turned upon Eugene, who, without boldness or
bashfulness, calmly surveyed the brilliant assembly before him. In
his plain, dark uniform, his black hair worn naturally and without
powder, he presented a striking contrast to the courtiers in their
magnificently-embroidered Spanish doublets, and huge, powdered wigs.
He began his narrative, by alluding to the fact that for one hundred
and twenty years, in spite of six different attempts on the part of
Austria to retake it, the ancient capital of Hungary had been in the
hands of the Turks. He quoted the well-known saying of John
Sobiesky, "Buda has drunk such torrents of Christian blood, that
every handful of earth around its walls is red and moist with gore."
He made a few brief remarks on the subject of the last unsuccessful
attack, two years before; and then, with all the enthusiasm of a
warrior-poet, he entered upon the narration of the seventh siege.
He spoke of the various stratagems, sallies, and skirmishes that
preceded the final assault. On the 18th of June the city was
invested, and by the end of July the allied army had effected an
entrance, and captured so many streets that the besieged had been
compelled to retire within the fortress. At the same time,
combustibles were thrown into the magazine, which exploded with
fearful destruction, and the Duke of Lorraine, compassionating the
condition of the brave old commander, Pacha Abdurrahmen, sent a
messenger, advising him to capitulate. Abdurrahmen, for all answer,
informed the duke that Allah and the Prophet would shortly punish
the audacity of the Christians, and, by way of anticipating Divine
justice, he caused one hundred Saxons, who had been captured a few
days before, to be hanged within view of the besiegers.
This vindictive act was the signal for a new assault, and the
fortress was attacked on three sides. The assailants were several
times repulsed, for the Turks fought like demons. Undismayed, they
stood upon the walls, pouring fire and shot into the Christian ranks
until the hair was singed from their heads, and their scorched
clothes dropped from their bodies. If the allies were heroic in
their attack, the Turks were not less so in their defence. Finally
the women, too, were seen, some carrying ammunition, some bringing
refreshments to the gunners, while others, singing wild strains of
Turkish embateria, hurled stones from the walls upon the invading
More than two thousand Austrians had fallen, but they had succeeded
in establishing themselves within one of the bastions, and had
thereby obtained possession of the prison-tower. The day following,
however. Abdurrahmen sprung a mine, which killed one hundred of the
imperial troops, and so terrified the others, that they retired in
confusion, and the bastion remained in the hands of the Turks.
Once more the Duke of Lorraine offered terms to the besieged, which
a second time were indignantly refused. For the grand-vizier had
arrived with re-enforcements, and on a plain just behind the city of
Buda his troops were drawn up in battle array. The besieged now
commenced an attack upon the besiegers; one of their bombs burst
almost at the feet of the Duke of Lorraine, killing and wounding
several of his staff; another fell into a heap of hand-grenades,
which produced a frightful conflagration.
On the first of September Abdurrahmen was again summoned to
surrender. The white-haired hero presented two documents to the
envoys, one of which was from the high-priest of the Prophet at
Constantinople, the other from the Sultan. The first enjoined it
upon the pacha, as a religious duty, to defend Buda as the key to
the Ottoman empire; the other contained these few emphatic words:
"Either fall as a martyr before the sword of the invader, or die as
a traitor by the blade of the headsman."
"You see," added Abdurrahmen, calmly, "that no discretion is allowed
me. I must prevail against you, or fight until I fall."
This decided the question of capitulation forever; and although the
grand-vizier was there with his reserves, the Duke of Lorraine
determined to storm the fortress anew. It was a desperate resolve;
hut, like Abdurrahmen, he had made up his mind to conquer or die.
At this point of his narration, Eugene paused for breath. The
emperor, perceiving that he was fatigued, made a sign to one of the
pages in attendance, who thereupon placed a chair for him--a
compliment never before paid by a sovereign of Austria to any man
below the rank of a reigning prince.
"Prince Eugene of Savoy," said Leopold, "as a grandee of Spain, and
a knight of the Golden Fleece, you have a right to be seated in the
presence of your sovereign. Make use of the privilege, then; for if
you stand much longer, I see that you will not have strength to
finish your recital; and I would not abridge it by a word. It sounds
like martial music to my enraptured ear."
"Sire," replied Eugene, accepting the chair, "'tis no wonder if the
boom of the cannon sound like music to the son of Charles V.; above
all, when it thunders to proclaim your majesty's success. On the 2d
of September began the last assault upon the fortress of Buda. It
was impossible not to admire the intrepidity of our enemies: to a
man, they seemed to have sworn, like their commander, to defend the
post or die amid its ruins. But your majesty's troops were as
resolute as they. After a terrible conflict fought over the bodies
of their slain comrades, they cut to pieces a detachment of
Janizaries that had been sent to oppose their passage."
"'No quarter!' was the watchword of the Moslems. 'No quarter!' cried
the Christians in return. 'No quarter!' shouted the Bavarians, as
they mounted a breach in the fortress, and fought hand to hand with
its frenzied defenders. The latter poured out in such numbers that
the Bavarians wavered, and perhaps might have been repulsed, had not
the gallant Louis of Baden mounted the breach himself, and called
upon his men to follow. They obeyed; the Bavarians rallied, and the
prince ordered a fresh attack. Thanks to his valor and able
generalship, the Turks were forced back, and fled in confusion; some
finding refuge within the walls, others, in their dismay, plunging
into the moat. The Bavarians followed the fugitives, and now from
every castle-window waved the white flag of surrender."
"To the hero of Buda, the brave Abdurrahmen, our commanders would
gladly have granted an honorable retreat. But he refused mercy at
the hands of his admiring antagonists. Alone he stood, sabre in
hand, defending the breach against our advancing troops, until he
fell, pierced by twenty balls, while the bodies of his slain foes
lay like a monument of his heroism around him. With the death of
Abdurrahmen the struggle ceased, and that night, as a last act of
defiance, the Turks sprung a mine in the fortress, and reduced it to
a heap of ruins."
"The next morning, the grand-vizier retreated, and the plan of
attack, inspired by the genius of the Duke of Lorraine, had
destroyed the prestige of the Sultan in Hungary. Scarcely inferior
to this great commander was the ability displayed by Prince Louis of
Baden, and Max Emmanuel. No man who beheld them can ever forget the
sight of these two great heroes, handsome and brave as Hector and
"Sire, my tale is ended. Buda has fallen, and its conquerors have
"You say, your tale is at an end, Prince Eugene," replied the
emperor, smiling. "But you have omitted something in your recital."
"What is it, your majesty?"
"You have not once mentioned the name of the Prince of Savoy; and
yet he must have been there. You have exalted the genius of the Duke
of Lorraine, and you have likened his two generals to the heroes of
antiquity. It is said that the Prince of Savoy is the inseparable
companion of Prince Louis and Max Emmanuel. Where, then, was he,
while his friends were gaining immortality?"
"Sire, he was with them; but, as he did no more than his duty, I
have nothing further to say."
"It is your duty, as bearer of dispatches from your commander-in
chief, to answer my inquiries, let them relate to whomsoever they
will. Where were you, then, while your friends were astonishing you
with their valor?"
"He was at their side, your majesty. Before the siege, the three
friends had sworn never to surrender to the enemy. It was therefore
natural that the Prince of Savoy should follow the example of his
superior officers, and imitate their gallantry."
"But was he in no danger? Was he not wounded?"
"Sire, on such a day, no soldier could hope to escape from danger;
above all, the officers who led them into action. The Prince of
Savoy's horse was shot under him, and he himself was slightly
wounded in the hand by an arrow."
"Where was he stationed on that last day?"
"He was ordered to skirmish with the enemy, and prevent them from
making sorties on the besiegers."
"A hard task, for one so young."
"Yes, sire; for it condemned him to inaction, while his comrades
were gaining glory. But before the close of the day, fate befriended
him. The grand-vizier having made no attempt to join the besieged,
the Prince of Savoy was so fortunate as to come in with his
dragoons, just as the Bavarians were about to be repulsed from the
"Ah! I thought so!" exclaimed Leopold; "and doubtless his appearance
had much to do with the successful storming of the castle. And how
did the Duke of Lorraine reward his gallantry?"
"Sire, he was rewarded far, far beyond his deserts. The Duke of
Lorraine, in presence of the army, folded him in his embrace."
"That was well done. Come hither, Prince Eugene. I, too, would
reward you as the Duke of Lorraine did."
Eugene hastened to the emperor, who folded him in his arms, and then
led him to the empress.
"Your majesty," said he to his wife, "I present you a young hero,
who for three years has been gaining renown in the service of
Austria. I recommend him to your favor, and beg that you, too, will
bestow some reward upon him."
The empress turned her soft blue eyes upon the prince, who bent his
knee, and kissed the hand she extended to him. "I will pray for
you," said she, "as long as I live; and, as a testimonial of my
regard, I beg you to accept my husband's portrait."
Unclasping from her neck a heavy gold chain, to which was attached a
miniature set in brilliants, she threw it over Eugene's shoulder
with these words:
"Let the emperor's likeness be to you a souvenir of your past
heroism, and may it inspire you for the future to serve him with
loyalty and love."
"Your majesty," replied Eugene, "of my own free will I chose the
Emperor of Austria for my sovereign; but from this day forth I am
pledged to serve him as his native-born subject: and the chain so
graciously bestowed by your majesty, I shall wear as emblematic of
my fealty, for life."
The emperor signed to Eugene to rise, and addressed himself to all
present. "Vienna, too, shall have her share in this day's joy. The
crescent, which for more than a hundred years has proclaimed to the
world that Austria's capital was once in the hands of the infidel,
shall be taken down from the tower of St. Stephen's. We have won the
right to displace the accursed emblem, and it shall once more give
place to the symbol of Christianity!"
The crescent of which the emperor spoke, had been on the tower of
St. Stephen's since the year 1529, when Vienna was besieged by the
Sultan Soliman. His guns were being constantly directed against the
tower; and the Viennese having sent a deputation to request that the
Turks would not demolish their beautiful cathedral, Soliman
consented to spare it on one condition. This was, that the cross
should be removed, and the crescent take its place. In their
extremity, the promise was made; and, from that day, the Christian
church had borne the hated symbol of Mohammedanism.
At the fall of Buda, Leopold refused to be bound any longer by the
promise extorted from his ancestors; and, in commemoration of the
capture of this important post, a cross was erected on the tower,
with this inscription: "Luna deposuit, et crux exaltata. Anno quo
Buda a Turcis capta, MDCLXXXVI."
With the capture of Buda, the campaign of 1686 closed. The army went
into winter quarters, and the officers all congregrated in Vienna,
there to indemnify themselves for past hardships by a few months of
Eugene of Savoy participated very little in the gayety of court-
life. While his companion-in-arms, Louis of Baden, plunged headlong
into the vortex of pleasure, the shy young Frenchman led a most
retired existence, in his little hotel in the Herrengasse. He had
purchased this residence for his brother's widow and children,
intending to make it not only their home, but his own. The young
widow, after spending two years with her brother-in-law, forsook the
world and retired to a convent, there to lay her burden of grief at
the feet of her Lord. Her children she committed to the care of
their great-grandmother, the Princess de Carignan; and Eugene was
left to the solitude of a bachelor home, without one friendly voice
to bid him welcome to its cold hearth.
Even Conrad, his faithful Conrad, was absent. Eugene had sent him to
Turin with messages to Victor Amadeus, which he had not thought it
prudent to write. For Conrad was not only loyal and affectionate; he
had proved himself a person of such uncommon ability, that he was
now his lord's secretary, no longer his servant. He had the care of
his money, the administration of his affairs, and was his trusty and
confidential friend. Eugene missed him sorely; for Conrad had
accompanied him "that night" to the Palais Royal, and although
Laura's name had never passed his lips, still her lover found some
solace in the companionship of the man who had tended him during
that dreadful illness, and who, he knew full well, had learned from
his unconscious lips the secret of his love and its blight.
Eugene was in his cabinet. He had been engaged in the study of
mathematics, and the perusal of Julius Caesar's campaigns; after
which, by way of recreation, he sat down to his escritoire, and,
unfolding a sheet of paper, began to make plans of palaces and
He was so absorbed in his drawing, that he neither heard nor saw the
door open, and give entrance to a handsome young man in a rich
Spanish costume. For one moment the visitor paused on the threshold,
and smilingly surveyed Eugene; then, crossing the room on tiptoes,
he laid his hand upon the prince's shoulder.
"I certainly thought I would surprise you inditing a poem or a
letter to the lady of your thoughts, and here I find you drawing
"Max Emmanuel!" exclaimed Eugene, rising joyfully, and embracing his
"Yes, Max Emmanuel, who, having paid his devoirs to his imperial
father-in-law, has come with all haste to ask how it fares with his
friend. The servants told me you were in your cabinet, so I forbade
them to announce me, and made my way hither all alone, that I might
take you by surprise, and find out whether you loved me as much as I
do you. Seeing you intent upon writing, I was quite confident that I
was about to discover a great secret--when lo! I see nothing but a
sheet of drawing-paper, covered with porches and pilasters. Tell me
the truth, Eugene--why is it that, instead of worshipping Aphrodite,
like other youths, you are doing homage to the household gods of
"Why, my dear Max, domestic architecture interests me, because I
expect to build houses, and lay out grounds. I do not worship
Aphrodite like other youths, because--because I know her not."
The elector looked searchingly into Eugene's solemn eyes. "Are you
in earnest?" asked he. "Do you intend me to believe that you are
unacquainted with the ecstasies and tribulations of love?"
"No," replied Eugene, sadly, "for I am too truly your friend to
deceive you, Max. I have loved, but my love was unfortunate; and the
wound it has made in my heart is too painful to be probed. Dear
friend, let us speak of it nevermore!"
"On the contrary, let us speak of it together without reserve. A
hero like Eugene, who has faced death, and so often wrested victory
from his enemies, can surely contemplate such a wound as Cupid's
dart inflicts upon a man! But tell me, what are unfortunate loves?
mine have all been crowned with myrtle, and smothered in roses."
Eugene was silent for a time; then raising his large, melancholy
eyes, till they rested affectionately upon the bright, laughing
countenance of his friend, he spoke: "I can well believe that you
know nothing of the pangs inflicted by unhappy love; for you are
handsome, distinguished, and gifted. I, who am none of these, can
tell you what it is to love adversely. It is to love with passion;
to be parted from the object of your love; and not to know whether
she, like you, is constant to her vows, and suffers from your
absence, as you do from hers. Pray Heaven that love may never come
to you in such a shape as this."
"No danger of me contracting the malady," replied Max; "I am
constitutionally incapable of receiving it. I pluck the fruit or
flower that grows nearest, never suffering my imagination to run
away with my longings. But never mind me and my sybaritic
interpretations of the tender passion. Are your woes irremediable?
Is the lady married?"
"In the eyes of the world she is."
"But not in the eyes of God, you would say. Then her marriage must
have been compulsory or fraudulent?"
"It was fraudulent."
"Then hie we to the pope for justice! His holiness will not refuse
it to such a brave crusader as you, and I myself will be your
advocate. Give me pen and paper. I will write at once, send your
signature and mine to the petition, and dispatch it by a courier
this very day; and then the world will see whether we, who stormed
Buda, may not storm adverse fortune also."
"Dear friend, neither the pope nor you can storm my adverse
fortunes. I must hear from my beloved whether she is true to me
before I take one step to possess myself of her. For three years I
have waited in vain for her summons; and yet my longing arms are
outstretched to clasp her, and never while I live will they encircle
the form of another!"
"Nay--these are the enthusiastic ravings of recent disappointment.
For a few years longer you may sorrow for your first love; but
oblivion will come, all in good time, and you will end by loving
some other woman as deserving as your absent mistress, and more
attainable. After all, ambition, not love, is the business of life;
and Cytherea's groves grow not a flower that can compare with the
laurels which fame places on the brow of the conqueror. It is well
for me that I am ten years your senior, else I should have been
obliged to come behind you, Eugene, and pick up your cast-off
"The Elector of Bavaria is not a man so easily set aside," was
"And yet efforts are continually being made to set him aside," cried
the elector, hastily.
"Who could be so presuming as to lay his sacrilegious hand upon the
well-earned laurels of a warrior so distinguished as your highness?"
"Who? You know quite as well as I, that it is the Duke of Lorraine."
"Ah!" exclaimed Eugene, with enthusiasm, "who can compete with him?
He is the greatest man of the age. As learned as he is brave; as
prudent as he is resolute; a wise statesman, an unrivalled general;
equally distinguished in the cabinet and the field. How fortunate I
have been in having him for my master in the art of war!"
"You are modest," said the elector, derisively. "As for me, I have
no ambition to follow any master in the art of war. I wish to carve
out my own plans and schemes, and I am weary of being subject to the
will of the Duke of Lorraine."
"He is commander-in-chief of the army," urged Eugene. "No army can
be without a head, to which all its members must be subordinate."
"But why must that head be Charles of Lorraine, pray?"
"You surely would not dream of supplanting HIM!" cried Eugene.
"Yes, I would; and I have determined to submit to his dictation no
longer. If I cannot have a command independent of the Duke of
Lorraine, I shall withdraw my troops, remain in Bavaria, and leave
my father-in-law to fight his own battles with the Turks."
"You will do no such thing," said Eugene, laying his hand upon the
prince's shoulder, and looking anxiously into his face. "You will
not endanger the great cause for which we have fought together by
the interference of petty personal jealousies. No, Max Emmanuel, you
are too magnanimous to sacrifice the interests of Christendom to
such considerations. Moreover, you have gained too much renown as a
general, to be overshadowed by the reputation of any man."
"I do not know THAT. I only know that the Duke of Lorraine is in my
way, and that for the future he must stand aside, or I resign my
commission in the imperial army. But these are matters of future
discussion. We will postpone this altercation until the opening of
our next campaign. Meanwhile--do you know what brought me hither
this morning? I come to snatch you away from cold contemplation, and
introduce you to society."
"I have no taste for society," replied Eugene, shrinking from the
very thought. "I love solitude; and mine is peopled with delicious
visions of the past, as well as glorious aspirations for the
"Of what nature are your aspirations? They point to military
distinction, I hope. Do they not?"
"Yes; and I trust that I shall attain it honorably. Fate will assign
me my place; the rest remains for me to do. I have too much to
learn, to mingle with the world."
"Man learns not only through the study of books, but through that of
human nature," exclaimed Max Emmanuel; "and you need never hope for
greatness unless you gain knowledge of the world. I have come to
entice you away, and I will not be refused."
"Whither would you entice me?" asked Eugene, smiling.
"To the paradise of pleasure and of lovely women--to Venice!"
Eugene started, and a glow overspread his pale face. "To Venice!"
echoed he. "To Venice!"
"Ay, prince--to Venice," repeated Max Emmanuel. "To live over the
'Arabian Nights,' by joining the great carnival."
"I have heard that Venice is the seat of all elegance and
refinement, and that no man who has not graduated in its school of
gallantry is considered perfect in worldly accomplishments."
"Then you perceive that you, who are so ambitious, must go with me
to Venice to receive your diploma as a gallant. My heart beats with
joyful impatience as I think of the delights that await us. The
carnival is to be unusually brilliant this year. The Prince of
Hanover, the Margraves of Baireuth and of Baden, the brave
commander-in-chief of the republican armies, Morosini, and Admirals
Molino and Delphini, are all to be there. Morosini himself has
written me an invitation to the carnival, and you must accompany
"No, your highness," replied Eugene, seriously. "I have not been
invited; there is therefore no reason why I should go."
"But if I tell you that I will consider it as a proof of your
friendship," persisted the elector, "then I hope you will no longer
refuse me. Indeed, you would do me the greatest favor."
"How could it possibly be a favor?" asked Eugene.
"I will tell you how. _I_ am impulsive and easily led away: YOUR
principles are firm as a rock. I have known you for three years, and
have closely observed your character, Eugene. You are sensible,
honorable, and independent; you are reserved, yet sincere--brave,
yet discreet. You are more than all this--you are an honest man,
rejoicing in the fame of others, and never blind to worth because of
envy or longing for notoriety."
"My dear, dear friend," interrupted Eugene, "you overrate me beyond-
"No, I do not overrate you," was the elector's reply. "I appreciate
you--that is all; and I want you for a counsellor. You know how a
reigning prince is surrounded by flatterers; how his follies are
heralded to the world as virtues; and, above all, you know how many
snares are spread for such a gilded butterfly by artful women, who
long, not only for his heart, but for his gold; above all, when he
calls himself a prince, and is the son-in-law of an emperor."
"You have a poor opinion of women," smiled Eugene.
"They have given me no reason to think well of them. I know the
whole sex to be fickle, coquettish, and heartless; and yet I am
forever being led astray by their siren voices. And when the wicked
enchantresses smile and swear that they love me, I am ravished--
albeit, I know that every word they utter is a lie."
"You mean when they smiled and swore, I presume," said Eugene; "for
such delusions must have ended with your marriage. The husband of
the beautiful Archduchess Antonia need not fear the wiles of Phryne
"Pardon me," replied the elector, with a woe-begone expression of
countenance, "they have become doubly dangerous, since they are
forbidden fruit. I never was intended to be a model of conjugal
fidelity, and my heart beats fearfully when I think of the starry
eyes, the raven hair, the pearly cheeks of the fair women of Venice!
I have very little confidence in my own valor, if I have to meet
them single-handed. Do, Eugene, come with me; let us be companions-
in-pleasure as we have been companions-in-arms. I depend upon you to
fortify my virtue in the hour of need."
"Your true and loving friend I am and will be ever," replied Eugene;
"but do not ask me to go to Venice. I am too poor to go thither in
such distinguished companionship."
"It is understood that you go as my guest; there can then be no
question of riches or poverty. I have engaged a palace for me and my
suite; my household are already there, and you have nothing to do
but to make yourself at home. Every thing I possess is at my
"Which means that your highness considers me as one of your suite,
and perchance intends to supply me with pocket-money?" said Eugene,
"Nay, Eugene," replied the elector, offering his hand, "I meant
nothing that could offend my friend. I meant that he should share
with me as a brother whatever I possess."
"There are two things, your highness, which no man can share with
another. One is his mistress, the other his honor. I am poor, and
therefore I cannot share with you your advantages of fortune; I am
obscure, and scorn to shine by the borrowed light of your highness's
exalted station. Sooner would I dwell in a cottage than in a palace
at another man's expense."
Max Emmanuel had at first regarded Eugene with unmixed astonishment;
then the expression of his handsome face had changed to one of
admiration and tenderness. As the prince ceased, the elector rose
from his chair, and took both his friend's hands.
"You are, indeed, one of Nature's noblemen," continued he,
affectionately. "Your view of this matter is, as usual, exceptional;
but it is the highest view that can be taken of such an offer; and,
although I am the loser thereby, I honor you for the refusal. I must
then renounce the pleasure I had promised myself of having your
company to Venice," added the elector, with a sigh.
"Perhaps not," returned Eugene. "Any thing on earth I would do to
prove you my friendship; and I may go to Venice, not for the sake of
its beautiful women, but for the pleasure of bearing you company."
"Thank you for that 'may,' Eugene. But let your decision be a speedy
one, I implore you; for I long to quit a court that bristles with so
many tiresome Spanish formalities. I would be glad to start to-
morrow, but I will wait for you. How long must I wait?"
"Only until my secretary returns from Turin. I expect him to-day."
"So much the better. Let me hear from you as soon as possible."
The elector rose and took his leave, while Eugene returned to his
escritoire, and tried to resume his occupation. But his thoughts
were straying to Venice, and his hand lay listless on the paper.
"To Venice!" murmured he. "To Venice--perchance to Laura!"
As he pronounced her name, he broke into one wild ejaculation of
"See her? Oh, yes!" cried he, passionately. "Gaze into my Laura's
eyes, I must--should the sight cost me my life! But--no!" faltered
he, suddenly. "I must not see her. She has forgotten me; and perhaps
at this very hour, when my heart throbs to bursting at the thought
of meeting her again, she jests with her husband at the silly
episode of her foolish fancy for me! Perhaps she rejoices at her
escape from alliance with the disgraced family of the De Soissons,
and blesses Heaven for--peace, doubting heart! I WILL believe--I
WILL hope--Laura, my Laura.--Ah, Conrad, are you here at last?"
And Eugene, springing from his seat, clasped Conrad's hands within
"Yes, your highness," replied Conrad, his face beaming with joy to
see his dear lord. "I have just alighted, and must apologize for my
dusty garb. I did not stop to change my dress."
"You were right--quite right, and it needs no apology. Tell me the
result of your mission. Did you speak with the Duke of Savoy in
"Yes, your highness, he was so kind as to grant me two audiences. I
related to him the entire history of your embarrassments, and their
cause. I told him of the sequestration of your estates by the
covetous King of France, and of the debts which this act of
injustice had compelled you to leave in Paris. He asked me what was
your pay as colonel in the Austrian service. I told him that the pay
was fluctuating as to amount, and uncertain as to receipt; but at
its maximum it might reach the sum of ten thousand florins a year.
Upon this, he said: 'Ten thousand florins a year to maintain a
prince of the house of Savoy, and one of the most distinguished
officers in the imperial service! Well may he be straitened in
purse!' Then I took courage, and told his highness that you could
not possibly live on less than fifteen thousand florins, and that
you appealed to him to assist you in maintaining the dignity of the
ducal house of Savoy, and saving its representatives from absolute
"And what was the answer?"
"He requested me to return the next day, which I did. I was most
kindly received, and his highness said that he hoped he had found a
remedy for your embarrassments, my lord. Although forbidden by the
laws of Savoy to pay a salary to any man not in the service of his
own dukedom, he would be happy to assist your highness from his own
privy purse, until he had arranged matters in a manner more
satisfactory and more secure. Prince Antony of Savoy, who is in a
dying condition, possesses the revenues of five abbeys, which his
highness of Savoy hopes to have transferred to your highness, thus
securing to you a fixed and certain income, not subject to the
sequestrations of the King of France."
"He wrote no letter?"
"No, your highness. The duke gave me four rouleaux of three hundred
ducats each for present need, and bade me take them as his answer to
your highness's letter."
Eugene smiled. "Therein I recognize my prudent cousin, who dares not
trust his promises to writing. But I thank him for his golden
answer. How much did you say you brought, Conrad?"
"Twelve hundred ducats, my lord, which will cover all expenses until
the opening of the spring campaign, when your pay is due."
"But, my dear Conrad, you forget that we have debts to pay. And, by-
the-by, what news do you bring from Paris?"
"Your highness's creditors there were so astounded at the prospect
of being paid, that I almost regretted to be obliged to disturb the
tranquillity with which they had accepted their losses. They were so
grateful that they bade me say they would be perfectly satisfied
with yearly instalments of any amount your highness would be pleased
to pay. So I made arrangements to close your whole indebtedness at
the end of three years."
"A long time for those poor fellows to wait for their dues," said
Eugene, shaking his head. "Conrad, if we obtain the transfer of
those abbey revenues, the first sum we receive therefrom goes to my
creditors in Paris. Remember that." [Footnote: The payment of Prince
Eugene's debts was regarded as something ultra-honorable by the
people of Paris, and the Duchess Elizabeth-Charlotte speaks of it in
her letters as a noble action.--See "Letters of Elizabeth-
"I shall be very sure to remember it, my lord; for it will be an
occasion of rejoicing to many an honest tradesman, each one of whom
will bless your highness's magnanimity."
"Magnanimity! I call it bare justice!" said Eugene. "Give me the
Conrad presented the package, which his lord opened, examining each
account until he had seen all.
"I miss one account here which I would gladly pay," said he, with
"The account of Monsieur Louis?" was Conrad's prompt reply.
Eugene made a motion of assent, while Conrad continued:
"My lord," said he, averting his eyes from the prince, "I went to
Monsieur Louis, as I did to your other creditors. He said that he
could not accept payment for decorations which had never been
completed. He would always hold sacred the remembrance of the day
when your highness fell insensible upon a heap of garlands that were
to have ornamented your reception-rooms, and he had been near to
lift you in his arms. He told me this with tears in his eyes, my
lord; pardon me if I have awakened painful reminiscences by the
recital; but he begged me to convey his message, and I felt bound to
For some moments Eugene kept silence. After a pause, during which
Conrad dared not meet his eye, the prince replied:
"Conrad," said he, "if I should ever afford to have a princely
retinue again, I will take Monsieur Louis into my service. At all
events, if I ever build a house, he shall decorate it, and shall be
well paid for his work.--And now to other things. Did you see her
highness the Duchess of Orleans?"
"Yes, my lord. Her highness was walking in the park when your letter
was handed to her. She sent for me at once, and received me in the
"The pavilion! The pavilion! Go on."
"She inquired minutely as to your health, prospects, and condition.
She asked if you were cheerful. I told her that you were always in
high spirits on the day of a battle. Then she would have me relate
to her the dangers you had incurred, spoke of her grief at hearing
you had been wounded, and seemed never to tire of your praises. Then
she sat down and begged me to wait until she wrote you a short
letter. Here it is, my lord."
Eugene broke the seal; then, as if ashamed of the emotion that was
welling up from his agitated heart, he looked at Conrad, who
understood the appeal, and withdrew.
As the letter was opened, a small bit of paper fell from its folds,
and fluttered to the carpet. Eugene, without observing it, began to
read his letter. It ran thus:
"I cannot refrain from sending you a greeting in my own hand. My
dear prince, I hold you in affectionate remembrance; let me hope
that you have not forgotten me. Every thing remains here as when you
left; false, frivolous, and, to me, as antagonistic as of erst. I
have never been happy since SHE was so cruelly forced away from my
protection. I have had news of her. My daughter, who lives in Turin,
made a visit to Venice lately. I had begged her, if possible, to
give me tidings of----, and to give her my hearty love. They met for
a moment, when she pressed into my daughter's hand a little note for
me. I opened it, but it contained only the slip of paper I enclose.
Be assured of my sincere and constant friendship. ELIZABETH-
"The paper! the paper!" exclaimed Eugene, as, with trembling hands,
he opened the sheet, and found nothing within. "Great God! the
duchess has forgotten to enclose it, and I must away to Paris, this
night, this very--"
Just then his eyes rested on the carpet, and there at his feet lay
the treasured paper. It contained these words:
"I am a prisoner--watched day and night. Have you, too, forgotten
me? I cannot believe it; and, after three long years of silence and
of suffering, I still await your coming."
As Eugene read these tender words, he sank on his knees, and pressed
the paper to his lips. "Forgive me, my Laura," murmured he. "I was
weak in faith, and unworthy of you. But I will love you all the more
for my injustice. I come! I come!"
He rose from his knees, calling for Conrad, who was in the
antechamber, awaiting a summons to return. Great was his
astonishment when he beheld Eugene advancing toward him, his lips
parted with a happy smile, his eyes beaming with animation, his
whole bearing transformed. What could it mean?
"Conrad," cried he, and his very voice had a joyful peal, like the
chime of marriage-bells--"Conrad, we must leave Vienna this evening.
Let everything be in readiness. If we have not gold enough with our
cousin's ducats, borrow more; but be ready to go with me at once.
Stay--I had almost forgotten. Go to the palace; see the chamberlain
of his highness the Elector of Bavaria, and tell him to announce to
the prince that Prince Eugene of Savoy leaves this evening for
Venice. That is all. Make haste, Conrad! Away with you, and fly back
as soon as possible, for I tell you that we must be on our road
THE MARQUIS STROZZI.
The Marquis Strozzi was alone in his cabinet, pacing the room with
clouded brow and compressed lips. Now and then he stopped before the
window which opened on a balcony overlooking the Canale Grande; and
the sight of the gayly-decked gondolas that shot hither and thither
with their freight of youth and youthful glee, seemed to intensify
his discontent, and rouse him to positive anger.
"They are shouting their stupid welcome to these foreign princes,"
muttered he, "and presently she will be attracted by the sound, and
seek to know what it means. My God!" ejaculated he, striking his
forehead, "this love is the curse of my life. It will drive me to
madness, and yet--and yet I cannot overcome it. To work, then, to
work! I must increase my number of spies."
In the centre of the room, on a table of Florentine mosaic, lay a
little golden hell, fashioned by the master-hand of Benvenuto
Cellini. The marquis rang it gently, and, before he had replaced it,
a secret door in the wall slided back, giving entrance to a masked
figure, enveloped in a long black cloak.
Strozzi surveyed him for a moment, then, throwing himself upon a
divan, he was lost in contemplation of the frescoes by Paul
Veronese, which decorated the ceiling of this luxurious apartment.
Meanwhile the mask had carefully closed the door, and stood
Finally Strozzi condescended to speak. "Take off your mask." The man
obeyed, and Strozzi gazed upon a sinister face, disfigured by a
long, purple scar, which reached from the left temple to the chin.
"Do you know," continued the marquis, "that if you were to appear
unmasked in the market-place, every child in Venice would recognize
"Yes, excellenza," was the humble reply.
"How did you come by that scar?" sneered the patrician.
Antonio moved impatiently, and glanced imploringly at the marquis.
The latter merely repeated the question.
Antonio heaved a sigh, and his head dropped to his breast.
"It was inflicted by my father," murmured he, almost inaudibly.
"Speak louder," said Strozzi. "Why did he inflict it?"
The man's eyes shot fire, but he dared not remonstrate. His glance
fell before the cold glitter of Strozzi's black orbs, as he muttered
in reply, "I was trying to get at his money, when he rushed in upon
me, and gashed my face with a dagger."
"Upon which YOU plunged your poniard into his throat, and made an
end of your respectable parent on the spot."
"Excellenza," cried Antonio, in tones of deep emotion, "I had but
raised it to ward off the blow, when my father rushed upon it, and
so met his fate."
The marquis laughed. "Rushed upon it--did he? Of course you are an
innocent lamb of a parricide, and the judgment passed upon your act
was a most iniquitous one. It was doubtless a shame that you were
publicly maimed, and then led back to prison to await your
execution. Possibly you may remember the night that followed your
punishment, when a priest entered your cell, and, on condition that
you paid him implicit obedience for five years, offered you life and
the release of your paramour--the woman for whose sake you murdered
"Poor Caterina!" sighed Antonio. "To think that, for the life of a
babe not a day old, she should be imprisoned for five years!"
"Why, then, did she murder it?" asked Strozzi.
"To save herself from the vengeance of her husband, excellenza. But
I--I have kept my word, and have served you faithfully, have I not?"
"Yes--you are a tolerably submissive hound," said Strozzi,
scornfully. "How long before your bondage ceases?"
"Excellenza, it was in January, 1683, that you appeared to me in the
dress of a priest, and saved me from the headsman. I owe you still
one year, one month, and twenty-six days of service."
"You are accurate--very; but mark me! If you fail in the least
point, the contract is null. I neither release your Caterina nor
"I am your slave, and have no will but yours."
"'Tis well. What have you learned to-day?"
"As regards the gracious marchioness, but little. She drew, played
on her harp, and embroidered, as usual, and wrote a letter, which
she committed to the hands of that demoiselle Victorine. who gives
out that she was sent to her ladyship by her friend the Duchess of
"I know--I know. Where is the letter?"
"Here it is, excellenza."
The marquis examined the seal, to see that it had not been tampered
with by his underlings. "Any thing further?" added he, raising his
eyes to Antonio's woe-begone face.
"Very little, excellenza. The signora went twice to the balcony to
look at the gondolas, Mademoiselle Victorine watching her from
within. The second time she went, she clasped her hands all of a
sudden, blushed, and leaned so far over the balustrade that
mademoiselle made sure that there was something unusual on the
canal. Pretending that she had some question to ask as to the
signora's dress, she followed, but the signora was so absorbed in
what she saw, that she did not remark her tire-woman."
"What was it?" asked Strozzi, breathless with expectation.
"The Canale Grande was so crowded with splendid gondolas that it was
hard to say what had attracted the marchioness's attention. But
after a moment or two of waiting, Mademoiselle Victorine saw that
one of the gondolas was stationary just opposite to the palace."
"Whose gondola? Who was in it?" cried Strozzi, imperiously.
"Besides the gondoliers, the gondola contained a young man, so
simply dressed, that he could not have been anybody of distinction,
for he wore a brown doublet with plain buttons. Mademoiselle
concluded that the lying-to of the gondola was accidental; he was
too insignificant to have interested the signora."
"What do YOU think?" asked Strozzi, eying him searchingly.
"I think it was premeditated, but I will soon find out."
"What steps have you take a to--? But no!--go on--go on. What took
"Nothing, excellenza; for after this gondola, came that of my lord
the marquis, and the signora retreated hastily to her room."
"Ah!--Now tell me what you have done?"
"I posted one of my men, with his gondola, under the balcony. He is
to remain there, watching every gondola that passes both by day and
by night. I have stationed men at every entrance of the palace, who
are to give admittance to all who present themselves; but who are to
require the names and business of all who leave. Even those who are
in your excellency's pay are to be searched--for example,
"You are a well-trained dog," laughed Strozzi. "I really believe
that I will have to set you and your child-murderess free, some of
these days. Go, now, and bring me word who was in that gondola."
Antonio resumed his mask, and disappeared through the door, which
closed, and left no trace upon the wall.
At this moment, there was a knock at the door of the antechamber,
and a woman's voice was heard, asking admission.
"Lucretia!" said Strozzi, rising and undoing the bolt.
A lady entered the room. She was enveloped from head to foot in a
veil of costly Venetian guipure, fastened to the braids of her
raven-black hair by two large brilliants. Her face had been
concealed by the veil, but, as the door closed behind her, she threw
it back, and exposed to view a countenance of remarkable beauty.
"Look at me, Ottario," said she. "Tell me candidly--am I handsome
enough to bewitch our guests, those princely bears of Germany?"
The marquis surveyed her critically, just as a painter might examine
a fine picture. He looked at her pale, pearly skin, her scarlet
lips, her delicately-chiselled nose, and her low, wide forehead, so
like that of the Capitoline Venus. Then he gazed into her dark,
flashing eyes, at once so languishing and so passionate, with the
beautiful arched eyebrows that gave such finish to their splendor.
The black hair, like a frame of ebony, surrounded the face, and
brought out the graceful oval of her cheeks. Strozzi then followed
the luxurious outline of her well-developed bust, prisoned in a
bodice of blue velvet, which rested on her white shoulders like an
azure cloud upon the bosom of a snowy mountain-peak. The skirt, also
of blue velvet, was short in front, that it might not conceal a
fairy foot encased in blue satin slippers; but, behind, it fell in a
long train, whose rich folds lay on the carpet, perfecting the grace
and elegance of the beautiful living picture.
"You are certainly charming," said Strozzi, at last--"quite charming
enough to bewitch a dozen German princes, supposing your husband to
offer no impediment to the spell."
Here she drew out a fan of coral and gold. and, opening it with a
snap, began to fan herself. "Caro amico," said she, "you speak as if
you were ignorant of the character and virtues of Count Canossa,
when you yourself are the very tradesman that sold me to him."
"You use very strong expressions, Lucretia."
"Do I? Not stronger than are warranted by the transaction. You sold
me to him to rid yourself of your mother's dying charge, and you did
it, although you knew him to be a man so depraved that nothing on
earth was sacred in his eyes--not even the virtue of his wife."
"Why, that," replied the marquis significantly, "is so much the
better for you."
"You mean that otherwise he would not have married me?" asked
"I mean that he would have examined more carefully into the truth of
the rumor which accused the sister of the Strozzi of having a
liaison with a gondolier; of having fled with him to Padua, and of
having been caught and brought hack to Venice, while her patrician
lover was sent to the galleys."
"I wish he had done so," was the reply, "and then you would have
been compelled to save my honor by allowing me to marry Giuseppe. Do
not laugh so heartlessly, Ottario. I loved him not only because of
his manly beauty, but because he was honorable and worthy of a
woman's purest love. His only fault was that of having loved me. You
sent him to the galleys; and I--I, too, have been condemned to the
galleys, and chained to a felon for life. Well I know that he
covered my indiscretions with his name for a stipulated sum, which
my generous brother paid to save my reputation, and he gambled it
away before the expiration of a year. Our palace resembles a ship
that has been visited by corsairs. It contains nothing but a pile of
lumber, for which not even a pawnbroker would give a bajocco. Were
it not for your alms, the Countess Canossa would starve."
"Alms, call you my gifts?" said Strozzi, casting his eyes over her
rich toilet. "They dress you up handsomely, methinks."
"But there they end," objected the countess. "I have neither lackeys
nor diamonds, neither gondola nor gondolier, and my saloons are so
shabby that I can receive no company at home. You give me as little
as decency permits."
"If I gave you diamonds, our dear Canossa would steal them; and if I
furnished your parlors, he would gamble away the furniture in a
"You know the worth of the husband you selected for your mother's
child, and doubtless you had your own private reasons for
sacrificing her to such a man. His worthlessness, too, furnishes an
excuse for your niggardly allowance to me. The very dresses I wear
are the price of dishonor. I often feel ashamed of the part I play
toward your wife, Ottario, and I know not but some day I may throw
myself at her feet and acknowledge my treachery."
"If you do, your acknowledgment will be forthwith conveyed to my
ears, and the doors of the palace Strozzi will be closed to you
"I know it," sighed the countess; "and the fear of this expulsion
binds me to your wicked will."
"Never mind what binds you, so you serve with fidelity; and, above
all things, I charge you to be watchful during the coming week. I
will not be able to keep my wife much longer from participation in
the social pleasures of Venice."
"Why not? You have spread a report of her insanity, and nobody will
ever give a thought to her absence."
"But she may desire to witness the carnival herself."
"How so? when she has invariably refused to be presented to any one
as your wife?"
"She might change her mind, and claim her right to be presented to
the doge and dogessa. She may wish to take part in the carnival,
because of a fancy for some foreign prince!--Great God! when I think
of such a possibility," cried Strozzi, interrupting himself, "I feel
as though I were going mad for jealousy!"
"Poor fellow!" said Lucretia, "I pity you. You live with a perpetual
dagger in your heart."
"And it will kill me unless you are loyal to your office, Lucretia.
Promise me to watch this woman closely. Listen to me.--She may wish
to go out, and if she does, it is quite natural that you, as well as
I, should accompany her. Swear that wheresoever you may be together,
you will not for one moment quit her side, or take your eyes off her
"For what do you take me. pray? Do you suppose that I attend the
carnival to yawn at the side of your wife? or do you imagine that
such eyes as mine were made for nothing better than to stare at a
"You will have as much opportunity as you can desire to use them to
your own advantage, Lucretia, for Laura will not go out often."
"What will you give me in return for my self-denial?"
"If the carnival passes off without misadventure, I will buy you a
splendid gondola, with two gondoliers dressed all in silk."
"Give them to me now, and if I neglect my duty, then take them back.
But do--do give them to me to use during the carnival."
"Very well, you shall have them to-morrow morning. And you swear
that my wife shall neither give her hand nor speak to any man in
Venice, and that you will report her very glances to me?"
"I swear to guard your golden apple like a good dragon. And to-
morrow I shall join the great regatta," added she, clapping her
hands like a petted child. "Now, Ottario, listen to me--I have just
come from your wife's apartments with news for you."
"What is it?" gasped Strozzi, clutching at the arms of his chair.
"The beautiful Laura is no longer the cold vestal that came to
Venice as your wife. Her eye is bright, her cheek is flushed, her
lips are parted with womanly longing. I congratulate you upon the
change. Your love has at last awakened a corresponding sentiment,
and now is your time to woo and win. I came hither to tell you this
and make you happy. Do not forget my gondola! Addio, caro amico,
She kissed the tips of her rosy fingers, and then, coquettishly
drawing her veil around her shoulders, she bounded off like a
gazelle, through the corridors of the palace.
"I wish I had your frivolity," murmured her brother, sinking back
upon the cushions of his divan. "I would that love, for me, were but
the episode of the hour!--But hark!--twelve o'clock--the hour for my
visit to her who is at once the blessing and the curse of my life!"
He was about to quit the room, when he heard a rustling at the
secret door. "Come in," said he, and the mask re-entered the room.
"You, Antonio! Already returned?" asked Strozzi, surprised.
"Yes, excellenza. I know the name of the young man in the gondola
which stopped before the palace this morning."
Strozzi was too much agitated to speak. He signed to the man to go
"It was Prince Eugene of Savoy. He arrived in Venice yesterday, and
has taken the little Palazzo Capello, next to the Palazzo
Manfredino, which since this morning is occupied by the Elector of
Strozzi was now as pale as a corpse; his brow darkened, and his
limbs trembled so that he was obliged to sit down. He mastered his
agitation as well as he could, and resumed his questionings.
"You are quite sure, Antonio?"
"Perfectly sure, excellenza."
"And yet the Prince of Savoy is not among the invited?"
"He came alone. The Marquis de Villars had rented the Palazzo
Capello for himself, but he has given it up to Prince Eugene, and
has accepted the invitation of the elector to occupy a suite on the
ground floor of the Palazzo Manfredino. The Prince of Savoy and the
elector are intimate friends; for no sooner had the former arrived,
than he left his address at the Palazzo Manfredino; and the latter
had not been here an hour before he was at the hotel of the White
Lion, where Prince Eugene had taken lodgings. By noon, the elector
had obtained the relinquishment of the Palazzo Capello for the
prince, and the Marquis de Villars had taken up his quarters at the
"From whom did you learn all these details?"
"From one of the gondoliers that rowed Prince Eugene this morning,
my half-brother Beppo. 'Whither shall I row you, excellenza?' asked
he. 'Anywhere,' said the prince, in excellent Italian, 'but take me
to see your famous palaces.' 'The Foscari, for example?' inquired
Beppo. 'Yes, and the Strozzi, which, I am told, is one of the finest
residences in Venice.' So they rowed to the Strozzi palace, and
there the prince bade Beppo stop for ever so long a time. The prince
will spend the entire carnival here. He has bought a gondola, and
his secretary is on the lookout for gondoliers, an Italian valet,
and a commissionnaire."
"You will offer yourself as his commissionnaire, then," said
Strozzi, with a sinister scowl. "And be sure you get the place--do
Antonio bowed, and the marquis continued: "In fifteen minutes return
to me, and meanwhile--begone!"
Without a word of reply Antonio disappeared; Strozzi pressed down
into the wall the spring by which the door was opened, and then,
taking up his plumed hat, betook himself to the apartments of his
She lay half buried in the yellow satin cushions of a soft ottoman.
Her large, dreamy eyes were fixed upon the ceiling, whereon groups
of flying Cupids were pelting one another with roses. Her lips were
parted with a happy smile, her fair brow was serene and cloudless,
and her cheeks were tinged with a faint flush like that of the rose
that is kissed by the first beams of the rising sun. She was the
same beautiful, spirited, hopeful being that had lived and loved in
the pavilion of the Palais Royal.
She lay dreaming and smiling, smiling and dreaming, when the velvet
portiere that opened into her boudoir was drawn aside to give
entrance to the Marquis de Strozzi. Yesterday his visit had been a
martyrdom to Laura; to-day she was indifferent to it: she was far
beyond its influence, nor did she acknowledge it by so much as a
But when he stood directly before her, and would have stooped to
kiss her hand, she withdrew it with a gesture of aversion, although
her countenance yet beamed with happiness.
The marquis saw that she was excited, and he frowned. "You seem in
good spirits to-day, Marchioness de Strozzi," said he, moodily.
"I am indeed in good spirits when I can endure your presence with
tranquillity, nor start at the sound of a title which is not mine. I
am not the Marchioness de Strozzi."
"I do not know how that can be, when you are indubitably my wedded
"No, no, I am no wedded wife of yours, nor am I bound to you by the
lying vows that gave me into your keeping. For three years, I have
endeavored to make you understand this, but you are singularly
"I can never be made to understand that the woman who, in presence
of her father and brother, promised to be unto me a faithful wife,
is not my true and lawful spouse."
"My vows were not for you; they were made to another."
"Nay--I can show your signature to the contract, and the pope
himself cannot undo our marriage."
"Our marriage!" exclaimed she, haughtily. "There is no marriage
between you and me, and be assured that there never will be. I would
sooner die than become your wife. Hear me," continued she,