Part 8 out of 13
"Let me intercede for poor Beppo," laughed Lucretia. "He would have
kept out Filippo, but I insisted that your prohibition could not
extend to boys, and I insisted upon having him to carry my train.
Since his presence here annoys you, he shall be made to leave, and
await me in my gondola."
"But the book, signora," said Victorine, with quivering lip.
"True--the book for Laura. Will you permit Victorine to go with
Filippo, and get it? But bless me! Without her protection, Beppo
would not allow him to pass. You consent for her to accompany him?"
"Yes," said Strozzi, roughly. "But if ever you come again, leave
your page at home."
"The watchword, signor?" asked Victorine.
"Venetia," returned Strozzi.
"What!" exclaimed Lucretia, "does Victorine, too, need a password to
leave the palace? My dear brother, I admire your genius! You are
qualified to make a first-rate jailer."
Mademoiselle Victorine had not tarried to hear the ironical
compliment of the countess. She flew along the corridor to the
apartments of the marchioness, and, first knocking at the door, she
drew back the portiere.
"Your highness," said she, "the hour has expired." Then dropping the
portiere, that the lovers might part without witnesses, she waited
Laura's arms were around his neck. Eugene drew her passionately to
his heart. "Must I then go without thee?" murmured he.
"Yes, my Eugene; this time thou goest alone. But be patient and
hopeful, and thy spouse will find means to escape from her jailer."
"I cannot go," cried Eugene, despairingly. "Nor can I leave my
enemy's house like a frightened cur, while the woman I love remains
to bear his anger. He must--he shall renounce my wife!"
"That is, you would see me murdered before your eyes!" exclaimed
Laura, well knowing what argument would move him most to discretion.
"Eugene, he has sworn to assassinate me, if I ever speak to you--
and, believe me, he will keep his oath."
"And I must leave my treasure in his bloodthirsty hands?" cried the
prince, pressing her still more closely in his arms.
"The tiger will do me no harm, Eugene, if thou wilt go before he
"Your highness," said Victorine, imploringly through the portiere,
"for God's sake, tarry no longer!"
Laura, freeing herself from his embrace, led him to the door.
"Farewell, my beloved," said she. "God is merciful, and will reunite
"One more look into those dear eyes, one more kiss from those sweet
"Oh, your highness!" whispered Victorine, a second time.
Laura raised the portiere, and led him forward. She saw Victorine
reach him his mask, and then, darting back into her boudoir, she
fell upon her knees, and prayed for an hour.
Meanwhile the Countess Lucretia was still discussing her affairs;
but she seemed to have become absent-minded, sometimes stopping
suddenly in her sp'eech to listen, occasionally directing anxious
glances toward the windows.
The marquis was too keen for these symptoms to escape his
"Are you watching or waiting for any thing?" asked he.
"Yes," replied she, "I await something, and--oh! there it is!"
As she spoke these last words, a voice from the water called out
three times: "Addio! addio! addio!"
"Do you know what that 'addio' signifies?" asked Lucretia.
"How can I understand the signals that pass between you and your
"I will tell you what it means," said she, looking full into her
brother's face. "I--but no! your eyes glare too fiercely just now;
you are ready for a spring, and I dare not wait to be devoured.
Addio, Ottario, addio. Take this note, and swear that you will not
open it before ten minutes."
"What childishness!" exclaimed Strozzi, rudely.
"You will not? Then you shall not see its contents, which,
nevertheless, concern your Laura."
"Laura!--Then I swear that I will not open it before ten minutes."
"It is on the table. Be careful how you break your oath. You would
not be safe were you to unfold that paper before ten minutes."
So saying, she kissed her hand, and tripped merrily away to her
At the expiration of the time required, Strozzi took up the paper,
and broke its seal. It contained the following:
"MY DEAR BROTHER: You sold me to Count Canossa, and you have
degraded me to the trade of a spy. You have forced me, more than
once, to play the dragon by your poor, unhappy wife; but I have
repaid her for my unkindness, and have avenged myself also. My
little Filippo is Prince Eugene, and he is to remain alone with your
wife, exactly as long as I converse with you in your cabinet. The
three 'addios' which you will have heard ere this from the Canale,
signify that the prince has reached his gondola, and is safe. Also
that Mademoiselle Victorine, my accomplice, has fled. You gave her
ten ducats for each betrayal of her mistress; we offered two
thousand sequins, and of course she betrayed you. Addio!"
To describe the fury of the marquis would be impossible. But his
paroxysm of rage over, he at once began to revolve in his mind the
means of revenge.
"There must be an end to this martyrdom," said he. "It must end!" He
looked at the clock. "'Tis time Antonio were here, and he shall do
He struck three times on his little bell, and the door in the wall
glided back, giving entrance to Antonio.
The next morning Antonio asked admittance to the cabinet of his new
"Your highness," said he, "I have seen the marchioness."
"What greeting does she send, good Antonio?"
"My lord, she awaits Filippo at eight o'clock this evening."
"She awaits me!" echoed Eugene. "And you are to conduct me to her?"
"Yes, my lord. I am acquainted with the secret passages of the
palace. I will show you the way, and, as God in heaven hears me, I
will bring you safely back."
"How solemnly you speak, Antonio!"
"Ah, excellenza, it is easier to enter that palace than to leave it!
But you shall leave it in safety, as I hope to be saved from
"At what hour did you say?"
"At eight this evening. And now, my lord, allow me to leave you for
a time. The marquis requires me to remain at the palace, and I must
be punctual, or he will suspect me. You will be obliged to engage
another commissionnaire; but, believe me, I shall better serve you
in the palace than here."
Antonio was allowed to depart; but instead of going toward the
Strozzi palace, he betook himself to that of the Elector of Bavaria,
where the household were in that state of confusion which precedes a
departure. The elector had chosen to leave Venice by night.
"I have an important message from my lord, Prince Eugene of Savoy to
his highness of Bavaria," said Antonio, making his way through the
busy throng of servants. "Is he in his cabinet?"
"Yes, The chamberlain is in the anteroom. He will announce you."
"His highness will receive the messenger of Prince Eugene," was the
reply; and Antonio, having been admitted, had a conversation of some
length with the elector, which left the latter in a state of great
"I wish it were in my power to render assistance; but I dare not. He
made me promise that I would not interfere in any way; and I must
keep my word. I would but act in the dark, and might ruin him.--And
now to Lucretia, to devise other means of rescue, if these should
fail--" After leaving the elector, Antonio directed his steps toward
the prison near the palace of the doge. The porter that stood near
the grated door looked searchingly at the mask that presumed to
tarry before those dismal gates whereof he was the guardian.
"Would you earn a thousand sequins?" said Antonio, in a whisper.
"How?" asked the porter, opening his eyes like two full moons.
"Do you know in which cell Catherina Giamberta is confined?"
"Yes, I know."
"Take this flower to her. It is her birthday, and she loves flowers.
Tell her it comes from Antonio, and ask her to send him the ribbon
she wears around her neck. If you return with it, I will give you
one thousand sequins."
He handed the porter a large rose, whose stem was carefully wrapped
in paper. Christiano scarcely saw what it was, so dazzled were his
eyes by the approaching glitter of a thousand sequins. But he thrust
it in his bosom, drew the bolts of his prison, and disappeared
within its gloomy depths.
Antonio leaned his head against the clammy prison-wall and waited.
In half an hour the turnkey returned.
"Have you your thousand sequins with you?" asked he.
"Here they are," said Antonio, drawing from his cloak a purse,
through whose dingy silk meshes the gold was visible.
The turnkey put his hand through the grate, and Antonio saw a faded,
yellow paper, tied with a silken cord. He took the packet, and in
return gave Christiano the purse. As he did so, he said: "Make good
use of it; I have passed through five years of misery to earn it.
Make good use of it, and if you will have a mass said for the repose
of my soul, 'tis all I ask in addition to the service you have just
He turned away, and, hurriedly taking the direction of St. Mark's,
entered a side-door, and stood within its sacred walls. The church
was empty and dimly lighted. Antonio knelt down behind one of the
pillars, and opened the paper.
It contained a lock of golden hair--the hair of a child. The bravo
pressed it to his lips, and, murmuring a few fond words, laid it
lovingly upon his heart, and began to pray. When his prayer was
ended, he approached a confessional wherein sat an old Benedictine
monk, and, kneeling down, began his confession.
The recital was a long, and apparently a terrible one; for more than
once the monk shuddered, and his venerable face was mournfully
upraised as if in prayer for the penitent. When Antonio ceased, he
remained silent, still praying.
"Reverend father," murmured the bravo, "may I not receive absolution
for my sins!"
"Yes, my son, you shall receive such absolution as it rests with me
to give. If, as I hope, you are truly repentant, God will do the
rest. You have sinned grievously, but you are ready to expiate." And
the priest performed the ceremony of absolution.
"Reverend father, give me your blessing--your blessing in articulo
"Come hither and receive it."
Antonio emerged from the confessional, and knelt on the marble
pavement, while the rays from a stained window above fell upon his
head like a soft, golden halo. The priest, too, stepped out, and,
laying his hand upon that bowed head, made the sign of the cross,
and blessed him in articulo mortis. Then going slowly up the aisle,
and kneeling within the sanctuary, he passed the night in praying
for a soul that was about to depart this world.
The clock on the Campanillo of St. Mark's struck eight. The day of
longing expectation had at last worn away, and Eugene was once more
to be admitted to the presence of his beloved.
Before leaving his cabinet he had sent for Antonio, and, reaching
him a purse of gold, had said: "Here, my brave--here are two hundred
ducats. Take this purse, and, when you make use of its contents,
remember that I gave it as a token of my gratitude for your fidelity
"No, your highness," replied Antonio, in a tearful voice--"no, your
highness, I need no gold. If you would give me a souvenir, let me
have the glove that has covered the right hand of a hero whose sword
has never been unsheathed save in the cause of right."
"Singular man," exclaimed Eugene, "take them both, and believe that
I thank you for your attachment. And now, let us away!"
"Yes, my lord; but I implore you, not this rich cloak of velvet.
Take this black wrapping of cloth; it is more appropriate for an
adventure such as ours."
The little gondola lay moored at the stairs, without gondolier or
light. Nobody was there except Eugene and Antonio, who rowed without
help. They made for a channel leading to a wing of the Palace
Strozzi, whose dark, frowning walls, unrelieved by one single
opening, were laved by the foul and turbid waters of the narrow
estuary. Antonio's practised eye discovered the low opening that
gave access to the palace; and, after fastening his gondola to a
ring in the wall, he knocked three times at the door. It was opened,
and they entered a small vestibule, dimly lighted, where they were
confronted by a man who asked for the password.
Antonio whispered something in his ear, and they were permitted to
ascend a steep, narrow staircase leading to a passage so contracted
that Eugene's shoulders touched on either side, as he struggled
along toward a second staircase. When they had reached the last
step, Antonio said: "We have no farther to go. Pass in, signor, and,
whatever ensues, remember that you must patiently await my return."
A door opened, Eugene passed through, and it closed behind him. He
was in a room of singular shape and construction. It was a rotunda,
whose blank walls were without opening whatsoever; neither door nor
window was to be seen therein. Suspended from the lofty ceiling was
an iron chain, to which was attached a small lamp, whose light fell
directly over a table that stood in the centre of the room. On the
table lay a piece of bread and a glass of water; near it was placed
a wooden chair, and this was all the furniture contained within the
"A dungeon," said Eugene to himself. "One of those dungeons of which
I have heard, but in whose existence I never believed until now."
He was perfectly collected; but he comprehended his position, and
knew that he had been betrayed. He had been lured into this secret
prison, there to die without a sign! But he must make one desperate
effort to escape. Death he could confront--even the death that
stared him in the face; but to know that Laura would be doomed to a
life of utter wretchedness, was a thought that almost unsettled his
He surveyed the place, and then felt every stone, every crevice,
that came within his reach. As he raised his mournful eyes to look
above him, the wall just below the ceiling began to move, a small
window was opened, and within its iron frame appeared a pale,
sinister face--the face of the Marquis de Strozzi.
Eugene tore the mask from his face, and his large eyes flashed with
"Assassin!" cried he, "cowardly assassin!"
The marquis laughed; he could afford to laugh. "Yes." said he, "I am
any thing you may please to term me; but you, Prince of Savoy, are
no longer among the living. Your days are numbered: farewell!"
The window closed, and the wall moved slowly back until no trace of
the opening was to be seen. A dungeon! A grave! Eugene of Savoy
would die of hunger! no human ear would hear his dying plaint;
within a few steps of one that loved him he would disappear from
earth; and, until the great day whereon hell would yield up its
secrets of horror to the Eternal Judge, his fate would remain a
mystery! Alas! alas! And was this to be the end of his aspirations
But hark! What sound is that? The invisible door, for which he had
been groping in vain, was once more opened, and Antonio glided
noiselessly into the room.
He raised his hand in token of warning. "Not a word, my lord,"
whispered he. "I come to save you."
"To save me, traitor! You, the despicable tool of Strozzi?"
"Oh, my lord! Have mercy, have mercy! Every moment is precious:
listen to me, listen to me!"
Antonio sank on his knees, the mask dropped from his face, and his
pale, suffering countenance wore any aspect but that of treachery.
"In the name of the Marchioness Laura Bonaletta, hear me," said he,
"Laura Bonaletta!" echoed Eugene, in a voice of piercing anguish.
"What can such as you know of Laura Bonaletta?"
Antonio gave him a folded paper containing these few lines: "If thou
lovest me, do as Antonio bids thee. If thou wouldst not have me die
of grief, accept thy life from Antonio's hands, and oh, love!
believe me, we shall meet again. Thy Laura."
Eugene pressed the paper to his lips, and when he looked at Antonio
again, his eye had lost its sternness, and about his lips there
fluttered a sad smile.
"What does this mean, Antonio?" said he.
"Excellenza, it means that I was a hardened sinner until you rescued
my soul from perdition. Would that I had time to lay before you the
sins of my whole life, that you might know from what depths of crime
you delivered me! But time is precious. I can only say that I am no
brave soldier that was scarred in battle. This wound upon my face
was from the hand of my father, and, for the crime of his murder, my
right hand was hewed by the arm of the executioner. Nay--do not
start, my dear, dear lord! 'Tis you that brought me to repentance;
'tis you that inspired me to seek reconciliation with Heaven. I came
to you a bravo--the emissary of the Marquis Strozzi; but when you
touched my mutilated arm with your honored hand--when you trusted me
because you believed me to be brave--I swore in my heart that you at
least I would not betray. 'Tis true, I led you hither where Strozzi
would have left you to die of hunger. Ah. my lord! you are not the
first that has looked upon these cruel walls. Giuseppi, the
gondolier whom the countess loved--he, too, poor youth. came hither-
-and six days after I was sent for his corpse, and consigned it to
the sullen waters of the lagoon, that covers the secrets of
Strozzi's atrocious murders."
"But why, then, did you not warn me?"
"Because Strozzi would have murdered me, and employed another man to
betray you into his hands. Or, if you had believed me, you might
have remained in Venice, and you must, fly this very night--this
very hour. Until you are safe, Strozzi must believe that you are his
"Am I, then, forever doomed to turn my back upon this man?"
"My lord, my lord, no vain scruples! The Marchioness Bonaletta will
die if you do not live to rescue her from his tyranny."
Eugene grasped his arm. "Ah, yes, indeed! Then come, Antonio--let us
"My dear lord, one man only can leave this room. The porter is ready
with his dagger if both should attempt to pass."
"You would remain here in my place! You would sacrifice your life to
liberate me, Antonio!"
"The parricide would fain be at rest," replied Antonio, gently. "The
sinner would gladly suffer death, that, expiating his crimes, he may
hope to be forgiven by his Maker."
"Never will I purchase life at such a price," was the reply of the
"My life is accursed," said Antonio; "my death will be triumphant.
My lord, if you knew how I longed for death, you would not refuse me
the blessing I covet. My Catherina ere this awaits me in the other
world; I long to rejoin her--I long to obtain the pardon of my
Eugene's face was buried in his hands, and he was weeping. "I
cannot, I cannot," gasped he.
"You would drive your Laura to despair, then? You would go to your
grave without renown?"
"No; I would live. Come: we can overpower the porter--if nothing
less will save us, we can kill him."
"Before he dies he will call for help, and help will be near. But
one of us can escape; and, by my eternal salvation, I swear that I
will not be that one! Away with you! Away! In a moment it will he
too late! Do you not hear me? Whether you go or stay, I never will
leave this place again!"
Eugene staggered against the wall, and sighed heavily. Antonio knelt
at his feet. At last he murmured almost inaudibly, "I will go."
Antonio sprang from his knees, threw his cloak around the prince,
and, with eager, trembling hands, adjusted his mask.
"Thank God!" said he, "we are of the same size and build. There is
not the least danger of recognition. The porter will suspect
nothing. The pass word is, 'One of two.' The gondola is moored in
the place where we left it, and your friends are at the landing,
awaiting you now. The marchioness knows that you are to leave Venice
to-night, God in heaven bless you. And now away!"
"Antonio," replied Eugene, greatly affected, "with my latest breath
I will bless and thank you."
Then folding the bravo in his arms, he would have spoken his thanks
again, but Antonio hurried him away, closed the door, and then fell
upon his knees to pray.
The password was spoken, the door was opened, and Eugene was saved!
He sprang into the gondola, and it flew across those sullen waters
like an arrow. As he reached the landing, a well-known voice called
"Max Emmanuel, I am here!" was the reply, and the friends were
locked in each other's arms.
At length the elector spoke:--"I have confronted death," said he,
"but never in my life have I passed an hour of such anguish as this.
Come, Eugene, yonder lies the ship that is to bear us away from this
sin-laden city. Step into my gondola, we have not a moment to lose."
They rowed to the ship's side; they mounted the ladder, and before
the dawn of day Venice with her palaces and their secret prisons had
disappeared, and the friends were far on their way to Trieste.
A TWOFOLD VICTORY
The winter of 1688 had gone by; the snows were melting from the
bosom of reviving earth; and the trees that bordered the avenues of
the Prater were bursting into life. At the court of Austria nobody
welcomed spring; for its approach betokened the cessation of gayety,
and the resumption of hostilities. The year 1687 had been rendered
illustrious in the annals of Austrian history, by Charles of
Lorraine, who, on the 12th of August, had gained a signal victory
over the Turks. The rebellion in Hungary, if not suppressed, was
smothered; for the weary and exhausted Magyars had been totally
crushed by the iron heel of General Caraffa, and they had submitted
to Austria. The conditions of the surrender were hard: they demanded
the relinquishment of some of the dearest rights of the liberty-
loving Hungarians. First, they were to renounce all right of
resistance against the King of Hungary; second, they were no longer
to elect their own sovereigns; the crown of Hungary was made
hereditary in the house of the Emperors of Austria. The Archduke
Joseph, then ten years of age, was crowned king; and the Hungarians
were compelled to take the oath of allegiance to this irresponsible
This being a decisive victory, the campaign ended early, and the
season of festivity had therefore been a prolonged one. Not only the
aristocracy of Vienna had celebrated the heroism of the victors by
balls, concerts, and assemblies, but the emperor himself sometimes
prevailed upon his retiring and devout empress to participate in the
national gayety, by giving entertainments to her subjects at the
It was the festival of the Empress Eleanora, and the day was to be
celebrated by the production of a new opera, entitled "Il Porno
d'Oro." The rehearsals had been superintended by the emperor in
person; he had suggested and directed the scenery and decorations,
and, to the great scandal of his confessor, Father Bischof, Leopold
had more than once curtailed his devotions, to attend these
On the day of the performance the emperor retired early to his
dressing-room, and, to honor the festival of his consort, arrayed
himself with imperial magnificence. His doublet was of cloth of
gold, edged with fringe of the same; his cloak of purple velvet,
richly embroidered, was fastened on the shoulder by an agraffe of
superb diamonds. The breeches, reaching to the knee, were of velvet,
like the cloak; and the hose, like the doublet, were of cloth of
gold. The shoes of purple velvet were fastened with buckles of
diamonds to correspond with the agraffe of the cloak. His ruff was
of gold lace, his hat was decorated with a long white plume, and on
his breast he wore the splendid order of the Golden Fleece.
When Leopold entered his music-room, Kircherus, who was there,
awaiting him, could not repress an exclamation of wonder at the
"You are amazed at my magnificence," said the emperor, laughing.
"Your majesty, say rather that I am struck with admiration than with
amazement. You are as glorious as the god of day; and if the Muses
were to trip by, they would surely mistake you for their Phoebus,
and, quitting Parnassus, make themselves at home in Vienna."
"And be driven away with contumely; for, being heathen maidens,
Father Bischof would speedily exorcise and exile them back to
Greece. And now tell me what you think of the new opera. Do you
expect it to be successful?"
"Indeed I do, your majesty. It is, to my mind, heavenly."
"And to mine also. 'Tis the very music with which to lull the dying
soul to rest. I have spared nothing to bring it out handsomely, and
it has certainly been a golden apple to my purse, for it has already
cost me thirty thousand ducats. But I tell you this in confidence,
Kircherus: were my generals to hear of it, they would cry out that
money is to be had for every thing except the army."
"I wish there were no army to swallow up your majesty's resources,
and that we might be allowed to enjoy our music in peace," growled
"Hush, Kircherus; you are an artiste, and know nothing of the
exigencies of political existence. I would I were such a heavenly
idiot as you; but God has decreed otherwise. It is my duty to
declare war or peace, as becomes the ruler of a great people; and so
disinclined am I to strife, and so inclined to peaceful arts, that I
sometimes think I have been purposely thwarted by God, and cast upon
an epoch of perplexity and dissension, that my character might be
invigorated by its exigencies. Even now I go reluctantly from art,
to hold a council of war. I fear it is about to be anything but
amicable; so, do your best to console me on my return, and see that
all goes well as regards the opera."
The officers of the war department had been for more than half an
hour awaiting the appearance of the emperor. One only was absent,
the Duke of Lorraine, who had excused himself on a plea of
"He is craftier than I had supposed," said the Margrave of Baden to
his nephew. "He avoids the unpleasant responsibilities of debate,
and shields himself behind the orders of the emperor."
"Because he awaits a reappointment to the chief command," replied
Louis. "For him is the glory of our victories; for us the danger.
But I have a missile to throw into the camp of the enemy; it is from
Max Emmanuel, who votes with us."
"Ah, indeed!" said the margrave, with a satisfied air. "Then I think
we may hope to thwart this insolent pretender, who considers me
incapable of directing the war department of Austria."
"He has offered me a public affront," returned Louis, indignantly.
"I had a right to command the Slavonian cavalry; and he bestowed it
upon Dunewald, who is nothing but his creature. I have therefore
followed the example of Max Emmanuel, and shall resign my commission
"I would give millions if, after your defection, he were defeated by
the Turks. But he has the most unconscionable luck. And then, that
silly Prince of Savoy, who blows such blasts in his praise. Louis,
you ought not to be so intimate with Prince Eugene--he is one of our
"Oh no," replied Louis, smiling. "Eugene is the enemy of no man. Say
nothing against HIM, uncle, if you love me. He is a youth of noble
spirit, incapable of envy; recognizing every soldier's merit except
his own. Our cousin of Savoy is destined to become a great man."
"He is already a great man," replied the margrave, with a sneer.
"Not twenty-five years of age, and a knight of the Golden Fleece--a
protege of the emperor, the favorite of Charles of Lorraine!"
At this moment the doors were opened, and Leopold, followed by a
small, slender officer, entered the council-chamber.
"The Prince of Savoy!" muttered the margrave, impatiently.
"Eugene!" said Louis to himself, as, bowing his head with the rest,
he wondered what could be the meaning of his cousin's presence.
"My lords," said the emperor, taking his seat, "I have invited
Prince Eugene of Savoy to assist at this council--not only as a
listener, but as one of us; and I shall call upon him to give his
opinion as such, upon the matters that come under discussion to-
"Pardon me, your majesty, if, as president of this council, I remind
you that the Prince of Savoy is too young and inexperienced for such
a discussion, and that no man in active service, under the rank of a
field-marshal, ever participates in the debates of the war
"Your highness is quite right, and I thank you for the reminder. We
have no desire to infringe the etiquette of the council-chamber; and
as we have invited the prince therein, we must repair our oversight
by qualifying him to sit.--Prince of Savoy, we hereby create you
field-marshal, and trust that, as such, you may win so many laurels
that the world will pardon your youth in favor of your genius."
Eugene crimsoned to his temples, and kissed the hand which Leopold
extended. "My liege," said he, in a voice choked with emotion, "your
majesty heaps coals of fire on my head. May God give me grace to
earn these unparalleled honors!"
"You have already earned them," replied Leopold, "and Austria is
proud to have won such a hero to her cause.--And now, my lords, to
business. President of the council, what is the condition of our
army at present?"
"Your majesty, the army is not, as yet, armed and provisioned; but
it will he in a condition to oppose the enemy as soon as the marshes
of Hungary are sufficiently dry to allow of an advance."
"That means simply that nothing has been done," replied the emperor,
in tones of dissatisfaction, "and that the winter has been spent in
total inaction. It means also that this year as well as last our
soldiers are to feel the want of the necessaries of life; and that
for lack of money, munition, and stores, our most advantageous
marches will have to be relinquished."
"I see that the Duke of Lorraine has already accused and calumniated
me," said the margrave, sullenly.
"The Duke of Lorraine has at times complained of the want of
munition, stores, and forage; but he neither calumniates nor accuses
any one. He has remarked that, instead of being sustained by the war
department, he has been hampered and harassed by its opposition to
his plans. Even his officers have manifested a spirit of such
insubordination, that they have seriously interfered with his
"That means that he has complained of me," interposed Louis of
"Yes, margrave, it does; and we are both surprised that a hero of
your recognized ability and renown should fail in a soldier's first
duty--obedience to orders."
"Your majesty," exclaimed Louis, "I am no subordinate officer to
receive or obey orders from another! I am an independent prince of
the German empire, in every respect the equal of the Duke of
"Except as an officer in the Austrian army," replied Leopold, "in
which character the Duke of Lorraine is your chief. You have not
sufficiently considered this matter of your rank as an officer in my
service; let me hope that, for the future, you will acknowledge and
respect the authority of your commander-in-chief. I myself have
found him ever ready to acknowledge and respect mine."
"The will of the emperor, to us, is law," said the Margrave Herman.
"But your imperial majesty has hitherto exacted of your officers
that they should receive your mandates through the medium of the
minister of war. The Duke of Lorraine, who claims such strict
obedience from others, has set at defiance the mandates issued from
this council-chamber. As president of the same, I complain of the
insubordination of your majesty's commander-in-chief. He has not
carried out the orders received from the war department."
"He would have been more than mortal had he done so; for the war
department has required of him feats that were physically
impossible. We can trace out upon this green cloth before me any
number of strategic movements, which, supposing the enemy to be of
one mind with ourselves, would annihilate him beyond a doubt. But as
he is apt to do the very reverse of what we would prescribe, the man
upon whom rests the responsibility of confronting him, must use his
reason, and modify orders according to circumstances. What is to be,
you cannot include in your paper plans of attack; but the Duke of
Lorraine has met every emergency as it presented itself on the
field, and every true Austrian should be his friend."
"Your majesty," cried the margrave, greatly irritated, "the
president of this council must nevertheless persist in his
conviction that the highest court of military jurisdiction is here,
and that the commander-in-chief of the army is its subordinate."
"You mistake the extent of its power," replied the emperor, with
composure. "It is merely expected of the general-in-chief that he
act in concert with the war department."
"Which the Duke of Lorraine has never done!" cried the margrave,
"Perhaps the blame lay in the injudicious exactions of the minister
of war," replied Leopold, carelessly; "and if, despite of all the
obstacles that were placed in his way, he has subdued Hungary, you
have no part in his glory, my lord; for in every case your judgment
has been contrary to his."
"It follows, then, that I have not filled my office to the
satisfaction of your majesty," said the margrave, choking with
"I regret to say that I have less confidence in your judgment than
in your ability, my lord; the former is unhappily often obscured by
prejudice," replied Leopold, calmly.
"Your majesty," cried the margrave, "in this case I shall feel
"I do not wish you to say or do any thing on compulsion, my lord; I
prefer to assign you a position in which your talents, being
unfettered by your antipathies, will shine with undimmed lustre. You
have complained of late that the duties of the war department have
become irksome to you; if so, I can give you an appointment less
onerous to you, but equally important to the state. I am just now in
need of an intelligent representative before the imperial Diet. This
charge I commit to you, premising that you must start for your post
immediately, that you may infuse some life into the stagnant
councils of the ambassadors of the princes of Germany."
"Your majesty wishes to banish me from court?" asked the margrave,
pale with anger.
"Certainly not, your highness," replied the emperor, gently. "I send
you on an honorable embassy, and one whereat I need a capable and
fearless advocate. The question to be decided before the imperial
Diet is one of life or death to Austria, nay--to Germany. France is
evidently preparing for war with the German empire. Her fortresses
on the eastern frontier are all garrisoned; her troops are
approaching; and under some pretext or other, they will cross our
boundary lines. This being the case, the princes of the empire must
cease their everlasting petty dissensions, and band themselves
together for the defence of Germany. Be it your task to strengthen
the bond of unity between them, and to convince them that in close
alliance with Austria safety is to be found for all. I know of no
man who can serve my interests at Regensburg as well as you, my
lord; while, happily, I can find a substitute for your presidential
chair at home, in Count von Starhemberg. And now, farewell; and let
me hear from you as soon as possible."
The emperor extended his hand to the margrave, who, scarcely able to
control his dissatisfaction, barely raised it to his lips, and
"My lords," said the emperor, "let us proceed to business. The
spring is nigh, and a new campaign is about to be planned. Count von
Starhemberg, as president of this assembly, will be so good as to
impart his views."
Count von Starhemberg bowed:--"Your majesty, it appears to me that
our policy is to avoid a general engagement. The end of this
campaign is the reduction of Belgrade, and great precaution must be
used if we are to succeed. I would divide the army, so as to begin
operations at three points simultaneously, and weaken the enemy, by
scattering his forces. By detaching, we can easily defeat them, and
capture their arsenals. This accomplished, we proceed to Belgrade,
and, with the conquest of this Turkish stronghold, we end not only
the campaign, but the war."
As Von Starhemberg concluded this harangue, the emperor addressed
himself to Prince Louis of Baden.
"Your majesty," replied he, "I have no opinion to offer, for my
views coincide altogether with those of Count von Starhemberg."
"And you, Count von Kinsky?"
"Your majesty, I sustain the president."
The same replies were forthcoming from Counts Liechtenstein and
Puchta, and the emperor, having heard each one, relapsed into
silence. After a pause, he spoke. "There reigns a remarkable
unanimity of opinion here, among the councils of the war
department," said he, with some emphasis. "Five members having but
one mind as to the prosecution of the war! Not one variation from
the plan of the president--not one suggestion--not even from so
experienced and able a general as Louis of Baden! This is singular
and surprising. We have yet to hear the youngest member of the
council. Field-Marshal Prince of Savoy, speak without restraint, and
fear not to express your own views."
"Pardon me, your majesty," said Eugene, blushing, "if I venture to
dissent from the opinions expressed by those who are my seniors in
years, and my superiors in experience. But it is the duty of a man,
when called upon to speak, to speak honestly; and I should be untrue
to my most earnest convictions, were I to give in my adherence to
the plan proposed."
Amazement was depicted upon the faces of the assembled councillors;
not only amazement, but disapprobation of Eugene's boldness. The
emperor, however, looked kindly at the prince, and bade him proceed.
"With your majesty's permission, I am of the opinion that the entire
army be concentrated in an attack upon Belgrade. To divide our
forces will enfeeble them doubly; their numbers would be
inconsiderable, and their command by one chief, impossible. Division
is weakness--concentration is strength. Belgrade is our goal, and to
Belgrade let us march at once. Let us possess the key of Turkey, and
then we can make conditions with the Sultan."
"I honor your frankness, prince," replied the emperor. "I should
respect it, were my opinion on the subject adverse to yours. But it
is not. My lords, I regret that we are not all of one mind; but I
must decide in favor of the campaign as proposed by Field-Marshal
Eugene of Savoy. I cannot consent to have the army crippled by
division; we must put forth all our strength, if we are to lay siege
to Belgrade, and to this one end let our warlike preparations be
"Your majesty's will is law," replied Count von Starhemberg. "It
only remains for you to name the one to whom the chief command of
the Austrian forces is to be intrusted."
"It is to be intrusted to him who has commanded it with such signal
ability--to the Duke of Lorraine, my lord.--And now, gentlemen,"
added the emperor, rising, "the sitting is ended."
"Your majesty," interposed Louis of Baden, "I crave a few moments
The emperor gave consent, and the young prince came forward and
"Your majesty, the chief command of the army being given to the Duke
of Lorraine, it follows that neither the Elector of Bavaria nor I
have any independent position; we are to obey the orders of the Duke
of Lorraine. This being the case, Max Emmanuel has commissioned me
to announce with the utmost respect that it does not become a
reigning prince to be the instrument of any other man's will. His
subjects have already complained of the subordinate rank of their
sovereign, and he cannot allow their sense of honor to be wounded by
a renewal of such affront. He therefore tenders his resignation. He
will withdraw the Bavarian troops, and take no part in your
majesty's projected campaign against the Turks."
"We shall take time to consider the subject," replied Leopold, in a
tone of unconcern, "and will speak with the elector in person. Have
you anything else to say?"
"Yes, your majesty." said Louis. "I, also, consider it beneath my
dignity to serve under a foreign prince, and I owe it to my own
self-respect to act with the elector, and to tender my resignation."
The emperor looked searchingly at the troubled countenance of the
margrave, who blushed beneath his gaze, and cast down his eyes.
"And you, too, would abandon your colors?" asked Leopold.
The eyes of the margrave flashed fire. "I false to my colors!"
"You," repeated the emperor. "With your rank, as Margrave of Baden,
I have nothing to do. You are an officer in my army, and have taken
the oath of allegiance to me, as your lord and emperor. I ask you if
you deem it honorable to desert your flag on the eve of a campaign?
Do we not call such conduct by the name of cowardice?"
"Your majesty," cried Louis, vehemently, "I a--!"
"I do not speak of you," interrupted Leopold, calmly. "I ask you,
if, at the moment of engaging the enemy, one of your ablest officers
were to come to you with the proposition you have just made to me,
by what word would you characterize the act?"
"Your majesty--I--I--" stammered the margrave.
"You cannot answer, my lord, but I will answer for you. You would
say to such a man, 'He who deserts his post in the hour of danger is
a coward.' But you, Margrave of Baden, are a man of honor, and
therefore you will withhold your vaulting ambition. You will not
strive with the destiny which makes Charles of Lorraine an older and
more experienced, but not a braver man than you; but you will return
to your duty, and emulate his greatness. Ambition is inseparable
from valor; but it must be checked by reason, or it degenerates into
envy. What would you think of a crown prince who should feel
humiliated at his subordinate rank when compared with that of his
father? When you entered my service, the Duke of Lorraine was
already general-in-chief of the armies of Austria; and, as he has
always led them to victory, it would be in the highest degree unjust
to supersede him by another. He who would command, must first learn
to obey. Margrave of Baden, I cannot accept your resignation."
"I will do my duty," replied Louis, bowing low before the emperor's
reproof. "I submit myself to your majesty's decision, and remain."
"Say, rather," returned Leopold, smiling affectionately upon the
young prince, "say rather that you go, for the campaign must open at
once. Be diligent, Count von Starhemberg; inaugurate your
preparations this very day; and you, Field-Marshal Prince of Savoy,
hasten to Innspruck, to communicate to the Duke of Lorraine the
result of our council of war."
"I thank your majesty," replied Eugene, "for this gracious command.
May I be permitted to retire, and make my preparations to leave?"
The emperor bowed his head, and addressed the Margrave of Baden. "As
there is no such urgency attending the movements of your highness, I
will be happy to consider you as my guest, and shall expect the
pleasure of your company at the opera.--You also, gentlemen," added
he to the other members of the war department. "The empress is
already in the theatre, awaiting our coming."
And with these words, the emperor, followed by his councillors, left
the room. Without, the court was waiting to accompany him; and, when
the lord-chamberlain had announced to the world that his majesty the
emperor was about to visit the opera, the long, brilliant cortege
set itself in motion.
THE DUMB MUSIC.
The court entered the theatre. The emperor's suite took possession
of the boxes on either side of the one appropriated to the imperial
family, while Leopold, followed by Prince Eugene, whom he delighted
to honor, entered the imperial box.
"I wish to present our new field-marshal to the empress," said he to
The empress was seated in one corner of the box, busily engaged with
a piece of embroidery. She was so absorbed in the mysteries of silk
and golden stitching, that she scarcely remarked the entrance of the
court. For a moment her eyes met those of the emperor, to whom she
bowed and smiled; then, bending her head again, she resumed her
The emperor took a seat by her, and watched her flying fingers with
affectionate interest. "Your majesty is unusually industrious to-
day," said he, smiling, and touching the embroidery.
"I was merely beguiling the hour of expectation which has passed
away with your majesty's presence, by completing a flower on this
altar-cloth, intended for the chapel of the blessed Eleanor, my
"The blessed Eleanor must excuse you to-day if I claim your presence
here," replied the emperor. "And let me implore you for a while to
fold those busy hands, and give your attention to the music which
has been gotten up for your especial gratification."
The empress quietly folded her work, and rose from her tabouret.
"Allow me to present to your majesty the youngest field-marshal in
the army," said Leopold, signing to Eugene to advance.
"I congratulate your highness," replied the empress, while Eugene
knelt and kissed her hand. "Are you, indeed, so very young, prince?"
"No, your majesty," said he, sadly. "I am so old, that I wonder my
hair is not gray."
"Indeed! How old are you, then?"
"Your majesty, I am forty-six years of age," replied Eugene.
"Why, how can you say such a thing," exclaimed Leopold, "when
everybody knows you to be just twenty-three?"
"Your majesty, are not the years of active service reckoned by the
soldier as double?"
"Yes, assuredly, my young field-marshal."
"Then, my liege, I am forty-six years of age, for my life has been
one long war with troubles and trials."
The empress looked sympathizingly into the deep, sad eyes of the
young prince, and saw that he spoke the truth.
"Have you then had many sorrows?" asked she, gently.
"Ay, your majesty; I have struggled and suffered since childhood,
for I have ever been a soldier of misfortune."
"But you are no longer one," said Leopold, laying his hand upon
Eugene's shoulder; "you have taken the oath of allegiance to
Austria, and misfortune has now no claim upon you."
Eugene looked up, and the face of the emperor was beaming with
kindness. "Whatever betide, my liege," returned he, "I am yours for
life, and Austria is my land of adoption."
"I am glad to hear it; and now there is but one thing wanting to
make you a subject after my own heart. You must marry an Austrian
wife that shall make you as happy a husband as myself, and transform
earth into heaven, as her majesty has done for me. It is in
commemoration of my own happiness that I have chosen the opera of
'Il Porno d'Oro' to celebrate the empress's festival. 'Il Porno
d'Oro'--that is, a happy union--the golden apple of paradise."
And the emperor, enchanted to have turned the conversation to a
subject which was to him of supreme interest, offered his arm to the
empress, and conducted her to the front of the box.
As soon as their majesties appeared, the spectators rose and cheered
them enthusiastically. The imperial pair took their seats, and
behind them stood Prince Eugene, the only other occupant of the box.
The emperor now waved his hand as a signal to the marshal of the
household, who, raising his gilded staff, conveyed the imperial
command to the leader of the orchestra. "His majesty is graciously
pleased that the opera shall commence," cried the lord-chamberlain.
The leader bowed to the emperor, and took his place, which was
conspicuously raised above that of the other musicians.
"His majesty is graciously pleased to allow all present to be
seated," was the second cry of the emperor's mouth-piece. And now
was heard a rustling of ladies' silks, and of cavaliers' velvets,
and the grateful spectators took their seats, while the emperor,
with a look of extreme satisfaction, opened the score of the Porno
d'Oro, laid it on the ledge of the box, and began to hum the
"Have you your text-book?" asked he of the empress. "I ordered one
for your especial use; a synopsis of the opera, with the principal
airs only. I hope that you received it. This one is too heavy for
The empress pointed to a purple-velvet book at her side, and
slightly bowed her head.
Leopold nodded, much pleased, and then gave his attention to the
The audience breathlessly awaited the opening. The leader flourished
his baton. The violins raised their bows, the haut-boys and horns
were clapped to the mouths of their respective performers, bass-
viols were seized, harps were clutched, and drumsticks were raised
in the air.
Nevertheless, not a sound was heard from the orchestra!
The emperor looked up from his score, and there, to be sure, was the
leader, his baton going from left to right--there were the violins
busy with their bows; the wind instruments were blowing for dear
life; the harpists were tugging at their strings; the drumsticks
were going with all their might--and not a sound! The musicians
might just as well have been so many phantoms.
The emperor, in his bewilderment, turned to the empress, who was so
profoundly engaged with her score, that she murmured the words
thereof half aloud.
"Do you hear the music?" asked her husband.
She started a little, and, blushing deeply, looked very much
confused. "Yes, yes," replied she, absently; "it is very fine."
"I must then have lost my hearing," said Leopold; "for I hear
nothing." And a second time ho glanced at the orchestra, where the
music was proceeding with the utmost energy.
"I cannot unriddle the mystery," thought the emperor, "for the
empress hears the music and pronounces it fine. Prince Eugene,"
added he, aloud, "Do YOU hear any thing?"
"Not a sound, your majesty."
The emperor, looking very much relieved, beckoned to the lord-
chamberlain, and sent him to inquire into the matter.
The audience, meanwhile, were quite as astounded as their sovereign.
However, after a time they began to whisper and smile; and finally,
as the drummer performed an extra flourish with his drumsticks, a
voice was heard to cry out, "Bravo! bravo!"
This was the signal for a general burst of laughter, which the
marshal of the household, though he shook his baton furiously, was
impotent to quell. While the merriment was at its height the lord-
chamberlain returned, and his countenance was expressive of extreme
Leopold, who for a moment had forgotten his Spanish formality, and
had retired to the back of the box, advanced eagerly to meet him.
"What says the leader?" asked he, hastily.
"The leader, your majesty, is in despair, and is as much at a loss
to account for the eccentricity of his orchestra as the audience
themselves. He says that the last rehearsal was perfectly
"Go, then, to the musicians. See the first violin, Baron von
Rietmann, and tell him that the overture must commence."
The lord-chamberlain went off on his mission, while Leopold, in
undisguised impatience, stood at the door of his box waiting. The
empress, apparently not cognizant of any thing around her, kept her
eyes steadfastly riveted on her book. Prince Eugene had risen, and
stood behind the emperor.
"What think you of this opera comique?" asked Leopold.
"It is past my comprehension, your majesty. I cannot conceive how
they presume to--"
The emperor suddenly interrupted him. "I begin to apprehend the
difficulty," said he, laughing. "My musicians are all of high rank,
and, as noblemen and artistes, they have a twofold pride. They know
perfectly well that I cannot do without them, and they occasionally
take advantage of the fact to annoy me. They have some cause of
complaint, I confess, and--Ah! What says Baron Rietmann?"
"My liege,"--replied the chamberlain, pale and breathless.
"Do not look so terrified," said Leopold; "what says the baron?"
"Your majesty, I am ashamed to be the bearer of his message," sighed
the chamberlain. "He says their instruments will be dumb until the
arrears due the orchestra for the last three months are paid!"
At this the emperor burst into an audible fit of laughter; then,
remembering himself, he glanced anxiously at his impassible empress,
to see if she had overheard him. No; she was perfectly unconscious
of any thing but her book.
"Rietmann is a bold fellow," said Leopold at length, "but he is a
great artiste, and I forgive his presumption. He is quite correct,
however, as regards the orchestra. The imperial treasury has been
drained for the army, and nothing remains for my musicians."
"Your majesty must order the army to refill the treasury at the
expense of the enemy," said Eugene, with a smile. "It is said that
the grand-vizier has immense treasures in Belgrade."
"Capture them all, field-marshal, for we are sorely in need of them.
But let us try first to compromise with these musical rebels here.--
Go, my lord-chamberlain, to Baron Rietmann, and say that the arrears
due the orchestra shall be paid to-morrow, and thereunto I pledge my
imperial word.--Now, Prince Eugene, let us resume our seats. I
presume that my golden promises will restore the dumb to speech."
And so they did. Scarcely had the lord-chamberlain whispered the
emperor's dulcet words into the baron's ear, before a signal passed
between the musicians, and the overture began. [Footnote: This scene
is historical.--See "Life and Deeds of Leopold the Great."]
The scenic effect of the opera was beautiful. The fountains were of
real water, and graceful naiads disported within their marble
basins; and there was lightning and thunder; there were
transformations of men into animals, and finally, there was a golden
apple which fructified into a bewitching fairy. She sang so
delightfully that the emperor, in his enthusiasm, let fall his
score, and applauded with all his might.
The fairy was encored, and as she was about to repeat her aria, the
emperor turned to the empress and requested leave to be allowed the
use of her text-book for a few minutes. In his eagerness he did not
remark her exceeding confusion; but as, taking the book from her
hands, he gave a glance at its pages, lie uttered an exclamation of
And no wonder! For, instead of an opera-score, he found a prayer-
"I hope your majesty will excuse me," stammered the empress. "In
absence of mind, I brought my prayer-book instead of the score."
"And your majesty was praying for us," replied Leopold, half-vexed,
half-amused. "But in our sinful way, we, too, are praying; for
surely music such as this is both prayer and praise; and He who
taught the nightingale her song, must surely rejoice to hear from
human tongues the strains which He has revealed to inspired human
THE RETIREMENT OF THE COMMANDER-IN-CHIEF.
The imperial army, in five divisions, had marched to the Turkish
frontier. They had traversed Transylvania, taking, on their way, the
fortresses of Grosswardein, Sziget, and Canischa; and, farther on
their victorious march, Peterwardein and Illock.
The Turks had pursued their usual mode of vengeful retreat, tracing
their march with fire and blood, and, wheresoever they were forced
to surrender, leaving to the victors naught but the smouldering
ruins of the strongholds from which they had been driven.
The imperialists were eager to invest Belgrade; but their general-
in-chief was ill; and for several days they had watched in vain to
see the hangings of his tent drawn aside, and hear the welcome order
Finally a courier arrived from Vienna, and it was rumored that
instructions had been received to advance. The troops were all the
more hopeful that, immediately after the dismissal of the courier,
the Duke of Lorraine had sent a messenger to Field-Marshal the
Prince of Savoy, requesting his presence at headquarters.
The prince obeyed the summons without delay, and, entering the tent,
found the adjutant and the duke's physician, sitting together,
discoursing mournfully to each other of the illness of the beloved
"I fear," said the surgeon, "that his highness is attacked with
nervous fever; his symptoms indicate it. He passed a restless night,
and is suffering from intense headache. He must not be excited; he
can therefore see nobody."
"But he has sent for me," objected Eugene.
The surgeon shook his head. "Your highness has heard my opinion,
and, if you approach him, it must be on your own responsibility."
"I am a soldier," replied Eugene, smiling, "and must obey orders. I
have been sent for by the general, and must at least be announced."
At this moment the hangings of the inner tent were drawn aside, and
Martin, the duke's old valet, came forward.
"Am I wanted?" asked the surgeon.
"No, sir," replied Martin. "His excellency bade me see if the--Ah!
There he is! Your highness, the duke begs your presence at once, and
requests these gentlemen to leave the tent until his conference with
your highness is at an end. He is very nervous, and the least
rustling affects his head."
"Just as I feared," sighed the surgeon. "Martin, in one hour I shall
return, to change the cold compress."
Eugene entered the sleeping apartment of the duke, and his pleasure
at being admitted to see his commander, was changed into anxiety,
when he beheld the pale, careworn face of the duke, and saw his head
enveloped in bandages.
"Martin, have they left the tent?" inquired he, languidly.
"Yes, your highness; and I shall remain and keep watch that no one
"Do it, good Martin, for indeed I do not wish to be disturbed."
Martin disappeared, and the duke, removing his bandages, rose from
the couch, and sank into an arm chair.
"We are alone, and I may as well dispense with all this; it is
"Then, your highness, God be thanked, is not sick?" exclaimed
"Yes, I am sick," replied the duke, sadly, "but not in the sense in
which my physician supposes. A malady of the mind is not to be cured
"Have you bad news?" asked Eugene, with tender sympathy.
"Ah, yes," sighed the duke. "Bad news for him who, loving his
fatherland more than self, is withheld from willing sacrifice by the
unworthy strivings of ambition with duty. But of that anon. I have
sent for you to confer of the affairs of the Austrian army; for I
know that I can count upon your sincerity, and trust to your
"Your highness knows how unspeakable is the love I bear you; you
well know that it is the aim of my life to imitate, though I may
never hope to rival, your greatness."
"I thank you for your honest affection, dear Eugene," replied the
duke, looking fondly into the speaking face of his youthful
worshipper. "I thank God that you are here, to complete what I am
forced to leave unfinished."
"Your highness would forsake Austria!" cried Eugene, alarmed.
"Ask rather, my son, whether Austria has not forsaken me," was the
mournful reply. "It is of this that I would speak with you. You are
the only officer in the army that does not bear me ill-will; and to
your sound and impartial judgment I am about to submit the question
of my resignation."
"Yes; but first let us talk of the campaign which is before us. You
know that its main object is the capture of Belgrade."
Eugene bowed assent.
The duke laid his finger on a topographical chart that lay on a
table close by. "Here is the key which opens the door to Turkey.
Unless we obtain this key, our past victories are all without
significance, and for years we have been pouring out Christian blood
"But we shall take Belgrade," cried Eugene. "We have sixty-six
thousand well-armed men, all eager for the fray."
"And the Turks have one hundred and fifty thousand."
"But they are not a consolidated army, and we must prevent them from
uniting their forces."
"True; and for this end I have sent Prince Louis of Baden to Bosnia
with six thousand men, that he may keep them busy at Gradiska. But
the long march has exhausted his troops, and he has written to ask
for re-enforcements. I must grant them; and to-morrow I send him
four thousand men. How many does that leave us?"
"About fifty thousand, general."
"Suppose the enemy oppose fifty thousand to our ten, in Bosnia,
there still remain to him twice as many as we can oppose to him."
"Yes; but they are not commanded by a Duke of Lorraine," exclaimed
Eugene, with enthusiasm. "A great general outweighs the disparity of
A sad smile played about the duke's features. "I am not
indispensable to Austria's success," said he. "My men will fight as
bravely under another commander as they have done under me; but I do
not say that I relinquish them to that other without a pang."
"Has such a question been raised?" asked Eugene, sadly.
"You are too close an observer not to have suspected it. Do you
remember my telling you that I would be obliged to succumb to the
hatred of my enemies?"
"Yes, your highness."
"I did not overrate their influence. Even those who hate each other
forget their hatred, to persecute me. And yet I have never done them
the least wrong. There is Prince Louis of Baden--I have shown him
every mark of distinction in my power, and yet he hates me."
"Too true," sighed Eugene. "And I confess that since I have known
it, I love him less."
"You are wrong. He is merely an echo of his uncle, who has some
right to hate me, for to me he owes the loss of his place as
president of the war department. He was not fit for the office, and
I convinced the emperor of his incapacity. This, I allow, to be a
ground of dislike. But there is another distinguished officer, too,
that hates me. What have I done to Max Emmanuel?"
"You have not only given him every opportunity to gain renown, but
often have I admired your magnanimity when he has conspicuously
paraded his ill-will."
"I thank you for that avowal, Eugene; for well I know how
unwillingly you blame the elector. And he deserves your friendship,
for he loves you sincerely. He has a noble heart, although I have
not been able to win it; he is a fearless hero, and a great military
chieftain. It is a pity that we were contemporaries. Were I to die
to-day, no man would be louder in my praise than he; but I live, and
he cannot brook a rival."
"Nay, your highness, he is not so presuming as to suppose that he is
worthy to supplant you."
"He is about to supplant me, Eugene. I forgive him; for he is young,
ambitious, and conscious of his own genius, which, while I enjoy the
chief command, is hampered by a subordinate position. He is just as
capable as myself; but I do not feel that he is my superior, and
therefore it pains me to be obliged to resign my command to him."
"You do not think of such a thing! What would be the effect of your
retirement upon the troops?"
"They would cry out, as the Frenchmen do, 'Le roi est mort, vive le
roi!' I am not self-deceived as to the ephemeral nature of military
popularity. It is always directed toward an object present and
tangible, and speedily consoles itself for the loss of one idol by
replacing it with another. But now, listen to me. A courier has just
arrived from Vienna. The president of the war department declares
himself unable to put any more troops in the field; he has neither
money nor munition more. The emperor writes under his own hand that
he has several times called upon the Elector of Bavaria to join his
command, and place himself at the head of his Bavarians."
"And he has refused!" cried Eugene.
"No. He has accepted, but conditionally only. Can you guess his
Eugene turned pale and stammered: "Your highness, I cannot--I hope
that I do not--"
"Well, I see that you have guessed. He demands the chief command of
the entire army."
"But if the emperor, as a matter of course, refuses this
unreasonable and presumptuous demand?"
"Then he withdraws his troops. Peace--peace! I know that you love
the elector: let us not discuss his acts, but consider their
bearings upon the welfare of Austria. For months the emperor has
been trying to arrange matters, but all in vain. Count Strattmann,
the last envoy, who had a long personal interview with Max, says
that he will not retreat from his exactions. He assumes the chief
command, or his troops are this day ordered to Bavaria."
"The emperor will never yield. He ought not to yield."
"The decision of this difficulty has been left with me. Max is close
at hand, in Essek, awaiting my determination. And now, Eugene, what
answer shall I send him?"
"There is but one. The Austrian army cannot spare the Duke of
"But still less can it spare the Bavarian troops. How many men did
you say that we counted in all?"
"Fifty thousand, your highness."
"And of these, how many are from Bavaria?"
"Eight thousand infantry," said Eugene, with a sigh.
"And four thousand cavalry. In all, twelve thousand; and let us do
him justice: the troops of the elector are an admirably disciplined
and efficient body of men. Now, if we lose this number, our forces
are reduced to thirty-eight thousand. Can we confront a hundred
thousand Turks with such a handful?"
Eugene spoke not a word. His face was bent over the chart, but it
was easy to see that he was powerfully agitated. After a long
silence, the duke pointed with his finger to the spot on the map
which the prince had apparently been examining.
"This tear is my answer," said he. "We cannot spare the Bavarians."
"Too true," murmured Eugene, "too true."
"Then the general must sacrifice his ambition to the national
welfare; he must retire from his command."
"Oh, no! Not yet. Let ME go to the elector. We are intimate friends,
and I will persuade him to retract his unrighteous exactions."
"You will not succeed. Moreover, I would not accept the sacrifice.
Could we have done without his troops, I would joyfully have
retained my command; but we have no right to ask of Max Emmanuel,
who cannot be spared, to yield to me, who can be spared. I repeat
it, then: I accept no sacrifice from the elector, nor will I be
outdone by any man in magnanimity. The wound smarts, I am not
ashamed to confess it; but my duty is too clear before me for
hesitation; and in its fulfilment I have great consolation. To you,
dear Eugene, this hour will afford a valuable lesson."
"Ay, indeed," replied Eugene. "It will teach me high resolve and
holy resignation. If I ever should be tempted to envy the greatness
of a rival, I will remember the day on which my friend's mad
ambition deprived an army of its great and renowned commander."
"You are not apt to have rivals, Eugene, for you will surpass all
your contemporaries in military genius. As for me, I retire, but I
shall probably find other opportunities of using my sword for
Austria. If--as God grant!--we should be victorious again this year,
the King of France will show his teeth, and perhaps the laurels I
have lost on the Save I may recover on the Rhine. And now, son of my
heart, farewell! God be with you, now and evermore!"
He embraced Eugene with affection, and, returning to the table, rang
for Martin. The old man answered the summons, whereupon the duke
began at once to give orders for his departure.
"Say to the surgeon that my head is worse, and that I crave his
attendance. Then see the imperial couriers, and send them hither."
"The surgeon is here," said that individual, coming forward. "But
what do I see? Your highness has risen?"
"Yes, doctor, for I am too ill to remain in camp any longer, and we
must start to-day for Innspruck, where you will find me an altered
man, and the most submissive of patients."
"Thank Heaven!" replied the surgeon, "for your highness needs rest."
"I will take as much as is needful," said the duke. "And now," added
he to Eugene, "will you do me a last favor?"
"What can I do for your highness?"
"Seat yourself at my escritoire, and write what I shall dictate."
Eugene took up his pen and wrote:
"INSTRUCTIONS FOR MY OFFICERS:"
"My health being too weak to allow of my remaining any longer in
active service, I am compelled to resign the command of the imperial
armies to another. My successor, his highness the Elector of
Bavaria, is at Essek, and will he with the army in a few hours.
Until his arrival, I appoint Field-Marshal Count Caprara my
representative. God protect the emperor and his brave army!"
"Thank you, prince," added the duke. "Now be so good as to reach me
your pen, that I may sign my name."
When his signature had been appended to this short proclamation, the
duke, sighing heavily, said, "Eugene, do you know what I have just
signed? My death-warrant!"
"Oh, my general!"
"Hush! Here come the couriers."
The duke bade them welcome, adding, "Did his imperial majesty charge
you with any letter subject to my order?"
"Yes, your highness. We have one to the Elector of Bavaria, which,
according as your highness commanded, was to be delivered to the
elector, or returned to his majesty."
"Hasten to Essek, and deliver it to the elector.--And you, baron,"
said he, addressing the other courier, "return to Vienna, and say to
the emperor that, as you were leaving the camp, I was departing for
Innspruck; and, that you may be able to speak the truth literally,
you shall see me go. If I mistake not, Martin is coming to say that
my travelling-carriage awaits me."
"Yes, your highness, we wait for nothing but your commands."
"Then let us depart. Doctor, you will bear me company as far as
Innspruck, will you not? Give me your arm, Prince Eugene."
With these words, he put his arm around the prince's neck, and,
supporting himself on that slender frame, the duke, who was a man of
tall stature, left his tent, and walked slowly to the carriage.
Behind him, in solemn silence, came the physician and the two
couriers. At the door of the chariot he let his arm glide away from
Eugene's neck, gave him one last fond look, one last friendly
pressure, and then was gone!
The prince followed him with his eyes, until the chariot had
disappeared from view. Then, sad and solitary, he returned to his
"And thus I am doomed to lose all that I love!" was his bitter
reflection. "The Duke of Lorraine--Laura!--Oh, my Laura, how light
to me were other losses, wert thou but here to smile me to
And, with his head bowed down between his hands, Eugene forgot all
time, to dream of his love. For several hours he sat thus--his
spirit all unconscious of the day, the hour, the place--when
suddenly he was aroused from his reverie by a familiar voice.
"Eugene," cried Max Emmanuel, "where are you? The whole army is
shouting me a welcome, and my friend has no greeting for me! He
waits until I force myself into his tent to claim his
"I was not aware that your highness had arrived. I--I--"
"And is this my welcome!" cried the elector, disappointed. "Are you
displeased with me for superseding your master and hero?"
"Yes, proud, ambitious Max, I am grieved; for you are right, he was
my master and my hero."
"Proud, ambitious, am I? Yes, I acknowledge it, and acknowledge it
without shame. The day for hero-worship has passed away, and that of
heroic action has dawned for both of us. Forgive me if I have
usurped the place of your demi-god; and, in his stead, accept your
friend and companion-in-arms. Think of the pledge we made before
Buda, and refuse me not the advantage of your support. Without you.
I cannot capture Belgrade; with you, I feel that I am invincible.
Will you not sustain me?"
"I will, dear Max, and, sorely though you have grieved me, I bid you
THE FALL OF BELGRADE.
Two months had passed away since Max Emmanuel assumed command of the
imperial army. During this time the besiegers had dug trenches and
thrown up embankments; had demolished fortifications, and thrown
bridges across the Save, with a view to attacking the Turks both in
front and rear. The latter had been obliged to look on while all
this had been progressing, impotent, in spite of their valor, to
stop proceedings. Of course they had thrown bombs and sprung mines
under the feet of their enemies, but nothing dismayed the Austrians,
and finally they were prepared to assault the city.
The duke had twice called upon Achmed Pacha to surrender. The first
summons, sent by a Turkish prisoner, was laconically answered by the
gibbeting of the unfortunate messenger within sight of the Austrian
camp. To the second, Achmed Pasha replied by a thousand greetings to
the brave Duke of Lorraine; adding that the siege would terminate as
it pleased God.
"And we are here to carry out His will," observed the duke,
laughing. "The miners must cease their work neither day nor night;
they may be relieved, but must not stop. Tell them that if they work
me a passage to the fortress by the 16th of September, I will give
to each one of them from this day forward a gratuity of two ducats a
On the 15th of September the Turkish commander was a third time
summoned to surrender. This last summons was treated with
contemptuous silence. It had been delivered to Achmed Pacha, while,
accompanied by his Janizaries, he was on his way to the mosque. When
he had finished its perusal he addressed two of his officers that
were walking on either side of him.
"What answer would you advise me to make to the Christian commander-
in-chief?" asked he of the first. "In the name of Allah and the
Prophet, I call upon you to speak according to your convictions."
The two Janizaries exchanged glances of uneasiness; but Achmed
Pacha's stern, handsome face was inscrutable in its composure.
"We are sorely pressed," replied the officer, mustering courage to
speak. "Unless Allah work a miracle in our favor, we must succumb;
it seems to me, therefore, that a useless defence will but
exasperate the enemy."
Achmed Pacha turned to the other. "And you?" said he, mildly.
"Most illustrious leader of the armies of the faithful," said the
second officer, quite reassured as to consequences, "if you insist
upon hearing the candid opinion of the least of your servants, I
must venture to say that our garrison is exhausted and spiritless.
Allah has forsaken us, and it were better to stop further effusion
of blood by an honorable surrender."
Achmed's eyes now darted fire, and the angry blood rushed to his
pale brow. He signed to a third officer to advance.
"You have heard these traitors," said he in a loud, distinct voice.
"Off with their cowardly heads, and bear them through the city on
pikes, while a herald shall come after you, crying out to all who
choose to profit by the warning, 'Such is the fate of the traitors
that counsel submission to the Christian!'"
The officers were thrown to the ground, and, in a few moments, their
headless trunks lay stretched on the earth, while their heads were
borne aloft through the streets of Belgrade.
"Justice is satisfied," said Achmed Pacha, solemnly; "now let us
betake ourselves to prayer. Let us thank Allah, who has turned away
the perils by which we were threatened, and is preparing for the
faithful a great triumph over their unbelieving foe. The grand-
vizier is at hand with re-enforcements, and ere long the Christians
will be put to ignominious flight."
This declaration of the general soon made its way to every house in
the city, and caused universal joy. The soldiers crowded around
their chief and swore to defend Belgrade until the grand-vizier
"And the Sultan will reward you all," said Achmed. "The booty will
be left to the soldiery, and the commander of the faithful will pour
out the treasures of his generosity from the horn of his
beneficence. The defenders of Belgrade will be the nearest to his
throne and his heart, and to your children shall descend the honors
he will confer! Now come and let us praise Allah for the glory you
are about to win!"
And with this flourish of promises, Achmed Pacha entered the mosque.
Once there, he fell upon his knees, and prayed after the following
"Allah, forgive me the lies which I have just uttered before the
gates of Thy holy temple. Allah, make true my words: send hither, I
implore Thee, the help I have ventured to promise to my unhappy
garrison; for the two unfortunates whom I have just executed were
the speakers of truth; if a miracle is not vouchsafed to us, we are
In the Christian camp Max Emmanuel was making ready to storm the
city; and his troops, with beating hearts, were eagerly awaiting the
signal to begin the assault.
"You are really going to commence your attack?" asked the Duke of
Mantua of the elector.
"Not only to commence, but to finish it," was the reply. "Before the
sun sets, Belgrade must be ours."
"Very flue and sententious," replied the duke, with a shrug, "but,
"Well--nobody can deny that your highness is a FAR-SEEING warrior,"
said Max, laughing, and remembering Mohacz. [Footnote: The Duke of
Mantua had promised to come to the assistance of the emperor. In
1637 he visited the imperial camp, where he was received with every
mark of consideration. On the morning of the battle of Mohacz, as
the troops were about to make the attack, he came up to General
Caprara, and in the coolest manner asked from what point he could
best observe the fight. The general replied, "Your highness must
join the staff of the commander-in-chief if you wish to look on
without being mixed up in the general engagement."--"But the staff
are in constant danger, as well as the rest," was his answer, "and I
might be struck by a ball or a bomb-shell."--"Oh!" cried Caprara,
"you wish to look on without endangering your life! Then go upto the
top of yonder mountain." The duke went, and remained there until the
battle was ended.] "You have an eagle-glance for a field of battle,
and I propose to renew for you to-day the spectacle which last year
you enjoyed looking on, while the rest of us were fighting."
"Think you that Belgrade is a bee-hive, and that the Turks are to be
smoked therefrom, like a swarm of bees?"
"I think that Belgrade is peopled by Turks, not bees; and yet I
shall smoke them out of it this very day. Will you bet me five
thousand ducats that I do not?"
"Yes, I take the bet; and although five thousand ducats is a
considerable sum, I sincerely hope I may lose it. I shall make,
haste to return to my villa, whence I can look on the assault, while
I pray for the success of your arms."
"We shall have unspeakable comfort in the thought," cried the
elector, galloping off to join his staff.
"A pious Moses that," said he to Prince Eugene. "I am really glad
that he has again taken his leave. I lose all my pride of manhood
when I look upon such a poltroon, and think that we are of the same
"He is a natural curiosity," said Eugene, "a mere exception to his
race. I rather enjoy the contemplation of such a sporadic case of
The attack was to begin at five points simultaneously. When the
fifth courier had reported his division to be in readiness, the
elector, giving orders to his staff which dispersed them for a
while, turned to Eugene and began in a low voice:
"Eugene, I feel like a lover who has just become a husband. My heart
beats with anticipation of bliss, and is all aflame with desire."
"I should think you had clasped Bellona to your heart so often, that
you would have learned to accept her favors without excitement or
anxiety," returned Eugene, playfully.
Max glanced at the calm and self-possessed prince, and replied: "You
shall teach me self-control, dear Eugene, for you have wonderful
mastery over your emotions. Did I not know what a warm heart is
throbbing under that composed demeanor, I should imagine Prince
Eugene to be a mere compound of wisdom and self-possession; and yet
I know that, at this very moment, that heart is burning with love
for one who, in the hour of battle, is dearer to him than ever.
Eugene, this is a moment of solemnity enough for me to ask you
whether Laura lives?"
"I do not know," murmured he, nervously grasping his reins, and
becoming very pale. "I have no news, and yet, if she were dead, my
heart would tell me so; I believe, then, that she is alive, and,
should I fall to-day, there hangs a medal lion around my neck (her
dear portrait), which must be sent to her. Say that I died loving
her beyond all power of speech to convey; that for her love, I bless
and thank her, trusting that she will forgive me for having been the
cause of all her misfortunes. I am grateful to you, Max, for having
spoken of her to me. If I die, this is my last will."
"Enviable saint, that has but one legacy and one love! I shall take
very good care not to entertain you with the history, in many
volumes, of all my various loves. But the last of them you can greet
for me, should I fall to-day; and you will do it cordially, for she
is Laura's sister-in-law. Tell my beautiful Lucretia that I have
been happy in her love; and, although I would not have her mourn for
me, I hope she will sometimes waft me a thought or a gentle sigh.
And now--to arms, and to victory! You promise to fight at my side,
do you not?"
"Yes, Max--nothing but death shall part us, until Belgrade is ours."
"Give me your left hand, while, with the right, I give the signal
for the attack."
So saying, the elector held aloft a silken flag, which fluttered for
a moment, and then boldly caught the breeze.--There was a short
silence; then every Christian gun proclaimed defiance to the Turk.
Early in the action, General Scarffenberg was mortally wounded; but
he had carried his point of attack, and with his dying eyes he saw
the Austrians mount the breach, and drive away the enemy at the
point of the bayonet. The bastion once reached, the men, almost
reeling with fatigue, paused for a moment to regain breath. The
enemy taking advantage of the halt, returned and poured out such
numbers of fresh assailants that the Christians from sheer
exhaustion began to falter, and were about to be driven back, when
Prince Eugene, seeing their danger, sprang forward to General
Sereni, and called for re-enforcements.
Placing himself at their head, the bastion was recaptured, and the
Austrians rushed eagerly forward to follow up their success.
But just beyond the breach lay a deep, wide trench, behind which the
enemy had fortified themselves, and were now pouring out a murderous
"The line of these breastworks must be broken," said the elector.
But the question was--how were they to be broken? Not a path was to
be seen conducting thither: and the imperialists, hurried forward by
the eager troops behind, who were unaware of the impediment in
front, seemed to have no alternative but that of inevitable death or
Retreat! odious word, which the officers could not bring their lips
to pronounce. And yet there was no possibility of advancing; and to
remain stationary was to offer themselves for massacre. The soldiers
were so closely packed together that they could make no use of their
weapons, while the Turks were shooting them down like so many birds
in a battue. The elector stood by the side of the breach, and called
a hasty council of his officers.
"We have done enough for to-day," said General Sereni. "We can
intrench ourselves behind the breach, and renew the attack to-
"The men are exhausted," urged another. "We will surely capture the
The elector had listened in perfect silence to the various changes
rung on the same idea; but he was not altogether convinced. He now
turned to Eugene, who spoke not a word, but gazed sharply from the
trench to the serried ranks of Turks on the opposite side. He raised
his eyes with a mournful, questioning look, to the face of the
perplexed commander. Their glances met, and a smile of perfect
understanding passed between them.
The elector hurried forward to the brink of the trench; behind him
came Eugene. Both drew their swords, and, brandishing them above
their heads, Max Emmanuel called out in clear, distinct, and ringing
"Comrades, look, and follow me!"
Then the two heroes sprang into the trench, and the troops rushed
forward to follow them. Many dislocated their limbs, as they leaped
down; but such as escaped without broken bones went onward, fighting
Suddenly an arrow pierced the cheek of the elector, and his face was
covered with blood.
"You are wounded, dear Max!" cried Eugene, affrighted.
The elector laughed, and, drawing out the arrow, replied, "Not at
all; this is Bellona's first kiss."
And, like a furious lion, he dashed ahead, and avenged the kiss by
many a stout blow of his sword.
The Janizaries were driven from their breastworks, but, ere they
went, one of them, astonished at the prowess of Eugene, whom he took
to be a lad, was determined to make short work of the insolent boy
that was slaying right and left like another David.
He raised his brawny arm, and smiled contemptuously upon so puny an
adversary. But when he would have dealt his blow, it was parried by
a thrust of such power that he reeled and almost lost his balance.
In his fury he raised his cimeter and cleft the helmet of the prince
For a moment Eugene was dizzy, though uninjured; but, quickly
recovering his senses, he made a lunge at the Janizary and ran him
through the body. Without waiting to see him die, the prince drew
out his sabre and darted onward. The imperialists shouted and
cheered him as he went, but the Turks, too, had witnessed the deed,
and more than one musket was vengefully aimed at the slayer of the
Paynim Goliath. One--one, alas! has reached the mark. It has pierced
his foot, and he is no longer in a condition to make another step.
Heaven be praised that the Turks have taken flight, and that the
Christians have possessed themselves of the trench! Eugene has the
comfort of knowing that he will not he a captive, and this assurance
gives him strength to drag himself within speaking distance of a
group of soldiers.
"Bear me away, if you please," said he; "I cannot walk."
Two of them hastened to his relief, and bore him tenderly away to
the spot where a field-surgeon was attending to the wounded.
The town and citadel have fallen; nothing now remains to the Turks
but the castle, from the windows of which a white flag is
proclaiming their defeat and surrender. But the Christians do not
see it; and the elector, followed by his victorious troops, rushes,
sword in hand, to the prison wherein the Christian prisoners are
confined. The dungeons were crowded with fugitive Turks, who had
betaken themselves thither as the safest place to be found. They
cried for mercy, and it was granted them. Their lives were spared,
but they were prisoners. Achmed Pacha was among them. He came
forward and bent the knee before his conqueror.
"Allah has willed it," said he, "and may his name be praised!
General, thou hast prevailed, and I am thy prisoner. I ask but one
favor of thee. Give me no Greek or Rascian for my master; let me
serve a German."
The elector smilingly raised him, and explained that Christians did
not enslave their prisoners of war. "You have defended yourself
heroically," added he, "and we honor a brave enemy. The Emperor of
Germany alone is the arbiter of your fate."
"Allah will decide what that fate is to be," was the pious response
of the Mussulman.
The Elector of Bavaria has won his wager; but what cares a
victorious hero for ducats or dastards like the Duke of Mantua?
"Where is Eugene?" was his first inquiry. And, not seeing him among
his followers, he darted out of the castle in search of his friend.
The question passed from man to man, until one was found at last to
answer it. The prince was in the hands of the imperial surgeons, who
were vainly endeavoring to extract the ball.
The elector dragged one of them aside. "Is he dangerously wounded?"
asked he, anxiously.
"He may not die of the wound," was the surgeon's reply; "but it will
be tedious and very painful."
"He will live!" cried Max, wiping away a tear, and hastening to the
litter whereon Eugene was lying.
He bent over him, and gently touched his forehead.
Eugene raised his large, melancholy eyes, and looking upon the
beaming face that encountered his, he pointed to the wound, around
which the blood had already coagulated, and said:
"Happy Max, whom Bellona has kissed! Me she has trodden under foot."