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The German Classics of The Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries, Vol. IV by Editor-in-Chief: Kuno Francke

Part 8 out of 11

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"I call that man cast out," answered Kohlhaas, clenching his fist, "who
is denied the protection of the laws. For I need this protection, if
my peaceable business is to prosper. Yes, it is for this that, with
all my possessions, I take refuge in this community, and he who denies
me this protection casts me out among the savages of the desert; he
places in my hand--how can you try to deny it?--the club with which to
protect myself."

"Who has denied you the protection of the laws?" cried Luther. "Did I
not write you that your sovereign, to whom you addressed your
complaint, has never heard of it? If state-servants behind his back
suppress lawsuits or otherwise trifle with his sacred name without his
knowledge, who but God has the right to call him to account for
choosing such servants, and are you, lost and terrible man, entitled
to judge him therefor?"

"Very well," answered Kohlhaas, "if the sovereign does not cast me out
I will return again to the community which he protects. Procure for
me, I repeat it, safe-conduct to Dresden; then I will disperse the
band of men that I have collected in the castle at Luetzen and I will
once again lay my complaint, which was rejected, before the courts of
the land."

With an expression of vexation, Luther tossed in a heap the papers
that were lying on his desk, and was silent. The attitude of defiance
which this singular man had assumed toward the state irritated him,
and reflecting upon the judgment which Kohlhaas had issued at
Kohlhaasenbrueck against the Squire, he asked what it was that he
demanded of the tribunal at Dresden. Kohlhaas answered, "The
punishment of the Squire according to the law; restoration of the
horses to their former condition; and compensation for the damages
which I, as well as my groom Herse, who fell at Muehlberg, have
suffered from the outrage perpetrated upon us."

Luther cried, "Compensation for damages! Money by the thousands, from
Jews and Christians, on notes and securities, you have borrowed to
defray the expenses of your wild revenge! Shall you put that amount
also on the bill when it comes to reckoning up the costs?"

"God forbid!" answered Kohlhaas. "House and farm and the means that I
possessed I do not demand back, any more than the expenses of my
wife's funeral! Herse's old mother will present the bill for her son's
medical treatment, as well as a list of those things which he lost at
Tronka Castle; and the loss which I suffered on account of not selling
the black horses the government may have estimated by an expert."

Luther exclaimed, as he gazed at him, "Mad, incomprehensible, and
amazing man! After your sword has taken the most ferocious revenge
upon the Squire which could well be imagined, what impels you to
insist upon a judgment against him, the severity of which, when it is
finally pronounced, will fall so lightly upon him?"

Kohlhaas answered, while a tear rolled down his cheek, "Most reverend
Sir! It has cost me my wife; Kohlhaas intends to prove to the world
that she did not perish in an unjust quarrel. Do you, in these
particulars, yield to my will and let the court of justice speak; in
all other points that may be contested I will yield to you."

Luther said, "See here, what you demand is just, if indeed the
circumstances are such as is commonly reported; and if you had only
succeeded in having your suit decided by the sovereign before you
arbitrarily proceeded to avenge yourself, I do not doubt that your
demands would have been granted, point for point. But, all things
considered, would it not have been better for you to pardon the Squire
for your Redeemer's sake, take back the black horses, thin and
worn-out as they were, and mount and ride home to Kohlhaasenbrueck to
fatten them in your own stable?"

Kohlhaas answered, "Perhaps!" Then, stepping to the window, "Perhaps
not, either! Had I known that I should be obliged to set them on
their feet again with blood from the heart of my dear wife, I might,
reverend Sir, perhaps have done as you say and not have considered a
bushel of oats! But since they have now cost me so dear, let the
matter run its course, say I; have judgment be pronounced as is due
me, and have the Squire fatten my horses for me."

Turning back to his papers with conflicting thoughts, Luther said that
he would enter into negotiations with the Elector on his behalf; in
the mean time let him remain quietly in the castle at Luetzen. If the
sovereign would consent to accord him free-conduct, they would make
the fact known to him by posting it publicly. "To be sure," he
continued, as Kohlhaas bent to kiss his hand, "whether the Elector
will be lenient, I do not know, for I have heard that he has collected
an army and is about to start out to apprehend you in the castle at
Luetzen; however, as I have already told you, there shall be no lack of
effort on my part"--and, as he spoke, he got up from his chair
prepared to dismiss him. Kohlhaas declared that Luther's intercession
completely reassured him on that point, whereupon Luther bowed to him
with a sweep of his hand. Kohlhaas, however, suddenly sank down on one
knee before him and said he had still another favor to ask of him--the
fact was, that at Whitsuntide, when it was his custom to receive the
Holy Communion, he had failed to go to church on account of this
warlike expedition of his. Would Luther have the goodness to receive
his confession without further preparation and, in exchange,
administer to him the blessed Holy Sacrament? Luther, after reflecting
a short time, scanned his face, and said, "Yes, Kohlhaas, I will do
so. But the Lord, whose body you desire, forgave his enemy. Will you
likewise," he added, as the other looked at him disconcerted, "forgive
the Squire who has offended you? Will you go to Tronka Castle, mount
your black horses, ride them back to Kohlhaasenbrueck and fatten them

"Your Reverence!" said Kohlhaas flushing, and seized his hand--


"Even the Lord did not forgive all his enemies. Let me forgive the
Elector, my two gentlemen the castellan and the steward, the lords
Hinz and Kunz, and whoever else may have injured me in this affair;
but, if it is possible, suffer me to force the Squire to fatten my
black horses again for me."

At these words Luther turned his back on him, with a displeased
glance, and rang the bell. In answer to the summons an amanuensis came
into the anteroom with a light, and Kohlhaas, wiping his eyes, rose
from his knees disconcerted; and since the amanuensis was working in
vain at the door, which was bolted, and Luther had sat down again to
his papers, Kohlhaas opened the door for the man. Luther glanced for
an instant over his shoulder at the stranger, and said to the
amanuensis, "Light the way!" whereupon the latter, somewhat surprised
at the sight of the visitor, took down from the wall the key to the
outside door and stepped back to the half-opened door of the room,
waiting for the stranger to take his departure. Kohlhaas, holding his
hat nervously in both hands, said, "And so, most reverend Sir, I
cannot partake of the benefit of reconciliation, which I solicited of

Luther answered shortly, "Reconciliation with your Savior--no! With
the sovereign--that depends upon the success of the attempt which I
promised you to make." And then he motioned to the amanuensis to carry
out, without further delay, the command he had given him. Kohlhaas
laid both hands on his heart with an expression of painful emotion,
and disappeared after the man who was lighting him down the stairs.

On the next morning Luther dispatched a message to the Elector of
Saxony in which, after a bitter allusion to the lords, Hinz and Kunz
Tronka, Chamberlain and Cup-bearer to his Highness, who, as was
generally known, had suppressed the petition, he informed the
sovereign, with the candor that was peculiar to him, that under such
notorious circumstances there was nothing to do but to accept the
proposition of the horse-dealer and to grant him an amnesty for what
had occurred so that he might have opportunity to renew his lawsuit.
Public opinion, Luther remarked, was on the side of this man to a very
dangerous extent--so much so that, even in Wittenberg, which had three
times been burnt down by him, there was a voice raised in his favor.
And since, if his offer were refused, Kohlhaas would undoubtedly bring
it to the knowledge of the people, accompanied by malicious comments,
and the populace might easily be so far misled that nothing further
could be done against him by the authorities of the state, Luther
concluded that, in this extraordinary case, scruples about entering
into negotiations with a subject who had taken up arms must be passed
over; that, as a matter of fact, the latter, by the conduct which had
been observed toward him, had in a sense been cast out of the body
politic, and, in short, in order to put an end to the matter, he
should be regarded rather as a foreign power which had attacked the
land (and, since he was not a Saxon subject, he really might, in a
way, be regarded as such), than as a rebel in revolt against the

When the Elector received this letter there were present at the palace
Prince Christiern of Meissen, Generalissimo of the Empire, uncle of
that Prince Friedrich of Meissen who had been defeated at Muehlberg and
was still laid up with his wounds, also the Grand Chancellor of the
Tribunal, Count Wrede, Count Kallheim, President of the Chancery of
State, and the two lords, Hinz and Kunz Tronka, the former Cup-bearer,
the latter Chamberlain--all confidential friends of the sovereign from
his youth. The Chamberlain, Sir Kunz, who in his capacity of privy
councilor, attended to the private correspondence of his master and
had the right to use his name and seal, was the first to speak. He
once more explained in detail that never, on his own authority, would
he have suppressed the complaint which the horse-dealer had lodged in
court against his cousin the Squire, had it not been for the fact
that, misled by false statements, he had believed it an absolutely
unfounded and worthless piece of mischief-making. After this he passed
on to consider the present state of affairs. He remarked that by
neither divine nor human laws had the horse-dealer been warranted in
wreaking such horrible vengeance as he had allowed himself to take for
this mistake. The Chamberlain then proceeded to describe the glory
that would fall upon the damnable head of the latter if they should
negotiate with him as with a recognized military power, and the
ignominy which would thereby be reflected upon the sacred person of
the Elector seemed to him so intolerable that, carried away by the
fire of his eloquence, he declared he would rather let worst come to
worst, see the judgment of the mad rebel carried out and his cousin,
the Squire, led off to Kohlhaasenbrueck to fatten the black horses,
than know that the proposition made by Dr. Luther had been accepted.

The Lord High Chancellor of the Tribunal of Justice, Count Wrede,
turning half way round toward him, expressed regret that the
Chamberlain had not, in the first instance, been inspired with such
tender solicitude for the reputation of the sovereign as he was
displaying in the solution of this undoubtedly delicate affair. He
represented to the Elector his hesitation about employing the power of
the state to carry out a manifestly unjust measure. He remarked, with
a significant allusion to the great numbers which the horse-dealer was
continually recruiting in the country, that the thread of the crime
threatened in this way to be spun out indefinitely, and declared that
the only way to sunder it and extricate the government happily from
that ugly quarrel was to act with plain honesty and to make good,
directly and without respect of person, the mistake which they had
been guilty of committing.

Prince Christiern of Meissen, when asked by the Elector to express his
opinion, turned deferentially toward the Grand Chancellor and declared
that the latter's way of thinking naturally inspired in him the
greatest respect, but, in wishing to aid Kohlhaas to secure justice,
the Chancellor failed to consider that he was wronging Wittenberg,
Leipzig, and the entire country that had been injured by him, in
depriving them of their just claim for indemnity or at least for
punishment of the culprit. The order of the state was so disturbed in
its relation to this man that it would be difficult to set it right by
an axiom taken from the science of law. Therefore, in accord with the
opinion of the Chamberlain, he was in favor of employing the means
appointed for such cases--that is to say, there should be gathered a
force large enough to enable them either to capture or to crush the
horse-dealer, who had planted himself in the castle at Luetzen. The
Chamberlain brought over two chairs from the wall and obligingly
placed them together in the middle of the room for the Elector and the
Prince, saying, as he did so, that he was delighted to find that a man
of the latter's uprightness and acumen agreed with him about the means
to be employed in settling an affair of such varied aspect. The
Prince, placing his hand on the chair without sitting down, looked at
him, and assured him that he had little cause to rejoice on that
account since the first step connected with this course would be the
issuing of a warrant for his arrest, to be followed by a suit for
misuse of the sovereign's name. For if necessity required that the
veil be drawn before the throne of justice over a series of crimes,
which finally would be unable to find room before the bar of judgment,
since each led to another, and no end--this at least did not apply to
the original offense which had given birth to them. First and
foremost, he, the Chamberlain, must be tried for his life if the state
was to be authorized to crush the horse-dealer, whose case, as was
well known, was exceedingly just, and in whose hand they had placed
the sword that he was wielding.

The discomfited Chamberlain at these words gazed at the Elector, who
turned away, his whole face flushing, and walked over to the window.
After an embarrassing silence on all sides, Count Kallheim said that
this was not the way to extricate themselves from the magic circle in
which they were captive. His nephew, Prince Friedrich, might be put
upon trial with equal justice, for in the peculiar expedition which he
had undertaken against Kohlhaas he had over-stepped his instructions
in many ways--so much so that, if one were to inquire about the whole
long list of those who had caused the embarrassment in which they now
found themselves, he too would have to be named among them and called
to account by the sovereign for what had occurred at Muehlberg.

While the Elector, with doubtful glances, walked up to his table, the
Cup-bearer, Sir Hinz Tronka, began to speak in his turn. He did not
understand, he said, how the governmental decree which was to be
passed could escape men of such wisdom as were here assembled. The
horse-dealer, so far as he knew, in return for mere safe-conduct to
Dresden and a renewed investigation of his case, had promised to
disband the force with which he had attacked the land. It did not
follow from this, however, that he must be granted an amnesty for the
wanton revenge he had taken into his own hands. These were two
different legal concepts which Dr. Luther, as well as the council of
state, seemed to have confounded. "When," he continued, laying his
finger beside his nose, "the judgment concerning the black horses has
been pronounced by the Tribunal at Dresden, no matter what it may be,
nothing prevents us from imprisoning Kohlhaas on the ground of his
incendiarism and robberies. That would be a diplomatic solution of the
affair, which would unite the advantages of the opinion of both
statesmen and would be sure to win the applause of the world and of
posterity." The Prince, as well as the Lord Chancellor, answered this
speech of Sir Hinz with a mere glance, and, as the discussion
accordingly seemed at an end, the Elector said that he would turn over
in his own mind, until the next sitting of the State Council, the
various opinions which had been expressed before him. It seemed as if
the preliminary measure mentioned by the Prince had deprived the
Elector's heart, which was very sensitive where friendship was
concerned, of the desire to proceed with the campaign against
Kohlhaas, all the preparations for which were completed; at least he
bade the Lord Chancellor, Count Wrede, whose opinion appeared to him
the most expedient, to remain after the others left. The latter showed
him letters from which it appeared that, as a matter of fact, the
horse-dealer's forces had already come to number four hundred men;
indeed, in view of the general discontent which prevailed all over the
country on account of the misdemeanors of the Chamberlain, he might
reckon on doubling or even tripling this number in a short time.
Without further hesitation the Elector decided to accept the advice
given him by Dr. Luther; accordingly he handed over to Count Wrede the
entire management of the Kohlhaas affair. Only a few days later a
placard appeared, the essence of which we give as follows:

"We, etc., etc., Elector of Saxony, in especially gracious
consideration of the intercession made to us by Doctor Martin Luther,
do grant to Michael Kohlhaas, horse-dealer from the territory of
Brandenburg, safe-conduct to Dresden for the purpose of a renewed
investigation of his case, on condition that, within three days after
sight, he lay down the arms to which he has had recourse. It is to be
understood, however, that in the unlikely event of Kohlhaas' suit
concerning the black horses being rejected by the Tribunal at Dresden,
he shall be prosecuted with all the severity of the law for
arbitrarily undertaking to procure justice for himself. Should his
suit, however, terminate otherwise, we will show mercy to him and his
whole band, instead of inflicting deserved punishment, and a complete
amnesty shall be accorded him for the acts of violence which he has
committed in Saxony."

Kohlhaas had no sooner received through Dr. Luther a copy of this
placard, which had been posted in all the public squares throughout
the land, than, in spite of the conditional language in which it was
couched, he immediately dispersed his whole band of followers with
presents, expressions of gratitude, and appropriate admonitions. He
deposited whatever he had taken in the way of money, weapons, and
chattels, with the courts at Luetzen, to be held as the property of the
Elector, and after he had dispatched Waldmann to the bailiff at
Kohlhaasenbrueck with letters about repurchasing his farm, if that were
still possible, and had sent Sternbald to Schwerin for his children
whom he wished to have with him again, he left the castle at Luetzen
and went, without being recognized, to Dresden, carrying with him in
bonds the remnant of his little property.

Day was just breaking and the whole city was still asleep when he
knocked at the door of the little dwelling situated in the suburb of
Pirna, which still, thanks to the honesty of the bailiff, belonged to
him. Thomas, the old porter, in charge of the establishment, who on
opening the door was surprised and startled to see his master, was
told to take word to the Prince of Meissen, in the Government Office,
that Kohlhaas the horse-dealer had arrived. The Prince of Meissen, on
hearing this news, deemed it expedient to inform himself immediately
of the relation in which they stood to this man. When, shortly
afterward, he appeared with a retinue of knights and servants, he
found an immense crowd of people already gathered in the streets
leading to Kohlhaas' dwelling. The news that the destroying angel was
there, who punished the oppressors of the people with fire and sword,
had aroused all Dresden, the city as well as the suburbs. They were
obliged to bolt the door of the house against the press of curious
people, and the boys climbed up to the windows in order to get a peep
at the incendiary, who was eating his breakfast inside.

As soon as the Prince, with the help of the guard who cleared the way
for him, had pushed into the house and entered Kohlhaas' room, he
asked the latter, who was standing half undressed before a table,
whether he was Kohlhaas, the horse-dealer. Kohlhaas, drawing from his
belt a wallet containing several papers concerning his affairs and
handing it respectfully to the Prince, answered, "Yes;" and added
that, in conformity with the immunity granted him by the sovereign, he
had come to Dresden, after disbanding his force, in order to institute
proceedings against Squire Wenzel Tronka on account of the black

The Prince, after a hasty glance which took Kohlhaas in from head to
foot, looked through the papers in the wallet and had him explain the
nature of a certificate which he found there executed by the court at
Luetzen, concerning the deposit made in favor of the treasury of the
Electorate. After he had further tested him with various questions
about his children, his wealth, and the sort of life he intended to
lead in the future, in order to find out what kind of man he was, and
had concluded that in every respect they might set their minds at rest
about him, he gave him back the documents and said that nothing now
stood in the way of his lawsuit, and that, in order to institute it,
he should just apply directly to the Lord High Chancellor of the
Tribunal, Count Wrede himself. "In the meantime," said the Prince
after a pause, crossing over to the window and gazing in amazement at
the people gathered in front of the house, "you will be obliged to
consent to a guard for the first few days, to protect you in your
house as well as when you go out!" Kohlhaas looked down disconcerted,
and was silent. "Well, no matter," said the Prince, leaving the
window; "whatever happens, you have yourself to blame for it;" and
with that he turned again toward the door with the intention of
leaving the house. Kohlhaas, who had reflected, said "My lord, do as
you like! If you will give me your word that the guard will be
withdrawn as soon as I wish it, I have no objection to this measure."
The Prince answered, "That is understood, of course." He informed the
three foot-soldiers, who were appointed for this purpose, that the man
in whose house they were to remain was free, and that it was merely
for his protection that they were to follow him when he went out; he
then saluted the horse-dealer with a condescending wave of the hand,
and took his leave.

Toward midday Kohlhaas went to Count Wrede, Lord High Chancellor of
the Tribunal; he was escorted by his three foot-soldiers and followed
by an innumerable crowd, who, having been warned by the police, did
not try to harm him in any way. The Chancellor received him in his
antechamber with benignity and kindness, conversed with him for two
whole hours, and after he had had the entire course of the affair
related to him from beginning to end, referred Kohlhaas to a
celebrated lawyer in the city who was a member of the Tribunal, so
that he might have the complaint drawn up and presented immediately.

Kohlhaas, without further delay, betook himself to the lawyer's house
and had the suit drawn up exactly like the original one which had been
quashed. He demanded the punishment of the Squire according to law,
the restoration of the horses to their former condition, and
compensation for the damages he had sustained as well as for those
suffered by his groom, Herse, who had fallen at Muehlberg in behalf of
the latter's old mother. When this was done Kohlhaas returned home,
accompanied by the crowd that still continued to gape at him, firmly
resolved in his mind not to leave the house again unless called away
by important business.

In the mean time the Squire had been released from his imprisonment in
Wittenberg, and after recovering from a dangerous attack of erysipelas
which had caused inflammation of his foot, had been summoned by the
Supreme Court in peremptory terms to present himself in Dresden to
answer the suit instituted against him by the horse-dealer, Kohlhaas,
with regard to a pair of black horses which had been unlawfully taken
from him and worked to death. The Tronka brothers, the Chamberlain and
the Cup-bearer, cousins of the Squire, at whose house he alighted,
received him with the greatest bitterness and contempt. They called
him a miserable good-for-nothing, who had brought shame and disgrace
on the whole family, told him that he would inevitably lose his suit,
and called upon him to prepare at once to produce the black horses,
which he would be condemned to fatten to the scornful laughter of the
world. The Squire answered in a weak and trembling voice that he was
more deserving of pity than any other man on earth. He swore that he
had known but little about the whole cursed affair which had plunged
him into misfortune, and that the castellan and the steward were to
blame for everything, because they, without his knowledge or consent,
had used the horses in getting in the crops and, by overworking them,
partly in their own fields, had rendered them unfit for further use.
He sat down as he said this and begged them not to mortify and insult
him and thus wantonly cause a relapse of the illness from which he had
but recently recovered.

Since there was nothing else to be done, the next day, at the request
of their cousin, the Squire, the lords Hinz and Kunz, who possessed
estates in the neighborhood of Tronka Castle, which had been burned
down, wrote to their stewards and to the farmers living there for
information about the black horses which had been lost on that
unfortunate day and not heard of since. But on account of the complete
destruction of the castle and the massacre of most of the inhabitants,
all that they could learn was that a servant, driven by blows dealt
with the flat of the incendiary's sword, had rescued them from the
burning shed in which they were standing, but that afterward, to the
question where he should take them and what he should do with them, he
had been answered by a kick from the savage madman. The Squire's gouty
old housekeeper, who had fled to Meissen, assured the latter, in reply
to his written inquiry, that on the morning after that horrible night
the servant had gone off with the horses toward the Brandenburg
border, but all inquiries which were made there proved vain, and some
error seemed to lie at the bottom of this information, as the Squire
had no servant whose home was in Brandenburg or even on the road
thither. Some men from Dresden, who had been in Wilsdruf a few days
after the burning of Tronka Castle, declared that, at the time named,
a groom had arrived in that place, leading two horses by the halter,
and, as the animals were very sick and could go no further, he had
left them in the cow-stable of a shepherd who had offered to restore
them to good condition. For a variety of reasons it seemed very
probable that these were the black horses for which search was being
made, but persons coming from Wilsdruf declared that the shepherd had
already traded them off again, no one knew to whom; and a third rumor,
the originator of which could not be discovered, even asserted that
the two horses had in the mean time passed peacefully away and been
buried in the carrion pit at Wilsdruf.

This turn of affairs, as can be easily understood, was the most
pleasing to the lords Hinz and Kunz, as they were thus relieved of the
necessity of fattening the blacks in their stables, the Squire, their
cousin, no longer having any stables of his own. They wished, however,
for the sake of absolute security, to verify this circumstance. Sir
Wenzel Tronka, therefore, in his capacity as hereditary feudal lord
with the right of judicature, addressed a letter to the magistrates at
Wilsdruf, in which, after a minute description of the black horses,
which, as he said, had been intrusted to his care and lost through an
accident, he begged them to be so obliging as to ascertain their
present whereabouts, and to urge and admonish the owner, whoever he
might be, to deliver them at the stables of the Chamberlain, Sir Kunz,
in Dresden, and be generously reimbursed for all costs. Accordingly, a
few days later, the man to whom the shepherd in Wilsdruf had sold them
did actually appear with the horses, thin and staggering, tied to the
tailboard of his cart, and led them to the market-place in Dresden. As
the bad luck of Sir Wenzel and still more of honest Kohlhaas would
have it, however, the man happened to be the knacker from Doebeln.

As soon as Sir Wenzel, in the presence of the Chamberlain, his
cousin, learned from an indefinite rumor that a man had arrived in the
city with two black horses which had escaped from the burning of
Tronka Castle, both gentlemen, accompanied by a few servants hurriedly
collected in the house, went to the palace square where the man had
stopped, intending, if the two animals proved to be those belonging to
Kohlhaas, to make good the expenses the man had incurred and take the
horses home with them. But how disconcerted were the knights to see a
momentarily increasing crowd of people, who had been attracted by the
spectacle, already standing around the two-wheeled cart to which the
horses were fastened! Amid uninterrupted laughter they were calling to
one another that the horses, on account of which the whole state was
tottering, already belonged to the knacker! The Squire who had gone
around the cart and gazed at the miserable animals, which seemed every
moment about to expire, said in an embarrassed way that those were not
the horses which he had taken from Kohlhaas; but Sir Kunz, the
Chamberlain, casting at him a look of speechless rage which, had it
been of iron, would have dashed him to pieces, and throwing back his
cloak to disclose his orders and chain, stepped up to the knacker and
asked if those were the black horses which the shepherd at Wilsdruf
had gained possession of, and for which Squire Wenzel Tronka, to whom
they belonged, had made requisition through the magistrate of that

The knacker who, with a pail of water in his hand, was busy watering a
fat, sturdy horse that was drawing his cart asked--"The blacks?" Then
he put down the pail, took the bit out of the horse's mouth, and
explained that the black horses which were tied to the tailboard of
the cart had been sold to him by the swineherd in Hainichen; where the
latter had obtained them and whether they came from the shepherd at
Wilsdruf--that he did not know. "He had been told," he continued,
taking up the pail again and propping it between the pole of the cart
and his knee "he had been told by the messenger of the court at
Wilsdruf to take the horses to the house of the Tronkas in Dresden,
but the Squire to whom he had been directed was named Kunz." With
these words he turned around with the rest of the water which the
horse had left in the pail, and emptied it out on the pavement. The
Chamberlain, who was beset by the stares of the laughing, jeering
crowd and could not induce the fellow, who was attending to his
business with phlegmatic zeal, to look at him, said that he was the
Chamberlain Kunz Tronka. The black horses, however, which he was to
get possession of, had to be those belonging to the Squire, his
cousin; they must have been given to the shepherd at Wilsdruf by a
stable-man who had run away from Tronka Castle at the time of the
fire; moreover, they must be the two horses that originally had
belonged to the horse-dealer Kohlhaas. He asked the fellow, who was
standing there with his legs apart, pulling up his trousers, whether
he did not know something about all this. Had not the swineherd of
Hainichen, he went on, perhaps purchased these horses from the
shepherd at Wilsdruf, or from a third person, who in turn had bought
them from the latter?--for everything depended on this circumstance.

The knacker replied that he had been ordered to go with the black
horses to Dresden and was to receive the money for them in the house
of the Tronkas. He did not understand what the Squire was talking
about, and whether it was Peter or Paul, or the shepherd in Wilsdruf,
who had owned them before the swineherd in Hainichen, was all one to
him so long as they had not been stolen; and with this he went off,
with his whip across his broad back, to a public house which stood in
the square, with the intention of getting some breakfast, as he was
very hungry.

The Chamberlain, who for the life of him didn't know what he should do
with the horses which the swineherd of Hainichen had sold to the
knacker of Doebeln, unless they were those on which the devil was
riding through Saxony, asked the Squire to say something; but when
the latter with white, trembling lips replied that it would be
advisable to buy the black horses whether they belonged to Kohlhaas or
not, the Chamberlain, cursing the father and mother who had given
birth to the Squire, stepped aside out of the crowd and threw back his
cloak, absolutely at a loss to know what he should do or leave undone.
Defiantly determined not to leave the square just because the rabble
were staring at him derisively and with their handkerchiefs pressed
tight over their mouths seemed to be waiting only for him to depart
before bursting out into laughter, he called to Baron Wenk, an
acquaintance who happened to be riding by, and begged him to stop at
the house of the Lord High Chancellor, Count Wrede, and through the
latter's instrumentality to have Kohlhaas brought there to look at the
black horses.

When the Baron, intent upon this errand, entered the chamber of the
Lord High Chancellor, it so happened that Kohlhaas was just then
present, having been summoned by a messenger of the court to give
certain explanations of which they stood in need concerning the
deposit in Luetzen. While the Chancellor, with an annoyed look, rose
from his chair and asked the horse-dealer, whose person was unknown to
the Baron, to step to one side with his papers, the latter informed
him of the dilemma in which the lords Tronka found themselves. He
explained that the knacker from Doebeln, acting on a defective
requisition from the court at Wilsdruf, had appeared with horses whose
condition was so frightful that Squire Wenzel could not help
hesitating to pronounce them the ones belonging to Kohlhaas. In case
they were to be taken from the knacker not-withstanding, and an
attempt made to restore them to good condition in the stables of the
knights, an ocular inspection by Kohlhaas would first be necessary in
order to establish the aforesaid circumstance beyond doubt. "Will you
therefore have the goodness," he concluded, "to have a guard fetch the
horse-dealer from his house and conduct him to the market-place where
the horses are standing?" The Lord High Chancellor, taking his glasses
from his nose, said that the Baron was laboring under a double
delusion--first, in thinking that the fact in question could be
ascertained only by means of an ocular inspection by Kohlhaas, and
then, in imagining that he, the Chancellor, possessed the authority to
have Kohlhaas taken by a guard wherever the Squire happened to wish.
With this he presented to him Kohlhaas who was standing behind him,
and sitting down and putting on his glasses again, begged him to apply
to the horse-dealer himself in the matter.

Kohlhaas, whose expression gave no hint of what was going on in his
mind, said that he was ready to follow the Baron to the market-place
and inspect the black horses which the knacker had brought to the
city. As the disconcerted Baron faced around toward him, Kohlhaas
stepped up to the table of the Chancellor, and, after taking time to
explain to him, with the help of the papers in his wallet, several
matters concerning the deposit in Luetzen, took his leave. The Baron,
who had walked over to the window, his face suffused with a deep
blush, likewise made his adieux, and both, escorted by the three
foot-soldiers assigned by the Prince of Meissen, took their way to the
Palace square attended by a great crowd of people.

In the mean time the Chamberlain, Sir Kunz, in spite of the protests
of several friends who had joined him, had stood his ground among the
people, opposite the knacker of Doebeln. As soon as the Baron and the
horse-dealer appeared he went up to the latter and, holding his sword
proudly and ostentatiously under his arm, asked if the horses standing
behind the wagon were his.

The horse-dealer, turning modestly toward the gentleman who had asked
him the question and who was unknown to him, touched his hat; then,
without answering, he walked toward the knacker's cart, surrounded by
all the knights. The animals were standing there on unsteady legs,
with heads bowed down to the ground, making no attempt to eat the hay
which the knacker had placed before them. Kohlhaas stopped a dozen
feet away, and after a hasty glance turned back again to the
Chamberlain, saying, "My lord, the knacker is quite right; the horses
which are fastened to his cart belong to me!" As he spoke he looked
around at the whole circle of knights, touched his hat once more, and
left the square, accompanied by his guard.

At these words the Chamberlain, with a hasty step that made the plume
of his helmet tremble, strode up to the knacker and threw him a purse
full of money. And while the latter, holding the purse in his hand,
combed the hair back from his forehead with a leaden comb and stared
at the money, Sir Kunz ordered a groom to untie the horses and lead
them home. The groom, at the summons of his master, left a group of
his friends and relatives among the crowd; his face flushed slightly,
but he did, nevertheless, go up to the horses, stepping over a big
puddle that had formed at their feet. No sooner, however, had he taken
hold of the halter to untie them, than Master Himboldt, his cousin,
seized him by the arm, and with the words, "You shan't touch the
knacker's jades!" hurled him away from the cart. Then, stepping back
unsteadily over the puddle, the Master turned toward the Chamberlain,
who was standing there, speechless with astonishment at this incident,
and added that he must get a knacker's man to do him such a service as
that. The Chamberlain, foaming with rage, stared at Master Himboldt
for a moment, then turned about and, over the heads of the knights who
surrounded him, called for the guard. When, in obedience to the orders
of Baron Wenk, an officer with some of the Elector's bodyguards had
arrived from the palace, Sir Kunz gave him a short account of the
shameful way in which the burghers of the city permitted themselves to
instigate revolt, and called upon the officer to place the ringleader,
Master Himboldt, under arrest. Seizing the Master by the chest, the
Chamberlain accused him of having maltreated and thrust away from the
cart the groom who, at his orders, was unhitching the black horses.
The Master, freeing himself from the Chamberlain's grasp with a
skilful twist which forced the latter to step back, cried, "My lord,
showing a boy of twenty what he ought to do is not instigating him to
revolt! Ask him whether, contrary to all that is customary and decent,
he cares to have anything to do with those horses that are tied to the
cart. If he wants to do it after what I have said, well and good. For
all I care, he may flay and skin them now."

At these words the Chamberlain turned round to the groom and asked him
if he had any scruples about fulfilling his command to untie the
horses which belonged to Kohlhaas and lead them home. When the groom,
stepping back among the citizens, answered timidly that the horses
must be made honorable once more before that could be expected of him,
the Chamberlain followed him, tore from the young man's head the hat
which was decorated with the badge of his house, and, after trampling
it under his feet, drew his sword and with furious blows drove the
groom instantly from the square and from his service. Master Himboldt
cried, "Down with the bloodthirsty madman, friends!" And while the
citizens, outraged at this scene, crowded together and forced back the
guard, he came up behind the Chamberlain and threw him down, tore off
his cloak, collar, and helmet, wrenched the sword from his hand, and
dashed it with a furious fling far away across the square.

In vain did the Squire Wenzel, as he worked his way out of the crowd,
call to the knights to go to his cousin's aid; even before they had
started to rescue him, they had been so scattered by the rush of the
mob that the Chamberlain, who in falling had injured his head, was
exposed to the full wrath of the crowd. The only thing that saved him
was the appearance of a troop of mounted soldiers who chanced to be
crossing the square, and whom the officer of the Elector's body-guards
called to his assistance. The officer, after dispersing the crowd,
seized the furious Master Himboldt, and, while some of the troopers
bore him off to prison, two friends picked up the unfortunate
Chamberlain, who was covered with blood, and carried him home.

Such was the unfortunate outcome of the well-meant and honest attempt
to procure the horse-dealer satisfaction for the injustice that had
been committed against him. The knacker of Doebeln, whose business was
concluded, and who did not wish to delay any longer, tied the horses
to a lamppost, since the crowd was beginning to scatter, and there
they remained the whole day through without any one's bothering about
them, an object of mockery for the street-arabs and loafers. Finally,
since they lacked any sort of care and attention, the police were
obliged to take them in hand, and, toward evening, the knacker of
Dresden was called to carry them off to the knacker's house outside
the city to await further instructions.

This incident, as little as the horse-dealer was in reality to blame
for it, nevertheless awakened throughout the country, even among the
more moderate and better class of people, a sentiment extremely
dangerous to the success of his lawsuit. The relation of this man to
the state was felt to be quite intolerable and, in private houses as
well as in public places, the opinion gained ground that it would be
better to commit an open injustice against him and quash the whole
lawsuit anew, rather than, for the mere sake of satisfying his mad
obstinacy, to accord him in so trivial a matter justice which he had
wrung from them by deeds of violence.

To complete the ruin of poor Kohlhaas, it was the Lord High Chancellor
himself, animated by too great probity, and a consequent hatred of the
Tronka family, who helped strengthen and spread this sentiment. It was
highly improbable that the horses, which were now being cared for by
the knacker of Dresden, would ever be restored to the condition they
were in when they left the stables at Kohlhaasenbrueck. However,
granted that this might be possible by skilful and constant care,
nevertheless the disgrace which, as a result of the existing
circumstances, had fallen upon the Squire's family was so great that,
in consideration of the political importance which the house
possessed--being, as it was, one of the oldest and noblest families in
the land--nothing seemed more just and expedient than to arrange a
money indemnity for the horses. In spite of this, a few days later,
when the President, Count Kallheim, in the name of the Chamberlain,
who was deterred by his sickness, sent a letter to the Chancellor
containing this proposition, the latter did indeed send a
communication to Kohlhaas in which he admonished him not to decline
such a proposition should it be made to him; but in a short and rather
curt answer to the President himself the Chancellor begged him not to
bother him with private commissions in this matter and advised the
Chamberlain to apply to the horse-dealer himself, whom he described as
a very just and modest man. The horse-dealer, whose will was, in fact,
broken by the incident which had occurred in the market-place, was, in
conformity with the advice of the Lord Chancellor, only waiting for an
overture on the part of the Squire or his relatives in order to meet
them half-way with perfect willingness and forgiveness for all that
had happened; but to make this overture entailed too great a sacrifice
of dignity on the part of the proud knights. Very much incensed by the
answer they had received from the Lord Chancellor, they showed the
same to the Elector, who on the morning of the following day had
visited the Chamberlain in his room where he was confined to his bed
with his wounds.

In a voice rendered weak and pathetic by his condition, the
Chamberlain asked the Elector whether, after risking his life to
settle this affair according to his sovereign's wishes, he must also
expose his honor to the censure of the world and to appear with a
request for relenting and compromise before a man who had brought
every imaginable shame and disgrace on him and his family.

The Elector, after having read the letter, asked Count Kallheim in an
embarrassed way whether, without further communication with Kohlhaas,
the Tribunal were not authorized to base its decision on the fact that
the horses could not be restored to their original condition, and in
conformity therewith to draw up the judgment just as if the horses
were dead, on the sole basis of a money indemnity.

The Count answered, "Most gracious sovereign, they are dead; they are
dead in the sight of the law because they have no value, and they will
be so physically before they can be brought from the knacker's house
to the knights' stables." To this the Elector, putting the letter in
his pocket, replied that he would himself speak to the Lord Chancellor
about it. He spoke soothingly to the Chamberlain, who raised himself
on his elbow and seized his hand in gratitude, and, after lingering a
moment to urge him to take care of his health, rose with a very
gracious air and left the room.

Thus stood affairs in Dresden, when from the direction of Luetzen there
gathered over poor Kohlhaas another thunder-storm, even more serious,
whose lightning-flash the crafty knights were clever enough to draw
down upon the horse-dealer's unlucky head. It so happened that one of
the band of men that Kohlhaas had collected and turned off again after
the appearance of the electoral amnesty, Johannes Nagelschmidt by
name, had found it expedient, some weeks later, to muster again on the
Bohemian frontier a part of this rabble which was ready to take part
in any infamy, and to continue on his own account the profession on
the track of which Kohlhaas had put him. This good-for-nothing fellow
called himself a vicegerent of Kohlhaas, partly to inspire with fear
the officers of the law who were after him, and partly, by the use of
familiar methods, to beguile the country people into participating in
his rascalities. With a cleverness which he had learned from his
master, he had it noised abroad that the amnesty had not been kept in
the case of several men who had quietly returned to their
homes--indeed that Kohlhaas himself had, with a faithlessness which
cried aloud to heaven, been arrested on his arrival in Dresden and
placed under a guard. He carried it so far that, in manifestos which
were very similar to those of Kohlhaas, his incendiary band appeared
as an army raised solely for the glory of God and meant to watch over
the observance of the amnesty promised by the Elector. All this, as we
have already said, was done by no means for the glory of God nor out
of attachment for Kohlhaas, whose fate was a matter of absolute
indifference to the outlaws, but in order to enable them, under cover
of such dissimulation, to burn and plunder with the greater ease and

When the first news of this reached Dresden the knights could not
conceal their joy over the occurrence, which lent an entirely
different aspect to the whole matter. With wise and displeased
allusions they recalled the mistake which had been made when, in spite
of their urgent and repeated warnings, an amnesty had been granted
Kohlhaas, as if those who had been in favor of it had had the
deliberate intention of giving to miscreants of all kinds the signal
to follow in his footsteps. Not content with crediting Nagelschmidt's
pretext that he had taken up arms merely to lend support and security
to his oppressed master, they even expressed the decided opinion that
his whole course was nothing but an enterprise contrived by Kohlhaas
in order to frighten the government, and to hasten and insure the
rendering of a verdict, which, point for point, should satisfy his mad
obstinacy. Indeed the Cup-bearer, Sir Hinz, went so far as to declare
to some hunting-pages and courtiers who had gathered round him after
dinner in the Elector's antechamber that the breaking up of the
marauding band in Luetzen had been but a cursed pretense. He was very
merry over the Lord High Chancellor's alleged love of justice; by
cleverly connecting various circumstances he proved that the band was
still extant in the forests of the Electorate and was only waiting for
a signal from the horse-dealer to break out anew with fire and sword.

Prince Christiern of Meissen, very much displeased at this turn in
affairs, which threatened to fleck his sovereign's honor in the most
painful manner, went immediately to the palace to confer with the
Elector. He saw quite clearly that it would be to the interest of the
knights to ruin Kohlhaas, if possible, on the ground of new crimes,
and he begged the Elector to give him permission to have an immediate
judicial examination of the horse-dealer. Kohlhaas, somewhat
astonished at being conducted to the Government Office by a constable,
appeared with his two little boys, Henry and Leopold, in his arms; for
Sternbald, his servant, had arrived the day before with his five
children from Mecklenburg, where they had been staying. When Kohlhaas
had started to leave for the Government Office the two boys had burst
into childish tears, begging him to take them along, and various
considerations too intricate to unravel made him decide to pick them
up and carry them with him to the hearing. Kohlhaas placed the
children beside him, and the Prince, after looking benevolently at
them and asking, with friendly interest, their names and ages, went on
to inform Kohlhaas what liberties Nagelschmidt, his former follower,
was taking in the valleys of the Ore Mountains, and handing him the
latter's so-called mandates he told him to produce whatever he had to
offer for his vindication. Although the horse-dealer was deeply
alarmed by these shameful and traitorous papers, he nevertheless had
little difficulty in explaining satisfactorily to so upright a man as
the Prince the groundlessness of the accusations brought against him
on this score. Besides the fact that, so far as he could observe, he
did not, as the matter now stood, need any help as yet from a third
person in bringing about the decision of his lawsuit, which was
proceeding most favorably, some papers which he had with him and
showed to the Prince made it appear highly improbable that
Nagelschmidt should be inclined to render him help of that sort, for,
shortly before the dispersion of the band in Luetzen, he had been on
the point of having the fellow hanged for a rape committed in the
open country, and other rascalities. Only the appearance of the
electoral amnesty had saved Nagelschmidt, as it had severed all
relations between them, and on the next day they had parted as mortal

Kohlhaas, with the Prince's approval of the idea, sat down and wrote a
letter to Nagelschmidt in which he declared that the latter's pretense
of having taken the field in order to maintain the amnesty which had
been violated with regard to him and his band, was a disgraceful and
vicious fabrication. He told him that, on his arrival in Dresden, he
had neither been imprisoned nor handed over to a guard, also that his
lawsuit was progressing exactly as he wished, and, as a warning for
the rabble who had gathered around Nagelschmidt, he gave him over to
the full vengeance of the law for the outrages which he had committed
in the Ore Mountains after the publication of the amnesty. Some
portions of the criminal prosecution which the horse-dealer had
instituted against him in the castle at Luetzen on account of the
above-mentioned disgraceful acts, were also appended to the letter to
enlighten the people concerning the good-for-nothing fellow, who even
at that time had been destined for the gallows, and, as already
stated, had only been saved by the edict issued by the Elector. In
consequence of this letter the Prince appeased Kohlhaas' displeasure
at the suspicion which, of necessity, they had been obliged to express
in this hearing; he went on to declare that, while he remained in
Dresden, the amnesty granted him should not be violated in any way;
then, after presenting to the boys some fruit that was on his table,
he shook hands with them once more, saluted Kohlhaas, and dismissed

The Lord High Chancellor, who nevertheless recognized the danger that
was threatening the horse-dealer, did his utmost to bring his lawsuit
to an end before it should be complicated and confused by new
developments; this, however, was exactly what the diplomatic knights
desired and aimed at. Instead of silently acknowledging their guilt,
as at first, and obtaining merely a less severe sentence, they now
began with pettifogging and crafty subterfuges to deny this guilt
itself entirely. Sometimes they pretended that the black horses
belonging to Kohlhaas had been detained at Tronka Castle on the
arbitrary authority of the castellan and the steward, and that the
Squire had known little, if anything, of their actions. At other times
they declared that, even on their arrival at the castle, the animals
had been suffering from a violent and dangerous cough, and, in
confirmation of the fact, they referred to witnesses whom they pledged
themselves to produce. Forced to withdraw these arguments after many
long-drawn-out investigations and explanations, they even cited an
electoral edict of twelve years before, in which the importation of
horses from Brandenburg into Saxony had actually been forbidden, on
account of a plague among the cattle. This circumstance, according to
them, made it as clear as day that the Squire not only had the
authority, but also was under obligation, to hold up the horses that
Kohlhaas had brought across the border. Kohlhaas, meanwhile, had
bought back his farm at Kohlhaasenbrueck from the honest bailiff, in
return for a small compensation for the loss sustained. He wished,
apparently in connection with the legal settlement of this business,
to leave Dresden for some days and return to his home, in which
determination, however, the above-mentioned matter of business,
imperative as it may actually have been on account of sowing the
winter crops, undoubtedly played less part than the intention of
testing his position under such unusual and critical circumstances. He
may perhaps also have been influenced by reasons of still another kind
which we will leave to every one who is acquainted with his own heart
to divine.

In pursuance of this resolve he betook himself to the Lord Chancellor,
leaving behind the guard which had been assigned to him. He carried
with him the letters from the bailiff, and explained that if, as
seemed to be the case, he were not urgently needed in court, he would
like to leave the city and go to Brandenburg for a week or ten days,
within which time he promised to be back again. The Lord High
Chancellor, looking down with a displeased and dubious expression,
replied that he must acknowledge that Kohlhaas' presence was more
necessary just then than ever, as the court, on account of the
prevaricating and tricky tactics of the opposition, required his
statements and explanations at a thousand points that could not be
foreseen. However, when Kohlhaas referred him to his lawyer, who was
well informed concerning the lawsuit, and with modest importunity
persisted in his request, promising to confine his absence to a week,
the Lord Chancellor, after a pause, said briefly, as he dismissed him,
that he hoped that Kohlhaas would apply to Prince Christiern of
Meissen for passports.

Kohlhaas, who could read the Lord Chancellor's face perfectly, was
only strengthened in his determination. He sat down immediately and,
without giving any reason, asked the Prince of Meissen, as head of the
Government Office, to furnish him passports for a week's journey to
Kohlhaasenbrueck and back. In reply to this letter he received a
cabinet order signed by the Governor of the Palace, Baron Siegfried
Wenk, to the effect that his request for passports to Kohlhaasenbrueck
would be laid before his serene highness the Elector, and as soon as
his gracious consent had been received the passports would be sent to
him. When Kohlhaas inquired of his lawyer how the cabinet order came
to be signed by a certain Baron, Siegfried Wenk, and not by Prince
Christiern of Meissen to whom he had applied, he was told that the
Prince had set out for his estates three days before, and during his
absence the affairs of the Government Office had been put in the hands
of the Governor of the Palace, Baron Siegfried Wenk, a cousin of the
gentleman of the same name who has been already mentioned.

Kohlhaas, whose heart was beginning to beat uneasily amid all these
complications, waited several days for the decision concerning his
petition which had been laid before the person of the sovereign with
such a surprising amount of formality. A week passed, however, and
more than a week, without the arrival of this decision; nor had
judgment been pronounced by the Tribunal, although it had been
definitely promised him. Finally, on the twelfth day, Kohlhaas, firmly
resolved to force the government to proclaim its intentions toward
him, let them be what they would, sat down and, in an urgent request,
once more asked the Government Office for the desired passports. On
the evening of the following day, which had likewise passed without
the expected answer, he was walking up and down, thoughtfully
considering his position and especially the amnesty procured for him
by Dr. Luther, when, on approaching the window of his little back
room, he was astonished not to see the soldiers in the little
out-building on the courtyard which he had designated as quarters for
the guard assigned him by the Prince of Meissen at the time of his
arrival. He called Thomas, the old porter, to him and asked what it
meant. The latter answered with a sigh, "Sir, something is wrong! The
soldiers, of whom there are more today than usual, distributed
themselves around the whole house when it began to grow dark; two with
shield and spear are standing in the street before the front door, two
are at the back door in the garden, and two others are lying on a
truss of straw in the vestibule and say that they are going to sleep

Kohlhaas grew pale and turned away, adding that it really did not
matter, provided they were still there, and that when Thomas went down
into the corridor he should place a light so that the soldiers could
see. Then he opened the shutter of the front window under the pretext
of emptying a vessel, and convinced himself of the truth of the
circumstance of which the old man had informed him, for just at that
moment the guard was actually being changed without a sound, a
precaution which had never before entered any one's head as long as
the arrangement had existed. After which, Kohlhaas, having made up his
mind immediately what he would do on the morrow, went to bed, though,
to be sure, he felt little desire to sleep. For nothing in the course
of the government with which he was dealing displeased him more than
this outward form of justice, while in reality it was violating in his
case the amnesty promised him, and in case he were to be considered
really a prisoner--as could no longer be doubted--he intended to wring
from the government the definite and straightforward statement that
such was the case.

In accordance with this plan, at earliest dawn he had Sternbald, his
groom, harness his wagon and drive up to the door, intending, as he
explained, to drive to Lockwitz to see the steward, an old
acquaintance of his, who had met him a few days before in Dresden and
had invited him and his children to visit him some time. The soldiers,
who, putting their heads together, had watched the stir which these
preparations were causing in the household, secretly sent off one of
their number to the city and, a few minutes later, a government clerk
appeared at the head of several constables and went into the house
opposite, pretending to have some business there. Kohlhaas, who was
occupied in dressing his boys, likewise noticed the commotion and
intentionally kept the wagon waiting in front of the house longer than
was really necessary. As soon as he saw that the arrangements of the
police were completed, without paying any attention to them he came
out before the house with his children. He said, in passing, to the
group of soldiers standing in the doorway that they did not need to
follow him; then he lifted the boys into the wagon and kissed and
comforted the weeping little girls who, in obedience to his orders,
were to remain behind with the daughter of the old porter. He had no
sooner climbed up on the wagon himself than the government clerk, with
the constables who accompanied him, stepped up from the opposite
house and asked where he was going. To the answer of Kohlhaas that he
was going to Lockwitz to see his friend, the steward, who a few days
before had invited him and his two boys to visit him in the country,
the clerk replied that in that case Kohlhaas must wait a few moments,
as some mounted soldiers would accompany him in obedience to the order
of the Prince of Meissen. From his seat on the wagon Kohlhaas asked
smilingly whether he thought that his life would not be safe in the
house of a friend who had offered to entertain him at his table for a

The official answered in a pleasant, joking way that the danger was
certainly not very great, adding that the soldiers were not to
incommode him in any way. Kohlhaas replied, seriously, that on his
arrival in Dresden the Prince of Meissen had left it to his own choice
whether he would make use of the guard or not, and as the clerk seemed
surprised at this circumstance and with carefully chosen phrases
reminded him that he had employed the guard during the whole time of
his presence in the city, the horse-dealer related to him the incident
which had led to the placing of the soldiers in his house. The clerk
assured him that the orders of the Governor of the Palace, Baron Wenk,
who was at that moment head of the police force, made it his duty to
watch over Kohlhaas' person continually, and begged him, if he would
not consent to the escort, to go to the Government Office himself so
as to correct the mistake which must exist in the matter. Kohlhaas
threw a significant glance at the clerk and, determined to put an end
to the matter by hook or by crook, said that he would do so. With a
beating heart he got down from the wagon, had the porter carry the
children back into the corridor, and while his servant remained before
the house with the wagon, Kohlhaas went off to the Government Office,
accompanied by the clerk and his guard.

It happened that the Governor of the Palace, Baron Wenk, was busy at
the moment inspecting a band of Nagelschmidt's followers who had been
captured in the neighborhood of Leipzig and brought to Dresden the
previous evening. The knights who were with the Governor were just
questioning the fellows about a great many things which the government
was anxious to learn from them, when the horse-dealer entered the room
with his escort. The Baron, as soon as he caught sight of Kohlhaas,
went up to him and asked him what he wanted, while the knights grew
suddenly silent and interrupted the interrogation of the prisoners.
When Kohlhaas had respectfully submitted to him his purpose of going
to dine with the steward at Lockwitz, and expressed the wish to be
allowed to leave behind the soldiers of whom he had no need, the
Baron, changing color and seeming to swallow some words of a different
nature, answered that Kohlhaas would do well to stay quietly at home
and to postpone for the present the feast at the Lockwitz steward's.
With that he turned to the clerk, thus cutting short the whole
conversation, and told him that the order which he had given him with
regard to this man held good, and that the latter must not leave the
city unless accompanied by six mounted soldiers.

Kohlhaas asked whether he were a prisoner, and whether he should
consider that the amnesty which had been solemnly promised to him
before the eyes of the whole world had been broken. At which the
Baron, his face turning suddenly a fiery red, wheeled around and,
stepping close up to him and looking him in the eyes, answered, "Yes!
Yes! Yes!" Then he turned his back upon him and, leaving Kohlhaas
standing there, returned to Nagelschmidt's followers.

At this Kohlhaas left the room, and although he realized that the
steps he had taken had rendered much more difficult the only means of
rescue that remained, namely, flight, he nevertheless was glad he had
done as he had, since he was now, on his part, likewise released from
obligation to observe the conditions of the amnesty. When he reached
home he had the horses unharnessed, and, very sad and shaken, went to
his room accompanied by the government clerk. While this man, in a way
which aroused the horse-dealer's disgust, assured him that it must all
be due to a misunderstanding which would shortly be cleared up, the
constables, at a sign from him, bolted all the exits which led from
the house into the courtyard. At the same time the clerk assured
Kohlhaas that the main entrance at the front of the house still
remained open and that he could use it as he pleased.

Nagelschmidt, meanwhile, had been so hard pushed on all sides by
constables and soldiers in the woods of the Ore Mountains, that,
entirely deprived, as he was, of the necessary means of carrying
through a role of the kind which he had undertaken, he hit upon the
idea of inducing Kohlhaas to take sides with him in reality. As a
traveler passing that way had informed him fairly accurately of the
status of Kohlhaas' lawsuit in Dresden, he believed that, in spite of
the open enmity which existed between them, he could persuade the
horse-dealer to enter into a new alliance with him. He therefore sent
off one of his men to him with a letter, written in almost unreadable
German, to the effect that if he would come to Altenburg and resume
command of the band which had gathered there from the remnants of his
former troops who had been dispersed, he, Nagelschmidt, was ready to
assist him to escape from his imprisonment in Dresden by furnishing
him with horses, men, and money. At the same time he promised Kohlhaas
that, in the future, he would be more obedient and in general better
and more orderly than he had been before; and to prove his
faithfulness and devotion he pledged himself to come in person to the
outskirts of Dresden in order to effect Kohlhaas' deliverance from his

The fellow charged with delivering this letter had the bad luck, in a
village close to Dresden, to be seized with a violent fit, such as he
had been subject to from childhood. In this situation, the letter
which he was carrying in his vest was found by the persons who came to
his assistance; the man himself, as soon as he had recovered, was
arrested and transported to the Government Office under guard,
accompanied by a large crowd of people. As soon as the Governor of the
Palace, Wenk, had read this letter, he went immediately to the palace
to see the Elector; here he found present also the President of the
Chancery of State, Count Kallheim, and the lords Kunz and Hinz, the
former of whom had recovered from his wounds. These gentlemen were of
the opinion that Kohlhaas should be arrested without delay and brought
to trial on the charge of secret complicity with Nagelschmidt. They
went on to demonstrate that such a letter could not have been written
unless there had been preceding letters written by the horse-dealer,
too, and that it would inevitably result in a wicked and criminal
union of their forces for the purpose of plotting fresh iniquities.

The Elector steadfastly refused to violate, merely on the ground of
this letter, the safe-conduct he had solemnly promised to Kohlhaas. He
was more inclined to believe that Nagelschmidt's letter made it rather
probable that no previous connection had existed between them, and all
he would do to clear up the matter was to assent, though only after
long hesitation, to the President's proposition to have the letter
delivered to Kohlhaas by the man whom Nagelschmidt had sent, just as
though he had not been arrested, and see whether Kohlhaas would answer
it. In accordance with this plan the man, who had been thrown into
prison, was taken to the Government Office the next morning. The
Governor of the Palace gave him back the letter and, promising him
freedom and the remission of the punishment which he had incurred,
commanded him to deliver the letter to the horse-dealer as though
nothing had happened. As was to be expected, the fellow lent himself
to this low trick without hesitation. In apparently mysterious fashion
he gained admission to Kohlhaas' room under the pretext of having
crabs to sell, with which, in reality, the government clerk had
supplied him in the market. Kohlhaas, who read the letter while the
children were playing with the crabs, would certainly have seized the
imposter by the collar and handed him over to the soldiers standing
before his door, had the circumstances been other than they were. But
since, in the existing state of men's minds, even this step was
likewise capable of an equivocal interpretation, and as he was fully
convinced that nothing in the world could rescue him from the affair
in which he was entangled, be gazed sadly into the familiar face of
the fellow, asked him where he lived, and bade him return in a few
hours' time, when he would inform him of his decision in regard to his
master. He told Sternbald, who happened to enter the door, to buy some
crabs from the man in the room, and when this business was concluded
and both men had gone away without recognizing each other, Kohlhaas
sat down and wrote a letter to Nagelschmidt to the following effect:
"First, that he accepted his proposition concerning the leadership of
his band in Altenburg, and that accordingly, in order to free him from
the present arrest in which he was held with his five children,
Nagelschmidt should send him a wagon with two horses to Neustadt near
Dresden. Also that, to facilitate progress, he would need another team
of two horses on the road to Wittenberg, which way, though roundabout,
was the only one he could take to come to him, for reasons which it
would require too much time to explain. He thought that he would be
able to win over by bribery the soldiers who were guarding him, but in
case force were necessary he would like to know that he could count on
the presence of a couple of stout-hearted, capable, and well-armed men
in the suburb of Neustadt. To defray the expenses connected with all
these preparations, he was sending Nagelschmidt by his follower a roll
of twenty gold crowns concerning the expenditure of which he would
settle with him after the affair was concluded. For the rest,
Nagelschmidt's presence being unnecessary, he would ask him not to
come in person to Dresden to assist at his rescue--nay, rather, he
gave him the definite order to remain behind in Altenburg in
provisional command of the band which could not be left without a

When the man returned toward evening, he delivered this letter to him,
rewarded him liberally, and impressed upon him that he must take good
care of it.

Kohlhaas' intention was to go to Hamburg with his five children and
there to take ship for the Levant, the East Indies, or the most
distant land where the blue sky stretched above people other than
those he knew. For his heart, bowed down by grief, had renounced the
hope of ever seeing the black horses fattened, even apart from the
reluctance that he felt in making common cause with Nagelschmidt to
that end.

Hardly had the fellow delivered this answer of the horse-dealer's to
the Governor of the Palace when the Lord High Chancellor was deposed,
the President, Count Kallheim, was appointed Chief Justice of the
Tribunal in his stead, and Kohlhaas was arrested by a special order of
the Elector, heavily loaded with chains, and thrown into the city
tower. He was brought to trial upon the basis of this letter, which
was posted at every street-corner of the city. When a councilor held
it up before Kohlhaas at the bar of the Tribunal and asked whether he
acknowledged the handwriting, he answered, "Yes;" but to the question
as to whether he had anything to say in his defense, he looked down at
the ground and replied, "No." He was therefore condemned to be
tortured with red-hot pincers by knacker's men, to be drawn and
quartered, and his body to be burned between the wheel and the

Thus stood matters with poor Kohlhaas in Dresden when the Elector of
Brandenburg appeared to rescue him from the clutches of arbitrary,
superior power, and, in a note laid before the Chancery of State in
Dresden, claimed him as a subject of Brandenburg. For the honest City
Governor, Sir Heinrich von Geusau, during a walk on the banks of the
Spree, had acquainted the Elector with the story of this strange and
irreprehensible man, on which occasion, pressed by the questions of
the astonished sovereign, he could not avoid mentioning the blame
which lay heavy upon the latter's own person through the unwarranted
actions of his Arch-Chancellor, Count Siegfried von Kallheim. The
Elector was extremely indignant about the matter and after he had
called the Arch-Chancellor to account and found that the relationship
which he bore to the house of the Tronkas was to blame for it all, he
deposed Count Kallheim at once, with more than one token of his
displeasure, and appointed Sir Heinrich von Geusau to be
Arch-Chancellor in his stead.

Now it so happened that, just at that time, the King of Poland, being
at odds with the House of Saxony, for what occasion we do not know,
approached the Elector of Brandenburg with repeated and urgent
arguments to induce him to make common cause with them against the
House of Saxony, and, in consequence of this, the Arch-Chancellor, Sir
Geusau, who was not unskilful in such matters, might very well hope
that, without imperiling the peace of the whole state to a greater
extent than consideration for an individual warrants, he would now be
able to fulfil his sovereign's desire to secure justice for Kohlhaas
at any cost whatever.

Therefore the Arch-Chancellor did not content himself with demanding,
on the score of wholly arbitrary procedure, displeasing to God and
man, that Kohlhaas should be unconditionally and immediately surrendered,
so that, if guilty of a crime, he might be tried according to the laws
of Brandenburg on charges which the Dresden Court might bring against him
through an attorney at Berlin; but Sir Heinrich von Geusau even went so
far as himself to demand passports for an attorney whom the Elector of
Brandenburg wished to send to Dresden in order to secure justice for
Kohlhaas against Squire Wenzel Tronka on account of the black horses
which had been taken from him on Saxon territory and other flagrant
instances of ill-usage and acts of violence. The Chamberlain, Sir Kunz,
in the shifting of public offices in Saxony, had been appointed President
of the State Chancery, and, hard pressed as he was, desired, for a
variety of reasons, not to offend the Court of Berlin. He therefore
answered in the name of his sovereign, who had been very greatly cast
down by the note he had received, that they wondered at the unfriendliness
and unreasonableness which had prompted the government of Brandenburg to
contest the right of the Dresden Court to judge Kohlhaas according to
their laws for the crimes which he had committed in the land, as it was
known to all the world that the latter owned a considerable piece of
property in the capital, and he did not himself dispute his qualification
as a Saxon citizen.

But as the King of Poland was already assembling an army of five
thousand men on the frontier of Saxony to fight for his claims, and as
the Arch-Chancellor, Sir Heinrich von Geusau, declared that
Kohlhaasenbrueck, the place after which the horse-dealer was named, was
situated in Brandenburg, and that they would consider the execution of
the sentence of death which had been pronounced upon him to be a
violation of international law, the Elector of Saxony, upon the advice
of the Chamberlain, Sir Kunz himself, who wished to back out of the
affair, summoned Prince Christiern of Meissen from his estate, and
decided, after a few words with this sagacious nobleman, to surrender
Kohlhaas to the Court of Berlin in accordance with their demand.

The Prince, who, although very much displeased with the unseemly
blunders which had been committed, was forced to take over the conduct
of the Kohlhaas affair at the wish of his hard-pressed master, asked
the Elector what charge he now wished to have lodged against the
horse-dealer in the Supreme Court at Berlin. As they could not refer
to Kohlhaas' fatal letter to Nagelschmidt because of the questionable
and obscure circumstances under which it had been written, nor
mention the former plundering and burning because of the edict in
which the same had been pardoned, the Elector determined to lay before
the Emperor's Majesty at Vienna a report concerning the armed invasion
of Saxony by Kohlhaas, to make complaint concerning the violation of
the public peace established by the Emperor, and to solicit His
Majesty, since he was of course not bound by any amnesty, to call
Kohlhaas to account therefor before the Court Tribunal at Berlin
through an attorney of the Empire.

A week later the horse-dealer, still in chains, was packed into a
wagon by the Knight Friedrich of Malzahn, whom the Elector of
Brandenburg had sent to Dresden at the head of six troopers; and,
together with his five children, who at his request had been collected
from various foundling hospitals and orphan asylums, was transported
to Berlin.

It so happened that the Elector of Saxony, accompanied by the
Chamberlain, Sir Kunz, and his wife, Lady Heloise, daughter of the
High Bailiff and sister of the President, not to mention other
brilliant ladies and gentlemen, hunting-pages and courtiers, had gone
to Dahme at the invitation of the High Bailiff, Count Aloysius of
Kallheim, who at that time possessed a large estate on the border of
Saxony, and, to entertain the Elector, had organized a large stag-hunt
there. Under the shelter of tents gaily decorated with pennons,
erected on a hill over against the highroad, the whole company, still
covered with the dust of the hunt, was sitting at table, served by
pages, while lively music sounded from the trunk of an oak-tree, when
Kohlhaas with his escort of troopers came riding slowly along the road
from Dresden. The sudden illness of one of Kohlhaas' delicate young
children had obliged the Knight of Malzahn, who was his escort, to
delay three whole days in Herzberg. Having to answer for this act only
to the Prince whom he served, the Knight had not thought it necessary
to inform the government of Saxony of the delay. The Elector, with
throat half bare, his plumed hat decorated with sprigs of fir, as is
the way of hunters, was seated beside Lady Heloise, who had been the
first love of his early youth. The charm of the fete which surrounded
him having put him in good humor, he said, "Let us go and offer this
goblet of wine to the unfortunate man, whoever he may be."

Lady Heloise, casting an entrancing glance at him, got up at once,
and, plundering the whole table, filled a silver dish which a page
handed her with fruit, cakes, and bread. The entire company had
already left the tent in a body, carrying refreshments of every kind,
when the High Bailiff came toward them and with an embarrassed air
begged them to remain where they were. In answer to the Elector's
disconcerted question as to what had happened that he should show such
confusion, the High Bailiff turned toward the Chamberlain and
answered, stammering, that it was Kohlhaas who was in the wagon. At
this piece of news, which none of the company could understand, as it
was well known that the horse-dealer had set out six days before, the
Chamberlain, Sir Kunz, turning back toward the tent, poured out his
glass of wine on the ground. The Elector, flushing scarlet, set his
glass down on a plate which a page, at a sign from the Chamberlain,
held out to him for this purpose, and while the Knight, Friedrich von
Malzahn, respectfully saluting the company, who were unknown to him,
passed slowly under the tent ropes that were stretched across the
highroad and continued on his way to Dahme, the lords and ladies, at
the invitation of the High Bailiff, returned to the tent without
taking any further notice of the party. As soon as the Elector had sat
down again, the High Bailiff dispatched a messenger secretly to Dahme
intending to have the magistrate of that place see to it that the
horse-dealer continued his journey immediately; but since the Knight
of Malzahn declared positively that, as the day was too far gone, he
intended to spend the night in the place, they had to be content to
lodge Kohlhaas quietly at a farm-house belonging to the magistrate,
which lay off the main road, hidden away among the bushes.

Now it came about toward evening, when all recollection of the
incident had been driven from the minds of the lords and ladies by the
wine and the abundant dessert they had enjoyed, that the High Bailiff
proposed they should again lie in wait for a herd of stags which had
shown itself in the vicinity. The whole company took up the suggestion
joyfully, and after they had provided themselves with guns went off in
pairs, over ditches and hedges, into the near-by forest. Thus it was
that the Elector and Lady Heloise, who was hanging on his arm in order
to watch the sport, were, to their great astonishment, led by a
messenger who had been placed at their service, directly across the
court of the house in which Kohlhaas and the Brandenburg troopers were
lodged. When Lady Heloise was informed of this she cried, "Your
Highness, come!" and playfully concealing inside his silken vest the
chain which hung around his neck she added, "Before the crowd follows
us let us slip into the farm-house and have a look at the singular man
who is spending the night here." The Elector blushed and seized her
hand exclaiming, "Heloise! What are you thinking of?" But as she,
looking at him with amazement, pulled him along and assured him that
no one would ever recognize him in the hunting-costume he had on, and
as, moreover, at this very moment a couple of hunting-pages who had
already satisfied their curiosity came out of the house, and announced
that in truth, on account of an arrangement made by the High Bailiff,
neither the Knight nor the horse-dealer knew what company was
assembled in the neighborhood of Dahme, the Elector pulled his hat
down over his eyes with a smile and said, "Folly, thou rulest the
world, and thy throne is a beautiful woman's mouth!"

Kohlhaas was sitting just then on a bundle of straw with his back
against the wall, feeding bread and milk to his child who had been
taken ill at Herzberg, when Lady Heloise and the Elector entered the
farm-house to visit him. To start the conversation, Lady Heloise asked
him who he was and what was the matter with the child; also what
crime he had committed and where they were taking him with such an
escort. Kohlhaas doffed his leather cap to her and, continuing his
occupation, made laconic but satisfactory answers to all these
questions. The Elector, who was standing behind the hunting-pages,
remarked a little leaden locket hanging on a silk string around the
horse-dealer's neck, and, since no better topic of conversation
offered itself, he asked him what it signified and what was in it.
Kohlhaas answered, "Oh, yes, worshipful Sir, this locket!" and with
that he slipped it from his neck, opened it, and took out a little
piece of paper with writing on it, sealed with a wafer. "There is a
strange tale connected with this locket. It may be some seven months
ago, on the very day after my wife's funeral--and, as you perhaps
know, I had left Kohlhaasenbrueck in order to get possession of Squire
Tronka, who had done me great wrong--that in the market-town of
Jueterbock, through which my expedition led me, the Elector of Saxony
and the Elector of Brandenburg had met to discuss I know not what
matter. As they had settled it to their liking shortly before evening,
they were walking in friendly conversation through the streets of the
town in order to take a look at the annual fair which was just being
held there with much merry-making. They came upon a gipsy who was
sitting on a stool, telling from the calendar the fortunes of the
crowd that surrounded her. The two sovereigns asked her jokingly if
she did not have something pleasing to reveal to them too? I had just
dismounted with my troop at an inn, and happened to be present in the
square where this incident occurred, but as I was standing at the
entrance of a church, behind all the people, I could not hear what the
strange woman said to the two lords. The people began to whisper to
one another laughingly that she did not impart her knowledge to every
one, and to crowd together to see the spectacle which was preparing,
so that I, really more to make room for the curious than out of
curiosity on my part, climbed on a bench behind me which was carved
in the entrance of the church. From this point of vantage I could see
with perfect ease the two sovereigns and the old woman, who was
sitting on the stool before them apparently scribbling something down.
But hardly had I caught sight of them, when suddenly she got up,
leaning on her crutches, and, gazing around at the people, fixed her
eye on me, who had never exchanged a word with her nor ever in all my
life consulted her art. Pushing her way over to me through the dense
crowd, she said, 'There! If the gentleman wishes to know his fortune,
he may ask you about it!' And with these words, your Worship, she
stretched out her thin bony hands to me and gave me this paper. All
the people turned around in my direction, as I said, amazed, 'Grandam,
what in the world is this you are giving me?' After mumbling a lot of
inaudible nonsense, amid which, however, to my great surprise, I made
out my own name, she answered, 'An amulet, Kohlhaas the horse-dealer;
take good care of it; some day it will save your life!'--and vanished.
Well," Kohlhaas continued good-naturedly, "to tell the truth, close as
was the call in Dresden, I did not lose my life; but how I shall fare
in Berlin and whether the charm will help me out there too, the future
must show."

At these words the Elector seated himself on a bench, and although to
Lady Heloise's frightened question as to what was the matter with him,
he answered, "Nothing, nothing at all!"--yet, before she could spring
forward and catch him in her arms, he had sunk down unconscious to the

The Knight of Malzahn who entered the room at this moment on some
errand, exclaimed, "Good heavens, what is the matter with the
gentleman!" Lady Heloise cried, "Bring some water!" The hunting-pages
raised the Elector and carried him to a bed in the next room, and the
consternation reached its height when the Chamberlain, who had been
summoned by a page, declared, after repeated vain efforts to restore
him to consciousness, that he showed every sign of having been struck
by apoplexy. The Cup-bearer sent a mounted messenger to Luckau for the
doctor, and then, as the Elector opened his eyes, the High Bailiff had
him placed in a carriage and transported at a walk to his
hunting-castle near-by; this journey, however, caused two more
fainting spells after he had arrived there. Not until late the next
morning, on the arrival of the doctor from Luckau, did he recover
somewhat, though showing definite symptoms of an approaching nervous
fever. As soon as he had returned to consciousness he raised himself
on his elbow, and his very first question was, "Where is Kohlhaas?"
The Chamberlain, misunderstanding the question, said, as he took his
hand, that he might set his heart at rest on the subject of that
horrible man, as the latter, after that strange and incomprehensible
incident, had by his order remained behind in the farm-house at Dahme
with the escort from Brandenburg. Assuring the Elector of his most
lively sympathy, and protesting that he had most bitterly reproached
his wife for her inexcusable indiscretion in bringing about a meeting
between him and this man, the Chamberlain went on to ask what could
have occurred during the interview to affect his master so strangely
and profoundly.

The Elector answered that he was obliged to confess to him that the
sight of an insignificant piece of paper, which the man carried about
with him in a leaden locket, was to blame for the whole unpleasant
incident which had befallen him. To explain the circumstance, he added
a variety of other things which the Chamberlain could not understand,
then suddenly, clasping the latter's hand in his own, he assured him
that the possession of this paper was of the utmost importance to
himself and begged Sir Kunz to mount immediately, ride to Dahme, and
purchase the paper for him from the horse-dealer at any price. The
Chamberlain, who had difficulty in concealing his embarrassment,
assured him that, if this piece of paper had any value for him,
nothing in the world was more necessary than to conceal the fact from
Kohlhaas, for if the latter should receive an indiscreet intimation of
it, all the riches the Elector possessed would not be sufficient to
buy it from the hands of this vindictive fellow, whose passion for
revenge was insatiable. To calm his master he added that they must try
to find another method, and that, as the miscreant probably was not
especially attached to it for its own sake, perhaps, by using
stratagem, they might get possession of the paper, which was of so
much importance to the Elector, through the instrumentality of a third
wholly disinterested person.

The Elector, wiping away the perspiration, asked if they could not
send immediately to Dahme for this purpose and put a stop to the
horse-dealer's being transported further for the present until, by
some means or other, they had obtained possession of the paper. The
Chamberlain, who could hardly believe his senses, replied that
unhappily, according to all probable calculations, the horse-dealer
must already have left Dahme and be across the border on the soil of
Brandenburg; any attempt to interfere there with his being carried
away, or actually to put a stop to it altogether, would give rise to
difficulties of the most unpleasant and intricate kind, or even to
such as it might perchance be impossible to overcome at all. As the
Elector silently sank back on the pillow with a look of utter despair,
the Chamberlain asked him what the paper contained and by what
surprising and inexplicable chance he knew that the contents concerned
himself. At this, however, the Elector cast several ambiguous glances
at the Chamberlain, whose obligingness he distrusted on this occasion,
and gave no answer. He lay there rigid, with his heart beating
tumultuously, and looked down at the corner of the handkerchief which
he was holding in his hands as if lost in thought. Suddenly he begged
the Chamberlain to call to his room the hunting-page, Stein, an
active, clever young gentleman whom he had often employed before in
affairs of a secret nature, under the pretense that he had some other
business to negotiate with him.

After he had explained the matter to the hunting-page and impressed
upon him the importance of the paper which was in Kohlhaas'
possession, the Elector asked him whether he wished to win an eternal
right to his friendship by procuring this paper for him before the
horse-dealer reached Berlin. As soon as the page had to some extent
grasped the situation, unusual though it was, he assured his master
that he would serve him to the utmost of his ability. The Elector
therefore charged him to ride after Kohlhaas, and as it would probably
be impossible to approach him with money, Stein should, in a cleverly
conducted conversation, proffer him life and freedom in exchange for
the paper--indeed, if Kohlhaas insisted upon it, he should, though
with all possible caution, give him direct assistance in escaping from
the hands of the Brandenburg troopers who were convoying him, by
furnishing him with horses, men, and money.

The hunting-page, after procuring as a credential a paper written by
the Elector's own hand, did immediately set out with several men, and
by not sparing the horses' wind he had the good luck to overtake
Kohlhaas in a village on the border, where with his five children and
the Knight of Malzahn he was eating dinner in the open air before the
door of a house. The hunting-page introduced himself to the Knight of
Malzahn as a stranger who was passing by and wished to have a look at
the extraordinary man whom he was escorting. The Knight at once made
him acquainted with Kohlhaas and politely urged him to sit down at the
table, and since Malzahn, busied with the preparations for their
departure, was obliged to keep coming and going continually, and the
troopers were eating their dinner at a table on the other side of the
house, the hunting-page soon found an opportunity to reveal to the
horse-dealer who he was and on what a peculiar mission he had come to

The horse-dealer already knew the name and rank of the man who, at
sight of the locket in question, had swooned in the farm-house at
Dahme; and to put the finishing touch to the tumult of excitement into
which this discovery had thrown him, he needed only an insight into
the secrets contained in the paper which, for many reasons, he was
determined not to open out of mere curiosity. He answered that, in
consideration of the ungenerous and unprincely treatment he had been
forced to endure in Dresden in return for his complete willingness to
make every possible sacrifice, he would keep the paper. To the
hunting-page's question as to what induced him to make such an
extraordinary refusal when he was offered in exchange nothing less
than life and liberty, Kohlhaas answered, "Noble Sir, if your
sovereign should come to me and say, 'Myself and the whole company of
those who help me wield my sceptre I will destroy--destroy, you
understand, which is, I admit, the dearest wish that my soul
cherishes,' I should nevertheless still refuse to give him the paper
which is worth more to him than life, and should say to him, 'You have
the authority to send me to the scaffold, but I can cause you pain,
and I intend to do so!'" And with these words Kohlhaas, with death
staring him in the face, called a trooper to him and told him to take
a nice bit of food which had been left in the dish. All the rest of
the hour which he spent in the place he acted as though he did not see
the young nobleman who was sitting at the table, and not until he
climbed up on the wagon did he turn around to the hunting-page again
and salute him with a parting glance.

When the Elector received this news his condition grew so much worse
that for three fateful days the doctor had grave fears for his life,
which was being attacked on so many sides at once. However, thanks to
his naturally good constitution, after several weeks spent in pain on
the sick-bed, he recovered sufficiently, at least, to permit his being
placed in a carriage well supplied with pillows and coverings, and
brought back to Dresden to take up the affairs of government once

As soon as he had arrived in the city he summoned Prince Christiern
of Meissen and asked him what had been done about dispatching Judge
Eibenmaier, whom the government had thought of sending to Vienna as
its attorney in the Kohlhaas affair, in order to lay a complaint
before his Imperial Majesty concerning the violation of the public
peace proclaimed by the Emperor.

The Prince answered that the Judge, in conformity with the order the
Elector had left behind on his departure for Dahme, had set out for
Vienna immediately after the arrival of the jurist, Zaeuner, whom the
Elector of Brandenburg had sent to Dresden as his attorney in order to
institute legal proceedings against Squire Wenzel Tronka in regard to
the black horses.

The Elector flushed and walked over to his desk, expressing surprise
at this haste, since, to his certain knowledge, he had made it clear
that because of the necessity for a preliminary consultation with Dr.
Luther, who had procured the amnesty for Kohlhaas, he wished to
postpone the final departure of Eibenmaier until he should give a more
explicit and definite order. At the same time, with an expression of
restrained anger, he tossed about some letters and deeds which were
lying on his desk. The Prince, after a pause during which he stared in
surprise at his master, answered that he was sorry if he had failed to
give him satisfaction in this matter; however, he could show the
decision of the Council of State enjoining him to send off the
attorney at the time mentioned. He added that in the Council of State
nothing at all had been said of a consultation with Dr. Luther; that
earlier in the affair, it would perhaps have been expedient to pay
some regard to this reverend gentleman because of his intervention in
Kohlhaas' behalf; but that this was no longer the case, now that the
promised amnesty had been violated before the eyes of the world and
Kohlhaas had been arrested and surrendered to the Brandenburg courts
to be sentenced and executed.

The Elector replied that the error committed in dispatching
Eibenmaier was, in fact, not a very serious one; he expressed a wish,
however, that, for the present, the latter should not act in Vienna in
his official capacity as plaintiff for Saxony, but should await
further orders, and begged the Prince to send off to him immediately
by a courier the instructions necessary to this end.

The Prince answered that, unfortunately, this order came just one day
too late, as Eibenmaier, according to a report which had just arrived
that day, had already acted in his capacity as plaintiff and had
proceeded with the presentation of the complaint at the State Chancery
in Vienna. In answer to the Elector's dismayed question as to how all
this was possible in so short a time, he added that three weeks had
passed since the departure of this man and that the instructions he
had received had charged him to settle the business with all possible
dispatch immediately after his arrival in Vienna. A delay, the Prince
added, would have been all the more inadvisable in this case, as the
Brandenburg attorney, Zaeuner, was proceeding against Squire Wenzel
Tronka with the most stubborn persistence and had already petitioned
the court for the provisional removal of the black horses from the
hands of the knacker with a view to their future restoration to good
condition, and, in spite of all the arguments of the opposite side,
had carried his point.

The Elector, ringing the bell, said, "No matter; it is of no
importance," and turning around again toward the Prince asked
indifferently how other things were going in Dresden and what had
occurred during his absence. Then, incapable of hiding his inner state
of mind, he saluted him with a wave of the hand and dismissed him.

That very same day the Elector sent him a written demand for all the
official documents concerning Kohlhaas, under the pretext that, on
account of the political importance of the affair, he wished to go
over it himself. As he could not bear to think of destroying the man
from whom alone he could receive information concerning the secrets
contained in the paper, he composed an autograph letter to the
Emperor; in this he affectionately and urgently requested that, for
weighty reasons, which possibly he would explain to him in greater
detail after a little while, he be allowed to withdraw for a time,
until a further decision had been reached, the complaint which
Eibenmaier had entered against Kohlhaas.

The Emperor, in a note drawn up by the State Chancery, replied that
the change which seemed suddenly to have taken place in the Elector's
mind astonished him exceedingly; that the report which had been
furnished him on the part of Saxony had made the Kohlhaas affair a
matter which concerned the entire Holy Roman Empire; that, in
consequence, he, the Emperor, as head of the same, had felt it his
duty to appear before the house of Brandenburg in this, as plaintiff
in this affair, and that, therefore; since the Emperor's counsel,
Franz Mueller, had gone to Berlin in the capacity of attorney in order
to call Kohlhaas to account for the violation of the public peace, the
complaint could in no wise be withdrawn now and the affair must take
its course in conformity with the law.

This letter completely crushed the Elector and, to his utter dismay,
private communications from Berlin reached him a short time after,
announcing the institution of the lawsuit before the Supreme Court at
Berlin and containing the remark that Kohlhaas, in spite of all the
efforts of the lawyer assigned him, would in all probability end on
the scaffold. The unhappy sovereign determined, therefore, to make one
more effort, and in an autograph letter begged the Elector of
Brandenburg to spare Kohlhaas' life. He alleged as pretext that the
amnesty solemnly promised to this man did not lawfully permit the
execution of a death sentence upon him; he assured the Elector that,
in spite of the apparent severity with which Kohlhaas had been treated
in Saxony, it had never been his intention to allow the latter to die,
and described how wretched he should be if the protection which they
had pretended to be willing to afford the man from Berlin should, by
an unexpected turn of affairs, prove in the end to be more detrimental
to him than if he had remained in Dresden and his affair had been
decided according to the laws of Saxony.

The Elector of Brandenburg, to whom much of this declaration seemed
ambiguous and obscure, answered that the energy with which the
attorney of his Majesty the Emperor was proceeding made it absolutely
out of the question for him to conform to the wish expressed by the
Elector of Saxony and depart from the strict precepts of the law. He
remarked that the solicitude thus displayed really went too far,
inasmuch as the complaint against Kohlhaas on account of the crimes
which had been pardoned in the amnesty had, as a matter of fact, not
been entered at the Supreme Court at Berlin by him, the sovereign who
had granted the amnesty, but by the supreme head of the Empire who was
in no wise bound thereby. At the same time he represented to him how
necessary it was to make a fearful example of Kohlhaas in view of the
continued outrages of Nagelschmidt, who with unheard-of boldness was
already extending his depredations as far as Brandenburg, and begged
him, in case he refused to be influenced by these considerations, to
apply to His Majesty the Emperor himself, since, if a decree was to be
issued in favor of Kohlhaas, this could only be rendered after a
declaration on his Majesty's part.

The Elector fell ill again with grief and vexation over all these
unsuccessful attempts, and one morning, when the Chamberlain came to
pay him a visit, he showed him the letters which he had written to the
courts of Vienna and Berlin in the effort to prolong Kohlhaas' life
and thus at least gain time in which to get possession of the paper in
the latter's hands. The Chamberlain threw himself on his knees before
him and begged him by all that he held sacred and dear to tell him
what this paper contained. The Elector bade him bolt the doors of the
room and sit down on the bed beside him, and after he had grasped his
hand and, with a sigh, pressed it to his heart, he began as follows
"Your wife, as I hear, has already told you that the Elector of
Brandenburg and I, on the third day of the conference that we held at
Jueterbock, came upon a gipsy, and the Elector, lively as he is by
nature, determined to destroy by a jest in the presence of all the
people the fame of this fantastic woman, whose art had,
inappropriately enough, just been the topic of conversation at dinner.
He walked up to her table with his arms crossed and demanded from her
a sign--one that could be put to the test that very day--to prove the
truth of the fortune she was about to tell him, pretending that, even
if she were the Roman Sibyl herself, he could not believe her words
without it. The woman, hastily taking our measure from head to foot,
said that the sign would be that, even before we should leave, the big
horned roebuck which the gardener's son was raising in the park, would
come to meet us in the market-place where we were standing at that
moment. Now you must know that this roebuck, which was destined for
the Dresden kitchen, was kept behind lock and key in an inclosure
fenced in with high boards and shaded by the oak-trees of the park;
and since, moreover, on account of other smaller game and birds, the
park in general and also the garden leading to it, were kept carefully
locked, it was absolutely impossible to understand how the animal
could carry out this strange prediction and come to meet us in the
square where we were standing. Nevertheless the Elector, afraid that
some trick might be behind it and determined for the sake of the joke
to give the lie once and for all to everything else that she might
say, sent to the castle, after a short consultation with me, and
ordered that the roebuck be instantly killed and prepared for the
table within the next few days. Then he turned back to the woman
before whom this matter had been transacted aloud, and said, 'Well, go
ahead! What have you to disclose to me of the future?' The woman,
looking at his hand, said, 'Hail, my Elector and Sovereign! Your Grace
will reign for a long time, the house from which you spring will long
endure, and your descendants will be great and glorious and will come
to exceed in power all the other princes and sovereigns of the world.'

"The Elector, after a pause in which he looked thoughtfully at the
woman, said in an undertone, as he took a step toward me, that he was
almost sorry now that he had sent off a messenger to ruin the
prophecy; and while amid loud rejoicing the money rained down in heaps
into the woman's lap from the hands of the knights who followed the
Elector, the latter, after feeling in his pocket and adding a gold
piece on his own account, asked if the salutation which she was about
to about to reveal to me also had such a silvery sound as his. The
woman opened a box that stood beside her and in a leisurely, precise
way arranged the money in it according to kind and quantity; then she
closed it again, shaded her eyes with her hand as if the sun annoyed
her, and looked at me. I repeated the question I had asked her and,
while she examined my hand, I added jokingly to the Elector, 'To me,
so it seems, she has nothing really agreeable to announce!' At that
she seized her crutches, raised herself slowly with their aid from her
stool, and, pressing close to me with her hands held before her
mysteriously, she whispered audibly in my ear, 'No!' 'Is that so?' I
asked confused, and drew back a step before the figure, who with a
look cold and lifeless as though from eyes of marble, seated herself
once more on the stool behind her; 'from what quarter does danger
menace my house?' The woman, taking a piece of charcoal and a paper in
her hand and crossing her knees, asked whether she should write it
down for me; and as I, really embarrassed, though only because under
the existing circumstances there was nothing else for me to do,
answered, 'Yes, do so,' she replied, 'Very well! Three things I will
write down for you--the name of the last ruler of your house, the year
in which he will lose his throne, and the name of the man who through
the power of arms will seize it for himself.' Having done this before
the eyes of all the people she arose, sealed the paper with a wafer,
which she moistened in her withered mouth, and pressed upon it a
leaden seal ring which she wore on her middle finger. And as I,
curious beyond all words, as you can well imagine, was about to seize
the paper, she said, 'Not so, Your Highness!' and turned and raised
one of her crutches; 'from that man there, the one with the plumed
hat, standing on the bench at the entrance of the church behind all
the people--from him you shall redeem it, if it so please you!' And
with these words, before I had clearly grasped what she was saying,
she left me standing in the square, speechless with astonishment, and,
clapping shut the box that stood behind her and slinging it over her
back, she disappeared in the crowd of people surrounding us, so that I
could no longer watch what she was doing. But at this moment, to my
great consolation, I must admit, there appeared the knight whom the
Elector had sent to the castle, and reported, with a smile hovering on
his lips, that the roebuck had been killed and dragged off to the
kitchen by two hunters before his very eyes. The Elector, gaily
placing his arm in mine with the intention of leading me away from the
square, said, 'Well then, the prophecy was a commonplace swindle and
not worth the time and money which it has cost us!' But how great was
our astonishment when, even before he had finished speaking, a cry
went up around the whole square, and the eyes of all turned toward a
large butcher's dog trotting along from the castle yard. In the
kitchen he had seized the roebuck by the neck as a fair prize, and,
pursued by men-servants and maids, dropped the animal on the ground
three paces in front of us. Thus indeed the woman's prophecy, which
was the pledge for the truth of all that she had uttered, was
fulfilled, and the roebuck, although dead to be sure, had come to the
market-place to meet us. The lightning which falls from heaven on a
winter's day cannot annihilate more completely than this sight did me,
and my first endeavor, as soon as I had excused myself from the
company which surrounded me, was to discover immediately the
whereabouts of the man with the plumed hat whom the woman had pointed
out to me; but none of my people, though sent out on a three days'
continuous search, could give me even the remotest kind of information
concerning him. And then, friend Kunz, a few weeks ago in the
farm-house at Dahme, I saw the man with my own eyes!"

With these words he let go of the Chamberlain's hand and, wiping away
the perspiration, sank back again on the couch. The Chamberlain, who
considered it a waste of effort to attempt to contradict the Elector's
opinion of the incident or to try to make him adopt his own view of
the matter, begged him by all means to try to get possession of the
paper and afterward to leave the fellow to his fate. But the Elector
answered that he saw absolutely no way of doing so, although the
thought of having to do without it or perhaps even seeing all
knowledge of it perish with this man, brought him to the verge of
misery and despair. When asked by his friend whether he had made any
attempts to discover the person of the gipsy-woman herself, the
Elector replied that the Government Office, in consequence of an order
which he had issued under a false pretext, had been searching in vain
for this woman throughout the Electorate; in view of these facts, for
reasons, however, which he refused to explain in detail, he doubted
whether she could ever be discovered in Saxony.

Now it happened that the Chamberlain wished to go to Berlin on account
of several considerable pieces of property in the Neumark of
Brandenburg which his wife had fallen heir to from the estate of the
Arch-Chancellor, Count Kallheim, who had died shortly after being
deposed. As Sir Kunz really loved the Elector, he asked, after
reflecting for a short time, whether the latter would leave the matter
to his discretion; and when his master, pressing his hand
affectionately to his breast, answered, "Imagine that you are myself,
and secure the paper for me!" the Chamberlain turned over his affairs
to a subordinate, hastened his departure by several days, left his
wife behind, and set out for Berlin, accompanied only by a few

Kohlhaas, as we have said, had meanwhile arrived in Berlin, and by
special order of the Elector of Brandenburg had been placed in a
prison for nobles, where, together with his five children, he was made
as comfortable as circumstances permitted. Immediately after the
appearance of the Imperial attorney from Vienna the horse-dealer was
called to account before the bar of the Supreme Court for the
violation of the public peace proclaimed throughout the Empire, and
although in his answer he objected that, by virtue of the agreement
concluded with the Elector of Saxony at Luetzen, he could not be
prosecuted for the armed invasion of that country and the acts of
violence committed at that time, he was nevertheless told for his
information that His Majesty the Emperor, whose attorney was making
the complaint in this case, could not take that into account. And
indeed, after the situation had been explained to him and he had been
told that, to offset this, complete satisfaction would be rendered to
him in Dresden in his suit against Squire Wenzel Tronka, he very soon
acquiesced in the matter.

Thus it happened that, precisely on the day of the arrival of the
Chamberlain, judgment was pronounced, and Kohlhaas was condemned to
lose his life by the sword, which sentence, however, in the
complicated state of affairs, no one believed would be carried out, in
spite of its mercy. Indeed the whole city, knowing the good will which
the Elector bore Kohlhaas, confidently hoped to see it commuted by an
electoral decree to a mere, though possibly long and severe, term of

The Chamberlain, who nevertheless realized that no time was to be lost
if the commission given him by his master was to be accomplished, set
about his business by giving Kohlhaas an opportunity to get a good
look at him, dressed as he was in his ordinary court costume, one
morning when the horse-dealer was standing at the window of his
prison innocently gazing at the passers-by. As he concluded from a
sudden movement of his head that he had noticed him, and with great
pleasure observed particularly that he put his hand involuntarily to
that part of the chest where the locket was lying, he considered that
what had taken place at that moment in Kohlhaas' soul was a sufficient
preparation to allow him to go a step further in the attempt to gain
possession of the paper. He therefore sent for an old woman who
hobbled around on crutches, selling old clothes; he had noticed her in
the streets of Berlin among a crowd of other rag-pickers, and in age
and costume she seemed to him to correspond fairly well to the woman
described to him by the Elector of Saxony. On the supposition that
Kohlhaas probably had not fixed very deeply in mind the features of
the old gipsy, of whom he had had but a fleeting vision as she handed
him the paper, he determined to substitute the aforesaid woman for her
and, if it were practicable, to have her act the part of the gipsy
before Kohlhaas. In accordance with this plan and in order to fit her
for the role, he informed her in detail of all that had taken place in
Jueterbock between the Elector and the gipsy, and, as he did not know
how far the latter had gone in her declarations to Kohlhaas, he did
not forget to impress particularly upon the woman the three mysterious
items contained in the paper. After he had explained to her what she
must disclose in disconnected and incoherent fashion, about certain
measures which had been taken to get possession, either by strategy or
by force, of this paper which was of the utmost importance to the
Saxon court, he charged her to demand of Kohlhaas that he should give
the paper to her to keep during a few fateful days, on the pretext
that it was no longer safe with him.

As was to be expected, the woman undertook the execution of this
business at once on the promise of a considerable reward, a part of
which the Chamberlain, at her demand, had to pay over to her in
advance. As the mother of Herse, the groom who had fallen at
Muehlberg, had permission from the government to visit Kohlhaas at
times, and this woman had already known her for several months, she
succeeded a few days later in gaining access to the horse-dealer by
means of a small gratuity to the warden.

But when the woman entered his room, Kohlhaas, from a seal ring that
she wore on her hand and a coral chain that hung round her neck,
thought that he recognized in her the very same old gipsy-woman who
had handed him the paper in Jueterbock; and since probability is not
always on the side of truth, it so happened that here something had
occurred which we will indeed relate, but at the same time, to those
who wish to question it we must accord full liberty to do so. The
Chamberlain had made the most colossal blunder, and in the aged
old-clothes woman, whom he had picked up in the streets of Berlin to
impersonate the gipsy, he had hit upon the very same mysterious
gipsy-woman whom he wished to have impersonated. At least, while
leaning on her crutches and stroking the cheeks of the children who,
intimidated by her singular appearance, were pressing close to their
father, the woman informed the latter that she had returned to
Brandenburg from Saxony some time before, and that after an unguarded
question which the Chamberlain had hazarded in the streets of Berlin
about the gipsy-woman who had been in Jueterbock in the spring of the
previous year, she had immediately pressed forward to him, and under a
false name had offered herself for the business which he wished to see

The horse-dealer remarked such a strange likeness between her and his
dead wife Lisbeth that he might have asked the old woman whether she
were his wife's grandmother; for not only did her features and her
hands--with fingers still shapely and beautiful--and especially the
use she made of them when speaking, remind him vividly of Lisbeth; he
even noticed on her neck a mole like one with which his wife's neck
was marked. With his thoughts in a strange whirl he urged the gipsy to
sit down on a chair and asked what it could possibly be that brought
her to him on business for the Chamberlain.

While Kohlhaas' old dog snuffed around her knees and wagged his tail
as she gently patted his head, the Woman answered that she had been
commissioned by the Chamberlain to inform him what the three questions
of importance for the Court of Saxony were, to which the paper
contained the mysterious answer; to warn him of a messenger who was
then in Berlin for the purpose of gaining possession of it; and to
demand the paper from him on the pretext that it was no longer safe
next his heart where he was carrying it. She said that the real
purpose for which she had come, however, was to tell him that the
threat to get the paper away from him by strategy or by force was an
absurd and empty fraud; that under the protection of the Elector of
Brandenburg, in whose custody he was, he need not have the least fear
for its safety; that the paper was indeed much safer with him than
with her, and that he should take good care not to lose possession of
it by giving it up to any one, no matter on what pretext.
Nevertheless, she concluded, she considered it would be wise to use
the paper for the purpose for which she had given it to him at the
fair in Jueterbock, to lend a favorable ear to the offer which had been
made to him on the frontier through Squire Stein, and in return for
life and liberty to surrender the paper, which could be of no further
use to him, to the Elector of Saxony.

Kohlhaas, who was exulting over the power which was thus afforded him
to wound the heel of his enemy mortally at the very moment when it was
treading him in the dust, made answer, "Not for the world, grandam,
not for the world!" He pressed the old woman's hand warmly and only
asked to know what sort of answers to the tremendous questions were
contained in the paper. Taking on her lap the youngest child, who had
crouched at her feet, the woman said, "Not for the world, Kohlhaas the
horse-dealer, but for this pretty, fair-haired little lad!" and with
that she laughed softly at the child, petted and kissed him while he
stared at her in wide-eyed surprise, and with her withered hands gave
him an apple which she had in her pocket. Kohlhaas answered, in some
confusion, that the children themselves, when they were grown, would
approve his conduct, and that he could do nothing of greater benefit
to them and their grandchildren than to keep the paper. He asked,
furthermore, who would insure him against a new deception after the
experience he had been through, and whether, in the end, he would not
be making a vain sacrifice of the paper to the Elector, as had lately
happened in the case of the band of troops which he had collected in
Luetzen. "If I've once caught a man breaking his word," said he, "I
never exchange another with him; and nothing but your command,
positive and unequivocal, shall separate me, good grandam, from this
paper through which I have been granted satisfaction in such a
wonderful fashion for all I have suffered."

The woman set the child down on the floor again and said that in many
respects he was right, and that he could do or leave undone what he
wished; and with that she took up her crutches again and started to
go. Kohlhaas repeated his question regarding the contents of the
wonderful paper; she answered hastily that, of course, he could open
it, although it would be pure curiosity on his part. He wished to find
out about a thousand other things yet, before she left him--who she
really was, how she came by the knowledge resident within her, why she
had refused to give the magic paper to the Elector for whom it had
been written after all, and among so many thousand people had handed
it precisely to him, Kohlhaas, who had never consulted her art.

Now it happened that, just at that moment, a noise was heard, caused
by several police officials who were mounting the stairway, so that
the woman, seized with sudden apprehension at being found by them in
these quarters, exclaimed, "Good-by for the present, Kohlhaas, good-by
for the present. When we meet again you shall not lack information
concerning all these things." With that she turned toward the door,
crying, "Farewell, children, farewell!" Then she kissed the little
folks one after the other, and went off.

In the mean time the Elector of Saxony, abandoned to his wretched
thoughts, had called in two astrologers, Oldenholm and Olearius by
name, who at that time enjoyed a great reputation in Saxony, and had
asked their advice concerning the mysterious paper which was of such
importance to him and all his descendants. After making a profound
investigation of several days' duration in the tower of the Dresden
palace, the men could not agree as to whether the prophecy referred to
remote centuries or, perhaps, to the present time, with a possible
reference to the King of Poland, with whom the relations were still of
a very warlike nature. The disquietude, not to say the despair, in
which the unhappy sovereign was plunged, was only increased by such
learned disputes, and finally was so intensified as to seem to his
soul wholly intolerable. In addition, just at this time the
Chamberlain charged his wife that before she left for Berlin, whither
she was about to follow him, she should adroitly inform the Elector,
that, after the failure of an attempt, which he had made with the help
of an old woman who had kept out of sight ever since, there was but
slight hope of securing the paper in Kohlhaas' possession, inasmuch as
the death sentence pronounced against the horse-dealer had now at last

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