Part 3 out of 10
"I am a pupil no longer," interrupted he with glowing cheek. "I am
seventeen years old, and no tutor has any more power over me."
She seemed not to have heard him, and continued in her sweet, melancholy
voice: "To-morrow, when perhaps another messenger comes to summon you
home, when he brings you a letter from your father with the command to set
forth immediately, in which you are informed that he has selected a bride
for you, oh, then will the Electoral Prince Frederick William be naught
but the obedient son, who obeys his father's commands, who leaves this
country to seek his native land, and to wed the bride who has been chosen
for him by his father."
"No!" shouted the Electoral Prince fiercely, while he leaped up from the
divan, and stamped his foot upon the ground--"I say no, and once more no.
I shall not do what they order. I shall only follow my own will. And it is
my will, my fixed, unalterable will, to make you my wife, and this will I
shall carry into effect, despite my father, the German Emperor, and the
whole world. Ludovicka, I here offer you my hand. Do you accept it? Will
you be my wife?"
With a countenance irradiated by energy, pride, and love he held out his
hand to her, and smilingly she laid her own small hand in his. "Yes," she
said, "I will be your wife. With pride and joy I accept your beloved hand,
and swear that I love you, and will honor and obey you as my lord and my
He sank upon his knees before her, and kissed the hand which rested in his
own. "Ludovicka Hollandine, Princess of the Palatinate," he said, with
distinct and solemn voice, "I, Frederick William, Electoral Prince of
Brandenburg, vow and swear hereby to love and be faithful to you ever as
your wedded husband."
"I accept your oath, and return it!" she cried joyfully. "I, too, swear to
love and be ever true to you, and to take you for my husband. And here you
have my betrothal kiss, and here you have your destined bride. Take her,
and love her a little, for she loves you very much, and she will die of
chagrin if you forget her!"
"I shall never forget you, Ludovicka!" cried he, tenderly embracing her.
"Storms indeed will come, violent tempests will rage about us, but I
rejoice in them. For strength is tried by storms, and when it thunders and
lightens I can then prove to you that my arm is strong enough to protect
you, and that you are safe from all danger upon my heart."
"O Frederick! and still, still would they separate us. My mother just said
to me yesterday, 'Take care not to love the Electoral Prince seriously,
for he can never be your husband.' And when, trembling and weeping, I
asked the reason, she at last replied, 'Because you are a poor Princess,
and because the misfortunes of your house overshadow you likewise.' The
Elector and his minister will never give their consent to such a union,
and the Electoral Prince will never have the spirit to be disobedient to
his father and to marry in opposition to his wishes."
She darted a quick, searching glance at his face, and saw how he reddened
with indignation. "I shall prove to your mother that she is mistaken in
me," he said vehemently. "I am indeed yet young in years, but I feel
myself in heart a man who bows to no strange will, and is only obedient to
the law of his conscience and his own judgment. I love you, Ludovicka, and
I will marry you!"
"If they give us time, Frederick," sighed Ludovicka. "If they do not force
me first to wed some other man."
"What do you say?" cried the Electoral Prince, growing pale, as he clasped
his beloved yet closer to his side. "Could it be possible that--"
"That they sell and barter me away, just as they do other princesses? Yes,
alas! it is possible. Ay, Frederick, more than possible--it is certain
that they have such views. Wherefore think you, then, that the Electoral
Prince of Hesse is here--that he came yesterday with my uncle, the
Stadtholder, to visit my mother, and that he was even presented to me in
my own apartment? O Frederick! my mother has told me it is a settled
thing--that the Electoral Prince of Hesse has come to marry me. They have
already made arrangements, and got everything in readiness. Day after
to-morrow is to be the day for his formal wooing, and if you do not save
me, if you know of no way of escape, then in eight days I shall be the
bride of the Electoral Prince of Hesse. I had planned, Frederick, to try
you first--to hear from yourself whether you actually loved me, whether
your love was earnest. Had I discovered that you were only making sport of
my heart, had you not formally offered me your hand and sued for me as
your wife, then would I have gone silently away, would have buried my love
in the depths of my soul, sacrificed myself to my mother's wishes and the
misfortune of my house, and become the wife of the Electoral Prince of
Hesse. But you do love me, you offer me your hand, and now I confess my
love openly and joyfully--now I cast myself in your arms and entreat you:
Save me, my Frederick, do not let them tear me away from you! Save me from
the Electoral Prince of Hesse!"
She flung both her arms around him, pressed him closely to her, and looked
up to him with tenderly beseeching eye. With passionate warmth the
Electoral Prince kissed those alluring eyes and lips responding to his
pressure. "You shall be mine, you must be mine, for I love you
inexpressibly. I can not, I will not live without you!"
"Let us fly, my beloved," whispered she, always holding him in her
"Let us fly before the wrath of your father, before the courtship
of the Electoral Prince of Hesse. Let us preserve our love in some quiet
corner of the earth; let us fly where no one can follow us, where your
father's will and his minister's hate can have no power--let us fly!"
"Yes," said he, clasping closer in his arms the tender, glowing creature
who clung so affectionately to him--"yes, let us fly, my beloved. They
shall not tear you from me; I will have you, in spite of them all--you
shall be mine, even though the whole world should rise up in opposition.
To-morrow night let us make our escape. You are right; there must be some
quiet corner of the world where we can hide ourselves, living for
happiness, for love alone, until it is permitted us to emerge from our
seclusion, and assume the station in the world due to us both. Yes, we
will flee, Ludovicka, we will flee, no matter where!"
"Oh, I hope I know a place of refuge, where we may be sheltered from the
first wrath of our relatives, my Frederick. I have friends, influential,
mighty friends, who will gladly furnish us with an asylum, and from whom
we may accept it. To them I shall turn--to them apply for a retreat. They
will provide us with the means for flight. Only, my beloved," she
continued, hesitating and with downcast eyes, "only one thing is needful
to enable me to flee with you."
"What is that, my beloved, tell me?"
"Frederick, I can only follow my husband, only go with you as your wife."
"Yes, you sweet, lovely girl, you can only follow me as your husband.
To-morrow night we make our escape, and ere we escape we must be married,
and a priest shall bless our love. You say you have influential and
powerful friends here, and indeed I know that the richest, noblest men in
Holland vie with one another for one kind glance from my Ludovicka. Oh,
not in vain have the States stood godfather for my bride, and given her
their name. Now will some rich, powerful citizen of Holland prove that he,
too, is godfather to the lovely Princess Hollandine, and in Java or Peru,
or perhaps on some ship, find us a republic. I accept it, beloved, I
accept it, and swear beforehand that the future Elector shall reward the
rich mynheer and the whole of Holland for the good now done to the
Electoral Prince and his beloved Hollandine. Speak, therefore, to your
good, rich friends; tell them they may help and assist us. I agree to
everything, I accept everything. I only want you, you yourself, for you
are my all, my life, my light!"
"You give me full power, then, to make arrangements for our flight, my
"I give you full power, my beloved; you are wiser, more thoughtful than I
am; besides, you are not so strictly guarded, so encircled by spies as I
"No; to-morrow I am still free," exulted she--"to-morrow the Electoral
Prince of Hesse has as yet no power over me, and no one will be observing
me. My mother has been detained by sickness at The Hague, and here at
Doornward there are no spies. Yes, I take charge of all, beloved. I shall
manage everything, and to-morrow night I shall expect you."
"To-morrow night I shall come here to take you away, my, beloved."
"No, not here, for to-morrow my mother comes home, and then the castle
will no longer be so solitary and quiet; then there will be many people
here, and our movements might be watched."
"Well, where else shall I find you, Ludovicka?"
She clung to him, and gazed tenderly into his glowing eyes. "Oh," she
said, "you do not know what I have ventured and dared for you. Do you
remember with what animation and rapture you spoke to me recently of the
secret league which exists at The Hague, of the rare feasts which you
solemnize there, of the pleasure and delight you experience there? Do you
remember how you lamented that we could not enjoy this glorious
companionship together, that I could not be there at your side? Well, see,
beloved, now you must admit how much I love you, and how ready I am to
please you. I have in perfect secrecy and silence had myself initiated
into the order of the Media Nocte."
"You have done that?" cried the Prince, in joyful astonishment. "You
belong to this glorious company of great minds, naming hearts, and noble
souls? Oh, my Ludovicka, I recognize your love in this, and I thank you,
and am proud of it that my betrothed belongs to the genial, the
intellectual, and the elect. Oh, you are not merely my destined bride, you
are my muse, my goddess, and in humility I bow my head before you, and I
kiss the hem of your robe, beloved mistress, chosen one!"
He bent his knee and kissed her robe, and bowed lower to kiss the tiny
foot in its blue satin shoe. Then he raised one of these pretty feet and
kissed it again, and placed it on his breast, holding it fast there with
both his hands.
"Mistress," he whispered, lifting up to her his countenance, beaming with
love and enthusiasm--"mistress, your slave lies before you. Crush me, let
me be dust beneath your feet, if you do not love me; let me die here, or
swear to me that you will ever love me, that to-morrow night you will link
your destiny indissolubly with mine!"
"I will ever love you," she breathed forth, with a magical smile;
"to-morrow night I will link my fate to yours."
"Give me a pledge of your vow, a sign, a token of this hour!" entreated
he, still holding the little foot between his hands.
"What sort of pledge do you require, beloved of my heart? Ask, command;
whatever it may be, it shall be yours!"
With beaming, happy look he gazed upon her glowing countenance, and nodded
to her, and whispered words full of tenderness and love, and at the same
time with fondling hand loosened the silver buckle which fastened the blue
satin shoe upon her foot, drew off the slipper from her little foot, whose
rosy hue was transparent through the white silk stocking, and smilingly
thrust it into the breast pocket of his velvet jacket. "But, Frederick, my
shoe--give me back my shoe," said she, laughing; and her little hand and
wondrous arm dived into his pocket to recover the stolen shoe. But the
Prince held fast the little hand, whose warm, soft touch he felt to the
deepest recesses of his heart, and pressed warm, glowing kisses on that
ravishing arm, which seemed to quiver and tremble at the touch of his lips.
"My shoe," she breathed softly--"give me my shoe!"
"Never!" said he energetically. "No, I swear it, so truly as I love you, I
shall never give back to you this precious jewel. Mine it remains, and not
for all the treasures of the earth do I give it back again. Here, on my
heart, it shall rest, the charming little shoe, and when I die it shall
rest beside me in my coffin."
"No, no, I will have it again!" cried Ludovicka. "My heavens! what would
my chambermaid say, if to-morrow morning one of my shoes had
vanished--been spirited away?"
"Let her say and think what she pleases, dearest. Tell her you will direct
her where to find it on the day after to-morrow. Think you not that when
our flight is discovered, she will readily guess who has stolen your shoe?"
"But see, Frederick, see my poor foot; it is freezing, pining for its
And smilingly Ludovicka extended toward the Prince her shoeless little
foot. He took it between his hands and breathed on it with his glowing
breath, and pressed upon it his burning lips.
"Forgive me, you beautiful foot, for having robbed you of your house. But
look you, dear foot, the little house shall now become a sacred memento of
my love and my betrothal; and look you, dear foot, I swear to you that you
shall walk in pleasant paths. I shall strew flowers for you, you shall
tread upon roses, and not a thorn shall prick you and not a stone bruise
you. That I swear to you, you little foot of the great enchantress, and
therefore forgive me my theft!"
"It shook its head, it will not!" cried Ludovicka, swinging her foot to
"It shall forgive, or I will punish its mistress!" cried the Prince, while
he sprang up, ardently encircling his beloved with his arm. "Yes, you
shall pay me for your cruel foot, and--"
All at once he became silent, and, hearkening, looked toward the wall.
Ludovicka shrank back, and turned her eye to the same spot.
"Is there, a door there?" whispered he.
"Yes," she breathed softly, "a tapestry door leading to the small
corridor, and thence into my sleeping apartment."
"Is any one in your sleeping room?"
"My little cousin, Louisa of Orange, who came to-day, and insisted upon
staying here--Hush, for God's sake! she is coming. Hide yourself!"
He flew across the room and jumped behind the door curtain, through which
d'Entragues had gone out a little while before. The curtain yet shook from
the violence of his movement, when the little tapestry door on the other
side was opened, and a lovely child appeared upon the threshold. A long
white nightgown, trimmed with rose-colored favors, concealed the slender
delicate form in its flowing drapery, falling from the neck to the feet,
which, perfectly bare, peeped forth from beneath the white wrapper like
two little rose-buds. Her fair hair was parted over the broad, open brow,
and fell in long, heavy ringlets on each side of the lovely childish face.
The big blue eyes looked so pious and innocent, and such a soft, gentle
smile played about the fresh crimson lips! In this whole fair apparition
there was such a wondrous magic, so superhuman a loveliness, that it might
have been supposed that an angel from heaven had descended and was now
entering this apartment, which was yet aglow with the sighs and
protestations of passionate earthly love, and radiant as a consecrated
altar taper shone the candle in the silver candlestick which she carried
in her hand. Lightly and inaudibly the child tripped across the floor to
the Princess, who had thrown herself upon the divan, and assumed the
appearance of just being aroused from a deep slumber.
"Forgive me, dear, beautiful Aunt Ludovicka," said the little girl, in a
low, soft voice, while she placed the candle upon the table and leaned
over the Princess--"forgive me for waking you up. But I had such a fearful
dream, and I fancied it was real. It seemed to me as if robbers were in
the castle. I heard them laugh and talk quite plainly, and I was
dreadfully distressed, and called you. You did not answer me, and then I
thought they had already murdered you, and I sprang from the sofa where
they had prepared my couch, near to your bed. You were not there, your bed
was cold and empty, and still I heard quite plainly the loud laughing and
talking of the robbers, and I was so dreadfully anxious and distressed
that I must see where you were--I must see if they had not murdered you. I
took the light and came here running, and, God be thanked! here is my dear
Aunt Hollandine, and no robbers have taken her away from me, and no
murderers have killed her."
With her slender childish arms she embraced the Princess, and pressed her
rosy cheeks tenderly against Ludovicka's glowing face.
"You little blockhead, how you have frightened me!" said Ludovicka,
repulsing her almost rudely. "I was asleep here, dreaming such sweet
dreams, and all at once you have come and waked me, you little night owl.
Go, go to bed, Louisa, and do not be so timid, child. No robbers and
murderers come here, and in our castle you need not be afraid."
"Ah, Aunt Hollandine," whispered the child, while she cast a frightened,
anxious glance around the room--"ah, Aunt Hollandine, I am afraid that
this castle is haunted. It was either robbers or evil spirits who made
such a noise and talked and laughed so loud. And"--she stooped lower and
quite softly whispered--"and you may believe me, dear, good aunt, it is
haunted here. I plainly saw the curtain across there shake as I entered.
Evil spirits are abroad to-night. Do you hear how it howls and whistles
out of doors, and how the windows rattle? Those are spirits, and they have
flown in here and laughed and danced. O aunt! you did not hear, but I did,
for I have been awake, and have heard and seen how the door curtain shook,
and there they lurk now, those wicked spirits, and look at us and laugh.
Oh, I know that, I do! My nurse, Trude, told me all about it the other
evening, and she knows. There are good and bad spirits; but the good
spirits make no noise, and you would not know they were here. They come to
you so quietly and so gently, and sit by your bed and look at you, and
their faces shine like the moon and their eyes like stars, and their
thoughts are prayers and their smiles God's blessing. But evil spirits are
noisy and boisterous, and laugh and make an uproar as they did to-night!"
"You have been dreaming, little simpleton, and fancy now that you really
heard what dull sleep alone was thrumming about your ears. All has been
quiet and peaceful here, and no evil spirits were in this room--trust me."
"Neither were good spirits here, aunt!" cried the child; with tearful
voice. "The door curtain did move, and I did hear laughter--believe me.
And, dear Aunt Hollandine, I beg you to give me your hand and come with me
into your sleeping room, and please be kind enough to your poor little
Louisa to take her with you into your great fine bed, and let us hug one
another and pray together and sleep together; then the evil spirits can
not get to us. Come, dear aunt, come!"
With both her hands she seized the Princess by the arm, and tried to lift
her from the divan. But Ludovicka hastily pushed her away.
"Leave such follies, Louisa, and go to bed!" she said angrily. "Had I
known what a restless sleeper you were, I should not have gratified your
wish of staying with me, but had you put to bed on the other side of the
castle with the little princesses, my sisters."
"Aunt," said the child, in a touching tone of voice, "I will be perfectly
still and quiet, I shall certainly not disturb you, if you will only be
good and kind enough to come with me."
"No," said Ludovicka, "no, I am not going with you, for I have something
still to do here. But if you are good and docile, and go back quietly and
prettily to the sleeping room, and creep into your little bed, then I
promise you to come soon."
"Well, then, I will go," sighed the child, and dropped her little head
like a withered flower. "Yes, I will be good, that you may love me. But
please come soon, Aunt Ludovicka, come soon."
She again took the candlestick from the table, nodded to the Princess and
tried to smile, while at the same time two long-restrained tears rolled,
like liquid pearls, from her large blue eyes over her rosy cheeks. Softly
and with her little head always bowed down she crossed the apartment to
the tapestry door; but, just as she was on the verge of the threshold, she
stopped, turned around, and an expression of radiant joy flashed across
her pretty face.
"Dear aunt," she cried, "Trude told me that when we pray evil spirits must
fly away, and have no longer any power. I will pray, yes, I will pray for
And the child sank upon her knees. Placing the candlestick at her side,
she folded her little white hands upon her breast, raised her head and
eyes, and prayed in a distinct, earnest voice: "Dear Heavenly Father and
all ye holy angels on high, protect the innocent and the good! O God!
guide us to thee with the golden star which shone upon the shepherds in
the field when they went out to seek the child Christ! Blessed angels,
come down and keep guard around our bed, that no evil spirits and bad
dreams can come to trouble us! God and all ye holy angels on high, have
pity on the innocent and good! Amen! Amen! Amen!"
And at the last amen, the child rose from her knees, again took up her
light, and tripped lightly and smiling out of the room.
Ludovicka sprang to the door, shut it close, and leaned against it. The
Electoral Prince stepped forth from the curtain on the other side, and his
countenance was grave, and his large eyes were less fiery and passionate,
as he now approached the Princess.
"Poor child," he whispered, "how bitterly distressed she is! Go to her, my
precious love, and pray with her for our happiness and our love."
"Are you going away already, my Frederick?" she asked tenderly.
He pointed with his finger to the tapestry door. "She is so distressed,
and her dear little face was so sad, it touched me to the heart."
"How foolish I was," she murmured impatiently--"how foolish not to think
of it, that the child might disturb us! She has often before spent the
night with me, and never waked up, never--"
"Never has she been disturbed," concluded the Prince, smiling. "Never
before have evil spirits chattered and laughed within your room, and
roused her from her sleep. But she shall yet see that her prayer has not
been in vain, but that it has exorcised the evil spirits. Farewell, dear
one! Farewell, and this kiss for good-night--this kiss for my beloved
promised bride! The last betrothal kiss, for to-morrow night you will be
my wife! God and all ye holy angels on high, protect the innocent and
He kissed once more her lips and her dark, perfumed hair, then hastened
with rapid step across the apartment, hurriedly opened the window, lowered
the rope ladder, and swung himself up on the windowsill."
"Farewell, dearest, farewell! To-morrow night we shall meet again!" he
whispered, kissing the tips of his fingers to her. Then he seized the rope
ladder with both hands, and ere the Princess, who had hastened toward him,
had yet found time to assist him and offer her hand to aid him in
descending, his slight, elastic figure had disappeared beneath the dark
Ludovicka leaned out of the window, and with all the strength of her
delicate little hands held firm the rope ladder, which swayed backward and
forward and sighed and groaned beneath its burden. All at once the rope
ladder stood still, and like spirit greetings were wafted up to her the
words, "Farewell! farewell!"
"He is gone," murmured Ludovicka, retreating from the window--"he is gone!
But to-morrow, to-morrow night, I shall have him again. To-morrow night I
shall be his wife. O Sir Count d'Entragues! you shall be forced to
acknowledge that the Electoral Prince loves me, and that his declaration
of love is synonymous with an offer of marriage! I think I have managed
everything exactly as it was marked out on the paper. Let us look again."
She again drew forth the paper from the casket on her writing table, and
read it through attentively. "Yes," she murmured as she read, "all in
order. Offer of marriage elicited. Alarmed by the threat that they will
unite me to the Prince of Hesse. Not betray who the friends are who will
render me their aid. Secret marriage arranged. Time presses, To-morrow
night. All is in order. The Media Nocte, too, confessed. Only one thing is
still wanting. I only omitted telling him that our rendezvous must be in
the Media Nocte, and that we make our escape from there. Well, never mind,
I can tell him to-morrow, and about ten o'clock the orange-colored ribbon
may flutter from my window, and Count d'Entragues will be so rejoiced! Oh,
to-morrow, to-morrow I shall be my handsome Electoral Prince's wife!"
She stretched forth her arms, as if she would embrace, although he was
invisible, the handsome, beloved youth, whose kisses yet burned upon her
lips. Her flaming eyes wandered over the apartment, as if she still hoped
to find there his fine and slender shape. Now, not finding him, she sighed
heavily and fixed her eyes upon the great portrait, which hung upon the
wall above the divan. It was the half-length likeness of a woman, a queen,
as was shown by the diadem of pearls surmounting her high, narrow
forehead, and behind which a crown could be discerned. A rare picture it
was, possessed of magical attractions. The large blue eyes, so glowing and
tender, the soft, rounded cheeks, so transparently fair, the full, pouting
lips, so speaking--all seemed to promise joy; and yet in the whole
expression of the face there was so much melancholy and so much pain!
Princess Ludovicka walked softly to the portrait, and lifted up to it her
"I, too, will pray," she whispered. "Yes, I will pray to you, Mary Stuart,
queen of love and beauty! O Mary! holy martyr, graciously incline thy
glance toward thy grandchild. Let thy starry eyes rest upon me, and
graciously protect me in the path that I shall tread to-morrow, for it is
the path of love! Oh, let it be the path of happiness as well! Mary
Stuart, pray for me, and protect me, your grandchild! Amen!"
"Your Highness stayed out very late again last night," said Herr Kalkhun
von Leuchtmar, as he entered the sleeping apartment of the Electoral
Prince Frederick William, who was still in bed.
"Yes, it is true," replied the Prince, stretching himself at his ease, "I
did come home very late last night."
"The chamberlain has already waked your highness three times, and your
highness has each time assured him that he would get up, but has each
time, it seems, fallen asleep again."
"Yes, I did fall asleep each time," answered Frederick William, in a
somewhat irritated tone of voice; "and what of it?"
"Why," said Herr von Leuchtmar pleasantly--"why, the painter Gabriel
Nietzel, who arrived yesterday, and, to whom your highness promised to
give audience this morning at eight o'clock, has been waiting almost two
hours; Count von Berg, on whom your highness was to call at nine o'clock,
has been expecting you an hour in vain--the horse has stood saddled in the
stable for an hour; and the private secretary Mueller, with whom your
highness was to prepare to-day a treatise upon fortifications, will
probably make no progress whatever with the work."
"It seems that I am not to have the privilege of sleeping as long as I
choose," cried the Electoral Prince, with a mocking laugh. "My house moves
like clockwork, in which there is no comfort or rest whatever, but where
each must perform his prescribed service with mathematical exactness, that
the whole be not stopped."
"It is in a house as in a state," said Leuchtmar seriously: "each one,
high and low, must do his duty, else the whole machinery stops, and, as
your highness very justly remarked, the clockwork either stands still or
is at the least put out of order."
"Consequently, the clockwork of my house was disarranged merely because I
stayed up two hours later than I have been accustomed to do?"
"Totally disarranged, your highness."
The Prince reddened with displeasure, his eyes flashed, and he had already
opened his mouth for an angry reply, when he violently restrained himself.
"I will get up," he said, "and then we can talk more about it."
Herr von Leuchtmar bowed and withdrew to the antechamber. A quarter of an
hour, however, had hardly elapsed before the chamberlain issued from the
Prince's sleeping apartment, and announced to Herr Kalkhun von Leuchtmar,
that breakfast was served, and that his highness, the Electoral Prince,
awaited the baron's attendance at this meal in his drawing room. Herr von
Leuchtmar hastened to obey the summons, and to repair to the Prince's
drawing room. Frederick William seemed not at all conscious of his
entrance. He sat on the divan sipping his chocolate, and at the same time
restlessly playing with the greyhound that lay at his feet, looking up at
him with its gentle, truthful eyes. Herr von Leuchtmar seated himself
opposite the Prince, and took his breakfast in silent reserve. Once the
Prince's eye scanned the noble, serious countenance of his former tutor,
and the expression of perfect repose resting there seemed to pique and
irritate him. He jumped up and several times walked briskly up and down
the room. Then he paused before Leuchtmar, who had likewise risen, and
whose large, dark-blue eyes were turned upon the Prince in gentle sorrow.
"Leuchtmar," said the latter, shortly and quickly, "all is not between us
as it should be."
"I have remarked it for some time with pain," replied the baron softly.
"Your highness is out of humor."
"No, I am discontented!" cried the Prince; "and, by heavens, I have a
right to be!"
"Will your highness have the kindness to tell me why you are discontented?"
"Yes, I will tell you, for you must know it in order that you may endeavor
to alter it. I am discontented, Leuchtmar, because you and Mueller will
never forget that I have owed respect to you as my teachers."
"Prince," said the baron, lifting his head a little higher--"Prince, have
we two behaved ourselves so as no longer to deserve your respect?"
"Respect, indeed; but you confound respect with obedience, and wish me to
obey you unreservedly, as if I were still a boy, subject to his teachers."
"While now you would say you are a Prince arrived at years of majority,
who no longer needs a teacher, and whose earlier preceptors are now only
his subjects, dependent upon him."
"No, I would not say that; and it is exceedingly obliging in you to carry
your guardianship so far as even to interpret what I would say. Meanwhile,
you have made a remark which claims my attention. You said that I was a
Prince in my majority?"
"Certainly, your highness, you are a major in so far as the laws of the
electoral house of Brandenburg allow the Electoral Prince, in case of his
father's death, if he has attained his sixteenth year, to assume the reins
of government, independent of governor or regent."
"Consequently, if my father were to die (which God forbid!) I might
administer the government independently, in my own right?"
"Independently and in your own right, your highness."
"Whence comes it then that I, who might undertake the government of a
whole country, am yet perpetually under restraint in the conduct of my own
private life, watched over and treated like an irresponsible boy? It
grieves me, Herr von Leuchtmar, to be forced to remind you that the time
for my education is past, for I am not sixteen years old, but already
several weeks advanced in my eighteenth year."
"I thank your highness for this admonition," replied the baron quietly,
"and I confess that without it I should not have known that your education
"Sir, you insult me! So you still regard me as nothing but a boy?"
"No, your highness, as a man, and I believe that Socrates was right when
he said, 'The education of man begins in the cradle and ends only in the
"You know very well that he meant it in a widely different sense. Our talk
is not now of actual education, but of the relations of pupil and teacher.
The time of my pupilage is past, Sir Baron, and you will bear in mind, I
beg, that I no longer sit in the schoolroom."
"That, again, I did not know," said Leuchtmar gently, "and again in my
defense I cite the wise Socrates, who said, 'Man is learning his whole
life long, to confess at last that the only certain knowledge he has
attained is that he knows nothing.'"
"Maxims and maxims forever!" cried the Prince impatiently. "You want to
evade me--you purposely misunderstand me. Well, then, candidly speaking, I
am sick and tired of being everlastingly found fault with, watched over,
tutored and spied upon, and once for all I beg that a stop be put to all
"Will your highness do me the favor to say who it is that finds fault
with, watches over, tutors, and spies upon you?"
"Why, yes--you, Baron Kalkhun von Leuchtmar, you and the private secretary
Mueller, you two first and foremost do those very things."
"Your highness, if we have allowed ourselves to find fault with you when
you did not deserve it, it was very presumptuous; if we have watched over
you and tutored you, surely that might be forgiven in former tutors and
instructors; but if we have acted as spies upon you, then have we both
degraded ourselves and become contemptible, and your highness may esteem
it as my last tutoring if I advise you to remove so unworthy a couple of
subjects forever from your presence."
"You will lead me _ad absurdum_, Leuchtmar!" cried the Prince. "You would
prove to me that I am wrong and accuse you falsely. But you are mistaken,
sir; I only speak the truth. One thing I ask you, though: have you ever
looked upon me as an ungrateful pupil, a disobedient scholar, an
ill-natured, idle man?"
"No, never," returned Leuchtmar cordially. "No, your highness--"
"Leave off those tiresome titles," interrupted the Prince. "Speak simply
and to the point, without ceremony, as is becoming in serious moments,
when man stands face to face with man."
"Well then, no. You have ever been only a source of delight to your
teachers and preceptors, and have ever proved yourself a kind-hearted,
friendly, and condescending young Prince. You have (forgive me for saying
so) been indeed the model of a young, amiable, good, and intellectual
Prince. You have completed your studies at the universities of Arnheim and
Leyden to the highest satisfaction of your professors. You have
distinguished yourself at the colleges by diligence and attention, and
perfected yourself in the languages and mastered all the sciences. Since
you have been here at The Hague you have won for yourself the love and
admiration of all those who have had the good fortune to come into your
"Leuchtmar," interrupted the Prince, with difficulty suppressing a
smile--"Leuchtmar, now you are falling into the opposite error; before you
blamed me too much, now you praise me too much!"
"Prince, I spoke before as now, only according to my inmost convictions,
and you permit me still to utter these, do you not?"
"Well," said Frederick William, hesitating, "the thing is--if your
convictions are too flattering or too injurious, you might moderate them a
little. For example, the way you acted in my sleeping room, a little while
ago, was injurious. Just acknowledge it--say that you went a little too
far, that it was not becoming in you to find fault with me, because I sat
up a few hours too late, and all is made up."
"Prince," replied Leuchtmar, after a slight pause--"Prince, forgive me,
but I can not say it, for it would be an untruth. For a Prince, want of
punctuality is a very dangerous and bad fault, and if he first becomes
unreliable in his outer being, he will be so soon in his inner nature as
well. But I do admit that perhaps I spoke in too excited a tone of voice,
and the reason of that was, because--"
"Well? Be pleased to finish your sentence. Because--"
"Because, yes, let it be spoken plainly, because I know what this keeping
of late hours means."
"And what does it mean, if I may ask?"
"Prince, my dear, beloved Prince, you whom in the depths of my soul I call
my son, Prince, forgive me if I answer. It means that you have fallen into
bad company--company which it is beneath your dignity to keep, company
alike prejudicial to your mind and honor as to your health."
"Of what company do you dare to speak so?" asked the Prince, with wrathful
"Prince, of that company which is hypocritical and deceitful as sin,
dazzling and alluring as a poisonous flower, dangerous and deadly as
Scylla and Charybdis, of the company of the Media Nocte."
The Prince laughed aloud, and at the same time drew a deep breath, as if
he felt his breast relieved of an oppressive burden. "Ah," he said, "is it
only this? The Media Nocte is indeed a society which appears to all those
who do not belong to it as a monster, a dragon, which slays with its fiery
breath those who approach it, and daily requires for its breakfast a youth
or a maiden. But I tell you, you anxious and short-sighted fools, you take
an eagle for a flying dragon, and scream fire merely because you see a
bright light! The Media Nocte is no monster, no Scylla and Charybdis, and
we need not on her account have our arms bound, as cunning Ulysses did,
which, by the way, always seemed to me very weak and womanly. A man must
go to meet danger with a bold eye, with valiant spirit; he must confront
it with his freedom of will and strength, and not seek to defend himself
from it by outward means of resistance. Supposing that the Media Nocte
were the dangerous society which you erroneously imagine it to be, need
this be a ground for me to intrench myself timidly against it and flee its
touch? No; just for that very reason would I seek it out--advance to meet
it with the determination to do battle with it. But I tell you that you
are mistaken in your premises! The Media Nocte is a society devoted to
noble pleasures, to pure joys, to the highest, most intellectual
enjoyments. All the arts, all the sciences, are fostered by it. All that
is great and good, exalted and beautiful, is hailed there with delight,
and only pedantry and stupidity are held aloof. Truth and nature are the
two sacred laws observed in this society, and the noble, pure, free, and
chaste Grecian spirit is the great exemplar of all its members. Therefore
they all appear in Greek robes, and all their banquets are solemnized in
the Greek style. And this it is which you wise, pedantic people stigmatize
as blameworthy and abominable. The unusual fills you with horror, and the
genial you call bold because it soars above what is commonplace!"
"Well do I know that your highness looks upon the society in this way,"
replied Leuchtmar, regarding with loving glances the handsome, excited
countenance of the Prince. "Yes, I know that this is the only view you
have had of the society of the Media Nocte, and that you would turn from
it with horror and disgust if you were conscious of the license lurking
behind its apparent geniality, the coarseness behind the unusual. But I
beseech you, Prince, be not blind with your eyes open, close not
voluntarily the avenues to light. I swear to you as an honest and a
truthful man, that this society is like a plague spot for the noble youth
of The Hague. Each one who touches it becomes impregnated with its poison,
and sickens in spirit and imagination, and the fearful poison flows into
his mind and heart, driving out from them forever truth and freshness,
youth and innocence! Had I a son who belonged to this society with full
understanding and appreciation of its meaning, I should mourn and lament
him as one lost; had I a daughter, and had she even once voluntarily
attended a meeting of the Media Nocte and participated in its pleasures,
then should I thrust her from me with aversion and disgust--should no
longer recognize her as my daughter, but forever expel her from my house
in shame and disgust, for--"
"Desist!" cried the Prince, with thundering voice, springing toward
Leuchtmar and grasping his shoulders with both hands. Glaring fiercely
upon him, he repeated, "Desist, I tell you, Leuchtmar, desist, and recall
what you have just said, for it is a libel, a slander!"
"No, it is the truth, Prince!" cried Leuchtmar, emphatically. "The Media
Nocte is a society of the honorless and shameless, and the woman who
belongs to it is no longer pure!"
"No further, man, or I shall kill you!" said the Prince, in a high-pitched
voice stifled by rage, while his arms clutched Leuchtmar's shoulders yet
more firmly. "Only hear this: You know and have long guessed that I love
the Princess Ludovicka Hollandine. Well, now, the Princess Ludovicka
Hollandine belongs to the society of the Media Nocte!"
"I knew that, Prince," said Leuchtmar solemnly.
The Prince gave a scream of rage, and a deadly pallor overspread his
cheeks. He still retained his grasp upon Leuchtmar's shoulders, his
flashing eyes penetrated like dagger points Leuchtmar's countenance, and
on his brow stood great drops of sweat, which gave witness of his inward
"You knew that," he said, with gasping breath and gnashing teeth--"you
knew that, and yet you dare to speak so, dare to vilify the maiden whom I
love, dare to asperse a pure angel, to call her an outcast! Take back your
words, man, if your life is dear to you--recall them, if you would leave
this room alive!"
"Kill me, Prince, for I do not recall them!" cried Leuchtmar, tranquilly
meeting the flaming glances of the Prince. "No, I do not recall them, and
if you take away my life, I shall give it up in your service and for your
profit. You see very well I attempt no defense, although I am a strong
man, who knows well how to defend his life. But for my own convictions and
for you I die gladly. Kill me then!"
"You do not recall them?" shrieked the Prince. "You maintain all to be
truth that you have said of the order of the Media Nocte? You knew already
before I told you that the Princess Ludovicka Hollandine belongs to it?"
"I knew it, Prince, indeed, I knew it!"
The Prince burst into a wild laugh, and with a sudden jerk thrust
Leuchtmar so violently from him that he reeled backward against the wall.
"No," he said grimly and wrathfully--"no, I will not do you the pleasure
to kill you, for that would turn a wretched farce into a tragedy, and make
a hero of a comedian! You are a good comedian, and you have played your
part well! I can testify to that. Go and claim credit for this with my
father and Count Schwarzenberg!"
"I do not understand you, Prince. What does this mean?"
"It means, Mr. Comedian, it means, that already this morning, while you
supposed I was sleeping, I have had an interview with Gabriel Nietzel, my
mother's court painter. Ah! now start back and be amazed. Yes, Gabriel
Nietzel sat by my bed for more than an hour, and brought me a verbal
message from my mother. She had also intrusted him with a letter for me,
but on his journey here he has been robbed and the letter taken from him.
Oh, I imagine the robbers took much more interest in the letters than in
the effects of the painter, and Count Schwarzenberg and yourself both well
know their contents. But happily my mother gave good Gabriel Nietzel a
message to bring by word of mouth as well, which they could not steal from
him, Baron von Leuchtmar. Can you understand now why I call you a
comedian, who has studied his part well?"
"No, Electoral Prince of Brandenburg, I can not yet."
"Well, sir, then I shall tell you. Your virtuous indignation against the
Media Nocte, your shameful allegations against a Princess, whom I love,
your injurious accusations and slanders--all that was nothing more than a
well-studied role prepared for you by my father and his minister. Oh,
answer me not, do not deny it. I know what I say. Yes, I know that the
Emperor of Germany deigns to interest himself in the marriage of the
little Electoral Prince of Brandenburg. I know that his condescension goes
so far as to desire to bless me with the hand of an Austrian archduchess.
I know that on this account he has given strict orders and injunctions to
his devoted servant, who is my father's all-powerful minister, that I
shall be summoned away from The Hague; not, indeed, to reside at my
father's court, but to proceed to the imperial court. But, God be thanked,
the walls of the palace of Berlin are not o'er thick, and my mother has
quick ears and Gabriel Nietzel is a trusty messenger. Yes, sir, I know you
and your plans. I know, too, that the Emperor dreads my union with the
Princess Ludovicka; that he has had my father notified that he will never
sanction such a union, and that therefore my father and his Catholic
minister have dispatched hither messengers and envoys, with strict orders
never to suffer a matrimonial alliance with the Princess Ludovicka
Hollandine, but to do everything to prevent it. Everything to prevent it!
Do you understand me, sir? To calumniate also, and accuse and defame. But
all together you shall not succeed. I shall prove to the Emperor, the
Elector and his minister that I do not fear their wrath, and that the
Electoral Prince of Brandenburg will never, never be the vassal and
servant of the German Emperor; that he feels himself to be an independent
man, who claims for himself freedom of will and action, and who will only
wed in obedience to the dictates of his own heart and his own will. But
you, Leuchtmar, I herewith bid you farewell! We part to-day, and forever.
That we so part, believe me, is to me a lifelong pain, for never can I
forget what I owe you, and how faithful you have otherwise been to me.
Leuchtmar, it is dreadful that you have turned against me. Go, we have
parted! Go! And when you get home to Berlin, then say to my father's
Austrian minister, that I shall never forgive him for what he has this day
done to me, and that the Elector Frederick William will avenge the
Electoral Prince. Tell him that I shall never accept an Austrian
archduchess, a Catholic, as my wife--never become the humble slave of the
Emperor of Germany. This is my farewell!"
And with flaming countenance and eyes flashing with energy and passion,
the Prince crossed the apartment, violently pulled open the door, and
strode out. Leuchtmar looked after him with a mixture of tenderness and
grief. "How angry he was, and yet how glorious to look upon!" he said
softly to himself. "A young hero, who one day will perform his vow. He
will not bow down as the vassal of the German Emperor!"
A side door was just now easily and cautiously opened, and an older man of
venerable aspect, in simple court garb, timidly entered, looking carefully
around, as if he dreaded finding some one else in the apartment.
"Baron, for heaven's sake, what has happened here?" he asked anxiously.
"The Electoral Prince has been talking so loudly and so angrily that they
heard him all through the house, and now he has stormed out and shouted to
have his horse saddled. Almighty God! what has happened?"
Baron Leuchtmar laid his hand upon his friend's arm, and nodded kindly to
him. "My dear Mueller," he said, with a faint smile, "nothing more has
happened than that the Electoral Prince has just dismissed me in anger,
and sent me home to Berlin."
"For pity's sake, what is that you say?" asked the private secretary,
clasping his trembling hands together in painful astonishment. "He has
been so ungrateful as to thrust from him his best and truest friend?"
"I tell you yes, my dear Mueller, he has done so, and in wrath. You know
well that hastiness of temper is an heirloom of the Brandenburg princes,
and Frederick William can not deny that he has the family failing. Yes,
he has dismissed me; but then, you know, it was perfectly natural, for he
loves the Princess Ludovicka Hollandine, and I ventured to criticise her."
"It is actually true, then, that he loves her? He has allowed himself to
be enticed by the siren! Ah! she is the genuine grandchild of Mary Stuart,
and knows how to charm."
"Hush, Mueller, hush! If the Electoral Prince hears that, he will send you
to the devil too!"
"He may do so," cried the old gentleman indignantly. "If he drives you
away, his tutor and his best friend, then I shall reckon it an honor to be
sent away likewise."
"Well, well my friend, be not so desperate. We know our dear Electoral
Prince. He is a lion when angry, a child when his anger is appeased. Let
us wait; to-day I shall conceal myself from him, and to-morrow, well,
to-morrow he will call for me himself. But did you not say that he had
given orders for his horse to be saddled?"
"Yes, indeed, I heard it myself how he commanded them in angry voice to
saddle Maurus for him--the wild hunter, you know."
"Where can he be going so early in the morning?" asked Leuchtmar
thoughtfully. "He is so much excited, and love of the Princess will lead
him to some rash, ill-advised step; for you are right, friend, she is a
siren! But hark! Is not that the voice of the Electoral Prince?"
"Yes, it is indeed. He is below in the court!"
The two men hastened through the apartment to one of the windows, and,
hiding themselves behind the curtains, looked cautiously down into the
court. The Electoral Prince had just swung himself into the saddle. The
horse gave a loud neigh, as if recognizing its master, then reared, but
the Prince sat firm. His short, furred mantle was lifted high by the wind,
the long white ostrich plumes nodded above his broad-brimmed, gold-laced
hat, beneath which floated like a lion's mane his brown and curly hair.
With firm, energetic hand the youth compelled the animal to stand, then
pressed his knees into its flanks, and swift as an arrow from the bow the
animal flew out of the court gate. Both gentlemen stepped back from the
"He is a splendid young man," sighed the private secretary Mueller, shaking
"Yes," echoed Leuchtmar, smiling, "I find it very comprehensible that the
Princess Ludovicka should gladly have him as consort. But we must not
submit to it, but do everything to prevent it, for it is contrary to
policy and reasons of state. And I think, too, such an union would not be
for the Prince's welfare, for the Princess--But hush! the Electoral Prince
has forbidden me to speak evil of her, and we are here in his room. Let us
keep silence with regard to her."
"But where can he be rushing to now--the Electoral Prince, I mean?"
"I fear that I can guess. To her, to the Princess, and to apologize to her
with his looks for the injury which my words have done her. He is just an
enthusiastic youth, and it is his first love! Believe me, he is hurrying
Yes, Leuchtmar was quite right. He was away to her--to Ludovicka. To her
he was irresistibly drawn by vehement desire. Yes, she was his first love,
and the magic of this delicious sensation held his whole being enthralled,
and now drove him onward as on the wings of the hurricane. He thought of
nothing and knew nothing but that he must see her, must prove to her how
passionately he loved her, how fervently and devoutly he believed in her.
The horse dashed on furiously, breathlessly, and yet it seemed to the
Electoral Prince as if an eternity had elapsed ere he finally reached
Castle Doornward. He breathed a glad sigh of relief, threw the reins to
the promptly advancing servants, and vaulted from the horse. His beaming
eyes were uplifted to his beloved's window, and he saluted her with his
thoughts and his smile. He thought she must feel it, and his looks and
thoughts must bring her to the window. He stopped and looked up--but
Ludovicka did not appear at the window; only an orange-colored ribbon was
fluttering there in the sunshine and the wind, and Frederick William
smiled joyfully, for he took it as a token of good fortune. Then he
entered the castle, reverentially greeted by the lackeys, who ventured
not to oppose him, as with rapid bounds, like a young deer, he sprang up
the steps. Straight to the apartments of the Princess Ludovicka he strode,
through the antechamber into the drawing room. But she was not there; she
came not to meet him in her enchanting beauty, with that affectionate
smile upon her crimson lips. No, Ludovicka was not there, and the
chambermaid who officiously hurried from the adjoining room informed the
Prince that her most gracious young lady had already been gone an hour on
a visit to The Hague, whence she would not return till the next morning.
But the sharp, cunning eyes of the Abigail, had meanwhile peered through
the door, which the Prince had left open, out into the antechamber, and,
finding that no one was there, the Prince having come quite alone, she
approached nearer to him.
"Most gracious sir," she whispered, "I was, however, to have gone into
town and handed something for the Electoral Prince to his valet, to whom I
"Now it will be more convenient for you, Alice," said the Electoral Prince
cheerfully. "You need no third party. I am here myself. Give to me
personally what you would have given to my valet, your respected
betrothed, for me."
"Here it is," whispered Alice, drawing from the pocket attached to her
girdle by a silver chain a little note, which, with a graceful bow, she
handed to the Prince.
"And here is your reward," he said, taking a gold piece from his purse
and handing it to her. She took it, blushing with confusion, and bowed
down to the earth.
"If it pleases your grace to read here," whispered she, "I will guard the
He shook his head and rushed out. No, not in that narrow, close room, not
in the neighborhood of that tiresome chambermaid could be read the letter
of his beloved--that letter which he believed, nay, knew, contained the
last decision for sealing his whole future fate. In the open air, under
God's blue sky, in the warm and radiant autumn sun, would he receive the
message of his beloved, would he take to his heart what the angel of his
life had to communicate to him. As rapidly as he had stormed up he again
sprang down the steps, and through the well-known rooms and corridors took
the way leading to the park. He was well acquainted with it, for he had
often taken it at the side of his aunt, the unfortunate Bohemian Queen and
Electress, who had found a refuge here in Holland at the court of her
uncle, the Stadtholder Frederick Henry of Orange, and had her little
residence at Castle Doornward. He had often walked it with the princesses,
her daughters, and very bright and pleasant hours had he passed in that
beautiful park with Princess Ludovicka.
On one of those squares, in one of those shady thickets where he had so
often sat with her and her sisters, he would now read her message. With
hasty step, with glowing cheeks fired by enthusiasm, with head aloft, he
strode on, and now entered the woods near the path. They were curtained by
festoons of wild grapevine; no one could see how he now took out the
little note which he had so long concealed in his hand, how he pressed it
to his lips, to his eyes, how he then unfolded it, and again, before
reading it, pressed the beloved characters to his lips. The letter
contained nothing but the words: "The friends are ready and willing.
To-night about one o'clock in the Media Nocte. From there flight. A worthy
asylum is waiting, and the priest stands before the altar to bless the
"To-night she will be mine--to-night we shall be married! To-night we
shall make our escape!"
He could think of nothing but this. His heart continually repeated it with
loud jubilation, his lips murmured it softly in response, while, knowing
nothing, seeing nothing of the outside world, he sped along through the
alleys and over the squares of the garden. He knew not whither he went, he
had no aim; he only knew that to-night he was to be indissolubly united
with his beloved--that he would flee with her. Once he must pause, for the
loudly beating heart denied him breath, and once, in the blissful rapture
of his soul, he must give a loud shout of joy, otherwise his breast would
have burst. A merry, musical laugh rang forth near to him, and as he
turned to the side whence the sound had proceeded a lovely and pleasing
picture met his astonished gaze. In the midst of the grassplot near which
he was stood a great white cow, one of those splendid creatures that are
only seen on Dutch pastures. A fine-looking maid, dressed in the national
costume of the Dutch peasantry, with the gold-edged cap over the full,
luxuriant hair that fell in long braids down her back, sat on a stool
beside the cow, and was busied in milking. In melodious, regular cadence
the steaming milk flowed over her rosy hands down into the white porcelain
bucket which she held between her knees. At her side stood a little girl,
in almost the identical costume, only that the wide plaited skirt was of
black silk, the bodice of purple velvet trimmed with gold buttons and
loops, and the white apron of finest linen edged with point lace. Below
the short silk skirt, trimmed with purple velvet, peeped forth blue silk
stockings with red tops; shoes with high red heels, ornamented with gold
buckles, covered the neat little feet. It was altogether quite the costume
of a Dutch peasant girl, only the cap was wanting on the head, and in its
stead the hair, which fell in long fair ringlets over the child's
shoulders, was adorned by a thick wreath of the tendrils of the wild
grape, into which, in front just over the brow, were woven two beautiful
purple asters. She had been busied, it appeared from the quantity of
leaves and flowers she carried in her apron, in weaving wreaths, but now
let the contents of her apron fall to the ground, and only kept the green
wreath already finished, which hung upon her arm, while she sprang
laughing over the grassplot.
"Cousin Frederick William," she asked merrily, "where do you come from,
and why do you scream so fearfully?"
"Have I frightened you, Cousin Louisa Henrietta?" he asked, extending both
hands to her in greeting.
"Not me, cousin, but Hulda," she returned, holding out her little hands.
"You must know, cousin, Hulda is very scary, and it comes from her being
"Who is Hulda? The smart dairymaid there?"
"Hey, God forbid, cousin! How can you think that dairymaid could be
scared? No, Hulda is my pretty white cow, and she is sad because she has
lost her little calf. I am not to blame for it, and I told my poor Hulda
that, too, and as she lowed so piteously I wept with her heartily and
"But why did you let them take away her little calf? Why did you suffer
it? Is it not your own cow?"
"Understand, it is my own cow," replied the little girl, seriously. "My
good aunt, the Electress, has made me a present of it, that I may have
some pleasure when I come here to Doornward, and it makes me feel as if I
were at home. For you must know, cousin, that I have a regular dairy at
"No, cousin, I did not know it," said the Electoral Prince, while he
looked kindly into the lovely, rosy countenance of the little Princess
Louisa Henrietta of Orange.
"You do not know that?" she cried, clapping her little hands together in
astonishment. "Yes, I have a dairy--three cows, who belong to myself
alone, and for which papa has had built a stable of their own, which is
very grand and splendid. And next to the stable is a room for the milk and
butter. O cousin! I tell you, it is splendid! The next time you come to us
at The Hague, send for me, and I will show you my cows in their stable,
and if you are right good, you shall have a glass of milk from my favorite
"Many thanks!" cried the Electoral Prince, laughing. "But I am no friend
of warm milk, and understand nothing whatever of farming."
"Well, why should you?" said the Princess gravely. "You are a man, and men
have something else to do; they must go to war and govern countries. But
women must understand management and know how to keep house."
"So? Must they that?" laughed the Prince. "Common women, indeed, but you,
Louisa, you are a Princess."
"But a Princess of Holland, cousin, and my mother has told me that the
Princesses of Holland must seek their greatest renown in becoming wise and
prudent housewives, and understanding farming thoroughly, in order that
all the rest of the women of Holland may learn from them. My mother says
that a Prince of Holland should be the first servant of the Sovereign
States, but a Princess of Holland should be the first housekeeper of the
Dutch people, and the more skillful she is the more will the people love
her. And therefore I shall try to be right skillful, for I shall be so
glad if our good people would love me a little."
"Would you, indeed?" asked the Electoral Prince, quite moved by the lovely
countenance and the heartfelt tone of the little girl. "Would you be glad
if the people loved you a little? Well, I promise you, Cousin Louisa
Henrietta, they will love you, and whoever shall look into your good,
truthful eyes will feel himself fortunate and glad, just as I do now. Keep
your beautiful eyes, Louisa, and your innocence and harmlessness, and be a
good housewife, then your people will love you very much. But tell me,
cousin, for whom is that wreath which is hanging on your arm?"
"For my beautiful cow; but if you will have it I will give it to you,
and--no," she broke off, abashed and reddening, "no, forgive me, dear
Cousin Frederick William; I shall not give you a wreath which I destined
only for an animal. I shall fix it so," she cried, with a lovely smile, "I
shall take this wreath to my Hulda, and to you, cousin, I shall give my
She hastily tore the wreath from her own locks, and raising herself on
tiptoe tried with uplifted arm to place it on the Prince's head, but he
stayed her hand.
"No, cousin," he said; "that must be done properly. You are a lady, a
Princess, and if you crown a knight, then let him bow the knee before
And he bent his knee before her, and looked up at her smilingly and
joyously. "Crown me, Cousin Louisa Henrietta," he said, with ceremonial
pathos--"crown me and give me a device."
The little maiden held the crown thoughtfully in her hand, her large blue
eyes fixed upon the smiling countenance before her with an earnest,
"Well," he said, "why do you not give me the wreath? And what are you
"Of a motto, cousin," she replied seriously; "for you told me I must give
you a device. But I am only a silly little girl, and you must bear with
me. Mother said yesterday to me that the best motto she could give for
everyday use is this, 'Be a good woman.' Now I think, if it were rightly
changed and turned, it would suit you."
And with charming determination she pressed the wreath upon the Prince's
dark locks, and then laid both her hands upon his head.
"Be a good man," she said, "yes, Electoral Prince Frederick William, be a
The smile had suddenly vanished from the Prince's countenance, and given
place to a deep earnestness. "Yes," he said solemnly, "I promise you I
shall be a good man." And just as he said this the cow bellowed aloud, and
Princess Louisa turned her looks upon her and nodded pleasantly.
"Look you, cousin," she said, "Hulda, too, gives you her blessing, and do
not laugh at it, for God speaks in all that live; the flowers and beasts
emanate from him as well as men. And if man does not do his duty, and is
not good and diligent, then God does not love him, and the flower which
blooms and the cow that gives milk are dearer to him, for they do their
duty. But see, the milkmaid is ready, and now, Cousin Frederick William,
now I must go to the milkroom and measure the milk into the pans, and I
will tell you, but nobody else shall know, I secretly take a quart cup
full of milk, and take it to the calves' stable to the calf, from my
Hulda. It ought not, indeed, to drink milk any longer, but be an
independent creature, eating hay and chewing the cud, but it will just
feel that the milk comes from its own mother, and be glad. Farewell,
Cousin Frederick William, I must be gone."
She was about to slip away, but the Electoral Prince held her fast. "No,"
he said, "not so cursory shall be our leave-taking, my darling little
heavenly flower. Who knows when we shall meet again?"
"You are not going away yet, cousin?" she asked, stroking his cheeks with
both her little hands. "Ah! they told me that your father would by no
means allow you to remain here any longer, and I was so sorry that it made
"Why did it make you sorry, Cousin Louisa?" asked the Electoral Prince,
drawing the little maiden to himself.
She leaned her little head upon his shoulder. "I do not know," she said,
looking at him with her great blue eyes. "I believe I love you so much
because you are always so good and friendly to me, and have often talked
and played with me, and not laughed at me when I told you about my
animals. I thank you for it, my dear, good cousin, and I shall love you
as long as I live."
"And I, my dear, good cousin, I thank you for the motto which you have
given me, and I shall think of it and of you as long as I live. Yes, my
dear child, I will be a good man, and do you know, little Louisa," he
continued, smiling, "whenever I am in trouble and danger, I shall think
of you and pray, 'God and all ye innocent angels on high, have pity on the
innocent and good! Amen!'"
He pressed a fervent kiss on the child's forehead, nodded smilingly to
her, took the wreath from his head to conceal it in his bosom, and then
strode away with light, quick steps. The child looked thoughtfully after
him with her large blue starry eyes, as if lost in thought, until the
slender, athletic form of the young man had vanished behind the trees.
"How does he know my prayer?" she whispered softly, "and why did he smile
as he repeated it? Ah! surely Cousin Ludovicka has told him what a timid
little coward I was last night. But hark! Hulda is lowing. Yes, yes, I am
And the little girl flew across the grassplot, and flung both her arms
around the animal's neck, and stroked and coaxed it, calling it pet names,
and telling it of its beautiful calf, to which she would forthwith carry
some milk. And the cow lowed no more, but looked with its big intelligent
eyes into the child's face.
"The gods have come down from Olympus! The gods greet the earth! They
greet beauty! They greet youth! They greet wisdom and the arts! The gods
greet the earth! Long live the gods! Live Venus, the mother of love! Long
live Minerva, the unapproachable virgin, full of wisdom! Long live Zeus,
the god of gods, men transformed into gods, and gods into men! Olympus
live on earth!"
So sang they and rejoiced in triumphant chorus, and high above from the
clouds pealed forth music, and from thicket and shrubbery sounded sweet
songs, dying away in gentle whispers. Then all was still, for the gods,
who had traversed the halls in dazzling procession, had now taken their
places at the long rose-crowned tables. An Olympic festival was being
solemnized that evening in the Media Nocte. Earth was forsaken now, and
the children of earth found themselves again on Olympus, changed to gods.
Those were not the drawing rooms in which they had been wont to assemble,
commingling in cheerful pastimes, in hilarious merriment, these people
clad in light Greek robes. No, this was cloud-capped Olympus, this was
heaven upon earth; rose-colored, luminous clouds encircled the space, and
behind them the galleries which ran round the hall had vanished. Instead
of the ceiling usually bounding this vast room, they now looked up to the
deep blue sky, and star after star twinkled there, and filled the
apartment with soft mild light. And not in a hall furnished with chairs
and divans did they find themselves this evening, but in a monstrous
grotto in the heart of Olympus--a grotto of sparkling, glittering mountain
crystal, bright and transparent as silver gauze, and behind this a magical
moving to and fro of beauteous human shapes, of genii and Cupids. Only the
long table in the middle of the grotto reminded of earth, or maybe the
home of heathen gods.
For, like the children of earth, the gods on Olympus used to carouse and
drink, and, like the children of men, did they enjoy fullness of food and
luscious wine. Golden goblets, wreathed with roses, stood before the
silver plates loaded with fruits and tempting viands. In crystal flasks
sparkled the golden wine, in silver vases the gay-colored flowers exhaled
their sweets. Luxurious cushions, soft as swan's down, spangled and
silvery as were the clouds which stooped from heaven, lined both sides of
the long table, and on them the gods and goddesses had just sank in
blissful silence, gazing on the glorious place, and rejoicing that men are
gods and gods are men! There, on high, sits Zeus on golden throne, and
Ganymede, the beautiful boy, stands near and hands him on golden dishes
the fragrant ambrosia, and Hebe, the lovely, childlike maid, hovers about,
and presents in crystal cups the gleaming purple wine, glistening like
gold. Juno, the radiant queen of heaven, sits beside Zeus; and as if woven
of silvery clouds and stars seems the garment that lightly and loosely
envelops but does not hide the wondrous shape. A light cloud of silver
gauze covers her countenance, as that of all the other goddesses.
But now, as all rest in silence, these gods and goddesses, now rises Zeus
from his golden throne and bows to both sides, greeting.
"At the table of the gods must be enthroned Truth, the purest, most chaste
of all the goddesses, and at her side the wisest, most puissant Genius,
the Genius of Silence!" calls out Zeus, with far-resounding voice. "Do you
admit that, ye gods and goddesses?"
"We admit it!" call out all in exulting chorus.
"You gods, swear by all that is sacred to you in heaven and upon earth
that you will present this evening as a thank offering in sacrifice to the
Genius of Silence! That never will pass your lips what your eyes see,
never will your eyes betray the memory that shall dwell within your
"We swear it by all that is sacred in heaven and upon earth!" cry the
"Ye goddesses all, ye have heard!" cries Zeus, the enthroned. "Now do
homage to Truth, as she to the Genius of Silence! Away with falsehood and
deceit! Away with your masks!"
And the plump, wanton arms of the goddesses are raised, and the
rosy-fingered hands tear the silvery veils from their heads and cast them
triumphantly behind them, and triumphantly the gods greet the beaming
countenances of the goddesses, their sparkling eyes and rosy lips, the
haunts of sweet, seductive smiles.
"Long live the gods and goddesses of Olympus! No earthly memories cleave
to them; if perchance they have borne earthly names, who knows it, who
remembers it? The present only belongs to the gods--this hour is one of
Only those two sitting there at the table of the gods, arm linked in arm,
only they remember, for not alone the present but the future, too, belongs
to them. The gods and goddesses call the two Venus and Endymion, but they,
in tender whispers, call each other Ludovicka and Frederick. No one
disturbs himself about them, no one notices the happy pair, and they
observe and regard no one, for they are thinking only of themselves.
"Oh, my beloved," whispers the Prince, "how stale and insipid seems this
fantastic feast to me to-night! Once it would have charmed me, and would
have been to me as embodied poesy. But to-night it leaves me cold and
empty, and I feel that the true and real contain in themselves the highest
"You are indeed right, my Endymion," says she softly--"you are indeed
right: love is the highest poetry, and he who possesses the true and real
needs not the fantastic semblance. Still, this is a feast of gods;
therefore let us enjoy it with glad hearts and swelling joy. For is it not
our wedding feast, and are not all these gods and goddesses unwittingly
solemnizing the hymeneal of our love? Rejoice then, my darling, rejoice
and sing with the convivial, open your heart to the ravishing hour, drink
into thy soul the delight and rapture of the gods!"
A shadow stole over Endymion's high, clear brow, and he gently shook his
head. "I love you so deeply and truly that I can not be merry in this
hour," he said thoughtfully; "and this wild tumult and this uproarious joy
seem not to me like a glorification of our love, but rather its
profanation. Ah! my dear love, would that I were alone with you in the
open air, beneath the broad high arch of heaven, instead of here beneath
this artificial one; would that we sat hand in hand in one of those quiet
shady spots in your park, where I could pour into your ear the holy
secrets of my heart and tell you sweet stories of our love, and you should
listen to me with tranquil, reverent heart, and you and I would solemnize
together a glorious feast divine, more glorious than this mad joy can
furnish us! He who is happy flees noisy pleasures, and he who loves
ardently and truthfully longs for quiet and solitude, to meditate upon his
"We shall be solitary and alone, my Frederick, when we belong to one
another--when nothing more can separate us, when we shall no more have to
meet under the veil of secrecy, no more have to conceal the fair, divine
reality under borrowed tinsel! You know, love, to-night we flee."
"God be praised! to-night will make you forever mine, and nothing then can
separate us but death alone!"
"Speak not of death while life encircles us with all its charms! Be
cheerful, my beloved--be happy, my Endymion. We celebrate the godly feast
of love, and yet is it only the foretaste of our bliss. Yield yourself to
the delights of the moment, drink from the golden goblet of joy, my
"Yes, I will drink, drink, for Venus drinks with me."
"She hands you, Endymion, the flower-crowned goblet! Drink! drink! drink!
Enjoy the moment! Taste the pleasures of this hour! But think of the
coming hour which is to consummate our bliss!"
"When will it be, beloved? And where shall I meet you?"
"When all is bustle and stir and singing, then let my Endymion descend
from Olympus and repair to the grotto of rocks close by. To the left of
the entrance he will find a cavern. Let him go in and there find his white
garments; put them on and wait. All the rest follows of itself."
"And you, my heart--will you, too, follow of yourself?"
"Follow of myself and fetch Endymion!"
Music sent forth sweet strains, and from the rosy clouds the chorus of
Cupids greeted the gods with songs of rejoicing.
After the singing the Muses entered, winding round the table, quoting
far-famed songs and praising the arts, which they protected. And suddenly
the starry sky above became obscure, and twilight reigned. Only behind the
crystalline walls it shone bright and ever brighter, and in sunshine
splendor emerged the antique marble statues of the gods, and walked and
moved, endowed with flesh and growing life. Music resounded and bands of
Cupids sang; again the hall was lighted up, the tables at which the gods
had reclined vanished, geniuses hovered about, strewing the ground with
fragrant flowers, and in glad confusion mingled gods and goddesses, heroes
and demigods, with sparkling eyes and beating hearts. They poetized and
sang, praised the gods, and laughed and shouted, "Long live the Media
Nocte! Long live those great minds and noble hearts which belong to it!"
And all was bustle, stir, and song!
Endymion forsook Olympus, entered the nearest grotto amid the rocks, and
slipped into the little cavern to the left. Venus was still in the hall.
To her came Hercules and softly whispered, "All is ready!"
"But where? Tell me, where? It seems to me like a dream! You see how I
trust you, for without question have I done everything just as the paper
directed. Here I am, in the Media Nocte, and know not at all what remains
to be done!"
"The marriage ceremony and flight, fair Venus! Listen, however, to this
one thing! In close proximity to this house, as you well know, stands the
hotel of the French embassy. Well, gracious lady, walls can be leveled,
and my enchanter Ducato can turn them into doors! Repair to the grotto
hall and the cavern on the right. There will Venus be transformed into the
Princess Ludovicka, and still be Venus! Then cross over to the cavern on
the left, where, instead of Endymion, waits the Electoral Prince. She
gives him her hand! My enchanter Ducato sees it, and all the rest takes
care of itself. Only follow the god within your own breast! Only one thing
more, Princess! Be Venus to him, and ravish his heart and soul, that he
may not delay to sign the contract and inquire into its contents."
"Be not uneasy," smiles Venus proudly; "he will sign anything to be able
to call me his."
Louder resound the peals of music, and all the gods sing and laugh and
jest and shout. And the Bacchantes swing to and fro their ivy-wreathed
staves, and their mouths with ecstasy pour forth their stammering songs of
mirth! Venus has soared away! But no one observes it. Each is his own
deity, here in the Media Nocte. Oh, blessed night of the gods! Forget that
the wretched day of man will return in the morning! Louder resound the
strains of music, and all is bustle, stir, and song there in Olympus!
From the cavern on the right steps forth the Princess Ludovicka in white
satin robe, a myrtle wreath twined in her hair, and behind her sweeps her
veil like a silver cloud. Venus! Venus ever! full of sweet enchantment!
She goes to the cavern on the left, and gently knocks. The door springs
open, and she enters. It is bright within, and the Electoral Prince, in
gold-embroidered suit, comes to meet her with beaming eyes, looks upon her
radiant with happiness, and sinks down at her feet. Endymion! Endymion
ever! Enchained by sweet magic! A door flies open; nobody has opened it,
but there it is. The Electoral Prince jumps up and offers the Princess his
hand. Neither of the two speaks, for their hearts are beating overloud.
The merry music and uproarious shouts of the gods on Olympus penetrate to
them even in the stillness of the cave, but through the open door other
sounds steal near. Solemn, long-drawn organ peals are heard, uniting in
the melody of a pious choral. How strangely blended within that narrow
space those exultant songs and those organ tones! The young lovers hear
only the notes of the organ, and hand in hand move toward the sound.
A small pleasure boat receives them, flowers and myrtle trees line the
banks, and inviting and alluring the organ calls them. Light glimmers at
the end of the passage, and the lovers go toward it. They enter a large
wide room! Solemn silence reigns here. At the farther end is a small
altar. On it burn tall wax tapers, and before it, in full canonicals,
stands the priest, prayer book in hand. At his sides are two gentlemen
in simple, somber dress.
Farther forward, nearer the center of the hall, is a table hung with
green, on which lie several papers and implements of writing, and near it
is a notary in his official garb, again attended by several men. To all
this Prince Frederick William gives but one brief glance, then turns his
eyes once more upon his beloved, standing at his side, radiant in beauty
and enticingly sweet. The jubilant songs of Olympus yet ring in their
ears, the images of the gods yet flame and flaunt before their eyes.
"How beautiful you are, beloved Ludovicka! My Electoral Princess! come,
let us go to the altar! Oh, your good, kind friends! How I thank them! How
well they have arranged everything! Come! You see, the priest is waiting!"
"Not yet, beloved! For you see before the priest stands the notary, and my
good friends will have us go through all the formalities of legal
marriage. Before we are married we must sign the contract!"
"The contract of love is written in our hearts alone. What need for the
intervention of signatures on paper? And how can strangers know what we
alone can settle with one another? I swear unswerving love and fidelity to
my Electoral Princess, and that requires no written confirmation. Come to
the altar, dearest!"
He endeavors to draw her forward, but Ludovicka flings her arm about his
neck and holds him back. "Beloved," she whispers, "the contract which we
sign concerns not us, but the benevolent, mighty friends, who have lent us
their aid, and will help us still further. Ah! without these noble friends
our flight would have been wholly impossible, and we would have been
separated for ever! To-morrow I would have been the bride of the Prince of
Hesse, and your father would already have found means to compel your
return home. Ah! beloved, they would have separated us, if our noble
friends had not helped us. They have prepared everything, cared for
everything. As soon as we are married, we shall journey away to our safe
asylum, and there, under the protection of friends, be sheltered and
secure. For such love and devotion we must be grateful, must we not?"
"Certainly, that we must, and shall be gladly, beloved of my heart! Let
them say how we can prove our gratitude, and certainly it shall be done!"
"They have said it, and written it down in the contract. Come, dearest, we
will sign it, and then to the altar."
She throws her arm around his neck, she draws him to the table where
stands the notary with his witnesses. She hands him the pen and looks at
him with a sweet smile.
Venus! Venus ever!
But he? He is no longer Endymion! He is the Electoral Prince Frederick
William! And strange! like a dream, like a greeting from afar, conies
stealing to his ears, "Be a good man."
"Take the pen and sign!" whispers Venus, with glowing looks of love.
He lays down the pen. "I must know what I sign. Read it, Sir Notary!"
The notary bows low and reads: "In friendship and devotion to the
Electoral Prince Frederick William of Brandenburg and his spouse, born
Princess Ludovicka Hollandine of the Palatinate, we grant them an
undisturbed asylum in our territories, promise to protect and defend them
with all our power, to grant them, besides, maintenance and support,
paying to the Electoral Prince of Brandenburg yearly subsidies of three
hundred thousand livres, until he assumes the reins of government. On his
side, the Electoral Prince of Brandenburg pledges himself, so soon as he
begins to rule in his own right, to conclude a league with us for twenty
years, and never to unite with our enemies against us, but to be true to
us in good as also in evil days. Both parties confirm this by their
signatures. Count d'Entragues has signed in the name of France."
"France!" cried the Electoral Prince, with loudly ringing voice. "France
is the friend who will lend us aid?"
"Yes, Prince, France it is," said Count d'Entragues, approaching the
Prince and bowing low before him. "France through me offers to the noble
Electoral Prince of Brandenburg protection and an asylum, pays him rich
subsidies, and in return requires nothing but his alliance, and, above all
things, his friendship. I am happy to offer the friendship and good
offices of King Louis XIII and Cardinal Richelieu to the Electoral Prince
of Brandenburg and his spouse, and to be permitted to witness the ceremony
of their marriage."
"Come, my beloved, sign," whispered Ludovicka, with pleading voice.
But he thrust back the pen, and looked at the Princess with flaming eyes.
"Did you know, Princess, that it was France who was to assist us?"
"Certainly I knew it," replied she, with feigned astonishment. "Count
d'Entragues himself offered me the assistance of France, and you gave me
full powers to conclude all arrangements."
"It is true, so I did," murmured the Prince. "I thought you had reference
to a private person, to one of those rich mynheers whom I have met at your
house. I told you so, Princess, and you did not contradict me. You left me
under the impression that it was a merchant of Holland who was offering
his help and protection. From a private citizen I could have accepted aid,
for that pledged the man, not the Prince. But from France I can accept no
favors, for by such would be pledged and bound the Prince, the future
ruler of his land, so that he could not act freely according to his
judgment and the requirements of the case, but be subjected to restraint.
Sir Count d'Entragues, I shall not sign."
The Princess uttered a shriek and threw both her arms, round him. "If you
are serious in that, beloved, then are we lost, for who will help us if
France will not?"
"God and ourselves, Ludovicka!"
"God listens not to our entreaties, and we are too weak to help ourselves.
Oh, my beloved, prove now that you love me--that your vows are true. I am
lost to you and you to me if we do not escape to-night--lost if we accept
not France's aid. Look, here is the sheet of paper; our whole future lies
on it. I offer it to you, beloved, and with it my life, my love, my
happiness. Will you scorn me?"
She held out to him both her trembling hands, and looked at him with
glances of entreaty. He returned the look, and a deadly paleness
overspread his face. He took the sheet of paper from her hands--she opened
her mouth for a cry of joy--then a shrill, rasping sound--he had torn the
paper in two, and both pieces fell slowly to the ground.
"That is my answer, so help me God! I can do no otherwise."
A cry sounded from Ludovicka's lips, but it was a cry of horror. She
reeled back, as if a fearful blow had struck her, and stared at the Prince
with wide-open eyes.
"You reject me with disdain?" she asked in a toneless voice. "You will not
flee with me?"
He rushed toward her, cast himself upon his knees before her, kissing her
dress and hands with passionate ardor.
"Forgive me, Ludovicka, forgive me! I can not act differently. I can not
be a traitor to my country, to my father, to Germany. I can not listen to
my heart, with regard to my future, for my future belongs to my people,
my native land, not to myself alone. Go home, beloved; be steadfast and
courageous, as I shall be, and then we shall conquer destiny itself and
win victory for our love."
"Stand up, Electoral Prince of Brandenburg!" she cried imperiously, and
with angry glance. "Now answer me, will you accept the help of France, and
flee with me?"
He turned away from her with a deep sigh. "No, I shall not accept the help
"Count d'Entragues," said the Princess, with shrill, quivering voice, "you
are a gentleman; I place myself under your protection. You will
immediately conduct me to Doornward."
The count hastened to her and offered her his hand. She accepted it, and
he led her slowly through the vast hall to one of the doors of entrance.
The Electoral Prince looked after her with distorted features and burning
eyes. Once he made a movement as if to rush after her, but by a mighty
effort he kept his place. Arrived at the door, she paused and turned upon
him an earnest, questioning glance; he cast down his eyes before it. Count
d'Entragues opened the door--a breathless pause ensued--then the door
closed behind her.
The Electoral Prince placed his trembling hand upon his heart, and two
tears rolled from his eyes. Violently he shook them away, and turned his
head to the notary.
"Sir," he said, in a firm voice--"sir, I beg you to show me the way out. I
would go to my palace."
VI.--THE HARDEST VICTORY.
The Electoral Prince had returned home, but he did not sleep the whole
night through. The chamberlain, whose room adjoined the Prince's sleeping
apartment, had heard him restlessly pacing the floor all night long, at
times talking to himself half aloud, and then even weeping and lamenting.
In his anguish of heart he had wakened Baron Leuchtmar and the private
secretary Mueller, in order to impart to them the melancholy news. Both
gentlemen had immediately risen and dressed themselves, and softly
approached the door of the princely chamber. They, too, had heard the
restless steps, the loud groans and lamentations of the Prince, and his
grief had passed into their own hearts. As they looked at each other, each
observed tears in the eyes of the other, and with quivering lips both
whispered, "Poor young man! he must have some great grief! He suffers a
"You must go to him, Leuchtmar," whispered Mueller. "You must ask what ails
him, and try to comfort him."
The baron mournfully shook his head. "My dear Mueller," he said, "have you
ever been in love?"
"No, never!" replied Mueller, in astonishment. "Why do you ask such a
"Because you would then know, friend, that there is no consolation for
disappointment in love."
"You think, then, that the Prince is disappointed in love?"
"Certainly, I think so. What other grief can a young Prince of hardly
eighteen years have, especially when his heart is engrossed with a glowing
passion. The Prince was last night in the Media Nocte, and something
peculiar must have occurred there, for he came home unusually early, his
custom having been of late not to return home until daybreak, singing and
"Only hear, Leuchtmar, how he sobs and groans! And now! Hush! what does he
Both gentlemen held their breath, and quite distinctly could be heard
within the wailing, tear-choked voice of the Prince:
"It is impossible--it is impossible. I can not. No, I can not. The
sacrifice is too heavy! My heart will break!"
"Hear him well," whispered Mueller, amid his tears; "he can not make the
sacrifice. He will die of grief. My God! go to him, baron. Tell him he
need not make the sacrifice. No one can require of him the impossible. Go
to him, man! Be humane. My God! only hear how he laments and groans!"
"I hear it, but I can not go in. I do not know his sorrow, and if the
Prince needs me he can call me."
"You are a savage," said Mueller desperately. "Well, if you will not
comfort him, then shall I go to him."
He stretched out his hand for the door knob, but Baron Leuchtmar held him
back, and led the good private secretary back to his own room.
"Let us go to bed, friend," he said; "even if we can not sleep, as is
probable, yet we can rest, which is needful for our aged limbs. We can not
yet help the Prince; and, believe me, he would never forgive us if we were
to go to him unsummoned, thereby betraying that we have been privy to his
suffering and his pain. He has a grief, there is no question about that;
but he is retiringly modest, and at the same time has a stout heart that
will admit no one to share with him a burden he has perhaps imposed upon
himself. I am glad of this, Mueller, and I tell you such hours of solitary
grief purify the manly heart; in them the old myth is verified, from the
fire and ashes of spent sorrows springs up the new-fledged phoenix. Should
we prevent our Prince from passing through his purgatory, that he may
emerge from the flames as a phoenix and a victorious hero?"
"You may be right," sighed Mueller, "but I only know that he is suffering
Baron Leuchtmar smiled sadly. "May these sufferings steel his heart," he
said, "that he may be armed against greater and bitterer trials! Come,
Mueller, we will to bed, and to sleep."
But, however composedly and resolutely the baron had opposed himself to
the suggestions of his soft-hearted colleague, sleep that night forsook
his eyes, and ever he heard in imagination the Prince's groans and
laments. At times he could hardly repress his longing to get up, to creep
to the Prince's door and listen, that he might discover whether he were
still awake. But the baron forcibly restrained himself, and finally, as
day already began to dawn, he actually fell asleep. He might possibly have
slept a few hours, but his servant approached his couch and roused him.
"Baron," he said, "some one is here who urgently desires to speak to you."
"Who, Frederick, who is there?" asked Baron Leuchtmar, quickly rising.
"The chamberlain, Baron von Marwitz, has arrived from Berlin."
"Marwitz, the Elector's first chamberlain?" cried the baron. "Quick, my
clothes, quick! Help me to dress myself. Run and tell Baron von Marwitz
that I will be at his service directly. But first tell me whether his
highness is already visible. Has he already ordered his breakfast?"
"No, baron, I believe all is still quiet in his highness's apartments."
"God be thanked! God be thanked! Now present my compliments to Baron von
Marwitz, and then come quickly and help me."
Ten minutes later Baron Kalkhun von Leuchtmar entered the Prince's
reception room, where the chamberlain, Baron von Marwitz, awaited him. The
two had a long conversation together, Leuchtmar listening with thoughtful
mien to Marwitz's narration of the state of affairs at home.
"Marwitz," he said, at the close of their conversation, "we have been good
and tried friends from our childhood; I know that the electoral house and
our fatherland lie as near to your heart as to my own, and that I can
trust you. I therefore tell you, you have come at a fortunate hour, and
God sends you! The heart of the Prince is wrung by a mighty sorrow, and he
probably knows no way out of his griefs. You will show him one, and if he
is actually the aspiring and noble-hearted Prince, whom God has sent for
the blessing of his house and the hope of his country, then will he
appreciate this way and walk in it. Go to him now, Marwitz, and lay before
him candidly and without reserve, as you have done before me, the
deplorable condition of things in our native land."
"You will come with me, Leuchtmar, and present me to the Electoral Prince?"
"No, baron. You must suffer yourself to be announced by the chamberlain,
for the Prince dismissed me yesterday in wrath. Hush, my friend! say not a
word, it is not so bad! The heart of the Prince has reached a crisis in
its history which will soon be past, and then, well then, he will call me
of himself again. But I shall wait for that. I can not intrude upon him
"My friend," sighed Marwitz, "I begin to be afraid. If you do not support
me, I will surely fail in my errand, and, like Schlieben, be forced to
return disappointed to Berlin."
"I think not. Only be of good courage and speak boldly, as your heart and
your love of country dictate."
"Is the Electoral Prince already up?" he asked of the man in waiting, and,
as he received nothing but a shrug of the shoulders in reply, Leuchtmar
beckoned to him to come nearer, and retired with him into a recess of one
of the windows.
"Well, what is it, old Dietrich? You have seen the Electoral Prince
already, have you not?"
"Yes, baron. He has not been to bed at all, but still has on the clothes
he wore when he went away last night. He is just as pale as a sheet, and
his eyes which usually shine so gloriously are to-day quite dim. He called
me, and I thought he was about to order breakfast, but no! Something quite
different he wanted, and it struck me as peculiarly strange. The Electoral
Prince asked me who was on duty this week, I or the second valet,
Eberhard? I told him Eberhard, for his week began yesterday. Then said the
Electoral Prince: 'Well, Dietrich, I want you to exchange with him this
time, for I would like to have you to wait upon me this week, and Eberhard
shall have a holiday the whole week. I only want to see your old face
about me!' Is not that strange, Sir Baron? Until yesterday Eberhard stood
in such high favor, and my gracious master always preferred being dressed
by him. Only yesterday evening Eberhard must accompany him to the feast,
and now, all at once, my gracious master will not see him! Something must
have happened, for last night Eberhard came home much later than the
Electoral Prince, and asked, as if bewildered, whether his highness had
been back long; and when I told him that the Electoral Prince had bidden
me change with him, he turned deadly pale, trembled in every limb, and
said, 'It is all over with me!' Baron, something surely happened last
"Probably Eberhard has been guilty of some negligence," said Leuchtmar
carelessly. "He has often been negligent of late, as it seems to me. He
has some love affair on hand, has he not?"
"Yes, Sir Baron, he has gotten in with that artful chambermaid of the
Princess Ludovicka, out there at Doornward, and they are engaged to one
another. But people do not say much good of Madame Alice: she is a cunning
French girl and--"
"Do not trouble yourself about what people say," interrupted the baron.
"Do your own duty and rejoice that for this week the Electoral Prince
gives you the preference over Eberhard. Go, now, and announce to his
highness the chamberlain, Baron von Marwitz, from Berlin."
A few minutes later the gentleman announced entered the Prince's drawing
room. Frederick William advanced into the middle of the room to meet him,
and greeted him with grave courtesy.
"I was expecting you, baron," he said coldly.
"Your highness was expecting me?" asked the baron, astonished. "Your
highness knew already that I would come?"
"Yes, I knew it, baron. My mother's court painter, Gabriel Nietzel,
arrived yesterday, and through him my gracious mother informed me that the
Elector would send you to me with a very serious and angry message. You
see, I am prepared. Deliver your message now, baron. Let us be seated."
The Prince sat down in the armchair and made the baron sit opposite him.
His large eyes were fixed upon Marwitz, and burned with a strange, sad
light. His noble pale countenance was of touching beauty.
"You hesitate?" asked the Prince quietly, after a pause. "What you have to
say to me is, then, very bad?"
"No, your highness, not therefore did I delay," cried the baron, with
feeling. "Your appearance bewildered me, because it pleased me so much. I
have not seen your highness for three years. You were then hardly fifteen
years old, a noble, promising boy, and now I behold you with rapture and
delight, seeing that all our expectations have been fulfilled, and that
out of the boy has grown a strong, noble, and serious young man. Yes,
Prince, I read it in your countenance, your unhappy fatherland, your
unhappy, much-to-be-pitied Brandenburgers, may look with trust and
confidence to the future, for you will save and rescue them."
"Save them from what? Rescue them from what?" asked the Prince, in cold
and measured phrase. "Why do you call my fatherland unhappy, and why do
you say that the Brandenburgers are to be pitied? Is not my fatherland,
for doubtless you do not mean Germany, but my special fatherland, in which
I have been born and reared, is not the Mark Brandenburg now quite happy
and peaceful, as it has been for some years past, since it is again under
the Emperor's protection and favor, in pleasant neutrality between the two
inimical parties? And as to my good Brandenburgers, I can not imagine how
you can call them so much to be pitied when Count Adam von Schwarzenberg
is still Stadtholder in the Mark--Count Adam von Schwarzenberg, who
certainly must have the good of Brandenburg at heart, since he knows how
much my father loves him and trusts to him. He will always show himself
worthy of confidence, I doubt not, and I have the highest respect for my
father's great and wise minister."
"Ah! your highness mistrusts me," cried Marwitz with an expression of
pain. "Your highness takes me for one of Schwarzenberg's adherents."
"No, I take you for what you are, the messenger and emissary of my father,
the Elector of Brandenburg."
"Your highness would thereby say that this messenger and emissary has
consequently received his orders from Count Schwarzenberg, because the
count is really lord of the Mark and the Elector's right hand. I read in
your countenance that you do so, and that therefore you mistrust me. But I
swear to you, Prince, you may believe in my honest, upright
intentions--you may believe that what I say is in solemn earnest."
"I believe it, certainly I believe it," said the Prince. "You have
undertaken the commissions of the Elector and his Minister Schwarzenberg;
naturally you will be in earnest in executing them."
"Prince, I have undertaken the commissions, the behests of the Elector;
but from himself and not from his minister did I obtain them. I have sworn
to execute them, and do you know why?"
"Why? Simply because you are your master's obedient servant."
"No, Prince, because I am a faithful servant of my country, and because I
have a heart to feel for her affliction and distress. The Elector has
commanded me to travel to The Hague, and to convey his strict injunction
to the Electoral Prince that he shall immediately set out and return home
to Berlin. The Elector bids me say to your highness that he has committed
to me five thousand dollars to defray the expenses of your journey back
and for the liquidation of the most pressing debts. Should this sum not
suffice, then am I empowered, in the name of his Electoral Highness, to
give security for the payment of the other debts, and your highness is so
to arrange your journey that your suite may follow in the least expensive
way possible. I was to urge on you seriously and decidedly the propriety
of departure, and your father bids me state to you that he has his own
peculiarly strong reasons for esteeming a further sojourn in Holland
neither safe, profitable, nor reputable. I was to assure your highness
that you were not to be recalled, in order to be forced into a repulsive
marriage. At the same time, the Elector desires that you return
unembarrassed by engagements, and that you by no means entangle yourself
by marriage without his knowledge and consent, for to such a union would
the Elector not agree, nor ratify it."
"Is that all you have to say to me?" asked the Prince, when Marwitz was
"Prince, it is all I have to say to you in the Elector's name, and I have
herewith executed the commission intrusted to me. But I have something
still to add. I have still to execute the commissions given me by your
future land, by your future subjects. I have to transmit to you the tears
of the wretched, the sighs of the impoverished, the cries of the
despairing, the agonized shriek of all the provinces, all the towns, all
the villages, houses, and huts in the Mark. Prince, from the depth of
their affliction all hearts uplift themselves to you; in the midst of
their despair, the oppressed, the downtrodden, the tormented all venture
to hope in you, and in spirit they kneel before you and with outstretched
hands entreat you, as I do now, 'Pity our distress, future Elector of
Brandenburg, have compassion upon the lands and provinces which shall one
day constitute your state. Turn not a deaf ear to the prayers, the hopes
of your future subjects.'"
Marwitz had sunk upon the floor, and stretched his clasped hands out to
the Prince, who looked thoughtfully into his excited face.
"And what would my future subjects have, what do they desire of me?"
"That you forthwith, without delay, return to the Mark by the speediest
"I?" cried the Electoral Prince, with a mocking smile. "Your wishes and
entreaties, and those of the Brandenburgers, coincide very exactly with my
"Yes, they do coincide, but spring from different motives. Prince, we
implore, we entreat you to return; no longer give us over to the caprice,
the villainy, the tyranny and avarice of Count von Schwarzenberg. He is
the evil demon of your father, of your country. Come home and frighten him
The Prince started, and for a moment a deep glow suffused his pale
countenance. His look penetrated deeper into the baron's uplifted,
beseeching eyes, as if through them he would read into the very depths of
"Stand up, Marwitz," he said, after a long pause--"stand up, for you are
too old and too venerable to kneel before so young a man as myself. Else,
sit down near me, and explain your words more clearly. What good can my
return home do, and how think you that I can benefit the land? And first
and foremost, why do you call Count Schwarzenberg the evil demon of my
father and his country?"
"Permit me, your highness, to answer the last question first, and thus
will you understand the rest. Count Schwarzenberg is answerable for all
the distress, wretchedness, and misery which envelop the Mark, Prussia,
indeed all parts of your devastated and distracted land, for he acts
contrary to the true interests of the Elector and his land, being wholly
devoted to the interests of his own master, the Emperor of Germany. To
this end all is worked and manoeuvred, with this aim all efforts are
undertaken, to ruin Brandenburg, and take from it all power and
consideration, yea, all hope, in order that it may be rendered dependent
upon the Emperor and empire, and become less dangerous. For the benefit of
the Emperor, and to the detriment of the Elector and his land, has Count
Schwarzenberg concluded the treaty of Prague. Up to that time Brandenburg
was the ally of Sweden, now it is neutral--that is to say, it is the prey
of both parties; it is visited, laid under contribution, and plundered by
the Swedish and Imperialist troops, and can apply for redress to no one,
expect aid from no one. With each day the misery increases more and more.
All trade and commerce languish; in the country the fields remain
untilled, in the towns the artisans are unemployed, nobody finds work or
wages. Hunger and want, and in their retinue sickness and death, daily
demand hundreds of victims. The Swede has possession of your rightful
heritage, Pomerania, and the Imperialists press to invade the Pomeranian
towns and lay them under contribution, without thinking of leaving the
vanquished cities wherewithal to pay tribute to their Sovereign, the
Elector of Brandenburg. Imperialist is to become the whole Mark, the whole
of Pomerania and Prussia, Westphalia and the duchy of Cleves. Imperialist
and Catholic--that is Count Schwarzenberg's plan, and with cruel
consistency he puts in motion everything that can conduce to its
accomplishment. To prevent the recovery, the prosperity of Prussia and the
Mark is the aim of all his policy. He exhausts the land, and yet more than
the enemy plunders and taxes the towns, enriching himself through the
blood and tears of the tortured citizens and hungry peasantry, living in
luxury and splendor, while the Elector is suffering want, while his land
is starved and unproductive."
"Abominable! horrible!" groaned the Electoral Prince, covering his face
with both his hands, probably to conceal from Marwitz the tears which
stood in his eyes.
"Prince," cried Marwitz joyfully, "you are moved! The afflictions of your
country touch your noble heart! Oh, may God be with you in this hour, and
strengthen you for noble and great resolves!"
"What do you require of me?" asked the Prince, after a pause, slowly
withdrawing his hands from his livid face. "What can I do?"
"You can come home, Prince, come home to the unhappy land whose future
lord you are by the appointment of God. Your mere presence will be a
comfort to the unhappy, a terror to Schwarzenberg. On you rest the hopes
of all patriots. You are the standard around whom they rally, the banner
to which they look up in hope and patience, for which, if needs be, they
will battle to the last drop of their blood. You furnish us all with a
center and support, perhaps even your father himself, who maybe sometimes
fears his own almighty minister, certainly your mother, who longs for her
son as her stay and support! Prince, one more last word. I say it with
hesitation, I would not even intrust it to the air, and yet it must be
spoken--Prince, the power of Count Schwarzenberg over your father's heart
is great, and--and--Count Schwarzenberg is a believing Catholic! It would
be a new pillar to his might if the Elector--"
"Hush, hush!" interrupted the Electoral Prince, jumping up from his seat.
"Not another word! You are right, the very air itself may not hear such