Frederick was highly amused. "Take care," said he, "that 'those over there' do not hear you liken their empresses to cats."
"And if they are empresses," said Fritz Kober, dryly, "they are still women, and women are cats."
The king looked over toward the camp-fires, which were boldly shining on the horizon.
"How far is it from here to those fires?" said he.
"About an hour," said Charles Henry, "not more."
"One hour," repeated the king, softly. "In one hour, then, I could know my fate! Listen, children, which of you will go for me?"
Both exclaimed in the same moment, "I will!"
"It is a fearful attempt," said the king, earnestly; "the Cossacks are swarming in every direction, and if you escape them, you may be caught in the camp and shot as spies."
"I will take care that they shall not recognize me as an enemy," said Charles Henry, quietly.
"I also," said Fritz Kober, zealously. "You stay, Charles Henry, we dare not both leave the king. You know that only this evening, while upon the watch, we swore that, even if the whole army of the enemy marched against us, we would not desert our king, but would stand at our post as long as there was a drop of blood in our veins or a breath in our bodies."
The king laid his hands upon the two soldiers and looked at them with much emotion. The moon, which stood great and full in the heavens, lighted up this curious group, and threw three long, dark shadows over the plain.
"And you have sworn that, my children?" said the king, after a long pause. "Ah, if all my men thought as you do we would not have been defeated this day."
"Sir king, your soldiers all think as we do, but fate was against us. Just as I said, the cats outnumbered us to-day, but we will bite them bravely for it next time. And now tell me, sir king, what shall I do over there in the camp?"
Before the king could answer, Charles Henry laid his hand upon his arm.
"Let me go," said he, entreatingly; "Fritz Kober is so daring, so undaunted, he is not cautious; they will certainly shoot him, and then you have lost the best soldier in your army."
"Your loss, I suppose, would not be felt; the king can do without you."
"Listen, children," said the king, "it is best that you both go; one can protect the other, and four ears are better than two."
"The king is right, that is best—we will both go."
"And leave the king alone and unguarded?"
"No," said the king, pointing to the two sleepers, "I have my two adjutants, and they will keep guard for me. Now, listen to what I have to say to you. Over there is the enemy, and it is most important for me to know what he is doing, and what he proposes to do. Go, then, and listen. Their generals have certainly taken up their quarters in the village. You must ascertain that positively, and then draw near their quarters. You will return as quickly as possible, and inform me of all that you hear and see."
"Is that all?" said Fritz Kober.
"That is all. Now be off, and if you do your duty well, and return fresh and in good order, you shall be both made officers." Fritz Kober laughed aloud. "No, no, sir king, we know that old story already."
"It is not necessary that you should promise us any thing, your majesty," said Charles Henry; "we do not go for a reward, but for respect and love to our king."
"But tell me, Fritz Kober, why you laughed so heartily?" said the king.
"Because this is not the first time that your majesty has promised to make us officers. Before the battle of Leuthen, you said if we were brave and performed valiant deeds, you would make us officers. Well, we were brave. Charles Henry took seven prisoners, and I took nine; but we are not officers."
"You shall be to-morrow," said the king. "Now, hasten off, and come back as quickly as possible."
"We will leave our muskets here," said Charles Henry; "we dare not visit our enemies in Prussian array."
They placed their arms at the house door, and then clasping each other's hands, and making a military salute, they hastened off. The king looked after them till their slender forms were lost in the distance.
"With fifty thousand such soldiers I could conquer the world," murmured he; "they are of the true metal."
He turned, and stepping up to the two sleepers, touched them lightly on the shoulders. They sprang up alarmed when they recognized the king.
"You need not excuse yourselves," said Frederick kindly, "you have had a day of great fatigue, and are, of course, exhausted. Come into the house, the night air is dangerous; we will sleep here together."
"Where are the two grenadiers?" said Goltz.
"I have sent them off on duty."
"Then your majesty must allow us to remain on guard. I have slept well, and am entirely refreshed."
"I also," said the second lieutenant. "Will your majesty be pleased to sleep? we will keep guard."
"Not so," said the king, "the moon will watch over us all. Come in."
"But it is impossible that your majesty should sleep thus, entirely unguarded. The first Cossack that dashes by could take aim at your majesty through the window."
Frederick shook his head gravely. "The ball which will strike me will come from above, [Footnote: The king's own words.—See Nicolai, p. 118.] and that you cannot intercept. No, it is better to have no watch before the door; we will not draw the attention of troops passing by to this house. I think no one will suppose that this miserable and ruinous barrack, through which the wind howls, is the residence of a king. Come, then, messieurs." He stepped into the hut, followed by the two adjutants, who dared no longer oppose him. "Put out that light," said the king, "the moon will be our torch, and will glorify our bed of straw." He drew his sword, and grasping it firmly in his right hand, he stretched himself upon the straw. "There is room for both of you—lie down. Good-night, sirs."
Frederick slightly raised his three-cornered hat in greeting, and then laid it over his face as a protection from the moonlight and the cold night air. The adjutants laid down silently at his feet, and soon no sound was heard in the room but the loud breathing of the three sleepers.
CHAPTER XIV. THE RIGHT COUNSEL.
Hand in hand the two grenadiers advanced directly toward the battle-field. Before they could approach the enemy's camp they must borrow two Austrian uniforms from the dead upon the plain. It was not difficult, amongst so many dead bodies, to find two Austrian officers, and the two Prussian grenadiers went quickly to work to rob the dead and appropriate their garments.
"I don't know how it is," said Charles Henry, shuddering, "a cold chill thrills through me when I think of putting on a coat which I have just taken from a dead body. It seems to me the marble chillness of the corpse will insinuate itself into my whole body, and that I shall never be warm again."
Fritz Kober looked up with wide-open eyes! "You have such curious thoughts, Charles Henry, such as come to no other man; but you are right, it is a frosty thing." And now he had removed the uniform and was about to draw off his own jacket and assume the white coat of the Austrian. "It is a great happiness," said he, "that we need not change our trousers, a little clearer or darker gray can make no difference in the night."
Charles Henry was in the act of drawing on the coat of the dead man, when Fritz Kober suddenly seized his arm and held him back. "Stop," said he, "you must do me a favor—this coat is too narrow, and it pinches me fearfully; you are thinner than I am, and I think it will fit you exactly; take it and give me yours." He jerked off the coat and handed it to his friend.
"No, no, Fritz Kober," said Charles Henry, in a voice so soft and sweet, that Fritz was confused and bewildered by it. "No, Fritz, I understand you fully. You have the heart of an angel; you only pretend that this coat is too narrow for you that you may induce me to take the one you have already warmed."
It was well that Fritz had his back turned to the moon, otherwise his friend would have seen that his face was crimson; he blushed as if detected in some wicked act. However, he tore the uniform away from Charles Henry rather roughly, and hastened to put it on.
"Folly," said he, "the coat squeezes me, that is all! Besides, it is not wise to fool away our time in silly talking. Let us go onward."
"Directly over the battle-field?" said Charles Henry, shuddering.
"Directly over the battle-field," said Kober, "because that is the nearest way."
"Come, then," said Charles, giving him his hand.
It was indeed a fearful path through which they must walk. They passed by troops of corpses—by thousands of groaning, rattling, dying men—by many severely wounded, who cried out to them piteously for mercy and help! Often Charles Henry hesitated and stood still to offer consolation to the unhappy wretches, but Fritz Kober drew him on. "We cannot help them, and we have far to go!" Often the swarming Cossacks, dashing around on their agile little ponies, called to them from afar off in their barbarous speech, but when they drew near and saw the Austrian uniforms, they passed them quietly, and were not surprised they had not given the pass-word.
At last they passed the battle-field, and came on the open plain, at the end of which they perceived the camp-fires of the Russians and Austrians. The nearer they approached, the more lively was the scene. Shouts, laughter, loud calls, and outcries—from time to time a word of command. And in the midst of this mad confusion, here and there soldiers were running, market-women offering them wares cheap, and exulting soldiers assembling around the camp-fires. From time to time the regular step of the patrouille was heard, who surrounded the camp, and kept a watchful eye in every direction.
Arm in arm they passed steadily around the camp. "One thing I know," whispered Fritz Kober, "they have no thought of marching. They will pass a quiet, peaceful night by their camp-fires."
"I agree with you," said Charles Henry, "but let us go forward and listen a little; perhaps we can learn where the generals are quartered."
"Look, look! it must be there," said Fritz Kober, hastily.
"There are no camp-fires; but there is a brilliant light in the peasants' huts, and it appears to me that I see a guard before the doors. These, certainly, are the headquarters."
"Let us go there, then," said Charles Henry; "but we must approach the houses from behind, and thus avoid the guard."
They moved cautiously around, and drew near the houses. Profound quiet reigned in this neighborhood; it was the reverence of subordination—the effect which the presence of superior officers ever exercises upon their men. Here stood groups of officers, lightly whispering together—there soldiers were leading their masters' horses; not far off orderlies were waiting on horseback—sentinels with shouldered arms were going slowly by. The attention of all seemed to be fixed upon the two small houses, and every glance and every ear was turned eagerly toward the brilliantly lighted windows.
"We have hit the mark exactly," whispered Fritz Kober; he had succeeded with his friend in forcing his way into the little alley which separated the two houses. "We have now reached the head-quarters of the generals. Look! there is an Austrian sentinel with his bear's cap. Both the Austrian and Russian generals are here."
"Let us watch the Russians a little through the window," said Charles Henry, slipping forward.
They reached the corner, and were hidden by the trunk of a tree which overshadowed the huts. Suddenly they heard the word of command, and there was a general movement among the files of soldiers assembled about the square. The officers placed themselves in rank, the soldiers presented arms; for, at this moment, the Austrian General Loudon, surrounded by his staff, stepped from one of the small houses into the square. The Cossacks, who were crouched down on the earth before the door, raised themselves, and also presented arms.
While Loudon stood waiting, the two Prussian grenadiers slipped slyly to the other hut.
"Let us go behind," whispered Charles Henry. "There are no sentinels there, and perhaps we may find a door, and get into the house."
Behind the hut was a little garden whose thick shrubs and bushes gave complete concealment to the two grenadiers. Noiselessly they sprang over the little fence, and made a reconnoissance of the terrain—unseen, unnoticed, they drew near the house. As they stepped from behind the bushes, Fritz Kober seized his friend's arm, and with difficulty suppressed a cry of joy.
The scene which was presented to them was well calculated to rejoice the hearts of brave soldiers. They had reached the goal, and might now hope to fulfil the wishes of their king. The quarters of the Russian general were plainly exposed to them. In this great room, which was evidently the ball-room of the village, at a long oak-table, in the middle of the room, sat General Soltikow, and around him sat and stood the generals and officers. At the door, half a dozen Cossacks were crouching, staring sleepily on the ground. The room was brilliantly illuminated with wax-lights, and gave the two grenadiers an opportunity of seeing it in every part. Fate appeared to favor them in every way, and gave them an opportunity to hear as well as see. The window on the garden was opened to give entrance to the cool night air, and near it there was a thick branch of a tree in which a man could conceal himself.
"Look there," said Charles Henry, "I will hide in that tree. We will make our observations from different stand-points. Perhaps one of us may see what escapes the other. Let us attend closely, that we may tell all to our king."
No man in this room guessed that in the silent little garden four flashing eyes were observing all that passed.
At the table sat the Russian commander-in-chief, surrounded by his generals and officers. Before him lay letters, maps, and plans, at which he gazed from time to time, while he dictated an account of the battle to the officer sitting near him, Soltikow was preparing a dispatch for the Empress Elizabeth. A few steps farther off, in stiff military bearing, stood the officers who were giving in their reports, and whose statements brought a dark cloud to the brow of the victorious commander. Turning with a hasty movement of the head to the small man with the gold-embroidered uniform and the stiffly-frizzed wig, he said—
"Did you hear that, sir marquis? Ten thousand of my brave soldiers lie dead upon the battle-field, and as many more are severely wounded."
"It follows then," said the Marquis Montalembert, the French commissioner between the courts of Vienna, Petersburg, and Paris, "it follows then, that the king of Prussia has forty thousand dead and wounded, and, consequently, his little army is utterly destroyed."
"Who knows?" said Soltikow; "the king of Prussia is accustomed to sell his defeats dearly. I should not be at all surprised if he had lost fewer soldiers than we have." [Footnote: Soltikow's own words—See Archenholtz, p 206.] "Well, I think he has now nothing more to lose," said the marquis, laughing; "it rests with you to give the last coup de grace to this conquered and flying king, and forever prevent—"
The entrance of an officer interrupted him. The officer announced General von Loudon.
Soltikow arose, and advanced to the door to welcome the Austrian general. A proud smile was on his face as he gave his hand to Loudon; he did this with the air of a gracious superior who wished to be benevolent to his subordinate.
The quick, firm glance of Loudon seemed to read the haughty heart of his ally, and, no doubt for this reason, he scarcely touched Soltikow's hand. With erect head and proud step he advanced into the middle of the room.
"I resolved to come to your excellency," said Loudon, in a sharp, excited tone; "you have a large room, while in my hut I could scarcely find accommodation for you and your adjutants."
"You come exactly at the right hour," said Soltikow, with a haughty smile; "you see, we were about to hold a council of war, and consider what remains to be done."
A dark and scornful expression was seen in Loudon's countenance, and his eyes rested fiercely upon the smiling face of Soltikow.
"Impossible, general! you could not have held a council of war without me," said he, angrily.
"Oh, be composed, general," said Soltikow, smiling, "I would, without doubt, have informed you immediately of our conclusions."
"I suppose you could not possibly have come to any conclusion in my absence," said Loudon, the veins in whose forehead began to swell.
Soltikow bowed low, with the same unchanged and insolent smile.
"Let us not dispute about things which have not yet taken place, your excellency. The council of war had not commenced, but now that you are here, we may begin. Allow me, however, first to sign these dispatches which I have written to my gracious sovereign, announcing the victory which the Russian troops have this day achieved over the army of the King of Prussia."
"Ah, general, this time I am in advance of you," cried Loudon; "the dispatches are already sent off in which I announced to my empress the victory which the Austrian troops gained over the Prussians."
Soltikow threw his head back scornfully, and his little gray eyes flashed at the Austrian.
Loudon went on, calmly: "I assure your excellency that enthusiasm at our glorious victory has made me eloquent. I pictured to my empress the picturesque moment in which the conquering Prussians were rushing forward to take possession of the batteries deserted by the flying Russians, at which time the Austrian horsemen sprang, as it were, from the ground, checked the conquerors, and forced them back; and by deeds of lionlike courage changed the fate of the day."
While Loudon, seeming entirely cool and careless, thus spoke, the face of the Russian general was lurid with rage. Panting for breath, he pressed his doubled fist upon the table.
Every one looked at him in breathless excitement and horror—all knew his passionate and unrestrained rage. But the Marquis Montalembert hastened to prevent this outburst of passion, and before Soltikow found breath to speak, he turned with a gay and conciliating expression to Loudon.
"If you have painted the battle of to-day so much in detail," said he, "you have certainly not forgotten to depict the gallant conduct of the Russian troops to describe that truly exalted movement, when the Russians threw themselves to the earth, as if dead, before advancing columns of the Prussian army, and allowed them to pass over them; then, springing up, shot them in the back." [Footnote: Archenholtz, Seven Years' War, p. 257.]
"Certainly I did not forget that," said Loudon, whose noble, generous heart already repented his momentary passion and jealousy; "certainly, I am not so cowardly and so unconscionable as to deny the weighty share which the Russian army merit in the honor of this day; but you can well understand that I will not allow the gallant deeds of the Austrians to be swept away. We have fought together and conquered together, and now let us rejoice together over the glorious result."
Loudon gave his hand to Soltikow with so friendly an expression that he could not withstand it. "You are right, Loudon; we will rejoice together over this great victory," cried he. "Wine, here! We will first drink a glass in honor of the triumph of the day; then we will empty a glass of your beautiful Rhine wine to the friendship of the Austrians and Russians. Wine here! The night is long enough for council; let us first celebrate our victory."
The Cossacks, at a sign from the adjutants, sprang from the floor and drew from a corner of the room a number of bottles and silver cups, which they hastened to place upon the table. The secretaries moved the papers, maps, etc.; and the table, which a moment before had quite a business-like aspect, was now changed into an enticing buffet.
Soltikow looked on enraptured, but the marquis cast an anxious and significant look upon the Austrian general, which was answered with a slight shrug of the shoulders. Both knew that the brave General Soltikow, next to the thunder of cannon and the mad whirl of battle, loved nothing so well as the springing of corks and the odor of wine. Both knew that the general was as valiant and unconquerable a soldier as he was a valiant and unconquerable drinker—who was most apt while drinking to forget every thing else but the gladness of the moment. The marquis tried to make another weak attempt to remind him of more earnest duties.
"Look you, your excellency, your secretaries appear very melancholy. Will you not first hold a council of war? and we can then give ourselves undisturbed to joy and enjoyment."
"Why is a council of war necessary?" said Soltikow, sinking down into a chair and handing his cup to the Cossack behind him to be filled for the second time. "Away with business and scribbling! The dispatches to my empress are completed; seal them, Pietrowitch, and send the courier off immediately; every thing else can wait till morning. Come, generals, let us strike our glasses to the healths of our exalted sovereigns."
Loudon took the cup and drank a brave pledge, then when he had emptied the glass he said: "We should not be satisfied with sending our exalted sovereigns the news of the day's victory—it lies in our hands to inform them of the complete and irrevocable defeat of the enemy."
"How so?" said Soltikow, filling up his cup for the third time.
"If now, in place of enjoying this comfortable rest, and giving our enemy time to recover himself, we should follow up the Prussians and cut off the king's retreat, preventing him from taking possession of his old camp at Reutven, we would then be in a condition to crush him completely and put an end to this war."
"Ah, you mean that we should break up the camp at once," said Soltikow; "that we should not grant to our poor, exhausted soldiers a single hour of sleep, but lead them out again to battle and to death? No, no, sir general; the blood of my brave Russians is worth as much as the blood of other men, and I will not make of them a wall behind which the noble Dutchmen place themselves in comfortable security, while we offer up for them our blood and our life. I think we Russians have done enough; we do not need another victory to prove that we are brave. When I fight another such battle as I have fought to-day, with my staff in my hand and alone I must carry the news to Petersburg, for I shall have no soldiers left.[Footnote: "Frederick the Great."—Geschow, p. 200.] I have nothing to say against you, General Loudon. You have been a faithful ally; we have fought, bled, and conquered together, although not protected by a consecrated hat and sword like Field-Marshal Daun, who ever demands new victories from us while he himself is undecided and completely inactive."
"Your excellency seems to be somewhat embittered against Daun," said Loudon, with a smile he could not wholly suppress.
"Yes," said Soltikow, "I am embittered against this modern Fabius Cunctator, who finds it so easy to become renowned—who remains in Vienna and reaps the harvest which belongs rightly to you, General Loudon. You act, while he hesitates—you are full of energy and ever ready for the strife; Daun is dilatory, and while he is resolving whether to strike or not, the opportunity is lost."
"The empress, my exalted sovereign, has honored him with her especial confidence," said Loudon; "he must therefore merit it."
"Yes; and in Vienna they have honored you and myself with their especial distrust," said Soltikow, stormily, and swallowing a full cup of wine. "You, I know, receive rare and scanty praise; eulogies must be reserved for Daun. We are regarded with inimical and jealous eyes, and our zeal and our good-will are forever suspected."
"This is true," said Loudon, smiling; "it is difficult for us to believe in the sincere friendship of the Russians, perhaps, because we so earnestly desire it."
"Words, words!" said Soltikow, angrily. "The German has ever a secret aversion to the Russian—you look upon us as disguised tigers, ever ready to rob and devour your glorious culture and accomplishments. For this reason you gladly place a glass shade over yourselves when we are in your neighborhood, and show us your glory through a transparent wall that we may admire and envy. When you are living in peace and harmony, you avoid us sedulously; then the German finds himself entirely too educated, too refined, for the barbaric Russian. But when you quarrel and strive with each other, and cannot lay the storm, then you suddenly remember that the Russian is your neighbor and friend, that he wields a good sword, and knows how to hew with it right and left. You call lustily on him for help, and offer him your friendship—that means, just so long as hostilities endure and you have use for us. Even when you call us your friends you distrust us and suspect our good-will. Constant charges are brought against us in Vienna. Spresain languishes in chains—Austria charges him with treachery and want of zeal in the good cause; Fermor and Butterlin are also accused of great crimes—they have sought to make both their sincerity and ability suspected by the empress, and to bring them into reproach. This they have not deserved. I know, also, that they have charged me with disinclination to assist the allies—they declare that I have no ardor for the common cause. This makes bad blood, messieurs; and if it were not for the excellent wine in your beautiful Germany, I doubt if our friendship would stand upon a sure footing. Therefore, sir general, take your cup and let us drink together—drink this glorious wine to the health of our friendship. Make your glasses ring, messieurs, and that the general may see that we mean honorably with our toast, empty them at a draught."
They all accepted the challenge and emptied a cup of the old, fiery Rhine wine, which Soltikow so dearly loved; their eyes flashed, their cheeks were glowing.
Loudon saw this with horror, and he cast an anxious glance at Montalembert, who returned it with a significant shrug of the shoulder.
"And now, your excellency," said Loudon, "that we have enjoyed the German wine, let us think a little of Germany and the enemy who can no longer disturb her peace, if we act promptly. Our troops have had some hours' rest, and will now be in a condition to advance."
"Always the same old song," said Soltikow, laughing; "but I shall not be waked up from my comfortable quarters; I have done enough! my troops also."
"I have just received a courier from Daun," said Loudon, softly; "he makes it my duty to entreat your excellency to follow up our victory and crush the enemy completely."
"That will be easy work," said Montalembert, in a flattering tone. "The army of the King of Prussia is scattered and flying in every direction; they must be prevented from reassembling; the scattering troops must be harassed and more widely separated, and every possibility of retreat cut off for Frederick."
"Well, well, if that must be," said Soltikow, apathetically, placing the cup just filled with wine to his lips, "let Field-Marshal Daun undertake the duty. I have won two battles; I will wait and rest; I make no other movements till I hear of two victories won by Daun. It is not reasonable or just for the troops of my empress to act alone." [Footnote: Soltikow's own words.—See Archenholtz, p. 266.]
"But," said the Marquis Montalembert, giving himself the appearance of wishing not to be heard by Loudon, "if your excellency now remains inactive and does not press forward vigorously, the Austrians alone will reap the fruits of your victory."
"I am not at all disposed to be jealous," said Soltikow, laughing; "from my heart I wish the Austrians more success than I have had. For my part, I have done enough. [Footnote: Historical.] Fill your glasses, messieurs, fill your glasses! We have won a few hours of happiness from the goddess Bellona; let us enjoy them and forget all our cares. Let us drink once more, gentlemen. Long live our charming mistress, the Empress Elizabeth!" The Russian officers clanged their glasses and chimed in zealously, and the fragrant Rhine wine bubbled like foaming gold in the silver cups. Soltikow swallowed it with ever-increasing delight, and he became more and more animated.
The officers sat round the table with glowing cheeks and listened to their worshipped general who, in innocent gayety, related some scenes from his youth, and made his hearers laugh so loud, so rapturously, that the walls trembled, and Fritz Kober, who was crouching down in the bushes, could with difficulty prevent himself from joining in heartily.
The gayety of the Russians became more impetuous and unbridled. They dreamed of their home; here and there they began to sing Russian love-songs. The Cossacks, on the floor, grinned with delight and hummed lightly the refrain.
The wine began to exercise its freedom and equality principles upon the heart, and all difference of rank was forgotten. Every countenance beamed with delight; every man laughed and jested, sang and drank. No one thought of the King of Prussia and his scattered army; they remembered the victory they had achieved, but the fragrant wine banished the remembrance of the conquered. [Footnote: See Prussia; Frederick the Great.—Gebhard, p. 73.]
Montalembert and Loudon took no part in the general mirth. They had left the table, and from an open window watched the wild and frenzied group.
"It is in vain," whispered Loudon, "we cannot influence him. The German wine lies nearer his heart than his German allies."
"But you, general, you should do what Soltikow omits or neglects. You should draw your own advantage from this tardiness of the Russian general, and pursue and crush the King of Prussia."
"I would not be here now," said Loudon, painfully, "if I could do that. My hands are bound. I dare not undertake any thing to which the allies do not agree; we can only act in concert."
A loud roar of laughter from the table silenced the two gentlemen. Soltikow had just related a merry anecdote, which made the Cossacks laugh aloud. One of the Russian generals rewarded them by throwing them two tallow-candles. This dainty little delicacy was received by them with joyful shouts.
"Let us withdraw," whispered Montalembert, "the scene becomes too Russian."
"Yes, let us go," sighed Loudon; "if we must remain here inactive, we can at least employ the time in sleep."
No one remarked the withdrawal of the two gentlemen. The gay laughter, the drinking and singing went on undisturbed, and soon became a scene of wild and drunken confusion.
"We can now also withdraw," whispered Charles Henry to Fritz Kober. "Come, come! you know we are expected."
With every possible caution, they hastened away, and only after they had left the camp of the Russians and Austrians far behind them, and passed again over the battle-field did Fritz Kober break silence. "Well," said he, sighing, "what have we to say to the king?"
"All that we have heard," said Charles Henry.
"Yes, but we have heard nothing," murmured Fritz. "I opened my ears as wide as possible, but it was all in vain. Is it not base and vile to come to Germany and speak this gibberish, not a word of which can be understood? In Germany men should be obliged to speak German, and not Russian."
"They did not speak Russian, but French," said Charles Henry; "I understood it all."
Fritz Kober stopped suddenly, and stared at his friend. "You say you understood French?"
"Yes, I was at home on the French borders. My mother was from Alsace, and there I learned French."
"You understand every thing," murmured Fritz, "but for myself, I am a poor stupid blockhead, and the king will laugh at me, for I have nothing to tell. I shall not get my commission."
"Then neither will I, Fritz; and, besides, as to what we have seen, you have as much to tell as I. You heard with your eyes and I with my ears, and the great point arrived at you know as much about as I do. The Russians and Austrians are sleeping quietly, not thinking of pursuing us. That's the principal point."
"Yes, that's true; that I can also assure the king—that will please him best. Look! Charles Henry, the day is breaking! Let us hasten on to the king. When he knows that the Austrians and Russians sleep, he will think it high time for the Prussians to be awake."
CHAPTER XV. A HERO IN MISFORTUNE.
The two grenadiers returned unharmed to the village where the king had at present established his headquarters. The first rays of the morning sun were falling upon the wretched hut which was occupied by his majesty. The peaceful morning quiet was unbroken by the faintest sound, and, as if Nature had a certain reverence for the hero's slumber, even the birds were hushed, and the morning breeze blew softly against the little window, as if it would murmur a sleeping song to the king. There were no sentinels before the door; the bright morning sun alone was guarding the holy place where the unfortunate hero reposed.
Lightly, and with bated breath, the two grenadiers crept into the open hut. The utter silence disturbed them. It seemed incredible that they should find the king in this miserable place, alone and unguarded. They thought of the hordes of Cossacks which infested that region, and that a dozen of them would suffice to surround this little hut, and make prisoners of the king and his adjutants.
"I have not the courage to open the door," whispered Fritz Kober. "I fear that the king is no longer here. The Cossacks have captured him."
"God has not permitted that," said Charles Henry, solemnly; "I believe that He has guarded the king in our absence. Come, we will go to his majesty."
They opened the door and entered, and then both stood motionless, awed and arrested by what they beheld.
There, on the straw that was scantily scattered on the dirty floor, lay the king, his hat drawn partially over his face, his unsheathed sword in his hand, sleeping as quietly as if he were at his bright and beautiful Sans-Souci. "Look!" whispered Charles Henry; "thus sleeps a king, over whom God watches! But now we must awaken him."
He advanced to the king, and kneeling beside him, whispered: "Your majesty, we have returned; we bring intelligence of the Russians and Austrians."
The king arose slowly, and pushed his hat back from his brow.
"Good or bad news?" he asked.
"Good news!" said Fritz. "The Austrians and Russians have both gone to bed; they were sleepy."
"And they have no idea of pursuing your majesty," continued Charles Henry. "Loudon wished it, but Soltikow refused; he will do nothing until Daun acts."
"So you sat with them in the council of war?" asked the king, smiling.
"Yes, we were present," said Fritz Kober, with evident delight; "I saw the council, and Charles Henry heard them."
The king stood up. "You speak too loud!" he said; "you will waken these two gentlemen, who are sleeping so well. We will go outside, and you can continue your report."
He crossed the room noiselessly, and left the hut. Then seating himself before the door, on a small bench, he told the two grenadiers to give him an exact account of what they had seen and heard.
Long after they had finished speaking, the king sat silent, and apparently lost in thought. His eyes raised to heaven, he seemed to be in holy communion with the Almighty. As his eyes slowly sank, his glance fell upon the two grenadiers who stood before him, silently respectful.
"I am pleased with you, children, and this time the promise shall be kept. You shall become subordinate officers."
"In the same company?" asked Fritz Kober.
"In the same company. That is," continued the king, "if I am ever able to form companies and regiments again."
"We are not so badly off as your majesty thinks," said Fritz Kober. "Our troops have already recovered from their first terror, and as we returned we saw numbers of them entering the village. In a few hours the army can be reorganized."
"God grant that you may be right, my son!" said the king, kindly. "Go, now, into the village, and repeat the news you brought me to the soldiers. It will encourage them to hear that the enemy sleep, and do not think of pursuing us. I will prepare your commissions for you to-day. Farewell, my children!"
He bent his head slightly, and then turned to re-enter the hut and awaken his two adjutants. With a calm voice he commanded them to go into the village, and order the generals and higher officers to assemble the remnants of their regiments before the hut.
"A general march must be sounded," said the king. "The morning air will bear the sound into the distance, and when my soldiers hear it, perhaps they will return to their colors."
When the adjutants left him, the king commenced pacing slowly up and down, his hands crossed behind him.
"All is lost, all!" he murmured; "but I must wait and watch. If the stupidity or rashness of the enemy should break a mesh in the net within which I am enclosed, it is my duty to slip through with my army. Ah! how heavily this crown presses upon my head; it leaves me no moment of repose. How hard is life, and how terribly are the bright illusions of our earlier years destroyed!"
At the sound of the drum, the king shivered, and murmured to himself: "I feel now, what I never thought to feel. I am afraid my heart trembles at the thought of this encounter, as it never did in battle. The drums and trumpets call my soldiers, but they will not come. They are stretched upon the field of battle, or fleeing before the enemy. They will not come, and the sun will witness my shame and wretchedness."
The king, completely overcome, sank upon the bench, and buried his face in his hands. He sat thus for a long time. The sounds before the door became louder and louder, but the king heard them not; he still held his hands before his face. He could not see the bright array of uniforms that had assembled before the window, nor that the soldiers were swarming in from all sides. He did not hear the beating of drums, the orders to the soldiers, or military signals. Neither did he hear the door, which was gently opened by his adjutants, who had returned to inform him that his orders had been obeyed, and that the generals and staff officers were awaiting him outside the hut.
"Sire," whispered at length one of the adjutants, "your commands have been fulfilled. The generals await your majesty's pleasure."
The king allowed his hands to glide slowly from his face. "And the troops?" he asked.
"They are beginning to form."
"They are also just placing the cannon," said the second adjutant.
The king turned angrily to him. "Sir," he cried, "you lie! I have no cannon."
"Your majesty has, God be praised, more than fifty cannon," said the adjutant, firmly.
A ray of light overspread the countenance of the king, and a slight flush arose to his pale cheek. Standing up, he bowed kindly to the adjutants, and passed out among the generals, who saluted him respectfully, and pressed back to make way for their king. The king walked silently through their ranks, and then turning his head, he said:
"Gentlemen, let us see what yesterday has left us. Assemble your troops."
The generals and staff officers hurried silently away, to place themselves at the head of their regiments, and lead them before the king.
The king stood upright, his unsheathed sword in his right hand, as in the most ceremonious parade. The marching of the troops began, but it was a sad spectacle for their king. How little was left of the great and glorious army which he had led yesterday to battle! More than twenty thousand men were either killed or wounded. Thousands were flying and scattered. A few regiments had been formed with great trouble; barely five thousand men were now assembled. The king looked on with a firm eye, but his lips were tightly compressed, and his breath came heavily. Suddenly he turned to Count Dolmer, the adjutant of the Grand Duke Ferdinand of Brunswick, who had arrived a few days before with the intelligence of a victory gained at Minden. The king had invited him to remain, "I am about to overpower the Russians, remain until I can give you a like message." The king was reminded of this as he saw the count near him.
"Ah," he said, with a troubled smile, "you are waiting for the message I promised. I am distressed that I cannot make you the bearer of better news. If, however, you arrive safely at the end of your journey, and do not find Daun already in Berlin, and Contades in Magdeburg, you can assure the Grand Duke Ferdinand from me that all is not lost. Farewell, sir."
Then, bowing slightly, he advanced with a firm step to the generals. His eyes glowed and flashed once more, and his whole being reassumed its usual bold and energetic expression.
"Gentlemen," he said, in a clear voice, "fortune did not favor us yesterday, but there is no reason to despair. A day will come when we shall repay the enemy with bloody interest. I at least expect such a day; I will live for its coming, and all my thoughts and plans shall be directed toward that object. I strive for no other glory than to deliver Prussia from the conspiracy into which the whole of Europe has entered against her. I will obtain peace for my native land, but it shall be a great and honorable peace. I will accept no other: I would rather be buried under the ruins of my cannon, than accept a peace that would bring no advantages to Prussia, no fame to us Honor is the highest, the holiest possession of individuals, as it is of nations; and Prussia, who has placed her honor in our hands, must receive it from us pure and spotless. If you agree with me, gentlemen, join me in this cry, 'Long live Prussia! Long live Prussia's honor!'"
The generals and officers joined enthusiastically in this cry, and like a mighty torrent it spread from mouth to mouth, until it reached the regiments, where it was repeated again and again. The color-bearers unfurled their tattered banners, and the shout arose from thousands of throats, "Long live Prussia's honor!"
The king's countenance was bright, but a tear seemed to glitter in his eye. He raised his glance to heaven and murmured:
"I swear to live so long as there is hope, so long as I am free! I swear only to think of death when my liberty is threatened!" Slowly his glance returned to earth, and then in a powerful voice, he cried: "Onward! onward! that has ever been Prussia's watch-word, and it shall remain so—Onward! We have a great object be fore us—we must use every effort to keep the Russians out of Berlin. The palladium of our happiness must not fall into the hands of our enemies. The Oder and the Spree must be ours—we must recover to-morrow what the enemy wrenched from us yesterday!"
"Onward! onward!" cried the army, and the words of the king bore courage and enthusiasm to all hearts.
Hope was awakened, and all were ready to follow the king; for however dark and threatening the horizon appeared, all had faith in the star of the king, and believed that it could never be extinguished.
CHAPTER I. THE TERESIANI AND THE PRUSSIANI.
At the splendid hotel of the "White Lion," situated on the Canale Grande, a gondola had just arrived. The porter sounded the great house-bell, and the host hastened immediately to greet the stranger, who, having left the gondola, was briskly mounting the small white marble steps that led to the beautiful and sumptuous vestibule of the hotel.
The stranger returned the host's profound and respectful salutation with a stiff military bow, and asked in forced and rather foreign Italian if he could obtain rooms.
Signer Montardo gazed at him with a doubtful and uncertain expression, and instead of answering his question, said:
"Signor, it appears to me that you are a foreigner?"
"Yes," said the stranger, smiling, "my Italian has betrayed me. I am a foreigner, but hope that will not prevent your showing me comfortable and agreeable rooms."
"Certainly not, signor; our most elegant and sumptuous apartment is at your command," said the host, with a flattering smile. In the mean time, however, he did not move from the spot, but gazed with confused and anxious countenance first at the stranger, and then at his large trunk, which the men were just lifting from the gondola.
"Will you please show me the rooms?" cried the stranger, impatiently advancing into the hall.
The host sighed deeply, and threw a questioning glance at the head waiter, who returned it with a shrug of his shoulders.
"I will first show you into the dining-saloon," murmured the host, hastening after the stranger. "Will you please step in here, excellency?" and with humble submission he opened the large folding doors before which they stood, and conducted the stranger into the magnificent saloon which served as dining-saloon and ball-room.
"Now, excellency," continued the host, after he closed the door, and had convinced himself by a rapid glance that they were alone, "forgive my curiosity in asking you two questions before I have the honor of showing you your rooms. How long do you intend to remain here?"
"A few days, sir. Well, your second question?"
The host hesitated a moment; then looking down, he said:
"Your excellency is a German?"
"Yes, a German," said the stranger, impatiently.
"I thought so," sighed the host.
"Will you show me my rooms or not? Decide quickly, for I know there are other handsome hotels on the Canale Grande where I would be willingly received."
The host bowed with an aggrieved expression. "Signor, I will show you rooms. Will you have the kindness to follow me?"
Like one who had come to a desperate decision, he advanced and pushed open a door which led to a long passage, with rooms on each side; he passed them all hastily, and entered a small, dark, side-passage, which was little in keeping with the general elegance of the building; the walls were not covered with tapestry, as those of the large halls, but with dirty whitewash; the floor had no carpet, and the doors of the rooms were low and small.
The host opened one of them and led the stranger into a small, simply-furnished room, with a little dark closet containing a bed. "Signor," he said, with a profound bow, "these are, unfortunately, the only two rooms I can offer you."
"They are small and mean," said the stranger, angrily.
"They are quiet and remote, and you will have the advantage of not being disturbed by the ball which the club of the Prussiani are to hold in my grand saloon to-night."
As he finished, he looked at the stranger hastily and searchingly, to see what impression his words had upon him. He was decidedly astonished and confused.
"The Prussian Club?" he said. "Are there so many Prussians here, and are they to celebrate a gay feast when it appears to me they have every reason to mourn for their king's misfortune?"
It was now the stranger who gazed searchingly at the host, and awaited his answer with impatience.
"You ask if there are many Prussians here?" said the host, pathetically. "Yes, there are a great many in la bella Venezia, eccellenza, chi non e buon Prussiano, non e buon Veneziano. You say further, that the Prussians have no reason to celebrate a festival, but should mourn for their king's misfortunes. No, your excellency, the Prussians will never have reason to despair, for a hero like the great Frederick can never succumb. His sun is clouded for a moment, but it will burst forth again brilliant and triumphant, and blind all his enemies. The Prussians celebrate this feast to defy the Teresiani. They have their club at the hotel of the 'Golden Fleece,' and held a grand ball there yesterday in honor of their victory at Mayen. 'Tis true the king has lost two battles, the battles of Kunersdorf and Mayen, but the Prussians do not despair; for if the king has lost two battles, he will win four to make up for them, and the Austrians, French, and Russians will flee before him, as they did at Zorndorf and Rossbach. The Prussians wish to celebrate this feast to convince the Teresiani that they are not disturbed by the king's apparent misfortune, and are now celebrating the victories that their great king is still to achieve."
The stranger's face beamed with delight. "The Prussians have great confidence in their king," he said, with forced composure; "but you have not yet told me why so many Prussians are stopping here?"
The host laughed. "Signor does not occupy himself with politics?"
"No," answered the stranger, with hesitation.
"Well, otherwise you would have known that there are many Prussians in the world, and that all the world takes an interest in this war in which a single hero battles against so many powerful enemies. Yes, yes, there are Prussians in all Europe, and the great Frederick is joyfully welcomed everywhere; but nowhere more joyfully than in our beautiful Italy; and nowhere in Italy is he more welcomed than in our beautiful Venice. The nobles and the gondoliers decide for or against, and Venice is divided into two great parties: the first for the King of Prussia, the latter for the Austrian empress, Maria Theresa. But I assure you the Teresiani are mean and despicable, bought enthusiasts, and cowardly fools."
"Consequently, you do not belong to them, signor," said the stranger, smiling; "you are a good Prussiano."
"I should think so," cried the host, proudly; "I am a good patriot, and our watchword is, 'Chi non e buon Prussiano, non e buon Veneziano.'"
"If that is so," cried the stranger, gayly, as he kindly offered the host his hand, "I congratulate myself for having stopped here, and these small, mean rooms will not prevent my remaining. I also am a Prussian, and say, like yourself, what care we for the battles of Kunersdorf and Mayen? Frederick the Great will still triumph over his enemies."
"Ah, signor, you are a Prussian" cried the host, with a true Italian burst of joy. "You are heartily welcome at my hotel, and be convinced, sir, that I shall do every thing to deserve your approval. Come, sir, these rooms are too small, too mean, for a follower of Frederick; I shall have the honor of showing you two beautiful rooms on the first floor, with a view of the Canale Grande, and you shall pay no more for them. Follow me, sir, and pardon me that you were not at once worthily served. I did not know you were a Prussiano, and it would have been most dangerous and impolitic to have received a stranger who might have been a Teresiano; it might have deprived me of all the Prussian custom. Have the goodness to follow me."
He stepped forward briskly, and conducted the stranger across the passage through the grand saloon into the hall. The head waiter was standing there engaged in an excited conversation with the gondoliers who, having placed the traveller's trunk in the hall, were cursing and crying aloud for their money. While the waiter was assuring them, that it was not decided whether the stranger would remain with them or not, and perhaps they would have to carry his trunk farther, the host nodded smilingly at the head waiter and said, proudly, "His excellency is not only a German, but a Prussian."
The clouded faces of the waiters and gondoliers cleared immediately, and they gazed at the traveller with a significant smile as he mounted the splendid steps with the host.
"He is a Prussian!" cried the waiters. "Evviva il Re di Prussia!" cried the gondoliers, as they raised the trunk and carried it nimbly up the steps.
The saloon into which the host conducted his guest was certainly different from the small, unclean rooms he had shown him before. All was elegance, and with a feeling of pride he led the stranger to the balcony which offered a splendid view of the imposing and glorious Canale Grande, with its proud churches and palaces.
"And now, signor," said the host, humbly, "command me. If I can serve you in any manner, I shall do so with pleasure. Any information you desire, I am ready to give. Perhaps your excellency has—?"
"No," said the stranger, quickly, "I have no political mission, and my letter to the prior is of a very innocent nature. I am a merchant, and by chance have become possessed of several costly relics, and hope that the prior of the cloister may purchase them."
"Ah, relics," said the host, with a contemptuous shrug of his shoulders; "do you know, sir, that no one now is enthusiastic about such things? Politics leave us no time for piety; the Pope has lost his influence, and even the Romans are good Prussiani, and care not for Frederick the Great being a heretic. The Pope blesses his enemies and celebrates their victories with brilliant masses and costly presents. The Romans are indifferent to all this, and pray for their hero-king, the Great Frederick, and in spite of the Pope desire him to triumph."
"Ah," said the traveller, with apparent sadness, "then I shall certainly not succeed with my relics, but I hope I shall do better in the city with my fans; for them I desire your advice. Will you please tell me the names of a few large commercial houses where they might buy some of my beautiful fans? But they must be good Prussiani, as you will soon see." He stepped to his trunk, unlocked it, and took from it an etui containing a number of fans.
"Look here, sir. I saw these fans in Geneva, and thinking I might perhaps do a good business with them in Italy, I bought several dozen. Examine the charming and tasteful paintings." He opened one of the fans; it was of white satin, with quite an artistic painting of a large Prussian eagle about to devour a white lily.
The host clapped his hands with delight. "Delicious!" he cried, laughing. "The Prussian eagle devouring the French lily; this is charming prophecy, a wonderful satire. You bought these fans in Geneva; there are Prussians in Geneva also, then."
"Every lady in Geneva has such a fan, and there are no better Prussians in Berlin than in Geneva."
"I am delighted, truly delighted," cried the Italian, enthusiastically." The time will come when all the people of Europe will be Prussians and only princes Teresiani."
"Nevertheless, the people will have to obey their princes," said the stranger, with a watchful glance; "and if they command it, will war against the great king."
"Not we, not the Italians," cried the host, violently; "our Doge would not dare to side with the Teresiani, for he knows very well that would occasion a revolution in Venice and, perhaps, endanger his own throne. No, no, signor; our exalted government is too wise not to adopt a neutral position, while secretly they are as good Prussians as we are."
"But the Lombardians and the Sardinians?" asked the stranger, expectantly.
"They also are Prussians; even if their king is a Teresiano, as they say, his people are Prussians like ourselves."
"And the Neapolitans?"
"Well, the Neapolitans," said the host, laughing, "the Neapolitans are, as you know, not renowned for their bravery; and if they do not love the great Frederick, they fear him. The Neapolitans are the children of Italy, knowing only that Naples is a beautiful city, and fearing a barbarian might come and devour it. In their terror they forget that no one is thinking of them, and that they are separated by Italy and the Alps from all warlike people. The king of Naples thinks it possible that Frederick may one day ascend Vesuvius with his conquering army and take possession of Naples. Since the king's last victories, Ferdinand has increased the number of his troops and doubled the guard in his capital."
The host laughed so heartily at this account, that the stranger was irresistibly compelled to join him.
"The King of Naples is but a boy nine years old. His ministers are older than himself, and should know a little more geography, signor. But corpo di Bacco, here I am talking and talking of politics forgetting entirely that your excellency is doubtless hungry, and desires a strengthening meal."
"'Tis true, I am a little hungry," said the stranger, smiling.
"In a quarter of an hour the most splendid dinner, that the celebrated White Lion can prepare, shall be ready for you, signor," cried the host, as he rushed hastily from the room.
The stranger gazed thoughtfully after him. "It appears to me that I have been very fortunate in coming here; the good host seems to be a good Prussian, and I have learned more from him in a quarter of an hour than I would have done in a long journey through Italy. I shall now be able to act with zeal and energy. But I must not forget the role I have to play. I am a merchant trading with fans, curiosities, and relics, and very anxious to bring my wares to market."
The entrance of the waiter interrupted him, and soon the savory dishes invited the traveller to refresh himself.
CHAPTER II. FREDERICK THE GREAT AS A SAINT.
"And now to business," said the Traveller, when he had finished dining. "It is high time I were on my way, if I am to leave this place to-day." He hastened to his trunk and took from it several bundles and packages, some of which he put in his pockets and some, like a true merchant, he carried under his arm. Then putting on his large, black felt hat, he turned to leave the room. In passing the mirror he looked at himself, and broke out into a merry laugh at his appearance.
"Truly," said he, "I look like a veritable shop-keeper, and he who takes me for any thing else, must be of a more political turn of mind than my host, Signor Montardo, the Prussiano."
He turned and left the room to obtain the address of some merchants and a guide from his host. In spite of remonstrances Signer Montardo insisted on accompanying him.
"Otherwise," said he, "some one might address you who is not on our side, and if you were then to show him your fans, there would be a fearful scandal; the other party is quite as hot-headed as we are, and many a pitched battle has taken place between the Teresiani and the Prussiani. Come, sir; I must accompany you. We will not go by the canal, but through the small by-streets; they will lead us quickest to the Riva di Schiavoni, and then to the Rialto, which is our destination."
"Is that far from the convent of San Giovanni e Paolo?" asked the stranger.
"Ah, you are still determined to offer your relics to the abbot?" said the host, laughing.
"Yes, and hope to sell them."
"Well, I wish you luck. The Rialto is not far from there. I will go with you until within the vicinity of the convent, but not farther."
"And why not?"
"Because the door-keeper is a raging Teresiano, and would undoubtedly close the door in your face, were I at your side."
"But did you not tell me the abbot was a Prussia, no?"
"Yes, the abbot, but the porter is not; nor are many of the monks, I am sorry to say."
"Ah, even the monks are occupied with politics?"
"Signor," cried the host, pathetically, "every one here interests himself in politics; and when you hear that our little children are divided into Teresiani and Prussiani, you will credit me. There was a slight revolution yesterday in the Riva Peschiera. It was occasioned by a fishwoman's refusing to sell my cook some beautiful trout; she declared God had not created fish for the Prussiani, which, in her opinion, was another name for heathen and unbeliever. My cook insisted on having the fish, and, as unfortunately there were many Prussiani among the fishwomen, it soon came to hard words and still harder blows, and was terminated by the arrest of the principal disturbers."
They were now entering the Riva di Schiavoni, and the talkative Signor Montardo was continuing his merry tales when he was interrupted by cries and shouts of laughter and derision, and they were almost surrounded by a large crowd of excited men.
"We are fortunately at the end of our walk," said Signor Montardo, "for there is the house of my worthy friend Cicernachi, dealer in fancy goods, and it is to him we are going. Let us press forward to see what this crowd means. I presume my friend Cicernachi has prepared another surprise for the good people of Venice."
He made a way for himself and friend with his broad shoulders, and soon stood in front of the shop around which the crowd was collected. A cry of astonishment escaped the stranger, and he pointed to the entrance of the shop. "You see there," said he, "a speaking likeness of Frederick the Great."
There hung at the front of the store a large engraving in a rich golden frame. It was the portrait of Prussia's hero king—of Frederick the Great—and beneath burnt a bright lamp, its light shedding a rosy tint over Frederick's noble countenance.
"Ah! I understand it now," whispered the host. "Cicernachi has done this to enrage the Teresiani. To show his boundless reverence for the king, he has placed a burning lamp beneath his picture, an honor due only in our country to the saints. Let us hear what the people have to say of it."
Just then a Teresiano commenced a speech, accompanied by violent gesticulations, against this insult to the Church. "How can you suffer this heretic to be represented by you as a saint?" cried he, in a voice of rage. "Do you not know that the Pope has excommunicated the King of Prussia? Do you not know that he is an enemy to God, to the Church, and to our holy Catholic religion? Away, then, with this lamp! The fires of hell will devour him, but no holy lamp shall enlighten his darkened soul."
"He is right, he is right," cried some among the crowd. "Away with the lamp! Break Cicernachi's windows, for he is a Prussiano. He makes a saint of a heretic! Put out the lamp!"
"Do not venture to touch the lamp," cried others. "Back! back! or our fists shall close your eyes until neither the lamp nor the great Frederick is visible to you."
"Put out the lamp, in God's name!" cried the infuriated Teresiani. And the cry was repeated by many of his party, as they pressed forward. But the Prussiani, amongst whom were our host and the stranger, had already formed a wall of defence before the store, and were energetically beating back the approaching Teresiani. And then there occurred a tumult, such as can only occur among passionate Italians. Wild shouts, curses, and threats were heard—eyes sparkling with rage, doubled fists, and here and there a dagger or a knife was seen.
But the noise suddenly ceased, and a deep stillness prevailed. No sound was heard but the quiet even tread of the solemn silent forms that stood suddenly, as if they had risen from the earth in their midst. No one had seen them come—no word was spoken by them, and still many retreated timidly, fearfully from them; their presence was enough to quiet these enraged masses, to silence their anger. Even Signor Montardo deserted his prominent position before the lamp, and was gazing anxiously at the dark forms passing slowly through the crowd.
"The sbirri!" whispered he to the stranger. "The servants of the Council of Ten! Whom will they take with them?"
But it seemed as if these much-feared men only desired to cause the people to remember them only, to threaten—not to punish. They wished to remind the people that the law was watching over them. Completely hid by their long mantles, they passed with bowed heads through the crowd. Thus without addressing or noticing any one, they passed into one of the small by-streets leading from the Rialto.
As the last one disappeared, life once more animated the crowd. All breathed more freely when relieved from their much-feared presence, and soon they commenced talking again of Cicernachi's new saint.
"You see," whispered Montardo to the stranger, "that our government is neutral. It will not punish neither the Prussiani nor the Teresiani; only warns us not to carry our zeal too far, and reminds us that it is against the law to carry a dagger or a knife in the streets. But now let us enter the shop, and I will introduce you to Cicernachi."
He took the stranger's arm, and entered the shop, where a tall, slim man met him. His long black hair hung in wild disorder on both sides of his expressive countenance, his eyes sparkled with fire, and on his full red lip there was a proud, triumphant smile.
"Well, Montardo," said he, "you come undoubtedly to congratulate me on this victory over these miserable Teresiani."
"Certainly, sir." cried Montardo, laughingly, "it was a most original idea."
"Do you know why I have done it?" said Cicernachi, "yesterday the Teresiani placed before their restaurants the bull of Pope Clement XI., which has just been confirmed and renewed by Clement XIII. It was printed on white satin, and enclosed in a beautiful gilt frame, and underneath it burnt a sacred lamp."
"What are the contents of this bull?" said Montardo.
"I will tell you the beginning." said Cicernachi, "I do not recollect all. It sounded thus: 'You have long known that Frederick, margrave of Brandenburg, in contempt for the authority of the Church, took to himself the name and insignia of king, a profane and unheard of act among Christians. He has thus unwisely enough become one of those of whom it is said in the Bible, 'They reigned, but not through Me; they were princes, but I did not know them.' Do you conceive now why I placed the king's picture before my store? why I burnt a lamp beneath it? I think this glorious portrait is more deserving of a sacred lamp than the Pope's nonsensical bull."
"You are right, signor," said the stranger, advancing to Cicernachi and shaking hands with him. "Permit me to thank you in the name of my great and noble king whom you have this day defended in so original a manner from the malicious charges of his enemies. I give you my word of honor that the king shall hear of it through me; I know it will rejoice him."
"Ah, signor," said Montardo, laughing, "you forget that you are an honest merchant who does not concern himself about politics."
"I can never forget I am a Prussian," said the traveller; "and how could I forget it?" continued he, laughing. "My whole business consists of Prussian wares."
"Truly you have some very beautiful articles," said Montardo. "You will be charmed with them, Cicernachi; it will be another opportunity to annoy the Teresiani. Look at this merchant's fans."
The stranger opened several fans. Cicernachi's eyes sparkled with delight at the sight of the painting. "How many have you, signor?" said he.
"I take them all, and regret you have not more."
"But Cicernachi, where has all your wisdom gone to?" cried Montardo. "You have not even asked the price; or do you, perhaps, think the stranger gives them to you for nothing?"
"No, no; I forgot it," said Cicernachi, gazing with delight at the fans which the stranger was spreading out before him. "What is their price, signor?"
The stranger was silent for a moment, and then said, in a hesitating manner: "I paid ten francs for each fan in Geneva."
"I give twice that," said Cicernachi, quickly.
The stranger started up hastily, blushing with annoyance. "Sir," said he, "I take from no one a higher price than I gave."
"Ah, signor, signor," cried Montardo, "you have again forgotten that you are but a merchant. No merchant sells his goods for what he gave for them. Remember that."
"I will make a good business with these fans," said Cicernachi. "I give you twenty-four francs, and will ask fifty for them. The ladies of our nobility, many of whom are Prussiani, will be delighted to annoy their opponents in so elegant a manner. Are you content, sir?"
"I am satisfied," said the stranger, blushing with embarrassment.
"Is this all you have for sale?"
"No, I have something else," said the stranger, opening another package. "As you are Prussiano, these neat little coins and medals, with pretty caricatures of the enemies of the king on them, will no doubt please you."
"Ah, let us see them," cried both Italians. They examined with eagerness the medals upon which the enemies of Frederick were represented in various laughable situations and positions.
"I take them all!" cried Cicernachi, enraptured.
The stranger laughed. "I cannot sell you my whole business," said he; "I must retain something. I will give you one of each. You must accept them as a token of my esteem, and must not pay me for them."
"Signor!" cried Montardo, in an imploring tone, "remain at my hotel as long as you please, and when I bring you your bill lay some of these coins upon it, and I shall be richly paid."
The stranger promised: then having received, with visible annoyance, the money for the fans, left the store with Montardo to pay his visit to the Convent Giovanni e Paolo.
CHAPTER III. THE CLOISTER BROTHERS OF SAN GIOVANNI E PAOLO.
The Prior of San Giovanni e Paolo had just returned from the second mass celebrated in the beautiful church of his cloister, the burial-place of the great Titiano Vicelli. With his arms folded across his back, he walked slowly and thoughtfully backward and forward, then stood before a large table at which a monk was occupied in unfolding letters and maps.
"This, your worship," said the monk, opening a new paper, "is an exact plan of the region around Mayen; we have just received it, and the positions of the two armies are plainly marked down. If agreeable to your worship, I will read the bulletins aloud, and you can follow the movements of the troops upon the map."
The prior shook his head softly. "No, Brother Anselmo, do not read again the triumphant bulletins of the Austrians and Russians; they pain my ears and my heart. Let us rather look at the map to see if the present position of the army offers any ground of hope."
"I have marked it all out with pins," said Father Anselmo; "the black pins signify the army of the allies, the white pins the army of the King of Prussia."
The prior bowed over the map, and his eye followed thoughtfully the lines which Father Anselmo marked out. "Your pins are a sad omen," he said, shaking his head. "The black ones surround like a churchyard wall the white ones, which stand like crosses upon the solitary graves in the midst of their black enclosures."
"But the white pins will break through the enclosure," said Father Anselmo, confidently. "The great king—"Father Anselmo stopped speaking; suddenly the door opened, and the father guardian asked if he might enter.
The prior blushed slightly, and stepped back from the table as the sharp eyes of the father guardian wandered around the room and fell at last with a sarcastic expression upon the table covered with maps and plans.
"Welcome, Brother Theodore," said the prior, with a slight nod of the head.
"I fear that I disturb your worship in your favorite occupation," said the father guardian, pointing to the maps. "Your worship is considering the unfortunate condition of the heretical king whom God, as it appears, will soon cast down in the dust, and crush at the feet of the triumphant Church."
"We must leave results, at all events, to God," said the prior, softly; "He has so often evidently lent his aid to the King of Prussia, that I think no one can count confidently upon Frederick's destruction now."
"The Holy Father at Rome has blessed the weapons of his adversaries, consequently they must triumph," cried Father Theodore, unctuously. "But pardon, your worship, I forgot my errand. A stranger wishes to see the prior of the cloister; he has rare and beautiful relics to sell, which he will only show to your worship."
"Our church is rich enough in relics," said the prior.
"Your worship does not attach any especial value to such things," said the father guardian with a derisive smile; "but I must allow myself to recall to you that the Holy Father in Rome has only lately addressed a circular to all the cloisters, recommending the purchase of rare relics to the awakening and advancing of the true faith."
"You, father guardian, must understand that matter best," said Brother Anselmo, sticking four new pins into his map. "I think you brought back this circular about six months since, when you returned to take the place of guardian."
The father was in the act of giving an angry answer, but the prior came forward, and pointing to the door, said, "Introduce the stranger with the relics."
A few moments later the traveller from the hotel of Signor Montardo entered the prior's room. He received a kindly welcome, and was asked to show his treasures.
The stranger hesitated, and looked significantly at the two monks. "I begged to be allowed to show them to your worship alone," said he.
"These two fathers are consecrated priests, and may therefore dare to look upon the holy treasures," said the prior, with a scarcely perceptible smile.
"I solemnly swore to the man from whom I bought these relics that I would only show them to the most worthy member of your order; he was a very pious man, and bitter necessity alone forced him to sell his precious treasures; he prayed to God to grant them a worthy place, and never to allow them to be desecrated by unholy eyes or hands. As the most holy and worthy brother is ever chosen to be the prior, I swore to show the relics only to the prior. Your worship will surely not ask me to break my oath?"
The prior made no answer, but nodded to the two monks, who silently left the room.
"And now, sir, show your treasures," said the prior, as the door closed behind them.
"Your worship," said the stranger, rapidly, "I have nothing but a letter from the Abbe Bastiani, which I was to give to your own hands." He drew a letter from his bosom, which he handed to the prior, who received it with anxious haste and hid it in his robe; then, with quick but noiseless steps he passed hastily through the room, and with a rapid movement dashed open the door; a low cry was heard, and a black figure tumbled back upon the floor.
"Ah! is that you, father guardian?" said the prior, in a tone of sympathy. "I fear that I hurt you."
"Not so, your worship; I only returned to say to you that it is the hour for dinner, and the pious brothers are already assembled in the hall."
"And I opened the door to call after you, father, and entreat you to take my place at the table. As I am in the act of looking at these holy relics, and touching them, I dare not soil my hands so soon afterward with earthly food. You will, therefore, kindly take my place, and I will not appear till the evening meal. Go, then, worthy brother, and may God bless you richly." He bowed and raising his right hand, made the sign of the cross, while the father guardian slowly, and with a frowning brow, passed through the room. Having reached the opposite door, he paused and looked back; but seeing the prior still standing upon the threshold of his room, and gazing after him, he dashed open the door and disappeared. "Now, sir," said the prior, entering and closing the door carefully, "we are alone, and I am ready to listen to you."
"I pray your worship to read first the letter of your brother, the Abbe Bastiani."
"Ah! he has told you that I am his brother?" said the prior, eagerly. "He trusts you then, fully? Well, I will read the letter." He opened and read it impatiently. "This is a very laconic and enigmatical letter," said he. "My brother refers me wholly to you; he assures me I can confide entirely in your silence and discretion, and entreats me to assist you in the attainment of your object. Make known to me then, signor, in what way I can serve you, and what aim you have in view."
"First, I will give your worship a proof that I trust you fully and unconditionally. I will tell you who I am, and then make known my purpose; you will then be able to decide how far you can give me counsel and aid."
"Let us step into this window-niche," said the prior; "we will be more secure from eavesdroppers. Now, signor, I am ready to listen."
The stranger bowed. "First, I must pray your worship's forgiveness, for having dared to deceive you. I am no merchant, and have nothing to do with relics; I am a soldier! my name is Cocceji, and I have the honor to be an adjutant of the King of Prussia. My royal master has intrusted me with a most important and secret mission, and I am commissioned by your brother, the Abbe Bastiani, to ask in his name for your assistance in this great matter."
"In what does your mission consist?" said the prior, calmly.
The Baron Cocceji smiled. "It is difficult—yes, impossible to tell you in a few words. Your worship must allow me a wider scope, in order to explain myself fully."
"Speak on!" said the prior.
"I see, by the maps and the arrangements of the pins, that your worship knows exactly the position and circumstances of my royal master, whom all Europe admires and wonders at, and whom his enemies fear most when they have just defeated him. They know that my king is never so great, never so energetic and bold in action, as when he is seemingly at a disadvantage, and overwhelmed by misfortunes. The bold glance of the great Frederick discovers ever-new fountains of help; he creates in himself both power and strength, and when his enemies think they have caught the royal lion in their nets, his bold eye has already discovered the weak spot; he tears it apart, and makes his foes, bewildered with terror and astonishment, fly before him. It is true, the king has just lost three battles! The Austrians and Russians defeated him at Hochkirch, at Kunersdorf, and at Mayen. But what have they gained? They have, in these three battles, lost more than the king; they have exhausted their resources—their own, and those of their allies; but Frederick stands still opposed to them, full of strength and power. His army is enlarged; from every side, from every province, shouting crowds stream onward to join the colors of their king. Enthusiasm makes a youth of the graybeard, and changes boys to men. Each one of them will have his part in the experience and fame of the great Frederick, and demands this of him as a holy right. The king's treasury is not exhausted; the people, with joy and gladness, have offered up upon the altar of the fatherland, their possessions, their jewels, and their precious things, and submit with enthusiasm to all the restrictions and self-denials which the war imposes upon them. They desire nothing but to see their king victorious; to help him to this, they will give property, blood—yes, life itself. It is this warm, enthusiastic love of his people which makes the king so fearful to his enemies; it protects him like a diamond shield, steels him against the balls of his adversaries, and fills his proud, heroic soul with assurances of triumph. All Europe shares this enthusiasm and these convictions of ultimate success with the Prussians and their dear-loved king. All Europe greets the hero with loud hosannas, who alone defies so many and such mighty foes, who has often overcome them, and from whom they have not yet wrung one single strip of the land they have watered with their blood, and in whose bosom their fallen hosts lie buried in giant graves. This has won for him the sympathy of all Europe, and the love and admiration of even the subjects of his great and powerful foes. In France—that France, whose warriors suffered so shameful a defeat at Rossbach, and whose government is filled with rage and thirsty for revenge against this heroic king—even in France is Frederick admired and worshipped. Even in the palace of the king, they no longer refuse to acknowledge his worth and glory. But lately, the young Duke de Belleisle exhorted the Marquise de Pompadour to implore King Louis to prosecute the war with earnestness and ardor, otherwise King Frederick might soon be expected in Paris with his army. The Marquise de Pompadour cried out warmly, 'Good! then I shall at last see a king!' In Germany, his enemies seek in vain to arouse the fanaticism of the people against the heretical king. Catholic Bavaria—the Palatinate-Main—enter murmuringly and reluctantly into this war against this Protestant king, although they wear the beads in their pockets, and the scapular over their shoulders. Even if Frederick the Second is now overcome by his enemies, in the public opinion he is the conqueror, and the whole world sympathizes with him. But public opinion is his only ally, and the sympathy of the people is his only source of revenue, outside of the subsidy from England, which will soon be exhausted. Frederick, therefore, must look after other allies, other friends, who will render him assistance, in so far as not to unsheathe the sword against him, and to prepare some difficulties for his adversaries, and occupy a portion of their attention. Such friends the king hopes to find in Italy; and to attain this object, I would ask counsel and help of your worship."
"And in how far is it thought that I can be useful in this matter?" said the prior, thoughtfully.
"Your worship has a second brother, who is minister of the King of Sardinia, and it is well known he is the king's especial confidant and favorite."
"And my noble brother, Giovanni, merits fully the favor of his king!" said the prior, heartily. "He is the most faithful, the most exalted servant of his master!"
"In all his great and good characteristics, he resembles his brother, the Prior of San Giovanni, and I hope, in this also, that he is the friend of the King of Prussia!" said the stranger.
"But I fear neither the friendship of my brother Giovanni nor my own can be useful to the King of Prussia. I am a poor and powerless monk, suspected and watched. My offence is, that I have not, like the fanatical priests of the Church, wished for the destruction and death of the great Frederick. My brother is the minister of a king, whose land is neither rich enough in gold to pay subsidies, nor in men to place an army in the field."
"Well, then, we must take occasion to increase the territory of the King of Sardinia!" said Baron Cocceji. "We must give him so large a realm, that he will be a dangerous neighbor to France and Austria. This is the plan and the intention of my king. Upon these points turn the proposals I will make in Turin, for the furtherance of which, I pray your assistance. The King of Sardinia has well-grounded claim to Milan, to Mantua, and to Bologna, by the treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle; why not make himself King of Lombardy? Unhappy Italy is like unhappy Germany—torn to pieces. In place of obeying one master, they must submit to the yoke of many. The dwellers in Italy, instead of being Italians, call themselves Milanese, Venetians, Sardinians, Tuscans, Romans, Neapolitans, and I know not what. All this weakens the national pride, and takes from the people the joyful consciousness of their greatness. Italy must be one in herself, in order to be once more great and powerful. Let the King of Sardinia take possession of Upper Italy, and he will, with his rightful inheritance, and as King of Lombardy, be a powerful prince—feared by his enemies, and welcomed by his allies."
"And do you think that Naples would look quietly on and witness this rapid growth of Sardinia?" said the prior, laughing.
"We will give to Naples an opportunity at the same time to enlarge her borders the young King of Naples has energy; he has proved it. When his father, Don Carlos, was called by right of succession to the Spanish throne, he had himself declared King of Naples, not regarding the right of the Duke of Parma, to whom, according to the treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle, the Neapolitan throne rightly belonged. King Ferdinand is already a usurper! Let him go on, even as successfully in the same path—he has taken Naples—let him take Tuscany and the States of the Church, and, as King of Lower Italy, he will be as powerful as the King of Sardinia. In order that both may obtain possession of these lands uninterrupted and uninjured, will the King of Prussia so completely occupy the attention of Austria and France in Germany and Flanders as to make it impossible for them to interfere with Naples and Sardinia?" [Footnote: Preuss, "History of Frederick the Great."]
"By Heaven! a great and bold idea; altogether in harmony with the energetic spirit of Frederick," cried the prior. "If the two Italian kings resemble the great Frederick, they will adopt this plan with enthusiasm."
He had risen, and stepped hastily backward and forward, now and then murmuring a few disconnected words; he then drew near the table and stood earnestly regarding the maps.
Cocceji did not dare to interrupt him by word or sound; he watched him, however, closely. At last, however, the inward struggle seemed to be over, he stood quietly before the baron, and, fixing his dark, earnest eyes with a thoughtful expression upon him, he said, softly: "You have confided to me a great and dangerous enterprise. If I did my duty as the unconditional subject of the Pope, and as a priest of the holy Church, of which Frederick is the bitter antagonist, I should arrest you here, as a dangerous negotiator and enemy, and above all, I should give speedy notice of this conspiracy, which not only threatens Clement as head of the Church, but as sovereign of the States of the Church. But—what would you have?—I was not born a priest, and my heart and my spirit have never been able to accommodate themselves fully to the discipline of my order. I have always remained, I fear," said he, with a graceful smile, "the true brother of the free-thinking Abbe Bastiani; and it appears to me, it lies in our blood to love and pay homage to the great and intellectual King of Prussia. I will, therefore, listen to and follow the voice of my blood and of my heart, and forget a little that I am a priest of the only church in which salvation can be found. As far as it lies in my power, I will promote your object. I will give you letters to Turin, not only to my brother Giovanni, but to Father Tomaseo, the king's confessor. He is my most faithful friend, and sympathizes fully with me. If you can win him and my brother Giovanni, you have won the king, and he will lend a willing ear to your proposals. Your plans are bold, but my brother and Father Tomaseo are daring, undaunted men; the progress of Italy and the greatness of their king lies nearest their hearts. They are both influenced by my judgment, and when you hand them my letters, you will at least be a most welcome guest."
He gave the baron his hand, and listened with a kindly smile to the enthusiastic thanks of the over-happy soldier, whose first diplomatic mission seemed to promise so favorably.
"Be, however, always prudent and discreet, signor," said the prior, laughing. "Play your role as merchant; do not lay it aside for one moment while in Turin. Leave Venice as quickly as possible; no doubt the brother guardian, who was sent from Rome as a spy, who watches not only all my actions, but my words and thoughts, has remarked our long interview, and is already suspicious. As he has a fine nose, he may soon discover a part of your secret! Do not return to the cloister. During the day I will send you the promised letters by a faithful brother. As soon as you receive them, be off! My best wishes and my prayers accompany you. Without doubt, you are, like your great king, a heretic. I cannot, therefore commend you to Mary Mother, and the saints, but I will pray to God to watch over you."
The prior stopped suddenly and listened! Loud cries of wild alarm forced themselves upon his ear; the sounds appeared to come from directly under his feet, and waxed louder and fiercer every moment.
"It is in the dining-room," said the prior, "follow me, sir, I beg you, we may need your help—some one is murdering my monks!" They hastened from the room with flying feet; they passed through the long corridors and down the steps; the cries and roars and howls and curses became ever clearer.
"I was not mistaken," said the prior, "this comes from the refectory." He rushed to the door and threw it hastily open, then stood, as if chained to the threshold, and stared with horror at the mad spectacle before him.
There were no murderous strangers there playing wild havoc amongst his monks: but the worthy fathers themselves were making the fierce tumult which filled the prior with alarm. The saloon no longer resembled the ascetic, peaceful refectory of cloister brothers. It was changed into a battle-field, upon which the two hosts thirsting for blood stood opposed.
The table upon which the glasses, plates, and dishes seemed to have been thrown together in wild disorder, was shoved to one side, and in the open space the monks stood with flashing eyes, uttering curses and imprecations; not one of them remarked that the prior and Cocceji stood at the door, astonished spectators of this unheard-of combat.
"Silence!" said the father guardian, making frantic gesticulations toward the monks who stood opposed to him and his adherents—"silence! no one shall dare within these sacred walls to speak of the Prussian heretical king in any other way than with imprecations. Whoever wishes success to his arms is an apostate, a traitor, and heretic. God has raised the sword of His wrath against him, and He will crush him utterly; He has blessed the weapons of his adversaries as Clement has also done. Long live Maria Theresa, her apostolic majesty!"
The monks by his side roared out, "Long live Maria Theresa, her apostolic majesty!"
"She will not be victorious over Frederick of Prussia," cried Father Anselmo, the leader of the opposite party. "The Pope has blessed the arms of Daun, but God himself has blessed the weapons of Frederick. Long live the King of Prussia! Long live the great Frederick!"
"Long live the great Frederick!" cried the monks by the side of Father Anselmo.
The party of the father guardian rushed upon them with doubled fists; the adversaries followed their example. "Long live Theresa!" cried the one. "Long live Frederick!" cried the other—and the blows and kicks fell thickly right and left, with the most lavish prodigality.
It was in vain that the prior advanced among them and commanded peace—no one regarded him. In their wild and indiscriminate rage they pressed him and shoved him from side to side, and in the heat of the battle several powerful blows fell upon his breast; so the poor prior took refuge again at the door near Cocceji, who was laughing merrily at the wild disorder.
The cries of "Long live Theresa!"
"Long live Frederick!" were mingling lustily in the bloody strife.
The father guardian was enraged beyond bearing, and his flashing eye looked around for some sharp weapon with which to demolish Father Anselmo, who had just exclaimed, "Long live Frederick, the victor of Leuthen and Zorndorf!" He seized a large tin cup, which was near him upon the table, and with a fierce curse he dashed it in the face of Father Anselmo, and the blood burst from his nose. This was the signal for a new order of attack. Both parties rushed to the table to arm themselves; the cups whizzed through the air and wounded severely the heads against which they were well aimed. Here and there might be heard whimperings and piteous complaints, mixed with curses and frantic battle-cries—"Long live Theresa!"
"Long live Frederick!" Some of the warriors crept from the contest into the corners to wipe the blood from their wounds and return with renewed courage to the contest. A few cowards had crept under the table to escape the cups and kicks which were falling in every direction.
Father Anselmo remarked them, and with loud, derisive laughter he pointed them out.
"The Teresiani live under the table, no Prussiano has crept there. All the Teresiani would gladly hide as they have often done before."
The Prussiani accompanied these words of their leader with joyous shouts.
The father guardian trembled with rage; he seized a large dish from the table and dashed it at Anselmo, who dodged in time, and then with a powerful arm returned the compliment. It was a well-directed javelin. The tin dish struck the father guardian exactly in the back—he lost his balance, and fell to the earth. The Prussiani greeted this heroic deed of their chief with shouts of triumph. "So shall all the Teresiani perish!"
The battle waxed hotter and fiercer, the air was thick with missiles.
"They will murder each other!" cried the prior, turning to the Baron Cocceji. "Not so, your worship; there will only be a few blue swellings and bleeding noses—nothing more," said Cocceji, laughing.
"Ah, you laugh young man; you laugh at this sad spectacle!"
"Forgive me, your worship; but I swear to you, I have never seen warriors more eager in the fray, and I have never been more curious to witness the result of any battle."