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Frederick The Great and His Family
by L. Muhlbach
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The king listened to all this with suppressed merriment, and gave Balby a significant look.

"Bring my flute, brother; I will convince madame that I am indeed a virtuoso."

"Let us hear," said Madame Blaken, seating herself upon the sofa from which the king had just arisen.

Frederick made, with indescribable solemnity, a profound bow to the hostess. He placed the flute to his lips and began to play, but not in his accustomed masterly style—not in those mild, floating melodies, those solemn sacred, and exalted strains which it was his custom to draw from his beloved flute. He played a gay and brilliant solo, full of double trills and rhapsodies; it was an astounding medley, which seemed to make a triumphal march over the instrument, overcoming all difficulties. But those soft tones which touched the soul and roused to noble thoughts were wanting; in truth, the melody failed, the music was wanting.

Madame Blaken listened with ever-increasing rapture to this wondrous exercise; these trills, springing from octave to octave, drew forth her loudest applause; she trembled with ecstasy, and as the king closed with a brilliant cadence, she clapped her hands and shouted enthusiastically. She stood up respectfully before the artiste in the simple brown coat, and bowing low, said earnestly:

"Your brother was right, you can surely earn much money by your whistle. You whistle as clearly as my mocking-bird. You shall have the pie—I go to order it at once," and she hastened from the room.

"Well," said the king, laughing, "this was a charming scene, and I thank you for it, brother Henry. It is a proud and happy feeling to know that you can stand upon your feet, or walk alone; in other words, that you can earn a support. Now, if the sun of Prussia sets, I shall not hunger, for I can earn my bread; Madame Blaken assures me of it. But, Henry, did I not play eminently?"

"That was the most glittering, dazzling piece for a concert which I ever heard," said Balby, "and Mr. Zoller may well be proud of it, but I counsel him not to play it before the King of Prussia; he would, in his jealousy, declare it was not music, nothing but sound, and signifying nothing."

"Bravo, my friend," said Frederick, taking his friend's hand; "yes, he would say that. Mr. Zoller played like a true virtuoso, that is to say, without intellect and without soul; he did not make music, only artistic tones. But here comes the pasty, and I shall relish it wondrous well. It is the first meat I have ever earned with my flute. Let us eat, brother Henry."



CHAPTER XV. THE KING WITHOUT SHOES.

The pie was really worthy of its reputation, and the king enjoyed it highly. He was gay and talkative, and amused himself in recalling the varied adventures of the past five days.

"They will soon be tempi passati, these giorni felice," he said, sighing. "To-day is the last day of our freedom and happiness; to-morrow we must take up our yoke, and exchange our simple brown coats for dashing uniforms."

"I know one, at least, who is rejoicing," said Balby, laughing, "the unhappy Deesen, who has just sworn most solemnly that he would throw himself in the river if he had to play much longer the part of a servant without livery—a servant of two unknown musicians; and he told me, with tears in his eyes, that not a respectable man in the house would speak to him; that the pretty maids would not even listen to his soft sighs and tender words."

"Dress makes the man," said the king, laughing; "if Deesen wore his cabinet-hussar livery these proud beauties who now despise, would smile insidiously. How strangely the world is constituted! But let us enjoy our freedom while we may. We still have some collections of paintings to examine—here are some splendid pictures of Rembrandt and Rubens to be sold. Then, last of all, I have an important piece of business to transact with the great banker, Witte, on whom I have a draft. You know that Madame Blaken is expensive, and the picture-dealers will not trust our honest faces; we must show them hard cash."

"Does your—Shall I not go to the bankers and draw the money?" said Balby. "Oh no, I find it pleasant to serve myself, to be my own master and servant at the same time. Allow me this rare pleasure for a few hours longer, Balby." The king took his friend's arm, and recommenced his search for paintings and treasures to adorn his gallery at Sans-Souci. Everywhere he was received kindly and respectfully, for all recognized them as purchasers, and not idle sight-seers. The dealers appreciated the difference between idle enthusiasm and well-filled purses.

The king understood this well, and on leaving the house of the last rich merchant he breathed more freely, and said:

"I am glad that is over. The rudeness of the postmaster at Grave pleased me better than the civilities of these people. Come, Balby, we have bought pictures enough; now we will only admire them, enjoy without appropriating them. The rich banker, Abramson, is said to have a beautiful collection; we will examine them, and then have our draft cashed."

The banker's splendid house was soon found, and the brothers entered the house boldly, and demanded of the richly-dressed, liveried servant to be conducted to the gallery.

"This is not the regular day," said the servant, with a contemptuous shrug of the shoulders, as he measured the two strangers.

"Not the day! What day?" asked the king, sharply.

"Not the day of general exhibition. You must wait until next Tuesday."

"Impossible, we leave to-morrow. Go to your master and tell him two strangers wish to see his gallery, and beg it may be opened for them."

There was something so haughty and irresistible in the stranger's manner, that the servant not daring to refuse, and still astonished at his own compliance, went to inform his master of the request. He returned in a few moments, and announced that his master would come himself to receive them.

The door opened immediately, and Mr. Abramson stepped into the hall; his face, bright and friendly, darkened when his black eyes fell upon the two strangers standing in the hall.

"You desired to speak to me," he said, in the arrogant tone that the rich Jews are accustomed to use when speaking to unknown and poor people. "What is your wish, sirs?"

The king's brow darkened, and he looked angrily at the supercilious man of fortune, who was standing opposite him, with his head proudly thrown back, and his hands in his pockets. But Frederick's countenance soon cleared, and he said, with perfect composure:

"We wish you to show us your picture-gallery, sir."

The tone in which he spoke was less pleading than commanding, and roused the anger of the easily enraged parvenu.

"Sir, I have a picture-gallery, arranged for my own pleasure and paid for with my own money. I am very willing to show it to all who have not the money to purchase pictures for themselves, and to satisfy the curiosity of strangers, I have set aside a day in each week on which to exhibit my gallery."

"You mean, then, sir, that you will not allow us to enter your museum?" said the king, smilingly, and laying his hand at the same time softly on Balby's arm, to prevent him from speaking.

"I mean that my museum is closed, and—"

A carriage rolled thunderingly to the door; the outer doors of the hall were hastily opened, a liveried servant entered, and stepping immediately to Mr. Abramson, he said:

"Lord Middlestone, of Loudon, asks the honor of seeing your gallery."

The countenance of the Jewish banker beamed with delight.

"Will his excellency have the graciousness to enter? I consider it an honor to show him my poor treasures. My gallery is closed to-day, but for Lord Middlestone, I will open it gladly."

His contemptuous glance met the two poor musicians, who had stepped aside, and were silent witnesses of this scene.

The outer doors of the court were opened noisily, and a small, shrivelled human form, assisted by two servants, staggered into the hall. It was an old man, wrapped in furs; this was his excellency Lord Middlestone. Mr. Abramson met him with a profound bow, and sprang forward to the door that led to the gallery.

Every eye was fixed upon this sad picture of earthly pomp and greatness; all felt the honor to the house of Mr. Abramson. Lord Middlestone, the ambassador of the King of England, desired to see his collection. This was an acknowledgment of merit that delighted the heart of the banker, and added a new splendor to his house.

While the door was being opened to admit his lordship, Balby and the king left the house unnoticed.

The king was angry, and walked silently along for a time; suddenly remaining standing, he gazed steadily at Balby, and broke out into a loud, merry laugh, that startled the passers-by, and made them look wonderingly after him.

"Balby, my friend," he said, still laughing, "I will tell you something amusing. Never in my life did I feel so humble and ashamed as when his excellency entered the gallery so triumphantly, and we slipped away so quietly from the house. Truly, I was fool enough to be angry at first, but I now feel that the scene was irresistibly comic. Oh! oh, Balby! do laugh with me. Think of us, who imagine ourselves to be such splendidly handsome men, being shown the door, and that horrid shrunken, diseased old man being received with such consideration! He smelt like a salve-box, we are odorous with ambrosia; but all in vain, Abramson preferred the salve-box."

"Abramson's olfactories are not those of a courtier," said Balby, "or he would have fainted at the odor of royalty. But truly, this Mr. Abramson is a disgraceful person, and I beg your majesty to avenge Mr. Zoller."

"I shall do so. He deserves punishment; he has insulted me as a man; the king will punish him." [Footnote: The king kept his word. The Jew heard afterward that it was the king whom he had treated so disrespectfully, and here could never obtain his forgiveness. He was not allowed to negotiate with the Prussian government or banks, and was thus bitterly punished for his misconduct.]

"And now we will have our check cashed by Mr. Witte. I bet he will not dismiss us so curtly, for my draft is for ten thousand crowns, and he will be respectful—if not to us, to our money."

The worthy and prosperous Madame Witte had just finished dusting and cleaning her state apartment, and was giving it a last artistic survey. She smiled contentedly, and acknowledged that there was nothing more to be done. The mirrors and windows were of transparent brightness—no dust was seen on the silk furniture or the costly ornaments—it was perfect. With a sad sigh Madame Witte left the room and locked the door with almost a feeling of regret. She must deny herself for the next few days her favorite occupation—there was nothing more to dust or clean in the apartment and only in this room was her field of operation—only here did her husband allow her to play the servant. With this exception he required of her to be the lady of the house—the noble wife of the rich banker—and this was a role that pleased the good woman but little. She locked the door with a sigh and drew on her shoes, which she was accustomed always to leave in the hall before entering her state apartment, then stepped carefully on the border of the carpet that covered the hall to another door. At this moment violent ringing was heard at the front door. Madame Witte moved quickly forward to follow the bent of her womanly curiosity and see who desired admittance at this unusual hour. Two strangers had already entered the hall and desired to see the banker.

"Mr. Witte is not at home, and if your business is not too pressing, call again early to-morrow morning."

"But my business is pressing," said Frederick Zoller, hastily, "I must speak with Mr. Witte to-day."

"Can they wish to borrow money from him?" thought Madame Witte, who saw the two strangers through the half-opened door.

"To borrow, or to ask credit, I am sure that is their business."

"May I ask the nature of your business?" said the servant. "In order to bring Mr. Witte from the Casino I must know what you wish of him."

"I desire to have a draft of ten thousand crowns cashed," said Frederick Zoller, sharply.

The door was opened hastily, and Madame Witte stepped forward to greet the stranger and his companion. "Have the kindness, gentlemen, to step in and await my husband; he will be here in a quarter of an hour. Go, Andres, for Mr. Witte." Andres ran off, and Madame Witte accompanied the strangers through the hall. Arrived at the door of the state apartment, she quickly drew off her shoes, and then remained standing, looking expectantly at the strangers.

"Well, madame," said the king, "shall we await Mr. Witte before this door, or will you show us into the next room?"

"Certainly I will; but I am waiting on you."

"On us? And what do you expect of us?"

"What I have done, sirs—to take your shoes off."

The king laughed aloud. "Can no one, then, enter that room with shoes on?"

"Never, sir. It was a custom of my great-grandfather. He had this house built, and never since then has any one entered it with shoes. Please, therefore, take them off."

Balby hastened to comply with her peremptory command. "Madame, it will suffice you for me to follow this custom of your ancestors—you will spare my brother this ceremony."

"And why?" asked Madame Witte, astonished. "His shoes are no cleaner or finer than yours, or those of other men. Have the kindness to take off your shoes also."

"You are right, madame," said the king, seriously. "We must leave off the old man altogether; therefore, you ask but little in requiring us to take off our shoes before entering your state apartment." He stooped to undo the buckles of his shoes, and when Balby wished to assist him, he resisted. "No, no; you shall not loosen my shoes—you are too worthy for that. Madame Witte might think that I am a very assuming person—that I tyrannize over my brother. There, madame, the buckles are undone, and there lie my shoes, and now we are ready to enter your state apartment."

Madame Witte opened the door with cold gravity, and allowed them to pass. "To-morrow I can dust again," she said, gleefully, "for the strangers' clothes are very dirty."

In the mean time, the two strangers awaited the arrival of Mr. Witte. The king enjoyed his comic situation immensely. Balby looked anxiously at the bare feet of the king, and said he should never have submitted to Madame Witte's caprice. The floor was cold, and the king might be taken ill.

"Oh, no," said Frederick, "I do not get sick so easily—my system can stand severer hardships. We should be thankful that we have come off so cheaply, for a rich banker like Witte in Amsterdam, is equal to the Pope in Rome; and I do not think taking off our shoes is paying too dearly to see the pope of Holland. Just think what King Henry IV. had to lay aside before he could see the Pope of Rome—not only his shoes and stockings and a few other articles, but his royalty and majesty. Madame Witte is really for bearing not to require the same costume of us."

The door behind them was opened hastily, and the banker Witte stepped in. He advanced to meet them with a quiet smile, but suddenly checked himself, and gazed with terror at the king.

"My God! his majesty the King of Prussia!" he stammered. "Oh! your majesty! what an undeserved favor you are doing my poor house in honoring it with your presence!"

"You know me, then?" said the king, smiling. "Well, I beg you may not betray my incognito, and cash for Frederick Zoller this draft of ten thousand crowns."

He stepped forward to hand the banker the draft. Mr. Witte uttered a cry of horror, and, wringing his hands, fell upon his knees. He had just seen that the king was barefooted.

"Oh! your majesty! Mercy! mercy!" he pleaded. "Pardon my unhappy wife who could not dream of the crime she was committing. Why did your majesty consent to her insane demand? Why did you not peremptorily refuse to take off your shoes?"

"Why? Well, ma foi, because I wished to spare the King of Prussia a humiliation. I believe Madame Witte would rather have thrown me out of the house than allowed me to enter this sacred room with my shoes on."

"No, your majesty, no. She would—"

At this moment the door opened, and Madame Witte, drawn by the loud voice of her husband, entered the room.

"Wife!" he cried, rising, "come forward; fall on your knees and plead for forgiveness."

"What have I done?" she asked, wonderingly.

"You compelled this gentleman to take off his shoes at the door."

"Well, and what of that?"

"Well," said Mr. Witte, solemnly, as he laid his arm upon his wife's shoulder and tried to force her to her knees, "this is his majesty the King of Prussia!"

But the all-important words had not the expected effect. Madame Witte remained quietly standing, and looked first upon her own bare feet and then curiously at the king.

"Beg the king's pardon for your most unseemly conduct," said Witte.

"Why was it unseemly?" asked his better-half. "Do I not take off my shoes every time I enter this room? The room is mine, and does not belong to the King of Prussia."

Witte raised his hands above his head in despair. The king laughed loudly and heartily.

"You see I was right, sir," he said. "Only obedience could spare the King of Prussia a humiliation. [Footnote: The king's own words. See Nicolai's "anecdotes of Frederick the Great, "collection V., P.31] But let us go to your business room and arrange our moneyed affairs. There, madame, I suppose you will allow me to put on my shoes."

Without a word, Mr. Witte rushed from the room for the king's shoes, and hastened to put them, not before the king, but before the door that led into his counting room.

With a gay smile, the king stepped along the border of the carpet to his shoes, and let Balby put them on for him.

"Madame," he said, "I see that you are really mistress in your own house, and that you are obeyed, not from force, but from instinct. God preserve you your strong will and your good husband!"

"Now," said the king, after they had received the money and returned to the hotel, "we must make all our arrangements to return to-morrow morning early—our incognito is over! Mr. Witte promised not to betray us, but his wife is not to be trusted; therefore, by to-morrow morning, the world will know that the King of Prussia is in Amsterdam. Happily, Mr. Witte does not know where I am stopping. I hope to be undisturbed to-day, but by to-morrow this will be impossible."

The king prophesied aright: Madame Witte was zealously engaged in telling her friends the important news that the King of Prussia had visited her husband, and was now in Amsterdam.

The news rolled like an avalanche from house to house, from street to street, and even reached the major's door, who, in spite of the lateness of the hour, called a meeting of the magistrates, and sent policemen to all the hotels to demand a list of the strangers who had arrived during the last few days. In order to greet the king, they must first find him.

Early the next morning, a simple caleche, with two horses, stood at the hotel of the "Black Raven." The brothers Zoller were about to leave Amsterdam, and, to Madame Blaken's astonishment, they not only paid their bill without murmuring, but left a rich douceur for the servants. The hostess stepped to the door to bid them farewell, and nodded kindly as they came down the steps. Their servant followed with the little carpet-bag and the two music-cases.

When Deesen became aware of the presence of the hostess, and the two head-servants, he advanced near to the king.

"Your majesty, may I now speak?" he murmured.

"Not yet," said the king, smiling, "wait until we are in the carriage."

He descended the steps, with a friendly nod to the hostess. Balby and himself left the house.

"See, my friend, how truly I prophesied," he said, as he pointed down the street; "let us get in quickly, it is high time to be off; see the crowd advancing."

Frederick was right; from the end of the street there came a long procession of men, headed by the two mayors, dressed in black robes, trimmed with broad red bands. They were followed by the senators, clothed in the same manner. A great number of the rich aristocrats of the city accompanied them.

Madame Blaken had stepped from the house, and was looking curiously at the approaching crowd, and while she and her maids were wondering what this could mean, the two Mr. Zollers entered the carriage, and their servant had mounted the box. "May I speak now?" said Deesen, turning to the king.

"Yes, speak," said the king, "but quickly, or the crowd will take your secret from you."

"Hostess!" cried Deesen, from the box, "do you know what that crowd means?"

"No," she said, superciliously.

"I will explain; listen, madame. The magistrates are coming to greet the King of Prussia!"

"The King of Prussia!" shrieked the hostess. "Where is the King of Prussia?"

"Here!" cried Deesen, with a malicious grin, as he pointed to the king, "and I am his majesty's cabinet-hussar! Forward, postilion!—quick, forward!"

The postilion whipped his horses, and the carriage dashed by the mayors and senators, who were marching to greet the King of Prussia. They never dreamed that he had just passed mischievously by them.

Two days later, the king and his companions stood on the Prussian border, on the spot where, in the beginning of their journey, the king had written the words "majesty" and "sire."

"Look!" he said, pointing to the ground, "the two fatal words have not vanished away; the sun has hardened the ground, and they are still legible. I must lift them from the sand, and wear them henceforth and forever. Give me your hand, Balby; the poor musician, Frederick Zoller, will bid farewell to his friend, and not only to you, Balby, but farewell also to my youth. This is my last youthful adventure. Now, I shall grow old and cold gracefully. One thing I wish to say before I resume my royalty; confidentially, I am not entirely displeased with the change. It seems to me difficult to fill the role of a common man. Men do not seem to love and trust each other fully; a man avenges himself on an innocent party for the wrongs another has committed. Besides, I do not rightly understand the politenesses of common life, and, therefore, received many reproaches. I believe, on the whole, it is easier to bestow than to receive them. Therefore, I take up my crown willingly."

"Will your majesty allow me a word?" said Deesen, stepping forward.

"Speak, Deesen."

"I thank Mr. Zoller for saving my life. As true as God lives, I should have stifled with rage if I had not told that haughty Hollander who Mr. Zoller was and who I was."

"Now, forward! Farewell, Frederick Zoller! Now I am on Prussian soil, the hour of thoughtless happiness is passed. I fear, Balby, that the solemn duties of life will soon take possession of us. So be it! I accept my destiny—I am again Frederick of Hohenzollern!"

"And I have the honor to be the first to greet your majesty on your own domain," said Balby, as he bowed profoundly before the king.



BOOK II.



CHAPTER I. THE UNHAPPY NEWS.

The Princess Amelia was alone in her room. She was stretched upon a sofa, lost in deep thought; her eyes were raised to heaven, and her lips trembled; from time to time they murmured a word of complaint or of entreaty.

Amelia was ill. She had been ill since that unhappy day in which she intentionally destroyed her beauty to save herself from a hated marriage.[Footnote: See "Berlin and Sans-Souci."] Her eyes had never recovered their glance or early fire; they were always inflamed and veiled by tears. Her voice had lost its metallic ring and youthful freshness; it sounded from her aching and hollow chest like sighs from a lonely grave.

Severe pain from time to time tortured her whole body, and contracted her limbs with agonizing cramps. She had the appearance of a woman of sixty years of age, who was tottering to the grave.

In this crushed and trembling body dwelt a strong, powerful, healthy soul; this shrunken, contracted bosom was animated by a youthful, ardent, passionate heart. This heart had consecrated itself to the love of its early years with an obstinate and feverish power.

In wild defiance against her fate, Amelia had sworn never to yield, never to break faith; to bear all, to suffer all for her love, and to press onward with unshaken resignation but never-failing courage through the storms and agonies of a desolate, misunderstood, and wretched existence. She was a martyr to her birth and her love; she accepted this martyrdom with defiant self-reliance and joyful resignation.

Years had passed since she had seen Trenck, but she loved him still! She knew he had not guarded the faith they had mutually sworn with the constancy that she had religiously maintained; but she loved him still! She had solemnly sworn to her brother to give up the foolish and fantastic wish of becoming the wife of Trenck; but she loved him still! She might not live for him, but she would suffer for him; she could not give him her hand, but she could consecrate thought and soul to him. In imagination she was his, only his; he had a holy, an imperishable right to her. Had she not sworn, in the presence of God, to be his through life down to the borders of the grave? Truly, no priest had blessed them; God had been their priest, and had united them. There had been no mortal witness to their solemn oaths, but the pure stars were present—with their sparkling, loving eyes they had looked down and listened to the vows she had exchanged with Trenck. She was therefore his—his eternally! He had a sacred claim upon her constancy, her love, her forbearance, and her forgiveness. If Trenck had wandered from his faith, she dared not follow his example; she must be ever ready to listen to his call, and give him the aid he required.

Amelia's love was her religion, her life's strength, her life's object; it was a talisman to protect and give strength in time of need. She would have died without it; she lived and struggled with her grief only for his sake.

This was a wretched, joyless existence—a never-ending martyrdom, a never-ceasing contest. Amelia stood alone and unloved in her family, feared and avoided by all the merry, thoughtless, pleasure seeking circle. In her sad presence they shuddered involuntarily and felt chilled, as by a blast from the grave. She was an object of distrust and weariness to her companions and servants, an object of love and frank affection to no one.

Mademoiselle Ernestine von Haak had alone remained true to her; but she had married, and gone far away with her husband. Princess Amelia was now alone; there was no one to whom she could express her sorrow and her fears; no one who understood her suppressed agony, or who spoke one word of consolation or sympathy to her broken heart.

She was alone in the world, and the consciousness of this steeled her strength, and made an impenetrable shield for her wearied soul. She gave herself up entirety to her thoughts and dreams. She lived a strange, enchanted, double life and twofold existence. Outwardly, she was old, crushed, ill; her interior life was young, fresh, glowing, and energetic, endowed with unshaken power, and tempered in the fire of her great grief. Amelia lay upon the divan and looked dreamily toward heaven. A strange and unaccountable presentiment was upon her; she trembled with mysterious forebodings. She had always felt thus when any new misfortunes were about to befall Trenck. It seemed as if her soul was bound to his, and by means of an electric current she felt the blow in the same moment that it fell upon him.

The princess believed in these presentiments. She had faith in dreams and prophecies, as do all those unhappy beings to whom fate has denied real happiness, and who seek wildly in fantastic visions for compensation. She loved, therefore, to look into the future through fortune-tellers and dark oracles, and thus prepare herself for the sad events which lay before her. The day before, the renowned astrologer Pfannenstein had warned her of approaching peril; he declared that a cloud of tears was in the act of bursting upon her! Princess Amelia believed in his words, and waited with a bold, resolved spirit for the breaking of the cloud, whose gray veil she already felt to be round about her.

These sad thoughts were interrupted by a light knock upon the door, and her maid entered and announced that the master of ceremonies, Baron Pollnitz, craved an audience.

Amelia shuddered, but roused herself quickly. "Let him enter!" she said, hastily. The short moment of expectation seemed an eternity of anguish. She pressed her hands upon her heart, to still its stormy beatings; she looked with staring, wide-opened eyes toward the door through which Pollnitz must enter, and she shuddered as she looked upon the ever-smiling, immovable face of the courtier, who now entered her boudoir, with Mademoiselle von Marwitz at his side.

"Do you know, Pollnitz," said she, in a rough, imperious tone—"do you know I believe your face is not flesh and blood, but hewn from stone; or, at least, one day it was petrified? Perhaps the fatal hour struck one day, just as you were laughing over some of your villainies, and your smile was turned to stone as a judgment. I shall know this look as long as I live; it is ever most clearly marked upon your visage, when you have some misfortune to announce."

"Then this stony smile must have but little expression to-day, for I do not come as a messenger of evil tidings; but if your royal highness will allow me to say so, as a sort of postillon d'amour."

Amelia shrank back for a moment, gave one glance toward Mademoiselle von Marwitz, whom she knew full well to be the watchful spy of her mother, and whose daily duty it was to relate to the queen-mother every thing which took place in the apartment of the princess. She knew that every word and look of Pollnitz was examined with the strictest attention.

Pollnitz, however, spoke on with cool self-possession:

"You look astonished, princess; it perhaps appears to you that this impassive face is little suited to the role of postillon d'amour, and yet that is my position, and I ask your highness's permission to make known my errand."

"I refuse your request," said Amelia, roughly; "I have nothing to do with Love, and find his godship as old and dull as the messenger he has sent me. Go back, then, to your blind god, and tell him that my ears are deaf to his love greeting, and the screeching of the raven is more melodious than the tenderest words a Pollnitz can utter."

The princess said this in her most repulsive tone. She was accustomed to shield herself in this rude manner from all approach or contact, and, indeed, she attained her object. She was feared and avoided. Her witty bon mots and stinging jests were repeated and merrily laughed over, but the world knew that she scattered her sarcasms far and wide, in order to secure her isolation; to banish every one from her presence, so that none might hear her sighs, or read her sad history in her countenance.

"And yet, princess, I must still implore a hearing," said he, with imperturbable good-humor; "if my voice is rough as the raven's, your royal highness must feed me with sugar, and it will become soft and tender as an innocent maiden's."

"I think a few ducats would be better for your case," said Amelia; "a Pollnitz is not to be won with sweets, but for gold he would follow the devil to the lower regions."

"You are right, princess; I do not wish to go to heaven, but be low; there I am certain to find the best and most interesting society. The genial people are all born devils, and your highness has ever confessed that I am genial. Then let it be so! I will accept the ducats which your royal highness think good for me, and now allow me to discharge my duty. I come as the messenger of Prince Henry: He sends his heart-felt greetings to his royal sister, and begs that she will do him the honor to attend fete at Rheinsberg, which will take place in eight days."

"Has the master of ceremonies of the king become the fourrier of Prince Henry?" said Amelia.

"No, princess; I occasionally and accidentally perform the function of a fourrier. This invitation was not my principal object to-day."

"I knew it," said Amelia, ironically. "My brother Henry does not love me well enough to invite me to this fete, if he had not some other object to attain. Well, what does Prince Henry wish?"

"A small favor, your royal highness; he wishes, on the birthday of his wife, to have Voltaire's 'Rome Sauvee' given by the French tragedians. Some years since your highness had a great triumph in this piece. The prince remembers that Voltaire prepared the role of Aurelia especially for you, with changes and additions, and he entreats you, through me, the temporary Directeur des spectacles de Rheinsberg, to lend him this role for the use of his performer."

"Why does not my brother rather entreat me to take this part myself?" said Amelia, in cruel mockery over herself. "It appears to me I could look the part of Aurelia, and my soft, flute-like voice would make a powerful impression upon the public. It is cruel of Prince Henry to demand this role of me; it might be inferred that he thought I had become old and ugly."

"Not so, your highness; the tragedy is to be performed on this occasion by public actors, and not by amateurs."

"You are right," said Amelia, suddenly becoming grave; "at that time we were amateurs, lovers of the drama; our dreams are over—we live in realities now."

"Mademoiselle von Marwitz, have the goodness to bring the manuscript my brother wishes; it is partly written by Voltaire's own hand. You will find it in the bureau in my dressing-room."

Mademoiselle Marwitz withdrew to get the manuscript; as she left the room, she looked back suspiciously at Pollnitz and, as if by accident, left the door open which led to the dressing-room.

Mademoiselle Marwitz had scarcely disappeared, before Pollnitz sprang forward, with youthful agility, and closed the door.

"Princess, this commission of Prince Henry's was only a pretext. I took this order from the princess's maitre d'hotel in order to approach your highness unnoticed, and to get rid of the watchful eyes of your Marwitz. Now listen well; Weingarten, the Austrian secretary of Legation, was with me to-day."

"Ah, Weingarten," murmured the princess, tremblingly; "he gave you a letter for me; quick, quick, give it to me."

"No, he gave me no letter; it appears that he, who formerly sent letters, is no longer in the condition to do so."

"He is dead!" cried Amelia with horror, and sank back as if struck by lightning.

"No, princess, he is not dead, but in great danger. It appears that Weingarten is in great need of money; for a hundred louis d'or, which I promised him, he confided to me that Trenck's enemies had excited the suspicions of the king against him, and declared that Trenck had designs against the life of Frederick."

"The miserable liars and slanderers!" cried Amelia, contemptuously.

"The king, as it appears, believes in these charges; he has written to his resident minister to demand of the senate of Dantzic the delivery of Trenck."

"Trenck is not in Dantzic, but in Vienna."

"He is in Dantzic—or, rather, he was there."

"And now?"

"Now," said Pollnitz, solemnly, "he is on the way to Konigsberg; from that point he will be transported to some other fortress; first, however, he will be brought to Berlin."

The unhappy princess uttered a shriek, which sounded like a wild death-cry. "He is, then, a prisoner?"

"Yes; but, on his way to prison, so long as he does not cross the threshold of the fortress, it is possible to deliver him. Weingarten, who, it appears to me, is much devoted to your highness, has drawn for me the plan of the route, Trenck is to take. Here it is." He handed the princess a small piece of paper, which she seized with trembling hands, and read hastily.

"He comes through Coslin," said she, joyfully; "that gives a chance of safety in Coslin! The Duke of Wurtemberg, the friend of my youthful days, is in Coslin; he will assist me. Pollnitz, quick, quick, find me a courier who will carry a letter to the duke for me without delay."

"That will be difficult, if not impossible," said Pollnitz, thoughtfully.

Amelia sprang from her seat; her eyes had the old fire, her features their youthful expression and elasticity.

The power and ardor of her soul overcame the weakness of her body; it found energy and strength.

"Well, then," said she, decisively, and even her voice was firm and soft, "I will go myself; and woe to him who dares withhold me! I have been ordered to take sea-baths. I will go this hour to Coslin for that purpose! but no, no, I cannot travel so rashly. Pollnitz, you must find me a courier."

"I will try," said Pollnitz. "One can buy all the glories of this world for gold; and, I think, your highness will not regard a few louis d'or, more or less."

"Find me a messenger, and I will pay every hour of his journey with a gold piece."

"I will send my own servant, in half an hour he shall be ready."

"God be thanked! it will then, be possible to save him. Let me write this letter at once, and hasten your messenger. Let him fly as if he had wings—as if the wild winds of heaven bore him onward. The sooner he brings me the answer of the duke, the greater shall be his reward. Oh, I will reward him as if I were a rich queen, and not a poor, forsaken, sorrowful princess."

"Write, princess, write," cried Pollnitz, eagerly: "but not have the goodness to give me the hundred louis d'or before Mademoiselle Marwitz returns. I promised them to Weingarten for his news; you can add to them the ducats you were graciously pleased to bestow upon me."

Amelia did not reply; she stepped to the table and wrote a few lines, which she handed to Pollnitz.

"Take this," said she, almost contemptuously; "it is a draft upon my banker, Orguelin. I thank you for allowing your services to be paid for; it relieves me from all call to gratitude. Serve me faithfully in future, and you shall ever find my hand open and my purse full. And now give me time to write to the duke, and—"

"Princess, I hear Mademoiselle Marwitz returning!"

Amelia left the writing-table hastily, and advanced to the door through which Mademoiselle Marwitz must enter.

"Ah, you are come at last," said she, as the door opened. "I was about to seek you. I feared you could not find the paper."

"It was very difficult to find amongst such a mass of letters and papers," said Mademoiselle Marwitz, whose suspicious glance was now wandering round the room. "I succeeded, however, at last; here is the manuscript, your highness."

The princess took it and examined it carefully. "Ah, I thought so," she said. "A monologue which Voltaire wrote for me, is missing. I gave it to the king, and I sec he has not returned it. I think my memory is the only faculty which retains its power. It is my misfortune that I cannot forget! I will test it to-day and try to write this monologue from memory. I must be alone, however. I pray you, mademoiselle, to go into the saloon with Pollnitz; he can entertain you with the Chronique Scandaleuse of our most virtuous court, while I am writing.—And now," said she, when she found herself alone, "may God give me power to reach the heart of the duke, and win him to my purpose!"

With a firm hand she wrote:

"Because you are happy, duke, you will have pity for the wretched. For a few days past, you have had your young and lovely wife at your side, and experienced the pure bliss of a happy union; you will therefore comprehend the despair of those who love as fondly, and can never be united. And now, I would remind you of a day on which it was in my power to obtain for you a great favor from my brother the king. At that time you promised me to return this service tenfold, should it ever be in your power, and you made me promise, if I should ever need assistance, to turn to you alone! My hour has come! I need your help; not for myself! God and death alone can help me. I demand your aid for a man who is chained with me to the galleys. You know him—have mercy upon him! Perhaps he will arrive at your court in the same hour with my letter. Duke, will you be the jailer of the wretched and the powerless, who is imprisoned only because I am the daughter of a king? Are your officers constables? will you allow them to cast into an eternal prison him for whom I have wept night and day for many long years?"

"Oh, my God! My God! you have given wings to the birds of the air; you have given to the horse his fiery speed; you have declared that man is the king of creation; you have marked upon his brow the seal of freedom, and this is his holiest possession. Oh, friend, will you consent that a noble gentleman, who has nothing left but his freedom, shall be unjustly deprived of it! Duke, I call upon you! Be a providence for my unhappy friend, and set him at liberty. And through my whole life long I will bless and honor you! AMELIA."

"If he does not listen to this outcry of my soul," she whispered, as she folded and sealed the letter—"if he has the cruelty to let me plead in vain, then in my death-hour I will curse him, and charge him with being the murderer of my last hope!"

The princess called Pollnitz, and, with an expressive glance, she handed him the letter.

"Truly, my memory has not failed me," she said to Mademoiselle Marwitz, who entered behind Pollnitz, and whose sharp eyes were fixed upon the letter in the baron's hand. "I have been able to write the whole monologue. Give this paper to my brother, Pollnitz; I have added a few friendly lines, and excused myself for declining the invitation. I cannot see this drama."

"Well, it seems to me I have made a lucrative affair of this," said Pollnitz to himself, as he left the princess. "I promised Weingarten only fifty louis d'or, so fifty remain over for myself, without counting the ducats which the princess intends for me. Besides, I shall be no such fool as to give my servant, who steals from me every day, the reward the princess has set apart for him; and if I give him outside work to do, it is my opportunity; he is my slave, and the reward is properly mine."

"Listen, John!" Said Pollnitz to his servant, as he entered his apartment. Poor John was, at the same time, body-servant, jockey, and coachman. "Listen; do you know exactly how much you have loaned me?"

"To a copper, your excellency," said John, joyfully. Poor John thought that the hour of settlement had come. "Your excellency owes me fifty-three thalers, four groschen, and five pennies."

"Common soul," cried Pollnitz, shrugging his shoulders contemptuously, "to be able to keep in remembrance such pitiful things as groschen and coppers. Well, I have a most pressing and important commission for you. You must saddle your horse immediately, and hasten to deliver this letter to the Duke of Wurtemberg. You must ride night and day and not rest till you arrive and deliver this packet into the duke's own hands. I will then allow you a day's rest for yourself and horse; your return must be equally rapid. If you are here again in eight days, I will reward you royally."

"That is to say, your excellency—" said John, in breathless expectation.

"That is to say, I will pay you half the sum I owe you, if you are here in eight days; if you are absent longer, you will get only a third."

"And if I return a day earlier?" Said John, sighing.

"I will give you a few extra thalers as a reward," said Pollnitz.

"But your excellency will, besides this, give me money for the journey," said John, timidly.

"Miserable, shameless beggar!" Cried Pollnitz; "always demanding more than one is willing to accord you. Learn from your noble master that there is nothing more pitiful, more sordid than gold, and that those only are truly noble, who serve others for honor's sake, and give no thought to reward."

"But, your grace, I have already the honor to have lent you all my money. I have not even a groschen to buy food for myself and horse on our journey."

"As for your money, sir, it is, under all circumstances, much safer with me than with you. You would surely spend it foolishly, while I will keep it together. Besides this, there is no other way to make servants faithful and submissive but to bind them to you by the miserable bond of selfishness. You would have left me a hundred times, if you had not been tied down by your own pitiful interests. You know well that if you leave me without my permission, the law allows me to punish you, by giving the money I owe you to the poor. But enough of foolish talking! Make ready for the journey; in half an hour you must leave Berlin behind you. I will give you a few thalers to buy food. Now, hasten! Remember, if you remain away longer than eight days, I will give you only a third of the money I am keeping for you."

This terrible threat had its effect upon poor John.

In eight days Pollnitz sought the princess, and with a triumphant glance, slipped a letter into her hand, which read thus:

"I thank you, princess, that you have remembered me, and given me an opportunity to aid the unhappy. You are right. God made man to be free. I am no jailer, and my officers are not constables. They have, indeed, the duty to conduct the unhappy man who has been for three days the guest of my house, farther on toward the fortress, but his feet and his hands shall be free, and if he takes a lesson from the bird in velocity, and from the wild horse in speed, his present escape will cost him less than his flight from Glatz. My officers cannot be always on the watch, and God's world is large; it is impossible to guard every point. My soldiers accompany him to the brook Coslin. I commend the officer who will be discharged for neglect of duty to your highness. FERDINAND."

"He will have my help and my eternal gratitude," whispered Amelia; she then pressed the letter of the duke passionately to her lips. "Oh, my God! I feel to-day what I have never before thought possible, that one can be happy without happiness. If fate will be merciful, and not thwart the noble purpose of Duke Ferdinand, from this time onward I will never murmur—never complain. I will demand nothing of the future; never more to see him, never more to hear from him, only that he may be free and happy."

In the joy of her heart she not only fulfilled her promise to give the messenger a gold piece for every hour of his journey, but she added a costly diamond pin for Pollnitz, which the experienced baron, even while receiving it from the trembling hand of the princess, valued at fifty louis d'or.

The baron returned with a well-filled purse and a diamond pin to his dwelling, and with imposing solemnity he called John into his boudoir.

"John," said he, "I am content with you. You have promptly fulfilled my commands. You returned the seventh day, and have earned the extra thalers. As for your money, how much do I owe you?"

"Fifty-three thalers, four groschen, and five pennies."

"And the half of this is—"

"Twenty-seven thalers, fourteen groschen, two and a half pennies," said John, with a loudly beating heart and an expectant smile. He saw that the purse was well filled, and that his master was taking out the gold pieces.

"I will give you, including your extra guldens, twenty-eight thalers, fourteen groschen, two and a half pennies." said Pollnitz, laying some gold pieces on the table. "Here are six louis d'or, or thirty-six thalers in gold to reckon up; the fractions you claim are beneath my dignity. Take them, John, they are yours."

John uttered a cry of rapture, and sprang forward with outstretched hands to seize his gold. He had succeeded in gathering up three louis d'or, when the powerful hand of the baron seized him and held him back.

"John," said he, "I read in your wild, disordered countenance that you are a spendthrift, and this gold, which you have earned honestly, will soon be wasted in boundless follies. It is my duty, as your conscientious master and friend, to prevent this. I cannot allow you to take all of this money—only one-half; only three louis d'or. I will put the other three with the sum which I still hold, and take care of it for you."

With an appearance of firm principle and piety, he grasped the three louis d'or upon which the sighing John fixed his tearful eyes.

"And now, what is the amount," said Pollnitz, gravely, "which you have placed in my hands for safe-keeping?"

"Thirty-two thalers, fourteen groschen, and five pennies," said John; "and then the fractions from the three louis d'ors makes a thaler and eight groschen."

"Pitiful miser! You dare to reckon fractions against your master, who, in his magnanimity, has just presented, you with gold! This is a meanness which merits exemplary punishment."



CHAPTER II. TRENCK ON HIS WAY TO PRISON.

Before the palace of the Duke of Wurtemberg, in Coslin, stood the light, open carriage in which the duke was accustomed to make excursions, when inclined to carry the reins himself, and enjoy freedom and the pure, fresh air, without etiquette and ceremony.

To-day, however, the carriage was not intended for an ordinary excursion, but to transport a prisoner. This prisoner was no other than the unhappy Frederick Trenck, whom the cowardly republic of Dantzic, terrified at the menaces of the king, had delivered up to the Prussian police.

The intelligence of his unhappy fate flew like a herald before him. He was guarded by twelve hussars, and the sad procession was received everywhere throughout the journey with kindly sympathy. All exerted themselves to give undoubted proofs of pity and consideration. Even the officers in command, who sat by him in the carriage, and who were changed at every station, treated him as a loved comrade in arms, and not as a state prisoner.

But while all sighed and trembled for him, Trenck alone was gay; his countenance alone was calm and courageous. Not one moment, during the three days he passed in the palace of the duke, was his youthful and handsome face clouded by a single shadow. Not one moment did that happy, cheerful manner, by which he won all hearts, desert him. At the table, he was the brightest and wittiest; his amusing narratives, anecdotes, and droll ideas made not only the duke, but the duchess and her maids, laugh merrily. In the afternoons, in the saloon of the duchess, he astonished and enraptured the whole court circle by improvising upon any given theme, and by the tasteful and artistic manner in which he sang the national ballads he had learned on his journeys through Italy, Germany, and Russia. At other times, he conversed with the duke upon philosophy and state policy; and he was amazed at the varied information and wisdom of this young man, who seemed an experienced soldier and an adroit diplomat, a profound statesman, and a learned historian. By his dazzling talents, he not only interested but enchained his listeners.

The duke felt sadly that it was not possible to retain the prisoner longer in Coslin. Three days of rest was the utmost that could be granted Trenck, without exciting suspicion. He sighed, as he told Trenck that his duty required of him to send him further on his dark journey.

Trenck received this announcement with perfect composure, with calm self-possession. He took leave of the duke and duchess, and thanked them gayly for their gracious reception.

"I hope that my imprisonment will be of short duration, and then your highness will, I trust, allow me to return to you, and offer the thanks of a free man."

"May we soon meet again!" said the duke, and he looked searchingly upon Trenck, as if he wished to read his innermost thoughts. "As soon as you are free, come to me. I will not forsake you, no matter under what circumstances you obtain your freedom."

Had Trenck observed the last emphatic words of the duke, and did he understand their meaning? The duke did not know. No wink of the eyelid, not the slightest sign, gave evidence that Trenck had noticed their significance. He bowed smilingly, left the room with a firm step, and entered the carriage.

The duke called back the ordnance officer who was to conduct him to the next station.

"You have not forgotten my command?" said he.

"No, your highness, I have not forgotten; and obedience is a joyful duty, which I will perform punctually."

"You will repeat this command, in my name, to the officer at the next station, and commission him to have it repeated at every station where my regiments are quartered. Every one shall give Trenck an opportunity to escape, but silently; no word must be spoken to him on the subject. It must depend upon him to make use of the most favorable moment. My intentions toward him must be understood by him without explanations. He who is so unfortunate as to allow the prisoner to escape, can only be blamed for carelessness in duty. Upon me alone will rest the responsibility to the King of Prussia. You shall proceed but five or six miles each day; at this rate of travel it will take four days to reach the last barracks of my soldiers, and almost the entire journey lies through dark, thick woods, and solitary highways. Now go, and may God be with you!"

The duke stepped to the window to see Trenck depart, and to give him a last greeting.

"Well, if he is not at liberty in the next few days, it will surely not be my fault," murmured Duke Ferdinand, "and Princess Amelia cannot reproach me."

As Trenck drove from the gate, Duke Ferdinand turned thoughtfully away. He was, against his will, oppressed by sad presentiments. For Trenck, this journey over the highways in the light, open carriage, was actual enjoyment. He inhaled joyfully the pure, warm, summer air—his eyes rested with rapture upon the waving corn-fields, and the blooming, fragrant meadows through which they passed. With gay shouts and songs he seemed to rival the lark as she winged her way into the clouds above him. He was innocent, careless, and happy as a child. The world of Nature had been shut out from him in the dark, close carriage which had brought him to Coslin; she greeted him now with glad smiles and gay adorning. It seemed as if she were decorated for him with her most odorous blossoms and most glorious sunshine—as if she sent her softest breeze to kiss his cheek and whisper love—greetings in his ear. With upturned, dreamy glance, he followed the graceful movements of the pure, white clouds, and the rapid flight of the birds. Trenck was so happy in even this appearance of freedom, that he mistook it for liberty.

The carriage rolled slowly over the sandy highways, and now entered a wood. The sweet odor of the fir-trees drew from Trenck a cry of rapture. He had felt the heat of the sun to be oppressive, and he now laid his head back under the shadow of the thick trees with a feeling of gladness.

"It will take us some hours to get through this forest," said the ordnance officer, "It is one of the thickest woods in this region, and the terror of the police. The escaped prisoner who succeeds in concealing himself here, may defy discovery. It is impossible to pursue him in these dark, tangled woods, and a few hours conduct him to the sea-shore, where there are ever small fishing-boats ready to receive the fugitive and place him safely upon some passing ship. But excuse me, sir! the sun has been blazing down so hotly upon my head that I feel thoroughly wearied, and will follow the example of my coachman. Look! he is fast asleep, and the horses are moving on of their own good-will. Good-night, Baron Trenck."

He closed his eyes, and in a short time his loud snores and the nodding of his head from side to side gave assurance that he, also, was locked in slumber.

Profound stillness reigned around. Trenck gave himself wholly to the enjoyment of the moment. The peaceful stillness of the forest, interrupted only at intervals by the snorting of the horses, the sleepy chatter of the birds among the dark green branches, and the soft rustling and whispering of the trees, filled him with delight.

"It is clear," he said to himself, "that this arrest in Dantzic was only a manoeuvre to terrify me. I rejected the proposal of the Prussian ambassador in Vienna, to return to Berlin and enter again the Prussian service, so the king wishes to punish and frighten me. This is a jest—a comedy!—which the king is carrying on at my expense. If I were really regarded as a deserter, as a prisoner for the crime of high treason, no officer would dare to guard me so carelessly. In the beginning, I was harshly treated, in order to alarm and deceive me, and truly those twelve silent hussars, continually surrounding the closed carriage, had rather a melancholy aspect, and I confess I was imposed upon. But the mask has fallen, and I see behind the smiling, good-humored face of the king. He loved me truly once, and was as kind as a father. The old love has awakened and spoken in my favor. Frederick wishes to have me again in Berlin—that is all; and he knows well that I can be of service to him. He who has his spies everywhere, knows that no one else can give him such definite information as to the intentions and plans of Russia as I can—that no one knows so certainly what the preparations for war, now going on throughout the whole of Russia, signify. Yes, yes: so it is! Frederick will have me again in his service; he knows of my intimacy with the all-powerful wife of Bestuchef; that I am in constant correspondence with her, and in this way informed of all the plans of the Russian government. [Footnote: Frederick Trenck's "Memoirs."] Possibly, the king intends to send me as a secret ambassador to St. Petersburg! That would, indeed, open a career to me, and bring me exalted honor, and perhaps make that event possible which has heretofore only floated before my dazzled sight like a dream-picture. Oh, Amelia! noblest, most constant of women! could the dreams of our youth be realized? If fate, softened by your tears and your heroic courage, would at last unite you with him you have so fondly and so truly loved! Misled by youth, presumption, and levity, I have sometimes trifled with my most holy remembrances, sometimes seemed unfaithful; but my love to you has never failed; I have worn it as a talisman about my heart. I have ever worshipped you, I have ever hoped in you, and I will believe in you always, if I doubt and despair of all others. Oh, Amelia! protecting angel of my life! perhaps I may now return to you. I shall see you again, look once more into your beauteous eyes, kneel humbly before you, and receive absolution for my sins. They were but sins of the flesh, my soul had no part in them. I will return to you, and live free, honored, and happy by your side. I know this by the gracious reception of the duke; I know it by the careless manner in which I am guarded. Before the officer went to sleep he told me how securely a fugitive could hide himself in these woods. I, however, have no necessity to hide myself; no misfortune hovers over me, honor and gladness beckon me on. I will not be so foolish as to fly; life opens to me new and flowery paths, greets me with laughing hopes." [Footnote: "Frederick Trenck's Memoirs."]

Wholly occupied with these thoughts, Trenck leaned back in the carriage and gave himself up to bright dreams of the future. Slowly the horses moved through the deep, white sand, which made the roll of the wheels noiseless, and effaced instantaneously the footprints of men. The officer still slept, the coachman had dropped the reins, and nodded here and there as if intoxicated. The wood was drear and empty; no human dwelling, no human face was seen. Had Trenck wished to escape, one spring from the low, open carriage; a hundred hasty steps would have brought him to a thicket where discovery was impossible; the carriage would have rolled on quietly, and when the sleepers aroused themselves, they would have had no idea of the direction Trenck had taken. The loose and rolling sand would not have retained his footprints, and the whispering trees would not have betrayed him.

Trenck would not fly; he was full of romance, faith, and hope; his sanguine temper painted his future in enchanting colors. No, he would not flee, he had faith in his star. Life's earnest tragedy had yet for him a smiling face, and life's bitter truths seemed alluring visions. No, the king only wished to try him; he wished to see if he could frighten him into an effort to escape; he gave him the opportunity for flight, but if he made use of it, he would be lost forever in the eyes of Frederick, and his prospects utterly destroyed. If he bravely suffered the chance of escape to pass by, and arrived in Berlin, to all appearance a prisoner, the king would have the agreeable task of undeceiving him, and Trenck would have shown conclusively that he had faith in the king's magnanimity, and gave himself up to him without fear. He would have proved also that his conscience was clear, and that, without flattering, he could yield himself to the judgment of the king. No, Trenck would not fly. In Berlin, liberty, love, and Amelia awaited him; he would lose all this by flight; it would all remain his if he did not allow himself to be enticed by the flattering goddess, opportunity, who now beckoned and nodded smilingly from behind every tree and every thicket. Trenck withstood these enticements during three long days; with careless indifference he passed slowly on through this lonely region; in his arrogant blindness and self-confidence he did not observe the careworn and anxious looks of the officers who conducted him; he did not hear or understand the low, hesitating insinuations they dared to speak.

"This is your last resting-point," said the officer who had conducted him from the last station. "You will remain here this afternoon, and early to-morrow morning the cavalry officer Von Halber will conduct you to Berlin, where the last barracks of our regiment are to be found; from that point the infantry garrison will take charge of your further transportation."

"I shall not make their duties difficult," said Trenck, gayly. "You see I am a good-natured prisoner; no Argus eyes are necessary, as I have no intention to flee."

The officer gazed into his calm, smiling face with amazement, and then stepped out with the officer Von Halber, into whose house they had now entered, to make known his doubts and apprehensions.

"Perhaps the opportunities which have been offered him have not been sufficiently manifest," said Von Halber. "Perhaps he has not regarded them as safe, and he fears a failure. In that he is right; a vain attempt at flight would be much more prejudicial to him than to yield himself without opposition. Well, I will see that he has now a sure chance to escape, and you may believe he will be cunning enough to take advantage of it. You may say this much to his highness the duke."

"But do not forget that the duke commanded us not to betray his intention to prepare these opportunities by a single word. This course would compromise the duke and all of us."

"I understand perfectly," said Von Halber; "I will speak eloquently by deeds, and not with words."

True to this intention, Von Halber, after having partaken of a gay dinner with Trenck and several officers, left his house, accompanied by all his servants.

"The horses must be exercised," said he; and, as he was unmarried, no one remained in the house but Trenck.

"You will be my house-guard for several hours," said the officer to Trenck, who was standing at the door as he drove off. "I hope no one will come to disturb your solitude. My officers all accompany me, and I have no acquaintance in this little village. You will be entirely alone, and if, on my return, I find that you have disappeared in mist and fog, I shall believe that ennui has extinguished you—reduced you to a bodiless nothing."

"Well, I think he must have understood that," said Von Halber, as he dashed down the street, followed by his staff. "He must be blind and deaf if he does not flee from the fate before him."

Trenck, alas, had not understood. He believed in no danger, and did not, therefore, see the necessity for flight. He found this quiet, lonely house inexpressibly wearisome. He wandered through the rooms, seeking some object of interest, or some book which would enable him to pass the tedious hours. The cavalry officer was a gallant and experienced soldier, but he was no scholar, and had nothing to do with books. Trenck's search was in vain. Discontented and restless, he wandered about, and at last entered the little court which led to the stable. A welcome sound fell on his ears, and made his heart beat joyfully; with rapid steps he entered the stable. Two splendid horses stood in the stalls, snorting and stamping impatiently; they were evidently riding-horses, for near them hung saddles and bridles. Their nostrils dilated proudly as they threw their heads back to breathe the fresh air which rushed in at the open door. It appeared to Trenck that their flashing eyes were pleading to him for liberty and action.

"Poor beasts," said he, stepping forward, and patting and caressing them—"poor beasts, you also pine for liberty, and hope for my assistance; but I cannot, I dare not aid you. Like you, I also am a prisoner, and like you also, a prisoner to my will. If you would use your strength, one movement of your powerful muscles would tear your bonds asunder, and your feet would bear you swiftly like wings through the air. If I would use the present opportunity, which beckons and smiles upon me, it would be only necessary to spring upon your back and dash off into God's fair and lovely world. We would reach our goal, we would be free, but we would both be lost; we would be recaptured, and would bitterly repent our short dream of self-acquired freedom. It is better for us both that we remain as we are; bound, not with chains laid upon our bodies, but by wisdom and discretion."

So saying, he smoothed tenderly the glossy throat of the gallant steed, whose joyful neigh filled his heart with an inexplicable melancholy.

"I must leave you," murmured he, shudderingly; "your lusty neighing intoxicates my senses, and reminds me of green fields and fragrant meadows; of the broad highways, and the glad feeling of liberty which one enjoys when flying through the world on the back of a gallant steed. No! No! I dare no longer look upon you; all my wisdom and discretion might melt away, and I might be allured to seek for myself that freedom which I must receive alone at the hands of the king, in Berlin."

With hasty steps Trenck left the stable and returned to the house, where he stretched himself upon the sofa, and gave himself up to dreamland. It was twilight when Halber returned from his long ride.

"All is quiet and peaceful," said he, as he entered the house. "The bird has flown, this time; he found the opportunity favorable."

With a contented smile, he entered his room, but his expression changed suddenly, and his trembling lips muttered a soldier's curse. There lay Trenck in peaceful slumber; his handsome, youthful face was bright and free from care, and those must be sweet dreams which floated around him, for he smiled in his sleep.

"Poor fellow!" said Von Halber, shaking his head; "he must be mad, or struck with blindness, and cannot see the yawning abyss at his feet." He awakened Trenck, and asked him how he had amused himself, during the long hours of solitude.

"I looked through all your house, and then entered the stables and gladdened my heart by the sight of your beautiful horses."

"Thunder and lightning! You have then seen my horses," cried Halber, thoroughly provoked. "Did no wish arise in your heart to mount one and seek your liberty?"

Frederick Trenck smiled. "The wish, indeed, arose in my heart, but I suppressed it manfully. Do you not see, dear Halber, that it would be unthankful and unknightly to reward in this cowardly and contemptible way the magnanimous confidence you have shown me."

"Truly, you are an honorable gentleman," cried Halber, greatly touched; "I had not thought of that. It would not have been well to flee from my house."

"To-morrow he will fly," thought the good-natured soldier, "when once more alone—to-morrow, and the opportunity shall not be wanting."

Von Halber left his house early in the morning to conduct his prisoner to Berlin. No one accompanied them; no one but the coachman, who sat upon the box and never looked behind him.

Their path led through a thick wood. Von Halber entertained the prisoner as the lieutenant had done who conducted Trenck the day he left Coslin. He called his attention to the denseness of the forest, and spoke of the many fugitives who had concealed themselves there till pursuit was abandoned. He then invited Trenck to get down and walk with him, near the carriage.

As Trenck accepted the invitation, and strolled along by his side in careless indifference, Von Halber suddenly observed that the ground was covered with mushrooms.

"Let us gather a few," said he; "the young wife of one of my friends understands how to make a glorious dish of them, and if I take her a large collection, she will consider it a kind attention. Let us take our hats and handkerchiefs, and fill them. You will take the right path into the wood, and I the left. In one hour we will meet here again."

Without waiting for an answer, the good Halber turned to the left in the wood, and was lost in the thicket. In an hour he returned to the carriage, and found Trenck smilingly awaiting him.

He turned pale, and with an expression of exasperation, he exclaimed:

"You have not then lost yourself in the woods?"

"I have not lost myself," said Trenck, quietly; "and I have gathered a quantity of beautiful mushrooms."

Trenck handed him his handkerchief, filled with small, round mushrooms. Halber threw them with a sort of despair into the carriage, and then, without saying one word, he mounted and nodded to Trenck to follow him.

"And now let us be off," said he, shortly. "Coachman, drive on!"

He leaned back in the carriage, and with frowning brow he gazed up into the heavens.

Slowly the carriage rolled through the sand, and it seemed as if the panting, creeping horses shrank back from reaching their goal, the boundary-line of the Wurtembergian dragoons. Trenck had followed his companion's example, and leaned back in the carriage. Halber was gloomy and filled with dark forebodings. Trenck was gay and unembarrassed; not the slightest trace of care or mistrust could be read in his features.

They moved onward silently. The air was fresh and pure, the heavens clear; but a dark cloud was round about the path of this dazzled, blinded young officer. The birds sang of it on the green boughs, hut Trenck would not understand them. They sang of liberty and gladness; they called to him to follow their example, and fly far from the haunts of men! The dark wood echoed Fly! fly! in powerful organ-tones, but Trenck took them for the holy hymns of God's peaceful, sleeping world. He heard not the trees, as with warning voices they bowed down and murmured, Flee! flee! Come under our shadow, we will conceal you till the danger be overpast' Flee! flee! Misfortune, like a cruel vulture, is floating over you—already her fangs are extended to grasp you. The desert winds, in wild haste rushed by and covering this poor child of sorrow with clouds of dust, whispered in his ear, Fly! fly!—follow my example and rush madly backward! Misfortune advances to meet you, and a river of tears flows down the path you are blindly following. Turn your head and flee, before this broad, deep stream overtakes you. The creaking wheels seemed to sob out. Fly! fly! we are rolling you onward to a dark and eternal prison! Do you not hear the clashing of chains? Do you not see the open grave at your feet? These are your chains!—that is your grave, already prepared for the living, glowing heart! Fly! then, fly! You are yet free to choose. The clouds which swayed on over the heavens, traced in purple and gold the warning words, Fly! fly! or you look upon us for the last time! Upon the anxious face of Von Halber was also to be seen, Fly now, it is high time! I see the end of the wood!—I see the first houses of Boslin. Fly! then, fly!—it is high time! Alas, Trenck's eyes were blinded, and his ears were filled with dust.

"Those whom demons will destroy, they first strike with blindness." Trenck's evil genius had blinded his eyes—his destruction was sure. There remained no hope of escape. The carriage had reached the end of the wood and rolled now over the chausse to Boslin.

But what means this great crowd before the stately house which is decorated with the Prussian arms? What means this troop of soldiers who with stern, frowning brows, surround the dark coach with the closed windows?

"We are in Boslin," said Von Halber, pointing toward the group of soldiers. "That is the post-house, and, as you see, we are expected."

For the first time Trenck was pale, and horror was written in his face. "I am lost!" stammered he, completely overcome, and sinking back into the carriage he cast a wild, despairing glance around him, and seized the arm of Halber with a powerful hand.

"Be merciful, sir! oh, be merciful! Let us move more slowly. Turn back, oh, turn back! just to the entrance of the wood—only to the entrance of the street!"

"You see that is impossible," said Von Halber, sadly. "We are recognized; if we turn back now, they will welcome us with bullets."

"It were far better for me to die," murmured Trenck, "than to enter that dark prison—that open grave!"

"Alas! you would not fly—you would not understand me. I gave you many opportunities, but you would not avail yourself of them."

"I was mad, mad!" cried Trenck. "I had confidence in myself—I had faith in my good star—but the curse of my evil genius has overtaken me. Oh, my God! I am lost, lost! All my hopes were deceptive—the king is my irreconcilable enemy, and he will revenge my past life on my future! I have this knowledge too late. Oh, Halber! go slowly, slowly; I must give you my last testament. Mark well what I say—these are the last words of a man who is more to be pitied than the dying. It is a small service which I ask of you, but my existence depends upon it: Go quickly to the Duke of Wurtemberg and say this to him: 'Frederick von Trenck sends Duke Ferdinand his last greeting! He is a prisoner, and in death's extremity. Will the duke take pity on him, and convey this news to her whom he knows to be Trenck's friend? Tell her Trenck is a prisoner, and hopes only in her!' Will you swear to me to do this?"

"I swear it," said Von Halber, deeply moved.

The carriage stopped. Von Halber sprang down and greeted the officer who was to take charge of Trenck. The soldiers placed themselves on both sides of the coach, and the door was opened. Trenck cast a last despairing, imploring glance to heaven, then, with a firm step, approached the open coach. In the act of entering, he turned once more to the officer Von Halber, whose friendly eyes were darkened with tears.

"You will not forget, sir!"

These simply, sadly-spoken words, breaking the solemn, imposing silence, made an impression upon the hearts of even the stern soldiers around them.

"I will not forget," said Von Halber, solemnly.

Trenck bowed and entered the coach. The officer followed him and closed the door. Slowly, like a funeral procession, the coach moved on. Von Halber gazed after him sadly.

"He is right, he is more to be pitied than the dying. I will hasten to fulfil his last testament."

Eight days later, the Princess Amelia received through the hands of Pollnitz a letter from Duke Ferdinand. As she read it, she uttered a cry of anguish, and sank insensible upon the floor. The duke's letter contained these words:

"All my efforts were in vain; he would not fly, would not believe in his danger. In the casemates of Magdeburg sits a poor prisoner, whose last words directed to me were these: 'Say to her whom you know that I am a prisoner, and hope only in her.'"



CHAPTER III. PRINCE HENRY AND HIS WIFE.

Prince Henry walked restlessly backward and forward in his study; his brow was stern, and a strange fire flamed in his eye. He felt greatly agitated and oppressed, and scarcely knew the cause himself. Nothing had happened to disturb his equanimity and give occasion for his wayward mood. The outside world wore its accustomed gay and festal aspect. To-day, as indeed almost every day since the prince resided at Rheinsberg, preparations were being made for a gay entertainment. A country fete was to be given in the woods near the palace, and all the guests were to appear as shepherds and shepherdesses.

Prince Henry had withdrawn to his own room to assume the tasteful costume which had been prepared for him; but he seemed to have entirely forgotten his purpose. The tailor and the friseur awaited him in vain in his dressing-room; he forgot their existence. He paced his room with rapid steps, and his tightly-compressed lips opened from time to time to utter a few broken, disconnected words.

Of what was the prince thinking? He did not know, or he would not confess it to himself. Perhaps he dared not look down deep into his heart and comprehend the new feelings and new wishes which were struggling there.

At times he stood still, and looked with a wild, rapt expression into the heavens, as if they alone could answer the mysterious questions his soul was whispering to him; then passed on with his hand pressed on his brow to control or restrain the thoughts which agitated him. He did not hear a light tap upon the door, he did not see it open, and his most intimate and dearest friend, Count Kalkreuth enter, dressed in the full costume of a shepherd.

Count Kalkreuth stood still, and did nothing to call the attention of the prince to his presence. He remained at the door; his face was also dark and troubled, and the glance which he fixed upon Prince Henry was almost one of hatred.

The prince turned, and the count's expression changed instantly; he stepped gayly forward and said:

"Your royal highness sees my astonishment at finding you lost in such deep thought, and your toilet not even commenced. I stand like Lot's blessed wife, turned to stone upon your threshold! Have you forgotten, my prince, that you commanded us all to be ready punctually at four o'clock? The castle clock is at this moment striking four. The ladies and gentlemen will now assemble in the music-saloon, as you directed, and you, prince, are not yet in costume."

"It is true," said Prince Henry, somewhat embarrassed, "I had forgotten; but I will hasten to make good my fault."

He stepped slowly, and with head bowed down, toward his dressing-room; at the door, he stood and looked back at the count.

"You are already in costume, my friend," said he, noticing for the first time the fantastic dress of the count. "Truly, this style becomes you marvellously; your bright-colored satin jacket shows your fine proportions as advantageously as your captain's uniform. But what means this scarf which you wear upon your shoulder?"

"These are the colors of my shepherdess," said the count, with a constrained smile.

"Who is your shepherdess?"

"Your highness asks that, when you yourself selected her!" said Kalkreuth, astonished.

"Yes it is true; I forgot," said the prince. "The princess, my wife, is your shepherdess. Well, I sincerely hope you may find her highness more gay and gracious than she was to me this morning, and that you may see the rare beauty of this fair rose, of which I only feel the thorns!"

While the prince was speaking, the count became deathly pale, and looked at him with painful distrust.

"It is true," he replied, "the princess is cold and reserved toward her husband. Without doubt, this is the result of a determination to meet your wishes fully, and to remain clearly within the boundary which your highness at the time of your marriage, more than a year ago, plainly marked out for her. The princess knows, perhaps too well, that her husband is wholly indifferent to her beauty and her expression, and therefore feels herself at liberty to yield to each changeful mood without ceremony in your presence."

"You are right," said Prince Henry, sadly, "she is wholly indifferent to me, and I have told her so. We will speak no more of it. What, indeed, are the moods of the princess to me? I will dress, go to the music-saloon, and ask for forgiveness in my name for my delay. I will soon be ready; I will seek the princess in her apartments, and we will join you in a few moments."

The prince bowed and left the room. Kalkreuth gazed after him thoughtfully and anxious.

"His manner is unaccountably strange to-day," whispered he. "Has he, perhaps, any suspicion; and these apparently artless questions and remarks this distraction and forgetfulness—But no, no! it is impossible, he can know nothing—no one has betrayed me. It is the anguish of my conscience which makes me fearful; this suffering I must bear, it is the penalty I pay for my great happiness." The count sighed deeply and withdrew.

The prince completed his toilet, and sought the princess in her apartment, in the other wing of the castle. With hasty steps he passed through the corridors; his countenance was anxious and expectant, his eyes were glowing and impatient, haste marked every movement; he held in his hand a costly bouquet of white camelias. When he reached the anteroom of the princess he became pallid, and leaned for a moment, trembling and gasping for breath, against the wall; he soon, however, by a strong effort, controlled himself, entered, and commanded the servant to announce him.

The Princess Wilhelmina received her husband with a stiff, ceremonious courtesy, which, in its courtly etiquette, did not correspond with the costume she had assumed. The proud and stately princess was transformed into an enchanting, lovely shepherdess. It was, indeed, difficult to decide if the princess were more beautiful in her splendid court toilet, adorned with diamonds, and wearing on her high, clear brow a sparkling diadem, proud and conscious of her beauty and her triumphs; or now, in this artistic costume, in which she was less imposing, but more enchanting and more gracious.

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