Frederick The Great and His Family
by L. Muhlbach
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"Sirs," said he, firmly; "the fate of to-day is decided. All that now remains for us to do, is to deprive the enemy of the advantages of this victory. Collect our scattered regiments, and lead the army through the defile of Plainan, back to Nimburg. There we will decide what is best to do. I go on before you, and wish no one to accompany me."

He turned his horse, rode slowly down the hill, then took the road leading to Nimburg. Lost in deep thought, he continued his way. He was followed by his faithful body-guard, who, at a sign from Prince von Dessau, had hastened after him. A few flying officers and sergeants joined him. These were the followers of Prussia's hero-king; but they were suddenly scattered. A soldier galloped up to them, and stated that he had just encountered a regiment of the enemy's hussars, who were pursuing them. There was a cry of terror throughout the guards, and then, as if with one accord, putting spurs to their horses, they fled in wild disorder.

The king continued his way, slowly and quietly—slowly and quietly a few of his guard followed him. In funereal silence they passed through the defile of Plainan, and reached at last Nimburg, the king's appointed place of meeting.

The king now reined in his horse, and, looking back, he became aware of his followers. Beckoning to his adjutant, he ordered him to get quarters for the soldiers, and then to inform the generals that he awaited them.

"Where?" asked the astonished adjutant.

"Here!" said the king, pointing to a fallen pump, a few steps from where he stood. He dismounted, and, when the adjutant had disappeared, he threw himself upon the old pump, and rested his head upon his cane. Thus he remained a long while, thinking painfully of the occurrences of the past day. He remembered that he had appointed the site of to-day's battle, without listening to the warnings of his experienced generals, and that Moritz von Dessau had implored him to put his army in another position, before attacking the enemy. He remembered the prince saying to him—"It would be impossible for an attack from this point to succeed," and his entreating him to draw back and change his position. He remembered, also, his riding up to the prince, with his naked sword, and inquiring, in a threatening tone, "whether he meant to obey or not?" And Prince Moritz von Dessau had obeyed; his prophecy had been fulfilled—the battle was lost.

"Ah," whispered the king, "how poor, how weak is man! The happiness of an hour intoxicates him, and he defies his coming fate; he should know that happiness is a fleeting guest, but that misfortune is the constant companion of man. I have allowed myself to be deceived by fortune, and she has turned against me. Fortune is a woman, and I am not gallant. The fickle goddess watches carefully, and makes good use of my faults. It was a great fault to dare, with twenty-three battalions of infantry, to attack an army of sixty thousand men, half of whom are cavalry. Ah! my great ancestor, Frederick William, what have you to say of your poor nephew, who, with his little host, is fighting against Russia, Austria, a large part of Germany, and a hundred thousand French troops? Will you assist me? Will you be my guardian angel, praying for me above? Yes, yes! you will assist me if I assist myself, and do not give way to my faults. Had I been killed in to-day's battle, I would now be in a safe haven, beyond the reach of storms. But now I must swim still farther into the stormy sea, until at last I find in the grave that rest and peace which I shall never attain in this world. This is a consoling thought; it shall rouse me again to life. I am glad I did not die to-day. I can still repair my fault. All the responsibility will be thrown on me; it will be said, the battle would have been won, but for Frederick's obstinacy. But let this be! It is a necessary consequence that a warrior should suffer for the faults of his followers. Through me this battle was lost, and in history it will go down thus to future generations. But many a victory shall still be recorded, and as the defeat was owing to me, so shall the victory also come through me alone. I alone will bear upon my shoulders Prussia's honor, Prussia's glory. It lies now, with me, bleeding on the ground. It shall be lifted and sustained by me alone!" And raising his burning eyes heavenward, he seemed to see these future victories branded upon the skies. Gradually the inspiration left his countenance, giving place to deep thought. He had delivered his funeral oration to the lost battle, and now gave his thought to his future victories. He drew lines and figures upon the sand with his cane. It may have been a drawing of the last or a sketch of the next battle.

The king was so absorbed in this occupation, that he did not perceive his generals, who, having reached Nimburg with the wreck of the army, hastened to the place of appointment, and were now assembled at a respectful distance from him.

Frederick continued to sketch. The generals gazed at him in silence, anxiously awaiting the moment when he would arouse himself. He suddenly looked up, and did not seem surprised to see them; lifting his hat slightly, he greeted them, and rose from his lowly seat.

"It is well, sirs, that you are here," said he. "We must now make our preparations for the future; for our enemies, having beaten us once, will think us no longer capable of resisting them, and will fall upon us with renewed courage. We will convince them, gentlemen, that though we are stricken to the ground for a moment, we are not crushed, not dead. We will convince them that we still live to tear from them the laurels they have taken from us this day. Prince von Dessau, hasten immediately to our army at Prague. I command the Prince of Prussia to raise the siege there at once. He shall call all his generals together, and hold council with them as to the most suitable mode of retreat. He shall determine with them how the siege can best be raised; to avoid, as far as possible, the appearance of flying from their enemy. With gay music they should leave their posts; they should not all leave together, but in groups, so as to mislead the enemy. In small companies should also the retreat through Bohemia to Lausitz be made, for it would be difficult for a large army to pass this mountainous district; but they should remain as near together as possible, choosing the widest, most convenient roads. These are the orders you are to deliver my brother, the Prince of Prussia, and his generals. I give to the prince the command of this portion of my army, and require of him to hasten to Lausitz. I will join him in Bautzen. And then, gentlemen, we will seek an occasion to repay our enemies for their civilities of to-day."

The generals had listened to him with breathless attention; and as he now dismissed them, with a glorious smile upon his lips, they repeated unanimously his last words, "We will repay our enemies for their civilities."

As if inspired by this shout, the soldiers, lying about the market place, at a slight distance from the king, broke into a loud hurrah, and shouted, "Long live our king!"

The king turned slowly toward them, but when he saw all that remained of his noble army, he became pale, and pressed his lips tightly together, as if to suppress a cry of horror. Then advancing, followed by his generals, to where his weary, wounded soldiers were lying, he said:

"Children, is this all that is left of you?"

"Yes, father, we are the last," said an old gray-headed officer, standing before the king. "There were many thousands of us, now there are two hundred and fifty."

"Two hundred and fifty!" repeated the king, with a bitter smile.

"And it was not our fault," continued the old officer, "that we did not fall with the rest. We fought as bravely as they; but Death did not want us. Perhaps he thought it best to leave a few of us, to guard our king. We all think so! Some were left to repay those abominable Saxons for their to-day's work."

"And why alone the Saxons?" asked the king.

"Because it was those infamous Saxon troops that hewed down our regiment. They fell upon us like devils, and striking their cursed swords into us, cried out, 'This is for Striegau!'"

"Ah! you see," cried the king, "that while beating you, they could but think of the many times you had conquered them."

"They shall think of this again, father," said another soldier, raising himself with great pain from the ground. "Wait until our wounds have healed, and we will repay them with interest."

"You are wounded, Henry?" said the king.

"Yes, your majesty, in the arm."

"And old Klaus?"

"Is dead!"

"And Fritz Verder?"

"Dead! He lies with the others upon the battle-field. There are seven hundred and fifty of us in heaven, and only two hundred and fifty on earth. But those above, as well as below, still cry—'Long live our king!'"

"Long live our king," cried they all, rising.

The king made no reply; his eye passed from one to the other pale, exhausted countenance, and an inexpressible sorrow overcame him.

"Dead!" murmured he, "my faithful guards dead! seven hundred and fifty of my choice men have fallen." And overpowered by his emotion, the king did not force back the tears welling to his eyes. They stole softly down his cheek, and Frederick was not ashamed. He did not blush, because his warriors had seen him weep.

"Children," cried the old officer, after a pause, and wiping the tears from his weary eyes, "from now on it will be glorious to die, for when we are dead, our king weeps for us."


"The king comes! The king is entering Bautzen!"

This announcement brought pale terror to the hearts of the Prince of Prussia and his generals. They who had heretofore sprang joyfully to meet the call of their king, now trembled at his glance. They must now present to him the sad and despoiled remnant of that great army which, under the command of the Prince Augustus William of Prussia, had made the retreat from Lausitz.

It had, indeed, been the most fearful retreat ever attempted by the Prussian troops. It had cost them more than the bloodiest battle, and they had suffered more from hardships during the last few days than ever before during a whole campaign. They had marched over narrow, stony, rugged mountain-paths, between hills and horrible abysses, sometimes climbing upward, sometimes descending. Thousands died from exhaustion; thousands pressed backward, crushed by those in the front; thousands, forced onward by those in the rear, had stumbled and fallen into fathomless caverns, which lay at the foot of these mountain passes, yawning like open graves. If a wheel broke, the wagon was burned; there was no time for repairs, and if left in the path, it interrupted the passage of the flying army. At last, in order to facilitate the flight, the provision-wagons were burned, and the bread divided amongst the soldiers; the equipages and pontoon-wagons were also burned. Exhausted by their unusual exertions, beside themselves from pain and unheard-of suffering the whole army was seized with a death-panic.

The soldiers had lost not only all faith in their good fortune, but all faith in their leaders. Thousands deserted; thousands fled to escape death, which seemed to mock at and beckon to them from every pointed rock and every dark cavern. [Footnote: Warner's "Campaigns of Frederick the Great".]

While one part of the army deserted or died of hunger or exhaustion, another part fought with an intrenched enemy, for three long days, in the narrow pass of Gabel, under the command of General von Puttkammer. They fought like heroes, but were at last obliged to surrender, with two thousand men and seven cannon. Utterly broken by these losses, dead and dying from starvation and weariness, the army drew off toward Zittau.

There was but one thought which sustained the wearied, and lent strength to the starving. In Zittau were immense magazines of grain. In Zittau, the rich Saxon city, which throughout all Saxony was called the gold-mine, they dared hope for rest and opportunity to recover.

Before this unhappy army reached Zittau, Duke Charles of Lothringen was in advance of them. With wanton cruelty he reduced the industrious, open city to ashes, destroyed the Prussian magazines, and, with his army, trampled upon the ruins and the corpses of this unfortified town. The Prussians had now lost their last hope. They encamped by Lodau, and after a short rest, advanced to Bautzen, which city the king had appointed for the reunion of the two army corps. And now, one day after the arrival of this miserable remnant of an army, the king entered the camp of Bautzen.

The unhappy moment was at hand; they must now meet the stern eye of the king. These were bold, heroic generals—the Prince of Prussia, Von Bevern, Von Wurtemberg, Von Dessau, Winterfeldt, Goltz, Ziethen, Krokow, and Schmettau. Bravely, triumphantly had they fought in all previous battles, but now, amidst defeat and disaster, they must meet the eye of the king. This was more dangerous to them than the most deadly battle, and they shrank appalled before this fearful encounter.

Silently, and frowning darkly, the generals mounted their horses, and rode down the highway—the Prince of Prussia in advance, and by his side the Duke of Wurtemberg. And now, in front of them, in an open space, they saw the king. He was on his horse, and looked sternly toward them. The Prince of Prussia trembled, and, involuntarily checking his horse, he stooped with a weary smile toward the duke.

"I have a feeling," said he, in low tones, "as if my fate was advancing threateningly, in the form of my brother. It glowers upon me with a glance which announces that I am condemned to death. Look, duke! my sentence is written in the raging eye of the king."

"The king's wrath will not fall upon you alone," whispered the duke, "but upon us all. This is a wild tempest, which threatens us all in the same moment with destruction."

"A tempest? yes! the thunder rolls over all, but the stroke of lightning falls only upon me; and I—I am the one," said the prince, solemnly; "I am the sacrificial offering chosen by the king, with which he will seek to propitiate the frowning gods of destiny."

"God forbid!" said the duke, sadly. "The king will be just! He will see that these frightful misfortunes were unavoidable; that we are innocent. He will listen to our explanations; he—"

"I tell you," said Augustus William, "he will demand a subject for his scorn. I shall be this sacrifice! Well, so let it be; I am willing to be offered up for my fatherland! Let us go onward, duke." He drew his bridle and they rode forward.

The king remained immovable in the same spot, his proud head erect, and his icy glance fixed steadily upon them.

As they drew nearer, and could no longer doubt that he recognized them, the king moved slowly round, and turned his back upon them. They were greatly embarrassed—undecided what to do; they looked to the prince, in the hope that he would advance and announce himself to the king, and compel him to notice them. Prince Augustus William did not advance; he stood firm and immovable, as if moulded in brass. No muscle of his face moved, but his pale and tightly-compressed lips slightly trembled. The generals followed his example. Silently, immovably they stood behind him, their eyes fixed upon the king, who remained still with his back turned to them.

There was a long and painful pause; not a word was spoken. Those who were arranging the tents for the king's troops were moving actively about, and now they drew near with their measuring-line, exactly to the spot upon which the king stood. He was forced to take another position; he turned his horse, and stood exactly in front of his generals. His countenance was not calm and cold, it flashed with rage. The Prince of Prussia had the courage to brave his anger, and, drawing near, he bowed profoundly.

The king did not answer his greeting, and, indeed, appeared not to see him. A black cloud was on his brow, and it became still blacker as the other generals dared to approach and salute him. Suddenly, in that tone of voice he was accustomed to use only upon the field of battle the king called out:

"Goltz, come here!"

The general advanced from the circle, with a firm military bearing, and approached the king.

"Goltz," said he, loudly, and looking as if he wished to crush the unhappy general—"Goltz, tell my brother and the other generals that if I did justice, I would take off their heads—Winterfeldt only excepted." [Footnote: The king's own words—"Characteristics of the Seven Years' War."]

A murmur of discontent was heard amongst the generals, and every eye was fixed angrily upon Winterfeldt. He turned deadly pale, and looked down, as if ashamed of the exception the king had made, and dared not gaze upon those whose guilt he shared, and whose punishment he escaped.

The king fixed his eye so piercingly upon the murmurers, that they felt his glance upon them, without daring to meet it. Only the Prince of Prussia drew still nearer to the king.

"Sire," said he, in a calm voice, "my duty demands that I should give your majesty a list of the army. Will you be graciously pleased to accept it from me?" He took the paper from his pocket, and handed it to the king, who snatched it from him hastily, and turned his back again upon them.

"Withdraw, messieurs," said he, "your presence oppresses me; you remind me of the disgraceful defeat my army has suffered, through the guilt of its leaders."

"Sire," said the Duke of Severn, "will your majesty listen to our justification?"

"Justification!" cried the king, with flashing eyes—"if this unparalleled disgrace which you have all brought upon my army could be justified, I might pity; but I must curse you. Go, sir duke, I will not look upon you." And springing with youthful activity from his horse, he entered his tent.

The generals were alone. They looked upon each other's death-like faces with suppressed scorn upon their trembling lips, and tears of rage in their eyes.

"Shall we bear this shame silently?" said one.

"Shall we allow ourselves to be scolded like schoolboys?" said another. "Shall we suffer foul accusations to be brought against us, and no opportunity granted for justification?"

As the murmur of the generals became louder, the Prince of Prussia, who had been standing aside in deep thought, came forward. An expression of calm resolve was written upon his noble features.

"No, gentlemen, you shall not suffer this. I undertake to justify you to the king."

"Do not attempt it, prince," said the Duke of Wurteinberg; "at least, not in this hour. The king will crush you in his rage!"

Prince Augustus William cast his eyes to heaven, saying, "I am in the hands of God. I would rather die by the king's rage than to endure his contempt. The king made me commander-in-chief of this army corps, and accuses me of failure in duty! He shall hear my defence. As a Hohenzollern, as a general, as his brother, I demand the right to make my report." He advanced hastily toward the king's tent, but the Duke of Severn held him back.

"Will your royal highness allow me to accompany you?" said he. "The king's scorn fell upon me personally, and I also demand a hearing."

"No one shall accompany me," said the prince, solemnly. "None but God shall be witness to what we have to say. Wait for me, therefore, gentlemen. I shall soon return." He bowed and entered the king's tent.

"Announce me to his majesty," he said to the guard, who returned immediately and opened the inner door of the tent.

The prince entered with a firm step and head erect—the door closed behind him—the two brothers were alone.

The king sat upon a camp-stool by a little table covered with papers. He held in his hand the paper which the prince had given him, and appeared to be reading it eagerly. The prince stood for some time silently at the door; at last, weary of waiting, he entered the tent and stepped directly before the king.

King Frederick arose and fixed his great eyes scornfully upon his brother. "I gave you an army corps of thirty-six thousand men, and you bring me back sixteen thousand! Where have you left my soldiers?"

"They lie in the narrow pass of Gabel—in the chasms of the Erz mountains—they have died of hunger and thirst, and they have deserted," said Prince Augustus, solemnly.

"And you dare to tell me this?" said the king.

"I dare to tell you what fate has brought upon us."

"Fate?" cried the king, shrugging his shoulders. "Fate is ever the excuse for the crimes, and follies of man. Your obstinacy and your disobedience are what you call fate. Prince Augustus William of Prussia, how did you dare to act contrary to my instructions, and to conduct this retreat through the mountains, and not by the highways?"

"Your majesty gave me no instructions," said the prince, eagerly. "Your majesty commanded me to take counsel of my generals in every movement, and I did so. I should not have retreated through the mountains had they not advised it in consideration of the real approach of the enemy. But I do not say this to excuse myself, or to accuse them, but to prove to my brother the king that it was unjust to place me under the guardianship and direction of his generals—unjust to place a mentor by my side who is my enemy—who hates me and seeks my destruction!"

"Do you dare to reproach me?" said the king, in a thundering voice.

"In this hour I dare all," said the prince, steadily. "This is a decisive hour between you and me, my brother. It is a strife of intellect, of spirit; and although I know I am too weak to conquer, I will at least fall with honor—with my sword in my hand! I shall fall, but you shall not consider me a cowardly mute who does not dare to defend himself. I know that I have been slandered to you; I know that those whom you honor with your friendship are spies upon my every word and look, and report to your majesty what they hear and what they do not hear—what is true and what is not true. I know I have been robbed of my brother's love, but I will not consent to the loss of his respect and consideration. Sire, Winterfeldt wrote to you; I know that he did so. If he wrote that I was obstinate and self-willed, and alone answerable for the disasters of the army, [Footnote: Warner's "Campaigns of Frederick the Great."] I call God to witness that he slandered me. Your majesty speaks of instructions. I received none. I would remind you that I entreated you in vain to give me partial instructions—that I wrote down your majesty's verbally expressed opinions, and implored you to add to them your approval, or written remarks and explanations. [Footnote: "Recueil des Lettres du Roi de Prusse et du Prince de Prusse."] Your majesty returned the paper without signature or remark. I alone should bear the responsibility, and if this sad retreat should end disastrously, the whole world might say, 'This was the work of the Prince of Prussia!' Look you, my brother, I know, I feel this. The lost battle of Collin demanded an offering, and I was predestined for the sacrifice."

The king uttered a cry of rage, and advanced against the prince without outstretched arm, but suddenly recovered his self-control, folded his arms, and stared coldly at the prince.

"I have listened quietly to you, hoping always I might possibly find in your words a glimmer of excuse for your blasphemous deeds. I find none. Have you finished, or have you still something to say?"

"I have this to say, sire: I demand that my conduct be investigated."

"Woe to you if I do this—woe to you if I listen to your bold, insane demand!" Stepping before the prince, and fixing his eye upon him, he said: "You have acted not like a Prussian, not like a general of Prussian troops, but like an enemy—like an ally of Austria and of France, who sought only for means to destroy the Prussian army and put an end to this war. I know that it never had your approval, because directed against your beloved France."

"Ah, my brother, you distrust me!" cried the prince, fiercely.

"Yes, I distrust you," said the king, eagerly—"I distrust you, and you merit it! You have just said that this was an important hour between us. Well, then, it shall be so. I accept this strife of words which you have the audacity to offer me. This was not cautiously, not wisely done, on your part. You yourself have armed me—my weapons are sharp. I have suffered much during my whole life because of you, my brother. This began even in the days of our childhood, and will, as it appears, follow me to the grave. You were the favorite of my father, and I remember well that he one day proposed to me to relinquish the throne in your favor. I withstood him. I did not pay for this opposition with my life, but with my life's happiness. I will not account this against you; perhaps you were innocent; but it appears to me you have not forgotten our father's wish—that you look upon me as a usurper, who has robbed you of your throne. You act as if you had the right to measure and criticise all my undertakings, and to make yourself a judge over me. I undertook this war with the conviction of my right and my royal duty. You dared to protest against it. You dared, in the presence of my generals, to speak of your claims and the claims of your children! Oh, sir, you were already thinking of the time when you would lay my head in the vault and walk over my dead body to a throne! In that hour you stood no longer by my side as my subject, as my brother, as my friend, but as an ambitious prince royal, who hates his king who keeps him from his crown, and who is hated of the king because he reminds him of his death! And during no moment since then could you have denied this hatred."

"Oh, my brother!" said the prince, painfully, "your own hatred has blinded you and made you unjust. I have always loved and admired you, even when I did not approve of your undertakings."

"And yet it was you, you alone," said the king, hastily, "who dared, after the fatal disaster of Collin, to utter loud cries of grief and despair. When my courier brought to you and the generals and the army the mournful news of the lost battle of Collin, in place of strengthening and encouraging my warriors—consoling and inspiring them with confidence in their royal leader—you dared, in the presence of all my generals, to cry and whimper, not over destiny, not over the inconstancy of fortune, but over the conduct of your brother and your king. In place of justifying me to my silent and cast-down generals, you accused me boldly, and made my misfortune my crime." [Footnote: Betzow's "Characteristics of Frederick."]

"It is true," murmured the prince, "distress and grief overcame me and robbed me of my reason."

"Even because you were so wise and bold a warrior," said the king, with a cold smile, "I wished to give you an opportunity to prove your genius to my whole people, whose sovereign you will one day be. Because you wept and clamored before say generals over my faults as a leader, I wished you to prove to them that you were capable of commanding and bringing good out of evil. I trusted you with my third army corps—I expected it to retreat safely and surely under your command, after I had almost led it to destruction in a bloody, disastrous battle. I gave you the opportunity to make yourself a god in the eyes of my soldiers, a glorious model to my generals. What use have you made of these advantages? You bring me crippled, hungry, desperate soldiers! You bring me generals covered with shame, and blushing over their guilt. If I should deal with them as they deserved, I would give them over to a courtmartial and they would be condemned."

"And still I am not conscious of any fault," said the prince. "I dare to say fate was against me, and that I am wholly innocent."

"And I repeat to you your conduct has been that of an ally of France, who wished destruction to the Prussians, and to close this hated war!"

"If that were so, I would be a traitor!" said the prince.

"And who will dare say that you are not?" cried the king. "Who will say that he who, while I was engaged in war with France, exchanged the most tender letters with the former French ambassador Valori, and complained to this Frenchman of the obstinacy of his brother, who is also his king? Who will say that this man is not a traitor? Was it not known to you, my brother, when you wrote to Valori, that the French had already invaded my Westphalian provinces? It was known to you—and yet you dared to write to a Frenchman that you were convinced of the decline of my kingdom. And yet you dared to bring charges against me, and to say: 'Ce seront mes enfants qui seront les victimes des fautes passees.' Did you not know that it was the Marquise de Pompadour who gave occasion for this war? You knew it, and yet you commissioned Valori to entreat the marquise to have her portrait painted for you! Now, sir, I ask you, in all candor, if these are not the acts of a traitor?"

The prince made a passionate exclamation, and laid his hand upon his sword.

"You dare to dishonor me, sire!"

"I dare it! I dare to tell you the truth," said the king, solemnly.

"Take your hand from your sword—the truth is an enemy that you cannot contend against with weapons, but with deeds, and your conduct testifies against you."

The prince breathed heavily, and turned deadly pale.

"The contest is over. Your majesty fights against me with weapons which I do not possess, and would not dare use, and against which I cannot defend myself. You open my private letters, and from the harmless confidences of friendship you make a traitor of me. To call me a traitor, is to degrade me. I am dishonored; and with a dishonored culprit your majesty cannot contend. I will therefore withdraw. No one will see the wounds you have inflicted—which have pierced my heart; but, I tell you, my brother, I will die of these wounds."

"And in heaven, I suppose, you will accuse me as your murderer?" said the king, ironically.

"No! in heaven I will pray for my fatherland," said Prince Augustus William, mildly. He bowed respectfully, turned, and left the room.

Without stood the generals, maintaining a solemn silence. When they saw the prince appear at the door of the king's tent, so pale, so suffering, a prophetic warning filled every breast. It seemed to them that a dying man approached them, and with inexpressible sorrow held out his hand for a last farewell.

"It is passed! The battle is ended!"

At this moment the adjutant of the king left the tent, and approached the generals, who stood near the prince.

"His majesty commands you to see that the soldiers of the third army corps are kept, as far as it is possible, entirely separated from the rest of the army. You will immediately convey the order to the king's army, that all intercourse between them and the third army corps is forbidden, as this corps seems to have lost all courage and all honorable feeling."

[Footnote: Kustrin, "Characteristics from the Life of Frederick the Great"]

"The king's commands shall be obeyed," said the generals, coldly.

The prince was completely overcome by this last blow, and leaned for a moment upon the arm of the Duke of Wurtemberg; he soon recovered himself, and turning to General Schultz, he said:

"Go and bring me, from the king, the watchword of the third army corps."

General Schultz withdrew, but returned quickly from the king's tent, with a dark frown upon his face.

"Well," said the prince, "have you the watchword?"

"No, your royal highness! The king says, that for cowards and fugitives he has no watchword, and he commanded me to go to the devil."

A murmur of rage was heard amongst the generals. The prince let his glance wander from one to the other of these dark faces.

"Gentlemen," said he, "the tempest will soon be over, and the sun will shine again for you; I am the only cloud now round about you, and I will withdraw."

"What! will you desert us?" said the generals, sadly.

"Do I not belong to the third army corps?" said the prince, with a painful smile. "It may be that the king will command his soldiers to have no intercourse with the commander of the third army corps, and you can understand that I prefer to anticipate him."

"Will your highness allow me to accompany you?" said the Duke of Bevern. "I also will not allow myself to be despised and railed at without any opportunity accorded me of explanation."

The prince shook his head.

"You must remain, general; the army cannot spare its brave leaders. I, however—I must go. I will be the peace-offering for you all. I am sure this will content my brother the king."

"Allow me, at least, to accompany your royal highness," said General Schmettau. "The king commanded me, through his adjutant, to withdraw, and never dare to present myself before his eyes again. I also must leave the army."

The prince gave him his hand.

"You are, then, a welcome companion. Let us ride on to Bautzen, where we can refresh ourselves, and then go on to Dresden."

"Will you really leave us?" said the Duke of Wurtemberg, sadly.

"Would you have me wait for still further degradation?" said the prince. "No, it is enough—more than I can bear.—My horse! General, let us mount."

The two horses were brought forward. The generals placed themselves in front, to take leave of their former commander-in-chief, with all military honor.

Prince Augustus rode slowly on. Everywhere he met sad faces and eyes filled with tears. Tears indeed were in his own eyes, but he would not weep—not now; there was time enough for tears. He could weep during the sad remainder of his life. He forced his voice to be firm, and, waving his sword to the generals, as a last greeting, he said:

"I hope no one of you will hold me for a coward. I am forced by the king to leave the army." He turned his horse, and, followed by Schmettau, with head erect, he moved slowly off.

"Now, by Heaven," cried Ziethen, "he shall not leave the camp in this contemptible way! I will give him a suitable guard. Let the king rage; I can stand it!" He nodded to an officer. "Listen, Von Wendt, take half a company for a guard, and follow immediately behind the prince, to Bautzen."

A few moments later, an officer sprang along the highway to Bautzen, accompanied by his hussars; they soon overtook the prince, who greeted them kindly.

"Schmettau," said he, "Death avoided me so long as I was on the battle-field, now I bear him along with me; and thus must it be, till the pale king of terrors carries me to another world." He turned his eyes away from the Prussian camp, and rode slowly to Bautzen.


A few hours later a courier rode into the camp. He came from Bautzen, and had a letter from the Prince of Prussia to his royal brother. The king was still in his tent, busily engaged in looking over the army list. He took his brother's letter, and, opening it with evident anger, read:

"Your majesty's commands, and the incidents of our last meeting, have taught me that I have lost my honor and my reputation. As I have nothing to reproach myself with, this causes me much sorrow, but no humiliation. I am convinced that I was not actuated by obstinacy, and that I did not follow the advice of incompetent men. All the generals in the third army corps commanded by me, will testify to this. I consider it necessary to request your majesty to have my conduct investigated. Your majesty would thereby do me a kindness. I have, therefore, no right to count upon it. My health is much impaired since the war. I have withdrawn to Bautzen for its restoration, and have requested the Duke of Bevern to give you all the information relative to the army. In spite of my unhappiness, my daily prayer is, and shall be, that every undertaking of your majesty shall be crowned with glory."

"Your unhappy brother, AUGUSTUS WILLIAM."

The king read this letter several times; then taking up his pen, he wrote hastily: "MY DEAR BROTHER: Your improper conduct has greatly disturbed my equanimity. Not my enemies, but your want of principle, has caused all these disasters. My generals are not to be excused. They have either given you bad advice, or have agreed too readily to your foolish plans. The one is as bad as the other. Your ears are accustomed to flattery, my brother. Daun did not flatter you, and you now see the consequences. But little hope remains. I shall commence the attack—if we do not conquer, we shall die together. I do not bewail the loss of your heart, but rather your utter incapacity and want of judgment. I tell you this plainly, for with one who has perhaps but a few days to live, there is no use of deception. I wish you more happiness than has fallen to my lot, and hope that your misfortunes and disappointments may teach you to act with more wisdom and judgment where matters of importance are concerned. Many of the painful events I now look forward to, I ascribe to you. You and your children will suffer from their results much more than myself. Be assured that I have always loved you, and will continue to do so until my death. Your brother, FREDERICK."

When the king had finished his letter, he read it over. "I cannot take back one word I have said," murmured he, softly. "Were he not my brother, he should be court-martialled. But history shall not have to relate more than one such occurrence of a Hohenzollern. Enough family dramas and tragedies have occurred in my reign to furnish scandalous material for future generations; I will not add to them. My brother can withdraw quietly from these scenes—he can pray while we fight—he can cultivate the peaceful arts while we are upon the battle-field, offering up bloody sacrifices to Mars. Perhaps we will succeed in gaining an honorable peace for Prussia, and then Augustus William may be a better king than I have been. Prussia still clings to me—she needs me."

He sealed the letter, then calling his valet, ordered him to send it off immediately. As he disappeared, the king's countenance became once more clouded and disturbed. "Life makes a man very poor," said he, softly; "the longer he lives, the more solitary he becomes. How rich I was when I began life—how rich when I mounted the throne! Possessing many friends, sisters, brothers, and many charming illusions. The world belonged to me then, with all its joy, all its glory. And now? Where are these friends? Lost to me, either by death or inconstancy! Where are my brothers, sisters? Their hearts have turned from me—their love has grown cold! Where are my joyous illusions? Scattered to the winds! Alas, I am now undeceived, and if the whole world seemed at one time to belong to me, that little spot of earth, paid for with blood and anguish, is no longer mine. Every illusion but one has been torn from my heart—the thirst for glory still remains. I have bid adieu to love, to happiness, but I still believe in fame, and must at least have one laurel-wreath upon my coffin. May death then strike me at his will—the sooner the better, before my heart has become perfectly hardened! And I feel that time is not far distant."

The curtain of his tent was at this moment drawn back, and his secretary, Le Catt, whose acquaintance he had made during his visit to Amsterdam, entered with several letters in his hand. The king advanced eagerly to meet him.

"Well, Le Catt," said he, "has the courier come from Berlin?"

"Yes, sire, he has come," said Le Catt, sighing, "but I fear he brings no good news."

"No good news? Has the enemy forced his way so far?"

"An enemy has, sire; but not the one your majesty is thinking of!"

"How know you what enemy I mean?" said the king, impatiently. "Is it the Russians, or the French?"

"None of your mortal enemies, sire; and the mourning which now reigns in Berlin and will soon reign throughout Prussia, is caused by no enemy of your majesty but by Providence."

The king looked at him earnestly for a moment. "I understand," said he. "Some one of my family has died; is it not so?"

"Yes, sire; your—"

"Be still!" said the king, sternly. "I do not yet wish to know—I have not the strength to bear it—wait a while."

Folding his hands upon his breast, he paced up and down his tent several times, laboring hard for breath. He stood still, and leaning against the window, said: "Now, Le Catt, I can endure any thing; speak—who is it?"

"Sire, it is her majesty."

"My wife?" interrupted the king.

"No, sire; her majesty—"

"My mother!" cried the king, in a heart-broken voice. "My mother!"

He stood thus for a while, with his hands before his face, his form bowed down and trembling like an oak swayed by a storm. Tears escaped through his hands and fell slowly to the ground—groans of agony were wrung from him.

Le Catt could stand it no longer; he approached the king and ventured to say a few consoling words.

"Do not seek to comfort me," said the king; "you do not know what inexpressible pain this loss has caused me."

"Yes, sire, I well know," said Le Catt, "for the queen-mother was the noblest, most gracious princess that ever lived. I can therefore understand your sorrow."

"No, you cannot," said the king, raising his pale, tearful countenance. "You carry your sorrow upon your lips—I upon my heart. The queen was the best of women, and my whole land may well mourn for her. It will not be forced grief, for every one who had the happiness to approach loved and admired her for her many virtues—for her great kindness. And I feel, I know, that sorrow for the ruin of Prussia has caused her death. She was too noble a princess, too tender a mother, to outlive Prussia's destruction and her son's misfortune."

"But your majesty knows that the queen was suffering from an incurable disease."

"It is true I know it," said the king, sinking slowly upon his camp-stool. "I feared that I might never see her again, and still this news comes totally unexpected."

"Your majesty will overcome this great grief as a philosopher, a hero."

"Ah, my friend," said the king, sadly, "philosophy is a solace in past and future sufferings, but is utterly powerless for present grief; I feel my heart and strength fail. For the last two years I have resembled a tottering wall. Family misfortune, secret pain, public sorrow, continual disappointment, these have been my nourishment. What is there wanting to make of me another Job? If I wish to survive these distressing circumstances, I must become a stoic. For I cannot bring the philosophy of Epicurus to bear upon my great sorrows. And still," added the king, the dejected look disappearing from his countenance, and giving place to one of energy and determination, "still, I will not be overcome. Were all the elements to combine against me, I will not fall beneath them."

"Ah!" cried Le Catt, "once more is my king the hero, who will not only overcome his grief, but also his enemies."

"God grant that you are a true prophet!" cried the king, earnestly. "This is a great era; the next few months will be decisive for Prussia: I will restore her or die beneath her ruins!"

"You will restore!" cried Le Catt, with enthusiasm.

"And when I have made Prussia great," said the king, relapsing into his former gloom, "my mother will not be here to rejoice with me. Each one of my home—returning soldiers will have some one—a mother, a sweetheart—to meet them with tears of joy, to greet them tenderly. I shall be alone."

"Your people will advance, gladly, to meet you; they will greet you with tears of joy."

"Ah, yes," cried the king, with a bitter smile, "they will advance to meet me joyfully; but, were I to die the same day, they would cry: 'Le roi est mort—vive le roi!' and would greet my successor with equal delight. There is nothing personal in the love of a people to its sovereign; they love not in me the man, but the king. But my mother loved not the king the warrior; she loved her son with her whole heart, and God knows he had but that one heart to trust in. Leave me, Le Catt. Seek not to console me. Soon the king will gain the mastery. Now I am but the son, who wishes to be alone with the mother. Go." Fearing he had wounded Le Catt, he pressed his hand tenderly.

Le Catt raised it to his lips and covered it with kisses and tears. The king withdrew it gently, and signed to him to leave the room.

Now he was alone—alone with his pain, with his grief—alone with his mother. And, truly, during this hour he was but the loving son; his every thought was of his mother; he conversed with her, he wept over her; but, as his sorrow became more subdued, he took his flute from the table, the one constant companion of his life. As the soft, sweet tones were wafted through the tent, he seemed to hear his mother whispering words of love to him, to feel her hallowed kiss upon his brow. And now he was king once more. As he heard without the sound of trumpets, the beating of drums, the loud shouts and hurrahs of his soldiers, a new fire burned in his eyes, he laid his flute aside, and listened for a time to the joyous shouts; then raising his right hand, he said: "Farewell, mother; you died out of despair for my defeat at Collin, but I swear to you I will revenge your death and my defeat tenfold upon my enemies when I stand before them again in battle array. Hear me, spirit of my mother, and give to your son your blessing!"


The Queen Maria Josephine of Poland, Princess elect of Saxony, paced her room violently; and with deep emotion and painful anxiety she listened to every noise which interrupted the stillness that surrounded her.

"If he should be discovered," she murmured softly, "should this letter be found, all is betrayed, and I am lost."

She shuddered, and even the paint could not conceal her sudden pallor. She soon raised herself proudly erect, and her eyes resumed their usual calm expression.

"Bah! lost," she said, shrugging her shoulders, "who will dare to seize a queen and condemn her for fighting for her honor and her country? Only the insolent and arrogant Margrave of Brandenburg could have the temerity to insult a queen and a woman in my person, and he, thank God, is crushed and will never be able to rally. But where is Schonberg," she said, uneasily; "if he does not come to-day, all is lost—all!"

Loud voices in the antechamber interrupted her; she listened in breathless expectation. "It is he," she murmured, "it is Schonberg; the officer on guard forbids his entrance. What insults I endure! I am treated as a prisoner in my own castle; I am even denied the right of seeing my own servants."

She ceased, and listened again; the voices became louder and more violent. "He is, apparently, speaking so loudly to attract my attention," she said; "I will go to his relief." She crossed the chamber hastily, and opened the door leading into the anteroom. "What means this noise?" she said, angrily; "how dare you be guilty of such unseemly conduct?"

Silence followed this question. The two gentlemen, who had just exchanged such angry words, were dumb, approached the queen, and bowed profoundly.

"I beg your majesty's forgiveness," said the Prussian officer, "my commander ordered me this morning to admit no one until he had seen your highness himself."

"I wished to announce to your majesty," said Schonberg, "that I had returned from my estate, and desired the favor of being again received into your service; this gentleman refused to allow me to enter."

The queen turned upon the officer with an expression of contempt. "Am I a prisoner, sir, allowed to see no one but my jailer?"

"Your majesty favors me with a question I am unable to answer," said the officer; "I am a soldier; and must obey the command of those above me. I know not whether your majesty is a prisoner."

The queen reddened; she felt that, in the excitement of passion, she had forgotten her rank and dignity.

"It is true," she said, "it is not for you to answer this question. I must demand a reply from your king. You are but a machine, moved by foreign power. I think you will not dare to keep my servants from me;" and, without allowing the confused officer time to answer, she turned to the chamberlain, Baron von Schonberg. "I am delighted to receive you again; you shall resume your service immediately, as you desire it; follow me to my room, I have an important letter to dictate to you."

She stepped over the sill of the door, and gave the chamberlain a sign to follow her; as he approached the door, however, the officer stepped before him.

"Forgive me," he said, in a pleading tone; "I have strict orders to admit only those who usually surround the queen; do you understand, sir, to admit no one to her majesty this morning? I can make no exceptions."

"I belong to those who usually surround her majesty," said the chamberlain; "I have had an eight days' leave of absence; that cannot make an exception against me."

"Baron von Schonberg, did I not order you to resume your service, and to follow me?" said the queen; "why do you not enter?"

"Your majesty sees that I am prevented."

"Mercy, your highness, mercy," pleaded the officer, "I know I am seemingly wanting in reverence toward the holy person of the queen, but I cannot act otherwise." Maria Josephine looked proud and commanding; her eyes flashed angrily, and, with a loud voice, she exclaimed:

"I command you to allow my servant to enter! do you hear? command it as a sovereign!"

The officer stepped back.

"Go in, sir, I have not the courage to withstand this command."

For a moment the queen's pale face crimsoned with joy, but she suppressed her emotion immediately and motioned the chamberlain, with proud dignity, to follow.

Schonberg passed the officer, and entered the room.

"At last," sighed Maria Josephine, as the door closed behind him—"at last this torture is at an end, and I breathe again. Speak, baron—your news!" Exhausted, she fell upon the sofa, and gazed breathlessly at the chamberlain.

"Before speaking, with your majesty's permission, I will see if we are entirely alone—if no one is listening."

He stepped softly around the room, and searched behind the curtains and furniture; then went to the door, and looked through the key-hole, to see if any one was without. He saw the officer sitting motionless, at the other end of the anteroom. Satisfied with this, he was about to open the other door, but the queen called him back.

"That is unnecessary; no one can be concealed there. Now let me hear quickly what you have to say."

"I have many things to tell you," said the chamberlain, triumphantly. "All our undertakings have been most successful. We may hope they will be crowned with the most desirable results."

"Praise to God and the holy saints!" murmured the queen. "Speak, speak! tell me all!"

"After I left your majesty, eight days ago, I went first to my estate, which, as your highness knows, lies near Bautzen, and in the immediate neighborhood of the King of Prussia's camp. Disguised as a peasant, with my little flock of sheep, I entered the Prussian camp unchallenged. I wish your majesty could have had the satisfaction of seeing what I saw. Your royal heart would have been gladdened at the sight of those starved, exhausted, and desperate troops which Prince Augustus William led back from Zittau to his august brother, the great Frederick. You would have acknowledged with delight that such discouraged, demoralized troops could no longer withstand the splendid and victorious army of the confederates. The battle of Collin dug their graves, and the pass of Gabol made their coffins."

"And the Saxon dragoons decided the battle of Collin?" said the queen, with sparkling eyes. "Go on! tell me more. Did you speak with the king's chamberlain, Anderson?"

"Yes, your majesty, and I found him faithful. I gave him the diamond ring which your majesty was so gracious as to send him. He was delighted with this costly present, and swore he would let no opportunity pass of serving you. I told him how he might safely write to me. He will inform us of all that takes place in the Prussian camp, and of all the important movements of the king."

"You are convinced of his integrity?" said the queen. "Entirely convinced; he loves money, and serves us for his own interests. He will be ready for any act, if we balance it with gold." The eyes of the queen sparkled, and her countenance had a threatening and passionate expression; her Spanish blood was moved, and rushed in fever streams to her heart. "Is he ready for any act?" she repeated. "Perhaps we could make a decisive trial of his willingness; but of that, later—continue."

"I learned from Anderson, that King Frederick intends to force the confederates to another battle. When I left the camp, the king had distributed rations to his army, and was to leave the next morning, to encounter Daun and Radasdy." The queen laughed mockingly. "He then thirsts for a second Collin. As his grave is open and his coffin made, he wishes to get the Austrian grave-diggers to bury him. Well, we will not deny him this last service of love."

"After leaving the Prussian camp," continued the chamberlain, "I threw off my disguise, and hastened with post-horses to where Daun and Radasdy were quartered."

"And you saw them?"

"I saw them; I was fortunate enough to be able to deliver your majesty's letters to General Radasdy, and I can now give your highness the general's answer, and some other important papers." He drew a small etui from his bosom, out of which he took a penknife; then taking his hat, ripped off the gold galloon, cut the rim, and drew a paper from between the fur and the inner lining, which he handed to the queen, with a profound bow. While the queen was occupied breaking the seal and reading the letter, the chamberlain was busily engaged in restoring his hat to its former proportions. The queen's pale face brightened more and more as she read; with joy and triumph she glanced from the paper at the chamberlain, and said, with a brilliant smile: "You are really a messenger of peace; a time will come when I can better reward your faithful services than by words. I beg you to open that door, and call Father Guarini." The chamberlain obeyed her command, and Father Guarini entered. He greeted Schonberg with a gracious nod, then fixed his dark and piercing eyes upon the queen, who arose humbly to receive him. "I hope, venerable father, that you have heard the news, brought by our faithful baron?" said the queen, in a soft voice. "I have heard!" replied the Jesuit father, solemnly; "I have heard that God has delivered these heretics into our hands. We are the chosen people to free the world of these blasphemous adversaries of the Church."

"What is your meaning?" asked the queen, with apparent surprise. Father Guarini looked at her significantly; a cruel smile played upon his thin, colorless lips. "My daughter, we understand each other fully," said he, in a soft, low voice; "soul speaks to soul in such a crisis as this. When the baron handed you this letter, when he told you that the chamberlain of the King of Prussia was faithful to our holy cause, ready for any act you might approve, a door separated us; I could not look upon your countenance, and yet, my daughter, I read the secret thoughts of your heart. I saw your eyes sparkle, your lips smile, and understood your holy purpose." The queen trembled, and stepped shudderingly back. "Holy father," she murmured, "have compassion with a sinful thought, which I suppressed quickly, and which I will never listen to again."

"Why do you call it a sinful thought?" said the priest, with a diabolical smile. "All weapons are blessed and made holy by God, when employed against heretics. The poison of the hemlock and the opium-plant is part of God's holy creation. He made them as weapons for the just against the unjust, and, when used for pious purposes, they are sanctified means of grace. Be not ashamed of your great thought, my daughter; if Anderson is faithful, as the chamberlain asserts, with God's help we will soon be able to bring this war to a close, and crush this unbelieving horde."

"Still, I pray you still, my father," murmured the queen; "my whole soul shudders at this frightful suggestion; let us not speak of this again, let us forget it."

"Let us not speak of it, but let us not forget it," murmured the priest, with a malicious smile. The queen said hastily: "Father, such fearful weapons are not necessary for the destruction of our enemies. Frederick of Prussia can never rally—he stands alone, has not a single ally in Germany. This is the important news brought me by the baron, which I now communicate to you. We have succeeded in a great enterprise; a mighty work has been completed by us and our allies in the cloister of Zeven. This has been achieved by our ambassador, the pious Duke of Lynar, and we will triumph in a glittering and bloodless victory. Every German prince who has heretofore stood by the traitor and heretic, Frederick of Prussia, has, at the command and menace of the emperor, fallen off from him, and dare no longer lend him help or influence. The men of Hesse, of Brunswick, of Gotha, who were allied to Prussia, and who were just from fighting with the Hanoverians against Soubise and Richelieu, have laid down their arms and returned home. They have solemnly bound themselves in the convention of the cloister of Zeven never again to bear arms for the heretical and rebellious King of Prussia, who is excommunicated by the German emperor and the holy Pope at Rome. The contest between the Hanoverians and our French ally is ended, and a cessation of hostilities determined upon. Unconditional peace is indeed indefinitely declared. The Hanoverians remain inactive on the Elbe; the Duke of Cumberland, leader of the English troops, has returned to Loudon, [Footnote: When the Duke of Cumberland returned to Loudon, after the convention at the cloister of Zeven, his father, whose favorite he had been up to this time, received him with great coldness, and said before all his ministers: "Here is my son who has ruined me and disgraced himself." The duke had to resign all his honors, and died a few years later, despised by the whole nation.] and his adversary, the Duke de Richelieu, to Paris. The French troops now in Germany, under the command of the Prince Soubise, have no other enemy to attack than Frederick, the natural enemy of us all. The King of Prussia, who stands alone, has no other ally."

"No ally but himself," interrupted a loud, powerful voice. The queen turned and saw General von Fink, the Prussian commander of Dresden. He had opened the door noiselessly, and had heard the queen's last words. Maria Josephine paled with anger, and stepping forward to meet him, with head erect, she looked as if she would trample him under foot. "Sir," she said, scarcely able to control her passion, and at the same time trembling with terror, "who gave you permission to enter this room?"

"My sovereign, the King of Prussia," said the general, placing himself before her with stiff military courtesy. "I come not from idle curiosity, but on important business, and your majesty must pardon me if you find it disagreeable."

He made a sign toward the door, and immediately an officer and four soldiers appeared at the threshold. The commander pointed to the chamberlain, Von Schonberg, who, pale and trembling, endeavored to conceal himself behind the wide dress of the queen.

"Arrest that man, and take him off!" said the general.

Schonberg uttered a cry of alarm, and disappeared behind the satin robe of the queen.

"What, sir! you dare to force yourself into my room, and to arrest my servant?" cried the queen, angrily.

The general shrugged his shoulders.

"We are living in perilous times, and every man must defend himself from his enemies. 'Tis true your chamberlain sold some good sheep to our army, but it appears to have been a fraudulent transaction; for this reason, I arrest him, and send him to Berlin for trial. There it will be difficult for him to carry on his correspondence with the traitorous chamberlain of the king."

The general ceased speaking, and gazing at the pale, disturbed group before him, enjoyed their horror and consternation for a moment.

The queen was greatly embarrassed, and pressed her lips firmly together to suppress a cry of terror. By her side stood Father Guarini, whose face had assumed a livid pallor, and whose dark eyes were fixed in bitter hatred upon the general. Behind the queen the terrified face of the chamberlain was seen, his insignificant figure being entirely concealed by the queen's robes.

"Baron von Schonberg," said General Fink, "I order you to come forward and to submit to your arrest. Out of respect to her majesty the queen, you will be quiet. I should be unfortunately forced to act with violence if you do not yield without a struggle."

The chamberlain advanced with dignity, bowing profoundly to the queen. He said, in a trembling voice:

"I must beg your majesty graciously to dismiss me from your service. I must obey this gentlemen, who, as it appears, is master in the castle."

The queen was for a moment speechless; her voice was lost, and her eyes were filled with tears. She said, after a long pause:

"Will you rob me of my faithful servant? You dragged Baroness Bruhl and Countess Ogliva to Warsaw, and now you will deprive me of the services of this tried and constant friend."

"I obey the commands of my king," said the general, "and I believe your majesty must see the justice of this arrest. Had the baron been captured in camp, he would have been shot at once as a spy. I arrest him here and send him to Berlin, that he may defend himself against the charge of being a traitor."

The queen breathed heavily, she had regained her composure; turning to the chamberlain she said, in a voice softer and kinder than had ever been heard from her before:

"Go, my friend, and when your loyalty is called treason by out enemies, do not forget that your queen is thinking of you with gratitude, and praying for you to our heavenly Father."

She offered the chamberlain her small, white hand; he sank upon his knees, and covered it with his tears and kisses.

"Go, my son," said Father Guarini, laying his hand upon Schonberg's head—"go; the Lord has chosen you as a blessed martyr for our just and holy cause. The Lord will be with you, and the holy mother Church will pray for you."

"I go, my father—may it be granted me to die for my queen!"

Turning to the general, he delivered up his sword rather tragically, and declared himself ready to depart.

The commandant signed to the officer.

"Conduct this gentleman to the carriage, and send him with a sufficient guard to Berlin."


The queen looked sadly after the chamberlain; when he had disappeared, she turned to the general.

"I now hope," said she, "that you have fulfilled your orders, and that I will be permitted to have my apartments to myself."

"I beg your majesty's pardon," said the general, bowing respectfully, "but as yet I have fulfilled but the smallest portion of my master's commands."

"How? is there still some one here whom you wish to arrest?" said the queen.

"No, noble lady, but some one I wish to warn!"

"You are, without doubt, speaking of me, general?" said the priest, quietly.

"Yes, sir, of you. I wish to warn you not to occupy your pious thoughts with that very worldly thing called politics, and to request you to instruct the members of your Church in religion, in Christian love and kindness, and not to lure them to murder and treachery."

The priest shrugged his shoulders; a contemptuous smile played about his small, thin lips.

"The words 'religion and Christian love' sound strangely in the mouth of a Prussian warrior. I decline receiving any advice from you. I have no fear of you or of your superiors! I am subject only to God and the Pope!"

"That may be in your own country, but not in the King of Prussia's," answered General Fink, quietly. "There every one is subject to the law; no title, no clerical gown protects the criminal. Two days ago, a spy was discovered in the Prussian camp, who was a priest; he was hung like any other spy, although at the last moment, hoping to save his life, he exclaimed that he was a friend of Father Guarini, the court confessor. His majesty the King of Prussia commissioned me to impart to you the death of your friend."

"From my heart I thank you for so doing," said the priest. "I shall have masses read for my friend, of whom you have made a martyr."

The queen gazed at him with sparkling eyes. "Oh, my father," said she, "I thank you for your noble example; it shall enable me, in spite of threats and insults, not to deny the holy cause and the friends who have suffered for it. And now, general, I hope your commissions are fulfilled, and that you will take your leave."

"I hope your majesty will believe that I would not venture to remain, were I not compelled by the commands of my king. I have to request your majesty to listen while I read aloud some letters, some historical documents, which may possibly interest your highness."

"You can read," said the queen. "As my ears do not belong to the King of Prussia, it lies with me to listen or not, as I please." She sank gently upon the divan, signing to the priest to remain beside her.

"I flatter myself that I will have your majesty's attention," said the general, withdrawing to the nearest window and opening a package of letters. "The first relates to an extremely amusing occurrence, which my master, knowing that France was your ally, imagined would interest you. Your highness is aware that Prince Soubise is a brave soldier. This is Madame Pompadour's opinion; it must, therefore, be true. About a week ago this brave prince determined to rest for a while from his heroic deeds, and gave the same privilege to a large portion of his army. The general, accompanied by his staff and eight thousand soldiers, then entered that lovely little spot, called Gotha, to visit the talented and princely duke and duchess. He and his staff were received by them with great honor; magnificent preparations were forthwith made for a splendid dinner to welcome the prince who, happily, was not only fond of laurels, but also of good eating. Dinner was served, the French generals had finished their toilets, Prince Soubise had given the duchess his arm to lead her to her seat, when a loud cry of terror was heard from without, 'The Prussians are at the gates!' Prince Soubise dropped the arm of the duchess; through the Paris rouge, so artistically put on, the paleness, which now covered his face, could rot be seen. The doors leading to the dining-saloon were thrown open, making visible the sparkling glass, the smoking dishes, the rare service of gold and silver—, the generals of the prince now hastened forward and confirmed the wild rumor. Yes; and rumor, for once, was true. General Seidlitz was there with fifteen hundred brave cavalrymen. The French are noted for their politeness, and it did not fail them upon this occasion. Without a word, Prince Soubise and his eight thousand men made room for General Seidlitz and his fifteen hundred, and hastened from the ducal palace. Before the rich dishes had time to cool, General Seidlitz and his staff were seated at the table, enjoying the magnificent dinner prepared for the French generals. Many prisoners, many spoils were taken afterward. Not that Prince Soubise had not taken all his soldiers with him, but there was another small army by which the French troops are always accompanied. These, the lackeys, valets, cooks, hair-dressers, ballet-dancers, actresses, priests, etc., etc., were not able to run as fast as the French soldiers. The spoils consisted in the equipages of the prince and his staff, in which were boxes and chests containing precious things, their large chests full of delightful perfumes and hair-oils, trunks full of wigs, dressing-gowns, and parasols. There were several learned parrots who had a leaning to politics, and who exclaimed continually: 'Vive les Franqais! A bas les Prussiens!' But the kind-hearted General Seidlitz did not wish to deprive the French army of the necessities of life; he therefore sent them their valets, cooks, hair-dressers, actresses, priests, etc. The perfumes and hair-oils he gave to his own soldiers."

"I trust you have finished," said the queen, playing listlessly with her fan.

"Ah, your majesty has then honored me by listening?" said General Fink, smiling.

The queen preserved a dignified silence.

The general continued reading: "After long deliberation, Prince Soubise concluded he had carried his politeness too far in vacating the ducal palace to the Prussians; he determined, therefore, to go after his perfumes, hair-oils, dressing-gowns, wigs, etc., etc., and drive the Prussians from Gotha. Prince von Hildburghausen joined him with his troops. Thus the French advanced to Gotha, secure and confident of success. But to their terror they found before the city not two Prussian regiments, as they had expected, but what seemed to them the entire Prussian army arranged in line of battle, and in such large numbers that for miles around the bills were covered, with them. This was so unexpected to the French generals that they determined to retreat for a while, until they had recovered from their surprise. They withdrew, leaving the field to the Prussians. Had they not withdrawn so hastily, they would soon have seen that the Prussian army consisted only of fifteen hundred, which, thanks to General Seidlitz's strategy, presented a very imposing view. Thus Seidlitz gained the day without firing a shot—not by the troops who were present, but by those who were supposed to be present."

"I have had enough of this," said the queen, rising. "I am weary of listening to your witty stories. The King of Prussia may triumph for a while—he may jest over his lost battles—but the hour of his misfortune is at hand. God, who is just—who thrusts the arrogant and haughty to the ground—will also punish him, and give victory to the just cause. The battle of Collin was for Frederick the Second the first proof of God's anger, and now with increasing strength His mighty arm will be raised against him."

"I am aware that these are your majesty's sentiments," said the general, smiling; "and my master is as well informed. I think they were stated in almost the same words in letters which your majesty wrote to the Austrian general, Nadasky."

The queen fell back upon her seat trembling, and a deep red suffused her countenance. Even Father Guarini showed by the quivering of his lip and his sudden paleness, that the conversation was now taking an agitating turn.

"What do you know of my letters to Nadasky?" said the queen, breathlessly. "Who says I have written to him?"

"Your own hand, gracious queen," answered the general. "While the king, my noble sovereign, was in Bernstadt, he was told that General Nadasky was at Ostriz, and sent General von Werner after him. Nadasky fled, but his baggage was captured, and amongst his letters this one from your majesty was discovered."

And he held up the letter in question before the queen, to convince her of its authenticity.

Maria Josephine endeavored to tear it from him, but the general was too quick for her.

"By command of my master, this letter is to be returned to you, but upon one condition."

"Well, what is it?" said the queen, faintly.

"I am to read to your majesty a few sentences from it, selected by the King of Prussia himself."

"And all my letters shall then be returned to me?"

"All, your majesty."

"You can read," said the queen, seating herself.

General Fink approached the window by which he had been standing before, and looked out for a few moments. Some one, perhaps, had passed with whom he was acquainted, for he bowed several times and raised his hand as if he were beckoning. After this intermission, at which the queen and her confessor had looked in amazement, he opened the letter and commenced to read.

It was a demand from Queen Maria Josephine to the Austrian general to do all in his power to ruin their common enemy. "If we are energetic," continued the general, reading in a loud voice, "it will soon be done. At the battle of Collin, God laid his mark upon Frederick; Prussia will have no more victories; her arrogant ruler has sung his last Te Deum."

At this moment the bells of the nearest church commenced their solemn chimes, and from the fort behind the castle the thunder of cannon was heard. The queen rose from her seat and rushed to the window.

"What is the meaning of this?" said she, breathlessly. "Why these bells? Why this cannon? What—"

The renewed thunder of cannon drowned her words. She threw open the window, and now all the church bells were joined in one harmonious chant. From beneath the queen's windows there arose a slow, solemn hymn, and as if borne aloft by invisible spirits, the words "Te Deum laudamus" were heard by the queen. Her eyes sparkled. "For whom is this Te Deum?" said she, breathlessly.

"It is for my master," said General Fink, solemnly—"for the King of Prussia, who at Rossbach, with twenty thousand men, has gained a victory over sixty thousand French soldiers."

A cry of rage, and Maria Josephine fell fainting to the floor.


It was a cold winter day, and in the Prussian camp at Newmark every one was occupied making fires.

"Let us get a great deal of wood," said a sprightly-looking, slender young soldier, to his comrades; "our limbs must not be stiff to-day. I think to-morrow all will go off bravely, and we will prepare a strong soup for the Austrians."

"And instead of the noodles, we will send them cannon-balls," said a comrade, standing near him. "But see here, brother, as we are not going to fight this evening, I think we should make use of the time and cook a soup for ourselves. When we have wood enough for a good fire, we will set the kettle over it, and the best of pastimes will be ready. Shall we do it, comrades? Every man a groschen, and Charles Henry Buschman to cook the noodles."

"Yet, Buschman must cook the noodles; no one understands it so well as he. Charles Henry Buschman! Where hides the fellow? He is generally sticking to Fritz Kober, and they are chatting together as if they were lovers. Buschman! Charles Henry Buschman! Where are you?"

"Here I am!" cried a bright, fresh voice, and a slender youth, belonging to Prince Henry's regiment, stepped forward and joined them. "Who calls me?—what do you want?"

"We want you to cook noodles for us, Buschman; every man pays a groschen, and eats to his heart's content. You shall have them for nothing, because you prepare them."

"I will have nothing that I don't pay for," said Charles Henry, proudly; "I can pay as well as the rest of you, and perhaps I have more money than all of you; for while you are drinking, smoking, and playing, I put my groschens aside for a rainy day."

"Yes, that is true; Buschman is the most orderly, the most industrious of us all," said Fritz Kober, as he nodded lovingly to his young friend. "He does not drink, or smoke, or play; and, I can tell you, he sews like a woman. He mended a shirt for me to-day. A ball had passed through it at Rossbach, making a hole in the left sleeve. I tell you, the shirt looks as if a clever woman had mended it."

"Well, it is a pity he isn't one," said one of the soldiers, with a merry laugh; "perhaps you have a sister at home, Henry, whom you could give to Kober."

"No, comrade," said Charles Henry, sadly; "I have neither father, mother, sister, nor brother. I am alone in the world, and have no other friend but my comrade, Fritz Kober. Will you not give him to me, comrades? Will you tease him because he is the friend of a poor, young fellow, against whom you have nothing to say except that he is just seventeen years old and has no heard and his voice a little thin, not able to make as much noise as yourself? Promise me that you will not laugh at Fritz again because he is kind to, and loves a poor, forsaken boy. If you tease him, he will become desperate and run off from me, and then, when I fall in battle, he will not close my eyes as he has promised to do."

"I will never run away from you, darling brother," said Fritz Kober. "We two shall stay together in camp and in battle. You have won me with your soft, black eyes: they remind me of those of my good, faithful Phylax."

"Well, well, Fritz shall do as he pleases," said one of the boys; "but enough with our chatting, let us seek the wood for our fire."

"Wood, wood, let us seek wood," cried all, gayly, and the happy troop separated on all sides. Only Charles Henry remained to prepare the fire. With busy haste he took the kettle, which the soldiers had dragged near, ran to the neighboring market and bought a groschen worth of lard to make the noodles savory, then hastened back to cut the bacon and mix it with the noodles. Some of the soldiers returned empty-handed—no wood was to be found; the soldiers, who had searched before them, had taken it all.

"It would be horrible not to have noodles this evening," said Fritz Kober, furiously. "Who knows but they may be the last we shall eat in this world? The balls may take our heads off to-morrow, and we never could eat Charles Henry's noodles again."

"What you can do to-day never put off until to-morrow," cried one of the soldiers. "We must eat noodles to-day, and we must have wood, even if we have to steal it from the devil's kitchen." And, as he turned around, his eye fell upon a little hut which stood on the other side of the camp. "Boys." he cried, gleefully, "do you see that hut?"

"Certainly; that hut is the king's quarters."

"I am willing the king should occupy the hut; but it is covered with wood, and he does not need that. Come, boys, we will have wood to cook our noodles."

With a hurrah they started forward to the old forsaken shepherd's hut in which the king had taken refuge. They climbed the rook as nimbly as cats, and now the old boards cracked and groaned and flew in every direction, and were received with shouts of joy by the surrounding soldiers. Suddenly a guard officer stepped from the hut, and saw with horror its destruction; he ordered the soldiers to lay the boards as they had found them, and to go off at once. The soldiers mocked at him, and continued at their work quietly.

"We are going to eat noodles," they said, "common noodles, of meal and lard, that we may have the courage to swallow iron noodles to-morrow. To cook noodles, we need wood. We find it here, and we shall take it."

"What!" cried the officer, "I forbid it, and you refuse to obey?—Sentinels, forward!"

The four guards, who, until now, had walked quietly to and fro before the hut, placed themselves at the door and shouldered arms.

"Fire at the first one who dares to touch another piece of wood," commanded the officer. But the wanton soldiers paid no attention to this order; they regarded it as an empty threat.

"Fire," cried one, laughing, "fire is just what we want—without fire, no noodles; and to make fire we must have wood."

"Whew! I have a big splinter in my finger," cried another soldier, who was on the roof, and had just broken off a plank; "I must draw it out and put it back, mustn't I, lieutenant?"

At this question the gay group broke into a loud laugh; but it was interrupted by the angry words of the officer.

Suddenly a mild voice asked: "What is the matter?" At the first sound of this voice the soldiers seemed dismayed; they stopped their work, and their merry faces became earnest and thoughtful. Stiff and motionless they remained on the roof awaiting their punishment; they knew that voice only too well, they had heard it in the thunder of battle. The king repeated his question. The officer approached him.

"Sire, these dragoons are tearing the roof from your majesty's quarters, all my threats are useless; therefore I ordered the sentinels forward."

"What do you want with the sentinels?" asked the king.

"To fire amongst them, if they do not desist."

"Have you tried kindness?" said the king, sternly; "do you think, on the day before a battle, I have soldiers to spare, and you may shoot them down because of a piece of wood?"

The officer murmured a few confused words; but the king paid no attention to him; he looked up at the soldiers sitting stiff and motionless upon the roof.

"Listen, dragoons," said the king; "if you take off my roof, the snow will fall in my bed to-night, and you do not wish that, do you?"

"No, we do not wish it, sire," said Fritz Kober, ashamed, slipping softly from the roof; the others followed his example, and prepared to be off, giving melancholy glances at the wood lying on the ground. The king looked thoughtfully after them, and murmured, softly, "Poor fellows, I have deprived them of a pleasure.—Halloo, dragoons," he cried aloud, "listen!"

The soldiers looked back, frightened and trembling.

"Tell me," said the king, "what use were you going to make of the wood?"

"Cook noodles, sire," said Fritz Kober; "Henry Buschman promised to cook noodles for us, and the bacon is already cut; but we have no wood."

"Well, if the bacon is cut," said the king, smiling, "and if Henry Buschman has promised to make the noodles, he must certainly keep his word; take the wood away with you."

"Hurrah! long life to our king and to our good Fritz Kober," cried the soldiers, and, collecting the wood, they hastened away.

The king stepped back, silently, into the small, low room of the hut. Alone, there once more the smile disappeared, and his countenance became sad and anxious. He confessed to himself what he had never admitted to friend or confidant, that it was a daring and most dangerous undertaking to meet the Austrian army of seventy thousand with his thirty-three thousand men.

"And should I fail," said the king, thoughtfully, "and lead these brave troops to their death without benefit to my country—should they die an unknown death—should we be conquered, instead of conquering! Oh, the fortune of battles lies in the hands of Providence; the wisest disposition of troops, the most acute calculations are brought to naught by seeming accident. Should I expose my army to the fearful odds, should I hazard so many lives to gratify my ambition and my pride? My generals say it will be wiser not to attack, but to wait and be attacked. Oh, Winterfeldt, Winterfeldt, were you but here, you would not advise this, not you! Why have you been taken from me, my friend? Why have you left me alone among my enemies? I can find, perhaps, resources against my enemies, but I will never find another Winterfeldt." [Footnote: The king's own words.—Retzow, vol. i.. p. 220.] The king leaned his head upon his breast, and tears rolled down his cheeks.

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