NAPOLEON IN GERMANY
NAPOLEON AND THE QUEEN OF PRUSSIA
An Historical Novel
BY L. MUeHLBACH
AUTHOR OF MARIE ANTOINETTE, JOSEPH II. AND HIS COURT, BERLIN AND SANS-SOUCI, FREDERICK THE GREAT AND HIS FAMILY, ETC.
TRANSLATED FROM THE GERMAN BY F. JORDAN
NEW YORK 1908 COPYRIGHT 1867, 1893, BY D. APPLETON AND COMPANY
* * * * *
I. Ferdinand von Schill II. The German Song III. The Oath of Vengeance IV. In Berlin V. Quiet is the Citizen's First Duty VI. The Faithful People of Stettin VII. The Queen's Flight VIII. Napoleon in Potsdam IX. Sans-Souci X. Napoleon's Entry into Berlin XI. Napoleon and Talleyrand XII. The Princess von Hatzfeld XIII. The Suppliant Princes XIV. Triumph and Defeat XV. The Victoria of Brandenburg Gate
XVI. The Treaty of Charlottenburg XVII. The Secret Council of State XVIII. Baron von Stein XIX. The Queen at the Peasant's Cottage XX. Count Pueckler XXI. The Patriot's Death XXII. Peace Negotiations XXIII. The Slanderous Articles XXIV. The Justification XXV. Countess Mary Walewska XXVI. The Dantzic Chocolate
XXVII. Tilsit.—Napoleon and Alexander XXVIII. Queen Louisa XXIX. Bad Tidings XXX. Queen Louisa and Napoleon
XXXI. Baron von Stein XXXII. The Patriot XXXIII. Johannes von Mueller XXXIV. The Call XXXV. Financial Calamities XXXVI. Prince William XXXVII. The Genius of Prussia XXXVIII. A Family Dinner
XXXIX. French Erfurt XL. The Conspirators XLI. The Festivities of Erfurt and Weimar XLII. Napoleon and Goethe XLIII. The Chase and the Assassins
XLIV. The War with Austria XLV. Josephine's Farewell XLVI. Ferdinand von Schill XLVII. Schill takes the Field XLVIII. Schill's Death XLIX. The Parade at Schoenbrunn L. Napoleon at Schoenbrunn LI. Frederick Staps LII. An Execution
LIII. Homeward Bound LIV. The Emperor Francis and Metternich LV. The Archduchess Maria Louisa LVI. The Queen's Birthday LVII. Louisa's Death
Portrait of Napoleon The Oath of Revenge The Queen in the Peasant's Cottage Napoleon and the Queen of Prussia The Emperor Francis and Metternich
NAPOLEON AND QUEEN LOUISA
FERDINAND VON SCHILL.
Profound silence reigned in the valleys and gorges of Jena and Auerstadt. The battles were over. The victorious French had marched to Jena to repose for a few days, while the defeated Prussians had fled to Weimar, or were wandering across the fields and in the mountains, anxiously seeking for inaccessible places where they might conceal their presence from the pursuing enemy.
A panic had seized the whole army. All presence of mind and sense of honor seemed to be lost. Every one thought only of saving his life, and of escaping from the conquering arms of the invincible French. Here and there, it is true, officers succeeded by supplications and remonstrances in stopping the fugitives, and in forming them into small detachments, with which the commanders attempted to join the defeated and retreating main force.
But where was this main army? Whither had the Prince of Hohenlohe directed his vanquished troops? Neither the officers nor the soldiers knew. They marched along the high-roads, not knowing whither to direct their steps. But as soon as their restless eyes seemed to discern French soldiers at a distance, the Prussians took to their heels, throwing their muskets away to relieve their flight, and surrendering at discretion when there was no prospect of escape. In one instance a troop of one hundred Prussians surrendered to four French dragoons, who conducted their prisoners to headquarters; and once a large detachment hailed in a loud voice a few mounted grenadiers, who intended perhaps to escape from their superior force, and gave the latter to understand, by signals and laying down their arms, that they only wished to surrender and deliver themselves to the French.
The Prussians had reached Jena and Auerstadt confident of victory, and now had left the battle-field to carry the terrible tidings of their defeat, like a host of ominously croaking ravens, throughout Germany.
The battle-field, on which a few hours previously Death had walked in a triumphant procession, and felled thousands and thousands of bleeding victims to the ground, was now entirely deserted. Night had thrown its pall over the horrors of this Calvary of Prussian glory: the howling storm alone sang a requiem to the unfortunate soldiers, who, with open wounds and features distorted with pain, lay in endless rows on the blood-stained ground.
At length the night of horror is over—the storm dies away—the thick veil of darkness is rent asunder, and the sun of a new day arises pale and sad; pale and sad he illuminates the battle-field, reeking with the blood of so many thousands.
What a spectacle! How many mutilated corpses lie prostrate on the ground with their dilated eyes staring at the sky—and among them, the happy, the enviable! how many living, groaning, bleeding men, writhing with pain, unable to raise their mutilated bodies from the gory bed of torture and death!
The sun discloses the terrible picture hidden by the pall of night; it illuminates the faces of the stark dead, but awakens the living and suffering, the wounded and bleeding, from their benumbed slumber, and recalls them to consciousness and the dreadful knowledge of their wretched existence.
With consciousness return groans and wails; and the dreadful conviction of their wretched existence opens their lips, and wrings from them shrieks of pain and despair.
How enviable and blissful sleep the dead whose wounds bleed and ache no longer! How wretched and pitiable are the living as they lie on the ground, tortured by the wounds which the howling night wind has dried so that they bleed no more! Those poor deserted ones in the valley and on the hills the sun has awakened, and the air resounds with their moans and cries and despairing groans, and heart-rending entreaties for relief. But no relief comes to them; no cheerful voice replies to their wails. Hundreds, perhaps thousands, had been placed in the ambulances, and, during the sudden panic, the surgeons had left the battle-field with them. But hundreds, nay thousands, remained behind, and with no one to succor them!
From among the crowds of wounded and dead lying on the battle-field of Auerstadt, rose up now an officer, severely injured in the head and arm. The sun, which had aroused him from the apathetic exhaustion into which he had sunk from loss of blood and hunger, now warmed his stiffened limbs, and allayed somewhat the racking pain in his wounded right arm, and the bleeding gash in his forehead. He tried to extricate himself from under the carcass of his horse, that pressed heavily on him, and felt delighted as he succeeded in loosing his foot from the stirrup, and drawing it from under the steed. Holding with his uninjured left arm to the saddle, he raised himself slowly. The effort caused the blood to trickle in large drops from the wound in his forehead, which he disregarded under the joyful feeling that he had risen again from his death-bed, and that he was still living and breathing. For a moment he leaned faint and exhausted against the horse as a couch; and feeling a burning thirst, a devouring hunger, his dark, flaming eyes wandered around as if seeking for a refreshing drink for his parched palate, or a piece of bread to appease his hunger.
But his eye everywhere met only stiffened corpses, and the misery and horror of a deserted battle-field. He knew that no food could be found, as the soldiers had not, for two days, either bread or liquor in their knapsacks. Hunger had been the ally that had paved the way for the French emperor—it had debilitated the Prussians and broken their courage.
"I must leave the battle-field," murmured the wounded soldier; "I must save myself while I have sufficient strength; otherwise I shall die of hunger. Oh, my God, give me strength to escape from so horrible a death! Strengthen my feet for this terrible walk!"
He cast a single fiery glance toward heaven, one in which his whole soul was expressed, and then set out on his walk. He moved along slowly and with tottering steps amid the rows of corpses, some of which were still quivering and moaning, as death drew near, while others writhed and wailed with their wounds. Unable to relieve their racking pains, and to assist them in their boundless misery, it only remained for him to sink down among them, or to avert his eyes, to close his ears to their supplications, and escape with hurried steps from this atmosphere of blood and putrefaction, in order to rescue his own life from the clutches of death.
He hastened, therefore, but his tearful eyes greeted the poor sufferers whom he passed on his way, and his quivering lips muttered a prayer for them.
At length the first and most horrible part of this dreadful field was passed, and he escaped from the chaos of the dead and wounded. That part, across which he was walking now, was less saturated with gore, and the number of corpses scattered over it was much smaller. Here and there was the wreck of a cannon besmeared with blood and mire, and empty knapsacks, fragments of broken wagons and muskets, in the utmost disorder and confusion.
"Spoils for the marauders," whispered the wounded officer, pressing on. "It seems they have not been here yet. God have mercy on me, if they should come now and look on me, too, as their spoil!"
He glanced around anxiously, and in doing so his eye beheld an unsheathed, blood-stained sabre lying near his feet. He made an effort to take it up regardless of the blood which, in consequence of the effort, trickled again in larger drops from his wounds.
"Well," he said, in a loud and menacing voice, "I shall defend my life at least to the best of my ability; the hateful enemies shall not capture me as long as I am alive. Forward, then; forward with God! He will not desert a faithful soldier!"
And supporting himself on his sabre, as if it were a staff, the officer walked on. Everywhere he met with the same signs of war and destruction; everywhere he beheld corpses, blood-stained cannon-balls, or muskets, which the fugitives had thrown away.
"Oh, for a drop of water!" groaned the officer, while slowly crossing the field; "my lips are parched!"
Tottering and reeling, with the aid of his sabre, and by his firm, energetic will, and the resolution of his spirit, he succeeded once more in overcoming the weakness of his body.
He hastened on with quicker steps, and hope now lent wings to his feet, for yonder, in the rear of the shrubbery, he beheld a house; men were there, assistance also.
At length, after untold efforts, and a terrible struggle with his pain and exhaustion, he reached the peasant's house. Looking up with longing eyes to the windows, he shouted: "Oh, give me a drink of water! Have mercy on a wounded soldier!"
But no voice responded; no human face appeared behind the small green windows. Every thing remained silent and deserted.
With a deep sigh, and an air of bitter disappointment depicted on his features, he murmured:
"My feet cannot carry me any farther. Perhaps my voice was too weak, and they did not hear me. I will advance closer to the house."
Gathering his strength, with staggering steps he approached and found the door only ajar; whereupon he opened it and entered.
Within the house every thing was as silent as without; not a human being was to be seen; not a voice replied to his shouts. The inside of the dwelling presented a sorry spectacle. All the doors were open; the clay floor was saturated here and there with blood; the small, low rooms were almost empty; only some half-destroyed furniture, a few broken jars and other utensils, were lying about. The inmates either had fled from the enemy, or he had expelled them from their house.
"There is no help for me," sighed the officer, casting a despairing glance on this scene of desolation. "Oh, why was it not vouchsafed to me to die on the battle-field? Why did not a compassionate cannon-ball have mercy on me, and give me death on the field of honor? Then, at least, I should have died as a brave soldier, and my name would have been honorably mentioned; now I am doomed to be named only among the missing! Oh, it is sad and bitter to die alone, unlamented by my friends, and with no tear of compassion from the eyes of my queen! Oh, Louisa, Louisa, you will weep much for your crown, for your country, and for your people, but you will not have a tear for the poor lieutenant of your dragoons who is dying here alone uttering a prayer for a blessing on you! Farewell queen, may God grant you strength, and—"
His words died away; a deadly pallor overspread his features, his head turned dizzy, and a ringing noise filled his ears.
"Death! death!" he murmured faintly, and, with a sigh, he fell senseless to the ground.
Every thing had become silent again in the humble house; not a human sound interrupted the stillness reigning in the desolate room. Only the hum of a few flies, rushing with their heads against the window-panes, was heard. Once a rustling noise was heard in a corner, and a mouse glided across the floor, its piercing, glittering eyes looked searchingly around, and the sight of the bloody, motionless form, lying prostrate on the floor, seemed to affright it, for it turned and slipped away even faster than it had approached, and disappeared in the corner.
The sun rose higher, and shone down on the dimmed windows of the house, reflecting their yellow outlines on the floor, and illuminated the gold lace adorning the uniform of the prostrate and motionless officer.
All at once the silence was broken by the approach of hurried steps, and a loud voice was heard near at hand, shouting:
"Is there anybody in the house?"
Then every thing was still again. The new-comer was evidently waiting for a reply. After a pause, the steps drew nearer—now they were already in the hall; and now the tall, slender form of a Prussian officer, with a bandaged head and arm, appeared on the threshold of the room. When he beheld the immovable body on the floor, his pale face expressed surprise and compassion.
"An officer of the queen's dragoons!" he ejaculated, and in the next moment he was by his side. He knelt down, and placed his hand inquiringly on the heart and forehead of the prostrate officer.
"He is warm still," he murmured, "and it seems to me his heart is yet beating. Perhaps, perhaps he only fainted from loss of blood, just as I did before my wounds had been dressed. Let us see."
He hastily drew a flask from his bosom, and pouring some of its contents into his hand, he washed with it the forehead and temples of his poor comrade.
A slight shudder now pervaded his whole frame, and he looked with a half-unconscious, dreamy glance into the face of the stranger, who had bent over him with an air of heart-felt sympathy.
"Where am I?" he asked, in a low, tremulous voice.
"With a comrade," said the other, kindly. "With a companion in misfortune who is wounded, and a fugitive like you. I am an officer of the Hohenlohe regiment, and fought at Jena. Since last night I have been wandering about, constantly exposed to the danger of falling into the hands of the enemy. My name is Pueckler—it is a good Prussian name. You see, therefore, it is a friend who is assisting his poor comrade, and you need not fear any thing. Now, tell me what I can do for you?"
"Water, water!" groaned the wounded officer, "water!"
"You had better take some of my wine here," said the other; "it will quench your thirst, and invigorate you at the same time."
He held the flask to the lips of his comrade, and made him sip a little of his wine.
"Now it is enough," he said, withdrawing the flask from his lips. "Since you have quenched your thirst, comrade, would you not like to eat a piece of bread and some meat? Ah, you smile; you are surprised because I guess your wishes and know your sufferings. You need not wonder at it, however, comrade, for I have undergone just the same torture as you. Above all, you must eat something."
While speaking, he had produced from his knapsack a loaf of bread and a piece of roast chicken, and cutting a few slices from both, placed them tenderly in the mouth of the sufferer, looking on with smiling joy while the other moved his jaws, slowly at first, but soon more rapidly and eagerly.
"Now another draught of wine, comrade," he said, "and then, I may dare to give you some more food. Hush! do not say a word—it is a sacred work you are doing now, a work by which you are just about to save a human life. You must not, therefore, interrupt it by any superfluous protestations of gratitude. Moreover, your words are written in your eyes, and you cannot tell me any thing better and more beautiful than what I am reading therein. Drink! So! And here is a piece of bread and a wing of the chicken. While you are eating, I will look around in the yard and garden to find there some water to wash your wounds."
Without waiting for a reply, he hastily left the officer alone with the piece of bread, the wing of the chicken, and the flask. When he returned, about fifteen minutes later, with a jar filled with water, the bread and meat had disappeared; but instead of the pale, immovable, and cadaverous being, he found seated on the floor a young man with flashing eyes, a faint blush on his cheeks, and a gentle smile on his lips.
"You have saved me," he said, extending his hand toward his returning comrade. "I should have died of hunger and exhaustion, if you had not relieved me so mercifully."
"Comrade," said the officer, smiling, "you have just repeated the same words which I addressed two hours ago to another comrade whom I met on the retreat; or, to speak more correctly, who found me lying in the ditch. The lucky fellow had got a horse; he offered me a seat behind him. But I saw that the animal was too weak to carry both of us; hence I did not accept his offer, but I took the refreshments which he gave to me, and with which he not only saved my life, but yours too. You are, therefore, under no obligations to me, but to him alone."
"You are as kind as you are generous," said the other, gently, involuntarily raising his hand toward his forehead.
"And I see that you are in pain," exclaimed the officer, "and that the wound in your head is burning. Mine has been dressed already, and my shattered arm bandaged—for I received both wounds yesterday in the early part of the battle, and the surgeon attended to them while the bullets were hissing around us."
"I was wounded only when every thing was lost," sighed the other. "A member of the accursed imperial guard struck me down."
"I hope you gave him a receipt in full for your wounds?" asked the officer, while tenderly washing the wound with the water he had brought along in the broken jar.
The other officer looked up to him with flashing eyes.
"I gave him a receipt which he has already shown to God Himself," he said, "provided there is a God for these accursed French. My sword cleft his skull, but I fell together with him."
"Your wound here in the forehead is of no consequence," said the officer; "the stroke only cut the skin. Let us put this moistened handkerchief on it."
"Oh, now I am better," said the other; "now that the wound burns less painfully, I feel that life is circulating again through all my veins."
"And what about your arm?"
"A lancer pierced it. I hope he was kind enough not to touch the bone, so that the arm need not be amputated. It is true, it pains severely; but, you see, I can move it a little, which proves that it is not shattered. Now, comrade, do me still another favor—assist me in rising."
"Here, lean firmly on me. There! I will lift you up—now you are on your legs again. Lean on me still, for you might become dizzy."
"No, I shall not. I feel again well and strong enough to take the burden of life on my shoulders. Thank God! I am able to stand again. For, however crushed and trampled under foot we may be, we will submit to our fate manfully, and stand erect. The conqueror and tyrant shall not succeed in bending our heads, although he has broken our hearts. Ah, comrade, that was a terrible day when all Prussia sank in ruins!"
"You were in the thickest of the fray? The regiment of the queen's dragoons fought at Auerstadt, I believe?"
"Yes, it fought at Auerstadt, or rather it did the same as all the other regiments—it deserted. Only a few squadrons complied with the urgent exhortations of the king, who led us against the squares of the enemy near Hassenhausen. His own horse was shot; we officers stood our ground, but the dragoons ran away.[Historical] Ah, I wept with rage, and if my tears could have been transformed into bullets, they would not have been directed against the enemy, but against our own cowardly dragoons. The battle would have been won if our soldiers had not disgracefully taken to their heels. All shouts, orders, supplications, were in vain; the soldiers were running, although no enemy pursued them; the panic had rendered them perfectly crazy."
"And do you really believe, comrade, that we owe the loss of the battle exclusively to the cowardice of the soldiers?" asked the officer. "Did our generals do their duty? Ah, you look gloomy, and do not reply. Then you agree with me? Let us, however, speak of all these things afterward, but first of ourselves."
"Yes, first of ourselves!" exclaimed the other, starting from his gloomy reflections. "Count Pueckler, you were kind enough to tell me your name, when you relieved an unknown sufferer in so humane a manner, and thereby saved his life. Now permit me to tell you my name, too, so that you may know at least who will always revere your memory with affection and gratitude. I am Second-Lieutenant Ferdinand von Schill. You see, it is a very humble name; still I had solemnly vowed that it should not be unknown in the battles that were to be fought."
"And I see it written on your brow, comrade, that you will at some future time make up for what fate has now prevented you from accomplishing," said Count Pueckler, kindly offering his hand to Lieutenant von Schill. "Yet now let us not think of the future, but of the present. We are disabled, and will be helpless as soon as the wound-fever sets in; and we may be sure that that will be to-night. We must, therefore, find a place of refuge; for, if we remain here, without assistance, and without food, we shall surely be lost."
"You are right; we must leave this house," said Schill; "we must try to reach a city or village. Come, let us go. You are armed, and I have got a sabre, too. Let us go, but previously let us swear that we will not surrender to the French, but rather die, even should it be necessary to commit suicide! You have a knife, and when you cut some bread for me, I saw that it was very sharp. Will you give it to me?"
"I want to stab myself, as soon as I see that I cannot escape from the enemy!"
"And I? What is to become of me?"
"Before killing myself, I will stab you with my sabre. Will that content you?"
"It will. Be careful, however, to hit my heart; do not merely wound, but kill me."
"Ah, I see that we understand each other, and that the same heart is pulsating in our breast!" exclaimed Schill, joyfully. "Let us die, rather than be captured by the enemy and depend on the mercy of the Corsican tyrant! Now, comrade, let us go! For you are right; the wound-fever will set in toward evening, and without assistance we shall be lost."
"Come," said Pueckler, "place your uninjured arm in mine. It seems fate has destined us for each other, for it has ruined your right arm and my left arm; thus we can walk at least side by side, mutually supporting ourselves. I shall be your right hand, and you will lend me your left arm when I have to embrace anybody. But, it is true, no one will now care for our embrace; every one will mock and deride us, and try to read in the bloody handwriting on our foreheads: 'He is also one of the vanquished Prussians!'"
"Comrade, did you not tell me a little while ago, that it would be better for us to attend to our own affairs, before talking about other matters?"
"It is true; let us go!"
And, leaning on each other, the two officers left the house.
THE GERMAN SONG.
It was a sunny morning in autumn; the two wounded officers were inhaling the bracing air in long draughts, and their eyes were wandering over the transparent sky and the picturesque landscape.
"And to think that my eyes would never more have seen all this, if you had not had mercy on me!" said Schill, with a grateful glance at his companion.
"Ah, my friend," sighed Pueckler, mournfully, "we shall not always behold the sky and this beautiful, silent scene, but it may easily happen that we shall see much misery to-day, and that you will curse your eyes for being compelled to perceive it! Still you are right—it is better to live, even in anguish and distress, than to die in anguish and distress; for he who lives has still a future before him, and is able to strive in it for revenge and compensation for the past. Let us descry our immediate future from the hill yonder, and there decide on the direction we shall take."
They walked toward the neighboring hill. Frequently they had to stop on the way; frequently they sank down exhausted; but their will and youthful energy overcame their weakness, and finally they reached their destination: they stood on the summit, and were able to survey the whole country for miles around.
"Yonder, where that dreadful smoke is rising, is the battle-field of Auerstadt!" said Schill, after a long pause, during which they had taken breath.
"Yes, and beyond those hills is Jena," said Pueckler, sadly. "Those are two melancholy names for a Prussian ear, and, like Ulysses, I should like to close mine so as not to hear that siren voice of death any more; for, I tell you, whenever I hear those two names, I am driven to despair, and would like to throw myself into that abyss!"
"My friend, it seems to me we are already in the abyss, and our first and most earnest endeavors should be directed toward saving us from it," said Schill, shrugging his shoulders. "Our first step should be to get safely through the enemy's lines, in order to escape from the dangers to which a collision with the French would expose us. Whither shall we turn now? Have you formed already a definite plan, count?"
"Being disabled from active service by my wounds, I shall repair to my estates in Silesia, and remain there till I have recovered. And you, comrade—will you permit me to make you an offer? If you have not yet come to a different decision, you ought to accompany me, and stay at my house till your wounds are healed. I have splendid woods, and facilities for angling on my estates; and if you like hunting and fishing, I am sure a sojourn at my house will afford you plenty of amusement."
"But you forget that my right arm is wounded, count," said Schill, with a melancholy smile; "hence, I shall be but a poor companion for you, and ought not to accept your kind offer. I confess, moreover, that my mind is too restless, and my heart too deeply grieved, to enjoy the peace and quiet of country life. I must remain in the noise and turmoil of the world, and see what will become of poor Prussia. I intend going to Kolberg; the fortress is strong and impregnable; it will be an insurmountable bulwark against the enemy, and I have several intimate friends at the fortress. I will stay with them till I am well again."
"Our paths, then, will soon be different. You will go to the north; I, to the east. But, for a few days, we shall still remain together, for the wound-fever will compel us to advance very slowly. Let us look out now for a dinner, and for a place where we may safely sleep to-night."
"And, it seems to me, I see a prospect of obtaining both. Yonder," said Schill, pointing with his left hand to a small point on the horizon. "Do you perceive that steeple? There is a village, and consequently there are men; and, as it is situated northeast, it is in the right direction for both of us."
"You are right; we will direct our steps thither," exclaimed Count Pueckler. "May Fate be propitious to us, and keep the French out of our path!"
They walked down the hill on the opposite side, and then commenced crossing, arm in arm, the stubble-field that lay stretched out before them. All around them nothing whatever was stirring—not a sound, not even the chirping of a bird, or the humming of a beetle, interrupted the profound silence; neither a house, nor any trace of human life, was to be seen anywhere.
"It is as still here as the grave," whispered Count Pueckler.
"Death probably has already stalked across this field on its way to Jena and Auerstadt," said Schill, "and for this reason all Nature seems to hold its breath lest it should return."
"But it will not return very soon, for I should think Death itself must be exhausted by the terrible work it had to perform on the battle-field. Comrade, now that we know our destination, and have arranged our affairs, we may converse a little about the dreadful events which occurred yesterday. You were at Auerstadt. Do you know that at Jena we had no knowledge whatever of the battle that was going on at Auerstadt, and were informed of it only in the evening, after we had been completely routed? We did not hear the reports of your guns!"
"So it was with us, too. At Auerstadt we did not know that a battle was being fought at Jena; the roar of our own artillery prevented us from hearing yours. Only when the king had sent off several orderlies to order the Prince of Hohenlohe and General Ruechel to cover our retreat, we learned, from the chasseur who returned first, that a battle had been fought also at Jena, and that Hohenlohe and Ruechel were unable to afford us any assistance. I cannot describe to you the dismay produced by this intelligence. Every one thought only of saving himself; there was no longer any obedience, sense of honor, or bravery. The generals were too confused to issue orders, and the soldiers too frightened to listen to their officers."
"And the king?"
"The king was evidently determined to die. His face was livid, his lips were quivering; wherever the bullets rained down most murderously, thither he spurred his horse. He had two horses killed, but remained uninjured. It seems Fate was too unmerciful toward him: it had decreed that the King of Prussia should not die, but learn in the stern school of suffering and experience what Prussia needs."
"And the Duke of Brunswick—the commander-in-chief?"
"Ah, you do not yet know the terrible fate that befell him? A bullet passed through his head; it entered on the right side, and came out on the left. This happened in the early part of the battle; the duke was brought back to Auerstadt in a fainting condition; his wound was dressed there, and then he was carried by some soldiers to Blankenburg."
"The duke is not yet dead, then, notwithstanding this terrible wound?"
"No," said Schill, solemnly, "God would not let him die without reaping the fruit of what he had sown. For his mental blindness God punished him with physical blindness. The ball destroyed both his eyes."
"Dreadful!" muttered Count Pueckler.
"You pity him?" asked Schill, harshly. "You had better pity the thousands who are lying on the bloody battle-fields of Jena and Auerstadt, and accusing the duke of having murdered them! You had better pity Prussia's misfortunes and disgrace, which have been brought about by the duke! For, I tell you, the indecision, vacillation, and timidity of the duke were the sole causes of our terrible disaster. All of us felt and knew it. None of the younger officers and generals had any doubt about it; every one knew that those old gentlemen, who had outlived their own glory, and still believed that they lived in the days of Frederick the Great, were unequal to the occasion, to the present time, and to the present war. Because we were aware of this, we made the utmost efforts to bring about a change of commanders. We elected a deputation of officers, and sent them to General Kalkreuth, for the purpose of laying our complaints and prayers before him, and of imploring him to induce the king to deprive the duke of his command, and to intrust it to younger and more resolute hands. The deputation consisted of none but skilful, prominent, and highly-esteemed officers, who boldly declared it to be their firm conviction that the king was in danger of losing his crown and his states, if the Duke of Brunswick should remain at the head of the army."
[Footnote 1: Vide Frederick von Gentz's writings, edited by G. Schlesier, vol. ii., p. 314.]
"And what did General Kalkreuth reply to them?"
"The general asked, in a harsh tone, for a further explanation of their words, and the officers gave it to him. They censured the duke's idea of establishing a camp at Weimar, and dwelt contemptuously on the reasons that might have induced him to do so. They proved, by referring to the whole proceedings of the duke, that he knew neither what he was doing nor what he wanted to do; neither where he was, nor whither he was going; and they added that, in consequence of this deplorable state of affairs, the whole army was filled with the most startling and discouraging rumors."
[Footnote 2: Ibid., vol. ii., p. 315.]
"But their prayers, their remonstrances, their angry denunciations, and predictions, were unavailing. General Kalkreuth could not make up his mind to represent the dangers of the situation to the king, although he himself was just as well satisfied of its critical character as all the younger officers of the army. And thus we were defeated, disastrously defeated and routed, in spite of all warnings of our consciousness of the danger, and of all predictions. This time it was not the inexperience and impetuosity of youth, but the antiquated method and slowness of age, that brought about our ruin."
"Yes, you are right," sighed Count Pueckler; "our old generals are the cause of our misfortunes."
"Do you know, for instance," asked Schill, indignantly, "why we lost the important defile of Koesen? In consequence of the night-sweat of General von Schmettau!"
"Ah, you can jest even now!" said Pueckler, sadly.
"I do not jest, by any means; on the contrary, I am in dead earnest! The Duke of Brunswick had ordered the general, on the day before the battle, to start early next morning with his division, and occupy the defile of Koesen. His adjutant, Lieutenant von Pfuel, went repeatedly to his headquarters to remind him of the urgent necessity of setting out, and to implore him to rise from his bed. 'But, sir,' replied the old general, 'let me wait at least until my night-sweat is gone; I understand it is a very chilly morning!' The old general did not rise until nine o'clock, and started at ten with his division toward Koesen. When he reached the defile he found that Marshal Davoust had caused it to be occupied by a regiment of infantry scarcely an hour before. That night-sweat of the old general has become the death-sweat of many brave Prussians, and the gray hairs of the old chieftain will now cause the hair of our youth to turn gray with shame and grief."
[Footnote 3: Vide Foerster's "Modern History of Prussia," vol. i., p. 757.]
"Oh, it is a terrible disgrace for us, and I hardly know how we are to bear it in a manly and dignified manner," said Count Pueckler, gloomily. "In these hours of melancholy only we feel the full extent of our ardent love for our country; now only we perceive the indissoluble ties that attach our hearts to it! I should like to pour out my blood in tears for this crushed, disgraced, and yet so dearly-beloved country, and I feel that if we do not rise speedily from our degradation, I shall die of despair!"
"You will not die," said Schill, gravely, "for all of us who love Prussia, and are devoted to her honor, must not think of dying at the present time; all of us must assist Prussia in rising again from the dust, so that she may once more boldly meet the tyrant, and take revenge for herself and for Germany! For Prussia is Germany now, because she is the only power in Germany that has resisted and braved the Corsican conqueror. But God wanted first to arouse her from her arrogance and vanity, and make the weakness of her leading men known to her, that she might rise after a noble regeneration and with redoubled strength. Life springs from death, and Prussia had to fall so low as to break her old decrepit limbs that were still kept together by her glory from the Seven Years' War; and then the young, vigorous soldier of the new century will arise and draw the sword to deliver his subjugated country, and avenge its desecrated honor!"
"Then you hope still for a change for the better?" asked Count Pueckler, mournfully.
"I base my hopes on the propitious star of Prussia," exclaimed Schill, enthusiastically, "on the future, on the wrath and grief which will awake now in all Prussian hearts, arousing the sluggards, strengthening the vacillating, and urging the timid. I base my hopes on the tears of Queen Louisa, which will move Heaven to help us and awaken avengers on earth. And, for ourselves, comrade, with our wounds, with our disgrace, we must be like the spirits of vengeance that sweep across the heath in the howling storm of diversity, and awaken the sleeper who would give way to dreams of peace and inaction. Prussia must not make peace in her present calamitous condition; she must fill the hearts and minds of all with longings for war, till the whole nation arises in its rage and expels the enemy from the country! My friend, we have now witnessed the downfall of Prussia, but henceforth we must exert ourselves in order to witness also her regeneration. We ourselves must be the—"
"Hush!" said Pueckler, hastily. "Just look there, and then take your sabre."
They were now near a field-path leading to a small wood which a slender youth had just left, and was hastily approaching them. As yet, however, he was so far from them that they were unable to distinguish his features or his dress, and to discern whether he was an armed soldier or a peaceable wanderer.
"It is, doubtless, a French soldier, and his comrades are lying in ambush," murmured Pueckler, placing his hand on his sword.
"If he wants to attack us, he had better say his death-prayers," said Schill, calmly. "There are two of us, and each has one uninjured arm."
The youth had meanwhile drawn nearer, and they saw that he did not wear any uniform.
"He is very young," said Pueckler, "and a civilian. He has apparently not yet seen us. That bush yonder is concealing us from his eyes. Let us stoop a little, and, as the path lies beyond, he may pass by without noticing us."
They knelt down behind the bush, but, while doing so, took their swords, and prepared for an attack. Then they held their breath and listened.
Profound silence reigned around, and nothing was to be heard but the quick steps of the wanderer, who drew nearer and nearer. Suddenly this silence was interrupted by a fresh and youthful voice, singing the air of a popular song.
"Ah, he sings," murmured Schill. "He who can sing to-day, must be very harmless, and it is not worth while to kill him."
"Hush! hush! let us listen to his song. He is now singing words to the melody. Just listen!"
The voice resounded nearer and nearer to the two listeners, and they could understand the words he was singing:
O Hermann! for thy country's fall No tears! Where vanquished valor bled The victor rules, and Slavery's pall, Upon these hills and vales is spread. Shame burns within me, for the brave Lie mouldering in the freeman's grave.
No voice! where sturdy Luther spoke Fearless for men who dared be free! O would that Heaven's thunder woke My people for their liberty! Must heroes fight and die in vain?— Ye cowards! grasp your swords again!
Revenge! revenge! a gory shroud To tyrants, and the slaves that yield' Eternal honor calls aloud For courage in the battle-field. Who loves or fears a conquered land That bows beneath the despot's hand?
And whither flee? Where Winkelried And Tell and Ruyter bravely broke Oppression's power—their country freed— All—all beneath the usurper's yoke! From Alpine fountains to the sea The patriot dead alone are free.
My people! in this sorrowing night, The clanking of your chains may be The sign of vengeance, and the fight Of former times the world may see, When Hermann in that storied day As a wild torrent cleft his way.
No idle song, O youth! thy boast. In self-born virtue be as one Who is himself a mighty host By whose sole arm is victory won. No blazoned monument so grand As death for the dear Fatherland.
To die! how welcome to the brave! The tomb awakes no coward fear Save to the wretched, trembling slave Who for his country sheds no tear. To crown me with a fadeless wreath Be thine, O happy, sacred death!
Come, shining sword! avenge my dead! Alone canst thou remove this shame. Proud ornament! with slaughter red Restore my native land its fame. By night, by day, in sun or shade, Be girt around me, trusty blade.
The trumpet on the morning gale! Arm! forward to the bloody strife! From loftiest mountain to the vale Asks dying Freedom for her life. Our standard raise, to glory given, And higher still our hearts to Heaven.
[Footnote 4: This is one of Arndt's soul-stirring, patriotic hymns, published in 1806. It is difficult to render into readable English this species of German heroic verse so as to preserve its rhythm. All the thought of the original is however expressed in the translation. The only change of any importance is the transposition of the seventh stanza.]
Keine Thraene, Hermann, fuer dein Volk? Keine Thraene, und die Schande brennet, Und der Feind gebietet, we die Freien Siegten und fielen?
Keine Stimme laut, wo Luther sprach? Alle Donner, die der Himmel sendet, Sollten rufen: Volk erwache! feiges; Greife zum Schwerte.
Rache! Rache! heissen, blut'gen Tod Sklavenfuersten und dem Knecht der fliehet! Maennerwort gefuerchtet und gepriesen, Maennliche Tugend!
Ach wohin? wo Winkelried erlag, Wilhelm schlug, und Ruyter tapfer siegte; Auf den hoechsten Alpen, in den tiefsten Suempfen ist Knechtschaft.
Auch du, Hermann's, auch du, kuehnes Volk? Auf! Erwache! Schuettle deine Ketten, Dass die Schmach die Welt vernehme, bald auch Blutige Rache!
Lieder helfen hier and Maeler nicht. Maeler? Tief im Herzen sei das Denkmal, An dem Thurm der selbstgebornen Tugend Hebe dich, Juengling!
Und voran geworfen kuehn die Brust, Und empor das Auge zu dem Himmel, Hoch die Fahne! Hoch zum Himmel! Hoeher Flammende Herzen.
Tod, du suesser, fuer das Vaterland, Suesser als der Brautgruss, als das Lallen Auf dem Mutterschooss des ersten Kindes, Sei mir willkommen!
Was das Lied nicht loeset, loest das Schwert, Blinkend Heil, umguerte meine Hueften! Vor der Schande kannst du Tapfre retten, Zierde der Tapfern!
Just when the youth had sung the last verse in a ringing voice, he had reached the bush. And now there arose above it two pale heads, wrapped in white, blood-stained handkerchiefs, and sang in enthusiastic tone the last verse of the song they had heard:
Was das Lied nicht loeset, loest das Schwert! Blinkend Heil, umguerte meine Hueften! Vor der Schande kannst du Tapfre retten, Zierde der Tapfern!
THE OATH OF VENGEANCE.
Speechless with surprise, the youth had listened to the song, and fixed his large eyes steadfastly on the two officers, whose uniforms and wounds revealed to him the melancholy fate that had befallen them during the last few days.
When the two were silent, he approached them with an air of profound respect.
"Bravo, officers of Auerstadt or Jena," he said, with a voice trembling with emotion, "permit a poor young wanderer to present his respects to you, and to thank you, in the name of the German fatherland, for the wounds on your foreheads. Such wounds are also an 'ornament of the brave.'" [An allusion to the last line of the original song.]
"And such words are an ornament of a noble heart," exclaimed Schill, offering his hand to the youth.
He took it with a joyful gesture, and, quickly kneeling down, imprinted a glowing kiss on the feverish hand of the wounded officer.
"My God!" exclaimed Schill, surprised, "what are you doing? How can a man kiss another's hand and kneel before him? Rise!"
"I am no man," said the youth, deeply moved. "I am but a poor boy, who has not yet done any thing for his country, and, perhaps, never will be able to do any thing for it, but who feels the most profound respect for those who were more fortunate than he. I, therefore, kiss your hand as Catholics kiss the hands of their saints and martyrs. For are you not at the present hour a martyr of German liberty? Hence, sir, give me your hand, too. Let me press my poor lips on it, also. It is the only way for me to manifest my profound respect for you."
"No," said Count Pueckler, feelingly, "you shall not kiss my hand, but my cheeks and my lips. Let me embrace you, young man, let me embrace you for the boon you have conferred on us by your words. Come, sir!"
The young man uttered a joyous cry, and, rising quickly, threw himself with youthful impetuosity into the count's arms.
"I will and must have my share in the embrace," exclaimed Schill, smiling; "did not you before expressly request me, comrade, to lend you my left arm for every embrace? Well, then, here it is."
He quickly wound his left arm around the necks of the others, and pressed them firmly to his heart. When they withdrew their arms again, tears were glistening in the eyes of the officers as well as in those of the youth.
"Grief and adversity cause men easily to fraternize," said Schill, "and therefore we shall be brethren henceforward."
"You will be my brethren?" exclaimed the young man, joyfully. "You will permit the poor boy to call two heroes brethren?"
"Heroes!" said Pueckler, sighing. "Then you do not know, my friends, that we were disgracefully defeated and trampled under foot in yesterday's battle?"
"I know that, but know also that the luck of battles is not the true standard for the bravery of warriors. You at least did not run, and, like true heroes, you bear your wounds on your foreheads; your mothers, therefore, will proudly bid you welcome; your betrothed or your wives will embrace you with rapturous tears, and your friends will be proud of your valor."
"Does it not seem almost as though he had heard our mournful and despondent words, and wished to comfort us?" asked Schill, turning to the count. "His blue eyes apparently do not behold only our physical wounds, but also those which cause our hearts to bleed, and he wishes to apply a balm to them by his sweet, flattering words."
"He wishes to console the poor defeated, and reconcile them to their fate," said Pueckler, nodding kindly to the youth.
"You have a better and more generous opinion of me than I deserve," he said, sadly bowing his head so as to shake its exuberant mass of long, fair hair. "I simply told you what I thought, and what every one who looks at both of you will and must think."
"Would to God you spoke the truth, young man!" said Count Pueckler, mournfully. "Believe me, however, but few will think like yourself; a great many will rejoice at seeing us defeated and humiliated."
"Instead of bewailing us, they will deride us," exclaimed Schill; "instead of weeping with us, they will revile us!"
"Who will dare to do so?" exclaimed the youth, in an outburst of generous anger. "Do you forget, then, that you are in Germany, and that you have shed your blood for your country? Your German brethren will not deride you; they will not rejoice at your sufferings; they will hope with you for a better and more fortunate day when you will get even with that insolent and hateful enemy, for the battles of Jena and Auerstadt."
"Pray to God, my young friend, that that day may speedily dawn!" said Count Pueckler, heaving a sigh.
"Pray!" ejaculated the young man, impetuously. "In times like ours it is not sufficient to pray and to hope for divine assistance; we ought rather to act and toil, and, instead of folding our hands, arm them either with the sword or with the dagger."
"With the dagger?" asked Schill. "The dagger is the weapon of assassins."
"Was Moeros an assassin because he wanted to stab Dionysius the tyrant?" asked the youth. "Was he not rather a generous and high-minded man, whom our great Schiller deemed worthy of becoming the hero of one of his finest poems? When the fatherland is in danger, every weapon is sacred, and every way lawful which a bold heart desires to pursue, to deliver the country."
"Well, I see already that your heart will choose the right, and not shrink back from dangers," said Pueckler, kindly. "But, in the first place, tell us which way you are now going to take, that we may know whether we shall be allowed to accompany you or not."
"I come from Erfurt, where my parents are living," said the young man; "last night I was at Weimar, and now I am going to do what I have sworn a solemn oath to my father to do. I am on my way to Leipsic."
"And may I inquire what you are going to do in Leipsic?"
The young man was silent, and a flaming blush mantled for a moment his delicate, innocent face. "According to my father's wishes, I shall become there a merchant's apprentice," he said, in a low and embarrassed voice.
"What! Feeling so generous an enthusiasm for the fatherland and its soldiers, you want to become a merchant?" asked Schill, in surprise.
The youth raised his blue eyes to him; they were filled with tears.
"I am ordered to become a merchant," he said in a low voice. "My father is a pious preacher, and hates and detests warfare; he says it is sinful for men to raise their weapons against their brethren, as though they were wild beasts, against which you cannot defend yourself but by killing them. My mother, in former days, became familiar with the horrors of war; she fears, therefore, lest her only son should fall prey to them, and wishes to protect him from such a fate. With bitter tears, with folded hands, nay, almost on her knees, she implored me to desist from my purpose of becoming a soldier, and not to break her heart with grief and anguish. My mother begged and wept, my father scolded and threatened, and thus I was obliged to yield and be a dutiful son. Three days ago my father administered the sacrament to me, and I swore an oath to him at the altar to remain faithful to the avocation he had selected for me, and never to become a soldier!"
He paused, and the tears which had filled his eyes rolled like pearls over his cheeks.
"Poor friend!" murmured Pueckler.
"Poor brother!" said Schill, indignantly. "To be doomed to wield the yardstick in place of the sword! How can a father be so cruel as to make his son take such a pledge at the present time?"
"My father is not cruel," said the youth, gently; "his only aim is my happiness, but he wishes to bring it about in his own way, and not in mine. It behooves a son to yield and obey. Accordingly, I shall not become a soldier, but God knows whether it will be conducive to my happiness. Many a one has already been driven to commit a crime by his despair at having chosen an unsuitable avocation. But let us speak no more of myself," he added, shaking his head indignantly, as if he wanted to drive the tears from his eyes; "let us speak no more of my petty, miserable grief, but of your great sorrow, which all Germany shares with you. You know now every thing concerning my affairs, and it only remains for me to mention my name. It is Staps; 'Frederick Staps' will be my firm one day, if I should live to see it."
"Your name is Frederick, like that of Prussia's great king," said Schill, comfortingly, "and who knows whether you will not one day become a great soldier like him?"
"But I have told you already that I have sworn at the altar never to become a soldier," said Frederick Staps, sighing. "I shall never break the oath I have sworn to my father, nor the one either which I have sworn to myself!"
"The oath that you will become a good and honest man, I suppose?" asked Pueckler.
"It is unnecessary to take such an oath, because that is a matter of course," said Frederick Staps, quickly. "I swore another oath, but nobody but God must know it. When the time has come, you shall be informed of it. Do not forget my name, and when you hear from me one day, remember this hour and the tears you saw me shed for being compelled to choose an avocation that is repugnant to me."
"And in order to remember us, you must know who we are," exclaimed Count Pueckler, stating his name.
"And my name is Schill," said the lieutenant. "We fought at Auerstadt and Jena, and are now wandering about, and seeking for a place where we may spend the coming night."
"You will find it in the village in the rear of the wood," said Frederick Staps. "Come, I will guide you back to the village and to the country parson, to whom I have on my way just presented my father's respects. He is a good and generous man. You will be kindly received and nursed by him and his wife; and if French soldiers should come to his house, he would not betray, but conceal you."
"Oh, what delightful words you have just uttered!" exclaimed Schill, joyously. "Blessed be your lips which have announced to us that we shall be saved, for, let me tell you, we should prefer death to French captivity!"
"I understand that," said Frederick Staps, quietly. "Come, I will guide you thither."
"And we accept your offer, as friends ought to accept that of a friend," said Count Pueckler. "We do not say: 'We cause you trouble and loss of time; let us therefore try to find our way alone;' but we say: 'In these days of affliction we are all brethren, and we must rely on each other's assistance.' Come, therefore, brother, and be our guide."
They walked slowly toward the small wood from which Staps had issued.
"You stated you had been in Weimar, and spent a night there," asked Count Pueckler. "How does the place look—what do people say, and who is there?"
"It looks like a pandemonium," replied Staps. "Nothing is to be heard but curses, shouts, threats, and screams: nothing to be seen but faces pale with terror, and fleeing from the pursuing soldiers. The streets are crowded with men, wagons, and horses. The inhabitants want to leave the city; they know not whither to escape, and are forced back at the gates by French soldiers making their entry, or by vehicles filled with wounded."
"And how is it at the palace? The duchess has fled from the wrath of the conqueror, I suppose?"
"No, the duchess has remained to beg Napoleon to have mercy on her state and her husband."
"But is Napoleon already in Weimar?"
"Yes; he came over from Jena this morning. The duchess received him at the foot of the palace staircase, and did not avert her eyes from his angry and haughty glances, but looked at him with the proud calmness of a noble German lady. 'You have not fled, then?' asked Napoleon, harshly. 'Then you do not fear my anger at the senseless and hostile conduct of your husband?' The duchess looked quietly at him. 'You see, sire, I have remained because I have confided in your generosity, and wished to intercede for my husband and my people.' Napoleon looked at her during a long pause, and her quiet dignity seemed to impress him very favorably. 'That was well done,' he said at last, 'and for your sake, and because you have reposed confidence in me, I will forgive your husband.' I do not know what occurred afterward, for I left the palace when Napoleon had retired to the rooms reserved for his personal use. My cousin, who is lady's maid of the duchess, told me what I have just related to you."
[Footnote 5: Napoleon's own words.—Vide "Memoires de Constant," vol. iv., and "History of Napoleon," by * * * r, vol. ii., p. 109.]
"And you did not hear any thing about our king and his consort?"
"Both are said to be on the way to Magdeburg, where they will remain, if the pursuing enemy will permit them. Napoleon's hatred and wrath are not yet satiated, and his latest bulletin is written in the same vulgar guard-room style as all the recent manifestoes in which he dares to revile the noble and beautiful queen."
"Then another bulletin has appeared?"
"It was just distributed among the troops when I left Weimar. A soldier, whom I asked for his copy, gave it to me. Do you wish to read it?"
"Read it to us," said Count Pueckler. "Let us rest a little in the shade of these trees, for I confess I feel greatly exhausted, and my feet refuse to carry me any farther. And how do you feel, comrade?"
"Do you believe," asked Schill, in a faint voice, "do you believe that I should not have given vent to my anger at the impudence of that Corsican who dares to revile our noble queen, if I had had sufficient strength to speak? Let us sit down and rest. See, there is a splendid old oak. Let us take breath under its shade."
They walked toward a large oak, which stood at the entrance of the wood, and the foot of which was overgrown with fragrant green moss. Assisted by Staps, the two officers seated themselves, and the roots, covered with soft turf, served as pillows to their wounded heads.
"Oh, how delightful to rest on German soil under a German oak!" sighed Schill. "I should like to lie here all my lifetime, looking up to the rustling leaves, and dreaming! Amid the stillness surrounding us, it is almost impossible to believe that we witnessed yesterday such wild strife and bloodshed. Is all this reality, or have we had merely an evil, feverish dream?"
"Touch your forehead; try to raise your right arm, and you will see that it is reality," said Pueckler, laughing bitterly, "and if you should have any doubt, let our young friend read the latest bulletin issued by our triumphator. But will you promise not to interrupt him, nor to be angry at what we are going to hear?"
"I promise you to be perfectly calm, for my weakness compels me to be so. Read, friend Staps. But, pray, let us have the German translation, for it would be a violation of the peaceful silence of the forest, and of the sacredness of the German oak, if we should use here the language of our enemies."
Frederick Staps sat down opposite the officers, on the trunk of a fallen tree. Drawing a paper from his bosom, he unfolded it, and read as follows:
"The battle of Jena has effaced the disgrace of Rossbach, and decided a campaign in seven days. Since the ninth of October we have proceeded from victory to victory, and the battles of Jena and Auerstadt have crowned all. The Prussian army is dispersed—almost annihilated. The king is wandering about without shelter, and the queen will now regret with bitter tears that she instigated her husband to this senseless and unjust war. Admirable was the conduct of our whole army, soul-stirring the enthusiasm of the brave soldiers for their chieftain and emperor. When there was any momentary difficulty to overcome, the shout of 'Long live the emperor!' resounded, animating all souls, and carrying away all hearts. The emperor saw at the most critical moment of the battle that the enemy's cavalry threatened the flanks of the infantry. He galloped up to order new manoeuvres, and the front to be transformed into a square. At every step he was hailed by shouts of 'Long live the emperor!' The soldiers of the imperial guard were jealous of all the other corps who participated in the battle, while they alone were inactive. Several voices were already heard to shout, 'Forward!' The emperor turned and asked, 'What is that? He must assuredly be a beardless youth who wishes to anticipate me as to what I ought to do. Let him wait until he has commanded in twenty battles; then he may claim to be my adviser.' The whole guard replied to this rebuke by the unanimous shout of 'Long live the emperor!' and rushed toward the enemy, when, at length, the order was given to charge. The results of this battle are from thirty to forty thousand prisoners, three hundred field-pieces, and thirty standards. Among the prisoners there are more than twenty generals. The losses of the Prussian army are very heavy, amounting to more than twenty thousand killed and wounded. Our losses are estimated at about twelve hundred killed and three thousand wounded."
[Footnote 6: Fifth bulletin of the Grand Army.]
"Profound silence ensued when Staps had read the bulletin. The two officers were still lying on the ground, and their dilated eyes gazing at the roof of foliage above them."
"And we must quietly listen to that," said Schill, after a long pause; "and our hearts do not break with grief and rage! heaven does not grow dark, and earth does not open to swallow up the degraded, in order to save them compassionately from the sense of their humiliation! These words will be read by the whole of Europe, and all will know that this insolent conqueror may dare with impunity to speak in insulting terms of our queen, the purest and best of women!"
"He is the master of the world, and will issue many more bulletins of this description, and speak in such terms of many more princes and princesses," said Count Pueckler. "He has the power to do so. He needs only stretch out his hand, and kingdoms fall to ruins—nations are at his feet, and cry imploringly: 'Let us be your slaves, and lay your hand on us as our lord and master!' It is useless to resist him. Let us, therefore, submit."
"No," exclaimed Schill, rising, "no, let us not submit. When a whole nation arouses itself, and shakes its lion's mane, there is no hand, even though it were an iron one, that could hold and subdue it."
"But our nation will not rise again—it has been crushed," said Pueckler, mournfully. "It is sleeping the sleep of death."
"No, it has not been crushed. No, it will not die!" exclaimed Schill, in an outburst of generous rage. "It is only necessary to instill genuine vitality into its veins, and to awaken it from its lethargy by soul-stirring exhortations, as our young friend here encouraged and strengthened us an hour ago by his noble song. Oh, sing again, friend Staps! Purify the air—which is still infected by the words of the imperial bulletin—purify it by another German song, and let the native oak, which has listened to our disgrace, now hear also manly words. Sing! and may your voice reach our poor soldiers who are closing their eyes on the battle-field; and may it breathe the consolation into their ears, 'You die for Germany, but Germany does not die—she lives, and will rise again!'"
"Yes, I will sing," said Frederick Staps, enthusiastically, "but I wish that every note issuing from my breast would transform itself into a sword, and strike around with the storm's resistless fury!"
"In that case all of us, and yourself, too, would be the first victims," said Pueckler, with a melancholy smile.
"Of what consequence are our lives, if they are given up for the fatherland?" exclaimed Staps, fervently. "Oh, believe me, I could, like Mucius Scaevola, lay my hand on the red-hot iron, and not wince, but sing jubilant hymns, if I thought that my torture would be useful to my country. Now, I can only sing, only pray, only weep. But who knows whether I shall not become one day a modern Mucius Scaevola, a modern Moeros, and deliver the world from its tyrant?"
And suddenly raising his voice, with a radiant face, he began to sing:
Frisch auf! Es ruft das Vaterland Die Maenner in die Schlacht. Frisch auf! Zu daempfen Trug und Schand! Heran mit Macht, mit Macht! Heran und braucht den Maennerleib, Wozu ihn Gott gebaut: Zum Schirm der Jungfrau und dem Weib, Dem Saeugling und der Braut!
Denn ein Tyrann mit Luegenwort Und Strick und Henkerschwert, Uebt in dem Vaterlande Mord, Und schaendet Thron und Heerd, Und will, so weit die Sonne scheint Der einz'ge Koenig sein; Ein Menschenfeind, ein Freiheitsfeind, Spricht er: die Welt ist mein!
Verhuet' es Gott und Hermann's Blut! Nie werde solches wahr! Erwache, alter deutscher Muth, Der Recht und Licht gebar! Erwache! sonder Rast und Ruh, Schlag' Jeden der dir droht, Und ruf' ihm deutsche Losung zu: "Sieg gelt' es, oder Tod!"
[Footnote 7: "Victory or death!" A very popular hymn of that period.]
"Victory or death!" shouted the two officers, raising their hands and eyes toward heaven.
"When will the Germans sing and act in this manner?" asked Count Pueckler, sadly.
"When we have awakened them!" exclaimed Schill, joyfully. "For that is now our only task: to arouse the Germans, and to remind them of their duty and honor. Every one ought to raise his voice for this purpose, and toil for it. The time is past when the nation was separated from the army, and when the civilian hated the soldier. All these separate interests we buried yesterday on the battle-fields of Jena and Auerstadt. Heaven permitted our army to be defeated for the purpose of teaching us that its heart was demoralized and its vitality entirely gone. But Bonaparte, who believes his successes to be due solely to his own energy and sagacity, is, after all, nothing but the scourge that God uses to chastise us. And, after chastising us sufficiently, the scourge will be cast aside, and lie on the ground, trampled under foot and despised, while we shall rise and become again a glorious nation. But, in order to bring about this change, it is necessary to arouse the Prussians, and fan the flames of their patriotism. Every Prussian must feel and know that he is a soldier of the grand army which we shall one day place in the field against the so-called grand army of Napoleon, and, when the call of 'Rally round the flag!' resounds, he must take up the sword, and proudly feel that the holy vengeance of the fatherland is placed in his hands."
"But suppose there is no one to utter the cry of 'Rally round the flag!' how are the people to appear and take up arms?"
"We are there, and we shall exhort the people to arms!" said Schill, energetically. "Henceforth, we must not wait until the generals call us; we ourselves must be generals, and organize armies—every one after his own fashion—according to his influence. We must travel over the country, and enlist recruits. As we have no standing army, we must form independent corps, and, by means of raids, harass and molest the enemy. The strongest lion succumbs when stung by many bees. Every Prussian must turn conspirator, and prevail on his neighbor to join the great conspiracy; secret leagues and clubs must be instituted everywhere, and work and agitate until we are united like one man, and, with the resistless power of our holy wrath, expel the tyrant who enslaves us!"
"Yes, you are right; we must not give way to timid despondency, but hope and dare every thing. Every one must become a general, and enlist troops, to attack the enemy whenever and wherever he can!"
"I shall also enlist my troops, and lead them against the enemy," exclaimed Staps, with sparkling eyes. "But my troops will not be made of flesh and blood. They will be the songs I sing, and one day I shall march out with them, and challenge the tyrant to mortal combat! Yes, you are right in saying, 'Every one must fight after his own fashion, and according to his power and influence;' let me fight, too, after my fashion!"
"Go and fight, and may the blessings of all the brave follow you!" said Schill, placing his hand on the head of the youth. "Let us take here, under the German oak, a solemn oath that we will devote our fortunes, our lives, and our sacred honor, to the fatherland!"
"Yes," exclaimed Pueckler and Staps, "we will take that oath!"
"Let us," said Schill, "then swear to strive for nothing but to deliver Germany from the grasp of the tyrant."
"We swear," continued Schill, "to regard ourselves from this hour as soldiers of the grand army one day to battle for our liberties—to leave nothing undone in enlisting fresh troops—that our life shall be nothing but an inexorable and never-flagging struggle against the usurper—that we will rather die than submit. We vow vengeance against him, and deliverance to the fatherland!"
When all had repeated this oath, Schill said, solemnly, "The German oak has heard our words, and they are registered on high; now, my friends, let us go and enter into a new life—a new future. Let us take care of the body, in order to impart strength to the mind to carry out its schemes. Come, let us go!"
They passed on, and soon reached the village, guided by Staps to the parsonage.
The clergyman joyfully received the officers; his wife prepared her best rooms for them, and pledged herself, like her husband, to protect them at the risk of her life, if French soldiers should arrive, and search the house for wounded Prussians.
"Now you are safe, and I can go," said Frederick Staps, when he was again alone with his friends, their host having withdrawn to prepare every thing that was necessary for the comfort of his guests. "I cannot stay here any longer, for I have promised my father to proceed without delay to Leipsic, and I must keep my pledge to him, as I shall keep it to you. Farewell, friends; may God protect you, and may your deeds fill the world with your glory, so that the poor merchant's apprentice in Leipsic may also hear of it!"
"The poor merchant's apprentice is also a soldier of our grand army of the future," said Schill; "we have enlisted him, and he will go and fulfil his duty to his fatherland."
"Yes, you may depend on it he will do his duty," exclaimed Staps, "and you will hear of him one day. Farewell, and, please God! we shall meet again!"
"Yes, we shall meet again," said the two officers, cordially shaking hands with the youth, and taking leave of him.
Staps left the room hastily. When he turned round once more at the door, and greeted the friends with a nod, they saw that his eyes were filled with tears.
The clergyman's wife now entered to serve up the dinner she herself had prepared, and there was added a bottle of old Hock from the wine-cellar.
"In the first place, however," said the clergyman to Schill, "I must see and dress your arm, sir; I am quite experienced in dressing wounds, having taken lessons in surgery in order to assist our poor peasants in case of injuries, and render it unnecessary for them to pay large doctors' bills. Let me, therefore, be your surgeon, too."
Schill gratefully accepted his kind offer, and after his wife had brought every thing necessary for dressing a wound, the clergyman examined Schill's arm, and removed the coagulated blood from it.
"It is a very deep flesh-wound," he said, "fortunately the bone is uninjured."
"Then I shall soon be able to use my arm again?" asked Schill, joyfully.
"Not for a few weeks yet, unless you wish to run the risk of losing it entirely. Mortification might set in after the wound has commenced ulcerating. Hence, you must be very cautious, and live as quietly as possible. Your hands are now already burning, and your fever will be very severe. Unfortunately, I have brought up my wine in vain. Both of you, gentlemen, will not be able to drink it to-day, nor to-morrow, nor the day after to-morrow either. For the first three days your fever, as I stated already, will be very serious."
This prediction was fulfilled. For three days the officers were unable to rise from their couch. They were delirious, and unaware of the danger menacing them. A French regiment had come to the village to spend the night, and four of its officers established their headquarters at the parsonage.
But as soon as the French troops had been descried in the neighborhood of the village, the clergyman, assisted by his wife and servants, had removed the wounded, and prepared a safe refuge for them in the hay-loft of his barn, far from the dwelling-house. He himself remained with them, and, while his wife received the French officers, and informed them that her husband was not at home, the good old man was sitting in the hay-loft beside his guests, nursing them with the kindness of a father and the skill of an experienced physician. He had locked the door of his asylum, and a loaded gun and unsheathed sword were within his reach, in order forcibly to drive back the French, in case they should try to penetrate into this hiding-place.
But the danger passed, and the fever abated. Four days afterward the two Prussians were strong enough to continue their journey. The clergyman himself drove them in his carriage to the neighboring town, where they bought two horses and departed—not together, however, but by different routes. Count Pueckler took the road to Breslau; Ferdinand von Schill turned toward Kolberg.
Before parting, they cordially shook hands once more.
"Let us remember the oath under the German oak," said Schill.
"Yes," replied Pueckler. "We shall not desert the fatherland, but serve it with our whole strength, and after that is exhausted, we know how to die."
The utmost uneasiness and suspense prevailed in Berlin. Several rumors had already reached the capital. It was reported that, on the 14th of October, a battle had taken place between the Prussians and French forces. To-day was the 18th, and no news had been received; nothing definite was known about the result of the battle. But the people said, if it had been favorable to the Prussians, the couriers, to whom joy would have lent wings, would have reached the capital long since; and this continued silence and incertitude seemed to the inhabitants of Berlin more discouraging than any positive intelligence, however disastrous it might be.
No one had the heart to work longer—no one could be prevailed upon to follow his usual avocation; all felt paralyzed by a secret terror; and hastened into the street, as though they hoped some decisive news would fly through the air and put an end to this dreadful suspense.
All Berlin seemed to have met in the streets on the morning of this 18th October, and the people hastened in vast crowds toward the house of the governor of the capital; they consisted to-day not only of the lower classes of society but the noblest and best had united with them. Men of mind and education, the representatives of art and science, were to be seen among them. There was no distinction of rank or position—every one felt that he was united with his fellow-citizens by the same care, anxiety, and affection; every one knew that all the thousands surrounding him entertained the same wishes and apprehensions, and thus social distinctions were unnoticed. The high-born and the rich, the poor and the lowly, all felt only that they were Prussians—that they were Germans; all were animated by one desire; to learn what had been the result of the battle, and whether the Prussians, faithful to their ancient military glory, had defeated the enemy, or, like the other nations, succumbed to Napoleon.
Thousands hastened, therefore, to the residence of the governor of Berlin, Count von Schulenburg, and called vociferously for him. When the count appeared on the balcony and asked what the crowd wanted, hundreds of voices shouted in thundering chorus: "We want to know whether the army has fought a battle, and whether it was defeated!"
Count Schulenburg shrugged his shoulders, and amid the silence that ensued his ringing voice was heard to say: "I have not yet received any definite intelligence; but so soon as I have it, I shall deem it incumbent upon me to communicate it to the citizens of Berlin."
The governor returned with tottering steps into his house. For a moment the people remained silent, and seemed still to listen to the words they had just heard; but suddenly a loud, powerful voice shouted: "If the governor does not know any thing, perhaps Professor Lange does. He has established a newspaper for the special purpose of communicating to us the latest news from the seat of war; let us go to his house and ask him what the Telegraph says."
[Footnote 8: The Telegraph was a journal founded by a certain Professor Lange, on the day when the Prussian army left Berlin. In his prospectus he spoke in the most fulsome terms of the "invincible army of Frederick the Great," and promised to publish always the latest news from the seat of war.]
"Yes, yes, let us go to his house and ask him what the Telegraph says!" yelled the crowd. "Where does Professor Lange live? Who can guide us to him?"
"I can do so," said the same voice that had spoken before. "Professor Lange lives at 22 Leipsic Street."
"Come, come, let us go to Professor Lange! Let us hear what the Telegraph says!" shouted the crowd, and hastened across the Opera Place and Gensdarmes Market down Charlotte Street to the residence of the journalist.
"The Telegraph! the Telegraph!" yelled the people. "We want to know what the Telegraph says! Professor Lange, give us the news from the seat of war!"
A window on the first floor was hastily opened, and the pale, frightened face of a gentleman looked out. "What do you want to see me for?" asked a tremulous and hollow voice. "Why do you mention the Telegraph?"
"We want news from the army! We want to know whether it is true that we have lost a battle!"
"God forbid!" said the gentleman at the window. "I have not received any news whatever for the last three days; I know only one thing, and that is, that Cabinet Counsellor Lombard, who was at the headquarters of the army in Weimar, returned last night to Berlin, and is now at his residence. Counsellor Lombard, therefore, would be the man to whom you ought to apply."
"Lombard! Lombard!" shouted the crowd, accompanying the name with bitter imprecations. When this name was heard, all faces turned gloomy, and every voice assumed an angry and threatening tone.
"Lombard is to blame for every thing!" grumbled a few here and there, and "Lombard is to blame for every thing!" was repeated louder and louder. The excitement was as when a storm, sweeping over the sea, lashes its waves, until, rising higher and higher, they foam with fury.
"Lombard sides with the French!" reiterated the surging mass. "He has secretly informed the enemy of all the operations of our army, and if the Prussians are defeated, he will be glad of it. We will go to Lombard, and he must tell us all he knows. But woe to him if the news should be bad!"
And the multitude with savage yells hastened down the street, back to the Linden, and toward the residence of Cabinet Counsellor Lombard.
All the window-blinds of his house were closed, as they had been for the last two weeks, since this well-known favorite of Minister von Haugwitz had repaired to the headquarters of the army at Weimar. But Professor Lange had stated, perhaps for the sole purpose of diverting the general attention from himself, and of directing it toward the unpopular cabinet counsellor, that Lombard had returned, and the people believed him.
"Lombard! Lombard!" shouted hundreds of voices. Eyes which had hitherto looked only sad and anxious became threatening; many a fist was lifted up to the closed windows, and many an imprecation uttered.
"If a disaster has taken place, it is Lombard's fault," cried one of the crowd.
"If it is his fault, he shall and must atone for it," exclaimed another.
"He has no heart for Prussia's honor," said a third. "He is a German-Frenchman, and would not object if the whole of Prussia should become a French province. If he knew how to do it, he certainly would not shrink from it, even should he bring captivity and distress upon the king and the queen!"
"He has already done much mischief," shouted another. "The Russian army which was to support ours ought to have been here long ago, but he detained the dispatches in which the king informed the czar that our army had advanced against the French. It is his fault that the Russians have not yet arrived."
"It is his fault that the Russians have not yet arrived!" roared the wild chorus, and the furious men began to rush toward the house. Many armed themselves with stones, hurled them at the walls and broke the windows; others commenced striking with vigorous fists at the closed door.
"Open the door! open the door! We want to see Lombard! He shall account for what he has done!" exclaimed the enraged men. "Woe to him if it be true that we have lost a battle! Woe to him if—"
"Silence! silence!" suddenly thundered a loud, imperious voice. "See, there is a courier!"
"A courier! A courier!" and all rushed back from the house into the street; every eye turned toward the horseman, who approached at full gallop.
As if obeying a military command, the multitude made way for him, but at every step they closed behind him, and, pressing him on all sides, his progress was exceedingly slow.
But the courier, with his gloomy mien and pale cheeks, looked like a bearer of bad news, and when the people had scanned his features, they murmured, "He brings bad news! A disaster is written on his forehead!"
"Let me pass," he said in an imploring voice; "in the name of the king, let me pass!" And as he spurred his horse, the bystanders fell back in alarm.
"'In the name of the king!' the king, then, is still alive?"
"Yes, the king is alive!" replied the courier, sadly. "I have dispatches from him for the Governor of Berlin and Cabinet Counsellor Lombard."
"And what do these dispatches contain?" asked a thousand voices.
"I do not know, and even though I did, I am not at liberty to tell you. The governor will communicate the news to the inhabitants of Berlin."
"Tell us the news!" demanded the people.
"I cannot do so; and, moreover, I do not know any thing about it," replied the courier, who had now reached Lombard's house, and whose horse was again so closely surrounded that it was scarcely able to move its feet.
"Do not detain me, my friends, I beseech you—let me dismount here," said the courier. "I must deliver my dispatches to Cabinet Counsellor Lombard."
"Oh, let him deliver his dispatches. We can afterward compel M. Lombard to communicate their contents."
"Yes; let him deliver his dispatches," said all; "Lombard shall presently tell us what they contain."
The crowd stood back on both sides of the door, and busy hands were ready to assist the rider in dismounting. But before he had been able to do so, a voice from the rear was heard: "Ask him where the queen is at present!"
"Yes, yes, where is the queen? where is the queen?"
"The queen?" said he. "I passed her fifteen minutes ago near the city and delivered dispatches to her, too. The queen? Look there!" And he pointed to the Brandenburg gate.
A carriage, drawn by six horses, was seen rapidly approaching.
"The queen! It is the queen!" joyfully shouted every one, and the thousands who had been a moment before so anxious to learn the news, and to call Lombard to account, rushed toward the carriage. Meantime the courier, whose presence seemed to be entirely forgotten, dismounted, and rapped softly at the door. It was at once opened in a cautious manner, and a voice whispered: "Take your horse into the house. You can afterward ride through the garden, and out of the back gate to the governor's residence."
The door was hastily thrown open, and closed as soon as the courier had entered with his horse. No notice was taken of this movement, for every one thought only of the queen, and looked anxiously through the closed coach windows.
"The queen! It is the queen!" exclaimed the people, greeting the beloved lady in the most rapturous manner. All arms were raised in sign of respect, and every voice uttered a welcome of "Long live the queen!"
The carriage window was lowered, and Louisa's beautiful face appeared; but she looked pale and afflicted; her eyes, generally so radiant, seemed dimmed and tearful; yet she tried to smile, and bowed repeatedly to her enthusiastic friends, who rushed impetuously toward her, and, in their exultation, forgetful of the rules of etiquette, seized the reins and stopped the horses.
"We want to see our queen! Long live our Queen Louisa!" cried thousands of voices. Those who stood nearest the carriage, and beheld her countenance, fell on their knees in the fervor of their love, and eyes that never before had wept were filled with tears; for she seemed as an angel of sorrow and suffering. She rose, and, leaning out of the coach door, returned the affectionate greetings of her faithful subjects, and, weeping, stretched out her arms as if to bless them.
"Long live the queen! Long live Louisa!" they cried, and those who held the horses, in order to stop the carriage, dropped the reins, rushed toward the coach door, threw up their hats, and joined in the welcome cry. The coachman, profiting by this movement, drove onward. The people, whose desire had been satisfied in having seen their queen, no longer resisted, and permitted the carriage to roll away.
Louisa closed her coach window, and, sinking back upon the cushions, exclaimed in a heart-rending tone, "Alas! it is perhaps the last time that they thus salute me! Soon, perhaps, I shall be no longer Queen of Prussia!" She buried her face in her hands, and sobbed aloud.
"Do not weep," whispered Madame von Berg, the queen's intimate friend, who was sitting by her side, "do not weep. It may be a dispensation of Providence that the crown shall fall from your head for a moment, but He will replace it more firmly, and one day you will again be happy."
"Oh, it is not for the sake of my own majesty, and for my little worldly splendor, that I am lamenting at this moment," said the queen, removing her hands from her face. "I should gladly plunge into obscurity and death if my husband and my children were exempted from humiliation, and if these good people, who love me, and are attached to their king, should not be compelled to recognize a foreigner as their master, and bow to him!"
"Even though the people should be subjugated at present," said Madame von Berg, solemnly, "they will rise one day and avenge their disgrace!"
"Would you were a true prophetess!" exclaimed Louisa. "I hope the people will remain faithful to us in adversity, and never forget their love for their king! Yes, I will hope for that day, and pray that it may come speedily. I will weep no more; but remember that I am a mother, and shall see my children again—not to leave them, but to hasten with them to my husband, who is waiting for me at Kuestrin. In half an hour we must continue our journey."
Just then the carriage drove past the main guard-house. The soldiers presented arms, and the drums beat.
A melancholy smile overspread the queen's features. "Do you remember what Prince Louis Ferdinand said to his mother, on the eve of his departure to the army?" she asked in a low voice.
"No, your majesty, I do not remember, and it is possible that I never heard of it."
"The princess believed a defeat of our army to be utterly impossible," said the queen. "She thought Prussia was so strong a bulwark that the proud assault of the French empire would be in vain. 'You are mistaken,' exclaimed Prince Louis Ferdinand; 'you think nothing will change, and the drums will always be beaten when you ride out at the gate? On the contrary, I tell you, mamma, one day you will ride out of the gate, and no drums will be beaten!' The same will happen to us, my dear—we will often ride out of the gate, and no drums will be beaten. But here is our house, and I must hide my tears. I will show a smiling face to my children."
The queen's carriage stopped for the first time at the doorsteps of the palace without meeting there the ladies and gentlemen of the court, the high dignitaries and functionaries who had formerly never failed to wait on her. She had come without being expected, but on this day of anxiety and terror the announcement of her arrival would have made no difference; for every one thought only of himself, and was occupied with his own safety. Only a few faithful servants, therefore, received her, and bade her welcome with tearful eyes.
"Where are my children?" exclaimed the queen, anxiously. "Why are they not here to receive their mother?"
"Your majesty," said the palace-steward, in a low voice, "a courier, sent hither by the king, arrived last night, unfortunately having failed to meet with your majesty on the road. The royal princes and princesses set out two hours ago to Stettin, and thence to Grandenz. Such were his majesty's orders."
The queen suppressed the cry of pain which rose to her lips, but a deadly pallor overspread her cheeks. "In half an hour I shall set out," she said faintly. "Pack up only the most indispensable articles for me; in half an hour I must be ready to enter my carriage. I shall, perhaps, overtake my children in Stettin." And she retired to her room, struggling to conceal the emotions that so violently agitated her.
QUIET IS THE CITIZEN'S FIRST DUTY.
The people in the meantime, gathering in still greater numbers in the broad street under the Linden, returned to the house of Lombard, and saw, to their great disappointment, that the courier was no longer there.
"Now, we want to know the news contained in the dispatches, and Counsellor Lombard must tell us," shouted one of the men standing in front of the house; he then commenced hammering the door with his powerful fists. Others joined him, and to the measure of this threatening music the crowd yelled, "The dispatches! the dispatches! Lombard must come out! He must tell us what the dispatches contain! We want to know whether our army has been defeated, or has won the battle!"
When no voice replied, nor door nor window opened, the mob, whose anger grew more menacing, seized once more their former weapons, the stones, and hurled them at the house. "He shall not escape from us! We will stay here until he makes his appearance, and replies to our questions!" they cried. "If he do not come to us, we will go to him and compel him to hear us!"
"Fortunately, you will not find him at home," whispered Lombard, who was listening at the door. "Every thing is in good order," he added in a low voice. "The dear enraged people will have to hammer a good while before breaking these bolts. By that time I shall be far from here, on the road to Stettin."
The cabinet counsellor glided away with a sarcastic smile to the back gate. There stood his wife, weeping piteously and wringing her hands.
M. Lombard, who had hitherto only smiled, now laughed outright. "Truly," he said, "it is really worth while to make a scene in consequence of this demonstration of the people! My dear, I should think our family ought to know how to manage them! Your father has shaved those stupid fiends enough, and my father pulled the wool over their eyes, and, as good children of our parents, we ought to do so too."
[Footnote 9: Lombard's father was a hair-dresser, and his wife's father a barber. Lombard liked to jest about his descent, particularly at the dinner-table of some prince or minister. He always alluded to his father in the following terms: "Feu mon pere de poudreuse memoire!"]
"Oh, Lombard, just listen," wailed his wife, "they are knocking at the door with heavy clubs; we must perish if they succeed in forcing it open and entering the house. They will assassinate you, for you have heard their imprecations against you."
"Ma chere," said Lombard, composedly, "this is not the first time that I discover that the people despise and persecute me. I knew it long ago. These blockheads will never forgive me for being a Frenchman, and for having, consequently, a predilection for France and her heroic emperor. And not only they, but the so-called educated and high-born classes also, hate me intensely. Throughout all Europe I have been branded as a traitor in the pay of Napoleon. Conspiracies were got up everywhere to bring about my removal. All the princes of the royal house—nay, the queen herself, united against me. But you see, my dear, that they did not succeed after all in undermining my position; and the howling rabble outside will have no better success. Indeed, the fellows seem to be in earnest. Their blows shake the whole house!"
[Footnote 10: Lombard's own words.—Vide Gentz's Diary in his "Miscellanies," edited by G. Schlesier, vol. iv.]
"They will succeed in breaking in," said his wife, anxiously; "and then they will assassinate all of us."
"They will do no such thing, for they do not come for spoils, but only for news," said Lombard. "And then, my love, they know just as well as I the German maxim: 'The people of Nuremberg do not hang anybody unless they have got him!' but they will not get me, for there comes my faithful Jean across the yard.—Well, Jean, is every thing ready?" he said to the approaching footman.
"Yes," he replied. "The carriage with four excellent horses is waiting for you, sir. I ordered it, however, not to stop at the garden gate, but a little farther down, in front of another house."
"That was well done, my sagacious Jean. But I hope you did not forget either to place several bottles of Tokay wine and some roast fowl in the carriage for me? The ill-mannered rabble outside will not permit me to-day to lunch at home. Hence I must make up my mind to do so on the road."
"I have not forgotten the wine nor the roast pheasant, your excellency."
"You have packed up a pheasant!" exclaimed Lombard. "If the noisy gentlemen outside there knew that, they would be sure to assert that the Emperor Napoleon had sent it to me as a bribe. Now, Jean, come, we will set out. The street is quiet, I suppose?"
"Perfectly so. All those who have legs have gathered in front of the house."
"And all those who have fists are hammering at the door," wailed Mde. Lombard. "Make haste, Lombard—make haste lest it be too late!"
"You are right. I must go," said Lombard, quietly. "Now listen to what I am going to tell you. So soon as you hear my carriage roll away, be kind enough to repair to the balcony, of the first floor and address the people. Their surprise at seeing you will cause them to be silent for a moment."
"But, good Heaven! what am I to say to them?" asked Mde. Lombard, in dismay.
"You are to say to them, 'My husband, Cabinet-Counsellor Lombard, is not at home. He has gone to the governor of Berlin, Count von Schulenburg-Kehnert, and the bearer of dispatches has accompanied him.' Your words will have the same effect as though a pistol were discharged among a number of sparrows—all of them will fly away. You see, my dear, there is a very impressive and dramatic scene in store for you, and my father, de poudreuse memoire, and your father, the barber, would rejoice in their graves if they could see you haranguing the people from the balcony. Farewell, my dear, and manage the affair as skilfully as possible."
He embraced her hurriedly, and was about to leave the garden, leaning on his servant's arm, and as fast as his gouty feet would permit it; but his wife suddenly held him back.
"I cannot go to the parlor," she said in terror, convulsively clinging to Lombard. "Remember, that they are continually hurling stones at our house. Suppose a stone should be thrown into the window and strike my head?"
"My dear," said Lombard, laughing, "I do not believe any stone passing through the window would be immediately dangerous, for you have a hard head, as I have found out often enough. Farewell, and do as I have told you, unless you want the rabble to penetrate into your room. Farewell!"
He disengaged himself rather roughly, and hastened, as fast as his aching and stiffened feet would permit, to the street contiguous to the garden.
His wife waited until the departure of the carriage announced to her that her husband had gone. At the same time the voices outside shouted with redoubled fury, "Lombard! We want to see Lombard!" And their blows thundered louder than ever at the door.
Mde. Lombard sighed; and, commending her body and soul to God, she proceeded to comply with her husband's instructions, and went to the balcony.
Lombard had prophesied correctly; profound silence ensued when the wife of the cabinet counsellor appeared; hence, every one was able to understand her words, and no sooner had she uttered them, than the crowd dispersed, as her husband had told her.
"To the governor! Let us go to the governor!" they cried, as they moved up the Linden; but they were attracted by a carriage, drawn by six fiery horses at full gallop. It was the queen, who was about to leave the capital. She looked even paler and sadder than before, and greeted her friends on both sides with a heart-rending, melancholy smile. But they had not time to greet even the queen, or to be surprised at her speedy departure, as they rushed toward the house of the governor, Count Schulenburg.
At his residence, also, the windows were covered up, and the gate of the court-yard closed. But a large white handbill, containing a few lines in gigantic letters, was posted on the side wall. Thousands of piercing eyes were fixed on the paper, and an imperious demand was made to the fortunate man who stood close to the handbill: "Read! Read aloud!"
"I will read it!" answered a loud, powerful voice. "Be quiet, so as to be able to hear me!"
Profound silence reigned immediately, and every one heard distinctly the words, which ran as follows:
"The king has lost a battle. Quiet is the citizen's first duty. I request all the inhabitants of Berlin to maintain good order. The king and his brothers are alive."
The vast multitude burst into a wail of despair; and when silence ensued, every one seemed paralyzed and stared mournfully at his neighbor. Suddenly the side-gate of the count's court-yard opened, and a carriage, followed by a large baggage-wagon, made its appearance.