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not forget the fate that had overtaken Beichling. The best guarantee of
safety that he had, lay in his wife's character, her pride, and her
love for her good reputation.

When he returned to Dresden, he knew nothing but what his spies had
informed him; in the city, and from the people of the court, he could
not expect to learn anything.

The hour was late, but although at the King's castle a feast was in
progress, Hoym had no wish to go thither; instead, he went straight to
his own home, and having found his wife's door locked, he also retired
to rest.

The following day the King sent for him, and he was obliged to obey the
summons, and go to the castle without having seen his wife.

The King received him very kindly, he even embraced him, and this Hoym
regarded as the worst possible sign. Next Augustus reproached him with
having remained away so long, and although he himself had commanded
that the Count should not return, he acted as though he knew nothing of
the order.

Hoym gazed into the King's eyes in astonishment.

"It is evident that you have some enemies at court," said the King.
"They wished to keep you away from me, but fear nothing, I am your
friend, I will not allow you to be wronged."

Hoym thanked the King for his favour. Then, during their further
conversation, His Majesty complained that he had not sufficient money.

"Dear Hoym," said he, "you must procure it, I need it so very badly."

It was towards noon when Hoym at length returned to his home. He had
scarcely crossed the threshold of his room, than Anna, dressed in
black, appeared before him. Never before had she looked more beautiful,
calm, and dignified.

Hoym sprang towards her, but she received him coldly, and kept him at a
distance.

"I have been waiting for you," she said. "I have come to thank you for
every good thing you have done for me, and to assure you that I shall
never forget it. But at the same time, I have to tell you that our
marriage, which is not based on mutual sympathy, and therefore cannot
give us any guarantee of happiness, must come to an end. We must be
separated. You know I always speak frankly. The King has been good
enough to assure me of his favour - I cannot refuse it. Moreover, I love
him, and am determined to obey him. But I cannot be false to you. I am
come, therefore, to ask you for a divorce; this will save the honour of
your name. We cannot act otherwise. Should you consent to a divorce,
you may rest assured of my gratitude; I will also endeavour to assist
you in everything. Should you, on the contrary, prefer to resist my
wish, it will not in anywise alter my determination, but it will cause
me to forget my gratitude towards you, and to remember you only as a
hindrance to my happiness."

From the first words of his wife's artful and formal speech, Hoym had
guessed everything. He drew back as though struck by a thunderbolt. He
had not suspected that matters had gone so far as that. His pale face
became crimson. Several times he would have interrupted her, but the
magnetic gaze that Anna fixed upon him kept him silent until her speech
was ended. The indifference and self-possession with which she spoke
filled Hoym with indignation.

By the time she had finished speaking, his anger was so great that he
was unable to utter a word.

"Madam," shouted he at length, "you reward me nicely for having drawn
you from your obscure corner. You will leave home and husband to depend
on the favour of a most frivolous man."

But Anna did not allow him to proceed with his speech.

"Enough of this!" she exclaimed. "I know all that you are going to say;
I know also what I intend doing. The care for my future fate you can
leave to me. Nothing will alter my determination. I only ask you to
choose and tell me whether, or no, you will consent to the divorce. Are
we to be friends or enemies? Yes or no?"

Hoym was one of the most licentious of the courtiers; his relations
with his wife were of the worst, but the moment he realized that he was
to lose her for ever, grief, jealousy, and anger overwhelmed him to
such a degree that he was unable to speak.

As was his custom when enraged, he began to tear his wig, and rush to
and fro across the room, overthrowing the chairs as he went. He
clenched his hands, stood for a few moments at a window, gazing into
the street beneath, then he rushed threateningly towards his wife, and
vainly endeavoured to speak. Then again he hurried from her. In short,
he looked just like a madman who does not know what he is doing.

But all this outburst of fury made not the least impression on Anna.
She only waited quietly, looking at him ironically. At length, being
unable to obtain an answer, she said, coldly, -

"I see you cannot decide between peace and war. I would only remind you
that war with me and the King would be a trifle dangerous."

She left the room as she spoke.

Hoym still continued his mad rushes to and fro.

He tore his clothes, he sat down, rose again, and gave way to every
possible action of despair. And in this he continued until he was
interrupted by the entrance of Vitzthum.

"Hoym!" exclaimed his visitor, "what is the matter?"

"You know that better than I do. It is you, my dearest friends, who
have prepared this surprise for me. Anna leaves me! The King requires
her! Why did she ever marry me? Why does she wish to make me the
laughing-stock of the people?"

Vitzthum let him have his storm out, then he spoke.

"Listen, Hoym," said he. "I can understand that you would regret
parting with the beautiful Anna, but you know well that she never loved
you, and you led her such a life, that I doubt if you really loved her.
Thus, then, there can be no question of love in the matter. Let us now
talk calmly; I have come here by the King's command."

"And what, pray, does His Majesty command?" inquired Hoym
sarcastically.

"He wishes your consent to the divorce, in return for which he promises
you his favour," replied Vitzthum. "If you do not consent, I pity you,
my dear fellow, but I must warn you that you expose yourself to great
danger. You cannot fight against the King. The slightest wrong done to
the Countess will be regarded as _lèse majestatis_."

"But why do you wish for my consent?" exclaimed Hoym. "The King can do
anything he chooses without that. The Consistory will obey him. Let him
take from me my most precious possession, but he must not ask me to
thank him for so doing."

Vitzthum smiled.

"It is a proof of his favour, that he asks your permission to do a
thing which he can as easily do without it. From this you should see
that he desires to retain you in your present position."

"Only because he has need of me," muttered Hoym.

Vitzthum sat down on the sofa.

"Dear Count, think it well over; when I leave the room it will be too
late."

Again Hoym rushed wildly about the room, overthrowing everything that
came in his way. At length, throwing himself down on a chair, he began
to laugh; but it was a laugh full of bitterness.

"Hoym, the King is awaiting your decision," said Vitzthum.

"It is mere irony to ask a man whom you have stripped of his clothes,
for permission to keep them, and threaten him with a club should he
refuse. Therefore, my dear brother-in-law, you will tell His Majesty
that I am very grateful to him for taking the burden of that woman from
me. Tell him I consent, that I am glad, happy, merry, that I kiss His
Majesty's hand. It is a great honour to be able to offer the King a
half-eaten fruit - ha! ha! ha!"

"You had better drink a glass of iced-water," said Vitzthum, taking his
hat.

He shook hands with Hoym.

"Believe me," said he, in a whisper, "you have come out of this better
than any of the others. I will tell the King you consent. You will cool
off after a time."

The King was eagerly awaiting the answer, but, being impatient, he had
ordered that he should be carried to Hoym's palace, where he entered
Anna's apartments. Just as Vitzthum was preparing to go to the castle,
he was informed that the King was waiting for him, only a few paces
away. From his countenance, and the smile with which he entered His
Majesty's presence, Augustus guessed immediately that Hoym would not
oppose his wishes. But the beautiful Anna, addressing the ambassador,
said, -

"You were more fortunate than I was."

"No one could be more fortunate than you are," replied Vitzthum,
bowing, "but I was more patient. I allowed Hoym to work off his
excitement, after that he consented."

The light of joy shone in Anna's black eyes.

"You bring me freedom and happiness!" she cried. "How can I ever repay
you?"

A box lay on the table; this she seized and handed it to Vitzthum.

The King at once approached to see what it contained. In it was Anna's
miniature.

"Ah!" exclaimed he, "that is too great a reward for you, Vitzthum. I
confiscate it in the name of the King, and in exchange I will give you
twenty thousand thalers."

Anna threw herself on the King's breast.

The day following, the Consistory granted the divorce, and on the third
day this was, by Anna's wish, placarded on all the public buildings.

The same day, Anna left her husband's house and took up her abode in a
mansion situated close to the palace, to which it was joined by means
of a covered gallery, which had been constructed in a few hours.

The news spread like wild-fire throughout the city.

Countess Hoym had abandoned her husband's name, and had taken the title
of Cosel, from an estate that Augustus had presented to her. He also
intended to obtain the title of Countess for her from the Emperor
Joseph, and, instead of the house she now occupied, she was to have a
palace built for her similar to that described in the Arabian Nights.

Never for a long time had any of his favourites taken such a hold on
the King's mind, heart, and passion. He passed whole days in her
company, and was invisible to every one - indeed the whole world was
forgotten by him.

Princess Teschen, towards whom, up to the last moment, the King had
shown great tenderness, was the first to learn what had occurred. The
divorce, the lodging near the castle, were sure proofs that her reign
was ended. The King ceased visiting her, yet she still retained her
liberty, and did not fall into disgrace.

Augustus was obliged to treat her kindly through fear of the Cardinal
Radziejewski, over whom the Princess had considerable influence, for
that prelate could cause the King considerable annoyance. The spies
employed by Vitzthum could gain no information as to how the Princess
intended to act. They tried to discover her secrets through her sister,
Baroness Glasenapp, but the Princess was silent, and spent her time
weeping. No one knew whether she was going to remain in Dresden, to
retire to her estates of Hoyerswerde, or to return to Poland. In her
palace no preparations for departure were visible, all remained the
same as it had ever been, except that the visitors were less numerous.
Those servants who still remained faithful to the Princess were
suspected of spying, therefore every one was silent, and evenings were
sad.

Prince Ludwig of Würtemburg alone visited her more frequently and
stayed longer.

The court intrigues that had been directed towards the overthrow of
Princess Teschen and the instalment in her place of Lady Cosel were,
after the latter's victory, turned in another direction.

Fürstenberg, who, at the commencement of the intrigue, had been
employed by the King as his intermediary, was now compelled to yield
his place to Vitzthum. The rivalry of these two parties began in the
court of Augustus II., who always took the greatest possible care to
prevent the persons surrounding him from living peaceably together.
He excited one against another, favouring now this person, now that,
and giving each to understand that the other was his enemy. The mere
sight of angry faces gave him great pleasure. In consequence of his
mischief-making, one of his courtiers accused the other, and thus the
King was made aware of all abuses.

Vitzthum was Hoym's brother-in-law. His family came from Thuringia, but
for a long time it had been employed in the service of the Kings of
Saxony. Grand Falconer Count Frederyk Vitzthum von Eckstadt was now
about thirty; he had been at court from the time he was a page, and had
been Augustus' friend since childhood. He always travelled with him,
and after the downfall of the great Chancellor, Beichling, in 1703, he
had obtained for himself the rank of Grand Falconer.

The King was fonder of Vitzthum than of the others, perhaps because he
was not afraid of him. Vitzthum was not a genius; and then, too, he was
always affable, polite, serviceable, a perfect courtier, and a very
good-looking man. He mingled in no intrigues, he had no ambition, and
he served the King faithfully.

Besides and behind Vitzthum, stood his wife, Hoym's sister, one of the
cleverest intriguantes of the court, at which the women played almost
as important a part as the men. Countess Vitzthum was still very
pretty. She was tall, as were the majority of the ladies of the Saxon
aristocracy. She had a fresh complexion, sapphire-blue eyes, a nose
slightly _retroussé_, and she was so merry that she could be recognized
from afar by her laugh. She played with the affairs of the court as one
plays some game; she spied for the sake of spying, she listened at
doors, carried gossip, set snares, kindled passions, excited quarrels,
reconciled enemies; and besides all this, she managed her house and her
husband's affairs admirably; without her, money would often have been
lacking. Like her husband, she had a passion for gambling, but she
gambled carefully and had good luck. She acquired estates, and pushed
her husband, for whom, as he had no ambition, she was forced to be
ambitious.

The Vitzthums did not belong to the most powerful party among the
King's favourites; apparently they stood aside and lower in the scale
than Flemming, Fürstenberg, Plug, and others, yet notwithstanding this,
they were acquainted with every secret, influenced the King as well as
the courtiers, and could be very dangerous foes. At the commencement of
Cosel's reign, they took up a position that led her to suppose that
they would share her likes and dislikes.

A few days after Cosel had taken possession of the house near the
castle, the whole court felt that the new Queen would not be so weak,
so inclined to weep and faint, as Princess Teschen had been. New life
animated every one. The proud and beauteous lady considered herself as
the King's second wife, and acted accordingly.

Augustus himself was only her most obedient admirer.




CHAPTER VIII.


The court of Augustus II. was not lacking in droll and original
figures, whose business it was to amuse the King.

Every morning from the Old City there came on horseback Joseph Frölich,
the fool, known to every one, from the street urchins to the ministers
of state. Once, when Augustus had been in a very good humour, he had
even ordered a medal to be struck in his honour, bearing this
inscription: _Semper Frölich, nunquam Traurig_. Frölich was so
accustomed to laugh as a matter of duty that he made others laugh and
laughed himself from morning till night.

Frölich was small, round, and pink, and always dressed in a
swallow-tail coat, of which, thanks to the munificence of the King, he
had ninety-nine. He wore a tall, pointed hat, ornamented with a
feather. Instead of a chamberlain's key, he carried a large silver vase
on his back similar in form to a key, but as this was hollow it served
as a drinking-cup, and from it Frölich was obliged to drink whenever
the King ordered him to be present at his drinking parties.

As a fool, he would perhaps have wearied the King by his monotonous
gaiety had he not had such a contrast in the melancholy _rôle_ played
by Baron Schmeidel. Schmeidel and Frölich, as Heraclites and
Democritus, continually quarrelling, amused both Augustus and his
court. When these two were exhausted, there were secondary fools,
Saumagen and Leppert, to replace them. If to these we add the giant,
Cojanus; twelve dwarfs, with the famous Hante and Traum at their head;
and a fair number of negroes and albinos, we shall have some idea of
the crowd whose sole duty it was to amuse their sovereign.

Frölich, the fool, was an intelligent and not a bad man. He lived
quietly and saved his money, and very likely laughed in his sleeve at
those who laughed at him. Every morning Frölich, dressed in his curious
coat and hat, rode to the castle, from whence he returned, frequently
very late at night, to his own house, called Narrenhaus, which was
situated close to the bridge. It was very seldom that any one called on
him, therefore Fraulein Lote, his elderly housekeeper, was greatly
astonished when, very early one morning, she heard a knock at the door.

The fool was not yet dressed, neither was his horse ready, and the
knock frightened him, for he feared that some capricious fancy had
seized the King and induced him to send after him. Fraulein Lote was of
the same opinion when, on peeping through the window, she perceived a
tall young man in the court livery standing on the threshold.

After having glanced at him, Lote inquired what he wanted.

"I should like to say a few words to Frölich," said the new-comer.

"Is it from the King?"

There was no answer; but as secret messengers were by no means
uncommon, Lote did not dare to refuse him admittance, so, opening the
door, she ushered him into the room where the fool was dressing.
Frölich turned towards the stranger as he entered, and, immediately
assuming his rôle, saluted him with exaggerated politeness, and,
bending half-double, inquired, -

"What can we do for your Excellency?"

"Mr. Frölich," said the stranger modestly, "do not joke at a poor man;
you may rather be excellency than me."

"What?" said Frölich, "I before you? Was it the King that sent you with
such a joke?"

"No; I am come on my own account, and I beg you for a moment's
conversation."

"An audience, eh?" said the fool, looking important. "Donnerwetter!
Have I become a minister? But at our Court everything is possible. The
ministers like each other so well that soon none of them will remain.
Then your turn and mine will come; only I must be the Secretary to the
Treasury."

Heedless of this buffoonery, the new-comer remained sorrowful.

"Well, I will grant you a moment's conversation," continued the fool,
seating himself in an arm-chair and taking the pose of a person of
great importance. Yet still the stranger did not smile.

"Mr. Frölich," said he, "you will be surprised when you learn that I
come to you on a very serious matter."

"Then you have not entered the proper door."

"You are mistaken. I see you every day at Court, and I know from your
face that you are a very good-hearted man."

"My dear man, I am sure you wish to borrow some money," interrupted the
fool, "but I must tell you at once that it is useless. I give
everything - advice, smiles, bows, but not money! I haven't any; the
King has no money, so how could I get any?"

"I did not dream of asking you for money."

"Ah!" breathed the fool, "then what the deuce do you want from me?"

"I want to ask your protection."

"The idea! The protection of a fool! I see you wear the Court livery,
but you have a foreign accent. Who are you?"

"I am a Pole; my name is Raymond Zaklika."

"A Pole, then a nobleman, that's understood," said the fool; "be
seated, I respect the nobility, and as I am a burgher, I shall stand."

"Don't joke, Mr. Frölich!"

"I should swallow my own tongue, if I didn't joke. But we have not much
time, so tell me what you want."

For a few moments the youth was unable to speak; the good humour of the
fool evidently disconcerted him.

"Permit me first to tell you a little about myself," said he at length.

"Only a little? willingly."

"I came to the Court by a mere chance. I am sure you must have heard of
me. Unfortunately for me, I can break horseshoes and cups as well as
the King does. For that I have been ordered to remain at the Court."

"I remember now," laughed the fool, "and I do not envy you in the
least. Who was so simple as to advise you to rival the King?"

"Since I have been at the Court the life there has disgusted me; every
one avoids me; I haven't a friend, a protector; I have no one!"

"But to wish to choose me as a friend and protector, is as good an idea
as the breaking the horseshoes was. Man, if I could break anvils, I
would not break a straw, for fear of exciting the jealousy of others; I
should not like to be in your place."

"That is why I thought that at least Frölich would pity me."

The old fool's eyes dilated, then suddenly his face grew stern and sad,
and he folded his arms across his breast: then, advancing towards
Zaklika, he took hold of his hand, and began to feel his pulse, as
though he had been a doctor.

"I am afraid you have lost your common sense," said he quietly.

"I shouldn't be surprised," said the youth, smiling.

The fool's face brightened again, as though from habit.

"What is the matter in question?" he inquired.

"I wish to get discharged from the King's service."

"That's very easily done," said the fool. "Do some stupid thing, then
they will build a scaffold in the new market, and you will be hanged."

"There's plenty of time for that," replied Zaklika.

"What do you propose doing, should they discharge you? Are you going to
return to your own country, and wrestle with the bear?"

"No, I shall remain at Dresden."

"Are you in love with a pretty girl?"

The youth blushed.

"No," replied he, "I shall give fencing and riding lessons, or I might
enter the military service."

"Do they not give you enough to eat at the Court?"

"We have plenty."

"Do they not pay you?"

"They do."

"Then why don't you like your position?"

The youth looked confused.

"I have nothing to do," said he, "and it worries me.

"It's strange!" said the fool, "you have plenty of bread, and you are
searching for misery. But I don't see how I could be useful to you."

"Very easily. I very frequently stand by the door; by some witty saying
you could draw the King's attention towards me, and when he is in a
good humour he has different fancies."

"Suppose he has a fancy to shoot you?"

"You would protect me."

"_Donnerwetter!_" exclaimed the fool, "for the first time in my life I
see that I am a man of importance, for people come to ask me for
protection. You have opened my eyes. Out of pure gratitude I should
like to do something for you! Who knows! They say that Kyan is to be
appointed commandant of Königstein, then I could at least become Court
preacher! I grow ambitious!"

And having seated himself again in an arm-chair, he began to laugh, at
the same time looking pityingly on the young man.

"The end of the world! _Donnerwetter!_ A Polish noble asks a fool for
protection, and the Swedes, who eat herrings, beat the Saxons."

The fool saluted, in the fashion of a minister closing an interview.
Zaklika took the hint, and left the room.

It was a strange idea to seek help from a fool, but his strong love for
Countess Hoym had put it into his head. He wished to enter the service
of the woman, to look at whom was his greatest bliss. He desired
nothing further than to look at his goddess. He never dreamt of
anything else. He wished to be her guard, her unknown defender; he
guessed that she must have many enemies, he feared for her safety, and
he longed to lay down his life in her service. The youth had a strange
disposition; although apparently slow, he had an iron will. He had
determined to gain a place nearer that lovely woman, and it was for her
sake that he had gone to ask protection of the fool, and for her sake
he was ready to bear still greater humiliation.

Cosel, intoxicated by her love for the beautiful Augustus, had not
forgotten the boy who, when she was at Laubegast, used to stand up to
his neck in the water in order to catch a glimpse of her. She smiled at
the reminiscence, about which she had never said a word to any one. He
excited her curiosity, that was all, and she frequently looked after
him as he stood among the crowd.

Augustus' love for the beautiful Lady Cosel did not cause him to give
up drinking with his friends. For many reasons this became more
necessary to him. Amidst his drunken courtiers he could sow discord,
which he used as a tool to support his own power.

That day was a day of revelry in the castle. Augustus was in an


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