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"The French ambassador has requested the emperor to grant him an
audience at eleven o'clock this morning. A courier from Metternich
in Paris has arrived, and, I believe, brought important news. The
decisive hour is at hand. Hasten to the emperor; leave nothing
undone to prevail on him to take a bold stand. Send somebody to the
Archduke Charles; request him to repair likewise to the emperor and
influence him in the same direction. I have paved the way for you. I
hope the French ambassador will, in spite of himself, be our ally,
and by his defiant and arrogant bearing, attain for us the object
which we have hitherto been unable to accomplish by our persuasion
and our arguments. Make haste! Burn this paper."

The archduke signed to his two confidants to come to him, and
pointed to the paper. When they had hastily read the lines, he threw
the paper into the flames, and turned to the two gentlemen who stood
behind him.

"Well, what do you think of it?" he inquired. "Shall I do what these
mysterious lines ask of me? Shall I go to the emperor without being
summoned to him?"

"The empress requests you to do so, and she is as prudent as she is
energetic," said Count Nugent.

"I say, like the empress, the decisive hour is at hand," exclaimed
Baron von Hormayr. "Hasten to the emperor; try once more to force
the sword into his hand, and to wrest at length the much-wished-for
words, 'War against France!' from his lips. The Tyrolese are only
waiting for these words, to rise for their emperor and become again
his loving and devoted subjects. All Austria, nay, all Germany, is
longing for these words, which will be the signal of the deliverance
of the fatherland from the French yoke. Oh, my lord and prince,
hasten to the emperor; speak to him with the impassioned eloquence
of the cherubim, break the fatal charm that holds Austria and the
Tyrol enthralled!"

At this moment the large clock standing on the mantelpiece commenced
striking.

"Eleven o'clock," said the archduke - "the hour when the emperor is
to give an audience to the French ambassador. It is high time,
therefore. Nugent, hasten to my brother; implore him to repair
forthwith to the emperor, and to act this time at least in unison
with me. Tell him that everything is at stake, and that we must risk
all to win all. But you, Hormayr, go to my dear Tyrolese; tell them
that I will receive them here at twelve o'clock to-night, and
conduct them to me at that hour, my friend. We will hold a council
of war at midnight."

"And your imperial highness does not forget that you promised to go
to the concert to-night?" asked Nugent. "Your highness is aware that
our friends not only intend to-night to give an ovation to the
veteran master of German art, Joseph Haydn, but wish also to profit
by the German music to make a political demonstration; and they long
for the presence of the imperial court, that the emperor and his
brothers may witness the patriotic enthusiasm of Vienna."

"I shall certainly be present," said the archduke, earnestly, "and I
hope the empress will succeed in prevailing on the emperor to go to
the concert. - Well, then, my friends, let us go to work, and nay God
grant success to our efforts!"


CHAPTER II.

THE EMPEROR FRANCIS.


The Emperor Francis had to-day entered his study at an earlier hour
than usual, and was industriously engaged there in finishing a
miniature cup which he had commenced cutting from a peach-stone
yesterday. On the table before him lay the drawing of the model
after which he was shaping the cup; and Francis lifted his eves only
from time to time to fix them on the drawing, and compare it with
his own work. These comparisons, however, apparently did not lead to
a cheering result, for the emperor frowned and put the cup rather
impetuously close to the drawing on the table.

"I believe, forsooth, the cup is not straight," murmured the emperor
to himself, contemplating from all sides the diminutive object which
had cost him so much labor. "Sure enough, it is not straight, it has
a hump on one side. Yes, yes, nothing is straight, nowadays; and
even God in heaven creates His things no longer straight, and does
not shrink from letting the peach-stones grow crooked. But no
matter - what God does is well done," added the emperor, crossing
himself devoutly; "even an emperor must not censure it, and must not
grumble when his cup is not straight because God gave the peach-
stone a hump. Well, perhaps, I may change it yet, and make the cup
straight."

He again took up the little cup, and commenced industriously working
at it with his sharp files, pointed knives, and gimlets. It was hard
work; large drops of sweat stood on the emperor's forehead; his arms
ached, and his fingers became sore under the pressure of the knives
and files; but the emperor did not mind it, only from time to time
wiping the sweat from his brow, and then continuing his labor with
renewed zeal.

Close to the small table containing the tools stood the emperor's
large writing-table. Large piles of documents and papers lay on this
table, and among them were scattered also many letters and
dispatches with broad official seals. But the emperor had not yet
thought of opening these dispatches or unsealing these letters. The
peach-stone had engrossed his attention this morning, and he had
unsealed only one of the papers; the emperor had read only the
report of the secret police on the events of the previous day. These
reports of the secret police and the Chiffre-Cabinet were the
favorite reading matter of the Emperor Francis, and he would have
flown into a towering passion if he had not found them on his
writing-table early every morning.

Thanks to these reports, the emperor knew every morning all that had
occurred in Vienna during the previous day; what the foreign
ambassadors had done, and, above all things, what his brothers, the
Archdukes Charles, Ferdinand, Joseph, and John, had said, done, and
perhaps only thought. To-day's report had not communicated many
important things to the emperor; it had only informed him that, at
daybreak, a courier from Paris had arrived at the house of the
French ambassador, Count Andreossi, and that there were good reasons
to believe that be had brought highly important news.

It was exactly for the purpose of dispelling the anxiety with which
this unpleasant intelligence had filled him, that. Francis bad laid
aside the report and recommenced his work on the cup; and by this
occupation he bad succeeded in forgetting the burdensome duties of
his imperial office.

He was just trying very hard to plane one side of his cup, when a
low rap at the small door leading to the narrow corridor, and thence
to the apartments of the empress, interrupted him. The emperor gave
a start and looked toward the door, listening and hoping, perhaps,
that his ear might have deceived him. But no, the rapping was heard
once more: there could no longer be a doubt of it - somebody sought
admittance, and intended to disturb the peaceful solitude of the
emperor.

"What does the empress want?" murmured Francis. "What does she come
here for? I am afraid something unpleasant has happened again."

He rose with a shrug from his chair, put his miniature cup hastily
into the drawer of his table, and hurried to open the door.

Francis had not been mistaken. It really was the Empress Ludovica,
the third consort of the emperor, who had married her only a few
months ago. She wore a handsome dishabille of embroidered white
muslin, closely surrounding her delicate and slender form, and
trimmed with beautiful laces. The white dress reached up to the
neck, where a rose-colored tie fastened it. Her beautiful black
hair, which fell down in heavy ringlets on both sides of her face,
was adorned with a costly lace cap, from which wide ribbons of rose-
colored satin flowed down on her shoulders. But the countenance of
the empress did not correspond to this coquettish and youthful
dress. She was young and beautiful, but an expression of profound
melancholy overspread her features. Her cheeks were transparently
white, and a sad, touching smile quivered round her finely-
chiselled, narrow lips; her high, expansive forehead was shaded, as
it were, by a cloud of sadness; and her large black eyes shot, from
time to time, gloomy flashes which seemed to issue from a gulf of
fiery torture. But whatever passions might animate her delicate,
ethereal form, the empress had learned to cover her heart with a
veil, and her lips never gave utterance to the sufferings of her
soul. Only her confidantes were allowed to divine them; they alone
knew that, twofold tortures were racking Ludovica's fiery soul,
those of hatred and wounded pride. Napoleon! it was he whom the
empress hated with indescribable bitterness; and the neglect with
which her consort, the Emperor Francis, treated her cut her proud
heart to the quick. Thanks to the intrigues and immense riches of
her mother, Beatrix of Este, Duchess of Modena, she had become the
wife of an emperor, and herself an empress; but she had thereby
obtained only an august position, not a husband and partner. She was
an empress in name only, but not in reality. Francis had given her
his hand, but not his heart and his love. He disdained his
beautiful, lovely wife; he avoided any familiar intercourse with her
with anxious timidity; only in the presence of the court and the
public did he treat the empress as his consort, and tolerate her
near his person. At first Ludovica had submitted to this strange
conduct on the part of her husband with proud indifference, and not
the slightest murmur, not the mildest reproach, had escaped her
lips. For it was not from love that she had chosen this husband, but
from ambition and pride. She had told herself that it would be
better for her to be Empress of Austria than Princess of Modena and
Este; and even the prospect of being the third wife of Francis of
Austria, and the stepmother of the ten children whom his second wife
had borne to him, had not deterred her. She meant to marry the
emperor, and not the man; she wished to play a prominent part, and
exert a powerful influence on the destinies of the world. But these
hopes were soon to prove utterly futile. The emperor granted her
publicly all the privileges of her exalted position by his side; but
in the privacy of her apartments he never made her his confidante;
he refused to let her have any influence over his decisions; he
never consulted her as to the measures of his administration: nay,
he avoided alluding to such topics in her presence.

Such was the grief that was gnawing at the heart of the young
empress - the wound from which her proud and lofty soul was bleeding.
But for a few weeks past she had overcome her silent grief, and the
presence of her mother, the shrewd and intriguing Duchess of Modena,
seemed to have imparted fresh strength to the empress, and confirmed
her in her determination to conquer the heart and confidence of her
husband. Whereas she had hitherto met his indifference by proud
reticence, and feigned not to notice it, she was kind and even
affectionate toward him; and it often happened that, availing
herself of the privilege of her position, she traversed the private
corridor separating her rooms from those of her husband, and,
without being summoned to him, entered his cabinet to talk politics
with him in spite of his undisguised aversion to doing so. The
emperor hated these interviews from the bottom of his heart; a
shudder pervaded his soul, and a cloud covered his brow, whenever he
heard the low rap of the empress at his private door. To-day, too,
the dark cloud covered his forehead even after the empress had
entered his cabinet. Ludovica noticed it, and a mournful smile
overspread her pale face for a moment.

"As your majesty did not come to me to bid me good-morning, I have
come to you," she said, in a gentle, kind voice, holding out her
beautiful white hand to the emperor.

Francis took it and pressed it to his lips. "It is true," he said,
evidently embarrassed, "I did not come this morning to pay my
respects to you, but time was wanting to me. I had to go at once to
my cabinet and work; I am very busy."

"I see," said Ludovica; "your majesty's dress still bears the traces
of your occupation."

The emperor hastened to brush away with his hands the small
particles of the peach-stone that had remained on his shirt-bosom
and his sleeve; but while he was doing this his brow darkened still
more, and he cast a gloomy and defiant glance on the empress.

"Look, empress," he said; "perhaps you belong to the secret police,
and have been employed to watch me in order to find out what I am
doing when I am alone in my cabinet. Why, if I found out that that
was so, I should be obliged to be on my guard and have this door
walled up, so that my esteemed consort might no longer be able to
surprise and watch me."

"Your majesty will assuredly not do that," said Ludovica, whose
voice was tremulous, and whose cheeks had turned even paler than
before. "No, your majesty will not make me undergo the humiliation
of making known to the world the deplorable secret with which we
alone have hitherto been acquainted. Your majesty will not deprive
me of the only privilege which I enjoy in common with your former
consorts, and thereby proclaim to the world that I am in this palace
a stranger who has not even access to the rooms of her husband."

"I do not say that I intend to do it," said Francis, shrugging his
shoulders; "I say only that it is highly repugnant to me to have my
steps dogged and watched in any manner. It is true, my former
consort had also the keys of this private corridor, but - pardon me
for this remark, your majesty - the empress never used these keys,
but always waited for me to open the door."

"And she did not wait in vain," said the empress, quickly; "your
majesty never failed to come, for you loved your consort, and I have
been told you never suffered even a few hours to pass by without
leaving your cabinet and crossing the secret corridor to repair to
the rooms of the empress."

"But the good Empress Theresa," exclaimed the emperor, "when I was
with her, never endeavored to talk to me about politics and state
affairs."

"I understand that," said Ludovica; "you had both so many mutual
interests to converse about. You had your mutual love, your
children, to talk about. I, who am so unhappy as not to be able to
talk with you about such matters, how intensely so-ever my heart
longs for it, must content myself with conversing with my husband on
different subjects; and I desire to share at least his cares when I
cannot share his love. My husband, I beseech you, do not disdain my
friendship; accept a friend's hand, which I offer to you honestly
and devotedly."

"My God, that is precisely what I long for!" exclaimed the emperor
fervently, again pressing to his lips the hand which the empress
held out to him. "My fondest wish is fulfilled when your majesty
will give me your friendship, and confide in me as your best, most
devoted, and faithful friend!"

"But this confidence must be reciprocated, my dearest friend," said
Ludovica, putting her hand on the emperor's shoulder. and gazing
long and ardently into his eyes. "Your majesty must confide in me
too, and count implicitly on my fidelity."

"That is what I do," said Francis, hastily; "never should I dare to
doubt the fidelity of the purest, chastest, and most virtuous
empress and lady - the fidelity of my wife."

"I did not refer to the wife's fidelity," said Ludovica, sighing,
"but to the fidelity of my friendship, which is joyously ready to
share all your cares and afflictions."

"Well then," said the emperor, nodding to her smilingly, "I will
give you a proof of my faith in your friendship. Yes, you shall
share my cares and afflictions."

"Oh, my husband, how happy you make me by these words!" exclaimed
Ludovica, and a faint blush beautified her noble face.

"I will let you participate in my work to-day, and you shall give me
your advice," said the emperor, nodding to the empress, and stepping
to the writing-table, from whose drawer he took the little cup.
"Look, my dear friend," added the emperor, handing the cup to his
consort, "I wished to make a little cup from this peach-stone and
give it to Maria Louisa, who delights in such things; but when I had
nearly finished it, I discovered suddenly that the peach-stone was
crooked and not equally round on both sides. Now give me your
advice, my fair friend; tell me what I am to do in order to
straighten the cup. Look at it, and tell me how to fix it. It would
be an everlasting disgrace for an emperor to be unable to straighten
a thing which he himself made crooked."

The empress had turned pale again; her dark eyes shot fire for a
moment, and she compressed her lips as if to stifle a cry of
indignation. But she overcame her agitation quickly, and hastily
took the little cup which the emperor still held out to her.

"Your majesty is right," she said; the "cup is really crooked, and
will not stand erect when you put it on the table. As your majesty
has asked me what ought to be done about it, I advise you to get rid
of the thing, declare war against the little cup, and remove it
forever by touching it in this manner with your little finger."

She upset the miniature cup with her slender little finger, so that
it rolled to the other end of the table.

"That is very energetic advice, indeed," said Francis, smiling, "but
I do not like it. To upset a thing that is not well done is no way
of improving it."

"Yes, your majesty, to destroy what is not well done is paving the
way for something better," exclaimed Ludovica.

"You yourself said just now it would be an everlasting disgrace for
an emperor to be unable to straighten anything which lie himself
made crooked. It seems to me, now, an emperor should extricate
himself from any position imposing on him the necessity of doing
anything crooked and unworthy of his imperial dignity. If such is
his duty in regard to a thing so insignificant as a peach-stone, how
much more urgent is this duty, when there is at stake something so
great and sacred as the independence and honor of your empire and
policy!"

"See, see!" said the emperor, scratching his head with an expression
of ludicrous surprise; "then we have really got back from the peach-
stone to political affairs and the war-question. Now, this war-
question is a hard peach-stone to crack, and the mere thought of it
sets my teeth on edge."

"Ah," said Ludovica, "your teeth are firm and strong, for they are
composed of three hundred thousand swords, and thousands of cannon
and muskets. If the lion is determined to use his teeth, lie will
easily succeed in destroying the were-wolf; for this rapacious and
bloodthirsty were-wolf is brave and invincible only when he has to
deal with lambs; only the feeble and disarmed have reason to fear
him."

"In speaking of a were-wolf, I suppose you refer to the Emperor
Napoleon?" asked the emperor, smiling. "I must tell you, however,
that, in your warlike enthusiasm, you do him injustice. It seems to
me he is brave not alone where he has to deal with lambs, arid not
alone the feeble and disarmed have reason to fear him. I think I did
not march lambs against him at Austerlitz, but brave men, who were
not feeble and disarmed, but strong and well-armed. Nevertheless,
Bonaparte overpowered them; he gained the battle of Austerlitz over
us, and we had to submit to him, and accept the terms of peace which
he imposed on us."

"Yes, your majesty had to submit to him." cried the empress,
ardently; "you were obliged to repair to the proud usurper's camp
and beseech him to grant you peace!"

"I was not obliged to go to him, but I did so in order to restore
peace to my people, and prevent all Austria from sinking into ruin.
It is true, it was a dreadful walk for me, and when I saw the
Emperor of the French at his camp-fire, he became utterly
distasteful to me. [Footnote: The emperor's own words. - See
"Lebensbilder aus dem Befreiungekriege," vol. i.] Nevertheless, the
truth cannot be gainsaid, and the truth is that the Emperor Napoleon
is more than a were-wolf killing only lambs; he is a lion whose
furious roar causes all thrones to tremble, and who, when he shakes
his mane, shakes all Europe to its foundations."

"The more is it incumbent on us then to put an end to this unnatural
state of affairs," exclaimed the empress, vehemently; "to strengthen
the thrones, and restore at length tranquillity to Europe. And there
is only one way of doing this, my lord and emperor, and that is war!
We must destroy the lion in order to restore tranquillity to the
peaceable nations."

"But what if, instead of destroying the lion, we should be destroyed
by him?" asked the emperor, with a shrug. "What if the lion should a
second time place his foot on our neck, trample us in the dust, and
dictate to us again a disgraceful and humiliating peace? Do you
think that the present position of the King of Prussia is a pleasant
and honorable one, and that I am anxious to incur a similar fate?
No, madame! I am by no means eager to wear a martyr's crown instead
of my imperial crown, and I will rather strive to keep my crown on
my head, regardless of the clamor of the German war-party. These
German shriekers are nice fellows. They refuse to do any thing, but
think it is enough for them to cry, 'War! war!' and that that will
be sufficient to conquer Bonaparte. But, empress, a great deal more
is required for that purpose than the fanatical war-clamor of the
aristocratic saloons, and the scribblings of the journalists and
patriotic poets; in order to attain so grand an object, it is
indispensable that all Germany should rise, take up arms, and attack
the enemy with united forces."

"It is as your majesty says," exclaimed Ludovica, enthusiastically;
"all Germany is ready for the struggle against the enemy. The nation
is only waiting for Austria to give the signal, draw the sword, and
advance upon France, when all Germany will follow her."

"I know these fine phrases," said Francis, shrugging his shoulders;
"I hear them every day from my brothers, who are eager for war, and
who manage to gain a great deal of popularity in so comfortable a
manner. But after all, they are phrases with very little sense in
them. For just tell me, empress, where is the Germany which, you
say, is only waiting for Austria to give the signal? Where are the
German armies which, you say, are only waiting for Austria to
advance, when they will follow her? I have good sound eyes, but I
cannot see such armies anywhere. I am quite familiar with the
geography of Germany, I know all the states that belong to it, but
among them I vainly look for those which are waiting for us to give
such a signal. Prussia is utterly powerless, and cannot do any
thing. The princes of the Rhenish Confederacy, it is true, are
waiting for the signal, but Bonaparte will give it to them, and when
they march, they will march against Austria and strive to fight us
bravely in order to obtain from the French Emperor praise, honors,
titles, and grants of additional territories. No, no, I cannot be
blinded by brave words and bombastic phrases; I know that Austria,
in case a war should break out, would stand all alone, and that she
must either conquer or be ruined. In 1805, when, in consequence of
the disastrous battle of Austerlitz, I lost half my states, I was
not alone, Russia was my ally. But Russia has recently declared
that, in case a war should break out, she would not assist us
against Napoleon, but observe a strict neutrality as long as
possible; if she should, however, be obliged to take a decided
stand, she would be on the side of France and against us.
Consequently, I am entirely isolated, and Napoleon has numerous
allies."

"But your majesty has a powerful ally in the universal enthusiasm of
the Austrians and Germans, in the universal indignation of the
nations against Napoleon. You have public opinion on your side, and
that is the most powerful ally."

"Ah, let me alone with that abominable ally," cried the emperor,
vehemently; "I do not want to hear of it nor to have anything to do
with it. Public opinion is the hobby which my brother, the popular
Archduke John, is riding all the time; but it will throw him one day
into the mire, and then he will find out what it really amounts to.
Pray, never speak to me again of public opinion, for I detest it. It
smells of revolution and insurrection, and, like a patient donkey,



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