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Berlin and Sans-Souci; or Frederick the Great and his friends online

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of her sister with a firm and steady look. Resolved to breast the
coming storm with proud composure, she folded her arms across her
bosom, as if she would protect herself from Amelia's flashing eyes.
"I come from the chapel - what further?"

"What further?" cried Amelia, stamping fiercely on the floor. "Ah,
you will play the harmless and the innocent! What took you to the

Ulrica looked up steadily and smilingly; then said, in a quiet and
indifferent tone: "I have taken the sacrament of the Lord's Supper,
according to the Lutheran form of worship."

Amelia shuddered as if she felt the sting of a poisonous serpent.
"That signifies that you are an apostate; that signifies that you
have shamefully outwitted and betrayed me; that means - "

"That signifies," said Ulrica, interrupting her, "that I am a less
pious Christian than you are; that you, my noble young sister, are a
more innocent and unselfish maiden than the Princess Ulrica."

"Words, words! base, hypocritical words!" cried Amelia. "You first
inspired me with the thought which led to my childish and
contradictory behavior, and which for some days made me the jest of
the court. You are a false friend, a faithless sister! I stood in
your path, and you put me aside. I understand now your perfidious
counsels, your smooth, deceitful encouragement to my opposition
against the proposition of the Swedish ambassador. I, forsooth, must
be childish, coarse, and rude, in order that your gentle and girlish
grace, your amiable courtesy, might shine with added lustre. I was
your foil, which made the jewel of your beauty resplendent. Oh! it
is shameful to be so misused, so outwitted by my sister!"

With streaming eyes, Amelia sank upon a chair, and hid her face with
her trembling little hands.

"Foolish child!" said Ulrica, "you accuse me fiercely, but you know
that you came to me and implored me to find a means whereby you
would be relieved from this hateful marriage with the Prince Royal
of Sweden."

"You should have reasoned with me, you should have encouraged me to
give up my foolish opposition. You should have reminded me that I
was a princess, and therefore condemned to have no heart."

"You said nothing to me of your heart; you spoke only of your
religion. Had you told me that your heart rebelled against this
marriage with the Crown Prince of Sweden, then, upon my knees, with
all the strength of a sister's love, I would have implored you to
accept his hand, to shroud your heart in your robe of purple, and
take refuge on your throne from the danger which threatens a young
princess if she allows her heart to speak."

Amelia let her hands fall from her face, and looked up at her
sister, whose great earnest eyes were fixed upon her with an
expression of triumph and derision.

"I did not say that my heart had spoken," she cried, sobbing and
trembling; "I only said that we poor princesses were not allowed to
have hearts."

"No heart for one; but a great large heart, great enough for all!"
cried Ulrica. "You accuse me, Amelia, but you forget that I did not
intrude upon your confidence. You came to me voluntarily, and
disclosed your abhorrence of this marriage; then only did I counsel
you, as I would wish to be advised under the same circumstances. In
a word, I counselled you to obey your conscience, your own
convictions of duty."

"Your advice was wonderfully in unison with your own plans; your
deceitful words were dictated by selfishness," cried Amelia,

"I would not have adopted the course which I advised you to pursue,
because my character and my feeling are wholly different from yours.
My conscience is less tender, less trembling than yours. To become a
Lutheran does not appear to me a crime, not even a fault, more
particularly as this change is not the result of fickleness or
inconstancy, but for an important political object."

"And your object was to become Queen of Sweden?"

"Why should I deny it? I accept this crown which you cast from you
with contempt. I am ambitious. You were too proud to offer up the
smallest part of your religious faith in order to mount the throne
of Sweden. I do not fear to be banished from heaven, because, in
order to become a queen, I changed the outward form of my religion;
my inward faith is unchanged: if you repent your conduct - if you
have modified your views - "

"No, no!" said Amelia, hastily, "I do not repent. My grief and my
despair are not because of this pitiful crown, but because of my
faithless and deceitful sister who gave me evil counsel to promote
her own interests, and while she seemed to love, betrayed me. Go,
go! place a crown upon your proud head; you take up that which I
despise and trample upon. I do not repent. I have no regrets. But,
hark! in becoming a queen, you cease to be my sister. Never will I
forget that through falsehood and treachery you won this crown. Go!
be Queen of Sweden. Let the whole world bow the knee before you. I
despise you. You have shrouded your pitiful heart in your royal
robes. Farewell!"

She sprang to the door with flashing eyes and throbbing breast, but
Ulrica followed and laid her hand upon her shoulder.

"Let us not part in anger, my sister," said she, softly - "let us - "

Amelia would not listen; with an angry movement she dashed the hand
from her shoulder and fled from the room. Alone in her boudoir, she
paced the room in stormy rage, wild passion throbbed in every pulse.
With the insane fury of the Hohenzollerns, she almost cursed her
sister, who had so bitterly deceived, so shamefully betrayed her.

In outward appearance, as well as in character, the Princess Amelia
greatly resembled her royal brother: like him, she was by nature
trusting and confiding; but, once deceived, despair and doubt took
possession of her. A deadly mildew destroyed the love which she had
cherished, not only for her betrayer, but her confidence and trust
in all around her. Great and magnanimous herself, she now felt that
the rich fountain of her love and her innocent, girlish credulity
were choked within her heart. With trembling lips, she said aloud
and firmly: "I will never more have a friend. I do not believe in
friendship. Women are all false, all cunning, all selfish. My heart
is closed to them, and their deceitful smiles and plausible words
can never more betray me. Oh, my God, my God! must I then be always
solitary, always alone? must I - "

Suddenly she paused, and a rich crimson blush overspread her face.
What was it which interrupted her sorrowful words? Why did she fix
her eyes upon the door so eagerly? Why did she listen so earnestly
to that voice calling her name from the corridor.

"Pollnitz, it is Pollnitz!" she whispered to herself, and she
trembled fearfully.

"I must speak with the Princess Amelia," cried the master of

"But that is impossible," replied another voice; "her royal highness
has closed the door, and will receive no one."

"Her royal highness will open the door and allow me to enter as soon
as you announce me. I come upon a most important mission. The life-
happiness of more than one woman depends upon my errand."

"My God!" said Amelia, turning deadly pale, "Pollnitz may betray me
if I refuse to open the door." So saying, she sprang forward and
drew back the bolt.

"Look, now, Mademoiselle von Marwitz," cried Pollnitz, as he bowed
profoundly, "was I not right? Our dear princess was graciously
pleased to open the door so soon as she heard my voice. Remark that,
mademoiselle, and look upon me in future as a most important person,
who is not only accorded les grandes but les petites entrees."

The Princess Amelia was but little inclined to enter into the jests
of the master of ceremonies.

"I heard," said she, in a harsh tone, "that you demanded
importunately to see me, and you went so far as to declare that the
happiness of many men depended upon this interview."

"Pardon me, your highness, I only said that the happiness of more
than one woman depended upon it; and you will graciously admit that
I have spoken the truth when you learn the occasion which brings me

"Well, let us hear," said Amelia, "and woe to you if it is not a
grave and important affair!"

"Grave indeed: it concerns the toilets for a ball, and you must
confess that the happiness of more than one woman hangs upon this

"In truth, you are right, and if you came as milliner or dressmaker,
Mademoiselle von Marwitz did wrong not to announce you immediately."

"Now, ladies, there is nothing less important on hand than a masked
ball. The king has commanded that, besides the masked ball which is
to take place in the opera-house, and to which the public are
invited, another shall be arranged here in the castle on the day
before the betrothal of the Princess Ulrica."

"And when is that ceremony to take place?" said Amelia.

"Has not your royal highness been informed? Ah, I forgot - the king
has kept this a secret, and to no one but the queen-mother has it
been officially announced. Yes, yes, the Princess Ulrica is to marry
this little Prince of Holstein, who will, however, be King of
Sweden. This solemn ceremony takes place in four days; so we have
but three days before the masquerade, and we must work night and day
to prepare the necessary costumes - his majesty wishes it to be a
superb fete. Quadrilles are arranged, the king has selected the
partners, and I am here at his command, to say to your royal
highness that you will take part in these quadrilles. You will dance
a quadrille, in the costume of Francis the First, with the
Margravine of Baireuth and the Duchess of Brunswick."

"And who is to be my partner?" said Amelia, anxiously.

"The Margrave von Schwedt."

"Ah! my irresistible cousin. I see there the hand of my malicious
brother; he knows how dull and wearisome I consider the poor

The princess turned away displeased, and walked up and down the

"Did you not say that I, also, would take part in the quadrille?"
said Mademoiselle von Marwitz.

"Certainly, mademoiselle; you will dance in Russian costume."

"And who will be my partner?"

Pollnitz laughed heartily. "One would think that the most important
question was not as to the ball toilet, but as to the partner; that
he, in short, was as much a life-question as the color and cut of
your robe, or the fashion of your coiffure. So you demand the name
of your partner? Ah, mademoiselle, you will be more than content.
The partner whom the king has selected for you is one of our
youngest, handsomest, most amiable and talented cavaliers; a youth
whom Alcibiades would not have been indignant at being compared
with, and whom Diana would have preferred, perhaps, to the dreaming
and beautiful Endymion, had she found him sleeping. And mark you,
you will not only dance with this pearl of creation, but in the next
few days you must see and speak with him frequently. It is necessary
that you should consult together over the choice and color of your
costumes, and about the dances. If your royal highness will allow
it, he must come daily to arrange these important points. Alas! why
am I not a young maiden? Why can I not enjoy the felicity of loving
this Adonis? Why can I not exchange this poor, burnt-out heart for
one that glows and palpitates?"

"You are a fool, and know nothing about a maiden's heart! In your
ecstasy for this Ganymede, who is probably an old crippled monster,
you make rare confusion. You force the young girl to play the part
of the ardent lover, and give to your monster the character of a
cool, vain fop."

"Monster? My God! she said monster!" cried Pollnitz, pathetically.
"Fall upon your knees, mademoiselle, and pray fervently to your good
fortune to forgive you; you have sinned greatly against it, I assure
you. You will confess this when I have told you the name of your

"Name him, then, at last."

"Not before Princess Amelia is gracious enough to promise me that
she will watch over and shield you; that she will never allow you a
single tete-a-tete with your dangerous partner."

"Ah, you will make me the duenna of my maid of honor," said Amelia,
laughing. "I shall be the chaperon of my good Marwitz, and shield
her from the weakness of her own heart."

"If your royal highness declines to give this promise, Mademoiselle
Marwitz shall have another partner. I cannot answer to my conscience
if she is left alone, unobserved and unprotected, with the most
beautiful of the beautiful."

"Be merciful, princess, and say yes. For you see well that this
terrible Pollnitz will make me a martyr to curiosity. Consent,
gracious princess, and then I may perhaps hear the name of my

"Well, then," said Amelia, smiling, "I consent to play Mentor to my
maid of honor."

"Your royal highness promises then, solemnly, to be present at every
conference between Mademoiselle von Marwitz and her irresistible

"I promise; be quick! Marwitz will die of curiosity, if you do not
tell the name of this wonder."

"Well, now, that I have, so far as it is in my power, guarded the
heart of this young girl from disaster, and placed it under the
protecting eye of our noble princess, I venture to name my paragon.
He is the young lieutenant-Baron von Trenck, the favorite of the
king and the court."

Very different was the impression made by this name upon the two
ladies. The eager countenance of Mademoiselle von Marwitz expressed
cool displeasure; while the princess, blushing and confused, turned
aside to conceal the happy smile which played upon her full, rosy

Pollnitz, who had seen all this, wished to give the princess time to
collect herself. He turned to Mademoiselle Marwitz and said: "I see,
to my amazement, that our lovely maid of honor is not so enraptured
as I had hoped. Mademoiselle, mademoiselle! you are a wonderful
actress, but you cannot deceive me. You wish to seem disappointed
and indifferent, in order to induce our gracious princess to
withdraw her promise to me, and to think it unnecessary to be
present at your interviews with Trenck. This acting is in vain. The
princess has given her word, and she will most surely keep it."

"Certainly," said Amelia, smiling, "I have no alternative. Queens
and princesses, kings and princes, are bound by their promises, even
as common men, and their honor demands that they fulfil their
contracts. I will keep my word. But enough of jesting for the
present. Let us speak now of the solemn realities of life, namely,
of our toilets. Baron, give me your model engraving, and make known
your views. Call my chambermaid, mademoiselle, and my dressmakers;
we will hold a solemn conference."



As Mademoiselle von Marwitz left the room, Pollnitz took a sealed
note from his pocket and handed it hastily to the princess. She
concealed it in the pocket of her dress, and continued to gaze
indifferently upon a painting of Watteau, which hung upon the wall.

"Not one word! Still! Not one word!" whispered Pollnitz. "You are
resolved to drive my young friend to despair. You will not grant him
one gracious word?"

The princess turned away her blushing face, drew a note from her
bosom, and, without a glance or word in reply, she handed it to the
master of ceremonies, ashamed and confused, as a young girl always
is, when she enters upon her first love romance, or commits her
first imprudence.

Pollnitz kissed her hand with a lover's rapture. "He will be the
most blessed of mortals," said he, "and yet this is so small a
favor! It lies in the power of your royal highness to grant him
heavenly felicity. You can fulfil one wish which his trembling lips
have never dared to speak; which only God and the eyes of one
faithful friend have seen written in his heart."

"What is this wish?" said the princess, in so low and trembling a
whisper, that Pollnitz rather guessed than heard her words.

"I believe that he would pay with his life for the happiness of
sitting one hour at your feet and gazing upon you."

"Well, you have prepared for him this opportunity; you have so
adroitly arranged your plans, that I cannot avoid meeting him."

"Ah, princess, how despondent would he be, if he could hear these
cold and cruel words! I must comfort him by this appearance of favor
if I cannot obtain for him a real happiness. Your royal highness is
very cold, very stern toward my poor friend. My God! he asks only of
your grace, that which the humblest of your brother's subjects dare
demand of him - an audience - that is all."

Amelia fixed her burning eyes upon Pollnitz. "Apage, Satanas!" she
whispered, with a weary smile.

"You do me too much honor," said Pollnitz. "Unhappily I am not the
devil, who is, without doubt, next to God, the most powerful ruler
of this earth. I am convinced that three-fourths of our race belong
to him. I am, alas! but a poor, weak mortal, and my words have not
the power to move the heart of your highness to pity."

"My God! Pollnitz, why all this eloquence and intercession?" cried
Amelia. "Do I not allow him to write to me all that he thinks and
feels? Am I not traitress enough to read all his letters, and pardon
him for his love? What more can he dare hope for? Is it not enough
that he loves a princess, and tells her so? Not enough - "

She ceased suddenly; her eyes, which shrank from meeting the bold,
reproachful, and ironical glance of the baron, had wandered
restlessly about the room and fell now upon the picture of Watteau;
upon the loving, happy pair, who were tenderly embracing under the
oaks in the centre of that enchanting landscape. This group, upon
which the eye of the princess accidentally rested, was an eloquent
and decisive answer to her question - an answer made to the eyes, if
not the ears of Amelia - and her heart trembled.

Pollnitz had followed her glances, and understood her blushes and
her confusion. He stepped to the picture and pointed to the tender

"Gracious princess, demand of these blessed ones, if a man who loves
passionately has nothing more to implore of his mistress than the
permission to write her letters?"

Amelia trembled. She fixed her eyes with an expression of absolute
terror upon Pollnitz, who with his fox smile and immovable composure
gazed steadily in her face. He had no pity for her girlish
confusion, for her modest and maidenly alarm. With gay, mocking, and
frivolous jests, he resolved to overcome her fears. He painted in
glowing colors the anguish and despair of her young lover; he
assured her that she could grant him a meeting in her rooms without
danger from curious eyes or ears. Did not the room of the princess
open upon this little dark corridor, in which no guard was ever
placed, and from which a small, neglected stairway led to the lower
stage of the castle? This stairway opened into an unoccupied room,
the low windows of which looked out upon the garden of Monbijou.
Nothing, then, was necessary but to withdraw the bar from these
windows during the day; they could then be noiselessly opened by
night, and the room of the princess safely reached.

The princess was silent. By no look or smile, no contraction of the
brow or expression of displeasure, did she show her emotion, but she
listened to these vile and dangerous words; she let the poison of
the tempter enter her heart; she had neither the strength nor will
to reject his counsel, or banish him from her presence; she had only
the power to be silent, and to conceal from Pollnitz that her better
self was overcome.

"I shall soon reach the goal," said Pollnitz, clapping his hands
merrily after leaving the princess. "Yes, yes! the heart of the
little Princess Amelia is subdued, and her love is like a ripe
fruit-ready to be plucked by the first eager hand. And this, my
proud and cruel King Frederick, will be my revenge. I will return
shame for shame. If the good people in the streets rejoice to hear
the humiliation and shame put upon the Baron von Pollnitz, cried
aloud at the corners, I think they will enjoy no less the scandal
about the little Princess Amelia. This will not, to be sure, be
trumpeted through the streets; but the voice of Slander is powerful,
and her lightest whispers are eagerly received."

Pollnitz gave himself up for a while to these wicked and cruel
thoughts, and he looked like a demon rejoicing in the anguish of his
victims. He soon smoothed his brow, however, and assumed his
accustomed gay and unembarrassed manner.

"But before I revenge myself, I must be paid," said he, with an
internal chuckle. "I shall be the chosen confidant in this
adventure, and my name is not Pollnitz if I do not realize a large
profit. Oh, King Frederick, King Frederick! I think the little
Amelia will pay but small attention to your command and your menace.
She will lend the poor Pollnitz gold; yes, gold, much gold! and I - I
will pay her by my silence."

Giving himself up to these happy thoughts, the master of ceremonies
sought the young lieutenant, in order to hand him the letter of the

"The fortress is ready to surrender," cried he; "advance and storm
it, and you will enter the open door of the heart as conqueror. I
have prepared the way for you to see the princess every day: make
use of your opportunities like a brave, handsome, young, and loving
cavalier. I predict you will soon be a general, or a prince, or
something great and envied."

"A general, a prince, or a high traitor, who must lay his head upon
the block and expiate his guilt with his life," said Trench
thoughtfully. "Let it be so. In order to become this high traitor, I
must first be the happiest, the most enviable of men. I shall not
think that too dearly paid for by my heart's blood. Oh, Amelia,
Amelia! I love thee boundlessly; thou art my happiness, my
salvation, my hope; thou - "

"Enough, enough!" said Pollnitz, laughing and placing his hands upon
his ears. "These are well-known, well-used, and much-abused phrases,
which have been repeated in all languages since the time of Adam,
and which after all are only lovely and fantastic lies. Act, my
young friend, but say nothing; you know that walls have ears. The
table upon which you write your letters, and the portfolio in which
you place the letters of the princess, to be guarded to all
eternity, both have prying eyes. Prudence, prudence! burn the
letters of the princess, and write your own with sympathetic ink or
in cipher, so that no man can read them, and none but God and the
devil may know your dangerous secret."

Trenck did not hear one word of this; he was too happy, too
impassioned, too young, to listen to the words of warning and
caution of the old roue. He read again and again, and with ever-
increasing rapture, the letter of the princess; he pressed it to his
throbbing heart and glowing lips, and fixed his loving eyes upon
those characters which her hand had written and her heart had

Pollnitz looked at him with a subdued smile, and enjoyed his
raptures, even as the fox enjoys the graceful flappings of the
wings, the gentle movements of the dove, when he knows that she
cannot escape him, and grants her a few moments of happiness before
he springs upon and strangles her. "I wager that you know that
letter by heart," said he, as he slowly lighted a match in order to
kindle his cigar; "am I not right? do you not know it by heart?"

"Every word is written in letters of flame upon my heart."

With a sudden movement, the baron snatched the paper from the young
man and held it in the flames,

"Stop! stop!" cried Frederick von Trenck, and he tried to tear the
letter from him.

Pollnitz kept him off with one arm and waved the burning paper over
his head.

"My God! what have you done?" cried the young man.

"I have made a sacrifice to the god of silence," said he solemnly;
"I have burnt this paper lest it might be used to light the scaffold
upon which you may one day burn as a high traitor. Thank me, young
man. I have perhaps saved you from discovery and from death."



Truly this perfidious friend had, for one day, guarded the secret of
the young lovers from discovery; but, the poison, which Pollnitz in
his worldly cunning prepared for them, had entered into their
hearts. For some days they met under strong restraint; only by
stolen glances and sighs, by a momentary pressure of the hand, or a
few slightly murmured words, could they give expression to their
rapture and their passion. The presence of another held their hearts
and lips in bondage.

Pollnitz knew full well that there was no surer means to induce a

Online LibraryL. MühlbachBerlin and Sans-Souci; or Frederick the Great and his friends → online text (page 10 of 42)