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young girl to grant her lover an interview than to force them to
meet before strange witnesses, to bring every word and look into
captivity, to condemn them to silence and seeming indifference. The
glowing heart bounds against these iron bands; it longs to cast off
the yoke of silence, and to breathe unfettered as the wanton air.
Princess Amelia had borne two days of this martyrdom, and her
courage failed. She was resolved to grant him a private interview as
soon as he dared ask for it. She wished to see this handsome face,
now clouded by melancholy, illuminated by the sunshine of happiness;
those sad eyes "should look up clear, and the sorrowful lips should
smile; she would make her lover happy!" She thought only of this; it
was her only wish.

There were many sad hours of pain and anguish, sad hours in which
she saw her danger, and wished to escape. In her despair and agony
she was almost ready to cast herself at the feet of her mother, to
confess all, and seek this sure protection against her own girlish
weakness; but the voice of love in her heart held her back from this
step; she closed her eyes to the abyss which was before her and
pressed panting onward to the brink. If Amelia had had a friend, a
sister whom she could love and trust, she might have been saved; but
her rank made a true friend impossible; being a princess, she was
isolated. Her only friend and sister had alienated her heart,
through the intrigues by which she had won the crown of Sweden.

Perhaps these costly and magnificent wedding festivities which would
have been prepared for her, had she not refused a husband worthy of
her birth, aroused her anger, and in her rage and her despair she
entered upon dangerous paths, and fell into the cruel snares of
Pollnitz. She said to herself: "Yes, all this honor and glory was my
own, but my weak heart and my perfidious sister wrenched them from
my grasp. Fate offered me a way of escape, but my sister cast me
into the abyss in which I now stand; upon her rests the
responsibility. Upon her head be my tears, my despair, my misery,
and my shame. Ulrica prevented me from being a queen; well, then, I
will be simply a young girl, who loves and who offers up all to her
beloved, her pride, her rank, and the unstained greatness of her
ancestors. For Ulrica be honor, pomp, and power; for me the mystery
of love, and a girl's silent happiness. Who can say which of us is
most to be envied?"

These were indeed happy, sunny days, which were prepared for the
bride of Adolph Frederick of Holstein, the Crown Prince of Sweden.
Fete succeeded to fete. The whole land took part in the happiness of
the royal family. All the provinces and cities sent deputations to
congratulate the king, and bring rich gifts to the princess; she who
had been always cast into the shade by the more noble and
bewildering beauty of her younger sister, had now become the centre
of attraction in all these superb festivities which followed each
other in quick succession. It was in honor of the Princess Ulrica
that the king gave a masked ball in the opera-house, to which the
whole city was invited; for her, on the evening of her betrothal,
every street in Berlin was brilliantly illuminated with wax-lights,
not by command of the king, but as a free-will offering of the
people; for her the queen, at Schonhausen, gave a superb ball; for
her the Swedish ambassador arranged a fete, whose fabulous pomp and
extravagant luxury were supposed to indicate the splendor which
awaited her in her new home. Lastly, this ball at the royal palace,
to which not only the nobles, but many of the wealthy burghers were
invited, was intended as a special compliment to Ulrica.

More than three thousand persons moved gayly through these royal
saloons, odorous with the perfume of flowers, glittering with wax-
lights, the glimmer of diamonds, and rich gold and silver
embroideries - nothing was to be seen but ravishing toilets and happy
faces. All the beauty, youth, rank, fame, and worth of Berlin were
assembled at the palace; and behind these lovely ladies and
glittering cavaliers, the wondering, gaping crowd, of common men,
moved slowly onward, dumb with amazement and delight. The king had
commanded that no well-dressed person should be denied entrance to
the castle.

Those who had cards of invitation were the guests of the king, and
wandered freely through the saloons. Those who came without cards
had to content themselves behind the silken ropes stretched across
one side of the rooms; by means of this rope an almost invisible and
yet an insurmountable barrier was interposed between the people and
the court circle.

It was difficult to preserve the rules and customs of courtly
etiquette in such a vast assembly, and more difficult still to see
that every man was received and served as the guest of a king, and
suitable to his own personal merit. Crowds of lackeys flew through
the rooms bearing silver plateaux filled with the richest viands,
the most costly fruits, and the rarest wines. Tables were loaded
with the luxuries of every clime and season, and the clang of
glasses and the sweet sound of happy laughter were heard in every
direction. The king expressed a proud confidence in his good people
of Berlin, and declined the services of the police. He commissioned
some officers of his life-guard to act as his substitute and play
the host, attending to the wants and pleasures of all. Supper was
prepared in the picture-gallery for the court circle.

But what means this wild laughter which echoes suddenly through the
vast crowd and reaches the ear of the king, who looks up surprised
and questioning to his master of ceremonies, and orders him to
investigate the tumult? In a few moments Pollnitz returned,
accompanied by a young officer, whose tall and graceful figure, and
whose handsome face, glowing with youth, pride, and energy,
attracted the attention of the noblest ladies, and won a smile of
admiration from the queen-mother.

"Sire," said Pollnitz, "a mask in the guise of a thief, and in the
zealous pursuit of his calling, has robbed one of the officers who
were commanded by your majesty to guard the public peace and
property. Look, your majesty, at our young lieutenant, Von Trenck:
in the midst of the crowd, his rich, gold-embroidered scarf has been
adroitly removed; in his zeal for your service, he forgot himself,
and the merry gnome, - whom Trenck should have kept in order, has
made our officer the target for his sleight of hand. This jest,
sire, caused the loud laughter which you heard."

The eyes of the king rested with an expression of kindliness and
admiration upon the young man, and the Princess Amelia felt her
heart tremble with joy and hope. A rich crimson suffused her cheeks;
it made her almost happy to see that her lover was appreciated by
her exalted brother and king.

"I have watched and wondered at him during the whole evening," said
the king, merrily; "his glance, like the eye of Providence, pierces
the most distant and most obscure corner, and sees all that occurs.
That he who sees all else has forgotten himself, proves that he is
not vain, and that he forgets his own interests in the discharge of
his public duties. I will remember this and reward him, not in the
gay saloon, but on the battle-field, where, I am sure, his scarf
will not be taken from him."

Frederick gave his hand to the young officer, who pressed it warmly
to his lips; then turning to the queen-mother, he said: "Madame, I
know that this young man has been commended to you, allow me also to
bespeak your favor in his behalf; will your majesty have the grace
to instruct him in all the qualities which should adorn a noble
cavalier? I will make him a warrior, and then we shall possess a
nobleman beyond praise, if not beyond comparison."

The king, rising from the table, left his seat and laid his hand
kindly upon Trenck's shoulder. "He is tall enough," said Frederick
laughing; "for that he may thank Providence; let him not be
satisfied with that, but strive to be great, and for that he may
thank himself." He nodded graciously to Trenck, gave his arm to the
queen-mother, and led her into the ball-room.



The crowd and heat of the dancing-saloon were intolerable. All
wished to see the quadrille in which the two princesses, the
loveliest women of the court, and the most gallant cavaliers were to
appear. The music also was a special object of interest, as it was
composed by the king. The first quadrille closed in the midst of
tumultuous applause, restrained by no courtly etiquette. The
partners for the second quadrille advanced to the gay and inspiring
sound of pipes and drums.

The Princess Amelia had withdrawn from the crowd into a window
recess. She was breathless and exhausted from the dance and the
excitement of the last few days. She required a few moments of rest,
of refreshment, and meditation. She drew the heavy silk curtains
carefully together, and seated herself upon the little tabouret
which stood in the recess. This quiet retreat, this isolation from
the thoughtless crowd, brought peace to her soul. It was happiness
to close her weary eyes, and indulge in sweet dreams to the sound of
this glorious music; to feel herself shut off from the laughing,
heartless crowd.

She leaned her lovely head upon the cushion, not to sleep but to
dream. She thought of her sister, who would soon place a crown upon
her head; who had sold herself for this crown to a man whom she had
never seen, and of whom she knew nothing, but that he was heir to a
throne. Amelia shuddered at the thought that Ulrica had sacrificed
her religion to this man, whom she knew not, and had promised at
God's altar to love and be faithful to him. In the purity and
innocence of her girlish heart she considered this a crime, a
sacrilege against love, truth, and faith. "I will never follow
Ulrica's example," she whispered to herself. "I will never sell
myself. I will obey the dictates of my heart and give myself to the
man I love." As she said this, a crimson glow overspread her cheeks,
and she opened her eyes wide, as if she hoped to see the man she
loved before her, and wished him to read in her steady glance the
sweet confirmation of the words she had so lightly whispered.

"No, no! I will never marry without love. I love, and as there can
be but one true love in a true life, I shall never marry - then - "
She ceased and bowed her head upon her bosom, her trembling lips
refused to speak the hope and dream of her heart, to give words to
the wild, passionate thoughts which burned like lava in her breast,
and, like the wild rush of many waters, drowned her reason. She
thought that in the eloquence of her great love she might touch the
heart of the king, and in the magnanimity of his soul he might allow
her to be happy, to place a simple myrtle-wreath upon her brow. She
repeated the friendly and admiring words which the king had spoken
to her lover. She saw again those wondrous eyes resting with
interest and admiration upon the splendid form of the young baron. A
happy, playful smile was on her lip. "The king himself finds him
handsome and attractive; he cannot then wonder that his sister
shares his opinion. He will think it natural that I love him - that -

A wild storm of applause in the saloon interrupted the current of
her thoughts. She drew the curtains slightly apart, and gazed into
the room. The second quadrille was ended, and the dancers were now
sinking upon the tabourets, almost breathless from fatigue.

The princess could not only see, but she could hear. Two ladies
stood just in front of the curtains behind which she was concealed,
engaged in earnest conversation; they spoke of Frederick von Trenck;
they were enraptured with his athletic form and glowing eyes.

"He has the face of a Ganymede and the figure of a Hercules," said
one. "I think him as beautiful as the Apollo Belvedere," said the
other; "and then his expression is so pure and innocent. I envy the
woman who will be his first love."

"You think, then, that he has never loved?"

"I am sure of it. The passion and fire of his heart are yet
concealed under the veil of youth. He is unmoved by a woman's tender
smiles and her speaking and promising glances. He does not
understand their meaning."

"Have you tried these powerful weapons?"

"I have, and I confess wholly in vain; but I have not given up the
contest, and I shall renew the attack until - "

The ladies now moved slowly away, and the princess heard no more,
but she knew their voices; they were Madame von Brandt and Louise
von Kleist, whom the king often called the "loveliest of the
lovely." Louise von Kleist, the irresistible coquette, who was
always surrounded by worshippers and adorers, confessed to her
friend that all her tender glances had been unavailing; that she had
in vain attempted to melt the ice-rind of his heart.

"But she will renew her efforts," cried Amelia, and her heart
trembled with its first throb of jealousy. "Oh, I know Louise von
Kleist! She will pursue him with her tenderness, her glances of
love, and bold encouragement, until he admires, falls at her feet a
willing victim. But no, no, I cannot suffer that. She shall not rob
me of my only happiness - the golden dream of my young life. He
belongs to me, he is mine by the mighty power of passion, he is
bound to me by a thousand holy oaths. I am his first love. I am that
happy woman whom he adores, and who is envied by the beauteous
Louise von Schwerin. He is mine and he shall be mine, in spite of
the whole world. I love him, and I give myself to him."

And now she once more looked through the curtains and shrank back in
sweet surprise. Right before her stood Trenck - the Apollo of Louise
von Kleist, the Hercules and the Ganymede of Madame von Brandt, the
beloved of the Princess Amelia - Trenck stood with folded arms
immovable, and gazed piercingly in the crowd of maskers. Perhaps he
sought for Amelia; perhaps he was sorrowful because she had
withdrawn herself.

Suddenly he heard a soft, low voice whispering: "Do not move, do not
turn - remain standing as you are; but if you hear and understand me,
bow your head."

Frederick von Trenck bowed his head. But the princess could not see
the rapturous expression which illuminated his face; she could not
know that his breath almost failed him; she could not hear the
stormy, tumultuous beating of his heart.

"Do you know who speaks? if you recognize me, incline your head."

The music sounded loud and clear, and the dancing feet, the gay
jest, and merry laughter of five hundred persona gave confidence and
security to the lovers, Frederick was not content with this silent
sign. He turned toward the recess and said in low tones: "I know the
voice of my angel, and I would fall upon my knees and worship her,
but it would bring danger and separation."

"Still! say no more," whispered the voice; and Trenck knew by its
trembling tones, that the maiden was inspired by the same ardent
passion which glowed in every fibre of his being. That still small
voice sounded in his ears like the notes of an organ: "Say no more,
but listen. To-morrow the Princess Ulrica departs for Sweden, and
the king goes to Potsdam; you will accompany him. Have you a swift
horse that knows the way from Potsdam to Berlin, and can find it by

"I have a swift horse, and for me and my horse there is no night."

"Four nights from this you will find the window which you know open,
and the door which leads to the small stair, only closed. Come at
the hour of eleven, and you will receive a compensation for the
scarf you have lost this evening. Hush - no word; look not around,
move onward indifferently; turn not your head. Farewell! in four
days - at eleven - go!"

"I had to prepare a coat of mail for him, in order that he might be
invulnerable," whispered Amelia tremblingly; exhausted and
remorseful, she sank back upon the tabouret. "The beautiful Kleist
shall not ravish my beloved from me. He loves me - me alone; and he
shall no longer complain of my cruelty. I dare not be cruel! I dare
not make him unhappy, for she might comfort him. He shall love
nothing but me, only me! If Louise von Kleist pursues him with her
arts, I will murder her - that is all!"



The king laid his flute aside, and walked restlessly and sullenly
about his room. His brow was clouded, and he had in vain sought
distraction in his faithful friend, the flute. Its soft, melodious
voice brought no relief; the cloud was in his heart, and made him
the slave of melancholy. Perhaps it was the pain of separation from
his sister which oppressed his spirit.

The evening before, the princess had taken leave of the Berliners at
the opera-house, that is, she had shown herself to them for the last
time. While the prima donna was singing her most enchanting
melodies, the travelling carriage of Ulrica drove to the door. The
king wished to spare himself the agony of a formal parting, and had
ordered that she should enter her carriage at the close of the
opera, and depart, without saying farewell.

The people knew this. They were utterly indifferent to the beautiful
opera of "Rodelinda," and fixed their eyes steadily upon the king's
loge. They thus took a silent and affectionate leave of their young
princess, who appeared before them for the last time, in all the
splendor of her youth and beauty, and the dignity of her proud and
royal bearing. An unwonted silence reigned throughout the house; all
eyes were turned to the box where the princess sat between the two
queens. Suddenly the door was thrown open, and the young Prince
Ferdinand rushed, with open arms, to his sister.

"My dear, dear Ulrica!" he cried, weeping and sobbing painfully,
"must it then be so? Do I indeed see you for the last time?" With
childish eagerness he embraced his sister, and leaned his head upon
her bosom. The princess could no longer control herself; she mingled
her tears with those of her brother, and drawing him softly out of
view, she whispered weeping and trembling words of tenderness; she
implored him not to forget her, and promised to love him always.

The queen-mother stood near. She had forgotten that she was a queen,
and remembered only that she was a mother about to lose her child
forever; the thought of royal dignity and courtly etiquette was for
some moments banished from her proud heart; she saw her children
heart-broken and weeping before her, and she wept with them.
[Footnote: Schneider's "History of the Opera and the Royal Opera-

The people saw this. Never had the most gracious smile, the most
condescending word of her majesty, won their hearts so completely as
these tears of the mother. Every mother felt for this woman, who,
though a queen, suffered a mother's anguish; and every maiden wept
with this young girl, who, although entering upon a splendid future,
shed hot tears over the happy past and the beloved home. When the
men saw their wives and children weeping, and the prince not ashamed
of his tears, they also wept, from sympathy and love to the royal
house. In place of the gay jest and merry laughter wont to prevail
between the acts, scarcely suppressed sobs were the only sounds to
be heard. The glorious singer Salimberri was unapplauded. The
Barbarina danced, but the accustomed bravos were hushed.

Was it the remembrance of this touching scene which moved the king
so profoundly? Did this eternal separation from his beloved sister
weigh upon his heart? The king himself knew not, or he would not
acknowledge to himself what emotion produced this wild unrest. After
laying his flute aside, he took up Livy, which lay always upon his
writing-table, and tried to read a chapter; but the letters danced
before his eyes, and his thoughts wandered far away from the old
Roman. He threw the book peevishly aside, and, folding his arms,
walked rapidly backward and forward.

"Ah me! ah me! I wish this were the day of battle!" he murmured.
"To-day I should be surely victorious! I am in a fierce and
desperate mood. The wild roar of conflict would be welcome as a
sweet home song in a strange land, and the shedding of blood would
be medicinal, and relieve my oppressed brain. What is it which has
drawn this veil over my spirit? What mighty and mysterious power has
stretched her hand over me? With what bounds am I held a helpless
captive? I feel, but I cannot see them, and cannot tear them apart.
No, no! I will be lord of myself. I will be no silent dreamer. I
will live a true life. I will work, and be a faithful ruler, if I
cannot be a free and happy man."

He rang the bell, and ordered the ministers to assemble for a
cabinet council.

"I will work, and forget every thing else," he said, with a sad
smile, and he entered his cabinet with this proud resolve.

This time the king deceived himself. The most earnest occupation did
not drive the cloud from his brow: in fact, it became more lowering.

"I cannot endure this," he said, after walking backward and forward
thoughtfully. "I will put a stop to it. As I am not a Ulysses, I do
not see why I should bind my eyes, and stop my ears with wax, in
order not to see this bewildering siren, and hear her intoxicating
song. In this sorrowful and pitiful world, is it not a happiness to
meet with an enchantress, to bow down to the magic of her charms,
and for a small half hour to dream of bliss? All other men are mad:
why should I alone be reasonable? Come, then, spirit of love and
bliss, heavenly insanity, take possession of my struggling soul. Let
old age be wise and cool, I am young and warm. For a little while I
will play the fool, and forget my miserable dignity."

Frederick called his servant, and sent for General Rothenberg, then
took his flute and began to play softly. When the general entered,
the king nodded to him, but quietly finished his adagio; then laid
the flute aside, and gave his hand to his friend.

"You must be Pylades, my friend, and banish the despondency which
oppresses the heart and head of thy poor Orestes."

"I will be all that your majesty allows or commands me to be," said
the general, laughing; "but I think the queen-mother would be little
pleased to hear your majesty compare yourself to Orestes."

"Ah, you allude to Clytemnestra's faithless love-story, with which,
truly, my exalted and virtuous mother cannot be associated. Well, my
comparison is a little lame, but my despondency is real - deeply
seated as my friendship for you."

"How! your majesty is melancholy? I understand this mood of my
king," said Rothenberg. "It only takes possession of you the day
before some great deed, and only then because the night before the
day of triumph seems too long. Your majesty confesses that you are
sad. I conclude, therefore, that we will soon have war, and soon
rejoice in the victories of our king."

"Perhaps you are right," said the king, smiling. "I do not love war,
but it is sometimes a necessary evil; and if I cannot relieve my
godmother, Maria Theresa, of this mortal malady of pride and
superciliousness without a general blood-letting, I must even play
the physician and open a vein. The alliance with France is
concluded; Charles the Seventh goes to Frankfort for coronation; the
French ambassador accompanies him, and my army stands ready for
battle, ready to protect the emperor against Austria. We will soon
have war, friend, and I hope we will soon have a victory to
celebrate. In a few weeks we will advance. Oh, Rothenberg! when I
speak of battle, I feel that I am young, that my heart is not of
stone - it bounds and beats as if it would break down its prison
walls, and found a new home of glory and fame."

"The heart of my king will be ever young; it is full of trust and

Frederick shook his head thoughtfully. "Do not believe that,
Rothenberg; the hands that labor become hard and callous, and so is
it with the heart. Mine has labored and suffered; it will turn at
last to stone. Then I shall be condemned. The world will forget that
it is responsible; they will speak only of my hard heart, and say
nothing of the anguish and the deceptions which have turned me to
stone. But what of that? Let these foolish two-legged creatures, who
proudly proclaim that they are made in the image of God, say what
they please of me; they cannot deprive me of my fame and my
immortality. He who possesses that has received his reward, and dare
utter no complaint. Truly Erostratus and Schinderhannes are
celebrated, and Eulenspiegle is better known and beloved by the

Online LibraryL. MühlbachBerlin and Sans-Souci; or Frederick the Great and his friends → online text (page 11 of 42)