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refreshing and amusing himself in Berlin, the Austrians have entered
Glatz, and bring us greetings from our gracious queen, Maria

"If the King of Prussia hears of these greetings, he will answer
them by cannon-balls."

"Did I not tell you that Frederick of Prussia was idling away in
Berlin, and recovering from his disastrous campaign in Bohemia? The
Austrians will have taken possession of all Upper Silesia before the
king and his soldiers have satisfied their hunger, I tell you, in a
few days they will be with us."

"God forbid!" said Brother Anastasius; "then will the torch of war
burn anew, and misfortune and misery will reign again throughout

"Yes, that is true. I will tell you another piece of news, which I
heard yesterday in Frankenstein; it is said that the King of Prussia
has quietly left Berlin and gone himself into Silesia to look after
the Austrians. Would it not be charming if Frederick should make our
cloister a visit, just as General Count Wallis and his troops
entered Camens?"

"And you would call that charming?" said Brother Anastasius, with a
reproachful look.

"Yes, most assuredly; the king would be taken prisoner, and the war
would be at an end. You may rest assured the Austrians would not
give the king his liberty till he had yielded up Silesia for

"May God be gracious, and guard us from war and pestilence!"
murmured Brother Anastasius, folding his hands piously in prayer.

The thrice-repeated stroke of the bell in the cloister interrupted
his devotions, and the full, round face of Brother Tobias glowed
with pleasing anticipations.

"They ring for breakfast, Brother Anastasius," said he; "let us
hasten before Brother Baptist, who is ever the first at the table,
appropriates the best morsels and lays them on his plate. Come,
come, brother; after breakfast we will go into the garden and water
our flowers. We have a lovely day and ample time - it will be three
hours before mass."

"Come, then, brother, and may your dangerous prophecies and
expectations not be fulfilled!"

The two monks stepped into the cloister, and a deep and unbroken
silence reigned around, interrupted only by the sweet songs of the
birds and the light movements of their wings. The building was in
the noble style of the middle ages, and stood out in grand and
harmonious proportions against the deep blue of the horizon.

It was, without doubt, to observe the beauty and grandeur of this
structure, that two travellers who had toiled slowly up the path
leading from the village of Camens, now paused and looked with
wondering glances at the cloister.

"There must be a splendid view from the tower," said the oldest and
smaller of the travellers to his tall and slender companion, who was
gazing with rapture at the enchanting landscape.

"It must indeed be a glorious prospect," he replied with a
respectful bow.

"It affords a splendid opportunity to look far and wide over the
land, and to see if the Austrian troops are really on the march,"
said the other, with a stern and somewhat hasty tone. "Let us enter
and ascend the tower."

The youth bowed silently, and followed, at some little distance, the
hasty steps of his companion. They reached the platform, and stood
for a moment to recover breath.

"We have reached the summit - if we were only safely down again."

"We can certainly descend; the question is, under what

"You mean, whether free or as prisoners? Well, I see no danger; we
are completely disguised, and no one knows me here. The Abbot
Amandus is dead, and the new abbot is unknown to me. Let us make
haste; ring the bell."

The youth was in the act of obeying, when suddenly a voice cried
out: "Don't sound the bell - I will come myself and open the door."

A man had been standing at the upper story, by an open window, and
heard the conversation of the two travellers. He drew in his head
hastily and disappeared.

"It seems I am not so unknown as I supposed," said the smaller of
the two gentlemen, with a quiet smile.

"Who knows whether these monks are reliable and true?" whispered the

"You certainly would not doubt these exalted servants of God? I, for
my part, shall believe in their sincerity till they convince me of
the contrary. Ah! the door is opened."

The small door was indeed open, and a monk came out, and hastily
drew near to the two travellers.

"I am the Abbot Tobias Stusche; I am also a man wholly devoted to
the King of Prussia, though he does not know me."

The abbot laid such a peculiar expression upon these last words,
that the strangers were forced to remark them.

"Do you not know the King of Prussia?" said the elder, fixing his
eagle eye upon the kindly and friendly face of the abbot.

"I know the king when he does not wish to be incognito," said the
abbot, with a smile.

"If the king were here, would you counsel him to remain incognito?"

"I would counsel that; some among my monks are Austrian in sympathy,
and I hear the Austrians are at hand."

"My object is to look out from your tower after the Austrians. Let
us enter; show us the way."

The abbot said nothing, but entered the cloister hastily, and cast a
searching glance in every direction.

"They are all yet in the refectory, and the windows open upon the
gardens. But no - there is Brother Anastasius."

It was truly Brother Anastasius, who stood at the window, and
regarded them with astonished and sympathetic glances. The abbot
nodded to him and laid his forefinger lightly upon his lips; he then
hastily crossed the threshold of the little door.

The stranger laid his hand upon the shoulder of the abbot, and said
sternly, "Did you not give a sign to this monk?"

"Yes, the sign of silence," answered the abbot; and turning back, he
looked calmly upon the strangers.

"Let us go onward." And with a firm step they entered the cloister.



Silently they passed through the lofty halls and corridors, which
resounded with the steps of the strangers, and reached the rooms
appropriated to the abbot. As they entered and the door closed
behind them, shutting them off from the seeing and listening world,
the face of the abbot assumed an expression of the most profound
reverence and emotion. He crossed his hands over his breast, and
bowing profoundly, he said: "Will your majesty allow me from the
depths of my soul to welcome you? In the rooms of the Abbot Tobias
Stusche, King Frederick need not preserve his incognito. Blessed be
your entrance into my house, and may your departure also be

The king smiled. "This blessed conclusion, I suppose, depends
entirely upon your excellency. I really cannot say what danger
threatens us. It certainly was not my intention to wander here; to
stretch out my reconnoissance to such a distance. But what would
you, sir abbot? I am not only a king and soldier, but I am a man,
with eye and heart open to the beauties of nature, and I worship God
in His works of creation. Your cloister enticed me with its beauty.
In place of mounting my horse and riding back from Frankenstein, I
was lured hither to admire your building and enjoy the splendid
prospect from your tower. Allow me to rest awhile; give me a glass
of wine, and then we will mount the tower."

There was so much of calm, bold courage, so much of proud self-
consciousness in the bearing of the king, that the poor, anxious
abbot could not find courage to express his apprehensions. He turned
and looked imploringly at the companion of the king, who was no
other than the young officer of the life-guard, Frederick von
Trenck. The youth seemed to share fully the careless indifference of
his royal master; his face was smiling, and he did not seem to
understand the meaning looks of the abbot.

"Will your majesty allow me, and me alone, to have the honor of
serving you?" said his excellency. "I am jealous of the great
happiness which Providence has accorded me, and I will not divide it
with another, not even with my monks."

Frederick laughed heartily. "Confess, your excellency, that you dare
not trust your monks. You do not know that they are as good
Prussians as I have happily found you to be? Go, then, if it is
agreeable to you, and with your own pious hands bring me a glass of
wine, I need not say good wine - you cloistered men understand that."

Frederick leaned back comfortably in his arm-chair and conversed
cheerfully, even merrily, with his young adjutant and the worthy
abbot, who hastened here and there, and drew from closets and
hiding-places wine, fruit, and other rich viands. The cloistered
stillness, the unbroken quiet which surrounded him, were pleasing to
the king; his features were illuminated with that soft and at the
same time imposing smile which played but seldom upon his lips, but
which, like the sun, when it appeared, filled all hearts with light
and gladness. Several hours passed - hours which the king did not
seem to observe, but the heart of the poor abbot was trembling with

"And now," said the king, "I am rested, refreshed, and strengthened.
Will your excellency conduct me to the tower? then I will return to

"There is happily a way to the tower for my use alone," said the
abbot, "where we are certain to be met by no one. I demand pardon,
sire, the way is dark and winding, and we must mount many small

"Well, abbot, it resembles the way to eternal life; from the power
of darkness to light; from the path of sin and folly to that of
knowledge and true wisdom. I will seek after this knowledge from
your tower, worthy abbot. Have you my field-glass, Trenck?"

The adjutant bowed, silently; they passed through the corridor and
mounted the steps, reaching at last the platform at the top of the

A wondrous prospect burst upon their view; the horizon seemed
bounded by majestic mountains of porphyry - this third element or
place of deposit of the enchanting primeval earth, out of which
mighty but formless mass our living, breathing, and beautiful world
sprang into creation, and the stars sang together for joy. In the
midst of these mountains stood the "Giant," with his snow-crowned
point, like the great finger of God, reaching up into the heavens,
and contrasting strangely with the lofty but round green summits of
the range, now gilded by the morning sun, and sparkling in changing
rays of light.

The king looked upon this picture with rapture; an expression of
prayer and praise was written upon his face. But with the proud
reserve which ever belongs to those who, by exalted rank or genius,
are isolated from other men, with the shrinking of a great soul, the
king would allow no one to witness his emotion. He wished to be
alone, alone with Nature and Nature's God; he dismissed the abbot
and his adjutant, and commanded them to wait in the rooms below for
him. And now, convinced that no one saw or heard him, the king gave
himself up wholly to the exalted and pious feelings which agitated
his soul. With glistening eyes he gazed upon the enchanting
landscape, which glowed and shimmered in the dazzling sunshine.

"God, God!" said he, in low tones; "who can doubt that He is, and
that He is from everlasting to everlasting? Who, that looks upon the
beauty, the harmony, and order of creation, can doubt of His wisdom,
and that His goodness is over all His works? [Footnote: The king's
own words. "OEuvres posthumes," page 162.] O my God, I worship you
in your works of creation and providence, and I bow my head in
adoration at the footstool of your divine Majesty. Why cannot men be
content with this great, mysterious, exalted, and ever-enduring
church, with which God has surrounded them? Why can they not worship
in Nature's great cathedral? Why do they confine themselves to
churches of brick and mortar, the work of men's hands, and listen to
their hypocritical priests, rather than listen to and worship God in
His beautiful world? They cry out against me and call me an infidel,
but my heart is full of love and faith in my Creator, and I worship
Him, not in priestly words, but in the depths of my soul."

And now Frederick cast a smiling greeting to the lovely phenomena
which lay at his feet. His thoughts had been with God, and his
glance upward; but now his eyes wandered over the perfumed and
blooming valley which lay in the depths between the mountains; he
numbered the little cities and villages, with their red roofs and
graceful church-spires; he admired the straw-thatched huts upon
whose highest points the stork had built her nest, and stood by it
in observant and majestic composure.

"This is all mine; I won it with my spear and bow. It is mine, and I
will never yield it up. I will prove to Maria Theresa that what was
good to take was not good to restore. No, no! Silesia is mine; my
honor, my pride, and my fame demand it. I will never give it up. I
will defend it with rivers of blood, yes, with my own heart's

He took his glass and looked again over the luxurious valley; he
started and fixed his glass steadily upon one point. In the midst of
the smiling meadows through which the highway wound like a graceful
stream, he saw a curious, glittering, moving mass. At the first
glance it looked like a crowd of creeping ants; it soon, however,
assumed larger proportions, and, at last, approaching ever nearer,
the forms of men could be distinctly seen, and now he recognized a
column of marching soldiers.

"Austrians," said the king, with calm composure. He turned his glass
in the other direction, where a road led into the valley; this path
was also filled with soldiers, who, by rapid marches, were
approaching the cloister. "Without doubt they know that I am here,"
said the king; "they have learned this in the village, and have come
to take me prisoner. Eh bien, nous verrons."

So saying, Frederick put his glass in his pocket, descended the
steps, and with cool indifference entered the room of the abbot.

"Messieurs," said he, laughing merrily, as he looked at the good-
natured and unsuspicious faces of the worthy abbot and the young
officer, "we must decide upon some plan of defence, for the
Austrians draw near on every side of the cloister."

"Oh, my prophetic soul!" murmured the abbot, folding his hands in

Trenck rushed to the window and looked searchingly abroad. At this
moment a loud knock was heard upon the door, and an anxious voice
called to the abbot.

"All is lost, the Austrians are already here!" cried Tobias Stusche,
wringing his hands despairingly.

"No!" said the king, "they cannot yet have reached the cloister, and
that is not the voice of a soldier who commands, but that of a monk
who prays, and is almost dead with terror; let us open the door."

"O my God, your majesty! would you betray yourself?" cried Stusche,
and forgetting all etiquette, he rushed to the king, laid his hand
upon his arm and held him back.

"No," said the king, "I will not betray myself, neither will I
conceal myself. I will meet my fate with my face to the foe."

"Open, open, for God's sake!" cried the voice without.

"He prays in God's name," said the king. "I will open the door." He
crossed the room and drew back the bolt.

And now, the pale and anxious face of Brother Anastasius appeared.
He entered hastily, closed and fastened the door.

"Pardon," said he, trembling and breathless - "pardon that I have
dared to enter. The danger is great; the Austrians surround the

"Are they already here?" said the king.

"No; but they have sent a courier, who commands us immediately to
open all the doors and give entrance to the soldiers of Maria

"Have they given a reason for this command?"

"Yes; they say they know assuredly that the King of Prussia is
concealed here, and they come to search the cloister."

"Have you not said to them, that we are not only the servants of
God, but the servants of the King of Prussia? Have you not said to
them that the doors of our cloister can only open to Prussian

"Yes, your excellency. I told the soldier all this, but he laughed,
and said the pandours of Colonel von Trenck knew how to obtain an

"Ah! it is Trenck, with his pandours," cried the king, casting a
searching glance at Frederick von Trenck, who stood opposite, with
pale and tightly-compressed lips; he met the eye of the king boldly,
however, and looked him steadily in the face.

"Is Colonel Trenck your relation?" said the king, hastily.

"Yes, your majesty; he is my father's brother's son," said the young
man, proudly.

"Ah! I see you have a clear conscience," said the king, laying his
hand smilingly upon the youth's shoulder. "But, tell me, worthy
abbot, do you know any way to rescue us from this mouse-trap?"

Tobias did not reply immediately; he stood thoughtfully with his
arms folded, then raised his head quickly, as if he had come to some
bold conclusion; energy and purpose were written in his face. "Will
your majesty make use of the means which I dare to offer you?"

"Yes, if they are not unworthy. I owe it to my people not to lay
upon them the burden of my ransom."

"Then I hope, with God's help, to serve your majesty." He turned to
the monk, and said, with a proud, commanding tone: "Brother
Anastasius, listen to my commands. Go immediately to Messner, order
him in my name to call all the brothers to high mass in the choir of
the church; threaten him with my wrath and the severest punishment,
if he dares to speak to one of the brethren. I will prove my monks,
and see if they recognize that obedience is the first duty in a

"While Messner assembles the priests, shall the bell sound for

"Hasten, Brother Anastasius; in ten minutes we must be all in the

"And you expect to save me by celebrating high mass?" said
Frederick, shrugging his shoulders.

"Yes, sire, I expect it. Will your majesty graciously accompany me
to my dressing-room?"



The bell continued to sound, and its silver tones echoed in the
lofty halls and corridors, through which the priests, in their
superb vestments and holy orders, passed onward to the church.
Surprise and wonder were written upon every face; curious questions
were burning upon every lip, restrained, however, by the strong
habit of obedience. The abbot had commanded that not one word should
be exchanged between the brethren. The abbot must be obeyed, though
the monks might die of curiosity. Silently they entered the church.
And now the bell ceased to toll, and the grand old organ filled the
church with a rich stream of harmony. Suddenly the notes were soft
and touching, and the strong, full voices of men rose high above

While the organ swelled, and the church resounded with songs of
prayer and praise, the Abbot Tobias Stusche entered the great door.
But this time he was not, as usual, alone. Another abbot, in the
richly-embroidered habiliments of a fete day, stood by his side. No
one had ever seen this abbot. He was wholly unknown.

Every eye was turned upon him; every one was struck with the
commanding and noble countenance, with the imposing brow and
luminous eye, which cast searching and threatening glances in every
direction. All felt that something strange, unheard of, was passing
in their midst. They knew this stranger, glowing with youth, beauty,
and majesty, was no common priest, no humble brother.

The command to strict silence had been given, and implicit obedience
is the first duty of the cloister. So they were silent, sang, and
prayed; while Tobias Stusche, with the strange abbot, swept slowly
and solemnly through the aisles up to the altar. They both fell upon
their knees and folded their hands in silent prayer.

Again the organ swelled, and the voices of the choristers rose up in
adoration and praise; but every eye and every thought were fixed
upon the strange abbot kneeling before the high altar, and wrestling
with God in prayer. And now the organ was silent, and the low
prayers began. The monks murmured mechanically the accustomed words;
nothing was heard but sighs of penitence and trembling petitions,
which seemed to fade and die away amongst the lofty pillars of the

Suddenly a loud noise was heard without, the sound of pistols and
threatening voices demanding admittance. No one regarded this. The
church doors were violently thrown open, and wild, rude forms,
sunbrowned and threatening faces appeared. For one moment noisy
tumult and outcry filled the church, but it was silenced by the holy
service, now celebrated by these kneeling, praying monks, who held
their beads in their hands, and gave no glance, in token of interest
or consciousness, toward the wild men who had so insolently
interrupted the worship of God. The soldiers bowed their heads
humbly upon their breasts, and prayed for pardon and grace. This
holy duty being fulfilled, they remembered their worldly calling,
and commenced to search the church for the King of Prussia, whom
they believed to be hidden there. The clang of spurs and heavy steps
resounded through the aisles, and completely drowned the prayers and
sighs of the monks, who, kneeling upon their stools, seemed to have
no eye or thought for any thing but the solemn service in which they
were engaged.

The pandours, in their dark, artistic costumes, with the red mantle
fastened to their shoulders, swarmed through the church, and with
flashing eyes and scarcely suppressed curses searched in every niche
and behind every pillar for Frederick of Prussia. How often did
these wild forms pass by the two abbots, who were still kneeling,
immovable in rapturous meditation, before the high altar! How often
did their swords strike upon the floor behind them, and even fasten
in the vestment of the strange abbot, who, with closed eyes and head
bowed down upon his breast, had no knowledge of their presence!

The prayers had continued much longer than usual, and yet the abbot
did not pronounce the benediction! And now he did indeed give a
sign, but not the one expected. He rose from his knees, but did not
leave the church; with his companion, he mounted the steps to the
altar, to draw near to the holy crucifix and bless the host. He
nodded to the choir, and again the organ and the choristers filled
the church with melody.

This was something so extraordinary that the monks turned pale, and
questioned their consciences anxiously. Had they not committed some
great crime, for which their stern abbot was resolved to punish them
with everlasting prayer and penitence? The pandours knew nothing of
this double mass. They had now searched the whole church, and as the
king was not to be found, they rushed out in order to search the
cells, and, indeed, every corner of the cloister. The service still
continued; the unknown abbot stood before the high altar, while
Abbot Stusche took the host and held it up before the kneeling

At this moment a wild cry of triumph was heard without; then curses
and loud laughter. The monks were bowed down before the host, and
did not seem to hear the tumult. They sang and prayed, and now the
outcry and noise of strife was hushed, and nothing was heard but the
faint and dying tones of the organ. The pandours had left the
cloister; they had found the adutant of the king and borne him off
as a rich spoil to their commander, Colonel von Trenck.

The soldiers were gone, it was therefore not necessary to continue
the worship of God. Tobias Stusche repeated a pater-noster, gave his
hand to the unknown abbot, and they turned to leave the church. As
they slowly and majestically swept through the aisles, the monks
bowed their heads in reverence; the organ breathed its last grand
accord, and the glorious sun threw a beckoning love-greeting through
the lofty windows of painted glass. It was a striking and solemn
scene, and the unknown abbot seemed strangely impressed. He paused
at the door and turned once more, and his glance wandered slowly
over the church.

One hour later the heavy state-coach of the Abbot of Clostenberg
rolled down from Camens. In the coach sat Tobias Stusche with the
unknown abbot. They took the road to Frankenstein. Not far from the
gate the carriage stopped, and to the amazement of the coachman, no
abbot, but a soldier clad in the well-known Prussian uniform,
descended. After leaving the coach, he turned again and bowed to the
worthy Abbot Stusche.

"I will never forget this bold and noble act of your excellency,"
said the king, giving his hand to the abbot. "You and your cloister

Online LibraryL. MühlbachBerlin and Sans-Souci; or Frederick the Great and his friends → online text (page 15 of 42)