THE PRUSSIAN TERROR
A FIRST TRANSLATION FROM THE FRENCH
WITH AN INTRODUCTION
LONDON: STANLEY PAUL & CO
PHILADELPHIA: DAVID MCKAY COMPANY
[Illustration: ALEXANDRE DUMAS.]
"L'ennemi, c'est le Prussien"
CHAPTER I. BERLIN
II. THE HOUSE OF HOHENZOLLERN
III. COUNT VON BISMARCK
IV. IN WHICH BISMARCK EMERGES FROM AN IMPOSSIBLE POSITION
V. A SPORTSMAN AND A SPANIEL
VI. BENEDICT TURPIN
VII. KAULBACH'S STUDIO
VIII. THE CHALLENGE
IX. THE TWO DUELS
X. WHAT WAS WRITTEN IN A KING'S HAND
XI. BARON FREDERIC VON BÜLOW
XIII. COUNT KARL VON FREYBERG
XIV. THE GRANDMOTHER
XVI. THE DEPARTURE
XVII. AUSTRIANS AND PRUSSIANS
XVIII. THE DECLARATION OF WAR
XIX. THE BATTLE OF LANGENSALZA
XX. IN WHICH BENEDICT'S PREDICTION CONTINUES TO BE FULFILLED
XXI. WHAT PASSED AT FRANKFURT BETWEEN THE BATTLES OF LANGENSALZA
XXII. THE FREE MEAL
XXIII. THE BATTLE OF ASCHAFFENBURG
XXIV. THE EXECUTOR
XXVI. THE WOUNDED MAN
XXVII. THE PRUSSIANS AT FRANKFORT
XXVIII. GENERAL MANTEUFFEL'S THREATS
XXIX. GENERAL STURM
XXX. THE BREAKING OF THE STORM
XXXI. THE BURGOMASTER
XXXII. QUEEN AUGUSTA
XXXIII. THE TWO PROCESSIONS
XXXIV. THE TRANSFUSION OF BLOOD
XXXV. THE MARRIAGE _IN EXTREMIS_
XXXVI. "WAIT AND SEE"
"The enemy passed beneath our window and then out of view. A moment
afterwards we heard the sound as it were of a hurricane; the house
trembled to the gallop of horses. At the end of the street the enemy had
been charged by our cavalry; and, not knowing our small numbers, they
were returning at full speed hotly pursued by our men. Pell-mell they
all passed by--a whirlwind of smoke and noise. Our soldiers fired and
slashed away, the enemy on their side fired as they fled. Two or three
bullets struck the house, one of them shattering a bar of the
window-shutter through which I was looking on. The spectacle was at once
magnificent and terrible. Pursued too closely the enemy had decided to
face about, and there, twenty paces from us, was going on a combat life
for life. I saw five or six of the enemy fall, and two or three of our
men. Then, defeated after a ten minutes' struggle, the enemy trusted
themselves again to the swiftness of their horses, and cleared off at
full gallop. The pursuit recommenced, the whirlwind resumed its course,
leaving, before it disappeared, three or four men strewn on the
pavement. Suddenly we heard the drum beating to the charge. It was our
hundred infantry soldiers who were coming up in their turn. They marched
with fixed bayonets and disappeared at the bend of the road. Five
minutes later we heard a sharp platoon firing. Then we saw our hussars
reappearing, driven by five or six hundred cavalry; they reappeared the
pursued, as they had started the pursuers. Amid this second tempest of
men it was impossible to see or distinguish anything; only, when it was
past, three or four dead bodies more lay stretched on the ground."
The boy who saw these scenes, to record them in his Memoirs many years
later, was living with his mother at Villers-Cotterets, on the Soissons
road in the Aisne, where fierce fighting between our little army and our
allies the French on the one hand, and the Germans on the other, is
taking place as these lines are being written. The time was 1814.
Napoleon had retreated from Moscow and had lost the battle of Leipzig,
and the Russians, Prussians, and Austrians in alliance were gradually
closing in on France. All confidence in Napoleon's star had disappeared.
Every hour was bringing the roar of cannon nearer to Paris: in a few
days the Allies were to enter it and Napoleon to sign the decree of
abdication and leave for Elba.
The name of the boy was Alexandre Dumas. His mother had filled her
cellar with furniture, bedding, and household goods, and had then had a
new plank floor made for the room above, so that treasure seekers might
look in vain, and had buried her little store of money in a box in the
middle of the garden. She was as much in terror of Napoleon as she was
of the Prussian and Russian troops. If her own countrymen, the French,
were beaten, she and her son might be killed, but if Napoleon was
victorious he would want her son as a soldier. Now Alexandre was twelve
and conscription began at sixteen.
The boy's father, General Alexandre Dumas, was dead, and as on account
of his republican principles the First Consul had disgraced, exiled, and
ruined him, so by the Emperor the widow and her son were disowned,
forgotten and left to starve. In spite of this Madame Dumas's neighbours
called her a Bonapartist, her husband having fought under Bonaparte, and
the term Bonapartist was one which was presently to amount to an
accusation as Louis XVIII neared the throne.
The enemy seen by the boy fighting in the street were
Prussians--Prussians long expected by his mother, who had made three
successive enormous dishes of haricot mutton for their pacification.
Although young Alexandre had partaken of the mutton and thought very
little of the threatened danger before it occurred, he never forgot the
sudden Prussian inroad and the dead men left outside this door. And he
often said that the Valley of the Aisne might see the Prussians again.
In 1848, when a candidate for the Chamber of Deputies, Dumas lost many
votes by making a speech in the course of which, when passing the state
of Europe in review, he said. "Geographically, Prussia has the shape of
a serpent, and like a serpent it seems always to sleep and prepare to
swallow everything around it--Denmark, Holland, and Belgium; and when it
has engulfed them all you will see that Austria will pass in its turn
and perhaps, alas! France also."
In June 1866 Prussia's rapid campaign against Austria startled Europe.
Every thoughtful man was calculating the consequences of the
preponderance of Prussia in Germany, and Dumas was one of those
Frenchmen who were seized with sad presentiments of the future for their
own country. Particularly does he appear to have been struck with the
barbarous conduct of the Prussians in the free city of Frankfort
which the newspapers were daily reporting. Unable to remain at home
while such events were occurring, he travelled to Frankfort and observed
them for himself. Then he went to Gotha, Hanover, and Berlin; he visited
the battlefields of Langensalza and Sadowa and returned to Paris with
his notebooks crammed with precious details, his pockets bulging with
Then M. Hollander, the owner of the political journal "The Situation,"
came running to the author of "The Three Musketeers," "Queen Margot,"
and of so many other famous historical romances to ask for one to be
called "The Prussian Terror." Dumas, who like M. Hollander was anxious
to do all he could to arouse France, fast crumbling under the Second
Empire, to a sense of her danger from Prussia, gladly complied. Such is
the genesis of this book in which on every page the author seems to
say--"Awake! the danger is at hand."
To render it more easily intelligible to readers of the present day who
appear to us to know very little of the Austro-Prussian War of 1866, let
us glance at the important events which the newspaper proprietor and the
historical romancer had in mind.
The death of the King of Denmark occurred in 1863 and North Germany
buzzed like a swarm of angry bees over the Duchies of Schleswig,
Holstein, and Luxemburg. By the treaty of London (1852), which fixed the
succession to the Danish Crown, Austria and Prussia, although
signatories to it, denied the right of the new king to those duchies and
claimed them as part of Germany. In February 1864 Austrian and Prussian
troops crossed the Danish border. The Danes fought well, but were forced
to submit and eventually the duchies were made over to their enemies.
Then Prussia, which had long looked with jealousy on the power of
Austria and considered a war with her inevitable sooner or later,
opposed her desire to form the duchies into a separate state under the
Duke of Augustenburg. Austria referred the matter to the Frankfort Diet,
which decided in favour of the duke, but Bismarck, as Prussia's Prime
Minister, to secure the complete control of North Germany, required
that, not only the duchies but the whole of Hanover, Hesse Cassel, Hesse
Nassau, and the city of Frankfort should be absorbed in Prussia. Both
Prussia and Austria prepared for war, Prussia entering into an alliance
with Victor Emanuel. On June 7th Prussian troops entered Holstein.
On June 14th, in regard to the decisive question whether the federal
army should be mobilized, Hanover voted in the Diet with Austria, and by
so doing irrevocably declared on which side she would range herself in
the approaching struggle. Prussia at once issued an ultimatum to
Hanover, requesting her to maintain neutrality and to accept her scheme
for the reformation of the Confederation. Hanover immediately rejected
these demands and Prussian troops at once crossed the frontier. The
resulting battles are known as those of Langensalza and Aschaffenburg.
The Austrians were disastrously defeated in the terrific battle of
Sadowa or Königsrätz, and Bismarck was thus nearer to the formation of
German Unity under Prussia.
After Sadowa, the first act of the Prussians was to enter the "free"
city of Frankfort, which did not attempt any defence, relying as it did
on its treaties, and terrorise its inhabitants. It was these "acts of
terror," then, of which M. Hollander and Dumas were particularly
thinking, hoping that the recital of them in a popular romance would do
something to awaken France.
It has been repeatedly stated that before the Franco-German War of 1870
the German soldiers were guiltless of acts of atrocity. This story
proves the contrary, and it is not a little curious that no work in the
English language, save books of reference, covering the ground traversed
by "The Prussian Terror," appears to be now accessible. For this reason
alone Dumas's book, which, though in story form, is an authoritative
contribution to history, deserves attention at the present time. Apart
from this, it is so spirited and interesting that it is quite surprising
that at so late a date--forty-seven years after its original issue--I
should be the first to offer a version to the British public.
Dumas was still living in Paris when, in the summer of 1869, war was
declared with Germany. His health was now bad, and his son, the author
of "La Dame aux Camélias," did not wish him to remain during the siege.
In the autumn he took his father with him to Puys near Dieppe, where he
had a villa. There Dumas died on December 5th, 1870.
He did not know it--news being kept from him--but during his last days
his worst prognostications had been verified. A detachment of the
Prussian army was actually taking possession of Dieppe as he breathed
his last. While the soldiers marched along the streets, their bands
playing German airs and the inhabitants hid in their houses behind
shuttered windows, the news flew round the town that the country had
lost Alexandre Dumas, the most typically French writer who has ever
existed. The coffin was borne to the grave at Neuville, where the
German soldiers were in occupation, before a Prussian patrol. In 1872
the body was exhumed, and buried in the family tomb at Villers-Cotterets.
Hard by, where as a boy of twelve Dumas heard the Prussian cannon, three
nations are now fighting.
 Dumas knew Frankfort well, having lived there for some time in 1838
with Gérard de Nerval, the author of "Les Filles de Feu."
 These facts are taken from the "Encyclopædia Britannica."
 It should be stated that M. Hollander, who wished the brilliant name
of Dumas to shine on as many issues of his newspaper as possible,
stipulated for not less than sixty _feuilletons_. Dumas complied, but
was forced to include some hunting stories which he puts into the mouth
of his hero, Benedict Turpin. These stories will not be found in the
THE PRUSSIAN TERROR
The architect of Berlin appears to have carefully designed his plan
according to line and rule in order to produce a capital of dullness as
far removed from the picturesque as his ingenuity could accomplish. Seen
from the cathedral, which is the loftiest point attainable, the place
suggests an enormous chess-board on which the Royal Palace, the Museum,
Cathedral, and other important buildings fairly represent kings, queens,
and castles. And, much as Paris is intersected by the Seine, so is
Berlin divided by the Spree, except that instead of surrounding one
island, as does the former river, two artificial canals branch out right
and left like the handles of a vase, and form two islands of unequal
size in the centre of the town. Berlin being the capital of Privilege,
one of these islands is distinguished by possessing the Royal Palace,
the Cathedral, the Museum, the Bourse, most other public buildings, and
a score of houses which in Turin, the Berlin of Italy, would certainly
be called palaces; the other contains nothing remarkable, corresponding
to the Parisian Rue Saint-Jacques and the quarter Saint-André-des-Arts.
The aristocratic, the smart Berlin lies to the right and left of the
Friedrich Strasse, which extends from the Place de La Belle Alliance by
which one enters Berlin to that of Oranienburg by which one leaves it,
and which is crossed nearly in the middle by the Unter den Linden. This
famous promenade traverses the fashionable quarter and extends from the
Royal Palace to the Place d'Armes. It owes its name to two rows of
magnificent lime trees which form a charming promenade on each side of
the broad carriage-way. Both sides abound in cafés and restaurants,
whose crowds of customers, overflowing in summer on to the public road,
cause a considerable amount of lively motion. This, however, never rises
into noisy horse-play or clamour, for the Prussian prefers to amuse
himself _sub rosa_, and keeps his gaiety within doors.
But on June 7th, 1866, as beautiful a day as Prussia can produce, Unter
den Linden, at about six in the evening, presented a scene of most
unusual commotion. The excitement was caused in the first place by the
increasingly hostile attitude assumed by Prussia towards Austria, in
refusing to allow the States of Holstein to proceed to the election of
the Duke of Augustenburg, also by the general arming on all sides, by
reports concerning the immediate calling up of the Landwehr and the
dissolution of the Chamber, and finally by rumours of telegrams from
France containing threats against Prussia, said to have been made by
Louis Napoleon himself.
It is necessary to travel in Prussia before one can in the least
comprehend the sort of hatred therein cherished against the French. It
is a species of monomania which distorts even the very clearest vision.
No minister can be popular, no orator will gain a hearing unless the one
lets it be supposed his policy is for war, and the other can produce
some brilliant epigram or clever _sous-entendu_ levelled against France.
Nor will the title of poet be allowed, unless the claimant can qualify
by being the author of some popular rhyme, entitled "The Rhine,"
"Leipzig," or "Waterloo."
Whence comes this hatred for France--a deep, inveterate, indestructible
hatred which seems to pervade the very earth and air? It is impossible
to say. Can it date from the time when a legion from Gaul, the advanced
guard of the Roman army, first entered Germany? Abandoning this idea we
come down to the battle of Rosbach as a possible cause, in which case
the German national character must be an uncommonly bad one, seeing they
beat us there. Still later, it might possibly be explained by the
military inferiority shown by the pupils of Frederic the Great ever
since the Duke of Brunswick's famous manifesto threatening that not one
stone of Paris should be left on another! One battle, that of Valmy,
expelled the Prussians from France in 1792; and another, that of Jena,
opened the gates of Berlin to us in 1806. Still, to these dates, our
enemies--no, our rivals--can oppose the names of Leipzig and of
Waterloo. Of Leipzig, however, they cannot claim more than a quarter,
seeing their army was combined with those of Russia, Austria, and
Sweden, to say nothing of that of Saxony, which also deserves to be
remembered. Nor is more than one-half of Waterloo to their credit, for
Napoleon, who till then had the advantage, was already exhausted by a
six hours' struggle with the English when they arrived.
Consequently, remembering this heritage of hate, which, indeed, they
have always shown quite openly--one could not be surprised at the
popular emotion caused by a rumour, non-official but widely spread, that
France would throw down the gauntlet and join in the impending conflict.
Many, however, doubted the news, as not a word of it had appeared in the
"Staat's Anzeiger" that morning. Berlin, like Paris, has its faithful
adherents to the Government and the "Moniteur," who believe that the
latter cannot lie, and that a paternal Government would never, never
keep back news interesting to its affectionate subjects. These were
joined by the readers of the "Tages Telegraphe" ("Daily Telegraphic
News"), certain that their special organ would have known whatever was
to be known, and also by those of the ministerial and aristocratic
"Kreuz Zeitung," who equally declined to believe anything not contained
in its usually well-informed columns. And besides these one heard the
names of a dozen other daily or weekly issues bandied from side to side
in the excited crowd, until suddenly a harsh cry of "French news! French
news! Telegraphic News" "One kreutzer," succeeded in dominating the din.
The effect produced on the crowd may be imagined. Despite the proverbial
Prussian economy, every hand sought its pocket and drawing forth a
kreutzer, proceeded to exchange it for the square bit of paper
containing the long-desired news. And indeed the importance of the
contents made amends for the delay in obtaining it. The dispatch ran as
"June 6th, 1866. His Majesty the Emperor Napoleon III, having gone to
Auxerre, in order to be present at the provincial assembly, was met at
the gates of the town by the mayor, who presented an address, offering
the respectful homage of himself and the inhabitants. His Majesty
replied in the following terms, which do not require to be explained to
our countrymen. Their meaning must be sufficiently clear to all.
"I see with much pleasure that Auxerre still remembers the First Empire.
Let me assure you that I, on my side, have inherited the feelings of
affection entertained by the Chief of our family for the patriotic and
energetic communities which supported him alike through good and evil.
And I myself owe a debt of gratitude to the department of the Yonne as
being one of the first to declare for me in 1848. It knew, as indeed the
greater part of the nation knew, that its interests and mine were
identical and that we both equally detested those treaties of 1815,
which are used to-day as a means of controlling our external policy."
Here the dispatch broke off, the sender evidently not considering the
remainder of the emperor's discourse worth transcribing. Certainly his
meaning was sufficiently clear without it. Nevertheless some minutes
elapsed before the sense of the communication was understood by the
readers, and evoked the display of hatred which naturally followed.
When at last they began to comprehend and to see the hand of the nephew
of Napoleon the Great overshadowing their beloved Rhine, there arose
from one end of Unter den Linden to the other such a tempest of threats,
howls, and hurrahs, that, to borrow Schiller's lively expression, one
would have thought the encircling hoops of the heavenly concave must all
be burst asunder. Threatening toasts were called, curses shouted, and
fists shaken against offending France. A Göttingen student springing on
a table began to recite with due emphasis Rückert's ferocious poem
entitled "The Return," in which a Prussian soldier, having returned home
in consequence of peace being declared, bitterly regrets the various
outrages he is in consequence debarred from committing. Needless to say,
this recital was enthusiastically applauded. Shouts of "Bravo!" and
"Hurrah!" mixed with cries of "Long live King William!" "Hurrah for
Prussia!" "Down with France!" formed an accompaniment which would
doubtless have been continued to the next piece, the reciter proposing
to give a lyric by Theodor Körner. The announcement was received with
It was, however, by no means the only safety valve at which the passion
of the surging crowd, now at white heat, sought and found a vent. A
little lower down, at the corner of the Friedrich Strasse, a well-known
singer happened to be returning from rehearsal, and as he chanced on one
occasion to have made a hit by singing "The German Rhine" some one who
remembered this raised a cry of "The German Rhine! the German Rhine!
Heinrich! sing 'The German Rhine!'" The crowd instantly recognized and
surrounded the artist, who, owning a fine voice, and being familiar with
the piece demanded, did not wait to be asked twice, but gratified his
audience by singing his very best, thereby far surpassing the Return in
the tremendous reception he obtained.
But all at once a loud and furious hiss which might have issued from the
throttle of a steam engine was heard above all the wild applause, and
produced the effect of a blow in the face bestowed on the singer. A bomb
suddenly exploding in the crowd could hardly have been more effective;
the hiss was answered by a dull roar something like that which precedes
a hurricane and every eye was turned towards the quarter whence it
Standing by a solitary table was a handsome young man, apparently about
five-and-twenty, fair-haired, fair-skinned, rather slightly built, and
in face, moustache and costume somewhat resembling the portrait of
Vandyke. He had just opened a bottle of champagne and held a foaming
glass aloft. Undisturbed by angry looks and threatening gestures he drew
himself up, placed one foot on his chair, and raising his glass above
his head cried loudly, "Vive la France!" then swallowed the contents at
THE HOUSE OF HOHENZOLLERN
The immense crowd surrounding the young Frenchman remained for a moment
dumb with stupefaction. Many, not understanding French, failed to
comprehend his meaning, and others who did understand, appreciating his
courage in thug braving a furious crowd, surveyed him with more
astonishment than anger. Others again, who realized that a dire insult
had been offered them, would nevertheless with typical German
deliberation have allowed him time to escape had he wished. But the
young man's demeanour showed that, whatever the consequences of his
bravado, he intended to face them. Presently a threatening murmur of
"Franzose, Franzose," arose from the crowd.
"Yes," said he, in as good German as might be heard anywhere between
Thionville and Memel. "Yes, I am French. My name is Benedict Turpin. I
have studied at Heidelberg and might pass for a German since I can speak
your language as well as most of those here, and better than some. Also
I can use a rapier, pistol, sword, sabre, single-stick, boxing gloves,
or any other weapon you like to choose. Any one wishing for satisfaction
may find me at the Black Eagle."
The young man had hardly finished his audacious defiance when four men
of the lower class advanced upon him. The crowd kept silence, and the
contemptuous words, "What! four to one? Leipzig again! Come on! I am
ready!" were distinctly heard. Then, not waiting to be attacked, the
young Frenchman sprang at the nearest and broke the bottle of champagne
over his head, blinding him with foam. The second he tripped up,
throwing him a good ten paces off, and disposed of the third with a
vigorous blow in the ribs which hurled him against a chair. Then,
seizing the fourth by the collar and grasping his waist he actually held
him aloft in the air for a moment, then flinging him on the ground he
placed a foot on his chest.
"Is not Leipzig avenged?" said he.
Then at last the tempest burst. A rush was made for the Frenchman, but
he, still keeping a foot on his fallen enemy, seized a chair and whirled
it round him so vigorously that for a moment the crowd was held at bay
and only ventured on threats. But the circle drew closer, some one
grasped the chair and succeeded in stopping it. A few moments more and
the audacious Frenchman would probably have been torn to pieces had not
two or three Prussian officers intervened. They forced their way through
the crowd and formed a guard around the young man, one of them addressed
the crowd thus:
"Come, come, my friends, don't murder a brave young man because he does
not forget he is a Frenchman and has cried 'Vive la France!' He will now
cry 'Vive Guillaume IV!' and we will let him off." Then, whispering to
Benedict, "Cry 'Vive Guillaume IV!' or I can't answer for your life."
"Yes!" bawled the crowd, "let him cry 'Vive Guillaume IV!--Vive la
Prusse!' and we will let him go."
"Very well," said Benedict, "but I prefer to do so freely, and without
compulsion. Leave me alone and let me speak from a table."
"Stand aside and let him pass," said the officers, releasing Benedict
and leaving him free. "He wishes to address you."
"Let him speak! let him speak!" cried the crowd.
"Gentlemen!" said Benedict, mounting the table nearest to the open
windows of the café, "oblige me by listening. I cannot cry 'Vive la
Prusse,' because at this very moment my country may be at war with
yours, in which case a Frenchman would disgrace himself if he cried
anything except 'Vive la France.' Nor can I very well cry 'Vive le roi
Guillaume,' because, not being my king, it does not matter to me whether
he lives or dies. But I will recite some charming verses in answer to
your 'German Rhine!'"
The audience heard him impatiently, not knowing what he meant to recite.
They had another disappointment in discovering that the lines in
question were not German but French. However, they listened with all the
more attention. In enumerating his accomplishments Benedict had omitted
those of amateur actor and elocutionist. The lines were those written by
de Musset in response to the "German Rhine," and they lost nothing in
his impassioned delivery. Those among his hearers able to follow the
reciter soon perceived that they had been tricked into listening to
truths they had no desire to hear. Once this was understood, the storm,
momentarily lulled, burst forth with redoubled violence.
Knowing that there would be no further chance of protection, Benedict
was carefully considering the distance between his table and the nearest
window, when suddenly the attention of the crowd was diverted by the
report of several pistol-shots rapidly fired in the immediate vicinity.
Turning towards the sound they perceived a well-dressed young civilian,
struggling desperately with a much older man in colonel's uniform. The
young man fired again, with the only result of further exasperating his
adversary, who seized him with a grasp of iron, and, disdaining to call
for help, shook him as a terrier shakes a rat. Then, throwing him down,
he knelt upon the would-be murderer's chest, tore the now useless
revolver from his hand, and placed the barrel against his forehead.
"Yes, fire, fire!" gasped the young man. But the colonel, in whom the
bystanders now recognized the powerful minister, Count von Bismarck,
changed his mind. He pocketed the revolver, and beckoning to two
officers, "Gentlemen," said he, "this young man is probably mad, or at
any rate he is a clumsy fool. He attacked me without the slightest
provocation and has fired five times without hitting me. You had better
consign him to the nearest prison whilst I acquaint the king with what
has happened. I think I need hardly mention my name--Count von
Then, wrapping his handkerchief round his hand which had been slightly
scratched in the conflict, the count retraced his steps towards the
royal palace hardly a hundred yards distant, while the two officers
handed the assassin over to the police. One of them accompanied him to
the prison, where he was at once incarcerated. The crowd having now time
to remember Benedict Turpin found that he had vanished. However, this
did not trouble them much, for the excitement of the more recent event
had changed the course of their ideas. Let us profit by the interval and
glance at the characters who are destined to appear in our recital. But,
first let us examine the stage on which they will play their several
Least German of all Germanic states, Prussia is inhabited by a mixture
of races. Besides Germans proper, numbers of Slavonians are found there.
There are also descendants of the Wends, Letts, Lithuanians, Poles, and
other early tribes, and a mixture of Frankish refugees. The prosperity,
though not perhaps the grandeur of the House of Hohenzollern, began with
Duke Frederic, the greatest usurer of his day. It is as impossible to
calculate the enormous sums wrung from the Jews as to narrate the means
by which they were extorted. At first a vassal of the Emperor
Wenceslaus, when that monarch's impending fall became evident Frederic
deserted his camp for that of his rival Otho, and when Otho's crown
began to totter, he passed over to Sigismund, brother of Wenceslaus.
In 1400 A.D., the same year in which Charles VI ennobled the goldsmith
Raoul, as a reward for financial help, Sigismund, equally embarrassed,
borrowed 100,000 florins from Frederic, giving him the Margravate of
Brandenburg as security. Fifteen years later, Sigismund having had to
provide for the extravagance of the Council of Constance, found himself
in debt to Frederic for 400,000 florins. Utterly unable to pay, he sold,
or granted in compensation, both the Marches of Brandenburg and the
dignity of Elector. In 1701 the electorate rose into a kingdom and the
Duke Frederic III became the King Frederic I of Prussia.
The Hohenzollerns display the faults and the characteristics of their
race. Their exchequer is admirably managed, but the moral balance-sheet
of their administration can rarely be compared with the financial one.
They have advanced on the lines of Duke Frederic, with more or less
hypocrisy, but with ever-increasing rapacity. Thus in 1525, Albert of
Hohenzollern, Grand Master of the Teutonic knights, then lords of
Prussia, forsook his faith and became a Lutheran, receiving in return
the rank of Hereditary Duke of Prussia, under the over-lordship of
Poland. And in 1613, the Elector John Sigismund, wishing to obtain the
duchy of Cleves, followed Albert's example and became a Calvinist.
The policy of the Great Elector has been summed up by Leibnitz in a
single phrase: "I side with him who pays best." To him is due the
formation of the European permanent standing army, and it was his second
wife, the famous Dorothea, who started shops and taverns in Berlin for
the disposal of her beer and dairy produce. The military genius of the
Great Frederic is beyond dispute, but it was he who, in order to curry
favour with the Russian Court, offered to "supply" the Grand Dukes with
German princesses "at the lowest reasonable rate!" One lady thus
"supplied" a princess of Anhalt, is known as "Catherine the Great." We
may remark incidentally that he also is chiefly responsible for the
partition of Poland, a crime which has weighted the Prussian crown with
the malediction of nations, and which he celebrated by this scandalously
impious summons to his brother Henry, "Come, let us receive the
Eucharist of the body of Poland!" To Frederic also, we owe the
economical maxim, "He dines best who eats at another's table!"
Frederic died childless, a fact for which, oddly enough, historians have
seen fit to blame him. His nephew and successor, William II, invaded
France in 1792. His entry, preceded by the famous manifesto of the Duke
of Brunswick, was ostentatious to a degree, but his departure,
accompanied by Danton and Dumouriez, was accomplished without sound of
trumpet or drum.
He was succeeded by the "Man of Jena," Frederic William III. Among the
numerous stupid, and servile letters received by the Emperor Napoleon in
the days of his prosperity, must be counted those of William III.
Frederic William IV--we are rapidly approaching our own times--came to
the throne in June 1840. According to the Hohenzollern custom his first
ministry was a liberal one and on his accession he remarked to Alexander
"As a noble I am the first gentleman in the kingdom; as a king I am only
the first citizen."
Charles X had said much the same on succeeding to the crown of France,
or, rather, M. de Martignac had said it for him.
The first proof the king gave of his liberalism was an attempt to drill
properly the intellectual forces of the kingdom, which duty he entrusted
to the Minister Eichhorn. The name--it means "squirrel"--was quite
prophetic. At the end of ten years the project had not advanced a step,
although the minister himself had done wonders of perpetual revolution.
On the other hand reaction had progressed. The press was persecuted,
promotion and rewards were obtained only by hypocrites and informers.
High office could only be acquired by becoming a servile instrument of
the pietistic party, which was headed by the king.
Frederic William and King Louis of Bavaria were the two most literary of
contemporary sovereigns. But Louis encouraged Art under whatever form it
appeared, whereas Frederic William wished it to be drilled into a sort
of auxiliary to despotism. Feeling himself constrained, like our great
satirist Boileau, to give an example of good manners to both court and
city, he began a correspondence with Louis, in the course of which he
sent the latter a quatrain commenting on the scandal caused by his
intimacy with Lola Montes. The King of Bavaria replied in another which
made the round of all the courts of Europe.
"Contempteur de l'amour, dont adore l'ivresse,
Frère, tu dis que, roi sans pudeur, sans vertu,
Je garde à tort Lola, ma fille enchanteresse.
Je te l'enverrai bien.--Oui; mais qu'en ferais-tu?"
And, by general consent of the wits, the laugh remained on the side of
the versatile King Louis.
After six years of domiciliary visits, suppressions, and summary
expulsions of offending journalists, the Prussian Diet at length
assembled at Berlin. In his opening speech the king addressed the
"Recollect, gentlemen, that you are here to represent the interests of
the people, but _not_ their _sentiments_."
A little later in the year, Frederic William inaugurated his Divine
Right by observing as he tore up the Constitution:
"I shall not allow a scrap of paper to stand between my people and their
God!" meaning, though he did not dare to say it, "between my people and
Then the revolution of 1848 burst forth, and did not spare Berlin, which
was soon in full revolt. The king lost his head completely. In leaving
the town he had to drive past the dead bodies of rioters killed in the
struggle. There was a shout of "Hats off!" and the king was obliged to
remain uncovered while the people sang the famous hymn composed by the
"Jesus, my Redeemer lives."
Every one knows how Absolutism succeeded in dominating the National
Assembly, and how presently reaction brought the following leaders into
Manteuffel, whose policy led to the unfortunate Austrian triumph at
Westphalen, who revived provincial councils, and brought the king to the
famous Warsaw interview.
Statel, a converted Jew and Protestant Jesuit, a Grand Inquisitor who
had missed his vocation.
And, lastly, the two Gerlachs, intriguers of the first water, whose
history belongs to that of the two spies, Ladunberg and Techen.
Although the Constitution, establishing two Chambers, was sworn to by
William IV, February 6th, 1850, it was not until his successor, William
Louis, was on the throne that both Upper and Lower Chambers began to
A league was now formed by the bureaucracy, the orthodox clergy, the
provincial squirearchy, and some of the proletariat. This was the origin
of the famous association inappropriately designated the _Patriotic_
Association, which had for its aim the annihilation of the Constitution.
There now appeared as First President of the Association at Königsberg,
the Count von Bismarck, who has played so great a part in Prussian
history. We cannot do less for him than we have done for the
Hohenzollerns, that is to say, we must devote an entire chapter to him
and to the Prussia of to-day. For is not the Count von Bismarck a much
greater monarch than the King of Prussia himself?
COUNT VON BISMARCK
Many have sought, and some profess to have found, the reasons the
remarkable royal favour enjoyed by Count Bismarck, but the chief, and to
our thinking the only one, is the extraordinary genius which even his
enemies dare not dispute, notwithstanding the fact that genius is
usually anything but a passport to the favour of kings.
We will relate one or two little anecdotes concerning the Prime
Minister, beginning with one which does not refer to him personally, but
may serve as a sort of preface to another. Every one knows the absurd
point to which military etiquette is carried in Prussia.
A Pomeranian general--Pomerania may be called the Prussian
Bœotia--being in garrison at Darmstadt and being bored even to the
fullest possibility of Darmstadt boredom, was standing at his window,
wishing for a conflagration, a revolution, an earthquake--anything--when
he beheld an officer in the distance--an officer minus his sword! An
awful breach of discipline! "Ah!" thought the delighted general, "here
is a lieutenant to make a scapegoat of. Ten minutes' lecture and a
fortnight's arrest! What luck!"
The unsuspecting officer drew nearer, and when within hail: "Lieutenant
Rupert," shouted the general. The officer looked up, saw the general,
and immediately remembering his missing sword, understood his terrible
position. The general had seen him; he could not go back, and he felt he
must brave the storm. The general beamed and rubbed his hands cheerfully
at the prospect of some amusement at last. The lieutenant plucked up
courage, entered the house, and arriving at the ante-room, beheld a
regulation sword hanging on the wall. "What a mercy!" he murmured,
unhooking the sword and quickly buckling it on. Then looking as innocent
as possible, he entered the room, and standing at attention by the door,
"The general did me the honour to call," he said.
"Yes," said the general with severity, "I have to enquire--" he stopped
suddenly, observing that the culprit's sword was at his side. His
expression changed, and he said smiling:
"Yes, I wanted to ask, I wanted to ask--What on earth was it? Ah, yes. I
wanted to ask after your family, Lieutenant Rupert. I particularly
wished to enquire after your father."
"If my father could hear of your kind feeling towards him, general, he
would be greatly gratified. Unhappily, he died twenty years ago."
The general looked considerably taken aback.
The young officer continued: "Have you any further commands, sir?"
"Why, no," said the general. "Only this. Never be seen without your
sword. Had you been without it to-day, I should have given you a
"I will take the greatest care, sir! You see?" answered the lieutenant,
boldly indicating the sword which hung at his side.
"Yes, yes, I see. It is all right. You can go now."
The young man lost no time in profiting by the permission; he saluted,
left the room, and carefully hung up the sword as he went through the
ante-room. As he left the house the general, being again at the window,
again saw that he had no sword. He summoned his wife:
"Look here," he said, "do you see that officer?"
"Certainly I do," she replied.
"Has he a sword or not?"
"He has not."
"Well then, you are mistaken; he looks as if he hadn't one, but he has."
The lady made no remark, being accustomed to accept whatever her husband
said. The young officer escaped with the fright, and took good care not
to forget his sword a second time.
Well, a similar misfortune--more, a real humiliation of this kind very
nearly happened to the King of Prussia, when he was only the Prince
Royal. Von Bismarck was then merely an attaché at the Frankfort Legation
without any handle to his name. When the prince stopped at Frankfort on
his way to a review at Mayence von Bismarck had the honour of being told
off to accompany him.
It was a hot day in August and the railway carriages were stifling.
Etiquette notwithstanding, ever; one from the prince downward,
unbuttoned his coat. On arriving at Mayence, where the troops were drawn
up at the station to receive him, the prince refastened his coat but
left one button undone. He was just leaving the carriage, when, luckily,
von Bismarck noticed the oversight.
"Good heavens, prince!" he exclaimed, "what are you about?"
And, for once forgetting etiquette, which forbids the royal person to be
contaminated by profane fingers, he sprang forward and fastened the
offending button. Hence, according to some, came the royal favour, for
the king, greatly embarrassed by the events of '58, reflected that the
man who had saved his credit at Mayence might also save his crown at
The count now became the leader of the "Junker" faction, voiced by the
"Kreuz Zeitung." He was, in fact, the fittest man for the position,
possessing oratorical eloquence, great mental and physical activity, and
a complete conviction that any sort of means is justified by the end.
And, the end accomplished, he flung from the height of his tribune this
epigram in the face of an astonished Chamber: "Might is Right!" in three
words summing up both his political creed and the direct consequences
The life-giving principles of humanity should be exemplified by three
Commercial activity by England.
Moral expansion by Germany.
Intellectual brilliance by France.
If we ask why Germany does not occupy the great position assigned to her
we find the answer in this: France has attained freedom of thought, but
Germany is allowed only the freedom of a dreamer. The sole atmosphere in
which she can breathe freely is that of the fortress or the prison. And
if we wonder why the rest of Germany is ruled by the rod of Prussia the
explanation may be found in this: German _manners_ do not exist, but
there is a national _genius_; a genius which desired no revolution, but
peace and liberty, and, above all--intellectual independence. This
desire was Prussia's greatest difficulty; she fought it, she weakened
it, and she hopes to conquer it entirely. She boasts of her compulsory
education; her children are indeed taught all they can be taught, but
once out of school they are never permitted to think for themselves.
The Junker faction is composed chiefly of younger sons who have to seek
either an official career or a military one. Failing this, they must
depend on the head of the family for a decent maintenance. With very few
exceptions there is no "old nobility" in Prussia, the aristocracy is not
distinguished by either wealth or intellect. A few names here and there
recall ancient Germanic history; others belong to Prussian military
annals. But the rest of the nobility can claim no distinction, and have
only owned their estates for a century or two.
Consequently, nearly all the liberal and progressive members of the
Chamber depend, either by position or office, on the Government, and not
one of them was strong enough to fight against a despotism which seizes
a child at the moment of his birth, guides him through adolescence, and
escorts him for the rest of his life. Therefore Count von Bismarck could
insult both Chamber and deputies with impunity, knowing that their
complaints would rouse no answering echo in the country, while at Court
they were considered as being next door to the servants. On one occasion
the President Grabow, being present at a state concert, was going to
occupy a chair in one of the less crowded rooms, when a footman stopped
him with "These chairs are meant for Excellencies, sir."
"Indeed, my friend," answered the President, "I am evidently out of
From the advent of Hohenzollern supremacy may be dated the decay of
moral independence, both in Prussia and the other Germanic states. Not
only have the Hohenzollerns failed to exercise any civilizing influence
by encouraging literature and purifying the language, but they have
changed Minerva into Pallas, and the beneficent deity of knowledge and
wisdom has become the Medusa-brandishing goddess of war.
IN WHICH BISMARCK EMERGES FROM AN IMPOSSIBLE POSITION
Now for three months past Bismarck had been in an impossible position,
and no one could predict how he would emerge from it. Notwithstanding
the important events which were being enacted from China to Mexico, it
was upon him that the eyes of Europe were fixed.
Old ministers, experienced in all the wiles of diplomacy, followed him
with their eyes, spyglass in hand, never doubting that the epoch-making
minister had an accomplice on the throne in a policy of which they
vainly sought for precedents in the world's history. If, however, there
should prove to be no accomplice, they pronounced that he must be a fool
without an equal.
Young diplomats, modestly aware that they did not quite rank with the
Talleyrands, the Metternichs, or Nesselrodes, studied him more
seriously, believing they desired the infancy of a new policy destined
to carry their epoch to its zenith, whispering the question which
Germany has asked for three hundred years: "_Ist es der Mann?_" (Can it
be the Man?) To make this question comprehensible we must tell our
readers that Germany awaits a liberator as the Jews awaited a Messiah.
Whenever her chains gall her, she exclaims: "_Wo bleibt der Mann?_"
(Where, then, is the Man?)
Now, some pretend that to-day in Germany a fourth party, which up to the
present has been crouching in the gloom, is preparing to emerge--a
horrible figure, if the poets of Germany are to be believed. Listen to
Heine on the subject:
"There is thunder truly in Germany, yea, even in Germany: it comes
slowly; it rolls up gradually from afar; but I doubt not it will come.
"And when you hear a crash, such a crash as the world has not heard in
all history, you will know that the German thunder has done its work. At
this uproar eagles will fall dead from the upper air; and lions in the
pathless deserts of Africa will crouch terrified in their lairs. In
Germany will be enacted a drama compared with which the French
Revolution will seem but an _innocent idyll_."
Had Heinrich Heine been the only prophet I should not repeat his
auguries, for Heine was a dreamer. But here is what Ludwig B---- says:
"In truth, Germany has accomplished nothing for three centuries, and has
patiently endured all the suffering inflicted upon her. But, even so,
her labours, sufferings, and joys have not subdued her virgin heart, nor
her chaste spirit. She contains the reserve forces of liberty and will
ensure its triumph.
"Her day will come; and to bring it about but little is necessary a
flash of good-humour, a smile, a summer shower, a thaw, a fool the more,
or a fool the less, a nothing; the bell of a mule is enough to bring
down an avalanche. Then France, which is not easily astonished, France
which accomplished in three days the work of three hundred years, and
has ceased to wonder at her own work, will survey the German nation with
astonishment which will not be merely surprise but admiration."
But whether it was the Man or was not the Man that the gallery watched
as he weighed Europe in the scales, putting everything into one, nothing
into the other, whether he belonged to the old or to the new diplomacy
mattered little. The only question was--will von Bismarck demand a
dissolution of the Chamber, or will the Chamber impeach the count?
The conquest of Schleswig-Holstein had carried him to the height of
fortune, but the new complications arising _à propos_ of the election of
the Duke of Augustenburg, made everything seem doubtful even to the
genius of von Bismarck. During a long interview with the king which took
place the very day on which this story begins, he fancied that his
influence was shaken, and he attributed the king's coldness to the
persistent ill will of the queen.
It is true that until now the count had worked only for his own personal
advancement, and, having kept entire silence as to his projects, was
reserving an explanation for a favourable moment, when by the grandeur
and clearness of his views he hoped to recover the goodwill of his
sovereign, by an audacious _coup d'état_ to build up a more solid and
unassailable position than ever.
He had, then, just left the king, intending to unmask his new plan as
soon as possible, counting on the telegraphic despatches to create an
effect favourable to himself, which, by making war inevitable, would
ensure his own safety.
He left the palace accordingly, immersed in these thoughts, and so
preoccupied that not only did he scarcely observe the excitement in the
crowded streets, but he did not notice a young man leaning against one
of the columns of the theatre, who left his place as he passed, and
followed him like his shadow in and out of the groups blocking the
street. Twice or thrice, however, as if warned of this close pursuit by
some magnetic current, the count turned his head, but seeing only a
well-dressed young man apparently belonging to his own class in life, he
paid no attention to him.
It was not until he had passed the Friedrich Strasse and was crossing
the road that he really noticed that the young man seemed determined to
follow him. He then decided as soon as he had reached the other side to
stop and ask what his pursuer meant by shadowing him.
But the shadower did not give him an opportunity. The count had hardly
proceeded three or four steps on his way when he heard a report, and
felt the wind of a ball which just missed his coat collar. He stopped
and turned sharply round, seeing in a flash the eddying smoke, the aimed
revolver, the assassin with his finger on the trigger preparing to fire
But, as we have said, the count was naturally brave: it did not occur to
him either to fly or to call for help. He threw himself upon his enemy,
who, without an instant's delay, fired the second and third shots, which
whistled harmlessly by. Whether the assassin's hand trembled under
stress of emotion, or whether, as some say, Providence (which
nevertheless permitted the assassinations of Henri IV and Gustavus
Adolphus) forbade the accomplishment of such a crime, the two balls
passed right and left of von Bismarck.
Then the murderer lost courage and turned to fly. But the count seized
him by the collar with one hand and with the other clutched the barrel
of the revolver. Once again a shot was fired; the count was slightly
wounded, but kept his hold and grasped his adversary closely, throwing
him on the ground, and finally handed him over to the Prussian officers.
Seizing the favourable occasion with the promptitude of genius, he
again took his way to the palace, bent on making this event the turning
point of the situation.
This time he passed through a double avenue of spectators, whereas
previously in the public commotion no one had noticed him. It was now
otherwise--the murderer's attempt, of which he had been the object and
from which he had emerged with so much courage, attracted every one's
attention, if not their sympathy, and whether loved or not loved, all
made room and saluted him. Sympathy might be wanting, but the count
could at all events read admiration upon every face.
Von Bismarck was at this time about fifty or fifty-two; tall, with a
well-proportioned figure, slightly puffy, and almost bald except at the
temples, with a thick moustache. One of his cheeks was furrowed by a
scar, the legacy of a duel fought at the University of Göttingen.
The palace guard had already heard the news and turned out to receive
the count, who, as colonel in the Army, was entitled to this mark of
respect. He graciously responded, and went up the staircase leading to
the king's audience chamber.
As prime minister, the count had the right of entry at any time. He was
about to turn the door handle when the usher in waiting stopped him,
"His Excellency will pardon me, but the king can see no one."
"Not even me?" asked the count.
"Not even your Excellency," replied the usher with a low bow.
The count stepped backward with a movement of the lips that might have
passed for a smile, but was certainly not one. Then he began to study,
but without seeing it, a large naval picture which decorated the
ante-room, standing out by reason of its immense gilt frame from the
official green paper which adorns all the royal apartments.
At the end of a quarter of an hour, the door opened, the count hearing
the _frou frou_ of a satin dress, turned and bowed low before a woman of
forty to forty-five years of age, who had evidently possessed great
beauty and was indeed still beautiful. Perhaps, if the "Almanach de
Gotha" were consulted, it would be found that the lady was rather older
than this, but as the proverb says: "A woman is as old as she looks,"
and I see no reason why queens should be excepted.
The lady was Queen Marie Louise Augusta Catherine, daughter of Charles
Frederic, Grand Duke of Saxe-Weimar, and known throughout Europe as the
Queen Augusta. She was of medium height--is best described by the
essentially French word _attrayant_. She wore on her left arm the
feminine Order of Queen Louise of Prussia. She passed the minister
slowly and somewhat haughtily, saluting him indeed, but without her
usual kindness. By the doors through which she passed the count
understood she had been with the king, and was now returning to her own
The queen had left the door belonging to the king's apartment open
behind her, and the usher now intimated that the minister might enter.
He waited, however, until the door had closed upon the queen.
"Yes," he said, "it is true that I was not born a baron, but let us see
what the future will do for me."
And then he passed forward. The various lackeys or chamberlains whom he
met hastened to open the doors leading to the audience-room. Reaching it
the chamberlain announced in a loud voice: "His Excellency Count von
The king started and turned round. He was standing before the
chimney-piece, and heard the name of von Bismarck with some surprise, it
being barely a quarter of an hour since the minister had left him. The
count wondered if the king had already heard what had happened to him in
He bowed low before His Majesty.
"Sire," he said, "an event of great importance has recalled me to Your
Majesty, but I see with regret that the moment is unfavourable--"
"Why?" enquired the king.
"Because I have just had the honour of meeting the queen in the
ante-room, and not having the happiness of being in Her Majesty's good
"Well, count, I admit that she does not see eye to eye with you."
"She is wrong, sire, for my devotion belongs equally to my king and to
my queen, and the one cannot become Emperor of Germany without the other
"A dream, my dear count, in which Queen Augusta unfortunately believes,
but which is not the dream of a reasonable being."
"Sire, the unity of Germany is as much decreed in the design of
Providence as the unity of Italy."
"Excellent," said the king, laughing; "can there be a united Italy while
the Italians possess neither Rome nor Venice?"
"Italy is in formation, sire. She began her march in '59 and will not
stop on the way. If she looks like stopping, she is only taking breath.
Indeed, have we not promised her Venice?"
"Yes, but it is not we who will give it her."
"France? who has already given her Lombardy, and has let her take the
duchies and Naples. France!" said the king. "France let her take all
that with quite the best will in the world."
"Is Your Majesty aware of the contents of the telegraphic despatches
which arrived when I was here and which were delivered as I left?"
"Yes, I know. The Emperor Napoleon's speech at Auxerre," answered the
king with some embarrassment. "You refer to that, do you not?"
"Well, sire, the emperor's speech means war--war not only against
Austria but against Germany. It means Venice for Italy and the Rhine
provinces for France."
"You really think so?"
"I mean that if we give France time to arm, the question without
becoming desperate becomes grave, but that if we fall promptly and
vigorously upon Austria, we shall be on the Moldau with three hundred
thousand men before France can reach the Rhine with fifty thousand."
"Count, you do not give the Austrians their proper value; the swagger of
our young men has gone to your head."
"Sire, if I appear to adopt the opinions of the heir-apparent and of
Prince Frederic Charles, I can only say that the prince having been born
on June 29th, 1801, is scarcely a young man; but the fact is, that in
these matters I rely on my own opinion only, and I say deliberately in a
war against Prussia, Austria will certainly be beaten."
"Really?" said the king doubtfully. "Yet I have heard you speak in high
terms of both their generals and their soldiers."
"Well then, it does not seem to me so remarkably easy to conquer good
soldiers commanded by good generals."
"They have good, soldiers, sire, they have good generals, but we shall
beat them because our own organization and arrangement are superior to
theirs. When I persuaded Your Majesty to undertake the war on Schleswig
which Your Majesty did not desire to do--"
"If I had not desired to make war on Schleswig it would never have been
"That is very true, sire, but Your Majesty hesitated; I had the courage
to insist, and Your Majesty approved of my reasons."
"Yes, and what is the result of the war on Schleswig? War throughout
"True, sire, in the first place I like a situation that calls for
resolute action; and as I consider war in Germany inevitable, I
"Will you explain whence comes your confidence?"
"Your Majesty forgets that I made the campaign with the Prussian army. I
did not do it for the mere pleasure of hearing cannon, of counting the
dead, and of sleeping on the battlefield, where I assure you one sleeps
very badly, or for the purpose of giving you what was nevertheless well
worth having, two posts on the Baltic, of which Prussia stood in great
need. No, I made the campaign with the object of trying the Austrians,
and I repeat that they are behind us in everything--discipline,
armaments, use of arms: they have bad rifles, bad artillery, and worse
powder. In a war against us Austria will be beaten from the very
commencement, for we have everything which she has not, and Austria once
vanquished, the supremacy in Germany must inevitably fall from her hands
into those of Prussia."
"And how is Prussia with a population of eighteen millions to maintain
her superiority over sixty? Only look at her pitiful appearance on the
"That is exactly the point. I have looked at her for three years, and
now is the time to mould her anew. Prussia is a great serpent whose head
is at Thionville, while her tail is at Memel, and which has a lump in
her stomach because she has swallowed half Saxony. She is a kingdom cut
in two by another--Hanover--in such a fashion that you cannot get home
without going abroad. You must understand, sire, Hanover is bound to
become part of Prussia."
"But what will England say to this?"
"England is no longer in the age of Pitt and Cobourg. England is the
very humble servant of the Manchester School, of Gladstone, Cobden, and
their scholars; England will do no more for Hanover than she did for
Denmark. Must we not take Saxony also?"
"France will never allow us to meddle with Saxony, if only in memory of
the king who was faithful to her in 1813."
"Not if we took too big a mouthful; but if we only nibble she will shut
both eyes, or at least one of them. And is not Hesse also very
"The Confederation will not abandon all Hesse."
"But if it will let us take half, that is all we want. Now let us
"Frankfort-on-the-Main! The free town! The seat of the Diet!"
"The moment Prussia can reckon thirty millions of men instead of
eighteen the Diet is dead. Prussia will then be the Diet. Only, instead
of crying a decree she will say 'decree.'"
"We shall have the whole of the Confederation against us. It will side
"So much the better!"
"Austria once beaten, the Confederation is beaten along with her."
"We shall have a million men against us."
"Let us count them."
"There are four hundred and fifty thousand in Austria--"
"And four hundred and fifty thousand in Venetia."
"The emperor is too obstinate to recall troops from Venice before two or
three battles if he is successful, before ten if he is beaten."
"Bavaria has one hundred and sixty thousand."
"I will answer for Bavaria--her king is too fond of music to love the
sound of cannon."
"Hanover, twenty-five thousand men."
"Only a mouthful to swallow on our first march."
"Saxony, fifteen thousand."
"And a hundred and fifty thousand belonging to the Confederation."
"The Confederation will have no time to arm them; only we must not lose
a moment, sire; therefore I now say 'War, Victory, the supremacy of
"Or my resignation, which I lay very humbly at Your Majesty's feet."
"What is that on your hand, count?"
"It looks like blood."
"Perhaps it is."
"Is it true, then, that some one attempted your life by firing at you
with a revolver?"
"Five times, sire."
"Five? Good gracious!"
"He thought it none too many for me."
"And you are unwounded?"
"Only a scratch on the little finger."
"And who was your assassin?"
"I do not know who he is."
"Did he refuse to give his name?"
"No, I forgot to ask him; besides, that is the Attorney-General's
affair, not mine. I do not interfere with other people's concerns. Now,
my own business is my King's business, and that is here."
"I am listening," said the king.
"To-morrow the chamber is dissolved; the following day we mobilize; in
eight days hostilities are declared, or else--"
"Or else what?"
"Or else, as I have the honour to repeat to Your Majesty, my
Then, without waiting for the king's answer the Count von Bismarck bowed
low, and according to etiquette retired backwards from the king's
presence. The king said nothing to detain his minister, but before
closing the door, that gentleman heard the bell rung loudly enough to
rouse the whole palace.
A SPORTSMAN AND A SPANIEL
On the day following the events just narrated, a young man about
twenty-five years of age arrived in Brunswick by the eleven o'clock
train from Berlin. Leaving his luggage, which was labelled "Hanover," in
the station, he took a small knapsack on which were strapped a
sketch-book and camp-stool, buckled on a cartridge belt, flung a baldric
supporting a double-barrelled gun over his shoulder, and completed his
toilet with a large grey felt hat. Altogether he appeared a sort of
cross between sportsman and tourist. Accompanied by a beautiful
jet-black spaniel he left the station and hailed an open carriage,
whereupon the dog instantly justified his name of "Frisk" by springing
joyously in, and installing himself on the front seat, while his master
reclined on the back after the manner of one accustomed to do things
comfortably. Courteously addressing the driver in excellent German:
"Coachman," said he, "kindly take me to the best hotel the town affords,
or at any rate, to the one which provides the best lunch!"
The coachman nodded as if to say he required no further instructions,
and the carriage rattled and bumped over the cobble stones to the Hôtel
d'Angleterre. The dog, who had hardly been able to retain his position,
instantly sprang out, and showing his relief by active gambols,
besought his master to follow. The latter alighted, but left his
knapsack and gun in the carriage. Turning to the driver:
"You may wait," he said, "and keep an eye on my things."
Hackney coachmen, all the world over, have a keen eye for good
customers. This honest fellow was no exception.
"Excellency may be quite satisfied," he answered with a wink. "I will
keep careful guard over them."
The traveller entered the inn, and passing straight through it arrived
at a pleasant court shaded by lime-trees. Here he selected a small table
with chairs for two, one of which was promptly occupied by Frisk; his
master took possession of the other and the two proceeded to lunch. This
occupied an hour, and no lady could have received more attention than
the young man bestowed on Frisk. The dog ate whatever his master ate,
only politely protesting when a hare, accompanied by currant jelly,
appeared on the scene, that as a sporting dog he ought not to touch
game, and personally had a serious objection to sweets. Meanwhile, the
driver remaining on his box refreshed himself with bread, cheese, and a
half bottle of wine. Consequently, when master and dog re-occupied the
carriage the trio presented an appearance of general satisfaction.
"Where to, Excellency?" enquired the driver, wiping his mouth on his
sleeve, with the air of a man ready to drive to the world's end if you
"I don't quite know," was the answer, "it depends a little on you."
"Well, if I find you a good fellow, I might wish to keep you on for some
"Oh, a year if you like!
"No, that is too long."
"Well, a month then."
"Neither a year nor a month, but a day or two."
"Oh, that's not enough. I really thought you meant to take me on lease."
"To begin with, what will you charge for going to Hanover?"
"It is six leagues, you know."
"Four and a half, you mean."
"But it is up and down hill the whole way."
"Nonsense! it is as flat as a billiard-table."
"One can't get round you," said the grinning driver.
"In one way you can."
"And which is that?"
"Simply by being honest."
"Ah, indeed! That is a new idea."
"It is one which has not before occurred to you, I think."
"Well, name your own price, then."
"But you are not counting the drive from the station and the time for
"You are right, I will allow for that."
"And the _pourboire_."
"That is as I may choose."
"Agreed. I don't know why, but I trust you."
"Only, if I keep you more than a week it will then be three and a half
florins per day, and no _pourboire_."
"I couldn't agree to that."
"Because I see no reason for depriving you of the pleasure of doing the
handsome thing when I have the misfortune of leaving you."
"The dickens! One would take you for a wit!"
"I've wit enough to look like a fool when I want to."
"Well done! Where do you come from?"
"And where may that be?"
"It is a suburb of Frankfort."
"Ah! yes, it is a Saxon colony from the days of Charlemagne."
"That is so. So you know that, do you?"
"I also know that you are a fine race, something like the Auvergnats of
France. We will settle up when we part."
"That's suits me down to the ground."
"What's your name?
"Very well, Lenhart, let us get on then."
The carriage started, scattering the usual crowd of idle spectators. A
few minutes brought it to the end of the street leading to the open
country. The day was magnificent. The trees had just burst into leaf,
and earth had assumed a mantle of green, the soft spring breeze seemed
laden with the perfume of flowers. Overhead the birds were already
seeking food for their little ones, and awakening Nature appeared to
listen to their songs. From time to time a lark arose from among the
corn, and ascending high in the air seemed as if floating above the
summit of a pyramid of song.
Beholding this magnificent country the traveller exclaimed: "But there
must be splendid shooting here, is there not?"
"Yes, but it is strictly preserved," replied the coachman.
"So much the better," said our friend, "there will be all the more
In fact, before they had gone quite a mile from the town, Frisk, who
had given various signs of impatience, sprang out of the carriage,
rushed into a field of clover, and pointed.
"Shall I go on or wait," enquired the driver, seeing the young man
loading his gun.
"Go on a yard, or two," was the answer. "There, that will do; now, draw
up as near to the field as you can."
The carriage, with the sportsman standing up in it, gun in hand, halted
within thirty yards of the dog. The driver looked on with all the
interest of his class, an interest which is always on the side of the
sportsman and hostile to the landlord and the gamekeeper. "That is a
clever dog," he remarked. "What is he pointing at?"
"It is a hare."
"How do you know?"
"Had it been a bird he would have wagged his tail. See."
A big leveret showed itself among the clover and fell a victim to the
gun. It was promptly brought in by Frisk. Further on a covey of
partridges was seen, but the dog was called off, and the young brood
left in peace. They were already approaching Hanover when a startled
hare was seen some sixty yards from the carriage.
"Ah!" said Lenhart, "this one wisely keeps his distance."
"It does not follow," replied the sportsman.
"You don't expect to hit at that distance, do you?"
"Have you still to learn, my friend, you who profess to be able to
shoot, that to a good shot and a good gun distance is of small
importance? Now, watch!"
Then, having altered the charges in his gun the young man enquired:
"Do you know all about the manners and customs of hares, Lenhart?"
"Why, yes, I think I know all any one can know who can't speak their
"Well, I can tell you this. A startled hare, if not pursued, will run
about fifty paces and will then sit down to have a look round and
perform his toilet. Look!"
And in fact, the hare, which had run towards the carriage, instead of
away from it, suddenly stopped, sat down, and began to wash its face
with its forepaws. This predicted toilet cost the poor animal its life.
A prompt shot and the hare bounded upwards and fell back dead.
"Beg pardon, Excellency," said Lenhart, "but if we are going to war as
it is said we are, on which side will you be?"
"As I am neither Austrian nor Prussian, but happen to be a Frenchman,
you will probably find me fighting for France."
"So long as you do not fight for these Prussian beggars I am quite
satisfied. If you will fight against them, however--_donnerwetter_--but
I have something to say."
"Well? at is it?"
"I offer you the free use of my carriage to fight from."
"Thanks! my friend, 'tis an offer not to be despised. I always thought
that if I had to fight, I should like to make the campaign in a
"Well, then, here is the very thing you want. I can't tell you how old
my horse is, he wasn't young when I bought him ten years ago, but I know
if I took him to a Thirty Years' War he would see me through it. As for
the carriage, you can see it is as good as new. Those shafts were put on
only three years ago, and last year it had new wheels and a new axle,
and it is only six months since I provided it with a new body."
"You remind me of an anecdote we have in France," replied the other. "It
is that of Simple Simon's knife, which had first a new blade and then a
new handle, but was still the same knife."
"Ah, sir," said Lenhart, with the air of a philosopher, "every country
has its Simple Simon's knife."
"And also its simpletons, my good friend."
"Well, if you put new barrels on your gun you might give me the old
ones. Here comes your dog with the hare," lifting it by the ears. "You
can join the other, you fool," he said. "See what comes of too much
vanity! Ah, sir! don't fight against the Prussians if you don't want to,
but, good heaven, don't fight for them!"
"Oh, as to that you may be quite easy. If I do fight, it will be against
them, and perhaps I shall not wait for war to be declared."
"Bravo! Down with the Prussians!" cried Lenhart, touching up his horse
with a sharp cut. The animal, as if to justify his praises, and excited
by his master's voice and cracking whip, broke into a gallop, bolted
through the suburban streets and only stopped at the Hôtel Royal.
Lenhart, in his double capacity of hackney coachman and purveyor of
travellers and tourists for the Hôtel Royal, Hanover, was well known to
Mr. Stephen, landlord thereof, who gave him a cordial reception. Anxious
to magnify the importance of his present consignment, Lenhart hastened
to inform him that the new arrival was a mortal enemy of the Prussians,
that he never missed a shot, and that if war were declared, he would
place himself and his deadly weapon at the disposal of the King of
Hanover. To all of which Stephen lent an attentive ear.
"But where does your traveller come from," he at length enquired.
"He says he's a Frenchman, but I don't believe it. I've never once heard
him boast about anything, besides, his German is too good. But there, he
is calling you."
Stephen quickly answered the summons. The stranger was talking to an
English officer of the Royal Household and his English appeared no less
fluent than his German. Turning to Stephen he said in the latter
"I have asked a question of Colonel Anderson, who has kindly given me
one-half of the answer, and tells me to apply to you for the rest. I
asked for the title of the principal newspaper here, and the name of
its editor. Colonel Anderson says the 'Hanoverian Gazette,' but does not
know the editor's name."
"Wait a moment, Excellency. Yes, yes, let me see. He is Herr Bodemeyer,
a tall, thin man with a beard, is he not?"
"Never mind his appearance. I want his name and address. I wish to send
him my card."
"I only know the office address, Park Strasse. Do you dine at the _table
d'hôte_? If so, Herr Bodemeyer is one of our regular guests. It is at
five o'clock, he will be here in half-an-hour."
"All the more reason why he should have my card first," and producing a
visiting-card bearing the legend "Benedict Turpin, Artist," he addressed
it to Herr Bodemeyer, and handed it and a florin to the hotel messenger,
who undertook to deliver it within ten minutes.
Stephen then ventured to suggest that if there were private matters to
discuss a private room might be desirable.
"A good idea," said Benedict, and going to Colonel Anderson, "Sir," said
he, "although we have never been formally introduced, I nevertheless
hope you will waive etiquette and do me the honour of dining with me and
Herr Bodemeyer, who I think will not refuse to join us. Our host
promises an excellent dinner and good wine. It is six months since I
left France, consequently six months since I had a chance of
conversation. In England they talk, in Germany they dream, it is in
France only that they converse. Let us have a nice little dinner at
which we can do all three. Here is my card, that of an insignificant
artist, devoid of armorial bearings or coronets, but with the simple
Cross of the Légion d'Honneur. I would add, colonel," he continued
seriously, "that in a day or two I may find myself obliged to ask a
favour of you, and I should like to prove myself not unworthy of the
consideration I hope you will show me."
The colonel accepted the card and bowed politely.
"Sir," said he with courteous English formality, "the hope you give me
of being able to render you some service would certainly induce me to
accept your hospitality. I have no reason whatever against dining with
Herr Bodemeyer, and I have a thousand for wishing to dine with you, not
the least being, if I may say so, that I find your person and manners
Benedict bowed in his turn.
"Since you have done me the honour to accept," he said, "and I feel
pretty sure of Herr Bodemeyer, it becomes my first duty to see that the
dinner is a decent one. If you will excuse me I should like to interview
the chef on the subject," and he departed kitchenwards while the colonel
sought the hotel reading-room.
Left in possession of a fair income at an age when the usual idea is
only how best to squander it, Benedict Turpin had shown practical sense
as well as genius. A believer in the excellent proverb which says that a
man doubles his opportunities in life when he learns a new language, he
had quadrupled his by spending a year in England, another in Germany, a
third in Spain, and a fourth in Italy. At eighteen he was a first-rate
linguist, and he spent the next two years in completing his education by
classical and scientific studies, not neglecting the use of weapons and
the general practice of games, calculated to further his physical
development. By the time he was twenty he had attained an all-round
proficiency very unusual in youths of his age and promised much in the
time to come.
He took part in the Chinese expedition, and being possessed of
sufficient means to indulge his taste for travelling, spent several
years in world-wide wandering, hunting wild beasts, traversing deserts,
picking up tapestries, jewels, curiosities, etc., wherewith on his
return he furnished one of the most artistic studios in Paris. At the
time our story opens he had, in the course of a round of visits to
celebrated German painters, arrived in Berlin, where he upheld the
honour of France, with the insolent good luck which seemed never to
desert him. When the attention of the mob was momentarily diverted by
the attack on the Prime Minister, Benedict succeeded in escaping
unnoticed, and took refuge at the French Embassy, where he was well
known. Early in the following morning he left by train and finally
arrived at Hanover without let or hindrance. He had just given his last
instructions to the cook when he was warned that Herr Bodemeyer was
already approaching the hotel.
Benedict hurried to the entrance, where he saw close at hand a gentleman
drawing near, who held a visiting card in his hand, and seemed pondering
much as to what the owner could possibly want with him.
It is said that the denizens of that ancient Gaul which gave Cæsar so
much trouble have so marked a personality that, wherever one is seen,
the passers-by immediately remark: "Look, that's a Frenchman!"
Herr Bodemeyer, at any rate, seemed to recognize Benedict's nationality
at once. He advanced smiling, with extended hand. Benedict promptly
descended the steps to meet him and the two exchanged the customary
civilities. Hearing that the artist had come from Berlin, and being
professionally eager for news, the editor at once demanded an account of
the uproar of the previous evening, and of the attempted assassination
of Count Bismarck.
As to the latter, Benedict could give little information. He had heard
the shots, seen two men struggling, and one handed over to some
officers, and then had hastily sprung into the café, left it by a door
in another street, and found shelter at the Embassy. There he heard
further that the young man was the stepson of a proscribed refugee of
the '48, named Blind, and that he had made terrible accusations against
the count, which, coming as they did from the relative of a banished
rebel, were held to count for very little.
"Well, we know a little more than that," said Herr Bodemeyer, "we hear
that the young man attempted to cut his throat with a penknife, but that
the wounds were only slight and the doctor says are not dangerous. But
the "Kreuz Zeitung" will be here directly and we shall know a little
Even as he spoke newsboys hurried down the street shouting "Kreuz
Zeitung--Zeitung!" There was a rush for the paper. Hanover was nearly as
excited as Berlin had been the night before. Did the poor little kingdom
already feel itself in the crushing embrace of the Prussian
Benedict beckoned to one of the newsboys and bought a paper. Turning to
the Hanoverian editor,
"I hope you will dine with me and Colonel Anderson," he said. "We have a
private room, and can talk politics as much as we like. Besides, I have
something to ask of you which I could hardly ask at a public table."
Just then Colonel Anderson approached. He and Bodemeyer knew each other
by sight already. Benedict now formally introduced them. The colonel had
already glanced at his newspaper.
"Do you know," said he, "that although the doctor pronounced the wound
of no consequence, young Blind nevertheless died early this morning? A
Hanoverian officer come from Berlin says that about four o'clock a man
wrapped in a large cloak and wearing a large shady hat which concealed
his face, arrived at the prison provided with a permission to see the
prisoner, and was taken to his cell. Blind had been put into a strait
waistcoat and no one knows what passed between them, but when his cell
was inspected at eight o'clock he was dead. The doctor says he must have
been dead nearly four hours, so that he must have died about the time
this mysterious visitor left him."
"Is this official news?" enquired Bodemeyer. "As editor of a Government
paper I am bound to accept only official information. Let us see what
the 'Kreuz Zeitung' has to say."
They withdrew to the room assigned to them, and the Hanoverian editor
proceeded to examine the Berlin newspaper. The first paragraph of
"We are assured that the king's warrant decreeing the dissolution of the
Lower Chamber will be officially published to-morrow."
"Come," said the colonel, "that is of some importance."
"Wait a moment; there is something more."
"It is also announced that a decree ordering the mobilization of the
Landwehr will be officially published the day after to-morrow."
"That is enough," observed the colonel, "we know now that the minister
wins all along the line and that war will be declared in less than a
fortnight. Let us have the general news. We know all we want to know of
the political. Only, first, on which side will Hanover be?"
"There is no doubt about that," replied Bodemeyer. "Hanover is bound to
adhere to the Confederation."
"And on which side is the Confederation," asked Benedict.
"On the side of Austria," answered the journalist promptly. "But listen,
here is a fresh account of the scene in Unter den Linden."
"Oh! let us have that by all means," cried Benedict. "I was there, and I
want to know if the account is correct.
"What! were you there?"
"Very much there," and he added laughing, "I might even say with Æneas,
'_Et quorum pars magna fui._' I was in the thick of it."
Herr Bodemeyer continued:
"We are now able to give fuller details concerning the demonstration in
Unter den Linden which occurred yesterday after the report of the
Emperor Louis Napoleon's speech had been received. It appears that just
as our most distinguished vocalist finished singing 'The German Rhine,'
which was received with tremendous enthusiasm, a loud hiss was heard. It
was soon seen that the author of this insult was a foreigner, a French
painter, evidently intoxicated, and who would probably have atoned for
his folly with his life, had not some Prussian officers generously
protected him from the infuriated populace. The young fool further
defied the crowd by giving his name and address, but when enquiries were
made at the Black Eagle this morning he had disappeared. We commend his
prudence and wish him a pleasant journey."
"Is that paragraph signed," asked Benedict.
"No. Is it inaccurate?" returned the reader.
"May I be permitted to remark that the one thing I have everywhere
observed in my wanderings over three of the four quarters of the
world--I beg your pardon, there are five, if we count Oceania--is the
extremely small regard for truth shown by the purveyors of this sort of
news. Whether in the north or the south, St. Petersburg or Calcutta,
Paris or Constantinople, they are all alike. Each journal is bound to
give so many beats of its drum every day. Good or bad, false or true, it
has to give them, and those who feel injured must obtain redress--if
"Which means, I suppose," observed Colonel Anderson, "that this account
"Not only incorrect, but incomplete. The 'young fool' it speaks of, not
only hissed, but cried, 'Vive la France!' Further, he drank to the
health of France, and also disposed satisfactorily of the four first who
attacked, him. It is true that these three Prussian officers intervened.
They wished him to cry 'Vive Guillaume I' and 'Vive la Prusse.' He
mounted a table, and instead, gave them a recital of Alfred de Musset's
'Answer to the German Rhine' from end to end. It is also true that just
then the reports of Blind's revolver attracted general attention, and,
not proposing to fight all Berlin, he profited by the incident to
escape, taking refuge in the French Embassy. He had challenged one, two,
or four adversaries, but not the entire populace. He also left a message
at the Black Eagle to be given to any enquirers to the effect that he
could not remain in Berlin, but would wait in some neighbouring country
in order to oblige any one demanding satisfaction. And, leaving Berlin
by an early train he arrived at Hanover an hour ago and at once sent his
card to Herr Bodemeyer, hoping that that gentleman will kindly announce
in his Gazette both the town and the hotel where this 'young fool' may
be found by any one unable to find him at the Black Eagle."
"Good heavens," exclaimed the editor, "then it was you who caused this
mighty uproar at Berlin."
"Even I; small things make much noise, as you see." Turning to the
Englishman, Benedict continued, "And now you also see why I warned
Colonel Anderson that I had a favour to ask him. I want him to be my
second in case, as is quite possible, some wrathful individual should
arrive demanding why, being in a foreign country, I have dared to uphold
the honour of my own."
His hearers, with one accord, immediately offered their hands. Benedict
"And now, to show I am not absolutely unknown, here is a letter from the
Head of our 'Department of Fine Arts' to Herr Kaulbach, Painter to the
King of Hanover. He lives here, does he not?"
"Yes, the king had a charming house built on purpose for him."
At this moment the door communicating with the next room was thrown
open, the rotund figure of the landlord appeared in the opening and a
solemn and impressive voice announced:
"Their Excellencies are served."
Whether the chef had perceived that Benedict really understood what he
was talking about, or else had had orders from his master to do what he
was told, he had, at any rate, earned out his instructions to the very
last letter, the result being neither French, English, nor German, but
cosmopolitan, a banquet for a conference if not a congress. Nor was
brilliant conversation lacking. Bodemeyer, like all German journalists,
was a well-read man, but had never been outside Hanover. Anderson, on
the contrary, had read little, but had travelled everywhere and seen
much. He and Benedict had explored the same countries and encountered
the same people. Both had been at the siege of Pekin; Anderson had
followed Benedict in India, and preceded him in Russia. Both related
their experiences, the one with English reserve and humour, the other
with French vivacity and wit. The Englishman, a true modern
Phœnician, saw everything from the industrial and commercial point of
view, the Frenchman from that of intellectual progress. Their different
ideas, brought forward with warmth and also with the courtesy of
well-bred and distinguished men, crossed each other like foils in the
hands of experienced fencers, emitting sparks, brilliant if transitory.
Bodemeyer, unused to this style of discussion, endeavoured to give it a
philosophical turn, in which he was met by Benedict, but which Anderson
found difficult to follow. The journalist seemed unintelligible, but
Benedict's theories he understood as he had never understood before.
The clock striking eight abruptly terminated the conversation. The
editor sprang up.
"My paper!" he cried, "my 'Gazette'! It is not ready by half!" Never
before had he succumbed to such an intellectual temptation. "Frenchmen
are the very devil," he muttered, trying in vain to find a hat which
would fit him. They _are_ the champagne of the earth, they are clear,
strong, and sparkling. In vain did Benedict entreat him for five minutes
in which to write his announcement. "You must let me have it before
eleven o'clock," cried Bodemeyer, as, having discovered his own hat and
cane he fled as if the enemy were behind him.
Next morning the following announcement might have been read in the
"On June 7th, 1866, in Unter den Linden at Berlin I had occasion to
both give and receive several blows in an encounter with various
excellent citizens who wished to tear me to pieces because I had
publicly emptied my glass to the glory of France. I have not the
honour of knowing who gave these blows, but, wishing to be known by
those who received mine, I hereby announce that during the next
eight days I may be found at the Hôtel Royal, Hanover, by any one
wishing to criticize either my words or actions on the said
occasion, and I particularly hope that the author of a certain
article referring to me in yesterday's issue of the 'Kreuz
Zeitung,' will accept this invitation. Being ignorant of his name,
I have no other means of addressing him.
"I wish to thank the three Prussian officers who interfered to
protect me from the amiable people of Berlin. But, should any of
them consider himself offended by me, my gratitude will not extend
to refusing him satisfaction.
"I said then and I repeat now, that I am familiar with the use of
"_At the Hôtel Royal, Hanover_."
Benedict lost no time in leaving his note at the "Gazette" office, and
his letter of introduction at Kaulbach's studio, where he left also his
card on which was written, "I hope to have the honour of calling on you
to-morrow." He therefore ordered Lenhart to be ready a little before
eleven, in order to pay his two visits, one of thanks to Herr Bodemeyer,
and one to Kaulbach. As the latter lived at the extreme end of the town
where the king had had a charming little house erected for him, he
called at Herr Bodemeyer's office first. The last copies of the
"Gazette" were just being struck off, and Benedict was able to convince
himself that his letter was actually in print. As the "Gazette" had
numerous subscribers in Berlin and would be on sale there at six that
evening, there was no doubt but that his communication would be widely
read. The dissolution of the Chamber was confirmed and it was certain
that mobilization would be announced on the morrow. Benedict continued
on his way to the studio.
Seen by daylight the house appeared to be a pretty villa in Italian
style, standing in a garden enclosed with iron railings. The gate stood
invitingly open. Benedict entered, rang, and was answered by a servant
in livery, whose manner showed that the visit was expected. He at once
led the way to the studio.
"The master is just finishing dinner," he said, "but he will be with you
in a moment."
"Tell the master," replied Benedict, "that I am too delighted at being
able to see the beautiful things here to wish to hurry him."
And, indeed, the studio, full of original pictures, sketches, and copies
of some of the works of the greatest painters known, could not fail to
be intensely interesting to an artist such as Benedict, who now suddenly
found himself in the sanctuary of one of the greatest of German
painters. Kaulbach is an artist who has adhered to his Christian faith,
and everywhere one saw proofs of this. But among highly finished
sketches for some of his world-famous pictures, such as "The Dispersion
of Mankind," "The Taking of Jerusalem," etc., Benedict's attention was
drawn to a modern portrait group of five persons. It represented an
officer, evidently of high rank, holding a boy of about ten by the hand.
His charger stood ready on the terrace below, and a lady in the prime of
life sat near him with two little girls, one leaning against her knee,
while the other sat at her feet and played with a small dog and some
roses. The picture, apparently, was a work of love, for the artist had
taken immense pains with it; too much so, in fact, for the elaborately
finished details threw the faces into the background, and the general
effect was too flat.
Absorbed in the study of this group, Benedict did not observe that
Kaulbach had entered the room and was standing beside him, looking on
with a smile. Presently he said:
"You are right, that picture is too flat, and I had it brought back, not
to finish it still more, but to tone it down and soften some parts. Such
as it is your public would never like it. Delacroix has spoilt you for
"Do you mean to imply that he painted dirty ones?" he enquired.
"Heaven forbid! His works are excellent, but your nation did not
"We do him justice now, however."
"Yes, now that he is dead," said Kaulbach smiling. "Is it not always
"Not in your case. Admired in France, adored in Germany, happily you are
yet with us."
Kaulbach at this time was about fifty-two, slightly grey, sallow in
complexion, having brilliant dark eyes and a highly nervous
constitution. Tall and slight, he was at the zenith of his artistic
powers and hardly past that of his physical ones. The two men studied
each other critically, until at last Turpin began to laugh.
"Do you know what I am thinking?" asked the German. "I am wondering how
you have managed to wander from Pekin to St. Petersburg, from Astrakhan
to Algiers, and yet found time to produce the remarkable pictures you
have painted. I know these only by report unfortunately, but I have
heard a good deal. You are a pupil of Scheffer's?"
"Yes, I have also studied under Cabat."
"Great masters, both of them. And you are the hero of that unlucky
business at Berlin. I have just read your letter in the 'Gazette.'"
"But why 'unlucky'?"
"Well, you will have two or three duels on your hands."
"So much the worse for my adversaries."
"Allow me to remark that you are not lacking in self-confidence."
"No, because I have the certainty of success. Look!" and Benedict held
out his hand. "Observe that the line of life is double. There is not
the slightest break anywhere--nothing to indicate accident, sickness, or
even the slightest scratch. I might live to a hundred--but I won't say
as much of those who quarrel with me."
"At the end of your letter of introduction," he said, "there was a
postscript, which informed me that you were more deeply interested in
studying occult science than in pursuing your own art."
"I don't know that I study either very much. I am rather a slave to
temperament. If a thing amuses me, well, yes, I study it. If I think I
have found a truth, I try to follow it out to the very end. And I do
believe that chiromancy can give us a glance into the future, and that
the hand is a page on which the lines of our fate have been traced by
Destiny. If for five minutes only I could study the hand of either the
King of Prussia or of Count Bismarck, I could give you some idea of what
"Meanwhile," said Kaulbach, "your science says you will escape scot-free
from any duels arising out of this Berlin scrimmage?"
"Certainly I shall. But we were talking about your work, which is
infinitely more interesting. I believe I know all your pictures, or
"I would wager you don't know the best of them."
"Yes, I do. You mean 'Charlemagne visited in his Tomb by the Emperor
Otho'? It is the masterpiece of modern German painting."
Kaulbach was evidently delighted.
"You have seen that!" he exclaimed, and he held out his hand to
Benedict. "I don't think as much of it as you seem to do, but it is the
best thing I have done. Oh! pardon me, but I see two visitors who come
for a sitting. But wait, they are kind friends of mine, and may not
object to your presence. I will tell them who you are, and then if they
do not mind your being here you can please yourself as to whether you go
or stay." So saying he hastily quitted the studio.
A carriage was at the garden gate, quite plain in appearance, with no
arms emblazoned on the panels, yet Benedict's practised eye saw at once
that the horses had cost at least £200 each. Two gentlemen were leaving
it, the elder of the two, who seemed about forty-five, wore the
epaulettes of a general with an undress uniform of dark green, the
collar and facings being of black velvet. Kaulbach said a few words,
upon which he took off an order he was wearing and also two crosses,
retaining those of the Guelphic Order and of Ernest Augustus. Then, that
he might cross the little garden and ascend the steps he took the arm of
the younger man, who seemed to be his son, and who, tall and very
slight, appeared to be about one-and-twenty, and wore a Hussar uniform
of blue and silver.
Kaulbach opened the studio door and stood respectfully aside. Benedict,
as he bowed, instantly recognized the central figure of Kaulbach's
portrait group. He glanced quickly at the picture on which the missing
decoration was depicted in all its glory. It was the Star of the Order
of the Garter, worn by few except sovereign princes. He knew at once
that the visitors must be the blind King of Hanover, one of the most
cultivated and artistic sovereigns of Germany, and his son, the Crown
"Milords," said Kaulbach, "I have the honour to present a brother artist
to you. He is young, but is already famous, and he brings a special
introduction from the Minister of Fine Arts at Paris. May I add that
his own personality is a better recommendation even than those."
The general bent his head graciously, the youth touched his cap. The
elder man then addressed Benedict in English, regretting that his French
was only indifferent. Benedict replied in the same language, saying that
he was too great an admirer of Shakespeare, Scott, and Byron not to have
made an effort to read these authors in their own tongue. The king,
satisfied that he was unrecognized, discussed various subjects, and,
knowing that Benedict had travelled much, asked many questions which
were in themselves a compliment, for only men of superior intelligence
could have asked and answered them. Kaulbach, meanwhile, rapidly worked
at his picture softening down the too hard accessories. The young prince
listened eagerly, and when Benedict offered to show him sketches made in
India, he appealed anxiously to his father as to when and where he could
"Better ask both these gentlemen to lunch in your own rooms," said the
King, "and if they do you the honour to accept--"
"Oh! can you come to-morrow?" enquired the prince, delighted.
Benedict looked at Kaulbach in embarrassment.
"I fear I may have work of another kind to-morrow," he replied.
"Yes," said Kaulbach, "I fear my friend here is a trifle hot-headed. He
only arrived yesterday and he has already written a letter for the
'Gazette,' which is now well on its way to Berlin."
"What! the letter I thought so amusing that I read it aloud to my
father! Is that yours, monsieur? But, indeed, you will have duels
"I count on two," said Benedict. "It is a lucky number."
"But suppose you are killed or wounded?"
"If I am killed, I will, with your permission, bequeath you my album. If
I am badly hurt, I will ask Herr Kaulbach to show it you instead. If I
am only scratched, I will bring it myself. But you need not be anxious
on my account; I can assure you nothing unpleasant will happen to me."
"But how can you know that?"
"You know my friend's name, I think," said Kaulbach. "He is Benedict
Turpin. Well, he descends in the direct line from the famous enchanter
Turpin, the uncle of Charlemagne, and he has inherited the gifts of his
"Good heavens," said the prince, "are you spirit, magician, or what?"
"None of them. I simply amuse myself by reading the past, the present,
and as much of the future as one's hand can reveal."
"Before you came," said Kaulbach, "he was deeply regretting not being
able to see the hand of the King of Prussia. He would have told us what
will happen in the war. My lord," he continued, emphasizing the title,
"could we not find somewhere a royal hand for him to see?"
"Very easily," said the king, smiling, "only it should be that of a real
king or a real emperor. Such as the Emperor of China, who is obeyed by
millions of subjects, or Alexander, who reigns over the ninth part of
the whole world. Do you not think so, M. Turpin?"
"I think, sir," replied Benedict, as he bent low before the king, "that
it is not always great kingdoms which make great kings. Thessaly
produced Achilles, and Macedonia gave birth to Alexander," and again
bowing, even more deeply, he left the studio.
Benedict's prediction was duly fulfilled. He had hardly opened his eyes
the next morning when Lenhart, who had assumed the duties of valet,
appeared, bearing a magnificent silver salver which he had borrowed from
the landlord. On it were displayed two cards.
The cards bore the respective names of "Major Frederic von Bülow" and
"Georges Kleist, Editor of the 'Kreuz Zeitung.'" Two different classes
of Prussian society were therefore represented desiring satisfaction.
Benedict enquired where these gentlemen were to be found, and hearing
that they were both at his own hotel, sent a hasty message to Colonel
Anderson, begging him to come at once. When he appeared Benedict gave
him the cards, requesting him to deal with the owners in due order of
precedence, beginning with Major von Bülow, and to agree to whatever
terms were proposed whether as to weapons, time, or place. The colonel
would have protested, but Benedict declared he would have it his own way
or not at all, and Anderson had no choice but to agree.
He returned at the end of half-an-hour. Von Bülow had chosen swords.
But, having been sent officially to Frankfort, and having come out of
his way in order to accept M. Turpin's challenge, he would be greatly
obliged if the meeting might take place as soon as possible.
"The sooner the better," said Benedict. "It is the very least I can do
to oblige a man who comes out of his way in order to oblige me."
"All he wants, seemingly, is to be able to continue his journey this
evening," observed Anderson.
"Ah!" said Benedict. "But I cannot answer for his ability to do that,
however early we meet!"
"That would be a pity," said the colonel. "Major von Bülow is very much
a gentleman. It seems that three Prussian officers interfered to protect
you from the mob on condition that you cried 'Vive King William!' 'Vive
"Pardon me, there were no conditions."
"Not on your side, but they undertook it for you."
"I did not prevent them from crying it as much as they liked."
"Doubtless, only, instead of doing it yourself--"
"I recited one of Alfred de Musset's finest poems; what more could they
"They consider that you treated them with disrespect."
"Perhaps I did. Well, what next?"
"When they read your letter they decided that one of them must accept
the challenge and the other two act as seconds. They drew lots, and the
lot fell on von Bülow. That very moment he received orders to go on this
mission to Frankfort. The others wished that one of them should take his
place in the duel. But he refused, saying that if he were killed or
badly wounded, one of them could take on the dispatches which would not
be much delayed. So I then arranged the meeting for one o'clock."
"Very well. What about the other man?"
"Herr Georges Kleist is not remarkable in any way: he is a typical
German journalist. He chooses pistols and wants to fire at close
quarters on account of his defective eyesight. I believe it is quite
good enough, but, however, he does wear glasses, so you are to be at
"Good gracious! Do you call that close quarters?"
"Have a little patience! You may each advance fifteen paces nearer,
which reduces the ultimate distance to fifteen. But we had a discussion.
His seconds say that he is the aggrieved party and has the right to fire
first. I say, nothing of the kind; you ought to fire together, at a
given signal. You must decide; it is a serious matter, and I decline the
"It is soon decided; he must fire first. I hope you fixed an early time
for him also? We could then kill two birds with one stone."
"That is just what I have done. At one o'clock you meet von Bülow with
swords, and at a quarter-past, Herr Kleist, with pistols."
"Well then, my dear colonel, I will go and order breakfast, and will you
be so good as to tell Herr Kleist that he can have first shot? And," he
added, "let it be understood that I don't provide any arms myself; I
will use the swords and pistols they bring with them."
It was then eleven o'clock. Benedict promptly ordered breakfast. Colonel
Anderson returned in ten minutes and announced that all was settled.
Whereupon they applied themselves to their repast until the clock struck
"Colonel," said Benedict, "do not let us be late."
"We have no great distance to go. It is a pretty place, as you will see.
Are you influenced by surroundings?"
"I would rather fight on grass than on cultivated ground."
"We are going to Eilenriede; it is a sort of Hanoverian Bois de
Boulogne. In the middle of the wood there is a little open glade with a
spring in it, which might have been made for this sort of encounter. I
have been there once or twice on my own account and three or four times
on other people's. By the way, have you secured another second?"
"There are five on the other side, one of them will oblige me."
"But suppose they refused?"
"Not likely! But, even if they did, you alone would be sufficient. And,
as they seem anxious to finish the affair one way or another, there will
be no difficulties."
Lenhart had already announced the carriage. The colonel explained the
way to him. In half-an-hour they arrived at the little glade, with ten
minutes to spare.
"A lovely spot," said Benedict. "As the others are not yet here, I will
And, producing a sketch-book from his pocket, he dashed off a very
accurate view of the place with remarkable rapidity and skill.
Presently a carriage appeared in the distance. As they drew near
Benedict rose and took off his hat. The three officers, the editor, and
a surgeon they had brought, occupied it. In the officers, Benedict at
once recognized his three protectors at Berlin.
His adversaries left their carriage at a little distance and courteously
returned his salute. Colonel Anderson went to meet them and explained
that his principal, being a stranger, had no second but himself, and
asked if one of his opponents would supply the deficiency. They
consulted a moment, then one of the officers crossed over and bowed to
"I am much obliged by your courtesy, sir," said Benedict.
"We will agree to anything, sir--rather than lose time," replied the
Benedict bit his lip.
"Will you at once select the weapons," he said to Colonel Anderson in
English, "we must not keep these gentlemen waiting."
Von Bülow had already divested himself of helmet, coat, waistcoat, and
cravat. Benedict studied him carefully as he did so. He appeared to be
about thirty-three and to have lived in his uniform until he felt
uncomfortable out of it. He was dark, with glossy black hair cut quite
short, a straight nose, black moustache and very decided chin. Both
courage and loyalty could be read in the frank and open glance of his
Von Bülow, having provided the swords, Benedict was offered his choice
of them. He simply took the first that came, and immediately passed his
left hand along the edge and felt the point. The edge was keen as a
razor. The point sharp as a needle. The major's second observed his
action, and, beckoning Colonel Anderson aside.
"Will you," he said, "kindly explain to your principal that in German
duels we use only the edge of the sword? To thrust with the point is
"The devil!" said Benedict when this information was repeated to him,
"it is well you told me. In France, where duels, especially military
ones, are usually serious, we use every stroke we can, and our
sword-play is actually called 'counterpoint.'"
"But indeed," exclaimed von Bülow, "I beg, sir, that you will use your
sword in whatever way you find best."
Benedict bowed in acknowledgment. Having fought several duels at
Heidelberg he was well acquainted with German methods of fencing and
placed himself with apparent indifference. As the affronted person has
the right of attack, and a challenge may be considered an affront, he
waited, standing simply on guard.
THE TWO DUELS
"Engage, gentlemen!" cried the colonel.
Von Bülow's sword swept through the air with a flash like lightning.
But, rapid though it was, it descended in empty space. Warned by the
instinct of a true fencer, the blades had barely crossed when Benedict
sprang swiftly aside and remained standing unguarded, his point lowered,
and his mocking smile disclosing a fine set of teeth. His adversary
paused, perplexed, then swung round so as to face him, but did not
immediately advance. However, feeling that this duel must be no child's
play, he stepped forward and instantly the point of Benedict's sword
rose menacingly against him. Involuntarily he retreated a step. Benedict
now fixed his eyes upon him, circling round him, now bending to the
right, now again to the left, but always keeping his weapon low and
ready to strike.
The major began to feel a kind of hypnotic influence overpowering him.
Determined to fight against it, he boldly stepped forward, holding his
sword aloft. Instantly he felt the touch of cold steel. Benedict thrust,
his rapier pierced von Bülow's shirt and reappeared on the other side.
Had not the major remained standing motionless opposite him, an onlooker
would have supposed he had been run through the body.
The seconds hastened up, but:
"It is nothing, I assure you," said the major.
Then, perceiving that Benedict had only intended to pierce his shirt and
not himself, he added:
"Come, sir, let us continue this game in earnest."
"Ah!" said Benedict, "but you see, had I played in earnest, you would
now be a dead man!"
"On guard, sir," cried von Bülow, furious, "and remember this is a duel
to the death."
Benedict stepped back and saluting with his sword:
"Pardon me, gentlemen," he said, "you see how unfortunate I am. Although
fully intending not to use my point I have nevertheless made two holes
in my opponent's shirt. My hand might again refuse to obey my will, and,
as I do not visit a country merely to rebel against its
customs--particularly when they happen to be philanthropic--so--"
He went up to a rock which rose out of the little valley and, placing
the point of his rapier in a crevice, broke off a good inch of the
His adversary wished to do likewise, but,
"It is quite unnecessary, sir," said Benedict, "you are not likely to
use your point."
Being now reduced to ordinary sword-play, Benedict crossed swords with
his opponent, which necessitated their keeping close together. But he
continually retreated half a pace and advanced again, thanks to which
incessant movement the major merely made cuts in the air. Becoming
impatient, he endeavoured to reach Benedict, missed again, and
involuntarily lowered his weapon. Benedict parried a back stroke and
touched von Bülow's breast with the broken point. Said he:
"You see I was right in breaking the point of my sword. Otherwise, this
time something besides your shirt would have been pierced."
The major remained silent, but quickly recovering himself again stood on
guard. He now saw that his adversary was a most skilful swordsman, who
united French celerity with determined coolness and who was fully
conscious of his strength.
Benedict, seeing that an end must be made, now stood still, calm but
menacing, with frowning brows and eyes fixed on his enemy, not
attempting to strike but retaining a posture of defence. It seemed as if
he awaited the attack, but suddenly with the unexpected celerity which
characterized all his movements, he sprang forward with a bound like
that of a jaguar, aimed a blow at his adversary's head, and as the
latter raised his arm in defence, drew a line with his blade right
across his chest. Then, springing lightly back in the same instant he
again lowered his sword as before.
Von Bülow's shirt, slashed as though cut by a razor, was instantly
tinged with blood. The seconds moved forward.
"Do not stir, I beg," cried the major, "it is nothing but a scratch. I
must confess the gentleman's hand is a light one."
And he again stood on guard.
Courageous though he was, he felt he was losing confidence, and,
dumbfounded by his enemy's agility, a sense of great danger oppressed
him. Evidently Benedict was keeping just out of reach, and was merely
waiting until he should expose himself by an unwary advance. He
understood that hitherto his opponent had simply played with him, but
that now the duel was approaching an end and that his smallest mistake
would be severely punished. His sword, never able to encounter
Benedict's, seemed to become lifeless, and ceased to respond to his
His previous experience in fencing seemed useless here, and this
flashing blade which he could never touch, but which rose constantly
before him, alert, intelligent, as if endued with life, confused his
senses. He dared not risk a movement before this enemy always just
beyond his reach, so imperturbable and yet so alert, and who evidently
intended, like the artist he was, either to finish with one brilliant
stroke or else--which did not seem likely--to expire in a dignified pose
like the "Dying Gladiator."
But, exasperated by his opponent's perfect bodily grace, by his elegant
and masterly swordsmanship, and still more by the mocking smile which
hovered on his lips, von Bülow felt the blood rise to his temples, and
could not resist muttering between his teeth:
"This fellow is the very devil!"
And, springing forward, no longer fearing the broken point, he raised
his sword and aimed a blow with all his might at his adversary, a blow
which, had it reached its object, would have split his head as though it
had been an apple. Again, the stroke only encountered empty air, for
once more Benedict had effaced himself by a light, graceful spring, very
familiar to Parisian fencing masters.
The major's raised sword had broken his guard. A flash, as of lightning,
and his arm, streaming with blood, fell against his side. His sword
dropped, but remained upright supported by the sword knot.
The seconds hurried to his side. Very pale, but with smiling lips, von
Bülow bowed to Benedict and said:
"I thank you, sir. When you might have run me through the body you only
wounded my shirt; when you might have cut me in two you let me off with
the sort of cut one gets in shaving, and now, when you might have either
cleft my head or maimed my arm, I escape with a ruined sleeve. I now
ask you to extend your courtesy even further, and to complete the
record like the gentleman you are by explaining why you have spared me
"Sir," said Benedict with a smile, "in the house of Herr Fellner, the
Burgomaster of Frankfort, I was introduced to his god-daughter, a
charming lady, who adores her husband. Her name was the Baroness von
Bülow. When I saw your card it occurred to me that you might be related,
and though, beautiful as she is, mourning could only add to her charm,
it would grieve me to have been the cause of compelling her to wear it."
The major looked Benedict in the face and, stern soldier though he might
be, there were tears in his eyes.
"Madame von Bülow is my wife," he said. "Believe me, sir, wherever she
may meet you she will greet you thus: 'My husband foolishly quarrelled
with you, sir; may you ever be blessed because for my sake you spared
him!' and she will give you her hand with as much gratitude as I now
offer you mine."
And he added smiling:
"Forgive me for only offering my left hand. It is entirely your own
fault that I cannot give you the right."
And now, although the wound was not dangerous, von Bülow did not refuse
to have it dressed. The surgeon promptly ripped up his sleeve,
disclosing a wound, not very deep, but terrible to look at, which
extended down the arm from the shoulder to the elbow. And one shuddered
to think what such a wound would have been, had the swordsman struck
with all his force instead of simply drawing his blade along the arm.
The surgeon dipped a cloth in the ice-cold spring which rose at the foot
of the rock and wrapped it round the arm. He then drew the sides of the
wound together and strapped them with plaster. He assured the major that
he would be quite able to continue his journey to Frankfort in the
Benedict offered his carriage to the major, who, however, declined,
being curious to see what would happen to his successor. He excused
himself on the score that courtesy required him to wait for Herr Georges
Although Herr Kleist, having had time to see what sort of adversary he
had to deal with, would willingly have been some leagues away, he put a
brave face on the matter, and although he grew perceptibly pale during
the first duel, and still paler when the wound was dressed, he was,
nevertheless, the first to say.
"Excuse my interrupting you, gentlemen, but it is my turn now."
"I am quite at your service, sir," said Benedict.
"You are not properly dressed for a duel with pistols," interposed
Colonel Anderson, glancing at Benedict's costume.
"Really," said Benedict, "I never thought about what clothes I was to
fight in. I only wanted to do it with comfort to myself. That's all!"
"You can at least put on your tunic and button it!"
"Bah! It is much too hot."
"Perhaps we ought to have taken the pistols first. All this sword-play
may have unsteadied your hand."
"My hand is my servant, dear colonel; it knows it has to obey me and you
will see it does so."
"Do you wish to see the pistols you are to use?"
"You have seen them, have you not? Are they double barrelled or single?"
"Single barrelled duelling pistols. They were hired this morning from a
gunsmith in the Grande Place."
"Then call my other second and see them properly loaded. Mind the shot
is inside the barrels, and not dropped outside."
"I will load them myself."
"Colonel," asked the Prussian officers, "do you wish to see the pistols
"Yes. I wish to do so. But how are we to arrange? Herr Kleist will only
have one second."
"These two gentlemen may answer for Herr Kleist," said the major, "and I
will go over to M. Turpin." And his wound being now bandaged, he went
and sat down on the rock which gave its name to the glade.
Meanwhile the pistols were loaded, Colonel Anderson fulfilling his
promise by putting in the balls himself. Benedict came up to him.
"Tell me," the Englishman asked gravely, "do you mean to kill him?"
"What do you expect? One can't exactly play with pistols as one can with
swords or rapiers."
"Surely there is some way of disabling people with whom you have no
serious quarrel without killing them outright?"
"I really cannot undertake to miss him just to oblige you! Think! He
would naturally go and publish everywhere that I did not know how to
"All right! I see I need not have spoken. I bet you have an idea of some
"Frankly, I have. But then he must do his part."
"What must he do?"
"Just keep perfectly still, it ought not to be so very difficult. See,
they are ready."
The seconds had just measured the forty-five paces. Colonel Anderson now
measured off fifteen from each end, and to mark the exact limit which
neither combatant was to pass, he laid two scabbards across and planted
a sword upright in the ground at each end to decide the starting-point.
"To your places, gentlemen," cried the seconds.
Herr Kleist having selected his pistol, the colonel brought the other to
Benedict, who was talking to the major, and who took the pistol without
as much as looking at it, and still chatting with von Bülow, walked
quietly to his place.
The duellists now stood at the extreme distance.
"Gentlemen!" said Colonel Anderson, "you are now forty-five paces apart.
Each of you may either advance fifteen paces before firing, or may fire
from where he now stands. Herr Georges Kleist has the first shot and may
fire as soon as he pleases. Having fired, he may hold his pistol so as
to protect any part of himself he wishes.
The two adversaries advanced towards each other. Having arrived at the
mark, Benedict waited, standing, facing his opponent with folded arms. A
light breeze ruffled his hair and blew his shirt open at the chest. He
had walked at his ordinary pace.
Herr Kleist, dressed entirely in black, bare-headed, and with closely
buttoned coat, had advanced slowly, by force of will overcoming physical
disinclination. He halted at the limit.
"You are ready, sir?" he asked.
"Quite ready, sir."
"Will you not turn sideways?"
"I am not accustomed to do so."
Then, turning himself, Herr Kleist slowly raised his pistol, took aim,
Benedict heard the ball whiz close by his ear and felt the wind ruffle
his hair; it had passed within an inch of his head.
His adversary instantly raised his pistol, holding it so as to protect
his face, but was unable entirely to control a nervous movement of his
"Sir," said Benedict, "you courteously asked just now if I would not
stand sideways, which is unusual between combatants. Permit me in my
turn to offer a piece of advice, or rather, make a request."
"What is it, sir?" asked the journalist, still protecting himself with
"This; keep your hand steady, your pistol is moving. I wish to put my
ball in the wood of your pistol, which will be very difficult unless you
keep it quite still. Against my own will I might hit you, either in the
cheek or the back of the head, whereas--if you keep your hand just as it
He raised his pistol and fired instantly.
"There! it is done now!"
It was done so rapidly that no one could have supposed he had taken any
aim at all. But, even as the report was heard, Herr Kleist's pistol was
blown to pieces and he himself staggered and fell on one knee.
"Ah!" said Anderson, "you have killed him."
"I think not," replied Benedict. "I aimed between the two screws which
hold the hammer. It is the shock of the concussion which has brought him
The surgeon and the two seconds hastened to the wounded man, who now
held only the butt end of his pistol. There was a terrible bruise on his
cheek, reaching from the eye to the jaw. Otherwise he was untouched,
only the shock had knocked him down.
The barrel of the pistol was picked up on one side and the lock on the
other. The ball had lodged exactly between the two screws. Had it
continued its course unobstructed it would have broken the upper jaw and
penetrated the brain.
The dressing was simple--the bruise was a very bad one, but the skin was
only broken in two places, and the surgeon considered a cold-water
bandage to be all that was required.
Benedict embraced the major, bowed to the journalist, shook hands with
the seconds, put on his coat, and got into the carriage, looking less
dishevelled than if he had come from a picnic.
"Well, my dear sponsor," he said to Colonel Anderson.
"Well, my dear godson," responded the latter, "I know at least ten men
besides myself who would willingly have given a thousand pounds to see
what I have seen to-day."
"Sir," said Lenhart, "if you would promise neither to hunt nor to fight
unless I am there to see, I, my horse, and my carriage should be at your
service for the rest of my life."
And indeed, Benedict returned as he had foretold, having fought his
duels, vanquished his adversaries, and come off without a single
"WHAT WAS WRITTEN IN A KING'S HAND"
When Benedict returned to his hotel he was met by Kaulbach's servant,
sent by his master to learn what had happened. In the good town of
Hanover it had speedily become known that in answer to Benedict's letter
in the "Gazette" two challenges had been received that very morning, and
that he, his challengers, and seconds, had all gone to Eilenriede, the
usual place for settling affairs of this description. Benedict desired
him to assure his master that all was well, adding that he would have
come in person to acknowledge his courtesy, had he not feared to rouse
the curiosity of the whole town.
Colonel Anderson had made an excuse for leaving Benedict as soon as they
returned. Being an officer of the Royal Ordnance he had probably some
report to make to the king.
The news of the result of this double combat spread as rapidly as had
that of the challenges. Such an event as two duels successfully fought
without a scratch being received was quite unheard of, and was
considered so extraordinary that the young men of the town, who also had
no love for the Prussians, sent a deputation to congratulate Benedict on
his success. He received the deputies and replied in such excellent
German that they retired marvelling more than ever.
The doors had scarcely closed on them when Stephen appeared, and
announced that all his guests were so interested in the events of the
day that they begged Benedict would honour them by dining at the _table
d'hôte_, in order that they might all have the pleasure of personally
Benedict replied that he did not in the least understand so much
admiration for his perfectly natural conduct, but that he was quite
willing to do anything which might be agreeable to his fellow guests.
Stephen had time to let the news circulate in the town that the young
Frenchman of whom every one was talking, would, for once only, consent
to dine at the _table d'hôte_. Instead of twenty-five only, he had
covers laid for two hundred guests. Every place was occupied.
The police feared disorder of some kind, and came to investigate. They
were assured that it was only a family affair, a demonstration such as
had been made three days before under the windows of Count von
Bismarck--only it was the other way about! Now the Hanoverian police was
an excellent body, which highly approved of family fêtes and patriotic
demonstrations. Therefore, instead of objecting to this one they
encouraged it with all their power, thanks to which all passed off in
At midnight, Benedict was at length allowed to retire, but his admirers
organized a serenade beneath his windows which lasted till two o'clock
in the morning.
At nine Kaulbach entered his room. The Crown Prince invited Benedict to
breakfast at the Palace of Herrenhausen, and requested him to bring his
sketches. Kaulbach was commissioned to bring him back. The breakfast was
at eleven, but the prince would be obliged if Benedict would come at ten
in order to have some time for conversation both before and after.
Benedict lost no time in dressing, and although Kaulbach, intimate at
the palace, assured him he could go in ordinary costume, he preferred to
wear the naval uniform in which he had made the Chinese campaign. On his
breast was the Cross of the Légion d'Honneur, of which the simple red
ribbon means much more when worn by some than do the various grand
crosses worn by others. He added a sabre, the gift of Said Pasha, took
his sketches, and got into the carriage with Kaulbach.
Lenhart had a whole day's holiday.
Twenty-five minutes brought them to Herrenhausen, which is about a
league from Hanover, and, the carriage being open, Benedict could see
the young prince watching for him eagerly at a window. He was
accompanied only by his aide-de-camp, an officer of Engineers, and
consequently well able to draw. Also, which is more unusual, he did not
disdain the picturesque.
The prince enquired courteously after Benedict's health, without making
the smallest allusion to the duels of the day before. It was evident
nevertheless that he knew all about them. Had there been any doubts on
the subject they would have been dispelled by the appearance of Colonel
Anderson as another invited guest.
But the prince's chief interest centred in the portfolio which Benedict
carried under his arm.
Anticipating his wishes, Benedict observed;
"Your Highness wished to see some of my sketches. I have brought some
representing hunting incidents, thinking that they might interest you
"Oh! let me see, let me see!" exclaimed the prince, extending his hand,
and placing the portfolio on the piano, he began eagerly to examine the
contents. After having turned over several, "Ah," said he, "but they are
beautiful. Will you not tell me something of the adventures which I am
sure they illustrate? They must be so interesting."
Benedict endeavoured to gratify the prince, and the time both before and
after the breakfast passed rapidly in listening to accounts of elephant
hunting, of encounters with pirates in the Straits of Malacca, of
adventures in the Caucasus, and he had just finished an especially
thrilling anecdote relating to the poisonous snakes of India when the
king was seen approaching from the gallery. He held the arm of his
aide-de-camp with whom he was conversing and walked firmly as if able to
see. He entered the dining-room without being announced. The four guests
rose immediately, but:
"Do not let me disturb you, gentlemen," said the king. "I merely came to
visit the prince, to ask if he has all he wants, and if not, to convey
his wishes to the persons concerned."
"No! thanks to Your Majesty's kindness, nothing is wanting here except
yourself. Your knowledge of men has not deceived you, and Monsieur
Benedict is the most delightful companion I ever met."
"The prince is imaginative, sire," said Benedict laughing. "He
attributes to some very simple anecdotes and hasty sketches an
excellence which they do not possess."
But the king replied as if answering his own thought, the thought which
had led him to visit the young man.
"Yesterday," he said, addressing Benedict and turning towards him, as he
always did in conversation, "you said something about a science which
interested me in former days, namely, chiromancy. My thoughts carry me
on towards the mysterious unexplored regions of the human mind, of
nature, of creation. I should like to know they are based upon logic, on
physiology, for instance."
"I know, sire," replied Benedict, smiling, "that is why I ventured
yesterday to mention the occult sciences to Your Majesty."
"You know. But how?" demanded the king.
"I should be a poor student, sire, if I had limited my enquiries to the
hands only, and had not united the study of Lavater and Gall to that of
Arpentigny. I saw at once in the form of your hands and head those
precious aptitudes which are shown in phrenology by the well-developed
organs of the poetic faculty and of the love of harmony, which betoken
the student of natural science. The protection accorded by Your Majesty
to the poor herbalist, Lampe, arose not from benevolence only, but from
the conviction that certain men are empowered to receive a revelation,
and that it is not always the highly placed ones of earth to whom truth
is thus manifested."
"It is true," said the king. "Other men may see the stars shining in the
midnight silence, but it seems to me that I actually hear that 'music of
the spheres' spoken of by Pythagoras. And I am proud to think that while
I stand on the summit of earthly society, there are, immediately above
me, intermediate angelic influences which carry on a boundless electric
chain, linking us not merely with our own little planetary system, but
with others--with the whole universe."
"I do not venture," the king continued with a smile, "to discourse
openly on these beliefs. I should get the reputation of 'a king of
dreams,' about the worst a king can have. But to you, who are a dreamer
like myself, I do say--yes, I believe in these celestial influences, and
I believe that each mortal has, in that precious casket which he calls
his skull, the signs of his destiny. He may strive to alter or delay its
course, but it will bear him on irresistibly to fortune, success, or
misery, as the case may be.
"And I speak with conviction because I have had proofs. In early youth I
once met a gipsy woman in the course of a solitary walk. She examined my
hand and told me certain things which came to pass. I wish to believe
you, but I must have proofs. Can you read the past in my hand even as
the gipsy read the future. Can you, do you, sincerely believe you have
"I do, sire. And I think actual science will tell you what has before
been perhaps merely guessed at by intuition or tradition."
"Well then," said the king, extending his hand, "now tell me what you
"Sire," replied Benedict, "I do not know how far I dare--"
"Dare what?" enquired the king.
"What if I read only a threatening future?"
"We live in days when no predictions, however terrible, can exceed the
reality of the convulsions which are taking place around us. What can
you predict for me that can be so terrible? Is it the loss of my
kingdom? I lost more than a kingdom when I lost the vision of sun and
sky, of earth and sea. Take my hand, and tell me what is written."
"Everything. As for misfortunes, is it not better to know of them than
to encounter them unforeseen?"
Benedict bowed so deeply over King George's hand that he almost touched
it with his lips.
"A truly royal hand," he said, after having glanced over it, "a
beneficent hand; an artistic hand."
"I did not ask for compliments, sir," said the king, smiling.
"See, my dear master," said Benedict, addressing Kaulbach, "how well the
Mount of Apollo, there, under the ring-finger, is developed! Apollo
bestows love of the arts; he is the giver of intelligence, of all that
is brilliant and creates brilliance. It is he who gives the hope of an
immortal name, calm of the soul, the sympathy that creates love. Look at
the Mount of Mars, represented by the part opposite the thumb. This is
what gives courage, both civil and military, calm, coolness in danger,
resignation, pride, devotion, resolution, and the strength of
resistance. Unfortunately, Saturn is against us. Saturn threatens. You
know, sire, Saturn is Fate. Now, I ought to tell you, the lines of
Saturn are not only unfavourable; they are calamitous."
And here Benedict raised his head and looking at the king with the
utmost respect and sympathy:
"I might continue more intimately yet, sire," he said, "and reveal your
whole character in its most secret recesses. I might sketch your
inclinations one by one to you to their lightest shades; but I should
prefer to pass at once to graver facts. At twelve years old, Your
Majesty had a serious illness."
"It is true," said the king.
"At nineteen, a line extends both towards the brain and towards the
Mount of the Sun--a nervous seizure on one side; on the other, something
resembling death, but which is not death--an eclipse! And worse than
that, an eclipse is momentary one night!"
"The gipsy told me literally the same as you--something that resembles
death, but is not death! The fact is that at the age of nineteen I
passed through great trouble."
"Stay! Here, sire, on Jupiter there is a marvellous gleam; one of the
highest seats of human fortune--about the age of thirty-nine."
"Again the words of the gipsy. At thirty-nine I became king."
"I was ignorant of the precise dates," said Benedict, "but it might be
supposed that I knew them. Let me look for a fact that I could not have
known. Ah, I see it. Yes, it is certainly here. An agony of terror, an
accident due to water. What is it? A boat in danger? A tempest watched
from the shore? The imminent wreck of a vessel containing some one
beloved? There is fearful terror, but terror only; for there is a rescue
traced close to the line of fate. Your Majesty undoubtedly experienced
terrible anxiety for the life of some one greatly beloved.'
"Do you hear this, Ernest?" said the king addressing his son.
"Oh, my father!" said the young prince, throwing his arms around his
father's neck. Then, to Benedict: "Yes, indeed, my poor father was in
terrible fear. I was bathing in the sea at Nordeney. I can swim fairly
well; but without perceiving it I let myself be carried away on a
current; and, upon my word, I was on the point of sinking when I grasped
the arm of an honest fisherman who had come to my assistance. One second
more, and all would have been over with me."
"And I was there," said the king. "I could hear his cries, I stretched
my arms towards him--it was all I could do. Gloucester offered his
kingdom for a horse: and I would gladly have given mine for a ray of
light. Do not let us think of it. All the misfortunes of the future
together are not more terrible than the shadow of that misfortune which
did not happen."
"And so, sire?" said Benedict.
"And so I am convinced," said the king. "I have no need of further
proofs. Let us pass on to the future."
Benedict looked with great attention at the king's hand. He hesitated a
moment and asked for a magnifying glass, to see more distinctly. It was
"Sire," he said, "you are about to be drawn into a great war. One of
your nearest neighbours will not only betray, but will despoil you; and
notwithstanding--look, monseigneur!" he said to the prince, "the line of
the Sun shows victory: but an empty victory, useless, without fruit."
"And then?" asked the king.
"Oh, sire, what do I read in this hand!"
"Good tidings, or bad?"
"You told me to keep nothing from you, sire."
"And I repeat it. Tell me then; this victory--"
"This victory, as I have told Your Majesty, leads to nothing. Here is
the Line of the Sun broken off above the Line of the Head by a line
starting from Mars which also cuts the Mount of Jupiter."
"And that foretells?"
"A defeat. But however--No," said Benedict, seeking to read the most
mysterious secrets from the royal hand; "moreover, it is not the last
word of your destiny. Here is the Line of the Sun after its breakage
starting afresh, reaching the ring-finger and stopping at its base. And
there see further, above this line traversing Jupiter, a straight line
like a furrow crowned with a star, as a sceptre is crowned with a
"And that prophesies?"
"Then according to you, I shall lose the throne and reconquer it?"
Benedict turned towards the prince.
"Your hand, if you please, monseigneur."
The prince gave him his hand.
"After the age of forty, monseigneur, the Line of Life sends a branch
towards the Line of the Sun. At that period you will ascend the throne.
This is all that I can tell you. Now, if you ascend the throne, prince,
it can only mean that your father has either recovered or has never lost
The king remained silent for a moment, resting his head on his left
hand. He seemed gazing fixedly before him as if absorbed in some great
idea. The most profound silence reigned in the apartment.
"I cannot tell you," he said at length, "how much this unknown science
interests me. Does Providence permit each of us to recognize his destiny
in advance, just as the wrestler of ancient Greece might calculate the
strength of his adversary in the circus, and consider how best to avoid
his grip and obtain the victory?"
He remained silent for a few moments, then continued:
"After all, it would seem only just, only reasonable, that Providence
which announces a storm by gathering clouds and muttering thunder,
should allow to man and especially to man placed on the highest point of
earthly grandeur, some indication of the approach of the storms of life.
Yes, this science should be true, if only for the reason that it is
necessary, and has hitherto been a missing link--unknown as it was--in
the harmony of creation and in the logic of the Divine Mercy."
At this moment an usher appeared and informed the king that the Minister
of Foreign Affairs desired an audience on account of important business.
The king turned to Benedict:
"Sir," said he, "though your predictions are gloomy, you will always be
welcome in the home of him to whom you have made them. You have foretold
a victory; well, I to-day commission you to depict it. And if you remain
with us, it only rests with you to share it. Ernest, give your Guelphic
Cross to M. Benedict Turpin. I will tell my Minister of Foreign Affairs
to have the patent ready for signature to-morrow."
The king embraced his son, gave his hand to Kaulbach, graciously saluted
Anderson and Benedict, and taking the arm of his aide-de-camp left the
apartment as he had entered it.
The young prince detached the cross and ribbon of the Guelphic Order
which decorated his uniform, and fastened them on Benedict's coat with
signs of the most livery pleasure. The latter thanked him and expressed
his gratitude with evidently heartfelt warmth. Said the prince:
"Only promise me one thing, M. Benedict. If your predictions should be
verified, and you should have nothing better to do, we will go on our
travels together, and you will show me how to kill lions and elephants
in these wonderful forests I have heard of to-day."
BARON FREDERIC VON BÜLOW
And now we will leave our friend Benedict Turpin in order to follow one
of his adversaries who is destined to become an important character in
our story. We mean Baron Frederic von Bülow, whom we left with Georges
Kleist in the glade of Eilenriede.
Although his wound appeared at first sight the more serious of the two,
it was not in reality so. Moreover, he was the most eager to leave the
field. Entrusted as he was with a mission to Frankfort, he had turned
aside from his road to call Benedict to account, and from the first
moment that he was able to bear the fatigue of the journey he did not
lose a moment in pursuing it.
Although untouched by the ball, the impact of the broken pistol with the
right side of Kleist's face had had deplorable results. The blow was so
violent that it had left a bruise of the exact shape of the muzzle of
the pistol. His eyes were bloodshot and his cheek immoderately swollen.
In short, Herr Kleist would be obliged for at least a fortnight to forgo
the pleasures of society.
When the Baron Frederic von Bülow and Herr Kleist arrived at the Royal
Hotel they found their misadventure and Benedict's triumph were already
public property. The fact of their being Prussians was no
recommendation, and they were received with an amount of derision which
induced Herr Kleist, suffering though he was, to take the train
immediately. As for the major, having already accomplished a third of
his journey, he had only to continue on a branch line running direct
from Hanover to Frankfort.
We have already given some account of the appearance and physique of the
Baron Frederic von Bülow; we will now complete our description, first
relating the romantic manner in which he entered the military career and
the happy chance by which his undoubted merits found their due reward.
Frederic von Bülow came of a family belonging to Breslau. He had been a
student at Jena. One fine day he resolved to make a tour which is
frequently undertaken by German students along the banks of the Rhine.
He set out alone; not that he was in the least misanthropical; but he
was a poet. He loved to travel according to the inclination of the
moment, to stop when it suited him, proceed when he pleased, and have no
companion drawing him to the left when he wanted to follow a charming
woman to the right.
He had reached the most picturesque part of the Rhine; the Seven
Mountains. On the opposite bank, on the summit of a lofty hill there
stood a fine Gothic castle, lately restored. It belonged to the brother
of the King of Prussia, who was then only the Prince Royal. Not only had
he rebuilt the castle on its ancient foundations, but he had furnished
it throughout with appointments of the sixteenth century, collected in
the neighbourhood from the peasantry and convents, and new pieces made
by clever workmen from ancient models. Hangings, tapestries, mirrors,
all were of the same period, and formed a charming miniature museum of
arms, pictures, and valuable curiosities. When the prince was not in
residence he allowed the castle to be shown to visitors of distinction.
How difficult it is to define the phrase "visitors of distinction."
Frederic, whose family was of ancient nobility, considered that he had a
right, though travelling on foot, to see the castle. Knapsack on
shoulder, staff in hand, he climbed the steep path and knocked at the
door of the keep. The sound of a horn was heard, and the door opened. A
porter appeared and an officer in the costume of the sixteenth century,
who asked what could be done for him. Frederic von Bülow explained his
wish as an archæologist to see the Prince Regent's castle. The officer
replied, regretting he was not able to gratify him; the prince's
intendant had arrived the evening before, preceding his master only by
twenty-four hours. Visitors could no longer be admitted. But the
traveller was invited according to custom to inscribe his name, titles,
and qualifications in the visitors' book. He took a pen and wrote
Frederic von Bülow, student of the University of Jena. Then he took up
his iron-shod stick, saluted the officer, and began to descend the path.
But he had not taken a hundred steps when he heard himself called. The
officer beckoned and a page ran after him, saying the intendant begged
him to return and would take upon himself to grant the desired
permission to see the castle.
In the ante-room Frederic met, as if by chance, a man of about
fifty-eight or sixty. It was the prince's intendant. He entered into
conversation with the young man, appeared pleased with him, and offered
to be his guide throughout the castle, an offer that Frederic took good
care to accept. The intendant was very well informed; Frederic was a
young man of ability, and three or four hours had passed without either
being aware how the time was going, when a servant announced, dinner.
Frederic gracefully expressed his concern at leaving his cicerone so
soon; and his regret was evidently shared by his guide.
"See here," he said. "You are travelling as a student; I am here _en
garçon_. Suppose you dine with me. You will not dine so well as you
might with the king, but at any rate it will be better than hotel fare."
Frederic protested as far as he thought good breeding demanded, but as
he was really longing to accept the invitation he ended by acceding with
visible pleasure, and they consequently dined together. Frederic was a
delightful companion, being both poet and philosopher, qualities one
finds only united in Germany. He quite made a conquest of his host, who
after dinner proposed a game of chess. Midnight struck, and each thought
the evening barely begun. It was not possible to return to the village
at such an hour. Frederic, after some modest reluctance, remained at the
castle and slept in the Landgrave Philip's bed; and it was only the next
day after lunch that he obtained his host's permission to resume his
"I am not without some slight influence at court," said the intendant on
taking leave of him, "and if I can ever be of any service to you, pray
make use of me."
Frederic promised that he would.
"And whatever may happen," added his host, "I shall remember your name.
You may forget me, but I shall not forget you."
Frederic finished his travels on the Rhine, returned to the University
of Jena, concluded his studies there, entered the diplomatic service and
was greatly astonished at being one day summoned to the cabinet of the
"Sir," said the great man, "I have selected you to convey my
congratulations to William the First, King of Prussia, on his recent
accession to the throne."
"But, Highness!" cried Frederic in astonishment, "who am I to be
honoured with such a commission?"
"Really! are you not Baron Frederic von Bülow?"
"Highness! Baron? I? But since when have I become a baron?"
"Since I made you one. You will start at nine o'clock to-morrow; your
letters of credit will be ready at eight."
Frederic could only bow and utter his thanks; he bowed deeply,
gratefully thanked the grand duke and left the room.
The next morning at ten o'clock he was in the train and by the evening
he was in Berlin. His arrival was immediately announced to the new king.
The new king replied that he would receive him the following day at the
castle Of Potsdam.
On the morrow Frederic, in his court suit, started for Potsdam and
arrived at the castle. But to his great astonishment he learnt that the
king had just gone away and had left only his intendant to represent
Frederic's first idea was to return to Berlin; but he remembered that it
was this official who had entertained him so kindly and courteously two
years before at the castle of Rheinstein. He did not want to appear
ungrateful or offended, so had his name sent in accordingly. But while
crossing the ante-room he observed a full-length portrait of the king.
He stopped for an instant stupefied. His Majesty resembled his intendant
as one drop of water resembles another. The truth now dawned on
Frederic. It was the king's brother himself who, to-day reigning as King
William I, had received him at the castle of Rheinstein, who had acted
as his guide, had kept him to dinner, who had won three games of chess
out of five, and had made him sleep in the Landgrave Philip's bed--who
had offered his influence at court, and who on taking leave of him had
promised not to forget him.
He understood now why he had been chosen by the Grand Duke of Weimar to
carry his congratulations to the king; why the Grand Duke of Weimar had
made him a baron, why the king had appointed a meeting at Potsdam, and
why finally His Majesty had returned to Berlin, leaving his intendant
only to represent him.
His Majesty wanted to enjoy another day like that they had passed
together at Rheinstein. Frederic was a good courtier, and was ready to
contribute all in his power to this caprice. He entered as if he had no
suspicion, greeted his host like an old acquaintance, only showing the
respect due to an older man, thus recalling the scene which had left
such a pleasing influence on his mind.
The intendant made excuses for His Majesty, and invited Frederic to pass
the day at the castle of Potsdam, an invitation which was accepted like
the one at Rheinstein. He again offered his services as cicerone, took
him into the mausoleum, and showed him the tomb and the sword of the
A court carriage was ready waiting for them, and they went to see the
castle of Sans-Souci, which is only two miles from Potsdam. It was here,
it will be remembered, in the park of this château that the famous mill
was situated which its owner refused to sell to Frederic II, and which
caused the king to exclaim when the miller gained his lawsuit, "So there
are still judges at Berlin!" In the sequel the descendants of the
stubborn miller were softened and sold their mill to William I, who,
wishing to preserve it as a monument of the occurrence, refused to allow
it to be demolished.
But time, which cares nothing for the commands of kings, had in store
for William and his guest an example of its disregard. An hour before
the arrival of Frederic and the so-called agent, the four sails of the
windmill had fallen, bringing down in their fall the balustrade which
surrounded it. So that to day one must conclude that there are no longer
judges in Berlin, as there is no longer a mill at Sans-Souci.
On their return to Potsdam, Frederic and his companion found a table
ready laid for two. They dined alone together, played five games of
chess out of which the agent won three, and it was only at midnight that
they separated, when on the agent wishing Frederic a good night, the
latter replied with a deep bow: "Sire, may God grant Your Majesty a good
The next day the fiction was abandoned. The king breakfasted with
Frederic, gave him the Order of the Red Eagle, and with much pressing
induced him to hand in his resignation and join the army. A week later
he received his commission as lieutenant of the line, and came to pay
his respects in his new character to the king, who undertook that the
king would ever remember him whom the prince had promised not to forget.
Two years later, Frederic received a proof that the king indeed had not
forgotten. His regiment was stationed in garrison at Frankfort, where at
the house of Herr Fellner, the burgomaster, he made the acquaintance of
a family of French descent exiled by the revocation of the Edict of
Nantes, which had since its expatriation become Catholic. The family
consisted of the mother, aged about thirty-eight, the grandmother, who
was sixty-eight, and two girls of twenty and eighteen. Their family name
The elder daughter, Emma, had black hair, black eyes, a pale clear skin,
and well-marked eyebrows; her marvellously beautiful teeth showed like
pearls against her vividly red lips. She had, in fact, that stately dark
beauty which suggests the Roman matron, Lucretia and Cornelia in one.
Helen was worthy of her name. Her hair was of that exquisite blonde tint
which can only be compared to the colour of ripe corn. Her complexion
faintly tinted with rose had the freshness and delicacy of the camellia.
And the effect was almost astonishing when under these fair locks, and
upon that countenance of almost transparent pallor, she raised large
dark eyes, eloquent of passion, overarched with dark eyebrows and
fringed with lashes which gave to their sparkling orbs deep reflections
like those of the black diamonds of Tripoli. And as one had only to look
at Emma to see foreshadowed in her the calm and wisdom of those matrons
among whom the Catholic religion finds its saints, so one could divine
in Helen all that tempestuous future which the united passions of two
races hold in store for the hybrids of their sex.
Whether it were that this strange manifestation of divine caprice
dismayed him, or whether he felt himself drawn by irresistible sympathy
to the elder of the two sisters--it was to her that the Baron von Bülow
paid his homage. He was young, handsome, and rich. It was known that the
King of Prussia held him in warm regard. He stated that if he were
granted Emma's hand, his royal protector at the same time would make him
a captain. The two young people were in love, and the family had no
serious opposition to raise to their union. They said: "Obtain your
promotion as captain, and we will see." He asked three days' leave,
started for Berlin, and came back on the third day with his captain's
All was arranged. But during his absence Emma's mother was slightly
indisposed. Her illness increased, developed into disease of the lungs,
and at the end of six months Emma was doubly orphaned.
It was a further reason for giving the family a protector. The
grandmother, sixty-nine years of age, might die at any moment. They
waited till the strict season of mourning dictated both by their hearts
and by custom had elapsed, and at the end of six months they were
Three days after the birth of his first child, a boy, the Baron Frederic
von Bülow received his commission as major. On this occasion the
protection of the king was so obvious and so kindly intentioned that the
baron resolved to make a second journey to Berlin, not on this occasion
to ask for favours, but to return thanks for them. This journey was all
the more opportune because a word dropped by His Majesty's secretary had
warned him that there were great events on the horizon in which he might
take part, and that he would do wisely to come to Berlin on any suitable
pretext and see the king in person.
And in fact we have already said that Count von Bismarck had worked hard
to bring great events to pass. The king had three times received Baron
Frederic in private, and had freely discussed with him the probability
of a terrible war. To crown all, he attached him to the staff, so that
he might become aide-de-camp to any general whom he sent to any special
place, or even at need to his son or his cousin.
This was how Baron Frederic chanced to find himself at Berlin on June
7th, that is, on the day of the attempted assassination of Bismarck. As
we have seen, he, with two other officers rescued Benedict from the
hands of the mob; but, having promised the crowd that the Frenchman
should shout "Long live Prussia! Long live King William I!" he was
confounded when, instead of adopting this prudent course, Benedict
declaimed Alfred de Musset's verses on the Rhine, almost as well known
in Prussia as the song to which they were an answer. He and his comrades
took this affront, which the public had witnessed, as a deliberate
insult. All three presented themselves at the Black Eagle, which
Benedict as we know had given as his address, intending to demand
But, as they met each other and learnt that their errands were all the
same, they recognized that three men, who do not wish to gain their end
by intimidation, cannot all demand satisfaction from a single opponent.
For this reason they cast lots as to who should have the honour of
fighting with Benedict, and the lot as we have seen fell upon Frederic.
There stands in Frankfort-on-Main, at the corner of the Ross-market,
opposite the Protestant Church of St. Catherine, a mansion, which, by
its architecture, belongs to the transition period between Louis XIV and
Louis XV. It is known as Passevent House. The ground-floor was occupied
by a bookseller, and all the rest by the Chandroz family, already known
to the reader by name.
A sort of uneasiness, not quite amounting to actual trouble, seemed to
prevail in the house. The morning before a letter had been received by
Baroness von Bülow, announcing her husband's return in the evening, and
close upon that came a telegram, saying that he would not arrive before
the following morning, and that she must not be anxious if there were a
further delay. The fact was, that two hours after writing his letter,
the baron saw Benedict's announcement in the "Gazette." Fearing that he
might be delayed by a wound, he wished to spare his wife any possible
anxiety, her infant being only just over a week old.
Although the train was not due until four in the morning, Hans, the
confidential servant of the family, had already departed at three,
taking the carriage to meet his master at the station and at least ten
times during the interval Emma rang up her maid, wondering why the time
passed so slowly.
At length the sound of a carriage was heard, followed by the creaking of
the great gate, the carriage passed under the arch, the tread of spurred
boots echoed on the staircase, Emma's door opened, and Emma's arms
enfolded her husband.
It did not escape her notice that Frederic winced when she threw her
arms round him. She asked the cause. Frederic replied with a
cock-and-bull story of a cab accident in which he had slightly sprained
The sound of the carriage and the general movement in the house informed
Helen of the baron's arrival. Hastily wrapping herself in a
dressing-gown with her beautiful hair falling loosely over it, she
hurried to greet her brother-in-law whom she loved tenderly. In order
not to disturb the Countess de Chandroz, their grandmother, orders had
been given to keep her wing of the house as quiet as possible.
Madame von Bülow, with the usual penetration of wives, soon guessed that
Frederic's arm was more hurt than he chose to acknowledge. She insisted
that the family doctor, Herr Bodemacker, should be sent for, and
Frederic, who knew by the pain he suffered, that the bandage must have
been displaced during his journey, made no objection. He only begged her
to keep quiet while he went to his own room for the bath he had ordered,
saying that it would be much better for the doctor to follow him there
and decide which of his two hundred and eighty-two bones required
The question of importance was to keep the baroness in ignorance as to
the serious nature of the wound. With the help of Hans and the
connivance of the doctor this would be easy. The bath was a marvellous
help, and Emma allowed him to go to his room without suspecting the real
cause of his requiring it.
When the doctor arrived, Frederic astonished Hans by explaining that the
evening before he had received a sword wound which had laid open his
arm, that the bandage must have slipped in the train, and that it, his
coat, and his shirt were all soaked in blood.
The doctor slit the sleeve the whole way up, and then cut it clear at
the top. Frederic then was told to plunge his arm into the warm water of
the bath which enabled the doctor to remove the coat sleeve. He then
loosened the shirt sleeve by sponging it with the warm water, and
finally, cutting it away at the shoulder, was able to expose the wound.
The arm, compressed by the sleeves, was frightfully red and swollen, the
plaster had given way, the wound was gaping widely through its whole
length, and in the lower part the arm appeared cut to the bone. It was
fortunate that there had been plenty of warm water at hand. The doctor
brought the two sides of the cut together again, fixed them carefully,
bandaged the whole arm and put it in splints as if it had been broken.
But it was absolutely necessary that the baron should remain quite quiet
for two or three days. The doctor undertook to find the general in
command and to explain privately that Baron von Bülow was charged with a
mission to him but could not possibly leave the house.
Hans quickly removed the water and stained bandages. Frederic went down,
kissed his wife, and satisfied her by saying the doctor had merely
ordered him to rest for a few days. The word dislocation spread through
the house and accounted for the baron's indisposition. Returning to his
own apartment he found the Prussian general awaiting him. He explained
matters in two words; moreover, before long the story would be in all
the papers. The important question was, to keep the baroness in
ignorance. She would be uneasy about a dislocation, but in despair over
Frederic handed over his despatches to the general. They merely warned
him to be ready for action at a moment's notice. It was evident that
Count Bismarck, from whom the order came, wished to have a garrison at
hand during the Diet, to overawe the assembly, if possible. Afterwards
he would withdraw it or leave it, according to circumstances. This
question would be put to the Diet. "In case of war between Austria and
Prussia, on which side will you be?"
Frederic was extremely anxious to see his young sister Helen, having
important communications to make. After he and Benedict had vowed
eternal friendship on the field of battle, and Benedict had spoken of
having met the baroness at the burgomaster's house, he had conceived an
idea which he could not drive away, namely, to marry Benedict to his
sister-in-law. From what he had seen and heard of the young man, he felt
convinced that these two impetuous, imaginative, and artistic
characters, always ready to pursue an idea suggested by a ray of
sunlight or a scented breeze, were, out of the whole creation, the best
suited to each other. Consequently he wished to ascertain if Helen had
been attracted by his friend. Were this the case, he would find some
pretext for bringing Benedict to Frankfort, and, little as Helen cared
for admiration, he thought the acquaintance would soon assume the
character he wished.
Moreover, he wished to warn Helen to keep newspapers away from her
sister and grandmother, and on this account it was absolutely necessary
to take her into his confidence. She anticipated his wishes, for
scarcely had the general left him, when some one knocked softly at his
door, such a knock as might have proceeded from a cat or a bird. He
knew Helen's gentle manner of announcing herself.
"Come in, little sister, come in!" he cried, and Helen entered on
The baron was lying on his bed in his dressing-gown, lying on his left
side, his wounded arm extended along his body.
"Ah! you good-for-nothing," said she, folding her arms and gazing at
him, "so you have been and gone and done it, have you?"
"How? done what?" enquired Frederic, laughing.
"Well, now I have got you alone, we can talk."
"Exactly, dear Helen, now we are alone as you say. You are the
strong-minded person of this house, although no one else knows it, not
even yourself. So I want to discuss important matters with you--and they
are not a few."
"So do I, and I shall begin by taking the bull by the horns. Your arm is
not dislocated nor even sprained. You have fought a duel, like the
hothead you are, and your arm is wounded by either a sabre or
"Well, my little sister, that is exactly what I wanted to tell you. I
did fight a duel--for political reasons. And I did get a sabre cut in my
arm, but it was a friendly sabre, very neatly and prettily applied. It
is not dangerous, no artery or nerve severed. But the story will be in
all the papers; it has made noise enough already. Now we must prevent
both grandmamma and Emma from seeing the newspapers."
"The only paper taken here is the 'Kreuz Zeitung.'"
"Which is precisely the one that will say the most."
"What are you smiling at?"
"I can't help thinking of the face of the man who will have to supply
"What do you mean?"
"Nothing. I was only talking to myself, and when I say things to myself
they are not worth repeating aloud. The question is--to keep an eye on
the 'Kreuz Zeitung.'"
"Certainly I will keep an eye on it."
"Then I need not trouble any more about it?"
"When I tell you that I will see to it myself!"
"Very well! We will talk about something else."
"About anything you like."
"Do you recollect meeting a young Frenchman at Herr Fellner's, an
artist, a painter?"
"Monsieur Benedict Turpin? I should think so! A charming man who makes
the most rapid sketches, and though they are flattering, they are still
"Oh! come, come! You are quite enthusiastic."
"I can show you one he did of me. He has given me a pair of wings, and I
really look like an angel!"
"Then he is clever?"
"He can certainly give you as good as you gave. You should have seen how
he routed some of our bankers when they tried to chaff him. He spoke
better German than they did."
"Is he rich as well?"
"So they say."
"It also seems as if there were remarkable affinities between his
character and that of a little girl I know."
"But who? I don't understand."
"Nevertheless, it is some one you know. He appears to be capricious,
imaginative, vivacious; he adores travelling, is an excellent rider,
and a good sportsman, either on foot or horseback, all which coincides
admirably with the tastes of a certain 'Diana Vernon.'"
"I thought that was what you always called me."
"So it is. Do you recognize my portrait?"
"Not at all, not in the least. I am gentle, calm, collected. I like
travelling, yes. But where have I been? To Paris, Berlin, Vienna,
London, and that is all, I love horses, but what do I ever ride except
my poor little Gretchen?"
"She has nearly killed you twice over!"
"Poor thing! it was my own fault. As for shooting, I have never held a
gun, and as for coursing, I have never started a hare."
"True, but why not? Only because the grandmother objected. If you could
have had your own way--"
"Oh, yes! It would be glorious to rush against the wind, to feel it
blowing through one's hair. There is great pleasure in rapid motion, a
feeling of life which one finds in nothing else."
"So you would like to be able to do these things which you don't do."
"With Monsieur Benedict?"
"Why Monsieur Benedict more than any one else?"
"Because he is more charming than most."
"I do not think so."
"Then; supposing you were allowed to choose a husband out of all my
friends, you would not choose M. Benedict?"
"I should never dream of doing so."
"Now, little sister, you know I am an obstinate man, who likes to
understand, things. How is it that a man, young, handsome, rich,
talented, courageous, and imaginative, fails to interest you,
particularly when he has both the good qualities and the defects of your
"What am I to say? I do not know, I cannot analyse my feelings. Some
people are sympathetic to me, some indifferent, some downright
"Well, you don't class Monsieur Benedict among the disagreeable, I
"No, but among the indifferents."
"And why among the indifferents?"
"Monsieur Benedict is of medium height, I like tall men: he is fair, I
like dark men. He is volatile, I like serious people. He is bold, always
rushing off to the ends of the world; he would be the husband of other
men's wives, and not even the lover of his own."
"Let us resume. What sort of man, then, must he be that would please
"Somebody just the opposite of M. Benedict."
"He must be tall."
"Either dark or dark chestnut."
"Grave, or at least, serious. Also brave, steady, loyal, and--"
"Just so. Do you know that you have described, word for word, my friend,
Karl von Freyberg?"
Helen blushed crimson, and moved quickly, as if to leave the room, but
Frederic, disregarding his wound, caught her hand and made her sit down
again. The light from between the curtains irradiated her face like the
sunlight falling on a flower. He looked at her intently.
"Well, yes," she said, "but no one knows but you."
"Not Karl himself?"
"He may have some idea."
"Well, little sister," said Frederic, "I see no great harm in all this.
Come and kiss me, and we will talk again another time."
"But how comes it," exclaimed Helen, with vexation, "that you know all
you want to know, although I have told you nothing at all?"
"Because one can see through a crystal which is pure. Dear little Helen,
Karl von Freyberg is my best friend, he has all I could wish in a
brother-in-law, or that you could desire in a husband. If he loves you
as much as you seem to love him, there should be no great difficulty
about your becoming his wife."
"Ah! dear Frederic," said Helen, shaking her pretty head, "but I once
heard a Frenchwoman say that the marriages which present no difficulties
are just those which never come off!"
And she retired to her own room, wondering no doubt as to what
difficulties Destiny could interpose to the completion of her own
COUNT KARL VON FREYBERG
In the days of Charles V the Austrian Empire dominated for a period both
Europe and America, both the East and the West Indies. From the summit
of the Dalmatian mountains Austria beheld the rising of the sun, from
the chain of the Andes she could watch his setting. When the last ray of
sunset sank in the west, the first light of dawn was reappearing in the
east. Her empire was greater than that of Alexander, of Augustus, of
But this empire has been torn by the devouring hands of Time. And the
champion by whom the armour of this colossus, piece by piece, has been
rent away, is France.
France took--for herself--Flanders, the Duchy of Bar, Burgundy, Alsace,
and Lorraine. For the grandson of Louis XIV she took Spain, the two
Indies, and the islands. For the son of Philip V she took Naples and
Sicily. She also took the Netherlands and made two separate kingdoms of
them, Belgium and Holland, and, finally, she tore away Lombardy and
Venetia, and gave them to Italy. And to-day the boundaries of this
empire, upon which, three hundred years ago, the sun never set, are, in
the west, Tyrol; in the east, Moldavia; to the north, Prussia; to the
Every one knows that, strictly speaking, there is no Austria, properly
so called, only a dukedom of Austria, with nine to ten millions of
inhabitants, of which Vienna is the capital. And it was a duke of
Austria who imprisoned Richard Cœur-de-Lion on his return from
Palestine, and only released him on payment of a ransom of two hundred
and fifty thousand gold crowns.
The map-space now occupied by Austria, outside the actual dukedom, its
kernel, consists of Bohemia, Hungary, Illyria, the Tyrol, Moravia,
Silesia, the Sclavonian district of Croatia, the Vaivody of Servia, the
Banat, Transylvania, Galicia, Dalmatia, and Styria.
We do not count four to five millions of Roumanians scattered throughout
Hungary, and on the banks of the Danube. Every one of the above
districts has its own character, its own customs, language, costume,
frontier. Especially the dwellers in Styria, composed of Norica and the
ancient Pannonia, have retained their own language, costume, and
primitive customs. Before it became included in Austria, Styria had its
own separate history and nobility, dating from the time when it was
known as the march of Styria, about 1030. And from that epoch Karl von
Freyberg dated his ancestry, remaining a great noble at a time when
great nobles are becoming rare.
He was a handsome young man of about twenty-seven, tall, straight,
slight, flexible as a cane, and equally tough. His fine black hair was
cut close, and he had beneath black eyebrows and eyelashes, those dark
grey eyes which Homer attributes to Minerva and which shine like
emeralds. His complexion was sunburnt, for he had hunted since
childhood. He had small hands and feet, unwearied limbs, and prodigious
strength. In his own mountains he had hunted bear, wild goat, and
chamois. But he had never attacked the first of these animals with any
weapon except lance or dagger.
He was now a captain in the Lichtenstein Hussars, and, even in barracks,
was always followed by two Tyrolean chasseurs dressed in the national
costume. While the one carried out an order the other remained at hand,
so that there might be always some one to whom his master might say "Go
and do this." Although they understood German he always spoke to them in
their own tongue. They were serfs, understanding nothing about
enfranchisement, who considered that he had absolute power of life and
death over them, and although he had several times tried to explain
matters, telling them they were free to go where they chose, they had
simply refused either to believe or to listen.
Three years before, during a chamois hunt, one of his keepers lost his
footing. He fell down a precipice, and was dashed to pieces. Karl
ordered his steward to pay the widow an annuity. She thanked him, but
was quite unable to understand that he owed her anything merely because
her husband had been killed in his service.
When there was a hunt--and he who writes this had twice the honour to be
of the party--whether in his own country or not, Karl always wore his
national costume and very picturesque it was.
The count's two attendants never left him. They were loaders. When Karl
had fired, he dropped his gun on the ground and another ready loaded was
instantly slipped into his hand.
Whilst waiting for the beaters to be placed, which generally took half
an hour, the two chasseurs drew from their game-bags small Tyrolean
flutes made of reeds, on which they played, sometimes together,
sometimes alone, but always joining again after a certain number of
bars, Styrian airs, melancholy, but sweet and plaintive. This lasted
some minutes, then, as if drawn by the music, the count in his turn
produced a similar flute and put it to his lips. He now took up the
melody, the others only played accompaniments, which I think must have
been improvised--so original were they. It seemed as if the
accompaniments pursued the air, overtook it, and then turned around it
like creepers or tendrils. Then the air reappeared, charming, but always
sad, and reaching notes so high that one would have thought only silver
or glass could produce them. Then a gun was heard, that of the chief
beater, announcing that all was ready. The three flutes vanished inside
the game-bags, the musicians took their guns and again became hunters,
ear and eye strained to the utmost.
Count Karl knocked at eleven o'clock at Baron von Bülow's door, having
heard both of his return and his accident. Frederic received him with an
unusually smiling countenance, but only offered his left hand.
"Ah! then, it is true, is it? I have just read the 'Kreuz Zeitung.'"
"What have you read, my dear Karl?"
"I read that you fought with a Frenchman and were wounded."
"Hush--not so loud. I am not wounded for the family, only dislocated."
"What does that mean?"
"It means, my dear fellow, that my wife won't think she need inspect a
sprained arm, but she would positively insist on examining a wounded
one. Now she would die of fright over this wound, while I believe you
would rather like to have it. Have you seen many wounds a foot long? I
can show you one if you like."
"How so? A skilled fencer like you, who uses his sabre as if he had
"None the less, I found my master."
"Well, instead of hunting wild boar in the Taunus to-morrow, as I
intended, I should like to go and hunt your Frenchman, and bring back
one of his paws to replace your wounded one."
"Don't do anything of the kind, my dear friend, you might easily only
bring back a nice little cut like this of mine. Besides, the Frenchman
is now my friend, and I want him to be yours also."
"Never! A rascal who has cut your arm open--how far? A foot, did you
"He might have killed me. He did not. He might have cut me in two, and
he only gave me this wound. We embraced on the battlefield. Did you see
the other details?"
"What other details?"
"Those concerning his other duel, with Herr George Kleist."
"Superficially. I don't know him, I only cared about you. I did see that
your Frenchman had damaged the jaw of some man who writes articles in
the 'Kreuz Zeitung.' He seems to have quarrelled with two professions,
since he chooses to encounter an officer and a journalist on the same
"He did not choose us, we were foolish enough to choose him. We pursued
him to Hanover, where he was very comfortable. Probably he was annoyed
by being disturbed. So he sent me home with my arm in a sling, and
dismissed Herr Kleist with a black eye."
"Is the fellow a Hercules?"
"Not at all, it is curious. He is a head shorter than you, but formed
like Alfred de Musset's Hassan, whose mother made him small in order to
turn him out perfect."
"And so you embraced on the battlefield?"
"Better still. I have an idea."
"What is it?"
"He is a Frenchman as you know."
"Of good family?"
"Dear friend, they are all of good family since the Revolution. But he
"As a fencing master?"
"Not at all, as an artist. Kaulbach says he is the hope of the present
school. He is young."
"Yes, twenty-five or six at most, and handsome."
"Handsome as well?"
"Charming. An income of twelve thousand francs."
"Not everybody has two hundred thousand, like you, my dear friend.
Twelve thousand francs and a fine talent might mean fifty or sixty
"But why in the world do you consider all this?"
"I should like him to marry Helen."
The count nearly sprang out of his chair.
"What! Let him marry Helen! your sister-in-law! A Frenchman!"
"Well, is she not herself partly of French origin?"
"I am sure Mademoiselle Helen loves you too much to be willing to marry
a man who has wounded you like this. I hope she refused?"
The count breathed again.
"But what the deuce put such an idea into your head as to marry him to
"She is only my sister-in-law."
"That does not matter. What an idea to think of marrying one's
sister-in-law to the first person picked up on the high road!"
"I assure you this young man is not just--"
"Never mind! She refused, did she not? That is the chief thing."
"I hope to make her think better of it."
"You must be quite mad."
"But tell me, why should she refuse? Explain if you can! Unless, indeed,
she cares for some one else."
The count blushed up to his eyes.
"Do you think that quite impossible?" he stammered.
"No, but then if she should love someone else, she must say so."
"Listen, Frederic, I cannot positively say that she loves some one else,
but I can declare that some one else loves her."
"That is half the battle. Is it some one as good as my Frenchman?"
"Ah! Frederic, you are so prejudiced in favour of your Frenchman. I dare
not say yes."
"Then tell me at once. You see what might have happened had my Frenchman
been here, and I had made any promise to him."
"Well, at any rate, you won't turn me out for saying it. The some one is
"Always modest, loyal, and true, dear Karl but--"
"But? I will have no 'buts.'"
"It is not a very terrible 'but,' as you will see. You are a great
noble, Karl, compared to my little sister Helen."
"I am the last of my race, there is no one to make objections."
"And you are very rich for a dowry of two hundred thousand francs."
"I can dispose of my own fortune as I choose."
"These are observations I felt bound to make to you."
"Do you consider them really serious?"
"I acknowledge objections to them would be much more so."
"Is it of no consequence to ascertain whether Helen loves me or not?"
"That can be decided at once."
"I will send for her, the shortest explanations are always the best."
The count became as pale as he had been red the moment before. In a
trembling voice he exclaimed:
"Not now, for Heaven's sake! not now!"
"But, my dear Karl!"
"Do you believe I am your friend?"
"Good heavens! yes."
"Well, do you suppose I would subject you to an interview which could
only make you unhappy?
"I mean that I believe--"
"I believe that she loves you as much as you love her."
"My friend, you will kill me with joy."
"Well, since you are so afraid of an interview with Helen, go and do
your hunting in the Taunus, kill your wild boar and come back again, the
thing will be done."
"I will undertake it."
"No, Frederic, I will not go."
"What, you will not go? Only think of your men waiting there with their
"They may wait."
At this moment the door opened, and Helen appeared on the threshold.
"Helen!" exclaimed Karl.
"You will be careful--you must not be too long with my brother," she
said, remaining at the door.
"He is waiting for you," observed Frederic.
"Yes, come here."
"But I don't understand in the least."
"Never mind! Come here."
Karl offered his hand to Helen.
"Oh, mademoiselle," he said, "do what your brother asks, I entreat you."
"Well," she said, "what shall I do?"
"You can lend your hand to Karl; he will return it."
Karl seized her hand and pressed it to his heart. Helen uttered a cry.
Timid as a child, Karl released the hand.
"You did not hurt me," said Helen.
Karl promptly repossessed himself of the released hand.
"Brother," said Frederic, "did you not say you had a secret you wished
to confide to Helen?"
"Oh yes, yes," cried Karl.
"All right, I am not listening."
Karl bent towards Helen's ear, and the sweet words "I love you" fell
from his lips with a whisper as of a moth's wings, which flitting by
your ear on a spring evening breathes the eternal secret of Nature.
"Oh! Frederic, Frederic!" cried Helen, hiding her forehead on his couch,
"I was not mistaken!"
Then raising her head and languidly opening her beautiful eyes.
"And I," she said, "I love you."
For a few moments Frederic left the lovers to themselves and their
happiness. Then, as both raised their eyes to his, as if enquiring what
next should be done:
"The little sister," said he, "must go and tell all this to her big
sister, the big sister will relate it to the grandmother, and the
grandmother, who believes in me, will come and talk it over and we will
arrange things together."
"And when must I go and tell all this to the big sister?" enquired
"At once, if you will."
"I will go now! You will wait for me, Karl?"
Karl's smile and gesture answered her. Helen glided out of his embrace
and vanished like a bird.
"Now for our own affairs!" said Frederic.
"How! what affairs?"
"I have something to tell you."
"Anything about our marriage? You alarm me!"
"Suppose this morning when you doubted the possibility of Helen's love I
had answered, 'Do not be afraid, Helen loves and will marry you, but
there is an obstacle, and the marriage cannot possibly take place in
less than a year?'"
"What would you have? I should have been in despair at the delay, but
transported by the news."
"Well, my friend, I tell you now what I should have told you this
morning. Helen loves you. She did not ask me to tell you this; she has
told it herself, but at this moment there is an insurmountable
"At least you will explain what the obstacle is?"
"I am going to tell you what is yet a secret, Karl. In a week, or at
most, a fortnight, Prussia will declare war against Austria."
"Ah! I feared it. Bismarck is Germany's evil genius."
"Well, now you will understand. As friends we can serve on opposite
sides, that happens every day. But--as brothers-in-law--we could not.
You can hardly become my brother-in-law at the very moment of
unsheathing your sword against me."
"You are quite sure of your information?"
"Most certainly I am. Bismarck now occupies such a position in regard to
the Chambers, and has forced the king into such a position with regard
to the other German princes, that, either he must embroil Germany from
Berlin to Pest and even to Innspruck, or he will be tried for high
treason, and end his days in a fortress! Now, Bismarck is a power--a
power of darkness if you will--he will not be tried for high treason,
and he will embroil Germany--for this reason: Prussia has nothing to
gain by upsetting him, whereas by upsetting Germany she can annex two or
three little kingdoms or duchies, which will round off her borders very
"But the Confederation will be against him."
"Little will he care for that, so long as he himself remains
indispensable. And, listen to what I tell you; the more enemies Prussia
has, the more she will beat them. Our army is organized as no other
European army is organized--at the present moment."
"You say our army, then you have become a _Prussian_. I thought you were
"I am a Silesian, Prussian since the days of Frederic II. All I have I
owe to King William, and I would willingly die for him, while regretting
it should be in a bad cause."
"What do you advise in my case?"
"You are a Styrian, therefore an Austrian. Eight for your emperor like a
lion, and if by ill luck we meet in a cavalry charge you turn your horse
to the right, I also turn mine; we salute and pass on. Don't yourself
get lulled, that is all, and we will sign the marriage contract the day
peace is declared."
"Unhappily, I see no other way out of it, unless by good luck we could
both remain at Frankfort, a free and neutral town. I have no wish to
fight with Germans. It will be an iniquitous war. If it had been Turks,
French, or Russians, it would be all right, but between children of the
same country, speaking the same language! My patriotism ends there, I
"That last hope must be given up. I myself brought orders to the Prussian
general here to be ready to leave, Austria will certainly withdraw her
troops also. Frankfort may have a Bavarian garrison or be left with one
of her own, but most certainly we, to the last man, shall have to rejoin
"Poor dear Helen! What are we to say when she comes back?"
"We will say the marriage is decided on, that the betrothal will take
place; but the marriage must be delayed for a year. If, in spite of my
prophecy, war should not be declared, you can marry at once. If this
war does take place, it is not a war which will last. It will be a
tempest, a hurricane, passing over and destroying everything, then it
will be peace. If I fix a date, it is because I am sure not to have to
ask for further delay. Helen is eighteen, she will then be nineteen, you
are now twenty-six, you will then be twenty-seven. This delay is not
caused by circumstances of our making. Circumstances impose it on us. We
must give way to them."
"You will promise not to let anything change your opinion of me, and
that from to-day, June 12th, you count yourself my brother-in-law--on
"The honour is too dear for me ever to think of repudiating it. From
to-day, June 12th, I am your brother-in-law--on parole."
"Madame von Beling!"
This exclamation was drawn from Karl by the unexpected appearance of an
elderly lady dressed entirely in black. She had splendid hair, white as
snow, and must in youth have been very beautiful. Her whole appearance
betokened distinction and benevolence.
"How is this, my dear Frederic?" said she, entering the room. "You have
been here since five o'clock this morning and I only hear of your
arrival from your wife at two in the afternoon; also, that you are in
"Dear grandmamma," answered Frederic, "but do I not also know that you
do not awake before eleven, and only rise at noon?"
"True, but they tell me you have a sprained arm. I have three excellent
remedies for sprains, one, which is perfect, came from my old friend
Goethe, one from another old friend, Madame Schröder, and the third from
Baron von Humboldt. You see the origin of all three is unimpeachable."
Turning to Karl, who, bowing, brought forward an armchair for her, she
"You, Herr von Freyberg, have evidently no sprains, for you are in
hunting costume. Ah! you do not know how your Styrian dress recalls a
happy memory of my youth. The first time I saw my husband, Herr von
Beling it is now something like fifty-two years ago, for it was in
1814--at a carnival masked ball, he wore a similar costume to the one
you are now wearing. He was about your age. In the middle of the ball--I
remember as if it were yesterday--we heard of the landing of that
accursed Napoleon. The dancers vowed that if he again ascended the
throne they would go to fight him. The ladies each chose a cavalier, who
should be entitled to wear her colours in the coming campaign. I did
like the rest, and I chose Herr von Beling, although in my heart of
hearts--for I have remained French in heart--I could not be very angry
with the man who had made France so great.
"This fanciful nomination of Herr von Beling as a champion wearing my
colours opened my parents' house to him. He could not, he said, be my
knight without their permission. They gave their permission. Napoleon
again became emperor. Herr von Beling rejoined his regiment, but he
first asked my hand from my mother. My mother consulted me, I loved him.
It was agreed that we should marry when the war was over. The campaign
was not long, and when Herr von Beling returned we were married; I, at
the bottom of my heart feeling a little vexed that he had contributed
the three hundred millionth part towards the dethronement of my hero.
But I never confessed this small infidelity of enthusiasm, and our life
was no less happy on that account."
"Dear grandmamma," enquired Frederic, "did Herr von Beling--he must
have been very handsome in Styrian garb, I have seen his portrait--did
Herr von Beling kneel before you when he asked the favour of being your
"Certainly, and very gracefully he did it too," returned the old lady.
"Did he do it better than my friend Karl?"
"Better than your friend Karl? But is your friend Karl likely to kneel
before me by any chance?"
"Just look at him."
Madame von Beling turned round and saw indeed Karl kneeling on the
ground before her.
"Good gracious!" said she laughing, "have I suddenly grown fifty years
"My dear grandmother," said Frederic, while Karl took possession of the
old lady's hand. "No, you have still your threescore and ten years,
which become you so well that I will not let you off a single one of
them; but here is Karl, who also is going to the war, and who asks to be
called the knight of your granddaughter Helen."
"Really! and is my little granddaughter Helen actually old enough to
have a knight of her very own?"
"She is eighteen, grandmother."
"Eighteen! My age when I married Herr von Beling! It is the age when
leaves forsake the tree and are borne away by the wind. If Helen's hour
has struck," she continued with a mournful smile, "she must go like the
"Never, never, dear grandmother," cried the young girl who had entered
unperceived, "never so far but that I can every day kiss the dear hand
which gives life to all of us."
And she knelt down beside Karl and took the other hand.
"Ah!" said Madame von Beling, nodding her head, "so that is why I was
invited to come upstairs. I was to be caught in a trap. Well, what am I
to do now? How defend myself? To surrender at once is stupid; it is like
a scene from Molière."
"Very well, grandmamma, don't surrender, or at least not without
"And what are they to be?"
"That these young people can be betrothed as soon as they like, but that
the marriage, like your own, can only be celebrated when the war is
"What war?" asked Helen, in anxiety.
"We will tell you about it later. Meanwhile, if Karl is your knight, he
must wear your colours. What are they?"
"I have only one," replied Helen. "It is green."
"Then he is wearing them now," said Frederic indicating his friend's
coat with green facings, and the hat with its wide band of green velvet.
"And in honour of my lady love," said Karl, rising, "a hundred men shall
also wear them, with me, and like me."
Everything was now settled, and the whole party, Frederic leading the
way, Madame von Beling on Karl's arm, went downstairs to convey the good
news to the dear invalid.
That same evening it was known that the Diet was convoked at Frankfort
for June 15th.
It is time to give some information concerning the town in which the
chief events of our history will take place.
Frankfort ranks as one of the most important towns in Germany, not
merely on account of the number of its inhabitants, nor because of its
commercial standing, but by reason of the political position which it
occupies as being the seat of the Imperial Diet.
One continually hears phrases repeated until they become familiar
without the person precisely understanding the exact meaning. Let us in
a few words explain what the functions of the Imperial Diet really are.
It is the duty of the Diet to watch over the affairs of Germany in
general and to smooth down disagreements between the confederate States.
The president is always a representative of Austria. The decisions of
the assembly are called _Recesses_. The Diet, which has existed since
very remote ages, had at first no fixed seat, but was held sometimes at
Nuremberg, sometimes at Ratisbon, or at Augsbourg. Finally, June 9th,
1815, the Congress of Vienna established Frankfort as the permanent seat
of the Diet of the Germanic Confederation.
Thanks to the new constitution Frankfort has a quarter vote at the
Diet, the other three-quarters belonging to the three free towns of
Hamburg, Bremen, and Lubeck. In return for this honour, Frankfort was to
raise seven hundred and fifty men for the Germanic Confederation and
fire a salute on the anniversary of the battle of Leipzig. The execution
of this latter obligation was at first a trifle difficult, for the
reason that since 1803 Frankfort had ceased to possess ramparts, and
since 1813 had owned no cannon. But in the first moments of enthusiasm a
subscription was opened which allowed the purchase of two four-pounders,
so that since 1814, on the proper day, Frankfort has duly paid the debt
of fire and smoke owed to the Holy Alliance.
As to the ramparts, they exist no longer. Instead of old walls and muddy
ditches, Frankfort has seen the gradual formation of a charming English
garden, a gracious and perfumed enclosure, which enables one to make the
circuit of the town, while walking on the smoothest of paths and under
magnificent trees. So that, with its houses painted white, green, and
pink, Frankfort looks like a bouquet of camellias set in a border of
heather. The tomb of the mayor to whom this improvement is due stands in
the midst of a delightful labyrinth of walks, much frequented by the
burghers and their families about four or five o'clock in the afternoon.
The Teuton name Frankfort means a _free ford_, and the town owes its
origin to an imperial castle built by Charlemagne at a point where the
Namur is fordable. The first historical notice of it is the date of the
Council held there in 794, in which was discussed the question of image
worship. As to Charlemagne's palace, no trace of it can be found, but
antiquaries say that it stood where now is the Church of St. Leonard.
It must have been about 796 that Charlemagne founded the colony of
Sachsenhausen peopled by the Saxons whom he had conquered and baptized.
In 822 Louis le Debonnaire built the Sala on the site of the present
Saalhof, and in 838 Frankfort had already a court of justice and walls
In 853 Louis the German raised it to the rank of capital of the eastern
portion of the French empire; extended its borders, and built the church
of St. Saviour close to where the autumn fair was held, in accordance
with the traders' custom of setting up their booths under the walls of
churches and temples.
The custom of electing the emperor at Frankfort was begun by that great
Swabian house whose name alone calls up a host of terrible and
melancholy recollections. In 1240 Frederic II granted letters of safe
conduct to all going to the market of Frankfort; and the Emperor Louis
of Bavaria, wishing to show gratitude for his election, proved his
attachment to the town by granting great advantages, among others the
right of holding a fair for fifteen days during Lent, which was known as
the Easter fair.
The Emperor Charles IV confirmed the right of the Imperial Election to
Frankfort by the famous Golden Bull issued in 1356. This Bull provided
the Emperor Napoleon with an opportunity for displaying his excellent
memory. Dining one day with half a score of sovereign princes, at the
meeting of Erfurth, the conversation chanced to turn on the Golden Bull,
which, until the Confederation of the Rhine, had laid down the rules for
Imperial elections. The Prince Primate, being on his own ground, gave
some details concerning the Bull, fixing the date for 1409.
"I think you are mistaken, prince," said Napoleon. "If my memory is
correct, the Bull was published in 1356 in the reign of the Emperor
"Your Majesty is right," said the primate, reconsidering, "but how is
it you remember the date of a bull so exactly? Had it been a battle it
would be less wonderful."
"Shall I tell you the secret of this wonderful memory, prince?" enquired
"Your Majesty would give us all much pleasure."
"Well," continued the emperor, "you must know that when I was a
sub-lieutenant in the Artillery--"
Whereupon there was so decided a movement of surprise and curiosity
among the illustrious guests that Napoleon paused an instant, but seeing
that all were waiting for him to continue, he resumed with a smile:
"I was saying that when I had the honour of being a sub-lieutenant of
Artillery I was in garrison at Valence for three years. I did not care
for society, and lived very quietly. By a lucky chance I had rooms
opposite a well-read and obliging bookseller, whose name was Marcus
Aurelius, and who gave me the run of his library. I read and re-read
everything in his shop two or three times during my stay in the capital
of the Drôme, and I remember everything I then read--even to the date of
the Golden Bull."
Frankfort continued to govern itself as a free imperial town until,
after having been bombarded by the French in the wars of the Revolution,
it was one fine day handed over by Napoleon to the Prince Primate
Charles of Dalberg, when it became the capital of the Grand Duchy of
The most interesting building in Frankfort is undoubtedly the Römer, a
huge building which contains the Hall of the Electors, now used for the
sittings of the Upper Senate of Frankfort, and the Hall of the Emperors
in which the latter were proclaimed. A peculiarity of this hall, which
contains the portraits of all the emperors from Conrad to Leopold II, is
that the architect who built it made exactly as many niches as there
have been sovereigns wearing the Imperial crown. So that when Francis II
was elected, all the niches were already filled, and there was no space
found for the new Cæsar. There was much discussion as to where his
portrait could be placed, when in 1805 the ancient German empire
crumbled into dust at the noise of the cannon of Austerlitz, and the
courtiers were relieved from their difficulty. The architect had exactly
foreseen the number of emperors to come. Nostradamus himself could not
have done better.
After the town hall the most interesting place is the street of the
Jews. When the writer of these lines visited Frankfort for the first
time, some thirty years ago, there were still Jews and Austrians
there--real Jews, who hated Christians even as Shylock hated them, and
real Christians who hated Jews as did Torquemada.
This street consisted of two long rows of tall houses, black, gloomy,
sinister in aspect, closely crowded, looking as if they clung to each
other in terror. It was Saturday, which no doubt added to the gloom of
the street. Every door was closed, bastard little doors made to allow
only one person to pass at once. All the iron shutters were also closed.
No sound of voice, or step, or movement was heard; a look of anguish and
terror seemed spread over all these houses. Occasionally an old woman
with a hooked nose like an owl glided past and disappeared in a sort of
cellar or basement in this strange street. To-day all this is more
civilized and the houses have a more active and lively appearance.
The population of Frankfort consists of a historic bourgeoisie forming
the aristocracy of the Imperial town, the coronation town by right of
the Golden Bull. The chief families are those of the old nobility;
those of French extraction expatriated by the revocation of the Edict of
Nantes, and who by their intelligence and industry stand in the first
rank of society; thirdly, Italian families, in whom the feelings of race
have been stronger than religious differences, and who, although
Catholics by profession, have mingled with the French Protestants.
Finally the Jewish bankers, who naturally group themselves around the
house of Rothschild as being incontestably members of the same clan. All
are devoted to Austria, because to Austria the town owes its peculiar
position, the source of its wealth and independence, and all these
classes, though divided by race, language, and religion, are united by
their common affection for the House of Hapsburg--a love which perhaps
hardly attains to devotion, but which, in words at least, amounts to
One must not omit the suburb of Sachsenhausen, situated on the other
side of the Main, the colony founded by Charlemagne. Its inhabitants,
living closely together and only marrying among themselves, have
retained some of the roughness of the old Saxon character. This
roughness, contrasted with the growing politeness among other nations,
now seems to be absolute rudeness, but rudeness which is not
intentional. They are said to be ready in the use of the somewhat harsh,
but occasionally witty retorts, wherewith the weak sometimes retaliate
upon the strong. We can give two specimens of the rough speech of the
people of Sachsenhausen.
As is usual in the month of May, owing to the melting of the snow, the
Main was in flood. The Great Elector himself came to judge of the rise
of the water, and the damage it would probably cause. Meeting a man from
"Well," he asked, "is the Main still rising?"
"Well, idiot that you are!" replied the individual addressed, "can't you
see that for yourself?"
And the old Saxon went on, shrugging his shoulders. One of his comrades
ran after him:
"Do you know to whom it was you spoke?" he asked.
"No, I don't."
"Well, it was the Elector of Hesse himself."
"Thunder and lightning!" exclaimed the old man, "how glad I am I
answered him civilly!"
At the play one of these honest people leaned against the man sitting in
front of him; the latter moved away:
"Am I annoying you?" demanded the aggressor, "because if it were you who
annoyed me, I should give you a punch you would remember the rest of
Since 1815 Frankfort has been garrisoned by two detachments of fifteen
hundred to two thousand each, one Austrian, the other Prussian; the
former were much beloved; the latter equally, or even more, hated. A
Prussian officer was taking some friends to see the curiosities of
Frankfort. They arrived at the Dôme. There, among other votive
offerings, representations of hearts, hands, or feet, the sacristan
exhibited a mouse, made of silver.
"What was that for?" some one asked.
"Through the divine wrath," answered the sacristan, "a whole quarter of
Frankfort once found itself eaten up by swarms of mice. In vain they
fetched all the cats of the other quarters, all the terriers, bulldogs,
every sort of animal that can kill a mouse; the plague increased. At
last a devout lady thought of having a silver mouse made and dedicated
to the Virgin as a votive gift. At the end of a week not a mouse was to
And as the listeners were somewhat astonished when they heard this
"What fools these Frankforters are!" said the Prussian, "to tell tales
of that kind and believe them!"
"We tell them," said the sacristan, "but we do not believe them. If we
did we should have made a silver Prussian and offered him to the Virgin
It is to be remembered that our friend Lenhart, Benedict's coachman, was
a citizen of the Sachsenhausen colony.
Since the Schleswig-Holstein troubles, the Diet had always assembled at
Frankfort on June 9th, this year that date was the day after the
attempted assassination of Bismarck on which Benedict drank to the
health of France. The Diet, knowing of the mobilization of the Landwehr
and the dissolution of the Chamber, decreed that, if Frankfort were not
to be compromised in its position as a free and imperial town in the
various events which would necessarily follow a war between Prussia and
Austria, the Prussian and Austrian garrisons must be withdrawn, and
replaced by a Bavarian garrison.
It was agreed that Bavaria should appoint the commander-in-chief, and
Frankfort the governor of the town. The Bavarian Colonel Lessel, who had
been for many years member of the federated military commission for
Bavaria, was appointed commander-in-chief, and the lieutenant-colonel of
the Frankfort battalion became governor of the town.
The departure of the Prussian and Austrian troops was fixed for June
12th, and it was decided that the Prussians should leave by two special
trains on the Main-Weser line, at six and eight in the morning, for
Wetzlar, and the Austrians at three in the afternoon of the same day.
This arrangement was known in Frankfort on the 9th, and as may be
understood, filled the Chandroz house with despair. Emma would be
separated from her husband and Helen from her lover.
We have said that the Prussians were to leave first. At five in the
morning Frederic said farewell to his wife, his child, his dear sister
Helen, and the grandmother. It was too early for Karl von Freyberg to be
in the house at that hour; but he waited for his friend on the Zeil. He
and Helen had agreed the evening before that after having seen Frederic
off Karl should come back and wait for her in the little Catholic church
of Notre Dame de la Croix.
The harmony between the two young people was perfect. Helen and Karl,
though born in two different countries hundreds of leagues apart, were
both Catholics. Doubtless they had selected this early hour, because
they knew the little liking the people of Frankfort had for the
Prussians. No manifestation of regret was shown on the departure of the
latter, perhaps they were watched through the closed shutters, but not a
window or blind opened for a flower to fall which might say "Au revoir,"
no waving handkerchief said "Farewell!"
One would have sworn it was a troop of the enemy leaving a town, and the
town itself seemed only to wait for their departure in order to wake up
and rejoice. Only the officers of the city battalion came to the station
courteously to see them off, wishing nothing better than soon to fight
them with deadly hate.
Frederic left by the second train at eight o'clock in the morning,
consequently Karl was late and it was Helen who waited for him. She was
standing by the holy water stoup leaning against a white pillar. She
smiled sadly when she saw Karl, gently dipped two fingers in the holy
water and held them towards him. Karl took her whole hand, and made the
sign of the cross with it.
Never had the beautiful girl looked so lovely as at this moment when
Karl was going to be parted from her. She had scarcely slept all night;
all the rest of the time she had wept and prayed. She was dressed in
white like a bride, with a wreath of little white roses on her head.
They went together, Karl with Helen's hand in his, to kneel in one of
the side chapels where Helen was accustomed to pray. Almost all the
ornaments in the chapel, from the altar cloth to the Virgin's dress,
were the work of her hand alone, and the Madonna's gold and pearl crown
had been her gift. They prayed together; then Karl said:
"We are going to part, Helen; what vows shall I make you? and in what
words shall they be made?"
"Karl," replied Helen, "tell me again before the beloved Madonna who has
watched over me in childhood and youth, tell me again that you will love
me always, and that you will have no other wife but me."
Karl quickly extended his hand.
"Ah! yes," he said, "and willingly! for I have always loved you. I love
you now, and I shall love you always. Yes, you shall be my wife in this
world and in the next, here and above!"
"Thank you," said Helen; "I have given you my heart, and with my heart,
my life. You are the tree, and I am the creeper; you are the trunk and I
am the ivy which covers you with its verdure. At the moment when I first
saw you, I said with Juliet: 'I will belong to you or to the tomb.'"
"Helen," cried the young man, "why link that dismal word with such a
But she, not listening, continued her thought:
"I ask no other vow than that which you have sworn, Karl; it is the
repetition of mine; keep yours as it is; but when I have said that I
will love you always, that I will never love any one but you, and that I
will never be another's, let me add: and, if you die, I will die with
"Helen, my love, what are you saying?" exclaimed the young man.
"I say, my Karl, that since my heart has left my bosom, to dwell in
yours, you have become all that I think of, all I live for; and that if
anything happened to you, I should not need to kill myself, I should
only have to let myself die. I know nothing of these royal quarrels,
which seem to me wicked, because they cost the blood of men and tears of
women. I only know that it matters not to me whether Francis Joseph or
William I is victorious. I live, if you live I die, if you die."
"Helen, do you wish to drive me mad, that you say these terrible
"No, I only wish you to know, when you are absent, what is happening to
me, and if, when far from me, you are mortally wounded, instead of
saying: 'I shall never see her again!' you must simply say: 'I am going
to meet her!' And I say this as truly and sincerely as I lay this wreath
at the feet of my beloved Virgin."
And she took her wreath of white roses and laid it at the Virgin's feet.
"And now," she continued, "my vow is made, I have said what I had to
say. To stay here now, to speak longer of love would be sacrilege. Come,
Karl; you go this afternoon at two o'clock, but my sister, my
grandmother, and Frederic will permit you to remain with me till then."
They rose again, offered each other the holy water and left the church.
The young girl took Karl's arm for from that moment she considered
herself as his wife. But with the same feeling of respect which made
him take off his kolbach when he entered the church, he only allowed her
hand to lie lightly on his arm all the way from Nôtre Dame de la Croix
until they reached the house.
The day was passed in intimate conversation. On the day when he had
asked Helen which were her favourite colours and she had answered green,
he had made a resolution which he now explained to her. This was what he
wished to do.
He would ask his colonel for eight days' leave; surely fighting would
not begin for eight days. It would take him scarcely twenty hours to
reach his mountains, where he was king. There, besides the twenty-two
rangers always in his service he would select seventy-eight chosen men
from the best Styrian hunters. They should wear the uniform he himself
wore when hunting, he would arm them with the best rifles he could find,
then he would give in his resignation as captain in the Lichtenstein
Light Infantry, and ask the emperor to appoint him captain of his free
company. An excellent shot himself, at the head of a hundred men
renowned for their smartness, he could hope for results which, when
buried in a regiment under the orders of a colonel there would be no
possibility of his attaining.
There would also be another advantage in this arrangement. As the head
of a free regiment, Karl would have liberty of movement. In such a case
he would not be attached to any special regiment. He would be able to
fight on his own account, doing all possible harm to the enemy, but only
answerable to the emperor. He would thus be able to remain near
Frankfort, the only town which now existed for him in the world, since
in this town lived Helen. The heart exists not where it beats, but where
According to the Prussian plan of campaign which was to envelop Germany
as in a half-circle, hurling king, grand-dukes, princes, and peoples one
on the top of another while marching from west to east, there would
certainly be fighting in Hesse, in the duchy of Baden, and in Bavaria,
all near Frankfort. It was there that Karl would fight; and with good
spies he could always ascertain where his brother-in-law was likely to
be and so avoid the risk of meeting him.
In the midst of all these plans, for which unfortunately they could not
enlist the aid of Fortune, time was flying. The clock struck two.
At two o'clock the Austrian officers and soldiers were to assemble in
the courtyard of the Carmelite barracks. Karl kissed the baroness and
the child lying in its cradle beside her; then he went with Helen to
kneel before her grandmother and ask her blessing.
The dear old lady wept to see them so sad; she laid her hands upon their
heads wishing to bless them, but her voice broke. They both rose, and
stood mute before her; silent tears flowed down their cheeks. She pitied
"Helen," she said, "I kissed your grandfather when I bade him farewell,
and I see no reason against your granting poor Karl the same favour."
The young people threw themselves into each other's arms, and their
grandmother, under pretext of wiping away a tear, turned away, leaving
them free for their last kiss.
Helen had long sought for some means of seeing Karl again, after leaving
the house where he had been permitted to take his last farewell. She had
not succeeded, when suddenly she remembered that the burgomaster
Fellner, her sister's godfather, had windows overlooking the station.
She asked her good grandmother to come with her to ask her old friend
for a place in his window. Women who remain beautiful when growing old
generally keep a young heart: the kind grandmother consented. So it was
only a goodbye of the lips which the young people had already said;
there remained a last adieu of the eyes and heart.
Hans was ordered to bring round the carriage without delay; while Karl
went to the Carmelite barracks. Helen would have time on her part to go
to the burgomaster Fellner. Helen made a sign to Hans to hurry, but he
replied with another that it was unnecessary. She then glanced again at
Karl, he had never seemed so handsome as at this moment when about to
leave her. She came down leaning on his arm, in order not to leave him
until they reached the threshold, the last moment possible. Once there,
a last kiss sealed their separation and pledged their vows.
A hussar waited for his captain at the door, holding his horse; Karl
saluted Helen once again, then galloped off, sparks flying from under
his horse's hoofs: he was more than a quarter of an hour late.
The instant he had gone, Hans came with the carriage; in another moment
they were at Herr Fellner's.
Frankfort was now a very different town to what it had been in the
morning. We have told of the sombre and sad departure of the Prussians,
who were detested there. The citizens now wished to give a friendly
farewell to the Austrians, who were adored.
Therefore, although the departure was a separation, and each separation
may hide the invisible and hide also a coming grief, this departure was
to be made a farewell fête. The windows were all draped with Austrian
flags, and at each window where floated a flag might be seen the
prettiest women of Frankfort with bouquets in their hands. The streets
which led to the station were crammed with people until one asked how
the regiment could pass. In the street leading to the station, the
Frankfort regiment stood at attention, each soldier with the stock of
his rifle between his feet, and a bouquet in the muzzle of it.
The crowd was so great that Helen was obliged to get out of the
carriage. At last she reached the house of Herr Fellner, who, although
not formally advised of the engagement of his young friend, had noticed
that Captain Freyberg was not indifferent to her. His two daughters and
his wife received Helen and her grandmother at the door of their
apartments. They formed a charming family, living with Herr Fellner's
sister and brother-in-law, who had no children.
In the days of peace and happiness at Frankfort, Herr Fellner and his
brother-in-law received their friends twice every week. Any strangers of
distinction passing through were sure to be made welcome by Herr
Fellner. It was at his house that Benedict Turpin had met the Baroness
Frederic von Bülow, a meeting which as we have seen he did not forget.
At three o'clock precisely, they heard in the midst of cries, hurrahs,
and acclamations, the trumpets of the regiment, which was coming to the
station by the Zeil and the street of All Saints, playing Radetzky's
It might have been said that the whole population of Frankfort was
following the splendid regiment. Men waved flags from the windows above
them; women threw them their bouquets, and then waved their
handkerchiefs with those cries of enthusiasm which women only know how
to utter on such occasions.
Helen had recognized Karl, as soon as he turned the corner, and Karl had
answered her waving handkerchief by saluting with his sabre. When he
passed under the window she threw him a scabious bound up with
forget-me-nots. The scabious meant "sorrow and desolation," and the
forget-me-not "Do not forget me."
Karl caught the flowers in his kolbach and fastened them on his breast.
Still turning to look back, his eyes never left Helen until the moment
when he entered the station. At length he disappeared.
Helen leaned far out of the window. Herr Fellner put his arm round her
waist and drew her back within the room. Seeing the tears that flowed
from her eyes and divining their cause:
"With the help of God, dear child," he said, "he will return."
Helen escaped from his arms, and threw herself on a sofa, endeavouring
to hide her tears in the cushions.
AUSTRIANS AND PRUSSIANS
Desbarolles says in his book on Germany:
"It is impossible to talk for three minutes with an Austrian without
wishing to shake hands with him. It is impossible to talk for three
minutes with a Prussian without longing to quarrel with him."
Does this difference in the two organizations spring from temperament,
education, or the degree of latitude? We cannot say; but it is a fact
that along the whole way from Ostrow to Oderburg, we know when we have
left Austria and entered Prussia by the way in which the porters bang
the carriage doors. This double impression is particularly evident at
Frankfort, a town of gentle manners, cultivated habits, and amateur
bankers; the country of Goethe has appreciated this difference between
the extreme civilization of Vienna and the rough Protestant shell of
We have seen the different demonstrations of feeling at the departure of
the two garrisons; the people of Frankfort not having the least doubt of
the result of the war, and believing, after the conclusions of the Diet,
in the superiority of the Austrian arms, which would be aided by all the
little States of the Confederation. They had not cared to put the least
restraint on the manifestation of their feelings; they allowed the
Prussians to depart like vanquished enemies whom they would never see
again, and they had, on the contrary, fêted the Austrians like
victorious brothers, for whom if they had had the time, they would have
made triumphal arches.
The good burgomaster's drawing-room, where we have introduced our
readers, was at noon on June 12th an exact and complete specimen of all
the other drawing-rooms of the town, whatever the origin, country or
religion of the inhabitants might chance to be.
Thus, while Helen, with whose grief all sympathized, wept, keeping her
face buried in the cushions, and her good grandmother left the window to
sit beside her and hide her somewhat from view, Councillor Fischer,
editor of the "Post Zeitung," was writing on a corner of the table, an
article in which he compared with undisguised antipathy and sympathy,
the departure of the Prussians to a nocturnal flight, and that of the
Austrians to a triumphal leave-taking.
In front of the fireplace, the Senator von Bernus, one of the most
distinguished men in Frankfort, by ability, education, and birth, was
talking with his colleague, Doctor Speltz, Chief of Police, who, owing
to the position which he held, was always well informed. A slight
difference rather than a discussion had arisen between them. Herr Doctor
Speltz did not completely agree with the opinion of the majority of the
town's people as to the certain victory of the Austrians. His private
information, as Chief of Police, was of the kind which may be relied on,
and which is obtained, not to help the opinions of others, but to form
one's own, and it represented the Prussian troops as full of enthusiasm,
admirably armed, and burning with desire for battle. Their two generals,
Frederick Charles of Prussia and the Crown Prince, were both able to
command and to execute, and their rapidity and courage no one could
"But," observed Herr von Bernus, "Austria has an excellent army which is
animated with an equal spirit; it was beaten at Palestro, at Magenta,
and at Solferino, it is true, but by the French, who also beat the
Prussians at Jena."
"My dear von Bernus," replied Speltz, "it is a far cry from the
Prussians of Jena to the Prussians of to-day; the miserable state into
which the Emperor Napoleon reduced them, by only allowing them to put
forty thousand men under arms for six years, was the providential cause
of their strength; for with this reduced army the officers and
administrators could superintend the smallest details and bring them as
near as possible to perfection. From this has grown the Landwehr."
"Well," said von Bernus, "if the Prussians have the Landwehr, the
Austrians have the Landsturm; all the Austrian population will rise in
"Yes, if the first battles are unsuccessful; yes, if there is a chance
that by rising they can repel the Prussians. But three-quarters of the
Prussian army are armed with needle guns which fire eight or ten shots a
minute. The time is past when, as said Marshal Saxe, the rifle is only
the handle of the bayonet; and of whom did he say that? Was it not the
French, a fiery and warlike nation, not methodical and military like the
Austrians. You know, mein Gott, victory is an entirely moral question;
to inspire the enemy with an unaccountable fear is the secret.
Generally, when two regiments meet, one of them runs without having ever
come to grips with the enemy. If the new guns, with which the Prussians
are armed, do their work, I am very much afraid that the terror in
Austria will be so great that the Landsturm, from Königsgrätz to
Trieste, from Salzburg to Pest, will not raise a man."
"Psst!... my dear friend, you have named the real stumbling block; if
the Hungarians were with us, my hope would be a conviction. The
Hungarians are the nerve of the Austrian army, and one can say of them
what the ancient Romans said of the Marsi; 'What are we to do, either
against the Marsi or without the Marsi?' But the Hungarians will not
fight until they have their separate government, their constitution, and
their three ministers, and they are right. For one hundred and fifty
years Hungary has been promised that constitution, it has been given and
withdrawn again, and now Hungary is angry; but the emperor has only one
word to say, one signature to write, and the whole nation would rise for
him. Then the Szozat would be heard, and in three days they would have a
hundred thousand men under arms."
"What is the Szozat?" asked a big man, who kept a whole window to
himself, and whose expansive face testified to great commercial
prosperity. He was, indeed, the first wine merchant of Frankfort,
"The Szozat," said Fischer, still writing his article, "is the Hungarian
Marseillaise by the poet Vœrœsmarti. What the deuce are you doing
there, Fellner?" he added, lifting his glasses to his forehead and
looking at the burgomaster, who was playing with his two youngest
"I am doing something much more important than your article, councillor,
I am making a village, of which Master Edward is to be the baron, with
some houses I got in a box from Nuremburg."
"What does baron mean?" asked the child.
"That is a difficult question. To be a baron is much and it is nothing.
It is much if you are called 'Montmorency.' It is nothing if you are
called 'Rothschild.'" And he went back seriously to his village.
"It is said," went on von Bernus to Doctor Speltz, taking up the
conversation where they had left it before Hermann Mumm's interruption,
"that the Emperor of Austria has named General Benedek as General in
Chief with all powers."
"The nomination was discussed in the council and signed yesterday."
"Do you know him?"
"It seems to me a good choice."
"May God grant it."
"Benedek is a self-made man, he has won every step sword in hand. The
army will love him better than it would love an archduke made
field-marshal by right of birth."
"You will laugh at me, von Bernus, and will say I am a bad republican.
Very well, I would rather have an archduke than this self-made man as
you call him. Yes, if all our officers were self-made men, it would be
admirable, because, if none knew how to command, they would at least
know how to obey: as it is, our officers are nobles, who are officers by
position or by favour. They will not obey, or will only obey such a
commander unwillingly. Further, you know, I have the misfortune to be a
fatalist, and to believe in the influence of the stars. General Benedek
is a Saturnian. May Austria escape his fatal influence! He may have
patience in a first loss, resolution against a second perhaps; but in a
third he will lose his head and be good for nothing.
"Also, do you not see that there cannot be two equally Great Powers in
Germany. Germany, with Prussia in the north, and Austria in the south,
has two heads like the Imperial Eagle. Now, he who has two heads has
not even one. Last winter I was at Vienna on New Year's Day. Always, on
January 1st a new standard is raised on the fortress. The Standard for
1866 was displayed at six in the morning. A moment afterwards a furious
storm, such as I have seldom seen, came from the north, the Standard was
torn, and the rent cut off the two heads of the Eagle. Austria will lose
her supremacy both in Italy and Germany."
A profound gloom as of painful foreboding seemed to have spread over the
company. The only person unaffected was "Baron" Edward, who, while
anxiously considering as to in which corner of his village he should put
the belfry, had fallen fast asleep.
Herr Fellner rang three times, and a beautiful peasant from Baden,
answering the signal, came in and took the child. She was carrying him
away asleep in her arms, when Herr Fellner, wishing to change the
subject, motioned to the company.
"Listen!" he said, and putting his hand on the nurse's shoulder.
"Linda," he said, "sing us that song with which the Baden mothers sing
their children to sleep." Then, turning to the others he said:
"Gentlemen, listen to this song, which is still sung low in the Duchy of
Baden. Perhaps, in a few days, the time may have come to sing it aloud.
Linda learnt it from her mother, who sang it over her brother's cradle.
Their father was shot by the Prussians in 1848. Now Linda, sing as your
Linda put her foot on a chair, holding the child in her arms as if she
were pressing it to her breast and covering it with her body. Then, with
anxious eyes, in a low and trembling voice, she sang:
Sleep soft, my child, without a cry,
For hark! the Prussian passeth by.
The Prussian slew thy father dear
And robbed thy mother of gold and gear
The Prussian he will close thine eye.
Sleep soft, my child, without a cry,
For hark! the Prussian passeth by.
All bloody is the Prussian's hand
It closes on our dying land.
So must we all lie still and dumb
As doth thy father in his tomb.
Sleep soft, my child, without a cry,
For hark! the Prussian passeth by.
God knows how many a weary day
We wait the dawning of that ray
Those blessed radiance shall restore
Our liberty to us once more.
Sleep soft, my child, without a cry,
For hark! the Prussian passeth by.
But when that longed for hour shall come,
However narrow be his tomb,
His foes within that grave so deep
Shall share for aye thy father's sleep.
Then shout, my child, shout loud and high,
The Prussian in his grave doth lie.
The nurse had sung this song with such expression, that a shudder passed
over the hearts of those who listened, and none thought of applauding.
She went out with the child in a profound silence.
Only Helen murmured in her grandmother's ear: "Alas! alas! Prussia means
Frederic, and Austria means Karl!"
THE DECLARATION OF WAR
On June 15th, at eleven in the morning, Count Platen of Hallermund,
presented himself to the King of Hanover. They had conversed for some
minutes when the king said:
"I must tell this news to the queen. Wait for me here; I will come back
in a quarter of an hour."
Within the palace King George required no guide. Queen Mary was engaged
upon a piece of wool work with the young princesses. Seeing her husband
she went to him and offered him her forehead to kiss. The princesses
took possession of their father's hands.
"See," said the king, "this is what our cousin the King of Prussia does
us the honour to communicate through his First Minister." The queen took
the paper and began to read. "Stay," said the king, "I want to call
One of the princesses hurried to the door.
"Prince Ernest," she cried to the usher.
Five minutes after the prince came in, embraced his father and sisters,
and kissed his mother's hand.
"Listen to what your mother is going to read," said the usher to him.
The Minister Bismarck in the name of his master offered to Hanover an
offensive and defensive alliance, on the condition that Hanover should
support Prussia to the utmost of its power with men and soldiers and
should give the command of its army to King William. The dispatch added
that if this pacific proposal were not immediately accepted the King of
Prussia would consider himself as in a state of war with Hanover.
"Well?" asked the king of his wife.
"No doubt," she replied, "the king has already decided in his wisdom
what is best to do; but, if he has not finally decided and such a
feature as the opinion of a woman is considered to be as a weight in the
balance, I would say to you, refuse, sire!"
"Oh yes, yes, sire!" cried the young prince, "refuse!"
"I thought it right to consult you both," replied the king, "partly
because of your upright and loyal natures, partly because your interests
are one with mine."
"Refuse, father: the prediction must be fulfilled to the end."
"What prediction?" asked the king.
"You forget, sire, that the first word which Benedict said to you was
this: 'You will be betrayed by your near relation.' You are betrayed by
your German cousin; why should he be wrong about the rest since he was
right at the beginning?"
"You know that he has predicted our downfall?"
"Yes, but after a great victory. We are little kings, it is true; but we
are, on the English side, great princes, let us act greatly."
"That is your opinion, Ernest?"
"That is my prayer, sire," said the young prince, bowing.
The king turned to his wife and interrogated her by a movement of his
"Go, my dear," said she, "and follow your own thought, which is ours
"But," said the king, "if we are obliged to leave Hanover, what will
happen to you and the two princesses?"
"We will stay where we are, sire, in our castle of Herrenhausen. After
all, the King of Prussia is my cousin, and if our crown is in danger
through him, our lives are not. Summon your council, sire, and take with
you the two voices which say to you: 'Not only no treason against
others, but above all no treason against our honour!'"
The king called a council of his ministers, who unanimously voted for
At midnight Count Platen replied verbally to the Prince of Issemburg,
who had brought the proposal.
"His Majesty the King of Hanover declines the proposals of His Majesty
the King of Prussia; as he is constrained to do by the laws of the
This reply was instantly telegraphed to Berlin.
Immediately upon the receipt of the reply, another telegram from Berlin
ordered the troops concentrated at Minden to enter Hanover. A
quarter-of-an-hour later, the Prussian troops set foot over the borders
A quarter-of-an-hour had sufficed for Prussia to receive the reply and
to order the opening of the campaign. Already the Prussian troops from
Holstein, who had obtained permission from His Majesty the King of
Hanover to cross his territory in order to get to Minden, had stationed
themselves at Marbourg, and were thus in occupation, within the kingdom,
as enemies, even before the king's decision.
Moreover, King George had only held back his answer until the evening in
order to secure time for taking measures himself. Orders had been given
to the different regiments of the Hanoverian army to mobilize and
assemble at Göttingen. The intention of the king was to manœuvre so
as to obtain the assistance of the Bavarian army.
Towards eleven at night, Prince Ernest had asked permission of Queen
Mary to take leave of her and at the same time to present to her his
friend Benedict. The real object of the young prince was to get his
mother to entrust her hand to the palmist, and to be reassured by him as
to the dangers which might encompass the queen.
The queen received her son with a kiss, and the Frenchman with a smile.
Prince Ernest explained his wish to her. She readily granted his request
and held out her hand. Benedict knelt on one knee and respectfully put
his lips to the tips of her fingers.
"Sir," she said, "in the circumstances in which we are placed, it is not
my good- but my ill-fortune that I wish you to tell me."
"If you see misfortunes before you, madam, I may be permitted to seek in
yourself the powers which Providence has given you to resist them. Let
us hope that the resistance will be stronger than the strife."
"A woman's hand is feeble, sir, when it has to struggle against that of
"The hand of destiny is brute force, madam; your hand is intelligent
force. Look, here is a very long first joint to the thumb."
"What does that mean?" asked, the queen.
"Will power, Majesty. Your resolution once taken, reason alone can
conquer you and make you change--danger, accident, persecution, never."
The queen smiled and nodded approvingly.
"Also, you can bear to hear the truth, madam. Yes, a great misfortune
The queen started. Benedict went on quickly.
"But, calm yourself, it is neither the death of the king, nor of the
prince: the line of life is magnificently marked, on their hands. No,
the danger is entirely political. Look at the line of fate: it is broken
here, above the line of Mars, which shows from what direction the storm
will come; then this line of fate, which might dominate again if it
stopped at the circle of the middle finger, that is, at the circle of
Saturn, goes on, on the contrary, to the base of the first finger, a
sign of ill-fortune."
"God tries every one according to the rank he holds. We will endeavour
to bear our ill-fortune like Christians if we cannot bear it like
"Your hand has answered me before you, madam; the Mount of Mars is
smooth and without lines, the Mount of the Moon is smooth and even; it
means resignation, madam, the first of all the virtues. With this power
Diogenes broke his porringer; with this, Socrates smiled at death; with
this, the poor man is a king, the king is a god! With resignation and
calm any strong feeling shown in the hand, worthily developed may
replace the line of Saturn and create a new good fortune. But there will
be a long struggle first. That struggle presents strange signs. I see in
your hand, madam, auguries opposed to each other; a prisoner without a
prison, wealth without riches: an unhappy queen, a happy wife, and a
happy mother. The Lord will try you, madam, but as a daughter whom He
loves. For the rest, you will have every kind of resource, madam; first
music, next painting; the pointed and slim fingers show that; religion,
poetry, invention, two princesses who love you at your side, a king and
a prince who love you from a distance. God tempers the wind to the
freshly shorn lamb."
"Yes, sir, shorn to the quick," murmured the queen, raising her eyes to
heaven. "After all, perhaps the misfortunes of this world will secure
the joys of another. In this case, I shall be not only resigned, but
Benedict bowed like a man who, having accomplished what was required of
him, only awaits his dismissal.
"Have you a sister, sir?" asked the queen of Benedict, as she toyed with
a string of pearls, fastened by a clasp of diamonds, which evidently
belonged to one of the young princesses.
"No, madam," replied Benedict, "I am alone in the world."
"Then do me the pleasure to accept this turquoise for yourself. I am not
making you a present; under that guise it would be worthless. No! it is
an amulet which I offer you. You know that we people of the north have a
superstition that turquoises bring good luck. Keep this as a remembrance
Benedict bowed, received the turquoise ring and put it on the little
finger of his left hand. While he did this the queen called Prince
Ernest to her, and took up a satchel of perfumed leather.
"My son," said she, "we know the place which the exile's first step
leaves, but not that at which his last will pause. This satchel contains
500,000 francs worth of pearls and diamonds. If I wished to give them to
the king, he would refuse to take them."
"But to you, Ernest, I have the right to say _I wish it_! I wish you,
dear child, to take this satchel as a last resource, to bribe a gaoler
if you are made prisoner; to reward devotion--who knows--perhaps for the
personal needs of the king or yourself. Hang it round your neck, put it
in your belt; but in all cases, keep it always upon you. I embroidered
it with my own hands; it bears your own monogram. Hush! here is your
At this moment the king came in.
"There is not a minute to spare, we must be off," said, he, "Ten minutes
ago the Prussians entered Hanover."
The king embraced the queen and his daughters; and Prince Ernest, his
mother and sisters. Then, clinging together, king, queen, prince,
princesses, went down the steps before which the horses were waiting.
There took place the last adieus: there, tears flowed from the eyes of
the most valiant, as well as from those of the most resigned. The king
set an example by mounting his horse first.
The prince and Benedict rode two horses exactly alike, which were of the
beautiful Hanoverian race, crossed with an English strain. An English
carbine, which would send a pointed bullet four thousand yards, hung at
the saddle-bow; and a pair of double-barrelled pistols, as true as
duelling pistols, rested in the holsters.
A last farewell passed between the riders already in the saddle and the
queen and princesses on the steps. Then the cavalcade, preceded by two
scouts bearing torches, started at a quick trot.
A quarter-of-an-hour later they were in Hanover. Benedict proceeded to
the Royal Hotel to settle his account with Mr. Stephen. Every one was
up, for the news of the invasion of the Prussians and the departure of
the king had already spread. As for Lenhart, he was invited to join the
main body of the army with his vehicle. The rendezvous, as we know, was
at Göttingen. As Lenhart was greatly attached to the dog Frisk, Benedict
did not hesitate to entrust it to his care.
A deputation of the notabilities of the town, with the burgomaster at
their head, waited on the king to bid him farewell. The king, his voice
full of emotion, commended his wife and daughters to their care. There
was but one voice in assuring him of their devotion. The whole town was
abroad notwithstanding the hour of the night, and accompanied him,
shouting 'Long live the king! Long live George V! May he return
victorious!' Again the king commended the queen and the princesses, not
now to the deputation, but to the whole population. The king entered the
royal carriage amid a concert of tears and sobs. One would have said
that every daughter had just lost a father, every mother a son, every
sister a brother. Women crowded to the door of his carriage to kiss his
hand. The locomotive had to whistle five or six times, and the signal
had five or six times to be repeated, before the crowd could be detached
from the carriage doors. At last the train had to be put into motion so
as to shake off gently and almost imperceptibly the clusters of men and
women who clung to it.
Two hours later Göttingen was reached.
THE BATTLE OF LANGENSALZA
Two days after, the army, drawn from all parts of the kingdom, was
assembled round the king.
Among others the regiment of the Queen's Hussars commanded by Colonel
Hallelt, had remained thirty-six hours on horseback, and had been
marching for thirty-six hours.
The king was lodged at the Crown Inn. This inn was on the line of march,
and as each regiment of cavalry or infantry arrived, the king, warned by
the music, went to the balcony and passed it in review. They filed one
after another past the inn, flowers on their helmets, and cries of
enthusiasm on their lips. Göttingen, the town of study, shuddered every
instant, roused by the cheering warriors.
All the old soldiers on leave, whom there had not been time to recall,
came of their own accord to rejoin their flag. All of them felt
joyously, bringing with them from their villages and all along their
routes a large number of recruits. Lads of fifteen gave their ages as
sixteen in order to be enlisted.
On the third day they started. During this time the Prussians, on their
side, had manœuvred. General Manteuffel from Hamburg, General von
Rabenhorst from Minden, and General Beyer from Wetzlar were approaching
Göttingen and enclosing the Hanoverian army in a triangle.
The simplest rules of strategy prescribed the union of the Hanoverian
army, sixteen thousand strong, with the Bavarian, eighty thousand
strong. The king, in consequence, had sent out couriers to Charles of
Bavaria, brother of the old King Louis, who ought to have been in the
valley of the Werra, to warn him, in entering Prussia and crossing
Mulhausen, that he should proceed towards Eisenach. He added that he was
followed closely by three or four Prussian regiments, who, united, would
make twenty or twenty-five thousand men.
They arrived at Eisenach, by way of Verkirchen. Eisenach, defended by
only two Prussian battalions, was about to be carried at the point of
the bayonet, when a courier arrived from the Duke of Gotha, on whose
territory they were, bringing a dispatch from the duke.
The dispatch announced that an armistice was arranged. The duke, in
consequence, summoned the Hanoverians to retire. Unfortunately, as it
came from a prince, the message was received without suspicion. The
vanguard halted and took up its quarters where it was.
Next day, Eisenach was occupied by a regiment of the Prussian army. A
great deal of time and many men had been lost in taking Eisenach, a
useless manœuvre: and they resolved to leave Eisenach on the right
and to proceed to Gotha. In order to put this project into execution,
the army concentrated on Langensalza.
In the morning the king left, having on his left Major Schweppe, who
held the sovereign's horse by invisible reins. The Prince Royal was on
his right, having with him Count Platen, the first minister, and in the
various uniforms of their regiments or of their calling, Count Wedel,
Major von Kohlrausch, Herr von Klenck, Captain von Einem, various
cuirassiers of the Guard, and Herr Meding. The cortège left Langensalza
very early, and went to Thannesbruck.
Benedict rode near the prince, fulfilling the functions of a staff
The army had left its cantonments in order to proceed to Gotha: but at
ten in the morning, the vanguard, as it arrived on the banks of the
Unstrut, was attacked by two Prussian regiments, commanded by the
Generals Flies and Seckendorff. They were able to mount nearly a
thousand men, both troops of the guard and _landwehr_.
Among these regiments of the guard was that of Queen Augusta, one of the
élite. The rapidity of the Prussian fire showed at once that they must
be armed, at least the greater part of them, with quick-firing rifles.
The king put his horse to the gallop in order to arrive as soon as
possible on the spot where the battle had begun. The little village of
Merscleben was on a hill to the left: behind the village, on higher
ground than the Prussian artillery posts, they placed four batteries
which at once opened fire.
The king desired to be informed of the disposition of the field. In
front of him, running to the right and left was the Unstrut and its
marshes; then a great thicket, or rather, a wood called Badenwaeldschen;
and behind the Unstrut, upon the steep slope of the mountain, the
Prussian masses advancing, preceded by formidable artillery which fired
as it came.
"Is there a higher point whence I can direct the battle?" asked the
"There is a hill half a kilometre from the Unstrut, but it is under the
fire of the enemy."
"That is the place for me," said the king. "Come, gentlemen."
"Pardon, sire," said the prince, "but half a gun-shot away from the hill
where Your Majesty wishes to establish your camp, there is a sort of
wood of alders and aspens stretching to the river. We must search that
"Order fifty skirmishers to go down to the river."
"That will be unnecessary, sire," said Benedict, "there is no need for
more than one man for that."
And he went off at a gallop, crossed the wood in every direction and
"There is no one there, sire," said he, saluting.
The king put his horse to the gallop and posted himself on the top of
the little hill. His horse was the only white one, and served as a
target for bullets and balls. The king wore his uniform as general of
the forces, blue, turned up with red; the prince his uniform of the
hussars of the guard.
Battle was joined. The Prussians had driven back the Hanoverian
outposts, who had recrossed the river, and a hot cannonade was exchanged
between the Hanoverian artillery before Merscleben, and Prussians on the
other side of the Unstrut.
"Sire," said Benedict, "don't you fear that the Prussians will send men
to hold the wood which I searched just now, and will fire on the king as
at a target from its outskirts, only three hundred metres away?"
"What would you suggest?" asked the prince.
"I propose, monseigneur, to take fifty men and go to guard the wood. Our
fire will protect you as the enemy approach."
The prince exchanged a few words with the king, who nodded approvingly.
"Go," said Prince Ernest; "but for heaven's sake don't get killed."
Benedict showed the palm of his hand.
"Can a man be killed, who has a double line of life on his hand?"
And he galloped to the infantry of the line.
"Fifty good marksmen for me," said he in German.
A hundred presented themselves.
"Come," said Benedict, "we shall not be too many."
He left his horse with a hussar of the prince's regiment, and threw
himself into the underwood at the head of his men, who scattered. They
had scarcely disappeared among the trees, when a terrible fusillade
burst forth. Two hundred men had just passed the Unstrut; but, as they
were ignorant of the number of men following Benedict, they retreated
fighting, supposing him to have superior forces, and leaving a dozen
dead in the wood. Benedict guarded the bank of the Unstrut, and by a
well-sustained fire, kept off all approach.
The king had been recognized, the bullets whistled around him and even
between his horse's legs.
"Sire," said Major Schweppe, "perhaps it would be well to seek a place a
little further from the field of battle."
"Why so?" asked the king.
"The bullets may reach Your Majesty!"
"What does it matter! Am I not in the hands of the Lord?"
The prince came up to his father.
"Sire," said he, "the Prussians are advancing by great masses towards
Unstrut, despite our fire."
"What are the infantry doing?"
"They are marching to take the offensive."
"And--they march well?"
"As on parade, sire."
"The Hanoverian troops were once excellent troops; in Spain they held
the élite of the French troops in check. To-day, when they fight before
their king they will prove worthy of themselves, I trust."
And, in fact, all the Hanoverian infantry, formed in column, advanced
with the calm of veterans under the fire of the Prussian batteries.
After having been a moment astounded at the hail of bullets which the
muskets rained upon them, they continued their march, crossed the
marshes of Unstrut, took the thicket of Badenwaeldschen by bayonet and
struggled hand to hand with the enemy.
For a moment smoke and the unevenness of the ground hid the general
aspect of the battle. But at that moment a horseman was seen to emerge
from the smoke and to move towards the hill where the king was
stationed, riding in hot haste and mounted on the horse of a Prussian
officer. It was Benedict, who had killed the rider in order to take his
horse, and who was coming to say that the Prussians had commenced the
"Einem! Einem!" cried the king, "haste, order the cavalry to charge."
The captain hastened. He was a giant of over six feet, the most vigorous
and handsomest man in the army. He put his horse to the gallop, crying,
"Hurrah!" A minute afterwards, a sound like a hurricane was heard. It
was the cuirassiers of the guard charging.
It would be impossible to describe the enthusiasm of the men as they
passed the base of the hill, where stood the heroic king who wished to
be at the most dangerous post. Cries of "Long live the king! long live
George V! long live Hanover!" made the air tremble as in a tempest. The
horses tore up the earth like an earthquake.
Benedict could not restrain himself. He put his spurs to his horse and
disappeared in the ranks of the cuirassiers. Seeing the storm which was
bursting upon them, the Prussians formed into squares. The first which
encountered the Hanoverian cavalry disappeared under their horses' feet;
then, whilst the infantry fired in their faces, the cuirassiers took the
Prussian army on the flank, which, after a desperate struggle, tried to
retreat in order, but, ferociously pursued, found themselves routed.
The prince followed these movements with an excellent pair of field
glasses and described everything to the king, his father. But soon his
glasses followed only a group of fifty men, at the head of whom was
Captain Einem, whom he recognized by his great stature, and of whom
Benedict, recognizable by his blue uniform among the white cuirassiers,
was one. The squadron passed on by Nagelstadt and proceeded towards the
last Prussian battery which still held out. The battery fired on the
squadron from a distance of thirty yards. Everything vanished in the
smoke. Twelve or fifteen men alone remained; Captain Einem was lying
under his horse.
"Oh! poor Einem!" cried the prince.
"What has happened to him?" asked the king.
"I think he is dead," said the young man; "but no, he is not dead. There
is Benedict helping to drag him from under his horse. He is only
wounded. He is not even wounded! Oh, father, father! There are only
seven left out of fifty; only one artilleryman is left; he is aiming at
Einem, he is firing.... Oh, father! you are losing a brave officer, and
King William a brave soldier; the artilleryman has killed Einem with a
shot from his carbine, and Benedict has cut him down at his gun with his
The Prussian army was in full flight, the victory was with the
The Prussians retired to Gotha. The rapidity of the march to the field
of battle had so fatigued the Hanoverian cavalry that they could not
pursue the fugitives. In this respect the advantages of the battle were
The results were: eight hundred prisoners, two thousand dead or wounded,
two cannon taken.
The king rode round the field of battle to complete his task by showing
himself to the unhappy wounded.
Benedict had become an artist once more, and was dreaming of his
picture. He was seated on the first piece of cannon which had been
taken, and was sketching a general view of the battlefield. He saw that
the prince was searching among the killed and wounded officers of the
"Pardon, monseigneur," said he, "you are looking for the brave Captain
Einem, are you not?"
"Yes," said the prince.
"There, monseigneur, there, on your left, in the midst of that heap of
"Oh," said the prince, "I saw him doing miracles."
"Can you believe that after I had drawn him from under his horse, he
stabbed six with his sabre? Then he was hit for the first time and fell.
They thought he was dead, and threw themselves upon him. He raised
himself on one knee and killed two, who cried to him to surrender. Then
he stood upright and it was at that moment that the last surviving
artilleryman sent a ball into his forehead, which killed him. As I was
not able to save him, being too much occupied myself, I avenged him!"
Then, presenting his sketch to the prince as calmly as if in the studio:
"Do you think that is right?" he asked.
IN WHICH BENEDICT'S PREDICTION CONTINUES TO BE FULFILLED
The visit to the field of battle having been paid, the king followed the
highway and entered the town of Langensalza. He established his
headquarters in the sharpshooters' barracks. The major-general had given
orders that all should remain quiet during the night.
His Majesty's first care was to send by three different routes
despatches to the queen to tell her of the day's victory and to ask for
reinforcements, if not for the next day for the day after. And, as it
turned out, he had nothing to fear from the Prussians: they were too
thoroughly beaten not to wish for a day's rest.
The night was gay; money had been given to the soldiers, and they were
told to pay for everything they had. The bands played "God save the
King," and the soldiers sang in chorus,--a song by a Hanoverian
volunteer, to the Polish tune:
"A thousand soldiers swear on bended knee."
The next day was spent in waiting for news of the Bavarian army, and in
sending out couriers. The first came back with promises which were never
A truce until morning had been offered to the Prussians so that the dead
might be buried. The Prussians refused, and the Hanoverians alone
proceeded with this pious work. The soldiers dug great trenches 25 feet
long and 8 feet wide. The dead were placed in these in two rows. Four
thousand armed men led by the king and prince stood bare-headed while
Beethoven's funeral march was played. Over each grave a squadron passed
and fired a salute by way of military mourning. The municipal officers
who had come to thank the king for his orders to the soldiers, which had
been strictly carried out, were present at the ceremony.
At eleven in the evening the men who were on guard towards the north
announced that a large Prussian army was arriving by way of Mulhausen.
It proved to be General Manteuffel's.
The third day after the battle, the Hanoverian army had received no news
of the Bavarian army, and was surrounded by 30,000 men.
Towards midday, a lieutenant-colonel came with a flag of truce, from
General Manteuffel, to propose that the king should surrender.
The king replied that he knew perfectly well that he was hemmed in on
all sides, but that he, his son, his major-general, his officers, and
soldiers, from the highest to the lowest, preferred to die, unless an
honourable capitulation were offered them.
At the same time he called a council of war which declared unanimously
for a capitulation, as long as it was honourable. There was, indeed, no
choice. The army had only three hundred shells left, and rations for one
night and day. The whole court, the king included, had dined on a piece
of boiled beef and potatoes; the soup was given to the wounded. Every
man was allowed but one glass of bad beer.
Each article of the capitulation was discussed, so as to spin out the
delay as long as possible. The speedy arrival of the Bavarians was
still hoped for.
At length, during the night, the following conditions were drawn up,
between General Manteuffel for the King of Prussia, and General von
Arentschild for the King of Hanover.
The Hanoverian army was to be disbanded and the soldiers sent back to
their homes. All the officers and non-commissioned officers were to go
free. They were to retain their arms and equipments. The King of Prussia
was to guarantee their pay. The king, the prince, and their suite were
to be free to go wherever they wished. The king's private fortune was to
be intact and inviolable.
The capitulation being signed, General Manteuffel went to the king's
quarters. Entering his cabinet he said to him:
"I am sorry, sire, to present myself before Your Majesty in such sad
circumstances. We understand all that Your Majesty suffers, we Prussians
who have known Jena. I beg Your Majesty to tell me to what place you
wish to retire, and to give me my orders. It shall be my duty to see
that you suffer no inconvenience on your journey."
"Sir," replied the king coldly, "I do not know where I shall await the
finding of the congress which has to decide whether I shall remain king,
or become once more a simple English prince. Probably with my
father-in-law, the Duke of Saxe-Altenburg, or with His Majesty the
Emperor of Austria. In either case I have no need of your protection,
for which I thank you."
The same day the king's aide-de-camp left for Vienna, to ask permission
for his master to retire through the Austrian states. As soon as this
request reached Vienna, one of the emperor's aides-de-camp left to
serve as guide and escort to the king. This officer was the bearer of
the Marie-Thérèse medal for the king, and the order of knighthood for
On the same day, the king sent, as messengers to announce his arrival to
His Majesty the Emperor of Austria; Herr Meding, representing the
regency, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Herr von Platen, and the
Minister of War, Herr von Brandis.
The prince asked Benedict to accompany him. As Benedict had never seen
Vienna, he assented. But upon conditions. His life, as at Hanover, was
to be entirely independent of the court. He still had to arrange
Lenhart's business, which, as we know, had been left to Benedict's
discretion. Benedict had kept Lenhart for seventeen days. He now gave
him four hundred francs and one hundred more as a gratuity--an
unexampled generosity to which Lenhart replied by declaring his
attachment to the House of Hanover to be such that he would never return
to Brunswick from the moment when Brunswick became Prussian. This
declaration was worth two hundred francs to him from the King of
Hanover, and one hundred francs from the prince.
After this Lenhart's resolution was fixed. He sold, or had sold, all the
carriages and horses which he had at Brunswick and with the proceeds he
meant to set up a livery stable in Frankfort, a free town, where you
seldom see any Prussians. At Frankfort, his brother Hans was in service
with one of the best families in the town, that of Chandroz. Madame
Chandroz' daughter, the Baroness von Bülow, was the burgomaster's
goddaughter. With such connections he could be sure of prospering, and
Benedict promised him his custom in case he returned to Frankfort.
The adieux between Benedict and Lenhart were most affecting, and still
more so between Lenhart and Frisk, but they were forced to part.
Lenhart set out for Frankfort. The king, the prince, Benedict, and
Frisk, on their arrival at Vienna, took up their residence in the little
château of Frœhliche Wiederkehr, which means Happy Return.
In this way Benedict's prediction to the king was realized--of victory,
WHAT PASSED AT FRANKFORT BETWEEN THE BATTLES OF LANGENSALZA AND SADOWA
Frankfort followed from afar and with anxiety the struggle which went on
in the other parts of Germany. But she did not believe that that
struggle could reach even her. By June 29th Prince Charles of Bavaria
had been appointed general of the Federated Troops. On the same day
Frankfort heard the news of the victory of Langensalza. This caused
great joy throughout the town, though no one dared to show it. On June
30th Rudolfstadt and the Hanseatic towns declared that they withdrew
from the Confederation. The Würtemberg and Baden regiments were in the
town; the soldiers, in groups of four and five, went gaily about the
streets in hackney carriages. On July 1st, news came of the capitulation
of the Hanoverian Army. On July 3rd Mecklenburg, Gotha, and the younger
branch of Reuss declared that they withdrew from the Confederation. On
July 4th the Prussian papers accused the people of Frankfort of having
turned all Prussian subjects out of the town, even those who had been
established there for ten years, and of having illuminated their streets
on the news of the victory of Langensalza. They had not done so; but the
falser the charge, the more it frightened the people of Frankfort.
Evidently the Prussians were trying to pick a quarrel with them. On July
5th the gloom increased; news came of the defeat of the Austrians
between Königsgrätz and Josephstadt. On July 8th the first news of the
battle of Sadowa arrived in Frankfort.
Everything that that fatalist, Dr. Speltz, had said with regard to
Marshal Benedek came true. After two checks he lost his head; to speak
in the language of Herr Speltz, Saturn ruled above Mars and Jupiter.
What he had foreseen in another direction, about the superior equipment
of the Prussians--in conjunction with their natural courage--also came
true. In no single encounter had the Austrians the advantage. The only
victory gained over the Prussians was that when the King of Hanover had
been in command.
But what particularly terrified Frankfort was the order given by the
commanding officers of the Allies' Army to make entrenchments in the
neighbourhood of the town. On this occasion, the Senate awoke from its
inactivity, it arose and protested to the Diet that Frankfort was an
unfortified town which was not able, and did not wish to be defended.
But, in spite of the protestations of the Senate, the troops came to
On July 12th a fresh regiment was announced. It was the 8th regiment of
the Federated Army, under the orders of Prince Alexander of Hesse,
composed of men from Würtemberg, Baden, and Hesse, and an Austrian
Brigade commanded by Count Monte Nuovo. They had scarcely entered
Frankfort, when Count Monte Nuovo enquired for the house of the Chandroz
family, and got himself billeted upon the widowed Madame von Beling who
Count Monte Nuovo, which title disguised the celebrated name of Neuburg,
was the son of Marie Louise. He was a handsome, tall, fashionable
general of forty-eight or fifty, who presented himself to Madame von
Beling with all the Austrian grace and courtesy, and who, in saluting
Helen, let fall from his lips the name of Karl von Freyberg.
Helen started. Emma had excused herself, as the wife of a Prussian, from
doing the honours of her house to a man with whom her husband might be
fighting on the morrow. This absence gave Count Monte Nuovo the
opportunity of being alone with Helen. Helen, it is hardly necessary to
say, awaited this moment with impatience.
"Count," said she, as soon as they were alone, "you mentioned a certain
"The name of a man who adores you, Fräulein."
"The name of my _fiancé_," said Helen, rising.
Count Monte Nuovo bowed and signed to her to reseat herself.
"I know it, Fräulein," he said; "Count Karl is my friend. He has bidden
me hand you this letter and to give you news of him with my own lips."
Helen took the letter.
"Thank you, sir," she said, and, eager to read it. "You will allow me,
"Certainly," said the count bowing, and he appeared to become absorbed
in a portrait of Herr von Beling in his uniform.
The letter was all vows of love and protestations of tenderness such as
lovers write to each other. Old phrases always new; flowers plucked on
the day of creation, and, after six thousand years, as sweet as on the
Having finished the letter, as Count Monte Nuovo still looked straight
at the portrait:
"Sir," said Helen, in a low voice.
"Fräulein?" answered the count, approaching her; "Karl lets me hope that
you will give me some details yourself," and he adds: 'Before coming to
grips with the Prussians, he will, or indeed we shall perhaps, have the
pleasure of seeing you again.'"
"It is possible, Fräulein, especially if we meet the Prussians in three
or four days."
"Where did you leave him?"
"At Vienna, where he was organizing his volunteer regiment. We arranged
a meeting-place at Frankfort, my friend Karl von Freyberg having done me
the honour of wishing to serve under my orders."
"He tells me that he has as his lieutenant a Frenchman whom I know. Do
you know of whom he is speaking?"
"Yes; he met him at the King of Hanover's, where he went to pay his
respects; a young Frenchman called Benedict Turpin."
"Ah! yes," said Helen smiling, "he whom my brother-in-law wished me to
marry in gratitude for the sabre-cut he received from him."
"Fräulein," said Count Monte Nuovo, "these things are riddles to me."
"And a little to me also," said Helen; "I will explain to you." And she
told him what she knew of Frederic's duel with Benedict. She had
scarcely finished when some one simultaneously knocked and rang at the
door. Hans went to open it, and a voice asking for Madame von Beling,
and reaching her ears through all the closed doors between, made her
"What is the matter, Fräulein?" asked Count Monte Nuovo. "You are quite
"I recognize that voice!" exclaimed Helen.
At the same moment the door opened, and Hans appeared.
"Fräulein," said he, "it is Count Karl von Freyberg."
"Ah!" cried Helen, "I knew it! Where is he? What is he doing?"
"He is below in the dining-room, where he is asking Madame von Beling's
permission to pay his respects, to you."
"Do you recognize the gentleman in that?" asked Count Monte Nuovo.
"Another man would not even have asked for your grandmother, but have
flown straight to you."
"And I could have pardoned him." Then, in a louder voice. "Karl, dear
Karl!" she said. "This way!"
Karl came in and threw himself into Helen's arms, who pressed him to her
breast. Then, looking round him, he saw Count Monte Nuovo, and held out
his hand to him.
"Excuse me, count," said he, "for not having seen you before; but you
will readily understand that I had eyes for none but her. Is not Helen
as beautiful as I told you, count?"
"More beautiful," replied he.
"Oh! dear, dear Helen," cried Karl, falling on his knees and kissing her
Count Monte Nuovo began to laugh.
"My dear Karl," said he, "I arrived here an hour ago; I asked to be
quartered at Madame von Beling's, in order to be able to carry out my
commission. It was done as you knocked. I have nothing more to do here.
If I have forgotten anything, here you are, and you can supply it.
Fräulein, may I have the honour of kissing your hand?"
Helen held out her hand, looking at Karl as if for his permission, which
he gave with a nod. The count kissed Helen's hand, then that of his
friend, and went out.
The lovers gave a sigh of relief. Fate gave them, amid all the reverses
of their political fortunes, one of those rare moments which she grants
to those whom she favours most.
The news from the north was only too true. But all hope was not lost in
Vienna. The emperor, the Imperial Family, and the Treasury had retired
to Pest, and a desperate resistance was being prepared. On the other
hand, the cession of Venice to Italy gave liberty to a hundred and sixty
thousand men, as a reinforcement to the army in the north. It only
remained to revive the spirits of the soldiers by a victory, and it was
hoped that Count Alexander of Hesse would gain that victory. The battle
would take place in all probability in the outskirts of Frankfort. This
is why Karl had chosen to serve in the Prince of Hesse's army, and in
Count Monte Nuovo's brigade. There at least, he was sure that he should
see fighting. A second cousin of the Emperor Francis Joseph, brave and
courageous, he had every interest in risking his life for the House of
Austria, to which he belonged.
Helen devoured Karl with her eyes. His dress was that which she had seen
him wear every day when she met him going or returning from the hunt;
but, without one being able to be precise about it, there was something
more warlike about him; his expression was--somewhat more severe. One
felt that he was conscious of danger at hand, and in meeting it like a
man he met it as one who clung to life, yet who above his life put
During this time, Earl's little troop, whose second in command was
Benedict, bivouacked a hundred paces from the railway station, just
under the Burgomaster Fellner's windows. Not that they had anything to
complain of from the authorities. Karl had sold one of his estates, and
each of his men received a shilling every day for food. Each man was
armed with a good carbine, rifle-barrelled and able, like a quick-firing
gun, to fire eight or ten shots a minute. Each man also carried a
hundred cartridges, and, in consequence, the hundred men could fire ten
thousand shots. The two leaders carried double-barrelled carbines.
The burgomaster returning to the Hôtel de Ville, found in front of his
door the little detachment dressed in an unknown uniform. He stopped
with that naïve bourgeois curiosity which we call _flânerie_. After
staring at the soldiers he went on to their leader before whom he
stopped, not only with simple curiosity but astonishment. It seemed to
him that the face of the leader was not entirely unknown to him.
And in fact, the officer, smiling, asked in excellent German:
"May I enquire after Burgomaster Fellner's health?"
"Ah! heavens and earth!" cried the burgomaster, "I was not mistaken. It
is M. Benedict Turpin!"
"Bravo! I told you that your memory was unusually well developed. It
must be so to recognize me in this costume."
"But you have become a soldier?"
"An officer! I beg your pardon."
"Yes, an amateur officer."
"Come up to my house; you must be in need of refreshment, and your men
are thirsty. Aren't you, my friends?"
The men laughed.
"We are always more or less thirsty," one of them replied.
"Very well, I will send twenty-five bottles of wine and beer down to
you," said the burgomaster. "Come in, M. Benedict!"
"Remember that my eye is upon you from the window," said Benedict, "and
"Be easy in your mind, captain," replied he who had spoken before.
"Madame Fellner," said the burgomaster on entering, "here is a captain
of volunteers who is quartered on us. We must give him a worthy
Madame Fellner, who was doing worsted work, raised her head and looked
at her guest. An expression resembling her husband's passed over her
"Oh! it is surprising, my dear!" she cried, "how like this gentleman is
to a young French painter...."
"There!" said Fellner, "there is no need to keep your incognito. Pay
your respects to my wife, my dear Benedict; you are recognized."
Benedict held out his hand to Madame Fellner. As for the burgomaster, a
slave to his promise, he looked out amongst a bunch of keys that of the
cellar, and went down to choose the wine in which he wished Benedict's
men to drink his health. A few minutes after, shouts of "Long live the
burgomaster!" told that his wine was found to be of good quality.
THE FREE MEAL
The burgomaster was uneasy, and did not try to hide it. The Prussians
had marched on Frankfort by way of Vogeberg: a combat was bound to take
place on the frontiers of Bavaria, and, if the Allies' army was beaten,
the Prussians would occupy Frankfort on the following day. Orders had
been given of which no one knew, but which could not be kept from him,
as burgomaster. On July 14th, that is to say on the third day, the
Federated Assembly, the Military Commission, and the Chancellor's
Office, had received orders to go to Augsburg, a proof that Frankfort
was not sure of being able to preserve her neutrality. The conviction,
held by every one in Frankfort, that this was the moment of supreme
crisis, had raised the sympathy of the inhabitants for the defenders of
the cause dear to all, that is to say the cause of Austria, to the
highest pitch. So, when the dinner hour came, the great houses of
Frankfort invited the officers, while the bourgeois and working people
invited the privates. Some took dinner to them, others laid tables
before their doors.
Hermann Mumm, the famous wine merchant, had invited a hundred privates,
corporals, and sergeants, and had laid an immense table before his door,
where each man had his bottle of wine.
Burgomaster Fellner, his brother-in-law, Doctor Kugler, and the other
inhabitants of the road abutting on the railway station, took care of
Karl's hundred men. He himself dined with Madame von Beling and Count
Monte Nuovo. Benedict, whom good Madame Fellner would not suffer to
depart, could not refuse her invitation. They had invited Senators von
Bernus and Speltz, but they had each their own guests, and only M.
Fischer, the journalist, who lived a bachelor life, could come. Prince
Alexander of Hesse dined with the Austrian consul.
The diners in the street formed strange contrasts with those inside. The
soldiers, drinking together, careless of the morrow, looked for nothing
but death; but death to a soldier is only a _vivandière_ in black, who
pours him the last glass of brandy at the end of the last day. The
soldier only fears to lose his life, because in losing his life, he
loses all with it, and at one blow; while the merchant, the banker, even
the bourgeois, before losing life, may lose fortune, credit, and
position. He may see his coffers pillaged, his house ransacked, his wife
and daughters dishonoured, his children calling him, impotent to help
them. He may be tortured through his family, his money, his flesh, and
his honour. It was of these things that the citizens of the free town of
Frankfort thought, and these things prevented them from being as gay as
they would have wished with their guests.
As for Karl and Helen, they thought of nothing but their happiness. For
them, the present was everything. They wished to forget: and, by force
not of wishing, but of love, they did forget.
But the saddest of these gatherings, despite Benedict's efforts, was
certainly that which took place at the burgomaster's. Herr Fellner was,
in his administrative capacity, one of the most intelligent burgomasters
that Frankfort had ever possessed. Furthermore, he was an excellent
father to his family, adoring his children, and adored by them. During
fourteen years of married life not the smallest cloud had passed across
his union. During the whole dinner, in spite of the weighty political
preoccupation which absorbed him, he attempted, with the help of his
brother-in-law the councillor, and his friend Fischer, to throw a little
gaiety over the solemnity of the conversation. At dessert a servant
entered and informed Benedict that his travelling companion, Lenhart,
asked leave to offer him his services again. The burgomaster enquired
who Lenhart was, and, at the moment when Benedict smilingly asked
permission to go and shake his hand in the vestibule, the ex-livery
stable keeper slapped the servant on the shoulder to make him give way,
and came in saying:
"Don't give yourself the trouble, M. Benedict; I'll come right into his
worship the burgomaster's dining-room. I am not proud. Good day, your
worship, and ladies and gentlemen."
"Ah!" said the burgomaster, recognizing the old Saxon accent, "you are
"Yes, and my name is Lenhart, at your service; I am brother to Hans, who
is in service with Madame von Beling."
"Well then, my friend," said the burgomaster, "drink a glass of wine to
the health of M. Benedict, whom you wish to see."
"Two, if you like; he well deserves them! Ah! there's no
stand-offishness with regard to the Prussians about him. Thunder and
lightning! how he went at them at the battle of Langensalza!"
"What! you were there?" asked the burgomaster of Lenhart.
"On! yes, that I was, and now mad I was at not getting a slap at those
"Why do you call them cuckoos?" asked the journalist.
"Because they take other people's nests to lay their eggs in."
"But how did you know I was here?" asked Benedict, a little embarrassed
by this unceremonious visit.
"Oh!" said Lenhart, "I was walking peacefully along the road, when a dog
came and jumped at my neck. 'There,' I said, 'it is Frisk, M. Benedict's
dog.' Your men looked at me as if I were a curiosity, because I
mentioned your name. 'Is M. Benedict here?' I asked them. They answered
me: 'Yes, he is there, he is dining with your burgomaster, Herr Fellner,
a good man, who has good wine.' 'Herr Fellner's good health,' I said to
myself: 'Here, it's true! he is my burgomaster, because ever since
yesterday I've been established in Frankfort, and as he is my
burgomaster, I can go in And call on him, to say good-morning to M.
"Well now that you have said good-morning to me, my good Lenhart, and
drunk the health of his worship the burgomaster," said Benedict--
"Yes, but I haven't drunk yours, my young master, my benefactor, my
idol! for you are my idol, M. Benedict. When I speak of you, when I talk
about your duel, where you overcame those two men, one with a sabre cut,
and what a one it was! M. Frederic de ----, you know the one I mean,
don't you? Another with a pistol shot, that was a journalist, a great
tall, ungainly fellow, like you, Herr Fischer."
"Thanks, my friend."
"I haven't said any harm, I hope."
"No, but leave these gentlemen in peace," said Benedict.
"They are very peaceful, M. Benedict; look how they are listening."
"Let him go on," said the doctor.
"I'd go on all the same, even if you wouldn't let me. Ah! when I'm on
the subject of M. Benedict, I never run dry. Don't shrug your shoulders,
M. Benedict; if you'd wanted to kill the baron, you'd have killed him,
and if you'd wanted to kill the journalist, you'd only yourself to
"As a matter of fact," said the burgomaster, "we have seen that story in
the 'Kreuz Zeitung.' My word! I read it without ever thinking that it
was to you it happened."
"And the pretty thing is that it was he who told it you!" continued
Lenhart. "He is as learned as a sorcerer! Only glanced at the poor King
of Hanover's hand, and he foretold everything that's happened to him.
First, the victory, then the pill."
At the moment, when they were going from the dining-room to the
drawing-room, the sound of trumpets and drums was heard; the trumpet
sounded "to horse," the drum beat "the alert." Madame Fellner waited
impatiently; but her husband, smiling, signed to her to be patient. For
the moment, a more lively and more general preoccupation was started by
the sound of the alarm.
"This tells me, madam," said Benedict, pointing towards the street, "I
have only time to drink your husband's health, and to the long and happy
life you and your beautiful family will have with him."
The toast was repeated by all, and even by Lenhart, who thus drank
twice, as he had said, to the health of the burgomaster. After which,
grasping the hands of Herr Fellner, his brother-in-law, and the
journalist, and kissing that of Madame Fellner, Benedict ran downstairs
and out, crying: "To arms!"
The same warlike sound had surprised Karl and Helen at the end of
dinner. Karl felt a terrible blow at his heart. Helen grew pale,
although she did not know the meaning of the beating of the drums nor
of the sounding of the trumpets; yet she felt it to be sinister. Then,
at the glance exchanged between Count Monte Nuovo and Karl, she
understood that the moment of separation had come. The count had pity on
the two young lovers, and, to give them a minute for their last adieux,
he took leave of Madame von Beling, and said to his young friend:
"Karl, you have a quarter-of-an-hour."
Karl threw a rapid glance at the clock. It was half-past four.
"Thank you, general," he answered. "I will be at my post at the time you
Madame von Beling had gone to see Count Monte Nuovo off, and in order to
be alone, the young people went into the garden, where a thick arbour of
vines hid their adieux. One might as well try to write down the
melancholy song of the nightingale, which burst forth a few paces from
them, as to describe the dialogue interspersed with sighs and tears,
with vows, with sobs, with promises of love, with passionate outbursts,
and with tender cries. What had they said at the end of a
quarter-of-an-hour? Nothing, and everything. The parting was inevitable.
As on the first occasion, Karl's horse was waiting at the door. He
dragged himself away, leading Helen with him, encircled by his arms,
there he covered her face with a rain of kisses.
The door was open. The two Styrians beckoned him. A quarter to five was
striking. He threw himself upon his horse, driving the spurs into him.
The two Styrians ran beside him, following the galloping horse. The last
words which Karl heard were these: "Thine, in this world or in the
next!" and with the ardour of a lover and the faith of a Christian, he
replied: "So be it."
THE BATTLE OF ASCHAFFENBURG
During his dinner, Prince Alexander of Hesse had received this dispatch:
"The Prussian vanguard has appeared at the end of the Vogelsburg pass!"
This news very much astonished the commander-in-chief, who was expecting
the enemy to come by the pass through the Thuringian Forest. He had, in
consequence, immediately sent a telegram to Darmstadt to order a
detachment of three thousand men to come by rail to Aschaffenburg and
seize the bridge. Then he had immediately sounded the bugle-call and the
signal to saddle.
Two steamboats were waiting at Hackenhausen. A hundred railway carriages
were waiting at the station, capable of holding a hundred men each.
We have already mentioned the effect produced by the double trumpet
There was a moment of confusion: for a moment every one ran to and fro,
uniforms were confused, cavalry and infantry were mixed, then as if a
clever hand had put each man in his place, at the end of five minutes
the cavalry were mounted and the infantry had their proper weapons.
Everything was ready for a start.
Again, Frankfort showed its sympathy, not exactly to the Austrians, but
to the defenders of Austria. Beer was handed round in half-pints and
wine in jugfuls. Gentlemen of the first houses in the town shook hands
with the officers. Fashionable ladies spoke cheeringly to the soldiers.
A hitherto unknown brotherhood, born of the common danger, reigned over
the free town.
People called from windows: "Courage! victory! long live Austria! long
live the Allies! long live Prince Alexander of Hesse!"
Marie Louise's son was greeted for his part with cries of "Long live the
Count of Monte Nuovo!" But it must be said that, as they came for the
most part from ladies, they were due rather to his fine figure and
military bearing than to his royal birth.
Karl's Styrian sharpshooters received orders to take their places in the
first carriages. It was they who were to attack the Prussians. They went
gaily into the station with no other music than the count's two flute
players. After them came Count Monte Nuovo's Austrian brigade and lastly
the Allies of Hesse and Würtemberg. The Italian brigade had left by the
steamboats, protesting against what they had to do, and declaring they
would never fire on their friends the Prussians for their enemies the
The train went off, carrying men, rifles, guns, ammunition, horses, and
ambulances. An hour and a half afterwards they were at Aschaffenburg.
Night was beginning to fall. They had not seen the Prussians.
Prince Alexander of Hesse sent a party out to reconnoitre. The party
came back towards eleven at night, after having fired a few shots at the
Prussians at two hours' journey from Aschaffenburg.
A peasant who had crossed the pass at the same time as the Prussians,
said that they were nearly five or six thousand strong, and that they
had stopped because they were waiting for a body of seven or eight
thousand men which was late. The numbers promised to be nearly equal.
It was found necessary to defend the passage of the Main and to protect
Frankfort and Darmstadt by gaining the victory. The Styrian
sharpshooters were placed on the road. Their mission was to do the
greatest amount of damage possible to the enemy and retire, leaving the
infantry and cavalry to work in their turn, and to rally at the head of
the bridge, the allies only means of retreat, and to defend that bridge
to the last.
During the night each man took up his position for the next day, and
supped and slept in the open. A reserve of eight hundred men had been
lodged in Aschaffenburg to defend the town if it were attacked. The
night passed without disturbance and came.
At ten o'clock, Karl, growing impatient, mounted his horse and leaving
the command of his men to Benedict galloped off towards the Prussians
who at last were beginning to march.
In the course of his gallop Karl went up to Count Monte Nuovo and
brought back the guns, which were put in position across the road. Four
felled trees made a sort of entrenchment for the artillery. Karl got on
to this entrenchment with his two Styrians, who took their flutes from
their pockets, as if on parade, and began to play their sweetest and
most charming airs. Karl could resist no longer. In a minute he took his
pipe from his waistcoat pocket and sent on the wind a last message to
The Prussians were advancing all this time. At half-range the booming of
the two Austrian guns interrupted our three musicians, who put their
flutes back into their pockets, and took up their rifles. The two
volleys were well aimed, they killed or wounded a score of men. Again an
explosion was heard, and a second messenger of death swept through the
"They are going to try and carry the guns by assault," said Karl to
Benedict. "Take fifty men, and I'll take fifty; we will creep through
the little wood on each side of the road. We have time for two shots
each. We must kill a hundred men and fifty horses. Let ten of your men
fire at the horses and the rest at the men."
Benedict took fifty men and crept along the right of the road. Karl did
the same and crept along the left. The count was not mistaken; cavalry
advanced from the middle on the first rank, and the gleam of the sabres
was soon visible in the sunshine. Then was heard the thunder of three
hundred horses, galloping forward.
Now began a fusillade, on both sides of the road, which would have
seemed a game, if, at the first two shots, the colonel and the
lieutenant had not been shot down from their horses, and if at each shot
that followed those two a man or a horse had not fallen. Soon the road
was strewn with dead men and horses. The first ranks could not advance.
The charge stopped a hundred paces from the two guns, which kept up
their fire and completed the confusion in the column.
Behind them the Prussians had brought forward the artillery, and had
placed in position six guns to silence the two Austrian guns.
But our sharpshooters had advanced to about three hundred paces from the
battery, and, when the six artillerymen had raised the match to fire
with the regularity of a Prussian manœuvre, six shots were fired,
three to the right and three to the left of the road, and the six
artillerymen fell dead.
Six others took the burning match and fell beside their comrades.
Meanwhile the two Austrian guns had fired and demolished one of the
The Prussians did what they ought to have done at first; that is, they
attacked the Styrian sharpshooters. They sent out five hundred Prussian
sharpshooters with fixed bayonets.
Then, on both sides of the plain began a terrible fusillade, while along
the road the infantry advanced in columns, firing on the battery as they
came. The artillerymen harnessed horses to the guns and retreated. The
two guns, by retiring, left the Neuberg brigade uncovered.
A hillock a little distance from Aschaffenburg was then crowned by a
battery of six guns, the fire of which raked the Prussian masses.
The count himself seeing that in spite of the fire along the whole line,
the Prussians were advancing, put himself at the head of a regiment of
cuirassiers and charged. Prince Alexander ordered all the Baden army to
support him. Unfortunately, he placed the Italian regiment on his left
wing and for the second time the Italians told him that they would
remain neutral, exposed to the shots of both sides, but would not fire
Whether by chance, or because they had been warned of this neutrality,
the Prussians brought their principal effort to bear upon this left
wing, which, by standing still, allowed the enemy to unhorse Count Monte
The Styrian sharpshooters had done marvels. They had lost thirty men,
and had killed more than three hundred of the enemy. Then, according to
their orders, they had rallied at the head of the Aschaffenburg bridge.
From that spot, Karl and Benedict heard a quick fusillade at the other
end of the town. It was the Prussian right wing which had overthrown
Prince Alexander's left wing and was attacking the suburbs of the town.
"Listen," said Karl to Benedict, "the day is lost! Fate has overtaken
the 'house of Austria.' I am going to kill myself, because it is my
duty; but you, who are not tied to our fortune; you, who are fighting as
an amateur; you, who are French when all is said and done, it would be
folly for you to kill yourself for a cause which is not your own, and
not even that with which you agree. Right to the last moment; then, when
you know that all resistance is useless, get back to Frankfort, go to
Helen; tell her that I am dead, if you have seen me die, or that I am in
retreat on Darmstadt or Würtzburg with the remains of the army. If I
live, I will write to her. If I die, I die thinking of her. This is my
heart's testament, I confide it to you."
Benedict pressed Karl's hand.
"Now," proceeded Karl, "it seems to me that it is a soldier's duty to
give the most service possible, to the last moment; we have a hundred
and seventy men left. I am going to take some, I will take half to
support the defenders of the town. You stay with the others at the
bridge. Do your best here. I will do my best wherever I am. Do you hear
the fusillade coming nearer? We have no time to lose. We must say
The two young men threw themselves into each other's arms. Then Karl
hurried into the streets and disappeared in the smoke. Benedict went to
a little hill covered with a thicket, where he could defend himself and
protect the bridge.
He was scarcely there when he saw a cloud of dust rapidly approaching.
It was the Baden cavalry, which had been driven back by the Prussian
cuirassiers. The first fugitives crossed the bridge without difficulty;
but soon the passage was obstructed with men and horses, and the first
ranks were forced to return upon those who followed them.
At that moment, a volley from Benedict and his men felled fifty men and
twenty horses. The cuirassiers stopped astonished, and courage returned
to the Baden infantry. A second volley followed the first, and the click
of the balls on the cuirasses could be heard like the sound of hail on a
roof. Thirty men and horses fell. The cuirassiers became disordered, but
in retiring they encountered a square broken by the lancers, which fled
before them. The square found itself between the spears of the lancers
and the sabres of the cuirassiers. Benedict saw them coming mixed
pell-mell with the lancers and cuirassiers.
"Aim at the officers," cried Benedict, and he himself picked out a
captain of cuirassiers and fired. The captain fell. The others had each
chosen officers, but found it more convenient to choose the officers of
the lancers. Death thus offered a larger target. Almost all the officers
fell, and the horses bounding riderless joined the squadron. Men were
still continuing to crowd the bridge.
Suddenly the greater part of the allies' army arrived almost upon the
heels of the enemy. At the same time, in the street of the burning town,
Karl was retreating with his usual calm. He killed a man at each shot.
He was bare-headed. A ball had carried away his Styrian cap. A trickle
of blood was running down his cheek.
The two young men greeted each other from afar. Frisk, recognizing Karl,
whom he considered an admirable hunter, ran towards him, all delight at
seeing him again.
At that moment, a heavy gallop made the earth shake. It was the Prussian
cuirassiers returning to the charge. Through the dust of the road and
the smoke of the firing could be seen the glitter of their breastplates,
helmets, and sword blades. They made a hole in the centre of the Baden
and Hessian fugitives, and penetrated a third of the way over the
With a last glance, Benedict saw his friend fighting against a captain,
into whose throat he twice thrust his bayonet. The captain fell, but
only to be succeeded by two cuirassiers who attacked Karl, sword in
hand. Two shots from Benedict's rifle killed one and wounded the other.
Then he saw Karl carried away among the fugitives crossing the bridge,
in spite of his efforts to rally them. Enclosed on all sides, his sole
path to hope of safety was the bridge. He threw himself upon it with the
sixty or sixty-five men who were left. It was a terrible struggle; the
dead were trodden under foot, the cuirassiers, like giants on their
great horses, stabbed the fugitives with their shortened swords.
"Fire on them!" cried Benedict.
Those of his men who had their rifles loaded fired; seven or eight
cuirassiers fell; the bullets rattled on the breastplates of the rest.
A fresh charge brought the cuirassiers into the midst of the Styrian
infantry. Pressed by two horsemen, Benedict killed one with his bayonet,
the other tried to crush him with his horse against the parapet of the
bridge. He drew his short hunting knife and thrust it up to the hilt in
the horse's chest, the horse reared with a scream of dismay. Benedict
left his knife with its living sheath, ran between the horse's legs,
leapt over the parapet of the bridge and sprang, armed as he was, into
the Main. As he fell, he cast a last look at the spot where Karl had
disappeared, but his gaze sought his friend in vain.
It was about five o'clock in the evening.
Benedict had jumped into the Main on the left side of the bridge; the
current carried him towards the arches. When he came to the surface he
looked round him and saw a boat moored to one of them. A man was lying
in the boat. Benedict swam towards him with one hand, holding his rifle
above the water with the other. The boatman seeing him coming raised his
"Prussian or Austrian?" asked he.
"French," answered Benedict. The boatman held out his hand.
Benedict, dripping as he was, jumped into the boat.
"Twenty florins," he said, "if we are in Dettingen in an hour. We have
the current with us and I will row with you."
"That will be easy," said the boatman, "if you are sure you will keep
"Wait a minute," said Benedict; throwing down his Styrian tunic and cap,
and feeling in his pocket, "here are ten."
"Then, come on," said the boatman.
He took one oar, Benedict took the other: the boat impelled by four
vigorous arms went rapidly down the river.
The struggle was still continuing; men and horses fell from the bridge
into the stream. Benedict would have liked to stop and watch the
spectacle, but time did not allow.
No one paid any attention to the little boat flying down stream. In five
minutes the oarsmen were out of range and out of danger.
While passing a little wood on the edge of the river, called
Joli-Buisson, he thought he saw Karl fighting desperately in the middle
of a group of Prussians. But as the uniform of all the Styrians was
alike, it might have been one of the infantry. Then Benedict fancied he
saw a dog like Frisk in the throng, and he remembered that Frisk had
At the first bend of the river, they ceased to see anything of the
battle. Further on, they saw the smoke of the burning houses in
Aschaffenburg. Then at the little village of Lieder, everything
disappeared. The boat flew down the river and quickly they passed
Menaschoft, Stockstadt, Kleim, and Ostheim. After that the banks of the
Main were deserted down to Mainflig. On the other bank, almost opposite,
It was a quarter-past six, the boatman had earned his twenty florins.
Benedict gave them to him; but before parting from him he considered for
"Would you like to earn twenty florins more?" he asked.
"I should just think so!" replied the boatman. Benedict looked at his
"The train does not go until a quarter-past seven, we have more than an
hour before us."
"Besides which the trouble at Aschaffenburg will make the train another
quarter of an hour late, if it does not stop it altogether."
"The deuce it will!"
"Will what I tell you fly away with my twenty florins?"
"No; but go into Dettingen first of all. You are just my height, go and
buy me a boatman's dress like yours. Complete, you know. Then come back,
and I will tell you what remains to be done."
The boatman jumped out of the boat and ran down the road to Dettingen. A
quarter-of-an-hour later, he came back with the complete costume, which
had cost ten florins. Benedict gave him that amount.
"And now," asked the boatman, "what is to be done?"
"Can you wait for me here three days with my uniform, my rifle, and my
pistols? I will give you twenty florins."
"Yes; but if at the end of three days you do not come back?"
"The rifle, the pistols, and the uniform will be yours."
"I will wait here eight days. Gentlemen must have time to settle their
"You are a good fellow. What is your name?"
"Very well, Fritz, goodbye!"
In a few moments Benedict had put on the coat and trousers and covered
his head with the boatman's cap. He walked a few steps and then stopped
"By the way, where will you stay at Dettingen?" he asked.
"A boatman is like a snail, he carries his house on his back. You will
find me in my boat."
"Night and day?"
"Night and day."
"All is well then."
And in his turn Benedict went towards Dettingen.
Fritz had prophesied truly, the train was half an hour late. Indeed it
was the last train which went through; hussars were sent to take up the
rails; lest troops should be sent to Frankfort to help the allies.
Benedict took a third-class ticket, as befitted his humble costume. The
train only stopped at Manau for a few minutes, and arrived at Frankfort
at a quarter to nine, scarcely ten minutes late.
The station was full of people who had come to get news. Benedict passed
through the crowd as quickly as possible, recognized M. Fellner,
whispered in his ear "beaten," and went off in the direction of the
He knocked at the door. Hans opened it. Helen was not in the house, but
he went and asked for Emma. Helen was at the Church of Notre Dame de la
Croix. Benedict asked the way there, and Hans, who thought he brought
news of Karl, offered to show him. In five minutes they were there: Hans
wished to go back, but Benedict kept him, in case there might be some
order to be given. He left him in the porch and went in. One chapel was
hit by the trembling light of a lamp. A woman was kneeling before the
altar, or rather, crouching on the steps. This woman was Helen.
The eleven o'clock train had brought the news that a battle would take
place that day. At twelve o'clock Helen and her maid had taken a
carriage, and driven by Hans had gone down the Aschaffenburg road as far
as the Dornighem wood. There, in the country silence they had heard the
sound of cannon. It is unnecessary to say that each shot had had an echo
in her heart. Soon she could listen no longer to the sound which grew
louder and louder. She went back to Frankfort, and got down at the
Church of Notre Dame de la Croix, sending back Hans to ease the minds
of her mother and sister. Hans had not dared to say where Helen was
without the permission of the baroness.
Helen had been praying since three o'clock. At the sound of Benedict's
approach she turned. At first sight, and in his disguise, she did not
recognize the young painter whom Frederic had wished her to marry, and
took him for a Sachsenhausen fisherman.
"Are you looking for me, my good man?" she said.
"Yes," answered Benedict.
"Then you are bringing me news of Karl?"
"I was his companion in the fight."
"He is dead!" cried Helen, wringing her hands with a sob, and glancing
reproachfully at the statue of the Madonna. "He is dead! he is dead!"
"I cannot tell you for certain that he is alive and not wounded. But I
can tell you I do not know that he is dead."
"You don't know?"
"No, on my honour, I don't know."
"Did he give you a message for me before you left him?"
"Yes, these are his very words."
"Oh, speak, speak!" And Helen clasped her hands and sank on a chair in
front of Benedict as though before a sacred messenger. A message from
those whom we love is always sacred.
"Listen; he said to me: 'The day is lost. Fate has overtaken the house
of Austria. I am going to kill myself because it is my duty.'"
"And I!" she murmured. "He did not think of me."
"Wait." He went on, "But you who are not tied to our fortune; you, who
are fighting as an amateur; you, who are French when all is said, and
done, it would be folly for you to kill yourself for a cause which is
not your own. Fight to the last moment, then when you know that all
resistance is vain, get back to Frankfort, go to Helen, tell her that I
am dead, if you have seen me die, or that I am in retreat for Darmstadt
or Würtzburg with the remains of the army. If I live, I will write to
her if I die, I die thinking of her. This is my heart's testament, I
confide it to you.'"
"Dear Karl! and then...?"
"Twice we saw each other in the fray. On the bridge at Aschaffenburg,
where he was slightly wounded in the forehead, then a quarter-of-an-hour
later, between a little wood called Joli-Buisson and the village of
"There he was surrounded by enemies, but he was still fighting."
"Then I thought of you.... The war is over. We were the last of
Austria's vital powers, her last hope. Dead or alive, Karl is yours from
this hour. Shall I go back to the battlefield? I will search until I get
news of him. If he is dead, I will bring him back."
Helen let a sob escape her.
"If he is wounded, I will bring him back to you, recovered I assure
Helen had seized Benedict by the arm, and looked fixedly at him.
"You will go on to the battlefield?" she said.
"And you will seek for him among the dead?"
"Yes," said he, "until I find him."
"I will go with you," said Helen.
"You?" cried Benedict.
"It is my duty. I recognize you now. You are Benedict Turpin, the French
painter who fought with Frederic, and who spared his life."
"Then you are a friend and a man of honour. I can trust in you. Let us
"Is that settled?"
"It is settled."
"Do you seriously wish it?"
"I do wish it."
"Very well, then, there is not an instant to lose."
"How shall we go?"
"The railways have been destroyed."
"Hans will take us."
"I have a better plan than that. Carriages can be broken, drivers can be
forced. I have the right man, a man who would break all his carriages
and lame all his horses for me."
Benedict called, and Hans appeared.
"Run to your brother Lenhart. Tell him to be here within ten minutes
with his best carriage and horses, and wine and bread. As you pass the
chemist's tell him to get bandages, lint, and strapping."
"Oh, sir," said Hans, "I must write that down."
"Very well, a carriage, two horses, bread and wine; you mustn't forget
that. I will see to the rest. Go." Then, turning to Helen, "Will you
tell your relatives?" asked Benedict.
"Oh no!" she cried. "They would wish to prevent me from going. I am
under the protection of the Virgin."
"Pray then. I will come back here for you."
Helen threw herself on her knees. Benedict went quickly out of the
church. Ten minutes later he came back with all the necessary things
for the dressing of wounds, and four torches.
"Shall we take Hans?" asked Helen.
"No, it must not be known where you are. If we bring back Karl wounded,
a room must be ready for him, and a surgeon ready. Also, his arrival
would cause agitation to your sister, scarcely well again, or to your
grandmother, whose age must be taken into consideration."
"What time shall we get back?"
"I don't know, but we may be expected at four in the morning. You hear,
Hans? And if they fear for your young mistress--"
"You will answer," said Lenhart, "that they may be easy, because
Benedict Turpin is with her."
"You hear, dear Helen. I am ready when you are."
"Let us go," she said, "and not lose a minute. My God! when I think that
he may be there, perhaps lying on the earth under some tree or bush,
bleeding from two or three wounds, and calling on me with his dying
voice for help!" and in high agitation she went on: "I am coming, dear
Karl, I am coming!"
Lenhart whipped up his horses, and the carriage went off as quickly as
the wind and as noisily as thunder.
In less than an hour and a half they were in sight of Dettingen, which
was the more easy to see because it appeared from afar as the centre of
a vast fire. As they drew nearer, Benedict said that the light came from
the camp fires. After the victory, the Prussians had pressed their
outposts beyond the little town.
Helen feared that they would not be allowed to continue their journey,
but Benedict reassured her. The pity shown to the wounded, and the
respect for the dead in all civilized countries, when once the battle is
over, left him no doubt that Helen would be allowed to seek for her
_fiancé_, dead or living, and that he would be allowed to aid her.
In fact, the carriage was stopped at the outposts, and the chiefs of the
watch could not take it upon themselves to let them pass, but said they
must refer to General Sturm, who commanded the outposts.
General Sturm had his quarters in the little village of Horstein, rather
further on than Dettingen. Benedict was told where the house was, and
went off at a gallop to make up for lost time. When he reached the house
indicated, he found that General Sturm was away and that he would have
to speak to the major.
He went in, and an impatient voice called out, "wait a minute."
Benedict had heard that voice before.
"Frederic!" he cried.
It was Baron Frederic von Bülow, whom the King of Prussia had made
Staff-major to General Sturm. This rank was an advancement from
brigade-general. Benedict explained that he was searching for Karl, who
was dead or wounded on the field. Frederic would have liked to go with
him, but he had work that must be done. He gave Benedict a permit to
search the battlefield, and to take with him two Prussian soldiers as
guards, and a surgeon.
Benedict promised to send back the surgeon with news of the expedition,
and went out to the carriage where Helen was waiting impatiently.
"Well?" asked she.
"I have got what we want," answered Benedict. Then in an undertone he
said to Lenhart, "Go on twenty paces, then stop."
He told Helen what had happened, and that if she wished to see her
brother-in-law it would be easy to go back.
Helen chafed at the very idea of seeing her brother-in-law. He would be
sure to keep her from going among the dead and wounded, and the thieves
who were on the battlefield to rob the dead.
She thanked Benedict, and cried to Lenhart:
"Drive on, please!"
Lenhart whipped up his horses. They got back to Dettingen. Eleven
o'clock struck as they entered the town. An immense fire was burning in
the principal square. Benedict got down and went towards it. He went up
to a captain who was walking up and down.
"Excuse me, captain," he said, "but do you know Baron Frederic von
The captain looked him up and down. It must be remembered that Benedict
was still in his boatman's dress.
"Yes," he answered, "I know him, and what then?"
"Will you do him a great service?"
"Willingly; he is my friend; but how came he to make you his messenger?"
"He is at Horstein, and obliged to stay there by order of General
"He is very uneasy about a friend of his, who was killed or wounded on
the field. He sent me and a comrade to search for this friend, the
_fiancé_ of the lady whom you see in the carriage, and said: 'Take this
note to the first Prussian officer you see. Tell him to read it, and I
am sure he will have the kindness to give you what you ask for.'"
The officer went to the fire, and read what follows:
"Order to the first Prussian officer whom my messenger meets, to
put at the disposal of the bearer two soldiers and a surgeon. The
two soldiers and the surgeon will follow the bearer wherever he
"From the quarters of General Horstein, eleven at night:
"By order, General Sturm.
"Principal staff officer,
"BARON FREDERIC VON BÜLOW."
Discipline and obedience are the two chief virtues of the Prussian army.
These are what have made it the first army in Germany. The captain had
hardly read his superior's order when he dropped the haughty look which
he had assumed for the poor devil of a boatman.
"Hullo," he called to the soldiers round the fire. "Two volunteers to
serve the principal staff officer, Frederic von Bülow."
Six men presented themselves.
"That's good, you and you," said the captain, choosing two men.
"Now who is the regiment's surgeon?"
"Herr Ludwig Wiederschall," answered a voice.
"Where is he billeted?"
"Here in the square," answered the same voice.
"Tell him he is to go on an expedition to Aschaffenburg to-night, by
order of the staff officer."
A soldier got up, went across the square and knocked at the door; a
moment after he came back with the surgeon-major.
Benedict thanked the captain. He answered that he was very happy to do
anything for the Baron von Bülow.
The surgeon was in a bad temper, because he had been roused out of his
first sleep. But when he found himself face to face with a young lady,
beautiful and in tears, he made his excuses for having kept her waiting,
and was the first to hasten the departure.
The carriage reached the bank of the river by a gentle slope. Several
boats were anchored there. Benedict called in a loud voice:
At the second call a man stood up in a boat and said:
"Here I am!"
Benedict issued his orders.
Every one took their places in the boat; the two soldiers in the prow,
Fritz and Benedict at the oars, and the surgeon and Helen in the stern.
A vigorous stroke sent the boat into the middle of the stream. It was
less easy travelling now, they had to go against the current; but
Benedict and Fritz were good and strong rowers. The boat went slowly
over the surface of the water.
They were far from Dettingen when they heard the clock strike midnight.
They passed Kleim, Ostheim, Menaschoft, then Lieder, then Aschaffenburg.
Benedict stopped a little below the bridge, it was there that he wished
to begin his search. The torches were lit and carried by the soldiers.
The battle had not been finished until dark; the wounded alone had been
carried away, and the bridge was still strewn with dead, against whom
one stumbled in the dark corners, and who could be seen by their white
coats in the light ones.
Karl, with his grey tunic, would have been easily recognized, if among
Prussians and Austrians; but Benedict was too sure of having seen him
below the bridge to waste time in seeking for him where he was not. They
went down to the fields, strewn with clumps of trees, and at the end of
which was the little wood called Joli-Buisson. The night was dark, with
no moon, there were no stars, one would have said that the dust and
smoke of battle was hanging between the earth and the sky. From time to
time silent flashes of lightning lifted the horizon like an immense
eyelid: a ray of wan light leapt out and lighted up the landscape for a
second with bluish light. Suddenly all became dark again. Between the
flashes, the only light which appeared on the left bank of the Main was
that of the two torches carried by the Prussian soldiers, which made a
circle of light a dozen paces across.
Helen, white as a ghost, and gliding like a ghost over the unevennesses
of the ground as if they were non-existent, walked in the middle of the
circle with arms outstretched, saying. "There, there, there!" wherever
she thought she saw motionless corpses lying. When they came near they
found them to be corpses indeed, but recognized Prussians or Austrians
by their uniforms.
From time to time also, they saw something gliding between the trees,
and heard steps hastening away; these were of some of the miserable
robbers of the dead who follow a modern army as wolves used to follow
ancient armies, and whom they disturbed in their infamous work.
From time to time Benedict stopped the group with a gesture; a profound
silence fell, and in this silence he cried: "Karl! Karl!"
Helen with staring eyes and holding her breath, seemed like a statue of
suspense. Nothing replied, and the little troop moved on.
From time to time Helen also stopped, and automatically, under her
breath, as if she was afraid of her own voice, called in her turn,
"Karl! Karl! Karl!"
They drew near the little wood and the corpses became fewer. Benedict
made one of these pauses, followed by silence, and for the fifth or
sixth time cried:
This time, a lugubrious and prolonged cry replied, which sent a shudder
through the heart of the bravest.
"What is that cry?" asked the surgeon.
"It is a dog, howling for some one's death," answered Fritz.
"Can it be?" murmured Benedict. Then he went on, "Over here! over here!"
directing them towards the voice of the dog.
"My God!" cried Helen, "have you any hope?"
"Perhaps, come, come!" and without waiting for the torches he ran ahead.
When he came to the edge of the wood, he cried again:
The same lugubrious, lamentable cry was heard, but nearer.
"Come," said Benedict, "it is here!"
Helen leapt over the ditch, entered the wood, and without thinking of
her muslin dress which was being torn to rags, she pushed on through the
bushes and thorns. The torch-bearers had been thoughtful enough to
follow. There in the wood they heard the sound of the robbers fleeing.
Benedict signed a halt in order to give them time to escape. Then all
was silent again he called a third time:
This time a howl, as lamentable as the two first, answered, but so close
to them that all hearts beat quickly. The men recoiled a step. The
"A wolf!" said he.
"Where?" asked Benedict.
"There," said Fritz pointing. "Don't you see his eyes shining in the
dark like two coals?"
At that moment a flash of lightning penetrated the trees, and showed
distinctly a dog sitting beside a motionless body.
"Here, Frisk!" cried Benedict.
The dog made one bound to his master's neck and licked his face; then
again, taking his place beside the corpse, he howled more lamentably
"Karl is there!" said Benedict.
Helen sprang forward, for she understood it all.
"But he is dead!" continued Benedict.
Helen cried out and fell on Karl's body.
THE WOUNDED MAN
The torchbearers had come up and a group, picturesque and terrible, was
formed, by the bright light of the burning resin. Karl had not been
plundered like the other corpses, the dog had guarded his body and
prevented this. Helen was stretched upon him, her lips to his, weeping
and groaning. Benedict was on his knees beside her, with the dog's paws
on his shoulders. The surgeon stood, his arms folded, like a man
accustomed to death and its sadness. Fritz had thrust his head through
the leaves of a thorn-tree. Every one was silent and motionless for a
Suddenly Helen cried out, she sprang up, covered with Karl's blood, her
face haggard and her hair wild. They all looked at her.
"Ah!" she cried. "I am going mad." Then, falling on her knees, "Karl!
Karl! Karl!" she cried.
"What is it?" asked Benedict.
"Oh! have pity on me," said Helen. "But I thought I felt a breath on my
face. Did he wait for me, to give his last sigh?"
"Excuse me, madam," said the surgeon, "but if he whom you call Karl is
not dead, there is no time to be lost in looking to him."
"Oh! come and look, sir," said Helen, moving quickly to one side.
The surgeon knelt down, the soldiers brought the torches near, and
Karl's pale, but still handsome face was seen. A wound in his head had
covered his left cheek with blood, and he would have been unrecognizable
if the dog had not licked the blood away from his face as it flowed.
The surgeon loosened his collar; then he raised him to undo his tunic.
The wound was terrible, for the back of his tunic was red with blood.
The surgeon undid his coat, and with the swiftness of habit cut his coat
up the back; then he called for water.
"Water," repeated Helen in an automatic voice that sounded like an echo.
The river was only fifty paces away, Fritz ran to it and brought back
the wooden shoe, with which he was accustomed to bail out the boat, full
of water. Helen gave her handkerchief.
The surgeon dipped into the water and began to wash the wounded man's
chest, while Benedict supported his body across his knees. It was only
then that they saw a clot of blood on his arm, this was a third wound.
That on his head was insignificant. That in his chest seemed the most
serious at first, but an artery had been cut in his right arm, and the
great loss of blood had led to a fainting fit during which the blood had
ceased to flow.
Helen, during this sad examination, had not ceased asking.
"Is he dead? is he dead?"
"We are going to see," said the surgeon. And on examination it proved
that his blood still flowed. Karl was not dead.
"He lives!" said the surgeon.
Helen cried out and fell on her knees.
"What must we do to bring him to life?" she asked.
"The artery must be tied," said the surgeon, "will you let me take him
to the ambulance?"
"Oh, no, no!" cried Helen. "I cannot be parted from him. Do you think he
will bear being taken to Frankfort?"
"By water, yes. And I confess to you that considering the interest you
take in this young man, I would rather some one else performed this
operation. Now, if you have any way of taking him quickly by water--"
"I have my boat," said Fritz, "and if this gentleman" (he pointed to
Benedict) "will give me a helping hand we will be in Frankfort in three
"It remains to be seen," said the surgeon, "considering his great loss
of blood, whether he will live three hours."
"My God, my God!" cried Helen.
"I don't dare to ask you to look, madam, but the earth is soaked with
Helen gave a cry of dismay, and put her hand before her eyes.
While talking, while reassuring, while frightening Helen with the
terrible cold-bloodedness of a man used to death, the surgeon was
binding up the wound in Karl's chest.
"You say you fear that he has lost too much blood? How much blood can
one lose without dying?" asked Helen.
"It depends, madam."
"What have I to fear or hope for?" asked Helen.
"You have to hope that he will live to reach Frankfort, that he has not
lost as much blood as I fear he has, and that a clever surgeon will tie
up the artery. You have to fear that he will have a second hæmorrhage
to-day, or in eight or ten days, when the wound is healed."
"But we can save him, can't we?"
"Nature has so many resources, that we must always hope, madam."
"Well," said Helen, "do not let us lose an instant."
Benedict and the surgeon took the torches, the two soldiers carried the
wounded man to the bank. They laid him in the stern of the boat on a
mattress and blanket fetched from Aschaffenburg.
"May I try to rouse him?" asked Helen, "or ought I to leave him in his
"Do not do anything to bring him back to consciousness, madam it is this
which stops the hæmorrhage, and if the artery is tied before he wakes,
all may be well."
They all took their places in the boat, the two Prussians stood holding
the torches; Helen was kneeling, the surgeon supported the wounded man;
Benedict and Fritz rowed. Frisk, who did not seem to feel pride in
having played such a splendid part, was sitting in the prow. This time,
well ballasted, pulled by four arms, vigorous and accustomed to the
exercise, the boat sped like a swallow over the surface of the water.
Karl remained unconscious. The doctor had thought that the air, cooler
on the water than on the land, would rouse him, but it did not. He
remained motionless, and gave no sign of life.
They arrived at Dettingen. Benedict gave a handsome reward to the two
Prussian soldiers, and asked the surgeon, whom Helen could only thank by
pressing his hands, to tell Frederic all the details of the expedition.
Benedict called Lenhart, who was sleeping on the box of his carriage,
and told him to go to Frankfort as fast as possible, and tell some
porters to wait with a litter on the banks of the Main at Frankfort. As
for him, with Helen and Earl, he continued his journey by water, that
being the smoothest road that one can find for a sick man.
Towards Hanau the sky began to get light; a great band of rosy silver
stretched itself above the Bavarian mountains.
It seemed to Helen that the wounded man shuddered. She gave a cry that
made the two rowers turn, then without another movement, Karl opened his
eyes, murmured the name of Helen, and closed them again. All this was so
rapid, that if Fritz and Benedict had not seen it with her, she would
have doubted it. That opened eye, that gently murmured word did not seem
a return to life, but the dream of a dying man.
The sun in rising sometimes has this effect on the dying, and before
closing for ever their eyes look for the last time upon the sun. This
idea came to Helen.
"Oh, Heaven!" she murmured, with sobs. "Is he breathing his last sigh?"
Benedict left the oar for a moment and went to Karl. He took his hand,
felt his pulse; and found it imperceptible. He listened to his heart; it
seemed to be still.
At each test Helen murmured: "Oh, Heaven!"
At the last test he shared her doubts. He took out a lancet, which he
always carried, and pricked the shoulder of the wounded man, who did not
feel or move; but a feeble drop of blood appeared.
"Be of good courage, he is still alive," he said, and again took up his
Helen began to pray.
Since the evening, no one had eaten but Fritz. Benedict broke a piece of
bread and gave it to Helen. She refused it with a smile.
They reached Offenbach, and could see Frankfort in the distance
silhouetted against the sky. They were due there at about eight o'clock.
At eight o'clock, in fact, the boat stopped at the landing-place by the
bridge. Soon they saw Lenhart and his carriage, and close to him a
litter. They raised the wounded man with the same precautions as before,
put him in the litter, and drew the curtains round him.
Benedict wished Helen to go in Lenhart's carriage; the bodice of her
dress was stained with blood. She wrapped herself in a large shawl and
walked beside the litter. To save time she asked Benedict to go and seek
for the same doctor who had attended the Baron von Bülow, Doctor
Bodemacker. She herself crossed all the town from the Sachsenhausen
Strasse to her mother's house, following the litter which bore Karl.
People watched her pass with astonishment, and went to question Fritz
who walked behind. And when he said it was a _fiancée_ who was following
the body of her lover, and as every one knew that Fräulein Helen von
Chandroz was engaged to Count Karl von Freyberg, they recognized the
beautiful young lady, and stepped back bowing respectfully.
When they reached the house the door was already open. Her grandmother
and sister were waiting on each side of the door, and as she passed
Helen took a hand of each.
"To my room!" she said.
The wounded man was taken to her room and laid on her bed. At that
moment Doctor Bodemacker arrived with Benedict.
The doctor examined Karl, and Benedict looked on with anxiety almost
equal to Helen's.
"Who saw this man before me?" asked, the doctor. "Who bound his
"A regimental surgeon," answered Helen.
"Why did he not tie the artery?"
"It was at night, by torchlight, in the open air; he did not dare. He
told me to get a cleverer man, and I came to you."
The surgeon looked at Karl uneasily. "He has lost a quarter of his
blood," he murmured.
"Well?" asked Helen.
The doctor bent his head.
"Doctor," cried Helen, "don't tell me there is no hope: it is always
said that people quickly recover lost blood."
"Yes," replied the doctor, "when he can eat. But never mind, a doctor
must do all he can. Can you help me?" he asked Benedict.
"Yes," he answered, "I have some idea of surgery."
"You will leave the room, won't you?" the surgeon asked Helen.
"Not for the world!" she cried, "no, no, I will stay to the end."
The operation on the arm was finished with a cleverness which astonished
"Now," said the doctor, "ice water must be slowly dropped on that arm!"
Some ice was procured and in five minutes was upon the arm.
"Now," said the doctor, "we shall see."
"What shall we see?" asked Helen anxiously.
"We shall see the effect of the ice water."
All three were standing by the bed, and it would be difficult to say
which was the most interested in its success: the doctor, from
professional pride; Helen, from her great love of the wounded man; or
Benedict, from his friendship with Karl and Helen.
At the first drops of ice water which fell on the arm, Karl shuddered
visibly. Then his eyelids trembled, his eyes opened, and he looked round
him with surprise until they became fixed on Helen. A faint smile
appeared on his lips and the corners of his eyes. He tried to speak and
breathed the name of Helen.
"He must not speak," said the doctor, "until to-morrow at least."
"Enough, my beloved," said Helen. "To-morrow you can tell me you love
THE PRUSSIANS AT FRANKFORT
In Frankfort all was sorrow and dismay at the news of the defeat. The
inhabitants were deeply apprehensive of their treatment by the Prussians
since seeing what had occurred in Hanover. On the evening of the battle,
as we have said, the news of the disaster had reached Frankfort, and
from the next day, the 15th, the conviction that its occupation would be
immediate had cast an aspect of mourning over the town. Not a single
person was to be seen on the fashionable promenade. The Prussians, so it
was said, would make their entry on the 16th after midday.
Night came, and with it a strange solitude in the streets, where, if one
met a wayfarer it was evident from his hurry that he was on urgent
business, carrying perhaps jewels or valuables for deposit at one of the
foreign legations. At an early hour the houses had been shut up. Behind
the bolted doors and windows one guessed that the inmates were silently
digging holes for the concealment of their treasures.
Morning came and everywhere might be seen affixed placards of the
Senate, reading as follows:
"The King of Prussia's royal troops will make their entry into Frankfort
and its suburbs; our relations with them will therefore be materially
changed from what they were when they were in garrison here. The Senate
deplores this change which has been brought about in the relations in
question, but the national sacrifices we have already made will render
our inevitable pecuniary losses easy in comparison with what we have
already lost. We all know that the discipline of the King of Prussia's
troops is admirable. In circumstances of great difficulty the Senate
exhorts all alike, of whatever rank or position, to give a friendly
reception to the Prussian troops."
The Frankfort battalion received orders to hold itself ready, with band
in front, to march out and meet the Prussians and do them honour. From
ten o'clock in the morning every advantageous spot, all the belfries and
housetops from which the suburbs, and particularly the road from
Aschaffenburg could be seen, were crowded with curious spectators.
Towards noon the Prussians were descried at Hanau. The railway brought
them by thousands and they were seen occupying as if by magic all the
strategic points along the line, not without certain precautions which
indicated their uneasiness as to what might portend.
Nothing occurred, however, until four o'clock. Then successive trains
left Hanau bearing the victorious army and rolled up to the town gates
until seven o'clock. It was clear that General Falkenstein now waited
the submission of the municipality, perhaps believing that the keys of
the town would be brought him on a silver salver. He waited in vain.
All was silence. None of the inhabitants moved and the Prussian
soldiers, prominent among whom were the cuirassiers who had charged so
vigorously in the battle, seemed spectres in their great cloaks and
steel helmets. In the evening the Zeil is ever a melancholy place. On
this occasion how sad it looked, despair seemed inextricably
intermingled with its brooding shadows, in which stood out like a
squadron of phantoms the Prussian cuirassiers. Now and again the
trumpets sounded sinister fanfares.
The fact that the Prussians were Germans was completely forgotten; their
attitude clearly showed that they were enemies.
Suddenly the music of the battalion of Frankfort broke out, coming from
the further side of the town. It met the Prussians at the top of the
Zeil, drew up in ranks and presented arms to the beating of the drums.
The Prussians did not appear to notice these friendly advances. Two
cannons arrived at a gallop. One was trained on the Zeil, the other on
the Ross-market. The head of the Prussian column was formed on the
Schiller Square and commanded the Zeil: for a quarter-of-an-hour the
cavalry remained in line on horseback, then they dismounted and stood
awaiting orders. This kind of encampment during which expectation grew
tenser lasted until eleven. Then, all at once as the clocks struck,
groups of ten, fifteen, or twenty men detached themselves, struck on the
doors and invaded the houses.
No order had been given in the town for the provision of rations and
wine. So the Prussians, treating Frankfort as a conquered world, chose
the most comfortable houses in which to establish themselves.
The battalion remained a quarter-of-an-hour presenting arms; after which
the commanding officer ordered muskets to be grounded. The band
continued to play. It was ordered to cease.
After two hours, as no word had been exchanged between the battalion and
the Prussian army, the former received the order to retire, arms lowered
as for a funeral. It was the funeral of Frankfort's liberty.
The whole night passed in the same terrors as if the town had been taken
by assault. If doors opened slowly, they were broken; cries of terror
were heard in the houses and no one dared to ask what caused them. As
the house of Hermann Mumm appeared one of the most important, he had to
lodge and board two hundred soldiers and fifteen officers this first
night. Another house, that of Madame Luttereth, lodged fifty men, who
amused themselves with breaking the windows and furniture, on the
alleged pretext that she had given evening parties and balls without
inviting the Prussian officers in garrison. Accusations of this kind,
accusations which served as the pretext for unheard of violence were
preferred against all classes of society. And the Prussian officers said
to their men: "You have a right to get all you can from these Frankfort
rascals, who have lent Austria twenty-five millions without charging
It was vain to say that the town had never had twenty-five millions in
its coffers; that had it had them such a loan could not have been made
without a decree of the Senate and the Legislature, and that the most
skilful investigator would fail to find a trace of such a decree. The
officers persisted, and, as the soldiers had no need to be encouraged in
a preliminary pillage while waiting the great day of plunder which had
been promised them, they gave themselves up to the most brutal
disorders, believing themselves authorized by the hatred of their chiefs
towards the unhappy town. From this night commenced what was rightly
called _the Prussian Terror at Frankfort_.
Frederic von Bülow, who knew of the orders to treat Frankfort as a
hostile city, had had a guard placed at the Chandroz' house to secure
the safety of the family, his pretext being that it had been reserved
for General Sturm and his staff.
Daylight dawned and presently, few having slept, all the world was
abroad, lamenting their misfortune and enquiring about those suffered by
their friends. Then came the billstickers slowly and unwillingly, like
men under constraint, fixing up the following notice:
"Authority having been given me over the Duchy of Nassau, the town
of Frankfort and its suburbs, as also over that part of Bavaria
which is occupied by the Prussian troops and over the Grand-duchy
of Hesse, all workmen and functionaries will in future take orders
from me. These orders will be duly and formally communicated.
"Dated at Frankfort, July 16th, 1866,
"The Commander-in-Chief of the Army of the Main,
Two hours later the general addressed a note to the Deputies Fellner and
Müller, in which he stated that as armies at war could procure what they
had need of in the enemy's country, the town of Frankfort would furnish
to the army of the Main:
"1. For each soldier a pair of boots to sample.
"2. Three hundred good horses ready saddled to replace those lost by the
"3. The pay of the army for a year to be sent instantly to the army
By way of recompense the town was to be freed from all imposts, except
cigars, the general engaging furthermore to reduce the burden of the
military billeting as much as possible.
The total claimed for army pay was 7,747,008 florins.
The two members hastened to General Falkenstein's headquarters, and were
admitted to him. His first words were:
"Well, sirs, have you brought my money?"
"We beg leave to submit to your Excellency," said Fellner, "that we
have no authority to decree payment of such a sum, as the government of
the town having been dissolved, its consent cannot be obtained."
"That does not concern me," said the general, "I have conquered the
country and I raise an indemnity. It is perfectly regular."
"Will you allow me to say to your Excellency that a town which does not
defend itself cannot be conquered. Frankfort, a free town, relies for
its defence on its treaties, and has never thought of opposing your
"Frankfort has found twenty-four millions for the Austrians," cried the
general, "and can easily find fifteen or eighteen for us. But if it
refuses, I myself will find them. Four hours only of pillage and we
shall see if your street of the Jews and the coffers of your bankers do
not produce twice as much."
"I doubt, general," said Fellner coldly, "whether Germans can be got to
treat Germans in such a way."
"Who speaks of Germans? I have a Polish regiment brought expressly."
"We have done no harm to the Poles; we have afforded them a refuge
against you whenever they required it. The Poles are not our enemies;
the Poles will not pillage Frankfort."
"That is just what we are going to see," said the general, stamping his
foot with one of those oaths of which the Prussians enjoy the monopoly.
"I don't care a damn if I am called a second Duke of Alva, and I warn
you that if at six o'clock to-day the money is not paid, you will be
arrested to-morrow and thrown into a dungeon, which you will leave only
when the last thaler of the 7,747,008 florins is paid."
"We know your first minister's maxim, 'Might is right.' Dispose of us as
you wish," answered Fellner.
"At five o'clock, the men whom I shall order to receive the seven
million florins will be at the door of the bank, in readiness to
transport the money to my headquarters." Then he added so that the
burgomaster could hear the orders: "Arrest and bring before me, the
Journalist Fischer, editor in chief of the 'Post Zeitung.' I shall
commence with him in dealing with the newspaper men and the newspapers."
* * * * *
Two hours later Fischer was arrested in his house where, after a
communication from Fellner he had remained in expectation of the event,
and brought to headquarters. General Falkenstein had contrived to keep
himself at boiling point, so the moment he saw Fischer:
"Let him enter," he said, in the third person, which in Germany is the
sign of the most profound contempt. And, as Fischer did not enter as
quickly as the general wished, he cried: "A thousand thunders! if he
hangs back, shove him in."
"Here I am," said Fischer; "forewarned of your intention I could have
left Frankfort, but it is my custom to face danger."
"Oh! so you knew that you would be in danger, Mr. Pocket-pen, when you
"An unarmed man is always in danger from a powerful armed enemy."
"You consider me your enemy, then?"
"The indemnity you have exacted from Frankfort and your threats against
Herr Fellner are not those of a friend, you will allow."
"Oh! you have no need to await my threats and orders to declare yourself
my enemy. We know your paper, and it is because we know it that you are
going to sign the following declaration. Sit down there, take a pen, and
"I take a pen; but, before using it, what are you about to dictate?"
"You want to know? Well, here it is. I, Dr. Fischer Goullet, Councillor
of State, editor in chief.... But you are not writing."
"Finish your sentence, sir, and if I decide to write I will do so."
"Editor-in-chief of the 'Post Zeitung,' acknowledge myself guilty of
systematic and calumnious hostility towards the Prussian Government."
Fischer threw down the pen.
"I will never write that, sir," said he; "it is false."
"Tempests and thunders!" cried the general, making a step towards him.
"You give me the lie."
Fischer took a newspaper from his pocket.
"This will inform you better than I can, sir," he said; "it is the last
issue of my paper published an hour before your entry here. This is what
I wrote in it:
"'The history of the days which are to come is written at the point
of the bayonet. It is not for the citizens of Frankfort to change
anything. For the population of a small and weak state there is
nothing else to do but to succour the combatants, whether friends
or enemies: they must dress wounds, nurse the sick, exercise
charity towards all. Right behaviour is as much the duty of every
one as obedience towards the responsible authority.'"
Then, seeing the general shrugging his shoulders, Fischer in his turn
took a step forward and holding out his paper:
"Read yourself, if you doubt me," said he.
The general tore it from his hands.
"You wrote that yesterday," he said white with rage, "because yesterday
you felt us coming, because, yesterday, you were afraid of us." And
tearing up the newspaper he crushed it into a ball and threw it in the
Councillor's face, shouting; "You are a coward."
Fischer threw a wild glance around him as if for a weapon with which to
avenge this insult; then with his hand to his forehead he staggered,
turned round with a strangled cry and fell in a heap, killed by the
bursting of a blood vessel in the brain.
The general went to him, pushed him with his foot, and seeing that he
"Throw this rascal into a corner," said he to his soldiers, "until his
family comes to fetch him."
The soldiers dragged the corpse into a corner of the ante-room.
Meanwhile, Fellner, fearing that harm would befall his friend, had run
to Hannibal Fischer, the journalist's father, and had told him of the
general's orders. Hannibal Fischer was an old man of eighty, he went to
the headquarters and asked for his son. The son had been seen going up
to the first floor where General Falkenstein held his audiences, but no
one had seen him leave. The old man went up and asked for the general.
He had gone to lunch and his door was closed.
"Sit down there," said some one, "he may return."
"Cannot you tell him that it is a father who claims his son?"
"What on?" asked one of the soldiers.
"My son, Councillor Fischer, who was arrested this morning."
"Why, it is the father," said the soldier to his comrade.
"If he wants his son, let him take him," said the other.
"How, take him?" said the old man, bewildered.
"Certainly," answered the soldier. "There he is waiting for you." And
he pointed to the corpse in the corner.
The father approached the body, knelt on one knee and raised his son's
"Then they have killed him?" he asked the soldiers.
"No, indeed, he died of his own accord."
The father kissed the corpse on the forehead.
"These are unhappy days," he said, "in which fathers bury their
Then he went down, called a street porter, sent him for three of his
mates, mounted again to the ante-chamber and showing them the body:
"Take my son," he said, "and bear him to my house." The men took the
body on their shoulders and bore him to a barrow. The father walked
before it bare-headed and pale, his eyes bathed in tears; and to all who
questioned him about this strange procession, carrying a dead man
through the town without a priest, replied: "It is my son, Councillor
Fischer, whom the Prussians have killed." And thus the news spread over
GENERAL MANTEUFFEL'S THREATS
At five o'clock in the afternoon of July 17th, as the general had said,
he sent to the bank a squad of eight men under the command of a
sergeant-major, accompanied by two men with wheel-barrows for the seven
million florins. His notion of the weight of the coin, which in gold
would amount to more than fifty tons, must have been a curious one.
Seeing his men return without the money, General Falkenstein declared
that if it were not forthcoming the next day he would permit pillage and
bombardment. Meanwhile the members Bernus and Speltz were arrested and
conducted to the guard-room, when, having left them in view behind the
bars for two hours to convince every one of his power over the town
authorities, he sent them off to Cologne with four soldiers and a letter
for the governor.
This act of brutality had its effect. It alarmed a great many
influential people who went to find the bank manager and urge him to
advance the seven millions demanded. The directors of the bank gave way
and the money was paid to the last florin on July 19th.
The same day the city battalion was disbanded in the presence of the
Prussian Colonel von der Goltz. The soldiers had not expected this, and
some of the oldest of them shed tears.
At the same time, the Prussians took their fill of the townspeople's
horses. They requisitioned seven hundred, including two little ponies of
Madame de Rothschild. The carriages were then seized, and if a lady
happened to take a cab she was obliged when she met an officer in search
of one, to get out in the mud and leave him to take her place.
Two orders wore circulated. The first enjoined the presentation at the
police station every morning, before eight o'clock, of a list of all
travellers who had arrived in the hotels and boarding-houses.
Many societies formed for divers purposes such as gymnastics, education,
and the like, were called before the commander-in-chief and dissolved.
Such of them as had for object military exercises were invited to
deposit their arms. Finally the general addressed to the presidents of
the societies some kindly words upon the necessity of the measures
taken, and upon the actual situation in general. You ask me how kindly
words could be uttered by M. de Falkenstein. Reassure yourself, the
illustrious general had not altered his habits. Having received his
millions at two o'clock he had at once left Frankfort. General Wranzel
acted as his deputy for two or three hours and showed a smiling face
between two morose ones, for at five o'clock, General Manteuffel
arrived. He at once issued the following order:
"To assure the subsistence of the Prussian troops a storehouse will
be at once established in this town of Frankfort-on-the-Main, by
order of His Excellency the Lieutenant-General Manteuffel,
commander-in-chief of the army of the Main. It will be provisioned
15.000 loaves of bread of 5 lbs. 9 ozs.
1,480 hundredweight of sea biscuits.
600 " of beef.
800 " of smoked bacon.
450 " of rice.
450 " of coffee.
100 " of salt.
5,000 " of hay.
"A third part of these quantities is to be placed at our disposal
in convenient places between now and the morning of the 21st. The
second third on the 21st in the evening, and the last third on July
22nd at the latest.
"Frankfort, July 20th, 1866.
"The Military Superintendent of the army of the Main.
The unhappy townspeople had believed themselves free from these imposts
according to General Falkenstein's promise--except, indeed, as regards
cigars, of which both the Prussian officers and men required nine
provided each day.
The next day, while at breakfast with his family towards ten o'clock,
Fellner received a letter from the new commander. It was addressed: "To
the Very Illustrious Herren Fellner and Müller, proxies of the town of
Frankfort." He turned it and turned it about between his hands without
unsealing it. Madame Fellner trembled, Herr Kugler, his brother-in-law,
grew pale, and seeing the drops of perspiration on their father's
forehead as he sighed deeply, the children began to cry. At last he
opened it, but seeing his pallor as he read, all rose to their feet
awaiting his first words. But he said nothing, he let his head fall on
his breast and dropped the letter on the floor. His brother-in-law
picked it up and read:
"To the Very Illustrious Herren Fellner and Müller, proxies of the
government in this town.
"You are invited by these presents to take the necessary measures
for a war indemnity of twenty-five millions of florins to be paid
within twenty-four hours to the pay office of the Army of the Main
in this town.
"The Commander-in-Chief of the Army of the Main,
"Oh!" murmured Fellner, "my poor Fischer, you are fortunate."
Within two hours bills which Messrs. Fellner and Müller had had printed
were posted all over the town. They consisted of General Manteuffel's
letter to them with this addition:
"The Burgomasters Fellner and Müller declare that they will die rather
than assist in the spoliation of their fellow citizens."
The blow to the city was the more terrible because it was entirely
unexpected. The city had just paid more than six millions of florins,
had contributed in goods an equivalent sum, and was billeting soldiers
at a crushing expense. Some had ten, others twenty, thirty, or even
fifty soldiers. General Falkenstein had prescribed the soldiers' rations
as for the officers, they were entitled to anything they asked for. A
soldier's daily rations comprised, coffee and accessories in the
morning; a pound of meat, vegetables, bread, and half a bottle of wine
at noon; a collation with a pint of beer in the evening, in addition
eight cigars. These cigars had to be specially bought from the dealers
coming with the army. Usually the soldiers demanded and got an extra
meal at ten in the morning of bread-and-butter and brandy, and after
lunch they got coffee. The sergeant-majors had to be treated like
officers, being provided with roast meat and a bottle of wine at dinner,
with coffee to follow. Havana cigars, eight in number, were insisted on.
The citizens dared not complain, for the soldiers whatever they did were
always found to be in the right. But when they heard of this new
exaction of General Manteuffel, used as they were to theft and rapine on
the part of the Prussians, the Frankfortians, mute with astonishment,
looked at each other, not being able to grasp the extent of their
misfortune. As soon as the news was actually billed they rushed in
crowds to see it with their own eyes. Hours were spent in deploring the
enemy's greed, but nothing was done towards obeying the order.
Meanwhile, some of the chief citizens, M. de Rothschild among them, had
gone to seek General Manteuffel. In reply to their observations he said:
"To-morrow my cannon will be trained upon all the chief points of the
town, and if in three days I have not half of the contribution, and the
rest in six, I double it."
"General," answered M. de Rothschild, "you know the range of your
cannons I do not doubt, but you do not know that of the measures you are
taking--if you ruin Frankfort, you ruin the neighbouring provinces."
"Very well, gentlemen," answered Manteuffel, "the contribution, or
pillage and bombardment."
In spite of the intervention of the foreign legations, those of France,
Russia, England, Spain, and Belgium, on July 23rd, masses of troops were
put in movement with loaded cannon. These were ranged on the chief
spaces in the town. At the same time batteries were established on the
Muhlberger and the Roederberg, as also on the left bank of the Main.
Brigadier-General Roeder, who had replaced General Manteuffel, had
brought with him General Sturm and his brigade. Baron von Bülow was the
principal staff officer of this brigade, and, as we have related, on the
day the Prussians entered Frankfort he had safeguarded the Chandroz
family, by placing four men and a serjeant-major in their house. The
serjeant-major bore a letter for Madame von Beling, informing her why
she was thus garrisoned and urging her to prepare the best rooms on her
first floor for General Sturm and his suite. Madame von Beling acted on
these instructions, and the men had better rations and cigars supplied
to them than if the municipality had catered for them.
After the surgeon's departure Karl lay still unconscious, but his
breathing gradually became more perceptible. Towards evening he uttered
a sigh, opened his eyes, and by a slight movement of his left hand
seemed to beckon Helen. She rushed to him, seized his hand and placed
her lips upon it. Benedict wished her to retire, promising to watch over
Karl, but Helen refused, saying that no one but herself should nurse
Benedict being desirous of ridding himself of the sailor's clothes in
which he had descended the river before General Sturm arrived, and
having no other suit, left the house to get a new outfit. Lenhart was at
the front door with his carriage and, driving to the port, he soon found
Fritz and his boat. There was his uniform, with his pistols and carbine.
He took them and put them in the carriage. Frisk, who had spent the day
incessantly watching for his master, joyfully jumped in. Benedict gave
Fritz twenty florins and sent him back to Aschaffenburg. Then Lenhart
took him to a tailor where he had no difficulty in obtaining an outfit.
Next he took a bath. He had fought during the whole of the 14th and had
not closed his eyes during thirty-six hours, so he found it refreshing.
Afterwards he allowed Lenhart to take him to his own house, and there he
got between the sheets.
When he awoke it was ten o'clock; he had slept for six hours. He rushed
to the Chandrozes. He found Helen as he had left her kneeling by Karl's
bed. She raised her head and smiled. She also had not slept for thirty
hours, but the devotion of women knows no bounds. Nature has intended
them for sisters of charity. Love is as strong as life itself.
Karl seemed to sleep; it was evident that, as no blood flowed to it, the
brain was in a state of torpor; but every time a spoonful of syrup of
digitalis was placed in his mouth he absorbed it better. Benedict's work
was to renew the ice which dripped upon the arm, washing the wound made
first by the cuirassier's sabre and then by the doctor's lancet.
Towards eight in the morning Emma came into the room for news of the
wounded man. She found Helen asking Benedict for more ice. He was an
entire stranger to Emma, but by a flash of intuition she guessed him to
be the man who had spared her husband's life. She was thanking him when
Hans came to announce Fellner. The worthy man was afraid that the
Prussians would break into the house, and came to offer his services.
While they were talking, Frederic arrived with the news that his general
was only five minutes behind him.
Nothing can describe Emma's joy and happiness in seeing Frederic. The
war was nearly over, rumours of peace became stronger, her Frederic was
then out of danger. Love is egoistic, scarcely had she thought of what
was happening in the city; the entry of the Prussians, their exactions,
their imposts, their brutalities, the death of Herr Fischer; all these
seemed vague--a letter from Frederic had been the important event.
Frederic: it was he whom she embraced. He was safe and sound, unwounded,
and no longer in danger. Keenly interested as she was in her sister and
Karl and their mutual love, she felt how fortunate Frederic was that he
was not Karl.
Frederic went up to Karl, who recognized him and smiled.
While General Sturm ate a splendid dinner, Frederic, to whom Benedict
had whispered a few words about the behaviour of the Prussians at
Frankfort, went out to judge for himself. He was told that the Senate
was sitting and he went in. The Senate declared that the demand made
upon it being impossible of fulfilment it submitted itself to the
On leaving the Senate, Frederic saw the cannon trained on the town, the
crowds round all the posted bills. He saw besides, entire families
driven from their homes by the Prussians, bivouacking on the open
spaces. The men were swearing, the women were in tears. A mother was
calling for vengeance, as she tended her child of ten, through whose arm
a bayonet had been thrust. Without knowing what he did the unfortunate
child had followed a Prussian, singing the song that the people of
Sachsenhausen had made on the Prussians:
Warte, kuckuck, warte
Bald kommt Bonaparte
Der wird alles wieder holen
Was ihr hobt bei uns gestohlen.
The Prussian had used his bayonet on the lad. But instead of consoling
the mother and calling for vengeance with her, the passers-by had signed
to her to be quiet, to dry her tears and wipe the blood away; so great
was the general terror.
The Prussians, however, had not everywhere had a like experience. One of
them lodging with a man of Sachsenhausen, to frighten him had drawn his
sabre and placed it on the table. The man without offering any remark
had gone out and returned within five minutes with an iron trident,
which he in his turn put on the table. "What does this signify?" the
Prussian had asked. "Well," was the reply, "you wanted to show me that
you had a fine knife, and I have wanted to convince you that I have a
fine fork." The Prussian had taken the joke badly, he had tried to make
play with his sabre and had been transfixed to the wall with the
Passing by Hermann Mumm's house, the baron noticed him sitting at his
door, his head buried in his hands. He touched him on the shoulder. Mumm
"Is that you?" he said, "and have you pillagers also?"
"Pillagers?" asked Frederic.
"Come and see! Look at my china which my family for three generations
has collected--all broken. My cellar is empty, and naturally so, for I
have been lodging two hundred soldiers and fifteen officers. Listen to
them!" And Frederic heard shouts from within of "wine, more wine! or we
blow the place to pieces with cannon balls!"
He went into the house. Poor Mumm's fine house looked like a stable. The
floors were covered with wine, straw, and filth. Not a window remained
whole, not an article of furniture was unbroken.
"Look at my poor tables," said the unhappy Mumm. "At them have sat for
over a century the best people of Frankfort; yes, the king, many
princes, and the members of the Diet have dined at them. Not a year ago
Frau and Fräulein von Bismarck complimented me on the collation I gave
them. And now, days of horror and desolation have come, and Frankfort is
Frederic was powerless and could only leave the place. He well knew that
neither General Roeder nor General Sturm would stop the pillaging.
Roeder was ruthless, Sturm was mad. He was an old style Prussian
general, who when opposed struck down the obstacle.
Presently he met Baron von Schele, the postmaster-general. Since the
entry of the Prussians he had received the order to institute a
censorship, unsealing letters and drawing up reports upon those who
discovered hostile feelings to the Prussian government. He had refused
to obey, and, his successor having arrived from Berlin, the censorship
was in operation. Von Schele, who looked on Frederic as a Frankfortian
rather than a Prussian, told him all this and invited him and his
friends to resist.
He reached Fellner's with a broken heart and found all the family in
despair. Fellner had just received the official intimation of the
refusal of the chief commercial houses to pay the millions demanded by
the Prussians and the decree of the Senate in the matter. Although as a
member of the Senate he knew its contents, he was re-reading it
mechanically, while his wife and children sobbed around him, for all
feared what excesses the Prussians might commit on receipt of the
refusal. While they sat together, Fellner was informed of the decision
just come to by the Legislative Assembly, that a deputation should be
sent to the king to obtain the remission of the imposition of
twenty-five millions of florins exacted by General Manteuffel.
"Ah," said Frederic, "if only I could see the King of Prussia."
"Why not?" said Fellner, catching at a straw.
"Impossible, my dear Fellner, I am only a soldier. When a general
commands I must obey. But, if the millions are going to be found, my
family will contribute its share."
Being powerless to assist Fellner, he left him and had walked a few
steps when a soldier saluted and asked him to proceed to General Sturm
who was waiting for him.
General Sturm was a biggish, strongly made man of about two and fifty.
He had a small head, with a high brow. His round face was red and when
he was angry, which was often, it became crimson. His large eyes were
almost always injected with blood, and he glared with fixed pupils when,
as invariably was the case, he wished to be obeyed. All this, with his
big mouth, thin lips, yellow teeth, menacing eyebrows, aquiline nose,
and thick, short red neck, made him a formidable looking man. His voice
was loud and penetrating, his gestures commanding, his movements
brusque and rapid. He walked with long strides, he despised danger, but
nevertheless seldom encountered any unless it was worth his while.
He had a passion for plumes, red, waving colours, the smell of powder,
of gaming; he was as brusque in his words as in his movements; violent
and full of pride he brooked contradictions ill and readily flew into a
passion. Then his face grew a crimson-violet, his grey eyes became
golden and seemed to emit sparks. At such times, he completely forgot
all the decencies of life, he swore, he insulted, he struck.
Nevertheless he had some common sense, for knowing that he must from
time to time have duels to fight, he spent his spare time in sword
exercise and pistol shooting with the _maître-d'armes_ of the regiment.
And it must be allowed that he was a first-rate performer with both
weapons; and, not only so, he had what was called "an unfortunate hand,"
and where another would have wounded slightly he wounded badly, and
frequently he killed his adversary. This had happened ten or twelve
times. His real name was _Ruhig_, which means peaceful, so inappropriate
to its owner that he received the surname of _Sturm_, meaning storm or
tempest. By this name he was always known. He had made a reputation for
ferocity in the war against the Bavarians in 1848-49.
When Frederic presented himself he was relatively calm. Sitting in a
great chair, and it was rare for him to be seated, he almost smiled.
"Ah, it is you," he said. "I was asking for you. General Roeder was
here. Where have you been?"
"Excuse me, general," Frederic answered. "I had gone to my mother-in-law
for news of one of my friends, who was seriously wounded in the battle."
"Ah! yes," said the general, "I heard about him--an Austrian. It is too
good of you to enquire about such imperial vermin. I should like to see
twenty-five thousand of them lying on the battlefield, where I would let
them rot from the first man to the last."
"But, your Excellency, he was a friend--"
"Oh, very well--the matter is not in question. I am satisfied with you,
baron," said General Sturm, in the same voice in which another man would
have said "I loathe you!" "and I wish to do something for you."
"General Roeder was asking for a man with whom I am well pleased, to
carry to His Majesty King William I, whom God preserve, the two Austrian
and Hessian flags taken by us in the battle of Aschaffenburg. I have
thought of you, dear baron. Will you accept the mission?"
"Your Excellency," replied Frederic, "nothing could honour or delight me
more. If you recollect, it was the king who placed me near you; to bring
me into contact with the king in such circumstances is to do me a favour
and to do him, I dare hope, a pleasure."
"Well, you must leave within the hour and not come to me with 'my little
wife,' or 'my grandmother.' An hour suffices for embracing all the
grandmothers and all the wives in the world, all sisters and children
into the bargain. The flags are in the ante-room there. Within the hour
jump on the train on your way to Bohemia, and to-morrow you will be with
the king at Sadowa. Here is your letter of introduction to His Majesty.
Frederic took the letter and saluted, his heart full of joy; he had not
had to ask for leave; as if the general had read, had known his dearest
wish, he had offered it, and with it had done him a favour of which he
had not dreamt.
In two bounds he had reached Benedict.
"My dear friend," he said, "I leave for Sadowa in an hour, but hesitate
to say with what object."
"Tell me all the same," said Benedict.
"Well, I am taking the flags captured from the Austrians."
"And you can take them without grieving me; for, if all Prussians were
like yourself, I should have fought with them and not with the
Hanoverians and Austrians," said Benedict. "Now go and say your adieux."
He was still embracing his wife and little child, when the same soldier
who had already been sent to him, called to ask him not to take the
flags without exchanging a last word with the general.
Wait, wait a bit, cuckoo,
Bonaparte is coming, who
Soon will force you
All you stole from us before.
THE BREAKING OF THE STORM
The general received Frederic with the same calm and gracious expression
"Excuse me for delaying," he said, "after I was so anxious to speed you;
but I have a little service to ask."
"It is about General Manteuffel's subsidy of twenty-five millions of
florins. You know about it, don't you?"
"Yes," said Frederic, "and it is a heavy impost for a poor city with
some 40,000 inhabitants."
"You mean 72,000," said Sturm.
"No, there are only about 40,000 Frankfortians, the remainder of the
72,000 counted as natives are strangers."
"What does that matter?" said Sturm, becoming impatient. "The statistics
say 72,000 and General Manteuffel has made his calculation accordingly."
"But if he has made an error, it seems to me that those who are charged
with the execution of his order should point it out."
"That is not our affair. We are told 72,000 inhabitants, and 72,000
there therefore are. We are told 25 million florins, and 25 million
florins there are also. That is all! Just fancy! the senators have
declared, that we can burn the town, but they will not pay the subsidy."
"I was present," said Frederic quietly, "and the sitting was admirably
conducted, with much dignity, calm, and sorrow."
"Ta ta ta ta," said Sturm. "General Manteuffel before leaving gave
General Roeder the order to get in these millions. Roeder has ordered
the town to pay them. The Senate has chosen to deliberate; that is its
own affair. Roeder came round to me about it, it is true; but I told him
that it was nothing to worry about. I said. 'The chief of my staff
married in Frankfort; he knows the town like his own land, everyone's
fortune even to shillings and half-pence. He will indicate five and
twenty millionaires.' There are twenty-five of them here, are there
"More than that," answered Frederic.
"Good; we will commence with them, and if there is a balance the others
shall supply it."
"And have you reckoned on me to give you the names?"
"Certainly. All I require is twenty-five names and five and twenty
addresses. Sit down there, my dear fellow, and write them out."
Frederic sat down, took a pen and wrote;
"Honour obliging me to decline to denounce my fellow citizens, I
beg the illustrious Generals von Roeder and Sturm to obtain the
desired information elsewhere than from myself.
"Frankfort, July 22nd, 1866.
"FREDERIC BARON VON BÜLOW."
Then, rising and bowing low, he put the paper in the general's hands.
"What is this?" he asked.
"Read, it, general," said Frederic.
The general read it, and gave his chief of the staff a side glance.
"Ah! ah!" he said, "I see how I am answered when I ask a favour; let me
see how I am answered when I command. Sit there and write--"
"Order me to charge a battery, and I will do it, but do not order me to
become a tax collector."
"I have promised General Roeder to get him the names and addresses and
have told him that you will supply them. He will send for the list
directly. What am I to say to him?"
"You will tell him that I have refused to give it."
Sturm crossed his arms and approached Frederic.
"And do you think that I will allow a man under my orders to refuse me
"I think you will reflect that you gave me not only an unjust but a
dishonouring order and you will appreciate the reason of my refusal. Let
me go, general, and call a police officer; he will not refuse you, for
it will be all in his work."
"Baron," replied Sturm, "I considered I was sending the king a good
servant for whom I asked a reward. I cannot reward a man of whom I have
to complain. Give me back His Majesty's letter."
Frederic disdainfully tossed the letter on the table. The general's face
grew purple, livid marks appeared upon it, his eyes flamed.
"I will write to the king," he cried furiously, "and he will learn how
his officers serve him."
"Write your account, sir, and I will write mine," answered Frederic,
"and he will see how his generals dishonour him."
Sturm rushed and seized his horsewhip.
"You have said dishonoured, sir. You will not repeat the word, I
"Dishonoured," said Frederic coldly.
Sturm gave a cry of rage and raised his whip to strike his young
officer, but observing Frederic's complete calm he let it fall.
"Who threatens strikes, sir," Frederic answered, "and it is as if you
had struck me."
He turned to the table and wrote a few lines. Then he opened the door of
the ante-room and calling the officers who were there:
"Gentlemen, he said, I confide this paper to your loyalty. Read what it
"I tender my resignation as chief of General Sturm's staff and
officer in the Prussian army.
"Dated at noon July 22nd, 1866.
"FREDERIC VON BÜLOW."
"Which means?" asked Sturm.
"Which means that I am no longer in His Majesty's service nor in yours,
and that you have insulted me. Gentlemen, this man raised his horsewhip
over me. And having insulted me, you owe me reparation. Keep my
resignation, gentlemen, and bear witness that I am free from all
military duty at the moment I tell this man that he is no longer my
chief, and consequently that I am not his inferior. Sir, you have
injured me mortally, and I will kill you, or you will kill me."
Sturm burst out laughing.
"You give your resignation," he said, "well, I do not accept it. Place
yourself in confinement. Sir," said he, stamping his foot and walking
towards Frederic, "to prison for fifteen days with you."
"You have no longer the right to give me an order," said Frederic,
detaching his epaulettes.
Sturm, exasperated, livid, foaming at the mouth, again raised his whip
upon the chief of his staff, but this time he slashed his cheek and
shoulder with it. Frederic, who until now had held himself in, uttered a
cry of rage, made a bound aside and drew his sword.
"Imbecile," shouted Sturm, with a burst of laughter, "you will be shot
after a court martial."
At this Frederic lost his head completely and threw himself upon the
general, but he found four officers in his path. One whispered to him:
"Save yourself; we will calm him."
"And I," said Frederic, "I who have been struck; who will calm me?"
"We give you our word of honour that we have not seen the blow," said
"But _I_ have _felt_ it. And as I have given my word of honour that one
of us must die, I must act accordingly. Adieu, gentlemen."
Two of the officers trying to follow him:
"Thunders and tempests! gentlemen," called the general after them. "Come
back; no one leaves this room except this madman who will be arrested by
the provost marshal."
The officers came back hanging their heads. Frederic burst out of the
room. The first person he met on the stairs was the old Baroness von
"Gracious heavens! what are you doing with a drawn sword?" she asked.
He put the sword in its scabbard. Then he ran to his wife and embraced
her and the baby.
* * * * *
Ten minutes later an explosion was heard in Frederic's room. Benedict,
who was with Karl, rushed to it and burst open the door.
Frederic was lying on the floor dead, his forehead shattered by a
bullet. He had left this note on the table:
"Struck in the face by General Sturm, who has refused to give me
satisfaction, I could not live dishonoured. My last wish is that my
wife in her widow's dress should leave this evening for Berlin, and
there beg from Her Majesty the Queen the remission of the subsidy
of twenty-five million florins, which the town as I testify is
unable to pay.
My friend, Benedict Turpin, will, I know, avenge me.
"FREDERIC, BARON VON BÜLOW."
Benedict had just time to read this when he turned at a cry behind him.
It was from the poor widow.
Benedict, leaving Emma in her mother's care, went to his room and wrote
four notes, each in these terms:
"Baron Frederic von Bülow has just shot himself in consequence of
the insult offered him by General Sturm, who has refused to give
him satisfaction. His body lies in the house of the Chandroz
family, and his friends are invited to pay their last respects
"P.S.--You are asked to make the news of his death known as widely
and publicly as possible."
Having signed them he sent them by Hans to four of Frederic's most
intimate friends. Then he went down to General Sturm's rooms and sent in
The name, "Benedict Turpin," was entirely unknown to General Sturm; he
had with him the officers who had witnessed the quarrel with Frederic,
and at once said: "Ask him to come in." Although he knew nothing of what
had passed the general's face plainly showed traces of furious passion.
Benedict came in.
"Sir," he said, "probably you are ignorant of the sequel to the
occurrence between you and my friend, Frederic von Bülow--the incident
which led to your insult. I have to inform you that my friend, since you
refused to give him satisfaction, has blown out his brains."
The general started in spite of himself. The officers, dismayed, looked
at each other.
"My friend's last wishes are recorded on this piece of paper. I will
The general, seized with nervous tremor, sat down.
Benedict read, speaking courteously and calmly.
"Struck in the face by General Sturm, who has refused to give me
satisfaction, I could not live dishonoured."
"You hear me, sir?" Benedict asked.
The general made a sign of assent.
"My last wish is that my wife in her widow's dress should leave this
evening for Berlin, and there beg from Her Majesty the Queen the
remission of the subsidy of twenty-five million florins which the town,
as I testify, is unable to pay."
"I have the honour to inform you, sir," added Benedict, "that I am going
to conduct Madame von Bülow to Berlin."
General Sturm got up.
"One moment," said Benedict. "There is a final line to read, and you
will see it is of some importance."
"My friend, Benedict Turpin, will, I know, avenge me."
"Which means, sir?" said, the general, while the officers stood
"Which means, that you shall hear from me immediately respecting the
time and place and weapons, for I mean to kill you and so avenge
Frederic von Bülow."
And Benedict, saluting first the general and then the young officers,
left the room before they had recovered from their surprise.
When he gained the other room, Emma, who had read her husband's last
words, was already making her preparations for her journey to Berlin.
Two things had principally struck Sturm in Frederic's short will. First;
the legacy to Benedict of vengeance; but we must do him the justice to
say that this was a minor consideration. There is an unfortunate error
amongst military men that courage is only to be found under a uniform,
and that one must have seen death at close quarters in order not to fear
it. Now we know that Benedict in this respect was on a level with the
bravest soldier. Under whatever aspect he encountered death, whether it
might be at the point of the bayonet, by the talons of a tiger, the
trunk of an elephant, or the poisonous fang of a serpent; still it was
death--the farewell to sunshine, life, love; to all that is glorious and
all that makes the breast beat high; and in its place, that dark mystery
which we call the grave. But Sturm did not recognize the threat of
death, for he was protected by his individual temperament and character
from perceiving it. He could only recognize an actual menace accompanied
by shouts, gesticulations, threats, and oaths. And Benedict's extreme
politeness gave him no idea of serious danger. He supposed, as all
vulgarians do, that any one who goes duelling with the courtesy of the
ordinary forms of life is arming at preserving by his politeness a means
Therefore Frederic's legacy to Benedict troubled him little. But it was
also prescribed that Madame von Bülow should start for Berlin to beg of
the queen the remission of the fine imposed upon Frankfort. He decided
to see General von Roeder without a moment's delay and tell him what had
He found Roeder furious at the Senate's decision. After listening to
Sturm he determined to have recourse again to his old tactics. He took a
pen and wrote:
"To Herren Fellner and Müller, burgomasters of Frankfort and
"I have to request you to supply me by ten o'clock to-morrow
morning with a list of the names and addresses of all members of
the Senate, of the permanent house of representation, and of the
Legislative Assembly, house-property owners being identified as
"P.S.--Scales for weighing gold are waiting at General von Roeder's
address. An answer to this despatch is requested."
Then he directed an orderly to deliver the document to Fellner as the
senior burgomaster. Fellner was not at home. He had just received
Benedict's sad tidings; and being one of Frederic's most intimate
friends had hastened to the Chandroz' house, telling the news to all
whom he met on the way.
In less time than it takes to relate, the fact of Frederic's death burst
upon the town, and its leading citizens, scarcely able to credit it,
flocked to the room where his body lay.
Fellner was astonished at not seeing Emma; heard that she had gone to
Berlin, and was asking the cause of this incomprehensible step when
Councillor Kugler burst in, General Roeder's letter in his hand.
Fellner opened it at once, read it, meditated; and approaching the bier
gazed at his dead friend. After a few seconds of contemplation, he
stooped, kissed the forehead, and murmured: "It is not only the soldier
who knows how to die."
Then he slowly left the house, crossed the town with bent head, reached
the house and shut himself up in his room. Supper time came. Supper is
an important meal in Germany. It is the cheerful repast, at which, in
commercial towns especially, the head of the family has time to enjoy
the society of his wife and children; for dinner at two o'clock is only
an interval hastily snatched in business hours. But by eight, o'clock
business people have thrown off their harness; the hour of domestic
pleasure has come. Before refreshing sleep descends to prepare men for
another day there is an interval in which to enjoy all that they hold
dear within the four walls of home.
Nothing of the sort was possible on this evening of July 22nd at the
Fellners'. The burgomaster showed perhaps even more than his customary
fondness for his children, but it was touched with melancholy. His wife,
whose gaze never left him, was unable to speak a word; tears stood in
her eyes. The elder children observing their mother's sadness sat
silent; and the little ones' voices like the chirping of birds, drew for
the first time no smiling response from their parents.
Herr von Kugler was mournful. He was one of those men who act promptly
and vigorously, without deviating from the straight course of honour. No
doubt he had already said to himself: "Were I in his place, this is what
I should do."
Supper dragged on. All seemed reluctant to rise from the table. The
children had dropped asleep, no summons having come from the nurse. At
last, Mina, the eldest girl, went to the piano to close it for the night
and unconsciously touched the keys.
The burgomaster shivered.
"Come Mina," he said, "play Weber's 'Last Thought'; you know it's my
Mina began to play, and the pure melancholy notes poured forth like
golden beads dropped on a salver of crystal. The burgomaster propped his
bowed head in his hands as he listened to that sweet poetic melody, the
final note of which expired like the last sigh of an angel exiled to
Fellner rose and kissed the girl. She exclaimed in alarm:
"What is the matter with you, father? you are crying."
"I?" said Fellner quickly. "What nonsense, my child," and he tried to
"Oh!" murmured Mina, "you can say what you like, father, but I felt a
tear; and see," she added, "my cheek is wet."
Fellner put a hand on her mouth. Mina kissed it.
At this the father nearly gave way, but Kugler murmured in his ear:
"Be a man, Fellner!" He grasped his brother-in-law's hand.
Eleven o'clock struck--never except for a dance or evening party had the
family sat up so late. Fellner kissed his wife and the children.
"But, surely you are not going out?" said Madame Fellner.
"No, my dear."
"Your kiss was like a goodbye."
"Goodbye for a little while," said the burgomaster, trying to smile.
"Don't be uneasy, I am going to work with your brother, that is all."
Madame Fellner looked at her brother and he gave a sign of assent. Her
husband took her to her bed-room door:
"Go to sleep, dear one," he said, "we have much work before us that must
be done before morning." She stood where she was until she had seen him
enter her brother's room.
Madame Fellner spent the night in prayer. This simple woman, whose only
eloquence was to say "I love you," found words to implore God for her
husband. She prayed so long and ardently, that at length sleep came to
her where she knelt; for great was her need of it.
When she opened her eyes the first light of the dawn was filtering
through the window blinds. Everything seems strange, fantastic, at such
an hour. It is neither night nor day and nothing looks as it does at any
other time. She gazed around. She felt weak and chilly and afraid. She
glanced at the bed--her husband was not there. She rose, but everything
danced before her eyes. "Is it possible," she thought, "that sleep
overtook him also while he worked? I must go to him." And, groping her
way through the passages, which were darker than her own room, she
reached his. She knocked on the door. There was no answer. She knocked
louder, but all was silent. A third time she knocked and called her
Then, trembling with anguish, under a premonition of the sight that
awaited her, she pushed open the door. Between her and the window, black
against the sun's first rays, hung her husband's body suspended above an
All through the night that was so sorrowful for the Fellner family the
Baroness von Bülow was travelling rapidly to Berlin, where she arrived
about eight o'clock in the morning.
In any other circumstances she would have written to the queen, asked
for an audience, and fulfilled all the requirements of etiquette. But
there was no time to lose; General von Roeder had allowed only
four-and-twenty hours for the payment of the indemnity. It was due at
ten o'clock, and in case of refusal the city was threatened with
immediate pillage and bombardment. Notices at the corners of all the
streets proclaimed that at ten o'clock on the morrow the general with
his staff would be waiting in the old Senate Hall to receive the levy.
There was, indeed, not a moment to lose.
On leaving the train, therefore, Madame von Bülow took a cab and drove
straight to the Little Palace, where the queen had been living since the
beginning of the war. There Madame von Bülow asked for the chamberlain,
Waals, who, as has been said already, was a friend of her husband's; he
came instantly, and seeing her dressed all in black, cried out:
"Good God! has Frederic been killed?"
"He has not been killed, my dear count, he has killed himself,"
answered the baroness, "and I want to see the queen without a moment's
The chamberlain made no objections. He knew how highly the king valued
Frederic; he knew, also, that the queen was acquainted with his widow.
He hastened to go and beg the desired audience. Queen Augusta is known
throughout Germany for her extreme kindness and her distinguished
intelligence. No sooner had she heard from her chamberlain that Emma had
come, dressed in mourning, probably to implore some favour, than she
"Bring her in! Bring her in!"
Madame von Bülow was immediately summoned and, as she left the room in
which she had been waiting, she saw the door of the royal apartments
open and Queen Augusta waiting for her in the doorway. Without advancing
another step the baroness bent one knee to the ground. She tried to
speak, but the only words that escaped her lips were:
"Oh, Your Majesty!"
The queen came to her and raised her up.
"What do you want, my dear baroness?" she asked. "What brings you, and
why are you in mourning?"
"I am in mourning, Your Majesty, for a man and for a city very dear to
me, for my husband who is dead, and for my native city which is at
"Your husband is dead! Poor child! Waals told me so, and he added that
he had killed himself. What can have driven him to such a deed? Some
injustice must have been done him. Speak, and we will redress it."
"It is not that which brings me, madam; I am not the person to whom my
husband has left the duty of avenging him; in that respect I need only
leave God's will and his to take their course; what brings me, madam,
is the despair of my city upon whose ruin your armies, or rather your
generals, seem to be resolved."
"Come, my child, and tell me about it," said the queen.
She led Emma into her drawing-room and seated herself beside her; but
Emma slipped from the sofa and knelt once more before the queen.
"Madam, you know the city of Frankfort."
"I was there last year," said the queen, "and had the kindest possible
"May the remembrance of it help my words! General Falkenstein when he
came to our city began by laying upon it a tax of seven million florins;
that levy was paid, together with one, about equally heavy, in kind.
That made fourteen millions already, for a small town of seventy-two
thousand inhabitants, half of whom were foreigners, and consequently did
not contribute to the payment."
"And did Frankfort pay it?" asked the queen.
"Frankfort paid it, madam, for that was still possible. But General
Manteuffel arrived and put on a tax, in his turn, of twenty-five million
florins. Such a tax, if imposed upon eighteen million subjects, madam,
would yield more milliards of coin than the whole world contains. Well,
and at this very hour cannon are planted in the streets and on the
positions that command the town. If the sum is not paid at ten o'clock
to-day--and it will not be paid, madam, it is impossible--the city will
be bombarded and given over to pillage, a neutral unwalled city, which
has no gates, which has not defended itself and cannot defend itself."
"And how comes it, my child," asked the queen, "that you, a woman, have
taken upon yourself to ask justice for this city? It has a Council."
"It has one no longer, madam; the Council has been dissolved, and two of
the councillors arrested."
"And the burgomasters?"
"They do not dare to take any step for fear of being shot. God is my
witness, madam, that I did not put myself forward to come and plead for
that unhappy city. It was my dying husband who said to me 'Go!' and I
"But what can be done?" said the queen.
"Your Majesty needs no adviser but your heart. But, I repeat, if by ten
o'clock to-day, no counter-order comes from the king, Frankfort is
"If only the king were here," said the queen.
"Thanks to the telegraph, Your Majesty knows that there are no distances
now. A telegram from Your Majesty can receive an answer in half-an-hour,
and in another half-hour that answer can be sent to Frankfort."
"You are right," said Queen Augusta as she went towards a little bureau
loaded with papers.
"To His Majesty the King of Prussia.
"BERLIN, _July 23rd_, 1866.
"Sire, I approach you to entreat humbly and earnestly that the
indemnity of twenty-five million florins arbitrarily imposed upon
the city of Frankfort, which has already paid fourteen millions in
money and in kind, may be withdrawn.
"Your very humble servant and affectionate wife,
"P.S. Please reply immediately."
She handed the paper to Emma who read and returned it. Herr von Waals
was summoned and came instantly.
"Take this telegram to the telegraph office and wait for the answer. And
you, my child," continued the queen, "let us think about you. You must
be worn out, you must be starving."
A second time the queen touched her bell.
"Bring my breakfast here," said she; "the baroness will take some with
A collation was brought in, which the baroness scarcely touched. At
every footstep she started, believing it to be that of Herr von Waals.
At length hurried steps were heard, the door opened and Herr von Waals
appeared, holding a telegram in his hand.
Emma, forgetful of the queen's presence, rushed towards him, but paused
"Oh, madam, forgive me," said she.
"No, no," replied the queen, "take it and read it."
Emma, trembling, opened the despatch, glanced at it and uttered a cry of
joy. It contained these words:
"At the request of our beloved consort, the indemnity of
twenty-five million florins levied by General Manteuffel is
"Well," said the queen, "to whom should this despatch be sent in order
that it may arrive in time? You, dear child, are the person who has
obtained this favour, and the honour of it ought to rest with you. You
say it is important that the king's decision should be known in
Frankfort by ten o'clock. Tell me to what person it should be
"Indeed, madam, I do not know how to make any answer to so much
kindness," said the baroness, kneeling and kissing the queen's hands. "I
know that the proper person to whom to send it would be the
burgomaster; but who can tell whether the burgomaster may not have fled
or be in prison? I think the safest way--excuse my egoism, madam--but if
you do me the honour of consulting me, I would beg that it may be
addressed to Madame von Beling, my grandmother; she, very certainly,
will not lose a moment in putting it into the proper hands."
"What you wish shall be done, my dear child," said the queen, and she
added to the despatch:
"This favour has been granted to Queen Augusta by her gracious
consort, King William; but it was asked of the queen by her
faithful friend, Baroness Frederic von Bülow, her principal
The queen raised Emma from her knees, kissed her, unfastened from her
own shoulder the Order of Queen Louisa and fastened it on the baroness's
"As for you," she said, "you need some hours' rest, and you shall not go
until you have taken them."
"I beg Your Majesty's pardon," replied the baroness, "but two persons
are waiting for me, my husband and my child."
Nevertheless, as no train left until one in the afternoon, and as the
hour could neither be hastened nor retarded, Emma resigned herself to
The queen gave orders that she should receive the same attentions as
though she were already a lady-in-waiting, made her take a bath and some
hours' rest, and engaged a carriage for her in the train for Frankfort.
That city, meanwhile, was in consternation. General Roeder, with his
staff, was waiting in the Council Hall for the payment required; scales
were ready for the weighing. At nine o'clock the gunners, match alight
and in hand, came to take their places at the batteries.
The deepest terror prevailed throughout the town. From the arrangements
which they saw being made, the Frankforters judged that no mercy was to
be expected from the Prussian generals. The whole population was shut up
indoors waiting anxiously for the stroke of ten o'clock to announce the
All at once a terrible rumour began to circulate, that the burgomaster,
rather than denounce his fellow-citizens, had ended his life--had hanged
himself. At a few minutes before ten, a man dressed in black came out of
Herr Fellner's house; it was his brother-in-law, Herr von Kugler, and he
held in his hand a rope. He walked straight on, without speaking to
anybody, or stopping till he reached the Roemer, pushed aside with his
arm the sentinels who attempted to prevent his passing, and, entering
the hall in which General von Roeder was presiding, he advanced to the
scales and threw into one of them the rope that he had been carrying.
"There," said he, "is the ransom of the city of Frankfort."
"What does this mean?" asked General von Roeder.
"This means that, rather than obey you, Burgomaster Fellner hanged
himself with this rope. May his death fall upon the heads of those who
"But," returned General von Roeder brutally, while he continued to smoke
his cigar, "the indemnity must be paid all the same."
"Unless," quietly said Benedict Turpin, who had just come in, "King
William should withdraw it from the city of Frankfort."
And, unfolding the despatch that Madame von Beling had just received,
he read the whole of it in a loud voice to General von Roeder.
"Sir," said he, "I advise you to put the twenty-five million florins
into your profit and loss account. I have the honour to leave you the
despatch as a voucher."
THE TWO PROCESSIONS
Two very different pieces of news, one terrible, one joyful, ran
simultaneously through Frankfort. The terrible news was that the
burgomaster, who had filled two of the highest positions in the little
republic now extinct, who was the father of six children and a model of
the household virtues, had just hanged himself rather than yield to a
greedy and brutal soldier the secrets of private wealth. The joyful news
was that, thanks to Madame von Bülow's intervention and to the appeal
made by the queen to her husband, the city of Frankfort had been
relieved from the tax of twenty-five million florins.
It will easily be understood that nobody in the town talked of any other
subject. Astonishment and curiosity were even more aroused owing to the
occurrence of two mysterious deaths at the same time. People wondered
how it happened that Frederic von Bülow, after having been insulted by
his superior officer, should before he shot himself have charged his
wife with her pious errand to Berlin, seeing that he was no citizen of
Frankfort, but belonged, body and soul, to the Prussian army. Had he
hoped to redeem the terrible deeds of violence committed by his
countrymen? Moreover, the young officers who had been present at the
quarrel between Frederic and the general had not observed entire silence
about that quarrel. Many of them were hurt in their pride at being
employed to execute a vengeance of which the cause lay far back amid the
obscure resentments of a minister who had once been an ambassador. Those
who felt this said among themselves that they were acting the part not
of soldiers but of bailiffs and men-in-possession. They had repeated
some words of the dispute that had taken place before them and had left
the rest to be guessed.
Orders had been given prohibiting the printing of any placard without
the authorization of the officer in command; but every printer in
Frankfort was ready to contravene the order, and at the very moment when
Councillor Kugler threw the burgomaster's rope into the scale, a
thousand unseen and unknown hands were pasting upon the walls of
Frankfort the following notice.
"At three o'clock our worthy burgomaster Fellner hanged himself and
became the martyr of his devotion to the city of Frankfort. Citizens,
pray for him."
Benedict, on his part, had visited the printer of the "Journal des
Postes" who engaged to furnish, within two hours, two hundred copies of
the telegrams interchanged by the king and queen. He further undertook,
on condition that the notices were not unduly large, to get them posted
by his usual billstickers, who were ready to take the risk of officially
announcing the good news to their neighbours. Accordingly, two hours
later, two hundred bills were stuck beside the former ones. They
contained the following words:
"Yesterday, at two in the afternoon, as is already known, Baron von
Bülow blew out his brains, in consequence of a quarrel with General
Sturm, in the course of which the general had insulted him. The
causes of this quarrel will remain a secret for such people only as
do not care to solve it.
"One clause of the baron's will instructed Madame von Bülow to go
to Berlin, and to beg of Her Majesty Queen Augusta that the levy of
twenty-five million florins, imposed by General Manteuffel, might
be withdrawn. The baroness paused only long enough to put on
mourning garments before setting out.
"We are happy to be able to communicate to our fellow-citizens the
two royal despatches which she sent to us."
The crowds that collected before these notices can be imagined. For one
moment the stir that passed through the whole population assumed the
aspect of a riot; drums beat, patrols were organized, and the citizens
received an order to stay at home.
The streets became deserted. The gunners, whose matches, as we have said
already, had been lighted at ten in the morning, once more stood by
their cannon with their lighted matches in hand. This sort of threat
continued for thirty hours. However, as at the end of that time the
crowds were no longer collecting, as no conflicts took place, and no
shot was fired, all these hostile demonstrations ceased between the 25th
and the 26th.
Next morning fresh placards had been stuck up. They contained the
"To-morrow, July 26th, at two in the afternoon the funerals will
take place of the late burgomaster, Herr Fellner, and of the late
chief staff officer, Frederic von Bülow.
"Each party will start from the house of mourning and the two will
unite at the cathedral, where a service will be held for the two
"The families believe that no invitation beyond the present notice
will be necessary, and that the citizens of Frankfort will not fail
in their duty.
"The funeral arrangements for the burgomaster will be in the hands
of his brother-in-law, Councillor Kugler, and those of Major
Frederic von Bülow in the hands of M. Benedict Turpin, his
We will not endeavour to depict the homes of the two bereaved families.
Madame von Bülow arrived about one o'clock on the morning of the 24th.
Everybody in the house was up, and all were praying round the deathbed.
Some of the principal ladies of the town had come and were awaiting her
return; she was received like an angel bearing the mercies of heaven.
But after a few minutes the pious duty that had brought her so swiftly
to her husband's side was remembered. Everybody withdrew, and she was
left alone. Helen, in her turn, was watching by Karl. Twice in the
course of the day she had gone downstairs, knelt by Frederic's bedside,
uttered a prayer, kissed his forehead, and gone up again.
Karl was better; he had not yet returned to life, but he was returning.
His eyes reopened and were, able to fix themselves upon Helen's; his
mouth murmured words of love, and his hand responded to the hand that
pressed it. The surgeon, only, still remained anxious, and, while
encouraging the wounded man, would give Helen no reply; but, when he was
alone with her, would only repeat in answer to all her questions:
"We must wait! I can say nothing before the eighth or ninth day."
The house of Herr Fellner was equally full of mourning. Everybody who
had filled any post in the old republic, senators, members of the
Legislative Assembly, etc., came to salute this dead and just man, and
to lay on his bed wreaths of oak, of laurel, and _immortelles_.
From early in the morning of the 26th, as soon as the cannon were
perceived to have disappeared and the town to be no longer threatened
with slaughter at any unexpected moment, all the inhabitants congregated
about the two doors that were hung with black. At ten o'clock all the
trade guilds met together in the Zeil with their banners, as if for some
popular festivity of the free town. All the dissolved societies of the
city came with flags flying--although they had been forbidden to display
these ensigns--determined to live again for one more day. There was the
Society of Carabineers, the Gymnastic Society, the National Defence
Society, the new Citizens' Society, the young Militia Society, the
Sachsenhausen Citizens' Society, and the Society for the Education of
the Workers. Black flags had been hung out at a great number of houses,
among others at the casino in the street of Saint Gall, which belonged
to the principal inhabitants of Frankfort; at the club of the new
Citizens' Union, situated in the Corn Market, at that of the old
Citizens' Union in Eschenheim Street, and, finally, at the Sachsenhausen
Club--a club of the people, if there ever was one--belonging to the
inhabitants of that often mentioned suburb.
A gathering, almost as considerable, was collecting at the corner of the
Horse Market, near to the High Street. Here, it may be remembered, the
house was situated which was generally known in the town as the Chandroz
house, although nobody of that name now existed in it except Helen,
whose maiden name had not yet been changed for that of a husband. But in
the street that led to the burgomaster's house, the middle and
working-classes were assembled, while opposite to the Chandroz house the
crowd was made up mainly of that aristocracy of birth to which the house
The strangest feature of this second crowd was the number of Prussian
officers who had assembled to render the last honour to their comrade at
the risk of displeasing their superiors, Generals Roeder and Sturm.
These latter had had the good sense to leave Frankfort without making
any attempt whatever to suppress the display of public feeling.
When Councillor Kugler emerged from the burgomaster's house, following
the coffin and holding the dead man's two sons by the hand, cries of
"Hurrah for Madame Fellner! Hurrah for Madame Fellner and her children!"
rang out, in expression to her of the gratitude felt to her husband. She
understood this outburst rising to her from so many hearts at once, and
when she appeared, dressed in black, upon the balcony with her four
daughters, dressed likewise in black, sobs broke forth and tears flowed
from every eye.
The same thing happened as Frederic's coffin began its journey; it was
to Frederic's widow that Frankfort owed its escape from ruin. The cry of
"Hurrah for Madame von Bülow!" rose from hundreds of throats, and was
repeated until the fair young widow, wrapped in her draperies of black
crape, came forward to accept the expression of gratitude offered her by
the whole town.
Although the officers had received no order to attend Frederic's
funeral, although neither the drummers who usually precede the coffin of
a superior officer, nor the soldiers who usually follow it, had been
commanded to do so, yet, either from their military training or their
sympathy for the dead man, the drummers were present and so was the
escort of soldiers when the procession started, and it advanced towards
the cathedral to the sound of muffled drums. At the agreed point the two
processions united and went forward side by side, occupying the whole
width of the street. Only, like two rivers which run parallel, but of
which the waters do not mingle, the leaders of the two parties walked
forward. Behind the burgomaster's hearse followed the burghers and the
populace; behind that of Baron von Bülow the aristocracy and the
military. For the moment peace appeared to have been made between these
two populations, one of which weighed so cruelly upon the other that
only the death of a man universally esteemed could hold them together
for a few instants, leaving them to fall asunder immediately afterwards
into mutual hostility.
At the great door of the cathedral the coffins were lifted from the
hearses and laid side by side. Thence they were borne into the choir,
but the church had been so filled since early morning by a crowd, eager,
as the dwellers in large towns always are, for a spectacle, that there
was scarcely room for the two coffins to pass to the nave. The military
escort, the drums, and the company of soldiers followed them, but when
the crowd that accompanied the coffins tried to enter and find a place
in the building, it was impossible to do so, and more than three
thousand persons were left in the porch and in the street.
The ceremony began, solemn and lugubrious, accompanied by the occasional
roll of drums and the sound of gun stocks touching the ground; no one
could have said to which of the dead these military honours were being
paid, so that the unfortunate burgomaster had his share in the funeral
honours bestowed by the very body of men who had caused his death. It is
true that from time to time the Choral Society sang funeral hymns and
that the voices of the congregation, rising like a wave, stifled these
The service was long, and, although it lacked the impressive Roman
Catholic pomp, it did not fail to produce an immense effect upon those
who were present. Then the two processions set out for the cemetery, the
burgomaster attended by funeral chants, the officer by martial music.
The vault of the Chandroz family and that of the burgomaster were at a
distance from each other, so that the two parties separated. At the
grave of the civilian there were hymns, speeches, and wreaths of
_immortelles_, at that of the officer, firing and wreaths of laurel. The
double ceremonies were not entirely concluded until the evening, nor did
the gloomy and silent crowd return until then into its usual channels,
while the drummers, privates, and officers went to their quarters, if
not like a hostile troop, at least like a body altogether apart from the
Benedict had had in his mind throughout the ceremony the idea of
presenting himself on the morrow to General Sturm in the character of
Frederic's executor, and, as such, demanding satisfaction for the insult
offered to his friend. But when he returned to the house he found Emma
so overcome, Karl so weak, and the old Baroness von Beling so exhausted
by age and woe together, as to make him think that the unhappy Chandroz
family still needed him. Now in such a duel as that which he meant to
propose to General Sturm, one of the results must inevitably ensue;
either he would kill the general or the general would kill him. If he
killed the general, he would clearly have to leave Frankfort that very
moment, in order to escape the vengeance of the Prussians. If he were
killed he would become completely useless to the family which seemed in
need even more of his moral protection than of his material support. He
determined, therefore, to wait for some days, but promised himself, to
send his card daily to General Sturm--and he kept his word. General
Sturm could thus be sure, every morning, that though he might forget
Benedict, Benedict did not forget him.
THE TRANSFUSION OF BLOOD.
Three days had elapsed since the events just narrated. The first bursts
of grief in the two bereaved households were appeased, and though there
were still tears there were no longer sobs.
Karl grew better and better; for two days past he had raised himself in
his bed and had been able to give signs of consciousness, not only by
broken utterances, tender exclamations, and endearing words, but by
taking part in conversation. His brain, which like the rest of his body
had been greatly enfeebled, was gradually recovering the supremacy which
it exercises over the rest of the body in health.
Helen, who beheld this resurrection, and was at the age when youth gives
one hand to love and one to hope, rejoiced in this visible recovery as
though heaven itself had promised that no accident should come to
disturb it. Twice a day the surgeon visited the wounded man, and without
destroying Helen's hopes he persisted in withholding any assurance of
complete safety. Karl saw her hope; but he remarked, too, the reserve
with which the surgeon received all her joyful schemes for the future.
He, also, was making schemes, but of a sadder kind.
"Helen," said he, "I know all you have done for me. Benedict has told me
of your tears, your despair, your weariness. I love you with so selfish
a love, Helen, that I wish, before I die--"
And as Helen made a movement, he added:
"If I die, I wish first to call you my wife, so that in case there
exists--as they tell us, and as our own pride leads us to believe--a
world beyond this, I may find my wife there as here. Promise me, then,
my sweet nurse, that if any one of those accidents that trouble the
doctor's mind should occur, promise me that you will instantly send for
a priest, and with your hand in mine say: 'Give us your blessing,
father, Karl von Freyberg is my husband.' And I swear to you, Helen,
that my death will be as easy and calm then as it would be full of
despair if I could not say: 'Farewell, my beloved wife.'"
Helen listened with that smile of hope upon her lips with which she made
answer to all Karl's words, whether sad or happy. From time to time,
when she saw her patient becoming excited, she would sign to him to be
still, and taking down from her bookshelves Uhland, or Goethe, or
Schiller, would read aloud to him, and almost always Karl would close
his eyes and presently fall asleep to the sound of her melodious, liquid
voice. His need of sleep, after so great a loss of blood, was enormous;
and then, as though she could see the sleep-bringing shadows thickening
over his brain, she would let her voice grow dim, little by little, and
with her eyes half upon the sick man and half upon her page would cease
to speak at the very moment when he began to sleep.
At night she allowed Benedict to take her place by Karl for two or three
hours, because Karl entreated it, but she did not go out of the room. A
curtain was drawn across the recess in which her bed--now brought into
the middle of the room for the patient, previously stood, and behind the
curtain she slept on a couch, slept so lightly that at the least
movement in the room, or the first word uttered, the curtain would be
lifted and her voice would ask anxiously:
"What is it?"
Helen was a sister of those delightful creations that are to be found on
every page of Germany's popular poetry. We attribute great merit to
those poetic dreamers who perceive Loreleis in the mist of the Rhine and
Mignons in the foliage of thickets, and do not remind ourselves that
there is, after all, no such great merit in finding these charming
images, because they are not the visions of genius, but actual copies,
whose originals the misty nature of England and of Germany sets before
them as models weeping or smiling, but always poetical. Observe, too,
that on the shores of the Rhine, the Main, or the Danube, it is not
necessary to seek these types--rare, if not unknown among ourselves--in
the ranks of the aristocracy, but they may be seen at the citizen's
window or the peasant's doorway, where Schüler found his Louisa, and
Goethe his Margaret. Thus Helen accomplished deeds that seem to us the
height of devotion with the most entire simplicity, and never knew that
her loving toil deserved a glance of approval from man, or even from
On the nights when Helen sat up, Benedict rested in Frederic's room,
throwing himself fully dressed upon the bed, so as to be ready at the
first call to run to Helen's assistance or to go for the surgeon. We
have already said that a carriage ready harnessed was always at the
door, and, oddly enough, the further recovery progressed, the more the
doctor insisted that this precaution should not be neglected.
July 30th had been reached, when, after having watched by Karl during a
part of the night, Benedict had yielded his post to Helen, had returned
to Frederic's room and flung himself upon the bed, when, all at once he
thought he heard himself loudly called. Almost at the same moment his
door opened, and Helen, pale, dishevelled, and covered with blood,
appeared in the doorway making inarticulate sounds that seemed to stand
Benedict guessed what had happened. The doctor, less reserved towards
him than towards the young girl, had told him what possibilities he
feared, and evidently one of these possibilities had come to pass.
He rushed to Karl's room; the ligature of the artery had burst and blood
was flowing in waves and in jets. Karl had fainted.
Benedict did not lose an instant; twisting his handkerchief into a rope
he tied it round Karl's upper arm, broke the bar of a chair with a kick,
slipped the bar into the knot of the handkerchief, and turning the stick
upon its axis, made what is known in medical language as a _tourniquet_.
The blood stopped instantly.
Helen flung herself distractedly upon the bed, she seemed to have gone
mad. She did not hear Benedict calling to her: "The doctor! the doctor!"
With his free hand--the other was pressing upon Karl's arm--Benedict
pulled the bell so violently that Hans, guessing something unusual to be
the matter, arrived quite scared.
"Take the carriage and fetch the doctor," cried Benedict. Hans
understood everything, for in one glance he had seen all. He flung
himself downstairs and into the carriage, calling out in his turn: "To
As it was scarcely six o'clock in the morning, the doctor was at home,
and within ten minutes walked into the room.
Seeing the blood streaming over the floor, Helen, half fainting, and,
above all, Benedict compressing the wounded man's arm, he understood
what had happened, the rather that he had dreaded this.
"Ah, I foresaw this!" he exclaimed, "a secondary hæmorrhage, the artery
has given way."
At his voice Helen sprang up and flung her arms about him.
"He will not die! he will not die!" she cried, "you will not let him
die, will you?"
The doctor disengaged himself from her grasp, and approached the bed.
Karl had not lost nearly so much blood as last time, but to judge from
the pool that was spreading across the room he must have lost over
twenty-eight ounces, which in his present state of weakness was
However, the doctor did not lose courage; the arm was still bare; he
made a fresh incision and sought with his forceps for the artery, which,
fortunately, having been compressed by Benedict, had moved only a few
centimetres. In a second the artery was tied, but the wounded man was
completely unconscious. Helen, who had watched the first operation with
anxiety, followed this one with terror. She had then seen Karl lying
mute, motionless, and cold, with the appearance of death, but she had
not seem him pass, as he had just done, from life to death. His lips
were white, his eyes closed, his cheeks waxen; clearly Karl had gone
nearer to the grave than even on the former occasion. Helen wrung her
"Oh, his wish! his wish!" she cried, "he will not have the joy of seeing
it fulfilled. Sir," she said to the doctor, "will he not reopen his
eyes? Will he not speak again before he dies? I do not ask for his
life--only a miracle could grant that. But, make him open his eyes,
doctor. Doctor! make him speak to me! Let a priest join our hands! Let
us be united in this world, so that we may not be separated in the
The doctor, despite his usual calm, could not remain cold in the
presence of such sorrow; though he had done all that was in the power of
his art and felt that he could do no more, he tried to reassure Helen
with those commonplaces that physicians keep in reserve for the last
But Benedict, going up to him, and taking him by the hand, said:
"Doctor, you hear what she asks; she does not ask for her lover's life,
she asks for a few moments' revival, long enough for the priest to utter
a few words and place a ring upon her finger."
"Yes, yes!" cried Helen, "only that! Senseless that I was not to have
yielded when he asked and sent at once for the priest. Let him open his
eyes, let him say 'Yes,' so that his wish may be accomplished and I may
keep my promise to him."
"Doctor," said Benedict, pressing the hand which he had retained in his,
"how, if we asked from science the miracle that Heaven seems to deny?
How if we were to try transfusion of blood?"
"What is that?" asked Helen.
The doctor considered for a second and looked at the patient: then he
"There is no hope; we risk nothing."
"I asked you," said Helen, "what is transfusion of blood?"
"It consists," replied the doctor, "in passing into the exhausted veins
of a sick man enough warm, living blood to give him back, if only for a
moment, life, speech, and consciousness. I have never performed the
operation, but have seen it once or twice in hospitals."
"So have I," said Benedict, "I have always been interested in strange
things, so I attended Majendie's lectures, and I have always seen the
experiment succeed when the blood infused belonged to an animal of the
"Well," said the doctor, "I will go and try to find a man willing to
sell us some twenty or thirty ounces of his blood."
"Doctor," said Benedict, throwing off his coat, "I do not sell my blood
to my friends, but I give it. Your man is here."
At these words Helen uttered a cry, flung herself violently between
Benedict and the doctor, and proudly holding out her bare arm to the
surgeon, said to Benedict:
"You have done enough for him already. If human blood is to pass from
another into the veins of my beloved Karl it shall be mine; it is my
Benedict fell on his knees before her and kissed the hem of her skirt.
The less impressionable doctor merely said:
"Very well! We will try. Give the patient a spoonful of some cordial. I
will go home and get the instruments."
THE MARRIAGE _IN EXTREMIS_
The doctor rushed from the room as rapidly as his professional dignity
During his absence Helen slipped a spoonful of a cordial between Karl's
lips while Benedict rang the bell. Hans appeared.
"Go and fetch a priest," said Helen.
"Is it for extreme unction?" Hans ventured to ask.
"For a marriage," answered Helen.
Five minutes later the doctor returned with his apparatus, and asked
Benedict to ring for a servant.
A maid came.
"Some warm water in a deep vessel," said the doctor, "and a thermometer
if there is one in the house."
She came back with the required articles.
The doctor took a bandage from his pocket and rolled it round the
wounded man's left arm, the right arm being injured. After a few moments
the vein swelled, proving thereby that the blood was not all exhausted,
and that circulation still continued, although feebly. The doctor then
turned to Helen.
"Are you ready?" he enquired.
"Yes," said Helen, "but make haste. Oh, God, if he should die!"
The doctor compressed her arm with a bandage, placed the apparatus upon
the bed so as to bring it close to the patient, and put it into water
heated to 35 degrees centigrade, so that the blood should not have time
to cool in passing from one arm to the other. He placed one end of the
syringe against Karl's arm and almost simultaneously pricked Helen's so
that her blood spurted into the vessel. When he judged that there were
some 120 to 130 grammes he signed to Benedict to staunch Helen's
bleeding with his thumb, and making a longitudinal cut in the vein of
Karl's arm he slipped in the point of the syringe, taking great care
that no air-bubble should get in with the blood. While the operation,
which lasted about ten minutes, was going on, a slight sound was heard
at the door. It was the priest coming in, accompanied by Emma, Madame
von Beling, and all the servants. Helen turned, saw them at the door,
and signed to them to come in. At the same moment Benedict pressed her
arm; Karl had just quivered, a sort of shudder ran through his whole
"Ah!" sighed Helen, folding her hands, "thank God! It is my blood
reaching his heart!"
Benedict had ready a piece of court-plaster, which he pressed upon the
open vein and held it closed.
The priest approached; he was a Roman Catholic who had been Helen's
director from her childhood up.
"You sent for me, my child?" he asked.
"Yes," answered Helen; "I desire, if my grandmother and elder sister
will allow, to marry this gentleman, who, with God's help, will soon
open his eyes and recover his senses. Only, there is no time to lose,
for the swoon may return."
And, as though Karl had but awaited this moment to revive, he opened his
eyes, looked tenderly at Helen and said, in a weak, but intelligible
"In the depth of my swoon, I heard everything; you are an angel, Helen,
and I join with you in asking permission of your mother and sister that
I may leave you my name."
Benedict and the doctor looked at each other amazed at the
over-excitement which for the moment restored sight to the dying man's
eyes and speech to his lips. The priest drew near to him.
"Louis Karl von Freyberg, do you declare, acknowledge, and swear, before
God and in the face of the holy Church, that you now take as your wife
and lawful spouse, Helen de Chandroz, here present?"
"You promise and vow to be true to her in all things as a faithful
husband should to his wife according to the commandments of God?"
Karl smiled sadly at this admonition of the Church; meant for people who
expect to live long and to have time for breaking their solemn vow.
"Yes," said he, "and in witness of it, here is my mother's wedding-ring,
which, sacred already, will become the more sacred by passing through
"And you, Helen de Chandroz, do you consent, acknowledge, and swear,
before God and the holy Church, that you take for your husband and
lawful spouse, Louis Karl von Freyberg, here present?"
"Oh, yes, yes, father," exclaimed the girl.
In place of Karl, who was too weak to speak, the priest added:
"Take this token of the marriage vows exchanged between you."
As he spoke he placed upon Helen's finger the ring given him by Karl.
"I give you this ring as a sign of the marriage that you have
The priest made the sign of the cross upon the bride's hand, saying in a
"In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. Amen!"
Stretching out his right hand towards the pair, he added, aloud:
"May the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob join you together and
bestow His blessing upon you. I unite you in the name of the Father, the
Son, and the Holy Ghost. Amen!"
"Father," said Karl to the priest, "if you will now add to the prayers
that you have just uttered for the husband the absolution for the dying,
I shall have nothing more to ask of you."
The priest, raising his hand, pronounced the consecrated words, as if
Karl's soul had delayed until this solemn moment to depart from the
body. Helen, who had raised him in her arms, felt herself drawn to him
by an irresistible power. Her lips clung to those of her lover, and
between them escaped the words:
"Farewell, my darling wife; your blood is my blood. Farewell."
His body fell back upon the pillow. Karl had breathed his last breath
upon Helen's mouth. One sob only was heard from the poor girl, and the
complete prostration with which she fell back upon his body showed
everybody that he was dead. The spectators rose from their knees. Emma
threw herself into Helen's arms, exclaiming:
"Now we are doubly sisters, by birth and by affliction." Then, feeling
that this sorrow required solitude, one after another slipped away,
slowly, gently, and on tiptoe, leaving Helen alone with her husband's
At the end of a couple of hours, Benedict, growing uneasy, ventured to
go to her and knocked slowly at the door, saying.
"It is I, sister."
Helen, who had locked herself in, came to open the door. With amazement
he beheld her dressed completely in bridal attire. She had put on a
wreath of white roses, diamond earrings hung from her ears, and the
costliest of necklaces surrounded her neck. Her fingers were loaded with
valuable rings. Her arm from which the blood had been drawn to perform
the miracle of resurrection was covered with bracelets. A magnificent
lace shawl was thrown over her shoulders and covered a satin gown
fastened with knots of pearls.
"You see, my friend," she said to Benedict, "that I have tried to fulfil
his wishes completely. I am dressed not as his betrothed but as his
Benedict looked at her sadly--the rather that she did not weep--on the
contrary, she smiled. It seemed as though she had given all her tears to
the living Karl and had none left for the dead. Benedict saw with
profound surprise that she went to and fro in the room, busied with a
number of little matters relating to Karl's burial and every moment
showed him some fresh article.
"Look!" she would say, "he liked this; he noticed that; we will put it
beside him in his coffin. By the way," she added suddenly, "I was just
forgetting my hair which he liked so much."
She unfastened her wreath, took hold of her hair, which hung below her
knees, cut it off, and made a plait which she knotted round Karl's bare
Evening came. She talked at length with Benedict of the hour at which
the funeral should take place on the morrow. As it was now but six in
the evening, she begged him to see to all the details that would be so
painful to the family, and indeed, almost as painful to him who had
loved Frederic and Karl like two brothers. He was to order a wide oak
"Why a wide one?" Benedict asked.
Helen only answered:
"Do as I ask you, dear friend, and blessings will be upon you."
She gave orders herself for the body of her husband to be placed in its
shroud at six the next morning.
Benedict obeyed her in everything. He spent his whole evening over these
funeral preparations and did not return to the house until eleven
o'clock. He found Helen's room transformed, a double row of candles
burning around the bed. Helen was sitting on the bed and looking at
Even as she no longer wept she now no longer prayed. What had she left
to ask of Heaven now that Karl was dead? Towards midnight her mother and
sister, who had been praying, and who understood her calmness no more
than Benedict did, went to their own rooms. Helen embraced them sadly
but without tears and asked that the little child might be brought, so
that she might kiss him too. She held him some time in her arms and then
gave him back to his mother. When she was left alone with Benedict she
said to him:
"Pray take some hours' rest, either here or at home; do not be uneasy
about me. I will be down, dressed, and sleep beside him."
"Sleep!" said Benedict, more and more amazed.
"Yes," said Helen simply, "I feel tired. While he was alive, I could not
sleep. Now--" She did not finish the sentence.
"When shall I come back?" asked Benedict.
"When you please," said Helen. "Let it be about eight in the morning."
Then, looking through the open casement towards the sky, she said:
"I think there will be a storm to-night."
Benedict pressed her hand and was going, but she called him back.
"Excuse me, dear friend," said she, "have you been told that they are
coming at six in the morning to wrap him in his shroud?"
"Yes," said Benedict, his voice choked with tears.
Helen guessed at his feelings.
"You do not mean to kiss me then, my friend?" she observed.
Benedict pressed her to his heart and broke into sobs.
"How weak you are!" said she. "Look how calm _he_ is; so calm that one
would think he was happy." And as Benedict was about to answer, she
added: "Go, go; to-morrow at eight."
* * * * *
As Helen had foretold, the night was stormy; with morning a terrible
tempest broke out; rain fell in torrents, accompanied by such flashes of
lightning as are only seen in storms that announce or cause great
At six o'clock the women who were to perform the last offices for Karl
arrived. Helen had looked out the finest sheets she could find, and had
spent a part of the night in embroidering them with Karl's monogram and
her own. Then, when her pious task was completed she did as she had
said, lay down beside Karl on his bed and encircled by the double row of
lighted candles, slept with as sound a sleep as though she were already
in her grave. The two women, knocking at the door, awoke her. Seeing
them come in, the material aspect of death was forcibly presented to
her, and she could not abstain from shedding tears. Stolid as these
poor creatures who live by the services that they render to the dead
generally are, when they saw the young girl so beautiful, so adorned, so
pale, they could not help feeling an emotion unknown to them until then.
They trembled as they took the sheets from Helen's hands and asked her
to withdraw while they fulfilled their funeral office.
Helen uncovered Karl's face, over which the two Ministers of Fate had
already thrown the shroud, kissed his lips, murmured into his ear some
words that the women did not hear, then, addressing one of them, said:
"I am going to pray for my husband in the Church of Notre Dame de la
Croix. If between now and eight o'clock a young man named Benedict comes
here, please give him this note."
She drew from her bosom a paper already folded, sealed, and addressed to
Benedict, and went away. The storm was roaring in all its violence. At
the door she found Lenhart's carriage and Lenhart himself. He was
astonished to see her coming out so early, dressed in so elegant a
costume; but when she had directed him to the church of Notre Dame de la
Croix, to which he had driven her two or three times before, he
understood that she was going to pray at her usual shrine.
Helen entered the church. The day was so dark that it would have been
impossible to find one's way if the flashes of lightning had not shot
their snakes of fire through the coloured panes.
Helen went straight to her accustomed chapel. The statue of the Virgin
stood in its place, silent, smiling, decked with gold lace and jewels,
and crowned with diamonds. At her feet Helen recognized the wreath of
white roses that she had hung there on the day when she had come with
Karl and sworn to him to love him always and to die with him. The day
to keep her vow had come, and she was here to tell the Virgin of her
readiness to keep her promise, as though that promise were not an
impiety. Then, as if that were all that she had to do, she made a short
prayer, kissed the Holy Mother's feet, and went out again to the porch
of the church.
The weather had cleared a little. For the moment rain had ceased to
fall, and a gleam of blue shone between two clouds. The air was full of
electricity. The thunder was roaring in noisy outbursts and the flashes
threw their blue light almost uninterruptedly upon the pavement and the
houses. Helen left the church. Lenhart hurried forward with his carriage
for her to get in.
"I feel stifled," said she, "let me walk a little."
"I will follow you, madam," said Lenhart.
"As you please," she answered.
Eight o'clock was chiming from the cathedral.
* * * * *
At the same hour Benedict was just entering Helen's room where Karl lay
in his shroud. The two women, who had been entrusted with that pious
duty, were praying by the bed, but Helen was absent. Benedict began by
looking in every direction, expecting to see her praying in some corner,
but not perceiving her in any, he enquired where she could be.
One of the women replied:
"She went out an hour ago, saying that she would go to the Church of
Notre Dame de la Croix."
"How was she dressed?" asked Benedict. "And," he added, with an uneasy
presentiment, "did she not say anything or leave any message for me?"
"Are you the gentleman called M. Benedict?" returned the woman who had
answered his previous questions.
"Yes," said he.
"Then here is a letter for you."
She handed him the note that Helen had left. He opened it hastily. It
contained only these few lines:
"MY BELOVED BROTHER,
"I promised Karl, before Notre Dame de la Croix, not to outlive
him; Karl is dead, and I am about to die.
"If my body is recovered, see, my dear Benedict, that it is placed
in my husband's coffin; this was the reason why I asked you to have
it made wide. I hope that God will permit me to sleep in it by
Karl's side throughout eternity.
"I bequeath a thousand florins to the person who finds my body, if
it should be some boatman or fisherman, or poor man with a family.
If it should be some person who cannot or will not accept the
money, I leave him my last blessing.
"The morrow of Karl's death is the day of mine.
"My farewells to all who love me."
Benedict was finishing the reading of this letter when Lenhart appeared
in the doorway, pale and dripping with water, and calling out:
"Oh, how shall I tell you, M. Benedict! Madame Helen has just thrown
herself into the river. Come, come at once!"
Benedict looked round, seized a handkerchief that was lying on the bier,
still perfumed and damp with the poor girl's tears, and rushed from the
room. The carriage was at the door; he sprang into it.
"To your house," he called sharply to Lenhart. The latter, accustomed to
obey Benedict without asking why, put his horses to the gallop;
moreover, his house was on the way to the river. The house being
reached, he leaped from the carriage, took the staircase in three
strides, and opening the door, called:
The dog rushed out after his master and was in the carriage as soon as
"To the river!" cried Benedict.
Lenhart began to understand; he whipped up his horses and they galloped
on as quickly as before. As they drove, Benedict divested himself of his
coat, waistcoat, and shirt, retaining only his trousers. When they
arrived at the river bank, he saw some sailors with boathooks who were
raking the water for Helen's body.
"Did you see her throw herself into the water?" he enquired of Lenhart.
"Yes, your honour," he answered.
"Where was it?"
Lenhart showed him the spot.
"Twenty florins for a boat!" shouted Benedict.
A boatman brought one. Benedict, followed by Frisk, sprang into it.
Then, having steered it into the line along which Helen's body had
disappeared, he followed the current, holding Frisk by the collar, and
making him smell the handkerchief that he had taken up from Karl's bed.
They came to a place in the river where the dog gave a melancholy howl.
Benedict let him loose, he sprang out and disappeared at once. An
instant later he came to the surface and swam about above the same place
"Yes," said Benedict, "yes, she is there."
Then he, in his turn, dived, and soon reappeared bearing Helen's body on
As Helen had wished, her body was, by Benedict's care, laid in the same
coffin as Karl's. Her bridal garments were allowed to dry upon her and
she had no other shroud.
"WAIT AND SEE"
When Karl and Helen had been laid in their place of eternal rest,
Benedict considered that the time had now arrived when, having no more
services to perform for the family to which he had devoted himself, he
might remind Sturm that he was Frederic von Bülow's executor.
Always obedient to convention he dressed himself with the greatest care,
hung the Cross of the Legion of Honour and the Guelphic Order to his
buttonhole by a line gold chain and sent in his name to General Sturm.
The general was in his study. He ordered Benedict to be shown in at
once, and as he entered rose from his seat, showed him a chair, and sat
down again. Benedict indicated that he preferred to stand.
"Sir," said he, "the succession of misfortunes which has befallen the
Chandroz family leaves me free, earlier than I expected, to come and
remind you that Frederic, when he was dying, bequeathed to me a sacred
duty--that of vengeance."
The general bowed and Benedict returned his bow.
"Nothing now keeps me in Frankfort but my wish to fulfil my friend's
last injunction. You know what that injunction was, for I have told you;
from this moment I shall have the honour of holding myself at your
"That is to say, sir," said General Sturm, striking his fist upon the
writing-table before him, "that you come here to challenge me?"
"Yes, sir," answered Benedict. "A dying man's wishes are sacred, and
Frederic von Bülow's wish was that one of us--either you or I--should
disappear from this world. I deliver it to you the more readily because
I know you, sir, to be brave, skilful in all bodily exercises, and a
first-rate swordsman and shot. I am not an officer in the Prussian army;
you are in no sense my chief. I am a Frenchman, you are a Prussian; we
have Jena behind us and you have Leipzig; we are therefore enemies. All
this makes me hope that you will place no difficulty in my way, and will
consent to send me two seconds to-morrow, who will find mine at my house
between seven and eight in the morning, and will do me the pleasure of
announcing to them the hour, place, and weapons that you have chosen.
Everything will be acceptable to me; make what conditions you like in
the best way you can. I hope that you are satisfied."
General Sturm had shown frequent signs of impatience during Benedict's
speech; but had controlled himself like a well-bred man.
"Sir," said he, "I promise you that you shall hear from me by the hour
you name, and perhaps earlier."
This was all that Benedict wanted. He bowed and withdrew, delighted that
everything had passed off so properly. He was already at the door when
he remembered that he had omitted to give the general his new address,
at Lenhart's. He went to a table and wrote the street and number below
his name on his card.
"Excuse me," said he, "I must not fail to let your Excellency know where
I am to be found."
"Are you not my neighbour?" asked the general.
"No," said Benedict. "I have left this house since the day before
On the same evening, since he expected to leave Frankfort immediately
after next day's duel--unless, indeed, some wound should detain
him--Benedict left cards of farewell at all the houses where he had
visited, withdrew his money from the bank, and, his banker having
detained him, remained at his house until eleven o'clock, and then took
leave to return to Lenhart's. But, as he was crossing the corner of the
Ross Market an officer accosted him and, saying that he had a
communication to make on behalf of the officer in command of the town,
begged Benedict to accompany him. The latter made no difficulty about
entering the market place where military were quartered, and there, at a
sign from the officer, soldiers surrounded him.
"Sir," said the officer, "will you kindly read this paper, which
Benedict took the paper and read it:
"By order of the colonel in command of the town and as a measure of
public safety, M. Benedict Turpin is instructed to leave Frankfort
instantly upon receipt of the present order. Should he refuse to
obey willingly, force is to be employed. Six privates and an
officer will accompany him to the station, enter the same carriage
in the Cologne train and only leave him at the frontier of the
"This order to be carried out before midnight.
Benedict looked round; he had no possible means of resistance.
"Sir," said he, "if I had any way of escaping from the order that I have
just read, I declare to you that I would do anything in the world to get
out of your hands. The great man who is your minister, and whom I
admire although I do not like him, has said 'Might is right.' I am ready
to yield to force. But I should be greatly obliged if one of you would
go to 17, Beckenheim Street, to a man who lets out carriages, named
Lenhart, and kindly ask him to bring me my dog, of which I am very fond.
I will take occasion to give him some orders in your presence that are
of no particular consequence, but rather important to a man who has been
living in a town for three months and is leaving when he had no
expectation of doing so."
The officer ordered a soldier to fulfil Benedict's wish.
"Sir," said he, "I know that you were intimate with a man to whom we
were all attached, Herr Frederic von Bülow; although I have not the
honour of your personal acquaintance, I should be sorry that you should
carry away a bad impression of me. I was ordered to arrest you in the
manner that I have done. I hope you will pardon an action entirely
outside my own wishes, and which I have tried to perform with as much
courtesy as possible."
Benedict held out his hand.
"I have been a soldier, sir; and therefore I am obliged to you for an
explanation that you might easily have refrained from making."
A minute or so later Lenhart arrived with Frisk.
"My dear Lenhart," said Benedict, "I am leaving Frankfort unexpectedly;
be so kind as to collect any things belonging to me that you may have
and send them to me, in two or three days, unless you prefer to bring
them yourself to Paris, which you do not know and where I would try to
make you spend a pleasant fortnight. I do not offer any terms; you know
that you may safely leave such matters in my hands."
"Oh, I will go, sir, I will go," said. Lenhart. "You may be sure of
"And now," said Benedict, "I think it must be time for the train; no
doubt you have a carriage waiting; let us go if you have nothing more to
wait for, and if you have not a travelling companion to give me."
The soldiers lined up and Benedict passed between them to the carriage
that was waiting. Frisk, always delighted to go from one place to
another, leapt in first, as if to invite his master to follow. Benedict
stepped in, the officer followed him; four privates followed the
officer, a fifth seated himself beside the driver, a sixth jumped up
behind, and the conveyance set out for the station.
The engine was just ready to start as the prisoner arrived; he had not
even the trouble of waiting a few minutes. At the carriage door Frisk
was, as usual, the first to jump in, and although it is not customary,
especially in Prussia, for dogs to travel first-class, Benedict obtained
for him the favour of remaining with them. Next morning they were at
"Sir," said Benedict to the officer, "I am accustomed, every time that I
pass through this town, to provide myself with Farina's eau-de-Cologne
for my dressing-table. If you are not pressed for time I would propose
two things to you: in the first place my word of honour to play fair and
not give you the slip before reaching the frontier; in the second place,
a good breakfast for these gentlemen and you, all breakfasting together
at the same table without any distinction of rank, like brothers. Then
we will take the midday train, unless you prefer to trust my word that I
will go straight to Paris."
The officer smiled.
"Sir," said he, "we will do what you please. I should like you to carry
away the impression that we are only uncivil and tormentors when we are
ordered to be. You want to stay; then let us stay! You offer me your
word; I accept it. You wish to have us all breakfast with you; although
it does not conform either to Prussian habits or Prussian discipline, I
accept. The only precaution we will take--and that rather to do you
honour than because we doubt your word--will be to see you off at the
station. Where do you wish us to meet you again?"
"At the Rhine Hotel, if you please, gentlemen, in an hour's time."
"I need not say," added the officer, speaking in French that the
soldiers should not understand him, "that after the way I have behaved
to you I ought to be cashiered."
Benedict bowed with an air that seemed to say "You need be under no
Benedict went away to the cathedral square, where Jean Marie Parina's
shop is situated, and the officer took off his men in another direction.
Benedict supplied himself with eau-de-Cologne, which he could the more
easily do because, having no other luggage, he could carry his purchase
with him, and then proceeded to the Rhine Hotel, where he was accustomed
to stay. He ordered the best breakfast that the proprietor could promise
him, and awaited his guests, who appeared at the agreed time.
The breakfast was a thoroughly cheerful one; the prosperity of France
and the prosperity of Prussia were toasted, the Prussians courteously
setting the example; and after breakfast Benedict was escorted to the
station, and, by military order, had a carriage to himself, instead of
sharing one with six private soldiers and an officer.
At the moment of the train's starting the officer put into Benedict's
hand a letter, which the traveller opened as soon as the train had
passed out of the station. He gave a glance at the signature. It came,
as he expected, from General Sturm and contained these words:
"MY DEAR SIR,
"You will understand that it does not become a superior officer to
set a bad example by accepting a challenge of which the object is
to avenge an officer who was punished for disobedience to his
chief. If I were to fight you for a reason so contrary to all
military discipline I should be setting a fatal example to the
army. I refuse, therefore, for the present, to meet you, and in
order to avoid a scandal, I employ one of the most courteous
measures at my disposal. You, yourself, were so good as to
acknowledge that I had a reputation for courage, and you added that
you knew me to be a first-rate shot and swordsman. You cannot,
therefore, attribute my refusal to any fear of facing you. A
proverb, common to all countries, says: 'Mountains do not meet, but
men do.' If we meet anywhere else than in Prussia, and if you are
still desirous of killing me, we will see about settling this
little matter; but I warn you that the result is by no means a
foregone conclusion, and that you will have more trouble than you
expect in keeping your promise to your friend Frederic."
Benedict refolded the letter with the utmost care, placed it in his
pocket-book and slipped his pocket-book into his pocket, arranged
himself as comfortably as he could in a corner, and closing his eyes for
sleep, murmured: "Well, well, we will wait and see!"
The presence of the Prussians in Frankfort and the terror that they
caused there did not end with the events which have just been related,
and to which the present narrative ought to confine itself. A few lines
only must be added that our work may close as it opened, by a page of
Towards the end of September 1866 it was announced that the city of
Frankfort, losing its nationality, its title of a free town, its
privilege of having the Diet held there, and finally its rights as a
member of the Confederation, was to be united on October 8th to the
kingdom of Prussia.
The morrow was gloomy and rainy; no house had hung out the
black-and-white flag; no citizen, sad or cheerful, was in the streets,
every window was shuttered, every door closed. It seemed a city of the
dead. The flag flew only over the barracks, the Exchange, and the post
But in the Roemer Square there was an assemblage of some three or four
hundred men, all belonging to the suburb of Sachsenhausen. It was a
curious thing that each of these men had a dog of some description with
him: a bulldog, mastiff, spaniel, hound, griffon, greyhound, or poodle.
Amidst these bipeds and quadrupeds, Lenhart went up and down relating
what fine things he had seen in Paris, and holding everybody's
attention. He it was who had devised this meeting of his fellow
inhabitants of Sachsenhausen, and who, by whispered instructions, had
invited them to bring their dogs. Men and dogs alike gazed towards the
window from which the proclamation was to be made. They had been waiting
there since nine in the morning.
At eleven the members of the Senate, the Christian and Jewish clergy,
the professors, the chief officials, and Major-General Boyer, with the
officers of the garrison, were gathered together in the Hall of the
Emperors in the Roemer, to witness the taking possession of the formerly
free town of Frankfort by His Gracious Majesty, the King of Prussia.
The civil governor, Baron Patow, and the civil Commissioner, Herr von
Madaï, came from the Senate Hall (once the hall in which the Emperors of
Germany were elected) into the great hall. After some little preamble on
Baron Patow's part he read to the persons present the patent by which
the former free town of Frankfort was taken into possession, and then
the royal proclamation which announced that the town had been added to
the Prussian dominions.
The same documents were now to be read to the people of Frankfort. The
window was opened to an accompaniment of joyful murmurs and mocking
acclamation from the men of Sachsenhausen and the yawns of their dogs.
The square was occupied, we forgot to mention, not only by the men from
Sachsenhausen but by a company of the 34th regiment of the line and its
Herr von Madaï read aloud the following proclamation:
"The very high and very powerful proclamation of His Majesty the King
of Prussia to the inhabitants of the former free town of Frankfort."
Either because the voice of Herr von Madaï was particularly disagreeable
to his hearers or because the words "former free town of Frankfort"
aroused their sensibility, several dogs howled dismally. Herr von Madaï
paused until silence was restored, and continued, still in the king's
"By the patent that I cause to be published to-day I unite you,
inhabitants of the city of Frankfort-on-the-Main and its suburbs, to my
subjects, your German neighbours and brothers."
Five or six howls protested against this union. Herr von Madaï seemed to
give no heed to them and proceeded.
"By the decision of the war and the reorganization of our common German
Fatherland, you are deprived of the independence which you have hitherto
enjoyed, and now enter the union of a great country, whose population is
sympathetic to you by language, customs, and identity of interests."
This news did not appear agreeable to the prejudices of some hearers;
there were complaints, growls, and a certain number of lamentations.
Herr von Madaï seemed to understand these sad protestations.
"If," said he, "it is not without pain that you resign former
connections that were dear to you, I respect such feelings and esteem
them as a guarantee that you and your children will be faithfully
attached to me and my house."
An enormous bulldog replied by a single bark, which appeared, however,
to speak the opinion of the two or three hundred companions around him.
The interruption did not disturb Herr von Madaï, and he went on:
"You will recognize the force of accomplished facts; if the fruits of an
obstinate war and of bloody victories are not to be lost to Germany, the
duty of self-preservation and care for national interests imperatively
demand that the town of Frankfort shall be joined to Prussia, solidly
and for ever."
At this moment a dog broke its chain and despite shouts of "Arrest the
rebel! Arrest the rebel!" and the pursuit of some five or six
Sachsenhausen urchins, disappeared into the Jewry.
"And, as my father of blessed memory declared," resumed Herr von Madaï,
"it is solely for the profit of Germany that Prussia has enlarged its
boundaries. I offer this for your serious reflection, and I confide in
your upright German good sense to swear allegiance to me with the same
sincerity as my own people. May God grant it!"
"Given at my castle of Babelsberg, October 3rd, 1866."
And raising his voice, Herr von Madaï added, by way of peroration:
"Hurrah for King William! Hurrah for the King of Prussia!"
At the same instant the black-and-white flag was hoisted on the topmost
gable of the Roemer. No shout replied to Herr von Madaï's, only the
voice of Lenhart was heard like that of a drill sergeant:
"And now, my little doggies, as you have the honour to be Prussian dogs,
shout 'Hurrah for the King of Prussia!'"
Then every man pressed his toe upon the tail, the ear, or the paw of his
dog, and there arose such frightful uproar, including the deepest and
the shrillest notes, as could only be covered by the band of the 34th
Prussian Regiment playing "_Heil dir im Siegeskranze_," which means
"Hail to thee in the crown of victory."
Thus was the former free town of Frankfort united to the kingdom of
Prussia. But many people say that it is not stitched, but only tacked
On June 5th, in the year 1867, a young man of some twenty-five to
twenty-seven years of age, elegantly dressed, and wearing at his
buttonhole a ribbon half red and half blue-and-white, had just finished
his cup of chocolate at the Café Prévôt, which was at the corner of the
Boulevard and the Rue Poissonière. He asked for the "Étandard"
He had to repeat the name twice to the waiter, who, not having the paper
on the premises, went out to the Boulevard for a copy and brought it to
his customer. The latter cast his eyes rapidly over it, looking
evidently for some article that he knew to be there. His glance settled
at last upon the following lines:
"To-day, Wednesday, June 6th, the King of Prussia will enter Paris.
We give a complete list of the persons who will accompany His
"M. de Bismarck.
"General de Moltke.
"Count Puckler, Lord Marshal.
"General de Treskow.
"Count de Goltz, Brigadier-General.
"Count Lehendorff, Aide-de-Camp to the king.
"General Achilles Sturm--"
Doubtless the young man had seen all that he wanted to see, for he
carried no further his investigations into the persons accompanying His
But he tried, to discover at what hour King William was to arrive, and
found that he was expected at a quarter-past four at the Gare du Nord.
He immediately took a carriage and placed himself upon the road which
the king would have to follow in going to the Tuileries.
The king and his escort were some minutes behind their time. Our young
man was waiting at the corner of the Boulevard de Magenta; he placed
himself at the end of the procession, and accompanied it to the
Tuileries, keeping his eyes particularly, as he did so, upon the
carriage which contained General von Treskow, Count von Goltz, and
General Achilles Sturm. That carriage entered the courtyard of the
palace with the King of Prussia's, but came out again, almost
immediately, with the three generals who occupied it, in order to go to
the Hôtel du Louvre.
There the three generals alighted; they were clearly intending to lodge
in the neighbourhood of the Tuileries where their sovereign was staying.
Our young man, who also had alighted, saw a waiter lead them to their
several rooms. He waited a moment, but none of them came out again. He
got into his carriage again and disappeared round the corner of the Rue
des Pyramides. He knew all that he wanted to know.
Next morning, about eleven o'clock, the same young man was walking in
front of the café belonging to the hotel, and smoking a cigarette. At
the end of ten minutes his expectation was satisfied. General Sturm came
from the Hôtel du Louvre into the restaurant, sat down at one of the
marble tables arranged just inside the windows and asked for a cup of
coffee and a glass of brandy. This was just opposite the Zouave
Benedict entered the barracks and came out a minute later, with two
officers. He led them in front of the window and showed them General
"Gentlemen," said he, "that is a Prussian general with whom I have so
serious a quarrel that one of us must be left upon the field. I have
applied to you to do me the favour of acting as my seconds, because you
are officers, because you do not know me, and do not know my adversary,
and consequently, will not have any of those little delicate
considerations for us that fashionable people have towards those for
whom they act as seconds. We will go in and sit down at the same table
with him. I will reproach him with what I have to reproach him with, and
you will see whether the matter is serious enough for a duel to the
death. If you judge it to be so, you will do me the honour of being my
seconds. I am a soldier like yourselves; I went through the Chinese war
with the rank of lieutenant, I fought at the battle of Langensalza as
orderly to Prince Ernest of Hanover, and, finally, I fired one of the
last shots at the battle of Aschaffenburg. My name is Benedict Turpin,
and I am a knight of the Legion of Honour and of the Guelphic Order."
The two officers stepped back a pace, exchanged a few words in a low
voice, and returned to Benedict's side, to tell him that they were at
All three then entered the café and went to seat themselves at the
general's table. The latter looked up and found himself face to face
with Benedict, whom he recognized at the first glance.
"Ah, it is you, sir," said he, growing rather pale.
"Yes, sir," answered Benedict. "And here are these gentlemen who are
still unacquainted with the explanation that I am about to have with you
and are here to hear what I say, and will be kind enough to assist me in
our combat. Will you allow me to explain to these gentlemen, in your
presence, the cause of our meeting, and afterwards will you give them
details of our antecedents as we go together to the place decided upon?
You remember, sir, that, nearly a year ago you did me the honour of
writing to me that mountains did not meet, but that men did, and that
whenever I had the honour of meeting you outside the kingdom of His
Majesty, King William, you would put no difficulty in the way of giving
The general rose.
"It is useless," said he, "to prolong an explanation in a café where
everybody can hear what we say; you can give any explanations to these
gentlemen of the grounds of complaint which you consider yourself to
have against me, and which I am not in any degree bound to disclaim to
you. I wrote to you that I was ready to give you satisfaction; I am.
Give me time to go into the hotel and fetch two friends. That is all I
ask of you."
"Do so, sir," said Benedict, bowing.
Sturm left the café. Benedict and the two officers followed him. He went
into the Hôtel du Louvre. The three gentlemen waited at the door.
In the ten minutes during which they waited Benedict told them the whole
story, and was just concluding it as the general reappeared with his
seconds--two officers of the king's retinue. All three came towards
Benedict and bowed to him. Benedict introduced his own seconds to those
of the general by a wave of the hand. All four drew apart a little.
Presently Benedict's seconds came back to him.
"You have left the choice of weapons to the general?" said he.
"Yes, sir, and he has chosen the sword; we are to go to a sword cutler
and choose a couple of blades that neither of you will have seen
before; then we are to go to the nearest convenient spot for the
meeting. We suggested the fortifications, and these gentlemen have
agreed; they are to take an open carriage, we are to take another; and,
as they do not know the way and we do, we shall guide them along the
boulevard, and at the first sword-cutler's we will buy the swords."
Everything was arranged accordingly. Two waiters were sent for two
carriages. The seconds suggested that the surgeon-major of the Zouaves
should accompany the party, and the suggestion being accepted, one of
the officers went to fetch him. He joined Benedict and the two
Frenchmen, while General Sturm and his seconds followed at some
At the sword-cutler's--which was Claudin's, Benedict said in an aside to
the shopman, whom he knew:
"The swords are to be charged to me; let the gentlemen who are in the
second carriage choose them."
Three different swords were shown to General Sturm, who selected the one
that best suited his hand, and asked its price; he was told that they
were paid for. The two carriages went as far as the Étoile turnpike by
way of the Maillot gate. Thence they followed the line of the
fortifications for a short distance, then, when they had reached a
tolerably deserted spot, the two Zouave officers alighted from their
chaise, looked up and down the fosse, and finding it empty beckoned
their adversaries to join them. In another minute the whole party was
standing at the base of the walls. The ground was level and offered
every facility for a combat of the kind that was now to take place.
The general's seconds presented the two swords to Benedict who had not
previously seen them; he cast a quick glance at them and saw that they
were _montées en quarte_, a circumstance which suited his designs
admirably. Apparently it suited General Sturm's, also, since he had
chosen the swords.
"When is the light to stop?" asked the seconds.
"When one of us is killed," answered the two antagonists together.
"Coats off, gentlemen!" said the seconds.
Benedict threw aside his jacket and waistcoat, displaying his shirt.
"Are you ready, gentlemen?" asked the seconds.
"Yes," replied both at the same time.
One of the Zouave officers took one sword and put it into Benedict's
hands; one of the Prussian officers took the other and put it into
General Sturm's hands.
The seconds crossed the two swords at a distance of three inches from
the points, and, moving aside to leave the combatants face to face,
The words were scarcely uttered when the general swiftly made himself
master of his opponent's sword by a double engagement, making as he did
so a stride forward with all the usual impetuosity of a man who knows
himself an adept in fencing.
Benedict leapt back; then, looking at the general's guard:
"Ah, ah!" he murmured, "a quick fellow on his feet. Attention!"
He exchanged a quick glance with his seconds, to tell them not to be
But at the same moment, and without any interval, the general, while
entangling the sword by a skilful pressure advanced in a crouching
attitude, and lunged with so rapid a _dégagement_ that it needed all
Benedict's close handling to parry by a _counter quarte_, which, quick
though it was, could not save his shoulder from a graze. The shirt tore
upon the sword's point and became slightly tinged with blood.
The return thrust came so swiftly that the Prussian by luck or by
instinct had not time to resort to a circular parry and mechanically
employed the _parade de quarte_ and was now on the defensive. The thrust
was parried, but it had been given with such energy that General Sturm
staggered on his legs and could not deliver his counter thrust.
"He is a pretty fencer, after all," thought Benedict. "He gives one
something to do."
Sturm stepped back and lowered his point.
"You are wounded," said he.
"Come, come," returned the young man, "no nonsense! Here's a fuss about
a scratch. You know very well, general, that I have got to kill you. One
must keep one's word, even to a dead man." He put himself in position
"You? Kill me! Upstart!" exclaimed the general.
"Yes, I, greenhorn as you think me," replied Benedict. "Your blood for
his, although all yours is not equal to one drop of his."
"Cursed rascal!" swore Sturm, growing crimson. And, rushing upon
Benedict, he made as he came, two successive _coups de seconde_, so
hasty and so furious that Benedict had barely time to parry them, by
twice retiring, and then a _parade de seconde_ delivered with such
precision and energy that the loose shirt was torn above the waistband,
and Benedict felt the cold steel. Another stain of blood appeared.
"What! Are you trying to tear off my shirt?" said Benedict, sending his
enemy a high _thrust de quarte_, which would have run him through, but
that, feeling himself in danger, he flung himself forward in such a
manner that the hilts touched, and the two adversaries stood with their
swords up face to face.
"Here!" cried Benedict, "this will teach you to steal my thrust."
And before the seconds could interpose their swords to separate them,
Benedict, freeing his arm like a spring, drove the two hilts like the
blow of a fist in his adversary's face, who staggered back, his face
lacerated and bruised by the blow.
Then followed a scene which made those who beheld it shudder.
Sturm drew back for an instant, his mouth half-open and foaming, his
teeth clenched and bleeding, his lips turned back, his eyes gleaming,
bloodshot and almost starting from their sockets, his whole countenance
"Blackguard! Dog!" he yelled, waving his stiff-held sword and crouching
back for his guard like a jaguar ready to spring.
Benedict stood calm, cold, contemptuous. He extended his sword towards
"You belong to me, now," he said in a solemn voice. "You are about to
He fell back to his guard, exaggerating the pose as a sort of challenge.
He had not to wait long.
Sturm was too good a fencer to throw himself unprotected upon his enemy.
He advanced sharply one pace, making _un double engagement_, of which
Benedict turned aside the second by a _dégagement fait comme on les
passe au mur_.
Anger had disturbed Sturm's guard, he was lunging with his head down--an
attitude which, for this once at least, saved him. The _dégagement_
merely grazed his shoulder by the neck. Blood appeared.
"A sleeve for a sleeve," retorted Benedict, falling back quickly to his
guard, and leaving a great distance between the general and himself.
"Now for it!"
The general found himself too far off, took a step forward, gathered all
his powers, made a frenzied beating with his sword and struck straight,
lunging at the full stretch of his body. All his soul, that is to say,
all his hope, was in that blow.
This time Benedict, planted firmly on his feet, did not yield an inch;
he caught the sword _par un demi cercle_, executed in due form, with his
nails held upwards as though he were in a fencing school, and standing
over the point of his sword inclined towards his feet:
"Now then," he said, delivering his thrust.
The sword entered the upper part of the chest and disappeared completely
in the general's body where Benedict left it, as he sprang back--as a
bull fighter leaves his dagger in the breast of the bull. Then, folding
his arms, he waited.
The general remained standing for a second, staggered, tried to speak;
his mouth became full of blood, he made a movement with his sword and
the sword fell from his hand; then he, himself, like an uprooted tree,
fell full length upon the turf.
The surgeon rushed to the body of Sturm; but he was already dead.
The point of the sword had gone in below the right shoulder blade, and
come out on the left hip, after passing through the heart.
"_Sapristi!_" muttered the surgeon, "that's a man well killed."
Such was Sturm's funeral oration.