a combination of adverse circumstances, she, the wife of
"Your royal highness sends no reply to these lines, written with Trenck's heart's blood?"
Amelia took the pen and wrote a few hasty lines upon the paper, which she handed Ranuzi. The words were: "Ovunque tu sei vicina ti sono."
"Give him that," said she; "it is not written with my heart's blood, but my heart bleeds for him--bleeds ever inwardly. And now resume your role of soothsayer--I must call my ladies."
The afternoon of this day Ranuzi wrote to his friend, Captain Kimsky, prisoner of war at Magdeburg: "The train is laid, and will succeed. The fortress will soon be in our hands. A romantic, sentimental woman's heart is a good thing, easily moved to intrigues. Magdeburg will be ours! Prepare everything--be ill, and call for me; I shall get a passport. I have a powerful protectress, and with such, you know, a man mar attain all the desires of his heart!"
It was the birthday of Prince Henry, and was to be celebrated with great pomp at the court. The king had himself written explicitly on this subject to the master of ceremonies, Baron Pollnitz. Pollnitz was, therefore, actively occupied in the early morning, and no general ever made his preparations for a battle with more earnestness and importance than the good baron gave his orders for the splendid fete which was to be given in the royal apartments that night.
And this was indeed a great opportunity. The people of Berlin were to enjoy a ball and a concert, at which all the Italian singers were to be present; and then a rare and costly supper, to which not only the court, but all the officers who were prisoners of war were to be invited.
This supper was to Pollnitz the great circumstance, the middle point of the fete. Such an entertainment was now rare at the court of Berlin, and many months might pass away ere the queen would think of giving another supper. Pollnitz knew that when he thirsted now for a luxurious meal he must enjoy it at his own cost, and this thought made him shudder. The worthy baron was at the same time a spendthrift and a miser.
Four times in every year he had three or four days of rare and rich enjoyment; he lived en grand seigneur, and prepared for himself every earthly luxury; these were the first three or four days of every quarter in which he received his salary. With a lavish hand he scattered all the gold which he could keep back from his greedy creditors, and felt himself young, rich, and happy. After these fleeting days of proud glory came months of sad economy; he was obliged to play the role of a parasitical plant, attach himself to some firm, well-rooted stem, and absorb its strength and muscle. In these days of restraint he watched like a pirate all those who were in the condition to keep a good table, and so soon as he learned that a dinner was on hand, he knew how to conquer a place. At these times he was also a passionate devotee of the card-table, and it was the greatest proof of his versatility and dexterity that he always succeeded in making up his party, though every man knew it cost gold to play cards with Pollnitz. The grand-master had the exalted principles of Louis XV. of France, who was also devoted to cards. Every evening the great Louis set apart a thousand louis d'or to win or lose. If the king won, the gold went into his private pocket; if he lost, the state treasury suffered.