but when Rita again called at old Bond Street, Rashid proposed
There were not only Germans from all the provinces, but Italians, Spaniards, Russians, Swedes, Hungarians, Netherlanders, and Frenchmen. All these were prisoners of war--their swords had been stained with the blood of Prussians; the fate of war now confined them to the scabbard, and changed the enemies of the king into guests at his court.
Hundreds of captive officers were now waiting in the saloon for the appearance of the queen, but the Prussian army was scarcely represented. All who were fit for service were in the field, only the invalids and the old warriors, too infirm for active duty had remained at the capital; even the youths who had not attained the legal age for military duty, had hastened to the army, full of courage and enthusiasm, inspired by the example of their fathers and brothers.
The dazzling appearance of these royal saloons was therefore mostly owing to the flashing uniforms of the prisoners of war. Only a few old Prussian generals, and the courtiers, whose duties prevented them from being heroes, were added to the number.
Herr von Giurgenow, and his friend Captain Belleville, were invited to the ball, and were well pleased to offer their homage to the majesty of Prussia. Count Ranuzi, who, reserved and silent as usual, had been wandering through the saloons, now joined them, and they had all withdrawn to a window, in order to observe quietly and undisturbed the gay crowd passing before them.
"Look you," said Ranuzi, laughing, "this reminds me of the frantic confusion in the anterooms of hell, which Dante has described in such masterly style. We all wear our glittering masks, under which our corpses are hidden; one word from our master and this drapery would fall off, and these grinning death-heads be brought to ruin. It depends solely upon the will of Frederick of Prussia to speak this word. He is our master, and when he commands it, we must lay aside our swords and exchange our uniforms for the garments of a malefactor."
"He will not dare to do this," said Giurgenow; "all Europe would call him a barbarian, and make him answerable for his insolence."
"First, all Europe must be in a condition to call him to account," said Ranuzi, laughing; "and that is certainly not the case at present, I am sorry to say."
"You have not heard, then," said Belleville, "of the glorious victory which our great General Broglie has gained over Duke Ferdinand of Brunswick; all France is jubilant over this happy event, and the Marquise de Pompadour, or rather King Louis, has made this second Turenne, our noble Broglie, marshal."