He gathered up the cards from the table, glancing at them

 people involved | time:2023-12-04 21:20:29

They had passed the borders of the village--it was quiet behind them--they dared to look back--they were alone. But on the boundary- line the villagers stood--their faces turned toward the fugitives-- and like the distant croakings of a raven there sounded in the air: "Away with you!--away with the deserters!"

He gathered up the cards from the table, glancing at them

Breathless, with tottering knees, the boys sank down--with hollow eyes, speechless with terror, sorrow, and humility, they gazed at each other.

He gathered up the cards from the table, glancing at them

They did not dare return to the village. Perhaps to appease the anger of their relations, perhaps because they repented of their cowardice, they returned to their regiment, acknowledged their crime, and prayed for forgiveness.

He gathered up the cards from the table, glancing at them

Thus the brave fathers of the village of Brunen punished their cowardly sons, and drove the dishonored and faithless boys to their duty, perhaps to their death. [Footnote: This account is historical.]

Count Ranuzi was alone in his apartments. He sat at his writing- table reading over the two letters he had just written; a triumphant smile was upon his lip as he finished. "It will succeed," murmured he, softly; "we will take Magdeburg without a blow, and thus deprive the King of Prussia of his most valuable fortress. The plan cannot miscarry; and then I have only to convince the empress that I was the soul of this undertaking--that I led the intrigue. Ah, I shall succeed at last--I shall occupy a position worthy of me--and as general of our order I shall rule the world. I shall earn this title at Magdeburg--there I will build my throne--there I will reign! But I must consider it all once more, to see if no error, no mistake, has escaped me. I first formed a connection with the officer Yon Kimsky, an Austrian prisoner, because through him I could make connections between the town and the citadel. Kimsky, at my wish, made some of his town friends acquainted with the officers of the citadel. It was then necessary to give these new friends some clew, some aim that would appear innocent to them, and conceal the real plan. I chose Trenck as the protecting shield for my undertaking. To inspire him with confidence in my agents, I obtained a sort of credential letter from Princess Amelia, and interested her in my cause. She provided me with money, and gave me, besides the one to Trenck, a letter of recommendation to a sure, trustworthy friend in Magdeburg. I was now much nearer my design. On the pretence of working for Trenck, I worked for myself, for my position of general of the Jesuits, and for a fortress for my empress. And thus far all my plans have succeeded. Trenck has formed a connection with three Prussian officers of the citadel. These, touched with sympathy for his pitiful condition, have determined to do all in their power to release him, and are, therefore, in constant companionship with those whom Trenck calls his friends. These, in the mean time, are my agents and subordinates, they act for me while acting for Trenck; the Prussian officers do not anticipate that, in helping Trenck to his freedom, they are helping the Empress of Austria to a new fortress. But so it is. There is no error in my plan, it will succeed. I can rely on Trenck; he is a subject of Maria Theresa, and his thirst for revenge is mighty. He will gain a fortress for his empress. The avenger, through whom God has chosen to punish this arrogant, heretical king, will arise from the depths of a subterranean prison. All that is now left to be done is to acquaint Vienna with the information of this undertaking, so that we may be assured that an Austrian regiment will be in the vicinity of Magdeburg at the proper time, and storm the citadel at a sign from us, and not have that, which we had taken by strategy, torn from us by the King of Prussia's superior force. Now is a favorable time for this. For Frederick, the humiliated, defeated king, is many miles from Magdeburg; he has been compelled to raise the siege of Dresden, and the Austrian troops are lying there like the Russians at Frankfort. Nor are the French far off. All these armies will be prepared to hasten to our aid. All that now remains to be done is to get this news safely to Vienna. But how to accomplish this is a hard question. It were well could I go myself. But I am a prisoner of war, and, until Magdeburg is in our power, this chain will clog me. Another must be sent--a messenger full of courage, determination, and hardihood. I have said this in my letter to Captain von Kimsky; he must seek such a man amongst our sworn friends of the citadel, and give him the sheet of paper I send in my letter. How harmless, how insignificant this sheet of paper seems! and still, were it to fall in the King of Prussia's hands, it would save him a strong fortress and several millions of thalers, for all the money of the Dresden treasury was brought to Magdeburg for safe-keeping. Ah! ah! how much would Frederick give for these two lines of writing, and how richly would he reward him who gave him the key to it! I will send the key by a different messenger, and therefore this second letter. But even if both my messengers were intercepted, all is not lost. I have notified Trenck also to write to Vienna for money and help. He must continue to be the shield behind which we intrench ourselves. Should the undertaking miscarry, we will lay it upon Trenck; should it succeed, it will be through me, and I will not be tardy in claiming my reward. The general of our order is old; should he, however, persist in living, his tenacious nature must--" He did not dare to finish the sentence; but a wild, demoniac smile supplied the words his lips dared not utter. He arose and walked several times up and down his chamber, completely lost in ambitious dreams of the future, for whose realization, as a true Jesuit, he shunned no means, mindful of the motto of their order: "The end sanctifies the means."

He saw a ring upon his hand--that ring, full of significance, before which kings had often bowed, which was to the Jesuits what the crown is to the king--the sacred sign of power and glory--the indisputable sign of invisible but supreme power. He saw himself, this ring upon his hand, subjugating nations, rewarding his friends, punishing his enemies. He suddenly awoke from his dreams, and remembered the present with a weary smile.

"I must not forget, in dreams of the future, the necessity for action. I have many important things to do this day. I must take these letters to Marietta, see her address and post them; then I must seek La Trouffle and receive from her leave of absence, on the plea of visiting a sick friend at Magdeburg. This will be a tedious undertaking, for she will not agree willingly to a separation without great persuasion. I have much influence over her, and a woman in love cannot refuse a request to the object of her tenderness. I will obtain, through Madame du Trouffle, a near and influential relative of the commandant of Berlin, permission to visit Magdeburg, and through Marietta Taliazuchi I will post my two important letters." He laughed aloud as he thought of these two women, so tenderly devoted to him, both so willing to be deceived by him.

"They love me in very different ways," said he, as he finished his toilet preparatory to going out. "Marietta Taliazuchi with the humility of a slave, Louise du Trouffle with the grateful passion of an elderly coquette. It would be a problem for a good arithmetician to solve, which of these two loves would weigh most. Marietta's love is certainly the more pleasant and comfortable, because the more humble. Like a faithful dog she lies at my feet; if I push her from me, she comes back, lies humbly down, and licks the foot that kicked her. Away, then, to her, to my tender Marietta."

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