“Did you call me, sir?”
“No, colonel, farewell!”
The door closed, and Frederick William was alone. His large blue eyes were directed toward heaven with a look of inexpressible grief.
“I have in this hour offered up a greater sacrifice than Abraham, when he sacrificed his son to his God,” he whispered. “Has God accepted my sacrifice, will he in his mercy some day reward me for it?”
The city of Berlin was to-day in a state of unusual stir and excitement. Everybody made haste to finish his noon-day meal, and nobody thought of complaining especially that this repast was so sparingly provided and served in such small portions, and that the dread specter of hunger was ever stalking nearer to the inhabitants of the unhappy, much-plagued town. They were to-day looking forward to a spectacle—one, moreover, for which no money was to be paid, which could be had gratis, just by being upon the street in right time and struggling to obtain a good position on the cathedral square, before the palace, or much better, before Count Schwarzenberg’s palace. For to-day the count gave a great banquet in his palace on Broad Street, and it was well worth the trouble of contending for a place before the palace, and not even being frightened by a few cuffs and blows. The whole fashionable world of Berlin, all the nobility of the regions round about, were invited to this feast, and the whole court was to appear there. And it was so rarely that the Electoral family was ever to be seen by the town. They had passed almost a year in the Mark, but in such quiet and retirement did they live that their presence would hardly have been recognized if on Sunday in the cathedral church, which stood in the center of the square between the palace and Broad Street, their lofty personages had not been discernible behind the glass panes of the Electoral gallery. But to-day they were not to be seen in the seriousness of devotion, with their solemn, church-going faces, but in the pomp and splendor of their exalted station, in the glitter of their earthly greatness. And, above all things, they were to see the Electoral Prince, the Prince who had but just returned home, the hope of the downtrodden land, the future of the Mark Brandenburg!
How the good people hurried with joyful, eager faces along toward Broad Street, with what hasty movements did they rush across the Spree Bridge! A black, surging throng of men stood before the castle on the cathedral square, a dense, motionless mass before Count Schwarzenberg’s palace. Only one passage was left free, broad enough to allow the carriage to drive across the castle square to the palace, and on both sides of this stood the halberdiers of the Stadtholder’s bodyguard, threateningly presenting their halberds toward those who ventured to step forward. The Stadtholder in the Mark had his own bodyguard—fine,