“Most gracious sir, you cut me to the quick! Each of your words is a dagger aimed right at my heart. Let me go; let it bleed in solitude and retirement.”
And old von Burgsdorf turned and went to the door.
“Stay there!” called out the Elector in commanding tone, arising from his seat and standing proudly erect. Burgsdorf, who had just laid his hand upon the door latch, let it glide down, and stood abashed and humble.
“You gave me up and forsook me that time in Berlin,” continued Frederick William, “scolded and upbraided me, merely because I wished to learn and wait. That proves to me that you have never learned and never waited. Learn now, Colonel Conrad von Burgsdorf. Withdraw into that window recess, and wait until I speak to you again and tell you my decision with regard to you.” And once more the Elector opened the door of the antechamber and called Chamberlain Werner von Schulenburg into his cabinet.
“Schulenburg,” said the Elector to the advancing chamberlain, “you will set out immediately. Go to Berlin and inform the Stadtholder in the Mark, Count von Schwarzenberg, of my father’s death. Announce to his excellency that it is my urgent and pressing request, that he continue to burden himself with the duties of the Stadtholdership.”
An involuntary growl issued from the window where Burgsdorf was stationed. The Elector took no notice of it, and proceeded: “Moreover, request the Stadtholder in my name to write to me immediately, advising me what to do with regard to the Regensburg Diet, because we can not now with the required dispatch rightly apprehend and maturely consider the matter on account of our great affliction."
A second growl issued from the window, and called a slight, passing smile to Frederick William’s face.
“Then,” continued the Elector, “notify the Stadtholder that I shall he glad to retain the present governors and garrisons of the forts; but that it would please me if we could inflict some injury upon the enemy at one place or the other; but, mindful of his hitherto glorious and successful management, I feel that I need only direct his attention in a special manner to the fortresses.”
Old Burgsdorf’s growl now became almost a shriek of pain. “It is unheard of,” he said, in quite an audible voice.
With a proud movement of the head the Elector turned to him. “Burgsdorf,” he said, “you were to learn to wait; be silent, then, as becomes an humble scholar.”
Again the Elector turned to the chamberlain. “That is all I have to say to you, Schulenburg. I hope you have forgotten nothing, and that you will punctiliously execute every command.”
“I trust that your highness is convinced of my zeal and fidelity,” replied the chamberlain, bowing reverentially. “I shall punctiliously execute all your orders, and have only to ask further when I am to set off?”