Just at this moment Chamberlain von Lehndorf approached him, and bent close to his ear. “Most gracious sir!” he cried amid the clash of trumpets—“most gracious sir, the man is no longer there. He has gone and can no longer be seen in the street!”
The Stadtholder gave a slight nod of the head, and proceeded to bid his guests welcome.
Sumptuous was the feast, choice were the viands, and costly the fragrant wines. The guests of the Stadtholder in the Mark were full of rapture, full of admiration, and their lips were lavish in praises of the noble count, while their eyes shone brighter from partaking of the generous wine. The lackeys flew up and down the hall, waiting upon the guests, the pages stood behind the count’s chair, and offered his excellency food and drink in vessels of gold. At first they sat at table with grave and dignified demeanor, but gradually the delicious viands enlivened their hearts, the glowing wine loosened their tongues, and now they laughed and talked merrily and gave themselves entirely up to the pleasures of the table. Louder swelled the hum of mingled voices. Peals of laughter rang through the banquet hall, until in their turn they were drowned by bursts of dashing music, whose inspiring strains blended with the animated tones of the human voice. Count Adam Schwarzenberg, who sat at the upper end of the table under a canopy of purple velvet, heard all this, and yet it seemed to him like a dream, and as if all this bustle, laughing, and merrymaking came to him from the distant past. He heard the confusion of voices, the clangor of the music, but it sounded hollow in his ear, and above all rang fearfully distinct the name which Lehndorf had pronounced—Gabriel Nietzel! His guests sang and laughed, but he heard only that one name—Gabriel Nietzel!
Round about the long table he saw only glad faces, beaming eyes, and flushed cheeks, but he saw them vanish and other faces arise before his inner eye, faces of the past! There sat the Elector George William, with his easy, good-natured countenance. He nodded smilingly at him, and his glance, full of affection, rested upon him, the favorite. Yes, he had loved him dearly, that good Elector! Out of the little, insignificant Count Schwarzenberg he had made a mighty lord, had exalted him into a Stadtholder, into the most powerful subject in his realm! And how had he requited him?