Before them flash lights, like golden stars, like bonfires of rejoicing.
“Count, those are the lights of Spandow! Just see those torches there! The commandant is waiting for you at the entrance to the fort with his torchbearers.”
“On! on!” shout the three, and they race onward at lightning speed. And at lightning speed the pursuers follow. Nearer they come, ever nearer.
“I have them! I have caught them!” exults Burgsdorf, springing forward and stretching out his hands toward the fugitives, for it seems to him as if he can indeed lay his hand upon them. “Halt! halt! in the name of the Elector!”
“Forward! forward! What care we for the Elector? What care we for Burgsdorf? Forward!”
The lights increase in size and brilliancy. Now they distinguish torches and the figures of men.
“Are you there, count?” calls down Colonel von Rochow from the wall.
“It is I, colonel!”
The gate is open, they gallop in!
Over the wooden bridge gallop the pursuers after them. Now they are at the gate. But the gate slams to with thundering sound. The pursuers are left without.
“Undo the bolts, Colonel von Rochow! I command you, undo the bolts!”
“Who is it that dares to command me?” calls down Colonel von Rochow from the fortification walls.
“I command you! I, the commandant in chief of all the fortresses in the Mark!”
“I know no commandant in chief, and trouble myself about no such person. I am commandant of Spandow, and have sworn to serve the Emperor, and him alone.”
“Colonel von Rochow, in the name of the Elector and in the name of the Stadtholder in the Mark, I command you for the last time to open the gate!”
“The Elector is not my master to command me, and as to the Stadtholder in the Mark, here he is at my side. Only Count Adolphus Schwarzenberg do I recognize as such, and he forbids my opening the gate. Go back quietly to Berlin, colonel, for the night is cold, and your ride will warm you.”
“And I must pocket this insult,” muttered old Burgsdorf, gnashing his teeth. “I can do nothing but turn around and go back with shame!” Almost tearfully he gave his men the order to face about and return to Berlin.
In the castle within, Count John Adolphus cordially offered his hand to Commandant von Rochow.
“Colonel, you have saved my life by furnishing me a refuge. I would have shot myself if Burgsdorf had overtaken me. I shall commend you to the Emperor’s Majesty for this friendly service.”
“Well, here you are at last,” exclaimed Elector Frederick William, holding out his hand to Baron Leuchtmar von Kalkhun. “You have at last returned from your difficult journey.”
“Yes, gracious sir, you may well call it a difficult journey. Four long months of endless debate, wrangling, and dispute with those arrogant Swedish lords, who were ever ready to take but never to give. Such was my experience day by day for four long months.”