He offered the baron his hand, and affectionately conducted him to the door himself. Just at this moment that door was quickly opened, and a page appeared.
“Your Electoral Highness,” was his announcement, “the imperial envoy, Count Martinitz, craves an audience for himself, a special messenger from the Emperor, and his attendant.”
“Admit his Majesty’s envoys,” replied Frederick William, as he again crossed the room and seated himself in the armchair before his writing table.
X.—A SECRET AUDIENCE.
The three persons announced entered the Electoral cabinet. First came Count Martinitz with important air, dressed in the richly embroidered costume of a Spanish courtier, followed by an old man of venerable aspect and the bearing of a scholar, clad in a suit of black velvet, and by a young lord in a magnificent court dress. The Elector sprang up on beholding the latter, and a flush of indignation suffused his countenance.
“Count Martinitz,” he asked hastily, “whom do you bring to me?”
“Your highness,” replied. Martinitz, with firm, composed voice—“your highness, I beg to be allowed to present these two lords to you. This is Dr. Gebhard, a very learned and wise man, the Emperor Ferdinand’s cabinet and privy counselor, sent by his Majesty to your highness, charged with a confidential and secret errand. Permit me now to present to your highness, this other gentleman.”
“I know him!” cried the Elector, with flashing eyes and angry mien. “I am only too well acquainted with Count Adolphus Schwarzenberg and all the plots and intrigues concocted by him in Berlin, and his efforts to lead my officers into insubordination and revolt. But when I ordered investigations to be made into these matters, and the count should have justified his actions, the boastful lord showed himself to be but a cowardly deserter!”
“Your highness!” exclaimed the count coming forward with long strides, and touching the hilt of the dress-sword hanging at his side—“your highness, I have come to justify myself against the calumnies of my enemies. Will you be pleased to hear me patiently, and not impugn my honor as a gentleman and a count of the empire before you have listened to my justification?”