Awaiting Count von Schwarzenberg in his cabinet were the four officers whom the lackey had conducted there in obedience to his instructions. They grew dumb in the midst of their conversation when the count entered, and stood up, saluting him in stiff and military style. Count Schwarzenberg nodded to them in a friendly manner, and an obliging smile played about his thin and finely cut lips.
“Put the baskets on my writing table and go out,” he commanded the pages, and then turned toward the gentlemen, who still stood there with soldierly stiffness.
“Welcome, my lord general, and you, sirs colonels,” he said in playful, jocular tone. “Truly, it is a pleasure to see one’s self surrounded by such valiant soldiers. If my gracious master the Elector had as many such splendid soldiers as he has leaders, he would be helped indeed, and not find it necessary to battle with the Swedes for his dukedom of Pomerania, for then would the Swedes soon run off conquered.”
“Just imagine, your excellency,” cried Colonel Conrad von Burgsdorf, while he stroked his long, gray mustache with his broad fat hand—“just imagine what respect the Swedes would have for such a regiment composed of Klitzings, Rochows, and Krachts.”
“You forget yourself, Sir Colonel,” said Count Schwarzenberg, in a friendly, insinuating tone; “you forget to say that Conrad von Burgsdorf alone is a whole regiment in himself.”
“Perhaps that is the reason why I have in fact nothing behind me,” cried Colonel von Burgsdorf, with a loud, coarse laugh. “Yes, yes, now I know why I have so few soldiers behind me; the others all concentrate in me, and it is merely a pity and shame that they can not come forth from me to make front against the cursed Swedes.”
“They will come forth now, depend upon it; they will come forth,” said the count, with a pleasant smile. “My lords, I have had you summoned to confer with you about important and significant tidings. In the first place, we shall consider what relates to yourselves, and is therefore of greatest interest to you. General von Klitzing, henceforth you shall have no cause to complain of having a title but no employment. For from this very day you shall have employment, since his Electoral Grace designs forthwith to have regiments equipped and brought into the field.”
“Hurrah! now for it!” shouted Burgsdorf, waving his right arm.
“I shout hurrah, too, with your excellency’s permission,” said General von Klitzing joyfully. “It has been three months since your excellency did me the favor to recall me here from the Saxon service in order to assume the command of the Brandenburg troops, and I have been in despair ever since, for it has been just like acting a comedy, where they fight with pasteboard swords and tin soldiers.”