As, hardly four weeks previously, the great magnates of the realm had hurried to the Duke of Courland to pay their homage and prostrate themselves in the dust before him, so did they now hasten to the palace of the new regent, humbly to pay their court to her. The same lips that even yesterday swore eternal fidelity to the Regent Biron, and sounded his praise to the skies, now condemned him, and as loudly commended their august new mistress, Anna Leopoldowna! The same knees which had yesterday bent to Biron, now bent before Anna; and, with tears of joy, men now again sank into the arms of each other, loudly congratulating their noble Russia upon which the sun of happiness had now risen, given her Anna Leopoldowna as regent!
And while all was jubilation in the palace of the new regent, that of the great man of yesterday stood silent and deserted—no one dared to raise a voice in his favor! Those who yesterday revelled at his table and sang his praises were to-day his bitterest enemies, cursing him the louder the more they had lauded him yesterday.
Magnificent festivals were celebrated in St. Petersburg in honor of the new regent, while they were at the same time trying the old one and condemning him to death. But Anna Leopoldowna mitigated his punishment—what a mitigation!—by changing the sentence of death into that of perpetual banishment to Siberia!
Tranquillity was again established in Russia. Once again all faces were lighted up with joy at this new state of affairs, and again the people congratulated themselves on the good fortune of the Russian empire! All this was done four weeks previously, when Biron took upon himself the regency, and the same will be done again when another comes to overthrow the Regent Anna!
It was on the day after this new revolution, when Munnich, entering the palace with a proud step and elevated head, requested an interview with the regent.
“Your highness,” he said, not bending the knee before his sovereign as custom demanded, but only slightly pressing her hand to his lips—“your highness, I have redeemed my word and fulfilled my promise. I promised to liberate you from Biron and make you regent, and I have kept my word. Now, madame, it is for you to fulfil your pledge! You solemnly promised that when I should succeed in making you regent, you would immediately and unconditionally grant me whatever I might demand. Well, now, you are regent, and I come to proffer my request!”
“It will make me happy, field-marshal, to discharge a small part of my obligations toward you, by yielding to your demand. Ask quickly, that I may the sooner give!” said Anna Leopoldowna, with an engaging smile.
“Make me the generalissimo of your forces!” responded Munnich in an almost commanding tone.
A cloud gathered over the smiling features of the regent.