And the princess, wholly absorbed in her delightful reminiscences, smilingly and silently reclined upon the cushions of the divan.
“Ah, it must be love that so thinks and feels,” thoughtfully observed Julia. “I no longer ask you, Princess Anna, if you love the count, I now know you do. But answer me yet one question. Have you confidence in me—full, unlimited confidence? Will you never mistake, never doubt me?”
“Never!” said Anna Leopoldowna, confidently. “And if all the world should tell me that Julia von Mengden is a traitress, I would nevertheless firmly rely upon you, and reply to the whole world: ’That is false! Julia von Mengden is true and pure as gold. I shall always love her.’”
Julia gratefully glanced up to the heavens, and her eyes filled with tears.
“I thank you, princess,” she then said, with a happy smile. “I now have courage for all. You shall now be enabled to love your Lynar without fear or trembling, and your husband’s clouded brow and reproaching tongue shall molest us no more. Confide in me and ask no questions. It is all decided and arranged in my mind. But hark! do you hear nothing?”
Anna’s face was transfused with a purple glow, and her eyes flashed.
“It is my beloved,” said she. “Yes, it is he. I know his step!”
Julia smilingly opened the concealed door, and Count Lynar, with a cry of joy, rushed to the feet of his beloved.
“At length!” he exclaimed, clasping her feet, and pressing them to his bosom.
“Yes, at length!” murmured Anna, looking down upon him with a celestial smile.
Julia stood at a distance, contemplating them with thoughtful glances.
“They should be happy,” she murmured low, and then asked aloud: “Count Lynar, did you receive my letter?”
“I did receive it,” said the count, “and may God reward you for the sacrifice you are so generously disposed to make for us! Anna, your friend Julia is our good angel. To her we shall owe it if our happiness is henceforth indestructible and indissoluble. Do you know the immense sacrifice this young maiden proposes to make for us?”
“No, Princess Anna knows nothing, and shall know nothing of it,” said Julia, with a grand air. “Princess Anna shall only know that I love her, and am ready to give my life for her. And now,” she continued, with her natural gayety, “forget me, ye happy lovers! Lull yourselves in the sweet enjoyment of nameless ecstasies! I go to watch the spies, and especially your husband, lest he break in upon you without notice!”
And Julia suddenly left the room, shutting the door upon Anna Leopoldowna and her lover, the Polish Count Lynar.
Prince Ulrich of Brunswick, the husband of the regent, had assembled the officers of his general staff for a secret conference. Their dark, threatening glances were prophetic of mischief, and angrily flashed the eyes of the prince, who, standing in their midst, had spoken to them in glowing words of his domestic unhappiness, and of the idle, dreamy, and amatory indolence into which the regent had fallen.