“Princess Anna is in the right,” said Julia; “you must absent yourself for a few weeks—not for my sake, who little desire any such triumph, but that the world may believe the tale, and no longer suspect my princess.”
It was a sweetly painful hour—a farewell so tearful, and yet so full of deeply-felt happiness. On that very night was the count to commence his journey to Liefland and Warsaw. As they wished to make no secret of the marriage, the count needed the consent of his court and his family.
Anna provided him with letters and passports. The best and fairest of the estates of the crown in Liefland was assigned to Julia as a bridal present, and the count was furnished with the proper documents to enable him to take possession of it.
And finally came the parting moment! For the last time they lay in each other’s arms; they mutually swore eternal love, unconquerable fidelity—all that a loving couple could swear!
Tearing himself from her embrace, he rushed to the door.
Anna stretches out her arms toward him, her brow is pallid, her eyes fixed. The door opens, he turns for one last look, and nods a farewell. Ah, with her last glance she would forever enchain that noble and beautiful face—with her extended arms she would forever retain that majestic form.
“Farewell, Anna, farewell!”
The door closes behind him—he is gone!
A cold shudder convulsed Anna’s form, a bodeful fear took possession of her mind. It lay upon her heart like a dark mourning-veil.
“I shall never, never see him again!” she shrieked, sinking unconscious into Julia’s arms.
While a Mecklenburg princess had attained to the regency of Russia, and while her son was hailed as emperor, the Princess Elizabeth lived alone and unnoticed in her small and modestly-furnished throne, and yet in St. Petersburg was living the only rightful heir to the empire, the daughter of Czar Peter the Great! And as she was young, beautiful, and amiable, how came she to be set aside to make room for a stranger upon the throne of her father, which belonged to her alone?
Princess Elizabeth had voluntarily kept aloof from all political intrigues and all revolutions. In the interior of her palace she passed happy days; her world, her life, and her pleasures were there. Princess Elizabeth desired not to reign; her only wish was to love and be loved. The intoxicating splendor of worldly greatness was not so inviting to her as the more intoxicating pleasure of blessed and happy love. She would, above all things, be a woman, and enjoy the full possession of her youth and happiness.
What cared she that her own rightful throne was occupied by a stranger—what cared she for the blinding shimmer of a crown? Ah, it troubled her not that she was poor, and possessed not even the means of bestowing presents upon her favorites and friends. But she felt happy in her poverty, for she was free to love whom she would, to raise to herself whomsoever she might please.