Begging forgiveness and mercy, he dropped his sword and fell upon his knees. The Russian slave was awakened in him, and he bent before the one who had the power to command.
Unobstructed, retained by no one, Elizabeth and her followers now strode through the corridor leading to the private apartments of the regent. Sentinels were placed at every door, with strict commands to strike down any one who should dare to oppose them.
In this manner they reached the anteroom of the regent’s chamber.
Elizabeth had not the courage to go any farther. She hesitatingly stopped. A deep shame and repentance came over her when she thought of the noble confidence Anna had shown, and which she was now on the point of repaying with the blackest treason.
Lestocq, whose sharp, observing glances constantly rested upon her, divined her thoughts and the cause of her irresolution. He privately whispered some words to Grunstein, who, with thirty grenadiers, immediately approached the door of Anna’s sleeping-room.
With a single push the door was forced, and with a wild cry the soldiers rushed to the couch upon which Anna Leopoldowna was reposing.
With a cry of anguish Anna springs up from her slumber, and shudderingly stares at the soldiers by whom she is encompassed, who, with rough voices, command her to rise and follow them. They scarcely give her time to put on a robe, and encase her little feet in shoes.
But Anna has become perfectly calm and self-possessed. She knows she is lost, and, too proud to weep or complain, she finds in herself courage to be tranquil.
“I beg only to be allowed to speak to Elizabeth,” said she, aloud. “I will do all you command me. I will follow you wherever you wish, only let me first see your empress, Elizabeth.”
Elizabeth, leaning against the door-post, had heard these words; yielding to an involuntary impulse of her heart, she pushed open the door and appeared upon the threshold of Anna Leopoldowna’s chamber.
On perceiving her, a faint smile passed over Anna’s features.
“Ah, come you thus to me, Elizabeth?” she said, reproachfully, with a proud glance at the princess.
Elizabeth could not support that glance. She cast down her eyes, and again Anna Leopoldowna smiled. She was conquered, but before her, blushing with shame, stood her momentarily subdued conqueror. But Anna now remembered her son, and, folding her hands, she said, in an imploring tone:
“Elizabeth, kill not my son! Have compassion upon him!”
Elizabeth turned away with a shudder, she felt her heart rent, she had not strength for an answer.
Lestocq beckoned the soldiers, and commanded them to remove the traitress, Anna Leopoldowna.
Thirty warriors took possession of the regent, who calmly and proudly submitted herself to them and suffered herself to be led away.
In the corridor they encountered another troop of soldiers, who were escorting the regent’s husband, Prince Ulrich of Brunswick, and Anna’s favorite, Julia von Mengden.