Again and again the fanfares resounded without. Anna, weeping, tore herself from the arms of Julia. She had in vain implored the favor of taking Julia von Mengden with her. Elizabeth had refused it, and, in this refusal, she had pronounced the sentence of the favorite—this was understood by both Julia and Anna.
They held each other in a last embrace. Anna wept hot tears, but Julia remained calm, and even smiled.
“They may send me to Siberia, if they please, my heart will remain warm under the coldness of the Siberian climate, and this great happiness of knowing that you and yours are saved they cannot rend from me; that will be for me a talisman against all misfortunes!”
“But I,” sadly responded Anna—“shall I not always be tortured by the reflection that it is I who have been the cause of your misfortunes? Are you not condemned because you loved and were true to me? Ah, does love, then, deserve so hard a punishment?”
“The punishment passes, but love remains,” calmly responded Julia. “That will always be my consolation.”
“And mine also,” sighed Anna.
“You will not need it,” said Julia, with a smile. “You, at least, will be happy.”
Anna sighed again, and her cheek paled. A dark and terrible image arose in her soul, and she shudderingly whispered:
“Ah, would that we were once beyond the Russian boundary, for then, first, shall we be free.”
“Then let us hasten our journey,” said Prince Ulrich; “once in the sledge, and every minute brings us nearer to freedom and happiness. Only hear how the horns are calling us, Anna—they call us to Germany! Come, take your son, wrap him close in your furred mantle, and let us hasten away—away from here!” The prince laid little Ivan in the arms of his wife, and drew her away with him.
“Farewell, farewell, my Julia!” cried Anna, as she took he seat in the sledge.
“Farewell!” was echoed as a low spirit-breath from the palace.
Shuddering, Anna pressed her child to her bosom, and cast an anxiously interrogating glance at her husband, who was sitting by her.
“Be calm, tranquillize yourself—it will all be well,” said the latter, with a smile.
The postilion blew his horn—the horses started; gayly resounded the tones of the silver bells; with a light whizzing, away flew the sledge over the snow. It bore thence a dethroned emperor and his overthrown family!
Rapidly did this richly-laden sledge pass through the streets, but, following it, was a troop of armed, grim-looking soldiers, like unwholesome ravens following their certain booty.
At about the same hour, another armed troop passed through the streets of St. Petersburg. With drawn swords they surrounded two closely-covered sledges, the mysterious occupants of which no one was allowed to descry! The train made a halt at the same gate through which the overthrown imperial family had just passed. The soldiers surrounded the sledges in close ranks; no one was allowed a glimpse at those who alighted from them.