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the same time colouring still more deeply, “whatever

source:iostime:2023-11-30 00:02:58

To these external phenomena I will at present only add this internal one: That an old Brother Officer of Warkotsch's, a Colonel Wallis, with Hussars, is now lying at Heinrichau,--say, 10 miles from Strehlen, and about 10 from Schonbrunn too, or a mile more if you take the Siebenhuben way; and that all these missives, through Curatus Schmidt, are for Wallis the Hussar Colonel, and must be a secret not from Madam alone! How a Baron, hitherto of honor, could all at once become TURPISSIMUS, the Superlative of Scoundrels? This is even the reason,--the prize is so superlative.

the same time colouring still more deeply, “whatever

"MONDAY NIGHT, NOVEMBER 30th, 1761 [night bitter cold], Kappel finds himself sitting mounted, and holding Master's horse, in Strehlen, more exactly in Woiselwitz, a suburb of Strehlen, near the King's door,--Majesty's travelling-coach drawn out there, symbol that Strehlen is ending, general departure towards Breslau now nigh. Not to Kappel's sorrow perhaps, waiting in the cold there. Kappel waits, hour after hour; Master taking his ease with the King's people, regardless of the horses and me, in this shivery weather;--and one must not walk about either, for disturbing the King's sleep! Not till midnight does Master emerge, and the freezing Kappel and quadrupeds get under way. Under way, Master breaks out into singular talk about the King's lodging: Was ever anything so careless; nothing but two sentries in the King's anteroom; thirteen all the soldiers that are in Woiselwitz; Strehlen not available in less than twenty minutes: nothing but woods, haggly glens and hills, all on to Heinrichau: How easy to snatch off his Majesty! "UM GOTTES WILLEN, my Lord, don't speak so: think if a patrolling Prussian were to hear it, in the dark!" Pooh, pooh, answers the Herr Baron.

the same time colouring still more deeply, “whatever

"At Schonbrunn, in the short hours, Kappel finds Frau Kappel in state of unappeasable curiosity: 'What can it be? Curatus Schmidt was here all afternoon; much in haste to see Master; had to go at last,--for the Church-service, this St. Andrew's Eve. And only think, though he sat with My Lady hours and hours, he left this Letter with ME: "Give it to your Husband, for my Lord, the instant they come; and say I must have an Answer to-morrow morning at 7." Left it with me, not with My Lady;--My Lady not to know of it!' 'Tush, woman!' But Frau Kappel has been, herself, unappeasably running about, ever since she got this Letter; has applied to two fellow-servants, one after the other, who can read writing, 'Break it up, will you!' But they would not. Practical Kappel takes the Letter up to Master's room; delivers it, with the Message. 'What, Curatus Schmidt!' interrupts My Lady, who was sitting there: 'Herr Good-man, what is that?' 'That is a Letter to me,' answers the Good-man: 'What have you to do with it?' Upon which My Lady flounces out in a huff, and the Herr Baron sets about writing his Answer, whatever it may be.

the same time colouring still more deeply, “whatever

"Kappel and Frau are gone to bed, Frau still eloquent upon the mystery of Curatus Schmidt, when his Lordship taps at their door; enters in the dark: 'This is for the Curatus, at 7 o'clock to-morrow; I leave it on the table here: be in time, like a good Kappel!' Kappel promises his Unappeasable that he will actually open this Piece before delivery of it; upon which she appeases herself, and they both fall asleep. Kappel is on foot betimes next morning. Kappel quietly pockets his Letter; still more quietly, from a neighboring room, pockets his Master's big Seal (PETSCHAFT), with a view to resealing: he then steps out; giving his BURSCH [Apprentice or Under-Groom] order to be ready in so many minutes, 'You and these two horses' (specific for speed); and, in the interim, walks over, with Letter and PETSCHAFT, to the Reverend Herr Gerlach's, for some preliminary business. Kappel is Catholic; Warkotsch, Protestant; Herr Gerlach is Protestant preacher in the Village of Schonbrunn,--much hated by Warkotsch, whose standing order is: 'Don't go near that insolent fellow;' but known by Kappel to be a just man, faithful in difficulties of the weak against the strong. Gerlach, not yet out of bed, listens to the awful story: reads the horrid missive; Warkotsch to Colonel Wallis: 'You can seize the King, living or dead, this night!'--hesitates about copying it (as Kappel wishes, for a good purpose]; but is encouraged by his Wife, and soon writes a Copy. This Copy Kappel sticks into the old cover, seals as usual; and, with the Original safe in his own pocket, returns to the stables now. His Bursch and he mount; after a little, he orders his Bursch: 'Bursch, ride you to Siebenhuben and Curatus Schmidt, with this sealed Letter; YOU, and say nothing. I was to have gone myself, but cannot; be speedy, be discreet!' And the Bursch dashes off for Siebenhuben with the sealed Copy, for Schmidt, Warkotsch, Wallis and Company's behoof; Kappel riding, at a still better pace, to Strehlen with the Original, for behoof of the King's Majesty.

"At Strehlen, King's Majesty not yet visible, Kappel has great difficulties in the anteroom among the sentry people. But he persists, insists: 'Read my Letter, then!' which they dare not do; which only Colonel Krusemark, the Adjutant, perhaps dare. They take him to Krusemark. Krusemark reads, all aghast; locks up Kappel; runs to the King; returns, muffles Kappel in soldier's cloak and cap, and leads him in. The King, looking into Kappel's face, into Kappel's clear story and the Warkotsch handwriting, needed only a few questions; and the fit orders, as to Warkotsch and Company, were soon given: dangerous engineers now fallen harmless, blown up by their own petard. One of the King's first questions was: 'But how have I offended Warkotsch?' Kappel does not know; Master is of strict wilful turn;--Master would grumble and growl sometimes about the peasant people, and how a nobleman has now no power over them, in comparison. 'Are you a Protestant?' 'No, your Majesty, Catholic.' 'See, IHR HERREN,' said the King to those about him; 'Warkotsch is a Protestant; his Curatus Schmidt is a Catholic; and this man is a Catholic: there are villains and honest people in every creed!'

"At noon, that day, Warkotsch had sat down to dinner, comfortably in his dressing-gown, nobody but the good Baroness there; when Rittmeister Rabenau suddenly descended on the Schloss and dining-room with dragoons: 'In arrest, Herr Baron; I am sorry you must go with me to Brieg!' Warkotsch, a strategic fellow, kept countenance to Wife and Rittmeister, in this sudden fall of the thunder-bolt: 'Yes, Herr Rittmeister; it is that mass of Corn I was to furnish [showing him an actual order of that kind], and I am behind my time with it! Nobody can help his luck. Take a bit of dinner with us, anyway!' Rittmeister refused; but the Baroness too pressed him; he at length sat down. Warkotsch went 'to dress;' first of all, to give orders about his best horse; but was shocked to find that the dragoons were a hundred, and that every outgate was beset. Returning half-dressed, with an air of baffled hospitality: 'Herr Rittmeister, our Schloss must not be disgraced; here are your brave fellows waiting, and nothing of refreshment ready for them. I have given order at the Tavern in the Village; send them down; there they shall drink better luck to me, and have a bit of bread and cheese.' Stupid Rabenau again consents:--and in few minutes more, Warkotsch is in the Woods, galloping like Epsom, towards Wallis; and Rabenau can only arrest Madam (who knows nothing), and return in a baffled state.

"Schmidt too got away. The party sent after Schmidt found him in the little Town of Nimptsch, half-way home again from his Wallis errand; comfortably dining with some innocent hospitable people there. Schmidt could not conceal his confusion; but pleading piteously a necessity of nature, was with difficulty admitted to the--to the ABTRITT so called; and there, by some long pole or rake-handle, vanished wholly through a never-imagined aperture, and was no more heard of in the upper world. The Prussian soldiery does not seem expert in thief-taking.

"Warkotsch came back about midnight that same Tuesday, 500 Wallis Hussars escorting him; and took away his ready moneys, near 5,000 pounds in gold, reports Frau Kappel, who witnessed the ghastly operation (Hussars in great terror, in haste, and unconscionably greedy as to sharing);--after which our next news of him, the last of any clear authenticity, is this Note to his poor Wife, which was read in the Law Procedures on him six months hence: 'My Child (MEIN KIND),--The accursed thought I took up against my King has overwhelmed me in boundless misery. From the top of the highest hill I cannot see the limits of it. Farewell; I am in the farthest border of Turkey.--WARKOTSCH.'" [Kuster, Lebens-Rettungen, p. 88: Kuster, pp. 65-188 (for the general Narrative); Tempelhof, v. 346, &c. &c.]