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The daughter of an empress


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Title:TheDaughterofanEmpress
Author:LouiseMuhlbach
ReleaseDate:March25,2006[EBook#2132]
LastUpdated:October14,2016
Language:English

***STARTOFTHISPROJECTGUTENBERGEBOOKTHEDAUGHTEROFANEMPRESS***

ProducedbyDagny;JohnBickersandDavidWidger


THEDAUGHTEROFAN
EMPRESS



ByLouiseMuhlbach

CONTENTS
THEDAUGHTEROFANEMPRESS
COUNTESSNATALIEDOLGORUCKI
COUNTMUNNICH
COUNTOSTERMANN
THENIGHTOFTHECONSPIRACY
HOPESDECEIVED
THEREGENTANNALEOPOLDOWNA
THEFAVORITE
NOLOVE
PRINCESSELIZABETH
ACONSPIRACY
THEWARNING
THECOURTBALL
THEPENCIL-SKETCH
THEREVOLUTION


THESLEEPOFINNOCENCE
THERECOMPENSING
PUNISHMENT
THEPALACEOFTHEEMPRESS
ELEONORELAPUSCHKIN
AWEDDING
SCENESANDPORTRAITS
PRINCESALSOMUSTDIE
THECHARMEDGARDEN
THELETTERS
DIPLOMATICQUARRELS
THEFISHFEUD
POPEGANGANELLI(CLEMENTXIV)
THEPOPE’SRECREATIONHOUR
ADEATH-SENTENCE
THEFESTIVALOFCARDINALBERNIS
THEIMPROVISATRICE
THEDEPARTURE
ANHONESTBETRAYER


ALEXISORLOFF
CORILLA
THEHOLYCHAFFERERS
SICTRANSITGLORIAMUNDI
THEVAPO


THEINVASION
INTRIGUES
THEDOOMINGLETTER
THERUSSIANOFFICER
ANTICIPATION
HE!
THEWARNING
THERUSSIANFLEET
CONCLUSION


THEDAUGHTEROFAN
EMPRESS


COUNTESSNATALIEDOLGORUCKI
“No, Natalie, weep no more! Quick, dry your tears. Let not my executioner
seethatwecanfeelpainorweepforsorrow!”
Dryinghertears,sheattemptedasmile,butitwasanunnatural,painfulsmile.
“Ivan,”saidshe,“wewillforget,forgetall,exceptingthatweloveeachother,
andthusonlycanIbecomecheerful.Andtellme,Ivan,haveInotalwaysbeen
in good spirits? Have not these long eight years in Siberia passed away like a
pleasantsummerday?Havenotourheartsremainedwarm,andhasnotourlove
continuedundisturbedbytheinclementSiberiancold?Youmay,therefore,well
seethatIhavethecouragetobearallthatcanbeborne.Butyou,mybeloved,
youmyhusband,toseeyoudie,withoutbeingabletosaveyou,withoutbeing
permittedtodiewithyou,isacruelandunnaturalsacrifice!Ivan,letmeweep;
let your murderer see that I yet have tears. Oh, my God, I have no longer any
pride,I am nothingbutapoorheart-brokenwoman!Yourwidow,Iweep over
theyetlivingcorpseofmyhusband!”Withconvulsivesobsthetremblingyoung
wifefelluponherkneesandwithfranticgriefclungtoherhusband’sfeet.
CountIvanDolgoruckinolongfelttheabilitytostandalooffromhersorrow.
Hebentdowntohiswife,raisedherinhisarms,andwithherheweptforhis
youth, his lost life, the vanishing happiness of his love, and the shame of his
fatherhood.
“Ishouldjoyfullygotomydeath,wereitforthebenefitofmycountry,”said
he. “But to fall a sacrifice to a cabal, to the jealousy of an insidious, knavish
favorite, is what makes the death-hour fearful. Ah, I die for naught, I die that
Munnich, Ostermann, and Biron may remain securely in power. It is horrible
thustodie!”
Natalie’s eyes flashed with a fanatic glow. “You die,” said she, “and I shall
live,willlive,toseehowGodwillavengeyouupontheseevil-doers.Iwilllive,
thatImayconstantlythinkofyou,andineveryhourofthedayaddresstoGod
myprayersforvengeanceandretribution!”
“Liveandprayforourfatherland!”saidIvan.
“No,” sheangrilycried,“ratherletGod’scurserestuponthisRussia,which
deliversoveritsnoblestmentotheexecutioner,andraisesitsignoblestwomen
tothethrone.NoblessingforRussia,whichiscursedinallgenerationsandfor


all time—no blessing for Russia, whose bloodthirsty czarina permits the
slaughterofthenobleIvanandhisbrothers!”
“Ah,”saidIvan,“howbeautifulyouarenow—howflashyoureyes,andhow
radiantlyglowyourcheeks!Wouldthatmyexecutionerwerenowcome,thathe
mightseeinyoutheheroine,Natalie,andnotthesorrow-strickenwoman!”
“Ah,yourprayerisgranted;hearyounottherattlingofthebolts,therollof
thedrum?Theyarecoming,Ivan,theyarecoming!”
“Farewell,Natalie—farewell,forever!”
And,mutuallyembracing,theytookonelast,longkiss,butweptnot.
“Hearme,Natalie!whentheybindmeuponthewheel,weepnot.Beresolute,
mywife,andpraythattheirtormentsmaynotrendermeweak,andthatnocry
mayescapemylips!”
“Iwillpray,Ivan.”
Inhalfanhourallwasover.ThenobleandvirtuousCountIvanDolgorucki
had been broken upon the wheel, and three of his brothers beheaded, and for
what?—Because Count Munnich, fearing that the noble and respected brothers
Dolgorucki might dispossess him of his usurped power, had persuaded the
Czarina Anna that they were plotting her overthrow for the purpose of raising
KatharinaIvanovnatotheimperialthrone.Noprooforconvictionwasrequired;
Munnichhadsaidit,andthatsufficed;theDolgoruckiswereannihilated!
ButNatalieDolgoruckistilllived,andfromthebloodysceneofherhusband’s
execution she repaired to Kiew. There would she live in the cloister of the
Penitents, preserving the memory of the being she loved, and imploring the
vengeanceofHeavenuponhismurderers!
It was in the twilight of a clear summer night when Natalie reached the
cloister in which she was on the next day to take the vows and exchange her
ordinarydressfortherobeofhair-clothandthenun’sveil.
Foamingrushedthe Dnieper withinitssteep banks,hissingbrokethe waves
upon the gigantic boulders, and in the air was heard the sound as of howling
thunderandaroaringstorm.
“I will take my leave of nature and of the world,” murmured Natalie,
motioningherattendantstoremainatadistance,andwithfirmfeetclimbingthe
steeprockybankoftherushingDnieper.Upontheirkneesherservantsprayed
below, glancing up to the rock upon which they saw the tall form of their
mistress in the moonlight, which surrounded it with a halo; the stars laid a
radiantcrownuponherpurebrow,andherlocks,floatinginthewind,resembled


wings; to her servants she seemed an angel borne upon air and light and love
upward to her heavenly home! Natalie stood there tranquil and tearless. The
thoughtful glances of her large eyes swept over the whole surrounding region.
She took leave of the world, of the trees and flowers, of the heavens and the
earth.Below,atherfeet,laythecloister,andNatalie,stretchingforthherarms
toward it, exclaimed: “That is my grave! Happy, blessed Ivan, thou diedst ere
beingcoffined;butIshallbecoffinedwhileyetalive!Istandherebythytomb,
mineIvan.TheyhavebeddedthynobleforminthecoldwavesoftheDnieper,
whoserushingandroaringwasthyfuneralknell,mineIvan!Ishalldwellbythy
grave,andinthedeathlikestillnessofmycellshallhearthetonesofthesolemn
hymn with which the impetuous stream will rock thee to thine eternal rest!
Receive,then,ye sacredwaves of theDnieper,receivethou,mineIvan,in thy
coldgrave,thywife’svowoffidelitytothee.AgainwillIespousethee—inlife
asindeath,amIthine!”
And drawing from her finger the wedding-ring which her beloved husband
hadonceplaceduponit,shethrewitintothefoamingwaves.
Bendingdown,shesawtheringsinkinginthewatersandmurmured:“Igreet
thee,Ivan,Igreetthee!Takemyring—foreveramIthine!”
Then, rising proudly up, and stretching forth her arms toward heaven, she
exclaimedaloud:“InowgotopraythatGodmaysendtheevengeance.Woeto
Russia, woe!” and the stream with its boisterous waves howled and thundered
afterherthewords:“WoetoRussia,woe!”


COUNTMUNNICH
The Empress Anna was dead, and—an unheard-of case in Russian imperial
history—she had even died a natural death. Again was the Russian imperial
thronevacated!Whoistheretomountit?whomhastheempressnamedasher
successor?Noonedaredtospeakofit;thequestionwasreadinalleyes,butno
lipsventuredtoopenfortheutteranceofananswer,aseveryconjecture,every
expression, if unfounded and unfulfilled, would be construed into the crime of
high-treasonassoonasanotherthantheonethusindicatedshouldbecalledto
thethrone!
Who will obtain that throne? So asked each man in his heart. The courtiers
andgreatmenoftherealmaskeditwithshudderinganddespair.For,towhom
should they now go to pay their homage and thus recommend themselves to
favor in advance? Should they go to Biron, the Duke of Courland? Was it not
possible that the dying empress had chosen him, her warmly-beloved favorite,
herdarlingminion,ashersuccessortothethroneofalltheRussias?Buthowif
she had not done so? If, instead, she had chosen her niece, the wife of Prince
AntonUlrich,ofBrunswick, ashersuccessor?Orwasitnotalsopossiblethat
shehaddeclaredthePrincessElizabeth,thedaughterofCzarPetertheGreat,as
empress?Thelatter,indeed,hadthegreatest,themostincontestablerighttothe
imperialthroneofRussia;wasshenotthesolelawfulheirofherfather?How,if
onetherefore wentto herandcongratulatedherasempress?Butifoneshould
makeamistake,howthen?
Thecourtiers,asbeforesaid,shudderedandhesitated,and,inordertoavoid
makingamistake,didnothingatall.Theyremainedintheirpalaces,ostensibly
givingthemselvesuptodeepmourningforthedeceaseofthebelovedczarina,
whomeveryoneofthemsecretlyhatedsolongasshewasyetalive.
There were but afewwhowerenotinuncertaintyrespectingtheimmediate
future,andconspicuousamongthatfewwasField-MarshalCountMunnich.
Whileallhesitatedandwaveredinanxiousdoubt,Munnichalonewascalm.
Heknewwhatwascoming,becausehehadhadahandinshapingtheevent.
“Oh,”saidhe,whilewalkinghisroomwithfoldedarms,“wehaveatlength
attained the object of our wishes, and this bright emblem for which I have so
longstrivenwillnowfinallybecomemine.Ishallbetherulerofthisland,andin
the unrestricted exercise of royal power I shall behold these millions of venal


slavesgrovellingatmyfeet,andwhimperingforaglanceorasmile.Ah,how
sweetisthisgoverningpower!
“But,” he then continued, with a darkened brow, “what is the good of being
therulerifIcannotbearthenameofruler?—whatisittogovern,ifanotheristo
bepubliclyrecognizedasregentandreceivehomageassuch?Thekernelofthis
glorywillbemine,buttheshell,—Ialsolanguishfortheshell.Butno,thisisnot
the time for such thoughts, now, when the circumstances demand a cheerful
mienandeveryoutwardindicationofsatisfaction!Mytimewillalsocome,and,
whenitcomes,theshellaswellasthekernelshallbemine!Butthisisthehour
forwaitingupontheDukeofCourland!Ishallbethefirsttowishhimjoy,and
shallatthesametimeremindhimthathehasgivenmehisducalwordthathe
willgrantthefirstrequestIshallmaketohimasregent.Well,well,Iwillask
now,thatImayhereaftercommand.”
The field-marshal ordered his carriage and proceeded to the palace of the
DukeofCourland.
Adeathlikestillnessprevailedinthestreetsthroughwhichherode.Onevery
handweretobeseenonlycurtainedwindowsandclosedpalaces;itseemedasif
thisusuallysobrilliantandnoisyquarterofSt.Petersburghadsuddenlybecome
deserted and desolate. The usual equipages, with their gold and silver-laced
attendants,werenowheretobeseen.
Thecount’scarriagethunderedthroughthedesertedstreets,butwhereverhe
passed curious faces were seen peeping from the curtained windows of the
palaces;alldoorswerehastilyopenedbehindhim,andhewasfollowedbythe
runners of the counts and princes, charged with the duty of espying his
movements.
CountMunnichsawallthat,andsmiled.
“Ihavenowgiventhemthesignal,”saidhe,“andthisservileRussiannobility
willrushhither,likefawninghounds,tobowbeforeanewidolandpayittheir
venalhomage.”
ThecarriagenowstoppedbeforethepalaceoftheDukeofCourland,andwith
an humble and reverential mien Munnich ascended the stairs to the brilliant
apartmentsofBiron.
Hefoundthedukealone;absorbedinthought,hewasstandingatthewindow
lookingdownintostreetswhichwerehenceforthtobesubjectedtohissway.
“Yourhighnessissurveyingyourrealm,”saidMunnich,withasmile.“Wait
butalittle,andyouwillsoonseeallthegreatnobilityflockingheretopayyou
homage. My carriage stops before your door, and these sharp-scenting hounds


nowknowwhichwaytoturnwiththeirabjectadoration.”
“Ah,”sadlyrespondedBiron,“Idreadthecominghour.Ihaveamisfortuneprophesyingheart, andthisnight,inadream,Isawmyselfinamiserablehut,
coveredwithbeggarlyrags,shiveringwithcoldandfaintingwithhunger!”
“That dream indicated prosperity and happiness, your highness,” laughingly
respondedMunnich,“fordreamsarealwaysinterpretedbycontraries.Yousaw
yourself as a beggar because you were to become our ruler—because a purple
mantlewillthisdaybeplaceduponyourshoulders.”
“Bloodalsoispurple,”gloomilyremarkedtheduke,“andasharpponiardmay
alsoconvertabeggar’sblouseintoapurplemantle!Oh,myfriend,wouldthatI
hadneverbecomewhatIam!Onesleepsillwhenonemustconstantlywatchhis
happinesslestitescapehim.Andthinkofit,myfortunesaredependentuponthe
eyesofachild,anurseling,thatwithitsmother’smilkimbibeshatredtome,and
whosefirstuseofspeechwillbe,perhaps,tocurseme!”
“Then it must be your task to teach the young emperor Ivan to speak,”
exclaimedMunnich—“inthatcasehewilllearntoblessyou.”
“I shall not be able to snatch him from his parents,” said Biron. “But those
parentscertainlyhateme,andindeedverynaturally,asthey,itseems,were,next
to me, designated as the guardians of their son Ivan. The Duchess Anna
LeopoldownaofBrunswickisambitious.”
“Bah!forthepresentsheisinlove,”exclaimedMunnich,withalaugh,“and
women, when in love, think of nothing but their love. But only look, your
highness, did I not prophesy correctly? Only see the numerous equipages now
stoppingbeforeyourdoor!Thestreetwillsoonbetoonarrowtocontainthem.”
And in the street below was really to be seen the rapid arrival of a great
number of the most splendid equipages, from which alighted beautiful and
richly-dressed women, whose male companions were covered with orders, and
whowereallhasteningintothepalace.Therewasapressingandpushingwhich
produced the greatest possible confusion. Every one wished to be the first to
congratulatethenewruler,andtoassurehimoftheirunboundeddevotion.
Theduke’shallsweresoonfilledwithRussianmagnates,andwhenatlength
the duke himself made his appearance among them, he everywhere saw only
happy,beamingfaces,andencounteredonlyglancesofloveandadmiration.The
warmestwishesofallthesehundredsseemedtohavebeenfulfilled,andBiron
waspreciselythemanwhomallhaddesiredfortheiremperor.
And,standinginthecentreofthesehalls,theyreadtoBironthetestamentof
the deceased Empress Anna: that testament designated Ivan, the son of the


Duchess Anna Leopoldowna and Prince Ulrich of Brunswick, as emperor, and
him, Duke Biron of Courland, as absolute regent of the empire during the
minorityoftheemperor,whohadnowjustreachedtheageofsevenmonths.The
joy of the magnates was indescribable; they sank into each other’s arms with
tearsofjoy.Atthismomentoldenemieswerereconciled;womenwhohadlong
nourishedamutualhatred,nowtenderlypressedeachother’shands;tearsofjoy
were trembling in eyes which had never before been known to weep; friendly
smiles were seen on lips which had usually been curled with anger; and every
oneextolledwithecstasythehappinessofRussia,andhumblybowedbeforethe
newsunnowrisingoverthatblessedrealm.
Withtheutmostenthusiasmtheyalltooktheoathoffidelitytothenewruler,
and then hastened to the palace of the Prince of Brunswick, there with the
humblestsubjectiontokissthedelicatelittlehandofthechild-emperorIvan.
Munnich was again alone with the duke, who, forgetting all his ill-boding
dreams,nowgavehimselfuptotheproudfeelingofhisgreatnessandpower.
“Letthemallgo,”saidhe,“thesemagnates,tokissthehandofthisemperorof
seven months, and wallow in the dust before the cradle of a whimpering
nurseling!Ishallneverthelessbetherealemperor,andbothsceptreandcrown
willremaininmyhands!”
“But in your greatness and splendor you will not forget your faithful and
devotedfriends,”saidMunnich;“yourhighnesswillrememberthatitwasIwho
chieflyinducedtheempresstonameyouasregentduringtheminorityofIvan,
and that you gave me your word of honor that you would grant me the first
requestIshouldmaketoyou.”
“Iknow,Iknow,”saidBiron,withaslysmile,thoughtfullypacingtheroom
with his hands behind his back. But, suddenly stopping, he remained standing
before Munnich, and, looking him sharply in the eye, said: “Shall I for once
interpretyourthoughts,Field-MarshalCountMunnich?ShallIforoncetellyou
whyyouusedallyourinfluencetodecidetheEmpressAnnatonamemeforthe
regency?Ah,you hada sharpeye,asureglance,and consequently discovered
that Anna had long since resolved in her heart to name me for the regency,
beforeyouundertooktoconfirmherinthisresolvebyyoursagecounsels.But
yousaidtoyourself:‘ThisgoodempresslovestheDukeofCourland;henceshe
willundoubtedlydesiretorenderhimgreatandhappyinspiteofallopposition,
andifIaidinthisbymyadviceIshallbindbothpartiestomyself;theempress,
byappearingtobedevotedtoherfavorite,andthefavorite,byaidinghiminthe
accomplishmentofhisambitiousplans.Ishallthereforesecuremyownposition,
both for the present and future!’ Confess to me, field-marshal, that these were


yourthoughtsandcalculations.”
“Theregent,SirDukeofCourland,hasagreatknowledgeofhumannature,
and hence I dare not contradict him,” said Munnich, with a constrained laugh.
“Your highness therefore recognizes the service that I, from whatever motive,
haverenderedyou,andhenceyouwillnotrefusetograntmyrequest.”
“Let me hear it,” said the duke, stretching himself out on a divan, and
negligentlyplayingwithaportraitoftheEmpressAnna,splendidlyornamented
withbrilliants,andsuspendedfromhisneckbyaheavygoldchain.
“Namemegeneralissimoofallthetroops,”saidMunnich,withsolemnity.
“Ofallthetroops?”askedBiron.“Includingthoseonthewater,oronlythose
onland?”
“Thetroopsonthewateraswellasthoseonland.”
“Ah,thatmeans,Iamtogiveyouunlimitedpower,andthusplaceyouatthe
head of all affairs!” Then, suddenly rising from his reclining position, and
striding directly to Munnich, the duke threateningly said: “In my first
observationIforgottointerpretafewofyourthoughtsandplans.Iwillnowtell
you why you wished for my appointment as regent. You desired it for the
advancement of your own ambitious plans. You knew Biron as an effeminate,
yielding, pleasure-seeking favorite of the empress—you saw him devoted only
toamusementandenjoyment,andyousaidtoyourself:‘ThatisthemanIneed.
AsIcannotmyselfbemaderegent,letitbehim!Iwillgovernthroughhim;and
whilethisvoluptuousdevoteeofpleasuregiveshimselfuptotheintoxicationof
enjoyments, I will rule in his stead.’ Well, Mr. Field-Marshal, were not those
yourthoughts!”
Munnich had turned very pale while the duke was thus speaking, and a
sombreinquietudewasdepictedonhisfeatures.
“Iknownot,”hestammered,withembarrassment.
“ButIknow!”thunderedtheduke,“andinyourterror-struckfaceIreadthe
confirmationofwhatIhavesaid.Lookintheglass,sircount,andyouwillmake
nofurtherattemptatdenial.”
“But the question here is not about what I might have once thought, but of
what you promised me. Your highness, I have made my first request! It is for
youtograntit.Iimploreyouronthestrengthofyourducalwordtonamemeas
thegeneralissimoofyourtroops!”
“No,never!”exclaimedtheduke.
“Yougavemeyourword!”


“IgaveitasDukeofCourland!Theregentisnotboundbythepromiseofthe
duke.”
“Imadeyouregent!”
“AndIdonotmakeyougeneralissimo!”
“Youforfeityourwordofhonor?”
“No, ask something else, and I will grant it. But this is not feasible. I must
myself be the generalissimo of my own troops, or I should no longer be the
ruler!Ask,therefore,forsomethingelse.”
Munnich was silent. His features indicated a frightful commotion, and his
bosomheavedviolently.
“Ihavenothingfurthertoask,”saidhe,afterapause.
“But, I will confer upon you a favor without your asking it!” proudly
responded the duke. “Count Munnich, I confirm you in your offices and
dignities,and,toprovetoyoumyunlimitedconfidence,youshallcontinuetobe
whatyouwereundertheEmpressAnna,field-marshalintheRussianarmy!”
“Ithankyou,sirduke,”calmlyrepliedMunnich.“Itisverynobleinyouthat
youdonotsendmeintobanishmentformypresumptuousdemand.”
Claspingtheofferedhandoftheduke,herespectfullypressedittohislips.
“And now go, to kiss the hand of the young emperor, that you may not be
accused of disrespect,” smilingly added Biron; “one must always preserve
appearances.”
Munnichsilentlybowed,whilewalkingbackwardtowardthedoor.
“Wepartasfriends?”askedtheduke,noddinganadieu.
“Asfriendsforlifeanddeath!”saidMunnich,withasmile.
Butnosoonerhadthedoorclosedbehindhimthanthesmilevanishedfrom
hisfeatures,andwasreplacedbyanexpressionoffuriousrage.Hethreateningly
shook his fist toward the door which separated him from the duke, and with
convulsively compressed lips and grating teeth he said: “Yes, we now part as
friends,butweshallyetmeetasenemies!Ishallrememberthishour,sirduke,
andshalldomybesttopreventyourforgettingit.Ah,youhavenotsentmeto
Siberia, but I will send you there! And now to the Emperor Ivan. I shall there
meet his parents, the shamefully-slighted Ulrich of Brunswick, and his wife
AnnaLeopoldowna.Ithinktheywillwelcomeme.”
Withafirmstep,rageandvengeanceinhisheart,butoutwardlysmilingand
submissive, Field-Marshal Count Munnich betook himself to the palace of the


DukeofBrunswicktokissthehandofthecradledEmperorIvan.


COUNTOSTERMANN
Four weeks had passed since Biron, Duke of Courland, had commenced his
ruleoverRussia,asregent,inthenameoftheinfantEmperorIvan.TheRussian
people had with indifference submitted to this new ruler, and manifested the
same subjection to him as to his predecessor. It was all the same to them
whoever sat in godlike splendor upon the magnificent imperial throne—what
carethatmassofdegradedslaves,whoarecrawlinginthedust,forthenameby
which their tyrants are called? They remain what they are, slaves; and the one
uponthethroneremainswhatheis,theirabsolutelordandtyrant,whohasthe
right to-day to scourge them with whips, to-morrow to make them barons and
counts,andperhapsthenextdaytosendthemtoSiberia,orsubjectthemtothe
inflictionofthefatalknout.Whoeverproclaimshimselfemperorordictator,is
greeted by the Russian people, that horde of creeping slaves, as their lord and
master,thesupremedisposeroflifeanddeath,whiletheycrawlinthedustathis
feet.
They had sworn allegiance to the Regent Biron, as they had to the Empress
Anna; they threw themselves upon the earth when they met him, they humbly
baredtheirheadswhenpassinghispalace;andwhenthemagnatesoftherealm,
the princes and counts of Russia, in their proud equipages, discovered the
regent’s carriage in the distance, they ordered a halt, descended from their
vehicles, and bowed themselves to the ground before their passing lord. In
Russia,alldistinctionsofrankceaseinthepresenceoftheruler;thereisbutone
lord, and one trembling slave, be he prince or beggar, and that lord must be
obeyed,whetherhecommandsamurderoranyothercrime.Thewordandwill
oftheemperorpurifyandsanctifyeveryact,blessingitandmakingithonorable.
Biron was emperor, although he bore only the name of regent; he had the
powerandthedominion;theinfantnurselingIvan,theminoremperor,wasbuta
shadow,aphantom,havingtheappearancebutnottherealityoflordship;hewas
a thing unworthy of notice; he could make no one tremble with fear, and
thereforeitwasunnecessarytocrawlinthedustbeforehim.
HomagewaspaidtotheRegentBiron,DukeofCourland;thepalaceofPrince
UlrichofBrunswick,andhisson,theEmperorIvan,stoodemptyanddesolate.
Nooneregardedit,andyetperhapsitwasworthyofregard.
Yet many repaired to this quiet, silent palace, to know whom Biron would


perhaps have given princedoms and millions! But no one was there to betray
themtotheregent;theywereverysilentandverycautiousinthepalaceofthe
PrinceofBrunswickandhiswifethePrincessAnnaLeopoldowna.
It was, as we have said, about four weeks after the commencement of the
regency of the Duke of Courland, when a sedan-chair was set down before a
smallbackdooroftheDuchessAnnaLeopoldowna’spalace;ithadbeenborne
and accompanied by four serfs, over whose gold-embroidered liveries, as if to
protectthemfromtheweather,hadbeenlaidatolerablythickcoatofdustand
sweat.Equallysplendid,elegant,anduncleanwasthechairwhichtheservants
nowopenedforthepurposeofaidingtheirage-enfeebledmastertoemergefrom
it. That person, who now made his appearance, was a shrunken, trembling,
coughing old gentleman; his small, bent, distorted form was wrapped in a fur
cloak which, somewhat tattered, permitted a soiled and faded under-dress to
make itself perceptible,giving to theold manthe appearanceofindigence and
slovenliness. Nothing, not even the face, or the thin and meagre hands he
extendedtohisservants,wasneatandcleanly;nothingabouthimshonebuthis
eyes,thosegray,piercingeyeswiththeirfieryside-glancesandtheirnowkind
andnowslyandsubtleexpression.Thisraggedanduntidyoldmanmighthave
beentakenforabeggar,hadnothisdirtyfingersandhisfadedneck-tie,whose
originalcolorwashardlydiscoverable,flashedwithbrilliantsofanunusualsize,
andhadnotthearmsemblazoneduponthedoorofhischair,inspiteofthedust
anddirt,betrayedanoblerank.ThearmswerethoseoftheOstermannfamily,
and this dirty old man in the ragged cloak was Count Ostermann, the famous
Russianstatesman,thesonofaGermanpreacher,whohadmanagedbywisdom,
cunning, and intrigue to continue in place under five successive Russian
emperorsorregents,mostofwhomhadusuallybeenthrustfrompowerbysome
bloody means. Czar Peter, who first appointed him as a minister of state, and
confided to him the department of foreign affairs, on his death-bed said to his
successor,thefirstCatherine,thatOstermannwasthe onlyone whohadnever
made a false step, and recommended him to his wife as a prop to the empire.
CatherineappointedhimimperialchancellorandtutorofPeterII.;heknewhow
to secure and preserve the favor of both, and the successor of Peter II., the
Empress Anna, was glad to retain the services of the celebrated statesman and
diplomatistwhohadsofaithfullyservedherpredecessors.FromAnnahecame
to her favorite, Baron of Courland, who did not venture to remove one whose
talents had gained for him so distinguished a reputation, and who in any case
mightproveaverydangerousenemy.
But with Count Ostermann it had gone as with Count Munnich. Neither of


themhadbeenabletoobtainfromtheregentanythingmorethanaconfirmation
of their offices and dignities, to which Biron, jealous of power, had been
unwilling to make any addition. Deceived in their expectations, vexed at this
frustrationoftheirplans,theyhadbothcometothedeterminationtooverthrow
themanwhowasunwillingtoadvancethem;theyhadbecomeBiron’senemies
because he did not show himself their friend, and, openly devoted to him and
bowinginthedustbeforehim,theyhadsecretlyrepairedtohisbitterestenemy,
theDuchessAnnaLeopoldowna,toofferhertheirservicesagainstthehaughty
regentwhoswayedtheironsceptreofhisdespoticpoweroverRussia.
A decisive conversation was this day to be held with the duchess and her
husband, Prince Ulrich of Brunswick, and therefore, an unheard-of case, had
even Count Ostermann resolved to leave his dusty room for some hours and
repairtothepalaceoftheDuchessAnnaLeopoldowna.
“Slowly,slowly,yeknaves,”groanedOstermann,asheascendedthenarrow
windingstairswiththeaidofhisservants.“Seeyounot,youhounds,thatevery
one of your movements causes me insufferable pain? Ah, a fearful illness is
evidently coming; it is already attacking my limbs, and pierces and agonizes
everypartofmysystem!Letmybedbepreparedathome,youscamps,andhave
a strengthening soup made ready for me. And now away, fellows, and woe to
youif,duringmyabsence,eitheroneofyoushoulddaretobreakintothestoreroomorwine-cellar!YouknowthatIhavegoodeyes,andamcognizantofevery
articleonhand,eventoitsexactweightandmeasure.Takecare,therefore,take
care!forifbutanounceofmeatoraglassofwineismissing,Iwillhaveyou
whipped,youhounds,untilthebloodflows.Thatyoumaydependupon!”
And,dismissinghisassistantswithakick,CountOstermannascendedthelast
stepsofthewindingstairsaloneandunaided.But,beforeopeningthedooratthe
headofthestairs,hetooktimeforreflection.
“Hem!perhapsitwouldhavebeenbetterformetohavebeenalreadytaken
ill, for if this plan should miscarry, and the regent discover that I was in the
palaceto-day,howthen?Ah,IalreadyseemtofeeladraughtofSiberianair!But
no, it will succeed, and how would that ambitious Munnich triumph should it
succeed without me! No, for this time I must be present, to the vexation of
Munnich,thathemaynotputallRussiainhispocket!Thegoodmanhassuch
largepocketsandsuchgraspinghands!”
Noddingandsmilingtohimself,Ostermannopenedthedooroftheanteroom.
A rapid, searching glance satisfied him that he was alone there, but his brow
darkenedwhenheobservedCountMunnich’smantlelyinguponachair.


“Ah,hehasprecededme,”peevishlymurmuredOstermann.“Well,well,we
canaffordoncemoretoyieldtheprecedencetohim.To-dayhe—to-morrowI!
Myturnwillcometo-morrow!”
Quite forgetting his illness and his pretended pains, he rapidly crossed the
spaciousroom,and,throwinghisraggedfurcloakuponMunnich’smantle,said:
“A poor old cloak like this is yet in condition to render that resplendent
uniform invisible. Not a spangle of that magnificent gold embroidery can be
seen, it is all overshadowed by the ragged old cloak which Munnich so much
despises!Oh,thegoodfield-marshalwillrejoicetofindhismantleinsuchgood
company, and I hope my cloak may leave some visible memento upon its
embroidered companion. Well, the field-marshal is a brave man, and I have
givenhimanopportunitytomakeacampaignagainsthisownmantle!Thefool,
whydoeshedislikethesegoodlittleanimals,andwouldyetbeaRussian!”
As, however, he opened the door of the next room, his form again took its
formershrunken,frailappearance,andhisfeaturesagainboretheexpressionof
sufferingandexhaustion.
“Ah, it is you,” said Prince Ulrich, advancing to meet the count, while
Munnich stood near a writing-table, in earnest conversation with Anna
Leopoldowna,towhomheseemedtobeexplainingsomethinguponasheetof
paper.
“Wehavewaitedlongforyou,mydearcount,”continuedtheprince,offering
hishandtothenew-comer,withasmile.
“The old and the sick always have the misfortune to arrive too late,” said
Count Ostermann, “pain and suffering are such hinderances, your grace. And,
moreover, I have only come in obedience to the wishes of your highness, well
knowing that I am superfluous here. What has the feeble old man to do in the
councilsofthestrong?”
“To represent wisdom in council,” said the prince, “and for that, you are
preciselytheman,count.”
“Ah,CountOstermann,”atthismomentinterposedMunnich,“itiswellyou
havecome.YouwillbebestabletotelltheirexcellencieswhetherIamrightor
not.”
“Field-Marshall Munnich is always right,” said Ostermann, with a pleasant
smile.“Iunconditionallysay‘yes’towhateveryoumayhaveproposed,provided
thatitisnotapropositionofwhichmyjudgmentcannotapprove.”
“Thatisaveryconditionalyes!”exclaimedtheduchess,laughing.


“A ‘yes,’ all perforated with little back doors through which a ‘no’ may
convenientlyenter,”laughedtheprince.
“The back doors are in all cases of the greatest importance,” said Count
Ostermann, earnestly. “Through back doors one often attains to the rooms of
state,andhadyourpalacehereaccidentallyhadnobackdoorfortheadmission
of us, your devoted servants, who knows, your highness Anna, whether you
wouldonthisverynightbecomeregent!”
“Onthisnight!”suddenlyexclaimedMunnich.“Yousee,yourhighness,that
CountOstermanniswhollyofmyopinion.Itmustbedonethisnight!”
“Thatwouldbeoverhaste,”criedtheduchess;“wearenotyetprepared!”
“Nor is the regent, Biron of Courland,” thoughtfully interposed Ostermann;
“and,therefore,ouroverhastewouldtakeBironbysurprise.”
“Decidedlymyopinion,”saidMunnich.“Allislostifwegivetheregenttime
and leisure to make his arrangements. If we do not annihilate him to-day, he
may,perhaps,sendustoSiberiato-morrow.”
Theduchessturnedpale;atremblingranthroughhertall,nobleform.
“Isomuchdreadthesheddingofblood!”saidshe.
“Oh,Iamnotatallvain,”saidOstermann.“Ifinditmuchlessunpleasantto
see the blood of others flowing than my own. It may be egotism, but I prefer
keeping my blood in my veins to exposing it to the gaping curiosity of an
astonishedcrowd!”
“Youthink,then,thathealreadysuspects,andwouldmurderus?”
“You,us,andalsoyourson,theEmperorIvan.”
“Also my son!” exclaimed Leopoldowna, her eyes flashing like those of an
enragedlioness.“Ah,Ishouldknowhowtodefendmyson.LetBironfallthis
night!”
“Sobeit!”unanimouslyexclaimedthethreemen.
“He has driven us to this extremity,” said the princess. “Not enough that he
hasbanishedourfriendsandfaithfulservants,surroundinguswithhismiserable
creaturesandspies—notenoughthathewoundsandhumiliatesusineveryway
—hewouldrendtheyoungemperorfromus,hisparents,hisnaturalprotectors.
Weareattackedinourholiestrights,andmust,therefore,defendourselves.”
“ButwhatshallwedowiththissmallBiron,whenheisnolongerthegreat
regent?”askedOstermann.
“Wewillmakehimbyaheadsmaller,”saidMunnich,laughing.


“No,” vehemently exclaimed Leopoldowna—“no, no blood shall flow! Not
withbloodshallourownandourson’srightsbesecured!Swearthisgentlemen,
orIwillnevergivemyconsenttotheundertaking.”
“I well knew that your highness would so decide,” said Munnich, with a
smile, drawing a folded paper from his bosom. “In proof of which I hand this
papertoyourhighness.”
“Ah, what is this?” said the duchess, unfolding the paper; “it is the ground
planofahouse!”
“OfthehousewewillhavebuiltforBironinSiberia,”saidMunnich;“Ihave
drawntheplanmyself.”
“In fact, you are a skilful architect, Count Munnich,” said Ostermann,
laughing,whilecastinganinterrogatingglanceatthepaperwhichAnnawasstill
thoughtfully examining. “How well you have arranged it all! How delightful
these snug little chambers will be! There will be just space enough in them to
turn around in. But these small chambers seem to be a little too low. They are
evidently not more than five feet high. As Biron, however, has about your
height,hewillnotbeabletostanduprightinthem.”
“Bah!forthatveryreason!”saidMunnich,withacruellaugh.“Hehascarried
hisheadhighlongenough;nowhemaylearntobow.”
“Butthatwillbeacontinualtorment!”exclaimedtheDukeofBrunswick.
“On, has he not tormented us?” angrily responded Munnich. “We need
reprisals.”
“Howstrangeandhorrible!”saidAnnaLeopoldowna,shuddering;“thisman
isnowstandinghereclothedwithunlimitedpower,andwearealreadyholding
inourhandstheplanofhisprison!”
“Yes,yes,andwiththisplaninhispocketwillCountMunnichnowgotodine
with Biron and enjoy his hospitality!” laughingly exclaimed Ostermann. “Ah,
that must make the dinner particularly piquant! How agreeable it must be to
presstheregent’shand,andatthesametimefeeltherustlinginyourpocketof
thepaperuponwhichyouhavedrawntheplanofhisSiberianprison!Butyou
areintheright.Theregenthasdeeplyoffendedyou.Howcouldhedarerefuseto
makeyouhisgeneralissimo?”
“Ah, it is not for that,” said Munnich with embarrassment; and, seeking to
givetheconversationadifferentturn,hecontinued—“ah,see,CountOstermann,
whataterribleanimaliscrawlingthereuponyourdress!”
“Policy, nothing but policy,” tranquilly responded Ostermann, while the


princessturnedawaywithanexpressionofrepugnance.
“Well,” cried the prince, laughing, “explain to us, Count Ostermann, what
thosedisgustinginsectshavetodowithpolicyorpolitics?”
“WeareallfourGermans,”saidOstermann,“andconsequentlyareallfamiliar
with the common saying, ‘Tell me the company you keep, and I will tell you
whatyouare!’IhavealwayskeptthatinmindsinceIhavebeeninRussia;and
to make this good people forget that I am a foreigner, I have taken particular
painstofurnishmyselfwithasupplyoftheirdirtandofthesedelicateinsects.If
anyoneasksmewhoIam,IshowhimthesecreatureswithwhomIassociate,
andheimmediatelyconcludesthatIamaRussian.”
Ostermannjoinedinthelaughthatfollowedthisexplanation,butsuddenlyhe
utteredapiercingcry,andsankdownuponachair.
“Ah,thesepainswillbethedeathofme!”hemoaned—“ah,Ialreadyfeelthe
ravagesofdeathinmyblood;yes,Ihavelongknownthatadangerousmalady
was hovering over me, and my death-bed is already prepared at home! I am a
poorfailingoldman,andwhoknowswhetherIshalloutlivetheeveningofthis
day?”
While Ostermann was thus lamenting, and the prince with kindly sympathy
wasoccupiedabouthim,Munnichhadreturnedthedrawingtohispocket,and
wasspeakinginalowtonetotheduchessofsomeyetnecessarypreparationsfor
thenight.CountOstermann,notwithstandinghislamentationsandhispretended
pains,hadyetasharpearforeverywordtheyspoke.Heverydistinctlyheardthe
duchesssay:“Well,Iamsatisfied!Ishallexpectyouatabouttwoo’clockinthe
morning,andiftheaffairissuccessful,you,CountMunnich,maybesureofmy
mostferventgratitude;youwillthenhaveliberatedRussia,theyoungemperor,
andmyself,fromacruelanddespotictyrant,andIshallbeeternallybeholdento
you.”
CountMunnich’sbrowbeamedwithinwardsatisfaction.“Ishall,then,attain
myends,”thoughthe.Aloudhesaid:“Yourhighness,Ihavebutonewishand
one request; if you are willing to fulfil this, then will there be nothing left on
earthformetodesire.”
“Then name your request at once, that I may grant it in advance!” said the
princess,withasmile.
“The man is getting on rapidly, and will even now get the appointment of
generalissimo,”thoughtOstermann.“Thatmustneverbe;Imustpreventit!”
AndjustasMunnichwasopeninghismouthtopreferhisrequest,Ostermann
suddenlyutteredsoloudandpiteousacryofanguishthatthecompassionateand


alarmedprincesshastenedtoofferhimhersympathyandaid.
At this moment the clock upon the wall struck four. That was the hour for
whichMunnichwasinvitedtodinewiththeregent.Itwouldnotdotofailofhis
engagement to-day—he must be punctual, to avoid exciting suspicion. He,
therefore, had no longer the time to lay his request before the princess;
consequently Count Ostermann had accomplished his object, and secretly
triumphing,heloudlygroanedandcomplainedofhissufferings.
CountMunnichtookhisleave.
“I go now,” he smilingly said, “to take my last dinner with the Duke of
Courland.Ishallreturn thisnight attheappointed hour.Weshallthenconvert
thedukeintoaSiberianconvict,which,atallevents,willbeaveryinteresting
operation.”
Thushedeparted,withahorriblelaughuponhislips,tokeephisappointment
withtheregent.
Count Ostermann had again attained his end—he remained alone with the
princelypair.HadMunnichbeenthefirstwhocame,Ostermannwasthelastto
go.
“Ah,” said he, rising with apparent difficulty, “I will now bear my old,
diseased body to my dwelling, to repose and perhaps to die upon my bed of
pain.”
“Nottodie,Ihope,”saidAnna.
“Youmustlive,thatyoumayseeusinourgreatness,”saidtheprince.
Ostermann feebly shook his head. “I see, I see it all,” said he. “You will
liberateyourselffromonetyrant,yourhighness,tobecomethepreyofanother.
Theeyesofthedyingseeclear,andItellyou,duchess,youwerealreadyonthe
point of giving away the power you have attained. Know you what Munnich’s
demandwillbe?”
“Well?”
“He will demand what Biron refused him, and for which refusal Munnich
became his enemy. He will ask you to appoint him generalissimo of all your
forcesbylandandsea.”
“Then will he demand what naturally belongs to me,” said the prince,
excitedly,“andweshallofcourserefuseit.”
“Yes,wemustrefuseit,”repeatedtheprincess.
“Andinthatyouwilldowell,”saidCountOstermann.“Imayventuretosay
so,asIhavenolongertheleastambition—deathwillsoonrelievemefromall


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