of excitement. “Of course I don't know what you must
Trenck did not answer. His head was bowed upon his breast; he was gazing down in silence.
"You will be forced to name your accomplices," cried the enraged commandant; "there is no palliation for a traitor, and if you do not name them at once, I shall subject you to the lash."
An unearthly yell issued from Trenck's pale lips, and as he raised his head, his countenance was expressive of such wild, such terrible rage, that Bruckhausen drew away from him in affright. Trenck had awakened from his lethargy; he had found again his strength and energy, he was Trenck once more--the Trenck feared by Von Bruckhausen, though lying in chains, the Trenck whom nothing could bend, nothing discourage.
"He who dares to whip me shall die," said he, gazing wildly at the commandant. "With my nails, with my teeth, will I kill him."
"Name your accomplices!" cried Bruckhausen, stamping upon the ground in his rage.
It was Trenck who now laughed. "Ah, you think to intimidate me with your angry voice," said he. "You think your word has power to make me disclose that which I wish to keep secret. You think I will betray my friends, do you? Learn what a poor, weak, incapable human being you are, for not one of the things you wish shall occur. No, I shall not be so contemptible as to betray my friends. Were I to do so, then were I a traitor deserving of this wretched cell, of these fearful chains, for I would then be a stranger to the first, the holiest virtue, gratitude. But no, I will not. I was innocent when these chains were put on me--innocent I will remain."
"Innocent!" cried the commandant; "you who wished to deliver to the enemy a fortress of your sovereign! You call yourself innocent?"
Trenck raised himself from his bed, and threw back his head proudly. "I am no longer a subject of the King of Prussia," said he; "he is no longer my sovereign. Many years ago I was thrown into prison at Glatz without court-martial or trial. When I escaped, all my property was confiscated. If I had not sought my bread elsewhere, I would have starved to death, or gone to ruin. Maria Theresa made me a captain in her army--to her I gave my allegiance. She alone is my sovereign. I owe no duty to the King of Prussia--he condemned me unheard--by one act he deprived me of bread, honor, country, and freedom. He had me thrown into prison, and fettered like some fearful criminal. He has degraded me to an animal that lies grovelling in his cage, and who only lives to eat, who only eats to live. I do not speak to you, sir commandant," continued he--"I speak, soldiers, to you, who were once my comrades in arms. I would not have you call Trenck a traitor. Look at me; see what the king has made of me; and then tell me, was I not justified in fleeing from these tortures? Even if Magdeburg had been stormed, and thousands of lives lost, would you have called me a traitor? Am I a traitor because I strive to conquer for myself what you, what every man, receives from God as his holy right--my freedom?" While he spoke, his pale, wan countenance beamed with inspiration.