had been warned, and those fugitives who had private cars
"I pray your worship to read first the letter of your brother, the Abbe Bastiani."
"Ah! he has told you that I am his brother?" said the prior, eagerly. "He trusts you then, fully? Well, I will read the letter." He opened and read it impatiently. "This is a very laconic and enigmatical letter," said he. "My brother refers me wholly to you; he assures me I can confide entirely in your silence and discretion, and entreats me to assist you in the attainment of your object. Make known to me then, signor, in what way I can serve you, and what aim you have in view."
"First, I will give your worship a proof that I trust you fully and unconditionally. I will tell you who I am, and then make known my purpose; you will then be able to decide how far you can give me counsel and aid."
"Let us step into this window-niche," said the prior; "we will be more secure from eavesdroppers. Now, signor, I am ready to listen."
The stranger bowed. "First, I must pray your worship's forgiveness, for having dared to deceive you. I am no merchant, and have nothing to do with relics; I am a soldier! my name is Cocceji, and I have the honor to be an adjutant of the King of Prussia. My royal master has intrusted me with a most important and secret mission, and I am commissioned by your brother, the Abbe Bastiani, to ask in his name for your assistance in this great matter."
"In what does your mission consist?" said the prior, calmly.
The Baron Cocceji smiled. "It is difficult--yes, impossible to tell you in a few words. Your worship must allow me a wider scope, in order to explain myself fully."
"I see, by the maps and the arrangements of the pins, that your worship knows exactly the position and circumstances of my royal master, whom all Europe admires and wonders at, and whom his enemies fear most when they have just defeated him. They know that my king is never so great, never so energetic and bold in action, as when he is seemingly at a disadvantage, and overwhelmed by misfortunes. The bold glance of the great Frederick discovers ever-new fountains of help; he creates in himself both power and strength, and when his enemies think they have caught the royal lion in their nets, his bold eye has already discovered the weak spot; he tears it apart, and makes his foes, bewildered with terror and astonishment, fly before him. It is true, the king has just lost three battles! The Austrians and Russians defeated him at Hochkirch, at Kunersdorf, and at Mayen. But what have they gained? They have, in these three battles, lost more than the king; they have exhausted their resources--their own, and those of their allies; but Frederick stands still opposed to them, full of strength and power. His army is enlarged; from every side, from every province, shouting crowds stream onward to join the colors of their king. Enthusiasm makes a youth of the graybeard, and changes boys to men. Each one of them will have his part in the experience and fame of the great Frederick, and demands this of him as a holy right. The king's treasury is not exhausted; the people, with joy and gladness, have offered up upon the altar of the fatherland, their possessions, their jewels, and their precious things, and submit with enthusiasm to all the restrictions and self-denials which the war imposes upon them. They desire nothing but to see their king victorious; to help him to this, they will give property, blood--yes, life itself. It is this warm, enthusiastic love of his people which makes the king so fearful to his enemies; it protects him like a diamond shield, steels him against the balls of his adversaries, and fills his proud, heroic soul with assurances of triumph. All Europe shares this enthusiasm and these convictions of ultimate success with the Prussians and their dear-loved king. All Europe greets the hero with loud hosannas, who alone defies so many and such mighty foes, who has often overcome them, and from whom they have not yet wrung one single strip of the land they have watered with their blood, and in whose bosom their fallen hosts lie buried in giant graves. This has won for him the sympathy of all Europe, and the love and admiration of even the subjects of his great and powerful foes. In France--that France, whose warriors suffered so shameful a defeat at Rossbach, and whose government is filled with rage and thirsty for revenge against this heroic king--even in France is Frederick admired and worshipped. Even in the palace of the king, they no longer refuse to acknowledge his worth and glory. But lately, the young Duke de Belleisle exhorted the Marquise de Pompadour to implore King Louis to prosecute the war with earnestness and ardor, otherwise King Frederick might soon be expected in Paris with his army. The Marquise de Pompadour cried out warmly, 'Good! then I shall at last see a king!' In Germany, his enemies seek in vain to arouse the fanaticism of the people against the heretical king. Catholic Bavaria--the Palatinate-Main--enter murmuringly and reluctantly into this war against this Protestant king, although they wear the beads in their pockets, and the scapular over their shoulders. Even if Frederick the Second is now overcome by his enemies, in the public opinion he is the conqueror, and the whole world sympathizes with him. But public opinion is his only ally, and the sympathy of the people is his only source of revenue, outside of the subsidy from England, which will soon be exhausted. Frederick, therefore, must look after other allies, other friends, who will render him assistance, in so far as not to unsheathe the sword against him, and to prepare some difficulties for his adversaries, and occupy a portion of their attention. Such friends the king hopes to find in Italy; and to attain this object, I would ask counsel and help of your worship."