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Old Fritz and the New Era By L. Muhlbach Characters: 17166

Updated: 2017-11-29 00:02

No one remained in the drawing-room but Cagliostro and the beautiful woman who still lay quietly on the couch, upon the throne. Cagliostro approached her, and, raising the veil, regarded her a moment, with an expression of the most passionate tenderness: "We are alone, Lorenza," said he. She opened her great eyes, and looked around the dimly-lighted room; then, fixing them upon Cagliostro, who stood before her in his brilliant costume of magician, she burst into a merry laugh, so loud and so irresistible, that Cagliostro was seized involuntarily, and joined her.

"Oh! was it not heavenly, was it not a glorious comedy, and did I not play divinely, Joseph? Was I not bewitching as the goddess of Nature?"

"You looked truly like a goddess, Lorenza, and there is nothing more beautiful than you, in heaven or upon earth. But come, my enchantress, it is time to break up, as we are to set off early to-morrow morning."

"Have we now much money? Was the tribute richly paid?"

"Yes, we have a hundred louis d'ors and a diamond ring from the mistress of this house."

"Give it to me," cried Lorenza.

"Not the ring, Lorenza, but the diamond, so soon as I have a false stone set in the ring-which I must keep as a ring in the chain which will bind this woman to our cause."

"Was I not astonishingly like her? Was it not almost unmistakable?"

"Yes, wonderfully deceptive. I shuddered myself as I saw the dagger pointed at your bosom."

"And the blood, how it gushed forth, Joseph!" Lorenza burst into a merry laugh again, and Cagliostro joined her, but suddenly stopped, and, listening, turned toward the door, which he had closed after Bischofswerder departed. It seemed as if he heard a noise-a peculiar knocking. Four times it was repeated, and Cagliostro waved his hand to Lorenza not to speak. Again were heard the four peculiar rhythmical sounds. "Be quiet, for Heaven's sake be quiet, Lorenza! Let me cover you with the veil; it is a messenger from the Invisibles." Cagliostro flew to the door, unbolted it, and stood humbly near the entrance. A masked figure, enveloped in a cloak, opened it, and entered, rebolting it.

Slowly turning toward Cagliostro, he harshly demanded, "Whose servant are you?"

"The servant of the Invisible Rulers and Fathers," he humbly answered.

"Who are the Invisible Fathers?"

"The four ambassadors of the great general of the exiles."

"Call him by that name which he bore before a heretic pope in Rome, a weak empress, a free-thinking emperor in Germany, a lost-in-sin French emperor, and a heretic Spanish minister, condemned him to banishment and destruction."

"General of the Jesuits," he answered respectfully, bowing lower.

"Do you know the sign by which he may be recognized?"

"Yes, by a ring with the likeness of the founder of the order, the holy Ignatius Loyola."

"Then look, and recognize me," cried the mask, extending his hand to Cagliostro.

"The General," he murmured, frightened, gazing at the ring upon the small, white hand of the other. "The holy founder of the order himself!" He seized his hand and pressed it to his lips, sinking upon his knees. The mask remained standing before the magician, as lowly as he might bow himself, who was still arrayed in his brilliant costume with the band upon his brow sparkling like diamonds.

With a cold, reserved manner he answered, "I am he, and am come here to give you my commands by word of mouth."

"Command me; I am thy humble servant, and but a weak tool in thy hands."

"It is my will that you should become a powerful tool in my hands. Rise, for I will speak to the man who must stand erect in the storm. Rise!" The proud commander was now an humble, obedient servant. He rose slowly, standing with bowed head.

"When and where did we last meet?" demanded the mask.

"In 1773, at Rome."

"In the year of curse and blasphemy," said the mask, in a harsh voice. "The year in which the infamous Pope Clement XVI. condemned the holy order, and hurled his famous bull, Dominus redemptor noster. The holy order, condemned and disbanded by his infamous mouth, were changed into holy martyrs, without country, without possessions or rights, as persecuted fugitives, wandering around the world, to the wicked a scorn, to the pious a lamentable example of virtue and constancy. Exiled and persecuted, you fled to a house of one of our order, and there we for the first time met. The daughter of this man was your beloved. Tell me why did you conceal yourself after flying from Palermo? I will see if the elevated one ungratefully forgets the days of his degradation."

"They accused me in Palermo of falsifying documents by which rightful owners were deprived of their lawful possessions. They threw me into subterranean dungeons, and I was near dying, when the Invisible Protectors rescued me."

"Was the accusation well founded? Had you committed the crime you were accused of?"

"Yes," answered Cagliostro, in a low voice, "I was guilty."

"For whom, by whose authority?"

"For the pious fathers, who commanded me, and whose pretensions to the possessions of the Duc Costa Rica were clearly proved by those documents."

"You then learned the power and the gratitude of our order. From underground prisons they freed you, and procured a way of escape to Rome, to find a safe asylum in the house of a believer. But just at that time condemnation burst upon us, and from a powerful order we were changed into a persecuted one. The forger Joseph Balsamo sought the brazier Feliciano, who gave him money, letters of recommendation, and instructed him how to serve the order, and procure an agreeable life for himself. Is it not so?"

"It is so," answered Cagliostro, softly. "It was the order of the General which united you in marriage to your beloved Lorenza Feliciana, who initiated you in the secret sciences and the secrets of Nature, that you might employ them for the well-being of humanity."

"It is so, master."

"You implored also, as you were about to separate, to see the face of your benefactor, to engrave it upon your heart. Would you now be able to recognize it?"

"I could in an instant, among thousands."

The General slowly raised the mask; a pale, emaciated face was visible, with great black eyes in sunken sockets, thin bloodless lips, and a high, bony brow. "Do you recognize me?"

"No!" sadly answered Cagliostro, "it is not the same face."

"You see, my son, man changes, but knowledge not. I am another, and yet the same, for the outward human form is only the vessel of the eternal band into which everlasting truth and the holy doctrines are poured. If the vessel breaks, it is replaced by another, and an inexhaustible spring. Thought and holy knowledge flow into the renewed vessel. I am a new vessel, but the same spirit which formerly spoke to you. I know your past life, and for what purpose you are in the world. As the General then spoke to you, so speak I now. The unholy have put the holy under a ban-they have persecuted and condemned us. The Holy Order of the Fathers of Jesus is lifeless before the world, but not before God. Jesuits do not die, for they bear eternal life in them, and there will a day come when they will burst forth from darkness into light. Go, my son, and help prepare the day, help smooth the way, that we may walk therein. Have you obeyed?"

"I have consecrated my whole life to it, your eminence. I have wandered around the world, and everywhere striven to disseminate the doctrine of the Invisible Fathers, and win disciples and adherents to the order. The Brothers of the Egyptian Masons, the Brothers of the Rosicrucians, are the disciples which I have won, and you know well there are many mighty and illustrious men among them."

"I know it, and I am satisfied you are an active and useful tool. This I came to tell you, that I might stimulate and advise you. Great deeds you shall perform, great achievements the holy Ignatius Loyola announces by my mouth. The world lies in sin, and the devil strides victorious over it, since the holy order has been proscribed and persecuted by the wicked. The devil is arrogant progress and boasting reason. They who listen to him think themselves wise when they are fools, and speak of their enlightenment while they still wander in the dark. To combat this reason, to oppose this intelligence, is the task of our order, which will never die. For God Sent it forth to the world to fight the devil of progress, who is the ruler of darkness. I have observed you, I have followed you, and I am sa

tisfied. But I await still greater things from you."

"What shall it be? Speak, O master; command, and I obey!"

"You shall strive throughout Europe for the restitution of the holy order. You shall subject to it all minds; make the rich, the powerful, the eminent and great, serviceable to it. Into the Orders of the Rosicrucians and Egyptian Masons you shall gather all the stray and isolated sheep into a flock, to await with longing the coming of the shepherd, and prepare a place for him. To the holy Church you shall consecrate the band of brothers, the only blessed Church, which is the lofty abode of the father of our order. To us belongs the world; you shall assist to reconquer it. Unbelievers shall be fought with every weapon. Every deception, slander, persecution, and murder, are holy if used for the benefit of the holy order. You shall shrink from nothing which is useful and beneficial for the sublime goal. The murder of a prince is no sin, but a just punishment, when it is necessary to remove a mighty enemy. If you create revolutions, cause nations to tear each other to pieces in grim civil war, these revolutions will be sanctified, the civil wars blessed, if they serve to strengthen the power of our order, and gain victory at last against the opponents. Only through our order can happiness reenter the world, and mankind be rescued. If the Holy Fathers do not sit in the council of princes, if they are not the conscience of the powerful, and steer the machine of state, the world goes to destruction, and mankind is lost. You shall help, my son, to turn aside the evil, and prepare happiness for earth. You have already done much, but much more is required. Go and work miracles; belief in them sanctifies the mind. Our fathers will sustain you everywhere, for you well know they are always present, though it is imagined they are not. The infamous Ganganelli has stripped them of their uniform, but not annihilated them, as we are, and ever shall be. I have sent out nine thousand brothers in Europe for the benefit of the order, and you will recognize them by the watchword. They will serve you as you will serve them. If danger menaces you, our brothers will know it, and rescue you. You will be unassailable, so long as you work for the order, and win disciples for it. Prussia is our important station as you rightly judged, and I extol you for your foresight. You prepare the future, for here it will be! When the royal mocker of religion dies, then comes a new kingdom, and the Rosicrucians will rise to power. Vices as well as virtues must serve us; therefore Dischofswerder and Wilhelmine Enke are useful means for holy purposes. That you have recognized it I praise you. Continue, my son, as you have begun, and you shall become powerful upon the earth. Not a hair of your head shall be touched so long as you are faithful to the Invisible Fathers. But so soon as you turn traitor to the holy cause you are lost, and our anger will crush you!"

"Never will I turn traitor," cried Cagliostro, holding up his hands as if taking an oath.

"I hope not. Our enemies shall be your enemies, and our friends your friends. If one of the brothers orders you in my name, 'Kill this man or that woman,' so kill them! Swear it!"

Shuddering, Cagliostro repeated, "I swear it!"

"As soon as one of the brothers orders you, in my name, 'Rescue this man or that woman,' so do every thing; even risk and sacrifice your life to rescue him."

"I swear it."

"You stand in the holy temple of the order, but also under its avenging sword. Be mindful of it in all your acts. The world is open to you, and our influence will be with you everywhere. You shall win the hearts of the great and the mighty to us, and place the Order of the Rosicrucians on the steps of the throne. The Great Kophta shall lead believers to us."

"The Great Kophta will perform all that you command, as he is only the humble servant of his general," said Cagliostro, kissing the hand extended to him.

"Do not kiss the hand, it is only that of an inferior mortal: kiss the ring, for it is the imperishable sign of our immortal saint."

"I kiss the ring of the immortal Ignatius Loyola, and swear eternal fidelity, constant obedience, and firm love, until death."

"Rise! for the time has come for us to separate. I have provided for the journeys the necessary means. Here are letters of recommendation to Warsaw and Mittau, others to Paris and London; but, the most important of all, letters of credit upon well-known bankers to the value of five hundred thousand dollars-all valid, though delivered years hence."

"A half million!" cried Cagliostro, almost terrified.

"Does a half million astonish you?" repeated the General, and his gray, fleshless face was distorted into a smile. "The Great Kophta must travel and live like a prince, that he may dazzle the eyes of the brothers, and subjugate the minds of the powerful. We give you the money, but remember you are always under the watchful eye of the order, and there is no spot on earth where you can hide yourself from our vengeance with the trust confided in you. You shall spend it to buy souls and win thrones, for hearts and consciences are sold; money will buy every thing. Take your letters of credit; you shall live as a great lord, and the Great Kophta shall be equal with princes."

He handed Cagliostro five sealed letters, saying: "They are made out for five years; only one for each year, as the number indicates. Number one is for this year, and number five is only valid at the expiration of five years. The order is mindful of your security, and thus five years of your life are freed from earthly care. You shall work in spirit, and you shall enchant the world, that it may be saved through the only saving Church, and the Holy Order."

He bowed a farewell, making the sign of the cross upon Cagliostro, and bent his steps to the throne, raising the veil which enveloped Lorenza. She looked up to him with glowing cheeks and sparkling eyes, smiling. By this she would express her thanks for the princely gift to her husband, and swear to the General her delight, her fidelity, and love. He regarded her as coldly and calmly as a physician a patient.

"Yes, holy father, I have heard all," she said, with a sweet, flute-like voice. "My heart is filled with gratitude and emotion."

"Prove it by assisting your husband to attain the goal for which we send him forth. I have already said that vice must serve virtue, Lorenza. Beauty is a power, and if it serves holy purposes, so is it sanctified. Employ your beauty to win adherents to the order, and extend the power of the Rosicrucians in every land, and among all nations."

"I swear that this shall be my holiest endeavor," cried Lorenza, rising.

The General pressed her back upon the pillow, saying: "Remain, for there is no one here for you to enchant. I bring you pardon for your sins, and an indulgence for every sin which you will commit, if you swear to serve faithfully the holy Church and the pious fathers of Jesus."

"I swear," solemnly cried Lorenza.

"Here is the letter of indulgence from Pius VI. himself, made out in your name for you. Take it, and perform your duty." He laid down the parchment provided with the papal seal upon her shoulder, and drawing the veil over her made the sign of the cross, saying, "I bless you, and give you absolution for your sins."

"Bless me also, lord and master," cried Cagliostro, kneeling upon the lowest step to the throne.

"I bless you in the name of Loyola. Remain upon your knees, and follow me not." He extended his hands over him, and blessed him, then slowly withdrew.

The first beams of the morning sun shone through the great window-panes, lighting up with its golden rays Cagliostro's kneeling form. He remained with his head bowed until the General had passed out. "He is gone; Heaven be praised, he is gone!"

"Yes, he is gone," repeated Lorenza, springing from the couch. "Is it true, has he given you half a million?"

Cagliostro held up with triumphant air the letters. "See, these addresses are upon the first banking-houses in Rome, Paris, London, and Berlin!"

"Do you believe that they are genuine?"

"I am convinced of it."

"Then we have attained our aim; we are rich and powerful."

"No," answered Cagliostro, mournfully, "we are poorer than ever. This money makes us slaves, makes us dependent tools. Did you not hear him say, 'You are admitted into the Temple, but the avenging sword of the order everywhere hangs over you.'"

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