MoboReader > Literature > Old Fritz and the New Era

   Chapter 30 THE TRIUMVIRATE.

Old Fritz and the New Era By L. Muhlbach Characters: 17600

Updated: 2017-11-29 00:02


While Wilhelmine's servant gave himself up to his hopes, slowly down the broad avenue, an elegant four-in-hand carriage rolled past him, and stopped at the house where lived Colonel Bischofswerder, long before he had reached the Brandenburg Gate. A gentleman sprang out, hastening past the footman into the house, where a servant evidently awaited his arrival, and preceded him with devout mien, throwing open the wide folding-doors and announcing, in a solemn voice-"His excellency, Count Cagliostro." He then respectfully withdrew, bowing profoundly as the count passed, and closed quickly and noiselessly the doors behind him.

The two gentlemen within hastened to meet the count, who nodded smilingly, and extended to them with a gracious condescension his white hand sparkling with diamonds. "My dear brothers," said he, "you have unfortunately announced me the truth-Wilhelmine Enke is faithless-is an apostate."

"A courtesan, ensnared by the devil of unchastity," murmured the elder of the two-a man of long, lank figure, pale, pock-marked face, the broad high forehead shaded with but little hair, the watery blue eyes turned upward, as if in pious ecstasy, and the large, bony hands either folded as if in prayer, or as if in quiet contemplation, twirling his thumbs around each other. "I have always said so," said he, with a long-drawn sigh; "she is a temptress, whom Satan, in bodily repetition of himself, has placed by the prince's side, and his salvation cannot be counted upon until this person is removed."

"And you, my beloved brother, think otherwise-do you not?" asked Cagliostro, gently.

"Yes," answered Bischofswerder, "you know well, sublime master and ruler, how much I esteem and love the worthy and honorable Wollner, and how much weight his opinion has with me. In all my reports to the Invisible Fathers I have always particularly mentioned him, and it was upon my wish and proposal that they appointed him director of one of the three Berlin circles. He is occupied near me in the confederacy, and is also in the service of the crown prince, for it was by my especial, earnest recommendation that his highness called him to Berlin from the exchequer of Prince Henry at Rheinsberg, that he might give him lectures in politics and other branches of administration, I do not say it to boast, although I have always regarded it as an honor to have opened the way to a distinguished man, to have his great talents properly valued. I only say it to prove my high appreciation of dear brother Wollner, and to defend myself, master, in your eyes, that I differ in opinion from him, and do not advise a violent removal of this person, to whom the prince is more attached than he himself knows of."

"It is not necessary to excuse yourself to me, my son," said Cagliostro, pompously. "The eyes which the Invisibles have lighted up with a beam of revelation, see into the depths of things, and reveal the most hidden. I have glanced into your hearts, and I will tell you that which I have therein read. You, Hans Rudolph von Bischofswerder, belong to the world; its joys and sorrows agitate you. You have a longing for science and the knowledge of the Invisibles, and you would also enjoy the Visibles, and take part in the pleasures of life. What you would allow yourself, that you would also grant to your royal master, whose friend and leader you are, and who, one day, will be the future king and ruler of the visible world, and a faithful son and servant of the Invisibles. Is it not thus?"

"It is so," answered Bischofswerder, who, with wondering astonishment, drank in every word that fell from Cagliostro's lips as a revelation. "You have read the inmost thoughts of my heart, and what I scarcely suspected myself, you are knowing of, lord and master."

"Toil and strive, my son, and you shall rise to the highest grade, in which presentiment and recognition, thinking and knowing, are one."

He extended to Bischofswerder his hand, who fervently pressed it to his lips; then turned to Wollner, who, with upturned gaze and folded hands, might have been praying, for his thumbs were not turning around, but rested, quietly crossed.

"You, my son and brother," continued Cagliostro, with his lofty, haughty reserve, "your thoughts are diverted from earth, and the joys of this world have no charm for you!" "I have laid the oath of virtue and chastity upon the altar of the Invisibles," replied Wollner, with a severe tone of voice. "I have given myself to a pious life of abstinence, and sworn to employ every means to lead those that I can attain to upon the narrow path which leads to the paradise of science, of knowledge, and heavenly joys. How could I forget my oath, which is to win the prince, who is to become a light and shield in the holy order, from the broad course of vice, to the pathway of the blest? How can I bear to see him lost in sin who is elected to virtue, and who longs for the light of knowledge?"

"But, in order to bear the light in its brightness, he must have passed through the darkness and gloom of sin," said Cagliostro. "After the days of error follow those of knowledge. This is what causes the mildness of our brother Theophilus, whom the earthly world calls Bischofswerder, whilst you, brother Chrysophorus, demand from the prince the severest virtue, which is the first great vow of the brothers advancing in the holy order of the Rosicrucians. You are both wrong and both right. It is well to be lenient as brother Theophilus, but that must have its limit, and the night wanderer who stands upon the brink of a precipice must be awakened, but not with violent words, or calling loudly his name, because a sudden awakening would only hasten his fall. Slowly and carefully must he be roused; as one would by degrees accustom the invalid eyes to the mid-day, so must the light of virtue and knowledge dawn upon the eyes, ill from vice, with prudent foresight. Hear my proposal. Summon the three circles of the brothers of the highest degree to a sitting to-night. You have told me that the prince desires to belong to the seeing ones, and be in communion with the spiritual world. This night his wish shall be fulfilled, to see the spirits, and a new future shall rise before him. My time is limited; let us arrange every thing, for the voices of the Invisibles already call me home."

At this instant a modest knocking was heard at the door, which was repeated at different intervals.

"It is my servant," said Bischofswerder, "and he has undoubtedly an important communication for me."

He opened the door, speaking with the person outside in a low tone, and returned with a sealed note.

Cagliostro, apparently, was lest in deep thought and indifferent to the conversation without, directing quietly and calmly, in the mean time, a few questions to Wollner, and, as it seemed, listening only to his answers. Yet as Bischofswerder approached him, saying, "it is, indeed, important news; I have proof in hand that-" he interrupted him with a commanding motion, and finished the broken sentence: "-that Wilhelmine Enke is a powerful adversary, having connection with the court, as this letter from her is directed to Minister Herzberg. Is it not this that you would say, Theophilus?"

Astonished, he replied in the affirmative, begging his master to read it.

"It is unnecessary," replied Cagliostro, waving back the letter; "to the seeing eyes every thing is revealed. This person announces to Minister von Herzberg that the deceiver and necromancer, Cagliostro, in his flight from Mittau, has visited her to menace her. She begs protection for herself and an arrest for me; that I am known as Count Julien, at the hotel King of Portugal, at Berlin, and that haste is necessary."

Both gentlemen glanced astonished and enraptured, first at the sealed epistle and then at the great Magus.

"Open the letter and convince yourselves of the contents!" commanded Cagliostro.

"It is unnecessary," cried Bischofswerder, with enthusiasm. "We recognize in you truth and knowledge; you have revealed to us the contents."

"Nay, there is a lingering doubt in the mind of brother Chrysophorus!" said Cagliostro, regarding Woellner fixedly, who stood with downcast eyes before him.

"My ruler and master," stammered Woellner, in confusion, "I dare not doubt, only-"

"You would only be convinced, open then the letter," interrupted Cagliostro, sarcastically.

With a sharp knife, Bischofswerder cut the end of the envelope, and handed the letter to him.

"Give it to Chrysophorus," commanded the count. "He shall read it, and may the incredulous become a believer!"

Woellner perused the epistle with a slightly tremulous voice, stopping now and then, at an illegible word, which his master quickl

y supplied to him, finishing the sentence as correctly as if he held the writing in his hand.

The contents were exactly as Cagliostro had given them, and the farther Wollner read, the more his voice quivered and Bischofswerder's enthusiasm increased.

As the reading was finished, the former sank, with uplifted hands, before his master, as if imploring mercy from a mighty, crushing power.

"I have been unbelieving as Tobias, doubting as Paul; have mercy on me, O master! for in this hour the divine light of belief and knowledge banishes doubt from my sinful heart. I acknowledge thy supernatural power and heavenly wisdom! My whole being bows in humility before you and your sublimity, and henceforth I will only be your humble scholar and servant, the tool of your will. Forgive me, all-knowing one, if my heart doubted. Breathe upon me the breath of knowledge, and lay thy august right hand upon my head, and penetrate me with thy heavenly power."

"Have mercy upon me also," cried Bischofswerder, as he kneeled beside Woellner, and, like him, raised his hands imploringly to Cagliostro. "Breathe upon me the breath of thy grace, and regard me, the repentant and unworthy, with thy heavenly glance!"

Cagliostro looked to heaven, and from his lips there fell disconnected words of exhortation; suddenly he drew forth his hands, which he had pushed into his gown and crossed upon his breast, stretching them out with wide-spread fingers.

"Come to me, ye spirits!" he cried, in a loud, thundering voice. "Ye spirits of fire and air, come to me! Ye shall flame and burn upon the heads of these two persons and announce to them that the Invisibles are with us. Come to me, ye spirits of fire!"

He clinched his fingers, extending them again, and upon the points there danced and flickered a blue light. A heavenly smile shone upon the beautiful face of the Magus, his hands slowly sank upon the heads of the kneeling ones, the flames gliding upon their heads, resting there a moment, and then dying away.

"The Invisibles have proclaimed themselves to you through the sign of fire," cried Cagliostro. "The sacred flame has glowed upon your heads, and I now press upon your brow the solemn kiss of consecration and knowledge!"

He bowed down to the kneeling ones. It seemed as if a cloud of perfume had passed over their glowing faces, or as if an odorous lily had been pressed upon their foreheads, and their hearts quivered with delight. He passed his hand lightly over their faces, and a feeling of rapture spread through their whole being. Then as he commanded them to rise, they obeyed, without realizing that they had limbs or body, but regarded the miracle-worker, entranced with his smile.

Cagliostro, with hasty decision and earnest, commanding air, made a few opposite strokes in the air, and immediately the faces of the magnetized looked as if they had awakened from a dream of splendor and delight to insipid, flat reality.

"I have permitted you to behold, for an instant, the mysteries and miracles which are serviceable to the knowing ones," said Cagliostro, with calm earnestness. "Your souls were in communion with the Invisibles, and from the source of knowledge a spark of illumination fell upon your heads. Guard it as a heavenly secret that no one should know of, and now let us continue our conversation."

"Permit me once more to lay my head at your feet, and receive power from the touch thereof," implored Bischofswerder.

"Let me embrace your knees, and entreat pardon and grace," begged Woellner, as he sank down to clasp them, and the former threw himself at the feet of his master, passionately kissing them.

Smilingly he received their homage, and assisted them to rise.

"Now let us speak in a human, reasonable manner, my friends. Brother Theophilus, you, first of all, return the letter to the envelope and seal it."

Bischofswerder obeyed; taking from the table a little bottle and a small brush, he carefully applied an adhesive substance to the edges, pressing them firmly together.

"Master, no one could discover that it had been opened. Command what shall be done with it."

"Give it to your servant, that he may return it to him who brought it, and the latter can now deliver it at its address."

"To the Minister Herzberg!" they both cried, amazed. "It is impossible; he is a sworn enemy of the holy order and your own heavenly person. He could take the most violent measures, and cause your excellency to be arrested."

"I believe it," smiled Cagliostro. "The great Frederick would announce triumphantly that he had had the great Semiramis of the North taken, which the Russian police had failed to accomplish. It would be a welcome triumph for unbelievers and fools, and they would trumpet it joyfully through the world! It must not be; although my spirit in its power and might would soon release my body, yet I will not grant this momentary triumph to my enemies. My time is limited; I must forth to Egypt, where the Brothers of the Millennium will assemble in the course of a week in the pyramids, to announce to me their will for the coming century. I am the Spirit of God, which the Invisibles have willed to enter a human form, therefore it must be regarded as sacred and protected."

"Allow me to guard, with my life, your sublime person!" cried Bischofswerder.

"And I also implore you to grant me the happiness to watch over the security of your heavenly self, and defend it to the last drop of my blood!" cried Woellner; "only tell us what we have to do."

"Above all things obey my command concerning the letter," replied the count, smiling.

Bischofswerder submissively went out with the epistle, returning in a few moments. "It is as you have ordered: in a quarter of an hour it will be in the hands of Minister Herzberg."

"No," replied the count, fixing his eyes upon empty space, "it will not be there, for Herzberg is not at home. I now see him driving in a carriage with four black steeds to the country. At this instant he is crossing a bridge, now he enters a town, turning down one of the streets, where the noise of the wheels is lost. Again I hear him, leaving by the gate, ascending a broad avenue."

"It is the route to Sans-Souci," murmured Bischofswerder, in a low voice, but the count must have understood him, as he repeated aloud:

"Yes, that is the route to Sans-Souci, and the lonely, fretful old king will keep his minister the entire day, and will not receive the missive from his secret female accomplice until his return in the evening, and then he will dispatch his bailiffs in all haste to the hotel to arrest Count St. Julien, and forward an order to every gate to forbid his departure. It will be too late, however-he will have already departed."

"Departed!" cried the two gentlemen, frightened. "Will you, then, forsake us?"

"Hush, my brothers, be quiet!" answered Cagliostro. "I shall have departed for the profane, but I will remain here for the consecrated until to-morrow morning. It oft happens that the lofty even must come down, and the brilliant obscure themselves. To-day I must descend from my spiritual height, and humble myself in the dust of lowliness. When the unholy and unconsecrated essay to behold that which they should not with their earthly eyes; they must be blinded with earthly dust, and for those which are not worthy of miracles, we must sometimes condescend to jugglers' tricks. By the latter I will mislead my enemies to-day. How many gates are there to the city of Berlin?"

"There are nine, master."

"Send immediately messengers around in your circles to order eight travelling-carriages and sixteen large black trunks. Further, send me eight confidential discreet men of my height and size, with eight perukes, exactly the cut of mine. Command four post-horses, with two postilions for eight different addresses. This is all that is necessary for the moment."

"All shall be faithfully and quickly accomplished," said Bischofswerder, humbly. "We will divide the execution of your orders, and there only remains to appoint the time and place when and where to direct the postilions."

"All this will follow; forget not, in trifling, earthly things, the great heavenly circumstances. Summon the consecrated of the highest degree of your circle to go to-night to the palace of Prince Frederick William at Potsdam, and under the very eyes of the old freethinking king we will open to the crown prince the doors of the spiritual world, and consecrate him to the highest degree. But first the Invisibles shall speak with him, and announce the heavenly region of the unapproachable. Finish the preparations, my brothers-fulfil exactly and punctually my orders, and then come to the hotel to receive my last commands."

(← Keyboard shortcut) Previous Contents (Keyboard shortcut →)
 Novels To Read Online Free

Scan the QR code to download MoboReader app.

Back to Top

shares