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The latter part of May, Frederick, in his head-quarters at Frankenstein, learned that an Austrian army under Prince Charles, and a Saxon army under the Duke of Weissenfels, in columns, by strict count seventy-five thousand strong, had defiled through the passes of the Giant Mountains, and entered Silesia near Landshut. Day after day he ascended an eminence, and, with his glass, anxiously scanned the horizon, to detect signs of the approach of the foe. On Thursday morning, June 3, an immense cloud of dust in the distance indicated that the decisive hour was at hand.Slightly inclining her head, as she passed Bergan, she quickly disappeared under the low-hanging oak boughs.
But the young King Frederick was very ambitious of enlarging the borders of his Liliputian realm, and of thus attaining a higher position among the proud and powerful monarchs who surrounded him. Maria Theresa, who had inherited the crown of Austria, was a remarkably beautiful, graceful, and accomplished216 young lady, in the twenty-fourth year of her age. She was a young wife, having married Francis, Duke of Lorraine. Her health, as we have mentioned, was at that time delicate. Frederick thought the opportunity a favorable one for wresting Silesia from Austria, and annexing it to his own kingdom. The queen was entirely inexperienced, and could not prove a very formidable military antagonist. Her army was in no respect, either in number, discipline, or materiel, prepared for war. Her treasury was deplorably empty. There was also reason for Frederick to hope that several claimants would rise in opposition to her, disputing the succession.
Carice was looking towards them, now; and his last words were spoken with a smiling glance that was apparently meant to draw her into the conversation.Hark! was not that a cry from the direction of the river? He leaned out of the window, and listened attentively; but the soundif sound it were, and not the simple product of his own disordered fancywas not repeated. Nothing was to be heard save the low sough of the rising wind, and the melancholy voices of the trees, as one solemn old oak-top leaned toward another, and talked mysteriously of some woful event that it had witnessedperhaps a century ago, perhaps lateror recounted drearily the long list of human sorrows and sins and retributions stored up in its dreamy old memory. There might have been heard, too, in its further talk, if only the ear were fine enough that listened,something of patience born of sorrow, and blessedness wrenched from the hand of suffering; of lofty hopes blossoming out of the ashes of despair, and fair, new temples, vocal with the anthem of glory to God and good will to man, built over and out of heaps of ruins. A few words, too, might have been added of lovehuman loveas the crowning grace and gladness of a man's life,the delicate carving beautifying the arches, capitals, and pinnacles of the temple, the thick greenery softening its sharp outlines, and the odorous blossoms rooting themselves in its angles and hollows; but neither its strong foundations, its majestic walls, nor the upward spring of its spire,and never, in any sense, the object of its rightful worship.
"It is a necessity of my profession," he muttered, at last; and, with a mighty effort, he tore himself free from the teasing phantom, and addressed himself anew to his work.
Open the door! Open the door! I must embrace you.It was four oclock, and I could not understand what had become of my brother. I had sent out several persons on horseback to get tidings of him, and none of them came back. At length, in spite of all my prayers, the hereditary prince24 himself would go in search. I was in cruel agitations. These cataracts of rain are very dangerous in the mountain countries. The roads get suddenly overflowed, and accidents often happen. I thought for certain one had happened to my brother, or to the hereditary prince.