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      CHAPTER IX"Can I do anything for you, before I set off on my daily treadmill?" he asked, when the meal was ended.



      A comfortable house, with garden and summer-house, was provided for the Crown Prince. He occasionally gave a dinner-party to his brother officers; and from the summer-house rockets were thrown into the sky, to the great gratification of the rustic peasantry.

      This, however, neither the Princes of the blood, the nobles, nor the French nation would stand, and the project had to be relinquished; but the rapacity and outrageous arrogance and pretensions of les batards, as they were called, had aroused such irritation and hatred that Louis XV. took care to go into the opposite extreme. Unlike his predecessor, he cared nothing for the children of his innumerable liaisons, which were of a lower and more degraded type than those of his great-grandfather. He seldom recognised or noticed these children, made only a very moderate provision for them, and allowed them to be of no importance whatever.Early on Monday morning the Prussians advanced from Neumarkt, eight miles, to Borne. Here they met the advance-guard of the Austrian cavalry. It was a dark, foggy morning. Frederick, as usual, was with his vanguard. Almost before the Austrians were conscious of the presence of the foe, they were assailed, with the utmost impetuosity, in front and on both their flanks. Instantly they were thrown into utter confusion. The ground was covered with their dead. Their general, Nostitz, was fatally wounded, and died the next day. Five hundred and forty were taken prisoners. The bleeding, breathless remnant fled pell-mell back to the main body, a few miles in the rear.

      The position of Frederick became daily more embarrassing. His forces were continually decreasing. Re-enforcements were swelling the ranks of the Austrians. Elated in becoming the Imperial Army, they grew more bold and annoying, assailing the Prussian outposts and cutting off their supplies.


      Still Wusterhausen was but a hunting-lodge, which was occupied by the king only during a few weeks in the autumn. Fritz had many playmateshis brothers and sisters, his cousins, and the children of General Finkenstein. To most boys, the streams, and groves, and ponds of Wusterhausen, abounding with fish and all kinds of game, with ponies to drive and boats to row, with picturesque walks and drives, would have been full of charms. But the tastes of Fritz did not lie in that direction. He does not seem to have become strongly attached to any of his young companions, except to his sister Wilhelmina. The affection and confidence which united their hearts were truly beautiful. They encountered together some of the severest of lifes trials, but heartfelt sympathy united them. The nickname which these children gave their unamiable father was Stumpy.

      A brief account of this interview has been given by Frederick,59 and also a very minute narrative by Sir Thomas Robinson, in his official report to his government. There is no essential discrepancy between the two statements. Frederick alludes rather contemptuously to the pompous airs of Sir Thomas, saying that he negotiated in a wordy, high, droning way, as if he were speaking in Parliament. Mr. Carlyle seems to be entirely in sympathy with Frederick in his invasion of Silesia. The reader will peruse with interest his graphic, characteristic comments upon this interview:

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      His contempt, writes Sir Thomas in his narrative, was so great, and was expressed in such violent terms, that now, if ever, was the time to make the last effort. A moment longer was not to be lost, to hinder the king from dismissing us.

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      M. de Beaune was an excellent man, rather hasty-tempered, but generous, honourable, delighted with his daughter-in-law, and most kind and indulgent to her. He took the deepest interest in her health, her [195] dress, and her success in society, into which he constantly went, always insisting upon her accompanying him.

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      The salvation of the army seemed to depend upon capturing the Austrian magazines at Beneschau. Marshal Schwerin was sent forward with all speed, at the head of a strong detachment, and was so lucky as to take Beneschau. Here he intrenched himself. Frederick, upon hearing the glad tidings, immediately started from Tabor to join him. His sick were at Fraunberg, Budweis, and Neuhaus, some dozen miles south of Tabor. Garrisons, amounting to three thousand men, had been left to protect them from the Pandours. As Frederick was about to abandon that whole region, it was manifest that these garrisons could not maintain themselves. He dispatched eight messengers in succession to summon the troops immediately to join him. The sick were to be left to their fate. It was one of the cruel necessities of war. But not one of these messengers escaped capture by the Pandours. Frederick commenced his march without these garrisons. The three thousand fighting men, with the three hundred sick, all fell into the hands of the Pandours.


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