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How Kaiser Wilhelm's Sister Was Won

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It will be remeinbered that the Emperor William tho Frst of Germany, immediatcly after the pivliininaries of peace had been signed at Versailles, sent to St. Petersburg, a fcoleglam in which ho xpressed to the Czar his gratitude for the friendly attitude which Kussia had maintained during the progress of the FrancoPruaadan war, and in wlnch ho frankly admitted that Germany Vas indebted to thia sincere friendship of her powerful E:istcrn neighbur for the eoinpiir:itively liinited iliiiicusiuns of the gigantic confliet. Unciuestionably the political intercsts of ltussirt, and above all her well known policy in the Bastera question, have mainly conMbuted to her partiality for Prussia ; but not an isognifloant share in this partiality must also le attributed feo iersonal cousideratious, to. that noar relationship which for upward of half a century has existed between the dynasties of liussia and Prussia; for Alexander tho Seeond, the present Em peror of Eussia, is a son of the Princess Charlotte of Prussia, the sister of the pres ent Emperor of Gemmny. The betrothal and niarriage of this princess with Nicholas, who wasthen only i grand duke, but became afterward Emperor of Eussia, fornis one of the sw( i t. st and most romantic lovo episodes in the world of European courts, which is usually so devoid of love and romance, and would on that account alone, deeerve being reuiombcrcd, quite regardless of tlic historioal interest which will heiieeforth adhere to all the memben of the fainily of the conqueror of France. Princess Charlotte was bom in the yeur 1798, aiul was the eldest daughter of King Frederick William the Third "of Prussia, and his beautiful and accoinplished wife, (iueen Louisa. Hor early ohildhood elapsed amid scènes of terror and humiliution for the royal family of Prussia, ;ml nobody would at thut timu have ventured to predict for her the bri'liant career which Providenco kept in store for this child, born and brought up under such fatal auspices. We might, indeed, make an exvcption in favor of her mother, who, with that prophetic iniuition which seems to have been tht' dÏ8tinguishing feature of that high-minded woiuan, wrote one day to hor father, the Duke of Mecklonburg, the following linos about her daughter : " Charlotte is giren to silence and reservo, but uuder her apparent coldness she conccals a warm and loving heart. Her indifference and pride are but the dull outside of a dimnond of the purest water, which gome day will shino forth in its brilliant lustre. " Her bearing and manners are noble and dignified. She has but few friends, but these few are wannly attached to her. I know her value, and prediot tor lior a brilliant future, if she lives long cnougli." The young princesa was, indeed, a vory frail and delicate creature - ono of those tender flowers which seem to wait for the kind hand of the gardener to transplant them into a wanner elimo. Sho was charming and handsome ; but her beauty was rather that of a palo lily, than that of a blooming rose. Charlotte was just sixteen, when in the yoar 1814, the Grand Duke, Kicholas, on nis way to the camp of the allied armies of France, passed through Berlin and was warmly welcomed as an honored gucst at the royal palace. Tho doscription whioh thoso who saw and kncw the Grand Duke at that timo havo givcn of tho incomparable graces of his person and mind, makes it casier for us to imagine that tho heart of a young girl just budding into womanhood was captivatcd and charmedby him almostat firbt sight. Well he might have said, like Cassar, "I caine, I saw, I conquered." The princess feil in love with him, and fortunately for her, tho young grand duke returued her love fully as passionately. The Grand Duke Nicholas had the reputation of being one of tho handsomost, if not the very handsomest man of his times; and his majestic and stately form, which measured not loss than six fect and two inches, was considered unequaled in beauty, not only in Kussiu but in all Europe. He was vigorous, strong, full of lifo and health, with broad shoulders and chest, whilo his small hands and feet were of tlie most aristocratie elegance ; his whole figuro realized the perlect model of maniy and comnianding beauty which the divine art of a soulptor of antiquity has immortalized under the features of the Apollo Belvidere. His features wero of tho Grecian cast - forehead and nose formed a straight line - and his large blue, sincero eyos showed a singular combination of composure, stemness, Bclf-relianco, and prido, among which it would have boen difflcult for the observer to name tho predominant expression. Thosc who would have lookod closely and attentively into those remarkablu eyes would havu easily boliovod that their throatoning glancos would suffice to suppre a ïebellion, to terrify and disarin a murderer, or to frighton away a supplicant ; but there would bave been but few to bellievo that tho sternnoss in those eyes could over be so entirelv softened as to beam forth nothing but love and tenderness. Among these few was, hertrever, tho young Prnssian princess who had drunk deep in their intoxicating fervor. It is true that sho was tho only person in the world in whoso presence the Olympian gravity of his gravity of his features gave way to a radiant oheerfuluoss, whioii made his jininly beauty perfeetly irresistible. In such moments his magnificent brow, always the seat of meditation and thought, oxhibited tho extremo beauty and Attic giraco of a young Athenian - the serious lY-riclcs soemed, by the invisihle wand oi a magician, to havo been transforuioü into the youthful Alcibiades. Such is the fiattering portrait which his contemporaries havo drawn of the personal appearanco of tho Grand Duke Xicholus at tho time of his arrival at Borlin. At that time, however, tho matoMeos peñón! charme of tho grand duke wore not enhanced by politieal prospecta of the most cx:ilt"d character. Ho was not oven eveiituully considerad an heir to the imperial crown of Bussia. It is truc, Alexuiider the First. Me brothor, hud 110 childriTi, but in the caso of his doath, whir.h could not bo expeoted soon, tho Grand Duke Constantino was to inhorit the thröne óf Peter the Orsat, and lcave to i inlas it bost but the position of a first prinofl of the blood. Novertheloss, Frederick William, cliannod alike by tho beauty and intellect of bis gueet, and by the bope of unitiug the soTereigpi houses m' l'rus.-ia and Bnsaia by the close ties of a family union, greeted thu prospeot of a uiarriage betwoen tlio grand duke and his daughter with enthusiasm, espeoially when he discorored that the young folks themselves wcre very fond of each other. The Eöng thon delicatcly insinuated to lúa daughtet that if aha had taken a lifcüut to the grand duke, and had reason to boliovo that the prinoe entertained similar feelings toward her, their marriage would meet with no objuction ou hij part. But tho young prinoess, althoufjh seoretly delighting in u hoijo which so fully responded to the seeret wishes of hir lieart, was either too proud or too bashful to confsKS to her father lior love for the grand duke, who liad not yet niado any declaration to her. In this mannor the day approachod on which the graad duko was tu leavo Borliu. Ou tho eve of ''is depaxture a grand gala supper was given in his honor at the royal palacc, and the young Princess Charlotte was seatod by the sido of hor ili.-i iuguished admirer. Tho giand duke was uncommonly taeituru during tho ovoning. His high forehead was cloudod, and his gloomy eya sei'iucd to follow in the spaco vague phantüiiis flitting befoze hi.s iiuagiuation. llopoatedly he negloctod to nnswer quostions addressed to him, aud wheo lio was asked to rcspoud tu a toast whioh onc of the royal princos had proposed in his favor, he seemed to awake front a profound dream wMoh had ontirely withdrawn him from his surroundings. Suddcnly a,s if by a mighty effort of his will, ho tuvnod to his fair neighbor, and vrhispered so as only to bc undorstood by her: " So I shall leave Berlin to-morrow ! " He pauscd abruptly and lookod at tho Princess as if ho was waiting for an answor which cxpressod sorrow and grief on her part. But the Princess was fully as proud as tho grand duke, and ovoiooming tho violent throbbing of her heart, she said politely to him : " We are very sorry to Sfc your imperial highness loavo us so Boon. Would it not have been possiblo for yon to defer your departura 'i " " You will all be very sorry ? " nuii fcered the grand duke, not entirely satisfied with the vagueness and sorrow which these words of tho princess implied. " But you in particular, madame ! " he added after 8omo Lesitation, 'for it will depend on you alone whethér I shall rtay hore or dnpart." " Ah ! " replied Charlotte, with her Bweetest smile, " and what have T to do to to keep your imperial highness here 't " '" You must piiniit me to adai'css my admiration and homage to you." " And you must also encourage me to piense you." " ïhat is much more difficult,' said the prineess with a deep blush, but at the same time her eyes beamed forth so mueh affection and delight that the prince eould seo at a glance that his fondest hopes had been realized before hand. " During my short stay at Berlín," the grand duke continued, in the same tone of voice, " I have taken pains to study your character and your atfections, and this study has satisfied me that you would render mo very happy, while on the other hand I havo some qualities which would secure your own happiness." The princess was overeóme by emotion, and in her contusión did not know what to answer. At last, sho said : " But here in the presence of the whole court, at the public table, you put such a question to me ! " " Oh," replied the prince, " you need not make any verbal reply. It will be sufficient for you to give me somo pledge of your affection. I seo there on your hand a small ring whose possession would Inake me very happy. Give it to me." ■■What O you think of ? Here in the ijrosenoe of a hundred spectators P " Ah, it eau be easy done without bemg socn by anybody. Now we are chatting so quietly with each other that thore is not one araong the guosts who suspect in ■ the least wliat wo are speaking a.bout. Press tho ring into a inorsel of bread, and leave it on the table. I will take tho talisman, and nobody will notice it." " ïhis ring is really a talisman." " I expocted so. jilay I hopo to hear its history 'i " "Whynot? My first governess was a Swiss lady by tho name of Wildermatt. Once sho went to Switzerland in order to enter upon an inheritMOe whioh had been bequeathed to her by a distant relativo. When she camc back to Berlín, a few weeks afterward, she showud me quite a colloctiou of pretty and costly jowolry, which forinod part of the inhoritance. " ïhis is a curious old ring," said I to her as I put the old fashioned littlc ring on niy finger. " Does it look queer and cunning 'i Perhaps it is an old rolic or talisman, and niay have beon worn centuries ago by a pious lady who had received it trom hof knight, starting for ;he Holy Land." I triuu to take the ring rom my iinger again, but I could not get it off, for I was a little fltthier fchen han now," said Charlotte, sinilingly. ' il y governoss insisted on my kcoping ,he ring as a souTenir. I acoepted hor iresent, and the ring has boon on my inger over since. Somo tiine afterward, when I was contemplating its strange workmanship, I succuoded in imlling i 'rom niy finger, and was much surprised at sooing eugravod on the inside some words which, though nearly rabbfid out by the wear of time, were still legible. ÏSow, your imperial highncss, what do you think were tho words engraved upon it ? I think when you hear thom you will tako some interest in the ring." " Ah '. and pray wliat were thcy ? " Tho words ciigraved upon tho inside were, " Empress of ltussia." Xhis ring had undoubtedly boen prosented by an Empress uf Ilussia to tho relativo of Mrs. Wildermatt, for I was told that both this lady and hor mother had formerly bó"longod to tho housohold ot' the Ozariuo, your august gnmdmother," " This is really rcmarkablo," said tho grand duko, thoughtfully. " I am quite suporstitious; and I am really inclined to rogai-d this ring, if I should be happy onough to roceivo it from you as a pledge of your lavo;, as ali onieii of öry aüsplcioils signifioance." Iii answor to this socond and even more direct áppeal to her hoart, tho princess took a 6mall piece of bresid, playod carelessly with it; and managed tó press . the ring deep into tho soft crumbs. Thcn sho dropped it oarolossly on tho tablo quite close to the plate of hor neighbor. And at'ter this adroit exhibition of her skill as an actress she coatinued to eat as unconconiodly as if sho had pcrfonned tho most insignificant action of hor life. Witli tho sumo apparont coolness and indift'orcnee tho grand duke pioked "p tho bread inclosing tho wring, took the liittor out of its ingenieus envelop;', and coneealed it in his brenst, fot it was too small to fit any of his fingers. It was this ring - both the pledgo of Charlotto's luw hihI tho nuspicious omen oi' his own olcvation to the imperial dignity - whioh Nioholas woro on i (jolden ohain aioiind his aeok to tho vory day of his Ijle, and whioh, if WO aro nut mistaken, has oven deeoe&ded with hiin into the vault of liis ancestors. Three years af tor, in 1 S 1 7, Prineess Charlotte then only nineteen vean of age, and in thé fuli iplendoi; of beauty and happiniiss, made hor entry into St. Petersburg by the side of her husband, whoseeye had oever lookod proudar, and whoso Olympian brow had uevoríbeen moresorone than at thisliappiest moment of his life. As hc lookod down upon tho vast ïnultitude wlio had flockod together from all parts of tho vast, empire to groet tho young priuoess with shouts and rejoioings, anl thon agiiin upon his fair young brido, perhaps the inscription of the ring reourred to his mind ; for bonding his heal quito closo to the ear of Charlotte, he whisporod, " Now empross of tho hearts, and somc day perhaps euipress of tho realm." At this moment tho prooossion roachod tho main outrance of tho Winter' Palace, whero Alexandor the First, the Emperor, surrounded by a brilliant suite of generáis and courtiers, came to meet his beautiful sistor-in-law, and conduotod hor into tho sumptuous drawing-rooms of the magnificont palace of the Ctosars. Who would heliere that oight short yoars afttirward the brilliant young Emperor wonld breatho his last, and that Nicholas and Charlotte would succeed him on the throne of liussia P Truly tho inscription of the engagement ring had proven prophetic.


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