At this moment the royal equipages were seen making their way slowly through the crowd, and the advance guard were praying the people to open a way for the travelling carriages to reach the castle. These words excited new alarm. "We are lost! Let us fly, let us fly! The court, the queen, and the princesses flee--let us save ourselves! The Russians will come to Berlin--they will annihilate us. We are deserted and lost, lost!--no one knows where our king is!"
As if driven by madness, the crowds rushed against each other, like the sea when it divides, and in billowy streams pours itself out here and there; and the cry of anguish which now rang out from the castle square, found its echo in every street and every house.
The cannon were silenced, the discharges of musketry had ceased. On the great plain of Kunersdorf, where, a few hours before, a bloody battle had been raging, all was quiet. Could this be called repose? How cruel was the tranquillity which rested now upon this fearful battle-field!
It was the peace of death--the stillness which the awful messenger of Heaven presses as a sign and seal of his love upon the pale lips of the dead. Happy they whose immortal spirits were quickly wafted away by the dread kiss--they no longer suffer. Woe to those who yet live, though they belong to death, and who lie surrounded by grinning corpses! The cold bodies of their comrades are the pillows upon which they lay their bloody heads. The groans of the dying form the awful melody which awakes them to consciousness; and the, starry sky of this clear, transparent summer night is the only eye of love which bows down to them and looks upon them in their agony.
Happy those whom the murderous sword and the crushing ball carried off in an instant to the land of spirits! Woe, woe to those lying upon the battle-field, living, breathing, conscious of their defeat and of their great agony! Woe! woe! for they hear the sound of the tramping and neighing of horses--they come nearer and nearer. The moon throws the long, dark shadows of those advancing horse-men over the battle-field. It is fearful to see their rash approach; spurring over thousands of pale corpses, not regarding the dying, who breathe out their last piteous sighs under the hoofs of these wild horses.
The Cossack has no pity; he does not shudder or draw back from this monstrous open grave, which has received thousands of men as if they were one great corpse. The Cossack has come to rob and to plunder; he spares neither friend nor foe. He is the heir of the dead and of the dying, and he has come for his inheritance. If he sees a ring sparkling upon the hand of a grinning corpse, he springs from his horse and tears it off. If his greedy, cruel eye rests upon a rich uniform he seizes it, he tears it off from the bleeding, wounded body, no matter whether it is dead or still breathing and rattling.
Look at that warrior who, groaning with anguish, his limbs torn to pieces, bleeding from a thousand wounds, is lying in an open grave; he is wounded to death; he still holds his sword in his left hand-- his right arm has been torn off by a cannon-ball, a shot that he might not be trampled upon by the horses' hoofs; they are forced to leave him in the hands of God and to the mercy of man.
But the Cossack knows no mercy. That is a word he has never heard in his Russian home; he has no fear of God before his eyes--he fears the Czar and his captain, and above all other things, he fears the knout. He knows nothing of pity, for it has never been shown him-- how then should he exercise it?