At last the two couriers were called upon to come face to face and decide these important questions. Strong men lifted them upon their shoulders and brought them together; a profound and fearful silence ensued, every man felt that he stood upon the eve of a mighty revelation; fifty thousand men were waiting breathlessly for news of happiness beyond compare, or of unspeakable woe. The conversation of the two horsemen standing upon the shoulders of their townsmen was quick and laconic.
"At what hour did the king send you off?" said the fourth courier to the fifth.
"At six. The king himself commissioned me"
"Where stood our army at that time?" said the fourth courier.
"They stood before the hollow ground, and the Russians had withdrawn to the intrenchments of Zudenberg; we had taken a hundred and twenty cannon, and many of our soldiers were wandering about the battle- field looking at the batteries they had taken." [Footnote: Bodman.]
"Yes," said the fourth courier, sadly, "that was at six, but at seven we were in full flight. Loudon had risen from the ground, and the frightened, conquered Russians had recovered themselves. You left at six, I at eight; I have ridden more rapidly than you. Unhappily, I am right, the battle is lost!"
"The battle is lost!" howled the people; "the king is also lost! Woe! woe!"
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!"