"Princess, Trenck lives--he is in chains--he is in a hole under the earth--but he lives, and as long as he has life, he hopes in you-- has wild dreams of liberty, and his friends think and hope with him. Trenck has friends who are ready to offer up their lives for him. One of them is in the fortress of Magdeburg--he is lieutenant of the guard; another is a Captain Kimsky, prisoner of war; I am a third. I have known Trenck since my youth. In our beautiful days of mirth and revelry, we swore to stand by each other in every danger. The moment has come to fulfil my oath--Trenck is a prisoner, and I must help to liberate him. Our numbers are few and dismembered--we need allies in the fortress, and still more in the city. We need powerful assistance, and no one but your highness can obtain it for us."
"I have an assured and confidential friend in Magdeburg," said the princess; "at a hint from me he will be ready to stand by you to--"
Suddenly she was silent, and cast a searching, threatening glance at Ranuzi. She had been too often deceived and circumvented--snares had been too often laid at her feet--she was distrustful. "No, no," said she, at last, sternly, rudely--"I will take no part in this folly. Go, sir--go. You are a poor soothsayer, and I will have nothing to do with you."
Ranuzi smiled, and drew a folded paper from his bosom, which he handed to the princess. It contained these words: "Count Ranuzi is an honest man--he can be trusted unconditionally." Under these words was written: "Nel tue giorni felici, vicordati da me."
The breast of Amelia heaved convulsively--she gazed at these written characters; at last her eyes filled with tears--at last her heart was overcome by those painful and passionate feelings which she had so long kept in bondage. She pressed the paper, the lines on which were written with his blood, to her lips, and hot tears gushed from those poor eyes which for long, long years, had lost the power to weep.
"Now, sir," said she, "I believe in you, I trust you. Tell me what I have to do."
"Three things fail us, princess: A house in Magdeburg, where Trenck's friends can meet at all hours, and make all necessary preparations, and where he can be concealed after his escape. Secondly, a few reliable and confiding friends, who will unite with us and aid us. Thirdly, we must have gold--we must bribe the guard, we must buy horses, we must buy friends in the fortress, and lastly, we must buy French clothing. Besides this, I must have permission to go for a few days to Magdeburg, and there on the spot I can better make the final preparations. A fair pretext shall not fail me for this; Captain Kimsky is my near relative--he will be taken suddenly ill, and as a dying request he will beg to see me; one of his comrades will bring me notice of this, and I will turn imploringly to your highness."
"I will obtain you a passport," said Amelia, decisively.