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The next morning Frederick hastened to greet his sister. Wilhelmina was not pleased with his appearance. The cares of his new reign entirely engrossed his mind. The dignity of an absolute king did not sit gracefully upon him. Though ostentatiously demonstrative in his greeting, the delicate instincts of Wilhelmina taught her that her brothers caresses were heartless. He was just recovering from a fit of the ague, and looked emaciate and sallow. The court was in mourning. During those funereal days no festivities could be indulged in. The queen-mother was decorously melancholy; she seems to have been not only disappointed, but excessively chagrined, to find that she was excluded by her son from the slightest influence in public affairs. The distant, arrogant, and assuming airs of the young king soon rendered him unpopular. M. le President,I have had the honor to receive your letter. You inform me that you are well, and that, if I publish La Beaumelles letter,97 you will come and assassinate me. What ingratitude to your poor Doctor Akakia! If you exalt your soul so as to discern futurity, you will see that, if you come on that errand to Leipsic, where you are no better liked than in other places, you will run some risk of being hanged. Poor me, indeed, you will find in bed. But, as soon as I have gained a little strength, I will have my pistols charged, and, multiplying the394 mass by the square of velocity, so as to reduce the action and you to zero, I will put some lead into your head. It appears that you have need of it. Adieu, my president.
Feeling that this was no time to argue with Astra, Bergan turned to the table, which was littered with drawings and sketches, plaster reliefs, and small clay models, to a degree that implied no lack of patient industry, despite the want of encouragement, and the absence of faith.
"It strikes me that a man must needs judge things beforehand, where his own conscience is concerned," observed Mrs. Bergan, thoughtfully. "You would not expect him to act first, and decide afterward whether he had done right or wrong."
Chapter 7 OVERBURDENED.
Frederick was elated with his victory. He had taken three thousand three hundred prisoners, twenty-one cannon, and twenty-two standards. He had added to the renown of his name, and strengthened his hold upon Silesia.
Heir is a gallant enough young gentleman. Frederick judges that he probably will have haggled to sign any Austrian convention for dismemberment of Baiern, and that he will start into life upon it so soon as he sees hope.