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Leaving a sufficient force to garrison Glogau, the king ordered247 all the remaining regiments to be distributed among the other important posts; while Prince Leopold, in high favor, joined the king at Schweidnitz, to assist in the siege of Neisse. Frederick rapidly concentrated his forces for the capture of Neisse before the Austrian army should march for its relief. He thought that the Austrians would not be able to take the field before the snow should disappear and the new spring grass should come, affording forage for their horses.
The attack was made about eight oclock, with the whole concentrated force of the Prussians, upon the southwest wing of the quadrilateral. The carnage produced by the Prussian batteries, as their balls swept crosswise through the massed Russians, was terrible. One cannon-shot struck down forty-two men. For a moment the Prussians were thrown into confusion by the destructive fire returned by the foe, and seemed discomfited. The Russians plunged wildly forward, with loud huzzas. In the eagerness of their onset their lines were broken.In the mean time, Wilhelmina, disappointed in not finding her brother, wrote to him the following account of her adventures:
"Things answer to names," she rejoined, quickly; "and if Doctor Remy to call a providence a chance, for instance, let him not wonder if it prove a chanceto him."
Astra looked at him with soft, smiling, amused eyes. "Heartfree! As much as I am," said she.There is nothing left for us, my dear lord, but to mingle and blend our weeping for the losses we have had. If my head were a fountain of tears, it would not suffice for the grief I feel.
In the court of the czarina there was a very handsome young Pole, Stanislaus Poniatowski, who had been an acknowledged lover of Catharine. Though Catharine had laid him aside for other favorites, she still regarded him with tender feelings. He was just the man to do her bidding. By skillful diplomacy she542 caused him to be elected King of Poland. That kingdom was now entirely in her hands, so far as it was in the power of its monarch to place it there.He led the way to a small room, pleasantly furnished as a library; and Bergan followed him, though not without a vague sense of a lurking reluctance and lukewarmness in the invitation,which he sternly smothered, nevertheless, as unworthy of himself and unjust to his uncle.