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The Memorable Assassination
by [?]

It was noon, now. Two hours of stillness and waiting followed. Then carriages began to flow past and deliver the two and three hundred court personages and high nobilities privileged to enter the church. Then the square filled up; not with civilians, but with army and navy officers in showy and beautiful uniforms. They filled it compactly, leaving only a narrow carriage path in front of the church, but there was no civilian among them. And it was better so; dull clothes would have marred the radiant spectacle. In the jam in front of the church, on its steps, and on the sidewalk was a bunch of uniforms which made a blazing splotch of color–intense red, gold, and white–which dimmed the brilliancies around them; and opposite them on the other side of the path was a bunch of cascaded bright-green plumes above pale-blue shoulders which made another splotch of splendor emphatic and conspicuous in its glowing surroundings. It was a sea of flashing color all about, but these two groups were the high notes. The green plumes were worn by forty or fifty Austrian generals, the group opposite them were chiefly Knights of Malta and knights of a German order. The mass of heads in the square were covered by gilt helmets and by military caps roofed with a mirror-like gaze, and the movements of the wearers caused these things to catch the sun-rays, and the effect was fine to see–the square was like a garden of richly colored flowers with a multitude of blinding and flashing little suns distributed over it.

Think of it–it was by command of that Italian loafer yonder on his imperial throne in the Geneva prison that this splendid multitude was assembled there; and the kings and emperors that were entering the church from a side street were there by his will. It is so strange, so unrealizable.

At three o’clock the carriages were still streaming by in single file. At three-five a cardinal arrives with his attendants; later some bishops; then a number of archdeacons–all in striking colors that add to the show. At three-ten a procession of priests passed along, with crucifix. Another one, presently; after an interval, two more; at three-fifty another one–very long, with many crosses, gold-embroidered robes, and much white lace; also great pictured banners, at intervals, receding into the distance.

A hum of tolling bells makes itself heard, but not sharply. At three-fifty-eight a waiting interval. Presently a long procession of gentlemen in evening dress comes in sight and approaches until it is near to the square, then falls back against the wall of soldiers at the sidewalk, and the white shirt-fronts show like snowflakes and are very conspicuous where so much warm color is all about.

A waiting pause. At four-twelve the head of the funeral procession comes into view at last. First, a body of cavalry, four abreast, to widen the path. Next, a great body of lancers, in blue, with gilt helmets. Next, three six-horse mourning- coaches; outriders and coachmen in black, with cocked hats and white wigs. Next, troops in splendid uniforms, red, gold, and white, exceedingly showy.

Now the multitude uncover. The soldiers present arms; there is a low rumble of drums; the sumptuous great hearse approaches, drawn at a walk by eight black horses plumed with black bunches of nodding ostrich feathers; the coffin is borne into the church, the doors are closed.

The multitude cover their heads, and the rest of the procession moves by; first the Hungarian Guard in their indescribably brilliant and picturesque and beautiful uniform, inherited from the ages of barbaric splendor, and after them other mounted forces, a long and showy array.

Then the shining crown in the square crumbled apart, a wrecked rainbow, and melted away in radiant streams, and in the turn of a wrist the three dirtiest and raggedest and cheerfulest little slum-girls in Austria were capering about in the spacious vacancy. It was a day of contrasts.

Twice the Empress entered Vienna in state. The first time was in 1854, when she was a bride of seventeen, and then she rode in measureless pomp and with blare of music through a fluttering world of gay flags and decorations, down streets walled on both hands with a press of shouting and welcoming subjects; and the second time was last Wednesday, when she entered the city in her coffin and moved down the same streets in the dead of the night under swaying black flags, between packed human walls again; but everywhere was a deep stillness, now–a stillness emphasized, rather than broken, by the muffled hoofbeats of the long cavalcade over pavements cushioned with sand, and the low sobbing of gray-headed women who had witnessed the first entry forty-four years before, when she and they were young–and unaware!

A character in Baron von Berger’s recent fairy drama “Habsburg” tells about the first coming of the girlish Empress- Queen, and in his history draws a fine picture: I cannot make a close translation of it, but will try to convey the spirit of the verses:

I saw the stately pageant pass:
In her high place I saw the Empress-Queen:
I could not take my eyes away
From that fair vision, spirit-like and pure,
That rose serene, sublime, and figured to my sense
A noble Alp far lighted in the blue,
That in the flood of morning rends its veil of cloud
And stands a dream of glory to the gaze
Of them that in the Valley toil and plod.