Robert Louis Stevenson
Part 1 out of 4
Prince Otto by Robert Louis Stevenson, 1905 edition. Scanned and
proofed by David Price, email email@example.com
PRINCE OTTO - A ROMANCE
TO NELLY VAN DE GRIFT
(MRS. ADULFO SANCHEZ, OF MONTEREY)
AT last, after so many years, I have the pleasure of re-introducing
you to 'Prince Otto,' whom you will remember a very little fellow,
no bigger in fact than a few sheets of memoranda written for me by
your kind hand. The sight of his name will carry you back to an old
wooden house embowered in creepers; a house that was far gone in the
respectable stages of antiquity and seemed indissoluble from the
green garden in which it stood, and that yet was a sea-traveller in
its younger days, and had come round the Horn piecemeal in the belly
of a ship, and might have heard the seamen stamping and shouting and
the note of the boatswain's whistle. It will recall to you the
nondescript inhabitants now so widely scattered:- the two horses,
the dog, and the four cats, some of them still looking in your face
as you read these lines; - the poor lady, so unfortunately married
to an author; - the China boy, by this time, perhaps, baiting his
line by the banks of a river in the Flowery Land; - and in
particular the Scot who was then sick apparently unto death, and
whom you did so much to cheer and keep in good behaviour.
You may remember that he was full of ambitions and designs: so soon
as he had his health again completely, you may remember the fortune
he was to earn, the journeys he was to go upon, the delights he was
to enjoy and confer, and (among other matters) the masterpiece he
was to make of 'Prince Otto'!
Well, we will not give in that we are finally beaten. We read
together in those days the story of Braddock, and how, as he was
carried dying from the scene of his defeat, he promised himself to
do better another time: a story that will always touch a brave
heart, and a dying speech worthy of a more fortunate commander. I
try to be of Braddock's mind. I still mean to get my health again;
I still purpose, by hook or crook, this book or the next, to launch
a masterpiece; and I still intend - somehow, some time or other - to
see your face and to hold your hand.
Meanwhile, this little paper traveller goes forth instead, crosses
the great seas and the long plains and the dark mountains, and comes
at last to your door in Monterey, charged with tender greetings.
Pray you, take him in. He comes from a house where (even as in your
own) there are gathered together some of the waifs of our company at
Oakland: a house - for all its outlandish Gaelic name and distant
station - where you are well-beloved.
R. L. S.
BOOK I - PRINCE ERRANT
CHAPTER I - IN WHICH THE PRINCE DEPARTS ON AN ADVENTURE
You shall seek in vain upon the map of Europe for the bygone state
of Grunewald. An independent principality, an infinitesimal member
of the German Empire, she played, for several centuries, her part in
the discord of Europe; and, at last, in the ripeness of time and at
the spiriting of several bald diplomatists, vanished like a morning
ghost. Less fortunate than Poland, she left not a regret behind
her; and the very memory of her boundaries has faded.
It was a patch of hilly country covered with thick wood. Many
streams took their beginning in the glens of Grunewald, turning
mills for the inhabitants. There was one town, Mittwalden, and many
brown, wooden hamlets, climbing roof above roof, along the steep
bottom of dells, and communicating by covered bridges over the
larger of the torrents. The hum of watermills, the splash of
running water, the clean odour of pine sawdust, the sound and smell
of the pleasant wind among the innumerable army of the mountain
pines, the dropping fire of huntsmen, the dull stroke of the wood-
axe, intolerable roads, fresh trout for supper in the clean bare
chamber of an inn, and the song of birds and the music of the
village-bells - these were the recollections of the Grunewald
North and east the foothills of Grunewald sank with varying profile
into a vast plain. On these sides many small states bordered with
the principality, Gerolstein, an extinct grand duchy, among the
number. On the south it marched with the comparatively powerful
kingdom of Seaboard Bohemia, celebrated for its flowers and mountain
bears, and inhabited by a people of singular simplicity and
tenderness of heart. Several intermarriages had, in the course of
centuries, united the crowned families of Grunewald and Maritime
Bohemia; and the last Prince of Grunewald, whose history I purpose
to relate, drew his descent through Perdita, the only daughter of
King Florizel the First of Bohemia. That these intermarriages had
in some degree mitigated the rough, manly stock of the first
Grunewalds, was an opinion widely held within the borders of the
principality. The charcoal burner, the mountain sawyer, the wielder
of the broad axe among the congregated pines of Grunewald, proud of
their hard hands, proud of their shrewd ignorance and almost savage
lore, looked with an unfeigned contempt on the soft character and
manners of the sovereign race.
The precise year of grace in which this tale begins shall be left to
the conjecture of the reader. But for the season of the year
(which, in such a story, is the more important of the two) it was
already so far forward in the spring, that when mountain people
heard horns echoing all day about the north-west corner of the
principality, they told themselves that Prince Otto and his hunt
were up and out for the last time till the return of autumn.
At this point the borders of Grunewald descend somewhat steeply,
here and there breaking into crags; and this shaggy and trackless
country stands in a bold contrast to the cultivated plain below. It
was traversed at that period by two roads alone; one, the imperial
highway, bound to Brandenau in Gerolstein, descended the slope
obliquely and by the easiest gradients. The other ran like a fillet
across the very forehead of the hills, dipping into savage gorges,
and wetted by the spray of tiny waterfalls. Once it passed beside a
certain tower or castle, built sheer upon the margin of a formidable
cliff, and commanding a vast prospect of the skirts of Grunewald and
the busy plains of Gerolstein. The Felsenburg (so this tower was
called) served now as a prison, now as a hunting-seat; and for all
it stood so lonesome to the naked eye, with the aid of a good glass
the burghers of Brandenau could count its windows from the lime-tree
terrace where they walked at night.
In the wedge of forest hillside enclosed between the roads, the
horns continued all day long to scatter tumult; and at length, as
the sun began to draw near to the horizon of the plain, a rousing
triumph announced the slaughter of the quarry. The first and second
huntsman had drawn somewhat aside, and from the summit of a knoll
gazed down before them on the drooping shoulders of the hill and
across the expanse of plain. They covered their eyes, for the sun
was in their faces. The glory of its going down was somewhat pale.
Through the confused tracery of many thousands of naked poplars, the
smoke of so many houses, and the evening steam ascending from the
fields, the sails of a windmill on a gentle eminence moved very
conspicuously, like a donkey's ears. And hard by, like an open
gash, the imperial high-road ran straight sun-ward, an artery of
There is one of nature's spiritual ditties, that has not yet been
set to words or human music: 'The Invitation to the Road'; an air
continually sounding in the ears of gipsies, and to whose
inspiration our nomadic fathers journeyed all their days. The hour,
the season, and the scene, all were in delicate accordance. The air
was full of birds of passage, steering westward and northward over
Grunewald, an army of specks to the up-looking eye. And below, the
great practicable road was bound for the same quarter.
But to the two horsemen on the knoll this spiritual ditty was
unheard. They were, indeed, in some concern of mind, scanning every
fold of the subjacent forest, and betraying both anger and dismay in
their impatient gestures.
'I do not see him, Kuno,' said the first huntsman, 'nowhere - not a
trace, not a hair of the mare's tail! No, sir, he's off; broke
cover and got away. Why, for twopence I would hunt him with the
'Mayhap, he's gone home,' said Kuno, but without conviction.
'Home!' sneered the other. 'I give him twelve days to get home.
No, it's begun again; it's as it was three years ago, before he
married; a disgrace! Hereditary prince, hereditary fool! There
goes the government over the borders on a grey mare. What's that?
No, nothing - no, I tell you, on my word, I set more store by a good
gelding or an English dog. That for your Otto!'
'He's not my Otto,' growled Kuno.
'Then I don't know whose he is,' was the retort.
'You would put your hand in the fire for him to-morrow,' said Kuno,
'Me!' cried the huntsman. 'I would see him hanged! I'm a Grunewald
patriot - enrolled, and have my medal, too; and I would help a
prince! I'm for liberty and Gondremark.'
'Well, it's all one,' said Kuno. 'If anybody said what you said,
you would have his blood, and you know it.'
'You have him on the brain,' retorted his companion. 'There he
goes!' he cried, the next moment.
And sure enough, about a mile down the mountain, a rider on a white
horse was seen to flit rapidly across a heathy open and vanish among
the trees on the farther side.
'In ten minutes he'll be over the border into Gerolstein,' said
Kuno. 'It's past cure.'
'Well, if he founders that mare, I'll never forgive him,' added the
other, gathering his reins.
And as they turned down from the knoll to rejoin their comrades, the
sun dipped and disappeared, and the woods fell instantly into the
gravity and greyness of the early night.
CHAPTER II - IN WHICH THE PRINCE PLAYS HAROUN-AL-RASCHID
THE night fell upon the Prince while he was threading green tracks
in the lower valleys of the wood; and though the stars came out
overhead and displayed the interminable order of the pine-tree
pyramids, regular and dark like cypresses, their light was of small
service to a traveller in such lonely paths, and from thenceforth he
rode at random. The austere face of nature, the uncertain issue of
his course, the open sky and the free air, delighted him like wine;
and the hoarse chafing of a river on his left sounded in his ears
It was past eight at night before his toil was rewarded and he
issued at last out of the forest on the firm white high-road. It
lay downhill before him, with a sweeping eastward trend, faintly
bright between the thickets; and Otto paused and gazed upon it. So
it ran, league after league, still joining others, to the farthest
ends of Europe, there skirting the sea-surge, here gleaming in the
lights of cities; and the innumerable army of tramps and travellers
moved upon it in all lands as by a common impulse, and were now in
all places drawing near to the inn door and the night's rest. The
pictures swarmed and vanished in his brain; a surge of temptation, a
beat of all his blood, went over him, to set spur to the mare and to
go on into the unknown for ever. And then it passed away; hunger
and fatigue, and that habit of middling actions which we call common
sense, resumed their empire; and in that changed mood his eye
lighted upon two bright windows on his left hand, between the road
He turned off by a by-road, and in a few minutes he was knocking
with his whip on the door of a large farmhouse, and a chorus of dogs
from the farmyard were making angry answer. A very tall, old,
white-headed man came, shading a candle, at the summons. He had
been of great strength in his time, and of a handsome countenance;
but now he was fallen away, his teeth were quite gone, and his voice
when he spoke was broken and falsetto.
'You will pardon me,' said Otto. 'I am a traveller and have
entirely lost my way.'
'Sir,' said the old man, in a very stately, shaky manner, 'you are
at the River Farm, and I am Killian Gottesheim, at your disposal.
We are here, sir, at about an equal distance from Mittwalden in
Grunewald and Brandenau in Gerolstein: six leagues to either, and
the road excellent; but there is not a wine bush, not a carter's
alehouse, anywhere between. You will have to accept my hospitality
for the night; rough hospitality, to which I make you freely
welcome; for, sir,' he added with a bow, 'it is God who sends the
'Amen. And I most heartily thank you,' replied Otto, bowing in his
'Fritz,' said the old man, turning towards the interior, 'lead round
this gentleman's horse; and you, sir, condescend to enter.'
Otto entered a chamber occupying the greater part of the ground-
floor of the building. It had probably once been divided; for the
farther end was raised by a long step above the nearer, and the
blazing fire and the white supper-table seemed to stand upon a dais.
All around were dark, brass-mounted cabinets and cupboards; dark
shelves carrying ancient country crockery; guns and antlers and
broadside ballads on the wall; a tall old clock with roses on the
dial; and down in one corner the comfortable promise of a wine
barrel. It was homely, elegant, and quaint.
A powerful youth hurried out to attend on the grey mare; and when
Mr. Killian Gottesheim had presented him to his daughter Ottilia,
Otto followed to the stable as became, not perhaps the Prince, but
the good horseman. When he returned, a smoking omelette and some
slices of home-cured ham were waiting him; these were followed by a
ragout and a cheese; and it was not until his guest had entirely
satisfied his hunger, and the whole party drew about the fire over
the wine jug, that Killian Gottesheim's elaborate courtesy permitted
him to address a question to the Prince.
'You have perhaps ridden far, sir?' he inquired.
'I have, as you say, ridden far,' replied Otto; 'and, as you have
seen, I was prepared to do justice to your daughters cookery.'
'Possibly, sir, from the direction of Brandenau?' continued Killian.
'Precisely: and I should have slept to-night, had I not wandered, in
Mittwalden,' answered the Prince, weaving in a patch of truth,
according to the habit of all liars.
'Business leads you to Mittwalden?' was the next question.
'Mere curiosity,' said Otto. 'I have never yet visited the
principality of Grunewald.'
'A pleasant state, sir,' piped the old man, nodding, 'a very
pleasant state, and a fine race, both pines and people. We reckon
ourselves part Grunewalders here, lying so near the borders; and the
river there is all good Grunewald water, every drop of it. Yes,
sir, a fine state. A man of Grunewald now will swing me an axe over
his head that many a man of Gerolstein could hardly lift; and the
pines, why, deary me, there must be more pines in that little state,
sir, than people in this whole big world. 'Tis twenty years now
since I crossed the marshes, for we grow home-keepers in old age;
but I mind it as if it was yesterday. Up and down, the road keeps
right on from here to Mittwalden; and nothing all the way but the
good green pine-trees, big and little, and water-power! water-power
at every step, sir. We once sold a bit of forest, up there beside
the high-road; and the sight of minted money that we got for it has
set me ciphering ever since what all the pines in Grunewald would
'I suppose you see nothing of the Prince?' inquired Otto.
'No,' said the young man, speaking for the first time, 'nor want
'Why so? is he so much disliked?' asked Otto.
'Not what you might call disliked,' replied the old gentleman, 'but
'Indeed,' said the Prince, somewhat faintly.
'Yes, sir, despised,' nodded Killian, filling a long pipe, 'and, to
my way of thinking, justly despised. Here is a man with great
opportunities, and what does he do with them? He hunts, and he
dresses very prettily - which is a thing to be ashamed of in a man -
and he acts plays; and if he does aught else, the news of it has not
'Yet these are all innocent,' said Otto. 'What would you have him
do - make war?'
'No, sir,' replied the old man. 'But here it is; I have been fifty
years upon this River Farm, and wrought in it, day in, day out; I
have ploughed and sowed and reaped, and risen early, and waked late;
and this is the upshot: that all these years it has supported me and
my family; and been the best friend that ever I had, set aside my
wife; and now, when my time comes, I leave it a better farm than
when I found it. So it is, if a man works hearty in the order of
nature, he gets bread and he receives comfort, and whatever he
touches breeds. And it humbly appears to me, if that Prince was to
labour on his throne, as I have laboured and wrought in my farm, he
would find both an increase and a blessing.'
'I believe with you, sir,' Otto said; 'and yet the parallel is
inexact. For the farmer's life is natural and simple; but the
prince's is both artificial and complicated. It is easy to do right
in the one, and exceedingly difficult not to do wrong in the other.
If your crop is blighted, you can take off your bonnet and say,
"God's will be done"; but if the prince meets with a reverse, he may
have to blame himself for the attempt. And perhaps, if all the
kings in Europe were to confine themselves to innocent amusement,
the subjects would be the better off.'
'Ay,' said the young man Fritz, 'you are in the right of it there.
That was a true word spoken. And I see you are like me, a good
patriot and an enemy to princes.'
Otto was somewhat abashed at this deduction, and he made haste to
change his ground. 'But,' said he, 'you surprise me by what you say
of this Prince Otto. I have heard him, I must own, more favourably
painted. I was told he was, in his heart, a good fellow, and the
enemy of no one but himself.'
'And so he is, sir,' said the girl, 'a very handsome, pleasant
prince; and we know some who would shed their blood for him.'
'O! Kuno!' said Fritz. 'An ignoramus!'
'Ay, Kuno, to be sure,' quavered the old farmer. 'Well, since this
gentleman is a stranger to these parts, and curious about the
Prince, I do believe that story might divert him. This Kuno, you
must know, sir, is one of the hunt servants, and a most ignorant,
intemperate man: a right Grunewalder, as we say in Gerolstein. We
know him well, in this house; for he has come as far as here after
his stray dogs; and I make all welcome, sir, without account of
state or nation. And, indeed, between Gerolstein and Grunewald the
peace has held so long that the roads stand open like my door; and a
man will make no more of the frontier than the very birds
'Ay,' said Otto, 'it has been a long peace - a peace of centuries.'
'Centuries, as you say,' returned Killian; 'the more the pity that
it should not be for ever. Well, sir, this Kuno was one day in
fault, and Otto, who has a quick temper, up with his whip and
thrashed him, they do say, soundly. Kuno took it as best he could,
but at last he broke out, and dared the Prince to throw his whip
away and wrestle like a man; for we are all great at wrestling in
these parts, and it's so that we generally settle our disputes.
Well, sir, the Prince did so; and, being a weakly creature, found
the tables turned; for the man whom he had just been thrashing like
a negro slave, lifted him with a back grip and threw him heels
'He broke his bridle-arm,' cried Fritz - 'and some say his nose.
Serve him right, say I! Man to man, which is the better at that?'
'And then?' asked Otto.
'O, then Kuno carried him home; and they were the best of friends
from that day forth. I don't say it's a discreditable story, you
observe,' continued Mr. Gottesheim; 'but it's droll, and that's the
fact. A man should think before he strikes; for, as my nephew says,
man to man was the old valuation.'
'Now, if you were to ask me,' said Otto, 'I should perhaps surprise
you. I think it was the Prince that conquered.'
'And, sir, you would be right,' replied Killian seriously. 'In the
eyes of God, I do not question but you would be right; but men, sir,
look at these things differently, and they laugh.'
'They made a song of it,' observed Fritz. 'How does it go? Ta-tum-
ta-ra . . .'
'Well,' interrupted Otto, who had no great anxiety to hear the song,
'the Prince is young; he may yet mend.'
'Not so young, by your leave,' cried Fritz. 'A man of forty.'
'Thirty-six,' corrected Mr. Gottesheim.
'O,' cried Ottilia, in obvious disillusion, 'a man of middle age!
And they said he was so handsome when he was young!'
'And bald, too,' added Fritz.
Otto passed his hand among his locks. At that moment he was far
from happy, and even the tedious evenings at Mittwalden Palace began
to smile upon him by comparison.
'O, six-and-thirty!' he protested. 'A man is not yet old at six-
and-thirty. I am that age myself.'
'I should have taken you for more, sir,' piped the old farmer. 'But
if that be so, you are of an age with Master Ottekin, as people call
him; and, I would wager a crown, have done more service in your
time. Though it seems young by comparison with men of a great age
like me, yet it's some way through life for all that; and the mere
fools and fiddlers are beginning to grow weary and to look old.
Yes, sir, by six-and-thirty, if a man be a follower of God's laws,
he should have made himself a home and a good name to live by; he
should have got a wife and a blessing on his marriage; and his
works, as the Word says, should begin to follow him.'
'Ah, well, the Prince is married,' cried Fritz, with a coarse burst
'That seems to entertain you, sir,' said Otto.
'Ay,' said the young boor. 'Did you not know that? I thought all
Europe knew it!' And he added a pantomime of a nature to explain
his accusation to the dullest.
'Ah, sir,' said Mr. Gottesheim, 'it is very plain that you are not
from hereabouts! But the truth is, that the whole princely family
and Court are rips and rascals, not one to mend another. They live,
sir, in idleness and - what most commonly follows it - corruption.
The Princess has a lover - a Baron, as he calls himself, from East
Prussia; and the Prince is so little of a man, sir, that he holds
the candle. Nor is that the worst of it, for this foreigner and his
paramour are suffered to transact the State affairs, while the
Prince takes the salary and leaves all things to go to wrack. There
will follow upon this some manifest judgment which, though I am old,
I may survive to see.'
'Good man, you are in the wrong about Gondremark,' said Fritz,
showing a greatly increased animation; 'but for all the rest, you
speak the God's truth like a good patriot. As for the Prince, if he
would take and strangle his wife, I would forgive him yet.'
'Nay, Fritz,' said the old man, 'that would be to add iniquity to
evil. For you perceive, sir,' he continued, once more addressing
himself to the unfortunate Prince, 'this Otto has himself to thank
for these disorders. He has his young wife and his principality,
and he has sworn to cherish both.'
'Sworn at the altar!' echoed Fritz. 'But put your faith in
'Well, sir, he leaves them both to an adventurer from East Prussia,'
pursued the farmer: 'leaves the girl to be seduced and to go on from
bad to worse, till her name's become a tap-room by-word, and she not
yet twenty; leaves the country to be overtaxed, and bullied with
armaments, and jockied into war - '
'War!' cried Otto.
'So they say, sir; those that watch their ongoings, say to war,'
asseverated Killian. 'Well, sir, that is very sad; it is a sad
thing for this poor, wicked girl to go down to hell with people's
curses; it's a sad thing for a tight little happy country to be
misconducted; but whoever may complain, I humbly conceive, sir, that
this Otto cannot. What he has worked for, that he has got; and may
God have pity on his soul, for a great and a silly sinner's!'
'He has broke his oath; then he is a perjurer. He takes the money
and leaves the work; why, then plainly he's a thief. A cuckold he
was before, and a fool by birth. Better me that!' cried Fritz, and
snapped his fingers.
'And now, sir, you will see a little,' continued the farmer, 'why we
think so poorly of this Prince Otto. There's such a thing as a man
being pious and honest in the private way; and there is such a
thing, sir, as a public virtue; but when a man has neither, the Lord
lighten him! Even this Gondremark, that Fritz here thinks so much
of - '
'Ay,' interrupted Fritz, 'Gondremark's the man for me. I would we
had his like in Gerolstein.'
'He is a bad man,' said the old farmer, shaking his head; 'and there
was never good begun by the breach of God's commandments. But so
far I will go with you; he is a man that works for what he has.'
'I tell you he's the hope of Grunewald,' cried Fritz. 'He doesn't
suit some of your high-and-dry, old, ancient ideas; but he's a
downright modern man - a man of the new lights and the progress of
the age. He does some things wrong; so they all do; but he has the
people's interests next his heart; and you mark me - you, sir, who
are a Liberal, and the enemy of all their governments, you please to
mark my words - the day will come in Grunewald, when they take out
that yellow-headed skulk of a Prince and that dough-faced Messalina
of a Princess, march 'em back foremost over the borders, and
proclaim the Baron Gondremark first President. I've heard them say
it in a speech. I was at a meeting once at Brandenau, and the
Mittwalden delegates spoke up for fifteen thousand. Fifteen
thousand, all brigaded, and each man with a medal round his neck to
rally by. That's all Gondremark.'
'Ay, sir, you see what it leads to; wild talk to-day, and wilder
doings to-morrow,' said the old man. 'For there is one thing
certain: that this Gondremark has one foot in the Court backstairs,
and the other in the Masons' lodges. He gives himself out, sir, for
what nowadays they call a patriot: a man from East Prussia!'
'Give himself out!' cried Fritz. 'He is! He is to lay by his title
as soon as the Republic is declared; I heard it in a speech.'
'Lay by Baron to take up President?' returned Killian. 'King Log,
King Stork. But you'll live longer than I, and you will see the
fruits of it.'
'Father,' whispered Ottilia, pulling at the speaker's coat, 'surely
the gentleman is ill.'
'I beg your pardon,' cried the farmer, rewaking to hospitable
thoughts; 'can I offer you anything?'
'I thank you. I am very weary,' answered Otto. 'I have presumed
upon my strength. If you would show me to a bed, I should be
'Ottilia, a candle!' said the old man. 'Indeed, sir, you look
paley. A little cordial water? No? Then follow me, I beseech you,
and I will bring you to the stranger's bed. You are not the first
by many who has slept well below my roof,' continued the old
gentleman, mounting the stairs before his guest; 'for good food,
honest wine, a grateful conscience, and a little pleasant chat
before a man retires, are worth all the possets and apothecary's
drugs. See, sir,' and here he opened a door and ushered Otto into a
little white-washed sleeping-room, 'here you are in port. It is
small, but it is airy, and the sheets are clean and kept in
lavender. The window, too, looks out above the river, and there's
no music like a little river's. It plays the same tune (and that's
the favourite) over and over again, and yet does not weary of it
like men fiddlers. It takes the mind out of doors: and though we
should be grateful for good houses, there is, after all, no house
like God's out-of-doors. And lastly, sir, it quiets a man down like
saying his prayers. So here, sir, I take my kind leave of you until
to-morrow; and it is my prayerful wish that you may slumber like a
And the old man, with the twentieth courteous inclination, left his
CHAPTER III - IN WHICH THE PRINCE COMFORTS AGE AND BEAUTY AND
DELIVERS A LECTURE ON DISCRETION IN LOVE
THE Prince was early abroad: in the time of the first chorus of
birds, of the pure and quiet air, of the slanting sunlight and the
mile-long shadows. To one who had passed a miserable night, the
freshness of that hour was tonic and reviving; to steal a march upon
his slumbering fellows, to be the Adam of the coming day, composed
and fortified his spirits; and the Prince, breathing deep and
pausing as he went, walked in the wet fields beside his shadow, and
A trellised path led down into the valley of the brook, and he
turned to follow it. The stream was a break-neck, boiling Highland
river. Hard by the farm, it leaped a little precipice in a thick
grey-mare's tail of twisted filaments, and then lay and worked and
bubbled in a lynn. Into the middle of this quaking pool a rock
protruded, shelving to a cape; and thither Otto scrambled and sat
down to ponder.
Soon the sun struck through the screen of branches and thin early
leaves that made a hanging bower above the fall; and the golden
lights and flitting shadows fell upon and marbled the surface of
that so seething pot; and rays plunged deep among the turning
waters; and a spark, as bright as a diamond, lit upon the swaying
eddy. It began to grow warm where Otto lingered, warm and heady;
the lights swam, weaving their maze across the shaken pool; on the
impending rock, reflections danced like butterflies; and the air was
fanned by the waterfall as by a swinging curtain.
Otto, who was weary with tossing and beset with horrid phantoms of
remorse and jealousy, instantly fell dead in love with that sun-
chequered, echoing corner. Holding his feet, he stared out of a
drowsy trance, wondering, admiring, musing, losing his way among
uncertain thoughts. There is nothing that so apes the external
bearing of free will as that unconscious bustle, obscurely following
liquid laws, with which a river contends among obstructions. It
seems the very play of man and destiny, and as Otto pored on these
recurrent changes, he grew, by equal steps, the sleepier and the
more profound. Eddy and Prince were alike jostled in their purpose,
alike anchored by intangible influences in one corner of the world.
Eddy and Prince were alike useless, starkly useless, in the
cosmology of men. Eddy and Prince - Prince and Eddy.
It is probable he had been some while asleep when a voice recalled
him from oblivion. 'Sir,' it was saying; and looking round, he saw
Mr. Killian's daughter, terrified by her boldness and making bashful
signals from the shore. She was a plain, honest lass, healthy and
happy and good, and with that sort of beauty that comes of happiness
and health. But her confusion lent her for the moment an additional
'Good-morning,' said Otto, rising and moving towards her. 'I arose
early and was in a dream.'
'O, sir!' she cried, 'I wish to beg of you to spare my father; for I
assure your Highness, if he had known who you was, he would have
bitten his tongue out sooner. And Fritz, too - how he went on! But
I had a notion; and this morning I went straight down into the
stable, and there was your Highness's crown upon the stirrup-irons!
But, O, sir, I made certain you would spare them; for they were as
innocent as lambs.'
'My dear,' said Otto, both amused and gratified, 'you do not
understand. It is I who am in the wrong; for I had no business to
conceal my name and lead on these gentleman to speak of me. And it
is I who have to beg of you that you will keep my secret and not
betray the discourtesy of which I was guilty. As for any fear of
me, your friends are safe in Gerolstein; and even in my own
territory, you must be well aware I have no power.'
' O, sir,' she said, curtsying, 'I would not say that: the huntsmen
would all die for you.'
'Happy Prince!' said Otto. 'But although you are too courteous to
avow the knowledge, you have had many opportunities of learning that
I am a vain show. Only last night we heard it very clearly stated.
You see the shadow flitting on this hard rock? Prince Otto, I am
afraid, is but the moving shadow, and the name of the rock is
Gondremark. Ah! if your friends had fallen foul of Gondremark! But
happily the younger of the two admires him. And as for the old
gentleman your father, he is a wise man and an excellent talker, and
I would take a long wager he is honest.'
'O, for honest, your Highness, that he is!' exclaimed the girl.
'And Fritz is as honest as he. And as for all they said, it was
just talk and nonsense. When countryfolk get gossiping, they go on,
I do assure you, for the fun; they don't as much as think of what
they say. If you went to the next farm, it's my belief you would
hear as much against my father.'
'Nay, nay,' said Otto, 'there you go too fast. For all that was
said against Prince Otto - '
'O, it was shameful!' cried the girl.
'Not shameful - true,' returned Otto. 'O, yes - true. I am all
they said of me - all that and worse.'
'I never!' cried 'Ottilia. 'Is that how you do? Well, you would
never be a soldier. Now if any one accuses me, I get up and give it
them. O, I defend myself. I wouldn't take a fault at another
person's hands, no, not if I had it on my forehead. And that's what
you must do, if you mean to live it out. But, indeed, I never heard
such nonsense. I should think you was ashamed of yourself! You're
bald, then, I suppose?'
'O no,' said Otto, fairly laughing. 'There I acquit myself: not
'Well, and good?' pursued the girl. 'Come now, you know you are
good, and I'll make you say so. . . . Your Highness, I beg your
humble pardon. But there's no disrespect intended. And anyhow, you
know you are.'
'Why, now, what am I to say?' replied Otto. 'You are a cook, and
excellently well you do it; I embrace the chance of thanking you for
the ragout. Well now, have you not seen good food so bedevilled by
unskilful cookery that no one could be brought to eat the pudding?
That is me, my dear. I am full of good ingredients, but the dish is
worthless. I am - I give it you in one word - sugar in the salad.'
'Well, I don't care, you're good,' reiterated Ottilia, a little
flushed by having failed to understand.
'I will tell you one thing,' replied Otto: 'You are!'
'Ah, well, that's what they all said of you,' moralised the girl;
'such a tongue to come round - such a flattering tongue!'
' O, you forget, I am a man of middle age,' the Prince chuckled.
'Well, to speak to you, I should think you was a boy; and Prince or
no Prince, if you came worrying where I was cooking, I would pin a
napkin to your tails. . . . And, O Lord, I declare I hope your
Highness will forgive me,' the girl added. 'I can't keep it in my
'No more can I,' cried Otto. 'That is just what they complain of!'
They made a loverly-looking couple; only the heavy pouring of that
horse-tail of water made them raise their voices above lovers'
pitch. But to a jealous onlooker from above, their mirth and close
proximity might easily give umbrage; and a rough voice out of a tuft
of brambles began calling on Ottilia by name. She changed colour at
that. 'It is Fritz,' she said. 'I must go.'
'Go, my dear, and I need not bid you go in peace, for I think you
have discovered that I am not formidable at close quarters,' said
the Prince, and made her a fine gesture of dismissal.
So Ottilia skipped up the bank, and disappeared into the thicket,
stopping once for a single blushing bob - blushing, because she had
in the interval once more forgotten and remembered the stranger's
Otto returned to his rock promontory; but his humour had in the
meantime changed. The sun now shone more fairly on the pool; and
over its brown, welling surface, the blue of heaven and the golden
green of the spring foliage danced in fleeting arabesque. The
eddies laughed and brightened with essential colour. And the beauty
of the dell began to rankle in the Prince's mind; it was so near to
his own borders, yet without. He had never had much of the joy of
possessorship in any of the thousand and one beautiful and curious
things that were his; and now he was conscious of envy for what was
another's. It was, indeed, a smiling, dilettante sort of envy; but
yet there it was: the passion of Ahab for the vineyard, done in
little; and he was relieved when Mr. Killian appeared upon the
'I hope, sir, that you have slept well under my plain roof,' said
the old farmer.
'I am admiring this sweet spot that you are privileged to dwell in,'
replied Otto, evading the inquiry.
'It is rustic,' returned Mr. Gottesheim, looking around him with
complacency, 'a very rustic corner; and some of the land to the west
is most excellent fat land, excellent deep soil. You should see my
wheat in the ten-acre field. There is not a farm in Grunewald, no,
nor many in Gerolstein, to match the River Farm. Some sixty - I
keep thinking when I sow - some sixty, and some seventy, and some an
hundredfold; and my own place, six score! But that, sir, is partly
'And the stream has fish?' asked Otto.
'A fishpond,' said the farmer. 'Ay, it is a pleasant bit. It is
pleasant even here, if one had time, with the brook drumming in that
black pool, and the green things hanging all about the rocks, and,
dear heart, to see the very pebbles! all turned to gold and precious
stones! But you have come to that time of life, sir, when, if you
will excuse me, you must look to have the rheumatism set in. Thirty
to forty is, as one may say, their seed-time. And this is a damp
cold corner for the early morning and an empty stomach. If I might
humbly advise you, sir, I would be moving.'
'With all my heart,' said Otto gravely. 'And so you have lived your
life here?' he added, as they turned to go.
'Here I was born,' replied the farmer, 'and here I wish I could say
I was to die. But fortune, sir, fortune turns the wheel. They say
she is blind, but we will hope she only sees a little farther on.
My grandfather and my father and I, we have all tilled these acres,
my furrow following theirs. All the three names are on the garden
bench, two Killians and one Johann. Yes, sir, good men have
prepared themselves for the great change in my old garden. Well do
I mind my father, in a woollen night-cap, the good soul, going round
and round to see the last of it. 'Killian,' said he, 'do you see
the smoke of my tobacco? Why,' said he, 'that is man's life.' It
was his last pipe, and I believe he knew it; and it was a strange
thing, without doubt, to leave the trees that he had planted, and
the son that he had begotten, ay, sir, and even the old pipe with
the Turk's head that he had smoked since he was a lad and went a-
courting. But here we have no continuing city; and as for the
eternal, it's a comfortable thought that we have other merits than
our own. And yet you would hardly think how sore it goes against
the grain with me, to die in a strange bed.'
'And must you do so? For what reason?' Otto asked.
'The reason? The place is to be sold; three thousand crowns,'
replied Mr. Gottesheim. 'Had it been a third of that, I may say
without boasting that, what with my credit and my savings, I could
have met the sum. But at three thousand, unless I have singular
good fortune and the new proprietor continues me in office, there is
nothing left me but to budge.'
Otto's fancy for the place redoubled at the news, and became joined
with other feelings. If all he heard were true, Grunewald was
growing very hot for a sovereign Prince; it might be well to have a
refuge; and if so, what more delightful hermitage could man imagine?
Mr. Gottesheim, besides, had touched his sympathies. Every man
loves in his soul to play the part of the stage deity. And to step
down to the aid of the old farmer, who had so roughly handled him in
talk, was the ideal of a Fair Revenge. Otto's thoughts brightened
at the prospect, and he began to regard himself with a renewed
'I can find you, I believe, a purchaser,' he said, 'and one who
would continue to avail himself of your skill.'
'Can you, sir, indeed?' said the old man. 'Well, I shall be
heartily obliged; for I begin to find a man may practise resignation
all his days, as he takes physic, and not come to like it in the
'If you will have the papers drawn, you may even burthen the
purchase with your interest,' said Otto. 'Let it be assured to you
'Your friend, sir,' insinuated Killian, 'would not, perhaps, care to
make the interest reversible? Fritz is a good lad.'
'Fritz is young,' said the Prince dryly; 'he must earn
consideration, not inherit.'
'He has long worked upon the place, sir,' insisted Mr. Gottesheim;
'and at my great age, for I am seventy-eight come harvest, it would
be a troublesome thought to the proprietor how to fill my shoes. It
would be a care spared to assure yourself of Fritz. And I believe
he might be tempted by a permanency.'
'The young man has unsettled views,' returned Otto.
'Possibly the purchaser - ' began Killian.
A little spot of anger burned in Otto's cheek. 'I am the
purchaser,' he said.
'It was what I might have guessed,' replied the farmer, bowing with
an aged, obsequious dignity. 'You have made an old man very happy;
and I may say, indeed, that I have entertained an angel unawares.
Sir, the great people of this world - and by that I mean those who
are great in station - if they had only hearts like yours, how they
would make the fires burn and the poor sing!'
'I would not judge them hardly, sir,' said Otto. 'We all have our
'Truly, sir,' said Mr. Gottesheim, with unction. 'And by what name,
sir, am I to address my generous landlord?'
The double recollection of an English traveller, whom he had
received the week before at court, and of an old English rogue
called Transome, whom he had known in youth, came pertinently to the
Prince's help. 'Transome,' he answered, 'is my name. I am an
English traveller. It is, to-day, Tuesday. On Thursday, before
noon, the money shall be ready. Let us meet, if you please, in
Mittwalden, at the "Morning Star."'
'I am, in all things lawful, your servant to command,' replied the
farmer. 'An Englishman! You are a great race of travellers. And
has your lordship some experience of land?'
'I have had some interest of the kind before,' returned the Prince;
'not in Gerolstein, indeed. But fortune, as you say, turns the
wheel, and I desire to be beforehand with her revolutions.'
'Very right, sir, I am sure,' said Mr. Killian.
They had been strolling with deliberation; but they were now drawing
near to the farmhouse, mounting by the trellised pathway to the
level of the meadow. A little before them, the sound of voices had
been some while audible, and now grew louder and more distinct with
every step of their advance. Presently, when they emerged upon the
top of the bank, they beheld Fritz and Ottilia some way off; he,
very black and bloodshot, emphasising his hoarse speech with the
smacking of his fist against his palm; she, standing a little way
off in blowsy, voluble distress.
'Dear me!' said Mr. Gottesheim, and made as if he would turn aside.
But Otto went straight towards the lovers, in whose dissension he
believed himself to have a share. And, indeed, as soon as he had
seen the Prince, Fritz had stood tragic, as if awaiting and defying
'O, here you are!' he cried, as soon as they were near enough for
easy speech. 'You are a man at least, and must reply. What were
you after? Why were you two skulking in the bush? God!' he broke
out, turning again upon Ottilia, 'to think that I should waste my
heart on you!'
'I beg your pardon,' Otto cut in. 'You were addressing me. In
virtue of what circumstance am I to render you an account of this
young lady's conduct? Are you her father? her brother? her
'O, sir, you know as well as I,' returned the peasant. 'We keep
company, she and I. I love her, and she is by way of loving me; but
all shall be above-board, I would have her to know. I have a good
pride of my own.'
'Why, I perceive I must explain to you what love is,' said Otto.
'Its measure is kindness. It is very possible that you are proud;
but she, too, may have some self-esteem; I do not speak for myself.
And perhaps, if your own doings were so curiously examined, you
might find it inconvenient to reply.'
'These are all set-offs,' said the young man. 'You know very well
that a man is a man, and a woman only a woman. That holds good all
over, up and down. I ask you a question, I ask it again, and here I
stand.' He drew a mark and toed it.
'When you have studied liberal doctrines somewhat deeper,' said the
Prince, 'you will perhaps change your note. You are a man of false
weights and measures, my young friend. You have one scale for
women, another for men; one for princes, and one for farmer-folk.
On the prince who neglects his wife you can be most severe. But
what of the lover who insults his mistress? You use the name of
love. I should think this lady might very fairly ask to be
delivered from love of such a nature. For if I, a stranger, had
been one-tenth part so gross and so discourteous, you would most
righteously have broke my head. It would have been in your part, as
lover, to protect her from such insolence. Protect her first, then,
'Ay,' quoth Mr. Gottesheim, who had been looking on with his hands
behind his tall old back, 'ay, that's Scripture truth.'
Fritz was staggered, not only by the Prince's imperturbable
superiority of manner, but by a glimmering consciousness that he
himself was in the wrong. The appeal to liberal doctrines had,
besides, unmanned him.
'Well,' said he, 'if I was rude, I'll own to it. I meant no ill,
and did nothing out of my just rights; but I am above all these old
vulgar notions too; and if I spoke sharp, I'll ask her pardon.'
'Freely granted, Fritz,' said Ottilia.
'But all this doesn't answer me,' cried Fritz. 'I ask what you two
spoke about. She says she promised not to tell; well, then, I mean
to know. Civility is civility, but I'll be no man's gull. I have a
right to common justice, if I DO keep company!'
'If you will ask Mr. Gottesheim,' replied Otto, 'you will find I
have not spent my hours in idleness. I have, since I arose this
morning, agreed to buy the farm. So far I will go to satisfy a
curiosity which I condemn.'
'O, well, if there was business, that's another matter,' returned
Fritz. 'Though it beats me why you could not tell. But, of course,
if the gentleman is to buy the farm, I suppose there would naturally
be an end.'
'To be sure,' said Mr. Gottesheim, with a strong accent of
But Ottilia was much braver. 'There now!' she cried in triumph.
'What did I tell you? I told you I was fighting your battles. Now
you see! Think shame of your suspicious temper! You should go down
upon your bended knees both to that gentleman and me.'
CHAPTER IV - IN WHICH THE PRINCE COLLECTS OPINIONS BY THE WAY
A LITTLE before noon Otto, by a triumph of manoeuvring, effected his
escape. He was quit in this way of the ponderous gratitude of Mr.
Killian, and of the confidential gratitude of poor Ottilia; but of
Fritz he was not quit so readily. That young politician, brimming
with mysterious glances, offered to lend his convoy as far as to the
high-road; and Otto, in fear of some residuary jealousy and for the
girl's sake, had not the courage to gainsay him; but he regarded his
companion with uneasy glances, and devoutly wished the business at
an end. For some time Fritz walked by the mare in silence; and they
had already traversed more than half the proposed distance when,
with something of a blush, he looked up and opened fire.
'Are you not,' he asked, 'what they call a socialist?'
'Why, no,' returned Otto, 'not precisely what they call so. Why do
'I will tell you why,' said the young man. 'I saw from the first
that you were a red progressional, and nothing but the fear of old
Killian kept you back. And there, sir, you were right: old men are
always cowards. But nowadays, you see, there are so many groups:
you can never tell how far the likeliest kind of man may be prepared
to go; and I was never sure you were one of the strong thinkers,
till you hinted about women and free love.'
'Indeed,' cried Otto, 'I never said a word of such a thing.'
'Not you!' cried Fritz. 'Never a word to compromise! You was
sowing seed: ground-bait, our president calls it. But it's hard to
deceive me, for I know all the agitators and their ways, and all the
doctrines; and between you and me,' lowering his voice, 'I am myself
affiliated. O yes, I am a secret society man, and here is my
medal.' And drawing out a green ribbon that he wore about his neck,
he held up, for Otto's inspection, a pewter medal bearing the
imprint of a Phoenix and the legend LIBERTAS. 'And so now you see
you may trust me,' added Fritz, 'I am none of your alehouse talkers;
I am a convinced revolutionary.' And he looked meltingly upon Otto.
'I see,' replied the Prince; 'that is very gratifying. Well, sir,
the great thing for the good of one's country is, first of all, to
be a good man. All springs from there. For my part, although you
are right in thinking that I have to do with politics, I am unfit by
intellect and temper for a leading role. I was intended, I fear,
for a subaltern. Yet we have all something to command, Mr. Fritz,
if it be only our own temper; and a man about to marry must look
closely to himself. The husband's, like the prince's, is a very
artificial standing; and it is hard to be kind in either. Do you
'O yes, I follow that,' replied the young man, sadly chop-fallen
over the nature of the information he had elicited; and then
brightening up: 'Is it,' he ventured, 'is it for an arsenal that you
have bought the farm?'
'We'll see about that,' the Prince answered, laughing. 'You must
not be too zealous. And in the meantime, if I were you, I would say
nothing on the subject.'
'O, trust me, sir, for that,' cried Fritz, as he pocketed a crown.
'And you've let nothing out; for I suspected - I might say I knew it
- from the first. And mind you, when a guide is required,' he
added, 'I know all the forest paths.'
Otto rode away, chuckling. This talk with Fritz had vastly
entertained him; nor was he altogether discontented with his bearing
at the farm; men, he was able to tell himself, had behaved worse
under smaller provocation. And, to harmonise all, the road and the
April air were both delightful to his soul.
Up and down, and to and fro, ever mounting through the wooded
foothills, the broad white high-road wound onward into Grunewald.
On either hand the pines stood coolly rooted - green moss
prospering, springs welling forth between their knuckled spurs; and
though some were broad and stalwart, and others spiry and slender,
yet all stood firm in the same attitude and with the same
expression, like a silent army presenting arms.
The road lay all the way apart from towns and villages, which it
left on either hand. Here and there, indeed, in the bottom of green
glens, the Prince could spy a few congregated roofs, or perhaps
above him, on a shoulder, the solitary cabin of a woodman. But the
highway was an international undertaking and with its face set for
distant cities, scorned the little life of Grunewald. Hence it was
exceeding solitary. Near the frontier Otto met a detachment of his
own troops marching in the hot dust; and he was recognised and
somewhat feebly cheered as he rode by. But from that time forth and
for a long while he was alone with the great woods.
Gradually the spell of pleasure relaxed; his own thoughts returned,
like stinging insects, in a cloud; and the talk of the night before,
like a shower of buffets, fell upon his memory. He looked east and
west for any comforter; and presently he was aware of a cross-road
coming steeply down hill, and a horseman cautiously descending. A
human voice or presence, like a spring in the desert, was now
welcome in itself, and Otto drew bridle to await the coming of this
stranger. He proved to be a very red-faced, thick-lipped
countryman, with a pair of fat saddle-bags and a stone bottle at his
waist; who, as soon as the Prince hailed him, jovially, if somewhat
thickly, answered. At the same time he gave a beery yaw in the
saddle. It was clear his bottle was no longer full.
'Do you ride towards Mittwalden?' asked the Prince.
'As far as the cross-road to Tannenbrunn,' the man replied. 'Will
you bear company?'
'With pleasure. I have even waited for you on the chance,' answered
By this time they were close alongside; and the man, with the
countryfolk instinct, turned his cloudy vision first of all on his
companion's mount. 'The devil!' he cried. 'You ride a bonny mare,
friend!' And then, his curiosity being satisfied about the
essential, he turned his attention to that merely secondary matter,
his companion's face. He started. 'The Prince!' he cried,
saluting, with another yaw that came near dismounting him. 'I beg
your pardon, your Highness, not to have recognised you at once.'
The Prince was vexed out of his self-possession. 'Since you know
me,' he said, 'it is unnecessary we should ride together. I will
precede you, if you please.' And he was about to set spur to the
grey mare, when the half-drunken fellow, reaching over, laid his
hand upon the rein.
'Hark you,' he said, 'prince or no prince, that is not how one man
should conduct himself with another. What! You'll ride with me
incog. and set me talking! But if I know you, you'll preshede me,
if you please! Spy!' And the fellow, crimson with drink and
injured vanity, almost spat the word into the Prince's face.
A horrid confusion came over Otto. He perceived that he had acted
rudely, grossly presuming on his station. And perhaps a little
shiver of physical alarm mingled with his remorse, for the fellow
was very powerful and not more than half in the possession of his
senses. 'Take your hand from my rein,' he said, with a sufficient
assumption of command; and when the man, rather to his wonder, had
obeyed: 'You should understand, sir,' he added, 'that while I might
be glad to ride with you as one person of sagacity with another, and
so receive your true opinions, it would amuse me very little to hear
the empty compliments you would address to me as Prince.'
'You think I would lie, do you?' cried the man with the bottle,
'I know you would,' returned Otto, entering entirely into his self-
possession. 'You would not even show me the medal you wear about
your neck.' For he had caught a glimpse of a green ribbon at the
The change was instantaneous: the red face became mottled with
yellow: a thick-fingered, tottering hand made a clutch at the tell-
tale ribbon. 'Medal!' the man cried, wonderfully sobered. 'I have
'Pardon me,' said the Prince. 'I will even tell you what that medal
bears: a Phoenix burning, with the word LIBERTAS.' The medallist
remaining speechless, 'You are a pretty fellow,' continued Otto,
smiling, 'to complain of incivility from the man whom you conspire
'Murder!' protested the man. 'Nay, never that; nothing criminal for
'You are strangely misinformed,' said Otto. 'Conspiracy itself is
criminal, and ensures the pain of death. Nay, sir, death it is; I
will guarantee my accuracy. Not that you need be so deplorably
affected, for I am no officer. But those who mingle with politics
should look at both sides of the medal.'
'Your Highness . . . . ' began the knight of the bottle.
'Nonsense! you are a Republican,' cried Otto; 'what have you to do
with highnesses? But let us continue to ride forward. Since you so
much desire it, I cannot find it in my heart to deprive you of my
company. And for that matter, I have a question to address to you.
Why, being so great a body of men - for you are a great body -
fifteen thousand, I have heard, but that will be understated; am I
The man gurgled in his throat.
'Why, then, being so considerable a party,' resumed Otto, 'do you
not come before me boldly with your wants? - what do I say? with
your commands? Have I the name of being passionately devoted to my
throne? I can scarce suppose it. Come, then; show me your
majority, and I will instantly resign. Tell this to your friends;
assure them from me of my docility; assure them that, however they
conceive of my deficiencies, they cannot suppose me more unfit to be
a ruler than I do myself. I am one of the worst princes in Europe;
will they improve on that?'
'Far be it from me . . .' the man began.
'See, now, if you will not defend my government!' cried Otto. 'If I
were you, I would leave conspiracies. You are as little fit to be a
conspirator as I to be a king.'
'One thing I will say out,' said the man. 'It is not so much you
that we complain of, it's your lady.'
'Not a word, sir' said the Prince; and then after a moment's pause,
and in tones of some anger and contempt: 'I once more advise you to
have done with politics,' he added; 'and when next I see you, let me
see you sober. A morning drunkard is the last man to sit in
judgment even upon the worst of princes.'
'I have had a drop, but I had not been drinking,' the man replied,
triumphing in a sound distinction. 'And if I had, what then?
Nobody hangs by me. But my mill is standing idle, and I blame it on
your wife. Am I alone in that? Go round and ask. Where are the
mills? Where are the young men that should be working? Where is
the currency? All paralysed. No, sir, it is not equal; for I
suffer for your faults - I pay for them, by George, out of a poor
man's pocket. And what have you to do with mine? Drunk or sober, I
can see my country going to hell, and I can see whose fault it is.
And so now, I've said my say, and you may drag me to a stinking
dungeon; what care I? I've spoke the truth, and so I'll hold hard,
and not intrude upon your Highness's society.'
And the miller reined up and, clumsily enough, saluted.
'You will observe, I have not asked your name,' said Otto. 'I wish
you a good ride,' and he rode on hard. But let him ride as he
pleased, this interview with the miller was a chokepear, which he
could not swallow. He had begun by receiving a reproof in manners,
and ended by sustaining a defeat in logic, both from a man whom he
despised. All his old thoughts returned with fresher venom. And by
three in the afternoon, coming to the cross-roads for Beckstein,
Otto decided to turn aside and dine there leisurely. Nothing at
least could be worse than to go on as he was going.
In the inn at Beckstein he remarked, immediately upon his entrance,
an intelligent young gentleman dining, with a book in front of him.
He had his own place laid close to the reader, and with a proper
apology, broke ground by asking what he read.
'I am perusing,' answered the young gentleman, 'the last work of the
Herr Doctor Hohenstockwitz, cousin and librarian of your Prince here
in Grunewald - a man of great erudition and some lambencies of wit.'
'I am acquainted,' said Otto, 'with the Herr Doctor, though not yet
with his work.'
'Two privileges that I must envy you,' replied the young man
politely: 'an honour in hand, a pleasure in the bush.'
'The Herr Doctor is a man much respected, I believe, for his
attainments?' asked the Prince.
'He is, sir, a remarkable instance of the force of intellect,'
replied the reader. 'Who of our young men know anything of his
cousin, all reigning Prince although he be? Who but has heard of
Doctor Gotthold? But intellectual merit, alone of all distinctions,
has its base in nature.'
'I have the gratification of addressing a student - perhaps an
author?' Otto suggested.
The young man somewhat flushed. 'I have some claim to both
distinctions, sir, as you suppose,' said he; 'there is my card. I
am the licentiate Roederer, author of several works on the theory
and practice of politics.'
'You immensely interest me,' said the Prince; 'the more so as I
gather that here in Grunewald we are on the brink of revolution.
Pray, since these have been your special studies, would you augur
hopefully of such a movement?'
'I perceive,' said the young author, with a certain vinegary twitch,
'that you are unacquainted with my opuscula. I am a convinced
authoritarian. I share none of those illusory, Utopian fancies with
which empirics blind themselves and exasperate the ignorant. The
day of these ideas is, believe me, past, or at least passing.'
'When I look about me - ' began Otto.
'When you look about you,' interrupted the licentiate, 'you behold
the ignorant. But in the laboratory of opinion, beside the studious
lamp, we begin already to discard these figments. We begin to
return to nature's order, to what I might call, if I were to borrow
from the language of therapeutics, the expectant treatment of
abuses. You will not misunderstand me,' he continued: 'a country in
the condition in which we find Grunewald, a prince such as your
Prince Otto, we must explicitly condemn; they are behind the age.
But I would look for a remedy not to brute convulsions, but to the
natural supervenience of a more able sovereign. I should amuse you,
perhaps,' added the licentiate, with a smile, 'I think I should
amuse you if I were to explain my notion of a prince. We who have
studied in the closet, no longer, in this age, propose ourselves for
active service. The paths, we have perceived, are incompatible. I
would not have a student on the throne, though I would have one near
by for an adviser. I would set forward as prince a man of a good,
medium understanding, lively rather than deep; a man of courtly
manner, possessed of the double art to ingratiate and to command;
receptive, accommodating, seductive. I have been observing you
since your first entrance. Well, sir, were I a subject of Grunewald
I should pray heaven to set upon the seat of government just such
another as yourself.'
'The devil you would!' exclaimed the Prince.
The licentiate Roederer laughed most heartily. 'I thought I should
astonish you,' he said. 'These are not the ideas of the masses.'
'They are not, I can assure you,' Otto said.
'Or rather,' distinguished the licentiate, 'not to-day. The time
will come, however, when these ideas shall prevail.'
'You will permit me, sir, to doubt it,' said Otto.
'Modesty is always admirable,' chuckled the theorist. 'But yet I
assure you, a man like you, with such a man as, say, Doctor Gotthold
at your elbow, would be, for all practical issues, my ideal ruler.'
At this rate the hours sped pleasantly for Otto. But the licentiate
unfortunately slept that night at Beckstein, where he was, being
dainty in the saddle and given to half stages. And to find a convoy
to Mittwalden, and thus mitigate the company of his own thoughts,
the Prince had to make favour with a certain party of wood-merchants
from various states of the empire, who had been drinking together
somewhat noisily at the far end of the apartment.
The night had already fallen when they took the saddle. The
merchants were very loud and mirthful; each had a face like a
nor'west moon; and they played pranks with each others' horses, and
mingled songs and choruses, and alternately remembered and forgot
the companion of their ride. Otto thus combined society and
solitude, hearkening now to their chattering and empty talk, now to
the voices of the encircling forest. The starlit dark, the faint
wood airs, the clank of the horse-shoes making broken music,
accorded together and attuned his mind. And he was still in a most
equal temper when the party reached the top of that long hill that
Down in the bottom of a bowl of forest, the lights of the little
formal town glittered in a pattern, street crossing street; away by
itself on the right, the palace was glowing like a factory.
Although he knew not Otto, one of the wood-merchants was a native of
the state. 'There,' said he, pointing to the palace with his whip,
'there is Jezebel's inn.'
'What, do you call it that?' cried another, laughing.
'Ay, that's what they call it,' returned the Grunewalder; and he
broke into a song, which the rest, as people well acquainted with
the words and air, instantly took up in chorus. Her Serene Highness
Amalia Seraphina, Princess of Grunewald, was the heroine, Gondremark
the hero of this ballad. Shame hissed in Otto's ears. He reined up
short and sat stunned in the saddle; and the singers continued to
descend the hill without him.
The song went to a rough, swashing, popular air; and long after the
words became inaudible the swing of the music, rising and falling,
echoed insult in the Prince's brain. He fled the sounds. Hard by
him on his right a road struck towards the palace, and he followed
it through the thick shadows and branching alleys of the park. It
was a busy place on a fine summer's afternoon, when the court and
burghers met and saluted; but at that hour of the night in the early
spring it was deserted to the roosting birds. Hares rustled among
the covert; here and there a statue stood glimmering, with its
eternal gesture; here and there the echo of an imitation temple
clattered ghostly to the trampling of the mare. Ten minutes brought
him to the upper end of his own home garden, where the small stables
opened, over a bridge, upon the park. The yard clock was striking
the hour of ten; so was the big bell in the palace bell-tower; and,
farther off, the belfries of the town. About the stable all else
was silent but the stamping of stalled horses and the rattle of
halters. Otto dismounted; and as he did so a memory came back to
him: a whisper of dishonest grooms and stolen corn, once heard, long
forgotten, and now recurring in the nick of opportunity. He crossed
the bridge, and, going up to a window, knocked six or seven heavy
blows in a particular cadence, and, as he did so, smiled. Presently
a wicket was opened in the gate, and a man's head appeared in the
'Nothing to-night,' said a voice.
'Bring a lantern,' said the Prince.
'Dear heart a' mercy!' cried the groom. 'Who's that?'
'It is I, the Prince,' replied Otto. 'Bring a lantern, take in the
mare, and let me through into the garden.'
The man remained silent for a while, his head still projecting
through the wicket.
'His Highness!' he said at last. 'And why did your Highness knock
'It is a superstition in Mittwalden,' answered Otto, 'that it
With a sound like a sob the groom fled. He was very white when he
returned, even by the light of the lantern; and his hand trembled as
he undid the fastenings and took the mare.
'Your Highness,' he began at last, 'for God's sake . . . . ' And
there he paused, oppressed with guilt.
'For God's sake, what?' asked Otto cheerfully. 'For God's sake let
us have cheaper corn, say I. Good-night!' And he strode off into
the garden, leaving the groom petrified once more.
The garden descended by a succession of stone terraces to the level
of the fish-pond. On the far side the ground rose again, and was
crowned by the confused roofs and gables of the palace. The modern
pillared front, the ball-room, the great library, the princely
apartments, the busy and illuminated quarters of that great house,
all faced the town. The garden side was much older; and here it was
almost dark; only a few windows quietly lighted at various
elevations. The great square tower rose, thinning by stages like a
telescope; and on the top of all the flag hung motionless.
The garden, as it now lay in the dusk and glimmer of the starshine,
breathed of April violets. Under night's cavern arch the shrubs
obscurely bustled. Through the plotted terraces and down the marble
stairs the Prince rapidly descended, fleeing before uncomfortable
thoughts. But, alas! from these there is no city of refuge. And
now, when he was about midway of the descent, distant strains of
music began to fall upon his ear from the ball-room, where the court
was dancing. They reached him faint and broken, but they touched
the keys of memory; and through and above them Otto heard the
ranting melody of the wood-merchants' song. Mere blackness seized
upon his mind. Here he was, coming home; the wife was dancing, the
husband had been playing a trick upon a lackey; and meanwhile, all
about them, they were a by-word to their subjects. Such a prince,
such a husband, such a man, as this Otto had become! And he sped
the faster onward.
Some way below he came unexpectedly upon a sentry; yet a little
farther, and he was challenged by a second; and as he crossed the
bridge over the fish-pond, an officer making the rounds stopped him
once more. The parade of watch was more than usual; but curiosity
was dead in Otto's mind, and he only chafed at the interruption.
The porter of the back postern admitted him, and started to behold
him so disordered. Thence, hasting by private stairs and passages,
he came at length unseen to his own chamber, tore off his clothes,
and threw himself upon his bed in the dark. The music of the ball-
room still continued to a very lively measure; and still, behind
that, he heard in spirit the chorus of the merchants clanking down
BOOK II - OF LOVE AND POLITICS
CHAPTER I - WHAT HAPPENED IN THE LIBRARY
AT a quarter before six on the following morning Doctor Gotthold was
already at his desk in the library; and with a small cup of black
coffee at his elbow, and an eye occasionally wandering to the busts
and the long array of many-coloured books, was quietly reviewing the
labours of the day before. He was a man of about forty, flaxen-
haired, with refined features a little worn, and bright eyes
somewhat faded. Early to bed and early to rise, his life was
devoted to two things: erudition and Rhine wine. An ancient
friendship existed latent between him and Otto; they rarely met, but
when they did it was to take up at once the thread of their
suspended intimacy. Gotthold, the virgin priest of knowledge, had
envied his cousin, for half a day, when he was married; he had never
envied him his throne.
Reading was not a popular diversion at the court of Grunewald; and
that great, pleasant, sunshiny gallery of books and statues was, in
practice, Gotthold's private cabinet. On this particular Wednesday
morning, however, he had not been long about his manuscript when a
door opened and the Prince stepped into the apartment. The doctor
watched him as he drew near, receiving, from each of the embayed
windows in succession, a flush of morning sun; and Otto looked so
gay, and walked so airily, he was so well dressed and brushed and
frizzled, so point-device, and of such a sovereign elegance, that
the heart of his cousin the recluse was rather moved against him.
'Good-morning, Gotthold,' said Otto, dropping in a chair.
'Good-morning, Otto,' returned the librarian. 'You are an early
bird. Is this an accident, or do you begin reforming?'
'It is about time, I fancy,' answered the Prince.
'I cannot imagine,' said the Doctor. 'I am too sceptical to be an
ethical adviser; and as for good resolutions, I believed in them
when I was young. They are the colours of hope's rainbow.'
'If you come to think of it,' said Otto, 'I am not a popular
sovereign.' And with a look he changed his statement to a question.
'Popular? Well, there I would distinguish,' answered Gotthold,
leaning back and joining the tips of his fingers. 'There are
various kinds of popularity; the bookish, which is perfectly
impersonal, as unreal as the nightmare; the politician's, a mixed
variety; and yours, which is the most personal of all. Women take
to you; footmen adore you; it is as natural to like you as to pat a
dog; and were you a saw-miller you would be the most popular citizen
in Grunewald. As a prince - well, you are in the wrong trade. It
is perhaps philosophical to recognise it as you do.'
'Perhaps philosophical?' repeated Otto.
'Yes, perhaps. I would not be dogmatic,' answered Gotthold.
'Perhaps philosophical, and certainly not virtuous,' Otto resumed.
'Not of a Roman virtue,' chuckled the recluse.
Otto drew his chair nearer to the table, leaned upon it with his
elbow, and looked his cousin squarely in the face. 'In short,' he
asked, 'not manly?'
'Well,' Gotthold hesitated, 'not manly, if you will.' And then,
with a laugh, 'I did not know that you gave yourself out to be
manly,' he added. 'It was one of the points that I inclined to like
about you; inclined, I believe, to admire. The names of virtues
exercise a charm on most of us; we must lay claim to all of them,
however incompatible; we must all be both daring and prudent; we
must all vaunt our pride and go to the stake for our humility. Not
so you. Without compromise you were yourself: a pretty sight. I
have always said it: none so void of all pretence as Otto.'
'Pretence and effort both!' cried Otto. 'A dead dog in a canal is
more alive. And the question, Gotthold, the question that I have to
face is this: Can I not, with effort and self-denial, can I not
become a tolerable sovereign?'
'Never,' replied Gotthold. 'Dismiss the notion. And besides, dear
child, you would not try.'
'Nay, Gotthold, I am not to be put by,' said Otto. 'If I am
constitutionally unfit to be a sovereign, what am I doing with this
money, with this palace, with these guards? And I - a thief - am to
execute the law on others?'
'I admit the difficulty,' said Gotthold.
'Well, can I not try?' continued Otto. 'Am I not bound to try? And
with the advice and help of such a man as you - '
'Me!' cried the librarian. 'Now, God forbid!'
Otto, though he was in no very smiling humour, could not forbear to
smile. 'Yet I was told last night,' he laughed, 'that with a man
like me to impersonate, and a man like you to touch the springs, a
very possible government could be composed.'
'Now I wonder in what diseased imagination,' Gotthold said, 'that
preposterous monster saw the light of day?'
'It was one of your own trade - a writer: one Roederer,' said Otto.
'Roederer! an ignorant puppy!' cried the librarian.
'You are ungrateful,' said Otto. 'He is one of your professed
'Is he?' cried Gotthold, obviously impressed. 'Come, that is a good
account of the young man. I must read his stuff again. It is the
rather to his credit, as our views are opposite. The east and west
are not more opposite. Can I have converted him? But no; the
incident belongs to Fairyland.'
'You are not then,' asked the Prince, 'an authoritarian?'
'I? God bless me, no!' said Gotthold. 'I am a red, dear child.'
'That brings me then to my next point, and by a natural transition.
If I am so clearly unfitted for my post,' the Prince asked; 'if my
friends admit it, if my subjects clamour for my downfall, if
revolution is preparing at this hour, must I not go forth to meet
the inevitable? should I not save these horrors and be done with
these absurdities? in a word, should I not abdicate? O, believe me,
I feel the ridicule, the vast abuse of language,' he added, wincing,
'but even a principulus like me cannot resign; he must make a great
gesture, and come buskined forth, and abdicate.'
'Ay,' said Gotthold, 'or else stay where he is. What gnat has
bitten you to-day? Do you not know that you are touching, with lay
hands, the very holiest inwards of philosophy, where madness dwells?
Ay, Otto, madness; for in the serene temples of the wise, the inmost
shrine, which we carefully keep locked, is full of spiders' webs.
All men, all, are fundamentally useless; nature tolerates, she does
not need, she does not use them: sterile flowers! All - down to the
fellow swinking in a byre, whom fools point out for the exception -
all are useless; all weave ropes of sand; or like a child that has
breathed on a window, write and obliterate, write and obliterate,
idle words! Talk of it no more. That way, I tell you, madness
lies.' The speaker rose from his chair and then sat down again. He
laughed a little laugh, and then, changing his tone, resumed: 'Yes,
dear child, we are not here to do battle with giants; we are here to
be happy like the flowers, if we can be. It is because you could,
that I have always secretly admired you. Cling to that trade;
believe me, it is the right one. Be happy, be idle, be airy. To
the devil with all casuistry! and leave the state to Gondremark, as
heretofore. He does it well enough, they say; and his vanity enjoys
'Gotthold,' cried Otto, 'what is this to me? Useless is not the
question; I cannot rest at uselessness; I must be useful or I must
be noxious - one or other. I grant you the whole thing, prince and
principality alike, is pure absurdity, a stroke of satire; and that
a banker or the man who keeps an inn has graver duties. But now,
when I have washed my hands of it three years, and left all -
labour, responsibility, and honour and enjoyment too, if there be
any - to Gondremark and to - Seraphina - ' He hesitated at the
name, and Gotthold glanced aside. 'Well,' the Prince continued,
'what has come of it? Taxes, army, cannon - why, it's like a box of
lead soldiers! And the people sick at the folly of it, and fired
with the injustice! And war, too - I hear of war - war in this
teapot! What a complication of absurdity and disgrace! And when
the inevitable end arrives - the revolution - who will be to blame
in the sight of God, who will be gibbeted in public opinion? I!
'I thought you had despised public opinion,' said Gotthold.
'I did,' said Otto sombrely, 'but now I do not. I am growing old.
And then, Gotthold, there is Seraphina. She is loathed in this
country that I brought her to and suffered her to spoil. Yes, I
gave it her as a plaything, and she has broken it: a fine Prince, an
admirable Princess! Even her life - I ask you, Gotthold, is her
'It is safe enough to-day,' replied the librarian: 'but since you
ask me seriously, I would not answer for to-morrow. She is ill-
'And by whom? By this Gondremark, to whom you counsel me to leave
my country,' cried the Prince. 'Rare advice! The course that I
have been following all these years, to come at last to this. O,
ill-advised! if that were all! See now, there is no sense in
beating about the bush between two men: you know what scandal says
Gotthold, with pursed lips, silently nodded.
'Well, come, you are not very cheering as to my conduct as the
Prince; have I even done my duty as a husband?' Otto asked.
'Nay, nay,' said Gotthold, earnestly and eagerly, 'this is another
chapter. I am an old celibate, an old monk. I cannot advise you in
'Nor do I require advice,' said Otto, rising. 'All of this must
cease.' And he began to walk to and fro with his hands behind his
'Well, Otto, may God guide you!' said Gotthold, after a considerable
silence. 'I cannot.'
'From what does all this spring?' said the Prince, stopping in his
walk. 'What am I to call it? Diffidence? The fear of ridicule?
Inverted vanity? What matter names, if it has brought me to this?
I could never bear to be bustling about nothing; I was ashamed of
this toy kingdom from the first; I could not tolerate that people
should fancy I believed in a thing so patently absurd! I would do
nothing that cannot be done smiling. I have a sense of humour,
forsooth! I must know better than my Maker. And it was the same
thing in my marriage,' he added more hoarsely. 'I did not believe
this girl could care for me; I must not intrude; I must preserve the
foppery of my indifference. What an impotent picture!'
'Ay, we have the same blood,' moralised Gotthold. 'You are drawing,
with fine strokes, the character of the born sceptic.'
'Sceptic? - coward!' cried Otto. 'Coward is the word. A
springless, putty-hearted, cowering coward!'
And as the Prince rapped out the words in tones of unusual vigour, a
little, stout, old gentleman, opening a door behind Gotthold,
received them fairly in the face. With his parrot's beak for a
nose, his pursed mouth, his little goggling eyes, he was the picture
of formality; and in ordinary circumstances, strutting behind the
drum of his corporation, he impressed the beholder with a certain
air of frozen dignity and wisdom. But at the smallest contrariety,
his trembling hands and disconnected gestures betrayed the weakness
at the root. And now, when he was thus surprisingly received in
that library of Mittwalden Palace, which was the customary haunt of
silence, his hands went up into the air as if he had been shot, and
he cried aloud with the scream of an old woman.
'O!' he gasped, recovering, 'Your Highness! I beg ten thousand
pardons. But your Highness at such an hour in the library! - a
circumstance so unusual as your Highness's presence was a thing I
could not be expected to foresee.'
'There is no harm done, Herr Cancellarius,' said Otto.
'I came upon the errand of a moment: some papers I left over-night
with the Herr Doctor,' said the Chancellor of Grunewald. 'Herr
Doctor, if you will kindly give me them, I will intrude no longer.'
Gotthold unlocked a drawer and handed a bundle of manuscript to the
old gentleman, who prepared, with fitting salutations, to take his
'Herr Greisengesang, since we have met,' said Otto, 'let us talk.'
'I am honoured by his Highness's commands,' replied the Chancellor.
'All has been quiet since I left?' asked the Prince, resuming his
'The usual business, your Highness,' answered Greisengesang;
'punctual trifles: huge, indeed, if neglected, but trifles when
discharged. Your Highness is most zealously obeyed.'
'Obeyed, Herr Cancellarius?' returned the Prince. 'And when have I
obliged you with an order? Replaced, let us rather say. But to
touch upon these trifles; instance me a few.'
'The routine of government, from which your Highness has so wisely
dissociated his leisure . . . ' began Greisengesang.
'We will leave my leisure, sir,' said Otto. 'Approach the facts.'
'The routine of business was proceeded with,' replied the official,
now visibly twittering.
'It is very strange, Herr Cancellarius, that you should so
persistently avoid my questions,' said the Prince. 'You tempt me to
suppose a purpose in your dulness. I have asked you whether all was
quiet; do me the pleasure to reply.'
'Perfectly - O, perfectly quiet,' jerked the ancient puppet, with
every signal of untruth.
'I make a note of these words,' said the Prince gravely. 'You
assure me, your sovereign, that since the date of my departure
nothing has occurred of which you owe me an account.'
'I take your Highness, I take the Herr Doctor to witness,' cried
Greisengesang, 'that I have had no such expression.'
'Halt!' said the Prince; and then, after a pause: 'Herr
Greisengesang, you are an old man, and you served my father before
you served me,' he added. 'It consists neither with your dignity
nor mine that you should babble excuses and stumble possibly upon
untruths. Collect your thoughts; and then categorically inform me
of all you have been charged to hide.'
Gotthold, stooping very low over his desk, appeared to have resumed
his labours; but his shoulders heaved with subterranean merriment.
The Prince waited, drawing his handkerchief quietly through his
'Your Highness, in this informal manner,' said the old gentleman at
last, 'and being unavoidably deprived of documents, it would be
difficult, it would be impossible, to do justice to the somewhat
grave occurrences which have transpired.'
'I will not criticise your attitude,' replied the Prince. 'I desire
that, between you and me, all should be done gently; for I have not
forgotten, my old friend, that you were kind to me from the first,
and for a period of years a faithful servant. I will thus dismiss
the matters on which you waive immediate inquiry. But you have
certain papers actually in your hand. Come, Herr Greisengesang,
there is at least one point for which you have authority. Enlighten
me on that.'
'On that?' cried the old gentleman. 'O, that is a trifle; a matter,
your Highness, of police; a detail of a purely administrative order.
These are simply a selection of the papers seized upon the English
'Seized?' echoed Otto. 'In what sense? Explain yourself.'
'Sir John Crabtree,' interposed Gotthold, looking up, 'was arrested
'It this so, Herr Cancellarius?' demanded Otto sternly.
'It was judged right, your Highness,' protested Greisengesang. 'The
decree was in due form, invested with your Highness's authority by
procuration. I am but an agent; I had no status to prevent the
'This man, my guest, has been arrested,' said the Prince. 'On what
grounds, sir? With what colour of pretence?'
The Chancellor stammered.
'Your Highness will perhaps find the reason in these documents,'
said Gotthold, pointing with the tail of his pen.
Otto thanked his cousin with a look. 'Give them to me,' he said,
addressing the Chancellor.
But that gentleman visibly hesitated to obey. 'Baron von
Gondremark,' he said, 'has made the affair his own. I am in this
case a mere messenger; and as such, I am not clothed with any
capacity to communicate the documents I carry. Herr Doctor, I am
convinced you will not fail to bear me out.'
'I have heard a great deal of nonsense,' said Gotthold, 'and most of
it from you; but this beats all.'
'Come, sir,' said Otto, rising, 'the papers. I command.'
Herr Greisengesang instantly gave way.
'With your Highness's permission,' he said, 'and laying at his feet
my most submiss apologies, I will now hasten to attend his further
orders in the Chancery.'
'Herr Cancellarius, do you see this chair?' said Otto. 'There is
where you shall attend my further orders. O, now, no more!' he
cried, with a gesture, as the old man opened his lips. 'You have
sufficiently marked your zeal to your employer; and I begin to weary
of a moderation you abuse.'
The Chancellor moved to the appointed chair and took his seat in
'And now,' said Otto, opening the roll, 'what is all this? it looks
like the manuscript of a book.'
'It is,' said Gotthold, 'the manuscript of a book of travels.'
'You have read it, Doctor Hohenstockwitz?' asked the Prince.
'Nay, I but saw the title-page,' replied Gotthold. 'But the roll
was given to me open, and I heard no word of any secrecy.'
Otto dealt the Chancellor an angry glance.
'I see,' he went on. 'The papers of an author seized at this date
of the world's history, in a state so petty and so ignorant as
Grunewald, here is indeed an ignominious folly. Sir,' to the
Chancellor, 'I marvel to find you in so scurvy an employment. On
your conduct to your Prince I will not dwell; but to descend to be a
spy! For what else can it be called? To seize the papers of this
gentleman, the private papers of a stranger, the toil of a life,
perhaps - to open, and to read them. And what have we to do with
books? The Herr Doctor might perhaps be asked for his advice; but
we have no INDEX EXPURGATORIUS in Grunewald. Had we but that, we
should be the most absolute parody and farce upon this tawdry
Yet, even while Otto spoke, he had continued to unfold the roll; and
now, when it lay fully open, his eye rested on the title-page
elaborately written in red ink. It ran thus:
OF A VISIT TO THE VARIOUS
COURTS OF EUROPE,
SIR JOHN CRABTREE, BARONET.
Below was a list of chapters, each bearing the name of one of the
European Courts; and among these the nineteenth and the last upon
the list was dedicated to Grunewald.
'Ah! The Court of Grunewald!' said Otto, 'that should be droll
reading.' And his curiosity itched for it.
'A methodical dog, this English Baronet,' said Gotthold. 'Each
chapter written and finished on the spot. I shall look for his work
when it appears.'
'It would be odd, now, just to glance at it,' said Otto, wavering.
Gotthold's brow darkened, and he looked out of window.
But though the Prince understood the reproof, his weakness
prevailed. 'I will,' he said, with an uneasy laugh, 'I will, I
think, just glance at it.'
So saying, he resumed his seat and spread the traveller's manuscript
upon the table.
CHAPTER II - 'ON THE COURT OF GRUNEWALD,' BEING A PORTION OF THE
IT may well be asked (IT WAS THUS THE ENGLISH TRAVELLER BEGAN HIS
NINETEENTH CHAPTER) why I should have chosen Grunewald out of so
many other states equally petty, formal, dull, and corrupt.
Accident, indeed, decided, and not I; but I have seen no reason to
regret my visit. The spectacle of this small society macerating in
its own abuses was not perhaps instructive, but I have found it
The reigning Prince, Otto Johann Friedrich, a young man of imperfect
education, questionable valour, and no scintilla of capacity, has
fallen into entire public contempt. It was with difficulty that I
obtained an interview, for he is frequently absent from a court
where his presence is unheeded, and where his only role is to be a
cloak for the amours of his wife. At last, however, on the third
occasion when I visited the palace, I found this sovereign in the
exercise of his inglorious function, with the wife on one hand, and
the lover on the other. He is not ill-looking; he has hair of a
ruddy gold, which naturally curls, and his eyes are dark, a
combination which I always regard as the mark of some congenital
deficiency, physical or moral; his features are irregular, but
pleasing; the nose perhaps a little short, and the mouth a little
womanish; his address is excellent, and he can express himself with
point. But to pierce below these externals is to come on a vacuity
of any sterling quality, a deliquescence of the moral nature, a
frivolity and inconsequence of purpose that mark the nearly perfect
fruit of a decadent age. He has a worthless smattering of many
subjects, but a grasp of none. 'I soon weary of a pursuit,' he said
to me, laughing; it would almost appear as if he took a pride in his
incapacity and lack of moral courage. The results of his
dilettanteism are to be seen in every field; he is a bad fencer, a
second-rate horseman, dancer, shot; he sings - I have heard him -
and he sings like a child; he writes intolerable verses in more than
doubtful French; he acts like the common amateur; and in short there
is no end to the number of the things that he does, and does badly.
His one manly taste is for the chase. In sum, he is but a plexus of
weaknesses; the singing chambermaid of the stage, tricked out in
man's apparel, and mounted on a circus horse. I have seen this poor
phantom of a prince riding out alone or with a few huntsmen,
disregarded by all, and I have been even grieved for the bearer of
so futile and melancholy an existence. The last Merovingians may
have looked not otherwise.
The Princess Amalia Seraphina, a daughter of the Grand-Ducal house
of Toggenburg-Tannhauser, would be equally inconsiderable if she
were not a cutting instrument in the hands of an ambitious man. She
is much younger than the Prince, a girl of two-and-twenty, sick with
vanity, superficially clever, and fundamentally a fool. She has a
red-brown rolling eye, too large for her face, and with sparks of
both levity and ferocity; her forehead is high and narrow, her
figure thin and a little stooping. Her manners, her conversation,
which she interlards with French, her very tastes and ambitions, are
alike assumed; and the assumption is ungracefully apparent: Hoyden
playing Cleopatra. I should judge her to be incapable of truth. In
private life a girl of this description embroils the peace of
families, walks attended by a troop of scowling swains, and passes,
once at least, through the divorce court; it is a common and, except
to the cynic, an uninteresting type. On the throne, however, and in
the hands of a man like Gondremark, she may become the authoress of
serious public evils.
Gondremark, the true ruler of this unfortunate country, is a more
complex study. His position in Grunewald, to which he is a
foreigner, is eminently false; and that he should maintain it as he
does, a very miracle of impudence and dexterity. His speech, his
face, his policy, are all double: heads and tails. Which of the two
extremes may be his actual design he were a bold man who should
offer to decide. Yet I will hazard the guess that he follows both
experimentally, and awaits, at the hand of destiny, one of those
directing hints of which she is so lavish to the wise.
On the one hand, as MAIRE DU PALAIS to the incompetent Otto, and
using the love-sick Princess for a tool and mouthpiece, he pursues a
policy of arbitrary power and territorial aggrandisement. He has
called out the whole capable male population of the state to
military service; he has bought cannon; he has tempted away
promising officers from foreign armies; and he now begins, in his
international relations, to assume the swaggering port and the
vague, threatful language of a bully. The idea of extending
Grunewald may appear absurd, but the little state is advantageously
placed, its neighbours are all defenceless; and if at any moment the
jealousies of the greater courts should neutralise each other, an
active policy might double the principality both in population and
extent. Certainly at least the scheme is entertained in the court
of Mittwalden; nor do I myself regard it as entirely desperate. The
margravate of Brandenburg has grown from as small beginnings to a
formidable power; and though it is late in the day to try
adventurous policies, and the age of war seems ended, Fortune, we
must not forget, still blindly turns her wheel for men and nations.
Concurrently with, and tributary to, these warlike preparations,
crushing taxes have been levied, journals have been suppressed, and
the country, which three years ago was prosperous and happy, now
stagnates in a forced inaction, gold has become a curiosity, and the
mills stand idle on the mountain streams.
On the other hand, in his second capacity of popular tribune,
Gondremark- is the incarnation of the free lodges, and sits at the
centre of an organised conspiracy against the state. To any such
movement my sympathies were early acquired, and I would not
willingly let fall a word that might embarrass or retard the
revolution. But to show that I speak of knowledge, and not as the
reporter of mere gossip, I may mention that I have myself been
present at a meeting where the details of a republican Constitution
were minutely debated and arranged; and I may add that Gondremark
was throughout referred to by the speakers as their captain in
action and the arbiter of their disputes. He has taught his dupes
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