The German Classics of the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries Volume Vii Part 47

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It’s merely a polite hint. Everything is discovered–and not only the matter of _Rapiniere._ His Majesty knows you now as the emissary of the Crown Prince, sent to stir up a revolution here in Berlin and in the palace. The wigmaker confessed it all. I suspected Your Highness from the first. Wish you a pleasant journey to Rheinsberg.

[_He goes out._]

PRINCE.

Betrayed–forsaken by all–

HOTHAM (_coming hastily from the_ QUEEN’S _room_).

 

Good news, Prince. The Princess is under arrest again.

PRINCE.

And you call that good news, traitor!

HOTHAM.

There is more, Prince. The traitor is pleased to hear that you also have fallen under the ban of the royal displeasure.

PRINCE.

You are pleased to hear that?

HOTHAM.

The traitor a.s.sures you on his honor that there could be no better means of fulfilling your heart’s desire.

PRINCE.

Would you drive me mad?

HOTHAM.

To throw a preliminary cold shower on your doubt [_looks about cautiously_] kindly read this portion of a letter I have but just received.

PRINCE.

A billet-doux from your Prince of Wales?

HOTHAM.

Read it, please.

PRINCE (_reads_).

“London, June the fifth–“

HOTHAM (_indicating a line lower down_).

There–read there.

PRINCE (_reads_).

“You ask for news from court. We are very poor in such news just now.

The Prince of Wales is still hunting wild boars in the Welsh mountains.”

The Prince is–not in Berlin?

HOTHAM (_still cautious, but smiling_).

Just as little as you are in the Palace of St. James at this moment.

PRINCE.

But what am I to think? What am I to believe?

HOTHAM.

You are to believe that you could well afford to place more confidence in Hotham’s friendship, devotion–and cleverness.

PRINCE.

The Prince of Wales is not in Berlin?

HOTHAM.

H’st! _We_ know he is not here–but he _is_ here for all the others. The Prince of Wales is here, there, behind the screen, up the chimney, in the air, under the earth, nowhere where he would be in our way, but anywhere where we might need him for the merriest comedy in all the world.

PRINCE.

Hotham! Then I am not deceived in your friendship?

HOTHAM.

Just as little, since our commercial treaty is doomed, as I am mistaken in your chances, despite arrest and displeasure. But come now, come to that friendly goblin who will work for us–to the mysterious spirit on whose account we will keep this corner of the world in anxiety and terror–your doughty rival but your still doughtier ally.

PRINCE (_in laughing surprise_).

You mean?

HOTHAM.

The Prince of Wales. [_They both go out._]

ACT IV