“If you are still interested in the lady, why don’t you go to Burgundy and try to win her?”
“That would be impossible,” he answered.
“No, no, Max,” I returned, “not impossible—– difficult, perhaps, but certainly not impossible.”
“Ah, Karl, you but raise false hopes,” he responded dolefully.
“You could at least see her,” I returned, ignoring his protest, “and that, I have been told, is much comfort to a lover!”
“Indeed, it would be,” said Max, frankly admitting the state of his heart.
“Or it might be that if you saw her, the illusion would be dispelled.”
“I have little fear of that,” he returned.
“It is true,” I continued, “her father’s domains are the richest on earth. He is proud and powerful, noble and arrogant; but you are just as proud and just as noble as he. You are penniless, and your estate will be of little value; your father is poor, and his mountain crags are a burden rather than a profit; but all Europe boasts no nobler blood than that of your house. Lift it from its penury. You are worthy of this lady, were her estates multiplied tenfold. Win the estates, Max, and win the lady. Many a man with half your capacity has climbed to the pinnacle of fame and fortune, though starting with none of your prestige. Why do you, born a mountain lion, stay mewed up in this castle like a purring cat in your mother’s lap? For shame, Max, to waste your life when love, fortune, and fame beckon you beyond these dreary hills and call to you in tones that should arouse ambition in the dullest breast.”
“Duke Charles has already insulted us,” he replied.
“But his daughter has not,” I answered quickly.
“That is true,” returned Max, with a sigh, “but the Duke of Burgundy would turn me from his gates.”
“Perhaps he would,” I replied, “if you should knock and demand surrender to Maximilian, Count of Hapsburg. Take another name; be for a time a soldier of fortune. Bury the Count of Hapsburg for a year or two; be plain Sir Max Anybody. You will, at least, see the world and learn what life really is. Here is naught but dry rot and mould. Taste for once the zest of living; then come back, if you can, to this tomb. Come, come, Max! Let us to Burgundy to win this fair lady who awaits us and doubtless holds us faint of heart because we dare not strike for her. I shall have one more sweet draught of life before I die. You will learn a lesson that will give you strength for all the years to come, and will have, at least, a chance of winning the lady. It may be one chance in a million; but God favors the brave, and you have no chance if you remain perched owl-like upon this wilderness of rock. Max, you know not what awaits you. Rouse yourself from this sloth of a thousand years, and strike fire from the earth that shall illumine your name to the end of time!”
“But we have no money for our travels, and father has none to give me,” he answered.