But nevertheless the Prince’s information with regard to the affair of Erdberg was not increased.
“Go on!” he cried, impatiently, looking at Jorian and Boris sternly.
They were still silent.
“This officer, Captain Hugo Gottfried,” said the Prince, looking at me, “tells me that the credit of the preservation of the Princess among the cave folk is due to you two brave men.”
“He lies!” said Wendish Jorian, with a face like a blank wall.
“Good!” muttered Boris, approvingly.
“He did it himself!” said Boris, adding, after a pause—“with an axe!”
“Good!” quoth Jorian.
“He cut a calf’s head off!” said Jorian, as a complete explanation of how the preserving of the Princess was effected.
Whereat all laughed, and the Prince more than any. For ever since he drank his first draught of wine, he had begun to mellow.
“Well, hearty fellows, what reward would you have for your great bravery?”
They turned their heads simultaneously inward without moving any other part of their bodies. They nodded to one another.
“Well,” cried the Prince, “what reward do you desire?”
“Now for the Field-Marshal’s wand!” said the Councillor near to me, under his breath.
“Twelve dozen Rhenish!” said Jorian.
The Prince looked at Boris.
“And you?” he said.
“Twelve dozen Rhenish!” said Boris, without moving a muscle.
“God Bacchus!” cried the Prince, “you will empty my cellars between you, and I shall not have a sober archer for a month. But you shall have it. Go!”
Jorian and Boris saluted with a wink to each other as they wheeled, which said, as plain as monk’s script or plainer, “Good!”
THE PRINCE’S COMPACT
In spite of all drawbacks and difficulties (and I had my share of them) I loved Plassenburg. And especially I loved the Prince. The son, so they said, of a miller in the valley of the Almer, he had entered the guard of the last Prince of Plassenburg, much as I had now entered his own service. Prince Dietrich had taken a fancy to him, and advanced him so rapidly that, after the disastrous war with Duke Casimir of the Mark and the death of the last legitimate Prince, Karl, the miller’s son, having set himself to reorganize the army, succeeded so well that it was not long before he found himself the source of all authority in Plassenburg.
Thereafter he gave to the decimated and heartless land adequate defences and complete safety against foreign foes, together with security for life and property, under equal laws, within its own borders. So, in time, no man saying him nay, Karl Miller’s Son became the Prince of Plassenburg, and his seat was more secure upon his throne than that of any legitimate prince for a thousand miles all round about.