You pick them up and weave them into a “nice innocent little influence” for yourself. Eh? An influence that has already earned you three city houses, five estates, and a carriage-and-four. Have a care that the Crown Prince does not auction off all these objects under the gallows-tree some fine day.
Oh, but your Ladyship must have slept badly. Pray spare me these—predictions and prophesyings, which are made up of whole cloth. His Royal Highness the Crown Prince is far too much, of a philosopher to take such revenge on a man who has no more dealings with His Majesty than to fill his pipe each evening, to braid his pigtail each morning, and to shave him in the good old German fashion every second day. Have I made my meaning clear?
[He goes out.]
Go your way, you old sinner! You may pretend to be ever so honest and simple—we know you and your like. Oh, what a life we lead here in this Court! Cannons thunder in the garden under our windows every morning or else they send up a company of soldiers to accustom us to early rising. After the morning prayer the Princess knits, sews, presses her linen, studies her catechism, and, alas! is forced to listen to a stupid sermon every day. At dinner, we get very little to eat; then the King takes his afternoon nap. He’s forever quarreling with the Queen, they have scarcely a good word to say to each other, and yet the entire family are expected to look on at His Majesty’s melodious snore-concert, and even to brush away the flies from the face of the sleeping Father of his country. If my Princess did not possess so much natural wit and spirit, the sweet creature would be quite crushed by such a life. If the King only knew that she is learning French secretly, and can almost write a polite little note already—! I hear her coming.
PRINCESS WILHELMINE comes in, carrying a letter.
Can any one hear us?
Not unless the walls have ears. Is the letter written?
I hardly dare send it, dear Sonnsfeld. I know there are a hundred mistakes in it.
A hundred? Then the letter must be much longer than Your Highness first planned it.
I wrote that I fully appreciate the value of the services offered me, but that my position forces me to refuse any aid to my education which cannot be attained at least by the help of my mother, the Queen.