I shall be most eagerly anxious to justify Your Majesty’s confidence. [Aside.] Good Heavens!
Let me then inform you of a secret but completed negotiation in which all the nearest relatives of our house have already taken part, and into the nature of which I now initiate you, too, as my son’s friend. My daughter is to become the wife of my nephew, the Prince of Wales; she will therefore be the future Queen of England.
Zounds! A nice rival this!
So you see, Prince, the importance of the issue involved! Will you consent to mediate this question—a question of such importance to all Europe—with my husband?
I? With the King? Mediate? Oh, of course, Your Majesty, with the greatest pleasure! [Aside.] What a detestable errand!
Very well, then you can begin at once. The King will be here shortly. Introduce yourself to him. Use this favorable moment to draw from him an expression of his opinion concerning the throne of England, and let me know the result at once.
I am still quite bewildered by this—this flattering commission. And when may I pay my respects to Your Majesty again?
At almost any time. But I should prefer the evening hours, when those on whom I can rely gather around me, while the King is with those persons whom I mentioned a short time ago. Farewell now, my dear Prince of—oh, dear me, now my son has forgotten to write me whether it is Ansbach or Baireuth that you inherit. It is so easy to confuse these little principalities. Ansbach—Baireuth—Ansbach—yes, that was it. Very well, my dear Prince of Ansbach, remember, Prussia, Hanover and England!
[She bows to him with proud condescension and goes out.]
The future Queen of England! And I—the Hereditary Prince of Ansbach! That was a cruel blow of fate. And I am to mediate these matters of international importance! This angelic being, whom I love more madly with every breath I draw—this exquisite sister of my dear Frederick—is destined to become a victim of political intrigue? Oh no, she cannot possibly love the Prince of Wales; she has never seen him. But will they consult her inclination? Will cold considerations of politics heed the cry of her heart?—The parade is over, the suite is entering the castle; I dare not meet the king now in this excited mood.
[He looks about as if seeking some means of escape. EVERSMANN comes in carrying a large book. He has a pen stuck in behind one ear. He crosses to the door through which the QUEEN has gone out.]
[EVERSMANN looks the PRINCE over from head to foot, moves forward a few paces, then halts again.]