Then Your Highness—wishes to speak to—to the King of Prussia?
You heard me say so, did you not? Announce me.
At once, Your Highness. [Turns to go.]
Is this the way to go into your master’s presence? In your shirt-sleeves?
I’m—I’m on a very confidential footing with the King. [He goes out.]
This is a strange Royal Household indeed! The servants stand about the anterooms in their shirt-sleeves—doubtless from motives of economy to save their liveries. Well, the great hour has arrived—the die will fall. Wilhelmine—she—she alone I love—and she is to consent to unite herself to the painted picture of a Prince of Wales—the colored silhouette of an Austrian Arch-Duke whom she has never seen! Ah, no, my fate rests on the Genius of Love—on chance, which may be even kinder to me than I expect. Her parents are of divided minds—thereby do I gain time to win Wilhelmine’s heart—for myself. The King is coming. Now I can listen to his favorable opinions regarding—Austria.
The KING comes in, in dress uniform, with the grand cordon.
PRINCE (looking at him).
Is that not—
You are surprised? It was a slight mistake in identity.
Your Majesty—I am a stranger—
It’s of no consequence. You were deucedly insolent—but my people are thick-skinned. Well—I want to speak to you, my dear Prince of Baireuth. Are you just come from Baireuth?
Yes, Your Majesty—that is, I left Baireuth three years ago.
And where were you all this time?
Ah—you spent much time in England?
I suppose he wants me to help him with Austria, and to disparage England. [Aloud.] In England? Yes, quite time enough to learn all about that unmannerly and extremely ridiculous country and its ways.
What’s that? England ridiculous? Here, here, young friend—we have some distance to go yet before we reach the point where England stands today. H’m—have you been in Italy? Or in Austria—or thereabouts?
Does he favor England? I thought it was Austria—yes, he favors Austria. [Aloud.] Austria? Surely; a wonderful country—such development of industry—and commerce—such life and activity in all directions!
Activity? H’m! The activity in Austria isn’t dangerous yet!
Then he does not favor Austria. I fancy I’m not ingratiating myself at all.