GRUMBKOW and SECKENDORF come in. Each carries under his arm a small bundle of red-bound books.
Forgive us, Your Majesty—but it is incredible that such unprecedented crimes should occur in the very bosom of the Royal Family!
What’s the matter now?
Your Majesty has already been informed about the Frenchman who was found wandering through the streets of Berlin without any proper passport or identification, the man who had the temerity to say he had come to teach Princess Wilhelmine his language.
It was only a wigmaker from Orleans.
Oh, but we have discovered further complications, Your Majesty! Books were found in this man’s possession, books which point to a dangerous connection with Rheinsberg.
Convince yourself, Your Majesty. These immoral French writings are all marked with the initials of His Highness the Crown Prince.
Frederic, Prince Royal.
[The KING starts in anger, takes up one of the books and then touches the bell. EVERSMANN comes in.]
Eversman [with conscious impressiveness], my spectacles! [EVERSMANN goes out and returns again with a big pair of glasses.] The Attorney-General must make a thorough examination of this vagrant’s papers.... I will not have these French clowns in my country. [He looks through one of the books.] The Crown Prince’s seal—But no—no ... the vagabond must have stolen it from him.
Or else the books were intended for the Princess’ instruction.
This sort of book? These French—hold! hold! what have we here—is this not the disgusting novel written by the hunchback Scarron, the husband of the fine Madame Maintenon—his notorious satire upon our Court?
GRUMBKOW AND EVERSMANN (together).
KING (turning the leaves).
A satire on us all—on me—on Seckendorf, Grumbkow, Eversmann.
On me, too? KING (serious).
The Crown Prince has underscored most of it, that it may be better understood. Here is a Marshal with the nickname le chicaneur. You know that’s meant for you, Grumbkow.
The Ambassador, Vicomte de la Rancune, otherwise le
That’s you, Seckendorf.
It’s—it’s an international insult.
And he called Eversmann la rapiniere, or, as
we would say, Old
The rogue! And such books find their way into the country—marked properly by the Crown Prince at that!