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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 474 pages of information about The German Classics of the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries, Volume 07.

PRINCE.

Princess! [Aside.] What can I do—­it is too much joy—­too much bliss! [Aloud.] Princess! the green garlands on the little window down there, the potted flowers offer a secret retreat—­the little linnet in his cage is impatient for the return of his beautiful and benign mistress.

WILHELMINE (drawing her hand from his).

You would—­

PRINCE.

I would take the place of that misjudged and slandered scholar.  And down there, alone with you, not worried by threatening footfalls in the corridors, undisturbed by [noise of drums outside] those cruel guardians of your freedom, I would tell the most charming Princess of Europe that—­

WILHELMINE.

You have nothing to tell me—­nothing at all.

PRINCE (throws himself at her feet).

I would tell her that there is one Prince who, although he will one day reign over no more than a tiny plot of German earth, still can gather from the spell of her beauty, the kindness of her heart, the courage to say to her—­I love you—­I worship you.

WILHELMINE.

Prince, what are you doing—­please arise—­some one is coming!

PRINCE.

Not until you promise me you will meet me there.

WILHELMINE.

Oh—­if we should be surprised like this!  Please get up!

PRINCE.

You will promise?  You will meet me?

WILHELMINE.

Where? [He points to the window.] There?  But I am not alone even there.

PRINCE.

Those simple people are overjoyed when their Princess consents to linger an hour with them in their poverty.  I have much to say to you, Princess, very much.  I will tell you of the plans concerning England or Austria of which you are the central figure.  And you must tell me again—­in the very best style of Versailles, which I know thoroughly—­that you hate me—­that you detest me—­

WILHELMINE.

Prince, you torture me—­I hear voices.  Some one is approaching—­Please get up.

PRINCE.

Will you promise?

WILHELMINE.

Cruel one!  You won’t get up—­

PRINCE.

Not until you promise—­

WILHELMINE.

If you promise to talk only about the plans that concern me—­and about
French grammar—­

PRINCE (springing up).

You promise?  You will come?  By every star in the firmament I swear I will begin with the verb J’aime—­I love—­and you shall see how, in comparison with the language of a devoted heart, in comparison with the art which unadorned nature can practise, even Voltaire is only—­a wigmaker. [He goes out.]

SCENE IX

The noise of drums in the distance is no longer heard. WILHELMINE left alone, starts as if to follow the PRINCE. Then she turns back hesitating, and walks with uncertain steps to the table.  She rings the bell. SONNSFELD comes in, looks at the Princess as if surprised, speaks after a pause.

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