Likewise, His Majesty the King has graciously pleased to make the following dispositions First grenadier, front! [The first grenadier marches forward with the Bible.] Your Royal Highness is to learn chapters three to five of the Song of Solomon so thoroughly that the Court Chaplain can examine Your Highness in the same tomorrow morning at five o’clock. Second grenadier, front! [The second grenadier comes forward with the soup tureen.] The food ordered for Your Highness will be brought up from the garrison kitchen punctually every day.
SONNSFELD (opens the tureen).
Dreadful stuff! Boiled beans!
Third grenadier, front! [The third grenadier comes forward with the half-knitted stocking.] And, finally, His Majesty the King pleases to command Your Highness to knit, every two days, a pair of woolen stockings for the worthy Foundling Asylum of Berlin. May it please Your Royal Highness—this ends my orders.
SONNSFELD (in a tone of despair).
Princess, are these the King’s plans for your future?
WILHELMINE (trembling in excitement).
Calm yourself, dear friend. Yes, this is the beginning of a new life for me. The battle is on! Go to my father and tell him—
Go to the King and tell him—[To the PRINCESS.] What are they to tell him?
WILHELMINE (with tragic decision).
Tell him that I—
Tell him that we—
That I—[Her courage begins to fail.] That although we will learn the chapters—
And although we will eat the beans—
It will not be our fault if [with renewed courage] if in the despair of our hearts—
We let fall the stitches in the orphan’s stockings—
And wish that we were merely the Princess of Reuss—
Greiz and Lobenstein!
[They go out angrily.]
The PRINCESS’ room. Attractive, cozy apartment. An open window to the right. Doors centre, right and left. A cupboard, a table.
PRINCESS WILHELMINE leans against the window-casing, deep in thought. SONNSFELD sits on the left side of the room, knitting a child’s stocking.
Hour after hour passes! What will the Prince think of me? Or can he have learned my fate already?
Did Your Highness speak?
No, I—I merely sighed.