Princess, is this your farewell—while I prepare to meet death or despair?
It’s not so easy to die in Vienna.
And you believe that I will leave you now, when the glamour of the personal presence of a Prince of Wales may dazzle your eye—perhaps even your heart?
I must, I realize it now, begin to consider my heart only from the political point of view.
You doubt my sincerity, Princess? You distrust a heart which has truly loved but once—once and for all time—loved you, Wilhelmine!
Can such language be deception?
I realize what I owe to you, Princess. Frankness before the world, an honest suit for your hand—even in face of the danger of losing you forever. I will go to the King. I will tell him, yes, I will tell him now that I cannot do as he wishes. I will throw myself at his feet and confess with honest sincerity that I love you. Do you wish it?
You are trembling, Princess. Oh, I know your dutiful heart shudders at the thought of defying your parents, of following the call of your own inclination. But—tell me, do you trust your father’s heart?
It is full of kindness and love.
Very well, then. He has honored me, he has shown confidence in me; the arrival of the Prince of Wales provokes him to rebuke such hardiness. I will show him what is in my heart, and then, Wilhelmine—then? If he refuse the hand I ask—
WILHELMINE (turning from him).
You will—find consolation?
And if he grant it?
WILHELMINE (overcome by her emotion, allows her heart full sway, but is still roguish and maidenly).
Then—I fear that you will not keep your word—to punish me for torturing you so cruelly.
[She goes out quickly.]
She loves me. Then one thing is sure! I will now take the straight road into the very jaws of the lion. What else remains? Betrayed by Hotham, there is naught but Wilhelmine’s love—and my own courage.
[He goes toward the KING’S door.]
EVERSMANN comes from the KING’S room.
Whither, Your Highness?
To the King.
You will find him very angry.
Angry at whom?
Angry at you, Prince.
You are joking!