KING (after a pause).
What hour is it?
Eleven past, Your Majesty. (Aside.) If we should
meet the Prince of
Wales now, woe unto him.
KING (taking a tankard from the table).
Prince, when you have come to your senses tomorrow, let them tell you that the King touched glasses with you.
At Your Majesty’s service.
He doesn’t understand, Hotham. Translate it into sober language for him. Good night, gentlemen. [He turns again and looks at the PRINCE thoughtfully, repeating the words.] “Does my choice make you happy, child?” [Looking at the PRINCE.] Pity he’s only a bookish man.
[EVERSMANN takes up a candlestick with officious haste, brushes angrily past the triumphant HOTHAM and throws a glance of suppressed rage at the PRINCE.]
May I light Your Majesty—on your visit to—
KING (interrupts him with the PRINCE’S words).
“These minions tremble—” [After a pause, during which he glances over them all] I would be alone. [He goes out.]
A drawing-room in the QUEEN’s apartments. A window to the right. Three doors, centre, right, and left. Tables and chairs. Candles on the tables, playing-cards, and tea service.
KAMKE stands on a step-ladder fastening a large curtain over the window. Two lackeys are assisting him.
KAMKE (on the ladder).
There! And now be ready to receive the ladies at the little side stairway. They will arrive in sedan chairs. No noise, do you hear—softly—softly. [The lackeys go out.]
SONNSFELD (comes in from the left).
Ah, at last a festival of which the Prussian Court
need not be ashamed.
Kamke, why are you draping that window?
So that our festival may not be observed. [Coming down off the ladder.] Then you too are concerned in this conspiracy?
The Queen has taken all responsibility. She risks her own freedom for that of her daughter, and will receive the Prince of Wales tonight in strictest incognito. Is everything in readiness?
You’re planning to free the Princess from her imprisonment? That is high treason, remember.
It must succeed, at whatever cost. The Queen wishes to see the Princess amid the circle of friends whom she has invited this evening for a secret purpose. The Princess has been instructed. She knows that I will come to her room and remain there in her place to deceive the sentry. She will meet you in the Blue Room.