QUEEN (steps before him).
No, you will not.
You would hinder me from discovering who are enemies of the Crown? I will open that door.
You defy me? You set yourself in opposition to the King?
Yes. I feel within me the power to do it. Ladies, hear now why I invited you to these rooms tonight—why I asked you to appear before your queen. Yes, Sire, the purpose of this hour was that the threads of your political scheming might be torn apart by two hands destined to be united for life.
Wilhelmine, I freed you from a captivity unworthy the daughter of a King. Open that door, Sire; you will find there my nephew, my future son-in-law, the Prince of Wales.
The Prince of Wales!
KING (when he has gained control of himself).
Madame, you have achieved your purpose. You have torn asunder the ties that bound me to my family, that bound me to life. You know that my honor, that my good name, are more to me than all political calculations. You know that this scene here at night, this secret understanding with one who in my eyes is merely an adventurous stranger, has ruined Wilhelmine’s reputation forever. You may enjoy your triumph at your future widow’s-seat, Oranienbaum, to which place I now banish you, according to our House’s laws, for the few remaining years of my life.
WILHELMINE (hurrying to the KING’s side).
No—no, not that.
Madame, admit the Prince of Wales.
The QUEEN, breathing heavily, staggers to the door. After a moment’s upward glance she opens it. The PRINCE OF BAIREUTH comes in, wrapped in a white cloak. HOTHAM follows, carrying a pointed metal helmet, such as belonged to the Prussian uniform of that day. The helmet must not be seen at first.
What? Whom do I see?
The Prince of Baireuth?
Baronet, what does this mean? Where is the Prince of Wales?
Your Majesty, I am all astonishment. I have but just learned that the prince is now on a journey to Scotland.
The Prince is not in Berlin?
While some trustworthy witnesses insist that the Prince was actually here, others again assert that he returned to England the very moment in which he realized that his patriotic interests—the interests of the cotton industry—could not be reconciled with the inclinations of his heart.
And what is the Prince of Baireuth doing here?