I.—George William, the elector.
With hasty strides George William, the Elector, paced to and fro the length of his cabinet. His features wore a dark, agitated expression, his blue eyes flashed with indignation and wrath; his hands were folded behind his back, as if he would shut out from sight the paper they held with so firm a grasp, and which he had crumpled within his fist, until it bore greater resemblance to a ball than a letter. Yet he must look at it once more—that unfortunate epistle, which had stirred within him such a tempest of fury; he must withdraw his hands from his back, and again unfold the paper, for nothing else would satisfy his rage.
“Would that I could thus crush between my hands the insolent, seditious authors of this letter!” he murmured, as with a sigh he smoothed the paper and read it over. “I see it plainly,” he said then to himself; “with right unworthy motive, these lords of the duchy of Cleves intend to vex and mortify me. To ask me to give them the Electoral Prince for their stadtholder, to fix his residence among them! That were a fine story forsooth, to send our son away, that he, too, may perchance rebel against us. It is an abominable thing, which I shall never suffer, and I shall forwith give them my mind on the subject.”
He stepped up to the great table of carved oak-wood, took from it a silver whistle, and gave a loud shrill call.
“Are the deputies from the duchy of Cleves already in the antechamber?” he asked of the servant who appeared.
“Yes, your Electoral Highness, they are there.”
“Let them come in! Be quick!”
The lackey stepped back, threw open the folding doors, beckoned into the entrance hall, and with loud voice announced: “The lords of the duchy of Cleves to wait upon his Electoral Highness.”
Four gentlemen entered, attired in gorgeous, richly
They bowed low and most respectfully before the Elector.
George William did not acknowledge this reverential greeting by the slightest inclination of his head, but looked with contracted brow and threatening eyes at the envoys, who had now again lifted up their heads, and met with tranquillity and composure the wrathful glances of the lord of the land, while they seemed to await his permission to penetrate farther into the apartment, and to approach him.
But this permission the Elector did not accord them. He left them standing like humble dependents near the door, and went toward them with long, menacing strides.
“You are the lords from Cleves, who have come to present me this memorial in behalf of the estates?” asked George William in a harsh voice.