“I think I have distressed and tormented him enough,” said the count to himself; “he will devise some means of gratifying my wishes, and in his despair will risk everything in order to obtain his wife and child. It is well that men have hearts, for they supply the most convenient handles for seizing hold of them and managing them. And for that reason men without susceptible hearts always become rulers, conquerors. Therefore have I become great and powerful, and will ascend yet higher, grow yet more mighty, for I, thank God! I have no heart! I have never been a victim to the silly vagaries of an enamored heart, never made a fool of myself for any woman; never have I felt my heart moved by any other desire than that of attaining a pre-eminent position and becoming a great man. Such I have become, but I would mount yet higher, and in this—in this that enamored fool Gabriel Nietzel shall assist me.”
The count grew suddenly silent, and looked toward the door. In the antechamber he had heard the sound of a voice familiar and grateful to his ears, a voice which awakened in his breast a rare and unwonted feeling of joy and happiness. “My son,” he murmured, “yes, it is my son. I really believe that I have a heart at last, for I feel it beat higher just now, and feel that it is a happiness to have a son!”
He hastily crossed the room, and had almost reached the door, when it suddenly opened and revealed the presence of a tall and slender young man, dressed in the elegant Spanish garb, such as was worn at the court of the German Emperor Ferdinand III.
“Father, dear father!” he cried, with a voice full of tenderness, and with outstretched arms he sped toward his father to press him to his heart. Count Adam von Schwarzenberg smilingly submitted, and an infinite feeling of satisfaction penetrated his whole being under the warm pressure of his only son’s embrace. But only one short instant did he yield to this sensation, for he was ashamed of his weakness, and gently extricated himself from his son’s arms.
“Here you are again, you gadabout and rover!” he said; but he could not subdue the brighter glistening of his eyes, as they fastened themselves upon his son’s handsome, spirited, and youthful face.
“Yes, here I am again, cher et aimable pere,” exclaimed the young man, laughing; “but you do me great injustice by calling me a gadabout and rover, for, indeed, I have only traveled on most serious and proper business, and it strikes me that I am vastly to be feared and honored in my capacity of imperial treasurer and member of the Aulic council.”
“What?” cried Count Adam joyfully, “the Emperor has conferred upon you such a high favor and honored you with such lofty titles?”
The young count nodded assent. “In me he has honored my father’s son,” said he, “and distinguished me out of veneration and respect for you.”